united under two skies

Chapter 3

Commander Jane Shepard sidestepped slowly in a circle with her fists up in defensive position against the bald biotic in front of her. Jack circled as well but had a more relaxed stance and a wicked smile on her face that oozed with obvious delight. Shepard and Jack had made it a habit to spar in the cargo bay after ground missions, and the matches usual ended in a standoff. Even though neither woman was any bigger or stronger than the other, but the battle between Jack's savagery and Shepard's skill and calm demeanor made for a good match.

"Not so light on your feet today, huh girl scout?" Jack said as she threw a kick at Shepard's head.

Shepard blocked the hit and jabbed at jack's head before saying "You try fighting as platoon of mercs and not lose a little steam"

Jack ducked down and sent a blast of biotic energy into Shepard's abdomen sending her back a few feet. Jack went forward and lightly punched Shepard in the stomach sending her to the floor outside the impromptu ring. Shepard jumped back up her dark black hair now out of its ponytail flying in every direction, and cracked her knuckles before saying:

"That was cheap"

Jack only smirks before bracing for Shepard's inevitable counter attack when EDI's holographic form appears between the two.

"Commander, Mordin wishes to see you in his lab regarding the artifact you recovered on your last mission" EDI states before blinking out

"Looks like we'll have to continue this later" Shepard says throwing on her N7 hoodie and making her way to the elevator.

"Anytime girl scout" Jack called as the elevator doors closed.

When Shepard arrived at the lab she saw that Mordin was pacing around a bright green device muttering faintly. Shepard and her team recovered the device from a Blue Suns outpost after the mercenaries attacked an alliance dig site. The device was about the size and height of an end table with a strange almost organic flower like design with a trapezoidal crystal jutting out of its center.

When the salarian saw Shepard he smiled and said:

"Ah Shepard, been running tests on artifact findings…. troubling"

"What do you mean troubling?" Shepard asked examining the glowing device.

"Device emitting energy, didn't notice tell till now, but complications imminent" Mordin said tapping several buttons as a scanner flew around the device "took every precaution of course but underestimated artifacts power; must get crew off Normandy now"

"What's going on Mordin?" Shepard asked as Mordin activated several barriers around the device.

"Device causing quasi-dimensional cracks must leave now, Shepard" the salarian said looking distressed "Must leave before device activates"

Shepard began to question, but as her mouth opened the device began to hum. The pair looked to the device and Mordin yelled "Problematic". The Normandy's lights began to flicker and a slight vibration shook the hull; the device began to glow even brighter.

"We're spacing that thing now" Shepard yelled rushing the device, as she did a pulse of green energy erupted from the device throwing both her and Mordin into the wall. Through a haze Shepard saw the device rise as pulses of green energy erupted from its core before her gaze shifted to the small window and saw that the blackness of space had been replaced by swirls of green light before shifting to blue sky. Shepard regained her composure and lifted Mordin up from the ground and yelled:

"Lock that thing down now; I have to get to Joker" she exited the lab into the CIC where the crew were desperately trying to keep their footing; she moved swiftly to the cockpit where Joker was desperately trying to keep the Normandy stable.

"Joker status report"

"Not good commander; one minute we're flying through empty space and the next our mass effect core goes offline and suddenly I'm flying through atmosphere" Joker replied as a blasted and grey landscape unfolded beneath them and a massive building came into view, directly ahead "Hold on this is going to be close"

Joker turned the ship sharply to the right just missing the building but veered out of control skidding along the sandy ground before coming to a stop amongst a small cluster of ragged homes.

Shepard activated the comm system and addressed the crew:

"Status report"

Tali's voice replied "everyone's okay in engineering; what happened?"

"Working on it"

"This is the crew deck; no casualties to report, but several are injured" Thane commed in "siha what's going on?"

"I'll tell you when I find out myself" Shepard replied turning back to the CIC where Jacob and Mordin were helping with the wounded "Make sure things are okay on each level and gather the rest of the squad in the communications room"

"Got it" Tali replied her line going dead.

"Of course siha"

After the lines went dead Shepard turned back to Joker who was furiously inputting commands:

"Joker what can you tell me about the surroundings"

"Desert terrain with what looks like ruins of …. suburban homes, and a shit ton of ambient radiation; not enough to be really harmful but I wouldn't stand outside for long" Joker said as read out after read out appeared as well as snap shots of the surroundings appeared "If I didn't know any better I'd say those ruins looked like something out of one of those old vids about the fifties"

"Get me as much data on the surroundings as you can; I'll be in the communications room with the rest of the squad" Shepard said as she gestured for Mordin and Jacob to follow her to the communications room where her other squad mates waited.

When they arrived EDI appeared in the center of the table and said;

"Commander, Jeff and I have completed a sweep of the surroundings and have completed a scan of the Normandy's systems"

"What have you got for us EDI?"

"The scans show a large cluster of buildings to the north reminiscent of architecture from the American 1950's on earth, but appear to be in a state of minor disrepair; the amount of ambient nuclear radiation suggest at least a minor nuclear conflict sometime in the last two centuries and judging from the style of the buildings it appears we are near the earth city of Las Vegas"

"EDI I've been to Vegas, it's nothing but city for miles" Jacob said as he leaned against one of the walls.

"I am only relaying what the data suggests no matter how implausible it might seem" EDI explained before continuing "The Normandy's core systems are at reduced capacity but are operational excluding the mass effect core. The core seems to be in working order with no damage or malfunction detectable but will not produce a mass effect field"

"My biotics don't work either" Jack explained raising her fists trying to summon biotic energy to no avail "not getting shit"

"I seem to be in the same situation" Samara said with a frown.

Shepard looked to Miranda and Jacob who both replied "same with us"

"Have theory" Mordin said bringing up a holographic image of the device "Recovered Device capable of trans-universal travel will need time to test but strong evidence to support hypothesis; current universe's physics fundamentally different making mass effect fields an impossibility"

"Another universe that sounds like something out of a b movie" Kasumi uttered to herself.

"Never a dull moment on this ship, is there?" Za'eed said laughing.

"So we're in another universe with no mass effect core, biotics, or assistance from Cerberus or the alliance; the question now is how do we get home?" Shepard said digesting the new information in front of her.

"Working on solution; currently attempting connection to device through Normandy systems will have results soon" Mordin said smiling "if possible to travel possible to travel home"

"Get on that Mordin" Shepard ordered "In the meantime we need to get Intel on our surroundings; I'll take a team out and look around. Thane and Grunt suit up"

"OF course; the dry air will do my condition wonders" Thane says before giving Shepard's hand a squeeze and exits the room.

Grunt on the other hand just pounds his fists together and laughs before leaving the room. The others leave the room silently leaving the room empty except for Garrus and Shepard.

"Just when I think we can't get into any stranger situations something like this happens" Garrus says grinning

"Honestly at this point I wouldn't expect anything less" Shepard replies before exiting the room.

After putting her armor on she met Grunt and Thane at the airlock. Doctor Chakwas was there injecting something into each both of the aliens and when Shepard arrived the veteran doctor stabbed her neck with a needle.

"What was that for doctor?" Shepard yelled rubbing her neck.

"Anti-radiation medicine; it will hopefully keep you safe out there" Chakwas replied before she walked off to help a wounded man fix his brace.

Shepard turned to Thane and Grunt before saying;

"Look since mass effect fields are totally ineffective here our weapons and shields are completely useless so this is strictly recon and if anything gets hairy we get back to the Normandy ASAP"

"Of course siha" Thane replies

"Good now I can punch anything that gets in our way" Grunt says cracking his knuckles.

A moment later the airlock doors open to desert terrain and ruins. Shepard cautiously takes a step out into the sun light shielding her eyes as she looks around. They had landed under a massive highway a few miles off from a tightly clustered section of city surrounded by a massive wall made from what looked like old neon signs and scrap metal. AS she looked around she noticed a large dust cloud approaching; as it got closer Shepard could see what looked to be a truck in the center of a group of twelve blocky looking mechs on wheels. She placed a hand on her useless gun at her hip and waited as the group grew closer. When the group arrived a tall thin man stepped out of the truck.

He wore a long black duster fitted with plating and normal clothes beneath it and a pistol on his left hip. His slicked back red hair had a pair of clear goggles resting atop them and a cigarette hanged loosely from his lips sending trails of smoke upward as his grey eyes intently examined the scene. Soon a woman came to stand by the man's side wearing leather armor and a mechanized glove on her right hand and a spherical robot floated just behind them beeping softly. The man stared at Shepard for a long time before looking behind her to where Grunt and Thane stood bracing for action. After an eternity he spoke:

"Who the fuck are you?" he yells taking a long drag off of his cigarette before raising his fist in the air causing the robots to raise their arms obviously priming weapons "And I sincerely hope you have a good answer"


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