Note: Tx to Razial for his help with this chapter and to Inachis for betaing it.
I looked at the doctor for a few moments before bursting out laughing. The way he said that was just too damn amusing to resist. But after a few seconds I realized that the doctor wasn’t laughing along with me. He just watched me with a calm and collected look on his face, waiting for me to stop laughing. The laughter dried up and I stared at the doctor, waiting for him to break. This had to be some kind of a joke. But Pierson didn’t break and remained quiet, waiting for me to realize that he was dead serious.
“Nice joke Doc, but enough is enough,” I finally snapped, hoping to shock him into admitting the truth. “Now where is Toni?” I demanded to know.
“I’m telling you the truth Captain. You died in that crash and the only reason you’re standing in front of me alive is due to the fact that you, like me, are immortal,” Pierson responded calmly, having seen much worse reactions to being told this news in his long lifetime. I didn’t know this then, but Pierson told me later that he then remembered once having a drinking contest with Connor and Duncan McLeod about who had the worst reaction to telling this news to some newbie immortal. He didn’t recall who won, but that my response was still tame so far. “And I’m afraid your friend Toni didn’t survive. She was crushed in her seat between the steering column and her chair,” he explained. “She was also pierced by metal pieces of the Mako’s frame in a dozen places. I’m sorry,” he added.
I stared at the Doctor as I learned Toni was dead. My head began to swim as I realized I really shouldn’t be standing here right now. I should be dead just like Toni, which meant what doctor Pierson had told me must be true. I sat down heavily and ran a hand through my hair as I tried to come to grips with what I had just learned.
Pierson just sat down and watched as I tried to get a grip on my emotions.
I have to pause here to ensure you understand just how life changing this news was for me, being told I should have died only to come back and learn that from now on as long as I kept my head, I would live almost forever. Learning of a subculture buried in the history of mankind was amazing and troubling. How is it that no one had stumbled upon this truth? That’s when I learned of the organization known as the Watchers, whose duty it is to watch over the immortals and ensure their eternal conflict doesn’t become known to the outside world. My world changed forever that day, far more than I could ever have believed possible. I just sat and listened as doctor Pierson explained things that made my head hurt, rules and warnings and all sorts of other things that went with living the life of an immortal.
I think the thing that bothered me the most was the realization that I would now have to lie to people about how I survived. Even more, I would have to ensure no one learned of my new status and that meant more lies. If there was one thing I hated it was lying, especially to friends, but now I had no choice but to lie if I wanted to keep my secret. A secret I knew would have me strapped to a table to be experimented on to find some way to exploit me, if the Alliance or other originations learned about it. Oh the Alliance would at least be nice about it and wouldn’t overstep the line, but the idea of being experimented on for any reason made me sick. It took me a few days to fully come to accept the truth. Pierson remained with me to answer my questions and help me adjust. Then it was time to go back, time to begin my life anew.
After we talked a bit more, the Doc and I erected a small memorial on the safe ground he had dragged me to. Sadly we couldn’t retrieve any of the bodies of our fallen comrades, except Toni’s body which Pierson had already buried while I was ‘recovering’. We had searched our former base camp, but those worms must have eaten everybody.
After we had finished with this work to honor our fellow Marines we activated an SOS beacon, because every shuttle we could have used to get up into space was utterly trashed. Then we had to wait because the cruiser that had brought our unit here had a second mission and wasn’t due to be back for a few days.
Pierson copied a small program to my Omnitool which then produced a blade of hardlight and he used the time until our rescue to show me the beginnings of swordsmanship. I had a bit of fencing training in the academy because it’s tradition, but that was a joke compared to what the Doc put me through the next week.
On the sixth day since we activated our beacon we had just finished another training session when our com's activated and we heard a voice over the radio.
“SSV Lancer to any survivors, please come in. SSV Lancer to any survivors, please come in.”
I quickly deactivated my blade and replied. “SSV Lancer? This is Captain Shepard. I repeat this is Captain Shepard.”
The frequency was silent for a moment until another voice said, “Captain Shepard? This is Commander McGees. What is your status down there? Why was the SOS beacon activated?”
“Our command post was attacked by a lifeform we have never seen before. The whole unit was wiped out except for me and doctor Pierson,” I answered and after taking a breath, I continued. “Could you send down a shuttle to the following coordinates? All our shuttles were destroyed in the attack as well.”
“A shuttle will be there ASAP. Commander McGees out,” the commander replied, the shock over the news clear in his voice.
The shuttle picked doctor Pierson and myself up half an hour later and what followed was a preliminary debriefing on board the Lancer and then another debrief once we were back on Earth.
The next few weeks I spent on Earth and besides all the military stuff, that would probably bore you to dead if I told you about it, Pierson drilled more sword fighting lessons into me. Finally after a few weeks he deemed me good enough in it to be considered competent, which was as I had learned during my time with him, quite the compliment.
On the same day Pierson ended my training with the reminder to constantly keep the skill up, because you never knew when you’d cross paths with another Immortal who was after your head, I received orders to join up at Vila Militar in Rio de Janeiro to finish up my N training and with a bit of luck I might be able to call myself an N7 soon.
That called for a small celebration because becoming an N7 was the dream of every Alliance soldier. Sadly not to many could do it because the training was one of the hardest known to any, but just being invited to even start the N training gave you a lot of respect in the military.
To enjoy the end of my last day in the company of Pierson I invited him to a nice restaurant. Not that inviting him was anything new. Somehow he always managed to leave me paying the tap.
We enjoyed a nice meal and left the restaurant around 10 pm. While on our way to the small apartment we had rented Pierson asked, “So Shep, when is your flight leaving tomorrow?”
Before I could reply to him we both felt the ‘buzzz’ that announced another Immortal was nearby.
Before we could even see the other Immortal we heard the tell tale sign of a gunshot and suddenly a red flower started to spread on Pierson’s chest. He was hit right in the heart. Without thinking I quickly jumped him and dragged him into cover and the pulled my own small Kessler Pistol out of the small bag I was wearing with the small cocktail dress I had on for the evening. ‘Isn’t that typical? I wear a dress the first time in ages and what happens? We get attacked,’ I grumbled to myself, swearing to never to wear one again, while trying to get a glimpse on the shooter and getting rid of those damn useless shoes that went with the dress.
“Nice reflexes miss,” a dark voice said out of the dark from a few meters away. “I only want Pierson. So if you want to live, just go,” the voice continued.
I tried to bluff a bit and said, “You shot him in the heart! He’s dead.”
“That doesn’t matter lady. Just go and live the rest of your life in peace or whatever. I don’t care,” he replied.
Leaving Pierson wasn’t an option because the guy was obviously after his head, so I decided on my course of action. “Ok, you can have him. What do I care for a dead body?” I said.
As he replied, “Good choice,” I quickly fired three times at the location I guessed he must be from the sound of his voice. A painful groan proved that I was right with my guess and hit him at least with one of my shoots.
I quickly ran over to where he must be and saw how he was getting up again, meaning I hadn’t hit anything vital.
He saw me coming at him and yelled, “You’ll pay for that bitch!” He raised his right hand which held the gun he must have shot Pierson with. I had my weapon already pointed at him and so fired first. My shot would have hit him dead center, but was deflected by the tell tale sign of an energy shield. So the asshole was a least wearing some light armor.
The moment he pulled the trigger I was already jumping to the left, making his shot miss me. I quickly fired several shots, but sadly my thermo magazine ran dry before I could weaken his shield enough to put a bullet through it.
He laughed and said, “So what now you bitch? I’ll tell you what, now you die.”
He pulled the trigger again, but I had used the time he was talking getting ready and lucky for me chose the right direction to dodge. His shot went past me again. By now I was near enough and jumped him. With a kick I hit his weapon arm and his gun flew into the dark.
He laughed again and said, “Seems like you know what you’re doing. This will be fun.”
His kick to my midsection was so powerful that it went right through my block. I stumbled a few steps back, but quickly caught myself again. Instead of following up on his kick, he used the time to pull a sword.
With an arrogant smile he came at me. I dodged the first attack and sidestepped the second a bit, using my momentum to catch his arm and with a quick move hit his elbow. I heard the joint break and without thinking or waiting I got his sword and used an attack Pierson had been drilling into me for the last few days. I twisted and used the momentum to allow my hand to carry my sword around in a sweeping motion. The blade cut through the man’s neck easily and blood followed my blade out on the other side. The man had been just too slow to stop his move.
He had time enough to look shocked before his head fell to the ground.
Pierson had described what would happen when I’d take my first head, but his words couldn’t even begin describe what happened in me. Yes, the lightshow outside was spectacular, but that was only the outside. What happened inside of me at that moment just can’t be described, but after that I wasn’t surprised anymore that some, like the body in front of me, could become addicted to it and turn into headhunters.
After the Quickening was over I quickly searched the body. I took his sword, his wallet and after looking around for a moment, the gun he lost in the fight. After that I hurried over to Pierson who had already come around again and was slowly getting up.
“Pierson, we have to get out of here quickly before someone comes to investigate what is going on,” I told him.
He just looked at me and then at the scene behind me and then we hurried back to our apartment.
Wasn’t that a nice last evening before I had to fly to Rio? This Immortal Carl David Kurn was my first Quickening, but sadly not my last.
The next two years I went on several missions and finally I earned the right to call myself an N7. Sadly I lost all contact with Pierson in that time and I had no clue where he was, but I was sure I would meet him again someday.
Shortly after I gained my new N7 status I received my promotion to Lt. Commander and got my orders to report on-board a newly built ship as 2nd in command.
I enjoyed two weeks of vacation which I spent on Hawaii before I was back in Rio and a shuttle brought me up to my new posting on board the Normandy.