Mass Effect 4: New Masters, Chapter 1

(A little disclaimer: still learning ins and outs of the formatting with the blog here . . . for something that is built around the idea of posting writing, the “un-formatting” of what I’ve written is a bit frustrating. Anyone with tips on formatting or maybe what software for writing in before hand would be helpful. Currently using free version of evernote so that I can work on the story on my phone, my tablet, and my PC at will and when ideas come to me, then copy and paste to here. Formatting doesn’t carry over. Trying to format within this is undone as well. Hard breaks (“Enter” key) gives me my indentations but I don’t need those extra blank lines. This isn’t a film script . . . though that might be an easier format . . . but whatever. May just go with it as you see it now if I get no workable tips… ENJOY!)

Chapter 1

A pair of full and soft lips found Commander Shepard’s own. Despite all the pain coursing through his body, he allowed himself the brief extra effort in pain that accompanied the pleasure of Miranda Lawson’s mouth. Shepard’s hand found its way to the back of Miranda’s head and pressed her to him harder, the burned fingers weaving into the brunette’s thick, dark hair. She encircled her arms around him, ignoring his blood covered armor, as she drew him to her in response. Shepard ignored the pain in his ribs. The moment of enjoyment, hinting at even further blissful moments in the near future, sidelining any other perceptions attempting to intrude on the Alliance officer’s mind. For the first time in a long time, Shepard felt calm, his mind at ea–

“Alright, you two, there’s other people in your room here, ya know,” laughed Alliance Admiral David Anderson.

“Yeah, and I’m having enough trouble with my stomach as it is with some of this survival ration shit. Don’t need a crap ton of sappiness to choke down with it,” C-Sec Commander Bailey added with a knowing smile. “But at least I only have to see the good looking half of it,” he tacked on, tapping at his new visual accessory with a laugh.

“Why Commander Bailey, I’m flattered,” Shepard replied.

“Ha ha, Shepard. If you were the good half, I’d finish what the Reapers started and gouge out my other eye.”

“Ouch,” the commander said.  Turning to Anderson, he added,”And, sorry, sir,” with a mock salute. He lay back down on the table turned hospital bed, his breathing slightly labored. Miranda smiled and found a rag to wet with a nearby bottle of water and began cleaning the blood from Shepard’s face.

“Easy, Shepard. Let me take care of you for once,” she said.

Shepard looked into the eyes of the beautiful woman whose side he had fought by in stopping the collectors from harvesting humans and more recently ending her father’s experiments, in collusion with the Illusive Man, to use Reaper technology on humans. Of all the loves he had had, all the romances that had come and gone, he knew now that the woman wiping the cold cloth across his lips and then readying another container of medi-gel was his perfect fit. He smiled. She smiled back and rested her free hand on his shoulder.

“I can’t believe you made it,” Miranda almost whispered, as if saying it too loudly would be to risk the reality of it.

“Me either,” Shepard agreed. “Saren and Sovereign, the collectors, Reaper war and the Illusive Man . . .” He was silent for a while, thinking about all battles, all the cities and worlds destroyed by the Reapers, and most of all, the friends lost along the way. Then the Alliance soldier, and natural leader in him, started to take over the thinking processes. “You come all this way by yourself? Any word from the rest of the crew?” he asked her.

“Some of them are in the other room. Joker is on the Normandy. So are Tali and the engineering crew, hard at work on what repairs can be done at the moment. And it was all I could do to keep Ms. Allers off the station. She said that if I find you alive, you owe her another . . . good exclusive,” Miranda said, giving Shepard a questioning look. “Care to explain that one?”

Shepard shrugged. “I give her interviews, she get’s big ratings because she’s the only one who has direct access with me and anyone on the Normandy.”

“Sure that’s all there is to it?”

He figured it was best not to bring up the reporter’s advances on him, that had been quickly turned down. One thing he had learned from his various relationships: which were real and which were based on taking advantage of others. Shepard figured most reporters generally fell into that latter category.

“Yes ma’am,” Shepard said, raising a hand in salute. Miranda smacked the hand down with a shake of her head and a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth.

“You’re impossible,” she laughed.

“I really am,” Shepard replied, smiling. “But what about my favorite doctor? Chakwas could get me patched right back up and free you from playing nursemaid.”

“She’s there and waiting. We’ll get you to her as soon as I think you’re ready to move.”

Shepard nodded his head in acquiescence.

“What about everyone that was planet side?” Anderson asked from the other table, beginning to try and sit himself up, Bailey offering assistance.

“Haven’t heard anything,” Miranda answered.

Shepard lurched upwards, pain racking his body, and contorting his features as he looked at her intently.

“Nothing?” he and Anderson asked in worried unison.

“Easy, love,” Miranda said, putting her hands lightly on Shepard’s chest to lower him back down. “The Normandy’s communications are shot to hell right now. We literally haven’t heard anything and that Traynor girl hasn’t come up for air trying to fix that. Last I heard through my own ship was just that whatever you did up here had worked. Reapers were dying in mid-battle, on land and in space. It appears all Reaper forces were destroyed on the spot as the blast hit them. The coalition you brought together has plenty of survivors. There’s just no telling how many or who right now. But whoever they are, they’re all going to owe you and the rest of the Alliance, big time.”

Shepard nodded, the look of contentment returning to his face. He turned to Bailey. “What’s the status of the Citadel’s communications?”

“Just as bad, I’m afraid. The Reapers locked down so many systems with their proprietary bullshit that I’m surprised the few things we have working are working- life support and backup lights to name a couple of the very few. Can’t even tell you who our visitors are until I get all up close and personal with them.”

“Visitors?” Shepard asked.

“Yeah. Ms. Lawson and your other friends out there aren’t the only ones on the station, now. A bigger crew crashed a shuttle into the station just after the Normandy arrived. Could be they were damaged and lost control, simple and innocent. Could be mercs and pirates already looking for spoils of war.”

“We’ll go check it out,” Shepard said, finally righting himself on the table.

“The hell you will, Commander,” Anderson said. He shook his head. “You’re in no condition to take a stroll through the park . . . if we still have any to stroll- never mind fight. Ms. Lawson,” he said.

“Yes, Admiral?”

“I know you’re not Alliance, so I can’t order you, but I’ve seen your files and I know your work. So I’m asking you to take a team to investigate this unknown group. I’ll trust your judgment in how to deal with them.”
Shepard looked past Miranda to his old friend and superior. Anderson held up a hand signaling for the commander to back down. Shepard paused, then nodded his head in acceptance. Then he looked at Miranda and cupped her cheek with his hand. “You be careful,” he said, and pulled her to him for a deep, passionate kiss that pulled a slight moan out of Miranda that only Shepard heard.

“I will, Shepard. Don’t worry. I’ll take Zaeed and EDI. Javik and Liara can stay here and help watch after things.”

“So they all made it . . . the others . . .” Shepard trailed off, his eyes lowering to his up turned and ravaged hands.

“We’ll find them, love. Trust me.” Miranda gave Shepard a soft squeeze of the hands and then turned and left. She exited the room. A few moments later, Javik tentatively stepped in. The sole survivor of the Prothean race, who had battled the Reapers in the previous cycle, some fifty-thousand years ago, surveyed his latest battleground and saw Shepard. They locked eyes and nodded in unison as Javik was pushed aside by the more excited Liara.

“Shepard!” she yelled with a relieved laugh.

“Good to see you, too, Liara,” Shepard said with a smile.

* * * *

Miranda took point, maneuvering through the wreckage and reconfigured layout of the Citadel. Zaeed followed, back to her right, and EDI took up the rear to the left. Miranda looked down at her omni-tool.

“What’ve we got, Lawson? Bailey’s scanner feeds showing anything new?” Zaeed asked.

“Not really. It is a decent sized group. Eight of them, if the readings can be trusted. Not moving too fast, but who could in this place now?”

“Well, let’s hope they aren’t looking for a fight. I’m runnin’ low on clips,” the battle-scarred mercenary replied.

“And no grenades. Feel naked.”

“I am confused. How does the lack of explosive weaponry relate to feeling as if one has no clothing?” the synthetic EDI asked as the team continued.

“It’s just an expression, EDI,” Miranda answered. “It’s a feeling of being exposed, of not having what you feel you need in a given situation.”

“I see. It’s obvious that there are still things I have to learn to fully understand what being human means,” the AI traveling in its female body said.

“I’m sure Joker will help you out,” Zaeed quipped.

“Jeff has been very helpfu–”

“Get down!” Miranda yelled. The small team dove for cover as a variety of gunfire rained down on them.

“What the fuck?” Zaeed asked, peering around the edge of a raised platform that held the remains of what had once been a large sculpture.

“Vorcha,” Miranda answered across the hall from him, crouching inside the entrance of a small shop of some kind.

“And Cerberus bastards, from the looks of it,” Zaeed added. Miranda rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“Confirmed,” came EDI’s voice from an unseen location.

“Scum teaming up with vermin. Why am I not surprised?” Miranda asked, ducking out and firing off a few rounds at the enemy. There was a muffled cry and the clatter of an armored body hitting the floor.

“That’s one,” Miranda said.

“EDI, watch my six,” Zaeed said.

“Affirmative,” she answered.

“Yaagghhhh!” Zaeed roared, charging out from his cover, gun in each hand. He laid down a wall of fire as he ran forward, closing the distance with the enemy, taking a few of the poorly trained vorcha down. EDI shadowed him for half the distance, popping off shots of her own, but broke right when he slid back to cover to the left. Miranda provided suppressive fire, keeping any would be enemy snipers from taking their shots.

“Two more down on my count,” Zaeed called.

“I have injured two as well, though the severity of the wounds is unknown,” EDI offered.

“Well that evens the odds just a litt–”
There was a crackle of static and then a whispering voice,”Captain Mastoon, send in the reinforcements! We are facing heavy resistance!” hissed one of the remaining vorcha.

“Kwirlex, where is Smith?”

“Dead, Captain. Send the rest or we’ll never take the Citadel!”

“Damn it! Heading to your location now. Brace for impact.”

Miranda, EDI, and Zaeed all exchanged surprised looks. “Impact?” Miranda asked.

Zaeed’s eyes widened, his head swiveling from side to side, scanning floor, walls, and ceiling, looking all around in rapid fluidity. “Boarding darts!” he yelled.

“The hell is a–?” Miranda began.

Before the question could even be finished, an answer was provided. Two large shafts slammed through the ceiling, sharp tips of the enemy vessels piercing the Citadel’s hull with deafening metal on metal screeching explosions, a feat unthinkable had the Citadel’s true defensive measures been up and running. The darts drove through the bulkhead with no regard for what lay on the other side. That was unfortunate for the vorcha Kwirlex. One boarding dart seemed almost aimed at him, crushing its way directly into the floor on the other side of his torso. Blood erupted from the creature, adding a new coat of paint to the craft that was now dropping ramps from two sides and raising doors for a new wave of enemies to pour forth.

“Oh shit,” EDI exclaimed.

“Fall back!” Miranda ordered under a new barrage of gunfire. Her two companions took little time to debate the command, using up the last of their thermal clips as they ducked and dodged their way back down the hallway they had come.

* * * *

“I’ve heard enough. Javik, let’s go,” Shepard said, taking his finger off the communicator in his right ear.

“Yes, Commander,” was all the Prothean said and grabbed his weapons.

Shepard felt Liara watching him as he dragged himself off the table and limped over to Bailey’s cache of weapons and picked up the M-15 Vindicator and an alien shotgun that caused him to smile and raise an eyebrow. The commander looked at Bailey as he picked up the Geth plasma shotgun.

“Hey, that’s your doing, Shepard,” Bailey said, raising his hands in mock defense. “When you worked that deal with the salarian, trading those ancient artifacts for C-Sec getting access to his high level weapons, that was part of the last shipment we got.”

“I’m not complaining,” Shepard laughed, slapping heat dissipating thermal clips in place.

“Shepard,” came Liara’s voice, her hand on his back as he fitted a new omni-tool onto the makeshift armor he had pulled together.

“Liara,” he replied.

“You can’t.”

“You know what I can’t do is sit on my ass and listen to my crew- my friends- fight for their lives.” He paused, looking down at the young 109 year old, blue-skinned, asari beauty who still caused strong feelings to increase the beat of his heart just a touch faster. He held the backs of his fingers against her cheek. “Liara, you know I’ve already died once and almost died here to save them all before. I haven’t changed. That’s something you and I both know. So either grab a weapon and come with me and Javik, or stay and help Anderson’s old ass catch up in the healing process.”

“Hey, I’m right here, Shepard,” Anderson complained in mock protest.

“Sorry, I thought your hearing was worse than that by now, Admiral,” Shepard said, raising his hand in salute that was simultaneously mocking and conveyed the respect the commander truly felt for his friend and mentor. Liara looked to the admiral and then to Bailey and his young helper, Kenny. Bailey waived her on.

“Go on, Ms. T’Soni. We’ve got this area covered.”

Liara looked at Shepard as she blindly grabbed a heavy pistol off the table.

“Wouldn’t be the same without you, Liara,” Shepard said with a smile. “Move out,” he added, motioning with his gun to both Liara and Javik. The two aliens nodded and hustled out the door with Shepard, only a slight limp now in his step, right behind them. “Maintain radio silence. No need to tip off the enemy if they’re listening,” Shepard said as he left Bailey’s safe room behind.

* * * *

Miranda felt debris pelting her more consistently as the enemy forces closed in on her squad’s location. She checked her ammo for the tenth time but it still had not miraculously regenerated itself this time either. “Damn it!”

“Is that how you greet me, now?” Shepard asked, ducking down next to her, Javik and Liara behind him, splitting off to pair up with Zaeed and EDI. Shepard and his newly arrived team each unloaded extra thermal clips to their comrades, much to their surprise and relief.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Miranda asked, shocked and pissed, but still taking the offered godsend nonetheless. “I told you to stay and heal at the stronghold.”

“Yeah, about that,” Shepard said, taking a quick peak out at the creeping vorcha and Cerberus organization soldiers on the battlefield. He quickly rose, flicking a switch on his gun and firing freezing rounds of ammunition into the fray. Four enemy were hit, two completely frozen in place, the other two losing an arm and a gun, respectively, to the cryo upgrade’s effect. Four targeted shots later and Shepard was ducking back down with four fewer enemies on the other side of the wall that protected him and Miranda.

“Jesus, Shepard! I barely had time to take a breath!”

“I have that effect on the ladies,” he said with a smile. Miranda smacked his shoulder.

“What happened to bleeding all over a make shift hospital bed?” she asked him.

“Um, I got better?” he answered.

“Obviously, but how this quickly?”

“Cortexiphan?” he suggested and laughed. Miranda rolled her eyes. “Mods from a certain Cerberus Shepard-rebuilder then?”

“You are feeling better,” she said.

“Much. But that doesn’t make our odds in the here and now a lot better. We need to continue to pull back but take every chance to pick off more of these bastards as we go. If we’re lucky, they press the advantage they think they have and fall for the tactic.”

“And if we’re not lucky?”

“Then it doesn’t work and we die,” Shepard said nonchalantly.

“Oh, simple as that?” Miranda asked, shaking her head.

“It’s not so bad, really. Hell, they have people that can put you back together now, haven’t you heard?”

“Do tell.”

“And,” Shepard said, leaning in conspiratorially,”some of them are pretty damn hot,” he added with a wink.

“Oh god,” Miranda said. She looked back out at the opponents. The gunfire had waned slightly. “Here’s our window,” she said.

“Yeah, reloading. Okay . . . let’s move!” Shepard yelled to the entire group. They complied without question, the plan having been explained to Javik and Liara on the way and in turn they relayed it to the others, though with quite a bit less conversation than Shepard and Miranda had needed.
Shots poured out from the team of six and human and vorcha fell as Shepard and crew retreated. They made their way down the hall connecting the main room they had just left to the door leading to the next major area still intact, to some degree, of the Citadel. Shepard located the lock and held his omni-tool up to it. The device scanned the lock and Shepard waited for the green light indicating it had been hacked open. Instead, a red flash and an unpleasant alarm buzzed at him.

“Fuckin’ hell!” Zaeed yelled from his corner of cover. “What’d you do, Shepard, break it when you came through to save our asses?”

“Looks like,” he replied. “EDI: give it a shot. We’ll buy you time,” Shepard said. EDI nodded and sprinted over to the door as the commander and his team unleashed all the fury of their arsenal. After what felt like an eternity, Shepard heard EDI call from behind him. “Shepard, this door has physically malfunctioned. It will require repair before it will be able to open again.”

“How long, EDI?” Shepard asked.

“With the correct tools and replacement parts, it would be a simple task to–”

“EDI!” Miranda shouted.

“I can’t do it.”

“Damn it!” Shepard swore. He looked down the hallway, dark with only the eerily appropriate red auxiliary lighting, with close to twenty angry men and vorcha hesitantly closing the distance between them, brandishing their weapons now in a more threatening manner, sensing their impending victory. “What I wouldn’t give for just a couple grenades,” he thought out loud.

“Tell me about it,” Zaeed agreed.

Shepard looked into the eyes of his crew. “Make every shot count!” He turned back to the enemy, raised his assault rifle in one hand, his shotgun in the other and spewed hell down the hallway. The commander saw Liara moving to a central area, her biotic energies beginning to course through her body.

“Liara?” he asked.

“All out of clips, Shepard. I’ll shield the rest of you as long as I can!”
The vorcha were now rushing in, seeing their opponents’ situation deteriorating rapidly.

“No!” Shepard roared.

“What choice do we have?” Liara asked as a vorcha began to pound on the outside of her biotic shield with the butt of his gun. Wave upon wave of fire rained down on the dome of purple and white energy and everyone could see its containment area gradually shrinking. It would be gone completely in very short order.
Shepard looked to the rest of the squad. If there was another option they could not see it either. They kept firing.

“We could . . . “ Shepard trailed off, looking around for another weapon, a hidden escape route, anything. A Cerberus armored engineer set down a small briefcase sized box and began tapping at a control panel on the side. His head promptly exploded into a fine mist from a precision blast that had come from behind the enemy’s lines.

“Well, you could let the damn cavalry come to your aid once in a while instead of the other way around, Shepard,” came a smooth and familiar turian voice over Shepard’s communicator.

“Garrus?” he asked.

“I’m thinking of reclaiming the Archangel name, actually,” came the friendly voice again, as another enemy was cleanly dispatched from an unseen attacker.

The vorcha and Cerberus soldiers suddenly realized what was happening and turned around to find a new force, eight deep and guns blazing, slicing into their ranks from behind.

“Woo! Take it!” James Vega shouted enthusiastically causing a malestrom of chaotic destruction with rapid thundering rounds from his Revenant assault rifle into the scattering enemy. Half a dozen were cut down in seconds.

A new source of biotic energy flung a handful into the air, smashing them into the walls before ripping them apart, limb from limb, in a grotesque display of power that could only have come from one biotic in the known galaxy.

“Jack,” Shepard said with smile.

“Fuck yeah, Commander,” the biotic, once named Subject Zero by unethical Cerberus scientists, answered.

More gunfire erupted from a handful of other locations and the would-be  pillagers of the Citadel were destroyed, caught in the crossfire.

“Shepard, you’re alive?” It was the excited voice of Ashley Williams.

Before Shepard had a chance to scan for any survivors or locate the source of the voice, he was slammed into by an Alliance-armored brunette who nearly cracked is already aching ribs with an overjoyed embrace.

“Agh. Not for long if you keep that up, Ash,” Shepard answered with a laugh as the astonishingly attractive Spectre and Alliance soldier slid off him and backed up a few steps, a smile dominating every other feature of her face at the moment.

“Holy shit, I can’t believe it,” Williams said, staring at Shepard and shaking her head. “How many lives do you get?”

“At least one more, apparently,” he answered smiling back at his old companion. He looked beyond her and saw Garrus trotting up, sniper rifle in hand, followed by Jack, Vega, the krogan Wrex and Grunt, and a large red synthetic Geth platform he was not familiar with. Vega caught the commander’s look and gave him the thumbs up.

“That’s Heavy Metal,” James offered.

“Uh huh,” Shepard said crossing his arms and giving the hugely muscled soldier a look.

“Yeah, that’s the best the dumb jock could come up with,” Jack said, coming up to slap Vega on the back of the head with a mischievous smile.

“And you did better?” Shepard asked.

“You bet your tight ass, I did,” Jack said.

Miranda gave the tattooed biotic a mild glare. She had come to expect that attitude, and Jack’s affection for her lover, but that didn’t mean she had to like it. Jack saw the look and rolled her eyes.

“Aw pull the stick out of your tight ass, cheerleader,” Jack cracked at Miranda. Miranda paused, took a deep breath, and let it out. “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Jack asked, trying to further provoke her target into argument. The deadly stare Miranda cast Jack’s way was cut off by the two massive krogan coming up and congratulating their comrades.

“Another glorious Shepard-led battle!” Grunt exclaimed. Wrex nodded in approval of the statement as he grabbed Shepard’s hand and shook it.

“Glad to see you’re still causing the enemy to shake in their books, Shepard,” the de facto leader of the krogan race said.

“I don’t know about that right now. Another few seconds and I’d have been reduced to nothing but my boots,” Shepard said, laughing. He looked around, surveying the carnage in the shadowy gloom of the reformed Citadel. “So, now that all this mess is taken care of, someone want to tell me how bad it is out there? I’ve heard a little from Miranda. The Reapers were defeated? In space and on the ground?”

Grunt looked up from wiping his gun clean. “Let’s just say that you can now officially be called Commander Shepard, killer of all Reapers.”

“You’re as subtle with words as you are with your fighting, kid,” Wrex said, giving Grunt a sidelong glance and shaking his head with a smile. “As it should be with any true krogan.”

Shepard looked from Grunt to each of his team and saw spreading smiles on every single face that could do so. Even the geth’s eye seemed to glow a bit brighter for a few seconds. Shepard returned the smile and found a nearby surface to sit down on. “And our forces? What’s the state of our coalition? How many are left? What is everyone doing? What’s being done with the Reaper remains? Does anyone have a line of communication to Hackett?”

The last question caused one person to stiffen as those preparing for an oncoming crash. Ashley looked to the ceiling with a guilty face.

“Ash?”

“Uh, I might have had some interference on my line when the admiral might have been giving me orders to do something. Funny thing about that energy you unleashed.”

“Ash?” Shepard repeated with more emphasis and a hard stare.

Ashley rolled her head around on her shoulders and then dropped her chin to her chest.

“He may have said that the Mass Relays were also destroyed and he was worried about all the alien races being more or less stranded with their military surrounding or actually on Earth. He was about to order me to do something.”

“What?”

“Well, it wasn’t to come find you, so I didn’t give a damn!”

Shepard held up his hands in a calming gesture. “Easy, Ash. I’m not going to court-martial you for bringing in the team to save our lives. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ll let Admiral Hackett know you did the right thing. You were just following orders, afterall.”

“How exactly?”

“By responding to the coded distress signal I sent you at that exact moment you lost contact with Hackett. Remember?” Shepard said with an overly obvious wink that drew a laugh from his surrounding crew.

Ashley picked up on the line and nodded. “Of course that’s what I did,” she said with a smile.

“So let’s go check on Bailey and Anderson and get some of this sorted out. We need to find out if it’s as bad as Hackett was saying. No Mass Relays is not a good thing. Not from an Earth’s safety perspective- as long as we keep an eye on Aria’s people, definitely- but from a rest of the galaxy perspective. Who’s protecting Tuchanka, Palaven, Thessia, Sur’Kesh, Rannoch, and all the other home worlds or colony worlds? They have some of their military back home, but the majority of their fleets and a sizable chunk of their ground forces were brought to Earth for the final showdown with the Reapers. We don’t need a massive power vacuum to destroy the victory we’ve earned today.”

“That you earned,” Miranda added, pointedly, coming over and resting a hand on Shepard’s shoulder.

He lifted his own hand and rested it on top of hers and looked up at her, locking eyes and smiling for only a moment. He turned back to the rest. “It’s too many questions, too many unknowns, and we need to get in contact with whatever leadership is left to fill in what blanks they can. Let’s go.”

Shepard stood up and his team followed.

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Mass Effect 4: New Masters, Prologue

Prologue
     A fertile world was slowly illuminated by a rising red sun.  Light reflected off of sharpened blades and polished gun barrels.  Dark ships flew in formation in and out of wispy clouds.  A larger ship broke off from the group and slowly descended to a landing pad.  The asymmetrical craft lowered a ramp and a dark gray being, clad in an odd body armor, made his way down to the ground to meet the planet’s representative.  He reached the bottom and greeted the creature with two clenched fists thrust before him.  The being waited, staring up with four yellow eyes at the huge alien towering over him. Twice as many eyes peered out of a massive skull, adorned with dark red skin and razor teeth showing from an open triangular mouth.  After a moment, it raised two fists in the same fashion, bringing them to a rest only inches away from the other’s fists.
     “Welcome to Parnack, Reaper herald,” said the yahg.  “My army awaits your command.  What are your orders?”
     Steady eyes surveyed the troops in the distance, for a moment, absently noting a small scuffle among the front lines.
     “Orders, General?” the collector asked. “Fate requires no orders. Fate leads one to their destiny. Fate is leading your people to their destiny now.”
     “Destiny brought about through the tools of your dead masters.”
     “Some of it, yes. Some is from those even older.  The source does not matter. The use does.  My dead masters . . . my imperfect slavers used most of this, don’t forget, and they met their end anyway.  Despite all of their knowledge, all of this superior technology, there were things they missed.  Mistakes were made.  They could not see me.  They could not see the strength of the humans. Their end I saw all too well.”
     The yahg stood silently, for a moment and then said,”It was your masters’ fate.”
     The collector paused, looking past the general, to his army.  What had begun as a small scuffle had broken out into a full on brawl with two dead Yahg already being dragged away, trails of blood darkening the dusty field.  The general followed the stare of the collector and smiled.  His toothy grin was followed by a chest slightly puffed out in pride.  The former Reaper servant met the yahg’s gaze and they shared the slightest moment of understanding mixed with approval.
     “It is time for the universe to have new masters,” the collector answered.
     The monstrous yahg nodded, turning and marching towards the assembled troops waiting in the distance.  The collector watched the yahg as it began to speak to its warriors.  Then he turned and ascended back into a ship not seen before in the current cycle.  It blasted off, disappearing into the darkening clouds of a gathering storm front.

Mass Effect 3: Believe . . . explanation/rationale and ME4 preview

 

I felt that, even though it is painfully obvious why, I needed to give a bit of an explanation for writing MY version of how things should have gone at the end of Mass Effect 3. Let’s assume I’m like most of the 66,000+ fans of “Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3” and various other “Retake” movement pages. I’ve spent countless hours completely absorbed by this series. I’ve come to regard it as a near masterpiece in game play and even more so in story writing. “Near” because of the terrible ending they (EA or Bioware, let the conspiracies run wild) gave us. When I finished the game with the first ending I chose, I was so shocked that I immediately loaded the autosave point that was saved right at the mad dash for the beam up to the Citadel. I chose a different path, literally. Same ending, more or less. Rage mixed with disbelief and I reloaded and went for the third ending. Same damn thing. WTF? I couldn’t imagine that this was really the case. I figured I must have made a bad decision somewhere that affected my outcome. But knowing how many choices there were throughout all three games, I decided to hit google. I did a quick search on “Mass Effect 3…” and before I could even get to the next word, google auto-populated the selection list with “ending” in the top 5 choices if I remember correctly. It didn’t take long for that to lead to me stumbling upon the “Demand” page on facebook. Two weeks after the game was released, I had beaten it and found this page. It already had over 50,000 fans. Suddenly I felt justified, righteously angry, and more importantly, not alone in my anger, disappointment, and disbelief in the sloppy, abrupt, and unbelievable ending to what I was ready to dub my favorite game ever (dethroning the long reigning king: Betrayal at Krondor). Those last ten to twenty minutes can be so crucial . . .

I know what you’re thinking: “Skip to the end” a la Simon Pegg (if you get it, you’re now one of the cool kids, lol). So, anyway, I read the talk about upcoming DLC with a new ending, which turned into “further explanation of current ending,” which currently sits at “where the fuck is any of it?” (See “UPDATE”, below) I got tired of waiting and since I like to think of myself as a decent writer, I decided to give everyone exactly what they were “demanding.”

It didn’t take long for the ideas to fall into place, and obviously it didn’t take very long to write since I was just fixing a bad ending. When an entire universe has been created for you by a pretty damn good team already, rewriting an inexplicable bad ending is almost too easy. Throw in my near fanboy (okay, maybe not so “near” as much as . . . well, fanboy) level of interest in the game and a little creative free license, and I went head and wrote the new ending in such a way as to easily continue the franchise with a supposedly never intended Mass Effect 4. Like it or not, EA and Bioware left a huge universe on the brink of cataclysm- well, truthfully, pitched headlong into it- in the most definitive example of “Pyrrhic Victory” one could imagine. “Hooray, the Reaper threat is no more . . . and so are the Mass Relays?!” Another fantastic WTF? Yes, I left that in there. Yes I’ve already addressed that in my rough outline for my idea of Mass Effect 4. The next installment is purely my own idea and sees friends, locations, and enemies we all know and love (or hate) mixed in with new territory to explore, new foes for Shepard to take on, and even some new tech that will possibly change the balance of power in the Mass Effect galaxy.

Couple more notes on my ending- it’s based off of one of my characters. Obviously, the choices I made, the paths I took will not be exactly like most of you reading this, but hopefully it is easy enough to see where we chose differently and it will still make sense. I chose to be the male Shepard from the beginning of ME1 and have never looked back. I chose the sole-survivor, orphan, soldier background. I played 90% of the time as a Paragon. Honestly, I’ve tried going back and being pure Renegade, but I never make it very far with sticking to that. I killed Kaidan in ME1 and through multiple replays, never did anything different on that point. I just don’t like that guy, lol. Kinda whiny. I romanced every potential female in the games: Liara, Ash, Miranda, Jack. My first play through of ME3, I went with Miranda again. It worked out since the character I imported had never romanced Ash, so going down that road seemed forced, but it did cause for a sort of hilarious rejection of Liara early on since this Shepard had romanced her in ME1.

Oh, and hopefully the pictures make it obvious enough that I was trying to physically model my character after my own likeness. Didn’t have a mirror or side by side pic when I did it either. What do you think? Pretty good?

The other note is that even though it is not a game, and is written in standard fiction format, I have tried to write it in such a way as to stick to the spirit of the game. I have moments where if it were the game, hopefully you could imagine the decision choices popping up, or understand that this part or that would be a playable battle (Catalyst child fight would be the missing “boss fight”) and a couple spots that would just be badass cutscenes. Just use your imagination and you’ll probably see it easily enough. Anyway . . .

Now comes my selfish little request. I am by no means a professional author. I’ve rarely submitted anything for publication. I’ve done it twice, I think- short stories. One was published in the ol’ college alumni magazine and it actually was a sci-fi piece (that was very targeted to the audience in a pretty hilariously bad sort of way), so you could argue my percentage has been good lol. However, I have a “real job” that has nothing to do with writing (unfortunately), so this has been done in my own free time, outside of work, the gym, working on my car, working on my parents’ yard, and spending my every other weekend with my awesome 8 year-old son. (Side note: he also is a Mass Effect fan (though I have only let him play the demo of ME2) and he could not understand the ending of the game, summed up in the simple question of,”Why did Shepard want to kill himself?” I laughed a little and explained “That’s how the company decided to write the ending.” On the inside I think I cried a bit. Even a child of eight years (nine on Thursday, holy crap!) could see that the ending was obviously bad.) That is the same environment in which Mass Effect 4 will be written, so don’t expect it immediately. And since I can’t and won’t claim any rights to anything related to Mass Effect, since I have no desire for a lawsuit (though I’m sure there is still a way they could get me), I will not sell this re-writing of the ending of Mass Effect 3, and I will not sell the writing of my vision for Mass Effect 4. I will give it out for free. I WILL ask that if you like the new ending I’m submitting to you, the fans (and Bioware, if you’re looking for some untapped talent, by chance 😉 ), that you show your appreciation by supporting my caffeine addiction that fuels my writing through maybe a small donation into my paypal account (rochomeb@hotmail.com) with a little note of feedback on the new ending. Keep in mind, I’m only asking. Not demanding (doh!- no shot at the FB page intended). If you just want to drop me a line here on this new blog with feedback, sans any donation, that will be appreciated as well.

Just a little “bonus material”. I juggled subtitle ideas for the new ending. Here are some of the ones I ultimately let go of: “Horse of a different color”– way too UN-serious, but it tickled me. “Back door, huh? Good idea”– StarWars fans probably already had that one running though their heads as they read my ending. Fun reference, but again, not very serious. “Believe”– . . . honestly, this is what I was going with until five seconds before I saved and printed the first draft for my brother to read and give me feedback on (he thinks “it’s too happy”). I had a really good rationalization for it and everything, I swear. But then I just had a memory dump or something and I couldn’t remember why I had chosen that. So, I went with the new idea that popped into my head, which was “Unspoken”. Then later I remembered my train of thought that had led up to “Believe” and chanced it back. I won’t go into that explanation unless you ask. One more bit on subtitles, and this is just to whet your appetite for my Mass Effect 4 story. It is subtitled : New Masters. Not that any of the games had subtitles, but how else can I preview that new story for you? I’m not hollywood. I’m not going to throw all the juiciest parts at you and then give you no reason/desire to actually read it when it comes out… the first chapter of which is near complete and I’ll post by the end of the week if I’m lucky… maybe next Monday.  I don’t know, “Mass Effect Mondays” sound like a “thing”?  Let me know.  It MIGHT keep me on a writing schedule. right . . .

So, there’s my half-assed explanation/justification and the new ending we demanded 🙂 I’m satisfied. Are you?

UPDATE: Just finished playing through the new DLC endings. I definitely hate them less, I like the actual differences in each with the actual resolution, the “take control” resolution with Shepard speaking is pretty interesting. The added dialogue with the Catalyst child that helps “ease” the damage, mainly to the Mass Relays, (it will quickly be repaired) if you choose the “destroy” ending is a much needed fix (that, like I said, I deal with in ME4 since they still don’t explain how, if they can’t create Mass Relays of their own, they can go even as far as repairing them). Also, the ability to reject the choices is great since it actually makes it possible (theoretically) to have more games down the line (though, just ending it with the rejection and Catalyst child walking off in a tantrum was weak). Still, I wasn’t completely thrilled with any of them and I’ve already outlined ME4 and started an outline for ME5 (Yep!) and there’s still no commitment to extending the game series despite a hint to that effect in the new end game message from the Bioware team. So I will continue writing as I can and put it out there when I can.

Mass Effect 3: Believe

***This is fan fiction.  It is not being sold.  I make no claims to any rights to the Mass Effect universe, characters, locations, etc.  Don’t sue 🙂 ****

Shepard stared down at the shimmering visage of a boy. Exploding Alliance ships made desperate suicide runs against Reapers in the distance, a silent battle playing out far beyond the shielded glass of the Citadel. The commander, humanity’s last hope weighing on his shoulders, looked up at the three paths laid out before him: control, destroy, or . . . synthesis. None of the options appealed to him. While all held the promise of a victory on some level, they also held a bitter defeat.

“I . . . I don’t know,” he thought, repeating his vocalized sentiment from earlier. “This doesn’t seem right. Shouldn’t there be some other choice? Damn it!” He turned to his right. “If I’m damned, if the rest of the galaxy is damned no matter the choice, why the hell should the Reapers get to survive, controlled or not? “

Shepard gritted his teeth against the pain of his many wounds, faintly aware of blood glistening down his left side. He clenched his fist in determination, his trigger finger absently caressing the small sliver of metal that transferred desired outcome into directed action. He stepped forward.

“Think about what you are doing,” cried the self-proclaimed Catalyst. “The cycle will only return.”

“I have,” Shepard replied with another pained step towards the Reapers’ end.

“Have you?” asked a new voice.

The survivor of Akuze blinked, imagining the hallucination would vanish with renewed concentration on his end task.

“I will not leave so easily, Commander,” said the Prothean voice.

“What- how are you-?”

“Your mind has been altered, as you know, by our beacons. The chance discovery of Javik was a bonus. His contact with you was an important bridge in my process. It allowed me to tag along, as it were, actively processing your consciousness instead of merely watching.”

“How long have you been in there?”
“Since the beginning.”

“Eden Prime? The first time?”

“Yes.”

“But you’ve only now-”

“Been completed. Part of me- my programming- was transferred in each of your contacts, further developed and pieced together by your Asari friend’s bonding with you.”

“Liara . . .”

“Yes. Only recently, on Thessia, was the final piece received. This was an eventuality we predicted.”

“What is?”

“Finding the Reapers’ creator. Realizing that a greater intelligence, facing its own demise, might use one of the galaxy’s oldest arguments to save itself.”

“And that is?”

“The false premise.”

“There IS another option.”

“Yes, and your subconscious realization of that is what triggered me.”

“You know something that can help? Another option?”

“Yes. Long did we study the Reapers and their code, during our cycle 50,000 of your years ago. In cracking the programming of those you call the Keepers, on this Citadel, we saw a possible answer. We had no fear of altering them, but altering the Reapers and leaving them alive-”

“Would have been too great a risk,” Shepard finished.

“Yes. But more importantly, we never were able to complete the delivery device to even try.”

“The Crucible?”

“Again: yes,” said the mental projection to Shepard.

“So the Reapers and . . . Keepers, have programming. Written by the same . . . maker.”

Blood tickled at his eyes. His vision was blurring. More voices entered into the commander’s head.

“And any decent programmer . . .” said Tali’s voice.

“Would leave a back door . . .” continued Kasumi.

“To allow for termination of potential conflicts of interest, Shepard-Commander,” finished Legion.

Shepard wiped the blood away from his face with a hand half covered by a tattered glove. He looked up at the Prothean. “They have a kill switch.”

“That is correct.”

“How do I throw it?”
“Through your Crucible. Your adversary is very clever. Before you passed out, where were you?”

“At the console.”

“Doing what?”

“Trying to figure out why the Crucible wasn’t firing.”

“And what had you learned?”

“Nothing. I only had a few seconds before . . .”

“Before he raised the platform, taking you away from the very instrument that will bring about his end.”

“But I have no idea how it works. I’m no engineer. I’m a soldier. I blow up what I don’t understand.”
“You give yourself far too little credit, Commander Shepard, but the larger point is made. You do not have time or the required skills to activate the Reaper code that will bring them down. What would you normally do if you did not have the requisite knowledge on a topic?”

Shepard dropped his gun.

“Find someone who does.”

The Prothean vanished. Shepard wheeled around with renewed energy but also with renewed pain. He turned back to the platform that had lifted him up and came as close to a run as he could. He held his hand up to the communicator in his ear.

“Admiral Hackett?”

“Shepard! What the hell is going on? The Citadel has opened all the way, but still nothing.”
“I need you to patch me through to one of my team.”

“What’s going on, Commander?”

“There’s a Reaper kill code, but I need someone who knows programming and Reaper tech to figure it out.

“No!” wailed the Catalyst from behind. “How do you-?” The figure raised a hand and Shepard was frozen in mid stride. “You will not do this!”

A glowing energy enveloped Shepard as he felt a presence take over. He watched as his own hand reached out towards the Catalyst child. He felt his vocal chords being used by someone else.

“You are correct, Catalyst, he will not. Not alone, at least. We shall help.” Shepard felt a tremor rise from the pit of his stomach, flow up to his shoulder and blast through his arm, firing a blinding beam of intense energy at his target.

“You vile Protheans!” cried the Catalyst, the energy crushing him to the ground.

“We prayed to long dead gods that this day would come, Catalyst. We were ready. You underestimate organics to your own folly.”

The energy ceased. Shepard’s body, and his vision, returned to his control. The Catalyst was gone, only a plume of smoke twisting upward to mark its death.

“Now go, Shepard!” came the Prothean voice, only in his head this time. “The Reapers yet live!”

“Shepard!”

“I’m here, Admiral, and I need you to connect me to . . . EDI.”

“Done.”

“EDI?”

“Yes, Shepard?” came his synthetic crew member’s sensual voice.

“I need you to connect with a console I’m going to give you access to. You’re going to use it to interface with the Citadel.”

“To what end, Commander?”

“The Protheans found a kill code in the Reaper programming. It’s in the Crucible . . . somewhere.”

“Understood. Awaiting connection.”

Shepard made his way back to the platform. It automatically lowered to its original location at the command terminal. Shepard’s fingers tapped quickly on its control panel.

“Find it, EDI!”

“Accessing.”

Shepard waited for what seemed an eternity, yet passed in only seconds. He looked around. Behind him, Anderson’s still form lay slumped over where he and Shepard had spent his last moments, sharing a view of Earth. The commander looked down, face contorting in barely checked rage. He turned away and looked to the stars. Outside the battle raged on. He saw a Turian dreadnought fire a killing blow on a full sized Reaper. Hope lived.

“Code detected, Shepard. Orders?”

“Kill these bastards, EDI!”

“With pleasure, Commander.”

The terminal flashed a brilliant purple mixed with blue. Shepard crumpled to the floor.

* * * * * *

The ruins of London sheltered Ashley Williams from gunfire. The onslaught of fire spewed from the twisted and Reaper-ized form of a lost Turian. It was supplying covering fire for the even more nightmarish Brute. From her cover, the most recently christened Spectre saw her allies in prime positions. She gave the orders.

“Vega: grenade! Garrus: attack!”

Ashley rose as the last command left her lips, turning and firing on the Brute. Time slowed. Ashley felt an explosion of pain in her shoulder, saw her target taking hits from her weapon as a grenade expertly landed in its gaping maw, and grimaced, witnessing a gratuitously messy hole form in the Turian husk’s head.

Time resumed its normal pace. Ashley slammed backwards, into yet another pile of rubble, cracking her skull in the process. She vaguely heard an excited “Fuck yeah!” from Vega before blacking out.

Her head spun, but the she recognized the voice of an old friend.

“Ash. Ash, you need to wake up. Somethings happening. You’ll want to see it, I think.”

She blinked a few times before Garrus Vakarian decided to make himself not blurry. She looked up, over his armored shoulder as he and Vega pulled her, mindful of the bloody shoulder, slowly to her feet. A bright purple-blue light was rapidly expanding in the sky. Its source was where Ashley knew, but couldn’t see, the Citadel to be.

“We’re already getting reports, directly from your Admiral Hackett: the Reapers are shutting down!”

“That energy?”
“As soon as it fucking slams into those mother fuckers!” James Vega confirmed. “It’s a thing of beauty. And it’s almost here!”

Ashley found herself smiling at the vulgar excitement she’d come to expect in her newer friend and comrade in arms. She scanned the vicinity, searching.

“Three o’clock,” Garrus offered.

She turned to her right and saw a lumbering Harvester towering in the distance. The swath of energy approached and even the Reaper abomination looked about in confusion and, Ashley thought, fear. The shock wave hit. The hulking enemy erupted with an inhuman scream as it was lifted into the air and violently torn to pieces that then exploded in flames and crashed back down to the ground.

A chunk of Harvester debris rained down only a dozen meters from Williams and her companions. She tentatively crept forward to investigate. As the three approached, weapons drawn, the smoldering scrap of metal and Reaper technology vaporized right before their eyes. Ashley turned her attention to a small Krogan detachment to the south, in a pitched battle with Reaper forces. The energy rushed up from behind on the Krogan, passed them over without a scratch and turned their foes to dust. There was an audible groan from the Krogan soldiers, upset at being robbed of a glorious victory.

Ashley felt herself laugh, truly laugh, for the first time in what felt like years. Garrus and James joined her, having witnessed the scene as well. Static squalled in her ear.

“. . . tenant Commander Williams, please respond. I repeat, this is Admiral Hackett of Alliance Command, Lieutenant Commander Williams, are you there?”

Ashley tapped her communicator. “Yes sir. Alive and watching Reapers die . . . sir!”

“Thank you, Williams. That is exactly the confirmation I was looking for.”

“Sir?”

“Yes?”

“Any word from Shepard? Is the Citadel even still up there? In one piece?”

She was answered with silence. She felt a ball of emotion climbing in her throat. “Admiral?” Ashley asked, hearing her voice crack slightly.

“Williams . . . Ashley, we’ve had no response since that blast came from the Crucible. Scans indicate the Citadel is still there, but-”

“We need to get up there! He might need help.”
“Lieutenant Commander, we’ve got another issue that’s about to make this victory short lived that we need to look into as well. Since we have no idea whether Shepard made it or not, I need you to take point on this.”

Ashley looked at Garrus and James. Neither hid their looks of disgust at the Admiral’s words. She took a deep breath.

“Go ahead, Admiral. What’ve we got?”

“Good. Williams, reports are coming in that that blast from the Crucible has not only taken out the enemy . . .”

“What?” she coaxed.

“The Mass Relays have been destroyed as well.”

“What?!” she repeated, wondering for the briefest of moments how the exact same word could convey such completely different emotions and meanings.

“It’s a hell of price to pay for a victory over the Reapers . . . and we’re beginning to wonder if it might have been too high. If we should have found another-”

“No! There was no other way . . . with respect, Admiral. Shepard would have found it.”

“Of course. You’re right, but the fact remains we now have major military contingents of every major race, stranded in our solar system . . . and armed to the teeth on Earth. If word reaches them about this . . .”

She had heard enough. She understood the implications. Earth- humanity- was not out of the woods yet. She tapped her communicator, cutting off the admiral in mid-sentence. She looked to her friends.

“You catch all of that?” Ashley asked them.

“Yes ma’am,” Vega replied. Garrus only nodded.

“We’re going after Shepard,” Ashley said.

“That’s what I heard,” Vega said.

“And you won’t be doing it by yourself,” came a voice from behind.

Ashley turned to see a deadly, sexy, tattoo covered woman, glowing of biotic energy.

“Jack, glad you could make it,” Garrus said.

“What and let you save the savior by your fuckin’ self, Vakarian? Not a chance,” Jack replied. She glanced over at James. “How’s it hanging, meat head?”

“Same as it always has, if you wanna find out, chica.”

The former Subject Zero raised an eyebrow and flashed half a grin that vanished just as quickly as it appeared.

“Save it, you two,” Williams ordered with a shake of her head and quick chuckle.

Behind Jack, two Krogan jogged up.

“We heard you were over here, Williams,” stated Urdnot Wrex.

“What’s the plan?” asked a once more blood soaked Grunt.

“The plan is to get a damn ship and go get Shepard off that Crucible- Citadel- whatever the hell we’re calling it now,” Ashley answered.

Grunt pounded a fist into the palm of his other hand. “Then what are we waiting for?”

“That would be me,” came the voice of Steven Cortez over a loud speaker.

An Alliance shuttle hovered into view. “Found this little baby just looking for some attention and couldn’t turn it away. So who needs a ride?”

“Cortez? Your sorry ass is still alive?” Vega joked.

“Charming as ever, Mr. Vega. Lieutenant Commander, do we have any contact with Joker and the Normandy? I don’t think this ride will make it all the way out of atmo by itself right now, despite some help from a new Geth friend I just made.”

“We’ll work on that. Let’s find somewhere for you to land, Cortez, and then we can hash out our details.”

“Yes ma’am,” the pilot answered. “Saw a spot about 6 klicks west of here. I’ll be waiting.” The shuttle rotated and then rumbled off with an obvious rattle that would need work sooner rather than later.

“Well what the fuck are we waiting for?” asked Jack with a full grin that Ashley hoped was just a look of mischief and not the hint of evil she thought she had seen at first.

“Nothing,” the Lieutenant Commander said. “Let’s go, people.”

The two Krogans, Turian, and three humans took off across the wastelands of London, intent on either rescuing or burying a man they had come to respect, fear, and love as none they had ever known in their lives or hoped to know in what remained of them.

* * * * * *

“Shuttle London’s Orphan to Normandy, do you read? Joker, this is Cortez, do you copy? Tali, are you picking up our transmission? Liara? EDI? Damn it!”

Cortez took his finger off the interface’s communicator and sat back in his seat. “Nothing. It’s been too long and we’ve been broadcasting every 5 minutes.”

“You’re right, Steve. Guess that means we’ll go with plan B . . . provided the repairs our Geth friend-”

“Heavy Metal,” Vega interjected.

“This platform is comprised of various density substances, Vega-human, none of which-”

“Jesus, Vega, you and your nicknames,” Jack broke in.

“Can it, people,” Ashley said. “I just need an answer, Geth platform . . .”

“Heavy Metal. Say it with me: heavy-”

“Damn it, Vega, let it- him- whatever, talk,” Williams said with narrowed eyes.

Vega recognized the look of a superior officer giving an order and raised his hand to his head. “Yes, ma’am.”

“This platform- I- will accept the organic need for designation to facilitate better communication. I will answer to Heavy Metal.”

Ashley clenched her jaw and bowed her head in silence for a moment. “Heavy Metal, will your repairs get this shuttle to the Citadel?”

“Yes, Williams-human. With eighty-five percent certainty.”

“That will have to do. Punch it, Cortez,” Ashley ordered.

The shuttle’s course adjusted minimally and the Normandy’s shuttle pilot poured on the speed, hoping their synthetic ally was right.

Grunt looked over at Vega and squinted at him.

“What?” James asked.

“Heavy Metal?”

“Hey, it’s my favorite kinda music. What? You gotta a better name for him?”

Grunt shrugged and Vega looked around the cabin of the shuttle. Jack was eying him. Vega opened his hands up in question. Jack shook her head nonchalantly.

“I would’ve gone with ‘Tinman’.”

Vega looked at her for second, frozen. Then his eyes widened and his head fell back in defeat. “Damn it!”

The rest of the crew laughed, save one, as the shuttle sped off.

* * * * * *

Javik watched the two human female shapes with only a hint of suspicion. The one the Prothean warrior watched more, to his own surprise, was not EDI. He did not believe he could ever come to trust a free thinking machine, but at least he had fought with this one at his side. He had only met the Miranda Lawson woman briefly on Sanctuary. He felt something dangerous about her. His hand lay resting on his Prothean rifle, an ancient weapon in terms of years, technically, but advanced beyond any weapon carried by organics in this cycle. A soft touch brushed his shoulder. He glanced back with two right eyes at the Asari and saw her look to his gun hand. It drifted away from the deadly tool and Liara smiled. Javik almost smiled in return.

Liara had convinced him to join her, EDI, and Miranda, along with the scar-mangled human male, Zaeed, on Miranda’s ship, which had flown to a rendezvous point with the Normandy that had been prearranged before Operation Hammer. That piece of foresight had proven invaluable as the Normandy had taken what damage it had to its communications systems, rendering real-time contact impossible at the moment. Javik still found it unnerving that he should be relieved to find the ship, Joker, Tali, and the rest of the Normandy’s crew alive and no worse for wear having survived the chaotic battle with the might of the Reapers’ host above Earth.

“Odd that I should come to rely on these primitives,” the living relic thought.

Once Miranda’s ship had landed in the Normandy’s tight hangar, the warship had blasted off towards the Citadel, where only a careful search had found a serviceable docking port. Now, Javik, Zaeed, EDI, Liara, and Miranda, searched section by section of the massive station, looking for their friend and commander. Javik’s senses tingled momentarily as he walked directly behind Miranda. “Or more than a friend, for one,” he thought.

“How much bloody further ‘ave we got ta go?” Zaeed grumbled over his shoulder, as he peered through the scope of his gun, down a side hallway. The scope’s infrared ability was a saving grace. The Citadel was only running with auxiliary lighting, casting a low red light into an overwhelming darkness that made visibility stretch only a few dozen meters in the brightest direction. Enemies could be hiding in what would normally have been plain sight. The team kept up their guard as they moved.

“The Commander’s communicator signal last came from somewhere in this general area, but with all the interference from the energy wave, an exact location was not triangulated. We will have to keep searching,” answered EDI.

“Well you can stop searching, folks, cause you’re not gonna find anything you want heading that way,” came a gruff voice from behind them.

Miranda turned with the rest of the crew, weapons raised, pointing at a lone figure, carrying his own weapon, lowered at his side.

“Commander Bailey?” Miranda said, astonished.

“In the flesh. Lucky for me,” he said, adjusting a make shift eye patch, covering his right eye. A jagged scar protruded from the top and bottom of the eye patch, showing the signs of an attack in which Bailey was more than happy to have only lost his eye.

“How did you manage-”

“To survive? Barely, to tell the truth. Hell, after Cerberus took over the station so quickly, I decided something like that was not going to happen to me again. I created a safe room in a very little known location. Stocked it with food, weapons, and communication gear for myself and about five others from C-Sec. Guess me and the kid should count ourselves lucky. Supplies for five go pretty far when only two make it. Goddamned Reapers. But I’m glad it’s you guys that my tracking system picked up. Wasn’t really looking forward to having to take on a team of enemy forces by myself.”

“But you said their were two of you,” Javik said, glancing around the once pristine area which he recognized, almost, as part of the Citadel’s Presidium.

“Easy, big fella. There’s no trap. I see that look in your eye . . .s. I left him back at the safe room. Needed someone to keep a watch on the other group.”

“What other group?” Javik asked.

“The one that crashed a rickety ship into a barely useable docking area near Zakera ward . . . well, the parts of it that didn’t shift, slide, and morph to some other area since the Reapers captured my station,” Bailey answered. “Internal sensors are limited to motion tracking. Have no idea who they are. Had no idea who you all were till I saw you. I can tell you it’s a bigger group than you’ve got here. That’s it.”

Liara stepped up, her patience exhausted. “Have you tracked anyone else? We heard Admiral Anderson and Shepard had made it on board. They were the ones that activated the Crucible.”

“The Crucible, eh? Is that what you’re calling that new addition?”

“Please,” Liara continued,”where is Shepard?”

“You’ll want to follow me,” Bailey said. He turned and started walking. The crew followed with steps quickened with the first dash of hope offered since the Normandy had arrived at the station. The C-Sec commander led them down hallways, up and down half a dozen stair cases, some blocked with piles of the dead, others by damage from the recent onslaught of the Reapers’ taking of the Citadel.

Finally, they arrived outside a half-sized door that was marked in four languages, the last of which was English and read “ELECTRICAL.” Bailey knocked a rhythm that Miranda raised an eyebrow to, waited, and then knocked the pattern again. The door opened and a teenage boy with tattoos, multiple facial piercings, and a blue Mohawk peaked out with a gun shaking in hand.

“It’s okay, Kenny, they’re friends.”

The boy nodded and relaxed. The crew followed Bailey into the room. It was larger than the door had suggested, with signs of renovation clearly visible. Javik could easily see that the room had been expanded. The room was an open rectangle with one far side going left around a corner, to what he did not know. Bailey motioned for them to stop and waved at some nearby shipping containers. “Take a load off,” he said. They moved to sit down and Bailey pulled Miranda to the side. He spoke in hushed tones with her and then she looked to Shepard’s crew.

“I . . . I’ll be right back,” she said. She followed Bailey around the corner.

“Anybody catch what they were talking about?” Zaeed asked.

No one answered.

* * * *

Miranda followed Commander Bailey around the corner of his safe room and through a door to an adjoining room.

“It’s not pretty,” Bailey said as the door opened. “But . . . well, see for yourself.”

In the middle of the room were three conference tables. Two of them held bodies.

“Oh god,” Miranda whispered, raising a hand to her lips, not quite touching them.

The still form of Admiral Anderson rested on one table, blood pooled around him on the table and soaking into his clothes. On the second table, wearing shattered armor and covered in just as much blood and showing an odd pattern of burn marks on one arm, from the elbow down through the hand, was–

“Shepard!” Miranda exclaimed. She rushed over to the table and laid her hands on the commander, tears coming to her genetically perfected eyes. She heard a groan. She looked up but saw no movement from Shepard.

“Damn, medi-gel is some amazing stuff, eh Miss Lawson,” mumbled a weak Admiral Anderson.

Miranda turned around and saw the admiral’s head turned to face her and his eyes blinking, struggling to stay open.

“Anderson, you’re alive!”

“I better be.”

“But all this blood?”

“Ha, not mine. You should have seen where that beam threw us out up here. Nothing but dead bodies and pools of blood. Besides, I paid good money for this advanced thin armor,” he said, patting the layer of protection on his torso. “One shot from a pistol better not be able to end me. Still, all the other things, before that, took their toll, so it was a near thing. And I owe my thanks to that man,” he said, weakly pointing at Bailey. “I’m still not sure I’d have kept breathing without his help.”

“You can thank me when you’re cleared by a real doctor, Admiral. You’re lucky to be alive. The blunt force trauma alone you’ve suffered, armor or not, would have killed lesser men. I’m shocked as hell that the medi-gel was even able to stabilize you as well as it did. How many times were you shot, blasted, thrown to the ground from Earth to up here on this table?”

“Well, it must’ve been a good doz–”

“Not as many as me, that’s for damn sure,” came another weakened voice that sent Miranda whirling around so quickly she nearly lost her balance.

“Shepard!” she cried.

“Ms. Lawson,” Commander Shepard replied, a small grin on his blood spattered face.

“Don’t you ‘Ms. Lawson’ me. You broke your promise!”

“And that was?”

“That you would come find me when this was all over.”

“Hey, easiest way to find someone . . . is to give them a reason to come to you, right?” Shepard responded with a smile through gritted teeth.

“You ass,” Miranda said with a smile and playful slap to the commander’s hip.

“Ugh! Easy, there. I may have gotten some medi-gel, but I’m not 100%. “

“Damn, Shepard, am I going to have to rebuild you again?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Another chance to drop me down on a cold slab, completely naked and at your mercy.”

“You know that’s my favorite way to have you,” she laughed.

(Roll credits)

Mass Effect 3: Believe

Image

 

Mass Effect 3: Believe

Written by: Ryan O’Connor

 

 

**SPOILER ALERT** – If you haven’t played through to the end of Mass Effect 3, my rewrite of the ending might spoil the actual game ending(s), if that’s even possible, ha ha. But if you haven’t finished playing the game why did you decide to read this at all??

 

Last chance . . .

 

And now, how I would have written the end of Mass Effect 3 . . .

 

Childproof Bullets review

Look, I’m not a professional music reviewer.  I’m typically a fan of metal.  That being said, like I told my boy Childish (his performing name), I love hearing/seeing/reading stuff from people I personally know.  Back in the day when he was living in the States here, I got to hear some of his early tracks.  It was good, as far as I was concerned- remember, I’m no hiphop/rap expert, but I still have the old CDs and listen to them here and there.

This new album, Childproof Bullets, is much much better, again, if you ask me.  I like to think I can judge quality, regardless of genre.  This is a polished and professional work and I enjoyed it. Everyone (who can handle vulgar and adult content) should go grab this album and give it a listen. 

I’d have gone and bought it if that was an option.  Might be in the future, who knows.  But, Hell, it’s free, people.  Why NOT?

 

And I swear, my next post will be my new ending to Mass Effect 3.

 

Promise . . .

Mass Effect 3 ending

For those of you who couldn’t guess it (or don’t care to),  Mass Effect 3 is the game ending I (and many others) have an issue with.  I played through the game, went through the “different” endings, and found them to be lacking, to say the least.  There is a facebook page that is called Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3.  It has inspired the work that you will be able to read very soon.

Just going over the story one more time to make sure there are no glaring issues with it.  I will post it tomorrow, Friday the 13th, because, hey, I like Friday the 13th.  You ask me, there’s no bad luck at all.  You think 13 is an unlucky number? Fine.  But, come on.  What’s the BEST day of the week?  Friday!  You combine a good day with an unlucky number, my superstitious math degree tells me that itequals a neutral day.  You want a REALLY bad day?  How about a MONDAY the 13th??

So, yeah, Mass Effect 3 re-ending, coming tomorrow.   Help spread the word to come back and check out some of my actual writing tomorrow . . .

 

Thanks!

Hello (end of the) world!

“Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!”

And with that as a prompt, I guess I’ll do that.  Prepare to be nerded on from time to time.   I really have started this blog because I could find no way to freely distribute a story idea I had that would most likely land me in hot water if I were to try and actually sell it through some epublishing site.  You see, from what I can tell, none of them let you sell an ebook . . . for free.  I know, go figure.  Can’t even give shit away when you want to.
I’m pretty much going to use this blog to write stories I have no actual rights to.  Call it fan fiction, well, because that’s what it is. Or will be…

And since this is my first post, I’ll go ahead and lay out the ulterior motive- money, because I don’t have it, but I would like to.  I know, I know, don’t we all?  But while you sit there on your ass NOT doing something about it, I’ve decided to NOT be one of you anymore. I’m going to stop waiting for things to miraculously happen for me like so many crappy stories and movies like to imply or explicitly state.  I’m too old for that fairy tale garbage . . . not that I ever believed in it, but that mindset is out there and needs to be fought.  I guess my mindset was “I’m too damn busy with work and need my free time to recharge from the daily/weekly/monthly/yearly/eternal grind.”  Or maybe I’ve just been a lazy fuck.  Who knows?

Anyway . . .

I can’t sell the stories I’ll be posting on here, but I would like to maybe earn some fans out of whatever handful of readers I manage to gather.  These fans would then be interested to find out that I do plan to put out stories that are completely original and mine to legally sell on one of those sites where that sort of thing is done . . . for money.  Until then, I will start with not even a whole story.

My next post will be the re-writing of the ending of a specific, and major, video game release from this past March.  This was the third installment of the franchise and billed as the last part of an always intended trilogy.  Some of you might already know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, just wait and see.  The re-ending (and explanation for it) will be arriving shortly.  Lob your grenades of criticism +3 with reckless abandon and if you like what you read and would like to support and/or encourage future works, kindly show your support with whatever donation you feel like making through that old buddy old PAL of payments using the email address that should show up for me somewhere on this page . . . or right here: rochomeb@hotmail.com.

Easy enough, right?

Later, people.