Wow, hard to believe we're already at DE3, isn't it? Just a few things before we begin…

For my established readers, thank you for following Del's story thus far. Hopefully I can continue to deliver an interesting tale for your perusal, and I cannot thank you enough for joining me on this ride. When I started DE, I did it as a simple lark, unsure where I was going to take it or even if I would bother to finish it. The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive from the start, it actually shocked (and continues to shock) me. I was certain almost nobody would even read it and if they did, almost nobody was sure to like it. Apparently, I was incorrect…and that positivity spurred me to continue writing. Of course, on the way, I fell in love with Del and her extended family and I feel now it would be a horrible disservice to her not to finish her story…so even if everyone stopped reading, I'd probably still keep writing.

I'm too afraid Shepard would hunt me down with that sniper of hers if I didn't.

For newcomers who have stumbled on this by accident or read about this on a forum somewhere…welcome to DE Few quick points…my Shepard is female, potty-mouthed, renegade, and in a relationship with Liara. She smokes cigars, drinks far too much, plays the guitar, and spouts Chinese when the mood strikes her (she is not, however, Chinese…she is in fact predominantly Native American). She head-butts Krogan, has a temper you do not want to get started, and does random shit like light her cigars with the pilot of a flame-thrower.

Some call her the Space Cowboy. Some call her the Gangsta of Love. No one, however, calls her Maurice.


Anywho, my suggestion as always is to read DE1 and DE2 before diving in to 3.

To everyone:

I will continue to write left-of-canon. If I notably change something or make a 'mistake', most likely it is on purpose. On the rare occasion it's not…whoops. I will be following the events of ME3, however I will be adding my own missions and flavor and scenes as the urge strikes me.

I write on the assumption that the reader has at least played the games. I do not go out of my way to explain the universe of Mass Effect and I make absolutely no apologies for spoilers. If you haven't yet, play the games first. Otherwise…enter at your own risk.

Yes. Yoh Etat will be back, probably for his most significant role yet. I knew you'd enjoy that

This will be the longest DE story yet. It will also…if I do it correctly…be the most emotional. So be ready for that.

Lessee…what else…OH! Yes.


That's right. Unless Bioware's upcoming DLC significantly alters what they put out with the game…in an enormously positive way...I will be changing things quite significantly.

Del ain't going down like that. Three colors and a transparent Haley Joel Osment my ass.

Final note: For those that don't know…no, this is not written already. I am writing this 'live'. Each day a chapter gets posted, that chapter was written that day, gone through a quick re-read and spell-check, and then posted. I find I do my best writing with this method rather than planning too much ahead.

I rarely if ever post on weekends, but for the most part, a new chapter will go up daily, Mon-Fri.

That said, some scenes coming up in DE3 are planned. In fact, I've done more planning for this story than I have for any other story I've ever written before. Mostly because the ending of the game forced me to come up with my own ending. Even so, these planned scenes are fluid and subject to change at my smallest whim…and I'm pretty whimsical.

One small warning about this chapter in particular…it gets a little…harsh. There are vague allusions to the rape of a minor and some other things so…just be aware.

Well, I'm sure I've probably forgotten a few things I wanted to say, but I'm also pretty sure you're sick of me talking by now and want to get your focus where it should be…on DE3. So let's get started, shall we?

One final, minor detail:

Yes. I am still a girl.

Dark Energy: End of Days

Conquer we shall, but we must first contend;
'Tis not the fight that crowns us, but the end.

If well thou hast begun, go on fore-right;
It is the end that crowns us, not the fight. –Robert Herrick

I will never surrender
We'll free the Earth and sky
Crush my heart into embers
And I will reignite...


Twenty years ago, New York City, Earth

The wrist beneath her hand was all hard angles, bone bound with thin, sinewy muscle that spoke of starvation, malnutrition. Still, there was remarkable power in it, easily felt as she grabbed it and stopped its forward swing.

"Del, none of that," Nancy Salgado admonished firmly when the girl's burnished eyes snapped to her. "Iro was just moving it, he wasn't going to take it."

The scrawny twelve year old glared at her, narrow and depthless. Nancy looked right back, unwavering, and after a moment, the girl pulled her hand back with a gruff nod.

The boy, Iro, was easily two years older than Del and had a foot in height on her. Even so, his expression spoke of pure nervous fear. When Nancy nodded at him, he carefully slid the hoody over to the side, giving him room to sit at the bench as well.

Shepard had been given the hoody shortly after arriving at the Institute. Her clothes were tattered and ill-fitting, as they were for most of the kids delivered there. Her entire life she had been forced to steal or salvage everything, clothing as well as food. The hoody was the first thing she'd ever just been given…and as law on the street dictated, anything hers she fiercely defended. Iro's innocent motion had nearly earned him a thrashing.

Nancy nodded as the girl relaxed, then set the tray of food down in front of her. Del was trying, she could see…but she had only been with them a few days and Nan expected no miracles. Old habits would die hard, if they died at all…that much was evident in the way Del still pulled the hoody protectively to her side and then huddled almost vulture-like over her tray, guarding her food as if someone were going to walk up and start snatching it off the tray.

That was, of course, exactly what she feared would happen.

As Nancy returned to the counter, one of the other nurses looked at her. "Are you sure that one is ready to be in gen-pop?" she asked.

"A lack of socialization can only be cured by socialization, Rhonda, you know that."

"I do, but you're taking a big risk. Her first reaction to anything is to fight it. I've seen as many kids come through here as you have…you know that look in her eyes, Nan. She's a murder ready to happen."

"You know, sweetie, ninety-nine times out of one hundred I would say you were right," Nancy agreed, leaning on the counter and looking over at the defensive, dark-haired young girl as she shoveled her food into her mouth. "There's something different about this one, though. Something in her eyes I haven't seen in a long, long time."

"What's that?"

"Not sure. Can't put my finger on it, but it's there. She's a good girl down deep. Got a brain on her, and a heart."

"That fight in the day room just yesterday morning? Broke Alia's nose, blacked her eye…like to have killed her if the orderlies hadn't pulled her off. Even then, she was fighting like a tiger caught by the tail. If you hadn't come in…you know you're the only one that can do anything with her."

"Because I see her as more than an animal and she knows it," Nancy responded, glancing at her co-worker. "Do you know why she attacked Alia?"

"No, I didn't hear that part."

"Alia took it upon herself to liberate Carl's sketch-pad. Del was on the other side of the room when it happened. Carl didn't even have a chance to protest. The moment Alia took it from him that girl was across the room, over the table, and had her on the ground. That's what I mean when I say she's got a heart, Rhonda. She's goes about it the wrong way, but she looks out for the small ones, takes on the bullies."

Nan's eyes shifted affectionately back toward the girl that had been there less than a week and yet had made such a solid impression upon her. "She looks out for the small ones. Only fair that someone in this world's got to look out for her."

Alliance Bonneville Detention Center, Earth, Present Day

Nancy Salgado held tightly to the weeping Del Shepard as they both knelt in the center of the devastated office, whispering softly to her. Behind her, she heard boots entering, and released her hold with one hand long enough to wave sternly. Anderson approached, gesturing at the armed soldiers to hang back while indicating to Wyatt to accompany him.

The psychiatrist hurried over to the scattered mess of medical equipment and files and retrieved a small case, opening it and withdrawing a syringe. Tugging the cap off with his teeth he strode to the two women and crouched down, obviously preparing to sedate the commander. Catching sight of him, Nancy sternly shook her head, brushing his hand back.

"No, none of that, not right now," she urged. "I've got her."

He nodded somewhat warily, recapping the syringe and tucking it in his pocket before he reached out, helping both to climb to their feet. As he touched Shepard's arm she seemed to jump a little, drawing slightly back from Nan before all fight seemed to simply wash out of her.

Loosening her hold, Nancy wiped her hands over Shepard's cheeks, peering into her half-lidded, reddened eyes, brows knit with loving concern.

"All right, it's probably a good idea if we get her back to her room now," Wyatt told Anderson. As the Admiral waved the wary lieutenant further into the room, Wyatt reached out and lightly touched Shepard's forearm. "Come on, this-"

There seemed to be no warning, and yet Nancy anticipated the motion a breath before it occurred. She flung an arm around Del's shoulders at almost the same instant the woman went from limp to thundering fury once again, her entire body seeming to compact and then explode forth in wrath. Lunging, the much stronger marine tore out of the small nurse's grasp, inadvertently casting her hard to the ground as she did so. Wyatt stumbled back a pace, legs tangling together even as a fist looped into his jaw.

"Fucker…goddamn fucking….needles!" Shepard snarled in slurring rage. Wyatt hit the ground with a hard oof. Anderson grabbed Shepard's arm as she started to advance on the man and her momentum changed, turning in toward him.

Anderson felt bruising pain spread over his forearm as he whipped his hand up, blocking her punch. A huge hand grabbed the front of her shirt as the lieutenant intervened. Shepard's feet skipped into the air as he lifted and shoved, slamming her to the floor on her back hard enough for her air to escape in a single, loud, pain-filled bark.

Dazed, struggling for breath, Del weakly rolled onto her side, only to be thrust onto her belly, arms yanked behind her. The cold snap of cuffs was unmistakable.

"Be careful, young man!" Nancy snapped, cradling her arm against her side as she crouched at the faintly coughing Del's side, touching her shoulder gingerly.

"Be careful?" the lieutenant blinked. "She's lucky I didn't put a bullet in her!"

"Vega, that's enough," Anderson snapped, helping the dazed Wyatt to his feet. "Get her back to the detention cell and restrained."

"I need to sedate her," Wyatt protested, still looking dazed. "She got out of her cuffs once and if it happens again-"

"No sedation," Nancy protested. Anderson shook his head.

"Sorry Nan, but this time I have to agree with Dr. Wyatt. Until we figure out what's going on Shepard is a danger to herself and everyone around her."

Wyatt moved forward, kneeling down and drawing the syringe from his pocket again. Lifting Shepard's sleeve, he carefully injected her in the bicep. "All right, that won't last too long so best to get her moved while we can."

"I'm going with her," Nancy said as she got to her feet.

"How's that arm?" Anderson asked, eyeing her with stern knowing. With the woman said nothing, he nodded. "Medical first. Get that arm treated, and then we'll talk."


"Nancy, I mean it. Dr. Wyatt, I want you in Medical as well, and then we're going to figure out what the hell happened and where we go from here."

"Look, I know that you know her better than almost anyone," Perri said, watching the older Admiral pace around his office, "But you cannot let your personal feelings cloud your judgment. You saw it with your own eyes. Her own psych reports going back to boot have noted time and again she has unresolved issues and is likely a self-controlling psychotic. You have to accept facts here, David. The woman finally suffered a psychotic break-"

"I'm not ready to just accept that conclusion," Anderson dismissed. "Shepard has been through fire that would have destroyed any other person-"

"Exactly," Perri pressed. "The things she's been through, endured…and now this mess with the batarians? Three hundred thousand people…that's going to tear apart anyone, David, unless they are completely without a soul. I'm not unsympathetic to her -"

{Sir?} The voice of Perri's yeoman interrupted, coming over the comm. Clearing his throat he touched the response.

"What is it?"

{Salgado is waiting here, sir. She is insisting upon talking to you and Anderson.}

Glancing up at his superior, he nodded when he saw no protest waiting there. "Send her in."

The door slid open a moment later, Nan entering.

At first impression, Nancy seemed harmless. She was fairly short, barely cresting 5'2". She had a round, plump, grandmotherly appearance complete with laugh-lines indelibly etched at the corners of her mouth and eyes. Her recent ordeal had served to lessen some of the plump…though not by much.

Despite appearances, she had spent more than thirty years of her life dealing with the most violent, unbalanced, troubled young men and women that the slums of New York could spit out. She had wrestled knives off of boys a foot taller and a hundred pounds of muscle heavier than she was. She was overflowing with compassion but at the same time, she brooked no nonsense and could be as immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar when she wanted to be.

"Nan, did the doctor's clear you?" Anderson asked without preamble.

"My arm is fine, it's a minor fracture, they took care of it," she dismissed instantly. "David, something is extremely wrong here."

"I know," he said wearily. "We were just discussing it. This is bad, Nan, I won't lie. I refuse to believe that she just snapped with no provocation."

"Good, continue to refuse to believe it, because she didn't," Nancy said sternly.

"Mrs. Salgado," Perri said tiredly, but Nan was having none of it. She fixed him with a look.

"Admiral Perri, I have studied human behavior for the better part of three decades. I know violent individuals of all kinds, am familiar with nearly every mental illness on and off the books, and more importantly, I know that girl. What you saw is not what you think you saw."

"Tell us," Anderson urged.

"Del's actions were born out of defense and fear, not aggression," Nancy told him. "She built a wall of that desk to protect herself. She hid, Admiral, which is what her instincts demand of her whenever she is afraid and helpless. Now, you know as well as I that while she may very often be afraid, Del is very rarely helpless. She learned to overcome these instincts when she was still in the institution, choosing instead to confront her fears rather than retreat 'into the vents' as it were. What she did just now was retreating back into the vents."

"What could have frightened her so much?" Perri asked with a baffled blink. "The woman's faced down thresher maws, batarian slavers, combat scenarios that make the most seasoned infantryman cringe inside…Dr. Wyatt simply asked if she was still smoking-"

"So he claims," Nancy scowled. "Everything that happened prior to us arriving we have only his word for. I do know one thing for a fact, David…Delilah was drugged."

"Drugged?" he blinked, stiffening.

"I have seen that look in ten thousand eyes before," she said. "Kids coming in off the street high on sand, or Vitamin C. Kids so violent they have to be sedated, restrained. That foggy glass, that distant stare…there is a particular look that comes along with intoxication of any kind that no mental health professional with any kind of experience is going to miss. Not to mention her slurred speech, and when she lashed out at Wyatt she was cursing about needles. I have no doubt whatsoever, David. My baby was drugged, and that so-called psychiatrist of yours is a snake. I can feel it in my bones."

A swimming fog danced and tugged and swirled at vision, sensation, emotion. Unconsciously, her hands tugged weakly at the padded restraints holding her arms to the bed. Eyes rolled under heavy lids, languid and dreamlike as two drops of saline edged from below dark lashes, tumbling down temples, damping dark hair.

Dr. Wyatt looked up as the escort entered, Shepard between them. Rising, he strode over and accepted the data pad from one, signing it before passing it back. "Thank you, gentlemen. I can take it from here."

As the two guards departed, he lightly touched Del's arm, directing her to sit at a nearby desk. The chair was bolted to the floor, and he attached a fasten from the chair to the bind-cuffs she still wore. "I am sorry about the restraints. After the results of my evaluation there should be no more need of them…you will simply be required to have an armed escort around the secure areas of the facility."

"Better safe than sorry I guess, right Doc?"

"As you say," he replied affably.

Making sure she was secure, he straightened. "You have been through many of these evaluations before, I see," he told her, gesturing to the records lying on his desk. "You have some borderline concerns but nothing that would keep you out of service. It is my understanding however that your PTSD has displayed new symptoms and you are now on…to use the vernacular…little greens?"

"That is correct," Shepard told him. His pale blue eyes smiled as he sat on the edge of his desk, regarding her.

"Nothing to be concerned about. Every other soldier out there is on little greens, Perri included. You are a smart, capable woman, Commander. You understand the need for these evaluations…for the steps the Alliance is taking regarding you and what happened in batarian space?"

"I am aware."

His smile reached his lips and he nodded. "Good. I do have to say, I have been following your career quite closely the last few years. You are…well. You are an amazing example, not only of an Alliance soldier but also of a human being. To endure such traumas in both your past and in service and yet maintain your sanity…not an easy feat."

Her dark eyes watched him warily, but she said nothing in response. Almost eagerly he clasped his hands. "Oh, did you hear the news? Councilor Anderson is resigning his post. I understand he is a good friend of yours."

This surprised her. She blinked. "Anderson is stepping down from the Council?"

"Yes. He and Fleet Master Barrett are taking the concerns of this Reaper fleet now in batarian space very seriously. He feels he can be more use helping to secure our defenses here. In fact, he should be on base sometime in the next day or two. Ambassador Udina will be stepping up to take his place on the Council."

"Of course he will be," she grumped, unable to hide the bitterness in her voice.

"You…dislike Ambassador Udina?"

"We don't always see eye-to-eye."

"Ah, I understand." He rose, walking around his desk. "Donnell Udina and I have worked together before. He can be a bit…hard to take sometimes, hmm?"

He sat behind the desk, clasping his hands in front of her, his expression warm and happy. "Now then…shall we get started?"

Shepard watched as he selected a data pad from among the stack on his desk. Lifting his brows, he peered at it through his glasses before tapping a finger on the edge and returning his gaze to her.

"So, are you still smoking?" At her scowl he chuckled. "Yes, I bet you hear that question every time you have a physical, but I am required to ask. Dr. Chakwas was kind enough to forward your medical records to both me and Dr. Cooper. Quite fascinating reading…astonishing technology. Nanites, bio-synthetic implants-…we were, of course, quite skeptical about your claim of having been 'rebuilt' by Cerberus but after seeing this…well, to say we're astounded and as eager as kids at Christmas would be an understatement."

"Dr. Chakwas was fascin….fascinated….f-fash…" Del's tongue seemed suddenly uncooperative, a warm feeling spreading over her body. The room seemed to tilt a little, swaying ever so gently. She blinked, shaking her head, then blinked again. Across the desk, Dr. Wyatt smiled, and looked at the pad again.

"Most interesting to me at this juncture was this little note here," he continued. "'Due to an increased metabolism from her genetic reconstruction, Commander Shepard shows a remarkable resilience to and recovery from all forms of sedation.'"

The heat flushed over her cheeks. The room was now moving more dramatically. Alarm was a thick, bitter sludge churning distantly in her stomach. Her hands lifted weakly, only to be stopped in less than an inch by the snap of the tether.

"What…d'you do to me…" she mumbled.

"It's a good thing I read that part before you came in," Wyatt grinned with cherubic grace. The world slid to the side, his voice becoming nothing but an echo. "Or I might have made a serious error…"

Full consciousness returned. She was still in a chair, though a differing one from before. She was still shackled, but her location had moved. She was now in the far corner of the office, among some banks of medical equipment. Wyatt was leaning over her, humming slightly as he did something just behind her head she could not see. Struggling away the dregs of sedation, Shepard tried to lift her feet, intending to plant them in his gut and shove him away…only to find they, too, were now restrained. Hearing the snap of metal from her motion, he leaned back on his heels.

Fucker was still smiling.

"Ah, that is so impressive," he cooed. "There was enough sedative on that dot to knock a grown man out for ten hours…it managed to put you down for less than one."

Reaching out he gripped her arm firmly, turning it over in the restraint. A small white dot, exactly like the medication patches she pasted to the nape of her neck every morning save in color, was on the underside of her wrist.

"Do forgive me," he said as he peeled it off. "I applied it when I fastened your cuffs to the chair. I was only going to use a tenth of that dosage but as I said…lucky I read your medical file first."

"What do you want?" she snarled. "The fuck are you doing?"

"What is necessary," he replied. "Killing two birds with one stone, in fact. You see, Commander…you may have deduced by my glasses and my rather…unfortunate…hair line that I'm a Liberationalist. That is, however, not all that I am. I am also a very stringent member of Terra Firma."

"You're a fucking bigot-"

"Now now, name-calling isn't necessary," he said, and the cherubic grin reappeared. "I mean, I hate you with a passion and yet, I am able to speak civilly to you."

"You're crazy!"

"Oh, no no no. You see, I'm afraid you are the one that is crazy, Commander."

Leaning forward, he gripped her forearms tightly, his face inches from hers as his grin turned feral, eyes dancing. His fingers dug painfully into her skin.

"You were supposed to be the best humanity had to offer…a paragon, a beacon of our advancement, our achievement! The ideal human! Instead, what are you? A goddamn shill to those frog-eyes, squid-heads and chicken-feet. Letting aliens on your crew, saluting that dead asari slut…and speaking of sluts…"

His eyes sparkled and Shepard glared, baring her teeth a little as she leaned in dangerously. "Don't you dare-"

"Don't I dare what?" he asked, the grin dancing on his face, careful to keep out of head-slamming range. "Don't I dare call that disgusting perversion of a squid you're fucking a slut?"

Shepard's biceps bulged and the cuffs rattled dangerously as she surged forward with a curse. He remained out of range, the binds staying secure. He had clearly planned for her added strength, as well.

"You have desecrated and insulted everything it means to be human," he barked. "You, the first Spectre, mankind's most glorious hope and you're a worthless, squid-fucking pile of pig shit!"

Specks of saliva foamed from his lips, flicking onto her cheeks as he fumed. Then, almost as if a switch was thrown, he straightened, calm lighting over his face once again.

"So, we have our motivation, don't we?" he beamed. "Now how about the method?"

"I swear to fuck the moment I'm out of these restraints I'm going to goddamn skin you alive," she snarled.

"Mmhmm," he smirked. "One thing that cannot be argued, Shepard, is that you are one of the most resilient human beings on God's green Earth…even if you are barely worthy of the title. I wondered, more than a few times, how much it would actually take before you well and truly lost your mind? So much more than most normal people, that is obvious…or you would already have lost it. I don't think that's fair, do you? I think you're overdue for your fair share of crazy."

He straightened, tossing a half-gesture off at the equipment behind her. "I've memorized your file. Every mission, every report, every teensy little quirk you have. I know about your phobias, your habits, your nightmares. This is the second bird my stone is going to kill. I've spent years developing a hypnotherapy process…quite in secret, actually. Don't want anyone stealing my ideas before they come to fruition, after all. It works on subharmonic frequencies that can be programmed to excite certain regions of the brain. In conjunction with a lovely little cocktail of my own mix, I can use the subharmonic frequencies to bring to mind every single teensy tiny little horrific memory lurking about in that ugly head of yours. You will relieve every one of them in exquisite, glorious detail. It'll be just like you were there…all over again."

"I will kill you," Del threatened raggedly. "I swear to God I will kill you…"

He huffed. "What is going to happen, Commander, is you are going to suffer the worst, most vivid nightmare you have ever before experienced. You are going to suffer it until your feeble little brain comes apart. Then, you are going to be thrown into a bitsy little cell and left to drool on yourself for the rest of your life. Everyone will see how lunatic you are. You'll be hidden away, covered up, buried in some dingy corner where no one will ever find you again, lost in the hell you deserve for your disgusting perversions!"

Drawing a syringe from his pocket he tugged off the cap in his teeth, slamming his hand down over her forearm again. She strained furiously, muscles knotting like steel…which did nothing but sharpen the pain of the needle he forcefully rammed into her flesh.

Whatever it was he'd injected her with, it was fast. It seemed she'd hardly felt the stab of the injection when the world once more seemed to heat up in a flush of fire. Reality skipped and danced away, a thousand bees filling her skull as she felt something pressed into her ears.

Scream for me!

The cut of a knife across her collar, the heated slap of ammonia.

The gnawing ache of starvation, her mother's indolent, swollen corpse.


They hit him so hard, Del.

Shepard turned away from the Room and dug her fingers into the sides of the vent, frightened, desperate. Two of her nails tore, leaving streaks of blood as the men laughed, ripping her backward by her ankles.

Needles, so many needles.

Weight crushing her, clothing ripped, sour breath filling her mouth. Tearing, ripping, pushing…hurts. Hurts!

Meat-hooks digging into her wrists. Skin flaying from bone. Blood spilling over her hands.

Kaidan! Kaidan, answer me!

Onward. More. Horrible. Horrible.

Liara! Liara's been shot! Hands slick with sapphire blood, fading sky blue eyes. "Stay with me, Tianlán! Stay with me!"

"She's gone, Commander…" Helen's voice, like mist.

"No…no, this isn't how it happened! She didn't die!"

She's gone.

Nan's face melting, falling from bone.

She's gone!

Shepard jolted awake with a choked cough that may have been the beginning of a scream. Eyes wide, panting frantically, her eyes darted around the room.

The room. Her detention room.

Her breath came in quick, sharp heaves. Was this real? Was it gone? Was it done?

Her shaking tugs revealed that she was strapped down. Her brain felt as if it had been scooped from her skull, dried with a woolen towel, and then shoved back in. She struggled to focus, to remember. Nan…Nan had been there, hadn't she? She remembered Nan, remembered Anderson.

Slowly it grew a bit clearer. She'd broken free of the chair, somehow…or…no, he'd set her free. He'd let her go. Trapped half in reality, half in the haze of her own tormented past, Shepard was lost in her simple instincts…instincts learned by a helpless little girl desperate to survive. She remembered destroying the equipment, tearing the desk off its legs, cramming herself into the smallest, darkest hole she could find.

Then Nan had been there. Nan…God, Nan was alive!

Part of her was certain now she had indeed gone mad, like Wyatt had wanted. She couldn't cling to the false hope that Nan was still alive. How could it be possible? The Illusive Man would not have let her go, she had probably already been dead before they'd even left the Collector station.

The rest of her desperately gripped onto hope like a beacon. She had been there, alive and safe…somehow. She'd been there, like she had been there a thousand times before…holding Del after her nightmare, somehow making the world solid and safe again.

Then he had been there as well, Wyatt. A dream of a memory of Nan telling him 'no sedative', yet as he'd grabbed her arm there was the thin prick of a needle anyway, a cold slip into the flesh of her underarm and calm…calm, warm water, and then-

Del closed her eyes, weary, sick. She'd pushed Nan. She'd hurt Nan, trying to get to Wyatt. The needle-prick had brought calm with it but only for a moment…and after that there was just rage, familiar and biting rage that sought for his blood, and in the quest of it, she'd hurt Nan.

Her dark eyes sank shut again.

She'd hurt Nan. She really was nothing but a monster.