Mass Effect - Rebirth

Ackerman Station

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File 462.H18, Gillian vas Idenna

Upon our return from Lorek, Governor Jonis instructed me to guard Kragg at all times. This has proven difficult to do, as he spends much of his time in the converted cargo area with his growing brood, all of whom insist on… touching me, and otherwise interacting with me. I’ve had to seal myself fully into the quarian suit to avoid grubby vorcha fingers all over me. Fortunately Siala updated my instructions to permit them private time so long as I guard approaches.

Siala and her advisors decided that an expedition to the former Cerberus laboratory dubbed “Ackerman Station” where Magnum and Silana were created was in order. The thought was that bringing Nova Noir into proximity may reveal certain systems otherwise concealed, and thereby not stripped by the Uwan Consortium that currently controls the station. Despite the risks, Kragg was deemed a necessary addition due to the possibility of encountering Cerberus technology, and so I accompanied them.

We took the Plerion, captained by the capable Malintzin. Our strike force consisted of Nova, Kragg, Drala, Jarek Bal’iban, and Brother Astrophel. I continue to be deeply disconcerted by Brother Astrophel, but was a model underling the entire journey. Still, I considered him the most likely danger to my charge, and so kept a close eye on him.

We approached the station, located at the L4 point of the planet of Uwan Oche. It was hard to spot, seeming to float dead in space. There were no ships nearby, and the station was giving off no emissions. As we approached, however, we were able to ascertain mass effect shielding, as well as subtle emissions indicating internal power and life support.

We boarded the station. We found it populated mostly by batarians, dressed in Uwan Consortium gear, along with what were once apparently slaves. All inhabitants, however, were moving in fixed, drone-like fashion, performing tasks with little mindfulness or awareness of our presence. I’ll amend that, they were aware, they just weren’t reacting in a typical fashion. My capacity to read people in social situations is, I acknowledge, fairly limited, and so I was comforted to realize that they were, in fact, acting aberrantly. Drala recognized this behavior, and put details together. It would appear that all the inhabitants of this station were under the direct control of the Leviathans, that distant species that supposedly created the Reapers that Dr. Bryson warned us about.

As we entered the room, Nova suddenly froze. It appears some sort of system was attempting a crude take-over of her cybernetic systems. Kragg activated a jammer that freed Nova from these attempts. Kragg then accessed the station’s systems while the station’s inhabitants walked around us, intent on their purposes. A strange, garbled machine noise erupted from the terminal. Kragg discovered something that resembled an AI system that appeared to be pleading for help.

At this point, the drone-batarians noticed us, surrounded us in a half-arc, and insisted we leave. That’s when Jarek revealed his face from under his helmet and invoked ongoing diplomatic relations, indicating that our business would be quick and we’d be on our way. The thought, I think, was to find the Cerberus tech and leave the leviathans and their slaves alone. An asari-drone insisted on accompanying us.

Kragg led us through the station until we reached something resembling a computer core. The door wouldn’t open, and the asari-drone insisted we not enter. Kragg contacted the machine we were trying to find, and it overrode the door… and overrode most of the internal systems, causing chaos. The asari-drone detonated in a biotic blast before Jarek incapacitated her. We fled into the chamber beyond. Inside, we discovered the truth of the captive AI. It was, apparently, a human, wired via extensive cybernetics into the system.

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I went to school with David Archer at Grissom academy. I knew what Cerberus, and his brother, had done to him. He had a mind like mine, different than usual. His talents were with numbers and machines, and his brother tried to wire him into the geth. It appears that Dr. Ackerman had read Dr. Archer’s papers, and being a talented cyberneticist, improved on the design. The system seemed carefully calibrated to keep a person alive indefinitely, feeding nutrients and eliminating wastes. His mind was, effectively, the intelligent operating system linked to a host of VI-assisted subroutines. That’s just what I got from looking at it. I’m sure Kragg and Nova figured it out even faster.

We didn’t have a lot of time, however, as the leviathan’s drones were massing for a collective attack. Jarek and Brother Astrophel moved to secure the door while Nova rapidly accessed the system to pull the human out, and Kragg treated minor wounds. A wiry human dropped from a ceiling grate holding two grenades, which he sacrificed himself to detonate. My barriers were already battered by the asari-drone’s attack, and the grenade knocked me behind some equipment, dazing me for a few moments. In that time, Nova pulled the human out, and Brother Astrophel counterattacked, demonstrating… appalling lack of self-restraint in his biotics. His implants were clearly draining him of something vital, but the torrent of biotic power he directed into the hall effectively cleared it of drones. They fled, taking the dying human with them. Kragg believed, apparently, that he could keep him alive somehow. Drones were filling the room, and I considered fighting rear-guard, but then I recalled that these drones require a control sphere, and I decided the best way to guard Kragg is to stop his attackers from attacking. I entered the ducts and sought central storage areas.

I could hear the others fighting their way back to the ship. I had to flare apart a number of storage areas, destroying crates and supplies, before I finally found the one where the sphere was hidden in an otherwise unremarkable box. As I destroyed it, Drala found me. As anticipated, the fighting stopped.

We rendezvoused by the accessway to the ship. The path there was covered in gore, but the surviving drones had recovered themselves. We engaged in a more thorough clean-up operation. Kragg recovered some of the strange technologies that the drones were working on. We took supplies and omni-gel. We also took the 62 survivors (some wounded) aboard the ship in cramped but serviceable condition. Drala took the 12 former slaves to the crew quarters, separating them from their former masters while Jarek calmed down the batarians. They had lost about a month and a half of time. It would appear that they fell under the sway of the leviathans shortly after the Aria-led assault on Black Star. It would appear the Leviathans simply moved their operations from Vatar to Uwan Oche.

We opted not to go to the mining planet doubtless controlled by Leviathans, and instead to hurry to Talaria. Concerned that the human computer would die, Malintzin pulled some extremely dangerous acts of FTL navigation to get us back in about half the time.

We arrived to discover a stand-off around Talaria. Apparently, Ashe, our Leviathan-ambassador, had been covertly spreading the influence of his sphere around, particularly to the security staff in charge of guarding him. There was an attempted coup. Siala was captured, and Ashe sought to negotiate a ship and an escape. Jardum Avot and Zaphuel, however, managed to maintain control of security HQ and C&C, and lieutenant-governor Derhan Paz’hess was alerted. He blockaded Talaria to prevent any escape ships from leaving.

We made contact with Jardum and Zaphuel and a plan was conceived. We would convince Derhan to remove the blockade, Zaphuel and Jardum would give in to the enemy demands, but not before Drala infiltrated herself aboard the station, and then aboard the ship being given them. The plan was, she would disable the FTL engines, then seek to destroy Ashe’s sphere, hopefully bringing the others back to themselves and preventing escape.

Kragg intended to also infiltrate the station on the theory that getting to his lab could enable him to assist the station should the initial plan go awry. I accompanied him. This was good, as his laboratory space was apparently a tactical target, and while they couldn’t get through his traps (and his defending brood of vorcha-lings) they were guarding it. I felt a bit of a twinge killing five of my fellow security officers, but they were compromised. I got Kragg into his lab.

It would seem Drala was successful. Ashe and his controlled underlings got Siala onto the ship, but the ship didn’t get far. I’m given to believe Drala destroyed the sphere and killed Ashe. It would seem that during the mutiny, Dr. Bryson once more fell under Leviathan control, despite the portable resistance device Kragg made for her. Perhaps one of Ashe’s minions arranged to turn it off. She surprised Iris Krayt, nearly killing her. Drala found her, however, and got her necessary aid.

Now that Siala is freed, there will be a necessary period of clean-up and damage control. I will continue to guard Kragg.

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ardhanari

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