Shepard fired off a concussive shot, effectively sending the agent down to the ground for the last time. She tentatively walked forward, her assault rifle trained on the prone form. She extended her boot and gently scuffed the agent's side. The body didn't move, confirming the fact that Shepard did kill her. A sudden noise to her left made her swing her rifle around, aiming it at the person standing there. When she realized it was Vega, she lowered her gun.

"Do not do that, Lieutenant," Shepard said as she put her gun away. "I could have shot you."

"Sorry, boss." James Vega said gruffly. "Is she dead?"

"I shot a concussive shot at her head; I don't think anyone could survive that." Shepard explained.

"Good point," Vega said with a nod.

Shepard looked up and at the cluster of C-Sec officers that were scouring the immediate area. She couldn't see Deacon. "Where's Josiah?"

Vega shook his head. "At the Normandy by now – we ran into him on our way in. That woman he was holding looked like-"

"What woman?" Shepard asked urgently. "Was she okay?"

"She looked like she was in bad shape, Commander. One of the C-Sec officers opened up an emergency storage elevator to get her to the Normandy. They're probably there now; those elevators go fucking faster than normal elevators."

"Was Chakwas told?" Shepard put her rifle away. The urge to head for the Normandy immediately was rising.

"She told me to get the elevator open, but that was a few minutes ago. I'm sure she's taking care of her now. Commander," Vega looked at Shepard. "She looked bad."

Shepard looked around before looking at Vega. "Stay here and help C-Sec, I'm headed for the Normandy."

Vega nodded his head. "Better go fast, Shepard."

Aria walked as quickly as she could without suspicion out of Purgatory. Bray had to jog just to keep up with the matriarch, but he wasn't going to complain. She'd gotten a call from one of the Commanders about Lauren. Apparently, according to the short amount of information that Bray had heard, she was in surgery on board the Normandy. Anyone with a brain knew that Aria was going to head there straight away – she was Lauren's bondmate. She'd barked at Derimus to keep everyone in line, her version of 'you're in charge' and took off. Bray followed because it was his job to keep her safe – Lauren had hired the batarian for that specific reason. All he had to do was keep up with her pace on the way to the Normandy.

Shepard stood with her arms crossed, staring at the red door lock to the Normandy. Her crew moved anxiously around her, being careful not to bump or bother the worried woman. Deacon was leaning against the wall nearby, his eyes closed and his arms stuffed in his pockets.

Liara stood with a cup of tea in her hands, watching the pair quietly. Vega walked over, tilting his head to get a better look at the two of them.

"Do they know they're still in their armor?" Vega asked quietly.

Liara shook her head. "No, and don't go bother them about it. They need space right now, James."

"I know that," Vega said. "But does Deacon know that he's still covered in blood?"

"Is he?" Liara craned her head to get a better look at Deacon. "Oh goddess, he is. That's not his I hope."

"No, it's not." Garrus suddenly appeared behind Vega. "It's Lauren's."

"What are you doing down here?" Vega asked. "I thought you were working with Joker and EDI. "

"I was until Aria T'Loak contacted the Normandy," Garrus explained. "She's in the airlock as we speak."

"Oh shit," Vega looked at Liara. "Should we bother them now?"

Liara nodded and set her tea down. The trio approached carefully. Deacon looked up at them when they approached and nudged Shepard with his foot. Shepard startled and looked at Deacon with a scathing look, before realizing that others were there.

"What?" Shepard asked irritably.

"Aria T'Loak is here." Garrus said.

"Fuck," Shepard brought her hands up to rub at her face. "Josiah-"

"I had to call her," Deacon answered irritably. "Because I knew you wouldn't."

"What the hell are we going to tell her? Sorry but Lauren's probably dead or dying as we speak?"

"WHAT?" Aria's voice made the occupants of the entire mess hall jump. "What the fuck is going on, Shepard?"

The asari was standing about ten feet from her with an ensign and batarian right behind her. The ensign looked like she might piss her pants and the batarian was watching Shepard with a look that more than told her to be careful. And she knew that, in fact Aria reminded her somewhat of the bombs on Eden Prime that needed to be defused. If Shepard didn't tread carefully, she would probably come face-to-face with the mercenary's legendary biotics.

"She was bleeding to death when we found her," Shepard answered quickly. "Doctor Chakwas has her in the medical bay – she's going through surgery. Chakwas has her whole medical staff with her, so I'm sure it won't be long until we know something about Lauren's condition."

Shepard's quick response silenced Aria's mouth, but not her brain. On the outside she still looked tense, but longer completely pissed. But inside she was struggling with a hurricane of questions that she wanted to ask. Not to mention the rising urge to rip the medical bay doors open. But she was on Shepard's ship, in front of Shepard's crew. The Spectre would probably kill her if she attempted any of that. There was only one option while she was on board. She had to keep up her façade; she was Lauren's boss, not her bondmate.

But that didn't mean she still couldn't be pissed.

"The bastard that put her in there, is he dead?" Aria asked, gritting her teeth.

Shepard nodded. "The bitch who put her in there is dead, yes. The bastard who planned it is currently in custody at C-Sec."

Aria narrowed her eyes at Shepard. "You let him live?"

"If we had killed him, we would have never have known where they were keeping her. And had we been a minute later, she would be dead now." Deacon answered coldly.

"You should have shot him anyway," Aria snapped angrily.

"Then we'd never find out who's actually behind this," Shepard snapped back.

Aria was staring at Shepard, posturing herself. She was attempting to keep her anger reigned in, but she was failing at it and it was obvious to Shepard. "We all know who's behind this, Commander."

"I highly doubt that the Illusive Man is taking out hits on the mercenaries that are currently working for you just because he can, T'Loak."

At this point, it was obvious that both women were throwing professionalism out the window in this conversation. Liara knew that they wouldn't dare attempt to kill each other, but there was still the possibility of the crew getting in between them and getting hurt. Liara made a motion for Garrus to come closer to her. When the turian obeyed she leaned over towards the side of his head. "Clear the crew deck quietly, just in case."

Garrus nodded and moved away from Liara, grabbing Vega by the arm and explaining what they were doing. They began to clear the deck silently, getting the crew into the elevator without any sort of fuss.

"What are you saying, Shepard? That I'm wrong?"

"I'm saying that you have to consider the possibility that all of this has been an isolated incident, not a conspiracy." Shepard said tensely.

"Even if it's not the Illusive Man's orders, it's still Cerberus." Aria spat. "And the Illusive Man's still on the top of my shit list."

"Oh for the love of all things, shut the hell up, both of you." Deacon snapped. "Who cares who's behind what? That doesn't change the fact that Lauren's still hurt. Why don't the two of you stop bitching and focus on her? The Illusive Man is on the top of everyone's shit list right next to the Reapers." He pushed himself off the wall, walking to stand between to the two of them. "But our first concern should be her and her recovery."

Aria and Shepard looked at each other. It was no use continuing their pissing match over whose fault this was. Deacon was right; Lauren should be their first and only concern for the time being. Shepard turned away first, focusing her eyes on the blacked out medical bay.

"Good." Deacon said firmly. He looked at Aria. "You're welcome to stay until we know anything."

Aria nodded and moved away, deciding that she would have a better view from leaning up against the lone counter in the mess hall. Bray followed her and chose to lean against the wall near the only entrance into the mess hall.

Liara gave everyone in the space a rather skeptical look before she retreated into her office. She had work to do and she preferred to go back to the silence of the computer servers.

Deacon sighed and looked down at his feet. He noticed an odd brownish color on his armor and squinted. His armor was navy blue. He leaned back and examined his armor, realizing that the brownish color was drying blood. He gagged internally. "Holy fuck I'm covered in blood."

Shepard looked at him. "Go get changed and come back. She'll still be waiting for us."

"She'd better," Deacon said quietly so that only Shepard could hear him. "She promised."