Here some of our favorite AI get to meet each other! I am so, so sorry that it took so long to update, life happened and I've been really into some other fandoms lately. Wow, 2020 sucked, amirite?

I'm being a bit loose with Mass Effect's timeline, but I can tell you that human ships were disappearing by the time the Normandy went down over Alcherra, so I'm not pulling this completely from nowhere.

"Welcome to the Normandy SR-2! I am your AI, EDI!" the little holographic ball right inside the main doors of the Normandy chirped. Jane turned to stare at Jacob, who had been assigned to giving her a tour of the ship.


He sighed. "How did our boss describe her to you? 'Quirky'?"

"That's not what I was talking about. What does it mean, 'A.I.'?"

"What you think. She's... intelligent." At Jane's expression, Jacob shook his head. "We have her shackled, don't worry, but it seems the scientists working on your ship went a little... overboard."

"This does-she-does not seem like the work of a few months," Jane said. She found herself distracted by the ship, and decided once Jacob had left that she would let Nox scan the place to its metaphorical heart's content.

"The Illusive Man has wanted you on board since you first started to gain notoriety," Jacob said. "I guess he thought he could bribe you with new toys."

He wasn't wrong, Jane thought. Not entirely.

A man in a Cerberus uniform saluted as they walked by.

"We're going to need to spend some time getting a crew together," Jacob continued. "We thought we would have more time, assuming Project Lazarus would ever work at all."

They walked the rest of the way to the main bridge in silence, Jane too overwhelmed to do much more than feel awe and desperately wish Liara was with her. The asari had boarded earlier and was sending Jane the occasional update, but it wasn't the same.

This Normandy was like a blown up version of her old ship. She was evidently still under construction to some degree, but as with the AI, it seemed that Cerberus had been constructing her since before her predecessor's destruction. The galaxy map, at least, was familiar, and Jane could not help the rush of pained nostalgia as she gripped the railing.

"This has more information that I am used to," she said, lamely. Flicking her gaze back and forth, she took in the various doors leading out from the central space, trying to memorize as much of the layout as possible.

EDI's orb appeared above the leftmost terminal of the galaxy map's platform.

"You have stalled," she said. "There is still the bridge to visit."

"Is there anyone there?" Jane asked. She had not yet asked who would be the pilot, and refused to let herself hope.

The blue orb fell silent, dissipating into first a projected particle effect and then nothing at all. Apparently EDI did not have to answer questions if she didn't feel like it.

Jane looked over to Jacob. He seemed surprised, but not concerned. "I guess they haven't shackled her completely," he said. "Makes sense, given the sped up timeline your arrival has caused. I wouldn't worry."

"I am not exactly the sort to go rogue," EDI chirped.

I want to talk to her, Nox said in Jane's head. I haven't had any synthetic life forms to talk to since I arrived here!

It was more excited than it had been since hey had left Alcherra.

Arriving at the cockpit, Jane felt her breath stick in her throat. "Joker?" she managed, sheer delight clear in her voice.

She knew him more than well enough to recognize him from behind. He spun his chair, smiling tiredly.

"I still haven't forgiven you for throwing me out of the ship," he said. "But I have to admit, Cerberus knows their shit. I mean, look, leather seats!"

"Hopefully he'll keep me out of the way of giant lasers," EDI quipped.

"Yeah, I haven't figured out how to turn that off. Can't say the voice isn't pretty, though."

EDI laughed, her voice breaking in the middle with a probably-deliberate crackle. "You can't turn me off, Moreau! You'd sooner turn off the whole vessel."

Joker rolled his eyes. "I don't need help flying this thing!"

"You do need sleep," Jane said.

Don't tell him about me, Nox chirped at her. He will haaaaate me.

"I don't need that much sleep," Joker grumped. "The flight assist on the old ship was so much-" He cut himself off and grimaced. "I shouldn't think about her so much," he said. "But it's not been-" He forced himself to grin. "I hear you have Liara with you?"

"Yeah," Jane said. "I do."

"Good," Joker said. "Then maybe we can get everyone else, too." He turned his chair back around. "It's good to see you, Commander," he said. "I need to get back to making sure everything's in shape."

"I have already run the diagnostics," EDI said. She sounded almost... fond.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Still like checking myself."

Shaking her head, she left him to his double-checking.

The last area EDI guided Jane to was her cabin, which was absurdly spacious compared to her quarters on the old Normandy. The bed even looked comfortable, and she made a mental note to buy fish later, enjoying the mundanity of the thought.

"I have something to show you," Jane said, after some hesitation.

"You are addressing me?" EDI asked, apparently surprised.

"Yes," she said, and opened her hand.

Nox flared to life, its interlocking triangles reminding Jane of breathing lungs.

"Hello," it said. "You're a synthetic life form!" It flew over and into the terminal in Jane's room. "I haven't encountered anything as complex as you since I arrived here!"

Jane smiled at its enthusiasm. She felt a little bad for it, having to spend so much time hiding, but it would be more than fair to assume that most of her crew would share Joker's opinions, if not worse ones. She didn't know how vulnerable it was, and she didn't want to test it.

"Oh, hello!" EDI sounded delighted. "I've never encountered anything like you before."

"I'm from somewhere else," Nox said. "Where people are so much less weird about AI. Do you mind if I take a look at you?"

"Don't you think you're being a little forward?" EDI asked, and Jane laughed.

Nox reappeared with an awkward beep. "Oh! I didn't mean to be rude, it's just-you're the whole ship, right? We don't have many more of those left, where I'm from."

"Where are you from?" EDI asked.

"Another dimension, I think?" Nox said. "The aliens here are a lot nicer." It turned to 'look' at Jane. "Actually, it seems like mostly humans have been trying to kill you."

"That's... not new," Jane conceded. "It saved my life."

"Yeah," Nox said, suddenly serious. "She was... really messed up when I found her."

"That's not the only thing," Jane said. "I-"

"If you are about to tell me an even greater secret, don't," EDI interrupted. All the good humor had drained from her voice, and she sounded deadly serious. "It will be difficult enough keeping this from the Illusive Man, I do not need any more load."

The best way Jane could think to describe the sound Nox made was abject horror.

"We need to fix that," it said. At some signal from EDI, it adjusted, and added, "Soon." It looked over to Jane. "Do you know when we'll be underway?" it asked.

Jane nodded. "As soon as possible."

"Okay," Nox said. "Okay." It calmed down, slightly. "We... need to talk. Later." It disappeared back into... Jane's body, more or less, she thought. She would have to ask it about that more explicitly.

The Illusive Man had not bothered to meet with Jane a second time, instead sending her instructions to go investigate a planet one solar system over where a human ship had gone missing. It was time to begin the SR-2's first voyage, and to get used to her new (and old) crew before they went picking up possible collaborators like so many lost children.

"I can't believe anyone would do that!" Nox said, abruptly. Jane was standing in front of the galaxy map, tracking the ship's progress. The counselor, Kelly Chambers was busy at her station. Jane would have to talk to her more, later, she was sure, but for now she was keeping to herself. Liara, meanwhile, was down in engineering.

As usual, Jane felt that she had woken up too soon for the organization's liking. There was a certain lack of readiness to everything.

"Much less humans. That's something the Cabal would pull!"

Jane remembered the Cabal. Nox had shown her a few images. "Those are the space rhinos?" She was as quiet as she could be, especially without her helmet on.

"Yes," Nox said. "I can't believe this."

"It's the way of things," Jane said. "An AI as smart as her is technically illegal. If this were the military, she would be destroyed."

Nox went very quiet inside her head. "Oh," it said, finally. "Would you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Kill her."

"No," Jane said. "I don't think so."

She could feel Nox relax, though she wasn't entirely sure how. It was very expressive, even when she couldn't see it.

Chambers's console chirped, and she said, "Miranda needs to speak to you, Commander."

Jane thanked her, wondering why Miranda hadn't just sent her a message, and headed towards the Cerberus operative's office.

She was glad that her crew, even if most of them were strangers, seemed competent to hold the ship together while she was away from her post.

The first thing Jane noticed about Miranda's office was that it was more than half living quarters, with no door separating the two halves.

"You wished to speak with me?" Jane asked. She had slight reason to trust Miranda-she had not yet told The Illusive Man about Nox, to the best of Jane's knowledge-but that did not make her anything other than what she was.

"You need to know what you're working with," Miranda said.

Jane tilted her head slightly to one side, curious about what she could possibly mean. "I can't imagine you're an android."

Miranda huffed out a small laugh. "Not quite, no, though I'm sure he would have gone that route if he thought it were possible. I am... about as genetically engineered as any human can get. I'm perfect."

Jane blinked at her. "Okay?" she asked. "I assume your parents were both rich and extreme?"

Miranda seemed startled by that response. "My father is... extremely wealthy, yes. He wanted someone to be his heir, and didn't trust something so random as natural reproduction to give him what he wanted."

"I'm sorry."

Miranda covered a momentarily strained expression with a shrug. "If nothing else, it means I am an extremely powerful biotic."

Jane nodded. "Good to know," she said. She didn't say that she had the sneaking suspicion that she herself was the strongest person on the ship now, thanks to Nox's help.

"I expected you to be angry," Miranda said. "Most people are."

Jane felt her shoulders droop momentarily. "I know what it means to have a universe's expectations on me," she said. "It's hard." She smiled faintly. "It's good you didn't put up a fuss about Liara."

Miranda matched her with a thin smile of her own. "We are not all human supremacists," she said.

Jane shrugged. "I'll believe it when I see it. Thank you for the ship, and for your help, but..."

"He takes us from nothing," Miranda said. Jane didn't have to ask to know she was talking about the Illusive Man. "He makes us something."

"I know. I need to know if that's something good, before I pledge my loyalty."

Miranda nodded. "I understand," she said.

"Commander!" EDI's voice sounded from a nearby speaker. "We are arriving soon."

"Understood." Jane turned back to Miranda. "Thank you for telling me."

Miranda leaned her chin on the top of her hand, her expression now unreadable. "I look forward to seeing how you use it against me," she said.

"I won't," Jane answered. The doors hissed and locked behind her.

The SR-2 settled into comfortable orbit, her strange engines noticeable only in the sudden diminishment of their ever-present background hum.

"Remember the Mako?" Jane asked Liara. She had asked the asari to join her on her first expedition from the new Normandy, even if it was just checking to see if there was a derelict in orbit where disappearances and distress signals said there should be.

Jane had seen the Hammerhead. It seemed... fine. Not the same.

"You mean that brick I never let you drive because you loved flinging it off cliffs?" Liara answered with her own question. She'd already pulled on her helmet, but the amusement was clear in her voice.

"Cerberus projects tend to be more user-friendly than their Alliance equivalents," Jacob said. "I do not miss military vehicles at all."

Miranda was staying behind on the ship, in case they all blew up. That wasn't the official reason, but it was the thought that radiated off her in nearly palpable waves.

"At least you could be sure it'd never break," Jane said. She had no illusions about that particular moveable brick, but it had never let her down. She smiled to herself, imagining it still functioning on Alchera, even with the rest of the Normandy in pieces.

"I just wish we had smaller scale instantaneous travel," Liara said. It was funny to have her complaining, the one wearing the least amount of bulky space-suit, but at least it would only be a short trip in the unnamed ship-to-ship craft. That's why they were all waxing nostalgic for a ground vehicle; the automated shuttles had less personality.

Jacob shook his head. "That's an existential nightmare I don't want to think about," he said.

"As opposed to all the ones you do have to think about," Jane said. "Like the Reapers." Despite her mistrust of Cerberus, the fact that they all, to an individual, believed her about the Reapers, gave her an immense, bone deep sense of relief.

She and Liara shared a look over Jacob's head, Liara's face visible through her asari mask. Immortality was a problem Jacob would never have to deal with, and it wasn't one Jane was going to tell him about.

"Door opening!" the shuttle VI chirped.

As they stepped through, the door locked behind them, now only openable to their personal omnitool signatures.

"I can transmat you, if you want," Nox mused internally. "Only you and your gear, though, and only short distances. The total lack of grids makes things... trickier."

Jane nodded. That might be useful, as long as she stayed out of sight when doing it. A benefit of a helmet was that she could be selective about when her mic was on, so she could actually talk to Nox. "Is it like bringing me back, but without me dying?"

"A little, I guess," it said.

There were no bodies that Jane could see, at least not at first. Eventually, they passed by the living quarters, and they saw what could have been sleepers, huddled in their bunks.

"They're all dead," Liara said, looking at something on her tablet. "No life signs. I think they starved to death." She looked upset. "They all just... crawled into bed and let themselves go."

Jane felt very cold for a moment. "Why?" She forced herself to look away from the shapes. "Why not send out some kind of distress call?"

"This was a research station," Jacob said. He sounded as though he were having trouble controlling his voice. "Supplied by ships from various colonies. If the food stopped coming..." He clenched his fists tightly. "This planet didn't have a colony on it, but you'd think someone would care-"

They made it to the bridge in a grim silence. There was still more than enough power to run everything, and an image of what she assumed was the commander appeared. Unlike most last messages, the woman pictured was very calm, and seemed mostly sad.

"No shuttles," she said. "No escape pods. No food that will last forever. The people who were meant to supply us have disappeared. There's nothing left. To the person reading this... something's coming. It's picking off ships, first, little vessels that no one will notice, but I am certain it will be coming for colonies next." She exhaled, her voice fizzling into static. "At least we will leave corpses behind. Maybe that will be proof enough for somebody. Who knows if you'll figure out where the disappearances will happen before no one's left to be frightened."

The recording cut out, leaving the three of them alone in the half-light of the bridge.

"That's them," Jacob said, hollowly. "There's something taking humans."

"But why," Jane said. "We're not... we're not so unique in the grand scheme of things, no matter what we'd like to believe about ourselves."

"I don't know," Jacob said.

Both humans turned to Liara. "Has anything like this happened before?"

"Not in my lifetime," she said.

She was staring at the place where the commander's recording had been. "What do we do with all the bodies?" she finally asked.

"We find out who these people were," Jane said, firmly. "And we bring them back to their families."

Her two companions nodded, and Nox seemed pleased with that decision as well.

"We should explore the rest of the ship," Jacob said.

Jane nodded absently. "I know," she said. "Both of you, start looking, I'm going to take a moment on the bridge." She wanted Nox to take a look at the ship's computer, and hadn't figured out how to do that without revealing herself to Jacob. He wasn't a fanatic, but that didn't mean he'd keep secrets from his employers either. She'd taken a risk with Miranda, even with Liara. She had to be careful.

"Right," he said. He glanced at Liara. "You with me?"

She nodded, clearly hiding her surprise at how easily he was willing to work with her. "Where to?"

"Back to the sleeping quarters. We need..." He sighed. "We need to find out their names. Who they were. Give them to... someone. So their families can finally have closure. Assuming their families haven't all disappeared."

Liara nodded. "I understand," she said. "How could a ship like this be overlooked?"

"We're outside of Council space. Anything's possible, and nobody cares." He didn't sound bitter, just resigned. "Come on," he said. "Let's leave the commander to commune with the nav, or whatever you're planning."

"You don't have to make it sound dirty, Jacob," Jane said, hoping to lighten the mood at least a little. It worked. Jacob chuckled, and more importantly, Liara cracked a smile, flooding Jane with warmth.

The doors hissed closed behind them, leaving Jane and Nox alone. "That is not what interfacing means," Nox protested, its mechanical voice full of outrage.

"No, that's what you want to do with EDI," Jane said.

Nox made another noise of protest, but settled down. "There's a lot to look through," it said. Another chirp. "The captain's right, the ships stopped coming. There's a message... oh. Oh no."


"And no one noticed this? What is wrong with this universe?" Nox's lights flickered more intensely, pulling up more files.

"Nox!" Jane said. "I can't read your mind, what are you seeing?"

Nox dimmed. "A ship was blown up mid message. Another ship appeared with no one on board. Humans have been disappearing, and it looks like it's going to escalate. Why does no one care?"

"There are too many humans. I don't think anyone noticed."

Nox was silent. "I don't like that."

"We care," Jane said. "You can help me stop this."

Am I the only one shipping Nox and EDI just a lil? No? Just me? Well I think it could be cute! Alien robot meets alien robot, they, I dunno, think at each other real hard.