A/N: This'll be my first time writing anything that takes place in the Mass Effect universe, so should be interesting. As usual, I don't own a single thing except the air I breathe, and even THAT might be property of the US goverment eventually. I nerded out a bit and made this whole timeline of ME and [Prototype], but figured anyone who's reading this has played at least one of the games and should know the basics well enough. I'm pretending like the events of [Prototype2] never took place, so don't expect any Heller cameos.

We now return you to your originally scheduled program.

Alex Mercer had been around long enough to be able to tell the difference between bravery and stupidity. The group of Blue Suns mercs currently unloading assault rifle clips into his torso fell into the latter category. If they had walked up and asked him nicely, he might have been willing to let them off with a warning rather than the ritual dismemberment he was about to unleash. But very few people actually bothered to try talking before sniping him in the head or attempting to riddle him with holes. He'd had a lifetime—several lifetimes—of fighting as it was, and he was eager to give diplomacy a go if only the rest of the galaxy would stop being so retarded.

He waited for a lull in the barrage of gunfire before letting his left arm reform into a massive blade and leapt at them, startling several into shouting and scrambling away. Cutting through their armor wasn't any more difficult than hacking away at tanks had been back in the day—man that made him sound so oldand soon he stood surrounded by a ring of slaughtered turians and humans. One of them twitched spasmodically and Alex broke his back with his heel, letting the tendrils rip him apart and consume him to fix what little they had managed to injure during their assault.

Alex sighed. Now he was going to have to relocate. Again. No matter how far he ran, or how well he hid, someone always managed to find him and then this would happen. The first few decades had been incredibly irritating, and he'd more than happily struck back at the numerous organizations hoping to get a piece of the infamous Monster of Manhattan. Now, though, it was just mildly annoying, like a fly you just can't manage to hit no matter how much you flail at it.

Cerberus was just the most recent in a long line of antagonists trying to either take him down or bring him in. He wasn't very surprised. Honestly he was shocked it had taken the pro-human group this long to come after him. He'd slipped through enough security checkpoints and consumed enough civilians and military personal to have amassed a hoard of knowledge that put the Shadow Broker to shame.

Not that he really had a use for any of it anymore.

Alex stepped out of the ring of carnage and headed back to his apartment, already sorting through what he'd need to take with him (nothing), where he should go (anywhere but here), and what to do once he got there (anything). Life had gotten incredibly boring over the past two centuries. There wasn't much short of an ATLAS or a bunch of MAKOs that gave him pause anymore, and he'd been to most of the planets and cities worth visiting already.

Thessia had been his favorite so far. The asari fascinated him; he'd asked a few of the more sociable ones how they dealt with living such long lives, but the answers they'd given him pertained to amassing as much knowledge as they could and then passing it on for future generations.

Well. For one, Alex already had enough knowledge via the myriads of races and species he'd consumed to rival the oldest Asari Matriarch, and for two, Alex did not plan on having any 'future generations' to pass any of it down to. He wasn't sure if that was physically possible, considering he was no longer even remotely human, and had no inclination to find out. The last thing the galaxy needed was another Greene running around infecting everything and babbling about MOTHERs and PARIAHs.

Maybe it was time to head back to Earth. He'd been gone for so long; it would be interesting to see how it'd changed. He doubted Blackwatch was still on the lookout for him, if they even still existed, but there wasn't anything there for him anymore. Dana and Dr. Ragland had long since passed away, along with anyone else he could have considered an acquaintance.

The only thing left for him on Earth was bad memories. Lots of them.

The Citadel, then. He'd spent some time there a few decades back; it had been too crowded, too busy for his tastes—so to speak. But it was a good place to meet interesting people, and that was just about all that kept him sane nowadays: meeting interesting people. Alex sighed again and headed towards the nearest spaceport, pulling the consumed merc's form over his own like a second skin.

Dossier: ZEUS

Codename ZEUS; Name Unknown

-Possible shapeshifter

-Abilities unknown

Data pertaining to ZEUS is sporadic at best. At its heart is a cluster of ancient encrypted files dating back to the early 21st century, surrounded by rumors and one of the best military cover-ups in human history. He is nearly impossible to track, keeping his movements erratic and utterly unpredictable, and seems to be able to bypass any security system created to date. He was last seen on Cailloux, although evidence suggests he may have relocated to the Citadel. Approach with extreme caution.

Shepard frowned at her personal terminal, drumming her fingers on the surface nearby. This did not seem like the kind of thing the Illusive Man would have forwarded to her; there was almost no information in it at all other than speculation and rumor, and there wasn't even a solid location listed. She almost discarded the dossier as too much work when something stopped her. "Possible shapeshifter." What did that even mean? How could someone be a possible shapeshifter? It certainly sounded interesting. It might be worth checking out, just on the off chance this ZEUS character was someone who could be of some use against the Collectors.

She frowned again as she reread the short email Cerberus had deemed fit to send her. The 21st century? That had to be a joke. Unless the Illusive Man had sent her to recruit a skeleton, it was probably just misinformation.

"Joker," she called, "set a course for the Citadel."

"Aye, Commander."

Shepard paused and then headed for the elevator that would take her up to her cabin. She had some research to do.

By the way, in case you weren't aware, Shepard is "29" when the events of Mass Effect 2 take place. I say "29" because TECHNICALLY she's 31, but since she was dead for two years I figure those don't count. Alex is 206 when the events of Mass Effect 2 occur.