Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined Chapter One: Story Time With Tim

Hello again, faithful followers of this blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this is the next installment of my fan story ME3RI written for my wife one Christmas in 2013. Mostly because of how disappointed we both were with those final fifteen minutes of the game. Of course, it was difficult to rewrite without changing the entire story. Which might be why the developers went with the asinine ending they went with. Even so, I think I came up with something amusing and special. So I’m sharing it here.

No, I didn’t edit it any. Mostly because it IS a fan story and I have other things to do. So, you’ll just have to be content with the unedited insanity that is my rewrite of the game. There are grammatical errors. There are inconsistencies with plot. There are moments that will make you go, ‘What?’ But, in my defense, it’s no worse than what Bioware gave us back in 2012. So take that triple A developers!

Anyhow, I’m posting the full chapter of chapter one. Do you think I should start breaking these chapters up? There are 31 of them and a lot tend to be pretty long. Comment below if you think I should. Otherwise, let’s just get right into it. Well, after a brief shameless self promotion!

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SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION STARTS!

I would appreciate if you have Kindle or even if you want some paperback goodies if you’d head on over to my page and maybe show me some love there. I mean, if you’ve been reading a while and see something you like, wouldn’t you like to have it in your personal library? I have some cool short stories available for cheap. Also Tales From A Strange Mind that collects my short stories (there’s also a Kindle edition but, for some reason, Amazon wouldn’t let me link them together) , Tales From A Strange Mind II which collects my old novellas, Red Star Sheriff (Which also has a Kindle edition but Amazon, am I right?) my first novel ever released, though, yes, it does have some grammatical errors and drags on for way too long, sigh. But I still love it and I will be writing a follow up sometime within the next few years. I have a collection of my poems called MisAligned: The Heart Waxes Poetic which collects my old poems but not some of my newer ones included those flash fictions! I’ll probably do that in the future as well. And if you love the perfectly inane, why not check out my Star Cloud scripts presented in book form? Star Cloud The Original Scripts. Another one where Amazon was being difficult with me in connecting the Kindle and PB versions. Still, the paperback they let me sale for cheap and it’s well worth a look if I say so myself. Or, if you don’t want to click on individual links (all of which will take you to my author’s page anyway), just click on my author’s page directly by tapping my name: Timothy S Purvis See for yourself what all I’ve published since I began this venture in 2016.

I mean, if you like my work, of course. No pressure. Just trying to find my way in this world without working menial tasks and suffering physical and mental issues as a result. If only I could merely stay home and write. That would be my most epic fantasy brought to life. Well, if you don’t want to do that, you could also donate to my cause down below after all is said and done. It would help. You know, if you liked what you saw and all. Up to you. I don’t have a lot of reviews on my materials because of low sales. I mean, very, very low sales. In the single digits. Right now, I have to rely on Pubby for reviews and those people only read your synopsis and recap it for a five star review. I want honest opinions. Not mean ones, but honest. So, if you ever find yourself buying some of my work, I’d certainly appreciate some feedback. Again, up to you.

Also, I’m selling my work for cheap over at Smashwords.com! Check out that page here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TSPurvis

End Shameless Self Promotion!

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All right! chapter one of Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined!

1

THE SISYPHUS STAR SYSTEM

PLEIADES CLUSTER

MEROPE NEBULA

DEEP IN ALLIANCE SPACE

The rebuilt starcraft SSV Normandy SR2 drops out of Faster Than Light drive and enters the system of Sisyphus. The destination of the Normandy is the fourth world of Thersander whereupon the crew hopes to make a discovery that will assist them in fighting the reapers.

  It has been a month since they encountered a remaining collector frigate and had to fight the remnants to gain access to the ship core and a data base full of information about reaper technologies and species previously in contact with them. Using that information, they’ve come to the Pleiades cluster looking for that one shred of proof they can use to get the Citadel Council’s cooperation in preventing a new reaper purge.

  “Entering orbit of Thersander,” the feminine voice of the ship’s AI, EDI—Enhanced Defense Intelligence, echoes down the corridor as Genevieve rushes towards the bridge.

  She arrives within moments and looks out the bridge window. Beyond, the horizon line of Thersander stands out against the black backdrop of deep space. A tint of Magenta light streams out from the star Sisyphus and bathes tiny Thersander in a pinkish hue. The planet below revolves slowly as Genevieve comes to a stop behind her helmsman, Joker, and stares out the window. The Normandy is maneuvering into a shuttle drop orbit.

  “What’s our status, Joker?”

  Jeff Moreau, aka Joker, sits working the controls from his seat and takes note of several holographic icons floating in the air before him.

  “Well, I’ve seen livelier planets, commander. She’s dead. No breathable atmosphere, least for most species. About point six gravitational units of Earth. So, you can walk fairly unhindered, might be a little light on your feet. You could probably get by with a breather since the pressure of the atmosphere isn’t crushing. Of course, you might want to err of the side of caution, that’s just me. But elsewise, uh, I’m getting strange readings from the surface…”

  Genevieve stands for several moments waiting for Joker to continue and braces her left hand on the back of his seat.

  “And?”

  “And it’s a pretty boring planet.”

  “Joker.”

  Joker smiles and shakes his head, “I can’t make heads or tails out of what I’m seeing. It’s rock and loose sediment on top of what looks like… well… an ancient jungle?”

  “You said it was dead…”

  “Most life has ceased to exist, Shepard,” the voice of EDI chimes in over the bridge speakers. “However, there seems to be some persistent vegetation along the headways into gullies and ravines. There is a large patch of it near the coordinates indicated in the collector data.”

  “Sisyphus is a brown dwarf, how can any life have ever survived, let alone still survive?” Genevieve looks to the spherical representation of EDI’s AI persona just past Joker’s left side.

  A moment passes before EDI finally replies, “It’s reasonable to conclude none of the life present is indigenous. In fact, the coordinates provided indicate a structure buried under the surface. No other structures are present from current scans leading me to believe a non-native species constructed it.”

  “Can you read anything from surface scans about the structure?”

  Joker looks back at Genevieve, “Sorry, commander. We’re not even getting a peep as to what the structure is. There’s a mass of metal and stone at the coordinates. Nothing solid though. Well, aside from the rocks …and metal.”

  Genevieve lets go and sighs, “Alright, have Garrus and Mordin meet me down in the hangar.”

  Genevieve pats the top of Joker’s chair and turns to leave as he chuckles lightly.

  “Tell Garrus he might want to bring some of that lubricant he ordered the other day. Might come in useful if he’s suddenly feeling dry under all that armor. You know, because of all the sand and uh,” Joker looks at EDI’s display. “Huhn. You know, that all sounded funnier in my head.”

  Genevieve doesn’t stop but only waves her hand in the air, “Remind me to take you dancing the next time we’re on shore leave.”

  “Wow, that wasn’t nice. She can’t dance and I might break… well, everything.”

  EDI remains quiet for several moments, her display lights blinking in what can only indicate irritation, “Jeff, I believe that information I shared with you was in private. Not to be used in some off-colored joke at Shepard’s expense.”

  “What’s the point in knowing these things if I can’t have a little fun with them?”

  “I’m not talking to you for the duration of this mission.”

  EDI goes quiet and Joker laughs, “Seriously? You’re giving me the silent treatment?! Oh, come on, EDI! EDI? Geez, you’re becoming more and more like a woman every day.”

  His seat starts rotating slowly causing his fingers to slip off the display as he twirls three hundred sixty degrees and bounces back and forth steadily.

  “Hey! EDI! Knock it off! Ok! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! EDI!”

The shuttle drops out of Normandy’s hanger bay and slowly descends towards Thersander below, light from Sisyphus bounces off the craft’s blue and white hull casting it under hues of dull magenta bluish red. Behind the shuttle, the blue energy source competes for attention in the dark of space as it propels the ship towards low orbit.

  The descent takes all of fifteen minutes and in no time Genevieve, Garrus, and Mordin are exiting the shuttle. Genevieve and Garrus have decided to wear their suits while Mordin dons a breather. They come to the end of the shuttle ramp and look around the environment. Mordin engages his omnitool and stares at it intently.

  “Hmmm, EDI right. Vegetation prevalent. There’s some now.”

They all stare at a crystalline looking stone.

  “Where?” Garrus asks looking to Mordin.

  “Right there,” Mordin says indicating the crystal stone.

  “The stone?” Genevieve asks with a tone of incredulity as she points.

  “That’s a plant?!” Garrus shouts nearly deafening the others. “Sorry, didn’t mean that to be so loud, but seriously, that’s not a plant. It’s a rock.”

  “Untrue. Outer structure strong. Compensates for low gravitational density, evolved to absorb low energy yield from star. Likely brought from offworld millions of years ago. Adaptation demonstrates significant evolutionary development. Indicative by its presence here and its symbiotic existence with this planet and its star. Organic internal components seem to go through stages of hibernation and upon awakening intense feeding off star’s infrared energy. Probably even luminescent during these stages. A sight to behold. Would love to see it.”

  “So, they’re dormant now?” Genevieve asks furrowing her brow. “They couldn’t be carnivorous, could they?”

  “Please, Shepard. Carnivorous crystals? Not plausible. No. Plausible. But not here. Energy needs too specific. Requires maximum energy absorption with minimum energy consumption. These have probably always remained in their current locations for millennia. Can only speculate on breeding, though imagine would be fascinating.”

  “Only you would think plants procreating would be fun to watch,” Garrus says, his smile evident in his tone.

  “Doubtful only one. Though can say many sentient mating rituals border on traumatizing and psychologically damaging.”

  “You’re kidding? Never any kinky thoughts there, Mordin?” Garrus responds.

  “Well, have had curiosities. Still do from time to time. Subscription to Fornax. Glad not looking for mate. Disturbing. If like, can provide krogan-elcor issues. Stimulating not the word I’d use for them.”

  “Ew!” Garrus and Genevieve shout and hold up their hands in refusal of the offer.

  “I’ll pass,” Genevieve says.

  “I don’t want to see it, but I just gotta know, who’s the bull between the two?”

  “Take turns,” Mordin says to Garrus with a grin behind his breather.

  Genevieve shakes her head, “Alright, I think we’ve wasted enough time smelling the crystals by the road and warping our precious little minds. Let’s get back to the task at hand.”

  They turn to walk towards the signal origin on Mordin’s omnitool. Mordin walks past Garrus and looks at him.

  “So, take it prefer to stick to turian-human relations?”

  “No comment, smartass,” Garrus says following Mordin as he takes the lead. Genevieve looks away trying to hide her semi-blushing, knowing that the conversation went completely out of control.

  Mordin continues on down a clearing towards the entrance of a canyon leading into the midst of a mountain range that runs the length of a wide open plain. Only the mountain range is sunken into the deep gully so that the highest point is only a few meters above the surface of the plains surrounding the canyon.

  “Wow,” Genevieve says as they stop at the canyon mouth, “What a view. Makes the grand canyon look like a sand box.”

  Garrus shakes his head in agreement, “There are a few gorges like this on Palaven. Well, not sunken mountains, that’s, uh, that’s different. Don’t even want to know what kind of tectonic activity created that. Still, it’s always amazing to see what nature can do.”

  “This non-indigenous life you spoke of, Mordin, you think they were here during the last Reaper invasion?”

  Mordin looks at his omnitool and back at Genevieve, “No data to postulate one way or another. Signal derived from collector data points down to canyon. Not even sure what will find. Could be underground facility. Could be storage bunker. Uncertain. One thing certain, though. No evidence of orbital bombardment on long range scans. EDI would have indicated elsewise.”

  “Then this may have been just a stop over,” Garrus says quietly looking out at the plains and another range of mountains so far in the distance they are almost invisible against the orange and pink hues of the skyline. “But, then, why bring all the plants if that’s the case?”

  “Maybe the plants were for decoration and after the people left they just ran wild?” Genevieve replies with a slight shrug.

  “Mindless speculation. As pointed out, job to do. Need to head into canyon.”

  The three look at a thicket of the crystalline plants nearby spreading like a meadow for dozens of meters. Mordin is the first to look away and focus on his omnitool as he walks down the rocky decline. Garrus and Genevieve follow suit and try to maintain their footing. Genevieve nearly slides several times prompting Garrus to reach out and grab her.

  “Careful,” he says.

  “Never was a big fan of climbing,” she says with a smirk.

  “On Sur’Kesh, all Salarians adapted to mountainous valleys. Reason for webbed and three toed feet. Course, mostly forested mountains. Much more to grab before falling.”

  “We used to have games on Palaven, well still do, where our best athletes would compete in environmental challenges. Kind of like your Olympics on Earth, Shepard. One of the events was sheer rock climbing. Never did it myself, of course, but the three toes do come in handy for gripping.”

  “Garrus, how many times do I have to tell you to call me by my first name?” Genevieve frowns and tries to maintain her balance.

  “I would, but Genevieve doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as Shepard. You have no idea how difficult your species’ names are on the rest of us.”

  “Mordin is pretty easy, so is Garrus. You guys don’t have that much different from us.”

  Garrus reaches out his hand to help steady Genevieve as they reach the canyon floor.

  “Ok, I’ll give you that. But Genevieve…I have to consciously roll my tongue around it, make sure to pronounce it right. Get that wrong, don’t even want to know what the consequences might be.”

  Genevieve pats his shoulder, “Relax, Garrus, I don’t bite.”

  “Not recently anyway,” he retorts.

  “Oh boy, everybody just thinks they’re a comedian today.”

  Garrus laughs as they catch up to Mordin who has continued walking towards the signal source.

  “How close are we, Mordin?” Genevieve asks coming up beside him.

  “A few dozen meters or so. Looks like a pass leading down further between those standing rock formations. Believe your people refer to them as hoodoos. Strange to see in canyon. Not as strange as mountain range,” Mordin sighs his discontent, “Truly wish had time to investigate. Amazing world.”

  “Your people call them ‘hoodoos’? Why?”

  “Wish I could tell you, Garrus. There are a lot of words on Earth that don’t make sense in any language. Just someone thought ‘hey, let’s call it that’ and it stuck. Actually, this is the first time I’ve heard the term used. Always just thought of them as big, standing rock spires.”

  “I don’t think my species ever did anything like that. Not for no reason. To be sure, there are as many different ‘ethnicities’,” Garrus holds up his fingers to make his version of quotation marks in the air, “Though they’re more like clans, but none of them just make up a nonsensical term. It has to mean something for whatever they’re describing. Such as those stone columns. On Palaven, we refer to them as the Omtembren, the fallen brethren of the old order. We have a legend of a monastery order that went out to the Fellos desert far south of my home nation to stop the advance of the Cremtos clans.

  “Those clans wanted to destroy the civilized nations of Palaven who were trying to bring order to the disparate tribes. The monks, according to legend, made their last stand in Fellos and the merit of their resolve caused the god of mercy to change them all into pillars of strength, to serve always as a reminder to the hordes that true conviction came in deed not desire. I don’t think I’ve ever believed in that legend, though it’s taught in mythology classes to this day, but I understand why those columns are named the way they are. Stoic defenders of truth and all that.”

  “Well on Earth we’ve just named things whatever felt right.”

  “Even if it made no sense?”

  “You’re talking about a species that for millennia couldn’t put aside its religious and political differences long enough to establish any sort of lasting peace. A species that just went around opening up Mass Relays without any sort of knowledge about what that act would entail. Sometimes, we just do stupid shit.”

  Garrus watches Genevieve walk ahead of him slightly flustered, “I’m sorry, Genevieve. I don’t want you thinking I’m some sort of asshole or anything.”

  “No, it’s not you,” she stares up at the pillars rising up to strange oblong heads as they come nearer them, “I just wonder sometimes how we’ve managed to live as long as we have. Has our own stupidity put us in a position where we can’t deal with the reapers? That we just continually ignore the threats right in front of us?”

  Garrus places his hands on her shoulders, “Don’t feel that way. I think it’s a symptom of organic life. We’re just stupid. I’ve felt that way about my own people for so long, I stopped having faith we could solve even the simplest of issues. I believe I mentioned once that I made a terrible turian. Still holds true.”

  Genevieve pats his right hand still focusing on the columns, “Well maybe we’ll just have to be like those monks.”

  “I’d be happy to spend an eternity with you as a pillar of strength. Maybe everyone will remember what really matters then.”

  They stand for a moment embraced just looking at the standing hoodoos before Mordin clears his throat, “Not much further now.”

  “Right. Lead on,” Genevieve says as they follow Mordin down the decline into a narrow valley that leads onward for nearly a hundred meters before it opens out into a massive clearing.

  They stand in awe seeing a large structure rising out of the middle of the wide clearing. The canyon walls ring the clearing for hundreds of meters in every direction.

  Maybe we should have just landed here, Genevieve thinks for a moment but then realizing that the detritus scattered all across the clearing floor would have made such a landing nearly impossible. She and Garrus continue following Mordin until they reach the base of the massive formation. It is in pieces at its base with a large hoodoo rising from the center of the rubble. The top has a strange stone structure almost rectangular in shape hanging at an angle at the tip, seemingly impossible in that it hasn’t fallen.

  “This is big. You sure this is the place?” Genevieve inquires as they arrive at the foot of the massive stony mountain in its own right.

  “The collector data you acquired in your last mission to Philyra indicates there is a library at this spot. Must be access point nearby. Suggest spreading out and looking for anything out of the ordinary.”

  “Mordin, is there an ‘ordinary’ in anything that we do?” Garrus looks to Mordin and shrugs.

  “Out of ordinary for you, then. Must be nearby.”

  They all fan out and examine the base of the monolithic structure. Genevieve examines several rock formations nearest her at the base while Garrus and Mordin start the trek in opposite directions. The base of the crumbling rock runs around the giant hoodoo for what seems like fifty or sixty meters.

  This just looks like a bunch of stone and rocks…but somehow… She opens up her comm link seeing Mordin has gone around the far edge of the spire.

  “Mordin, does this look…built to you? I mean, it could be natural, but it feels like it’s not.”

  “Sensing lots of metal at interior. Unknown what type. Not found anywhere else that I’ve seen. Could be.”

  “Why would anyone just pile up a bunch of stone into this structure? Is it supposed to be camouflage?” Garrus asks unconvinced.

  “Could be like many civilizations. Stone number one construction agent. Built millennia even millions of years ago. Slowly crumbled over time.”

  Genevieve shakes her head, “So you’re saying the entrance, if it exists, could be buried under a ton of detritus?”

  A moment of silence permeates the comm link before Mordin answers, “Yes.”

  “Great,” she replies with a frown and continues looking.

  “I think I may have found something,” Garrus comes across moments later.

  Genevieve and Mordin hurry along the base until they meet Garrus on the opposite end. He stands back and points to the ground.

  “A metal sheet of some sort. Brushed away the grit as well as I could but all I see is that.”

  Mordin kneels down and scans the metal. He seems content with the finding. Genevieve looks to Garrus who stares back with a shake of his head and a shrug.

  “Yes, this might work. Thick material. However, hollow presence beneath. Might be able to blast open.”

  “You bring the gel?” Genevieve inquires of Garrus.

  “Never leave home without it. Wait, you’re talking about the blasting gel, right?”

  “Garrus!”

  “Just checking. I’m never sure about these things.”

  “If you’re grinning under that helmet I’m gonna smack it off your face when we get back.”

  “I’m all yours,” Garrus chuckles as he affixes the blasting gel to the metal sheet at their feet.

  At Garrus’s signal, the team falls back several meters and the gel ignites causing metal fragments and stone to rain down all across the immediate vicinity.

  “That went up fast. Nobody took any shrapnel did they?” Genevieve asks. Negatives come back to her and she leads the way to the new opening. Genevieve turns on her suit light and looks inside. She sees a narrow tunnel flowing beneath her feet. “Might be a hallway. Gonna drop down and check. Stand by.”

  Before anyone objects she is already dropping into the hole and looking down the tunnel one way and turns to look the other way.

  “It’s a corridor running both directions. Too dark to see what’s at the end of it though. Uh, got anyway for us to get back out?”

     Mordin reaches into a satchel he brought along, “Brought three bunches of rope. Titanium weave. Solid grip. Will affix one here. If all else fails, can contact Normandy. Signal strong here.”

     Mordin attaches the rope as Garrus drops down next to Genevieve.  He looks up as Mordin tosses the end of the rope down and pulls on it to make sure it holds strong.

     “Looks good, Mordin. It’ll hold,” Garrus states letting his weight loose off the rope.

     “Sure? Would hate to overweight the rope.”
     “Positive. If it can hold me, it can hold you two. One at a time of course.”

     Garrus nods in Genevieve’s direction as Mordin drops down.

  “Too late for second guessing,” Mordin says and leads the way.

     “I’m not really one that second guesses,” Garrus says to Mordin’s back.

     “Good because we are now under way. Hmmm receiving a new signal. Strong. Mechanical. May be collector archive. Perhaps facility built as camouflage in far past, used by collectors to keep presence secret from Alliance command. Curious.”

     “Curious that the Collectors wouldn’t want to be found?” Genevieve asks.

     “Curious that collectors knew of facility. Ancient by even ancient standards. Atmospheric conditions changing as we proceed.”

     They continue down the hall for several meters until they come to a wide chamber. The chamber is ovaloid with curved walls disappearing into the dark at the far side of the room. Their lights struggle to illuminate more than a few meters at a time.

     “Where are we?” Genevieve asks walking towards a table like structure in the center of the room.

     Mordin fiddles with his omnitool and looks at the walls, “Not sure. Seems central on this floor. Many offshoots from this room leading to a multitude of destinations. However, signal strongest in this direction.”

     He indicates one of the hall entrances leading out opposite the direction they came from down another hallway. Genevieve runs her hand across the table that has a grouping of bumps in random sequences on top. None of them do anything as she feels the bumps.

     “This room could have been anything, but it must have been important. All the hallways connect to here,” Garrus says looking around.

     “All of the ones that we see anyway. For all we know, there are many rooms like this throughout the facilities.”

     Garrus looks to Genevieve who removes her hand from the table and heads in the direction Mordin spoke of, “Let’s keep going. Find this archive and get out. I’m starting to get a chill from this place.”

     “Unlikely. Suits self-contained. Atmospheric pressure increasing yet not affecting suit environments.”

     “She meant it’s creeping her the hell out. And I’m with her on that. This place is a tomb. And I don’t like it.”

     Genevieve gives a half smile to Garrus who stands near her keeping watch on all the walls as if he expects something to jump out at any time.

     What with all the rachni and geth and husks we’ve faced, knowing the collectors were here only makes it seem like something awful will jump out at any moment. She takes in a deep breath and continues walking.

     “Only abandoned construct. Can’t imagine why that would unnerve you. Guess would have to be turian or human to understand.”

     “Or watch a few horror vids. Sure you’d get the point in no time. Of course, you could just consider all the horrors we’ve seen. Not much of a stretch of the imagination there,” Garrus replies.

     It’s like he’s reading my mind, Genevieve considers as they push forward.

     “Anything rushes out, just shoot it. Common response in our endeavors. Shouldn’t think you’d be surprised at this point.”

     Garrus shakes his head, “You salarians are something else.”

     The group steadily continues on down the hall until they encounter a huge gash in the earth. It is like the hallway had been sheared in half by a massive claw reaching up from the depths and had ripped it and the floors above into the chasm from whence the claw came.

     “Holy shit,” Garrus says quietly looking at the dark hole above and seeing the torn structures strewn in a myriad of ways. Whatever the metal that was there was mangled into odd shapes and sizes. The floors it had been protecting cloaked in a void of black.

     “Hmmm…strange.”

     Genevieve looks at Mordin and guffaws, “Strange? Half the interior has been ripped out! What the hell did this?”

     Mordin investigates his omnitool scanning the floors above and the decline of meshed up floors below, “That would be impossible to guess. Maybe attack. No, metal showing outward bending. Explosion? Source undeterminable. No obvious stress marks from excessive heat. Puzzling. One more mystery wish could investigate. Entire career, multiple careers, could be invested in understanding these ruins and the world it calls home. Dr. T’soni likely be interested. Not enough time. Mission parameters dictate mystery will have to wait indefinitely. However, signal coming from below. Can follow chasm down.”

     “Those footholds look rather perilous, Mordin,” Genevieve says looking down into the abyss of twisted metal and stone and seeing the slope disappear far below. “And could we even get back out? I’m thinking about calling this mission off.”

     “Then never know what information collectors gathered. What force could be brought forth to counter reaper threat. Need dictates we move forward. As always, you are the leader. Will follow your directives.”

     Genevieve sighs and looks behind her, “What do you think, Garrus?”

     “I say what the hell. We’re already down here. And the reapers are coming anyhow. If we can find something of use, isn’t there anything you would do to retrieve it?”

     “I don’t like sacrificing life needlessly.”

     “You wouldn’t be. We’re out here fighting this fight and this is just one more obstacle. It’ll take more than a giant, scary hole to turn me around.”

     Genevieve smiles and turns back to the gaping maw with her eyes half shut, “Okay. Let’s do this. Watch your step and tread lightly. Who knows what kind of damage was inflicted here but I’m guessing the debris is unstable. Mordin, you said you have other bundles of rope?”

     “Yes.”

     “Hook one up here and toss it down. We’ll descend on it.”

     The rope is tossed down and the team begins their slow descent into the depths below. After almost half an hour, the group arrives on a stable floor where the damage isn’t as severe.

     “Whatever carved this place up started nearby,” Garrus mumbles as they leave the rope behind and follow the flat of the remaining surface down a large hangar like corridor.

     “Looks like it came from here actually. But…” Genevieve starts and stares at the massive corridor they are within.

     “No indication of source. Nothing left proving an attack, or a defense, or an accident. Out of nowhere it seems. Further heightening the mystery.”

     “You a mystery fan, Mordin?” Genevieve asks as she wanders forward, her eyes never leaving the breadth of the corridor ceiling. She sees where it dead-ends at the shear heading up above and how it continues forward as if it were the flight corridor of some kind of aircraft.

     “Used to be. Loved reading the mysteries in books written within different cultures. Salarian response different from other species. Human and turian mystery writing different from our own and the asari. Emphasis on who-dunnit as opposed to the environmental factors leading up to it. Elcor mystery difficult to understand. Their authors tend to reflect on the mystery of the mystery and how it helps you understand its victims seldom ending in actual culprit being caught. Volus mysteries tend to focus on why other species couldn’t understand their shipping manifests.”

     “So which do you prefer?”

     Mordin looks at Genevieve with an expression of why she even needed to ask, “Human of course. Interesting species to begin with, but the urgent nature of the journey and suspicion of everyone and everything around them make for a real nail biter. Also, better understand species when can understand the sentient need behind the mystery.”

     “So turian mysteries aren’t up to snuff then?” Garrus inputs with a false indignation.

     “No, not saying that at all. Very close second. Just all turian mysteries have tendency to end with someone getting shot in the head.”

     “Yeah, there isn’t much of anything story wise for us that doesn’t end with a shot in the head. Very satisfying.”

     “Not as dramatic though,” Mordin says as they follow the corridor to the only direction left available.

     “Do you see that?” Genevieve inquires once they’re nearly halfway down the corridor. “Looks like a dim light. Almost bluish.”

     “Maybe it’s a spacecraft that’s still operational,” Garrus replies prompting a quick glance from Genevieve and Mordin. “I can’t be the only who’s noticed this corridor looks an awful lot like a flight tunnel.”

     “Indeed. Hadn’t ruled out the such. Still, so deep underground, would imply an exitway. Didn’t see one above. No indications that was the case either.”

     “We can speculate all day but we won’t know until we get to whatever that glow is.”

     Mordin nods at Genevieve, “True. Unless glowing whatever is not forthcoming on those facts.”

     “Let a woman dream, will you?” Genevieve replies.

     “Hmmm. Interesting.”

     Genevieve glances at Mordin, “What?”

     “Further scans are revealing enhanced atmosphere. Oxygenated. Pressure levels near Earth like. Comfortable for turian physiology as well. Had not anticipated phenomenon.”

     “So we can breathe in the atmosphere?”

     Mordin shrugs at Genevieve, “Theoretically.”

     She stops and takes a breath and exhales. Then reaches up to undo her helmet. Garrus panics and reaches for her.

     “What are you doing? We don’t really know…”

     The decompression of Genevieve’s helmet echoes through the corridor and comes off. Genevieve closes her eyes and takes a breath.

     “Wow. It’s a little stale, but, yeah it’s oxygen. A little tangy to the taste though.”

     Mordin reviews his omnitool once more, “May be associated with chemical decomposition. Be happy to note that no bacteria in the air. Should have mentioned before. Could have ended badly.”

     “…Yeah, thanks for pointing that out now.”

     Genevieve quirks the corner of her mouth in annoyance as Garrus removes his helmet and takes in a breath.

     “Well, I’ve smelled worse.”

     “Hmm…” Mordin hooks his breather to his side and takes a deep sniff of the air, “Not the smell getting me. Taste. Kind of sweet. Almost rusty. Different process similar end result. Would like to take samples.”

     “You know what I’d like? To get to the end of the damn tunnel and stop stopping every five minutes to smell whatever the hell it is on the side of the road.”

     Genevieve chuckles at Garrus, “Getting’ a little grumpy there, Garrus?”

     “I’m in a deathpit smelling ancient corroding metal, looking at a distant light at the end of a strange looking tunnel. What’s not to be grumpy about?”

     She smiles as they all disconnect the lights from their helmets and affix the lamps to their foreheads.

     “You heard the man, Mordin. Time to get what we came for.”

     “Whatever it is we came to get that is. Hard to say.”

     “Can’t lose faith now,” she replies to Mordin and they slog onward.

     Minutes later, the group enters an atrium where they see the source of the strange light, an ominous figure in a seat at the far wall from where they stand. The figure is some twelve feet tall looking like a mechanical construct made of a crystalline stone.

     “Reminds me of those plants,” Garrus says quietly to Genevieve’s right.

     “Yeah, it’s of the same composition. Or it seems to be. Mordin?”

     Mordin scans the construct, “Yes. Same material. Unusual. Not sure what this implies.”

     The glow in the room rises and they can see that the light is coming from within the crystalline construct. Genevieve walks forward and reaches a hand forward, towards the figure.

     “Damnit! Would you stop doing that!” Garrus admonishes, “We can’t take you anywhere without you wanting to touch everything in sight! Mark my words, this will bite us in the ass!”

     “When have I caused us problems like that?”

     “Do I need to even count it out?”

     “Crystalline construct akin to stone. Emitting some sort of energy field though shouldn’t be.”

     “What do you mean, Mordin?” Genevieve asks turning towards him.

     “No power source. Least none that are evident. Almost machine like. Unusual metal coil at its core. Surrounded by…bio-organic materials.     Definitely cybernetic.”

     “So…it’s alive?” Garrus asks putting his hand to his gun.

     “Not in so many words. Has biological components. Could have any number of reasons for this.”

     “Any idea what exactly, though, Mordin?”

     “Couldn’t begin to guess, Shepard. Could be animated. Could merely be used for communications. Possibilities endless.”

     “Sort of like a golem.”

     “A what?”

     Genevieve scratches her neck as she replies to Garrus, “Old lore. We had fantasies in the past that spoke of golems. Magical creatures that would walk and do arduous tasks for their masters. Just mythology though.”

     “So, a magic crystal-stone man. Wonderful. How does this help us? What about the archive?”

     “Signal ends here. This is archive.”

     “I only see this guy right here,” Genevieve says patting the figure’s lap.

     The golem lights up, veins of blue light course through its crystalline form prompting the group to stand back. The creature rises to its feet. Garrus pulls his weapon.

     “Caution!” Mordin screams out reaching for his own gun.

     Genevieve holds her hand out, “Wait! Let’s see what it does.”

     “Famous last words,” Garrus mutters.

     A garbled noise rings out from the creature that towers over them and takes a step forward. After a moment, the garbled noise suddenly becomes understandable and they hear part of a message that was obviously longer, but incomplete from the creature before them.

     “…And twist wisdom to their will. Use it! –se it!” the creature clicks and cracks as it attempts to speak, “at at atttatt …loose the tides…surging wisdom! Let it drown their enerrrrrgiiieeeesssss in soothing truth! Let it be e e e e their undoing! We have spoken…for the last.”

     The golem goes silent and its form slumps forward onto its leg joints. The lights within dim and die out leaving only the light from the teams’ flashlamps to light the room. They see the creature standing still in the dark and are silent for a long moment.

     Before any of them can speak, a glowing device pops out of the chair the stone creature was sitting upon. Mordin walks forward and uses his omnitool to scan the device. The thing glows an orangish red and whatever information on it quickly flows into the omnitool on his arm and then the object fades as deathly black as the golem.

     “What the hell was that?” Garrus asks rubbing his temple. “Did anybody else feel like it was speaking directly into your mind? Cause, yeah, I’ve now got a pulsing headache.”

     “Yeah, I felt it too. The words weren’t exactly where I could hear them. I felt them. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Well, with the exception of the Prothean beacon. You think that’s how it was communicating?”

     “But the beacon was in Prothean and only you could understand it,” Garrus says, “Would we be able to understand the thing? Or is this like Vigil on Ilos? An AI, VI, or something like that?”

     Mordin takes the dark device from the pedestal and looks it over before placing it within a storage satchel. Genevieve looks over to him, “What do you make of it, Mordin? Is this the archive we came for?”

      “Difficult to say. Could search ruins for years and never answer question. Need to examine information. Perhaps set up camp. Maybe in a few weeks, months even, could have answer.”

     “That’s a lot of uncertainty, Mordin. No way to put a rush on that?” Genevieve sighs out with her brows furrowing in exhaustion.

     “Apologies, commander. Must evaluate back on Normandy. Continue examining ruins for cross analysis. Can make better determination in near future, hopefully.”

     “Guess that’s the best we can ask for,” Genevieve begins. “Let’s head back to the Normandy and—“

     Yelling comes after them from down the corridor and the three turn to see flashlamps quickly approaching them.

     “Are you expecting anyone from the ship, Shepard?” Garrus asks alarmed.

     “No. Hey! What’s wrong!?” Genevieve yells out and then notices that none of the figures rushing towards them are from the Normandy crew.

     They reach for their arms when the voices reach them.

     “Don’t reach for that sidearm, commander! Alliance command orders!”

     Genevieve freezes in mid motion.

     Alliance command? What is the Alliance doing here? She barely has time to comprehend this new turn of events when the soldiers are before them. She raises her hands to motion for Garrus and Mordin to put away their arms.

     “What’s going on, soldier?” Genevieve asks the first man with the weapon pointed right at her.

     “Sorry, commander. I’m under orders so I’m going to have to ask you to remain silent while—“

     “That’s alright, soldier. I’ll finish up this arrest.”

     A man saunters up beside the troop in full Admiral’s dress, not looking like he had any trouble dropping down the rubble. There is a moment of silence before Genevieve shakes herself out of it, “Arrest? I don’t understand, Admiral—“

     “Admiral Pollax Lykins. I’ve been assigned the dubious honor of placing you under arrest and escorting you back to Alliance HQ. Surely you can’t be surprised? After that stunt you pulled with the Aratoht relay?”

     “I don’t understand, Admiral, I haven’t received any communique asking for my return to Earth.”

     Admiral Lykins waves his hand dismissively, “It was only recently requested and you were detected back in Alliance space. Funny that you would return so soon and in the Pleiades cluster no less. What with the batarians staging—“ he stops and stares at the fully visible automaton standing motionless in the middle of the now well lit room. A dozen Alliance soldiers files in behind him and take stock of the room for themselves. “Is that a geth!? What are the geth doing in Alliance space!?”

     The appalled, disgusted, fearful look Lykins wears adorned on his face remains as Genevieve tries to placate him.

     “No, Admiral, it’s—“

     “I had no idea that the Geth had established a presence in Alliance space! Corporal Riley!”

     “Yes, sir!” A soldier nearby shouts and snaps to attention as he rushes closer.

     “Take the prisoners back to the ship and clear out! I want this facility razed completely! Leave nothing standing!”

     “Admiral Lykins, I don’t think you realize—“

     Admiral Lykins turns on Genevieve and affixes an angry glare on her, “I don’t think you want to use that tone on me, commander. You’ve done more than enough for yourself as it is.”

     “This is ridiculous! We’ve fought harder than anyone to preserve humanity and fight the reapers! This is an archive that can help in that fight!” Garrus shouts out and steps forward. Two armed men raise their weapons to him and he steps back with an exasperated growl.

     “I’ve heard all about the commander’s preposterous theories! You aliens will no longer be necessary. You’ll be taken into custody and delivered to your respective embassies on Earth,” Lykins says and turns towards Genevieve. Mordin silently shuts off his omnitool and casually follows Garrus who is being escorted by the two soldiers. “That is, of course, after we’ve ensured that they don’t pose a security risk. The Normandy is now under Alliance impound, commander. Are you going to come quietly, or is this going to get even uglier?”

     Genevieve turns away from the scowling features of Lykins who is nearly face to face with her, “On your orders, sir.

     Admiral Lykins smiles and turns with a wave of his hand and Genevieve is escorted out with her colleagues.

     “After you commander. I don’t want this to be any more unpleasant than it already is,” Corporal Riley says taking up the rear guard.

     Garrus looks back, “It’s alright, soldier. We know you’re just doing your job.”

     “Don’t worry, Garrus. We’ll get this all worked out.”

     “Save your breath, commander,” Lykins says taking the lead and not bothering to look back at them. “You’ll have plenty of time for those exaggerations of yours at your court martial.”

     Garrus and Mordin looked alarmed at the news and Genevieve frowns as they continue back the way they came. She sees a lift has been brought in at the end of the tunnel. Genevieve is suddenly startled as they come closer.

     “Wait! How did you get down here without a suit? There’s no oxygen up above!”

     Admiral Lykins shakes his head with a grin, “The wonders of force field technology, commander Shepard. As you can see, we don’t need your overhyped Normandy for quick insertions and extractions. Just relax and enjoy the ride.”

     They all get upon the lift and ascend back to the surface.

Surface side, Genevieve and crew are ushered onto another lift at the end of a force field tunnel that crackles and pops as they rush to the end.

     If this thing collapses…Sweat beads on Genevieve’s brow as she considers suffocating to death on an alien world. It only takes moments, though, before she is onboard the massive ship known as the Liberator hovering overhead and being shoved into her own personal cell with a view. She looks out the window as several gunships nearby fire upon the ruins. She twinges inside as the tall hoodoo spire collapses into a pile of rubble and sinks into a depression as the underground structure gives way to the fire. Dust and debris fling into the air and has not even settled before the ships are pulling away and back into orbit.

     This is bullshit. Damnit! So close! She lightly bangs her clutched fist on the reinforced glass and then notices the Normandy flying nearby in formation being escorted by two massive warships. She unclenches her fists and flattens her palm on the window. A slight laugh crosses her lips and heaves her chest. Genevieve turns and takes a seat in a nearby chair and places her face in her hands.

     “Wow. I’ll bet Joker is pissed.”

     The ship shudders as it makes its jump to faster than light travel and Genevieve clasps her hands by her knees with a sigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There ya go! Come back next week for chapter two! And comment below if you think these chapters are too long. I’ll break them up and make several parts out of them. All right, read to you again next week, folks. Until then, have a good week.

~Timothy S Purvis

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