The Sword of Humanity

Chapter Nine

John Shepard left his private cabin fully cleaned from the Holotank's stinky liquid, albeit tired beyond chance. He wasn't actually going to fall on the ground and start sleeping though —he had gone many days without sleep before. His drooping eyes guided him slowly towards the med-bay and towards the Jane Doe that had apparently been sedated into sleeping.

Dr. Chawkas was maniacally grinning, holding a brain the size of a small melon, by the time he opened the doors and entered. Near her, twenty-five tanks stood open, with twenty-four filled with a brain each. All of them were interlinked and filled with needles and sensors, before they united into a single thick cable that ran into the wall. John knew it went straight towards the Ai core and back, but then again he tried to do his best to forget about the 'future' for any Commander whose body failed them before they could effectively 'die' in battle.

Something about being a brain in a jar never appealed to him.

"Commander," Chawkas said with a small amused tone. "I'm just finishing the last one. The Matriarch's brain was slightly damaged, but I can't fault the Lieutenant. Apparently he had to shoot her in the face at least twice."

"Twice?" John snorted. "Do those monsters ever have an end?" he sighed, before his gaze travelled to one of the doors that led in the quarantine sector. "How's the Jane Doe doing?"

"She's fine. Physically at least. Psionically, she's off the charts by little. There were traces of Element Zero in her body…they probably were experimenting on the difference between Biotics and Psionics…the poor thing is traumatized."

"Her genetical makeup?"

"She's not a Replicant, Commander. The implications of that however…"

John bit his lip, before nodding in silence.

Replicants were used in the colony worlds further away from the 'core' of the Solforce Empire. Many marines were actually Replicants, given a new name and a new identity while in the 'tanks'. "So she's genuine? Parents?"

"They are not in the database," Karin shook her head. "Maybe they have yet to be adjourned, but that would mean…"

"Either her parents are both not of Solforce…but that's impossible, or she's…she was never registered before," John whispered. "Which means one of the Psionic facilities was breached. One of the infants kidnapped. One of the special Project ones to boot, since those don't result in the databases."

"You mean a tank bred Cerberus?" Chawkas muttered back in awe. "How did they manage to infiltrate Arcturus? That station is untouchable! There are at least three Leviathans at all times patrolling it with their fleets! The Sword of the Stars Flagship would…"

"Then what else?" he retorted. "Have you checked for the Kill Switch?"

"Ah, no, I haven't," Karin muttered. She placed the brain into the tank then, before pushing a button with her elbows near the desk she had been working on. A hologram of a DNA sequence appeared, and as the Dr. looked at it, John could see sweat starting to form on Karin's face.

"Mother of God," she mouthed out. "It's not there."

"She was kidnapped in the nursery, then," John replied. "She barely has the initial Genetical knowledge then," he shook his head. "It's a wonder she can even speak. She recognized the marines as allies at least."

"Probably when the battle raged her facility was breached, and she recalled through genetics how to escape," Karin suggested.

"It can be anything, Doc," John shrugged. "I'll have to warn the Director of this. I'll try and get Jane Doe to talk…we'll call her Jane for the moment, unless they somewhat named her."

"An alien name," Karin shook her head, clenching her right hand. "Poor dear."

"Well, if she wants to change it, I'll suggest Karin," John joked before stepping towards the quarantine area doors.

"Flatterer!" Karin teased back as she gave the all-right to the door, which opened with a slight hiss noise.

As he looked at the sleeping woman in quarantine, a memory slammed into his brain with the strength of a sledgehammer. He recoiled as if struck, closing his eyes shut.

Screeching noises. Scythes capable of tearing apart a human in seconds. Sharp teeth and snarls of ferocious monsters, the likes of which only horror stories could speak of.

In armor they moved one after the other, thousands upon thousands of Marines. Bullets that sailed across the air. Noises and explosions as the rubble could not block their advance. Giant machines falling down with the strength of a hundred tanks. Screeching noises.

Dark red eyes intertwined with vicious malice rotten in their core.

"Born of Blood…"

Blood, red and crimson, flowed freely down the walls. A sharp white and black scene. Angered yells, he held onto a small weight to his side.

He didn't know why, but fear was the only thing he was feeling.

"The universe is out to kill you, recruits!" his instructor snarled at them. "But we won't let them win! Understand this! You are N7! You are the best! Whereas other fails, you succeed! Fear does not exist! You will never be afraid to lay down your life in the name of Solforce! Your limbs are offered to Solforce! Your heart is pledged to Humanity! Your brains are to serve mankind! For every man, for every woman, for every child who screamed to death as they watched their last moments! For every living human who watched death because we could not stop it! Never again! Never again will we lay broken! Never again will we lose! We are no longer weak! We are no longer the underdog! Show them your teeth! Snarl to the Zuul! Break the wings of the Morrigi! Snap the Tarka! Burn the Hiver! Electrocute the Loa! Reap apart the Liir! Fear no alien, fear no enemy, fear no Suul'ka. Fear nothing and fight! Fight for Earth. Fight for Humans. Fight for yourself. Fight for a future free of war! Nothing can stop an N7! Nothing can stop a Marine! Nothing. Can. Stop. Humanity!"

He breathed, slowly. His eyes resettled on the woman. He blinked and brought his right hand to his brain, trying to hold back the pain of the headache. He remembered that instructor. Well, to be clear everyone remembered him. It was the basic training. It was genetically instructed. There was no time for training children in becoming soldiers. They could train their bodies, but their souls? Their souls had to be molded through genetics. Memories, thoughts, recollections…Replicants were taught how to be 'humans' in that way…

And from there, the knowledge was taught through the entire race.

The woman stirred as the IV stopped delivering the anesthetic.

"uhmm…" the woman moaned slightly, as he stepped forward and then slowly touched her forehead with the back of his hand.

"Ah," her eyes snapped open in an instant. She tried to stand, but the effects of the tranquilizers made her weak and woozy. "Urk…"

"Easy now," John began, holding her back with his right hand and grasping a cup filled with water with his left. "You're safe now."

"Ah…where am I?" she whispered, her eyes locking onto his as they were wide in fear.

"You're on the Leviathan-class vessel SFS Normandy, in the med-bay. I have to ask, do you remember your name?"

The woman frowned, her rarely seen blue eyes settling —blue eyes were extremely rare in Humanity— on him for a second more, before turning to look around.

"I…I'm called…" she muttered. "Lia."

"Lia?" he raised an eyebrow. "Close your eyes for a moment, Lia," he whispered gently. "Try and stop thinking. Close your senses…"

The woman watched him with a frightened expression, before complying.

"What's your name, soldier!?" he snapped out quickly.

"Liara, sir!" she opened her eyes wide a second after. Her right hand cupped to her mouth in fear.

"Specification, soldier Liara!"

"G…Ground unit force, sir!" tears began to prickle next to the woman's eyes as she seemed to be fighting the genetical makeup with all her strength.

"Hush, let it go," he replied gently letting his left hand pat the woman's head. "This is what you really are," he whispered. "Solforce imprints class and rank in Psion soldiers since their birth. It doesn't matter that the aliens gave you a name that isn't human. You're human."

She began to sob. "Shh, shh," he hugged her as he would a crying child. "Everything will be all right. You're safe now." He murmured with a soothing tone, humming a light tune. "You're with friends and family…" he sang a little tune alongside his words, "You're home little one, and no-one will take you away again."

She cried. She cried herself to exhaustion and beyond, trembling from the effort to remain awake and probably overtaxing herself. John just gently lowered her back on the bed, watching as tears still kept on falling freely. They had dared to call the woman Liara. Wasn't that the same name as that Asari doctor?

Could it be a common name between those of that species?

He stood up quietly, turning to leave.

"THIS ISN'T A TEST! ALL HANDS TO DECK! ENEMY INCOMING!" Blasts and torn apart metals. Sharp glitters of sparks of molten steel. Blood gushing out.

"Stand and fight!" a hand grasping his. "Stand tall men!" It didn't matter their perfection.

Even perfect soldiers die.

"We battle millions! We battle billions! We battle universes! Hold them away from the Command Deck!"

Bullets grazing his shoulders, his armor bouncing together with him as he slams his right fist in the guts of a Tarka. Screams of the enemy mix with his as blood flows from his mouth.

A grenade flies in the air. Smoke fills the air.

The small cramped quarters are a slaughterhouse of torn limbs and blood. A slaughter and carnage that no sane man could imagine.

And there he stands on the deck. The Tarka vessel's guns are pointed at the Cruiser whose engines are destroyed. His hand clenches the gun. His teeth grit furiously. His eyes narrow.

And then, he runs for the pod as the enemy's guns fire upon the broken Solforce ship.

The explosion makes the enemy's pod fly back, and as the doors open…as the aliens look…

He fires.

For his screams are those of Humanity. And within countless millions, within thousands of worlds…

His screams are those of who never yielded.

"This. Is. War!" and the Alpha Tarka's face turns to mush as he charges through.

The corpse of the Tarka is riddled with plasma as he advances with the alien's corpse as a shield. Over three hundred kilos of beast, and yet he lifts it through rage, through anger, through hatred. Bullets strike his companions. Bullets break shields, and where they fail his charging body does the job.

He doesn't stop. He doesn't look back.

His knife slashes and breaks. His fists bleed and break. His teeth snarl and chip.

His muscles ache and his body bleeds.

But he does not stop.

And by the time he reaches their command deck, by the time he reaches their heart…

The planet is no longer theirs.

And the screams just grow in strength.

"Commander," Chakwas' voice awoke him within seconds. He stumbled on his feet, looking around wildly. "I should have checked in with you," Karin remarked. "Psion tend to naturally deliver and receive the emotions of those around them. That's why she was sedated and in quarantine."

"Urgh," he grumbled. "Empathy was never my strength."

"Are you in need of counsel, Commander?"

"No, I'm fine," he remarked. "We have a mission to complete…" he breathed slowly. "And I won't die from the voices in my head."

"If you say so, Commander. I suggest you let Rodriguez talk with her."

"I'll send her along then," he whispered. He was just about to step outside of the infirmary, when he turned to look at the Doctor and murmured.

"It never becomes easier to deal with pain, is it?" his voice cracked slightly. "All this…this suffering, this pain…why can't our enemies just stand down and stop?"

"Commander," Chawkas replied slowly. "Maybe…maybe they scream too, but we cannot listen?"

"That's…that's preposterous," John shook his head. "They…they attacked first. All of them, they did first what we didn't. They are the ones at fault, not us! Why should we be the ones to deliver the other cheek!?"

"Someone will have to, eventually," Chawkas remarked. "Violence always brings forth more violence."

He said nothing more, and simply left.

He had to think.


It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a nightmare. She was again on a ship with Commander Shepard. She was human, and apparently her biotics were…they were…gone? Changed would be a better term but…

She shuddered and held herself tightly. There was a chill running all around her. It was cold. Empty and desolate it made her feel…sad. The door opened and suddenly there was warmth. It was controlled. Carefully hidden beneath layers of spikes, but it was there.

A woman with dark curly brown hair entered, her dark eyes settled on her for a moment before a small smile appeared on her lips.

"Well, ain't you the scared little duckling! The name's Rodriguez and boy, you should control your emotions," she huffed, bringing her hand to wave in front of her. "I can feel them reek of despair from here."

Her eyes widened. "And here's the shock. Don't tell me those bastards didn't tell you anything?"

There was anger now, filtering through the air and reaching her. She was angry? Why was she feeling angry?

"Ah…let's take a deep breath," Rodriguez began once more. "You've got calm yourself. Psionics are the ability to mend reality based on the will of the individuals. People who can use psionics are 'natural receivers' of the thoughts and intentions of those that surround them. You feel anger? I feel your anger and get angry too. You feel me angry and you get angered once more. On the other hand if I calm myself, you feel calm too. Understood?"

She didn't. Biotics worked because there were Element Zero nodes within the Asari's own bodies. This was…preposterous. It was as if the Solforce version of Biotics worked only because there were other Biotics willing to work together.

"Yeah, you got the gist of it," Rodriguez nodded a moment later. "If we concentrate, we can actually share a sort-of telepathic link. I say sort-of because I can't read your mind, duckling, but that doesn't stop me from guessing that you're 'surprised' and then 'suspicious' and then 'perplexed'. The last one is generally because you understood but can't get to the end of your thought, right?"

"H-How?" she croaked back.

"That's…well, I don't know," she shrugged. "Psionics just…are. It's like asking what the meaning of life is. You can't get it. The Liir say that every voice sings, no matter what. So probably…we just guide the songs? I don't know…it's not like we can talk to a Liir and get some information from them."

"The Commander," Liara whispered then. "He was…sad?"

"Considering how sad you are? He probably relived some pretty bad experience." Rodriguez smiled wistfully. "We all get our scars, physical or mental, the longer we live. That's the problem with us biotics. When thousands die upon the planet we swore to protect…we feel them. We feel the dying screams of thousands. We feel the millions rage and thirst for revenge…and many go mad after the first time," she whispered.

"I see," Liara awkwardly remarked. "But…if so, why not look for peace?"

"Peace?" Rodriguez snorted. "Have you ever seen your mother dismembered limb by limb because 'pain makes for a wonderful appetizer'? Have you ever watched your brother turned into food? Have you ever seen the cleaver descend upon your very own leg, because they wanted an appetizer?"

Rage and anger, mixed with bitter regret were the things Liara felt now. How could she even think of peace, when revenge was all this was about?

This was a vicious cycle. A cycle that couldn't be broken.

She breathed slowly. "What will happen to me now?"

"Now? We're getting you up to par and then on the ground team. For now just rest, they'll eventually ask you where you came from or if you can recall anything of who kidnapped you. We'll get reparations from the Council too."

Liara's breath hitched.

"Wow! Calm down! Nobody's going to harm you!" Rodriguez brought both of her hands forward. "You're home now. You're safe."

The only problem, to Liara…

Was that this wasn't her home.

The Director

He exhaled slowly as he clasped his hands together.

"We believed you," the Director remarked. "We went as far as granting you help," he added. "And yet not only did you lie to us…you stole from us too."

The holograms of the council flickered for a moment. "This is preposterous! Noveria was not housing a human prisoner!"

"The videos do not lie!" Jack snarled back. "You have one chance to convince me you are not planning to attack humanity, councilor, one chance or we will remove our help and let the enemy that we have been safeguarding you from invade your very doorsteps! The Zuul destroyed your precious Noveria, and tore apart your very fleets. We came to your rescue, did we not? Next time…we might be late."

Silence stretched thin.

"What should we do, to convince Solforce?" Tevos was the first to speak, her voice barely hearable.

"You will brand Saren and Matriarch Benezia as traitors. You will actively hunt for them. You will grant our fleets passage through Citadel space, and finally, we expect two thousand tons of Eezo to be delivered to Omega before the end of the week."

"Two thousand…tons?" Sparatus' voice was filled with disbelief. "That would be…what the Hierarchy produces in one year! It's preposterous!"

"That or you will be explaining to your citizens just what humanity is guarding you from, Councilors. And the fact that Humanity is leaving you to fend off for yourself will just be the icing on the cake, I suppose."

"You baited us." Valern stated. "Noveria had Matriarch Benezia. Communications were cut. They returned with two fleets battling and a destroyed planet. No survivors. Cannot claim Solforce attacking planet."

"Why would we?" the Director remarked. "Because it had Geth presences on it? How could we know about that?"

"Council compromised." Valern pointed out. "Spectres compromised."

The Director just smiled. "Well…that is your opinion."

"I agree that there is irrefutable proof of Saren's betrayal." Valern wasn't done speaking, as he apparently added. "Spectres privileges will be revoked."

"Very well," Sparatus spoke next. "We will hunt for Saren."

"No need," the Director remarked. "We are doing that already."

Tevos' hologram stood up, her right finger pointed at him.

"You knew from the beginning!" she accused.

"Of course I knew!" the Director laughed. "Expect betrayals from your allies. Expect death from your enemies. Expect evil from those you think are friends."

"You…you never intended to give our words any weight, did you?" Tevos' question was laced with a slight fright, as Jack just smiled.

"Why listen to insects, when the battle is fought between Gods?"


Geth Cruisers bombarded the planet, as dropships brought the assault platforms down on the ground. Their mass effect cannons and torpedo strikes slammed against the hard crust of the world, tearing apart hundreds of kilometer of civilization within mere instants. The synthetics didn't stop, calibrating the precision of their shots to the meter.

The Mass Relay showed signs of activities on their sensors. They barely acknowledged it that their signals were scrambled.

"Obey Solforce," a Geth platform nearby quoted. "Obey."

Their cruiser slammed against the other, both detonating as their reactor was ordered to reach critical mass.

"Tell me something I don't know," John Shepard spoke from his holo-tank, as the alert messages rammed through his skull one after the other.

"Forward lasers ready for fire," Edi remarked. Blasts of red flew and pierced the nearby cruiser. The Leviathan, as if an angry God uncaring for the ants near him, simply sailed through the deep darkness of space slamming particle beams and laser blasts the size of small houses against the Geth's fleet.

A Psionic push slammed an incoming Dreadnought against three cruisers, the ship rolled to starboard, avoiding deftly five mass drivers' shots. In the Holotank, Shepard swam graciously with his hands pushing through the fleet he commanded.

Squadrons dog-fighted against the Alpha Cruiser, who was firing back with its point-blank defense while protecting the assault shuttles landing on the planet. The Geth's own fighters cared little for survival, as they more than once simply decided to crash one against the other just to take out a single assault shuttle from the ensuing blast.

His left hand pushed and tapped on a holographic keyboard. The Alpha's missiles exploded from the point blank of the Geth Cruiser tagged near the space-port. The Beta's however passed through and shook the enemy ship long enough for the assault shuttles to make it into the planet's gravity.

As the shuttles pierced the atmosphere and began to descend, John relaxed slightly.

He swept his right hand horizontally, bringing up the Beta's orders. Pointing at a Geth Dreadnought whose engines had been torn apart, he ordered the boarding party to land on it. Letting the boarders go, he turned his attention to the accelerating cruisers that were on a collision course against the Leviathan.

He widened his eyes as he thrust both hands against the upcoming vessels. Storms and hails of laser rays dashed in space, one after the other slamming and chiseling away at the Geth incoming. Explosions rocked the first Geth Cruisers as the onslaught continued.

Twisting the ship's axis, readying for the second volley from the other side, he barely controlled himself as the Lieutenant activated the thrusters to redirect the ship's engines slightly to the side. Mass Driver slugs sailed in the spot where an instant later the engines would have been, together with torpedoes.

The battle bridge fired back in his place, the particle beam connecting with the forward destroyers and tearing in their fleet leaving behind explosions that quaked through the Leviathan.

"We are Solforce!" John screamed, as he nearly punched the glass of the holotank, activating the sideways missiles that ended up slamming against the head of the closest Dreadnought on the collision course.

Two cruisers still managed to pass through, one of them so badly wounded it crashed against the metallic plates of the Leviathan and detonated at point-blank range.

"Turrets in forward starboard side expelled! Hull breached! Pressurizing!" he yelled the order as the AI executed it with immediate speed. "Redirect power to self-defense systems! Alert marines! All hands on deck! Prepare for counter…"

The second cruiser crashed and broke through, ending up bringing the Leviathan away from its plotted course and making it end up on a collision course with the planet itself.

"REDIRECT ENERGY TO SIDE THRUSTERS! Assault team! Take that fucking Cruiser out of my ship!"

"Xavier module!? Prepare for a repair order on our flank soon!"

John breathed as he heard the patting sound of feet near his position. He looked as marines encircled his tank, to stand guard with their rifles positioned near the only entrance of the Holotank area, the true heart of the ship.


They had given her armor. They had told her where the gun had to be held when at rest and when armed.

They had told her to follow and never remove her suit.

She had no idea what she was doing, following these human soldiers to battle, but apparently they knew and they believed she would know.

Goddess, she had never held more than a gun in her hand before, and now this rifle…this rifle seemed like second nature to her. She felt like a Turian. "Suit's air is recycled forever," Ashley Williams spoke next to her. She had no idea if fate hated her or liked her, but apparently she had been entrusted to the same soldier again.

"Thrusters on the back: don't forget to use them to glide in space," she added as she tied her belt to a steel cable near a door. "We're going space-side, bastards!" she screamed then to the rest of the marine team. The door slid open a second later, and vacuum caught the little air remaining in the depressurized room.

Space was filled with silence. It suffocated her to watch ships crash and explode near her without actually hearing them. At least on the Asari ships a small VI program was always set to let noises be heard when something flashed by in front of the visors. Maybe it wasn't realistic, but it helped deaden the unnerving tension that something the size of a house might be coming to crash against you…and you wouldn't even hear it coming.

Ashley grabbed her hands and pushed herself off the sides of the Leviathan with practiced ease. The rest of the marine compartment followed her, and as the small company made its way to the upper side of the Geth Cruiser's plating, Liara couldn't help but be awed by the sheer amount of guts the humans possessed.

Even Turians would be wary to actually adopt a strategy of boarding without pods an enemy ship, and yet the humans did it as if it was second nature, or as if they sincerely believed nothing would go wrong. The Geth's Gardian laser fired precise bursts on the falling marines, tearing three apart before the rest could land right next to the turrets in question and disable them with explosive charges.

By the time her magnetic boot touched the exterior of the enemy cruiser, awe had been replaced by sheer terror. It was as if these men didn't care if their fellow soldiers died like flies for seemingly suicidal orders. There was no recrimination in the coms for the order given. Even as more laser fire brought down more and more marines, the rest fought on without the minimum care.

It was as if they literally believed they could not lose.

She didn't realize she had been firing until she found herself ejecting the clip and inserting a new one. Was this the 'genetic knowledge' Ashley had spoken of? Was this the reason the others didn't even seem to care about their losses? She was pushed down as a laser bolt passed slightly over her head, nearly nicking her suit's helmet. She turned to thank the soldier, only to see a gaping hole of flying intestines and blood in the place of a chest.

She would have screamed, had she held any air in her lungs.

She was slammed against a torn turret by another marine that tackled her, bringing her out of the firing area and in cover.

"Are you listening to me or not soldier!?" Ashley's voice cut through her panic-induced shock, forcing her to mutter.

"Oh Goddess. Goddess…he's dead. He's dead."

"We've got a useable breach!" Ashley remarked through the coms. "Converge on my location!"

The Gunnery Chief fired upon the white charred plates of the broken turret, before slamming her right shoulder against it and creating a passage. "Grenade in the hole!" she flung a small round thing within, before waiting for the blast. Once it happened, the tremors lasting just a mere instant, the Gunnery Chief jumped through the tear first, soon followed by three other marines.

Liara hesitated only one second.

She was falling inside the Geth cruiser barely a minute after the last crumbling bit of cover exploded in a shower of sparks.

Within the cruiser, dead Geth were laying in pools of white blood all across the corridor, delivering to her a sure-fire way of reaching for the rest of the 'team'.

She began to run across the sinuous and aesthetically pleasant corridors, now filled with torn apart bodies of Geth destroyed in the most gruesome of matters. Many had been shot, but a few had their heads torn and their legs snapped, before having their chests cracked by powerful blows.

She didn't hear the sound of gunfight, but she saw the glimpse of red belonging to a brawler suit near the end of the corridor, and barely managed to near it when a Geth, red and far bigger than all the others, slammed against the armored marine and broke the visor of the brawler suit.

She instinctively conjured her Biotics.

Liara imagined that, had there been air, they would have heard an extremely loud snapping sound as the Geth Prime was torn in two equal parts, both flying away in separate direction.

"Well done!" Ashley's voice reached her, as she found herself running towards the soldier with the fractured visor. "Leave him! He's going to die anyway!"

"Can't we seal his helmet!?" she rebuffed her, looking at the man who was clawing at his own armor's neck.

"No," a bullet tore through the man's face. A bullet fired by Ashley's own gun. It was the second time Liara watched from such close range a gory scene…but this time, the killer had been human. This…this was like watching the ferociousness of the Krogans.

"What are you doing!?" she screamed at the woman, grabbing her arm or at least trying to. She was rammed against the wall a moment later, by a masterfully executed counter-lock.

"We have to finish this fast! We'll send a team to collect his body later on! First we win, then we can dilly dally!"

"You murdered him!"

"We don't have time for this shit," Ashley snapped, nodding to the other two marines who proceeded ahead. "What the hell did they feed you? You're Solforce! Act like it!"

Liara would have wanted to scream that she wasn't, but even if she did…she wouldn't probably survive, would she?

"I…I can't…understand."

"Look," Ashley's hands firmly settled on the Brawler Suit's shoulder pads of Liara. "I'll tell you later, after all of this is done and we're back on the Normandy. Understood?"

She nodded meekly, her eyes shut as she was slapped on the side of the brawler suit and handed her rifle back. "Now follow me and watch my six."

Liara nodded. She could watch the woman's back. They began to walk through the corridor littered with Geth bodies, before coming to stop in a circular hall which ended straight where the Mass Effect core of the Geth Cruiser stood active.

There was no sign of the two marines who had gone first.

Liara felt a disturbance above her, an intense jolt of pain that made her recoil to the side and probably saved her life. The lifeless body of a marine was flung down from the ceiling, which resulted in her opening fire a moment later against a strange four legged Geth creature that had been walking upside down till then.

Ashley saw her fire and did the same, before a few sideways metal plates shifted aside, to reveal incoming Geth Platforms.

"Warmind! Warmind!" Ashley screamed something that to Liara's ears seemed gibberish, but it was then that she just went with the flow and slammed both of her hands forward. Nothing happened.

She felt drained.

She felt completely and utterly tired, even as the white machines that had never left the Perseus Veil before advanced on her, she felt completely and utterly spent.

It was then that she felt it, it was some sort of shudder that travelled across her entire soul. It was some sort of scream of war and anger that seemed to rise from the bottom of her throat, but was instead something that she realized…that she realized was scattered across the entire empire of Solforce. It was the scream of the Psions who interlinked one with the other, who could sense and feel each and every little and tiny thing that walked and believed, and yet at the same time they couldn't.

It was the thing of a millisecond, like watching the passing and fleeting instant of a snowflake melting on the tip of one's own warm fingers. The feeling was gone, but there no longer were Geths on the side of the cruiser —only giant holes like the ones of the hospital. Like the ones that she had created.

The Mass Effect core destabilized, before being spaced out not a moment too soon as it detonated —sending debris and rubble to scatter across the darkness of space and slamming her and Ashley away from the Cruiser and into the middle of nowhere.

The torn remains of the Cruiser seemed to animate then, and Liara watched with fascination as the very steel plates of the Normandy apparently came alive and pushed away the cruiser, repairing them along the way.

It was something akin to magic.

No wonder humans believed themselves superior. They could repair things with their mere thoughts. Not even the strongest of biotics possessed that sheer mental will.

It was…


And as she stood there, floating in deep space, fascinated from what she was seeing, a lurking sense of horror reached for the base of her spine.

Was this…

Was this what the Council was going to fight?

It was impossible. The Council would never win against the might of Solforce, and…

She winced in pain as her head seemed to explode from a monstrous headache. The Council had a large enough fleet to survive the war of attrition, certainly, and…

No, they didn't.

Yes, no, maybe…

Genetic knowledge clashed against her very own thoughts.

So that was why…That was why Ashley didn't seem to care about the victims or the dead marines. She couldn't.

It wasn't just genetic knowledge.

Solforce wasn't simply following orders…

They were slaves bound to a single will.

And their master could be none other than the Director himself.

She shuddered.

This wasn't going to end well no matter which side she leaned on.


Blood would flow.

Author's notes

And done.

Next chapter, landing on Feros and seeing who Subject Zero is.