Chapter Twelve

Revan felt her danger sense tingle just as the door to "out-processing" slid open, revealing an empty containment cell. "Shepard," she warned, wrapping a hand around the grip of one of her lightsabers. It was almost a relief. She had known something was wrong from the moment they boarded the station, when the guards had tried to get them to hand over their weapons. Luckily Shepard had thought that was just as much of a bad idea as she did.

The commander sighed, setting her hands on her hips. "I know." She immediately began surveying the room they found themselves in, and Revan didn't need the Force to know the tactical wheels of her brain were beginning to turn.

Beside her, Matt tensed up. He noticed she was watching and tossed her a brief, distracted smile, but before she could think about offering him any reassurances, he looked straight past her to Shepard. It was a stark reminder that Revan was not the leader here.

It was a strange feeling, but she shook it off. Sure, it was a little disconcerting not being in charge, but Shepard was proving over and over again that Revan had made the right decision to put herself and her team under her command.

"My apologies, Shepard. You're more valuable as a prisoner than as a customer." Warden Kuril's voice sounded tinny over whatever remote broadcasting system he was using.

Revan ignored it and stepped forward, away from the cell, palming her lightsabers and reaching out with the Force. The warden would have enforcers of some kind coming any second now to ensure they followed instructions. Probably Blue Suns mercenaries; there seemed to be a lot of them on Purgatory Station. "I did tell you something was off," she commented in Shepard's direction, only a little grumpily.

Shepard cast her a long-suffering glance. "I know you did. A few times. 'Shepard, something is off' is not the same as 'Shepard, Kuril is going to send you to out-processing, which isn't a real thing, it's a dead end and he's going to betray you' though, is it?"

Revan made a face at her. She wasn't entirely sure Shepard's imitation of her voice was accurate but decided not to argue the point.

"Drop your weapons and step into the cell. You and your companions will not be harmed."

Matt chuckled, but it sounded forced. "He doesn't think we're actually going to do that, does he?"

HK was standing off to one side, on her five o'clock, blaster rifle at the ready as though just by having it handy he would prompt the action to begin. "Observation: Oh dear, I think we're going to have to fight!"

Revan shot him a withering glance, but returned her focus to the Force and the task ahead. Her team felt like bright spots, while dark, determined presences with obviously unfriendly intentions converged on the room they had been essentially cornered in. "Hostiles approaching," she announced. "There's quite a few of them. We've got one minute."

"Kuril," Shepard called, directing her voice vaguely up at the ceiling. "We don't have to do this. I have resources. Let's negotiate."

Revan was unsurprised when the only response was a click as the comm was disconnected. Shepard sighed, louder this time. "Fine," she muttered, then raised her voice. "Kasumi, with me behind the first row of desks. HK, left rear. Revan, right rear. Matt, stick close to Revan. Let's go."

Revan beckoned for Matt to follow her, and moved into the cover of the row of desks Shepard had indicated. The engineer moved quickly behind her, crouching beside her so she was between him and the aisle leading out between the rows of desks. Despite his obvious tension, his military background shone through in the way he moved and the way he held his blaster. He didn't panic, like a civilian would have, and he seemed to know exactly where to position himself. "Stay behind me," she told him anyway, just in case. "Even if there's no cover. I can protect us much more easily if everyone's firing at me rather than the both of us."

"Protect us both how?" he asked, confused. "I have shields too, wouldn't it be better if—"

Of course, he had no idea what she could do. She hadn't had a chance to give him a rundown, and she didn't have time now. She could feel the hostiles were moments away. "No," she interrupted. "Just stay behind me. Keep your shields as your last line of defense, not your first." Her senses were tingling. "Shepard, incoming!"

As she spoke, the first pair of mercenaries rounded the corner. Two small, four-legged mechs preceded them, galloping directly for Shepard and Kasumi. They were surprisingly quick for such heavy-looking, stout contraptions, but the commander and the thief were ready, opening fire immediately. HK-47 was just a beat behind them, the sound of his blaster bolts a higher frequency counterpoint to the gunfire from Shepard and Kasumi's projectile weapons.

"Mechs first," Shepard called over the noise.

Revan thumbed the activation stud of one of her lightsabers, tossing it across the room at the second mech before it could close with either of the two women. It hit dead on, but only made a shallow cut before rebounding away. The mech seemed to shake itself, and search for the source of the attack.

She didn't allow it time to find her, reaching a hand out and grabbing hold of the lightsaber directly with the Force. The mercenaries were focussing their fire on Shepard, Kasumi and HK for now, which gave her the opening she needed to lean out of cover. With a twist of her fingers she redirected the saber back to the mech, stabbing the purple blade deep into its side and pulling. The blade sliced through it, melting components and overloading circuits so they exploded with short, sharp bangs. It fell to the ground, twitching, then short-circuited with another bang and a larger explosion, knocking the other mech away. She called the saber back to her hand and deactivated it as Shepard skewered the remaining mech with her omniblade.

"Those things are stronger than they look," she muttered half to herself as she began searching for another target of opportunity, keeping one eye out for any potential danger to the engineer beside her.

"They're armoured," Matt told her a little breathlessly, arms braced on the desk in front of him, firing at the mercenaries. "The metal of their skins has been reinforced with ceramic composites, most likely. They look like the 2149 model, not the more recent 2175. I don't even think they're the 2162 type—"

Revan's danger sense flared. She grabbed the collar of his borrowed armour and yanked him down just as a flurry of shots flew past where his head had been moments before. The mercs had finally noticed them. He stared at her in surprise, and she gave him a reproachful look. Engineers and slicers were the same in both galaxies, apparently; past military backgrounds notwithstanding. "You can look it up later," she said firmly. "Stay down."

"Right," he agreed quickly.

Slowly they pushed forward through an onslaught of mechs and mercenaries, down the corridors of the prison. Matt followed her instructions and stayed behind her as they moved from cover to cover, but although she had one of her sabers ready to deflect any incoming fire, she didn't have to use it. The other three did most of the work, while she kept her senses on the alert for mercs attempting to flank them from behind.

HK in particular was in his element, obviously thrilled to be back in the midst of a good firefight. He provided a veritable barrage of cover fire for the two primarily melee fighters, Revan and Kasumi, while crowing happily about the privilege. Not a group of mercs was dispatched without a cry of "die, meatbags!" or "the enthusiasm these mercenaries have for dying is warming the servomotors of my heart, master!" Luckily for him, the looks Shepard was throwing him grew more and more amused, rather than irritated, and Kasumi seemed supremely entertained.

Finally they reached a room with consoles lining the walls and a more prominent one set up against floor-length windows on the opposite side to the door. A lone tech spun as they entered, fumbling for his pistol and raising it in shaking hands.

Shepard probably wouldn't have opened fire without asking for a surrender – the man was obviously more scared than hostile and the commander wasn't one to shoot without thinking – but Revan certainly couldn't say the same for HK and didn't want to take a chance on Kasumi or Matt. "Wait!" she called, ripping the blaster from the tech's hands with the Force and tossing it across the room. The man gaped at his flying blaster and threw his hands in the air. "HK, stun him," she ordered.

The droid sighed theatrically, but did as she asked. A blue stun wave pulsed out from his blaster and enveloped the tech, who crumpled to the floor.

"What was that?" Shepard threw the question back over her shoulder at Revan as she snapped her rifle back into place on her magnetic back-plate and hurried over to check the tech's pulse. Revan could feel her surprise when she realised he still had one.

"It's a stun beam," she explained. "Most blasters have a stun setting."

"Huh." Shepard looked up at her, eyebrows raised. "That sounds incredibly useful."

"It can be," Revan acknowledged as Kasumi pushed past her to hurry over to the console. It took her only a few seconds to activate a wide haptic interface at her eye-level and get to work. "It's very situational, though, and doesn't always work, especially if the target species is particularly large or has a markedly different nervous system to a human."

"It probably wouldn't work on krogan, then, I suppose," Shepard commented, before shifting her attention to Kasumi and Matt. The engineer had stepped up beside the thief and was reading intently over her shoulder. "What have we got?" she asked.

Revan wandered over to the wide, floor-length viewport that ran along the length of the wall behind the console. It opened out onto another room, noticeably larger, the floor of which was lined with a row of metal… protrusions. She peered down, trying to work out what she was seeing.

"We got lucky, Commander," Matt was saying. "Jack's in that room, down there somewhere. Kasumi's trying to release the cells from cold storage now."

Revan frowned. Those protrusions were cells?

"Trying," Kasumi emphasised, and despite the slightly harried tone Revan could feel nothing but calm focus from her as she worked. "Once I get them out, we'll need to get down there quick so Matt can get Jack's cell open. If I open it from here it'll open every single cell in the cryo wing, and I don't think you want that."

"No," Shepard agreed, moving up next to Revan and surveying the area below with a critical eye. "Work fast, Kuril knows we're after Jack—"

"And… done!" Kasumi finished with a flourish, grinning cockily at Shepard.

Revan watched as the protrusions in the floor began rising, out-gassing as they went, revealing clear transparisteel – or whatever this galaxy's equivalent of transparisteel was – tubes. People were locked within, eyes closed, restrained by the neck, wrists and ankles. They felt… quiet in the Force. Not dead, but not quite alive either. Suspended.

"I never doubted you," Shepard told Kasumi, returning her grin. "Come on, let's go."

HK stepped up beside her as they moved to the ramp leading to the floor below. "Approval: this method of storage is efficient."

She snorted. "True, I suppose," she agreed. "Brutal, though. And it completely removes the possibility of rehabilitation."

"Assessment: Rehabilitation is a fanciful notion entertained by bleeding-heart organics who are too squeamish to do what must be done."

"A 'fanciful notion'?" Revan repeated. "You don't think people can change?"

"Clarification: Organics are moulded by many years full of experiences, and the memories they have of those experiences. It is foolish to believe they can be taught to act completely differently without many more years of the same."

Revan frowned at him. What if they had no memories? Something icy clawed at her belly. What if she was destined to become Darth Revan again, no matter what she did?

She strode out ahead of HK, catching up to Shepard, shoving those thoughts away. She would never become Darth Revan again. Especially not now she had time to master the light side.

It didn't take them long to locate Jack. He – or rather, she – wasn't what anyone had expected: tiny, bald and covered in colourful tattoos. As soon as they located her, Matt got to work on breaking her out.

Revan watched intently as he scanned the huge reinforced tube with his omnitool, trying to distract herself from thoughts about Darth Revan. He examined the results of the scan, muttered to himself, and pulled a couple of tools out of the small pack he was carrying on his back. One looked very similar to a hypospray, but she doubted it had the same purpose.

With a few deft movements he had an access panel open. He rummaged around in it for a good five minutes, while Shepard paced restlessly nearby and Kasumi hummed idly over the comm, ignoring Shepard's mildly irritated glances. Finally Matt looked up at Shepard and shook his head. "If I try and force it, it'll kill her," he told her grimly.

The commander grimaced. "Damn. All right, plan B. We don't have time to hang around down here. We'll have to do this the messy way. Kasumi, get back up there and open all the cells. We'll just have to deal with… whatever we get." She eyed the other prisoners.

"Aye aye, Shep," the thief nodded and jogged lightly back through the door.

HK straightened noticeably, adjusting his rifle in preparation. "Endorsement: I heartily approve of this plan."

"Glad someone does," Shepard muttered under her breath before turning her attention to Revan. "Any insights?" she asked.

Revan wasn't sure exactly what she meant, but she knew what she would have liked to know if she herself were the commander here. "No hostiles approaching yet, although I should warn you that I can't sense mechs," she said. "As for these prisoners… no idea. They're suspended in the Force as well as in life. I can feel them nearby, but they're neither thinking nor feeling right now, so I can't tell you what their intentions are."

Shepard nodded resignedly. "That makes sense. Okay. Let me know if anything changes."

Matt had gone back to examining Jack's cell while they waited for Kasumi, who was humming again while she worked. Shepard sighed, but otherwise pointedly ignored it. Revan had a feeling she didn't mind quite as much as she pretended to. It did alleviate the tension somewhat.

Revan wandered back over to Matt and peered over his shoulder at the exposed components of Jack's cell. He didn't object. "There's a localised mass effect field here, right where I'd have to get in to disrupt the servomotors that run the automatic systems keeping Jack in hibernation," he muttered vaguely in Revan's direction. "If I disrupt it, even a little, it'll trigger a security response that might…" he trailed off, looking up at her and making an apologetic face. "Uh… sorry. I'm talking tech gibberish to someone not even from this galaxy. I'm probably boring the hell out of you."

Revan shook her head, crouching down to get a better angle on what she thought was the mass effect field he had mentioned. "No, you're not," she reassured him. "I can't say I was very good with tech, even in my own galaxy, but I do like knowing how things work." She pointed at the tiny sphere of distortion nestled between components. "Is that the mass effect field? What exactly is a mass effect field?"

Matt's face seemed to brighten just a little. "A mass effect field is—" he began, but before he could get any further an alarm began sounding over their heads.

Revan straightened and laid a hand on one of her sabers, frowning as all around her tiny sparks of consciousness began to ignite. Kasumi must have started the process to bring all the prisoners out of hibernation. She winced. They prickled unpleasantly at her senses.

"Revan?" Matt prompted cautiously, standing up beside her.

"The prisoners… they're waking up," she told him, closing her eyes and concentrating on trying to block them out. "They're all so…" She grimaced. "There's a lot of anger in this room… all over the station. And a lot of fear."

"Are you all right?" she heard Shepard ask warily, from closer than she had been when Revan closed her eyes. Unlike Matt's, her tone carried the weight of the knowledge that violent emotions like anger and fear could have a very detrimental affect on Revan.

But she wasn't going to let it overwhelm her. Not today. "Give me a second," she muttered, keeping her eyes closed and breathing in deeply, trying to remember the lessons in meditation Bastila had tried to give her. She had been far too impatient, but she had wanted to humour the woman who had fast been becoming a friend.

Listen… breathe… be a part of the universe. A part of the Force. Bastila's voice in her mind was calm, low and soothing. The Force is part of everything, and everything is part of the Force. Anger… hate… fear… it is all a part of the Force. Acknowledge it, let it pass, and keep your calm.

Something crashed, metal on metal. "Revan!" Shepard snapped, and the meditation shattered around her.

The doors at the other end of the cryo-storage room had slid up into the ceiling, revealing mechs – four of them, all the same size as the one Revan had destroyed with its own rocket on Omega. "Sithspit!" she swore, grabbing Matt's arm and yanking him unceremoniously toward the back of the room and the tall piles of storage crates there. They were big, industrial-size transport crates and looked heavy – with any luck they'd be sturdy enough to protect them against rockets.

At the same time, Shepard was spinning and running for the crates herself. "Move, move, move!" she yelled. "Kasumi, don't come back in here!"

HK could move quickly when he wanted to – even he saw the danger four YMIRs represented – but he wasn't quite as fast as Revan or Shepard. As Revan ducked behind the crates, pulling Matt with her, bullets began pinging off HK's armoured body. She leaned out, reaching out a hand and pulling him unceremoniously into cover with the Force.

Just as she set him down, Jack's cryo-pod exploded, sending chunks of metal flying across the room. Revan ducked as debris flew by overhead, one eye on Matt to make sure he stayed out of the way too. As soon as it stopped, she chanced a peek around the side of the crates.

Jack was stumbling away from the pod, yanking her metal collar away from her neck like it was nothing but flimsiplast. With every step the slight, tattooed woman took, a roiling miasma of fury swirled up around her, growing larger and more intense. Revan clapped a hand to her head, breathing hard, clinging desperately to the shattered pieces of the meditation she had begun just before.

Jack screamed, a raw, piercing sound, and sprinted down towards the four mechs. She was wreathed by a shimmering blue corona, and it took a moment for Revan to realise it was her biotics. They were darker, more vibrant, and much more concentrated than Shepard's.

She felt a hand gripping her arm and pulling her more fully behind the crates, and she whipped around to see Matt. His eyes were wide, but his mouth was set in a grim line as he yanked her down into a crouch beside him and Shepard. Just as he did, one of the YMIRs exploded.

The shockwave hit the crates, sliding them across the floor with metallic screeches and threatening to topple the higher ones over on top of them. Instinctively Revan raised a hand and drew on the Force, holding them steady. They were as heavy as they looked, and internally unbalanced with whatever had been stored in them. She grit her teeth, concentrating on fighting gravity and inertia to keep them still.

The hate and anger in the room swirled around her, metaphysically ripping at her hair like a tornado, but she closed her eyes and reached for that calm Bastila had tried her best to teach her. Think of a slow-moving river, strong and steadfast, the younger Jedi had said. She held onto that image like a lifeline, even as another shockwave hit and the crates groaned against her strength.

Before she could take a breath, a third shockwave battered her. She tensed, fighting the urge to step away from the river and into the fire of the hate and anger she could sense so clearly nearby. It was so close, all that power…

But suddenly she could feel something else. Something oily but cool and refreshing, like bubbles tickling her nose.

She felt a smile smooth its way across her lips. Shepard. The commander was adding her biotic strength to Revan's power as best she could. While Revan couldn't use it to directly augment her own strength, it felt like Shepard had a hand on the crates beside hers, helping her to lift and balance them. A fourth shockwave hit them, but with the two of them working together, the crates stayed where they were.

The room fell quiet, the only sounds being the hissing and popping of fried electronics and gas venting from one of the cryo cells. There was a sharp smell in the air, tangy and bitter; Revan couldn't put a name to it, but it was strong and unpleasant. Probably chemical. She slid the crates carefully back into their neat piles before releasing her Force-hold on them and opening her eyes, taking a deep breath in relief. The team looked unhurt. She exchanged glances with Shepard and nodded in thanks.

Matt stepped out from behind the wall of crates and whistled, low and long. "Hot damn," he murmured.

Revan followed, and found herself stopping and staring at the destruction spread across the room. The cells they had raised from the floor were unrecognisable lumps of twisted metal. Huge swathes of the walls were covered in dark scorch marks, and one of the doors the mechs had entered through was sparking, bent off its runners. The mechs themselves were partly slag, partly spare parts strewn across the length and breadth of the room.

"Wow." Shepard scanned the room from beside her. "I knew Jack was powerful, but I didn't expect this."

"Observation: with this kind of power Jack would make an excellent Sith Lord," HK commented, sounding genuinely impressed. "Addendum: her obvious instability would be a bonus."

"She's gone," Matt observed.

Revan looked around, but he was right. There was no sign of Jack. She closed her eyes and reached out with the Force, searching for that maelstrom of anger and hate. "She's heading for the dock," she told Shepard, then frowned worriedly. "There are a lot of angry guards – and prisoners – in her way."

"Judging by what just happened in here," Shepard gestured at the mechs, "I would be more worried for them than for her."

The door to the console room slid open and Kasumi appeared, wide-eyed as she scanned the room full of debris. "Damn, the girl can make a mess. I like her already."

Shepard beckoned her over. "We need to catch up. I don't want to let her get to the Normandy before we do," she said. "Let's go."