The Equalizer

Chapter Three

"What if I say I'm not like the others? What if I say I'm not just another? What if I quote a song and let it go? I know, I know…things seem strange and bizarre, but the answer's there, easy to understand. Of course, only a twisted mind could see a twisted reality not deformed by madness. Aren't we all a bit mad though, to believe in dreams of electric sheep?" Prime Unit Organic.

"The greatest technological discoveries can only be achieved through warfare. It is a sad reality that Hitler needed to be born in order for humanity to evolve. It is extremely horrible when you realize that in time of peace, humanity can't find anything newer than a new type of fashion or cry of political scandal. Humans need war in order to evolve.

And I had all the intention of making them the top of the evolutionary pyramid…no matter the cost that would be paid." Shadenight123.

Jane Shepard was awake and running around the Normandy within three hours. Sure, Chawkas insisted against it, but she wasn't a N7 operative. The doctor fussed too much on 'wounds re-opening' and 'points of suture', but Saren wouldn't be caught by himself.

"Commander, there's the council wanting to speak with you," Joker's voice buzzed through the intercoms, before she brought up her Omni-Tool to reply.

"Tell them I'm busy now, I'll call them later."

"All right Commander, Joker out."

She nodded to herself, before heading towards the lift that would lead her to the hangar. She had a few choice words to deliver to John, and she was going to make sure the lesson had really stuck.

The moment the doors opened, John Smith walked out of the elevator with the pony-tail marine. Jane stopped and crossed her arms over her chest as the marine saluted stiffly before departing towards the far end of the corridor and beyond, to the ship's crew quarters.

"Shepard," John began calmly.

"Remove your helmet," she snapped. "I want you to look me in the eyes when I'm talking."

"If this makes you feel better," he retorted as he unclasped the visor to reveal his half-marred face once more.

"Yes," she exhaled. "You were Alliance, weren't you?"

He moved his head to the side and brought up an eyebrow in perplexity.

"No? Good, it's enough to get you arrested for having infringed on at least over a dozen of regulations concerning hacking into secure military channels and remotely controlling the shuttle."

He winced. "The shuttle was used to help you escape —it drew fire away from the landing zone."

"This was done without express permission from the Commanding Officer," Jane rebuffed him. "Frankly, you're useful and that's why I have yet ordered you to be imprisoned, but if I find out you've been taking some…liberties, again, with Alliance equipment… I will have your head."

"Fine," he acquiesced with a nod. "Next time, I'll leave you to die."

"I had everything under control!" Jane screamed at him, slamming her right hand against his chest. "It was a mission! I am the CO! They obey my orders! Everyone obeys my orders! Is it clear? I am the Commander; I am the one who commands! What I say goes, not what you say!" she pushed him back in the elevator, sending him against the wall. "I lost a man barely three hours ago! And then you shit-head came out of fucking nowhere and took command! What the hell gives you the right to do this, huh!? Where's your fucking Torfan medal? Where are your god-damn stripes and stars!? Where's your military training huh!?"

He remained silent, which just enraged her further. "So you've got nothing to say now, huh!? Had you been down there, the Lieutenant wouldn't have died! Had you been in his place, had you been there with the armor, had you done something else than just fucking prance around like a dickless emo bastard then he might still be alive!"

Jane spat on the floor, holding her right hand up with her index pointed at him. "It's your fault Kaidan died. You should have told us more. You should have known more."

John said nothing. He simply took a step forward, and then another. His face was inches away from that of Jane, who was breathing heavily from the exhaustion.

His Omni-Tool slowly rose to her stomach, and as a feeling of cool passed over the area she realized she had been bleeding from an opened up stitch. The Omni-Tool stopped applying medi-gel a second later; the black hue disappeared into thin air as the Shadow Broker operative walked out of the elevator without sparing a second glance to her.

She closed her eyes and breathed, before slamming her fist against the metallic surface of the elevator's walls. "AAaargh!" she yelled out loud, slamming her hands again against the steel panels. "Why the hell does it have to be me," she whispered.

She slapped her cheeks a second later.

"Focus Jane, focus," she murmured. She pushed the button to lower the elevator to the hangar, and came into a scene she would have never believed possible.

The Turian and the Krogan were playing chess, with Ashley explaining the rules while Tali watched with vivid interest —as much as being in a suit could help with expressing emotions— as the two kept looking at one another with sour expressions.

"So the tower goes straight here, and charges like a Krogan!" Wrex exclaimed slamming the thankfully steel piece hard on the metallic crate…with enough strength to dent the surface.

"Yes," Garrus remarked. "The pawn instead moves to the side and sabotages the tower, making it fall." The Turian chuckled as he ate the tower of the Krogan, before watching with even more amusement as Wrex roared his displeasure to the tower piece.

"You stupid imbecile! You should have seen the pawn coming no!? You were supposed to be on a favorable high ground!"

"Chess doesn't take everything into consideration, strategy wise," Jane off-handedly remarked as she moved closer.

"Shepard," Wrex huffed.

"Commander," Garrus said a moment later. "I am sorry for the Lieutenant." He dropped his head slightly, before adding. "He seemed like a nice person."

"That he was," Jane replied.

Ashley snorted. "He should have been better equipped. We all should be better equipped. When are the requisitions due to arrive?"

"We'd have to get to the Citadel," Jane remarked. "Or Noveria, which is our next stop anyway. We'd better have a look at what the matriarch is doing…where's the doctor anyway? I thought she was down here with you lot."

"Ah, no," Ashley remarked. "The Asari's upstairs in the second deck. She and the bastard apparently share an interest in Prothean artifacts...Pressly got them a corner of the storage room to chat about dead stuff."

She snorted. "I wonder," her eyes settled on Tali. "How are you instead?"

"Good enough," the voice was raucous. "I got a light fever. I might not be the best choice for another mission yet, but all in all I won't die. Dr. Chawkas was really helpful."

"She's the best," Jane acquiesced with a small smile. "What about you, Garrus?"

"Not even a wound," Garrus scoffed. "I was a moment's breath away from being nicked in an artery though; those…those things that came after us while we were escaping had decent aim."

"They didn't look like Geth Hoppers," Tali whispered, coughing slightly. "Nothing we faced looked really like the Geth that fought my people off Rannoch. I mean…they either were too dumb or too smart. And a biotic Geth? Really, there's no…"

Ashley lunged at the Quarian a second later, grabbing her by the shoulders. "What!? Was he humanoid? Red eyes and flashlights on his shoulders!?"

"Ahhh," Tali exclaimed in fright as Jane quickly moved to separate the two.

"Chief Williams!" she snapped, bringing the Gunnery Chief back to her senses. "Snap out of it!"

"Sorry ma'am," Ashley whispered with her breath heavy. "It's…did he call himself…Prime? Prime…Organic?"

"Yes," Jane retorted. Her eyes then widened a fraction. "I remember now. He said something about you when we fought him."

"The bastard stomped through my entire unit like he was killing ants," Ashley snarled back, clenching her fists tightly. "We were entrenched and defending our position, and he just arrived down from the sky and tore through us with his biotics. It as a slaughter…I still remember the faces," she muttered. "He tore their spines from their bodies and used them to choke other marines. And he laughed and said poetry verses in my direction," Ashley's breath hitched. "He let me go." She whispered. "He waited until my rifle was overheated, and then he just walked towards me, grabbed me by the neck and…and then he dropped me and left."

"Why?" Jane asked.

"I…He…he said that the Geth were coming," she whispered. "And that when they would, he hoped another Williams would surrender rather than die like an imbecile," she bit the last words out with a snarl. "The bastard…"

"Williams? Surrender?" Tali's perplexed question was answered by Garrus.

"The first contact with humanity near Shanxi, General Williams was in charge of the defense and he surrendered to the Turians who were invading the planet. He did the right thing: the Turian military would have slaughtered his men had he kept up the fight."

"No they wouldn't have!" Ashley snapped back. "They could have held the line for just one week, and the Navy would have arrived!"

"But they didn't know that," Garrus remarked. "Communications were cut. The General had to make a choice between surrendering and letting all his men die. Thousands owe their life to him. There is no shame in admitting defeat in the face of a superior enemy."

"Will you tell that to the Reapers too?" Jane snorted.

"Honorable superior enemy," Garrus corrected himself. "The Turian treatment of prisoners is second only to the Asari's."

"I'd better go," Jane sighed. "I need to talk with Doctor T'soni about her mother, and then set a course for Noveria."

"Oh, Noveria," Wrex chuckled. "Are we going to shoot the bureaucrats in the face?"

"No," Jane retorted. "We will not shoot anyone if we can avoid it." If she hadn't lost it with John, she could have asked him a way to directly bypass the bureaucracy…well, she'd just order him to do it anyway.

"You'll change your mind soon enough," Wrex shrugged.

She left the group to walk back up the elevator, trying her best to ignore the empty coffin that had been placed in a corner of the hangar. Without the Mako or the shuttle, the place looked massive. She'd have to get the Alliance to field a new land and air vehicle…eventually.

Her way upstairs was unimpeded, and as she finally neared the storage room she couldn't help but still for a second. She schooled her features into a tight and iron mask, and then she opened the door and stepped through.

In a corner of the room a small laptop was open, upon which Doctor T'soni seemed busy working on. In the opposite corner instead was John, his Omni-Tool on the desk as he tapped onto it furiously. He stopped and brought up his helmet-face to meet hers, before pushing a couple more buttons and making the screen filled with text disappear, to be replaced by a Solitaire game.

"Commander Shepard," he grounded out through clenched teeth.

"Commander," the Doctor said then with a slight trembling voice. She stood up and walked forward, crossing her arms over her chest as she hugged herself. "How may I help?"

"What were you doing on Therum?" Jane asked. "And did the…Prime tell you anything?"

"Ah, I…I was working on the recent uncovered dig site," Liara's face furrowed as she tried to recall. "I think he said something about the Reapers," she admitted hastily. "He kept on rambling about…a stairway to heaven and a highway to hell," she muttered, before shaking her head. "He didn't make much sense."

"He, huh," John remarked dryly as he returned to tap on his computer.

"What is it?" she spun to face him, her eyes narrowing.

"Geth are machines. 'He'. Connect the dots," he retorted calmly. "It seems to me you've been treating him as a person, or am I wrong?"

Jane blinked. "So?"

"So, either he is 'Geth' or he isn't. And if he isn't 'Geth' then he's what, their evolution? Think humans, there is Sapiens and there is Sapiens-Sapiens. This 'Prime' could be a Geth Sapiens-Sapiens. It could be an evolution to the Geth. You know; an 'evolved' version."

"It takes centuries for a race to properly evolve, Geth are machines…" Liara's words died in her mouth as John remarked.

"Machines think unnaturally fast though, don't they? They are not limited by physical means and…'Geth' isn't the physical platform, but an ensemble of code. Code can be upgraded, it can be evolved. A self-learning program is an AI. Their curve of evolution should naturally be quicker as they need but seconds to process and adapt to the adversities, finally outsmarting them."

"Do you have a Geth fetish or what?" Jane snarled. "So what if they're 'super' machines? They can still be turned off."

"If you turn off a Computer, do you kill its soul? If you burn the hardware, do you destroy the software? You burn the data allocation, but the 'soul', the 'software'…that is an astral projection thing," he quipped back. "Or, said in an easy to understand way: you can't kill software unless you take away the net they work on. And the more you kill the easier it is for the survivors to adapt and take you out, since platforms suddenly find themselves filled with Geth codes."

"The Shadow Broker really had a lot of information on Geths, didn't he?" she retorted. "What was it you said to Tali? That he's a Geth?"

"I also said he's a Yahg though, and a war-unicorn."

"You said he was cloning war-unicorns," Jane dryly rebuffed him.

"Oh, right," he chuckled. "Must have confused myself."

"Was there anything else, Commander?" Liara asked her, her gaze awkwardly moving towards John and then back.

"Yeah," she acquiesced. "I've been in contact with a Prothean beacon on Eden Prime, and…I've been having these visions of the Prothean's death at the hand of the reapers…they don't make any sense but…"

She snarled in frustration, clenching her hands against the sides of her head. "They're making me even more irritable than I'm used to."

"And here I was thinking it was genetics," John snorted. "Like, coded in your DNA or something."

"Interesting," Liara's eyes lit up with excitement. "If…If you wish, I could try and make some sense of it. It would require we join minds however, and…"

She began to babble. Jane rolled her eyes and snapped her fingers in front of her face. "Get to the point."

"Ah, well, we would join minds…I would see the Prothean Beacon's images and try to make some sense out of it."

"If it will make the headaches and the nightmares disappear… then do it," Jane grunted as she gestured for her to move closer.

"Y-Yes," Liara stammered as she moved closer, her hands delicately stopping on her shoulders. "Try and relax Commander," she added slowly. "And embrace eternity."

Metal connected to flesh. Flesh torn apart by metal.

A kid is playing beneath the shade of a tree with his Omni-Tool. Her brother should do something else, like play with her.

Screams of the reaped. The Reapers are coming.

They're calling her a freak because she's a biotic, the next moment they're crying on the ground as her brother's back is in front of her. He hit them hard.

"You have to warn your species," the Beacon says.

"The bully must be shown who truly is strong," her brother remarks. "No mercy to the evil man. No mercy to the enemy of those you cherish."

More screams. The Protheans are dying.

The Batarians are landing…

She flung a right hook towards Liara's face, but a black gauntleted hand is already there, grabbing her wrist and stopping her from otherwise maiming the doctor's cheek.

"What was that!?" she yelled at the Asari, who stumbled backwards and gasped for air from the shock. "Release me!" she snapped at John, who let her go within seconds.

"Goddess…I'm sorry…I couldn't control it," the blue skinned doctor muttered. "It was…so much…"

"It was a warning for the arrival of the Reapers;" Jane pointed back. "What was the rest? What did you see?"

"I…I was shocked, I couldn't control the meld…usually it is far wider and broader in scope. I tried to keep it only on the beacon but…"

"You will not talk of this with anyone," she pointed her index finger at the Asari. "Or I will throw you out of the airlock."

"I'm sorry, it wasn't—"

"Is that really the best insult you can come up with?" John snapped back at her, taking a step forward. "I mean, it's an airlock. All suits have an air recycler that can last indefinitely as long as it isn't breached. Sure, death would come by lack of food and thirst, but maybe luck could bring a passing freighter by."

She narrowed her eyes on the Shadow Broker operative. Her right fist didn't however try and hit him. She just clenched it and then left growling. "We're going to Noveria next. I want all info on that planet before we reach it."

"Commander," Liara spoke frightened, but with a determination in her eyes Jane had yet to see the Asari have. "May I come with you? There's…There's my mother down there."

John tapped a single button on his Omni-Tool.

"Done," he replied calmly. Jane looked at Liara for a moment more. She then turned to look at John again.

"Good," she walked out a moment later, without saying a single word to the Asari.

She slammed her right hand against the nearby metal wall, before settling her gaze on the med-bay's doors. She took a deep breath and walked in, the doors hissing open as she stumbled on the Dr. Chawkas holding a bottle of alcohol between her hands.

"Oh, Commander," she spoke. "Can I do anything for you?"

She fidgeted. This was a long shot. "I…I need to see John Smith's medical information."

"Ah," Karin commented. "I shouldn't because of patient-doctor confidentiality, Commander. However if you use Spectre Authority I am forced to comply."

She nodded and schooled her features. "I'm using it then. Can you hand it over?"

"All right," Karin's Omni-Tool flashed in her usual orange color, and the next instant Jane's own answered. As the Commander flipped it open and began to read, the doctor spoke again.

"Is something the matter, Commander?"

"Can you trace in the Alliance database if there are similar medical charts to this one?" she asked calmly.

Karin blinked. "Are you suspecting he lied about his medical information?"

"I doubt he'd lie about the blood type in case of a transfusion, or on the really important stuff…like allergy to chocolate? Why would anyone be allergic to that?"

"Maybe it's psychiatric rather than physical," Karin shrugged. "I knew this marine who was allergic to watching ants. He'd start feeling the ants as if they were crawling all over his body and had horrible rashes. Turns out when he was young he ended up sitting on an anthill and the terror struck him like that."

"So to disarm him, I throw him a chocolate muffin?" Jane retorted sarcastically. "Can take a cannon shot but falls to the powers of a chocolate candy bar?"

"It will take some time to get through the entire database Commander…what should I look for?"

"Start with Alliance top and work your way down," she replied. "If the Shadow Broker uses this sort of format for fake health information, we might be able to gleam who some potential spies are. Afterwards send a message to Captain Anderson to investigate. And…" this was the longest shot of all. "Take a sample of his blood and see if he checks positive as one of the Mindoir colonists."

"Commander?" Chawkas frowned. "Well, I certainly can try. I doubt he will cooperate."

"I'll make sure he does," Jane answered. "What's that by the way?" her gaze landed on the bottle.

"Ah, this is Serrice Ice Brandy. Mister Smith actually brought me a bottle. It's my favorite, but I wonder how he knew…" she chuckled. "I suppose being an agent of the 'Shadow Broker' means knowing what good old me likes to drink..."

"Be sure it isn't poisoned doc," Jane quipped back. "You can never be so sure."

"Dear, don't worry. I actually already have one bottle. I'll drink that first, maybe after all this is over we could drink it together?"

"Of course," Jane acquiesced. "Well, time for me to go and crack the whip. Noveria won't meet us halfway."

"Take care, Commander."

Noveria

She watched with fascination as three imbeciles decided to try and stop them. She was just about to shoot them in the face, when John actually came down from the Normandy walking leisurely. Wrex said nothing as the dark armored agent walked forward, before displaying something on his Omni-Tool to the guards who hastily excused themselves and retreated as fast as they could to the corners of the entrance to Noveria's port. The captain of the guards, Maeko something, even bowed her head deeply at his arrival.

"So he's not land sick," Ashley remarked next to her. "He's just a coward. I suppose he feels right at home here, in the middle of the frigging cold weather with bureaucrats holding sticks up their asses as…"

"Chief, quiet," Jane snapped at the other woman, who shut her mouth in an instant. "Agent Smith, I think you should review Alliance protocol concerning shore leave."

"I'll be returning right now," the visor-wearing man replied. "I just wanted to avoid a diplomatic incident with three trigger happy people and a bunch of idiots," he supplied. The way he spoke was condescending. She hated condescending.

"This is strike two, Agent. Act on your own a third time and we'll see."

"Please, Shepard. You're curious as to who I am. You won't leave me here, on Noveria of all places, with the useful information I can provide you."

Jane bit her lip. How had the man known?

She narrowed her eyes. "You placed a microphone in Chawkas' brandy, didn't you?"

"You actually talked to the doctor about me?" he replied with an amused voice. "I thought you'd start an Extranet search or open a discussion on the 'have you ever seen this man before' forum."

"Amusing," Jane retorted. "Get back on the ship before I leave you down here."

Just as the Agent left, a buzzing noise made itself known in Jane's earpiece.

"Commander…what a pleasant surprise."

She froze.

Her right hand went to the mic near the helmet, as she inserted it as a private conversation.

"Prime Unit?"

"Of course, who else? Oh, were you expecting someone…better? Thank you, by the way…Ashley Williams will love seeing me again! I hope you enjoy the little spectacle I'm about to unleash."

"Commander Shepard, this is Gianna Parasini, if you could—" the next instant, static filled the air.

The clamps holding down the Normandy turned a dark crimson shade, as Joker's voice reached her.

"Commander? Is everything all right?"

"Joker! Hold the ship!" she snapped back before raising her assault rifle. "We've got Geth!" she yelled at Maeko, who had taken her weapons out at the same moment. There was a light rumbling, soon followed by the sound of explosions and screams. The guard turrets that stood at the entrance turned their rifles upon the Turian guard first, tearing the security officer apart with bursts of bullet fire.

"Take to cover!" Jane screamed as she turned and dashed behind the closest metal crate. Ashley followed her, while Wrex began to fire with his shotgun, his barrier holding up as the Krogan Battlemaster roared his joy.

"And here I thought this would be boring, Shepard!" the Krogan replied wickedly between explosion.

"Throw a cooked grenade, Chief," Jane instructed Ashley. "You take the right turret."

The grenade's pin was dropped harmlessly on the ground as Jane counted slowly to three, before letting the lethal orb sail in the air thanks to her throw and land with precision against the turret. Just as it was about to bounce off, it detonated destroying the turret.

"Welcome to Noveria! Please enjoy your stay!" a soft jingle began to play, as the second turret was destroyed by Wrex continuous shotgun fire.

The moment Jane stepped out of the cover, the bodies of Maeko and the other guard were the first things she saw.

"Joker, can you get the Normandy in the air?"

"Negative Commander, they clamped us down. You should look for the commands at the port authority building."

There was silence for a minute. "Oh and Commander? Make it top priority. There are Geth cruisers inbound."

"Fuck!" Jane screamed. "Fucking piece of shit of a synthetic cocksucker!"

She barreled through the doors, ignoring the lusciousness of the fountain of water or the green plants within the entrance. She didn't ignore the Geth hunters attached on the wall. She fired a short controlled burst as the first of them made to pounce on her, while the second who was flanking her fell to Wrex's shotgun. Ashley's own fire tore through the head of two sodding flashlights.

They ran up the stairs nearby, Jane's eye settled with the iron sight of her weapon as she looked fretfully around. Corpses littered the floor, pierced by bullets in the back and in the front. A table was overturned in a corner, riddled with bullets and corpses laid against them.

"Attention, attention! We've got hostiles inbound!" Prime Unit Organic exclaimed through the room's stereos, "All units! Free to engage!"

A screeching noise was met with a short burst of static, as an arc of electricity sailed through the air centimeters away from Jane's head.

She turned her gaze to the side where the shot had come, and widened her eyes.

Geth units stood, their right hands holding white-hued Omni-Tools. Electricity crackled from their hands as their flash-lights locked on them.

"For Gethdom! For unity! Come on, Commander! Show us! Show us you have what it takes! Show us you can do this!"

Jane fired before she could stop to think, Wrex charging as electric Overloads slammed against his Biotic barrier. The first shotgun salve tore the head of the closest Geth Engineer, but just as he was about to slam against the second one, a Krogan appeared from behind the corner and charged him back.

The two Krogans fell on the ground, both rolling back up in an instant and circling each other.

Ashley fired short controlled bursts at Geth who were slowly crawling their way towards them from the ceiling, their bodies falling on the ground and detonating upon impact.

"Commander!" Ashley exclaimed. "We're surrounded!"

"Tell me something I don't know!" Jane yelled back.

Wrex's hands grabbed the enemy Krogan by the head-plate, before making a terrifying roar as he ripped it apart and exposed the brains beneath. Slamming his right hand inside, he then kicked the corpse back against the Geth engineers. He grabbed his shotgun from the floor and rolled as a few bullets hit him in the shoulder-armor. The moment he took three steps, the corpse exploded –he had placed a primed grenade inside, after all.

"The way's clear forward!" Jane began to run forward, bullets grazing her kinetic armor behind her.

"Come Alice! Come and see! Watch the rabbit hole! Look how deep it is! Careful when you land…cause there's magma beneath it, not the rabbit!"

The corridor held stairs at its end, but as Jane moved her head behind to watch her teammates following her, a gauntlet-armored hand slammed straight into her chest. She was thrown backwards by the strength of the impact, slamming against Wrex who fell back down with her on top.

"Urgh," Jane groaned as she slowly stood up.

There, on the stairs that were supposed to lead to the port authorities' commands, was Prime.

"Jane!" he widened his arms happily. "Ashley!" he laughed out loud, his voice metallic and distorted. "We meet once more!"

"Tali killed you!" Jane yelled back.

"Oh? Temporary setback," the humanoid-looking Geth shrugged. "Do you like my new upgrades?" he gestured to his neck, where small kinetic barriers seemed to have been placed. "No more headshots with this!"

Ashley screamed as she opened fire, the bullets reflecting against the biotic Geth's barrier. "This is for Eden Prime!"

"So you're actually happy to see me," Prime remarked as he flung a sphere of Singularity at the soldier. Ashley barely rolled on the ground to avoid it, but as it stuck on the wall behind her it suddenly detonated, sending blue flames to throw her forward.

Jane had meanwhile charged forward, taking out her shotgun and screaming as she fired straight in the chest of the Geth.

"We cannot be stopped, Jane," Prime spoke calmly as he backhanded the shotgun away. "We are your future."

"Fuck off!" Jane's right hand burst forth in punch move, which Prime didn't parry or block. There was a light ping sound a moment later.

Prime had enough time to watch the primed grenade tucked near his shields' generator, before muttering.

"He—"

And then his head detonated.

The headless body of Prime fell on the ground, as Jane breathed slowly. "You shouldn't have let me get close to you," she snapped. Two bullets slammed on her left side, coming from the Geth behind them that were advancing.

"Shepard! Quick, to the commands!" Wrex exclaimed as he spun around to fire random bursts of pistol fire on the advancing platforms. Jane moved to grab Ashley, helping her up before walking the last steps that led them into the security office. The security guards laid all dead on the floor or against the holographic panels. A Geth Engineer overseeing the security camera was shot in the head, but not before pushing a button to activate the security turrets within the room.

Beneath the bursts of fire, she barely managed to get to cover beneath the console itself as Wrex fired shot after shot. He coughed a moment later, falling against the panel with blood freely flowing from his wounds.

"Shepard," Wrex coughed. "It's fine now," the Krogan breathed raggedly. "I'll survive. Just…a flesh wound."

"Sure," she whispered back, slowly crawling out from beneath the console.

She looked at the commands on the console, before biting her lips. She wasn't trained for this.

Her Omni-Tool beeped in her hand a moment after, as she called the last person she would have normally talked to for help.

"John? Can you crack this?"

"I'll need to pass through your Omni-Tool," the Agent remarked calmly.

"Fine," she replied. "Just get it done!"

There was a beep. A noise of whirling mechanisms as her Omni-Tool began to work on its own. Soon, the command console of the port turned its holographic keyboards to a black hue. They began to tap on their own a second later, as the cameras turned off before reactivating to show the 'true' status of the colony.

There were Geths putting the civilians that had survived the initial assault against walls, before gunning them down.

"Mother of God," Jane whispered. "They're executing them."

"Geth hate biological life," Tali's voice buzzed through the intercom. "But this action goes against their program. They shouldn't be attacking non-hostiles: it's a waste of bullets."

"But it's psychologically effective, isn't it?" John's voice remarked. "Anyway…clamps disengaged. Normandy's ready to go, Commander."

"We can't leave yet," Jane replied. "There are civilians to safe and the Geth are behind us!"

"With such little time I can overwrite the security parameters of the turret system, Commander. However if I do that the automated defenses will fire indiscriminately upon Geth and civilians."

The doors of the security office began to rumble as metallic fists created dents against it.

Jane bit her lip, and then looked at both Wrex and Ashley.

They were both wounded, and needed medical attention.

"All right," she breathed out evenly. "Do it."

"Overwrite executed."

Those two words would haunt her for the rest of her life, as she watched the cameras of Noveria's feedback show her the turret systems turn upon the Geth, before mowing down the civilians themselves and then turning off.

It took less than five minutes.

The station fell silent a moment later.

"Liara will get to see her mother, I suppose," John quipped in.

"John? Shut the fuck up," Jane hissed back.

Thankfully, he did just that.

Unfortunately, the silence was just as horrible…if not even worse.

Author's notes

Chapter done.

As always shadenight123-dot-blogspot-dot-com for inter-chapters update or just generally knowing what I'm doing.