Finding Love

Can't Be Killed

I don't own Bioware

NEW YEAR

OMEGA

CARGO PORT SEVEN

JANUARY 1ST, 2162

Zaeed wasn't looking for a fight. For one thing, it was too fucking early in the day. For another, he only had a pistol. But the way the turian mercs were staring at him and Vido…well…it didn't look pretty.

"What exactly did you say to them?" Vido muttered as the turians surrounded the pair. Zaeed shrugged.

"I may have directly questioned his legitimacy….or made him a marriage proposal. I don't really have a proper grasp of the lingo."

"Do you know how to say 'sorry'?" Vido began sliding his hand towards his own pistol.

"I think we've gone beyond 'sorry'." Zaeed counted up the opponents. Thirteen of them, all ex-military with the hardware to prove it. "I'll take the nine on the left, you can take the other four."

"Leave me the big one," Vido grunted. "Figures."

"You're the one who wanted to meet these guys," Zaeed pointed out.

"And you're the one who said they were your friends," Vido retorted.

"Well, when I said friends, I meant that I didn't kill them the last time I met them."

"You humans think you're so smart!" The lead turian snarled. "Your kind only arrived on Omega a few years ago, and already you act like you own the place."

"Omega's free property mate," Zaeed readied himself for a quick draw. This one would be close….fuck it, who was he kidding? Thirteen against two without the proper gear was suicide. "As long as you don't fuck with Aria, anything goes."

"Well, I think it's time for you to go!" The turian reached for his pistol. Zaeed was faster. He planted a double tap right through the alien's skull as casually as he would have cracked open a case of lager.

Vido also drew, but he was a fraction to slow. A multitude of bullets bounced off his shields, one penetrated and ripped open his shoulder. He fell with a violent curse in Portuguese.

Zaeed knew the fight would be over in milliseconds. He knew that already assault rifles were being levelled at him. It'd take seven rounds to break his shields, and then he'd be riddled full of holes. He waited for the bullet that would finish him off.

It never came.

Assault rifle fire echoed around the cargo bay, but it wasn't aimed at the two humans. Instead, the turians writhed and screamed as short, accurate bursts stripped away their kinetic barriers and punctured their plates.

It was all over in seconds.

"You alright mate?" Zaeed swabbed some medi-gel onto his partner's shoulder.

"I just got shot. How the fuck you think I'm doing?" Vido swore again. "Are you sure we ain't dead? There's no way we could have survived."

"Absolutely no way," Massani agreed. "We got shot to pieces. We're in Hell's waiting room right now."

"It's not," a voice rang from the shadows. "But I wish it were."

A young woman strode towards them. She looked about fourteen years junior to Zaeed, although he wasn't exactly a museum piece at thirty seven. She vibrated youth, energy…and lots of bitchiness.

"Thanks for the save love," Zaeed thrust out his hand. "Things were looking a bit…"

She slugged him in the jaw. Three teeth and a mouthful of blood spattered onto the deck. The girl had her fists clenched, in danger of bursting a blood vessel.

"You…you…you MORONS!" She finally exploded. "You just cost me SEVEN. FUCKING. MONTHS of fucking undercover work!"

Zaeed winced. "You're a cop?"

"Office of Naval Intelligence!" She spat out. "These guys had links to several turian extremist groups. If you hadn't gone and picked a fight, I could have tracked them all the way back."

"Well then why didn't you let them get us?" Zaeed stopped himself from punching in her face, partly out of gentlemanly instinct, mostly because he didn't know how many men she had as backup.

The woman spun around and stormed toward a side door. "Believe me Mr. Massani, I wish I had!"

"How the fuck do you know my name?"

"Everyone knows Zaeed Massani, founder of the 'Blue Suns'," she turned back for a second with a contemptuous smirk on her face. "Honestly, have you ever even seen a blue sun? If it had been 'Blue Stars' it might be easier to take you seriously."

"Well what's your name?" Zaeed wasn't quite sure why he was curious. For a second, he thought she wouldn't answer.

"Jessica. Agent Jessica O'Flaherty," Her expression changes, like she isn't sure what to do.

"Thanks very much," Zaeed gives a polite nod. "You did me a big favour Jessie."

Jessie returned the nod. "No problem Massani. I'll try and keep that in mind when my boss tears me a new one. Should make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."

"If he doesn't appreciate your skills, then you shouldn't bother working for him," Zaeed would have added more, but she vanished back into the dark with an exasperated shake of her head.

"Fuck," Vido groaned from the floor. "You don't ever turn it off do you Zaeed?"

"It's the face mate," Zaeed helped him up with a grin. Of the two of them, he was the better looking. Strong jaw, tanned skin, smart blue eyes and shaggy brown hair. "The women love the face."

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CAREER CHANGE

AFTERLIFE

TWO WEEKS LATER

"You look a little down doll," Zaeed slipped onto the barstool next to the girl. He was surprised to see her still hanging around on the station. The Alliance Office of Naval Intelligence was usually pretty damn quick to yank its agents out of danger. "What's your trouble?"

The venom hadn't left her eyes. "I got fired. Actually, not just fired, blacklisted. Burned. I'm on the official ONI shitlist. I compromised my entire network of contacts when I killed those pirates. Two highly placed Hierarchy officers were eliminated. I singlehandedly set back ONI's intelligence gather efforts by about two years."

"Oh," Zaeed said lamely. "Well…you saved my life. That's something right?"

"Something?" Jessie laughed bitterly. "My life is ruined, my accounts have been frozen, and none of my friends will answer my calls."

She produced a pistol, but kept it under the bar. "I should kill you right here. Just blow you away and walk out."

"That'd be a mistake," Zaeed swallowed.

"Really?"

"Yeah. You're looking at your future boss," Zaeed prayed that he was reading the situation right. "You need creds, the Suns need talent. I give you one, you give me the other."

Her eyes narrowed. "You want me to turn merc? Do wet work for you?"

"You have any better options?"

"Nope," Jessie sighed, reaching for her drink. "I could go live with my mother…but to be honest I'd rather get spaced."

"Excellent," Zaeed motioned for the bartender to come closer. "Shall we drink to our new partnership?"

"Why not?" She shot back her slug of batarian whiskey. "I always like to celebrate a bad decision by getting smashed."

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GUN

PALAVEN

OCTOBER 30th 2164

"The client wants this to be a quick in and out mission," Zaeed explained to the squad. "Those weapons are in the very back of the complex. We'll try to go in as silent as possible. No unnecessary shooting."

"Like that ever happens," Vido muttered. "I hate taking jobs for turians."

"Job's a job mate, species doesn't matter," as Field Commander, Zaeed had the final say in the jobs that the Blue Suns took. "Never let prejudice get in the way of a profit."

"I can't believe we're still doing small time jobs like this," Jessie snorted. "We've got multi-million credit contracts on Noveria and the Citadel, but we'll work just as hard to steal weapons."

"These guns are worth a pretty penny," Zaeed pointed out. "Probably some new gear that we can help ourselves to."

"No thanks," Jessie indicated her own rifle. "I like mine just great. M-2 Avenger, latest one on the market. Double the rate of fire, half the over heat of the M-1."

"Can I buy it off you?" Vido reached for his wallet. Zaeed winced. Vido had just broken the golden rule….

Jessie slammed him back against a cargo container. "Let me make this perfectly clear V. Don't. Touch. My Fucking. Gun."

Vido rubbed his throat as Jessie stormed off. "Is it weird?" He wondered aloud. "That I still like her better than I like you?"

"You don't like her," Zaeed slapped his partner on the back. "You just love that ass."

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RAW

FIVE HOURS LATER

They were back on the ship, the weapons were in the hold, and the drinks had already been broken out. Zaeed was only halfway through the first vodka bottle. That'd change. The score was even bigger than he'd hoped, worth almost four times as much on the weapons market. That called for at least four bottles of premium Russian vodka, the best that money could buy.

Jessie and Bowie were in the hold with him. Vido was in the cockpit, arranging to sell the weapons once they reached Illium. That suited Zaeed just fine. He hated doing the bookwork.

"You know what I reckon?" Bowie slurred out. The ex-Alliance Operations Chief was a peaceful drunk. Good alcohol was about the only thing that silenced the screams of his slaughtered platoon, one of the many scars he carried from Shanxi. "I reckon that we should just wipe 'em out. All of 'em. Batarians, turians, anyone that looks a human sideways."

"Go to sleep Bowie," Zaeed pushed the man into a sitting position. The grizzled veteran nodded agreeably, then promptly dropped into a drunken stupor. "Lazy bastard."

"Aw, leave Jim alone," Jessie gripped the neck of her bottle. "He did a good job today."

They're still covered in grunge and grime from battle. Sweat from being stuck inside heavy combat armour, blood from some relatively minor wounds, residue from explosives. The left side of Jessie's face had swollen where a turian got in a lucky punch at close quarters.

"So did you," Zaeed is feeling generous. "Hell, even Vido managed to not be a deadweight."

"We're one fuckin' happy band of brothers," she pulled out a pack of Hallex and retrieved a small handful of pills. "You want some?"

"Sure," Zaeed didn't usually indulge, but Hallex was relatively harmless. Just an enhanced version of an over-the-counter drug freely available anywhere. He swallowed three and chased them down with another swig.

"You know how I'm feeling?" Jessie swayed toward him.

"Drunk?"

"Horny," she reached for the clasps on her armour. "You know how long it's been? Three bloody years. Far too bloody long a dry spell."

"You're not my type," Zaeed laughed openly. It was perfectly true. He liked his women blonde (natural or otherwise), cuddly, soft and agreeable. Jessie was more of a haughty Irish beauty, although calling her any kind of beauty would be a stretch. She was pretty, in an ugly kind of way. Her facial features were sharp and angular, her skin was always pale, her fiery red hair never washed. She was tall and skinny, completely flat chested, though her legs were nice and long and her ass was pretty good, probably from all the exercise they got.

"This isn't about 'type' Z," Jessie had her chest plate, gauntlets and shoulder pads off now. Maybe 'beer goggles' were affecting Zaeed's judgement, but this was starting to almost seem like a good idea. She was attractively un-attractive. Real and gritty, not like the floozies in his favourite 'gentleman's club' on Mars. "This is about sex. I want some, and you're the closest available male."

"What about Bowie? I'm sure if you woke him up he'd be ready to go." Her smell was so appealingly vile. Sweaty, drunk and filthy, not even a hint of cheap perfume. Every man in the Blue Suns had wondered what she'd be like in the sack. She'd even joined in on the dirty jokes, dropping hints about her sexual proclivities. The general opinion that it would be painful was one that Zaeed shared. It had been a while for him too. His favourite girl, 'Honey', had OD'd on red sand; the others just weren't the same.

"Bowie's old enough to be my grandfather," She glanced at the sleeping man on the floor. "Besides, I'm fairly certain that something important got shot off on Shanxi."

"Not all of it. Besides, if you were two years younger, I'd qualify in the age bracket to be your daddy." His own cherry had gotten popped by the high school lead cheerleader. The bitch had then insisted that he'd raped her. He'd spent two years in juvie before she finally admitted that she'd made the whole thing up.

"Mummy wouldn't have had anything to do with you Massani. She was a good Irish girl. Only got herself knocked up a few weeks before the wedding. Fortunately for you, that character trait completely skipped my gene pool." She unclipped her boots and leg plates, tossing them aside carelessly.

"If you want a fuck, go see Vido. He's still sober." He made a great effort to look away. "A man can either get good and pissed or get a good lay. You can't combine the two."

"I wouldn't touch that Portuguese piece of shit with a ten foot pole," she snorted contemptuously. Zaeed could hear the sound of an undersuit being freed from skin. "You owe me Z. If you hadn't gotten me fired, I'd be curled up next to some nice young Alliance officer. Consider this part of my payment."

"I ain't…" he turned back to her, then promptly lost the ability to speak. Jessie had hoisted herself up on one of the weapons containers, still covered in turian blood. She stared at him expectantly, wearing nothing but a savage grin. "Good Lord woman, put your clothes back on."

"No," she frequently disobeyed his orders. This one was no different. "One way or another, I'm getting what I want."

"Well then you're going to get bloody cold," Zaeed snorted. "Good night Jessie."

=Vido= He heard her activating a comm unit as he walks away. =Would you mind coming down to the cargo bay?=

Zaeed practically teleported the three metres to her. Smacking the unit out of her hand he pinned her down on the container with one hand. With the other he reached for the seal on his cod-piece. "If that's the way you want to play it. Vido doesn't put a hand on you. You're mine."

"And I can play you like a fiddle." There's no amicability or subservience in her eyes or her voice. This is a war for dominance, on and off the battlefield. There won't be any rules tonight. "You're not exactly hung like a krogan Z, but we've shared enough latrines that I figure you've got just enough of what I need."

"I'm going to make you pay for that."

Her teeth bared. "Bring it on, you son of a bitch!"

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CONSEQUENCES

NOS ASTRA, ILIUM

DECEMBER 2ND, 2164

PELLMORE HOTEL

"We ain't hiring batarians Vido," Zaeed snarled at his partner. "Fucking terrorists. Sooner kill you than look at you."

"Cheap labour Zaeed," Vido snapped back. "We're losing money big time. Noveria's Ruling Council just gave the new protection contract to Elanus Risk Control, and it looks like Eclipse are going to undercut us for the Zorya gig. We can't afford to lower our bid any more, or we won't make enough to pay the damn guards. We need to cut our overheads, and the squints are the only ones willing to work for damn near nothing."

"I said no," Zaeed gripped the counter hard enough to dent the polished wood. "Those four eyed bastards are gonna stab us in the back as soon as it suits 'em."

"Not if we keep the upper hand," Vido turned away in frustration. "You said never let prejudice get in the way of profit."

"That was in regards to taking jobs from guys we hate," Zaeed went to the mini-bar and grabbed a bottle. "Not hiring the fuckers."

"Hiring batarians seems like a bad idea," Bowie called from the couch. "None of my guys'll work with them."

"They'll work with them if it means we keep their pay cheques rolling in," Vido shook his head. "I can see I don't have a hope in hell of convincing you morons. I'm going to get drunk."

"Me too," Bowie got to his feet and staggered after Vido. "You coming Massani?"

"Why not?" Zaeed took a mouthful of the expensive asari elasa. "Beats sitting around here…"

"Zaeed?"

Turning back to the door connecting the suites, Zaeed saw Jessie standing in the door. She was looking even paler than usual. "Yeah doll?"

"There's something I need to talk to you about." There was uncertainty in her voice.

"If you want another round, then I'm going to have to turn you down." One month after the event, Zaeed was still feeling the bruises and bite-marks. Vido and Bowie had given him hell over it. "I don't have the strength to keep you satisfied."

"It's not that," she bit her lip. "I just need to speak with you in private."

"Is there something wrong Jess?" Bowie was almost like a kindly uncle at times.

"Beat it Jim," Zaeed didn't take his eyes off her. Jessie had been a bit sick the past few days. He had assumed it was the heavy drinking. But maybe she'd picked up some kind of flu that she was worried about?

Bowie had the good sense not to protest.

"What do you want?"

She had the look of a hunted animal. Desperate, looking for a place to hide. "Zaeed…you know how I said it had been a long time?"

"Yeah," he kept his voice guarded.

"Well," she began pacing. "It was so long…I wasn't taking any medication and…"

'No,' Zaeed's mind kicked into overdrive. 'No. No! NO! You little fool!'

"Zaeed, I'm pregnant," she sniffed slightly. "I…I…went to the hospital this morning for a full check-up. They confirmed it. A little over three weeks. The genetic scan says it's a girl. She's fine, just a normal, healthy human."

Zaeed looked down at the bottle in his fist. There was no amount of alcohol that good improve this situation. His knees felt unsteady. Give him a platoon of krogan to take out and he'd charge in, all guns a blazing. But...he was going to be a father? What did a pair of screw-ups like him and Jessie know about being parents?

"Say something," she took a step closer. "Anything."

He sank back into a chair. "I don't...I don't know..."

"I won't give her up!" The fight was back in Jessie's voice. "I'll manage with or without you..."

Zaeed looked at her and had to acknowledge the truth. He loved her. Loved that pretty/ugly face. Loved those smart ass comments she always rejected Vido with. Loved the way she knew everything about anything. Loved the way she looked after a shower. Loved how she made his life better in almost every way.

He stood up. "I meant that I don't know where we should settle down. I hear Eden Prime is a paradise."

She collapsed into him, shoulders sagging with relief. It was the first time she had ever shown any vulnerability. The urge to protect her and the precious new life inside her blared inside Zaeed's skull.

"I thought you wouldn't want me," she sobbed helplessly. "I thought it wouldn't mean anything to you."

"I never thought I would," Zaeed rocked her back and forth, running his fingers through her hair. "What do I know about being a father? My old man wasn't exactly a family guy."

"Look at it this way," she smiled through her tears. "You know exactly what not to do."

He grins back, then lowers his hand to her stomach. "My Jessie," he murmured. "My little firebrand."

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LAST CALL

NOS ASTRA, ILLIUM

FEBRUARY 18TH, 2165

PELLIMORE HOTEL

"You have everything?" Zaeed finished packing the last of his casual clothes into suitcase. "Tickets? The credit accounts? Your rifle?"

"Yes, yes and yes," Jessie called back from the next room. "Trust me Z, I thought of everything."

"Bowie! You know the plan right?"

The grey haired merc nodded as he lumbered into the room, carrying three of Jessie's bags. "Take her straight to Elysium. You'll be there in one week, after you've helped Vido pick out a new field commander. I keep a low profile until you arrive, then we travel to Eden Prime. Never pictured you as a farmer Massani."

"I'm not going to be a farmer Jim," Zaeed laughed. "I've arranged to work as the militia trainer."

Jessie finally appeared from her suite. Dressed in a loose fitting shirt designed to conceal the bulge in her stomach, and some khaki cargo pants, she radiated an innocent joy that neither of the men had ever seen. She still carried a pistol though, that could never change. They had too many enemies.

"You ready to go 'darling'?"

"Almost done, doll," a grin spread across Zaeed's handsome features. "Would the lady permit her humble servant to drive her to the spaceport?"

"I will accord you that high honour." She gave a mock curtsey. "Thanks for doing this Jim."

"My pleasure." Bowie assured her. "Hell, this feels just like my kids are getting married."

"I wouldn't go that far," Zaeed grabbed the last of the travel cases. "Come on, you'll miss your flight."

The trio pushed out of the corridor and into the living area of the suite. Bowie began retelling another of his war stories, about shipping out for battle, and how this felt like it. Jessie and Zaeed shared an amused smirk.

"Zaeed!" The word cut Bowie off mid-sentence. Vido Santiago was waiting for them. This in itself, was not so unusual. What was strange, was the hardsuit he was wearing, the ten Blue Suns around him, and the batarian standing next to him.

"Vido? What's biting your ass now?" Zaeed was impatient to get going. "Can't we discuss this later?"

"I'm afraid not," Vido straightened his posture. He glanced at Jessie, who lowered her bags to the ground. "You look beautiful Jess."

"Thanks V," she looked just as confused as Zaeed and Bowie. "What's going on?"

"Zaeed," Vido addressed his partner. "This is Commander Sco'sac. He has control over the five major batarian mercenary groups. He is willing to bring them into the Blue Suns."

"I already told you no," Zaeed snapped. "No batarians."

"I'm sorry to hear that." Vido raised his hand. His men raised their rifles, pointing them at Zaeed. "I am truly sorry that it has to be this way."

"A coup?" Zaeed laughed harshly. "Because I won't let terrorists into my company? Listen up, you dickless muppet. I could start running around singing, dancing and helping little children, and it wouldn't matter. I own the controlling stake."

"Not anymore. Out of respect for what you once were, I'm going to let you walk out." Vido gestured to one of the legionnaires. "Private Cobb, relieve the Commander of his weapons."

The kid strutted forward. He reached for the holster on Zaeed's hip. "I'll be having that sidearm 'sir'."

Zaeed's draw was still the fastest in the Blue Suns. In a second, he had the pistol pressed against Cobb's chest. "You mean this sidearm kid?"

Bowie drew his own pistol. He had it pointed at the batarian.

"Stay out of this Jim," Zaeed didn't take his eyes off the men in front of him. "This isn't your fight."

"I've been looking after your ass for seven years," Bowie retorted. "I figure I've got one fight left in me. Might as well have it here."

"This ends one of two ways Massani," Vido's voice was without emotion. "With you dead and me in charge, or you just beaten up and me in charge. You're through either way."

"Funny, I'm feeling pretty secure right about now," Zaeed tightened his grip on the trigger.

Vido looked at Jessie. "What about you Jess? You still feel you owe this stupid bastard?"

"It's been fun Zaeed," Jessie's voice was cold. His heart sank. Just him and Bowie then. That was fair enough. No need for her to get involved. In a way, it was a relief. She'd live past this, and so would his daughter. There'd be something left of him in this world.

"But like the man said," Jessie drew her pistol. "It's time to change things up."

Her first shot took Sergeant Chen through the jaw, her second bounced of Vido's shields as she advanced, blazing away. Bowie and the batarian fired at each other. They both got off five shots. Bowie's first four were absorbed by the batarian's shields, his fifth went through the middle of the four eyed alien's head.

All five of the batarian's shots hit Bowie in his chest. The old soldier fell like a stone, his blood spattering over the expensive décor.

Zaeed's bullet blasted through Cobb's armour and right into the private's heart. It was the only shot he fired. Cobb squeezed the trigger of his rifle on reflex. A three round burst sliced through Zaeed's right calf, the leg collapsing underneath him.

Vido raised his own rifle. Jessie didn't flinch, turn away or throw up her hands. Just kept firing her tiny pistol, the low velocity rounds ineffective against his hardsuit and kinetic barrier.

Vido fired two three round bursts into her chest at fifteen feet. Without barriers or armour, she was an easy target. Jessie dropped next to Zaeed, grimacing with pain.

"NO!" Zaeed reached out desperately. His fingers touched hers. Her face softened into a sad smile.

"Our girl would have been beautiful," she whispered. She blinked furiously, her pupils dilating. "Z. I can't see anything. It's dark. So fucking dark."

"It's nothing," Zaeed's heart constricted around itself. "It's just sleep Jessie. Only sleep."

"Only sleep," the light faded from her green eyes. "Only..."

Her breath exhaled in a death rattle. Zaeed's heart felt like a gaping wound in his chest. Somebody reached to her face and turned her face toward the roof.

"DON'T FUCKING TOUCH HER!" Zaeed screamed at Vido. How could he have trusted this scum for eight years? "YOU BASTARD. YOU FUCKING SNAKE!"

"She made her choice," Vido retrieved Jessie's pistol from the floor. "So did you. Harrow, Marks, hold him up."

The men that Zaeed had handpicked, hired, trained and led grabbed him. He got his knife loose and thrust into Harrow's stomach. A rifle butt struck him across the face. They grabbed his arms and twisted them. It took seven of them to hold him still.

Vido held his pistol against Zaeed's right temple "Well Massani? Do you believe in God? A judgement in the afterlife?"

"I should have left you to die on Omega," Zaeed bared his teeth, straining against his captors. Sheer, feral fury was his only emotion now. He wanted to rip out Vido's throat with his teeth, see the bastard bleed out on the floor.

"Gratitude, Mr. Massani" Vido quoted an ancient Earth dictator, Iosef Stalin. "Is a disease of dogs."

"THEN FUCKING DO IT!" Zaeed roared. "JUST FUCKING DO IT. YOU SON OF A BITCH!"

"Well since you asked so nicely."

He pulled the trigger and Zaeed's world exploded.

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UNKILLABLE

Pain.

Unimaginable pain.

Can't see.

Correction, can't see on the right. Left seems to be working.

No guards.

Stinks.

Bastards must have tossed us in the garbage chute.

No way I should have survived that.

Ignore the pain. Focus on the rage.

Rage is your anaesthetic.

Something on top of me.

With an agonised groan, Zaeed pushed himself up. Jim Bowie's body was on top of him. The old bastard's final expression was a peaceful one. He had gone to join his comrades in arms. Just like a good Marine, Semper Fidelis to his last breath.

Jessie was just underneath him. Her body was horribly twisted, like some kind of ragdoll. It hurt him even more to look at her. To know that she was dead...along with his unborn child.

"I promise," he stroked her ghostly white skin. "I promise I'll never stop hunting him. He'll burn for what he did to you."

There was still blood coming out of the hole in his face. The bullet must have glanced off his skull without touching the brain. He pulled himself over the edge of the dumpster and crashed to the ground. It was night time. There had to be police nearby, maybe an ambulance crew.

He wasn't dead yet.

Rage is keeping you alive.

He staggered toward the edge of the alleyway. A beggar cowered away from him, as if witnessing a spectre, risen from the grave.

Rage will always keep you alive.

His legs dragged along the ground. He tries to yell out, call for help, but his vocal cords do not respond. He falls.

There is nothing but rage. Nothing matters anymore.

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SHITTY OLD RIFLE

They discharged him after three weeks in the ICU. The docs were positive that he wasn't going to make it. Splinters of the bullet had found their way into the front right lobe of his brain. They had feared that in extracting them, they would kill him.

They didn't. He wasn't meant to die. Vido wouldn't be the one to take his life.

Zaeed knew he'd start again. He had clothes on his back, an unquenchable lust for vengeance burning every inch of his body, and a mission to carry out. He wouldn't form another merc group. They'd just turn on him. He'd work solo, keep himself safe from treachery. He wouldn't...couldn't...trust anyone but himself.

He was just missing one thing. That was why he had returned to this alley, and was rummaging around in the dumpster.

He had left an anonymous tip for the cops, where to find the bodies. Bowie was being shipped back to his brother on Earth. He'd get a full military funeral, as befitted a retired Operations Chief.

And Jessie...Jessie's parents were living on the Citadel, along with her siblings, a few in laws, and some children. She'd be buried properly, with her family around to lay her to rest. Maybe ONI would even read out the covert decorations she'd won before they burned her.

He didn't want to be there. He had more practical concerns. Like...hunting Vido into the ground and ripping him limb from limb. But to start off, he needed a weapon.

Jessie's suitcase was still at the bottom of the dumpster. The M-2 Avenger was there, buried underneath some overalls. A good weapon for a merc. Something reliable, to keep him alive, and keep the memory of her still in his heart. A reminder of his mission.

She had never named the gun. Didn't think that it was worth it, to label a piece of machinery. That was fine, he had the perfect name in mind.

Taking an engraver from his pocket, Zaeed ran it over the side of the barrel. Elegant calligraphy, just like his dad's landlady had shown him.

He brushed off the loose metal with a quick swipe of his hand, then nodded. He hadn't lost his touch. The name of his new weapon...and the name of the task he had set himself.

'Jessie'

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A/N: And with that, I thumb my nose at you 'Renegades' who think you're so tough, leaving him to die on Zorya. Nothing can kill him as long as he's got a mission. Not even an exploding refinery. He'll come back and kill any Shepard foolish enough to abandon him...in about twenty years time.

This one was getting a little too long to include Zorya, expect another one shot in a few days...or weeks. I have too many essays due to regularly update for a while.