"For the fifth time, Mrs. Stevenson, your plant is not trying to talk to you, you're just reading its energy field. Which is messed up, yes, because you keep watering it too much, which it doesn't need anymore. What it does need is more sun, which it won't get indoors. NEXT!"
Nurse Stacy Watkins detested ER duty. Not because she didn't like talking to people - that was one of the reasons she decided to become a nurse to begin with. Despite being afraid of blood, she wanted to help people like herself overcome their fear of hospitals, and a friendly face could go a long way towards that goal. The real reason was that she really didn't enjoy the uphill battle of convincing the walk-ins that their problem wasn't a medical one, and even if it was, it was of the sort dealt with by the doctors that lay you down on a nice couch and ask you awkward questions, not the ones that can't just open you up to see whether those "blue-skinned harlots" stole your reproductive organs while you were sleeping.
The next one in line was a middle-aged woman with a haunted look and a lopsided haircut. Both made Stacy's inner warning bells go off playing an interpretative music-box version of Marie Renard's last year hit song "Locked Up in My Own Body". Wincing at the unhappy memories she had associated with the song, Stacy stifled the feeling and pulled up a fresh admission form on her datapad, forcing a smile onto her face.
"Hello and welcome to St. Martin's Hospital. How can I help you, Miss--?" she began the standard spiel, instated recently to help combat drug-seekers and other people that would be trying to seek gain through illicit means during the time of post-war confusion.
"Shepard. Commander John Shepard. I seem to have a problem."
"You bosh'tet, I told you to leave me al-- Wait, you're not Fal'Garah."
"No, Creator-Admiral Xen, am not," the geth that dared enter the presence of Admiral Daro'Xen vas Moreh unannounced said, "Availability for verbal communication?"
"Why?" Xen asked sulkily, buryng her face - or, rather, her faceplate - in her hands.
"Beg pardon?" the geth asked. While their acquired individuality and Reaper-boosted intelligence allowed them, among other things, to use verbal communication more effectively than they used to, they still had issues with personal pronouns, sometimes simply opting to drop them to avoid confusion. That is to say, their own confusion, as this sometimes rendered their speech incomprehensible to the non-Geth.
"Why do you bother with verbal communication? Can't you just do it digitally now?" Xen asked wearily, looking up at the geth. It was a lighter model, probably one of the newer ones, created for finer manual labour - and with each revision looking more and more like a slightly deformed Quarian in an envirosuit and less like a human contortionist in a PVC catsuit with bits of metal sticking out of him at odd angles. The coloration was red and black, which meant that this particular unit was a medical-equipped one.
"Assumed it would be less invasive. Less offputting," the geth finally admitted with something like an attempt to shy away from her gaze. If it were human, it would have been averting its gaze from her as if in shame or discomfort.
"Very well. What did you want to talk about?" the Admiral conceded, leaning back in her seat. She was still getting used to her makeshift office on the space station that the Salarians, Quarians and Geth hastily constructed as an interim neutral space for the heads of the fleets to meet while the Citadel's status was still in question. While it was cramped by human standards, it was offensibly lavish by Quarian ones. In the past, Xen, being the scientist that she was, usually slept in her lab for the space that it offered. Here, bizarre as it may have sounded, the room made her feel agoraphobic, having all this space to herself. After all, she usually had to share the lab with her techs. She didn't know what to do with the space.
"Have been chosen to give message from The Consensus," the geth began with what would have probably equated to unease in anyone else, "The Geth are willing to offer technology as offer of goodwill and co-operation."
"What further technology could we possibly need now?" Xen asked wearily. The last few days had been hard on her and her crew - what with the--
"That which was impractical and irrelevant before. Server storage. Chassis control redirection. Mental--"
"--matrix mapping?" Xen finished in chorus, dropping her train of thought like a bomb with a lit fuse. "Of course, after-- all this-- this could mean easy switching of bodies. No more need for envirosuits if you can swap out for a robot chassis. No waste of space for incarceration of criminals. It could mean--"
"--Resurrection," the geth finished with what sounded suspiciously like reverence.
"So, Doctor, anything conclusive?"
Admiral Hackett was not in the best of moods. The only palpable improvement of the weird techno-organic synthesis the activation of the Crucible has brought them was that he no longer needed to shave because he had a marginally functional control over his hair growth speed now, restricted only by his willingness to focus on it badly enough. His chin itched from his experimentation on the subject this morning, and it didn't help his mood any.
"Not in a way that would satisfy you, Admiral," Dr. Karin Chakwas replied.
"Can you run that list by me again?"
"Of course. The husks and related creatures have been restored to a semblance of their old selves. For those of them incorporating more than one head, like the Cannibals, or those with someone else's, like the Brutes, it has been crippling, most of them have committed suicide, and those that did not are catatonic. Human husks and Marauders are mostly lucid, capable of communication - some more than others - and rational thought. We are at a loss as to what to do with them at the moment."
"Alright. What about biological processes? Any input from our... new friends?" Hackett asked, practically spitting out the last words.
"Harbinger has not been very forthcoming on the subject. As I understand, the Reapers have their own ha--" the doctor paused, cleared her throat, then continued on, "Erm-- their tentacles full, because for the same reason their husks have regained their mental faculties, so, it seems, have the races that went into the creation of the Reapers, " Each of them is now something similar to the Geth Consensus - except there is no consensus, because they have been brain-dead for aeons. Two Reapers have already committed suicide by sun, which is what caused those beautiful magnetic anomalies yesterday."
"The techs tell me the amount of element zero the Reaper cores contain is astounding," Hackett remarked, almost as an aside. "So, what have you managed to figure out so far?"
"We can still eat, drink, excrete and perform all other usual things as normal, though we don't need most of them anymore to function fully," the doctor began, checking against notes on her datapad, "We also don't need to breathe, being out in the sun helps a lot, electrocution now has significantly altered effects on our biology and the changes to the blood we can't even begin to list," she went on, pausing to sigh before continuing, "Earthside hospitals are swarming with people rushing in to get medical attention over symptoms they have never exhibited before, most of which look like human health problems moved into the digital realm. The common cold did not become any less harmful, I'm afraid. Then there's the matter of--"
"Admiral!" a tech interrupted, running up to them, waving a datapad as if it contained all the secrets of the Universe on it, "A call just came in from a hospital in London. Some woman used N7 and SPECTRE access codes to get a message for you," the tech paused, as if trying to figure out a way to deliver the message without being the proverbial messenger that gets the blame.
"Well? What is it?" the Admiral asked impatiently.
"It's rather mundane, sir - Get me out of here - but the sender... Sir, she claims to be Commander John Shepard."
General Protection Fault - Prologue
Blog entry posted by Noelemahc, Jul 17, 2012.
About the Author
A Russian Econ major with a minor in graphomania. Used to write for a Russian gaming magazine a while back, apparently wasn't very good or they wouldn't've cancelled his column to replace it with one devoted to listing erotic fanservice moments in videogames and anime series. Has a penchant for long-winded distracted rants and a bizarre affection for very old videogames.