CCS-Legend, Slipspace en route to Citadel Station. 1100 Hours.
The Legend was truly a work of art in its own right and if the situation hadn't been so dire John would have loved to admire it further but sadly the situation was that dire. No more than three hours ago that the Alliance top Brass had received a transmission from the Council telling them that Reaper forces were en route towards the Citadel to capture it as well. That would be a knockout punch for the Alliance and most of the Citadel Space if the Reapers captured the Citadel as well as Earth. It would be a crushing defeat and no Alliance marine or Spartan would be able to stomach it, they had lost Earth and now the second most strategic target would be the Citadel.
But as Shepard moved through the halls of the Legend he wondered exactly why the Reapers waited until now to try and take the Citadel. It made no sense, if they wanted to cut off the other races they could have captured it outright, instead they took Earth, destroyed Arcturus station and were engaging all the space faring races across the known universe.
What were the Reapers after? What was their ultimate goal and why go through these cycles? Despite being at war with them, they had nothing about their motives and objectives, so far all reports they were capturing and converting all species across the galaxy, taking colonies and creating conversation camps for their ground forces while destroying any fleets who were unlucky enough to encounter them, but without the MAC guns of the UNSC tech most of the Alliance Fleets were being whittled down.
Turning another corner he proceeded to the Ops Briefing room where a secure connection was being established with the highest ranking military officials of the Citadel fleets. Earth sadly would have to wait to be retaken, Shepard knew they needed to concentrate on the Citadel or this war would be much, much shorter.
He made, two Cerberus armored marines stood by the door, they saw the Commander in his Mark VII MJOLNIR armor, saluted and Shepard returned their gesture before moving past them into the room. The doors hissed closed behind him and inside the room was the Cerberus Captain of the Legend, aside from her it was just him.
The holo-table sunk into the floor and Shepard and the Captain stepped onto it.
Their holographic forms appeared in front of the Citadel council along with Admiral Hackett. Their expressions were grave to put it lightly. "Commander Shepard," the Asari councillor, Tevos, greeted him with a nod before turning another nod to the Cerberus Captain, but Shepard saw the flurry of negative emotions in her eyes for the Cerberus Captain. "Captain."
Curt as well. Shepard and the Captain replied, "Councillors."
Udina was the first to speak after them. "As I'm sure we all know by now, two hours ago a…substantial Reaper fleet was on it's way here, to the Citadel. Judging by the numbers alone, it's obvious they mean to take the station," he took a breath, "We've begun evacuation the civilian population while offering weapons to all those willing to help C-sec in the defense of the Citadel should the Reapers board the station itself."
The Turian Councillor spoke next, lifting a Datapad. "We've also recalled sixty percent of the entirety of the Citadel fleets to return to the citadel and aid in the defense of the Station as well, though, the varying distances travelled, we'll be lucky to have a hundred and twenty-nine ships by the time the Reapers reach us in three." he muttered, mandibles flexing in what Shepard knew as stress. "We're stretched thin across the galaxy…. Then we try to pull together where it counts and we're not gonna be fast enough."
"Councillor," Shepard frowned as he spoke, stepping forward. "Talking like that already? We haven't lost the Citadel yet, and I don't think we plan to lose it either. We won't lose it, not like we lost Earth." He spoke with confidence, certainty. "We've bonded together to fight a common threat, better late than never, right? We'll hold off long enough to be reinforced."
"Shepard is right," Hackett agreed. "We'll pull through this. And hopefully if we have enough ships, maybe we can also retake Earth in one swoop, turn the tide of this conflict."
"What else are we doing to make the Citadel defensible?" Shepard asked now when a moment of silence passed over their meeting. The Council had never seen such confidence, such bravery in the face of odds like these before, not since the Turians. Humanity, they realized, despite having lost their homeworld was still willing to fight its hardest.
It was inspiring.
"We're refitting all civilian ships with weapons, setting up a perimeter around the relay and trying to gather every MAC gun equipped ship we can pull from the other theatres of war," Hackett replied to Shepard. "We're also coordinating with Cerberus Intelligence Officers about Reaper movements in neighbouring systems, try and give us real time information on their whereabouts," Hackett paused, then added. "We're also discussing a possible solution. It came from Doctor T'soni, Shepard. She and Cerberus techs have been looking over the data from the Mars Archives. They've discovered plans to a Prothean Super weapon."
A Prothean super weapon? Shepard blinked at that one. "A super weapon? What kind?"
"We don't know, we're still sorting through that, but from what she tells us. It's massive, requiring a lot of resources. But it also requires something called The Catalyst, what that is we're still unclear about as well." The Admiral sighed, "She's still working on it. But we're not throwing our chips in with that, it would take too long and we need to win this war quickly. We don't have the time to build a super weapon with so many unknowns."
Shepard agreed, hopefully Liara will come up with more in the following hours. If she was working with Cerberus, they would hopefully keep on task. Say what you will about the Black Ops group, they knew their stuff. "Anything else?"
"Yes, we've recalled the entire Spartan Divisions from their respective fields and deploying them to the Citadel for added defense. That includes you, Shepard. You'll be deployed to the Citadel with the other Spartans to provide support as needed," Hackett smiled thinly. "I feel sorry for the poor bastards who land."
"Sir, so do I." Shepard grinned, not at all sorry.
It would be good to fight alongside his fellow Spartans again, he knew James was itching to tear it up with others like he and Shepard. It would be one big family reunion, except with Reaper corpses littering the floors and skies like the oversized cockroaches they were.
Stow it, Spartan. Mendez told them about Over-Confidence and its dangers, Shepard realized he was being overly confident. Spartans were good, but Reapers were still a force to be reckoned with. He quickly cooled his emotions down, no need to get ahead of himself.
"Captain," Tevos turned to the Cerberus Captain. "When will you be arriving?"
"In twenty minutes or so, Councillor," The Captain replied simply. "Once we do, I assume we'll receive our orders on site?"
"Yes," Tevos nodded.
Slipspace, it was a wonderful thing. Shepard almost grinned again, but kept himself in check. It had provided so much doors into combat, no doubt the Reapers had been surprised by such technology when The Legend left an impression on Palavan in the retaking of the planet. It's Plasma Weaponry and sheer size certainly left an impression on Shepard. The thing made the Destiny Ascension feel like a toy.
"Anything else?" Shepard asked.
"Nothing more at this time, please arrive quickly," The Councillors closed the link. Leaving the Captain, Shepard and Hackett alone.
Hackett spoke after a moment. "They're very curious about our gear."
"They know about the AIs?" Shepard raised a brow.
"No, but they if they find out they'll throw a fit." Hackett sighed, the after affects of this war were going to be very troublesome indeed.
"They'll just have to suck it," The Captain spoke up from her place, eyes livid with agitation. "After this war, humanity will be the most powerful player in this galaxy. They wanna make a fuss about how we use our tech? let em, they can't do anything to make us stop."
Shepard couldn't disagree, between the ability to use Slipspace, deploy Spartans in MJOLNIR and use MAC guns. He now saw Humanity would be the sole Supreme power within the galaxy and he doubted the Council would take extreme measures against them considering it was humanity who pulled them out of the fire. No, the Council owed Humanity a massive debt they did anything and Shepard would be most displeased.
The Cerberus Captain raised a hand to her ear, listening to the comm unit there before lifting her gaze back up to Hackett, "Sorry, Admiral, Commander. I'm needed on the bridge," she snapped a crisp salute, turned and made off towards the door.
Shepard didn't turn to watch her go, instead he pulled himself from his thoughts and looked at Hackett. "Where are you now? The Citadel?"
The Admiral nodded. "Yes, I'm overseeing fleet organization and strategies with half a dozen other fleet commanders, this joint fleet business is very tricky," He gave Shepard a lopsided smile. "But it will be worth-" his image flickered, voice distorting finally blinking from existence.
"Hackett?" Shepard frowned, then keyed his comm. "Captain, something just went wrong with the transmission from Hackett, this a technical reason?"
"No, Commander. We've just received intel that the Citadel has come under Reaper attack, looks like a small fleet made it there before the main assault force," the Captain's cool as ice tone returned, "We'll be there shortly. Gather the troops in the hanger, prep some shuttles and be prepared to go in guns hot."
"Ma'am," Shepard doubled timed it the armory. He reached, stepped inside and when the requisition Officer turned to him, Shepard spoke firmly. "I need a weapon."
Citadel Station, Widow system. 1041 Hours.
Frederic-105 balanced the knife on his fingertip, like he loved to do to test his focus and balance. His finger didn't twitch, the knife didn't teeter until finally he flicked the blade around and caught it by the handle and with a smooth move of his arm sheathed the weapon. He turned to check over Blue Team, each had been adorned in the newest Mark VII MJOLNIR armor. Soft green plates, black under suit and golden visors. It felt natural, yet different somehow to be wearing them.
Linda was doodling with the scope of her Black Widow Anti-Material rifle. He could tell she would have preferred an SRS99C model rifle, but she wouldn't complain to him, even through her armor he could see she was focused on making the adjustments to the scope. A pre-mission habit of hers.
His gaze drifted to Kelly. She was lounging out by some ammunition crates with a Banshee in hand. She looked as if able to feel his eyes on her, their stares met and she nodded to him. He returned the gesture shortly. Kelly had always been there for him, she was his second in command and a fine soldier.
Jorge, it had been awhile, but he was still Spartan and it was nice to see he hadn't lost his touch for heavy Weapons. Hefting a Dragon launcher on one shoulder and a Banshee in the other hand. Fred had asked where he had been all the years before Reach, the large man had just told him being noble. Fred left it at that.
Then there was the S-IIIs who had been turned into IVs due to the further augmentation of the SPARTAN IV Program, Ash, Olivia and Mark had become a full part of Blue Team. Each were all wearing Mark VII, Ash was a bright young soldier, even by Spartan standards he was a good leader. Fred had a feeling Ash would go far. Mark skills with his own Widow was impressive, he wasn't quite Linda, but few could match his teammate in skill, but Mark's own skills far outshone anything the others could do as well. Olivia, she was a good soldier in general, she was faster than the others, slower than Kelly, a better shot than Ash, but not Mark, she could lead if it came down to it, but not like Ash or Fred.
She was very adaptable, if not quick to temper sometimes.
They all fiddled with their gear, a mixture of Widows, Banshees and Dragon launchers.
Fred and Blue Team were more than ready for this war and after months of training the IVs for the war he was eager to step onto a battleground and do what he did best. Be a Spartan. He looked up into the space of the Citadel, where dozens of ships, Asari, Turian, Alliance and Solarian all mixed up in an impressive defense fleet and more would only arrive to defend this key point in the Galaxy's overall defense.
It felt like Reach to him and he didn't know if he liked that or not, Reach had fallen despite the best efforts of his Spartans on the ground or John's in space they had lost. Reach had been glassed and the UNSC suffered a near fatal blow to its military strength. And Fred had lost more men than any other Operation he had ever lead in his career as a Spartan and a leader. Reach had never made Fred feel more worthless as a leader.
An armored hand landed on his shoulder where it stayed a moment. Fred didn't have to look up to see it was Kelly, consoling him as she usually did when he found himself sinking into a dark pit inside his mind, guiding him back to the light that was his duty. He took a breath, gathered his wits and looked up at her. "Thanks, Kelly."
"No problem," her tone a fracture softer..
He stood, stretched out his armored limbs and turned back to Blue Team. "Alright, Blue Team, gather your gear." Blue Team snapped to their orders, attaching Thermal Magazines to the magnetic plates on their armor and attaching more traditional fabric pouches along their thighs for added carrying capacity for their ammunition.
Fred looked over their position. It was a hastily converted Defense checkpoint in one of C-Sec's security stations, they had brought in crates of Thermal clips and magazines, weapons and weapon emplacements. This checkpoint had two heavy dual barrelled machineguns with overlapping fields of fire down the wide hallways to the checkpoint. Should the Reapers land ground troops on the station, there were seven others checkpoints such as this. Zulu, Foxtrot, Kilo, November, Indigo, Bravo and Juliet respectively. Fred and Blue Team were in charge of their construction and now it was time to move onto the next checkpoint to see if it was up to par like this one.
Sides the seven checkpoints. The main C-Sec headquarters was the primary Military command center from which all the defensive efforts on the station itself. Fleet efforts were being communicated aboard the Flagship Destiny Ascension. All in all, Fred was pleased to see the hustle around here. And unlike Reach, they had hours, not minutes, to prepare a defense.
After their gear had been gathered, they left the checkpoint in the care of two dozen Special Response C-Sec team members and a few regular officers. Fred and the rest of Blue Team proceeded to the central transit hub to get to their transport. Once in the air Blue Team decided to simply enjoy the ride to the other checkpoint, Gamma.
"Fleet sure is small," Kelly said from beside him. Gazing up through the window into the space overhead where the main defense fleet had gathered.
"This universe had laws pertaining to fleet size," Fred replied with a sigh. Why did they have such a law? It only limited their power overall and made policing much more difficult. "From what I have seen, that fleet up there is rather large, considering how many more on their way, I think we'll have the largest fleet in this universe. Added to the Citadel's MAC weaponry. I think we have a chance."
"Reach was the same way," Jorge said from beside Linda in the second pair of seats. Every Spartan understood and shared the same bitter memories of their once great fortress in the stars. "We should jinx ourselves."
"Spartans make their own luck," Linda whispered beside him.
"That they do," Kelly agreed shortly.
There was a sudden buzzing in their com units, The Spartans quickly check their gear, Fred open a channel to Linda, she didn't reply to his call. They tried, nothing from anyone, the buzzing grew louder and Kelly peaked up through the window a powerful light began to formed in the space in the center of the Citadel's arms. Near the tip of the Citadel tower, it collected energy, slowly, a ring of blue white energy appeared over their heads.
The transport they were inside shuddered as an electrical surge struck their systems. "Prepare for a hard landing!" Fred grit his teeth, took the steering wheel in his hands and tried, to no avail, to steady the now tumbling craft.
"What the hell is that!? Slipspace rupture?" Kelly growled, grabbing anything for a brace.
Linda gripped the overhead railing, silent. "Not sure!" Jorge said from his spot.
In the rear of the craft Ash, Olivia and Mark were clutching their own railings, but each had a hand on their weapons as well. The transport descended, skimmed along an overhead archway and then tumbled into one of the wards where it crashed into a storefront. The smoking, broken transport stayed unmoving for a few moments before the front and rear doors were unceremoniously kicked off their hinges. Then several heavily armored figures stepped out of the wreck, weapons in hand and some patting the side of their heads.
A few civilians had come to investigate the crash. But all throughout the air the rapid transit shuttles, military transports and other smaller craft plummeted. Also having lost power, A Special Response team appeared at the crash site, the leader was a Turian. He approached the Spartans. "Alliance, right? You guys alright?" he asked, tone urgent but calm. The sign of a veteran.
Fred glanced over his teams Bios. They were all green. "We're good, sir," he looked overhead as a speeder sped by before crashing into another store further up on the ward. "You got coms?"
The Turian shook his head. "What that was, it knocked out our communication packages, we can't even raise the checkpoints." he explained.
That wasn't good, the rapid transit system was down and all support in the air at the time had just taken crash courses. Overhead the ring of energy brightened a fraction before it rippled open, revealing the front end of a Sovereign Class-Reaper ship. Another followed and another until Fred counted almost two dozen Reapers entering Citadel space by bypassing the relay.
"By the spirits…" The Turian said in fearful awe.
Fred narrowed his eyes. That wasn't right, in order to perform this galaxy's version of a Slipspace jump you needed a relay. And there was no relay here unless, Damnit, why didn't I see it before? Shepard's report and explanation on the Reapers had mentioned that all this, the citadel and Relays, had all been built by the Reapers. The Citadel didn't look like the normal relays, but then again most relays weren't designed to allow an entire race of sentient machines to travel through in a flood of genocidal fury.
Fred tried his com. "Anyone receiving me?" static. He looked back up, saw the defense fleet attempting to turn around, but with the closed space they were sharing, they couldn't move at full speed to face the enemy that had just flanked them. Fred knew what was coming, he knew it and damned if he couldn't do anything to stop again this time too.
He grit his teeth and waited for the slaughter. For the inevitable truth that he who controlled the air controlled the ground and his Spartans would be helpless, wait, helpless? He turned to the Turians. "Do you have status' on the MAC emplacements?"
The Turian blinked out of his stupor and thought a moment. "They're operation. But their targeting systems are done because of the burst-"
"Can they be fired manually?" Fred cut in.
"Yes, they can." The Turian seemed to understand what Fred was getting at because the fear in his eyes was dimming and being replaced by the spark of eagerness to best a foe. An explosion echoed out overhead and they looked spacewards. Above the Destiny Ascension detonated. The most powerful ship this universe could construct was just destroyed.
Fred looked back to the Turian. "Split up your team, we'll split our forces and make way to two MAC locations." he turned to Blue Team, "Ash, you're leading Blue Beta, take Linda, Olivia and Jorge." Ash nodded, snapped a salute. "The rest of you," Fred addressed the remainder of Blue Team. "You're with me."
The Turian constructed two teams, each comprised of four members, soon their parties paired up and they went their separate ways on foot. Fred wasn't going to let this end like Reach. Not again.
Destiny Ascension, Citadel. 1100 Hours.
Matriarch Indaryne sat atop her command throne inside the formidable Destiny Ascension. The flagship of the Citadel fleet since her construction and the pride of the Asari Republics. She boasted enough fire power to sheer any other ship in half with her Mass Accelerator cannon and enough GARDIAN lasers to roast four squadrons of fighters. It was a lovely ship and the Matriarch couldn't be more proud to command her.
She watched as ships moved about carefully into their assigned positions. A holographic tactical map was active on the bridge while she coordinated their defenses. The humans had placed various new weapon emplacements on the Citadel itself. MAC guns is what they called them, apparently for a last line of defense against Reaper forces should the fleet not stop their forces.
Indaryne had every confidence they would stop the Reapers at the relay. The fleet was ready, they had watched combat data time and time again, each captain had studied every battle against the Reapers in the last several hours, she herself had taken the liberty of seeing them beforehand and again. She would defend this citadel and crush the enemy like the insects they appeared to be.
Com chatter increased and reports filled the holoview. Reports from the initial greeting force by the relay, nothing yet. Still clear and safe, Indaryne hated the waiting, absolutely hated it. But it bought their people on the Citadel enough time to prepare and for the fleet to get into position and for more ships arrive to reinforce their lines. Assuming they didn't meet the Reaper Strike force on the way here.
Suddenly, her Communications Officer turned to her, worry creasing her otherwise beautiful Asari features. "Ma'am, communication lines are experienced… problems." she said, unsure what to call it.
"Put it on speaker." Indaryne replied. Her com Officer did so and a dull buzzing filled the bridge, the crew didn't turn from their stations but they did pause slightly, what was that? "What in the Goddess is this? Is it some malfunction?" she asked her officer.
"No ma'am, no ship of ours is broadcasting, we're not receiving a signal, its just… interferance," the Com officer's hands flew over some keys in an attempt to find the problem. "I'm reading no software intrusions or misplacements. Whatever this is, it's not normal."
"Can we hail the other ships?"
Indaryne frowned, stood and moved to the Communications station and stared at the information sprawling across the screen. "What is this?" she narrowed her eyes at the screen.
"Ma'am!" Her Weapons Officer called to her urgently. "High Energy output detected behind us! Energy levels rising steadily." she turned back to her screen, "Signature matches relay transitions!"
"But there isn't a relay nearby!" Indaryne snapped and marched back to her chair. "Put it on view-" an electrical surge rocked the ship, making it shudder slightly and their screens sputter, the holodisplay died and sparks flooded the command keys of the bridge.
"Report!" Indaryne barked.
"Ma'am, communications are down!" Operations called. "Weapons systems minimal, propulsion minimal and kinetic barriers are fried. We're virtually dead in space!"
"What the hell was that?" An Electro Magnetic Pulse? It had to be, it had taken their systems for one hell of a ride.
"Ma'am! I'm reading relay transitions again!" Operations called, "Signatures are a match to Sovereign Class Reapers, behind us!"
"Turn this ship around!" Indaryne. "Order all ships to turn around and engage!"
"We can't! Coms are still down!"
"Ma'am! They're targeting us! Estimate five, no, seven Reaper vessel targeting us!" The Asari stood with fear written across her face before sprinting to try and escape the bridge, maybe make it to the escape pods.
Indaryne didn't bother. By the time that Asari made it halfway they would be on their way to the Goddess. "Been an honor, sisters." Their kinetic barriers were down, they couldn't turn fast enough and without communications they were completely exposed to the attacks that were about to tear the Ascension apart.
The Reaper fleet hovered in place a moment, soon all twenty-nine of the Sovereign Class ships accompanied by three Carrier-Class vessels, which veered off and descended to the arms of the Citadel to drop off their payload of Reapified prisoners turned killing machines. Seven Reapers revealed their glowing red eyes, which quickly began to charge for the initial attack of this likely short battle.
The Citadel defense fleet sluggishly turned, their barriers and other systems down or almost out, a few even collided mid-flight together with their sister ships in their mad frenzy to turn and face their foe. All for not.
The first wave of Reapers opened fire, spears of light cutting across space like rapier strikes and bisected several ships, others pierced their reactors and caused detonations which sent the debris falling into other unshielded vessel beside them in their formations. The Destiny Ascension was being cut across and through by the concentrated of seven Reapers. It faltered, vented atmosphere and listed lazily to the side.
The Harbinger-Class vessel targeted the dying ship. It's Violet eye gathered power, glowed white hot before firing three spears of light, impacting the Ascension with enough force and energy to shear it into two pieces while one of its "fins" barely held on due to the melted hull that the beam had caused. It listed faster then detonated in a brilliant show of sparks, debris and fire.
The Reaper fleet moved forward, going in for the mop up as the few surviving ships tried to make way towards the relay force. Which had turned about and were moving at best speed to aid the Citadel despite the fact the main force had just been decimated by the surprise attack. Their Mass Accelerator Cannons fired, cutting across space and impacting the Reaper's kinetic barriers, harmlessly deflected. More ships weapons impacted across the Reapers fleet, a few lost their shields and were minorly damaged.
But they continued forward, meeting the Citadel fleet with an almost angry charge. Their energy beams cut across space, shattering the Kinetic of smaller ships and destroying them. Larger Dreadnought and Cruiser class vessels lost their barriers, were badly damaged, but had the strength to continue firing. Others luckily evaded the strikes and sped forward to take the heat off their larger ships to save the firepower.
On the bridge of the SSV-Hannibal, a Dreadnought class ship from the Alliance. Admiral Hackett stood and watched the Reaper fleet approach, he turned to his com Officer. "Send a message to the Spirit, Legend and Reach! I want them here ASAP!" he snapped to the younger officer before turning back to the view screen. "Hard to port!"
The Hannibal veered hard to the left to avoid an energy beam from one of the Reaper Vessels. Only to have the weapon graze their barriers in the rear, Hackett frowned, "Order the Horus and Velsier to form up on us! I want them targeting the Reapers to our front. Have them fire their cannons and disruptor torpedoes on my mark!"
He turned to his Weapons Operator. "Arm two Hellfire missiles and prepare to fire on my signal." he turned as his crew jumped to his orders, in moments the Asari and Turian dreadnoughts fired their cannons and torpedoes at the two Reapers Hackett indicated. They impacted and took down its barriers.
Hackett grinned. "Fire Hellfires!"
Two missiles shot from the hull of the Hannibal and streaked towards the undefended Reapers. They struck center mass of the targets and with a vicious fireball blew the Reapers in half, they floated apart and Hackett hushed the celebrations of his crew to order them to dodge the incoming volley of fire.
Fighter deployed to meet the fleet of Iris fighters that they Reapers began to deploy as well. Soon, Hackett watched as the space around him was filled with explosions, Reapers and Citadel froces exchanging vicious attacks, it was a frenzy of Sharks VS Killer Whales.
A blast rocked the Hannibal and Hackett stumbled, steadied himself and looked up. "I hope the reinforcements arrive before we're put down." he muttered. He was thankful to be fighting at all, from the initial readings of the main defense fleet their system had been hit hard, unlike the fleet Hackett was commanding by the Relay. A lucky break, he supposed.
Now it was all on how long they could last in space and the ground.
End of chapter 30
There it is, people! I finally updated again and this time. The story slowly comes to a close! So, expect the next few chapters to begin to wrap this up.