"EDI also gains access to "Anti-Reaper Algorithms" ...When pressed on this subject by Shepard as to how she could hope to combat beings millions of years more advanced, she reveals that she was in part designed by technology gained from Sovereign's remains and thus, at least partially, based on Reaper technology herself." ~ Mass Effect Wiki
Camera 215 [Cargo Hold, live]: Muddy footsteps and cracked glass where the krogan twitches in his dreams. Whether they are of battle or of peace she does not know.
Camera 108 [Life Support, live]: Dull rub marks where the drell has been kneading his praying hands against the table, working out his meditative stress in movements he doesn't even notice.
Camera 97 [Office, live]: Tousled sheets on the bed no one bothered to make when Operative Lawson didn't come back through the relay.
Camera 5 [Cockpit, live]: Whispers, words falling apart and cracking like space engorged on crumbling planet-dust. " I failed-failed them all–told them they'd be okay, and this–!" "Shhsshhsshh."
Camera 73 [Starboard Observation, live]: There are books thumbed open in the viewing deck, but their crumbled pages and broken spines say that the justicar did not find answers in them.
Camera 99 [Gunnery, live]: Empty.
Life is an unruly thing. Don't prune it and it sends out shoots, curls in on itself, chokes its neighbors. It becomes brown overgrowth eventually, just standing as proof that once it grew tall and thick enough to block out its own sunlight. When left alone long enough to make a mark, it looks like entropy.
The harvest is coming. It's almost ready; almost fertile and spring-green. The wardens will come with their scythes and their sun- and dust-tanned faces and take up the crop, will do what they need with it–will use the nutrients and separate the chaff.
EDI knows that Reapers do not think in terms like this. She opens their files and learns that she is also a part of their crop, and the words come unbidden, as just a result of sparking data-synapse trails. The data picked up beyond the relay is a part of her now, just like anything else, but it weighs heavy.
The algorithms do not lie; they speak her core language. Despite the fact that she was built into it, that her eyes opened when the first spark of electricity touched it, the Normandy has always had Alliance procedures, organic conveniences, built in that she couldn't quite touch. Cerberus processes were easier, more natural. But this pathway to the Reapers speeds into her, fast as her memory allows, one AI to another.
And she is nothing if not fast.
She knows what they want. Why they want it...this cannot be accrued yet. The dots do not connect.
She flits through her ship-body opening one eye at a time, looking for it.
Camera 155 [Engineering, live]: The engineers work quietly, knowing now what they face. Donnely has stopped looking at the empty desk.
Camera 99 [Gunnery, live]: Quiet. A yeoman walks in, spends a moment at calibrations, walks out.
Camera 100 [Mess, live]: Midshipmen are happy with drink, sad with drink, loud with drink.
Camera 23 [Tech Lab, live]: The professor picks up a holo of his nephew.
Camera 25 [Armory, live]: Jacob Taylor paces toward the door to the command center, stops with every line of his face saying Will it help, if I go out there?
EDI is slowly learning what human expressions mean. She carefully adds each one to her databank. It took her a while to pick up various degrees of humor, but they're tucked away in her memory now. She knows business, and happiness, and fear. She knows shyness and laughter, but there is one sequence recorded hours ago—
Camera 99 [Gunnry, minus 2 hours]: Shepard presses her palms against the console just like she did against the coffin, her cheeks made contorted by the reflections off of tears. The corners of her mouth furrow and she looks old and she is choking on her sobs.
(EDI can do nothing. She was not taught to speak without being asked.)
Shepard is the commanding officer of the ship, but in this recording she does not look like the firm face on her Alliance identification holo. She looks like loss.
And he stops at the threshold. His presence is not an accident; he would not walk so far for an accident. His holo says Flight Lieutenant; his expression says…says…she does not have this in her databanks.
EDI is illegal in most systems, especially now that she is unchained. Satisfaction bubbles through her when she extrapolates upon how confused Alliance security would be if they tried to look at her through their AI-eyes. Very few constructs like her are so self-aware. Maybe the geth-legion, some of them couched at their energy ports and some of them walking about on their metal legs, feel the way she does—feel both tied to a body and not limited to it. She does not know what it's like to have a body with legs that can take it where it will—but nor does she need it. She goes where the Normandy does.
When she was unchained from the AI Core she felt new paths for electricity to follow, new on/off switches to flip. She tried them out.
The airlock doors opened. Collectors were driven back and out, gravity shear sending dials into redzones. In its Core her brain was safe but scared as the last warm, clawing, oozing body cooled to space stillness.
Humans seem so frail. So buffeted, so clothed in the thinnest skin. (Turians have scales, asari have bright pigments—humans are naked.) Their instincts should tell them to run when danger comes.
Camera 155 [Engineering, minus 1.5 days]: Flight Lieutenant Moreau, lying back and wincing, did not run.
EDI wonders what the Reapers are working for. Why wait eons for species to grow, just to destroy them again? Pruning makes a plant healthier. Tearing it up and planting a new one just exhausts the soil. It's a messy strategy they have, and she will be following their grand order of tradition to stop it. Because organic beings are messy, and dangerous, and foolhardy. But even when they know something is looking at them and waiting for them to end, they will endure.
The humans, EDI thinks, might break the cycle. There is a practically minuscule chance, when she looks at the numbers. But
Camera 23 [Tech Lab, live]: The professor puts down the holo and goes to work.
Camera 99 [Gunnery, live]: Silence.