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Eternal Lids Apart

By MaggieWilde

Action / Scifi

Prologue

They did it. Another job completed. That had been several hours ago. They'd lost a couple of squad mates. No time for feelings, the job had to be done. So it was. She'd been called ruthless once. She had disagreed, but once an image had been perpetuated it was hard to forget. Now, continuing jobs followed. A web of intrigue, and she'd managed to piss off a few people in the meantime. Commander Shepard slumped down in her quarters, on the bed, unable to regain herself for several moments.

Silence ensued. A general humming in the background. The slow beat of her heart. Nothing else, not even a vibration from the ship could be heard. She hadn't paid much attention to her quarters when she first arrived. She'd only seen the plush white sheets of the bed and dived into them. Her eyes had idly drifted around the cabin, at the expense of it all.

Even now, after several months, she was still unable to realise it had been two years since she'd been conscious. She shuddered to think of how much they had paid out for her. She was a living proof of the money they'd spent, bringing her back from the dead. The so-called Lazarus Project. Four billion credits, she once heard on a data log. She was still unable to understand how they even brought her back to life. Surely, she thought at the time, if I died from asphyxiation, I would've induced irreversible brain damage. The light caught on the edges of the furniture, catching her eye. Everything was shiny, brand new, and significantly better than the last.

She wasn't so shiny, she mused. The only personal effects were her old, battered N7 helmet. No photographs. No models. No decorations. On a whim she bought a hamster, which drew a funny look from Miranda. She was given standard navy issue toiletries before, but Cerberus really had gone all out. They'd given her a hairbrush this time, not a flimsy plastic comb that usually broke in two days. Not that she brushed her hair very much. And the shampoo was a little improved this time, not small airtight packages you had to make last for a good month. There was even a pull out mirror in the bathroom. She almost expected to find a bath in there, but her hopes were above the bar on that one.

She had never experienced such privileges. She didn't like it. It felt unfamiliar. The relatively large reputation she'd created by the events of Skyllian Blitz, as well as the previous events two years ago had always made her feel curiously awkward. A hero, a revered celebrity, drawing out the admirers. And the creeps. Unease filled the pit of stomach through the entire mission. She had heard nothing good, in her opinion, about the organisation Cerberus. They had rebuilt her. Was she grateful? She wasn't really sure. She'd never thanked Miranda as such.

She might be the Commander on the SR-2, but ultimately she had the Illusive Man to answer to. That hadn't gone down very well at first. She'd been ruder than she thought she was capable of being. Shepard sometimes she wondered if she had been too paranoid. Occasionally in the past she had been called paranoid. Jacob and Miranda hadn't trusted her at the beginning, and Miranda failed to do so at the end.

She walked towards the bathroom, aware she needed to see Chakwas, and then open the comm link on her private terminal to speak to Alliance back on Earth. She was trying not to think about that. Her body, leaner and more agile than it had been before, now felt sore and weary. She slowly walked to the bathroom. They had some time. First the Citadel. She hoped she wouldn't immediately be detained. And from there, she presumed it was Earth. Shepard was somewhat afraid to look at herself in the mirror. She hadn't done since she'd woken up – at least five months ago. Her stomach clenched in fear. Perhaps they'd covered up that scar she had since she was sixteen on her right cheek?

What about that wonky tooth at the back of her jaw? That had been bugging her for a while. Why hadn't they done anything about that? Or those annoying moles dotted all over her neck and shoulders? She smiled to herself, amused. When she'd mustered up enough courage, her face was no different. Hair was no different either. However she had been granted an entirely new kind of scar, her previous one was only a white thin line that graced the skin on her right cheek, just under her eye. She was glad to be rid of it, but this new one she intensely disliked. It was more like a crack, where an orangey hue of light sat beneath it. She pressed her fingers against it tentatively.

Still unhealed. Chakwas had warned her about it, that she had to be compassionate. It had worsened a little since the start, spread to her other cheek. Hideous, echoed a small voice at the back of her head. And her eyes seemed to take on a brown-red hue. It could be worse, she told herself. Miranda could've implanted a control chip in your brain. She had enough gazing at her rather tired-looking appearance, glancing at the bed when she walked back out of the bathroom. Her blood was still pumping furiously. She couldn't sit still. The silence made her feel restless. She wanted to get back out there.

Shepard hadn't the patience to listen to the Alliance or the Council. In the end she managed to kick her boots off and flop down on the surprisingly comfy bed. Her eyes closed. All she could see was that human reaper. The Illusive Man's angered voice danced and echoed round her head, although that gave her glee. Slowly, the images and sounds faded. Fatigue slowly overtook her, deep and satisfying. For the first time she realised just how comfy the bed really was. The silence now encased her.

It was a good ten minutes when an enormous, sudden reverberation ran throughout the ship. It rattled the metal hull violently. It lasted for a good minute. The vibration juddered the ship, knocking crewmembers to the floor. Everything creaked in a way it shouldn't have done. Shepard didn't wake up, despite the fact she was an incredibly light sleeper. Even the sound of debris and small particles of broken up asteroid bouncing loudly along the hull of the ship didn't cause a flinch or flutter of the eye.

It was only the sound of Joker's voice over the intercom, the same desperation she had heard from him two years ago when the Normandy SR-1 was under attack that forced her to fling herself up and out of the bed. "Commander…You're gonna…You're gonna have to see this. We are in trouble." Just another round, another day on the job.

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