Asteroid CB-32147, Outer Asteroid Belt, Knossos System, Artemis Tau Cluster, February 27, 2198
He took the last drag of his fifth cigarette in the last half hour. The data was fragmentary, incomplete but the pattern was clear to see. The others remained skeptical but his intuitive algorithms pointed him in the right direction. Their target was somewhere in salarian space. They needed to flush their game out of hiding without interference.
He lit another cigarette, “Initiate Operation Starfall.”
On approach to the Colony World of Ludwika, Isseo system, Maroon Sea Cluster, April 11, 2198
The thruster detached from the one hundred meter wide nickel-iron asteroid at one hundred and fifty thousand kilometers from its target. It only took a minute for the orbital warning net to track and identify the object.
-Impact trajectory calculated. Impact zone does not pose a threat to colonial habitats at present-
-No other threats detected-
The system listed this new intruder along a half a dozen similar objects that impacted the surface of Ludwika in the last month. The VI failed to notice this uptick in activity. It only knew that none of the asteroids fit its warning parameters. The bulk of the colonists lived within high density urban areas surrounded by agricultural belts. As the asteroid entered the atmosphere the intense heat of re-entry burned away the outer layer of the body. Seconds before impact inertial dampeners kicked in. The impact cracked open the meteor like an egg. From within an armored claw chipped away at the metallic remains. With a high pitched screech the creatures within crawled out of the crater and into the nearby tree line.
Alliance Docking Bay 1, Presidium, Citadel, Widow System, Serpent Nebula, February 25, 2198
“Come here dumbass!” yelled Jack. Vega sheepishly took her duffel bag. “I’ve been waiting for half an hour! So where is your bunk?” Before Vega could respond Jack turned to Miranda, “Heya Princess!”
“Are you showing yet? Yeah you got a little bit of a bump there. Anyway, I am going to take my teddy bear and cuddle for a bit. C’mon let’s go.” She pushed Vega back to the Kursk.
“This was your idea,” I said to Miranda. She smirked. On the opposite side of the dock Oriana took Pasha by the hand and dragged him to the elevator. “She is going to devour that boy like the champion of a hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July.”
“Ughh, that’s my sister!”
“Score one for the home team then,” I said.
“Wow! Gold Coast representing, eh?”
Utah carried a large metal box with the tablets liberated from the pirates, “Commander Thompson-Ramos, we have detected a Nav-Point to our destination.”
“Right. Let’s go.” The Nav-Point led to a non-descript shuttle with darkened windows. As we boarded my VI spoke up.
-CONNECTION TO LOCAL AREA NETWORK LOST. ATTEMPTING TO RECONNECT-
I set my omni-tool to silent mode, “Somebody really wants to keep up in the dark,”.
“Necessary,” said Miranda, her face impassive. We arrived at our destination fifteen minutes later. The doors opened unto a darkened area only illuminated by the strip lights on the edges of the shuttle pad and a thin bridge that connected it to a dark wall. As we approached a door opened. The bright white from within silhouetted a humanoid figure.
“I have been expecting you. Please come in,” said Eda. The room was empty except for a large pedestal in the middle. “Unit 237, please place the tablets on the pedestal.” Utah did as instructed. “Scanning. I apologize for the security measures but considering the subject matter I thought them appropriate.”
“Of course. By the way, how is EDI?” asked Miranda.
“Mother is doing fine, Miss Lawson. She sends her regards,” replied Eda with a warm smile.
“Mother?” I asked.
“Yes, that would be Edi, the Normandy’s AI,” said Eda.
“That’s short form Enhanced Defense Intelligence. An AI created by Cerberus and installed on the Normandy to help us fight the Collectors,” said Miranda.
“So that would make you an Enhanced Defense…?”
“The Enhanced Defense Authority.”
“Creation of new AI is still prohibited by Citadel law,” said Utah.
“Correct. However the circumstances of my creation are unique,” said Eda.
“How so?” I asked.
The room went dark and a large projection of the Citadel appeared above our heads. “To uncover the secrets of the Citadel,” Eda said.
That piqued my curiosity, “Such as?”
“One, the Citadel is not a space station, but fully faster than a light travel capable starship, the largest in existence today. Second, it was meant to be one of at least five such vessels. Meant by those we call The First as anchors for the galactic mass relay network. And of course it is a mass relay itself and such it is the single largest surviving computing system in the galaxy. One which I have spent the last decade exploring.”
“Willingly?” I asked.
Eda smiled, “Yes. It was a unique opportunity commander. It will take me decades to fully explore and understand the Citadel systems and reconstruct its history and original functions as well as establish a way to prevent the Reapers from seizing control of it to renew their harvest of advanced sapient species.”
“Indeed Miss Lawson. It is what makes a Reaper a Reaper.” The projection above our heads changed from a picture of the Citadel to a diagram of the larger Reaper form. “A Reaper, in its most basic form, is a vast network of individual organic minds.” The image zoomed in on the Reaper’s body to reveal what looked like a human brain with an attached nervous system. “The process of creating a new Reaper strips the body of everything but its nervous support system. These are in turn connected to the larger body of the ship through cybernetics and maintained by countless nanites.”
“So a Reaper is nothing more than a collection of brains in jars?” I asked.
“In a manner of speaking,” Eda said.
“Father was right. The signal was the key,” said Miranda.
“The key to what?” I asked.
“Think about it Theo. How do you make hundreds, maybe thousands of minds work together without bodies. They would be fighting each other for control or trying to escape. You need something that creates-“
Utah interrupted, “Consensus.”
“Exactly. Organic electro-chemistry works at the quantum level. The Reaper signal allows not only for these minds to share information as well as act as a single entity within a Reaper vessel but through the,” Eda made air quotes, “harmonization of specific quantum strings to communicate and coordinate with all other Reapers regardless of distance.”
“Makes our QECs look like two cans tied together by a string,” I said.
“Similar principle but far more advanced in practice with one exception,” said Eda.
The projection changed to show an alien nerve system. By the way it was arranged to fit a centaur-like creature. “Synchronization was developed for and adapted to the neuro-chemistry of the species we call the First, from when the Reapers diverged from and eventually conquered. To replenish their numbers and establish their dominion over the galaxy the Reapers needed more minds but those of other species were not fully compatible. Thus the discovery of the effects known as Indoctrination.” Eda said.
“Talrom notes said something about some minds being immune while others decayed too quickly for the indoctrination to take hold. Probably the same thing happens with synchronization,” I said.
“Very good, commander. I estimate that maybe one in three galactic cycles generates a species within the tolerance levels required by the Reapers and even then the correlation between bodies harvested and minds that survive the process can be as high as one thousand to one.”
I raised a finger, “Let me guess. They can’t adjust synchronization to the needs of a new species because then they would disentangle the quantum streams from the rest of the Reapers. Meaning the all operate within a very narrow band of frequencies, for a lack of a better word. Frequencies that when disrupted leave the Reapers powerless.”
Eda’s smile broadened, “And targeting those narrow bands would require less power than attempting to block the broader effects of indoctrination. Which in turn would free the Crucible from the use of the Citadel as a signal amplifier.”
“With enough time we could build a dozen or more Crucibles,” I said.
“If we can find the right range of quantum harmonics,” Miranda said.
“That is where Unit 237 comes in. Only the geth consensus can process the large amount of data needed to find the target harmonics and do so without alerting our enemies,” Eda said.
“Are you good with this Utah?” I asked.
“The Old Machines threaten all life, organic and synthetic, commander Thompson-Ramos,” replied Utah.
I looked around the vast empty room, “Then it’s settled. We better act fast. Cerberus also got a look Talrom’s data. We don’t know how much they managed to decrypt, but we have to assume they know as much as we do, if not more. Thank you Eda, this has been a very illuminating experience.”
“Good luck commander,” Eda said.
On our way back to Kursk, Miranda turned to me and said, “I’ll stay for a little while longer.” I smiled all the way back to the ship.
MILGROM, BEKENSTIEN – As the second half of the current season of Champions of the Terminus barrels down to its March finale, the galaxy wide media phenomenon has its most die hard fans in a tizzy over the romantic entanglements between Ral vas Dorian, the Victory’s systems tech, Ms. Solheim, a mysterious operative from the Earth Alliance, and the captain of the Victory, Tadeusz Ramus. Speculations on who the writers intend to link romantically with who set the extranet ablaze.
Here are some examples of some of the most upvoted comments on social media sites:
OMG! I can’t believe it. This is like my all time OTP!!! They are so hot together. I know this is a Teen rated show so they won’t show the spicy stuff but the three of them together? OMG!
LanaOFtheMoonANDStars876 – 1.2 million likes.
Others are less receptive about the current storyline:
Respectfully, romantic triangles are overblown and tiresome. They detract from the main plot and themes of the series. I can only hope that this gets resolved soon.
Calyn@AmbassadorSuiteCitadel.gov – 90K views
But a show with a viewership measured in the billions does attract some darker comments:
Oh Keela, what is it with humans and their need to F— everything! We are not your sex toys, you filthy beasts. The galaxy would be better off without any of your slubering (sic) over other species.
Name/Address Redacted – 80K views
However it seems that the romantic subplot is popular with the show’s audience. Insta-polls show that 52% of the audience if “highly excited” to see more of this plot, while at least 77% are “intrigued” by the possible outcome of said plot. In fact the fandom already created several portmanteaus around their preferred pairings such as SolTad for those who want Solheim and Tadeusz getting together. One viewer expressed her defense of her preferred pairing thusly:
We all know that this show is based on the real life adventures of Commander Thompson-Ramos and the crew of the Kursk. And in real life he is married to Miranda Lawson. SolTad is just standing for them. The writers can’t be stupid enough to ignore their sources.
AlwaysDreamingOFWrinting&Kittens – 7.8 Million views
Others prefer the pairing of vas Dorian and Solhiem which they have dubbed RalHiem:
It’s a work of fiction. They have to go with the onscreen chemistry and RalHiem is all about that chemistry. No human can compete with a quarian’s natural charisma.
WritingPoetryUnderWaterfalls – 2.9 Million views
And some wish to bypass the Solhiem character altogether.
Time to let the boys have their fun!
BioticC987 – 410K views
Or go the polyamorous route:
OTP? Nah, give me that OT3 baby!
WildInVERACRUX- 3.9 Million views
When asked about who will win at the end, showrunner Kiko Diaz said that, “Only time will tell.”
THE PRESIDIUM TOWER,THE CITADEL– Immu, the last survivor of the Lengk civilization (see: Ancient Synthetic Found in Ruins), returned to the Citadel after a multi-colony tour of Citadel space. On their return they requested a hearing with the Committee for Synthetic Rights in order to obtain full citizenship under Amendment 17 of Article 1 of the Citadel Charter. The amendment was added to the charter after the end of the Reaper Invasion to integrate the Geth into the Citadel government. The amendment reiterates the requirements set for membership in the Citadel government such as:
Respect for all sapient and sentient life
Renouncing of violence except in self-defense
Acceptance of the Citadel jurisdiction over matters such as the handling of ancient (pre-Citadel) alien relics, prohibition of slavery within Citadel space and the authority of the Office of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance (commonly know as the Spectres).
It also added two clauses: the first prohibited the creation of synthetics for the purpose of servitude, either as stand alone units or in groups and the second created a procedure for any individual or group of synthetics to gain citizenship under the Charter. A synthetic that demonstrates an understanding of its rights and responsibilities under the Charter gains all the rights and privileges equal to any citizen of a member of the Citadel government.
Theocracy’s Leadership Found Guilty of Crimes Against Sapience
By Iris Dunnigan
PROGRESS, THEOCRACY OF LIBERTAS – After a week-long trial seventeen top officials of the former Theocracy of Libertas were found guilty of over one hundred charges each. The list of charges include:
Crimes Against Humanity
Crimes Against Sapience
State Sponsored Terrorism
Among those accused was the former leader of the Theocracy, Lord Darcy, as well as his twin brother who was the Minister of Finance for the colony. The prison sentences for these crimes ran at between 5 to 10 years per offense with an average of 70 to 120 cumulative years to be served by each of the condemned. These sentences were part of the first wave of trials of high and middle ranking leaders of the deposed colonial government.
Both Alliance and Citadel officials expressed their support of the process. They also requested the transfer of key officials for trial by their courts. The Provincial Colonial Government has not responded to said request as of the time of the filing of this report.
Shuttle 1 en route to the SSV Kurks SR-3, Todacrux, Millerovo System, Maroon Sea Nebular, February 19, 2198
Miranda drifted in and out of consciousness as the shuttle fled the pirate station en route to the Kursk.
“Her vitals are stable, jefe. I’m sure the doc will be able to get her on her feet in no time,” said Vega.
I caressed her cheek. She whispered, “I’m alright. Just need a little rest.”
“I know,” I said. I didn’t believe it but I said it to comfort her. Vega and I took down the asari pirate but not before she launched a biotic attack that Miranda countered with her barrier only to be slammed against a bulkhead and knocked out.
Vega looked down at the crystalline tablets in his lap, “So you think these were worth it?”
“Vega I don’t know and right now I don’t care.”
Inside the ship crewmen rushed toward the shuttle the moment the cargo bay was pressurized, “We got it from here sir,” said Crewman Sato.
“Go”, I said. I grabbed the tablets and headed for my quarters. “Secure your gear and meet me for a full debriefing on the War Room in fifteen,” I said at Vega.
Word came in the middle of the debrief. Miranda had woken up and wanted to talk. She sat alone in the med bay at the edge of the farthest bed from the door. The doc was nowhere to be found. I sat opposite her, “Are you alright.”
“It was just exhaustion,” she said.
I got up and examined the back of her head, “You got shoved into that bulkhead, hard.”
“I’m fine Theo.”
“Well if you say so then when are you getting back on duty?”
She sighed, “I’m not.”
“What do you mean?” She pulled up a set of three graphics on her omni-tool. Each one showed an line going up and down at a slow rhythmic pace. Then she increased the volume.
Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump
“That sounds like a heartbeat,” I said.
“Heartbeats. Three little heartbeats.”
“Wait…what? Three as in triplets?”
Tears ran down her cheeks, “Yes.”
“Ay mi madre! Three of course because Miranda Lawson doesn’t do anything halfway. Go big or go home!”
She looked away, “That’s exactly what I’m going to do Theo.”
“No, no. We talked about this. You were going back to Horizon on your second trimester at the earliest.”
“Theo, I’m biotic and that means my body requires a lot of calories. Plus there is a chance that one or more of the babies might also be biotic, making it harder for me to stay here.”
“Bullshit. You don’t have to go out in combat mission. You can do anything else. It’s desk duty for sure but you’re up to it. Until the time comes, of course.”
She caressed my cheek, “I’ll simply hinder the mission.”
“No you won’t. You’re more than your biotics Miranda. You have a sharp analytical mind plus contacts that we can still use.” I shook my head, “What I mean to say is that I need you. I need you in every sense of the word Miranda.”
She kissed me on the forehead, “I know. But this is simply moving up the schedule. I already made arrangements for a substitute.”
I was miffed that she didn’t consult me but she knew what she was doing or so I thought, “Of course you did. You’re five steps ahead of everyone.”
“Just a half a step ahead of you.”
Still in shock from the news I managed a weak smile, “Nice. So who is it?”
VANCOUVER, EARTH– The Alliance Starship Classification Board (A-SCB) announced what appeared to be a minor yet significant change in nomenclature for two classes of frigates based on the design of the SSV SR-1 Normandy. The Alliance stopped the construction of SR-1 class frigates and moved to expand the fleet with SR-2 class based designs while it kept the designation of SR-2 for the ship captured from Cerberus in early 2186. This led to an overlap of alphanumeric designations for both classes.
The Board designated the earlier ships as the SR-1 Mk. I series while the newer ships as SR-2 Mk. IIs. Confidential sources from within the Alliance Acquisitions and Procurement Office (A-APC) told ANN News that this was a stopgap measure until such time as the Alliance leadership started the process to phase out the earlier models.
Construction of the third tranche of SR-2 Mk.II frigates began on the January 3 with the SSV San Carlos, the twelfth frigate of the class commissioned by the Alliance Navy in recent years.
Miranda and I waited for our contact to take delivery of the intel extracted from Talrom’s mangled computer console, “So…erm, I went over that list of…things you told me to get. Personal lubricant, massage oils, and mineral supplements?”
“I mean, I am all for it, but this seems to be a bit too much. ”
Miranda looked me straight in the eyes, smiled and said, “Theodore Thompson-Ramos, failure is not an option.” Then she gave me a peck on the nose.
“Love you to.”
The front door opened. A tall blonde human woman stepped in. She fit the description given by Admiral Shepard. “Commander Thompson-Ramos?”
“That’s me. Eda I presume?” I asked.
“Umm,” said Miranda.
“Something the matter?” I asked. She shook her head but kept her eyes on the newcomer.
Eda smiled warmly, ” I believe you have something for me, commander?” I didn’t move a muscle. “Oh, right.” She tapped on her omni-tool. I looked down at mine.
-ID verification in progress-
I handed her the OSD, “Here you go. If you don’t mind me asking-”
She cut me off again with a smile, “I am sorry commander but this is strictly on a need to know basis. But I assure you as soon as I have something you will be the first to know.”
I turned to Miranda the moment Eda left, “What was that about?”
“Nothing. And don’t look at me like that.”
“Yeah. I am sure you will tell me when the time is right.”
“I always do.”
I tapped my omni-tool, “XO is the board clear?”
Navigator Johnson voice came over my earpiece, “No new assignments from Alliance Command or the Council.”
“Then tell the crew they have seventy-two hour leave to enjoy the holidays.”
“Understood commander. Navigator Johnson out.”
“You know, I haven’t seen my family since the wedding.”
“You want to go to Earth? Just drop in unannounced?” Miranda asked.
“It’s the holidays in Puerto Rico. You are expected to dropped unannounced. It’s the best thing to do. As long as we bring a few snacks. We can do a bit of shopping on the Presidium before we head out.” We boarded the shuttle to Earth loaded with gifts and candy.
Boquerón, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, Caribbean League, Earth, Sol System, Local Group, December 24, 2197
Blinking lights, tables full of food manned by the staff of the local Salarian /Criollo/Italian restaurant, and a giant pine tree decorated the town square. “Tiiio!” screamed Naera from across the plaza.
“Ven aca Chiquita,” I said as she jumped into my arms. “You remember, Miri, Jack and Vega, right?” Still in my arms she leaned over to kiss each of them in the cheek. The rest of the family came over as well. A flood of hugs, handshakes, and well wishes swept over the four of us.
Several hours later Vega and I found a quite corner and downed a few shots of pitorro, “Wow, this stuff will put hair on your chest,” said Vega.
“Sweeter than mezcal to be sure,” I said.
Vega coughed, “Yeah, it goes down easy but it hits hard. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about something, jefe.”
“Well, if that data is as useful as we think it is, I mean, it could change everything.”
“You’re not sure?”
“As of right now I don’t have enough info to know if its useful. Whoever this Eda person is the Admiral thinks she can help figure it out.”
“Well if Shepard says that she can do it then she’ll do it.”
“I hope so.”
“Anyway Jack is giving me the ‘come here idiot I want to dance’ look,” said Vega.
Miranda also had come hider look plastered on her face, “Had a few, I take it?”
“They told me it was like eggnog, but…it’s noot.”
“Are you sauced?” I asked bemused.
“Yes, because in a few months we, and by we,” she pointed at herself, “I mean me. I won’t be able to do this.”
“You don’t usually do this anyway.”
“It’s christmasss, Theo.”
“And I love you.”
“Do you now?”
“It so happens that I love you to.”
“Lucky girl I am.”
“We both lucked out.”
I laughed out loud and guided her to the dance floor.