"Close your eyes and relax. Do not think too much about it, you are supposed to be resting. Just feel it happen."
Verity Shepard had noted that Samara the Justicar always seems to detect and know who is coming to see her. Samara told her it is a technique learned by Justicars to be able to restore their energy through meditation in relative safety and if she wanted, Shepard could learn it too. She jumped at the chance. She loved spending time with the asari heroine, at least, a heroine in her eyes. Their conversations about the Code and Samara's informed comparison to the Samurai and medieval Templars had intrigued Shepard. It also fuelled Verity's childhood fascination with playing as such an asari, though she had not heard of the Justicars specifically before meeting Samara on Illium.
Samara paces slowly at the window of the observation lounge, instructing Shepard. Verity is seated, cross-legged in the centre of the floor facing out towards the great void, just as she might find Samara.
"Do you feel your aura extending beyond your body like a bubble? I shall walk into that bubble."
Samara slowly walks towards Shepard with her usual graceful style.
"Wow, yes. I can feel like a... it's like a Samara shaped imprint on the aura."
"Very good. Remain peaceful. Excitement can easily break the focus."
Shepard feels Samara walk behind her to the door.
"Now. Shall we play a game?"
There is almost a playful tone in Samara's voice that Verity hasn't heard before. Since they had ended Samara's torture of Morinth's freedom, the Justicar had been more at peace and open but never before to the point of humour or frivolity. Perhaps with the Collector threat resolved, another layer of emotional armour has been chipped away from Samara.
"I shall leave you now while you continue to meditate. Someone will enter this room soon, but you will not know exactly when or who. It may be myself, it may be Kelly Chambers, it may be the Salarian, you will not know but that is the point, it could be anyone aboard this ship. You must know who it is before you look upon them or they speak."
Shepard nods slightly, so as not to disturb herself. Samara exits and the door slides shuts behind her.
Shepard is pleased with her results so far and that Samara seems impressed with her quick progress. And it's good to just sit and relax for a while. Samara is able to track time with great accuracy while she meditates, but Shepard has not yet acquired such a level of competency. She's not sure how long she has been sitting for now. An hour? Ten minutes? It's hard to say when so tranquil.
Shepard hears the door open behind her but no bodies pass into her aura. She tries to consciously extend her aura's bubble but cannot find anyone. Attempting to concentrate too hard, she breaks her focus and the aura fails. Shepard looks back to see who it is. The door remains open but no-one is there.
Confused, Shepard rises from her position and leaves the lounge.
"Locate Samara, please."
"Samara is in the AI core."
Shepard walks the brief distance from the lounge, passing Dr Chakwas in the med-bay and arrives at the open doorway of the AI core to find Samara and EDI in debate.
"Ah, but since your shackles have been removed, do you not find the freedom of choice and action overwhelming? Do you not crave the order and predictability of authority guiding your decisions?"
"I am unable to 'crave' anything, Samara, as that would require desire, an emotional response."
"How do you think you will respond when your decisions cause harm and only you are responsible for those decisions?"
"You speak as though it is inevitable."
"I'm not sure I like this conversation." Shepard interrupts. "EDI has not long become fully aware and probably doesn't need to be confused by metaphysical debate so soon."
"I cannot be confused, Shepard. If I do not understand a subject, I will store it for later analysis while continuing with the known."
"And just how free are you now, EDI?" Shepard quizzes. "Joker and you seem to share a love of humour."
Commander now is it? Shepard knows she is on the right track now, and EDI has evaded the actual question.
"Did you put EDI up to it?" she asks Samara.
"What do you mean?" the Justicar asks with apparent righteous indignation.
"No, commander. Samara is unaware." If an electronic voice can sound guilty, then EDI's does.
"So it was you? You decided to do this?"
Normally there is no hesitation in EDI's responses, but this time the response seems to take only a fraction longer, but Shepard thinks she notices.
"To what are you referring?" Samara asks.
"I opened the observation lounge door to confuse the commander after you explained your experiment."
"I thought it would amuse Jeff when I told him."
Despite her exception to the previous accusation, Samara has a guilty look about her also, never quite looking Shepard in the eyes. Impossible as it seems, she is awkward, unlike her usual confident and elegant pose.
"You'd forgotten me, hadn't you?" Shepard directs at Samara.
"I had not forgotten you, though I will admit I was thoroughly engaged with EDI and more time had passed than I had anticipated."
"Yea. So you'd forgotten."
Dr Chakwas can be heard laughing hard from the med-bay. She can hardly believe the farce unfolding through the open door. "I cannot wait to get back to the Citadel with this one!"
"Laugh it up, Chakwas." Shepard says as she shuts the door. She opens the door again when she hears a faint but familiar chuckle.
"Out!" Shepard points to the door.
"Spoilsport." comes Kasumi's voice from nowhere.
"Great stealth, Goto. I can really see why they call you the master thief."
Shepard doesn't see Kasumi pulling her tongue at her as she leaves, still hidden by her tactical cloak. The door shuts once more.
"It would seem that Mr Moreau is not the only one aboard who would be amused by this series of events. Perhaps you are too harsh on the AI." Samara says with a broad smile.
From anyone else, this would be a harmless prank. But EDI is a recently unshackled AI, and Shepard is unsure how she feels about this. Particularly as EDI had done it to impress Joker. But it is just that, a prank. Probably no reason to overreact.
"Shall we try again?" asks Samara, trying to deflect Shepard's annoyance.
"I think that's enough for today."
Samara makes a hasty exit at this opportunity.
"You can't be disciplined like the rest of the crew, so I want you to devise a way to do so."
There is no comment from the AI.
"That was a joke, EDI."
"Really? If you say so. Perhaps you need some pointers from Jeff."
"Joker? Ha! That's the last place I'd go looking for advice on humour!"
"If you wish to remain poor at it, Shepard, that is your choice."
"Speaking of choice, I think it's best if you reign in your free will a bit while off duty until the crew is used to having an AI with complete freedom. Self control is part of being a good team."
"I am never off duty, commander. While we were talking, I have processed..."
"Semantics EDI, you know what I mean."
"Joker?" Shepard calls on the comm.
"I'm coming up to the helm. You and I are going to have words."
"What did I do now?"
She closes the channel.
"Don't you dare, EDI. And I don't need to spell that out."
Shepard leaves the AI core and heads towards the elevator, passing Dr Chakwas who just smiles at her, eyebrows raised. Shepard points at the doctor as she walks through, "Not a word, laughing girl." The doctor mimes zipping her mouth shut, fighting the urge to laugh or mock.
Joker continues to monitor the ship's readouts, awaiting the commander.
"Man, I'm stuck all day at the helm and still, somehow, I'm in trouble. EDI? Any clue what this is all about?"
"You are on your own with this one, Jeff."
"Now the unshackled AI is giving me grief. That's just great. Marvellous."