Chapter 1: Revelations
Shepard snapped out of his trance. He looked away from the hole in the cargo bay. "Wh-What? Sorry?"
"Sorry, Commander," Joker said. "You were kind of spacing out there. I was asking what our next step is."
Shepard glanced at the OSD. "EDI, can the Normandy make it back to the Citadel?"
"Yes, Commander. Due to the upgrades we added to the Normandy, damage is minimal. The most damage sustain was to the cargo bay by the oculus. Though when using the mass relays, it is best that no crew member is in the cargo hold."
"Set a course for the Citadel, EDI."
"Right away, Commander. ETA: 10 hours."
"You think the Council will believe us now?" Joker asked.
"Well this data contains information on Reapers structures, weapons and technology. If this doesn't convince them, the only thing that will is dropping a Reaper directly on them."
"Again?" He cocked an eye. "I'll be heading back to the cockpit, Commander. Can't completely count on EDI to get us all the way there."
Shepard turned around and accidentally ran into Thane. "Oh, sorry, Thane."
"It's alright, Commander." He lowered his head briefly. "About the base... It was a hard choice but I do believe you made the correct one." Thane flashed a smile and continued walking.
Shepard looked to see Legion to his right. "Hey, Legion. Something wrong?"
"You made an interesting choice. You rejected everything the Geth strived to be, perfect unity. You even rejected using the collector base to fight against the Reapers. You are more like us than you think."
Shepard smiled. "Maybe. Have you been able to find out about the Heretics?"
"And what has happened to them?"
"Ten percent of re-written Geth were unable to successfully come back to the side of the true Geth. They were destroyed trying to change. Sixty percent were corrupted and require extensive repairs before they can completely rejoin the collective. The remaining thirty percent were able to change without any problem."
"Truthfully, Legion. Was it the right call?"
Legion's eye flaps shifted up and down. "Destruction of Heretic station would have resulted in a civil war between Geth factions and with organics. More Geth would have been destroyed in that war. But due to the trauma faced by the Heretics, the main Geth faction may become less efficient in our operations."
"So you're saying that either it was a large scale war or weaker Geth?"
"Yes. Though another war in the galaxy would have made all races too weak for when the Reapers arrive. We may be weaker, but we are united." It paused. "We have an inquire."
"Before the Collector mission and before you went to fight the Reaper-Human hybrid, you made a speech. The speech yielded no new intelligence or strategy. The speech was mostly a repetition of what we already know. What was the purpose of the speech?"
Shepard raised a brow. "The purpose was to motivate the squad. To remind them what we are fighting for."
"That explains some of the readings we were getting from Normandy's crew."
"We have been making an assessment on the Normandy's fighting prowess. We found that when fighting by your side, squad units' strength increase by 9.3%, reflexes increase by 23.4%, endurance increase by 21.6% and focus increase by 32.4%. After each speech these factors were doubled, increasing the fighting potential of each squad unit."
"We call it a 'Call to Arms'," Shepard said.
Legion looked him in the eyes. "We will look into this concept."
"I'll talk to you later, Legion."
"One more issue."
"When you have the time we wish to speak to both, you and Creator-Tali'Zorah."
Legion continued to repair one of the holes in the cargo deck. Almost half of the crew was all over the cargo bay repairing what was the majority of the damage done to the Normandy. The shielding prevented the bay from being exposed to the vacuum of space. It was calming and creepy for the crew to repair the holes.
Shepard went up the elevator to Engineering to see Tali. He approached from behind, but before he could utter a word she said, "Just so you know, I'm running a fever, I've got a nasty cough, and my sinuses are filled with something I can't even describe." She briefly paused to allow a look of worry come across Shepard's face. "And it was totally worth it."
Shepard smiled. "Do you like to tease everyone, or just me?"
"Just you, Shepard," she said in a playful tone. "My reaction was milder than I thought it would be." Tali placed a hand on his chest and whispered in a seductive tone, "It won't be long until I'm immune."
Shepard walked closer and placed his hands on her sides. He smiled, leaned forward and whispered, "That is great news. I just want to let you know that you don't need to sleep in that pod of yours anymore."
Tali looked him in the eyes. "Are you asking me to move in?"
A grin came across his face as he replied, "Yes."
"Keelah. Yes, Shepard. I would love that." She placed a hand on his cheek. "Thank you, for coming after me when the platform…"
"I wasn't about to lose you. You mean too much to me." They embraced. Shepard pulled away."Legion spoke to me earlier. It said it wanted to talk to us about something."
"I don't know. Just wanted to speak to us." Shepard looked to his right and saw Gabby and Ken watching them. "Something you two want to add?"
"No, nothing at all Commander," Gabby stammered.
"What does she look like under- Uff!" Ken tried to ask before being elbowed in the stomach by Gabby.
"Nothing at all."
Shepard looked back to Tali and smiled. "I'll let you get back to work. Tell me when you're ready to talk to Legion."
He exited engineering, but was stopped by Jack who called out from below the deck, "Hey Commander! I want to speak to you."
"Alright, Jack." Shepard went down the steps and found Jack stretched out on her cot. She wore her jeans with her black vest. Her sunglasses were carelessly tossed to the ground. "Something on your mind, Jack?"
"How did the Illusive Man react to the destruction of the base?"
"You would've liked to have seen his face."
Jack smiled mischievously and sat up. "I'm guessing that means ties with Cerberus are severed?"
"Yeah," he answered matter-of-factly. "I'm just heading up to make the announcement."
"And that means that Cerberus is going to be coming after you."
Shepard got where she was heading. He smiled and said, "Yeah. I guess they will."
"Then count me in as part of your crew. It'll be easier to kill more Cerberus when they're coming after us. Not to mention all of the fights ahead with the Reapers."
"It'll be good to have you stay, Jack."
Shepard approached the cockpit behind Joker. "How's the ship handling?"
"She's in pretty good shape, Commander," he replied. "Still in need of repairs, but she would be borderline wreckage if we didn't get those upgrades. So you need something?"
"I want to make an announcement to the crew."
"EDI, open ships communications for the crew."
"Communications are open."
"This is Commander Shepard. The mission to stop the Collectors is over. Everyone called it a suicide mission, but here we are. As most know, the Illusive Man contacted me before I set the explosives. He wanted me to preserve the base. I destroyed that base knowing the risks it held and the horrors it committed." He paused. "From this point on, ties with Cerberus are severed. For those who are still loyal to Cerberus, may leave when we reach port. I... The Galaxy owes you everything. You're all heroes. But know that my mission is to stop the Reapers. We need the trust and strength of the galaxy to stop the Reapers. Together we will fight. Together we will win."
"You can always count me in Commander," Joker said. "What about you EDI?"
"I am part of the Normandy's crew and Shepard is the commanding officer."
"EDI, notify me when we enter the Serpent Nebula."
Tali and Shepard walked through the med-bay and approached the AI core. The doors slide open to reveal Legion who stood in the back of the room facing forwards. It was always creepy to the crew that it would stand in one for hours on end.
"You wanted to talk to us Legion?" Shepard asked.
"Yes, Shepard-Commander. We have reviewed our time on the Normandy, our conversations, and the cooperation with Creator-Tali'Zorah and came to a consensus concerning Rannoch."
"And what consensus is that, Legion?" Tali asked while squeezing Shepard's hand.
"Our previous conclusion of the Creator race would attack us 100% of the time was incorrect. We reassessed our conclusions. Peace is indeed possible. After sending a proposition to the collective, we have finally reached a consensus. It is in the best interest of both races that we return Rannoch to the Creator race. The Creators will be able to fight at full capacity without concern about non-combatants. With a stronger galactic army, we stand a better chance at defeating the Old Machines." It then looked at Tali. "Creator-Tali'Zorah, please contact the Migrant Fleet and send them the proposition that in exchange for a truce between our people, the Geth will return Rannoch."
Tali stood there in shock. Her grip on Shepard's hand was starting to hurt. "Tali?"
Tali lifted her head. "I will send the proposition to the Admiralty Board. Thank you, Legion."
They walked out of the AI core. As soon as the door shut, Tali turned to Shepard and hugged him. He could hear quiet sobs come from her. Shepard stroked her back and held her close with her head against his chest. Chakwas looked up and left without a word to give them privacy.
Shepard just held her as the emotions of the situation passed through her. Soon the sobs started to die down. There was just silence between the two. "Are you okay, Tali?"
Tali lifted her head from his chest and looked into his eyes. "Better than okay. After centuries of living a nomadic life, we can finally go home. You saved me, my people... I don't know what I did to deserve a man like you. There is no way I can repay you."
"I just want you, Tali."
She laughed at the corny line, but was touched all the same. "You silly, silly man. You already have my love."
"I'm guessing you'll want to notify the Fleet about this development."
"Yes." She gave him one last hug. Her tone became seductive, "I'll see you in the cabin later."
A world of people is being slaughtered left and right. All of them screaming for a salvation that will never come. This suffering is not just contained to just this world. Every populated world faces the same suffering and destruction. Beings are attacking the population on each planet. Beings of organic and synthetic construction.
The galaxy appears to be dying. Planets going dark. A Reaper appears from the darkness of one planet. Nazara. The Reaper fades back into the darkness.
In the depths of the dark space the Reaper fleet approaches the Milky Way galaxy. A Reaper nears the edge of the galaxy. It is far ahead of the fleet. An advance soldier. More powerful than any Reaper. Scars from a multitude of battles riddled its body. Its eyes glowed orange-red. Its voice echoed:
"I am Sacrosanct."
Shepard sat up in bed, sweating and breathing heavily.
"Keelah, Shepard!" Tali cried. "Are you okay? You were screaming in your sleep."
"I-It was another vision," he said in between breaths.
Tali wrapped her arms around him to help calm down. "Why are you having visions now?"
"I-I don't know." Out of the corner of his eye he saw a faint green light. He looked towards the table to see green energy radiate from the Prothean sphere. "I thought that thing wasn't supposed to work. It must have caused my visions."
"We should get it down to the lab for Mordin to check it out," Tali suggested.
"Agreed," Shepard replied as he threw on a pair of pants. "This was not how I planned for our first night sleeping together to go."
Tali placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's alright." Shepard placed a hand on hers and bowed his head.
Shepard approached the sphere. As soon as he grabbed it the visions reappeared in full force. The eyes of the Reaper. Glowing in the darkness as every world is destroyed. History erased. Culture erased. Everything erased. The scarred Reaper. "I am Sacrosanct!" The sphere slipped from his hands making the visions disappear. Shepard collapsed to the ground, nearly blacking out.
Tali ran to him and crouched down. "Shepard!"
"That was stupid. Tali, can you carry it? You should be okay without the cipher."
Tali slowly reached for it and tapped it. Nothing happened. She picked the sphere up and walked with Shepard to the elevator.
"What happened in the vision?"
"There was a Reaper."
Shepard shook his head. "No. And it wasn't Harbinger. This Reaper was horrible scarred. Called itself Sacrosanct. I-I think the vision is warning me of a Reaper entering the Milky Way."
"The Council will need to be warned of it."
The elevator doors opened. Tali walked out first and Shepard followed. It was very early in the morning; most of the crew was still asleep. Mordin was busy in the tech lab studying some tissue samples. The doors opened. He looked to the door. He smiled. "Commander, Tali, good to see you. You're up early. Problem? Need more information pamphlets on-"
"No-no," Shepard interrupted. "I had a vision. And we're sure that this sphere caused them."
Tali passed the glowing sphere to Mordin. His eyes perked up in fascination, curiosity and surprise. "So device was not inert. Still functions. Curious to know why it started up."
"That's what we want to know," Tali replied.
"With the device reactivated I may be able to pry some data from it to understand."
"Thank you, Mordin," Shepard sighed.
"Commander Shepard. Might help if you tell me what the vision was about."
"It showed me a scarred Reaper that called itself Sacrosanct."
Mordin looked at the device with a strong focus in his eyes. "Hmm. Maybe Reaper information. Warning? Memories?"
Shepard and Tali walked out of the lab before Mordin started his endless guess work. "EDI, how long until we reach the Citadel?" Tali asked.
"ETA: 2 hours, Miss Zorah."
"We can head back to bed," Shepard said. "EDI, wake us in an hour."
They couldn't go back to sleep, not after the scare they had that morning. Still, they were able to stay in embrace and rest until EDI made her quiet soft chime. Shepard opened his eyes and whispered, "Were you able to sleep?"
"No, but I am well rested. We should get ready."
He smiled and said, "Right."
Shepard slid out of bed as Tali stretched. He admired her form as she stretched. "I'm giving the Normandy crew several days of leave. I was thinking we could use the time to, well, go on a real date."
"I-I would like that."
Shepard stood up and walked over to the dresser and pulled out his officer uniform. Tali pouted seeing Shepard having to cover himself up. He looked over his shoulder. "You'll see more of me soon enough." He did up the last button on his shirt. "I'm just going to speak to Kasumi, Zaeed and Samara before we reach port. I just need to know where they stand concerning the mission. I'll see you as soon as I finish."
Shepard exited the elevator to see the whole Normandy crew gathered around CIC. Kelly stood in front of them all. She smiled. "Commander, we are all here to tell you that our loyalties lie with you, not Cerberus. We all experience firsthand the horrors of that Collector base. Knowing that the Illusive Man wanted to preserve it is a betrayal to not only us but the galaxy as a whole." As if on cue, the entire crew saluted.
"It is good to know I have the support of the Normandy crew. When we reach port, you'll all have two days of leave. Expenses will be covered. You all earned it."
The elevator doors opened on the third floor. Shepard walked out to speak to Thane, Samara and Kasumi. Life support doors opened up. Shepard saw Thane meditating at his desk. "Shepard," he stated.
"We'll be at the Citadel in about half an hour. I'm guessing you'll want to see Kolyat."
"Yes. I'll be able to inform him that our mission was successful. And that I am to continue to stop the Reapers."
"So you're staying with us?" Shepard asked with enthusiasm.
"Yes. I give you as much time I can spare in my final months, at least until I can no longer fight due to my illness. These Reapers truly are an unrelenting darkness. It's up to us to stop it."
"You can count me in too, Shep," Kasumi added while decloaking.
Shepard jumped a little. "How long were you there?"
"Since you came out of the elevator. I may be a thief but even I realize the importance of your mission." She smirked. "Anyways, if the Reapers destroy everything, there'll be nothing left to steal."
Shepard chuckled. "I suppose not. I'm guessing you know we have two days of leave when we reach port?"
"Yes. I look forward to it."
"Try not to steal anything too expensive. We don't want that much attention."
"No promises," she said as she cloaked.
Shepard heard Thane laugh behind him. "Rare to hear you laugh, Thane."
"Didn't have many reason to laugh before. I'll speak with you later, Commander."
Shepard made his way towards Samara who was also in meditation. "You here to ask whether I will be staying?"
"In all my years I thought I saw the worse that evil can provide. After the Collectors... I can see that it can be much worse. The Reapers have been doing this for millions of years and during all that time they have yet to answer for their crimes. I intend to change that."
"There's one more thing. I'm going to have my officers join me at the Citadel tower when we present to evidence of the Reapers. I was hoping you'll join us. A justicar will give us more credence with the Asari Councilor."
"Of course, Shepard. Action needs to be taken against the Reapers."
The last person on Shepard's list: Zaeed Massani. Zaeed was toying around with Jessie the assault rifle. Upon hearing the door open he placed his love back onto the workstation and crossed his arms and cocked his head while watching Shepard enter his area. "Been wondering when you come around," he said in his gruff voice. "You've been checking with some of the crew, trying to see whose staying and whose going."
Shepard stayed silent to allow him to continue.
"I'm in a bit of a spot here. On one hand I'm a fucking mercenary. I'm supposed to be paid to fight for any side or cause, and I still have Vido to kill. On the other, with these Reapers on the way, I might not have the time to hunt him down, or have much business in the future. That Asari friend of yours, Liara. She's the new Shadow Broker, right?"
"How about this. Get her to find Vido and you can call me paid off."
Zaeed hand reached out. Shepard grabbed onto it and shook. "We have a deal. We'll have to deal with Vido if we are to get the support of the various Mercenary groups. You think the Blue Suns will follow you?"
"Maybe. I can't guarantee anything. I'll let you go, we'll talk later."
Shepard and his high-ranking officers approached the podium; the same podium where he was first inducted into the Spectres. The Council stood at their respected podiums along with Anderson. He smiled upon seeing Shepard again. Among the balcony were the highest ranking politicians in Citadel space. Udina was off to the side looking irritated, as always.
Shepard wore a modified Cerberus officer uniform that excluded the group's logo. He stood at attention in the presence of the Council.
"This better be important to have called not just us, but every major politician in Citadel space, Commander," the Turian growled.
Anderson smiled at the dramatic irony. Shepard grinned. "My mission is complete. And I'm here to report my findings."
"What about Cerberus?" the Asari interjected.
"Ties have been severed."
"That's good to hear."
Shepard pulled out the Reaper OSD. "We now have undisputable proof that the Reapers exist."
Gasps were heard around the room. The Council looked on in confusion. "This again?" the Turian roared. "We have dismissed that claim."
"Dismiss this!" Shepard bellowed as he uploaded the data to their terminals. The Councilors looked at the data in question. The only look that came across their face was one of surprise and fear.
"Th-This cannot be," the Salarian gasped.
"Is this proof enough?" Shepard asked.
The Turian's mandibles scuttled. "Yes... Maybe you should go over your mission for us."
"I spent most of my time building a team consisting of the best of the best. Tech, biotic and combat specialists. The Illusive Man would occasionally give us leads with the Collectors. The first lead was Horizon which he used as bait for the Collectors. There we were able to confirm the Collectors were working for the Reapers when they were using husks. The second lead was a Collector ship that was 'disabled.' It turned out it was a trap, but we did find out that the Collectors are Prothean."
Chatter and gaps filled the room. The Asari leaned forward. "Can you confirm that?"
"I can," Mordin answered.
"Mordin Solus?" the Salarian said.
"Yes. We compared Collector DNA samples to samples gathered at Prothean ruins. They were Protheans but were genetically engineered to fit the Reapers' purpose."
Shepard continued, "With the data we gathered from the ship we were able to find out that we required a Reaper IFF to get through the Omega-4 Relay and that the Collector base was located in the galactic core. The Illusive Man gave us our next lead which took us to a Derelict Reaper, which was still active enough to indoctrinate the Cerberus operatives that were researching it. They were turned to husks. We were able to recover the Reaper's IFF and a Geth. I interrogated the Geth and found out that the Geth that attacked Eden Prime, the Citadel and organics were a separate faction of Geth. It turns out the Reapers are as big of a threat to the Geth as they are to us."
"Why would the Reapers attack the Geth?" the Turian scoffed. "They're machines."
"No they're not. Geth are synthetics. The Reapers are Sapient Constructs, a mixture of organic and inorganic material. The Geth operate outside of the Reapers plans. The Reapers rely on races relying on their technology. Any race that creates their own path of technological advancement, they become a threat to Reapers."
"And what happened to the Geth?"
"Legion joined my crew."
"What? Are you mad?"
"Legion proved itself to be trust-worthy. It saved our lives many times before and during the Collector Base raid. The main Geth faction lends their aid for the Reaper war. We are attempting to broker a peace between the Geth and Quarians. While we're on topic of questionable allies. I was contacted by a Rachni representative." Shepard was making no effort to calm the room. It was loud. "The Rachni war was a mistake. They were forced into confrontation. They were victims of Reaper indoctrination. The Queen is thankful for my mercy and told me that she lends her people support in the upcoming war."
The Council was shocked stiff. Anderson continued smiling.
"Though back to the Collectors. Eventually we went through the Omega-4 Relay to attack the Collector base. It was there we found out why the Collectors were abducting human colonies. They... They were turning them into fluids which were used to grow a Reaper. We manage to kill the Human-Reaper, and were contacted by the Illusive Man who proposed using a radiation blast to preserve the base. I refused that order and blew the base up."
"Why did you do such a thing?" the Salarian yelled. "We could have used that technology to understand the structure of Reapers!"
"The Derelict Reaper was still able to indoctrinate and create husks. The Reaper IFF nearly killed my whole crew when it was activated. You want to base our whole defense on a base that created Reapers and controlled Collectors? The risk outweighed any benefits we could have gained from it."
The Salarian relented. "You may have a point. Well Commander, you have submitted enough proof. The Reapers are real. We will take the necessary actions needed to defend this galaxy. Any suggestions, Commander?"
"Several, yes. You'll need to contact various governments in the Terminus system and notify them of the situation. We're going to need allies. Also you need to give the Quarians an embassy."
The Councilors did a double take at that request. "Why?" was all the Asari Councilor muttered.
"We're going to need their help in the upcoming war. And they are being unfairly punished."
"They created AIs!"
"No," Shepard corrected. "Their ancestors did. Believe it or not Councilor"—he added venom to that word—"not every specie lives to be a thousand years old. All you're doing is punishing the children for the crimes of their parents. Or in this case their great-great-great-grandparents. Their exile is unjust and illogical."
The Councilors looked to each other, nodding. The Turian shaking his head. Anderson shot his a glare. The Asari looked back to Shepard. "Very well. You may send word that we will offer the Quarians an embassy again. Anything else, Commander?"
"Then this meeting is adjourned. Commander... If it means anything... We're sorry."
"Just do not waste the time we have," Shepard pleaded.
The Councilors left. Shepard turned to have Tali launch into his arms. "Thank you!" She pulled away. He couldn't see it, but he could tell she was smiling. "First my homeworld and now an embassy. What's next my immune system?"
Shepard smiled. "I could ask Mordin to look into that."
"Would be interesting to work on," Mordin added.
Tali looked to Mordin. "Th-Thank you."
"Shepard!" Udina screamed. "Are you trying to piss me off or cause a political shit storm? At this point it seems to be one in the same."
"Trying to defend this galaxy, ambassador," Shepard growled.
"He did the right thing, Udina," Anderson commented. "What you did Shepard, is phenomenal. We can finally get down to business. I'll contact Hackett and get you Alliance funding again. Since I'm guessing Cerberus cut you off."
"Blowing up that base was probably the best way to say 'I quit'."
Anderson laughed. "One more thing. Someone wanted to talk with you."
"Hey, Commander." It was Alenko.
"Alenko, good to see you," Shepard said in an awkward tone.
"Look, Commander, about Horizon. I was over the line. You were dead and... I was hoping you would still have me on your crew?"
Shepard smiled. "Of course."
"Thank you, Commander."
Tarlon was nearing the end of his shift. He was on the outer city limit of Ujon. Tarlon examined his assault rifle checking for any issues just to use up the remainder of his shift. He was a soldier for the Batarian Hegemony. He was greenish-yellow with brown stripes on the side of his head. A crackle of thunder was heard. Tarlon looked to the sky to see dark storm clouds grow over the city.
"Damn weather report said no storms," he cursed.
Purple lightning jolted all over the clouds. That caught his attention. He looked through his rifle's scope and saw something move in the clouds. Looked like some ship. Tarlon called through his radio, "Sergeant Tarlon Nal'Karlish reporting in. I spotted some ship in the storm clouds. I can't seem to recognize its silhouette."
"Sergeant, our radar isn't detecting anything-"
A bright purple beam of energy erupted out of the storm clouds and blew up a section of the city.
"Ujon's under attack! Ujon's under attack. All units move to city!"
Tarlon jumped in his car and raced towards the city's defense. His radio still relayed the panic of HQ. "What are those things?! There's too many! Send a distress signal!"