Chapter Twenty-One - Resolutions
Everfree Forest, Equestria
July 15th, 2170
The Everfree Forest sat on the eastern borders of the nation of Equestria, and it was avoided by nearly everypony whenever possible. It was a place of dark, unnatural things and creatures that crept in the shadows. So many stories had arisen about the forest that it had long since been forgotten which were truth and which were legend.
In the end, it didn't really matter. If you want to live a long and full life, it was a good idea to avoid the Everfree at all cost.
It was unfortunate that the Batarians didn't lend any credence to such tales.
When Carlok had been contacted by the leader of the human mercenaries, he had found himself torn. On one hand, he despised humanity. They had done more to hurt the Batarian race in twenty years than all of the rest of the Council Races combined in two-thousand years. On the other hand, Equestria was a prize unlike any other. To return to Khar'shan with a bounty of captured Equestrians would see him rising the ranks of order.
He liked the idea of having a seat at the table.
In the end the mere thought of such wealth and prosperity was too much for him to resist. He would live like a king after this was done!
The plan had been incredibly simple to arrange as soon as Carlok had agreed. Matriarch Ceyrta Merely was the absolute perfect opportunity, and they had taken it happily. The ship had been completely unarmed, and intercepting it between the Arcturus Relay and the Equestrian Sphere had been an extremely simple matter. The Asari never even knew what hit them. Between Carlok's soldiers and the human mercenaries, it had been quick, if bloody work.
The human mercenaries had taken a life pod as soon as they had hit the atmosphere, going on to their own mission (which they had refused to talk about) while Carlok and his soldiers continued on to the small the mercenaries had picked out as the best distraction, someplace called Ponyville.
According to plan, they had preformed a fast drop just outside of the town's limits before remotely detonating the ship to cause as much chaos and confusion as possible.
They had worked quickly, gathering as many together as they could and sedating them before tossing them into the bags they had brought.
When the Alicorns had arrived in Ponyville, Carlok knew that there was only one choice. To stay and fight would mean death, but fleeing into the forest would mean that they would be able to escape the wretched planet with their precious goods. The mercenaries had spoken about legends surrounding the forest, and the one thing that had stuck out to him was how no one dared to ever enter it.
That worked perfectly well for him.
The order had spread quickly, and near fifty of his men followed him into the Everfree, only half of those that he had brought with him.
Shifting his bag higher on his shoulder, Carlok ignored the small bit of fear that had begun to grow in the pit of his stomach. The trees rose all around them, blotting out the stars with their towering branches, and each shadow looked like it hid a nightmare.
"Quiet," Carlok hissed, quickly locating the dissenter. Unsurprising to him, it was one of the youngest in his company and the lowest of all of them. He growled at the bastard's gall.
"What's the point?" The boy shouted, ignoring all wisdom and smarts. "We're lost!"
Raising his rifle, Carlok felt no remorse as he shot the boy dead. It was better than he deserved, but there was no time to give him the proper punishments. It was a shame. He truly enjoyed hearing the screams of those who defied him.
"Does anybody else have any problems?" He asked, looking over the rest of his subordinates.
Wisely, nobody responded to his question.
"Didn't think so." He rolled his eyes at the cowards. He pointed at the closest to the dead boy. "You pick up his load."
"Keep moving!" Carlok ignored the Batarians anger and turned to the rest of his company. "They won't follow us in here. They're afraid of the forest."
The Batarians all laughed at that, a loud, nervous sound. It was just a forest after all… right?
Clutching their weapons just a little bit tighter, they continued their journey. The sooner that they could leave the forest, the better they would all be.
Moving through the woods was difficult and hard-going. They had to fight against the tangling underbrush, which seemed to try and rip their feet out from under them and lead them off in paths that would mean certain death.
They tried to avoid the memories of the stories that their grandmothers used to tell them on the cold winter nights on Khar'shan. They tried to forget the hidden and nameless horrors that only the Pillars of Strength could guard their souls against. Ancient horrors that called forests such as this their home.
The roar from behind made half of the company drop to the ground in prayer. The other half spun with their rifles raised.
The creature that they found behind made them pause.
It was a towering beast, appearing feline, standing nearly twenty feet tall, a pair of large, leather wings spreading out behind it, a show of dominance that was nearly as frightening as the rest of it. A long, insectile tail whipped through the air behind it, and the whole company was careful to keep their eye on the deadly point at the end. It was a nightmare come to life, and they wondered just what other stories their grandmothers had been telling the truth about.
Before Carlok could shout any orders, the beast roared again and charged. He didn't need to give any command it turned out. Survival instincts were a powerful thing, and the Batarians needed no help with that.
Even as they filled the beast with holes, it grabbed the closest Batarian. With another roar, he ripped him in two as if he were nothing more than a twig.
Sighting down his rifle, Carlok shot a burst through the beast's skull. It dropped to the ground soundlessly, dead. It's impressive muscles had been reduced to nothing more than a pile of ground meat.
Silence fell over the forest, and the entire company took a moment to catch their breaths. That certainly had not been what they had expected, but all in all, Carlok thought that they had all handled it rather well.
"Keep moving," Carlok said, rattled. He shifted his bag higher on his shoulder, and checked the ammo block in his rifle. It was still more than two thirds of the way full, more than enough for anymore run ins with the forest's denizens. Even after nearly two hours of use, the rifle was more than perfectly usable. It was a testament to Turian engineering. Only the best was good enough for his needs.
Though they were more timid then they had been moments before, the company continued onwards.
The forest was silent, and it loomed even more than it had before the beast had attacked them. Carlok could not escape the feeling like there were eyes watching him, and a shiver rolled down his sign.
"Do you hear that?" Pem turned to his friend and asked. They were both too low in the system to own any slaves of their own, but they lived comfortable, if sparse lives.
"It's nothing." Gham shook his head at Pem, glaring. "Quiet! You'll get us both killed."
"No!" Pem angled his rifle up at the sky, keeping a wary watch over the trees above them. "Listen! Something's out there."
Both Batarians paused, looking up at the forest.
"It's nothing," Gham murmured back to him after a moment, hefting his bag higher. He wanted nothing more than to be out of the forest, back on Khar'shan, away from all of this madness. He was really regretting ever agreeing to Carlok's promises. "You're hearing things."
Near silent, something fast and predatory sliced through the air above the company. If it hadn't been for the audio enhancements inside of their helmets, they never would have heard it.
"Silence!" Carlok ordered over the short-range radio. Raising his rifle, he scanned the treetops and the rest of his company followed his example.
"What was that?" Pem took a shuddering breath, hating the recycled air of his armor. He wanted to breath the fresh forest air, but there wasn't any chance of that happening soon.
"Shut up!" Gham punched his friend's shoulder, never taking all four of his eyes off the sky. "You're going to get us all killed!"
"This is crazy!" A Batarian freaked out several feet away from them. He wasn't someone that Pem or Gham knew, he was too far above them for that. "We're all going to die!"
Dropping his bag, he turned and ran from the company, heading into the shadows.
"Bastard!" Carlok shouted after him, not that it did much good.
The deserter disappeared into the dark, screaming and gibbering the entire time. His words quickly faded into the distance, and the rest of the company shifted uneasily.
A moment later, a horrific crack of thunder rang out through the woods, followed by a blinding flash of light that lit up the entire area like it was day. The deserter screamed, a terrifying, soul shaking sound that shook the entire company to their core.
"Shit!" Gham tried his best to avoid throwing down his rifle and running the opposite direction. "Shit!"
"I told you I heard something!" For all of his righteous vindication at being right, he would have no qualms about fleeing in absolute terror with his friend.
"Fire!" Carlok shouted, squeezing the trigger of his rifle. He sprayed a hail of micro sized projectiles into the woods, paying no mind to the rapidly heating barrel of his rifle. It would be ruined, but what did it matter if he didn't kill whatever had killed the deserter.
All of the Batarians followed Carlok's order, opening fire on the direction of all of the noise and light came from. The sheer amount of firepower shredded apart the trees and bushes like they weren't even there. It is over in only a minute, but by the time that they had finished, they had created a new clearing in the forest.
Once more, everything fell silent in the forest.
The company was still for several long moments, waiting to see if they had killed whatever had destroyed the deserter.
With a sigh, Carlok stood, glad that his gloves were heat resistant. His rifle was glowing nearly cherry red and he knew without a doubt that he would have to replace it as soon as possible. Still, if it had saved his life we would keep it with the rest of his trophies. Anything that had saved his life definitely deserved to be honored.
Before any of the others could do anything, the Empress of Equestria dropped from the sky into the clearing that they had just made, eyes glowing a furious white. Her mane and tail burned with the fury of the sun, scorching the very earth around her.
"Kill her!" Carlok shouted, raising his rifle again. He wasn't sure that it was even going to be able to fire, but maybe luck would be on his side. Returning with the body of the ruler of Equestria would bring him more prestige than he had ever imagined.
The Batarians once again opened fire, but the bullets had absolutely no effect on her. They struck her with all of the effect of spitballs against a dreadnought.
Ignoring the gunfire, Celestia took a step forward, the ground burning under her hooves. Turning her glowing eyes on Carlok, her horn ignited with golden magic.
Before any of the Batarians could react, Celestia shot out beams of light that struck all of their hearts. Burning through the armor, it flash-boiled them inside of their armor.
Princess Luna dropped into the clearing as all of the Batarians dropped dead to the ground. She looked over them, horrified by the sight of what her sister had done.
"Celestia!" Luna cried out, memories of that night almost one-thousand years ago filling her mind. "Tia!"
For a long moment, Luna did not think that her sister heard her. She instead stared over the bodies in front of her.
"Tia!" Luna took a step forward, ignoring the immense heat pouring off of her sister. "You must stop this at once!"
Blinking, Celestia turned and noticed her sister for the first time. For a moment, it looked like she wasn't going to listen, but after taking a breath she let go of her magic, letting it dissipate. She turned her gaze dispassionately back over the Batarians.
She didn't say anything as she stepped forward, her face blank as a thousand emotions all fought for dominance inside of her. Celestia stopped in front of the closest Batarian. Using her hoof, she carelessly pushed him off of the bag that he had fall upon. Lifting it up and opening it with her magic, Celestia ever so gently pulled out the Equestrians inside. A white filly with three diamonds for a cutie mark, an older pink mare, and a teenage pegasus.
Luna looked over the death and destruction that Celestia had caused. It was horrible, terrifying, a step too far, but Luna understood. Faust take her, but she completely understood, and she could not judge her sister for what she had done.
"Tia…" Luna murmured.
"I don't…" Celestia ever so gently placed the ponies on top of a bed that she conjured, erecting a wall of dirt between them and the rather gruesome sight that she had caused. She looked back at Luna with a pair of the most pitiful eyes that the mare had ever seen. "They were taking My Little Ponies."
Luna stepped forward, nuzzling her sister comfortingly. There was nothing she could say. All she could do was be there.
They stood there for what felt like an eternity, taking comfort in each other.
A trio of Lunar Guards landed in the clearing, having followed after the Princesses at a much slower pace. There were very few beings who could match the speed of an enraged Alicorn. Seeing the carnage before them, they felt disgust and horror, shocked, but they quickly pushed it off. They had a job to do after all.
"Princesses." The highest ranking of the Lunar Guard stepped forward, pushing down the horror and disgust that he felt. There were bigger things happening after all.
Celestia and Luna turned to look at the guards.
"There has been an attack on the castle," he said, his voice calm and even despite the rage that coursed through him. Someone had dared to attack his home, and he felt defiled.
Both Celestia and Luna froze, turning their entire attention solely onto the guards.
"Explain," Luna said icily.
"There was an assassination attempt on Riley Shepard's life."
"What?" Celestia felt overwhelmed. How much more could go wrong in a single night? She looked at Luna with shock and worry, seeing the same expression on her face before she turned back to the guard. "Is she alright? Are they alright?"
"There are casualties," the guard said.
"Who?" Luna asked, her wings flaring uncomfortably. She watched as Celestia pawed at the ground.
"The reports are still coming in." The Lunar Guard shook his head.
"Go, Tia," Luna said. She knew that there were very few things that took a higher importance in her sister's mind than her faithful student. "I shall take care of all of this."
"Thank you, Luna," Celestia murmured, darting forward to give her sister a thankful nuzzle.
"Go." Luna gestured in the direction of the castle. "May Faust grant you the swiftness of all of the winds."
Spreading her wings, Celestia took flight, breaking the sound barrier as she sped back to the castle.
Royal Castle, Canterlot, Equestria
Rainbow Dash didn't like seeing Riley like this. She was tall, and strong, and she wasn't supposed to get hurt! From her spot curled up protectively by their side, Rainbow looked up at her sister. Riley was unconscious on the hospital bed, and several feet away doctors were trying to figure out what has happening to her. They had tried to make her go away, but Rainbow let out a proud snort. There was no way she would ever leave Riley when she was hurt!
All of the ponies that had been present inside of Twilight's tower had been rushed to the Castle's hospital room, all of them getting checked over by panicked doctors. Nothing like that had ever happened before on Equestrian soil, and they simply weren't prepared to deal with the trauma.
"It doesn't make any sense!" Doctor Wild Strike struggled to make sense of what all of his scans, magical and technological, were telling him. "This shouldn't be possible!"
"It's not like we're experts." Doctor Night Berry shrugged. It was unprecedented, but they simply did not have the experience with biotics to know anything other than that. "The Matriarchs are our best option for understanding this."
"Whether it makes sense or not, it happened." Sweet Tooth frowned, shaking her head. As a mage with the Royal College, she had learned more about magic in twenty years than most ever learned in a lifetime. That wasn't much help with Biotic oddities. "Somehow, this girl is a functioning biotic without any form of amplifier."
"That's not true." Wild Strike shook his head, holding up the x-rays that he had taken. "There's something there, but its not an amp…"
"Unicorn foals have been known to use their magic to do amazing feats in times of great danger…" Sweet Tooth studied Riley face, chewing on her lip. It was a stretch, and it sounded weak even to her.
"Yes." Night Berry nodded, looking over the x-ray Wild Strike was holding up. "But we aren't talking about escaping from a burning building. She ran into a room with no training and killed eleven highly trained mercenaries without blinking an eye! That's not something any untrained unicorn could do, but we're not talking about magic. This is biotics, and despite some similarities, they are not the same thing."
"So we're stuck waiting until we get a reply from Thessia?" Wild Strike didn't like waiting. Ponies died when he had to wait. "I know that it's a long shot… Could it have been related to anything magical? Could Equestria itself have caused this to happen?"
Sweet Tooth had to think about that for a moment, but she didn't really know. "Maybe, but I don't think so. The amount of magic that she has been surrounded by might have something to do with biotics manifesting—"
"Because that makes a whole lot of sense!" Night Berry rolled her eyes.
"— but I can't see how that would have led to what we saw." Sweet Tooth finished. They had all looked over the security camera footage from Twilight's tower, and it was a sight unlike anything they had ever seen. A teenage girl using biotics like a Justicar… there was no way that it should have been possible.
"WHERE ARE THEY?!"
Everyone in the room turned to look as Firefly broke into the hospital room, panicked and scared. The instant that she saw Riley and Rainbow on the bed, she rushed towards them, paying no mind to the Royal Guard following after her trying to restrain her.
"Please, it's okay," Wild Strike said to the guards, waving them away with a hoof.
The Royal Guard looked hesitant for a moment, but they acquiesced and stepped outside. Moments later, Rainbow Prism, Twilight Velvet, and Night-Light stepped into the room, following after Firefly. They each headed to their prospective families. Velvet and Night-Light were horrified to find that Shining Armor had been shot in his other leg.
"It's fine, Mom," He murmured, drugged beyond all capacity for rationality. Shining Armor leaned against Cadance's side.
"Mom! Dad!" Rainbow Dash perked up when she saw her parents.
"Oh Celestia!" Firefly pulled Rainbow into a hug before setting her back on the bed and turning her attention to the unconscious Riley. "What happened?"
Seeing their confusion and worry, the Doctors and the Sweet Tooth stepped up to try and explain.
"Your daughter is in a coma," Wild Strike said.
"Why?!" Firefly looked confused and scared.
"From what we can tell, she exhausted herself biotically," Sweet Tooth said.
"Biotics? But—" Prism didn't know what to say, nuzzling his oldest daughter as much to try and comfort her as to comfort himself.
"But your daughter isn't a biotic," Sweet Tooth nodded in understanding. "Wasn't a biotic, I guess I should say."
"But why?" Firefly looked at the Doctors with a mix of hope and utter fear.
"I would like to know that myself."
The room startled at the powerful voice, turning to find that Princess Celestia had entered the room.
"Princess!" Twilight Sparkle jumped onto all four hooves on her bed, struggling to steady herself on the plush mattress.
Everyone but Firefly bowed. She was far too pissed to do that.
"They were supposed to be safe!" Firefly protested, stomping a hoof against the ground.
"I…" Celestia ducked her head, ashamed. "I am so sorry, Firefly…"
Firefly was so angry and had so many thoughts rushing through her head that she couldn't think of what to say first. Instead of doing or saying something incredibly stupid, she let out a snort of anger and turned back to the hospital bed.
"How is she?" Firefly asked the doctors.
"She'll live, that's the most important thing." Wild Strike knew all of Riley's conditions by heart now, having gone over them so many times. "When they brought her here, she had already fallen into a coma, but we have her under sedation just in case."
"Sedated? Why?" Firefly struggled to make sense of anything that was happening.
"We are worried about the strain she forced her system under." Night Berry stepped forward, taking over the explanation. "From what every medical report is telling me, she wasn't a biotic before this happened, and she managed to kill eleven armed mercenaries without even a biotic amp. We don't want her waking up unexpectedly. It could be too much a shock for her system to handle."
"There could be consequences," Wild Strike said. "From what we can tell, she has… grown what on first glance appears to be a biotic amplifier… I can't really think of anyway else to explain it."
" Grown a biotic amp? Killed eleven men?" Prism shook his head, glaring at the doctors. "What are you even talking about?!"
"All we were told was that our children were in the hospital!" Firefly leaned against her husband for support, finding it hard to breath all of a sudden. "What is going on here?"
That drew the two Doctors and Sweet Tooth up for a pause. They had no clue that the parents didn't know what had happened. Princess Celestia herself had only heard the barest of details.
"I…" Wild Strike backed up, biting his lip. "I should get the Captain. He seems to be the only one with the full picture."
"Please, be quick Doctor." Celestia ordered him, her voice quiet.
Nodding, Wild Strike stepped out, and rushed to get the Captain of the guard.
Once more, Riley found herself standing in the Forest. Fog rolled across the ground, and a deep, grating whispering rose about from all around her. It seemed to crawl down her spine, followed by a cold shiver.
Taking a step forward, she stopped and looks down to find that she was ankle deep in muddy water. It was quickly rising, already nearing her knees.
Looking back up, she found a faceless figure standing in front of her.
"You are foolish," the figure said, his voice seeming to emanate from his entire body. It was deeply unsettling and made Riley's skin crawl. "You have forced our hand, and made us move before the time was right."
Riley didn't know what to say to that. She studied the figure with wary caution.
"You shall learn your purpose." The figure spat the last word, and Riley could feel his anger as a physical presence. His voice seemed to ring out from everywhere all at once, and nowhere at all, and it bore down on her shoulders. "You shall pay for your own foolishness."
"What…" Riley looked down again, find the water up to her hips already, icy cold. "What are you?"
"What I am is irrelevant. You belong to me."
"I don't belong to anyone!" Riley protested, trying to back away.
"You will be the instrument of our will, and they shall learn to fear you." The figure stepped forward, grabbing Riley's throat. He lifted her up out of the water and she struggled uselessly as she started to choke. "But first, you shall learn to fear us. You are a fragile creature, a lesser race. Were it not for us, you would have been shot dead, and your usefulness would have ended."
The figure threw Riley under the water and held her under effortlessly. She struggled even harder, and she knew she was going to die.
"Wake up. "
Riley's eyes opened—
—and she screamed, gurgling as she tried to draw breath! Everyone in the hospital room jumped in surprise as Riley woke up. She was completely panicked and afraid, still feeling the icy water over her head. Firefly and Prism rushed forward to restrain her as she started flailing about dangerously. Rainbow Dash jumped off the bed, watching her sister in confusion.
"What is she doing awake? I thought she was sedated!" Wild Strike wondered if he had inputted the correct numbers on the sedative.
Riley screamed. Firefly jumped up onto the bed and wrapped all four of her legs around Riley, restraining her from hurting herself. She nuzzled against her, trying to comfort her. "Shhh. It's alright Riley. You're safe."
Riley's screaming turned into whimpers, and she grabbed onto Firefly with all her might.
A few moments passed, and Riley's crying subsided, leaving the girl lying exhausted in the bed. She looked around the room, seeing everyone but Rainbow.
"Rainbow?" She croaked, her voice cracking. "Where's Rainbow?"
Hearing her name, Rainbow flapped her wings and jumped back up on the bed. The moment that Riley saw her, she smiled in relief and let her head drop back onto her pillow. She took a moment to catch her breath, then sat back up a little and motioned for Rainbow to come closer. Rainbow crawled up onto her stomach.
"Are you alright?" Riley asked, her voice a whisper. "Are you hurt? They didn't hurt you did they?"
"No." Rainbow shook her head. "I'm fine. You saved me."
"Good." At that Riley laid back, relieved, the last of her energy spent. "Everyone else is safe?"
Twilight Sparkle, hearing all of the commotion, jumped off her mattress and trotted over to Riley's bed. She jumped up at the foot, sitting on her haunches.
"We're all fine," Twilight said, smiling at Riley. "Thanks to you."
Riley closed her eyes, not going back to sleep but resting.
Firefly looked reluctant for a moment, but she had a question that she needed to ask. "Why… Why didn't you ever tell us you were biotic?"
"I'm not…" Riley shook her head, not bothering to open her eyes. "I wasn't…"
"They were going to…" Riley thought back to the dream she just had, before opening her eyes and looking meaningfully at Rainbow and Twilight. The older ponies in the room tried catch on to what she is meaning.
"I had to do something," Riley tried to explain. "I wasn't strong enough, but then I felt it, and I knew what I needed to do. It was like there was like something… else… took control."
The Doctors and Sweet Tooth looked at each other. That wasn't how biotics work, but somehow that is exactly what happened.
"She really shouldn't be awake right now," Wild Strike said to Prism, his voice quiet. "The longer she stays awake, the higher a chance there is of something going wrong. We really need to get her sedated again."
Prism looked reluctant, but he finally nodded. "Alright."
Wild Strike stepped up to the machine by Riley's bed, quickly typing in a command using two hoof pedals on the ground. The sedative started flowing through her IV, and in seconds Riley was already feeling its effects.
Stroking Rainbow's mane, Riley lifted her chin up to look her in the eyes. "I'll protect you. I won't lose another sister."
"And I'll protect you too," Rainbow said.
Riley only half heard that, slipping back into unconsciousness. Rainbow curled up and tried to join her.
Kithoi Ward, Citadel, Serpent Nebula
July 22, 2170
Inez Simmons emerged from his hiding place, hooded, but extremely proud of himself. He had spent a week living inside of the ducts, but it was time to emerge back into the galaxy and see just what his money had paid for. His mercenaries had yet to report in, but that wasn't unexpected. In all likelihood, it was all over every news network.
He had successfully hacked into the Citadel Broadcast and let the entire galaxy know just what he thought of them. He had been holed up inside of one of the Citadel's many ducts, hiding from C-Sec. Now though, it was time for him to set more of his plans into motion. It was time to ramp things up and keep hammering in his message.
The corridor he emerged out onto was nearly deserted. A drunk Turian was stumbling along the wall a little ways away. Inez watched in disgust as the Turian threw up, heaving all of his stomach's contents onto the floor.
"Disgusting animal," Inez muttered, glaring.
He started walking in the opposite direction.
Reaching into his cloak, Inez pulled out his false identity, checking it over for any flaws that he could possibly find. He had already done it a thousand times while he was stuck in the cramped ducts, and just like before he found none, stowing it back inside his cloak.
Glancing over his shoulder again, he found no sign of the Turian. Pulling his hood tighter around his face, Inez hurried out of the corridor, wanting to get to a more populated area of the Citadel as quickly as possible.
The walk to the park was extremely enjoyable, and Inez relished the opportunity to stretch his legs. It was a relief to get his blood flowing once again after so long stationary.
Inez took the opportunity to walk through the park, carefully keeping from the view of the hundreds of other beings who are spending their time there. The Asari had found nearly two-thousand years ago that living on a space-station could eventually lead to claustrophobia and madness. Being able to experience and enjoy nature took away that eventuality, and so they had installed massive parks on every Ward Arm.
Inez took a seat on one of the many benches, checking his ticket time for his ship to Mars. It was still a few hours away, and Inez had plenty of time to kill.
"You are certainly a tough son of a bitch to find."
Inez startled, struggling to get up and run away, but a hand on his should stops him, shoving back down onto the bench. it didn't matter anyway. His legs had fallen asleep. Ethan stepped around the bench and sat down next to Inez.
"You!" Inez hissed, checking to see that no one had seen the altercation.
"Me!" Ethan grinned, waving jauntily.
Inez contemplated running as soon as the numbness in his legs went away, but he found a pistol pressed up against his side.
"Yeah." Ethan laughed, leaning back, relaxed. "I'd stay right where I was if I was you."
"What do you want?" Inez asked, growling.
"It's not what I want." Ethan laughed, looking over the aliens going about their day, enjoying the park. "I'm here representing someone else."
"What? The Illusive Man?" Inez paled, realizing that he had pissed off an extremely powerful person. He struggled to understand just what Ethan had told him. "He's pro-human! Why does have any problems with what I'm doing?"
"I don't know." Ethan shrugged, biting his lip. "It probably has something to do with how stupid you are."
Inez struggled, his face contorting in anger, but an unamused look from Ethan stopped him from making a scene.
"You don't act on your own!" Ethan jabbed the pistol into Inez's side to make a point. "That's not your job. You worked for us? Did you forget that?"
"I am tired of waiting around!" Inez growled, spittle flying from his lips. "All that your precious Illusive Man does is scheme and plot and hide in the shadows. Humanity needs a figurehead willing to put the filth of this galaxy in their place!"
"You have no idea…" Ethan shook his head, laughing.
"Cerberus is useless. I am the shape of things to come!" Inez waved his arm, looking for the right moment to strike.
"No. You are a puny little man with no concept of tactics or planning. We have no more use for you." Ethan fired five times, his pistol barely making any noise. Inez was dead by the second shot. "Inez Simmons, consider your work with Cerberus terminated."
Ethan stood and walked away, leaving Inez's body on the bench.
This is the end of all of the prequel series of the First Meetings Universe. Mass Effect: Gathering Storm will be coming soon, and it will cover the events of Mass Effect One. Be on the lookout for it in the coming weeks!