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Shepard's Dream Catcher

Chapter Text

Amber and Saren went straight to the Spectre Academy the following day to access the armory. Looking into the first weapons locker, she pulled out a sniper rifle of her own choice. Both the turian Spectre and his human protégé took a few minutes to gather their weapons before they started slipping into their armor. Their first assignment was a bit of wetwork deep into Terminus Space, and both decided to equip sniper rifles and SMGs. Once they had all the equipment they needed, Saren and Amber left the armory and made their way out of the academy. After wandering through the Presidium for a brief minute, they arrived at the Spectre docks and crossed the boardwalk to their shuttle. The two sat down at the cockpit and started the engines. Before they departed, Saren turned to her.

"Now, just so we're clear," Saren asked, "you don't mind getting your hands a bit dirty, do you?"

"Some of my missions had some dirty moments," Amber answered.

"I mean you won't be feeling any remorse from carrying out assassinations and similar morally questionable objectives, yes?" Saren clarified.

"It depends on what they've done to deserve it," Amber replied.

Saren leaned back as the ship left the dock.

"His name is Tonn Actus, nasty arms dealer," Saren explained, "the Terminus is widely regarded as the playground of the bad guys, and with good reason. Our current objective is the remains of some ancient asari city. As the city had been powered by a power core with tainted eezo, the facility went critical, and the colony was evacuated when it was deemed no longer inhabitable, leaving everything behind. Along with whatever nasty elements remain, the city's practically an untouched treasure trove, even millennia after it has been abandoned. Our current objective is Tonn, trying to put together his own little army right now, and they're all meeting up towards the center of the colony. Our job will be to head in, interrupt the meeting, and get out. Tonn leaves in a body bag."

"Got it," Amber nodded.

Once the shuttle left the station, it made its way towards the Mass Relay. They set course for the Crescent Nebula and were catapulted through the relay in short order. A mere hour passed before the shuttle emerged from a Mass Relay and entered Terminus space. Another hour passed as their ship went into FTL and transported them into another system. Once they arrived at their destination, they approached the planet's orbit. They entered low orbit into a forested landscape. Once they got out, they had a good look around. The beautiful greenery was immediately contrasted by a harsh, ugly view of ancient, poorly maintained asari structures in the middle of a valley.

"Historically," Saren said, "some fifty thousand lived in this colony."

Amber nodded as she examined each ancient building.

"And now the place is a ghost town, huh?" Amber commented.

"Yes," Saren agreed, "most likely."

He beckoned to her and started down the hill.

"C'mon, let's go. The local fauna is the least of our concerns."

Amber followed Saren down the hill. Once they reached the bottom, they entered the forest. At the edges of the city, they spotted small patrols sifting though the abandoned farm fields. The turian Spectre and his human apprentice took cover behind a tree.

"Stick to the trees. Only engage when I explicitly say so, or if we have ample opportunity to do so without being detected," he whispered.

"Ok," Amber nodded softly.

In and out of the irradiated wasteland, they ducked in and out of old farmhouses, sticking to the underbrush. At intervals, they scanned their surroundings for any patrolling mercenaries. They explored deeper and deeper into the city boundaries, ducking and dodging around patrols from the ground and air. They nearly were compromised by an armored patrol followed by two platoons of mercenaries. They had to act quickly before their mission would be jeopardized. They ducked into the bushes and remained still as the vehicles rolled on by. They remained still until the vehicles left the area.

"C'mon. Let's go," Saren beckoned.

The two hopped back to their feet and continued to what appeared to be a scrap refinery. With no one on patrol, Saren and Amber scurried through the entrance. They entered through the barren remains of what looked to be some physical sports area.

"Yeah, fifty thousand people left in an instance," Saren nervously chuckled.

Amber grasped Saren's hand gently, giving him a reassuring smile.

"We haven't been detected yet," she told him, "if that's worth anything."

"You are right on that," Saren smiled in return.

They reached the other side of the workout facility and waited as another armored patrol strode quietly by. With their backs turned, the two ran past the unaware guards up to another cluster of abandoned apartment buildings. Suddenly, Saren held his arm up and kept Amber back.

"Careful," Saren warned, "enemy sniper at the top of the fire escape."

She quickly checked the suppressor at the end of her rifle's barrel.

"Not a problem."

Getting into position, Amber carefully aimed her rifle. She pulled the trigger, causing the guard to flop onto his back with little opportunity to react or defend himself.

"Excellent," Saren praised.

The guards had either swept the city center already, or weren't expecting any trouble internally, as there was a complete lack of patrols as they advanced through the cracked, old streets that nature had slowly reclaimed. Amber would occasionally pause to look at the outside of each building, passing each one suspecting someone was watching from the shadow of one of the windows. Once they confirmed the coast was clear, they continued to venture forth.

"Hold it. Careful of the stray animals ahead. Let them be," Saren gestured to a couple of Varren snarfing down the remains of something just inside a courtyard of another building.

Quietly, they stormed past, cautious not to upset the beasts. From there, they approached a building a few meters ahead of them.

"This is the hotel, right?" Amber asked.

Saren nodded as he looked back and forth between the building and his omni-tool.

"Should be if records are accurate. Let's go set up camp. We'll be here for a few hours."

Saren and Amber began searching the perimeter for a place to rest. They climbed to the top floor, where they lay down their equipment. Managing her rifle, Amber removed the suppressor and loaded the weapon with a higher caliber. As they sat down against the wall, Saren gazed out the window. The hours quietly passed, only interrupted by the sound of a patrolling gunship flying by.

"They're here," Saren whispered.

Saren looked through a set of binoculars at a distant parking lot relatively far from the hotel.

"Five hundred and seventeen meters out," he observed, "the wind is blowing fifty three meters northwest. Still awaiting the target's arrival."

Amber nodded in agreement. She set up the bipod for her rifle and took a look down the scope. She watched as mercenaries disembarked the gunship shortly after it landed. Amidst the mercenaries, two prominent figures stored out, a figure in bleach white and blood red armor with a bronze visor and a turian with gray plates, red colony markings, and civilian clothing.

"There he is, the man in the thick coat. I assume you know how to use a rifle well enough?" he asked, not looking down from his binoculars.

Amber nodded quietly.

"Take the shot when you are ready," he advised.

She clenched the stock against her shoulder and adjusted the scope with the other hand. Finally, she wrapped her hand around the pistol grip and cautiously put her index finger against the trigger. Once her target stepped towards a certain spot within her vision, she squeezed the trigger. In a flash of blue, Actus was sent onto the ground hard, the entirety of his left arm gone from the shoulder down. The others began scrambling for cover and escape in response.

"Target down, nice shot. Blood loss and shock will do the rest," Saren reported.

Amber nodded while Saren placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Let's go," he advised.

The two ran down the stairs to the first floor when an explosion sharply rocked the building. Rushing back out, the looked up to see the smoldering remains of the top floor. Amber sighed with relief.

"Good thing we got out," she commented.

"You could say that," Saren chuckled.

They continued running through the streets, closely pursued by Actus's men. Saren emitted a biotic field to shield himself and his protégé from incoming shots.

"Here! We'll lose them through the next apartment block!" Saren commanded.

They rushed into a courtyard and started weaving in and out of rooms whose walls had long since deteriorated. At a few intervals, Amber knocked over a few objects with a swift kick in an attempt to slow down any pursuers. Running along a few windows, Saren pulled her out through a sliding glass window and took cover, watching as a group of mercenaries ran by, oblivious to their position. They continued the rest of the way to the edge of town as patrols and gunships circled like vultures, unable to find them. Now that they outran them, Saren and Amber disappeared into the forest. The two paused in a reinforced building for a brief duration.

"Catch your breath. I want to make sure we aren't being followed," he said.

"Ok," Amber panted softly.

While Saren watched the entrance, she headed downstairs to explore the ruins. The turian Spectre made a brief glance at the ancient writing on the walls, raising his browplates in curiosity. That was when he noticed Amber had travelled deeper inside.

Meanwhile, she found herself it what was left of a lab, equipment left where they were when the colony was evacuated. Nothing seemed particularly functional when her attention was drawn to a small vault door towards the back of the room. She stepped closer to the vault and turned on her omni-tool, using its blade to slice the door open. On a shelf towards the back was a small, metallic cube with engravings, no bigger than two inches on each side. She carefully picked it up and examined it.

"Amber?" Saren's dual toned voice rang from the entrance of the lab.

Amber snapped out of her thoughts and glanced over her shoulder just as Saren entered the lab.

"I think we're clear for now," Saren informed, "we should get back on the move before they start checking the city perimeter."

Just as Amber slowly approached Saren, he caught a glimpse of the object in her hand.

"What is that?" he asked.

Amber paused and glanced down at the object in her hand.

"I'm not sure," she replied, "I just found it in a vault."

His gaze cycled between her, the vault, and the object in her hand.

"So far, it seems innocuous enough. We'll bring it back with us."

Amber nodded before she followed him out of the lab. The rest of the walk back was otherwise quiet and swift as the remained undetected for the rest of the mission. By the time they boarded the shuttle, they settled into their seats and Saren turned on the ignition, flying the shuttle out of the planet's orbit. He kept at the controls continuously as they returned to the relay out of the system. The Mass Relay flung the shuttle into FTL speed.

"That was an incredible shot," Saren hummed.

"Thanks, Saren," Amber smiled, "maybe he won't cause trouble if he's dead."

"Yeah. That'd be a nice thought," Saren agreed.

It was only a long while later before the shuttle emerged from another Mass Relay and entered the Serpent Nebula. Once it arrived at the Citadel, it landed at the Spectre docks. By now, it was already evening. They brought back the cube to the Spectre Academy for further analysis, revealing the small metal box was a data cache from an ancient race known as the Protheans. Amber turned on her omni-tool and scrolled through the list of contacts until she found Liara's number. The asari archeologist responded soon enough.

{Shepard? How can I help you?}

"Do you have a moment?" Amber asked, "I found an artifact of Prothean origin during my mission with Saren and I thought you could have a look at it."

{Ah…I see…um, give me a minute. I'll be right over. I just have to finish a few things here. The Spectre Academy, yes?}

"I'll see you soon," Amber replied.

Once the call ended, Amber turned off her omni-tool. Saren was still talking with some of the lab workers about their finding during their mission. Some of the lab workers also took a few moments to examine the reinforced data cache which managed to withstand wear and tear even after the Protheans' supposed extinction. A while later, Liara stepped into the lab.

"I came here as quick as I could. Where did you find this?"

Saren snapped out of his thoughts, turned on his feet and approached the asari archaeologist.

"We found it in what was left of an ancient asari colony in what looked to be an abandoned lab," Saren explained, "it was on our way out of a mission."

Saren made a brief glance at Amber just as she stood from her seat.

"I found it in a small, reinforced vault, specifically," Amber added.

Amber picked up the data cache and handed it over to Liara, allowing her to examine it.

"Hmmm…a new type of device, but nothing I can't work," she advised, "give me time and I'll show what I can pull from it."

"Ok," Amber nodded.

The asari sat down with the other lab workers and began cracking the device while Amber and Saren patiently waited by. As they sat on a bench, Amber rested her head on Saren's shoulder, drowsiness flooding her eyes. Saren equally felt the wear and tear of the day finally taking its full toll. Leaning on each other, the two drifted off to sleep. A long while later, a lab worker stepped out of the lab and found the turian Spectre and his human protégé on the bench.

"Spectre?"

The two hastily snapped awake.

"Mmmmmmyes?" Saren mumbled.

"We finished gathering the data from the cache," the lab worker informed, "Dr. T'Soni is expecting you."

Saren and Amber stood from the bench and stepped back into the lab, heading over to Liara's side.

"Find anything?" Amber asked.

Liara nodded.

"A grim discovery, but a discovery nonetheless."

Saren and Amber gave Liara a confused stare.

"What are we looking at exactly?" Saren repeated.

Liara picked up a datapad and showed Amber and Saren the files she downloaded from the Prothean data cache. It looked to be schematics for some huge dreadnought, almost resembling a cuttlefish or squid.

"It's roughly translated, but the text does mention something about a massive invasion."

Amber carefully examined the image.

"That's not a ship, is it?" Amber paused.

"Looks to be," Liara answered, "it was supposedly manufactured by an unidentified extragalactic synthetic race."

For some reason, Saren couldn't help but feel a chill down his spine.

"Any reason why they attacked?" Saren asked, "any indication as to where they went?"

Liara shook her head.

"Other than that the Protheans were fighting a losing fight, nothing."

That was when Amber and Saren exchanged glances.

"We might as well dig deeper for answers," Amber shrugged.