The doors to her room hissed open, where she heard the familiar clack clack of high heeled footsteps marching across the floor, a wary voice calling to her.
She raised her hand, high enough to raise the tips of her fingers over the decorative glass that held her, as of now, few model ships, alerting Lawson to her position down the steps on the couch of her room.
More click clicks of the heels and the white of Lawson's skin tight suit was within her peripheral vision. "You called me Commander?" The woman asked, her tone casual, yet very nearly cold all business.
She jerked her head, still not saying a word as she gestured for the agent to take a seat on the other side of the leather couch.
The woman glided over to the smooth black leather, her eyes never fully leaving the silent Specter. Data pads strewn across the coffee table, a glass in one hand, gold colored liquid in it. Her other arm over the armrest of the black couch, staring forward, eyes vacant yet brimming with turning cogs of thought.
The brunette sat, resting casually as she settled herself down comfortably, eyes raving over Shepard's still form, analyzing her as she'd done for nearly two whole years already.
She allowed the silence to stretch, remaining calm as she waited for Shepard to make the first move.
But the silence waned for what must have been minutes; with Shepard, still staring straight forward, the ice in her glass clinking as it shifted with its progressive lack of volume.
Finally, Lawson decided to speak, opening her mouth as she took a breath, only for Shepard's steel blue eyes to finally move and turn on her, shifting to a vague shade of purple in the distinct lighting as the red cybernetics beneath her skin made themselves known.
"I want to know everything about project Lazarus."
Miranda swallowed, allowing herself to lean back into her seat as Shepard kept her gaze fixed on her, making the genetically tailored woman resist the urge to shift uneasily and work to meet her gaze.
"I assume you'd want me to focus on what pertains with what we did to you specifically?" Lawson ventured; more at ease now that there was someplace to take the conversation.
"To start." The red headed commander nodded.
"You'll have to understand that there are some things I cant fully disclo-"
"You people worked on me. On my body." The Specter interrupted, her voice cutting through whatever was going to come out of Miranda's mouth with a barely contained sneer, her passivity dissolving like cheap butter under a blow torch. "You're going to tell me everything Lawson. Or I'm gonna throw you out the airlock while we're in deep space."
The brunette beauty raised an eyebrow, eyes narrowing on the woman. "Are you threatening me?"
Shepard suddenly reached down with her free hand, between the folds of the seat, pulling out a pistol, she laid it across her lap, her eyes never leaving Miranda as the woman's attention went straight down towards the weapon now poised to shoot her. Her spine straightening as she realized she didn't think to bring her own gun with her.
Nevertheless her confidence, though cracked, was still strong. "You're going to shoot me?"
"The only other person who can fight me on this ship is Jacob. The two engineers down in the lower deck are ex-alliance, I'm pretty sure if anything went down they'd side with me. If they don't, they're not fighters. The rest of this crew consists of navigators, a doctor who is definitely loyal to me, a pilot that is also loyal to me, an ex-civilian cook/janitor and a handful of support staff. None of which have any armor and only some hand me down weapons training. Two clips...that's all it would take to clean them out using this pistol."
Shepard paused, purple tinted eyes simmering with something undefinable, more appropriate for a Krogan or Turian than a human as she made a show of shifting her grip on the gun's handle.
"You really wanna do this?"
The question was rhetorical so Miranda didn't answer, her mind sifting through strategies and possible ways to escape this situation.
But she knew Shepard. She knew everything that they'd done to her, every augmentation, every enhancement and upgrade. If she even held half the potential the estimates had measured in the computer she could empty that clip into her skull before she could even reach halfway across the table. Biotics be damned.
There was a sudden pounding at the entrance and Jacob's voice, muffled, still rang through the rooms confines. "Commander! EDI says there's been an incident. I need you to open the door."
The woman didn't answer still looking at Miranda without even glancing at the door, even as Jacob's voice once again boomed through the doorway with words that brought a smile to Miranda's lips.
"EDI, activate override code 33284"
There was a whirring noise before the sputtering of electricity, hydraulics freezing up half way across their tracks.
"I may not be an engineer." Shepard said, watching as the faint upturn of Miranda's lips vanished. "But traveling with a Quarian mechanic can teach you a thing or two...especially when it comes to how not to open a door."
Miranda watched the commander, face still impassive as she kept her gaze fixed on her. Purple tinted eyes barely blinking as they met hazel brown.
The silence was so thick, and so tense you could have cut it with a knife, both women locked in a battle of wills.
But Shepard was the most stubborn person in the galaxy. With the skills to back it.
"To start your skeletal structure has been replaced almost entirely. Collagen, the outer, hard layer of your bone, has been removed, and in its place, we've put lamminite, a lightweight metal. As strong as steel but only half as dense; vecchio alternated layers of aluminum and titanium alloy foils give it its strength and it's as pliable as normal bone so an impact wont leave internal muscular bruising. To make sure of it we used special nutrient strands to make the tendons that connect the bone to your muscles about eighty three percent, if I recall correctly, stronger. The Cartilage between your joints was also modified. We were able to design a special form of gel composite, which would provide near frictionless movement."
The red headed woman nodded, hand still gripping the gun. "What else? I take it I still have normal bone marrow though. To produce-" She gestured vaguely. "Blood cells and fat-cells and everything else?"
"Correct" Miranda stated. "Still, as lightweight as the bones are they still weigh much more than normal bone. So we had to restructure your musculature to compensate. Your muscles consume protein more effectively, produce more lactic acid and thus, can grow quicker than normal, and maintain themselves with less work. In addition to that as with, now everything else in your body when the torn muscles caused by exercise heal they carry a special fluid of microscopic fibers of nutrient strands, which not only expedites the healing but makes them stronger than normal once they do heal"
"So...all n all?" Shepard drawled.
"All n all." Miranda mimicked. "You're twice as strong as a normal human, maybe stronger. We never had the opportunity to test your strength what with you being unconscious and all.
She nodded slowly. "What else?"
"To support the new muscles we needed to upgrade two things in the reconstruction. Your lungs, and your heart" Miranda continued. "The human body as you know breathes in oxygen, exhales carbon dioxide. What isn't commonly known that a good percent of what we exhale is still oxygen the body couldn't absorb quickly enough. With an increased concentration of aveoli and blood vessels, your lungs absorb these last oxygen traces, while increased hemoglobin compounds in your blood carry more oxygen through your bloodstream while your heart, can now pump nearly twice as much blood with each beat than what it could before. Which greatly increases the exchange of carbon-monoxide for oxygen Its much more effective in carrying and distributing oxygen throughout your body.
"More energy and resistance to physical exertion." Shepard translated to herself nodding slowly as her gaze traveled upwards, finally abandoning Miranda as she leaned back against the couch, though her hand was still firmly on the gun, and the weapon was still pointed at Miranda where it lay across Shepard's lap.
"With those advantages came dangerous downsides we had to remedy though." Lawson said, relaxing a bit herself when Shepard finally seemed to ease up a little. "Just the same as oxygen could be carried more effectively, so could an airborne gas or poison. It'd kill you all the quicker. So, to counter that, we augmented your liver. That's one of the few pieces of the project I didn't directly oversee personally so I can't really tell you all the details. Though I can forward you the file with those details later." She added as Shepard's eyes quickly returned to her at the statement. "But as you can imagine." She continued. "Your liver is quite a bit stronger than a normal humans, able to process various toxins that would disable or otherwise kill a human."
Shepard looked to her, an incredulous eyebrow raised. "What are we talking about here? Can I just eat spicier food? Or are you saying I can drink poison and flood my bloodstream with red sand?"
Miranda snorted, miffed at the mockery. "Don't be stupid Shepard, you can still die like any other human. It'll just take a bigger dose. Especially when it comes to airborne toxins. Like I said. We made sure your new lung capacity wouldn't be a weakness."
"Care to elaborate." It wasn't a question.
"Well, in addition to your increased ability to absorb, and distribute oxygen, the scientists of Lazarus made what you would call...a mesh of sorts along the lining of your lung sacks. What they do is is that they capture, anything with a molecular structure larger than O2, Oxygen. Sinks it, and stores it inside your lungs, preventing it from entering your system through your breathing."
Shepard, for the first time in the conversation winced, grimacing as her lips curled in disgust. "You mean I'll instead be walking around with my chest full of toxins instead? Not very...healthy sounding Miranda."
"Your right it wouldn't be." Lawson admitted, with a shrug. "The toxins will escape your lungs as you sleep. As you know, everything slows down during sleep. Your breathing, your heart, everything. The toxins escapes your lungs then. Entering your bloodstream slowly, allowing your liver and imuno-boosters to do the work, piecemeal instead of having your entire system flooded with foreign toxins.. Even when the 'sinks' are overcapacity it should take little more than a few hours of rest to "clean out" your system. Of course...breathe too much in and it wont matter. Your body will succumb to the toxins once your lungs have to release them in order to avoid internal damage. Also, to stop you from bleeding out from an injury more easily due to your more powerful heart we manipulated your bones to produce more platelets, and made it so that there's always a small amount of platelets already coursing through your bloodstream. Not enough to cause any complications. But the improvements will clot even a grievous injury in just a few seconds."
Shepard closed her eyes, her grip finally easing off the pistol, though her gaze returned to Miranda, making sure the Cerberus agent wouldn't do anything...stupid.
Finally she allowed herself to sigh. "You guys thought of everything huh?"
"Almost. The only thing we didn't really augment any more than absolutely necessary was your brain Shepard."
"What does that mean...you didn't do anything other than...restart it?"
"That." Miranda admitted, venturing slowly. "But...we...also...tampered...with...your Parietal and Occipital lobes. Essentially the parts of the brain that control your visual cortex synapses, your input, output sensory data, and motor controls. You may have already noticed this in some of your fights. Your reflexes are almost supernatural in speed. When your mind registers that you are in danger, our...changes will make it so your synapses fire more rapidly, at nearly three times the rate of a normal human even with adrenaline running through their system. We had to nearly double the number of Neural pathways in order for the messages to be carried faster and more effectively throughout your body, allowing your hands to keep up with your eyes so to speak. Something that was far from an easy task.
Shepard nodded. She had noticed that. There were times where everything simply seemed to slow down, when she thought she could almost see...even...consciously dodge bullets from her opponents. She'd thought she was buggin' out.
She still did.
"Is that why I've lost my Biotics?"
Miranda partially failed to hide a wince. It had been the only thing project Lazarus was not able to do. Every time they tried, brain activity would skyrocket into the red-zone, risking brain hemorrhages and extreme trauma. Lacerations from Biotic energies would have torn her head apart from the inside out, or worse.
Even more dangerous than that than that had been the high potential for tumors. As high as seventy percent.
Finally the Illusive man deemed it too dangerous, and it was thrown to the wayside. Shepard had been an exceptional soldier before her green, Prothean Biotics had manifested, and when she'd outlined the various physical augmentations that could be made he decided, ultimately, that the risk wasn't worth the gain.
"No." She answered at length. "Your Biotics were simply...too complex...too...alien. We weren't able to decipher and replicate whatever it was that manifested them through the influence of the Prothean Beacon on Eden Prime.
Shepard grunted, head falling back, eyes closing. As she sighed, as though suddenly relieved of a powerful headache.
She raised her hand, looking at the skin of her palm. Carved with the deep life lines that ran from her fingers to her wrist. She ignored the glare of the overhead lighting, using her own hand to shield her eyes from it.
"Would you say..." She ventured, not turning to look at Miranda as she continued staring at her own hand. "That I'm more machine than human, now...Miranda."
Shepard's tone was aloof, calm, as though she didn't really care for the answer. Miranda considered lying to her. To grant her the petty self assurances and false platitudes others would find comforting. But Shepard was a woman of strength...coddling her would be insulting...and if she couldn't handle the truth...then she was a waste of the massive investment she represented.
"They say Geth blur the lines between Organic and Synthetic life. Shepard. You..." She paused, measuring her next words as the purple tinted gaze turned to her, simmering with emotions Miranda couldn't identify.
"You eliminate it."
I've had this oneshot on my mind for a while, looking to explain certain aspects of ME2 and ME3, namely the abilities Shepard has, and the fact that he/she can shrug off as much damage as a tank and has abilities like adrenaline rush and such.
Like all my oneshots this might be an idea I run with, or develop further later if inspiration strikes me or if demand is high. So anyway hope you all enjoyed it for what it was worth R&R pls. :p