The team was assembled. Commander Shepard's team would follow her anywhere, they had been through hell and fire and now this was the last stand. They had made it through the Omega 4 Relay, the Collector base was just outside, they had to be stopped and the crew of the Normandy were the only people who could.
Lillabeth White's mind wondered as the Commander made his usual inspiring speech, she'd heard him rally the troops so many times over the last few years that she could predict what he was going to say. 'We are the only hope, we are the best, blah, blah.' she thought to herself, 'Sure, but it doesn't make this any more frightening.' Wringing her hands for the fiftieth time in the past quarter of an hour, Lillabeth longed to check her omnitool again, make doubly sure she had everything she would need. No, she had checked, her checks were always thorough and she would not have missed anything. Her attention returned to the meeting as a hologram of the Collector base blinked into existence over the table.
EDI's calm voice announced: "You should be able to overload their critical systems if you get to the main control centre here." Her systems indicated a point deep within the base.
Jacob consulted his omnitool, "That means going through the heart of the station. Right past this massive energy signature." he indicated a huge section of the base and Lillabeth's heart dropped a little. They were bound to have high security all through there and gunfights always made her nervous. She could feel the knot forming in her stomach even as the team continued to plan the incursion.
"That's the central chamber. If our crew or any of the colonists are still alive, the Collectors are probably holding them in there." Shepard seemed as determined as ever to save everyone. It truly was a gift, his determination, but Lillabeth found his permanent hero-complex to be confusing. There was no way she would have the energy or nerve to save everyone, to give everything like that. It was why she admired him as well as wondered why he would want to give his life in the defence of others. Lillabeth had become steadfast friends with Kelly, the yeoman of the Normandy and now Kelly was trapped in there with all the other humans. Lillabeth's stomach leaped, confused and torn between wanting to storm in and rescue her friend, or just to grieve for her loss and move back to civilisation.
Jacob consulted EDI's scans again, "Looks like there are two main routes. Might be a good idea to split up to keep the Collectors off balance, then regroup in the central chamber."
"No good." Miranda. Lillabeth could not stand the genetically-engineered Miss Perfect. The way Miranda always wanted to do things her way. Cerberus' way. To go against the Commander so much, Lillabeth would not dream of it. Shepard was a seasoned officer, he knew how to keep people alive, to get the job done with the minimal of casualties. But all Miss Perfect wanted was to get the most out of the situation for her and for her stinking company, to squeeze money out of anything no matter the cost in lives. Lillabeth's face burned as Miranda continued: "Both routes are blocked. See those doors? The only way past is to get someone to open them from the other side."
"If we send a team down each path, they can keep the Collectors busy while someone else sneaks in through this ventilation shaft here." Shepard knew what to do.
"Practically a suicide mission, I volunteer." Jacob volunteered. 'Typical, always trying too hard to play the hero. Always trying to be the next Shepard.'
"I appreciate the thought, Jacob, but you couldn't shut down the security systems in time. We need to send a tech expert.", 'There goes Miranda again, trying to take over'.
"It's your call, Commander. Who do we send into the shaft?"
Shepard looked down at the table, his face must have been thoughtful behind his helmet and everyone in the room could feel the tension spike. Like Jacob had said, it was practically a suicide mission, but it had to be done. Like everything else today, it was a case of need.
"We need someone who can move fast and hack even faster. Lil, you're up."
The room suddenly seemed hot, everything seemed to glow with a neon edge as Lillabeth felt herself falling, yet she did not move. Her insides dropped through the floor of the ship, leaving a cold sensation in her stomach and her skin prickling with heat as Shepard continued to split the crew into two teams. A low whistling noise blocked out the rest of her Commander's inspiring speech, leaving her mind empty or all but one thought. The entire team was relying on her and she would have to go in alone.