So even though our good old pal Ellen Shepard tore the Citadel Council a new asshole (or a new cloaca, if you’re talking about the salarian representative), the three eggheads in power saw fit to give an Alliance Navy officer with a penchant for punching reporters nearly unlimited extrajudicial power and her own experimental stealth frigate. What could possibly go wrong?
Things are getting rolling with our little weekend project here, folks; Ellen’s been set loose on the galaxy with a few leads to follow up on and a mandate from the galaxy’s ruling body to go hog wild on any bad guys she meets along the way. In addition to the human Alliance crew members already on board the SSV Normandy, Kaidan Alenko and Ashley Williams, Shepard has successfully recruited a psychopathic ninja turtle with telekinetic abilities, a female three-toed sloth that could die from a sneeze, and the future Dark Knight of Omega himself before hitting the Citadel’s Galaxy Burger drive-through window on the way to parts unknown.
The game opens up from here in a huge way – for the first time you’re allowed to pretty much go wherever the fuck you want. You’re able to choose between the three planets that move forward the main storyline or you can just go cruising around deep space, picking up debris like an intergalactic bum pushing around a shopping cart swiped from the local Kroger’s, and our little Ellen immediately began to do so.
She was pickin’ up change over in the Artemis Tau cluster, hopping from system to system looking for rare minerals and wrecked probes to dismantle for salvage, only to stumble across an Alliance military distress call upon arrival in the Sparta system. It was coming from Edolus, the second planet from the system’s star, and Commander Shepard, being the intrepid adventurer she is, immediately made landfall in her M35 Mako infantry fighting vehicle, setting out across the planet’s surface, looking for trouble.
The Mako came up over a ridge on the dry, dusty planet, its long-range sensors picking up something ahead of it in a large, bowl-like depression to the north. Shepard peered down at the display, only barely making out the remains of a wrecked M29 Grizzly, an older model troop transport. Intrigued (and now slightly worried), Shepard tooled down the incline towards the wreckage, circling around to get a better look.
Clearing the front of the Grizzly’s wedge-shaped nose, Shepard’s breath caught in her throat at the carnage before her: strewn about around a distress beacon were several bodies, the insignia on their pressure suits revealing them to be Alliance military personnel even from fifty or sixty meters off, and as the Mako motored closer, it became clear that there were no survivors.
Shepard slowed the Mako, checking the sightlines for hostiles, seeing nothing but strangely furrowed earth. Feeling a strange foreboding in the pit of her stomach, she had begun to circle closer in an effort to investigate when the ground began to shake.
Suddenly, it all became clear to Shepard: the damage to the Grizzly, the dead marines, the strange furrows. She had seen this before.
Shepard gunned the Mako to full speed, slewing around in a skid that sent dust flying through the air, and narrowly avoided driving full-tilt into the massive alien beast that breached the surface and began burrowing straight up. A long, segmented body covered in chitinous armor. Ichor-dripping mandibles surrounding a gaping, iridescent blue mouth. And the sound it made as it roared – a screech Shepard still heard in her nightmares.
A thresher maw might have gotten a drop on Shepard’s unit once, years ago, but never again – the Commander shot past the giant, rearing sand worm as the beast shot a wad of corrosive ichor at the Mako. The vehicle’s kinetic shields sizzled and spat as the ichor burned away, and Shepard gunned the Mako, fishtailing wildly until she could bring the troop transport’s mass accelerator cannon to bear, firing a salvo at the hellish beast.
It reared back as the projectile collided with it, screeching in pain, and slithered back down into its hole. Shepard wasted no time in getting the Mako underway again, watching the ground for the telltale signs of the thresher maw’s return – something she had learned all too well on Akuze. She raised the Mako’s turret and waited.
Just like clockwork, the thresher maw emerged once more, and Shepard opened up on the titanic, cyclopean horror. 155 millimeter cannon shots slammed into the beast’s body, and with a final, blood-curdling shriek, the thing fell over, oozing its contemptible ichor from a dozen wounds. Shaking, Shepard emerged from the Mako, making her unsteady way over to the wrecked Grizzly.
There had been no survivors. She gathered up the dog tags of the fallen, and Shepard, in a daze, deactivated the distress beacon, her fingers feeling numb inside her pressure suit. She made her way back to the Mako and called for extraction, her and her squad waiting in strained silence for the Normandy to collect them.
Shepard knows she needs to return to the Citadel to report the losses of life to the Alliance personnel stationed there; she can’t bring herself to do it just yet. Instead, she’s thrown herself into her work, rescuing a blue tentacle-haired lesbian alien to round out the Normandy’s crew. Next week, she says, her dreams still haunted by the scene she encountered on Edolus; next week, she’ll go back and turn in those dog tags to Admiral Kahoku. He’ll want to know about what happened in the Artemis Tau cluster.
Achievements earned this weekend: