Mass Effect 3 Re-Imagined Chapter Twenty Four: 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 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 four 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!)

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24

#

     “Attention, Seventh Fleet. This is admiral Hackett. You are ordered to stand down by the organization you’ve pledged your lives to defend: the Alliance. If you do not, you will be declared a rogue entity and we will be forced to destroy you.”

     Hackett stands with his arms crossed across his chest awaiting a reply from the encroaching fleet. Within seconds, four ships from the Seventh open fire on his fleet followed in short order by the rest of the Seventh going on the attack.

     “Okay. I guess we have their answer,” Hackett frowns and looks to Captain Hannah Shepard. “Send word to the fleet that they are to take the Seventh alive if at all possible. I don’t want to lose more ships than we need to. Afterall, we’re still at war with the reapers.”

     “I’ll personally spread the word, admiral.”

     “Thank you. Oh, and Hannah, we’re going to get your daughter back in one piece,” Hackett says and looks back to the viewscreen. “I guarantee it.”

     “I have no doubts, admiral,” Hannah replies and goes to deliver the fleet admiral’s instructions to the rest of the ships.

     Hackett sighs and watches his forces engaging the Seventh. The majority of the Seventh Fleet is engaged but he notices that two cruisers are missing and that the SSV St Helens is hanging back closer to the planet. He furrows his brows.

     What are you planning, Lykins?

#

On board the St Helens’ bridge, Lykins rubs his chin with his hand and turns to Bryant.

     “Contact the Beijing and Tripoli. Have them rendezvous at the rally point. Helmsman, turn towards the Normandy and prepare the heavy cannons.”

     Jiles leans against the railing, “You’re abandoning the fleet?”

     “I’ve already got what I needed. Now we destroy the Normandy so that she can’t follow. You have your orders.”

     “Aye, admiral. Making heading the surface of the planet.”

     The St Helens turns and heads towards the atmosphere of the world below and angles towards the last known location of the Normandy. The heavy cannons come on line and the attack descent is adjusted.

     “We’re in line, admiral,” the helmsman says, his hand on the weapon trigger.

     “Fire.”

#

Garrus sees Genevieve coming out of the cavern. She smiles and meets him halfway.

     “Garrus, what a surprise. Last I knew you were in the hospital. Not exciting enough for you?”

     “Well, you know. There’s a galaxy to save and a girlfriend to keep out of trouble.”

     Genevieve laughs and walks by him causing him to hurry up to her, “You’re not doing a very good job of that last part.”

     “Yeah, I see you managed to bury the Normandy. Can she still fly?”

     “I hope so. Lykins hit us pretty hard. And he’s still up there. How’d you get past him?”

     “Brought my own squadron. Oh and the Sixth and Fifth fleets are pounding on the Seventh as we speak.”

     “That’s some pretty heavy back up.”

     “Nothing less than the best.”

     The group walks up the ramp into the Normandy where crews are trying to repair the damage. They head towards the bridge. As they do, they feel a heavy blast against the mountainside outside which causes the Normandy to lurch and skid slightly across the ground.

     “EDI! What’s going on!” Genevieve yells.

     “The St Helens has just unleashed several volleys of cannon fire on our position! The cavern is not going to hold!”

     “Can we fly!?”

     “Negative, Shepard,” EDI replies. “We’ve got shields up now. Those may hold against the falling debris but we will be buried under several tons of heavy metal and rock.”

     “I don’t like the sound of that,” Garrus says.

     “Damnit!” Genevieve says and gets back to her feet. “EDI! Order a ship wide evacuation of the crew to the entrance of the tunnel! Now!”

     “Affirmative.”

     “Won’t the crew be sitting ducks for the St Helens?” Garrus asks.

     “At least it’s a chance! What other choice do we have? He’s going to collapse the caverns!”

     “The interior cavern may provide some protection!” Liara puts in.

     Genevieve shakes her head, “We’d still be left with the problem of being buried under heavy metal and rock! And I doubt Hackett would have enough time to dig us out before we suffocated! No, the exit is the only real option!”

     The crew rushes past them and out towards the tunnel exit as the caverns continue to shake under another volley. Debris begins to fall from the ceiling and Genevieve motions for them to hurry on out. Garrus and Liara follow Vickers and Ghor’ant and the crew towards the light beyond.

     “Joker! Get your ass off the bridge!” Genevieve hits the comm.

     “I’m not leaving EDI! And plus, I have a broken hip, remember!?”

     “Damnit!”

     “I’m heading to the bridge, Shepard!” Doctor Chakwas’s voice comes over the comm.

     “No. Get off the ship! I’m heading to the bridge!” Genevieve says rushing towards the lift that will take her to the CIC.

     “But…”

     “That’s an order, doctor!”

     “Aye, commander.”

     Genevieve sees the remainder of the crew evacuating from the emergency stairwells on the inner edge of the ship’s interior. The door closes and she feels the whole ship rocking as more volleys unleash.

     Any minute now this cave is coming down. Hurry up you damn lift!

     The doors slide open and Genevieve rushes past the CIC and towards the bridge where Joker remains fussing at the holodisplays.

     “Joker! Come on, I’m getting you out of here!”

     “We can’t leave EDI!”

     “Jeff, you have to get out of here. The Normandy can be dug out once the fleets arrive.”

     “Don’t give me that!” Joker screams at her display with a wild gesticulating motion. “There’s a hundred and seventy five tons of heavy metal just above us! It’s amazing we even managed to drill through it! But it’s coming down and it will crush the Normandy like a pancake! No! There’s has to be a way to save you!”

     “We don’t have time to debate this,” Genevieve says as she grabs Jokers arm.

     He screams in pain but before she can get him out of the seat, an explosion rocks the interior and Genevieve falls to the ground. Joker slides back painfully into position. They all hear loud banging on the exterior of the Normandy.

     “Shepard, the ceiling is collapsing. Neither you nor Jeff will be able to evacuate the tunnel in time. I do however have a plan. But you might not like it.”

     “What is it?”

     EDI doesn’t respond as she concentrates on her task. Deep within the cavern beyond, seventeen bodies come to life and break through the stone tomb encasing them. They rush out of the ruins and towards the Normandy. They jump up on top of the vessel and can touch the ceiling. All push upward on the metal stone trying to collapse and hold it in place. The Normandy’s shield then goes up.

     Genevieve sees the figures rushing up on top of the ship to hold up the ceiling and she furrows her brows.

     “I don’t think they can hold it up indefinitely, EDI.”

     “Stand by. There is more to it. There is a slight margin of error of around five percent. But I am eighty nine percent certain of its success rate.”

     “Which potentially drops success to eighty four percent if you’re wrong!” Joker replies and sees the stone starting to fall down the corridor leading to the cavern. “However, I’ll take your eighty four percent over dying in a cave any day!”

     “If this works,” EDI says. “The Normandy will slide back out the way it came.”

     “What? How are you going to do that?” Genevieve queries.

     “By using the shields to grease up the Normandy’s lateral movement. The collapsing tunnel will hit the shields causing momentum against the Normandy’s hull. The vessel will then slide across the ground and outside. Theoretically.”

     “And you’re going to use the automatons to regulate which pieces of the ceiling collapse first. Interesting,” Genevieve says sitting in the seat next to Joker. “Well, that’ll definitely be a first.”

#

The St Helens opens up another volley but is suddenly rocked herself when a blast comes from behind.

     “Status report!” Lykins yells coming to his feet.

     “The Orizaba has just opened up on us, admiral! I’m pretty sure we’re not even going to get a court martial!” Bryant yells out.

     “Ah the task is done! Angle us towards orbit and hit FTL at the established coordinates!”

     “Aye, sir!”

     The St Helens veers sharply away from the planet’s surface as the Orizaba enters the upper atmosphere and lays down another volley of fire power onto the ship. The St Helens zooms off towards the stratosphere and once clear goes into FTL drive.

#

On the bridge of the Orizaba, Hannah draws in a deep breath and slowly lets it out and returns her focus to the Normandy’s last location.

     “Sir, the St Helens has gone to FTL. Shall we pursue?” the helmsman asks as Hannah closes her eyes in anticipation.

     “No. Let him go. We’ve got the Seventh fleet back although in desperate need of repair. We need to concentrate on freeing the Normandy from that mountain.”

     “Aye, sir.”

     Hannah tries to suppress the smile crossing her lips.

#

Garrus watches the St Helens fleeing under the intense fire of the Orizaba and can’t help but to shake his fist in victory. All the survivors of the Normandy gather around the base of the small mountain and look up to where the Normandy burrowed into its side. It is a steep angle from where they look up but they can all hear the collapsing rock coming from inside the tunnel interest. Smoke and dust pours out of the opening.

     Garrus sighs, “Come on, Shepard! Get out of there!”

     Suddenly, the Normandy bursts out of the entryway, her shields glowing blue under the strain of the collapsing mountain. The vessel sounds nearly silent compared to the tunnel completely collapsing above. Garrus looks up and sees the entrance is now sealed and looks back to see the Normandy falling like a brick towards the ground below. He cringes as the shields absorb the majority of the impact and the ship slides across the dry basin stretching out for miles towards a green forest in the distance.

     After a few hundred meters, the Normandy comes to rest and rocks as the shields collapse causing the ship to hit the ground roughly.

     “Shit,” Garrus says as he follows the crew in rushing towards the Normandy.

     As he approaches the ship he sees several bodies of synthetic creatures laying spread all across the dry basin with mangled limps and destroyed torsos. Many of their hands look to have been grinded away.

     “What the hell…”

     He ignores it and continues towards the Normandy where one of the remaining automatons is pulling open the docking port door. He reaches for his weapon but then sees Genevieve dropping out and looking haggard. The automaton pats her back and then jumps through the opening into the ship.

     “Okay, who’s your friend?” Garrus asks coming up to Genevieve and giving her a big hug.

     Genevieve coughs as Garrus lifts her off the ground, “Okay, okay…I get the point! You’re suffocating me!”

     Garrus puts her down and exhales sharply, “Sorry, got a little carried away.”

     “No, I, I understand,” Genevieve gasps for breath and then thrusts herself at Garrus to give him a deep kiss.

     She pulls away and smiles seeing that Garrus is at a loss for word. Liara walks up and shakes her head.

     “Get a room you two.”

     “Can’t, fish tanks are broken,” Genevieve sighs shaking her head.

     “Damn. And imagine the calibrations she’s going to need now?” Garrus nods looking at the Normandy.

     Genevieve laughs and slaps Garrus on the shoulder, “Oh I’m sure you’ll get her up and running in no time. And our new friend is a longer story. That’s actually EDI controlling her. We found what was left of her people…in there…”

     Genevieve points and the smile leaves her lips. She lets loose a deep sigh and puckers her lips. Garrus places a hand on her shoulder.

     “There’ll be time for debriefings later,” he says.

     Genevieve quirks the corner of her mouth, “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

     “You know,” Liara says waving her hand towards the sky. “If Hackett hadn’t taken care of Lykins, this would probably be the most awkward scene ever!”

     “Don’t worry. This is just ‘Holy shit, I’m still alive’ banter! I just crashed through a collapsing tunnel with the help of dead automatons and lucky shield leveraging! Give me some slack!” Genevieve says smiling and walking towards the Normandy. “Besides, we have so much work left to do, a moment of levity is just what the doctor ordered.”

     “Speaking of doctors,” Doctor Chakwas says approaching them. “How is Jeff?”

     “He’s alright. He’s still on the bridge but EDI is getting him,” Genevieve looks up and sees the old automaton holding Joker gently in her arms. “Ah, speak of the devil.”

     EDI jumps down and absorbs the impact so that Joker doesn’t sustain any further damage and takes him over to Doctor Chakwas to lay him on the ground.

     “Thanks, EDI,” Joker says. “Gotta say, that new body isn’t half bad.”

     “She’s been dead for a billion years.”

     Joker sighs and responds to EDI, “Mood killer.”

     EDI stands staring down at Joker and cocks her head to the side.

     Chakwas kneels down and opens up her medkit and diagnostics omnitool to examine Joker. Above, the SSV Orizaba comes in for a landing and extends its struts.

     As the rest of the Normandy crew gathers around the Normandy, Hackett and Hannah followed by medical officers and engineers exit the Orizaba and head their way. As they approach, Hannah quickens her pace and reaches Genevieve.

     “Mom,” Genevieve says and hugs her.

     “I’m glad you’re already, dear. I was worried sick. Lykins has a lot to answer for,” Hannah says and stands back as Hackett walks up.

     “He’ll answer for everything he’s done soon enough. Regrettably, he skipped system. But we’ve retaken the Seventh and began boarding procedures. We’ll know soon enough why Alliance soldiers willingly let their admiral abandon his post and confiscate a whole fleet,” Hackett sighs. “He should have been arrested immediately.”

     “I imagine we’ll discover the truth of it soon, admiral. Right now, we have to get the Normandy fixed up asap. We need to get to a certain set of coordinates soon. With the reapers taking the Citadel it’s only a matter of time before they run roughshod all over the galaxy.”

     “There is more bad news. But we’ll get to that at the debriefing,” Hackett says. “Right now, I want to make sure the Normandy crew has come through unscathed. It’s always a plus for an admiral to mingle every now and then. Besides, I need to stretch my legs. It’s a beautiful day out.”

     Admiral Hackett winks an eye and smiles as he heads towards the crew taking stock of the Normandy’s damage and the equipment they have on hand.    

     “Some down time would be good. I feel like I’ve been rushing from one end of the galaxy to the next without even stopping,” Genevieve says.

     Garrus nods his head and looks towards the mountain the Normandy was ejected from, “Yeah. Let’s take a breather. I’ll let you and your mother have some private time. I’ll be over—“

     “Oh no you don’t,” Genevieve says grabbing his forearm. “You’re going to take a walk with us. We’ll grab some rations from one of the medics and have a picnic.”

     “A picnic, Genevieve? Really?” Hannah says with a grin. “Alliance rations are hardly the stuff of picnic food. Besides, I’m not sure what kind of turian articles we have on hand.”

     “So long as there is not serious sources of protein, I should be fine,” Garrus puts in. “Are you sure you wouldn’t just want to spend some time with your mom?”

     “This is spending time. So let’s head over and take a break,” Genevieve says as they walk towards the medics coming out of the Orizaba. “To start. Mom, this is Garrus Vakarian. He’s my boyfriend.”

     Hannah makes an ‘ah’ face and they continue onward.

#

Later on towards evening planetside, Geneviev, Garrus, Ghor’ant, Vickers, Liara, and EDI join admiral Hacket and Hannah in the briefing room onboard the Orizaba. They take seats around the table at the center of the room and Hackett pulls up a map of the galaxy.

     “Okay, first before we get into anything you’ve discovered, Shepard, I need to update you on the war. It isn’t going good,” Hackett says zooming the holodisplay in on new coordinates of the fleet. “We’ve relocated as many ships as we can here. This will be uploaded to the Normandy so that EDI can process the entirety of the information. Keep in mind we’re in a live theater of operation and these things change quickly.”

     “Of course, admiral,” Genevieve says.

     “We have several fleets provided by the turians, three from the salarians, two from the asari, what’s left of the batarian fleet, and krogan warriors standing by for ground assaults. The rachni have been a boost to our defenses and operations galaxy wide. They can scout areas occupied by reapers without being detected as they can apparently feel where the reapers are focused,” after each instance mentioned Hackett zooms in our sectors of the galaxy pertinent to the species involved. “We’ve also acquired resources from thirteen first contactee species. Six of which are pre-space flight, and the rest of which have only just begun to explore their solar systems with manned flights. As of yet, we do not know why the reapers are focused on those systems but rachni scouts are currently infiltrating those places they can access to discover why they’re not just harvesting the advanced species.”

     “Maybe the reapers are becoming more aggressive because they’re threatened by humanity,” Garrus says leaning forward. “After all, your species changed the dynamics of how galaxy politics works. You rise fast into positions of power and have demonstrated more than once your capacity for military development.”

     “But many of these species the reapers have targeted aren’t anywhere near Earth,” Liara puts in pointing her finger at the map. “And several of their homeworlds are located in the terminus systems. I mean, even if one or two did advance along the lines of humanity, there’s no reason for the reapers to view them as threats.”

     “Which means they may be looking for the same thing the commander is,” Vickers interjects. “What if they’re trying to find the same weapon we’re after? We’ve been on this quest for how many months now?”

     “There is no data supporting such a theory, lieutenant Vickers,” EDI says.

     Hackett raises his hand and grimaces, “Actually, there may be supporting evidence for that theory. We’ve been interrogating the members of the Seventh fleet and we’ve uncovered an unsettling find: they’re all indoctrinated.”

     Surprised murmuring rumbles all across the room as the people gathered talk amongst themselves about the indications of this.

     “How were they indoctrinated?” Genevieve asks bracing her elbows on the table.

     Hackett pushes a button on the table and a viewscreen on the wall activates, “This is footage taken from the screening of the Seventh fleet. We’ve found numerous reaper artifacts scattered at key locations throughout each ship. We’re not sure how they were acquired but best guess says Lykins had contacts within Cerberus and he achieved them through shipments to his personal quarters.”

     “Lykins killed the Illusive Man,” Genevieve says. “I never trusted the man but I seriously doubt he’d hand reaper artifacts over to Lykins. He knew how dangerous indoctrination was which was why he was studying its process.”

     “However Lykins did it, he got ahold of them. It’s even possible he stole them. But it is apparent that he used his Cerberus connections to gain these artifacts,” Hackett says switching to different parts of different ships with heavily suited soldiers carefully removing the artifacts. “We’re storing the artifacts on the Edmonton as it’s too damaged to rejoin the fleet and be of any use. The weaponry on board is malfunctioning and life support is sporadic. She’s definitely seen better days. We’ll deposit the vessel in a secure location known only to us.”

     “So, we’re operating on the theory that Lykins is under the influence of the reapers. Which is why he put the artifacts on the other ships to control the Alliance personnel and why he wants to acquire the weapon we’re after, is that about right?” Garrus asks leaning forward.

     “It seems logical,” Hackett says. “However, he was trying to destroy the Normandy and it was to you that the location of that prothean world was sent.”

     “Right,” Genevieve replies.

     “So did he already get the information?” Hackett asks.

     “I, I don’t think so. He was chasing the Illusive Man and you contacted me to say that Harper wanted to meet with me. Which means if Lykins had that information he wouldn’t need us and wouldn’t have needed to follow me, but,” Genevieve sits back. “That would mean he would have had to acquire the information directly from the Illusive or at some point when it was transmitted to the Normandy.”

     “Is it possible he piggy-backed a stream as it was going to the Normandy?” Liara asks raising her thin eyebrows.

     “Negative,” EDI says. “It would have been detected by the Normandy’s security measures.”

     “Could those security measures have been vetted at a future point? Say, when you crashed into a cavern?”

     EDI cocks her head at Hackett and her robotic like face gives a slight frown, “That would have been the optimal time. Our systems were off line while we were struggling to set up a defense.”

     Genevieve scowls, “I don’t like what’s being implicated here.”

     “It’s a regrettable circumstance of the jobs we do, Shepard,” Hackett replies. “And you’re high profile. The Normandy was due for reactivation with a new crew when the reapers attacked. Any well placed spy could have gotten on board during the mad rush to get off world.”

     “And now that person has fed that information to Lykins! We need to find him!” Genevieve says and makes to stand up.

     “That would be a waste of time and effort right now, Shepard,” Hackett says. “Lykins already has the locations. What we need to do now is beat him to it.”

     “That’s not going to be easy,” Genevieve says sitting back down. “It’s at least a two week journey to the world at FTL drive and there are no relays between here and there. EDI has also figured that we’ll lose comms connection about halfway there as we’ll be beyond the influence of the nearest relays.”

     Hackett leans forward and folds his fingers together as he thinks. Hannah sits up straighter and frowns as she claps her palm on the table top.

     “With everything that has happened over the last month,” Hannah says. “We need to find out what is waiting at the end of this puzzle. If it’s a weapon we have no choice but to acquire it. We’re losing this war.”

     Hackett sighs, “This have gotten bad. Once the reapers acquired the Citadel, they used it to override the locks that were placed on them.”

     Garrus leans forward, “So, that means…”

     “I’m sorry, Vakarian. Palaven is under assault by reapers as we speak. Thessia was hit a few weeks ago. And nobody has heard from Sur’kesh for about a week. The reapers are fanning out and we’re running out of time. We need that weapon. Whatever it may be.”

     Genevieve frowns while Liara and Garrus look to the table top. Garrus fiddles with his fingers and bites his lip. Liara looks up and forces a smile.

     “Then we need to get going. There’s no time to waste and Lykins already has a headstart. How are the Normandy repairs coming?”

     EDI cocks her head in Liara’s direction, “Smoothly. The Normandy will be ready for flight within the next twenty four hours. The hull is also being reinforced so we may just be able to give Lykins a run for his money.”

     “Bear in mind,” Hackett adds. “The Seventh has two cruisers unaccounted for. That means you’ll have three ships to contend with.”

     Hannah slightly closes her eyes while Genevieve frowns. Garrus puts his fists on the table.

     “Then I’ll boost the shit outta the thannix cannon and take em on one on one if I have to!”

     “I could always put in a call to have a couple of ships made available to escort you to this location,” Ghor’ant replies watching Garrus closely.

     Genevieve looks to Ghor’ant and shakes her head, “No. The Alliance will need every available vessel to put up a fight against the reapers. Let’s go see to the Normandy’s repair. Everyone rest up while you can. Get supplies, stock up on rations, weapons, armor, everything.”

     Hackett stands up as Genevieve does and nods towards her, “Once the Normandy is ready, we’ll take the fleets back to our rendezvous point. You have those coordinates now. Rejoin us as soon as you get that weapon.”

     “I’ll update you before we leave orbit, admiral,” Genevieve says.

     “Then this meeting is adjourned. Safe journey people. You go with all our hopes,” Hackett says looking at each of them in turn and then leaves the briefing room.

     Hannah approaches Genevieve, “Would you two care to join me for an actual dinner tonight? I actually do know a few turian recipes that are pretty good.”

     “You don’t have to go out of your way for me,” Garrus says.

     “I insist,” Hannah replies.

     Genevieve nods to her mother, “That would be nice. We’ll see you then.”

     Hannah leaves the room and Genevieve and Garrus are the last ones out.    

     “You don’t think this is a one way trip do you?”

     Genevieve looks slightly up to Garrus who has a worried expression, “If it is, we have to trust that the galaxy can drive back the reapers. At least…we’re on this mission together.”

     “Yeah, I would have really been pissed if you went off on a suicide mission without me,” he grins.

     “Would never dream of it, Garrus.”

     They exit the room and head towards the Normandy that still rests on the surface of the planet.

#

Thanks again and read to everyone again soon!

~Timothy S Purvis

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