IMPORTANT UPDATE - March 17, 2020: To whom it may concern. I'm FREE guys! I'm finally, finally free! No more living with emotional abuse for me. I got out, I got away, and now I can get better. I can get real help, and I can heal. And then, I can get back to writing. I've been gone a long time. The world is different now than it was when I went on hiatus, and so am I. Now, I can't speak for the world, but I know I've changed for the better, and I want to thank all of you crazy readers who stuck with me for your support. It meant more than I can say without getting all teary-eyed. Seriously, I'm coming back. It will still be rough for a while, and I don't know if I can ever promise the weekly updates I pumped out back when I was writing the first Supernovas installment, but I'll do my best not to drop off the grid for years either. So, this is me saying: 'See you soon.' Until then, Blindluck92, out.
Okay, first and foremost, I can't thank you guys enough for all the kind reviews and support I've received since my last update. I'm aware I've started going silent for many months at a time between chapters (and unfortunately this one was no exception), so I didn't know how you guys would react. Then every last one of you gave me a warm welcome back, not to mention the continued support in the months leading up until now, and it all just made me so genuinely happy. Not something I feel all that often, so… thanks. To everyone.
*Cat jumps on desk and whacks me over head for being a total sap*
Ouch! Okay, I get it! Moving onto guest reviews. Crazy fuzz-ball…
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING!
Unfortunately I have some bad news. This chapter is a short one, and that's because of this important announcement I'm about to make. In case it's not already absurdly obvious, my personal life is a complete mess and it's been getting worse with almost each chapter. Last weekend it hit the all-time low and got so damn toxic that I was barely getting out of bed in the morning. So here it is:
I don't know when I'll be writing again. Yes, I know I already get about one chapter out per year at this point, but at least I was writing when I had time and inspiration. Until my life is completely and I mean 100 percent sorted out, I'm stepping away from Supernovas. I'll update one of my side projects maybe every now and again, but even that's unlikely. It's just a bad place I'm in right now, and I'm not dealing with any creative writing until I can call my situation a healthy one again, something I haven't been able to say for probably ten years now, at least.
This is not goodbye. I absolutely will be back. I just don't know when I'll be back. I need two things from you guys while I'm away though. Two favors that would mean the world. The first is rather obvious: please be patient with me as I deal with my issues and get it all settled finally. Second, and this may sound petty, but I'm serious:
If you're going to review or message me while I'm gone, leave any questions along the line of "is (insert character here) a Supernova?" out of it. That is so far down on my list of priorities right now that I can't even see it from here. So please, for the sake of my literally crumbling sanity, can you do me this courtesy until I get back? Then I'll let you go crazy. Ask about anyone you want. The answer's probably gonna be either "no" or "I'll think about it" at best, but hey, good things come to those who wait, right?
Okay, enough of this sappy stuff, or my cat will hit me again. Moving on.
So I was spurred back into action by Andromeda, and now here we all are. Oh, it's a ways off, but that story is going to be so much fun… eventually. Hell, considering how much they up and disconnected from Shepard's Trilogy, I might actually use that to my advantage (*evil laughter*). But no promises, sadly. Just a couple cameos.
And now for guest reviews:
Dog: "Holy shit" indeed, though it's really harmless at the moment. What will it be used for? That's for me to reveal in a future chapter and you to not find out until then!
Zack: Hey man. Yeah, "A-OK" is no longer the word for me or my life, but that's why I'm posting this chapter now. To give you guys something and to tell you all that I'll be back when it is. And Ryan will be on… moderately appropriate behavior. It's gonna be unorthodox of course, but come on, do you really believe I can bring myself to actually exile Tali? And sorry, but I can't tell you what the Ray Sphere is for yet. It's a surprise! And now I say Happy Thanksgiving to your second review, though it's long overdue (hey that rhymed). I still wish I had better news, but it's still just gonna be a lot of silence. I honestly wish I had an easier way to communicate with guest reviewers than waiting until I posted a whole new chapter. Any suggestions? From you Zack or from anyone else? Ah, anyway, I'll see you next time man, whenever that is.
Assassin-117: It's no problem. I should probably go take down that author's note in Chapter 28 about backtracking. Sorry, it was just a bad day when I got your second review, and my current days are far, far worse. All these years and still I lash out. Regardless, my answer is unchanged. Sorry about that too.
Fellmoon: You exceedingly polite in your review. I'm guessing it's at least to some degree because of how much of an ass I can be when I lash out, as stated above. I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable just leaving a review, and that goes for everyone else reading this reply. As for your actual message, go right ahead and write anything you want. Make it great and make it yours. I apologize that I can't help out and let you pick my brain because of how insane my life has become, but know that you have my full (is entirely silent) support. I appreciate your courtesy and hope you have a good day. Also, thanks. I'm glad you think I'm such a good author.
Guest: Blazblue? Unlikely.
Star Shade: It's no bother. I wish I could reply more easily to guest reviews to be honest. Anyway, sadly no. While I have a "reunion" with Trish of sorts in the works, it's more of a final goodbye and moment of closure than a permanent return of his beloved from Conduit Earth. Sorry.
Guest (again? Same person? No idea): I'm not aware of any stories that use this kind of template. Most just throw their favorite characters into a world and let them go full god-mode on everything. I've toyed with that myself, but this way grants much more depth and has (slightly) more capacity for willing suspension of disbelief.
03626: Okay first of all, extremely original name because it's all numbers and no pattern as far as I can tell. Second, nice catch with the Morpheus Road tie-in. I've been wanting to do something with that for soooo long, but my own personal issues kept forcing it to the wayside as I kept things focused primarily on the Mass Effect Job. Of course, now that you've said it, I'll have to explain how there's a balance struck between Solara being the hub of positive progress and the Supernovas being… less than entirely positive individuals on their best days. Again, good catch, and thanks for saying I'm awesome.
Guest (take 3): Yeah, still here. Unfortunately I'm on the fence about Noctis as a Supernova. I want to. I really want to, and if it weren't for the fact that Square Enix loves to surprise me in the best and simultaneously worst ways, I can't give the all clear yet. I'm positive his story is over, but this is Final Fantasy we're talking about. Also, your idea as a whole intrigues me, and you're free to write your own non-Supernova story with Noctis going to kick Witcher 3 ass, just not in my multiverse because I'm still playing the "make sure they're dead" waiting game. Sorry.
Alright, that covers everyone I think. If I missed your guest review after all these quiet months, I am unbelievably sorry and apologize in advance because as stated above, I won't be updating again for a long time and it won't be until then that I'd be able to answer you. But enough of me talking. I've already talked a lot, and you're all here for a story right? Right! So let's do this!
Summary: Supernovas are involved. Good luck finding order in this court.
Spoilers: The usual. Oh, and Inquisition. And Andromeda (sort of). And references to a Batman (again sort of) character we all love.
Disclaimer: In the interest of avoiding my own – far less badass – trial, I hereby deny ownership of the content found within this chapter. Let the record state that Jack "Rapture" Ryan is my own personal creation based off concepts and characters within the Bioshock universe, of which I again deny any possession.
Treason Part One
Vallhallan Threshold: Raheel-Leyya Cluster
Migrant Fleet: The Rayya
Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay was only partially listening to the words of Daro'Xen. Standing just close enough to eavesdrop on those in the airlock down the hallway behind her, Raan was much more concerned with what Tali'Zorah would say than anything coming from Xen's mouth.
Tali'Zorah… vas Normandy. Keelah, it made her sick to know that she was about to manipulate her own adoptive niece, but it may very well be the only way Raan could save Tali from being sentenced to exile. At least Rael wouldn't be here to witness this disaster unfold, though to be fair, it was that bosh'tet's fault in the first place.
And then Raan heard it. Tali's voice full of shock and indignation as Captain Kar'Danna "officially" charged her with bringing active geth onto the Migrant Fleet. Tuning out Xen entirely while still pretending to listen, Raan paid careful attention to her niece's words.
"That's insane! I never brought active geth aboard! I only sent parts and pieces!" The surprise was genuine, good. If the Admiralty Board believed it to be real (which it was), they would perhaps show more leniency.
"Those parts were defunct and inactive. Not only did Tali'Zorah double and then triple-check every piece to make sure it was all safe, but I checked them myself after she placed the dead drops. What? we were the targets of a manhunt, did you really think I'd let anything on or off my ship without a personal screening?"
That voice was new, yet Raan felt as if she already knew so much about the man to whom it belonged. She had heard every single story of Tali's Pilgrimage adventures. The infamous Captain Ryan vas Normandy was at the center of practically all of them. Calculating, confident (often insufferably so), skilled, smart, strong, and brave. Whenever she talked about her Pilgrimage, these were the words she used to describe her Captain.
Tali had been infatuated with him, that much was obvious. The very concept had utterly terrified Rael, though that was to be expected. It was a perfectly natural reaction, for what father wants to hear that his sweet and innocent little girl was growing up and had developed feelings for a man? Especially a man as perfectly unnatural as the Torfan Tactician.
Then two years ago, the object of Tali's affections had died and Rael actually felt it was for the best. What had been his exact words again? Oh yes, he'd said, "For the first time in my life, I find myself agreeing with the Citadel Council and wishing everyone would simply forget that monster ever existed."
No quarian mask could hide the tears his daughter had shed that day, though when she had finished grieving, she did exactly that. She forgot, she moved on, and with such fire in her duty and commitment to the Fleet that Raan caught Rael'Zorah practically singing his daughter's praises to his fellow quarians on more than one occasion.
Of course he wouldn't ever actually show such appreciation to Tali herself. That just wasn't how Rael was built. And then Captain Ryan made his "miraculous" return from the dead, and everything soon went to hell as Rael'Zorah's daughter all but begged for permission to rejoin the "monster" and fight again at his side.
Raan bit back a sigh as she kept up the façade of mild interest in front of Xen. That's what it always came back to, wasn't it? Tali'Zorah may be the one charged with treason, but every quarian here was being silently judged by one of the most powerful creatures in the known universe. Because just in case anyone on the Migrant Fleet hadn't checked the extranet in the past few years, Kal'Reegar's report on the recent events at Haestrom described Captain Ryan and the armored green titan he met as "impossibly dangerous" and that he would "strongly recommend never pissing them off." And yet the Admiralty Board was about to do exactly that, Shala'Raan included. The others may be using Tali's trial as a means to advance their respective agendas, but their goals weren't as… personal as what Raan was about to do.
At that moment, Daro'Xen became still and silent as a grave, one-sided conversation with her fellow Admiral completely forgotten. "Don't look now Shala," Xen murmured, "but it would appear Tali'Zorah brought the Tactician and the Titan." She hummed with something akin to approval. "I didn't expect him to be quite so tall – assuming the one in that armor is even a 'him' of course." With that, she took her leave.
Raan sighed. Xen had expressed a strange fascination with the aptly named Titan of Sol for some time now, often questioning Tali'Zorah about him – or her or it – over the past two years before Ryan's "miraculous" return. At every meeting of the Admiralty Board, she would present new "evidence" that the Master Chief was not a man in armor, but rather an advanced AI. It wasn't entirely out of the question; wherever the green giant went, any device with an extranet connection seemed to bend to his will. Of course, it could be chalked up to the Torfan Tactician or the Storm of Elysium just as easily. A man controlling electricity with his mind seemed a more likely candidate for controlling technology than a mere supersoldier, after all.
The Admiral was shaken from her musings, quite literally as Tali'Zorah walked up andembraced her in a warm hug. Ah, how Raan wished the circumstances were different, that she might enjoy this moment without such a heavy heart. Unfortunately it was not meant to be, and so with a prayer to the Ancestors, she spoke carefully and calmly to her adoptive niece.
"Tali'Zorah vas Normandy," Raan kept her voice even and neutral. "I am glad you came. I could only delay them so long."
Tali was halfway into making introductions when she caught onto the change in her name. "Wait, Raan. You called me 'vas Normandy'." The hurt in the poor girl's voice almost broke Raan's heart.
"Sounds like you're being tried under the name of the ship you currently serve on," Ryan quickly deduced, coming up to stand right behind Tali. A steady, stalwart reminder that she was not going through this alone. That he was there for her, whatever she needed. The gesture did not go unnoticed by Raan, but she kept her opinions to herself, choosing instead to size up Tali's Captain while she had the chance.
For such a powerful man, he looked so… normal. Simply a human of above average height and build if she judged him by his armored figure. Between Tali's description, Kal'Reegar's report, and the many tales circling the extranet, Raan had been expecting, well, to be honest she was expecting Captain Ryan to look something like the monster Rael made him out to be. He didn't though, not in the slightest, and that possibly scared Raan even more. Because looking normal didn't change the fact that he was very capable of doing the very abnormal with a literal snap of his fingers.
With this in mind, Raan answered carefully as possible. "Precisely Commander. The Admiralty Board moved to try Tali'Zorah under your ship's name, given her departure from the Neema."
Tali whirled around to look at her Captain. "I'm as good as exiled already!"
While Raan could not see the man's face beneath his mask, she could easily tell he was beyond livid. "It's not over yet, Tali," she offered, hoping to keep them both calm for vastly different reasons. "You have friends who still know you as Tali'Zorah vas Neema, no matter what we must call you legally."
"Are you among those friends, Admiral?" Ryan inquired. "Your voice certainly carries weight."
He was being cautious, Raan realized, hiding her shock as best as possible. The Ryan from all of Tali's Pilgrimage stories was never cautious. No, according to Rael's daughter, Captain Ryan vas Normandy was clever, cocky, and confident. A man who can – and repeatedly had – shouted down the Citadel Council without even flinching. That was the Ryan she expected, and absolutely the one Tali would need to escape an undeserved sentence of exile.
Maybe her answer to his question would help?
Shaking her head, Raan answered the Torfan Tactician. "I'm afraid my history with Tali and her father forced me to recuse myself."
Tali nodded in sad understanding. "I imagine Father had to do the same." The way her surrogate niece forced out that word, Father, still broke Raan's heart every time. Cold and distant, just like Rael himself. Like she wasn't actually his daughter, but his subordinate.
Keelah, how Raan wished she could take that pain away. Instead all she could do now was make it far, far worse. Maintaining stoicism, she gave nothing away as she said, "You'll see inside Tali. For my part, I moderate and ensure the rules of protocol are followed, but I have no voice in the judgment."
Suddenly Raan felt a cold chill slither up and down her spine. By the Ancestors, could these monsters kill people with a mere look? The intensity of each gaze behind their respective masks was stifling. As if she were breathing unfiltered air. As Shala'Raan glanced from Captain Ryan to the Master Chief to the turian that simply must be the infamous Garrus Vakarian, she realized this had nothing to do with power. Instead it had everything to do with her vague comment – or rather lack of a comment – about Rael'Zorah.
The look was a message, clear as day: "You're hiding something from Tali. Hurt her, and we hurt you." Somewhere, deep beneath the overwhelming, nauseating terror that had all but gripped Raan by the throat, the Admiral was actually glad. Glad that Tali had found such a strong and loyal crew.
They would die before allowing her to be exiled, of this Raan was certain.
After staring down the Admiral for a moment longer, Ryan backed off, glad that Tali was too distraught to notice the silent exchange. "Well speaking of judgment, I'd say it's about that time." Almost as an afterthought he glanced around for any sign of an appointed defense, only partially surprised to find none. Treason was a stigma like that, sending everyone running for the hills out of fear that they'd be the next ones found guilty through even the most tangential of association. Still, he knew he had to ask, if only as a courtesy to Admiral Raan. "Does Tali have an arbiter of some kind? Or is she on her own in there?"
Raan was gracious enough to take the question at face value rather than calling him out on the obvious subtext. No longer suffocated by their looming, Shala nodded and replied with a hint of amusement. "Indeed she does, Captain Ryan. As I said earlier, she is part of your crew now, recognized as Tali'Zorah vas Normandy by quarian law." Then, more to Tali than to Ryan for his defense was all but foregone, Raan held up a finger and recited the old ways to Rael's daughter. "And remember! An accused is always represented by his - or her – ship's captain."
Tali felt the world shift around her once again. For all the times Ryan and the other Supernovas spoke about taking care of their own, she could never fully appreciate it. The Migrant Fleet had been "her own" for as she could remember, even when she was serving on the first Normandy during her Pilgrimage. Now all of that was changing, twisting around, and the one constant she seemed to have left was her insufferable bosh'tet of a friend, the one and only Jack Ryan.
Her stomach dropped then. Did she have that, though? Would he stay and defend her? He said he would, but…
Slowly, almost in fear of the answer, Tali turned to look at Ryan. Her captain! Keelah, she'd called him that before, but now that it was real and she was vas Normandy, the thought left her feeling nine different kinds of conflicted.
"So, um…" hearing that full return of her shy and uncertain behavior from two years ago was what hurt Ryan the most. He'd witnessed the confidence she'd gained in his absence, on Freedom's Progress, Haestrom, Illium, and their downtime on the Normandy. She'd broken through her former timid shell and grown into a strong, smart, and capable woman. But now it was coming back, and Ryan felt justified in his anger that the quarians would do this to one of their best and brightest, not to mention the daughter of an Admiral. Such was his outrage, he almost didn't hear the rest. Almost.
"You would actually speak in my defense?"
Behind the modified recon hood, Ryan was smiling at his mechanic. "Seriously?" he asked, soft laughter in his voice as he shook his head. "Tali, when will you learn that I'll do pretty much anything for you?"
It was stated so casually, so confidently because in the eyes of the world he literally could do anything, up to and including cheat death itself. But this wasn't a statement for the world, Tali realized. It was for her specifically. He would do anything… for her.
Tali remained silent as Ryan vas Normandy – her crazy and insufferable captain – stepped up and listened to Raan explain how quarian trials worked. When Raan beckoned for them to follow, however, he remained in place just long enough to speak with the Master Chief. Tali listened, and every word filled her with a warmth and sense of belonging even the Fleet had never provided.
"You told me to play nice with the quarians, Chief."
"I can't overturn charges of treason by playing nice."
"That's when Tali was still one of theirs. She's your charge now, 'Captain' Ryan." The rank was dripping with sarcasm, but every other word to resonate from behind the gold-tinted visor may as well have been etched in stone.
"So take the gloves off and give. Them. Hell."
The King of Rapture nodded, grateful to have the Spartan's permission – even approval – to do what he did best. "It will be my genuine pleasure."
Krogan DMZ: Tuchanka
He honestly should have seen it coming. Clan Nakmor's ambassador to Urdnot was a tough piece of work. Not as tough as him, but that's because nobody was as tough as him.
So when the ambassador practically begged for him to come along for negotiations "as a precaution" it set off more than a few warning bells.
"'Precaution' my ass," Nakmor Drack barked at the ambassador practically cowering behind him. Understandable, considering that Alex fucking Mercer was doing his creepy looming thing less than ten meters away. "You just wanted a meat shield standing between you and those freaky yahoos that are all buddy-buddy with Wrex. Yeah, I see you over there by the varren pit, Mister Shock and Awe!"
"Yeah?" Cole yelled back at the oldest krogan in the galaxy, "I'm not getting any sense of shock or awe from you. Why's that?"
Drack laughed at the electric man. "Kid, let me tell you something." Gesturing with one hand to Alex he said, "You and Killer here ain't anything new. You live for as long as I have, you eventually realize that weird shit just happens. Not only have I learned to roll with it, I've come to expect it."
From his makeshift throne, Wrex quietly watched the scene unfold, interested to see how it would play out. He and Drack both held high hopes for the future, but they believed in entirely opposite approaches. While Wrex believed in taking a hands-on approach and forcibly rallying Tuchanka under the banner of Urdnot to drag his people to glory, Drack insisted on a hands-off approach with Clan Nakmor, allowing them to find their future without him. Well over a millennium old, Drack saw himself as a relic of a time the krogan could never go back to, a warrior who represented the "bad old days" of krogan, holding them back when they should be looking forward. Of course, the old fossil was quick to make an exception to his hands-off policy when anyone was actually stupid and suicidal enough to go within mile of his precious ru'shan, Kesh. Then his hands were on someone's throat before they even had time to say "oops."
Wrex had a great deal of respect for Drack. Every krogan did. However, Wrex also knew it was primarily because of Drack that Clan Nakmor remained beyond the influence of Urdnot. During the two years the Supernovas spent raising one of their own from the dead, pretty much every other clan on Tuchanka had either joined Wrex in his vision or joined the dust trying to stop him. Nakmor had done neither, refusing to join but refusing to attack either. Nakmor just sent an ambassador to check in every now and then, and any overture of an alliance was met with disinterest and a silent threat:
"Start shit with us, Urdnot, and you'll lose everything you're trying to build. We're just here to watch."
It didn't sit right with Wrex somehow. Nakmor wasn't mobilizing for war, but they were mobilizing. It was subtle, bordering on secretive, but it didn't entirely escape his notice.
As the Nakmor ambassador approached his throne, leaving Drack to continue talking shit with Mercer and MacGrath, Wrex smelled it.
The unmistakable scent of change was clinging to Nakmor. Whatever they'd gotten involved in, Wrex and his vision for Tuchanka had no part in it.
Meanwhile Drack eyed Cole's left hand with mild curiosity. "That little hologram might hide a prosthetic from the typical merc, but I know a fake limb when I see one."
Jack carefully sized up the really old krogan staring at Cole. With one of his arms exposed and the other completely encased in armor, she put the pieces together fast enough. "Voice of experience talking?" Jack challenged.
Drack was about to offer the tiny bald woman a rebuttal, but he never got the chance before an absolutely enormous whelp of a krogan stomped up. "It is now," Drack sighed. "Tank bred, right? Nothing against you personally, but this one has Okeer written all over it. As an actual descendent of Shiagur, well," he looked back at Cole and chuckled. "Like I said, I know a fake when I see one."
"The womb may have been fake," Grunt snapped, silencing everyone including Drack. "But I am krogan. I survived my Rite of Passage, killed the maw on my own, and now I am Urdnot Grunt."
"Good," Drack replied instantly, as if expecting absolutely no less from what may as well have been an infant compared to him. "Make sure you never forget that, and you'll be just fine."
As the grizzled veteran of a krogan stomped away, Alex shook his head. "Can't believe he basically called us old news. Ain't no thing like me in this galaxy, except me.
This galaxy, perhaps. Time would tell, however, if that boast held true for the rest of the universe…
Local Cluster: Sol System
Earth: Undisclosed Location
"Remind me why I'm here again?" a hooded man sighed. "Actually, screw that. Remind me why you're here again, then remind me why I'm along for the ride."
"I'm here because Shepard and Revan both have a hunch," answered a shadowy figure next to him. "You're here because you think Kessler already knows what their hunch will lead to, and you want to confirm it in person… and because you got your ass kicked by Fen'Harel."
"Fen'Harel did not kick my ass," the hooded man insisted, as he'd been doing ever since his return to New Solara. "Nobody kicked my ass, dammit, how many times do I need to say it? The Cursed Undead was forced to let Solas escape in order to save my ass, but at no point during that entire clusterfuck did anyone actually kick my ass."
"Relax kid," the other man chuckled from behind a bone-white mask. With a flick of his wrist, the door ahead was overridden and hacked open by a small red device. "I'm just messing with you."
As they crept out into a large storage section of the elaborate (and off-books) facility they were currently infiltrating, Master Assassin Desmond Miles grinned from beneath his hood. "I know Red. Seriously though, don't call me kid. Last I checked, I'm several generations older than you."
"Ancestors don't count," the vigilante thief shot back without missing a beat. "And we joined this freakshow at about the same time, so like anyone else, I'll call you kid."
"And until you stop, I'll just condense your old title down to Red. Or should I just go around calling you Jason? Maybe JT?"
They could have gone back and forth like this for hours, and it was only the arrival of a third man that stopped the duo's banter just before they could be overheard. And before they could be seen, both stealth experts practically melted into the shadows like it was as natural as breathing.
"To be honest I'm a little disappointed." the third man shouted as he searched for them, eyes trained down the sight of his rifle as he checked every corner for his uninvited guests. "I didn't think it would take the esteemed 'Power Four' to track me down. Grinning beneath an N7 helmet, the old soldier feigned disinterest as he asked, "Or is it the Power Five these days?"
Laughter echoed from the invaders, but even scans weren't picking up their locations.
"Power Five? That's what they're being called, seriously? That's priceless, I'm giving Ellie and her brother so much shit when this is all over."
The soldier didn't share their amusement. He didn't have the time or the patience for it. And so without any further ado, Alec Ryder shifted his stance and yelled, not at the intruders, but at the AI that he built in an effort to keep his wife alive at any cost:
"SAM, engage Anti-Mercer Profile!"
For his wife, SAM let her live on borrowed time. For Alec, it turned him into something far more dangerous than a simple human. Sharpened senses found them almost instantly, and he closed the gap with a biotic charge. Alec came close, extremely close, to reducing his target to fine paste, but somehow they managed to keep just beyond his reach. One was teleporting, he soon realized, using strange x-shaped devices to counter tech and biotic assaults. Whatever powered that suit of his, SAM had deduced it was foreign, radioactive, and extremely volatile. The other one was using decoys, but not like any kind Alec had encountered before. These were like solid smoke, putting the holograms used in STG and his own N7 to complete shame. He was fine so long as he kept his distance though, as the hooded man was armed with nothing but blades and a few guns he probably thought were concealed.
"This could take a while," Alec grunted. "SAM, give me the Mobile Defense Profile now!
And now he pressed the attack while skirting around every move they made with the high agility afforded by Initiative jump-jets and SAM's predictive guidance. He deployed a barricade and unleashed a jet of fire from cover when they attempted to pin him down, forcing them back and granting himself some breathing room for further analysis of his opponents.
"He's good," Jason Todd (aka the Red Hood, aka the Red X, aka the Arkham Knight) admitted. To be fair, if they were playing for keeps then Alec Ryder would be a corpse by now, but that wasn't their objective. Not by a long shot. Which is why the fight was dragging on longer than really necessary, so they could confirm the suspicions of the Uniques as well as their own.
Unfortunately for everyone, they found what they were looking for.
"Could've been a Supernova," Desmond sighed in agreement, "Maybe even a Unique." Cursing Kessler under his breath, the Assassin stowed the Apple and leapt out into the open. With the Ring of Eden, he simply stood there as Alec instinctively opened fire, only for every projectile to be magnetically deflected without leaving a scratch.
"What?!" Alec cried out in confusion.
"Using an AI implant to serve as a force multiplier in a cooperative symbiotic relationship," Desmond stated as Jason dropped down from from behind the discharged N7, who turned just in time for the vigilante thief to launch a binding X and trap Alec against the back wall. "Not a bad idea."
"Meh, it's been done," Jason said glibly. He didn't say who had done it, of course. Alec and the Master Chief in the same room, likely with Cortana and this SAM construct? That was just asking for trouble. Or a bonding experience, which somehow seemed even more terrifying.
No, this one was beyond anything the Chief could handle. Let him focus on this galaxy before even thinking about saving another.
"What are you people?!" Alec roared. These… monsters just kept climbing out of the woodwork!
"Hey, you're the one stuck to a wall by a giant letter," Desmond reminded him. "We'll be asking the questions. Starting with the obvious, of course." His eyes flashed gold, like those of an eagle, as he peeked out from beneath his hood in a manner not unlike Alex Mercer.
"What can you tell us about this oh-so-mysterious Andromeda Initiative?"
Hooray for cameos! And yeah, we're ending here. I told you it would be short, didn't I? And no, before anyone asks, Desmond is NOT appearing in this story as a Supernova on the Normandy. His time will come in the next story, I assure you. No, he also won't be in Andromeda. Or at least, I have no plans for him in Andromeda at this time. Jason and all his many aliases will not be showing up again for a long time either. And before I get ripped for timeline nonsense, let's point out two things.
First, according to a Eurogamer article back in November, the Andromeda Initiative left the Milky Way Galaxy in 2185 CE, right around the end of Mass Effect 2's campaign (in my case that end includes DLC). Six months after they're safe and away, the Reapers invade. So yes, this cameo and those that follow will work just fine. Hope you enjoy them until I (someday) get my life back on track and start writing with actual consistency again.
Second, the timeline is already shot because five complete freaks of nature are running around and making waves. If the Butterfly Effect had an older brother, that's what we're looking at regarding Andromeda because of the Supernovas.
And that's it people. Were done here. I will miss you all and hope you'll forgive me for once again dropping off the map as my life goes nuts. I hope more than anything to see you again soon, but I can't say that with any confidence so I won't make any promises. Instead I'll just ask you all to…
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