CHAPTER 27

On the way back to the Citadel Ann had explained as much as they'd been able to learn from the dig site. That Leviathan had been worshiped like a deity, which was the complete opposite of the reapers creating mindless husks and their other mutations they made from the various races.

It also explained Hadley and the people at T-GES Mineral Works' it made them compliant not slaves.

They had hit a brick wall in their search until EDI suggested they try activating the artifact on the Citadel. Like the Reapers had been attempting to do. Ann went one better and pointed out that she was already partially indoctrinated to Leviathan anyway so why not let it take control of her.

Alex absolutely hated the idea of using the woman who's father she hadn't been able to save. But she had no other options. She had even asked Karin if her Cerberus nanites would protect her from Leviathan's effects but Ash had put her foot down at that idea. Ash had pointed out that Alex was the one person that could NOT be compromised. Especially on the chance that her nanites MIGHT protect her.

"It's Ann's idea," said Ash resting their foreheads together, "She needs to do this for her father and for herself."

"I know," sighed Alex closing her eyes, "I just hate it when good people have to put themselves on the line."

"That's why they are good people," countered Ash softly.

Alex kissed her cheek then started on her usual walk around. Her first stop was the mess to check on their guests to find them and a good number of off duty crew listening to Garrus telling them about chasing Saren. Normally she would have stopped too but she was tired from both the mission and having to put an innocent person in the firing line.

EDI met her by the elevator, "May I please speak with you?"

It was such a long time since the AI had been that formal. Alex nodded and went to the main gun battery which would be empty while Garrus was entertaining everybody. EDI followed.

"What's wrong?"

"I have been going over the technical plans for the Crucible," replied EDI, "I have also been exchanging information with Legion."

"Okay….and?"

"I wanted a….second opinion."

Alex was getting a very bad feeling, "About what?"

"We agree that the most likely scenario, considering Javik's views on AI that the Prothean super weapon would be designed to eliminate all synthetic life which would cripple the reapers if not outright kill them."

"What!" Alex had half an idea that anything with Reaper tech in it would be destroyed, her only hope for herself and EDI was that Cerberus had backwards engineered the tech. The only real bit of Reaper tech on the Normandy was the IFF which could be disabled and removed. How it would affect the Geth had never entered her head.

The Spectre ran her hands through her hair in frustration.

"Alex." EDI used a tone of voice she had never heard before, it was a mix of fear and determination. "I am willing to risk non-functionality if my crew...my friends are safe. Legion concurs."

The only way Alex could answer that statement was to hug the AI. "EDI, I am so proud to be your friend."

"You are also my Captain."

"But you and Legion had better keep talking and figure out some sort of back up plan to save yourselves. The Normandy can be rebuilt so can the Geth platforms. Find a way to save what makes you...YOU. That's an order."

"I will."

"Rope Cass, Gabby and whoever else you need."

EDI nodded then left.

Alex needed to hit something and headed down to the cargo hold.

Cassidy was down there re calibrating all the ground teams helmet cams. She instantly knew something was wrong with the Spectre, she had often seen this kind of mood when they were in the Armadillos when they couldn't save everybody. She had heard about Ann's idea and she doubted that alone could be responsible.

Alex stopped dead when she noticed she wasn't alone.

"Want to spar?" asked Cassidy, "Full contact?"

"Last time we did that Ash was ready to kill us both, I guarantee Abby will feel the same way." Alex did appreciate the thought.

"I guess two furious Williams sisters would be a force to be reckoned with," agreed Cassidy.

"Very true. Hold the bag?" asked Alex, "EDI, full bio dampers in here and no one comes down until further notice."

Cassidy stripped off her shirt and then braced the punching bag with her body. With Alex's first swing she realised had totally underestimated her friend's mood.

Alex hit the bag until her knuckles were bleeding and she was soaked with sweat, she stopped and looked at her exhausted friend.

"Feel better now?" asked Cass still panting.

"Not really." admitted Alex using a towel to wipe the blood off her hands, "Bring Abby, Liara, Tali and Garrus up to my cabin. Shower first."

Cassidy grabbed another towel and cleaned the punching bag.

"Thanks." Alex hugged her friend while they waited for the elevator.

"Anytime."

An hour later everyone was in the Spectre's cabin and Alex told them what EDI had told her about the Crucible.

Cass suddenly understood the mood Alex had been in.

"I will see if there are any technical documents about AI in the Shadow Broker's files," offered Liara, instantly, "Falere can keep an eye on the ordinary data feeds."

"How's she doing?" asked Ash, they hadn't had much time to talk to their newest crew member.

"Really well," replied Liara with a smile, "If nothing else the Monastery provided an excellent education."

"Blue I have a favor to ask," said Alex glancing at Cassidy and Tali.

"Name it."

"The beacon on Eden Prime put a lot of techno stuff in my head but I don't know what half of it is. Could you link me and Cass together, you might know what it is and then you can tell Tali."

Both the engineer and the Quarian nodded.

"I can," said Liara, she had asked Shiala how to do it when it had help her human friends on the original Normandy.

"Okay. No time like the present," said Alex as most of her friends filed out leaving the two Spectre's, the asari, Cassidy and Abby.

The meld didn't last long, it was the first time Cassidy had ever melded with another human, she did have experience with asari from before she fell in love with Abby.

Although Alex tried to direct the beacon vision she couldn't stop Cassidy from seeing huge chunks of the Protheans being slaughtered by the Reapers. Cassidy was as white as a sheet as Liara ended the meld.

"I'm sorry," apologized Alex.

"I didn't think I'd ever see anything worse than people being liquefied by the Collectors, but that was worse."

"Yeah," Alex had seen some of her friends most painful memories while they were linked.

"But I did get the info," added Cassidy, "I'm sure it'll help once I figure out what it is."

"Talk to EDI when you do."

Abby took her wife to lie down for awhile, leaving the two Spectre's alone.

"She'll be okay," said Ash.

"I know."

MEMEMEMEME

By the time they reached the Citadel Alex had come to terms with Ann's idea, she still hated it but if it was the only way to find Leviathan.

They had no choice. If it cost Ann her life Alex was going to make sure her name went down in history.

They were also going to spend some time with their family, Ruth had sent a message telling them she had reached a decision.

Vega came with them wanting to see the Lock Ness Monster skeleton but bot Spectre's thought he was tagging along because he liked Ann. Not that the Plesiosaur skeleton wasn't cool. EDI was coming to track the signal to Leviathan.

Bailey had shielded the artifact and let a guard at the crime scene.

Alex was pleasantly surprised to find Cayla's sister was the C-Sec guard. She greeted her warmly. The asari was pleased to meet Ash in person. "Any word on Cayla?"

"She's with an STG team tracking down some Prothean Obelisk in the Shrike Abyssal." answered Kashya.

"Really?" Alex knew that Liara had sent some of her Shadow Broker teams on similar errands, "If you talk to her tell her to stay safe."

"I know she would say the same."

Alex nodded and went in to find Ash with Ann, Vega was far enough away to keep an eye on her but not to intrude.

EDI was standing by Bryson's galaxy search map she was holding she also had the shield control code as they figured she couldn't be controlled.

Ann stared at the spot on the floor where her father had died, "I am ready, Commander."

James stood behind her when EDI dropped the shield. It didn't take long for Leviathan to take control of Ann.

It wasn't interested in anything Alex had to say though it called their war against the Reapers a Harvest. As soon as Ann's nose began to bleed Alex ordered the shield back up. Ash called the asari in and asked her to call for a medi-vac.

"EDI?"

"I traced the signal to Sigurd's Cradle. Once there we will need to search."

Two med-techs whisked Ann away a few minutes later. She was studying the galaxy map when she heard James yelp.

"What are you doing over there?" Alex went to see what trouble he was getting into. She discovered he had been bitten by a husk head.

"Hey EDI, husk bites don't actually turn you into a husk right?"

"No," replied EDI, sounding amused, "I suggest you apply medi-gel."

Alex chuckled with a shake of her head, "Why didn't I see that thing last time we were here?"

"It was covered with a cloth," said James. "So Lola what happens if no one claims this thing?"

"Why?"

"I want to show Cortez. Can I borrow it?"

"Borrow as in bring back afterwards or borrow and forget you have it?" asked Alex, there was no shortage of husks. It would be replaceable.

"Whichever helps you sleep at night." James grinned.

"Fine."

"YES!"

"EDI, James will escort you back to the ship," said Alex linking fingers with her wife, they left as Vega was trying to find something to carry his prize in.

"It certainly is a novelty," admitted Ash.

Alex called Bailey and told him to keep the artifact shielded and guarded. "Now we have a date with our family."

The two little girls ran to the Spectre's to be picked up and cuddled. On the way to the sofa they swapped children then sat them down in the middle.

"Have you been having fun?" asked Ash as her mom made them coffee. Sarah was out talking a walk.

"We watch ed all the Blasto's," said Geena snuggling against Alex.

"And picnics," added Yanis, shyly. "Aunt Sarah tells funny stories about when yous were little."

"They are helping to keep her distracted," said Ruth putting the drinks down on the coffee table.

"She likes cuddles when she's sad," stated Geena. The two Spectre's glanced at each other, the tiny batarian was really observant.

"Everybody loves cuddles," said Alex with a smile, "Especially little girls." she added as she began tickling them until they were both breathless from laughing.

"Bath time," said Ruth.

Geena jumped up and pulled Yanis to the bathroom, she paused in the doorway, "Come on!"

Laughing they followed and helped their daughters have a bath then got them ready for bed. By then Sarah had returned with Abby and Cassidy in tow and offered to read to them knowing her sisters couldn't stay long.

"Ruth?"

"I've looked over both options and I don't think a refugee center, no matter how well run is the best place for children. If it was just me and Sarah then Sanctuary would be fine, but kids need space so I called your friend Riley and she's making all the arrangements. She says it'll take about a week. This will be the last time you see them until the Reapers are defeated."

"At least you'll be safe," said Alex quietly, squeezing her wife's hand. She hated that they couldn't stay any longer but they had a Reaper killer to find. After a lot of hugs and some tears Alex led the way back to their ship, tightly gripping Ash's hand. They both knew the only way to reunite their family was to finish the Crucible and kill all the Reapers.

Finding Leviathan was a crucial step to doing just that.

And Ash was right Alex would do anything to keep her family safe. The senior Spectre squared her shoulders, she was going to make sure their children had a future.

TBC….

A/N. Thanks for reading. I'm all caught up with the ones I wrote in hospital. I even broke it up into an extra chapter. Hope you enjoy. I decided I couldn't put Alex and Ash's family in Sanctuary. And the people who did comment on the choices didn't want them there either. Next will be Leviathan. Have fun. T- Rex :)