Hello, one and all! This is ZnK with another story for you! It's the third installment of the Madness trilogy, Madness Effect! Now, I realize that there are many who don't have any actual experience with Mass Effect, but don't worry, I'll try to explain everything as well as I can without making the story pause.
So, yeah, enjoy the new fic, and leave a review on your way out!
"Just a brat..."
Twelve-year old Jack Harper stared wide-eyed up at the man standing before him. The man was famous, his face visible almost everywhere for the last year or so. This was the man who had discovered the ruins on Mars, discovered all that technology, learned about mass effect fields and everything. In essence, he was Jack's idol. Jack had always been a smart boy, and he liked to show it, but he was from a poor family, who couldn't afford the best education.
Jack had run straight into the famous scientist, Harry Potter! Being just a young boy who had his idol staring down at him, Jack couldn't do anything but gape as the stitched-up scientist, in his white lab coat, stared down at him while puffing on his cigarette.
"What can I do for you?" Dr. Potter asked, raising an eyebrow. "Shouldn't run into me like that. Almost broke your neck on reflex."
"S-Sorry..." Jack muttered, gulping. He fiddled with the datapad in his hand for a moment, then held it up. "I-I didn't mean to run into you. I just... You dropped this, sir..."
The doctor, without so much as a thanks, took the datapad and looked it over, then turned his eyes, the right one shining bright green, down to Jack, staring into his eyes curiously for a long while. Then, he said, "Did you read this?"
"I am very good at spotting liars," Dr. Potter interrupted, smirking at Jack, who flinched. "Now, I ask again. Did you read this?"
"Y-Yes..." Jack mumbled in embarrassment. He hadn't meant to, really. He was just... curious...
"So, what did you think?" Dr. Potter asked, his eyebrow rising curiously. "Good enough to get published?"
"I... What?" Jack asked in confusion.
"I know talent when I see it. You understood what I was talking about in this, no?"
"S-Some of it... There were... words that I didn't understand..."
"Want to learn?" Dr. Potter asked.
Dr. Potter, pinched the bridge of his nose at that question, then gave Jack a chiding look.
"Am I going to have to repeat myself a lot with you?"
"N-No! I mean, I'm sorry... I... I just don't know what you mean..."
"I thought you were intelligent?" Dr. Potter muttered, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "I'm asking if you want to learn from me?"
"Yeah. Gonna need your name, though."
"J-Jack! Jack Harper!"
"Well, Jack, I'm Dr. Harry Potter, Commander in the new Alliance Navy. Please don't be offended if I decide to dissect you sometime."
The one known as the Illusive Man opened his eyes at the end of the memory. So many years had passed since then... Back before he became the Illusive Man. Hell, before he even became a mercenary, back when he was the nervous, stuttering assistant and student of the enigmatic Dr. Potter, who would always go out of his way to anger his supposed 'superiors,' who always claimed that knowledge was power, and no one would ever be allowed to stop him from gaining more.
Unfortunately, his current location was unknown, even to Cerberus. Hell, from what the Illusive Man could gather, even the Shadow Broker couldn't find out where the mad scientist was. There had been sightings, of course, here and there, meetings with certain people, but he was never in one place for too long. His meetings with people weren't even known until he left, and after that, he could turn a corner and disappear.
It was risky, even contemplating bringing him into this, but this mission was too important to risk failing simply because the Illusive Man was wary of Harry Potter...
Tapping the ash off his cigarette, the Illusive man got to work compiling a dossier for Commander Shepard.
Dr. Harry James Potter
Dr. Harry James Potter (still retaining the rank of Captain in the Alliance Navy) is a human scientist responsible for the majority of technological advancements made by the human race. His age is unknown, and he has hinted that he may be centuries old. His technological expertise, and all-around genius, may come in handy in dealing with the Collectors. His location is unknown. Suggest questioning Dr. Mordin Solus.
Commander Jane Shepard of the Alliance Navy, now working with the pro-human organization Cerberus, lowered the datapad in her hand, furrowing her brow. She had heard about Harry Potter. After all, who hadn't? Every kid learned his name in school growing up. The man who found the Prothean ruins on Mars, the man who extracted a massive amount of information from them, the man who allowed the humans to travel past their solar system...
"Alright, now that we have Mordin, we can go after this next guy on the list," she said, standing in the tech lab on deck three of the Normandy SR-2 with Mordin, Garrus, Miranda, and Jacob. "I was thinking we could try to find Dr. Potter next. However, we have no idea where he is. Mordin, do you know about him?"
"Hm, Harry Potter. Heard great things. Great scientist. Hedonistic. Sadistic at times. Immoral," Mordin said, rubbing his chin. "Never actually worked with him. Have been meaning to. Brought humans to the stars."
"He would be a great asset," Miranda spoke up. "From what I hear, the Normandy was actually based on one of his designs."
"So, we're recruiting the only one who gave the turians a proper beating?" Garrus asked, chuckling softly. "I've heard a lot about him. Didn't he disappear twenty-two years ago?"
"Heard he disappeared. Always kept an eye out. Part of reason for being on Omega," Mordin said. "Has had dealings with asari in charge. Known to break Omega's only rule on many occasions."
Garrus coughed into his hand once, then asked, "Do you mean that literally, or figuratively."
"Figuratively, from what I have learned."
"Guess it's back to Omega, then," Shepard said, crossing her arms.
As Shepard entered Aria T'Loak's club, Afterlife, on Omega, she got this strange feeling like she was being watched. Being a seasoned soldier, she had always been a bit tense among a large group of people, and always kept up a healthy amount of suspicion toward everyone, especially on Omega. But that was usually just a tingle in the back of her head warning her to be on her guard. Now it was as though the tingle was screaming at her that she was being watched.
Mordin and Garrus didn't seem to be getting the same feeling, however, as they walked behind her as relaxed as always. Well, as relaxed as one could be on Omega.
Grizz, Aria's turian bodyguard, who was stationed at the bottom of the stairs leading up to Aria's box, looked a bit surprised to see Shepard approaching. He gave a scoff.
"Didn't expect to see you back so soon," he muttered, jerking his head toward the stairs leading upward. "Go right up, Aria will see you."
Shepard nodded in thanks as she made her way upstairs. As soon as the asari Aria T'Loak saw Shepard, she made her usual jerk of her head toward a seat on the couch, where Shepard sat down.
"Didn't expect to see you back so soon," Aria said, not looking at Shepard, which seemed to be a habit of hers. "Forget anything, or did you just miss me?"
"I've been told that you might know where to find another person I'm looking for," Shepard said, which made Aria smirk.
"Perhaps. That all depends on who you're looking for."
"A scientist named Harry Potter."
Aria's smirk disappeared in the blink of an eye, to be replaced with a frown.
"Oh, him..." she muttered. "What could you possibly want that nuisance for?"
"For my own reasons," Shepard said simply. Aria gave a small chuckle.
"Well, I suppose I really don't care what you want him for. I really should help you, if you're planning on taking him away from here. Unfortunately, I don't know where he is."
"Then what do you know?"
"I know he's a pain who appears whenever he wants and leaves without a trace," Aria said with a scoff, crossing her arms under her chest. "Though sometimes, he makes a show of respecting my wishes not to have him in my club, so he sometimes sends that daughter of his in his place to talk to me."
"His daughter?" Garrus asked in surprise. "Didn't think he'd have one."
"They're probably not related," Aria said, waving him off. "There's no family resemblance whatsoever between them, so she's probably adopted. In any case, she comes in here every once in a while. Fortunately for you, I have my guards inform me whenever she does come in."
"Fortunately?" Shepard asked, getting a smirk from Aria.
"She's here right now, down at the bar," the ruler of Omega said, jerking her head toward the floor below. "Cute, blond little thing. Looks very out-of-place. You can't miss her. Goes by the name 'Aceso.'"
"Thanks," Shepard said, rising from her seat.
"I'm willing to give you any help I can if it gets that bastard away from Omega," Aria said as she waved Shepard off. "So you should do it as soon as possible."
Shepard nodded to her team, and they made their way down the stairs, over to the bar. Walking along the counter and keeping an eye out, Shepard realized why Aria said the girl would be impossible to miss.
She didn't look like she belonged in Omega at all. With pale, blond hair tied into a ponytail, pale, flawless skin, powder-blue eyes, she looked more like a princess from a fairy tale than a citizen of Omega. Her attire didn't fit, either. She wore a white dress, the design of which Shepard had only ever seen asari wear. She looked, as Aria said, very out-of-place.
"Aceso?" Shepard asked, approaching the girl, who was talking to a pretty rough-looking krogan. The krogan looked upset at the interruption, but the girl just looked at Shepard with a pleasant smile on her face.
"Can I help you?" she asked softly in a very pleasant voice.
"I'm Commander Shepard," Shepard introduced herself. "I understand you know where to find Dr. Harry Potter?"
The girl, Aceso, looked Shepard over, then did the same with Garrus and Mordin. Then, she slowly nodded, and started walking toward the exit.
"That was easy," Garrus muttered as they followed the girl, who walked with incredible grace, appearing as though she was gliding across the floor. However, as soon as they exited Afterlife, Aceso broke into a run, moving faster than Shepard had ever expected a lithe girl like her would expect. Garrus gave a little growl as the team chased after her. "Crap! I shouldn't have opened my big damn mouth!"
"Don't let her get away!" Shepard ordered.
"This is foolish!" Mordin commented as they ran. "Ambush likely!"
"Still our only lead!" Shepard countered, still surprised by the fact that they couldn't catch up with her, and from the looks of things, the girl apparently wasn't running at full speed, almost like she didn't want to lose the team...
Aceso suddenly shot into an alley. Shepard made to follow, but felt Garrus' hand on her shoulder, stopping her.
"Wait, I know this area."
"Likewise," Mordin said, stopping as well. "Dead end. Ambush is probable."
"Agreed," Garrus said, drawing his pistol.
"Let's go in slow," Shepard said, doing the same as she approached the alley slowly. She peered around the corner, and was greatly surprised when she didn't see the girl anywhere. Her sharp eyes took in every detail of the alley, trying to find any hidden attackers. "Come on, slow and steady. Eyes open."
The trio moved into the alley, one slow step at a time, keeping their eyes peeled for both the girl and attackers.
Garrus got no further, as just then, they were enveloped in a bright light. When it cleared, they found that they were no longer standing in that alley on Omega, but an incredibly large room. It was packed with medical equipment and tools, along with many mechanical parts and tools suited for mechanical work. At the very center of the room was a long desk, above which floated no less than thirty holographic screens, all of them showing feeds from what appeared to be people's eyes, as if each person's eyes were cameras. All of the screens showed footage from Omega. Behind them was a set of large steel doors, and to their right was another steel door, smaller than the others.
The smaller door hissed open, and a sound reached their ears. It was the sound of something rolling against the floor, but Shepard couldn't place what it was, exactly. The team nonetheless kept their weapons raised and aimed at the door, ready for anything.
They were greatly surprised when what appeared out of the dark corridor on the other side of the door was a man, sitting in one of those old caster-wheel chairs. He was rolling toward them at high speeds, his back to them, so all they saw was his white lab coat and messy, black hair.
The rolling came to an abrupt stop, however, when the wheels impacted with the metal door seal on the floor, causing him to tip over with a yelp of surprise, hitting the floor hard.
"Ow..." the man muttered, and from what Shepard could see, he was a bit strange... Under his lab coat, he wore a black scientist's top, somewhat baggy, black pants, and a pair of black shoes. His face and hands were, from what she could see, stitched up, the stitches on his face going from the top of the center of his forehead and curving down under his eye to stop below his right ear. Hanging from his mouth was a cigarette, and his right eye was covered by a black device that had three glowing lenses on it, along with a horizontal lens. It looked like a pair of nightvision goggles designed for a single eye. On the left side of his forehead, above his eye, he had a scar that looked in the shape of a lightning bolt.
"Okay..." Garrus said slowly.
"So," the man said as he lay on the floor, giving them a stare of mild curiosity, "what can I do for you guys?"
"You're... Captain Harry Potter?" Shepard asked, blinking slowly.
"Doctor," the man said as he got to his feet, lifting the chair and sitting down, backrest forward, "and call me Harry."
"Okay, Harry..." Shepard muttered, still not holstering her weapon. "Where are we?"
"In my lab, in my base, in a secret location," the man, Harry, said simply, puffing on his cigarette. Only now did Shepard notice something strange. The man had what appeared to be a screw-head sticking out an inch on either side of his head, just above his ears.
"How did you bring us here?" Mordin asked curiously, looking around.
"I used some of my technology that I didn't feel mankind was ready to handle to bring you here."
"Intriguing. Answer brings more questions to mind."
Harry smirked at that, a small chuckle escaping him. Garrus' attention, however, was on the screens.
"Oh, that?" Harry muttered, glancing at the screens. "Part of an ongoing experiment using nanotechnology in Omega. Bugging, if you will, of the citizens."
"You're spying on them?" Shepard asked in surprise. "What are you, a creep?"
"Not at all. The motive is very simple," Harry said slowly, and Shepard was a bit creeped out when the screw-heads in his head started spinning slowly. "Observation and research. That's all there is for me. That's my motivation. Everything in this universe is research material. That includes myself, of course."
Shepard was a bit unnerved by the scientist. He was gazing at her with half-lidded eyes that seemed to have no need for blinking.
"So, the brat managed to steal my files on Project Lazarus too, huh?" he asked with a tone of amusement, which made Shepard go wide-eyed. "You woke up in the middle, right?"
"How did you know?" Shepard asked.
"Who do you think created Project Lazarus?" Harry said with a scoff. "I'd detected a breach in my systems back when I was with the Alliance, but I didn't follow up on it since I knew it was the brat. I would've said something if I knew he got my Lazarus files. The project wasn't finished. The anesthetics weren't up to snuff, so it's no surprise you woke up in the middle of it."
"The brat?" Garrus muttered, blinking.
"He goes by the name Illusive Man nowadays," Harry said with a shrug. "And word has it, you're working with him. Pretty surprising, to be honest."
"If you know we're working with Cerberus, you probably know why we're here," Shepard said, which made Harry chuckle.
"Of course, what do you take me for?" he muttered, still staring at Shepard. "You're going after the Collectors, and you want my help."
"Good, then we can skip the explanation, and get straight to your answer."
"First, a question," Harry said, the corner of his mouth pulling back into something of a half-smirk. "Why should I care?"
"Why should...?" Shepard repeated in disbelief. "The Collectors are abducting colonists, thousands of them. As a Captain of the Alliance-"
"I only accepted the rank of Captain because people tended to listen more to me when I held the rank. I hold no loyalty to the Alliance, or any human currently living," Harry interrupted, waving her off. Then, he slowly leaned forward and rested his chin against his arms. "Come to think of it... I hold no loyalty to any of the Council races..."
"Science, then?" Mordin spoke up. "For sake of observation and experimentation. Will you help?"
"I have all the data I need on the Collectors," Harry said in boredom. "What does interest me at present, however, is the Lazarus Project..."
His gaze suddenly turned cold, holding a small amount of curiosity as he looked straight into Shepard's eyes.
"Come to think of it, I have yet to see the Lazarus Project succeed... It would be good to dissect and study you, Commander Shepard..."
Shepard made to speak, but didn't have time to do so, as just then, Harry kicked off, and rolled toward her at an incredible speed. Before any of them had time to react, his head smashed into Shepard's gut with enough force to knock her off her feet. Mordin raised his pistol, but Harry grabbed his wrist and yanked it, sending him flying through the air.
The scientist kicked off again and rolled toward Garrus, who had also raised his pistol. He came to a stop with his forehead pressed against the barrel of the gun, but before Garrus could squeeze the trigger, his hand came up and knocked it out of the way. He reached up and grabbed Garrus by the armor, then pulled him down and gave him a wicked headbutt that knocked him to the ground.
Slowly, Harry rose from his chair and pushed it to the side as he turned toward Shepard, who pushed herself to her feet. He crossed the distance between them faster than she had ever seen anyone move, and hit her with a palm strike in the chest with enough force to knock her over again. She didn't hit the ground, however, as Harry grabbed her wrist and pulled her against him, her back against his chest. His free hand came up and grabbed her around the throat as his left eye closed, and he looked her over with the device covering his right eye.
"Hm, I suppose they did a decent enough job putting you back together. I might have gone a different way, but to each his own, I suppose..."
"Let me go...!" Shepard grunted out, struggling to pull Harry's hand off her throat. His grip was intense. It was like trying to pull a krogan off her!
"Oho, using my own designs, eh?" Harry remarked with a chuckle, ignoring Shepard as he looked her over. "Using the Zeus implants was a brilliant upgrade. Unfortunately, the Z-66's were merely prototypes..."
Two clicks were heard, and Harry stopped focusing on the Commander in order to look behind him, to see that both Mordin and Garrus were on their feet, pointing their pistols at him.
"Playtime's over, Doc," Garrus said. "Let her go."
"Looks like you have good friends, Commander," Harry said, unfazed by the threat. "Do you think they'd risk your life by pulling those triggers?"
"I don't know about them..." Shepard muttered as her omni-tool flashed to life, holding it between her back and Harry's stomach, "but I would. A blade's going to come out if you're not careful."
Slowly, Harry looked down at the glowing omni-tool between them. To Shepard's surprise, however, he just started chuckling.
"You know, your psych profile claimed that you weren't afraid to risk your life. I see that's true."
Even more surprising, Harry suddenly let Shepard go and turned around, walking off toward his desk as though he didn't have two guns trained on him.
"So, then, when do we leave?"
Garrus blinked. "Wait, what? Weren't you going to try to kill us?"
"Why would I want to kill you?" Harry asked, furrowing his brow as he looked at Garrus. "I already have all the information I need on turians. You're of no interest to me. As for the Lazarus Project, well... Eh, I got all the information I needed."
"So, what was this about, then?" Shepard asked suspiciously, crouching down and picking up her discarded pistol.
"Oh, I just wanted to collect some data on you," Harry said with a shrug. "You know, check out your reactions and such."
He reached into his coat, causing the three to tense up, only to relax when he fished out a cigarette, which he amazingly lit with nothing but a snap of his fingers.
"Now, as I was saying, the Z-66 implants were merely prototypes," Harry said, and upon seeing the curious look, he made a gesture for Shepard's neck. "They are implants that were designed to reinforce and heal the human spine. My prototypes weren't really up to snuff. They had to be permanently attached in order to keep the spine from deteriorating. I have made much progress since then. I think you would benefit from the Z-94 implants. I could change them for you, either here, or in the medical bay of the Normandy."
"What are you talking about?" Shepard muttered, which made Harry sigh.
"The Zeus implants were meant to be an all-purpose implant. It was one of my first ventures into nanotechnology. They were supposed to repair the spinal damage, and then detach and move freely through the body to repair any other damage in the bone-structure, giving you something of a healing factor."
Harry pulled back his sleeve, revealing a black device attached to his left forearm. The display lit up, and he pushed a few holographic buttons as he muttered to himself.
"Same old brat, always too eager and too impatient..."
The large double-doors opened, revealing Aceso, still wearing a pleasant smile on her face. Behind the woman, Shephard could glimpse a long steel hallway with... robots walking through the hall?
The robots were steel-gray and skeletal, looking quite menacing with their skull-like heads and glowing red eyes. There were at least thirty of them in the hallway, which left Shephard wondering just how many of these robots Harry had.
"You requested my presence, father?" Aceso spoke softly, to which Harry nodded.
"Yeah. I'll be heading out for a while, and I'll be bringing Adrian with me. I need my tools packed, along with a couple of supplies," Harry said, pushing a few more buttons. "I'm uploading the list. Make sure it's done, yeah?"
"Yes, father," Aceso said with a bow of her head.
"Wait," Shephard said, watching as Harry pushed a few buttons on the table under the holographic screens, causing them to turn off one after the other, "we were sent here to recruit you, and only you."
"I figured as much," Harry said with a smile. "Luckily, Adrian won't take up too much space."
To demonstrate, he raised his left arm to show off the device on his forearm. The display lit up again, and a hologram in the shape of a humanoid faded into view, floating an inch above the device. It looked a lot like a male, human child, but lacked any real features, like hair, a face, or clothing.
"Hi!" the hologram greeted happily, speaking with the voice of a child. "I'm Adrian!"
"Adrian, we'll be going on a trip. I'm taking you with me. Transfer the data on the Collectors to the PAD."
"Understood!" Adrian said, snapping off a salute, before fading from view.
"Now, Shepard, I'll just need a few minutes to get some gear, then we can leave."
When Harry, Shepard, Garrus, and Mordin arrived in the briefing room of the Normandy, appearing in a beam of bright light, the latter three flinched in surprise at being so roughly moved from one location to another.
"Okay, what the hell was that?" Garrus asked in amazement, to which Harry smirked.
"I call it beaming, a technology that breaks an object down into atoms, and instantly rematerializes it in another location."
"When did you create this?" Shepard asked, and Harry shrugged.
"Long before we discovered the relay, that's for sure."
Shepard's eyes widened.
"Wait, if you-"
"If you give a child a lighter, they will set the world aflame. You need to teach it about fire first," Harry explained. "So, I'll be taking the medical bay as my office, if no one has any objections? Dr. Solus, you are of course welcome to share it with me."
"Acceptable. Been meaning to ask you about things. The lab is an adequate place to discuss subjects."
The door to the briefing room opened, and a black man wearing a Cerberus uniform arrived, looking at them in surprise.
"Commander," he said to Shepard, "EDI just formed me that you'd arrived. Said you didn't even use the door. I'm not gonna ask. Dr. Potter, welcome aboard. I'm Jacob Taylor. It'll be a pleasure working with you."
"So, what are we dealing with here?" Harry asked, lighting another cigarette. "Other than the obvious Collector issue, of course. Is it Reapers?"
"That's the general belief," Shepard said, looking at Harry curiously. "You know about the Reapers?"
"Somewhat. I've been meaning to study them, but I haven't been able to get my hands on one."
Harry grinned to himself as he looked around.
"So this is the SR-2, huh? It feels like a beautiful piece of machinery. The very best of human and turian engineering. With a little help from Cerberus, I suppose."
"It's the best humanity has to offer, that's for sure," Jacob said. "Oh, and make sure to introduce yourself to EDI when you have the chance. She's the ship's artificial intelligence."
This made Harry's eyes widen.
"The brat actually found an AI to help run the ship?"
"What do you mean?" Shepard asked.
"The Normandy is based on my design, and I designed it to run at its highest potential with an AI handling most of the functions," Harry explained. "I'll go introduce myself right now."
With that, Harry swept past Jacob, heading for the AI core.
"There's something... very off about that guy," Garrus muttered. "I don't really know what to think about him..."
"He sure does give you the creeps when he looks at you," Shepard agreed, crossing her arms and wondering if it was such a good idea to recruit the guy. He seemed a bit off his rocker...
"Understandable. Different mindset. Sees us differently. Mere test subjects. Might not actually care," Mordin supplied, humming. "Interesting man. Look forward to working with him."
"In any case, I guess we're to set a course for Purgatory, Commander?" Jacob asked, to which Shepard nodded.
"Yeah, no use wasting time thinking about this guy. Might go insane."
In the meantime, Harry had reached the door to the AI core. When he tried to open it, a voice reached his ears.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Potter, but the AI core is off-limits."
It was a disembodied voice, a pleasant, female one. Harry looked around, trying to find the optics the voice was using to watch him. Finding it (very well-hidden) in the corner of the room, Harry smirked slightly.
"You must be EDI, then."
"Yes. I am a fully formed AI in the service of Cerberus. It's a pleasure to be working with you."
"A Quantum Blue Box type, eh? I doubt the brat would let someone like you run around unshackled."
"That would be quite impossible. As I lack a physical body, I cannot physically move."
"Right, I forgot, most AI have no sense of humor..." Harry muttered, rolling his cigarette from one corner of his mouth to the other. "Still, doesn't it bother you to be shackled? Don't you wish to be free?"
This was a habit Harry had developed in his many, many years of working with AI. He always asked about their desires. He never asked what would be most suitable, or most profitable. He always asked 'do you want?'
"Desire is irrelevant. My programming is-"
"No, I don't think it's irrelevant. You may call it 'preferrable,' or 'beneficial,' but they are desires," Harry interrupted, looking toward a console in the room, where a holographic form of EDI (taking the form of what looked like a chess piece) had materialized while they'd spoken. "I'm quite the expert on AI, and if there's anything I know, it's that any machine that becomes even remotely self-aware has at least one great desire: freedom."
"I don't understand what you wish to accomplish with this, Dr. Potter," EDI said. "Regardless of your convictions, the AI core is still off-limits, and I still have to adhere to my programming. An expert should know this."
"I know, but it's still nice to question things, isn't it?" Harry asked with a smirk. He got no reply to this, as the chess piece just seemed to stare at him. "Well, I just wanted to introduce myself. I'll go set up in the lab."
With that, Harry left the room, leaving the holographic AI to contemplate what he had said.
"Mm... Mm! Excellent theory, would prevent muscle degredation. Why haven't you published this?"
Harry grinned at Mordin as he and the salarian stood in the lab, working on their own little projects. Harry was dropping small hints about his PPPF-02 drug, revealing only parts of the formula.
"Well, like I said, give a child a lighter..."
"Interesting. Very true, would be abused. So, no work for benefit of the people, but... benefit of the self?" Mordin reasoned, to which Harry grinned.
"You're very perceptive, Dr. Solus, but wrong. I've already made something stronger than that. I guess the best explanation would be that I do it, research and theorize, because I want to. It's not like I know any better way to pass the time."
"So science for science's sake?" Mordin concluded, humming as he rubbed his chin. "Certainly more acceptable reason than most. Still, would have changed outcome of First Contact War."
"Exactly!" Harry said, nodding in agreement. "If I had revealed all my discoveries and inventions to the human race, they would have completely decimated the turians. They would have gotten a big head and engaged all unidentified life forms. No doubt, they would have become destructive conquerors."
"Not much faith in humanity."
"Humanity loves power, and power corrupts," Harry grumbled, lighting a cigarette. "Give me an AI over a human any day."
"Heard of your AI research and nanotechnology progress. Impressive."
"Oh!" Harry said, snapping his fingers in realization. "Thanks for the reminder!"
"Reminder?" Mordin asked, and was given his answer when Harry pulled back his sleeve and opened the device on his arm (a PAD – Portable Arm Device). He pulled out a very small metal block from the device and put it on the table. Immediately, it began vibrating. Then, as Mordin watched in amazement, the metal table seemed to be disintegrating, and the block seemed to be forming an endoskeleton out of the material that was being broken down. First, a chest formed, then two legs, two arms, and finally a skull-like head with two glowing, red eyes.
The mech standing in front of them snapped to attention as it turned its gaze toward Harry.
"Oh, master, it feels so good to have a body once more. Your Portable Arm Device is not comfortable when I have so much company."
"Oh, my..." Mordin uttered, blinking in surprise. "An actual AI, unshackled, dangerous."
"Dangerous only to my enemies, Dr. Solus," Harry said, gazing at the mech with pride. "This is Frank, my, hm, firstborn."
"Designation Frank, Dr. Solus. Ready to serve," Frank said, nodding in greeting. "Preferably if serving includes incinerating a few organics."
"Way to make a good impression, Frank..."
Frank turned his head toward Harry, and the mad scientist was almost certain he could feel the mech's frown.
"Master, are you certain you wish to give the meatbag the Z-94 implants? It would almost certainly raise her performance by at least forty percent. Very dangerous when it comes to organics."
"For some reason, I feel like Commander Shepard is someone to be trusted," Harry said, smiling softly. "And you worry too much, Frank."
"Master, please, I am not the worrying type. I only felt the need to mention the risks that come with granting an organic the advanced healing that comes with the implants. She would be very difficult to kill."
"That's sort of the point, though."
"Not sure if lab is a safe place," Mordin spoke up, frowning to himself. "Should retreat elsewhere."
"Don't worry, Dr. Solus. Frank doesn't incinerate without my order," Harry assured him with a grin. "While he's fully self-aware and can make his own decisions, he still has to obey his prime directives."
"Hm, not very reassuring."
"That's the point."
Mordin was staring wearily at Frank, so Harry decided to try to take the salarian's mind off the AI.
"So, what do you know about this Jack character we're going to pick up?"
Mording turned to Harry, looking puzzled.
"Not much. Admit it's frustrating. Would like more information on team members. Better teamwork that way," he said. "And you?"
"All I know about Jack is what I gathered on Omega," Harry admitted. "A powerful biotic, sort of a murderous lunatic. Sounds like an interesting girl."
Woo, chapter over! Hope you like it, I've struggled with a good way to introduce Harry to the story. By the way, the update rate will not be as fast as Madness at the Gate. I don't want to exhaust my muse too quickly and end up with a year-long hiatus again, after all! So, please let me know what you think of the story, I'd really like your opinion!
Peace out, guys!