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Zeppo Effect: Fight for the Lost

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Zeppo Effect". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The Galaxy's Greatest Hero is back from the dead with a small army of the deadliest operatives in the galaxy to take on all comers. They say it's a suicide mission, that it’s certain death. THEY keep forgetting that Shepard has a Zeppo in her corner.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Sci-Fi > Mass Effect Trilogy(Recent Donor)BHRamsayFR1864310,83930385133,45216 Jan 1226 Sep 13No

Interlude: Dark Horizon

AN- Thanks to Drake and Reikson for their ongoing enthusiasm and support.

Samantha Traynor looked into the bright sky of Horizon. Even during the day, the sky was so clear that she would’ve sworn that she could see the glittering stars amongst the darkness of the eternal void of outer space above the atmosphere.

“Was it always this bright?” the brunette grumbled.

Her sister Gloria only snickered. “Sam, you really need to stop spending your days staring at monitors and datapads. You almost wouldn’t know that you grew up in a farming community.”

The two women laughed together, as they once had when they were kids at that very colony.

Gloria was fair-haired and fair-featured, taking after their mother. Samantha’s dark hair and olive-colored skin more a reminder of their farmer father.

“If I want to stare at the stars and planets, that’s what digital telescopes and long-range visual data analysis are for,” Samantha snapped good-naturedly in her posh accent; a lingering tribute to the years that she’d spent studying on Earth at Oxford after she’d finally escaped from the Horizon colony and the stifling life of a colony kid.

Not that she’d have ever said it that way, of course.

Gloria, her sister, had preferred life in a colony. She’d ended up marrying that nice Sean Doffler. The two of them had a daughter named after a cherished ancestor of the Traynor family.

“So, has the great and terrible Alliance war-machine got you doing anything useful these days?” Gloria sneered. “Anything that you can talk about, anyways?”

“It’s called research and development, Gloria,” Samantha sighed, unwilling to suffer her sister’s age-old contention with humanity’s overarching interstellar government. “Working with the kind of stuff that I do, it’s not just cutting edge. Hell, this stuff’s bleeding-edge technology.”

“For the military,” Gloria snorted. “As if the Systems Alliance needed more weapons.”

Samantha looked at her sister and the dour expression on her face. “This sounds like more than your typical whining about the Alliance. What’s wrong?”

“It’s Simone,” Gloria muttered, crossing her arms mulishly.

“How is my niece, anyway?” the Communications Specialist nodded.

“The nightmares are back, and they’re as bad as they’ve ever been since they started.”

“She hasn’t had those in… what, two years? Perhaps you should consider a better solution than just ‘wait-and-see’ and hoping for the best.”

“I’m not sending my daughter away, Samantha,” Gloria snapped.

“Kahlee Sanders runs a very good program in the Vetus system,” Samantha said leadingly.

“So you want her to go to Grissom Academy?” Gloria sneered. “Everybody knows that Grissom’s a training ground so the Alliance can have biotic soldiers and cutting-edge weapons technology. That’s the only reason that they get so much Alliance funding.”

Samantha only rolled her eyes. “Your daughter’s having dreams about nasty monsters and seeing people and things of which she should have no knowledge. If the problem’s because she’s got biotic abilities, then she needs training. Specialized training and help that you’re not going find on some backwater agri-colony.”

Gloria bristled, turning on her younger sister in a fury. “That backwater agri-colony used to be your home! Remember that!” she hissed. “I know that you’d rather like to forget that bit of knowledge, what with that English accent and… and everything else.”

“Everything else?!?” Samantha exploded. “Is that what everybody calls it now?!?”

“You know what I mean! Mom and Dad… they had no problems with… with how you choose to live your life.” Gloria snapped defensively, suddenly slumping in exhausted defeat.

“Honestly, Gloria, it’s not something you’ll catch because you said the word,” Sam rolled her eyes. “I highly doubt that you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.”

“It’s just that… well, sometimes I feel like you used… IT, as an excuse to run away and leave us behind. To forget about us… forget about me.”

“I could never forget about my Glorious Glory,” Samantha sighed.

“You remember that?”

“What, you running around with that sheet on your back, rescuing things and going on secret missions? Of course, I remember.”

Gloria laughed nostalgically. “With you as my sidekick. Some superhero I turned out to be,” she muttered. “Wife and mother… my daughter’s probably going crazy and I can’t do anything to help her.”

Samantha caught the note of bitterness in her sister’s voice. “What’s really bothering you, Glory?”

Gloria nodded sadly. “Sean’s worried that the nightmares are his fault. Apparently, there’s a history of mental illness on his side of the family.”

Samantha snorted. “Well, that’s the problem, then, isn’t it?” she sneered dryly. “A cousin so distant, that nobody remembers her name, going nuts about two hundred years ago and caused an international furor. That’s why you’re having problems with your daughter now.”

“They have the same name,” Gloria explained.

“You named my niece in honor of a member of OUR family, Glory,” Samantha reminded her distraught sister. “Simone Traynor was part of the technical team that helped Jon Grissom travel to the Arcturus system, remember?”

“I remember. Mom and Dad were so proud when they first met her.”

“Thank God she saved me from all the pressure of doing grandkids,” Samantha snickered.

Gloria snorted. “Yeah, don’t think that I haven’t had to listen to stuff about THAT subject.”

“I still haven’t given up on the idea of kids, you know,” Sam sighed, “Maybe two kids, a dog, maybe some kind of a retriever, and a nice house.”

“Well, if you want that, then what’s stopping you?”

“I just want to find… the right person.”

“You mean someone from military service, don’t you?”

Samantha shrugged, admitting that her sister had a point even as she looked at Gloria worriedly. “Something’s bothering you, and it’s not just about Simone’s dreams, is it?”

“Simone’s been hanging around that Alliance Rep that they sent out here to spy on us.”

“Operations Chief Ashley Williams is here to set up a GARDIAN defense grid. Those can be tricky, especially in a place like this where power can be hard to compensate for.”

“I just want to know what she’s really doing out here. I’d also appreciate knowing what gives her the right to interfere with my daughter.”

“If you don’t want her to talk to Simone, just tell her so.”

“I have, but Simone just hangs around her anyway. Asking her questions about a whole bunch of things, and Williams won’t send her away.”

“My guess is that she’s waiting for you to tell Simone that you don’t want her talking to the Operations Chief.”

“I’ve tried." Gloria whined, "She won’t listen to me.”

“Well, that’s hardly Chief Williams’ fault, now is it?” Her sister replied.

“I just don’t want her running off and joining the military, just to end up dying on some Godforsaken backwater rock like that Alliance Hero that you were so obsessed with.”

Samantha blushed. “It’s Commander Joan Shepard and I was NOT obsessed. I just… I admired the woman and her accomplishments.”

“You had a picture of her on your nightstand. You slept so that you’d wake up and see her face, first thing in the morning. Mom says that should’ve been our first clue about the way the wind blows with you.”

Samantha stared off into the distance, talking to an invisible judge and jury that only she could see. “So you see, your honor, I really had no choice. My sister was embarrassing me. I had to kill her.”

“Like you could take me in a fair fight, Sammy,” Gloria smirked. “Take you away from your precious chessboards and your strategy games and you couldn’t fight your way out of a wet paper bag.”

“One of these days, Glory, one of these days…” Samantha deadpanned, shaking a fist at her sister only halfheartedly.

“Until that day, could you… maybe talk to Simone?”

“I’m not going down that road, Glory. You know that I think that she could go to Grissom if she asks. I’m not going to lie and say different.”

“I… I could tolerate that sort of stuff coming from you,” Gloria sighed. “It’s just… that Williams woman bothers me and I can’t figure out why.”

Samantha sighed. Her time at Oxford had shown her that her life could’ve been much worse than growing up on a place like Horizon. That said, the kneejerk distrust that most of the colony’s citizens had towards anything regarding the Systems Alliance was annoying.

“I’ll see what I can do,” the Communications Specialist said finally.

Gloria and her neighbors would probably never change. But… maybe helping Simone might ensure that the next generation would grow up with a little less paranoia.

She walked down a dirt pathway, making note of the completed construction for the GARDIAN defense system. Idly, she wondered what was taking the Operations Chief so long. The actual construction seemed complete, which probably meant that Williams was wrestling with the calibration of the gun’s auto-targeting protocols.

She stopped next at the large targeting station.

“Chief Williams!” she called out, “Could I have a word?”

Ashley’s dark head poked out of a maintenance hatch. Crawling up a steel ladder that lead down into the depths of the GARDIAN’s internal systems, she pulled herself out and dusted her hands.

“You can have as many words as you like. Everybody else seems determined to share.” Ashley said sourly.

“Sorry about that, ma’am.”

Williams quirked an eyebrow at Traynor’s polite response. “Ma’am, huh? You military?”

“Communications Specialist Samantha Traynor, ma’am, on shore leave; normally assigned to R&D.”

“You’re a tech head? What the Hell are you doing way out here?”

“As I said, ma’am, on shore leave visiting family,” Samantha saluted her superior officer. “I wouldn’t… I was hoping that I might be able to help you with your project.”

Ashley looked at her wryly, prompting her to babble out, “Not that I think that you aren’t capable or anything, it’s just that I heard…”

“Your neighbors are pissing and moaning and you figured that you’d see if you could do something to speed me on my way?”

“Ma’am, I’m in Alliance R and D. I got the chance to study at one of the best schools on Earth because of the Alliance. Trust me when I say that you could not find a bigger fan of the Alliance here than me.”

“Sorry, Traynor,” Ashley sighed, wiping sweat off her forehead. “I’ve been in hostile territory for a long time now. It’s got me seeing hostiles where friendlies might be.”

“Understood, ma’am. Have to admit… calibrating a giant gun is outside of my comfort zone here. Still, I suppose it’s just another glitch-y computer right?”

“It can be a little more complex than that, Com-Specialist,” Ashley sighed.

“If I may, Operations Chief?” Traynor looked at the controls. “Well, I can see one problem right away. The power-up sequence has been compromised. And I’m not sure… but I think that there might be some kind of malware in the system.”

“Sharp eyes, Traynor,” Williams nodded approvingly, but there was a tone to the woman’s voice that Samantha couldn’t help noticing.

The Com-Specialist turned to look at her immediately-present Commanding Officer. “You don’t seem surprised to hear that your systems have been infiltrated.”

“No, I’m not, Specialist.”

“This fault could be fixed with little or no problem, why are you drawing out the process?”

Ashley affixed Samwith a hard, assessing stare, appearing to decide something important. Finally, she asked, “Traynor, I take it that you've heard about our fringe colonies being attacked and abducted, right?”

“I heard it was random pirate attacks.”

Williams snorted with derision, “That’s the official story, Traynor, and you seem way too intelligent to fall for party lines.”

“Well, there were rumors that Cerberus was involved somehow.”

“That’s more than just rumors, actually. The most recent attack was at the Fehl Prime colony. The surviving Marines claimed to have encountered a Cerberus traitor, who may have aided the enemy.”

“You think that there’s a traitor, here on Horizon.”

“I KNOW that there’s a traitor on Horizon,” Ashley sighed. “That virus you detected? It’s just the latest of several bits of sabotage against the project. I’ve been PRETENDING to be stymied by that fault because I’m hoping that if the culprit thinks that I can’t fix their simple sabotage, then they won’t move on to doing something dangerous.”

“But… but what if someone attacks the colony?” Traynor asked, surprised. “You won’t have time to purge the system and get the gun online.”

Ashley smiled confidently. “As long as I can get to the controls, I can quick-reboot the system and bring the targeting software online.”

“That’s kind of a big IF, don’t you think?” Traynor asked wryly. “Didn’t those Marines mention HOW… whoever it was, managed to take down an entire colony?”

“All they mentioned in their report was something about seeing swarms of insects in the area.”

“That’s a big risk, don’t you think?”

“Trust me, I learned from the best,” Ashley replied confidently. “Big risks lead to big rewards.”

“What insane crazy person taught you that?”

“Commander Joan Lisbon Shepard, savior of The Citadel.”

“You know the Hero of the Eden Prime War?”

“I thought I did,” Ashley grunted.

Samantha was too lost in her hero worship to catch the bitter tone in Ashley’s voice. “I’ve read everything about her. She died fighting the Geth.”

“That’s the official story, and only an idiot believes the official story. You, Com-Specialist, do not look or sound like an idiot.”

“But there must be something I can do?”

“What you can do, Com-Specialist Traynor, is write me a workaround program, something that bypasses all the safety protocols and powers-up the guns from a cold start, even if they’re completely offline. Do you think that you can pull that off?”

“It would take me a couple of hours to hammer something together.”

“Perfect. That should give me enough time to make my daily run to complain to that Colony Administrator about all the help that I don’t get around here.”

“You mean Lilith?”

“Nice girl; totally useless, but nice. Now, if you could get lost, it’s almost time for my daily visit from that jerk Delan. I thought he was the traitor once, but that was just wishful thinking on my part.”

“Why would you wish for that?”

Ashley smiled coldly. “Because he’s a jerk, Samantha, and if there’s one thing that I learned from Commander Shepard, it’s that there are very few problems in life that can’t be solved by shooting the right jerk in the right place at the right time.”

Samantha left Williams alone with that disturbing thought rolling around in her head.

She continued on to the bottom of the path and found Simone chopping wood.

While modern technology meant that one had no need of old-style furnaces and such, some of the colonists still liked using classic tech. Stuff like a wood-burning stove, for example, whenever the opportunity emerged.

Her own family was amongst those people with such sentiments.

Samantha had to admit; sitting before a warm fire on a cold night in London did wonders for reminding her why she occasionally missed the quieter pace of colonial life.

“Hi, Aunt Sam,” Simone called out listlessly as she readied her axe. The tree that she was intent on chopping down was quite large and thick.

Samantha smiled at the girl’s audacity, chutzpah, as one of her roommates at Oxford liked to say.

“No offense, Simone, but you’re going to be all day with that tree. Why not find one a little easier?”

Simone gave her aunt a confident smirk before throwing what looked like all her weight into a single blow from the axe in her hands.

The trunk seemed to explode and the large tree dropped to the ground with a loud crash.

Samantha gaped, “How did you manage to do that?”

“You have to focus, Auntie, see the target in your head and channel all your power in a single blow… it’s worked every time.”

“What do you picture?”

“Sometimes it’s people who bother me, like that idiot Fergus and his buddies. Sometime I see these… things. They look like people, except that their eyes glow and their teeth are painfully-sharp. Once I even did it by picturing Commander Shepard.”

“You thought of Commander Shepard?”

“I had a dream that she was in a place like Horizon, fighting… I’m not sure what, exactly, I think they were robots of some kind. There was couple of big ones there, and she took one out by cutting its head off with a shovel.”

Simone started chopping the tree into crude blocks, moving quickly to splitting each block of wood down the middle again with a single stroke.

“So… how have you been feeling lately?” Samantha replied carefully. Not carefully enough, apparently; her niece wasn’t fooled in the least.

“Mom’s mad at me, isn’t she?” Simone grumbled.

“Sweetheart, your mum isn’t MAD at you, exactly…” the Communications Specialist trailed off, trying to be tactful. “She’s upset because she’s worried about you. She wants to help you, but she doesn’t know how.”

Simone perched herself on the chopping block and looked up at her aunt. “I already told her how to help me; I need to find that wild-haired woman.”

“What woman?” Samantha frowned. This was the first time that she’d heard about such a figure in her niece’s life.

“A woman with her face all painted up and with wild hair, kinda like that Alliance Hero that you like,” Simone teased. But her demeanor shifted into a haunted look, almost as though she had PTSD. “Thing is, her hair was way longer than how Commander Shepard keeps it, and she looked more like a animal than a person.”

“…and this woman, she speaks to you?” Samantha replied.

“I can’t always hear what she’s saying,” Simone sighed. “Whenever I try to focus on her, I hear this other stuff that drowns her out.”

Samantha sighed. “I was saying to your mother that maybe we should take you to see a very smart woman. Her name’s Kahlee Sanders and she runs a special kind of school.”

“A freak school?” Simone scoffed. “That’s what I am, right, a freak?”

“You aren’t a freak,” Samantha snapped. “If I’m right, and you are biotically sensitive, then you’re very special. There’s nothing wrong with being special.”

Simone glared at her aunt askance. “Mom thinks that being special isn’t great,” she snapped. “She wants me to be like everybody else.”

“She wants you to be happy, Simone. People can be… unpleasant, if you’re different.”

“People aren’t unpleasant, auntie, they act like they’re scared of me,” Simone snarled vehemently, making her aunt flinch. “Sometimes it makes me so mad that I hate it.”

Samantha reached out and hugged her niece, suddenly wanting to protect her. Simone suddenly tensed and pulled out of her aunt’s grasp, prompting the Alliance officer to look up and see a group of young boys coming down the path.

“Hey, Simone!” the leader called out to her. “You’ve been talking to that Alliance lady, and now you’re chatting up another Alliance busybody? When will you get the idea that we don’t want them here?”

“This is my aunt Sam, Fergus. Who I talk to isn’t any of your business, or anybody else’s either. That stuff’s nobody’s business.”

“They’re building a giant-ass gun in the middle of the colony,” Fergus sneered. “D’you really think that some pirate raider isn’t going to see that and think that we got stuff they want to steal?”

“Fergus, you’d better leave me and my aunt alone or else.

“What you gonna do, Simone?” Fergus sneered with all the confidence smirk of a career bully. “You gonna sic your Alliance buddy on us?”

“Simone,” Samantha interjected, “…we should just walk away.”

“Auntie, no matter what happens… don’t move,” Simone moved in front of Samantha, shielding her with her body.

Fergus laughed. “Yeah, Simone, you should run away. We don’t need you and your creepy Alliance friends making trouble around here, anyway.”

He reached out to shove Simone, only to have her reach out with lightning speed and grab his hand. The boy wailed as Simone began crushing his hand making him kneel at her feet in submission.

“I told you to leave me alone, Fergus,” she snarled. “You should’ve left me alone. Now I’m gonna show you what happens to people who don't do what I say.”

One of the other boys panicked and grabbed a block of wood, whirling it around and trying to smash it across Simone’s back and shoulders.

She growled, almost like one of those lions from the London Zoo. The boy, emboldened by his early hit, came at her again. This time, Simone ducked his wild swing.

As her head came up, she released Fergus and brought the axe around fast.

Samantha almost screamed, afraid of what her niece was going to do, but Simone slammed the flat of her axe against Fergus’ face.

A howl of pain heralded his abrupt drop to the ground, as he cradled his broken jaw.

His three fellows rushed them, but Simone darted forward, her face a mask of rage.

Whirling the splitting tool about, she caught the first boy’s legs by the ninety-degree junction between the axe’s head and haft. A single tug later, she yanked his legs out from under him and sent him crashing to the ground.

Another boy crashed into her, burying his fist in her stomach, but was shocked by how much it hurt him to hit her. He was even more shocked when she reversed the grip on the axe, shoving the handle into his stomach hard enough to drive the air forcefully from his body.

Simone reached out and caught the boy by the throat, she hauling his wriggling body into the air before driving it into the ground. The boy landed with a sicking crunch.

Another of the boys threw a stiff punch, sending Simone staggering back. He went to follow up the blow with a kick, but Simone grabbed his leg and wrenched hard, prompting a girlish screech of pain as the distinctive crunch of breaking bone rang through the air. The boy fell to the ground, clutching his broken leg and wailing at the top of his lungs.

Samantha noticed another of the boys grabbing a chunk of wood that he raised high above his head and throwing it at her niece.

She shouted a warning, but Simone was moving almost before the shout left her mouth.

Whipping the axe back, Simone caught the block of wood on the edge of the ax blade, its sharp edge biting deep into the block of wood. Swinging the axe around, she brought the weapon down upon the boy’s head.

But since she had a chunk of wood stuck to the axe, what would’ve been a killing blow was instead a missile that crushed the boy’s nose with a squelching crunch, sending him to the ground screaming and cradling his nose.

Simone spun the axe around, bringing it around to slam the block of wood in the last boy’s body. An explosive wheeze of breath later, the boy in question sank to the ground, clutching his midsection. As he fell, the block of wood came off the axe head and left the sharp deadly blade naked.

Having vanquished her tormentors, Simone spun around and brought her axe up above her head. Towering over Fergus, he gave a girlish scream as she sank its splitting edge into the ground between his legs.

Samantha vaguely registered a brief surge of satisfaction at the sight of the idiot bully pissing himself.

Simone reached down and grabbed Fergus by the hair hauling him to his feet and pinning him to the chopping block, the meaning of the act was as clear as the threat it implied,

"You stay away from me Fergus," Simone "You stay away or you’ll be very very sorry.”

The four boys ran away as quickly as they could; which was to say, not very quickly, due in no small part to their injuries.

Samantha stared at her young niece. “Where did you learn to fight like that?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes I just seem to… know things,” Simone shivered. “Sometimes, at night, I see things. People… and places… I saw Commander Shepard in another dream, only last night. She was fighting guys with blue armor and more mechs, and there was another woman with blonde hair with her.”

“I… I don’t know what’s causing all this, but… I think that there’s more going on here than just simple biotics.”

“I know, auntie,” Simone sighed. “This whole thing’s scaring me.”

“There’s nothing to be scared of, Simone,” Samantha said softly, placing a comforting hand on her niece’s shoulder. “We’ll figure this out. I promise.”

“Auntie, I’m not scared of what I can do…” Simone sighed. “What’s scary is that I’m starting to like what I can do. I like it a lot.”

“Listen, I’m going to find someone. Someone should do something about those boys… at least; someone should know that they attacked us.”

“Everybody in the colony hates the Alliance. They’re not going to care.”

“Then we’ll make them care. Stay here, Simone.” Samantha ran off to find help.

Simone watched her go.

“Well, there’s someone that you won’t be able to trust.” Simone glanced around and saw HER again.

The phantom that’d appeared to her periodically over the last two years. ever since ...The Change.

That moment when she had felt different, stronger, faster and the dreams had started ... those terrible, terrible dreams.

“She’s not like Mom and Dad, she’s different,” Simone said defensively.

“She’s not like us… not like you and me. You see, we aren’t just family, cousin. We’re blood kin… the blood that flowed in my veins flows in you. The power that set me apart… you have it, too.”

Simone looked at the pink-haired phantom before her.

“I looked you up on the extranet,” she snarled. “Some guy named Byron posted a bunch of stuff about people you talked about. I went looking for him, and he’s dead. According to what I found, you were crazy and caused all kinds of trouble.”

The woman walked up to Simone and stared into her eyes.

The Dead Simone sneered, “You want to know the truth, cousin?” Her hair just as discolored and mohawked as it had been during her short and violent life. “The truth is that I was weak once, just like you. But I became strong, just like you. When people find out that you have power they don’t; they don’t like you. They get scared and, as a wise man once said, fear turns to anger, anger leads to hate, and hatred leads to suffering…”

Then she smacked herself in the head. “Christ, now I'm starting to sound like that asshat Harris or worse .... Andrew,” she grumbled; revulsion and hatred clear in her voice. “Anyway, cousin, my point is that when that moment comes, you want to be the one who makes people suffer and not be the one suffering.”

She popped her neck, her lips curling into a speculative sneer as she looked around at the world of Horizon around her. “I’ve seen people like Fergus all my life. They call you crazy… terrorist… troublemaker. All they really care about is that they’re in charge, because they think that they know everything.”

“Aunt Sammy says that mom just wants me to be safe and happy.”

“Sorry, cousin, but safe and happy aren’t really options for people like us. Not anymore, you see, because we stand above the masses. What do they know, anyway? They’re sheep, willfully covering their eyes hiding from greater picture in favor of their own personal delusions of petty authority. Nothing’s changed, except for the technology,” the pink-haired phantasm scoffed, sidling up to her namesake.

Simone looked up at her ghostly visitor. “Why won’t you let me listen to the other one, the wild-haired woman?”

“The First Slayer?!?” Phantom-Simone snorted. “She’s got nothing to say that you need to hear, just more lies. I’ve already told you what happened to the other girls who believed her lies.”

“They all died.” Simone whispered.

“They all died to make their precious Princess Buffy stronger and what did she do with all that strength? Nothing,” the punk rock Slayer sneered. “No, you and me; WE’RE going to do it right. When we get the power, we’re gonna introduce a little anarchy into the lives of the sheep.”

“We’ve got so much in common, after all,” the specter mused. “You’re a Slayer, just like me. You’re a Doffler, just like me. Your idiot parents even named you after me, after the so-called ‘black sheep’ of our blood. Do you really think that was just a coincidence?”

“They said that I’m named after-”

“Some button jockey who stood next to the Boy Scout with the right stuff? Is that really who you want to be for the rest of your life?” the phantom drawled coldly. “The person who stood next to glory and power? Or do you want to be an agent of real change?”

“I… I… want to be more than… this. I… I have to be more than this…” Simone whispered.

“Smart girl,” her unearthly Cousin mused, leaning back on her right foot.

The Dead Slayer furrowed her brow in concentration, it was laughably like that stupid movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. If you wanted to move stuff as a ghost you had to do it with your mind and your emotions ...fortunately, Simone still had plenty of hate to spare; more then enough to allow her to pick up the dropped axe and toss it to her namesake.

“Now, you did pretty good with the axe, but you need more practice. So while you finish chopping up wood, you can tell me about this Commander Shepard that everybody’s so obsessed with.”

“Why do you want to know about her?”

“Because, cousin, your Commander Shepard is one of us, she’s a part of the Sisterhood of the Slayers.” Casting a contemptuous glare at her surroundings, the pink-haired ghost then sneered, “We need to get out of this backassward craphole. I mean, this is the twenty-second century, where are the jetpacks and the flying cars and all that shit?”

“Jet packs are expensive. So are flying cars.”

“But they exist, don’t they?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Then we’re so going to find one,” the apparition hissed, her lips widening into a manic grin that showed off all of her teeth. “...and some guns, they have to have some real kickass guns by now."

"Yeah totally, I've been chatting up Chief Williams like you told me and I think I know where she's keeping a supply of weapons."

"Good, Little Miss Military Puppet won't mind donating to our cause then, We'll totally borrow a few when we're ready to leave but before we go. I think a visit with that little shit Fergus is in order don't you?"

Little Simone's face darkened, her fists clenched in rage.

"Yeah that's my girl. Straighten him out; make sure he knows who has the power," the Dead Slayer said with a sinister smile, "Little Cousin, you and I are going to get out there and remind people why they used to be scared of the name Simone Doffler.”
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