This one takes most of its dialogue straight from the mission but… but! Don't let that fool you. There are two different plot twists in this, one significantly more noticeable than the other.
"You don't know. You didn't see. But I see everything."
With those foreboding words and a few taps, Veetor restored the orange-tinged video on the nine holographic displays and Faith stepped forward, squinting as she tried to make out details in the grainy footage. Humanoid aliens of some sort were pushing strange, lumpy, floating pods through the streets of the colony as insects flitted back and forth in front of the cameras. Behind her, Miranda shared the thought already running through Faith's head. "Looks like security footage. He must have pieced it together manually."
Manipulating his omni-tool, Jacob isolated one of the feeds and froze it before expanding it to occupy all nine display panels. "What the hell is that?"
"My God." Putting aside her dislike for the moment, Miranda brushed against Faith as she leaned in, fingers flying over her own omni-tool as she worked to clean up the footage. "I think… I think that's a Collector!"
Faith had taken advantage of the long flights from Lazarus Research Station to Minuteman Station and then from Minuteman Station onward to Freedom's Progress as best she could, using a meditation technique she'd learned from Giles after the fall of Sunnydale to integrate as many of Alexis Shepard's memories as possible. Considering she had far better control of her biotics now than she'd had upon awakening - and knew what an omni-tool was, rather than thinking of it as an 'arm computer' - she was relatively certain it was working. And yet for all the new things she'd learned from Alexis, the name didn't ring a bell to Faith. "The fuck is a Collector?"
Six panels of moving footage returned as the leftmost three switched to display a drawing of an insectoid alien remarkably similar to the figures on screen. Okay, Faith mused, so they were ugly fuckers. What else? Thankfully, Jacob was willing to provide some commentary as well. "They're a species from somewhere beyond the Omega-4 relay. Only a few people have seen one before in person."
"They usually work through intermediaries like slavers or hired mercenaries. Usually in search of very specific groups of sentient beings: left-handed salarians, asari purebloods who live on very specific worlds, batarian twins, things like that." Finally leaning back, Miranda crossed her arms over her chest as she stared at the screens. "If they're involved with the Reapers somehow, it could explain what happened to the other colonies."
Restoring the full nine screens of footage, Jacob circled around Veetor on the right as he watched as the colonists' abduction continued to play out. "Yeah. The Collectors have advanced technology, which is why some people are willing to work with them despite it basically forcing them to be slavers. They could have a weapon that disables an entire settlement at once."
Veetor nodded frantically at that. "The seeker swarms. No one can hide. The seekers find you. Freeze you. Then the monsters take you away."
Seeker swarms? Faith eyed the security footage. The bugs, maybe? That would explain why they'd mysteriously disappeared between whenever the footage was shot and now. "So they showed up, unleashed the bugs on the colony, and then started stuffing people in those pods. Then what?"
"The monsters took the people onto the ship. And then they left. The ship flew away." Veetor trailed off, staring at the screens silently for a few seconds before turning back to Faith. "But they'll be back for me! No one escapes!"
After a few seconds, Jacob sighed and shook his head. "I think that's probably all we're getting out of him, Commander. He's pretty far gone. Not that I blame him. Doubt I'd be doing much better after going through something like this…"
Faith nodded absently, her eyes locked on the screens. There was something about the Collectors that bothered her on a level that went beyond the abductions. Whatever it was, though, it wasn't definite enough for her to vocalize in a way that would make sense. But still… there was something about their physical appearance that nagged at her. After a few seconds, she shrugged it off and turned her attention to their reluctant helper. "Yeah. I'm surprised we got this much out of him. I've seen people end up worse from a lot less."
Suddenly, a three-fingered hand snapped out to wrap around her left wrist, tugging on it until Faith turned to face Veetor. "I studied them. The monsters. The swarms." He tapped first at her omni-tool, then at his, and then at hers again, connecting the two and transferring a large quantity of information. "The monsters ignored the mechs. I downloaded their memory cores. Lots of readings: video, audio, thermal, electromagnetic, dark energy…"
Evidently, it was suddenly Invade Faith's Personal Space Day, because Miranda was sidling up next to her so she could peer at the smaller brunette's omni-tool. "We need to get this data to the Illusive Man. Grab the quarian and call the shuttle to come pick us up."
"What?" Faith groaned as the door slid open at exactly the wrong moment, allowing Tali to rush into the room. "Veetor is injured. He needs treatment, not an interrogation."
"We're not barbarians, Miss Zorah. We're merely interested in finding out whether or not he knows anything else about the attack. He'll be returned unharmed." Miranda's hand dropped to her pistol, spooking Tali into drawing an almost comically large shotgun from the hardpoint at the small of her own back. "Your people tried to betray us once already. If we give him to you, we'll never get the intel we need."
Tali scoffed at that before jerking her thumb back over her shoulder. "Prazza was an idiot, and he and his men paid for it. I know the others and I owe you our lives at this point but please… just take his omni-tool and go. Let me bring Veetor somewhere he can get help. If he reveals anything else I think can help, I swear I'll pass it along to Faith."
Looking back and forth between the two women, Faith frowned for a moment before perking up as she realized there was a very obvious solution to both women's problems. "The Illusive Man wants me to save the galaxy again or some shit. I'm sure that's going to involve a ship… that will have room for two more. Why don't you come with us, Tali? Miranda can question Veetor about the attack, you can supervise things, and when she's done… Miranda, I bet the Illusive Man would agree that a Kodiak is fair payment for the first real intel we've gotten about an attack, yeah?" Miranda pondered that for a few seconds before nodding slowly. "See? Everyone wins. We get information, you don't have to worry about Veetor, and the Flotilla gets a new ship. How bout it?"
"This was supposed to be a quick detour on our way to an important mission, but… if the mission couldn't wait, the Admiralty wouldn't have asked us to detour." Wandering over, Tali placed a hand on Veetor's shoulder before glaring over at Miranda. "Fine. But I want to supervise his medical treatment too. I doubt Cerberus has anyone who knows how to properly treat a quarian."
As Miranda and Tali began to bicker over the former's qualifications as a doctor and Jacob called for a pickup, Faith tuned the entire room out and let her eyes drift back over to rest on the looping footage of the attack. Aliens that were both familiar and not. Fan-fucking-tastic. Another mystery was just what she needed right now…