Authors: Drew Karpyshyn,William C. Dietz
Mass Effect: Revelation, Mass Effect: Ascension, Mass Effect: Retribution
Mass Effect: Deception
are works of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
A Del Rey eBook Edition
Mass Effect: Revelation
by Drew Karpyshyn copyright © 2007 by BioWare Corp.
Mass Effect: Ascension
by Drew Karpyshyn copyright © 2008 by BioWare Corp.
Mass Effect: Retribution
by Drew Karpyshyn copyright © 2010 EA International
Mass Effect: Deception
by William C. Deitz copyright © 2012 by EA International
All Rights Reserved.
Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
The novels contained in this omnibus were each published separately by Del Rey, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012.
eBook ISBN 978-0-345-54433-9
Mass Effect: Revelation
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
A Del Rey Books Mass Market Original
Copyright © 2007 by BioWare Corp. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.
MASS EFFECT © 2007 BioWare Corp. Mass Effect, BioWare Corp., the BioWare Corp. logo, BioWare and the BioWare logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of BioWare Corp. in the United States and other countries. All Rights Reserved.
Microsoft, the Microsoft Game Studios logo, Xbox 360, and the Xbox 360 logos are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and other countries.
Published in the United States by Del Rey Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
To my wife, Jennifer
While I’m in the throes of creative madness, you never nag me to do my laundry. You never get upset when I forget to wash the dishes, or get mad when I forget to help out around the house. You’re always there to read and review everything I write, and you always listen as I rant about all my crazy hopes and fears, even when I wake you up in the middle of the night to do it.
It’s all these things you do to help and support me that make you so special. And that’s why I love you.
Creating an intellectual property with the depth and scope of Mass Effect is an enormous undertaking that simply would not have been possible without the efforts of all my friends and coworkers at BioWare.
In particular I’d like to thank Casey Hudson and Preston Watamaniuk for helping to shape the overall vision of Mass Effect, and I’d like to make a special mention of all the writers at BioWare who have worked on the project: Chris L’Etoile (our resident technical expert and science guru), Luke Kristjansen, Mac Walters, Patrick Weekes, and Mike Laidlaw.
I also want to thank Keith Clayton, my editor at Del Rey, for all he’s done to help make my novel the best it could possibly be in the face of some rather tight deadlines.
This book could not have happened without these contributions, and I appreciate everything that you all have done.
“Approaching Arcturus. Disengaging FTL drive core.”
Rear Admiral Jon Grissom of the Alliance, the most famous man on Earth and its three fledgling interstellar colonies, glanced up briefly as the voice of the SSV
’s helmsman came over the shipboard intercom. A second later he felt the unmistakable deceleration surge as the vessel’s mass effect field generators wound down and the
dropped from faster-than-light travel into speeds more acceptable to an Einsteinian universe.
The ghostly illumination of the familiar red-shifted universe spilled in through the cabin’s tiny viewport, gradually cooling to more normal hues as they decelerated. Grissom hated the viewports; Alliance ships were purely instrument driven—they required no visual references of any kind. But all vessels were designed with several tiny ports and at least one main viewing window, typically on the bridge, as a concession to antiquated romantic ideals of space travel.
The Alliance worked hard to maintain these romantic ideals—they were good for recruitment. To people back on Earth, the unexplored vastness of space was still a wonder. Humanity’s expansion across the stars was a glorious adventure of discovery, and the mysteries of the galaxy were just waiting to be revealed.
Grissom knew the truth was much more complex. He had seen firsthand just how beautifully cold the galaxy could be. It was both magnificent and terrifying, and he knew there were some things humanity was not yet ready to face. The classified transmission he had received that morning from the base at Shanxi was proof of that.
In many ways humanity was like a child: naïve and sheltered. Not that this was surprising. In the whole of humanity’s long history it was only in the last two centuries that they had broken the bonds of Earth and ventured into the cold vacuum of space beyond. And true interstellar travel—the ability to journey to destinations beyond their own solar system—had only been made possible in the last decade. Less than a decade, in fact.
It was in 2148, a mere nine years ago, that the mining team on Mars had unearthed the remains of a long-abandoned alien research station deep beneath the planet’s surface. It was heralded as the most significant discovery in human history, a singular event that changed everything forever.
For the first time, humanity was faced with indisputable, incontrovertible proof that they were not alone in the universe. Every media outlet across the world had jumped on the story. Who were these mysterious aliens? Where were they now? Were they extinct? Would they return? What impact did they have on humanity’s past evolution? What impact would they have on humanity’s future? In those first few months, philosophers, scientists, and self-appointed experts endlessly debated the significance of the discovery on the news vids and across the info nets, vehemently and sometimes even violently.
Every major religion on Earth was rocked to its core. Dozens of new belief systems sprang up overnight, most of them based on the tenets of the Interventionary Evolutionists, who zealously proclaimed the discovery as proof that all human history had been directed and controlled by alien forces. Many existing faiths tried to incorporate the reality of alien species into their existing mythologies, others scrambled to rewrite their history, creeds, and beliefs in light of the new discovery. A stubborn few refused to acknowledge the truth, proclaiming the Mars bunker a secular hoax intended to deceive and mislead believers from the true path. Even now, nearly a decade later, most religions were still trying to reassemble the pieces.
The intercom crackled again, interrupting Grissom’s thoughts and drawing his focus away from the offending viewport and back to the shipboard speaker in the ceiling. “We are cleared for docking at Arcturus. ETA approximately twelve minutes.”
It had taken them nearly six hours to travel from Earth to Arcturus, the largest Alliance base outside humanity’s own solar system. Grissom had spent most of that time hunched over a data screen, looking through status reports and reviewing personnel files.
The journey had been planned months ago as a public relations event. The Alliance wanted Grissom to address the first class of recruits to graduate from the Academy at Arcturus, a symbolic passing of the torch from a legend of the past to the leaders of the future. But a few hours before they were about to depart, the message from Shanxi had radically altered the primary purpose of his trip.
The last decade had been a golden age for humanity, like some glorious dream. Now he was about to bring a grim reality crashing down on them.
was almost at its destination; it was time for him to leave the peace and solitude of the private cabin. He transferred the personnel files from the data terminal to a tiny optical storage disk, which he slipped into the breast pocket of his Alliance uniform. Then he logged off, pushing himself away from his chair and stiffly standing up.
His quarters were small and cramped, and the data station he’d been working at was far from comfortable. Space on Alliance vessels was limited, private cabins were typically reserved exclusively for the commanding officer of the ship. On most missions even VIPs were expected to use the common mess or the communal sleeping pods. But Grissom was a living legend, and for him exceptions could be made. In this case the captain had generously offered his own quarters for the relatively short trip to Arcturus.
Grissom stretched, trying to work the knots out of his neck and shoulders. The admiral rolled his head from side to side until he was rewarded with a satisfying crack of the vertebrae. He made a quick check of his uniform in the mirror—keeping up appearances was one of the burdens of fame—before stepping out the door to make his way to the bridge in the bow of the starship.
Various members of the crew paused in their duties to stand at attention and salute as he marched past their stations. He responded in kind, barely aware that he was doing so. In the eight years since he had become a hero of the human race, he’d developed an instinctive ability to acknowledge the gestures of respect and admiration without any conscious awareness.
Grissom’s mind was still distracted with thoughts of how much everything had changed with the discovery of the alien bunker on Mars … a line of thinking that was not surprising given the unsettling reports from Shanxi.
The revelation that humanity was not alone in the universe hadn’t just impacted Earth’s religions, it had far-reaching effects across the political spectrum as well. But where religion had descended into the chaos of schisms and extremist splinter groups, politically the discovery had actually drawn humanity closer together. It had fundamentally united the inhabitants of Earth, the swift and sudden culmination of the pan-global cultural identity that had been slowly but steadily developing over the last century.
Within a year the charter for the human Systems Alliance—the first all-encompassing global coalition—had been written and ratified by Earth’s eighteen largest nation-states. For the first time in recorded history the inhabitants of Earth began to see themselves as a single, collective group: human as opposed to alien.
The Systems Alliance Military—a force dedicated to the protection and defense of Earth and its citizens against non-Terran threats—was formed soon after, drawing resources, soldiers, and officers from nearly every military organization on the planet.
There were some who insisted the sudden unification of Earth’s various governments into a single political entity had happened a little too quickly and conveniently. The info nets were swarming with theories claiming the Mars bunker had actually been discovered long before it was publicly announced; the report of the mining team unearthing it was just a well-timed cover story. The formation of the Alliance, they asserted, was in fact the final stage of a long and complicated series of secret international treaties and clandestine backroom deals that had taken years or even decades to negotiate.
Public opinion generally dismissed such talk as conspiracy theory paranoia. Most people preferred the idealistic notion that the revelation was a catalyst that energized the governments and citizens of the world, driving them boldly forward into a brave new age of cooperation and mutual respect.
Grissom was too jaded to fully buy into that fantasy. Privately, he couldn’t help but wonder if the politicians had known more than they publicly admitted. Even now he wondered if the communications drone carrying the distress call from Shanxi had caught them by surprise. Or had they been expecting something like this even before the Alliance was formed?
As he neared the bridge, he pushed all thoughts of alien research stations and shady conspiracies from his head. He was a practical man. The details behind the discovery of the bunker and the formation of the Alliance didn’t really matter to him. The Alliance was sworn to protect and defend humanity throughout the stars, and everyone, including Grissom, had to play their part.
Captain Eisennhorn, commanding officer of the
gazed out through the large viewport built into the foredeck of the ship. What he saw there sent a shiver of wonder down his spine.
Outside the window, the massive Arcturus space station grew steadily larger as the
approached. The Alliance fleet—nearly two hundred vessels ranging from twenty-man destroyers to dreadnoughts with crews of several hundred—stretched out from it in all directions, surrounding the station like an ocean of steel. The entire scene was illuminated by the orange glow emanating from the type-K red giant far in the distance: Arcturus, the system’s sun for which the base had been named. The ships reflected the star’s fiery glow, gleaming as if they burned with the flames of truth and triumph.
Though Eisennhorn had been witness to this grand spectacle dozens of times, it never ceased to amaze him—a dazzling reminder of how far they had come in such a short time. The discovery on Mars had elevated humanity, binding them together with a new sense of singular purpose as top experts from every field had united their resources in one glorious project—an attempt to unravel the technological mysteries stored inside the alien bunker.
Almost immediately it had become apparent that the Protheans—the name given to the unknown alien species—had been far more technologically advanced than humanity … and that they had vanished long, long ago. Most estimates placed the find at nearly fifty thousand years old, predating the evolution of modern man. However, the Protheans had built the station from materials unlike anything found naturally on Earth, and even the passing of fifty millennia had done little to damage the valuable treasures inside.
Most remarkable were the data files the Protheans had left behind: millions of tetrabytes worth of knowledge—still viable, though compiled in a strange and unfamiliar language. Deciphering the contents of those data files became the holy grail of virtually every scientist on Earth. It took months of round-the-clock study, but eventually the code of the Prothean language was broken and the pieces began to fall into place.
For conspiracy theorists this was seen as fuel for their fire. It should have taken years, they argued, for anything useful to come out of the bunker. But their negativity went unheard or unheeded by most, left behind in the wake of spectacular scientific advances.
It was as if a dam had ruptured and a cascade of knowledge and discovery had been unleashed to flood the human psyche. Research that previously took decades to achieve results now seemed to require mere months. Through the adaptation of Prothean technology humanity was able to develop mass effect fields, enabling faster-than-light travel; no longer were vessels bound by the harsh and unforgiving limits of the space-time continuum. Similar leaps followed in other areas: clean and efficient new energy sources; ecological and environmental advances; terraforming.
Within a year the inhabitants of Earth began a rapid spread throughout the solar system. Ready access to resources from the other planets, moons, and asteroids allowed colonies to be established on orbiting space stations. Massive terraforming projects began to transform the lifeless surface of Earth’s own moon into a habitable environment. And Eisennhorn, like most people, didn’t care to listen to those who stubbornly claimed humanity’s new Golden Age was a carefully orchestrated sham that had actually begun decades earlier.
“Officer on deck!” one of the crewmen barked out.
The sound of the entire bridge staff standing to salute the new arrival told Captain Eisennhorn who it was even before he turned around. Admiral Jon Grissom was a man who commanded respect. Serious and stern, there was a gravity about him, an undeniable
in his mere presence.
“I’m surprised you’re here,” Eisennhorn said under his breath, turning back to gaze once more at the scene outside the window as Grissom crossed the bridge and took up position beside him. They’d known each other for nearly twenty years, having met as raw recruits during basic training with the U.S. Marine Corps before the Alliance even existed. “Aren’t you the one who’s always saying the viewports are a tactical weakness on Alliance ships?” Eisennhorn added.
“Have to do my part for the morale of the crew,” Grissom whispered back. “Figured I could help reinforce the glory of the Alliance if I came up here and stared out at the fleet all wistful and misty-eyed like you.”
“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy,” Eisennhorn admonished him. “Sir Isaac Newton said that.”
“I don’t have any enemies,” Grissom muttered. “I’m a goddamned hero, remember?”
Eisennhorn considered Grissom a friend, but that didn’t change the fact that he was a difficult man to like. Professionally the admiral projected the perfect image for an Alliance officer: smart, tough, and demanding. On duty, he carried himself with an air of fierce purpose, unshakable confidence, and absolute authority that inspired loyalty and devotion in his troops. On a personal level, however, he could be moody and sullen. Things had only gotten worse once he’d been so visibly thrust into the public eye as an icon representing the entire Alliance. Years of being in the spotlight had seemingly transformed his harsh pragmatism into cynical pessimism.