She's safe, they're all safe, that's what matters now, I'm a dead man dying but to see the sun once more... I'm glad that I could see it with her, I hope she looks after those little sisters, they've had a rougher life than I'll ever live but now it's over. He turns over, onto his back, and breathed as deep as he could, and he turns to look at his daughter, his daughter of blood and twisted science, but his incredible daughter, none the less. If only I could speak to you Eleanor, I would tell you how proud of you I am, we never got to spend time as a proper father and daughter but for the years that I spent as your protector, I am glad. But it's up to you now, I can no longer go on, my body is dying one way or another. He lay back against the hull of the escape sub, he lays there and remembered all those he encountered during his rampage through Rapture, he wished he could have saved Sinclair, he was a man who'd done bad but ultimately tried to redeem himself and he spent his final moments making sure of that and he tried even if he couldn't control himself, and Grace, the first person in Rapture he had met that could see clear enough through the monster he once was to see the individual underneath, who was brave enough to go against the family and help him out, he hoped that she had survived the fallout of his actions.
A shadow across his face, his daughter Eleanor by his side as he lay there. A pity he mused, I would have liked to see her without this helmet on in my final moments, still it's not all bad, he smiled under the helmet, she'll be free, he thought, free to be who she wishes, with no expectations on her, she'll be free to not be a saint or a saviour, but to be the best person she could be, herself.
"Father, without you to teach me about the surface I'll be lost, so I'll bring you with me, you will be my guide in times where I struggle, always watching over me to be there for me even when no one else will be, I'll need you father." There were tears in her eyes, the little sisters around her tried to cheer her up, one of them offered her a doll, a big daddy doll, looked just like him, Eleanor smiled when she saw it.
Delta also smiled under the dive helmet, his knowledge of the surface was old, fragmented from his years in Rapture, from the experiments done on him and the conditioning they had put him through, but still useful, one last fatherly thing he could do to advise her through all her troubles and be with her always. He nodded to her, it was time.
She leaned over him, needle pressed against his suit, he felt it piece straight into him, a sense of relief comes over him instead of pain and as his vision narrows and tunnels he thinks one last thought. Don't listen to Dr Lamb Eleanor, between you and me, she's as mad as the rest of them in Rapture. His smile deepens, and everything turns black.
"So, Shepard, how's the team coming along?" The Illusive Man was sat in his chair, suit as Immaculate as ever and cigar smoking in his hand... and as always frustratingly illusive, never giving away his intentions.
The Spector crossed his arms, clearly dissatisfied with the constant calls for various reports. "Grunt will be a great asset for the team and when we come against the Collectors next he's going to get the opportunity to prove how superior a Krogan he is. So, just checking in on your 'investment' or have you something important to say?" Shepard doesn't trust the Illusive Man one bit and as always, the man always put him on edge.
"Everything I say is important Shepard," The Illusive Man tapped the ash off his cigar, "it just depends on who's listening at the time, in any case it so happens that I do have an interesting assignment for you. One of my research teams on earth was testing a new surveillance technology in the Atlantic and picked up an extremely weak and old distress signal." The Illusive Man took a long drag on his cigar, "I want you to check it out."
Sheppard uncrossed his arms, this was something he had to pay attention to, "Ok, but what's special about this distress signal that you want the Normandy to travel several mass relays to answer? Surely you have people on earth that could get there hours if not days before us."
"I had the research team run the signal through our databases, not a single match to any known distress beacons or signals used by the Alliance or any of the Citadel races, it's a complete unknown Shepard, that's why I want you to look into it." He calmly taped more ash off his cigar, "That and the research team believes the distress signal has been transmitting for over two hundred years."
"Two hundred years?" That's a long time to wait for rescue. "Are you sure your research team knows what they're looking at?"
"Shepard I always have humanity's best interest in mind and I'll never spend resources or personnel unless I have actionable information that aids in humanity, one day you'll trust me when I say this," Shepard watched as The Illusive Man took a mouthful of whiskey, "Yes, the research team was thorough in their investigation of the signal, after each signal transmission there is a short burst of static, each subsequent transmission incrementally increases the amount of static, we originally believed a possible power failure was causing the residue static but it's too exact, to... intentional, the research leader did the maths Shepard." The Illusive Man leaned back in his chair, "and the math is good. I've forwarded the information to EDI, take a look if you want, it's your team Shepard, do what you think best."
The Illusive Man cut the connection before the commander could respond, leaving Shepard alone with his thoughts. I have to check it out, he had me at distress signal though I doubt there will be anyone to rescue, still there's nothing that urgent at the moment and it won't hurt to check it out. "EDI, tell Joker to plot a course to earth, we'll check out this distress signal and then be back on the trail for the Collectors in no time."
EDI's avatar popped into existence, "I would advise against that course of action Shepard."
"According to the information packet provided by The Illusive Man, the signal originates approximately 2000 meters under the Atlantic Ocean, we have no vessels on the Normandy that are capable of surviving such a depth and if we take into account that this is a rescue mission then..."
"EDI, there is unlikely to be survivors after 200 years, but 2000 meters under the sea? Typical detail he left out there. We need to be able to get down there." Shepard crossed his arms for a moment in thought, "Looks like we're going shopping, tell Joker to plot a course to the citadel, anything you suggest for this mission then EDI?"
EDI's avatar flickered for a moment before she answered, "There is a Volus on the citadel that is currently selling 'slightly' used and refurbished ships, he may have what we require and if not knows who will."
Shepard smiled, glad to have EDI along even with Jokers moaning about back seat driving, "Excellent, gold star for EDI, let's go see how 'slightly' used these ships are supposed to be."
The 'slightly' used ship seller turned out to be an understatement, some of the ships for sale couldn't even hold atmosphere due to 'small' tears in the hull and the amount of shoddy reconstruction work done on the 'refurbished' ships made the Spector wonder whether it would leave the ground in one piece, fortunately the Volus in question was much more interested in selling off parts of ships instead.
"So, Earth-clan, deep sea exploration?" A quite hiss escaped the environmental suit as the Volus was lost in thought, "As it so happens Earth-clan -kssk- I may have what you need, an Eezo drive core unit of -kssk- Salarian design. Very easy to modify and -kssk- can be fitted onto almost any shuttle, it projects a field around the shuttle that greatly reduces the weight of the -kssk- surrounding water allowing the user to glide through the water with great elegance, most fitting for you Earth-clan!" The Volus took a deep breath, it just needed to push the sale a little more and he'd finally be able to afford an environmental suit upgrade, no more sweaty, horrible days stuck in an environment suit with a faulty heating system and this time he'd buy the extended warranty!
"I don't know..." Began Shepard, the Volus was pushing hard but did they really need this particular drive core unit?
"I tell you what Earth-Clan," the Volus REALLY didn't want to lose the sale, "for a measly extra fee of -kssk- three thousand credits I'll also throw in a new model ship, a Geth ship! Only a few of these around considering how they only..." The moment the Volus mention 'model ship' the Spector's eyes lit up.
"Deal!" The Commander had made his decision, after all, where else was he going to get a deal as good as that on the Citadel? With a quick credit transfer the deal was sealed and the Volus just so happened to have the model ship on hand, Shepard walked away happy while Garrus and Kasumi looked on in wonder at their courageous Commander, who had just been fleeced for a model ship that was a thousand credits cheaper on Omega, of all places.
"Do you want to tell him or shall I?" Kasumi whispered to Garrus, knowing exactly how much the model ship truly cost.
"Do you really think that Volus merchant will accept a return now?" Garrus whispered back.
"Maybe, I can be very secretive with how I get the refund." Kasumi had a small smile on her face as turned to watch the Commander approach the docking level for the Normandy.
"Kasumi..." Garrus looked at her, his tone disapproving. "We're the good guys remember?"
"I know..." she grinned "It's so much fun teasing you guys though, see you back at the ship." She engaged her stealth unit and vanished before the Turian could get another word in.
"Hmm? What's up Garrus?" Shepard turned to show his clearance to access the docking bay.
"I don't know Shepard but... what do you think of this mission?" Garrus followed Shepard through onto the dock, "Why hasn't The Illusive Man sent his own flunkies down there? Simply being over 200 years old hasn't stopped Cerberus before and not to mention, coincidentally testing new surveillance technology in the same area where a distress beacons been going off for 200 years? It's way too coincidental."
"I know," Shepard stepped inside the airlock waiting for decontamination to finish, "The Illusive Man's probably already tried to find out what's down there before, only he was probably unsuccessful, possibly lost a team down there, might be something else but he didn't offer any assistance in getting down there, either he doesn't think we need it or he hasn't got the means to get us down there safely. Either way," Shepard passed through the docking tube into the CIC, "I intend to find out what The Illusive Man is playing at and find out what happened down there, to activate a distress beacon only for no one to answer it? I can't imagine what went through their minds." Shepard turned left out of the airlock and entered the Cockpit.
"Joker, plot a course to earth, as soon as the additional supplies along with the drive core unit are delivered and stored let me know, I want to get them installed the sooner the better." He turned to EDI's avatar as it once again popped into existence, "EDI I want you to start pulling up any relevant information from the time period coinciding with the beacons activation, also check any shipping records that may have gone through the area, if we're lucky there may be some record of something unusual in the area."
"Yes, Commander Shepard, though this will take some time as many of the records will be either physical copies or transcribed digital copies stored locally."
"Understood EDI." Shepard accessed his omni-tool and began reviewing the information The Illusive Man had sent about the distress beacon, "Do what you can, if you find anything interesting let us know." Shepard deactivated his omni-tool and turned to Garrus. "Call everyone down to the conference room in an hour for briefing," as Shepard left he called he called back to Garrus and Joker, "and if anyone needs me in the mean time I'll be in my quarters working out how to plug the drive core unit into the Kodiak when it arrives."
50 minutes later, the Conference room
As the squad started to filter into the room they began to question one another, each of them wondering what the next mission was, where it was and most importantly, who was going with Shepard. They all had their specialities and combat styles, but each mission has its own difficulties and obstacles as well as its goals and objectives. Sending Grunt and Zaeed against hordes of Geth and Collectors was a great idea but anything involving fragile technology and they'd be in a tight spot, unless it needed breaking of course, thus team balance was essential with every mission.
Garrus turned to their newest recruit, "So Grunt, how are you settling in? It's not a big room you're in, but let us know, we can order a few creature comforts, I always find having a weapons bench on hand always livens up any room." That last comment got a grin out of the hulking Krogan as he, like all Krogan, liked his guns.
"A weapons bench would come in very useful." The grin on the Krogans face spread as he contemplated the various weapon modifications he could make, but then faded as he paused in thought. "Something to sleep on would be good, no matter how comfortable the tube was, I've spent enough time sleeping in there to last a lifetime." As the Krogan contemplated further on the various other things he may require, the doors to the conference room slid open to admit the Commander Shepard, followed by his XO Miranda. The squad perked up at his entrance, knowing that their next mission briefing was about to begin.
"Alright, since everyone is here already I'll start the mission briefing now, The Illusive Man contacted us earlier today, one of his research teams testing some surveillance equipment on earth detected a distress signal originating in the Atlantic Ocean, so far so good, according to the researcher in charge however and here's the real kicker, the signal has been broadcasting for over 200 years." Shepard paused as he looked around the room, though it was hard to tell, through the slight changes in facial expressions and body language he could just about tell that many of the squad were shocked, humanity hadn't even started to travel to the moon until the late 60's, the technology at the time wasn't available to make a distress beacon last that long without maintenance, hell the technology wasn't needed, the only installations that required distress beacons of that magnitude were space ships or mobile space stations with cryo-pods on board, no other installations required them and humanity hadn't started developing them yet.
"200 years? Even for Krogan that's quite some time," Grunt spoke up, as he looked around the room Mordin spoke up as well.
"Unlikely to be of human origin, technology not available or required at time, possible crashed star ship?" He paused hand on chin, "Possible? Maybe... wait! 200 years predates humanity finding Mass Relays, not one of council race origin, humanity unknown at time, also collision with sea would cause many systems to fail hard to believe anything would survive a crash landing unless in optimal condition, not found for 200 years...unlikely... couldn't have landed on a shallow oceanic shelf, would have been found...hum?" He turned to the Commander, "how far underwater does the signal originate?"
Shepard smiled, he knew Mordin would ask the important information. "The signal originates approximately 2000 meters under the sea," Shepard crossed his arms, "As you can all imagine it's unlikely to be a rescue mission after 200 years, as such we're going to go down while treating this as a technology run, we don't know for sure what's down there or what we'll find. Now I won't ask for volunteers because every time I do that someone feels the need to remind me that we're on a suicide mission as is... Garrus." Shepard pointedly looked at his Turian "vigilante", Garrus just smiled... then winced as it pulled at his still healing face. "So, Mordin and Garrus, you'll be with me on this one, we'll be taking the Kodiak once the drive core unit is plugged in, we'll survey the area initially before we take any action, once we know what we're looking at we can start salvaging what we can and find out why it's down there in the first place. Any questions?"
Grunt put hand up, "After this can I have bed or something? I haven't slept since I left the tube "
Shepard smiled, "We have another hour or two before we leave the Citadel, so you've got time to grab some stuff before we leave, put it on my credit chit."
"I've got a few bits I need to get before we leave Commander." Garrus volunteered, "I can go with Grunt, I'll show him around a bit as we get what we need, (and check out some guns)." He whispered to Grunt.
"I'd best go with em' Shep," Zaeed also volunteered, "someone's got to look after these two, make sure they don't get into any goddam trouble you know." Garrus nodded to Zaeed, guns and gun mods were necessary and if Shepard was paying? Even better.
"Alright makes sense, but you pay for your own guns." Shepard knew Garrus well and Zaeed? Him and Garrus were cut from the same cloth when it came to anything related to guns.
Zaeed sighed, "Come on then, best get started." The three of them headed off, a little dispirited now that they had been caught but still eager to see what guns were available.
Shepard smiled as he watched them go, Garrus had pulled that one on him before. He turned back to the rest of the squad, "Anyone else need anything? Alright we'll leave in approximately two hours, dismissed."
The intercom pinged in Shepard's cabin, Jokers voice announced their current location, "We're coming up on the last relay now Commander, we'll entering the Sol system within thirty minutes."
The Commander was sat at his desk writing the last of the mission reports for Admiral Hackett, just because he was working for Cerberus now doesn't mean he couldn't keep Hackett in the know. "Thanks Joker, once we're through activate our stealth drive and link us into the local comm buoy and send all mission reports to Admiral Hackett, I'm sure he'll be interested in what we've been up to." After all sighed Shepard, who knows what welcome we'll get from Alliance military until we get in contact with Admiral Hackett.
Shepard finished writing the last of the reports before saving them and logging them to be sent once Joker linked the ship linked into a comm buoy, which by his reckoning should be within the next 20 minutes. He stood and stretched his limbs as he made his way to the elevator, he also needed to speak with Alliance Command before he could get permission to enter Earth air space, it wasn't going to be easy getting access back on earth, especially since he was dead, was then revived from being dead AND now technically working with Cerberus, an illegal splinter group that had jeopardized council relations numerous times and was wanted by every species in the galaxy for a variety of reasons, none of them good. The elevator continued down to deck 3 - crew quarters, he had time to grab a coffee before he needed to contact Alliance Command.
"Morning Sergeant Gardner, I'll have mug of your strongest coffee and whatever food that'll keep me going through what I can only assume will be a horrifically long question and answer session with Alliance Command." Shepard was glad he the council reinstated his Spector status, it will help smooth things over with the Alliance.
"How strong do you want your coffee Commander?" Mess Sergeant Gardner grabbed a tin of coffee almost as big as a foot stool and proceeded to pry the lid off. "Also, I actually have some bacon cooking at the moment so how does a bacon sandwich sound?"
Shepard look at the man like he was sent from heaven, "Bacon sounds amazing right now... also, how much coffee can you put in before it's over the legal limit? It's going to be one of those days..."
"In that case Commander, you'll be wanting the 'other' coffee." The mess sergeant put the overly large tin of coffee back and proceeded to pull a much smaller one from under the counter. This tin, though much smaller than the last, looked incredibly ominous with warning symbols covering the outside, along with warnings written in what appeared to be Krogan on the lid. "This stuff is guaranteed to wake you up regardless of whether you want to be awake or not, so how strong do you want it?"
Shepard looked at the Mess sergeant in both awe and curiosity and read the name printed on the tin. "Battle Master? Good name." Shepard smiled, "How much would you advise with this... coffee?"
"Honestly sir? I've never tried it, still there's first time for everything right?" The Mess Sergeant smiled as he removed the lid and peeled back the aluminium foil sealing the tin, the heavenly smell of coffee coming from it could wake a sleeping Krogan, possibly the purpose of it in the first place.
"Alright, you've convinced me, I'll try a cup... just make it a weak one ok? This stuff smells like it would wake up Grunt." Sergeant Gardner proceeded to carefully measure out what could only be described as a dusting of coffee, like a thin film of dust, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the mug and just as he was about to add the boiling water Shepard grabbed his wrist.
"Wait," he gestured to the milk. "Milk first sergeant, you'll burn the coffee."
"It's your coffee Commander." Gardner carefully reached out for the milk, almost hesitant the Commander would intervene. "Still you know your stuff Commander, other than you and your second in command none of the crew really realises, still that seems to be the way most of them like it." He paused as the Normandy shuddered as it arrived in the Sol system and then continued to carefully finish making the Commanders drink and passed it over to him, now was the moment of truth, how good was the coffee?
Shepard took a cautious sniff of the coffee, the warning labels on the tin had him a little worried. "Well back before the incident on Akuse one of my squad mates was a coffee fanatic." Shepard smiled at the memory. "In fact, one day he gathered us in the canteen and asked us to try two different coffees he'd made, one tasted fine, the other tasted great. We asked how somehow got fresh coffee beans all the way out here, that's when we found out he made the same coffee two different ways, one water first... the other milk first. It stuck with me that did, he took the same resources, yet he got the better of two outcomes. There's always a good way to do things and a bad way, sometimes it just takes a little experience to see it that way, I took the lesson to heart after Akuse." Shepard took a final sniff of his drink. "Let's see if this coffee was a good idea or a bad one." He took a small sip. The coffee was good... though the caffeine overdose he got from that first sip sent him coughing and spluttering... "Where did you say you got this coffee from again?" Shepard asked after he managed to stop coughing. He felt as if he had been plugged into the mains, this stuff was better than stims, next time though... less coffee or way more milk.
"Well since we were on the Citadel I figured I'd get some additional supplies on account of our new crew members, anyway the vender said it was coffee made especially for Krogans, figured it would a good purchase." Gardner cringed when he saw the condition Shepard was in after just a sip. "Not the best idea then Commander?"
As Shepard got his breath back from the experience he contemplated on how good the coffee was. "It's alright sergeant, just less coffee next time... or perhaps a bigger mug..."
Shepard managed to cram down a beacon sandwich before Joker contacted him, "Commander incoming call from Admiral Hackett sir, he's on call now."
"Understood Joker, I'll take in my quarters." Shepard brushed off the last of the crumbs off his uniform, grabbed his 'coffee' and headed back up to his quarters. "Admiral Hackett sir." He saluted as the Admiral appeared on screen.
"At ease Commander, I've just read through your most recent mission report, it's actually because of that that I'm speaking to you now. I've spoken with Alliance Command on your behalf and somehow managed to convince them to let your mission in the Atlantic to go ahead. The Alliance is very interested in what's you'll find down there and although the council has reinstated your Spector status the Alliance can't be seen working with Cerberus. As such... we have a work around.
"A work around sir?"
Hackett shifted uncomfortably, "Alliance Command can't publicly be associated with you due to your Cerberus connections, we can however classify it under black ops and keep it classified and off the records. You have permission to dock at the Aegis-1 defence station, you'll have an isolated dock for your use and you'll be able to resupply via the station. That's all I could get for you via Alliance Command, they have... insisted that you are under surveillance for the duration of the mission, though that's up to them how they carry out that surveillance."
"Admiral sir the distress signal originates approximately 2000 meters under the sea, unless they send someone with us there's no other way to keep us under surveillance."
"That's up to them Shepard, they may insist on having someone come with you or they may have recon drones follow you down, we had them back in the early 2000s, so they may use them during your mission, either way commander you have black ops authorisation to complete your mission, show Alliance Command why we put your name forward for Spector status. I trust your judgement Shepard, always have."
"Thank you, Admiral, I'll ensure you get a full report of this mission once it's complete, along with anything that could help the Alliance, though until we get down there we won't know what we're dealing with." This conversation relieved Shepard greatly, if he couldn't get permission to enter Earth with his current... affiliations, then this mission was bust before it could even begin.
"That's more than enough to reassure me Commander, also after reading your report it also occurs to me that you require access to relevant information sources at the time the beacon was activated? I'll have a digital copy sent to you within an hour. Hackett out."
Before the Commander could say anymore the Admiral was gone. Well that's saved me half a day being quizzed by Alliance Command, thought the Commander as he made his way back down to the mess hall, maybe he could get another bacon sandwich and a coffee before they docked.
"Commander, we have received docking clearance at the 'Aegis-1' defence station, we'll be coming into dock within 30 minutes, do you want me to bug them for an escort down to the surface or just order pizza, considering Admiral Hackett got us permission I'm sure I can get away with it." Joker was elated when the Admiral had managed to sort Alliance brass out and secure them an isolated dock for their personal use during the mission, considering who they were technically working for Joker was expecting a full inspection of the Normandy before Alliance brass even contemplated allowing them to dock anywhere in the Sol system, an inspection Joker was certain they wouldn't pass, on account the of the Illegal AI on board and the motley crew they had gathered.
"It's only temporary Joker, let's not push the Admirals goodwill, I don't want to finish the mission only find that Cerberus has to go and build the SR3 because someone got the Normandy impounded..."
"Good call sir, I'll make sure that the pizza is ordered anonymously." There was no pizza better than what was made on Earth, obviously though when you're docked on a defence station in orbit above said planet delivery charges can be extortionate.
"Fine... no pizza..." Joker turned to find the Commander smiling.
"I'll have a thin crust pepperoni pizza, just... order from the station, ok? I don't think they'll mind that." Shepard missed pizza too, he didn't manage to have it often while growing up on earth, but you never forget your first taste.
"Alright!" Joker turned in his chair to face EDI. "Hey EDI? Check round with everyone else and see what people want, since we're getting pizza we might as well see if we can get a bulk discount. Hey Commander, I'll place the order once the missions complete, no better way to finish a mission."
Shepard left Joker to it, pizza sounded good for a change, Mess Sergeant Gardner didn't make it quite right even with "luxury" food supplies, always slightly too crispy on the edges and way too soggy in the middle, for all his talents, pizza was not one of them. He entered the elevator activating his omni-tool as he went.
"Hey Mordin, how's the Kodiak modification coming along?"
"Going well, though technology is of unusual design, suspect graduate level work, functional but not efficient, may need to follow up on manufacturer, lodge complaint."
Shepard nodded, "Ok well I'm on my way down now to give you a hand."
From what Shepard had read in the instruction manual (it was translated from Salarian into several languages including Krogan, surprisingly) the drive core module was designed to be easily modifiable to fit almost any shuttle, the only problem being that it was also an overwhelmingly complex piece of equipment hidden inside of a box no bigger than a foot stool.
As soon as the doors opened Shepard found Mordin scurrying around the Kodiak while Garrus was handing him tools every few minutes. They had managed to lift the drive core into the Kodiak and had begun attaching various cables to the Kodiak from the drive core unit.
"So, what do you think Mordin? Do you think it'll work?" The drive core was small but extremely heavy, it took the both Mordin and Garrus to lift it onto the Kodiak, but the technology was new to them both, Mordin was a Salarian but specialized in biology, not technology and Garrus knew how to calibrate any gun just by being within a hundred feet of it, but new tech wasn't his thing either.
Mordin climbed into the Kodiak and started to detach the sides of the device and unravel the incredibly complex pieces of equipment hidden away in the two foot by two foot cube. "Sorry Shepard but unsure, never seen nor used technology before, normally on ships, mass effect used fields to hold in atmosphere in case of hull ruptures or whilst doing emergency repairs, this does the exact opposite, along with other functions, it has to extend a mass effect field to cover the entire shuttle and repel or reduce the weight of the local water in order for us to travel easier and do so in a manner that it doesn't conflict with the mass effect technology already installed on the Kodiak. Most interested to see how it works, will be able to give more information once used."
Shepard looked on as the Salarian and Turian began to place mass effect emitters on the inside hull and floor of the Kodiak, these 'should' when activated form a shield around the Kodiak that makes it... submersible and watertight... hopefully. In space you don't have to worry about water pressure interfering with the thrusters, here however the rules are very different.
Shepard climbed on, grabbed a tool set and got to work, this could take a while.
"Commander." EDI's hologram popped into existence in the hanger bay. "I've just finished analysing the data packet Admiral Hackett sent us, I have a preliminary analysis of what may be the origin of the distress signal, do you wish to hear it?"
"Go ahead EDI, we're just about finished here." Shepard, Garrus and Mordin had just spent the last 30 minutes installing the drive unit into the Kodiak, although they were just about finished, a break from the work was more than welcome.
"Understood Shepard, after analysing the data for the time period I found numerous reports of kidnappings and unusual sightings from various towns and villages bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, each one indicating similar circumstances in each case, strange lights out at sea followed by a figure with a glowing face emerging from the sea which proceeds to kidnap young girls between the ages of 7 to 8 predominantly, only then to disappear back into the sea afterwards."
"Crashed ship theory is less plausible Shepard." Mordin poked his head out the Kodiak. "Possible aliens not benign though, possible raiders looking for slaves? Perhaps research vessel?"
"There's more," EDI's hologram brightened as she continued. "Before these kidnappings took place there were numerous invitations sent out from an unknown source inviting experts in all fields of research and study to join together in 'Rapture' for a better future."
"Perhaps crashed ship after all, attempting to gather worker force to aid in repair of ship, maybe use girls as hostages to enforce control? Likely needed a more intelligent work force if alien tech specialists died in crash, easier to get someone else to repair damaged sections if they already have background knowledge in area of study. Intelligent decision." Mordin mused.
"Any confirmed idea why they were doing this EDI?"
"There are obvious religious connotations in reference to 'Rapture', it is also believed that past alien civilizations have visited primitive civilizations and posed as God's using advanced technology to gain an intelligent if fanatic work force, evidence is starting to point at a crashed space ship, the survivors of which trying to repair it in order to either return home or continue their objective."
"Well I'm not sure if we'll find anything useful down there after 200 years but any working technology of unknown origin can only help out I suppose, alright Mordin, how are we doing on the Kodiak? Are we finished yet?"
"Yes, no, almost." Mordin scanned the last emitter with his omni-tool. "Just running diagnostics on emitter distribution, must be correctly placed to avoid any problems once in water, may float on water or sink like stone if problems."
"Alright Garrus give him a hand with the last few bits and then I want you both to get ready for the mission, we'll go down in the Kodiak, find the signal and then descend from there, any questions?"
"Yeah Shepard I have one." Garrus raised his arm. "Have you ever seen a Turian swim? There's normally a lot of splashing with bouts of drowning involved."
Shepard looked at him as he began to walk to the elevator. "Don't tell me that the fearless Archangel is afraid of a little water? Don't worry, if everything goes to plan then no one will have to get wet."
"Really Shepard after all we've been through you should know that the 'Plan' changes at first contact." Garrus tapped his armour and showed off the gaping hole in its rim, a reminder of his most recent close shave with death.
As the doors began to close on the now occupied elevator, Shepard smiled. "Garrus, with all the stuff we've already survived what could possibly go wrong?"
"Alright, Shepard to Normandy we're approaching coordinates now, EDI have you managed to find any other information referring to this 'Rapture' that we should know?"
EDI avatar popped into existence on the Kodiak. "Yes Commander, reports indicate that a local police force encountered a kidnap in progress that coincides with the possible 'Rapture' kidnappings, they fired upon the suspected criminal however they stated that their weapons had minimal effect and several members of force were killed during the confrontation, one officer stated that the suspect fired a bolt of lightning that struck several of the other officers, killing them. This was however written off when several live cables were found near the bodies of the officers."
"Interesting, use of energy weapons as opposed to kinetic or mass effect based, unusual choice, kinetic based weaponry would be better suited if based in sea, perhaps lack of choice for on hand weaponry. Intriguing." Mordin hummed as he began to type away on his omni-tool.
"Thanks for the heads-up EDI, ok we're in sight of the coordinates now."
"Shepard, I don't want to be captain obvious or anything but is that a lighthouse? What's it doing so far from a landmass?" Garrus motioned out the window at a decrepit lighthouse that has obviously seen better days. In fact, much of the tower had crumbled, leaving not much more than a squat building with two very impressive doors that were surprisingly intact.
"EDI what records can you pull up on that light house?"
"Checking now commander, error no data exists for this lighthouse, it doesn't exist."
"EDI I'm looking right at this thing, it's definitely there."
"That might be so Commander however there is no record of this lighthouse ever being built at this location, however records of this time are incomplete, it is possible that the information was lost or destroyed. Record keeping was rather primitive during the time period."
"Alright, we'll check it out before we go down." The Kodiak flew straight to the lighthouse and began to circle its position before finally descending on what appeared to be a set of stairs. Mordin began to run various scans on the building, swinging his omni-tool this and that as it collected data on the building.
"Hum, matches standard profile of lighthouses of the time period." He paused and began calculating how much the building had eroded and how long it would have taken based on local weather conditions. "State of decay indicates over 200 years old, coincides with beacon deployment, likely linked to our investigation, advise further data collection, may hold information relevant to mission."
"I agree with Mordin Shepard, investigations like these always gave us more information on what we're dealing with during my C-Sec days, sometimes more information than what a witness could give."
Shepard looked at them, both were eager to see what was inside the mystery building. "Alright we'll go in and 'investigate', jeez I can't take you two anywhere without checking something out." Shepard paused as he approached the doors. "Though I'm pretty curious too."
"Shepard" Mordin stepped ahead of the commander and waved his omni-tool at the entrance to the building, gathering further scans of the building. "Must advise caution, those doors may be supporting what's left of the building, may cause instability in structure."
Shepard looked over at the doors, compared to the rest of the building they were remarkably damage free, he walked up to them and gave a door a heavy kick expecting to feel resistance, what he got was a solid boom as the door slammed into the floor, it's hinges having crumbled years ago.
"Well, that's one way to make an entrance Shepard, you do have a thing for those don't you commander?" Garrus smiled as he and Mordin walked past the stunned commander and entered the remains of the building, which had surprisingly been reinforced.
Steel beams had been bolted to the interior walls and ceiling, allowing at least this past of the building to remain intact. No lights though Shepard noted as they moved into the building, Garrus and Shepard activate their suit lights while Mordin deployed a drone to survey the reinforcements that had been made to the building.
"Unusual Shepard, state of decay on reinforcements indicate only over 100 years old, someone else found this before we did, would explain why building still stands." Mordin looked round. "Also, no stairs leading to top of where remaining tower should be, indicates lighthouse maybe a front. Real secret is below our feet." Mordin pointed out the stairs heading down into the structure.
"Alright well everyone keep an eye out, we'll head on down the stairs and see what we can find." Shepard pulled his pistol out, after ensuring it was operating correctly he began to move down the stairs, into the darkness below... until Mordin's drone rushed past seemingly eager to both scan the building and light up the entire place. Shepard sighed, the darkness would have made it interesting, though now it would be easier to see what was ahead. As the squad descended the staircase they found several heavily damaged statutes bolted to the walls and the crumbling remains of one statute on the floor from where it's bolts had been eroded away. At the very bottom of the staircase they found what could only be described as a metal bubble suspended above a hole filled with water, of which the drone Mordin had deployed was going crazy as it shot back and forth around the bubble, scanning this way and that all the while downloading the scan data to Mordin's omni-tool.
"Commander according to drone, this device is actually a submersible, has had repairs done, no Eezo inside, or any mass effect based technology, primitive yet effective for estimated construction date, likely used to bring personal down from surface, certainly not for resource transport, though additions to internal and external mechanisms suggest capable of carrying loads, unsure of what however." Mordin checked over the scan data the drone had collected, human design he mused, perhaps not alien presence after all, more data required. Interestingly he noticed, still operational the drone couldn't detect any problems in the structure of the submersible, well maintained.
"You know Shepard, this could essentially be a checkpoint, back on omega some smuggling rings use them to ensure security at their operations, this could be a similar thing." Garrus began checking around the submersible. "Likely be a one-man security piece, this thing wouldn't have great movement under water, a nice slow target. Anyone could force their way in but if they didn't have correct pass code for the other end, they'd get blown up by torpedo. All they'd loose is the submersible and maybe the security guy, but still ensures the operation can continue without a rival gang taking over, smart."
Shepard looked around, trying to see if there was anything else of interest in the room. "I take it that the water hole there is the deployment point for the submersible, anything down there we should be worried about?"
Mordin directed his drone to just above the waterline. "Initiating composite scan, hum, scan data indicates this is sea water, likely as you say, it's a simple deployment point."
"Alright if that's everything then let's head back to the Kodiak and test out its new upgrades, one way or another the Alliance will want to hear of this." They ascended the stairs and back out through the doors of the building, door... one was on the floor. "Alright Garrus your piloting, Mordin get those upgrades activated and we'll start homing in on the distress beacon. Let's find out what's going on down there." The Kodiak hovered just above the waterline and then slowly began to descend into the ocean. 5 meters down. 10 meters down. 15 meters down. 19 meters down. 22 meters down. 24 meters down. 24 meters. They had stopped.
"Garrus why have we stopped? Is there a problem with the upgrades?"
"I don't know Shep, the Kodiak is at full thrust to descend but nothing is moving, there is definitely power going to them but I'm not getting any response." Garrus was fiddling with the controls and dials on the console in front of him, trying to get the Kodiak moving again.
"Ah, suspect problem, try easing off the thrusters." Mordin was also active, trying to identify the problem while scanning the drive unit they had plugged into the Kodiak.
"Alright I'm decreasing the thrusters output now." Was all Garrus had time to say before the Kodiak shot up in the water, steadily ascending despite their need to go deeper.
Soon they were back where they started, on the surface. Though Mordin now know what the problem was. "Drive unit massively decreases the mass of the water around us, water gets displaced by heavier water around it, water then shoots upwards like hot water spot in cold water, deeper we go the more powerful the water will shoot towards surface, 24 meters, the Kodiak would require more thruster power to counteract upwards thrust of water, need alternative method down to descend to beacon. Luckily alternative method available." He looked towards the remains of the lighthouse.
Shepard caught onto what Mordin was thinking and he too looked at the light house, today was going to be an interesting day he sighed. "Alright Garrus let's get back to the lighthouse, I just hope that thing still works."
Garrus nodded glumly, he didn't like going in the water as is, now they have to do it in a vehicle that probably hadn't moved in a hundred years or more. Today was a bad day to be a Turian.
Soon enough they were back in front of the submersible, their one way in and out. Strangely enough their luck was holding out, the devise suspending the submersible was working fine and gently lowered it into the water. One last thing to do.
"Shore party to Normandy come in."
"We read you shore party." Came jokers voice over the radio.
"The Kodiak didn't work out, though we have a possible alternative which we are about to try, we may lose radio communications so keep an eye out on the Kodiak, I don't want anyone stealing it while we're gone."
"Understood commander, I'll also get the pizza order in as soon as you finish. See you top side commander." The radio cut off leaving the three in silence as they looked at the submersible.
"It... it looks strong enough, I suppose." Garrus tapped the hull of the submersible nervously, he didn't like the idea of going underwater, but needs must when the devil drives so the human saying goes... Though he never understood it.
"Structurally secure, should be fine according to scans..." Mordin was looking forward to this, though primitive in design it seemed fully capable of making the journey, however long that journey turned out to be.
"Alright let's get in, I want shields up and helmets on, just in case everyone has a buoyancy aid with them, right? Good, I don't want to use them but keep them handy."
The three of them got in and sat themselves down, this thing was fully automatic so hopefully it would take them straight to whatever structure the beacon was attached to. Shepard closed the glass hatch and pulled the lever on the main console and watched as they descended into the ocean. Strange disjointed music started to play through the speakers set on either side of the hatch, they looked in wonder at fishes as they swam by and at a large squid startled by their presence in its ocean. But what startled them most was the city they saw spread across the ocean floor. All glass and steel, broken in places with figures walking around the various tunnels that made up the city, connecting the buildings to one another.
"Ah." Said Mordin as he stared in amazement. "Underwater city... did not anticipate that. Interesting."