A/N: All right, so I lied about initially posting three one-shots before working on something different, but you know what? I think that this is a better alternative.
Based on a lack of interest on my end, I decided to push my schedule forward in developing a new series in which there will definitely be at least two entries.
Without further ado, I present the first installment in the Rage Inherent series: Metal.
"When humans first ventured into the great void that we know as space, it is safe to say that we had no imagination at the time. We could never conceive of a civilization other than ours as rich and diverse that lay beyond those stars. That, to me, is a sad thought."
-Unknown, 2182 CE
Compared to the rest of its peers, the star Amada was considered relatively unremarkable. A class F star, approximately the size of Sol, not much thought or speculation was given to the system other than the fact that the name had coincidental ties to a particular Egyptian temple.
One of the four planets that orbited this star, Alchera, was nothing more than a lump of dirt and ice. Considered uninhabitable due to its composition of ammonia and methane which passed for its atmosphere, no such attempt had been made to colonize it. Other than a few sparse caches of natural resources, there was absolutely no reason why anyone would want to come in contact with the planet.
Contrary to that logic, the planet suddenly found itself host to a guest as a small metal form winked into existence, its FTL drives flaring down. The ship could have passed for a luxury yacht, given its relative size but it was a case of more than meets the eye.
The Normandy SR-1 was a prototype for the Earth Systems Alliance, cutting edge technology combined with a turian design to create the most advanced ship in the galaxy. The condensed drive core meant that it had the capacity to completely mask its heat emissions, rendering it effectively invisible to enemy craft, unless they looked out the window. For a few months, the Normandy had barely registered on anyone's radar. To them it was just another ship docking at the Citadel, another toy for the humans to fumble with while the rest of the galaxy moved on with the important topics of the day.
Not so any longer. The ship was now a symbol for any race who fell under the Council's banner. The flagship of the human fleet, it played a key role in during the Attack on the Citadel a few months back. People were still talking about it among the Citadel's many levels. "How could the geth attack us here?" "I thought we were safe?"
The casual obliviousness only caused people to panic, and in their panic, they shifted the blame to a group who had only played a minor role in the event. The geth, a race of sentient machines, were not the true masterminds behind the plot. Rather, it was a rogue Spectre named Saren Arterius, who in turn followed another master, Sovereign, a Reaper.
Because Reapers share similarities with geth ships, it was easy for the Council to spin the traumatic series of events on the geth. It was not like they had a say in the matter, they were public enemy number one for whatever good locking them behind the Perseus Veil did. Still, you don't kick your master race off their homeworld and aggressively attack any intruder who chances upon your home and expect no hard feelings to arise.
In this case, the geth were merely scapegoats while the rest of the galaxy tried to assure themselves that what happened was an isolated incident, a freak accident. A Spectre may have tried to take over the Citadel, sure, but rogue geth programs running amok were enough to cause anyone to panic. To appease the worry of the mob, the Council soon appointed their savior, Commander John Shepard, the man who killed Saren in a final showdown, the task of wiping the geth infestation from all corners of the galaxy.
It was considered mundane work. The crew of the Normandy knew all along what really transpired and the fact that their discovery was being swept under the rug secretly infuriated them. They knew that Sovereign was a member of a sentient machine race called Reapers and that more were on the way to harvest everything in the galaxy. But, in some part of their mind, the Council did have a point. The geth were more of a direct threat and since they knew of no other Reaper that they could destroy, they would just have to settle for a few geth bases.
Which is why they were now orbiting around Alchera, mindlessly scanning the planet for any signs of geth activity. Despite the fact that what they did was dangerous work, everyone on board the Normandy was fatigued at the menial labor. They had become so accustomed to the routine of shooting geth that it offered no challenge anymore. It only got interesting when they stumbled across a wrecked ship, or a pirate hideout. Geth were too predictable to eliminate, too easy.
The Normandy righted itself as it prepared to scan more of the area. The intel reported that at least four ships had gone missing in the system, so there was some evidence of activity here. What disappointed the crew the most was a false trail, a dead end. When you spend the last few hours preparing for a mission only to find out that there was no objective, it tends to grate on your morale a bit. The crew needed to vent, they needed something to shoot at.
As the Normandy readjusted its scanner, a brilliant beam of yellow light seemed to materialize from the star Amada itself. Before anyone could react, the light touched the right wing of the craft, demolishing it, and sending it spiraling helplessly out of control. Another beam raked across the hull, breaching it and introduced its passengers to the icy cold embrace of space itself. The originator of the yellow light finally came into view as its massive form blocked out the sun. Positioning itself above the stricken Normandy, it continued to rain down its assault, furiously trying to blot out its existence.
The deck rumbled as it took another hit. The crew was scrambling all over the place, knocking into each other in their panic. To Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, the pandemonium was unlike anything she'd ever experienced. She had witnessed lockdowns aboard the flotilla before but nothing as serious as a crashing ship. Her heart pounded in her chest, she was deathly afraid.
Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko rushed past her, yelling at her to get to the escape pod but she wasn't listening. She needed to get to the commander, her captain.
When she had first met the human, Tali had been taken in by his charismatic attitude and courtesy whenever he addressed her. Not to mention that the first time they had laid eyes on one another was when he rescued her from a botched information deal by thugs paid off by Saren Arterius. When the quarian proved valuable to his mission, she had desperately asked to come along, perhaps for more reasons than she initially let on but that was beside the point. There was a duty expected of her and she had intended to follow it through.
And what an adventure it turned out to be! Flying in the sleekest, the most technologically advanced ship she had ever seen, or perhaps would ever see, seeing a plethora of new worlds beyond her wildest dreams, partaking in several brutal firefights, the list went on. Her accomplishments eventually numbered so high that she had trouble remembering all of them sometimes. The speed at which her life had turned around had left her dizzy and breathless, and it was because of this human that made it all possible.
It was this human who she now ran to, currently exiting the main battery. His helmet was on and she couldn't see his face but she could tell exactly who he was from the way he walked (a skill that came with being a quarian) and the N7 armor he wore, a symbol of his advanced training. She stopped in front of him, panting, eyes shining through her purple visor as the ship rocked for the umpteenth time.
"Shepard!" she gasped. "There you are! I was beginning to wo-"
She stumbled as the Normandy bumped as their relentless pursuer continued to fire. Commander Shepard thrust out a hand to steady Tali before she went crashing into a bulkhead.
"No need to worry, Tali," he acknowledged. "Just sent out the comm buoy. All we can do now is wait."
"You really think the Alliance will come for us?"
The human came to put a hand on her shoulder, a comforting gesture that she found soothing, but only when he did it for some reason, "They won't abandon us, if that's what you're thinking. Did everyone else get to safety?"
Tali shook her head, "No, Joker is still aboard."
"Damn it," Shepard grimaced. "Then I'll go get him out."
"Not alone you're not, Shepard. I'm not leaving without you."
Was there something beyond the quarian's statement that gave it that hard edge? There was definitely a meaning other than loyalty behind her assertiveness. She had definitely changed from being just a meek pilgrim. She was now her own independent person and her determination only served to give whatever suspicious he had a definite conclusiveness.
There was no time to reflect on it now, "Joker will keep sitting in that damn chair until the thing blows up around him. I have to get him out, Tali. It's way too dangerous for you to come along."
"Are you deliberately trying to go down with the ship?"
"I'll be fine, Tali. Just focus on getting yourself to safety, okay?"
Her head hung as she steadied herself, "Just…" Shaking her head, she started to back away, "You better be right out."
Shepard almost laughed at the fact that she practically gave him an order but he reasoned that the attitudes of people changes in frightening situations. Surely this qualified. Giving her arm a gentle pat, he started to run towards the staircase at the far end of the ship as Tali wheeled down the hall towards the escape pods.
Shepard threw up an arm to protect him from the gout of flame that completely engulfed the table in the mess. The ship was rapidly falling apart. He needed to get to the cockpit, soon.
The left staircase was blocked by debris so he ran up the right, taking the stairs two at a time until he came to the door which barred the entrance. Standing perfectly still for a moment as the door cycled, he suddenly felt a tug at his body as the entire outside world now became silent as the air was sucked out of the deck. The reason for this disruption was the fact that there was now an enormous hole where the roof should be. The CIC was in complete disarray, random objects floated aimlessly. Shepard's boots had been magnetized so that he wouldn't float away but he still found the lack of gravity disorienting.
Pushing aside a floating chair, he could see the cockpit had been environmentally sealed to avoid the deadly vacuum. Joker had crammed his trademark pilot's cap into a helmet so that his lungs would not implode from the sudden absence of oxygen. The man was frantically tapping away at the controls, even as they sparked in his face. Shepard finally reached the area where gravity was still active, deactivating his mag boots for quicker action, and tapped Joker on the shoulder. The pilot turned and saw the intimidating sight of Shepard in his armor and did a double take.
"Joker!" Shepard yelled. "Come on!"
The man emphatically shook his head, "No! I'm not abandoning the Normandy, Shepard! I can still save her."
Shepard leaned over and grabbed the neck of his shirt, "Look around you! The Normandy's gone but you're not going with it. It may not feel like the right thing but we need you, Joker. Now unstrap yourself and let's get out of here."
Joker wilted in his seat, still torn at the thought of leaving the ship that he had come to love. "Yeah, okay," he muttered numbly. "Help me out of here."
Trying to ignore the rapidly approaching wall of flame that was in the background, Shepard grabbed the slim man and limped over to the nearby pod door. Joker groaned as his weak bones strained from the abuse but kept any snarky comments to himself. The door opened at the duo's presence and Shepard gingerly helped Joker inside. Before he could clamber aboard, he suddenly felt himself rising as the entire deck started to shift.
Shepard tapped at a control for his mag-boots but he was now floating in the air at this point, there was nothing for him to attach to. A surge in the ship caused him to careen off course, towards the opposite wall, far away from the pod. Joker watched the entire scene unfold, mouth agape as the man tried to readjust.
"Shepard!" Joker yelled but was cut off as the now characteristic yellow beam was thrust between them, melting the deck where Shepard had occupied only seconds before. There was no other option at this point, the ship was disintegrating too fast and he was unable to reach the pod now. Positioning himself next to the pod controls, he slammed his fist on the eject button and winced at Joker's howl of abandonment as the door closed. Shortly later, he heard the familiar thump as it separated away from the Normandy.
Shepard smiled under the helmet, he had done his duty to the best of his ability. He had saved as many people as he could. He only regretted that his final words to Tali were a lie, that he would not make it after all. Would she understand his position? Being a quarian, surely she was familiar with the duties of a captain to his crew. It was a simple decision yet he felt conflicted about lying to the poor girl.
Any train of thought on the matter was cut off as he was buffeted around by the orange flames that ballooned all around him. One particular blast sent him flying into a wall, stunning him. He shook his head as he winced, he most likely had a concussion now. Metal and pieces of debris were flying past him at breakneck speed as he cleared the ship itself in time to see it disappear in a fiery blaze that brightened his world for what seemed like an eternity.
The pressure from the explosion slammed into his body and he felt a burning sensation in his left leg. He glanced down and his eyes widened in horror. His leg was gone, missing. A jagged piece of metal must have been flung in his direction by the blast, cutting it off. His suit automatically applied a layer of medi-gel around the breach, sealing his body from space. It didn't help as he started to feel cold from where his stump was exposed, a faint white of bone jutted out from where skin used to cover it.
He detected more movement and Shepard tried to maneuver himself out of the way but it was too late. Another flash of silver passed by and Shepard could only stare at the stump of his arm as crystallized blood frosted in front of his face. He felt no pain from his maimed limbs as shock began to take hold but began to scream nonetheless, the sound only echoing within his helmet. His vision became blurry as the combination of losing two limbs began to affect him, his motions becoming weaker.
The light from Amada flickered in his vision. It overpowered everything that he could perceive, it was breathtaking. He felt calm overpower his body as he succumbed to his fate, to float endlessly in this position for all time. It would be a fitting end for a man of Commander Shepard's stature.
Suddenly, another spinning piece of metal cast a shadow over him, causing him to momentarily frown in frustration as it headed towards his face.
A/N: If this seems a little familiar to you, then I suggest you wait until the next chapter before you cast your opinion. I have a few plot points planned out for this that are exciting to me, to say the least, and I look forward to sharing them with you.
And on that bombshell, *claps hands together* let's get to work.