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Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect) arms crossed

Miranda Lawson


Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.


  • There are S P O I L E R S in this thing, though it only covers ME2 for now.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Miranda Lawson.
  • Other Aliases: Prodigal (Cerberus callsign).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Henry Lawson (“father”), Oriana (“twin sister”).
  • Group Affiliation: Cerberus.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the Normandy SR2.
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Eyes: Steel blue Hair: Luscious dark brown


Powers & Abilities

Miranda is genetically enhanced all over. Her strength, health, biotic potential, deductive and inductive intelligence, reflexes, physique, endurance, coordination, pulchritude, life expectancy, fitness, etc. are all in the peak human range.

She heals much faster than unenhanced persons, and will pass age 200 in excellent health – in the unlikely case she’s not killed before.

Her raw abilities allow her to excel at anything with but a few years of study and practice. She’s thus a superior special operative, manager, gunfighter, biotic combattant, data analyst and spy. Furthermore, she masters an unclear range of technical and scientific skills.

She learned unspecified medical skills whilst running Project Lazarus. By the very end her pharmacokinetic modelling was more accurate than that of her highly-qualified chief medical officer.

To live, to learn

Miranda has boasted that she could master any field she put her mind to, which seems accurate. Since she also does a lot of statistical analysis, we have assumed a superior grounding in the basic tool of formalised understanding – maths.

Miranda Lawson's first appearance

Miranda spent two decades wrapped in Cerberus’ games of death and deceit. It apparently has been her world since she was 15 or so. Intelligence is her bread and butter. She reflexively wants everything around her monitored – wiring every place with bugs, hacking all e-mail accounts and listening in to everything.

She operates way better than most, but discovered to her dismay that she isn’t yet on the level of the galactic espionage elite, such as Salarian Special Tasks Group  operatives. She’s also somewhat outshone by the galaxy-class specialists recruited by Shepard to be on her team, though being a generalist has its advantages.

Surveillance, intelligence, deception, subterfuge, manipulation, analysis and assassination seem to be her core jobs. The game stats assume a very solid skills base in these areas, beyond what could be demonstrated in the game.

She’s a pistol (part 1)

Miranda originally fights like a spy, not a soldier. She uses handguns (often machine pistols) to keep a hand free for her biotics and omni-tool. And though her catsuit seems to be lightly armoured she chiefly trusts her shields, biotic barrier and tactical mind for defense.

Our stats assume that she enters combat missions with body armour that is not pictured in the game, though. See our Mass Effect 2 biotics article for more.

On the Normandy, Jacob and Commander Shepard train her to fight like a Systems Alliance Marines assault specialist — a skillset that Miranda quickly masters — to facilitate tactical coordination, such as sharing immediate action drills.

Lawson is a crack shot with her preferred weapons. She can achieve tight bullet groups even with a M-4 Shuriken. Which is not a machine pistol reputed for its bullet placement ability.

Miranda tended to use common weapons likes Predators or Shurikens to lower traceability and remain discreet. But given the combat-heavy nature of the Collectors mission the guns-happy Shepard put her through a full evaluation and retrained her to use heavier weapons.

Miranda now sports a Tempest close-quarter assault weapon and Carnifex high-calibre pistol. Both were custom-built for her and heavily modified for enhanced power and accuracy.

She’s a pistol (part 2)

Miranda is a superior combat analyst. She processes ballistic and tactical data in-combat and post-combat to improve performance. In-game e-mails indicate that she crunches telemetry and ballistic data recorded during tactical engagements to suggest new weapons and tactics. This is presumably done in collaboration with ship armourer Jacob Taylor and ship artificial intelligence EDI.

Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor

Miranda also provides in-game gunfighting bonuses, though how it works in-universe is unknown. It is possible that her omni-tool packs modified versions of vehicular combat programs that she uses on the fly to provide target tracking and compute real-time firing solutions relayed to her allies’ HUDs.

Based on in-game effects Miranda’s customised programs might even do real-time tweaks to friendly weapons’ mass drivers and Mass Effect generators to optimise each shot’s ballistics. This would make Lawson the perfect sniper’s spotter. This seems supported by her appearance in Mass Effect: Redemption , where Cerberus snipers under her command achieve excellent results.

Miranda’s omni-tool also includes Mass Effect disruption solutions. These kill shields, damage mechs and AIs such as geth, shut down weapons, etc.

She’ll blow your mind

Lawson is a powerful biotic – for a Human. Her biotic warps excel at destroying heavy body armour and biotic barriers. She has developed a distinctive gravity-manipulation technique slamming her targets against the ground, with even deadlier results if they’re in the air when the effect hits them.

Between her biotic warps and Mass Effect overloads using her omni-tool’s attack programs, Miranda can hammer all known heavy defences. This makes her an asset in most tactical situations.

During her loyalty mission Lawson uses her biotics to lift an opponent 10 metres in the air, then hit her with a sort of energy projectile to send her flying. Our game stats thus include biotic lift, and we assume that she then comboed it with a ME2 Biotic Warp.

The colour of her in-game heavy defence bar also implies that she’s shielded by a self-generated biotic barrier. However, on Haestrom  she mentions radiation damaging her shields. So we’ve assumed a mix of light shielding and a minor biotic barrier.

These abilities are not part of her ME2 powers list, but the in-game power lists seem to be the abbreviated version.


History – intro

Miranda Lawson is more or less the daughter of business tycoon Henry Lawson, an immensely rich and influential man. The powerful Mr. Lawson is fixated upon his legacy, and wishes to gain a sort of immortality by becoming an historical figure.

Creating a dynasty was one obvious approach, but it wasn’t good enough for the megalomaniacal Lawson. He wanted a perfect child whose DNA would be solely based on his own, undiluted by a mother’s. It seems that he insisted on the child being female, with creepy undertones.

A number of embryos were grown and enhanced. The daughter would not be just a gender-swapped Lawson clone, she would receive a lengthy list of genetic enhancements making her a peak Human specimen, physically and intellectually.

The medical data about the offsprings kept disappointing Henry Lawson, and they were terminated at various stages. Miranda is the first one he kept and that was allowed to be born, since she was sufficiently close to perfection.


A question of time

Miranda’s birth date (2150, according to secondary sources) trips upon the main problem in the Mass Effect timeline. Not enough time has passed since the Mars discovery (2149) and the First Contact War (2157) to fit everyone’s biography in.

Specifically, Humans only realise the existence of biotics circa 2158, and they don’t manage a working biotic implant before the L2 in 2167. Thus, Miranda is born way too early for the embryo to be implanted with Element Zero nodules promoting biotic activity.

Accidental Element Zero exposure is highly improbable. Element Zero has just been discovered when the Miranda embryo is created. Furthermore it is dangerously carcinogenic, and has little place in a cloning project.

No-Prize hypothesis (part 1)

The likeliest explanation is that Miranda is a unique case where a person is turned into a biotic via surgical Element Zero implants and nervous system modifications, rather than an in utero mutation via Element Zero exposure.

This would make little sense in another context (recruiting and training a biotic kid is far easier). But given Miranda’s father’s unique fixations, immense wealth and ruthlessness, and Miranda’s perfect health, it is conceivable that such a surgery might work. Presumably Lawson would have had the kid terminated and a new embryo grown had the implantation processes failed.

More exotic hypotheses are possible. For instance having a new Miranda conceived, exposing the embryo to Element Zero in controlled circumstances, putting it in a coma, speed-growing the clone, then transferring Miranda’s consciousness to the speed-grown body when it reaches her age.

No-Prize hypothesis (part 2)

At first glance, this is even rougher on the suspension of disbelief… but it parallels Project Lazarus. It may have been Lazarus’ precedent in some areas (such as consciousness transfer) and help explain why Miranda is Lazarus’ director.

Perhaps she stole invaluable medical research from her father when she left, which the Illusive Man had improved by Cerberus and which went through another round of additional research at Lazarus. These are pure hypotheses though – there’s no hint toward that in Mass Effect 2.

Using Miranda’s age as an adjustment variable doesn’t really work. By the 2180s she indeed seems to be in her 30s, even allowing for some wiggle room due to her high intelligence enhancing her maturity.


History – resumed

Bad, bad little girl

Henry Lawson spoiled Miranda like only a multi-billionaire can. But every gift and every opportunity was to manipulate Miranda into developing the exact same beliefs as her father and learn “important life lessons”.

The constant manipulation and traps didn’t work. Presumably, even as a little girl, Miranda was smart enough to understand what was going on. She came to trust no one and nothing and only had one actual friend, a boy named Niket.

Miranda Lawson aims a Shuriken machine pistol

Miranda’s childhood was lonely, regimented, devoid of affection and dominated by her “father”. He demanded that she perform perfectly in every possible area.

She came to utterly hate Lawson, who in turn came to consider her a failure. Henry Lawson had another perfect baby, Oriana, created to replace Miranda. Oriana was based on Miranda’s DNA, and it is possible that she was a clone of Miranda. Apparently, Miranda was 14 or 15 when Oriana was born.

The teenager did not want to see her “baby sister” subjected to the same life she had. Further, she presumably suspected that she would be murdered to make room for Oriana. Miranda kidnapped the baby and fled, trading gunfire with Henry Lawson’s security force.

She escaped and hid, though she knew that she’d need powerful allies to keep her “father” at bay.

Run Miranda run (part 1)

Henry Lawson was one of the main financiers behind the Cerberus conspiracy, and Miranda thus knew how to contact the Illusive Man. She approached him for protection, presumably because she lacked alternatives.

Surprisingly, the Illusive Man agreed to take her in and have Oriana smuggled away and carefully hidden in an adoptive family. He thus immediately lost the financial backing of Henry Lawson.

The Illusive Man’s strange decision is likely explained by his strong belief that a handful of elite operatives — or perhaps even a single greater-than-life person — is worth an army of ordinary hirelings. Miranda clearly could become an extraordinary operative then a key lieutenant and, perhaps, the Illusive Man’s successor.

Miranda Lawson taking cover

As such, the Illusive Man apparently considered that she was worth more than Henry Lawson’s billions and influence.

Miranda resumed doing the only thing she knew – being a perfect instrument for a shadowy authority figure and focusing on exceeding unreasonable expectations.

Run Miranda run (part 2)

Nothing had actually changed, particularly in the hypothesis where the Illusive Man considered her a potential heir. But Miranda persuaded herself that the smooth, charismatic Illusive Man was good to her and valued her. Furthermore, Oriana was safe and untouched – which was the important thing.

The Illusive Man presumably preyed on Miranda’s inexperience and ample psychological baggage to make her his agent. But this time Miranda wanted to believe, and he was a far smoother manipulator than Henry Lawson.

Over the years Miranda became the perfect Cerberus officer, and apparently the Illusive Man’s most trusted and capable lieutenant.

Miranda was a Cerberus operative, then officer, for about 20 years – from adolescence to her mid-30s. She presumably has a lot of blood on her hands.

Her activities during all these years are undocumented. But she built an extensive network of contacts and informants among Cerberus sympathisers, the corporate world, the military, organised crime, mercenary groups, etc..

Earth’s longest river (part 1)

With its militant “Humanity first” creed, Cerberus is a terrorist, blood-soaked organisation with little regard for those Human lives it is supposed to defend.

Miranda employed her considerable intelligence to rationalise her Cerberus affiliation over the years. Like many other operatives she maintained that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (always a convenient excuse for murder and terror attacks).

She also considered that Cerberus were the hard realists willing to make hard choices in a hard galaxy. By contrast, namby-pambies such as the Systems Alliance were paralysed by indecision and formalism. Another common line of argumentation is that there are no higher stakes than the fate of Humanity, and that one cannot afford to play nice when entrusted with such a responsibility.

Furthermore, the Illusive Man would tell Miranda that any Cerberus actions that went too far — even by her true believer standards — were the result of some out-of-control splinter cell.

Lawson was all too eager to believe this. Thus, the rogue faction explanation became something of a knee-jerk reflex of hers – which the cells-based organisation of Cerberus made easy.

Earth’s longest river (part 2)

The Cerberus cells are completely partitioned off each other, with the Illusive Man being the sole known shared point of contact. They don’t generally work with each other. However, Miranda is the sort of lieutenant whom the Illusive Man would send to check why a given cell went offline.

Miranda Lawson portrait

Given what we know from Cerberus in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, one can easily imagine that there were cases where Miranda and her operatives were sent to terminate “splinter cells” that were actually also carrying out the Illusive Man’s orders but had become inconvenient.

Though Lawson is undeniably a terrorist and a murderer, it is possible that the parts of Cerberus under her command were markedly less monstrous. Whilst she takes pride in her ruthlessness, Miranda balked when she discovered Cerberus projects such as Subject Zero or Overlord . The Illusive Man presumably ensured that she was not in contact with such projects so as not to lose her loyalty.

Furthermore, the cell under Miranda’s command in Mass Effect 2 — Cell Lazarus — seemed essentially apolitical, with most members thinking that Cerberus was more or less benign.

A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course (part 1)

In 2183, the iconic heroine Staff Commander Shepard was killed saving her crew from a mysterious attack. As a response, the Illusive Man entrusted Miranda with Cerberus newest, largest and most critical project.

Shepard had claimed that extragalactic entities, the Reapers, were eliminating all sapient life throughout the galaxy every 50,000 years. Though the Commander had no proof of this, the Illusive Man believed her. He had enough private intelligence about the Reapers to know that they were amply capable of eradicating Humanity, and that Commander Shepard’s claims were correct.

The Illusive Man believed that only the greatest Human fighter stood a chance against the Reapers, and had first-hand knowledge of the capabilities of certain technologies to bring back the dead. He thus tasked Lawson with the apparently impossible – resurrect Shepard.

A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course (part 2)

Miranda had billions in budget and near-complete access to Cerberus resources. Though she eventually had to go over budget, the Illusive Man did not blink and extended her line well past 4 billions.

Apparently, the Illusive Man did not tell her how to proceed, confident that the brilliant operative would soon determine that organic/synthetic fusions like those found in “husks” — techno-zombies created by the Reapers — was the best approach.

The Illusive Man had specifically ruled out cloning from the beginning. He wanted the original.

Galactic Galateas & feminine Frankensteins

The first stage of the project was personally handled by the Illusive Man. Mysterious aliens had paid dreaded mercenary spymaster the Shadow Broker to recover Commander Shepard’s smashed corpse, and had gotten to it before Cerberus could.

With Miranda as his eyes and hands, the Illusive Man turned a Shadow Broker agent named Feron against his boss, then manipulated Shepard’s lover — Dr. Liara T’Soni — into helping Cerberus.

Miranda Lawson at her work desk

Though Miranda wanted to intervene more directly the Illusive Man largely kept her in reserve. He only let her act when things might get out of hand. Miranda and her snipers thus derailed a Shadow Broker ambush against Liara and Feron on Omega, gunning down the Blue Suns mercenaries sent by the Broker.

To Miranda’s surprise Dr. T’Soni, whom she thought was a dorky alien academic, took on the Shadow Broker’s feared network. The Asari delivered Commander Shepard’s remains to Cerberus. Albeit the whole plot stank to the high heavens, Liara was willing to do anything to give her love even the slightest chance of coming back from the dead.

Miranda christened her nascent project team Cell Lazarus, and went a-recruiting. She also had a secret base built or repurposed to run the project. Shepard’s destroyed corpse was hidden there for analysis and preparation.

Mass Effect: Galaxy

A few months later — presumably while the Lazarus resources were assembling — Miranda recruited ex-Alliance shock trooper Jacob Taylor as a combat operative. He was to help her uncover a Batarian plot against the Council.

During this mission she chiefly served in a control and intelligence role, piecing together what was happening whilst Taylor was fighting it out.

Lawson and Taylor were successful. As they suspected, Batarian ambassador to the Citadel Jath’amon was not there to negotiate terms for peace, but to unleash a virus against the Council. They stopped him in the nick of time, after a long investigation filled with unreasonable amounts of gunfire.

Lawson threw herself at Taylor to celebrate their victory. Given her self-objectification issues, one suspects she just thought that he had earned to get the girl at the end.

Though she presumably was just going for celebratory sex, a relationship unexpectedly developed. It then crashed and burned as the reasonable, measured, responsible Jacob Taylor realised just how messed up Miranda was.

They nevertheless continued to work closely together. But that was on a strictly hierarchical basis, with Taylor being Lawson’s lieutenant and chief triggerman. Miranda doesn’t seem to have quite gotten over Jacob, but that was apparently never an issue in their work.

Project Lazarus will now proceed as planned (part 1)

By that time, Lazarus was go. Lawson put her cutting edge scientific staff to work, studying 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 some sort of 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.

Miranda Lawson talking

He specifically wanted the original back with as few alterations as possible, 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.

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

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.

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

(As noted in our main Commander Shepard entries, having Shepard come back only partially finished is a cosmetic variant unique to this specific version of Shepard, not game canon.)

Enter 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.

Miranda Lawson, Kasumi and Commander Shepard aim their guns

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

Miranda repelled the mechs trying to kill her, made her way to the shuttles and vengefully murdered 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, and occasionally uses Australian phrases (such as calling Omega Station a “pisshole”).

Her voice, accent and facial features are those of actress 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 pale 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 very tight “uniform” is itself comic-book-ish (including heels), and 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 the 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*, guys. Really, we do. Sheesh.).


Personality

Miranda almost always projects a specific personality – 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 actually has 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, how it’s a tough galaxy out there, and 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 are rather frequent 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, handling enormous amounts of data to build up mission intelligence and handling 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, part 1

Miranda’s persona actually is a sort of overcompensation – she has 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 but 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, and that 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.

Prodigal, part 2

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 and 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, and 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 (part 1)

An important drive of Miranda’s is to find peers. People just suck compared to her, and 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.

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 known for her quasi-sorcerous competence.

Miranda sheds a tear

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, but talks the talk as part of her image as a true blue Cerberus officer.

Elle se dit l’élite (part 2)

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, whereas when she was operating with Cerberus troops she affected a racist and insulting attitude toward Dr. T’Soni.

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 ears (or rather bugs) everywhere, Miranda is well-aware of how the crew gradually stops referring to the commanding staff as “Lawson and Shepard” to 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, and 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, and 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 a 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 as 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 working along a group of peers, being valued for who she is rather than what she is, and the weight of decades of denial about Cerberus.

She eventually reaches the conclusion 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 seems to lift some 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 some perspective to Miranda’s own moments of weakness and loneliness.

Love deluxe (part 1)

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.

Her romantic exigences are essentially impossible to match. This is especially true since a man has to meet unearthly standards of physical health and demonstrate a specific behaviour just to be greenlighted for sex. Basically, they have to meet a stringent 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. Apparently 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”, but Jacob couldn’t remember such a debt between them. Though he pointed out that Miranda does have a very long memory 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.

Love deluxe (part 2)

Some logs imply that she picks up semi-random guys on Extranet dating sites reserved to the moneyed elites, as long as they pass her 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, and Miranda eventually 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 and 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.

Though everyone (except Shepard and presumably Taylor) would unhesitatingly describe Lawson as being shameless in every sense of the word, 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

Tell me more about the game stats

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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