Author's Note: And another chapter down. Read, Review, Favourite and Enjoy!


Chapter 85: The Great Rift Part 6

?M ?D ?H Until the Colossus Fires

It wasn't the worst 'the night after story' that Shepard's heard, though it might be the worst that she's ever been through. Waking up strapped down to a table while an unknown figure was hanging over her with a scalpel. Unfortunately for the alien while he had restrained her physically he didn't do anything about her mind. With a loud snap Shepard used her telekinesis to snap the neck of the alien creature in question before she undid the restraints on her. Shepard looked around the ship, whatever surgery her captor was planning on doing he didn't even have the common courtesy to perform it in a sterile environment.

"These look like some of the Gestalt's monsters. That's some of the Contingencies heads. Oh lovely the Turian's."

The walls were lined with various severed heads done up in the style of hunting trophies. So this wasn't a surgeons operating room at all, this was a butcher's block to clean and carve the kills. On the subject of which Shepard looked down at the individual that was about to start carving her apart.

"I wonder what you do about food around here."

Evidently, the bastard left the stove on. After taking the time to make sure that the large roasting leg of some kind was edible, and more importantly not from a sapient race, with her suit's sensors Shepard started eating the leg as she pondered her former captor. A lizard-like creature, a short snout with exposed crocodile-like teeth and yellow skin. He wore no armour aside from a single mask, and thus Shepard didn't expect to find parts to repair and replace her own armour. Her belly full of food Shepard started to have a look around at what this creature was actually about.

"The hell? I didn't expect this." For what appeared to be a hunter gatherer, the guy was awfully high tech. His arm had cybernetic implants that when a button was pressed on his wrist an arm blade popped out from his fore arm. "A blade this big?" Shepard studied the arm more, feeling around with bare fingers. "It's not a whole limb replacement, which probably means this thing's wiring went through the vitals of the arm." Removing it would've been fatal, This guy would rather be dead than unarmed. "Probably wouldn't do you much good if you get your arm chopped off."

Shepard checked the shoulder next, and found a shoulder mounted weapon of some kind. Using one of the Gestalt hunting trophies on the wall as a target Shepard saw an arrow-like rod fired into the head in question. Further tinkering revealed that the arrow could move forward, backwards or side to side through the helmet, which tracked the eye movements of the wearer as a method of control.

"The arrow is a high frequency blade on the end of a stick of carbon cubrate with remote control retractable fins, and the launcher has an ultra high precision Mass Effect generator." Sounds like Reaper tech, the same techniques they use to make their armour so damn hard to breach. "What else do yah have?"

The boots had spurs built in, presumably to make navigating uneven terrain easier. Something like an Infiltrator's cloaking device was embedded in the chest directly, another hard to non-lethally remove doodad hooked into something that could be the heart or lungs. Oddly enough the bugger had an omni-tool in one of the arms, which so far was the only thing that wasn't designed to auto kill this creature if someone tried to remove it. It should go without saying but it didn't belong to the guy whose arm it was in, as far as anyone can own anything with this region of space in the state it was in.

"Not only were you killed, but your identity was stolen too." Shepard stated shooting a look of pity at the severed head of a Turian. "Still the others I've met so far at least have the common courtesy to develop their own technology." The cybernetic implants in the arms look like something the Tebrids could come up with. They could also be salvage from the Contingency. The arrows could be based on reverse engineered tech from the Reapers, possibly by an eccentric Salarian. "All of your weapons were based on reverse engineered or scavenged technology." Shepard looked around the ship. She didn't have anything like a brand product recognition VI in her grey box. There was a universal translator program though, one that quickly made out the name of companies on different pieces of equipment or instructions, the fact that the words were at least somewhat familiar was proof that this technology and equipment wasn't manufactured by this unknown alien.

"Wonder if the outside is like this too?"

Shepard soon found the hatch of the ship and went outside the ship into a desert wasteland. Shepard looked down at the sand, at the trail of something or someone being dragged through the sand and into the ship itself, probably herself.

"Well, one good salvage operation deserves another." Shepard went back into the ship, looking through her attempted captor's stolen belongings for anything she could salvage to fix her armour. Shepard grabbed various broken pieces of equipment and threw them into a fabricator she found on the ship. "Huu come on. All this crap is too small for me." That's what she gets for being a super soldier. "I wonder if I can find a Tebrid console to program some custom pieces."

After a few hours, Shepard managed to put something together, there weren't any Dragon scales here, aside from the ones she was wearing when she came in. She initially thought that the scavenger might've been trying to take either her cybernetics or the Dragon scales of her armour but among the items he had at the table that she could read she discovered a piece that left a unpleasant thought in her head.

"This is a fence chip for animals!?" Essentially, a small device that when implanted into an animal makes it rather unpleasant for the animal in question when they try to leave a certain area. "Were you planning on putting this into my body?" Which either means that he was planning on keeping her as a prisoner, or a more likely explanation given the hunting trophies, chase her down after releasing her into the 'wild' somewhere. "You sir have a very sick hobby." Shepard left the corpse on the dissection table. She should probably find a place to get rid of it before it starts to smell. Particularly since this ship was currently Shepard's best chance to get back to civilisation.

"Most of these star charts are out of date. It looks like this guy is mapping the place as he goes along. Of course you freaks aren't cooperating with each other."

While the thought of the Thorian Ancestors, those paranoid squid things, whatever the hell those Crayfish were and these B Movie Horror Rejects teaming up with one another to put on a united front was a scary thought, it was inconvenient because her information on how to get back to Union space was limited.

"Even if you did have a map do you even have a hyper drive that can be used to jump between systems." The Mass Relays were destroyed already, last time Shepard checked there weren't any hyper lanes in Council space, that might be changing now though. "Maybe if I check the navigational logs I can figure out a way of getting back to civilisation." Even though Shepard was thinking that she found that the Alien hunter apparently crossed three systems to get here, so he definitely has the capacity to cross systems, even if they were only a few systems. Just so that she wouldn't be running around blind Shepard went and did an inventory of the ship, and discovered the secret.

"It's one of you guys again." Shepard ran into a 'old friend' one of the various Unbidden turned Formless that she and the others had put together, and were subsequently rewarded by being tossed through the void to get her butt kicked by ancient once extinct aliens. "What are you doing here?"

"I was captured like you." The Formless was sitting down with their arms wrapped around their legs all sulking and sullen. "That Tzynn has been generously using my affinity for the weave to transport himself from system to system hunting and scavenging along the way."

"This guy?" Shepard projected an image of the head of the alien that she killed earlier and the new prisoner nodded. "What's the deal with them?"

"The less you know the better." The Unbidden replied in lieu of an answer. "Composer of Strands, Whisperer of Secrets, and Instrument of Desire." Shepard did not miss how the psychic creature froze up in fear at Shepard's listing off the three great chatter boxes that she's run into. "If we count the Animator of Clay there's four of them running around, not that I've met him."

"... you are rather unfortunate." The Psychic creature gave a melancholy tone of voice to the statement. "Are you going to tell me why I'm 'unfortunate?' If it's a bad thing that I met the three of them then why did you guys throw me at the Composer?"

"Haven't you noticed that the space between worlds has been growing more stable?" The Formless gave a turn of the head at their question. "That's 'their' influence. Even their toxic influence is better than the complete break down we were experiencing."

"Why were you guys impatient about the fabric getting put back together?" Shepard thought it over more. "The position of the Lich's is that space returned to normal with time, if you were so impatient then that doesn't seem likely." The Animator of Clay was stuck inside of its pocket dimension with the Zha'Til, by the sounds of things this new batch of Shroud entities came from the Reaper's uncorking their pickle jars. Lots of Reapers were killed at the end of the last cycle. "How many of these shroud gods are running around?"

"...five. Maybe Six its hard to tell." The psychic prisoner seemed to be trying to curl in on itself as hard as possible. "Define 'Maybe?'" Shepard was getting tired of this thing not forking over information. "What are you so scared of?"

"There's another race that has powerful psionics in large amounts, one who has been active longer than any other race has been allowed to be by the Reaper's cycles." The Lich's? "Not only are they holding onto these beliefs themselves but they're perpetuating them, spreading them across the stars. This new being has more power than any of the others but in exchange is less well defined. It's still vulnerable. We don't know if it would win against the four the Reapers unleashed." The Unbidden was scared of what he was talking about.

"You wanted me to learn about them didn't you? But you're too much of a coward to tell me yourself, Wander!" If this region of space was stabilising then that means that the warp entities can send their monsters through or around the Great Rift. "The last will not want to talk to you. He doesn't talk to his enemies: he eats them."

Well that's a lovely thought.

"So does his followers. We have to get out of here." As Shepard was thinking about that she felt the telltale shifting of the ship during take off. Of course the lizards travel in packs. Whatever hunting party the others were on have likely returned to the ship already, and bore witness to the one that Shepard already overpowered and snapped the neck of, and worse yet, see the armour that she's still cooking in the fabricator. "Well this is a fine mess you've gotten yourself into Shepard."

With that said Shepard had a look around the ship. Her knowledge of engineering was limited, more so on council technology. She was however familiar enough to know that being invisible was not the same thing as being intangible. You for instance have to pass through doorways still by opening the door, and likewise when you pass through non-invisible gas like say for instance coolant or exotic gas you are still going to show up. The first thing that Shepard did when she saw the door open was telekinetically break the pipe that was directly next to it, spraying an invisible figure with exotic gas in the process which Shepard then lit up. The Bright green flames lit up the room before Shepard forcibly resealed the pipe with her telekinetics.

"Any idea how many of these freaks are aboard the ship?" The Formless in the jar shrugged it's shoulders by way of reply. "Great. One of those days."

And then Shepard went to do a little bit of hunting of her own. She examined the corpse first, picking up a small handle in the process, which with the push of a button sprung into a full length bow staff with a blade on either end.

"Not exactly a weapon for fighting within the confines of a ship." Shepard stated as she continued to make her way through the ship.

Shepard started swinging the stick around in front of her not unlike a blind person prodding for things in front of them, The principle was the same, looking for things that you can't find. Not a perfect arrangement, but the damned Crayfish broke her helmet and the sonar therein. Another reliable method was to make a lot of noise and see what comes to you. In this case it was an arrow flying at her head.

"Got yah!" Shepard deflected the in coming projectile with the staff and then jammed it where she saw the arrow flying out of the cloaking field. "Now than." With the blade of the stick shoved directly into where Shepard plucked the cloaking device from the other Tzynn that she had already killed the field on the enemy lizard dropped, with them pinned to the wall. "Let's get some answers shall we?" Shepard reached behind her and snapped the incoming arrow that was about to pierce her through the back of her unprotected head. "Hisssk!" The lizard snapped in response. "Alright you wanna play like that?"

Shepard pressed a button located underneath the skin of the side of her head, an emergency timer connected directly to her psi implants, more specifically the psi dampeners. In the event of an emergency the devices can be overcharged to forcibly sever all psionic connections, a failsafe she normally doesn't activate since it requires either a timer or someone on her side present in the real world to activate it.

"10 seconds real world should do the trick. Now then you glutton, what's the deal with you?" With that Shepard entered the Tzynn's mind.

A desert area, not something that always was though, based on the ruins of buildings that Shepard could make out from not too far away from her. That said the scenery is not something that Shepard was here for. The latest monster of the mind was a bright red, with blood and a body that looked like it was composed of sinewy muscle with three sets of arms each holding a different weapon and three heads each with sharp teeth with both over and under bite, each head was looking in different directions of the front, the back left and the right left. In simple terms, it was a monster with three hundred sixty degrees of vision, redundant here in this space considering it's the master of this territory.

"So aren't you going to introduce yourself? Give me the history of the 'Tzynn' or whatever other abomination spawned you?"

Shepard needed Intel, what this thing was about and what could it and its people do.

"No." Instead Shepard got axed, the creature swinging it's weapons at the Dragoon who had already taken out the Winchester and was now firing into the creature's mass. "Unlike the others I am not interested in blindly spreading my influence throughout the Galaxy. I consume!"

"Like say a 'Eater of Worlds?'" Shepard used the gun to block the blow of the swinging monster before kicking away another axe blow aimed at her waist. "You wouldn't happen to be responsible for a gang of insane Formless trying to chew up every world that they come across being released into the galaxy a while back would you? I believe they were called the Unbidden." Shepard ducked out of the way of the axe swinging monster and even gave a follow up blow with her shot gun into the weapons in question blowing them off. "How about the Aberrant?" Shepard caught the 'Eater's' punch and was followed up by a knee to the three headed monster's abdomen. "Or the Vehemont?" Shepard was sent rolling away from the Eater with a triple headbutt. "How many planets are you going to 'consume' before you're satisfied!?"

The only thing that the Tzynn found when or however they started roaming the galaxy was a bunch of dead civilisations that had been ravaged by war. That was what the Eater of Worlds was in a nutshell, the Monster that consumes worlds, in other words war.

"How many do you think it will take before I stop?" The Reapers were coming, it was either all of them had to die or the Reapers were going to wipe all of them out.

It wasn't hard to see the writing on the walls: they've torn down the Reaper's fast travel network, built weapons to 1v1 them, created drugs to protect themselves from them, and slaughtered them by the thousands. By this point in time the smart thing for them to do is wipe the slate clean and start again from scratch, uncork their little pickle jars and rebuild civilisation by cherry picking the remains of all the ones that had come before.

"You're being used you meat head! You and the other three both!" Shepard snapped as the creature she had been fighting charged over once more.

"So what?" The creature replied in the most obvious tone possible. "Your Union, the other three and these Reapers are nothing but food to me." Shepard ducked away from a triple Axe swing.

"You were beaten by those Reapers once already!" Shepard snapped in frustration.

"So what?" The Eater of Worlds shrugged it's many shoulders as it kept its offensive. "Are you under the impression I care if the other side is stronger than me or not?"

As Shepard was about to touch upon that subject one more time she was abruptly pulled out of the mind Palace of the Eater of Worlds by her timer.

"Well there's no point in doing that again." Shepard set another timer, three seconds this time. Shepard did a telepathic sweep of the ship again, she was almost pulled in to meet with the Eater again but this time her dampeners snapped shut before the bastard had the chance. "Three more not counting you." Shepard snapped the neck of her prisoner. "Now time to go hunt some lizards."

Shepard went and hid around a corner, she knew where the other Tzynn were, and thanks to her prodding she knows where they are going too. Not only had Shepard revealed their locations with her telepathic probes, but she had also revealed her location to them as well. Right now all three of the remaining Lizards were rushing towards the area where Shepard had her meeting with the Eater. At once three of the arrows punched through the door at the end of the corridor, swished around the air in front of where their associate had already been dropped. With the Dampener still cutting off Access to Shepard they likely couldn't just pin point her location, so they made do with an area of effect attack, swishing the arrows through the air in the place that they figured they would get the majority of her bodily mass. A few moments later the door opened as the three of them trailed inside. Shepard burst the exotic gas pipe and set it on fire, spraying the three Lizards with exotic gas and together with their Mass Effect fields controlling their arrows blew all three of them up.

"Now then. How do I get the ship working again?"


10M 15D 18H Until the Colossus Fires

Crime unfortunately was a part of reality no matter what civilization that you lived in, violent crime in particular. Even in the modern digital age material resources are still pivotal, and there are always going to be people who make the calculated choice of forcibly seizing the material assets with brute force and violence and then selling them on the black market. Three such bozo's had made that calculation earlier that morning, speeding away on the stolen armoured truck full of Rare crystal that they had hijacked in the process of their theft.

"Come on!"

Garrus was not liking how this situation was shaking out. Not at all. The Chop shop where the truck was in the middle of being taken apart and the Rare Crystal was about to be hidden inside of various vehicle compartments to smuggle it off world had been raided, something or someone had sneaked in already, didn't take any of the millions of credits of merchandise on display though. There were however three brainless dolts who were now missing their heads to go with their missing brains.

FYI, Garrus wasn't working as a beat cop, even though he felt like one, the first of the five incidents where someone had been butchered like this had DNA from an unknown species at the scene of the incident, in other words another of these mystery races that the Reapers had uncorked. Not all of them were criminals either, though most of them had been. The Second incident had been a professional mixed Martial Arts fighter, killed in the middle of practice, and the fourth incident had been a particularly unruly animal known as a 'moose' that was living inside of a zoo on the planet. The pattern was that individuals or groups of individuals with a known reputation for great violence were explicitly being targeted by this creature or creatures. With the moose the idea of some kind of big game hunter being responsible for each of these incidents was brought to the fore front, and while the idea of someone going around and picking off entire gangs of violent criminals might be considered a good thing to a layman, but if this creature or creatures wants to look for bigger game then they'll start targeting Union forces.

As Garrus was taking those matters into consideration he suddenly got a news alert on his omni-tool, and so stood up as he looked at the report he just got, watching footage taken from Eden Prime of the Great Rift being knitted closed.

"So the war front just opened up." A minor alert appeared in the top corner of Garrus's visor, taking a brief note of it he continued with his observations. "The Admiral will be happy, we'll be able to go looking for Shepard." Not that he wasn't happy about the idea of finally digging Shepard out of whatever abyss they lost her in. If anyone can survive that hell hole of an environment then it's her. But back to present situation. "As for you!" Garrus spun around and took out his side arm, aiming at the space directly behind him. "Reveal yourself to me this instant before I pop one in you." One instant later and Garrus fired his weapon into the chest of a Tzynn forcing it back from it's position of attempting to take Garrus's head with its arm blade. "So popping one into the right side of your chest drops your cloak." The creature was hissing at Garrus now, holding it's bleeding wound with one hand and getting ready to slash with the other, and then it notice it's chest pain had disappeared. "Unfortunately for you, this isn't exactly a standard Council issue." Garrus held up his side arm for his opponent to see.

A Union side arm, designed to fire hollow point rounds filled with Medi-Gel. Upon hitting a hard surface, like one of the cybernetic implants, the round shatters and releases a combination of Medi-gel, Thorian spores, and a powerful sedative into the target's body. The third Target had been a black market arms dealer, or more accurately his cybernetically enhanced bodyguards, who apparently had a habit of booby trapping his warehouses for just such occasions. The ensuing explosion left behind the charred upper half of a Tzynn corpse, and after a few deals the corpse in question was in the capable clutches of Tebrid biologists dissecting it's proteins and formulating the perfect formula to take one of the monsters alive.

"It's Vakarian." Garrus stated while he pressed into the side of his forehead, mentally thanking that sonar upgrade that he got for his visor. "We have one of the lizards, alive this time."


Review Section:

RonaldM40196867: Stellaris + Mass Effect = Stellar Effect.

Monster King: I'm not familiar with Galactic Civilization, beyond the one Wiki Search I did after reading your review that is. I must admit the concept of Humanity stumbling into Hyper Drive technology because we were the only ones to stumble into fusion and the only ones mad enough to try and combine it with Mass Effect Technology.

Gianfranco Cembran: Thank you for saying so.