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…And now I’ve got to change 6,000 words of previously-written fic from past to present tense.
And set the dial on the Heartwrenching all the way up to “fry.” (Alexandra Shepard, young lady, why are you such a bitch?!)
Title: From The Life That You Always Knew
Fandom: Mass Effect
Rating: G. Brief mention of child abuse.
Word Count: 962
Summary: “Alexandra became Alex became Shepard and found the stars and searched them.” Self-indulgent character study piece.
She doesn’t dream anymore.
Not the old dreams, the good dreams, good-person dreams. The Alexandra dreams. She is not Alexandra anymore, just Alex: a new name that had been won at enlistment age eighteen with a buzz cut and razor scars on her scalp and the laugh of new recruits, all her matted-hair past shoved down the drain.
Her mother had named her Alexandra. Her mother had insisted.
Mmmkay, 1,800 words, it’s two in the morning; I believe I shall go to bed.
(Because Death Is All You Cradle is going to be a series now, not a single fic, and I got random inspiration for…I thought it was the first installment, but now I’m thinking it’s the second. Have a sample!)
The air is thin.
It is to be expected, of course – it has all been vented, recycled, must be slowly pumped back in to fill the empty corners and chairs, the vacancy in the mess hall, the silence up on the bridge. The quiet. She can hear the scuff and clink of Mordin setting things right in the laboratory where all his test tubes and experiments were blown awry in the draft, the professor muttering under his breath about loss and salvage and give and take while Legion takes inventory in a cool, mechanical monotone. Emotionless. She can hear scuff and clink from the armory, too, same noises but rougher, more metal and less glass, no words; just weapons tested, loaded, set aside, stood at attention. Preparation. The sterile air is growing thick with gun oil, with anticipation.
Alexandra Shepard breathes it in, breathes it out, oil and smoke and medi-gel and the lingering Collector musk of death she knows too well, that empty scent of space. Breathes in and out and listens and listens. In the space where the chatter of the crew usually sits she can hear her heartbeat, far louder than normal without the dulling static of the bridge. It’s all brass and platinum on Cerberus steel, artificial, cybernetic, thump and piston-thump of alive, alive.