Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre

The tale of how Saren and Nihlus first met and became friends.

Table of Contents:
  1. Adrift
  2. Quagmire
  3. Landing
  4. Old Friends
  5. The Barefaced
  6. The Boy
  7. Crash Site
  8. Unwelcome Guest
  9. Respite
  10. Conspiracy Theories
  11. They Wouldn’t Dare
  12. Not This Squad
  13. Orderly Retreat
  14. Fever
  15. Betrayal
  16. Gravity
  17. House in an Invictus Jungle
  18. Leave-Taking
  19. Confession
  20. Recapitulation
  21. Confrontation
  22. Revelation
  23. Honey Moon
  24. Sanctuary
  25. Anchored
Related reading:

I am endlessly thankful to Yawning Dragon, Gladius, Kadenex, Misfire Anon and ex-Clusum for reading the manuscript at various stages of completion and providing me with invaluable feedback and insights. Also to Heavenly Eros for taking my crude cover design and making it look gorgeous. To all the devotees of Mass Effect who keep the fandom alive with wonderful art and writing. And finally, to the authors of the series, for creating an amazing world and allowing us to extend it.

The cover is based on Presence by Jesus-Tks.

  • On June 7, 2020 I renamed the original asari character Olte to Elethea. She is only mentioned by name in chapter 21, Confrontation. The online versions of the story, here, on FFN and on AO3, I will edit at once to reflect the change. The offline versions—the pdf, epub and mobi files—will be edited for this, and other minor changes, at a later time.


Chapter 1 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre

One day in the third quarter of 2172, Captain Tirren of the STG reported an incident so incredible that he was initially suspected to be making some kind of a joke.

Marked URGENT:GENOPHAGE, the report stated that only hours earlier, a top-secret military research facility located in the largely uninhibited Dio-Oroch nature reserve on Sur’Kesh had been assaulted by a small multi-species team led by a krogan identified as Warlord Okeer. The assailants had arrived in a standard shuttle after disabling the regional anti-aircraft defenses and cutting off all communications to and from the facility by means unknown. In the time it took the STG to notice the facility had gone silent, Okeer and his men had decimated its security forces and murdered all the research staff. Arriving at the scene a minute after the assailants had departed, the STG team that was sent to investigate discovered that Okeer had effectively stolen all the classified research data stored in the facility using a highly sophisticated VI to encrypt the data and all its backup copies with a biometric key.

Continue reading Adrift


Chapter 2 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre

Nihlus gaped at the settlement, unbelieving. Primitive boats lined the riverbank along the makeshift docks, and wooden huts with straw roofing riddled the coast like warts. At least a couple hundred people lived here, hiding from the tropical heat in the shades of the giant ganut trees. Some trunks sported ladders leading up to abodes inside the trees and on their lowest branches, thick enough for two grownups to walk astride. Ignoring a couple of worn prefabs and a water dispenser that stood in the center of a clearing like a phallic monument, the village could’ve been an elaborate stage for a pre-contact movie.

From atop the little knoll on the west edge of the clearing, he could see far upstream the great river Ibiss. Her opaque, sluggish waters flowed toward him. The rippling reflections, dark blue from the evening skies in the east, and bright, fiery orange from the setting sun, caught between the solid margins of deep jungle green, made for a scene of peace and serenity that might have been beautiful if not for the wretched props and actors.

Continue reading Quagmire


Chapter 3 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre

Okeer lifted the visor on his helmet and sniffed the moist air, observing the surroundings. Squat trees with smooth, wide trunks were spaced evenly in every direction. Their sturdy, large leaves had played a key role in letting him reach the ground in reasonably good shape, and he saluted them with a chuckle. The darkening sky could only be glimpsed through the gaps between their sprawling crowns, high above. Varied undergrowth—some of it as tall as he—crowded every available patch of the soft, porous ground. There was a heavy, moldy smell coming decidedly from the north. Water. Wortag had mentioned a river.

Satisfied in knowing where he was, or at least, where to go, Okeer checked his omni-tool. He’d calibrated his kinetic barrier to generate a strong field along his arm at the expense of everything else. A dubious decision. If he were to die, the data he’d stolen from the salarians would all go to waste. Marash had made sure of it. He’d acquired the encryption algorithm from batarian slavers and it bore the signature of their evil genius. The only way to generate a key was from the unique pattern of Okeer’s pupil dilation, which couldn’t be replicated in case of his demise.

Continue reading Landing

Old Friends

Chapter 4 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre

This chapter mentions characters and events from Misfire Anon’s story The Other Beginning and was written under the assumption that you have read it. If you haven’t, please do so before you go on! Not only because it supplies crucial subtext for this and a few other chapters of TTSS, but also because it’s one of the best stories for Mass Effect ever written.

Saren’s escorts had deposited him in an empty meeting room in the headquarters of the Invictus Legion, located in the heart of Hierote, the largest city on the south hemisphere and the de facto administrative capital of the colony. The HQ was a tall and slender spire of asari design, all rounded edges and convergent curves, looking down upon the squat, angular buildings that surrounded it with the condescension characteristic of its architects. The artificial lake around it mirrored the strange, deep-blue darkness of the evening sky. Everything else, as far as the eye could reach, was the same desaturated orange as the desert sand. Even the trees.

Continue reading Old Friends