A/N: Following the amazing reaction I got to the "teaser" chapter, this is a prologue to said chapter. This will replace the previous chapter for now - which will be edited to maintain continuity and re-posted in the future!

All items own by their respective owners – Bioware/EA and Blizzard.


The station was attached to the side of a small asteroid. Scans had revealed that it was on minimal power, only a few heat signatures seemed to possibly be people. It was also revealed that part of the layout was shielded from scans; meaning they couldn't fully tell what the station was meant to used for.

It was unregistered; which probably meant it was built by pirates – though why they'd have an automated distress beacon was beyond him.

So all Lt. Anderson and his search and rescue team knew was that a general distress call had been sent out. Nothing more.

The darkness was pierced by an omni-tool light.

It was pre-fabricated and stale a stale grey; with only the red glow of emergency lights – some of which were gone or flickering – showing the way. The layout was simple; it was four floors in a flat figure of eight with rooms branching off. One long tube led away from the "bottom" of the eight to a separate docking bay (which was big enough for three medium-sized shuttles).

Anderson was leading a team of six marines in the advance party; with orders to secure entry to the docking bay, and then do a sweep of the area. So far it had gone smoothly, the bay was secured. Two of the marines were watching the sealed door to the tube.

One thing was off though.

A single shuttle was in the bay – on its side.

Facing it, Anderson wondered what the hell could've done such a thing. The right-side door was ripped clean off. A red smear, that might have been a person, coated the floor around the rent-off door.

The medical shuttle – which was bringing over ten more marines as well – was parking in the bay; its door sliding open before it had even settled.

"What the hell happened here?" A female voice called from the shuttle. Looking closer, it was Dr. Karin Chakwas, newly appointed as the lead medical officer on the Hungary.

"No idea Doctor." Anderson replied, keeping his rifle lowered. "I'll leave your four marines to keep you safe, the rest I'll split into two teams to secure the rest of the station and find any survivors."

Karin nodded before speaking. "Okay, don't take too long though; if we have serious wounds to treat I don't have my full gear with me."

"I know Doctor; we'll be a quick as we can." Her nodded at her and turned to face the lined up marines. A few hand signals and single words later he'd given everyone their orders.

The tube between the docking bay and the rest of the station was mostly clear, one section had evidence of small-arms fire but it was superficial damage at best.

However the entrance to the station proper was different. A body was draped over a desk; blood coated the wall and floor.

The body looked like it had been torn apart by a wild animal.

"Fuck me." One of the other marines gasped.

"Quiet." Anderson hissed. "Check your corners and keep an eye out; whatever did this could still be here."

Anderson signalled for them to move out, one team of six going to the left, and the rest going right with Anderson on point. The corridors were bland, no insignia on show so far. There was evidence of fighting in places; bullet impacts; bent metal.

But no more bodies yet.

Rounding the corner, Anderson saw a partly-obscured glass wall running the length of the corridor. Parts of the glass wall had been smashed, shards of glass crunched under their hardsuit boots. Another body was lying in what appeared to be offices.

This body was worse than the first – some of it appeared to have been eaten.

Chunks of flesh appeared to have been ripped away.

"Sir, we have found the remains of what appears to have been a mess-hall." Private Sachs called over the radio. "Something blasted part of the wall right off; a barrier is up but will fail soon without more power."

"Shit. Right, finish your sweep. Keep me posted and watch your six." Anderson clicked off as he got near to the body.

Something was off.

The level was clear. Two other bodies, both in the same state as the one Anderson had found. Even so, Anderson felt like he was being watched.

A floor down and Anderson was now worried. Whilst they'd found several more bodies, there was no real evidence of what had caused the deaths, or the wounds.

They had found a security station, from which they had been able to download about four days worth of video and audio files; he hoped that these would shed some light as to what was going on here.

One thing was clear however. This place was a laboratory and the area of the station that they had been unable to scan was… well, it was built like a prison. He had no idea what would warrant such a secure set-up but science wasn't really his thing anyway. Moving along from the security station he came across something, well, odd.

A splatter of blood that looked almost… purple.

Nothing else was out of place in the general area, so he took a quick sample to send results to Karin; hopefully she'd be able to identify what it was from. If she could it might give them an idea as to what they were up against.

A dull thump caught his attention; his omni-tool's light sweeping the area.

Something moved out of sight to fast for him to follow.

"Shit, I've got something down here." Anderson spoke slowly and quietly into his radio. "Didn't get a good look at it, seemed humanoid; though I'm unsure…"

Something slammed into him from the side, sending his rifle spinning.

Rolling, he pushed himself to his feet, seeing a shape disappear into the room behind him.

"Team; rally to me!" Anderson called out, backing towards his rifle.

Only to stop short, when he caught sight of a figure – of a woman? – who was crumpled by his weapon.

It dawned on him that the woman was clearly badly hurt.

And wasn't at all human.

He didn't move a muscle; the figure was trying to get up even though her right leg was clearly shattered.

"Lt Anderson!" Karin barked into his ear. "That sample you sent me. It is showing both and Zerg DNA. Something here is very dangerous…"

"I know Karin; I'm looking right at her."


"There's a woman… she's badly hurt; possibly bleeding to death from a wound on her leg." He kept his voice low so as not to startle the figure.

"Oh god… I see your location. I'm coming down there; don't let her out of your sight!" Karin clicked off before he could reply.

"Keep her in my sight, right, easy as pie."

"Sir!" It was his team.

"Stay back!" He waved a hand at them; the figure flinched at his movement. "Don't crowd her."

It was a long few minutes before Karin could get to Anderson's position. When she did, it was a worrying sight. Anderson was standing a few feet away from a miracle.

The woman was, at first glance, mostly human with some clear differences. Bony tendrils draped over her head like hair; clawed hands, much like the talons of a Turian, flexed; patches of armoured skin.

The question was, was she hostile?

Her leg wound was terrible, so taking her down if she was shouldn't be that much of problem.

But the look on the woman's face… she was terrified.

She was also muttering to herself. To low for her to hear everything, so she moved slightly closer and the words she did hear made her blood freeze.

"Just an experiment." A pause for breath. "Expendable. Please make the pain stop. No more, please… please, don't hurt me… why are you doing this to me?"

The poor thing was hurt, terrified; an experiment.

Without warning the figure tried to move. Seeming to notice her audience for the first time, see tried to push her body upright.

Her leg snapped audibly and she fell to the ground again with a soul-rending cry of pain.

"Anderson, she's going to kill herself." She whispered. "We need to sedate her; to help her."

"What do you expect me to do?" Anderson didn't know what to make of the situation; but then, neither did she.

"I have a tranquiliser gun in my bag; watch her whilst I load it, I don't want to startle her."

"Roger that."

Karin knelt down slowly. In the half-light of the room the woman's eye glowed purple.

"Please don't hurt me. I… don't hurt me; please!" She was begging; it was hard not to feel sorrow for her.

"I'm not going to hurt you dear; I'm going help you. But I need to be able to look at you to do so." Karin looked at her, right in the eye; trying not to flinch from the inhuman gaze.

"I just want the pain to stop…"

"I'm going to help you but I need to sedate you…" As Karin spoke she brought a needle into view.

The reaction was immediate. "NO NEEDLES!"

It was screamed so loud that everyone started in surprise.

"NO NEEDLES! NO NEEDLES! NO MORE PAIN!" As she was screaming the woman was pushing backwards, her ruined leg leaving a trail of blood and piece of bone.

Perhaps mercifully, Karin thought, the woman passed out from pain.

When the woman had passed out, Karin was able to get close enough to administer some painkillers and a sedative to keep her out whilst they moved her.

A stretcher was placed next to her and, with Anderson's help; they carefully lifted her onto it. Karin slowly inflated the supports to both keep her still and support that wounded leg.

Moving carefully to the shuttle, she also got a closer look at the woman being carried. She was human and yet not. The bony tendrils on her head amazed her; they acted like hair but were quite solid – part of her couldn't wait to do a full scan and see exactly what was she was.

Then the woman's screams came to her. 'No needles; no more pain'. What had this woman been through?

A quick scan made her feel sick. Track sites for repeated injections; no wonder she hated needles…

She was part-Zerg. The question was, how much?

She'd had enough free will – seemingly – to beg from the pain to stop; but did that mean anything?

She would have to wait and see.

The med-bay on the Hungary was not really equipped to hold the woman – who was still sedated, so it wasn't yet clear if she considered herself female – if she reacted badly. For this reason Karin had – reluctantly – allowed the CO to place an armed guard in the room. She had also secured the wrists and un-injured leg with medical straps on a quick release; mostly to keep the injured woman safe more that anything. As for the injured leg, she'd secured it in a medical splint and put a series of inflatable barriers around the leg to hold it in place. These barriers also had tiny sensor spread along the lengths of them which allowed them to react to movement and, as such, not place undue stress on whichever wounded limb they were supporting.

As for the woman herself… well, the scans she had done – all none invasive of course – had shown quite a few astonishing things. Firstly, despite the mostly human appearance, the level of human to Zerg DNA was – very roughly – a 40/60 split in favour of the Zerg. This led her to believe that her body was still changing; she would know more if she could talk to her and view the – currently restricted – files recovered from the station itself. Secondly, the bone-like hair tendrils were constructed much-like human hair but with a small number of the larger ones filled with some kind-of organic… receiver. This was something else to check the files about; if she got to view the damn things. What was also clear was that the poor thing had been repeatedly injured deliberately – which she found sickening – going by the ligature marks and hairline marks showing previously broken bones. The pain that this person, this hybrid, must have been forced to endure…

A hybrid… Karin would've thought such a thing impossible if it wasn't before her eyes. Beyond her amazement in her even just existing, she was also a little frightened – more like terrified – of her; how much of Zerg was she? She had seen a few – selected – snippets of the security videos recovered from the station. The hybrid in front of her had killed quite a few people, very violently in fact. Though the medical evidence told her that it was more than warranted; if a marine had been tortured like this, well; the Alliance would have flattened anything to get justice.

Being that she was a hybrid she had no one to speak up for her. No one to defend her from the folly that whomever owned that station seemed to be instigating.

And what a station! It had such an array of scientific equipment that she would have liked to stay longer – if they weren't stained with the blood of this poor creature she might have liked to try to "procure" some of the equipment for the med-bay.

A bleeping from the holographic vitals monitor broke her from her chain of thought; oh, crap! She was waking up!

The room was fuzzy, unfamiliar. It certainly wasn't her cell or the testing room that was for sure. Shifting her weight, her right leg screamed in agony – which was nothing new; however the feeling of safety that her leg gave her was indeed very new. Her eyes squeezed shut in an attempt to block the pain. Something seemed to be helping…

Forcing her eyes to open, the brightness of the place made her blink a few times before her eyes adjusted. It was most definitely not that god-awful place. It was somewhere very new. Though the smell of a lab was still all around her… oh, no; another lab!

Fear gripped her hard; it forced her to try to move; only her limbs weren't obeying. Looking down she was secured to the bed. Secured – no! Never again!

She was about to call upon, well, whatever the strange powers she had were actually called she had no idea; when a person – a human woman – appeared at her side.

"Calm down please; the restraints are just to keep you from hurting yourself." The unknown figure leaned in closer as she spoke, something lit up over her closer hand; fearing for her life, she flinched backwards with a cry.

This seemed to make the woman jump back herself; she waved one hand to someone she couldn't quite see.

"No, its okay, she's just scared – the poor thing – I doubt she knows what an omni-tool is." The glowing thing came a little closer. "It's okay my dear, I'm not going to hurt you."

She found her voice; which was raw and hurt when she spoke. "Why?"

"Why? What on earth do you mean?" Her expression told her that she was surprised that she could speak.

"Glowing thing used to hurt before." Her muscles tested the restraints; she could get out if she really tried; though that would no doubt tire her out. "Used to shock me. Used to burn me."

The thing – an omni-tool the figure called it – pulled back as if it was on fire. "Oh my god, that is horrible!" It winked out. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know." She turned away and came back with a grey and blue square lump. "Is this okay to use? It will do the same thing as I was going to do before."

"What you do?"

"You are still quite hurt; this little device will scan you to allow me to help you."

"Why you helping me?" Her voice was getting stronger – though it still hurt – she was having trouble forming words in her mind however.

"Because I'm a doctor – it is my job." The woman said with pride and kindness. "What has been done to you is… it is so wrong I cannot form the words to express it." A cool pink hand was placed upon her own (purple-tinged, armoured and clawed) left one. Such a touch... it was like nothing she had ever felt before.

It caused her to gasp and stare at the hand.

"Are you alright?" Confusion had arrived on the doctor's face.

"I… I-I've never been touched before." She looked away, feeling a few tendrils brush her cheek. "At least, never a nice touch, usually only to hit or to push."

"Fuck…" The other figure shook his head – clearly a guard going by the armour and gun. "That's fucking sick. I mean, she's clearly intelligent – completely sentient – how the hell could they do this to her?" His scent was fear of her but with mixed in with something else… something she could not name.

"I couldn't question them…"

"I know that dear; it was never your fault." The woman gave her a small squeeze; it felt surprisingly nice.

"I'll let Anderson know that she's awake." The man spoke, his gun folded up and it stuck to his armour with small clunk.

"Please do, though let him, and the Captain, know she is still weak. They can talk to her when I give her the all-clear."

"Yes ma'am." He turned and moved to the other side of the room.

"What is your name dear?" The woman took her hand back the small scanner emitted a blue light over her leg.

"Name? I don't understand… I don't know what you mean." She frowned at the woman.

"You don't know what a name is?" She shook her head. "Okay, well I'm Karin…" The woman pointed to herself. "…did they call you anything?" The pointing went to her.

"No, not that I can… wait, yes, sometimes some of them called me Subject 47."

"Subject 47?" The woman – Karin's – voice rose sharply. "There were 46 people before you?"

"I don't think so… I heard one of the say that I was the only one to live." She blew a tendril out of her face when she looked back at the wom-at Karin.

"My god…" Karin sat down on a stool; water – like when she was young and they hurt her – pooled in Karin's eyes. "That… that's horrific."

"I don't know anything else about it…"

"Don't worry, I…" She broke off as water leaked from her eyes. "Oh dear, excuse me."

"Why is water coming from your eyes? Are you hurt?" She tilted her head at Karin with a frown.

"What? No, I'm upset." She frowned again not understanding. "Oh god… I feel sadness for what you've been through. This sadness has made me cry." She pointed to her eyes. "Have you ever cried?"

"Before, when I was small, when the pain got too much; they hurt me worse when I wasted water though. They didn't call it 'cry'."

"Oh my god…" Karin gasped out then stopped; suddenly she was leaning over her, her arms taking her in an embrace. "It is over now my dear; no one will hurt you ever again."

A few days passed with her stuck in the bed – though the restraints had been removed – her leg was healing quickly but she still ached pretty much all over. Hell, even some of her hair tendrils ached!

It was extremely odd to not have to constantly be on guard for the "next test". Karin was always fussing over her, talking to her; just simply being there for her. Even a few times when she'd woken up not sure where she was, Karin was there. Holding her; being patient with her. She could not thank her enough.

Little things still made her terrified that something bad was going to happen. Whether it was a creak from the bulkheads of the ship she was on; something clacking against the wall or floor; people rushing into the med-bay.

Karin called her skittish – whatever that meant – with a small laugh, and told her not to worry as much; no one was going to hurt her. Even so, she couldn't help be nervous. Everything was so new to her.

It took a little bit of convincing, but Karin also got her access to the extranet via a datapad – which she to be shown how to use. It was only when Karin took the pad from her that she got some sleep that day, having spent most of the day reading. Learning and evolving. Being that everything was so new, she had also asked Karin at least a hundred – perhaps more – questions based on things that she had read.

The marine – Lt Anderson – that she had first seen on the station had come by once to visit her. He seemed glad that she was okay; a little wary around her – unsurprising, going the fact that she had tried to hurt him before – but he was mostly happy to see her getting better.

She had also had the CO of the ship, a scary woman called Captain Jun; speak to her for a short while earlier. This woman was not a kind as Karin or Anderson – or that guard, who she still didn't know the name of, who was an almost constant figure in the med-bay – but she did have a vessel to run. Whatever the reason, she preferred Karin.

The human herself was currently scanning her leg again – with her omni-tool for the first time – muttering to no one about her amazing healing rate.

"Have you thought any more about a name for yourself?" Karin asked when she'd finished.

"A little… though I must admit I'm a little thrown by the concept of names being suitable for one gender and not the other."

Karin gave a small laugh. "I guess that could get confusing."

"I just don't have any… basis on what to choose. I'll try to get it down to a few choice names when I can." She shifted, wincing at a flare of pain in her leg. "How is my leg doing?"

"No too badly. The bone should be mostly fused by the end of tomorrow." Karin patted her shoulder. "We will soon be arriving at that facility Captain Jun mentioned; you should get proper care there."

"Will you be there?"

"I don't know; it depends on where the Alliance decides to send me."

She knew that her face had twisted into disappointment. "Really? I don't… I don't trust many people at the moment. You, Anderson and possibly the guard are the only ones." She looked away, watching the readout of her vitals on the nearby holographic screen.

"I know but the truth of the matter is, we don't understand what you are; and for this reason they're afraid of you."

"Afraid of me?"

"Yes, some of us have seen what you are capable of – on that station – and worry that you are a danger." Karin reached out and tilted her chin so she was facing her. "I was terrified of you at first."

"I still am terrified. All I've known for, who knows how many years, is terror and pain. I just want it to stop."

"I know you do my dear." Karin coughed slightly. "I'm sorry to have to bring this up, but, well; some of the bodies recovered from that station were… eaten."

She felt fear grip her again. "I could not help it! My Zerg side…"

"You ate them? What ever for?" Karin's face contorted between disgust, fear and confusion.

"I'm mostly Zerg, Karin. One of the driving forces behind The Swarm is to consume." She looked away, pulling her chin out of Karin's fingers. "I was hurt; scared and hungry. I had no choice but to give into my… nature." The final had a surprising amount of venom behind it.

"Good god… I guess I should have realised that some of your more alien habits would… that I would find them disagreeable."

Her fear had risen and become terror. "Karin… I…"

"I don't hold it against you. I don't agree with it…"

"Please Karin, I had no choice! I-I'm trying so hard not to be a monster! Please!" She was now crying for the first time in… in who knew how long.

"You regret it?"

"I… no, I cannot find it within me to forgive them for I've been through." Her voice had cracked, emotions she didn't understand entering her mind. "I don't like it. Not because it isn't human; I'm not human!" A flare of power flashed in her eyes unbidden. "I can never regret consuming their essence; they had taken mine."

"My dear, I understand – I think anyway – I believe you. No that is wrong; I know what you so say to be true." Karin placed a hand on her shoulder. "The problem is that we don't know what to make of you; we don't understand you."

"I don't understand humans either." She sniffed, rubbing her eyes with a clawed hand.

"That is why we need to work together, to work things out."

"No tests?"

"No invasive tests, yes." Karin swallowed. "We will have to keep an eye on you, to make sure that you are okay. We don't want you to eat something that kills you for example."

"Okay… okay." She looked at Karin. "I will try to co-operate but… I'm terrified."

"I know my dear, I know."

They had arrived at another medical facility about a week ago. She was still mostly alone; Karin had managed to convince – who she called – "the Alliance brass" to allow her to stay as she trusted her (which was true).

Anderson had been there for the first couple of days. Then duty had called him away. She did miss him a little; the human was honest to her.

As for the facility itself, it was under a large dome on a planet Karin had called Mars. It was fairly open; she was allowed to wander – in a wheelchair at the moment, due to her leg still being weak – around a fair space without escort. Though some areas were closed off; either for security or safety reasons.

For her, and others, safety she was being kept separate from other patients. Karin had told that she was unique and because of that she might have germs that could kill the injured. When they had figured out more of her biology then she might be allowed to go around.

In terms of security, Karin had explained that – also because she was the only known one of her kind – that they wanted to keep her safe; keep her alive.

Whilst being grateful, she was also still wary.

At least Karin had been true to her word; so far the only tests had been scans and a few tiny scrapings of her claws (and an equally tiny flake of both her normal skin and from the armoured patches). They had compared these to the files that they had "reclaimed" from the station that had been her home; her cell. She was unaware of the reason, or the results of this, though.

She had allowed this as, if she was honest with herself, she wanted to know more about her nature as well.

One huge thing – especially for her – was that she had chosen a name; which the person who had taken it down had gotten wrong. That said, she actually liked the wrong name better!

She had asked for her name to be recorded as Mia Sol.

The man – who had been frightened of her – had (somehow!) mistyped it as Mal Sal.

Honestly, she didn't mind. Silently even thanking the man for the mistake.

When Karin heard the story she had found it quite hilarious and giggled uncontrollably for quite a while – eventually having had to wipe tears away. She – Mia – had also found it so… stupid that she'd joined in with the laughter – which had gained them a few odd looks from the medical staff around them.

The main thing was though; she now had a name.

About two months dragged by with Mia trying to learn more aspects of humanity – and failing to grasp some things, humour for one. Karin had made a joke… well; it went down like a ton of bricks as Mia could only stare at her in confusion.

Humour was clearly something she wasn't built for…

In terms of the medical facility itself – which she had learnt was called Prospect 1 – she was now walking (and running) fine. Karin had told her to be careful and not strain herself too much, but it should be fine.

Mia was also now allowed to use the gym on site. Whilst she had to be careful with some things due to her claws, for the most part she could use all the machines and weights in said gym. She had also freaked out a few marines on physical workout programmes when she first walked in – escorted by Karin and few marines (who were there to instruct her, not guard). One had dropped his dumbbell upon seeing her – which she caught with her not-quite-biotics-but-like-biotics.

In fact she had been called away from the gym about six hours ago, back to her personal quarters – one door down from Karin's – due to the arrive of a transport carrying wounded soldiers. Karin had told her that pirates – possibly slavers – had attacked a human colony called Mindoir. She looked downright saddened by the news, tearing up a pictures from a report- which being military, she wasn't allowed to see, not being military herself – causing her to hug her.

Karin hugged back, though it had Karin asking why Mia had hugged her.

Mia had simply replied that Karin had hugged her when she was crying and upset; it only seemed fair to return the favour.

This had Karin embracing her again with a small laugh and very broad smile.

Of course Mia understood the reason why she was being asked to stay away from the arrivals – she was a hybrid and as they still did not understand her completely, the less people that knew about her the better. She had to agree with this; she didn't want to have a powerful human to decide that she would look better on his or her dissection table.

Before Karin rushed off to assist with the wounded, Mia caught a few words from Karin's side of a conversation. Some Alliance navy officers were injured when their vessel was struck by an enemy fighter. They were also being transferred to "The Prospect" as the facility was known.

Now though, she was getting bored. While she did have rudimentary access to the outside world, via the extranet and various movie vids; she had now run out of things to look up and had watched all the vids provided.

Now she was sitting on her bed, quite literally, twiddling her thumbs.

Mia wanted to contact Karin, to ask if it was okay to come see her, or go to the gym; anything.

Yet, at the same time, she didn't want to interrupt her if she was busy saving lives.

Making her mind up, she typed a quick message to Karin; having to put on some gloves with sensors in the finger – claw – tips.

{Karin, sorry to bother you. Extremely bored just sitting here – is their anything I can do to help, or will I just get in the way? If I cannot help; is the gym free?}

Fortunately she didn't have to wait long.

{Mia, we're on a quick break at the moment. Still have a few hours of surgery ahead of me. Sorry but it is best if you stay away. I will ask about the gym for you; hold on a few minutes.}

She sat nervously flicking her hair tendrils out of her face; she needed to figure out how to pin them back, since cutting them was not an option – damn that smooth, silky hair that humans had!

{Mia, I've good news! Some of the local guards are heading to the gym and I have got you clearance to meet them there. It's Lt Jose and his group, you know, the ones that are teaching you how to control your powers. If you head straight there they will be there. Sorry about not being there. Karin.}

{Karin – thank you! I was going crazy just sitting here! I'm heading to the gym now, I might forget to message when I get there!}

Grabbing her gym bag she nearly forgot to remove the gloves – which she got through quite quickly thanks to her claws. She didn't run down the corridors, she did "power-walk" as Anderson had called it. A few doctors saw her and greeted her – one joking that she spent more time in the gym than sleeping. She laughed along with them even though she didn't truly see why it was funny.

When she got to the gym, Lt Jose and a few others were already there, warming up with a few biotic throws at holographic – and some real – training dummies. The Lt was a human male and a lithe biotic; her was helpful teaching her breathing exercises to help focus her abilities. Whilst her abilities were not truly biotics, the process of using them was similar enough that it still helped.

Plus he didn't seem to mind that she wasn't human, treating her like a raw recruit at first; until her realised that her strength – both physically and in ability – was greater than all three biotics in the base put together. Then he switched to trying to get her to control her power, to focus it; make it work for her.

He was helping, plus the barriers that he'd been teaching her to generate could be useful in the future.

Moving into the room, he called out a greeting to her. Jose was darker skinned than Karin, though less so than Anderson… she would have to ask Karin about that sometime.

Smiling, she tossed her gym bag down near a seat, swinging her arms out wide she called back. "Lt! Fancy a sparring match with me?"

"Close combat or biotics?"

"How about we warm up with biotics, and then have a little close combat?" She tilted her head at him.

"Sounds good to me; though watch those claws of yours, you gave me a few nasty scratches last time!" Jose was still smiling; he knew it wasn't her fault, she was still getting used to how much damage human skin could take. Her own was quite a lot tougher.

"Of course; sorry about last time…"

"Ah, don't worry about it; not your fault." He shrugged, gesturing towards the training dummies. "Shall we?"

"You're on!"

Captain Hannah Shepard was tired and angry. She was XO on a vessel that had responded to the attack on Mindoir and it had left her sick to her stomach. To make matters worse her husband, Ben, had been seriously hurt groundside.

Right now, since he was in surgery and she couldn't see him, she just wanted to punch something; it was time to visit a punch-bag and thankfully The Prospect had a gym – complete with several rows of just what she wanted.

To her surprise however, the gym had two guards stationed outside the entrance. They didn't appear to have orders to stop her from going in, they saluted as she approached. Then one of them spoke.

"Ma'am, you might not want… might not want to go in there right now. Lt Jose and Mia are having a little competition."


"Right, sorry ma'am, you just got here." The right one spoke – a private. "Mia is very powerful; last time she was in there she ripped a rowing machine up without meaning to…"

"Who is this, Mia?" She frowned at them as they glanced at each other.

"Well, err…"

"She's clear to go in private." A familiar voice called from behind her.

Turning she saw that it was David Anderson. "David, how good to see you!"

"Likewise, Hannah." He gave a quick salute, his face was serious. "You might be in for a shock though." He nodded towards the door.

She followed him in, seeing the tell-tale glow of biotics to the right; four figures on a mat; sparring. "What ever do you…" She stopped mid-sentence.

That woman's hair!

She stopped in her tracks as well; it was… it was bone!

Anderson gave a small chuckle. "I told you that you'd be in for a shock."

Three men were advancing on the bone-haired woman, who she could see had her eyes closed. One of the men, with markings of a Lt. on his vest-top, launched a biotic punch at her.

The unknown woman simply caught his fist; biotics boomed slightly. Her eyes were still closed.

She pulled him towards her, clothes-lining the unfortunate man and sending him spinning. Another roundhouse kicked her from behind – unsporting, she thought – but the woman only staggered half-a-step before seizing the leg and throwing the man aside. The last one used her distraction to hit her across the jaw with a biotic punch. The boom made her wince.

This blow spun her around; but it didn't stop her. Her leg shot out as she turned, striking the man in the stomach, doubling him over. She regained her balance quickly and palmed the man's back, driving him to the mat with loud thump.

She had taken them down with ease. Three biotics – that had been hitting her with biotically-enhanced blows – and she'd floored them in moments. The biotics had not meant anything.

"Amazing, isn't she." Anderson spoke from next to her. "I was part of a team that rescued her from a rogue group of scientists."

"What is she?" Hannah could barely get her voice over a whisper; she didn't want to piss this woman off!

"Mia's a Zerg/human hybrid."

"Zerg?" She looked at him sharply. "You know how dangerous they are; think of what happened before we discover the relay network, the Protoss were practically wiped out by them!"

"She's not dangerous Hannah; in fact, when we found her she was terrified of us." David smiled at her. "Just meet her; speak to her. You'll find she's not that alien."

"How powerful is she?"

"Very, what you just saw is her holding back; if she wanted to, she could easily gut Lt Jose and his men." David brought a hand and waved his fingers. "Clawed hands you see, very dangerous when the mood takes her."

"Only when I'm not told that the dummies cannot take it!" A blur moved past her and collided with David – she yelped in surprise, looking around in worry.

Only to see, to her great surprise – and joy – that the hybrid had seized David in a hug of all things.

"Anderson; I missed you!" The hybrid – Mia as David had called her was nearly shouting. "Where the hell have you been?!"

"On duty Mia, couldn't come see you and I only learnt earlier today that you're contactable now."

The hybrid pouted – actually fucking pouted. "They only told you today?"

"Yeah, but I've been very busy, so probably wouldn't have gotten the messages anyway."

She let him go from the hug and up close Hannah could see that her eyes were faintly glowing purple. The hair wasn't hair at all; it was tendrils; some of which were quite long and thick – about as thick as her wrist. Her face looked human, though she could see a few patches of clearly Zerg armour. And her hands had fucking claws!

It took her a moment to realise that the hybrid was staring at her to. "Who are you?" She tilted her head, some of the tendrils draped down over her shoulder.

"I-I'm Captain Shepard, XO of the SSV Kilimanjaro; it's nice to meet you." Damn, her voice was breaking.

The hybrid smiled, showing of slightly sharper looking than normal teeth. "I'm Mia Sal – no last name – science experiment." Her tone was friendly and her – clawed – hand extended.

Hannah paused, the claws put her off, but she took the hand anyway. It was different from a normal human, the armoured skin of her palm was rough to touch; but it didn't cut her or anything like she was expecting. The shake showed off the woman's strength; if the grip was much firmer she could've crushed her hand!

Which Mia appeared to have noticed. "Sorry! Still getting used to my strength. Karin tells me that I need to be careful, but I keep forgetting." The hybrid – the woman, she corrected herself – looked ashamed.

"It's okay. I'm sorry to; I'm a little freaked out…"

"Tell me about it! I'm keeping away from most people here so I don't freak them out; but to be honest, I'm kinda freaked out by humans sometimes." Mia had a grin on her face, a tendril was brushed away. "I don't mean any offence; it's just… difficult at times."

"Difficult; how so?" Hannah asked, as David moved to talk to the biotics; who didn't seem that worse for the beating they took.

"How much do you know about me?"

"Nothing at all; I only found out about you when I walked in."

"Oh, well, if you're with Anderson I guess its okay to tell you." Mia took a step back. "I was grown in a lab. I've been tortured; raped and experimented on for 16 years."

Hannah could not help the gasp and open-mouth expression she had for a moment. "Oh, fuck me…" She managed to gain control after a moment. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry."

"I killed all I could when I got free; some got away." Mia closed her eyes and looked down. "I know this as they told me; they have footage of some of them fleeing the station where I was kept."

"That's… that's horrible…"

"I think I must process things differently than humans; I feel the hurt that what I've been through caused me, but I have trouble understanding it." Her eyes opened, the glow had gotten brighter. "I hate them more than anything…"

"I understand why you would." Hannah glanced at Anderson. "How are you coping?"

"With what happened to me – not so well, better than before; I have potentially got a future now." A very weak smile had crept onto her features. "I'm still a little scared of humans though. I mean, I know that the ones did created me are not like every human out there; but it is hard at times to not think that way. Karin… Karin is like the mother I never had. She's in surgery at the moment; saving lives. Without her, I'd probably be an animal at best."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm mostly Zerg. I have urges that come from that side of me." The look of shame was back. "When I escaped I was badly hurt, my right leg was snapped in two. I was in so much pain that I resorted to instinct – Zerg instinct. I consumed some of the bodies."

"You consumed…" Hannah searched her knowledge of the Zerg, recalling something she'd been told, her face paled. "You ate them?"

Mia looked away and her voice had gone quiet. "I'm not proud of it. But I had no choice; it was either eat or die. I choose to live." She sniffed, clearly very upset. "I don't know why I'm telling you this…"

"Its okay; really, I cannot judge you. I have no idea what going through what you have is like. Besides, I'm sure having conflicting human and Zerg desires isn't the easiest thing to deal with." Hannah puts her hand on Mia's shoulder.

"Thanks." The hybrid's mouth jerks in a small smile. "And you're right, sometimes it is so confusing! Not to mention that I don't understand some things about humans either."

"Like what?"

"Its odd, but I don't get humour, for one thing. Jokes just go right over my head!"

Hannah cannot help the small chuckle. "That isn't that odd really, given you past."

Suddenly the intercom made them both jump. {Captain Shepard, please report to reception; Admiral Hackett has arrived to speak to you.}

"Damn it didn't even get to punch something like I came here for." Hannah muttered to herself; Mia frowns at her. "It's nothing, don't worry. Hopefully I'll speak to later."

"I would like that."

A/N: Okay, first part of the prologue finished! Another chapter will be posted as soon as I can get around to writing it. Currently working on the next chapter for my other story at the moment – whilst balancing ideas for the next part of this; making it a little hard on myself but I like the challenge!

All being well the next chapter of my other story should be up by the weekend, then I'll shift back to this for a while.

Thanks for all the support!