AN: So this is about it for the stuff I've already written and just needed to revise, and to be honest? Still not 100% on it. I ended up taking a fair bit out, replacing a few scenes, did a bit of polishing and cleaning and, well, it's still not really as good as I want it but I just can't think of any changes to make that wouldn't require a major, dedicated rewrite. Still, it's not bad and as it stands I'm going to post it as is. Hope you enjoy it!


Chapter 1 Part 6

Echoes


I almost literally could not believe my eyes. Everything had been fine not ten minutes ago. Everything had been on track, and now? Now Shepard was laying on the damn ground with a hole in his chest, coughing up blood as the hole in his chest bubbled with every breath. Nihlus had dumped all of our medi-gel on him, which seemed to be helping and Kaidan was, apparently, running some kind of high-end medical diagnostic in the interim. I had no skill in healing, nor any particular insight into battlefield first aid, so all I could do was stand by and watch.

What the fuck just happened?

"What the FUCK just happened?" I asked incredulously, glancing over to the other member of the gallery as we watched the Spectre and Lieutenant stabilize Shepard, who in turn just kept on laying there insensate.

"I... I don't... know how it all got so out of hand." She was quiet. The rush of adrenaline was finally out of her system. She was crashing, losing her edge, letting herself get distracted. I clapped her on the shoulder.

"Focus! What the hell happened? Everything was fucking fine and then all of a sudden Geth everywhere and Shepard is bleeding out a hole in his chest, not to mention that civvie you guys torn to five kinds of shit. Care to fill me in?" I snapped. In all honesty, I'd never really liked Ashley in the game, not disliked, to be fair, but also not a fan thereof. Of course, her being so in love with the Systems Alliance and all it stood for also may or may not have put us at natural odds, given my mercenary background. The fact that I was on edge over the whole thing didn't help reign in my attitude either.

Her head snapped to mine the second I made contact, and I swear I heard her growl.

"Well?" I bit out after a moment of silence. I could see her glaring at me for it, before looking away.

"I lost control of the situation." She murmured, pointedly looking away from me crossing her arms. I barely heard her.

"What!? Speak up Williams! Look at me when you talk. I can't hear shit over the crosswind." I snapped out, and she shot back to me with a snarl.

"I said we lost control of the situation, Mercenary! What's it to you?" I blinked and can't believe she just asked something that stupid.

"What's it to me? What's it to ME!? I almost got my ass shot off by Surprise fucking Geth, so it's a fucking lot to me. Is that how this-" I waved to Shepard, who was finally in the clear as Nihlus and Kaidan started to move off, "-happened? He get sniped or something? Fucking fill me in, huh?"

"I- no. The dock worker you found shot him. He had a gun on him and-" I cut her off dead.

"What? Why?" The disbelief in my voice was palpable. Fuck me, what the hell had happened in the two minutes I'd been away from the conversation. Everything seemed to be on track until then.

"It was-" She started to say, but Nihlus cut her off.

"She confronted the dockworker about some stolen explosives. He grew agitated, and when she threatened him he drew a weapon and shot the Commander. Williams and I retaliated but the damage was done. The Geth assault afterward was just poor timing, though I suspect they were amassing for an attack in the woods." He said without missing a beat. I just stared. I mean, I remembered that conversation. Ash gets all pissy about the smuggling and Shepard talks down/threatens the witness guy into giving up his stash. That was all canon.

This?

"Fuck, why would you even do that!?" I cried incredulously. "Because we don't have enough goddamn problems already, right?" There was an audible clack as my hand met my visor. Fuck. This is... I don't even know. Completely random? How did this... oh shit. Oh shit. Fuck. I know how this happened. I know why.

I could see it. Instead of letting the dock worker come clean, I skipped that conversation. I skipped the whole thing, and just went to go grab the loot. It didn't even occur to me to think what might happen if Ashley Williams found out about the smuggling unprovoked. It didn't hit me that during the conversation in the game, all of them had guns pointed at him, that he wasn't two feet away from anyone, but most importantly, Shepard talked him into coming clean about the smuggling. In that version. This time I sent the Gunnery Chief after him on a warpath, and in a rage she tore into him, accused him, threatened him, and it made him snap. I had sent someone who had just suffered a tremendous emotional loss after a person who may well have deprived her squad of life saving munitions, and I did it cold cocked, just to get her away so I could pocket the grenade mod. I knew what she would do and did it because it was convenient for me. What was a benign interaction suddenly became a pressure cooker,

Shepard was shot because of me.

I dun goofed. Ash would pay for it, and now we were short the arguably most important member of the team. All because of an oversight. Little things, it seemed, could have big consequences if I wasn't careful. Playing Ash like that was one thing, but Shepard was out for the foreseeable future. He would live, hell, he would be fine given time, but for now he was out of the mission. The medi-gel fixed up the worst of it, but it couldn't replace lost blood. Not at the dosage we had. It could do the job, in theory, but we would need a fair bit more to get Shepard fighting fit.

"I just thought-" She started, but Nihlus cut her off sharply with a glare.

"No, that's just it. You didn't think. You let your emotions override your judgment and it got your commanding officer injured. Because of your poor control we're going to be walking in down two operators." He said in a cold, measured voice, cutting into her. I just stood by and watched. I was partially to blame for it, I knew, but what do you say to that? I knew you would get mad so I sent you off after someone else because you annoy me? I didn't have to wonder how that would turn out. I dropped the ball as much as she did, differing context aside, but my failing was something I could cover up without ever saying a word.

"Down two?" I cut in, finally. Nihlus looked to me and nodded.

"Yes. Someone is going to have to stay and watch over Shepard. He should regain consciousness shortly but he won't be in any condition to fight. Williams, you're volunteered. Finch, you and the Lieutenant will be joining me on the final push. Both of you should be ready, as I suspect the fighting will be the most intense we'll see today. Understood?" He said, and I nodded, moving off to talk to Alenko. As I turned, though, I ended up catching a quiet conversation between Ashley and the Spectre.

"You're taking the mercenary?" I could almost hear the venom in the word. Lovely. "He's only in it for the money! How could you trust him?" Distrust of aliens or not, it's nice to see I rank lower than that on her scale.

"Yes, Gunnery Chief Williams, I am. He's proven to be a resourceful, meticulous, effective asset on the field thus far. He knows when to fight and when to sneak, and he isn't prone to emotional outbursts that put us at risk." Oh ouch, that had to sting. "I am giving you this opportunity to remedy your earlier failing and protect the Commander while he recovers. I expect..."

I moved out of earshot. I sat down next to Kaidan, who had thus far kept himself separate from the drama. He seemed wrapped up in his own little world for the most part, but it had been a rough afternoon. For everyone.

"So how is he?" I opened with, catching Alenko's attention. "It looked bad."

"It was. The shot nicked one of his arteries and he was bleeding out. The medi-gel patched the hole and closed him up, but he lost a lot of blood in the interim. He'll be weak when he wakes up, but otherwise alright." He said, closing his omni-tool. "If you don't mind my asking, and please don't take this the wrong way, but why do you care?"

I could have been offended, really, but I know that wasn't what he was going for. Mercenaries have a reputation in Mass Effect, and it wasn't a pleasant one. I would have to work to break that overhanging reputation on a personal level, but it was far from impossible. All you needed was the right perception, the right belief. I'd fought harder battles with less, so I didn't really foresee a large number of issues with it, though the bar would be higher for some than others.

"Because I'm not, contrary to what the good Ms. Williams might believe, some money grubbing sociopath. I don't like to see people on my side go down. Not like that." I sighed, and he nodded.

"Fair enough. Still, that was some good work with the charges. If you hadn't set them we would have been taking fire all the way out of the station." He said, and I knew he was digging himself out of that hole he'd dug with his question. I let him.

"Liked that did you? Cain Trip Mines. They're never not useful." I chuckled, and he joined me. Surprising how easy he was to talk to, all things considered. I gave him an unseen grin. "So... want the program?" My tone belied my amusement. It was a small offering, really. A bridge. Kaiden was an easy read, honestly. He wanted to be friends with everyone, wanted to be the positive figure, wanted to be liked. It was how he came across, how he held himself, very honest, very open. It's easy with him, to build that bridge. A gift, unprompted, to open the door, and after that it would be simple to inch him into my corner.

"If you're offering. High Ex is usually only issued to spec ops and engineers, but with Shepard out and none of the latter, it couldn't hurt. Surprisingly generous of you." He said, flicking his omni-tool back on and cloning my Cain Mine app. I shrugged, and punched him in the shoulder.

"Eh, you seem like an okay guy. I'd hate to-" The words died in my mouth when I heard it. Like the low, crooning call of a foghorn in G Minor, it literally reverberated through me, and in that instant all I could hear was screeching static through my helmet, deafening me as I cried out and scratched at it to no avail. I couldn't think, couldn't breathe with the sensation of raw, unfiltered electricity pouring through my head and sending me to the floor.

I hit the ground hard, and rolled over just in time to see it. To see Sovereign. To see the Reaper.

The game did him no justice. A massive construct, ten times larger than an aircraft carrier with almost a dozen thick, heavy tendrils reaching down towards the earth below like the hand of an angry god, it was titanic, nightmarish, inconceivable. Plated in sleek, black armor that was strung together with incandescent lines of blue which coiled around it's core, it dominated the sky as the very air seemed to rumble in pain at it's passing. It was a thing that you could only really comprehend by being there. Nothing was larger, more impressive, more terrifying as it stood there, in defiance of gravity, of mass, of spin or force, unhindered by the paltry forces mankind had always been subject to. Thunder ripped through the air as it started to move, started to turn at a geometric rate, the very force of it causing static to crackle across it's hull as the friction of the atmosphere tried to slow it and failed as the wind itself seeming to break against it as the clouds scattering against it's hull, torn apart by the sheer magnitude of the ship.

I stared on, stunned, head pounding from the raw burst of force that had accosted me, just watching in silence as a thing so alien and incomprehensible compared to everything I knew oh so casually left the skies above. I watched it disappear, the last of the glowing lights across it's carapace vanishing into the haze and as it left I felt the weight of it's presence lift, and I could breathe again.

I glanced around as I lifted myself back up, but none of us were left unaffected. Even the stoic Nihlus Kryik was left staring, mouth wide, gasping for breath under that first taste of what I knew was to come. I took a deep breath, staring at the ground, trying desperately to hold some perspective. I wanted to vomit. I'd never been more afraid of anything in my entire life. Never felt so insignificant.

"What was that?" Ashley gasped out, "It was enormous!"

I couldn't say it, couldn't answer. Not yet. I couldn't tell them that it was a Reaper, that it was here to kill us all, that it was just the first of many and that our time was already running thin. I couldn't, because it was too much. I couldn't, because there was no sense to it, no logic, no reason. I couldn't, because that would violate the rules of the game, alienate all of them and destroy any chance I'd had of staying on.

So I did what I always do. I lied, and choked on the words.

"I don't know, but I hope it doesn't come back." I said grimly, wincing as I shook my head, "Gah, that fucking foghorn sent a blast of static through my speakers. Damn near blew out my ears. Fucker." My new found headache could attest to the volume, too. Fuck me that hurt.

"Amen to that." I almost jumped as Shepard's voice cut through. It was rough, dry, sore, but very much alive. I leaned against one of the railings on the train car and eyed him. He was... tired, it seemed. Dark rings around his eyes, breathing shallow, sluggish movements, all signs of just how badly he'd been hit. The blood loss was a significant factor, one that would have killed him even after the wounds had closed without us dumping all the rest of our medi-gel in to replace what he'd lost, and even then he was still far from capable. Apparently, medi-gel had a poor conversion rate when it came to direct transfer from one medium to another, but still it made the difference, fortunately.

"Good to have you back, sir." Alenko popped in from the side. I glanced at him, and he glanced back, before we both went back to the Commander. Ashley was all ears now, and Nihlus stood and walked over.

"Indeed, it's good to have you awake once more Commander. We have things to discuss." Nihlus, as always, went strait to the point. I glanced away, tuning him out. Nothing he had to say was new.

"Alright. Fill me in." Shepard said, and Nihlus did. Kaidan and Ashley had capitalized a corner of the train, talking in low voices while I just stared on silently. I ignored them, ignored Shepard and Nihlus, ignored everything, lost in the thoughts of what I had just seen. Nothing could have prepared me, nothing could have even come close. I knew it from the game, but it never really hit me, the feeling of what it was like to actually be there. To actually see Sovereign. To feel the weight of it's presence.

It was terrifying. Horrifying. I just... needed some time to think. Needed time to plan. To evaluate. To ponder and plot. To distract myself.

It was a short trip.

The ride in total was maybe fifteen, twenty minutes at most. Long enough to catch our breath, but not nearly enough to make the difference. We moved Shepard to the back of the train. It was a good six cars out from where the tram engine would link up at the station, and with the elevated nature of the tram itself, meant that the only real approach was from directly forward. So long as we kept our momentum up, Ashley wouldn't have too many issues protecting Shepard from incoming Geth. Once the fighting was done, she would bring up the Commander for pickup, or so the plan went.

As for we three, we made our way up to the engine compartment and crouched down behind the metal-backed chairs that dominated the bulk of the car as we watched the station start to come up from around the bend. The chairs would make adequate cover for our initial push but they wouldn't hold up to a concentrated barrage. Still better than air and good hope, though, and they could take a few hits. Hopefully.

"When we hit, pick your targets carefully and be ready to move. Tactics are going to be changing on the fly, and we're going to need to keep clear lines of sight at all times. Stay low and watch for overhang fire, and keep your eyes peeled for heavy weapons in the area. Call them when you see them and keep your head on, this is going to be messy!" Nihlus shouted over the oncoming wind, and I listened closely as we moved into the docking zone. All at once, there was silence.

Snap-hiss! I ducked as a round came perilously close to my head, denting the top of the seat we'd been hiding behind. I glanced at my motion tracker and holy shit that was a lot of signatures! My rifle jumped into my hands and I cracked off two shots before dropping down behind cover, before the Geth started to pepper our position with plasma fire..

I glanced over to Alenko, and then to Nihlus, who were alternating firing and ducking in much the same way that I was. The Spectre glanced at us, crouched down like a coiled spring, his mind working on tactics while we traded rounds, neither side really making an impact. Most of the fire was coming from a bridge that sat at the edge of the dock and the two side rails that lined the upper area of the deck. We were lucky it was far back enough to keep them from shooting behind our cover, but the dozen-plus signatures were disintegrating our cover with every volley while we weren't even making a dent.

"Alenko, on my mark, barrier over us! Finch! Prep grenades and toss them over the left railing. We're going to make a hard push to the upper level!" I nodded and let my rifle hang off the strap I'd forged for it (such a good call) while I palmed two of my purloined canister grenades, Nihlus mirroring me.

"On three! One!" I popped the plug on the first explosive, and my omni-tool flashed into being, covering it in both micro-bearings and magnetizing it, prepping it for a toss. "Two!" Alenko flared up, and for the first time in my life I saw real biotics. Like a haze of pure energy, it coated every inch of the man, crackling with static as his hands went incandescent. "Three!"

Suddenly biotic light flared and the vicious pinging that had marked our position vanished, the shots rippling against the barrier like stones on a calm lake. The highlights were beautiful, stunning even, but I blinked it away. Nihlus was already on the move, sending his right over the nearest rail. In one smooth motion my body flowed into a perfect pitcher's stance, hurling the first explosive on a gorgeous arc that sent it right over the plate-covered rail the Geth were hiding behind, the grenade making a sharp turn at the last moment and latching onto a stunned Geth. I didn't pause. Already my second was in my hand and flying in tandem with Nihlus, both of us sending a third and fourth almost as soon as the first and second hit.

The whole of that side detonated with a staggering set of blasts that flattened the area, sending whole cargo containers flying off the edge of the platform interspersed with chunks of Geth and bits of debris. In an instant I was up, following Nihlus as Kaidan's barrier flickered and finally failed, my shield screaming from the hits that slid off me as I sprinted full bore up the ramp to our side.

I almost saw it too late as I cut around the bend. A Geth, or rather half of one, lying behind a half-blasted crate, weapon raised, already opening fire on my already weakened shields. I could see it in almost perfect clarity, the body, sans legs, lying there on it's side, trigger pulled, rifle whirring up, each shot crashing through my ears as my hands stumbled along my weapon. I had no time, but the world moved so slowly. I could feel my limbs like molasses, my hand flying back, wrapping around the handle of my blade, pulling it loose as I dived onto the top of the trooper, knocking it's weapon away and burying the length of it up to it's hilt in it's chest.

Its hands came up, pushing me off as much as it could but I drew the blade back and slammed it home again, and again, and again, before rolling us around. My back to the pavement, I put both legs against its chest and pushed hard, my knife yanking free and sending the remains over the edge of the railing. It hadn't taken more than fifteen seconds. It felt like an eternity.

"You okay!?" I heard someone shout, and I forced myself back onto my feet, rolling up into a sitting position and scrambling forward, getting my very exposed ass back behind a crate. I glanced up and saw Alenko looking at me from behind his own disgorged crate and nodded.

"I'm fine!" I snapped and grabbed my rifle, pressing it against my shoulder and popping out to put a finishing touch on one of the more adventurous troopers. I glanced back, looking for Nihlus, but he was nowhere to be seen. Funny, I'd thought I was right behind him.

"We have a problem!" Kaiden shot back at me, and I gave him a look.

"What problem!?" Okay, that was a little sharper than I was going for, but it was okay. Kaidan was too busy shooting at the Geth to really hear me anyway.

"Up the ramp, I spotted what looked like a heavy mining charge! It was on, probably set on a timer! We need to disable that one and another on the opposite side of the bridge or it'll collapse the front of the compound!" Oh right. That was a thing.

"Fuck." I whispered. "Tina, talk to me. What can you tell me about these mining charges?" I said, and in an instant a wireframe of the long, cylindrical and stunningly familiar explosive came up.

"The CMC-440A19 Pressure Detonation Explosive contains roughly fifty pounds of the explosive compound commonly referred to as C4. The cylindrical body of the explosive is designed to amplify the pressure wave directly outwards in an even pattern, which has been optimized for use in tight, confined spaces. Caution is advised. Warning! I am detecting several of these explosives throughout the area, placed on key load-bearing points of this structure. Warning! I am detecting an active charge in these explosives. I advise vacating the premises." I winced at that. If I could recall, there were four of them in total, and from what it sounds like, they were exactly as bad as I'd thought they might be.

Shit.

"Tina, can you tell me how long I have before they explode?" I asked with a pinched voice.

"Yes. I am detecting a charge buildup in the detonation matrix of the nearest explosive. At it's current rate, you have two minutes and fifty-four seconds before the matrix has enough built up charge to set off the primary explosive compound." And like that, a timer kicked on over my motion tracker. Goody.

"Kaidan, where's Nihlus!?" I asked, popping up to pepper a large, red oh shit. "Scratch that, Destroyer incoming!" I snapped, and as if to punctuate my discovery a rocket slammed bodily into some nearby railing, and unlike in the game, that railing was just fucking gone.

"I see it! Warping!" His arm shot out like he was throwing a curveball, and in that instant a fistful of what looked like jelly shot out of his outstretched palm and hit the Destroyer face first. I could see the armor it hit visibly start to melt and tarnish, disintegrating under the glowing purple stain. I didn't hesitate to bring my rifle up and fire as Kaidan joined me a second later, tearing into the Geth as it began to flail from having it's face melted off. I suspected that if it could feel that it would be screaming right now, but as it was I couldn't really care.

It went down under our combined fire and hit the ground with a hard thump. I watched as it's rocket launcher skittered forward, and in that instant I had a thought. It was a crazy thought. Insane. Completely psychotic, really. Almost out of character, you might say, but as I watched the seconds tick down I just... couldn't think of anything else. We were stuck. Nihlus was off doing fuck only knew what, probably disarming the bombs at the other end of the compound and us? We were struck here like pigs on a spit while time ticked down.

We needed a solution to our problem. I just wish I had something better.

"Hey Kaidan!" I yelled over the Geth's retaliatory fire, grabbing his attention as I lobbed another Sticky Grenade, cutting me down to two. He glanced at me during the lull with a questioning look on his face.

"What!?" He shouted back, before popping up to toss another biotic blast of some kind at the Geth.

"How stable is C4!?" He looked at me funny when I asked that, and shrugged.

"Pretty stable! You can basically light it on fire and it won't go up! Needs an electrical charge to detonate!" Well alright then. Maybe this really was a viable idea. Brilliant.

"Good! Cover me!" I shot back at him, and he gave me a wide-eyed look as I punched on my Shield Boost. In that instant I hopped out of from behind the crate I was using as cover and shot forward, my rifle hanging from my shoulder and forgotten as I did a messy belly slide across the catwalk, slamming first into the discarded rocket launcher and then again into a crate that sat haphazardly across the middle of the path.

I rolled onto my back and gave Kaiden a thumbs up. He just stared at me a moment before shaking it off and returning fire on the Geth that had gone out of cover to flank me. They were less than successful.

I glanced at the weapon in my arms. Originally I'd thought that the Geth would have their own anti-armor weapons but no, apparently the ML-77 made it's way around town. It wasn't even locked out, really. The thing just snapped into my HUD's weapons loadout overview as soon as I touched it, telling me that it had fourteen of it's happy little friends ready to go. I guess that made sense, though. Geth didn't have the ability to gene-lock anything, what with their lack of genes and leaving it open source meant that another Geth could just as easily pick the gun up after it's first owner went down and use it without any problems. Kind of like the Soviets in WW2, actually. Huh.

See how well that worked out for them. It was mine now. I had a solution. I glanced at Kaiden, and he looked back at me wide-eyed. I checked that the safety was off, and gave Kaiden an unseen grin as his face went white.

"No, Finch, No!" I shot up and pulled the trigger. The rocket was smaller than I thought it would be, but it flew true. It hit a Geth that had just come out of hiding and that Geth summarily ceased to be. I pulled the trigger again, and the conical tube on the front of the rocket launcher cycled to the left before firing a fresh rocket. Then I pulled the trigger again, and again, and again, over and over. Rockets flew, and in that moment of panic I felt it like a force of nature.

Chaos.

That was when a rocket slammed bodily into the mining charge, and it went up like a nuke. There was no pause, no warning, just the slow motion of the shockwave as it disintegrated one of the massive two-ton crates that sat behind the Geth. The Geth themselves had no time, had no chance, as the wave hit them, and they just burst into a thousand flaming bits as a wall of fire enveloped them. My eyes went wide.

I turned and hit the ground hard, arms over my head, as I saw a flash of biotics form a diagonal plane of pure energy above me. In that instant the pressure hit, and my shields shattered like so much glass from the force but it didn't flatten me like I was expecting. Instead, even as the barrier above disintegrated and deflected the wave away from me just enough to not burst me like a balloon. The force was enormous, even with the initial shock past, and I found myself flying ass over teakettle from the rolling force as it bounced me clear off the ground.

I hit the ground hard on my shoulder, and I just knew I was going to be one big bruise after this. That said, I had held up remarkably well barring the fact that I was slightly on fire, but that seemed to be the worst of it. The blast had been mitigated through sheer chance and I was so, so very glad that Kaidan liked me enough to save my sorry ass. Admittedly, shooting the charge was a bit of an error. Admittedly. But hey, it worked, right? I hauled myself up, picking my rifle up and, surprise surprise, the rocket launcher was no worse for the ware either. Gotta love that hardy future-tech design.

Even had a half-dozen rockets left. I grinned.

"You!" I glanced up and saw a very pissed off looking Kaidan stomping up to me.

"Me." I said with a grin in my voice. Somewhat wrong answer, as he punched me in the chest for it. Hard. Ow.

"You dumbass! You could have killed us!" He snapped at me with a scowl.

"Ah, but I didn't. Besides, you said C4 was stable." I shrugged. His eye twitched.

"Not if you blow it up! I mean, look at this!" I did, and it was impressive. There was a three meter deep crater where the explosive had been, and basically everything on the platform was just... gone. No Geth, no crates, I mean, hell, even the rails were missing. The metal walls were deformed and the load bearing pylons that stood a short ways away were bent and mangled beyond recognition. The damage was phenomenal.

"Huh. Well, at least the Geth are dead. Speaking of, did you get that explosive charge down there?" I asked, my casual tone bringing him up short.

"What? Yeah. I got it." He said. I glanced down over the edge and saw that he'd basically just pulled out the detonator and pulled all the leads out. Huh. That was... less complicated than I thought it would be, but then again, it's a civilian demolitions charge. It would be stupid if it wasn't easy to disarm if they had to.

I chuckled. "So... we win?" I said with a grin. He looked at me and shook his head.

"We win." He snorted.

"Oh hey uh, thanks for that barrier. Probably saved my ass with that. Appreciate it." I said, folding up the rocket launcher and placing it against the mag-lock where a sniper rifle normally goes. He nodded to me.

"Not a problem. Stupid or not I wasn't just going to let you die. Just uh... don't do it again." He said with a grin.

"Yeah yeah. It wasn't my best move, aye?" I said, and shouldered my rifle.

"No, but it was effective nonetheless. Well done." I damn near jumped out of my skin when I heard Nihlus's voice behind me.

"Son of a bitch don't fucking do that!" I snapped at him but he just smiled it off.

"I'm afraid I can't comply." Oh you could just hear the smug. "Still, good work. I've disabled the other two charges and neutralized what Geth weren't drawn to you in the interim. I would have moved onto the Beacon itself, but the explosion caught my attention."

"Cheh, a guy makes one mistake..." I snorted, but he ignored me.

"So that's all that's left?" Kaiden asked, readying his own rifle, and Nihlus nodded.

"Yes. Alenko, you'll be on point. Finch, you're following me." He said, drawing his own rifle and Kaiden pressed his against his shoulder. I moved to follow, but Nihlus paused to glance back at me. "And Finch? Try not to blow anything else up, okay?" I could hear the smirk. I snorted and didn't comment.

And with that we pressed onwards and upwards to the Beacon that awaited us. I glanced at my compatriots with narrowed, focused eyes. This ride was coming to an end. I had to be ready for it.


End Chapter One