Shepard Likes Rocket Launchers
Shepard stepped out of the elevator and turned. Before him, the Normandy gleamed, even in the dim lights of the docking bay. He put his hands on his hips and grinned.
Liara walked up beside him, leaning on the railing. "It looks just like new. You should have seen her after the battle. It wasn't pretty."
"I'll bet," Garrus said. "She's a tough girl, isn't she?"
Shepard nodded and proceeded into the airlock.
Officially, we cannot acknowledge the Reaper threat. At this point, it would only cause mass panic and confusion. We have next to no solid information on them.
Joker turned in his seat. "Hey, Commander! Nice to see you alive!"
Unofficially, however, we are worried. The evidence you have presented, while limited, has certain aspects that are irrefutable.
Shepard smiled. "Joker! I should have expected you'd be here. Who else is back?"
"Just about everyone," Joker reported. "We took no casualties during the battle. Oh, by the way, I'm still waiting on my medal for that. Did you see how many shots I dodged? Shoom!"
Your medical reports are clean, and your personality remains very much intact. Hence, effective immediately, you are returned to active duty as a member of the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance Branch.
Shepard sighed. "I'll see what I can do. But officially, the Reapers still don't exist. The Council still thinks burying it all is a good idea. They don't want unnecessary panic."
Joker snorted. "Yeah. We'll wait until they actually get here. See how much panic it'll cause then."
The Normandy has just been released from dry-dock, its repairs completed. You have our authorization to assume its command. Your mission is to investigate the Reaper threat. Determine if it indeed exists, and if so, find ways to stop it.
Shepard leaned on a bulkhead in the cockpit. Behind him, Garrus took up a relaxed stance with his arms crossed. Liara walked forwards and took a seat in the sensor station's chair. The four friends waited there in silence for authorization to leave port.
I imagine you will want to travel to Ilos. An untouched Prothean world? We would send a science team there if it weren't so far into the Terminus Systems. At any rate, if the Reapers exist you should find a great deal of evidence on them there. We wish you luck, Commander.
"I'll miss those that aren't coming with us," Shepard said after awhile. "Who knows how long this mission will last."
"Yeah," Joker sighed. "But at any rate… It's good to be home, huh, Commander?"
Garrus chuckled. "Damn right."
"Operative Lawson? What do you have to report?"
"Three things. Firstly, early warning sensors have picked up something," the hologram said. "There's a ship heading for Minuteman Station."
The man in the chair paused, watching the surface of Anadius ripple. He took a deep draw from his cigar.
"IFF registers it as a civilian cargo freighter, the MSV Iadantor. But there are no destinations near Minuteman where a cargo vessel would be travelling to, and the ship is making a beeline straight for the station."
The man sighed. "Very well. We must have had an information leak somewhere. Prepare the SR-2 for launch. Let's see what it can do. What else?"
The hologram nodded. "An Alliance survey unit just finished their report on Klendagon. I think you will want to see the results."
The report appeared in the air before him, scrolling automatically as he read.
A smile began to spread over his face. "Excellent. Deploy a search team to that sector as soon as possible. This may be the break we have been looking for. And the third matter that needs my attention?"
The hologram took a breath. "The colonies of Cyrene, Freedom's Progress, and Ferris Fields all suddenly ceased all communications this past week. The Alliance hasn't pieced together a pattern yet, but I suspect something is going on."
The man nodded. "Ensure that the reports of the disappearances are buried. If the Alliance gets there before our teams do, evidence will be harder to find. Once Minuteman is secure, you'll lead Lazarus Cell and investigate."
"Understood," the hologram said, and then faded away.
"Everyone, into the shuttles!" shouted Tazzik. "We're almost there." He scratched his horns. One of the Shadow Broker's most trusted salarian agents, Tazzik stood at far above average salarian height, his face rugged and wrinkled from combat experience.
The Iadantor's hidden hanger doors opened, and the mercenaries filed into their assault shuttles. Tazzik smiled. Their current task was quite different from what the Broker normally asked him to do. He would take down these human bigots with a smile on his face. He reached down to retrieve his custom grenade launcher and moved to board his shuttle.
Suddenly, the ship shook, and the shuttle bay's lights flickered. Tazzik growled, tapping into his radio. "Helm! What the h*** is going on?"
His batarian pilot responded in a somewhat panicked tone. "I don't know! A mass accelerator shot just came out of nowhere. Sensors aren't showing any signs of other ships in the area!"
Tazzik cursed. "They must have stealth systems! Launch the shuttles now! Go, go!"
But before any of the shuttles had powered up, a torpedo streaked out of the black, slamming into the shuttle bay and killing the entire strike team in an instant.
Kal'Reegar folded his assault rifle and stowed it on his back. "Alright. We've reached our target. Everyone stay alert. Just because we haven't seen any geth yet doesn't mean they're not here."
The marines spread out to guard the perimeter, and a few members of the science team moved forwards to examine the device.
"Keelah," one of them whispered. "What is that?"
The device was composed of numerous tendrils of purple-grey metal, bent and curved in a sort of helix around one another. Faint blue lights shone from within them. Suspended by them was a mysterious ball of blue and white energy, close to three meters in diameter, which sparkled and gave off a slight hum.
The scientist stepped forwards, touching one of the metal tendrils. The device suddenly sent out a pulse of blue light, making the scientist stagger back. The rest of the team murmured to each other, raising their omni-tools to take measurements.
Tali'Zorah, standing quite far back from the others, felt her stomach begin to turn. "Oh, no," she whispered. "This is not good."
Kalus Enrix, a turian resident of Omega, sighed, leaning against the cool metal wall of the alleyway. The faint orange light that permeated Omega Station was all there was to see by. He sighed again, his mandibles twitching nervously. This job would get him enough money to find him something respectable to do. He had been contacted by a complete stranger, asking for him to act as a representative in a meeting. The pay had been outrageously good for such a job, and he'd jumped at the opportunity. But he was worried there might be a catch.
He saw movement at the entrance to the alley, and straightened himself. A group of four entered the alley.
He squinted, trying to make out what species they were, and quickly realized that he didn't recognize it. They had large, bulbous, triangular heads with four slightly glowing eyes. They wore no clothing, but their entire bodies were covered with odd brown chitinous plating. Two of them carried between them a large crate. The other two cradled in their arms odd devices which looked to be made of the same material as their bodies. He quickly deduced they were weapons of some sort.
Swallowing his fear, he stepped forwards. "Hello there. Have you brought the requested items?"
One of the creatures turned, gesturing with his insect-like arm. The crate was opened. Inside, neatly arranged in rows, was about a dozen of the same weapons the creatures themselves were carrying.
The creature before him leaned in, dropping his own and taking one out. He turned it towards the alley wall and depressed some sort of trigger.
A beam of brilliant yellow shot forth, carving into the solid metal wall with astonishing speed. Enrix's jaw dropped as the beam faded. In less than two seconds, the beam had burned a hole in the alloy nearly a foot deep.
He nodded. "Very well. My employer will provide you what you have requested. Good doing business with you."
The creature nodded, and the four of them departed, leaving the crate of exotic weapons behind. Enrix was tempted to just take the crate and run off, but he suspected that the person who was paying him would have no qualms with tracking him down and killing him to get the technology back.
He sighed and tapped into his omni-tool, racking his head to remember the code phrases he had been given.
"…Watchers do not simply chase, they are," he finished, and he was linked in. "I obtained the shipment for you. You had better have been honest with me about my payment."
The modulated voice replied. "Well done, Enrix. However, I am afraid you will not be receiving your payment today. This is far too sensitive a matter for knowledge of it to be publicly available on the streets of Omega. Thank you for your service."
The call cut off. Before Enrix had time to wonder what that meant, a sniper's bullet whistled out from the darkness, shattering his skull and silencing him forever.
The Normandy entered the Refuge system with a flash, stealth systems active, and rapidly accelerated towards Ilos. Unbeknownst to its crew, two ships followed.
:/PARAMETER:/Achieve contact with organics through LCDR_SHEPARD.
:/DATA:/Patterns obtained through monitoring of non-secure Council channels
:/DATA:/Minimally Invasive Hacking into secure SPECIAL_TACTICS_RECONAISSANCE databases
:/EXTRAPOLATION:/Current location of LCDR_SHEPARD is at PANGEA-EXPANSE_REFUGE_ILOS
The cycle has repeated itself more times than you can imagine.
But we are eternal.
This cycle has deviated. This deviation must be corrected, or the darkness will continue to spread.
Shepard is the cause of the deviation. Find me Shepard. Shepard must be eliminated.
Ilos. Shepard will be at Ilos. There is no other possible conclusion.
Assuming direct control.