This is dedicated to everybody who asked for more. All three of you. You guys rock. :P
As before, another set of unrelated scenes. Sometimes, ideas just come to me, and I run with them.
Previously on Battlestar Galactica...oops, wrong fanfic.
1. System Shocked Shepard
Commander Alison Shepard was seated alone at the mess hall aboard the SSV Normandy, reading through after-action reports from the recent Feros op. Well, she was trying to read the after-action reports. The kill-count claimed by Gunnery Chief Williams just wasn't adding up. There was no way Ash could've taken out three-hundred and fifty seven Geth shocktroopers. And a Prime. By herself? Get outta town, a little voice inside Alison's head murmured.
And to make matters worse, Shepard's concentration was being totally wrecked by the eye-hurting orange light that was flickering crazily from the constantly-busted control panel near the mess. That control panel was a source of constant speculation among the officers and crew of the ship. How what was supposedly the most advanced ship in the Systems Alliance fleet could have been allowed to even leave the spacedock in such a state to begin with boggled Alison's mind.
Really, every time she tried to wrap her mind around the quality control measures in the shipyards, or lack thereof, her mind would veer sharply away into totally unexpected areas. Usually she found herself idly twirling a lock of her raven hair around a finger whilst quietly singing the lyrics of late twentieth century rock songs. Her crew thought it was just a thing that she did to help focus her mind and prepare for a combat drop. In reality, it was her mind wandering around in the darkened corners of her own subconscious, struggling to get itself around the quality control issue. Even now, her blue eyes glazed over and she stared sightlessly at the bulkhead, the generously padded kill-count of Chief Williams temporarily forgotten. Her lips began to move and she started to sing. "Ye-ah, I'm a freak of nature...If only I could be as cool as you..." Ah, Silverchair, she thought to herself as her mind snapped back to the present. She picked up the datapad. Then put it back down. That flickering light was doing her head in.
"Right, that's it," Alison told the bulkhead decisively as she left the table and headed to the nearby comm station. Shepard opened a line to the entire ship and said, "This is your captain speaking," Technically she wasn't but damn, she never got tired of that line. "Lieutenant Alenko, Tali and Garrus, could you please report to the mess hall? That is all." She closed the commline and leaned against the bulkhead, arms crossed over her chest, and waited.
Tali'zorah Nar Rayya was on her hands and knees in the bowels of the ship's drive core, helping Engineer Adams perform what he erroneously called a 'grease and oil change.' When Tali pointed out that the drive core utilised neither grease nor oil and that the presence of either in vicinity of the drive core would likely kill them all, he only shrugged and replied, "Figure of speech." As long as she lived, Tali felt she'd never understand humans. Then Shepard's voice came over the commline and Tali wondered what was wrong now. It was a well established truth on the ship that if the combined technical skills of herself, Garrus and Alenko were required at any one time, then something was very, as Chief Williams would say, FUBAR. And the messhall? Tali groaned as she extricated herself from the core and stood upright. She tried to ignore the looks the junior engineering staff gave her as they drank in the sight of, what she'd overheard them refer to as 'her tight little tushie.' She shook her head bemusedly. Humans.
When the Commander's call came through to the garage deck, Garrus was recalibrating the main gun assembly on the Mako. Supposedly, the main gun was good for countless thousands of firings before it needed attention. Just like, supposedly, the Citadel Council didn't play favourites with any race. However, instead of sending a high explosive shell directly down the gullet of a Thresher Maw like it was meant to, the cannon sent off a shot somewhere in the near vicinity and called it good. So here Garrus was, running umpteen diagnostic programs, trying to convince the Mako's computer that, yes, the cannon did need recalibrating. The recalcitrant computer kept sending back reports to the effect that, nothe cannon didn't need recalibrating. Garrus' mandibles flared in frustration. "I'm going to recalibrate the gun and you're going to like it," he muttered as he joined Tali at the elevator.
"What do you suppose is up now?" Garrus asked Tali.
"I just hope she doesn't want us to taste-test anything from the food processors. Last time she tried to tinker with the settings, half the crew was stricken with botulism," she replied.
Kaidan Alenko was seated in the co-pilot's chair on the Normandy's bridge, zoning out as Joker compared the relative physical qualities of Chief Williams and Commander Shepard. "I mean, the Commander has those eyes and that scar on her face gives her an aura of 'I can hand you your own ass on a platter' which is totally drool-worthy, do you know what I'm saying?"
"Uh huh," Kaidan said automatically as he ran a check on the navigation systems. Unlike that fracking systems monitoring unit in the messhall, the nav system actually, wait for it, worked.Alenko wondered what idiot on the design team had decided to place such a crucial piece of tech in what was, effectively, the fracking kitchen.
"You're not even listening to me, are you?" Joker asked.
"Uh huh," Alenko responded.
"Yeah, like I was telling Adams the other day, I walked in on Shepard, Williams and Liara in Shepard's cabin, totally starkers and just going at each other. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," Joker said, deadpan.
"Uh...what did you say?" Kaidan's head whipped around to face Joker.
"Oh, you were listening, sorry," Joker said, and laughed. Kaidan opened his mouth to say something about how Joker should show more respect to his CO when the lady herself came over the commline.
"Oooh, she's got that 'I'm going to spank you' tone in her voice. You better hustle," Joker smiled as Kaidan got out of his seat and went aft.
Alison pushed herself away from the bulkhead as her three technical geniuses arrived. "What seems to be the problem, Commander?" Alenko asked. Wordlessly, she pointed at the flickering orange light of the control panel. If you concentrated hard enough, you could almost discern a pattern in the not-quite-random flashes. Then you'd pop down to the medbay to get something for the pain behind your eyes. Alenko, Garrus and Tali all groaned.
"That control panel is the bane of my existence," Kaidan said. The others nodded.
"You know those L2 migraines I get? Well they're nothing compared to the pain in my ass donated to me on an almost daily basis by that malfunctional piece of Krogan...excrement" Kaidan said in exasperation.
"Hey, I heard that!" Wrex grumbled as he entered the messhall.
"We're going to fix that panel. Even if it kills us," Shepard said quietly.
"Uh, Commander, with all due respect, you are in no way qualified to even attempt to repair that piece of equipment," Garrus said.
"Yeah, well I'm in charge and I say we four are gonna fix it!" Shepard hissed.
Three standard hours and much creative cursing from Shepard later, the four of them had managed to isolate what seemed to be the cause of all the malfunctions in the system. It looked like a mouldy old apple core that some moronic tech had dropped in there while the ship was being built. Dropped and then just left in there. Such unprofessionalism and sloppy maintenance protocols really ticked Tali off. Back on the Migrant Fleet, such low standards of upkeep were punishable by being shipped from vessel to vessel within the fleet for latrine duties. And the fleet had a lot of latrines.
"Son of a fracking bitch," Shepard muttered as she eyed the culprit. She reached a hand in to remove it. "Uh, Commander, you should let me do that," Alenko offered. Shepard brushed his hand aside and plunged her hand into the rat's nest of tangled wiring.
Sometimes things occur that nobody can foresee. Like the sudden power surge that rippled from the drive core, through the frack knew how many kilometres of cabling within the ship, through the systems monitoring unit and from there, through Alison's arm and into her heart. A brilliant blue-white flash momentarily blinded everybody and the lights dimmed ominously. Shepard was knocked backward and slammed against the bulkhead.
As his eyes adjusted from the near-blinding flash, Kaidan realised two things. First: the damnable control panel seemed to be in full working order. If one ignored the smell of burned electrical cabling and roasted hair. Second: the Commander was slumped against the bulkhead, eyes rolled back in her head with wisps of smoke floating up from her scorched hair. Uh oh.
"Commander, are you alright?" Kaidan asked. No response. He grabbed Shepard's shoulder and shook her gently. Nothing. He took her upper body in both hands and shook her like a child rattling a Christmas present and trying to figure out what it was. Shepard didn't react at all. He pressed two fingers to her carotid artery. There was no pulse.
"MEDIC! WE NEED A MEDIC IN HERE!"
From somewhere up near the ceiling, Shepard looked down on the chaotic scene below her. She supposed she should have been freaking out, what with the obviously fatal electrocution and the out of body experience she was...experiencing but she felt very calm and detached. She supposed being electrocuted and being knocked out of your own body would do that to a person.
So, this is what death feels like? she thought. She was kinda disappointed. She was half expecting some kind of godly voice to say "Come into the light" only there was no light.
Williams is gonna be pissed about that, Shepard thought as, below, her body was lifted onto a stretcher and she was rushed down to the medbay, Dr Chakwas running alongside and barking instructions to her medical crew. Garrus and Tali looked shocked. Well, Garrus looked shocked, if she was reading the expression on his face correctly and Tali could've been grinning madly for all anybody knew. Hard to tell under that environment suit. Kaidan had freaked out and had to be sedated.
As though she were still connected to her body by an invisible tether, Out of Body Shepard trailed above and behind Shocked Shepard as she was stretchered into the medlab. One of the medtechs lifted a pair of surgical scissors and held them over Shocked Shepard.
Hey, aren't you supposed to call time of death before you start autopsying me?Shepard asked. Nobody responded. Then the medtech used the scissors to cut away Shocked Shepard's black shipboard uniform shirt, revealing her upper works. Then the medtech...the male medtech laid both hands on Shocked Shepard's chest.
Oh now, that is out of order, Mister! Shepard yelled. The medtech began administering cardiac massage, trying to convince Shocked Shepard's heart into restarting by brute force. With each compression, Shocked Shepard jittered slightly.
Dr Chakwas ordered the medtech away and laid a pair of paddles on Shocked Shepard's chest. Shepard had seen enough medical dramas to know what was coming next. "Charging...clear!"
Oh yeah, great idea! Use electricity on the victim of electric shock! Shepard thought sarcastically. Below her, her body shuddered but nothing else happened.
"Going to two-fifty. Charging...clear!" Dr Chakwas gave her soon to be lifeless corpse another jolt. Shepard observed the way her body jiggled. Maybe it's just me, but damn that's kind of a turn on.
Dr Chakwas removed a large hypodermic and filled it with fluid from a vial.
Chakwas grasped the hypo and poised the business end above Shocked Shepard's breastbone.
Oh hell no, Shepard winced. She really hated needles. Chakwas rammed the needle directly into Shocked Shepard's chest and into her heart muscle. Her thumb pressed the plunger home, injecting enough adrenaline to jump-start the stalled heart of a whale.
Out of Body Shepard felt a curious pulling sensation and felt herself being yanked back towards her body. She re-entered with a jolt. Alison's eyes snapped open and she gasped loudly as her heart restarted with a ka-thump. A relieved Dr Chakwas carefully removed the needle and placed it in the sharps container nearby. That was the longest ninety seconds of my life,Chakwas thought.
Later, as members of her crew clustered around her bed, Shepard said, "I had the weirdest dream while I was out..."