The lights are on
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morning Mr. Fletcher," rang the gentle voice of Mike Fletcher's VI
program. Mike winced as the lights in
his bunk turned on and he raised his arm to shield his eyes from the bright
lights emanating from the ceiling of his bunk.
"Welcome to your 892nd day on the Atlas Station," the VI
continued The time is 0700. Breakfast will be served at 0730 in the mess
hall. You have a meeting scheduled for
1030 at Conference Room 2A to discuss the proposed budget for next
quarter. Additionally, the profit and
loss statements from the Coleman Project are due at 1500 this afternoon."
morning to you too," Mike grumbled as he pulled off the covers of his bed
and threw them on the floor. He could
feel the start of a hangover pushing out from the front of his head. "Remind me not to go drinking on nights
before I work," he grumbled to the VI.
He grabbed a few aspirin from inside his nightstand and crushed them in
his mouth then walked over to his closet to pull out his uniform for the day. It was a plain gray jumpsuit with his name
and position of accountant stitched above the upper right breast pocket. He then grabbed his briefcase from under his
bed and walked out the door.
a pleasant day Mr. Fletcher," chimed the VI as he walked out. "And don't forget to not drink tonight
since tomorrow is another workday."
his way to the mess hall where the selection was some goop they called oatmeal
and some other goop that a sign claimed was scrambled eggs. After careful consideration Mike decided to
take his chances with the oatmeal gloop.
He found a seat next to his friend from the military wing Greg
Mikey! Glad to see you survived last
night in one piece," his friend greeted him.
thanks to you. I can't remember anything
that happened after you bought me that third round," Mike replied.
you don't remember asking Amy Steele out to dinner then?"
"Yeah. Right." Mike replied sarcastically as he
shoved a forkful of oatmeal gloop into his mouth. When he saw that the expression on his
friend's face was still serious he dropped his spoon and covered his face with
his palm. "Oh crap. Please tell me I didn't"
did and that's not all. She must have been
even more drunk than you. Believe it or not she actually said yes."
"Fantastic. Now I have a date planned with a woman who
I've never met before and know nothing about.
What would we talk about? What would
I wear? Where would I even take
don't worry about that," Greg replied with a wicked grin on his face.
" You managed to puke on her shoes after she said yes so I doubt she's
still interested in that date."
mumbled Mike as he picked up his spoon to resume eating. I would find a way to ruin a date before it
even started." Mike gloomily
resumed eating. He decided he should probably try to change the subject of the
conversation away from where it was going.
"So how are things in the military wing going?"
in reply. "I guess you've heard
about that new human Spectre?"
"Who, Shepherd? He's been all over the news recently. Of course I've heard of him. Why?"
in closer to avoid neighboring tables from listening to their
conversation. "Don't spread this
around but word from the Illusive Man is that he's someone we should be
watching out for. Apparently, he's got
some kind of beef with Cerberus. He's
been targeting some of our more high profile bases and slaughtering everyone
aboard. They're ramping up security
forces here on the base in case he decides to make a stop here."
a little hard to believe. You can't tell
me that he can just enter a base without authorization and start murdering
people just because he feels like it."
a Specter Mikey, he can do whatever the hell he wants and no one is going to
say no to him. Those guys have virtually
limitless authority. He's got the
authorization from the council and from Earth to basically run around and do
whatever he thinks he needs to in order to protect the galaxy"
then why would he go after Cerberus? Aren't
there more important things that a Specter would need to be taking care
me. All I know is what the rumors say
and apparently this guy is an unstoppable machine. No one has even come close to taking him
down. Some reports describe him as
paragon of justice and others as a heartless renegade but either way he's
proving to be a thorn in the Illusive Man's side."
wouldn't mind him showing up today. I've
got a budget proposal meeting in about two hours and my day only gets worse
laughed in response. "If he does
show up we'll keep your ass safe to sit in as many budget meetings as it can
the rest of the day trying to concentrate on his meetings and paperwork but his
mind kept drifting to Amy Steele. Life
on a Cerberus base left little time for romance and Mike hadn't been on a real
date in 2 years. He had only gone
drinking on Greg's insistence that he try to take a break from his work by
taking a shuttle to the nearby colony of Delta IV. It had felt good to let loose, especially
considering how regimented life on Cerberus could be and it hadn't taken Mike
long to overdue it.
remembered meeting Amy at the third bar they had stopped at. She was a scientist working in one of the
many genetics labs on the base. Mike
knew very little about what kind of work was done in those labs but he knew
from looking at their balance sheets that they had a hard time turning a
profit. He had been curious what sort of research they were doing for some
time, especially considering the sort of resources the Illusive Man seemed
comfortable pumping into them. He
imagined that he had started to talk to Amy for that reason and that somehow it
had ended with him getting rejected and Amy getting puke on her shoes.
hadn't actually said that she had turned down the date, had he? It was possible that she would be expecting
him later tonight, that she might even be looking forward to meeting him. If that was the case he had no way of knowing
where or when he should meet her. It was
foolish of him to get his hopes up that this might turn into anything more than
a drunken conversation at a bar.
He tried to
lose his thoughts in his work but it seemed like the harder he tried to
concentrate on what he needed to do the more his mind wanted to wander. He tried to think of ways to send a message
to her but his mind kept drawing a blank.
He tried desperately to remember any of their conversation from the
previous night but he couldn't even remember talking to her.
Greg was just making the whole thing up," he muttered under his breath. "I'm such an idiot."
you are." a woman's voice called from behind him. He spun around and gasped at the sight of a
petite woman with short brown hair who had snuck up behind him. "Sorry to surprise you," she
continued with a smile. "I just had
to come visit the world famous accountant, Mike Fletcher. At least that's what you were calling
yourself yesterday. Your cubicle doesn't
look very world-famousy to me."
he stuttered while blushing at the same time.
"How did you find where I work?"
mentioned it about 500 times right before you ruined my best pair of
shoes. Lucky for me I remembered where it was so I
can make you buy me a new pair. "
sheepishly at the ground and somehow managed to blush an even redder
shade. "I-I-I'm sorry, Amy. I'm not usually like that."
you're not usually a raving drunk lunatic?" she asked. "That's good to know I'll make a mental
note of that if I ever run into you again."
himself starting to blush and turned away from Amy. He had never felt so embarrassed in his
life. He struggled to come up with
something to say in response to her.
This wasn't at all how he imagined meeting her would be like.
probably wondering why I bothered coming out here," she continued on
ignoring his ever-reddening face. "And
to be honest with you I almost didn't.
The truth is..."
could finish her sentence alarms began to blare around them. The lights in the ceiling began flashing and
a deafening blare could be heard over the intercom. A loud voice began a looping monotonous announcement
overtop of the alarm.
Cerberus personnel! Begin evacuation
protocol 32C! This is not a drill! All personnel must proceed to the nearest
emergency exit! Leave your personal
belongings and move quickly to the nearest exit!"
Amy simply stared at each other, neither able to fully process the situation
around them. The sound of his fellow
coworkers running around him snapped Mike to attention and brought him out of
on," he instructed Amy grabbing her lightly by the wrist. "I know the way to the exit. We better move fast."
going on? Why are they wanting us to
evacuate?" She asked as he lead her out of his cubicle and into the main
hallway of his office complex.
don't know but whatever it is, it must be bad, and I don't think we want to
stick around to find out what it is."
He thought back to his conversation with Greg at breakfast. He wondered if the illustrious Commander
Sheppard had decided to pay a visit to their base.
He lead her
out of the office and into the main hallway on which the accounting department
was located. The hallway was full of
screaming people and the smell of smoke and death was in the air. At the fair end of the hallway stood an
imposing Turian in full body armor, wielding an automatic rifle. He saw the bodies of several security
officers lying on the ground, who had clearly been peppered with bullets. He heard Amy scream and felt her start to
collapse in his arms.
up! We have to move!" he yelled at
her above the roar of screaming people.
He watched in horror as the Turian raised its rifle, prepared to open
fire on the group. He saw the visor
above its left eye light up above its light blue skin. He felt sure at that moment that he was going
to die in this bizarre situation, gunned down by an imposing alien invador.
heard a thud behind him and the hallway began to fill up with smoke. He heard the sound of heavy footsteps from
behind him and a voice screamed at everyone to get on the floor. Mike complied and pushed Amy down on her
stomach. The smoke stung at his eyes and
he accidentally inhaled some forcing him into a coughing fit. It was a small price to pay for protection
and the knowledge that the Turian wouldn't be able to see them in the smoke.
the sounds of gunfire in the air above him and he thought he heard the Turian
retreating. Slowly, the thick smoke
began to dissipate and Mike realized that they were surrounded by several
Cerberus agents in heavy armor. "Hallway
secure but we lost Vakarian," he heard one of the agents radio to
someone. Another agent reached down to
offer him and Amy a hand up. Once they
were up the agent opened his visor to reveal the face of his friend Greg.
well, well, look who got a date after all," laughed Greg nervously. Mike couldn't help but see the stress and
worry on his friends face even though he was clearly trying hard not to show it.
the hell is going on?" he asked.
"Is it Shepherd?"
"Yeah. He hit us hard too. We lost all of the first platoon within the
first few minutes of the attack. Our
orders are to stop him from reaching the research labs at all cost but we're
also trying to direct as many people to the escape pods as we can."
did the Turian come from then?" Amy asked.
Mike was relieved to see that she appeared to be regaining some of her
composure although the shock of the events occurring around them was still very
much visible in her eyes.
Shepherd isn't hitting these bases alone.
He's assembled a crew of some of the most deadly aliens the galaxy has
ever seen. The Turian is a known
associate of his, a former C-Sec officer on the citadel named Garrus Vakarian."
said Amy. "Please tell me he
doesn't have a Krogen with him too."
The look on
Greg's face wasn't an encouraging answer.
"What's important is we need to get the group of you to the escape
pods," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone. Let me talk to my group leader and see what I
can do." He walked over to another
fearsome looking soldier and then waved the group of civilians over to him. Mike took a second to take an inventory of
the people around him. Most were either
crying or shivering or both. If
Commander Shepherd and his crew were as deadly as they sounded it was unlikely
that many of them would make it off this station alive.
everyone listen up," Greg yelled at the group while shifting his helmet to
his other hand. "Our station has
been breached by a hostile force. We are
moving to stop this hostile force from destroying us but as a precaution we
will need to evacuate you. Gomez and I
are going to lead everyone here to the escape pods. I realize this is a difficult situation for
everyone but we will make it through this as long as everyone stays calm. We will be moving quickly but we need to stay
together and above all else avoid panicking."
proclamation seemed to wake everyone up and as a group they begin to file
behind the two soldiers who began to take off down the hallway in the opposite
direction from where the Turian had ran off.
Mike and Amy found themselves joining the group and started navigating
their way down a series of tight hallways.
The group was remarkably silent, the idea of having a goal seemed to
have given everyone something to focus on beyond the tragedy that was occurring
around them. Mike and Amy pushed near to
the front of the crowd.
could this happen?" Mike asked Greg
as they turned down another hallway.
"I thought you said that we were prepared for this kind of an
responded with a disappointed look.
"Turns out, there's no preparing for this Commander Shepherd. His ship must have stealth drives like we've
never seen before. We never picked him
up on our scanners until he was practically boarding us."
one guy with a couple of ugly aliens tagging along right? How could he take down a whole army of
not going to, Mikey. There's still
plenty of us around to take care of him, and I guarantee you we will. Commander Shepherd isn't getting off this
what about us?" thought Mike. "How many of us will make it off alive?
they were in emptied into the mess hall where Mike and Greg had eaten breakfast
earlier that day. Mike was struck with
how desolate and empty the room looked with no one in it. Trays were scattered around the room and bits
of food remained abandoned by those who had rushed out at the sound of the
alarm. He heard a clattering noise on
the catwalk above him and tilted his head upwards to catch sight of a
blue-skinned Asari running across it.
She caught sight of the group below her and turned to them raising her
fist in the air.
down!" screamed Greg as a strange form of blue energy seemed to emanate
from her hand. Mike instinctively
grabbed Amy and pushed her to the floor as the blue energy traveled in a
straight path towards them. Suddenly it
seemed to stop in mid-air and then it dissipated in a puff of smoke. For a second Mike thought that everything
would be okay.
strange vortex appeared where the energy had dissipated. The vortex hung in the air silently pulling
everything in the room towards it. Bodies
around him began to fly in the air, spinning uncontrollably towards the
vortex. Mike listened in horror to the
sounds of gunfire penetrating the bodies of the people around him. He couldn't help but hear the countless
screams of those around him as their lives ended. Most of all, he felt Amy in his arms. She had managed to remain composed to this
point but now she was shrieking uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face.
suddenly that he had been fortunate to be far enough away from the singularity
to avoid being pulled towards it. Still
guiding Amy he pulled her underneath one of the nearby cafeteria tables. He put a hand over Amy's mouth in the hopes
that the Asari above them wouldn't hear her alternating screams and sobs. They sat together for what felt like hours
underneath the table, huddled together listening to the sounds of dozens of
people dying around them. Finally, the
gunfire stopped and he heard the sound of footsteps on the catwalk again, this
time walking away from the cafeteria. The
danger had passed.
several minutes before either one of them had the courage to crawl out from
under the table and survey the damage.
Amy was the first to move and Mike followed her out hoping beyond hope
that they wouldn't be the only ones who had survived the massacre. He was greeted by the smell of blood and
gunfire and the sight of the dead corpses of everyone he had just traveled
with. He raised a hand to his mouth as
he realized that two of the bodies were wearing body armor.
dead," Mike stated in a weary, shocked tone. "They're all dead."
Amy turned around, reared her arm back and slapped him hard on the face. He hardly felt the blow. He hardly felt anything at all. It took him a few seconds to register the
pain on his cheek and he simply responded by giving her a quizzical look.
is all your fault!" she screamed at him through tears. "If I had never met you last night, I
never would have come over here to see you!"
right," he replied in the same monotone.
"You're right and I'm sorry Amy.
I'm sorry for what's happening right now. I'm sorry that everyone's dying around us and
the stations is falling apart."
sorry?!" she screamed incredulously.
"I'm going to die on this stupid station and all you can say is
that you're sorry? Well point me to the
nearest escape pod because I intend to get as far away from this place and from
you before I get shot to pieces like everyone else!"
raised a glimmer of hope in the back of Mike's brain. The escape pods! He had forgotten where they were headed in
all the confusion.
right down the corridor on the other side of the mess hall. We were almost there before that Asari
attacked. Here, follow me."
He took off
for the far door and she marched dutifully behind him.
didn't ask for any of this you know," he said to her.
know. I'm sorry for hitting you. You didn't deserve that."
a glimpse of the row of escape pods ahead and began to jog towards them.
guess you finally got your revenge from me puking on your shoes," he
quipped. She laughed in response. Mike was reminded of what a cute laugh she had.
wasn't that upset about you puking on me.
In fact to be honest I thought you were kind of interesting when I met
interesting?" he asked as they reached the door of an unopened escape pod.
to be honest I didn't come down her just to tease you about last night. I wanted to see if..."
could finish her sentence Mike turned to her and noticed a red dot appear on
the side of her head. Before he could
say or do anything he heard the "thomp" of a bullet ejecting from a
gun, probably a sniper rifle, and watched Amy's head explode in a pile of red
goo. Her body slumped on the ground in a
tangle as blood flew everywhere, covering Mike from head to toe.
up in horror and saw a human male dressed in black armor. A red N7 logo graced
the arm of the soldier's outfir. The man
was holding a large sniper rifle and appeared to be reloading it for another
round. Before the man could finish
loading Mike quickly grabbed for the handle of the pod, but his hand was thick
with sweat and slipped on it. He reached
for it again and turned the handle just enough to sneak inside. He quickly closed the door behind him and he
heard the sound of a second bullet ricochet off the door. Moving
on instinct alone he reached for the long handle located on the side wall of
the pod and pulled it down releasing the pod from the ship.
As he began
to freefall away he collapsed on the ground in a heap, tears streaming down his
you Shepherd!" he screamed,
pounding his fist against the wall of the pod.
"It wasn't enough to kill my co-workers and my best friend, you had
to take her too, didn't you?!" he screamed aloud to no one.
thoughts began to race as he plummeted away through space. He thought about the man in the dark N7 armor
who he had seen for just a few seconds. He
thought about his best friend lying dead in the same mess hall where they had
eaten together earlier that day. He
thought about the girl he had barely known at the start of the day who now lay
dead in front of the escape pods because of him.
Most of all
he cried. He buried his face in his
hands and cried uncontrollably for what felt like hours. Eventually he cried himself to sleep where he
dreamed of himself killing Commander Shepherd in retribution. It was a good dream.
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