A comfortable silence settled between them in the gloom of the shuttle. Shepard's gaze fell on their pilot, she watched the slow rise and fall of his chest several times before it dawned on her that Mordin's trademark coat was carefully wrapped around him.
"Hey Mordin, aren't you cold without your coat?"
"Hmm, oh, my armor has climate control just like yours. Jacket is merely comfortable, and useful. Least I could do for him."
"Oh, I always thought your coat was your armor."
"Misconception useful for me. Opponents think they have an advantage when they see me not wearing it, fatal error for them."
Jane chuckled, "Yeah I remember hearing about the Blue Suns who tried to squeeze you for protection money. I assume they didn't try that a second time."
Mordin grinned, "Correct, apparently smarter than they appeared to be."
"Ok, I have to ask. You said you once used farm equipment to kill. What sort of situation does that happen in?"
"The kind where you use a tractor to push over a shed harboring vorcha. Nasty things. May I ask a question now?"
"Sure, might as well. Passes the time."
"Agreed. Akuze, how did you survive?"
"Thresher maws," Jane said with a shiver, "god how I hate them. How did I survive? Would you believe a fondness of old Earth horror vids?"
Jane laughed at his confusion. "My brother and I loved watching horror vids. We came across this one called Tremors and it featured these huge creatures that could like swim underground, much like the maws do. They pop out of the dirt but can't tunnel through hard rock so if you got to bedrock you were safe."
"Wait! Humans had seen maws before intergalactic travel? Possible to use this movie as training vid?"
"No, nothing like that. Just some eerie similarities. Although the creatures in the vid had these tentacle like things to grab with instead of poison. But anyway, I used that tactic, I ran for a nearby group of boulders. My fellow soldiers panicked and were killed by the maws. I yelled at them to follow me, but none did," her voice had gotten softer as she had talked.
"Sorry Shepard, did not mean to upset you."
"It's okay, I wasn't the commanding officer so they followed him instead. Me, I kept moving using any large rock outcropping as a safe spot. Of course, I had to watch out for their poison as well. During my hunt with Saren I ran into more of the wretched things and we found we could stop the Mako and even make repairs on it if we were on bedrock."
"Yes, well known fact now. Fascinating that humans imagined such a thing. How did they kill them in your vid? Heavy artillery?"
Jane laughed a bit, "No, it was a small town in a remote area, they tried shooting them with limited success. Mostly it was them using the terrain to their advantage."
"Interesting, must watch this for myself."
"Mordin, I doubt you will find much of value from it. It's a cheesy vid, highly amusing when you are a teenager though."
"Will assess it for my self when we return to the Normandy. Must look further into this area, perhaps other things of use to be found."
Jane grinned at the thought of the serious Mordin watching old Earth vids for research. Datapad gripped tight in his hand, taking notes furiously, analyzing every last bit of the cheesiest of old horror vids.
"Well if you are that dead set on putting yourself through that, the least that I can do is give you a list of those that I watched to start with. But I take no responsibility for anything you see."
"Excellent Shepard! Look forward to examining them. Perhaps research other races horror vids for similar correlations, fascinating. Can't wait."
"We still have to get through the Omega-4 relay and back again."
"Yes, but will need a new project when we return. This one will do nicely."
"Glad to see you are optimistic about this mission. Cerberus just likes to remind me that in all probability this will be a one way trip."
"Salarians are aware that our lifespan is greatly reduced compared to the rest of the galaxy. Take a pragmatic approach, death is expected so make the most of what we have."
"Believe me I get that. Uh, that was kind of why I hit on you. Death took me once. Never know when it will come looking for me again."
"Understand. Though flattered, surely younger, more suitable candidates on board the Normandy?"
"Not the point, Mordin. I confess I have a fondness for guys who can string two coherent sentences together, granted you can do it at an unparalleled rate compared to most."
Mordin twisted in his seat to take a closer look at Shepard. Her eyes followed his movement, he guessed she was trying to gauge his reaction to her confession. Interesting, he would have to study this further. Perhaps he had made a false assumption that she was just interested in trying out salarian, any salarian. It was well known fact that salarians were hard to tempt into a relationship and perhaps his people had perpetuated the belief that they had virtually no sex drive to keep other species interest down. But this, this he had never considered that she might have been attracted to him for himself.
He smiled at her compliment but his reply interrupted by the ping of his omni-tool.
"We are en route, fifteen minutes out. Normandy has been notified of the situation and is waiting outside the planets thermosphere for our arrival."
"Excellent Legion! We will prepare for your arrival."
Shepard's laughter brought his attention back to her before she enveloped him in a hug. A human gesture, but one he happily returned.
Mordin reluctantly released Shepard, the closeness of another body as an expression of simple celebration was strangely enjoyable. Further study would not be remiss, he decided. He dropped beside the pilot, the man's raspy breaths indicating he still clung to life. A gentle brush brought his attention back to Shepard when she joined him beside their pilot.
"How should we move him?"
"Will check the other ship, perhaps they have something suitable. Otherwise we will just have to be as careful as we can."
They didn't have long to wait before the tell-tale noise of a ship closing in on their location boomed through the night. Together, they opened the shuttle door and witnessed the arrival of a battered shuttle. It dropped gently down near the entrance of the gulley where their shuttle had crashed. Even though they knew this was most likely Legion, they both waited with their pistols drawn for the pilot to reveal themselves.
The hatch opened and the outline of a geth platform stood in the light from the ship.
"Shepard-Commander, Solus-Professor, we have acquired this ship. Do you require assistance moving to this vehicle?"
"No, I'm good but is there anything we can use to move the pilot over there?"
Legion turned and in a few minutes returned with one of those self propelled gurneys like you found in the expensive hospitals. The main difference was that the straps on this one were lockable.
Shepard swore under her breath, "Glad to see they didn't skimp on my comfort."
"Useful regardless of what state you were brought in. At least we will get some good out of it."
Together they maneuvered the fallen man onto the gurney and without a backward glance left the hulking remains of their own ship.
Mordin locked the gurney into place in preparation for take off. A few packets of medi-gel he found tucked away were the only medical supplies these people had on board. Poking through a few more containers turned up a few ration bars which he ignored. These people were as badly prepared as their shuttle had been. One last check on his patient and he moved up to join the others in the cockpit.
Legion sat in the pilot's seat while Shepard had taken over the co-pilot's chair. The geth pivoted to face him.
"Patient is locked in."
"Get us out of here then Legion," Shepard said, her fingers flying over the console.
Mordin gripped the back of Shepard's chair as the vessel lifted off. Over Shepard's shoulder he watched as she dug deeper into the on-board computer. Finally she stopped scrolling and read what was before her. Mordin leaned further over her so he could see what had her attention.
"Well, you stupid bastard. I wonder if Liara has come any closer to identifying you because you and I need to have a little 'chat'."
"Unaware that Shadow Broker had a personal interest in you Shepard."
"Yeah, well according to Liara he was attempting to sell my dead body to the Collectors. I take it rather personal now that Cerberus went to all that effort to bring me back just for him to give me to them dead or alive."
"Yes, having him oppose us is an unnecessary distraction. Must deal with this threat before we can stop the Collectors."
"Agreed Mordin. Just need to figure out where he is and end his threat."
The familiar shape of the Normandy drew closer to them as their ship ascended into the heavens. The shuttle bay door lowered as they drew closer to the larger ship. Legion expertly guided the vessel into the bay until it came to rest on the floor of the Normandy. Her crew sprang into action securing it. Dr. Chakwas and most of her team hovered nearby waiting for the shuttle door to open.
Mordin hurried to the gurney and unlocked it from it's slot even as Legion unlatched the door. Dr. Chakwas hovered near the end of the ramp waiting for her patient. Mordin didn't pause and continued on towards the elevator with the gurney, talking rapid-fire to Chakwas as they went. He threw a look back at Shepard, a warning it looked like.
"Shepard, will notify you when we are ready for you. Do not eat anything."
"Got it Mordin. Vakarian, Lawson, walk with me."
The rest of her team made themselves scarce while they waited for the return of the elevator to their floor. The door opened and Jane entered, Miranda and Garrus taking up spots on either side of her. As soon as the door shut, Jane turned to Miranda.
"Operative Lawson, what was the status on the upkeep of the shuttle we took on my last mission."
Miranda tapped away on her omni-tool until she brought up a report. Another tap and a copy was sent to Shepard. Garrus's gaze flickered from one to the other, something was up and he waited patiently for whatever role Shepard needed him to play.
A brief glance at the report was all she needed to see before her gaze returned once more to Miranda.
"Well apparently I own part of what happened. I should have checked to see what Cerberus standards were. Garrus, what did we typically carry on the Mako for combat drops?"
Nary a twitch revealed his curiosity over what had happened planet-side before he replied, "Well let's see, we carried a full suite of what you fondly called 'barf bags'. Blankets, high end rations for several different species and enough for at least two biotics on board. Water, a few spare packs of medi-gel, pain relievers for both chiralities, oh and omni-gel for when you couldn't shoot a lock open. And of course, spare clips for several different weapons. I think that covers it."
"Right, from now on we operate by Shepard standards. As soon as Dr. Solus is available get a list of everything he thinks is necessary to carry on our shuttles. Also I want the harness checked on every seat, they should be uniform and all meet the same standard. The pilot, I don't even know his name, took more damage because his harness was inadequate."
"His name is Martinez," Miranda added.
"Right, well the only reason I'm not in the same shape as him is because of all the fancy upgrades Cerberus gave me."
"Wait you were in the cockpit when the shuttle went down? What were you doing there?"
"I went up there, Miss Lawson, to find out what in hell was going on. Turns out they hit us with an EM pulse before they decided to fire missiles at us. So yeah, Mordin and Legion nearly had two humans to try and save while dealing with the mercs."
"Commander, I'm sure I can make up a list of emergency supplies. Dr. Solus has enough to deal with."
Shepard shook her head, "I'm sure you can but I want his input. Oh, and give Dr. Solus whatever he orders. Tell your boss if he wants his shuttle he'll have to go down there and get it. For now we will use the one that, uh, Legion appropriated for us."
"Understood Commander," Miranda replied tersely.
The elevator door opened and Miranda fled to her office.
Jane grinned at Garrus. "Barf bags really? I'm impressed you remembered those."
Garrus laughed, "Hard to forget when Joker got us a set of color-coded ones for your whole squad. I remember mine was the same blue as my colony marks. He always was so thoughtful."
"Do me a favor Garrus?"
"Of course Shepard."
"Ask Gardner to have something ready for Mordin and me to eat in a few hours."
"Right." Garrus crossed his arms and pulled himself up to his full height. "Spill it, how bad was it down there?"
"Why in hell are you next for the med-bay?"
"My implant took a beating and is malfunctioning, so they have to replace it. Otherwise I'm fine, honest."
Shaking his head he exited the elevator. Jane pressed the button for her floor, she could at least get cleaned up while she waited for her turn in the med-bay.