It is a truth universally acknowledged that a soldier in want of justice, will fight to their last breath to bring it to light.
A shuttle swung into the ranks, nondescript and unmarked. A long, lean figure in Alliance uniform stepped out. A duffle bag was yanked from the back seat and easily tossed over a shoulder, flexing formidable muscle.
Elizabeth Shepard was in town, fresh from passing N7 training and on leave until her first posting. She checked her omnitool, and read the directions in the messages she had been sent.
Miranda had moved up in the world. Shepard strode deliberately through the crowds, barely noticing that they parted unconsciously for the tall redhead. The Presidium was not really the place for such an out-of-place figure. She paused before the desk of the secretary in charge of the Embassies.
"I'm here to see Miranda Lawson," she spoke with a sharp tone.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, Ambassador Lawson has no appointments today," the woman didn't even look up.
Shepard shifted in annoyance, and snarled, "I'm not a damn appointment, I'm a house guest."
"Let me…uhhh," the woman looked up and her eyes widened at Shepard's appearance, "…let me just…" she touched her screen, "Ambassador? You have a guest. A Miss…." She looked up at Shepard queryingly.
"Lizzie Shepard," Lizzie leaned over the console and shouted, "Miranda, get your gorgeous ass out here. I need a shower and a meal that doesn't involve heating something in a can!"
The secretary slammed a hand down to sever the connection. Lizzie smiled sweetly at her and glanced up as a beautiful woman appeared at the top of the stairs, "Elizabeth Shepard, get your fantastic tits up here and give me a hug!" Arms were thrown high in enthusiasm.
Lizzie hefted her bag again and took the stairs two at a time. She dumped the bag with a puff of dust and swept Miranda up in a hug that swung her off her feet.
"It's about damn time you got here," Miranda ran her hand through Lizzie's cropped scalp.
"Hey! I got here," Lizzie hooked an arm around Miranda's neck, drawing the disapproving glare of many stiff backed ambassadorial staff, "That's an effort in itself. You know I hate this place."
"Ohhhh, poor baby," Miranda pouted, gripped Lizzie's chin and kissed her on the forehead.
Lizzie picked up her bag again and slung her arm around Miranda's waist, "Come on, you can fill me in on all the excitement." Her voice was droll.
"Oh, I have a surprise for you!"
"I can't wait," Lizzie grinned and headed up the stairs to Miranda's apartment.
"No," Lizzie said flatly, "No way in hell."
The dress hung limply on the hangar.
"Forget it," she repeated, glaring at Miranda, not taken in at the slightest by the woman's innocent expression.
"But I want you to escort me to this reception."
"Hell fucking no. I'm going to stay here, watch vids and drink your wine,"
Miranda pouted, and jiggled the dress, "Please?"
"You don't want me as an escort. I just came off N7 training!" Lizzie protested, "All I want to do is kick back and relax. Playing kissyface with a bunch of diplomats does nothing for me."
Miranda leaned forward, her voice dropping low and sultry, "You might find someone to play kissyface with, Lizzie. After all…N7 training is twelve months of sand in your asscrack, fungus on your tits and …"
Lizzie held up a hand, "Okay, okay, gods, stop now." She yanked the hangar toward her, and wrinkled her nose, "Okay, this looks way too revealing."
"Height of fashion," Miranda assured.
"HAH!" Lizzie muttered and levered herself to her feet, "Fine. I'm having a shower. You had better have a big ass glass of wine waiting for me."
Miranda slapped her ass as she walked past, "There's my girl."
Lizzie turned sharply and pointed at Miranda warningly, "Enough of that."
Miranda whistled sharply. Lizzie posed in the doorway with a hipshot stance and a smirk. The clinging black dress was smoking on the toned and tanned Lieutenant Elizabeth Shepard. She had tattoos on her shoulder that were revealed by the sleeveless arms. Its cleavage plunged to indecent levels, while the neckline came up and hid the scars at her throat. She appreciated that. While not overly vain, she didn't like having her past cast up in the expressions of those who conversed with her. The skirts went down to her ankles, which were shod in decidedly 'yes, mistress' heels.
The 'yes, mistress' heels were fucking hard to walk in. Lizzie tried her normal stride and stumbled. Her frown caused laughter to erupt from Miranda's lips.
"I hate you," Lizzie snarled.
"Awww, pumpkin," Miranda rose, her own perfect form clad in burgundy red silk, "Take smaller steps, and wiggle."
Lizzie narrowed her eyes.
"Pouting is good too. I like my escorts to pout,"
Lizzie slammed a fist into Miranda's shoulder.
"OW!" the woman protested, "If that left a bruise I'm going to pay you back."
"Bite me," Lizzie grumbled, "Come on. Get me to this thing. I can't drive in these damn shoes."
"Holy shit, Tali!"
For a brief moment, Lizzie looked around guility, but no one seemed to notice her swearing. But the quarian in the gorgeous beaded blue silk envirosuit did. She turned and there was no other word for it but she squealed.
The two women embraced tightly.
"Oh my gods, I had no idea…"
"Ancestors, Shepard, I thought you were training.."
"I just got back…"
"We have to.."
The two women laughed. Shepard dropped her forehead to the quarian's, "I thought of you often since I left." She quirked a smile, "I missed you."
"A girl always needs her best friend!" Tali'zorah nar Rayya vas Neema, tugged Lizzie toward the couches that were scattered around the floor, being posed on by a variety of lovely women of every species, and being flirted with by a variety of men.
Lizzie Shepard slung herself into a spare seat; and reaching down, she tugged off the shoes. Tali lowered herself more elegantly and rose a hand for a waiter. She selected a glass of champagne and handed it to Lizzie when her attention came back to the quarian. Lizzie accepted the glass gratefully.
"This is my idea of hell," Lizzie took a slug of the contents of the glass and noticed that Tali's attention was definitely elsewhere. She glanced over her shoulder. She saw a quarian in a neat dark red tunic moving around the ground. She heard Tali sigh.
"So…who's the hottie?" Lizzie drawled, taking another sip.
"What?" Tali looked back, distractedly, "Uhhh…who?"
Lizzie pointed at the quarian now talking to a turian delegation, "Him. In the red suit."
Tali slapped Lizzie's hand down, and hissed, "Stop pointing! He is the new quarian ambassador, Kal'Reegar nar Rayya vas Tonbay."
"I can see the steam in your faceplate, Tali," Lizzie took another sip of her champagne.
"Shut up," Tali muttered, "They are coming over."
"…they?" Lizzie glanced back toward the quarian. He was trailing a very tall, longsuffering turian.
Tali stood up hurriedly, "Ambassador Kal'Reegar nar Rayya vas Tonbay." She bowed her head, "This is Elizabeth Shepard…she…" a grunt from the quarian interrupted her flow.
Lizzie smiled innocently, until she caught the eye of the turian. And her smile faded as green eyes met sharp blue.
Kal'Reegar's voice was a rumble that was both friendly and attractive, "Tali'zorah, I have been impressed with your work in my office. Your reports of the Perseus Veil and the geth have been instrumental for our fleet." He turned to Lizzie and held out his hand, "Ms Shepard, a pleasure. This is an old friend, General Garrus Vakarian. He prefers the harsh conditions of Palaven but once in a while agrees to join me here."
Lizzie gripped Kal'Reegar's hand with unconscious force, as her eyes drifted to the General.
"Miss Tali'zorah, will you honour me with a dance?" the quarian shook his hand subtly before offering it to Tali.
"Y…yes," the young woman replied, and linked her hand with Ambassador's. He drew her out onto the barely crowded dance floor.
Garrus Vakarian cleared his throat, "Do you care to dance, Ms Shepard?"
Lizzie's lips quirked. Dancing? Her? She tried to paste a sober expression on her face, "No, thank you, General. You need not waste your time talking to me, believe me, I am no one important." She waved her champagne glass.
"Very well," the turian replied stiffly, and gave her a short bow before departing.
Lizzie watched him move through the crowd, barely shifting his broad shoulders as others naturally shifted out of his way. She saw him in a few minutes, escorting a lovely Asari onto the floor. He moved well. Really well. Lizzie sighed and looked down at her feet, rubbed raw at the heels and joints. Oh well. She wasn't made for this life anyway.