Wilson died on his feet. Shepard felt more than saw the bullet tear its way through the air between her shoulder and Jacob's, the hypervelocity grain of metal leaving a miniscule exit wound and a small spray of blood that misted across her arm. Wilsons heart stopped instantly, the hydrostatic shock ripping it to shreds even as his face froze in a stunned rigor. A thin, lithe leg planted itself in the dead man's gut, bearing a hundred-and-eighty pounds of flesh into the ground. The lady sauntered forward, lowering her machine-pistol and putting a second round through Wilson's brain. Insurance. Shepard would have liked this woman but for the "shooting my allies" bit.

"Miranda, what the hell?" Jacob's sentiment neatly reflected the iron in Shepard's mind.

"It was obvious," the woman said. "Wilson betrayed us."

"How do you know you're not wrong?" Jacob asked. Obviously a formality, Shepard noted. Jacob's eyes were already scanning for threats back the way they'd come.

"I'm never wrong," the woman named Miranda boasted.

Shepard frowned and asked, "Okay, just what the hell is going on here? Lieutenant Taylor here has been less than forthcoming."

"Look, I'm sorry Commander," he said. "We can give you answers after we get off this station."

"I want some before we leave."

"We're the ones who control the shuttles here," Miranda said, "You can either come with us or rot here with the dead."

Icy contempt crept into Shepard's voice. "You really think the two of you can stop me?"

Miranda's breath caught. A flimsy fa├žade, Shepard noted, and one that would have fallen had Jacob not broken in.

"We're here to help you, Commander. I think we're safe enough. What questions do you have?"

"First off, who's running the trains here?"


The silence fell and stretched for one interminable moment. Jacob looked unburdened, pleased, with little idea what he'd simply let slip. Miranda's glare skewered the man, even as she inhaled to begin damage control.

Shepard twitched.

A stunted kick caught Miranda in the shin, dilatant packets hardening against the blow but attenuating none of the sudden impact, and the lady grimaced in pain even as Shepard spun back towards the man at her side. Jacob, for all his surprise, was able to shield himself from taking an elbow to his temple, but not from the punch that swarmed in under his guard. The armored fist, augmented by the cybernetics he'd seen installed not two months prior, slammed into his solar plexus, and he fell against the railing with the breath forced out of him, pistol careening into the cargo bay below.

Shepard spun low, foot slipping in her unfitted armor as she pushed back forward with the intent of finishing Miranda when the white-clad woman, not reeling from the sudden attack as Shepard had expected, planted a boot to Shepard's jaw, and the world went black.

Author's Notes:

Well, here's a nice little vignette for you, valued reader. Ever feel like your Shepard didn't exactly react to the knowledge that she was standing next to two apparently avowed terrorists against whom she fought viciously in her previous life? This one's for you.