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The Scars You Keep

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If they had to bring her back, they could have at least had the decency to bring her back the way she was.

For all their talk of not changing her, it seemed Cerberus had done exactly that. She felt off kilter, unbalanced. Like someone had broken into her house and moved all the furniture exactly six inches to the left. She wasn’t even certain it was still the same furniture.

Had the scratches and chipped paint been buffed away and polished up with a new coat of shine, or had every single piece been carefully reconstructed to look the same but new, better?

She didn’t recall it feeling so heavy before.

Leaning over the sink in her bathroom, Jane Shepard studied the reflection in the mirror. That face looked like hers, same heavy brow and dimpled chin. There were new scars of course, orange and glowing, but that wasn’t what bothered her. Scars, she could handle. The lack of them however, was far more than troubling.

She raised a hand to trace a finger down the ridge of her nose, watching curiously as the woman in the mirror did the same.

She could still remember the day it had broken. The way the alley smelled of piss and rotten garbage, the sick smile filled with perfect white teeth, set in the face of the man who’d robbed her of twenty dollars and the last shred of security she had left.

She’d been just a kid, really. A sixteen year old runaway, terrified that if she reported or went to the hospital, they’d send her back home. So she’d stayed on the streets, tending to her bruised ribs as best she could, and let her nose heal crooked.

The nose under her fingertip was perfect, long, straight, and smooth. A nose that had never been broken.

Perhaps she should have been glad to be rid of a souvenir from a painful time, but she wasn’t. That crooked nose had been a token, both a reminder of what it felt like to be completely helpless, and a promise to never let herself feel that way again.

But it wasn’t just the nose that they’d “fixed,” she’d checked. Every scar, every old injury, even her fucking tattoos had been stripped from her. Those scars might have been painful, but dammit, they meant something to her. Meant everything. Each scar was a reminder of a lesson learned, a battle survived, a loved one lost. Without them, this body she’d been forced into may as well have been a mech.

Hell, judging by the amount of orange light leaking from the cracks in her skin, she probably was.

"Commander Shepard, we will be arriving on Omega within the hour"

Shepard whipped around, her hand reaching for a sidearm that wasn't there before she realized the voice was synthetic.

The AI. Of course. Because it wasn't enough that they'd made a mockery of her body, she had to be stuck on an imitation Normandy with a digital nanny to make sure she didn't get any uppity ideas.

Like mutiny.

That would be satisfying.

But no, like it or not, she was stuck. The only thing she could do right now was play along and hope for the best.

So she stood up straight, squared her shoulders, and put on her best Commander Shepard impression. Time to see if she was the real deal.