Beta-read by Saberlin.


The bug was simple, yet elegant. It was not exactly what she wanted, but it did what she needed.

Miranda Lawson could sleep at night. Every stop Shepard made—as long as a comm buoy was within the bug's broadcast range—was relayed to her omnitool and to the tracking map downstairs. The stop at Amaterasu had puzzled her, since it was only for a fraction of an afternoon, but the research team answered her question: Shepard could not pass Ashley Williams' family without putting in an appearance.

Her employer believed Shepard was capable of carrying the torch for the human race.

She believed Shepard was like a virus: containing her took the right software and the right precautions before infection occurred. This was where her own research came into play: she had a presentiment she would need to know how the other woman thought, be able to predict a move before Shepard made it.

Fortunately, at this point, there was no reason why Shepard should ever have to rub shoulders with Cerberus; Shepard would rather chew on her ship's drive core than work with Cerberus. That suited Miranda, who suspected that if she and Shepard had to share a duty station, she would quickly find herself relegated to the position of second fiddle.

She did not like being second fiddle on a project.

She was borrowing trouble, but it was her job to consider possibilities, the likely and the unlikely. She could sift through them later.

Miranda opened one eye as her omnitool beeped softly. She cued it, sipping her blue asari liquor. Just because she was pro-human did not mean she did not appreciate some of the delights of the palate other species contributed to the galaxy.

Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik system.

Shepard must be close to the edge of the system—the last few intercepted readings came from Sahrabarik.

It was fortunate she only needed to know Shepard's general position; the research team could usually narrow the range of places Shepard was likely to be. She, Miranda, usually had them find the most hazardous places near Shepard's last known coordinates.

Why would Shepard ever go somewhere safe?

The sarcastic thought made Miranda roll her eyes. Many systems out in the Terminus were not as rife with comm buoys as more civilized places. That would make tracking Shepard more difficult. Fortunately, Miranda specialized in complicated tasks, and the only way this task would graduate from 'difficult' to 'complicated' was if Shepard discovered the bug or somehow ripped her hip out of its socket.

Both outcomes were highly unlikely.

Miranda settled back in her chair, going back to her book. If anything happened that required her attention, someone would page her. As long as she had a flow of data regarding the project, she would happily let her minions do their jobs without her breathing down their necks. She did not, contrary to popular opinion, micromanage; she simply made sure her subordinates knew that if she had a reason she would come and babysit them, to her displeasure and their discomfort.

Almost anyone working for her—Jacob Taylor would not kowtow to keep her happy. Nevertheless, her methods promoted perfection, meticulous eyes for detail, and a state of constant readiness.

She'd successfully lost track of time before her omnitool beeped again. Immersed in her book, she barely heard it, merely glanced to see if Shepard was still in the Omega Nebula.

Not much later, the communications unit on her desk hiccuped.

"Yes?" She thinned her lips and eyes as she regarded the unit.

"Operative Lawson…we've, uh, we've had a malfunction with the bug tracking Shepard. We've lost the signal."

Miranda opened her mouth to snap the all-important question, but refrained. She severed the connection, changed out of her pajamas and into her work clothes, then stormed out of her quarters in a flurry of dark hair and the click of high heeled boots.

The possibilities this hitch foreboded were highly unpleasant, and that unpleasantness was about to fall into her lap. Of course things would take a downturn the one time she didn't really read the feedback from the bug.

She enjoyed problem-solving; she loved puzzles…but she also liked to choose which ones she opted to solve. Between leaving her room and walking into the control room, she could be disgusted, irritated, and generally speed through the whole of a bad mood before arriving at the control room.

Once the control room door opened, she would be all business, all answers, all about the mission. Grousing and venting en route to a disaster—and with Shepard involved, it was safe to assume the heading 'disastrous' would be an applicable adjective—made it easier to think clearly later on.

Miranda stormed into the control room, the crew seeming to duck as though she had slammed open the door and sharply demanded feedback. A moment of silence stretched as she scanned the room, the tops of people's heads, and all over the displays on the walls.

The displays all showed nothing of interest, just places Shepard had been, places the woman had stopped, relays she had used to get to her last known destination. Now, there was nothing but a blinking dot marking the Omega Nebula's mass relay, and the last comm buoy she'd passed.

Miranda turned to the lead hat of the observational team, pinning the woman with a cold glare. "You lost her? Find the signal—pick it back up." She did not shout, but she did not need to.

For a few minutes the crew seemed to scurry about like frightened mice, haptic displays flashing and shifting. "I'm sorry, Operative Lawson," the woman shivered as Miranda's eyes snapped back to hers, tearing themselves away from the blinking dot of Shepard's last known location. "The bug was on the edge of the last buoy's range. Then it just flared…and died."

Miranda's eyes narrowed as the implications sank into her very receptive mind. "What do you mean my bug is dead?"


AN: Well folks, we did it, we're here. This is the end of Mass Effect: Newton's First Law, and it's been quite a ride. I want to thank all my readers and reviewers one more time: your support and feedback help keep the story going.I also want to give one more big 'thank you' to my beta, the very awesome Saberlin, who has devoted a monstrous amount of time to this project. If it weren't for him, you'd be subject to all sorts of weird typos and convoluted sentences.

I look forward to having you all back in April for Mass Effect: Newton's Second Law.

I also wish you luck, fellow gamers, in saving the galaxy when ME3 comes out!