In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization.
In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the farthest stars.
The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of time and space.
They called it the greatest discovery in human history.
The civilizations of the galaxy call it...
It was quiet in the Solar System. The Alliance stealth ship, the SSV Normandy, was flying across the planets, making its way to a Mass Relay. I made my way to the Bridge, to see the action for myself. Something was up, I could feel it in my bones.
Mass Relays are large ships that are capable of controlling large amounts of Mass Effect fields and allow travelers to cross systems without spending lightyears, cutting the time to about 95%.
My name is John Shepard, but my crew-mates and others just call me Commander Shepard. I'm 29 years old and I'm the Executive Officer of the Normandy.
"The Arcturus Prime Relay is in range. Initiating transmission sequence." The Normandy's pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jeff Moreau, or Joker as we call him, announced, as I left my cabin to arrive to the Bridge.
A young corporal passed me, "Commander."
The Normandy started picking up speed, as it flew past Uranus.
"We are connected. Calculating transit mass and destination. The Relay is hot. Acquiring approaching vector. All stations secure for transit."
The Normandy flew out of the Local Cluster and was steadily approaching the upcoming Relay. I arrived at the Bridge and watched. Already behind Joker, and now standing next to me, was a Turian Spectre, named Nihlus Kryik, watching the action.
Turians are the sapient species of a planet called Palaven. Just like Humans are to Earth. They look similar to humanoid bird-like species. Their culture is quite like the Ancient Romans on Earth. Even their names are a dead give-away.
I'm not complaining. We already have a Turian in the crew. Her name is Sidotiria Kryik, but the crew members call her Sid or Siddie, and she's the assistant of the ship's human medic, Dr. Karin Chakwas. And her positive attitude really keeps the crew smiling.
The Normandy arrived to the Relay and Joker announced, "The board is green. Approach run has begun."
The ship flew toward the energy part of the Relay and it was enveloped by the energy.
"Hitting the Relay in 3... 2... 1..."
The Relay shot the Normandy across the stars, traveling through hyperspace.
As we traveled through, Joker decided to check on the ship's systems, "Thrusters... Check. Navigation... Check. Internal emissions sink engaged. All systems online. Drift... Just under 1500 K."
"1500 is good. Your captain will be pleased." Nihlus noted. Then he turned and left the Bridge.
Once was out of hearing range, Joker muttered, "I hate that guy."
The co-pilot, Kaidan Alenko, turned to him, "Nihlus gave you a compliment. So you hate him?"
"You remember to zip up your jumpsuit on the way out of the bathroom? That's good. I just jumped us halfway across the galaxy and hit a target the size of a pinhead. So, that's incredible." Joker snapped, then he calmed down and added, "Besides, Spectres are trouble. I don't see how Sid is related to someone like him."
That's right. I forgot to mention. Nihlus is Sidotiria's father. The only family she has left, at that. Her mother and older brother died when she was young. Her younger sister is currently M.I.A.
You can see the resemblance in appearance, but not in personality. Takes more after her mother, I think.
My thoughts returned to reality, as Joker finished, "And I don't like having him on board. Call me paranoid."
Kaidan looked over to him, "You're paranoid. The Council helped fund this project. They have a right to send someone to keep an eye on their investment."
Joker nodded, "Yeah, that is the official story. But only an idiot believes the official story."
I nodded in agreement, "They don't send Spectres on shakedown runs."
"So there's more going on here than the Captain's letting on." Joker concluded.
The comms activated and Captain Anderson, the ships chief of command, spoke up, "Joker! Status report."
"Just cleared the Mass Relay, Captain. Stealth systems engaged. Everything looks solid." Joker answered.
"Good. Find a comm bouy and link us to the network. I want mission reports relayed back to Alliance brass before we reach Eden Prime." Captain Anderson replied.
Joker nodded and did what he was asked, "Aye, aye, Captain." Then he warned, "Better brace yourself, sir. I think Nihlus is headed your way."
"He's already here, Lieutenant." The Captain answered. Joker shook his head. Then Captain instructed, "Tell Commander Shepard to meet in the Comm Room for a debriefing."
"You got that, Commander?" Joker asked me.
I thought for a second, then answered, "He sounds angry. Something must have gone wrong with the mission."
I turned and made my way to the Comm Room.
I was able to hear Joker scoff and joke, "Captain always sounds like that when he's talking to me."
"Can't possibly imagine why." Kaidan replied.
I left the cockpit to the main commander center. I couldn't help but hear the ship's navigator, Pressly, arguing over the comms.
"I'm telling you, I just saw him! He marched by like he was on a mission." He shouted.
"He's a Spectre. They're always on a mission." Another voice answered on the other end. It sounded like Engineer Adams.
"And we're getting dragged right along with him!" Pressly argued.
"Relax, Pressly. You're going to give yourself an ulcer." Adams calmed.
With that, Pressly saw me approach him. He turned off the comms and saluted in greeting, "Congratulations, Commander. Looks like we had a smooth run." Then asked, "You heading down to see the captain?"
"Sounds like you don't trust our Turian guest." I noticed.
Pressly shrugged, "Sorry, Commander. Just having a chat with Adams down in engineering. Didn't mean to cause any trouble." Then he told me, "But you have to admit, something's odd about this mission. The whole crew feels it."
"You think the Alliance brass is holding out on us?" I asked.
"If all we're supposed to do is test out the stealth systems, why is Captain Anderson in charge?" He pointed out, "And then there's Nihlus." Then he added, "Spectres are elite operatives. Top covert agents. Why send a Spectre - a Turian Spectre - on a shakedown run? It doesn't add up."
I narrowed my eyes at the navigation officer, "You don't trust Nihlus."
Pressly shook his head, "I don't like Turians in general. Runs in the family. My grandfather fought in the First Contact War; lost a lot of friends when the Turians hit us."
I shook my head, "That was 30 years ago. You can't blame Nihlus, or, Sid for that."
Pressly nodded and sighed, "No, I guess not. But it still makes me nervous to have a Spectre on board, especially a Turian."
Then he added, "We're an Alliance vessel, human military. But Nihlus doesn't answer to the captain like the rest of us. Spectres operate outside the normal chain of command."
Then pointed out, "And they don't come along just to observe shakedown runs. Nihlus looks like he's expecting some heavy action. I don't like it."
I nodded, "I'll see if I can get some answers when I see him."
Pressly nodded, "Good luck, Commander."
I continued my way to the Comm Room, until I overheard Corporal Jenkins talking to Dr. Chakwas and Sid.
"I grew up on Eden Prime. It's not the kind of place Spectres visit. There's something Nihlus isn't telling us about this mission." He told Dr. Chakwas and Sid.
Dr. Chakwas just waved her hand, "That's crazy. The captain's in charge here. He wouldn't take orders from a Spectre."
Jenkins shook his head, "Not his choice, Doc. Spectres don't answer to anyone. They can do whatever they want. Kill anyone who gets in their way."
Sid shook her head, "My father is not just an ordinary Spectre. He was trained by one of the very best. If he suspects something wrong, there's a very good reason to expect trouble."
Dr. Chakwas chuckled, "You two watch too many spy vids."
Then Jenkins and Sid saw me approaching. They turned to look at me.
Jenkins saluted in greeting and asked, "What do you think, Commander? We won't be staying on Eden Prime too long, will we? I'm itching for some real action!"
"I sincerely hope you're kidding, Corporal." Dr. Chakwas spoke up, "Your 'real action' usually ends with Sid and I patching up crew members in the infirmary."
"You need to calm down, Corporal." I spoke up, "A good soldier stays cool, even under fire."
Jenkins shrugged his shoulders, "Sorry, Commander. But this wait is killing me. I've never been on a mission like this before. Not one with a Spectre on board!"
Sid giggled, "Jeez, Jenkins. You sound like a Krogan with his first gun."
"Just treat this like every other assignment you've had and everything will work out." I assured.
Jenkins chuckled, "Easy for you to say. You proved yourself on Akuze. Everybody knows what you can do." Then he added, "This is my big chance. I need to show the brass what I can do!"
I shook my head, "You're young, Corporal. You have a long career ahead of you. Don't do something stupid to mess it up."
Jenkins nodded, "Don't worry, ma'am. I'm not gonna screw this up."
"What's up, Commander?" Sid asked, "Something tells me you're not here just to say hello."
"What do you know about the Spectres?" I asked.
"Only what I've heard." Dr. Chakwas answered with a shrug, "Spectre agents work directly for the Citadel Council. They usually work alone or in small groups."
I continued to listen, as she continued, "Spectres don't have any official power, though. Basically, they're a shadow organization with a mandate to preserve and protect galactic stability."
"Protect it at any cost." Jenkins spoke up, "Don't forget that part. Spectres operate above the law!"
"How do you control agents with unlimited power?" I asked.
"If the Council ever caught wind of a Spectre going rogue, they can revoke their status and C-Sec would take over." Sid answered simply.
"Those C-Sec grunts wouldn't stand a chance." Jenkins commented, "A Spectre's worth twenty ordinary soldiers."
Sid lightly glared, "Careful, Jenkins. I have a friend in C-Sec who would beg to differ."
Jenkins ignored her, "The Spectres police themselves. An agent goes rogue, they send another agent to take 'em down. That's Spectre justice!"
Sid sighed with a smile, "Figures. Confusing romantic legends with reality again."
"The captain's waiting for me." I farewelled.
Dr. Chakwas nodded, "Goodbye, Commander."
I continued my path to the comms room. Once I arrived, Nihlus was already inside, looking over the information on a Eden Prime; A vast and beautiful planet that is similar to Earth. It serves as a colony for Humanity.
Nihlus turned and saw me come in. "Commander Shepard. I was hoping you'd get here first." He greeted, then added with folded arms, "It will give us a chance to talk."
I raised a brow at the Turian Spectre, "What about?"
He started pacing, "I'm interested in this world we're going to - Eden Prime. I've heard it's quite beautiful."
I nodded, "They say it's a paradise."
He stopped pacing and nodded, "Yes... A paradise. Serene. Tranquil. Safe. Eden Prime has become something of a symbol for your people, hasn't it? Proof that Humanity can not only establish colonies across the galaxy, but also protect them." Then he turned and asked me, "But how safe is it, really?"
I raised a brow, "Do you know something?"
Nihlus turned back to me, "Your people are still newcomers, Shepard. The galaxy can be a very dangerous place." He folded his arms, looked ahead and asked, "Is the Alliance truly ready for this?"
I followed his gaze, turned and saw Captain Anderson just entering the room. Captain Anderson is not like me. Appearance or personality.
He was African-American, while I was Caucasian with dark hair and blue eyes. He thinks with a calm and peaceful way of thinking. I just want to get the job done and keep others alive.
"I think it's about time we told the Commander what's really going on." Captain Anderson suggested.
I looked at Nihlus as he explained, "This mission is far more than just a simple shakedown run."
I knew it! I looked at Captain Anderson, "I figured there was something you weren't telling us."
Captain Anderson stepped up, "We're making a covert pick-up on Eden Prime. That's why we needed the stealth systems operational."
"There must be a reason you didn't tell me about this, sir." I pointed out.
"This comes down from the top, Commander. Information strictly on a need-to-know basis." Captain explained. Figures. "A research team on Eden Prime unearthed some kind of beacon during an excavation." He answered, as he joined Nihlus, "It was Prothean."
"I thought the Protheans vanished 50,000 years ago." I gasped.
Protheans were an ancient alien empire that colonized numerous systems. Very intelligent. Very resourceful. However something happened 50,000 years ago, and they vanished. Leaving only their technology.
"Their legacy still remains." Nihlus spoke up, "The Mass Relays. the Citadel, our ship drives - It's all based on Prothean technology."
"This is big, Shepard." Captain Anderson answered, then explained, "The last time Humanity made a discovery like this, it jumped our technology forward two hundred years. But Eden Prime doesn't have the facilities to handle something like this. We need to bring the beacon back to the Citidel for proper study."
Nihlus spoke up, "Obviously, this goes beyond mere human interests, Commander. This discovery could effect every species in Citidel Space."
I noticed a change in his tone. Nihlus sounded worried. I looked at the Turian Spectre, "It never hurts to have a few extra hands on board."
He shook his head, "The beacon's not the only reason I'm here, Shepard."
Captain Anderson spoke up, "Nihlus wants to see you in action, Commander. He's here to evaluate you."
Guess that explains why he's on board. Nihlus is one of the most respected Spectres in the Citidel. When something, or someone has caught his interest, means they have potential in higher ranks.
I shrugged, "Guess that explains why I bump into him every time I turn around."
"The Alliance has been pushing for this for a long time. Humanity wants a larger role in shaping interstellar policy. We want more say with the Citidel Council." Captain Anderson answered, then explained, "The Spectres represent the Council's power and authority. If they accept a Human into their rank, it shows how far The Alliance has come."
Nihlus looked at me and spoke up, "Not many could have survived what you went through on Akuze. You showed a remarkable will to live - A particularly useful talent. That's why I put your name forward as a candidate for the Spectres."
I kept my cool and looked at Captain Anderson, "I assume this is good for The Alliance."
Captain nodded, "Earth needs this, Shepard. We're counting on you."
"I need to see your skills for myself, Commander." Nihlus told me, "Eden Prime will be the first of several missions together."
"You'll be in charge of the ground team. Secure the beacon and get it onto the ship ASAP. Nihlus will accompany you to observe the mission." Captain told me.
I nodded, "Just give the word, Captain."
Captain nodded and noted, "We should be close to Eden-"
Then Joker cut him off through the comms, "Captain! We've got a problem."
"What's wrong, Joker?" Captain asked.
"Transmission from Eden Prime, sir. You better see this!" Joker reported.
"Bring it up on-screen." Captain instructed.
The Captain, Nihlus and I turned our attention to the holographic screen. It showed a video of a hot and brutal battle. Not sure what the humans were fighting. The viewer just had its attention to its comrades.
A woman in white and red armor ran toward the viewer and pushed it down, "Get down!" Then resumed firing at the enemy.
The viewer looked around, but the fight made it difficult to make anything out.
A male officer dragged the viewer back and reported, "We're under attack! Taking heavy casualties. I repeat: Heavy casualties! We can't..." An explosion threw him back a bit. The officer recovered and continued, "Need evac! They came out of nowhere! We need-"
Then he was shot down. There was a loud noise and the Humans stopped fighting and stared in awe and fear. The viewer followed their gaze and saw a large, cuttlefish-like machine making a landing. The viewer quickly looked away and tried to get out of the fight. But the fighting got worse and the video cut to static.
"Everything cuts out after that. No comm traffic at all. Just goes dead. There's nothing." Joker reported.
"Reverse and hold at 38.5." Captain instructed. The video reversed and paused at the machine. "Status report."
"Seventeen minutes out, Captain. No other Alliance ships in the area." Joker reported.
"Take us in, Joker. Fast and quiet." Captain instructed, "This mission just got a lot more complicated."
"A small strike team can move quickly without drawing attention. It's our best chance to secure the beacon." Nihlus suggested.
My eyes never left the image. Something about the machine didn't feel right. Like I've seen it before. Like a dream or a vivid memory.
"Grab your gear and meet us in the Cargo Hold." Captain told Nihlus. Nihlus left the room and Captain turned to me, "Tell Alenko and Jenkins to suit up, Commander. You're going in."
I looked at Captain Anderson and looked back at the image.
*Later, in the Cargo Hold, Eden Prime...*
Corporal Jenkins, Kaidan Alenko and I arrived at the Cargo Hold. Captain and Nihlus were already there, ready to get us the objective and move out.
Sidotiria was there too. I walked over to her, "What are you doing here, Sid?"
"I'm here to see my father off. Call it a gut instinct, but I feel like I needed to come." She answered.
Nihlus looked at the Turian Medic Assistant, "Stay inside, Sidotiria. I'll see you when I return."
Sid nodded, "Yes, Father." And she stayed close to the lockers.
Captain looked at Kaidan, Jenkins and I, "Your team is the muscle in this mission, Commander. Go in heavy and head straight for the dig site."
"What about survivors, Captain?" Kaidan asked.
"Helping survivors is a secondary objective." Captain answered, as the doors opened, "The beacon's your top priority."
"Approaching drop-point one." Joker reported.
Jenkins looked at Nihlus, "Nihlus? You're coming with us?"
"I move faster on my own." Nihlus answered. With that, he exit the Cargo Hold. Sid had a very concerned look on her face, then returned to her station. Can't say I blame her.
"Nihlus will scout out ahead. He'll feed you status reports throughout the mission; otherwise, I want radio silence." Captain told us.
I nodded, "We've got his back, Captain."
Captain nodded, "The mission's yours now, Shepard. Good luck."
The Normandy flew over a forest and found a clearing.
"We are approaching drop-point two." Joker reported.
With that, the mission to recover the Prothean beacon was underway.