Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined Chapter Three: 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 Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined written for my wife Christmas 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, here is chapter three of ME3RI and I’m posting the full chapter because it really isn’t that long so no need to break it up. Some of the later chapters, however, tend to get a little lengthy. Anyhow, let’s get to it already! Well, after a brief bit of shameless self-promotion, of course.

(PS: Yes, I am copy pasting a lot of these lead ins. Pretty much because there are a lot of chapters to post and I’m doing this waaaayyy ahead of time when they will pop up through scheduling. If you’d like to skip ahead to where the chapter begins, by all means, knock yourself out. But, I would be happy if you checked out my 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 three of Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined!

3

SIX MONTHS LATER

CHARON MASS RELAY

PLUTO PLANETARY SYSTEM

A small space station orbits nearby Pluto not far from the Charon mass relay, which was once mistaken for a moon but later determined to be a massive construct encased in ice. After the relay had been turned on, human interaction with the rest of the galaxy soon took place.

     Beyond the Alliance space station, known as Charon Station Alpha, drifts the Charon relay slowly against the back drop of space, its inner rings pulsing brightly and spinning steadily causing a rippling of the blue energy illuminating the construct. Two of Pluto’s four moons are prominent against the black as well. Only Hydra and Nix are settled moons, with the presence of nearly a thousand Alliance personnel between them. Of those two, Nix is the only one in Charon station’s view. Hydra is on the dark side completing its transit along with the moon Cerberus. With Nix comes more slowly the moon Vulcan. A dim purplish red haze paints its atmosphere.

     Inside Charon station, Serviceman Monroe Collins takes in the scene and smiles. He stands at the window looking out towards the two moons and the relay between them and takes a sip of the coffee in the cup he is holding. The steam rising from the cup tints the window with an opaque residue and Collins wipes it away quickly so as to not let the view go spoiled. He holds his cup a little further to the side and leans his shoulder against the wall.

     “Hey, Collins,” a voice accompanies the clacking of heels as a man walks slowly down the hall. “Gonna call your brother today?”

     Collins sighs inwardly and looks to the man, a young enlisted man by the name of Robertson. The ensign was new to the station, having just graduated from the academy back on Earth. Collins felt Robertson has shown real promise in communications encryption, which is the field of experience he had apparently studied most for, but that his naivete made for too many uncomfortable run-ins. Like when trying to ask out Serviceman Mindy for a late night rendezvous on the far side of the base, where one can get the best view of sunrise lake on the near side of Hydra. Sunlight from Sol bounces off the lake and sparkles a warm, reddish hue.

     And here comes Robertson, right on cue. It’s like he has a radar built in that tells him when people are relaxin’ and not feelin’ like communicating with anyone. Bastard still owes me for blowin’ it with Mindy. It’s what Collins would like to tell him, but he merely forces a pleasant smile and holds his cup out before him in a gesture of greeting.

     “Probably in a few. Just tryin’ to take in the moons before doin’ it though. Coffee in the mess if you’re interested.”

     “Nah, I’m wired enough thanks,” Robertson says and comes to the glass beside Collins. The young man raises his hands and plants them against the reinforced window leaving greasy smears which causes Collins to stare at Robertson’s sweaty palms in growing annoyance. “Man, the moons are cool. Kinda boring out here though. Anyone ever throw any parties or anything?”

     “Once in a blue moon,” Collins remarks with a smirk.

     Robertson furrows his brows and puckers his lips like he’s deep in thought, “Do they really turn blue?”

     Collins closes his eyes and glares at him as if willing laser beams to shoot out and bore right into the kid’s head. Instead, Collins smiles with a chuckle and opens his eyelids back up,

     “No, man. That’s just an old joke. They don’t tell that one anymore?”

     “Never heard it. Not very funny though. But still, man, we need to throw a real blaster! Rock the station, y’know?”

     “That would be a violation of protocols.”

     Robertson stares at him for a moment and then his eyes beam brightly and he snaps his fingers at Collins with a  point and starts walking backwards towards the other end of the hall, “Hah! You got me! I’ll let you in on the details once I know more and have it worked out! It’ll be great! Meantime, got some comm buoys to check in on!”

     Robertson turns and almost skips towards his station down the hall in the next office over. Collins inhales slowly. And exhales slowly. And takes a sip of his coffee. He casts one last glance at the moons beyond and sees the orbit of the relay taking it out in front of Nix. Collins lets the view chase away his own irritation over Robertson and heads in to his own office in a room just across from the windows.

     Once inside, he dials in a code and sets down his coffee mug. The computer before him churns to life and displays several icons before flipping over to the communications network.

     Hope the Alliance doesn’t have you jumping over any new hoops right now, bro. Could really use a good talk.

     The network logs in and rolls over to the Alliance feed and he inputs his password.

#

ALLIANCE HQ

VANCOUVER CANADA

INTERIOR OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

It is early morning in Vancouver and the majority of Alliance personnel are taking over for the night shift. One such person newly arrived for the day is Major Derek Collins. He takes his time strolling down the hallway and hits the lounge on the way to the main communications offices. He grabs some coffee and sweetens it the way he likes it and is waylaid by the night secretary.

     “Major, reports from overnight. Still nothing from batarian space,” she starts as he takes the holopad from her and looks it over.

     Damn, I was hoping to at least wake up first. Always some shit going down somewhere. He frowns as he looks the report over and sips on his coffee. “That’s a little worrisome. It’s been three weeks since the last communique. Any new incursions?”

     “Uh, no sir. No reports of any activity at all. All comm chatter has gone completely silent. We’re not even picking up anything from Kar’shan. There was a strange report from the cruiser Acolyte, whose captain said they’d picked up a previously unidentified sentient species along shipping lanes. It was a first contact, but here is where it gets weird, the sentient wasn’t freaked out by the crew. They seemed terrified of something else. Our translator software couldn’t pick up much from them but they seemed in a huge hurry to get out of system fast.”

     “That’s strange. Any idea where they came from?”

     “No, sir. The crew wasn’t able to figure it out but they’re Earth bound now. Hopefully, the First Contact Division can figure out what’s going on and calm them down. We don’t normally meet new species like this.”

     “Like they were scared out of their den…”

     “Yeah.”

     “Thanks for the report. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep. I’ll get with command shortly and see if they have any updates. What time did you send this over?”

     “Original incident occurred oh three hundred and thirty two hours, sir.”

     “So, just over four hour transmission time, no further info from the Acolyte? Flight projections?”

     “I haven’t heard anything more from them, major. But I would imagine they’ve hit the mass relay by now and should be incoming any time.”

     “Great. You have a good day.”

     “You too, sir.”

     The night secretary makes her way down the hall towards the lift and Derek watches her leave. Normally, he would take pleasure in examining her derriere, however, today she seems lifeless and exhausted, as if the night had brought terror upon terror into her elsewise safe life. He looks back to the tablet with furrowed brows.

     And no wonder. Jesus, there were some seven hundred and twenty six emergency accounts. Seventeen of which were emergency transmissions from terminus colonies, twelve from frigates picking up civilians fleeing from unknown worlds, one hundred and fifteen reports of suspicious activity along the outer galactic rim, he shakes his head with an open mouth and looks to see the secretary, Melissa, entering the lift and reaching over to hit the level panel. Her purse keeps slipping off her shoulder and she appears just more than a little ragged. Sleep well, Lisa. If these reports are any indication, today and tonight are going to be chaotic.

     Derek shuts down the pad and continues down the hall. He soon encounters a Navy man who gives a brisk salute with a smug smile.

     “Major Collins. Good to see that jarheads can get up so early!”

     Derek shakes his head with a slight grin, “I’d stow that talk if I were you, swabby. No oceans around here, just lots of fist poundin’ earth.”

     The man is halfway past the major and laughs, “Speaking of pounding, gave your mother a good once over last night. Made her swoon in my throbbing waves!”

     “Shit, can’t be my mother, junior.”

     “And why’s that, major?”

     “You’re still standing. Keep telling you minnows to learn which way you’re shootin’ and at who. Need to find yourself on shore more often. Stop that rockin’ in your head.”

     The man laughs and continues on his way while Derek looks away and towards his office at the far end of the hallway he has turned down. He flops the holopad on his desk top and sits down in his swivel chair. His computer has already booted up as he entered the office and as he reaches towards the Alliance communications network he receives an incoming call. He flicks his head back ever so slightly in surprise and accepts the call. Within moments, the face of his brother coalesces to life.

     “Money, how is my little brother doing all the way out there on Pluto?”

     Money is the nickname Derek had come up with for Monroe when they were children. It stemmed from the fact that his younger brother was always so much better with financial matters than he was. Always the first to get that brand new something, be it a shuttle car, a new apartment home on the top floor of some fancy complex, or scoring the hottest woman in town. Money always had a way of flowing to Monroe.

     Now, though, Monroe looked a little worse for wear. He was nearly as tired as Melissa had looked and this worried him. Monroe is quiet for too long a moment, but Derek was always the patient one, always willing to wait for the word to come back from his family or friends. Never liked to push.

     “Derek, I gotta say, bro, this posting is killing me. Damn, the only reason I took it was because Paula took everything! I don’t feel very money anymore.”

     Derek pushes aside a small secondary pad he was fiddling with waiting for Monroe and gives his full attention over to his brother, “I know you didn’t call me up to bitch about your ex-wife. You know, I do have important shit to do. That shit might be bullshit, but someone still finds it important.”

     Monroe shakes his head and laughs, “Ah, Derek. Nah, not to bitch about Paula. I was just explaining that I don’t think I’m very money any more. Been trying to get with this hottie here, and we’ve got this annoying new guy who keeps cock-blocking me every time I think I can score a piece.”

     “So you want to bitch about the new guy?”

     Monroe stares at Derek for a long moment, “No. Actually…I just miss you guys. I want to come home. I can’t take it out here anymore. It’s like, like I’m losing my mind. I’m seeing things…in the shadows. I know they’re not there. But no matter how much I try to occupy myself with something else, just try to find peace in staring at these moons, at the relay, there is just this…thing in the back of my mind…I can’t quite describe it.”

     Derek folds his arms across his chest and watches Monroe intently for a moment trying to gauge what he’s saying, “Little bro, we miss you too. You’re just getting a little homesick. Maybe feeling overwhelmed by the assignment. I get that. I know exactly what that’s like. First real mission out to the traverse. Warship Akiko. So far from home and knowing only the people in your head. You start to see things. I remember, only lonely night aboard the ship, I was walking to the mess and wandered into a lounging deck that had this massive window that covered the whole area from wall to ceiling to the other wall until it connected with the deck. It was like being on a section of the ship that was completely exposed to space. I wasn’t even sure how they even built it, let alone reinforced it. Someone had once told me the captain of the ship had a fetish for large, open patio like windows and had managed to acquire an acquisition order to give him permission to order its building. Came right out of his pocket.

“Never figured out where he got the money, but I digress. That night, I was just exploring that deck and looking out towards deep, deep space. I mean it was black and only the billions of stars to give it any depth. There was the milky way horizon line against it all, and I gotta tell ya, I started seeing some wicked stuff. Could have swore I saw a battalion of turian cruisers coming right for us. But turned out to be rock dust. Scary shit. Got the hell off that deck and never went back. But you see, we all start panicking some time or another.”

“Yeah, but I’m not talking about that. I’ve been on dozens of tours. Been to the traverse seven times. Been stationed on Mars, Titan, a few times back on Earth. And I’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s like staring into the blackest void and seeing only the infinite expanse and feeling like something’s staring right back at ya. Like it’s trying to tell you something. You can feel the hairs on the back of your neck rising up in unison, can feel the tingling of an echo at the back of your mind. And all the while you sit there sweating like a mule and unable to focus on anything else.”

“Nerves. Because of the batarians. They’re still out

there-“

“What!?” Monroe yells to someone behind him. A tepid voice responds back. The voice sounds young and male and inexperience.

“…ou need to see this…”

“What do I need to see?” Monroe replies as he holds up a finger to indicate he’ll be right back to his brother.

Derek waits for a second as the voices fade back to what sounds like a hallway in the background.

“…like someone using the relay…there.”

“OH SHIT!!”

Derek leans forward and shouts, “Monroe! What’s wrong!”

A loud explosion rings out and the line goes dead. Derek sits for a long moment and pounds on the interface before him.

     “Monroe! Monroe! Goddamnit!”

     Derek sits back and taps his fingers on his desk top and within a quick moment leans back forward and brings up a private network line. A voice responds within seconds.

     “How can I help you, major?”

     “Jelis, check the comm links with Charon Station.”

     A moment of silence follows before Jelis replies, “Comm systems are operational. We’re not getting anything from Charon Station.”

     Derek leans back and frowns, “Patch me into Alliance Command.”

     “Yes, sir.”

     Several moments pass before another voice is answering Major Collins.

     “Alliance command. Major Collins, how can we help you?”

     “We’ve just lost all comms with Charon station. Requesting further instructions.”

#

VANCOUVER CANADA

APT COMPLEX EASTERN ZONE

A tall apartment complex rises up just outside the Alliance Headquarters in downtown Vancouver. The high rise harbors twenty seven floors and houses a majority of Naval families for the Alliance.

Genevieve Shepard is exiting the apartment complex through the front courtyard. She is dressed in a simple sweat suit and has just materialized her headphones, as she is preparing for a long jog, when she notices a woman with two young children trying to move some furniture from a truck. The young boy with her lifts his hands to try and grab on to the end of a couch as the woman takes the other end. The boy can’t be much older than ten which convinces Genevieve to hurry their way and turn off her holo music player. She grabs the end of the couch the boy is at and lifts it up.

“Hello there. You look like you could use some help.”

The woman grins in appreciation, “Oh thank you. We were having trouble with these last few pieces of furniture. We’re just moving in. So much work involved with it.”

“What happened to the movers? Weren’t they helping you?”

“They were, but got called away on something. One of them said the whole base is being called back to active duty.”

     Genevieve frowns as they maneuver towards the apartment entry, “Really? Hadn’t heard anything about that.”

     “You Alliance then?”

     “Yeah. Genevieve Shepard. Formerly a commander in the Alliance Navy. Sort of got a suspension. Oops.”

     The woman looks at her in surprise as they grunt and approach the lift, “Wait, Shepard? THE Shepard? The one who stopped Saren and warned the council about the reaper threat?”

     “You’re awfully knowledgeable, but yeah. One and the same.”

     They get the couch in the lift and set it on the floor and the woman turns to Genevieve to offer her hand, “Pleasure to meet you, commander. Amanda. Kinsly. These two are my son, Riley, and daughter, Sharin.”

     Genevieve takes her hand and shakes it gently and smiles, “It’s good to meet you and your family, Amanda. So, what floor are you headed to?”

     “Twelfth floor. Apartment oh nine.”

     “Small world. I’m just a few apartments down from you.”

     “You’re kidding?!”

     “Yup. Apartment fourteen.”

     “I may have to stop by and hit you up for sugar and all that jazz.”

     Genevieve laughs and leans against the couch as the lift starts to rise. Amanda joins her with a sigh.

     “So, what happened? Oh…I’m sorry. That is probably too private to go into.”

     “No, it’s fine. Let’s just say, I did something that had serious ramifications for humanity in the galaxy. Particularly along the batarian borders.”

     Amanda frowns and looks to the floor, “Oh my. Is that what’s going on? Are the batarians attacking our colonies and territories?”

     “I…I’m not sure. Could be. No one has been real talkative with me about it.”

     “My husband just got assigned to a frigate. He’s scheduled to head out in around a month along batarian space… I, uh, am not supposed to know that so please don’t tell the council.”

     “Mum’s the word,” Genevieve sees Amanda applying pressure to her lower lumbar and that her belly is bulging. “How far along are you?”

     “Seven months. It’s been a lot of pressure. What with my husband’s assignment and all. Don’t worry, I don’t blame you for any of that,” Amanda smiles. “It seems to me that the batarians have been looking for a fight for a while. Besides, my husband worships the ground you stand on. He is one of those major Shepard fans and has a ton of posters and memorabilia with your face plastered all across them.”

     Genevieve shakes her head, “Ugh. There’s really merchandise of me?”

     “You don’t get any residuals?”

     “Didn’t even know they existed. Been a little busy lately.”

     Amanda nods knowingly, “Right. With the geth, with Saren, with the collectors, with fighting the reapers.”

     “Nobody really believes that the reapers exist, so I wouldn’t go around talking about them to too many people if you want to avoid a whole lot of ire.”

     “Trust me, Genevieve, people believe in the reapers. It’s our government they have issues with. And more than a few are upset with how the Alliance is treating you. You’ve saved us time and again. The Alliance would be lost without your example and whatever this issue is with the batarians, I’m sure it was justified.”

     Genevieve frowns and pats her hand, “I hope you’re right. And I hope I haven’t made things worse for your husband.”

     “He’s a tough man and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Seems like we’re always at war with someone, though.”

     Amanda leans her lumbar tighter against the couch back as the lift steadily rises and lets out a sigh. Genevieve sits beside her as Amanda’s kids rest on the couch and argue among themselves.

     “It does seem that way sometimes. I wish that weren’t the case. What’s your husband’s name? Maybe I can put in the good word for him. Hell, we seem to be neighbors now. Least I can do.”

     “It’s good to have you for a neighbor. Hopefully we can get together sometime and just enjoy life.”

     “I’d like that. So, where are you moving from?”

     “Quebec. My husband, Daniel, completed his training there a few months back. He heard of batarian raids and had always wanted to serve the Alliance but we had Riley and then Sharin and life just kinda happened.”

     “And he just jumped into the fray? With a family and everything?”

     “It was the right thing to do,” Amanda says with a mournful smile. “Alliance is probably going to need every hand they can get if the batarians want to wage war with us.”

     “I’m sorry, Amanda. I’ll contact some people I know. Let them know Daniel is dependable and a hard worker. Maybe keep him out of direct line of fire.”

     Amanda looks to the floor as the lift comes to a stop, “I…I don’t think Daniel would want to be left out of the fight. Oh, but do I want him to come home safe.”

     “The Alliance is a good career. He’ll make us all proud. But he needs to also remember that a good soldier looks after his family too. What’s the point in fighting if we just forget about why we do what we do?”

     Genevieve turns as Amanda shoos her children off the couch and they both grab an end, “This is so true. But right now, we need to soldier this hulking beast along!”

     “Well then, lift with your knees, soldier. And don’t over strain yourself. That baby still has a few months to go.”

     “But of course, commander!”

     They laugh and pick up the couch. They get it to Amanda’s apartment and before they know it are at the front entrance to the apartment heading back towards the truck. As they approach and are busy talking about anything and everything, Genevieve notices a familiar face walking her way.

     Mitch Vickers comes to a stop before them and salutes Genevieve. She reciprocates as Amanda takes a step back and gives them space.

     “Shepard. Glad to see you’re keeping busy. I’ve come to inform you that the Alliance Council wishes to meet with you right away. You should change into fatigues and accompany asap.”

     “Damn, Vickers,” Genevieve crosses her arms and gives an eat shit grin. “I don’t see you in nearly a month, and when you finally pay me a visit you’re straight to business.”

     “Apologies, ma’am,” he smirks back. “Orders being what they are and all hasn’t exactly given me a lot of leeway for personal debriefings. Something’s happened, I think. They didn’t give me a lot of details. We should head back to your apartment and I’ll fill you in.”

     “Mrs. Kinsly here is in dire need of assistance moving in to her own apartment, lieutenant. Think you can spare some men to give her a hand? Or should we let a pregnant woman and her children do ALL the heavy lifting?”

     Vickers looks at Amanda and looks embarrassed, “Damn, isn’t someone helping her? I mean, besides you?”

     “All the staff got recalled,” Genevieve says and Amanda sighs in response.

     “Shit. Must be worse than I imagined…” Vickers mumbles and bites his lip as he looks away. After a moment, he engages his omnitool and speaks into the comm link. “Command, I need two able bodies to assist with a civilian move—“

     “Her husband is serving on a frigate heading to batarian space…”

     Vickers looks up at Genevieve and his pallor is almost ghostly, “All ships have been recalled.”

     Genevieve uncrosses her arms and takes on the same look. She looks to the ground as a voice comes back to Vickers, “…All personnel are being assigned to emergency stations—“

     “Damnit! I’ve got Shepard here and I need to get her to Command! There’s a pregnant woman here who has a husband on the front! There has to be two able bodies available! We don’t have time for this!”

     “…Copy that. Sending two maintenance workers. Get Shepard to the Council ASAP.”

     “Copy. Out. Okay. They’re on their way. We need to move.”

     Amanda steps forward looking alarmed, “Why is everyone being called back!? Are the batarians attacking!?”

     “Amanda,” Genevieve takes her by the shoulders. “You don’t need to worry about that right now. You need to take care of your children. Let me escort you to your apartment. Your furniture will be just behind you, okay?”

     Amanda starts looking visibly shaken as Riley and Sharin start giving slight sobs knowing something is happening they can’t control, “It’s okay, guys. Let’s get back to the apartment and let them do their jobs.”

     “I’ll protect you, mommy,” Sharin says and takes her mother’s hand.

     Nothing further is said as they all walk back to the lift and head to the twelfth floor.

#

Vickers paces Shepard’s apartment and feels out of place. He looks at a photo on a nightstand standing next to a chair in the central living room. He picks it up and examines it, trying to ignore the flurry of vehicles flying beyond outside heading back to Alliance Command. Only five minutes have passed since dropping off the woman and her kids but he’s feeling restless and annoyed.

     I’ve got no goddamn control here. What the fuck is happening? Damn, Shepard. I didn’t know you were into turians. She must like scars.

     “Did you say something?”

     The voice comes from the bedroom where it sounds like a lot of activity is taking place. Vickers puts the photo down and tries to smile to himself. But it doesn’t take the edge off.

     She must be a damned mind reader, “Not out loud. I was thinking to myself that you must like turians.”

     Maybe that will get you moving faster.

     “Why would you think that?” her voice comes back almost immediately.

     “This guy in your photo here,” he points at the picture and admonishes himself because she can’t see him pointing. “On the nightstand here.

     “Ah, that’s Garrus. My…boyfriend. Haven’t seen him in a while though. Wish I could talk to him. Been too long.”

     “Boyfriend? Guess you do like scars.”

     “Only his, Vickers,” she shoots back and exits the bedroom in her fatigues. She looks to the photo and lets an almost inaudible sigh loose.

     “I’m sorry. It’s tough being away from the ones we love,” he says and heads for the door.

     The door wizzes open with a swoosh and Vickers stops to see that she’s still looking at the photo.

     “He’s been a constant companion since I first got the Normandy. He’s more than my love. He fills a void I never knew existed. A part of me more important than air,” she turns then and heads past him towards the lift.

     The apartment door seals behind them as they walk down the hallway.

     “Don’t worry. You’ll see him again. Hell, Palaven is just a relay jump away. Sure it’s just business the Council wants to discuss. Afterall, it’s been six months since you’re demotion. The batarians are probably being a bunch of intergalactic assholes and they want you to get over to Kar’shan and hand them their asses.”

     Shepard laughs and shakes her head, “I somehow doubt that’s what they want. But thanks for the vote of confidence.”

     The lift doors close and they begin their descent. Vickers gnaws on his lip until they are outside and walking towards his shuttlecar. After a moment of silence, he turns his head towards her.

     “Speaking of turians and kicking asses. What’s the deal with Saren?”

     Shepard frowns and looks at him, “What do you mean?”

     “Well, I’ve seen all the reports. How Saren was working with the geth to find the conduit that would take them to the Citadel so that they could overthrow the governments. But, if that’s the case, why did Saren need to go all the way to Ilos? I mean, shit, he was already on the Citadel.”

     Shepard nods and looks straight ahead, “It wasn’t the geth that was the problem. It was Sovereign, a reaper.”

     “Council doesn’t believe that to be true, but I’ve always thought something was fishy about the official story.”

     “Well, it was a real reaper. It’s true that Saren probably could have taken the Citadel. But there would have been ramifications and he wanted an army to do the trick. The threat of discovery was too high for him at that moment. He needed to overwhelm CSEC. The geth were perfect because they believed Sovereign to be their god. Apparently, though the plan to invade the Citadel was already in motion, Sovereign put the whole thing on hold because of the prothean beacon that Saren and myself had come into contact with. The beacon showed a place that was a back door onto the Citadel. Since the protheans had managed to change the keeper code that prevented them from opening the Citadel to the reapers, Sovereign wanted it destroyed so it couldn’t be used again.”

     “Wait, why take the Citadel though? If reapers are real shouldn’t they just come in and destroy all humans? And everyone else?”

     “The Citadel is actually the master relay that connects all the relays in the galaxy together. Once all sentient races have mastered intergalactic society and have advanced far enough, they come in and harvest them,” Shepard purses her lips. “Saren found the conduit first and went through to a master control location. He must have locked it out just before we went through the conduit because we came through the relay monument on the Presidium. And the left behind geth destroyed the conduit. Which gave Saren his army. If we hadn’t gotten through when we did, we’d all be reaper food by now.”

     Fuck. It’s even worse than the worse I thought, “So the heart of galactic government is sitting within a massive relay that connects all relays around the galaxy and all the reapers have to do is seize it and it’s game over?”

     Shepard is quiet for a long moment as they reach Vickers’ shuttle, “Yeah. That’s pretty much right.”

     “Why would Saren do that? You understand turians right?”

     Shepard laughs loudly, “Not everyone in a species thinks the same way, Vickers! There are individuals everywhere. Hell, we can’t agree on menu items on Earth let alone on how to handle a potential invasion from an aggressive alien species. Besides, by the end Saren had been too far indoctrinated. He spent so many years looking for a weapon to give turians an edge in galactic affairs that he didn’t even realize that the relics he found were reaper tech. By the time he did, he was already their tool. Maybe at one time he wanted to do the right thing. Even if his methods were extreme, he still did the job that was expected of him. Until Sovereign that is.”

     “Well, then I hope you’re wrong. No offense, ma’am. I just hope the official line is true: reapers don’t exist.”

     “Reapers exist all right. And it’s only a matter of time before they get here. Surprised they haven’t arrived already.”

     Vickers shakes his head with a wary expression and they get into the shuttle. He throttles it up and the car lifts up into the air.

     “I may have some bad news for you.”

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

So brings to an end another week of Story Time With Tim! Hope you’re enjoying the work so far and hope you’ll be back for more next week. Until then, read to you soon.

~Timothy S Purvis

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