2186, March 09
BARAKA ENDOULI was forced by gambling debts owed to the hanar bookie, Delriander, to accept a job offer from a mysterious organization to do weapons research at an isolated lab on the other side of the Omega 4 Relay. Wanting to get away from the Jelly Fish’s leg breakers (who had visited their attentions on the doctor on more than one occasion) he leaped at the chance to work in the isolated lab. Also, he hoped to make enough money to pay off the belligerent crime lord.
He had quickly deduced that he was working for Cerberus who had need of his scientific acumen despite the fact that he wasn’t human. He was stationed at Avernus Station in the Galactic Core where Cerberus was studying the remains of the Collector Base that Commander Shepard had destroyed as well as the debris of ancient ships that hadn’t survived the trip through the Mass Effect Relay.
After working in the lab for a year he had gone to Omega to pay off his debt but was enticed instead to play a backroom card game at the Afterlife Club. He lost all of his saved up money and was forced to leave the station quickly after a bounty hunter attempted to capture him. Unbeknownst to him he had also come to the attention of the Alliance’s ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) as a possible asset at that time.
Doctor Endouli enjoyed his time at the station despite the prejudice he faced from almost all of his peers. After all the only other nonhuman he worked with at the station was an asari doctor by the name of Rana Thanoptis but she worked primarily in Lab Seven which was a bio lab completely isolated from the rest of the facility. However, he became increasingly alarmed when his fellow scientists started to disappear after they had finished their research never to be heard from again. Perhaps even more disconcerting was that several of his fellows started acting oddly. Doctor Thanoptis explained to him that they were exhibiting all the primary symptoms of Indoctrination just before she escaped the station on a shuttle urging the Salarian to do the same. Sadly, station security increased quite a bit after her departure.
Shortly afterward The Reapers appeared attacking Earth and the rest of the galaxy. When he was contacted by an Alliance agent who offered the doctor a way off the station he seized his chance. All the ONI agent asked is that the doctor acquire the base’s database in payment.
The doctor managed to give the ONI agent the Reaper IFF codes to allow an Alliance ship to make it through the relay safely and waited for his extraction. The plan was for the Alliance Frigate Midway , a Normandy Class vessel with stealth technology to shadow a supply convoy through the Relay under its cloak. The ONI agent would be on one of the freighters and would disable its sensors to help mask the Midway’s arrival in the system. A task greatly aided by the huge amount of ambient radiation from all the black holes in the Galactic Core. Once safely through the Omega 4 Relay the Midway would drop a Mako IFV with Marines from the 103rd Division (Special Forces) to the surface of the Avernus Station asteroid. Baraka would have to disable the station’s seismic sensors for them to land undetected as well as download the database from the main facility and make his way to the isolated Weapons Annex where he worked to rendezvous with the Marines. As with most plans it did not survive first contact with the enemy.
Almost immediately after entering the system and dropping the Mako the Midway started taking fire from the Cerberus forces (a cruiser, two frigates and a dreadnought commanded by OLEV PETROVSKY) stationed at the Tartarus Debris Field. Badly outgunned the Midway was severely damaged. With a heartfelt regret it broadcast a signal to the marines that she would have to attempt to leave the system. This meant that the marines would have to rely on capturing a Cerberus vehicle to make their escape. They were on their own.
Baraka Endouli had managed to bluff his way past the suspicious sentries that guarded the entrance to the main facility at the tram tunnel that led to the Weapons Annex where he lived and worked. He wasn’t entirely successful in making them believe that he had to access the Control Room mainframe to prevent a possible cascade failure in the system because they insisted that he take an escort to keep an eye on him. When he arrived at the Control Room he managed to to convince the scientist stationed there, a Doctor Smith, that he had important work to do and was granted access. The nervous salarian immediately began the download after disabling all of the alarms on the station. While doing so he overheard Smith speaking into the comm about an Alliance Frigate that had been chased off while trying to enter the system. Almost completely panicked at the news Baraka finished his tasks and was ordered to leave by the Cerberus Guard.
Meanwhile, CPL. COHEN aided by PFC SEYMORE on sensors and at copilot, managed to pilot the Mako to the surface of the asteroid without being detected. The landing was nearly picture perfect with the IFV’s shocks barely being tested. Unfortunately the Mako’s sensors were completely useless because of the radiation and LT. MASON had difficulty figuring out where to go. Seymore did a low level hack of the disabled seismic sensors and gathered geographic data for the best route to the Weapons Annex. It would take them a little over an hour to make their way to the rendezvous.
Back in the control room, Dr. Smith, one of the few humans that actually treated Baraka Endouli with respect, informed the Doctor that a shuttle from the resupply freighters had docked and was requesting that he go there and sign for a “Exogeni Mk V Calibrator” that he had ordered for his research. While it was true that he had placed an order for the rare part the relief he felt wasn’t due to the fact that it was being delivered 2 weeks ahead of time. It excited him because it was a code that he had developed with his ONI contact that meant that he wanted to speak to him. Perhaps he would make his escape after all! He managed to convince the guard to let him go to the dock to get the equipment. He was followed by his guard to the hanger all the while trying to figure out a way to get to his concealed pistol to take him out. He had just given up on the whole idea because the guard was too vigilant when an omni-blade seemed to simply erupt out of the troopers chest from nowhere. It was then that he noticed the body of his the ONI Agent lying tied up in the cargo bed of the shuttle. Despite his panic the salarian quickly deduced that the Midway was likely discovered because the ONI Agent had been disabled before he could mask the frigate’s entry into the Tartarus System.
The Drell appeared out of nowhere as he decloaked. He calmly introduced himself as KOTA PARHANI and informed Doctor Endouli that he had been sent to collect him and return him to his master, Delriander. He assured the doctor that he would offer him no violence and asked him to please board the shuttle so that he could complete his task.
At that moment two more Cerberus Assault Troopers appeared and demanded an explanation. Endouli screamed at them for help and that the drell was trying to kidnap him! That was when there was a huge volume of gunfire and screaming followed by a huge explosion from the direction of the station’s main reactor. The lights went out immediately and the salarian gambler ran for his life.
In the meantime, after evading a Cerberus foot patrol while driving the Marine laden Mako Corporal Cohen was ordered to scout ahead and see if their target had made it to the air lock that they were to pick him up at. Cohen used his tactical cloak and simply vanished. It was almost eerie how he didn’t even leave any footprints or raise up any dust as he approached the station. He noticed almost immediately that main power was out and alarm lights were flashing as a team of 24 Cerberus troopers, including Assault Troopers, Guardians, Centurions, an Engineer and even a Nemesis were quickly gearing up with a frantic efficiency. He was able to follow them through the windows as they headed off toward the tram tunnels that lead to the main facility.
At the orders of the Lieutenant, Seymour hacked into the Cerberus System gaining full access with some brilliant programming. He immediately intercepted a chilling transmission that he passed on to his squad:
Mass Effect: Invasion #1 © Dark Horse Comics
Accessing what he could the young Techie discovered partial files on the Adjutants. What he read chilled him to the bone. They were apparently smart enough to realize that the alarms had been disabled by the Salarian doctor that had brought the marines to Tartarus. They had escaped and blown the main reactor before attacking the Cerberus personnel with murderous abandon. With their infectious abilities and high intelligence they could wipe out whole planets!
Lieutenant Mason immediately ordered the marines of second squad, PFC SEYMORE, PFC MAKOWSKI, CPL PRANGLEY, CPL. COHEN and PFC BANKOLE, led by GUNNERY CHIEF CLARK to enter the Weapons Annex and make their way through the tram tunnels and pick up their target. Now more than ever it was imperative to get the full files from the Cerberus Mainframe. If the Adjutants escaped it would require everything they had to defeat them especially when they were also battling the Reapers. Mason would secure the Annex for the marine’s retreat along with first squad. When they gathered the doctor they would unite and take a Cerberus shuttle back through the Relay.
They made it to the tram and realized that it was down with the power being out. The young Boy Wonder, Seymore, came to the rescue again and was able to jury rig the tram with enough power to make the trip to the main facility.That was where he had last spotted the doctor on surveillance cameras. They made fast time passing the Cerberus troops that had preceded them into the unlit tunnels so quickly that not a shot was fired. Although one Centurion managed to throw a grenade that fell far short of the Marine Squad.
Doctor Endouli ran headlong down the corridors of the outpost while the drell gracefully dispatched the two distracted Cerberus Troops. The salarian scientist desperately tried to open the secured door at the end of the hallway with his omni-tool just as the bounty hunter reached him. Once again the reptilian bounty hunter entreated Edouli to come with him and he wouldn’t be hurt. The salarian politely pointed out that while the drell may have meant him no harm his master certainly wouldn’t share that position. With a sad expression of regret on his face the drell attempted to immobilize the defiant doctor with a neural shock. He was unprepared for the doctors own excellent counter measures however and with a flare from his omni tool he was able to snuff out the drell’s attack. The doctor then leaped through the now open door and set up a subroutine on his omni tool to automatically open the doors ahead of him and close and lock them them behind him as he passed through the station. Just before the door closed behind him he saw a blue arm grab the surprised drell from behind and drag him into a side passage. This was followed by several gunshots as he defended himself from his attacker.
When they arrived at the main facility the Marines faced another whole platoon of Cerberus troops. Despite their best efforts the Alliance squad was hard pressed given that they were outnumbered 4 to 1. The Chief deployed his men quite well though and the young vanguard, Bankoli was able to do a biotic charge into the enemy disabling several while bowling over more of them. But this left him exposed to enemy fire and his shields and barriers were quickly battered down with concentrated fire. Markowski made his way to the diminutive vanguard hoping to protect him as a fusillade of gunfire sought him out.
The squad was elated as they finally spotted Baraka Endouli who ran into the tram station at full speed. He attacked the Cerberus troops from behind with a high intensity plasma blast from his omni tool incinerating several of them while causing others to panic as the flames burned them. The huge soldier targeted the Cerberus Nemesis on the catwalk at the Chief’s order riddling her with rounds from his M-8 Avenger. Cohen demonstrated his deadliness with several well placed sniper rounds but the Cerberus Guardians were making their way inexorably closer to the Alliance positions protected by their heavy shields and the turret set up by the Cerberus Engineer was taking its toll on the beleaguered marines. It was the turret’s rapid firing which finally pierced the doctor’s overtaxed shields wounding him in the thigh. He went down howling in pain as Bankoli and Makowski desperately sought to protect him. Seymore quickly Overloaded the turret’s shields and the Chief managed to blast it into scrap with a well placed burst from his M-8. That was when Jason used his biotics to create a singularity lifting the Engineer into the air leaving him completely vulnerable to gunfire.
Just as the Guardians were bearing down on the desperate marines their heads erupted from gun blasts just behind them. The drell’s graceful form materialized and he called out to the doctor over the gun play. He asked him if he would be interested in a truce? He would make sure that he and the marines escaped the Cerberus station if they promised to take him with them. The salarian emphatically agreed to those terms and the drell gracefully dropped the remaining Guardians along with several Assault Troopers who could not seem to slow the elusive drell down.
At that point the Cerberus morale broke and they quickly retreated down a corridor to escape the deadly bounty hunter and Alliance Marines. They did not live long as they were ambushed by Adjutants who were ready to pounce on the weakened prey. The marines quickly found some power cells for the young engineer to rig up to the tram and they made their way down the long tunnel without passing the other Cerberus platoon. Where had they gone? Realizing that they must have doubled back Clark immediately tried to raise 1st Squad on his comm link. There was only static for an answer…