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"Chasing Shadows Pt. II"

//Collab. between LegacyCloud & AnnCarise//


"So far I haven't noticed anything of concern," Gabe responded. "L2s like me all have side-effects, some worse than others. You'll get used to it."


"How very reassuring!" she scoffs, playfully. Her attempts to mask her fear only partially successful, "Anyway, should we continue with more practice of this or move on to something else?"

Gabe shook his head, "You've got the idea, we can practice more some other time. How do you feel about trying to apply all that you've learned so far?"


Mischa tilted her head slightly as she looked to him with a quirked brow, "What exactly do you have in mind?"


"We don't have any training simulations on board the ship, so you'll just have to try your abilities on me," Gabe replied. "Just so I can give you a few pointers on how to use what you learned in practical situations."


"I, errm.... well if you're sure, I mean... alright so; how exactly will this work?" She asks as she casually returns to the mat, not thinking of the fact that she has just turned her back on Gabe...


As Mischa turned away, Gabe stretched out his palm, a biotic glow forming around his body as he gave her a telekinetic push. It was a gentle tap in comparison to Mischa's destructive flare, but strong enough to knock her onto her knees.


Mischa yelped as she stumbled forwards, bracing her fall with her hands. Still crouched she turned her head sharply back to Gabe, "Hey! That's hardly sporting!" She could tell by the relatively playful look on Gabe's face that it was indeed just a gentle biotic poke and not a malevolent attack or any such thing. Chuckling slightly, she dusted herself off as she stood back up and spoke again in her naturally flat and analytical tone, "So I guess that is my first lesson then. Very well" With that she turned on her heel and thrust her hand forwards; launching what she hoped was a weaker flare back at him in response.


Gabe stepped to the side, narrowly avoiding the flare, which impacted the wall. The attack was likely stronger than Mischa had intended, as the shock from the impact was enough to knock Gabe forward. His barriers absorbed any damaging effects so he was merely staggered. As he stumbled he stretched his hand forward again, not to break a fall but instead quickly yanking the arm back to lash at Mischa's knees and force her to the ground once again.


Groaning as she recovered from the unexpected move and still sitting on the floor, Mischa's eyes darted about the room as she worked to comprehend what just happened. Acting on instinct she drew her right arm back ready to thrust another flare towards Gabe. However just as she released it, she also swung her left arm across her front in a long sweeping arc; taking a biotic grasp on her drink can that was still sat against the wall where they had been stood before, and launching it at the back of Gabe's head in the hopes of distracting him so her flare would hit.

Spotting the can out of the corner of his eye, Gabe reached a hand to his side, enveloping the can with his own mass effect field as it came hurling at him. While maintaining his barrier, he concentrated all he could afford to on the can to override any biotic control Mischa may still have on it and send the object at her instead. In doing so, Gabe did not notice the flare until it was too late, and the blast knocked him back while the can flew in the other direction towards Mischa. Gabe's barriers held just enough to shield him as he smashed against the wall. He dropped to the floor on his knees, hands bracing the ground for a moment before looking up to Mischa.


Seeing Gabe's quick reflexes divert the projectile can in her own direction, Mischa tried to raise her reactive barrier and although successful; it came just a fraction too late as the barrier formed around the can which promptly bounced off her forehead - breaking her concentration substantially as she looked down at the can while rubbing at her head, "...ow!" she laughed


"And that is why you should try to keep your barriers up during combat," Gabe stood, chuckling as he dusted himself off and walked towards Mischa, "Excellent use of your surroundings. You have a talent for this."


Still chuckling slightly, Mischa took Gabe's hand to pull herself back to her feet, "Thanks... I think! I'll try to remember that, it's just that sustaining the barrier still requires a great deal of concentration, so holding it ready during a fight is proving... difficult. I... hope that blast didn't hit too hard did it?"


"Your biotics are powerful, but I'm still in one piece," Gabe smirked. "Good job with the control. And yes, keeping your barrier up is a challenge at first. That's why we have to practice. You can only develop a reflex after doing it enough."


"Makes sense" Mischa nodded, "So... much as I would like to practice further, perhaps this would be a good opportunity for a small break?"

Gabe nodded back, "If you need one, by all means. I'm not Vyrnnus- I don't believe practicing until exhaustion has any real benefit."


Mischa smiled back, "Thanks. I think I'll go grab a fresh drink and maybe something to eat; I'll be in the mess hall if you need anything." With that she turned and headed out of the training room.


As Mischa left the room, Gabe turned and began to reorganize its contents, much of which had been shifted around during the biotic training. Conserving his energy, he bent down and picked up the three balls by hand before properly setting crates that had been knocked over. Once he had put everything back into place, he turned to the punching bag. Stretching out his hand, he biotically swept the filling into one pile. Once that was done, he stepped up and knelt beside the bag, examining the damage before deciding it was hopeless. As he turned his gaze back to the pile the door slid open, diverting his attention. "Oh, come on," Rogan immediately noticed the tattered bag with a frown. "You wrecked that one too?" "Not me," Gabe stood up. "She's got a lotta kick in her, doesn't she?" the larger man chuckled as he watched Gabe carry the bag across the room. "More than I do," Gabe nodded in response as dropped the bag into an empty crate, "She's strong- stronger than most of the people I trained with in Brain Camp. But her power's still raw, primal. Once she learns to control it-" "She's not...dangerous, is she?" Rogan cut in. "We're all dangerous. If you mean whether she's going to hurt you, she has no reason to." "I heard something about her knocking over a whole commando unit on the Zhuge Liang." "She's on our side, Rogan." "Okay," he nodded. "Just making sure." Bringing the crate over to the pile, Gabe began to scoop up the remains of the filling and drop them inside the container, using biotics to thoroughly sweep the floor when he was could no longer effectively pick up any more with his hands. In the meantime, Rogan had gone over to one of the racks, retrieving two weights with which he began to work. Gabe closed the crate when he finished up his cleaning, looking to Rogan, "You've been to Omega, haven't you?" "Yeah, two or three times," he affirmed as he lifted a weight. "Why'd ya ask?" "I thought it might be a good idea to bring someone who knows the lay of the land." Rogan stopped his exercise and looked to Gabe questioningly, "We're going to Omega?" "Not all of us. The ship's following schedule to get more supplies for Cybele. We'll be taking the shuttle." "What're we going to that place for?" "We have to expose an agent of the Shadow Broker," Gabe explained. "The Shadow Broker?" Rogan asked as if he was unsure of what he had heard. "You know he's one of the most powerful criminals in the galaxy. It's not safe to just mess with his people." "I know," Gabe nodded. "That's why you're coming with us." "As you say, boss." "Come to the shuttle bay when Aditi says we're approaching the relay," Gabe instructed as he carried the crate out the door. He made his way to the mess hall, where the ship's omni-gel converter was located, with the dual intentions of recycling the remains of the punching bag and checking on Mischa.


Inside the mess hall, Gabe would find Mischa sat at the same table as before in the corner of the room. Whilst working her way through a hearty portion of rations, she was reading something on a datapad which lay on the table in front of her. Mischa's back was to the door so did not see Gabe enter the room.


Gabe took the crate to the omni-gel converter, dumping what was left of the punching bag for recycling and likely getting Mischa's attention at the same time. He set the crate down in a corner, briefly rinsing his hands before grabbing a tray of rations as well. He made his way to Mischa's table, standing before the empty seat in front of her, opting to ask politely instead of immediately occupying the seat. "May I?"


"Please" she smiled up at him, extending an open towards the seat. As he set his tray on the table and sat down, Mischa glanced towards the omni-gel converter, "Sorry again about that. Maybe while we're on Omega I can find a merchant to buy replacements for them. Seems the least I can do"


Gabe nodded, "I'm sure we'll be able to find training supplies on Omega. Though it's not usually the type of goods people like to travel there for." He added with a chuckle. He took a few bites of the rations before looking back up at Mischa, "What're you reading?"


Mischa considered Gabe, glancing down at the datapad in her hand thoughtfully before looking back up to him; turning the datapad in her hand and offering it across for him, "I found it when I was trying to escape that lab - before you caught up with me." She explains, "It contains details on the 'project' they used me for, and lists the names of those responsible for doing this to me..." She trails off, almost as though she realizes the implication behind her words.


"Project Generation," Gabe said the project's name before he even received the datapad. He took a skim through its contents before gazing back to Mischa. "I'm supposed to train Cerberus' next generation of biotics- everyone given the experimental implant that is. I...thought you were all going to be volunteers."


Mischa's hands rested on the table in front of her as she listened to Gabe, thumbs twiddling anxiously, "I wonder if all the people on that list were misled in the same manner; hard to believe as that may be. I... was thinking to do a bit of digging on them, see what I can find out..."


"Digging on them?" Gabe asked. "As in accessing their files? You can do that?"


Chuckling slightly, Mischa eased the datapad back out of his hands, folding it safely under her own on the tabletop, "Cerberus security protocols aren't exactly as cutting edge as Mr. Illusive might think. Ok, well... maybe the important ones are, but basic HR stuff... I could peel those archives open in my sleep!" She looks across to him thoughtfully a moment, "You... don't do so much with tech, do you?"


"Only some weapon mods, but these are designed to be simple for field use," Gabe replied. "And the occasional breaking open a lock, with omni-gel assistance."


The smile on her face broadened slightly as an idea came into her head. Pushing up from the table and pocketing the datapad once more, she waved Gabe to follow, "Come on! It's time for the student to become the teacher!"

Gabe smirked as he finished his ration tray, standing up and following Mischa. "This should be interesting."


"You bet your arse it will!" she laughed, heading out the door and down the corridor towards the rear of the ship.

Gabe followed closely behind Mischa, speaking as he walked, "You think the Illusive Man would've noted down who volunteered and who didn't? If any of them even are volunteers, that is."


"Not so much volunteered" she corrected as they casually strolled down the corridor, "But there may be some clues in their personnel records that will me tell if they knew what they were doing with me; that it was against my will... included logs or summary files perhaps."

"You'll be able to access all that from here?" Gabe looked impressed. "I've always heard of extranet hackers being able to access any information they wish, but I thought it'd be safe if we stored data in computers that aren't linked to it."


Mischa nodded, "Hacking is not something I have really associated myself with. Always found the term rather vulgar and thought as much of those I associated with it. But there really is nothing to it once you understand how the code works!" she smiles to Gabe as they approach engineering. Stepping through into the eerily quiet room - save for the hum of the engines - she looked around briefly until her eyes settled on a terminal, "There" she points, "That will do nicely". Approaching the terminal with Gabe following closely, she stopped just short and flashed her omnitool across Gabe's, seeing his flash in response as a datapacket transfers, "That will make this a lot easier for you" She smiles, "It is a basic root level interface that gets you straight to where you need to be in the system; so no faffing about to take down the console's intended interface first then remembering command line instructions to set yourself up! Go ahead, give it a try" she smiles, gesturing to the console.


Gabe set the hand with the activated omni-tool on top of the terminal, tapping on the omni-tool as he looked at the screen. The holographic interface shifted through a sequence of different pages before settling on a particular layout. Gabe read through the display before turning to Mischa, "What now?"


"Alright" she smiled, "What you're basically looking at here is a back door view of the extranet; this is what it actually is when you cut through all the glitzy and self-serving interfaces that you're used to seeing. So now - if you like - we've stepped through our end of the hallway; now we need to find the door at the other end, then peek our heads out to see what we need at that end. The easiest way to achieve this is with a direct call to the local address; you've been there before... have anybody's extranet address who is stationed there? If so use that as a baseline - here" she points on the screen, "for your search, this should get you in to the server, or the door at the end of our hallway."


Thinking for a moment, Gabe leaned forward and typed on the terminal. Once again the screen began to shift until it displayed what appeared to be a massive stream of data. "This seems to be one of the extranet access points on the Zhuge Liang," Gabe commented. "I'm seeing a few comms messages, links to academic journals, some news, patches for the VI...a lot of data but nothing important."


"And that is where the trained eye comes in" she smiles, peeking over his shoulder at the datastream, "Alright; now we're in let's see what we can find. Remember that this hack is not only a view to what is passing through our metaphorical door in this stream; but everything that's in the room beyond it - so as long as a terminal on the Zhuge Liang is connected to the extranet; we can find a way in" She leans in across his shoulder, to guide him as needed and pounce on a defense in case they're detected, "Alright, let's start slow..." she smiles, pulling the datapad from her pocket once more and holding it up for him to see clearly while working, "Let's start with this first name on the list and see what we can turn up from that"


Gabe shook his head, "I don't think anyone posted on the Zhuge Liang is allowed access to the extranet outside the access terminals. We might be able to find a few rule-breakers who might have used their personal omni-tools once or twice, but that could take a while, and there's no guarantee that their devices'll have anything useful."


"Figures..." she chuckles, "Alright Gabe, you're doing great so far; so how about trying to go back to the root and follow the directory pathing for those VI patches... I have another idea!"


"VI patches...that's smart," Gabe smiled as he continued to type on the console, returning it to the point that Mischa had instructed. "You think we'll be able to get in by hijacking the VI?"


Mischa turned her head to look at Gabe, "Impressive insight!" she affirms, "And that's exactly what we're going to try, now this is a slightly more complex hack so we'll do it together" she smiles, bringing her omnitool up to interface with the terminal alongside Gabe's. "Ok, see there" she points with her other hand, "That's our root directory for the VI. So now we just need to peek our heads in the door there and make a few small adjustments to programming. So you get us in, and I'll worry about the coding - just use that program I put in your omnitool to marry up the right code fragments; this will create the illusion that our presence in this part of the system is nothing more than a shadow of the actual program."


Gabe nodded, staring at the screen while typing as he matched up the code fragments. Occasionally, he took a glance sideways at Mischa to observe what she was doing but made sure to focus his attention on his own part of the work as to not mismatch


Mischa kept a watchful on eye on Gabe's part while working her way through the VI's programming. After what probably felt longer to Gabe in his concentration than it actually was, she declared success and gave him the nod to stop the signal masking, "Now... we wait" she advised as they logged back to the root directory.


Pulling his hands away from the terminal, Gabe stood and did exactly as Mischa had asked him to- he waited. For over a minute it seemed like nothing was occurring- the text and numbers were shifting around constantly but after staring for more than a few seconds it all became a hazy blur to Gabe. Just as he began to contemplate asking how long this would take, the screen suddenly flashed. Then, everything began to come in. First was a river of code flowing down the interface, an inside view of the AI. The grid of security monitors appeared next, providing a glance of almost every angle on the Zhuge Liang. Various smaller boxes flickered in; Gabe noticed that most of them were controls that allowed adjustment of various ship subsystems as well as door and lift locks. Finally, what they were looking for revealed itself when a list of all the terminals connected to the base ship displayed on the screen. "Consider me impressed," Gabe turned and smiled at Mischa.


"Likewise" Mischa smiled, "You did good there! Now, because we're still in their system, which is a place we don't really want to be; we're going to clone and download all this information for review later." Activating her omnitool, the device glowed as it captured the cloned information. After a few moments the download was complete and she stepped back, "Right, now just to pull back out of their system before they even knew we were there. Go ahead and use your program to reverse the process and sever the connection."

Gabe returned to typing on the terminal as he quickly reversed what they had done and removed their presence from the Zhuge Liang before it could be detected. Once he was finished, he pulled back his hand and deactivated his omni-tool, looking to Mischa. "Let's see what we have."


Mischa smiled and nodded as she pulled up the files, "So Gabe; how does it feel to have successfully completed your first hack?" She began at the top and looking at the files on the project lead.





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