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Underground Complex, Feros, Theseus System, Attican Beta Cluster, June 25, 2183

Commander Jane Catherine Shepard certainly hadn't expected for someone to have rigged a tunnel to collapse behind her.

The N7 got up to one knee as she shouldered her Elkoss Combine M8 Avenger Assault Rifle, taking a quick assessment of the situation she now found herself in. This whole mission had been a fuckwad shitstorm from the get-go. Geth attacking the colony of Zhu's Hope, the colonists' needing their emo shitclown tears wiped as water, power, and food had to be foraged for them, everyone acting like brain-dead zombies… it had been one moronic thing after another. She still couldn't believe that one ExoGeni middle management-type, the one with the weak sauce popgun threatening her, crying about corporate secrets and trying to order her around as if she weren't carrying grenades and military-grade weaponry. She didn't even bat an eyelash when she put a bullet in his head when… Ethan Jeong? Yeah, that was it, when that little rat fuck was about to gun down a mother and daughter following corporate order to tabula rasa the entire colony to save face for ExoGeni. That had been about the first and last thing that had gone right during the entire stay on this miserable shitball of a planet.

Oh yeah, it also featured a real nice sci-fi/horror creature known as a Thorian, supposedly down here somewhere.

"El-Tee, you read me?" Jane called up on her comms, her attention on the dark tunnel in front of her as she switched her visor's setting to infrared, changing the view from pitch black to white, black, and every possible shade of gray in existence. It wasn't the greatest of visor views, but it was better than stumbling around or getting light-blinding if she turned on her night vision and got hit with something bright.

"Copy, Commander." Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko replied through her earpiece, his tone worried. "We're five-by-five, ma'am, but the collapsed tunnel is blocking us from reaching you. Trying to assess how long it might take to dig through or tunnel through the debris."

"It was the work of a professional, it isn't happening anytime soon." Jane replied dryly, not even bothering to look at the collapse. Someone had gotten smart, and rigged the tunnel to blow up to separate her from the rest of her team. Divide-and-conquer. The N7 had a nasty suspicion that she was likely to meet one of that fucking spikes' little cronies. Unfortunately, it looked like this one possessed brains, and probably Special Forces training, to boot. "Find me another tunnel, and keep an eye out for booby traps and other potential collapses. I'm returning to mission." There was a squawk of protest on the comm from the Lieutenant, but Shepard ignored it by turning off the comm for the time being, relaying anything to a talk-to-text message field on her Aldrin Labs' Onyx Heavy Armors' Augmented Reality Overlay on the inner curve of her helmets' visor. She really didn't need the El-Tee's simpering knight act distracting her.

She was being hunted, and a slow smile broke across her face.

Finally, a challenge.

Jane Shepard had been raised by her father, her mother passing away when she was eight. Her father, Michael, was a hunter by trade, moving to Mindoir to take advantage of the colonial efforts there. He hadn't been interested in growing crops or raising livestock. No, Michael Shepard was at home out in the fields or in the vegetation, with a rifle in his hand and a scope in his eye. He had taken his daughter out with him on hunting trips as soon as he deemed her old enough to learn 'the family business' and Jane had loved it.

They didn't hunt prey; they hunted predators.

Mindoir had been a lush garden world whose landmass was two-thirds covered in thick deciduous forest. It was a more primal Earth, where megaflora and megafauna existed still. And like any ecosystem, there was a natural hierarchy, the circle of life where something ended up something else's dinner. When humanity moved onto the colony, it had quickly populated the plains and sloping hills, avoiding the wooded areas where massive beasts existed, more than strong enough to take down a man. Michael Shepard hunted those predators down to keep them from roaming into populated areas, trapping prey to use them as bait, taking an accurate shot with his custom-made Winchester Arms M84 Hunting Rifle, the weapon upgraded, modified, and lovingly maintained. Jane's father thrilled at the contest of taking on something more powerful than he, using skill and tactics to gain the upper hand.

Jane had been a very apt pupil.

She was being hunted, the N7 knew. That collapse had been to separate her from her team, to prevent reinforcements. She strongly doubted that there was another access, and if there was, Jane didn't doubt that one had rigged charges to collapse that avenue as well. Someone was after her; someone skilled, someone smart. After years of bloodying generic filth, pirate trash, and slaver scum, Shepard had gotten bored whacking the thugs of the galaxy. What she wanted was a contest, a challenge, someone worthy. A Blackwatch Commando, an Asari Huntress, one of those Terminus Warlords that ruled through fear and intimidation. Torfan had been a good match, several members of the Batarian's vaulted Special Intervention Unit members hosted in the slaver camp, and Shepard had personally gone after all seven of them, hoping to prove what she already knew; that she was the most lethal human in the galaxy. She was a mix of assault tactics, flanking maneuvers, sniping techniques, and pressure protocols, blending one form to the next to keep an enemy off-balance, to have them prepare for the wrong thing as she destroyed their chances before taking their lives. She was the predator of predators, and she thrilled at the thought of finding one like her.

Perhaps, just perhaps, she had found someone worthy.

Getting to her feet, Commander Jane Shepard (SAN, N7, OST) switched her M8 Avenger to her beloved M84, her fathers' rifle now in her hands. A knowing smile came to her face as she began to silently stalk down the tunnel, looking for her prey.

Boba Fett sat in his hide, a purchase he found along the outer wall of the cavern in which contained a very large creature that dangled in the center of the underground complex. The creature didn't interest him, and he didn't interest it. There was a silent mutual agreement of don't fuck with me, and I won't fuck with you between the two of them, and that suited the bounty hunter fine. Chances were, the thing that hung grotesquely in the middle of the cavern would become much more interesting when his quarry came out to play.

Boba was looking at the small viewer on his ultraviolet-skinned OmniTool, the skin selected so that it used no visible light, being able to see it with a high-gain filter in his helmets' viewer. He had placed several remote view tricorders to nullify any dead zones he couldn't see around, orienting them towards any possible avenues of approach. He had spent the past two hours rigging booby traps, planting trip wires, even going so far as to crafting a crude-but-effective rolling boulder trap rigged to a pressure plate made out of stone to hide it from any possible technology scans.

He was a hunter, and he had studied his prey.

Fett had been hired just over two weeks prior for a job that had certainly interested him. The client, a Council Agent of all people, had put a rather ridiculous bounty upon the head of a Human N7. Boba didn't care about the how or the why of it; that didn't interest him. The money really didn't interest him either; he only put a price to ward off fools, silly jobs, and to fund his need to stay on top of his game. The galaxy thought him a bounty hunter, but the truth of the matter was that he was a warrior in search of the ultimate game. He didn't waste his time with anonymous lackeys or Credit-a-dozen fools with cheap firearms and cheap dreams. What Boba wanted was an equal, a contest, like the gladiators of old. He didn't bother with game, beasts, creatures, or other lesser species. He wanted the most dangerous game; sapient creatures armed with tactics and intelligence, the kind of contest that was akin to a lethal chess match.

And Boba was a chessmaster.

The job intrigued him; he knew the name Commander Jane Shepard. A few years back, she had made herself known galaxy-wide by stomping on one of the largest slaver compounds in the galaxy, located on the moon of Torfan. She was an N7, Alliance Navy Special Force, trained in the Villa to be an unconventional warrior, the peak of human lethality. Fett had hired an information broker to get him as much information about Shepard as could be gotten, legally and illegally, and what Boba had received had convinced him that this job was worthy of him. Shepard had been selected to go to Villa Militar in Brazil as a Lieutenant (j.g.), and had done quite well for herself. Her fitness reports were excellent, her intelligence was well above average, and she had scored the highest possible score in the Tactical Insertion Phase of the N3 Course, defeating a obstacle course in which the N Candidate not only had to navigate a complex course involving a great deal of physical strength and endurance, but also while getting shot at with non-lethal rounds, forcing the candidate to succeed under fire. Boba paid good Credits to secure the video in which Shepard had received the record-holding time of twenty-seven minutes and thirty-four seconds, only being hit four times. Fett had to admit that he would be hard-pressed to achieve that time, even knowing what he would have gone through.

He studied her thoroughly; her service records, her commendations, even pictures of her with her father back when she lived on Mindoir, the daughter of a predator hunter.

Boba was looking forward to the contest.

He waited patiently at his perch, his rigged demolition charge that would bury the access tunnel to separate N7 from team a success. Fett had watched her, a leader who actually led a team, being the first in line in a stack, the first one through the door, at the front of every engagement. He would have said it was foolhardy save that Shepard had the skills to make that her strength. That quality drove those behind her to be better, to follow both herself and her example. During her time on Feros, Boba had monitored her actions, her decisions, and her style of fighting thanks to the tricorders he had set throughout the colony and the closed circuit monitoring system he had hacked into. Separating her from the rest would be easy. He admitted that his prey had collected herself a rather interesting team, not only in species but in tactics as well. The C-SEC cop was no slouch with a sniper rifle. While the old Krogan did the same thing every other Krogan did, lowering his cranial plate to charge and blasting things with an overclocked shotgun, he also possessed Biotics, making him a credible threat. The female soldier was nothing special to write about, though she was at least competent. The other human, the male one, was rather pathetic. The Asari and the Quarian were worse than useless, though had specialized skills that Boba saw as Shepard rounding out her team to cover any possible weaknesses with the addition of a Quarian hacker and Asari adapt. It showed a flexibility of mind to bring together such diversity and lead them forward. From the front.

Separating the leader from the rest of the pack had been simplicity itself.

Now it was time to see which one was the better.