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Shepard's Dream Catcher

Chapter Text

When morning came around, Saren and Amber met up with Anderson and Hackett at the docks, standing in front of the hijacked ship still parking besides the Normandy. Garrus and Kelly accompanied the Spectres.

"I don't like this, captain. If we have a bug hunt on our hands, the blame is going to be right on our doorstep," the admiral grumbled.

Anderson nodded.

"I agree," Anderson added, "I trust her judgment, but…something just doesn't sit right with me about this."

Both Alliance officers spotted Saren, Amber, Garrus and Kelly approaching them.

"Commander, I hope you have a plan for this," Hackett greeted, "we're doing well so far, and I don't want the resurgence of a violent species such as the Rachni to be on our hands."

Amber sighed as she stretched her arms.

"I know you two are putting a lot of weight on this," Amber said, "but just trust Agent Arterius and myself to get this right, Admiral."

Anderson shifted his gaze between Amber and Saren before nodding at both of them.

"Go on," he insisted.

"Rachni Queens can share knowledge universally, even from long-dead queens. They know of the Rachni Wars, and they know why they were driven to the brink of extinction. They aren't willing to try it again," Saren explained.

Amber glanced over her shoulder and nodded at Kelly, encouraging the yeoman to step forward.

"Yeoman Chambers had direct physical contact with the Rachni," Amber continued, "and was otherwise untouched."

Hackett placed a finger on his chin.

"So they ignored you and attacked the Cerberus troops, huh?" he clarified.

"Pretty much," Amber nodded.

"Hmm, interesting," Hackett commented, "see what you can make of this, commander. This could be beneficial. If they have it out for Cerberus, the enemy of our enemy is our friend."

Garrus flexed his mandibles into a grin.

"Okay. If it works, it works," Garrus replied, "it'll be hilariously ironic, though."

Kelly tilted her head towards Garrus and placed her hand on his shoulder.

"We're not exactly in a position to scoff at allies, so we'll take what we can get," Anderson shrugged.

With a boost in confidence, Kelly calmly approached the Rachni ship. She watched as the airlock doors opened and entered. She was soon greeted by friendly chirping from some Rachni workers. The interior was much different from the layouts she had seen from other Cerberus ships. The seats and railings had been torn out, some of the panels had been redesigned to better fit the new crew, and the ceiling panels had been pushed upward to make room for the bigger Rachni. Kelly led Saren, Amber, Garrus, Anderson and Hackett through the ship and made their way to the bridge, where they found the Rachni queen.

"Hey," Kelly chirped, "I'm back!"

Anderson raised a brow as he looked up at it. Strangely, he expected it to be bigger. It was only a split second later before the Rachni queen tilted its head towards its guests.

"It's pleasant to meet your friends," the Rachni queen greeted.

"I agree. This is an interesting encounter," Hackett agreed.

His eyes glanced at some of the passing drones that wandered the ship with some suspicion. Kelly didn't pay attention to the officers' expressions as she approached the insect queen.

Anderson sighed.

"So, Cerberus has you going in circles, huh?" he asked, "any idea what they hope to achieve?"

Kelly offered her wrist, allowing the Rachni queen to wrap a tendril around it.

"We do not know. We only seek the well-being of our own kin. Some solace."

Amber tilted her head to the side.

"So just another hole to hide in until this all blows over, right?" Amber offered, "we can help with that."

"That would be greatly appreciated."

Amber glanced over her shoulder, her eyes locking onto Anderson's.

"This could be arranged, right?" Amber insisted.

"We've got plenty of mining backwater planets under our belt," Anderson mentioned, "I'm sure there's some chunk that they could inhabit."

Saren nodded as he folded his arms. At the same time, the Rachni queen released its grip of Kelly's wrist.

"Very well," Saren advised, "keep low until Cerberus has properly been dealt with."

"Will do," Hackett nodded.

Hackett pulled out his omni-tool.

"I can send you a list of worlds you could set up at," he said, "pick one and remember to keep your distance from the local settlements. Don't need Cerberus getting any tips."

"I'll keep that in mind," Amber agreed.

They left shortly afterwards, both officers looking over their shoulders as they exited the airlock.

"Strange. Most strange," Anderson muttered.

Hackett raised his eyebrows.

"I agree. It went too well," Hackett replied.

After a while, the crew finished refueling the Normandy, so Amber and Saren gathered their comrades aboard. The two went to the galaxy map to plot their next course of action, searching for the more ideal planet to head to. Since colonies were out of the question, they resorted to searching somewhere else within Alliance space.

"How about here?" Saren gestured to one of the border colonies, "it's a mining facility, meaning there won't be many people on that planet, save for mining contractors."

Amber took a moment to read the coordinates before she nodded.

"I agree," Amber said, "I'll tell Joker to get going."

Amber meandered around the projection and made her way to the pilot seat.

"Joker?" Amber paused.

"Yeah?" Joker glanced over his shoulder.

"We have escorting duty," Amber informed him, "the Rachni are in need of a new home."

"You got it," Joker sat upright, "got the destination marked on the galaxy map?"

Saren took this cue to mark the coordinates on the galaxy map.

"We're ready," Saren announced.

Joker tapped a few icons in his terminal and followed through with departure procedures with the Normandy closing its hatches. The magnetic clamps detached and they departed from the station shortly after. Scheduled right behind them was the stolen Cerberus ship, with its passengers all in tow. The Normandy led the new Rachni ship across space as they made their way to the Mass Relay leading out of the Serpent Nebula. They arrived at the other side without any issues and continued forward. They took a short while of meandering through Alliance space to reach the planet's orbit. They landed near a mountain range on the surface below. Amber and Saren walked down the ramp and stepped outside. They watched as the Rachni ship descended from the atmosphere. Alongside them, Kaidan, Garrus, and Kelly geared up in the cargo hold for deployment. All of a sudden, Garrus let out a soft chuckle.

"Ok, what are you laughing at?" Kaidan asked.

Garrus flexed his mandibles into a grin.

"I can't help but imagine the looks on the miners' faces when they see the Rachni," Garrus mused.

Kaidan rolled his eyes.

"I checked over planetary scans myself," Kaidan replied, "the ores in this region are a bit out of reach for convenient mining. It's unlikely miners will come into this area."

Kelly stood to her feet the instant she finished packing her equipment.

"Ready when the rest of you are," Kelly chirped.

Garrus just finished gearing up while he stood to his feet. They entered the Mako and took their respective seats. They waited until minutes later, Saren and Amber took the front seat. They drove from the Normandy to the foot of the mountain where the Rachni had already landed. With Rachni drones disembarking their vessel, Amber hopped out of the Mako with her mentor and their team following suit.

"Commander," Kaidan called over, "orders?"

"Let's scout the mountains," Amber suggested, "and find a good cave system."

Saren and Amber led Garrus, Kaidan and Kelly as they began hiking up the mountains. They wandered along the mountainside, looking for a cave mouth. They happened to come in close proximity to the Rachni as the workers began digging at the surface. The drones had started at a light slope and dug inward, which caught interest from Kaidan, Garrus and Kelly.

"Shepard?" Garrus paused, "should we follow their lead?"

"Let's keep back, and see where they go," Amber suggested.

While the Rachni continued to dig into the slope, Saren turned on his omni-tool and started scanning the ground for an entry point. If he was lucky, they wouldn't have to disturb the Rachni.

"I'm seeing a small tunnel path along this entrance they're digging," Saren hummed.

Saren angled his wrist, allowing Amber to read his radar.

"Well, at least we got something," Amber commented.

They followed close behind, careful not to get in the way of the drones. Minutes later, the drones' effort created a hole in the ground, exposing the tunnel. Small ribbons of light stretched into the darkness below them. The drones crawled down and scattered into the darkness. Saren, Amber, Kaidan, Garrus and Kelly stood at the edge and peered inside, taking care not to lean too far.

"Uh, commander?" Kaidan interrupted, "should we continue?"

Amber made a brief glance at the Rachni as they continued pouring into the tunnel. Having made up her mind, she glanced over her shoulder.

"Kelly, Garrus, stay here," Amber instructed, "we're heading inside."

Garrus placed his hand on Kelly's shoulder as Amber slowly climbed into the hole with Saren and Kaidan following suit. Climbing down the side of the cave wall, Amber stepped down and turned her suit light on. Saren and Kaidan activated their suit lights before they followed the Alliance commander through the tunnel, taking care not to step on any of the Rachni drones. They started a calm walk forward as the Rachni rushed by deeper into the tunnel. With help from the turian Spectre's radar, they were able to navigate without losing track of the Rachni.

They entered a large chamber which split into three more tunnels. Amber took a moment to glance at the ground, examining which direction the Rachni were heading. Deeper still did they worm into the cave. Walking down, they ended up in a large chamber, their lights barely outlining the swarms. Already, plenty of Rachni drones were scoping out the chamber, scrutinizing each crevice to determine if this would make a good home.

"This…looks sufficient. What's your input?" Saren commented.

Amber approached one of the Rachni drones and knelt to its level.

"What do you think?" Amber asked.

Tilting its head upwards, the Rachni drone chirped in approval. It began its return to the surface without further interaction.

"I take that as a yes," Amber commented.

"Now what?" Kaidan glanced around nervously.

Amber scanned the chamber until she found a boulder, so she stepped over and sat on it.

"We might as well wait," Amber said.

Several minutes later, Amber, Saren and Kaidan watched as the Rachni queen entered the large chamber. Amber stood to her feet before approaching the queen.

"We can accommodate for any shortcomings. It's a pointless gesture, but we thank you again."

Amber gave the Rachni Queen a smile.

"Anytime," Amber nodded.

They started their way back to the surface along their initial entry path. Once they reached the entrance, Amber scanned the area until she spotted Kelly and Garrus kneeling at a distance. The latter glanced over his shoulder as the trio approached.

"Garrus?" Amber paused.

"Shepard, we came back to the cave entrance and noticed some unidentified merc vessels about half a klick east," Garrus told her, "we went to investigate before they flew off. All we found was this poor bastard. We dragged him back here."

Amber tilted her head downwards and saw an elderly man sprawled on the ground while Kelly knelt by his side. The Alliance Commander took extra caution as she examined him.

"I recognize that armor," Amber said, "why would the Blue Suns dump him here?"

Kelly tilted her head upwards.

"We didn't find weapons on him," Kelly answered, "so I don't know."

Amber took interest in the man's injuries.

"Looks bad," Amber commented, "he's taken a nasty head injury. He's comatose right now and it's not lethal, but he'll bleed out without proper care."

Amber nodded at Kaidan, prompting him and Garrus to lift the unconscious man off the ground. Amber turned on her omni-tool as she and her team made their way back to the Mako.

"Joker," Amber informed, "we have an incoming patient."

{Any ID?}

"Blue Suns merc, gunshot to the head," Amber added, "looks bad, but he's somehow alive. Probably grazed off. Have Chakwas and Mordin waiting for us."

{Don't worry,} Joker reassures over the com-link, {I'll have that taken care of.}

Saren and Amber lifted the merc back to the Mako and began their drive back to the Normandy. During the drive, Garrus and Kelly kept the unconscious Blue Suns merc still. Upon arrival, a few crew members awaited them in the cargo hold with a stretcher. The Alliance Commander drove the Mako aboard the cargo hold and then killed the ignition before she disembarked. Saren assisted Garrus in carrying the comatose mercenary out the vehicle while the cargo hatch closed. They lowered the mercenary onto the stretcher and carried him to the elevator to the crew deck. With the task taken care of, Amber walked over to Kelly and placed her hand on her shoulder.

"So you found this merc face down in the dust with a hole in his head, yes?" Amber asked.

Kelly nodded.

"Heavy blood loss, too, and the wound was fresh," Kelly replied, "I doubt he might survive."

"Still, I want to get answers about what happened to him," Amber said.

Amber and Kelly stepped out of the cargo hold. Arriving at the crew deck, they made for the medbay. The Blue Suns merc was placed on a bed, allowing Mordin and Dr. Chakwas to examine him.

"Commander, our guest is stable, but the damage is rather extensive," Chakwas told her, "no telling when he'll wake up."

Amber let out a soft sigh as she nodded.

"See what you can do for him," Amber advised, "let me know the moment he wakes up. I want to ask him in person."

"Will do, Shepard," Chakwas nodded.

While Dr. Chakwas and Mordin got to work, Amber stepped out of the medbay and met up with Saren in the corridor. They both made their way to the bridge and approached the pilot seat.

"So, who is the unknown soldier?" Joker inquired.

"We have yet to get his name," Amber admitted with a shrug.

He let out a disappointed whistle.

"Thought the Blue Suns would've had ID tags on their person, but whatever."

With Joker typing away in his terminal, the Normandy took off into space.

"Take us to Arcturus Station. They'll have better medical facilities there," she ordered.

Joker gave Amber a salute before he flew the Normandy towards the Mass Relay.