AN: Thank you everyone for your patience! I hope you enjoy this chapter. Also, I think this website is falling apart at the seams a little, so if it ever goes down, this fic is also simultaneously published to ao3 under the same name. Hope you have a lovely day!


They found Jacob, Sidonis and Vortash gathered around a table covered in scattered weaponry.

"What do you mean this one doesn't use an ammo block?" he was asking. He was delicately holding an antique looking weapon, keeping it pointed at the wall.

"Old school individual bullets," Vortash said, sounding weirdly proud. "Modern shields don't calibrate for larger slugs, so if you really want to mess someone up, break through their armor and get them in the head with one of these. Works like a charm."

"You still need a modern thermal weapon to wear down their armor or deal with biotics," Sidonis said with the cadence of repeating an old argument.

"Sidonis," Garrus interrupted.

All three turned. "Hey, boss," Sidonis greeted. "We're just showing Jacob around; he's got a good eye for this kind of thing. Won't let us steal him, though."

"Shepard has a mission I can't abandon," he said. "Right, Commander?"

Jane returned his grin, even though she didn't really feel it. "Right on, Jacob." She trailed off, looking at Garrus. "C'mon."

Garrus sighed, a birdlike noise that seemed to ripple through his body. "Sidonis... have you been talking to the Blue Suns?"

Sidonis froze, mandibles clenched tight. "How dare you?" He took a step closer to Garrus. "After everything we've been-"

"Just answer the question!" Garrus shouted. "You know if they get any idea of where we are they could massacre us!"

"It's an insulting question," Sidonis said. He glowered at Jane. "She's poisoning you against us, Garrus. Trying to steal you away after your work's just starting."

"I don't want to steal anything," Jane said. She couldn't let this come to blows. Sidonis's death would devastate Garrus, and she couldn't have that. "Or anyone. I just want to help you with your mission. This isn't just rumor, Sidonis, I have omnitool records."

Sidonis glanced between the four of them, and bolted.

Before Jane could summon her biotics to hold him, Vortash and Jacob's hands both glowed blue, and the turian was slammed against the wall in a mix of dark and light blue light.

"I trusted you!" Garrus bellowed. Jane had never seen him this angry. "What did they offer you? Money? I'm sorry I haven't paid you enough to stand by your ideas, then. Spirits, I-"

"Jane," Nox broke into Jane's thoughts. "Break his omnitool."

"Why?" She asked the question out loud. It applied to Sidonis too, after all.

"It's transmitting; no location data, somehow, but possibly audio. I think there's someone listening to him."

A controlled burst of her new purplish biotics made the omnitool fizz out and snap open, though it still floated near Sidonis, caught as it was in Vortash and Jacob's warp.

"You've damned them," Sidonis said weakly, all the fight drained out of his voice. "Spirits below and above and all around you've damned my family."

"Oh," Garrus said. "That's what they have on you, isn't it."

"I don't know where they are!" Sidonis's voice was verging on hysteric. He wasn't resisting the warp anymore. Vortash, a strange expression on her face, lowered her hands, and with a quick confused glance Jacob followed suit. "My daughter, Garrus, my son, they took them, they'll hurt them, please..."

"We can find them," Jane said, trying to sound soothing. "Who was your contact?"

If they could find him, Jane could beat the shit out of him and steal his omnitool. Not the most elegant way of getting information, perhaps, but certainly effective.

"A batarian named Gresh." The turian's voice was completely flat. "If you do anything they'll kill my family. They might kill them anyway now that I've cut contact."

I need to look through his omnitool Nox whispered..

"We can repair your omnitool," Jane said. "Couldn't think of a faster way of cutting the connection. Sorry."

"Could've overloaded it," Jacob said, sounding thoughtful. "Force it into a boot loop of some kind, maybe, not give the bug enough power to run itself. Would have the same effect. Where was the last place you saw Gresh?"

"The Grotto," Sidonus said, miserably. "It's where you go if Afterlife's too classy for you."

Jacob groaned. "Oh, great."

Jane had heard of the Grotto years ago in one of the endless lectures she endured during basic training that amounted to little more than "We know the Terminus Systems sound cool. If you go there, you will die." The Grotto was the kind of place where people Aria disapproved out hung out, which made them even more dangerous than the average.

"If Aria catches you there she will likely kill you," Liara said.

"I already don't like her," Garrus growled. "What's another reason?"

"The Normandy is docked in her territory," Jane said. "And I don't want to fight an asari matriarch just to get back to the ship."

"...point taken." Garrus took a step closer to Sidonus. "We need to go now, don't we?"

The other turian nodded. "I'm sorry, Boss," he said.

Garrus grunted. "It could have gone much worse. Now come on, we have some mercs to take out."

The Omega Space Station was significantly older than most other usable artificial structures in the Milky Way that were not the relays or the Citadel. Jane knew that, but nothing quite confirmed that fact like the miles and miles of dully pulsating access corridor that looked like nothing she had ever seen anywhere else. Even the Citadel, with its bizarre, unknowable internal structure, did not give off such a feeling of sheer age as these halls did.

"Is it just me or is the gravity in here weird?" Butler asked. They'd brought along most of the rest of Garrus's crew as backup, leaving Weaver behind as overwatch.

Jane found Butler fascinating. Part of it was that unlike all the other species represented in the Archangel group, Jane had only ever met one other Quarian, and Tali and Butler were as different from each other as an Earth night from a Venutian day. Part of it was that Butler had taken an English word for a name, and wore a vastly different style of cleansuit to her fellows, one that was significantly less skin tight.

Jane had yet to ask her about it, but it was hard not to wonder.

"It's not just you," Krull said. "I know this is a shortcut, but I have the feeling things are a little unstable out here."

Nox had helpfully put a waypoint on Jane's HUD pointing in the general direction of the Grotto, but to those who didn't know about him, Jane realized she was just giving off the impression of having a strong sense of direction. "We're far from the station's core, whatever generates the gravitational effect might be a little wonkier."

"Good thing we won't be in here long, then," Jacob said. "This whole place just creeps me out."

According to Sidonus and Garrus, these corridors were almost completely unwatched, meaning that they could make their way to the Grotto without Aria's immediate notice. The reason why was clear: they were creepy, and they were without any sort of breathable atmosphere. Whatever made Omega livable stopped here.

The access door leading out deposited them into gray halls made surreal by clearly ancient noble gas lights.

"You're going to have to lead us there," Jane told Sidonus. He nodded, a hand going up to his mandibles for a moment. "Stay with me."

He nodded. "Just... need a moment."

Jane was reminded of the time she'd been ambushed in Chora's Den. Just like back then, the place was deserted, and she had the distinct sense that she'd be seeing the red of enemy heat signatures on her HUD soon.

"Do you think they know we're coming?" she asked.

"Dunno," Sidonis said. "This place is just like this."

Unlike Afterlife, there was no firm but ultimately well-meaning elcor to block their way. Instead, a burly turian wearing eye-gougingly bright purple armor and equally intense makeup crossed her arms and said, "You smell like Aria."

Jane did not want to think about what Aria might smell like. "We're here to collect a bounty," Sidonus said. This part was the gamble. "We have Jane Shepard in our custody."

Jane offered her hastily cuffed hands, trying to seem suitably caught. She had the sneaking itch that she could kill everyone in the bar with her hands still tied, but hopefully things wouldn't come to that. Figuring out the limits to her powers was something she needed to do in a controlled environment, not on an ancient space station where a stray blast might bust a hole in a bulkhead.

"Interesting." She stepped aside. "Don't try anything funny." Her expression was completely unreadable. Jane would just have to hope that their ruse had worked. It wasn't a very good one, but she had gotten away with worse.

The first thing Jane noticed about the Grotto was that everyone was heavily, visibly armed, the ceiling was full of bullet holes, and there were no dancers. This seemed to be less a place for recreation, and more a place to drink terrible alcohol in relative darkness surrounded by other people banished to the outskirts of Omega society.

A krogan approached them. "Jane Shepard, aye? Heard she was dead."

"I'm not so easy to take out," Jane said. That was bravado she did not have to fake. "You wanna give it a try?"

The krogan grunted and shook her head. "I'm not giving you a reason to get out of those cuffs," she said. She narrowed her eyes at the group. "It take this many people to take you out?"

"Yep," Jane said. "Didn't expect the last wave, you know how it is."

She grunted again. "Impressive. You're here to see Gresh, then."

"How did you know?" Jacob asked. He managed to play it off as hostile, instead of surprised or oblivious. More steel in him than most ex-Alliance people, then.

"No one else to see here," the krogan said. "Gresh'll have their heads if they try to poach such a... prize."

"Didn't know I was so valuable," Jane said.

The krogan snorted. "You have no idea." She pointed her gun towards a cluster of booths. "You all sit there. Gresh'll ask for you, you go in, you hand over the lady, no funny business, and then you get the fuck out of here. Those of us out here prefer to be left alone."

"I can see that," Jane said, hoping she sounded suitably impressed. She was still playing prisoner, but that didn't mean she couldn't banter. She had the feeling that out here that sort of thing was expected. "What's with the corridors? It was like they were... breathing."

The krogan's eyes widened. "You see it too?"

Jane nodded. "Do you know what's up with that?"

A krogan trying to be subtle was always a fascinating experience. The guard crouched slightly, and in a harsh whisper, said, "Gresh thinks I'm seeing things."

Gresh was an idiot, apparently. The Citadel was maintained by unspeaking, unreactive creatures that had been there for so long none of the current species that lived on it knew where they came from. Why should the Omega station be any different, especially given its history was much more shadowed and difficult to piece together.

"I don't," Jane said. "If I make it out of this, you can help us figure out what's going on, okay?"

The krogan nodded. "I'll see what I can do. Now sit," she grunted in a louder voice, gesturing with her gun again. She really did not need to do that to be physically intimidating, but it was probably a habit from being among gangsters.

Gresh, it turned out, was the kind of guy to make someone wait as a kind of power play. It might have worked, if Jane felt she could be afraid of regular mooks with their guns anymore, but the 'Light' now suffusing her body made her strong in ways she still didn't entirely understand. If she died, it'd be an awkward way to reveal Nox's existence, but she had the feeling that Guardians were made for threats much bigger than mundane bullets.

"Gresh will see you now." The turian had returned, as unhappy looking as ever.

The krogan did something with her face that Jane was half-sure was a wink. "Don't make any trouble."

"We'll make sure she won't," Sidonus said. His fake confidence was much more convincing than Jane's, that's for sure. Or maybe he was planning on betraying her.

She hoped not. Garrus would be crushed, and there was something about him now that made her more protective than she had been before she'd died.

The doors hissed open to reveal a single batarian surrounded by bored looking asari maidens, all dressed in the bare minimum of clothing possible before they stopped counting as being dressed. Jane rolled her eyes, glad for the helmet. She was glad, also, that Liara wasn't here. She'd be horrified.

"So," Gresh said. "Jane Shepard. You're supposed to be dead."

"People keep saying that," Jane said. "I don't know what they mean." She flexed her hands in the cuffs.

"You're worth a pretty penny," Gresh said. "If I sell you, I can move out of this dump, probably even buy my own third rate planet deeper in the Terminus Systems." His gaze moved between her various 'guards.' "I can't be having competition, can I?" He smirked unpleasantly at Sidonus. "This might even net you your family back."

If Jane hadn't been cuffed, maybe she could have reached for the turian before he freaked out. Instead, she, and everyone else in the room, saw something snap in his face. In a moment, he was across the room, and his hand was wrapped tightly around Gresh's neck.

"Guards!" the mob boss croaked. "Guards!"

Jane closed her eyes to concentrate. In a flash of light, the cuffs snapped off her wrists.

It was time.


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