The Normandy has keyboards. I'll be honest. I didn't expect that. Looks like they even work, too.
My name is Derek, and I'm a technician aboard the Normandy SR2. Commander Jane Shepard has asked me to keep this log, detailing what has happened while MIA from her trial. I'm apparently the only one with writing skills.
I suppose I should mention I'm one of two people narrating this. EDI's making the other copy, not that we could stop her from listening in, anyway. When I asked why, the commander told me she felt more comfortable with a backup, after what happened at the start of this mess.
[It's not nice to read over people's shoulders, Commander.]
[Yes. It's enough prelude. Yes. I'll back edit when we find the rest to try to put it some kind of chronological order.]
[Yes. I'll delete my annotations when we're done. If you still want me to.]
[Maybe I'll try to sell it on the Citadel exchange as a work of fiction. Just kidding! Just kidding!]
It began on the way from what used to be Bahak system. The first, and we pray only, time we have had to destroy a Mass Relay.
Having to kill roughly three hundred thousand Batarians - even after what happened on Terra Nova station - still haunts the Commander. It'll look like small price to pay to just stall the Reaper invasion, but considering the official Alliance – and Council – position is to deny the existence of the Reapers [idiots], and it's no surprise that Commander Shepard was facing an official court marshal, Spectre status be damned.
We're still not sure how it happened. The ship had made the Mass Effect jump. No one had heard of anything that could effect a ship inside a Mass Effect Field. Maybe it was something the collectors had, maybe it was some other Reaper attack. As of this writing, we still do not have an answer to How We Got Here. [This begs the more important question of How We Get Back – but I hope to answer it. I have family back there]
We knew the exact point it started to happen though. The whole ship began to tremor and shake, like we were docked during an earthquake or other natural disaster. The Multicore Shielding though was holding, [I was staring at the reading,] even as some pieces began to shake loose. This went on for about five minutes.
When it stopped, we'd been dropped out of the Mass Effect Field. Joker shouted that we had some planet on the view screen, and apparently had enough momentum left from the field that we looked like we were going to prepare for immediate atmospheric re-entry.
That's when almost all our electrical systems died. We had emergency lightning, and that was it. You know what's worse than being in deep space without a thruster? Being in a planetary gravity field without a thruster.
Shepard did not have time to be grief stricken. "Get to the escape pods, everyone! Specialists! Split up! You are responsible for the people in your pod!" she shouted.
"No!" Joker screamed his reply. "I'm not losing her again!"
Pandemonium – everyone was racing down the ladders toward escape pods – the Salarian Mordin, the Asari Samara. someone shouted to get Legion, in case whatever had affected the rest of the ship had powered him off as well.
"Damnit Joker! Someone help me!" Shepard cried. Garrus, the only specialist left on the command deck, rushed forward towards the crippled pilot.
"It's no good Shepard," Garrus told her. "Joker's sealed the door."
"EDI!" she shouted. "Let me in! I've got to get Joker out. She cast her eyes for anyone left still on deck. There was exactly one person left [That was me – for the record – and I froze.] "Can you hack it open?" The sounds of the pods being fired echoed throughout the ship.
Garrus rolled his eyes. "I could shoot it open!"
We were high up, but falling fast. The ship was struggling back to power, and we were all afraid we'd missed our chance. Shepard gave up on trying to extract her pilot, and the three of us strapped ourselves in, bracing for impact.
"If you get me killed again, Joker, I'll..."
What exactly she'd do was lost in the noise of the engines powering up again. [She wouldn't admit it to me. Honestly.]
[The attempt at flattening our course pulled at my body. It was either massive Gs. Or maybe massive negative Gs. I'm an Electrician, damn it. Hate Roller-Coasters.]
The Normandy finally settled to the ground, after more shakes and protests. The power stayed on. Silence reigned for a few moments before Joker's voice came over the intercom, laughing like a madman.
Shepard ignored him. "EDI! Is there anyone in need of medical attention?"
EDI's holographic image appeared. "No, there is not. Other than Jeff, the three of you here, the only two living people are Mr. Donnelly and Ms. Daniels. There seem to be no casualties, all other crew members and specialists have evacuated."
Shepard let out a long sigh. "Well. Some good news at least," she said to nobody in particular. "What are the odds on being able to just fly back out of here?"
"Slim," came EDI's smooth female, mechanical, voice. "I don't think there's going to be any serious damage..."
"Thank you! Thank you."
"You're welcome, Jeff," EDI continued. "But we will need to run a full diagnostic on all engine and shielding systems. I see no reason to risk the ship exploding because we failed to perform proper maintenance." [Shepard shot a look in my direction. I went down to report to the engineers to see if there was anything I could do for them.]
"My next question, then," Shepard said. "Where are we?"
"I don't know," was EDI's response.
There was a lengthy pause.
"How do you not know?" Shepard asked.
There was a slight pause. "I shall assume the question rhetorical."
"It was," she replied, sighing. "We've been knocked out of a Mass Effect field onto some unknown world, with our crew scattered. At least it's Earth Class." She looked back towards EDI's hologram. "Can you scan for any likely nearby settlements, and perhaps calculate trajectories for any escape pods?"
"I was reduced to emergency power during the incident," EDI reported. "I am scanning for the most likely signs of indigenous life."
"You know I prefer the triangle formation, Garrus, but we're down to you and me. Better suit up."
They went down to the armory, Shepard taking all sorts of fancy equipment, Garrus taking both of his rifles. He glanced up at the Spectre. "Grenades."
"Pardon?" Shepard asked, momentarily distracted. Her comlink must have been damaged in the crash. They had spares, of course, plenty of them. It would make trying to find the evacuated crew one hell of a job, though. She tossed one to Garrus even as she looked up to hear his complaint in full.
"When – and why – did we stop carrying grenades? There's been times when we could have cleared out a room from full of collectors with a single well placed grenade. We really should start carrying grenades again."
"Stick to sniping. You're starting to sound like Zaeed."
Edi's hologram arrived. "I have located two likely settlements in a near area, each about five kilometers distant."
"Don't suppose you spotted a spaceport," Garrus asked. "It'd be our luck to crash on some backward world with no way to get off of it."
"Technology levels seem to be schizophrenic," EDI reported.
"Come again?" Shepard asked.
"One seems to have a reasonable amount of technology, I can detect large sources of engineered metals, buildings perhaps. The other has more life signs - people, but perhaps more clustered. I've also found fewer readings of tech."
"What do you think, Garrus? Wait here, or try to get to help?"
"Leave the ship undefended?" Garrus asked her. "Because it worked out so well the last time?"
Shepard gave him a look. He met it, his face betraying a slight grin. "Sometimes I find myself asking, what would Tali say?"
So they waited. Armaments on, waiting for who knows what to come to them from who knows where. [Shepard came down to check on us. Gabby – Ms. Daniels, I mean, thought we'd have all the supplies needed to fix the normal engines.]
When EDI alerted them to the presence of nearby lifeforms, they prepared. Garrus took a position against the wall, with Shepard standing at the airlock door, ready to duck and cover if she needed to give the sniper a clear shot.
The five that approached were proof they were off the beaten path. One of them was human, or at least human looking enough. Actually, with the heavy armor and what appeared to be insignia, he didn't look that different from Commander Shepard. If the Commander carried a cannon as long as she was tall. Backing him was a... well, it looked the size of a human, bipedal and all that. The eyes, though, looked like the so called "Sectoids" or "Greys" in the old holos, the ones that made fun of what we thought outer space was going to be like. A breathing mask covered where a human's nose and mouth would have been.
Flanking them, on the other side, was – I kid you not - a devil. A human like creature with a naturally red skin tone, small spikes jutting out from his skull. Again, heavy armor, though this one had no really apparent large weapon, just a pistol tucked into the belt.
To his side, peaking around his legs was, well, a brown cloak. A brown cloak with two glowing golden eyes. It also carried a weapon about as big as it was. Granted, this was a lot less impressive when it was 3 foot, 3 foot 6 tops. [No. I don't know what that is in meters, heights were always old English measurements.]
Between the two, another figure. Again, humanoid, with a light blue head, covered with orange markings of some kind of paint. This one stepped forward, and nodded to Shepard curtly. He spoke, and it sounded like no language neither Shepard nor Garrus had ever heard before.
The translator program did not carry every language in the known galaxy, there were simply too many. It would supposedly download necessary missing languages from the ship's computer if it found a match, but Shepard had the funny feeling this language was not going to be found. What it could not do, was learn new languages on the fly.
This would be a problem.
"Uh. Hello?" Shepard asked. "I don't suppose you any of you can understand me."
They stared at her. The middle one pointed at her with a gloved finger, then turned, and pointed with his full hand in the direction they had come.
Shepard pointed at herself, then at the blue alien, hoping that she understood the basics of what it wanted.
"Shepard," Garrus whispered over the comlink. "Are you sure that is a good idea?"
"I'm sure it's not, but I think it's the least bad idea. If they wanted to shoot, they'd shoot. Stay here" She carefully dropped to the ground. The planet was, indeed, Earth-like. They'd torn their way through a small wood before friction brought them to a stop.
The center alien – who appeared to be in charge, pointed at each one of the others in turn, chattering what sounded like orders.
The human stiffened and nodded. The devil kind of shrugged his shoulders, replying back briefly, then nodding as well. The other two were impossible to read.
The blue alien motioned to follow again, and they set off. A vehicle awaited them, a hovercar that held a floating position above the forest floor. It was indicated, and she climbed in, strapping herself into the seat. She'd rolled the Mako once to often to ever consider any vehicle truly safe. Then they were off, bound for – somewhere. Sanity, Shepard hoped.
Most of the escape pods fired from the Normandy SR2 reached the surface of the planet in more comfortable ways than the Normandy itself.
Most of them.
One did not, due to the misfiring electronics of the ship. It would have landed eventually, had it not gone past a station where an intrigued individual, detecting the life sign and barely repressed hatred within. This individual had it fetched by a shuttle, and tractored into the base.