Somehow, Mercer managed to push himself to his feet even as more cryo rounds impacted against him and a crystalline sheen of frost began to creep over his body. He was leaning against the wall and trying to regain his footing but it was too little and too late. Covton poured fire into him and knew with a smug satisfaction that this would be the end of Zeus. But Mercer somehow still found the strength to move on, staggering forwards as though still intent on bloody murder. His hands tried to shift, only to shatter into shards of ice. They healed slowly. His staggering steps became slower, his movement began to become sluggish.

Mercer started to draw back towards the wall. Covton frowned. That didn't make sense. According to everything he knew about Zeus, the abomination ought to pressing the attack now more than ever. With his escape route cut off and his life forfit, the sheer berserker rage that he was known for should have been taking over. He should have been fighting widley, doing his best to take them with him.

He had a bad feeling about this...

Covton came to his side. His face raw and bloody; his uniform torn. Nevertheless, he stood tall by the side of his commander. His presence certainly inspired confidence in Covton and he was able to put aside the nagging worries that chewed at his mind.

Truth be told, Covton found himself impressed by Mercer. Just a little. Blackwatch training was tough and you were taught to respect power as well as endurance and determination. It was clear to him that Mercer had all of these things. Back to the wall and partially frozen, he nevertheless ahd enough fight left in him to attempt to resist. How many others would have surrendered by this point? Or just lay down and died? But not Mercer, he was intent on playing it out to the bitter end.

No wonder that he had been able to evade them for so long, no wonder he had become such a legend amongst their ranks! But all that was over now, Alex Mercer's time was done. And it was he, Commander Covton, who had struck the final blow. Soon it would all be over.

Then it was on to glory.

Mercer seemed to be losing momentum as he pressed himself further into the wall as though trying to meld into it. That still didn't make sense, why was he doing that? What could he hope to achieve? With his back against the dented wall, Mercer seemed to fold into himself. Crossing his arms and hunching over. Warning bells went off in Covton's head, but he couldn't put his finger on just what was happening. Nevertheless...

"Stop him!" He shouted to the soldiers. More rounds slammed into the human-shaped monster. Ice crystals formed between his arms and fingers. Anything else would be so much frozen meat by now but Mercer was different. Even though the cryo rounds had a more powerful effect than anything else they could have tried, they still lacked the punch to do anything but gradual harm.

Abruptly, Marcus grabbed his shoulder. Covton turned to ask what the problem was but he saw it all in the D-Code's eyes. Of course, that was why he was backing away, that was why he had hunched over, He wasn't beaten at all, far from it. Covton's mind flashed back to all the briefings on Mercer, to everything that he had learned when he had joined and later. To all that he knew of the viral abominaton.

And it all pointed to one sic kingly obvious fact. And he had missed it.

"Get down!" Marcus snapped to the soldiers. " Get down you fools!"

It was too late.

There was a single motion from Mercer and he almost seemed to explode. Churning biomass ripped from his form and shaped itself into dozens of black spears. Brittle from the frost, many snapped and broke before they could do anything but more came. He was pouring his all into this, Covton realized with a sinking feeling in his chest. The spikes speared forwards before anyone could react. A wave of chitinous death. The man beside him was impaled through the face, two other soldiers died when their chests were penetrated.

Three whole spears were reserved for him. They came rapidly as the others; Covton was stunned by the speed of the assault and couldn't move in time. His body felt frozen, as though it were he and not his foe who had been bombarded by cryo rounds. He was going to die, he knew that now as the spears seemed to approach so slowly. His body was locked, the world around him slowed to a crawl. Death oncoming and he couldn't move. He was a fool. A fool to think he could tackle Mercer on his own, a fool to think that he had no other choice but to accept such a dangerous mission. A fool to lock out the rest of Blackwatch from the loop Now that he was dead, Mercer would escape and the rest of Blackwatch would be none the wiser. He had cost them their chance to destroy their most hated enemy.

He was a failure. No matter what he did or how much he tried to rise above it, every time he came close to finally proving himself wrong, something happened to prove him right. Covton was going to die and he was going to die a failure.

A strong hand gripped his shoulder and before Covton could even recognise him, Marcus had turned and flung the commander to the far end of the room. He landed in a painful heap but it was better than death. But Marcus had left no time to escape himself and so, the three spikes that had been destined for the commander buried themselves in his flesh. Agonized, he was reduced to a limp form on the ground. Blood pooling under him.

He was one of the lucky ones. The others were torn to shreds; their bodies lacking the internal reinforcements of the D-Code's many surgeries. And lacking his super-human speed, they didn't even see death coming. Their remains were strewn across the room, a whole squid wiped out in the blinking of an eye.

Blinking back tears of rage and pain, Covton tried to rise. His whole body was shaking. He was in shock, he realized in a distant sort of way. With all the times that he had put himself into danger, all the times that he had played the risks, this was the first time he had looked death so surely in the face and known that it was the end for him. Without Covton, it would have been.

Mercer's shape returned to his human form now. He was reduced, even Covton could see that. He must have burned a lot of biomass to use that attack and his body seemed to be the worse for it. His skin was pale and chipped, almost frozen solid from the results of their attack. He couldn't shape-shift but that was scant comfort for Covton. Because even without his blades, Mercer could tear him apart with his bare hands.

Covton fumbled for his gun; his hands were numb and he couldn't seem to make them work right. It took several agonizing seconds for him to draw and by then, Mercer was already striding towards him. This time, he didn't walk like a predator. That supreme confidence was gone. Instead, he walked like what he was. A dangerous man who had been driven to the very edge of his endurance.

"I am going to rip you to shreds, Covton." Mercer announced. His walk was slow and painful, but purposeful. Covton's hands shook as he tried to aim the gun, but he couldn't seem to make himself pull the trigger. His hand wasn't responding at all. Mercer was coming to kill him and he couldn't even make his own hand move to defend himself! He had wanted to destroy the abomination, but he had only ended up enraging it.

What have I done?He wondered.

Covton fumbled with his gun, years of experience seeming to melt away before the terrifying spectre of Alex Mercer. He'd never faced anything like this, he realised. With all his little plans, he'd never expected anything like this. What had he walked into? With that stupid little smile on his face? His own words to Marcus drifted back into his ears.

''Of course it will work. My plans always work.''

And now he was going to die because his plan hadn't worked.

It almost didn't seem fair. But then, if there was one thing being a member of Blackwatch taught regardless of rank. It was that life wasn't fair.

"I'm afraid..." Croaked a voice from the ground. "We h-have a no...ripping policy."

Covton's heart leapt. Marcus! How had he survived? That final blow should have ended even a D-Code. But somehow the other man was managing to push himself to his feet. A gaping hole in his chest, his skull undoubtedly fractured, who knew how much internal damage and yet he was still getting back up?

Admiration welled up in his chest and not for the first time, Covton was glad that he worked so closely with Marcus.

His armour was practically dyed red in his own blood. His left eye was a bleeding mess; his chest had been cored by one of the spikes and his right arm hung limply by a mere handful of flesh and muscle.

"You're still alive?" Mercer said in surprise.

"Reports of my death, etc, etc, greatly exaggerated.." Marcus managed a blood-stained grin. " Oh, you may have hurt me a bit, but its not as bad as it looks. Any second now, my D-Code Healing Factor will jump into action and I'll be back to full health. You thought you were the only one who could process biomass?"

The D-Code stood upright now, what could be seen of his skin was discoloured, blood loss surely made it hard to stay in one place but Marcus seemed quite ready to throw down with Mercer again. Covton knew that Marcus had to be nearing the point where he couldn't stand let alone fight... but did Mercer know that? How much did Mercer know about modern D-Codes? How much was he willing to risk finding out?

Mercer, apparently, was not willing to risk much. He cast one look at Covton and said.

"I'll be back for you later."

Then, he was off. Running as fast as he could through the door. There were shouts from beyond as the few soldiers Covton still had left reacted but there wasn't enough of them to stop him. Maybe if they were all in one place and the D-Codes were there too, but not like this.

Mercer would escape.

"Is he gone?" Marcus asked, his voice was ragged with pain and exhaustion. " I would check myself but I seem to have caught a touch of blindness. Also, I'm fairly certain that my lungs and heart traded places. And my spleen may have left the building..."

"He's gone." Covton confirmed, finally regaining enough control to speak.

"Ah. Good."

With a thump, Marcus was on the ground again.

"Shit." Covton swore, rushing over to the super soldier. His medical training came rushing back, but not all of it was applicable to a D-Code, in fact most of it was useless. Covton did what he could. Thoughts of Mercer were excluded from his mind as for once, the Blackwatch soldier tried to save a life rather than take it.

"Sir!"

Covton turned from his grisly work. One of the few troopers he had held in reserve was now standing at the door. His armour was scarred from a near hit by Mercer but he seemed to be alive so that was better than most who had thrown down with the monster,

"Sir, Zeus has left the building but we have drones tracking him now, he can't get far! We'll have him!"

Covton could imagine the glee on the soldier's face, it seemed so hard to remember now just how that glee had felt.

"No."

"Sir?"

"I said no! Send the D-Codes instead, and get all the survivors together. We're leaving as soon as he is confirmed death. I don't want us here any moment longer than we need to be."

"You don't want him captured?"

"No." Covton's hand shook a bit as he recalled how close he had come to death such a short time ago. "No, I want him burned. I want to make sure that he can never threaten us again. Forget capture, forget limiting our firepower. If I had a proper ship I'd blow this entire station just to make sure he doesn't get away. Since we can't do that, I'm ordering full authorization to the D-Codes. Full authority to act as they like, no holds no limits. I want them to shred him as well as anyone who gets in their way."

"Sir, what if he retreats into one of the more public areas, people could get hurt."

"That doesn't matter now. Full authority, soldier. I want them armed with their pick of what we have. And make damn sure they know that they aren't to come back until he is confirmed dead!"

"Sir!"

The soldier turned to leave.

"And get a medic in here!" Covton snarled "If we even have one left..."

Every movement brought a searing flash of pain as Alex Mercer half ran half limped from the Blackwatch base. Pain filled his body and confusion did the same his mind. His body was threatening him with total failure now, he knew he shouldn't have put that much effort into his devastator attack but it was the only way to overcome the freezing effect. He had had to burn up the vast majority of his biomass just to make it work, and now he was suffering he consequences. Every second was one second closer to the his body just shutting down to regenerate and he knew that he couldn't allow that. Blackwatch would be hunting him now, despite their losses. Maybe if he had managed to kill the commander they would have fallen back...

Damn that D-Code! How could he have possibly managed to get up after that? A spike to the chest wasn't the kind of thing anyone just walked off! Alex was ninety percent certain that the whole ''D-Code Healing Factor'' was bullshit but he couldn't risk the chance that it wasn't. If he had to face a full strength D-Code in this shape, things could get quite bad. So he had fled.

Well, at least he'd been able to get that squad of soldiers. That was less Blackwatch troopers for him to deal with later. Right now, he needed to find somewhere where he could hide out for a while and sleep. It wasn't really sleep, of course. More like a stasis during which his body was able to kick its regenerative properties into overdrive. He'd used it once before, a long time ago, just after he awoke for the first time... then, he had made his escape from the Blackwatch compound and fallen asleep close by. He'd ended up being shot in the face, but that had hardly bothered him.

He would have chuckled at the irony of finding himself replaying the situation, if it didn't hurt so much. He needed to get as much distance between the base and himself as possible, and then... then he could rest for a while until he stabilised. After that, he'd need new biomass. Covton looked like a real tempting target. And after that, he'd personally hunt down every Blackwatch trooper on Omega, and everyone who knew about them.

But that was for later. Ducking into an ally way between two old looking buildings of green-tainted metal, he slid into a sitting position with his back against the wall. The world was tinged with darkness. He had to rest soon or else he might damage his body even more. He ought to be far enough away and if his luck held out, some vermin would think he was a fresh corpse. Rats didn't provide much biomass... but every little bit helped. And he was sure that Blackwatch would be looking for him.

He wasn't safe here, but he wasn't really safe anywhere in the slums. This place would do well enough for a while and he doubted he'd be able to make it much further in any case.

Alex Mercer closed his eyes and slid into what passed for a restless slumber. The world around him faded away - save at that instinctive level. On that level, he paid attention to everything. Danger was everywhere and even in his exhausted state, he wasn't going to be left blind.

His body began to heal at an accelerated rate, first the sheen of frost began to die away as his biomass started to shift more freely again. But lacking in raw resources, his body was forced to carefully watch its supply of Biomass. He wasn't able to heal fully, so what little he could do was directed towards vital components. His outer armour; his legs and arms. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

The loud music which blurred over the neon-coloured room was enough to upset even the usually calm Shepard as he made his way towards the one who ran this place. Aria. The Asari was sitting at her raised podium, watching the whole club as though it were her own little kingdom. Of course, for all intents and purposes it was. She saw him coming of course, and motioned to her bodyguards to let him through. That was fine by Shepard since he was planning to go past them even if they didn't want him to.

"Shepard." She nodded to him and gestured to the sofa to the side. But this time, he was in no mood to play her games.

"Aria." He said, not taking the seat. Two of her batarian guards made as though to force him down, but backed off at a gesture from her. Shepard didn't even bother with them, if they tried to stop him, he would act but otherwise, they were just a distraction.

"So what brings you to my neck of the woods?" She asked, "Recruiting again? I hear Archangel mysteriously vanished. The gangs are calling it a victory, but I suspect you had more to do with it than any of them."

"Not exactly." Shepard said. " I've come for information. Specifically, information on Blackwatch."

"Ah, Blackwatch." She said with a frown. "One of Omega's newest problems."

"They must be pretty bad to cause problems for Omega."

"Oh they are." She said, "They've set up in the slums area and forced the Blue Suns out."

Shepard raised an eyebrow, "They did what? I thought the Suns were well-entrenched there. It'd take an army to move them."

"That's what we thought as well." Aria said, "But Blackwatch has done it with - at last count - fifteen men. Fifteen men, and three monsters."

"Monsters?"

"Reports are...garbled. But from what we've been able to tell, they look like humans but have the strength of Krogan." A faint tone of amusement entered her voice, "They move as fast as lightning, heal from any wound. And everything the Blue Suns have just bounces off them."

"So, what's really doing it?"

"I don't know." The answer was unusual enough for Aria, who usually knew everything about Omega. " From my sources, they look like humans and they seem to be augmented genetically. We've not got into a fight with any of them to check the rest of the rumours. Do be sure to tell me if they're true."

"And what makes you think that I would know?"

"Because you're going into the slums, aren't you Shepard? You've come to me twice now. Once for information on Doctor Mordin and the second for the same on Archangel. Both times, you ended up right in the thick of the fighting. I doubt this will be any different."

"Maybe." Shepard said, " But you don't know that for sure."

"I know more than you seem to think, Shepard. I also know of the strange man who was last seen heading into the slums. Name of...Mercer, I believe. Very curious. I don't suppose you can tell me just what he is?"

"And what makes you think he's not human?"

"I've never seen a human change their shape to look like a Blackwatch soldier he has just killed. Mercer was being trailed by a local group of thugs, he didn't bother with them. I can see why. Afterwards, we extracted the information from them."

"And he was going to the slums?"

"Towards the Blackwatch base. As I said, Shepard, do be sure to tell me if the rumours are true."

Having taken his leave of the lounge, Shepard worked with his Omnitool for a moment. There was a soft click and it had opened a link to the rest of the team.

"This is Shepard. I have a trail. Aria says he was last seen headed towards the Slums. There is a possible Blackwatch base there too. I'm going to check it out."

"Negative." Mordin's voice came back, " Too dangerous. Unknown number of hostiles. Wait a few minutes and we'll all go. Better chance that way."

"Thanks for the worry, Doctor but I have it in hand. I don't want to fight Blackwatch, I just need to sneak in and find out what happened to Mercer."

"Shepard." Garrus said, " As much as doing stupid and heroic quests is your ''thing'' this time I suggest you listen to Mordin. The Blue Suns are fierce, if Blackwatch is there too..."

"I'll handle it." Shepard said. "I'm not that far from the entrance to the slums, I can be in and out in a few hours. I want the rest of you to gather on the Normandy. Depending on what I find, we may need to storm the Blackwatch base."

"Never a dull day. Eh, Shepard?" Garrus said.

"Oh you know me." Shepard answered, " If there isn't a fight available I just have to go and find one.

Garrus chuckled, "Never change, Shepard."

"Same to you, Shepard out."

Lowering his arm, the commander made his way towards the slums. He had prepared for heavy fighting before he left so there wasn't going to be a problem in that regard. Still, Aria's words rang in his ears.

Augmented humans? Mercer had spoken of them, ''D-Codes'' he had said. Created with a variant of the virus that he had worked on. Shepard had hoped he wouldn't have to encounter them - and still did - but if the worst came to the worst...

Well Mercer was in there. And like him or not, Mercer was a member of his crew.

And Shepard never abandoned his crew when they needed help.

The world slowly came into focus around him. His body presented him with a laundry lists of complaints and problems, but hidden amongst them was good news as well. He felt more agile and mobile; the effects of the cryo rounds hadn't vanished completely but they were fading fast. Now at least, he felt like he could put up a fight.

"This one looks bad..." There came voice. For a second, he thought Blackwatch had found him but then logic reasserted itself. No, that voice was too young to be a soldier. And she didn't sound worried or angry. There was also the fact that no one had shot him in the head yet. A clear improvement on last time.

He cracked open his eyes and blinked a few times until the world was in focus. The girl was standing in front of him, she looked young. Sixteen maybe. She was dressed in rags that may once have been clothing and her wary expression spoke a lot of exactly where she came from.

"You're awake?" She said faintly surprised, " I guess you weren't hurt so badly after all. Here, let me help you up."

"No." Mercer said. "I can stand."

He stood up; unfolding slowly so as to test out every muscle. He still felt a bit numb, but as he had noted everything else seemed to check out for the most part. Judging by the state of his body, he would be able to produce knives and blades again but he couldn't yet speak for more complex things like whipfist. And he suspected he wouldn't be able to take someone else's shape yet ether.

Not as good as he would have hoped, but it was better than nothing.

"Are you sure you're OK?" The girl asked. Mercer had half-turned so she didn't see what he was doing.

"I'm fine." He said, shifting to face her. For the first time, he got a good look at her face and he nearly froze up. Dana? Was the first thought that came into his head as he looked at her. Was it really her? Some part of him wanted it to be her so much. His sister... the one person he had ever felt really close to after his transformation. But that was impossible, she was long dead. He had seen it himself. He had done it himself.

No, it wasn't her. But the girl did look like her. Like a younger Dana. Seemed the fates didn't feel like his being frozen and then nearly passing out was quite enough torment for one day.

"Are you OK?" She asked for the third time, "You look like you've just seen a ghost."

"No." He said, managing to speak again with effort. " You just look like someone I used to know. What're you doing here?"

"I live here." She said, "You look pretty beaten up, what happened? You don't seem to belong to any of the local gangs."

"I had a disagreement with Blackwatch." Mercer said, surprised to find himself even mentioning them to this strange girl.

"Blackwatch? You mean the new guys? You're lucky then. I think you're the first one who's gotten out alive."

"I have experience with that." Mercer muttered to himself. " I look bad now but I need to rest for a while. I'll be fine then."

That was true; with more rest he suspected he could push back the effects of the Cryo Rounds even further perhaps even eliminate them. Then, he'd be able to hunt for more biomass and after that, he could return and deal with the remaining soldiers.

"Sure." She said sceptically, "I've heard that one before. You got beaten up badly by the looks of it, I doubt you can even walk straight. There's a clinic not far from here, you can get help there."

"No." Mercer shook his head. " That's the exact opposite of what I need. Just get going and leave me here. I'll be fine in a few hours. And you really don't want to be around when Blackwatch catches up with me."

"Bit late for that, Zeus." Came a voice from the other side of the alleyway.

"Oh for Christ sake." Mercer swore to himself. Outlined against the entrance to the allyway, a D-Code was drawing his weapon. Some kind of modified shotgun by the looks of it, Mercer wasn't eager to test it out. It wasn't the same D-Code as he'd fought earlier, Mercer noted. But it looked just as fierce. This one was wearing a more traditional D-Code outfit. A dark uniform clearly reinforced to take a beating. A harness was slung across its chest which held several guns and far too much ammunition to count.

Mercer's eyes met those of the D-Code. Each knew what the other was thinking. Alex needed to escape; he didn't want to fight a D-Code right now.

With one swift move, the super-soldier drew his gun and fired. It barked an explosive round. The girl flinched aside, but Mercer was already moving. He interposed himself between her and the shooter just as the shot flared. Though aimed at him, he knew she would have been caught in the blast. He grunted as the hit landed, but it wasn't cryo so he considered on balance, that he was in luck.

He snapped around and charged at the foe. His fist smashed into the blank helmet of the D-Code, but the super soldier rolled with it, gripping Mercer's arm and smashing him into the far wall.

"I thought you were supposed to be faster than that, ZEUS." He said, " I guess I heard wrong, huh?"

Mercer answered with his fist; launching a punch packed with muscle-power into the other's chest. The D-Code doubled over and Alex tried to press the attack but the D-Code was faster and managed to recover. He blocked Alex's follow-up and sent him smashing into the far wall again. In an instant, his gun was raised and he launched another explosive round. Alex grunted as it hit him, ripping ragged holes in his skin. But they quickly sealed.

Mercer lunged forwards again, but the D-Code was impossibly fast, smashing the butt of the shotgun into the back of his head. Mercer rolled when he hit the ground, raising to his feet quickly.

What's happening? Mercer thought to himself, fending off a series of strikes to the face and gut. I should be faster than this. I had no trouble earlier with the other D-Code...unless... the cryo rounds did more damage than I thought. Damn it, I need to get out of here...but

He cast glance at the girl, so much like his late sister that it was almost painful. Alex Mercer was not, by nature, a moral creature. The original Mercer had been downright villainous and even the Blacklight construct could hardly be called heroic at the best of times. And yet... and yet he didn't want to leave that girl. The D-Code was after him, so the chances were it would leave her alone but at the end of the day, it was Blackwatch. There was a fair chance it would kill her just for being near him.

Alex Mercer had killed many people in his life, thinking back on it not all of them had deserved it. Innocent people had died at his hands, people just trying to do their jobs...

But he wasn't about to add to that number.

With a sudden barrage of light jabs, he forced the D-Code back a step. It wasn't much, but it was enough. He slammed a kick into the helmet, hearing a definite crack! Then, quickly while the super soldier was reeling, he turned and grabbed the girl.

"Hold on." He hissed as he turned and started to run the opposite way.

"That's a dead end!" She cried, tears of terror were leaking from her eyes and she was shaking badly.

"I know."

"You're not going to make it!"

"Watch me."

The dead end loomed up ahead, and the ground behind filled up with the sound of weapons fire. Mercer knew he was walking a fine line now, but something in him just wouldn't let him leave the girl to die.

He reached the wall with the D-Code on his trail, he didn't pause in his running. The girl shut her eyes and moaned in terror, but there was a brief moment of weightlessness and their centre of gravity changed.

They were running up the wall.

A patch behind them exploded into melted metal, but with a single push Mercer catapulted them over the edge and onto the next building. He didn't pause in his running for a good five or ten minutes. When he was sure that they were far enough away from the threat, he slipped back onto the street below.

"There." He said, putting the girl on the ground. "Now you can be on your way. Fast. I don't think I shook him off for long."

"What was he?" The girl said, her voice trembling.

"D-Code." Mercer snapped. " Better if you don't know any more. Frankly, you're in deep enough as it is."

"He threw you into that wall... are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I should have been able to take him but... I'm not doing too well at the minute."

"What do you need?" She asked, a sudden weight coming into her voice.

Mercer smirked, amused despite himself.

"I don't need anything. I'm fine on my own. I'll just rest for a while. Then I'll finish him and the other one."

"There's two?"

"There was three." Mercer said, with obvious satisfaction. "Now there's two. Soon, there'll be none."

"And you're going to sleep here?"

"Well not out in the street no. I'll find an alley or something. Its safer that way, and in an few hours I'll be back to full strength."

"Its still dangerous to rest out here." She said. She was putting on a brave face, but to a being like Mercer her fear was easy to see. Her body language spoke volumes, her heart was hammering away in her chest. And yet, here she was.

Curious.

"I know a place where you can rest." She said.

The two super soldiers met in the allyway where the fight had taken place. The first was the one who had fought Mercer earlier. Having recovered his breath, he waited in the near-darkness for his comrade to arrive. When he arrived, the second was a real sight. Bands of ammo he wore like belts, he had not one but three weapons stashed about his person, as well as high powered grenades and demo charges. The first gun was a shotgun built originally for a Krogan. The kickback was enough to break the arm of a grown man.

He wielded it with one hand.

The second was a pistol, loaded with high-temp inferno rounds. The operating theory being that Mercer might be susceptible to high temperatures as he was with low. Just in case that didn't work out, the final weapons was a sub-machine gun of the type employed by successful mercs. Capable of filling the air with death in seconds. It was loaded to the brim with cryo rounds.

"Zues was here." Said the second. It was not a question.

The first nodded, " Yes. I engaged him only about fifteen minutes back. He had a civie too."

"Probably consumed her." Said the second.

"I don't think so." Said the first, "He saved her life at least twice during the fight. I think she means something to him."

"And how'd he get away?"

"Ran up that wall and made a jump for the next roof."

The second regarded the indicated direction.

"Why didn't you follow?"

"There was no need."

"Explain."

"Zeus is hurt bad. I think the cryo rounds must have done something on the cellular level. You know, back when they first tried suspended animation it used to fuck up its targets real bad? Something like that, I guess. When we fought, he couldn't shape-shift it all, and he tried several times. At the end, he took the girl and ran."

"So?"

"So he's gonna wanna settle down for a while and regenerate. He'll want to have his powers back before he faces us."

"Ah." Said the second, " So he goes to sleep. Or at least, he's not on his guard. We jump him and kill him easy."

"Right."

"And the girl?"

"She's been exposed. Kill her too."

Without another word, the two super soldiers walked out of the ally. Inside their suits, a read-out appeared. Highlighting a the faint strands of the virus known as Blacklight that still hung in the air.

The second smirked behind his visor. The trace was faint, but they could still follow it.

Mercer was as good as dead.

AND review replies!

Kane 5/27/12 . chapter 4

Good chapter and Blackwatch strikes back(hmm now why did that remind me of "The Empire Strikes back" from Star Wars?). Liked the fight scenes and the infiltration stuff Alex pulled, though shouldnt have Mercer realised that Blackwaqtch would have developed something in the last one and a half century that could at least slow him down a bit? I mean these guys do have good back up plans(though most of the time would involve many civilian deaths) when it comes down to capturing and terminating important targets, granted they semed to always have underestimated Zeus but they should have learned from those, mistakes,No?Also you mentioned that Blacklight had taken down an Collector assault on Horizon, yes? Well he must have at least consumed a few Collectors, so what I want ask is will he use their genetic material to improve his abilities(for starters it would be interesting to see him use long range weaponry, or at least improve the range of some of his area attacks like the Devastator and its variants or the whipfist heck he could even attempt to use some of the genetic information to improve his armor and close range attack weapons or even create a shield(though you should introduce that feature latter in the story since at this stage, most attacks will just be more or less ignored by him(well except for the stuff that can actually stop/slow him down).

Well hope that helps you somewhat with your story.

Alex has been out of the fight for a while and he kind of sees this the same way he used to infiltrate Blackwatch bases back in Manhattan. He did suspect that Blackwatch had some new toys, but didn't expect them to be particularly effective against himself. As to the Collector thing. Yeah, he consumed a few but their memories aren't stored the same way as human ones and he is still trying to unpack them and get them to make sense. Same with their genetic information.

XKhaosXKyuubiX5/27/12 . chapter 4

Talos the Saiyan,

Well... Alex is gonna be pissed when he wakes up. Let's see these blackwatch guys learn why he was called 'THe Monster of Manhattan'. Shall we?

Indeed, I think we can say with this chapter that Covton has indeed learned just how he got that name. Of course, this is only the start for the poor, poor Blackwatch commander.

Lord Sigfry5/27/12 . chapter 4

Lol...as if shepard stands a chance.

Against Mercer? Yeah, he is pretty out-classed. But as Mercer himself pointed out, Shepard has a habit of going against all the odds and winning anyway. Its probably why Mercer even bothered to work with him at all.

DarkGidora5/27/12 . chapter 4

Hm... I had a feeling you would not be happy with P2. I recall you mentioning a voodoo curse or something. :P

Nice to reread the chapter. Marcus is such a giant troll, and I liked Covton's plan and the interactions between Alex and Shepard. This is just a minor nitpick, but it'd be clearer if you inserted lines or some other type of symbol between scenes, just to make things a bit easier to follow.

This is the fault of FFnet; I have lines between the scenes in my version but they seem to get wiped when I upload them. I'll see what I can do to fix it.

Kingdark5/27/12 . chapter 2

I'm not going to snitch but answering reviews in any chapter is against the rules. If you want to answer review then you should do it via a private message. Overall, this is a very interesting idea so far. You do realize that no matter what, Alex at the end of the game is like a GOD compared to other humans? He can throw tanks and jump from the highest building in the game without a scratch! Consuming an asari or two gives him biotics and a LOT of knowledge.

I am aware of this fact, yes. I also know that FFnet can be rather lax in enforcing this rule and I believe that answering the reviews in the story gives a better feeling of community and generally makes it more fun to read (and write)

As to Alex's power, while I wouldn't call him a god, it is true that he is pretty much superior to anyone else on the ground. Fortunately, technology can offset that by a bit and he can still be hurt (or even killed) if he takes his own power lightly or underestimates those

With ME3 out for months now this could be totally awesome!

ME3 probably won't factor into this much. I started the story before it came out and I can't say I really approve of the direction it took.

Sairresh5/27/12 . chapter 4

can't wait to see shepard come to the rescure or alex go all supper abosrb from one missed speck, i get money on shepard tho

Yeah, like I said above Shepard has a habit of beating the odds even when everything else says he really shouldn't be able to pull it off.

good job 5/28/12 . chapter 4

awesome work with the cryo rounds idea it makes sense

It does indeed, I believe I may have actually got the idea from someone else back on Spacebattlesdotcome in the early snippets. They mentioned how different ammo types could effect him and I ran with it.

Mimi MC6/1/12 . chapter 4

Mercer's in trouble! I love how smoothly you merged the two universes and this is an amazing story! Thanks for sharing and I hope to see the next chapter soon!

Well it may not have counted as soon, but at least its here now.

Drexal156/5/12 . chapter 4

I have not found any good prototype stories except for this one

There are a few other good stories. Try anything by Laluzi. She has been writing for Prototype longer than me and honestly is a bit better. If you like what I've done you'll probably enjoy her work too.

Ecomadness 6/17/12 . chapter 4

Awesome story I love protype stories their awesome can't wait for an update hope its soon.

Eh heh... I don't suppose I could convince you that ''soon'' means something different in Talos language?

BlazaWolf8/5/12 . chapter 4

Sherpard and crew need to show their collective asses up and save all the "showing up just in the nick of time" crap for the dramas

They're working on that now.

roboticman8/7/12 . chapter 4

need update

Update complete.

Guest 8/19/12 . chapter 4

It always seems odd to me when authors have Alex fight like some sort of mutant human, and unfortunately my explanation why is likely to be rambling and somewhat incoherent, so. Sorry in advance.

Eh, its cool. Its not like I haven't put thought into that kind of thing myself.

Anyway, I understand that in the game itself, you're somewhat restricted by the need for challenging gameplay in what you can and cannot do as Mercer. However, from a perspective not rooted in the gameplay, it doesn't make sense for Alex to continue fighting like a human after he realizes he isn't one, or more specifically, after he's hit by the nuclear bomb. After all, he regenerated himself from a smear on the ground. He didn't consume that crow by beating the shit out of it first; his cells invaded it, took control of it's cells, and incorporated them into his collective "biomass" or what have you. At least, I think that's how a virus works. Anyway, this would mean that, even as a much smaller collection of cells than usual (thanks to the nuke) Mercer has conscious control of each individual cell.

(Though probably not consciousness as we think of it, 'cause really, how does a being with what seems to be a decentralized nervous system think, anyway. Or maybe it is centralized, but he can, for lack of any better words, shift it from one group of cells to another? Or maybe there's some weird combination of centralized and decentralized nervous system in him? I dunno, I don't study neurology or biology or virology, and most of my thoughts on this are pieced together from snippets of speech of people far smarter than I.)

Well, the way I would see it is thus. Even if Alex isn't human he was created from a human, the original Alex Mercer. His mindset was originally human and his memories are all of a human. So even if his body is capable of performing much more efficiently in a different shape, he is always going to default to human because that is what he seems himself as.

Err, back to Mercer fighting. I think that, rather than beating on something until it's weak enough to consume, as you do in the game, Alex could simply let Marcus punch him, shift his cells so that he clings to the guy's arm as some kind of sludge and seeps in through his skin, and take over his cells from the inside. It really makes no sense for him to shift his arms into bunches of different weapons and make the guy bleed first, unless he needs an open wound to get into the bloodstream and travel around the guy's body. Or, if you want it to be similar to the game, just have his tentacles whip out, stab the guy (because how the hell would a human have any hope of blocking a prehensile tentacle that Alex has full cellular control of anyway), and then get into his body that way. No need for some strange punch up before hand either way. You'd think having to recover from being a smear on the ground would have taught Alex he didn't have to fight like some weirdly enhanced human.

Basically, humans cells have to work as a cohesive whole. Mercer, as a virus, doesn't have that restriction, especially when he can rewrite which parts of his genetic code are active in any cell at any time. All he has to do is have any part of him brush against an open wound and send some cells into the other person's body, completely independent of the main collection of cells (Mercer's body), and wait for it to convert all of the other persons cells, "consuming" them, before reuniting with the cells he sent out.

Did I manage to make sense?

Yeah, you did. You made some good points too. But I'd counter by going with my ''he thinks like a human theory'' while he knows on some level that he could do that to a normal human, for the most part it doesn't occur to him in combat or he regards it as taking too much concentration. Likewise, if he were to try it against a D-Code he doesn't know if it would work. Remember, D-Codes were born from a similar origin as him even if their powers are less versatile. It is highly likely that they would have some natural defence against that kind of thing.

However, I see that working on a human pretty easily.