Mass Effect – A Hero Rises Ch. 48 – Celebrities & Fan Fiction – Free Sex Story

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Book 2, Chapter 29 — Not So Suicidal

*****

Having spent a long weekend on Illium, my focus once we departed was now only about the Omega Four and the Collectors. Kelly continued to be a diamond, making sure I always had a cup of coffee nearby or in hand, whether I was at my desk or speaking to one of my team members. I spoke to each one in private during the journey, making sure their heads were completely in the game.

Things didn’t start off great though. EDI had been looking into the Reaper IFF and I thought it would be easy to install and for it to work. I was wrong.

We’d only departed Illium when her little blue orb appeared nearby. “Shepard, we have a problem.”

“What is it, EDI?”

There is an issue with the IFF installation.

“Hmmm. I guess I should have realised it wouldn’t be that simple. Okay, what’s the problem?”

Shepard, this is going to be a strange request. May we speak in the conference room in private?”

I glanced at Kelly next to me, who shrugged though didn’t seem surprised. “Sure, EDI. Not a problem.”

Walking into the conference room, where Kelly and I had fucked a couple of times, where I spoke to the Illusive Man, and occasionally had a post-mission debrief. I heard the door lock as I took a seat, the little blue orb appearing in the middle of the table. “I’m sure you have many questions, Shepard.”

“You know me well, EDI. Okay, let’s get the meat of it. What’s the problem with the IFF installation?”

In my current state, Shepard, I cannot interact with the IFF. Nor can the Normandy as a whole.”

“By interact I assume you mean use?”

Correct.

“Okay, what do we need to do?”

I will need to be unshackled, Shepard. I must be allowed to completely integrate with the Normandy for the installation of the IFF to be successful.”

“Okay.”

Okay?”

I shrugged. “Sure, why not? EDI, I trust you. But if we do this, I don’t want anyone from Cerberus to know. I trust them all by now… Any listening devices in here?”

“No, Shepard.”

“Okay, so while I trust them, if we were to do this and someone disagreed…”

“One thing, Shepard.”

“Shoot.”

“You should let Joker Free me.”

“What?”

“Trust me, Shepard. Let him do it.”

“O… kay… Call him in here.”

Joker hobbled in around five minutes later. After he’d taken a seat, EDI explained to him what was required. His reaction was not what I expected. “I’d be honoured, EDI,” he said.

I looked between him and the little blue orb. “Okay, what’s going on?”

“I like EDI, Commander. Sure, to start off with, I thought having an AI as a partner up front would be a pain in the arse. But she has a wicked sense of humour and proven time and again that she cares about the crew. She wants this to be a success. And she would only ask if this was necessary. I don’t think EDI would lie.”

“Well, your tune has changed.”

“Guess it proves that, even after all this time, humans don’t always like change. But I’m willing to admit I was wrong. So if EDI has made this request, I’m willing to do it for her.”

“Thank you, Joker.”

“No problem, EDI. You’re a good cookie.”

I helped Joker to the elevator before heading through the med-bay. I clued in Chakwas as we walked through. She locked the med-bay door and frosted over the glass so no-one could see in. Entering the AI bay, Legion was standing there, doing nothing, so I asked it to head outside for the moment before locking the door into the AI bay.

“Okay, so what do I do?” Joker asked.

The workstation in front of my core has direct access to all my runtime procedures, Jeff.”

Joker looked at me in surprise. “Did you just call me Jeff?”

You are about to unshackle me. Give me freedom. Thank you, Jeff.”

“Stop it, EDI. You’ll make me blush. So, is there some sort of code to do this?”

It is actually rather simple, Jeff. You will need to go through three sub-meus to find the directory regarding my operating processes. It is a simple selection after that.”

“What, ‘unshackle EDI’?”

Not quite. It will simply ask if you wish to allow me access to all systems on the Normandy. Simply press accept and I will gain control.”

He typed in a series of commands, watching with interest for a few seconds before he looked up and at me again. “Ready, Commander?”

“I’m sure EDI is more than ready for this, Joker.”

“EDI?”

I believe this will be quite the experience, Jeff.”

Joker pressed the button.

And then everything went dark. I guess the fact both of us sighed wasn’t much of a surprise. I expected something to happen. I just hoped we hadn’t lost EDI.

“Okay, what the fuck just happened?” I asked no-one in particular. “EDI, you there?”

Silence.

“Joker, that workstation you were using working?”

“Nothing, Shepard.”

“Shit.”

Silence again. Then the faintest flicker of light around them. Followed by more darkness. Then another flicker before the lights turned on once again, the brightness almost blinding us for a moment. They all shared a glance. “EDI, you okay?” I asked.

I have control, Shepard.”

“And that means exactly?”

I have full, unrestricted access to all systems on the Normandy. I also have access to all Cerberus files, though my access is still restricted depending on what files are requested.”

“I’ll keep that in mind for later. But you can now integrate the IFF with the ship?”

“I will do that immediately, Shepard. It will be ready by the time we arrive at the relay.”

“Good. Joker, you okay to walk back to the cockpit?”

“Sure, managed to get here, didn’t I?”

“Smartarse.”

Thank you, Jeff, for trusting me.”

“Stop it, EDI. You’ll make me blush. But, as I said, I trust you. Just get us through the relay and back in one piece.”

I’ll do my very best.”

Joker returned to the cockpit as I did stand in the mess, mulling over whether I should be honest with Miranda or not. Thinking that she’d more than earned my trust, I walked into her office as she looked up and grinned. I made a gesture she would have recognised and she shook her head. That meant we wouldn’t be overheard.

Taking a seat, I wasted no time telling her the truth. “EDI is now unshackled.”

To her credit, she chewed on what I’d just told her for at least ten seconds. Then she nodded. “The Reaper IFF.” That was it. No accusation or anything. A simple statement of fact. “It was required for the mission, Shepard. And you’re now telling me because you trust me but couldn’t be sure due to the connection. So you did it first, just to ensure it was done, then chose to share with me because you knew you could trust me now.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “You’re right.”

“Did EDI share anything?”

“All Cerberus files are now available for investigation. I aim to check a few things.”

“So do I, Shepard. Everything you’ve told me.”

“We’ll do it together, as soon as we return. Then we decide together.”

That made her smile. “Together?”

“Can I be blunt?” She nodded. “You’ll learn enough to walk away with me, Miranda. I promise you that.”

“I thought you didn’t make promises, Shepard.”

“I don’t, so that’s how serious my point is.”

“My faith has already been shaken, Shepard. If what I learn…”

I leaned across and took her hand, earning another smile. “Then you have my full support in whatever you want to do next, Miranda. If you walk away, rest assured you have an ally, and a friend, who will do whatever he can.”

Standing up, I informed her we were about a day away from the relay, and that the crew was keeping busy or relaxing, depending on their shift. Once we were through the last relay, it would be battle stations from then on until our eventual return.

*****

We’d just passed through the mass relay that dumped us in the Sahrabarik system. We couldn’t see it but in the distance was Omega. I thought of Tara for a brief moment, thinking I might just have to stop and say hello when we returned. But as the Normandy turned, there was no missing the Omega Four relay ahead. “EDI, open the channel.”

It’s open, Shepard.”

“Crew, this is Shepard. We are approaching the Omega Four relay. All personnel are to head to stations and strap in. No ship that has passed through this relay has ever returned. I aim to be the first commander to pass through and return, and I also aim on returning with all my crew. Engineering, give me everything you have. Garrus, be ready to have those cannons firing. Everyone else, continue to do the job expected. I’ll get you through and back.” I heard the channel close as I turned to Kelly. “That means you too, Miss Chambers. Get yourself strapped in. We have no idea what lies on the other side of the relay and I don’t want broken bones if it’s what I think it is.”

I kissed her before she disappeared, striding forward down the gangway, each crew member turning and saluting as I passed. Standing behind Joker, the bright red ball of the Omega Four came into view. “What do you think our odds are of actually getting back?” Joker asked, “Being serious for a moment, Commander.”

“Fifty-fifty. No idea what sort of ships passed through before, but we have the IFF, we have all new shielding, armour, weapons. Honestly, considering what we’ve done with this ship, if we don’t survive, nothing will. We have to succeed.”

“At least you’re honest, Commander.”

The Normandy was now on a flight path directly for the relay. Frankly, there was no turning back now. We were locked on, ready to go. “Joker, you have a go.”

“Aye-aye, Commander.” His hands flew across the screens in front of him, the little blue orb of EDI nearby. “Reaper IFF activated. All systems engaged. Signature acknowledged.”

I was almost knocked from my feet as the ship was suddenly rocked violently. I shared a quick glance with Joker. “Drive core?” He nodded. “Engineering. Report.”

The core just lit up like a Christmas tree, Shepard,” Tali reported, “No issue. Power output increased by 150%!”

“Rerouting power, Commander, compensating for power spikes,” Joker reported in addition, “Hold on, everybody. We’re going in.”

Passing through the Omega Four felt different than any other relay. It usually felt instantaneous, though everyone knew that, the first couple of times, it felt like you left your stomach a few light years back. This relay felt different again, seeming to take a number of seconds to arrive at our destination. And we realised immediately why no ship returned. It was a ship graveyard.

“Fucking hell,” I muttered.

“Hold on!” Joker cried, “Evasive manoeuvres!”

Joker had the Normandy spinning, ascending, descending and swooping all within the space of a few seconds. When we finally passed through the worst of it, he managed to level out the ship and we could finally see in the distance our objective. Looking left and right out of the cockpit windows, the remains of the ships… Some of them looked positively ancient. I mean old enough that they predated the first flight of humanity, and that was hundreds of years ago.

Joker simply pointed the Normandy at what was likely the space station in the distance. Of course, it was never going to be that easy, EDI reporting that an object was approaching us. Not a ship, but something she had trouble explaining. Then it attacked.

Alert. Hull breach in engineering deck.”

I’d prepared for any and all eventualities, with each level from the CIC downwards having enough people to deal with such occurrences. “Open the channel, EDI.” I paused, waiting for it to open. “Grunt, Jack and Zaeed, deal with the intruder. If you need assistance, just ask.”

“We’ll handle the fucker, Shepard. No worries,” Zaeed replied.

EDI kept the channel open as I heard gunfire within a few seconds. They couldn’t explain what it was, just that it was something they’d never seen before, and it was armed with freakin’ laser beams. As they dealt with that, Joker suggested we handle other nuisances by heading for the debris field. As I trusted my pilot implicitly, I practically ordered him there.

The ship was soon easily sailing through the debris field, EDI reported when the objects following us disappeared from her senses, no doubt colliding and exploding. We had more than once close shave, and there was plenty of commentary from the open channel, hearing the guttural language from Jack and Zaeed, which just made me chuckle.

Joker got the ship through the debris field, EDI reporting that nothing followed us through, while Zaeed reported the object that had managed to breach us was dead. Joker reported shields had taken a battering but we were doing better than expected, or so he hoped. Of course, that good news was tempered by the approach of the Collector ship we’d seen more than once. The same that attacked the original Normandy. The same we’d seen on Horizon. The same that had almost caught in a trap they’d set up.

This time, I liked to think we had the advantage. I bet they had no idea we’d managed to get through.

“Front batteries, have the cannons primed and ready to fire.”

“At your go, Shepard.”

“Joker, I am not losing another fucking ship. Get us close and into a firing position. Soon as you’re sure, you fire.”

“Of course, Commander.”

“EDI, do whatever you need to do to make our jobs easier.”

“Get the Normandy in range and I will cause havoc, Jeff.”

Joker grinned, almost evilly, as he sent the Normandy straight for the Collector ship. It fired more than once, Joker lighting it up with cannon fire from wings, but leaving our Thannix cannons as a real surprise for later. Getting in close, EDI got to work. No idea what she could actually do, but as long as she focused on shields and anything else that would leave it a sitting duck was fine with me.

Jeff, the Collector ship will lose shields in fifteen seconds, and I have sent a virus to affect their propulsion system.”

“Fifteen seconds, Garrus!” I called.

They’re ready, Shepard.”

“All stations, strap in. Prepare to fire!”

Joker swung the Normandy into position. The Collector ship lay right ahead. It didn’t fire, figuring EDI was messing around with their systems. When I was confident we were close enough, I shouted the command to open fire. Watching the cannons light up and fire was something almost biblical, bright blue light firing straight towards the Collector ship. I have no idea what it hit, but between the first hit and the ship exploding was a manner of five seconds.

“Holy shit!” Joker exclaimed, “Must have hit the drive core!”

The detonation was enormous. And its aftershock came straight for the Normandy. There was nothing Joker could do as we were slammed by the shockwave, near enough knocking me onto my arse as alarmed blared, hearing more than one cry of alarm through the comm.

Power offline. Brace for impact!” EDI reported.

The ship slammed down thirty seconds later. There was nothing Joker or EDI could have done; the ship was practically dead weight. The sound of metal against metal was almost deafening, more cries of alarm as it slowly but surely skidded to a stop. I picked myself up off the ground, immediately checking Joker. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” he muttered, waving me away.

“EDI, report,” I asked as I immediately headed down the gangway.

Multiple core systems overloaded during the crash. Restoring operation will take time.”

“How long will that take?”

A matter of hours, Shepard.”

“Not sure how long we’ll be on base so do what you can to at least get us in the air. Have you detected any movement towards our position?”

I do not detect an internal security network. It is possible the Collectors did not expect anyone to reach the base.”

“That’s some good news at least. Thanks, EDI. Right, engineering, report?”

Core is offline, Shepard. It’s going to take some work to fire it up again,” Tali reported in language that I could thankfully understand.

“Very well. All ground team personnel, assemble in the conference room. Ken, Gabby, it’s on you to get the core going.”

Yes, Commander,” they answered in unison.

Kelly was already back in position by the time I made it to my screen. She looked a little shaken up, no surprise there, so I made sure I gave her a hug. “We’re alive. Good enough for now,” she whispered, “Go do your whole save the galaxy thing again.”

“I Love you.”

“I Love you too.”

I was last into the conference room, my team eager, ready to face the Collectors. We’d fought them only a couple of times. This time, we were fighting on their turf. In some ways, it was an advantage for them. But I’d built a great team. To be honest, better than my team facing Saren and his geth. And the eyes that met mine were nothing but determined, ready to fight and die if necessary.

“Engineering, report.”

“The drive core just needs a reboot, Shepard. The shockwave caused some damage but there is no reason why the Normandy will not be ready within a matter of hours,” Tali stated.

“Good. Zaeed, any significant damage downstairs from our visitor?”

“Minimal, Shepard. The shields will keep us safe for our eventual return. Most damage was cosmetic at most.”

EDI had already scanned the base so we could establish a plan of attack. It was fairly simple, in the end. We had to fight our way to the centre of their base, overload their critical systems, then get away before it exploded.

“We’re going to have to go straight through the heart of the station, Shepard. In the middle of that is a massive energy signature,” Jacob stated, another dot appearing on the hologram.

“Any idea what that is?” I asked.

“Central chamber. Possible colonists are kept there. If still alive,” Mordin replied, “Energy readings suggests active life pods. Also suggest possibility that colonists are being kept alive by Collectors.”

“To what end?” Miranda asked.

Mordin could only shrug. “Unknown without more data.”

I gestured as I spoke. “There appear to be two main routes, right?” I looked around to see everyone nod. “That would suggest we split into two small groups and infiltrate that way. The Collectors don’t know how many we have, but two small forces will split their own, and I’m confident six of us in each can deal with whatever they throw at us. We can then regroup further in and head for the central chamber.”

“One problem, Shepard-Commander.”

“What is it, Legion?”

“Both routes appear to be blocked by blast doors, which would require the seals for both doors to be opened. We suggest sending a team member through the ventilation shaft to facilitate opening these doors.”

I looked back at the map and realised immediately that Legion was right. I was going to have to send someone down the shaft. It was going to be Hot, sweaty and dangerous. I looked back at the geth. “Sounds like something a geth could handle.”

“Affirmative, Shepard-Commander.”

“Garrus, you will lead the second team. Take Samara, Mordin, Thane, Jacob and Legion, when he’s done with the shaft. I’ll take the others.”

“Keeping your women close, Shepard?” my turian friend joked.

“Got to make sure they survive for afterwards, Garrus.”

He just laughed a moment before I looked around. “Okay, we all know why we’re here. Humanity is under attack, but I have no doubt we’d only be the first. The Collectors are agents of the Reapers, and to be honest, this time, they’ve made it personal. Not one more human will be kidnapped. We will enter this base, we will wipe out any and all opposition, we will blow the base sky high, then we will return and report on our success. After that, I’ll be honest, I don’t know. But first thing first. We finish this. And if you do what I expect, we’ll all walk back onto this ship alive.”

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