I've been combing through the first 7 chapters; editing, tweaking, and adding details to them. I know it's been a long time since I've updated, and I will continue the story, I promise. I'm the kind of person to give up on a project. Take a break from it; yes, but never abandon it.
One of the biggest changes I've made so far was to completely change the introduction to the story's background information. This way, I feel, is a bit smoother, as it's now a part of the story, instead of part of the author's notes. If you think I could do something to improve it further, please let me know through private message or review, I'm always open to suggestions.
I've also combined the first two chapters, as they were both relatively short. I've also added a quick explanation of Kaiden is up to, as I don't really have room for him in this story, but I'm sure people would still like to know what happened to him.
Well, that's all I have to say, other than enjoy reading. (Hopefully I can learn to restrain myself from writing these lengthy author's notes).
Chapter 2: Blood In The Water
There was a sharp jolt as the Normandy passed through the relay; even the ship's powerful motion dampers couldn't fully compensate for the sudden shed of momentum.
Beyond the viewport, the outline of a massive ship was slowly drifting towards the skeletal form of the half complete citadel. Dozens of frigates and heavy cruisers buzzed in a cloud around the enormous ship. Beams of brilliant red light flashed Thanix lasers were fired at the broadside of the behemoth, seemingly with no effect.
A sudden blinding flash illuminated the clouded nebula; the enemy ship was unleashing its single, gargantuan canon. A massive beam swept through the defense fleet, catching several ships, which burst into flames as the compressed oxygen in their hulls was rapidly released, fueling their explosive combustions.
It was exactly as Joker had said: a real shit storm.
"Christ! Look at that thing! It's bigger than Sovereign!" Joker shouted; his eyes wide at the colossal dreadnaught.
The ship's hulking mass was impressive indeed. As intimidating as it was, the ship was no pretty sight. Between its bulbous shape and mottled grey sides, it looked a little like a bloated corpse.
Deep scars were gouged across its surface; souvenirs gathered from some gruesome battle, long past.
Ripples of blue energy glowed across three tumorous structures on the back end of the ship; some sort of thrusters propelling the dreadnaught's form slowly towards the unfinished citadel.
"Bring us in, Joker. EDI, once we're in range, activate your cyber-warfare protocol, and bring its shields down. See if you can find a weak point while you're at it."
Silence enveloped the bridge as Joker maneuvered the Normandy through the debris of the battle. Only the faint humming of the drive core could be heard; the vacuum of space blocking out the sounds of exploding ships.
"Shepard, I have completed a full scan of the ship," EDI spoke up after a few moments, breaking the silence.
"Good, what have you figured out?" Shepard asked, cocking his head towards the AI.
"I have triple checked all my readings and calculations. After being unable to find access to the dreadnought's network, I ran a sweep for all digital devices on board," EDI turned to face Shepard before continuing, "I found none."
"None?" Shepard repeated, "Is there something disrupting your sensors?"
"Negative," EDI replied, "My sensors are able to reach the ship itself. I am picking of signs of metabolic reactions throughout the ship's body. Its shield is giving off an energy reading that is closer to a biotic barrier than an electronically generated mass effect field. It appears that this ship appears to be entirely organic in construction."
"Holy shit, you mean this thing is alive?" Joker gaped at his robotic co-pilot.
"The reapers were part organic; is this thing some kind remnant of the reapers?" Shepard asked, his mind was swimming at the possibility.
"That is unlikely. The reapers were cybernetic larvae contained within a synthetic outer shell. This ship appears to be entirely organic, with no detectable mechanical parts," EDI reassured him, turning back to face her console.
"Alright, what can you tell me about any weak points?" Shepard asked, shaking his head sharply to clear it of all distracting thoughts.
"Calculating," EDI's electronic voice replied, "The ship's biotic barrier is massive, and encompasses almost the entire ship. The energy readings they give off suggest that they are completely impenetrable by any armament in citadel space."
For a moment, Shepard's heart sank at the news before he latched onto something else EDI said.
"What do you mean it 'encompasses almost the entire ship'?"
EDI's robot body gave a very human grin. "The Rear thrusters appear to be outside of the barrier's protection. The barriers would likely deteriorate their effectiveness if they were inside. Destroying them would result in an explosion powerful enough to take down the barrier, along with most of the ship."
"Well done, EDI." Shepard commended her, clapping a hand on her polymer shoulder. "Joker, you heard her; take out those thrusters."
The tension in the air aboard the Dreadnought was palpable. The ship's powerful commanding officer stood before her crew, letting her intimidating gaze sweep each of their faces, before bringing her eyes to a holograph of the battle outside.
Strange, the resistance so far have been far less than expected.
Finally she began to speak, causing her entire crew to hold their breaths, "The enemy is weak. They fight, but they are like leaves fighting the wind. Soon, they will be swept aside; fools for daring to oppose us."
"This will be a day that will be remembered by our people for millennia. This is the day that we strike back, drawing blood from the heart of our enemy; blood rightfully spilled. For every drop of our blood they have taken, a million more we will take from them."
Silence retook the bridge as her speech ended. Only a few seconds passed before the silence was replaced with a roaring cheer from her crew. A wicked smile spread across her face, revealing two sharp fangs.
Soon, we will see their cities burn.
A deafening wail resounded around the room, abruptly interrupting the cheering.
"Ma'am, there's been a direct hit to one of the rear thruster pods; someone's made it past the barriers," one of the crew members informed her.
"Give me a damage report, now!" she hissed.
"Damage is negligible. Not even a half percent decrease in structural integrity."
The evil smile returned to her face.
Yes, the enemy truly is weak.
"Shit! Commander, that was maximum weapon output, and we didn't even scratch the thing," Joker turned to Shepard.
"Ready the main cannon for another shot. Let's hope Garrus can squeeze a bit more power into it this time."
The entire ship began to vibrate, indicating that a deck below, the Thanix cannon was powering up. The lights on the bridge began to flicker as EDI piped up, "I am drawing power from several non-critical functions to increase the weapon's maximum power draw."
There was a wait of several seconds before she spoke again, "Shepard, the Thanix canons are at their limit; further stress on the system could result in ship-wide overload."
Shepard nodded in acknowledgement, "Then let 'er rip, EDI."
There was a sharp jolt as the main gun was fired, unleashing a bright torrent of molten metal at the target. Shepard found himself whispering under his breath.
A direct hit from the Thanix at full power: that had to have done something. Please let it have done-
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Shit, we may as well be taking down Godzilla with a water gun," Joker derided, slamming his fists down on the ship's console.
Shepard opened his mouth, about to say something to reassure Joker, when the comm systems squawked to life.
"This is Admiral Han'Gerrel vas Neema, with the quarian heavy fleet, first division," A familiar voice crackled over the coms, "How may we offer assistance."
Shepard spun his head and looked out the starboard bow; only to be greeted by the sight of ten long rows of enormous canon muzzles protruding out of a dreadnought sized ship's broadside approaching.
"About damn time reinforcements showed up," Shepard smirked, as he opened up the Normandy's com channels, "Admiral; this is Commander Shepard. If that ship there packs even half the punch it looks like it does, then we could use your help."
"Ah, I see you've noticed the Izeana," the quarian admiral replied smugly. "It's the first ship in the last 300 years entirely of Quarian construction. I'll spare you the technical jargon on how it works, but I can assure you; it can outgun anything in the Alliance fleet,"
"Good, we need this thruster taken out," Replied Shepard, shaking his head slowly. Even in the heat of battle, Han'Gerrel still found time to flaunt.
"It will be done. Commander Shepard, I suggest you pull your ship out of the way; the Izean can take it from there," the Han'Gerrel's voice was projected through the console once more.
There was a deafening roar as an immense shockwave passed through the behemoth ship; tearing gaping holes in bulkheads, and tossing the crew about like ragdolls.
The female warrior sucked in a wheezing gasp to the air that had been knocked out of her lungs.
Impossible! How could this be?
Running her tongue across her teeth to check that they were all there, she could taste the metallic tinge of blood that coated her mouth. She brought a three-fingered hand up to her forehead; rubbing a spot that throbbed with pain.
As she slowly stood up, still panting for breath, she was suddenly made aware of the sound of fast-moving wind.
There's a hull breach!