The Primecronos: Opsec? I could delve deeeep into this. Very deep. Let me know how far you want me to delve.
Pteaset: I have to be honest, I've stopped reading ME fics for a while, I think I read a good majority of them. At the moment I'm reading "Daisy'
Run, a clockwork chimaera'. Its paid for, and AI positive, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the series. Book 4 goes a bit too far out there for my tasting though.
tom476ty18: Divide and conquer is the name of the game. Why should Earth keep the Relays is going to be a considerable part of this.
jmsdragn: Sorry, not sorry. Yes, it boosts the word count but also allows me to interact with you guys. I get internet irregularly so when I get it I prefer to respond all at once. It takes me 1 min to upload this, multiple responses takes time and bandwidth. There has been instances where I have been weeks between internet so I Imagine you would prefer an upload to multiple responses.
Rydan fall: I think your onto something, but think more Human, and what our limitations are.
For Tevos, time comes to a near stop as she hears the unmistakable crack of a weapon fill the air. Her first instinct was simply to stop walking as her mind battles the flight or fight drive; she quickly reasons that if someone is firing a weapon, it will likely be at herself. Assassinate the Turian Councillor, and a replacement would be stepped up in a matter of hours, assassinate the Salarian representative, and their government is adaptable enough to have a replacement ready in days. If she was to be assassinated, the Matriarchs would toil and argue for months, even years, over who should replace her. Irissa can stand in temporarily, but till confirmed as the next Councillor from the Matriarch Council, her powers would be severely limited, making her nothing more than a witness to Council business.
In truth, it is widely known she is the most vulnerable member of the Council, so the Asari spend a ridiculous amount of resources to ensure her safety.
As time marches forward, Tevos comes to the realisation that it is not her who has been shot, but the red spray and falling Human to her side tells her the actual victim. As the blood is spraying in front of her, Tevos knows the shot originated from behind her, so turning around, she looks for the threat. The threat is no longer a danger as multiple Turians from the Honour Guard have moved to jump on one of their own. Knowing the assassin poses no more risk to life, Tevos looks back to her Human, who is now on the floor, laying on her back while tearing a sleeve off her shirt.
Tevos has to give Shepard credit; there is a horrifically large wound in her abdomen with a catastrophic amount of blood loss, yet she does not look afraid. No, Shepard instead looks angry; her cybernetics have given her a horrific red glow.
Kneeling down, Tevos goes to help but stops herself to ask, "Shepard, how can I help?"
Shepard does not give a verbal response; instead, she uses one hand to push her scrumpled-up sleeve onto her wound and the other to pull her phone out of her pocket. Tevos looks to the phone out of curiosity; why would the Human get this device out?
"Councillor," The phone says, using a voice that is distinctly Shepards. "I can't speak; doing so will accelerate the blood loss."
"How are you..." Tevos responds.
"I'm Shepard AI." The phone responds, cutting her off. "I'm losing too much blood; hold my wound." Tevos pauses for a split second before doing as told, allowing physical Shepard to tear her other sleeve off, "You need to roll me over," Shepards AI then says, "Put this on the entry wound. Stem the blood loss" The physical Shepard holds her other sleeve in a shaky hand.
By now, a few of Tevos's secret service guards from the Citadel have reached her and are ready to protect her, but Tevos has a different idea in mind. "Help me turn her over." She instructs in her native tongue. Two of the guards do not hesitate and help, but one remains on guard duties. Shepard is quickly turned onto her side, where one of the guards then holds the sleeve on the wound, but it is a losing battle. "What now?" Tevos asks in Prothean.
"Two things. Ask a human for Omni-Gel. It is in our medical kits. But I am losing too much blood, I will need a transfusion from Jess Cartright." Shepards AI is designed to help stem blood loss from a bullet wound, but when faced with the reality of an object the size of a grain of sand moving at a small % of the speed of light, from close range, it is like a 50 cal moving through her body; deadly and devastating. The fact she is still alive is a testament to her augmented survivability on its own; any other natural Human would already have succumbed. If she was in her armour, she would have a range of tools available to keep her alive, but out here in the far depths of alien space, wearing nothing but civilian clothes, the AI can only try to stem the blood loss by blocking arteries and veins which is harder done than said.
As more people arrive, Tevos quickly gives them tasks: find the 'Omni-Gel', another to find Jess Cartright, another to get a doctor from the ship with blood transfusion kits, and another to find some form of privacy cover. Hopefully, the transfusion requirements are the same for Asari as it is for Humans; otherwise, Shepard may be in even bigger trouble than she is already in.
"Councillor," The AI then says, "My biological part is about to pass out; I do not have long." Tevos does not understand every translated word, but she got the gist, and to her, the AI may ever so slightly sound distressed.
For some reason, Tevos decided to comfort the dying Human by stroking her hair, not her head. "Help is coming," She says, "Hold on." It is only seconds after that the Human relinquishes her grip on the conscious world. The large streams of red blood running down the docking ramp now are another indicator of how much danger her Human is in.
Seeing this, one of Tevos's guards says, "Councillor, she has gone, we must go."
"She is not dead yet." Tevos snaps back at the guard.
A few critical moments later, a panting Turian arrives, holding a small metal container, 5 cm in diameter by 10 cm deep. "Put the gel in the wound." The AI instructs, "More in my front than the back."
"How much?" Tevos asks.
"All of it." The AI says, "This is enough for deep cuts and scrapes, not battlefield injuries." Tevos does not flounder; she rips the tin of the lid off and is quick to spread the gel inside the wound; while gruesome, she understands the necessity of it. The effects are almost immediate as the blood loss slows and damaged flesh start to morph into live tissue. "Incredible," Tevos gasps.
"Yes." The AI responds, "Omni-Gel has saved my life many times, but I have lost too much blood; I need the transfusion, and I need it now. I have just passed 38% blood loss; a cardiac arrest will occur at 50%."
Tevos grimaces before looking up and around her to assess the situation; in truth, she just wants to find someone to shout at in a vain effort to hurry things up. It is only now that Tevos notices a reporter has also been shot, the bullet that hit Shepard having hit them too, but they are not receiving the same level of care.
Hearing heavy footsteps, Tevos looks to the source and notes one of the ship's doctors approaching; behind them, a Human still profoundly sick from radiation poisoning is being dragged by two other Asari. As the doctor arrives, she says, "I got the kit."
"Point my phone's display at the equipment so I can see." The AI says.
Tevos does not delay in pointing the phone. "It's compatible." The AI then says, seeing that the kit is almost identical to a Human blood transfusion kit, "Put the donor needle to Cartright's left arm; I will direct."
The doctor does as told, resulting in the AI saying, "Up, up left, left, down, up, insert, insert, insert, stop. When blood leaves the far needle, do the same to my left arm. I will direct again." The AI does not care to explain that the blood leaving the needle indicates there is no air in the system, which could provide its own issues.
Just as the privacy cover is being placed around Shepard to stop any prying eyes, the AI speaks again, "I am now receiving blood from Mrs Cartwright. Chances of survival have been greatly increased." There is a long pause before the AI speaks again, "Thank you." It then says.
Tevos blinks in acceptance of the thanks before looking down at the wound, which is now significantly smaller than the initial injury; the healing technology proves to be a wonder to herself. With more medical staff in attendance, Tevos realises it is time to step back, so she stands up and looks around; during the midst of trying to save the Humans life, the Turian guard that caused this chaos has been dragged away, destined for a Spectre torture house. The paparazzi that turned out for the arrival has now been forced away; only the lifeless corpse of a Turian lays on the floor where the crowd had gathered, a small medical team now closing down the scene. Looking down to the medics, she asks, "Do you need any further help?" The Medics signal they do not, so Tevos begins walking down the ramp, and her security service starts following closely, but she stops to direct that a few of them stay with the Human.
As Tevos continues to walk down the ramp, she notices her Salarian and Turian counterparts approach the bottom of the ramp. When Tevos arrives at the bottom of the ramp, it is Sparatus who speaks first, saying, "Long time no see, but I've always said you have been followed by excitement." Tevos flashes him a brief smile.
"Understatement of the decade." Valern says, "Glad you are well, dealing with Irissa has been... vexatious."
Tevos takes a split second to look around before saying, "Despite recent events, it is good to be home. I hope you have made arrangements while I was busy?"
"A wing is being prepared at your private estate." Sparatus replies with a flare of his mandibles, "How do you think the Humans will deal with this when they find out?"
"They will already know," Tevos informs, "The Human shot is part AI; she has an instant communication network that has most likely told her people of what has happened." Sparatus breathes deeply with this news, allowing Tevos to ask, "I hope we have a discrete way of transporting her?"
"CSEC medical corps have been mobilised," Sparatus reveals, "And there is medical transportation waiting nearby. All it requires is someones say, and they will land where we are standing now."
Tevos shows visible relief before saying, "Good good." There is a noticeable change of emotion on Tevos's face before she says, "Now, I see you have been busy in my absence. Sparatus, expect my formal objection to your warship tomorrow; consider this a friendly heads up." This conversation does not last long till Tevos removes herself from the conversation, leaving Sparatus and Valern on the dock alone.
"She went straight back into business," Sparatus says caustically.
"That Asari is entirely business-related." Valern states, "Did you expect anything less?"
"The least she could have said is thank you for sending a fleet?" Sparatus says sarcastically as the two remaining Councillors head towards an awaiting transport.
"Is this how I should expect you to talk about me behind my back?" Playfully asks Valern.
"Yes," Sparatus replies honestly, showing his blunt nature that sometimes comes through. "And you already know that I do."
"True true," Replies the Salarian, "I particularly like your scorn of 'Fraq person'."
"Do you deny it?"
"It's technically the truth," Valern replies, "But a great insult. I had a good laugh, the type that makes the souls of your feet ache."
"And this is why I like you Valern," Sparatus says while playfully punching the Salarian on the arm, "You know how the game works."
Two days later, Tevos has an Asari spectre standing at the bottom of her desk; this Spectre is not the type you send on combat missions, but rather assignments that require a special touch in information gathering by unethical means. "If you are here," Tevos starts to summarise, "You know why he did it?"
"Yes," The Spectre blinks, "Want the short version or the long version?"
Tevos considers for a moment before responding, "The short version will do, and I will ask questions when they arise."
The Spectre blinks once more before starting to recite what she has found, "The guard, Marcellus Ceres has a family, a partner and two children, who live with him on the Citadel. His family was tied up with plastic explosives. If he didn't shoot the Human, he lost his family."
"So," Tevos replies before asking the obvious, "Who tied up his family?"
The Spectre produces an image on her omni-tool. "This Salarian. His alias is Anaxyrus Boreas Halophilus. We know him to be an active operative for the Shadow Broker."
Tevos leans back into her chair as she fiddles with a pen, while the Shadow Broker is open to many different types of jobs, if you have the money for it, the Broker has never directly targeted the Council; doing so would result in a ruthless hunt for it. After a moment, Tevos says, "This wasn't the Brokers work."
"I must admit to having doubts." The Spectre agrees, "None of this is its style."
"Do we know the..." Tevos silences a buzzer on her desk that indicates her PA has information for her, "...Location of this Salarian now?"
"Left the Citadel the moment Marcellus completed the job. Records show his charted craft is heading to Illium, but I have discovered the records were forged on closer inspection. We do not know where the craft is heading."
"I want him found," Tevos says before dismissing the Spectre. After a few moments to think things over Tevos leans forward and calls her PA that had buzzed her a few moments ago, "You rang?" She asks.
"Councilor," Begins the aid, "Your Human is showing signs of consciousness. She should be awake any time now."
"According to who?" Asks Tevos.
"Her device." The aid says.
"Prepare my transport," Tevos says before pressing a few keys on her physical keyboard to make sure her work document is saved. Tevos knows she should stay and continue work; she has a lot to catch up on, but Shepard is a part of her estate, the attack on Shepard was an attack on her, and she has a personal responsibility to look after her Human.
Arriving at her estate a short time later her doctor greets her, "Peitho, your Human is now awake."
Tevos allows a small smile with the news, "I hope all is well?"
"She was angry on awakening," The doctor says, "Scarily so, but she is now entertained by her device."
"Nothing for me to be worried about?" Tevos has a slight hunch that the Human could have an angry streak in her.
"Maybe," The doctor says, "Since she has come in, I've performed a few in-depth scans on her, and I think you should be aware of how much modification this Human has endured. She is more of a cyborg than a biological being. Asari black ops don't even come close to this type of modification."
"I'm well aware." Tevos lets the doctor know, "She is a Human soldier with some disturbing enhancements; most of which would be illegal in Citadel space. I would best advise that the scans you have taken are kept under encryption. Have you made any other observations?"
The doctor blinks, "Something is going on in her brain, despite her being unconscious; it's like something is active in there; we are picking up a lot of electrical activity."
"I can only guess, but I would imagine that is her AI. I suggest you keep that bit of information to yourself."
"Of course, Matriarch." The doctor replies obediently.
Tevos leaves her personal doctor and enters the room where the Human has been residing for the last two days, and upon her entering, the Human looks up, "I know you. How're things?"
Tevos raises a brow, "Well, but I do not believe I am at risk here."
"No." The Human chuckles a little, "But you did save my life. I...I am not good at this, so I'll say it as it is. Thank you for saving my life."
Tevos considers a diplomatic response before she gets a better idea and says, "Shepard?"
Tevos considers her words before then saying, "Of Athena." The saying is lost on Shepard, so Tevos clarifies, "I did what any person would."
Shepard is silent for a second before speaking, "That is comforting news, but I know everything you did; I know how everything happened. You saved my life."
Tevos starts to look slightly uncomfortable, so Shepard asks, "Can you help me to my feet?"
"Is that wise?" Asks Tevos, eyeing the bandages around Shepard's midriff, which hide a nasty wound still healing.
"Yes." Shepard says, "While that sight is something, I need to get up and on my feet. I'll go mad otherwise." The room Shepard is situated on has a rather pretty view of the Citadels docks; from here, Shepard can see all the vessels arriving and departing.
Tevos considers for a moment more before saying, "I do not want to risk hastening things from excitement."
"I can hack it." Shepard says with some misplaced confidence.
"No." Tevos replies forcefully, "You need rest, please."
"Ah well, guess I'll have to do it myself," Shepard responds. The Human then begins to roll out of bed, before landing on her feet and looking unsteady.
Tevos rushes to her side, "Shepard, do not rush this." She scolds. "Just two days ago, you had a hole the size of a pulb in your stomach."
"I'm a marine." Shepard replies with tremendous amounts of defiance. By now, Shepard is on her own two feet, supporting most of her weight; the 10% not supported is held up by Tevos and a hand on the medical bed behind her. "So, where are we?" Shepard asks.
"My home." Tevos answers while fuming at her Human, "And I would appreciate not holding you up any longer than necessary." By now, a few extra doctors have walked into the room and are trying to help, but the language barrier is a very real obstacle.
Shepard takes a few shaky steps forward before her weight causes her to collapse, not even Tevos could hold the 130kg human up, and her fall almost causes Tevos to collapse with her. "Shepard, you are rushing things." Tevos half hisses at the Human just barely held off the floor. "My doctors will put you back to bed, where you will stay." A few of the Asari gathered in the room are quick to rush into action.
"Your doctors?" Shepard asks from the floor as she is slowly and gently picked up.
"Yes." Tevos answers with some hidden anger, "As mentioned, you are in my home; these.." Tevos gestures to those who have gathered in the room, and those helping Shepard from the floor, "Are my doctors. Some of the best money can afford."
After a while, Shepard is back in her bed, her weight was a true challenge for the medical staff to contend with, she weighs more like a heavy Turian. Once Shepard is back in her bed, Tevos and her Human are left alone, letting Tevos say, "Shepard, as amazing as your recovery has been, you still have time left."
There is a defeated sigh released from the Human before Shepard says, "I guess I just proved that."
"Then you will stay in bed?" Tevos asks.
"I will." Shepard admits. "For now."
"Good," Tevos says, before changing subjects, "You will be glad to know we got the one responsible for this."
"The shooter or the bank roller?" Shepard asks, being wise enough to know that whoever wanted her dead was unlikely to do it themselves.
"The shooter. He was put into a situation where he could shoot you, or his family would be killed. We are searching for the one who put him in that difficult position."
The two spend some time discussing what had actually happened before Tevos excused herself, knowing how much work was still piled up for her to contend with.
Tevos pinches her nose before standing up in her private study in her estate, the Human is constantly proving to be an awful patient, worse than a Turian, but not as bad as a Krogan. Leaving her study Tevos finds Shepard holding herself up on a wall a small distance from her medical room.
"Don't say it," Shepard says as she notices Tevos approach.
Tevos breaths out deeply before suppressing any comments regarding how the Human should still be bed-bound; after a few seconds to contemplate, she says, "Are you not in pain?"
"I can suppress pain easily enough." Shepard reveals, "Part of my AI's functions, but it doesn't mean I can't feel it."
"Yet here you are aggravating your wound."
"I would rather have an aggregated wound and not be in there," Shepard says while half pointing back to the medical room, "And I need a shower; I still have blood on me."
Tevos has to admit, the Human is starting to stink a little, so she makes a decision, "I will help you to the showers, but you will return afterwards."
After a few moments, Shepard nods her head, "Deal, also, I have something you may want to see." Shepard pulls her phone out of her pocket and displays a video of four humans discussing on podiums, but they look like they are in a heated argument. "They are talking about the transport devices and if we should power them back up, or dismantle it."
The conversation is not in Prothean, so Tevos can not understand the arguments, but she can see it is heated, "Seems like this is going to become my permanent home." Shepard tells with a concerned look. "It was a 5050 argument till I got shot." Shepard has to explain what 5050 means. "And now, well, people are starting to become increasingly isolationist. We have had shots at our homeworld, our fleet attacked, people abducted, and now my assassination attempt."
Tevos closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths to centre herself before opening her eyes to ask, "When will the decision be made?"
"There will be a public vote in 2 months," Shepard says, "54 Earth days from now. I've been asked to let you know. If I had to guess, it's probably to see if you wanted to partake in any debates, or Q&A's, tell the public why they should keep it."
"Your species likes producing me lots of work; you know this, right?"
Shepard nods as she says, "We are hard work."
"We know," Tevos replies, "But yes, the Council will want to take part in your debates, and we will participate in whatever this Q and A is. Please let your superiors know."
Shepard recognises the response before pushing herself off of the wall that has been supporting her, "Anyway, I'm clamming for a shower."
"This way," Tevos answers and starts to walk, but she slows down when she realises Shepard is walking very slowly and in an awkward manner that shows her discomfort. "We can get you a wheel..."
"No." Shepard answers back with some force, "I will not be wheeled around like an invalid or a downgraded MND biff."
Tevos is not too surprised by the strong response, considering everything she knows so far about the poor manners of the patient, "Downgraded MND biff?" She asks as she slowly walks with Shepard.
"Downgraded MND means downgraded from 'Fully Deployable' to 'Medically None Deployable'. Biff is just an insult that I probably shouldn't use, but I do." The word Biff has been used since 20th-century militaries; its use never fully stamped out but always passed from one generation of soldiers to the next. Many Human military terms can be traced back to similar stories.
After a while walking, Shepard has to stop at and hold herself up on a post, not out of breath, but to allow the discomfort settle a little. As she waits, she has to ask Tevos, "So everyone who has passed us is in your estate."
"Yes." Tevos blinks, "There are a few rare exceptions of partners, who are visitors and not invited to join, but everyone else here calls my estate home."
"We have passed about 15 people," Shepard answers, even though her AI tells her they have passed exactly 15 people, "Just how big is this estate?"
"351 People," Tevos informs. "Actually, since you are now here, this number rises to 352."
"Ah, only 352." Shepard says with heavy sarcasm before pushing herself off the wall again. After walking another 100 meters, Shepard comes across a wooden wall decorated with portraits; some are old oil paintings, some are photographs, next to the images are some weapons that correlate in age to how old the pictures look. One or two of the portraits, especially the older looking images, have missing weapons. "All of your family?" She asks Tevos.
"Yes and no," Tevos answers, "Powerful Matriarchs often show their power and wealth by buying a Guardian for their children, whose sole purpose is for that child's personal protection. These are all the Guardians of my bloodline and their weapon of choice. I would consider them family, but not by blood."
"You buy them? Like slaves?" Shepard inquires.
"The practice is questionable by today's standards," Tevos reluctantly admits, "They are forever in the service of the Matriarch and her child, but do not think of them as slaves. They are paid well, fed from the same plate, provided accommodation, given top-quality education, and their families are well looked after. Moreover, do not think of them as glorified servants; you would not send one to get a drink or scratch your back, but rather glorified bodyguards. Thus the high cost of having a guardian and the wealth status it provides."
"Do you have one? I haven't exactly seen a shadow following you." The idea of someone being a shadow needs to be explained.
Tevos blinks, but at the same time, she clenches her fists, "I did; she died 300 years ago. My first and only child does, however, have one."
"Sorry to hear it." Shepard answers as she looks at the various portraits, "So, will you 'buy' another one or...?"
"So this is why it's controversial by today's standards, the Guardian is to be younger than the Matriarchs child so that they never are of higher standing in the Matriarchs Council, yet they are also to be no younger than a year. As a guardian is assigned before the birth of a Matriarchs child, we buy children mothers have never met. If they die, they are never replaced."
Shepard thinks on the implications of this for a few moments before shrugging, "Well, I'll be honest, my culture wouldn't approve, but this isn't my culture."
"A lot of Asari do not approve either, including other Matriarchs of noticeable standing," Tevos reluctantly agrees, "But they rarely know the full details of the contracts; it is not something we like to publish due to the sensitive nature contained within. Despite earlier saying they are forever in the service of the Matriarch, the details are not so simple, a Guardian can leave and null the contract, but they forfeit family benefits and often ludicrous wages.
Eventually, Tevos has led Shepard to the nearest showers that she can use, and the Human starts to strip her medical robes, which reveal to Tevos the full extent of her life long injuries and cybernetics. Scars litter the Humans body, some small, some large, many are apparent war wounds that look deadly in their own right. The glowing cybernetics is also on full display; Tevos has seen the red glow in Shepard's eyes and down in her arms, but she did not think it would also be seen on the torso.
"Why do you glow like that?" Tevos asks, "Can't you turn it off?" She hopes she isn't intruding too much by asking the question.
"The more active they are, the more they glow," Shepard says as she struggles to pull off some socks, "The more I get pissed off, the more they glow and the more I want to intimidate someone the more they glow. Right now, they are all active suppressing pain, reproducing lost nano-tech, stimulating my immune system, supporting my movements with my loss of strength in the abdomen area and generally helping me heal. This amount of glowing is normal activity for them after large injuries, and I'm pissed off trying to get this yobanaya suka sock off." The Russian is not translated.
"Then they should be telling you to stay in bed." Tevos muses before helping the Human take their socks off.
Cheers for reading!