SSV Abraham Lincoln
Admiral Jameson stood around the central table in the Lincoln's CIC, but instead of a holographic display of the carrier, there was one showing the massive Turian-Human-Asari-Salarian fleet now defending the Citadel. Though the Salarians only sent the one ship.
Eighty seven ships, she just hoped it was enough. And if they were facing a signal Reaper then the fleet should hold. But something was making her…uneasy.
"Admiral…er Admials, we are getting a message from the Krogan."
"Put it on." The CnC fifth fleet replied.
The image shifted and turned into the face of an angry looking Krogan. "They're bombing us…from space! Part of our population has been evacuated but we're still being hit…massive casualties…they are coming for you!"
The Krogan looked skyward, snarled, and then a bright light took at the camera.
"This is it people."
Abigail Shepard stood behind Joker wearing her full battle armor, with her Valkyrie and Black Widow stapled to their back ports, the Eagle in its Pistol holder, waiting for the battle to begin.
"Heads up this is Lincoln control to all Alliance vessels; we have bogies incoming through the Tuchanka-Widow relay. Stand by."
Abby nodded to herself watching through the window, and waited
The Normandy was at the spear point of a group of Cruisers and Frigates hanging off to the side of the relay. The plan was for the Frigates to launch a strafing run on the Reaper and rip its hull open with Thanix cannons, and then the larger Dreadnaughts and Cruisers would riddle it with missile and MAC fire. Game, set, and match. They would be home in time for tea. But nothing was ever that simple with the Reapers. And here it came.
The relays wheels began to spin to life slowly revolving around itself, but quickly gathering in intensity.
"Traynor, squadron wide." Shepard ordered.
The audible click on the loud speaker let her know she was connected.
"Shepard to spear group, stand by to engage the enemy, strafing runs will commence on my mark." She watched out the front screen as the relay continued to build up steam, she began to count down in her head from five seconds… "Mark." She ordered.
Joker dutifully punched in the commands and the Normandy's engines surged the vessel forward. The relay rapidly grew as the squadron maneuvered as one, weapon spikes glowing. They got closer, and closer, and still closer. But still no Reaper.
"Something's wrong." EDI reported.
You think, Shepard thought biting her lip, debating on whether or not to give the fall back order.
"There is more mass coming through the relay as we could-"
A ship whooshing out of the relay broke the AI off in mid-sentence, something looked familiar about it, but of paramount importance it was heading right at them, mere meters.
"Joker!" She yelled.
The pilot put the Normandy hard over rotating the ship and shooting it under the onrushing ship missing the hull by mere inches.
"All ships break formation break break!" Abby yelled trying to get the word out if the Captains weren't as fast as they were.
"Was that a Quarian Ship?" Joker asked shocked.
Shepard looked around and saw the distinctive silleoute of one of the smaller Quarian Frigates, as it launched a broadside into space.
Something exploded just out of her site, and almost instantly the Normandy lurched painfully almost knocking Shepard off her feet. But she was able to grip onto Joker's chair to keep from spilling onto the deck.
"Status!" She yelled.
"Quarian and Geth ships have come through the relay and are engaging the allied fleet." EDI reported. "Barriers are holding."
"What the hell are the Quarians doing helping the Reapers?" Joker asked.
"I'm sure they aren't doing it willingly," The Commander chastised her pilot, "any sign of the Reaper yet?"
"No, wait…yes!" EDI reported glancing up through the cockpit.
And the Reaper shot through the relay, with another vessel close in tow. The Crucible.
"I know." The pilot said punching in a new set of command.
The Normandy swopped around, heading in the opposite direction and shot to join the battlefield.
"EDI give me a display of the battle." Shepard ordered.
The hologram where she used to use revolved into being showing a multi-faceted map of the current battle rolling through the space around the Citadel. The set of Capitol ships gathered in the center of the display, Tridents chasing oculi through the nebulae. Other ships dueling with each other in the dark reaches of space.
"Joker get us in there." Shepard ordered.
"I'll try." The pilot responded.
"Shepard, we are being hailed; it's getting through our filters!" Traynor yelled.
"You struggle but you will fail, surprised at the strength we have mustered, at the end, your Galaxy will fall, you will come to serve us and the cycle." Harbinger's voice filled over the com link.
Shepard's eyes widened but she kept her composure otherwise.
SSV Abraham Lincoln
The acrid stench of burnt out circuits stung at Courtney's throat. A slight electrical fire had broken out after they took a near board hit from a Geth missile.
"General Vakarian for you sir…s…." the communications specialist reported to them."
"Put him on." The Commander Fifth fleet ordered.
Garrus's face popped up in the stall next to the picture of the raging fleet battle.
"That was surprising wasn't it?"
"I think you need to learn proper military protocol." Jameson smirked at the screen.
"Yeah well I've gone from being a simple lowly private to a General in about a couple of weeks." Garrus grinned perceptibly at the screen.
"What've you got for us General Vakarian?" The Admiral asked sounding more than a little perturbed.
"The Reaper forces are breaking through our lines, they seemed determined to get to the Citadel. Reinforcements are on the way but they are still two relays out, it could take them a while."
"Roger that, just hold the line as well as you can, Lincoln, out." The Admiral hung up, and then scrunched over to look at the screen.
"We need to keep the Crucible away from the Citadel at all costs; we need to hold the line."
"I doubt we can our lines are already beginning to collapse, they look like they are right on top of us." Jameson said pointing to one part of the display.
"What are we facing?"
"Fifty ships it looks like."
"Fifty against eighty seven?" The Admiral asked rhetorically.
"Eighty one sir." The orderly reported.
"I have to like those odds." The Commander Fifth fleet said turning to Jameson.
"Yeah but one of those ships is a Reaper, and they don't have to win they just have to keep us occupied long enough to connect the Crucible and then detonate it."
"Right," He said nodding, "Lieutenant order our pickets on the left to tighten up, do not let them through-"
"Admiral!" The orderly reported. "The Reaper just cut our left flank to shreds, opened up point blank on them and is now heading through; it looks like it has overridden the Citadel arm controls."
"So much for the plan." Jameson frowned.
"Damn it, we need to get in there." The Admiral replied.
"Hey Lola," James's voice broke in as his face appeared on a screen just off one of the consoles, "My gun down here is getting awfully rusty, going to have anything for it to kill?"
She smirked, "I'm working on it James."
"Yeah ok, just give me the word."
Shepard smiled to herself, her eyes darting through the cloud witnessing the explosions and criss crossing trails of weapons fire chasing each other around the nebulae for a second. The Normandy rapidly trying to rejoin the fight, in full stealth mode.
"Warning, Harbinger shell has penetrated perimeter and is heading for the Citadel, Crucible is in tow."
Abby frowned at the news. "Joker get us in there."
"I'm trying." Joker grunted as another hit rattled through the Normandy.
Harbinger crashed through the perimeter, its flanking ships firing at the allied fleets gathering behind it, protecting it from a swarm of fighters and projectiles, after he had 'bull rushed' the entire combined forces arrayed against him. Of course it was not over yet.
He crashed into the Citadel, but not the Presidium, the Crucible was heading for its position there.
Instead he went for the docking bays and the living areas on the Citadel's surface, the wards, each of his long tentacle arms slamming through a protective shield or into a building, depositing an army of indoctrinated servants, to wreak havoc on the streets below.
Quarian and Geth ships surged past him crashing into other sections of the Citadel, depositing their own formations, all with one goal in mind, to get to the Catalyst chamber and detonate the Crucible.
But there were enemies in the way, forces, arraying against them, with their weapons trying to defend the Citadel, street by street, building by building.
Abby reached for Joker's chair gripping onto it suddenly as the Normandy rocked around her.
"Joker." She hissed. "That was too close."
"Barriers are holding." EDI reported from her own console. "But are being drained."
"Yeah I know, it would be a lot better if I wasn't yelled at after each little pot shot, there is a lot of stuff flying out there." Joker groaned.
"If we don't get to the Citadel in one piece there may not be any flying out anywhere." She snapped lowly.
"Yeah, coming around." Joker reported.
"James, there's your first target." Abby said into the intercom.
"OK Lola, getting our bearings straight then we'll have one fried Cruiser coming right up."
The Normandy swung around dramatically moving to point right at the enemy Cruiser hanging in space, trying to fire its weapons at point blank range, trying to keep Harbinger safe from the enemy fire. The Normandy's Thanix canon deployed, slowly, its energy tips glowing an electric blue-white. It fired, vomiting a long stream of molten metal, near the speed of light. The effect was utterly devastating on the ancient Cruiser as it was ripped apart from the inside out, the beam cutting through the ship as if its hull were made of butter.
"Shepard, we're receiving a hail, it's from the Abraham Lincoln."
"Put it up." Shepard ordered moving to glance at the projector next to the pilot seat.
And on it was a frantic looking image of Admiral Jameson, her hair coming up in frilly puffs, sparks raining down behind her.
"Shepard, tried frontal assault, it failed we need the…" The image snowed for a second…" the Normandy…only way to get in there. Need you to create an opening or board the Citadel, assist whatever forces you can. You know what the Reaper wants; you know what his plan is, stop it…if you can."
Without a dismissal the screen cleared and Shepard was alone facing a blank screen. "Damn it…alright Joker."
"Yeah, setting a course for the Citadel," Joker relayed before adjusting the course once again.
"Alright," Shepard nodded, "EDI what do we got?"
"It seems that the Harbinger VI is using a screen of at least sixteen ships close in board to provide covering fire for him while he is docked, anything heavy comes in he can still use his own weaponry to dissuade them in the attempt."
"It's going to be tight getting in there, not without drawing a lot of attention. I don't think we can get in there any more than ten seconds before something pounces on us." Joker pointed at the screen now sowing the space immediately around the Citadel.
"Find a way Joker." Shepard ordered.
"We could attack the outer most ship in the line, and then cut through at full power, just staying long enough to deposit a Kodiak." EDI postulated.
Joker shook his head woefully.
"Joker?" Shepard asked.
"We won't be able to 'stop'. We're going to have to do it at full velocity if we have a hope in making it out the other end."
"Theoretically it is possible." EDI countered.
"Yes, in theory. But the margin for error is just too close. We'll be lucky not to get splatted on the way out, which is if we survive the run in the first place or if one of a million things doesn't go wrong. I'd feel more comfortable doing a high speed run and launching the Kodiak…at near full velocity."
"We can do that" Shepard nodded before the Synthetic could say anything to the contrary.
"The margin for error is slim."
"Not as slim as the margin for error in us getting out of there." Joker countered turning on EDI.
"And I'm not losing a ship, not if we can avoid it, needlessly." Shepard made the final decision before hitting the intercom, "Steve, Paul, Miranda, get the Kodiak ready. All squad members get into your gear and get down to the Kodiak bay in a minute and stand by for a high pressure drop."
"Right away ma'am." Steve replied on the other end.
"Alright Joker, get us onto that Citadel."
The Normandy rushed forward gathering speed as it went, almost reaching relativistic velocities, charging forward into the teeth of whatever broadsides were waiting for it. Hopefully they could ambush the enemy before they realized the Normandy was there and fully reacted to their presence.
Though the stealth drive would help they were really radiating a lot of heat.
Abigail Shepard held onto the back of Joker's chair, hoping that they'd make it, and preparing for what would happen if they didn't.
She willed her ship to go faster, to try and outrun the shell that would try at any second to kill them all. Teeth gritted, heart racing, engines roaring to life as they closed on the Quarian Frigate hanging off in the distance, approaching it and the Citadel in rapid order. The gun batteries on the vessel spewing fire down range at the combined allied fleet.
The vessel paused in its attack for a second, adjusting its course, as the gun batteries came around, Abby could imagine the seeker heads searching for the target they thought should be there, but couldn't detect.
Come on baby, faster, one more time, do it just one more time.
The Normandy groaned as if hearing her, responding to her, and the desperate pleas of the pilot shooting her right at the jaws of hell itself.
It spat a burst of ordinance into space, rocketing out, trying to hit their target that it still could not quite make out.
But they got them enough.
"Hang on!" Joker yelled.
Abby saw it as a streak of heat and light plowed through the gasses past the cockpit window hitting the Normandy on its port engine pylon.
The ship pitched at the impact, Abby was thrown to the side slamming into the side bulkhead of the cockpit, stations around her sizzling and sparking.
"James!" She yelled getting into the center and composing herself. "No point for stealth now, get that thing out of my sky."
"With pleasure Lola!" James's voice came over the intercom.
"Barriers down to forty five percent." The tactical officer reported.
"Come on baby, get us a lock on." James whispered, urging his gun to save them.
Two more rounds streaked in from starboard and slammed into the Normandy's hull and engines. The ship rocked but stayed true on course.
"Barriers down to twenty two percent."
Come on. Abby pleaded, prayed to whatever god of engine and steel would listen to her.
Out of the view port a tongue of white flame erupted from the nose of the Normandy. Striking the Frigate in their aft compartment, scouring it, but it managed to stay reasonably intact, though heavily damaged, it began to drift, its hull rupturing contents.
The Normandy's GUARDIAN lasers came to life and quickly fixed that problem as it struck the side of the ship ripping it apart and detonating its drive core.
"Come on Joker, get us in there." Abby pleaded getting right behind the pilot.
The man gritted his teeth as the Normandy shot through the explosion, and lurched violently upwards, the shock wave and debris colliding with the hull and barriers.
"Barriers are fried, generators are soaked, trying to reroute to secondary." Tactical responded going to work.
"Alright we're through, just barely holding together, but we're through. If you're going to do anything you better go now."
"Thanks Joker," Shepard replied running off through the back of the CIC and onto the elevator.
Shepard joined the already crowded Kodiak crew compartment full of her current squad, all gathering for this one final push, even Liara.
"You sure you are up for this?" Shepard asked her.
"Wouldn't miss this for the world." The Asari responded.
"Hang on." Steve yelped.
Out the view port the shuttle launched from the Normandy and made its way to the Citadel, which was already filling up its view port. Shepard spared one more thought for the safety of her ship and crew before turning back to more pressing concerns.
They made their way to one of the emergency launch bays and in a blink of an eye it was filling the forward viewport.
"Alright everyone this is it!" Abby wrenched the Valkyrie from its pot on her back deploying it in her hand.
The Kodiak slammed into the bay floor launching Shepard and the companions into the floor, each of them scrambling up to check their weapons and themselves. The side door burst open before the shuttle fully came to a halt and Abby and her squad came out onto the floor in a rush.
Shepard crouched down leading the long train of commandos around the shuttle, peeking around the corner to get a view of the bay.
It was full of combatants on two sides each trying to kill the other. Bullets went back and forth between the two sides as the Reapers advanced with Husks and other converted creatures while the combined Turian and human forces hunkered down behind barricades and make shift pieces of cover.
"There is our target!" Shepard yelled pointing over at a knit of human soldiers hunkering down behind an overturned shuttle, one of them firing above it.
She scanned the bay again making sure they were clear, but not wanting to draw too much attention to them. At least not yet.
The Reapers had set up some kind of giant gun in the middle of the floor, large, round, with a protrusion jutting from it. It fired recoiling back launching a blast of concentrated energy. It glowed red firing, making the sound of a Reaper going off in the back ground, before slamming into a wall exploding, taking out two soldiers there.
"Come on let's move!" Shepard said pointing.
She stayed low along with most of her squad staying to the ground, only James fired with his Revenant bringing up the rear, spraying bullets to suppress the enemy and give them a chance.
They collapsed right next to the commander of the guard forces.
"What the? Commander Shepard?" She asked.
"Yeah, I feel like I'm at a disadvantage here." She responded perturbed at her celebrity.
"Sorry, Captain Hailey, Citadel Security."
What do they do get them out of the same box or something? "What's your status Captain?"
"We're holding on…barely. The Alliance and Hierarchy sent ground troops to help us secure the Citadel, we just didn't expect the forces that the Reaper would muster against us. Add to that we hadn't completed the evacuation before Harbinger hit."
"You weren't able to complete evacuations? Why?" Shepard asked.
"Twenty two million people are living here now, and when a good many of those don't want to leave for whatever reason…."
"There were twenty two million people here?" Shepard asked disbelieving the stupidity of the universe.
Hailey nodded grimly, " 'fraid so."
Before Shepard could continue her interrogation of the woman a screech pierced the air interrupting them. A pale pasty form jumped on the shuttle and almost brought its weapon around on them. Shepard and Hailey both swung their weapons up and fired, hitting it in its chest.
"What the hell was that?" James asked.
"I don't think we want to know." Abby muttered. "What's the opposition like?" She turned back to Hailey.
"A real gaggle of old enemies…even including…"
A piercing wail interrupted her.
"Banshee!" Someone shouted, followed quickly by the stutter of automatic weapons fire.
James's Revenant and Paul's Valiant joined in firing at the thing until it fell.
"Yeah a few Banshees haven't seen too many but they have been reported throughout the station ransacking it, patrolling the halls. But the real killer is that thing." Hailey said getting up with Shepard and jabbing her head at the heavy canon.
It fired again prompting a quick duck from the squad.
"If we get that thing we have a chance of mounting a proper defense." Hailey finished.
"Alright," Abby nodded glancing over the squad, "James, Ashley, Liara, you stay here and give us covering fire with Hailey's crew, we'll flank that thing then you come in behind us to help."
They all nodded and Shepard sprang to action, rolling over Hailey and launching her to the other side of the cover. She peeked around the corner watching for her opportunity, waiting for a second, a group of Turian husks began to advance on them, and she knew it had come.
"OK everyone this is it!" Shepard yelled.
The Avengers, Revenant, and other automatic weapons fired, shooting down a few of the Turians.
Shepard sprang forward rolling around one corner and then running quickly to the other. This drew the attention of the canon which swiveled around on her position and fired. She rolled around to the next set of cover the blast of energy just barely missing her back as she flew on by. The rest of the squad slowly followed.
"Alright people give them some covering fire."
She popped out behind the cover going into Adrenaline Rush with her Valkyrie, aiming down its sights and opening fire down range, EDI and the rest of the squad joined in with her as James led the second group.
The assembled husks, human, Turian, and the new form all looked up at her surprised when the weapons started to hit their position, killing them, they quickly began to return fire.
The enemy was too busy being in the cross fire between the C-Sec forces and Shepard's squad to really notice since James was staying low, but making reasonably good place.
Finally after what had seemed like minutes the two squads hooked up.
"Alright snipers, go to work, take out the crew." Abby said gesturing wildly at the big gun.
Ashley and Cynthia sprang up deploying their Black Widows simultaneously and raining fire down on the enemy. Paul joined in with his Valiant and Shepard added her Valkyrie to the mix firing at anything that was moving, anything that looked like a Husk. Shepard tracked one husk charing at them indirectly charging in a parallel, firing, taking it down on the run.
The squad drained one thermal clip each taking down much of the C-Sec opposition, and breaking the flood of the enemy.
"Alright everyone get into the Citadel…now!" Shepard ordered leading the way, rushing into the wards proper, hoping they weren't too late.
AN/AC: Well now that I am finally getting this up. Long story. Anyways 4 chapters left now. And I was thinking it would be funny if someone could do like a trailer for these last few chapters like the last five episodes thing you see for series. Anyways enjoy, read, review, sorry for the delay (really sorry yikes)