Monday, June 5, 2017

1 Eden Prime

--> I have been given the honour of second-in-command aboard the Alliance’s latest ship, an innovative development in military technology and strategy. Stealth and Recon 1, or the Systems Space Vessel Normandy, is a joint effort of the finest minds in the Alliance and the Turian navies. Her stealthiness and speed exceed anything to date, and should lay the groundwork for a promising new field of development.

The Normandy is indeed a prototype of ambitious design. Aside from visual contact, the Normandy is virtually impossible to detect unless she enters or drops out of light-speed. This inability to conceal arrival in any given system is a major weakness, albeit a theoretically manageable one. If the ship’s pilot can place the entry point within a masked area, such as a dust cloud or the blind side of a space body, maintaining the element of surprise is possible. Such accuracy, however, would require a pilot of extraordinary talent.

When I asked the ship’s pilot, one Lieutenant Moreau, about the feasibility of such a feat, he assured me with gusto that he was capable of pulling off “any stunt short of an Asari Shimmy with this baby.” Moreau appears solidly saddled with the nickname “Joker,” and he gleefully lives up to it. Let us hope he also lives up to his brag of skill. Captain Anderson assures me that, despite Moreau's borderline insubordination, he will prove himself worth his shenanigans.

Much as I appreciate the opportunity to serve aboard such a vessel, I am not entirely at ease. The Normandy combines Human and Turian technology, and funding from both the Citadel and Alliance, but is technically Human property, complete with Human crew and command, belonging to the Alliance Navy. Joining efforts to design and build the ship is one thing, ceding it without question to Humanity is another. Why? Do the Turians feel confident enough in their own ships that they feel at ease in helping Humans build the Normandy? Is it an open and honest gesture of good-will? Or will they at some future opportune moment attempt to lay claim to the vessel? They would certainly have a strong argument in such a case, and the result would be a political nightmare, to say the least. Maybe that is the point. Perhaps merely the possibility of such an inconvenience is enough for the Turian Hierarchy, a bargaining chip against the Alliance in the event of future dispute.

Perhaps I am too quick to judge, too hasty to see deceit and subterfuge. Or am I? The First Contact War was not all that long ago, only twenty-six years; can two entirely different species of warlike history so quickly make peace, not just within themselves, but with each-other? I hope so. It was fortunate indeed the Asari stepped in before the war progressed very far. Whatever the outcome and whoever the eventual winner, it is certain Humans and Turians alike would have fared ill indeed had hostilities been allowed to continue. Should future mishap or malice provoke another altercation, it may not be again quelled before too late.

But such grim broodings are beyond the scope of my knowledge. Of more immediate concern is the purpose of this, our first mission, the Normandy’s maiden voyage. Ostensibly we are merely to test the stealth systems and ensure that the ship performs smoothly, but I suspect otherwise. Even the crew are talking amongst themselves, speculating about our true intent and purpose. It is only natural the presence of a Turian Spectre would set tongues wagging. Officially, Nihlus is here to oversee the launch and first flight of the Normandy and report back to the Citadel Council. 
Hogwash. If a report on their investment was all the Council wanted, they could have sent almost anyone. Any individual with the proper security clearance would suffice, so why a Spectre? An agent of his calibre could disable the ship and kill half the crew before anyone was even aware of the danger. I know I shouldn't suspect ill of an individual who has given me no specific reason to distrust him, but nevertheless I’ve been watching him. I have an uneasy feeling he’s also watching me. If so, why me specifically? Captain Anderson is the more prestigious soldier, longer service record. What is the Turian’s purpose and how does it relate to our mission? If I have a weakness it is impatience. I don't like being kept in the dark. I informed Captain Anderson of my concerns, and have his private assurance that Nihlus can be trusted. I hope he’s right.

At least this assignment smacks of action. For too long lately, I’ve been commanding honour guards for dignitaries politicking on Illium. I suspect someone up the chain of command thinks they’ve been doing me a favour by assigning me cushy guard duty, perhaps as a reward for Elysium. I’ve tried to see it as a privilege, but it’s not why I joined the navy. The way I see it, a marine is best sent where he can apply his training, not standing around like a flower pot on display.

--> Distress call received from Eden Prime, our destination. Mission details finally divulged. We are to discreetly pick up an intact Prothean Beacon unearthed by the colony. Safe money says the dig was leaked. 
Intel is limited. Transmission from the squad protecting the Beacon was cut short, whether by destruction of the com or active jamming. In either case, no further transmissions have been received. All we know is that the marines there are under attack and taking heavy casualties. And something else. Just before the transmission cut out, the HUD camera from the soldier transmitting caught a glimpse of something in the sky above the colony. If pressed, I'd have to say it more closely resembled a great, black, hand than anything else I can bring to mind. Whether an incredible alien creature hitherto undiscovered or unregistered ship design or monster pulled from the shadows of nightmare I cannot say. We're moving in fast and quiet. We don't have the troop complement to cover the entire colony. I will deploy with a small team to secure the Beacon and find out what on Earth is going on. Hopefully we can avert disaster long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

In light of the emergency unfolding on the peaceful colony ahead of us and the unknown assailants that threaten the innocents there, another note I should make seems almost trivial by comparison. Nihlus is here for dual purpose: to ensure fair dealing and secure retrieval of the Beacon, and to assess my abilities for candidacy in the Spectres. It seems my actions on Elysium have reached even Turian ears. If Humanity gets a Spectre, that's one step from a seat on the Council. I'm honoured, but not altogether pleased. I will of course follow orders from Alliance Command and accept the position if approved, but I would far prefer not to have my loyalties and duty divided between my superiors and the Citadel Council. It may work out smoothly or it may not. I have no very great desire to become a political tool only to find myself falling between two stools.

Deceleration alert is active. We are about to enter sublight.

--> Mission failed. We saved the colony, but the crucial target is lost; the Beacon is destroyed. Corporal Jenkins and Nihlus are dead. The attackers were Geth. Why they have chosen to appear now after two hundred years of absolute isolation is unknown. Clearly they were on Eden Prime for the Beacon, but how in blazes did they find out about it? Is it possible they have allies among organics? If so, why were none present in force? I was expecting Batarian raiders, not killer robots. 
There was only one member of the attacking force that was not Geth. My team never caught sight of him. We only have one eyewitness, a dockworker named Pallete, who can attest to his presence. Nihlus had gone ahead to scout out the enemy’s position. Pallete, hidden amongst cargo crates, saw Nihlus let his guard down upon seeing another Turian who he addressed as Saren. Saren shot him in cold blood.

Saren is a Spectre like Nihlus. Why he has aligned with the Geth is unknown. What I do know is that Saren betrayed and shot Nihlus and tried to destroy the entire colony. He and the Geth must have gotten whatever it was they wanted from the Beacon, as they left it behind to be destroyed by the nuke-level charges they had set. We disarmed the charges, but the Beacon self-destructed.

I don't even want to think about the Beacon. I’ve had nightmares of my own, but the Beacon held something different. When I approached it, I was caught up and my mind filled with sights I can neither understand nor unsee. It was as though I found myself witness to all the horrors of a mass genocide in the space of a few seconds. When I came to my senses I was in the Normandy med bay, fifteen hours later. 
Captain Anderson insists the vision imparted by the Beacon be included in our report to the Council. But what are we to tell them? I can’t sort out in my own mind what it was I saw, much less deliver a comprehensive report. Such a vague and subjective story can only serve to weaken our case against Saren. Proving his guilt to the Council will be hard enough without discrediting our charges through mention of dreams. Incredibly, we have no security footage to recover from Eden Prime. All the security cameras at the space dock had their circuitry and software fried. Why would the Geth have bothered to wipe software record of their attack, given that they intended to nuke the entire colony and all evidence of their presence? The best guess we can make is that their ship, the shape we saw above Eden Prime, damages unprotected equipment automatically. If so, setting aside its incredible size, it will prove a tough ship to defeat.

A lot of people died on Eden Prime today. The squads guarding the Beacon, the 212 and the 232, leave but one surviving marine. Of the civilians at the Eden Prime spaceport, dockworkers, scientists, and others, most were massacred. And two soldiers died on my watch. Corporal Jenkins; bright-eyed and eager for adventure, he was gunned down by Geth fire almost as soon as we touched down. The poor chap would have done better to stay at home. He’s not the first soldier to die under my command and he won’t be the last. At least he died on his native planet, his feet firmly planted as he stood defending the ground he was born and raised on. Nihlus. Not under my command, to be sure, but he was an ally on the field. I regret having mistrusted him. He wasn’t Alliance, he wasn’t even human, but he was assigned to the field with my team and died. Would that he hadn’t insisted on moving ahead of us alone. Jenkins died in honest battle. Nihlus was betrayed. Both will be avenged.

The death count could have been much worse. Though the mission was nominally a failure, the entire colony would now be a smoking crater had we not intervened. That doesn’t negate the loss of the Beacon, but given a choice between the two, I’d lose the Beacon any day. We lost historical intel of unknown value. So be it. Our job is to protect lives, not increase our knowledge of Prothean technology and culture.

We have a new crewmember. Captain Anderson has reassigned the sole survivor of the 212, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, to the Normandy. I've seen Williams in action, and she proves herself one of the most capable soldiers I’ve ever seen. A quick eye and a deadly shot, she will make an excellent addition to the team. It stands greatly to her credit that she survived an ambush that decimated her squad.

The Beacon, or what is left of it, is on-board. Citadel scientists will do what they can with it, but no one holds out much hope. In all likelihood, the best we can get from that heap of rubble is the mess sitting in the back of my mind.



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  2. Joshua Shepard seems a reflective sort. Looking forward to your next installation.