The cold light of Anadius bathed the Illusive Man's office, dashing off smooth metal and the polished buttons of his suit. Ribbons of smoke unfolded from his mouth, the cigarette little more than a stub pinched between two fingers. A fading firefly of light. A M la red supergiant, Anadius was dying the long, incremental death of a star. A gradual process that he was reminded of every time he looked out his window.
It was an easy thing for a small mind to believe that stars were something greater than humanity. Incomprehensible in their lifespans.
Anadius was his memento mori. They were both on timers. Anadius would eventually exhaust its supply of helium, then begin to burn carbon, until its core inevitably collapsed, and it would shake the very foundations of space around it in its passing. When his time ran out…
Well. He'd been given a duty that could only be put down when the death he'd been outrunning since he was a young man - too young to understand what had been taken from him that night - finally caught him. Some might have called his fate cruel. Railed against it. The man who'd once been Agent Jack Harper preferred to think of it as an opportunity. He'd been born on a world constricted by narrow minds and choked on its own filth, as humanity fought the only enemy it could find - itself. Jack Harper had wanted power and the purpose to give it meaning, but he hadn't understood.
The Illusive Man did.
Lattices of holographic light surrounded him, stacked with intel, progress reports from his half-dozen or so cells and the movements of important persons and weaponry throughout the galaxy. There was something going on in the Alliance's NAVCOMM - the place resembled a kicked anthill since roughly eight hours ago, but his informants had yet to ferret out the reason why yet. And now was a foolish time to push too hard. Hackett and Riley's little purge had been annoyingly effective. Enough that he'd considered having the N7 Major killed. But no, now was the time to melt into the shadows. The time would come for Cerberus to step forward and into the light, but not yet. Not yet.
Nothing Riley or Commander Shepard had destroyed was truly irreplaceable. And there were more important issues to attend to.
He flicked a report open with one finger. Operative Leng was leading a team in the edges of Hegemony space. They were still on track. Getting closer to their target - Camak Sol'cedah, a charismatic and violent Noble Caste batarian who was currently agitating for further raids on human border worlds. The Alliance is weak now, he'd been saying in recent months, spread too thin, ripe for the plucking.
Leng would kill him and, all going well, would frame one of his political enemies in the Noble Caste. Sol'cedah's bloody dreams of an ascendant Hegemony and the enslaving of human civilians would die with him. The Alliance admirals and generals would drink to his demise and go right back to calling Cerberus a terrorist organisation.
They had their own assassins, of course, in the N7 operatives, but they'd never used Leng to his potential when he'd been in the Unit. Cerberus provided Leng with purpose, an outlet for his impulses and a loose set of ROE. In return, Cerberus gained the precision of a stiletto knife. It was all the man was good for, but he knew it as well as the Illusive Man did.
The Illusive Man swiped, authorising Leng's request for further funds. The glass windows caught the cybernetic glimmer of his eyes.
The batarians were far from being the true enemy, but they were still a threat, and like all threats, required addressing.
A light began to pulse on one of his screens. He pulled on his cigarette and hit accept.
"Operative Lawson." He could have spared the expense of holoprojectors and simply relied on audio or regular screens, but he liked to see the faces and body language of his operatives. Particularly operatives as intelligent as Miranda Lawson. He'd cultivated her streak of ruthlessness personally, after all.
Lawson wasn't one to call him incessantly for directions.
"I received a report from our informant aboard the Normandy. I thought you should hear of it immediately."
"What is it?"
"Gustaf Nilsson reports that the SSV Normandy has been destroyed by an unknown enemy."
"And Shepard?" He tapped ash off the end of his cigarette. Shepard was no friend to Cerberus, but she was still important - there were still uses for her. She was an intelligent and dangerous woman, but her hatred blinded her.
Miranda frowned. She had yet to understand why Shepard was important. She saw an obstacle to be removed. "Nilsson says she's missing. She went back into a damaged part of the ship to search for a survivor. The Alliance believes she's dead - they've ceased search and rescue operations."
"They'll be back." The Alliance, for all its flaws, did usually attempt to retrieve all of its people, corpses or not. A sentimental policy he'd exploited once or twice.
General Williams had once sent a squad after Agents Harper, Core, and Hislop. A waste of men, in an already desperate fight. He could still remember the blood on the floor of that strange chamber deep beneath Shanxi's surface. The sudden, shocking pain - the feeling that his eyes were being eaten right out of his skull. The shaking of his hand when he'd put two bullets in his best friend's head.
The Illusive Man drew in another breath of smoke and then exhaled. "Get to the wreckage before the Alliance returns and retrieve Shepard's remains - as intact as possible. This is your only priority until Shepard is recovered."
Shepard was important. And in anything, there was opportunity.
When Commander Emilia Shepard had arrived on Lazarus Station, she'd been nothing more than a hunk of frozen meat on a sterile operating table, red arranged in the vague shape of a woman, white bone peeking through torn soft tissue. Shepard's skin had been burnt and scoured away, one arm torn off at the shoulder, one leg at the knee and the other at the ankle.
Jacob had looked at the body, visibly discomfited, and asked if it wasn't better if they just gave her back to her family in a box. For all his frustrations with the Alliance, there was a part of him that would always be entrenched in the Marine Corps' idea of honour. That saw Shepard as a fallen sister, who deserved the solemn rituals of military grief.
But there was a reason that the Illusive Man had put Miranda Lawson in charge of the Lazarus Project. She'd never had much time for sentimentalities and rites.
The Normandy's carcass had prevented Shepard's body being torn into a hundred pieces like many of the other crew, and her helmet had protected what was most important - the brain.
While the specialists had gotten to work, Miranda Lawson had pored over the volume of reports, evaluations and files the Illusive Man had forwarded to her. She needed to understand Emilia Shepard down to the bone. While Shepard's public persona had been of the charming, attractive and dutiful military officer, she'd been a flawed woman under the polish. Alcohol abuse, an arrest for a bar fight, an affair with an enlisted woman.
But the Illusive Man wanted Shepard back as she had been, flaws and all.
Miranda leant over the still figure in the table, watching the rise and fall of its chest. Felt the hum of deep satisfaction in her chest.
Shepard was as yet unfinished. Her insides were still protected by a lattice of 'skin weave' over which new skin was growing in, the raw edges gleaming a sullen orange-red and they'd yet to wake her up for the first tests, but the majority of the reconstruction was complete, and she was breathing independently.
To the medical personnel of Project Lazarus, Shepard was their greatest achievement. A victory over death itself. A crossing of a final frontier.
To the woman behind Miranda, Shepard was a ghost made flesh.
"How do you know she'll still be as she was?" Doctor Karin Chakwas' face was drawn, her mouth pinched at the corners. Her eyes stuck to that rise and fall. Inhale. Exhale. "Neurological damage is inevitable. The moment she asphyxiated, her brain would have begun to die. That's all any of us are - connections between neurons."
"We're doing everything we can, Doctor Chakwas. Neuron transplants for the damaged regions, nanobot technology. I have it under control." Miranda had done her best, and it wasn't arrogance to know that her best was exceptional. And the Illusive Man was very exacting in his requirements, refusing her very logical request for a control chip. Shepard had killed not a few Cerberus operatives - if she woke as herself, her first reaction would be violence. But he'd said that any person was a sum of their parts, and changing anything could have consequences they couldn't predict.
"That doesn't bring back what was lost. That can change a person, even without bringing clinical death into it." Chakwas was no neurologist, but she'd seen more than a few serious head injuries and their aftermath.
Miranda tilted her chin. "My projections are not merely wishful thinking, Doctor. Shepard will wake up, and as herself."
"We'll see," Chakwas said, but her eyes kept sliding back to the comatose figure. The reports said that she and Shepard had an amicable and respectful but not particularly close relationship. Shepard had bonded most tightly with her ground team. "Her tattoos and scars are gone."
Miranda waved a hand. "The severe damage to the dermis meant it was more efficient to simply replace the skin."
"She won't like that," Chakwas observed neutrally.
Miranda frowned slightly. "She can get new tattoos if she likes them so much."
Chakwas' mouth tightened further, but then she nodded. "You've made your point."
"You'll speak to Moreau?" That'd been Moreau's condition - that Chakwas see Shepard before they both signed on the proverbial dotted line.
"Good." Miranda turned back to Shepard. They still needed to finish the shoulder reconstruction.
"And Miranda?" There was a sudden steel to the doctor's voice.
Miranda paused, irritated by the delay. "What?"
"I want to see Shepard's medical files after the...project is complete."
"Fine," Miranda said dismissively. "You'll be her primary healthcare provider after all. Jacob will escort you back to the shuttle now."
By the time Karin Chakwas had left the room, she was long gone from Miranda Lawson's attention. There was only the Project.
Shepard felt for a pulse with bloodied fingers. The acid had eaten away the Marine's helmet and the side of her face, exposing sinew and bone. Like it was currently eating into Shepard's shoulder. Burning into her.
There was none. Her arm gave out and she collapsed next to the dead Marine, gasping. The rock beneath her shook and shuddered. She had to get back to Richardson. She could still save him. She could.
She grasped at the rock beneath her, feeling it scrape at her gloves. Had to get back.
She turned her head. The corpse looked back, white bone gleaming wetly through tattered flesh.
"Shepard," it said, "you need to wake up."
Above her was only a grey-white metal ceiling. Shepard ached down to the bone like someone had taken a baseball to every inch of her.
What the fuck.
She reached for her burning shoulder and found only the plastic-y material of a medical gown. The skin underneath felt raw, like it had just after they'd started growing in the a-skin, but when she pushed her hand underneath the material she could feel only smoothness. The pits and lumps of scar tissue were gone.
"What the fuck." Her head pounded and her face felt like it might split open at the slightest provocation.
I was on the Normandy. She wasn't now. Shepard knew every inch of her ship, even the places the crew liked to take naps and hide things in.
Something had happened. Something bad. She couldn't remember. Why couldn't she remember?
"Shepard, you need to get up. This facility is under attack." The voice was cool and accented Australian. She'd heard it before, in the midst of pain and incessant beeping. It hadn't felt real - like a dream.
Shepard could hear the muffled crackle of gunfire now - and she was mostly naked, alone and unarmed. Wonderful. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself up - and half fell off the medical bed, hitting the floor hard enough to bruise her knees.
She'd been out a while if she'd lost so much muscle mass. Gonna be a bitch to get that back.
If she didn't get shot first.
Shepard staggered to her feet, reaching for the back of her neck, her shoulders slumping for a moment in relief when she felt the smooth lump of an implant. Not quite unarmed, then.
"There's a security locker in the corridor outside - it should have a pistol in it."
What kind of hospital had pistols just lying around like that? Where were the staff, for that matter? This couldn't be a Navy hospital. Not enough Alliance symbols slapped on every conceivable surface.
Where was Ash?
Gun first, questions later. Survival always came first.
She yanked the security locker open hastily, with a glance over her shoulder at the doorways for threats. Pants, thank God. She dressed quickly, mechanically. Cargo pants, t-shirt, armoured vest over the top. Her side and shoulder screaming at her whenever she moved - and ignored. Heatsinks and the contents of a first aid pack shoved in any pocket she had. She took the shitty arse M-3 Predator from the rack and loaded it.
Better than nothing, and while she hated using a weapon she hadn't cared for herself, whoever was responsible for this locker knew their gun maintenance.
"There's mechs closing in on your location," warned the disembodied voice. "Left door."
Not a moment too soon. Shepard turned, blue light sheeting across her skin, as the door hissed open to the sound of mechanical, clomping steps. The cool, robotic voice of a LOKI mech requested she lay down her weapons.
Three mechs. LOKIs were dumber than a bag of rocks, but she was still outnumbered.
Shepard threw out a hand, smashing one of them into the other in a cascade of sparks and shrieking metal. A dismembered hand flopped to the ground at her feet with a metallic clank.
A bullet dashed off her barrier and then off the window - thick plastiglass, and what kind of hospital had windows rated for military grade weapons? - as she raised the M-3 smoothly and squeezed off two shots. They punched through the LOKI's head, reducing it to a sparking stump.
Shepard threw herself behind the corner just as the mech's self-destruct activated, shaking the corridor with a roar that rang in her ears. One day she was going to find whatever engineer at Hahne-Kedar had thought it was a good idea to make shitty combat mechs explode, and she was going to shove their heads up their arse.
She found herself leaning against the wall, heart pounding against her sternum like a drum. She'd never felt exhausted by a bit of moving, a bit of biotics. What the fuck was wrong with her?
"Shepard, we need to get you to the shuttles, take the-" The woman's voice crackled and was gone. As averse as she was to taking orders from the disembodied voice of a stranger, she was now apparently on her own, in a strange facility she didn't have the map for.
What now, Marine?
Always keep moving. One of the things that'd been drummed into her at the Villa, but she'd found it a decent life philosophy too. She'd keep moving so those mechs couldn't pin her down, until she found some schematics or a fucking info map.
Out of shape or not, she was still a N7.
Jacob Taylor wasn't quite sure how everything had surged out of control so quickly. One moment he'd been pumping iron in the station's small, claustrophobic gym, the next he'd been dashing for his pistol and armoured vest as his security guards were cut down one by one. Sure, they hadn't been exactly the cream of the crop field agents, but it was like the mechs had known where the security guards were posted and where they slept - and to cut them down first.
But that was ridiculous, right? LOKIs weren't exactly known for their tactical sense.
Had he gotten so fixated on controlling what came onto the station and what left it that he'd ignored the automated systems? No. No, he'd checked them regularly. Someone had to have done this - someone on the inside, who didn't want the Project completed.
Annoyingly effective automated systems, so far. He flinched as a hail of bullets cracked overhead, huddling behind a table repurposed as cover. Every time he popped his head up to try and fling a biotic field at the rust buckets he got a damn storm unloaded onto him.
This wasn't good. He hadn't been pinned down like this since Eden Prime, and that'd been the closest thing he could imagine to hell on earth.
He had to think. A round hissed close enough to light up his portable shield generator. General Tereshchenko had been fond of saying a Marine's greatest weapon was in their skull, but he was coming up short.
The door leading into the dining room hummed open and he hissed, sighting down his pistol - but it wasn't a mech that came charging through, dressed in the black fatigues of the security team, glowing brightly. He felt the figure throw out a powerful biotic field - strong enough that he felt it in his clenched teeth - smashing mechs off their feet and into walls.
They slid into cover beside him and he found himself gaping, his own biotic corona shorting out. Black curls in a messy bun, dark skin split across the jaw and cheekbones with a faint red glow, eyes burning a burnt orange. A corpse gone walking. "Shepard?"
"No time to chat," she replied. Her expression was calm - calculating, "Can you detonate?"
She just nodded and popped up, wrenching several mechs into the air, where they hung helplessly until Jacob hit them with a counteracting field. The resulting explosion tore through the LOKI ranks. Shepard smashed the survivors against the floor and wall until there was nothing left but scrap metal.
She'd been there all of ten seconds and the room was clear.
Shepard collapsed back against the table, clutching her side.
"You alright?" he asked, kneeling beside her.
She gritted her teeth and nodded. "Few aches is all. Name and rank."
The second sentence had a familiar snap of authority that reminded him of Major Izunami, and he felt his shoulders squaring subconsciously. "Security Chief Jacob Taylor, ma'am."
"Well, Taylor, I hope you know the way to the shuttles."
He nodded. "I do. And if I know Miranda, she'll be making her way there to."
She had to. A handful of mechs couldn't take down Miranda Lawson.
"Miranda..." She tilted her head. "The person in charge, I imagine? I think she was giving me directions."
"Yes, ma'am. She knows how to take care of herself."
Something flickered in Shepard's eyes like she didn't quite believe him. But she just nodded. "Lead the way."
"No questions?" he blinked.
She smiled slightly, with a hint of teeth, "I'll have plenty later - but questions are best saved for when we're not getting shot at."
"That's a philosophy I can get behind."
"C'mon, let's get moving."
Blood pulsed weakly in streams down his leg, leaving his uniform pants sodden and pooling on the floor. Wilson leaned heavily against the wall, panting, fingers taut around the pistol in his hand. Shit, shit, shit, that hurt. It hurt more than he could've believed, white heat searing up from the gunshot wound right up to his hip.
But the pain was worth it. He had to make it off this tin can alive if he wanted to spend the Shadowbroker's money. The mechs had likely killed Miranda, and Shepard was not at her best. The only real problem was Jacob. Good natured, trusting Jacob Taylor.
Right on cue, the door slid open.
"Over here!" he called hoarsely, through the burn. "The bastards got me in the leg."
Shepard stepped through, and he shivered despite himself. The cybernetic eyes were still glowing a dull orange-red - they hadn't finished implanting the overlay that Miranda had chosen for its close approximation of Shepard's natural eye colour. They studied him, impassive, then flicked to the door, the dead security guard on the floor with a bullet in his chest, then back to him.
"Taylor, watch the door. I'll patch him up." Shepard's voice wasn't demanding. It was expectant - like she knew she would be obeyed, no throwing her weight around needed.
She pulled a first aid kit out of one of her pockets and snapped a pair of gloves on. Her eyes didn't leave his wound. "I've heard your voice before. You were there when I woke up the first time."
He grimaced. "Yeah. I'm your damn neurosurgeon. Never thought you'd save my life. Guess we're even now."
"You're lucky, Doctor," she said mildly, holding him still as she stuffed the damn medigel into the wounds either side of his calf.
"Fuck! Lucky?" he demanded.
"You still have a lower leg." She pulled out a SAM splint roll from the kit and shaped it to his leg. From her calm, efficient movements, it was clear she'd done this before.
"You're a medic as well?"
"N School. Everyone had to know what they were doing." She secured it to his leg with wraps of bandage from the kit.
"What were you doing in here, anyway?" Jacob asked, glancing over his shoulder.
"I thought I could try and shut down the mechs. But whoever did this knew what they were doing - they've fried the whole system."
"A doctor and a tech?" Shepard asked mildly. When he looked at her, her expression was still maddeningly neutral.
"You're Bio Wing, not security. You shouldn't even have clearance for the mechs," Jacob frowned.
Damnit. "I got shot trying to fix this!"
Shepard raised a hand, cutting off Taylor's reply. "We can argue about whose fault this is later. Right now, we've got a platoon of mechs between us and the shuttles."
"We need to look for Miranda," Jacob insisted. Wilson would never understand how Miranda had gained such a straight shooter's loyalty like she had.
"She was over in D-Wing. That was crawling with mechs-" He'd made sure of that.
"A couple of mechs won't drop her. She's alive."
"Then where is she? She's either dead or a traitor."
Jacob bristled, but it was Shepard who spoke. "A traitor wouldn't have woken me up, gotten me a gun, and sent me in the right direction."
"She's not here. We need to look out for ourselves," he insisted.
Shepard laid a hand on Jacob's shoulder, ignoring Wilson completely. "We need to secure our exfil route first. If we're lucky, she'll be making her way there too. If not, we can hopefully use the shuttle's systems to contact her omnitool - and then I'll help you extract her. Good to go?"
Jacob nodded, expression firming. "Good to go, ma'am."
The Marine act was almost nauseating, Wilson decided. Like they were good little soldiers, instead of who they actually worked for. He wasn't an idiot. He knew what the boss man was capable of. He hadn't signed up for some noble crusade like Jacob seemed to think they all had - he'd signed up for the pay and because the woman standing in front of him was the greatest medical achievement in history. He'd been all aboard right up until he'd realised that Project Complete meant liquidation.
"Listen, Shepard..." Jacob began.
She turned back impatiently. "Yes?"
"If I tell you who we work for, will you trust me?"
Wilson blanched. Was Jacob really going to tell a woman who still considered herself an Alliance officer that they worked for Cerberus? The people she blamed for the deaths of her team back in '78? "I don't think now is the right time, Jacob."
"We're not going to get out of here if she's expecting a shot in the back."
We're not going to get out of here if Shepard decides to shoot us.
"This project - the one that helped you - it's funded by Cerberus."
"Cerberus." Shepard's voice was flat and without inflection, something very cold in her glowing eyes. Something that made the back of Wilson's neck prickle. Then, just as quickly, the look was gone, replaced with the same impassivity she'd shown since she'd appeared.
"The Alliance declared you Killed In Action. They gave up."
A flicker ran across her face. "The Alliance wouldn't leave someone behind."
"Well, they did, so..." Wilson shrugged. The look she shot him was downright venomous.
"You'll forgive me if I don't take a couple of terrorists on their word."
Jacob spread his hands. "Look, Shepard, I'm not asking you to take everything on faith. Once we get outta here, I'll get you to the Illusive Man. He'll explain it all."
After a moment, Shepard nodded sharply. "Alright. We need to get to those shuttles. Let's get you on your feet, Wilson."
He hissed out a pained breath as she heaved on his arm, helping him up. Any weight on his wounded leg sent shards of agony up into his hip, but he could walk. Slowly.
"We'll go to your pace, Wilson. Taylor, take point, and I'll take the six."
"Roger that," Taylor agreed. The logic was obvious - Jacob was in the best shape of them all, and he knew the way, but Wilson couldn't help but notice that their marching order meant Shepard would keep an eye on them both - and a gun, if need be.
Shepard kept them moving, despite her own heavy breathing and the agony in Wilson's leg. Any mechs they ran into were quickly dispatched with pistols and biotics - Shepard seemed very fond of smashing things.
Finally, finally, they came to the shuttle bay. Wilson hobbled to the door as quickly as he could, reaching to enter the code. "They're just through here-"
"Good." Shepard moved with sudden, ferocious violence. A blue wave slammed into Jacob's solid chest, tossing him into the wall with a harsh thump and pinning him there. And Wilson found himself looking down the wrong end of her pistol.
"Shepard," Jacob grunted, "you're making a mistake-"
"I am not going anywhere with Cerberus," she hissed, pulses of light running down her arms.
Then she froze, slapping a hand to her neck, confusion flashing across her face a moment before her knees buckled and she crumpled to the ground. The biotic field holding Jacob faded and he fell to his knees, gasping and rubbing at his ribs.
"What the...?" Wilson wondered out-loud.
Then behind the crates nearby, the air shimmered and resolved into the figure of a woman in a dark suit, the sleeve singed. Her boots clicked against the floor.
No. No, no, no. "Miranda? But you were-"
She raised her pistol and fired once. "Dead?"
As Eric Wilson lay on the ground, choking on his own blood, Miranda Lawson stepped around him and approached the unconscious Shepard, ignoring Jacob's protests.
"Enough, Jacob. Help me get her into the shuttle. Now."
Cerberus Dossier: Emilia Shepard:
To: The Illusive Man, Kelly Chambers, Miranda Lawson
From: Rasa Brooks
Subject: Shepard Dossier
Please find attached Shepard's dossier. If you require anything further or any clarification, please don't hesitate to ask.
Persons Of Interest/Dossiers/Emilia_Shepard
last updated 3/2/2185
Alves Shepard, Emilia Isabela: 2154; born in Melbourne Australia to then Royal Australian Air Force Pilot Officer Hannah Shepard and Isabel Alves. 2155; Hannah and Isabel Shepard join the newly fledged Systems Alliance military (1). 2157; Isabel Shepard KIA, Hannah Shepard POW during FCW (3). 2167; identified as biotic due to inutero exposure to Element Zero, Hannah Shepard refuses Conatix offer or L2 implantation (13). 2171; undergoes L3 implantation surgery, tutored by former asari commando Marisa T'Vera (17). 2172; enlists in Systems Alliance Marine Corps (18). 2174; completes Officer Candidate School training, commissioned as Second Lieutenant (20). 2176; leads off-duty platoon in defence of Planetary Defence Battery 23 during the Skyllian Blitz, marries Sub-Lieutenant Rita McCormick (22). 2177; promoted to First Lieutenant, undergoes N5 training, deploys to Anhur (23). 2178; awarded Star of Terra for Skyllian Blitz, MSOT 6 wiped out in Akuze incident, only survivor, transferred to logistical unit command (24). 2179; undergoes N7 training, lateral transfer to Navy (25). 2180, promoted to Staff Lieutenant (26). 2181; divorced from Rita MCCormick (27). 2182; promoted to Lieutenant Commander (28). 2183; promoted to Commander, designated as first human Spectre, hunted down Saren Arterius. 2184; declared KIA by SAN after destruction of SSV Normandy (29).
Length of Relationship: 2173-2174; thirteen months
Subject met Ana Rodriguez, a law student at Arcturus University, in 2173 while stationed at Arcturus Station. Subject corresponded regularly with Ms Rodriguez after being deployed, but ended relationship after returning from deployment due to infidelity.
Length of Relationship: 2175-2181; six years
Subject met Rita McCormick, a naval officer, in 2174 while they were stationed aboard the same vessel, the SSV Cairo. Shortly after the end of the subject's relationship with Ana Rodriguez, Rita and the subject became romantically involved. In 2176 they became engaged and they married in early 2177. By 2181 the marriage had broken down due to distance and subject's reluctance to seek reassignment from special operations duties, and Lieutenant Commander McCormick filed for divorce in 2182 after eighteen months of separation from the subject.
Length of Relationship: 2183; n/a (est. 6-12 months)
Subject met Ashley Williams, an enlisted Marine, in 2183 during the Battle of Constant. Williams was then transferred to subject's command. Length and nature of subject's relationship is not fully known; however, surveillance has ascertained they were involved by December 2183. Relationship appears to have been ongoing at time of subject's death.
Psychological Evaluation, Systems Alliance Navy
Doctor Marie Thullier, Systems Alliance Navy Medical Corps
Name: Shepard, Emilia
Date of Birth: 11 April 2154
Service Number: 5928-AC-2826
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Reason For Referral:
Continued monitoring of PTSD symptoms.
Identification: divorced with no children, 29-year-old Black Latina woman, lesbian, biotic, Special Forces officer.
Psychiatric History: Family - nothing relevant. Personal - hospitalised in 2178 following a mental health crisis, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after. After undergoing treatment, Emilia returned to duty.
Personal History: grew up a 'military brat,' highly transient childhood. One parent KIA during the First Contact War. Describes childhood as 'very loving' despite her mother being repeatedly deployed. Reports no real emotional stresses related to childhood and adolescence beyond expected feelings of grief and loss at losing a parent at such a young age.
Military History: enlisted into the Marine Corps at the age of eighteen, deploying to the outer colonies in 2173. Commissioned through officer candidate school in 2174. Completed N5 qualification is 2177 and N7 qualification in 2179. Lateral transfer to the Navy in 2179.
2176 - Illyria, Elysium. Emilia was on leave with the platoon she commanded and her fiancee when the Skyllian Blitz occurred. Eight members of her platoon were killed in action defending the colony.
2178 - Akuze. While on a recon patrol, Emilia's N5 Raider team and an accompanying infantry platoon were attacked by thresher maws. The rest of the Marines present were killed or died of their wounds.
2181 - divorce. Breakdown of her marriage with Rita.
Evaluation Behaviour: LCDR Emilia Shepard is a highly intelligent and outwardly confident woman, who easily established a rapport. While willing to engage in her treatment, she sometimes became somewhat defensive if her ongoing competency came up in conversation and attempted to project an unaffected demeanor. It is clear that she finds meaning and joy in her work and in her connections with fellow servicemembers, and is anxious at the thought of averse medical evaluations.
Summary: I do not recommend LTCDR Shepard for a medical evaluation board, as she is willing and able to both discharge her duties and cooperate with ongoing treatment and evaluation; medical discharge would likely have an adverse effect on her mental health. I recommend that LTCDR Shepard continue to follow her treatment regime and monitor herself for any worsening of symptoms.
A/N: I'm back (back again)! I'm still polishing up the inter-game years fic, but keep an eye out. I'm also considering whether to keep doing index chapters at the start of the longer fics, or whether to do a separate index with slang/definitions/ranks/characters/etc. Opinions welcomed.