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 I wrote for my wife Christmas 2013. Mostly because of how disappointed we 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 the 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 twenty three of the book.
(PS: Yes, I will be copy pasting this text. Pretty much because there’re a lot of chapters to post and my days get pretty full sometimes. Plus I’m also posting these in advance through the scheduling feature so you’ll get something to read every week! Feel free to skip these beginning segments and just get straight to the chapter if you’ve been reading along. Or, if you like what you read, start from the beginning! Alright, until next week!)
“I don’t need you babysitting me!” Joker yells as he enters the bridge to head to his seat.
“Jeff Moreau! You are still injured and in no condition to pilot a ship!” Doctor Chakwas counters as she follows him.
“We’re under attack by an Alliance Admiral and essentially marooned on an alien world!” Joker looks at her. “I’m the only pilot on board! So I’m assuming my position!”
“I can pilot just fine, Jeff,” EDI puts in.
“Nobody asked you, EDI! This is where I belong! I’ve got my pain meds and a swivel chair! I’ll be fine!”
Chakwas throws her arms up in the air, “Fine! Nobody take the advice of the doctor! It’s not like I’ve been doing my job for decades! But no you come back up here and risk permanent damage!”
“Will do, mom!”
Chakwas huffs at Joker and turns to leave the bridge as Genevieve is entering.
“He’s impossible, Shepard! See if you can talk any sense into him!”
Chakwas leaves as Genevieve frowns, “Joker…”
“I don’t want to hear it, Commander! Unless you have a better idea, this is where I’m staying!”
Genevieve sighs, “The bombardments are narrowing in on our position. The cavern network we’re resting in won’t last much longer anyway so we’re going to have to relocate. EDI can handle that task just fine, Joker. You should be resting.”
“No, I should be piloting. Now do you have an idea of where we’re relocating or what?”
“There is a network of heavy metal mineral veins located about twenty six kilometers due north towards the interior of the nearest continent,” EDI replies. “We can use the radiation present to mask our energy signature.”
“Yeah and expose ourselves in the process!” Joker responds. “That’s a lot of territory between us and total oblivion. With those heavy cruisers bombing the shit out of everything, it’s going to be a challenge.”
“Which is why I should take control, Jeff.”
Joker frowns at EDI, “I didn’t say I couldn’t do it. It’s just going to be one hell of a bumpy ride.”
“Agreed,” EDI says.
“Okay. You two plot our course,” Genevieve pats the back on Joker’s chair. “I’ll go make sure the crew is ready at emergency stations.”
Genevieve turns and leaves the bridge and Joker grimaces slightly. He holds his hip and sighs. EDI is quiet for a moment before making her feelings known.
“I wish you wouldn’t push yourself so hard, Jeff. Like doctor Chakwas said, you can cause permanent damage.”
“EDI, we’re being hunted. There is nowhere on this ship I can hide from that. If we get attacked, I’m going to get injured. And I for one want to be where I have some say over the direction of the ship. I’m not going to lie around helpless while some madman tries to murder me! And…the crew.”
EDI contemplates this, “It is a logical assessment. I’ll bring up the maps detailing what we’ve discovered.”
“Thanks for caring, EDI. It means a lot to me.”
The Fifth and Sixth fleets of the Alliance drop out of a mass effect jump from a newly discovered relay. Its coordinates had been inferred from waypoints archived in the relays themselves and they jumped straight towards it. Now it is only a matter of entering FTL and heading straight for the unknown system where the Normandy is under siege by Lykins. This task is given to a small group of fighters led by Garrus Vakarian.
The group of fighters leaves the fleets and heads towards the system two solar groupings away. Once there, their mission is to reopen the relay allowing the fleets to enter behind them.
“Are you sure you can do this?” Hackett asks Garrus who is checking his instruments.
“Yes, sir. I have a cursory understanding of what Shepard had figured out. I also have Alliance documents detailing how they went about opening up the relays. I think I should be able to accomplish this in short order. We are six hours out and counting.”
“We’re counting on you. If both fleets come with you, Lykins will be ready. We have to have the element of surprise here and make him think he’s won this. That means—“
“That we can’t be spotted. Don’t worry, admiral. We’ll get it done.”
“Good luck, Garrus. We’ll make the jump as soon as we detect the relay has been unlocked.”
Hackett signs out leaving Garrus to lead his group towards the system.
“Okay, team. Let’s go show Lykins who he’s dealing with.”
He gets a series of affirmatives in reply and enters FTL drive followed by the seven other fighters composed of humans, turians, and batarians.
Once they arrive in the system, just under the six hours, Garrus maneuvers towards the relay that is being watched by just one frigate.
“Ghor’ant, you follow me in. Make sure your guys are ready.”
“Engineers standing by to assist. Will that frigate be a problem?”
“Doesn’t look like he’s seen us. We’ll drop in behind the relay out of view and maintain comms silence just in case. Starting now. Follow me.”
The three ships peel away from the others who go silent and power down their instruments to avoid detection. Garrus angles in behind the relay and heads towards the entrance point. In short order, they are exiting their vessels fully geared up and entering the relay per the access point indicated by the documents Garrus dug up.
It doesn’t take them long to figure out that the relay is unguarded and can go about their tasks more quickly. Ten minutes later they are reactivating the relay mass effect fields and sending a coded message to Hackett to prepare for invasion. The group heads back to their ships and prepare to rejoin their fighter squadron. But as they are going, Garrus gets some unusual readings from the fourth planet in the system.
“That’s odd…” he mutters and examines the information stream more carefully.
He sees that the majority of the Seventh fleet is in orbit around that planet bombarding the surface. He then picks up the Normandy’s flight signals and grows alarmed.
“They’re trying to destroy her!” Garrus initiates his comms. “New plan, team. We can’t wait for Hackett. We break for the fourth world now and hope Lykins is surprised it’s just us!”
“Won’t that throw off Hackett’s plan of taking the Seventh with minimal resistance?!” a human voice comes back.
“I don’t know! All I know is that the Normandy might not last that long! Move out!”
The other ships come to life and join the three vessels as they hit FTL and make for the fourth world while the lone frigate near the relay seems completely oblivious to them.
The Normandy lifts off as the cave comes crashing down through the water around them. Joker grimaces as he forces the Normandy forward and through a network of caves towards the open water of the ocean just beyond. The Normandy flies out of the water and is immediately greeted by the fire power of the heavy cruisers above. Joker maneuvers the Normandy through the blasts and pushes the vessel as fast as it can manage towards the destination beyond.
“This is going to be a real short trip!” he cries out.
Genevieve stands beside him grimacing, “It’s like they knew exactly where we were! EDI, will that radiation help keep us hidden!?”
“Given the precision of their strikes, it’s hard to know, Shepard,” EDI replies. “However, I think it’s more prudent to concentrate on just making it there.”
Genevieve nods as Joker scowls, “Fuckin asshole!”
The Normandy zooms between several cannon blasts that rent massive gouges out of the surface below them as they head across land and between natural structures trying to stay out of the line of sight. The sight of the heavy metals comes closer into view and that is when a shot hits the Normandy.
“I’m losin’ control! EDI!” Joker yells out.
EDI lights up the bridge with her subtle manipulations of the conduits and sounds regretful, “There’s nothing I can do, Jeff! We’re going down near these coordinates! I recommend using the Thannix cannon to drill a tunnel under the location!”
“They won’t be able to hit us, Jeff and with the constant radiation they won’t be able to tell where we came to rest! It’s the only option I have for you!”
“All hands brace for impact!” Genevieve yells out pressing the intercom button above her.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Joker yells out and grabs his buckle to pull across him.
He angles the Normandy towards a series of hills that are in the beginning stages of becoming mountains and fires the cannon at a forty five degree angle and lets the momentum of the Normandy carry her into the opening. The thannix cannon continues firing until the ship has slowed to a near stop. They disengage the cannon and wait for several long moments. They hear the echoes of bombardment from above as the ships of the Seventh Fleet tries to collapse the newly formed tunnel.
“Great! We’re sitting ducks!” Joker announces. “You know it won’t be long before Lykins is down here with his cronies!”
“There may be an option of escape, Jeff,” EDI puts in. “I’ve just examined our immediate environment and have found that the thannix cannon has blasted an opening into a subterranean passage. The crew can establish waypoints of defense from the beginning of our decent vector to the caverns beyond.”
“What about that radiation, EDI?” Genevieve puts in leaning against the chair and examining data feeds.
“The radiation is intense enough to block scans from the surface but we are now approximately four hundred meters below the metal ore vein. The radiation is significantly lower and non-fatal at these levels. Though wearing radiation suits would still be recommended.”
“So what we go hide in a cave and hope reinforcements are coming!?” Joker panics. “How long do you think that will be!? How long before Lykins and the Seventh pounds this place to oblivion and says so long Normandy!?”
“We’ll deal with that when we come across it, Joker,” Genevieve replies. “For now, let’s get those defenses in place and see what this cavern is like.”
The crew of the Normandy gets busy setting up the defenses towards the rear of the Normandy where the ship plowed into the side of the mountainous terrain. They set up several portable turrets while being mindful of the ships above that continue to bombard the surface albeit now more sporadically.
Joker elects to remain onboard the bridge while Genevieve, Liara, and Vickers head further into the cavern with a dozen soldiers. It doesn’t take them long to enter the newly exposed cavity and explore the interior with their headlamps illuminating the damage caused by the cannon as it soldered its way through the heavy minerals and thick rock.
“Are we just this lucky, Shepard?” Liara says as they proceed further into the cavern.
“Lucky? I wouldn’t call it luck. But yeah we do come across a lot of instances of this, don’t we?”
Inside the cavern lay the remains of an ancient city crumbling and nearly fossilized into the rock of the mountain interior. Yet the structures all appear to be made of some sort of sleek metal formed into the image of stone and intricately carved with unusual designs.
Liara moves forward through the debris where the cannon had carved into the ground and through the midst of the buildings they can see climbing from the ground and through the ceiling.
“It’s not like the ruins on Palaven. Not exactly. But there are certain features that are similar,” Liara says.
“By far this city is much, much older,” Genevieve replies.
The cavern ceiling is sunken in the center nearly touching the floor with the edges of the cavern fanning out and up making the cave look almost like a dark smile. They continue on as the Normandy soldiers set up turrets at the entrance to the cavern and erect floodlights pointing outward to blind any potential enemies storming inward.
Genevieve and Liara walk beneath the ceiling, avoiding several stalactites, and walk between two cramped structures. They squeeze through and reach and opening beyond them. Vickers calls after them as he remains looking around the first area.
“I’ll just hang back here! If you find anything interesting, let me know!”
“Sure thing, Vickers,” Genevieve replies as she and Liara come into a massive clearing.
The two of them stand staring at the floor that is completely empty with the exception of one crucial detail.
Genevieve feels her mouth drop open and barely glances at Liara, “They’re humanoid shadows. Like something…exploded at the center.”
They look up at the ceiling and see that its formation is different from the buckling of the entrance. Here, the ceiling is concaved towards the surface and covers a large rounded segment of the cavern where the buildings only exist on the edges and seem to be falling over while the hundreds of meters in the center are vacant but for the ring of shadows flailing outwards from the very center of the area as if a giant bubble had popped leaving residual scarring all across the floor.
“What happened here?”
“It reminds me of Nagasaki…”
“Nagasaki? Where’s that?”
“In Japan, on Earth. Twentieth century warfare saw the development of atomic weaponry.”
“Oh wait! That sounds familiar. The American government of the time ended the world war with nuclear weapons, right?”
“They were atomic, the precursor to nuclear. But essentially. I remember reading about it in school and how after the bombs were dropped all that was left of hundreds were their shadows on the ground where they were vaporized.”
Liara looks to the ground in shock, “You think these people were…”
“Something to that effect. The heavy minerals must have preserved this site, for the most part. A fossilized city frozen in time. Think you can figure out how old it is?”
Liara uses her omnitool to try and get readings of the materials. She walks forward carefully avoiding the shadows like they were graves and heads to the far end of the area. She furrows her brows and looks to Genevieve.
“Shepard, this can’t be right.”
“What can’t be right?”
“I’ve gotten measurements of the radiative isotopes in the atmosphere and from the rock. There’s still the presence of organic compounds coming from somewhere in the cavern. But if what I’m seeing is correct, this city is nearly one billion years old.”
“A billion years? And still intact?”
“The structures are of a material I’ve never encountered before. It’s…it’s almost bioorganic yet composed of the same heavy metals that are lining the surface of this mountain. My goddess, Shepard! I think those metals are also part of the city! Or what’s left of it!” Liara shakes her head. “The metals have been melted into a flat sheet. The radiation is from the slow decay of the metal. But it’s like it was…alive!”
Genevieve frowns and pauses. She then furrows her brows and looks to the ceiling.
“You hear that?”
Liara shakes her head, “I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s right. The bombardments have stopped,” Genevieve opens her commlink. “All crew, prepare for ground forces. Looks like Lykins has gotten bored bombing us.”
Affirmatives come back in response and Genevieve sighs. After a moment, EDI’s voice comes across the commlink.
“Shepard, I’m receiving unusual energy readings from beyond your position. They’re faint but clustered in a strange pattern that defies any logical formulation.”
“Five hundred meters northwest of your position. There is debris blocking it but there looks to be a way around that rubble along the edges of the parallel structure. According to the omnitool scans that is.”
“We’ll check it out. Maybe it’s something we can use.”
Genevieve and Liara leave the shadow pit and head towards the energy readings.
“I’m getting faint energy readings throughout much of the caverns,” Liara says looking around her as the buildings and rock come together leaving only a narrow channel to follow.
They push through the tunnel and come out into a tight cluster of buildings that collapsed on top of one another. They find the coordinates EDI mentioned and see the parallel building laying almost on top of a thick mound of stone and melted metal. They have to duck down to crawl between the building and the stone and manage to find several branching tunnels. One of which leads to the energy readings. Genevieve crawls over a thick mound of stoney metal and is followed by Liara.
But Genevieve pauses looking at the mound. Liara crawls off of it and into the small alcove only a few meters in diameter.
“What is it?” Liara asks seeing Genevieve brushing away dirt and debris from the mound.
After a moment, a body appears and Liara gasps as she looks around the small alcove and sees more of the mounds clustered together.
“It’s…synthetic,” Genevieve says and takes a good look around the alcove.
They see two dozen bodies lying against one another. A few are on top of others. Liara takes more readings and can make out just a little bit of energy coming from each corpse.
“This appears to have been a society of synthetics. Wiped out nearly a billion years ago. Yet they still show signs of energy output. It must be the material that they’re made of.”
Genevieve exhales the musky air and shakes her head, “I’m surprised there’s still anything left of them. The atmosphere is oxygenated. There’s a heavy presence of liquid and rust yet their metal doesn’t seem affected.”
“It’s strange. There’s enough here for an entire car—“ Liara stops and stares. “By the goddess…Shepard…”
Genevieve looks to where Liara crawls over to. Liara motions down to one of the bodies and shines a light on it and stares at Genevieve with tears in her eyes.
“It’s a baby…”
Genevieve rushes over, “What?! That can’t be possible!”
They look at the small form that is just as synthetic as the others around it and is still connected to the form cradling it.
Genevieve sits down feeling faint as Liara continues taking readings. Liara stops and reaches her hand down to feel the child and the parent.
“They’re slick to the touch…but…it would appear that these synthetics…gave birth. And this one had just given birth when whatever happened…happened.”
“That’s horrible. That they should all die so suddenly while…what happened here? And how can this city still be here? Shouldn’t tectonic activity have obliterated all signs of this place by now?”
“It’s the metal. The city is made out of it. As are the synthetics. It’s very resilient even if it can be destroyed.”
“They look sort of like those automatons we’ve been finding. Only less rigid. Their faces are smoother. But that hollow look…”
“I know…It’s unsettling.”
“Shepard…those automatons are still functional. Though technically brain-dead. However they lived, they died suddenly causing all their upper brain functions to malfunction.”
“So, we could turn them back on?” Genevieve asks.
“Their bodies would work…but everything that made them alive has long since been lost. I just thought…they could be useful for defense.”
Genevieve ponders this for several moments, “And I suppose you could take control of the bodies?”
“Yes. Though obviously there are some better left alone.”
Genevieve nods, “Yeah…but, no we won’t use them. This is a graveyard, EDI. Far be it for us to disturb the dead.”
“Let’s get back to the Normandy. Nothing here but ancient memories,” Genevieve says and starts back towards the tunnel.
She carefully moves around the body at the tunnel entrance and moves onward. Liara strokes the infant one last time and turns to follow Genevieve.
Lykins sits in his command chair watching the bombardment going as planned. As of yet, they haven’t been able to determine just how far the Normandy had crashed into the terrain. They only knew she rested somewhere within. He wanted to make sure that they were out of commission permanently.
“Tell the ships to draw back and prepare for ground insertion.”
“Aye, admiral,” Bryant says as he communicates the orders.
Jiles stands with his arms crossed watching everything transpire and trying to figure out what their next move was going to be.
It’s just me and Bryant. We may be able to stage a coup but it’s risky. The Illusive Man…dead. Cerberus…all but wiped out. Fuck! This has gone fubar way too fast!
“Sir!” Bryant yells out. “We’ve got incoming Alliance fighters!”
“What!?” Lykins stands up as Jiles uncrosses his arms.
They see a grouping a small vessels heading towards the surface to intercept the heavy cruises below. Jiles counts around thirteen ships, give or take a few, and frowns.
“All forces, engage those ships!” Lykins bellows.
Bryant sends out the orders and sees several cruisers pursuing after the fighters. The ships are much too agile for the cruisers but they fire nonetheless.
“If those are Alliance craft, that means Hackett can’t be far behind,” Lykins says. “Get a squad back to the relay and—“
“Too late! Sixth and Fifth Fleet have just come through the relay!”
“How the hell did they open it!?” Lykins growls. “It was only a matter of time, I suppose! Contact the Tripoli and Beijing and have them position for ground assault and take the Normandy! All other forces are to instead focus on the incoming fleets!”
Jiles steps forward, “Wouldn’t a tactical retreat be preferable, admiral? We’re dealing with the Fifth and the Sixth combined. We’re no match.”
“I won’t hear such speech on my bridge, commander! We’ll seize the Normandy and then leave the system! Carry out your orders!”
Jiles reluctantly nods to Bryant who communicates the new orders to the ships.
Garrus plows forward laying heavy fire into the side of a heavy cruiser as it tries to fire at the mountainside below. The cruiser shifts its posture to fire at the incoming squadron but they drop in low beneath the cruiser’s cannons and continue their assault on the craft.
“I wasn’t born to fly in combat, Garrus!” Ghor’ant yells over the comms from where he sits in the backseat of the vessel.
“Relax! I do this for a living! Keep up the pressure, team! Make ‘em feel it!”
The ships focus on one of the cruisers and do heavy damage to its engines. The cruiser slowly descends towards the surface where it crashes into the ground leaving a long fiery trail of debris. The other cruiser turns and heads towards orbit.
“Huh, they’re leaving. Once a turntail, always a turntail I suppose,” Garrus quips and turns towards the surface making his heading the area where the cruisers were bombing. “I’m landing to check on the Normandy! Keep me covered for any reinforcements!”
“Copy that,” comes a response.
Garrus lands the vessel and opens up the canopy. He looks back at Ghor’ant and motions for him to get out too.
“Come on, you might be able to help as well. We’ll see what the sit is and call for your engineers if they need them.”
“Whatever you say, Vakarian. I’m just glad to be on the ground!”
Garrus chuckles as Ghor’ant climbs out and removes his helmet. They both hurry forward several meters to the entrance of the tunnel and as they enter find two turrets pointed at them.
“Whooa! Hold your fire! We’re the calvary!” Garrus yells out throwing his hands up.
Two soldiers move forward with their guns pointed at him and look around. The lead soldier nods at the other and lowers his weapon.
“Mr. Vakarian. We haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Well, I’m flattered you remember me!”
“I was onboard the SR1. Escaped when she was blasted to oblivion by the collectors. Glad to have you back. What’s the situation in orbit?”
Garrus walks towards them with Ghor’ant, “Lykins ships are covering all exits. Took out one cruiser on the way in with my squadron. The other one bugged out. That can’t be good news. I would expect a ground assault soon.”
“Great,” the soldier says.
“Vakarian,” a voice says over Garrus’s commlink.
Garrus holds up a finger to suggest one moment to the soldiers and responds, “Admiral? Is that you?”
“Affirmative. I see you couldn’t wait to get the party started.”
“They hit the Normandy hard. I wanted to give them some backup. But, the Normandy is grounded now and we just barely routed a bombardment on their position.”
“We’re in system now and encountering Lykins forces. We haven’t fired upon them yet but the Seventh is meeting us head on in attack position. Get the Normandy up asap and give me a status report when you’re done.”
“Yes, sir. Let me get with Shepard and we’ll fill you in.”
“Good work. Hackett out.”
Garrus looks to the two men, “Okay. I need to speak to Shepard immediately.”
“The commander is in the cavern beyond, sir. Follow me.”
The other soldier stares at Ghor’ant who walks by him staring back, “I’m his bodyguard.”
The soldier puckers his lips but says nothing as Ghor’ant continues on his way cracking a slight smile.
Thanks again and read to everyone again soon!
~Timothy S Purvis
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