You acquire this mission immediately after importing a character or upon generating a new character. You do not get the opportunity to make any changes to your character (e.g.: adding your first name, background and mentality if you are creating a new character, or changing your classes and/or selecting a bonus power if you are importing a character) until after this prologue and a 10-minute cutscene.
This mission, the first one in the game, does not involve much interaction. It is mainly intended to present you with the events that lead to Commander Shepard's disappearance, taking place roughly two years before the events of Mass Effect 2.
Walkthrough EditIllusive Man and Miranda Lawson discussing the outcome of the Battle of the Citadel. If you imported a character from Mass Effect, the conversation will reflect the choice Shepard made regarding whether to save the Citadel Council. If you created a new character for Mass Effect 2, the default decision is that the Council was lost in the course of the battle.
The next scene cuts to the SSV Normandy. In the wake of the attack on the Citadel, led by Sovereign and Saren, the Council has dispatched Normandy to clean up the remaining geth. Shortly after the Normandy emerges in the Amada System of the Omega Nebula, it detects the approach of an unknown ship.
The unknown vessel attacks with a beam weapon that immediately cuts through the Normandy's kinetic barriers and armor, crippling the ship and breaching the hull in several places. Shepard issues an evacuation order, but a squad mate — either Ashley Williams, Kaidan Alenko or Liara T'Soni, depending on romance and Shepard's decision on Virmire or the gender of a new character — tell the Commander that the ship's pilot, Joker is reluctant to leave. After convincing Kaidan/Ashley/Liara to abandon ship with rest of the crew, Shepard must head to the bridge and convince Joker to leave as well.
Note: In the PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2, Liara T'Soni will always be the one to show up for Shepard in this scene, even when importing a save from Mass Effect.
Shepard then carries Joker to the escape pod, securing him inside. Before Shepard can enter the pod, however, the cruiser attacks again, and the resulting blast throws Shepard away from the pod forcing Shepard to eject the pod with only Joker inside, saving Joker's life. Seconds later, a final blast obliterates the Normandy, and the resulting explosion sends Shepard flying into space, where it soon appears Shepard's suit has been damaged and is rapidly leaking air. Shepard struggles for a brief moment before losing consciousness, and is last seen falling toward (or in orbit around) a nearby planet.
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