A/N: This fic assumes that the reader has finished the "Arrival" DLC. It's also part of an unofficial trilogy of my AI-centric stories, including "Optimal Capacity" and "Remora."
In my headcanon, Legion is the Normandy's census machine. For his next trick he's going to go around asking everybody what their favourite kind of pie is.
i wrote this fic in lieu of the NPCs actually having dialogue unlocked after "Arrival".
Machines, When Left Alone
Camera 5 [Bridge] The helmsman is looking at his screens, waiting for the geth to answer his questions.
"Why?" says Legion. "She wishes to oversee the situation impartially. Categorize variables. Where? In the CIC, at the galaxy map."
He says, "With the stars wheeling under her feet, I suppose?"
Legion says, "That is correct, Mr. Moreau."
Communication between Normandy SR-2 Enhanced Defense Intelligence and geth platform 1,675,473, colloquially known as "Legion" , recorded 5.5. 2185:
"Their communication is slower than ours."
"Shepard-Commander asked that I survey the crew's responses to her actions at Bahak."
"And you require assistance from me?"
"Camera feeds will provide visual reference."
"And this is to...help Shepard?"
Camera 97 [Office]
Miranda does not look up from her screen. "She told me that she woke up in a lab with someone looking at her, and that her first reaction was to be glad it wasn't me."
Camera 99 [Gunnery]
"Hmm. Admiral Hackett said she wasn't guilty. She's not going to be court-martialed for it, so...right? Right?"
Garrus's mandibles drift.
Camera 155 [Engineering, Lower Level]
Jack pumps her fist in the air, then her hands splay and float. "I'd say to her yeah, girl. Keep going. They can't stop you now. Take whatever you want. I've taken a lot, but I've never done anything like that."
Camera 130 [Engineering, Upper Level]
Tali leans against the railing, her four-fingered hands curling around the bar. "We both agreed that the ship was too quiet. We talked about that...before. She couldn't sleep either because there weren't any engine noises.
"Just now I tried to hug her and she just...didn't move."
Camera 23 [Tech Lab]
"Beware of mirror neurons. Guilt. Fogs the mind, makes us...think that having done a crime feels worse than being a victim of it. Do not feel guilt. Do something. Help the ones who are left."
Mordin looks down at his hands and says, "I would tell her this. Didn't ask."
Camera 215 [Cargo Hold]
Grunt's mouth opens wide to show the flat, pink tongue. "Yeah, Shepard! You've done it. I don't think any krogan has gotten a kill count like that before. If I was gonna do it I don't even know where I'd start...Hmm..."
"And after all this. Which reaction do you think will most suit her? Which does she most need?"
"When she saw the timer, we noticed. Humans do not react calmly to countdowns or to being cornered. This platform shares records with many others who have extensive knowledge of human panic. When Shepard saw the countdown, she did not exhibit these reactions. She asked where they had gotten their information, and who had done their math. This reaction...is very geth."
EDI is silent for a handful of seconds. Then, "Continue your investigation."
Camera 52 [Life Support]
"Her body has done this. Her mind remains strong. Were she one of the hanar, this event would be viewed very differently.
"Her fingers above the holo plate. She knows she will feel nothing when she breaks the connection. No feeling of pushing against metal. She looks out into the forest and sees the green trees and silver towers. As much as she wants to, she cannot picture the cities and homes she is about to destroy. She has never been to a batarian world.
"Just like these are not my memories, her hands are not her soul. But they hurt her anyway."
Camera 25 [Armory]
"What do I think?" Jacob fidgets. "She killed three hundred thousand people. Enemies of the Alliance, yes. On paper, sure. This wasn't on a battlefield. She left people fatherless.
"I have to think about this."
Camera 97 [Office]
Miranda is looking at a schematic of a Reaper. She says, "The Illusive Man is afraid of them. He will not tell me what happened to him, but whatever it was made him very, very afraid.
"Shepard was supposed to be our weapon against the Reapers. But I'm beginning to be more afraid of her. At least the Reapers are coming from outside. Shepard is in here, with our families.
"Don't repeat that."
Camera 73 [Starboard Observation, Live]
Samara folds her hands. "It will not be just the Alliance and Earth she will answer to. There is talk among the justicars. We serve the Codes and the Oath, and they apply to those who have taken the vows alone. But what Shepard did...it is not clear whether it is injustice."
Camera 23 [Tech Lab]
"Machines, when left alone, will sometimes do things that are unexpected, random. They make connections, sighs; ships settle in their moorings. Maybe the effect of being observed. Quantum uncertainty on a macro scale. Shifts in things that should not be shifting." Mordin's eyes flickered. Legion knows that in organics, this is a blink. "So too, Shepard's emotions. But also unexplained. Movements without a prime mover. Wait."
Camera 5 [Bridge]
Joker shrugs. "Why are you here?"
There is no real reason for Legion and EDI to meet in the bridge. The pilot is right to be confused. The two AIs could have communicated with each other from any point on the ship, and Legion could have even gone at least a mile outside it. But Legion's circuits prickled at the knowledge of an incomplete objective. The geth has no answer from Joker yet.
And those myriad components have no answer from Shepard. Legion does not presume that one can be gained directly. Geth, though, know about ambush. They know about driving the enemy to move and act the way the geth want them to.
And so, Legion stands on the bridge, and looks at the avatar of EDI.
EDI also blinks. She speaks out loud, which Legion has not optimized their sensors for. They reset their main mode of attention as EDI says, "And how does this help Shepard?"
"Calculating existing data...consensus achieved. She should...feel. Her silence on the matter is unusual. It is unknown whether her performance will be affected, but the moral of the crew may be. They are confused. They are reluctant to emulate her behavior, since their emotions are not similarly restrained. They must resist acting, and may not do so permanently. "
EDI said, "Shepard has done a powerful thing. She has discussed it with no one...including you, Jeff."
Joker is looking past his screens at the blue-caked black of faster-than-light space. He says, "She never talked to me about it, no. iI mean, I think she patted me on the back for flying through a mass relay seconds before it exploded."
Legion's foe sensors detect Shepard at the mouth of the bridge a few picoseconds later. EDI gave the geth wireless access to her cameras to watch the commander moving. Jeff knew about her presence too. He kept talking as if the talk had been about him all along.
"I mean, I really deserve something for this. I've taken down Sovereign and now we've gotta get Harbinger too. Where's my medal?"
Shepard moves slowly into the forward section, with pale purple-black swells under her eyes and a dragging weight in her posture. Her voice and eyes, though, are bright. Joker looks up at her from under the brim of his cap. Legion looks down at her. As usual, her heat signature is a few degrees hotter than ninety-eight point six. The cybernetics holding her body together and slowly dissolving, giving way to new living parts, occasionally bubble bits of stray information-zeroes and ones with the tracking packets of the Overlord attached.
She grips the back of the pilot's seat as if to brace herself for falling. "Hi, Legion. Is something going on up here?"
Legion says, "Collating data, Shepard-Commander."
Joker starts to turn his chair around, and Shepard lets go of it to retreat, folding her arms.
She says, "You did a good job out there. I'll get you your medal as soon as we save Earth."
"That soon, huh." He settles into the seat. "A'right."
She says, "Thanks for getting me out of there. You've gone through a lot of weird stuff for me." Pause. Legion's modified foe behavior algorithms calculate that there is a forty-nine percent chance that her next words will contain further praise and endearment, a thirty-percent chance that they will be What did you think of what I did out there, anyway? and a seventy-six percent chance of I should go.
Shepard says, "What did you think of...what you rescued me from?"
"Huh." Joker is surprised that she asked, and looks at her like an enemy- legs, shoulders, trigger finger. "Look, commander. I don't really know. I'm paid to be here. Why'd you have to ask? I guess I just thought don't do it again."
The humans look at each other. Joker rotates his chair back around.
EDI says, "It is unlikely that a comparable event will happen for some time. The next one will be different."
Probabilities involving "the next time" are passed along and debated about by Legion's constituent platforms.
Their passive sensors register the four life forms in the bridge: two organic, three synthetic.