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Shepard's Dream Catcher

Chapter Text

The signs of skirmish were apparent as they made their approach. For the time being, the Cerberus forces had withdrawn from the particular part of the station to wait the Matriarch out, as the power was completely out and the emergency lights were starting to run out of juice. As Saren, Amber, Liara and Javik made their way through the corridor, they used the flashlight feature in their omni-tools to light the dark path. The remains of a few lab personnel were scattered about along with pieces of Cerberus armor, dropped firearms, and Rachni corpses. Even if she kept sprinting forward, Amber could help but notice anxiety trickling into her spine. A minute or so later, they reached the door leading to the secure lab.

"Freeze!" an asari in black armor jumped up from cover with her sights set on them.

"You idiot," another asari appeared, chastising the other, "they aren't even Cerberus. I assume you're the rescue team?"

"Yes," Liara nodded after making a sigh of relief, "is my mother all right?"

"Yeah. Come on back, we'll let you in. And be glad your safety was still on, jackass," the second guard answered, tossing her companion a look of ire.

Both asari guards led Amber and her squadmates through the door.

"The Matriarch is in the back. She can explain everything."

"Thanks. Remain vigilant. I'm not sure of our escape route, but we'll be getting out soon," Saren replied.

Saren, Amber, Liara and Javik ventured through the lab in search of the asari Matriarch. The remaining lab personnel and guards were huddled up in the living quarters, quietly waiting for the outcome of the attack. Towards the back of the room stood an elder asari in a bleach-white lab coat.

"I'm still not sure that violating quarantine would be worth the risk. We manage to get out of range of their hammers, we won't get the warning out in time."

Out of all the asari taking refuge, Liara recognized one of them.

"Mother?!" Liara called over.

The asari Matriarch snapped her head towards Liara.

"Liara?!" Benezia exclaimed, "what are you doing here? And how'd you managed to get past the Cerberus forces?"

Liara scurried over to Benezia and pulled her into a warm embrace.

"I was worried about you," Liara stammered, "so I thought I'd accompany Shepard to come to your aid."

Benezia softly patted her daughter's head before turning her head towards Amber.

"Commander Shepard, I presume? It's a pleasure to meet you, but I can't believe you made it through. Do you have a plan for our escape?"

Amber and Saren exchanged glances in a moment of silence.

"The Normandy crew will provide us covering fire on our way out," Amber explained, "in the meantime, will the Rachni be an issue?"

"Not as long as you keep the Rachni out of Cerberus' hands," Benezia answered, "I'm not sure if they've had access to the specimen, but they cannot leave the planet with it."

Liara released her mother from her embrace while Saren approached the asari Matriarch.

"We'll make sure that doesn't happen," Saren reassured.

It didn't take long for everyone in the room to assemble in close proximity so they could discuss the plan.

"The Normandy has been able to track our progress through the station and will be dropping ordinance upon the Cerberus vessel. If things go south, they were ordered to follow us into the facility," Amber explained.

Javik double-checked his rifle.

"And who should go retrieve the Rachni?" Javik reminded.

Benezia and Liara gave Javik a serious stare.

"They'll remain in containment for the time being," Benezia answered, "they'll be moved once the facility is clear."

Javik nodded before he stormed out of the lab.

"Commander, are you sure bringing him was a good idea?" Benezia paused.

Amber couldn't help but shrug.

"I was unaware he felt so strongly about the Rachni," she finished, "with Cerberus dealing with the Normandy, that should give us the opening we need to get your team to safety."

With Saren covering for her, Amber sprinted after Javik. This was a cue for Liara and Benezia to start evacuating the crew. The human Spectre started to sift through scattered pieces of Cerberus armor outside the lab for communications equipment. When she found some com devices, she handed one to her mentor.

"Cerberus uses devices that still work around their jammers. It's a risk, but we can get word out that we've reached the Matriarch," Amber explained.

Saren nodded in agreement before he started calibrating the com device in his hand.

"Hello? Normandy, can you hear me?" Saren called.

{This is Joker speaking,} Joker returned over the com-link.

"Spectre Arterius here," Saren returned, "we've secured the Matriarch and her team. We'll be moving them for extraction, so act fast."

{Got it, lifting off from port. ETA fifteen minutes. Hang tight.}

Once Saren ended the transmission, he nodded at Amber before they continued forth. Returning to the tram was easy enough as Cerberus remained on the frontmost section of the facility. Both Spectres remained on guard as Javik and Liara hustled the employees onto the tram. It had been otherwise calm as the team left the station.

"Once we're out, be sure to contact the central facility below, and let them know to have the Rachni moved to another facility," the Matriarch reminded.

"I'm on it," Amber nodded.

"Where are they being held?" Javik inquired.

Amber shifted her attention towards Javik.

"We encountered loose Rachni on the way here," she reminded, "remember?"

Javik grumbled as he rolled his eyes.

"That is exactly the problem. In simply 'containing' those pests," Javik protested, "you have granted them the opportunity for them to break out again. Must I remind you that during the Empire's reign, those things were probably the closest of any other species that came close to destroying us?"

Benezia sighed.

"Well, Prothean," she replied, "I'm not sure if we're even talking about the same species, but the instances of Rachni held here have been rather benign."

While Javik gave Benezia a confused stare, Amber scanned ahead. They were quickly arriving at the platform, and there was already a large Cerberus platoon waiting for them. The Alliance commander and the turian Spectre readied their weapons and stood by the door as the tram slowly came to a stop. In turn, the opposition was on the verge of opening fire when the floor plates under their feet burst upward. Half a dozen warrior Rachni followed shortly after and attacked the troops present. Even when the tram doors opened, Amber and Saren couldn't help but stare in awe.

"Just hang back and let them finish," Saren gestured to the others, "we'll move on when they leave."

By the time the Rachni left, Cerberus soldier corpses were left behind scattering the room and surrounding the large hole in the floor. They started disembarking the tram and following some distance behind as gunshots rang from down the hallway. As they passed through the corridor, blood and guts decorated the walls. A few more crawled past them without displaying hostility as they continued. It was almost like the Rachni were clearing a path for them.

"I still find their behavior suspicious," Javik reminded.

"Oh, really?" Amber rolled her eyes at Javik.

"Can you two please quit your squabbling?" Saren sighed in an irritated tone.

Amber snapped out of her thoughts and kept trudging forward. They returned to the front lobby and looked outside as they watched the remaining Rachni swarm the Cerberus ship. From there, the Alliance commander assumed something must've motivated them into carrying out this action. They paused for a moment longer when they saw an enormous Rachni unlike anything they'd seen before crawl into the open before rushing inside of the Cerberus vessel's open cargo hold. Still, Amber had to remind herself that they had a rendezvous point to reach.

Rushing back through the garage, they arrived back outside with the Normandy just overhead. Standing at the base of the ramp, Garrus, Kaidan and Ashley were waiting for them.

"Uhh…Skipper? What's with the giant bugs?" Ashley asked.

Amber paused in her tracks and glanced over the shoulder, noticing a small Rachni behind her. They scampered over the hill and out of view as soon as they arrived.

"No clue," Amber shrugged, "they left us alone, but just tore through the Cerberus forces."

Garrus couldn't help but chuckle as he flexed his mandibles in amusement.

"So what are you going to do about the outbreak, commander?" Garrus asked.

"You worry about getting the Matriarch and her team aboard," Amber ordered, "we'll head to the Cerberus ship."

"Right away, commander," Kaidan nodded.

As Garrus, Kaidan and Ashley began escorting Benezia and her research team aboard the Normandy, Amber, Saren and Javik sprinted towards the Cerberus ship. They barely arrived in time to see the last of the Rachni still alive climbing aboard before it took off from the icy planes. Amber, on the other hand, couldn't help but cringe at the possibility of Cerberus bringing the Rachni under their control. Saren gave Amber a soft expression while he placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I don't think Cerberus will be able to handle their new guests," Saren reassured.

Amber gave Saren a soft smile before she shifted her gaze towards the ship that suddenly started wobbling midair. The ship teetered at an angle and flew just over the mountains at a precarious angle. All the Spectres could do was return to the Normandy. They boarded the ship and returned to the port to drop off the Matriarch. By now, Cerberus already vacated the port. The local security team escorted Benezia and her guards inside as the others returned to the Normandy. The Alliance commander was scrolling through her message inbox in her omni-tool. She hastily sent a message back to Benezia regarding the fate of the Rachni and the Cerberus crew they took their new ship from. She merely waited for several minutes for the Matriarch to respond. She returned to her quarters when she received the notification ping.

{Commander,

While I also understand why you dislike what Liara told me is a surviving Prothean, I still share his concerns when I saw the Rachni Queen board the Cerberus Frigate. During tests before the attack, we discovered that the creatures aren't so feral, and are capable of quickly adapting and learning how to use various pieces of tech. I suppose it wouldn't be farfetched to assume they can learn how to pilot the ship once they've eliminated the human presence aboard to settle on some other planet. Where or what the plan to do is still unclear. I hope the worst doesn't come of this situation.

Thanks again,
Matriarch Benezia T'Soni}

Amber couldn't help but smile as she finished reading the message. It was nice hearing Cerberus getting a taste of their own medicine. With the notification in mind, Amber started writing her report for Anderson. Unfortunately, she still had to take into account the Rachni had escaped the facility and their whereabouts were currently unknown. Would there be a chance to come across them at some point? Once she finished her report, she carefully read through it before she sent it. She stood and exited her quarters for the mess hall.

Now that the Normandy departed, Amber found her teammates standing in line to serve themselves their meals, including Tali, Garrus, Thane, Liara, Javik and Saren. Once her turn came up, the Alliance commander served herself some curry. She sat down with her companions as they brought forward their own lunches. Her mentor sat down next to her seconds later as they started eating.

"How do you feel about the mission?" Saren asked.

"I guess you could say I'm doubting one of the Prothean's claims," Amber shrugged.

"The one about the Rachni being uncontrollable insects?" Saren took a bite out of a clam-like delicacy.

"Yeah, that one," Amber nodded.

Saren nodded in agreement.

"Well, if Javik is any proof," he replied, "it's that the Protheans were a rather irredeemable bunch."

Even if Saren and Amber didn't notice it, Javik overheard their conversation a few seats away and glared at them. Still, as the Normandy traversed through space, there weren't any further troubles for its crew to deal with as they relished in this little tranquil moment.