Chapter Three: Separation

Shepard slowly turned his head around to see what was behind him and his eye widen in shock at the monstrosity that raised its bladed arm to strike down at him. Quickly he rolled forward as the blade crashed down on where he had stood, leaving a large dent in the metal floor. Tali reached down to quickly pull Shepard up and then everyone aimed they lights and guns at the creature.

Its torso, legs and head resembled that of a human, only gruesomely twisted. The flesh was torn and rotten looking with bones and what looked like another pair of arms growing around its ripped out stomach. The face was bent and turned, along with its jaw nearly falling off from the sharp teeth that could just barely fit its mouth. The lights seemed to blind monster for a moment, making it back away a bit howling, trying to cover its face with its arms to little avail.

"What the fucking hell is that!" Jack yelled out in disgust and surprise as the creature stumbled around blinded.

The creature then suddenly stopped moving, as if it could hear something in the air. Everyone held their breath, wondering what was going on with this monster. Then with screech it charged at them, bladed arms slashing wildly in the air as it closed in on them.

"FIRE!" Shepard yelled out as he took aim with his assault rifle and started shooting.

The creature stumbled back as his shots hit it right in the chest, but it just kept moving forward in a slower pace. Tali and Jack both fired their Geth shotguns at it, blasting off an arm and a leg. Falling over, the creature used it's only arm and leg to crawl at them, still refusing to die. Thane then used a strong biotic wrap on it, making its already rotting arm fall off. Crying out pained and angry moans, the creature stopping moving and laid still on the ground.

"Is…is it dead?" Tali asked in a worried tone.

Slowly, Shepard walked up to the monster's corpse and then gave it a strong kick to the side. Then without warning the body seemed to spring to life and tried to lunge up at his face. Mordin quickly fired an incineration at the monster, setting it on fire and give Shepard a chance to get away from it. It screeched and shook as it burned, until it dropped dead, nothing more than a burnt corpse. Shepard gave a thankful nod to Mordin, while everyone gathered around the dead creature, giving concerned looks at each other.

"Mordin…Do you have any idea what this thing is?" Shepard asked the salerian doctor with a serious voice.

"No…At least not right now…" Mordin answered back, before activating his omni-tool and started taking scans of the creature.

Everyone waited silently as Mordin continued to do his scans, mainly looking out at the darkness, worried that there was more waiting to attack them.

"Done, but afraid you may not like results…" He said as he looked up from reading his omni-tool.

"Just tell us anyway…whatever this thing is it's the best lead we got to figuring out what has happen here." Shepard replied back, although he already had his own ideas of what this thing really was.

"Very well…Scan showed that creature is in fact human. Many parts of DNA have been great modified, which also explains the…changes that the body has gone through. Also body has been dead for at least six days, which may explain for decay, but may just be side effect of genetic mutation." He said quickly before taking a deep breath.

"So you're saying someone or something is going around and mutating people?" Shepard questioned Mordin.

"Possible. Unsure of transmission vector. Could be airborne yet no current symptoms. Physical contact seems to be obvious form of infection yet creatures too aggressive. Reanimation and mutation after death likely." Mordin answered back.

Shepard nodded in agreement as the scientist listed his current theories. "You said this body was dead for six days, yet the lock down was only a four days ago."

"This creature may have been from the ship that had docked here and then gotten onto the Citadel. That means there is an outside source behind these mutants or this could be a body from a morgue here that was 'reanimated' by the virus."

Shepard looked down at the dead mutated body, knowing that this was starting to show as a much larger threat. He was about to question Mordin more, but an echoing howl filled the air, making everyone look around for the source of it.

"Everyone get inside the building…NOW!" Shepard ordered, before quickly running forward toward the Citadel Control Center. Already twisted and hulking forms stumbled out of the shadows as animal like howls and garbled yells filled the air. Everyone fired blindly out at the darkness as they ran inside the build, making pained cries and roars fill the air from the undead horde. Tali was already at the door terminal, quickly setting the door to lock down to cause it to slam shut just as the mutilated forms slammed against it.

Suddenly, the door shook and started to slowly begin to open. A pairs of bone claws had been able to find a grip on the thin gap of the door and the creatures were now trying to pull it open.

"Get the door wielded up now!" Shepard said as he pulled out his grenade launcher and fired a grenade into the crowd of monsters through the gap. Soon an explosion followed and body parts flew through the door which closed shut again. Tali quickly took out a small, but powerful laser tool and quickly melted the metal doors together, just as more of the monsters started bashing against the door again. After a few moments of the creatures howling in anger, before their voices seemed to fade away, showing the creatures had moved on for now.

"Seems like things are already out of hand here…" Thane said as he put away his rifle and looked over at the rest of the group, who were gathering up already.

"Agreed. If this virus does what we believe, then there are too many for us to handle. No chance of eliminating completely unless entire ward is fully purged." Mordin said with a grim look on his face.

"I don't see any problem in killing them all ourselves, they don't last long against biotics." Jack commented with an amused chuckle.

"That's enough now!" Shepard ordered in a loud tone. "First off Mordin is right...we don't stand a chance of clearing out the ward by ourselves. But we still need to make sure there are any survivors left, before we do anything rash. Even if these things had the chance to attack first, I doubt everyone would have been overwhelmed so easily. Security measures are active to a degree and the Ward did have a day before these creatures bypassed containment.

Tali walked up to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, wanting him to calm down. "Let's at least try and find out more of this ship at least. If they came from it perhaps the solution is on it."

She stepped past him and walked over to one of the empty terminals, activating her omni-tool to skillfully hack into it.

"Strange…the data I'm getting seems corrupted…Someone must have hacked into Citadel Control and copied all the files before deleting and meddling the original data."

"Is there any chance of saving any data or at least any info about this hacker?" Shepard asked Tali as he stepped up to look at the lines of data across the terminal screen.

"There are a few bits left, but still…whoever did this knew what they were doing." She replied back as she worked quickly with her omni-tool.

"There, it's not much but I was at least able to get the ship's name and time of appearance." She then activated a projector on the omni-tool, bring up a large projection of the mining ship. "Overall it matches with our report yet Control had done more in-depth scans such into the ship registry and point of arrival near the Citadel. It seems to have some…strange engines from what the readings say. None of it related to our FTL drives or to the relays. If anything this ship is capable of making jumps where ever it wishes!"

"So you're saying this ship could have come from somewhere far off? Beyond the galaxy somehow?" Shepard questioned.

Mordin shook his head as he studied the data on the screen. "Unless humanity sent colony ships into uncharted space. Unlikely. Technology is varied in areas, being more advanced in some yet lacking in others. Besides…age is far off from the ship record" He'd point out the last star date the ship had recorded being 2508.

"2508?! That's about 400 years from now." Tali remarked in complete surprise.

"Remember older theories on wrap travel. Rather not say anything without further investigation. Need to physically examine ship engine and internal design to have a complete theory. Best not to jump to conclusions." The salarin muttered, seeming deep in thought over all this new information.

"I was able to recover a video of the initial attacks once the ship was opened." Tali typing in a new command onto the omni-tool, she brought up video footage of the first attack on the security team that was sent to check on the ship, leading to the monsters attacking them and getting onto the Citadel. More footage showed blast doors as seemingly hundreds of the rotting creatures flowed out of the ship. Auto-defenses kicked in as turrets opened up along the ceiling to open fire, the direct hits doing little damage to the creatures although some were dropping from the fire power. C-Sec security was forming up behind the defenses as the turrets were being destroyed by lunging creatures or razor barbs flung by baby like creatures with tendrils. While the blast doors held the creatures started to focus on vents as they proved to be quite agile and flexible as they shoved themselves into the ducts.

"The vents. The Keepers use them all the time yet are too hazardous for normal travel. No doubt this explains how the infestation spread" Mordin commented as the video showed the security teams glancing around at the ceiling before the creatures dropped down into the room, surprising a few of the officers as they didn't even get a shot off as they were pounced on and cut apart. Again body shots were useless yet directed shots to the limbs along with mix of tech tools and biotics started to turn the tide. Yet a half a dozen security could only hold back so much until they got overwhelmed.

Every new line of defense did hold out longer as vents were sealed and new tactics used. Yet when C-Sec seemed to have a stable defense on the second day, yet suddenly systems started shutting down. Turrets stopped working, doors opened and in followed the held back horde.

"Any idea how the security systems were shut off, there is no way someone in C-Sec would do such a thing."

"Well…The Citadel computer systems are powerful." Tali said in a thoughtful tone. "Keepers can easily access it, but they don't have any reason to do such a thing. A hacker could also get into the system as well, however that's tricky since it would take a lot of technical skill and tools to even try at all."

Shaking her head, she gave a sigh and said. "It doesn't make sense…If someone is behind all of this that means that could be watching us right now and could even use the defense system against us."

Everyone seemed to tense up at the thought, worried that turrets would just pop out of the ceiling to fire at them. Although nothing had happened so far, but now that meant they would have to be more on guard now.

"However in the last video I found, it shows someone quite interesting leaving the Ishimura." The other videos quickly disappeared and were replaced by a large screen of the ship airlock from the first video. Strangely the bodies of the dead C-Sec officers were gone, the only hints of them being there were their dropped weapons and blood stains. However a shadowed formed walked slowly out of the darkness of the ship entrance and into the light of the air lock. He seemed to be dressed in strange maintenance suit with a blue glowing visor and was carrying what looked like an energy tool of some kind that he must be using as a weapon. He quickly looked at the discarded pistols and even picked up one up, which he strapped onto his belt before hurrying off view and onto the Citadel Ward.

"So it seems that there are still survivors on that ship too." Shepard said as Tali closed the video and turned off her omni-tool.

"Well our best chance of find more about these things is to find that survivor or getting onto the ship to look at the data files on it." Shepard said to everyone who nodded back in agreement.

"Our next goal is to try and find that survivor and get onto that ship to find the data we need. We also need to find a way to contact Garrus, since the coms are still being jammed, most likely from this hacker. Once we have the information we need, we will meet up with Garrus and take the survivors back to the Normandy for evac and to gather more forces to clear out the ward. Now let's find to the main docking area, maybe that survivor is still around there."

Quickly he led everyone down one of the corridors to find a way out of Citadel Control, however Tali stopped for a moment to look at a security camera that seemed to follow their movement. Giving a long look at it, she tapped a few controls on her omni-tool and quickly hacked the camera to shut it down, making it spark a few times before shutting down. Giving a small chuckle at her work, she ran after the others, hoping that would anger the hacker a bit for her disruption.

..

Off in a hidden part of Citadel, Ronza laughed a bit as he watched Tali shut down the camera that had seen their entire conversation, leaving onto a screen of static along the many camera videos. "Ah Tali'Zorah…Still the same as always…" He said to himself as he pressed a few buttons to have a new video screen take its place.

The video screen showed Garrus and his team continuing to fight the waves of Necromorphers, although they were slowly being forced to retreat from the store to find a better defense position.

"Impressive…" Ronza said as he watched them fight on still, but then noticed Eland the volus enter the room and stand beside him to look at the computer screen to watch the fight.

"Interesting -sss- they have lasted much longer than the -sss- others." He commented as he looked up at Ronza.

"Yes, they are the final test for the necromorphers. The heroic team of Commander Shepard and an entire squad of Cerberus agents, the best the universe has to offer. Once they are eliminated then nothing will be able to stop our plans."

Erlan gave a small chuckle and nod of agreement. "Yes! -sss- The Shadow Broker is –sss- impressed with the results. –sss- Still he wishes you to finish these tests. –sss- and finish the control device."

Ronza gave a short annoyed glance at him, but nodded before looking back at the screens.

"Of course...Without your connections with him I wouldn't be here." He said in a plain tone before he moved away from the large computer to move to the main part of the lab. "Now...I have much work to do. Keep an eye on our subjects and make preparations for our arrival to the Ishimura. After all the artifact on it is key to finishing our work."

The volus nodded to him as he watched him disappear into the main lab and then looked back at the screen, wanting to see if Garrus's team would survive in the end.

..

"Don't stop firing! Hold them off just a bit longer!" Garrus yelled out to his team before shooting a concussion grenade out at a charging monster, hitting it right in the chest and exploding which caused all of its limbs to fly off.

The constant fighting had forced them to leave the shop, since they had nearly been cornered in there by the endless hordes of monsters. Now they had backed toward the other side of market plaza to try and escape through one of the elevators that could lead them down to C-Sec Headquarters. Legion was busy hacking the elevator lock while everyone else was busy keeping the rotting creatures from all directions. All of the creatures seemed to be twisted undead versions of humans, asari and salarians, which he could only faintly recognize from closely looking at their distorted faces.

Looking over at his team, Garrus could see that they were getting tired out from the overwhelming force. Their shields so far have proved ineffective towards bone blades and claws that grew out from the numerous arms or appendages that the creatures had, since their attacks were more physical toward them. Their regeneration mods in their suits were keeping them alive at least, but he doubted they would last much longer now.

Grunt suddenly gave an angry roar when some small form jumped at him and grabbed onto his chest. It looked like a baby with short barbed tentacles splitting out of its back, which it used to stab at the krogan's face.

"Rotting piece of trash!" Grunt said to it as he grabbed the attacking tentacles, stopping it's attended attack when he pulled them back along with the shirking creature.

Throwing it to the ground he stomped it with his foot, crushing it easily into a gory paste before he aimed his shotgun up to fire another attack monster.

"We can't keep this up!" Jacob called out as he flung one creature into the air with his biotics, giving Miranda a chance to hit it with a warp which caused it to fall apart from the attack.

"Elevator almost here. Just a bit longer." Legion said quickly as he continued to type rapidly on his omni-tool.

Suddenly the elevator doors opened and quickly everyone started to back up to get in it to escape.

"Hit them with everything you got! Make sure they don't get close enough to block the doors!" Garrus ordered before firing his shredder rounds over a group of monsters, ripping them apart with ease. Samara, Jacob and Miranda all unleashed their biotics on crowd of creatures, creating a large shockwave that tore through or knocked them back. Taking their chance, everyone hurried into the elevator just as Legion hit the button for the lower level which made the doors slam shut.

"Well…that was too close…" Garrus said between tired pants as he looked over at tired team, who were all busy catching their breath. "So…even the idea of husks being the problem here was wrong…seems like we have something even worse."

"Yes…I have never seen such creatures. You saw how they resembled asari and humans…it shows that there must be some virus or disease turning them into such horrid things…" Samara said in a low and even slightly mournful tone.

"Well that means more questions now." Jacob quickly replied back. "Who made this virus and why…" Shaking his head and giving a sigh, he then said. "You also saw how there were…babies…that had also been changed as well. What sick, fucked up mind makes something that does such a thing!"

He slammed his fist against the wall of the elevator in anger, while Miranda placed a hand on his shoulder to try and calm him down.

"We will find out about this, but we can't let ourselves get distracted by our anger. Save it for the people behind this Jacob." She said to him in firm and understanding tone.

Giving a deep sigh, Jacob gave a small nod to her and seemed to relax a bit, but he still had a tense look in his face.

After a long silent moment, the elevator soon stopped and the doors slid open, showing the entrance C-Sec Headquarters.

"Alright…let's be careful here. Don't want the officers to shot at us by accident. "Garrus told the team before slowly walking off the elevator to head for the doors where a small com station was set. Everyone else followed, but kept their distance to let him check if there was anyone even still inside the base. Reaching the com station, Garrus typed in his old C-Sec officer code and soon a small buzzing sound came and then a voice.

"Who are you, some more survivors or the security team we sent out?" Spoke out a gruff voice out of com speaker.

"How about rescue team. We had a feeling that people would bunker down here, so we came here first thing." Garrus replied back in a thankful tone, glad to at least know people had survived.

"Oh thank god…we thought no one would come and get us!" The voice of the security officer exclaimed happily. "Survivors and left over officers have been retreating here for the past day. We even got attacked by those…things…Had to seal off certain sections to stop them, lost a few good men. "

The voice became silent and gave a low sigh, before Garrus then spoke up again. "They did well protecting everyone still. We will be sure that they don't get forgotten for their duty."

"Good…that would be nice…Anyway I'm unlocking the doors, just hurry in before they come back." The officer said.

The heavy doors beeped and the lights above them turned green before the quickly slid open, showing an older human C-Sec officer dressed in riot armor. Already Garrus and the rest of his team quickly hurried pass the armored doors, which the officer quickly sealed once they got in.

The inside of the C-Sec HQ seemed more like a full hospital now. Cots and medical equipment was set up all over the place, with injured civilians and security officers lying around bandaged up or being consoled by someone to help with shock. The C-Sec officers that stood around guarding or moving on patrol were mainly dressed in riot armor, unlike normal officer suits or armor.

"So how come your not using the standard armor? Riot armor does not have the same shield power as it." Garrus asked in a slightly curious tone.

"Shields are no good with these creatures, even the ones that shoot those bards or explosives, since they just tear right through it. However riot armor is just built tougher, better for facing physical attacks then taking a gun shot." The officer quickly said with a small chuckle. "Was my idea really and so far it has helped save a few from losing a limb to those things."

Garrus nodded in agreement, understanding the advantage they gave for the officers. "So how many people do you have here?" Garrus asked the officer after looking back at the injured survivors.

"At least fifty civilians and twenty five officers that are uninjured and about at least thirdly injured on both sides, so that's about one hundred. A few people may not make it…some of them are just too injured to move and have lost limbs to those things.

"Anyway, how big is the rescue team and ship? I mean…this can't be the entire team right?" He said in questioning manner as he looking over at everyone else.

"Well…had our groups split up to find survivors and to learn how all of this happened, but I'm sure you could fill us in on what exactly happen." Garrus said, trying to avoid the question about the Normandy, which he knew could not carry all of these people.

The officer quickly had a more serious look at the question. "What happened was all those things came off that large mining ship that drifted here. As soon as a scouting team was sent to see if anyone was on board those creatures charged out and killed them all. We already had bulkheads lower when the team status went down and we soon were picking them off with drones and turrets to try and clear a way for another team to seal the ship."

He gave a shaken sigh and paused for a moment, giving downcast look now before he continued. "We did have a few get through the vents, but even got those sealed…however…after a few hours of lockdown we had a complete system crash and all security doors were unlocked, making it easy for them to swarm in. We barely got enough control to get an evacuation, but even then many people were dead. Still a good amount of people escaped to ships or to the other wards before the ward wide lockdown happened and sealed us in. After that we have been holed up here and sending teams out to find people or to get a way out of here, but that has been going bad as well…"

The whole team was silent as they listened to the story, nodding a bit and thinking over the facts of what had happened and what they can do now.

"Well…to tell you the truth…we don't exactly have a rescue plan right now. We were pretty much sent to see what the situation was and then call command after that. However our com signals are being jammed by something, so we can't call for help…"

The officer sighed deeply and had a depressed look on his face for a moment, but quickly looked up with a more serious look.

"Well then…I think I do know the problem for the jammer at least! The thing is our search parties have set up temporary cameras when they went out and recently we have found out about these people…"

Guided everyone over to a large terminal, he pressed a few buttons to bring up a few video screens up. Soon recordings of a few groups of soldiers dressed in black and white armor moving around different parts of the ward in an orderly manner. Any of the creatures that got in their way were quickly shot down, their shots many focused on the limbs to take down the monsters with greater ease. They would then gather up samples from the dead creatures, however as one soldier kneeled down it was easy to see the Cerberus symbol on the shoulder of his armor.

"I should have known…It would have been only a matter of time before Cerberus would know about this." Miranda said in a more serious tone when they paused the video to that certain scene.

"What…you mean is she really serious…" The officer started before Garrus suddenly spoke up.

"Yes…but hopefully it has nothing to do with these monsters. Cerberus maybe pro human, but even they know better than to just publicly test a bioweapon here."

Both Jacob and Miranda nodded in agreement, since both knew fully well about the workings of the dangerous organization.

"By the looks of it they are here to just collect sample…Research most likely. Still if they many even the slightest mistake they could get infected or spread this thing." Jacob said in a stern tone.

"Then we will be sure to put a stop to that…All we need to do is to find them." Garrus answered back in agreement.

"Then you best look in the northern district…" The Officer said quickly with a short nod. "That area so far has been the more devoid of those things and most likely has that jammer set up. Your best bet of getting there are through the service catwalks that the keepers use."

Garrus gave a nod to him and looked back at his team. "Well sounds like a plan. Let's shut down that jammer and then organize a rescue for everyone here before meeting up with Shepard's team." Looking back at the officer, he then said. "Keep up the defenses here for just a bit longer. We will call you once the coms work again."

"Alright…I'll be sure to keep everyone around here to hold things together. Anyway, just head up to the top level of HQ and take the service exit out. We will lock it once you're out."

"Then let's not waste any more time then." Garrus said, before turning around to head for the stairs up, the rest of the team close behind him. Soon they found the service exit and quickly opened it, looking out to make sure nothing was waiting for them outside. Quickly they drew their guns and moved out onto the large service catwalks, the door behind them closing and locking once they were all out as they went on to their newest goal.

..

Isaac yelled out as he grasped the grabbing claws around his neck, trying his best not to look down at the ground below him. The new necromorph creature shrieked in his face, mandibles snapping at his face, which forced him to quickly lean his head back to avoid them. Suddenly, he lashed out with a head butt right to its forehead, making it cry out as it seemingly lost balance in the pace of its wing beats. Already they were dropping down to the ground, but now the creature's hold around his neck and weakened, allowing him to pull one claw hand away from his neck to breath and to make it easier for him to lash out with a strike with his plasma cutter.

The hard metal of the tool bashed the right side of the flying necromorpher's distorted face, making mandible on that side break off and hand by a small string of muscle. It gave another shriek at him, but he soon had his plasma cutter right up to its neck before firing to silence it. Head falling off, the body started shaking and moving around on its own still, making its wings and arms shaking around wildly. Isaac gave a grunt as it hit him in the chest which caused him to fall back and down to the ground from the force of the blow. Lucky, the wildly flapping wings had slowed the fall and had let him fall closer to the ground to not cause any major harm.

Panting heavily, Isaac stood up and walked over to the fallen corpse of the necromorpher and aimed the cutter up at its wings to shoot them both off with a well-placed shot. It suddenly reached up in pain and gave a low gurgling sound, since it lacked a head now, before fall back dead now.

Already Isaac was on the move once more now, certain that docking center must be close now since the signs he saw along the walls. He just hoped he could get the Ishimura free before this nightmare spread out any more.

...

Eland watched the whole fight between the survivor from the ship and the transformed turian, typing down a few notes into his omni-tool to give to Ronza later.

"I shame -sss- that he did not die." The volus muttered to himself, knowing now that this engineer was becoming more of a threat now.

Not only had he seemed to deal with the normal versions of the creatures, but he was even figuring out how to combat even the newly created ones. If he found a way to even free the Ishimura it would set back their plans for them all and anger Ronza. After all this 'Maker' he mentioned Perhaps they would have to use their mercenary friend to eliminate him then.

Giving a sigh, he looked at the other screens to see the progress of Shepard's group and the Cerberus team. So far Cerberus had been dealing well so far, a bit too well as if they already knew how to deal with such creatures. Still, he knew that Ronza tip had been useful to the Illusive Man, but they should have expected that he would have planned out such a planned out group.

Moving away from the control room and into the large lab nearby where Ronza did his many experiments and studies. He was impressed at how well skilled quarian was in bio-science, something that wasn't expect of the cybernetic focused race. From what he knew, Ronza was focused on the study of his race's weak immune system and genetics, trying to find the flaw to it. However he didn't care much on the quarian's personal studies. After all, they had originally set this lab for illegal organ cloning and drug production, all part of regaining the Shadow Broker's market on the Citadel. Yet with the necromorphs arrival it offered a new opportunity which Ronza, much to Eland's surprise offered to experiment with.

Still, he questioned the quarian's interest on this artifact, this so called 'Maker' trace logs taken from the Ishimura. Ronza believed it to be the source of the necromorphs and that studying it would lead to new advances. Yet it seemed too risky, having to enter the mining ship and avoid whatever dangers possibly lurking inside. Also the way the quarrian looked lately…it had him worried.

Leaving the lab now, he walked into the next room were the subsonic generator was set up, giving a low high pitched hum to show it was powered. Moving up to a control screen, he tapped a few buttons and brought up a map the ward area, showing the spread of the subsonic spread over the necromorpher infected areas. Quickly he changed a few settings, making the machine buzz louder as he increased the power of it to make the more larger creatures head toward Shepard and Cerberus's team locations.

"Hehehe… -sss- It will all be -sss- over soon…" He said to himself as he hurried back to the control room to watch the chaos begin.

However, soon after, Ronza stepped out of the shadows and moved toward the controls, looking at how his partner had set them.

"I will have her at least…she will see how my work will enlighten our kind…" He muttered to himself as he worked on the controls, setting up a much more complex plan for the necromorphs.

Shepard and his team hurried down the hallway, all of them looking around as the howls and crawling sounds of the monsters filled the air. It seemed as if all the creatures were gathering together just to hunt them down.

"We can't out run them. Must find defensive position and take stand." Mordin said quickly as he looked over his shoulder to see faint glowing eyes in the darkness behind them.

"Then let's hope the directions were right to leading to a transit station then." Shepard answered back before the made a sharp turn down the corridor and into the station lobby.

Before he even gave an order, everyone was already moved out to set up a defensive area, moving chairs and benches around to form a barricade or to seal up any nearby doors and air ducts. While, he moved to check the far side of the station, he saw one door open up suddenly and a group of eight figures dressed in black combat armor with hazmat helmets. They soon sealed the door behind them, but when one turned to look at him, he quickly saw the emblem of Cerberus on the chest and shoulder of their armor.

"Sir, its Shepard!" He called out before turning to one member of the group, who was outfitted in a more advanced combat suit.

The leader of the Cerberus group looked at Shepard, his face completely hidden behind the helm and facemask to hide away any expressions from Shepard, who already had one hand trailing back for his heavy pistol.

"Well Shepard…surprising to see you here so soon after leaving Cerberus." The masked Cerberus Agent said to him. "The Illusive Man was very disappointed with your choice with the Collector Base, but this new situation may just prove to be just as useful."

Shepard looked back a bit to see his team noticing the Cerberus Agents as well and were already hurrying to back him up, evening the odds now.

"Is Cerberus behind this somehow then? Some twisted test of some new bioweapon and to make it seem like some terrorist attack." Shepard said to keep the Agent talking.

"We may go to extremes at times Commander, but even this is too far to us as well." The Agent answered back. "We just learned about this…incident and some information about the mining ship through our contacts. Right now we are just here to gather and record…along with removing any annoyances as well…"

Soon he and the rest of the Cerberus soldiers raised they assault rifles up to aim them right at him, setting up armor-piercing mods to their guns.

"I'm not alone in this…" Shepard said back in a more stern tone as he drew his heavy pistol, along with everyone else in his team drawing their own weapons in retaliation. "Besides, we don't have time for this! Those things could break into here any second now."

"Then we will make this quick then…open fire!" The Agent called out, but before anyone could even fire their weapons, the ground started to shake and loud smashing sounds could be hear coming from the sealed doors and vents all around the station.

"Now that sounds like something big…" Thane muttered, as everyone started looking around, forgetting about the fight they were about to have.

Then suddenly, the door that the Cerberus team had sealed just got ripped apart by some large creature that was hidden partly from the darkness of the doorway. It was at least twice the size of a human and had large, thick arms that could easily tear through anything in its path.

With a loud cry, he lunged out of the torn doorway to grab the nearest Cerberus soldier, who cried out in pain as the massive hand cracked bones even through his combat armor.

"Kill it! Kill it now!" He howled out to the others before the creature slammed him into the ground to silence him before grasping his limp body to rip it in two.

"Shoot it!" The Cerberus Agent yelled out, who already was firing off his assault rifle right at the creature's chest.

The rest of the Cerberus team fired at it as well, but most of their shots just hit the bone plating that covered most of the creature's front. It just roared out in anger from their attacks and some just threw the broke body of the soldier at them, making them break formation to avoid the two gory pieces. Then it charged out at the scattered soldiers, punching and swinging at them as they tried to fight it off.

Already Shepard was backing away and turned to look back at his team, but soon saw the other doors that they had also sealed bend and twist as more of these large creatures forced their way into the large station lobby.

"There are too many!" Tali yelled out as she fired her shotgun out at one, making it stagger back from the force of the shots, but hardly hurting it.

Everything was just going to hell now as at least four of the creatures finally fitted themselves through the torn doorways to surround Shepard's retreating team and the Cerberus soldiers.

"Everyone, stay with someone and split up! They can't focus on all of us!" Shepard ordered out, before looking back at the Cerberus team. Another one of the hulking creatures had joined up in the fight, one soldier screaming as he was draw in a crushing bear hug before having his head chewed off by the gapping maw of the brutish creature.

Still, that left the other three creatures left to chase down Shepard and the rest. Already Thane and Mordin with moving for one of the torn exits, each of them firing out at any of the nearing monsters with sniper rounds or incinerate.

Jack was hurrying toward Tali, who was busy keeping one creature back by using a drone to distract it, while she fired at it still with her shotgun. Shepard was already running to her as well, shooting off a concussion shot off at the last monster that was following after him, knocking it over even despite its large size.

As he neared Tali, he opened fire with his assault rifle to the back of the creature, which howled out suddenly from his attack. Looking more closely, he could see that its back was unarmored unlike the front. Taking this chance to injury it more, he quickly reloaded and shot at it more, aiming at the back of the knees until the suddenly gave way and collapsed.

"Run for it Tali!" He yelled out to her as she looked over the fallen creature and right at him. She seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then Jack reached her to pull her away for the nearest exit. Shepard sprinted after them, but as he started to near them the ground shook again, forceful each to make the other creatures stumble as well.

"What the fuck is it now!" Jack yelled out as she and Tali got their balance back and looked around as if expecting something to just burst in to attack them.

However, Shepard could see something moving around in the large vents around them both and already he was moving toward them, hoping to be fast enough to push them away.

Still, he was too late as the large tentacle of twisted flesh forced out of the vent to lash out at Jack and Tali, knocking them both aside and away from each other. The tendril then moved to Shepard hitting him aside before he could even attack and then wrapping around Tali.

Shepard was already getting up, dazed by the blow, but not injured too badly. However, he gave a shocked look as he saw Tali struggling in the grasp of the tentacle, which was pulling her into the vent.

"No, Tali!" He yelled out as he shook off the daze from the blow and hurried to grab her reaching arms.

Grabbing hold of her, he pulled back against the tendril, using every bit of enhanced strength he had to try and free her. But it was just too strong as it was now slowly pulling Tali more to the vent and having her slip more some his grasp.

"Shepard!" Tali cried out to him, her faint glowing eyes have a pleading look in them as she looked right at him.

"Tali! I won't lose you, just hold on!" He said to her as he kept pulling back, but then suddenly felt her hands slip away from his.

For one moment everything seemed to slow as he watched Tali get completely pulled back into the vent, the look of despair just painful to see as she disappeared into the darkness of the duct tunnels.

"TALI!" Shepard yelled out in shock and anger, disbelieving from the many missions he had gone through with her that he would lose her like this.

Looking over to Jack, he saw Mordin and Thane pulled her away to safety for the exit, both of them looking back with saddened faces at their loss. Shepard gave a pained look to them and then looked back to the vent, hearing faint echoes from it still.

"The plan is the same…We regroup at the Ishimura docking bay…" He said to them in a serious tone. "Find Garrus if you can…I'll be back with Tali..."

Before any of them could speak back or even try to stop him, he already climbed into the large air duct and hurried forward, the image of Tali's pleading look still fresh in his mind.

"I won't lose anyone….I won't lose her…" He said to himself as he just followed the dented trail that the tentacle had left behind.

As he made a turn around the long duct tunnel, he felt the metal under him groan as it started to bend more from him standing on it. The duct floor then gave way, making Shepard drop down into the darkness before and to an uncertain fate.

..

Tali just yelled and struggled against the gripping tentacle, trying to free herself from it as she was pulled deeper into the maze of air ducts. She could not aim her shotgun well enough to hit it, since each movement it made had her arm shake, almost making her drop her weapon.

"Shepard…Someone…" She said weakly, her body sore from the tight hold of the tendril and her mind in complete despair.

Soon she was pulled into a large air circulation hub, moving across it for another air duct to who knows where. As she was half way across the room, a sudden sound of a sub-machine gun filled the air, along with the tentacle twitching and shaking as it was shot at. Its grip weakened and soon Tali was able to slip out from its hold to group down to the metal ground. Looking up, he watched the tendril retreat into the vent quickly, leaving the room in complete silence now.

Slowly, she stood up and looked back to see her savoir, hoping it was Shepard who had somehow followed after her. A figure stepped out of the shadows to stand in the faint light of the room, holding a well-designed and custom built sub-machine in hand. Tali have a faint gasp as she saw the dark black and purple environmental suit, then his masked face to fully see that her rescuer was a Quarian. But was more surprising was how see recognized the specially designed suit and faint outline of his face in the mask.

"R-Ronza! Is that you?" She asked in a low and surprised tone as she stepped forward a bit toward him.

The Quarian was silent for a long moment, but soon gave a small chuckle and nod to her as he looked at her.

"Yes…and it has been a long time Tali'Zorah. I'm surprised to find you here with…everything that is going on." He said in a calm and smooth voice.

Tali gave a faint nod to him, but seemed to stop moving toward him as she now stared back at him. "Why are you here though? The Admiralty Board said you disappeared on a mission they sent you on years ago."

Ronza seemed to tense up for a moment, but as quickly as it had appeared, he quickly relaxed once more. "There is more then you know behind that…but we can't talk now with such danger around us." He answered back to her. "I have a safe place for us to hide at, so at let us wait until we reach there before we discuss my reasons for being here…"

Before she could reply back, he was already moving down to a maintenance door which he opened with just one quick command on his omni-tool. As he disappeared into the tunnel, Tali stood there as she was uncertain to follow him or not. Still, she needed to be someplace safe to try and track down Shepard and the others, so she knew she had no better choice left but to follow. Besides, she wondered why the top member of her own flotilla had disappeared from so long and the truth behind it as well.

So, she quickly followed after him, walking into the darkness of the open tunnel to find out the truth of her old closest friend.

Author's Note: Quite the long chapter, espcally with the rewrites and corrections. I do hope the new details are informative and add more to the overall scene. Again comments are very much wanted!