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Shepard's Dream Catcher

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Six months have passed and Amber was certain the entire galaxy heard of the human race by now. More recently, Anderson had sent Amber an email regarding the Alliance Navy and Turian Military pitching resources towards the construction of a prototype ship as a collaboration project. As she drank her coffee at the kitchen table, Amber sent an email asking about where she should meet up with him on the project. Saren entered the room with his own cup of kava. Similarly, he was aware of the prototype vessel as he was alerted by Sparatus regarding the project. With his omni-tool still active, he sat down across from Amber.

"Sounds like a nice ship thus far," Saren commented.

"You could say that," Amber nodded in agreement.

The ship was being retrofitted with a prototype stealth system, dampening the systems heat signature for a limited time, keeping it off scanners for recon and infiltration missions. As Amber was confident with her squadmates coexisting with the aliens, she felt this ship prototype would be a worthy payoff. Saren was also interested in the project and enthusiastic to see the outcome. Just as Amber finished her breakfast, she checked her omni-tool only to find a new message from Anderson in her inbox.

{Shepard,

I wanted to gather your squad for another cooperative mission. I have the full attention of high-command this time, so do your best to look good for their judgment. I've already informed the others of the situation and we're all waiting on your word.

Anderson}

Amber finished reading her message before she stood to her feet.

"Saren?" Amber offered, "you want to suit up?"

He nodded.

"What'd Anderson have to say?" Saren asked.

"He has another cooperative mission for us," Amber explained.

Saren finished his kava before he stood from the table.

"Anything else?"

"We'll find out more once I get back to him," she quickly typed a reply and sent the message to Anderson.

Amber and Saren headed into their bedrooms where they gathered their armor and slipped them on. After they gathered their weapons, they met up at the front door before they left the apartment, making their way through the Presidium. Anderson was already waiting for them when they reached the docks.

"Shepard, Arterius, good to see you so soon," Anderson greeted.

Saren responded with a salute.

"The same can be said for you, Anderson," Saren nodded.

"What's the mission, sir?" Amber asked.

"Nothing too difficult," Anderson replied, "you'll be on an otherwise short mission. However, we'll be passing by one of our colonies on the way back."

"Got it," Amber nodded.

Amber and Saren wasted no time as they boarded the vessel and made their way to the bridge. Anderson met up with them moments later.

"We'll only be doing recon today," Anderson started, "we'll be heading down to a new planet which is looking to be colonized. We'll be there to make sure it's safe, check for pirate outposts and such."

"Hopefully," Saren replied, "this won't be a repeat of Akuze."

Garrus, Liara, Wrex, Jack, Kasumi, Tali, Kaidan, James, Ashley and Mordin boarded the vessel a short time later. Once the vessel was loaded, it left the Citadel. As the ship made for the Mass Relay, the team was quickly briefed at a map of the planet. From what Amber could observe, this new planet was one jump away from Elysium.

"Does the command want a forward line of defense until we can expand further?" Amber pondered.

Anderson nodded.

"True. Additional, initial scans show this planet is mineral rich, so this just might be a good planet to mine resources for."

Saren hummed as he scratched his mandible.

"And is there anything of note?" Saren asked.

"Just a small spec, some run-down facility," Anderson concluded, "but after an extensive campaign last month, command doesn't want to take any chances."

It was only a while before the vessel entered the system. The planet in mind was the furthest out from the sun of the system, leaving it in darkness and cold most of the year. Once the vessel entered the planet's orbit, the pilots, including Joker, began scanning the planet's surface. Finding a sufficient landing location, they headed to the cargo hold. The M36 Mako has been introduced after the M35 proved to be insufficient for handling rough, undiscovered terrain, and more unprepared for the anti-armor weapons wielded by other races.

Amber, Garrus and Jack boarded the Mako. They dropped from low orbit shortly after onto an open, empty field before Amber turned on the vehicle lights. When she took control of the steering wheel, she started driving the Mako, even when she took some precautions. While the Mako no longer had the problem of being able to enter reverse, excessively bouncy suspension, or was nearly as top-heavy, the vehicle felt like it had severely reduced traction and the steering felt barely responsive.

"Ugh," she grumbled, "not this again!"

Now the vehicle felt like it drove on an ice rink rather than a rocky, foreign, mountain path. It didn't help that Garrus and Jack had to hold on tightly so they wouldn't fall over. They continued to roll over the hills, too distracted with staying upright to initiate any banter. Amber could only hope the Mako didn't break down on her again.

After a rough journey, nearly sliding off a few cliffs on the way, they finally came to a hill overlooking the small facility down below. From where they were, the lights were off and no one seemed to be home. There weren't any visible debris either, so an attack probably didn't take place. From what they could tell, the place was abandoned.

"Looks clear from here," Garrus hummed, adjusting the scope as he peered down the sights.

"You wanna go check it out?" Jack clamored.

"Might as well," Amber grumbled, climbing out of the Mako and starting her way down the hill.

Garrus and Jack climbed out of the Mako and followed the N7 soldier down the hill. On the outside, the steel gray exterior of the buildings below offered nothing but eerie shadows with eyes digging into their backs. The trio scanned their surroundings in search of anyone that could be in hiding. One by one, they checked the interior of each building.

"Looks like this place has been abandoned for some time," Garrus added.

Jack gave Garrus a confused stare.

"Something scare the shit out of them?" Jack paused.

"Sometimes it's just easier to leave any assets that have already been established," Garrus shrugged.

Amber led Garrus and Jack through the abandoned facility. The equipment was gone, yet all the furniture was still there. The fact there weren't corpses or blood splatters anywhere made the situation even more eerie.

"Nothing. Even the security cameras were removed," Amber sighed.

"Weird," Jack rolled her eyes.

The group left shortly after, having found nothing inside. They trudged up the hill on their way back to the Mako. Amber got back into the driver's seat as she radioed Joker.

"Just checked the camp, nothing here," Amber informed.

{Really?} Joker warbled over the com-link, {that's odd.}

"They all moved out, no idea where," Amber instructed, "pick us up."

{Copy that,} Joker replied over the com-link.

Half an hour later, the Mako boarded the ramp that led into the vessel. Amber, Garrus and Jack disembarked the Mako and met up with Anderson.

"At least it was fast," Anderson said, "we'll be heading to Elysium shortly."

"Yeah, whoever was down there previously moved out," Amber sighed.

Amber and Anderson meandered out of the cargo hold and through the corridor until they reached the bridge.

"What'll we be doing there, sir?" Amber asked.

"Security detail. We'll be there briefly, only an hour or so," he said.

Amber nodded before she leaned back against the wall. It wasn't long before the vessel exited the planet's orbit and began traveling through space. An hour and a half later, they had entered the space port of possibly the most beautifully designed colony they'd ever seen. Saren nodded admirably.

"Looks like they've been doing well for themselves," Saren commented.

Amber nodded at Saren in agreement as she observed the colony through the window. When the vessel landed at the dock, Saren and Amber stepped close behind Anderson as they came across the local ranking officers waiting for them.

"Captain Anderson," one of the officers saluted.

"A pleasure. It's good to see everything is in order thus far," Anderson acknowledged.

Once Amber's teammates and their alien friends disembarked the vessel, Anderson led his crew through the docks. The group entered a tram to the center of the colony where the Alliance command center was located. During the trip, Amber and Saren gazed out the window and observed the bustling city. It was fun watching the scenery flash by, showing a great contrast to the rural life on outer human colonies. As they watched the scenery, Amber took Saren's hand into her own.

"Definitely looks like a nice place," Amber mused.

"Yeah, definitely," Saren purred.

Her eyes were set on the hillsides, rolling over into the distance. A long while later, the tram arrived at the station near the Alliance command center. While Anderson and a few of her squadmates went inside, the non-humans remained outside for security reasons. Amber decided to remain with Saren, staying alongside him as they hung over the railing, looking into the distance.

"So, Shepard," Saren asked, "have you been here before?"

"No, this is my first time," Amber shook her head, "I've heard stories about how beautiful it is here, but stories never do actual experience justice."

They continued their silence briefly, watching the clouds hover in the sky above. After a long while of waiting, Anderson returned from the command center and met up with Amber and Saren.

"Everything alright?" Amber inquired.

"Yes, we're up to speed. Let's start our way back to the port," Anderson nodded.

They had returned to the tram and began their journey back to the space port. Resuming their watch of the view outside, Saren notice approaching vessels in the distance, flying far too low for their distance from any local tarmac. Amber also took notice of the strange vessels.

"Saren?" Amber paused.

His gaze didn't let up.

"Something's up with those ships," Saren said.

Amber blinked twice in a moment of silence. Suddenly, a few of the aforementioned vessels came in close to the heart of the colony, initiating their bombing runs. They watched in horror as the city lit up in explosive flames.

"Spirits," Saren gasped.

Amber's eyes also widened in horror as she had one hand perched on Saren's shoulder. Anderson rushed up to the tram driver cabin, pulled the emergency handle and rushed in.

"Get us back to the HQ! Now!" Anderson shouted.

"Are you serious?!" Kaidan protested.

"We're not leaving this colony!" Anderson insisted, "that's an order!"

Amber glanced over her shoulder and noticed Garrus, Wrex, Liara, Tali, Ashley, Jack, Kasumi, James and Kaidan double-checked their weapons. She brandished her own SMG, checking the clip before looking back to the sky, watching as AA guns and a few Alliance fighters struggled with the invaders. While the tram still sped towards the command center, Amber and her squadmates watched as a few invading vessels landed on the ground. The doors opened back up and they rushed back out to meet a mass of panicking Alliance personnel. After she jumped behind some cover, Amber peeked out to get a scope of the attackers.

The command center had already taken heavy damage from the initial bombing runs, with half of the structure having been torn apart, leaving the inside exposed. Medics still raced around, tending to wounded. Already, the dead were being piled up on the floor of the front lobby to be properly identified later. It didn't help that the invaders were still occupying the area. Overhead, more pirates were being dropped from more shuttles.

"Shepard!" Ashley called from a distance, "orders?!"

"Hold them off, and force them to fall back! We'll regroup once the area is secure!" Amber commanded.

"Right away!" Kaidan nodded.

Amber's squadmates began to spread out with Amber and Saren leading the assault. With their combined abilities and strengths, they managed to successfully reinforce the disorganized local forces. However, the pirates just continued to keep pouring in. While some Alliance crewmembers evacuated the others to safety, Liara, Kaidan, Jack and Saren were able to put their biotics to good use. With better physical cover to work with, they began to advance through the HQ with greater ease, costing the pirates greatly.

When Amber and Wrex stormed down the hall in the command center, their firepower caught any pirates in the area off-guard. Close behind, Saren, Ashley, and Jack provided cover fire, mopping up anyone the two on point may have missed. Garrus and the others were in the far back, serving as the last wave and rear defense in case the pirates decided to flank them. They knew they would have to act quick as the lives of the colony's officials were at risk.

Entering the next room, they entered the offices and central command center of the facility. Continuing the fight, Anderson, Kaidan, Ashley, Tali, and Jack went from room to room, searching for survivors as Wrex, Saren, Amber, Garrus, and James kept on the offensive. Anderson had joined the fight as well, having picked up a rifle from a fallen soldier. It wasn't long before Amber and Saren found the essential officials on their knees as pirates aimed their guns at their heads. Saren didn't hesitate, flashing his crosshairs over a pirate's head and firing. Amber also followed suit, firing a round at another pirate.

Once Saren and Amber cleared out their opposition moments later, Garrus and Wrex rushed over to the human officials. Wrex brawled with a few other pirates while Garrus hauled the hostages to safety. Amber and Saren left the office to cover for Garrus and the other hostages. The others continued pursuing the pirates into the front lobby, and were on the verge of forcing them to withdraw. It didn't take long before Saren and Amber entered the front lobby. With the rest of the building secure, a few Alliance troops joined them as they engaged the rest of the pirates present. Their numbers drew thin, and their siege came to a close when an Alliance soldier armed with an RPG shot a dropship down, causing it to spiral out of view.

Outside the command center, Anderson began giving orders to the survivors as he caught up with Amber and Saren.

"Shepard, I'll try to catch up with you once I switch into something more appropriate for the matter at hand," Anderson discussed, "in the meantime, I need you and your squad to head into the city and start an effort to evacuate the civilians. If there already is a movement by local forces or authorities to start cleaning up, give them cover. Understood?"

"Copy that," Amber saluted.

Rounding up the others, they ran out of the command center and grabbed a moderately damaged Mako for transportation. This time, Saren hopped into the driver's seat. Despite the damage, the vehicle handled much better in urban locations. The turian Spectre wasted no time as he drove the Mako through the streets with a few more Makos following suit. Panicked people continued to run amok, fire bellowed out of the building windows, and a few local police were scattered about, fighting desperately against the overwhelming pirates and mercenaries. After driving aimlessly, they drove up to the side of the central police hub and departed. The police had managed to hunker down and build their defenses, but were boxed in by the invaders and had limited operating space. Once Saren and Amber led their squad into the facility, they headed for the main office. The inside of the office had hastily been converted into a bunker, with broken desks, datapads, and fragments scattered all over, and each officer having slapped on every set of armor they had available to them.

"Where's your superior officer? We need to talk with him!" she demanded.

One of the officers approached Amber with caution.

"I'm surprised the Alliance was generous enough to send an N7," he grumbled, "any other reinforcements, or are you it?"

"I have allies to back me up," Amber replied.

The officer simply eyed Saren suspiciously.

"Uh-huh…listen, I'm trying to get guys out to start rounding up civies and getting them to the mines a few klicks out from the city. But those bastards have us hounded down, and they're massing up farther down the street, and we can't afford to lose this position altogether. If you still have some contact with local Alliance command, I can throw a few guys your way, hold them off until we can evacuate the civilian populace."

"I can handle that," Amber nodded.

"We'll maintain a defensive, give the time you need," Saren agreed.

"Thank you," another officer sighed in relief.

The ranking officer turned to the others.

"Alright people, listen up!" he announced, "we've got reinforcements and more on the way. We'll get some breathing room to start pushing out and gathering civies wherever we can, but we have to act fast. I'll still leave some of you at the station to help defend our current position. Gather your gear and let's go!"

This served as a cue for the officers in the room to spring into action. Still, Amber knew this fight was far from over.