Author Note: While this is not my first-ever fanfiction, it is my first of any real length. And, to be honest, it's the third I've ever written (the second ever is not online and never will be). So please forgive any hiccups in formatting? I'll be trying to clean them up as best I can while I figure this out all over again.
Someone was screaming.
No, a lot of someones were screaming. And someone was letting off strange fireworks, ones that were all bang! and crackcrackcrack! with no whistles.
But after the staccato bursts faded, fewer voices cried out. That's when she realized it was gunfire.
What's going on? The girl opened her eyes to red skies bleeding onto a disjointed collage of grey industrial loading zone carved into verdant forest. A strange sense of familiarity began to grow, even as panic grasped her heart and throat. Where am I?
She rolled onto her side, and her nose was pressed against a heavy crate. The metal was cool against her fevered skin, and she lay there a moment, trying to pinpoint when the pain had begun. A fierce ache in her skull made her wish for a soft, dark room and prescription-strength painkillers, but a fresh eruption of gunshots renewed her sense of urgency.
Getting onto her knees was an effort that she did not relish. She had just gotten a foot on the ground when strong hands grabbed her and pulled her down. She didn't even have time to think of crying out before a hand covered her mouth and a scruffy, wide-eyed face leaned over hers, a quivering finger to his lips.
A light shone on them from beyond the crates. The two looked up, and both froze in fear – though for very different reasons. And as they sat, immobile, the construct raised its weapon. A single shot rang out.
The light stuttered and died as the construct collapsed onto the crates.
Scrambling as quietly as possible, the man dragged her backwards behind a higher stack of crates. She managed to get to her knees and crawl with him, only pausing when she heard an odd, flanging voice call out.
The voice and that name roused memories that stopped her. That déja vu feeling returned, stronger. She turned away from the man – Powell, his name is Powell – who was beckoning to her frantically, and crawled back to the first row of crates, and the construct – a Geth trooper, and it shouldn't be here on the platform.
She peered through the narrow gap between the crates, and the panic that had gripped her was replaced by dread and disbelief.
A turian man – this isn't happening, it's impossible, they don't exist! – with dark, red-brown plates and white facial markings stood on the loading platform, a weapon in one hand and gesturing with the other at something beyond her view. "This isn't your mission, Saren. What are you doing here?"
A second turian man, pale grey and with a prosthetic left arm that looked like a Geth's, walked into the narrow view, obscuring the first. "The Council thought you could use some help on this one." He passed Nihlus, walking out of the narrow gap's view.
She knew what was coming. But she couldn't move. Half of her wanted to intervene, but the other half feared the unknowable repercussions that a change of events would bring.
Nihlus relaxed and looked right at her – no, at the fallen Geth trooper – and said, "I wasn't expecting to find the Geth here. The situation's bad."
"Don't worry," Saren said, and a gun's muzzle appeared in the narrow view, aimed at the back of Nihlus' head. "I've got it under control."
And suddenly she was leaping up, hands outstretched, and a dome of rippling blue energy hummed into existence around the turian Nihlus. Her vision blurred as pain like an ice pick drove into her right eye, but the Barrier deflected Saren's bullet without breaking.
For a split second, all three froze as if in a Stasis field. She had enough time to wonder, How did I do that?
Then Nihlus was turning to face Saren, gun raised and firing; and the pale turian was aiming a Warp at the girl as he launched himself back and away, snarling. Saren's Warp hit her like a tonne of bricks, magnifying the existing migraine exponentially, and the girl fell heavily against the Geth trooper. She watched through a haze of pain as Saren took cover on the stairs Nihlus had climbed not five minutes ago.
Nihlus vaulted over the crates beside the girl, pulling her down into cover with him as he crouched. "What are you doing, Saren?" he yelled.
"Your presence here is unfortunate. As is your death." Saren replied. Three shots rang out, two hitting the crates sheltering them, the third striking the remains of the Geth trooper.
The girl's gaze snapped to the Geth as it shifted, locking on its pulse rifle. Nihlus leaned over the crates to fire a return volley at Saren, jostling the construct further, so that the gun dropped from its slack fingers. What am I doing? she asked herself, grabbing it with trembling hands.
The two turians exchanged fire, but no further remarks. After Nihlus returned to cover again, the girl realised with relief that the effects of Saren's Warp had abated, and only the ice pick-migraine remained. She took a steadying breath, gripped the rifle tightly and, when Nihlus ducked down again after another round of shots, rose to a crouch and held down the trigger. She managed to hit the railing and the platform's floor, but the gun's recoil and her overall lack of training made the weapon little more than a high-tech club in her hands.
The disdain on Saren's face was recognisable to her despite his strange features. The pale turian waved a negligent hand, sending another Warp her way. She had just enough time to drop the gun and fling her hands up in the gesture that triggered her Barrier before the attack hit.
Everything exploded into blue light and pain.
A/N: I'm aware this is short. The second chapter will be significantly longer. I hope this is enough of a taste to be interesting!
I must give a very big thanks to the three folks acting as my beta readers and editors. I wouldn't have gotten past the first ten sentences without them!