|Mass Effect: Interloper
Author: M.B.Liddle PM
Follow the adventures of Michael Liddle as he quite literally falls into the ME universe. A self insert covering the events of the first entry of the series. Follows the story of the Normandy crew and more as they strive to save a changing galaxy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 40 - Words: 97,285 - Reviews: 215 - Favs: 116 - Follows: 118 - Updated: 09-26-12 - Published: 03-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7970760
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Interloper: Chapter One
Author's Note: Now that this story is almost 2 years old, and more importantly, I have two more years of writing under my belt, I can't help but feel that these earlier chapter really don't do those that come after them justice. Because of this, I plan on launching a fairly major overhaul and rewrite of these opening chapters and beyond. For new readers, be aware that this fic will be undergoing changes as this project continues. (Chapters already rewritten will be marked as such) For returning readers, don't worry, the story will retain its original form and the plot will see very little deviation. Rereading it will be far from mandatory. Thank you all for your patience and continued reading.
The night air was cool as I completed my fifth lap of the small loop my house was built on. I wasn't entirely sure why I was out wandering at so close to midnight, but if I had to guess it would have something to do with the last 26 hours I had spent sequestered amongst piles of empty cans and crisp packets, eyes glued to the screen. Yeah, that might be it. I started on my sixth lap. A dull roll of thunder burst across the empty sky. I looked up expecting rain. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, nothing between me and the coldly twinkling stars. I began to hear a buzzing in my ear, far off at first but steadily growing. I waved it off as a tension headache and kept plodding on.
On second thought, better head back home, don't want to be caught outside with a crippling migraine.
That was when the buzzing became unbearably loud. It was as if it wasn't in my ears anymore, but emanating from all around me. I tried to block it out, pressing fingers against my ears. Waves of static began to rush over me, every hair standing on end as I was actually lifted from the ground. There was a loud roar of thunder and the world beneath my feet dropped into blackness.
Consciousness seemed to seep slowly back into my tired brain. The pavement I had fallen on felt soft and springy, and I could hear muffled thuds in the background. I cracked an eye and caught a shaft of sunlight in the face. I winced, had I been lying here all night? I unsteadily pushed myself to my feet. My whole body ached. It felt worse than the time I had gotten caught in an electric fence on my backpacking trip through Europe. My fingers splayed over oddly coloured grass.
Hang on a sec, I wasn't lying on pavement at all, and when did the sky take on that cloudy red colour?
I looked around for the first time. I definitely wasn't on my road anymore. From the scarlet sky full of darkening clouds to the purplish grass that rose in sharp thickets, everything felt wrong. And hot. I stripped off the thick coat that had until seconds ago been warding off the cold New England winter. I hung it on a nearby branch and staggered out of the thicket. My mind raced, trying to make sense of my new surroundings. People didn't just fall over and appear somewhere totally different on waking. The tall grass thinned as I neared what looked like a path. I ducked down as the rattling of what could be gunfire came from nearby. The sound stopped, leaving me kneeling in the grass. My heart raced as I listened. Further down the path, I heard the sounds of pounding boots, followed soon by voices.
"Jenkins, look out!" The voice grabbed my attention, so familiar. It was impossible, though… I tore back the long strands of grass, earning myself a rough rasp against my hands. That was nothing next to what the parting in the thicket revealed. Just around the corner, a figure in black rushed headlong up a steep incline. The man wore a rounded helmet, his eyes covered by a thick visor and he carried a strange curved rifle that I had seen before, though never in real life. Fearing what I would see, I looked the over way. Thin disks of purple metal floated there, brandishing the barrels of what had to be weapons. It was exactly as I had feared.
The man was Corporal Jenkins and he was about to die. My body started to move before my brain fully wrapped itself around what it was seeing. I launched myself to my feet and sprinted head first into the man, catching him in the side. Bright blue flashes of light passed through where he would have been. The landing was hard and I fell sprawling. More flashes passed above us, this time from the other direction. A pair of explosions caused my ears to ring.
"You alright?" I asked, scanning the other man. It all fit, the black armour, the helmet, the folding rifle, even the tufts of blonde hair visible through the thin slit of his visor. I pinched myself hard, I had to be dreaming.
"Yeah, you?" he asked in return. I nodded. One of the blasts had barely missed my ribs, scorching the hooded jacket I was wearing. I plucked at it, no blood.
"Close call though." I tried to speak calmly, but my voice quavered slightly. "Sorry, never been shot at before." Two more figures came splashing towards us.
"Jenkins?" the closest called, "You alright?"
"Yes, Lieutenant, this local pulled me out of the way." He inclined his head towards me. I pushed myself up out of the muck. Lieutenant? More proof. And the pain of the fall was far too real to be a dream.
"Michael Liddle." I gave them my real name. No reason to lie now.
The other man looked at me suspiciously. "You from the colony? With the militia?"
"Yes," I answered without thinking, who was going to tell them otherwise, "what's going on?" The question was directed at the world as much as it was the man. Everything around me screamed Mass Effect, Eden Prime if I remembered right. And now, for some reason, I was standing on it. Maybe I'd simply gone mad. It wasn't too farfetched given my family's history.
"We were hoping you'd tell us," the man said.
"I was just out for a walk, when all this started happening." I gestured back up the path that the floating disks had come from. True Enough.
"Alenko, what's our status? We need to get to the dig site as soon as possible." The other person asked, in a voice I knew all too well. The women's voice I could have picked out anywhere. It was a voice I had spent days hearing, though always from the other side of a screen. Now she stood in front of me. She was taller than I had imagined, coming almost to my eye level. Behind the mask of her helmet, two fierce eyes looked back at me. Commander Shepard.
"If you're here for the beacon, you won't find it at the dig site," I said, addressing the Commander. The words just kind of tumbled out. She looked me straight in the eye, her face suspicious, critical.
"Who is this, and how does he know about the beacon?" she asked Alenko.
"He says he's with the local militia ma'am, and I was about to ask the same question myself." Now they were all looking at me. I backed off a step. I had stumbled into situation that the truth wouldn' get me out of. If I was simply mad, proclaiming myself a visitor from another reality couldn't do me any harm, but if those rifle turned out to be as real as they looked, there was only one way out of it.
"I, uh, saw them move it up to the spaceport earlier. The whole colony's been talking about it."
"Can you lead us there?" she asked. I nodded, I hadn't played Mass Effect one for a long time, but I remembered the road being pretty linear.
"It's up this way past the dig site." I gestured.
"If you're with the militia, where's the rest of your unit?" Alenko asked. He still seemed suspicious.
"I wasn't with them when the attack started; I was just out for a walk." I repeated what I had told Jenkins.
"Alright, lead the way, Militiaman Liddle, was it?" Shepard said, "But be careful, those drones will rip right through you without a suit."
"Of course, Commander Shepard." I kicked myself, we hadn't been introduced. I looked for a way out. "You, uh, you're a lot different from the vids, ma'am." I tried.
"I never did like those vids, militiaman, now lead on," the Commander said. I nodded, relieved that my cover had been accepted and turned to start up the path. Behind me Shepard was talking to Jenkins.
"What did I tell you Corporal? 'Be careful out there.' I do not appreciate my orders become tragically ironic, you got that?"
"Yes ma'am, it won't happen again," was his unsteady reply. The group set off up the hill. If my memory served me right, Ashley Williams should be just over the rise. The climb set me huffing and puffing as sweat began to bead on my forehead. The humid air was a far cry from the bone dry cold of my home, and I had started tired to boot.
A little further down the path, I found myself in an unfamiliar glade. Just as we cleared the rise, the sound of more drones started coming from all around us.
Shit, I forgot about the ambush.
"Get down!" someone pulled me roughly down to the ground. Just as well too, as supersonic flakes of metal raked through where I had just been standing. I managed to roll behind a thick stand of roots as drones whirred overhead. The Commander's squad returned fire, filling the air with hot metal.
"You learn to shoot in the militia?" Shepard was talking to me now. I nodded. She shoved her pistol into my hand. It was a lot bigger than it looked on my laptop screen, heavier than I had expected too. I aimed for one of the whirring drones, carefully aiming before pulling the trigger. My shots missed, but the drone ended up veering into one of the other's streams, blowing apart in a cloud of shrapnel. My eyes found another one, this time managing to clip the edge of the dish. The drone careened into a tree and left a little furrow of bright fire winding up the trunk.
"Nice shot," Jenkins said as he walked fire across another drone. The air seemed a lot emptier now. The four of us managed to take out a further two before the remaining drones zoomed off.
"Everyone okay?" Alenko asked.
"Yeah," I said, picking myself up and stowing the pistol on my belt. The weapon hung awkwardly. I had never been any good with my dad's pistol, much preferring my own rifle. Not that twenty rounds of .22 would be of much use here. I extended a hand to help Jenkins up.
"That was a close thing militiaman," Shepard says, "Perhaps you should find somewhere safe to hide, we can find the spaceport from here."
Just as I was about to argue that I could still help, the sound of gunfire came from past a rock formation.
"Let's move, people!" Commander Shepard ordered, seemingly dropping the sendoff. The four of us sprinted down the path until we came across a clearing. I caught a flash of pink and white. A woman was sitting with her back to a rock, wearing a similar cut of armour to the team ahead of me, though it was primarily white with highlights rendered in a soft pink that looked out of place on the battlefield. She looked hurt. Two figures were advancing on her position. They were short and stocky with a long flecible hood extending from where a human head would rest. They too carried rifles, though of a different, bulbous design. The edges of the rock that hid the wounded soldier had begun to glow from the volume of fire.
"Spread out, focus fire on the leading hostile!" Shepard had her assault rifle out and was already firing. The sudden storm of fire caught the machines off guard. The first one went down almost immediately. The second one seemed to freeze for a second, as if trying to decide whether to continue going after Ashley or aim at the new threat. Kaidan didn't give it a chance to build a consensus, firing up his biotics and sending the Geth pin-wheeling into a rock. The platform's lights slowly died.
"Thanks Commander, thought I was a gonna for sure." The woman's voice came out strained and shaky.
"Are you wounded, soldier?" Shepard asked.
"One of them got me pretty good. Nothing some medigel can't fix." Ashley had gotten shakily to her feet. "Who's the kid?"
'The Kid' must be referring to me.
"Says he's with the militia," Alenko said as he dosed the wounded soldier with the solution of pain meds and healing goo.
"I don't recognize you, are you with the Agrigroup?" she asked. She thanked the other soldier and seemed to stand taller, though she still favored her unwounded side.
"Yes Chief, but I haven't had contact with them since the attack started." She seemed to accept this. Probably didn't hurt that I had just addressed her by the correct rank.
"I'm Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, with the 212. We did some training with Agrigroup a while back. Colonel Herrick still in charge?"
"Yes ma'am." I replied, "At least he was this morning."
"The fighting's been pretty fierce, the rest of my unit's gone, the 232 was deployed just up by the spaceport, and I haven't heard from them either."
"What happened to your unit?" Shepard asked. Ashley began to explain the situation. I wasn't really paying attention, I already knew the details. What I didn't know was what I was doing here. Considered taking Shepard's offer, just hiding under a rock and waiting for it all to pass. But then Shepard would leave me. She would expose the beacon that waited at the spaceport and go on to expose Saren, destroy Sovereign, and fight the eventual Reaper invasion. But where would that leave me? Stranded on a broken colony with no identity and no way home.
As that thought hit me, so did a wave of panic. What if this was permanent? What if I truly had managed to accidently cross some kind of barrier? I remembered the wash of static seconds before I had blacked out and the buzzing in my ears. The question hung in front of me. I shook my head, bidding the fear of never going home again to disappear. I'd follow Shepard, at least it would pass the time until I figured out what had happened to me. Maybe I'd even be able to make myself useful. That said, I still had very little knowledge of how this world actually worked. I walked over to where Jenkins stood.
"You ever seen action, Corporal?" I asked. He seemed to jump a little.
"No, this is my first, you?"
"Before today, I had barely fired a gun." A half-truth, mass accelerators were altogether new to me, but I had spent as much time as I could cram into my schedule out at the sandpit down the road.
The corporal nodded. He scuffed his boot across the top of a metal box. A memory hit me.
"Hey Jenkins, pass me that crate." He looked at me quizzically but handed the crate over. "The militia left a few caches out here," I said as I pried the thing open. A jumbled suit of armour tumbled out into my arms. Unfolded, it looked like a wetsuit with a few molded plates covering the shoulders, legs, and stomach. The suit itself was a dusty black, while the plates sported a digital camouflage scheme.
"We, uh, didn't cover how use this in the militia." I lied lamely.
"Oh, it's easy." Jenkins said, "here, just hit this bit…"
Donning the armour was actually pretty simple. You kind off stepped into it and pulled it up until it fit snugly. Once I had zipped up, Jenkins hit a button on my belt. A burst of static electricity shot across the suit's surface.
"There, ready for battle." Jenkins seemed to have regained his gung-ho attitude. By now, Commander Shepard had finished debriefing Williams. They walked over, Kaidan taking up the rear.
"We just got word from Nihlus. He wants to meet us up at the spaceport. Are you ready to travel, militiaman, Jenkins?"
"Good, Jenkins, take point."
And we were off once more. Just before passing out of the clearing, I gave one last look back at the path that led back to where I had arrived. The long blades of grass waved limply in the hot breeze, offering no evidence of our passage. Shepard called from up ahead and I turned my back on the scene.