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If Not Now, When?

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After Rannoch Johnny felt the Normandy needed some leave, of course it took an order from his commanding officer to convince him. But now they were back at the Citadel and Jane was relaxing on the ship, Garrus was out making rounds with the refugees, making sure supplies were lasting. Johnny was out, meeting up with the crew on leave, making time for the little things. He even offered to take her to dinner to make up for sneaking off, some sushi place and then show off the apartment. But all the excitement had finally caught up with the soon to be mother and Jane made it clear to everyone she was to remain undisturbed while she rested or worked on her private project with EDI.

She was about halfway through the engineering reports on the crucible when EDI came threw with a message.

Jane, the Commander is under attack. Garrus and others are going in to help.

“Attack? Is it Cerberus?”

The feminine voice filled the room, “Unknown. No visible markings, and slightly different weapons. But all human.” There was a pause. “I am ordered to keep you updated but you must remain on the ship.

Jane got up and started pacing. Damn turian, it had to be Garrus who gave the order. She knew it was for the best, but she didn’t think she would have to play the role breakable woman all the time. A few minutes later there was a buzz of someone at the door. It opened to show the doctor looking concerned.

“EDI mentioned a spike in your vitals.” She held up an omni tool. “We can’t be letting you get so stressed. You'll need to lay down.”

Jane grumbled but followed orders. The doctor was trying to distract her but it only got her more aggravated. “Could I at least listen to the comm? Otherwise, I’m imagining the worse.”

“Alright, but it goes off if you don’t calm down.” The doctor relented.

Jane sighed, and closed her eyes, trying to stay calm. Overall the whole thing sounded messy on all sides. No one had ever gotten the drop on Johnny like this. Even with the grey box heist, he had all his gear by the time they were caught. But even with that hindrance, the attackers couldn’t kill him. Even Cerberus wouldn’t be so sloppy. Something felt off.

When Garrus and Vega joined up they finally got out of the area and back the apartment, she was exhausted but had remained calm. She spoke a couple minutes to Garrus, he promised to keep her in the loop but encouraged her to sleep. They would be dealing with this threat quickly and she should be safe on the ship, she had the utmost faith in her boys but hated not being there. At least he agreed to send scans of the gun so she could feel useful.

Trying to push the bad thoughts out of mind she laid down and looked over the scans.

-

Jane woke early but didn’t find any messages. Odd, Garrus said they were likely to do some recon last night on the gun they found. She hadn’t been able to find out much, beyond the fact it was a prototype. The housing was poorly designed for mass production so it must have been a proof of concept.

Getting up she was greeted by a fairly quiet ship, not too different than when normally on the station, but surely her brother had ordered everyone to cut the shore leave short after the latest attack? Protocol meant they would have returned to their stations on the ship.

Walking into the med bay Jane looked for the doctor but only found her brother and a dark woman she never met before.

“Johnny? What’s going on?” The pair looked up from the terminal toward her.

He stared at her intently before letting his eyes trail to her stomach, his eyes glowed with anger for a second, something his cybernetics rarely did nowadays. “Just finding out the truth.”

The woman glanced between them before speaking up, “I’m Maya Brooks from Alliance Intelligence. The Reapers control has infected more people than we all thought. We had to get rid of the crew, it’s too dangerous to trust any of them.”

Turning focus back on Johnny, Jane asked, “Where’s Garrus?”

Johnny’s mouth thinned before he spat, “That turian won’t be on this ship again. I should never have let it touch you. I failed my sister, but not anymore.” Waving a hand at her unborn children. “We’ll get rid of those soon, and it’ll be just us again, Jane.”

Her hands came up to her belly to block their looks, cradling and protecting it. The crew was gone, Chakwas wasn’t here. Johnny was behaving oddly, maybe he had succumbed to the Reapers. Unlikely, he didn’t at the Alpha Relay…

Then it hit her. He hadn’t called her Janey. He always did, at least once. He knew she hated it as a kid and insisted on using it like she did with Johnny. Now it was something they loved to do, a reminder of the times before they lost their home and family.

“You're not my brother.”

“No, I am better. I will actually protect you.” He sneered.

The Brooks began to smile coldly and crossed her arms, “Damn, I was hoping he could keep it together long enough to fool you until we left. He wanted you alive.”

The imposter pulled a gun and turned it on the woman. “I’ve got all the records now, I don’t need you anymore. But she’s the closest thing to family he had. I have. I am not giving that up.”

Turning back to Jane, “The other Shepard shouldn’t have let you be taken by those fucking slavers. I wouldn’t have, and even if they did I would have hunted them down until you were safe. I for sure wouldn’t have let some beast impregnate you. I assumed it was another human, that would be alright. But these freaks, Shepard never should have let that happen.”

For a moment Jane felt true fear, then burning anger. For someone to have her brother's face and throw all his efforts out the window, to call her love some sort of evil animal, to threaten her children. Ones she never should have been gifted. Something in her snapped and in a quiet cold voice said, “No. They are my children. Garrus is my husband. And my real brother, the real Shepard is going to fucking kill you.”

“As long as she doesn’t get in the way, do what you want with her,” Brooks said to the fake Shepard. “And we won’t be worrying about Shepard for long, soon he and all his closest crew will be running out of air. Put her somewhere she won’t get in the way. I’ll handle the preparations to leave.”

The woman went past her, but before Jane could lash out, Evil Shepard grabbed her arm roughly twisting and pushing it rushing up behind her. She hissed in pain as he said softly. “Come now, sister. Let’s find you a place to stay until you feel better.”

They took the lift down and down the hall to Diana’s room, but when the door opened it was clear it had been turned over like it had been searched. Twisting her wrist, the imposter wrenched her omni tool off. Then he pushed her roughly into the room and she was barely able to grab hold of the couch back before falling. The door hissed shut behind her, running on adrenaline she turned around and slammed her fists on it, cursing.

Looking around the room, Jane’s mind was going at FTL. Unfortunately, it seemed whoever worked over the room, there didn’t appear to be any piece of tech left, the shutters to the outside and cargo bay were partially shuttered, not that they were useful. Grasping at straws, Jane called for EDI but there was no reply. Looking around the door, she couldn’t find any loose panels or wire, why did the Alliance have to finish repairs on this room of all of them, and from the almost silent vibration, she knew they were going through pre-flight checks.

How was she supposed to save them from in here?

-

One thing about engineers trained today, they felt like they could only do their work with omni tools or terminals. They never had everything stripped from them, never had to get creative. Unfortunately for Jane, she couldn’t see options for any of her usual tricks. Not that she could safely go about the ship if she did get out, and she was no longer some desperate slave with a death wish.

But they had forgotten about the trash compactor. Thank the Spirits for Alliance laziness in not removing all redundant systems, now Jane was able to get into the ship’s automation systems. Part of her wonder what Diana would have thought of the room original purpose, would she have asked for other quarter?

Jane would have to trust her team to get out of wherever they were trapped. For now, at least she could monitor some of the ship's systems through the trash compactors had access to the automated routines, it was an old fashion software text, but usable. Try to hinder the attackers as much as possible. Without EDI is would take them hours to figure out systems were failing due to a resourceful prisoner.

For now, everything had been locked down, no one in or out. She had been focused on fluctuating the engine levels out of alignment when a bad reading came back she did not cause. A small energy was drawn from one of the maintenance hatches outside the ship… Holding her breath she deleted the report. Hopefully, no one saw it, and fingers crossed hoping it was Johnny and the team.

Jane upped the error readings, hoping to add to the confusion and stop anyone from spotting real minor ones. The attackers must have been on edge, they ended up canceling her alerts on engines and got the ship going with brute force.

But Jane needed eyes, sensors only told her so much. Looking around she spotted simple holo clock. It was only used it for music and time, but the thing was capable of more. Right now she was happy it had a holographic display. Using a high heeled shoe, she broke open a panel into the internal wiring. With some quick jerry-rigging she got a simple black and white feed.

But they weren’t jumping to FTL… Looking at the sensor readings she saw they were being slowed by a skycar. At one point the damn thing wiggled what would have been wings on a ship. It had to be Cortez. Well, she could help there. Hopefully, Garrus would forgive her for running his calibrations. Opening up his programs, she started to fiddle with some of the rarely used inputs. They were little things that could help squeeze his .45% improvement, but if they were really fucking wrong, it was like trying to hit a flea on a jumping pijak with a pop gun.

Jane then turned to the inside camera feeds. From the looks of CIC Johnny had got in, and man was he mad. No guards were left alive besides the pilot carefully locked in the cockpit. There were small fires and even one man who looked like he had been trampled by a Krogan. Flicking through the different inputs she found all those who were left in the cargo bay. Johnny, Garrus, and Wrex were struggling to keep up with the fake Shepard, Brooks, and the last of their guards, but the trio was gaining ground. The others were panicking as they were being pressed to the open cargo bay doors and making costly mistakes. Abandoning the screen, she ran to the partially opened window, seeing the fight in color now.

Finally, her Johnny got his hands on the other and let loose. While he didn’t have the finesse of her or her husband in a hand to hand fight, Johnny knew how to cause pain. There was a jump in the ship and her heart flew up her throat as both slid to the edge of the bay, and close to the zooming Citadel buildings. Luckily Garrus and Wrex were they to pull their Johnny to safety.

The fake said something but wasn’t happy with the answer. He refused the helping hand and fell down, in between the buildings. Even in armor, his broken body would be in too many pieces for anyone but Miranda to put back together again.

Jane sighed relief. Even without her tools, she managed to help at least a little. She got an alert of someone hacking the ship, and she smiled as she recognized EDI’s code. EDI decided to start ripping at the blocks from inside the ship and soon she was greeted with a familiar feminine voice.

Jane, are you in need of assistance?

Jane smiled, leaning back against the wall. “No EDI, I’m fine, no harm done. But I would greatly appreciate it if you could unlock the door before my asshole of a husband breaks it down?”

Of course Jane. Logging you out.