The fire spread quickly. She was forced to retreat back into the room with the dead bodies of the Alliance team - pushed by a wall of flames.
Her shields overloaded due to the heat almost immediately. She could feel the flames radiating through her armour.
Smoke was beginning to fill the top of the room. She coughed, and scrambled towards the body of the squad leader - removing his helmet and fitting it in place on her head, twisting it to engage the seal.
Keating breathed fresh, cold air. But the heat was still there.
There was static through the radio, "HHHHHH Hello?" said Anderson's voice.
"Anderson!" Keating shouted, trying to get her voice audible above the crackling flames, "Help!"
The fire was advancing. She took a step back and lost her balance, falling. She tried to stand up again but it seemed her legs had given out altogether.
Keating scrambled backwards, using her arms to pull her out of the way of the pursuing flames.
"We're sending an extraction team," said Anderson.
Her back hit a wall, causing her to hiss in pain from her injury. She turned to see if there was an escape route - there wasn't. The fire had surrounded her.
Sophia's mind went back to her biotic training, searching her brain for something which would come in useful. She tried to recall the lesson about biotic barriers.
High gravity mass effect field...
She raised her hands, and the air flickered blue before resuming its normal colour.
Keating attempted again, but all that came was another flicker. She could feel her energy beginning to drain, her limbs getting heavier by the second.
She tried again, putting as much energy into the barrier as possible. The air shimmered with biotic energy before it lapsed and disappeared again.
Sophia cursed, the flames getting closer. She could only hear the crackling and roaring of fire. Smoke filled the top of the room like a blanket, whilst the fire raged beneath.
She was amazed her armour could stand up to such heat. The fire engulfed her - the only thing stopping her from being burned alive was a layer of ceramic and kinetic padding.
Other than the temperature warnings on her head up display, all she could see was orange. Her visor began to become black with soot which blocked her vision slightly.
She froze in fear. She was going to die. The inside of her armour began to get hot and she hissed in pain as she felt the back of her hands burn and was unable to do anything about it.
The blackness obscured her visor completely, shutting her off from the world. She could see nothing - she had no idea where the flames were. Her feet began to sting as the heat burned her skin. The fire was getting through. It was only a matter of time before she cooked inside her own armour.
She drew her feet and arms in close so they wouldn't burn anymore.
Her eyes saw nothing, her ears heard only crackling, her mouth was full of the acidity from the smoke and the skin of her hands and feet felt nothing but pain.
She curled up into a ball. Her arms began to burn, as did her ankles. She grimaced as the heat spread across her body, scorching her skin.
Sophia heard voices, but they were distant. The flames took away their words and drowned them away with crackling.
She felt hands grasp her shoulders and pull her to her feet. Her legs collapsed so she fell back down. She wiped her visor clean of the blackness and looked into the helmet of her rescuer. He was wearing a breather helmet and had a weapon slung around his shoulders that she did not recognise.
"Sophia Keating?" he asked her.
He lifted her up again and moved her arm so it was around his shoulder. He aimed his weapon at the surrounding flames and squeezed the trigger, causing a jet of water to spurt out of the muzzle and begin to extinguish the fire.
"Let's go," he said, and began helping her towards the nearest window. They made slow progress - with her burned feet which made every step agony, and her ruined legs. But they managed to get where the flames were thinner so she didn't get burned any more, even if she did still wince every time she placed her foot down.
At the window, there were two ropes. A Kodiak shuttle hovered above, where the ropes trailed from.
"... I can't do it," she said to the man, "My legs are fucked up."
"Attach it to your belt," he said, "They'll pull you up."
She tied the rope several times around the belt her armour had, making sure it was secure. The man let go of her and she collapsed, but the rope held her up when it pulled taunt.
He held back the flames with another gush of water from his weapon. She felt a pressure on her waist and stomach, causing her to put her hands on the slash in her stomach instinctively as she was pulled up towards the shuttle.
The man was just behind her.
1 week later...
David Anderson couldn't help but wince and shake his head as he walked into the bar. Loud, rhythmic music assaulted his ears. His eyes scanned the large gathering of people - most of them mercenaries.
He found the person he was looking for. Sat at the bar drinking some kind of alcohol. Anderson moved in her direction, and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned, and he immediately noticed the long scar down her face.
"Detective Keating," he said, "You were hard to track down."
"Ex-Detective," she corrected him, "How did you find me?"
"We have our ways. Generally speaking, having a fist fight with a Krogan tends to get you unwanted attention."
She shrugged, "He threatened people. I gave him a taste of his own medicine.
Anderson smiled slightly, "I'm here to offer you a job, Keating. You've shown promise, across the board. Hand-to-hand combat, firearms, biotics... the Alliance needs you. We need every biotic we can get."
She shrugged, "I'll think about it."
"Cerberus have made several attempts to gain a foothold back in Vancouver. But you sorted them out. Proving to them, if no one else, that they're not as untouchable as they think. The Alliance Defence Council are finally taking direct action against them. But there are other Cerberus headquarters on other planets that need to be taken down. There are rumours of them taking civilians against their will."
"I don't think Privates tend to go to other planets," Sophia pointed out.
"You wouldn't be joining as a Private. We need you to join the Interplanetary Combatives Training. We need people like you."
"That's the N7 programme, right?"
Anderson nodded, "Yes. After a few years of training you'll be put into a leadership role. Maybe even a Commander, depending on how effective you were in combat situations."
"Commander Keating?" Sophia questioned, "Well, it sounds better than Private Keating."
"You are no longer the woman we interviewed back at our base," Anderson pointed out, "You've changed."
She shrugged, "Whatever. I was fired from my job, something about 'posing a risk to staff'. Apparently Cerberus has put a price on my head."
He nodded, "Yes. That's why we think it's important for you to learn how to protect yourself."
"I've completed a ship I was building. But I have no idea about what to name it. Alliance Frigates are named after large battles, aren't they?"
"Yes. Search the extranet. You'll come up with a name for the ship."
"I've already looked. But I can't decide which sounds better, the SSV Naseby or the SSV Hattin."
Anderson shrugged, "The SSV Naseby sounds good. So you'll be joining us?"
She nodded, "Yes. I will. I want to get some revenge on Cerberus. I want to bloody crush them."