Disclaimer: Mass Effect is owned by EA/Bioware. Firefly is owned by Joss Whedon.
'Thinking to oneself.'
This is 'mind-speak' between Shepard, Alenko, and River
AN: This is just a quick note to say that Inara will be finally making an appearance. Also this is the beginning of the Blue Sun Corporation Story Arc. And there will be a surprise…
Edge of Heaven
Shepard stared up at the rather large building off in the distance that had the logo of the Blue Sun Corporation on the roof. She had a strange feeling begin to well up in her chest and she squashed it down quickly. It was the same sensation she felt years ago on Elysium right before the attack let by Elanos Haliat, the pirate/slaver from the Terminus Systems. She needed to keep her focus on the here and now, not one the happenings of the past. She looked around to make sure that the authorities did not see her slip into a dark alley.
Silently, the biotic crept through the refuse in the alley, making sure that she didn't step on anything that would make a lot of noise. A couple of minutes later, she focused her eyes on a male figure standing in the shadows. She nodded at the man and they both proceeded to enter another busy street, adjusting the rather large duffel bags they were carrying. They pretended to look at the some of the wares the vendors on the street were offering while glancing at their objective.
"Hana, I just got a message from Simon. He said that the captain was having a little difficulty in negotiating with the client. That means we have probably at least another fifteen minutes added to our time," Kaiden stated as he looked at a shirt that had an interesting pattern on it and in a rather bright shade of orange. He discretely asked the vendor the price.
Shepard sighed and shook her head. "No. We keep to the original timetable, Kaiden. And for the love of…You ARE NOT buying that shirt!" She grabbed the shirt and none too gently slammed it on the vendor's counter. "What are you? Colorblind? Hawaiian shirts are only good in one place…the trash!"
The Sentinel glared at the woman and sighed. "It looked comfortable. But you're right, we should keep to our original plan." He glanced a little wistfully at the shirt as the two walked away, letting the vendor curse in Mandarin after them. They ended up at a public transport depot and took a transit vehicle close to their objective.
A little while later, the duo dipped into another alleyway, carefully setting their bags on the ground. Shepard opened her bag and took out a suit of black armor and weapons and glanced at her adoptive brother. He was doing the same with his own bag and within five minutes, both of them had donned their armor and holstered their weapons.
"This isn't going to be easy, ma'am," Kaiden replied as he checked his Carnifax hand cannon and holstered it to his side.
Shepard turned to look at the Sentinel and nodded. "I know, Kaiden." She strapped her Locust SMG and her Carnifax to the side and slipped 'Jessie', her sniper rifle, onto its slot on her back. "But we need to find out how and why this Blue Sun has eezo. And how they connect themselves to River. I don't think we're going to like what we find."
Kaiden nodded as the pair slipped in and out of the back alleyways, keeping out of sight of the civilians and the local law enforcement. They closed in on the gate that kept people away from the Blue Sun Corporation's massive building. It was an extremely tall skyscraper that would appear intimidating to normal people. However, Shepard and Alenko were not normal people by any stretch.
"Doesn't look much in the way of security but looks can be deceiving," the Sentinel remarked quietly as he activated his omni-tool. "I'm hacking into the security now. There's a small door to the side that we can enter. I deactivated the alarms at the door and we should be able to enter quietly."
Shepard nodded. She glanced over in the direction where the door was located and heaved a sigh. There was a heavily armed guard standing by the door. "Why can't we ever get normal missions?" she whined, adjusting the Sentry Interface headset/visor she was wearing.
The dark-haired man chuckled as his hand startle to glow. "Because that would make things boring, Commander." He sent a warp field at the guard, causing the target to stumble and fall to the ground, groaning loudly from pain.
Using a biotic charge, Shepard practically flew at the guard, knocking the man out. She motioned for her partner to follow. As he approached, she was about to deliver a punch at the downed guard. Alenko quickly grabbed her wrist before she could do any permanent damage to the unconscious man.
"Shepard, is that really necessary?" he hissed quietly at the commander as he pulled her away from the guard. "We don't need to kill the poor bastard."
Shepard turned to look at her adoptive brother, a hard look in her eyes. "If we don't kill him now, his superiors will probably kill for his incompetence once they realize what we will be doing to this place."
"Hana…this isn't you. Have you become so jaded that you would kill an innocent man? Don't let what happened to you dictate your actions."
The Spectre stood up and took a step away from the guard. "You're…right. Like always, you are right." She took in a deep breath and went to open the door. "But if we happen to run into any trouble, I won't promise not to kill anyone in there. Especially if they end up being just like Cerberus."
"Understood, ma'am." He checked his hand cannon for a moment and then checked his supply of thermal clips. "I think we should be careful with our shots. We don't have a lot of thermal clips left and we left a lot of them back on Serenity."
The auburn haired woman closed her eyes for a moment. "I guess that means we're going to have to use more biotics than guns." She opened the side door carefully, checking to see if there were more guards. She motioned with her hand, signaling for Alenko to follow. "I take point."
Kaiden nodded as he felt his biotics swirl inside of him. "And I got your six, ma'am."
"Inara!" River exclaimed loudly, a big smile on the young woman's face. She ran up and gave the Companion a hug.
Simon came out of the med-bay and smiled at the older woman. "It's good to see you again, Inara."
The dark haired woman smiled gently at the two siblings as she released River from the hug. "It's good to see you as well, Simon, River. I didn't know that Serenity was going to be here on Beaumonde this soon."
The young doctor shrugged his shoulders a bit. "Badger hired Mal to transport some cargo from Kerry to here. And he also hired a couple of new people."
River nodded sagely. "They are Shepard and the Brother. I like them."
Inara laughed softly and smiled again. "They must be something if you already like them, River. How long have they been on the ship?"
"They've been on board for nearly two weeks now," Simon answered, thinking for a moment. "They are…an interesting pair." He chuckled inwardly on some of the events that have happened since Shepard and Alenko came aboard.
Inara saw the smile on the young doctor's face and he seemed to be amused about something. She supposed that these newcomers were decent enough to even make the usually uptight doctor smile. "What are their names?"
"The older one is Kaiden Alenko and he's our new pilot," Simon answered. "And his sister, Hana Shepard, is another gunslinger. She's much more palatable than Jayne."
"Almost everyone is more palatable than Jayne." The dark haired woman thought for a moment and then caught on to something; the two new siblings don't share the same family name. "If they're brother and sister, then why do they have different surnames?"
"Their 'Verse had them adopt one another as brother and sister. They are Leaves and Serenity is the Wind taking them where we all need to go." River smiled enigmatically at the older woman before going back up to the pilot's chair.
Inara laughed quietly, and smiled indulgently at Simon. "I see she still talks in riddles."
"That she does, but she's usually right," he admitted. "So, are you going to fly with us for a while?"
"Yes," the woman nodded. "And I have a friend here on Beaumonde who is interested in the piece of history we have on the ship. She's willing to pay top money for the Lassiter."
Simon's eyes widened a bit. "Didn't Mal tell you months ago that he didn't want you to get involved on that caper?"
Inara's eyes twinkled merrily. "True, however this friend of mine was planning on stealing it for herself. This saves her time, money, and she doesn't have to worry about being caught pilfering it. Not to mention, she knows how to get rid of the tracking devices on it."
"You…have a friend who is a thief," Simon stated blandly, his eyes staring at the Companion. "I would never have thought…"
"I have many friends, Simon." The older woman's eyes twinkled again. "You all don't know everything there is about me."
Kaiden extended his arm and let out an overload that took out the security cameras on the floor. He was starting to get a little antsy; something about this place was starting to get to him. They searched the lower levels of the building and so far had managed to keep out of the eye of the company's security. He felt that something big was coming and he knew that Shepard was having the same sensations.
He followed his commander silently down the hallway, watching her carefully looking around the corners for something or someone. Suddenly, she held a finger to her lips, indicating that they stop and stay silent for the time being. Quietly, she opened a door and went in the dark room, Kaiden following her. As soon as he was inside, Shepard closed the door, leaving just a crack in order for them to hear anything coming down the corridor. A few seconds later, some footsteps could be heard, along with some hushed voices.
"I tell you, Stanfield, that Vanderstelt is a feng le asshole."
"I know that, the brass knows that. Nevertheless, Bret is one of the best IT techs ever. He's earned the right to be that snarky."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know…but he COULD be a little nicer."
"And right now, the security programs have been acting really strange so it's no wonder that Bret is snarkier than usual. He takes pride in his programming…"
As the voices faded away, Shepard opened the door slowly, cautiously looking around to make sure no one was around. So, the main security hub is on this floor, she thought over to Alenko. A vicious smirk appeared on her face, making the Sentinel back up a little.
I don't like that look, Shepard. What are you planning? The look in the woman's dark eyes made Kaiden sigh. He knew that whatever his sister has planned means that trouble won't be too far behind.
We find out where this IT tech is and make his life a living hell. It should give us more time to explore this place before their security realizes something is wrong.
Tell me what you're going to do.
Shepard chuckled almost evilly. Oh, let's just say that I remember some of the things that Sovereign and Harbinger had said to us.
Alenko groaned loudly, wanting to hit his head on the wall. And this is one of the reasons why I'm glad we never would have worked out as a couple.
You're just figuring that out now? Shepard smirked as she turned on her omni-tool. She tapped on the holographic display for a moment. Okay, the security room is down this way. You hack into it while I mess with the poor sap's head. Hey, what floor are we on again? Oh, never mind, I remember…it's Floor 42.
The Sentinel shook his head in exasperation as he followed the woman down the hall. What was it again that made him follow her, even if it was to the bowels of hell itself? Right now, he couldn't remember because he was more concerned in keeping the two of them alive and return to their ship.
When they approached a set of doors that had a huge number 42 on it, Shepard peered into the room from the small window on the door. She noticed a solitary man sitting in front of a set of screens and a computer console. Smirking once more, she motioned for Kaiden to follow her to a utility room across the hallway. Once inside the darkened room, the pair turned on their omni-tools and went to work.
Bret Vanderstelt was not happy, to put it mildly. The day started off okay, nothing major to report on the security of the facility. He really didn't like what went on at Blue Sun, but they paid him a great deal of money, enough to buy his silence. His latest security project was a few floors up. He was tasked to make sure that the subject was kept confined and watched at all times of the day and night.
"What the hell?" he exclaimed as the lights on his computer started to flash. He pressed a few buttons, trying to shut the lights off.
"We are your salvation through destruction."
A deep, menacing voice came through the loudspeakers in his room, startling the IT tech. What the heck?
"You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it!"
"Je shr shuh muh lan dong shi?" Bret cried out, tapping away at his keyboard furiously. Was this an AI? Was this something that the idiot scientists were trying to create? Did it get loose?
"I delete data like you on my way to real errors! I KILL people like you on my way to REAL problems!"
Okay, the creepy mechanized voice was starting to freak Bret out. He stalked over to the doors of the room and opened it. "Whoever let loose a homicidal AI is going to get my boot up their ass!" he yelled out, leaving the security room in order to find the person, or persons, responsible for making his day a living hell.
Once the IT tech was gone, Shepard let out a snort and was grinning maniacally. That was a lot of fun, messing with that guy's head. On the plus side, it distracted the man from seeing that the security grid for the entire facility went down thanks to Kaiden. On the down side…wait a moment, there wasn't a down side in her opinion.
"I hope you had your fun for the day, Shepard," Kaiden remarked dryly, shaking his head as they left the utility room.
"Oh, I'm not done yet, Alenko…not by a long shot." She looked around and motioned for her brother to follow her to a stairwell. Cautiously, the duo pulled out their Carnifax hand cannons as they slowly made their way up the stairs…
Simon watched Inara go back into her shuttle, apparently to make herself ready for when Mal and the others return from their tasks. He went back into the med-bay and closed the door; he didn't want the Companion to accidentally catch him using the omni-tool Shepard had given him. He brought up the holographic display and stared at it for a moment in wonder. This technology was more advanced that what they currently had. It was still hard to believe that the two were not from this 'Verse, but the omni-tool seemed to offer proof of their claims.
He tapped in a message to Shepard and Alenko, letting them know about Inara. He didn't want them to be surprised with her presence. The auburn haired woman sometimes appeared to be quick on the trigger while her brother was more of a calming influence. The doctor knew that something happened between the two, but he wasn't about to pry. He had earned their trust and he wasn't about to mess that up. Especially since they are both willing to help River.
A minute later, Simon's omni-tool beeped, letting him know that he got a new message. He opened it and sighed. They were still in the Blue Sun facility, searching for evidence of that 'eezo' they had mentioned. He checked the time and sighed. They've been gone for an hour and he was afraid that Mal and Jayne would make it back before Shepard and Alenko. He turned off the omni-tool and left the med-bay; he felt that he needed to keep an eye out for the rest of the crew to return.
"Lady Eternity, please," Inara stated in a firm voice, sitting in front of her computer screen. A few seconds later, a young woman wearing a hood appeared on the screen.
"Inara, it's good to get a wave from you," the woman on the other side said in a pleasant and cultured voice. "What can I do for you?"
"I know you have expressed interest in the Lassiter, Bethany. I'm going to approach Captain Reynolds when he returns and see if he would be willing to sell it to you."
The Companion knew that her contact and friend was probably surprised, but it was hard to tell because of the hood the other woman was wearing. Lady Eternity was the name Bethany went by so the authorities wouldn't know who to really look for.
"I hope he's willing to sell, Inara. I've wanted that piece of history for the longest time. It would go well on my mantle. If he agrees, tell him I'll pay him a hundred thousand credits."
Inara chuckled softly, smiling warmly at her friend. "I'll tell him, but be prepared to pay in platinum instead, though. Hard cash is the preferred mode of payment out on the Rim."
Lady Eternity nodded. "I know and I'm prepared to do that. You KNOW I go out to the Rim a lot. So many crooks go out there and it's fun to steal from them." The woman turned to look at something behind her back for a moment and returned to glance at Inara. "Anyway, I need to get going. I'm…'borrowing' someone else's cortex account at the moment. I'll send you a wave soon. It's good to see you again, my friend."
Inara shook her head in amusement as she shut down the screen. Lady Eternity was incorrigible, but was one of the best in her field. She stood up and walked out of the shuttle that also doubles as her quarters. She glanced down at the cargo bay floor and saw Simon pacing up and down the length of the bay. He seemed nervous about something, muttering silently to himself. She was about to go down the stairs to ask him what was wrong when Zoe walked up the ramp, pulling a small cart behind her.
"Is the captain back yet?" the tall black woman asked the doctor.
Simon shook his head. "No. Earlier, I got a message from him saying that the negotiations weren't going well with the client."
"Jayne probably had something to do with that," Zoe remarked.
"Mal does have a knack of getting into trouble easily," Inara stated, loud enough for Zoe to hear her.
The SIC laughed slightly and tipped her head in acknowledgement. "True. He sometimes doesn't know when to shut his mouth." She smiled at the dark haired woman. "It's good to see you back, Inara. Kaylee really missed you."
"And I missed her too," Inara replied, smiling gently. "She's such a sweetheart. Simon, you're lucky to have her."
The doctor blushed a moment, but smiled in return. "I am lucky to have her. She's the best thing to have happened to me."
"Aw, ain't that sweet of you to say!" Kaylee announced, running up to Simon and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "And guess what? I found some parts for Serenity that are almost like new at the junkyard." She pointed to a rather heavy looking back filled with metal pieces and parts.
Zoe chuckled and then looked around. "Simon, where's Shepard and Alenko?"
The young man shifted nervously. He knew that he couldn't tell them what the two were doing, so he went along with what he was suppose to say in a situation like this.
"Oh, they had never been to Beaumonde before," he answered carefully. "Shepard said something about wanting to see what the shopping district was like."
Shepard was swearing under her breath. They went up a few more levels in the building and still no signs of Element zero and no evidence of human experimentation. She KNEW that there was something here, but the time was starting to run out. And now, she had to use her biotics to knock out a few guards; Alenko had tied them up and put them away in an unused room.
The security on this floor was much stronger than the lower levels. There was something here, something that Blue Sun was protecting. It had to be huge with the amount of armed guards they have seen. The feeling she had earlier before they entered the building was getting stronger. She was sure that whatever they were looking for was ON this level. It just had to be.
Commander, I'm getting some reports from the security detail through my headset. I'm going to hack into their power grid and turn the power off for this level.
Shepard nodded as she waited a moment and suddenly, the entire building went dark. Some alarms were going off and red emergency lights came on. Taking this as her cue, she turned a corner and stopped dead in her tracks. In front of her were at least five armed guards in front of a set of large double doors. As she was about to back up, one of the guards noticed the armored woman.
"Hey! You shouldn't be here!" the lead guard shouted. "Kill her!"
In the blink of an eye, Shepard let out a powerful biotic shockwave that knocked the men around, causing them to be knocked into the walls and ceiling rather hard. She pulled out her hand cannon and shot the guards once each in the head. She glanced over at Alenko when he appeared from around the corner as the power came back on.
"I had no choice," she said quietly, looking into her adoptive brother's dark brown eyes.
Kaiden placed a gloved hand on her shoulder as he put his pistol back in its holster. "I know, Hana, I know." He removed his hand and looked at the large doors. "There's an encryption routine in the locking mechanism. Shouldn't be hard to crack."
The Spectre nodded as she watched the man do his work. She pushed a button on her visor, scrutinizing the information running through the holographic display. It showed the current time and how much longer they had left for this 'mission'.
"Got it," the Sentinel remarked as the doors hissed and opened slowly.
Cautiously, the pair entered the room and looked around. Seeing no guards or anyone else, Shepard scanned the room for anything useful. She spotted a couple of computers and motioned to Alenko to follow her. "I'll check this computer and you check the other one," she ordered as she turned on her omni-tool. She began a download of all the information into her device when she noticed a set of windows to the side.
"What's this?" she muttered softly as she waited for her omni-tool to finish its download. When it beeped, signaling that the download was finished, she walked over to the windows. It was dark, and she could have sworn that there was a chair in there, a chair that looked very similar to the one on Serenity. She saw a switch near the windows and decided to turn it on.
"By the spirits!" Shepard gasped loudly; the sight beyond the windows made her eyes widen.
"Is something the matter?" Kaiden asked as he finished up the download from the other computer into his omni-tool.
"I thought we were the only ones from the Normandy that were brought here. Look!" the Spectre said urgently, grabbing the Sentinel's arm and forcing him to look through the windows.
Kaiden's eyes went wide as his mouth opened in surprise. "Is that who I think it is?" he asked, spying the man that was strapped into the medical chair, apparently unconscious.
Shepard nodded. "Yeah. That's Engineer Donnelly. What the hell is he doing here?"
AN: Interesting twist, eh? I did say at the beginning of this chapter there will be a surprise…XD And thanks to EternityInYourArms for helping me a bit with this chapter. I was unsure at first who was also brought into the Firefly 'Verse, and Kenneth Donnelly made much more sense.
Anyway, EternityInYourArms and Forty Two42 caught the Easter egg that was in the previous chapter. Their answers were within about a minute of each other so they both got cameos in this chapter.
EternityInYourArms – Lady Eternity AKA Bethany. She will be seen again in a later chapter.
Forty Two42 – Bret Vanderstelt, the IT tech at Blue Sun. Also, mentions of Floor 42 and room 42
Annara Ren – I'm glad that you think this story is interesting…^_^ Not TOO much action in this chapter, but things should start to heat up in the next one.
Forty Two42 – I hope you liked what I did for your character in this chapter…^_^
FraserMage – Glad you liked that phrase. Mal may ask her about it later.
Thanks to the following who faved and/or added this story to their alerts…^_^:
theflyingfrogfish, FraserMage, Arandrell, Uppgreyedd, Phynxkin, Mandolarian Knight
Feng le – crazy
Je shr shuh muh lan dong shi? - What kind of rotten thing is this?