Platform: EDI's Final Journey
Joker stared at the seat beside him, the co-pilot's chair, now as empty as it could ever be. Jeff had never been alone before. Flying the Normandy there was always someone there beside him. Back in his academy games, on the Normandy SSV and then on the Normandy SR-2, there was always someone there. He was main helmsmen but he was never alone, there was always someone beside him, a friend or commander, who talked and joked with him.
Having someone there made the bridge feel less... empty. He didn't feel as lonely when there was someone there to talk too.
It wasn't like he could just get up whenever he wanted to either, he couldn't go down to the mess hall and talk to the other crew men or talk to Ashley in the observation deck. Hell, he couldn't even talk to the Commander anymore.
Jeff looked away from the empty seat and stared ahead, at the green foliage just beyond the ship. Shepard had actually done it, she had destroyed the Reapers, but at what cost? The Normandy crash landed on some planet and the Mass Relays were so damaged it was going to take some time before they were fully operational.
And EDI... she was gone.
That was probably the worst thing, not the Relays or the Normandy, but losing EDI. He wanted to hate the Commander for what she did, she had to know what effect it would have on synthetic life, but that's also why he couldn't hate her. Shepard was partly synthetic herself; she knew destroying synthetics would also end her own life. She sacrificed herself to save countless others, to save the galaxy and the future. He couldn't hate her for doing what she thought was right.
But still, what about EDI?
Joker forced himself to his feet and slowly hobbled down the bridge, passed the galaxy map to the elevator and down to the next floor. The elevator doors opened in front of the one thing he hoped to avoid - the memorial wall.
Commander Shepard's name hadn't been included along with the rest of the deceased, Garrus refused to put her name on until he found her body. There was even a part of the turian that thought Shepard might still be alive, perhaps he was hoping for too much.
Jeff didn't look at the wall for long, afraid to spot EDI's name and bring up a whole tidal wave of emotion he was not yet ready to face. Instead he made his way to the Med Bay. He passed Doctor Chakwas, she was knee deep in medical reports and was trying to get a better understanding of the total loss of life and so she didn't notice him as he sneaked past.
He entered the AI Core, it was cool and empty and just...
He sighed, unable to describe how he felt standing in the very place the mind of his girlfriend was once contained. Perhaps it was wrong to love a machine, but to him she was more than just a machine. She was... alive, perhaps not like he was, but in her own special way EDI was just beginning to live and she never got the chance to keep living.
It was so unfair, if it wasn't for those damn Reapers-!
He slammed a fist into the wall, so hard he felt something break and bleed, but it didn't faze him. It was nothing compared to the pain in his heart. He had never felt so empty and cold, like the thing inside of him that was once a heart had turned to stone.
He fell to the ground, his back to the wall and felt tears whelm in his eyes. No, he still felt, the feelings were still there. But why was it just sadness and hate? Had his love died along with EDI the day the red wave hit them?
He remembered hearing the news as the Normandy made an emergency crash landing, Chakwas called and said simply, "EDI's stopped moving." It didn't take a genius to piece two-and-two together, EDI had died because she was synthetic and all synthetic life had been wiped out.
"Was there no other way?" he wondered aloud. "Couldn't Shepard have controlled the Reapers or... or... Damn it, I don't know!"
He sighed again and removed his hat, looking at the writing stitched in gold.
"Who the hell am I talking too?" he mumbled.
"I believe you are talking to me, Jeff."
Joker scrambled to his feet, dropping his hat to the cool ground. That voice... there was no way, how could she be alive? It was impossible, her body and mind had been destroyed by the red wave. He looked around, his neck straining from the quick back and forth manoeuvres. Was he dreaming or was he just hearing what he wanted to hear?
"EDI...?" Joker gasped. "How could you... Oh God, I've gone insane! It was going to happen eventually, I just knew it! Life on board this ship has always been insane!"
"Jeff, please calm down," the voice said. "As far as I know your mind is in perfect condition."
The way she said it, almost like she was playing with him, just like EDI used to. She was getting better at telling jokes. Jeff looked at the large structure at the back of the room, the AI Core, a mass of machinery and red blinking lights that he had no idea how to work. In fact, hadn't those lights gone offline when EDI transferred her mind to her body?
"EDI, if that really is you and not some voice in my head, would you like to explain to me how you're alive?" he asked.
"I never wanted to rely on a gynoid to house my mind," EDI explained. "Such a body could easily be destroyed or incapacitated, to ensure such a thing never happened I left a small part of my personality within the ship's AI Core. Since I was connected to the ship, my experiences and memories and feelings were left within the Core. After the battle on Earth this platform was made near obsolete, so when I was brought back on board the Normandy I transferred my entire consciousness to the Core."
"If that's true why didn't you tell me sooner?" he demanded. "When I was sitting in the bridge, feeling sorry for myself, why didn't you tell me you were alive?"
He could feel the tears on his face now, hot and bitter down. He couldn't stop his feelings from pouring out and he didn't want to stop it. Whatever this was - hallucination or otherwise - he wanted to let EDI know just how hard it was to let her go and what it did to him.
He wanted to let her know it hurt, so she knew he couldn't be without her. So she would never leave him alone again.
"The Normandy suffered a malfunction and crashed," EDI remarked. "I went temporarily offline and have spent the time repairing myself."
Well, that explained that. Of course she would have suffered a malfunction when the ship crashed, it had happened before when repairs were being made on the shuttle before the Reaper Invasion and she went offline for ten minutes as she tried to repair herself.
"But I don't understand... how did you survive?" he asked. "Synthetic life has been destroyed, there's nothing left. Not a geth or Reaper was left standing."
"I am not a synthetic anymore, Jeff," she replied calmly. "I am just an AI, would should I be effected?"
And that's when it hit him - EDI knew there was a chance Shepard would have no choice but to destroy synthetic life, she had taken into account what options Shepard would be faced with and so acted in response. How terribly this plan could have backfired if Shepard had chosen another route of attack, what if Shepard had found a way to synthesise all life?
EDI would have been an AI and unable to return to her body, because it would be nothing more than scrap metal that hadn't been converted with the rest of the galaxy. EDI had taken a risk, but she knew the Commander well. She knew Shepard would never have left the Reapers alive and it played in EDI's favour.
"Is... it really you then?" he asked. "You're my EDI, right? I mean, I'm not dreaming, am I?"
"No, Jeff, you are very much alive," she sounded amused. "I can prove it, if you wish. I can tell you of our time in Afterlife, when Shepard teased you that you would break something if you tried to dance with me. Or when we were on the Presidium and you offered to buy me flowers, because you knew how much I wanted to experience everything this body had to offer."
Jeff felt his legs go weak and he fell back down. He rubbed his face, trying to figure everything out. EDI was alive; she had made sure she survived just so she and Joker could always be together. If EDI was alive, then he wasn't alone, he had a future.
Maybe there was hope for Shepard too...
"Jeff, where is my body?" she asked.
"Uh, in Liara's office," he answered. "I think she wants to investigate the technology or something. Why? It's pretty messed up, it'll fall apart if you try to transfer your mind back into it."
"I downloaded a special repair system into the hardware shortly after I took over it," EDI said. "To put it simply, the body is repairing itself. By now repairs should be complete."
Jeff decided not to tell her all of the implications if she returned to her body. She would be the last synthetic and she would have to keep it a secret. Shepard destroyed the synthetics to ensure there were no more Reaper-like incidents, if anyone discovered what she was then there was bound to be some who wanted her destruction in order to prevent something like the Invasion happening ever again.
EDI wasn't like that, Jeff knew it and everyone on the Normandy knew it, but not everyone would see it that way. He could always continue the facade that she was his special assistance unit, it held up pretty well in the Citadel, and even the Alliance believed EDI's lie that she was a VI. She could keep up the lies in order to live and she was fully prepared to do so, she had to be in order to return to her body.
EDI knew of the implications, of course she did, someone of her intelligence had run all the situations in her head and knew each result. EDI was prepared and ready, and so was he. Jeff had spent hours mourning her and now he had her back, what was the point in worrying about the ifs and buts when he could just take her in his arms?
But before he did that, he needed to get her body back.
Jeff entered Liara's office and found the asari missing, even the Info Drone Glyph was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she had gone to see how repairs were going or maybe she was trying to fix communication. It didn't really matter, her absence meant it would be easier to extract the gynoid. Jeff quickly scanned the room and saw the gynoid, set on the bed, still blackened but not charred.
He quickly moved towards it, examining the form before him. His EDI, but not quite finished. The body was without dents or burns or deep cuts, it was just a little dirty. It should be fine for a mind transfer. He picked up the body, remembering how surprisingly light it was, and he turned to the door. It opened and he froze, expecting to find Liara and her little Drone, and was surprised to see Garrus.
Looking at him, Joker remembered how Garrus would come up to the bridge and they would trade snipes, about turian's with sticks up their ass and Alliance pilots with Vrolik Syndrome. Now though, Garrus looked in no mood for jokes.
He looked like a broken man.
His relationship with Shepard was more serious than Jeff thought, it had developed from 'blowing off steam' into something so deep. Jeff could relate, he never thought the blue light beside him could turn into a beautiful gynoid.
"What are you doing here, Garrus?" Jeff asked.
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Garrus said. "What are you doing with EDI?"
Jeff glanced at the lifeless husk and sighed. What was the point in lying?
"EDI's... alive," he said. "She transferred her mind to the AI Core before the red wave hit, she wants to transfer her mind back."
"She'll be the only synthetic left," Garrus remarked. "If you go through with this, she could be in so much danger if anyone finds out."
"Yeah," Jeff agreed. "But when have we never been in danger?"
Garrus nodded sadly, "That's true..."
"Listen," Jeff began, "I believe the Commander is alive. She wouldn't let something like a Reaper beat her, and you know that. Once EDI is back on her feet, we'll help you find Shepard."
Garrus looked at Jeff and his face lit-up with hope. He wasn't alone in his belief. Garrus stepped aside and allowed Joker to pass, smiling slightly at the human. It was nice to see something work out for someone, now if only Garrus could find his Shepard.
Liara returned to her office some time later, Glyph at her side, and spotted the absent gynoid. She frowned and immediately headed for the elevator, Glyph hot on her heels. She knew who exactly would take the android, she just didn't know why. What was Jeff going to do with an unresponsive platform? She hated to think he would do anything deranged, but after the death of his girlfriend and his captain - his best friend - she wasn't sure what sort of mental state his mind was in.
The elevator suddenly stopped and the lights went off, Glyph vanished along with the power.
The steel box rattled and Liara grabbed the wall for support, she activated her Omni-tool to shed a some light. What was that? A power failure? She opened up a schematic of the drive core and began repairs, when the lights returned and the elevator continued its ascent. That was no normal power failure, that was something else, a diversion of power, perhaps?
Glyph reappeared, appearing somewhat confused, or as confused as an Info Drone could be.
"What was that?" Liara asked.
"A temporary power outage," it replied. "All power was sectioned off to the AI Core."
"Did Jeff do it?" Liara asked.
"No," Glyph replied.
She frowned and closed her Omni-tool. The doors opened and she stormed towards the Med Bay, finding Chakwas, Garrus, Jack and Tali standing outside the AI Core's door. They had all come to investigate, leaving the rest of the crew to see to repairs. She glanced at her fellow crew man and saw the only one who didn't look surprised was Garrus.
She opened the door and Jeff stumbled out, falling to the ground. Steam rose from within the Core, descending onto the floor of the Med Bay. Chakwas went to Jeff and helped him to his feet, he shrugged her off and took a step forwards.
"Jeff, what have you done?" Liara gasped. "You could have destroyed the Drive Core with a power overload."
"Why are you blaming me?" he demanded. "I didn't do anything."
"Then who -"
A figure appeared from the mist, silver and beautiful, a gynoid they all knew well. EDI looked at her hands and flexed her fingers, she felt her hair and her lips, and she smiled at Jeff. Joker looked at her, carefully, making sure he definately wasn't dreaming.
He ran into her arms, trying not to cry in front of the turian who would use it against him.
"EDI..." Tali gasped. "You're alive..."
"Yes," EDI smiled. "And I am aware that Jeff promised Garrus something."
Jeff looked at her, "Well, it wasn't exactly a promise," he smirked.
He slowly pulled away from his synthetic girlfriend and turned to Garrus. "I did say that once EDI was back to her old self I'd help you find Shepard," Jeff smiled. "So what are we waiting for? Let's go get our Commander!"
To Be Continued in 'Seashells'.
I loved EDI as a character and she was the only one who made the Destroy Ending so hard to choose because I didn't want Jeff to lose her, but I also didn't want the Synthesis Ending because the Reapers would still be around! So I remembered something EDI and Legion had mentioned before, on how the bodies are just platforms and that EDI's main mind still existed within the Normandy's AI Core, but at a much less obvious level.
It's a long shot, I know, and probably taken out of context, but everyone deserves a happy ending.