Lapsed Judgement owns neither Mass Effect nor Dead Space. They are both the property of EA. Lapsed Judgement seeks to make no monetary profit with the publishing of this fanfic.
Foreword: This fanfic deals with Noveria, and for obvious reasons I have taken some liberties with that planet and its facilities. Where possible, I have used Mass Effect and Dead Space as references for locations and other elements, especially with more canonical/canonically-derived moments.
This fanfic details two parallel missions, occurring days apart. Each chapter will take place at a single point in time, focusing on one mission or the other. When a chapter takes place will be made clear at the top of each chapter.
For Mass Effect canon, I have chosen to integrate the Mass Effect 1 and 2 weapons systems, and as such guns have limited-use built-in heat sinks and are designed to work best with thermal clip 'ammunition'.
From Dead Space, Isaac has a role in this story. He will speak, but not particularly often nor for very long, as I preferred him as a silent protagonist in the first game to the voiced version that appeared in the sequels.
CEC Mission ER529
USG Kellion en route to Pax System...
Primary Mission Assets
...Zach Hammond-Chief Security Officer...
...Isaac Clarke-Biotic, Engineering and Ship Systems Specialist...
...Kendra Daniels-Biotic, Computer Specialist...
Seconday Mission Assets
...USG Kellion-Wai Lao-Class Deep Space Shuttle...
...Abdul Hadi-Security Officer...
...Rodrigo Diaz-Security Officer...
Directive A: Determine Fate of CEC Assets on Noveria
Directive B: Diagnose and Repair Communications Blackout
Directive C: Attempt to Determine the Fate of the Missing Mining Vessel USG Ishimura
Chapter Two: Cold Welcome
-5 Days Prior to the Arrival of the SSV Normandy-
The blonde woman in the hologram seemed worn down. Dejected. Beaten. Tired. Isaac knew that Nicole had seen better days, and without a doubt there was something wrong.
"Isaac, it's me. I wish I could talk to you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about everything. I wish I could just talk to someone...It's all falling apart here, I can't believe what's happening...it's strange...such a little thing..."
The hologram cut out, and Isaac sunk a bit in his seat. He had played the hologram in his free time so many times, analyzing it and poring over every moment in an effort to try and understand what was wrong with Nicole. The background looked like some generic facility, with no hints or clues as to what had happened. Nicole gave no clear explanation of the situation, merely discussing the fact that things had fallen apart.
And then, days after having been sent it, CEC had approached him. That job offer she had taken on Noveria, which had been something she herself had been unsure of, which he had encouraged her to take, seemed to have backfired. And if something terrible had happened to his girlfriend because of his encouragement, Isaac wondered if he would be ever able to get over the choice he had made.
"How many times have you watched that thing?"
Isaac shrugged in reply to Kendra's question, not answering the woman's question. The olive-skinned woman kept her gaze on him for a moment, cocking an eyebrow at his nonchalant response, before speaking again.
"Whatever. I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to catch up later," Kendra said, turning away from him to look at the Kellion's viewport.
The deep space shuttle was currently hurtling towards the Pax System and Noveria. And in the distance the icy planet lay, at first a small dot that required Isaac to squint to differentiate it from the other specks of light in the distance, but soon enough Noveria became more visible.
"All of this trouble for the labs down there…" Kendra commented, slightly shaking her head as the Kellion gradually slowed its approach and Noveria began to dominate more of the viewport.
"Those labs, Ms. Daniels, contain valuable research and technology, not to mention there's the disappearance of a dreadnought-sized vessel like the Ishimura."
Isaac rolled his eyes as Zach Hammond replied to Kendra. The bald, dark-skinned security officer had laid his bait for Kendra, and now waited for her to react. Ever since they had been called together and put into a team, Hammond and Kendra had been at each other's throats. Hammond's practical style of leadership and seniority had instantly clashed with Kendra's more snappish, assertive efforts to take on some kind of commanding role within the group. To Isaac's surprise Kendra didn't respond, and instead continued to gaze at Noveria in the distance.
"Now, there we go," Hammond said, as the Kellion slowed to sublight speeds above the atmosphere.
"Where's the Ishimura?" Kendra asked, Isaac watching as she leaned in over Security Officer Hadi's chair, as she seemed to pore over the sights in front of them.
"Any signs of the Ishimura on the scanners?" Hammond asked.
"Negative sir, nothing's showing up except Noveria," Security Officer Diaz replied.
"In that case, Corporal, take us planetside and hail them," Hammond ordered.
"What about the Ishimura?" Kendra asked.
"Our main concern is the labs. Once we've finished things planetside we'll see if we can find our missing ship," Hammond said.
Kendra did not protest and instead simply nodded, stepping back as the two Corporals worked away at their controls, taking the shuttle planetside.
As the Kellion began to pass through the barrier between Noveria's surface and space, the ship began to heat up as it forced its way through the atmosphere like a knife. Isaac watched as Diaz and Hadi worked at their consoles from his seat, mentally hoping for some kind of response from the labs on the surface.
"Noveria Control, this is the emergency maintenance team of the USG Kellion responding to your silence. Please come in, Noveria control," Diaz said.
A strange mix of garbled information began to play over the speakers, causing Isaac to frown as he tried to figure out what was going on. Kendra paced back and forth for a moment, while Hammond put a hand on his chin as he frowned at what was playing.
"We may want to try and boost the signal," Kendra said.
"Agreed. Diaz, boost the signal," Hammond ordered.
No comprehensibility came, and instead the transmission only grew louder and a bit less garbled. With a second play through unsuccessful, Diaz cut the communication and looked back for orders while Hadi maneuvered the ship towards the facilities that Isaac had been told lay on the snowy surface.
"What is it?" Hadi asked.
"Sounds like a jammer or an encoder problem," Kendra said, and Isaac nodded in agreement at this assessment. "Get us down there and Isaac and I can deal with it. Seventy-two hours, max."
"Alright, you heard the lady," Hammond said. "Take us straight to a docking berth, Corporal."
The Kellion made its way over the mountain tops until it began to approach the white, honeycomb-like structure built into the side of one of Noveria's peaks that must have been the main facility. Isaac looked for activity in the structure, but its massive size and few windows made it difficult to tell whether what they were seeing was a bustling hub of corporate research or a silent tomb.
As the Kellion approached the berths, Hadi guided it around as he sought an open area. Finally finding one, the pilot and security officer guided the Kellion towards it. Then the trouble began as the Kellion was rocked by something, the impact moving the ship off-balance and tilted to its left.
"Sir, we just got hit by their surface defenses!" Diaz reported.
"Hadi, get us down there now!" Hammond ordered.
"Why are they firing at us!?" Kendra asked as the Kellion's warning sirens and lights blared and flashed.
"No idea, but they can shred the shields on this little ship with ease!" Hammond said.
The Kellion rushed forward as it sought the safety of the hollowed-out berth, the vessel yawing slightly to the left as it flew through the atmosphere. In moments the ship seemed to have fallen out of range, the Kellion dipping low and crossing the threshold that divided the berth's interior from the rugged, lifeless planetside of Noveria.
Slowing down, Hadi worked furiously at his controls as he attempted to try and get the ship to line up with the docking clamps in the berth. Eventually the Kellion was worked into position, and Hadi disengaged the engines as the clamp came down and attached to the shuttle. Collectively, the crew sighed in relief as their immediate safety returned, Isaac included.
"Is everyone OK?" Hammond asked, looking around at Isaac and the others.
Hadi could be heard cursing under his breath, while Diaz seemed to be at work at his console. Isaac nodded in Hammond's direction in reply.
"What were you thinking?" Kendra asked. "We almost got shot out of the sky!"
"This is the only way to complete the mission, Miss Daniels. Not to mention you would think with their communications offline they would be smart enough to turn off their automated defenses since they have no way to communicate with incoming ships," Hammond retorted. "Now settle down, and let's get to work."
Kendra and Hammond glared at each other for a moment before the bald security officer turned to Hadi and Diaz.
"Starboard booster is offline, and I can't get any interface with the comms," Diaz replied. "We'll need some time to fix it all."
Isaac stood up at this, grabbing his helmet from the floor where he had secured it. Pulling it over his head, Isaac took a moment to get used to the equipment encasing his face. The RIG system that CEC provided for all its employees was practically a mixture of body armor and an EVA suit, something Isaac was grateful for in his line of work. The suit he wore was a bit old, with the gray jumpsuit and the brown, segmented plates showing signs of wear.
"Hang on Isaac, I'm syncing our RIGs."
Kendra tapped at her omnitool, working the yellow hologram for a few seconds before nodding at him.
"Thanks," Isaac said, stretching as much as the RIG allowed him.
"Alright, we're all synced and we've all got a clean bill of health. Let's get this over with," Kendra said.
The computer specialist walked to the rear of the Kellion and exited, Hammond, Hadi, and Diaz behind her. The security officers all took a moment to grab a collapsed assault rifle and pistol from the rack near the rear of the ship before exiting, holstering the pistols at their sides and opening up their rifles.
Isaac followed behind them, looking over the berth and dock that they had parked in. It was dark and shadowy, with the lights at the side of the guard walls flickering every now and then, but for the most part the facility seemed to be in decent shape.
Across the way another berth could be seen, though no vessels lay parked in it, and as Isaac stepped around the various crates and repair equipment he wondered why no one had come to greet them. The attempt to shoot them down had either been accidental or deliberate, and you would have expected whoever was on Noveria to come apologize or to come finish the job.
"We could've lost that whole booster," Kendra remarked, taking a jab at Hammond.
The security chief gave a dirty look at Kendra over his shoulder before continuing to follow Diaz and Hadi, who had taken the lead of the group. Rounding a corner, Isaac noted that oddly enough the door to the interior was unguarded and open, as if it were waiting for them to come inside. And still, no one seemed to be there to greet them.
"Isaac, come unlock this door," Hammond ordered, stepping aside for the engineer.
A closed door lay in front of them, the panel glowing red to indicate it was locked. Kneeling down, Isaac examined the panel. Tapping away for a moment, Isaac activated his omnitool and linked to the lock. In a few moments he found what he needed and sent a signal for the door to open, which caused the doors to part and slide away. Keeping it set on open permanently, Isaac stepped away and admired his handiwork.
"Good job," Hammond said, and the group walked through deeper into the facility.
The next room was also devoid of life, consisting of a lobby of sorts with a still fountain flanked by two bushes and two sets of stairs leading up. To their left and right a few terminals stood, looking like they hadn't been touched in some time. One would think that other visitors would be waiting there.
Following the security crew and Kendra up the stairs, Isaac and the others looked around at their surroundings. The facility's levels of light stayed constant throughout, a shadowy, dark environment that was dimly lit and sterile. Walking past a front-desk area, Isaac noted the deactivated terminals that were placed to the side.
"Hang on, let me see these," Kendra said, causing the group to stop as she turned one of the terminals around and activated it.
Tapping her omnitool, Kendra took some time to go through the data that she could bring up. Bored, Isaac returned to the raised balcony, looking back out at the berth. Hadi, Diaz, and Hammond all shifted from their boredom as they kept an eye out for anything behind him, while Kendra tapped away at the terminal and her omnitool.
"This is strange…" Kendra remarked, piquing Isaac's curiosity and causing him to turn around.
"What is it?" Diaz asked.
"The system is missing almost one hundred days of flight information," Kendra replied.
"It's gone?" Hammond asked, an eyebrow cocked in surprise.
"There's nothing. No incoming or outbound fights, no delivery data, nothing. Someone very thoroughly went through this stuff," Kendra explained.
"When's the last available day of information?" Hammond asked.
"There's information from ninety-seven days ago, and nothing afterwards," Kendra replied.
"If thing's have been going wrong for more than three months, we may have a big problem," Hammond noted. "Anything else of note?"
"Not that I can get out of this terminal," Kendra answered.
"Then let's keep moving," Hammond said.
Walking past the reception area, the crew turned left and walked down another short staircase and turned left again. A small elevator bay was all that awaited them, locked as well. Why had they locked themselves inside?
"Isaac?" Hammond asked, gesturing at the panel.
Once again Isaac got to work, opening up his omnitool and trying to operate the panel. Unlike before, where the door had been locked simply by a manual setting, the elevator was being shut out by the system. Isaac fiddled around for a few minutes before stepping back.
"What's wrong?" Kendra asked.
"It's locked by a quarantine order," Isaac explained.
"Quarantine?" Hammond asked.
"Perhaps that's why they had the cannons activated," Kendra remarked. "Nothing in, nothing out."
"But no warning to anybody?" Hammond asked, somewhat incredulous.
"Well, there seems to be some kind of transmission," Diaz offered.
"I see. Kendra, can you bypass the quarantine lockdown?" Hammond asked.
"I can try," the specialist replied, and she took Isaac's place at the door before activating her omnitool.
A few minutes later and Kendra stepped back with a smirk on her face, the red panel turning green as the doors opened for them to the elevator inside. Everyone filed into the small glass-and-steel chamber, Hadi pressing the button to take them upwards.
The pit in Isaac's stomach seemed to worsen due to the rising motion of the elevator, as his fears regarding Nicole seemed to worsen. No information for ninety-seven days. He had received the message from Nicole a month ago, and it had taken time for CEC to assemble the crew for the mission. Taking a few deep breaths, Isaac decided to hope for the best as the elevator slowed and came to a halt.
The door on the opposite side opened, and the Kellion crew filed out, looking around at the large atrium they had found themselves in. The lights on the wall were still at low power settings here, but it was still dim. However, the room was a bit brighter, owing to the sloped windows in the distance, but the room still had a dimness to it that could not be offset by the presence of the windows.
Stepping past a decorative plant, Isaac and the others all took a moment to look around the atrium. Directly ahead of them to the right was a small lounge of sorts, somewhat secluded through its glass and steel-frame walls. Looking over to the left, Isaac noted that they were on a small balcony, with stairs leading down past a fountain and more plants. Despite the efforts of the people here, the cold concrete, steel, and glass when coupled with Noveria's exterior gave a lifeless vibe. Especially without any people.
"Hello?" Hammond called out.
Silence was the only response the security chief got, the man frowning and somewhat nervously putting his finger on the trigger of his assault rifle. Had the Quarantine started here, and the various workers had fled to outlying labs? Yet the lack of bodies or information, or anything was so wrong and off-putting, and Isaac felt his hopes sink.
"Hammond, come look at this," Diaz said, pointing up at the ceiling in the distance.
Squinting through his suit's visor, Isaac tried to figure out what he was staring at until his eyes locked on a section of the ceiling where it looked like something had broken through the lights and tiles, and had dragged some of the wiring with it.
"Come on," Hammond said, beckoning for the others to follow him. They walked over cautiously, first making their way straight ahead from the elevator and then turning left down the stairs. Stopping at the landing, Hammond led them to the right across a small bridge over one of the sloped fountain and stopped once reaching the middle of the other side.
Above them the damage to the ceiling lay, the frayed edges of tile and the hanging wire ends dangling over them. Isaac squinted up for a sign of what the purpose of this area had been. Was it lighting? Power? Extranet? There was no way to tell what had been damaged here.
"This isn't explosives," Hadi remarked.
"Agreed, Corporal. The cables would have been destroyed as well. Looks more like something punched through the tiles," Hammond said.
"Punched through the tiles?" Kendra asked, backing up a bit.
"Drilled could also be accurate, but the edges of the tile aren't a neat perforation, not to mention I have no idea how you would get a drill of that size up into those shafts, Ms. Daniels," Hammond mused.
The Kellion crew took another moment to look over the damage, before their eyes turned from the ceiling back to what lay around them.
"Well, there's no one here. Where to, Chief?" Diaz asked, hefting his rifle.
"There's likely an administrator's officer nearby. We'll see if there's anything we can get from there, and then we'll make our way over to Peak 16 and the CEC Labs," Hammond answered.
Turning to the left, Hadi led them down another set of stairs to the final level, and then to the left again as they passed several large concrete dividers. Passing the dividers, a large stone wall and set of glass doors greeted them. In Isaac's opinion someone had spared no expense at making this place as grandiose and sterile as possible, and it did little to alleviate the rather dead atmosphere in the area.
Upon reaching the door Isaac was glad to see that the office was open as the door slid silently open, providing them with an open path inside. Once inside Isaac noted a small desk and chairs greeting them, but considering the openness and lack of privacy he doubted this was the Administrator's Office. Too open, even with the stone barrier directly behind it, and a place like Noveria probably had a rather lucrative corporate espionage industry.
"Someone did a number on that terminal," Kendra noted, pointing at the two halves of the computer that were left on the desk.
"Odd way to dispose of it," Isaac commented in agreement.
Passing the desk and looking at the other side of the barrier, Isaac noted that another door awaited them, this one with a lock on it. Fortunately the panel still glowed green, which meant that no hacking or working around with it would be needed to get access to the actual office they were looking for.
The Administrator's Office was as sterile as the last few rooms, only this time the place had been trashed. The desk had been slammed into the wall, and one of the plants had been knocked on its sided. No terminals, no papers, nothing with information that they could use could be seen.
"This is a dead end," Isaac remarked.
"I don't know Isaac. I'm beginning to wonder if we should go back to the Kellion rather than keep going," Kendra said.
"We have a job to do, Ms. Daniels. Stopping now means going back empty-handed, something CEC won't tolerate," Hammond replied.
Deep down Isaac wanted the mission to continue, though he was far less concerned about his job and more concerned about Nicole. Kendra at least had the fact that the whole facility was locked in Quarantine to support her view, but without any signs of warning, disease, or animals Isaac wondered why the facility was sealed like a crypt.
"Hammond, we violated quarantine. Someone put that up for a reason," Kendra argued.
"Peak 16 is only a tram ride away. All we have to do is go in, see what happened there, and get out after fixing up the Kellion," Hammond replied.
Kendra said nothing as she thought over the risks and the odds. Isaac, Hadi, and Diaz said nothing as they watched the two, neither for nor totally against leaving immediately. Eventually the tension was broken as Kendra sighed in surrender.
"Alright, fine. But if this spirals out of control Hammond it's all on you," Kendra said, admitting defeat and deferring to Hammond.
"Then let's go," Hammond said, the security chief leading the group out of the office and back out into the atrium. Following Hammond, Isaac and the others followed him over across the atrium to the area across from the Administrator's Office, and then to the left past a corridor marked 788 with an image of a car of some kind, which was most likely a garage. To the right of the garage entryway was another corridor, this one marked by a sign with an image resembling the front of a train and numbered 789.
"This should take us straight to the tram terminal that can access Peak 16," Hammond said, leading them through the corridor and down the stairs to the bottom.
"It's not a direct path?" Hadi asked.
"No, Peak 16 is serviced along with a few other labs at the same terminal that connects to this tram line," Hammond explained, looking back over his shoulder as he led them underground to the station.
Here things were even darker, as fewer lights and no windows did little to alleviate the gloom of the subway system. Spreading out, Isaac took a seat at a nearby waiting area, the cleanly carved stone providing a bench for those waiting for the tram. Locating a kiosk of some kind, Isaac watched as Kendra booted it up and began to tap away at the yellow hologram.
"Can we get a tram working?" Hammond asked, as he watched Kendra frown and her tapping begin to get more aggressive.
"Yes, but I have to override the quarantine lockdown, and there's something wrong with the return track," Kendra replied.
"What's wrong with the return track?" Hammond asked.
"Something's in the way, apparently," Kendra replied with a frown.
"We'll need to get rid of it before we can get back," Hammond noted.
A few minutes later and Kendra stepped back from the terminal, and stepped back from the kiosk. A few moments later and Isaac perked up as the rumble of the tram began to echo through the tunnel. Standing up, Isaac and the others lined up at the track, until finally with a rush of wind and the clattering of tram cars the tram pulled into the station. The doors slid open with a slight hiss, and Isaac, Hammond, Kendra, Hadi, and Diaz all stepped inside, scattering themselves around the tram. A few seconds later and the doors slid closed again, and the tram set off for the connecting terminal to Peak 16.
From his corner in the tram, Isaac passed the time by opening the hologram of Nicole, once again poring over its every detail. Nothing new jumped out at him, and Isaac closed it after two viewings to get his mind off his missing girlfriend. Nicole would be alright.
After several minutes Isaac could see some light in the distance, while the tram slowed down as its destination became more apparent. The Kellion crew all stopped whatever they had been doing to pass the time, preparing themselves for disembarking as the tram slowed to a halt at the station.
The doors slid open once again, and Isaac followed the others outside to the terminal that serviced Peak 16 and other labs. To their left was a wide cavern that extended outwards, with five tracks leading out to other locations. Over each track an orange sign indicated where the tram on that line ran, with an image of a mountain and the numbers fourteen through seventeen all marked.
To their right, a small service desk with its own terminal was abandoned, showing no signs of struggle or damage that they could see. Kendra moved to this quickly, booting up the terminal and trying to get any information out of the computer. Hammond in the meantime led Isaac over to the Peak 16 line, which still had a tram in place along with Peaks 14 and 17.
"Anything on that terminal?" Diaz asked.
"This one was scrubbed thoroughly as well. Nothing's here," Kendra said, displeased as she pushed the terminal away.
"Warning: Hazardous Anomaly Detected."
The group froze as the overhead lights went dark and the lights on the wall turned to an orange-ish yellow. Isaac and Hadi currently stood near the Peak 17 Tram, Diaz and Hammond near the tram to Peak 16, while Kendra was still close to the tram that they had entered from.
"What's going on?" Diaz asked, bringing his rifle up and activating the teal green laser sight on his weapon. The security officer backed away from Hammond, stepping past the others and the tracks as he approached the Peak 14 Tram as he searched the room.
"Calm down corporal. I don't think we're the anomaly, or the alarms would have activated sooner," Hammond said, the chief security officer scanning the room.
Isaac began to back up towards the tram, nervous and unsure of what was going on, while Hadi remained oblivious to what was going on. Kendra began to slowly make her way towards the other Kellion crew members as Isaac crossed into the tram, waiting for the others to join him. That's when Isaac heard the muffled sound of something being smashed, and a shadowy figure jumped down from the ceiling on top of Diaz. The man cried out as the figure landed on him, and Isaac watched in horror as the creature stabbed into the security officer with something resembling scythes at the end of its arms, which were shortly followed by screams of pain. The whine of a dead team member emanated from Isaac's RIG as Diaz's vitals went offline.
"Open fire!" Hammond bellowed, the man blasting at the creature with his own assault rifle, Hadi soon joining him from where he stood.
Kendra ran towards the trams in panic as she realized what was going on, everyone's eyes on the attacking creature until Isaac heard another crash from behind him. Another creature, this one much easier to glimpse came into view as Isaac whirled around, Hadi doing the same as he also heard the sound.
It was vaguely humanoid, looking fairly close to a human and not some other species as it charged Hadi, slamming the man down next to the door of the tram as it howled. Colored a mix of brown and pink, it looked like a human stripped of its skin and it almost looked like its arms had been carved into the shape of a pair of wicked sharp blades, which it stabbed down in a bid to kill Hadi, thankfully missing with both.
"Help!" Hadi cried, but Isaac stayed in place in fear. Without a weapon Isaac could do nothing as Hadi's rifle was batted away by the creature, and the man was forced to roll from side to side as it stabbed downward. Hammond in the meantime was at work with the creature that had killed Diaz, the thing dodging from side to side and using the walls to avoid the man's shots.
Kendra attempted to get onto the Peak 16 tram, but upon realizing that a struggle was going on she readied her biotics, preparing to try and Stasis the creature trying to kill Hadi. But she was too late as the creature finally found its mark, a blade-like forearm piercing the RIG and going through Hadi's stomach, the man howling in agony as the creature stabbed in and out. Yet despite this Hadi still managed to reach for his pistol, drawing the weapon and firing it at point blank into the creature's chest.
"Kendra, get that gun!" Hadi snarled, pointing at the assault rifle at the side giving another cry of pain as his chest was stabbed again.
Then, in a flash the creature's arms moved again, slicing Hadi's arm from his body and causing the security officer to scream as he was dismembered. Kendra finally put the creature in stasis, buying some time as Hammond backed up towards them.
"Isaac! Get out of here!" Hammond ordered, and Isaac complied as he scurried into the Peak 16 tram, making his way to the front of the vehicle and activating it. The doors hissing closed after a few seconds, and Isaac quickly found a seat before the vehicle really started moving. He watched as Kendra and Hammond fought their way towards the Peak 17 tram as his own ride sped away, and as the darkness consumed the tram Isaac heard another whine of death from his RIG. Hadi had most likely been finished off.
As the tram hurtled away, Isaac hoped none of those creatures would ambush him in the closed space…
I appreciate any and all Follows, Favorites and Reviews. Input is always welcome, so feel free to let me know about what was good and what was bad.
Until chapter 3, thanks for reading.