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Video Killed The Radio Star

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Three Days

 

The three of them sat in the shuttle, waiting for planet drop. It would be another hour before they hit the ground, so Shepard sighed and stared down her companions. She may as well go over their goals now; Jack was an impulsive person, and quick to anger. Shepard questioned her own judgment on bringing Jack on a mission to help Cerberus scientists, but they had no idea what they would face on Raësh. She had brought along the calmest crew member to try and balance Jack out; she could only hope that Krios would prove to be as controlled as he seemed.

“What the fuck’re you looking at?” Jack sneered, staring right back.

“We need to talk about the mission. As you both know, Cerberus detected strange energy signatures on Raësh. They sent fifty scientists, as well as thirty security personnel, to investigate. After a few months of steady communications, the messages suddenly stopped.”

“Yeah, we know, Cerberus dicks wimped out. So what?”

“Actually, we don’t know that. The Illusive Man told me that there were still about eighty human life signatures on Raësh. They’re still down there, they just aren’t talking to us. This is strictly a communication effort. If it turns out to be a broken comms network, we help them fix it and leave. If it’s something more sinister than that, then we may need to call the Normandy down for evacuation. It might be nothing,” she said, looking at both of them seriously, “but in my experience, it probably isn't, so I need you both on your guards.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever.” Jack looked out the window. Krios nodded seriously, his hands clasped together. Shepard wondered who-or what-he was praying to. Jack glanced back at Shepard, head still turned towards the window, and said, “Wanna take bets?”

Shepard leaned forward. When they didn’t know exactly what they were walking into, the team would usually try to guess what was happening. Whoever was closest got to stand at the front of the dinner line for a week; a hefty prize indeed. “Sure,” she said, “why not?”

“It’s probably zombies,” Jack said, “that’s why communications cut out. Because they’re zombies.”

Shepard hummed. “It’s too unlikely. I say there was some bad weather, messed with their systems.” She turned to Krios, whose eyes were closed. “You want in?”

“The strange energy is the issue,” Krios said.

“You sound certain.”

“It’s certainly more likely than zombies.”

Shepard frowned. She could’ve sworn that was a joke. A religious assassin with a sense of humor. She supposed there were less likely things.

The shuttle shook suddenly, jostling them. She steadied herself and knocked on the cockpit’s door. “What’s the problem back there?” She shouted, over the loud turbulence. The pilot didn’t answer. She glanced at Jack and Krios, then carefully, holding on to the seats, stood up. The shaking got more violent, and she felt the shuttle tip towards what was certainly the ground. She made her way to the door and threw it open. She stumbled back, not because of the corpse in the pilot’s seat, but because she had, for only a moment, lost her footing. She grimaced and moved towards the seat. Up close, the pilot was pale, his eyes wide open. She couldn’t see anything immediately wrong with him, besides that his left ear was bloody. She tried to get a closer look, but she was thrown back into the passenger hold by the force of the turbulence and looked to her companions.

“Grab your parachutes. We need to go, now.” She said, already shouldering her, working on overriding the shuttle door locks. Tech was not her specialty; she never cared for computers, preferring to just slam enemies with her biotics rather than try to manipulate some flimsy equipment that could fail at any moment. She cursed as the mechanisms refused to cooperate. She glanced back at Krios and Jack, who were both wearing their ‘chutes, and tried again. This time, the door opened, and she immediately flung herself out. They were close to the ground, but hopefully not too close. She opened her ‘chute immediately and saw the others do the same. They watched, slowly floating down, as their shuttle crashed and exploded.

“Well,” she said, mostly to herself, “so much for bad weather.”


Two Days, Twelve Hours

They stood at the crash site, looking for the pilot’s body. It would likely be too destroyed to have any hope of further examination, but he at least deserved to be pulled out of the wreckage. As they walked, she heard Jack, who had been trailing behind, catch up with her.

“How the fuck are we gonna get out of here?”

“Well,” Shepard said, “we’re going to have to hope that we can fix whatever’s going on with the comms systems. If not, Joker has a standing order to send somebody after us if he doesn’t get any response in three days. We’ll be fine. Worst comes to worst, we have to live off the land for a little while.” She nodded at Jack, and continued her brisk pace. She understood Jack’s concern, but she was more worried about what had killed the pilot. She was no doctor, but if she had to guess, she’d say it had something to do with his ear. She wasn’t sure if a rupture in the ear could kill someone so quickly, though. More concerning was the fact that whatever had killed him had not done so to her team. A sound loud enough to kill someone surely would have made it out of the cockpit, but she hadn’t heard a thing.

She crouched on the ground, hoping to catch sight of a charred corpse when Jack shouted for her. She jogged over and saw what was left of it. She was right; there wasn’t much left behind. She sighed and looked at Jack and Krios, who had come over to take a look as well.

“I’m guessing we won’t get anything from this?” They both shook their heads. “Guess it was just too much to hope this would be something normal. Alright,” she said, clapping her hands, “any suggestions?”

“We should head for the labs,” Krios said. “Cerberus may have answers there.”

“Good plan. Jack, any objections?”

“Nope. Those assholes’ve done something stupid, for sure.”


Two Days, Five Hours

They had been walking in the general direction of the labs for hours. Shepard knew that they wouldn’t get there before sundown, but she wanted to get as far as they could before darkness fell. The woods were odd, in a way. There wasn’t anything unusual about them, specifically, they just didn’t feel quite right. She supposed that must’ve been the energy waves. A bird called out in the distance, and half a dozen other birds answered it. Jack groaned.

“I swear, if I hear one more fucking bird tweet, I’m going to start tearing out feathers. These flying fucks are giving me a headache.”

Shepard rubbed her own forehead. A headache had plagued her for the past half hour. She ignored Jack, though. They had to keep going.


Two Days

They had finally stopped for the night, only when it was so dark that Shepard couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. They hadn’t bothered with a fire, and when Shepard had bullied Jack into waking up at sunrise, she felt the first stirrings of hunger. Thirst was the far bigger issue, however. They couldn’t trust that any stream they found would be clean, so they were using the water packs. Those would run out eventually, but they would make it to the labs before that happened. Shepard estimated that they would get there by the end of the day, so long as they walked at a brisk pace. The sounds of life echoed all around them. Shepard’s headache had gotten worse overnight, and she hoped desperately that the labs were somewhat soundproof.


One Day, 14 Hours

The scenery was unchanging. If not for the compass, Shepard would’ve thought they were walking in circles. She activated her comms; she’d tried to call the Normandy the day before and had gotten nothing but static, but she had to try.

“Normandy, this is Commander Shepard, please respond.” She said. Static was her only response. “Normandy, I repeat, please respond.” More static, but there was something laid under it, like whispering. Maybe she was getting through, but only just. She removed her comms unit and toyed with it. She didn’t really know what she was doing, but at this point, it was her only option. She replaced the unit and tried again. “Normandy, if you can hear me, respond.”

“We hear,” she heard. It was not Joker’s voice. She stopped in her tracks.  The static was still there, and a ringing noise accompanied it, but there was a voice, clear as day. Jack looked at her in confusion, while Shepard put up her hand, signaling her to wait.

“Who is this? How did you get this channel?”

“We old. We hear, we listen. Help us.” The voice spoke with command, and she frowned.

“I won’t help anyone I don’t know. Show yourself.”

“No. Can’t see, only speak.”

“I won’t be able to see you?” she asked. She received only static in response. She frowned more, “Hello? Are you still there?” She got nothing back.

Jack was staring at her in confusion. “Who was that?”

“I have no idea,” Shepard said.

Krios was looking at the sky. He had a strange look on his face, but it cleared up quickly. She gestured for him to follow her, and continued her fast walk.

“What’s up?”

“When you were… talking, there wasn’t any noise.”

“How do you mean?”

“The animals,” he said, “were silent.”

She frowned. Just one more mystery to add to the ever-growing pile.


One Day, Two Hours

The labs looked very much like all Cerberus labs. Mostly white, with some black accents, the minimalistic style reminded her of a hospital, which she supposed was the point. It was all so sterile. The sun was going down; only one more day until Joker sent someone after them, so they would have to work fast.

She approached the woman who had introduced herself as the lead scientist. The others were taking advantage of the facilities, but Shepard had questions.

“Why did you stop communicating with Cerberus?” She asked. This was still her first priority.

“At first,” the woman explained, “we only studied the odd energy here. But we made a breakthrough, a few months in. We figured out how to harvest it. It wasn’t perfect at the time, obviously; we’re much better at it now. But we think that harvesting the energy may be interfering with our comms systems.”

“So why didn’t you stop harvesting so you could share this information?”

The woman looked uncomfortable. “Well, odd things started happening. Little things, but odd nonetheless. When we harvest, the animals in the nearby forest go silent.  And some of our people started hearing ringing in their ears, having headaches. We wanted to figure out what was going on.”

“And you didn’t think that maybe not ‘harvesting’ would make these side effects go away?”

“We tried that, but all the problems continued. It’s all very fascinating.”

“One more question. Has anyone here died, possibly from an ear rupture?” She glared at the woman. She disliked Cerberus scientists firmly. They were so focused on the results that they didn’t care who they hurt, whether it be children, soldiers, or their own personnel.

“No, there haven’t been any deaths. Why?” She said, too quickly.

“Just wondering.” She looked at her. “I should go.” She walked away before the woman could respond.

She went to the rooms they’d been given for the night. The hope was that rescue would come in the morning and that whoever they’d displaced could deal with sleeping on couches for one night. She grabbed Krios and Jack from their rooms and dragged them into hers, and closed the door.

“Woah, Shepard, if you wanted me in your place that badly, you just had to ask,” Jack said, falling gracelessly onto the couch, splaying when she landed. Krios followed, much more carefully.

Shepard didn’t dignify that with a response. “We need to talk. Something isn’t right here.”

“Obviously. It’s fucking Cerberus, Shepard. What did you expect? These assholes don’t usually come out smelling like a rose.”

“Then we need to figure out what stinks. What do we know?” She started pacing. “The pilot died in flight from what looked like an ear rupture, but we didn’t. Why?”

“Maybe the noise wasn’t loud enough? The turbulence was loud” Jack suggested, “Or it was being controlled so that it couldn’t reach us?”

“But we should’ve heard a noise loud enough to kill someone, even with the turbulence. And he died before the shaking started, too.” She shook her head.

“Perhaps it was being controlled, but was done in a way that couldn’t hurt us,” Krios said.

“The energy affects comms. Maybe it got in through that?” Jack said, leaning back.

“But why didn’t it kill us?” She stopped pacing but stayed facing away from them.

“It might not have been able to. It could be that it can only do something on that scale one at a time.” Krios sat forward, his hands clasped together.

“No, it wants us alive,” Jack insisted, shaking her head. “We’re more useful that way.”

“‘Help us,’” Shepard murmured.

“There are, frankly, too many options. Commander, if I may make a suggestion?” Krios asked, his face turned towards Shepard’s.

“Anything that could help.”

“We should focus on the facts, rather than attempting to make guesses.”

“Fair enough. We know that the pilot died, sometime before the turbulence started. We know that the animals are silent whenever they harvest energy-”

“Wait,” Jack interrupted, “these dickheads are taking the energy?”

Shepard nodded, and continued, “People who stay here for too long get headaches and may hear ringing, but that only started after the harvesting did. The comms stopped working at the same time. Whatever contacted me earlier also silenced the animals, unless they were harvesting at that time. The lead scientist said that nobody has died here, but I think she’s lying. Anything else?” She asked.

They both shook their heads.

“Here’s the plan; we sleep tonight, act like we don’t suspect anything. Tomorrow, I want us to split up. Jack, you try and confirm our numbers. If there's even one less than eighty people here, I want to know about it. Krios,” she said, turning to look at him, “I want you to look into the side effects. Try and find a medical center.”

“There might be a secret one to hide the evidence,” Jack mentioned.

“Good point. I’ll be looking into the comms system, as well as the harvesting process.” She nodded at them. “We have until backup shows up to figure this out. Good luck," she said.


14 Hours

 

Shepard walked confidently down the hallway. All Cerberus labs were effectively the same, and she’d actually been given the map to this one. She didn’t need to ask to find the comms system, which was just to her left. She had a theory, something vague and formless, and she needed the comms to help give it shape. She whistled as she walked into the area, and stepped up to the main unit. She took out her own comms, and brought up the settings. She checked against the settings for the main comms; though her own were smaller and more personal, the settings were exactly the same. She frowned. She’d messed around with hers yesterday, surely she’d changed something. She just had to look harder. She grabbed a chair, sat down, and began to scroll.


12 Hours

 

Counting every single stupid Cerberus asshole here was fucking boring. Why did the lizard get the cool job? Jack huffed in annoyance as she crossed employee number eighty off her list and banged her head against the wall. She glanced down at her padd, and groaned when she realized she’d missed five people. She stepped up to number sixty three, a man who seemed like a snitch, and said “Hey, I’m…” ugh, she hated being polite, “looking for a couple of people. Think you can help me out?”


12 Hours

Shepard grinned as she finally found the difference. There, buried between settings that actually mattered, was frequency. It wasn’t important anymore, because nobody used radios, but it had been the only thing she’d changed on her comms when she’d ineptly fooled around with them. The only difference between hers comms and the main ones. Her theory was starting to take shape; she just needed to figure out what they were doing with the energy in the first place.


10 Hours

Thane had found the official medical center with ease and had found nothing amiss aside from the complaints the Commander had mentioned earlier. He’d looked deeper in the blueprints, and had explored the labs carefully for three hours. He wasn’t even close to giving up when he found it; if Cerberus wanted to hide something, they should really do better than to make it easy to find within hours. Jack had been right; there was a medical facility that hadn’t been on the maps. He was going to search through the logs when he heard the door open. Without thinking, he flung himself under the table, which in the stark Cerberus facility was the only reasonable hiding place. The lead scientist walked in and started the logs herself. He nearly smiled. The woman had done his job for him, and with her security clearance, he may even find the truth. He slowly creeped up behind her and put her in a choke hold. He considered snapping it, but so far, she hadn’t done anything wrong, and while just choking her out might allow her the chance to get back up again, he was certain that there were sedatives around the room.


8 Hours

It’d taken some doing, but Jack had tracked down the last five Cerberus dicks. Or, she’d tracked down the complete lack of them; nobody seemed to know who she was talking about, but they were all shitty liars. Not only that, but they’d disappeared off the employee records completely. If Jack didn’t have the original records from The Disappearing Dickhead, she wouldn’t know anybody was missing at all. They were probably dead. They didn’t have a rendezvous point, but she had to find one of the others. Shepard was guaranteed to be in one of two places, but she wouldn’t need the information about five missing, possibly dead people for her job. The assassin, however, might, but he could be anywhere. She sighed and brought up her map; it was too bad comms didn’t work, stupid broken fucks.


8 Hours

Shepard stared at the harvesting system. She knew there was a way to store the energy, but God help her, should couldn’t figure it out for the life of her. She didn’t want to ask; that might make the scientists suspicious, but she’d been here long enough that that was a moot point. She turned to the nearest lab coat wearer, and asked “What happens to the energy once you harvest it?”

“Oh,” he said, in his nasally voice. “it’s quite a fascinating process. Here, let me take you through it, step-by-step, Commander.”


6 Hours

If Thane hadn’t wanted to kill the lead scientist before, he did now. Five members of the team had approached with more unusual problems. These people had heard the ringing, but they had also heard voices. Instead of helping those people, or attempting to ship them off the planet, she’d done awful things to figure out what was happening to them. He was not disturbed, necessarily, but he knew, objectively, that what she had done was wrong. She wasn’t the only one in on it; it seemed the entire base now refused to acknowledge these people. Just a few days ago, the experiments had stopped entirely. Perhaps it was too much to hope that the scientist had realized her mistake and let them go, but that hope was the only thing keeping her alive.

The door behind him slid open suddenly. He grasped the scalpel he had put in his pocket and whirled, ready to attack, when he saw Jack standing in front of him. He relaxed his position, and looked at her questioningly, which probably came off as being politely neutral.


5 Hours

Jack was pacing while trying to figure out what they were missing.

“So those people are definitely dead, but we don’t know how they died.”

The assassin shook his head. “After they heard voices, they began displaying unusual behavior. All five had become extremely goal oriented, to the point of obsession, within days. They expressed a desire to help, though they did not make clear with what. Two of them attempted to sabotage the labs, and never gave an explanation as to why.”

“It doesn’t make sense. Shit, we should probably regroup with Shepard, tell her what we know.”

“Maybe not.” He said, contemplatively. At her questioning look, he said “she heard voices as well, in the woods. She may be affected. The judgement of the five was severely limited. They also found they took much longer to complete even simple tasks, so if Shepard is indeed affected, we have time.”

“Maybe if we explain what we think is happening, she’ll listen.”

“We need better than to think. We need to know.”


3 Hours

The man had finally finished an explanation that had literally lasted hours, but she knew where the energy went, and her theory finally had shape. She knew what had to be done, and when she put her comms unit back in place, she said: “I think I can help.”

The voice on the other end, surrounded by static and ringing, replied “Yes. Make them hear.”


2 Hours

Thane carefully snuck through the facility, Jack at his back. They had talked around in circles for some time, had searched through records for what, exactly, happened to the energy, and had finally agreed to take their findings to Shepard. It would be best to not be noticed on the way; if Shepard was compromised, he didn’t want the scientists to know about it. They made their way to the comms room, which was empty, although that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Shepard could very well be investigating the harvesting system.

He took a look at the comms themselves, but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, other than the fact that they didn’t work. The frequency was a little off, but ]there was nothing else out of order. He gestured to Jack to move on.


1 Hour, 58 Minutes

Shepard stood in front of the intercom. She’d had to find it and get it safely into this room for her plan to work. She’d barely avoided Jack and Krios, who had been skulking around. They would understand, once she showed them the truth. She was good at that, making people realize things they preferred to ignore. She turned it on and dragged the microphone over to the comms unit. She had everything set up just so; now, it was the moment of truth.


1 Hour, 58 Minutes

Thane stopped a scientist in the harvesting room. “Excuse me, have you seen Shepard?” he asked. The scientist nodded vigorously.

“I saw her a few hours ago. She stayed for my whole explanation on the system, but she left kind of abruptly. Speaking of, do you two happen to want to know how all this works?” He sounded oddly like he had a cold, and Thane took a small step away from him.

“No, thank you.”

“Are you sure? It’s really quite fascinating, you-”

“We said no, dickhead.” Jack was getting more and more frustrated with each moment that passed. Thane was concerned; he felt like they were one step behind Shepard the whole time, and it was clearly getting to Jack.

“Jack,” he started, only to be interrupted by static, and a terrible ringing noise. It was bearable, for a moment, but quickly became deafening. Thane clutched the sides of his head, and he saw the scientists fall to their knees, their hands on their ears. The scientist he had just been talking to was bleeding from the ears. He turned to see Jack suffering as well, though she was still on her feet. A product of her childhood, perhaps.

Shepard was surely causing this, though it may not have been her intention. But Thane had to stop it, and, if necessary, stop her, as well.


1 Hour, 57 Minutes

When the she heard the sound of static and ringing over the intercoms, she sighed in relief. She’d done it; the voice could explain everything, make Cerberus understand, and they’d fix it. Her own comms were echoing with a similar static. Then, it got louder, and she cried out in pain, as she had a line to the same noise going directly to her inner ear. She didn’t understand. What was going on? They should be explaining, now.

She heard the voice say “Thank you. For all your help.”


1 Hour, 50 Minutes

Thane was the only one still standing. He had never felt so glad to not have ears on the outside, though he was still in pain. He stumbled his was to the comms room; he had to get it shut off, but it was slow going. If anyone around him was screaming, he couldn't tell. If anyone was already dead, he had no way of knowing. He stepped over another collapsed body, their mouth agape in agony. He slammed into the comms room  door, praying to Arashu to protect for just a few more moments, just until he could turn it off. It took what felt like years for the door to open, and when he did, he immediately stumbled over to the comms unit itself. A personal comms unit was thrown bodily onto the floor. Probably Shepard’s. He couldn't deal with that right then; he had to turn off this awful noise first. He found the microphone, and moved it away from the comms unit. The noise was significantly reduced, so he threw it on the opposite end of the room. That done, he changed the only thing that he had noticed was odd about the comms system; the frequency. The instant he did, the noise finally stopped. He turned then to what he believed was the intercom, and turned that off as well. Then he collapsed onto the chair. He felt like he had just run a marathon.


1 Hour, 53 Minutes.

Once Shepard understood what was happening, she yanked off her her comms unit and threw it as far away from her as she possibly could. She then stumbled out of the room, and to the where she knew the energy they had harvested was stored. She got there, slowly but surely She nearly collapsed from the pain, but she made it. The heaviest thing in the room was a paperweight, unfortunately. It was hardly a metal pipe, but it would have to do. She dragged herself to the storage units and slammed the paperweight into them, over and over again, until they cracked and broke. She only realized that the ringing had stopped when her hands were raw from her careless smashing, and all the units were split open. She laid there, closed her eyes, and allowed herself to drift away.


1 Hour, 48 Minutes

“-Pard! Thane, Jack, this is Normandy, please come in, I repeat, This is Normandy, come in.” Thane heard suddenly. He sat up fully and scrambled to figure out where the voice was coming from. The comms unit on the floor, covered with blood. He grimaced, but he turned his own unit on.

“Normandy, this is Thane Krios. Jack and the Commander are currently unavailable. Please send evac along with medical support as soon as possible.” He turned it off, got up, and set off to find Jack and Shepard.


0 minutes

The shuttles had finally made planet drop just in front of the lab. People rushed passed him into the building, but his only concern was getting out, along with the rest of the team. He’d had to drag Shepard all the way back from the storage room. He had no idea why she’d destroyed the storage containers; hopefully, he’d get an explanation soon. Jack was somewhat away, and though she needed some help walking, she could mostly support her own weight. He rushed them into and evac shuttle and turned to the pilot to ask him to take off, but Jack beat him to it.

“Get us the fuck out of here.” She said. The pilot gulped, and soon they were lifting off.


Shepard woke slowly. Her head felt stuffed with cotton, her skin was tight and itchy, and her mouth was as dry as a desert. She felt loopy enough to wonder exactly how many pain meds she was on. She saw Chakwas, along with Krios and Jack, standing over her.

“You’re very lucky, Commander. You nearly died. As it is, you’ll likely suffer from hearing loss in your left ear for the rest of your life. Now,” she said, gesturing to Jack and Krios, “I understand that these two have some questions. If you don’t feel up to answering, I would be more than happy to kick them out.”

Shepard stared at her. “It’s fine. Can we get some privacy, maybe?”

“You can have five minutes. After that, anything you don’t want me to know will have to be discussed when you’re in better health.” Chakwas left the room, allowing them to be as alone as they could be in a ship with an AI in it.

“I’m guessing you two want to know why I did it?” They both nodded, and Shepard sighed. “Okay. So, I’m guessing that you know that, even when they weren't harvesting, they were still experiencing all the symptoms, right?”

“No, we didn’t fucking know that.” Jack said.

“Well, that happened because of the storage system. The energy is alive, which is why it was so unusual. It was a living thing, and harvesting it was killing it. So it fought back, but it didn’t just want them to stop harvesting; it also wanted the parts of itself that Cerberus had stolen.” She said.

“So why bother with the comms system?” Jack asked.

“I think at that point it just wanted everyone dead. Of course, I assumed that, if given the chance, it would explain everything reasonably.”

“You… assumed. It did not tell you.” Krios confirmed.

“It didn’t ask me for anything directly. I probably would’ve been suspicious if it had.”

“In the time you’ve been in surgery, the second in command reveal to us that the five who had heard it were believed to be under mind control. Do you believe otherwise?”

“I don’t think it’s… it’s not that direct. It’s still my body, my mind is still there. It just… plants a few suggestions, lets them take root. For example, ensuring that the three of us were split up.”

Krios nodded. “Cerberus has agreed to abandon the planet.”

“Good,” Jack said, “knew they would wimp out.” Jack frowned slightly. “I have another question. How did it fuck with the comms system? And kill the pilot without killing us?”

“Radio frequencies. Pilots still use those frequencies, ones that we wouldn’t. It killed him the same way it tried to kill everyone else. It messed with the comms in the same way; it’s a being of frequencies, and even if nobody really cares about radios anymore, it’s still a necessary part of staying on the same channel. It could ensure that no message would ever go to or from the Raësh. Is that everything?”

“Fuck no. Shit, Shepard, you tried to kill us.”

“I didn’t exactly mean to. How can I make this better”

Thane raised a hand. “I believe we can come to an arrangement. Shepard, you will allow Jack and I a favor, that we can cash in whenever we choose.”

“Shepard owing me one? I like the sound of that.” Jack said, grinning.

“Shepard, do you find the terms agreeable?”

She nodded, slowly.

“Excellent. I believe our five minutes are up, so if you’ll excuse me.” Krios walked out of the room, squeezing around Chakwas.

“Jack,” she said, “what did you tell the others?”

“Oh, we said that the lead scientist went crazy and tried to kill everyone. She was already dead, she did some shitty experiments, she made everyone stop talking about the five missing people. No reason not to believe she did it.” Jack said.

“Wait, five missing people?”
“Yeah, we never figured out what happened to them. We’re pretty sure they’re dead, but nobody copped to it, so that’s just going to have to be left unsolved.”

“They could be alive out there. In the forest, maybe. We have to find them.” Shepard insisted.

“Do you wanna be the one who goes down there?”

Shepard blinked, then shook her head viciously. “I never want to see Raësh again.”

“Exactly. If those dumbasses are still down there, then they missed their chance. Nobody’s going back for them.” Jack patted her arm awkwardly, then stood up. “I’m gonna go harass… somebody. Not sure who, yet. See you.” She left, leaving Shepard with Chakwas.

“You should sleep. You went through a major and very delicate surgery, and it will take some time to heal.” Chakwas said.

Shepard sighed. She didn’t feel especially tired. But when she closed her eyes, she fell asleep almost immediately.