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Mass Effect 4: New Masters, Chapter 6

Chapter 6
 
     
     “My name is Javik, Avatar of Vengeance.  I am a Prothean and the last of my kind.  The final member of a great empire that ruled the galaxy.  My name is Shepard.  I’m an N7 marine in the Alliance Navy.   
     “My easiest missions are the ones lesser soldiers never stood a chance in.  I know how to use hundreds of different weapons, from the last cycle and this one, both as intended and unintended, to kill my enemies.  I kill efficiently.  I am the calm in the storm of the fiercest battle.  I have survived more missions that by all rights should have killed me more times than I can count or care to remember.  I lead with confidence.  I command respect merely by walking into a room.  I don’t need it.  I don’t even want it.  It just is.  My name is Javik.  My name is Shepard.  No.  My name is Ericson.”
     The pilot shook his head.  The thoughts were still blurring together.  The life experiences of the captain were daunting to process.  He had heard of Shepard for years.  He had seen all the vids, read all the reports.  But to see life through his eyes was . . . was honestly terrifying.  On top of that was the extremely alien life of a Prothean from fifty thousand years ago, who saw a Reaper war that lasted centuries instead of months.
     Ericson now held those memories- that training- within him.  The only thing he lacked was the muscle memory and conditioning that he had witnessed in the transfer of two disparate sets of experiences and lives.  The fact that he was contemplating all this while taking down yet another yahg soldier with a perfectly placed round of fire, from the assault rifle he had never held before ten minutes ago, bordered on scaring him.  He noticed, also, that both Shepard and Javik were piling up massive bodies as they defended the Mars Archives’ main data repository.  Liara lent her biotic attacks and barriers as a perfect complement to the undisputed masters of the battlefield.
     Not that the pilot flash-trained to marine capability thought any one of the other team members were slouching.  
     Wrex and Grunt, seemingly just for fun, had decided to test the physical strength of the yahg race and were engaging them in hand to hand combat.  Shepard had mentioned the insanity of the idea in passing, but the krogans had laughed and patted the guns and knifes hanging to their backs and sides.  “Just in case my arms get tired of tearing them limb from limb,” Grunt had reassured the captain before the battle had commenced.
     Ericson saw that Vega and Jack turned out to be a good combination on the battlefield whatever their romantic fate ended up being.  The former Cerberus biotic test victim was tossing the dense alien warriors through the air or holding them in place with her eezo-born powers while James finished them off with whichever gun was closest and loaded with a fresh thermal clip.  
     Garrus had positioned himself in a well protected sniper’s nest of his own making and was quickly picking off targets who never had the chance to imagine they were targets of an expert turian marksman.  Cracks about the heavens calling on their Archangel’s services once more and opening a cleaning franchise were inserted in between clean holes placed in skulls and heavily armored chests.  
     Vakarian’s shots weaved in between the crisscrossing blinks of perception that were the team of geth.  The initial attack of the new yahg wave had caught one of the smaller geth while reloading a weapon.  The geth body lay bleeding white fluid on the floor, it’s flashlight eye already dark.  The loss had seemed to energize the remaining geth platforms, led by the deafening barrage of munitions from Tinman’s dual spitfire action.
     “And I thought one spitfire was unnerving,” Ericson thought.
     Williams and Tali had formed a duo of their own, the second human Spectre laying down enough fire to make even Vega take notice, sparing a few glances her way in professional admiration, forcing her prey to back into traps laid by the quarian admiral extracting every ounce of her engineering expertise to inflict the most damage.  
     Miranda and EDI had teamed up in similar fashion.  Lawson’s biotics combined with skilled weapons use, coupled with EDI’s speed, efficiency and decoy producing ability was keeping another group of yahg off balance and bringing more of the enemy to the floor.
     Wayne was at Ericson’s back, as always.  Thermal clips were hitting the ground depleted followed by the click of a fresh reload on an almost rhythmical timing. 
     Zaeed, still more comfortable acting on his own, was showing why he was still regarded as one of the most dangerous mercenaries in Citadel space.  He rotated through his collection of firearms, mixing in some well thrown knives and grenades to bring down his self-determined quota of yahg.
     Ericson noticed that despite the massive body count, the enemy continued to come at the Normandy’s crew in waves, undaunted by the pools of blood swirling around bodies relieved of appendages, and skulls devoid of a majority of their eight eyes.  Ericson met Javik’s line of sight and knew that he was coming to the same conclusion.
     “Captain, I believe a new tactic is in order!” the Prothean called from across the fight.  Shepard looked over to Javik as he finished off yet another yahg with the well placed tip of his omni-tool blade finding the soft spot in the roof of the creature’s mouth, slicing upwards, severing too many neural pathways to count.  The yahg went limp, blood pouring out of its mouth and down Shepard’s arm, falling forward with the Spectre reclaiming his arm and jumping out of the way just in time to avoid being buried beneath his heavy opponent.
     Javik helped Shepard up, quickly scanning his surroundings and seeing that they had reached yet another lull in the waves of enemies.  He saw the human Chakwas emerge from her safe haven to begin working on the team’s various wounds.  None were serious outside of the loss of the one machine, but Javik knew that it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out and the yahg would wear them down and wipe them out.  “The yahg are a formidable species in this cycle, Shepard,” he said.  “And we will exhaust our weapons shortly while their numbers are unknown.  We must find their entrance point and seal it before the next transport ship lands more troops.”
     “If we even have time,” Miranda said.
     “Agreed, on both counts” Shepard said.  “But will that be enough of a delay until Hackett gets back here with the coalition?”
     Javik looked at Shepard and then to the archaically designed omni-tool interface he was forced to put up with in this less advanced galactic civilization.  He pulled up the timer he had started when Hackett had first been contacted and apprised of the situation.  Javik saw too much time left before help would arrive, so every delay would count.  “Unknown.”
     “It won’t hurt,” Wrex called over from the far side of the hall, keeping an eye down the main path to their position.  
     “Indeed, krogan, but it will not change our outcome if it is not enough.  We need to come up with a new plan.”
     “I’m all ears,” Shepard said.  “What are you thinking, Javik?”
     “The archives hold the key to this yahg attack.  We need to keep them from getting to them and we need time to search them for the answer.  Their is another section to this facility that your scientists have previously discovered but have not accessed yet.”
     Liara came up, applying medi-gel to a slash on her left forearm.  “You mean the secondary lab that . . . that JT mentioned in that one message?”
     “JT?” Shepard asked, turning to Liara.
     Liara looked down for a moment with closed eyes.  “I didn’t know JT very long.  They were one of the first to die at Cerberus’ hands.  Such joy for the work, such an infectious happy nature . .  . such a waste . . .”
     Tali came up to Liara and put a hand on her shoulder.  The asari turned and looked back at Tali with a smile, patting her friend’s hand with her own.
     Javik, unexpectedly to Shepard, gave Liara a sincere look and bowed his head with a moment of silence before continuing.
     “Yes.  Your research associate Tasmen would have become a name known throughout your galaxy, I would guess.  I was not a scientist, but I was forced to defend many of them.  While the warriors held off Reaper attacks in my cycle, the spinele- the scientists,” the Prothean caught himself,”would destroy all locally stored research data of compromised sites so as to keep any copy of the information out of enemy hands.  
     “These secondary labs, while often smaller areas, were sites of highly specialized research units, focusing on one project.  They also usually maintained hidden ways in and out that were reinforced so that the labs could serve as safe houses.  I suggest transferring the archive data access to that station, wipe the local copy of information we have gone through here, and we fall back there, leaving this location . . .”  He trailed off, smiling.
     Ericson found himself saying,”Tactically modified.”
     Javik and Shepard both looked at him in only mild surprise, but both nodded.
     Liara came back into the conversation,”So you know the hidden entrance location?”
     Javik shook his head.  “No.  They were hidden from easy detection.  However, the right individual will have the door revealed to them.”
     “I take it you mean a Prothean?” Shepard asked.
     “Yes.  It is like the beacons you found: designed to detect and interact with us.  Though, given your ability to access beacons that detect Protheans, you may serve to cut our search time in half.  The advantage is that we already know the location and one of the hidden doors would not be far away from it.  We should move.”
     Shepard looked to the rest of his small army.  A lesser force would be dead already.  His still had a chance to escape mostly intact.  “You heard Javik.  We’re moving.”
 
 
* * * * 
 
 
     Above Mars, Admiral Hackett’s flagship exited faster than light travel, slamming to an abrupt slowness in the midst of yet another dogfight with a yahg fleet.  The report had been accurate.
     “That’s a hell of lot more ships,” Hackett thought.  “Admiral Gerrel, we need a clear path for our ground troops to get to Mars.”
     “We’ll take care of it, Admiral,” the quarian admiral responded.
     “Much appreciated.  Krogan First Division, Blackwatch, give the quarians thirty seconds and then your teams are go for Mars’ surface. Go backup Shepard and his team.  Show the yahg how a combined krogan and turian force will come to be the embodiment of their nightmares.”
     “On the way, Hackett,” a gruff krogan voice answered for both squads.
      “All other ships, pick your targets and clean up my skies!” he ordered over his fleet wide signal.
     The acknowledgments came in from across the coalition armada.  Yahg and allied ship explosions became a fireworks display of destruction.  Hackett turned to the comm officer.
     “Get Shepard on the line.”
     “I’ve already tried, Admiral Hackett.  Signals to the planet are being blocked.”
     “Damn.  Well, let’s hope we got here in time,” he muttered turning away to follow the battle.  He spent only a few minutes watching the real-time sensor data feed back what he knew he would see: expected allied losses to the powerful energy weapons the yahg were employing, but many more enemy losses from superior numbers and hardened war veteran experience so recently earned.  “Shepard, I better not have come all this way for nothing,” he muttered to himself before leaving the war room.
     He made his way to his cabin to check in with Anderson back on Earth.  He sat down at his desk, poured a glass of water, and opened the channel to the admiral.
     “David, how’s the project coming?”
     “As well as can be expected.  Progress is steady and the boys in the lab say we’ll be able to roll this out to our ships soon.  I still can’t believe we’re doing it, though.  Feels wrong.”
     “Spoils of war, Anderson.  If we don’t do it, we’ll be the only ones who don’t.”
     “I know, I know.  Just . . .”
     “And if we don’t . . . these yahg worry me.  Shepard’s right: something important is on Mars. But if they can still use mass relays and have the firepower they have, it must be something incredibly dangerous down there.  To commit the size of fleet they have to this- assuming this is even a sizable chunk of what fleet they have.”
     “Yeah, I was wondering about that.  We didn’t know they had a fleet at all, and now they’re popping up multiple times and doubling the number of ships they have each time.”
     A knock came from Hackett’s door.  He had disabled the electronic bell tone long ago.
     “Come in,” he said.
     The door opened and Serviceman Taggart entered.  The young member of the Alliance handed the admiral a data pad.  Hackett noticed the lack of nervousness he had grown used to seeing from the young enlisted men and women on board his ship when they were around him.  He made a mental note to keep an eye on this kid, sensing a promising future.  He glanced down at the information on the wafer thin tablet and then raised two fingers to the side of his head, massaging the temple that had suddenly started its tired shooting pain routine that always accompanied bad news.  He looked back up at Serviceman Taggart and nodded.  “Thank you Taggart.  Dismissed.”  Taggart saluted, turned, and promptly exited the room.
     From the small video display on Hackett’s desk, Anderson watched the whole scene play out.
     “I know that sign, Hackett.  What’s on the data pad?  I know it’s not good.”
     “Word from the Rachni.  Yahg are entering the other systems.”
     “Shit,” was all Anderson could manage.
     “Your work just got a lot more important, Anderson.”
     “Yes sir.  I’ll pull in some more resources.”
     “Bring Goto back from wherever she went hiding and team her with Professor Olausen.  They worked well together on the Crucible.  And as much as I still don’t trust them, let’s send word to the geth.”
     “Goto and the geth . . . they’ll be a big help.  The professor is already on this.  I’ll see who else I can get.”
     “Report back when we have working prototypes, Anderson.  We thought we’d have all the time we’d need.  Now we don’t.  We need this working and we need it now.  Hackett out.”
     Anderson’s image faded and Hackett looked back down at the numbers and classifications of ships attacking the other species’ home worlds.
     “It’s not the Reapers all over again,” he thought.  “But their numbers against only the reserve military forces . . . we won’t need another Crucible.  Earth is safe this time, but this spells one thing for the rest: occupation.”
     Hackett foresaw the ground wars to liberate every world from entrenched yahg forces . . . if there were survivors to free.
     A personal tag had been added to the information in the fleet admiral’s hands.  Serviceman Taggart’s name blinked as the flagger.  Hackett tapped the highlight and a single ship’s data pulled up.  It was larger than any other yahg ship and the design resembled nothing else in their known fleet.  The weapons and armor data was blank, the massive ship not having been engaged in battle or even bothering to attack unprovoked.  Its appearance had been noted prior to each of the ongoing attacks at Sur’Kesh, Palaven, Thessia, and Tuchanka, but it was not directly involved in any battle.     
     “A flagship?” Hackett wondered as he searched his desk drawers for the pain killers he had become quite familiar with during the Reapers’ invasion.   
     “But what’s it doing?”
 
 
* * * * 
 
     
     Garrus marched along next to Shepard down the hallways of the Mars Archives.  Javik led in front of them as the team from the Normandy neared the still buried secondary research lab.  The former C-Sec officer was leery of the plan.  He had never been fond of barricading himself in a small area and waiting for the enemy to come at him.  He rubbed at the right side of his face, remembering a similar situation on a certain criminal hot spot of a space station.
     “Do you think EDI will handle it?” he asked Shepard.
     “She is specifically suited to the task, Vakarian,” Javik intercepted the question.
     “It’s gonna be close, though,” Shepard said.
     Javik was silent for a few steps before finally quietly saying,”She . . . is a machine.”
     “Joker will never forgive either of you, you realize that, if she doesn’t make it.”
     “She’ll be fine, Garrus,” Jack said, trudging along with a bored expression next to Vega.
     “I suppose you’re right, Jack,” the turian agreed.
     
 
* * * *
 
     Accessing the data streams with processing power far surpassing the Mars’ facility’s computers, EDI was learning the human traits of annoyance and impatience in a most efficient manner.
     “This should be completed by now,” she said aloud, the console in front of her the target of her vocal jab.  She kept her vision trained across the room, staring out through the wall of glass that marked the only thing standing between her and the next wave of yahg her auditory sensors heard banging on the far off door that had recently been omni-tool welded shut.  Her predictive algorithms let her know they would break through in short order.  
     “Slightly sooner than the estimated file access transfer and local data wipe completion,” the synthetic knew.
     A green progress bar indicated access from the terminal had been transferred and the data wipe was close to finishing.  Down the hall, the doorway exploded.  Yahg ground troops poured in sooner than expected.
     “Shit!” EDI exclaimed.  Nevertheless she remained calm, watching the progress bar at ninety-nine percent as the enemy closed in on her position.
 
 
* * * * 
 
     
     Ashley brought up the rear of the team’s line, following Tinman and his surviving geth who carried the body of their fallen comrade.  She looked back every dozen steps or so.  Tinman noticed.
     “Williams, do you watch for our ally EDI or the enemy yahg?”
     Ash looked up to him, biting at her lower lip.  “A little of both, I guess.  More for EDI.  Just hope she makes it.”
     Tinman looked back the way they had come as well.  “The Prothean’s plan has a high probability of success.”
     “You think so?  Javik’s not exactly synthetic friendly.  I wouldn’t put it past him to put EDI in harm’s way on purpose.  He tried to get the captain to ‘toss her out the airlock,’ I believe were his exact words.”
     The red geth placed a large metal hand unexpectedly lightly on Ashley’s shoulder as they walked, mirroring the interaction he had witnessed earlier between Liara and Tali.  “Despite the Prothean’s distrust for non-organics, his personal intentions are beside the point in this matter. He is an intelligent strategist and I can find little to discount in his plan.”  Tinman looked down for a moment and Ashley saw his eye almost imperceptibly flashing, a process she had begun to interpret as geth ‘thinking.’  Tinman looked up after the brief pause.  “EDI will be fine,” he said.  “Javik is correct: her unique ability is the primary factor determining mission success.”
     “I guess you’re right, Tinman.  Still, it just doesn’t-“
     A loud explosion echoed from the distance, cutting the sentence short.  Everyone in the procession stopped and turned back to look the direction of the sound’s origin.
     Halfway up the line, Ashley heard the quiet voice of Miranda barely get out a worried,”EDI . . .”
 
 
* * * * 
 
 
     EDI stood staring at the progress bar.  Two dozen angry yahg towered around her in a circle, chomping at the bit to be the first to tear her limb from limb.  They waited on something that EDI’s limited knowledge of the species could only allow her to guess at.  A path soon opened in their ranks, rippling them apart from the back moving towards the front as the enemy soldiers separated into two lines, allowing the biggest yahg of the bunch to march right up to her.  From the looks the other yahg directed this one’s way, EDI decided he was the detachment’s commander.
     “You, machine, what is your purpose here?” it demanded.  The yahg drew a gun and pointed it at her face.  The other yahg did likewise.
     “Great.  The Protheans had children, who knew,” EDI amused herself.  She saw the progress bar hit one hundred percent and smiled.  “My purpose?  My purpose is to do as I see fit.  I see fit to delay you, which helps my friends, to stop you from obtaining whatever it is you are trying to find on this planet, and ultimately, to destroy you,” she stated as a matter of fact and without hesitation.
     The yahg laughed.  EDI recorded a deep mix of a rumble and animal growl that vibrated through nearby equipment. The leader looked around at his soldiers.  “Normally I would say it is hard to read a machine, but this one- this one has either limited programming lacking fear, or has had courage made a priority in its software.  It thinks it speaks honestly.”  The yahg trained all eyes back on EDI.  “You are mistaken, though.”
     “On which count?” EDI asked.
     “On every count, construct,” it sneered.
     “Really?” she asked, in mock surprise.
     The yahg waved his gun at her in dismissal.  “Delaying us does not matter.  We will get what we came for.  Your allies will die, as shall all who oppose our rule.  You cannot destroy us.  We have the power of ancients at our disposal and we have strength that your fleets, decimated by the Reapers, can no longer match.  And lastly, machines have no friends, only masters.  If your programming has any trace of logic, you will reject your former master and embrace me as the new one.  To do otherwise will lead to the end of your simulated existence.”
     EDI stared at the yahg with an expression new to her face: intense hatred.  “The only existence about to end is that belonging to every organic in this room,” she hissed.
     The yahg had tired of playing with the machine.  He pulled the trigger, the barrel of his gun only centimeters from EDI’s face.  The weapon exploded in violence.  There was an anguished cry and a heavy body hit the ground.
     Neither sound or body belonged to EDI.
     A yahg lay dead on the ground behind her.  The commanding yahg’s head tilted in confusion and before he had a chance for his thoughts to reach a conclusion, two of his subordinates raised their weapons and fired at EDI.  Two more yahg died on the other end of those weapons.  The yahg commander held up his hands, roaring,”Cease fire, you fools!  It’s a projection!”  He waved his gun hand at EDI’s face and it passed right through, distorting the hologram as it went.  It was then that his upper eyes saw a quick movement in the distance.  
     EDI poked her head out from around the corner of her hiding spot and fired a few shots into the crowd of yahg from a safe distance.  Then as they all rushed to exit the single door towards her, she held up her other hand, revealing a black object with a flashing red button.  An evil smile spread across her metal gray face.  The hologram stared at the commanding yahg in duplication and then vanished.
     The lead yahg’s host of eyes widened and he roared to his troops,”Scat-!”
     His words died with him as EDI hit the button, ducking back into the side hall for cover.  An eezo-induced mini-singularity materialized from a small device, sitting on the floor where EDI’s decoy had stood hiding it in plain sight.  It ripped time and space in the midst of the yahg, sucking the now frantic creatures towards the tiny black hole.  As the first of them reached its destructive range and were being torn apart on a molecular level, the extreme gravitational force ceased and returned time and space to its normal state in an explosive reversal.  Yahg bodies were flung in every direction and the detonation demolished the entire structure of that area in the building.  The falling sections of wall and ceiling crushed what enemies had not died already.
     EDI’s hologram reappeared and stood in the middle of the rubble looking around, feeding the data back to the actual EDI still keeping to her cover.  She processed the information rapidly and read no life signs.  She casually stepped out of the hall and into the field of debris, ending the decoy program.  A lowering sun cast the last rays of daylight onto the scene and Martian winds rushed through a path long obstructed, dropping a fine layer of rust colored dirt on everything it passed over as it went.  EDI went from yahg to yahg and shot each one three times, twice in the head and once in the chest, ensuring that none was left alive. She paused at the last one, realizing she had no accurate data on yahg anatomy which meant the Alliance and its allies did not either.  She pulled the last body to an undamaged biological lab area down the hall.  She tied it to a table and then sealed the room shut for good measure.  She paused outside the room, sent a coded message back to the Normandy on where Alliance scientists would be able to find their new research project, and then sprinted off to catch up with Shepard and the rest of the team.
 
 
* * * *
     
 
     “Shepard.”
     Captain Shepard looked back for the teammate that had called him.  He turned to see the rest of his squad beginning to surround the returning figure of EDI.  Smiles and cheerful voices greeted the living AI as she described the success of the trap Javik had designed.  Shepard watched as the Prothean even came up to the machine he claimed to distrust.
     “Machine . . . I am glad to see you were able to carry out my plan victoriously.  That you are undamaged is . . . beneficial.  You are a useful tool against our enemies.”
     Tali poked Javik in the shoulder.  “See?  See?  I knew you cared about us.  Even for EDI.”
     “I care for the machine as I care for my other available weapons.  The ones that are effective should be maintained for further use.  Those that are damaged beyond repair or prove useless should be discarded . . . it is nothing more than that,” he insisted flatly.  Many eyes in the happy crowd rolled in conjunction with amused smiles and shaking heads.
     “Shepard,” came the voice again.  He turned once more, the voice clearly not coming from in front of him.  He stared into an empty passage in a lower section of the Mars Archives.  All he saw was the dark tunnel of a half excavated section of a buried hallway, sections of metal wall uncovered here and there from beneath the rocky covering that had piled up over the millenniums.  Shepard had thought it odd at first that an underground section had not been inherently protected from the elements.  He then realized that the upper floor they had come from was just that: an upper floor, possibly of a large tower section of a much larger facility that had come to be devoured by the planet’s endless dust storms.  Discussing it with Javik had led to further explanation that there should, in fact, be such underground levels in a construction as large as the Mars campus was turning out to be, but clearly no hint of those had yet been discovered.  They were currently on what had once been the first floor.
     “Shepard.”  There was something familiar about the voice.  “We are here,” it said.
     “Vendetta?” he asked in his mind.
     “Yes.”
     “Thought you were, I don’t know, used up after the fight with the Catalyst Child.”
     “System recovery was prolonged, but I have been functional for the last thirty-nine of your hours.  Also, I cannot be used up.  I am now a part of your neural and physiological systems until extraction is possible.”
     “Extraction?  When will that be possible?” Shepard wondered.
     “Unknown.  No available technology is currently capable.”
     “Fantastic,” the captain mocked.  “So you’ve been up and running for more than a day and a half and you’ve said nothing?”
     “I have had nothing to say.  I have merely observed.”
     “Observed what?”
     “All that you have.”
     “All?” Shepard asked, glancing back to Miranda who caught his questioning expression and matched it from across the distance.
     “All,” Vendetta confirmed.  “I do not pass judgment.  I merely process and record data.”
     Shepard shook his head.  “Anything governing privacy in your programming?”
     “There is.  Would you like to indicate that which I should keep private for you in the event that extraction becomes possible, Captain?”
     “Not right now, Vendetta.  You said you have had nothing to say for thirty-nine hours.  I’m guessing that means you have something to say now?”
     “Indeed, Shepard.  We are here.”
     “We are where?  At the entrance to the lab?”
     “Correct.  I have detected the concealed entrance.  I can open it.  Do you want me to do so?”
     “Is there any danger in it?  This thing hasn’t been used in a very long time.  It won’t break or blow up in our faces, will it?”
     “Doubtful.  Prothean technology is extremely durable, as you have witnessed.  In addition, labs of this nature rarely had defense systems installed.”
     “Rarely?”
     “Rarely.”
     Shepard sighed.  He looked over at Javik and waved the Prothean over.  “Guess who’s back?” the captain asked, tapping at his own head.
     “The Vendetta program?” Javik asked.
     “Got it on the first try.”
     “And it has found the entrance,” the warrior stated in understanding.  “And you are waiting for what, Shepard?”
     “Are you familiar with any traps, any defenses we need to worry about if we open this thing?”
     “I am familiar with them, should they exist.  It was rare.”
     “Yeah, so I’m told.  And you can deal with them?”
     “I have helped to install many such systems, though there were many different designs as well.”
     “So. . .?”
     “We shall have to hope that if one is there, that I can deal with it.”
     “So we just open the door and hope for the best?”
     “As I have heard you humans say: looks like,” Javik confirmed.
     “Uh huh,” Shepard said.  He quickly ordered the crew to get behind a barrier erected with the combined powers of Liara and Jack and then had Tali, Tinman and the other two geth on standby to assist Javik with any safeguards. He then switched to his inner dialog with Vendetta.  “Do it.”
     “Complying,” Vendetta replied.
     A faint glow pulsed green from a section of wall still covered in rock.  Shepard stepped in front of the area, waiting.
     “So what sort of defenses are we talking about?” he asked Javik as the green pulses picked up speed.
     “The most reliable and common would be a form of anti-personnel attack.  Taking out small targets quickly and effectively,” Javik answered, coming over to join the captain in front of the soon to be revealed doorway.
     “Like a land mine or something?”
     The light flashes quickened to an almost steady rate.  Javik eyed the light suspiciously.
     “That would be a primitive way to do it.  If I had set up something . . .” he began, still staring at the light.  The green light went solid and then changed to red and a high pitched squealing sound mixed with crackling static filled the hall. Javik’s eyes went wide at the same time Shepard’s did.
     “Move!” each yelled while shoving the other.  Both soldiers fell to the side as a massive red beam of energy vaporized the rock covering the doorway and continued in a constant blast across the hall, boring through the other wall and continuing on.
     Shepard looked through the transparent beam from his position lying on the ground.  He saw Javik looking back at him and chuckling.  “Quite effective, no, Captain?”
     “Hilarious, Javik. How long does it-?”
     The beam shut off.
     “Last.”
     “About that long,” the Prothean said, still laughing. “I have not see that one in . . . well, years before my stasis.  The old ones are good ones, sometimes.”
     “Funny,” Shepard said, pulling himself to his feet and dusting off.
     Liara and Jack let down their biotic shield and Shepard’s friends came to join him.
     “Anybody want to check what’s behind door number one?” Vega asked.
     “After you,” Jack said.
     “Ha ha, I’m not loco. I’ll let, um, Loco lead the way.”
     Jack smacked Vega on the back of the head.  “Oh grow a pair,” she chastised before marching past him and joining Javik and Shepard at the front of the group.
     Shepard looked over at Jack and nodded with a smile.  “Jack.”
     She smiled back.  “Shepard.  We waiting for something?”
     “Nope.”
     Javik, Jack, and Shepard moved forward through the open doorway, a blue-white hue coming to the walls to light the way in.  Down a short ramp and around a right turn, they came to another door.  This one greeted them audibly, in Prothean.
     “Hello Avatar Javik and guests.  Welcome to lab 327.  Please enter.”
     Jack leaned over to Shepard.  “Did it just say his name?” she asked, pointing to Javik.
     Shepard realized he had once again understood Prothean language so clearly he had not noticed it had not been spoken in English.  “Yeah.  It seems to recognize him somehow.  It basically told us hello and come in.”
     “Oh.”
     Shepard and Jack tried to follow Javik in, but he blocked the way, frozen in place by what he saw.  The captain tapped him on the shoulder.  “Problem?”
     The Prothean did not look back, but whispered simply,”Shepard . . .”
     He stepped out of the way and Shepard and Jack moved past him to find out what had stunned the fearless warrior.
     In the middle of what appeared to be no more than an enlarged entry way to the main section of the hidden lab, there were three Prothean stasis pods.  Two of them were alive with power.  The computer voice came again.  “Avatar, to activate pods, please submit for DNA match scan and state name for records.”
     Javik looked around and a pedestal rose from the floor with a Prothean shaped hand mold cut into the center.  Javik walked up to it and hesitantly put his hand in place.  The device began to scan his hand.  The scan completed with a blue flash and a less kind, more militant voice came alive.  “Prothean Empire subject: state name and position or suffer penalty of death as dictated under directive 81-19.”
 
     “My name is Javik, Avatar of Vengeance.”
 
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About harbinger50

I'm a guy with a job that if I wasn't paid to do it . . . I sure as hell would not be doing it. I imagine that covers probably more people than does not. I have a son who is almost 12 who I see every other weekend. I find that most of my passions are creative, which we all know doesn't exactly pay without a single minded focus and near-exclusion of everything and everyone else. I've never been able to be that self-centered, as easy as you might think that should be... I enjoy writing, playing guitar, shooting films, lifting weights (HATE cardio, but do it anyway) and have various other interests and hobbies that I can never decide to do that focusing on. This site is my attempt at that...

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