It felt strange, falling back into action like this, and even stranger to be doing it alongside two agents brought forth from an alliance founded solely out of necessity-

-and an incredible amout of cybernetics and creds, she reminded herself. She still hadn't decided if that meant she was indebted to Cerberus and the Illusive Man or not.

And now is not the time to try to sort that out, a bullet whizzing by her head and zinging into her shields warned her.

She was pretty sure that shot had come from Archangel's direction.

They'd been there for a better part of an hour, he'd had to have noticed that they were shooting at the other guys-

-i.e. not him.

Which meant he was simply being an asshole. Which really kind of pissed her off- enough that she momentarily thought of abandoning this gone-to-shit mission and focusing on the next recruit.

"Not an option, Commander," Jacob answered looking slightly disturbed, "Not sure we'll make it outta' here alive even with his help."

Okay, so desertion was out and he had a point. There were mercs everywhere and they were all low on heat sinks. Luckily, her entire team had at least some biotic ability, including herself (and hadn't that been a surprise after waking), so even if it came down to it, they weren't defenseless. But not being defenseless wasn't the same as being able to make it out alive.

She glanced around the corner of the piece of equipment she'd been using as cover and was met by the ugly face of a vorcha with the barrel of its gun pointed right at her. She spat out a curse and brought her gun up knowing she wouldn't make it in time and her shields wouldn't protect her from such a close range. With all the defiance she could muster, she looked her enemy right in the eye, prepared to die (again) when his head ruptured, bits and pieces of it suddenly coating her armor. Jacob was beside her in an instant, looking entirely too pleased.

"Gotta' say this for him- the guy's got good timing." He flashed an impossibly white smile and raised his gun, dropping another vorcha before he was off again.

"Yeah, yeah," she grumbled. It wasn't as if she ungrateful- death by random vorcha wouldn't have been at the top of her list of ways to die a second time- but she got the sense there was some smugness behind the shot. Like whoever this guy was, was patting himself on the back.

All that from a single shot, eh? You alright Shepard? A voice that sounded suspiciously turian asked her. She frowned, feeling the familiar ache that accompanied thoughts of her old team- her old life. It was time to get out of this pisshole.

Once she'd set her mind to it, getting to Archangel had not really been that difficult. The mercs were well trained, but as soon as the orders started to fly, the mercs started to die and their progress was swift.

They found the area where Archangel had been holed up and with guns raised, they entered. He was turned away from them, sniper rifle in hand, lining up another shot.

"Archangel?" her voice was louder than she intended and didn't quite disguise the annoyance she felt.

He held up his hand, signaling for them to wait. She took a step to the right to get a better look just in time to watch another merc fall. She quirked an eyebrow, determined not to be impressed.

Using his rifle to support most of his weight, he finally got up and walked toward her, his gait sluggish, heavy with fatigue. It was easy to see he was running on empty and there were still too many mercs for him to handle alone.

She scoffed, tactical genius, they'd said.

Before she could carry that line of thought any further, he took off his helmet.

For one breathless moment her world was shattered with the impossibility of what she was seeing. It just…it couldn't be. She must still be dead or lying back on Miranda's table in the lab, coming down from drug-induced trip. That had to be it. He was-


-exhausted, nearly to the point of collapsing and he was-

"I thought you were dead."