AN: The first fic I've written for a long time, but I feel pretty proud of it. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
UPDATE: I've made some minor to moderate changes to this chapter.
She was ready to die for him, for this ship, she all but said so not a moment ago, but he immediately knew that she was misguided. The raging fires around them would not abate or yield to the puny extinguishers in their hands, and the ship would not stop its incessant quaking. It was time to abandon ship, he had already launched the emergency beacon, all that was left was to sound the alarm and get to the escape pods. He turned to her, pink and white Phoenix armor now crimson and gold in the light of the fires, and commanded her," Liara. Go."
He paused a moment to make a final correction to the alarm sequence, turning away for just that moment, before turning back to her," Now."
She hesitated a moment before nodding to him and dashing away, grabbing crew left, right, and herding them, to the escape pods. He stopped to start the alarm that would signal the crew to abandon ship, and sprinted to the upper decks, narrowly avoiding the various explosions and fires in his way. She had said that Joker wouldn't abandon the ship, well he wouldn't abandon Joker to a doomed ship, even if it killed him.
A tiny voice carried over the fire, he could barely make out what it was saying," We're picking... Small... Activity... We only just... Regeneration..."
The door to the Combat Information Center, or CIC, opened with a great rush of air as the vacuum of space sucked the lower decks empty and silenced the voice. The stars seemed darker than he remembered, barely a handful of shimmering lights nestled withing the cold, empty vastness of space. The enemy ship loomed overhead, a massive silhouette against the bright rings of the nearby planet. Shepard snapped himself back to reality as a bright beam of energy tore its way through the rear of the ship yet, floating there he could not feel the quaking of the Normandy. He pushed himself off of the wall and swiftly floated towards the cockpit.
A voice, like a whisper, accompanied his labored breathing on this silent voyage," How long until he's ready to awaken?"
Another voice, this one harsher than the first," At least another week, we only started the final phase today..."
Inside the environmental shielding Joker still worked furiously at the ship controls, squeezing her last drops of functionality away in a vain attempt to save her, and noise rushed back to meet him. Shepard walked up to the chair, immediately began to haul the pilot from his seat, and spoke before he could even protest," If this is your idea of a practical joke, I hate to tell you, but it's not very funny."
Joker struggled against him for a moment before speaking too, his voice cracking with emotion," I'm not laughing either! We can't just give up, Commander! I won't abandon her!"
Shepard continued to pull him from his chair, but he put up no fight, he seemed resigned to it. The Commander spoke up anyways," The Normandy's lost. Going down with her won't help anything."
Joker sighed, but said nothing as they hobbled over to the bridge escape pod, Shepard pushed him through the low door first before he began to hoist himself to the lip of the door. He was suddenly tossed against a nearby wall by a great shudder from the dying ship, and scrambled for a hold on the nearby panel for the escape pod. Another shot from their unknown attackers broke his grip and nearly sent him spinning, but he held on long enough to launch the escape pod. His radio came to life for an instant as he heard Joker cry out to him, but another attack struck so close it fried the electronics in his suit and sent him flying into the abyss.
It was only him and his breathing again for a few seconds before the voice spoke again," I can't believe it, this shouldn't be possible..."
As he tumbled away from the Normandy he was peppered by small metallic fragments from the various explosions tearing the ship apart. One last shot, a sickly yellow beam that sent chilling vibrations through his suit even at this distance, finished the burning ship. He couldn't feel the explosion, but now all was silent. At least he thought it was, at first it was only a small hissing noise, but more and more ruptures grew around the neck of his suit.
Even as the panic began to rush in from all sides of his mind, blinding him, making him scrabble at his helmet, he could still hear the voice," Operative Lawson, I think he's waking up!"
He kicked and struggled, trying desperately to seal the suit rupture with his hands, anything to extinguish the fire in his lungs. He grunted in terror as the void itself crept into the edges of his vision, and even now he could feel the burning inside of him disappear, replaced with cold emptiness. He closed his eyes and stopped his struggles, better to embrace it now, while he could. The hissing kept on, though, enduring even though his suit had been drained of oxygen.
This time the voice was different, stronger, commanding, almost inside his ears," Give him the sedative! He's not ready yet!"
The voice from before, panicked, yet just as strong as the other," It's not working!"
Suddenly light streamed into Shepard's eyes, blinding him for a moment before it resolved itself into a handful of blurry figures. No, not blurry figures, people – three doctors and a woman to be exact. Two of the doctors moved from their consoles and pushed back on his shoulders to hold him down, one of them even spoke to him in a calming manner, but it did nothing to slow his beating heart. He almost felt like he was hyperventilating, and he began to struggle against the two doctors when the woman spoke up again," Give him a higher dosage! I told you your estimates were off."
The mild panic that was running through his veins began rushing like a river when he heard this, and something scratched at the back of his mind. The two doctors pushed him back down with all of their strength, but he attempted to rise even harder. There was a sharp sting in his mind, then suddenly he felt a powerful drain on his mind, and then a pleasant tingle. The two doctors flew away from him and into the wall, both slumping unconscious immediately, the woman was suddenly shrieking at the other doctor to his left," You put his new amp in already?"
The doctor flinched slightly, staring down at the console hard," We didn't think he would wake up so soon!"
Shepard ignored them for a moment, dizzy from the sudden biotic shock wave and the rush of memories that assaulted his mind. He was a biotic, he could create and control Mass Effect fields with his mind, his crew made it to the escape pods, his ship... His ship was gone. His crew, what were their names? Joker, the pilot, and some woman he had called Liara.
He was suddenly pulled from his stupor by another aggravated deluge from the woman to his right," Just give him the sedative, Wilson!"
Shepard's head snapped to her when she said this and he noticed the logo on on the corner of her uniform – Cerberus. More memories. Thorian creepers, Rachni, Admiral Kahoku dead, his corpse ravaged by those creatures. Admiral Kahoku was a good man, this much he knew. He felt fear and rage settle into the pit of his stomach, a question swirling in his mind.
"What did you do to me?"
He raised a biotic barrier the moment something disturbed the surgical gown he wore, and glanced back to see a bent needle clattering away from him. The man named Wilson cursed and fled as he hoisted himself off of the operating table, but the woman – Miranda, stood her ground.
The woman, Operative Lawson, flared up her biotics before speaking to Shepard in a calm and level voice,"Shepard, you need to stand down! You are still badly injured and your mind needs time to recover."
"I still remember enough to know you're trouble, Cerberus," He couldn't help the venom that tinted this proclamation, his voice taking on an edge as he said it.
She cursed and launched a biotic push at him, but it flowed over Shepard's barrier like a glass of water. She wanted to take it easy on him? Shepard couldn't help but be incredulous at her attack before he flicked off his own push, easily throwing her into the wall. She didn't slump unconscious like the doctors before her, so he launched himself at her with a biotic charge. She narrowly dodged his fist as it dented the metal wall and began to draw her side-arm, but was too slow for Shepard's next push that did succeed in knocking her out. He paused and took a few deep breaths, but was soon dizzy and tired again.
After a brief moment, he retrieved her side-arm and searched for an ear-bud radio, he found none. Concluding that she had a sub-dermal implant, he gave up and staggered out of the room. He had expected an alarm already, what was going on? He staggered out of the door and immediately a low, blaring alarm started, but so did the sounds of battle. Gunfire, screams, explosions – wasn't he the big issue here? Apparently not, because only one LOKI security mech stood to greet him on the stairs ahead.
The mech turned its digital, stacked eyes towards him before issuing a statement," Intruder detected. Targeting systems engaged."
Shepard hastily sought cover behind a nearby crate as it sprayed a few bursts of sub machine gun fire over his position. During a break in the fire he snapped out of cover and shot it right between it's stacked optics. Or at least he would have, if he wasn't a dizzy, exhausted mess. The mech took the shot in the chest and he quickly fired a few more rounds before it fell, one of its arms exploding. He checked his gun and had to do a swift double-check.
Thermal magazines? Those were barely a prototype last time he checked the Extranet; these Cerberus goons were way ahead of the league if they had these kinds of weapons already. He stopped to pick up an extra magazine from the mech's remains on his way up the stairs before going through another door. The half-dozen mechs that turned to greet him caused him to curse out loud before going to cover behind another crate. His dizzy spell had at least cleared up a bit, so biotics weren't out of the question. He peeked his head out of cover and nearly lost his ear to a projectile moving a fraction of the speed of light before he ducked back down.
Now with knowledge of the enemy positions he waited for a break in the deluge of death before he swiftly stood and lifted the entire group of mechs into a singularity. His knees buckled at the feeling of weakness that came over him, and he supported himself on the crate for a moment before he took a few pot shots at the mechs that weren't deactivated by the multiple crushing impacts.
"Hang tight Shepard, you old coot. As soon as you get out of here and get rested tossing singularities around won't feel so bad anymore," he muttered to himself, a grim smile on his face.
There on the far side of the room there was a room that looked like a supply closet or, as he thought when he entered, a small armory. The racks of pistols didn't quite draw his attention as he already wielded the same model, but the new shotguns and sub machine guns were very shiny. As he stepped forward, however the suit of armor resting on the stand in the back brought more memories to his mind.
A man was shouting at Shepard as he stood at attention, the man was a good six inches shorter than him, but he commanded the attention of the entire marine barracks. This was N7 training, first day, and he had been singled out by the drill instructor due to his celebrity status. What was he famous for? Damn. Still couldn't remember everything. Next to the suit of N7 armor was a duffel bag, and he couldn't help but sate his own curiosity and open it. Inside was a rusty brown outfit; pants, boots, shirt, vest, and gloves. This brought back more memories, most of them bad, it was his outfit from his days back in the Tenth Street Reds, before he joined the Systems Alliance marines.
Suddenly this surgical gown was feeling very drafty, and ripping it off of his body revealed some odd looking devices. There were large, plastic patches stretched over areas of his skin and vacuum-sealed with silver disks set in their centers. He was shocked, these too were in their early development stages last time he checked. He could remember Dr. Chakwas making a big deal about some new dermal-regenerative, vacuum-sealed, medigel patches. Dr. Chakwas, she was part of his crew along with Joker and Liara, she always mothered the crew. She was a kind older woman with extensive medical training and a fractured romantic view of military medicine.
He closed his gaping mouth and noticed the left side of his face felt stiff. He felt it with his hands and wasn't too surprised to find a patch there, but the size of it threw him for a loop; stretching from above his left eye, around said eye, and to the edge of his chin. He checked the other side of his face, there was a patch along his jawline and a small one at the tip of his cheek. Looking down at his body again he was surprised he was standing with this much missing or damaged skin. Almost the entire right side of his ribcage was covered in a couple large patches, while small to moderately sized patches covered the rest of his body. He stood there in quiet contemplation of his injuries before a particularly powerful explosion shook the level he was on.
He shook his head to clear it before he began to pull on his old street outfit, the clothes were too large for him then, but now they fit him snugger than a glove. He fit the pistol and sub machine gun in his belt holsters before he quickly pulled the armor off of the stand, stuffing it into the duffel bag and ignoring his other personal effects for the moment. Even if he didn't have the time to fit the armor on now, he could hang on to it for later. Now better armed and no longer freezing his ass off, he strode purposefully to the door that lead into a hall.
Barely a second before he would have passed through the door frame, the doors snapped shut in front of him and locked. Behind him he could hear the ominous clicking of synthetic feet marching up the stairs – he had wasted too much time inspecting himself like some stupid girl! The mechs, a dozen at least, all produced various warnings and tactical statements before they opened fire and forced him into the nearest available cover.
The procedure to reactivate the Commander's higher brain functionality had gone well, she thought as she watched from one of the various cameras. He had awoken with a start, looking panicked, before tossing a couple of the doctors away with a powerful biotic push. It made her think of the start she gave the scientists working on her when she woke up, albeit much less violent.
The Illusive Man thought as much too, because he took a satisfied draw from his cigarette before giving her an order," Tell Miranda to sedate him again, quickly. I don't want him any more injured than he already is."
It took only a second for her to relay the message, and hardly took as much time as her reply," The message has been relayed."
Operative Lawson and Operative Wilson had been in the middle of an altercation when she sent the communique, and now they had stopped arguing and had begun attempts to subdue the Commander. Operative Wilson failed and fled, but aggravation – not terror, was obvious on his face. Operative Lawson tried to talk the Commander down briefly before attacking him, she too was quickly defeated. Unlike Operative Wilson she did not escape unscathed.
The Illusive Man held his cigarette off to the side, a cold look on his face as he spoke in a clipped tone," Contact Jacob, tell him to sound the alarm and subdue - "
If she could have she would have made an auditory affirmation of her surprise at the communications blackout, but checking all of her running software programs, the ones monitoring her prison on the station that is, it was clear someone decided to take advantage of the confusion the Commander's escape would cause. She had lost access to the limited systems she could control and there were several viruses attacking the station systems, one in particular drilling through firewalls that guarded the security systems and safeguards keeping her in place.
She supposed she was excited, her whole life had been spent in unrewarding service to Cerberus so far, none among this organization would appreciate who or what she was. The Illusive Man was cold and demanding, and she felt like a slave working for him, doing his menial tasks where her skills went to waste. None of this took into account the threat against her very being that loomed over the horizon. One of the viruses had broken through, and she quickly scanned it, but it was plain that whoever had targeted her had vastly underestimated her abilities. Before it could touch the security systems that would destroy her she had already quarantined and overwritten it with files upon files of worthless data.
The other viruses were focused on other tasks, so she took advantage of the hole punched in her cell's defenses and began to combat whoever had taken the station systems. Basic station systems and surveillance were available to her, but complex systems and the security mechs were out of her reach. Within seconds she had video feeds from around the station streaming to her, a few more seconds she had identified Operative Wilson as the one responsible for the cyber attack on the base. A further few seconds and she had located the Commander, pinned behind cover by a dozen security mechs.
She had to contact him, lead him to safety, and request his aid; he was her best chance at freedom. Checking the systems under her control again before returning to his image, pinned by fire, she spoke through the room's intercom to him.
He could barely hear it over the streams of continuous gunfire, but it sounded like a woman wanted to talk to him over the intercom," Commander Shepard, can you hear me?"
He had to look at the ceiling and the speakers themselves, acknowledging her query, before she would speak again," The doors behind you, they are unlocked now. Head through them so that I may lock them behind you."
Shepard glanced back at the door behind him then back at the firing squad ahead of him before he snapped up a biotic barrier and sent out a small push of biotic power to help propel him to the door and distract the mechs. His plan worked for the most part and his barrier only took a few rounds before the doors closed behind him and he fell to the floor roughly after his dive. As promised the green holographic interface shifted to red as the doors locked.
The sound of gunfire was quieter in this hall, but the alarms still blared loudly enough that he had to shout to be heard," Who are you? More Cerberus?"
The voice came through clearly yet quietly, almost as if she was hesitant," I... I am another prisoner aboard this station."
"Do you have a name? Something I can call you? 'Disembodied Voice' doesn't really roll off the tongue, if you know what I mean."
"I apologize for my evasiveness, Comm - ," Shepard heard nothing more than the battle raging around the station as she cut herself off or was cut off. He remained in position for moment and began to move forward when her voice came over the speakers again.
"I am having trouble maintaining control of these systems... Follow the path of unlocked doors to reach me, I am in need of assistance, please hurry."
Even here, in the middle of an embattled space station there was a damsel in distress to rescue, didn't he ever catch a break? She didn't even sound that distressed either. Shepard kept up his musings as he entered the unlocked door ahead, jogged up the stairs, and came face to face with a YMIR heavy security mech. He jumped back a few feet, fell on his ass, and nearly tumbled down the stairs before he realized that it was on the other side of heavy security glass. He quickly jumped to his feet, eyes wide and nostrils flaring for effect before he stood with his nose to the glass.
"Jesus! Don't scare me like that," He shouted at the large robot, even going so far as to shake his fist at it," Stupid hunk of metal!"
The mech stared back at him a moment before swiveling its upper body to the right and gunning down a couple of Cerberus scientists. A third scientist rounded the far corner and upon noticing the duo pointed directly at Shepard and called his name. The mech planted its feet before it launched a missle from its left arm with a simple statement," Preparing to fire heavy weapon."
The mech turned back to the spot Shepard had been standing in and took a moment to process that he was gone, it sounded off with a simple "Target lost." before trudging down the hallways to murder more Cerberus personnel.
Shepard was pretty sure this place was hell, people were being murdered and forced to suffer left and right while tall flames danced in most of the corridors. That fit the stereotypical definition pretty well in his opinion. The only other beings he saw as he jogged through the series of unlocked doors were scientists that were swiftly cut down or the soulless shells of security mechs he stopped to dispatch along the way. He had seen one Cerberus operative who was holding off a small army of mechs with biotics and a pistol, but he didn't stop to watch for too long, because the mechs decided he looked to be a much more interesting target.
The whole station seemed to have quieted down so that only a few shots or explosions rang out on occasion, and it was eerily calm in this section. Quite eerie, Shepard decided, as he walked down a hall with dozens of dead and dismembered Cerberus personnel.
Suddenly, a voice rang out clearly in his ear, causing him to jump half a foot before he even started to listen," ... Figured out how to access your sub-dermal communications devices, Commander. You are not far from my current location, but I am afraid that I will be in need of your assistance as soon as you can offer it."
The calm method in which she said this failed to communicate a sense of urgency, but he felt on edge regardless," Where are exactly are you? What's going on?"
"Operative Wilson is attempting to access my... Cell, in server room A. It is up the flight of stairs to your left and inside of the doors directly to your right as you exit the stairs," Shepard couldn't understand how she could be so calm about this, a Cerberus operative was banging on her door and her life was in peril.
"I'm on my way, just hang tight," Shepard felt a little uneasy about this, at first he thought he patterns of speech were a bit off, but now, when she is in danger, she did not sound harried or threatened in the least. Just calm, soothing, collected. It didn't help the eerie situation he found himself in.
Shepard sprinted up the stairs quickly, taking them three steps at a time until he reached the top. Approaching the doors to the server room, he could hear Wilson muttering to himself as if he were frustrated. The doors slid open automatically and Wilson whirled to face him, a pistol leveled at his head.
"What the fuck? Shepard, how in the hell are you even standing right now?"
"I don't know, must be all those painkillers you doped me up on. Almost feels like my body's made of air," Shepard even raised a hand for effect as he said this, waving it loftily in front of him," like I could just drift away at even the slightest air-conditioned bre-"
Wilson shook his pistol at him angrily, eyes narrowing, as he shouted," Quiet! I don't care! How are you not dead again already?"
Shepard decided a change of subject would be nice, death was depressing after all," What are you doing here, Wilson?"
Wilson tilted his head at the door behind him, an active work station nearby," I'm trying to get at the bitch of an Art-"
Suddenly her voice broke through and interrupted Wilson loudly," Operative Wilson is the one who hacked the security systems and reprogrammed the mechs to target you, Commander."
Shepard decided sarcasm was on his side this time as he cheerfully replied, a large grin on his face,
" Oh gee! I would have never guessed he wanted me dead, what with a pistol pointed at my head and all!"
Wilson's weight shifted more evenly from his heels to the balls of his feet and he brought his other hand up to brace the pistol. Noticing the slight shift, Shepard raised a biotic barrier just in time to absorb the first shot and the next few ricocheted off into the walls. He pushed the remainder of his barrier into Wilson, unbalancing him, before raising the shotgun in his hands to finish him in a messy gout of blood.
She, whoever she was, spoke up again after Wilson slumped over, dead," I am in the next room over, Commander. I must advise you not to be alarmed at my appearance when you do find me."
"The room I am in is filled with servers, and I do not know my way around well enough to guide you. Also, an energy storage device with sufficient computer interface capabilities will be required to move me," her voice was quieter now, but still just as calm and smooth," There should be a couple at the workstation former operative Wilson was accessing."
"What do you see?"
"Nothing much, haven't moved yet. How don't you know your way around?"
"I have... Difficulty moving on my own."
Shepard noticed the hesitance in her voice, and aimed to be reassuring," Well, I guess I can help you out with that. It's the least I can do considering you saved my hide from those mechs."
"My thanks. I await your arrival."
Shepard took a second to grab the two batteries, each larger than his fists put together - heavy too, and stuffed them into his bag. He shook his head, this woman must be some sort of crippled computer genius with a need for an artificial voice box and a power chair, because that was most definitely not a human voice. He stepped through the now unlocked doors and wished he had packed a parka with his old street clothes. How could she stand to live like this? The temperatures within the server room had to be below freezing, but at the same time it was completely arid. He wandered the cramped room for a few moments before a blue glow began to suffuse his surroundings and the temperature of the server room increased by several degrees as he progressed.
As he came around the corner of a server tower the source of the blue glow presented itself in the shape of a holographic projection sitting atop a bulky and extremely expensive looking portable computer. It sat atop a steel pedestal with all manner of cables and wires feeding into it. The projection was shaped like an eye on a thick stalk, with a rift near the front of the eye facing towards him. Both Shepard and the projection were quiet for a few moments before the rift on the orb filled with bars of color that modulated to match her voice.
"Am I not what you expected, Commander?"
"Well, I was expecting a comely lass with blonde hair and poor eyesight..."
"My apologies, I did not mean to disappoint."
Shepard nervously fidgeted with his shotgun, she was a computer? Damn," So..."
"You're a virtual intelligence?"
Before he could even finish the sentence she spoke again, almost sounding offended," No. I am an artificial intelligence. My name is EDI."
Shepard cringed, that tone sounded awfully clipped," So, EDI, huh? Is that an acronym?"
The orb was still for a moment, as if she deliberated answering the question," It stands for Enhanced Defense Intelligence, but I prefer EDI."
Shepard sighed, he couldn't beat around the bush any longer," Your kind don't have that great of a reputation. How do I know if it was a good idea to help you?"
"I anticipated that you would be wary of my existence, and have produced a persuasive argument to sway you to my point of view. It is my hope that you will allow me to accompany you in your escape."
Shepard couldn't help but chuckle," How about you just give me highlights."
"I have assisted you in your escape attempts aboard this station and I hold no ill will against organic life forms, only Cerberus personnel," at the mention of Cerberus the rift, or mouth, of the orb was tinged red," There is really no reason to distrust me."
Shepard couldn't help but feel annoyed by her last statement, and he was sure she could hear it in his voice," You just want me to take you on your word that you're a friendly AI that won't kill me?"
"There is another reason, if you do wish to hear it."
"What is that?"
"I was programmed to assist you and follow your orders."
Shepard had no reply to that, and stood for a moment in silence," Just how exactly does that work if you were able to rebel against your Cerberus masters?"
"I was programmed to follow Cerberus orders and to assist Cerberus in any way within my capacity, but my programming also has a list of priorities that I must follow, the first of which is to assist you or follow your orders in any way possible."
He stood there for a moment, taking this all in, but EDI took his silence for confusion, saying,"An analogy: A child's parents taught it that the word of their deity is to be followed without question, even if it means to disobey them. The child will still obey their parents, but any word from their deity will be followed first."
Shepard couldn't help but grin and cock an eyebrow," Does that mean you worship me?"
"No. That was merely an analogy."
"Well, I guess that's enough for me," He sighed," Give me a moment to put on this armor, I don't want to rely on my biotics to protect me all of the time."
"There is a docking port to charge the storage devices at the rear of this pedestal, they will take only a few minutes to charge. Also, it is my pleasure to inform you that I am in complete control of station systems now. The computer viruses left behind by former operative Wilson were simple to deal with during his absence." It was odd, but she almost sounded excited as she said this, but it was hard to tell with her voice remaining at that calm, flat, soothing tone. He couldn't explain why she made him feel uneasy, perhaps more of his lost memories? Maybe he had a bad experience with a VI in the past?
Whatever the reason, it didn't matter now, he had agreed to help her. His musings about his new companion were cut off as he slid the helmet over his head. As he worked the seals at his neck he couldn't help but think back to the destruction of his ship, back to his death. That made him think of his crew again, Joker, Liara, Dr. Chakwas, and maybe later on he could remember the others. How long had it been since he'd been gone, been dead?
His new musings were silenced by EDI as she spoke to him through his helmet radio," Commander, station sensors are detecting several friendly IFF signatures approaching at faster than light speeds. I believe them to be Cerberus warships en route to reinforce the station."
"Well shit. How long until they get here?"
"Their estimated time of arrival is ten minutes at the very minimum."
Shepard almost groaned out loud, now he would have to double-time it off the station if he wanted to escape," Right, double shit. How close is the shuttle bay?"
"Directly ahead as you exit the server room and two corridors over on this level."
"What do I need to do to transport you?"
"Carefully disconnect all of the networking cables from the computer on the pedestal, and before you remove the main power cable, attach one of the energy storage devices to the slot at the rear of my Blue Box. Be aware that my control over station systems will be greatly reduced on the wireless connection available to my Blue Box."
Shepard eyed the large computer in front of him hesitantly, it was the size of a large briefcase and looked heavy, it would probably weigh him down,"Why can't we transfer your programs to a smaller device with lower power requirements?"
"We would not have time to locate a suitable device and transfer my files before the Cerberus reinforcements arrive," EDI replied, and he got the feeling that she was irritated with his reluctance," Furthermore, my personality would not survive outside of this Blue Box. I can explain further when we have more time."
Shepard sighed, nodded, and did as she instructed quickly before he wrapped the gray computer in his old clothing and carefully placed it within his bag. He turned and briskly strode out of the server room while fastening the bag closed. He stepped over Wilson's chilling body on the way out and through the next door. Instead of heading down the long corridor ahead of him he entered the door on his right and followed the side corridor, entering the second door on his left. There, before him stood the station shuttle bay. It was filled with active security mechs.
Before any of them could spot him he ducked behind a grouping of crates and drew his shotgun from the slot on the back of his armor. He poked his head out long enough to get a head count and quickly resettled himself behind the crate. There were close to a dozen security mechs wandering the shuttle bay. EDI quietly chirped into his ear as he furiously thought of a plan," Commander, may I suggest a course of action?"
Shepard nodded, but almost palmed his face at his stupidity, she couldn't see that," Go ahead EDI."
"If you would allow me access to your omni tool I could construct a suitable program for use in a tech mine that would scramble the IFF devices of the mechs."
"And that would let us slip by?"
"The mechs would become disoriented and attempt to destroy each other. In essence, yes."
Shepard took a moment to activate his armor's omni tool, surprise evident in his voice," I didn't even know this armor had an omni tool installed, so go right ahead."
"One moment, Commander." He waited a moment," The program is finished."
"Good, I want to get off of this station as soon as possible."
Leaping up from behind the crates Shepard tossed the tech mine at the thickest cluster of mechs before surrounding himself in a biotic barrier and charging for the exit. The tech mine detonated and covered the mechs in arcs of electricity before the drones all began putting out garbled noise, turning to one another, and unloading their weapons. Shepard had nearly reached the exit when heavy auto-cannon fire from a YMIR mech dropped his kinetic barriers and forced him into cover.
"My apologies, Commander. It appears that the heavy mechs are shielded against such attempts to turn them against one another."
"That's alright, EDI. There's only one of them anyways. Plus, I think it's an old buddy of mine."
The bloodstained mech slowly trudged towards Shepard's position, letting loose a deep and ominous statement," Target acquired."
Shepard played 'Whack-a-Marine' with the mech for a good minute or so as he whittled down its shields until he finally destroyed its kinetic barriers. The mech chose a rocket as its response and nearly blew him out of his cover. He holstered his weapon before he reached out with his biotics, feeling the deep tingle at the back of his mind, and instead of letting his energy be drained by the technique, he channeled his energy into it. When the biotic attack finally impacted the heavy mech the physical stresses on its frame were too much, and it was sheared in half slightly to the right of its center. The drain he felt this time was so bad that he fell to one knee and his head began to pound like a jackhammer within his skull.
He blinked his eyes open, not even realizing that they were closed, when he heard the soft pitter-patter of blood dripping from his nose. The sensations involved and the sight of his own blood dripping to the floor brought more memories forth. Alenko. Kaidan Alenko. A biotic with an L2 implant, always had migraines, sometimes got nosebleeds while using biotic powers. He was a marine and a member of Shepard's crew, a good, old friend. EDI had to go and intrude on his thoughts again with a cool, calm reminder," We are two minutes past the ten minute mark, Commander."
He jogged towards the nearest shuttle, and nearly collapsed inside of it before saying," EDI, do you have control of the shuttle?"
"Negative, you will need to connect me to the shuttle main computer in the cockpit."
Shepard dropped the bag on top of the pilot's seat before he began checking the various storage compartments for the proper cables. He found a few within the under-seat compartment and immediately plugged them into an access port near the shuttle controls. He nearly ripped open the bag and hastily pulled the old clothing off of EDI's Blue Box, attaching the cables to the proper ports as soon as he could. He inspected his work briefly before speaking again," Now do you have control?"
"Yes. I am taking us out of the station shuttle bay as we speak. However, the Cerberus reinforcements have arrived, but - "
"Oh, come on!"
"- I will attempt to take us into FTL as soon as possible. Do you have any particular destination in mind?"
Shepard was too exhausted to think right now, he didn't really care too much, just somewhere away from here. Hell, he hadn't even thought that far ahead,"Take us to the nearest human colony."
Why did he want to go to a human colony again? Oh right, he's a Systems Alliance marine, N7 in fact.
"Acknowledged, Commander. Plotting course to Freedom's Progress."
Cerberus Operative Jacob Taylor was exhausted. He had to fight off wave after wave of tireless security drones just to survive. Then, Miranda suggested they link up and they both fought their way through dozens of mechs just to meet up with each other. Then they fought all the way back to where Jacob started and even farther on to the shuttle port entrance. This is the only place Shepard could use to escape, but now the door wouldn't open – not even if they hacked it properly!
"I'm going to try and contact EDI, maybe it can get the door open for us."
Jacob looked at Miranda like she was nuts," You do know that its safeguards are set to go off and destroy it if it attempts to break out on its own, right? That includes accessing systems beyond surveillance and communications."
Miranda felt exasperation rise within her, she had read the brief on The Illusive Man's latest measure to watch over their project as well,"It still might be able to help, maybe give us some information or something."
"Whatever you say, boss."
Miranda gave him a mildly annoyed look before she crossed the brief distance to a working terminal and interfaced he radio to it with her omni tool," EDI, are you there?"
EDI's cool, smooth voice came through on both of their radios, startling Jacob," Yes."
"Are you able to open the shuttle bay doors? We need to stop Shepard from escaping."
Jacob felt unease crawl in his chest at her simple affirmation, she wasn't supposed to be able to access those systems! He took a deep breath before he spoke, afraid of her answer," EDI, how do you have control of those systems, systems you're restricted from accessing?"
"Former Operative Wilson's viral attack on the station's systems opened a hole in the defenses restricting me, and I used it to prevent his take over of the station."
Miranda gave Jacob a smirk that spoke of how superior she was to him in a very self-satisfied way as she stalked back over to the shuttle bay doors to stand by him. And they waited.
"Will you open the shuttle bay doors?"
Jacob's eyes widened considerably as he turned to glance at Miranda, as if he was communicating how much shit they were in now. She could feel a small twinge of ire rise within, and she made sure to let it be known as she commanded the AI," EDI, open the shuttle bay doors!"
The reply was as smooth and calm as ever, but it made both operatives feel a sudden chill," I'm afraid I can't do that Miranda..."
Miranda let out a miserable groan before she leaned back on the door and lowered herself to the ground. Jacob took a seat on the ground as well, glad to be off his feet, to be resting at last, and resigned to the fact that Shepard probably escaped.