Deus Ex characters and Mass Effect characters are property of Eidos and Bioware EA respectively.
I woke to a world of pain, my eyes not yet open, my consciousness just registering, a male voice, "isn't Sheppard! He's coming to, sedate him!" As my consciousness drifted off again, I heard a female voice "this is bad."
Explosions jerked me to alertness, and I rolled off the bed or operating table that I found myself in, cursing the stiffness of my body, before that female voice from before came into my ear piece, "whoever you are, you have to wake up, grab the pistol and the armour to the left of the operating table and get moving." Mentally thanking her for telling me where to look I complied, along with her order immediately after to find cover from the imminent explosion of the door.
It wasn't until she instructed me to fire this pistol on a bot that I began to question the usefulness of this woman's advice. Last time I checked a pistol was about as useful as my bare hands against a bot, maybe even less if I could find some bio electric cells, even one this small. Either pistol technology had advanced a lot, since, come to think of it how did I end up here? Seeing no handy vents or even narrow passages, and a bot that was slowly but surely eliminating the protection of the short wall I'd ducked behind, I decided to take her advice and aim for the head, after all the last pistol I used never needed a heat sink, maybe they had improved. To my shock not only did this knock out the bot's sensor array, it caused a full system failure, and not the kind that resulted in bullets being fired in every direction. If I lived through this I was going to make a killing in designing security robots.
After I found what looked like a slightly advanced GEP gun, I was finally feeling secure about my odds of surviving at least until my unknown helper lost contact and I was left to find my own way out of wherever I was. I did find some safes with some credits that would prove helpful to my current long term plans, if not my short term plans. I also learned that someone else had spent a fortune on me, this time to bring me back to life, I would have worried about how I died but I was more concerned with not repeating that experience before finding out where I was. At least it was only a metaphorical fresh hell.
Not long after I ran into a man named Jacob Taylor, who showed off something he called Biotics, ripping a few bots off a far catwalk to their doom. He looked like a capable soldier, so I figured it'd be good to stick with him for now, More importantly he gave me a name to go with that voice, Miranda, the head of this project Lazarus if I remembered right from the data I'd hacked.
Wilson then piped in over the coms, and was suspiciously shocked to learn that I was with Jacob. He knew a safe route to the shuttle off this station, but was in a bit trouble at the moment, so I guess we were just going to have to help him. When we found him, my suspicious metre started going off the charts, he was a research tech, come to think of it I remembered hearing his voice, with clearance for the security bots? He claimed he was trying to shut them down, but glancing at the screen I could only see countdown, I couldn't find out what for before the terminal shorted out. Jacob seemed to buy the story, I kept my mouth shut for now.
Jacob also chose this moment to tell me they were working for an organisation called Cerberus, to try and win my trust, I guess. Seeing my confusion Jacob explained that Cerberus was an organisation devoted to putting humans on top, through sometimes extreme methods. He tried to reassure me that these weren't the bad guys, but between the name of the organisation and the leader, The Illusive Man, I was willing to place a wager that if the Illuminaty were still around this Illusive Man used to be one, but wasn't content to just pull the puppet strings any more.
Wilson's own survival instinct and skills proved to be an asset, just the same I felt the need to knock him out with the butt of my pistol after he told me the shuttle was just through this door. Jacob was less than pleased, until Miranda Lawson, who looked every bit the femme fatale, showed up and confirmed that Wilson was behind all the bots going nuts. Having a hunch about why Wilson was in such a hurry to get off this station I decided not to bother arguing about Miranda's travel plans.
The mystery of the countdown was solved when the space station exploded just after we got off in the shuttle. Miranda was unmoved by this, focusing instead on me "Who are you?"
"Miranda, its Sheppard, or did you get hit on the head by one of the bots?" Jacob had assumed that the Lazarus project had been without incident, and I hadn't really had time to tell him otherwise plus he followed orders from this Sheppard person without asking questions.
"He's not Sheppard the recovery team brought us back the wrong person, that's probably why Wilson was trying to kill him, destroy the evidence of failure," Miranda seethed.
Well so much for that free ticket, trying for an identity that would explain my skill with a weapon, "Gunnery chief Williams, ma'am," I lied with a salute.
"I had no idea you were so butch Ashley. Cut the crap," Miranda then punched a needle into my thigh and took a blood sample, "we'll find out who you are soon enough."
"So just who was this Sheppard person and why was he important enough to spend billions in an attempt to revive him." I asked to the shock of Jacob and horror of Miranda.
Jacob was the first to recover, "he was the first Human Spectre, saved the citadel from Saren and the Geth."
"You mean to tell me that you've never heard of Sheppard, oh this is going to be just lovely. When I get my hands on that blue tramp-"
"Think of it this way, the Illusive Man will have to put you in charge of the operation now, its not like he can wait another two years with all those colonies disappearing."
"That's assuming he doesn't see my stupidity in not checking the body from the start. Still I suppose you're right"
"Or we could just not tell him," Jacob suggested.
"He's seen pictures of Sheppard, and he can recognise faces, a skill you apparently lack,." Miranda responded coldly, "we'll just have to hope that our friend's field test impresses the Illusive man."
After the blood work showed that I was JC Denton, the second Nano Augmented agent of UNATCO, the Illusive man decided that he'd like to meet me. So I was escorted into a room with a holographic projector. The hologram that I saw reminded me a bit of Bob Paige only without the wires running along his forehead.
"Mr. Denton I presume, I'll be honest with you, I don't know if you are JC Denton or not, and frankly I don't care. You cost us more than you know Denton. Sheppard wasn't just a man, he was a symbol that we could have used to unite the galaxy against the coming dark, but now we're stuck with you, a relic from the past. If there were time I'd have Miranda dissect you and find out just how you survived for so long, but we didn't have time when we started the Lazarus project, we certainly don't have it now. Human colonies have been disappearing, I don't know why or how."
"I assume you want my help investigating, but how do I know you're not behind this?"
"I don't know how much you know about this organisation but we put humans first, why would we abduct humans."
"Just because you put humans on top doesn't mean you don't want to climb over their backs, in my experience that's why people like you want them there in the first place."
"You can accuse me all you want, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not your enemy, the Reapers are out there and if they can't be stopped, well even I can't rule over the dead can I."
"The enemy of my enemy and all that? What makes you think I won't just walk away the first chance I get?" If he'd put a new kill switch in me I was going to have to find someone who could turn it off, but it'd be good to know it was there before he used it.
"Where would you go? You've been gone a long time and how many people are going to believe that JC Denton, a man who was involved in curing the Gray Death, is still alive and walking around. Even if they do believe you are JC Denton, its just as likely they'll see you as terrorist instead of a heroI'm the only friend you have, and besides you owe me. Miranda and Jacob were both impressed with your skills, so you'll be working under Miranda's command. We just lost contact with another colony, hopefully Miranda can get there before the Alliance can cover it up, grab some supplies and get moving. Consider this your chance to prove that we didn't waste our time on you Denton."
Exiting the room I found a clothing synthesiser, which I used to make a long black coat and some sun glasses, old habits die hard. I added an assault rifle, sniper rifle, and a nifty looking sword to my equipment before heading to the shuttle. Miranda handed me some bio electic cells when I climbed into the shuttle. "So I guess you're my commander."
"Well you've proven that you can get the job done, but don't think I'll go easy on the new kid. We're here to do a job, the odds of survivors are slim, so don't even bother looking for them, focus on looking for cameras and anything that might give us some clue about what happened. It'll be night time planet side so you should probably take those shades off," was Miss Lawson's idea of a briefing.
"I can see just fine with them on, ma'am," I defended.
Stepping out of the shuttle was surreal. I'd never seen any place so quiet and empty, and there were no signs of combat, at all, ever. Whoever was here didn't struggle on the way out. We could be forgiven then for being taken by surprise by the bots that had been reprogrammed after the mass exodus. Still they were easily taken down, and now the bot designs were getting even more peculiar, resembling canines with zero ranged weapons, and no extra armour. I was half tempted to use my fists to give the bots a fair fight.
It wasn't long before we found out we weren't the only ones investigating this colony. Four Quarians were looking for a fellow Quarian, perhaps this wouldn't be another dead end for Cerberus. It was Miranda who spoke first "I see the scavengers waste no time in the Terminus system."
A male Quarian, I thought, I wasn't quite sure on xeno gender physiology, took offense "we're not here for this colony's trash, Cerberus."
"Then why are you here?" Miranda queried.
"Cerberus' nose doesn't belong in Quarian business." The Quarian hissed.
Only to be promptly rebuked by the female Quarian "Prazza please, we can't get past all the bots alone, we need their help to get to Veetor as much as they need ours."
"But they're Cerberus, with their help who needs enemies." The male stated his case.
Miranda tried to defuse the situation, "we need to find out if this Veetor saw anything, we have a mutual goal."
"Our goal is to protect one of our own, yours is to interrogate that one," the male Quarian proclaimed, as everyone except the female Quarian pulled guns on each other.
"Whoever walks away from this stand-off is gonna be left holding the bag for this colonies disappearance you realise?" I tried to cool everyone's head, looking to the female Quarian "can you promise to give us any information this Veetor might have if we let you take him home?"
"Like they'd tell us anything, no we can't just give him up, we need to know that we're getting all of the answers." Miranda cut in.
"I think we've done enough to the Quarians without adding kidnapping another one to the list Miranda," Jacob countered "besides Denton and the Quarian," as he gestured to the female "are right we need to work together."
"Like we'd trust the word of Cerberus anyway," Prazza accused.
"We don't have a choice and we are wasting time, lets get moving," the female spoke, adding "I Tali Vas Neema promise to give Denton whatever information about this colony I uncover."
That settled the matter for the Quarians it seemed, as they lowered their weapons, the one called Prazza a little more slowly than the rest. Our truce held up until we were out of sight of each other, when Tali informed me that Prazza had decided to make a race of it, not trusting my companions and I, not that I blamed him. This proved to be a costly error on his part as he rushed into a bot that he wasn't equipped to deal with. Luckily Miranda Jacob and I were not to far away, it was just behind the door, and since I had the grenade launcher I got to be on point.
I was expecting just another bot, but this one was actually well designed, big and well armed with a machine gun and a rocket launcher. To make matters worse it had a point defence system that took out the grenade I tried to fire at it a little to close for comfort. Well someone had to get it right sooner or later, I thought bitterly as I just barely got back under cover before the machine gun could be turned on me. Things were not looking good as we could barely move without risking being either shredded by the machine gun or pulverised by the cannon. Even when we could get a shot in, it would barely chip the paint.
I decided it was time to do something stupid. Activating my heat suppressing nanites I began to make my way around the behemoth praying that it relied on infer-red sensors, I was going to need to get way closer than was healthy. When I could reach out and touch the machines back I pulled out that nifty sword hoping they'd improved as much as pistols, and switched my nanites to nano fibral muscles as I drove the blade down, hardening my skin as soon as the power core was exposed. It didn't stop me from being sent hard into a metal crate, but it did give Miranda and Jacob a target as it turned to focus on me. Lucky for me they were quick to throw everything they had at the exposed power core and bring the bot down before its machine guns could punch through my shields. I switched my nanites to their repair routines and fell back against crate.
After my body returned to a state that was only slightly better than dead I took a scan of the bots weapons, I was still planning to get out from under the Illusive man after all. Then we went into the only shed we hadn't looted yet and found Veetor sitting in front of a security terminal focused on the screens and talking gibberish. Miranda wasn't in the mood for it and shot one of the screens to get his attention.
"You're human... how did you escape the collectors?"
"We just got here," Miranda answered crisply.
"Can you tell us what happened," Jacob cut in.
"I can show you," Veetor responded as he brought up security footage he must have pieced together, witnessing it again only served to sever his grasp on reality as he went back into gibberish. The screens showed a swarm of bugs descend upon the colony and swarm the colonists immobilizing them instantly, which explained how they'd disappeared without a trace. Once all the colonists were immobilised a huge ship landed disgorging the captors with their large black eyes and exoskeletons. Tali came in at this time.
"Come on Veetor, I'm taking you back to the Flotilla," Tali pronounced.
"We'll need to hold onto him and see what else he knows." Miranda countered.
"We had a deal, Prazza and his men were stupid but Veetor needs to get back to the Flotilla an interrogation in his condition will only make things worse."
Deciding that having an alien around Cerberus might give me at least one person I could voice my concerns to I tried to recruit her,"we could bring you along if it'd ease your mind."
"You gave me your word, would you back out now and take us both?" Obviously concerned since it was three against two and one of those was not all there.
"No, I only meant that she's in charge and if she says he goes, well..." I trailed off realising that Cerberus had an even worse reputation than I thought, and this line wasn't helping. I turned to Miranda "do you really think he knows any more than we've learned from the video, is it enough to bring the attention of the Flotilla upon Cerberus?"
"No, I suppose not, and we probably don't have the time to make sense of the video and his gibberish," Miranda backed down.
"Thank you Denton, it's good to know some people in Cerberus can see reason," with that she handed a copy of the data from Veetor's omni tool to me and left with Veetor. Miranda was not going to leave so peacefully.
"I should leave you here for that," she barked in my direction. "Or would you prefer that I send you with Tali to look out for our interests in the Quarian. Do you think they'd treat you special, or that they'd interrogate you.
"What they would do, and what we should do are separate things." I reasoned.
"He could have told us something important about those creatures, but now we'll probably never know will we."
"Tali gave us her word."
"What does the word of a Quarian even mean, you do know they have a different culture than earth, they're nomads the two of you are unlikely to ever cross paths again, so why would they bother with honour."
"The galaxy's not so big that the migrant fleet can afford to burn bridges."
"Whoa, guys lets just report back to the Illusive Man, we can argue about interspecies politics later." Jacob attempted to placate the two of us.
I was ushered into another meeting with the Illusive Man in his illusionary world, with his illusionary reports. "Well, Denton, it seems I may have been wrong, maybe we didn't waste our time reviving you. 1 mission in and already we know more about what we're up against then we had learned in the entire time it took to revive you. I'd offer you a bonus but you've made it clear that you want nothing to do with us. Has that changed now that you've seen what you saw, I wonder?"
"Why is it that you're the only team willing to play ball if the threats really so big, if you don't mind my asking?"
"The other races want to believe that only humanity is threatened, after all humans haven't exactly been winning friends since the mass relays were discovered. Besides we're the new kids on the block and already have a seat on the council. They're a bunch of old races who just want the youngsters to stay off their lawn. Depending on who you ask."
"What about humanity, don't they have a military any more?"
"The Alliance is busy running the council, so bogged down in bureaucracy its a wonder they even reach the colonies at all. Look, if you want to see about joining another team when Miranda heads into the citadel be my guest, after all I'm not so naive to think Cerberus or even humanity can face the reapers alone, but don't be surprised if the council ignores you, or arrests you for working with Cerberus. Either way, Miranda will need to flush out her team before she''ll have time to head to the citadel, although she is your only ticket to get there, assuming she doesn't throw you off the ship first."
"Still mad about the Quarian I take it."
"Mad, livid is more like it, what's even worse is they gave us the information they could get out of Veetor making your insubordination justified, or so she claimed."
"What can I say, I'm just a charming guy."
"And apparently a little crazy, did you really use a sword against a mech?"
"Its point defences made my grenade launcher ineffective, and its armour was to thick for small arms."
"I like a man who can think outside of the normal perspectives, Denton, but try to remember that I have put you under Miranda's command, You are too valuable for her to leave behind, but to reckless to leave unsupervised it seems."
"I'll do what I can to stop the collectors, but after that I don't owe you anything right."
"You don't owe me anything now, we are merely two people willing to do what must be done to save the galaxy."