Freedom’s Progress is a typical Alliance settlement, with a small military force supplemented by mechs and security drones. A complete communications blackout led the Illusive Man to find out that the colonists have disappeared in the last few days. He sends Shepard to investigate, thinking the disappearance may have a link to the Reapers.
The communications blackout apparently happened after high-powered, lower-mounted GARDIAN lasers were installed around the colony. Colonists complained about construction cost overruns, delays, noise, and damage to the local environment. They also feared the defense array could provoke their neighbors. Such fears may not have been baseless.
Objective 1: Investigate Colony
As the shuttle circles Freedom’s Progress, preparing to land, Miranda tells Shepard that the Illusive Man has placed the commander in charge. The approach gives you plenty of time to discuss the situation with Miranda and Jacob, such as how far that authority extends, the fate of other colonies, and what Cerberus expects to find at Freedom’s Progress. According to Jacob, this is the first time Cerberus will beat official investigators or looters to a disappeared colony; the chance of finding new information is much greater. Of course, that also means a good chance of finding some form of resistance that officials would have already dealt with, too. At the conclusion of the conversation, you can make a Paragon or Renegade choice: suggest that finding survivors is the team’s first priority (Paragon), or go in hard to destroy any threat (Renegade).
NOTE: This is your first assignment with an away team. Though Miranda and Jacob will automatically react to danger, you can also issue squad orders to move them to advance points or direct them to change weapons and use biotic powers.
Stepping out of the shuttle reveals a desolate scene. When the Illusive Man said that the colonists had vanished into thin air, he was not exaggerating for effect. Freedom’s Progress is silent and still. But the last one to leave left the lights on and did not place the colony on lockdown, so follow the trail of open doors.
Slow down when you reach a wide door. Though there are no signs of humans, the colony’s defenses are apparently still online. Just beyond the door are two FENRIS Mechs. The four-legged security mechs activate as soon as they detect motion, their unblinking red optic displays offering an unsubtle hint that they are not programmed to negotiate. Blast the FENRIS Mechs as they lunge toward the team, taking care to aim directly for the optic display for maximum damage.
TIP: Use zoom to target the mechs. Shooting from the hip reduces accuracy, which burns through thermal clips faster.
The FENRIS Mechs are not the only threat. LOKI Mechs stationed on a landing behind and to the right of the FENRIS Mechs also spring into action when your movement is detected. Cut them down.
After taking down the mechs, investigate the building behind them to locate medi-gel and a wall safe that is loaded with credits. After emptying the building of useful items, move on to the next cluster of colony structures.
CAUTION: Incendiary ammo does not do extra damage to mechs—only organic beings.
Objective 2: Find Veetor
The Illusive Man believed his team would be the first on the scene. He was wrong. A quarian patrol has already reached the colony and is conducting its own investigation. But why would quarians be interested in the disappearance of humans?
The quarians are surprised by your presence. They meet your raised weapons with their own, spurred on by the seemingly trigger-happy quarian Prazza. Prazza has zero trust for Cerberus operatives, but he is ordered to stand down by a familiar voice in the group: Tali’Zorah vas Neema, whom Shepard knows as Tali.
After you choose exactly how happy you are to be greeted with guns, Tali directs Prazza and the other quarians to definitively back down. Prazza is unhappy with the situation but dutifully obeys, giving Shepard a chance to explain the newfound partnership with Cerberus. Tali is skeptical, and understandably so. For one thing, you are supposed to be dead. For another, you and Tali fought Cerberus together. But Tali gives you the benefit of the doubt and allows you to form a truce.
Tali explains why she and the other quarians are at Freedom’s Progress. One of their own was on his Pilgrimage: Veetor. While Tali describes Veetor as nervous, Prazza offers a less charitable adjective: unstable. When the quarians arrived to help Veetor, he fled into a warehouse and activated the security mechs to protect himself from the next wave of intruders. Veetor survived while everyone else disappeared. This leads to a bigger question: Why did the force that swallowed up the human colonists leave behind a quarian?
Tali and Shepard draw up a plan: Shepard and squad will investigate the warehouse in the center of the colony. Tali and her team will circle the far side of the colony and draw away security defenses.
After splitting with Tali, lead the team through the next building and pick up any additional medi-gel packs you may need by this point, you are likely at capacity, but there’s an upgrade to increase your capacity.
Just beyond the next building is a pair of Alliance Assault Drones. Stationed across a wide chasm, the drones open fire as soon as Shepard and the team step back out into the colony’s open space. Turn to the left and return fire on the drones, using the half-walls along the catwalk as cover against the incoming fire. Chew through the drones’ shields and then pick apart the exposed hull to put the turrets down.
Following the destruction of the drones, Tali comes over the comm. Prazza has broken rank with Tali and rushed ahead to seize Veetor before you can find him. If you want to get any information out of Veetor about the colonists, you’d better hurry. Push through the next series of small buildings and back outside in an attempt to intercept Prazza before he reaches Veetor.
Tali helps open a large bay door that will let you reach Veetor. Prazza is closing in, but his team is tangled up with a huge security mech.
CAUTION: There is a lot of cover in the courtyard with the YMIR Mech, but some of the crates crumble under fire. Be mindful of ducking behind these fragile crates, which are noted by yellow trim.
Enemy Profile: YMIR Mech
Powers: Death Explosion
Defenses: Heavy Shields, Heavy Armor
Weapons: Minigun, Heavy Rocket Launcher
YMIR Mechs are large-scale security droids that dwarf LOKI and FENRIS models. The giant is armed to the teeth with a rocket launcher on one arm and a minigun on the other. These weapons are designed to tear up infantry and disable vehicles. The YMIR is also fitted with both shields and armor, so before you can rip into its hull, you must take down these two defenses.
As threatening as the YMIR is, certain design flaws can be exploited by crack shots. First, the arms can be blasted off the mech. Depending on which arm you remove, the mech loses access to one of the weapons. If both arms are disabled, then the only weapon the YMIR has left is a brute force charge. Second, the YMIR can be destroyed by targeting a weak spot on its head. Shooting the head causes the mech to overload. The resulting explosion is substantial; fall back so as not to be caught in the blast radius.
The YMIR Mech wastes little time charging into the courtyard to challenge Shepard’s team. The quarians did not put up much of a fight, but your team has biotic powers and superior weapons. The YMIR has a real scrap on its hands. Use cover to avoid detection and then lean out to pop off shots on the mech.
TIP: Miranda’s Overload technique chips away at the YMIR Mech’s shields. Normally, biotics are blocked or negatively impaired by shields, though.
As cruel as it sounds, you can use your team as decoys. Direct Miranda or Jacob to a point in the courtyard that the YMIR will notice. As the mech turns to fire upon your squad mate, blast it in the back. (Don’t worry! You can heal your squad mates with Unity should the YMIR actually land a shot.)
TIP: Following the fight, scan the damaged YMIR Mech in the courtyard to pick up the Microfusion Array. This adds 10 percent more heavy weapon ammo capacity to your squad. Explore all of the buildings around the courtyard to locate medi-gel and hackable wall safes.
You locate Tali in one of the small structures surrounding the courtyard. Tali is busy tending to the wounded but suggests you use this opportunity to find Veetor without any further resistance from the rest of her quarian associates. Investigate the building directly above the wreckage of the YMIR Mech (you did scan it with your omni-tool, yes?) to finally catch up with Veetor.
Veetor has had better days. The quarian is in a state of paranoid panic, feverishly hovering over a command center and watching all activity at the colony. He is mumbling something about monsters and swarms. You have to approach Veetor and extract whatever information you can get out of him. How you choose to start the conversation sets the tone for the rest of the exchange. If you use compassion and understanding to draw Veetor out and let him know he is safe, you earn Paragon points. If you choose to be more ruthless and demand answers from Veetor, you earn Renegade points.
NOTE: If the quarian must be snapped out of his paranoia, use an interrupt when prompted to shut off the displays.
Veetor finally turns away from the monitor bay and to your team. He is surprised to see humans. All the humans in the colony were taken away by what he calls the “monsters.” Veetor calls up a video file on the monitors to explain what he means by “monsters.” The footage is startling. There was a swarm moving through the colony, with colonists screaming as they ran, going into stasis as they were overtaken. But far more disturbing is the alien being with multiple eyes pushing what looks like a cocoon through the colony. Miranda calls this being a Collector. If the Collectors are involved in wiping out human colonies, then the threat to humankind just got much worse.
The fact that Veetor was able to survive the Collectors’ sweep through Freedom’s Progress leads Miranda to wonder if the Collectors are using technology that singles out humans. The quarian was not part of the Collectors’ mission, which allowed him to watch and learn. If you compassionately end the conversation with Veetor, you will learn that Veetor used his omni-tool to scan the monsters and picked up dark energy readings.
Tali finally catches up to Shepard, just in time to overhear Miranda’s desire to take Veetor with them. The quarian refuses to let even Shepard take away Veetor. He obviously needs help, and she wants to take him back to the fleet so his people can care for him. How you approach this minor standoff will earn you Paragon or Renegade points. You can implore Tali to join you on this mission and peacefully allow her to take Veetor back to the fleet (to Miranda’s chagrin). This will earn you Paragon points, as well as Tali’s gratitude. Or you can demand that Veetor come with you and your squad so you can question him further. This will earn you Renegade points.
The Illusive Man is impressed with Shepard’s performance on Freedom’s Progress. Cerberus is known for being ruthless, so your actions affect how the Illusive Man perceives Shepard. It turns out that the Illusive Man suspected the Collectors were involved in the disappearance of the human colonies, and Veetor’s data provided the necessary proof. Continue your conversation with the Illusive Man to gather additional intel about the Collectors and the mysterious, unreachable Omega 4 relay. No non-Collector ship has ever been able to successfully use that relay.
The Illusive Man sees a connection between the Reapers and the Collectors. He wants you to continue investigating but understands that you will need resources beyond just Miranda and Jacob. The Illusive Man has prepared dossiers on notable soldiers and scientists that could prove beneficial for the mission. Shepard would rather have the original team back, but the Illusive Man reminds the commander that two years have passed and offers updates on the whereabouts of old friends.
The last advice that the Illusive Man has before you depart to begin the process of assembling a new team is to seek out the salarian scientist Mordin Solus on Omega. Having a scientist on the team will open up research options aboard your ship. New ship?
The Illusive Man introduces Shepard to the new pilot: Joker. And Joker only looks good in the cockpit of one ship.