Guilty Sparks


Many Eons Ago...

At long last, final preparations were complete. It wouldn't be long before the plan saw fruition. A sense of satisfaction permeated through him, but there was also a sense of dread. There was no denying that what they were about to do needed to be done, but the consequences of it were still readily apparent. Trying times called for grave measures however, and these times were indeed trying. There was no sense in retreating, going back, ignoring the grim task ahead of them. They had accepted that long ago, there was no changing their minds now. Not in their present forms. They had a duty to fulfill and they would see it through.

That was at least his conclusion. 343 Guilty Spark could only assume from previous conversations with his counter-parts that they shared similar thoughts. There were still troubling questions, but not in regards to what their task was. After all, they weren't activating the array, they were its caretakers. There was a difference.

But his unrelated concerns still permeated his thoughts as he floated through the halls of the lifeworker ship. Lifeworkers, their custodians, responsible for getting each monitor to its assigned installation, he wondered how they felt about all this. Was the dread even greater for them? They knew what was to come next better than anyone else. But considering how resigned to their fate their people seemed, Guilty Spark presumed it was no more worse than any other. Regardless they remained silent for the most part. They only responded to a few prodding questions, some even asked a few. Mostly about his choice if he had one. His answer troubled them, but he could not help but be honest.

He floated into the main chamber of the ship, past several tubes full of fuel and coolant. His fellow monitors were there already. He supposed he had been slower in getting here. He had been admiring the craftsmanship and design of their vessel as he wanted to keep a detailed account of the ship. It would be a long time before he saw any of its kind again, perhaps never again. He would soon be the keeper of an installation for the rest of his days. Which he knew would be a long time.

With that in mind he had settled on recording the lifeship interior for posterity. He wanted to hold this moment in time in his mind as long as he could. While installation 04 was impressive, as all the installations were, he still marvelled at this ship's construction. After all, its purpose was just as, if not more important, than the installations themselves. They played a role even after the array's mission was complete.

Upon this vessel of rebirth, 343 and his fellow monitors were to convene for the final phase of the plan, the Index collection. Just one of the many things they'd be guarding over the next unforeseeable amount of time. Of course this auspicious moment meant something more for all them. This would be the last time any of them saw one another in person. Communication between monitors was said to be plausible, but for how long they'd be able to maintain such long range communications was indeterminable.

Guilty Spark was going to miss them to say the least. They had not known each other for long, but each of them had gotten to know one another sufficiently in the short period of their existence. They were, after all, bound by the same task. A strange form of camaraderie existed between the monitors now and it was hard to imagine losing touch with them all so soon.

He joined the circle and quietly received his Index in time with the others. The vast amount of code flooded his circuitry and processors. It was not overwhelming, but it felt strange nonetheless. He would not be holding it for long of course. He would have to deposit as soon as he arrived in his new home.

As the monitors parted from the circle to speak with one another and await their respective portals opening, Guilty Spark moved among the group, searching for one monitor in particular. 049 Abject Testament resided by the grand window of the vessel staring out among the stars. The red glowing orb, contrast to Guilty Spark's blue aura, was easy to point out among his many fellow monitors. Almost as if he suspected Spark's approach, he spoke up.

"The void is truly fascinating." He said "I've never thought about how far we've stretched as a people. Strange, that I only think of it now."

"It is humbling I suppose." Guilty Spark agreed "To come so far and fall so low."

"An inevitable conclusion 343." he responded as he turned to face Spark. "Everything must fade. It is unfortunate that this is how we must go. I will be happy to just see this done."

049 floated beside Spark as moved to a corner of the ship, a little out of the ways from everyone else.

"Have you viewed the status concerning your installation?" he asked

"Oh yes, quite considerably." Spark responded somewhat chipper "However, it does not appear terribly different from any other. The landscape is mostly similar in all respects. I do wonder the purpose of the organic environments however."

"A way to conceal their purpose should anyone or anything arrive on them accidentally." 049 explained "Assuming anyone will. Supposedly they will be able to support some life in time, but that has yet to be seen."

Suddenly the two stopped and looked at each other.

"There is something on your mind 343," 049 said at last "I can sense it. Are you as concerned about the after effects of the plan? Of the rebirth so to speak?"

"Partly, but greater concerns permeate my thoughts currently." Spark admitted "Rest assured I have confidence in the plan. The Librarian has always been so thorough and forward thinking, but the loss of contact with the domain..."

Spark wondered if he should continue. What did it matter in the scheme of things? It seemed so petty in the grand scope. But 049 looked eager to listen.

"The history of all Forerunners will be lost to us Abject Testament." He said "All that our people were will be forever gone and it will no doubt deteriorate with time."

"This has been anticipated and accepted by the Librarian." 049 reminded him "It has been deemed necessary."

"But will future generations remember us at all?" Spark asked "Or will they only know of our weapons? It all seems so... wasteful to lose so much so completely. I wanted your thoughts on the matter. Do you fear that they will forget us?"

Abject Testament seemed to contemplate the question for what seemed like hours, staring unwaveringly into Guilty Spark all that time. He was not having difficulty processing the answer. That much Spark could tell. He was just trying to figure out how direct he should reply. Knowing 049 it would be as straight forward and simple as he could make it. As expected, he finally answered in a few simple words.

"We deserve to be forgotten."

It was as best an answer Spark could hope for and one he had no choice but to accept.

"Perhaps, perhaps." Was his only response

Abject Testament's portal opened soon after and Spark bid his fellow monitor farewell. Soon it would be his turn. Soon, he'd be forgotten as well. They all would be.

July, 27th, 2185

Liara T'Soni kept watch over her monitors, her tired eyes darting over the probes keeping vigil on the sector that had preoccupied her focus for the past seven days. Seven days with no updates, seven days with no contact. Just empty black nothing from what she could see. There were signs of ship debris, but too much for the Normandy and with no recognizable pieces. There was barely anything left of it to be frank, just scrap.

The whole thing had become nerve racking, more so than ever before. Her friends, Shepard, Garrus and Tali, along with everyone else aboard the Normandy were missing. Weeks before they had been by her side and now they were gone. Shepard, newly revived from his previous death two years ago by Cerberus, was now missing again and this time Liara didn't even know if he was still alive.

Weeks prior, her former commander had helped her repay a debt to a friend and destroy a dangerous enemy of hers. The Shadow Broker, the greatest information broker in the entire Galaxy, the person who had held her friend Feron for two years and put a price on her head for just as long, was now dead. She had in turn taken over all that was his. His network of agents, information brokers, mercenaries and spies, they were all hers now, all following her orders and her lead.

With it she had used them and the impressive stores of information inside the Shadow Broker's massive ship to discover information pertaining to an even greater threat, the Reapers. A race of monstrous machines waiting in Dark Space, slowly approaching their galaxy to continue a cycle they had been repeating for countless eons. The extinction of all organic life, which had recently been revealed to exist for the sole purpose of turning the species they harvested into more of them.

And they were coming back, to a galaxy woefully unprepared for their arrival.

Liara, desperate to assist Shepard in stopping this cycle, had found information she believed could help. A wormhole the previous Broker had found in an uncharted system on the edge of the Perseus Veil. What made this singularity unique was that the Broker's scans suggested that it was artificial in nature and had been created by something utilising extremely powerful mass effect fields. The only things that could do that were Mass Relays, the source of intergalactic travel, and the Reapers themselves. Realising the potential importance of this anomaly, Liara had given the information to Shepard. He had gone to the wormhole to uncover its secrets and that was the last she had heard of him.

All the information in the galaxy at her fingertips, all the resources and materials of this massive organization in the palm of her hand and yet she could not find out what had happened to one blasted ship. She watched as another scan came up empty. The frustration of the past week finally boiled over and Liara slammed her hands down upon her console in anger.

"Damn it, where are you?" she asked in a hushed fit of rage.

In the midst of her sudden outburst she heard another person in the room coming up from behind. She turned to see a single drell, her friend Feron, carrying a full glass of liquid. Feron was the whole reason she had been after the previous Shadow Broker before her. She had left him behind two years ago to save Shepard's body. He sacrificed his freedom to give her a chance. She had thought him dead since then. It had only been recently that her plans for revenge turned into a rescue mission, thanks to Shepard of course.

Free from his torturous imprisonment, Feron elected to stay on as Liara's new top agent. He was the only one within the organization now that knew the whole story behind her new job. He hadn't done much save for helping her sift through the massive Shadow Broker database and rebuild the network in general, but field work wasn't a big concern as of now. Not with Shepard and everyone on the Normandy missing.

"I thought maybe some Selvelana Blue would ease your mind." He said raising the glass up.

"I'll drink when I get results." Liara responded returning to her work.

Feron placed the glass down beside Liara and the dashboard. He gave the Asari a worried look as she continued looking at her screens, all of them showcasing a different part of the system where the Normandy had last been.

"Have you even slept yet?" he asked her

"I took a nap for an hour today." She admitted "That's good enough."

Feron shook his head in frustration.

"Liara, you're not gonna find anyone when you're half tired and running on fumes." He informed her "Take a break, have Glyph run some automatic searches."

Liara looked to the ever active little white ball of light that kept speeding across the floor of her information center. Glyph was a VI the former Shadow Broker had created. Liara had repurposed him of course, much like everything else. She still needed to fix one little glitch though.

"The Drell is correct Shadow Broker," Glyph cut in "decreased rest time leads to anger, hallucinations and a potential drop in operational efficiency."

Liara rolled her eyes at the little VI. That was really getting annoying. The identification protocols were the first thing to fix when she was done locating Shepard. She turned back to Feron.

"I will sleep when I know Shepard and my friends aren't in danger." She replied to Feron "I'm not pawning off my responsibilities to anyone on this. I have to be there when we find them. Send out another probe search."

"Liara we have probes scanning practically every planet in the system!" Feron reminded her "I think it's time we-"

Liara turned to Feron suddenly, an incensed gaze in her tired eyes.

"Time we what Feron?" she asked, guessing at the implication.

Feron, his hands held up defensively, backed a step away.

"I was only going to suggest we widen the search area." He explained "Maybe they're just not in the system anymore."

Liara placed a hand to her forehead and sighed deeply, embarrassed at herself, especially in that she just proved Feron's earlier point.

"I'm... sorry. It's just... well I led them there." She explained to him solemnly, rubbing her forehead vigorously.

"I know, but it's not your fault." Feron assured him "Besides, this is Commander Shepard we're talking about. Whatever he's gotten himself into he can handle it. Goddess of oceans, he beat death! I mean, what else can you say?"

Liara's smile returned slightly, her senses seemingly returning after removing her eyes from the screen.

"Your confidence is appreciated Feron, believe me." Liara assured him politely, a slight laugh in her voice "Still, I can't get over this terrible feeling that something has gone wrong. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't like being left in the dark about it. Not when Shepard, Garrus and Tali are all involved."

She remembered serving with Garrus and Tali on the original Normandy. The turian had a huge chip on his shoulder and seemed to have a great disrespect for authority. He wanted to punish the guilty, whatever the cost. Liara had been a bit concerned about him. Thinking of him as a possible loose cannon aboard the ship. She remembered how he had been suspicious of her when she first got on board, her family ties being suspect. Still Garrus had a good heart and it only took a little help from Shepard to make him understand the importance of getting the job done right, not just fast. He even quickly lightened up and learned to trust her.

Tali had reminded her of herself when they first met. So eager to make her mark on the galaxy, and of course the family issues and expectations. One could say she had the most to prove on that first mission. She was a lone pilgrim with a political leader as a father she wanted to please. As well as a member of a race ostracized by the galaxy trying to help bring down a rogue spectre leading the very machines her people created. Only Chief Ashley Williams, with her marked past in the Alliance military, had as seemingly big a burden to bear. Maybe that was why Tali and the sometimes xenophobic Williams got along so well. Liara had liked the little quarian as well. Almost from the moment they met. It was hard not to, everyone just seemed to gravitate to her curious and chipper personality. She remembered overhearing Chief Engineer Adams talk about how wonderful it was to have someone so enthusiastic about ships to liven things up in the engine room. She had also certainly noticed how Shepard seemed to share that sentiment, among others. Her mind chuckled inwardly at the thought of letting her Commander know then what the little jumpy quarian thought in kind earlier than he had found out on his own.

The idea that any of her former squad mates were in danger, as well as Joker and Doctor Chakwas who were also aboard the first Normandy, sent shivers down her spine. She had gone through losing two friends and just getting them back weeks before. She would not allow five more to die again if she could help it.

"If anyone knows how to handle themselves out there it's those three." Feron reassured her once more.

"I just wish they had left something behind." said Liara as she lifted the cup the dashboard, allowing herself a moment to relax. "Something we could use to track them. Let us know what happened."

"If they didn't whatever forced them to leave the system and go dark must've not given them enough time to do so." Feron suggested.

Not exactly a comforting statement, but it was better to think they didn't have time to think about making sure they could be found than the alternative. That still left the question of where they had gone standing though.

Suddenly a low frequency alarm sounded on the upper left corner screen. Liara transferred the feed to one of the screens further down quickly and surveyed it.

"That's a proximity motion alarm." She realised, speaking aloud "Someone is somewhere they shouldn't be."

Liara brought up camera feeds of the area of the ship the alarm had been triggered at. She saw nothing, at first. Narrowing her eyes closer at the muggy black and white screen she played back the last twenty seconds. She thought, for a moment, she saw a shimmer, a cloaking field.

"We have uninvited guests." She informed Feron coldly "Call up all guards in that sector now. Inform them the Shadow Broker is sending me to direct them personally."

"You need back up?" Feron asked

"No, stay here and monitor the situation." Liara ordered firmly "I'll take care of this."

"Any particular reason why?" Feron asked suspiciously

Liara got to the doors, letting them slide open before she answered.

"A hunch."

She walked through the doorway and let it close behind her.

Several Millenia Ago...

Alone. It had taken so long for it to sink in. Alone. Alone on this installation for eons, meticulously counting every microsecond, cataloguing every day, week, month, year, decade and century. All from the singular point he had arrived. To say Guilty Spark had gotten bored would be an understatement, but it was because he was bored that he had become so frustrated.

They had said this would not happen, promised even, and yet despite some minor fruitful weeks some time ago, nothing of interest had occurred. It had left him with so much time to think, contemplate and consider everything that had brought him to this point. He had even done something he never would have thought previously, re-evaluate the plan.

It was the only thing he could do. The mistakes that had been made were too clear and apparent now to not think of them. Floating through the various regions and climates of the installation should have provided enough stimuli. However it did not take long before he could recall every rock, tree and speck of sand he had come across. It was all so familiar to him now, nothing was surprising anymore, it was all the same and always had been the same. He recalled when he briefly tried a little experiment, releasing some of the environmental habitats from their atmospheric and gravitational connection to the installation. But that quickly lost its intrigue as it did little to show anything other than, yes, trees could not survive long in a vacuum. Not a very intellectually stimulating experiment, or exciting.

What they should have done was allow the various climate controls of the installation change and adapt over the years. The stagnation was just tedious. No environment stayed this similar for so long. Also, more indigenous species, he had already catalogued all of the ones currently placed here. They had emerged from stasis shortly after the plan had been enacted and allowed to thrive. But because the stagnation of their climate they had no need to evolve or change. They too had become complacent and dull. Their behaviours fully observed and recorded. If they had been allowed to evolve further in response to their changing environment then at least their changes in behaviour could be recorded.

Another thing they should have done was assign two monitors to every installation. Being alone meant he was losing focus. Losing focus on a task as important as this one was dangerous. After all there was more than just the array to look after, more than just this one installation. This place was dangerous in more ways than any carbon based sentient life form could imagine. Inexperienced eyes of course would not think of it as such. Again, the very reason it looked the way it looked.

Sometimes Spark wondered though, about his last words with 049. The danger this place posed seemed to prove his words correct. If someone somewhere discovered what this place was, well, think of the consequences. He already devised several terrifying scenarios, several possible ways something could go wrong. Perhaps it was best they were forgotten so that no one would find this place, at least not on purpose.

But the consequences of this array loomed and Spark thought back to that one accidental meeting so long ago. A crashing ship, an unknown crew, a chance to be judged and he had not reacted. He followed protocol and did as he was told to do. It was the closest evidence he had to life beyond this installation and he let it slip away.

Why guard this place if nothing was left out there? For all he knew those life forms were the last of a dying race, one born from the muck of their world long after the event had passed. Why guard against what does not exist? Perhaps leaving the ring would be better. There was a nearby gas giant. He could travel there. It would help him and he most certainly would not be bored.

A sudden tick occurred in his processor as he thought of that prospect. The idea of travelling the cosmos suddenly faded from mind.

"How unproductive of me." He thought aloud to himself as he floated forward.

His lack of focus was disturbing, even to him. Still he hated how often his mind wandered and was yanked back so frequently. As he moved along he passed by one of the indigenous fauna, a bird resting in a tree. Well, not a bird precisely. It's reptilian tail did have a semblance of a rudder, but it was still a tail. The fore-limbed claws on the tips of the wings were there as well. Definitely not bird-like. It only used those for hunting prey.

The creature turned its beak to him, raised its feathered crest on high, a display of aggression. Then it took off, scampering up the tree before flapping off wildly into the skies. The usual response, it managed to alleviate five or so seconds of boredom. The monitor moved away from the tree and continued on his usual patrol of the installation.

This all would have been a lot easier to take if he had others to converse with about these thoughts of his. Of leaving the installation, his on and off desire to learn what, if anything, they had accomplished. It was in his nature after all. He wanted to learn, to experience, to know, to re-discover all they had lost, all that had happened since he arrived here. If there was just someone to ask, someone to tell him about it all, but no there was not. Just him, a world lightly populated with mindless animals and the dangerous cargo below the surface. If only he could leave, just for a little while. Just to find out what had happened, to know that this was worth something. All of it had to be worth something. He did not just want to be told it was doing some good, but to know it was doing some good, that it had done some good. He hated not knowing. Hated that he had been seemingly forgotten and no one even cared.

Perhaps he should leave, just to satisfy that curiosity.

The tingle in his processor returned moments after.

July, 27th, 2185

The interior of the Shadow Broker's ship was designed for function, not comfort. Its hallways were cramped and narrow. They needed to be to facilitate all the necessary hardware to keep this vessel afloat in the skies above Hagalaz that resided behind the walls. Add to that the millions of bytes worth of data streaming through the cables and wires throughout the massive craft. Besides the Central Broker Chamber, any other rooms on the ship were rather compact and small. There simply wasn't much room for anything otherwise.

However a ship this big still needed a crew and despite its difficult living conditions there were no shortage of people willing to work aboard it. So long as the pay was good enough. Liara had quickly transferred most of her newly acquired agents to positions aboard the ship. The ones she believed she could count any way. The previous owner of this vessel had groomed most of his trusted elite guard aboard the ship from orphans and lost souls with nowhere else to go. Liara wasn't willing to go that far, so people looking to get ahead in the organization was all she could manage.

It had taken awhile to find the right people of course. She needed to find those she could trust among the network. Even though she and Shepard had done a number of the previous Broker's ranks there was still a big talent pool to go over. Luckily, Liara had all the time in the world to fill the positions she had emptied during her "hostile takeover" and the ship was now fully manned again, for the most part.

By the time Liara got to the area the alarm went off in a squad was already there in full force. They were carefully going down the hallway, keeping their guns pointed forward and their eyes sharp. Even with the hum of the various mechanical and electrical devices hidden in the walls there was an eerie semblance of silence as the squad did their work. They were slowly coming up to a series of information access junctions. They were the only thing really worth of value in this corridor. If there was an intruder somewhere, he'd be here. After all, the only reason you'd raid the Shadow Broker's ship was for information, this was an easy junction to acquire it from.

One of the guards spotted Liara as she walked up the hall. He was a human male in full body armour from head to toe. Originally the face masks had made her jumpy. They reminded her of the previous wearers and how they had tried to kill her in these very corridors. It was only natural, the red tinted eye holes and white pale helmets were meant to be intimidating. After awhile she settled, grew comfortable with them. It helped that they were no longer shooting her.

"Doctor T'Soni," he greeted "boss said you were coming. Could use the help, anyone who breaks into here has to be some kind of badass."

Good to see he wasn't underestimating the intruders. It wasn't easy for her to get in here after all, regardless of how successful the raid had been. Mostly she was just glad that they were being friendly. She had been a bit worried that some of them were aware of Liara's history with the Broker, that they'd question her cover story. The idea that the Shadow Broker decided to forgive Liara and employ her into the fold along with Feron was originally, in her mind at least, a difficult pill to swallow. Luckily pretty much everyone who came aboard bought the story or otherwise fell into believing it later. Making friends of enemies was a good strategy.

She supposed she could've told them the truth. She could've told them that she was the new boss now and their old broker who signed their checks was vapour. But these people were mercs, regardless of how friendly they acted. They were ultimately in this for the money and prestige. Again, she didn't have the luxury or the stomach to mould impressionable people into mindless drones. If these people knew killing the Shadow Broker was all you needed to do to take his or her place... well she didn't want to have deal with that.

"I believe they're using some kind of cloaking technology." She warned them "Do you have motion tracking sensors up?"

"Trying but we ain't getting a fix on anything." He replied

"Go for thermal then." She ordered "We may have more luck with that."

The guard did as asked, his helmet beeping with the sound of a switch in visor views. His head scanned ahead, near the data junction nook and suddenly his eyes latched onto the junction's far right. There was something just coming out behind the wall. Liara saw him raise his gun and a second later he fired a shot. The bullet whizzed past his fellow guards towards the data junction's corner and struck something. There was a yelp of pain, blue blood poured onto the ground and materialising out of thin air appeared a stumped legged short little alien. It wore a gas mask over its face and bright yellow armour and whimpered heavily as it clutched its arm.

The guards moved in on the injured intruder, rifles at the ready as they crowded around the data junction. The alien stumbled back and away from them, dropping what looked to be a weapon of some sort to the ground as it did.

"The hell is that?" asked one of the guards, very much confused at the creature shivering before them "A volus?"

A second guard began to answer that question.

"Don't look like no volus I ever-"

Without warning an energy blade burst through the guard's chest, his words cut off by a terrible scream of agony. Something stepped up behind him from the corner of the junction, its cloak evaporating just as its short comrade's did. This alien was taller, at least eight feet high, and wore sleek blue armour. Its stature and appearance resembled a turian, but not quite. It's roared a primal scream, its mandibles jutting outward as it. He kicked the guard off his sword and turned the second nearby.

"Holy shit!"

That was all the guard could get out before unloading into the alien. The bullets simply bounced off the alien's shields, which appeared to resonate around the creature's armour in general rather than a large bubble barrier. The alien slashed at the guard's face and turned towards Liara and the other guards surrounding the intruder. As the alien charged Liara threw up her hand sending out the only thing she knew that could stop this monster, a stasis attack.

The alien's charge was halted and it now stood motionless within the hall. Liara got in close and quickly followed up her stasis attack with a powerful biotic punch. The alien was thrown clear down the hall, but the reality of the situation soon became apparent to the Asari. More of the stumpy aliens and their eight foot friends appeared, three of the former and four of the latter. Each of the big ones carried those same energy swords and as her guards rushed in Liara watched them get cut down just as quickly.

One of the tall aliens in red armour grasped at the head of on the guards as he closed, trying to hit the intruder with the butt of his rifle. Instead he found his head locked in the alien's talons, his body thrown against a wall and stabbing energy blade in his back. Another guard was hit with several shots from the smaller aliens as they tried to retreat. His shields were downed quickly as what looked like green plasma struck his shields. Then, when they were completely gone, a huge plasma burst from one of the guns struck him clean in the chest. A scream of pain later and he was down on the ground.

Another guard was kicked clean into a wall by one of the tall aliens. Liara could hear the metal bend under her hired gun as he impacted the obstruction. The Shadow Broker guards soon realised a close quarters combat situation was not ideal and began to pull back to cover as the aliens regrouped in the junction.

But Liara did not move, instead she stayed at the front. She would not be a cowardly observer like her predecessor. She'd protect her people, not sacrifice them. She opened up with her pistol on the aliens using warp rounds. Her carnifex's bullets impacted the shields of the shields of the aliens, hitting them hard. Liara sent a warp attack hurtling at the closest of the sword bearing intruders, striking him square in the face. The attack set him off guard and allowed the Asari a chance to get the upper hand. She raised her hand, glowing bright blue as she did, and formed a singularity behind the charging aliens. The intruders were lifted from the ground, along with two of their shorter compatriots, and began to swirl around in the air. Liara then pushed both her arms back before violently throwing them forward. A powerful throw wave cascaded into the aliens, detonating the singularity and sounding a tremendous boom in the process.

The aliens fell back to the floor, slamming into the hard metal just as badly as they had done to her people. Liara quickly waltzed up to one of the downed alien and pointed her gun at his head. These things had busted into her ship, a ship she took the better part of two years to even find.

"What are you?" she demanded to know, an angry snarl on her face "How did you find this place? What do you want?"

The alien looked up to her with a weak look on his face.

"Your destruction is the will of the Gods." He said, seemingly without emotion and monotone in its sound. He raised a balled fist upwards "And we are their instruments."

Liara's eyes went wide when she saw what the alien's fist was holding. Acting on pure instinct she shoved her arm forward, pushing the alien clean across the floor. He slid towards the downed stubby legged aliens and in that instant he exploded into a blue fire ball. Liara shielded her eyes as the eruption took place. When the dust settled, there wasn't much of the alien or his fellows.

"You alright Doc?" one of the guards asked as he walked up to her.

"No, I am not." She responded flatly, still looking on the charred remains of her would be killer "Our only link to finding out how they located this ship is now gone."

The guard's head suddenly turned to the side and looked to the data junction.

"Maybe not ma'am." He said pointing.

Liara turned to see one of the stubby legged aliens crawling about the floor in pain. Without skipping a beat she quickly marched over to him. There was a concern that he was wired as well, but the way this little thing was moving, trying desperately to claw away to freedom, Liara doubted it had the resolve or the guts to kill itself so dramatically. In either case it didn't matter, she had questions, information to cipher from this intruder and being the Shadow Broker information was her priority. These things showed up not long after the Normandy's disappearance. That could not be a coincidence.

She grabbed the alien's armour around the collar, picked him up and shoved him into a wall. She pointed her pistol at his quivering face with her free hand.

"Your friend wasn't cooperative." She informed the alien with fuming glare "You are going to tell me everything I want to know."

The little alien could only bleat and whimper in fear as the Asari stared him down.

"Now start talking." She demanded "Where is Commander Shepard?"

September, 19th, 2552

You had to take what you got. That is how Guilty Spark now saw it. Any little thing to stave off his problems with boredom, his inability to focus, if it kept occupied for even a few seconds that was worth it. It was not easy, especially when you had already done everything. He had even reviewed everything he had done two-hundred-six-thousand-nine-hundred-eighty-seven times just to be reminded he had done everything he could do on this ring. He tried to focus more on his work, on his duty now and again. It was hard, straining even, but it helped keep him preoccupied. Staring into the void at night cycles, picking out stars, calculating the time until they went nova, monitoring the security systems, if it kept his mind think it meant less time spent mulling about his boredom of being here.

At times, Spark honestly wondered if boredom was driving him mad or perhaps even worse... incredibly and overwhelmingly sane. He longed for anything, even something small, just something to interrupt the monotony of it all. Some form of change, anything! He did not even care if it failed to answer so many of his questions about the outside world. So long as something happened. He looked forward to something, anything happening.

That was when the installation's proximity alarm sounded. Quickly he teleported away from his current position back to the security hub. It took awhile but in a matter moments he was back within the confines of the building, a blaring red emergency light and klaxon ring echoed through the halls. He looked at the screen and saw what the commotion was about. It was a vessel, fully operational and within unacceptable range of the installation. Protocol dictated anything less than one light-year removed from the ring was to be regarded as a threat.

This was not like last time, a crashing ship that he could not halt. This time he could make contact first. He followed through with protocol regardless. First he initiated a long range scan of the ship and then administered the warning.

"Warning, by order of Ecumene Council, proximity to Installation 04 is forbidden." He announced "Your continued presence will result in most unpleasant countermeasures. I must insist that you immediately change course and return to a minimum safe distance of one light-year."

There was no response, but the scan continued. The silhouette of the ship soon came on screen and the scan of the vessel proper commenced. It was a strange bulky craft with a large and cumbersome engine system, although its armour was impressively thick. Spark could not properly indentify the make of the vessel and could only assume it belonged to some unknown species. The defence systems were now locked on, even as the scan continued. Despite its armour the ship would be easily dealt with. It had no shields to speak of and their hide would only get them so far.

"This has served as your one and final warning." He stated once again "I have activated defence systems. You now have thirty seconds to return to a minimum safe distance of-"

The scan suddenly completed and the information on Spark's screen stayed his fulfillment of his function. He paused, information poured into his memory core. No, not information, answers. Thousands of years, condensed down to a few minor seconds. An incomplete but still exhaustive record of history, forgotten history, history he had long sought to know. And now here it was, on his very doorstep, looking him in the face.

Structures, discoveries, explorations, technology, biology, genetics, it was all here. How curious. Curious indeed. At once Spark deactivated the defence system and cleared the ship for access, he could not risk losing this chance. Even better, protocol dictated that he do so. For once, the rules were in his favour.

"Greetings humans, welcome to Installation 04. Ignore prior warnings and please continue." He stated cheerfully, but added a new warning. "I have disabled defence systems to allow your approach, but you must not exit your ship once you have arrived at the designated landing center. This ring holds significant dangers and even with your assumed legacy I must verify the presence and pitch of your geas before allowing full access."

Geas was the genetic subconscious command system contained with certain species. If it was still active in these humans this could prove very interesting indeed. But whatever the case, 343 Guilty Spark was elated. He could barely contain his joy as he spoke to these visitors, these humans. Here at last was proof that the sacrifice had not been in vain.

"We have much to discuss, humans." He said before ending the transmission "I have been away far too long. You have been away far too long."

AN: Special Thanks to Crow T R0bot for acting as editor for this story. More Later. Please Review. Thank you for Reading.