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Mass Effect Loops
"Shepard, this is a terrible idea," Garrus deadpanned at the commander. The two were currently waiting at the Normandy airlock with a third party in tow. They had an appointment with the council.
Shepard gave a smirk, "You're thinking too negatively, Garrus. Everything will work out fine."
Garrus looked at the Rachni queen and muttered under his breath, "I hope so. Otherwise, we'll be in for the firefight of our lives."
The female C-Sec customs officer pinched her nose, "Look, I don't care if your a spectre. I am not letting you through to the presidium with a live Rachni."
Silently, she pondered where the hell they found a living Rachni. Shepard leaned against the desk, "Look, contact either the council or Executor Pallin, we're expected for a meeting discussing the creation of an Embassy for the Rachni Swarm. Help me out, or I will see to it that you're working a desk job in the deepest bowls of C-Sec for the rest of your life."
In the back of her head, the officer was fuming, but she just gave a strained smile, "Very well, I will speak to my supervisor."
Better to give it to the next person up the chain, this was above her pay grade anyway.
"I'm sorry commander," The Asari supervisor gave her sincerest smile she could muster, "But we can't allow you through to the presidium with a live Rachni. Safety regulations state-"
Garrus coughed, "I know the regulations inside and out, Seargent T'Nek, and the Rachni are not covered."
T'Nek shook her head, "Regulations state that no species that has been barred from Citadel space can interact on the presidium."
Garrus grinned, "The Rachni are not on that list."
And thus, the back and forth between the officer and Garrus took the better part of an hour before Sgt. T'Nek offered to speak to her supervisor. Garrus, meanwhile, went to Shepard and sat down beside him, sighing, "I hate it when they give us the runabout. We'll probably be here for the better part of a day just to get to the presidium, never mind near the council."
The rust colored planet filled the viewport. Shepard's grin was more appropriate on a Cheshire kitten about to pounce on grandma's canary. Behind him stood a white haired woman sporting a light blue highlight and a sky blue armor set, "So let me get this straight. You want me to, 'go wild' with my explosions?"
Shepard nodded, "We'll need to recover Vigil first, but we have quite some time before our guests arrive. In fact, here's what we'll do..."
Tali placed a hand on her helmet's faceplate and moaned, "Oh no..."
Saren cursed as another explosion rocked his hovercraft as a Geth colossus set off another mine. Ilos should have been abandoned, easy pickings for his geth troops, but instead it was covered in mines that reacted to any form of mass effect technology or booby-trapped doors. Worse, they couldn't take their time and sweep the area for mines since Commander Shepard would no doubt be right on his tail after Vermire. Instead, he committed many of his troops to walking in single filed line to clear a safe passage to the conduit. This way, he suffered far fewer casualties than he feared, but the damage was already done.
By the time he reached the Conduit, he had lost over half his forces to booby-traps. Upon approaching the conduit, he had a thought that the device itself may be booby trapped as well, and indeed upon careful examination, it was. If he had tried activating the conduit, the power would have been routed through the mother of all bombs, destroying a good portion of the surrounding 2 mile radius. With the bomb disarmed, the conduit was ready for use. With the manipulation of several controls, the device hummed to life as the Prothean relay rings started spinning.
But just as the rings reached critical mass and was ready for use, a last minute subroutine activated. It sent out a signal to the surrounding area, lighting up several recently buried nuclear fusion bombs. Saren didn't even have time to blink as the area was torn apart by countless explosive fireballs the reduced the area to glass.
The blast could be seen from high orbit as the rolling fireball expanded across the oxygen rich planet, destroying everything remaining of the rust colored planet. The female passenger shrugged as she looked out the cockpit to the destroyed planet below, "Not the most impressive explosion she's ever seen, but Trixie will take any pictures for her scrapbook."
Shepard, on the other hand, rested in his personal quarters, watching the explosion from several recently planted cameras on the surface before they suffered the same fate as the Geth. The feed switched to an exterior camera which observed the rolling fireball across the planet. He would have to compile it, add some music to the background, and share it with Garrus next loop he was awake.
Garrus blinked as the planet's burning inferno finally died down and the video cut to black. He looked at his commanding officer and asked, "Really? The 1812 Overture?"
Applejack looked to her "brother" this Loop. He was as big as Big Mac, but he was grey with a white mane in a corn-row style. His cutie mark retained Big Mac's half apple, but there was an addition of a blade, giving the impression of having cut it in half.
"It seems I have become a horse," the newcomer said flatly to himself.
"Pony," corrected Applejack. "We can be a mite bit touchy on the proper name."
"I'm Applejack by the way."
"Sten. Though the Loop memories tell me that I'm called Big Slicer." Applejack nodded, then filled him in on Equestria's usual operations. Later, they discovered another Looper, whom Sten had apparently met before.
"You know what's weird about this one?" said the former Krogan.
"Aside from you being a small rabbit?"
"Yeah, besides that. From what I hear, the rabbit could be an honourary Krogan!"
Meanwhile, in another Loop...
Shepard was both amused and surprised to find Wrex had been replaced, as his replacement was a white Krogan who only seemed to speak in sign language and had introduced himself as "Angel." However, Angel's ability to leap around the battlefield dispensing pain with a carrot-shaped rocket launcher was far too amusing to leave him on the ship. Ever.
"So let me get this straight. The three of you are thieves."
"Yep, that's right Garrus." Sly replied, with Bentley and Murray nodding in agreement. "We limit ourselves to stealing from other thieves though, for the most part. No challenge or fun in stealing from regular people."
Garrus checked his Loop memories for information on this one. Apparently he was a member of Interpol's forces that had typically chased after the Cooper gang for a while now, and unlike his home Loop, he wasn't Turian anymore. He had become a bird of some description. Bentley would later show him that he had become a crow. His equivalent to Carmelita's Shock Pistol was the same kind of weapon, just based on a sniper rifle instead of a pistol.
"You know; if I wasn't Awake for this, I'd probably be trying to arrest you right about now." Garrus said, looking himself over. "So how do these Loops normally go?"
"Well, first off there's the Fiendish Five, a bunch of criminals that killed my parents and stole my family's greatest treasure." Sly explained.
"There should be a file in your office safe on the group." Bentley added, "Following that, there's the Klaww Gang incident. There's one moment we typically take measures to avoid if any of us can help it right at the end of that one."
"And that is?" Garrus asked, looking like he'd raised an eyebrow.
"Right after we finish off the last of the Klaww Gang, we need to get hold of this one part from what they'll try to build." Murray replied.
"It's a computer chip of sorts, fuelled by unrelenting hatred." Sly added. "We have to break it to make sure that the thing they build can't come back."
"Why aren't the three of you telling me what their final plan is?" Garrus asked.
"We figure that the first time a Looper enters our world, we'll give them a basic rundown, but we'll normally leave out some of the surprises." Sly replied, "Anyway, the thing we try to avoid is an injury that Bentley would receive in the Baseline."
"Long story short, getting the Hate Chip is the last time I'm not in a wheelchair." Bentley added, a little sullen. "Thanks to Sly though, and Murray when he's Awake, we're normally able to keep that from happening."
"We get the occasional misses on that goal, but about 9 times out of 10 we're able to keep him from being wheelchair bound." Sly finished.
"Hmm, looks like I've got a lot to look forward too." Garrus replied. "So, you want me to join you for this one, or are we playing Cops and Robbers?"
"If you're willing to give us the file either way, it's up to you." Sly said with a grin. "Could be interesting to face an Inspector that's a non-native Looper."
Clone Shepard expected a lot of things when meeting the original. There was rage and resentment or pleading and attempts to befriend, but when he attempted to take Staff Seargant Brooks hostage to trick Shepard into surrendering his firearms, the commander just gave a smug grin and started whistling a very annoying tune and singing, "Trololololo, lololo, lololo lolololol."
Some of his crew just sighed, others grinned along with Shepard especially the Quarian who seemed to be chuckling and the Turian who both sighed and smiled. Uncertain how to handle this, he took advantage of the scenario and shot Shepard's pistol from his hand.
The Spectre didn't even seem phased when the clone jumped from the walkway to the ground floor below. He just had that irritating smirk on his face as he kept whistling, even as Clone Shepard talked about his background. When Clone Shepard finished, real Shepard pulled up his Omnitool and shouted, "Traynor, this is Shepard. Activate protocol Charlie Dash One Alpha. Here are my command codes," and sent the ship an encoded signal.
The clone countered a few seconds later, "Good idea. Unfortunately, the transmission was blocked. Traynor, this is Shepard, prep the Normandy for Emergency Departure. We're leaving. Transmitting the command codes now."
He failed to notice Shepard's grin grow even wider as Traynor acknowledged the command. Real Shepard said, "So what do you say to a race? First one to the Normandy gets the ship?"
Clone Shepard shook his head, "You're not going to leave this room alive. Execute them, the Cult of Shepard ends today."
Shepard's grin grew even wider, "Now there's an idea for later."
Tali rubbed her helmet, "No, Shepard, you're not."
The clone's plans fell perfectly into place. Sacrifice Rapier Squad and the rest, luring Shepard into the Iridium vaults and seal them within. But even as the vault sealed with Shepard within, the spectre kept whistling that obnoxious song and singing.
As he approached the Normandy, he had a twitch feeling that something was wrong. After being decontaminated and the door opening, he found himself facing several hundred Alliance Marines with that obnoxious whistle echoing across the ship. The marines parted, allowing a smug Shepard to step forward, whistling that song. Clone Shepard could only gawk, "How...?"
The whistling ended as the real one started talking, "Those 'command codes' I sent were actually a numbers of a scenario I drilled into my crew should I ever be captured and the users attempted to get my access codes. Surely you don't think you're the only one who ever attempted to steal my ship, do you?"
Brooks was brought forth, already in cuffs, "And how'd you escape the vault and beat us to the ship?"
The enigmatic commander just grinned, "A little trick I learned a thousand years ago. It's too complicated for you to understand, so I won't overload your brains. Take them away."
After they had left and the rest of Shepard's crew had finally arrived, also shocked to see Shepard already at the ship, Shepard, Tali, Garrus and Wrex took a seat in the mess and sent everyone out. Soon, they were all laughing and imitating their favorite parts. Garrus leaned into Shepard and whispered, "When the Council sees the video that you never left the vaults, they'll be asking questions. How will you explain your shadow clones?"
Tali's voice was smug, "They will find every camera between the Normandy and the vaults are strangely malfunctioning and they can't get any usable data from them. C-Sec really should upgrade their systems soon."
Wrex gave a gruff laugh, "Not all of us can hack Reapers, Quarian."
As one, the four loopers raised their various drinks and a clink echoed in the mess hall.
No one knew what caused the Shroud to start falling apart. The STG sabotage, a reaper hanging on the building, or Kalros rampaging nearby, it could have been anyone of them. All Mordin knew was that this was a one way trip. Once he entered that elevator, he wouldn't be coming down. Or, so he thought until Shepard grabbed the Salarian, "Mordin wait, take these."
The Salarian blinked in confusion. The designs was archaic, at least 150 years out of date, but looked brand new. Shepard gave that confident grin of his, "Come back alive."
Shepard stood outside the tower, watching and hoping that the plan would work. At the top of the tower, a small explosion shattered the viewport as something threw itself off the top. An instant later, the tower shook as explosions traveled up the side of the structure. However, the tower did its purpose as the cure rained down across Tuchanka. A minute later, something else landed in the wake of the cure. Shepard gave a grin as he gripped his friend's shoulder, "Glad you made it, Mordin."
Mordin was almost speechless for once, "A parachute and a shaped charge, one to blast out the viewport, one to survive the landing. And to have to readily available at any given moment. Never saw you with the pack during our mission, only armed with your weapons."
With a deep sniff, he looked Shepard in the eyes, "How did you know?"
Shepard gave a grin as he helped the former STG operative out of the parachute, "I have a story to tell you when we get back to the ship, of another time, another place where I lost one of my best friends. Come on, let's head back to the ship."
Once they had returned, Shepard told Mordin about how time was repeating itself. Mordin, in turn, provided Shepard with a sample of the cure to give to his younger self along with the data. As Shepard slipped the data slate into his pocket, he couldn't help but grin. With this, Mordin and Shepard could cure the Genophage years before the reapers returned.
Shepard pushed his way through the Krogan victory party that welcomed them and plopped down on the nearest bar stool, his body still dripping with a questionable liquid, "Rycol, your strongest stuff right now!"
Grunt gave a bellowing laugh, "Warmaster, you look like you had fun taking on that reaper."
Shepard glared at him as he downed the Rycol as if it were nothing, "Kalros decided to show affection for me."
Wrex gave his rumbling chuckle, "That is a great honor, Shepard. To date, Kalros has eaten or destroyed just about everything that crossed its path. To be licked by the mother of all Thresher Maws instead of consumed shows you have Tuchanka's blessing."
Tali gave a smirk behind her visor, "I even got a picture."
Shepard sighed, "Traitor."
Wrex ordered a shot and down it immediately. Shepard looked at his glass and sighed. Wrex gave the human a slap on the back, getting Shepard to flinch in pain, "I like this loop. Having Thresher Maws replaced by those Kaiju from that Japan loop definitely make things more challenging than they've been in a long time. Maybe Earth has Kaiju this loop too. Kalros tore through that reaper like it wasn't even there, I'm sure Godzilla would take care of all our problems."
Shepard planted his head on the bar and groaned.
The combined might of the Citadel fleets encircled Ilos. They had mined the Mass Effect Relay as additional insurance to make sure their subject wouldn't be able to escape. A dozen of the finest spectres were groundside backed by enough waves of fighter drones to blot out the sun. Every drone shone their spotlights on a single woman in a vibrant red trenchcoat and a red fedora. Commander Shepard and newly appointed Spectre, Garrus Vakarian, were standing at the front. Shepard gave his patented grin, "Have you say, Carmen, you led us on quite a chase across the galaxy. You have the boys on Palevan frothing at the mouth to get you in an interrogation cell after hijacking a Turian fleet, the Asari Matriarchs all wanting your head on a spike for stealing the statue of their goddess, the Daletrass ordering your immediate execution on sight for stealing the Genophage data and curing the Krogan."
Garrus checked his thermal clip, "Stealing the Citadel though, I'm not sure how to classify that crime. Terrorism, crimes against sentient species, whatever it is I'm sure they'll lock you up for the rest of your life and, after dying, the executor will hang your remains in his office. But the Citadel wasn't your climax event, but instead the opening act. With each theft, you've left us clues which lead us here. Stealing Vigil would be too small for a thief like yourself. What are you planning?"
Carmen lowered her fedora as a smirk graced her face, "As intuitive as ever, detective. That's why you were assigned my case back at C-Sec, the greatest detective against the greatest thief. Now bear witness."
Fog started rolling in from every direction, causing every spectre to open fire to prevent her potential escape. Carmen exploded into smoke, causing Shepard to whistle, "Looks like shadow clones. She's looping. Might explain the Citadel if her pocket is big enough."
The fog got deeper and deeper until no one could see anything even as they ran around every which way trying to find where Carmen had gotten off to. This continued for about an hour when the fog finally started dissipating, only for the mass of spectres to find themselves in a fog covered bay of the Destiny Ascension. The gathered spectres ran to the bridge, surprising the Ascension's crew. When they reached the bridge, dead silence reigned as everyone looked out the viewport. They could only stare at the vast emptiness of space where Ilos had been moments before.
One of the Spectres on point, Jondum Bau, waved his hand at Tela Vasir, who grumbled as she passed over a cred chit, causing Shepard to snort out a laugh.
2.1 - More Bureaucracy at it's finest
2.2 - Saren should have practiced more CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
2.3 - Nothing goes together like classical music and exploding planets
2.4 - Wrex starts looping, and you do not screw with Angel Bunny
2.5 - Garrus Vakarian, Ace Inspector people
2.6 - Trolling the Clone
2.7 - The loops just got a bit easier, thanks to a little prep work
2.8 - Kalros apparently likes Shepard, and Shepard is not amused
2.9 - Where in Mass Effect is Carmen Sandiego?