Mass Effect: Shadows Rising
Mass Effect 2 Summary
The Illusive Man and Miranda Lawson discuss Commander Shepard’s actions in deciding the outcome of the Battle of the Citadel. Both of them agree that the Commander’s efforts are being wasted on hunting geth holdouts from the battle, and they are of one mind that Shepard is essential to Cerberus if there is to be any hope in stopping the true enemy: the Reapers.
One month after the battle, the SSV Normandy is on patrol to locate and destroy any remaining geth. At the Terminus Systems, it comes under attack from an unknown assailant, its stealth systems ineffective against the massive vessel. The ship suffers extensive damage and numerous casualties, forcing the remaining crew to evacuate via escape pods.
Joker, the helmsman, continues to pilot the ship despite the received damage to it. He is rescued by Shepard, who drags Joker out of his seat and into an escape pod. Before the Commander may board the escape pod, however, the Normandy is attacked once again and Shepard is sent flying amidst a series of explosions. Debris slices through Shepard’s suit and air vents out. Shepard asphyxiates and dies; the Commander’s body is seen entering the atmosphere of a nearby planet.
Commander Shepard awakens in the year 2185 aboard a Cerberus space station, a research facility of the Lazarus Project, which is under attack by hacked security mechs. Shepard aids Cerberus agents Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor in escaping, and then is taken to another space station and granted an audience with the Illusive Man. The Cerberus leader explains that Shepard was revived and “upgraded” in return for the Commander’s aid in combating a new threat: human colonies have been attacked, their colonists deemed missing.
Shepard and the team are dispatched to investigate the recently attacked colony of Freedom’s Progress, located in the Terminus Systems. There, the group encounters Tali’Zorah vas Neema, one of Shepard’s former squad members, and discovers that the mysterious insect-like Collectors were behind the attack and are responsible for the further abductions of other human colonies.
Shepard reports this to the Illusive Man, who then places Shepard in command of the Normandy SR-2, a larger ship modeled after the original Normandy SR-1. Two faces from the previous ship, Joker and Dr. Chakwas, are revealed to have staffed the new one when Cerberus sought them out. An artificial intelligence, EDI, is also introduced as the Normandy’s cyberwarfare suite and overt surveillance mechanism.
With the guidance of the Illusive Man, Shepard begins traveling across the galaxy to recruit a new team for what is assumed to be a suicide mission.
Recruiting a Team
The Illusive Man initially provides Shepard with four dossiers regarding potential recruits: a salarian scientist, a mysterious vigilante called Archangel, a krogan warlord, and a powerful but psychotic biotic.
The salarian, Mordin Solus, is found on Omega and is working to stop a plague engineered by the Collectors but distributed throughout Omega by the vorcha. The vigilante Archangel is also on Omega, holding out on his own in a battle against three mercenary gangs.
After reaching Archangel’s hideout, Shepard learns that Archangel is actually Garrus Vakarian, a former C-Sec agent. Garrus is seriously injured while battling the mercenaries, and, although he is permanently disfigured, he survives and joins the team.
The krogan warlord, Okeer, is found on Korlus attempting to create the perfect krogan through unethical genetic research. When the warlord is killed, he leaves his creation, Grunt, under the care of Shepard.
The biotic, known as “Subject Zero”, is revealed to be a human woman named Jack. Cerberus arranges for her to be purchased from the prison holding her; Shepard travels to the Purgatory prison ship. Once there, however, Shepard is betrayed by the warden as he attempts to capture Shepard for a bounty. Shepard manages to escape the trap and rescue Jack, who joins the team despite an initial distrust of Cerberus operatives.
After the recruitment of the four characters, the Illusive Man reveals that a human colony called Horizon has come under Collector attack, and he dispatches the team in an attempt to save the colony. He also notes that one of Shepard’s surviving crew members, Ashley Williams is stationed at the colony to oversee the construction of massive defense towers.
Shepard arrives with a team and battles the Collectors face-to-face; the group appears to have arrived too late as half of the colonists have already been taken away. Shepard’s team is able to activate the colony’s defense cannons and turn them on the Collector ship, which then flees the planet under heavy fire. Shepard later reunites with the Virmire survivor, who leaves feeling betrayed by Shepard working for Cerberus.
After returning to the Normandy, it is revealed that the Illusive Man allowed the Collectors to attack Horizon by leaking a tip to the Alliance that Shepard is alive and working with Cerberus. The Collectors intercepted this message and attacked the colony. The Illusive Man suspected the Collectors were looking for Shepard or people connected to Shepard. It soon becomes clear that the Collectors are targeting Shepard.
Further Team Building
Shepard is provided with dossiers on three more potential recruits: an asari Justicar, a drell assassin, and Tali. Shepard finds the Justicar, Samara, on Illium. She joins the team after Shepard investigates the Eclipse mercenary group and its involvement in a murder.
The drell assassin, Thane Krios, is also found on Illium and is in the midst of completing an assassination contract on Nassana Dantius. After learning of Thane’s next target, Shepard fights resistances along the way to the top floor of the tower complex where the target is located. Shepard encounters Thane, who successfully dispatches his target and joins the team, as Shepard can provide him with a purpose.
Tali is found on a geth-occupied quarian colony world, Haestrom, where she is researching the system’s rapidly dying sun. After she is rescued from an immense geth force, she agrees to join Shepard.
The Illusive Man informs Shepard that a turian patrol engaged a Collector ship and managed to disable it before being destroyed, creating an opportunity to investigate the ship before either the turians or the Collectors respond. The Illusive Man requests the team to find any data or technology that can help them on their mission.
Upon boarding the ship, Shepard discovers many empty Collector pods, as well as the bodies of dead human colonists, apparently subjected to various experiments by the Collectors. Shepard then learns that the Collectors had also been experimenting on their own, with EDI saying that they appeared to be researching their own genetic similarity to humans. EDI’s genetic analysis of the deceased Collectors reveals that they are in fact the long extinct Protheans, having been subjected to extensive genetic modification to alter them for the Reapers’ purposes.
As Shepard proceeds deeper into the ship, Joker discovers that it is in fact exactly the same Collector vessel responsible for the attack on Horizon and the destruction of the original Normandy, which Shepard remarks is far too uncanny to be coincidence. When Shepard’s team reaches the center of the ship, they discover that it contains millions of empty pods, more than enough to hold every human in the Terminus Systems, thus indicating that their ultimate target must be Earth.
Shepard is able to link EDI with the Collector ship’s systems in order to search for any useful information, but she is quickly interrupted as she discovers that the ship is not disabled; the Collectors have drawn the Normandy into a trap. EDI also reveals that the Illusive Man knew of the trap all along but still sent Shepard and the Normandy to the ship in order to gain information. Shepard and the squad fight their way out and escape from the ship on the Normandy before the Collector vessel can bring its weapons to bear.
After escaping, Shepard demands answers from the Illusive Man, who freely admits to the deception. He claims it was necessary in order for the Collectors to believe they have the upper hand: telling Shepard about it would have tipped the Collectors off.
After talking his way out of the argument, the Illusive Man reveals the data gathered by EDI has led to the discovery of the Collectors’ means of traversing the Omega-4 Relay: an advanced Reaper IFF system. EDI is able to calculate the location of the Collector homeworld from their ship’s navigational data, and reveals it to be within the galactic core, an extremely dangerous area, which likely accounts for the fact that no ships ever return from the other side of the Omega-4 Relay.
The Illusive Man then reveals that Cerberus has located a derelict Reaper orbiting a remote planet, evidently destroyed millions of years beforehand, and sent a science team there to recover an IFF transponder. Contact has been lost with the expedition there, and the Cerberus head would like Shepard’s team to go there and find out what happened.
During the course of the investigation, Shepard discovers that the Cerberus science team members had all been killed before their arrival. Video logs left by the science team make it evident that even though the Reaper is no longer sentient or functional, the indoctrination effect that emanates from all Reapers is still present.
The derelict ship automatically activates its shields, isolating Shepard’s team from the Normandy and thus making their only means of escape to destroy the ship’s power core, which is also powering the ship’s latent mass effect fields and preventing it from plunging into the planet below. Battling their way through the Husks on board, Shepard and the team are assisted by a single geth platform, somehow able to talk and also apparently friendly.
Shepard and the team recover the IFF and fight to the core of the ship, where the mysterious geth assists them once again before being disabled. As the Reaper’s core is destroyed, its shields disappear and Shepard’s team are able to escape to the Normandy before crashing into the planet, along with the disabled geth. Following the mission, Shepard may choose to either turn the geth over to Cerberus for research or activate it. If activated, the geth will be named Legion by EDI and joins the team against the Collectors.
Shortly after, Shepard departs with the recruited members on a shuttle towards their next mission as the Normandy prepares the IFF for testing in their absence. However, EDI discovers a hidden signal after activating the IFF, and realizes that the IFF is broadcasting the Normandy’s position. This turns out to be another trap set by the Collectors, as their ship is able to surprise the Normandy with Shepard’s entire team absent.
Collectors board and seize control of the ship, and Joker is forced to remove EDI’s behavioral locks to enact countermeasures—a potentially dangerous move. After successfully regaining control of the ship, EDI manages to pilot the Normandy away from the Collectors and rid the ship of all enemies, but the entire crew barring Joker is taken by the Collectors. Upon returning to the ship, Having already gained the loyalty of her whole crew she automatically went through the Omega 4 Relay to go and save her crew.
Beyond the Relay
Eventually, Shepard decides to travel through the Omega 4 Relay. Multiple factors come into play that decide the survival of Shepard, the kidnapped crew, and the gathered squad of specialists.
Upon exiting the far side of the relay, the Normandy appears in the midst of a vast debris field containing the wreckage of thousands of ships, presumably all destroyed attempting to traverse the relay. The Collectors have stationed automated defenses in the debris field, each known as an Oculus, which the Normandy fights off.
Hull breaches enable one Oculus to maraud inside the Normandy’s cargo bay, necessitating defensive action from Shepard and a squad. After defeating the Oculus and reaching the far side of the debris field, the Normandy discovers the Collector Base, a giant space station orbiting a black hole. The Collector Cruiser is dispatched from the station, and the Normandy engages and destroys it, but as it explodes the blast cripples the Normandy causing it to crash-land on the outer surface of the base. Having fully upgraded the ship they where no more worse for wear.
Shepard and the team enter the station and battle their way through the Collectors to the station’s core, rescuing any surviving Normandy crew as they go. Shepard went right through the relay and chose all the right people for the mission she did not loose any of her stolen crew.
Upon reaching the heart of the station, they discover that the Collectors have been constructing a new human-like Reaper, made from the genetic material of the abducted humans and fused with the advanced technology of the Reapers. EDI hypothesizes that the Reapers attempted and failed to create a Prothean-Reaper, and instead enslaved them and turned them into the Collectors, and that they are now facilitating the Reaper equivalent of reproduction. EDI also guesses that due to its human appearance, Reapers are crafted to resemble the race from whose genetic material they are created. Shepard targets the weak supports of the contraption, which is in the very early stages of its construction, and it is seen collapsing into the lower confines of the area. Shepard then sets about with the plan to destroy the station.
At this point, the Illusive Man contacts Shepard and suggests that instead, use a radiation pulse be employed to kill all of the Collectors on board, but keep the station intact to allow Cerberus to research its technology. The Illusive Man notes that any information obtained from the Collector Base would be very valuable in the coming war against the Reapers, in addition to strengthening humanity’s position in the galaxy against other races.
Shepard choose to refuse the Illusive Man’s advice and destroyed the station. If Shepard chooses to destroy the station, Miranda is with the Commander, then the Illusive Man orders Miranda to stop Shepard from destroying the base. However, Miranda, seeing the Illusive Man as a power-hungry madman, chooses to follow Shepard over the Illusive Man by resigning from Cerberus, depending on her loyalty to Shepard.
When Shepard makes the decision regarding the station’s fate and begins the countdown, the Human-Reaper resurfaces from the depths of the station and attacks Shepard’s team. After Shepard and the team destroy the Reaper, the surviving squad members escape to the Normandy and flee the station. Seconds before the station’s destruction, Harbinger abandons the Collectors to their fate, berating them for their failure and declaring that the Reapers “will find another way.”
Aboard the Normandy, Shepard converses with the Illusive Man a final time, who is either thankful or extremely angry with Shepard depending on the choice regarding the station. Shepard can either cut the Illusive Man off or promise him that they’ll find another way to stop the Reapers with or without the Illusive Man’s help or involvement.
Somewhere in dark space, the Reapers are shown awakening from their aeons-long slumber and setting a course toward the galaxy.
Admiral Hackett contacts Commander Shepard to ask for help rescuing Dr. Amanda Kenson, an Alliance deep-cover operative in batarian space who has come across evidence that a Reaper invasion is imminent. Hackett explains that Kenson was recently captured by batarians and charged with terrorism. Wanting to avoid a diplomatic incident with the Batarian Hegemony, Hackett requests Shepard go in solo and rescue the scientist as a favor. Shepard agrees to help and uses coordinates given by Hackett to travel to the batarian prison on the planet Aratoht where Kenson is being held.
Landing outside the prison, Shepard makes it past several security measures and prison guards. Shepard locates Kenson in the middle of an interrogation and frees her. Shepard and Kenson fight past more guards and escape the planet on a batarian shuttle.
On the way to Kenson’s team’s base, she reveals that she and her team had entered batarian space to investigate rumors of Reaper technology orbiting on the fringes of the Bahak system. The team discovered a Reaper artifact they dubbed “Object Rho” hidden in the asteroids near the system’s mass relay, and learned from it that the Reapers were rapidly approaching. The Reapers could use the system’s mass relay, the “Alpha Relay”, to strike anywhere in the galaxy.
Kenson and her team started what they called “the Project” to prevent this from happening. Their plan was to hurl a large asteroid at the Alpha Relay and destroy it, delaying the Reapers’ plans by months or even years as they are forced to find another relay. A consequence of this plan would be that the relay’s supernova-like explosion would obliterate the Bahak system and kill the 300,000 inhabitants of Aratoht. Since the stakes are so high, Shepard insists on seeing Kenson’s evidence first. Kenson agrees and informs her team at the Project Base that she and Shepard are en route.
At the Project Base, Shepard notices a numeric readout above the hangar gateway. Kenson says that the readout is a countdown to the Reapers’ arrival; in two days, the Reapers will be at the Alpha Relay. The countdown itself is based on pulses emitted by Object Rho. The pulses are reactions to the Reapers’ proximity and the intervals between them have been decreasing steadily. In little over 48 hours, the pulses will become constant and the Reapers will have arrived.
As Kenson leads Shepard to Object Rho, she explains that “the Project” is ready to go. The team hasn’t been debating if it could be carried out, but rather if it should be. The Reapers will arrive regardless, but without the shortcut that the Alpha Relay provides, they would be forced to spend months or even years more traveling to another relay.
At the lab, Kenson presents Object Rho to Shepard. The Commander becomes wary after seeing that the Reaper artifact is sitting in the open. Kenson tells Shepard to wait for the artifact to show Shepard a vision which will prove that the invasion is real. Shepard is overcome with the vision, which shows dozens of Reapers speeding towards a mass relay. Suddenly, Kenson pulls a gun on Shepard and says she can’t let the Commander stop the Reapers; Kenson and her team had been indoctrinated by Object Rho. Shepard disarms Kenson, who escapes and locks Shepard in the chamber as it is swarmed with guards. Shepard fights as long as possible, but is eventually incapacitated.
Shepard awakens two days later in a medical lab in Project Base, to the surprise of the monitoring medic. Shepard disables two guards, but is locked in the room by the medic. At a nearby terminal, the Commander gains control of a LOKI Mech outside, which Shepard uses to kill the scientist and break the mechanism that seals off the room. Shepard suits up and advances through the Project Base, intending to complete “the Project” before the Reapers arrive in less than two hours.
Arrival Kenson Detonator
The Commander fights through Kenson’s indoctrinated security guards to reach the control center and prepares to activate the Base’s engines. After being warned by the Base’s VI that initiating the Project will kill all of the Bahak system’s 304,942 colonists, Shepard confirms the order. The engines fire, and the asteroid accelerates toward the Alpha Relay. Dr. Kenson interrupts Shepard’s attempt to access communications, threatening to overload the Base’s fusion core to stop the Project.
Getting to the core, Shepard has to manually initiate cooling systems to stop Kenson’s crazed plan. In the core chamber, Kenson laments not being able to hear the Reapers’ whispers any more and witness their coming to the galaxy. When she raises a bomb detonator, Shepard either shoots Kenson in the chest to stop her or tries to talk her down, but regardless of the outcome, Kenson still presses the button and dies in the explosion, which also incapacitates Shepard.
Alpha Relay being destroyed
When Shepard recovers, the asteroid is now minutes away from colliding with the Alpha Relay. Commander Shepard races to the Project Base’s shuttle landing pads to escape, but is too late; the last of the shuttles lifts off and speeds away, leaving behind other Project personnel. Shepard eliminates them and finds a communications uplink nearby.
While calling the Normandy, Harbinger appears via a hologram projector and tells Shepard that the fall of the galaxy’s civilization is inevitable. Before disconnecting, Harbinger warns Shepard to “Prepare for the Arrival.” The Normandy makes its approach and Shepard lands a running jump into the airlock. Seconds before the asteroid hits, the Normandy escapes the Bahak system through the relay. As anticipated, the relay is destroyed and the explosion obliterates the system.
Sometime later, Admiral Hackett boards the Normandy to debrief Commander Shepard in person. Hackett wants Shepard to explain why a simple rescue mission ended with the destruction of a batarian system. Shepard confirms that Dr. Kenson’s proof of the Reaper invasion was real, and the invasion had been only days away. The Commander had no choice but to destroy the Alpha Relay, despite how this would doom the batarian colonists.
Hackett is satisfied by Shepard’s story, saying he would give a medal to Shepard for this, but reveals that tensions between the Systems Alliance and the Batarian Hegemony were running high; the batarians might start a war over Shepard’s actions. Before leaving, Hackett warns that at some point, Shepard will have to face trial over this incident on Earth.