The search for Cortez so far has resulted in finding more scientists but not Cortez. Griggs along with Larentia, Langer, Bering and Nicols have been searching for just over an hour.
"Hold up," says Griggs as his omni-tool beeps. "This is Griggs."
"Lieutenant Griggs, the asari commando unit has arrived," says Iona.
"Good. We have one more wing of this place to search. I am sending you the coordinates now. Tell them to meet us there. It should take us about ten to fifteen minutes to get there."
"Understood Sir," says Iona.
Kasumi stayed on the Normandy. Griggs wanted an able warrior to be close to the ship in case anyone got in behind his squad. She has made sure the three spies on the Normandy remain restrained and in the shuttle bay. The Brig, which is located on the same level as the CIC holds one and only one person and that is Commander Ashley Williams.
"I really must insist Kasumi that she be moved here," says Dr. Chakwas. "I need to monitor her condition and I cannot do that by having to visit her every hour."
"I don't like the idea of her in the same area as Alhe and Shepard Doctor. I am afraid you are going to have to treat her here for the time being."
Ashley is restrained within the brig. She woke once since shooting Alhe. She was screaming and demanding to be set free. That she was not under the influence and needed to take command. It was obvious to Doctor Chakwas and her assistant Anne that Ashley was not herself. Keeping her restrained within the room allowed the doctors to help her without fear of being harmed and it allowed Ashley to use the toilet when necessary as she has been throwing up quite a bit.
"I don't like her color," says Chakwas. "She needs fluids and every time I look in on her she has taken out her IV. This would not happen if she was in the Med Bay."
"Have you asked Shepard or Alhe about it?" asks Kasumi.
"Ensign Alhe completely understands that it wasn't really the Commander who shot her. And Shepard, well she is hardly awake enough to offer an opinion."
"Very well. If you feel it is necessary in order to treat her than we can move her," says the thief. "You can never remove the restraints Doctor. She is very dangerous. I do not want anyone else hurt."
"Understood Kasumi and thank you."
"I suspect you asking me is more of a formality. You are in charge when it comes to the wellbeing of the crew. And though Griggs left me in charge while he is off the ship you are in charge when it comes to medical matters."
"Quite right Kasumi. But I wanted to discuss it with you nonetheless."
Kasumi smiles. "Very well. Let's move her then."
The kids are in bed. Tali and Aethyta are upstairs. Liara has no idea if they are sleeping or not. The asari cannot sleep. Knowing that her bondmate is safe and sound on the Normandy is a huge relief. Her eldest daughter at the dinner table said 'Da Da good'. This of course is another reason to celebrate but Liara will not be convinced until Elly is home and in her arms.
Drinking some tea the asari is in the secure room of the house. Knowing that the main person behind all off this is a human woman that goes by the name of Blake, Liara decides to get to work to try to find out more information. She already contacted Feron so that he and Bria could also try to track down some information.
"Hey kid," says Aethyta. The Matriarch was given the code to the secure room. Her daughter did not hear her approach.
Nearly dropping her tea Liara says, "Goddess Father you scared me."
"Sorry about that. Why are you still up? It is the middle of the night."
"What?" Liara looks at the time. "I had no idea. I …well it feels like I just came in here."
Aethyta sits next to her daughter and looks at all of the vid monitors that take up the wall. "What are you doing?"
Rubbing her eyes Liara says, "I am trying to find information on this Blake character. So far nothing has come up."
"You need your sleep Liara. Don't you have to teach tomorrow?"
"Yes I am afraid I do. I really didn't realize how late it was."
"Have you heard anything from Shepard or the Normandy?"
"Just what you know already when Karin called earlier. She let me know that Elly was sleeping comfortably."
"Any word on when they are going to return?"
"No not yet."
"Why don't you go to bed Liara? Worry about this tomorrow."
Using her hand to cover her yawn she says, "I will."
Aethyta is not happy that her daughter has not moved from her spot. She stands and places her hands on her shoulders. "Let's go kid."
Liara looking at a data pad does not budge.
"Let's go Liara." Aethyta lightly grabs her upper arms.
"Hmm? Oh now you mean?"
"Yes now Liara. You are exhausted. You need your sleep."
Liara stands and allows herself to be guided into her bedroom. She loves that her Dad is there to take care of her. She doesn't know what she would do without her. Before she knows it she is in her pajamas and under the covers. She doesn't remember undressing. But her body remembers the softness of the bed. And though she prefers to cuddle up with her bondmate Liara falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.
"Hello, I am Lieutenant Griggs of the Normandy." He extends his hand to the asari commando in charge.
"Lieutenant, I am Bistra. What is the situation?"
Griggs is impressed to say the least. Asari commandos have a reputation around the galaxy that they are very formidable opponents. Looking at the group of eight asari now, he is very happy to know they are all on the same side. He sees Valya behind Bistra. They met at one of the T'Soni/Shepard dinner parties. He nods to her when their eyes meet.
"We have come across only scientists so far," says Griggs. "We are looking for our shuttle pilot Steve Cortez. We have not been able to find him yet. There is one more wing of this facility we have not searched yet."
"No resistance then?"
"Not yet no."
"Do you think that odd?"
"In fact I do which is why I am happy to have your help."
"Would you like to go as one unit or two?" asks Bistra.
Punching a few buttons Griggs brings up the blue prints. "You see here."
The asari nods.
"I think this is a bit of a choke point. We can split once we are through this corridor, but if I were the enemy this is a perfect place to set up a defensive fight."
"I agree." The asari looks closer at the blue print image. "What about the vents?"
Pointing to the image, "I could have a few of my unit scout ahead in the vents above the corridor to see if an ambush is indeed waiting for us."
"Sounds good to me," says Griggs.
"Very well." Bistra turns to her commando unit. "Valya and Lahja."
The two asari step forward.
"See here," she points to the image. "I want you two to scout ahead and provide a report of what is in the room pass the corridor. Lieutenant Griggs believes it is a good place to set up a defense and I agree with him. Be swift and silent."
The two asari nod and head toward the opening of the vent.
Thankfully Ashley Williams was asleep when Kasumi and Chakwas along with Anne approached her in the brig. Transferring her to the Med Bay was easier than they all thought it would be.
Now Commander Ashley is resting comfortably in the Med Bay, the back to be precise away from Shepard and the recovering Alhe.
The commotion of the gurney and the movement stirred Shepard awake. Feeling as if she has been asleep for days all she can manage to say is more of a grunt. She blinks away the water in her eyes due to the bright lights of the med bay and she tries not to panic when she realizes she is once again tied down.
Feeling a hand on her shoulder and a calm familiar voice Shepard takes in and lets out a deep breath.
"There you go Shepard good."
"Where…where am I?"
"Anne could you get some water please," says Dr. Chakwas. "You are on the Normandy Shepard, specifically the Med Bay."
"Again?" Shepard manages a small laugh.
"Yes I am afraid so. We really must stop meeting like this. Here." Chakwas sets the straw at Shepard's lips. The human Spectre takes a few sips then one long drag once she knows she will not cough. "You are restrained at the moment because we need to make sure you are okay."
"What do you mean?"
"We can talk about that first tell me how you are feeling."
"My head feels like it weights a hundred pounds. My mouth feels like I ate paste. My body hurts all over. Was I sick or something?"
"What is the last thing you remember?"
Shepard looks around as best she can. "Who is that over there?"
"Hey Shepard," says Alhe.
"Is that Ensign Alhe?"
"It is," says Chakwas.
"What is the last thing you remember?"
"Ah well…I remember being in a room. Feeling like I was going to throw up my head hurt so badly. I think I was on Mars. Ashley! Where is Ashley?" Shepard tries to sit up forgetting her restraints. "Are these really necessary?"
"Calm down please Shepard," says Chakwas as she puts her hand on the woman's shoulder.
"Karin please take these off."
"Do you remember Scorpion?"
Shepard fights the restrains again before just lying there. She doesn't like being restrained it brings back too many horrible memories. "Yes. They are the group we are tracking. Where is Ashley is she okay?"
"Have you lost time recently?"
Shepard looks at her. "How…I thought only Liara knew about my lost time. What the hell is going on? I need these off Doc please." She feels her heart beat starting to race. Memories of torture start to flash through her mind. "Take these off please." Her voice is getting louder.
"Calm down Shepard. I need you to …"
"I need out of these now Karin!"
Chakwas looks to Anne. The assistant grabs a syringe.
"Elly please listen to me," says Chakwas is a very calm tone of voice. She puts her hand on her shoulder. "I need you to calm down. You are safe here. I need you to breathe."
"I…please take these off I need these off." She starts to fight against the restraints.
"Calm down Elly. You are safe here."
"Then let me out of these things!"
Chakwas nods to Anne who is out of Shepard's peripheral vision. The assistant quickly sticks her with the syringe.
"What the!" Shepard tries to move her arm.
"Please calm down Elly. This is to help you sleep. You need to rest," says Chakwas.
The doctor leans close to her ear, "What?"
"Don't hurt me please…not…not anymore…" Shepard turns her head and is out.
"Damn what was that about Doc?" asks Alhe.
"She is a bit confused is all."
"Confused? She was downright scared Doc. Why didn't you let her out of her restraints?" Alhe is pissed off and trying to keep her calm.
"Excuse me Ensign but I do know what I am doing. It is for her own good. We have to make sure her blood sample comes back clean. That she is no longer under Scorpion's influence."
"Well you sure could have handled that better."
The Doctor is about to say something but thinks better of it. Part of her agrees with Jen. She was not expecting Shepard to become so agitated.
"So can I leave?" asks Alhe.
"You had surgery not that long ago Ensign. I would like you to remain here overnight for observation."
"Are you sure? I think I would heal faster if I was in my own rack."
"I am sure Ensign."
Jen lets out a sigh and lies back down on the med bed.
Valya is in the lead. Crawling through the vents is not hard work but trying to do it quietly is. Lahja is in charge of sending updates to Bistra and the waiting squad. Valya stops in the vent. She communicates via her omni-tool that she past where the corridor ends and the room begins. She tells Lahja to stay put. The asari taps her foot in response.
Valya continues her slow crawl. It takes about ten minutes to move three feet. She is not able to see inside the room, not yet. She hears voices and freezes.
"What the hell is taking them so long?" the voice sounds like a man's.
"Who knows. Why don't we just surrender?" another man.
"Yeah I think we should. I mean we are talking THE Normandy, we are screwed," a third man.
"NO ONE is surrendering you got me! That's why we have him with us. They will let us go as long as we have him."
Valya hears a muffled voice. She cannot see Cortez, but surmises that he must be in the room. She continues to listen.
"Check the door, CHECK IT!"
"Okay okay." She hears the door open. "Nothing, no one is out there."
"Man we gotta go. They are going to kill us when they find us."
"Shit you two are cowards, how did you get this job anyway?"
"Hey fuck you."
"What did you say to me?"
It is silent for a few minutes.
"Okay okay fine! I'll do it!"
"You're damn straight you will do it."
"We are not going to be able to get out of here you must know that?"
"You get into position and say nothing! I am sick and tired or you two belly aching!"
Valya sends a message to Lahja regarding what she heard and that she believes there are three hostiles and Cortez in the room. She will continue to crawl and try to get a visual on the room.
Lahja starts to head back so she can be with the squad when they enter the room.
"You have found nothing Feron?" Liara is on the phone with the Drell who took over as the Shadow Broker. The asari woke up and could not fall asleep again so she called to see if he has made any progress.
"I am afraid not Liara."
"I cannot say I am surprised. I also am not finding much at all. Whoever this Blake is she certainly knows how to stay hidden."
"Bria and I will continue to search Liara you have my word."
"I appreciate that Feron. I trust she is doing well? Is she feeling alright with the baby on the way?"
Feron smiles, "Yes thank you Liara. She is feeling fine. Everything is going well so far. We are both very excited."
"And how are things with your father?"
"Oh everything is wonderful. I am so happy to have her here."
"I do hope Shepard is home soon Liara. You two have been through so much."
"We all have," says Liara. "Please give Bria my best Feron and let me know if you hear anything."
"I will. Good bye Liara."
Griggs the squad and the unit are outside of the door leading into the room where the hostiles are. Valya sent another report after she was able to see only part of the room. It seems like it may be a storage room of some sort. She saw boxes in a corner. She is not comfortable trying to get to another vantage point because she does not want to risk being detected.
Having a plan Griggs counts down. He is shielded with beautiful blue light. Bistra is right behind him. When he says zero the door opens quickly and he is through it with precision.
Each asari commando is paired with a squad member. The asari shield themselves and their squad member. Entering the room knowing the hostiles are waiting for them is not ideal in any situation but without seeing the entire room the group did not want to risk Cortez's life with a different entry strategy.
Bullets spit his way when Griggs enters the room. He cannot help but flinch when they ricochet off the blue shield around him. He quickly shoots the first hostile with three rounds, two to the chest and one to the head.
Bering is the second squad member that enters with his asari counterpart. He quickly takes out the second hostile.
Nicols, Langer and Larentia and the rest of the commando unit enter the room. All of their weapons are pointed at the third hostile, a man who is standing behind Cortez with a pistol to his head.
"Stay back!" the man yells.
While the unit enters the room Valya quickly crawls through the vent hoping the distraction of the unit is loud enough to cover her movements. She is at an opening which happens to be close to the man.
Cortez is standing but looks a bit shaky on his feet. Griggs sees out of his peripheral vision that the pilot seems a bit out of it.
"Put the gun down and no one gets hurt," says Griggs.
"Yeah right! Back off!" The man points his gun toward Griggs then places it at Cortez's temple again.
Instead of jumping down through the opening Valya instead anchors her legs against the vent walls and ducks her head through the opening. Her upper torso is protruding from the opening in the ceiling.
The man is nervous and is looking from person to person to person waving his gun then pointing it at Cortez's temple. He sees an asari look up behind him which makes him quickly turn and fire his gun.
"Valya!" Lahja yells.
Valya throws a small ball of blue biotic energy toward the man. It knocks the man off balance which makes him momentarily let go of Cortez. Griggs does not have a clear shot. But someone does. The man is on the ground within a second, the pistol clattering away from him. Cortez falls to his hands and knees and Valya falls out of the vent.
"Clear!" says Griggs.
Langer runs up to the man to check on him. Lahja runs to Valya to check on her. Larentia and Nicols are at Cortez's side.
"You okay Cortez?" asks Nicols.
"Yeah I…I think so."
"He's dead," says Langer.
Bistra moves quickly to Valya, "How is she?"
"She is fine," says Valya as she stands. "Not the best landing though," she laughs.
"Are you sure?" asks Lahja. She tries not to appear overly concerned but it is hard.
"Yeah. I…I am not hit."
"Let me check," says Bistra.
Valya stands as straight as she can while the asari commando checks her out. "You were lucky."
"I'd say," says Lahja. She is pointing to a bullet hole that is inches from the vent opening. "Look."
Both asari look up to see it.
Bistra touches Valya's shoulder, "Well done Valya. I still want you to be seen by our Doctor."
"I'm fine really Bistra."
"Nonsense. I want to make sure you didn't hurt anything when you landed."
"Well I could have Dr. Chakwas check me out," says Valya.
"That would be fine. We are going to remain with the Lieutenant to see if he needs us." Bistra sees Cortez being led out by Larentia and Nicols. "Why don't you accompany them and help with the pilot if necessary."
"Yes Bistra thank you."
The asari nods. "What more would you like from us Lieutenant?" asks Bistra.
Finishing up a report to Dr. Chakwas he replies, "I would like to start grabbing intel. I think we could be here for a day or two based on the size of this place. Are you able to assist with that?"
"Yes of course Lieutenant. I will contact Councilor Tevos right away."
"Thank you Bistra. I would be a dead man if not for you."
"Think nothing of it."