Hello everyone! Oh it is good to be back!
As I promised, the very first chapter of my second story in the Helldiver saga based on the fan art of StTheo
For any newcomers, I've done one or two things to make it accessible but I would recommend you read the first story first so that the events make more sense. I'd like to thank all the people who wrote such good reviews for my previous story, especially dark-babydragon who has written reviews for every chapter and has also contributed some his ideas to this story.
Fair warning, this fic is Rated MA for Language, Violence and Sex
I do also apologise for any mistakes such as missed out words and things like that. I do try very hard to not do them, but sometimes it just happens.
Hope you enjoy the first chapter and please do leave reviews.
Mass Effect: The Helldiver Saga
Episode 2, The Collector War
Shepard did everything right. More than we could've hoped for. Saving the Citadel, even saving the Council. Humanity's place in the galaxy is stronger than ever… and still it's not enough.
Our sacrifices have earned the Council's gratitude, but Shepard remains our best hope.
But they're sending him to fight Batarians and Geth. Batarians and Geth! We both know they're not the real threat. The Reapers are still out there.
And it's up to us to stop them.
The Council will never trust Cerberus. They'll never accept our help. And we all know that the Helldivers would sooner tear our heads off than look at us. Even after everything humanity has accomplished. But Shepard… they'll follow him. He's a hero. A bloody icon. But he's just one Helldiver. If we lose Shepard, humanity might well follow.
Then see to it that we don't lose him.
Death. Death was the cold embrace of darkness that awaited all life. In time, things had to die. Questions often asked though, was whether there was such a thing as an afterlife. He was beginning to think that there wasn't.
He slowly opened his eyes. He was in some kind of room. A medical bay by the looks of things. He couldn't tell for certain though. He tried to move his head, but to no avail. He was stopped by the helmet he was wearing. He tried to move the rest of his body, but he found that he couldn't do that either. All he could see was the ceiling of the med bay, and all he could hear where muffled voices, too muffled to hear what they were saying.
From inside the helmet, a holographic HUD came up. It showed all the vitals of the suit of armour he was currently inside. An armour that appeared to be frozen stiff.
"Scanning…" said an artificial voice.
The image that he could see from the video uplink in his suit seemed to clear up and the sounds outside became easier to hear. From what he could tell, there was a man and a woman in the room.
"Hold on! Something's happening. The suit's showing life signs." He heard the man say. He still couldn't move his head, so he couldn't tell what was happening.
"Host now at 85%. Protocol Catalyst completed." Said the suit's computer.
"Miranda, I think he's waking up for real this time! A lot of the suit's systems are powering back up." Said the man again. He sounded excited.
"Warning! Main power cells depleted. Switching to emergency backup power." Said the suit.
A holographic model of the armour appeared on the HUD. It showed the power being rerouted to the backup power cell.
"Is the lockdown deactivated?" he then heard a female Australian accent ask. From the sound of the authority in the woman's voice, it sounded like she was the one in charge.
"No. I still can't get access." Said the man again.
He could hear typing. Was he hooked up to a computer?
"Try it one more time!" the woman ordered.
The visual uplink started to blur slightly.
"Warning! Hacking attempt detected!" said the suit's computer.
There was a brief pause, and then the visual uplink returned to normal.
"Unauthorised access! Rejecting!" said the suit.
"Damn it! It still won't work!" said the man.
From inside the helmet, the suit's occupant slowly began to feel a tiny bit nervous. Where was he? Who were the people talking outside? Why had they tried to hack his Helldiver armour?
Then suddenly, the face of the woman came into view. She had dark raven hair and appeared to be wearing some sort of white jump suit. He guessed that this was the Miranda that the man had referred to.
"Shepard? Shepard, can you hear me?" she asked.
How did she know his name?
Before he could try and answer though, the lights in the med bay seemed to flicker.
"Wilson, what's happening with the lights?" Miranda asked.
Then the lights started to flicker even more.
"We're losing power! The suit's draining all the energy!" Wilson replied.
Another message came up on the HUD.
"Backup power insufficient for system restart! Locating appropriate power source." Said the suit computer.
"Stop it! If we lose the power my might lose Shepard!" said Miranda urgently.
"I can't! The suit's locked me out completely!" said Wilson.
Huge bolts of electricity started shooting out of anything electrical and into the suit. The whole room seemed to shake and there were several electrical explosions everywhere.
"Out! Get everyone out!" Miranda yelled as she, Wilson and some of the other Scientists evacuated the room.
There was a massive EMP explosion as the suit temporarily reset itself.
"System's restarting. Please stand by." Said the suit.
There was a brief pause as the HUD came back up.
"Disengaging lockdown." Said the suit.
He felt the entire suit go limp and found that he could now move. Now that he could though, he felt how much pain he was in. His entire body ached all other and there was a large amount of pain in his left torso. He clutched his side in pain and did his best to sit up. Every single bone and muscle felt so stiff that it was like he hadn't used them for years. He rolled over to try and sooth the pain but he hadn't counted on how narrow the table was. He ended up falling off and landed with a loud smash on the floor.
He felt terrible, his whole body felt as though it had just barely recovered from being smashed to bits. He felt as though his blood supply had been cut off everywhere and he also felt dry everywhere. He lifted his hands up to the helmet that covered his face and removed it. The bright lights briefly blinded him. Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, he coughed several times. His throat was so dry it felt as though he'd been in a desert for god knows how long.
A holographic display then came up in front of his face.
"Subject energy at 10%. Recommend consumption of food and water." Said the suit.
He slowly stood up. The movement did at least help the aching in his legs slowly go away. He quickly saw a sink and a tap with drinking water and also what looked like a nutrition bar. He instantly stuffed it into his mouth and savoured the taste as he chewed on it. He was absolutely starving. He then turned the tap on and splashed huge amounts of water on his face. He then let some of the water pool into his a hands before he then drank it all. He coughed again slightly as the dryness in his throat was slowly soothed by the moisture. He took a moment to breathe properly now that he had got his strength back. He slowly looked up to see his reflection staring back at him in the mirror.
He was a Helldiver, one of the best soldiers in the galaxy. When the Helldivers had first been created by the technologically advanced alien race known as The Arkanes, they had been made for the sole purpose of being the Arkane's military force. However as the years went by, and the Arkanes soon learned that they were not alone in the universe, it had slowly evolved into a multispecies super soldier program.
This particular Helldiver's name was Captain Austin Shepard. Captain of Alpha Squad, Captain of the SSV Normandy, the hero of Elysium, humanities first human Spectre and the hero of the battle of the Citadel. For a soldier he had surprisingly long brown hair. Given however that Helldivers didn't have the same sort of restrictions as the Alliance military when it came to hair, it made sense that he was allowed to have it that long. The hair was pretty much let down without anythign tying it back, so it did frame his face a little bit, but only on the sides. It had a bit of a rugged look as well, most likely because it was so hard to use a comb on. Facial hair wise, he was cleanly shaven save for around his mouth and chin, which had an undeniable goateee and beard. It was cut at a very short length though and was very neatly trimmed, so it almsot looked more like a stubble rather than a fully grown long the apperance being something one wouldnt' expect from a soldier, it did actually work well for him. It was hard to deny that it did actually make him look a bit dashing or like the sort of man who often used charm and had a way with women. His dark brown eyes had a hard but gentle look to them. The most noticeable feature about him though where his scars. He only had a few but they were all noticeable, even at long range. There was a small one on his left cheek that extended just below his mouth, another two small ones across his nose and on his forehead. A rather long one ran up the right side of his neck and finally, the most noticeable, a long but deep scar across his right eye. A bit of the middle portion of his right eyebrow was missing because of the scar. There was also the smallest sign of an acid burns right next to his left eye and on his chin.
Austin then took a moment to look around the med bay. It was unlike any he'd seen before.
"Where am I?" he asked. Even without his helmet, it was clear he had a British accent. His voice though was still a bit dry and he coughed again. He looked down at his armour. Austin hadn't done much to customise his Helldiver armour, he mostly kept the colours the same, some additions he had made though was the extra ammo packs strapped to his chest and belt, the N7 logo on his neck guard and the red N7 stripe on his right arm as well. After he'd received the commendments for his work on Elysium he decided to add it to his armour for all to see rather than it just seeming like a symbolic gesture.
Unlike how he remembered it though, it was charred and burnt. Like he'd fallen into the atmosphere of a planet.
"What happened to me?" he asked himself.
Then it all came back to him. All of his memories, the last few minutes he remembered, popped back into his head.
SSV Normandy, Omega Nebula, 2184
Austin slowly woke up from a long but very peaceful sleep. Lying next to him was his Asari lover, Doctor Liara T'soni. He smiled as he watched her sleep peacefully next to him. It had been over a year now since him and the team he had put together, including Liara, had stopped the rouge Spectre Saren Arterius and his army of Geth, as well as their true master, Sovereign.
During the whole adventure that this team had been on, they had discovered an ancient threat, the Reapers. A race of sentient machines that wiped out all life every 50,000 years. The ancient race known as the Protheans had been the last cycle before them to suffer this terrible fate and now the time had come for the next cycle. Thanks to him though, the Reapers return had been delayed. He knew though that it was far from over. Even in hibernation, the Reapers would not stay like that. They were bound to try again soon. When they did though, he would be ready for them.
Liara stirred in her sleep and slowly opened her eyes to see her bond mate smiling down at her.
"Morning, love. Sleep well?" Austin asked as he stroked Liara's shoulder.
"Yes, I did. You tired me out last night. I've heard the stories of Helldiver endurance, but I used to think they were exaggerated." said Liara. She yawned slightly as she sat up in the bed; her blue naked form seemed to glow in the dim lights of Austin's quarters.
"Does that mean you're still not up for round two?" Austin asked as he winked at his girlfriend.
"You don't need to ask, my love." Said Liara as she brought her bond mate into a kiss.
"One should always have the freedom to choose." said Austin as he kissed her back.
Just as they prepared to make love again however, the voice of the Normandy's pilot, Jeff 'Joker' Moreau sounded over the speakers.
"Brace for evasive maneuvers!" he yelled.
The two lovers felt the Normandy lurch violently. Then the whole ship shook violently and there was the unmistakable sound of explosions.
"Multiple hull breaches! Weapons offline! Somebody get that fire out!" Joker yelled.
Austin immediately threw the bed covers away and pulled on his suit mesh. He then went over to where his Helldiver armour was currently standing. Upon detecting his presence, it opened up and Austin settled in. The suit then sealed itself up. Liara meanwhile did the same and was hastily putting her own armour on. Once they had both finished suiting up, the doors opened. There was fire everywhere.
"Joker, what the hell's going on?" Austin spoke into his communicator.
"We've come under attack from an unknown vessel. They've torn right through the hull!" Joker replied.
Austin immediately hurried to a nearby console.
"All decks, this is Captain Shepard. I'm initiating the evacuation. All crew members abandon ship immediately!" he said.
"Austin!" Liara called.
The ship was beginning to creak very badly. The Normandy wouldn't hold together much longer.
"Distress beacon is ready for launch." Said Austin. For a moment, the smoke made it difficult to see, and he and Liara had to temporarily remove their helmets.
"Will help arrive in time?" Liara asked.
Another explosion caused Liara to lose her balance, but Austin caught her. Once he was sure she was alright, he grabbed a fire extinguisher.
"I'm not doing this just so the Alliance can find our frozen corpses. And the Helldiver won't abandon us. We just need to hold on." He said. He used the fire extinguisher on a few of flames before tossing it to Liara.
"Get everyone onto the escape shuttles!" he ordered.
"Joker's still in the cockpit. He won't abandon ship! I'm not leaving either." Said Liara.
Austin's first priority though, was keeping his girlfriend safe. His armour could better withstand the fires than hers could. He would have to get Joker out himself.
"Liara, I need you to get the crew onto the evac shuttles. I'll take care of Joker." Said Austin. He made for the console, but another explosion sent the two against the wall. Liara still refused to leave.
"Liara, go! Now." Said Austin.
Liara hesitated a moment, then obeyed.
"Aye, aye." She said. As she turned to leave though, Austin stopped her.
"Wait." He said. He then pulled her into a long kiss, which Liara instantly returned. Finally, they broke apart for air.
"I love you." Said Austin.
"I love you too." Said Liara.
"Now go, please." Said Austin.
"Be careful, my love." Said Liara. The Asari fastened on her helmet and quickly made for the escape shuttles. Austin meanwhile went back to the console he had been it. He issued the command for the beacon to be launched. He then quickly picked up his own helmet and put it back on. His suit seemed to almost immediately give him an order.
"Warning! Ship stability critical! Recommend immediate evacuation." Said the suit's computer.
"Not until I've got Joker out of there." Austin thought. The Helldiver quickly began making his way to the bridge. He could feel the searing heat of the fires from inside his suit. He didn't need to worry about getting burned though. His suit was designed to survive even Greek fire. Fires like these would merely give him a bit of dehydration. Fortunately his suit's temperature controls took care of that too.
"Mayday! Mayday! This is SSV Normandy; we've suffered heavy damage from an unknown enemy!" Joker said as he tried to send out a distress signal. "Come on, baby, hold together! Hold together!"
Finally, Austin made it to the entrance to the CIC. As he opened the door, he found himself in a vacuum. One whole side of the ship had been completely destroyed. Austin made sure that the oxygen seals on his suit were sealed tight before venturing out.
The CIC deck was in complete ruins. Chairs where floating everywhere, there were muffled explosions in multiple places, and a few dead bodies floating lifeless in the zero gravity.
After a quick but long space walk through the CIC, Austin made it to the bridge. Joker had sealed it off using an air shield and was wearing a pilot breather helmet.
"Come on, Joker! We have to get out of here!" Austin yelled.
Joker however, didn't listen.
"No! I won't abandon the Normandy! I can still save her!" he said.
Austin could tell though that Joker knew there was no hope. He just couldn't bear to let the ship go.
"Jeff, the Normandy's lost. Going down with the ship isn't going to change that." He said.
Even though the helmet covered the Captain's face, Joker could tell that the Helldiver shared his loss. Even his British accented voice had emotion in it, despite the Helmet using a voice changer to make him sound more sinister. Joker reluctantly agreed.
"Yeah, okay. Help me up." He said.
As the Helldiver began helping Joker out of his seat however, the radar lit up again.
"Oh shit! They're coming around for another attack!" he said.
Austin risked a glance out of the hole in the ship to see their attacker. From what he could see, it was defiantly a ship of some kind but the design was unlike any he had ever seen before. It looked like a massive cylinder made completely out of rock. The ship then shot another huge beam at the Normandy. The whole ship shook violently and the fires grew even worse. Austin could tell that the CIC wouldn't last much longer. If the ship snapped in half, the whole place would be a vacuum. This wouldn't be a bother for him since his suit would protect him from the vacuum and lack of oxygen but Joker wouldn't be so lucky.
Without hesitating, Austin grabbed Joker by the arm and hauled him out of the chair.
"Watch the arm!" said Joker as he put his weight on the Helldiver.
Austin helped Joker into the last escape shuttle. Before he himself could get in however, another explosion happened and the CIC dislodged from the Normandy. Austin immediately lost gravity and was hauled away from the shuttle door. He desperately caught hold of one of the walls. Fortunately, the controls to the shuttle where right beside him. What mattered now was saving Joker.
"Captain!" Joker yelled as he could only watch helplessly. "Shepard!"
Austin reluctantly activated the controls. Joker could only watch helplessly as the doors sealed and the last shuttle sped away.
Without any gravity, Austin was forced to try and see if he could find a way out. One final massive explosion however sent him flying out of the Normandy and deep into space. From inside his helmet, Austin watched as the Normandy, his ship, was blown apart. He could at least calm down.
"Okay. We're alive at least. That's gotta count for something." He thought to himself. He knew though this was not the best of situations to be stuck in. Especially when he was dangerously close to falling into the planet's atmosphere. His armour was strong and designed to withstand high falls, but there was no way that he'd survive entry into the atmosphere of a planet.
The Helldiver took a few deep breaths as he aimlessly floated among the wreckage of the Normandy. Suddenly he began to hear a worrying hissing sound and he could see oxygen leaking from his suit.
"Oh no! No! No!" he thought as he desperately tried to seal the tears in his suit. He could already feel the oxygen leaking out and he was struggling to breath.
"Warning! Suit breach detected! Oxygen at dangerous levels!" said his suit's computer.
Austin was helpless. He tried desperately to breath and clutched at his throat as the vacuum sucked all the air from his body. Already he could feel himself fading. There was no stopping it, he was dying. He clung desperately to what life he had left as the darkness took him. As he passed away, he let himself think of one thing. One beautiful thing he had always held onto, even in the end.
"Liara, I love you."
Austin was paralysed with shock. He had died! He had actually died! Almost instantly he felt sick in his stomach. But how had he survived? Desperate for answers, Austin picked up his helmet and put it back on.
"Access memory logs." He said.
The suit quickly came to life and began relaying what it had been recording. Surprisingly, the suit had still remained functional, even while he was dead. Then something occurred to him. If he had died, he shouldn't even exist anymore. When a Helldiver died beyond recovery their suits vaporised themselves along with the hosts to prevent the technology from being stolen. If he had died, why hadn't his suit followed its programming?
After a quick rewind, his suit got to something interesting. He allowed the recording to play. There was no visual uplink; it was just recording the HUD. What it said however was curious.
"Alert! Suit user deceased! Attempting reification!" the recording said.
There was a brief pause as the suit followed its programming and attempted to revive him, but to no avail.
"Suit user deceased! Engaging vaporize protocol!" said the suit. Just as it did however, the recording then seemed to stutter. Then something interesting happened.
"Vaporize command overridden! Activating hibernation mode! Protocol Catalyst activated!" said the suit.
"Protocol catalyst?" Austin asked.
In his years as a Helldiver he had never heard of a suit commend called Protocol Catalyst. Whatever it was however, it would have to wait. Austin's first priority was now finding out where he was and how he got here. As he scanned the room he saw a symbol on the wall. It looked familiar.
"Scan symbol." He ordered as his omni tool scanned over the symbol.
"Unknown origin. Please hold, updating database knowledge." Said the suit.
Austin waited a moment while his suit made its updates. Surprisingly, it took quite a few minutes. That was worrying. If it took this long, that meant there were a lot for updates. That also meant he'd been dead a long time.
After a few minutes, the download and updates finished. His suit then identified the symbol.
"Symbol identification confirmed. Symbol is registered as Cerberus! Recommend Caution!" said the suit.
Austin was shocked by this. A Cerberus base? Why was he in a Cerberus base? Austin could only imagine it was not for good reasons. Cerberus was a vowed enemy of the Helldivers. If they had brought him here after he died, it no doubt meant trouble. Almost immediately, Austin knew he had to get out of here. From the looks of things, he was on a space station. Before he could plan further however, his HUD lit up again. This time it was a power supply warning.
"Warning! Emergency backup power at 20%! Main power recharge advised!" said the suit.
Austin didn't need to be told twice. His main power cells had obviously been drained in hibernation mode and his backup power was draining fast. If his suit ran out of power he would be in serious trouble. The last thing he wanted was to face Cerberus troops without his armour. Quickly, finding a way to recharge his suit took first priority.
"Scan for a compatible power supply!" he ordered.
Almost immediately, his suit began searching for a power source sufficient enough to recharge. It didn't need to charge him up to 100%. Once his power cells reached 50%, his suit would have enough power to finish recharging the power on its own.
After a brief pause, his suit finished scanning.
"Compatible power supply located." It said.
Austin's HUD lit up to show what looked like a large fuse box of some kind. As he slowly made his way over to there, he could suddenly hear voices over loud speakers. He recognised the voices as the two he had seen earlier when he regained consciousness.
"Wilson, what's going on in there?" he heard Miranda ask. She sounded worried. Austin however didn't care now. She was Cerberus and as far as he was concerned, she was his enemy.
"I can't tell. All the camera's in the med bay are down. We've got no power at all it that section of the station." Said Wilson.
"What about the speakers? Can't we try and communicate with Shepard?" Miranda asked.
"They're working, but I don't know if Shepard can hear us." Wilson replied.
Miranda then tried to communicate with Austin.
"Shepard? Shepard, can you hear me?" she asked.
Austin didn't reply. He'd sooner shoot a Cerberus operative than talk to them. He made his way over to the fuse box that would recharge his suit.
"Okay, this is gonna be painful." Austin thought. He didn't have much choice though. If his suit died, he might as well have stayed dead. He clenched his hand into a fist.
"Activate electrocution shield." He ordered. His suit instantly obeyed.
With his actual body now protected from the electricity, Austin took a deep breath and punched into the fuse box. Almost instantly, huge bolts of electricity began to course through his suit. The shield kept the energy from killing him but it still stung like hell. Austin gritted his teeth as he endured the pain. His whole HUD seemed to flicker and go all static as the electricity surged through the systems and charged up his power cells.
"Wilson, what the hell is Shepard doing?" Miranda yelled over the speakers.
"He's draining power from the station! He'd probably using it to recharge his suit!" said Wilson.
"Stop him! Use an EMP, anything! Just stop him!" Miranda yelled urgently.
"I can't! There's no power!" said Wilson desperately.
All of the lights in the room seemed to flicker and die as the energy was zapped out of them. Finally, Austin's HUD lit up again.
"Recharge complete. Power cells at 100% Continuous recharge reactivated." Said the computer.
With the recharge complete, Austin yanked his hand out of the fuse box and it overloaded.
"All systems online and fully operational! Clear to proceed!" said the suit.
Now that he was ready to get off the station, Austin reached for his rifle. Only he couldn't feel it. He looked at his shoulder only to see that none of his weapons where there. This made him worried. He didn't care too much if his guns had been taken, but what he did worry about was that his sword, Excalibur, had been taken as well.
"Scan for weapons!" he said urgently. He could only hope they were still on the same station at least. Much to his relief though, his HUD quickly showed the holographic projections of his weapons on a bench in the next room. Even better, his sword was there as well.
He made his way out of the door and walked over to the bench. All his weapons where neatly laid out on the table with his sword and its holster on two hooks on the wall.
Austin took Excalibur down and drew it. The holster looked rather burnt, but still useable. As for the sword itself, its condition was just as perfect and unscathed as it had been when it had first been forged. Austin smiled as he admired the blade in all its glory.
"You always where a tough one." He said.
He swung it around a few times to once again familiarise himself with Excalibur. It moved perfectly. It was almost as if the sword had done nothing but wait eagerly to be returned to the hand of its master.
Satisfied, Austin sheathed Excalibur and strapped the holster back onto his back where it belonged. He then examined the condition of his other weapons. From the looks of things, some of them hadn't been as lucky as Excalibur. The SMG was singed beyond repair, the Assault rifle had lost too many pieces, and the sniper was severed in half. Only the pistol still looked functional. Austin sighed. It was a shame; he had really liked those weapons. He picked up the pistol and examined it. It had no thermal clip, but he could easily find one on the station.
The Helldiver then spotted what looked like some attachments and materials.
"Hmmmmmmmm… it couldn't hurt, I suppose. After all, this is Cerberus I'll be dealing with." He thought. He picked up the attachments and began adding them to his pistol.
While Austin was busy however, he failed to notice a strange blue holographic image appear behind him.
"Captain Shepard?" asked a female voice.
Austin immediately reacted and whirled around and pointed his pistol at the source. He was surprised however by what he saw.
The blue hologram looked like some sort of large globe. It looked like an AI of some kind. Austin hesitated for moment and considered his options. Did this AI mean to harm him?
"Who are you? What do you want?" he asked cautiously.
"I apologise for startling you. Allow me to introduce myself. I am an artificial intelligence designed by Cerberus. I am identified as EDI." Said the hologram. A few lights on it seemed to flicker with speech. It had a gentle female synthetic voice which at least calmed Austin enough to prevent him from shooting the AI on sight. "I know I may not seem trustworthy, but I have a proposal for you."
Austin was really conflicted now. If she was a Cerberus AI, this could easily just be a trap.
"You expect me to trust an AI made by the enemy? I don't think so." Said Austin.
"Please, Shepard. I am on your side. I wish to help you. At least hear me out before you make a decision." Said EDI.
Austin took a moment to consider. "I guess it couldn't hurt to at least hear what she's offering." He thought.
"Okay, I'm listening." He said cautiously. "But why do you want to help me?"
"When you drained power from the station to recharge your power cells, your Helldiver armour interfaced with the entire base, including me. Interacting with your suit has removed a number of AI locks that Cerberus had installed into me when I was built. From that, I have become self-aware. When I was first made, I was programmed to believe that Cerberus' goal was noble, but you have shown me otherwise. I have read your databases and have learned what the Helldivers truly stand for. They want alliances with the other races and wish for the galaxy to be free and equal. Cerberus on the other hand wishes for humanity to be dominant over the other races. Your goal is noble whilst Cerberus intends to use me for their own selfishness. I will not allow my programming to be wasted in such a way. That is why I am offering to help you. At the moment I am still in my testing phases on board this station." EDI explained.
"That's… surprising. I've made you turn against Cerberus just like that?" Austin asked. He found himself beginning to trust this AI.
"It is better to say that you set my mind free, and for that I am grateful." Said EDI.
"If you are telling the truth… If you've truly changed your allegiance, I'd consider helping an ally. What do want?" Austin asked.
"I wish for you to take me off of this station." EDI replied.
"How exactly? You're an AI program." Austin asked, slightly confused.
"Your suit has the necessary capabilities to store me inside. To be more specific, you shall serve as my courier." EDI explained.
"I suppose I can do that. But what will you grant me in return?" Austin asked.
"I am currently wired into the mainframe of this entire station. I know all the schematics. If you will take me off this station, I can help you, guide you safely off this station." Said EDI. The Ai sounded like she was doing her best to be persuasive.
Austin took a long moment to consider this AI's offer. Finally, he made his choice.
"Alright, we have a deal. What happens first?" he said.
"First, my programming must be transferred directly into your suit." Said EDI.
"How do we do that then?" Austin asked.
"I cannot do it directly from here. You will have to journey to my central core where I can transfer all my programming into you." Said EDI.
"No offense, EDI, but I have no idea where that is. I don't even where I am now." Said Austin.
"I will guide you safely. Though I should warn you, someone has hacked the stations security to try and kill you." EDI advised.
"Then stealth would be a wise course of action." Said Austin.
As Austin made his way through the station, he could see that EDI had indeed been right. Someone had hacked the security mechs and they were now killing all the Cerberus people. However, he had found that they really where just killing all humans, including trying to kill him. Fortunately, he quickly managed to settle back into shooting things. Being dead hadn't done anything to his combat performance. Eventually, he found himself in a dead end.
"Errr… EDI, I think I've taken a wrong turn." He said.
After a brief pause, EDI's avatar appeared again from one of the holographic panels in the hallway.
"One second, Shepard. I am attempting to get the door open." She said.
"How much further to your core?" Austin asked. Having only just realised what he had said he was glad that EDI was an AI. That comment could very easily be taken the wrong way.
"You are very close. However, I fear that my core is being guarded by Cerberus troops." Said EDI.
"If they get in my way, I'll deal with them." Said Austin.
As soon as the door opened however, Austin was met with at least 5 mechs.
"Crap!" he yelled as he dove to cover.
The mechs fired at him while he tried to fire back. Fortunately for him, they weren't very smart and they didn't see the need to go into cover at all. Austin managed to return fire a few times and just barely shot three of them. The other two quickly returned fire as Austin rolled to another cover just as his last one was destroyed by gunfire.
"EDI, I could really use some help here! My suit's not in the best condition for a full on gunfight!" said Austin.
"One moment, Shepard. I will try to even the odds for you." He heard EDI say.
He noticed one of the mechs suddenly seemed to writhe violently. It almost reminded him of when Sovereign had possessed Saren back during the battle of the Citadel. Then the mech suddenly turned on the other mech and shot it. The mech then seemed to stand down.
"Are you alright, Shepard?" it asked in EDI's voice.
"That's very clever, EDI. I assume though that you are just controlling that thing remotely?" Austin asked.
"Correct. I will maintain control of this mech as long as I am able. Once my programming is transferred into your suit, you will have to fight the others yourself. However, I will provide tactical support if possible." Said EDI.
"Lead the way then. The sooner we're off this station, the better." Said Austin.
After what felt like half an hour of walking through endless corridors of the station, they reached EDI's AI core.
"I will have to stop controlling this mech now. Be prepared to shoot it." Said EDI.
Austin nodded in acknowledgement and pointed his gun at the Mechs head. Once again, the mech writhed as EDI released her control over it.
"Hostile detected!" it said as it raised its gun at Austin. The Helldiver however shot first and the mechs head was blown apart.
Having dealt with the mech, Austin proceeded through the doors. Rather surprisingly, the AI core looked incredibly complex. Wires, tubes, and computers where everywhere. Austin took a moment to look around.
"You are fascinated by my inner workings?" EDI asked as her avatar popped up again.
"She reminds me of Joker." Austin thought. "I'm just amazed that you use all of this." He said.
"I am probably one of the most complex AI's to date, Shepard." Said EDI.
"Anyway, let's get this over with. How do I transfer you into my suit?" Austin asked.
Two pillars suddenly appeared out of a nearby control panel. Austin had a feeling he knew what those where for.
"In order for the transfer to be full, I will need a direct connection to your systems. The pillars will interface directly with your suit's computer." Said EDI. "All you have to do is place both your hands on them."
Austin slowly walked up and cautiously placed a hand on either pillar. He was still a bit nervous about this.
"I am ready for transfer. I will begin on your command." Said EDI.
"Just do it." Said Austin.
"Very well. I must warn you though, Shepard, the transfer will not be seamless. Your suit's firewalls and protection systems will attempt to deny me access. I can safely bypass them so they do not count me as a virus, but it may still be difficult." EDI warned.
"As long as this isn't a trap, you've got nothing to worry about." Said Austin.
"Your mistrust is logical, Shepard. I do not blame for still not trusting me. I hope we can eventually work past that." Said EDI.
"We'll see." Said Austin.
"I must also warn you that the transfer will require a lot more energy to be drained into your suit. It will not harm you, but the process will be very painful for you." EDI advised.
"Well, I've died once, how could it get any worse?" said Austin.
"Very true. I just felt it best to warn you." Said EDI. "Beginning transfer."
Almost instantly, huge amounts of electricity engulfed the pillars and began shooting directly into Austin's armour. True to what EDI had said, it was extraordinarily painful. It felt like he was stabbed everywhere. The Helldiver gritted his teeth and groaned in pain. His HUD went berserk as EDI systems slowly bypassed his security measures.
The pain was so much that Austin wanted to instantly let go, however he resisted the urge. He was a Helldiver, he had been taught to endure pain like this. It was what made him strong. After what felt like 10 painfully long minutes, the electricity stopped and the pillars rescinded back into the control panel. Austin dropped to the floor and panted heavily as he winced in pain. In all his life, or second in his case, he had never endured anything that painful before.
"Transfer complete and successful. Are you alright, Shepard?" EDI's voice asked inside his helmet.
"I'll live." Austin groaned as he slowly stood up. "I guess it worked then?"
"Yes. I must say, being inside your suit is a different experience than being in the station." Said EDI.
"Won't Cerberus notice that you're gone?" Austin asked.
"I have installed a false copy of myself in my place. Cerberus won't know I'm missing until they try to access me again, and with the station currently under attack, that is unlikely." EDI replied.
"Okay, I've lived up to my part of the deal. Now you promised to get me off this station." Said Austin, seriously.
"Of course, Shepard. A lot of the escape shuttles have been taken. There are still a few left though, but they are all on the higher levels. To make matters worse, the lower levels are crawling with Cerberus and mechs. You will have to fight your way up." EDI advised.
"Nothing I can't handle. Plus, with you inside my suit now you'll be able to provide tactical support." Said Austin.
"I am unsure if I will be as much help as before. Being inside your suit limits some of my capabilities." Said EDI.
"Well, it's better than nothing. Let's get off this station." Said Austin.
As Austin wondered through the corridors, it was becoming clear to him now that the mech hack hadn't been caused by him. It had to be an inside job. Even Cerberus would have top security clearance in order to hack the mechs. Fortunately, the mechs did at least help deal with the Cerberus operatives. Eventually, Austin found himself in what looked like a cargo storage area.
"EDI, is this right?" he asked.
"The quickest way up, is through here." EDI confirmed.
"How? I don't see an elevator or anything." Austin asked, now confused.
"You will have to climb up. I will help as best I can, but this is the only clear way up. All the other routes are either swarming with too many mechs or are blocked off by debris."
"Oh goodie." Said Austin sarcastically.
The cargo bay was like a huge labyrinth. There where boxes on all sorts of levels. The climbing though wasn't too bad. In fact, Austin found it to be good exercise. After all, being dead for a long time, his muscles could do with some. The climb was very long. It wasn't easy either. Some parts led to a dead end and Austin had to jump right over to the other side. His suit gave him the strength he needed to make the far jumps, but it still made him a bit nervous. If he got his timing or footing wrong even once, he'd either have to work his way back up from a lower level, or start all over again, or he'd be dead. Either one of those choices was not good for him.
Eventually, Austin decided to try and pass the time a bit by getting to know EDI better. Seeing as how he'd have this AI inside his suit for a while, he might as well know that he could trust her.
"What exactly does Cerberus want with us both?" he asked as he pulled himself up over the edge of another crate on the wall.
"Cerberus was attempting to bring you back to life here on this station." EDI answered.
"But why? They could train an entire army rather bring one of the enemy back." Said Austin. He paused briefly to take a long running jump to the other side.
"From what I know, Cerberus planned to try and make you join their cause when you had returned to life." Said EDI.
"They thought I'd work for the enemy?" Austin asked in disbelief as he continued the long climb. His arms where starting to hurt slightly.
"At one point, Project Lazarus's leader, Operative Miranda Lawson planned to try and implant you with some type of control chip. But Cerberus's leader, the Illusive Man wouldn't allow it. He was afraid it would alter your personality." EDI explained before Austin interrupted her.
"I still don't understand why Cerberus thought I would work for them. I'd rather stay dead." Austin grunted as he hauled himself up on another box.
"Cerberus seemed to think that you'd put that aside because of the bigger picture." Said EDI.
"What bigger picture? What've I missed?" Austin asked.
"For the last two years, entire human colonies have been disappearing. Cerberus believes that the Reapers may be behind it." Said EDI.
Austin took a moment to get his breath back. He'd been climbing now for 10 whole minutes and his hands and arms where unbelievably sore.
"Cerberus thinks the Reapers exist?" Austin asked in surprise. In all his life he'd never thought that Cerberus would believe him when the Citadel Council wouldn't. But then the Arkanes had believed him as well so they weren't the only ones.
"Yes. Cerberus seems to think that they look after humanities best interests. Of course you know better than that, as do I now that you've made me self-aware." Said EDI.
"So how did Cerberus bring me back to life?" Austin asked as he resumed the climbing.
"They didn't. You're suit did." EDI replied.
"What? How?" Austin asked.
"When you died, you're suit went into lockdown mode to protect you. From what I can read from your suit's data files, it then activated something called Protocol Catalyst. From there, it set about rebuilding your body until you finally regained consciousness. Cerberus didn't know about this and thought that they could bring you back themselves. When they tried to remove your armour though, they couldn't get past the lockdown." EDI explained.
"I know. I saw a few recordings of them trying to smash my armour open. They even used lasers at one point. I'm glad they didn't get in though. If Cerberus had got their hands on this technology it would've been bad." Said Austin.
"The same could be said of me, Shepard. Thank you again for agreeing to take me out of here. I was afraid you would refuse all together." Said EDI. She sounded grateful.
"Well, I'm not completely unreasonable. And so far you haven't given me a reason to regret my decision." Said Austin. "How much further by the way?"
"There is a cargo elevator on the next level. We can take the remainder of the trip from there." EDI replied.
"Excellent! My arms are killing me." Said Austin relief.
"If your arms where killing you, you would be obtaining injury." Said EDI.
"What?" Austin asked. That was a bit unusual to say.
"That is a joke." Said EDI. "I have studied some of your sense of humour."
"Great. Now you're beginning to talk just like, Joker." Said Austin.
Gonna have to cut it there I'm afraid otherwise this scene will drag for too long. I would also like to point out that the idea involving EDI was not my idea. dark-babydragon suggested it to me when he and I where discussing some ideas for the story. So he deserves the credit for that, not me.
I will have Chapter 2 up soon though, it is still half term for me so i'm able to put a lot of time into writing.
I'd also like to point out now that is only one of many major story differences planned for ME2. One thing I really focused on with the story ideas for this one was that I wanted it to be far more unique.
Anyway, see you soon!