Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or storylines from the Mass Effect Universe.

Story Updated: This story was updated in response to certain reveals in Mass Effect 3 such as Liara coming from Armali and Matriarch Aethyta being Benezia's former partner. There were also certain items that I wanted to add to EW Shepard as well. So if you have read this before and you see additions you are not going crazy ... well at least not as it pertains to your memory of this story. - PM Canales 5/18/2012 -

Author's Note: This story was started simply as a personal back story for my "canon" Shepard in Mass Effect. It was to focus only on E.W. Shepard to show what she had lost before her introduction on the Normandy. But as I started it, Liara T'Soni was over my shoulder wanting to be a part of the overall story. I've never written fan fiction before and wasn't planning on putting this out but here it goes.

I hope that you enjoy it ... at least a little.

"Well, what about Shepard?" Ricky asked, "She's pretty tough."

"She's also fearless," Tyler added, "I heard that she killed a wild hog last summer up by Timbersome Creek."

Ricky, all excited, cut him off "That's true! And she did it as it was charging at her! Kablam!"

"I heard that it was the Sheriff that killed it," Freddy argued.

"No," Ricky shook his head, "It was Shepard! The Sheriff had went off to ... to ... well, I'm not really sure why she went off but Shep was left there with the gun and that hog just appeared. Shepard grabbed the Sheriff's Winchester, aimed for a shoulder shot and ... bam! Down it went!"

"Aw, c'mon!" Freddy spit. "That's a bunch of bunk!"

Ricky turned to look at Broder, the oldest of the boys, "You remember that hog, don't cha Broder … Our families ate it at the barbeque her parents had last summer at their place."

"Ah, that's hog wash!" Freddy snorted. "Get it? HOG wash!"

"I don't know," Broder replied, as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I like Shepard, but she's a girl. She could get hurt and well ... cry."

Ewald agreed, "Yah, a girl. They cry easy. Besides, she can't be too tough … cuz she takes ballet with my sister. My sister! I ain't playing hockey with my sister!"

"Phhfft! How tough can she be?" Freddy asked to no one in particular as he lifted the front of his bike off the ground. "What … is she gonna play in a tutu?" His own joke made him snort harder pushing snot down his face.

Broder took off his Mindoir Tigers baseball cap and hit it across the back of Freddy's head. "Clean your face junior!" Freddy yelped and threatened to tell their mother if he did that again. Freddy was two years younger than Broder and they had come to Mindoir with their mother just 5 years prior. Their step-father had been hired by the Mindoir Nokeic Mining Company as a Process Control Supervisor (Second Class Power Engineer) and while typically the employees of the MNMC lived in the town of Moorland, their step-father wanted his wife and step-sons in a safer community. So he worked for two years on Mindoir, leaving his family back on Earth with his wife's parents in North Carolina, until he had enough money and a place. He should have been able to have them move off-world after a year but he needed approval by the Highland Falls Committee to purchase a small house in their farming community. That approval had been a struggle to get because the citizens preferred the mining personnel to stay in their own community of Moorland. He had almost given up hope when his struggle had come to the attention of the Immanuel Baptist Church pastor. Through that pastor's intervention he was approved, purchased the home and brought his family to Mindoir. The pastor even assisted in his wife getting a waitress job at the Comet Café. "I don't know Ricky; girls aren't as tough as us boys. If something happened to her … Nah, don't want no cryin' or hurt girl on our team. Who else can we get?"

The boys stood around at a loss on the street corner in front of Rurik's Grocers. Names were thrown about but knocked down for various reasons; away for the summer vacation, too weak, to short, ugly hair, not liked by one or more of the little group. As the minutes ticked on with no resolution, Ricky put his hands in his jeans. "Broder, we could be here all day and still not have one more player. If that happens, well … we forfeit."

"Forrrrfeit!" Ewald giggled. "You said a bad word!"

"Forfeit isn't a bad word, stupid. The word fu…" Freddy stopped midway as Mr. Rurik appeared with a broom to sweep the sidewalk. Mr. Rurik was a kind old man who had moved to Mindoir shortly after it was settled from Scotland. He would wear his kilt every Wednesday and at all community events ... bringing along his bag pipes when asked. He loved to tell how he could trace his lineage all the way to William of Orange and that had made the boys laugh. They started referring to Mr. AlasdairRurik as Orangster ... but never to his face. As the old man smiled at the boys and commented on the heat they politely greeted the grocer and moved to the other side of the street.

Broder removed his cap again and used the back of his arm to wipe the sweat off his brow. "Balders! I guess we have no choice then. Go see if Shep will play and we'll meet ya at the park."

"Cool!" Ricky shouted as he ran down the street towards the Shepard home.

He was so glad that she would be playing with them; he ignored it when Broder yelled after him, "And if she cries, so will you!"

"Now doll. Why do you want to treat me this way? Haven't I been good to you? Please, please be nice to your boy and …" CLANK! "Damn it!" Pierce Shepard rolled out from under his 1943 Ford Jeep as Ricky came barreling down the street.

"Hi, Mr. Shepard," Ricky shouted as he came to a sudden stop against the Jeep, "Man, is this ole' thing broken down again?"

"What? This thing isn't broken down," Pierce Shepard replied as he grabbed the hose and tried cooling down by running water over the back of his neck and hair, "She just likes a little attention. You know how women are."

"That's not a woman, Mr. Shepard," Ricky laughed. "That's a piece of junk with wheels!"

"What? Don't hurt my gal's feelings," Pierce dropped the hose, put the boy in a headlock and drug him over to the front of the Jeep, "Now apologize to the lady, young man."

Ricky continued to laugh as he apologized to the Jeep. "I'm sorry ma'am. You are beau-TI-ful and very, very smart. And your wheels are very … round!"

Pierce let the boy go after giving him a quick hug and then turned off the hose, "That's better … I guess you're looking for Eli?"

"Yes sir," Ricky said as they both started walking up to the front porch, "we need Shepard to come play grass hockey with us at the park."

"Whoa, there boy," Pierce stopped Ricky at the porch steps, "Uh, if you go up in that house and say the word hockey in front of Mrs. Shepard …" Pierce whistled and pulled the young boy back to the curb. "This will take some delicate handling. You go to the park and Eli will meet you there."

"Yes sir, Mr. Shepard." Ricky laughed and ran off back in the direction he came.

Pierce Shepard walked back to the porch steps where his Swamp Fox beer was sitting and after wiping his hands on his official "work on Jeep" jeans, grabbed his Haakon Electrical & Plumbing Company shirt off the rail, picked up his beer and took a gulp before heading into the house. As Pierce passed through the living room he noticed his Gibson guitar leaning against the couch ... It appeared that his daughter had been strumming on his guitar again and instead of putting it back on the stand she had carelessly laid it against the couch. Pierce shook his head and placed the Gibson back where it belonged. He liked his day job as the manager of HE&PC but he really loved his side gigs with the band he had put together with his best friend Birgit Hallestrøm called The Live Sprockets.

He had been playing in bands since he was fourteen and living just outside Savannah, Georgia at a place called Tybee Island. Pierce considered himself just a good ole' Georgia boy, who had a very traditional upbringing, with his father a fireman and his mother an elementary schoolteacher. His parents kept him and his two sisters focused on education, sports and family. When he wasn't in school, fishing with his dad, playing high school baseball, surfing or making music, he was chasing girls. As the years passed, Pierce moved around with friends still playing music while doing odd jobs and chasing girls. He had no particular "type" of gal … heck, he loved them all.

"Elizabeth, wipe your feet before you enter this house." Pierce heard his wife say to their daughter as the backdoor was opened. He stopped in his tracks and quickly headed back outside to the mat on the front porch. He looked at his boots and saw the mud that was a result of his cool down treatments with the hose and saw the track on the living room floor. Shit! This is not good! Pierce thought as he took off his boots on the porch and looked at what he had done. Worried that his wife would come into the front part of the house, Pierce quickly took his shirt and began wiping any traces of mud off the oak floor in the living room. As he wiped up the floor, he couldn't help but smile as he thought, Oh, brother … Is this what Casanova was doing in his 40's? Who would ever have guessed that he would willingly be on all fours wiping up mud with one of his own shirts? Isn't love grand! He thought as he heard his wife moving about in the kitchen.

A much younger Pierce had no desire to settle down, thought love was something for suckers and as his friends started to get married and have kids he made new friends who shared his very hedonistic lifestyle. He knew that love existed, he saw his parents overall happy marriage, but he couldn't see that kind of life for him. Not when there was so much out there to see and so many women willing to jump into his bed. But life is a funny thing … it moves people in different directions than they themselves would have planned ... one step at a time.

The first step to move Pierce to where he was now happened as he was touring Europe with a band called The Morphine Drip. It was on that tour that he met Birgit Hallestrøm in Sweden. They had a brief fling but given that she preferred women and he preferred being single, they quickly moved into the friendship category. Birgit, who had been on her own since she was fourteen, was ready to start her life over so she applied and was accepted to the new colony being established on a planet called Mindoir. She had started there in construction and within a few years she was part of the new Highland Falls Police Department that was established after an ugly incident occured between a miner and a farmer. Pierce had laughed at her for becoming a trailer park colonist. Despite the long distance, the two kept in contact over the years and it was Birgit who talked Pierce into going on vacation with her to Costa Blanca, Spain. They both loved rock climbing and she had wanted to try her hand at it there. Nearing the end of the vacation and while taking a break from climbing, Pierce and Birgit were sunning on the beach in Alicante. Birgit couldn't help but notice the beautiful woman staring out to sea. She must have watched the woman for twenty minutes before she nudged Pierce who was half-asleep. "Have you ever seen a woman so beautiful?" Birgit asked just loud enough for him to hear. Beautiful didn't even start to describe her in Pierce's eyes. He had never seen anything so striking and quickly realized that he was among many admirers. Normally, he would have gone over to her and worked his moves but for the first time in his life found himself paralyzed. It was more than her beauty but also the way that she held herself and the way that she moved that made him stupid, so he just watched her without speaking.

"Momma, can you get the blue bowl for me? It's too high." The words brought Pierce back from his daydream. That same woman was now in his kitchen telling their daughter a story about when she was just able to walk. "You would try and build steps using chairs, tables, boxes … even your stuffed animal, just about anything to get to the cookie jar." This was followed by both of them laughing in the kitchen, then a small voice piped up, "That was when I was a baby, momma. I'm grown up now." Pierce smiled at his little kid's response and couldn't agree more when he heard his wife say, "Is that so? Well, you are still my baby at ten and you will be my baby at thirty and at fifty and at-" Pierce could tell that Hannah was tickling their daughter as giggles and pleas of "Momma, stop!" were heard.

Their baby … Elizabeth Whisper Shepard. She was the blessing that cemented the marriage of Pierce and Hannah. Her first name was that of his mother and her second was Hannah's choice, "All that is good in my life, came as a whisper. Quiet, soothing and without vanity … she is the greatest blessing in my life. She is my whisper." Eli, as Pierce called her, had her mother's features and build, everything but the lips. That was where his genes kicked in. He had inherited full lips from his mother and had hated them. They weren't Mick Jagger full but they were "plush", as one girlfriend called them. He still didn't know what the hell that meant. All he knew was that they were a little too feminine for a guy as far as he was concerned, but after seeing his daughter smile, smile like his own mother; it made it all worth it. Living with those "plush" lips had paid off if it meant handing them off to his daughter.

Pierce remembered the beer and slid it behind his oversized leather chair and then strolled into the kitchen where he found Shepard in the kitchen shelling the garden peas that she had just picked with her mother. Hannah was nowhere to be seen, but Pierce knew that she had to be close since he hadn't heard the back door open. So he quietly walked up to Shepard, bent down where she was sitting and whispered in her ear, "Ricky has asked if you could join him and a few others to a hockey game at the park."

Shepard looked up at her dad with a grin and clumsily put the bowl on the table spilling peas on the floor. Pierce waved her to stay seated, while he retrieved the runaway peas and in a loud voice said, "Where is your mom?" then whispered, "I'll divert preacher woman … but you owe me."

Shepard grinned and in a voice just as loud replied, "She went in the laundry room. Do you want me to get her, daddy?"

"What's with all the shouting?" Hannah asked as she came back into the kitchen.

Pierce took two long strides and scooped his wife up in his arms, "Come here woman!"

"Pierce," Hannah struggled against his embrace as well as the grease on him from the Jeep, "You have muck on you and you stink of sweat. Put me down!"

"Muck? Stink? Hmmmm, then why don't you come take a shower with me?" Pierce teased as he raised an eyebrow, "You could baptize me clean, preacher woman."

Hannah placed her hand across his mouth, looked at their young daughter and back at her husband, "Pierce, hush and put me down!"

Pierce laughing, let her down and patted her behind, "You make me think sinful thoughts preacher woman."

Preacher woman was Pierce's name for his wife. She was, after all, the pastor at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Mindoir. After being in the community for over twelve years the Shepards were well liked and Pierce was now proud to be a "colonist". He was the town's all-around good joe who would lend a hand if your vehicle was broke down, help you build a barbeque pit or barn on your property, meet you at a local fishing hole, hunt in season, play poker, B.S at the local pub, coach the local little league team, but rarely would you see him at church. People commented at times on the fact that he didn't attend church but his wife was so respected and loved that it never got past the observation stage. In fact, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone, churchgoer or not, who didn't like and respect the pastor. She was kind and caring to everyone. When she wasn't focused on the church, she taught piano and helped out at the elementary school that young Shepard attended. Neighbors could rely on her for spiritual guidance, gardening tips, minor nursing needs and a warm smile of comfort. Hannah always appeared confident and calm to everyone around her, a woman above reproach.

At this moment, Pierce knew that he was frustrating this highly respected woman and as she started to walk away from him, he playfully pulled her back to him, hugging her from behind, "What is wrong with you Pierce?" Pierce began whispering sweet nothings as Hannah tried pulling away, "Mr. Shepard, behave yourself and mind your tongue!"

Pierce laughed, then gently pulled her closer and whispered in her ear, "Where would you like my tongue?"

Hannah blushed and quickly turned around to face him. She placed her hand back over his mouth as she became even more frustrated and began to scold him, "Pierce, your daughter is in the room. What is wrong with you this afternoon?"

"Daughter," Pierce laughed as he pulled Hannah's hand away, "I have fallen under the spell of a spiritual woman. Go play in the park for a couple of hours. I want this woman to heal me."

Shepard laughed at her father but waited for her mother to approve her leaving and once Hannah waved her on, she raced out of the kitchen, through the living room and banging out the front door as her father began serenading her mother with their song Besame la Boca.

It was this song that had brought the two together and was forever considered theirs. Two days after Pierce had watched this vision on the beach, he strolled past a restaurant which had a beautiful melody drifting out onto the street. The music pulled Pierce into the restaurant, where he found the same woman playing the piano as others sat around listening. He quickly ran to his cheap hotel room and returned with his guitar knowing that when words failed him, music was there to help. So he pulled a chair close to the piano, smiled at her and joined her in playing Besame la Boca.

The woman simply watched him as she continued playing and after they were finished Pierce asked her if she would have drinks with him. When she declined he realized that she was from France by her accent and asked if she was in Alicante on vacation. Pierce was shocked to learn that his "dream" woman was the pastor at the local Immanuel Baptist Church. Pierce had been raised a Baptist himself but had never really believed and was agnostic leaning towards atheistic. When she asked him what faith he was, he debated on lying. He knew that as soon as he said either A word that she would start to preach at him or walk out or worse, both. But Pierce was not one to be dishonest even in bedding women. So he told her how he felt, waiting on her to respond, but she was quiet as she looked at him. Pierce was almost at the point of speaking just to break the silence when she smiled and asked, "And you don't mind my faith?"

Here Pierce was expecting … no waiting for her to judge him and instead she was concerned about how he felt. It was a peek into the future with Hannah, who never seemed to put pressure or demands on Pierce; in fact he always seemed to be the one trying to get more of her. He started to attend church, not because she asked or expected it or because he was becoming a believer, but because he couldn't stand not being near her. Just a smile of approval from her or a moment of her attention made him feel important. In fact, she made him feel for the first time in his life that he really mattered. Pierce spent a year not trying to get her in bed, although it did result in many cold showers, but focused on getting a ring on her finger that said she was his. She had turned him down twice before she finally said yes and on their wedding day he cried. He didn't care who saw, he just knew that he had never felt so happy or grateful the day that Hannah Olivie Durante became his wife. Those that had known Pierce, from his family to his closest friends, were amazed at the change she had brought about in him. He still was not a believer in any god but he believed in her and with her influence started believing in himself for the first time. Maybe he could be a good man like his father. Maybe he could love only one woman. Just maybe.

With little Shepard out of the house, Pierce looked into his wife's dark green eyes as he became more serious in his desire for her. "Do you know how you make me feel, Hannah?"

Hannah placed her hands on his cheeks, softly kissed him and then whispered soft words in French.

This always pleased him and he lowered his hands to cup her derrière, "What did you say?"

Hannah smiled as she pulled off his t-shirt, still speaking soft words in French, stopping short of removing the shirt completely off of him. He now found his hands caught in the t-shirt as she began pulling him towards the shower.

"Where are you taking me warden?" He pretended to struggle as they went down the hallway. "No warden, I'll be a good boy!" Hannah started to laugh as she pulled him into the shower "Help! I'm trapped! Can someone help me?"