Searching an entire planet wasn't easy. To start with, the sheer size and complexity involved in the task of searching a planet was enormous, to the point that outside of wide geological scans, most species didn't even bother with them. Which meant that, when it came to grid-searching an entire planet in detail for the wreckage of a Reaper, I had to invent completely new techniques and technology to pull it off.

The first issue was the lack of Eezo. I had a certain amount in the stores of my ship, but those were limited, meant to keep the FTL comms buoys and the ship itself active. This meant that I had to do very basic scanning of just about every stellar object of anything approaching significant size within the entire system, just looking for a small pocket of the stuff that I could use for my purposes. It would have taken approximately four to five months to complete scans such as these, broad spectrum things looking for any hint of Eezo over huge areas. Thankfully, the third scan turned up exactly what I needed: a small and manageable Eezo deposit that I could freely utilize as I chose.

Next, setting up mining for the deposit. This, thankfully, was the easiest step, given that mining and manufacturing was more or less operable in the system's asteroid belt, where factories manned by Geth and constructed of Geth-based parts churned out processed ores, parts and equipment. I loaded this equipment onto my ship and moved it to the site, with another comms buoy and a number of Geth units who assembled the machines on site and set them to work. Thankfully, thanks to mining permits that I'd fast-tracked through the Quarian government by playing the game in a way that looked remarkably like a skilled professional, this was all entirely legal, and thus wouldn't bring any undue suspicion down on my head.

The issue, of course, was that I had a certain grace period in which I could operate without eyes looking in my direction, but beyond that they would begin to expect exports of minerals flowing out of the system and supplies flowing in. These ships would be manned by crews, who might think something was odd if there wasn't a single organic being in the entire system. This meant that I would have to send an automated courier when I was ready for company, request several teams of Geth supervisors and general workers, then put them to work on a deposit of decent purity and worth far from the more... suspicious parts of my operation. I'd have to step carefully to avoid any complications, especially with the new Council task force that had sailed into Quarian space right on the heels of my Rannoch version's actions.

Thankfully they didn't track couriers, or I'd be in trouble.

I figured I had about three or four months to freely search for the Leviathan before anyone would start asking questions, and I'd have to bring in an organic crew as a cover, which would limit my actions in-system to a degree. Too many ships flying around or too many supplies moving without clear reason for it would inspire questions in either the teams or the crews of the supply vessels, and that was something that I definitely didn't want. As it was, I'd have to hide any assets I had in-system whenever someone came through- thankfully, Dis wasn't located on any major trade or patrol routes, or my capacity for work would be a lot more constrained than it already was. If I'd been able to do this properly, I'd most likely have a fleet of mass-produced frigates sweeping the planet with deep-level scans until I found the thing, but a fleet took resources, logistics, and it would ping every sensor from here to the Citadel. You can't just move an entire fleet freely through Council space without a lot of people asking a lot of very awkward questions. Thus, I was limited to what few ships I could manufacture with what I had on hand, and whatever I could import from the outside galaxy without arousing suspicions.

Geth units dug into the shell of the Eezo planetoid, assembling machinery, preparing to pierce the rocky-metallic crust to reach the minerals on the inside and begin the process of clearing space for the construction of a drydock where I'd manufacture the ships I needed in this system. As almost an afterthought, I launched a comms buoy into orbit above the planetoid, connecting to the network and checking on the status of the Geth that I'd left scattered across the system, all operating by default programming and queued basic commands. The supercomputer array they were assembling on Gremar, a system of labs and facilities that were under construction on Jartar, mining facilities on asteroids, planetoids and Klensel, and, of course, the large amount of sensor Geth platforms scattered here and there across the system.

My efforts were definitely well underway. I'd just need to be careful not to make a wrong step.

Captain Pallintus Tarrid was awake the moment the first tone of his alarm sounded.

A claw flashed out, tapping the holographic display and disabling the tone. With a low grunt, he stretched his limbs, sliding himself out of bed and standing. A moment more to stretch, getting out the stiffness of the artificial night, and he moved to a panel that slid open at his approach, revealing a small closet full of Turian Navy uniforms.

"VI, Tyrus Nyx, preset brew." he said to the empty room, focused on his task. A confirmation beep sounded, a machine on the other side of his quarters lighting up and beginning to warm itself.

It didn't take much deliberation on his part. After only a few minutes, Pallintus had set a uniform on his now perfectly made bed, and was dressing himself in a physical fitness jumpsuit while reviewing reports from the night shift on his omnitool. He sealed the jumpsuit, scrolling to a report from the chief engineer on the status of an auxiliary system overhaul that hadn't quite been completed in spacedock, then glanced up as the machine against the wall made a small ding, a panel opening and revealing a full cup of steaming liquid. He retrieved it, settling down at the small table in his tiny kitchenette and sipping the near-pitch black liquid, humming in satisfaction.

He enjoyed a quiet moment there, reviewing reports with a hot drink in hand, a precious commodity on a Turian Navy vessel. Occasionally, he glanced to the side, where a holographic panel showed a view of space, stars hanging over the crescent of the planet Rannoch that was visible far below. One side of the planet was lit, all blues and greens and browns, a mosaic of complex colours- on the other side, strings and bunches of glowing yellow highlighted cities, roads, Quarians going about their business far below him. He found it... calming.

In due time, he finished the last of his drink. He let out a satisfied sigh, then stood, shutting off his omnitool and placing the cup in the recycling bin before jogging out the entrance of his quarters and into the corridor.

Out there was already a small stream of officers of the day shift, in their own jog towards the lift at the end of the hallway. They stopped and saluted as they saw him, and he returned the gesture, before they all wordlessly turned back to the process of making their way down. They passed officers from the night shift going in the opposite direction, into the officer's quarters for a bit of personal time before turning in for the day. Pallintus came to a halt before one of the saluting officers, bearing the emblems of the second in command, still jogging in place.

"Nihlos. Anything to report?"

Nihlos' mandibles twitched in amusement. "Sir, if there were anything to report, you would have read it in my report this morning while enjoying that Spirits-damned beverage of yours."

"Hah! Well, I prefer to interact with my officers in person, Nihlos. Makes it more fun to press them for all the juicy details of the shift, like how many pieces of space debris we passed in the night, or exactly how many times Helmsman Yyitrien sighed about his mate in the patrol fleet in the space of an hour."

"Fourteen, and Yyitrien doesn't do anything else but steer the ship and eat enough to kill a Vorcha."

Nihlos' tone was joking, but Pallintus noted the shift in his stance, the unsure placement of his claws. He stopped jogging in place, looking closer, a spark of concern flickering through him.

"Is there something else you wish to speak about?"

The first officer stiffened, then sighed. "Never could get one past you, sir..." Nihlos' mandibles shifted in discomfort as he considered his next words, before he finally spoke. "The... the SPECTRE that we took onboard. She said she was here for diplomatic reasons, but... that's not all of it, is it?"

Ah, so that's what this was about. Pallintus nodded, gesturing for Nihlos to walk with him, the officer accepting immediately. As they moved down the corridor, Pallintus spoke.

"No, you're correct, that isn't all." He sent a sideways glance at his officer, weighing his next words. "I don't suppose... that you heard the rumours about the new hacker, Mudanma?"

Nihlos tilted his head back. "Mudanma? That's the one that, if I remember correctly... their emblem is a Quarian mythological creature. They've been involved in a number of cyber attacks against a variety of criminal enterprises on Rannoch. Haven't heard much more than that." His head twitched forward, and he turned to Pallintus. "You don't mean...?"

Pallintus sighed. "Perhaps, perhaps not. All I know is what I've been able to wheedle out of other captains stationed in the Citadel's shadow, rumours that seem to imply that our ghost is specialized in cyber warfare and computers in general. Now, perhaps she's just here to follow up on some of the more major cybercrime organizations that have been forced to surface and scamper for the shadows in Mudanma's wake. Perhaps she's just here to make nice with some of the Quarian officials. Maybe she's here to sample a few bars and star some fights, I can't say for certain, but..." he turned into lift, turning and looking back at Nihlos, who was nodding.

"As my grandfather says, wherever a SPECTRE walks, a storm is soon to follow."

"True enough. We'll just have to hope we're ready when it comes." Pallintus nodded to him. "Good night, Nihlos."

"Peaceful shift, sir."

With that, the lift's doors shut, and Pallintus and Nihlos were each left to their thoughts.

About the author

Cammy Deer

  • Man in the Van with a Plan

Bio: Writer of many fics, reader of many more.

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