BattleTech Fanon Wiki
Salvaging from Strife (Chapter Cover Art)

Salvaging from Strife[]

Chapter 23 - Hit and Run[]

Part 1[]

World of Noveria
Outside Citadel Space, Deep Periphery

There were times, Mechwarrior Montgomery Shepard thoughtfully reflected, when being thorough meant creating more weak points.

As part of security measures, all traffic to and from Noveria was routed through Port Hanshan. Any cargo the research facilities on the frozen planet needed had to be delivered, on land or via registered airlift, all the way from the single spaceport. A convenient method to restrict and regulate aerospace traffic, and a convenient method to subvert.

The DEST commandos formed up next to the door, weapons at the ready. At a signal from Captain Takamori, the point man slipped through the entrance, followed by the others. Only muffled hisses and thumps emerged. Shepard waited until he heard the all clear signal over his neurohelmet's earpiece, then followed them into the garage.

The Binary Helix guards inside hadn't stood a chance. Their bodies lay scattered on the floor, helmets marred by precise damage from the DEST's laser rifles. Already, the commandos were dragging the bodies out of sight. In the center of the garage, the two targets awaited them. One was a large cargo transport, where one of the commandos was already busy powering up the engine. The other was a Mech of the Noveria security, conveniently available for Shepard to hijack.

Cicada Mech (In a City - Farseer Animation version)

Cicada Light 'Mech

It was a Cicada.

"This had better work," he muttered, already climbing up to the open cockpit. The controls were still familiar, fortunately, and he quickly began the startup sequence. If Brown had done his work, the security on the Mech should be disabled. Unplugging the original neurohelmet, Shepard attached his own neurohelmet in its place.

He felt a momentary sense of dizziness, feedback from the unfamiliar machine. Then the startup sequence finished, and the feeling faded. Tentatively, Shepard took a few steps forward, getting a feel for the Cicada. It was a fast Mech, if lightly armed, a far cry from the slow but powerful Bloody Igor.

"Mask, Dragon One here, garage sealed, we're ready to move out," he heard Captain Takamori contact the Maskirovka agent.

"Copy that, Dragon One," Agent Zhou replied. "All clear on my side. Go ahead."

The DEST captain switched channels. "Port Command, this is Binary Helix Cargo Transport One, departing for Peak 15. Requesting escort, weather looks bad."

"Pillbox here," Shepard reported, using the callsign stored in the Mech's computer. "I'm available to escort. Just a detour to waypoint one, might as well start my shift early."

"Confirmed, BHCT1, Pillbox," a bored voice replied as the garage doors opened, "you are cleared to depart. Have a nice trip."

The Elementals, the Battle Armor too conspicuous to be in the spaceport, were waiting at the rendezvous point under a rocky overhang, alongside Adept Williams and Miss Zorah. They embarked onto the cargo transport, dumping some of the cargo containers to make space. An Elemental raised its Battle Claw and tore open one of the containers. "Thick sludge in here," he reported. "Appears organic in origin."

"Growth substrate for the Pied Piper, I suspect," Adept Williams suggested. "Leave it, I can take a sample from one of the other containers. Peak 15 is the real prize."

Part 2[]

Road outside Peak 15
World of Noveria
Outsider Citadel Space, Deep Periphery

"Approaching Peak 15, ETA five minutes," the Kuritan commando driving the transport warned. Concealed within the cargo compartment, Point Commander Alenko made another check of his Elemental Battle Armor, all systems as ready as when he had last checked. Around him, the other four Warriors of his Point and the smaller Kuritan soldiers silently made their own preparations. In the crew compartment, Adept Williams was still working to deceive Peak 15 as to the transport's true cargo, with assistance from the quarian. Snatches of her lies leaked through Alenko's communicator, a dirty trick, but this entire operation was based on treachery, and the enemy did not deserve the honor of a batchall.

"Alright, let's stick to the plan," the mercenary Mechwarrior Shepard told everybody needlessly, his stolen Cicada somewhere ahead of the transport charting a route through the frozen snow-covered landscape. "We all know our roles."

Point Commander Alenko's Elemental Point would be the stampede that broke open the defenders. The DEST squad would mop up the broken foes behind them, and escort the quarian and adept towards anything that might be worth capturing for the Star League. The Mech's role was simple, destroying any resistance it could see, wreaking what damage it could on the outside of the facility and securing their withdrawal, blunt tasks appropriate for the mercenary.

Alenko realized the commandeered vehicle was decelerating. Blind to the outside, he felt himself involuntarily tense. They were close to Peak 15's entrance now. Had the facility's defences noticed something? The mercenary spoke again, "Everybody, this is Commander Shepard. Prepare to go loud."


The cargo transport accelerated, building up speed before suddenly slamming into something. Bracing himself against the wall of the compartment, battle claw digging deep into the metal, the Elemental waited out the turbulence, until the screeching of vehicle careening ceased.

The large doors of the cargo compartment swung open, and Alenko got his first look at Peak 15. The garage looked like the garage at the spaceport, gray surfaces and rounded edges, save for the white snow pouring in through the smashed entrance. What was more important were the corporate guards he saw, some beginning to aim in his direction, others scattered around the large chamber in disarray. Mindful of the DEST commandos behind him, Point Commander Alenko leaped out of the transport and activated his jump jets only once clear, closing in on the closest foe.

The salarian, judging by the body shape, foolishly stood his ground, firing blindly at Alenko's kinetic barriers. He grabbed the alien in his battle claws and slammed him into the ground, then squeezed. The salarian hadn't set his shields for melee attacks, and the sight would demoralise the other defenders. Standing up again, he tore towards the next target, the rest of his Point following him.

Part 3[]

Peak 15 Base
World of Noveria
Outsider of Citadel Space, Deep Periphery

The Cicada's weapons were decent enough, even if they were only medium and small lasers. Shepard slagged the most intact looking portions one final time, then stomped over the wreck of the communications array for good measure.

With that done, Shepard sent a series of pulses through his communicator, designed to break through the jammer Adept Williams had activated in the cargo transport. It was a simple message: "Peak 15's comms disabled."

Shortly thereafter, a gap opened in the jamming, just enough for him to regain contact with the rest of the strike force. From the sound of things, they were making good progress. Pushing the Cicada into a sprint, Shepard began to circle the portion of Peak 15 jutting out from the ice, targeting windows and other details on the structure.

Detecting exterior activity on his sensors, Shepard turned around a corner to see a large hatch opening up, light and heat spilling out onto the snow. Approaching closer, he fired into the passage from a distance, wary of an ambush. A trio of light hovercraft shot out, but ignored him, turning away and going at full throttle.

"This is Shepard. Spotting some runners." He could probably pursue them. The Cicada was fast, even on this uneven snowy terrain. It had been designed as a scout Mech after all. But odds were good at least one would escape, and contact the rest of Noveria for assistance. Still, Peak 15 was isolated, and the blizzard would slow them and any incoming reinforcements down.

Ignoring the escaping hovercraft, he neared the hatch they had emerged from. Lowering the Cicada to a squatting stance, he raked his lasers through the small garage visible within. Whatever vehicles still inside were civilian and unarmored, judging by how quickly the lasers melted into their interior and disabled them. Small shapes fled deeper into Peak 15, offering no resistance.

"Shepard, this is Williams. There's an enemy strongpoint slowing us down, close to the exterior walls. Marking position."

"Got it. Stay back."

Standing upright once more, Shepard fired his lasers again, lighting up another part of the surface facility. Good thing the blizzard was concealing them from orbital satellites.

Part 4[]

Peak 15 Mountain Base
World of Noveria
Outsider of Citedal Space, Deep Periphery

<<"Alert, this facility is under attack. This is not a drill.">>

Tali ignored the automated message, much like she was trying to ignore the corpses she'd passed by from the garage to here. She'd thought there would be geth here, but the closest thing to the renegade AI machines were automated VI-controlled turrets. And with the VI-core now damaged and disabled before her, that wasn't an issue anymore.

"I haven't found geth code in the VI so far." the quarian reported. She was only able to scan fragments of the virtual intelligence, but everything had been clean so far. Whether or not that was a good thing, she didn't know yet. "In any case, I'm not getting anything useful out of the VI, too many safeguards, and too much damage."

"Alert, hostiles are inside the facility. All security personnel are to respond immediately."

"Can't you at least turn off the racket?" Adept Williams pestered her.

"The announcements are hard-coded into the systems, they can't be deactivated," Tali informed her. "It's a safety feature, it's supposed to be working during an emergency, even if the VI is gone."

A flash of light caused her to flinch and dive for cover before she realized it had come from the commandos escorting them. The captain lowered his laser rifle, face invisible behind his visor. "Took out the speakers." he crisply informed them.

"Some warning would have been nice." Adept Williams voiced Tali's own annoyance. "Fine, do what you can, Zorah."

Tali nodded, continuing her work. As she dissected the VI's code and disconnected digital storage units laden with encrypted data, she found herself distracted by errant thoughts. The corporation Binary Helix had ties to the Spectre Saren Arterius and Matriarch Benezia, and the geth had considered Peak 15 a place of interest. Yet she had found nothing incriminating so far. Were the people here innocent? Had she made an error with the geth research, and wrongly targeted an utterly innocuous facility?

Pilgrimages weren't supposed to be violent, but peaceful. Self-defense was a necessity all young pilgrims had prepared for, and here Tali was, following humans raiding a corporate site. The others on Noveria didn't seem concerned about the loss of life. And if these people were working with geth, she'd have agreed, yet the uncertainly gnawed at her as she searched and extracted files from the facility's data network.

"Adept Williams, Point Commander Alenko," she heard the human Clan Elemental report. "We have located tunnels leading deeper into the glacier. Tram-line, inactive. Proceeding onwards."

"Understood, Point Commander," Adept Williams replied. Looking towards Tali, she asked, "how much longer?"

"Not long," Tali decided. "There's too much here, I just got what seemed useful." Hard to tell if they would be, given the heavy encryption, but she kept that to herself for now. "Just need to… there." Binary Helix would have difficulty restoring Peak 15's systems now, certainly not before they were gone.

"Two, Three, grab those data units," the commando captain commanded. "Four, set up the bomb. One minute, then we're following those Clanners."

Part 5[]

Peak 15 Mountain Base
World of Noveria
Outsider of Citedal Space, Deep Periphery

"What are those things?" Erin asked.

"There is little resemblance to the Feros fungus," Dumon observed, looking through the glass at the skittering alien creatures in the pen below. They all appeared identical to Alenko, insectoid lifeforms scrambling around on four limbs and with lethal-seeming appendages on their backs. "Prudence might be sensible, lest our actions hinder our goals."

"Look at them," Carmen scoffed. "Vermin. They will be a useful distraction, but such animals are no threat to us Elementals."

"I concur, Warrior Carmen." Point Commander Alenko decided, stepping up to the glass, looking at the gates to the pen, sealed shut. Raising a hand up, he stirred his biotic powers awake, the element zero in his nervous system responding to well mastered commands. Reaching out through the physical barrier before him, he focused onto the gates, and generated a brief but powerful gravity well behind them, creating a pulling force strong enough to fling an Elemental backwards.

The pen gates slid open a crack.

The alien beasts within sensed the opportunity, scrabbling and lunging at the new weakness in their prison. Slowly, the gap was forced wider under limbs and mandibles, until the creatures could squeeze throw the still growing opening.

"Lasers and rockets to the gates would have been as effective, quiaff?" Borta observed.

"Neg," Alenko countered, "then the creatures might have noticed our presence." He led his point back out of the observation room, his Elemental suit picking up the sound of weapons firing in the distance, followed by screaming and screeching. Opening up the channel to the rest of the strike force, he reported, "This is Point Commander Alenko. The foe is distracted and occupied. We have unleashed their test subjects from containment."

He advanced past an overrun position, littered with corpses of security guards and creatures. The distant noise of combat was intensifying. The communicator crackled, "Please repeat that, Point Commander. You released test subjects?"

"Aff. Alien lifeforms clearly intended as weapons of war. These scientists shall taste their own bitter medicine when their hubris turns upon them."

"Point Commander," Adept Williams replied, "we need to access those labs. And we need to avoid contamination by the Feros Pied Piper fungal spores."

"We have not encountered any airborne spores, Adept. The test subjects will benefit our advance. The defenders are thrown into disarray, and my Point will capitalize on the advantage."

A pack of the alien creatures rounded a corner ahead of them, blood covering their carapace. They screeched at Alenko, then rushed at him, flinging globs of thick fluid that sizzled against his barriers as they did closed in.

"Let us test how formidable these beasts are," Alenko boasted to his Point. He opened fire with his arm-mounted weapons, then raised his battle claw to engage the leading foe in melee.

Part 6[]

Peak 15 Research Base

Shepard stomped hard onto another of the bugs, crushing it into paste against the garage floor. There wasn't much room to manoeuvre, but at least the things didn't have any anti-Armor weapons, so he contented himself with kicks and trampling at any that got too close.

Behind him, the DEST commandos in the cargo transport supported with shots at the monsters that had managed to clamber onto his Cicada's legs. They had some sort of acid eating through his armor, in addition to unexpectedly strong claws, so Shepard was willing to accept some friendly fire to get rid of them, since the Cicada lacked arms to rip them off.

His lasers opened fire again, superheated ichor bursting out of two more of the bugs.

"How many of these things did you release, Point Commander?" He yelled into his communicator.

"Only one pen," the Clanner answered, annoyingly calm. "They appear intelligent enough to be releasing other from captivity."

"Intelligent, and dangerous," Adept Williams speculated. "Saren must be researching a control method using Pied Piper fungal spores."

One of the bugs was in just the right spot to be punted into the garage wall. Obviously wounded, it still refused to stop moving, so Shepard launched another one of its companions to join it.

"Forget it," he decided, contacting the cargo transport's driver. "Get out of the garage, we can't hold them here." Warning the others deeper in Peak 15, he broadcasted, "the transport and I are withdrawing to a safe distance, until these bugs stop coming out. And hurry up, we need to withdraw before reinforcements arrive." Matching action to words, he began stepping backwards slowly towards the exit.

"We're almost done," Captain Takamori reported. "The quarian found a map, there's a Subject Zero in an isolated section, separated from the rest. Our team is moving to secure the target and extract what we can. Point Commander Alenko, find and destroy the data servers at these coordinates."

Shepard tuned out the Clanner's reply, concentrating on a bug that had jumped onto the Cicada's right ankle and was clinging there while damaging the vulnerable joint with impunity, the commandos and cargo transport having retreated while he'd drawn the monsters' attention. Having managed to reach the outside by then at least, Shepard turned and ran before more could join in.

A hundred meters on, the bug still refused to be shaken off. Out of options, Shepard came to a halt, raised the other leg, and forcefully scraped it off, before moving on.

Part 7[]

Peak 15 Labs

The labs were wrecked by combat between corporate security and escaped lab experiments, but it was clear the security forces were on the losing side. Still, after nearly getting her head bitten off by one of the insectoid beasts and seeing one of the human commandos die screaming from their acidic spit, Tali was not feeling too much sympathy for Binary Helix. Fortunately, guns still worked against the creatures, and most of them seemed interested in chasing the survivors or spreading through the facility rather than picking at the team.

Whatever Subject Zero was, it was massive, if the size of its armoured containment chamber was anything to go by. As the human commandos swept the area for hidden threats, Tali leaned over a still running research console, looking for unsecured information about Subject Zero. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Adept Williams and Captain Takamori interrogating the lone surviving scientist they'd found, sprawled against a wall.

Adept Williams, kneeling in front of the scientist, asked, "Who are you?"

"This one. Serves as our voice," the scientist gurgled.

"He's delirious. Injuries look fatal," the commando captain suggested. "Surprised he's still alive, but I doubt he can tell us anything."

"Your musics are colourless, flat," the salarian scientist continued raving. "We can only speak through this one."

"I can see that," Adept Williams ignored the dying scientist. "He's harmless at least. Maybe we should just grant him mercy."

"No," Captain Takamori disagreed, "we might need his biometrics to unlock something." The scientist twitched forwards, trying to get up, and the commando shoved him back to a resting position. "Tough guy, doesn't even realize he should be dead."

"My song, you cannot hear. Your song, you cannot listen."

One line of text caught Tali's eye. She reread it, feeling dread and confusion fill up her suit. It seemed Peak 15 wasn't researching the Pied Piper from Feros after all. She backed away from the console and made her way toward's Subject Zero's chamber. As it turned out, there was a reason the containment chamber was covered in sheets of military-grade armor.

Tali opened a viewport, and looked straight at a massive insectoid staring back with its eyestalks. She shut the viewport.

"That's a rachni queen in there."

Adept Williams spun her helmet to stare at Tali. "What did you say?" The human stepped past Tali, opened the viewport, then shut it. "That's not a fungus. I thought the rachni were wiped out?"

"A thousand years ago, yes," Tali agreed. The rachni had conquered large swathes of the mass relay network when they were unwittingly discovered by explorers. The hive species would have wiped out the Citadel races if not for the krogan uplift and the complete extermination of the rachni. And now a queen was right in front of her. In hindsight, she should have made the connection when the creatures were capable of tearing through the research facility with such ease.

This sort of thing should have been handled by the Citadel Council.

"This doesn't change our objectives," Adept Williams decided. "We're still retrieving it for Blake. And the Star League." She turned left and right, looking around the lab. "They must have a method for transporting this… rachni in and out of Peak 15. We just need to find it."

Part 8[]

Peak 15 Lab ruins

A warrior did not excel by being ignorant of the battlefield. Alenko could feel the momentum turning against his Point moment by moment now. Surprise, speed and the rampage of the creatures now identified as 'rachni' had kept their foes off-balance, but even greedy hired thugs knew the basics of battle, rallying together and responding to the assault with steadily increasing coordination and force.

The data servers were not a feasible objective anymore. Alenko's goal now was to cover the withdrawal of the second non-Clan group with their prize of a rachni queen. To that end, the Elementals were patrolling around the route being taken by the other unit, to seek and destroy any threats, whether armed or rachni. Twice now the Elementals had plowed through a hastily assembled counterattack, where their superior skill had ensured swift victory.

Reaching an atrium, Alenko leapt from the low ground onto a higher level, the other Elementals following behind him. There was no sign of hostiles, not even a trace of damage from rachni. Still alert, he moved for one of the exits. Tearing a handhold into the door with his suit's battle claw, he wrenched it open.

The asari at the end of the corridor lashed out with biotics. Alenko felt his kinetic barriers fail under the interfering external mass effect field, shortly before floating weightless off the ground. The asari's allies opened fire with small arms, while a krogan among them aimed a rocket in his direction.

Alenko triggered his own biotics, breaking free of the levitation. A brief burst of his jump jets launched him above the rocket, then he landed down again, raking the ambushers with a burst from his machine gun. The laser on the other arm he directed at the asari, who ducked behind cover before the radiation could burn through her armor. Feeling the tingle of more mass effect fields, the Point Commander launched his last pair of rockets, ending the confrontation.

Borta took the lead while Alenko's kinetic barriers recovered, finishing off surviving enemies. Alenko followed behind Carmen, seeking and finding the body of the asari.

"An asari commando." he recognized. Not one of the common asari infantry, but an elite warrior, unrivalled in biotic skill, with years, decades, perhaps centuries of training and experience. Few Elementals had faced an asari commando before. The slippery aliens preferred underhanded diplomacy, and the Clans Mech support when facing such dangerous threats.

"One of Benezia's, judging by the insignia," Dumon added.

"Where there is one, there must be more," Borta warned. "Why have we not encountered them up till now?"

"In hiding, perhaps, the cowards," Carmen guessed. "They die just as easily as the rest."

Alenko could only dissent. The asari had been dangerous, alone, supported only by a squad of corporate security. Their biotics would be lethal if the Elementals encountered a full unit of commandos. Out loud, he said, "My biotics will even the odds against them. If her commandos are present, so might Matriarch Benezia. Be on your guard."

Part 8[]

Ruins of Peak 15 Lab

Shepard took one last look around outside the Peak 15 garage. Nothing but snow, ice, rock, the remains of the bugs buried under the swirling snow that reduced visibility to close range. His sensors could otherwise detect nothing but heat dissipating from rents in the research facility's exterior. Satisfied, he guided his Cicada into the garage.

No bug swarms this time, no corporate security either. The chamber was abandoned. The commandeered cargo transport lumbered into the garage in reverse, cargo compartment swinging open, already fully divested of its original shipment to Peak 15. Tensely, Shepard waited for the others to arrive, fingers tight around firing studs.

"More commandos," he heard Point Commander Alenko bark. "Engage at close quarters, deny them a clean target."

"We're almost there," Captain Takamori updated, "I can see the garage."

The DEST commandos jogged into the garage, an armored cargo pod on some sort of interior cargo transporter in tow. To Shepard's relief, he saw Miss Zorah on the cargo transporter, piloting it towards the waiting cargo transport. A rearguard with Adept Williams followed, the adept sprinting ahead while the commandos took up defensive positions.

"Subject Zero won't fit onboard," one of the DEST commandos complained. "It's too big."

"What about the transporter?"

"Look at the wheels. It won't manage the terrain outside."

"Shepard," Adept Williams contacted him, "open up the cargo compartment, then help move the queen aboard."

The Mechwarrior reminded her, "I don't have arms." The Cicada's lasers were set to a weaker, longer pulses. Shepard began crudely cutting through the transport's rear."

"You have legs." Williams said

"If you're granting me permission…" Balancing the Mech carefully on one foot, Shepard pushed off the roof of the field-modified vehicle with the other, which made a racket as it crashed to the floor. Without needing prompting, Miss Zorah drove the cargo pod into position, then cleared out of the danger zone. A few well placed shoves, and the cargo pod was on the transport, at a precarious angle. Helpfully, Shepard melted some of the contact surfaces, fusing the two together.

"That'll do." Adept Williams decided. "Secure the prize better, Zorah, Captain Takamori. Point Commander Alenko, we're ready to go. Status?"

Silence met her query, followed by a strained reply. "Encountered heavy resistance, taking alternate route. Will arrive at rendezvous in one minute."

"Blake's beard. We're leaving once you are here, Point Commander. Driver, get out of the garage now!"

Shepard eyed the many entrances to the garage. He couldn't spot any movement in them yet. Why the commandos had waited until the last moment to engage, he couldn't guess. Perhaps the asari had hoped to conceal their presence initially, hoping the Binary Helix security forces could repel the attack.

Sensors detecting something in one tunnel, he turned and aimed. Four Elementals thundered out, visibly damaged to varying degrees. To Shepard's disappointment, they weren't chased. It seemed Benezia's troops weren't so stupid as to stick their faces in front of his Mech. Three of the Elementals jumped forwards onto the cargo transport with their jump jets, the fourth in the rear climbing onto the back.

"Warrior Carmen fell in battle against Benezia," the Point Commander reported.

"Blast, nothing we can do!" Adept Williams answered. "Alright, everyone. It's 106 kilometers to the cave. We got the data, an extinct bioweapon, it's a blizzard, and we're driving blind."

There was only one thing Shepard could say to that. "Hit it."

Part 10[]

~They have my daughter.~

Matriarch Benezia demanded of her subordinate, "How certain?"

The human she had slain was indubitably a Clan Elemental, with markings identified as Clan Hell's Horses. The other bodies left behind were equipped with personal armor rather than Battle Armor, yet clearly elite. Other irregularities, the quarian spotted with the intruders. There was one likely suspect, one Benezia had been paying attention to, since the crime they had committed against her.

"Absolutely. The decrypted communications clearly identify them as the Normandy Initiative. The force is being led by a Commander Shepard, a Mechwarrior in the Initiative."

~They have my daughter.~

Liara, her Little Wing. Saren spoke the truth, his victory was inevitable. But there was a place for those who followed Saren. As her daughter, Liara had been promised a position by Benezia's side, guaranteed to outlive civilisation. So long as Benezia proved herself worthy to serve Sovereign.

Matriarch Benezia was loyal to Saren's cause, to Sovereign. She would not betray them. She was starting up her asari Judicator Mech Dancer because it was the right choice. The intruders interfering in Saren's plans had a Mech, she needed a Mech. She needed to respond appropriately.

~They have my daughter.~

"Pursue them with everything we have. They must not be allowed to escape."

"What should we send, Matriarch Benezia?" her commando questioned. "We need to contain the rachni subjects. This facility is vital to Saren's plans."

"The rachni have served their purpose. Abandon the facility," Benezia commanded. She did not have to defend Peak 15 for Saren if there was nothing worth defending. And if so, all her efforts could be turned towards hunting the intruders.

~They have my daughter.~

Her feet arrived at the secure hanger housing Dancer. The small, graceful Mech awaited her, torso wide open and awaiting her body. Benezia strode towards it, raising her hands to climb up into the command pod, when her thoughts intruded on her actions.

She had held back initially, expecting the Binary Helix guards to handle the then unidentified intruders, preferring concealment and overseeing the rachni queen for transport. The Matriarch had realized her error shortly there after, but the containment failure on the rachni had interrupted her response and cut them off from the hidden hanger with her Dancer.

And now circumstances were changing rapidly again. She was Saren's main representative in the Terminus Systems while he pursued the lead in the Human Sphere. It would be prudent to withdraw off-planet.

~They have my daughter.~

Matriarch Benezia was not being selfish, she justified to herself. Pursuing the intruders and abandoning the facility was the right thing to do. There were loose ends to cut, so Benezia ordered, "Activate the self-destruct. Erase anything tying this project to Saren. Nobody can know the truth. We will follow the intruders."

With that done, she began entering Dancer. Her asari commandos mounted the other vehicles in the hanger, a pair of hovercraft and a wheeled all-terrain vehicle. Other servants of Saren departed the hanger to fulfill her commands.

~They have my daughter.~

Matriarch Benezia lay back in the cockpit, feeling the form-fitting surface mold itself to her shape. The torso of the Mech sealed shut, fully enclosing the asari as a mother might her unborn child. The humans might need neurohelmets, while the other species made do with VI and similar alternatives, but the asari had their own unique biology, perfectly suited to command such titans of power.

Guided by instinct, Benezia reached out into the Mech with her mind, as though seeking union with a lover, electrical impulses from her skin seeking and finding a counterpoint to join. "Embrace eternity," she whispered.

TThe neural melding interface responded in kind, synthetic circuit and organic nerve synchronizing together pulse by pulse until they were attuned as one. There was no Benezia in the Dancer, no Dancer around Benezia. They were one and the same, two halves of a whole, perfection.

~They have my daughter.~

Stoking the Flames[]

Katherine Steiner-Davion speaking to a crowd, shortly after her mother's death:

Friends, Commonwealth, citizens, lend me your ears,

I come to praise Victor, not to usurp him;

The challenges of one generation are passed to the next,

The dreams are oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with the Federated Commonwealth. My brother Victor

Hath told you the FedCom must integrate with the Star League

And if it were so, it is a major reform

And majorly has the FedCom lacked for it.

Here, under leave of Victor and the rest,

For Victor is an honourable man,

So are they all, all honourable men-

Come I to speak of the FedCom's legacy.

It is my home, precious and sacred to me,

But Victor says it must integrate

And Victor is an honourable man.

It hath guided and nurtured many systems across the stars,

Whose people live in freedom and prosperity,

Should in this the FedCom integrate our neighbours' ways?

Since the realms were merged, the FedCom hath stood strong, well before the Star League reformed.

Integration should go both ways.

Yet Victor says it must integrate,

And Victor is an honourable man.

You all remember my mother the Archon-Princess

Who thrice was offered a term as First Lady,

And who thrice ruled the Star League justly and wisely: Demanded she integration?

Yet Victor says it must integrate

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Victor spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all love the FedCom, -not without cause:

What cause compels you, then, to let it diminish?-

O Tharkad, thou wilt open wide to the brutish Clans,

And Davions have lost their pride!—Bear with me;

My heart is lost amidst the legacy of my ancestors,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

(Here Katherine Steiner-Davion pauses and bows her head. The crowd murmurers, then quietens when she begins speaking again.)

But yesterday the will of the FedCom might

Have stood against the stars: now bows it to Mars and the Citadel

And none brave enough to defend its honour.

O citizens, if I were disposed to stir

Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,

I should do Victor wrong and the Primus wrong,

Who, you all know, are honourable men:

I will not do them wrong; I rather choose

To wrong the dead, to wrong myself, and you,

Than I will wrong such honourable men.

But here's a document with the seal of my mother,-

I found it among her documents,-'tis her manifesto:

Let but the commons hear this dream

Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,

And they would go and kiss New Avalon's earth,

And lie in Tharkad's pure snow,

Yea, beg my parents' wedding plates for memory,

And, dying, mention it within their wills,

Bequeathing it as a rich legacy

Unto their issue.

(The crowd begins clamoring.)

Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;

It is not meet you know how my mother loved you.

You are not steel, you are not stones, but people;

And, being people, hearing the plans of my mother,

It will inflame you, it will make you mad.

'Tis good you know not your promised share of eezo and wealth;

For if you should, O what would come of it!

(The crowd demands her to read the manifesto)

Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?

I have overshot myself to tell you of it:

I fear I wrong the honourable men

Whose plans will change the FedCom; I do fear it.

(The crowd clamors once again)

You will compel me, then, to read the manifesto?

Then follow me to this map of our realm,

And let me show you those for whom the manifesto was for.

Shall I speak? And will you give me leave?

(Katherine Steiner-Davion positions herself over a large mosaic, depicting the Inner Sphere as of 3075)

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

You all do know these stars: I remember

The first time ever I heard my parents' story;

'Twas on a Summer's evening, in my nursery,

That year and war of 3039.

Look, there is the Combine that has plagued our ancestors for centuries.

See the Sarna March with its graveyard of Shengsi,

Across here the powerful Clans rampaged,

And as the FedCom had prepared to avenge our dead,

Mark the Tartarus System the aliens and ComStar now hold,-

As that gate to the galaxy was taken from our grasp, ceded to the Star League,

To claims such noble gestures would begin a new era.

For friendship, as you know, had been promised to the FedCom.

Judge, o my friends, how hopefully we had trusted them.

This was the most unkindest blow of all,

For when we welcomed our enemies old and new,

Ingratitude, rather than that promised golden age,

Quite betrayed us; then faced we the truth;

And, with the Citadel abandoning us to the batarians,

Even as the Clans refuse to return our people,

Which the Star League grant to them in perpetuity, my brother yields!

O what a fall will there be, my countrymen!

When I, and you, and all of us fall down,

Whilst bloody plots flourish around us.

O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel

The dint of injustice: these are gracious drops.

Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold

Our FedCom's current troubles? Look you here,

Here is our future, marred, as you see, by traitors.

(Katherine unfurls and throws down a Citadel poster, depicting Victor and his Kuritan wife shaking hands with the ComStar Primus before the alien Citadel Council. The crowd roars.)

Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up

To such a sudden flood of mutiny.

They that plan these acts are honourable:

What private schemes they have, alas, I know not,

That made them do it; they're wise and honourable,

And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.

I come not, dear friends, to steal away your hearts:

I am no war hero, as Victor is;

But, as you all know me, a plain, loyal daughter,

That love my home; And that they know full well

That gave me public leave to speak of it:

For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,

Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,

To stir your blood: I only speak right on:

I tell you that which you yourselves do know:

Show you our dear home's scars, poor dumb mouths,

And bid them speak for me: but were I Victor,

And Victor his father Hanse, there were a leader

Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue

In every scar of the FedCom, that should move

The very stars to rise and mutiny.

(To the cheers of the crowd, she continues speaking)

Why friends, you go to do you know not what.

Wherein hath the FedCom thus deserved your loves?

Alas, you know not; I must tell you then:

You have forgot the manifesto I told you of.

Here are my mother's words, and under her seal.

To every planet she pledges,
To every world, an equal share of element zero.
Moreover, she vowed the FedCom shall reclaim all its people,
lead the Star League, and grant liberty and prosperity to all. And beyond Tartarus, she hath demanded for you,
And to your heirs forever; a voice on the Citadel Council,
To travel the relays freely and fulfil yourselves.
This was a vision! When comes such another?

(The crowd cheers for her, acclaiming her to lead the FedCom to glory.)

(Transmissions of the speech raced across jumpships, through the HPGs and eezo comm buoys. It would be the opening act of Katherine Steiner-Davion's Restorationist movement.)

  • Note from Author
    AN: Based on Shakespeare, because the idea hit me and why not?

Previous Chapter - Return to Story Index - Next Chapter