ByMohammed Hidhayat, writer at
22 | Waiting for Mass Effect: Andromeda | Favorite movie this month: Midnight Special |
Mohammed Hidhayat

A young Shepard, born and raised on the streets of Illium, serves as an apprentice to Detective Donnelly, a retired Homicide officer and becomes the first human spectre by chance: a cyberpunk era 'space noir' setting. Like that's never been done before :p

With the Citadel losing full control over major colonies near the Terminus Systems, Attican Traverse broke free from control and slipped into a post-industrial dystopia; the repercussion of cybernetic warfare. The fight for leadership resulted in numerous mutinies and millions fled to nearby Milky Way clusters. Disillusioned by power and loss of social structure, chaos was the order of the day. A low life by the name 'Asimov' woke up from a feverish dream about a great vision of hope and serenity; he brought together hordes of masses to accept his ideology of Neo-Futurism and Counterculture. Asimov rose from the bowels of Illium and jumpstarted a new world of Cyberpunk. It is unknown how he managed to do so single-handedly or as the Alliance News Network says "Maybe he found something in the Prothean ruins."

The year was 2179
Illium. Beautiful. Magnificent
It seems so from the top. At the bottom, it's just mud, mucky mud. That's it.

The government deployed cyber-commandos in the seedy belly of the city. Their mission was to remain loyal to the Script of Asimov, that's what they called it, and purge the lowlands. A series of torrential rainfall and government sponsored radioactive killings sent people into hiding. The alleys were empty. Curfew remained but 25 year old Shepard was out, on the wrong side of the track.

Despoiled resources, isolated cases of kidnapping, scientific augmentations primarily on Asari - experiments failed, the hosts died; of course nobody knew about it. Though ANN reporters managed to dispatch a news feed with gritty graphic visuals of torment happening within the walls of Illium, many considered it a sensational publicity stunt from the news organization which had lost credibility and failed to take off since their poor reporting of the 'Quarter Moon' Murders that shock the Earth Systems Alliance Space. The government was a two headed Neon Snake - an allusion. A free, embalming social world and a brutal authoritarian dump on the other side. There was no resistance - drugs flushed away all sorts of emotion. For more than 30 years , this despotism was absolutely veiled from the Alliance Navy which, at present, was only a few seconds away from entering the Tasale mass relay but a last minute objection from the Systems Alliance halted their arrival on Attican Traverse. They're awaiting a response.

Shepard & his automa -
Shepard & his automa -

An accident he must have been in. Shepard found himself waking up in the lowlands after a night's poker game turned Oktoberfest turned fist-fight. It was his way of grieving. Scavenging through a dumpster, “C'mon, all i need is...uh...looks good ” said Shepard, all sweaty from the hot fumes engulfing the city. “I just hope I can make it to the mainland .” Dressed in a funnel necked hoodie, Shepard glared at the piece of quantum tube he so badly needed to start his self-made, hand-welded, ruggedly designed automata, his personal swash-buckling roadster. He, skeptical as always, attached the energy source to the fuel pod and bam, the tube imploded channeling power for the Vaptor engine.

An intervention in the form of a masked, heavily rigged endoskeleton beauty. A quarian...

Sheltered under a collapsible sun-shade, she awkwardly took some protein shots before stepping into the rain . Her mask mirrored the night sky of Crescent Nebula as she approached Shepard, "I was hoping you could drop me off outta here."

"And why would I do that"

A team of chromo-torso built commandoes spotted them. The two were visually profiled and Shepard was sentenced to death by a kill squad ascending the corridor. The duo hurried away leaving behind a huge cloud of disappointment.

Cruising through the barren lands cinematically called for a conversation starter.
"I'm Tali... Tali'Zorah nar Rayya and you must be Shepard"
"Do i know you", he yelled back traversing through the dusty fields
"I doubt it " She paused and said "Remember that incident at Lou's Kitchen"
" It was supposed to be a discussion."

Lou's Kitchen was purely coincidental. So stupid but definitely coincidental. Nothing more.

Drug lords had wanted to kill Shepard for being an ass. Men and Noverian scientists too. He didn't care, for, he was always at the right place asking the right questions - a skill he borrowed from Donnelly, who picked him up from the market of El Pueblo de Los Malditos. A disciplined cop always in fight within the corrupted police force . He wore a vibrant purple colored two-piece suit with a matching fedora and he had a thick obsession for fist-fighting. He hated wearing ties.

" What were you doing back there" questioned Shepard as he slowed his racer entering city limits.
"Seeking answers", Tali replied back scornfully
"No shit..even I'm searching for answers"
"To different questions.." interrupted Tali.
"Why don't we help each other out" called out Shepard.

Tali considered the question. Shepard's father lived uptown and worked as a security officer for a mining corporation. A witness to many a strange dealings, he chose an alias and started gathering details. He even tried transmitting intel to Shepard but it was too much risk. Shepard had not seen his father in more than 12 years - Daddy issues. A few days back, Senior Shepard was found dead with a puffer fish in his mouth and his omni-tool scrambled. Coroner's report ruled out homicide. The surveillance desk picked up nothing unusual. Apparently, things were moving in a calculated manner. Shepard is now an enemy of the state which made sense considering a moving mass of metal junk wanted him dead moments ago.

Tali, with a privileged sense of emotion , jumped in " Keelah! that is a very bad way to go. I am sorry for your...."
"Yeah, my dad's a war veteran and it's not the death he deserved. It wasn't a warrior's death", blaming himself for the loss.

The death of his father and the 'lowlands' cover-up triggered a sense of social consciousness and a new found stimulus for bravery and heroism.

Presently, his inner detective couldn't hold much longer

"I've never seen a quarian in the lowlands before" pondered Shepard
Guessing from the reflex movement of her slender shoulders, Tali took a deep breath and murmured,
"I seem to like you Shepard and I believe in sharing a few secrets with you."
"I..uh...appreciate that."
"The Migrant Fleet would never enter the star system. So, I hid myself in a merchant ship carrying weapons and pharmaceuticals. For years, there were reports of AI threat lurking beneath the structures of Illium.
"So,'re an officer of the law?"
"I work for a special investigative team of the Citadel Secret Services. "
"Damn" he said quietly.
"What 'bout family?" he started again
"The Migrant Fleet is my family. My job structure doesn't allow lasting relationships although once, I fell in love. He had this huge scar on his face and anyway, it's been a while. He was an excellent shooter."

Shepard gave a faint chuckle.

En route, Shepard was contacted, through the transparent orange vidcom, by an old friend of his. It was Lieutenant Thane Krios, a Vice cop whose reputation grew after he exposed the 'Planet Scanning' scandal."Shepard, I am transferring the files you asked for. I had to sneak into the Collectors archives to scan them. This is some heavy shit Shep - evidences regarding cybernetic augmentations and mental takeover! Looks like Asimov was building a synthetic army. I'm sorry I can't be involved Shepard. I've got a beat to cover. Goddess Amonkira will be with you my friend."

Shepard went into a brooding silence.

It had been a long, uneventful ride across abandoned mega structures, derelict settlements and a traffic of harmless luminescent sapient creatures before aligning with the city central grid. Shepard had arrived at Nos Astra, the Capital.

Hot pavements. Frying food. Surveillance cameras. Asarian population explosion

The nightlife was a venereal excitement. Everyone hated the Volus. Bright lattices of luminous lights filled the streets. The med-gel dispensaries were looted almost entirely. Standing against a tide of capsule hotels, Tali felt a strange carnage of emotion within, of void and logic - she missed the Migrant Fleet.

Shepard shook her back to reality, "Tali, we should move.."
"I know this city like the back of my hand.", he continued.
"But do you know hieroglyphics?"
"What?" inquired the lad.
"Show me your arm", carefully rummaging through the intel on his omni-tool,
"these pictures here are ancient schematics, a collection of multi-layered images pointing to a specific direction."
"Care to elaborate.." winked Shepard
Tali scrolled through the layout and briefed, "Hmm...a disfigurement, a massive door ;probably an obstruction "she said so with a slight change in tone. " All this leads to a glowing prism. Lurking danger all the way."
"How do you know all this?"
"Shepard, I am a master class technician, decryption specialist and I can speak 24 languages, including Yiddish. I studied hieroglyphs on my visit to the Asari temple of Thessia with a close friend of mine. Fun Fact: Did you know the Asari helped Egyptians build those pyramids back on Earth."
He responded with total boredom, "I've never been to the Sol System. So, that reference doesn't excite me."

They quickly cruised on foot across the circuit of the largest black market in the universe; although at one point, a volus stopped them and entered into a legitimate business transaction with added benefits such as meat-weed and a dungeon love boat for two at the famous 3-star Omni palace - awkward. The ancient glyph chart pointed to an area below ground level. They were four blocks away from the ports of Kakashi Biotic Engineering, a company which grew at the expense of bird slaughter and liquid water. The dampened pebble pavement caved in capturing Shepard by his feet. Tali's arm whined as she lunged out to grab Shepard's beefed up muscle, pulling him up inch by inch. Down through the crater, she saw a body horrendously mutilated and marked with the letters 'BH'. Tali let go off her hand. It was only 8 feet deep. An annoyed Shepard looked up with distrust as she pointed to the horror beside him. When Donnelly was young and stupid, he tried being a hustler. He did; and found himself walled to the neon panels of an espresso machine. Donnelly told stories of how he escaped that night from a place called Binary Helix, a registered clinic according to the government and a sprawling ground of cyber criminal haven according to the ANN.

A mental interpretation of Binary Helix
A mental interpretation of Binary Helix

The tunnel stood like a crippling foundation for an abysmal part of Illium's history. Wading through the scene, the inquisitive quarian pushed ahead nestling her palms onto the engraved walls. "Donnelly used to say that the city was much more dangerous by night" Shepard revealed as he skimmed through the reports on his omni-tool.

Having punched through half a dozen vaults, a large color-coded crypt, pale red to be exact, came into view with two huge boulders blocking the entry. Magnetic bolts screwed securely all along the wall. There were three hieroglyphs patched on the boulders. One represented a thresher maw. A second pictograph of infinite quantities of red sand. And the last, chosen mark was a symbolism for a new form of intelligence. Tali, felt a slight hinge and punched it deep inside.

[Consider a background score of synthesizer tones and Krautrock influenced funk music -kinda like David Bowie's Station to Station]

The array of metallic panels stopped rotating, a thump and a thud.
Tali stepped in first, holding his hands almost voluntarily. The sideways flipped up and a cryptic pad of dark orange juice splashed upon her.

"Counter measures. How irritating and yucky." exclaimed Tali checking for suit damage.

Leaving behind the half-open brass door, they moved forward towards the sound of tangled metal pipes scratching each other. A strong beam of light, like a combined celestial force, slowed Shepard's arrival at the narrow opening, With considerable use of hand and crouch movement, he managed to reach the end of the tube. Tali was leading unaffected by luminosity. "Guess I must've taken the visor Donnelly gave me" regretted Shepard.

Suddenly, she folded to her knees, crawling in pain and barely able to speak. Hundreds of unrelated conversations started happening in her mind. A bio-chemical reaction she was experiencing. Poison started dissolving into her bloodstream. After so many years of non-usage, the toxins had developed a tardy fuse. Shepard dispenses his only remaining dose of medi-gel. Her chest swelled as she woke up breathing air furiously. She needed time to revive. Shepard, ignored her wither, bent over to pick her by the shoulder. A creepy war cry of thundering footsteps approached him. A total lapse of judgment, for, there was only emptiness all around. Still, convinced that a brutally vicious large animal was poking around in the dark, he pushed ahead.

"Shepard.." a familiar voice radioed.
"Thane..."said Shepard as he approached a narrow crawlspace.
"You know how sneaky I am. I bugged your omni-tool. Your medi-gel capacity is below normal quota. Are you hurt?"
"Listen, I'm below Black Helix. A quarian friend of mine seems to be infected. Her bio-suit is damaged."
"Shepard, your frequency is dropping,.. Shep.."

The choice of Tali approached upon them. A spherical VI loomed over, "Unauthorized entry. Do not proceed further."

Shepard, looking at the purple holographic info drone, asked where he was.

The VI was limited in discourse, "You're at Asimov Foundation, the cradle of Civilization. You're unwelcome. Please exit. In case of an injury, take the shaft to your right."

"What, where!" yelled Shepard.

The VI kept repeating the same shit over and over again. The shaft was rendered invisible, buried by thin sheets of dirt. During the descent, Shepard took a loan of her arc pistol and rested her against the wall panel. Her limbs were cold. They were left alone with only their thoughts. Not knowing what lay ahead, she clutched his hand "I don't think I can go any further."

Shepard nodded "I know."

The quarian arc pistol
The quarian arc pistol

The sharp gravity drop came to a stop. Shepard hammered the jammed concave lid with his feet. As the axle blew open, an asparagus smelling, mammoth shadow approached the agrarian duct and stared into his eyes. A near fatal attack was expected by Shepard.

Silence. Heavy Breathing. Blackout

Shepard achieved consciousness in a brightly lit, completely white room. Dozens of holographic VIs were stranded atop, they all seemed to be hibernating or something. Shocked & stirred, as he watched a conglomeration of cyber-commandoes - meta-turians and meta-humans at the far-end of the mirror compound awaiting orders. Everything in the space was machine-made. Synthetic.

A decorated entrance. A subtle movement. A human

Spotless white, high cheekbones and androgynous. He walked in like a sophisticated doll dressed in a low-polymer Alcantara fabric. The center piece of attraction was a glossy pyramid piece of sculpture.

"Shepard, welcome to the Future", his baritone voice hissed.
"You were scheduled to death 30 minutes ago" with a reluctant voice.
"A short story in honor of the man who cheated death - A new Age of science and spirituality is what I aim for. In my early 20s, I was imprisoned by a weaker alien species with higher cognitive abilities. Passive, educated and full of vision for Illium, they had the tendency to swap consciousness and even made trips to the Citadel. The evil potential of human mind and their dying home world drove them into hiding. Their contact nurtured my scientific fetish."
"My research reached its pinnacle, when, one day I came across a glowing, incendiary prismatic device left behind by a mining mission gone wrong. The artifact's emission sent me into a coma for the next few weeks and I woke up a changed man. I can now exert mind control and manipulate other organisms. For instance", he pointed to the lithograph of an obedient Elcor. It is exciting how science and technology can enthrall the mind. Of course, I'm only perfecting..."

Shepard pleads with Asimov to end this non-sense, "What if you fail?" trying to postpone the inevitable.

"Asimov!... is dead. He was nothing but a conduit. I'm the Illusive man" he said so royally dedicating the first three letters of the ridiculous name to his birthplace. Clearing his throat, he replied "Even if I do fail, the universe is a hollow space of exploration - my next line of inquiry points to a prehistoric planet, something to do with an aquatic race ."

A sickly sweet smell of asparagus rustled across the room. Horror loomed when Shepard watched Tali, now aware and awake, being carried into the chamber by the Elcor. "I believe you've made acquaintance with my psychopathic Elcor. A word of advice, never look into its eye."

The Illusive man
The Illusive man

"Shepard, my dear boy. There're darker days ahead and humanity will be tested. The time has come for humanity to evolve . Transcendence is the answer. The Asari weren't worthy but the Ardat-Yakshi came in handy. Sometimes, too much biotic ability hampers the process." Asimov submerged himself into a soft, suffocating silo of blue liquid and on his way revealed his plan, " Now, that you've brought a quarian friend, let's try one more time."

In a swift act, Shepard squeezed the arc pistol at Tali's manacles. He launched himself at the beast while Tali's erratic kick, a probable reaction to the toxin, sent away a sentinel robot flying into a battalion of machinery equipment. Lights flickered as Tali churned her unpredictable behavior into a comical martial artistry. The Elcor's broad shoulders rammed into Shepard's larynx. Lying down, he watched the Illusive man trying to escape with the relic. Shepard clutched at the rim of his legs, a short surprise of spotlessness mildly stunned him - soon after, pounced upon him. The piece leapt into the air and fell before the anterior limbs of the Elcor. Shepard caught a glimpse of the haggard looking beast's face. The Elcor, slow but heavy, crushes the artifact by its sheer weight. The light from the artifact engulfed Shepard.

The sound of shatter was followed by a wave of rumble seeping in through all directions. The place started falling apart. No sign of the Illusive man or the Elcor. Clearly recalling the events that followed, Shepard unites with Tali.

"What's up with you?" looking at Tali confused.
"I'm all right Shepard. I just don't know how." Her body language was disorienting but she could speak.

Rushing through the crumbling facility, Tali contacted and explained the situation sending out co-ordinates and evidences of audio recordings.

Alliance Fleet -
Alliance Fleet -
"I don't think landing an Alliance Fleet is such a good idea. Once your guys get past that relay, it's total war." said a worried Shepard.
"Only if they find out!" said Tali like a proud pink power ranger.
The Normandy -
The Normandy -

Outside the sprawl of a defunct facility of Binary Helix, they felt the harsh glare of dawn interfered by the silhouette of David Anderson , the Commander of SSV Normandy, a one-of-a-kind stealth starship

Before leaving, Tali nestled her hands on Shepard's arms and said "Your father would be proud of you."
"And so would Donnelly" Shepard reminded himself. She was taken to the med-bay on-board.

Anderson : I gather you must be Shepard.
Shepard : Yes sir
Anderson : Master Shepard (shaking his hand vigorously), the Citadel Council will always be in your debt for you service.
Shepard : I was at the right place at the right time. Nothing more Captain.
Anderson: How you managed to cease the attack on Illium all by yourself is not what I'm here for. Although, I would like to know about it. We could use a man like you..
Shepard : Tali was around to help me sir.
Anderson : As it may, the information you hold is of high value to military intelligence and the Galactic Council. I personally handpick candidates for the N7 programme and I want you to be on it.
Shepard: It would be an honor sir.

An incoming message. Interception.
"Dammit, get me a clear signal marine " Anderson ordered.

Shepard : So, how is she?
Anderson: My CMO is taking up alien biology classes. The new recruit Salarian says it nothing to worry about. It's just drell venom in large doses. Simulates the pain of burning pancreas.

An incoming message

This is Admiral Steven Hackett.
Shepard, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Congratulations on returning safely. Looks like you're a man of action. The ANN sent us reports of a downtown earthquake. Now, we know what happened at Illium. For your services rendered, the Alliance has considered making you the first human spectre if and only if you're willing to join the Systems Alliance. Of course, you'll be debriefed and a period 0f time will be wasted waiting for an apparent official dissertation.
Shepard: I'm not trained enough to become a spectre Admiral.
Admiral: Spectres are not trained, but chosen. Individuals forged in the fire of service and battle—those whose actions elevate them above the rank and file. I am officially requesting that you join us in our mission to maintain galactic security. Formal ceremony at the Citadel. Hackett out.

and that's how he became the first human spectre

P.S : I wish it wasn't this long. Hope you like it .Y'all take care now..

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