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Storyline II
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Mass Effect: Retribution

ME Retribution Cover

Abduction

The story begins with the Illusive Man aboard his secret space station, orbiting a star that is near the end of its life. The Illusive Man receives a transmission from Kai Leng, Cerberus' top "wet-work" agent. In the transmission, Leng details how he located Paul Grayson, a former Cerberus Operative who betrayed them three years ago during the events of Mass Effect: Ascension, on the lawless Omega space station in the Terminus Systems. The Illusive Man is pleased by the news and tells Leng to capture Grayson alive, for he needs human subjects for his investigation into Reaper technology recovered from the Collector Base.

Grayson is currently working for Aria T'Loak, the so-called "pirate queen" of Omega. He, his fellow batarian gang member Sanak, and an asari named Liselle, whom he is sleeping with, are at a warehouse completing a job given to them by Aria. The warehouse is owned by the Talons, an up-and-coming gang on Omega, and contains a large quantity of red sand, a powerful and incredibly addictive drug with the interesting side effect of granting humans minor biotic abilities, which the Talons have been selling without giving Aria her required cut. They stash the red sand at Grayson's apartment, since they do not want to bring it into the Afterlife Club, T'Loak's command centre and the most popular nightclub on the station. Sanak and Liselle leave his apartment with Grayson staying behind momentarily, stating he will catch up to them soon. He opens up a comm channel with Kahlee Sanders, who is currently at the Jon Grissom Academy directing the biotic research and education program known as the Ascension Project, and asks her how everything is going with his daughter, currently travelling uncharted space with the quarian fleet. She is glad to talk to him again but slightly put on edge from his sloppy appearance. Grayson is also put on edge by the conversation, though it is revealed that he is always on edge after their calls. After their call ends, Grayson, a former red sand addict, is sorely tempted to 'dust up' but manages to control the urge, reminding himself he is keeping clean for Gillian. He leaves his apartment and heads over to Afterlife, where he meets up with Aria as she is scolding the Talons. She "negotiates" an increase in the required cut she would receive from their drug dealing. The Talons grudgingly accept her new terms and left.

The Talons are not the only problem Grayson has to deal with on Omega though, as Kai Leng has been watching him for days, and has planned out a kidnap attempt. Seeing Grayson leave Afterlife alone sets his plan into motion – he and five other Cerberus operatives begin their strike. They manage to get into Grayson's apartment complex under the guise of going to Grayson's birthday party, even bringing presents along. Each of them brings a concealed tranquilliser gun, since killing Grayson was not part of the plan. However, unknown to them, Grayson had invited Liselle over to his apartment in order to 'replace one addiction with another': a struggle ensues, giving Grayson enough time to attend to his private terminal, and ends with one of the Cerberus operatives dead and both Grayson and Liselle knocked out by stun darts. Leng, a fervent Cerberus xenophobe, enthusiastically finishes off Liselle with his knife by cutting her throat. They haul Grayson out of his apartment, kill the guards outside the apartment complex, and depart Omega, leaving little evidence behind.

The Experiment

Kahlee soon receives a second message from Grayson marked as urgent. The message has a pre-recording of Grayson saying that if she's listening to this, that he must have been captured by Cerberus. The message contains an attachment, which had all of the information Grayson had on Cerberus. Not knowing who she can trust with this data, or if her life was in danger from Cerberus, she turns to David Anderson, a former fellow soldier now turned political aide, for help. They decide they cannot go to the Alliance for help due to undercover Cerberus agents being among the Alliance's ranks. The only viable option they come up with is to ask the turians for help, since Anderson had gotten to know the turian Ambassador Orinia through his recent political negotiations.

When Grayson wakes up, he is strapped hopelessly to an operating chair, with even his mouth bolted down to prevent him from speaking. The Illusive Man is standing near him, and explains what he is about to endure. He reveals that the Reaper technology involves self-replicating nanites and particle entanglement. The nanites would multiply exponentially, quickly taking over his nervous system and eventually spread throughout his entire body. Cerberus injects tubes directly into his skull and release the nanites, prompting the Illusive Man to say that Grayson should no longer be considered human. Grayson wakes up some time later in what resembles a jail cell, only to quickly feel hungry and thirsty from what could have been days of sleep. He rapidly drinks the water that had been placed in his cell, and then promptly ate the food that was also supplied to him. Over time, Grayson starts to experience the beginning phases of the indoctrination, hearing subtle unintelligible whispers inside his head, and as they increase in intensity he wills himself to resist the effects. This carries on for several days, until the Illusive Man is fed up with the lack of progress and injects him with concentrated red sand: the intense high destroys Grayson's resolve and leaves him helpless to the Reapers' influence. As the results present themselves, with the Reapers gaining control even of his motor function, the Illusive Man tells his staff to put Grayson down in 3 days, as he may become too dangerous afterwards.

Rather ironically, merely hours later, a turian squad sent to take out the space station arrived. They, along with several other teams, were sent to take out all the listed facilities that Grayson had sent Kahlee in his final message. The Illusive Man, along with two of his guards, tried to terminate Grayson, but runs into six turian soldiers in the hallway, who quickly eliminate the two guards but themselves are taken out by the timely appearance of Kai Leng. The Illusive Man and Leng abandon the station, with the Illusive Man on edge over letting the Reaper controlled Grayson live.

As soon as the turians secure the station, they begin looking for prisoners, as requested by Kahlee. They only find one: the Reapers, using Grayson as a puppet, persuades the turians that he had been experimented on with red sand and that they should help him. They agree, and bring him aboard their shuttle. As per their reputation, the Reapers attack and kill all the turians aboard the shuttle. Although the Reapers had enhanced Grayson's body to better suit their purposes, he still sustained damage from the attack. The Reapers then change the shuttle's destination and force Grayson to sleep, allowing the healing of his body's various injuries.

The Hunt

Anderson and Kahlee became worried about not only their safety, since they had hit Cerberus hard, but also for Grayson. The turian shuttle had reported rescuing a prisoner, and sent in the retina scan, revealing that Grayson had indeed been on board. However, that shuttle never reported back. Kahlee, along with Anderson and turian escorts, depart to the former Cerberus station. They find various heavily encrypted files detailing their research into Reaper technology and their experiments on Grayson, but are surprised by forces sent by Aria, who was enraged over Grayson's betrayal and Liselle's death (Liselle having been, unbeknownst to all, her daughter) and had been tipped off to his last location by the Illusive Man. The mercs decide to bring Kahlee to Omega and send out a fake distress call to lure Grayson in. The Reapers, who Grayson discovers can now read his mind, decide she is worth investigating due to her work with the Ascension Project, and take the bait. At the ambush, the Reapers are able to eliminate many of the would-be assassins with Grayson's nanite-enhanced reflexes and new biotic abilities while taking minimal damage. They promptly make Grayson escape and without delay have him plot a course to Grissom Academy.

As Kahlee and David also escape the ambush, they run into Kai Leng who offers them a ride off of Omega, pretending that Cerberus could reverse what they had done to Grayson. After they agree, they eventually are able to overpower him while leaving the station and deduce Grayson's next port of call: Jon Grissom Academy.

The End of the Chase

Grayson arrives at Grissom Academy, convincing the docking officials that he was there on invitation from Kahlee. Using a blanket as a cloak to hide his grotesquely changed body, Grayson boarded the station and immediately killed the guards, then made his way towards the lab. Once there, Grayson hacked the terminal and started transmitting Academy data to the Reaper fleet.

Meanwhile, Anderson and Sanders arrive at the academy and spot Grayson's ship. Realising there is no time to lose, the two split up, with Sanders going to find the guards and evacuate all of her students while Anderson heads straight for the labs. Unattended on the ship, Kai Leng manages to set himself free and follow his captors into the Academy, where he manages to secure the help of Nick, a biotic student eager to prove himself.

While wandering through Academy halls, they all face their common foe in turns, none of them managing to get the upper hand. Reaper-Grayson once again proves hard to kill: it was a combined effort that finally took the avatar down, with Anderson landing a couple of shotgun shots and Leng finishing the job with a pistol.

In the aftermath, Anderson was unable to simply take Kai Leng as a prisoner; Leng refused to apply pressure to severe wounds Nick had sustained, stating that Anderson must choose between imprisoning him and saving the boy. Anderson chooses the third option and the inevitable shootout between Anderson and Kai Leng is resolved when Anderson immobilizes Leng with a pistol shot to each leg before helping Kahlee save Nick. Although crippled, Leng still manages to escape the Academy and contact the Illusive Man, the Cerberus leader grudgingly accepting the resolution of this catastrophe.

Eventually, everyone in Grissom Academy recovers, including Nick and Anderson. Anderson declared his intent to study Grayson's remains, and asked Sanders to join his research team. Finally, Sanders and Anderson share a kiss.

Epilogue

The Illusive Man decided that Cerberus may yet profit from Anderson's independent research into Reapers. But he was not about to give up his own research efforts. To secure a deal with Aria he payed her a hefty sum for databanks she recovered from his overrun station, at the same time allowing her to keep her own copies.

For he knew that the Reapers will be coming – the more groups to study them, the better.

Mass Effect: Inquisition

A briefing for Bailey
In 2186 on the Citadel, Captain Bailey of Citadel Security Services talks with his child, reassuring him that he will be back on Earth in time for the Salmon Run. After the call, Bailey receives a message from Councilor Udina asking him to come by his office as soon as possible. At Udina's office in the Presidium, Udina informs Bailey that C-Sec has been compromised and is working to undermine the Citadel Council. Udina charges Bailey with personally investigating the involvement of Executor Pallin, who has been spotted at a building in Bailey's precinct.

At the building, Bailey discovers two dead C-Sec officers. One holds a datapad with an image of Pallin's face displayed on it. Pallin appears and demands at gunpoint that Bailey hand over the datapad. Bailey confronts Pallin with Udina's accusations, but Pallin denies them and warns that Udina cannot be trusted. Bailey notes that Udina said the same of Pallin, and that it is Pallin's picture on the datapad the dead officer was holding. When Bailey tells Pallin to give his story to the officers who will arrest him, Pallin becomes enraged and shoots at Bailey, hitting him in the shoulder. Bailey returns fire and wounds Pallin in the chest. Pallin then tackles Bailey, but is fatally shot.

Bailey retrieves the datapad but wonders why Pallin didn't kill him when he had the chance, and why Pallin's actions were so uncharacteristically sloppy. Bailey reports his findings and suspicions to Udina, who dismisses Pallin's behavior as another indication of his guilt, a detail for the investigators to look into. Udina promotes Bailey to Commander, telling him to get some rest and to report his findings to the Council. Bailey gazes over the Presidium, dismayed that his new duties would mean canceling his return to Earth.

Mass Effect: Deception

Note: This section features material from the first edition of Mass Effect: Deception, which BioWare has acknowledged contains discrepancies with other Mass Effect lore. Once revised editions of the book are released, this section will be updated.

Mass Effect Deception

Cerberus assassin Kai Leng journeys to the ancient city of Thondu on the batarian homeworld of Khar'shan to retrieve an item in an auction of rare goods and artifacts. The item in question is the design for a DNA-specific bio-weapon tailored to target the Illusive Man, the leader of Cerberus, and which could potentially affect thousands of people distantly related to him. Leng snatches the design and makes his escape.

On the Citadel, David Anderson, Kahlee Sanders, and Nick Donahue prepare to speak to the Citadel Council about Paul Grayson's attack on the Grissom Academy. At the Citadel Tower, Anderson and Sanders inform the Council of the Reapers' involvement, but the Councilors are unconvinced and prefer to argue that Grayson was acting on behalf of Cerberus, even after they are shown Grayson's Reaper-mutated corpse. Anderson and Sanders are told to continue their investigation. After the presentation, they find that Nick has disappeared. They go to The Cube, a gym for biotics, to see if he had gone there early, but no luck. A volus attendant at The Cube directs them to Ocosta Lem and Arrius Sallus, a salarian and a turian that Nick had been seen with on earlier visits. Lem and Sallus's address turns out to be fake, and Anderson and Sanders come to conclusion that Nick is missing.

Kai Leng meets with the Illusive Man on an abandoned mining world in the Crescent Nebula. The Illusive Man orders Leng to steal Paul Grayson's body and begin observing Anderson and Sanders; their recent activities on the Citadel have drawn unwelcome attention to Cerberus.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, the batarian slave ship Glory of Khar'shan attacks the quarian ship Idenna, carrying Gillian Grayson and Hendel Mitra, who are part of the ship's security team. When the batarians disable the Idenna's drives and board it, Gillian and Mitra help defend the ship. With Gillian's help, the quarians gain the upper hand and charge onto the Glory of Khar'shan. One of the ship's freed slaves is Hal McCann, a former Cerberus operative who worked on the space station where Paul Grayson had been experimented on with Reaper technology. McCann keeps this fact to himself, but does tell Gillian that her father had been killed and persuades her that information on who killed her father could be found on the Citadel. Deciding to track down her father's killer, Gillian commandeers the Glory of Khar'shan and brings Mitra and McCann with her.

Anderson and Sanders find a message from Nick at their apartment. Nick explains that he left to join a group known as the Biotic Underground that advocates biotic supremacy over all of the galaxy's races. Anderson uses contacts in C-Sec to dig up info on where Nick had gone. Videos show Nick leaving with Ocosta Lem and Arrius Sallus, members of the Biotic Underground.

Mass Effect: Conviction

Days after the events of Arrival, the galaxy is in turmoil over Commander Shepard's alleged actions. While the Citadel Council denounces the Commander and Councilor Udina deflects blame from the Systems Alliance, the Batarian Hegemony calls for retribution for the apparent terrorist acts.

James will kick some batarians
On Omega, Alliance soldier James Vega plays cards in a bar as he watches a newscast about the uproar. Without warning, he rips the screen from the wall, offering to pay the krogan bartender for the damages. The batarians Vega was playing cards with become confrontational and accuse him of being a "Shepard Lover". Vega tries to calm them down, but they charge him. He bashes one batarian over the head with the screen, then rushes the leader of another group, both of them crashing through a window. The rest of the batarians surround Vega and attack.

The fight is interrupted by the arrival of Admiral Anderson and a contingent of soldiers. Anderson informs Vega that he is being brought in for more training. As they board an aircar, Anderson tells Vega that he must get past "the incident on Fehl" and "be the soldier we expect of you". Vega argues, demanding that Anderson throw him in the brig as they approach the Normandy SR-2. Anderson then explains that Vega will actually be guarding the brig, and one special prisoner: Commander Shepard.

Mass Effect: Invasion

Attack on Omega

Omega is attacked by Adjutants

Following the conclusion of Mass Effect 2, the human-survivalist organization Cerberus began establishing a series of bases beyond the Omega 4 Relay to carry out experiments on the Collectors' technology. Although relations between Cerberus and Aria T'Loak, the Pirate Queen of Omega, were damaged during the events of Mass Effect: Retribution, Aria has continued to permit Cerberus the use of Omega as a supply hub for their operations. Mass Effect: Invasion opens as a group of thugs prepare to raid a Cerberus transport ship that recently landed on the station from the fabled relay. Without warning, strange creatures emerge from the ship and attack everyone in sight. The creatures make their way to the Afterlife Club, where Aria's assistant Anto and several mercenaries attempt to fend them off. Just as the creatures overwhelm the mercs and one moves in to kill Anto, Aria arrives. With her help, the mercs drive away the creatures, but they are then informed more transports from the Omega-4 relay are incoming.

Cerberus arrives on Omega to deal with Adjutants

Ships bearing Cerberus identification tags enter the area through another mass relay. At first, fearing more creatures, Aria tells Anto to activate Omega's defenses, but realizes that the new ships are attacking the transports. The lead ship makes contact with Omega Control and is identified as the Elbrus, commanded by General Oleg Petrovsky. As the Elbrus continues sweeping up the Cerberus transports, Aria questions how the ship arrived so quickly, confiding in Anto that something felt wrong. Just as she returns to Afterlife to call the Illusive Man, Anto exclaims that the Illusive Man is already calling her.

The Illusive Man shows Aria security footage of the creatures, called Adjutants, escaping captivity within a Cerberus base and escaping on personnel shuttles. He explains that all of Cerberus' research bases beyond the Omega-4 relay have gone silent, which is why he sent the Elbrus to help Aria out. Aria accuses him of tampering with Reaper technology, but he defends the action as necessary to understand the Reapers and reveals that more Adjutants will be on their way once they learn to control Cerberus' better-armed ships. Aria's fight is the Illusive Man's fight, too.

Later, Aria encounters Petrovsky and a Colonel Ashe killing a badly-wounded turian and collecting something from the body. Aria is alarmed, but then notices a salarian corpse transforming into an Adjutant. Aria and Petrovsky take it out; newly-transformed Adjutants are weaker, needing more time to rewrite the genetic code of their bodies. Ashe begins ordering Aria's mercs to finish the cleanup, to "Follow Cerberus' lead - and live!" Aria hits Ashe with a biotic attack, enraged that a Cerberus agent would dare give orders to her men. Petrovksy intervenes and says that with more ships on the way to Omega, the Elbrus will do what it can to stave them off, but help from Aria would be appreciated until Cerberus reinforcements arrive.

Aria musters several ships to back up the Elbrus, where she and Petrovsky oversee their makeshift fleet. Colonel Ashe has been locked up by Aria for his insubordination, and is under guard back on Omega. Aria, who has heard of Petrovsky's efforts in the First Contact War, questions how he plans to use those strategies in the coming battle. Petrovsky reassures her that their tactics must be useful since the original formulators had lived to make them.

Colonel Ashe escapes

Back on the space station, a krogan and two turians guard Colonel Ashe and mock him for defying Aria. Ashe tells them that he's right where he needs to be, and without warning attacks the guards and kills them all. Ashe picks up an assault rifle and communication headset and contacts the Illusive Man, revealing that he's ready to start the real battle for Omega.

Betrayals

Defending Omega 4 Relay

Aria and General Petrovsky lead Omega's defense forces against the Adjutant ships. At first the battle goes smoothly because the Adjutant ships do not return fire. The Adjutants have yet to master the controls and use the weapons. This doesn't last for long, as one ship manages to fire on the Elbrus. Many more quickly follow suit and the Elbrus takes considerable damage. Aria points out that losing their ships is an acceptable loss when weighed against the millions of lives aboard Omega. She suggests closing the Omega 4 Relay to prevent any more Adjutants from entering the system; Petrovsky points out the relays are impenetrable and cannot be disabled, and laying mines around the relay to destroy ships that arrive through it would take far too long. Above all, the Illusive Man would forbid such an action, as Cerberus still has a vested interest in its Reaper research. Aria begins to argue, but the Elbrus takes another hit. Petrovsky realizes that the only place they can retreat to now is the relay, where they can escape to the center of the galaxy and possibly stop the source of the problem. The Adjutants won't follow them because they are intent only on advancing on Omega to transform its population into more Adjutants.

Anto defends Omega

In Omega Control, Anto Korragan learns that Aria's ship has left the system. Knowing that Aria would never abandon Omega, he assumes that she is either dead or an Adjutant, and begins forming plans to take over as Omega's leader. In the shadows, the escaped Colonel Ashe listens in.

The Elbrus arrives at Avernus Station, a Cerberus research base almost overrun by the Adjutants. A handful of surviving Cerberus personnel flee to the station's exterior, hoping the area's intense radiation would deter the attackers, but to no avail. The Elbrus' guns take out the Adjutants just in time, and the ship docks with the station's north spoke, the only wing that hasn't been compromised.

Inside the Avernus Station

Aria, Petrovsky, and the Cerberus personnel investigate the base and discover a survivor, Gabone, an assistant administrator. Gabone explained that when the scientists had begun studying a live Adjutant specimen, it "whispered" to them. Petrovsky suspects this was a method of indoctrination and prepares to execute Gabone in case he had already been affected, but a group of Adjutants break down the doors into the room. While Aria and the Cerberus operatives are distracted, Gabone transforms into an Adjutant and lunges toward Aria. Petrovsky intervenes and kills it: Aria then uses her biotics to obliterate the other Adjutants, but the effort causes her to pass out. Petrovsky orders his men to contact the Illusive Man to inform him that Avernus Station is now secure.

Back on Omega, Cerberus reinforcements finally arrive and set upon the Adjutant ships. Anto heads to Omega Control to find out why he, Omega's soon-to-be new leader, was not informed that Cerberus had arrived: en route Colonel Ashe appears, shooting Anto's guards and running past him. By the time Anto reaches Omega Control, everyone inside is dead.

Cerberus is taking Omega

Aria awakens on the Elbrus, still docked with Avernus Station. Biotic dampeners have been fitted around her hands. Petrovsky explains to her that the strategic situation has changed; Aria will be a "guest" on the Elbrus until further notice. He plays a recording that the Illusive Man had sent earlier when he was about to send his message. In it, Colonel Ashe speaks to the people of Omega, saying that due to the Adjutant crisis, Cerberus has decided that control of the station is vital to protecting the galaxy from the Reapers. He reveals that to institute an orderly transition of power, he has disabled Omega Control and the station's defenses, and Cerberus has eliminated all of Omega's remaining defenders. Ashe commands everyone to submit to Cerberus immediately or suffer the consequences.

Cerberus Strikes

A fight in the landing bay

Colonel Ashe leads a squad of Cerberus operatives through Omega to secure landing bays for troop transports. They encounter Blue Suns, Eclipse, and Blood Pack mercenaries battling it out in the streets. Ashe questions a nearby batarian who explains that without Aria to maintain the peace, all of Omega's factions are vying for control of the station. When asked if anyone heard Ashe's announcement, the batarian says that everyone thinks Cerberus is there to clean up the Reaper mess since no one understands why Cerberus would want Omega. Ashe notes that the Illusive Man had anticipated only a narrow window for Cerberus to act before Omega's inhabitants organized a resistance, and this gang conflict has given them a little more time. Furthermore, Aria is the only person who could lead such a resistance, and Ashe is confident she won't be coming back.

Aria is escaping

On the Elbrus, still stationed near Avernus Station, Aria groggily awakens and finds herself in a new restraining device. General Petrovsky, reading the famous novel "War and Peace", greets her and apologizes for the restraints, saying that they were necessary because Aria kept trying to escape and the design is intended to disorient her. Petrovsky tells her that she has been out long enough for the Adjutants to be mopped up both at Avernus Station and Omega. He explains that center of the galaxy is one of its safest places, and controlling it and protecting humanity necessitates controlling Omega. Aria realizes the Adjutants getting loose wasn't a mistake, that their rampage across Avernus Station and Omega was part of the Illusive Man's plan all along. Their discussion is interrupted and the general is called to the ship's bridge to receive a message from the Illusive Man. Before he goes, Petrovsky orders a mental inhibitor be used on Aria to prevent her from using any biotic powers that don't require her hands.

The Illusive Man informs General Petrovsky that capturing Omega was a contingency plan activated after Aria was distracted by the sudden Adjutant threat. Since the source of the Adjutants has been reclaimed, Petrovsky is needed back on Omega to head Cerberus' operation. Shaken by Aria's Aria's suggestion that the disaster was a sham to allow Cerberus to conquer Omega, he pointedly remarks, that it must be impossible as the Illusive Man would "never endanger so many of our people just for the sake of a diversion..." The Illusive Man responds, "Time and Patience, Oleg", echoing part of a passage of "War and Peace" that the general had been reading to Aria earlier. He tells Petrovsky to transfer Aria to a research station before reaching the mass relay and ends the transmission.

Aria is free

Petrovsky is then called into a corridor by a Cerberus operative, but finds a freed Aria holding the disarmed operative and standing in front of several other incapacitated operatives lying on the floor. She hits the general with a biotic attack and sends him reeling. While Aria flings two crewmen into the air, he grabs a pistol and takes aim, but she counters with kicks to his torso and head, and knocks him out.

Gangs fighting each others

Gang fighting continues on Omega. Anto, who has been unsuccessfully head a resistance by uniting the gangs, realises any such effort is futile with Aria gone. Colonel Ashe appears with more Cerberus troops who open fire on the battling gangs. Anto and the mercenaries retreat to Afterlife, and Ashe orders a team sent after them. An operative informs Ashe that the Elbrus has returned and General Petrovsky wishes to speak with him. Taking a handset, Ashe tells Petrovsky that he is already securing their first sector in Omega and there was no need for the general to come. Petrovsky reminds Ashe that he is command of Cerberus' forces there and confirms that he will arrive shortly to "storm the fortress - just like Anticlus at Troy."

After he cuts the transmission, Aria praises the general for being so willing to follow others' directions. Petrovsky retorts that he is only cooperating because Aria threatened to space the Elbrus' troop compartment and he doesn't want any more people to die needlessly. Aria points out that he isn't concerned about the deaths of her people on Omega. They argue further as the Elbrus docks with Omega and Aria leads Petrovsky at gunpoint through the boarding ramp. As Aria prepares to kill Petrovsky, the doors open to reveal Colonel Ashe and several Cerberus soldiers waiting. Petrovsky knocks Aria out of the way of incoming fire, giving her the chance to escape. The general scolds Ashe for nearly killing him too and asks if Ashe even understood the reference to Anticlus in his message, which meant that the Elbrus had been compromised and he couldn't talk. Ashe dismisses the accusation. The message was the reason why Ashe had a team ready, he couldn't forget Petrovsky's constant historical speeches and recognized his code. Petrovsky orders Ashe to deploy all Cerberus forces on Omega to hunt down Aria T'Loak and secure the station once and for all.

Anto watches the exchange on a monitor and turns to face a room full of mercenaries. He tells them that Cerberus will take over Omega if they don't stop fighting amongst themselves. A krogan responds that Anto can't run a revolution; the only person the mercenaries would willingly follow is Aria, and Cerberus knows that. At that, Aria makes her presence known and announces a "little job" she wants everyone in on. She says that if Cerberus wants Omega, "they'll have to take it over our dead bodies!"

The Battle for Omega

Counter attack on Omega

While attacking a Blue Suns hideout on Omega, General Petrovsky's Cerberus soldiers face stiff resistance from an unpredictable enemy. As Blood Pack varren and Eclipse YMIR Mechs stymie the Cerberus troops, they realize the entire hideout has been mined. The mines explode and the squad is lost. Colonel Ashe calls in another team to sweep the area for traps, but is reprimanded by Petrovsky, who asserts that a true soldier would send in medics to aid the wounded first. Ashe retorts that Petrovsky is at fault for the worsening situation because he brought Aria back to Omega. The station's gangs have united under her and Cerberus has been denied an easy victory. As Ashe suggests that the Illusive Man should replace the General, Blue Suns troops emerge from the ventilation tunnels and attack. Ashe and Petrovsky cut them down. Petrovsky surmises that Aria is headquartered somewhere in the station's endless slums, allowing her forces to strike anywhere. She could hold out against the Cerberus invasion indefinitely, but the General knows that as long as the battle rages, no one profits from Omega. To flush her out of hiding, Petrovsky proposes giving her what she wants: victory.

Deep in Omega's slums, Aria and her mercenary allies notice Cerberus forces pulling back. She pounces on one unlucky trooper and interrogates him. It turns out Cerberus isn't retreating: the Adjutants are loose in Cerberus's bases again and all operatives on Omega have been recalled by General Petrovsky to contain them. Petrovsky has declared Omega an open city under Aria's rule once again. Later, Anto confirms that most Cerberus ships have left aside from a few civilians and support ships. Aria suspects a trap and decides to beat Petrovsky at his own game by capturing him and using him as a bargaining chip to force negotiations with the Illusive Man.

Aria's group spies on Petrovsky, Ashe, and several humans, all adorned with armor from Omega's gangs as per the General's "false-flag" scheme. A group of aliens in heavy robes approach the humans claiming that the plague has broken out again in the Gozu District. Without warning they discard their robes and use concealed weapons to open fire on the Cerberus operatives. In the commotion, Aria makes a run for the Afterlife Club, her main stronghold. Believing Petrovsky's plan to have failed, Ashe notifies a standby team to activate option "Omega-Two". The General balks at the idea of using explosives in an area populated with civilians, but Ashe pulls a gun on him and reveals that explosives aren't part of the plan at all. In the battle-damaged Afterlife Club, Aria orders Anto to contact the Illusive Man. When he doesn't respond, she ascends to her booth and finds an Adjutant killing Anto.

Anto's death

Outside, Ashe explains to Petrovsky that they placed an Adjutant in stasis during the earlier mop-up operation. While Petrovsky focused on his false-flag plan, Ashe's own men moved the stasis pod into Afterlife and Ashe remotely freed the Adjutant. Petrovsky is livid that Ashe would put the entire station in danger with such a dangerous plan, but Ashe considers the potential casualties to be acceptable losses. They begin to fight, but the Adjutant is suddenly hurled through Afterlife's front doors and knocks the two men down. An enraged Aria emerges, roaring at them to leave her station. Ashe raises his gun to shoot her, but the Adjutant strikes him first. Aria spears it with a biotic blast. A transforming Ashe asks Petrovsky what he will do. The General responds that he will do what he is sworn to do: protect his troops. He shoots Ashe point-blank in the head. As Aria advances toward him, Petrovsky warns her that his ruse wasn't the only reason he evacuated Cerberus forces from Omega. A Cerberus fleet waits outside the station with enough firepower to destroy it level by level. If Cerberus can't have Omega, Petrovsky won't allow anyone else to use it against Cerberus. He promises to evacuate Omega's civilians before the barrage, but will only spare Omega if Aria surrenders it. Aria concedes and leaves.

Cerberus has taken Omega

Sometime later, General Petrovsky contacts the Illusive Man to inform him that Omega has been secured for Cerberus. He reports that Aria T'Loak is likely dead, possibly one of the Adjutant corpses found in Afterlife, and Colonel Raymond Ashe is missing and presumed dead as well. When Petrovsky expresses his hope that Cerberus's victory over Omega will ultimately result in the loss of fewer of his soldiers' lives, the Illusive Man pauses briefly before smiling and answering, "Of course". A lieutenant informs Petrovsky that there is no sign of Aria on the station and claims she must have run away like a coward. Petrovsky disagrees, pointing out that he had threatened the one thing Aria had cared about, her station, and she had given it up because she knew that Petrovsky would destroy it. As he gazes out a window, he predicts that one day, Aria would return. Meanwhile, Aria looks on Omega one more time from a small transport before turning away and flying off.

Mass Effect: Infiltrator

The Target

The Ice Giant

In 2186, Cerberus maintains a remote research space station known as the Barn near the desert planet LV426. Run by the enigmatic Director, the purpose of the Barn is to carry out experiments on humans, asari, krogan, and turians involving Reaper technology in order to enhance the performance of weapons and biotics. The Director sends Cerberus operatives across the galaxy to gather new test subjects.

One such operative, infiltrator Randall Ezno, is deployed to capture a high value turian target. Guided by his handler and technician, Inali Renata, Randall is also field testing a set of implants that grant him biotic capabilities during the mission. He arrives on an ice planet and encounters numerous geth troops. Fighting his way past them, Randall locates the turian, captures him, and return with his prey to the Barn.

Betrayal

Randall arrives on the Barn

At the space station, Randall heads for Inali's office. Suddenly, the station is attacked and boarded by a unit of turian soldiers sent by the Turian Hierarchy to wrest the facility from Cerberus. Randall aids Cerberus security forces in repelling the turian assault. During the fight, communication between Randall and Inali is inexplicably cut off. Randall reaches the medical bay and finds Inali's office to be empty. The Director speaks to Randall via intercom and explains that Inali has volunteered to participate in a new, classified experiment, then asks Randall to rest and prepare for his next mission.

Randall is then contacted by a volus working with the Systems Alliance. He informs Randall that he is a friend of Inali and that she is in danger. Moving deeper into the facility, Randall discovers Inali strapped to a table in a lab, with mechanical arms dissecting her. The Director reveals the purpose of the experiment to Randall. The biotic implants given to Randall were designed to indoctrinate him, but he adapted to them much faster than other Cerberus operatives and the indoctrination process failed. Cerberus now has to develop new, more powerful implants, which Inali is being forced to test. Outraged, Randall vows revenge and begins a search for the Director, who orders the Barn's other Cerberus personnel to stop him.

Rogue Operative

The volus asks Randall to join him in the medical bay, where he tells Randall that if he can escape the facility and contact the Alliance, Inali can be saved. Tasking Randall with aiding the other aliens imprisoned in the facility, the volus then hacks UDI, the Barn's AI, and unlocks the containment cells, freeing the test subjects in order to distract the Cerberus personnel while Randall makes his escape. The Barn quickly becomes a war zone as the former prisoners revolt against their Cerberus captors.

At that moment, the turian who Randall captured on the ice planet is also released. He manages to fight through Cerberus troops and other hostile test subjects, and eventually reaches a large, empty room. Upon moving to the far wall, he sees the Director and several Cerberus personnel on the other side of a window. The Director laughs at the turian as a turret deploys in the room. With no available cover, the unnamed turian is killed.

Randall sending a message to the Alliance

Meanwhile, Randall slowly makes his way toward the Barn's communications tower, fighting Cerberus troops, aliens test subjects, and X1, a massive, mutant krogan. At the communications tower, Randall successfully signals the Alliance and arranges a pickup on LV426. Randall next begins searching for a shuttle to steal so he can get to the rendezvous.

Unfortunately, Randall's activation of the communication relay attracts the geth to the station. Several geth dropships arrive and deploy a large geth force. On his way to the hangar bay, where Randall can take the shuttle, geth troops oppose him in addition to the remaining Cerberus personnel and their former prisoners. As Randall activates the shuttle, the volus contacts one last time, telling him to find the Alliance and return to the Barn to save him and Inali.

Vowing Revenge

Inali is dying

Arriving at a Cerberus outpost on the surface of LV426, Randall is trapped by the Director, who wants to dispose of the rogue Cerberus operative. Randall is forced to fight Inali, who has been heavily modified with Reaper technology and is being controlled by the Director. Randall defeats Inali, and either spares her or ends her life. He then vows to take revenge on Cerberus and kill the Director for harming his friend. Randall leaves the planet to fulfill his promise, and provides valuable intel on Cerberus operations to the Systems Alliance.

Mass Effect: Homeworlds #4

Liara is looking for a solution against the Reapers
Having become the new Shadow Broker, Liara T'Soni struggles to find a way to stop the impending threat of the Reapers. Even with the vast resources now at her disposal, she worries that she will not be able to help. Liara contacts Admiral Hackett and informs him that she plans to continue seeking a solution from the Protheans and will start her search at Thessia. Unbeknownst to them, the Illusive Man watches the conversation from his lair.

At Thessia, Liara meets with a former colleague, Doctor Passante, who covertly brings Liara to a Prothean archive. Passante suggests that Liara should return to Thessia permanently and become a teacher; Liara agrees that sometimes all she can think about is coming back home, that it would be easier than her current life. Upon examining the archive, Liara is disappointed to learn how little it contains. Passante brings up rumors that Liara has been selling information on the black market and warns Liara that her passions may consume her in the same way they did Matriarch Benezia and lead to her death. Liara reassures Passante that she won't let that happen and asks Passante to trust the person she knew Liara to be. Passante suggests Liara investigates the Prothean ruins on Kahje and gives Liara her blessing.

Liara travels to one of the drell's domed cities on Kahje's surface and meets with a hanar official to discuss gaining access to a Prothean site. The official turns her down and explains that the site, a hanar shrine, is not open to visitors. Liara reiterates that her mission is scientific and not merely tourism, but the hanar directs her to other Prothean sites. Resorting to bribery, Liara implies that her organization might be willing to make a significant contribution to the upcoming Cresting Bloom holiday celebrations. The official's assistant, a drell named Quoyle, comes to Liara's aid and reasons that since generosity is an Enkindler virtue, Liara should be allowed to briefly visit the shrine if her contribution is generous enough. Liara says she cannot imagine what size of contribution could ever be compensation for a such a privilege; after a pause, the official offers to help her imagine that number.

Liara and Quoyle on Khaje
Quoyle takes Liara to the shrine, reminding her that if she tries to pull anything, he'll shoot her himself. Suddenly, Quoyle's craft is the target of a swarm of torpedoes launched by the shrine's defenses. Quoyle attempts to contact the shrine to call off the attack, but no one responds; in the shrine's control room, its drell staff lay dead while a Cerberus Phantom watches Quoyle and Liara's predicament on a viewscreen. Quoyle's craft is hit and begins taking on water, but Liara uses her biotics to push the water out and keep the craft in a bubble of air. Quoyle guides the craft to the shrine and compliments Liara on her powerful biotic display.

Once in the shrine, Liara and Quoyle discover the dead staff. They are attacked by the Phantom, who slashes Quoyle in the chest and incapacitates him. Liara fends off the Phantom with her biotics and kills her by driving a shard of debris through her head. Quoyle, wounded but alive, tells Liara to head to the archive room without him since he has seen it all before.

Searching the Prothean archives, Liara discovers encryption keys that unlock archives at three other sites. The first site is at an unknown location and the second was erased, but Liara recognizes the third. The Illusive Man then appears via hologram and greets Liara. He denies that he sent a Phantom to Kahje, blaming the attack on rogue Cerberus members, and asks Liara to trust him and work together to stop the Reapers. Liara agrees that this might be a mutually beneficial move, and asks the Illusive Man to share his information on stopping the Reapers first. When the Illusive Man doesn't respond, Liara surmises that he either wants to keep his information to himself or he doesn't have any.

As Liara leaves, the Illusive Man begins to taunt her, questioning her ability to run the Shadow Broker organization, and implying that black market sources think the Broker has become soft and vulnerable to usurpation. He asserts that Liara needs him. Liara counters by pointing out that he is the one trying to make a deal and tells him to send an army the next time he tries to kill her, then cuts the link.

As Liara helps Quoyle to the shrine's shuttle bay, Admiral Hackett contacts her and asks for an update. Liara explains that what she found isn't the solution she was looking for, but it might still be a viable lead. She asks Hackett for help gaining access to a top-secret facility on Mars.

Mass Effect 3

Return of the Reapers

Earth under attack
Six months have passed since the destruction of Bahak and Commander Shepard's voluntary return to the Alliance. The Commander has been relieved of command and detained in a Systems Alliance facility in the city of Vancouver on Earth. Without warning, Alliance deep space outposts beyond Sol begin to go dark. Admiral Steven Hackett, the head of the Alliance military, begins to prepare for an imminent invasion. Admiral David Anderson arrives in Vancouver and escorts Commander Shepard with Lieutenant James Vega to a meeting with an Alliance defense committee. Shepard confirms their worst fears: the Reapers have returned to the galaxy and are on their way to Earth.

At that moment, contact is lost with Luna Base and news reports begin to surface of an unknown alien force landing in Earth's cities. The Reapers have already arrived. A Reaper capital ship then descends through the clouds over Vancouver and blasts the Alliance building, killing the defense committee and Alliance staff. Shepard and Anderson survive and contact Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko (whichever survived Virmire), telling them to get to the Normandy.

As Shepard and Anderson make their way from building to building to get to the spaceport, Anderson tells Shepard that they have to get to the Citadel and seek help from the Council. They reach a comm set near a crashed gunship and hail the Normandy to evacuate. After holding off an attack from Cannibals, the Normandy bombs the area clear of attackers. As Shepard boards the ship, Anderson informs the Commander that he will stay behind to lead the resistance, and hands over Shepard's dog tags. Shepard protests, but Anderson charges Shepard with getting as much help as possible to save Earth and stop the Reapers.

As the Normandy lifts off, Shepard witnesses a child running to an Alliance evacuation area and boarding a shuttle. As the shuttles lifts off, a Reaper destroyer emerges from behind a cluster of buildings and targets the shuttles, killing those who were aboard including the child. Distraught, Shepard steps away from the open shuttle bay doors of the Normandy, and the ship escapes Earth as more Reapers and the wreckage of Alliance ships rain down upon the planet.

The Prothean Archives

Marsbase
Shortly after escaping Earth, Shepard receives a communication from Admiral Steven Hackett, ordering the commander to the Prothean Archives on Mars, where humanity first discovered mass effect technology. Hackett insists that Liara T'Soni has found there what may be the only way to defeat the Reapers.

Upon arrival, Shepard, James and the Virmire survivor take the shuttle down to the planet, receiving a warning from EDI that the base is not responding. They soon discover the reason why upon witnessing Cerberus soldiers executing Alliance personnel; the group fight their way through the enemy, inferring from the small size of the Cerberus force that they must have had help from the inside. Ashley/Kaidan is also surprised Shepard is unaware of this, given their past association with Cerberus, and is unwilling to believe they cut ties with the extremist organisation following their defeat of the Collectors.

Mars - liara pointing + james
After entering the station and arriving in time to witness Liara biotically overpower and execute her pursuers, Liara explains why Hackett sent them to find her; she has found in the Archives blueprints for a Prothean device that might allow them to turn the tide against the Reapers. Unfortunately, Cerberus has learned of it too, and now they must hurry to recover the necessary information before Cerberus can.

Sending James back to the shuttle to secure their escape route and prevent Cerberus from doing so, Shepard, the Virmire survivor and Liara fight their way through the station to the main Archive, discovering along the way the identity of the traitor in the station: Dr. Eva Coré, supposedly a recently arrived researcher, but in truth a mole who sabotaged the station's defences to allow Cerberus entry.

TIM holo, pointing cigar
Reaching the Prothean Beacon at the heart of the Archives, the Illusive Man contacts them by hologram, mocking the Alliance for failing to take advantage of the wealth of information the Protheans left behind and commenting that Shepard is fighting a losing battle. He also explains his new motivation: to find a way to control the Reapers and thus use their power to advance humanity to a new level of evolution and above the other races. Deriding the Illusive Man's plan as madness, Shepard vows to use the information to destroy the Reapers and dismisses the Illusive Man's warning not to interfere in Cerberus's plans.

The group then encounter Dr. Coré, who had been trying to upload information on the Prothean device, but her upload is interrupted by the squad and she tries to flee. Although Coré is able to reach a Cerberus shuttle, James disables it with a kamikaze attack before it can escape, having also alerted the Normandy to extract the squad. Coré, revealed to be an android by the explosion, emerges from the wreckage and attacks, critically injuring the Virmire survivor before being disabled by Shepard. The Normandy arrives to extract the team just as Reaper forces begin landing on Mars.

Having escaped Mars, Shepard forwards information on the Prothean device to Hackett, orders Liara and EDI to begin extracting intel from the android and orders the Normandy to the Citadel.

Uniting the Galaxy

Udina facepalm
Upon arrival at the Citadel, Ashley/Kaidan is taken for medical treatment at the nearest hospital and Shepard conveyed to a meeting with the Council. Despite Udina's insistence that Earth is bearing the brunt of the attack and needs the most help, the asari Councillor succinctly sums up their view: while the Reapers focus on Earth, the other races have time to regroup and build up their own defenses. The Council is also unimpressed by the Prothean device, insisting it must be flawed as it failed to save the Protheans from extinction at the hands of the Reapers, but Liara explains that a missing component referred to as "the Catalyst" prevented its completion. All is not entirely lost for Earth, however: the salarian Councillor informs Shepard of a war summit they are convening to properly organise their strategy against the Reapers, and that whatever the summit decides will give the final word on the deployment of Council forces.

Upon departing the meeting, Shepard and Udina are met in the human Councillor's office by the turian Councillor, who explains that Palaven's ruler, Primarch Fedorian, was to head the war summit, but didn't escape the system before the Reapers arrived. He requests that the Normandy extract him from his current location on Palaven's moon Menae, explaining that Fedorian will be a useful ally in accruing support for Earth. Before leaving, the Councillor informs Shepard that the Council has agreed to uphold/reinstate their Spectre status, granting them the benefits of the position.

The Normandy enters the turian home system to find Palaven and Menae under heavy attack by the Reapers, with the turian military under immense pressure and taking heavy losses. Upon landing on the moon at a turian base, Shepard learns from the commanding officer that Primarch Fedorian is dead, having been killed an hour before Shepard's arrival and they have no idea who has succeeded him because their communications with Palaven Command have been cut. Fighting through swarms of Husks to the comm tower and repairing it, the group soon learn that General Adrien Victus, a popular military commander with "a reputation for playing loose with strategy", has been named as Palaven's next Primarch; however, he is fighting at a base several miles away, with which radio contact has been lost. At the same time, Shepard receives a message from Joker that EDI and the Normandy are acting strangely; either Liara returns to investigate and Garrus Vakarian, now named strategic advisor to the turian army, greets Shepard fills her spot to lead them to Victus' position - if Garrus died in the suicide mission, Shepard and Vega continue alone.

VictusMenae
Fighting their way through Reaper forces, Shepard and company arrive at the base and after helping Victus and his soldiers defeat their attackers, relay the news to the General that he is the newest leader of his people. Victus is doubtful about his ability to lead, claiming to be no diplomat and unwilling to leave his men, but he reluctantly agrees to accompany Shepard to the summit. He insists he can't divert troops to Earth until Palaven can be secured, something beyond the turian military's ability to do now. The turians will need reinforcements, namely the krogan, to succeed, and Victus insists they will have to be at the summit.

Upon returning to the Normandy, Shepard and the crew discover the earlier power fluctuations were caused by EDI implanting herself in Eva's body, a process which has completed successfully and given EDI more options, namely the ability to leave the Normandy and accompany Shepard into combat. Soon after, Shepard receives words from Admiral Hackett that Alliance Research and Development has begun construction of the Prothean device, dubbing it "Project Crucible".

Aiding the Krogan

Normandy - victus and linron
The decision to involve the krogan in proceedings causes major problems; the asari pull out of the summit altogether, believing turian-krogan relations too fragile for anything to be accomplished. A diplomatic meeting is held between Shepard, Primarch Victus, Dalatrass Linron, the leader of the Salarian Union, and the clan chief of the krogan, either Urdnot Wrex or his brother and successor Wreav. The dalatrass is openly hostile and insulting to the krogan leader, who is ambivalent to the plight of the turians, insisting that the Reapers are moving on Tuchanka and refuses to provide military assistance unless their own demand is met; that a cure is created for the genophage. The dalatrass flatly refuses to agree to such a demand, arguing that what Shepard and Victus are planning to do in curing the genophage is the same rash mistake the salarians made when they uplifted the krogan to fight against the rachni, while Victus believe the plan impossible because it would take years they don't have to synthesise a cure.

However, the Urdnot leader reveals intel he has received that following the experiments of a salarian scientist into curing the genophage on infertile krogan females, an STG team rounded up the survivors of the experiments- a group of now fertile females who are also immune to the genophage- and took them offworld. The dalatrass, under pressure, reluctantly reveals that the females are being held at an STG base on Sur'Kesh and accedes to their release, though she insists that curing the genophage will have dire consequences for her people and the galaxy as a whole.

Sur'kesh scenery
Shepard, their squad and the krogan leader arrive on Sur'Kesh to oversee the exchange, meeting up with the salarian scientist in charge: Mordin Solus, if he survived the suicide mission, or Padok Wiks, if Mordin died. This scientist is responsible for the krogan females' care and is revealed to be the source who leaked information on their existence to the krogan. However, as a side effect of the cure, the females suffered from weakened immune systems and only one has survived. A Cerberus strike force hits the base shortly during the exchange, seeking to kill the surviving female and stop any hope of a cure for the genophage. Shepard and their squad are forced to fight off Cerberus troopers deploying into the base as the salarian scientist and the Urdnot leader attempt to extract her.

The team escape Sur'Kesh with the female krogan, who is christened 'Eve' by the salarian scientist, and the cure is rapidly developed. Eve takes some time to regain her strength, and when she's ready the salarian doctor proclaims her fit for travel to Tuchanka, where she's needed for the last leg of the genophage cure's completion. The krogan and turian leaders approach Shepard with problems of their own, requesting that the Commander deal with them if there's time.

The Normandy then deploys to Tuchanka when Shepard decides it is time, where the Reapers have begun attacking in force. They decide to release the cure from the Shroud, an enormous salarian structure built to repair Tuchanka's atmosphere that was secretly repurposed to spread the original genophage. En route, Shepard is contacted privately by Dalatrass Linron, who insists Shepard cannot go through with the genophage cure and reveals that the Special Tasks Group sabotaged the Shroud years ago to prevent it being used for such a plan. The dalatrass offers Shepard a deal; prevent repairs to the Shroud, thus causing the cure to fail, and in exchange, the salarians will provide military support and technical expertise to help construct the Crucible.

The Shroud
Upon arrival on the planet, the Urdnot leader rallies the krogan forces, who will work with a turian fighter squadron to distract a Reaper destroyer using the Shroud to further poison the atmosphere of Tuchanka. However, the plan almost immediately goes awry, with the krogan ground forces delayed and the fighters decimated as they attempt to attack without support. The ground forces are scattered and Shepard's team is forced to detour through ancient and impressive krogan ruins, that also happens to be home to the largest known thresher maw.

They improvise a new plan, luring the thresher maw into attacking the Reaper destroyer to buy them time. This strategy is significantly more effective than the last: despite overwhelming Reaper opposition, Mordin/Wiks and Shepard make it to the Shroud and Kalros manages to kill the destroyer. Eve is either alive in a safe place or dead depending on whether Shepard saved Maelon's data months before but the cure is fully completed nonetheless and awaiting planetwide dispersal.

There are, however, complications. The salarian scientist, now aware of the STG sabotage, explains that the sabotage must be counteracted from the top of the tower in order to ensure proper release of the cure; a task that, with the tower collapsing as they speak, is essentially a suicide mission. Shepard must decide whether to let the salarian scientist sacrifice himself to spread the cure, convince him not to, or shoot him if that fails.

No matter the salarian scientist's actions, the Shroud lets out a blast of particles, blanketing Tuchanka with a shower of cure (or the illusion of such) before disintegrating.

The Citadel Coup

Following their mission on Tuchanka, Shepard is contacted by the salarian Councillor, who requests a meeting on the Citadel regarding an important matter. The Councillor explains that it concerns Councillor Udina, who has been moving vast sums of money and the Councillor wishes to discuss where it is going, claiming that Shepard "won't like the news."

Upon arriving at the Citadel, however, the station is worryingly silent. Scanning emergency channels, the Normandy receives a transmission from an old associate of Shepard's (either drell assassin Thane Krios, who has retired to the Citadel to enjoy his remaining life, or Commander Bailey if otherwise) who explains that the Citadel is under attack; Cerberus has hit the station in overwhelming numbers and C-Sec are struggling to retaliate. The contact explains that Ashley/Kaidan (having recovered from the injuries sustained on Mars and been named a Spectre by Udina since then) has gone to protect the Council, while they are attempting to reach C-Sec Headquarters, since C-Sec cannot launch an effective counterattack while Cerberus holds it. Deploying in the shuttle, Shepard and their squad land in the middle of a pitched battle between C-Sec and Cerberus forces outside the headquarters, helping C-Sec Commander Bailey retake the office. Inside, Bailey uncovers intel that the salarian Councillor was meant to be meeting with the Executor, presumably to have someone important prosecuted. Given the message the Councillor sent to the Normandy, Udina is implicated.

Reasoning that the Councillor is likely holed up in the Executor's office, a fairly defensible position, Shepard's squad fight their way through Cerberus' troops, but when they reach the office and extract the Councillor, they come under attack from Kai Leng, who is under orders from the Illusive Man to assassinate the Council. The salarian Councillor also reveals that Udina is collaborating with Cerberus to stage a coup. If Thane and Major Kirrahe are both dead, Leng manages to assassinate the Councillor. If one or both are alive, then one of them thwarts Leng's assassination attempt, but is mortally wounded in the process. Leng retreats to pursue the rest of the Council, with Shepard and company in hot pursuit.

Priority citadel 2 - kai leng 1
Despite Leng's best efforts to slow down and stop their pursuit, Shepard reaches the Council ahead of him at a shuttle pad, locking the exits to prevent Cerberus troops from getting in and a tense standoff ensues, with Ashley/Kaidan standing in their way. Shepard reveals Udina's treachery to the Council and while he attempts to deny it, the rest of the Council, after all the times they didn't listen to Shepard, begin to believe Shepard. With the Council's escape shuttle destroyed, Udina suggests overriding the lockdown and Shepard must convince the Virmire survivor to get out of the way, either managing to talk them down or being forced to shoot them.

Udina, left with few options, begins to override the lock on the door. The asari councilor tries to stop him, but he pushes her to the ground and pulls a gun on her. Shepard or Kaidan/Ashley are ultimately forced to kill the human Councillor, followed by the arrival on scene of Bailey and C-Sec reinforcements. With Udina dead and their plan thwarted, Leng and the remaining Cerberus forces retreat, while C-Sec begins securing the station.

En route back to headquarters, Leng reports his failure to the Illusive Man, who assures his agent that Udina was expendable and he has other plans in motion, though the Illusive Man does admonish Leng for letting Shepard get the better of him; Leng angrily promises it won't happen again.

The Quarian Offensive

Geth Dreadnought
Following the coup attempt, efforts to speed the pace of the Crucible's construction and drive the Reapers back increase. Admiral Hackett contacts Shepard with news on that front, informing the Commander that while turian and krogan ground forces are making progress against the Reapers on Palaven, they need more support ships and the quarians are willing to talk. Hackett requests Shepard to meet with the leaders of the Migrant Fleet but urges caution, as recent intel suggests suspicious activity along the geth border.

Meeting with Admirals Shala'Raan, Han'Gerrel, Daro'Xen and Zaal'Koris at a diplomatic ship in the Far Rim, Shepard learns, much to their chagrin, that the quarians are launching another attack on the geth, with the intention of retaking their homeworld Rannoch from their AI creations. The quarians had pushed the geth back to their home system when a mysterious signal began broadcasting to all geth forces, drastically improving their combat capabilities.

Shepard concludes that the signal is Reaper tech, which must be destroyed if the quarians are to have any chance of survival. The admirals explain that the signal is being broadcast by a geth dreadnought far beyond their ability to destroy. Shepard proposes that they and a squad board the vessel and disable the signal, throwing the geth into confusion and buying the quarians time to make their next move. The quarians agree and offer Shepard technical support in the form of one of their own: Shepard's old crewmate Tali'Zorah, based on her knowledge of the geth, or Admiral Xen volunteers herself if Tali died.

Geth dreadnought - shackled geth unit
Arriving in the middle of a pitched battle between the geth and quarian fleets, Shepard and company board the dreadnought and make their way through the ship, fighting off geth crew to reach the drive core, where the signal is being broadcast. Inside the drive core is a unique geth platform hardwired to amplify the Reaper signal: Legion, if it survived Shepard's suicide mission, or an equivalent Geth VI constructed in its likeness otherwise.

The geth unit explains that the quarian attack drove the geth into an alliance with the Reapers in order to save themselves. At the geth unit's direction, they shut down the drive core, freeing the platform from its shackles. In return it disables all shields and weapons aboard the dreadnought as a sign of good faith. Making the most of the advantage, Admiral Gerrel deviates from the plan and launches a full attack on the dreadnought, hoping to destroy the crippled geth flagship, regardless of Shepard's protestations that they are still inside. Shepard and company narrowly escape the vessel in time.

After returning to the Normandy and either accepting or condemning Gerrel's explanation of his actions, Shepard requests information from the saved geth unit. To the horror of the admirals, the platform explains that the dreadnought's destruction has only severed the Reaper signal at long range; a base on Rannoch's surface is still transmitting the signal at short range, and the geth will soon recover from the disruption. Orbital bombardments are out of the question; the geth have set up jamming towers that prevent the quarian ships from pinpointing the base.

Several sorties on Rannoch's surface are planned during the interim of determining the Reaper signal's location: the rescue of a stranded Admiral Koris, and the disabling of geth fighter squadrons attacking the liveships. Shepard begins the assault on the signal base when its location has been determined, armed with a targeting beam that can cut through the jamming signal. The geth unit drops in solo to disorient geth forces and provide remote technical assistance.

El rannoch reaper
The plan works, but when the Normandy bombs the signal generator, it is revealed to be a Reaper destroyer. The destroyer pursues Shepard and co. as they flee in a geth shuttle, while the quarians and the Normandy attempt to provide supporting fire from orbit. A chance weapons strike from the Migrant Fleet reveals a weak point in the Reaper's defences; that the firing chamber is vulnerable when priming. Using the handheld laser guidance system and dodging the Reaper's attacks, Shepard directs the Normandy and Migrant Fleet's weapons against the Reaper, eventually severely damaging it.

Following its defeat, the badly damaged Reaper and Shepard exchange barbed words; the Reaper, recognising Shepard from Harbinger's description, asserts that Shepard's opposition to the Reapers is pointless, that they are preserving organic life from chaos and that the cycle must continue if organics are to be saved from destruction. Shepard dismisses the Reaper's warnings and assures it that the races of the galaxy will continue to fight until a way to defeat the Reapers is found. With nothing more to be said, the Reaper 'dies'.

Quarians vs geth
With the Reaper destroyed, the geth fleet is left disabled and vulnerable to the quarians, but the geth unit requests permission to upload a modified form of the Reaper code to all geth that would grant them true intelligence. Shepard must choose whether to let the upgrade be broadcast, spelling death for the quarians, or prevent the platform from uploading long enough for the Migrant Fleet to wipe out the geth. If Shepard built up enough trust on both sides owing to a multitude of factors the Commander can call for a ceasefire and eventual peace between the races. Whatever Shepard decides, the conflict between the quarians and geth that has raged for three centuries is brought to an end, and the fleets of one or both races are acquired for the fight against the Reapers.

The Fall of Thessia

Following the resolution of the quarian-geth conflict, the asari councillor requests that Shepard come speak with her on the Citadel. Though the Crucible's construction nears completion, the absence of the Catalyst still makes it useless against the Reapers. The Councillor reveals to Shepard that there is a highly classified artifact located on Thessia that may help the Commander identify the Catalyst; however, she urges haste, as the Reapers have descended on Thessia in droves, seeking to annihilate the most advanced race in the galaxy.

Thessia under siege
En route to Thessia, Liara, who insists on coming to help her homeworld, explains that the artifact is housed in the Temple of Athame, a deity whose worship is nearly as old as the asari, but has fallen out of practice. Arriving on Thessia to find the asari military fighting a losing battle against Reaper forces, Shepard and the squad make their way to the temple, where a science team is purported to be waiting for them. They arrive at the temple to find a security field blocking entrance, strangely high-security for a temple of a dead religion. When Liara deactivates it, they enter the temple and find the scientists dead, but not at Reaper hands. They search the temple which houses artifacts related to Athame's worship, including ones that look suspiciously Prothean.

While Liara explains the temple's history, Shepard comes to a realisation; the artifact the Councillor sent them to find is a Prothean Beacon hidden within the temple. Considering the temple's age, the beacon is likely the reason why the asari are technologically and scientifically ahead of the other races, and they have directly violated Council law by keeping the beacon to themselves. The beacon is powered up by the detection of one with Prothean-like brain patterns (which Shepard received in the form of the Cipher) and once the squad fully activate it, a Prothean VI identifying itself as Vendetta appears. Establishing that it is in a post-Prothean cycle and detecting nearby Reaper forces, it attempts to shut down, but Shepard insists that it wait and provide information on the Catalyst and Crucible.

Vendetta explains that the Crucible is not of Prothean origin, but is a cumulative design spanning countless galactic cycles stretching back millions of years. The Protheans themselves never used it because their efforts were sabotaged by a splinter faction who (like Cerberus in the present cycle) argued the Protheans should control the Reapers, not destroy them. By the time it was discovered the separatists were indoctrinated, it was too late; the Prothean order of battle was too fractured to coordinate an effort to activate it.

Vendetta also mentions that the Protheans learned that similar patterns of evolution and dissolution occur in every galactic cycle, with each path of advancement and conflict happening differently but in fundamentally similar ways - too similar to be merely chance. Vendetta infers that the Reapers are "servants" of the pattern, not its creator, but cannot identity their true master or motive, only its intention: galactic annihilation. Before Vendetta can specify what the Catalyst is, it detects an indoctrinated presence nearby and shuts down.

TIM holo, angry
The intruder is revealed to be Kai Leng who demands their attention, pulling a drone from his coat and remarking that "Someone would like to talk with you". The drone projects a hologram of the Illusive Man, who has learnt of the Thessia beacon from the Mars Archive and mocks Liara for missing it. The Illusive Man goes on to expand on his belief and convince Shepard that controlling the Reapers is the best course of action and that the Thessia beacon contains the information to do so. Shepard asserts their conviction to destroying the Reapers and dismisses the Illusive Man's scheme, accusing him of being indoctrinated. Rebuffed, the Illusive Man orders Leng to kill Shepard and recover the data.

A vicious battle ensues, but Leng is unable to gain the upper hand. Leng calls in assistance, ordering a Cerberus gunship to destroy the temple's structural supports and the temple begins to collapse. Shepard and squad are forced to react quickly to save themselves and by the time they recover, Leng has already acquired the data and fled aboard the gunship. They can only watch helplessly as Leng's ship escapes and more Reapers descend to complete the destruction of Thessia.

After escaping to the Normandy, the asari Councillor contacts Shepard, though the Commander delays the meeting out of reluctance. The Councillor eagerly requests information on the Catalyst and when it will complete the Crucible, but Shepard is forced to tell her of Cerberus' interference and their failure to acquire the data. Realising that asari civilisation, maybe all civilisation, may now be lost, the asari Councillor cuts communication, leaving Shepard to brood on their failure.

Chasing Cerberus

Normandy - tracking a ninja
Following the disaster on Thessia, Shepard bemoans the fact that Cerberus always seems to be one step ahead and asks the crew for any intel they might have to get the jump on the organisation. The Normandy's communication specialist Samantha Traynor mentions she had traced the route taken by Leng's shuttle as it fled Thessia as far as the Iera system, but she had lost it there, because the signal was being actively blocked. Despite the fact the only thing of note in that system is Sanctuary, a refugee camp on the planet Horizon for those fleeing the war, the Commander decides that a lead is still a lead, no matter how slim, and agrees to check it out.

Upon arriving at the facility, Shepard and their squad find signs of battle between Cerberus and Reaper forces, a surprising discovery given Cerberus' collaboration with the Reapers. Investigating the camp, Shepard finds evidence left by former squadmate Miranda Lawson or her sister that the 'refugee camp' was in truth a Cerberus laboratory run by their father Henry Lawson, working for the Illusive Man. Deeper in the facility, they discover that the refugees were being experimented on and ultimately turned into husks, in order to further Cerberus's research into indoctrination. A further bombshell is brought to light: a signal being broadcast from a tower within the facility, using Cerberus research, had allowed Cerberus the ability to control the husks created in their horrific experiments. Lawson had been working on the Illusive Man's orders to find a way to transfer this process to the Reapers themselves before the facility had come under attack, the Reapers seeking to destroy any potential weakness that could be used against them.

Priority horizon - henry hostage
Fighting their way through Cerberus troopers who hadn't evacuated in time and Reaper forces left behind after the attack, Shepard and their squad make it to the tower that has been broadcasting the signal, as well as blocking all transmissions from the planet. Here, they find Henry Lawson holding Oriana hostage. The Lawson patriarch tries to cut a deal with the Commander for his freedom, explaining that despite his success, the Illusive Man had merely ordered Kai Leng to retrieve the data (the assassin having already been there and gone) and leave the Lawsons to their fate.

Miranda, if she was alive, executes her father no matter Shepard's words; otherwise, Henry Lawson either goes free, is gunned down by Shepard after convincing Lawson to release his hostage, or dies with Oriana when the latter defenestrates herself and her father. Shepard and company learn the location of Cronos Station, the headquarters of Cerberus itself, after Henry has been dealt with.

Shepard alerts Admiral Hackett to this discovery, and the Alliance begin making preparations for an all-out assault on the station to eliminate Cerberus and hopefully recover the Prothean VI along with any other information on the Catalyst. Hackett warns that once an assault on Cerberus is launched, the Reapers would take notice sooner or later; for all intents and purposes, the attack on Cerberus would be the first step in the campaign to retake Earth. Once military preparations are completed to Shepard's satisfaction, the assault begins.

Cronos station human-reaper debris
Leading an armada to assault the station, Shepard, EDI and a squad are deployed to fight Cerberus forces in the base, while Hackett battles Cerberus's fleet with the rest of the Alliance ships. The base is full of video logs, containing intel on EDI's past, Project Lazarus and Cerberus's new-found obsession with exploiting Reaper tech and indoctrination, and interesting tech such as prototype weaponry and pieces of the Human-Reaper salvaged from the Collector Base after its destruction. Eventually the team reaches the Illusive Man's personal office, and begin to scour his private terminals for the location of the Prothean VI. The Illusive Man contacts Shepard by hologram, sneering that he has already acquired the Catalyst and all he needed to control the Reapers. Again, he dismisses Shepard's claims that he is indoctrinated and assures Shepard that the idea behind Cerberus will survive any physical damage they cause to the organisation itself.

The Illusive Man severs communication when EDI discovers and activates the Prothean VI. They find that Vendetta's security protocols have been overridden and he informs the squad that the Catalyst is in fact the Citadel; in some previous cycle, the Reaper-made space station had been incorporated into the activation process of the Crucible to boost its power and coordinate its function through the mass relay system. After this revelation, Shepard realises it then should be relatively easy to activate the Crucible, but Vendetta has more shocking news; the Illusive Man has fled to the Citadel and warned the Reapers of the plan to destroy them. As if this wasn't enough, the Reapers have already reasserted control over the Citadel and transported it to orbit one of their conquered planets: to be precise, Earth.

Cronos station edi and illusive jack
As Shepard attempts to contact Admiral Hackett to tell him this devastating news, he is cut off by the return of Kai Leng, who once again engages Shepard in a furious battle, aided by various Cerberus forces. This time, Shepard emerges victorious. After the fight between Shepard and Leng, Shepard goes to back to the Illusive Man's computer to activate the Prothean VI. Little does Shepard and their squad know, Leng survived the beating he took. After silently limping to the Commander, Leng raises his sword in an attempt to kill Shepard; the Commander senses the attack and in the nick of time either disarms Leng by shattering his sword or dodges Leng's attack and finishes him off with an omni-blade stab, avenging either Thane, Kirrahe, or Miranda. If both Thane and Kirrahe are dead, the salarian councilor was assassinated, and Miranda survived the Illusive Man's orders to have her killed (or was killed during the Suicide Mission), Shepard will taunt Leng over his cowardly victory on Thessia.

The Battle for Earth

ME3 Destroyer Conduit

Shepard alerts Hackett and Anderson to their discovery of the Catalyst's identity and location. With no alternative, Hackett and Shepard order the forces they have gathered to the Sol system with the intention of taking Earth back from the Reapers. Hackett and Anderson brief Shepard on the three-fold plan of battle: 'Sword' Fleet will engage the Reapers in space, while 'Hammer' ground forces will land in London. When Shepard queries why London is their landing zone, Anderson explains that the Reapers have established a teleportation beam between the city and the Citadel to transport dead and living humans to the station, presumably to be harvested. The plan is for Hammer ground forces to fight their way through the city to the beam, and get as many people as possible on board the Citadel and find a way to open the station's arms. Once this is done, Hackett will signal 'Shield' Fleet, which will remain outside the Sol system protecting the Crucible, to pass through the Charon relay and clear a path for the Crucible to dock with the Citadel.

All forces deploy for the Sol System and a brutal space battle ensues between the fleets Shepard has gathered and the Reapers in orbit around Earth. The Normandy breaks off from the battle and descends to the planet. Shepard and several other squads have been ordered to take out Reaper Destroyers planet-side, fitted with anti-aircraft Hades Cannons that threaten Hammer's landing. After eliminating the destroyers, Shepard and their squad are extracted by Anderson and local resistance forces, who convey them back to their forward base. At the same time, Hammer troops begin landing en masse in preparation for the assault on the Citadel beam.

Anderson battleplan
When the bulk of surviving Hammer forces have landed and deployed, Anderson briefs Shepard and the other team leaders that they must fight their way through the city to the beam, though they will need to take out another Reaper Destroyer blocking their path en route. Using Thanix missile batteries and EDI's help to overcome interference in the guidance systems from the Citadel beam, the Destroyer is brought down, but by that time, Hammer's forces have suffered heavy casualties, Reaper forces are gaining ground and to make matters worse, Hackett warns that several Sovereign-class Reapers, including Harbinger, have broken away from the space battle and are descending to Earth. By the time the remnants of Hammer reach the Citadel beam's immediate vicinity, Harbinger has already deployed to protect it.

Hammer attacks, but Harbinger annihilates them; countless soldiers are killed and Shepard's squad is severely injured (possibly killed, depending on how prepared the galaxy's forces are). With its stealth technology, the Normandy is able to move in and carry Shepard's squad to safety, if they're still alive, without Harbinger noticing. Almost immediately after the ship's departure however the Commander is hit by Harbinger and critically injured. Believing itself victorious, Harbinger retreats back to the space battle, not noticing Shepard managing to get back to their feet and stagger into the beam.

Citadel - ward control
Upon arriving aboard the Citadel, Shepard is contacted by Anderson, who followed them up but was somehow separated. The two find themselves dumped in similar-looking tunnels; keepers prowl about and there are human corpses dumped everywhere. Staggering to what looks like a control room, Shepard and Anderson are ambushed by the Illusive Man, the skin of his face and neck rotted and riddled with Reaper tech. These "upgrades" allow him to take control of their motor functions, even forcing Shepard to shoot Anderson.

The Illusive Man again asserts the necessity of controlling the Reapers and that the Crucible will grant him that power, but it is clear to Shepard and Anderson that he is deeply indoctrinated. Shepard can try to convince the Illusive Man, like Saren before him, to fight his indoctrination, prompting the Illusive Man to commit suicide to escape the Reapers' control; otherwise the Commander is able to briefly shake off the Illusive Man's influence and shoot him. In this case, the Illusive Man turns to the view of Earth and with his dying breath laments that Shepard could not see humanity and Earth the way he sees them: perfect.

Priority Earth - TIM & Anderson
With the Illusive Man dealt with, Shepard opens the arms of the Citadel and Hackett orders Shield Fleet, along with the Crucible to move in. The Crucible successfully docks with the Citadel, but nothing happens. At this point, Shepard and Anderson, if he is still alive, sit together and look at the vast blue planet beyond. Anderson tells Shepard that he is proud of them and it has been an honor to fight at his protegé's side. After this final conversation, Anderson dies from his injuries and Shepard passes out from blood loss.

While unconscious, however, Shepard is transported to another part of the Citadel. when they regain consciousness, Shepard is confronted by an entity of energy, manifesting itself in the form of the small boy Shepard saw die at the Reapers' hands when they fled Earth. The entity explains that it is the Catalyst, the creator of the Reapers and architect of their galactic purges every 50,000 years. The Catalyst explains that the purpose of such genocide is to solve the problem it was created to stop; the total annihilation of organics by the synthetic races they inevitably create.

Its solution was to allow organic species to evolve to the apex of their civilization and then harvest these races, with millions of bodies and minds from each race being processed and converted into new Reapers, while the remainder of their civilizations were systematically destroyed. By doing this, the Reapers preserved the harvested races, while allowing more primitive races to have their own chances to become great, evolving on their own (though influenced along more preferable paths by mass effect technology) and they in turn would be preserved, thus ensuring that the threat of complete annihilation of organics by synthetics was averted.

Citadelcrucible
However, because the races of the present cycle have completed the Crucible, a feat never before achieved, the Catalyst no longer believes the cycle will work, and thus a new solution must be devised. The Catalyst offers Shepard choices for this solution, leaving the Commander to decide the fate of the galaxy while explaining how events will play out whatever Shepard decides. The Crucible in conjunction with the Citadel, the Catalyst and the mass relays can be used in a multitude of ways: as a means to destroy Reapers, control Reapers, or render the Reapers harvests moot by fusing organic and synthetic life together.

Destruction of the Reapers means that all synthetic life: geth, EDI, and the Catalyst itself included, will be destroyed as well. All other technology will be affected to varying degrees depending on the Crucible's condition, and the Catalyst warns while there will be peace, it won't last. The organic-synthetic conflict it has worked against all these eons will inevitably surface and result in chaos.

Control over the Reapers means that Shepard can use the Crucible's energy to control the Reapers. The process will destroy the Commander's body, but the thoughts, memories and consciousness will remain and replace the Catalyst as the Reapers' master AI. The end result is Reapers obeying Shepard's lead. When Shepard remarks that the Illusive Man was right after all, the Catalyst explains he could never have taken control since the Reapers already indoctrinated him.

Synthesis of organic and synthetic life is another solution the Catalyst may present, and touts it as an ideal solution. According to the Catalyst, organics seek perfection through technology. Synthetics seek perfection through understanding. Organics will be perfected by integrating fully with synthetic technology. Synthetics, in turn, will finally have full understanding of organics. By merging themselves with the Crucible's energy, Shepard will create a new organic-synthetic "DNA" for all denizens of the galaxy, bringing an end to the cycle and the need for the Reapers.

Rather than choose from the AI's options, Shepard can reject them and and insist that a decision with such massive ramifications for the galaxy and its inhabitants cannot be made. The Catalyst acknowledges this, and the Crucible is not activated. The Reapers defeat the forces that the galaxy's races amassed against them, and succeed in their harvest.

THE PATHS ARE OPEN
If Shepard chooses to destroy the Reapers, the Crucible fires a red beam of energy that destroys the Reapers on and around Earth and transmits this energy to every relay the mass relay network through the Charon Relay before damaging the relays and the Citadel as well. If Shepard chooses to control the Reapers, the Crucible releases a blue wave of energy that brings the Reapers under Shepard's control, damages the relays, and leaves the Citadel intact. If Shepard chooses to merge organic and synthetic life, the Crucible fires a green beam of energy that causes the Reapers to cease attacking, but also damages the Citadel as it transmits the beam to the mass relay network.

While Shepard chooses how to activate the Crucible, Admiral Hackett notices the Crucible activate and orders the fleet to disengage and rendezvous outside of the blast zone. Joker hesitates until the last possible second, desperate to save Shepard, before reluctantly following the fleet. However, he leaves too late. The Normandy jumps to FTL speeds but is caught by the energy released from the Crucible and crash-lands in a jungle on an unidentified world.

Epilogue

If Shepard refuses to activate the Crucible...
Refusal beacon
One of Liara's time capsules activates on an unknown world. A recording of Liara explains that the capsule contains a record of her generation's war against the Reapers and ultimate defeat. She urges whoever can find the capsule to use the information she gathered on the Reapers and the blueprints of the Crucible to try and succeed where the people of her time did not.

Many years into the future, a woman of an unknown race called the Stargazer tells the story of "The Shepard" to a young boy, and how their sacrifice and warning allowed for them to eventually defeat the Reapers, once and for all.

If Shepard uses the Crucible to destroy the Reapers...
Ert + citadel - destroy low ems 2
Admiral Hackett relates how the Reapers were defeated, saying that this victory belongs to every civilization. Even though the galaxy is devastated and the mass relays are severely damaged, Hackett is confident they can rebuild stronger than before. He regrets that so many people will not be able to witness the future that Shepard made possible, but resolves to honor their sacrifices. Eventually, the mass relays and even the Citadel are restored, and the galaxy enters a new era of peace.
  • If the player's Effective Military Strength is too low, the Crucible will backfire, and annihilate most life in the galaxy. An alternate narration will be heard from Hackett; his outlook on the galaxy's future is much more negative.
  • If the player's Effective Military Strength is moderately high, the Crucible will still cause some collateral damage to the galaxy, including the mass relays. Hackett's speech is mostly the same as in the high EMS, though he adds that it may take years to restore the relays.
  • If the player's Effective Military Strength is high enough, Shepard is shown to have survived the Crucible's blast, taking a gasping breath in a pile of rubble.
If Shepard uses the Crucible to control the Reapers...
Control - rebuilding reapers 2
Shepard, now a Catalyst-like being with absolute control over the Reapers, achieves a new state of existence and ponders immortality. Shepard commands the Reapers to rebuild and protect the galaxy, and, depending on Shepard's morality, either intends to act as a guardian who will protect and serve the galaxy's civilizations (Paragon), or act as the strong leader that Shepard believes the galaxy needs (Renegade).

Shepard also vows to watch over their former crew and friends. The Reapers restore the mass relays, and under Shepard's direction, stand ready to defend against anyone that threatens the new peace.

The exact nature of Shepard's intentions for the galaxy depends not only on their morality, but also on the outcome of the genophage mission.

  • If a Paragon Shepard cured the genophage and Wrex leads the krogan, Shepard intends to give the many hope for a future and ensure that all have a voice in their future.
  • If a Renegade Shepard cured the genophage and Wrex leads the krogan, Shepard vows to "right the wrongs of the past" and as well as to provide a voice for the weak.
  • Wreav rally - destroy 1
    If a Paragon Shepard cured the genophage and Wreav leads the krogan, Shepard vows to "provide a voice for those too weak to speak for themselves."
  • If a Renegade Shepard cured the genophage and Wreav leads the krogan, Shepard intends to ensure that "the strongest are not feared or reviled for their strength."
  • If a Paragon Shepard sabotaged the cure, they desire to give the galaxy a chance for peace and let the mistakes of the past be fixed on their own accord.
  • If a Renegade Shepard sabotaged the cure, they intend to act as a powerful leader who will put an end to the bickering of the many.
If Shepard uses the Crucible to merge organic and synthetic life...
Krogan - synthesis
EDI speaks of how Shepard's sacrifice changed the relationship between organics and synthetics forever. Now that both forms of life understand each other, the Reapers have stopped attacking the galaxy and begin to help rebuild of their own accord, and have also begun to share the collective knowledge of countless previous civilizations.

EDI speculates that with the differences between organics and synthetics disappearing, mortality itself could one day be transcended to a new level of existence that she cannot imagine. Finally EDI concludes by saying that no matter how far they advance, they will always remember Shepard and the others who died for this future.
EDI's remarks on the new relationship between organics and synthetics differ based on the outcome of Priority: Rannoch.

  • If the geth destroyed the quarians, EDI states that synthetics are now free to choose their own paths.
  • If the quarians destroyed the geth, EDI states that organics no longer need to fear their synthetic creations.
  • If Shepard managed to achieve peace between the quarians and geth, EDI states that organics and synthetics can now coexist peacefully.

The war against the Reapers is now over. Various epilogue scenes will be shown, all of which are dependent on the choices made throughout the game/whole series...

Earth
Major coats - destroy min ems
Depending on the outcome on Earth, various scenes of aftermath can be shown:
  • If Shepard's Effective Military Strength was low, London will be seen in ruins.
  • If Shepard's Effective Military Strength was high, London will be seen damaged, but largely intact.
  • If Shepard chose to destroy the Reapers, a restored London will be seen with a new conduit connecting it to the Citadel which has also been restored.
  • If Shepard chose to control the Reapers, a restored London will be seen being guarded and protected by the Reapers.
  • If Shepard chose Synthesis, then humans, aliens, and Reapers will been seen working together to rebuild Earth.
Tuchanka
Tuchanka - synthesis
Depending on the outcome on Tuchanka, various scenes of aftermath can be shown for the krogan:

If the genophage was not cured:

  • A lone female krogan sits on a desolate Tuchanka. If Wrex was the Urdnot leader, another scene will show dead krogan lying amongst the rubble.
  • If Synthesis was chosen, it will cure the genophage instead.
  • If the rachni queen was saved (the real queen, not the breeder), the rachni settle on Tuchanka.

If the genophage was cured:

  • Krogan children on synthesis ending
    If Eve survived, she can be seen holding a krogan child.
  • If Eve did not survive, another female krogan will take her place.
  • If Urdnot Wrex leads the krogan, scenes of krogan reconstruction are shown.
  • If Urdnot Wreav leads, scenes are shown of him amassing a krogan army. If Eve survived, she is shown having gathered her own army and confronting Wreav.
  • If Wreav leads, but Synthesis was chosen, his plans for retribution are seemingly abandoned and instead the krogan begin rebuilding their civilization.
  • If the genophage was cured and Synthesis was chosen, the ancient krogan temples are restored to their former glory.
Rannoch

Depending on the outcome on Rannoch, various scenes of aftermath can be shown:

If peace between the quarians and geth was achieved:

  • Geth and quarian in synthesis ending
    In the Control ending, the quarians are shown having established a new city on Rannoch. A separate scene shows the geth building their own city, apparently with the aid of the Reapers.
  • In the Destroy ending, only the quarians appear.
  • In the Synthesis ending, a special scene shows the geth working alongside the quarians, who are now able to live without their environmental suits.

If the quarians destroyed the geth:

  • In the Synthesis ending, the quarians are still living in their environmental suits.

If the geth destroyed the quarians:

  • In the Destroy ending, Rannoch appears deserted.
If the following characters survived until the end, they are featured in the epilogue sequence
  • Miranda Lawson can be seen studying Reaper schematics with Oriana (Control), or planning construction with other technicians (Destroy and if Shepard is dead - or Synthesis). If Shepard's love interest, she will be seen looking at the stars (Destroy and if Shepard is alive).
  • Jacob Taylor can be seen working as an instructor (High EMS Control and Destroy), or comforting a female civilian with Brynn Cole (Synthesis or Low EMS Control and Destroy).
  • Future city - synthesis
    Samara can be seen visiting Falere at the new Ardat-Yakshi monastery, or resuming her life as a Justicar if she failed to apprehend Morinth.
  • Zaeed Massani lounges on a chair by the coast (Destroy).
  • Kasumi Goto can be seen reuniting with Keiji Okuda (Synthesis, and if the Greybox was saved), or still holding the graybox in a room (Control and Destroy).
  • Jack is seen in a graveyard, laying flowers at tombstones (if her students were sent to the front lines), or working with Kahlee Sanders and her students (if her students were kept in a support role and Kahlee survived). If she was Shepard's love interest, she will be shown looking at the stars instead of Miranda (Destroy and if Shepard is still alive).
  • Grunt and Wrex are welcomed back home to Tuchanka. If Grunt is dead, then a helmeted krogan will take his place next to Wrex. Grunt will not appear if Wrex is dead.
  • Mordin Solus, Thane Krios, Legion, and any other squadmate that wasn't saved in the course of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 will be seen in individual shots, seemingly nodding their approval at Shepard's actions. If Eve did not survive, she too will be included in the montage. If fewer than six characters are dead, then the last image will be that of a charred N7 helmet.
  • If Mordin Solus is still alive (which is only possible if Wreav is the Urdnot leader, Eve is dead, and Shepard either Charmed or Intimidated Mordin to not fix the Shroud sabotage), Mordin will be shown near computer monitors studying a datapad in his hand while two krogan, one male and one female, are in glass tubes behind him.
Jungle planet - crashed SR-2
If the Normandy survived the crash landing, the crew will be shown at the memorial wall, honoring the memory of all the people who gave their lives in the war. Shepard's love interest puts Shepard's name on the wall, right above Anderson's. If Shepard does not have a love interest, Shepard's love interest is dead or does currently not serve aboard the Normandy (such as Kelly Chambers or Miranda Lawson, for example), then the character Shepard interacted with the most will put the Commander's name on the wall (with the exception of EDI, James Vega, and Javik). If that character is dead, then Liara T'Soni will be the one putting Shepard's name on the wall. If Liara is dead, then Samantha Traynor will take her place.
  • Exclusive to the Destroy ending, Shepard's love interest (or Liara, if Shepard does not have a love interest, the love interest is dead or is not a character who is currently aboard the Normandy) hesitates to put Shepard's name on the wall, and instead smiles hopefully. Shepard is later seen taking a single breath in a pile of rubble.
  • In the Synthesis ending, EDI and Shepard's love interest embrace after Shepard's name has been added to the wall.
  • Depending on how badly damaged the Normandy was, the final scene shows the Normandy either undergoing repairs or taking off from the unknown planet.

Many years into the future, an old man known as the Stargazer tells the story of "The Shepard" to a young boy.

ME3 stargazer

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