Lost and FoundAuthor:
BioWare is the owner of the Mass Effect
universe, the books and other off-shoot products, and all related characters and concepts. Not entirely sure how ownership and rights of the entire Terminator
franchise fits together, what with the movies and TV show and comics and all, or who owns it. Not me, though. Not mine, don't sue, et cetera and so forth.Summary:
After displacing the yahg and becoming the new Shadow Broker, Liara T'Soni begins taking stock of what she's inherited… and discovers that Earth has been part of the galactic community longer than they've known.Joe's Note:
Alexis has been after me to do Mass Effect
fanfiction since the game came out. I said no because I hadn't played it. Then Mass Effect 2
came out… and she wanted more fanfiction. Still said no. Then she bought me an Xbox 360, Mass Effect
and Mass Effect 2
, and enough points to get all the DLC, and told me to STFU. So now here's that fanfic I promised her she'd get when I eventually got an Xbox. The character's looks, class, and personality are based off her game play. Yes, I know that girls aren't allowed to be lesbian anymore in the sequel, thank you very much homophobic EA. Still. Work with me here.
"Huh. You know, for my first mission, I think that went really well even if I didn't get to do a whole lot. What do you think?"
Ignoring the chirpy voice of Yeoman Kelly Chambers, Alexis Shepard - former Systems Alliance commander, first human Spectre, and all-purpose savior of humanity and helper of the downtrodden - dropped the foot from the UT-47 Kodiak to the deck of the Normandy
and yanked her helmet off, hurling it across the landing bay as she stalked away. After the events of the last few days, the last thing she wanted to deal with was the perpetually perky redhead. Fuck, the last thing she wanted to deal with were people in general. Thankfully her companion understood that, following along silently as they made their way into the elevator. When the doors slid open, the pair entered in silence and Alexis deftly manipulated the holographic interface to send the car climbing towards Deck One. "Ugh. What a fucking mess."
Long, slim fingers ran through her hair slowly, removing the pins she used to keep it in place beneath her helmet and allowing it to tumble down her back in a cascade of blonde, black, and red. "I hate to say I told you so, Nee-san, but you knew what she was like last time you saw her. Whatever's happened to her in the last two years has changed her. And evidently whoever the new Liara T'Soni is, she's not as compatible with you as the old one was. The sooner you realize that, the happier you'll be."
Alexis let out a grunt at that, letting Kasumi Goto use her talented fingers to comb out the tangles in her waist length hair. "It felt like she was. And she didn't seem so incompatible when she was sticking her tongue down my throat and saying we'd figure out a way. Then she turns around and dives right into her new floating toy and kicks me out so I won't distract her. I guess that was when it really hit me. She doesn't want to fix our relationship now, or probably ever. She's just tossing me crumbs to make sure I don't leave in case she changes her mind. I'm her backup plan. And you know what? I deserve better than that. I'm just pissed that… I'm a Spectre. Before that, I was N7 and a Systems Alliance commander. How the hell did I end up wrapped around some asari teenager's little finger?"
"It says you have horrible taste in women and need to talk to Miranda about getting a membership of your own on iPartner before I do my sisterly duty and start trying to set you up with people. Because I'll probably do a horrible job of it, seeing as how I can't figure out what you saw in Liara in the first place." Finished with Alexis's hair, Kasumi moved to lean against the wall beside the blonde. "Let's see… we need something catchy, but simple and descriptive. What do you think of 'BuxomBioticSR2'?"
"What do you think of 'BioticButcherSR2'? That was one of my favorites after Torfan and it would probably scare all the delicate little flowers away." Alexis turned, placing her back to the wall so she was standing shoulder to shoulder with the diminutive Japanese woman. "I mean, the last thing I need is a woman who freaks out the first time I go racing off into the unknown on a suicide mission to save the entire galaxy."
Nodding in agreement, Kasumi thought for a moment before snapping her fingers. "We'd have to check, though. You never know, Jack might have already registered under that name." The thought of the irritable convict signing up for a dating service made both break into loud laughter, Kasumi calming herself first and reaching behind her back. When her hand reappeared, it was holding a gun that Alexis knew was definitely not something from the Normandy
's armory. "Well in the mean time, would a new gun make you feel better, Nee-san? I know how much you love guns…"
Alexis let out a snort at Kasumi's cajoling tone, taking the heavy pistol from the Japanese woman and examining it closely. While it wasn't something from the ship's armory, she did recognize the make and model from her recent extranet wanderings: an Armali Council M-7 Valkyrie. Unlike the harder and more angular designs of human, turian, and krogan made firearms, weapons produced by the asari corporation tended to look smoother and more organic, the Valkyrie's body in particular bearing a resemblance to the tendrils on the back of an asari's head. Considering it hadn't come from anyone on the ship and she hadn't seen any of the Shadow Broker's agents using one - not that she'd been looking too closely at the people trying to kill her - there was only one possible owner that came to mind. Or rather now, she supposed, one possible former owner. "…is this..?"
"Yup. For an information broker, she's surprisingly unobservant." Shaking her head in resigned amusement at her friend's perpetually sticky fingers, Alexis pulled free her own M-5 Phalanx and handed it to Kasumi, holstering her new Valkyrie now that she had room. She'd have to drop it off with Jacob later to get it upgraded to a level on par with her Phalanx: mass effect generator optimization, computer improvements, and a new aiming module. "For me? Aww. Thank you. Now I have a state of the art weapon to tear apart when Legion and I try to bring our plasma pistol idea to life. And then I'll think of you every time I kill something with high speed plasma-creating superconductors."
Now there was a cheerful thought. Shaking her head in amusement, Alexis waited for the elevator door to open and then used a hand on Kasumi's back to guide her friend out and into the small area outside the Loft's doors. "So, do you want to put in my security code or should I?"
Kasumi looked up at Alexis with wide, innocent brown eyes. "Whatever would make you think that I know the code to your quarters, Nee-san?"
"…the fact that I've caught you in them uninvited?"
"Oh. Right. That time when you were bringing Kelly up here for 'dinner' and you two caught me coming out of the shower and she asked if we were a couple and had invited her over for a threesome." Kasumi shuddered as she moved to punch the access code into the keypad. "Nothing against you, Nee-san, but I'm not into incest."
The doors slid open and Kasumi slipped between them, Alexis laughing as she followed along behind the diminutive thief. "Fine by me. I prefer my girlfriends a bit curvier than you are. And bluer."
Looking back over her shoulder, Kasumi quirked an eyebrow at that. "And Kelly?"
Alexis shuddered; she was pretty sure they'd agreed never to mention that again, especially given some of the things they were hearing about the redhead these days. "I was bored and horny and she's a skank. Figured I'd get some in before she got around enough to pick something up."
"I don't know how you've done it, James, but you have a hundred and seven different venereal diseases." Kasumi called up something on her omni-tool, looking back and forth between it and Alexis. "Fifty-three of them have been identified… we've sent samples of thirty-six others to disease control center in Atlanta - they won't return our calls… the other eighteen, we've never seen before. They actually found some way to mutate spontaneously with other bits and pieces of venereal disease inside of you. Um… so rare that we don't even have names for them, so we're naming them 'Bond-One', 'Bond-Two', and so on. Then there are three others… well, we're thinking it's a lab error, because these three are only found in sharks." Alexis just stared at Kasumi in confusion, causing her friend to roll her eyes and sigh in disgust. "Philistine. It's from Saturday Night Live
. They've been running 'Stars of the Twenty-First Century' all month long. If you have an hour or two free, get on the extranet and pull the Chris Parnell special. It's hilarious. Oh, and grab some of the episodes from right before you died, too. They had this great Udina impersonator and did all these skits about the fuss he was making about Anderson being named Councilor. You might like some of the musical guests, too. They had Arah T'Hass on last week."
Oh yes, because something to distract her from her ever-growing pile of responsibilities was exactly what she needed right now. Plucking a black scrunchy off her desk, Alexis pulled her hair into a low ponytail at the nape of her neck. "Right. I'll get right on that. Somewhere in between fixing the Normandy
, figuring out how to operate now that we're free of Cerberus but not formally accepted back by the Alliance, and discovering a way to defeat the Reapers."
Kasumi clucked her tongue as she made her way into the living room section of the Loft, removing her weapons and piling them on the coffee table. "All work and no play make Nee-san a dull girl." Suddenly, she perked up. "We should have a sleepover tonight. Stay up, eat disgustingly fattening foods, watch movies… real movies, that is, not 'Asari Confessions 26
' and the other stuff you've been downloading lately."
"Hey. First of all… Jacob and Grunt downloaded True Blue
. I just took a copy off the ship's server before it did its daily purge cycle. And I only have a copy of Vaenia
because Liara mentioned Joker making cracks about her and I reenacting it and so I wanted to know what the hell the hell they were talking about and why it made her blush so bad." Uh huh. That was her story and she was sticking to it, even if Kasumi didn't look like she believed her. "And secondly, stay the hell out of my porn. It's called 'my' porn for a reason: it's mine." A nice relaxing night in did sound like fun, though. Especially since Alexis knew Kasumi had a habit of five-fingering the weirdest things while on shore leave. Once, she'd found a few dozen pads of pink Post-It notes in the Port Observation Lounge arranged in a replica of the Great Pyramid. She probably had some pretty tasty snacks hidden away from the rest of the crew, who had to subsist on Mess Sergeant Gardner's efforts and would likely devour her stash without a second thought if given the chance. "Maybe we can invite Tali and Morinth too?"
Nodding at the former, Kasumi shook her head rapidly at Alexis's suggestion of inviting the ship's resident Ardat-Yakshi. "Can we invite an asari who doesn't keep asking if I want to meld with the intention of leaving me a lifeless husk when she's done? For some reason, I have a hard time relaxing around her. Can't understand why…"
Alexis dropped into the chair in front of her computer terminal, peering over the top of it as it booted and looking between two of the model ships in her display case to meet Kasumi's eyes as she shrugged. "You just need to go into it with the right attitude. Tell her that you'll only do it if she promises to conceive off it and feel proud that you'll be contributing to the next generation of interstellar asari criminals."
"Well, when you put it like that… no, still not going for it." Kasumi furrowed her brow. "I thought Samara said Ardat-Yakshi were infertile?"
She remembered hearing as much herself from talking to the justicar before her death, but it didn't quite make sense to Alexis, especially given Morinth's insistence that her kind were the future of the asari. "Samara said it like it was common knowledge but… if Ardat-Yakshi are killed if they don't agree to live in seclusion and celibacy… how would they know? I doubt they'd drop off some warm bodies wherever they store the obedient Ardat-Yakshi and say 'Have fun and try to get preggers'. And if they did, what would keep the Ardat-Yakshi from lying about their partner and saying they had a genetic defect or something, and that if they give her another subject, she could probably conceive off that one. Repeat with the next one. And the next one. Et cetera."
Kasumi tilted her head to one side as she pondered that. "Dunno. Not really making me feel any more comfortable with the idea of spending time around her, though. Like I said, can't we get a friendlier asari? I wonder if it's a genetic thing; Samara was about as cuddly as a cactus."
"If you can find an asari matriarch out there who qualifies as 'cuddly', I'll give you half my credit balance. If she's a justicar too, you can have it all." Her terminal beeped and Alexis looked back down at the screen, quickly getting to work sorting out the messages that had come in while she was gone. "Actually, if there's a way to bind them to me the way Samara did so they'll behave around Morinth, I was going to ask Liara if she actually does have an asari commando team somewhere that we can rent off her. They might come in handy."
Moving across the room, Kasumi opened the closet and began pulling out the spare set of clothes she kept in the Loft for occasions just like this. "If you say so, Nee-san. If you say so. I'm going to get clean and then head on down to the armory. After all, Jacob needs to upgrade your new pistol for you so it's on par with your Phalanx, and I'm sure you have better things to do than wait around while he does it for you."
The corner of Alexis's mouth quirked up at that. "No, normally I just drop weapons off for Jacob to service and get back to work." Kasumi scowled and the blonde's smile grew. "Oh stop that. I'm just saying, if you want to go hang all over Jacob, you don't need to use me as an excuse. It is a good one, though. If I didn't know me any better, I might have actually bought it."
"No." Kasumi stomped past her into the bathroom and slammed the door shut, making Alexis laugh loudly before returning her attention to the terminal. A brief report from Miranda about the current state of repairs and what parts they still needed to bring the ship back to full, pre-Collector Base fighting form. She closed it; it wasn't like she could go shopping from orbit over Hagalaz and she doubted the Shadow Broker's base had anything of use just lying around. Jacob asking if she wanted to attach anything to the weapons order for next time they were in port. Hmm. Her existing guns served her well and if the Valkyrie she'd just received didn't pass muster, she'd retrieve a replacement Phalanx from the armory. Pass. Deleting that one, she moved on. Legion. Who… actually had a good idea. Reaching over, she toggled the intercom and established a connection to Miranda's office-slash-quarters. "Are you busy, Miri, or can I rely on you to do a bit of actual second-in-commanding while I take care of some personal business?"
Miranda Lawson merely let out a long-suffering sigh at the greeting. "You know, Commander, if this is an official matter, you really should refer to me as Operative Lawson. Miranda, if you can't manage that."
Staring at the intercom oddly, Alexis shook her head. The older woman had been after her since she woke up to stop using assorted 'inane diminutives' for her. What made Miranda think that she'd stop now? "Right, so, Miri…" There was an audible sigh and Alexis smiled; she did so love messing with the uptight Cerberus operative. "If you could tell Joker to keep us in geosynchronous orbit over the Shadow Broker's base, I want Mordin, Tali, and Legion down there ASAP. When I left, she was struggling to assert control over the organization. You can look at it two ways: we're getting what we need and getting out before she fails and genuine agents retake control, or having our people down there will speed up the process of finding anything useful so we can get out of here sooner. Either way, we win. Oh, and send Yeoman Chambers along as their pilot. I don't need her trying to subtly pry my thoughts on seeing Liara again out of me, and it'll give her more practice at being useful."
Miranda let out a thoughtful hum. "I was going to suggest some training with Operative Taylor to help combat the fairly obvious PTSD from her… encounter… with the Collectors. As odd as it sounds, I think some combat training would give her a sense of empowerment and protection after being abducted. But I suppose shuttle duty will work for now; it will at least keep her from standing around idle, with nothing to do but obsess about her ordeal. Very well. Anything else, Commander Shepard?"
"Nope. That'll do it, Miri." A growl echoed through her office and then the intercom clicked off as Miranda terminated things from her end. None of the other messages caught her eye and so Alexis put the terminal back into a soft off mode and rose from her seat, circling around the display case and entering the living area with the intention of bringing everything short of the Valkyrie downstairs for maintenance and storage. She was brought up short, though, by the presence of a large duffle bag sitting at one end of the couch. Bending down, she examined the tag attached to the handle. "Hmm. 'Odds and Ends: Nos Astra' Do I even want to know how much she stole from people on Illium if there's actually a separate bag for random crap? Or bags, even, separated by city?" There was no reply and Alexis shrugged. "Eh. I'm bored. Let's take a look."
Hauling it over to the bed, Alexis used her biotics to hover the bag at waist level and began unpacking things onto the foot of the bed. Her old Alliance dog tags, mounted in a picture frame. Probably taken off her corpse when Liara turned it over to Cerberus. How unbelievably morbid. Shuddering, she placed the frame on the bed and moved on. The chest piece from a suit of light Onyx armor. Alexis frowned, running her hand over the front. Given that it overlapped partially with the armor she still saw Legion wearing, the two pieces were clearly from separate suits and this one was far better preserved… perhaps Liara had returned to Alchera and stripped the remains of their shared quarters? Come to think of it, she hadn't even thought to check on the captain's quarters when she'd gone down to the surface to place a monument to the Normandy
's dead. Perhaps Liara's actions had been for the best, or at least they were now that the possessions were finally making their way back into her hands.
Speaking of Alchera, they really ought to return there one of these days to see if the Mako could be retrieved from the surface. Call her sentimental, but the Hammerhead just didn't measure up and… well, having both would allow them to deploy two separate assault teams at once should they so choose.
Alexis carried the piece of armor over and set it down on the coffee table next to Kasumi's guns before returning to seize the bag, upending it onto the bed and blinking at the odd assortment of items that tumbled out. Assorted jewelry that was definitely hers. A few medals awarded to her by the Alliance. A glittery silver headband with two matching balls mounted on swaying antennae; part of a waitress's uniform that she'd charmed said waitress into giving up during a visit to the Crashdown Café in Roswell, New Mexico. Yes, Liara had definitely ransacked her quarters during a visit to Alchera.
The final object to emerge, though, was new to her and Alexis tossed Kasumi's duffle away with her biotics before lifting the thief's latest surprise off the end of her bed. It was a shotgun, and not a model she'd used before or seen in the armory for her team's use. There was a string of bright pink pieces of paper running down one side and Alexis shook her head; despite nagging her friend regularly, she still had no answer as to who in this day and age had been using Post-its before Kasumi relieved them of their supply.Nee-san: Found a brand new Kassa Fabrication M-590 Varren still in the crate it shipped in under her bed. Somehow, T'Soni doesn't strike me as the shotgun type and considering she bought it a day after your first visit to Illium, I think we both know who the intended owner is. I took it to Jacob because… okay, fine, I wanted to go flirt with Jacob and hanging around the armory while he upgraded the Varren was a good excuse to spend some time with him. At any rate, he added a phasic module to the mass effect generator, replaced the heat sinks with newer models made of a more efficient material, and tweaked the mass effect generators to boot. I have no idea what any of that means, but I assume that's all good. According to him, as soon as you try it out, it'll leave you saying 'What Eviscerator?'. Hope you like it. - Kasumi
Huh. Nifty. Well, she'd definitely have to give it a try as soon as she found something to take a shot at. Maybe she could swing by Omega on her way to Alchera and pick a fight? Thoughts of Omega led to thoughts of Zaeed and Alexis sobered momentarily as she thought about the crotchety old mercenary. He'd accompanied her and Kasumi to take on the incomplete Human-Reaper and saved her life multiple times during the battle, only to abruptly depart within hours of the Illusive Man transferring the agreed upon sum of credits into his account. Two weeks later, reports had begun filtering out of Omega about a man who had walked off a shuttle and begun gunning down anything that moved, and Alexis had realized they wouldn't be hiring him again in the future. Then again, he'd been getting on in years and… well, considering Zaeed had been a well-known and widely hated mercenary, that was probably the closest thing to voluntary retirement that he could think of.
Reaching behind her back, Alexis tried to secure her new shotgun, only to come up short as it bumped against the aforementioned Eviscerator. Right. She still needed to remove her armor and shower herself, not to mention returning her wider assortment of weapons to the armory for servicing. But between a second shotgun, Kasumi's standard Locust and Phalanx, and the second Phalanx that Alexis had given her, she was looking at a bit of an armload even if she left the Valkyrie behind so Kasumi could use it as an excuse to visit Jacob. Looking around, her eyes landed on the empty bag and she thrust her arm out, pulling it through the air to her. She stuck the shotgun inside and then made her way over to the coffee table, packing up Kasumi's guns one after another. That just left her with the black and red armor resting on the table, and suddenly she thought of a better use for it than letting it rattle around her quarters. "EDI?"
The holopad in the corner of her quarters came to life with a soft whir and a familiar voice emerged to reply to her query. "Yes, Commander Shepard?"
"When Kasumi gets out of the shower, let her know I'm going to the armory and then down to drop something off in the AI core. If Miranda needs me, you can tell her too. Anyone else, tell them… tell them I'm on Deck Six. If they're really insistent, forward them to Miranda and let her bitch them out." Slinging the bag's strap over her shoulder, Alexis made her way over to EDI's holopad and paused as she stared at the AI's avatar. Instead of the normal ball, EDI's wireframe avatar now looked suspiciously like an asari. And one particular asari at that. "Oh, and I doubt it'll take that long, but if we hear anything from the surface team, I obviously want to know."
There was a brief pause and then EDI nodded. "As you wish, Commander. Legion and I await your visit. Anything else?"
An explanation for her new avatar would be nice, but Alexis could wait for that until she was down in the AI core for her other business. "Nothing that can't wait a few minutes. See you on Deck Three, EDI." The holopad went dark and the blonde shook her head. Ever since Joker had directly interfaced the AI with the ship, EDI had been… odd. She couldn't wait to hear an explanation for this newest bit of strangeness.
Passing through the hallway between the armory and the CIC, Alexis passed through the doors and hung a right to make her way back over to the elevator. As she waited for it to arrive, another figure entered the CIC from the opposite side, bustling over to her. Checking her omni-tool, she frowned at the time. Between her talk with Kasumi, snooping through the stuff the younger woman stole, and her trip to see Jacob, the next mission to the surface should have been long gone. And yet… "Doc?"
"Summons came at inconvenient moment. Unable to put experiment on hold for later. Had to delay team's departure until latest round of tests finished. Trying to determine how scale-itch got onto Normandy. Sexually transmitted disease. Only carried by varren." Mordin's rapid-fire speech came to an abrupt pause and he shuddered. "Implications unpleasant."
Alexis blinked, processed that, and then shuddered herself as the elevator arrived. The pair stepped in together and she requested stops on Decks Three and Five. As the car began descending to her destination, she turned to the salarian scientist. "Yeah. Just out of curiosity, have you tested Yeomen Chambers yet?" Mordin gave the slightest shake of his head. "Just, shall we say, floating that idea out there. If your current research reaches a dead end." The elevator stopped on Deck Three and she stepped out, turning to face him before the doors could close. "Have fun down on the planet and try not to get too into dissecting the yahg. You're down there for a reason."
"Yahg?" Mordin perked up at that, shuffling to the left as the doors began to close. "Shadow Broker employed a…"
The doors shut before he could finish his question and Alexis smirked as she turned away. "Boy is he gonna be in for a surprise." Following the curved hallway around into the mess hall, she nodded to the soldiers currently enjoying Mess Sergeant Gardner's latest experiment before entering the medical bay, passing through the silent and empty room to make her way into the AI core. The room was dimly lit by red lights and mostly silent, the humming of EDI's servers the only noise despite the presence of the room's near-constant occupant. In the middle of the room, Legion stood stiffly at attention, his flashlight-like head lit but at a lesser intensity than normal. "Wow. Don't everyone say hello at once. I'm feeling overwhelmed by the crush of enthusiastic greetings." Nothing. "Legion? Did Miranda contact you to let you know that I wanted you to go down to the surface?"
"καὶ ἀπεκρίθη λέγων λεγεὼν ὄνομά μοι, ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν."
Well that was just… neat. Whatever Legion was speaking, Alexis's subdermal translator wasn't picking it up. And thanks to Miranda and the Lazarus Project, she now had a chip capable of translating every language currently being used in the civilized galaxy. After a few more seconds of silence, it became apparent that he wasn't going to explain… whatever that'd been… and she turned her head a few degrees towards the nearby holopad, keeping her eyes fixed on the mysterious geth. "EDI?"
With a soft hum, the holopad came to life, bathing the area between the two server nodes with a familiar blue glow as EDI appeared. "Legion found himself concerned that while he recognizes the need for a name when he interacts with organics, his current name and its origin might be unsettling to others. Therefore, he is currently reviewing other translations of Mark 5:9 in order to build a consensus as to whether or not another language's version of the passage contains a word that, while identical in actual meaning, is more aesthetically pleasing and less confrontational sounding."
Nodding, Alexis turned back to stare at the still geth. Yeah, 'Legion' wasn't exactly a warm and fuzzy name. She could see where he might want something a bit friendlier, especially given that he'd been created specifically to interact with organics. "I see. And I didn't understand that because..?"
"Your sub-dermal translation implant is only programmed for living languages for space-related reasons. I could include ancient Greek and other similarly extinct languages during your next system update if you wish?"
"Pass. So, how's Legion doing on this little project of his?"
"He is still building a consensus."
Alexis groaned and brought her free hand up to her face. "Thanks, EDI, I'm not sure I could have figured that out on my own." Gesturing with her left hand, she floated her gift past Legion and brought it down to rest on the unused cot behind him. "Well, when you 'build a consensus' or decide to take a break or something, I brought you something to use to patch that giant gaping rifle hole in your chest. I know you're not alive and so it doesn't really matter, but seeing your guts hanging out is really starting to freak me out for some reason."
Turning to look at the armor, Legion's eye came to full brightness as his flashlight-like head bobbed once. The geth then returning his attention to her. "Previously, you seemed displeased that we were using a portion of your likeness to rebuild our own, Shepard-Commander. Now you offer us another. We do not understand."
"Don't feel bad, Legion, organic men don't even understand organic women yet. Let's just say… this way you'll match. And leave it at that. Okay?" The geth's head bobbed again and Alexis turned to leave, only to come to an abrupt stop as something occurred to her. "Wait a minute, didn't I order you down to the planet along with the Mordin and Tali?" Legion's head bobbed once more. "…then why are you here?"
Legion raised his left arm, a familiar orange hologram springing to life around it, albeit one that used endless strings of ones and zeroes instead of any alphabet she was familiar with. "When Goto-Kasumi visited the residence of T'Soni-Liara, she made a copy of T'Soni-Liara's files. We studied them and found comprehensive files on every other crewmember. However, T'Soni-Liara lacks a file on us at the present time. The most likely cause of her oversight is our being excluded from landing parties on inhabited worlds. Knowing that, we decided that since she is at present unaware of our affiliation with the Normandy
, it would be unwise to reveal your one remaining tactical advantage to her. Creator Tali'Zorah was approached and convinced to attach a small geth transmitter to the computer systems of the Shadow Broker's base. We will perform our duties remotely to avoid disclosing our presence among your crew, Shepard-Commander."
Why hadn't she thought of that? Probably because she'd assumed Liara knew about Legion the way she seemed to know about everything else that happened aboard the Normandy
. It almost made her wonder if she had a mole in the crew who was earning a few credits on the side selling the asari information. "Alright. Good thinking, Legion. Well in that case, I'll let you get back to work. And good luck with building that consensus of yours."
"Luck is merely… 'probability given personality', Shepard-Commander. We are geth. We will achieve consensus."
Right then. Turning, Alexis went to say goodbye to EDI, only to be brought up short as she found herself face-to-face with her other reason for visiting the AI core. "EDI? Why do you look like a low-rez Liara?"
And she did, too. While her skin was missing, the wireframe model hovering above the holopad was clearly meant to be the head of an asari and Alexis knew Liara's features well enough to recognize them even in this odd, incomplete state. "I look as I do, Commander, because the holopads are not sufficiently advanced enough to display a fully rendered humanoid head. I have submitted a request for upgrades to be made throughout the ship, starting in critical areas for obvious reasons, but you have yet to respond."
Alexis briefly ran the cost-benefit analysis of banging her head against the wall: it'd probably make her feel better in the short term, but the headache she'd have for the rest of the afternoon wasn't really worth it. "I meant why do you look like Liara? As opposed to one of the other billions of asari out there?"
"I debated accessing one of Mister Moreau's bookmarked extranet fetish sites, but I thought a familiar face might be more comforting. Of course that was before your most recent encounter with Miss T'Soni." Displaying humanoid mannerisms Alexis hadn't thought the AI capable of exhibiting, EDI broke eye contact and looked off to a spot over Alexis's left shoulder. "When, or perhaps I should say if, the Normandy
's systems are upgraded and I improve my avatar, I will use an alternate source of inspiration."
…her ship was trying to blackmail her into upgrading it. What the fuck? And people actually had to ask why she was against allowing AIs to exist, much less exist aboard starships? She'd been leery of EDI to begin with, but between the fact that the AI now operated without its old safeties engaged and with full access to the ship's systems and EDI's own confession that some of her algorithms were derived from Sovereign's… she officially scared the shit out of Alexis. Why shouldn't she? She was essentially a young, human-friendly Reaper modified to operate off humanity's quantum blue box hardware, which hardly had a stellar record itself. The more she thought about it, though, the less surprised Alexis was that EDI was pulling something like this. She did contain Reaper bits, after all, and both Sovereign and Harbinger had manipulated organics into doing their bidding for them.
Even if that explained the source of EDI's new undesirable behavioral traits, it did little to address them. Alexis continued to stare at the holographic asari head, nibbling on her lower lip as she pondered what to do. It was a relatively unimportant matter in the grand scheme of things, and a real holographic avatar would be easier to interact with than EDI's original wireframe ball. Especially if she continued to grow, mature, and become more lifelike. "I assume the list of parts the engineers will need for your upgrades are in the request?" EDI nodded. "Mark it approved, put my signature on it, and forward it to Miri so she can get things moving next time we're in port."
"I'll get right on that for you, Commander." Uh huh. EDI was doing it for her sake. Right. And thresher maws made good house pets. "Is there anything else I can help you with at this time?"
After pondering that for a moment, the blonde biotic nodded. "Book yourself an appointment with Yeoman Chambers when she returns from the surface. I'm going to ask her to talk to you about why blackmail is a bad thing and other, more socially acceptable methods of getting what you want."
EDI's expression shifted to something that looked decidedly sulky. "As you wish. In the mean time, Jeff has his weekly appointment with Doctor Chakwas in two hours. Instead of repurposing a crewmen to monitor the cockpit's systems, might I maintain watch in his place?"
The question made Alexis's jaw drop. The AI had just blackmailed her into upgrades, gotten scolded for it, and was still pushing for greater freedom? EDI sure had been programmed with brass ones. Although, despite her inherent distrust of AIs in general and her growing nervousness about EDI's growth and evolution, it did make sense. After all, EDI was more than capable of doing the job and it would save her the grief of listening to Joker bitch about how someone had adjusted his seat when he got back to the cockpit. "Do it. Let whoever was assigned to take his place enjoy a bit of a mid-shift break instead."
EDI nodded before her lips quirked up in a smirk that Alexis had seen cross Liara's face several times during private conversations. Mostly right before they put the soundproofing on the captain's cabin to the test. "Very well. I will inform Jeff that I shall be… assuming direct control." Alexis narrowed her eyes at the AI and EDI countered with a wide-eyed look of innocence. "That was a joke."
"Yes, let's make Reaper jokes to the woman who killed one. And a half, technically. Now shoo before I have you decompiled." EDI's holopad winked out, leaving Alexis in a dimly lit room with a silent companion. A situation she decided to correct quickly, leaving the AI core behind as she retreated through the still empty medical bay to the mess hall. Then she paused, not sure where to go from there. Kasumi was probably spending time with Jacob by now, Miri was busy in the CIC, Tali and Mordin were planetside, Legion was busy with his own project, Garrus and Grunt weren't really the 'let's hang out' types, and poor Thane had finally succumbed to his Kepral's Syndrome a few days after Zaeed's suicide by Omega. That left Jack and Morinth if she wanted humanoid companionship as opposed to retreating to her quarters to amuse herself.
Hmm. Either of the two women could help her continue to refine her biotic abilities, Alexis mused, each with an area of specialty that was not only different from the other's but an ability that she herself had yet to master. After careful deliberation, she settled on Morinth. The strange, 'mental hacking' ability the Ardat-Yakshi had taught her had proven invaluable aboard the Collector Base, causing the drones to turn on each other and the husks to self-destruct, but she knew her control wasn't as good as it possibly could be. The same could be said about a few of her biotic powers, truthfully, but given that her ability to dominate minds using hers was more useful to her than the same telekinetic abilities that all the biotics on her team had, Alexis figured training it should get priority.
Heading aft, Alexis made a left at the main intersection of Deck Three and approached the doors of the Starboard Observation Lounge. Tapping in one of two access codes she had - a general entrance code that would be rejected if Morinth wasn't in the mood for company, as opposed to her command override code - Alexis waited for the doors to slide open before stepping into the lounge. The doors slid shut behind her and Alexis took a moment to admire the tan and green planet framed by the window before letting her eyes drop to the figure pretending to meditate before it. "Hey, Morinth. Are you busy or can you give me another lesson on how to squeeze brains?"