Fight for the Lost

The Professor

Location: Normandy

"Your implants?" Miranda queried, tilting her head.

She and Shepard were alone in the armory, both in full armor and were doing last minute checks on their weapons before returning to the cesspit known as Omega.

"I noticed that I wasn't drunk anymore after I left the medical bay, around 10 minutes later or so. I wanted to know if your work did that," Shepard stated.

Miranda was quiet for a few moments, checking her Predator. "Hmm… The best way to explain it would be to say that… well, I suppose it would be accurate to say that you're the human equivalent to a krogan."

"A krogan," Shepard repeated skeptically as he checked his HMWA.

"The implants were first used to regenerate your bones, organs and tissue. Once that particular process was complete, they now supplement and assist their functions," she lectured as she holstered her pistol and was now looking over her Pulse Rifle.

"Supplement how?" asked Shepard, as he looked over his HMWSG.

"To put simply, say you used to run at 100%. With the implants, you're running at 130%. Your liver can process toxins and poisons much more effectively. You can probably survive some poisons that could kill most humans, including me," Miranda explained.

"So that's why I sobered up so quickly. The alcohol was flushed out of me by the implants…" Shepard realized. "Jacob mentioned to me once that you used cutting-edge technology."

"Not really the words I'd use exclusively. Some of the tech we used is cutting-edge, yes, but others simply didn't exist before until we created them specifically for you," she corrected, collapsing her equipment and equipping them.

Shepard frowned. "So I'm using untested, prototype tech?"

"We put a lot of money, effort, and time into you, Shepard. I suppose the Illusive Man wanted you to last this time. Don't worry, everything should be working perfectly. It would be shame for you to drop dead now. And worse yet, it would be an embarrassment for me," Miranda teased.

Shepard rolled his eyes. "I'll try not to disappoint you, oh great Executive-Operative-Director Lawson of the Lazarus Cell," he said, sarcasm dripping from every word. Turning serious, he asked, "So what can I do now, besides survive hangovers and some poisons?"

"About 85% of your bones were fractured or broken, so we've had to use a synthetic weave to repair, reconstruct, or replace them. After we finished, we reinforced your skeleton further with a skeletal lattice, another kind of synthetic heavy bone weave, to the point where you're almost unbreakable. If you do suffer some sort of trauma to your skeleton though, there are medi-gel conduits at key locations that will allow you to regenerate bone damage in hours… days at the most."

She paused as Shepard did a full system check on his Blackstorm Projector and to process what she said.

"We've also perforated your muscles with a microfiber weave. It's why you're still able to get up and move around, despite being insentient for two years. Muscle stimulation to combat atrophy. Now, you should be physically stronger than you ever were. I wouldn't recommend arm wrestling an elcor, but you should be able to make a krogan think twice about hand-to-hand combat. Well, small krogan anyway," she said with a shrug.

Shepard looked back at her from his omni-tool scans. "Huh. Maybe I should hit the gym and see what I can bench now…"

Crossing her arms and giving him an irritated look, she asked rhetorically, "Do you want me to finish?"

Shepard nodded obediently and continued his scans.

"Soft tissue damage was the worst. Particularly your skin, if your scars are any indication. Just about every inch of you was damaged in some form or fashion. Using a unique blend of cybernetics and tissue growth, we managed to restore you to look like you. The hardest part, actually. The bio-synthetic fibers are still there, as you can already see," she explained, nodding her head at the glowing scars. "Your lattice shunting, that's the heavy skin weave, will see to it that you resist getting burns, cuts, and bruises and the micro-medi-gel conduits built-in will heal any trauma you actually do sustain."

Allowing Shepard time to collapse his weapons and equip them, she waited until he stood up from his prep and turned to face her.

"In all, your organs are more efficient, your bones are more resilient, your muscles are stronger, your skin is very resistant, and your capacity to heal yourself is well beyond the norm," she finished, seemingly proud of herself.

"Do I come with an instruction manual with lots of pictures too?" Shepard asked wryly.

Before she could give a retort of her own, Garrus walked in fully armored in his new Phantom gear, Jacob right behind him.

Both men saw Shepard suppressing a smirk and was trying to step away from Miranda subtly. For her part, Miranda looked torn between smiling as well or hitting him with something hard.

"Huh, haven't even helped with the mission yet and Shepard already looks like he's going to die again…" Garrus couldn't help but comment out loud before going to the weapons locker.

"She wouldn't kill him. Cripple or maim him maybe, but not kill. Too expensive to bring him back otherwise," corrected Jacob as he followed Garrus' example and retrieved his gear.

Both tried very hard to ignore the glares coming from the other side of the room.

"Per your request, Commander, I've monitoring local channels on Omega and the various mercenary factions believe that Archangel was killed in the assault," EDI suddenly declared.

"Works for me," Garrus said.

"Thanks for the info, EDI," Shepard called out to the AI. "Also, about that info I found?"

"I've sent the contents of the datapad to Aria T'Loak. I've yet to receive a reply," EDI answered.

"Fine. You two, finish up and let's go. Hopefully, Mordin is almost finished with his work."

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega

Stepping back into Omega, the group walked toward the transport area that would take them to the plague zone and clinic where their next recruit was waiting.

"Man, walking around this place last night… how can these people be left to rot like this?" Jacob asked with disgust as they passed by some people scrounging in the trash.

"You don't understand, or you don't want to?" Miranda said.

"Does it really matter?" Jacob said rhetorically.

"No. Omega has worked this way for a long time. No one's changing it now," Miranda answered matter-of-factly.

"She's right," Garrus said with loathing. "Walking around this place makes me sick. People are still dying, the strong still exploiting the weak. Nothing I did here even made a dent in this."

"Yet you were given a title for all your 'good deeds'," reminded Shepard. "Three merc groups are gone; their businesses will stop for a few months. The vacuum left behind will probably be fought over by various gangs for another few months. Until there's a clear winner, any shipments, slaves, or shakedowns will be put on hold for while. It's likely you did more than you think. Here, definitely. Outside of Omega, probably," Shepard finished with a glance at Garrus.

Garrus looked around a bit. "I know, but looking around…"

"You can't save everyone here. It's not possible. But you did do something and that's more than most," Shepard interrupted.

"Thanks Shepard."

Giving a nod and smile to his friend Shepard turned his head just in time to see a load of boxes carried by someone before colliding into him.

"Ah!" a voice cried through a voice module as his cargo started tumbling down to the floor. "Keelah!" he cursed, before grabbing the nearest items as quickly as he can.

"Sorry about that. Let me help," Shepard offered as he got down and picked some of the items up for the quarian.

"No! Stay back! It's mine!" The quarian yelled, before reaching out and grabbing some of the parts in Shepard's hands.

"Relax. I'm not going to steal anything from you, okay? None of us are native to Omega," Shepard assured.

The quarian tilted his head in a cautious manner, before seeing Garrus bend down and help grab some of the boxes. He turned to see Miranda and Jacob grab some of the stuff that bounced away and brought it closer.

"Um… Thanks…" he said carefully.

Stacking everything into haphazard piles, Shepard and Garrus picked up some of the load. "Need some help?" Shepard offered.

"Thanks," the quarian said, picking more of his cargo up while Jacob grabbed the rest. Miranda kept an eye out for any signs of trouble.

"What's your name?" Shepard asked in a friendly voice as the unlikely troupe started following the young quarian.

"Um… Kenn'Vael nar Selani," Kenn answered.

"Nar, huh? On your Pilgrimage then?" Shepard asked as he followed the Kenn down a set of stairs and past some vorcha.

"Yeah…" Kenn said dejectedly.

"Not going well I take it," Shepard said sympathetically as they stopped in front of a shop.

"No. I heard about Omega having a lot of different species and danger. A lot of quarians on their Pilgrimage start by going to the Citadel, Illium, or Omega. Like an adventure or something, y'know? Well, I made the wrong choice. What money I had got stolen within a few days. So I decided to sell salvaged parts," Kenn explained while he started putting some parts away. "You can put those down anywhere."

After placing the boxes down, Shepard took a look around. "So how's business then?"

"Badly," Kenn answered shortly. "Harrot's forcing me to sell high and I can't even afford a ticket off this station.

"How much do you need to get off Omega?"

"I still need 5000 credits to pay my way… but I couldn't let you do that. This is my mistake on my Pilgrimage. It's my problem," Kenn resolutely stated.

"Fine. What do you have that's worth 5000 credits?" Shepard easily said as he engaged his omni-tool and electronically passed appropriate amount of credits to the quarian.

"I… I can't take this. I…" Kenn stuttered, amazed that someone would drop that much on him out of nowhere.

"Just take the money kid," Garrus interrupted. "You got lucky the first time by getting robbed. Next time, someone might just stab you and take what they need. Omega's dangerous. The sooner you leave, the better."

"… Thank you. With this, I can finally continue on my Pilgrimage!" Kenn exclaimed happily. "Here. This isn't really worth the money, but maybe it might help you."

Using his omni-tool, Kenn tapped some commands before transferring the information to Shepard.

"What's this?" Shepard asked, checking his omni-tool.

"It's a little something I've been working on. Do you know anything about hacking?" Kenn said.

"I've been known to break into a few terminals from time to time," Shepard said evasively.

"Well, this should make things much easier for you. It'll calculate and predict the appropriate codes that you might need to break through firewalls," explained Kenn.

Shepard checked his omni-tool again. "Huh. That I can use. Thanks."

"No, no. Thank you. I'm going to buy my ticket right now," Kenn said, running off.

"Hold on. Just one last thing. Do you know where I can get some T6-FBA couplings?" Shepard asked.

"From Nashan Stellar Dynamics? Can't say I do. They've been discontinued for a while. Sorry," Kenn said after a moment.

"It's fine. See you around, Kenn."

Nodding in thanks, Kenn ran up the stairs.

"That's pretty decent of you, Commander," Jacob praised as the squad turned around and headed to the other direction.

Shepard shrugged, continuing down the hall toward the transport station.

"Complaining is pointless, human. There's plague. Nobody gets in or out," a frustrated voice said.

"You can't keep me out! I live in there!" another irate female voice argued.

Shepard and his group turned the corner to see a human female and a turian guard, arguing in front of the transport station door.

"I'm doing you a favor, lady. If you go in, the guards will cut you down," the guard warned.

"You can't do this! Everything I own is in that apartment!" she screeched.

"Look. I told you to get lost lady! The plague has the whole zone quarantined! Nobody gets in!" the guard snapped back.

"I'm human, you ass! Humans can't get the plague! Now let me get my stuff out before looters get it!" the refugee shouted.

"This thing affects every other race out there! We're not taking chances. Nobody gets in until the plague has run its course," the guard said with finality.

"So the slums are completely sealed off, then?" Shepard interrupted.

"Finally, a human that can hear. Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying," the turian confirmed.

"You can't keep me out! I'm going to lose all my stuff!" the woman repeated.

"Look, anybody in the quarantine zone will be dead from the plague or the gangs in a few weeks," the guard said.

"I didn't think Omega had any kind of law enforcement. Who gave the order to quarantine the slums?" Shepard asked.

The guard turned back to Shepard. "Fresh off the transport, huh? Aria T'Loak calls the shots around here. She's got her little blue hands on every business in this district… and a plague is bad for business. She hired us to keep anyone from entering or leaving the quarantine zone."

"If you really need to find him, take a shuttle to the quarantine zone. No guarantee they'll let you in, of course. Just don't bring the plague back with you."

That bitch. She's the one that made the call.

"There's a salarian named Mordin Solus in the slums. I've got to get in there to find him," Shepard told the guard.

"The doctor? Crazy bastard opened a clinic in the district a few months ago. The Blue Suns weren't too happy when he moved in. I hear Mordin's trying to deal with the plague. I'd wish him luck, but the area is still locked down. Our orders are to wait until either the plague or the Blue Suns kill everyone, then go in and clean up," the turian informed.

"Any idea where I can find Mordin's clinic?" asked Shepard.

"Not a clue," the guard shrugged. "What do you care? The place is quarantined, remember?"

"Tell more about the plague then."

"Starts out as a cough, then you start coughing blood, and… well, then I shoot you," the turian explained with another shrug. "It affects multiple species though. Turians, salarians, krogan – you name it. Only humans are immune. And vorcha, if you count them," the guard explained. "An airborne disease that takes down multiple races… we can't let that spread. Hence the quarantine."

"I didn't think diseases could cross species barriers. Turians and salarians can't even eat the same food," Shepard commented.

"Right," the guard agreed. "Most people figure that it has to be synthetic. Somebody engineered it, and it either got loose, or they're testing it here. And seeing as how humans are immune to the plague and doing a fair bit of looting, a lot of people think humans made it."

"Take a good long look at me. Do I look like a looter?" Shepard asked in a low tone.

Noting the full body armor and weapons, the guard hesitantly answered. "Uh, no."

"I'm going in," Shepard resolutely stated. "If I find looters, I'll kill them. Anybody gets in my way, I'll probably do worse," he finished with a glare at the guard in his way.

"I'll call the guards. They'll let you in with no trouble," the turian stammered when the others stepped in behind their commander.

"Wait, you're stopping me, but not them? You son of a bitch!" the female refugee said indignantly.

"You don't have a grenade launcher, lady. Get lost," the turian dismissed.

Ignoring their argument, Shepard turned to his team.

"A quarantine zone for a plague that kills turians. Why don't we ever go anywhere nice?" Garrus asked sarcastically.

"Do you still want to come along?" Shepard asked.

"I'm not going to let a cough keep me back, Shepard," Garrus answered confidently.

"Keep your helmet on and your hardsuit sealed then. All of you, just in case," Shepard ordered. After securing his Recon Hood, he added, "And voice modules off. Radio contact only. There are civilians inside, so check your fire. So far, only the Blue Suns and vorcha are considered targets of opportunity. Hold fire otherwise.

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Auxera District, Mordin's Clinic

"Ah, finally succeeded. Vaccine should remove all traces of virus. Best way to cure plague is render it airborne. Need to distribute through environmental controls," said a salarian doctor.

"Dr. Solus, we have reports that the Blood Pack has taken control of the environmental facility. We can't get in," said a woman in medical garb.

"Doctor, more refugees are coming in!" called someone from the front of the office.

"Problematic. Need to look after current patients. Need more help. Where's Daniel? Need him to cover," Mordin Solus said in his usual quick manner.

The salarian turned back to his terminal and doubled–checked his work to ensure success of the cure.

"Professor! Daniel is gone! We can't find him anywhere!" one of the assistants cried out.

"Oh dear, snuck out. Probably out helping sick batarians. Told him not to go. Too dangerous," Mordin said.

"What do we do?" another assistant asked.

"Can't do anything. Too many need us here. Hopefully be all right. Taking cure to people. Might not hurt him," Mordin quickly said.

"How do we distribute the cure?"

"Find a way. First take care of sick patients. Then see difficulty getting to environmental controls. Much to do. Much to do," the doctor said as he went to the next room to help the refugees.

"Begin synthesizing cure. Need to make enough to distribute through district," Mordin ordered as he ran his omni-tool over a turian.

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Level 429, Gozu District

"Don't shoot. They're cleared to come in," a guard said. The other two turians lowered their weapons as Shepard and his team entered the district.

When the district guards lowered their weapons, Shepard called for his people to do the same. Moving around the barricades, a lone turian stood guard to the lower level of the district.

"Good luck in there. The Blue Suns and vorcha are shooting anything that moves," the guard warned.

Shepard merely nodded to him and moved through the door. Cautiously walking down the stairs, he spotted two Blue Suns mercs.

"Garrus, two hostiles, 40 meters. I'll take the left, you take the right," Shepard called on his radio.

"Roger," Garrus said.

Miranda and Jacob stood back and the two snipers brought out their rifles. Two simultaneous shots brought down the guards and any chance of warning to any more mercs deeper inside.

"Move out," Shepard said after a few minutes of waiting to see if anyone would come to investigate. Bringing up his assault rifle, they carefully stepped into the district and took stock of their surroundings.

"Looks like they're burning the bodies in the streets," Jacob noted with disgust.

"Well, it's a good thing we're fully sealed. I can't imagine how bad the smell must be," Garrus responded.

"They must be trying to keep the plague from spreading," Miranda guessed.

"Judging from the amount of smoke coming from the hallways, they're burning more bodies," Shepard observed. "Whatever this plague is, cremation isn't working."

"Biological attack seems more and more likely," Miranda said.

"Commander! Over here. We got a civilian down. Batarian," Jacob called.

Rushing over to Jacob's position, a batarian was indeed there. He was still alive, but appeared to be in agony. Multiple bloody sores covered him and he was coughing blood every few minutes, making it hard for him to breathe.

Turning his voice module back on, Shepard walked over to the prone man.

Seeing Shepard's approach, the batarian coughed some more before spitting blood at the Spectre's feet. "Human. Should have guessed. Bad enough you infect us with this plague. Now you lack the decency to even wait until I die before you come to steal my possessions."

"Is there anything I can do for you?" Shepard asked, kneeling down toward the sick man.

The batarian victim raised a Hand Cannon weakly in the air in response. "Get away from me, human! Your kind has done too much already!" Gasping for more air, he continued his hateful tirade, "Your plague did this to me. Your feigned pity is the final insult."

"I'm looking for Mordin Solus. I understand that he's developing a cure. Maybe he can help you…" started Shepard before the sick batarian interrupted with a cross between a wet cough and a wheezing laugh.

"Humans looking for the human sympathizer. I hope the vorcha burn Mordin and his clinic to the ground."

Coughing harder, more blood splattered the ground next the batarian. "I hope you… I hope… Damn it. Damn you. Can't…"

"Hey, stay with me!" Moving closer and unconcerned about the pistol, Shepard administered some medi-gel to the batarian. "This won't cure the plague, but it might help a bit."

Breathing a little easier, the batarian managed to stand shakily on his feet as the anesthesia in the medi-gel took some of the pain away. Swaying slightly, his four eyes looked into the glowing blue eyes of Shepard's mask. "You… you helped me. Why?"

"It's what I do," Shepard said simply. "I don't know if I can find a cure for this plague, but I'm going to try."

"Your words sound… sincere," the plague victim said hesitantly. "Maybe it's the fever, but… what have I to lose? What do you wish to know?"

"You were talking about vorcha earlier. Tell me what they're doing here."

"Before the quarantine, the Blue Suns controlled this district. But as their numbers fell to the plague, vorcha moved in. The Blue Suns are fighting to protect their territory, but as the plague spreads, it's only a matter of time until the vorcha overwhelm them," explained the batarian.

"The vorcha aren't smart enough to do this on their own. They have help," Jacob said, via radio.

"They're not smart enough to launch a siege like this either. Not by themselves. If this is a planned attack, I'm thinking Blood Pack," Garrus deduced.

"You both might be right. Blue Suns must conduct most of their operations from this district. Someone attacks them with a virus to whittle down their numbers, and then the Blood Pack move in and take the district for themselves," concurred Miranda. "It must mean krogan are around here somewhere coordinating the attack. Probably in sealed suits like Garrus to prevent getting sick."

"I need to find Mordin Solus," Shepard asked the batarian.

"He has a clinic on the far side of the district," he said, pointing down the boulevard. "He's taking in refugees. Offering to help those infected with the plague. I was afraid to go to him before. He's dangerous," he admitted. "But perhaps he can help."

"What makes Mordin worse than dying from the plague?" Shepard asked, confused.

"The Blue Suns tried to press him for protection money. He killed them. Stunned them with some kind of toxin, then gunned them down," the batarian explained with a shudder. "He's not just a doctor. Doctors don't execute people and display the bodies as a warning."

"Definitely sounds like STG training," commented Garrus.

"When I find Mordin, I'll tell him about you. If he has a cure, I'll make sure someone gets it to you," promised Shepard.

"Thank you. My time is running short, but at least you have given me a flicker of hope to brighten the darkness of my final hours," he said with gratitude. He started coughing again, but with less intensity than before. "I don't want to die. Whatever Mordin is, I will risk it, if he can reach me."

"Just rest here. I'll try to get to him as soon as possible," Shepard said.

"Goodbye, human," came the tired response as the batarian slid along the wall and sat back with his eyes closed.

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Auxera District, Mordin's Clinic

"Thank you," a turian gratefully said.

"Of course, of course," Mordin distractedly replied as he listened to the sounds of combat outside. "Hmm. Rapid fire shots. Interspaced with shotgun rounds. Blue Suns and Blood Pack fighting again. Very close by. Increase security at front door just to be safe."

"Understood doctor," a human acknowledged. The clanking of mechs was heard as they moved to reinforce the entrance.

"Be sure to ready the explosives. Blood Pack known to use rocket launchers. Better to kill them first," Mordin reminded as he ran his omni-tool over a gunshot victim.

The Blue Suns turian merc groaned in pain as Mordin injected a local anesthetic before digging in to find the bullet.

"Got it. Should have no more complications. Heal quickly. Use stock of medi-gel. Be sure to use plague vaccine. Just in case," Mordin said to an assistant as he placed the bullet in a nearby tray.

"Wh… why are you… he… helping me?" the merc asked weakly.

"Life in danger. Why shouldn't help?" the salarian said quickly as he moved to the next table.

"We… we tried to kill you…" the turian said with confusion.

"You're injured. Now you can't kill me. You need me. Or you're too weak. Or sedative will kick in. Either way, can't kill me," Mordin said in a disinterested tone.

"Doctor, we still can't find Daniel. And we still have no idea what the Blood Pack are doing in the environmental controls," a human freelancer said.

"Logical guess would be they are intending to spread virus all over district. Too complicated for them. Won't succeed. Am worried that they may break something though. Will need to deal with them soon," Mordin replied. "For now, patient stabilized. Move to next room."

A Blue Suns merc screamed as he floated in midair. One shot from Garrus and a corpse was floating instead.

Shepard released his concentration on the dead merc and readied his own sniper rifle on another target that was firing wildly in Jacob's direction.

"Miranda, I see an ammo dump next to their barricade. I can't Overload it from up here," Garrus said.

"Overload deployed!" Miranda called out.

The explosion destroyed the makeshift barricade the Blue Suns were using, scattering and disorienting them. Garrus and Shepard used the opportunity to pick off the last of the targets.

"Jacob, they breach that apartment?" Shepard asked.

"Negative. They managed to unlock the door, but I got them before they entered," Jacob reported.

Garrus stood up with Shepard, checking the lower floor while Miranda and Jacob swept the area below for any more hostiles.

Observing Shepard's performance, Garrus couldn't help but ask, "Were you always a biotic?"

Shepard turned to face him, shaking his head in the negative. "Cerberus upgrades. I have eezo modules, but they were too small before."

Regrouping at the bottom floor, they flanked the apartment door the Blue Suns were trying to open.

The moment the door unlocked, Jacob and Shepard ran into the room first, sweeping for targets, followed closely by Miranda and Garrus.

"Hold fire! We got civilians," Shepard called out and lowered his assault rifle.

"Oh, thank God. You're human!" a woman said in relief.

"When we saw that door open, we thought those turians had found us," the man next to her said. Upon hearing this, Garrus stayed in the back of the group and out of their line of sight. "Ever since this plague, the Blue Suns have been out to get us. They're killing as many people as the disease."

Engaging his voice module, Shepard asked, "Why are the Blue Suns after you?"

"We didn't do anything!" the woman vehemently stated. "Pretty much every non-human in the district wants us dead!"

"They think we cause the plague. Humans aren't getting sick, and that's all the evidence they need. God knows how many of us they've already killed," the man explained.

"They should be looking at the vorcha, not us!" she added. "Ever since the plague hit, they've been taking over Blue Suns territory."

"I'm looking for Mordin Solus," Shepard said.

"Oh, yeah. Him. He's got a clinic in another district, in the Auxera District area," the man responded.

"Heard he's taking in refugees now. Trying to help plague victims. Offering protection from the Suns and the vorcha," the woman informed.

The man scoffed at her. "Sure. A doctor with military-grade mechs helping people for free. On Omega? Grow up."

"Sounds like you don't think much of the doctor and his clinic," Shepard noted.

"The vorcha tried to muscle in – he gunned them down, just like that. Pop, pop, pop. Didn't even use his mechs," he answered.

"Then the Blue Suns heard he was sheltering humans, and they went to burn down the clinic. He killed them too. Then he went inside and got back to work. He's cold. Must be salarian special force or something," the woman added.

The sound of distant gunfire filtered into the room. Shepard turned to his companions and nodded his head. Jacob went back with Garrus outside to secure the area and ensure there was no immediate danger while Miranda stayed behind.

Turning back to the refugees, Shepard tried to reason with them. "You can't stay trapped in this apartment. If you get to Mordin's, you might at least survive until the quarantine ends."

"Are you nuts? We'd never make it. The streets are crawling with Blue Suns and vorcha. We don't even have pistols!" the woman said incredulously.

"Besides, I'm not risking my life on a rumor that some salarian might offer me sanctuary," the man added.

"I know you're scared, but your only hope is to get to Mordin's clinic. You were lucky we managed to stop the mercs when we did. But you might not be so lucky next time. I'm going to be under fire from the Blue Suns and the Blood Pack, so I can't take you with me. But I promise you this: I'll do what I can to leave a safe path for you to follow me. It's risky, but I think it's your only chance," Shepard persuaded.

The pair looked at each other for confirmation of a choice or comfort in a life-and-death situation. Finally the man replied. "Okay… you're right. We'll never make it if we stay here. We have to try. We'll wait here for a while and give you time to clear the way. Then we'll head for Mordin's clinic. If we're lucky, maybe we'll meet you there."

Nodding, Shepard left the building. Hearing nothing more of note as well as assurances from Garrus that there was no danger, he disengaged his voice module and brought up his assault rifle.

"Move out."

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Kokomo Plaza

The sounds of gunfire were easily heard as Shepard stepped through the doorway leading into the Kokomo Plaza.

"Sounds like the Blood Pack are hitting the Blue Suns hard," Garrus said.

"They're in our way. We'll need to take care of them," Miranda suggested as they walked slowly down the hallway into the plaza proper.

"Stairs on the right," Shepard said. "Garrus, you and me. Miranda, Jacob: stay on the ground floor. Wait for us to draw them out, then take them from the archway."

"Roger," they both echoed, before moving into position.

Shepard ascended the stairs slowly, assault rifle ready as he and Garrus made it to the top and peered at the scene below.

"Three Blue Suns left and a lot of Blood Pack," Garrus declared as they both did a quick head count.

"Let the vorcha finish them off then we'll take them out. Mordin's clinic is close by. We can't have them attack any of the civilians," Shepard ordered as his eyes danced around the battlefield below. "Flamethrowers and shotguns mainly. They don't stand a chance in long range."

"Watch out Commander," Jacob warned. "I see at least two krogan from down here."

"I don't see them from up here, Shepard," Garrus reported. "Stairs to our right. They could get up to us from there."

One last turian was still standing, defiantly firing at the vorcha threatening to overwhelm him.

"Set a grenade there for them. I'm firing up the Blackstorm. Everyone get ready."

During the three second charge, a varren charged out and bit down on the turian allowing the vorcha to close the distance and exuberantly fire into the last Blue Sun resisting them.

Their yells of victory changed to screams of terror as Shepard fired the miniature black hole into the middle of their positions. Vorcha, varren, and the two krogan were pulled right into the artificial singularity. Those that were sucked in were crushed to a size of a thermal clip, while the others were being torn apart at the accretion disk at the edge of the event. Eventually, the black hole exploded, killing all that were trapped and nearby.

With his sniper rifle resting on the railing, Garrus was poised to take out the others that were undoubtedly coming.

"Here they come…" Garrus said to himself, just before pulling the trigger and killing a vorcha that rounded the corner.

"They're coming from the left!" Shepard called out as collapsed his heavy weapon and brought out his sniper rifle. "Get ready down there. They're coming in hard."

Garrus and Shepard began firing into the enraged Blood Pack mercs as they charged toward the balcony. "Damn, varren incoming," grouched Garrus as he tried to get a shot on the fast four-legged war beast.

He needn't have bothered as a shotgun blast from below quickly killed the varren as Miranda and Jacob entered the fray. "Krogan charging up the stairs!" Miranda called out as she suppressed the reinforcements pouring in from the other end of the room.

Shepard merely glanced at the krogan running up the stairs toward his position before putting his eye back into scope and shot another vorcha wielding a flamethrower. The simultaneous explosions from the grenade on the stairs and the vorcha's flamethrower tanks confirmed the kills of two more Blood Pack as he looked for more targets.

Apparently, only three krogan were coordinating this attack, because the vorcha began to just rush their positions. A blunt attack against four fortified, prepared, and trained soldiers stood no chance and in short order, Shepard called the all clear after using Warp on a prone vorcha.

Swapping weapons, Shepard climbed down the stairs carefully with his assault rifle ready searching for anymore threats. He found none.

"The clinic is close by," Jacob called out.

Shepard turned toward Jacob and saw what caught his attention. A yellow neon sign was easily pointing the way towards Mordin's clinic.

"All clear here, Shepard," Garrus reported as he swapped weapons and followed Shepard down the stairs.

"All clear, Commander," Miranda echoed as she rejoined everyone at the bottom floor. "It seems like we've crossed into Blood Pack territory now," Miranda noted as she stepped around the vorcha corpses.

"The Blue Suns have lost a lot of ground. I wonder how much they can hold out," Garrus commented as he looked around the impromptu battle they ended.

"Come on. The clinic's up ahead," Shepard called out as he followed the signs into the Auxera District, before stopping suddenly. "Damn. IEDs…"

"Whoa, good eye, Commander. I see them. I should be able to disarm them," Jacob said as he knelt down to study the explosives hidden near some garbage.

"Garrus, start looking for more. Mordin was obviously prepared for a more violent reception," Shepard ordered as he glanced down the hall. "And be careful. Looks like this could be awhile…"

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Auxera District, Mordin's Clinic

"Armed guard and mechs ahead," Jacob reported as they entered the last hallway before entering the clinic proper.

Shepard held back a sigh of relief as they finally reached their destination. While the IED's were obviously set for the mercenaries, Shepard had no idea how they would detonate in their presence. They weren't mercs, but they weren't civilians either, which meant it was better to be safe than sorry. After crossing the makeshift minefield, the squad went down some stairs and through another hallway to see a human with no obvious merc affiliations standing guard with two LOKIs.

"Weapons away," Shepard called out loud.

The guard seemed to relax the armed group collapsed their weapons and approached him in a nonthreatening manner.

"Mordin Solus here?" Shepard asked the guard when he walked up to the makeshift security checkpoint/office.

"Yeah. No funny business once you're in the clinic – unless you want to deal with those mechs or the doctor," the guard warned, though he didn't make any threatening movements with his rifle.

Shepard nodded in compliance before moving through the next door and into the waiting room of the clinic. Stepping inside, it looked about what he was expecting. Dirty, cramped, and full of refugees looking to escape the merc war outside. The majority of the people in the room were human, though there was a fair amount of batarians and turians there as well. The non-human species all seemed to be doing fine, clustered in one area of the waiting room and talking animatedly.

"Looks like Mordin came through. At the very least, they don't seem nearly as bad as the others we've seen," Miranda commented as she looked over the area Shepard was observing.

"Glad to hear it, but I'll keep my hardsuit sealed all the same," Garrus said as he looked around the clinic.

Shepard walked over to the counter where two humans, a man and a woman dressed in medical uniforms, were working and managing the waiting room. "I'm looking for Mordin Solus."

"In the back, door on the right," the female receptionist distractedly said. Shepard nodded in thanks before stepping around two more LOKIs and walked down the hallway lined with cots filled with plague victims and causalities of the mercs outside. Some of the patients were even Blue Suns mercs, wounded or sick. Each was watched over by a LOKI mech.

"Professor – we're running low on cipoxidon," a voice said in the room Shepard was approaching.

"Use malanarin. Plenty on hand. Almost as good. Causes cramping in batarians. Supplement with butemerol," another voice rapidly answered.

Shepard entered the examination room as the assistant made a note in his omni-tool. "Malanarin and butemerol. Got it." He left the room to look for the medicines, too busy to spare a glance at Shepard and his team.

"Cenozine is the catalyst. Bonds to genetic markers. Hard to find. Expensive to mass produce. Why not heplacore? Too unstable. Inconsistent results. Demozane better option. No, no, no. Demozane toxic to humans. Not an option. Not an option," Professor Mordin Solus muttered to himself as he typed away at a terminal.

"Professor Mordin Solus?" Shepard asked, getting the salarian's attention.

Moving quickly away from his terminal, Mordin ran his omni-tool over Shepard and his group. "Turian physiology resilient with simple immunobooster. Sealed hardsuit? Should be fine. Still should administer vaccine anyway. Just in case," he announced as he gave Garrus a syringe.

Turning toward Shepard, he continued speaking in his rapid-fire manner, "Now, to greetings, human. Curious. Don't recognize you from area. Too well-armed to be refugees. No mercenary uniform. Quarantine still in effect. Here for something else." He turned back to his terminal to look over some of his work. "Blood Pack? Crew to clean them out? Unlikely. Blood Pack a symptom, not a cause. The plague? Investigating possible use as bio-weapon? No. Too many guns, not enough data equipment. Soldiers, not scientists. Yes, yes, yes."

Wow. Aria wasn't kidding. This guy really likes to hear himself talk…

Mordin continued to voice his train of thoughts out loud. "Hired guns, maybe? Looking for…"

"You, Mordin," Shepard interrupted. Who knows when this guy will stop? "I'm Commander Shepard. This is Garrus Vakarian, Jacob Taylor, and Miranda Lawson," he introduced, gesturing to everyone in turn. "We came here to find you. We're on a critical mission, and we need your help."

"Mission? What mission?" exclaimed Mordin. "No. No, no, no. Too busy." He ducked down behind some boxes, rummaging for something. "Clinic understaffed. Plague spreading too fast." he continued from below. "Who sent you?" he then asked with a curious tone.

"Ever head of an organization called Cerberus?"

Mordin stood up slowly to regard Shepard more carefully. "Crossed paths on occasion. Thought they only worked with humans." He turned his gaze toward Garrus. "Turian involvement surprising. Racial tension with humans. Unlikely to help a human-centric organization."

Garrus crossed his arms as he stated, "The Commander and I aren't exactly Cerberus Professor. The mission we're on though, it reaches far beyond mere human interests. We all have to work together – to take down the Collectors."

Mordin narrowed his eyes. Crossing one of his arms, he started to tap his chin with the other. "Collectors? Interesting. Plague hitting these slums is engineered. Collectors one of few groups with technology to design it. Our goals may be similar." Raising his eyes to regard the armed troupe before him briefly, he turned back to his terminal. "But must stop plague first. Already have a cure. Need to distribute it at environmental control center. Blood Pack guarding it." He glanced at Shepard before he took a breath and finished, "Need to kill them."

Shepard tilted his head back and looked upward. "Just once, I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say, 'Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached'," he sarcastically said. Garrus tried in vain to hold back a snort.

Mordin smiled. Standing up from his terminal with a large vial in hand he said, "Life is a negotiation. We all want. We all give to get what we want."

Suddenly, the loud sounds of the aging ventilation systems began to wind down before stopping completely. The sudden quiet that followed was nothing short of ominous to everyone. Shepard couldn't help but recall a conversation he had with Tali two years ago. It was too quiet on the Normandy SR-1 that she couldn't sleep because mechanical silence on the flotilla meant something was very wrong.

"What the hell is that?" Jacob asked looking up at the vents.

"That wasn't a good noise," Garrus added as he looked around.

Mordin looked at his omni-tool. His eyes widened before he started talking faster than before. "Blood Pack shut down environmental systems. Trying to kill everyone. Need to get power back on before district suffocates."

Pushing the vial into Shepard's hands, he continued, "Here, take plague cure." Before Shepard could glance at the vial, Mordin held up his hands and continued to talk even faster. "One more thing. Daniel. One of my assistants. Went into vorcha territory. Looking for victims." The salarian took a deep breath before looking intently into eyes of Shepard's hood. "Hasn't come back."

Nodding in acceptance, Shepard assured the professor. "If I see him, I'll do what I can to help."

Mordin even sighed in relief quickly before nodding in gratitude. "Thank you. Told him not to go. But he's smart. Bright future. I hope."

Holding the cure reminded Shepard about the plague victim he promised to help. "I found a batarian plague victim near the entrance to the neighborhood, the Gozu District. Can you send someone to help him?"

Tilting his head in thought, Mordin answered, "Risky. Blue Suns, Blood Pack still battling. District not secure. See what I can do."

"I cleared most of the various districts just to get here. Anyone you send should be all right," Shepard reminded.

"True. True. Send someone soon then. Must administer cure quickly," Mordin nodded in agreement.

"How long do we have before the oxygen levels become critical?" Miranda asked as Shepard put the cure in a secure pouch.

Mordin started tapping calculations into his omni-tool. "Hmmm. Depends. Many casualties from plague. Various mercenaries. Population dropped significantly in last few weeks. Must factor in fires. Age of environmental controls…"

"Just give us your best guess doctor," Jacob said in exasperation.

Mordin stopped typing and just shrugged. "A day. Maybe two."

"What can you tell us about this plague?" Shepard asked.

"You didn't seem surprised when Garrus mentioned the Collectors," Miranda pointed out.

"Advanced design. Suspected Collectors before you mentioned them. Purpose seems experimental. Destroys respiratory systems with harmful genetic mutations," Mordin explained while pacing and looking over a holopad with his findings. "Makes sense to avoid humans. Unnecessary to force mutation on human genetic structure for sake of variance."

Furrowing his brow, Shepard tried to figure out what the Collectors hoped to gain or learn with this attack. "Unnecessary mutation? What are you talking about?"

"Possible goal of virus. Testing viable mutation level in various species. Horrific but feasible for Collectors. Humans known to have diverse genetic background. Wider range than other sapient races. Makes sense as control group," the salarian doctor/scientist answered.

Shepard nodded his head in thanks. Turning to his team, he said, "Let's head to the environmental plant."

Moving past his guests, Mordin left to tend to his patients. "Yes. Good. Restore power. Release cure. Will be here when you return."

A human merc working for Mordin led the team out of the clinic's other exit. "To avoid the mines," she had said. Shepard's trained eye had already picked out half a dozen, but given Mordin's STG training, it was likely that he missed many more.

"There aren't many civilians in this sector, mostly Blood Pack. They're in control of this area. Blue Suns long since got pushed out. They were probably after the environmental controls the whole time," she continued to say.

"I heard that there were some sick batarians out here," Shepard said as he recalled Mordin's request to find one of his assistants.

"They've holed up deeper in. We'll deactivate the mines if they approach, but we're worried about attacks now. Blood Pack is planning something, so we can't let our guard down, that's why I'm leading you out. Until we're sure it's reasonably safe, we can't afford to open up properly. Otherwise, we'd already have gotten Daniel back. He's one of the best Mordin has here," the merc responded. "We'd appreciate if you can get him back in one piece."

Stopping at an entrance to another hallway, she turned toward Shepard. "It's safe from here on out. Or at least it's explosive free. From us I mean. Goddamn Blood Pack is another story. Hope you kill the lot of them," she said with a nod before going back to the clinic.

Disengaging his voice module, Shepard called out to his team. "Be on your guard. Blood Pack may have fortified their positions here against the Suns. We're on our own."

Receiving answers in the affirmative, Shepard put his silencer on his HMWP, idly noting Garrus was doing the same to his own Predator. Slowly, the troupe stalked the district, Garrus and Shepard in the lead.

Blood Pack had indeed taken this area of the slums. There were no signs of the Blue Suns anywhere. Thankfully, it seemed that only pockets of mercs were around the area of this residential district. Any mercs they encountered were easily taken care of quickly and quietly by the two infiltrators.

"Everyone must be at the control room," Shepard commented.

"I hear something," Garrus suddenly said. Everyone stopped moving and tensed up, straining their senses to perceive any threats.

"Civilian. Sounds like he's in trouble," Jacob announced after a minute.

"Must be the one Mordin sent us after," Garrus added.

All four of them approached the door to the apartment to hear a man's voice, quivering in fear, pleading and reasoning with his captors. "Please… I'm telling you the truth. I work for Mordin at the clinic. I came here to help you."

"Combat Radar says there are three inside," Shepard called out. "Garrus, you and me enter first. We'll try to talk them down. Miranda, Jacob. Stay at the door. If they try anything, bang and clear the room. Check your fire. We don't want to hit the hostage."

"We know you're spreading the plague virus. We saw the vials in your bag," a batarian voice growled.

Taking flanking positions at the door, Garrus stood ready on the left side of the door and gave a nod to Shepard who readied himself on the other side. Jacob stood behind Garrus while Miranda stood behind Shepard. Everyone equipped their pistols.

"No! Those vials contain the cure. Please… you have to believe me!" Daniel begged.

"Maybe we should cut off your fingers. That should loosen your—" the batarian started to threaten before Shepard and Garrus opened the door and sprung into action.

"Hands in the air!" – "Don't move!"

The batarian on the right reached for his shotgun still collapsed on his back, but Shepard's warning shot placed between his feet stilled his hand. Garrus was forced to place a similar shot on the batarian on the left as he tried to ready his pistol. The leader still held his pistol on Daniel.

"Don't even try," Garrus growled.

"Drop the weapons!" Shepard ordered. "Do it now!"

The other two reached for the weapons slowly. The leader raised his pistol against his hostage's head. "Don't…"

"Shut up," Shepard ordered to the armed man. "You two. Just detach them and let them fall. If they start to open up, we'll take you down," he said keeping his pistol pointed at one while Garrus held up the other.

The batarians on the left and right side of the room glanced at each other nervously before pushing the guns off their harnesses, letting them fall to the floor, still in their compact state. The apparent leader was more desperate however and continued to hold his gun up. "Don't move! One more step and we kill your friend!"

Garrus and Shepard immediately trained their weapons at the only armed batarian. "Pull that trigger we'll put a pair of new holes in your head," Shepard threatened menacingly, his gun unwavering and his stance steady. "Let him go and you'll walk away."

"Oh God…" Daniel prayed as he closed his eyes to the confrontation of his captors and saviors.

"You must think batarians are stupid," the leader said with an edge of fear in his voice as his hands started shaking. "What's to stop you from killing us if we let him go?"

"Nothing," Shepard said bluntly. "Let him go and there's a chance you live. Kill him, I can guarantee you die."

The batarian looked shocked and completely unsure what to do. "I'll… I'll kill him!"

Shepard merely shrugged slightly, his masked face betraying nothing. "Then we start shooting and kill you and your friends. Seems standard on Omega. Think his life worth yours or your two buddies? Either let him go and take a chance or try and shoot him and my friend and I kill you and loot the bodies. Either way, the last thing you get to do is try to kill a guy trying to help you."

Daniel started hyperventilating as the batarian considered his limited options. Eventually, he lowered the gun. "Okay… I'm letting him go."

"Drop the gun and step away from him," Garrus ordered.

The batarian complied. "You got what you want. Are we free to go?"

"We have a deal," Shepard calmly said as he lowered his weapon. Garrus followed suit as Miranda and Jacob entered, keeping their weapons in hand, but down. Jacob subtly put his flashbang away.

The batarian looked shocked at the added numbers. "Human nobility. I didn't know such a thing existed."

"I could say the same of you," Shepard shot back. "Leave the weapons and go. You might want to take some of that cure if you're still interested."

All three glanced at other before one of them shrugged and grabbed a vial before sidestepping past Shepard's group. The other two followed his example.

Garrus and Jacob kept their eyes on the batarians as they left, ensuring that the situation was still under control. Shepard and Miranda approached Mordin's assistant as he tried to calm himself down.

"T-Thank you. I-I thought t-they were going to… to k-kill me," he said as he was looking at the floor and wringing his hands. Taking several deep breaths, he looked back up at his rescuers, slightly calmer. "Did Dr. Solus send you to find me?"

Shepard nodded. "The Professor could use your help right now. He's got way too many patients and not enough volunteers."

Daniel gave a rapid nod in return. "Yeah, okay. I'll go right away. Thanks again. I owe you… well… everything."

"Where's the environmental control plant from here?" Miranda asked before Daniel had a chance to run with his bag.

"Not too far. This is the last residential area before you get to the control plant. Just take the hallway over there," he directed, pointing in the indicated direction. "It'll lead to a lift that will take you right over there. Be careful though. There are a lot of vorcha down that way."

After Daniel said his thanks again, Shepard stepped up toward Jacob. "All clear, Commander," he reported.

"The elevator to the control center is ahead. Expect resistance," Shepard said to everyone. Readying his assault rifle over his pistol, Shepard walked slowly down the hall.

The squad descended to the lower levels of the district via the elevator.

The hostiles they encountered wasn't too difficult. The hallway had opened up to reveal the elevator one floor below. Two sentries were silenced at the end of the hallway by Garrus before he took up a sniper's perch. Several shots killed any vorcha armed with a rocket launcher and all the others were running toward the stairs only to be met by three well prepared humans.

Once the elevator hit the bottom floor, Garrus took point and held his assault rifle ready as everyone followed him down the hall. "Hold it," he said. "Blood Pack ahead."

"How many?" Jacob asked from behind him.

"A lot," Garrus answered grimly.

Jacob pulled up to Garrus to look around. There were at least a dozen vorcha and from their vantage point, he couldn't tell if there were any krogan around. Worse yet, everyone were spread around the room. A glowing yellow sign at the far end of the room denoted the objective: District Environmental Control. "Damn. Room's too big for the Blackstorm. We're going to have to do this the old fashioned way."

"We have no idea how many there are. We might end up fighting an army from here to the controls," Miranda argued.

"I agree. We need to do some recon. Maybe arrange a distraction," Shepard said from the back.

"You sure about this?" Garrus asked turning back to look at Shepard.

"The plague is their best weapon. Once we get the cure in the air, they'll lose their footing. We'll get Omega take care of Omega after that. For now, we need to get these guys out of our way," Shepard responded.

"Got it, Shepard. I'll handle it," volunteered Garrus.

"You're sure?" Shepard parroted back at him.

"You're not the only one who learned a few tricks the last couple of years," Garrus quipped before vanishing as he engaged his own Tactical Cloak. Barely audible footsteps were heard as Garrus left to cause trouble for the Blood Pack mercs. Again. "I'll rejoin you at the environmental plant," he called through the radio.

"Wait for his signal. We'll make for the far stairs and go around the long way to the door," Shepard ordered as he prepared to make his own move. "Weapons ready. Prepare to take out any stragglers that don't leave."

"Think he'll be okay?" Jacob asked has he shifted his stance.

"I imagine so. This is what he was doing before we picked him up. Being a turian, most likely they'll think he's a Sun," Miranda said as she prepared to run.

Shepard remained silent, trusting his old friend to do his job. The radio came to life as Garrus reported in. "Good call Shepard. There's a lot more than we thought. I see four more krogan from here with more vorcha. I'll need a few minutes to set up."

"What are you going to do?" Shepard asked as he peered around the corner.

"Nothing fancy. Just a few grenades and IEDs. Should cause enough of a ruckus for you to slip in. I'll try to lure them to the next area and lock'em out with the shutters. By the time they get out or find a way around, we should be done," Garrus informed.

"Unless something goes very wrong…" Jacob pessimistically said.

"I'm sure we'll be fine, Jacob," Miranda chided.

After a few minutes of tense silence, Garrus called back to the others. "Almost ready. Wait for it…"

Less than another minute later, several explosions echoed across the Blood Pack's fortifications. Confused yells of surprise and outrage crossed the room back to Shepard's position as he waited to make his move. Sounds of gunfire followed the explosions as Garrus began raining bullets on the disoriented mercs.

The last two surviving krogan roared in challenge and called for the vorcha to hunt down the fleeing turian. Screaming various battle cries, the vorcha gave chase, only to run into the IEDs Garrus created. Seizing the opportunity, Garrus fired off more shots directly at the krogan, enraging them further, before running down another hallway to another district. Soon after, the sounds of the firefight left the massive room as most of them left.

"Go!" Shepard shouted and moved through the shadows, keeping his weapon trained on the vorcha that were still alive, but too wounded to give chase. All three humans closed the distance and immediately opened fire on the regenerating vorcha, eventually securing the area temporarily.

As Shepard approached the door, he received an incoming call from EDI. Tapping his omni-tool, he activated the channel. "Go ahead, EDI."

"Shepard, I've scanned the room up ahead of your current position. The central control system is in an alcove in the center of the back wall. You can inject the cure and re-initialize the systems there," she informed.

"That's it?" Jacob asked skeptically. "I was thinking it would be more complicated than that."

"It is, Operative Taylor," confirmed EDI. "After injecting the cure and the systems reactivated, you will need to turn on the fans. I have located the fan controls. There are two, one either side of the room."

"Anything else?" Miranda asked.

"My scans reveal a large number of life forms inside the control room. I assume that they are hostiles. Expect around 20 to 25 enemies within."

"Thanks EDI," Shepard gratefully said. He turned toward the Cerberus operatives. "You heard her. Controls at the back of the room. Check your fire. We didn't come all this way just to shoot everything up. Push forward. When the controls are to our backs, then we can cut loose."

After hearing their affirmatives, he opened the door which led to a short hallway with the control room at the end. Leading the way, he crossed the threshold, where a vorcha at the other end of the room noticed his entry and turned to snarl at the intruders.

"You no come here!" he yelled, spittle flying from his mouth. "We shut down machines, break fans! Everyone choke and die! Then Collectors—"

Shepard interrupted the vorcha's screeching with a short burst from his rifle. Miranda and Jacob followed quickly and opened fire on the four other mercs at the back, taking care not to hit any of the machinery. The other vorcha roared in challenge as they fired back.

"They're coming from both sides!" Miranda declared as she took cover.

"Jacob! Frag the right! I'll hit the left!" Shepard called out as he threw a grenade down the left stairs and scattered the reinforcements. Turning, he saw Miranda pinned down by enemy fire. Turning his rifle, he immediately started to suppress her attackers to give her a chance to break cover and fire back.

Miranda leapt at the chance and used her Warp on a vorcha. The armor was broken through and the unfortunate victim screamed as his ability to regenerate was negated by the biotic attack.

"Night, night!" Miranda taunted as she focused her rifle on the opponents climbing the stairs Shepard had pushed back moments ago.

Shepard ran toward the center console, catching a vorcha with a headshot. "I'm moving up! Watch my back!"

One last vorcha stood in the way, firing blindly from behind a pillar. Summoning on his novice biotic talents, Shepard called his own Warp and curved it around through the empty space and into the hidden merc. The vorcha screamed as the attack struck him and fell from cover. The armor held though and the merc started to shake his head, trying to clear the pain. He immediately got back up only to catch a burst of automatic fire from the Spectre.

"Move up!" Shepard ordered.

Miranda and Jacob complied as they slowly rejoined Shepard at the front, still firing on the horde of vorcha still coming from the sides.

Shepard ducked behind one of the pillars lining the room. "Garrus! Where are you?"

"On my way back and I'm bringing a lot of company!" came the frantic response.

Damn. So much for the Blackstorm… Shepard dejectedly thought. He couldn't fire without the assurance that Garrus could run into the room at the wrong moment. "Jacob, make ready with the missile launcher! Miranda, help me funnel them closer to each other!"

"Got it, Commander!" Jacob said as he collapsed his shotgun and readied his heavy weapon.

Giving a nod to Miranda, Shepard turned and Lifted two vorcha on the left. Miranda followed quickly with Warp, the biotic energies exploding more violently than any grenade and prompting the survivors to take cover closer to the middle.

"Yes!" Miranda cheered.

Seeing some of the mercs grouped together, Jacob hopped from cover to release three rockets right on their position, killing most and scattering the others. The vorcha scrambled to find cover, but fell quickly to the precise shooting of Shepard and Miranda.

"Cover me! I'm injecting the cure!" Shepard said as he raced for the console. The Blood Pack attempted to fire on the exposed human, but rockets and biotics exploding near their cover prompted them to hide again.

Inserting the vial into a slot at the control panel, Shepard began typing furiously, studiously ignoring the bullets raining down around him.

Come on, come on…

Various symbols, words, and lights began appearing around Shepard as he worked as quickly as possible. After a few tense minutes filled with explosions and gunfire, all the systems stated that they were on standby as Shepard finished re-initializing the environmental controls. "Done!"

"Finally!" Jacob said as he fired another salvo. "I'm almost out of ammo here!"

"We need to get to the fan controls now!" Miranda reminded as she launched another Warp at the vorcha.

Many more remained as they tried to use their dwindling numbers to overwhelm the protagonists.

Garrus' voice suddenly chimed into the radio. "Coming through!"

The turian ran right into the room like a madman; unaware or uncaring of the vorcha that were already firing on the three humans. Everyone was caught completely by surprise by his sudden appearance that they simply stared as Garrus ran through their ranks as if they weren't even there. For the Blood Pack, shock changed to outrage as they all raised their weapons to fire on the crazy turian. They never saw the grenades Garrus dropped at their feet when he passed by.

"Few less to worry about!" Garrus crowed as the heat from the explosion washed over him. He continued running down the length of the room firing his rifle blindly in one hand and lobbing the last of his grenades with the other, killing any of the survivors.

The immediate vorcha threat inside the control room was over with Garrus' appearance, but he continued to fire through the doorway regardless. The reason became apparent as several angry krogan and more vorcha burst into the room, looking to get the turian's blood.

"Open fire!" Shepard ordered as he brought out his Blackstorm Projector. "Keep them in one place!"

As Shepard charged his weapon, Jacob gave Garrus an incredulous look through his transparent faceplate. "I thought you were trying to lock them somewhere!"

Garrus dove behind some cover and ejected a thermal clip. "I did! Then I ran into the Blood Pack looking to attack the clinic and got their attention too!" he defended before popping out of cover to fire wildly at the charging Blood Pack. "You won't believe how much I had to run from!"

Their argument was put on hold as Shepard fired off a miniature blackhole. The artificial creation slowly traveled down the room and toward the mercs. They ran from their cover only to be cut down as Shepard's squad fired on anyone trying to run from the singularity. As the gravity well settled in the middle of the Blood Pack's group, Shepard called out to his team, ignoring the frantic screaming. "Jacob, Garrus. You two go to the fan on the right. Miranda, we'll take the fan on the left."

"Got it."

"Roger."

"You bet."

The explosion of the unstable blackhole signaled their charge. "Move it!" he commanded.

Immediately, everyone jumped up and fired on anything that looked to be a threat. Some of the krogan had managed to escape the worst of the Blackstorm's attack and were trying their best to hold their ground. One krogan gave out a loud roar before charging directly at Shepard.

"Krogan charging!" Miranda cried out.

Glowing briefly, Shepard thrust out his arm, his biotic attack slamming into the krogan and sending him across the room where he hit the wall with a sickening crack.

"Firing a concussive shot!" Shepard heard Garrus call out. Two more krogan were blasted out of cover into Jacob's line of sight.

Shepard turned away from them, trusting that they would succeed in their job. With Miranda hot on his heels, Shepard ran down a set of stairs and peeked around the corner only to duck back bullets struck his cover.

"This'll put them down," Miranda said as she moved around Shepard and tossed a grenade. The explosion allow them to jump from cover and push toward the fan control.

"Flamethrower!" Shepard warned as a vorcha ran out of the sub-control room roaring at them.

"I got him," Miranda assured as she aimed for the gas tank.

Her aim true, the vorcha stopped roaring and started screaming as he flailed about, trying to get the tank off. After the subsequent explosion, Miranda charged ahead her Pulse Rifle firing in short bursts at the last of the Blood Pack resistance on their end. Shepard followed closely, keeping his eyes peeled for any last second threats.

"Activate the fan. I'll cover the door," Shepard said to her as they stopped inside the fan control room.

"Understood, Commander," Miranda acknowledged. Setting her rifle down within reach, she began typing the commands into the console.

"Garrus, what's your status?" Shepard called as he held vigil at the doorway. Sounds of gunfire could still be heard.

"We're at the control room. I'm getting the fan back on, but it looks like the Blood Pack really wants me dead. Taylor's holding the door, but we might need some help getting out," Garrus reported.

"We're almost finished here," Miranda said. "Hold on… done."

The massive fans above them slowly turned, the blades gaining speed with each passing second. Within moments, they were emitting a constant, rumbling roar.

"First fan is on," Miranda informed. She rejoined Shepard as they moved quickly to the other team.

"Second fan is coming on…" Garrus trailed off as he continued to work. "Now."

The second set of massive fans joined the first as the stale air was rotated out with fresh atmosphere.

As fresh as it gets on Omega anyway, Shepard distantly thought as he prepared to flank the last of the Blood Pack. After telling Miranda to hold her position at the top of the stairs, Shepard activated his own Tactical Cloak and ghosted toward the mercs, his last grenade primed and ready. After dropping his deadly payload in the middle of their cover, Shepard quickly moved away.

Just once. Just once! I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say, 'Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached'. Hmph. It's never that easy.

Location: Omega Nebula, Sahrabarik, Omega, Auxera District, Mordin's Clinic

The band of heroes stepped tiredly back into the clinic. After a frantic run back through the Blood Pack controlled district, they all looked a little worse for wear. Various burn marks and dents lined their armor when shields failed or were breached.

The three humans had taken off their helmets when they arrived; Garrus opted to keep his armor sealed until they left Omega and was decontaminated.

The people inside the clinic that were healthy or strong enough started clapping and cheering for the small group as they entered. Taking their praise in stride, Shepard headed for the rooms in the back to speak with Mordin. His intentions were sidetracked as he noted the two humans from the apartment were in attendance at the clinic.

"Oh! It's you! Thanks for bringing us here," the man said gratefully.

"You probably saved our lives," the woman added.

Nodding and smiling to both of them, Shepard moved on. Upon entering the examination room Mordin was in, he spotted the sick batarian from the entrance of the Gozu District sitting upright on an examination bed. Mordin was muttering out loud as he poured over his terminal.

"I… I know you," the batarian hesitantly said, squinting all four eyes. "From before. You found me." He offered Shepard a small smile. "You told Mordin about me, didn't you? You… you saved my life."

"The last time I saw you, you were too weak to move," Shepard said.

"Two of Mordin's assistants found me," he explained. "They gave me the vaccine and brought me back here once I was stable." He bowed his head as the memories surfaced. "They were humans, but they risked their lives to find me and bring me to safety."

"Remember this the next time you're about to judge our species then," advised Shepard. Recalling Alenko's words, he added, "We have jerks and saints just like any other species out there."

The batarian nodded. "I was wrong about you, human. I was wrong about a lot of things. I owe you my life. Thank you."

"Glad to see you're okay," Shepard responded before Mordin spoke up.

"Environmental systems engaged. Airborne viral levels dropping. Patients improving. Blood Pack retreating," Mordin listed off as he checked his terminal. He turned away from his terminal and spared a quick glance at Shepard as he walked calmly by. "Well done, Shepard. Thank you," he praised before running his omni-tool over the batarian.

Daniel stepped up to offer his gratitude. "And thank you from me, as well. Those batarians would have killed me." Rubbing his head in relief, he added, "For a second there, I thought you were going to shoot them even after they let me go."

Holding his Recon Hood in his left hand, Shepard crossed his arms and shrugged. "They were sick and scared. There was no point in hurting them."

Mordin turned to regard him. "Merciful of you. Risky. Would have killed them myself," he admitted bluntly.

Daniel looked shocked. Stepping forward and turning to face Mordin, he asked indignantly, "Professor, how can you say that? You're a doctor. You believe in helping people."

Mordin merely shrugged as he calmly responded. "Lots of ways to help people. Sometimes heal patients. Sometimes execute dangerous people. Either way helps."

Daniel looked like he wanted to argue his point more, but Mordin simply placed his hand on Daniel's shoulder and ushered him out the door. "Go check on the patients. Lots of work to do. Think about what I said."

Turning to face Shepard, Mordin smiled. "Good kid. Bit naïve. He'll learn. Letting him take over the clinic. Should be able to handle it now that the Blood Pack are gone."

"We've cured the plague. Are you ready to help stop the Collectors?" Shepard asked.

"Yes. Unexpected to be working with Cerberus. Many surprises." Mordin actually sounded excited about the idea. "Just need to finish up here at the clinic. Won't take long. Meet you at your ship," he said in his rapid manner as he glanced around. Taking a breath, he finished, "Looking forward to it."

Shepard turned his head and nodded to Miranda. Nodding back, she engaged her omni-tool. "I'm transmitting the name and location of our ship," she explained.

Shepard reached out and shook hands with the salarian scientist. "We'll see you there, Professor."

*Encrypted*

Dossier: The Professor Mission Report

Recruited Dr. Mordin Solus for the team.

Examination of Omega plague cure confirms Dr. Solus' expertise.

Can also use work on Omega as leverage against Aria T'Loak if necessary.

Author's Notes:

I'd like to apologize for my absence. Like many others, I have other considerations to look at. School, my personal life, and my own library of games take up a great deal of my time. However, the one thing that caused my delay the most was the bane of author's everywhere: writer's block. My creative juices grounded to a halt, forcing me to only type a sentence every few days. If the chapter was lacking in any way, I am sorry. Most of my best ideas seem to happen at Horizon and beyond.

In combination with Heavy Rain, my time became a precious commodity as I balance school work and home studies with this thoroughly addicting game. Utterly beautiful.

Anyhoo, I finally broke out of my funk with a combination of Heavy Rain, various fanfics, music, and the proper TV shows/movies with a dose of re-reading my various reviews. Speaking of which…

Woohoo! 100 reviews! Yeah! Thanks to all!

*Ahem*

Music: I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin. There's something about this that just really reminds me of Shepard.

I should also note that I made a reference to Band of Brothers in this chapter for anyone savvy enough to spot it.

I changed Kenn's role a bit as many will have noticed. First the original price was 1000, but considering the prices you could buy at his kiosk, after the discount, I'm surprised he was still there. So I raised it a notch. Also, I wanted to slightly tweak some of the engine parts side quest to better fit the story later.

Also, Garrus. He's an infiltrator, hence the sniper rifle and the assault rifle. The game is set that only Shepard has heavy weapons and the advanced techniques of the various classes. Obviously I'm changing that, so Garrus, in his two years of vigilantism, learned a few things. Others will as well. For instance, Samara, who's supposed to be 600 years old and a well trained biotic warrior, will know singularity.

Since my semester started and with a new host of games coming out, (New content for Mass Effect, Splinter Cell, Final Fantasy 13, Resonance of Eternity, Red Steel 2, Alpha Protocol, Dragon Age Awakenings, Command and Conquer 4…), my updates will come at a slower pace. At least a chapter a month, maybe two, depending if I get back into my groove again. Sorry!

Finally, certain reviewers tend to ask me questions about my fic, my opinions/theories, or simply because they want to know a little about where I'm going with this. I love answering as some may already know. However, some people don't actually enable Private Messaging, so I really have no way to contact them. If you really want an answer to any question, just pop on to your control panel and turn it on and I'll be happy to get back to you as best I can. Otherwise, there's nothing I can say or do and I'll simply accept your question as criticism to better my writing.

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