Mass Effect: Shadows Rising
Mass Effect 3 Summary
Return of the Reapers
Six months have passed since the destruction of Bahak and Commander Shepard’s voluntary return to the Alliance. The Commander has been relieved of command and detained in a Systems Alliance facility in the city of Vancouver on Earth. Without warning, Alliance deep space outposts beyond Sol begin to go dark. Admiral Steven Hackett, the head of the Alliance military, begins to prepare for an imminent invasion. Admiral David Anderson arrives in Vancouver and escorts Commander Shepard with Lieutenant James Vega to a meeting with an Alliance defense committee. Shepard confirms their worst fears: the Reapers have returned to the galaxy and are on their way to Earth.
At that moment, contact is lost with Luna Base and news reports begin to surface of an unknown alien force landing in Earth’s cities. The Reapers have already arrived. A Reaper capital ship then descends through the clouds over Vancouver and blasts the Alliance building, killing the defense committee and Alliance staff. Shepard and Anderson survive and contact Ashley Williams, telling them to get to the Normandy.
As Shepard and Anderson make their way from building to building to get to the spaceport, Anderson tells Shepard that they have to get to the Citadel and seek help from the Council. They reach a comm set near a crashed gunship and hail the Normandy to evacuate. After holding off an attack from Cannibals, the Normandy bombs the area clear of attackers. As Shepard boards the ship, Anderson informs the Commander that he will stay behind to lead the resistance, and hands over Shepard’s dog tags. Shepard protests, but Anderson charges Shepard with getting as much help as possible to save Earth and stop the Reapers.
As the Normandy lifts off, Shepard witnesses a child running to an Alliance evacuation area and boarding a shuttle. As the shuttles lifts off, a Reaper destroyer emerges from behind a cluster of buildings and targets the shuttles, killing those who were aboard including the child. Distraught, Shepard steps away from the open shuttle bay doors of the Normandy, and the ship escapes Earth as more Reapers and the wreckage of Alliance ships rain down upon the planet.
The Prothean Archives
Shortly after escaping Earth, Shepard receives a communication from Admiral Steven Hackett, ordering the commander to the Prothean Archives on Mars, where humanity first discovered mass effect technology. Hackett insists that Liara T’Soni has found there what may be the only way to defeat the Reapers.
Upon arrival, Shepard, James and the Virmire survivor take the shuttle down to the planet, receiving a warning from EDI that the base is not responding. They soon discover the reason why upon witnessing Cerberus soldiers executing Alliance personnel; the group fight their way through the enemy, inferring from the small size of the Cerberus force that they must have had help from the inside. Ashley is also surprised Shepard is unaware of this, given their past association with Cerberus, and is unwilling to believe they cut ties with the extremist organization following their defeat of the Collectors.
After entering the station and arriving in time to witness Liara biotically overpower and execute her pursuers, Liara explains why Hackett sent them to find her; she has found in the Archives blueprints for a Prothean device that might allow them to turn the tide against the Reapers. Unfortunately, Cerberus has learned of it too, and now they must hurry to recover the necessary information before Cerberus can.
Sending James back to the shuttle to secure their escape route and prevent Cerberus from doing so, Shepard, the Virmire survivor and Liara fight their way through the station to the main Archive, discovering along the way the identity of the traitor in the station: Dr. Eva Coré, supposedly a recently arrived researcher, but in truth a mole who sabotaged the station’s defenses to allow Cerberus entry.
Reaching the Prothean Beacon at the heart of the Archives, the Illusive Man contacts them by hologram, mocking the Alliance for failing to take advantage of the wealth of information the Protheans left behind and commenting that Shepard is fighting a losing battle. He also explains his new motivation: to find a way to control the Reapers and thus use their power to advance humanity to a new level of evolution and above the other races. Deriding the Illusive Man’s plan as madness, Shepard vows to use the information to destroy the Reapers and dismisses the Illusive Man’s warning not to interfere in Cerberus’s plans.
The group then encounter Dr. Coré, who had been trying to upload information on the Prothean device, but her upload is interrupted by the squad and she tries to flee. Although Coré is able to reach a Cerberus shuttle, James disables it with a kamikaze attack before it can escape, having also alerted the Normandy to extract the squad. Coré, revealed to be an android by the explosion, emerges from the wreckage and attacks, critically injuring the Virmire survivor before being disabled by Shepard. The Normandy arrives to extract the team just as Reaper forces begin landing on Mars.
Having escaped Mars, Shepard forwards information on the Prothean device to Hackett, orders Liara and EDI to begin extracting intel from the android and orders the Normandy to the Citadel.
Uniting the Galaxy
Upon arrival at the Citadel, Ashley is taken for medical treatment at the nearest hospital and Shepard conveyed to a meeting with the Council. Despite Udina’s insistence that Earth is bearing the brunt of the attack and needs the most help, the asari Councillor succinctly sums up their view: while the Reapers focus on Earth, the other races have time to regroup and build up their own defenses. The Council is also unimpressed by the Prothean device, insisting it must be flawed as it failed to save the Protheans from extinction at the hands of the Reapers, but Liara explains that a missing component referred to as “the Catalyst” prevented its completion. All is not entirely lost for Earth, however: the salarian Councillor informs Shepard of a war summit they are convening to properly organize their strategy against the Reapers, and that whatever the summit decides will give the final word on the deployment of Council forces.
Upon departing the meeting, Shepard and Udina are met in the human Councillor’s office by the turian Councillor, who explains that Palaven’s ruler, Primarch Fedorian, was to head the war summit, but didn’t escape the system before the Reapers arrived. He requests that the Normandy extract him from his current location on Palaven’s moon Menae, explaining that Fedorian will be a useful ally in accruing support for Earth. Before leaving, the Councillor informs Shepard that the Council has agreed to uphold/reinstate their Spectre status, granting them the benefits of the position.
The Normandy enters the turian home system to find Palaven and Menae under heavy attack by the Reapers, with the turian military under immense pressure and taking heavy losses. Upon landing on the moon at a turian base, Shepard learns from the commanding officer that Primarch Fedorian is dead, having been killed an hour before Shepard’s arrival and they have no idea who has succeeded him because their communications with Palaven Command have been cut. Fighting through swarms of Husks to the comm tower and repairing it, the group soon learn that General Adrien Victus, a popular military commander with “a reputation for playing loose with strategy”, has been named as Palaven’s next Primarch; however, he is fighting at a base several miles away, with which radio contact has been lost. At the same time, Shepard receives a message from Joker that EDI and the Normandy are acting strangely; either Liara returns to investigate and Garrus Vakarian, now named strategic advisor to the turian army, greets Shepard fills her spot to lead them to Victus’ position.
Fighting their way through Reaper forces, Shepard and company arrive at the base and after helping Victus and his soldiers defeat their attackers, relay the news to the General that he is the newest leader of his people. Victus is doubtful about his ability to lead, claiming to be no diplomat and unwilling to leave his men, but he reluctantly agrees to accompany Shepard to the summit. He insists he can’t divert troops to Earth until Palaven can be secured, something beyond the turian military’s ability to do now. The turians will need reinforcements, namely the krogan, to succeed, and Victus insists they will have to be at the summit.
Upon returning to the Normandy, Shepard and the crew discover the earlier power fluctuations were caused by EDI implanting herself in Eva’s body, a process which has completed successfully and given EDI more options, namely the ability to leave the Normandy and accompany Shepard into combat. Soon after, Shepard receives words from Admiral Hackett that Alliance Research and Development has begun construction of the Prothean device, dubbing it “Project Crucible”.
Aiding the Krogan
The decision to involve the krogan in proceedings causes major problems; the asari pull out of the summit altogether, believing turian-krogan relations too fragile for anything to be accomplished. A diplomatic meeting is held between Shepard, Primarch Victus, Dalatrass Linron, the leader of the Salarian Union, and the clan chief of the krogan, either Urdnot Wrex or his brother and successor Wreav. The dalatrass is openly hostile and insulting to the krogan leader, who is ambivalent to the plight of the turians, insisting that the Reapers are moving on Tuchanka and refuses to provide military assistance unless their own demand is met; that a cure is created for the genophage. The dalatrass flatly refuses to agree to such a demand, arguing that what Shepard and Victus are planning to do in curing the genophage is the same rash mistake the salarians made when they uplifted the krogan to fight against the rachni, while Victus believe the plan impossible because it would take years they don’t have to synthesise a cure.
However, the Urdnot leader reveals intel he has received that following the experiments of a salarian scientist into curing the genophage on infertile krogan females, an STG team rounded up the survivors of the experiments- a group of now fertile females who are also immune to the genophage- and took them offworld. The dalatrass, under pressure, reluctantly reveals that the females are being held at an STG base on Sur’Kesh and accedes to their release, though she insists that curing the genophage will have dire consequences for her people and the galaxy as a whole.
Shepard, their squad and the krogan leader arrive on Sur’Kesh to oversee the exchange, meeting up with the salarian scientist in charge: Mordin Solus, if he survived the suicide mission. This scientist is responsible for the krogan females’ care and is revealed to be the source who leaked information on their existence to the krogan. However, as a side effect of the cure, the females suffered from weakened immune systems and only one has survived. A Cerberus strike force hits the base shortly during the exchange, seeking to kill the surviving female and stop any hope of a cure for the genophage. Shepard and their squad are forced to fight off Cerberus troopers deploying into the base as the salarian scientist and the Urdnot leader attempt to extract her.
The team escape Sur’Kesh with the female krogan, who is christened ‘Eve’ by the salarian scientist, and the cure is rapidly developed. Eve takes some time to regain her strength, and when she’s ready the salarian doctor proclaims her fit for travel to Tuchanka, where she’s needed for the last leg of the genophage cure’s completion. The krogan and turian leaders approach Shepard with problems of their own, requesting that the Commander deal with them if there’s time.
The Normandy then deploys to Tuchanka when Shepard decides it is time, where the Reapers have begun attacking in force. They decide to release the cure from the Shroud, an enormous salarian structure built to repair Tuchanka’s atmosphere that was secretly repurposed to spread the original genophage. En route, Shepard is contacted privately by Dalatrass Linron, who insists Shepard cannot go through with the genophage cure and reveals that the Special Tasks Group sabotaged the Shroud years ago to prevent it being used for such a plan. The dalatrass offers Shepard a deal; prevent repairs to the Shroud, thus causing the cure to fail, and in exchange, the salarians will provide military support and technical expertise to help construct the Crucible.
Upon arrival on the planet, the Urdnot leader rallies the krogan forces, who will work with a turian fighter squadron to distract a Reaper destroyer using the Shroud to further poison the atmosphere of Tuchanka. However, the plan almost immediately goes awry, with the krogan ground forces delayed and the fighters decimated as they attempt to attack without support. The ground forces are scattered and Shepard’s team is forced to detour through ancient and impressive krogan ruins, that also happens to be home to the largest known thresher maw.
They improvise a new plan, luring the thresher maw into attacking the Reaper destroyer to buy them time. This strategy is significantly more effective than the last: despite overwhelming Reaper opposition, Mordin and Shepard make it to the Shroud and Kalros manages to kill the destroyer. Eve is alive in a safe place. Shepard saved Maelon’s data months before, the cure is fully completed nonetheless and awaiting planetwide dispersal.
There are, however, complications. The salarian scientist, now aware of the STG sabotage, explains that the sabotage must be counteracted from the top of the tower in order to ensure proper release of the cure; a task that, with the tower collapsing as they speak, is essentially a suicide mission. Shepard must decide whether to let the salarian scientist sacrifice himself to spread the cure, convince him not to, or shoot him if that fails.
No matter the salarian scientist’s actions, the Shroud lets out a blast of particles, blanketing Tuchanka with a shower of cure before disintegrating.
The Citadel Coup
Following their mission on Tuchanka, Shepard is contacted by the salarian Councillor, who requests a meeting on the Citadel regarding an important matter. The Councillor explains that it concerns Councillor Udina, who has been moving vast sums of money and the Councillor wishes to discuss where it is going, claiming that Shepard “won’t like the news.”
Upon arriving at the Citadel, however, the station is worryingly silent. Scanning emergency channels, the Normandy receives a transmission from an old associate of Shepard’s (Drell assassin Thane Krios, who has retired to the Citadel to enjoy his remaining life) who explains that the Citadel is under attack; Cerberus has hit the station in overwhelming numbers and C-Sec are struggling to retaliate. The contact explains that Ashle (having recovered from the injuries sustained on Mars and been named a Spectre by Udina since then) has gone to protect the Council, while they are attempting to reach C-Sec Headquarters, since C-Sec cannot launch an effective counterattack while Cerberus holds it. Deploying in the shuttle, Shepard and their squad land in the middle of a pitched battle between C-Sec and Cerberus forces outside the headquarters, helping C-Sec Commander Bailey retake the office. Inside, Bailey uncovers intel that the salarian Councillor was meant to be meeting with the Executor, presumably to have someone important prosecuted. Given the message the Councillor sent to the Normandy, Udina is implicated.
Reasoning that the Councillor is likely holed up in the Executor’s office, a fairly defensible position, Shepard’s squad fight their way through Cerberus’ troops, but when they reach the office and extract the Councillor, they come under attack from Kai Leng, who is under orders from the Illusive Man to assassinate the Council. The salarian Councillor also reveals that Udina is collaborating with Cerberus to stage a coup. Thaine thwarts Leng’s assassination attempt, but is mortally wounded in the process. Leng retreats to pursue the rest of the Council, with Shepard and company in hot pursuit.
Despite Leng’s best efforts to slow down and stop their pursuit, Shepard reaches the Council ahead of him at a shuttle pad, locking the exits to prevent Cerberus troops from getting in and a tense standoff ensues, with Ashley standing in their way. Shepard reveals Udina’s treachery to the Council and while he attempts to deny it, the rest of the Council, after all the times they didn’t listen to Shepard, begin to believe Shepard. With the Council’s escape shuttle destroyed, Udina suggests overriding the lockdown and Shepard must convince the Virmire survivor to get out of the way, either managing to talk them down or being forced to shoot them.
Udina, left with few options, begins to override the lock on the door. The asari councilor tries to stop him, but he pushes her to the ground and pulls a gun on her. Shepard or Ashley are ultimately forced to kill the human Councillor, followed by the arrival on scene of Bailey and C-Sec reinforcements. With Udina dead and their plan thwarted, Leng and the remaining Cerberus forces retreat, while C-Sec begins securing the station.
En route back to headquarters, Leng reports his failure to the Illusive Man, who assures his agent that Udina was expendable and he has other plans in motion, though the Illusive Man does admonish Leng for letting Shepard get the better of him; Leng angrily promises it won’t happen again.
The Quarian Offensive
Following the coup attempt, efforts to speed the pace of the Crucible’s construction and drive the Reapers back increase. Admiral Hackett contacts Shepard with news on that front, informing the Commander that while turian and krogan ground forces are making progress against the Reapers on Palaven, they need more support ships and the quarians are willing to talk. Hackett requests Shepard to meet with the leaders of the Migrant Fleet but urges caution, as recent intel suggests suspicious activity along the geth border.
Meeting with Admirals Shala’Raan, Han’Gerrel, Daro’Xen and Zaal’Koris at a diplomatic ship in the Far Rim, Shepard learns, much to their chagrin, that the quarians are launching another attack on the geth, with the intention of retaking their homeworld Rannoch from their AI creations. The quarians had pushed the geth back to their home system when a mysterious signal began broadcasting to all geth forces, drastically improving their combat capabilities.
Shepard concludes that the signal is Reaper tech, which must be destroyed if the quarians are to have any chance of survival. The admirals explain that the signal is being broadcast by a geth dreadnought far beyond their ability to destroy. Shepard proposes that they and a squad board the vessel and disable the signal, throwing the geth into confusion and buying the quarians time to make their next move. The quarians agree and offer Shepard technical support in the form of one of their own: Shepard’s old crewmate Tali’Zorah, based on her knowledge of the geth.
Arriving in the middle of a pitched battle between the geth and quarian fleets, Shepard and company board the dreadnought and make their way through the ship, fighting off geth crew to reach the drive core, where the signal is being broadcast. Inside the drive core is a unique geth platform hardwired to amplify the Reaper signal: Legion, if it survived Shepard’s suicide mission, or an equivalent Geth VI constructed in its likeness otherwise.
The geth unit explains that the quarian attack drove the geth into an alliance with the Reapers in order to save themselves. At the geth unit’s direction, they shut down the drive core, freeing the platform from its shackles. In return it disables all shields and weapons aboard the dreadnought as a sign of good faith. Making the most of the advantage, Admiral Gerrel deviates from the plan and launches a full attack on the dreadnought, hoping to destroy the crippled geth flagship, regardless of Shepard’s protestations that they are still inside. Shepard and company narrowly escape the vessel in time.
After returning to the Normandy and either accepting or condemning Gerrel’s explanation of his actions, Shepard requests information from the saved geth unit. To the horror of the admirals, the platform explains that the dreadnought’s destruction has only severed the Reaper signal at long range; a base on Rannoch’s surface is still transmitting the signal at short range, and the geth will soon recover from the disruption. Orbital bombardments are out of the question; the geth have set up jamming towers that prevent the quarian ships from pinpointing the base.
Several sorties on Rannoch’s surface are planned during the interim of determining the Reaper signal’s location: the rescue of a stranded Admiral Koris, and the disabling of geth fighter squadrons attacking the liveships. Shepard begins the assault on the signal base when its location has been determined, armed with a targeting beam that can cut through the jamming signal. The geth unit drops in solo to disorient geth forces and provide remote technical assistance.
The plan works, but when the Normandy bombs the signal generator, it is revealed to be a Reaper destroyer. The destroyer pursues Shepard and co. as they flee in a geth shuttle, while the quarians and the Normandy attempt to provide supporting fire from orbit. A chance weapons strike from the Migrant Fleet reveals a weak point in the Reaper’s defences; that the firing chamber is vulnerable when priming. Using the handheld laser guidance system and dodging the Reaper’s attacks, Shepard directs the Normandy and Migrant Fleet’s weapons against the Reaper, eventually severely damaging it.
Following its defeat, the badly damaged Reaper and Shepard exchange barbed words; the Reaper, recognising Shepard from Harbinger’s description, asserts that Shepard’s opposition to the Reapers is pointless, that they are preserving organic life from chaos and that the cycle must continue if organics are to be saved from destruction. Shepard dismisses the Reaper’s warnings and assures it that the races of the galaxy will continue to fight until a way to defeat the Reapers is found. With nothing more to be said, the Reaper ‘dies’.
With the Reaper destroyed, the geth fleet is left disabled and vulnerable to the quarians, but the geth unit requests permission to upload a modified form of the Reaper code to all geth that would grant them true intelligence. If Shepard built up enough trust on both sides owing to a multitude of factors the Commander can called for a ceasefire and eventual peace between the races. Shepards decision ended the conflict between the quarians and geth that has raged for three centuries is brought to an end, and the fleets of one or both races are acquired for the fight against the Reapers.
The Fall of Thessia
Following the resolution of the quarian-geth conflict, the asari councillor requests that Shepard come speak with her on the Citadel. Though the Crucible’s construction nears completion, the absence of the Catalyst still makes it useless against the Reapers. The Councillor reveals to Shepard that there is a highly classified artifact located on Thessia that may help the Commander identify the Catalyst; however, she urges haste, as the Reapers have descended on Thessia in droves, seeking to annihilate the most advanced race in the galaxy.
En route to Thessia, Liara, who insists on coming to help her homeworld, explains that the artifact is housed in the Temple of Athame, a deity whose worship is nearly as old as the asari, but has fallen out of practice. Arriving on Thessia to find the asari military fighting a losing battle against Reaper forces, Shepard and the squad make their way to the temple, where a science team is purported to be waiting for them. They arrive at the temple to find a security field blocking entrance, strangely high-security for a temple of a dead religion. When Liara deactivates it, they enter the temple and find the scientists dead, but not at Reaper hands. They search the temple which houses artifacts related to Athame’s worship, including ones that look suspiciously Prothean.
While Liara explains the temple’s history, Shepard comes to a realisation; the artifact the Councillor sent them to find is a Prothean Beacon hidden within the temple. Considering the temple’s age, the beacon is likely the reason why the asari are technologically and scientifically ahead of the other races, and they have directly violated Council law by keeping the beacon to themselves. The beacon is powered up by the detection of one with Prothean-like brain patterns (which Shepard received in the form of the Cipher) and once the squad fully activate it, a Prothean VI identifying itself as Vendetta appears. Establishing that it is in a post-Prothean cycle and detecting nearby Reaper forces, it attempts to shut down, but Shepard insists that it wait and provide information on the Catalyst and Crucible.
Vendetta explains that the Crucible is not of Prothean origin, but is a cumulative design spanning countless galactic cycles stretching back millions of years. The Protheans themselves never used it because their efforts were sabotaged by a splinter faction who (like Cerberus in the present cycle) argued the Protheans should control the Reapers, not destroy them. By the time it was discovered the separatists were indoctrinated, it was too late; the Prothean order of battle was too fractured to coordinate an effort to activate it.
Vendetta also mentions that the Protheans learned that similar patterns of evolution and dissolution occur in every galactic cycle, with each path of advancement and conflict happening differently but in fundamentally similar ways – too similar to be merely chance. Vendetta infers that the Reapers are “servants” of the pattern, not its creator, but cannot identity their true master or motive, only its intention: galactic annihilation. Before Vendetta can specify what the Catalyst is, it detects an indoctrinated presence nearby and shuts down.
The intruder is revealed to be Kai Leng who demands their attention, pulling a drone from his coat and remarking that “Someone would like to talk with you”. The drone projects a hologram of the Illusive Man, who has learnt of the Thessia beacon from the Mars Archive and mocks Liara for missing it. The Illusive Man goes on to expand on his belief and convince Shepard that controlling the Reapers is the best course of action and that the Thessia beacon contains the information to do so. Shepard asserts their conviction to destroying the Reapers and dismisses the Illusive Man’s scheme, accusing him of being indoctrinated. Rebuffed, the Illusive Man orders Leng to kill Shepard and recover the data.
A vicious battle ensues, but Leng is unable to gain the upper hand. Leng calls in assistance, ordering a Cerberus gunship to destroy the temple’s structural supports and the temple begins to collapse. Shepard and squad are forced to react quickly to save themselves and by the time they recover, Leng has already acquired the data and fled aboard the gunship. They can only watch helplessly as Leng’s ship escapes and more Reapers descend to complete the destruction of Thessia.
After escaping to the Normandy, the asari Councillor contacts Shepard, though the Commander delays the meeting out of reluctance. The Councillor eagerly requests information on the Catalyst and when it will complete the Crucible, but Shepard is forced to tell her of Cerberus’ interference and their failure to acquire the data. Realising that asari civilisation, maybe all civilisation, may now be lost, the asari Councillor cuts communication, leaving Shepard to brood on their failure.
Following the disaster on Thessia, Shepard bemoans the fact that Cerberus always seems to be one step ahead and asks the crew for any intel they might have to get the jump on the organisation. The Normandy’s communication specialist Samantha Traynor mentions she had traced the route taken by Leng’s shuttle as it fled Thessia as far as the Iera system, but she had lost it there, because the signal was being actively blocked. Despite the fact the only thing of note in that system is Sanctuary, a refugee camp on the planet Horizon for those fleeing the war, the Commander decides that a lead is still a lead, no matter how slim, and agrees to check it out.
Upon arriving at the facility, Shepard and their squad find signs of battle between Cerberus and Reaper forces, a surprising discovery given Cerberus’ collaboration with the Reapers. Investigating the camp, Shepard finds evidence left by former squadmate Miranda Lawson or her sister that the ‘refugee camp’ was in truth a Cerberus laboratory run by their father Henry Lawson, working for the Illusive Man. Deeper in the facility, they discover that the refugees were being experimented on and ultimately turned into Husks, in order to further Cerberus’s research into indoctrination. A further bombshell is brought to light: a signal being broadcast from a tower within the facility, using Cerberus research, had allowed Cerberus the ability to control the husks created in their horrific experiments. Lawson had been working on the Illusive Man’s orders to find a way to transfer this process to the Reapers themselves before the facility had come under attack, the Reapers seeking to destroy any potential weakness that could be used against them.
Fighting their way through Cerberus troopers who hadn’t evacuated in time and Reaper forces left behind after the attack, Shepard and their squad make it to the tower that has been broadcasting the signal, as well as blocking all transmissions from the planet. Here, they find Henry Lawson holding Oriana hostage. The Lawson patriarch tries to cut a deal with the Commander for his freedom, explaining that despite his success, the Illusive Man had merely ordered Kai Leng to retrieve the data (the assassin having already been there and gone) and leave the Lawsons to their fate.
Miranda, executes her father no matter Shepard’s words; Shepard and company learn the location of Cronos Station, the headquarters of Cerberus itself, after Henry has been dealt with.
Shepard alerts Admiral Hackett to this discovery, and the Alliance begin making preparations for an all-out assault on the station to eliminate Cerberus and hopefully recover the Prothean VI along with any other information on the Catalyst. Hackett warns that once an assault on Cerberus is launched, the Reapers would take notice sooner or later; for all intents and purposes, the attack on Cerberus would be the first step in the campaign to retake Earth. Once military preparations are completed to Shepard’s satisfaction, the assault begins.
Leading an armada to assault the station, Shepard, EDI and a squad are deployed to fight Cerberus forces in the base, while Hackett battles Cerberus’s fleet with the rest of the Alliance ships. The base is full of video logs, containing intel on EDI’s past, Project Lazarus and Cerberus’s new-found obsession with exploiting Reaper tech and indoctrination, and interesting tech such as prototype weaponry and pieces of the Human-Reaper salvaged from the Collector Base after its destruction. Eventually the team reaches the Illusive Man’s personal office, and begin to scour his private terminals for the location of the Prothean VI. The Illusive Man contacts Shepard by hologram, sneering that he has already acquired the Catalyst and all he needed to control the Reapers. Again, he dismisses Shepard’s claims that he is indoctrinated and assures Shepard that the idea behind Cerberus will survive any physical damage they cause to the organisation itself.
The Illusive Man severs communication when EDI discovers and activates the Prothean VI. They find that Vendetta’s security protocols have been overridden and he informs the squad that the Catalyst is in fact the Citadel; in some previous cycle, the Reaper-made space station had been incorporated into the activation process of the Crucible to boost its power and coordinate its function through the mass relay system. After this revelation, Shepard realises it then should be relatively easy to activate the Crucible, but Vendetta has more shocking news; the Illusive Man has fled to the Citadel and warned the Reapers of the plan to destroy them. As if this wasn’t enough, the Reapers have already reasserted control over the Citadel and transported it to orbit one of their conquered planets: to be precise, Earth.
As Shepard attempts to contact Admiral Hackett to tell him this devastating news, he is cut off by the return of Kai Leng, who once again engages Shepard in a furious battle, aided by various Cerberus forces. This time, Shepard emerges victorious. After the fight between Shepard and Leng, Shepard goes to back to the Illusive Man’s computer to activate the Prothean VI. Little does Shepard and their squad know, Leng survived the beating he took. After silently limping to the Commander, Leng raises his sword in an attempt to kill Shepard; the Commander senses the attack and in the nick of time either disarms Leng by shattering his sword or dodges Leng’s attack and finishes him off with an omni-blade stab, avenging either Thane, Kirrahe, or Miranda. If both Thane and Kirrahe are dead, the salarian councilor was assassinated, and Miranda survived the Illusive Man’s orders to have her killed (or was killed during the Suicide Mission), Shepard will taunt Leng over his cowardly victory on Thessia.
The Battle for Earth
Shepard alerts Hackett and Anderson to their discovery of the Catalyst’s identity and location. With no alternative, Hackett and Shepard order the forces they have gathered to the Sol system with the intention of taking Earth back from the Reapers. Hackett and Anderson brief Shepard on the three-fold plan of battle: ‘Sword’ Fleet will engage the Reapers in space, while ‘Hammer’ ground forces will land in London. When Shepard queries why London is their landing zone, Anderson explains that the Reapers have established a teleportation beam between the city and the Citadel to transport dead and living humans to the station, presumably to be harvested. The plan is for Hammer ground forces to fight their way through the city to the beam, and get as many people as possible on board the Citadel and find a way to open the station’s arms. Once this is done, Hackett will signal ‘Shield’ Fleet, which will remain outside the Sol system protecting the Crucible, to pass through the Charon relay and clear a path for the Crucible to dock with the Citadel.
All forces deploy for the Sol System and a brutal space battle ensues between the fleets Shepard has gathered and the Reapers in orbit around Earth. The Normandy breaks off from the battle and descends to the planet. Shepard and several other squads have been ordered to take out Reaper Destroyers planet-side, fitted with anti-aircraft Hades Cannons that threaten Hammer’s landing. After eliminating the destroyers, Shepard and their squad are extracted by Anderson and local resistance forces, who convey them back to their forward base. At the same time, Hammer troops begin landing en masse in preparation for the assault on the Citadel beam.
When the bulk of surviving Hammer forces have landed and deployed, Anderson briefs Shepard and the other team leaders that they must fight their way through the city to the beam, though they will need to take out another Reaper Destroyer blocking their path en route. Using Thanix missile batteries and EDI’s help to overcome interference in the guidance systems from the Citadel beam, the Destroyer is brought down, but by that time, Hammer’s forces have suffered heavy casualties, Reaper forces are gaining ground and to make matters worse, Hackett warns that several Sovereign-class Reapers, including Harbinger, have broken away from the space battle and are descending to Earth. By the time the remnants of Hammer reach the Citadel beam’s immediate vicinity, Harbinger has already deployed to protect it.
Hammer attacks, but Harbinger annihilates them; countless soldiers are killed and Shepard’s squad is severely injured (possibly killed, depending on how prepared the galaxy’s forces are). With its stealth technology, the Normandy is able to move in and carry Shepard’s squad to safety, if they’re still alive, without Harbinger noticing. Almost immediately after the ship’s departure however the Commander is hit by Harbinger and critically injured. Believing itself victorious, Harbinger retreats back to the space battle, not noticing Shepard managing to get back to their feet and stagger into the beam.
Upon arriving aboard the Citadel, Shepard is contacted by Anderson, who followed them up but was somehow separated. The two find themselves dumped in similar-looking tunnels; keepers prowl about and there are human corpses dumped everywhere. Staggering to what looks like a control room, Shepard and Anderson are ambushed by the Illusive Man, the skin of his face and neck rotted and riddled with Reaper tech. These “upgrades” allow him to take control of their motor functions, even forcing Shepard to shoot Anderson.
The Illusive Man again asserts the necessity of controlling the Reapers and that the Crucible will grant him that power, but it is clear to Shepard and Anderson that he is deeply indoctrinated. Shepard can try to convince the Illusive Man, like Saren before him, to fight his indoctrination, prompting the Illusive Man to commit suicide to escape the Reapers’ control; otherwise the Commander is able to briefly shake off the Illusive Man’s influence and shoot him. In this case, the Illusive Man turns to the view of Earth and with his dying breath laments that Shepard could not see humanity and Earth the way he sees them: perfect.
With the Illusive Man dealt with, Shepard opens the arms of the Citadel and Hackett orders Shield Fleet, along with the Crucible to move in. The Crucible successfully docks with the Citadel, but nothing happens. At this point, Shepard and Anderson, if he is still alive, sit together and look at the vast blue planet beyond. Anderson tells Shepard that he is proud of them and it has been an honor to fight at his protegé’s side. After this final conversation, Anderson dies from his injuries and Shepard passes out from blood loss.
While unconscious, however, Shepard is transported to another part of the Citadel. when they regain consciousness, Shepard is confronted by an entity of energy, manifesting itself in the form of the small boy Shepard saw die at the Reapers’ hands when they fled Earth. The entity explains that it is the Catalyst, the creator of the Reapers and architect of their galactic purges every 50,000 years. The Catalyst explains that the purpose of such genocide is to solve the problem it was created to stop; the total annihilation of organics by the synthetic races they inevitably create.
Its solution was to allow organic species to evolve to the apex of their civilization and then harvest these races, with millions of bodies and minds from each race being processed and converted into new Reapers, while the remainder of their civilizations were systematically destroyed. By doing this, the Reapers preserved the harvested races, while allowing more primitive races to have their own chances to become great, evolving on their own (though influenced along more preferable paths by mass effect technology) and they in turn would be preserved, thus ensuring that the threat of complete annihilation of organics by synthetics was averted.
However, because the races of the present cycle have completed the Crucible, a feat never before achieved, the Catalyst no longer believes the cycle will work, and thus a new solution must be devised. The Catalyst offers Shepard choices for this solution, leaving the Commander to decide the fate of the galaxy while explaining how events will play out whatever Shepard decides. The Crucible in conjunction with the Citadel, the Catalyst and the mass relays can be used in a multitude of ways: as a means to destroy Reapers, control Reapers, or render the Reapers harvests moot by fusing organic and synthetic life together.
Destruction of the Reapers means that all synthetic life: geth, EDI, and the Catalyst itself included, will be destroyed as well. All other technology will be affected to varying degrees depending on the Crucible’s condition, and the Catalyst warns while there will be peace, it won’t last. The organic-synthetic conflict it has worked against all these eons will inevitably surface and result in chaos.
Control over the Reapers means that Shepard can use the Crucible’s energy to control the Reapers. The process will destroy the Commander’s body, but the thoughts, memories and consciousness will remain and replace the Catalyst as the Reapers’ master AI. The end result is Reapers obeying Shepard’s lead. When Shepard remarks that the Illusive Man was right after all, the Catalyst explains he could never have taken control since the Reapers already indoctrinated him.
Synthesis of organic and synthetic life is another solution the Catalyst may present, and touts it as an ideal solution. According to the Catalyst, organics seek perfection through technology. Synthetics seek perfection through understanding. Organics will be perfected by integrating fully with synthetic technology. Synthetics, in turn, will finally have full understanding of organics. By merging themselves with the Crucible’s energy, Shepard will create a new organic-synthetic “DNA” for all denizens of the galaxy, bringing an end to the cycle and the need for the Reapers.
Rather than choose from the AI’s options, Shepard can reject them and and insist that a decision with such massive ramifications for the galaxy and its inhabitants cannot be made. The Catalyst acknowledges this, and the Crucible is not activated. The Reapers defeat the forces that the galaxy’s races amassed against them, and succeed in their harvest.
Shepard chooses to destroy the Reapers, the Crucible fires a red beam of energy that destroys the Reapers on and around Earth and transmits this energy to every relay the mass relay network through the Charon Relay before damaging the relays and the Citadel as well. But thanks to the quick actions of a lone Geth Hoplite,instead of destroying all syntheitc life it only destroyed the Reapers.
If Shepard uses the Crucible to destroy the Reapers…
Admiral Hackett relates how the Reapers were defeated, saying that this victory belongs to every civilization. Even though the galaxy is devastated and the mass relays are severely damaged, Hackett is confident they can rebuild stronger than before. He regrets that so many people will not be able to witness the future that Shepard made possible, but resolves to honor their sacrifices. Eventually, the mass relays and even the Citadel are restored, and the galaxy enters a new era of peace.Shepard is shown to have survived the Crucible’s blast, taking a gasping breath in a pile of rubble.
The war against the Reapers is now over. Various epilogue scenes will be shown, all of which are dependent on the choices made throughout the game/whole series…
*Shepard’s Effective Military Strength was high, London will be seen damaged, but largely intact.
*Shepard chose to destroy the Reapers, a restored London will be seen with a new conduit connecting it to the Citadel which has also been restored
If the genophage was cured:
*Eve survived, she can be seen holding a krogan child.
- Urdnot Wrex leads the krogan, scenes of krogan reconstruction are shown.
If peace between the quarians and geth was achieved:
In the Destroy ending, only the quarians appear.
((Adendom both the Quarians and Geth survived and are working together)