Ripples in the Stream

A D&D / Shadowrun / Mass Effect crossover by Vyrexuviel

Disclaimer: The author of this story does not, in any way, derive any profit from the story. D&D, Shadowrun and Mass Effect are the property of their respective copyright holders. Jorukaia and other unfamiliar characters in this story, however, are mine.

Shepard slid her gun into its holster, the magnetic seals clamping in place. The Geth had ravaged Eden Prime, destroyed dozens of square kilometers of farmland in a series of bizarre hit-and-run raids, rendering entire farms little more than scorched bare pieces of rock. She shook her head a little, her chin-length bob swaying a bit as she turned away from the artifact.

All for this piece of ancient Prothean junk. All those lives lost, all those hopes and dreams destroyed, all that death and misery. All for this thing. With a soft sigh, she opened a channel. "Normandy, the beacon is secure. Request immediate evac."

Behind her, Ash was looking curiously at the massive block of metal, now glowing a bit along its long, central stalk. She was describing how it was found and unearthed to Kaidan. "Actual working Prothean technology doesn't grow on trees, you know. But it wasn't doing anything like -that- when they dug it up, though. Something must have activated it."

Kaidan was frowning a bit, "We'd better be careful, Ms Williams. We don't know what this thing was designed to do."

He turned to Shepard as his commander finished detailing the location. Kaidan murmured softly to her, but her eyes snapped to the side as the beacon emitted some kind of flare. Ash was on her feet, but being slowly dragged towards it, unable to pull away. Shepard did what she did best. What the Council was considering her Spectre candidacy for. She made an instant decision and acted without hesitation.

She rushed forward, grasped Ash around the waist and hurled her away from the beacon. The white-armored woman landed heavily, and knocked Kaidan down when he tried to catch her. But both marines could clearly see that Shepard was in trouble. She was struggling mightily, like a fly caught in a web, but unable to force herself away from the Beacon.

Even as Ashley called out her name, she felt herself lifted into the air. She could vaguely hear Kaidan and Ashley arguing, but it was soft, muted. Compared to the vision before her, nothing else mattered.


Armageddon unrolled before her eyes, in all its vast, horrific splendor. Eyes an unusually pronounced gold rolled madly in their sockets, seeking an escape that did not exist.

"Don't touch her, it's too dangerous!"

Flesh, dripping.
Metal, cooling.
The two as one, combined without seam.
The birth of a monster.
The birth of a god.

Her eyes weren't moving now, staring unseeing into an unknowable abyss of distance and time. She hung in midair, like the plaything of a wraith, her body growing ever more limp as image after image, horror after horror assaulted her senses.

Even her mind, trained and hardened to the horrors of war, couldn't cope.

With a strangely muted thud, the beacon exploded, and Shepard fell in a boneless heap. Ash and Kaidan were there instantly, but though her eyes were open, they saw nothing. One iris was a thin sliver of gold around a pupil gone huge, the other seemed to cover her pupil entirely, as if in her last extremity she was trying to both shut out what she was seeing, sensing, and at the same time memorize every detail. She shivered and twitched slightly, but calling her name and shaking her did nothing. Her eyes remained open, and that horrible fixed, uneven stare unnerved both marines.

"Better call the Normandy, Ms Williams. Tell Chakwas to expect incoming wounded."

Chakwas gave a long sigh, and shook her head at Anderson. "I've done everything I can do, Captain. Wherever she's gone, she's beyond my help."

Anderson didn't let it show, but the words tore something, deep in his heart. He had served with Shepard a time or two before, that's why he forwarded her dossier to Udina for this opportunity. He'd known her to take some stupid risks in her time, seemingly indifferent to her own survival and risking her life for impossible long-shots, but somehow she always turned back just before the point of no return. Or pursued her chance, and, against all good sense, caught the bastard.

But this time, there'd be no victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. No beacon, no Spectre. And now, no Spectre candidate either. The whole damned bureaucratic mess to do over, with the added disadvantage that it had been the humans who had pushed the schedule as far as it could go. The council would hold them back for sure, this time, keep them bottled up for another twenty years, maybe longer.

"What was the cause of death, Doctor?"

Chakwas paused, pursing her lips. "Severe neural trauma and systemic shutdown. It almost looks like a case of induced hibernation, but I can't get any sign of any neural response at all, and her cellular tissues are already beginning to break down."

Anderson gave a quiet nod. He shook his head a bit, one fist clenched against his thigh. "Well.. we'll stay in orbit another day or two, allow the family of Private Jenkins to bury their son. At least he came home to die. We'll... have to decide what to do with Shepard."

Chakwas stiffened her back slightly, "I insist on performing an autopsy, Captain. I read some very unusual latencies in her brain, something intense was going on before the end."

"You'll get your chance, Doctor. But you've been at this non-stop for almost 16 hours, with nearly a full shift before that. Get some rest."

"Captain-" Anderson's look cut her off, and she gave a frustrated shake of the head, "Alright, Captain. But I don't have to like it."

"It's never easy, Chakwas. It's hardest with someone you've known a long time."

She gave a nod, sighing and packing up. The sheeted corpse was gently transferred from the bio-bed to the steel drawer of the tiny morgue, the door to the tiny freezer unit shutting with the flat, unimportant sound. Then, a moment or two after her assistant had left, she reached down to an out-of-the-way medical cabinet, and removed both a bottle and a tumbler.

After the first two shots, she didn't bother with the glass.

The garrison forces had been utterly devastated, only Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams of the 212 left out of nearly two hundred men and women. Their bombed-out barracks building was still shedding pieces, having been struck with a single orbit-to-surface strike that left surprisingly little in the way of collateral damage. Most had still been inside. Ashley's unit was being disbanded, and as the sole survivor, she was ordered to report to the nearest Alliance unit and join up. As that happened to be the marine detachment aboard the Normandy, Anderson welcomed her formally to his crew. That would have been part of Shepard's duties, but...

She'd packed up her meager belongings, those that hadn't been wiped with the rest of the garrison, and boarded formally within the hour. She still couldn't bring herself to glance into the sickbay.

The Normandy broke orbit an hour later.

Chakwas hadn't had a very good night. Between the alcohol and her grief, she got very little sleep, nodding off, only to wake a half hour later, feeling fatigued and groggy. The cycle repeated several times before she finally gave it up as a bad job. She slept in the small storage space aft of the sickbay itself, a small fold-down cot providing her bedding requirements, though there were a few extra camp-cots for emergency use. After nearly four decades of such sleeping arrangements, she'd gotten used to them, even claiming that they helped keep her back straight.

Bare feet made very little noise as she slipped quietly into the sickbay. Her eyes strayed to the bio-bed closest to her doctor's station. The one where Shepard had died. She didn't even bother suppressing the soft sigh of regret the thought provoked. She was too tired to care. She shivered a little. It had seemed so hopeful in the beginning. Just a transient seizure caused by neural overload. But the deterioration had spread with alarming rapidity, and Shepard...

She sighed again. This wasn't the time for that sort of reminiscence. Not with Shepard's body still stored-

She shivered again, staring at the open freezer door.

'What. The. Hell?' She moved over to it, glanced inside. The sheet they had covered Shepard's body with was wasn't there, and neither was the corpse.

She quietly slid the drawer inside and fingered the door. There were scratches on it, new ones. Her eyes narrowed. 'If this was someone's idea of a prank...'

A soft sound caught her attention. It was so low she couldn't really put words to it, but something was definitely going on. She quietly shut the door, wincing a little as the metal clinked softly together, and slipped quietly to the door. There was no help for it, the thing was going to make a considerable noise when it opened, so she grabbed a flashlight from the nearby emergency locker and tapped the door-key.

The usual hiss and clank of the door retracting was followed by the Doc stepping out and flicking the light around. The mess was dark, the dim red safety lights giving a lurid gleam to everything. The galley, if you wanted to call it that, was across the mess hall from the sickbay entrance, nestled into the corner where Kaidan spent most of his time. She had to admit, man was a wizard with spices and herbs, and the entire crew was glad of his service. He somehow made even military-issue MREs palatable.

And the noise was coming from over there.

She snapped the light to shine over at the sound of soft scraping and rustling, trying to make out what she was seeing. A length of something black and dimly-gleaming, and a- She managed to keep the light steady, even as her throat suddenly went dry. The figure was staring back at her. Eyes that glowed with the same deep red as the lighting transfixed her with an unholy stare. Carefully, the figure stood, towering over her. The long, sleek curve she suddenly realized was a tail, arching and swaying gracefully behind the lithe figure.

She finally managed to wrench her gaze away from the... the person's eyes, and realized that the thing in her hand was an MRE package. Torn open roughly, its contents having been almost entirely scooped out. A bit of the creamed chicken was still clinging to the 'woman, that's definitely a woman' person's chin, and a long tongue, black in the dim light, licked out to gather it in. She tilted her head, the light rippling in bloody bands off the smooth length of her elegantly-curved horns. She had only a small sheet draped about her lean body, wrapped about her shoulders and dangling down barely past her hips. Her arms gleamed dully in the light, shifting to rapidly scratch out the last little bit of food and wolf it down with almost terrifying eagerness. She gave a low sound, those baleful red eyes closing momentarily, then turning back to the stunned Chakwas.

By this point, the doc was barely managing to keep the light steady, her eyes wide. The horned, tailed, and, yes, she could see the claws on the tips of those long fingers, woman turned back to her, some form of expression on her face. At first, Karen was unable to make out what she said, but when the figure repeated herself, gesturing to the MRE, she understood the hoarse, croaking voice.

"Please... I-Is there more...?"


Yah, this is what's been keeping me from doing more of Phoenix of late. I've been bitten by a particularly savage and ruthless plotbunny, and I'm going to need help to get it removed. ^^ Anyone interested in assisting, pleasepleaseplease gimme a PM-poke! I've got some very interesting backstory for this one, and yes, I'll be doing a lot of exposition in the next chapter (whenever I can find time to write it), so keep your shirt on, and don't hold your breath (to hard). ^.~

No, I haven't given up on Phoenix, but I've hit a major roadblock, and doing this one for a while might help me get past it. The next bit to come is a leetle thing you might have heard of, some people refer to it as the LotSB. ^^ I've got a bit of it written, but I'm finding it hard to get into the head of a certain character, and I don't want to overdo certain bits with it, while maintaining the sense of... well, if you really need to know, gimme a PM, and we can discuss. ^^ I'm currently without a beta for Phoenix, so if you're interested, TELL MEE!

Life tends to be somewhat draining, and my periods of inspiration tend to come and go. I'll write whenever I get the spark, but no promises when I'll be able to post something worth it. Ta for now, and I hope to have more of this fic up soon!