Mass Effect – Ascension
By Drew Karpyshyn
The news report on the vid screen flickered with a constant stream
Of images capturing the death and destruction Saren’s attack had
Wrought upon the Citadel. Bodies of geth and C-Sec officers were
Strewn haphazardly about the Council Chambers in the aftermath of the
Battle. Entire sections of the Presidium had been reduced to scorched,
Twisted metal. Melted, blackened chunks of debris that had once been
Ships of the Citadel fleet floated aimlessly through the clouds of the
Serpent Nebula, an asteroid belt born from the bloodshed and carnage.
The Illusive Man watched it all with a cool, clinical detachment.
Work had already begun to rebuild and repair the great space station,
But the repercussions of the battle went far beyond the widespread
Physical damage. In the weeks since the devastating geth assault, every
Major media outlet across the galaxy had been dominated with the
Graphic, and previously unthinkable, images.
The attack had shaken the galactic powers that be to their alien
Cores, stripping away their naive sense of invincibility. The Citadel, seat
Of the Council and the symbol of their unassailable power and position,
Had very nearly fallen to an enemy fleet. Tens of thousands of lives had
Been lost; all of Council space was in mourning.
Yet where others saw tragedy, he saw opportunity. He knew,
Perhaps better than anyone, that the galaxy’s sudden awareness of its
Own vulnerability could benefit humanity. That was what made him
Special: he was a man of vision.
Once he had been just like everybody else. He had marveled with
The rest of the people on Earth when the Prothean ruins were discovered
On Mars. He had watched the vids in amazement when they reported on
Humanity’s first, violent contact with an intelligent
alien species. Back
Then he had been an average man, with an average job and an average
Life. He had friends and family. He even had a name.
All those things were gone now. Stripped away by the necessity of
His cause. He had become the Illusive Man, abandoning and
Transcending his ordinary existence in pursuit of a far greater goal.
Humanity had slipped the surly bonds of Earth, but they had not found
The face of God. Instead, they had discovered a thriving galactic
Community: a dozen species spread across hundreds of solar systems
And thousands of worlds. Newcomers thrust into the interstellar political
Arena, the human race needed to adapt and evolve if they wanted to
They couldn’t put their faith in the Alliance. A bloated coalition of
Government officials and disparate military branches, the Alliance was a
Clumsy, blunt instrument weighed down by laws, convention, and the
Crushing weight of public opinion. Too interested in appeasement and
Kowtowing to the various alien species, they were unable, or unwilling,
To make the hard decisions necessary to thrust humanity toward its
The people of Earth needed someone to champion their cause. They
Needed patriots and heroes willing to make the necessary sacrifices to
Elevate the human race above its interstellar rivals. They needed
Cerberus, and Cerberus couldn’t exist without the Illusive Man.
As a man of vision, he understood this. Without Cerberus, humanity
Was doomed to an existence of groveling subservience at the feet of
Alien masters. Still, there were those who would call what he did
Criminal. Unethical. Amoral. History would vindicate him, but until it
Did he and his followers were forced to exist in hiding, working toward