Renegade: A Mass Effect/Command and Conquer Crossover Chapter 1: Gateway (Part 1) The sky overhead was streaked with smoke and fire, and the tracers of large-scale mass accelerator and railgun fire ripped through the air, accompanied by missiles. Rivers of illuminated ammunition – tracers and modified ammunition types – cut through the sky. In the distance, she could hear the crack, roar, and thunder of artillery fire, both missile and solid round. Smoke billowed out of the house-sized tank, rising up into her faceplate as she crouched behind the turret. The tank burned, the heat masking her from enemy sensors. She fumbled with the rifle, trying to get the scrambled targeting system back up and working before the enemy could locate and close in on her. Mass accelerator rounds ripped past, skipping off or shattering against the tank’s armor plating, but the fire was suppressive, not aimed. The batarians didn’t know where she was, or even how many troops she had under her command. That was good, because the total amounted to zero. First Lieutenant Shepard got the scrambled scope and targeting system back to functionality, and shouldered the assault rifle. On her helmet’s display, she saw dozens of element zero masses as enemy soldiers advanced, kinetic barriers rising up. She watched them advance down the street, between the looming buildings of Elysium City, capital of one of humanity’s biggest colony worlds. The perimeter security walls had been breached in the initial assault, when the batarian slaver fleet had bombarded the city’s automated defense towers from orbit. A company-strength force of men, totaling at about one hundred and sixty men and women with armor support, had attempted to secure the streets leading to the breach. For their efforts, they’d been wiped out in a steady barrage of orbital, artillery, and armor bombardment. They’d given their lives at a high cost, but the batarians had pounded the defense to tatters, and now was sending in their infantry to secure the approach. Shepard peered over the tank’s turret, and saw both of the deformed cannons extending from the massive vehicle’s turret. The top of the tank had been gutted by overhead fire – even with the improved topside armor, the shot had cut clean through the plating. The crew inside had burned alive as they’d fought to keep the tank operational to hold the street. Debris choked the avenue, ruined vehicles and piled chunks of building cutting off access routes for ground vehicles, but providing perfect cover for an infantry advance. More mass accelerator rounds began to hammer the tank. A rocket-grenade exploded on the far side, followed by a couple of glowing pulses of energy – anti-personnel shots from enemy shotguns and their attached particle grenade launchers. The volume of fire continued to grow, and Shepard knew they’d either spotted her, or guessed she might use the tank as a good firing position. She dropped down beside the tank, crouching and keeping out of the line of fire. A burst of rounds stitched pockmarks across the tank’s flank, cutting a swath across the swooping golden eagle emblem painted on the massive vehicle’s track guards. Shepard looked up at the destroyed Mammoth Tank – one of the most potent and symbolic tools of the Global Defense Initiative’s arsenal. Shepard dashed to the nearest safe cover, which was in the inner security wall of this section of the city. It had been locked down when the batarian slavers had arrived in orbit, and most of the population of the city had withdrawn inside the security walls’ protection. The breach was the entire reason the aliens were pushing so hard at this point in the city’s defenses. Now, the gaping, ten-meter-wide breach in the wall was the only place Shepard could take cover The gray-brown armor she wore concealed her from visual tracking, but she knew she was likely going to be spotted due to her suit’s element zero core. True enough, incoming fire picked up, slashing down the street toward her as she ran. Shepard gritted her teeth and ducked low, duck-walking behind wrecked cars and through orbitally-blasted craters. A rocket detonated a few meters away. Mass accelerator rounds smashed into the debris on all sides, while armor-piercing rounds lanced straight through the concrete and thin metal of destroyed vehicles. Shepard saw the breach in the security wall thirty meters away, but running there on foot meant it might as well have been a kilometer, with the incoming fire she was facing. Instead, she activated the flat, briefcase-sized backpack mounted on the rear of her armor. Light flared at the rear of the backpack as the mass effect field lightened her body and let the miniature thrusters on the jump pack propel her into the air. Shepard fed power to the jump pack, and it launched her up off the shattered street and toward the breach far faster than her legs could have carried her. A storm of fire flew toward Shepard as she jetted across the thirty meters to safety, but the batarian invaders hadn’t been expecting her to engage her jump pack, which bought the Lieutenant a valuable couple of seconds. Her suit’s shields flared as rounds skipped off it regardless, and the helmet beeped insistently to warn her the shield battery was being rapidly depleted. The ground rushed up toward Shepard, and she swung her feet in front of her body. The mass effect field intensified, further reducing her mass for a valuable heartbeat, while the thrusters cut out. She hit the ground inside the breach and dropped behind cover, disengaging the field and returning to normal mass as she spun toward the direction the batarians were approaching. There were more than a hundred enemy troops incoming, advancing up the street by fireteams. There were too many for her to take on, and if they turned their artillery against her, she wouldn’t last a heartbeat. If the enemy breached this position, though, they would flood through the gap, and with the local garrison fighting on the other points at the perimeter, the civilians of Elysium would be helpless against the slavers. Mindoir. It'll be Mindoir all over again. The memories of that moment lanced into her brain, setting her thoughts ablaze with hate and fury. Shepard made the decision. She rose, shouldered the rifle, and held the line when all else was lost. So long as she still breathed, Elysium would not become another Mindoir. - The first thing she felt as she regained consciousness was agony. Pain rolled through Shepard’s temples, and she groaned while opening her eyes. Sensations came to her dimly, distant and unclear. She recognized she was lying on her back, and the pliable, soft-yet-uncomfortable nature of the cushion she laid on told her it was an infirmary bed. She could hear the quiet hum of working machinery, along with the vibrations that only came from a vessel in motion – tinged with that unique timbre associated with mass effect drives. The sensation of air over her bare skin told her that he’d been stripped down to her underwear. The room was dark. Not to the point where she couldn’t see, but she had to focus for a moment before she could make anything out. The light was dim, with a faint reddish tint to it. Shepard closed her eyes, taking inventory of the pains across her body to figure out where she’d been hurt the worst, and quickly decided that said definition included “everywhere.” Next, she tried to remember what had happened before she’d passed out. Another surge of batarian soldiers attempting to rush her position, the third that hour, ignoring the pile of their dead fellows she’d left. They scrambled under covering fire, weapons barking, and she gunned them down one by one. Once had gotten close, and as the alien had reached her, Shepard’s body had surged with electricity and swirling dark energy, and she’d temporarily rewritten the laws of physics. The nodes of element zero in her body had interacted with the implant at the base of her neck, was boosted by the circuitry in her armor, and Shepard sent a pulse of explosive gravity into the alien’s chest and head. It snapped back grotesquely and went flying away, and then the world turned white as something boiled the street only a few meters away, and then there was pain and whiteness. Shepard opened her eyes again, and glanced around the room. It looked like an infirmary, a standard military-esque facility, consisting of a long room with beds lining one wall, each of them partially recessed into the wall, where scanners would no doubt be able to analyze the brain and upper body more effectively. Medical machinery stood beside each of the beds, and the walls were lined with lockers and storage containers for other gear. It resembled every shipboard infirmary she’d ever had the pleasure of waking up inside, with one exception: The standard, faintly blue-gray lighting of a GDI military vessel was replaced by that faintly rosy lighting she’d noted earlier. She heard the hissing of a sliding door, and Shepard looked up, to see a tall, limber woman walk into the room. Correction: she wasn’t walking so much as prowling, her body moving with a feline grace that seemed to come completely naturally to her. She had pale but clear skin, long black hair that came down to the top of her chest, and a black suit that only needed to be a size smaller to count as skintight. “Lieutenant Shepard,” she said, accent tinged by what she guessed was Australian. “Good to see you’re awake. We don’t have much time.” She had appealing features and large blue eyes, and it took Shepard a moment’s concentration to not be distracted by them. “You have me at a disadvantage,” Shepard said through the pain. She shook her head, but that was a bad idea, as it brought more headaches. “You can call me Miranda,” the woman replied. “No rank, so don’t worry about that.” “How bad was I hurt?” she asked, getting to most pertinent questions. “Concussion, some lacerations, shrapnel wounds, fourteen mass accelerator rounds imbedded at various points in your body, some hemorrhaging in the lungs, three broken bones, and you bit your tongue so hard you nearly choked on your own blood,” Miranda rattled off. “Nothing some medigel and a couple hours in an autosurgeon couldn’t fix.” “What happened on Elysium?” Shepard asked, after that had sunk in. “The batarians achieved breakthrough and invaded the city,” Miranda replied, walking across the room toward her. She noted Miranda was armed with what looked like a machine pistol on her hip. “We estimate they managed to make off with perhaps ten thousand civilians before we managed to intervene and drive them off.” A sinking feeling ran through Shepard as she heard her words, and it took her a moment to process the entire thing. A deep, wracking pain slashed through her, along with a realization that she’d failed that promise she’d made to hold the line. “No, don’t blame yourself,” Miranda said quickly, reading her features. “It was no fault of your own. The batarians bombed every approach into the city, and killed practically the entire GDI garrison before they breached the walls. Your position held out the longest, right up until help arrived.” “GDI?” Shepard asked. The other woman shook her head. “The nearest GDI relief fleet is still a day away,” Miranda said. “We saved the colony instead.” Shepard blinked, then closed her eyes, brain whirling. The Global Defense Initiative was the ruling body over every human colony in the Skyllian Verge and the Attican Traverse, a direct result of the fact that it was the de facto world government on Earth for more than a century. The concept of individual nations had vanished following the ecological apocalypse brought about by Tiberium in the late 1990’s, with the Global Defense Initiative becoming the effective world government in the 2030’s. It had stayed that way through two more world wars and the First Contact War with the Scrin, right up through the discovery of the Prothean ruins on Mars, the development of mass effect technology from said ruins, the discovery of the Charon Mass Relay, and the subsequent Shanxi War with the Turian Hierarchy and the opening of diplomatic relations with the Citadel. GDI’s military and political dominance had been near-absolute, and though the organization was democratically elected and run, there was a major religious undercurrent and opposition force, which had been behind more than fifty years of constant world war followed by another hundred and thirty years of sporadic terror attacks. However, they hadn’t had any military capability since their leader had been killed at the end of the Third Tiberian War. “Had” was the key word, as she put together the pieces. “We,” Shepard said, “meaning the Brotherhood of Nod.” “Clever woman,” Miranda replied, giving her a ghost of a smile. “Why would Nod care about a GDI colony?” Shepard asked, pointedly avoiding a much more pertinent and much more troubling question: where the hell had the Brotherhood of Nod gotten military warships? Nod hadn’t had a regular military since the 2050’s. “We care about humanity, Shepard,” Miranda replied. “GDI, Nod, Forgotten, independent, it doesn’t matter. Elysium is a human world, and if GDI can’t protect it, we will.” Shepard exhaled and tried to stand. “Why’d you bring me here?” she asked. “Because your particular talents may prove useful,” Miranda replied. “We tried to save as many civilians as we could, but the batarians made off with a large transport full of humans. Most of the troops defending the city are dead.” “What talents?” Shepard asked, frowning. “Aside from the fact that you’re a survivor of GDI’s Commando Training Program, have above-average biotic talents, and managed to hold off about five hundred batarians with a rifle and shouted profanity?” Miranda asked, her tone sarcastic and amused. “I don’t know myself. Might be that particularly impressive scar you’ve got.” Shepard's eyes snapped up, and a spike of raw, agonizing hatred ran through her. Miranda stared back, not speaking for a moment, and then took a single step backward. "My apologies," she said quietly. "I shouldn't have brought that up. I know the....memory of Akuze can't be pleasant." Shepard scowled and nodded. She closed her eyes and fought back the memory of where she'd gotten her facial scars from, before opening them. She gestured to the far wall. "We're on a ship and moving," she said, the words slow and controlled. "Since I'm not a prisoner, I guess you need me for something pressing." “Correct,” Miranda replied. “The batarian slavers retreated as soon as we arrived at the planet and destroyed their fleet. Most of their ships were ramshackle pirate vessels anyway, not true warships. The remainder, including the transport carrying the captured civilians, went to a system about twelve hours from Elysium, at cruising distance. The pirates are apparently staying over for drive discharge and repairs.” “GDI won’t arrive in time to find them and free the slaves,” Shepard said, and Miranda nodded. That ghost of a smile returned. “We, however, are two hours away and cruising at full speed,” she said. “While we have our own marine compliment that are quite competent at their jobs, it would be better if they were led by someone with . . . exceptional capability in ship-to-ship boarding operations.” Shepard stared back, mind rushing as she tried to figure out the angle Nod was working at here. She knew from history that the Brotherhood excelled at secrecy and deception, and that they were treacherous at best. On the other hand, she knew from history that the Brotherhood had a humanitarian side and seemed to have honestly cared for the civilians under its rule. Though Nod was banned from having a military, the religion itself was still intact and had a strongly charitable bent throughout human space. And they were trying to rescue civilians. GDI civilians, at that. “What if I refuse?” Shepard asked. Miranda’s response was another of those thin smiles, and she gestured at a datapad on a table by Shepard’s bed. There was a thrumming of working dark energy, and the clipboard rose, hovered, and dropped back to the table. She was a biotic, too. Shepard understood the threat quite clearly. Alone, unarmed, and in her skivvies, her only weapon was her biotic capability. Miranda, meanwhile, was armed, on her own ship, probably had a contingent of guards at hand, and could counter Shepard’s own mass effect capability. She wasn’t a prisoner, but it wouldn’t take much effort to change that. “We’re on the same side, Shepard,” Miranda said. “GDI or Nod, we’re both human, and humans are in the hands of alien slavers. We have to stop them.” Shepard closed her eyes, mulling over it for a moment and trying to figure out what Nod’s ulterior motive was. If there even is one, she reminded herself. Instead, she remembered Mindoir. She remembered her family and friends, fighting the batarian slavers and being gunned down and burned alive for their trouble. She remembered seeing people from her home being hauled away as slaves. She remembered the four-eyed, humanoid aliens as they hunted through the ruins for survivors, and she hiding beneath rubble and ruins, praying to not be seen, curled up in abject terror. Shepard opened her eyes, met Miranda’s, and nodded, fighting back the deep unease bubbling up inside her at the notion of working with Nod agents “Get me armor and a weapon,” she muttered, voice tight with anger and determination. She wouldn’t fail them again. - Inspired by discussion over in the Mass Effect crossover thread this is an alternate universe version of Mass Effect, with the Systems Alliance Earth replaced by Tiberium Earth. Its also partially alt universe for Tiberium as well, as this story will be ignoring C&C4's plot. As far as this story is concerned, Nod went into the shadows following TW3, Kane is gone (long since presumed dead in the assault on Temple Prime) and GDI has been the undisputed head of humanity up through the discovery of the Prothean ruins and the Charon Mass Relay. If you've read my other ME fic, Graveyard Shift, you'll notice some similarities. This is effectively a rewrite of Mass Effect with GDI taking the place of the SA, and with Nod in the background, being all....Nod-ly. As a result I might reuse some content from that story, seeing as they're telling the same tale, sort of. Note: Original version of this story had Shepard as a male, and I adjusted her to be female to give the story a lot more differentiation from Graveyard Shift. So, if you spotted any misplaced male pronouns referring to Shepard, let me know. - Chapter Guide: - Chapter 1: Gateway Part 2 - Miranda, Slaver Ships, Medals, Verge War, Normandy - Chapter 2: Calm - Shakedown, Joker and Alenko, Nihlus, Anderson, Distress Call - Chapter 3: Reconnoiter Part 1 - Ion Array EP-4, Coyote, Nihlus and Shepard, Drop onto Eden Prime, Anderson, Geth - Chapter 3: Reconnoiter Part 2 - Nihlus, Ambush, Kaidan and Shepard Biotics, Losses, Codex: Shapeshifter - Chapter 4: Archive Part 1 - Husks, Jacob and Wrex, Nihlus and Saren, Monorail station battle, Leeroy Jenkins - Chapter 4: Archive Part 2 - Spaceport battle, Nihlus vs. Saren, Orcas, Glowey Orb of Macguffin - Chapter 5: Technical Truths Part 1 - Vision, Anderson and Shepard, Guns, Deceptions - Chapter 5: Technical Truths Part 2 - Citadel, Embassy, Council, Surprise Visit - Chapter 6: Resurrection Part 1 - Kane, Garrus, Council Meeting - Chapter 6: Resurrection Part 2 - Compromise, Shepard and Kane, Aircar Rides - Chapter 7: Cowboys - Shepard defuses, Garrus, Investigations, Embassy - Chapter 8: Scouting Part 1 - Tali, Shepard and Havoc, Zaeed and Fist, Plotting - Chapter 8: Scouting Part 2 - Spy Tali, Spy Shepard, Goddammit Zaeed, Impressive - Official Prequel: - Eagles' Fall by Charnobyl. Covers the First Contact War between GDI and the Turian Hierarchy. It has the Peptuck Seal of Approval.