"I'm not in love with Miranda," Shepard announced as the door to the observation deck hissed shut behind him.

Continuing to look out at the expanse of stars, Morinth made no reply. She was thinking of her sisters, ensconced in an asari monastery. Were they happy tending to bees, brewing honeymead, communing with the Goddess, or whatever it is they did in that dreadful place? Unlike her, Falere and Rila had been ashamed to discover what they were. They had chosen a life of safety and self-denial. They had chosen a prison, while she had chosen to run. She did not regret her decision, yet she couldn't help but wonder... Had her sisters managed to forget their true natures in the four hundred years since?

Morinth had thought of them only sparingly over the centuries, but playing the part of the dutiful justicar for the past few months had led to countless hours of solitude with little else to think about. Shepard had proven to be far less fun than she had initially hoped. She was tired of life aboard the Normandy. She would much rather be in a dark, pulsing nightclub somewhere, anywhere, dancing the night away in a hallex-induced haze, thinking about nothing but her next victim. Soon, she would be. The Collectors were dust, and she had lived up to her end of the bargain. The few belongings she had brought aboard were packed, and she would be disembarking within hours. At last, she would be free to hunt again. At last, she could put the ghost of her mother to rest.

Maybe after she had done a little hunting, she would send her sisters a letter. It had been too long since she had written them.

"Did you hear me?" Shepard prodded.

"I heard you," Morinth replied. She didn't intend to look at him until he said something interesting. "Why are you telling me this? What do you think I know of love?"

Shepard ignored the question. "She thinks I love her. I've told her I love her. But I don't. I'm not sure I ever did." There was no anxiety in his voice. No guilt. Just...weariness.

Oh very well. She turned to him. "You're boring me, Shepard. And you know how I hate that. Of course you don't love her."

Shepard's eyes burned like dying embers, casting an orange pallor on the scars that crisscrossed his face. "You knew?"

She sighed. Idiot. "Do you remember that night in Afterlife? Before we went back to my place?" Before we killed my mother?

Shepard shrugged his shoulders slightly. "Yeah. What of it?"

Smiling, she stepped toward him. "In between all those clever, calculated words you spoke in the dark, you said something that was true." She touched his arm, relishing the electric discharge.

"Now I'm getting bored," he said, shrugging her hand away. "What great truth did I impart?"

She smirked as she turned and walked toward the divan, hips slowly swaying. "That we were alike."

He barked out a sharp laugh. "I'm nothing like you!"

"No?" she replied, seating herself. "Tell me, Shepard... Why did you court Miranda?"

"Well... Have you seen her?"

"SO it was just about sex, then? A 'roll in the potato patch,' as I once heard crewman Donnelly put it?"

Sighing, Shepard shook his head. "No. Not just that."

"Then what was it you desired from the perfect Miss Lawson?"

Shepard hesitated for a moment, then crossed the room. Morinth waited, knowing she need not repeat the question. He sat down on the divan, not quite beside her.

"A... a new beginning, I guess."

"How trite."

"Yet true. Unless you'll let me go back to my first answer."

"Too late. What went wrong?"

"I don't know. And I really don't know why I should be talking to you about it."

Morinth slid over, sidling closer to him. "Because it's safe. Soon I will leave, and I will be out of your life forever."

"Nothing about you is safe."

"Flatterer."

Shepard paused. "Forget it. It's over with Miranda anyway."

Morinth ignored his protest. "Tell me what happened."

"We fought." He sighed. "We always fight, but this was bad. I've never seen her so angry."

"What did you do to upset her?"

Shepard gave a small smile of resignation. "What didn't I do? She says I'm holding back. That I'm sabotaging myself, our relationship." He chuckled. "Imagine if she knew about you."

"Imagine." She smiled, tracing a finger slowly down his arm.

"That isn't funny. Let's change the subject."

"Very well," she replied nonchalantly, waiting a few beats. "How many people have you killed?"

Shepard snorted. "There's a conversation starter. How many have you killed?"

"Nearly four thousand. But I asked you first."

Shepard looked half-impressed. "Four thousand, eh? I'm afraid I stopped counting a long time ago."

"Humor me."

"Do geth count?"

"No."

"Batarians?"

Morinth cocked her head at him. "Yes, they count."

Shepard did an imaginary count with his fingers. "Fuck if I know. Way over three hundred thousand, if you count Aratoht."

Morinth's pupils dilated. She leaned in, studying the lines of his face. "How does it make you feel?"

"Killing?"

"Yes, how does killing make you feel?" Her voice had turned low, seductive. Her hand wandered down to his thigh.

Shepard sighed. "Truthfully, I used to enjoy it."

"And now?"

"Now I don't feel anything."

Morinth nodded. "Maybe we're more alike than you realize." Her hand was in Shepard's pants. Her mouth curled in a smug smile as she found him hard for her.

Shepard grunted softly. "This... isn't what I had in mind."

"It's exactly what you had in mind, Shepard." Her voice was soothing, almost a purr. "Relax. I'll give you what you want." What I want. She looked into his eyes as she stroked him. She had handled cocks before. She thought they were ridiculous, but she was glad for them. Human males were very easy to manipulate once you held their cock. If geth had an on/off switch, it would look like a cock.

"And what do I want?" He still hadn't moved to stop her.

She continued to hold his gaze. "You want an end to the struggle. To stop pretending that you care. You resent Miranda for bringing you back. That's the thing you will not say to her. It eats at you. And yet you never came back - not really. The real you is still in the Void. You are a husk. An automaton operating on muscle memory."

Shepard stared back as her words washed over him. His will was evaporating, but not without one last feeble protest. "The Reapers..."

"...are someone else's concern now." Morinth's voice grew thick with desire. Her skin tingled as biotic energy coursed through her. She felt exhilarated, powerful. It had been too long since last she felt this. "You've done enough, Shepard. What no one else could. It's time to lay down your responsibilities, go back to where you belong." She squeezed his cock to keep him from coming too soon. He moaned, his hips bucking in protest. Morinth's other hand snaked around to the back of his head. That always made the process easier.

"Yes," he mumbled. "Go back..." His eyes were nearly vacant. He had succumbed so quickly, willingly. She remembered how strong he had seemed when she first met him. She had never wanted anyone more. And now she would have him, completely and utterly. He would become a part of her.

The melding began. Morinth gasped as a flood of memories surged into her like an electrical current.


He is trapped in a grimy alley that stinks of piss and garbage, surrounded by members of the Skulls. Two thugs on one side, one on the other. The one is almost a man, bigger and older than Shepard. The others are about Shepard's size. All three have knives.

He starts with the big one. He takes him out quick, knocking him down with a biotic push, followed by a kick to the head. His neck lolls at an unnatural angle. If their faces are to be believed, the other two have never seen biotics before. They come at him anyway. Shepard takes them apart; leaves them bleeding and crying on the ground, but alive. He tells them that if they say anything of what they saw, he'll come back to finish them.


The batarian mother positions herself between Shepard and her two children. They whimper and cower behind her, peering up at Shepard with dark, frightened eyes. He respects the woman's bravery, but it will not save her.

Please, human, spare my children's lives if not my own, the four-eyed woman pleads. They were only here to visit their father!

The father lies dead on the ground, his brains leaking out. He shit himself. Shepard can smell it.

I had friends on Elysium, Shepard replies, voice quivering with rage. They died in the Blitz.

He shoots the mother first, then the children. He won't leave them to be orphans.


A geth dropship rumbles overhead and lands near the nuke.

Ashley or Kaidan. One must be sacrificed. He must choose.

Kaidan is the superior officer. Smarter. Higher ranking. A powerful biotic.

Ashley is a superstitious xenophobe. Comes from a disgraced line. Likes poems that don't rhyme.

In the end, none of those things factor into his choice.


Wrex has made a problem of himself. He wants Saren's genophage cure.

Shepard signals for Ash to be ready while he tries to talk the krogan down.

Wrex points a gun at him. Heated words are exchanged. Wrex finally relents.

Ash looks at Shepard expectantly, still poised. He considers for a moment, then shakes his head slightly.


The smoldering, broken thing that had been Saren lies dead. Garrus kicks at it to make sure. Really sure this time.

The Citadel is still under attack. Joker's voice comes over the comm. Save the Council or attack Sovereign?

Fuck the Council.


The Normandy explodes. Shepard tumbles through space, thrown clear of the disintegrating ship. He glimpses an escape shuttle and hopes Ash got away.

His suit is leaking. Fuck. He flails, trying to find the hole and plug it. He can't.

The planet below is a majestic swirl of blue and white. It fills his vision, beckoning to him.

He wonders if it will hurt.


Wilson is a worm; duplicity oozes from him like slime. Shepard follows him. Come on, through here, the bald-headed scientist urges, reaching the door. It slides open, revealing a woman. Her face twists in contempt as she levels a gun at Wilson's throat and pulls the trigger. Tiny droplets of blood spatter her perfectly unblemished face. Wilson gurgles once and falls to the ground.

The woman turns to Shepard. Sapphire eyes blaze like justice, stripping everything bare. She is a contrast of darkness and light, as terrifying as a thunderstorm.

She is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.


The battlefield is strewn with dead bugmen. Smoke and the odor of charred flesh linger in the air.

The defense tower is on line. The Collector vessel is retreating, stealing away with half the colonists. Miranda tends to Shepard's wounds.

Ashley appears. I loved you, she says. But I don't trust Cerberus.

Shepard tries to explain. Ashley leaves.

He doesn't blame her. What he doesn't understand is why he feels nothing for her.


You're nowhere near my league, he condescends.

The Ardat-Yakshi is excited by his brazen words, but she still fancies herself the predator. She settles beside him and fixes her gaze upon him. He meets it unflinchingly and listens to her silken-voiced demands. Her coal-black eyes make dark, seductive promises, but he proves the truth of his words. She has no power over him. He is the predator, and she the prey.

Perhaps that is why he feels confident when he chooses her over the justicar. It isn't because of the dark promise of her eyes. He's sure of that much.


I am the very model of a scientist Salarian,
I've studies species, Turian, Asari, and Batarian.
I'm quite good at genetics as a subset of biology,
because I am an expert which I know is a tautology!


He sits on the floor of the engine room, his back against the wall. Miranda nestles in his arms, skin against skin. The cold, hard floor is littered with discarded articles of clothing. Neither one speaks. They are sweaty and content. He struggles to put a name to what it is he feels.

Peace.

It doesn't fill the hole inside him, but it's a start.


"No," Shepard whimpered. I've changed my mind. I want to live.

"It's too late, Shepard," came Morinth's mocking reply. "You chose this end." He wasn't sure if the words were spoken aloud, but they were clear as day. He tried to resist, to push her away, to break the melding. But he was no longer in control of his nervous system. He felt as if he were burning from the inside out, as if his blood were turning to magma. The Void loomed all around him, pressing in, ready to swallow him once again.


The Illusive Man crushes a cigarette stub into a tray, snuffing it out. His movements are leisurely, his voice calm. "I assure you Shepard..."

"Cut the crap," Shepard warns. "Miranda resigned, and you're going to accept her resignation. She's mine now. And if anything happens to Oriana, the data cache I found on Lorek gets uploaded to the Alliance. They'll destroy what's left of your chickenshit organization, and I'll kill you myself. That pussy Kai Leng won't be able to protect you."

The Illusive Man ponders the ultimatum as he lights a new cigarette. "That's a valuable chip you're holding, Shepard. Are you sure you want to cash it in just yet?"

"Fucking right I do." Shepard turns off the holo-projector and turns to leave the room.

He hears a gunshot.


"Shepard! Wake up!" He felt a stinging sensation on his face. "Wake up goddamnit! I'm not going to lose you!" He opened his eyes. He was on the floor, at the foot of the divan. Morinth lay sprawled on the cushions, still staring at him. Her eyes were lifeless and dark - her brains splattered behind her. Miranda crouched over him, gun on the floor next to her. "Are you alright?" She peered down at him. Her eyes were red with worry, her cheeks wet. Dark hair fell about her pale face, like a shroud.

She was darkness and light, an avenging angel.

She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.