So, seeing as Enemy Within is apparently doing nothing to stoke the fires of this, and I've pretty much completely lost interest, here's the rest of the fic in outline form. Maybe the discussion about it will rekindle my interest, or maybe someone will take some of the ideas here and run with it. I'm spoilering it all out, so get your highlighting finger ready. The first two chunks are of the current chapter and the next, and as such they're fairly detailed scene-by-scene breakdowns. Then we've got broader general outlines for the "ME2 expy" and the Reaper War. Chapter 26: KEEP ASCENDING, RUN SMACK INTO GETH REPURPOSING C-SEC DEFENSES AGAINST THEM. HASTILY RE-ASSEMBLED BARRICADES AND HACKED TURRETS BACK PREPARED GETH FORCES. A PRIME, FOUR DESTROYERS AND SEVERAL TROOPERS. FIGHT ENSUES, HARD FOR THE SQUAD, AS RESTRICTED BY THE TERRAIN AS THEY ARE. TALI ABUSES THE FUCK OUT OF THE SPIDER AND CLOAK MODULES AND ENDS UP CARRYING THE DAY. KEEPS GOING, FINDS TWO COLOSSI STANDING SENTINEL OVER THE AREA, NO OTHER GETH. LEGION REPORTS UNLIKELY TO BE ABLE TO REPEAT HACKING OF COLOSSUS, SO SHEPARD HAS TO COME UP WITH NEW PLAN. WREX SUGGESTS JUST THROWING THEM AWAY WITH PSIONICS, MOVE THEM OUT OF GRAVITY WELL AND LET THEM DRIFT AT HIGH SPEED. SHEPARD TRIES, BUT THEY SOMEHOW MANAGE TO COUNTER, ONE OR BOTH CARRIES A SHORT-RANGE BUT MOBILE PSI DISRUPTOR AND PSIONICS CAN’T WORK. THE ATTEMPT GAVE AWAY THEIR POSITION AND BATTLE COMMENCES. SHIT GETS WRECKED AND MISSILES FLY EVERYWHERE, BUT IN THE END THE SQUAD EKES OUT A WIN. WITH COLOSSI DEAD, SQUAD NOW NEARLY UNDER SOVEREIGN’S TENTACLES, AND THE REAPER TAKES NOTICE. NAZARA CAN’T USE GUNS OR TOWER WILL EXPLODE, SO SQUAD HAS TO DODGE REAPER TENTACLES TRYING TO CRUSH THEM. THEN THE DESTROYERS SHOW UP. BIG CHAOTIC FIGHT DANCING BETWEEN THE CONSTANTLY MOVING AND ACTIVELY HOSTILE TERRAIN. LIARA PROVES INVALUABLE, BY SHIFTING NAZARA’S AIM, GRABBING PEOPLE WHO MOVED TOO FAR AND STARTED TO DRIFT OFF, ETC. FINALLY REACH COUNCIL CHAMBER AND HAVE TO FIGHT UP THE STAIRS TO REACH THE PETITIONING STAGE. SHEPARD NOTES XCOM BODIES ON THE FLOOR, RECOGNIZES JACOB, GETS MORE MAD. SQUAD PROCEEDS TO KILL ALL THE GETH AND THE COLOSSUS GUARDING THE CONTROL PANEL AND SHEPARD UPLOADS VIGIL’S PROGRAM. SHEPARD CALLS HACKETT, INFORMS HIM OF CONTROL OF THE SITUATION, ASKS WHAT THE FLEET NEEDS. SHEPARD INFORMED THAT RELAYS ARE LOCKED AND NO ONE CAN GET TO THE CITADEL, NEED TO GET THAT OPEN, AND THAT HACKETT WANTS AN OPEN FIRELANE ON SOVEREIGN. SHEPARD IMMEDIATELY UNLOCKS THE RELAYS AND OPENS THE CITADEL ARMS, REVEALING SOVEREIGN. XCOM/GETH JOINT FLEET COMES POURING IN LIKE BIG DAMN HEROES. Chapter 27: Chapter 27: Counterattack HACKETT POV - CITADEL OPENS TO REVEAL NAZARA, AND THE REAPER IMMEDIATELY DETACHES FROM THE CITADEL AND TURNS TOWARD XCOM SUPERCARRIERS. HACKETT ORDERS SHIPS TO DISGORGE THEIR ENTIRE COMPLEMENT THEN GET OUT OF THE FIGHT, BUT THE NEXT INSTANT, SOVEREIGN IS ENCASED IN THE MASS EFFECT AND BIOTIC CHARGES FROM THE CITADEL, SMASHING INTO THE YAMAGUCHI. BEFORE ANYONE CAN REACT, BEAMS START FLYING FROM THE REAPER’S TENTACLES AND ITS MAIN GUN GOES OFF STRAIGHT INTO THE HEART OF THE CARRIER, TEARING IT APART. HACKETT STUNNED BRIEFLY, BUT RALLIES GAMELY, SENDING THE BAKKER AND O’CONNELL OUT OF THE LINE OF FIRE AND COORDINATING FORCES TO DRIVE OFF THE REAPER FROM THE SWIFTLY DYING YAMAGUCHI. THE TENTACLES BREAK OFF THE ATTACK AND START THROWING BIOTICS AROUND, TRYING TO KEEP OTHER CARRIERS FROM FLEEING, BUT WAVES OF DRONES GET IN THE WAY AND LET THEM SLIP AWAY. ONCE THE CARRIERS ARE GONE, HUMANS DIVERT FULL ATTENTION TO DRIVING OFF THE REAPER. OVERSIZED/POWERED WARPS TEAR THROUGH TRUE GETH CAPITAL SHIPS, BARRIERS SOAK UP LUDICROUS AMOUNTS OF DAMAGE, ETC, ETC. THE PUSH FAILS, AND THE YAMAGUCHI DIES A PAINFUL DEATH AS IT IS TORN APART BY THE REAPER. MORALE DIPS, SHARPLY AND QUICKLY, BUT THEY STILL HAVE A WAR TO FIGHT. HACKETT STARTS RETALIATING, HITTING SOVEREIGN WITH EVERYTHING THEY’VE GOT WHILE THE TRUE GETH JOIN THE CDF IN FIGHTING THE HERETICS. SOVEREIGN BASICALLY JUST LAUGHS AT EVERYTHING THEY DO AND TURNS INTO A DEMENTED PING-PONG BALL THAT KEEPS BIOTIC CHARGING CAPITAL SHIPS TO PREVENT THE USE OF ANNIHILATOR CANNONS. SCIPIO POV - FLABBERGASTED BY SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE HUMAN FLEET, AND EVEN MORESO WHEN THE TRUE GETH SHOW UP AND START HELPING. IS CONTACTED BY OPTIMUS AND COORDINATES ACTIONS AGAINST HERETICS. SCIPIO IS GLAD TO LEAVE SOVEREIGN TO XCOM, FRANKLY TERRIFIED BY WHAT HE SEES THE REAPER PULLING OFF, NOT TO MENTION SINGLE-HANDEDLY HOLDING ITS OWN AGAINST AN ENTIRE FLEET FROM ONE OF, IF NOT THE MOST ADVANCED MILITARY FORCES IN THE GALAXY. BELEAGUERED CDF TAKES A STEP BACK AND FILLS SUPPORT ROLE FOR TRUE GETH AS THEY ENGAGE THE HERETICS. HACKETT POV - SOVEREIGN KEEPS BOUNCING AROUND, FIGHTERS STRUGGLE TO KEEP UP AND BIG GUNS CAN’T BE USED WITHOUT FRIENDLY FIRE. HACKETT FIGURES THE REAPER KNOWS IT CAN’T TANK ANNIHILATOR SHOTS AND IS USING THE ALLIED SHIPS AS PROTECTION AS IT WORKS ITS WAY TOWARD DESTROYING THE ARTILLERY SHIPS. SCIPIO POV - TRUE GETH VS HERETIC GETH WITH SOVEREIGN IN THE BACKGROUND, OCCASIONALLY ACCIDENTALLY INTERFERING WHEN A SHOT MISSES AN XCOM SHIP AND FORCES THINGS TO DIVERT. BASICALLY A STRAIGHT SLUGGING MATCH WHERE HERETICS HAVE SLIGHTLY BETTER TECHNOLOGY AND TRUE GETH HAVE THE NUMERIC ADVANTAGE. GOES BACK AND FORTH REPEATEDLY AS EACH SIDE SEIZES ON OPENINGS. HERETICS EXTEND JUST AS TURIAN FLEET ARRIVES. SCIPIO IMMEDIATELY SHARES TARGETING DATA AND FLAGS TRUE GETH AS FRIENDLIES, SUPPORT FLEET COMMANDER CONFUSED BY FRIENDLY GETH, BUT DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO WAIT FOR ANSWERS. BETWEEN TURIAN REINFORCEMENTS AND TRUE GETH, HERETICS CAN’T WIN AND START TO GO DOWN. SOVEREIGN INTERVENES IN GETH FIGHT, CHARGES RIGHT INTO THE MIDDLE AND DROPS A FUCK-HUGE SINGULARITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRUE GETH FORMATION, TAKING OUT HALF OF THE REMAINING CDF FORCES AT THE SAME TIME. EVERYONE SHOCKED INTO STUPEFIED AWE THAT LASTS UNTIL SOVEREIGN DESTROYS ANOTHER SHIP WITH ITS MAIN GUN. WHOLE FIGHT DESCENDS INTO CHAOS AND THE DEFENDERS ARE GETTING UTTERLY TROUNCED. HACKETT POV - NOTICES THAT SOVEREIGN STOPPED USING BIOTICS AFTER THE SINGULARITY, REALIZES THAT NOW’S THEIR ONLY CHANCE TO END THIS, REGARDLESS OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE. THEY CAN’T GIVE SOVEREIGN TIME TO RECOVER. OPENS A CHANNEL TO SCIPIO, TELLS HIM THAT IF HE WANTS TO LIVE, HE AND HIS FORCES WILL GET AS FAR AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN FROM SOVEREIGN, THEN ORDERS ALL SEVEN SURVIVING ANNIHILATORS TO OPEN FIRE ON SOVEREIGN, IGNORING ANY FRIENDLIES IN THE BLAST RADIUS. SCIPIO POV - ORDERS THE RETREAT FROM SOVEREIGN AT BEST SPEED. CDF, GETH AND SUPPORT FORCES FLEE AS FAST AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN FROM THE REAPER, BUT HE DOESN’T LET THEM GO. CHASES AFTER THEM AS FAST AS IT CAN WITH CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS. IS NEAR THE REMNANTS OF THE CDF WHEN THE ANNIHILATOR STRIKES HIT. MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS ENGULF THE AREA, FRYING EVERY SENSOR ON HIS SHIP. RADIATION TURNS ITS ARMOR TO SLAG AND THREATENS TO KILL EVERYONE ON BOARD, BUT SHIP MANAGES TO SURVIVE MOSTLY INTACT. SOME OF THE OTHER CDF BOATS AREN’T AS LUCKY. WHEN SENSORS RECOVER, SOVEREIGN HAS BEEN GUTTED AND IS COMPLETELY DEAD. FEAR, OF THE REAPERS AND OF THE HUMANS, SETTLES FIRMLY IN SCIPIO’S GUT. SOVEREIGN AUTOPSY REPORT ME2 expy: 27 ASC - 1 week after Sovereign's attack, Garrus Vakarian and Legion officially join XCOM as part of Shepard's team. Liara hired as Reaper researcher. Wrex returns to Tuchanka and Tali to Rannoch to prepare their people. Jack assigned to his squad. 27 ASC - 2 months after Sovereign's attack, Reaper research station alpha goes quiet. Shepard sent to investigate (news report on fleet troubles near Yahg homeworld), finds all researchers turned into husks, including Liara. Indoctrination gets #1 research priority. 28 ASC - 1 month later, cause of Indoctrination discovered, mitigating technologies introduced. No cure has been found, but it can be resisted. Use the completely uncontrollable Chryssalid neural patterns to create mind-shield-equivalents for Indoctrination. It is not perfect defense, but theoretically allows for constant exposure to a live Reaper for days before succumbing. 28 ASC – 4 months after Sovereign's attack, Tali calls for help, someone stirring up malcontents against Geth. Legion seconds request, reveals that Geth have been disappearing with no sign, wants to keep it quiet to prevent war between geth and quarians. Shepard agrees to come help. Squad heads to Rannoch, sees new Warpgate being built mostly by Geth to facilitate long-range travel/support. Once there, discovers that Daro'Xen responsible, using Reaper tech purchased from Collectors to enslave geth, ended up indoctrinated. Shepard trashes Daro’Xen’s research, explodes Reaper-tech. In the process, squad finds out that salarian STG backing Daro'Xen's research, put her in contact with Collectors. Very big WTF diplomacy moment. 28 ASC - 6 months after Sovereign's attack, attacks occur on human colonies. Similar in nature to Chryssalid bombardment. Biological terror weapons (husked Yahg and Collectors) are fired from an unknown craft in orbit that cannot be detected with Hyperwave Relay. Reports come in of some of these beings bursting with energy and acting as leaders. Population centers torched, industrial centers cleaned out. All humans and technology, including Elerium stores, taken. Use Zaeed Massani as POV character for attack. Human defensive measures skyrocket, Normandy assigned to join hunt for attackers (autopsies and extranet sources reveal them as Collectors). 28 ASC - Human/Council relations deteriorate, driven by general, if irrational, feeling amongst humanity of Council collaborating with Collectors due to lack of concrete aid and revealed STG plot. Riots and anti-alien protests break out, aliens living in Coalition space start getting lynched. Council/Udina private meeting, discuss very real fears that the Coalition populace will declare guerilla war on all aliens and just start murdering things. Everyone agrees this is very, very bad. Council starts taking the initiative in hunt for Collectors. Recalls all publicly acknowledged Spectres in Coalition space and transparently sends all information discovered on the Collectors to Coalition, wages a fierce hearts and minds campaign that starts to work. 28 ASC - Once it becomes clear relations are steadying and slowly recovering, Collector attack on Ardat-Yakshi monastery. Normandy nearby, makes it in time to disrupt attack. See example of Council plasma weaponry in orbit. Ship uses all of its energy to fuel the eezo it uses to create hyper-accelerated plasma ball that moves at FTL speeds. Upon leaving ME field, plasma immediately slows to c and sublimates into pure energy and Cherenkov radiation, functions much like Yamato cannon. Squad meets Samara, learns that human-asari parents almost always produce Ardat-Yakshi. Discovers that Ardat-Yakshi condition is caused by psionics when husked AY start absorbing Shepard’s psionics and turn it around on them. Psi-vampires, essentially. XCOM very, very concerned about it. 28 ASC – Small Batarian force raids human merchant vessels while Normandy nearby, leads Normandy straight to Collector ship. Collectors capture ship and lock it down with fancy tractor beam and psi disruptors. Squad has to go deactivate it all before they can get away. Collectors + Yahg husks are in the way, squad fights through it to controls. En route, stumbles across experiments on Collectors infusing Thorian DNA into Collectors, discovers link between Collectors and Protheans, and that modified Collectors near exact genetic match for Ethereals. Explosively disables tractor beam thing and has to run back to ship, psi disruptor still active so no portals can be used. 28 ASC - Batarians are a lead on Collectors. Squad hunts down pirates, finds Balak and grills him for answers about Collector origins. Batarian unhelpful and fanatically hateful, tries to use planted mines to take out the Carnifex along with himself. Shepard mauled in explosion. He's completely crippled, becomes quadraplegic and spine too damaged to take cybernetic replacements. 28 ASC - Collector Base location revealed from interrogation of captives and data captured from Collector ship. Hackett leads massive force through Omega-4 Relay to purge them. Boarding parties dispatched onto the ship to clear it out. Garrus in charge of the squad during operation. Discovers large cultures of Thorian samples in the base and psionic Collectors running around. Finds reactor and readies neutron purge. Clears out the base. 28 ASC – Collector Base yields Meld, a substance extracted and refined from organic tissue that allows for extreme genetic manipulation (implication that Proto-Ethereals used it to grant them their psionic powers, and as the seed for the other races), and ways to interface with Mass Relays. Successfully decouples relays from control of the Citadel. 29 ASC - Shepard volunteers to become first MEC trooper. Reaper War: There's parts of this one I'm not entirely happy with (specifically, the bits with the Krogan) and they very likely would have changed before I wrote them, but I haven't come up with anything better to this point. 29 ASC - The Reapers arrive through the Alpha Relay. Batarian Remnants are utterly crushed. 29 ASC - Reapers move on the Citadel. Second Battle of the Citadel lasts two hours, total defeat for defenders. Entire Citadel Defense Fleet, including Destiny Ascension, destroyed utterly. Asari and Salarian Councillors fled instant Reaper reports arrived. Sparatus remained to coordinate evacuation. Udina forcibly evacuates Sparatus to personal shuttle at last minute. Both die in escape attempt. 29 ASC – Reapers attack Coalition fringe worlds, starts harvesting them. Coalition activates failsafe in Mindoir relay, destroys it and wipes out the system, along with dozens of Reapers. 29 ASC – Reaper attention firmly on Coalition space, all known relay links into Coalition space get exploded, force Reapers to take long route. 29 ASC- Coalition uses warpgate in Geth space to get around cut-off. Shepard helps geth and quarians secure their space. Have to force both forces to cooperate, builds mutual trust by killing Reapers. Geth, quarian and Coalition scientists cooperate to devise a way to capture a live Reaper. Geth + indoctrination shields make interrogation viable prospect. 29 ASC – Shepard and team, including Tali, dispatched to lure Reapers into trap, board one and “knock it out”. Mission succeeds, Reaper Destroyer disabled and interrogated. Reveals details about supermassive eezo core in every Reaper. Using the revealed info, the core can be turned against Reapers. Coalition and geth collaborate to produce a device, a missile. If device penetrates Reaper hull, it can cause element zero to collapse on itself and form a singularity. Reaper cores implode them. 29 ASC – Shepard and Normandy only unit XCOM can spare from Coalition defense. Ordered to take design to Palaven. Demonstrates first successful use of the missile on Sovereign-class Reaper. Reapers don’t understand, flee. Turian navy regroups and gets designs from Shepard, starts mass producing missiles. Only missing Elerium cores. 29 ASC – Samara contacts Shepard, shares knowledge of potentially war-changing Prothean artifacts on Thessia. Shepard and co immediately set out. Land on Thessia, fight to Temple alongside asari. Discover that Asari were Protheans first attempts at creating psionics, before performing the experiments on themselves. Reapers catch on to reason for Shepard's presence, decide to fuck everything and just start glassing the planet from orbit. Shepard and co barely make it out, unable to salvage anything meaningful for the Reaper fight. 29 ASC – Surviving governments get together, form Galactic Alliance. Decide to give a big fuck you to Reapers and take Citadel back. Anti-Reaper missile highly effective, Reaper forces are broken, lose dozens. Harbinger pissed. 29 ASC - Reapers use indoctrinated sleeper agents to release delayed-acting, airborne huskification plague - nanites that infest a host, wait a week then convert the subject into a husk in a matter of hours. Core human planets start succumbing and everyone scrambles for a cure. 29 ASC – Reapers launch surprise attack on Earth (armed with Reaper-scale Blackstar?). Geth, quarian and human forces vs Reapers. Massive space battle, lots of people on both sides explode. Reapers ultimately driven off thanks to rachni reinforcements, but most of Earth is torched. XCOM shrugs it off. ‘It’s just a planet’ 29 ASC – Forces regroup and realize they need to find out where Harbinger is hiding. Idea: interrogate a Sovereign-class Reaper. Problem: Suicide mission. Solution: Send Shepard. Problem #2: Need a lone Sovereign-class to isolate and capture. Solution: Use the krogan as bait to lure it in. Not enough spaceships, the Reapers won’t bother sending more than one. 29 ASC – Shepard contacts Wrex, tries to recruit krogan. Wrex agrees on condition of genophage cure. Shepard fumes but agrees when Wrex says it already exists. Wrex points Shepard to Sur’Kesh, to meet Mordin Solus. 29 ASC – Shepard meets Mordin, arranges to distribute genophage cure. Cure is distributed via Shroud on Tuchanka. Normandy gets sighted by Destroyer class Reaper, calls in Sovereign-class backup. Trap is baited. Sovereign-class Reaper arrives, trap is sprung. Destroyer escort destroyed quickly, Shepard boards Sovereign-class. Fights through husks and indoctrination to disable the Reaper. 29 ASC – Sovereign-class Interrogation reveals Harbinger is first, oldest and leader of the Reapers. Harbinger moves around a lot, but has a specific base of operations set up in ex-Batarian space, near Alpha Relay, and that he is currently being refitted and expected to last for another week. 29 ASC – Allied forces get together and launch diversionary attack, Hackett and co fake stumbling across base and distracts defenses while Normandy infiltrates base. Shepard and co fight their way to base and use controls to self-destruct Alpha Relay and wipe out entire system. No one makes it out alive. Entire Reaper force falls into disarray, reverts to animalistic behavior. Dangerous, but not deadly. 29 ASC – Epilogue. Krogan recovering, Wrex’s influence moderates their culture. Warriors’ respect keeps them honest. Turians recovering. Lowest damage of any surviving force. Asari forced to move on from Thessia, the world unable to support life any longer. Salarians alive and rebuilding, but hurt. Geth and quarians patched up their differences and are rebuilding Rannoch, living in peace. Humans alive, badly hurt, but alive. New era of galactic peace; can’t fight genocidal monsters without coming to trust each other. All races part of Alliance destroy the Citadel and build a new central hub of government. A symbol of the new era. Call it Alliance Station. Cut to black.