Mass Effect: Incarceration
Author’s Note: The following is my entry for the FemShep.com “Mass Effect: Incarceration” fanfic contest. It stars my Renegade FemShep, Kendra Shepard. She is a Colonist, Ruthless, Vanguard. She romanced Kaidan in ME1 and remained faithful in ME2. Yeah, it surprised the hell out of me, too. For the record, she resumed the romance with him in ME3.
This is my first ever “published” work. As such, I’m sure it has many amateurish mistakes. I tried my best to make it “not suck”, but ultimately, I am not the judge of that. You, the person reading this, are.
So, with all that out of the way, on to the story!
Kendra Shepard sat at her desk and stared at the datapad in her hand. She had read it three times, but the words still had not yet fully registered. She had been here only three weeks, confined to these quarters. They contained a large bed, a full bathroom and a desk. She suspected these were VIP quarters, quickly converted for her confinement. She supposed she was lucky to not be in the brig.
Shepard put the datapad on her desk and then rubbed her eyes. He still hadn’t he come to see her. Or at least made the attempt, as far as she knew. Perhaps he was still angry with her. She had finally replied to his letter about Horizon, but perhaps it was too little too late. She never had been one to dwell on things and was not about to start now. If he was not interested in seeing her, fine. She told herself she didn’t need him. Perhaps one day she would believe herself.
Shepard picked up the datapad again, trying to make the words register.
TO: Kendra Shepard
FROM: ADM. David Anderson
It has come to my attention that you have been practicing your biotics in your room. While I appreciate your desire to remain in shape, this is having a negative impact on the structural integrity of the building.
Until further notice, please refrain from using any biotics while inside any and all Alliance buildings.
If you have any questions, you can have your guard forward them to my office.
Admiral David Anderson
Shepard pushed the datapad away from her in disgust. It slid across the desk and onto the floor. She put her head into her hands and sighed.
She heard a voice coming from her earpiece. “Shepard.”
Shepard looked up and then started to move her hand to her right ear.
“No, don’t touch your radio. You can’t let on to anyone that you can hear me,” the voice said. Shepard put her hand back on her desk.
“Can I talk?” Shepard asked, and then realized just how stupid that sounded as soon as she said it.
“Yes, that will be fine,” the voice responded, not commenting on her question. “The Alliance didn’t plant listening devices in your room. Just cameras. And don’t worry about them listening in. As far as they know, you are listening to old American country music.”
Shepard chuckled. “You used my special playlist, I assume?”
“Of course, Shepard. I took every precaution.”
“I take it this isn’t just a social call, Liara?” Shepard asked.
“No, I am sorry. I just have been so busy lately. I meant to contact you earlier to find out how you were doing, but the data collecting has been so time-consuming, even with the VI’s help...”
“Liara....,” Shepard said impatiently.
“Oh, right,” Liara said. “Something came across my desk this morning that I thought you should know about. Someone has ordered a hit on your life.”
Shepard laughed. “Liara, if you contacted me every time that happened, you would have no time for anything else.”
“This is different,” Liara responded. “The name on the order is someone you know.”
“Oh?” Shepard was intrigued now.
Shepard started pacing. “Well then, thanks for the heads up, Liara. I’ll keep a lookout. Though, anyone wanting to get to me is going to have to get deep into Alliance HQ. Lots of personnel here. Was there anything else?”
Liara hesitated before answering. Should she tell Shepard? It’s not like it was something that threatened the galaxy. But, she wasn’t sure if she should say anything. “I... Shepard, you’re about to get a visitor. I should go.” And with that, she closed the connection.
“Roger that,” Shepard replied just before James walked into the room. Shepard turned around to face him. They greeted each other exactly the same as they had every day since she first arrived.
“Commander,” James said while saluting.
“You’re not supposed to call me that anymore, James.”
“Not supposed to salute you, either.”
Shepard smirked. “Is that going to be our opening conversation every morning?”
James chuckled. “Only if you keep reminding me of it, yeah.”
Shepard crossed her arms. “So, what is it this time? Am I pacing too loudly?”
James didn’t respond. Instead he said, “Your request has been approved,” he said as he offered her a datapad. She uncrossed her arms and took it from him.
“Approved?” Shepard looked incredulous at him and then she looked at the pad. “Approved,” she said, softly.
James turned sideways and extended his arm out of the door. “I’m here to escort you.”
“About damn time. Let’s go,” she said as she followed him out of the room.
“Request denied,” he said while looking out the bay window of his office.
“Don’t pretend you didn’t hear me, Major. Request denied. I won’t repeat myself again.”
“But... why?” Kaidan asked, still standing at attention.
“You know damn well why. She’s not allowed any visitors.” Anderson turned around to look at him. “From you especially.”
“Me?” Kaidan raised an eyebrow. “I don’t understand.”
Anderson pinched his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Major, you can stop pretending. I know all about it.”
Kaidan raised an eyebrow. “You... you do?”
“Yes. And no ch… at ease, Major,” Anderson said, as if he had finally noticed Kaidan standing there.
Kaidan relaxed and put his arms behind his back.
“As I was saying, there will be no charges brought. At least, not against you. As for Shepard, she has much bigger problems right now. I will not have you adding to them. Am I clear, Major?”
Kaidan turned and left the room and then left the building. He kept walking, not exactly sure where he should go.
Several weeks later...
Shepard looked at herself in the mirror. Her deep blue eyes looked back at her. Her shoulder-length black hair was tucked behind her ears. She ran her fingers of her left hand down her left cheek, rubbing over her scars. It seemed that Dr. Chakwas was correct. During her confinement Shepard had little opportunity for aggressive actions and her facial scars were fading. Even the reddish tint of her eyes was dimming. She wasn’t sure if she should be happy at this prospect or disappointed. Ever since the Lazarus project, she thought the scars were her penance for the things she’s done in her life. If they were fading, does that mean she has paid enough? She shook her head. She hated philosophy while in school and hated it more in practice. She shut off the light and walked out of the bathroom.
Shepard began stretching. She was wearing white running shoes, black sweat pants and a dark blue tank top over a sports bra. A small N7 logo was attached to the upper left of her top. A black sweat jacket with a hood was tied by the arms around her waist. Three days a week, she was told. She got to pick the days. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, she finally decided on. Today was Thursday. She heard Liara’s soft voice from her earpiece. She had gotten used to not touching her radio whenever Liara called her.
“Shepard. I got word that today’s the day. Be on your guard.”
“I will, Liara,” Shepard said as she continued with her stretches.
“Good luck, Shepard.” Liara hesitated again before closing the connection.
“Liara, I... I just wanted to say thanks. I appreciate all you have done for me. I know I’m not the best at expressing this.”
Liara laughed. “That’s an understatement. Usually you have the charm of a charging Krogan.”
“Only less subtle.” They both laughed at that.
“I like this change in you. The ‘softer and gentler’ Shepard,” Liara said.
“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it, blue lady. It probably won’t last,” Shepard replied.
“Knowing you, explosions will be involved.”
“Only if we’re lucky,” Shepard said and laughed.
“Well, your visitor is arriving. I will talk to you later,” Liara said and quickly closed the connection.
Shepard stood up just as James walked into the room. He arrived at precisely at eight-thirty am. The same as he had done every day. They greeted each other exactly the same as they had before. He then escorted her out of the room and onto the roof of the adjoining building.
Every time she stepped onto the field, Shepard shook her head and chuckled to herself. She didn’t understand why someone would bother to build a full running track, complete with a grass field, on top of a building. But, she didn’t care. She got to run. She walked onto the track and picked the second lane, the lane she always selected. First, she walked, then jogged and then eventually a full run. As she ran, she glanced at the crates setup in various locations on the field. Practice targets for her charge. And that new technique she had developed. Although she didn’t see it, James always jumped a little when she used it.
James took his customary seat in the stands, the third row from the bottom, and watched as Shepard ran. He could see the whole field from this point. He crossed his arms. As far as guard duty went, this was one of the easiest he had ever had. Shepard hardly ever complained and almost never was belligerent. The exact opposite of everything he had ever heard about her. Anderson had told him that she voluntarily turned herself over to the Alliance and he didn’t believe it at first. Now he was certain that she was here for a reason. She was waiting for something. But, he wasn’t quite sure what.
His reverie was broken by an Alliance soldier standing in front of him. “Lieutenant? Have something for you.” The man handed James a datapad and he looked at it. Lots of data and information scrolled past.
“You sure this is for me?” James asked.
“I was told to give it to a Lieutenant James Vega. That’s you, right?”
“Yeah, that’s me... but, this is all Greek. Whoever gave this to you obviously doesn’t know me.”
“I was just following orders, sir,” the man said as he saluted and then left. James studied the datapad for a while, trying to make sense of it, and then looked at the track. His entire face fell. He didn’t see Shepard. She wasn’t running. She wasn’t charging the crates. Shepard was gone!
Shepard tried to remember the things her old track coach on Mindoir had taught her. When she bothered to attend high school, that is. Don’t focus on the end. Focus on your steps. Find your rhythm. And breathe. Don’t forget to breathe. She had lost count of her laps. But, they didn’t matter to her anyways. She just ran until James told her that her time was up. She was so focused on her running that she didn’t see the soldier until he had a gun in her face. She literally stopped in her tracks. She was about to charge when she heard a voice to her side.
“Don’t even try it, bitch.”
She looked over and saw two more soldiers with guns pointed directly at her. All of them were wearing full Alliance armor, complete with helmets.
“Dammit,” she muttered to herself.
“Follow us, and no funny business or else your boy-toy gets it.”
She looked over and saw James talking with yet another Alliance soldier, wearing the same armor. She sighed and started to follow them. She would play their game. For now.
They lead her through the crates to a small clearing with a manhole. Two more soldiers were there, for a total of five in the group. As the soldiers saw them approach, one of them opened the cover. The second entered into it and climbed down the ladder. The first then motioned her to follow. When Shepard reached the bottom, the soldier there motioned her to the wall, his assault rifle trained on her the whole time. The other soldiers climbed down the ladder and joined them.
“Follow us,” the same soldier that spoke to her before said. He had his troops form a star formation with Shepard in the middle. He and another soldier at the front. One soldier was at the rear. They lead her down the dimly lit long hallway.
Shepard appraised her captors. Definitely not Alliance, she thought to herself. The armor looked very worn, old and badly in need of repairs. She didn’t notice it at first, but she saw it plainly now. The armor was no longer standard issue. These mercenaries must have gotten it second or even third hand. Plus the guns were also not standard issue. She recognized one of them as illegal in Alliance space. But, the mercs were well-trained. That much was certain. They were not just going to get sloppy and give her the opening she would need. She would have to create her own.
“Dammit! Dammit!!” James said as he leapt from the stands onto the track and ran through the crates, searching. He didn’t quite know what he was looking for, but he had to find something. The only exit from the roof was by the stands where he was sitting and he didn’t see or hear a shuttle, so she had to have left via other means. He slowed his pace as he realized he would miss something. He looked for well over five minutes before he found it. The manhole cover. James pulled it open and then climbed down the ladder. He reached the bottom and saw a very long hallway, lit by low wattage lights at irregular intervals. He started running down the hall, cursing himself again.
Sloppy, Shepard, sloppy! Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! she thought to herself. She had, over time, let her guard down while running. She had begun to feel too safe at Alliance HQ, had gotten complacent. Liara had even warned her, and she got caught up in her running. If... when... she got out of this, she would never let her guard down again. Ever. Her thoughts were interrupted by the merc behind her.
“Man, I’d love to get me some of that.”
The merc to her left turned and looked at the one behind her. “Dude, shut up.”
“What, are you gay or somethin’?” he replied.
“No, you idiot, she’s an N7. She can kill you just by looking at you.”
“But, you’d still take her down.”
“And you’d still be dead, moron. So, shut the hell up.”
Shepard turned to look at the merc behind her, not breaking her stride, glaring at him through slitted eyes. The merc actually stopped and flinched. Shepard turned back around. He stood for a moment and then jogged to catch up.
That’s my opening, Shepard thought. The leader may be well trained, but these thugs are cheap labor. And, they are afraid of me. Or those two, at the very least. Just need an opportunity to make my move.
James stopped and leaned over, putting his hands on his thighs, breathing hard. He hadn’t done any distance running since basic and he was cursing himself even more over it. He looked down the hallway. He had traveled barely one third of it so far. But, he had to push on. He had to find Shepard. Did he misread her? Was she simply looking for a chance to escape? But, why did she turn herself in, then? None of this made any sense. He took a deep breath and started running down the hall again. When he found her, he would hopefully get some answers.
The group reached the end of the hall. Another ladder was here that led up and out of the tunnel. The leader sent two men up first, keeping an eye on Shepard. She glared at him the entire time. If it affected him, he made no indication of it. He then motioned for Shepard to climb the ladder. She surveyed the men. Three of them left, all of them with their rifles trained on her. No opening here. She started climbing up the ladder. The leader then started up behind her, making sure to stay far enough below so that she couldn’t kick him. The two other men followed him up.
Shepard climbed up the ladder, making sure to go slower than she was capable of. The longer she took, the longer she had to think. At the top, she guessed she’d have to make her move. Why go to all this trouble, she thought, if they were just sent to kill me? Something is wrong here. Something changed. Whatever it is, it ends here.
She climbed out of the manhole when she reached the top and stood up. More guns trained on her. This roof was much smaller than the one with the track on it. It only had enough room for two shuttles and still leave room for loading and unloading.
Three more soldiers had joined the two that had climbed up and two more were standing by a shuttle with its side door open. It appeared to have been hastily painted to look like an Alliance shuttle. No way was she going to let them take her onto that shuttle. She had to make her move now.
The last of the soldiers climbed out of the manhole and replaced the cover. The leader was about to order them to the shuttle when he got a call on his radio. He moved away a bit to answer it.
Shepard took a deep breath and then exhaled. This is it. No armor, no guns, she thought. She smirked. Should be fun. She did a fake lunge at the merc to her left. He flinched and stepped back. Never tried this point blank before. In a flash of blue light, she turned and charged at the leader. He was launched off the edge of the building before he realized what was happening. Letting out a loud grunt, Shepard jumped and then slammed her fist onto the ground sending out a nova-like biotic wave in a radius around her, sending the mercs flying through the air and then hitting the roof hard.
The mercs at the shuttle started firing in Shepard’s direction, but either out of fear or incompetence, their shots went wild. Shepard charged again, covering the distance between them in less than a second, slamming one merc into the side of the shuttle. His body went limp and fell to the floor. She slammed her fist into the ground again, sending the other merc off of the roof. She turned around to look at the other mercs. Some were lying still, but two were starting to get up. They were not close to each other. She picked the one to her left and charged again. He staggered, but did not fall. She slammed her fist into the ground again, the biotic wave sending him to the ground. He stayed down this time.
Shepard turned to the last merc who had found his gun and was raising it to her. As she biotically charged, he fired, not as wild as the other mercs. She slammed into him, sending him to the ground. This final one, she would finish personally. She didn’t know if he was the one that had commented about her before and she didn’t care. He was going to take the brunt of her anger. She sat on top of him and sent a biotically powered punch into his head. He went very still.
Shepard stood up, breathing heavily, the adrenaline wearing off. It was over. She turned to leave and saw the man with a pistol pointed at her. This sneaking up on her was getting old, very fast.
“Ah, ah, ah. Wouldn’t want you to leave too soon.” the man said.
James finally reached the end of the hallway and saw the ladder. He looked up and saw it went up as far as he could see.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Who the hell built these things anyway? Access hatches, secret tunnels, this is ridiculous!”
Shaking his head, James started climbing up the ladder.
Shepard looked at the man. He was small, barely 5’5”. The armor he had on was clearly too big for him. He appeared to be actively trying to keep the hand holding the pistol steady, but not succeeding very well.
“You really think you can take me, little man? Look at your toy soldiers. I made short work of them and I’ll do the same to you.”
The man trembled slightly. “It took the last of my life savings to hire them! You... you’ve gone unpunished for far too long.”
“Just who are you, anyway?” Shepard asked.
“You don’t know? You ruined my business three years ago.”
Shepard narrowed her eyes. “Banes.”
“Armistan Banes,” Liara had said.
Shepard raised an eyebrow. “Where do I know that name from?”
“It’s from before I joined up. Garrus told me about him. You were investigating a blackmail attempt against Dr. Michel.”
“Right, I remember now. That lead was a dead end. We just assumed that the blackmailer was using Banes’ name as leverage. Are you sure this is legit?” Shepard asked.
“My source says he saw the transaction personally. He’s certain it’s Banes,” Liara replied.
Shepard pushed her chair away from the desk and stood up. “Why would he come after me now? Especially if he faked his own death. That blackmail attempt was small time, at best. He’d have to spend a lot of money just to even get to me, not to mention blowing his cover.”
“I’m sorry, my source didn’t have that information. I did make a note to ask.”
“Oh, so you do remember me. You ruined my life. I already was in hiding from the Alliance. I had to fake my own death just to get away from them. I was sick of working for them and their pompous and smug attitudes. I had found Cerberus. They were interested in my talents. I just had to tie up a few loose ends. You messed all that up. I had a good thing going! That thing with the doctor wasn’t the only thing I was working on. But, after you squashed it, the Krogan stopped taking my calls. He never even paid me! All that money, gone!”
He raised the gun at her, but his hand still trembled. “It’s all because of you that my life is ruined!”
Shepard laughed out loud. “Go ahead, little man. Pull the trigger. Come on, what are you waiting for?! Look at you. I’ll bet all your life you’ve had others do all your dirty work for you. When it comes down to it, you just don’t have what it takes to get the job done. That little blackmail scheme? That was small time. Beneath Cerberus’ notice. I doubt they were ever interested in you. They just needed yet another pawn.”
She stepped forward and slapped the pistol out of Banes’ hand before he knew what had happened.
“You’re pathetic. You’re not even worth my time. The last of your life savings, huh? Well, you got what you paid for, then. They were small time, too,” Shepard said as she glared at him.
The man had cowered at her words and was kneeling on the ground, actively weeping, his head in his hands.
She turned and saw James running up to her.
“Some guard you are. About damn time you showed up. Don’t worry, I took care of it. As usual,” Shepard said, her words dripping in sarcasm.
James surveyed the area. “Yeah, I guess you did. Who’s this?”
“Somebody you need to arrest. Armistan Banes.”
“Never heard of him,” James said as he pulled out a pair of handcuffs and cuffed the man.
“Yeah, you wouldn’t have. He’s a nobody.”
"What the hell happened here?”
“These mercs learned that it’s not as easy to take me as they thought it was.”
“Uh.. yeah,” James said. He stared at her face. “Hey, you’re bleeding.”
As James said that, Shepard finally felt the stinging in her left cheek. She put her hand up to it and when she pulled it away she saw the blood. “Guess the mercs weren’t total crap after all. One of them managed to wing me.” She then turned her hand over and saw the bruises on her fingers and blood on her knuckles.
“Yeah, next time... use gloves.” she muttered to herself.
“You’ll live.” James said as he finished calling in for an Alliance cleanup crew.
Shepard smirked. “Fuck you, James. Your concern makes me feel so much better.”
“Finally! There’s the Shepard I’ve been told about. Glad to finally meet you,” James said with a wide grin.
Shepard’s smirked widened into a full grin. “You too, Lieutenant.”
It wasn’t until well after eight pm that Shepard finally entered her room. All day spent in debriefings with Admirals she had never met. Many questions about what had happened, about Banes. She was tired of all of it.
“Shepard,” the voice in her ear said.
“Liara, not now. I’m tired and I need a shower.”
“This won’t be long. I heard what happened. Are you alright?” Liara sounded very concerned.
Shepard sighed. “I’m fine.”
“I... just... I was so worried.”
“Didn’t you tell me a few months ago that a mere fall wasn’t going to kill me? It was just a few mercs.”
“I..... Yes, I suppose so.”
“Was this just a social call?”
“No. I need to tell you that this will be my last call for a long while. I need to... deal with something and I won’t be able to contact you for quite some time.”
“Oh? I’d offer to help, but...”
“It’s okay, Shepard. I just needed to tell you that. I will try to get in touch as soon as I can. Take care.”
“You too, Liara.”
Shepard heard the link close and then prepared for her shower.
A few months later...
Kaidan leaned on the railing of the patio of his father’s house. He was nursing the same drink he had from dinner.
“So, staying long?” his father asked, walking up to him.
Kaidan turned to look at him and then back at the view. “No. Actually, shore leave’s over. I’m back on active duty tomorrow.”
“So, what plum assignment will they have you on this time?”
“I don’t know. I was just told to report to Alliance HQ for further orders.”
“That’s... either good or bad,” his father said, remembering his own Alliance days.
“I know.” Kaidan said. They both looked at the view for a while.
His father broke the silence. “Your mother and I have enjoyed your visits these past couple of months. Maybe next time you can bring that lady friend of yours you keep going on about.”
“I...” Kaidan started. Should I tell him? Kaidan thought. He had kept the fact that his lady friend had been under house arrest for the past several months secret. He had even not told them who she was. Who she really was, that is. Now he wasn’t really sure why. “She’s been busy,” he finally said.
“Well, next time you both aren’t busy, bring her on by. Your mother has been dying to meet her.”
“You know what? I’ll do that." He chuckled. “She might complain at first, but once she’s here, she’ll warm up to it, I’m sure.”
“You could say that.”
“Well, that’s another thing you and she have in common.”
Kaidan smiled and stared out at the view of the sunset.
The previous few months had passed uneventfully for Shepard. Each morning, whether she was running or not, she did some light exercises. Since she was not scheduled for the track this day, she was wearing her casual dress uniform with its gold commander bars. She supposed she was lucky the Admiral had not canceled her running track access. What he had done instead was heavily increase the guard while she ran.
Her scars had completely faded. Not a single trace of them remained. Even the cut from the merc’s bullet had fully healed. Her eyes showed nothing but their deep blue color.
Liara had yet to contact her, but Shepard wasn’t too worried. When they had gone after the Shadow Broker, Liara had proven that she’s more than capable of taking care of herself. Shepard had her own problems to worry about.
She looked at the datapad in her hand. Banes had plead guilty to all charges. No trial, thus no need for her to testify. Good. She did not like courtrooms. Shepard moved over to the window and leaned her arm on the top, looking out. She turned as she heard the door open.
“Commander,” James said while saluting.
“You’re not supposed to call me that anymore, James.”
“Not supposed to salute you, either. We gotta go. The defense committee wants to see you.”
“Sounds important,” Shepard said as she tossed the datapad onto the bed. She then followed him out of the room.