And now, I bring you the final chapter of The Supernovas of Mass Effect. Anticlimactic after that last chapter, I know, but it was necessary to give an epilogue.
That said I'm still taking a short break after this. I desperately need to recharge, and the holidays are the perfect opportunity to do so. I'll doubtlessly get bored and start the sequel before too long though, so keep your eyes peeled. It will be filed under the same categories as this fic, with Cole MacGrath still logged as the primary protagonist. The title?
The Supernovas of Mass Effect: One Way Flight.
Guest Reviewer "no one" asked: "Are the Assassins, Ezio, Connor, Altair, Edward, etc. Novas too?" First off, it's "Supernovas" that you're asking about I think. Novas only exist on my threat assessment scale. (See the very bottom of Chapter 9 for more details.) Second, I've mentioned Desmond Miles as the Supernova a couple of times I believe. He has mastered the skills of all ancestors, and he's packing the best of each generation's gear. I'd explain more, but that's literally a story for another time (Read: a future project). If you're asking whether an Assassin will fight against Reapers, then the answer is an undisputed yes. And it will be glorious.
Until then, enjoy the epilogue of this absolutely wild ride! Happy Holidays people!
Summary: Saren and Sovereign are dead at last. The geth and Reapers have been stopped. Where does the "dream team" go from here?
Spoilers: Yes, the usual are here, along with moderately spoiler-heavy references to Assassin's Creed. The warning, however, is for all things Cerberus.
Disclaimer: If I owned anything here, you'd be mad at me about the ending of Mass Effect 3. Thus, I consider myself lucky.
The Real Work Starts Now
Station of Nostalgia
"Yes!" 101 shouted. "Suck it you giant cuttlefish!"
Revan shook his head. The Lone Wanderer's occasional rowdiness was born from a life in the Capital Wasteland, but many found it endearing. "They've won the battle, but the war is far from over."
"Bah!" the Voidhound scoffed. "Let these heroes have their moment. They've earned it."
Kessler snorted. "They need to prepare for the Reapers, and nothing else."
"They need rest," Shepard declared. Everyone looked at the Commander in confusion. "Considering the hell they'll soon be walking into on my behalf, it's only fair to grant them a brief respite."
Clay Kaczmarek, the crazy Subject 16, chuckled a bit. "You hear that boys? Sheppy just gave you some shore leave! Drink up me hearties!" he yelled down to the unaware Supernovas.
Everyone groaned slightly, recalling Desmond's pirate ancestor as an endless source of amusement for both "deceased" Assassins.
Shepard actually laughed. "Indeed. They can toast to the death of a machine god."
The Nerevarine pantomimed raising a glass to that notion. "I've been there."
One by one, the Uniques stepped out. Soon, only Revan and Shepard remained. While the others cared for the large moments, the turning points, the pair of galactic saviors intended to see the full story from beginning to end.
Three Days Post-Battle
Two days ago, Ashley's arm was put in a sling and her clavicle was reset. Tali was placed in sterile quarantine as Doctor Chakwas personally took care of her leg. It required removing a section of her suit, and Tali there was only one physician in the galaxy she trusted enough for that. Liara actually had it the easiest of the wounded. Salarian STG personnel carry antidotes for turian cabal venom at all times. A simple application of the serum and a few stitches was all the asari needed to fully recover. Wrex got away with only a few scratches and burns, though as a krogan, nobody was surprised.
But they were still waiting on Garrus to wake up. His wounded face was patched back together, albeit with serious difficulty and minor use of implants. The majority of the right side, especially the mandible, would never look the same again. He would live though, and to the crew, that was all that mattered. They simply were going to stay by his side until the team was complete again. Paparazzi and C-Sec agents alike tried to approach the heroes for vastly different reasons. With Alex, Wrex, and the Chief – back in his armor already – guarding the door however, it didn't take a genius to figure out what would happen if they got too close.
Suddenly, Ashley gasped. "Holy… Guys, he's up!" Ryan called for a nurse as their turian sniper finally rejoined the waking world.
"Oh my head," Garrus groaned. "Did anyone get a license plate for the truck that hit me?"
Cole chuckled. "I thought that was your job, Officer Vakarian."
"I quit C-Sec, remember?" It was around now that the turian felt the bandages covering most of his face. "Oh damn. Someone either give me a mirror, or tell me how bad it is."
"Hell Garrus," Alex chuckled. "You were always ugly. Nothing I little face paint can't fix."
Wrex chuckled. "When the doctors realized that face was your only real asset, they did everything they could." The krogan sneered. "Let's hope it's enough."
Not even hospitalization could put Garrus down in a battle of wits. "Funny Wrex. I thought that krogan liked women with scars. Careful not to let me near Tuchanka or you'll have competition."
For an hour or so, they all just kept trading back and forth like this. The reality of what had happened hadn't really sunk in yet. Not even for the Supernovas. Like all good things, it was destined to end though. A salarian decked out in black and orange armor calmly walked into the hospital. He was alone, but a look at his neuroelectric signature told Cole something was off.
The conduit wasn't the only one sensing problems. Wrex by and large didn't trust salarians in general, but this one seemed like actual trouble. Ryan and the Chief saw the amphibian's eyes flicker in all the right directions for a tactical assessment. Alex, well…
"Jondum Bau, I'll be damned." The virus remembered him from after Elysium. The Salarian Union held a small inquisition to get a sample of biomass from Alex Mercer and failed. Bau was there to 'guard' the Dalatrass, for all the good it would have done. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Yeah seriously," Ryan agreed. "Most people go their whole lives without seeing a Spectre. You're the third one we've dealt with this week, and the first two have tried to kill us."
Bau chuckled. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that." The salarian's smile disappeared as he became all business. "I'm here to escort all four of the aptly-named 'human dreadnaughts' to a meeting with the Citadel Council."
"I did my job," the Master Chief recited. "Nothing more."
Alex translated for Bau. "The Chief's saying that he doesn't give a damn about the Council's prepared speeches on how 'grateful' they are." The sociopath smirked. "But I'd love to hear what they have to say."
The salarian nodded. "I'm sorry, but the Master Chief, both Spectres, and you, Doctor Mercer, are required to attend."
This got everyone's attention. Liara frowned. "Why Alex?" After C-Sec's manhunt, wouldn't the Council prefer to stay as far away as possible?"
Bau's smile was back. "It's nothing malevolent, if that's what you're asking. The Council wishes to apologize, a rare occurrence for them, I assure you."
"What about the rest of the team?" Cole challenged. "They get recognition too right?" He made a sweeping gesture across the room of fire-forged friends. "They're heroes too, possibly more than we are."
"I promise they'll receive credit where credit is due," Bau calmly replied. When he didn't elaborate, they knew that was all the salarian would say. They also knew a hospital wasn't the best place to refuse a Spectre's request. Too many innocents could get hurt if he had a contingency plan. And as a salarian, he probably had at least six.
Against their better judgment, the Supernovas motioned for Bau to lead the way, but not before they left Wrex in charge. Considering how many bad guys they'd pissed off in the last few months, even a krogan guarding the door seemed insufficient for protective detail.
The crew watched as the three craziest "humans" in the galaxy went off to face the Council's judgment. Would they be hailed as heroes like Bau had said? Or would the Council again try and dispose of that which they'd never be able to control?
"Keelah se'lai you mad bosh'tets," Tali whispered, voicing the entire squad's sentiments. It was a strange concept when she thought about it. Those four had left their own homeworlds behind, either indefinitely or permanently, all for the purpose of defending the homeworlds of others.
As they walked up to where the Council was standing the Supernovas noticed many things. First, Udina's face was sporting a massive bruise, and the thought of Anderson undoubtedly leveling the bastard put a smile on even the Chief's face. Second, they noticed that there were twice as many "concealed" snipers as there had been at any previous meeting. Against all common sense, it was actually a good sign. It meant that the Council had pulled their heads out of their asses and realized exactly who they were screwing with. This was confirmed by everyone's awkward postures. They knew that the "humans" had been right. They had saved the galaxy and the Council. But to do so, they had defied the Council, humiliated a Spectre, and evaded the Citadel's finest the entire time. The nail in the coffin should have been when Alex had told the Councilors in no uncertain terms to "shove it" before the set out for the Mu Relay. It should have killed humanity's chances at gaining anything close to an influential role in the galaxy.
Yet everyone knew that wasn't going to happen. Not after the Fifth Fleet had saved their bureaucratic asses from the geth. The entire ordeal, the defiance, the excursion to Ilos, the return with aid from Arcturus, Saren and Sovereign's defeat, everything. It utterly embodied those traits the Council had come to realize as the defining qualities of being human. Relentless, determined, and untamed, yet always effective at accomplishing what they set out to do.
Tevos put on an impassive face, though the gratitude shining through was real enough. "Ambassador, Captain, Spectres, Master Chief" she paused briefly. "Doctor Mercer." Alex smirked, but the asari Councilor continued. "We have gathered here to recognize the enormous contributions of the Alliance forces in-"
"'Contributions'?" Cole echoed, tired of their words already. "No, no. Playing pioneer along the Terminus' edge where you can judge the safety of a colony by whether the human settlers live or die. That's a contribution. Donating the Alliance's cutting-edge stealth ship to a couple of 'humans' that now take orders from the Council. That's a contribution." The conduit glared at the three politicians. "Sending hundreds of good men and women to their deaths so that you three could keep breathing? That's damn sacrifice."
Ryan put a hand on his fellow Spectre's shoulder to calm him, though he wasn't much better himself. Had Commander Riley been on the Hong Kong when it got decimated saving the Ascension, the shouting and shooting would have already started. By some miracle, the N7 engineer had been promoted to Captain and transferred mere days before to the costly battle. Ryan forced away his current line of thought and focused on the present. "We saved you for the good of the galaxy. Honor the fallen through action, not words. That's the kind of species you know we humans are."
For a moment, the Presidium was silent as the Council remained tongue tied. Alex snorted. "If you'd just listened to us, then this wouldn't be an issue. We almost caught Saren on Ilos. Because you grounded the Normandy, he had enough of a head start to escape. Like we said, everything that's happened is on your hands." The virus folded his arms and leaned back against a piece of Sovereign – which promptly buckled under his weight without the rest of the Reaper holding it together. "The only question is, what are you gonna do to fix it?"
Sparatus raised a hand for silence. "Despite my prejudice, I'll admit that humanity is a force to be reckoned with. And even among humans, the four of you are like nothing the galaxy has ever seen. You embody many admirable qualities found throughout your species." He gestured to the Master Chief. "An adaptable military, brave and powerful." Then Sparatus turned to Cole. "You fight for what you believe in with remarkable determination."
Valern nodded before motioning to Alex. "You're tenacious in pursuit of your goals, never giving up and trampling any opposition underfoot." The salarian councilor finally looked at Ryan. "And since day one, almost everything has been on your terms."
"In short," Tevos finished. "We understand now that humanity will never truly submit to Council authority like the other races. You disobeyed us even to save us, sacrificing countless human lives so that a governing body you don't particularly care for could maintain peace and stability in the aftermath of Sovereign's attack. Because of you, not only are we alive, but billions were saved from the Reapers."
"Oh, now they believe us?" Cortana grumbled in the Chief's helmet. The Spartan himself remained silent.
The asari held her arms out wide. "I believe you humans say, 'If you can't beat them, join them.' In this case, join us. Join the Council. We don't extend this offer simply to honor the countless lives you sacrificed to save ours, though that is a large part. Your race has accomplished much in a brief time, often in spite of our efforts. Put that same determination to use alongside us, and help us rebuild and become a greater civilization than ever before.
"Done," Cole instantly replied, not giving Udina time to kiss their asses any more. "And we've already got the perfect candidate."
Ryan grinned like a true fox. "Captain Anderson."
Udina's eyes practically bulged from his head. "Y-you've got to be joking! He's a soldier, not a politician! He prefers to let his fists do the talking!"
David Anderson laughed slightly, and the Supernovas all had knowing smiles. "Only with you, Ambassador. Only with you."
Alex gave a sadistic chuckle. "Put it this way, Udina. We're about to put a human on the Citadel Council. That human will assign missions to our Spectres." He pointed at Cole and Ryan who waved cheekily at the fuming bureaucrat. "Now what makes you think they'll take your orders over those of a man we genuinely respect?"
The Chief stepped forward. "Oorah."
The message was clear: the Spartan would never follow someone like Udina.
Sparatus once again surprised everyone. "If it means we're less often at odds with the most dangerous men in the galaxy, the Council would gladly welcome Captain Anderson into the fold." The turian bowed. "Should he accept, of course."
Anderson was much more formal now, making up for the insubordination of humanity's powerhouses. "I'm honored, Councilor. As humanity's representative, I'll do everything in my power to help the Council rebuild."
Sparatus took on a more businesslike tone, unwilling to go soft for a bunch of humans just yet. "Sovereign's defeat marks the dawn of a new era. Both for humanity and for the rest of the Council."
"Save that routine for the press," Alex quipped, though there was no malice this time. "Sovereign was one Reaper, and there are thousands more on the way. Killing their vanguard hasn't done much more than piss 'em off."
"We'll stop them," the Master Chief affirmed simply, like it was a foregone conclusion. Cole and Ryan pounded fists before marching off with Spartan and virus in tow.
"They're right," Anderson stated to his now-fellow Councilors. "Humanity is ready to do its part. United with the rest of the Council, we have the strength to overcome any challenge. When the Reapers come, we must stand side by side. We must fight against them as one!" The Captain-turned-Councilor pounded one fist into the palm of his other hand. "And together, we will drive them back into dark space."
Even Udina couldn't deny the passion in Anderson's voice. They all began to make plans for how best to control the fallout of Sovereign's attack. C-Sec was down countless men, and the public was scared beyond belief. The "heroes" had done their job. Now the politicians had to do theirs, and they'd do it well.
Two Days Later
"Get us out of here Joker!" Ryan yelled. "Don't let the press even catch our taillights!"
"Aye aye, sir!" Joker responded, already pulling out of the docking bay. "Good thing we're not sticking around. They'd probably make me shave for at least one of those celebrations or speeches. Save the galaxy and I still can't keep my beard."
"Fame's a real bitch, ain't it?" Cortana chimed in on the comm. "That's why the Chief avoids cameras."
As much as they would have liked to stick around and bask in the glory, the crew really wanted to get on with their lives. They graciously accepted their awards from the Council and Alliance before running like hell back to the Normandy.
Alex laughed manically before moving aside as Liara practically sprinted to her quarters. The archaeologist had been itching for days now to archive their discoveries on Ilos. She knew many would doubt her, but she had uncovered the truth. And to asari and apex predator alike, the truth meant more than any amount of publicity. This week, it was the secret of the Prothean Extinction. Next, the secrets of the Reapers. That passion was something they shared along with powerful mental fortitude and a long lifespan.
The sociopath's shook his head at the thought. Their "thing" was still largely up in the air, even after their time before reaching Ilos. Still, Alex knew that Liara was different to him than most people. It was hard to say she was worth dying for when he couldn't die, but the virus then had an epiphany. "Maybe she's worth living for…" A cliché idea, but not an unwelcome one.
Garrus was still recovering, but he told them to leave without him. He was staying behind to rejoin C-Sec and eventually reapply for Spectre training. The sniper made them promise not to do anything particularly stupid on the Citadel in the future. The cocky SOB's exact words were, "It would be awkward as hell to try and place you under arrest."
Tali was still with them, but not for long. She had made a few calls and arranged safe and secure passage back to the Migrant Fleet. Of course, they wouldn't be taking her anywhere until she'd returned to full health. Quarian immune systems and all that. When Ryan was ordering the High Fives to be destroyed before anyone could copy their design and start a new arms race, she even gave hers up. Tali said that keeping the experimental tech would only worsen the "space thief" stereotype attached to her people. Even now she thought only of others, both the Fleet and her makeshift family on the Normandy.
Ryan knew he'd probably never see Tali again once she left, but the mission she'd signed up for while on Pilgrimage was over. They'd keep in touch via the extranet for sure, but he'd already asked far more of the young woman than he had any right to. She knew his terrible secrets and they would still part as friends. That alone was enough. It was interesting to know such a selfless individual. Born to a city founded upon the idea of an objectivist utopia, it had been a refreshing change of pace for the Splicer King to work with someone like Tali.
Ashley remained onboard as the marine detail, but nobody was surprised. She'd found a family in the Normandy just like all the rest. Her commanding officers knew of the Williams Curse, and they didn't even care. Of course it was probably because they had much larger, uglier skeletons than she could ever imagine. Technically, even they were aliens, no matter how human their appearance. But she knew now that species didn't matter. Fighting the Reapers did. If these crazy freaks planned to kill an army of Sovereigns, then she wasn't complaining one bit. The eldest Williams sister did expect to do a lot more praying in the near future however…
Wrex was hitching a ride back to Tuchanka. They could see in his eyes that he had plans, but the old battlemaster wasn't sharing. Wrex had always been more progressive than most of his krogan brethren. There were just two big differences now. Sovereign and Saren. The former had a few thousand friends coming out of dark space to eat the galaxy, and just like with the Rachni, it would take krogan blood to turn the tide. The latter had tricked the krogan, deceived them all. The destruction of his facility on Virmire was the perfect opportunity for Wrex to return home and make some changes. "Big changes" he'd said at one point.
The Master Chief simply climbed into a sleeper pod set for cryo and modified for his size. Until shooting started again, the Spartan wasn't really needed. Cortana would wake him the moment he was.
Cole sat in the copilot's chair next to Joker. He couldn't fly for shit, but that wasn't the point. He was in a territory that didn't rely on gas or gunpowder. The Prime Conduit could sit in a vehicle without blowing it up, carry a gun, and enjoy countless other experiences that his "gifts" had taken away or otherwise made difficult. The kicker? He was a hero instead of a pariah. The Saint instead of the Demon. People would be willing to trust him now instead of calling him a terrorist when they thought he couldn't hear. Sure, he was still a freak, but that wasn't ever going to change.
The conduit actually grinned when that last thought came to mind. He'd actually increased his status as a freak since coming to this job. His full power had been restored, filling a void he once would have welcomed back in Empire City. This place was doing wonders for him, and they'd just gotten started.
"Punch it Joker," the Electro-Spectre ordered, getting out of the chair and joining Ryan at the galaxy map.
As the best pilot in the Alliance fleet hit the Widow relay, the Splicer King chuckled. "Good news first. The galaxy's in great shape. We've got pirates, gangs, and slavers all rabid for an easy score after the attack left Council Space vulnerable. While everyone focuses on the restoration effort, backwater colonies are going to get hit even harder."
Alex grinned in anticipation. "Then there's issue of kicking the geth out before they get any cute ideas. We did kill their 'god' after all. Also, between Cerberus and the Shadow Broker, we've made some very dangerous enemies."
"And of course the Reapers are coming," Cole said again. "When they get here, we will be ready."
"The bad news," the Chief announced over their privat comm. as he shut himself inside the pod. "Our 'stealth ship' is famous."
Unknown Cerberus Station
A woman dressed in skintight black and white clothing placed a hand on her hip and gazed out at the star. "A hero, a sociopath, an operator, and a super soldier. We don't know their real origins, but we do that they shook the galaxy to its core. They saved the Citadel, even saved the Council. Humanity has gained the faith and trust of almost the entire galaxy."
The "perfect" woman turned to face her enigmatic employer, who merely took a drag from his cigarette. "Even for all their power, it's not enough. They'll be sent to mop up the last of the geth and then the Council and Alliance will just waste their invaluable skills." Her face contorted into a look of disgust. "We all know those fools would rather ignore the real threat.
Glowing blue eyes met the woman's impassively. "Those… individuals actually understand that this is a war. A few of them want to help all races, but they know the truth well enough. Humanity that's under attack."
The woman rolled her eyes. "But the Reapers are still out there with nothing to stop their arrival."
Another drag from the cigarette. "That's why it's up to us to stop them."
Crossing her arms, the woman scoffed. "The Council will never trust Cerberus. They'll never accept our help." She shook her head. "Even after everything humanity has accomplished." She turned to the holographic images of the four powerhouses. "But these 'human dreadnaughts' are different. People will rally behind them.
Walking by the images, the one and only Miranda Lawson rattled off the virtues of both human Spectres. "Cole MacGrath is the bloody hero of the lot. He's got morals, ideals, and the power to back them up. All the makings of a poster boy for the Human Systems Alliance, with one exception: he's a civilian. Also, he hates us with a passion, as do Alex Mercer and the Master Chief." She stopped before the image of Cole's counterpart. "Commander Jack 'Rapture' Ryan could teach us a few things about secrecy. Outside of the Normandy's eternally loyal crew, no one knows anything about him, and he likes it that way." Lawson shrugged. "He's different from the others. Even if Mercer's no saint, Ryan is the only one who would consider working with us, even out of simple pragmatism." She shook her head. "But he's no god. None of them are, but Ryan bleeds easier than the others. If he dies, any chance Cerberus has at truly protecting humanity will join him in the grave."
There was a long silence from her employer. Then he crushed his cigarette and stared directly into the multicolored sun with a chilling calm.
"If he bleeds, I want the blood," the Illusive Man stated. "If he dies, I want the body. If he lives, then I want his allegiance. Humanity needs a hero, and we're going to give them one." Miranda nodded and took her leave.
Alone with his thoughts, the leader of Cerberus let a slight smirk cross his face. "For now."
Sea Of Doors
Elizabeth scowled. "You're a fool, Illusive Man. An ambitious, Machiavellian fool, steadily descending into Reaper-induced madness." She stood up and opened a door to New Solara. "Don't forget how easily you bleed as well, Jack Harper."
I warned you there would be spoilers!
Anyway, this is it. I'll work on the sequel after celebrating Christmas with family. Speaking of which, I hope everyone enjoys the holidays, and have a Happy New Year! It's been one crazy journey, and I'm so excited that I can get to all the fun stuff that happened in Mass Effect 2!
I do actually have one last bonus for you. I've been saving this particular rough cut for a rainy day. (Ironically, it's actually raining outside my house as I say that.)
The drell clasped his hands together and took a praying stance, much to the confusion of Eleanor and Cole. Voice full of conviction and serenity, Thane closed his eyes and began to recite.
"Amonkira. Lord of Hunters. Grant that my hands be steady, my aim be true, and my feet swift." The assassin opened his eyes. "And should the worst come to pass," Thane whispered, looking up as the crowd thickened momentarily, "grant me forgiveness."
Cole was stunned at the sight – or lack thereof. In a window of less than a second, the dead man walking had simply vanished. "Pure skill," he muttered, turning to Eleanor. "At least when you and Ryan pull that Houdini shit you can chalk it up to mad science." He pointed to the empty space recently occupied by Thane Krios. "That guy just disappeared, in public, by being that. Damn. Good."
That's a wrap. We're done here. Peace out, and to all a good night. All kidding aside, you know what I'm going to say...
Read, Review, and Enjoy! *puts on shades and walks into sunset*