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Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect) smiling shadowed face

Miranda Lawson

(part #2)


Context

This article is the second half of her profile. Meaning it should be read right after the first half of .


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History (continued)

Project Lazarus will now proceed as planned (part 1)

By that time, Lazarus was go. Lawson put her cutting edge scientific staff to work. She studied biology so she could personally monitor, double-check and direct their efforts. Dozens of Lazarus researchers toiled for two years on reconstructing and resurrecting Commander Shepard.

Rapidly becoming a superior biologist, Miranda did opt for the organic/synthetic fusion path. Over hundreds of surgeries and biology projects, Shepard’s body was rebuilt.

As the Lazarus Project started looking like a success, other Cerberus projects were launched. These would provide Commander Shepard with the means of fighting the agents of the Reapers when she’d be back.

Project Lazarus will now proceed as planned (part 2)

Being a control freak, Miranda wanted to implant Shepard with a control chip. By which she presumably meant a dozen different means of keeping Commander Shepard in her power. But the Illusive Man absolutely forbade it.

He specifically wanted the original back with as few alterations as possible. That was to preserve whichever mysterious quality allowed Shepard to keep winning against impossible odds.

Despite the control chip idea, Miranda Lawson genuinely admired the legendary Commander Shepard. She knew the half-suppressed truth about how the Commander had saved the galaxy.


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During Project Lazarus Lawson learned everything there was to learn about her as she designed tests. These would establish whether the person that would wake up at the end of Project Lazarus had all the memories and personality of the actual Commander Shepard.

Lawson shared the Illusive Man’s assessment that only Shepard could do the job. But she also saw in the Staff Commander a strange reflection of herself as a perfect Human.

Night of the living dead

As often with Cerberus, the project went bad. A traitor had been injected high up into Lawson’s staff. Wilson , her chief medical officer, had been a Shadow Broker double agent for years. When it became clear that Lazarus would succeed within a few days, Wilson was given his kill order.

He used a backdoor into the Lazarus Station’s ample mech security force, turning them against Miranda’s people. Cell Lazarus was taken cold and massacred.

Miranda Lawson talking

Before everything could be lost Miranda remotely woke Commander Shepard up. The reconstruction was not finished and the Commander looked closer to a zombie than a person. But Lawson had to gamble that there was enough of her in the undead-like body to save the day, and that they could finish the reconstruction elsewhere.

Miranda had her staff engage the mechs in a suicide battle to keep the robots out of Shepard’s way. She sacrificed everything and everyone to save her work.

(Having Shepard come back only partially finished is a cosmetic variant unique to this specific version of Shepard, not game canon.)

Enters the dragon

Lawson had made the correct call. The heavier mechs were busy massacring her staff, and the lighter mechs didn’t stand a chance against the shambling Commander Shepard.

Lawson maintained radio contact long enough to guide the Commander toward Jacob Taylor, who had been fighting his way toward the lab holding Shepard. Taylor and Zombie Shepard then shot their way to the shuttles bay. They correctly assumed that this also was Lawson’s destination.

Miranda Lawson, Kasumi and Commander Shepard aim their guns

Miranda repelled the mechs trying to kill her, made her way to the shuttles and slew Wilson. She then evacuated Lazarus Station along with Taylor and Commander Shepard. She told the reticent revenant that possible survivors aboard the station would rather die than have Shepard re-killed in an attempt to save them.

Lawson and Taylor retreated to another secret Cerberus base. There, Miranda successfully finished reconstructing Commander Shepard with the help of Dr. Chakwas, formerly of Shepard’s crew.

After two difficult weeks of physical and psychological adjustment, plus some tests, Miranda knew that she had achieved the impossible.

Commander Shepard was back.


Description

Lawson speaks with a Main Australian/Sydney accent. She occasionally uses Australian phrases (such as calling Omega Station  a “pisshole”).

Her voice, accent and facial features are those of Yvonne Strahovski , perhaps best known back then as Sarah Walker  in Chuck. The hair colour was changed to contrast with the white uniform and the face is for some reason a mite broader. But the modelling kept Ms. Strahovski two lil’ front teeth.

Miranda has a fair complexion, perfect skin and perfect hair. She uses next to no makeup. Presumably her stance is that you can’t improve on perfection.

Lawson’s body is an improbable array of spectacular curves — a comic book physique. Her skin-tight catsuit is itself comic-book-ish (including heels). It makes her exact gender — and her anatomy’s propensity for the superiorly-placed, powerfully-developed and nigh-spherical — amply clear.

Comments abound as to Lawson’s vestimentary choices and how they highlight her astonishing constitution. Usually outside of her hearing range and about her derrière.

Here is a fan-made trailer with numerous examples of Miranda’s voice, accent and appearance :

 

Armour up !

As noted in the game stats and our main Mass Effect 2 article, we postulate that squad members do not enter combat missions unarmoured. We assume that they are wearing armour that is not rendered in the game. Mass Effect 3 has detailed models of Cerberus armour that can be used as a base for the sort of suit Miranda would wear.

The sidebar thus includes a picture of Cerberus sniper armour since it is a likely choice. It is a light and agile suit of armour. And the visible sensors and targeting systems evoke Miranda’s role in making the unit she’s with shoot straighter.

The design is also compatible with Bioware’s skeevy fixation on showing off Miranda’s remarkable T&A. We *get it*, Bioware guys. Really, we do. Sheesh.


Personality

(This section assumes a specific personality for Commander Shepard, as with all our Mass Effect articles. Otherwise stuff’s unworkable.)

Miranda almost always projects a specific personality. She’s the sarcastic bossy can-do ice queen with superior intelligence. Everything about her screams that she’s smart, in control, better than you and infallible.

Such a behaviour would normally be blatant overcompensation. But in her case most people buy it since she can walk the walk. She does have the intellect, presence, perceptiveness and resolve to back her persona.

Zealot

Miranda also presents herself as holier-than-you when it comes to supporting Cerberus and its ideals. She understands how the organisation works. Thus, she wraps herself in the guise of a perfect, model Cerberus true believer to have the organisation’s credibility reinforce her own.

She doesn’t do it as a wild-eyed fanatic, but as a smart person who understands what’s really going on, and how it’s a tough galaxy out there. She constantly rationalises Cerberus’ most hideous crimes.

It is unclear whether she actually believes her own oh-so-reasonable points about Cerberus and the Illusive Man. But she certainly wants to.

Miranda Lawson face closeup

“Ruthless ice-cold snarky IQ 180+ bastard” is the only thing that Lawson will let the vast majority of people see. Even those who have worked with her for years.

Words relating to female canines frequently come up when describing her. Especially from men who’d appreciate a more in-depth knowledge of Miranda and are made to understand that she’s laughably out of their league.

Lawson apparently works all the time. She has very long days. She handles enormous amounts of data to build up mission intelligence, and for administrative matters such as mission reports. Her personal desks sports four computer terminals. Presumably because she works that quickly and is exceptional at multi-tasking. It seems nearly as bad as working on writeups.org.

Miranda prefers to do things herself and doesn’t trust outside agents. Since she’s normally much more competent than they are. This is not true with the formidable Jacob, though.

Once Commander Shepard is back and starts recruiting Miranda becomes surrounded by people who operate at roughly her level if not higher. This seems to be new and uncomfortable for her.

Prodigal

Miranda’s persona actually is a sort of overcompensation. She does have serious issues. She’s not weak by any reasonable definition, but her unique nature and upbringing resulted in a shipload of neuroses.

The core of her issues is her designed nature. Miranda was grown to specs to be perfect. She often makes smug statements about her strength, her smarts, her looks, her biotics, her health and so on. Yet she actually feels that none of these things are hers since they were bestowed to her from birth.

Miranda also feels that her successes are not hers, since they all were facilitated by the varied assets her “father” granted her. She didn’t fairly earn them.

This just leaves her with ownership of her failures. This is particularly bad as her upbringing left her convinced that she’s meant to be perfect, infallible and better than everyone. In her universe, failure is a terrible and monstrous thing.

There’s thus a loop where she chases impossible standards of perfection for herself, and sees herself as a set of expensive specifications rather than as a person.

Objectified

Miranda relentlessly self-objectifies. She speaks of herself as if she were a tool to be used. Or maybe a sexy toy doll or an exceptionally smart pet. She seldom speaks about herself, but when she does this self-objectification starts looking like overconfidence. Then verges into the neurotic. Then appears as self-loathing.

Miranda Lawson sitting in her black uniform

Her clothing reflects this. She doesn’t see her body as her body, but as a thing she was given. She enjoys flaunting to prove how perfect she is. She also dresses that way since her self-objectification issues apparently lead to seeing herself as a reward for those men worthy of her. She wants the value of the prize to be clear.

Lawson’s obsessions about herself as a sort of perfect, hollow statue endure until she meets Shepard.

Elle se dit l’élite

An important drive of Miranda’s is to find peers. Normal people just suck compared to her. She can’t spend her life awash in a sea of stupidity and incompetence.

This is a large part of why she attached herself to the Illusive Man. He is a man of genuinely superior charisma and intellect living among the elite. Working for Cerberus’ more complex projects also increase her chances to work with competent people. Such as the doctors hired to resurrect Commander Shepard – or Jacob Taylor.

Miranda sheds a tear

Aside from the Illusive Man and Jacob, Miranda doesn’t quite find a peer until she hears about Shepard. Some of her comments hint that a key motivation for Miranda when running Cell Lazarus may have been to meet Commander Shepard. Shepard even more impressive than Lawson, and is known for her quasi-sorcerous competence.

Miranda’s odds of meeting peers are diminished by her sneering condescension. She always looks for weaknesses and imperfection in others so as to affirm her superiority. Lawson is not very good at admitting that other persons are smart too.

Lawson is also a Human supremacist… at least on paper. She didn’t actually demonstrate racism toward any of the aliens Shepard recruited on her team. One gets the impression that Miranda isn’t really an anti-alien racist. She seems to just talk the talk as part of her image as a true blue Cerberus officer.

Since Cell Lazarus didn’t seem political and even counted xenophiles (such as the pansexual Yeoman Kelly Chambers), Miranda presumably didn’t play that part of her role with her staff. Miranda even told the asariophile Commander Shepard that she admired Asari ingenuity. Yet when she was operating with Cerberus troops she affected a racist and insulting attitude toward Dr. T’Soni.

We be the crew

Still, Lawson doesn’t seem terribly comfortable on the Normandy. She’s soon outshone by Commander Shepard without fully understanding the dynamics at work. And the Commander is recruiting people who are Miranda’s peers or even betters (such as Professor Solus) which threatens her superiority.

Since she has bugs everywhere, Miranda is well-aware of how the crew gradually stops referring to the commanding staff as “Lawson and Shepard”. And how they become the Normandy chapter of the Commander Shepard Fan Club.

Furthermore, her first reaction to a peer is that they’re a potential danger and need to be manipulated, kept in the dark and surveilled. She’s worked with Cerberus since she was a teenager. This is thus a deeply-etched reflex, much like the proverbial scorpion’s sting.

She placed listening bugs everywhere and likely hacked everybody’s e-mail, because that’s what Miranda Lawson does. She’s an intelligence freak in the way other people are control freaks. Or rather, she’s both.

She’s my heroine (part 1)

Miranda sincerely admires Shepard. She is proud to state that she spent two years of her life working 24/7 to bring back the living legend to save Humanity. However, Miranda is not a megalomaniac like the Illusive Man. Thus, she realises that bringing Commander Shepard back means riding the tiger.

The Commander will simply never work for Cerberus. Once Miranda witnesses Shepard in action, she suspects that if the Commander does turn against Cerberus, the game’s over for the conspiracy.

Furthermore, she’s soon taken aback by the crushing charisma Commander Shepard evidences as she recovers. Trust is largely alien to Miranda. Seeing so many gladly put their lives in Shepard’s hands — and feeling the effects of Commander Shepard’s presence herself — is a shock.

Miranda grows envious. But envy doesn’t really take hold. What rises instead is a feeling of being a failure. The supposedly peerless Lawson evidently lacks Shepard’s unique magnetism.

What Miranda never suspected — despite having extensively studied the Commander’s leadership style — is that she would side with Commander Shepard against Cerberus.

She’s my heroine (part 2)

Shepard ignores Miranda’s ice-hard smug genius persona after about five minutes. The Staff Commander makes it clear that no matter what she’s not treating Lawson like an instrument or a weapon, but as a person, a peer and preferably a friend.

At first the Cerberus-hardened Miranda assumes that it’s some kind of manipulation. But she soon realises that Commander Shepard genuinely cares for her despite Lawson’s attitude.

Miranda Lawson and Commander Shepard pointing their guns

From then on, Lawson struggles with :

  1. Working along a group of peers.
  2. Being valued for whom she is rather than what she is.
  3. The weight of decades of denial about Cerberus.

She eventually concludes that it boils down to a choice between two towering figures – the Illusive Man or Shepard. And one of the two is never going to betray her, never going to abandon her, never going to exploit her. And will never sacrifice her like a pawn.

She’s my heroine (part 3)

This gels when the most important person in Miranda’s life — Oriana — is threatened. Miranda then makes a very difficult decision. With Oriana at stake Miranda wants the very best protection possible. She wants Commander Shepard, the ultimate soldier, to be the one protecting her kid sister. Rather than the far more fallible Cerberus forces.

In so doing Lawson picks her side for the inevitable clash once the mission is over. In deciding that the one she trusts to save her sister is Shepard, Miranda turns her back on a life spent serving Cerberus.

Commander Shepard ends up in Lawson’s bed for one night after she reestablishes contact with Dr. T’Soni. But it’s just a hug and a big cry, as far as the huge quantities of alcohol drunk that night will allow Shepard or Lawson to remember.

This brief episode lifts blocks in Miranda’s encumbered mind. It brings closure to the odd sense of ownership she developed about Commander Shepard by recreating her. And seeing the invincible force of nature and saviour of the galaxy stinking drunk and lamentably weeping in her arms about Dr. T’soni brings perspective to Miranda’s own moments of weakness and loneliness.

(That specific incident is embellishment. It was inspired but tinkering with spoofing gender information in the game, to see how it affects romance paths.)

Love deluxe

Miranda’s issues mean that she has no meaningful private life. Almost nobody wants to be the snippy ice queen’s friend. And she strongly feels that any man in her life would have to be worthy of her.

The catch is that her romantic exigences are nigh-impossible to match. A man has to meet unearthly standards of physical health, and demonstrate very specific behaviours, just to be greenlighted for sex. They have to meet an impossible set of specs just like Miranda did while she was being incubated.

In practice, this just leaves Miranda very lonely and with poorly handled and unprocessed relationships, such as her time with Jacob. It seems that part of her never got over being dumped by her lieutenant and still loves him. Thus, she created a weird mini-conspiracy to help him in secret then passively-aggressively admit that it was her all along.

She explained that she was “paying her debts”. Yet Jacob couldn’t remember such a debt between them. Though he pointed out that Miranda has perfect recall for this sort of things and he doesn’t, it seems likely that Miranda made the “debt” up. Or perhaps she was referring to her inability to get over Jacob.

Prodigal progeny

Some logs imply that she picks up semi-random guys on Extranet dating sites reserved to the moneyed elites, as long as they pass some less-stringent standards and release their medical records. She’s not there to talk, just to have sex.

Depending on the relative timing of the logs, it was to fulfill her physical needs, or to get pregnant – or both. Miranda seemed determined to have children, and this was apparently a reason for the strict set of medical criteria she demanded from potential suitors.

Why she wanted children was not discussed. Furthermore, Miranda then discovered that she was sterile due to her unique genetics. It is implied that this was a serious blow to her. But given her serious neuroses, one shudders to think about what sort of mother she would have been.

Sister Salvation (part 1)

Miranda loves her “sister” Oriana more than everything. Oriana occupies a unique role. She’s essentially Miranda’s other self – uncorrupted by Henry Lawson or by the Illusive Man. She is thus pure, healthy and free.

Miranda seems to consider that she spent her whole life dealing in terrorism, wetwork and espionage to guarantee that Oriana would untouched by all this. She would become the person Miranda could have been.

There’s a faint undertone of Miranda considering that Oriana is the “real” her, the untainted one. When explaining the life she had engineered for Oriana, Miranda kept using the word “normal”.

On the one occasion in almost 20 years where Miranda and Oriana were in the same place, Miranda was unable to walk to Oriana and meet her. She brainlocked on the notion that she was a bad person and would just mess her little sister’s life up. Miranda was so shaken that she openly cried and ended up knocking herself out by drinking. And given her endurance, that took a lot of booze.

Sister Salvation (part 2)

Oriana was exactly Miranda as a 19-year old, but looking well-adjusted and with caring parents. Miranda seemed overcome with shame at what she had become to survive and protect her other self.

Everyone (except Shepard and presumably Taylor) would unhesitatingly describe Lawson as being shameless in every sense of the word. Yet this seems to be a precisely wrong assessment of whom Miranda actually is.

After she breaks free from the Illusive Man, catches a glimpse of her sister and finishes processing Commander Shepard treating her like a person rather than a tool (and an ally in saving the galaxy rather than a terrorist and murderer), Miranda is left with her entire life to reinvent.

There is still a very important thing to deal with, though. The megalomaniac who created her.


Quotes

“Cerberus isn’t as evil as most people believe. If I can help allay any of your concerns, I’d be happy to do so.”

“We’re all hoping that you can do the impossible, Shepard. No pressure.”

(Smugly) “Worried about my qualifications ? I can crush a mech with my biotics or shoot its head off at a hundreds yards. Take your pick.”

“I’m never wrong. I thought you’d have learned that by now, Jacob.”

“Omega [Station]. What a pisshole. At least it keeps you on your toes.”

“I didn’t get to where I am without knowing how to gauge people’s motives and ambitions.”

“I’m very good at just about anything I choose to do. My reflexes, my strength, even my looks – they’re all designed to give me an edge. It’s the reason I’m trusted to oversee the most dangerous, risky and technically demanding operations Cerberus undertakes. Everyone expects a lot from someone with my… abilities.”

Commander Shepard: “You talk about yourself like you’re just a… tool to be used. By your father. By Cerberus.”
Miranda: “Maybe. I like to know where I fit in the world. It helps me find meaning in how I was created.”

(With almost painful reluctance) “Shepard, I find myself in the… unpleasant position of asking for your help. I don’t like discussing personal matters but… this is important.”

“It’s always been like this. My father gave me anything I wanted, but there was always a hook, an angle for his long-term plan. I threw away everything he ever gave me when I ran.”

“I… I don’t have that fire you have, that makes people want to follow you. My father gave me the best genes money could buy. I guess that… it wasn’t enough.”

(To Commander Shepard) “The intelligence, the looks, even the biotics… [Henry Lawson] paid for that.” (beat) “Every one of your accomplishments is due to your skills. The only things I can claim credit for are my mistakes.”

(About Oriana) “She’ll never know me, which is for the best. No chance of me putting her in danger.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Miranda

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 04 Occupation: Cerberus officer
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 018 HP: 050

Powers:
Biotic Lift: 06, Biotic Slam: 08, ME2 Biotic Warp: 09, ME2 Defence (Barrier): 10, Recall: 07, Regeneration: 02, Systemic antidote: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Recall is a Skilled Power.
  • Regeneration and Systemic Antidote are Form Function.

Skills:
Accuracy (Biotics): 07, Charisma: 05, Detective (ID systems, Legwork): 05, Gadgetry: 04, Medicine: 05, Military science (Cryptography): 08, Military science (Field command): 04, Scientist: 06, Scientist (Computers): 08, Thief (Forgery, Stealth): 05, Vehicles: 05, Weaponry (Handguns): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations.

Advantages:
Attractive, Credentials (Cerberus, Medium ; Cerberus Cell Lazarus, High), Expertise (Biology, Espionage/Surveillance, Mathematics), Lightning Reflexes, Omni-Connection.

Connections:
Illusive Man (Low), Jacob Taylor (High), Staff Commander Shepard (High), Underworld (Low), Street (Low), Mercenary Scene (Low), Systems Alliance military (Low), Systems Alliance administration (Low).

Drawbacks:
Dependent (Oriana), Secret Identity (must maintain Cerberus security and secrecy at all times), Misc.: Miranda is sterile, Misc.: Miranda’s HP expenditures are penalised by one Genre if she’s not given a purpose by an authority figure.

Equipment:

  • OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 18, Fabricate: 01, Radio communication: 16, Superspeed: 02, Misc.: Translation database, Limitation: Fabricate is limited to Doodads (but those are permanent, and unlimited in number given enough omni-gel), Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool]. This is a high-end omni-tool. Beyond these basic functions, Miranda uses her omni-tool for the following specialised roles :
    • Regeneration: 05 (Linked with Medicine, Usable on Others, Ammo: 07).
    • Mental Blast: 10 (Mental blast only vs. kinetic shields and synthetics, Mental Blast is a Mass Effect attack, Mental Blast cannot get Knockback, Mental Blast is its own AV).
    • Neutralise: 10 (Can only affect Mass Effect-powered weapons, for a maximum of three Phases. It is a Mass Effect attack and acts as its own AV.).
    • Enchantment: 01 (Usable on Others, but can only increase the Projectile Weapons APs of a specific firearm. Miranda must spend an Automatic Action each Phase to maintain the Enchantment).
  • M9 Tempest submachinegun [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 04, Ammo: 10, R#02, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Advantage: Autofire].
  • M6 Carnifex hand cannon [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 04, Ammo: 6, R#02, Rec. STR 03, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
  • CATSUIT [BODY 06, Cold immunity: 01, Flame immunity: 02, Skin armour: 02, ME2 Defense (Shield): 05, Note: the CATSUIT cannot stack any of its defensive attributes with the ARMOUR below, as usual.]
  • CUSTOM CERBERUS SNIPER BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 10 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 03, Flame immunity: 03, Invulnerability: 05, Lightning immunity: 03, ME2 Defense (Shield): 10, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Regeneration: 05, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 02, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Invulnerability takes five minutes per roll, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin Armour doesn’t work vs. Blunt or Structural damage]. This armour is not displayed in game, but is assumed to be present in-universe.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy and comics – through at this point this entry doesn’t cover ME3.

Helper(s): Darci. The brief recap of the Mass Effect Galaxy events based on the Mass Effect Wikia’s account, since none of us played this (now unavailable) game. Enhanced textures by Jean-Luc Fortier.

Writeup completed on the 20th of February, 2013.

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