Part 1: The Cradle of Humanity
One by one, these souls would awake from the rubble of Earth. They were different from the thousands, millions, billions that opened their eyes to a new world. Their minds, their bodies, they were broken in a way far more literal than all the other who had suffered the great war that had finished mere hours ago. Their arrogance, their folly, it would be a cause for them to begin mourning sooner than everyone else, and without the celebration of victory that came first.
These were the agents of Cerberus, the self described vanguard of humanity. Did I die? The question would not be uncommon for them. The technology almost all of them had implanted within to some degree was quite abruptly malfunctioning. Servoes still whirred, hydraulics still pumped and tiny circuits still let electricity flow. Yet suddenly there was freedom from the discrete but ever present influence of the Reapers on each person that bore them. But though liberating, every person that felt the severed connection would suddenly be unable to escape the sensation that something was missing from them. Was it a part of their consciousness they had come to call their own? Or was it perhaps that the last months, year or even longer were not done in their own minds? A portion of their lived experience was done by the hand of another being, their brains spectators on behalf of a consciousness that had lost control.
Reactions to this were different. Some fell into a sudden despair, running off in madness until shot or captured. Others decided to retire by sticking a pistol up the roof of their mouth and pulling the trigger, while far more decided to raise their hands and surrender to the nearest Systems Alliance troops.
But the greatest portion knew that, even if they had failed, if they had been in great error, their duty to mankind remained. Or at least, that is what they said in many cases simply fearing the great prison sentences and other reprisals for their activities admist the Reaper war.
Whatever their reason for not casting off their old loyalties, these people were many.
Cimourdain awoke the third time within the hour. He was not himself. The man stared at the ravine mere centimetres from his feet, coming to the realization if he would have come to consciousness any later he would have been dead. The elderly fellow gasped as he looked further down, hear a crack on the surface. It was some sort of crunchy rock, likely dirt subjected to superheating from any amount of advanced weapons let loose on Earth's surface in recent history. A few panicked back-steps were taken as the surface Eric stood on mere moments ago fell into the earth's deep wound.
On instinct the agent wiped his runny nose with the back of his hand, only paying attention to his actions as he saw the red of blood smeared on his glove. "No." he whispered, not really sure what he was denying.
He wandered aimlessly about the ruined city, every so often helping somebody up, or hurriedly rushing away if they paid attention to his strange bionic eyes. Eventually he decided it was best to find a set of sunglasses to ensure a moment of peace.
The sun rose, and smiling as its warmth touched his pale skin Eric could finally remember his name. With that more memories flooded in, and the realization came that he had a job to do at the same time as he stared into the eyes of a young man. The fellow had half the skin of his face missing, exposing the glowing blue cabling he knew too well mirrored his own.
Eric motioned for the lad to follow him, as he activated his omnitool and sent a message on every Cerberus secure connection he had access to. They were to rally at a bombed out apartment he was confident nobody was in, and with that lead the other operator to their new shelter.
Hours passed, and sitting on a chair missing its back Mr. Lasalle looked upon the assembled people. More than he feared, less than he had hoped as was so commonly the case. He wasn't exactly sure what to say, and if he even ought be the one to say it. Was he the highest ranking one present? He hadn't spoke to enough of the people present to really know. Eric hoped that at least he could bring guidance to these lost people. If somebody looked on edge, perhaps he would give them a talk. Truth be told, most of the people present didn't at all seem even functional. Some were gibbering madly, others simply clutching at their heads or sobbing. Nobody knew what to do, but they had to do something.
Standing up, he decided to slowly walk towards a staircase open thanks to a missing wall, from where he would have elevation to address all present. Before arriving at earth, he was one of many officers to receive a small file that detailed what to do in an event like this should command break down.
The war had just ended, and yet there was now another battle to fight.