She passed through the questioning with relative ease - answering everything to the best she could. She had been interviewed by two Alliance officers. One seemed relatively nice, and the other seemed to accused her of working with Cerberus. She wasn't going to fall for the good cop, bad cop routine so paid it no attention and carried on regardless.
There as a knock at the door. One of the officers - the "bad cop" - went to answer it. There were several hushed whispers which were slightly out of her earshot as the interview continued.
"So after you returned home from hospital," the "good cop" said, "You returned home and found these?"
Keating nodded, pushing back tears, "... Yes I did."
The "bad cop" exited the room to be replaced by a man who walked in with blue Alliance uniform. He had dark skin, and was nearly bald.
"I'm Captain David Anderson," he said, "I'm overseeing this operation."
Keating nodded as a greeting.
"We've just got word that the Alliance biotic training programme you were part of was just attacked by Cerberus forces. There was a similar event in the Vancouver police station. Cerberus is after you, Detective. I don't know why. But as far as I'm aware, an enemy of Cerberus is a friend of ours."
Keating put her head in her hands, "Did they... kill anyone?"
"I don't know. We have reports coming in as we speak. They're in control of the police station but we've deployed a strike team. Is there anything you can tell us about Cerberus? I read your file. They put you in hospital yesterday."
"I've told you all I know already. About the building, about them trying to kill me, everything."
"You told us that your partner works for Cerberus. What is his name?"
"... Brian Richards," she told him, "His name is Brian Richards."
"Sir," said the "good cop, "To build a skyscraper in the city you need a planning permission from the Alliance. If we track the permit we can actually know where the building is."
"Get it done, Harrison. We need the information as soon as possible. We don't know what Cerberus is up to, but it's not going to be good."
"So is that it?" Keating asked, "Can I go home?"
Captain Anderson shook his head, "I'm afraid not. Cerberus are trying to locate you, Detective. We have no idea whether they know you're with us yet or not - but it won't be long until they come for you. We need you with us."
"But I can't fight. I can barely stagger someone with my biotics. I just want to go home."
"You can't go home. My guess is that they have already tried. That would have been the first place they looked for you."
"... So I'm just going to stay here?"
"We need your help. Richards could be involved in some way. It's his building. It's likely he will be there. You can talk him down."
"... I just said I never wanted to see him again. I doubt I can do anything."
"You're the best hope we've got, Detective. We need you on this mission."
She sat in the centre of the training area. To her left there appeared to be a large boxing ring, where a man was stood, and to her right a shooting range. There were several other things dotted around - obstacles like foam walls and replica vehicles. She saw an Alliance fighter and a Mako, perfectly copied out of plastic
"You're going to be trained in firearms and hand-to-hand combat," Anderson explained, "It would be against policy to put a civilian into a combat zone without any preparation. Well, it's against protocol to allow civilians into battle anyway, but we're going to break it this once."
"I don't think I can do anything to help you," Keating sighed, "I really don't. Can I have something to eat? I'm hungry."
"We'll get a sandwich from the mess hall for you whilst you train. The first thing you do is train in hand-to-hand combat in the boxing ring."
At the end of the training - almost a day of gruelling tasks which had pushed Keating to her very limit - she was approached by Anderson. The Captain activated his Omni-tool, activating a holographic vid which seemed to be playing an article from the Alliance News Network.
"Alliance teams have managed to take back the police station in Vancouver and the biotic training programme. However, many people are left unaccounted for. We believe Cerberus has taken them hostage, but the Alliance has not yet received any requests or ransoms for their release."
"... Shit," Sophia said, "So Cerberus has hostages?"
Anderson nodded, "We believe so. Our best hope is that we can just get there as fast as possible. We've found the building and we're assembling an infiltration team to get in. We need you to be part of it, Detective. From your training, you have the highest firearm accuracy out of any recruit I have ever seen in. We sure could use you in the Alliance after this is all finished."
"If I make it out," Keating sighed glumly, "It isn't every day I get sent into a bloody building full of terrorists."
"Which reminds me, we have a Bio-Amp for you. The records from the training programme show that you have Asari-level control but lack the damage necessary for some of the more powerful attacks. This amp will amplify the electrical signals from your brain so your biotics will have a greater effect, a longer duration and most importantly - more damage. These are military issue - model L5x. Not available to the general public."
"Amps? I don't use them."
"Now that explains your lack of damage. We need another biotic in the infiltration team - we only have one so far and he's barely adequate. There aren't enough biotics to waste and you have potential. You will need a small operation where the chip is implanted at the base of your neck. As long as you keep the area clean there will be no problems. The operation has a one hundred percent success rate."
"I'm not sure. What kind of results would I get? Is it worth it?"
Anderson nodded, "In the long term, yes. At your training level you will only be able to make some of the weaker attacks - slam, pull, throw, maybe the occasional shockwave. Powers like singularity and warp will need more training, but you will eventually be able to manage them."
She sighed and paused for a moment, thinking about whether or not to have the implant. Did she really want a hole in her neck full of technology? Yes, it would have made her biotics useful, for once, but it still sounded like a pretty big operation, despite the hundred percent success rate.
Sophia had never been a good Detective, nor very good at biotics. But by the sound of it, she could become a good soldier - and the Bio-Amps would increase her biotic damage. She wasn't sure how much Alliance soldiers were paid, but it must have been around thirty thousand credits for every mission they went on. More than she'd get paid in a year as a Detective, which she was no good at anyway.
"What kind of damage increase will I expect?" she asked, curious about the statistics.
"Up to a hundred percent damage increase, forty percent for duration."
"I'll do it. Then is that it? We can go?"
"We have to get you equipped with your armour and weapons. But yes, after the operation you're free to go with the infiltration team. There's no recovery time for the procedure so you'll be ready to go as soon as it's done."
She nodded, "Alright."
Keating sat in the back of the shuttle with the rest of the infiltration team. Unlike the rest of the squad, she had no tactical cloak. Tactical cloak or "cloaking" was a device which rendered its user nearly invisible to the naked eye. She had no idea why she hadn't been given one, but she presumed it must have served some purpose.
In her arms, she carried a standard issue M-8 Avenger assault rifle with an extended barrel for the rounds to move faster, and an upgraded cooling system so she could fire more shots before she had to reload. In a holster located on her belt she had an M-3 Predator pistol - also standard issue - and it had similar modifications applied to it.
She gently probed the back of her neck curiously, feeling a slight bump beneath the skin where the chip was housed. She had barely noticed the operation had taken place - something she was quite thankful of. She had been given some anti-bacterial gel that she had to apply daily - and that was it.
"So we'll land on the roof and abseil down. Expect heavy resistance from the moment we set foot on to the building. We're not sure what state it's in - there might be construction undergoing. Our intel suggests that the builders and construction workers know nothing about what they're actually doing or who they're doing it for - thanks to Brian Richards, who Sophia here has experience with. Her job will be to apprehend Richards whilst the rest of us clear the building. We'll scan the building on approach and get a lock on to Richards' position."
"So I'll go in first?" Sophia questioned the squad leader, whose name she had not been told, "After you've located him?"
The squad leader nodded, "Yes. If you manage to talk him down, hopefully the rest of the building will stop fighting. We get in, capture everyone we can, and get out again. Job done."
"And what if things turn into a shit storm, sir?" asked one of the infiltration team, "It's Cerberus. The last time we took this kind of action against them they led us into an ambush."
"We'll hit them fast and we'll hit them hard. Helmets and shield generators on. ETA to the drop zone is less than a minute."
Keating reached over to the other side of the shuttle to collect the breather helmet that she had been issued with. She put it over her head and clicked it into place so it fastened to the rest of her armour - and twisted it to lock the seal. The effect from the helmet was almost like air conditioning - it provided clean, fresh oxygen despite the tension like electricity in the air around her.
She heard several high pitched noises - automatically delivered to her ears by some high quality speakers inside the helmet. It allowed her to hear sounds clearer than if she had been wearing no helmet at all, which was an odd sensation. She activated her shield generator along with the other members of the team - hearing a similar noise as it began working.
Keating felt the shuttle lurch slightly as it began its descent. The engine's rhythmic, electronic whining got higher in pitch as it hovered slightly above a metre away from the roof of the building, door already opening.
Gunshots were audible. Heavy weapons, possibly some kind of semi-automatic rifle, sent rounds thudding into the shields of the shuttle. Blue ripples spread from the impact point as the kinetic barrier stopped the shots in their tracks.
Keating swung herself out of the vessel. Her shield was already flickering as rounds struck. She saw several armed soldiers - wearing white armour and helmets - advancing towards the shuttle. They were staying in cover; there were metal containers dotted around the landing area which they used for protection.
The infiltration team used a similar tactic, running for cover. She followed the team, sliding behind a metal container.
"Flank them!" she heard a Cerberus trooper say. Immediately she began to see several of the armoured soldiers moving around the side of the containers.
She opened fire with her rifle, steadying it with her shoulder. There were several small flashes as they took down the first soldier's shields, and hit him in the chest with several rounds. Blood splashed across the front of his armour and he dropped.
"Nice one, Keating," said one of the infiltration team.
She switched targets to the second flanking soldier and began stripping his shields. However, before she fully completed the task there was a whump from the side of her. The top half of the soldier's body was completely ripped apart. Keating flinched, shocked by the sudden removal of the Cerberus trooper's body from the waist up.
"Keating!" yelled the squad leader, "Take out the container!"
She moved back so she was fully protected behind the metal along with the rest of the team. They had sustained no losses, and no casualties, but were pinned down by gunfire from the Cerberus soldiers - who were using the container ahead of the team to their advantage.
"I... Can I throw that much weight?"
The sound of gunfire was nearly deafening - especially considering the amplification from her helmet.
"Just bloody throw the container back!" came the response.
Sophia felt the energy build up in her arms, which began writhing with a blue biotic glow. She pushed her arm forward, and the metal container which the Cerberus soldiers were using suddenly became airborne and flew backwards. She heard several grunts of pain and several crushing noises before the container dropped off the edge of the building.
There was several more gunshots from the infiltration team. Then nothing.
"Rooftop secure," came the acknowledgement from the team leader.