Mass Effect: IC-342 (Ironsworn: Starforged) Session 15

“MISO,” I push through data on my omni-tool, make my way back to the cockpit. “What else can you tell me about the second planet in Devil’s Rest? Are you seeing indications of a civilization there?”

“The remains of one, yes,” MISO says, sending more details to my omni-tool. “Spectrographic analysis indicates no atmosphere, no active transmissions and no evidence of any life. There is evidence of seabeds, but no indication of any ice or water. I am detecting high surface radiation levels.”

“Any idea what happened down there?”

“It appears to be the result of a war. I am detecting what seem to be remains left over from battles both on the surface and in orbit.”

“Set a course,” I tell him, closing down the display on my omni-tool. “If there’s anything salvageable in orbit, maybe it’ll point us in the right direction, give us something to look for.”

“Affirmative, Commander,” MISO says. “Setting course for DR-2.”

    Move: Undertake an Expedition (Devil’s Rest Survey Mission - Outlands)
    Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 6 (9) vs. 1 & 10 (Weak Hit)
    Peril: Familiar Foe Sends Message or Appears.
    Oracle: Is it the Geth? (50/50) No.

    It takes another four hours to reach the second planet in the Devil’s Rest system, four hours that I spend trying not to get nervous as the readings for the debris cloud start coming in. There are a lot of Eezo signatures, readings of detonated drive cores, and something else, something that has a 89% chance, according to MISO, of being Reaper tech. As the planet starts to come into view, starts to grow in the viewscreen, I can begin to pick out the little details, the shining fragments of starships circling the grave world in a thin, metallic ring. 

    Move: Reach a Milestone - Vow (+1 box on track [3 of 10] )
    Mark Progress on Expedition (+1 box on track [3 of 10])

    “There must be hundreds of them,” I whisper, taking a long sip of coffee. “MISO, what’s the largest chunk of debris you’re detecting in that ring?”

    “The largest fragment I have located is roughly 890 cubic meters in size, Commander.”

    “Can you take us in? Get us close to it?”

    “Setting a course now, Commander."

    Move: Explore A Waypoint (Debris Field)
    Roll: (Wits) 2 + 6 (8) vs. 7 & 8 (Weak Hit)
    Opportunity: Sensors pinpoint a lurking foe
    Peril: Troubling Visions

    The ring of debris gets closer and closer. My eyes dart from piece to piece, trying to pick out details, trying to spot anything I can recognize, but it’s all just so much alien wreckage. So much of it is dust, fragments a few meters in size, nothing more. Flicking through sensor data, I find exactly the information I don’t want to see, information that seems to confirm everything I’ve been afraid of. The wreckage is old, fifty or sixty thousand years old, and interspersed between it all are chunks of biomechanical material that are unmistakably Reaper in origin.

    “Last stand,” I breathe, shaking my head. “Looks like it was a hell of a fight. Any idea who won?”

    “Roughly eighty-two percent of the material in the debris field appears to be native to this planet. It may be fair to posit that the indigenous species was wiped out by the Reapers.”

    “Or they wiped themselves out when the battle turned against them,” I nod, pushing through the readings of radiation curves on the surface. “Are these readings consistent with nuclear detonations?”

    “Stratospheric detonations. Isotope decay in the remnant atmosphere would seem to indicate that the debris field and the detonations are of the same approximate age.”

    “They couldn’t beat the reapers, but they wouldn’t let themselves be beaten.” I shake my head. “They must have known about the harvesting, the husks, everything. They killed their own people rather than let it happen to them.”

    “Commander, I am picking up something on the surface,” MISO says abruptly, opening a projected screen across the cockpit viewplate. Squinting, I try to make sense of the dark shape half buried in the sands of a lifeless sea boiled to nothing by nukes and the loss of the planet’s atmosphere. It takes me a moment to make sense of what I’m looking at, but when I finally do, I have to take a step back, struggle to get a hold of myself and keep myself from hyperventilating.

Move: Endure Stress (-1) (now 3)
Roll: Spirit (3) + Roll 2 = 5 vs 7 & 8 (Miss)
Lose momentum -2 (now 1.)

Reaper. I can’t speak the name, can’t get my mouth to make the words. There, half buried in the sands of a dead world is the very thing we came to IC-342 to get away from. As soon as I see it, I want to run away from it, want to chart a course right back to Anchor Drop and hide in my flat and never come out again. It’s everything I can do to keep from hyperventilating, from losing my shit entirely and utterly. Gripping the back of the cockpit chair, I try to find words, try to form thoughts, but fear makes me hesitate so much that my mouth goes dry.

“MISO,” I swallow. “Does it know we’re here?”

“Unknown, Commander,” MISO says, projecting a sequence of data across the viewplate. “There is an energy signature, but it is faint. I am detecting extensive damage from weapons fire, nuclear detonations and re-entry.”

I lick my lips, try to steady my breathing when every fiber of my being is screaming for me to run away. Squeezing the chair again, I fight to string thoughts together.

“Can you open a priority line to Director Calderone?”

“Interference from the debris ring, the planet and the local star are preventing the use of long range communications,” MISO says. “Would you like me to plot a course for open space?”

“How long would it take to get out of the interference?”

“At full thrust, approximately 87 minutes.”

“No,” I push my hand through my hair, feel utterly hollow, transfixed by the image of the Reaper on the screen. It’s terrifying, but also somehow alluring. I’ve never seen one this close before, never seen one laying dead in the dirt before. Swallowing, I blink, close the image. “Too long. How close can you get to it?”

“Cerberus regulations for contact with Reaper specimens specifically state–”

“Don’t quote me the regulations,” I shake my head. “How close can you get us?”

“There is a three kilometer outcropping of volcanic rock one hundred and seventy meters from the Reaper that appears to have the density required to support the Ulysses.”

“Set a course,” I say, but MISO interrupts me before I can turn away or take a seat.

“Commander, be advised that with current radiation levels at the crash site, it is recommended that you spend less than twenty minutes on the surface even with a vacuum suit. Forty minutes of exposure will prove fatal.”

“Noted, but if we can learn anything from this thing, it might give us an edge, or might mean there’s a mass relay in this system. It’s got all the hallmarks, a habitable world, evidence that Reapers have been here before. Maybe that thing down there has coordinates in its memory banks or something.”

To his credit, MISO doesn’t argue, doesn’t try to talk me out of it. Instead, he only beeps, then says, “plotting course now, Commander.”

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Devil’s Rest Survey Mission - Outlands)
Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 6 (9) vs. 8 & 8 (Strong Hit / Match)
Reach waypoint, mark progress.

Move: Reach a Milestone - Vow (+1 box on track [4 of 10] )
Mark Progress on Expedition (+1 box on track [4 of 10])


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