Chapter 1: Resistance Earth

Edition: 2

What started that morning as an alarm from one of the Alliance beacons on the far rim of the Solar System quickly disseminated into a full scale war with the Reapers. The initial attack by the Reaper fleet had spread death and devastation across the globe quicker than any member of the Alliance leadership had imagined. Fighter patrols in the air along with units on the ground appeared disorganized as they were fighting battles on all sides. Shuttles carrying civilians out of the cities where the war broke out were chased down by Reaper drones and destroyed. If the fighting continued this way, no one on Earth would last till the end of this day. They needed a leader, a leader that understood the magnitude of the threat they now faced. Admiral David Anderson of the Alliance had just that understanding. He knew that Earth was only the start, soon the entire galaxy would face the Reapers in battle. That’s why he sent Shepard and the Normandy to the Citadel. They had to be warned, even if it seemed too late. Anderson lamented the wasted time fighting political battles, time in his mind that should have been spent relentlessly preparing for the battle being waged today. Even so, he feared it wouldn’t have made any difference.

In the years following the Geth attack on the Citadel political heavyweights and bureaucrats suppressed any knowledge of the Reapers as mythological fantasy. When Shepard confronted the Citadel Council over a year ago with the facts, the turian Councilor dismissed his claims. But Anderson stood up for Shepard then, and he will stand again and fight for what he knows.

Right now Anderson knew that the only way to survive this battle was to retreat and regroup. He scanned the Alliance radio frequencies as he fought his way through wreckage and rubble towards the Alliance docks. Cannibals and Husks weren’t giving him any break and they seemed to come from everywhere. His years of Alliance training popped back into the front of his mind. It had been years since he fought on the front lines but he still handled a weapon with ease. Anderson scanned the radio every minute hoping to get in contact with one of the surviving senior officers that escaped the Alliance headquarters. “This is Admiral Anderson, please respond!”  He shouted over the noise of gunfire and explosions nearby. “Can anybody hear me on any of these frequencies?” He broadcasted on a wide band.  Dropping down to the street Anderson spotted the outer wall of the docks in front of him. The barricades were on alert with tanks stationed in front guarding against the Reaper ground forces that were flooding the streets. A moment later he ducked into cover as a tank fired a ballistic shell whizzing overhead and exploding against the concrete wall twenty feet behind him.

“Stand down he’s Alliance!” Anderson heard over the loudspeaker. One of the soldiers on post spotted Anderson’s uniform through his scope. “He’s an Admiral!” He shouted. Then reacting with his team of six, (four men and two women) they sprinted out towards Anderson’s position. Surrounding him in a circle of protection they laid down cover fire towards the exposed left flank keeping the approaching husks at a distance. They march Anderson back to the safety of the wall. As they passed the tanks, the main cannons fired on the horde of enemies behind them. Anderson flinched over the blast noise. Then saluted by Corporal Smith, Anderson returned the show of respect, thankful for the escort.

“It’s getting pretty heavy out there.” Smith spoke loudly over the gunfire. “That’s an understatement!” Anderson shouted back, almost deafened by the noise from the tanks. “What’s the sit-rep?” He asked.

“The base is surrounded on all sides. But we’re holding the defenses. The hangars are launching every Scorpion fighter we have, holding about a dozon to protect the shuttles we need to evac.” Smith stated.

“You were ordered to evacuate?” Anderson asked.

“In about 6 minutes. Long enough to mobilize our fighters.”

“Who’s your senior ranking officer?”

“Colonel Carter. He’s in Hangar B over there to your right.” Smith pointed to the direction.

“Alright, thank you.” Anderson half returned a quick salute the Corporal flashed out of habit before sprinting past Anderson back to the barricade. Anderson sprinted in the other direction to the marked hangar watched a steady stream of Scorpion fighters exit the hangar doors, hitting the tarmac at breakneck speed ready for takeoff.

“Are you Colonel Carters?” Anderson asked.

“Colonel Carter, and who are you?” he said.

“Admiral David Anderson. Where’s General Melbourne?”

Not less than twenty minutes ago Colonel Carter was on station in the command center. When by chance he saw through the window the giant beam of a Reaper’s laser, fast approaching. He bolted out the emergency exit barely escaping the exploding building. The shock-wave knocked him to the ground leaving scrapes and bruises on his hands and knees. Carter was lucky, he’d gotten out alive. General Melbourne was inside.

“Dead.” The Colonel delivered the curt reply.

The news came as a shock to Anderson.

The Colonel cut him off, “Look, I wish I had time to salute you Admiral but we need to get to the shuttles in Hangar A.” The Colonel was brash and direct, he seemed cold and determined in his course of action.

“How are you handling the civilian evacuations?” Anderson asked while he followed Carter. His crew quickly packed up their gear and followed carrying monitors and radar screens that they used to coordinate the battles being fought outside.

“We’re handling them as best as we can.” said Carter. The Colonel hated the truth. They were losing fast. Fighters were going down almost as soon as they took to the air. But they had enough numbers and enough time to distract the Reapers just enough to give the shuttles room to maneuver.

“Where are we evacuating to?” Anderson asked as they walked through the door joining the two hangars.

“Away from the major cities. If you want the details we’re setting down near Astoria Oregon for a pit stop.” Carter said hoisting himself into a shuttle.

“Camp Rilea? Is there room for all the refugees there?” Anderson asked.

“Room for those who didn’t make it to space and the hell off Earth.”  Carter said. He considered any who got away from Earth to the Mass Relay as lucky. “There’ll be room for the survivors . . . What’s left of them.” He added.

“Is it really that bad?” Anderson seemed to be full of questions. But it was his duty to be well informed. So much had happened in so little time.

“Take a look.” The Colonel said handing Anderson the radar screen. As he looked, Anderson kept a straight face that hid his shock. He saw dozens of alliance units drop off the screen in a flash. The blips were gone. It was clear they had to flee the city but when the shuttle picked up off the ground for takeoff even he worried they wouldn’t make it out alive. Anderson’s head snapped back against his seat as the pilot put the shuttle’s thrusters on full.

***

It was a bumpy ride but they kept low and close to the water until they cleared the edge of the city. The Scorpion escort was down to two after most of them broke off to give the shuttles cover from the pursuing drones. The Alliance took heavy losses with many brave men and women giving their lives to protect the civilian evacuations. It was a regrettable loss but it didn’t shock Anderson to see only a half hour later the base they took off from disappeared from the map. The Reapers had overrun it. It would be a surprise to anyone if no one in that city were left alive. It really hit home with Anderson just how difficult this war would become. In order to form any kind of resistance, in order to survive, they would have to fight on the run. 

About an hour later they touched down at Camp Rilea. Anderson could almost breathe a sigh of relief as he stepped out of the shuttle at dusk. But he immediately headed to the Camp’s control center where he had a job to do. The senior staff were coordinating with other stations on troop deployment and strategy. On the wall was a video screen that listed all the Alliance’ plans of action in North America. Every thirty seconds the map showed the Reaper forces. It estimated the numbers of Reaper enemies and human casualties. The death toll wasn’t exact but it was staggering in the millions. With the Alliance casualties around the globe coming in at nearly 200 thousand. “Two hundred-thousand dead already!” Anderson thought. But after the first wave the number of reported casualties slowed. The Reapers had the element of surprise that day and now that the first wave was over, the Alliance would choose its battles carefully.

Camp Rilea was on full alert with its airstrips cycling through about a dozen aircraft a minute. Consisting of: heavy transport ships, fighters and shuttles for emergency repairs and refueling. The camp’s walls were steadily being reinforced with streams of troops. The commanding officer on the walls nervously watched the approaching Reaper horde on the radar screen. They were about ten short minutes away from seeing active combat and Cadet Mathews knew that it was going to be a long night.

Mathews had barely completed basic training at Camp Rilea when he found himself receiving an instant graduation with his barracks from his drill Sergeant that morning.  But war was what they were trained for, and the Reaper threat was in large part the motivation that drove Mathews to enlist. Unlike the council he believed the Reapers were a clear and present threat. The evidence was heavily stacked against the “propaganda” as he saw it. And the Extranet was filled with conspiracy theorist videos that harped on the Council’s willfully ignorant protection of Rogue Spectre Saren Arterius. Mathews believed the cover-up to be nothing more than large scale political backpedaling. He had a knack for cutting through lies and could always see the patterns that the elements of truth laid out in front of him. A month ago General Whitaker recommended Mathews for the Intelligence Training and Reconnaissance courses at Grissom Academy. It was a high honor to be recommended by one of the Alliance’s leading strategists. But now Mathews’ future hung in the balance as he found himself on the front lines of a war for Humanity. Mathews gazed up over the ledge, on top of the wall where he was stationed. Looking through his assault scope he spotted the outlines of husks, moving through the trees in the distance. It was painfully clear to all of them. The Reapers were here.

As the fighting broke out beyond the walls of the fortress, inside the control room it was chaos. Four hours went by with Anderson issuing air and ground deployments, coordinating bombing runs, viewing reports and arguing with General Whitaker about the conservation of their heavy vehicles. Whitaker was an older man about 64 years old but strong and hardy. He had a bald head, a keen mind and a white beard. Whitaker was a strategist. The medals that adorned his uniform were a testiment to the fact that he was among the Alliance’s best and brightest. Anderson recognized one of the medals that clearly showed Whitaker had fought during the First Contact War. Where other officers quaked under the pressure of moving large armies, Whitaker knew how to organize them with precision. Anderson appreciated the General’s insight and confident disposition through these tense hours. Especially as the base was under fire. But it rattled Anderson when the General asked him how they should issue missile strikes. Whitaker wanted to nuke the cities with the highest Reaper Concentrations.

The mention of nuclear ordinance struck Anderson completely off guard. Whitaker was highly intelligent, but Anderson couldn’t believe what he was suggesting. On the one hand Anderson was intimidated by the reputation of the Alliance giant. But Anderson couldn’t support sacrificing human lives as collateral damage. No matter what, he couldn’t reduce his ethics to a game of numbers. Instead, he cautioned him,

“We start bombing our own cities and where does it end? When the world is over by our hands and not the Reapers?”

Whitaker thought it was an intelligent response,

“You’re right, we could do more damage to ourselves than good.” He said.

“We’ll strike them in unpopulated areas only. Nowhere else.” Anderson said fervently and that was the end of the discussion.

Anderson was relieved, it was a heavy decision. For a minute he considered if it was the right call. The Reapers were enormously powerful and at the moment they laid siege to every major city across the globe. But that was exactly why they couldn’t resort to nuclear force. They were in every major city. There was simply nothing they could do to curb the rise of civilian casualties. And that made nuclear strikes on land out of the question. If they were to launch missiles, they would have to do so away from all nearby civilization.

Anderson looked outside the window in the dead of night. He saw wounded soldiers being carted away from the walls on stretchers. On the other side he saw shuttles arrive with reinforcements darting towards the walls to replace the injured. Refugees occasionally arrived at the camp but they were far fewer in numbers than Anderson had expected. It was a bad sign. The sight almost made Anderson reconsider the value of his ethics. But he realized that for the men and women who would survive  he could not compromise, not for a moment.

***

The next day Anderson was rousted out of bed from a Cadet. Cadet Mathews, stood by the open door saluting with with the pale sunshine of dawn casting its way through the room. “Admiral Hackett is on the vidcomm hailing for you sir.” The Cadet nervously delivered the news. Anderson slept in his clothes and quickly took to his feet. Maybe too quickly he thought. The action he had seen the day before left him sore. It reminded him of his finer years of service. “At ease Cadet.” Anderson said in no mood to return the salute. “Tell him I’ll be there shortly. I’m just going to trade in this tattered uniform for some new fatigues.” Then looking down at his dress shoes that hadn’t helped him in the slightest as he fought his way to the docks yesterday with Commander Shepard.

Anderson added, “And maybe a new pair of boots. Oh, and don’t tell Hackett that last part.”

 “You’ll be there shortly.” Mathews confirmed the message.

“Thank you Cadet.” Anderson dismissed him and Mathews closed the door behind.

About ten minutes later Anderson showed up in the Command Center feeling refreshed after a quick wash and wearing new clothes. Wearing the standard issue chest-plate he looked more like a soldier again than an Admiral. He actually preferred it that way.

“Is Hackett on the line?” He asked the comms officer.

The officer pushed a few buttons and stated, “Receiving the transmission now.”

Hackett appeared as a three dimensional hologram in front of Anderson. The same was being transmitted back to Hackett as three cameras triangulated Anderson’s appearance and sent the video into space.

“Anderson, good morning. How are things holding up on the ground?” Hackett said. He couldn’t help being informal with Anderson who had kept him waiting.

“We made it through the night.” Anderson joked. But it wasn’t the kind of joke that made people laugh. It had an air of cold truth to it. At any moment a Reaper Dreadnought could land and destroy the Camp. But Anderson put that thought far from his mind.

“Good, I just wanted to inform you on a critical development.” Hacket prepared Anderson for the news.

“What is it?”

“We’ve discovered the means to build a Prothean device that we believe could help fight the Reapers.”

The news peaked his interest. Anderson cut him off, “Where did you find this information?”

“Shepard is largely responsable for the recovery of this intel from the Mars outpost. Cerberus attacked it and I sent Shepard in on their coattails.”

Cerberus is a terrorist splinter group of human origin, they have a human first mentality and a reputation for success at all costs. Even if it meant killing dozens or hundreds of humans in the process. Right now Cerberus had a power play that they were putting into motion and it was yet unclear what they were planning to do exactly.

“Cerberus? What was Cerberus doing there?” Anderson wondered.

“I suspect they wanted the data on the Prothean beacon as much as we did.”

Anderson cut Hackett off again, “Did the Normandy make it to the Citadel yet?”

“They did but there’s something you should know. One of Shepard’s team was injured in the fight and is now in critical condition at Huerta Memorial.”

“That’s unfortunate.” Anderson was upset. He hated to see any of his former crew get hurt. “What about the Council? Are they going to help us?”

The Council made up the bulk of the galaxy’s political power. The multi-racial coalition held the seat of power on the Citadel, the galaxy’s largest space station by both size and population.

“No, the Council believes they can gain valuable time to prepare for the war by sacrificing Humanity to save themselves.” Hackett tried to keep a straight face but even he seemed pissed at the news.

“That’s absurd. There’s no way to prepare. They had their chance. Now is the time to stand together!”

Hackett responded, “This isn’t the end of it with the Council. We do have some leverage with the blue prints for the Crucible. Shepard is working on a lead at the moment to gain the support of the Turian Primarch. Besides, it’s growing clearer by the hour that the Reapers are a threat to every civilization in the galaxy. I watched half the Reaper fleet break off from Earth last night. And right now they’re laying siege to Palaven.”

Palaven was the Turian homeworld. The race of evolved humanoids were bird-like in appearance with arms instead of wings. They had a civilization built on a militaristic culture and at the moment their military was being put to the test by the Reapers in the fullest extent of battle.

“This is going to be a hell of a war.” Anderson stated.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Hackett said agreeing with him. From behind Hackett was a commotion aboard the bridge of the ship he hailed from. A Lieutenant approached him mumbling in a muted voice.

“Listen,” Hackett continued with Anderson. “I’m going to have to cut you off, but I’m sending you a list of people we need to work on the Crucible. We need everyone with engineering skills we can find. Not to mention builders. People to hold the hammers and wield torches. I’m assigning you this as your top priority. I’ll be in contact with you later to organize their transport.”

“I’ll get right on it.” Anderson acknowledged.

“Stay sharp down there David. It was good seeing you.” Hackett said.

“Likewise.”

“Hackett out.”

Anderson turned and saw the long roll of pages print off a list of occupations and skill-sets the Alliance needed to build the Crucible. The alien device that they hoped would be a weapon. Anderson saw the list print out all the way to the floor, he knew he’d be spending all day interviewing officers and the refugees in the camp. Thinking the same thing, Cadet Mathews offered to help.

“It would go faster if you delegated the work.” Mathews said.

“Good idea, go ahead and get started. I’m going to forward the information to the other Alliance bases.” Anderson said.

Mathews nodded and took the list with him out the door and marched towards the barracks housing the refugees.

Anderson then asked to be put in contact with Shepard. A moment later the connection was established.

“Admiral,” Shepard said. “It’s good to see you alive and in one piece.”

“Same here,” Anderson said. “Hackett told me about the Mars mission, primarily about the Crucible.”

Shepard could read the expression on Anderson’s face, “But?”

Anderson continued, “I get the feeling that there was something he wasn’t telling me. He was very, uncharacteristic. Something bothered him about that mission and I want to know what that is.”

“Cyborgs.” Shepard offered, “Cerberus is creating advanced bio-mechanical creatures made to look like ordinary people. Possibly with Reaper tech.”

The concern Anderson was feeling showed plainly on his face in the manifestation of a furrowed eyebrow. “We knew they were advancing towards this,” he said making sense of things. “I just hoped they wouldn’t be so blatantly stupid.”

“You think you’re worried, I’ve got one holed up in the AI core.” Shepard said.

Anderson was momentarily shocked, “I trust you’ll handle that with caution.”

“That only begins to describe it sir.”

Anderson wasn’t quite satisfied, “During the mission, did anything else stand out to you?”

“Yes,” Shepard said without hesitation, “but I haven’t figured out what.”

“Let me know, when you do.” Anderson gave a nod.

“I will sir.” Shepard said.

Anderson thought about the rest of the news Hackett had broken to him, “So I hear you’re headed into the thick of it?”

“To Palaven, yes sir.”

“Make sure you come back to give me that report.”

Shepard gave a nod.

***

 Later that night Cadet Mathews found himself relieved to be working in the Control Center coordinating the evacuations of the educated personnel from the ground to Admiral Hackett’s fleet in orbit. He’d spent all day reviewing the files on the officers stationed at Camp Rilea as well as those who came in last night. It was a welcome change from holding the barricades at the walls. The Reapers were continuing to attack the base from the ground at irregular intervals but never in large enough numbers to actually threaten the base. Still Mathews hated fighting on the lines and much rather appreciated the more intellectual assignments. He looked over from his data-pad at Anderson and General Whitaker. The two veterans of the Alliance, no, make that two heroes of the Alliance stood in front of him. They embodied everything he hoped to be as an officer in the service of humanity. It was a sight that he almost relished. If it weren’t for the circumstances that brought them together. The Reapers weren’t the only threat humanity had to face. As a knife from the shadows, Cerberus threatened to stab humanity in the back. The figurehead of Cerberus, known only as the Illusive Man, acted with a self righteous importance and the guise of knowing better than everyone else. These thoughts were in and out of the mind of Anderson all day but at this moment he was preoccupied. Too preoccupied to notice through the window the shadow of a Cerberus assassin vaulting over the camp wall. It also didn’t help, when the assassin peered through its scope towards Anderson, that Cadet Mathews chose that moment to converse with him.

“Admiral Sir.” Mathews addressed him.

“Yes, what is it?” Anderson replied.

“The revised list of civilians volunteering for the Crucible project.” Mathews handed it to him. Then his face cringed, “It is a volunteer effort isn’t it?

Anderson looked confused holding the datapad in one hand and a hot cup of coffee in the other. “I should hope so,” he said.

Mathews was relieved. “Good because I excluded the ones that declined,” he said.

“I hope you also excluded the deceased.” Anderson said.

Mathews eyes drew wide, “I’m sorry sir, it didn’t occur to me. It’s a rookie mistake, I’m sorry, I can fix that,” he said.

“I’m joking Cadet.” Anderson said laughing. “Good work.”

Just then, the dull sound of the generators powering the base hummed down and started to clank before coming to a complete halt.

“What was that?” Anderson said turning alerted and looking all around.

The room fell dark as the residual power in the lights dimmed slowly. The power to the base had been cut. The officers scrambled to their posts as the alarms on a second and isolated source of power blared seconds later. Then the red dot of a laser sight marked Anderson’s chest. Mathews who was standing next to him, reacted on instinct tackling Anderson to the ground. The sniper bullet broke through the window cracking the bullet-resistant glass. The Cerberus sniper, known as a ‘nemesis’, had used armor piercing rounds to take the shot.

“Are you alright sir?” Mathews asked.

“Yeah, I’m alright.” Anderson stated, keeping his head down. Then, looking Mathew’s in the eye he said, “I owe you one.”

The fighting outside was over in minutes. It was clear to Anderson that Cerberus hadn’t planned to assault the camp but rather send a small strike team of snipers, intending to deliver a message. A personal message to Anderson came in on camp’s loudspeaker “In response to the interference on Mars. Stay out of our way.” Said the voice. Anderson recognized it as the Illusive Man’s. Why the Illusive Man would make such a bold statement, confounded Anderson. It made no sense to draw such direct attention if he really intended to tell the Alliance to back off, he was doing the exact opposite. No, Anderson was sure that it was a personal show of strength. Or perhaps a distraction while something far more nefarious took place nearby. Maybe Cerberus stole Alliance intel from the base during the attack or planted a spy. Who knows. Right now the base was being evacuated and Anderson had only minutes to speak with General Whitaker,

“Where are we going to?”

Whitaker responded, “A handful of Reapers are gathering in London, we’ll be joining the fight there. The rest of the Reapers are splitting off from Earth and leaving the system. But I think they’ll be back.”

“I don’t like the sound of that at all.” Anderson said frankly, following the General onto the heliport.

While getting into the shuttle that was waiting for them Whitaker replied, “It does feel like the calm before the storm…” The door to the shuttle closed.

Anderson said, “No doubt about it, whatever they’re planning we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.”

[Chapter 2: Grissom Academy]

Navigation: Chapter 1: Resistance Earth, Chapter 2: Grissom AcademyChapter 3: A Knife in The DarkChapter 4: Smoke and ShadowsChapter 5: Cold RevelationChapter 6: London CryptChapter 7: Ghosts From Shadows PastChapter 8: SkyfallChapter 9: Apparatus DeusChapter 10: The Devil WithinChapter 11: Hades’ DogsChapter 12: TranshumanChapter 13: Phenomenon,  Chapter 14: AeonChapter 15: EndgamesChapter 16: FracturedChapter 17: Closing, Epilogue.

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