Saturday, 31 August 2013

Emi and Thomson's Relationship

This post is just for an opportunity to let people understand why Emi and Thomson were so quick to fall in love and to get to the point in Part 12. Many things will become apparent when I start their individual background stories.

Firstly, Emi.

Emi is perhaps a character who many of you will have thought to be simple to understand. A nervous, inexperienced Quarian girl who finds herself in a bad situation when the Reapers hit Earth. But I believe, after a thorough analysis, she is rather complex.
When you, the reader, first met Emi, she was on Earth. Thomson and Renswick were trying to escape from the Husks and they kind of ran into each other.
Emi had seen no other survivors at this point. She had seen no Husks. She saw two Alliance soldiers who wished to help her to escape and thought herself lucky. Her fear and sadness were probably the contributions to this as she would not normally trust strangers, but saw no other option.
Quarians are treated badly in terms of inter-galactic relations. I hinted at this several times in the story. The reason for this is that they created the Geth, who usually aren't very nice. And several have been known to steal.
As you may have been able to see, I did not agree with how the Quarians were treated in the Mass Effect games. I witnessed myself, a Quarian slave on sale on the planet Illium (who I managed to free). I feel sorry for their race. They should not be held responsible for something that happened a long time ago.
Because of the way they are treated, Emi will have been glad to see someone who treats her with respect and is kind to her. In turn, she found herself opening up to Thomson and telling him about the Quarian way of life.
Thomson bought her a collection of books on the Citadel whilst she was in hospital. In her individual story you will see how much the single book she had already owned influenced her judgement when it came to love.
The amount of times Thomson had rescued her made her trust him. She trusted him as soon as he had rescued her from Earth. She would start feeling safe around him and comfortable when he was with her, which would eventually lead to the first stages of their relationship.
I don't know if any of you noticed (please say so in the comment section if you did), but she told Thomson who the Cerberus operatives were even though they threatened to torture her if she told anyone. This was intentional. She would have felt absolutely terrible and thought that being tortured would have been better than betraying the one she loves.
When it came to the video message that Cerberus made her send to Thomson, she only will have done so because they'd have killed them both if not. And I also hinted at the fact they hurt her which would have probably made her anyway.
Emi clearly loves Thomson a lot. She worries about him and wants him to be safe. But as a Quarian she would feel inadequate for a human. In Part 11 she asked, and unless you want a better word for it... She asked if Thomson still wanted to have sex with her. Her feeling of inadequacy is also given a mention during the most when she realises she is in love. She compares herself to a human woman who walks past her - and points out that her suit is a physical and mental barrier between her and Thomson's relationship.
With any race of alien or human who wouldn't wear a suit like the Quarians have to, they can be seen and touched much easier than Thomson could see and touch her. She hints at her suit being a prison, even though it is the thing that keeps her from dying.
The main point of the relationship between the two characters that I wanted to get across is that she is not a human. She is a Quarian. And Quarians are not used to relationships, even among their own species. Many die whilst still being a virgin because being capable of anything of the sort is incredibly hard for them with the risk of disease. A character from the actual Mass Effect games says "the most intimate thing we (they) can do is link suit environments".
Even though in Part 12 everything was done as carefully as possible, Emi still could have gotten ill. That's why anything of that sort with Quarians is the ultimate sign of love and trust.
Emi in general is an outcast amongst the Quarians. As I said in the story, their race are extremely good with technology. But Emi is not. She preferred reading over studying technology and this left her slightly useless, hence why she was sent as an ambassador. The Migrant Fleet had no other use for her.

Now for Thomson. He is the average special operations soldier. Shoots to kill, has had enough training to suit pretty much any eventuality and is a rather fast thinker. He travels in an outdated space craft which he has become attached to, despite being regarded as useless.
When he and Emi met, he felt protective over her and made excuses to Renswick even though he didn't actually need to take her with him. His protection over her doubled with the incident with the undercover Cerberus operatives. He nearly killed them.
Alike to Emi, he is also inexperienced in relationships. He has spent his entire life in the military so didn't have the time to fall in love with anyone.
I'm pretty sure he'd do anything for Emi. He launched a nearly suicidal mission to save her and also volunteered for the operation to become the Human-Reaper so she would be safe. He cares for her and respects her. And he views her being a Quarian as a positive rather than a negative.
As for the reason why he actually loves her, I think it is partly because of the fact she is a good influence on him. She dislikes violence and he is trained to kill people. She's light to his darkness. He considers Emi an incredibly nice person and trusts her with his life.
Thomson's love is a lot easier to explain than Emi's.
Note: in the end Thomson did translate keelah se'lai wrong. This was an intentional event in the story. Keelah se'lai actually translates as 'by the home world I hope to see one day' - referring to the Quarian planet of Rannoch that the Geth invaded. Anything to do with the home world whether with that phrase or simply 'keelah' ('by the home world') are some of the more meaningful phrases in the Quarian language.

So yeah. That's the post that might help you to understand the pair.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Part 12

Warning: Contains mild-moderate sexual references (in a mild sort of way).

Emi wrapped her arms around his neck as soon as they reached his quarters. The air was completely sterile and he had showered in every sort of antibacterial and antiviral substances that were available to him from the medical bay. Everything was as clean as possible for her.
The door locked behind them and was decontaminated instantly.
Emi took off the glass of her helmet, leaving the golden bowl that formed the underside and revealing her beautiful face. They kissed, lips locked in an endless sign of passion.
There was a slight herbal aroma originating from her skin after she had used some sort of remedy to boost her immune system in combination with tablets. They kissed again and she removed the remainders of her helmet and discarded it on the floor.
He brushed a long strand of hair from her face as she took off the shoulders of her suit, showing more of her skin. He immediately put his hands over her shoulders and traced her bones with his fingers.
"... I'm so nervous..." she said. Her voice sounded less muffled without her helmet.
"Don't be," Thomson told her, "I love you."
She clicked the chest plate of her suit out of place and dropped it next to her helmet. Emi reared her head back as he kissed the bottom of her throat.
She removed the parts of her suit that covered her arms and hands. He looked at her face. Her lips were curled in a gentle smile and her glowing eyes were closed. Despite what had happened to them, she looked happy.
"... This is the first time someone has done this to me," she said as she twisted her neck to the side so he could kiss more of her throat.
Next she removed the part that covered her slim stomach and her curved hips. He caught the back of her suit that fell to the floor a moment after and put it next to the rest of her environment suit that laid in pieces.
When it came to removing the suit from her legs she was trembling. He held her hand; it slowed her progress but it made her happier which was all that mattered.
When she had finished disassembling her protective suit they cuddled tightly and kissed deeply.
"I... I've never been so happy... Being kissed is... Nice..."
He kissed her again. She smiled at him.
"Are you happy with this? I mean you're not scared?"
She shook her head, "... Just so, so nervous..."
"I'll tell you what," he said to her, "To get you used to it I'll massage your back. You've never had a massage before, right?"
"No... It sounds nice... Massage is a nice sounding word, too..."
"On Earth you used to be able to get them in a lot of places. People were trained to do this."
"... Are you trained?" she asked.
"Only to kill people. Sorry."
"... Please only massage me gently... You're the first to touch my skin in twenty four years..."
"I will, don't worry. Just say if you want me to stop."
She hopped on to his bed and laid on her stomach. He started by tracing her spine with one of his fingers, doing it so slow it must have taken a minute to reach the bottom.
The second time he stroked her spine she visibly became more relaxed. All the tension went from her body and she started to breathe slower and deeper.
Thomson moved both his hands on to her back, spreading his fingers across her flesh and position his thumbs so they were on her spine itself.
Gently and slowly, he moved his hands up her body until they were touching the back of her neck. She started making a sound as if she was humming - maybe it was a Quarian thing.
"Oh keelah this is good..." she said, "... I never thought my back would be able to feel so much..."
"Well I am trying my very best."
She smiled at him, relaxing even further as he traced her spine with his fingers again.
"Are you ready for something else?" Thomson asked her as he rubbed her entire back.
She nodded, "... Yes."

Neither of them got any sleep that night. After they had finished, Emi had put back on her suit and they had laid in each others arms until morning.
It was the best night the both of them had ever had.

2 Years Later...

The SF-2 Falcon just drifted. Its engines glowed only the dullest shade of blue to keep everything running smoothly. It was near no planets, moons nor stars. The darkness and emptiness of space was all that surrounded the ship.
Inside Thomson's quarters, it was completely sterile. Emi was out of her suit and only wore a black and blue shirt that bore the logo of the Alliance. 'SF-2' was written on the shoulder in grey letters. It was too big for her and finished mid-thigh.
They were in the middle of a deep and passionate kiss, one which had lasted for two minutes already. His right hand was on her knee, and his left one was entwined with hers.
The ship had no crew. No weapons, no crew, not a single other adult on board.
The two lovers broke away from the kiss.
"... You have no idea how much I love you..." Emi said. They kissed again, this one lasting just a few moments. But it was as equally fuelled with passion as the longer one. No kiss of theirs was without emotion.
Their love was stronger than ever. It burned brighter and more fierce than their last day on the Citadel. Even more powerful than the night they had spent together. It had been a night of incredible love - the first, but most definitely not the last.
Two Quarian children ran into his quarters. They were no more than one year old. Each wore a helmet, but otherwise no other parts of an environment suit. They had a woollen jumper each and some black trousers. One was a boy, the other a girl.
The boy was named Tiol'Derik and the girl's name was Bia'Derik. Half human, half Quarian.
What normally had been called impossible happened due to a breakthrough in genetic engineering the year before. They had been able to change Thomson's proteins so he was compatible with Emi. And they had two children - twins. They looked like Quarians though had the immune system of a human. They wore helmets because of their cultural significance more than anything else.
"Mum! Dad!" they cried at the same time.
"What is it?" Emi asked them, sitting up from Thomson's bed.
"Tell us the story!" they said excitedly.
"What story would that be?" Thomson questioned, a grin on his face.
"Well..." began Tiol, "Mummy said that she'd tell us about monsters. Metal monsters. And how a brave warrior destroyed them."
Emi blushed, "I may have... exaggerated a little..."
Thomson laughed, "You shouldn't mention all of what happened."
Emi's blush deepened, "... I missed out some parts too."
Thomson's Omni-tool beeped. He checked the message quickly.
"Oh..." he sighed, "Seems I have to go. Seems a metal monster has just been woken up on Tuchanka. It might take a while, you know how it is..."
Emi nodded and kissed him, "... Good luck... Be careful."
"I always am careful."
The End.

Thank you to all the people who have read up to this point. The main story - this one - has now ended. Special thanks goes to three people who have commented regularly - Star Inkbright, Adra Dark and Aquila Felis. You three have given me feedback on nearly every part. So thank you. Your comments have been appreciated and I hope you are happy with the ending.

But this will not be the end. Emi'Derik and Thomson are characters who I like writing about very much. Some of the events that has happened in the story - just in average conversation - has hinted at things that has happened in the past. So I will explore their pasts. How Emi will have ended up on Earth. How Thomson and Renswick fought the Geth for so many years. Maybe one set in the future where the 'metal monster' - the Reaper - managed to survive on the Krogan controlled planet of Tuchanka. The last of its kind. Maybe some faults that made it more powerful than ever - emotions.

With Mass Effect and all other universes like it, there are infinite possibilities. This will not be the end. Nothing is ever truly over. Yes, Thomson and Emi are happy and have settled down on the Falcon and are raising a family. But I'm sure with a past like theirs, action will just be around the corner.

But as for the next adventure, it will be set two years before the main story. On board the Migrant Fleet. The next series of my Mass Effect Fanfiction will be about Emi.

Part 11

Warning: May contain bad language and very, very, very mild sexual references.

"You realise we're the second group of people to successfully take down a Human-Reaper?" Lament pointed out, nearly shouting above the sound of the music inside Purgatory Bar. She downed a glass of wine quickly then immediately ordered another.
"Too many people died, though," Thomson responded, "I think there were thirty survivors. Too little. There's no way we can operate at full battle capacity with thirty crew members. The damage may be fixed but... It's useless. Weapon systems are permanently offline. We couldn't sustain a particle beam for a second."
"Maybe it's better that way," Aquila said as she sipped some lemonade through a straw, "I mean... You and Emi could settle down somewhere?"
He sighed, "The military is all I've ever known. I don't just want to forget a whole twenty four years of my life."
"How about if you joined as an Alliance consultant? Someone who only helped in an emergency? Then you'd get the best of both worlds," Herring suggested.
"I guess... But it's like... That's actually a good idea. I don't even want to become a Spectre... I have no idea why they asked me." Thomson said.
Emi walked up to the group almost nervously. She and Thomson embraced.
"... Thomson..." she said, "... Could I talk to you for a moment?"
He nodded, "Sure."
He stood up from the bar stool and moved to an empty area of the bar. When they were out of earshot, Emi started twiddling her thumbs. Not in a bored way, in a nervous way. She seemed to be trying to make herself as small as possible.
"What is it?" Thomson asked, "Are you ok?"
She cleared her throat quickly, "... I... I don't know how t... to ask... Do you r... remember when we were in your room... Y... You asked if I... I wanted any more...?"
He nodded, "Yes. Why?"
"I... I've b... been taking anti... antibiotics for the past f... few days... M... My immune s... system is good enough for..."
She gave an embarrassed cough, "... W... Well... You know... I mean... If you still want it... A p... platonic relationship is good for me too..."
He grinned and kissed the glass of her mask, "Of course I still want it. But you didn't have to be so nervous."
She snuggled into his chest, "I... I'm sorry... I didn't know how to let y... you know that I... you know, wanted it... I don't think I've been as warm or blushed so much in my life... It... It feels like my face is on fire... It's so... new... and so embarrassing..."
He kissed her mask again, "There's no reason to be embarrassed. Honestly."
"... S... So do you want to go s... somewhere else? ... A... A dance floor p... probably is not the most ideal place..."

Lament nodded towards Thomson and Emi, who were walking out of the bar, "Where'd you think they're going?"
Herring shrugged, "I have no idea. Do you know what ship we're being deployed to?"
Aquila shrugged, "Dunno. I want my old job back at the Citadel... a lot less explosions."
The music in the club stopped.
"Attention everyone," said a synthesised voice through the speakers, "We have just received news that the Reapers have been destroyed."
Purgatory Bar erupted into cheers.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Part 10

The SF-2 used their advanced tracking mechanism to detect Emi's shuttle. It had not yet reached the Migrant Fleet - due to the fact that it was propelled from the Cerberus base without any activation of the engines. It was just drifting.
When Emi walked through the shuttle bay of the Falcon she and Thomson embraced.
"... I... I thought I lost you..." she said, her glowing eyes inside her helmet blinking rapidly - probably in an attempt to clear tears from her eyes.
"I thought I had lost you too... I love you," Thomson replied, kissing her helmet, "More than everything in the entire universe."
Her helmet moved against his chest. He cuddled her tighter.
"... So is everything finished?" Emi asked softly, "... Can we have a holiday or something? ... All this violence is a bit... much..."
He kissed the top of her helmet, "Yes. We can go wherever you want. Renswick is dead and the Cerberus plans are in ruins. There's no way they could have tracked us. As soon as we get to a Mass Relay we can jump."
"Sir," said Max over the intercom system, "We have something weird on radar. We're running scans. We need you up on the bridge."
"Roger that," he said back, then turned to Emi, "Sorry. It'll be nothing. I'll be back in a moment. Love you."
He ran to the elevator and activated it with his Omni-tool. A moment later he stepped out into the cockpit of the SF-2 Falcon. Thomson admired the range of holograms that were used to control the ship. They were bright enough to make sure that the cockpit needed no other lighting.
"Max," Thomson said as he approached the end of the bridge that connected the cockpit to the elevator, "What is it?"
"To be honest Lieutenant I don't know. The scans are ninety percent completed and so far we have nothing. It's some sort of ship - it's too large to be anything else. I've checked them against Asari, Salarian, Turian, Quarian, Human and Krogan specs... nothing so far. But they're inbound to the ship. Unless they change course they should hit us in a few minutes..."
There was a beeping noise.
"... Oh shit," Max finished, "Scans completed it's... a Reaper. There's a bloody Reaper after us!"
"Turn around and hit it with the particle beam," Thomson suggested, "All weapons systems. The particle beam, the plasma cannons, everything. Just blow it up."
"Roger that."
There was another beeping noise. This one lower in pitch.
"Secondary scan completed..." Max pointed out, "It activated automatically when it realised it was a sentient being... it's a DNA scan... but it's registering as human."
"... Oh fuck. It's the Human-Reaper... they must have found someone to power it... shit."
"What should I do?" Max questioned.
"Sound the alarm. Get all crew to battle stations. Full armour. We need anyone who can fire a gun ready for an attack. We need to spin this ship around and try and kill it before it reaches us."
"Yes sir."

The Falcon did a one hundred and eighty degree turn so it was facing the incoming enemy. The Human-Reaper was in its sights, a large dark mass that drifted towards them.
It was exactly like a Human-Reaper sounds. It had a roughly human body, but it was the size of a Reaper. It didn't look to have any skin - the muscles and bones were visible and its head looked more like a skull. It had two giant orange eyes and instead of a mouth it had a large red rotating disk, similar to the disks that fired the energy beams from a normal Reaper.
The underside of the SF-2 folded inwards with a slight whir, revealing several cannons. There was a high-pitched whine as each powered up, starting to glow blue. The particle cannons fired at the same time, aiming inwards at the same angle. The individual blue beams of energy formed a single one and jetted towards the Human-Reaper at a frightening speed.
The beam hit the Human-Reaper directly in the forehead. But nothing happened. It was not ripped apart. It still continued its path towards the Alliance frigate.
The particle cannons sustained the beam as rapid-fire plasma guns fired from the middle of the SF-2. But they did as much damage as their first attempt to take it out.
The Falcon did not have time to perform evasive manoeuvres. The Human-Reaper raised its thick arm and gouged a chunk of the ship's armour from the top. It then grasped the wing and thrust its hand into one of the engines at the rear of the SF-2. The engine exploded, piercing the inside of the ship even more. Anyone who had been on the Engineering level had been killed instantly.
The Human-Reaper tore chunks out of the advanced armoured plating that covered the ship, then fired a red energy beam from its mouth. Orange, almost flame-like energy flickered across the remainders of the armour as it tried to put up a good fight, but eventually submitted to the powerful mouth-cannon.
It sustained the red energy beam and dragged it across the top of the ship, leaving black scorch marks and several places where the hull had been penetrated.
Then the Falcon crew decided to act. The ship's remaining engines started glowing brighter as it accelerated and shifted from side-to-side, in an attempt to shake the Human-Reaper off. But it knew they could not go faster than light - the hull had been breached. It would kill everyone in the entire ship if they decided to find a mass relay. And it could not be shaken off, either. It had its hand firmly lodged into the underside of the ship. If not for the lack of gravity it would have been dangling.
Smoke was pouring out of the Falcon at an alarming rate and the weapons systems were offline. It was defenceless against its attacks.

"Fuck!" Thomson shouted as the ship sustained more damage than it had done in its entire twenty years of service. Explosions were audible throughout the Falcon. "Max!" he barked, "How far away are we from Earth?!"
"About five minutes at full speed, thirty seconds FTL. For fucks sake why?!"
"I have an idea! Just set a course for Earth! I'll try and distract that thing! Do not go FTL whatever happens!"

A single shuttle exited the docking bay of the Falcon as it accelerated to top speed without going faster than light. It just managed to keep up and turn so it was facing the Human-Reaper. The large creature barely noticed it.
But then it turned its lights on. The Human-Reaper's face lit up and it made a groaning noise before trying to cover its face.
A giant hand tried to swat the shuttle away but Thomson manoeuvred it safely out of its reach.
"Thomsonnnnnn," a voice hissed through the intercom system, "I bet you didn't expect me to be alive, did you? After you shot me..."
"Renswick?" he questioned, "... How?"
"The same operation that they wanted to conduct on you was the thing that saved my life... and now I am going to take yours... "
A red energy beam flew at the shuttle but Thomson did a barrel role to avoid it. Luckily the shuttle was a lot more nimble than the SF-2 Falcon.
But then the weapon traced back to his position. He tried to avoid it but the beam scraped along the engines. Smoke and fire poured out of the rear of the shuttle and he began to lose control. It was shaking and no matter how hard he tried to steer it away from crashing into the Human-Reaper - Renswick - it seemed as if it had set a course and would go on it no matter what.
The creature's large hand came from nowhere and snatched the shuttle from the blackness of space. The interior rocked as Renswick shook the ship. Thomson secured a breather helmet on to his head.
"I'm going to crush you," the Human-Reaper hissed. Claws suddenly penetrated the shell of the shuttle as its hand squeezed. When it withdrew them, the air hissed out of the shuttle, leaving everything eerily quiet.
Then it ripped the shuttle in half. Thomson looked up into its large orange eyes, which were full of hatred and rage. And then tried shaking him from out of the cockpit. He managed to grab a single M-8 Avenger rifle from a rack.
He took a running jump. Thomson drifted through space for a moment, almost as if it was in slow motion. Then he crashed down on the top of the damaged Falcon. He quickly used his biotics to make sure he stayed in place and didn't drift off anywhere.
Renswick raised a giant muscly fist.
"You do not have any weapons strong enough to defeat me," the creature pointed out through the communicator in his helmet as Thomson emptied magazine after magazine into its face.
Then it turned around. Earth was looming in front of them. A blue light amongst the blackness of space. Fires still dotted the surface of the planet and the Reapers were visible, even from such a distance.
"What are you doing?!" the creature growled angrily.
"Unfortunately," Thomson responded, "I can't tell you that. I don't have the authority to discuss our operations with someone like you."
The Human-Reaper screeched and fired its red energy beam at him. He threw up a quick mass effect barrier which halted the laser, but he felt it weakening second by second. They entered Earth's atmosphere and raced down to the surface. Towards a specific point. In a specific city.

A single Reaper had been appointed to stay in London whilst the others moved to the other cities of the planet. It continuously fired its energy beam, slicing through buildings and roads like a knife through butter.
Incoming transmission.
There was radio chatter above the Reaper.
"I do not have the weapons to defeat you," a male human said, "But maybe they do."
The Reaper turned and moved its large metal legs so it could face the sky.
SF-2 Falcon - Alliance Frigate. Crew: 30. Destroy.
Then it saw the large creature on top of it.
Undesignated organic creature: destroy.
It fired its energy beam at the creature. It was thrown off the frigate - which managed to manoeuvre its damaged shell back up into the atmosphere.
The creature hit the ground with a large bump, which threw up dust and debris.
Just to make sure, the Reaper fired again. A thirty second long beam of energy that ripped its body to pieces.
Target destroyed. Chances of survival: nil.
If the Reaper Destroyer could have felt annoyance, it would have been annoyed. It should have taken time to assess the situation before firing. If it had taken down the ship, both targets would have been destroyed. But it would have cost time. Time it did not have.
Oh well, it mused, bundles of code forming together to become thoughts, It'll get taken out by someone else.

Thomson swung back into the SF-2 via a hole in the cockpit.
"Right, Max. We need to get to the Citadel and make a lot of repairs," he said.
"Uh... I hope you understand that it'll take a few hours without a mass relay..." Max responded, "And how did you know that would work?"
"Well... I didn't. But I thought that the Reapers would think that the Human-Reaper would have been destroyed and maybe deleted it from their systems or something. And if it hadn't, Cerberus had implanted a human mind into it. I didn't think it'd show up on their systems as an ally. And it seems it worked."
"But how did you know the Reaper would have shot the Human-Reaper and not us?"
"That's something I didn't know either. But I figured that we'd all be dead anyway unless we got it off. Just please get to the Citadel. I'll look for Emi."

The shuttle bay had numerous hull breaches. In fact there was little of the walls remaining intact. He was glad that Emi's suit had its own respiratory system or she would have been killed. Good thing the artificial gravity was still working on board the ship, too. Otherwise Emi would have been sucked out into space.
"Emi?" he called.
"... Thomson?" her small voice was audible in the darkness, "... You said it'd be nothing..."
She stood up from behind the Falcon's shuttle. Her body was shaking slightly with fear.
"I'm so sorry... I didn't think it would be..."
"... What was it?" she asked, "... There were explosions and fire and..."
"I know. Cerberus had implanted Renswick's brain into the Human-Reaper and unleashed it on us. Everything is fine but we're extremely damaged and lost quite a lot of our remaining crew. As far as I can tell we're down to about thirty. That's enough to get us to the Citadel but nothing more. We need repairs. I'm sorry..."
She put her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her waist, "... I love you, Thomson..." she said softly, "... I'm so glad this is over now..."
"So am I. But god I'm tired. Fighting Cerberus and Human-Reapers is so damn tiring. I think I'd like to go to sleep before we reach the Citadel."
"... I didn't sleep either... Not whilst I was in the shuttle anyway... I wanted to be awake in case of a rescue... I'm tired too."
"As far as I can tell my quarters doesn't have any holes in. We can rest there."
She nodded, "... That'd be nice... I'm close to dropping..."
"Oh, and Emi... I'm going to make it up to you. All this fighting. It's been horrible and I'm sorry."
They walked to the elevator, holding hands.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Part 9

"... Wait, what?" Thomson laughed, "You can't be serious."
"Oh come on you idiot," Renswick growled, "It wasn't that hard to figure out. I am the undercover agent they were talking about on the Citadel."
"... You're a monster..." Emi said.
"Shut up," Renswick responded.
"Renswick..." Thomson began, "... How? You've been my friend for fifteen years!"
"And all that time I have been undercover. And you never suspected anything. Remember when I was late to show up on the Falcon?"
Thomson nodded.
"I had been killing all those people you found on the floor!" he laughed, "And remember how they just happened to know we were coming through that door? I told you where we were going whilst you were fighting the mechs. And I was the one who hit you in the head."
"Bastard!" Thomson hissed, raising his pistol.
"Drop it!" Renswick shouted, "Or I'll shoot the Quarian!"
Thomson dropped his weapon, "Why the fuck do you want me, then? Why didn't you just take me when we were on the Citadel? How did you shoot the soldiers when you were working for them?"
"Unfortunately I can't tell you that. I don't have the authority to discuss Cerberus operations with someone like you. But to your third question the magazines I used were blanks. I didn't fire a single live round - the soldiers pretended to be dead. Oh and by the way, there's someone who wants to talk to you."
The door opened. Three people stepped into the room. All of whom Thomson recognised instantly.
Leading was a terrible man who Thomson had only heard of in whispers. Apparently he had the best and worst traits of humanity rolled into a single being. He had eyes bluer than the glowing orbs of the Husks, and was wearing a black suit with a grey shirt. He had a cigar in his hand, of which smoke poured out of in a slight trickle. The Illusive Man - the leader of Cerberus.
The other two were the two undercover agents who had threatened to torture Emi.
"Oh keelah..." Emi whispered.
"Hello Lieutenant Thomson," said the Illusive Man, "Welcome to the centre of our Earth operations. It is very good to see you. I mean, I made the plans after all. I didn't think you'd be so blind, however."
"Illusive Man," growled Thomson, "What the fuck do you want?"
The leader of Cerberus smiled, taking a moment to smoke his cigar, "We want you, Thomson. Unlike my dear friend Renswick here, I am at liberty to discuss my plans. And I wish for you to know them before they are carried out. It is incredibly fun to see the mix of helplessness and fear on people's faces.
You see, a few years ago, a race called the Collectors - who I believe to be an extinct race known as the Protheans who were changed and mutated by the Reapers to become their soldiers - started abducting and killing human colonies. We brought Commander Shepard back from the dead and he worked with us to try and stop it. We sent him on a mission deep in to Collector space via the Omega 4 relay to try and destroy their base.
He succeeded. Despite my orders for him to not blow it up so we could use their technology, he blew it up. But as he left we sent a single cruiser through the Omega 4 relay to survey the destruction and salvage what we could from the explosion.
And then we found it. Perfectly intact. An experiment by the Collectors and the Reapers. They were using humans and changed them into a biological soup which they used to fuel a mutant. A Human-Reaper."
"And what has this got to do with me?" Thomson asked. His hands were tightening into fists as he tried to stop himself from hitting every Cerberus operative in the room. But instead he kept hugging Emi, who was crying into his shoulder.
"The mind from the Human-Reaper had gone," explained the Illusive Man, "Shepard had destroyed it. But its body was perfect. We needed to do some slight fixing and tweaking of the design but nothing that changed much. But then that left us without a mind for it."
"And that's where I came in," Renswick pointed out with a grin.
"Indeed. Mr Renswick here had been one of our operatives for many years. He had done a survey of Alliance soldiers, and one after the other we tried to use them as a possible mind to power the Human-Reaper, which we would use for our own purpose. But none of them were powerful enough. It wasn't the body that rejected the mind, it was the mind that rejected the body. They were not willing. They did not volunteer for the operation to take place. And then it was your turn. We did a neural scan - your mind was powerful enough to power the Human-Reaper. And now we have a chance for you to be our first volunteer."
"Why the fuck would I volunteer you sick son of a bitch?" Thomson yelled.
"Because if you don't," said one of the people who had threaten to kill Emi, "We'll kill the Quarian."
"... Don't do it Thomson," Emi begged, "Please don't..."
"... I'm sorry," he answered, "But I love you too much. I can't let you die... I already thought I had lost you once..."
He kissed her helmet. She propped her head against his.
"... please," she asked again, "Please..."
"How very touching," grinned the Illusive Man, "Thomson, do you agree? Will you power the Human-Reaper? Will you become greater than your present form?"
Thomson hesitated for a moment, but nodded slowly, "I will..."
"No!" Emi cried.
"Ssh, it's ok," Thomson whispered to her, "You'll be safe..."
"... I don't want to be safe if it's without you..." was the reply.
"I'm sorry Emi... but if your life is at stake I must do this. I love you... my life is meaningless unless I know you're ok."
"I love you too..." she sobbed.
They were pulled apart. Renswick grasped Thomson's shoulders and pulled him out of the room. He reached out for Emi and she reached back. But their hands never connected.
The door slammed shut behind him, separating the two lovers by a physical barrier of wood.
"You can go," he heard one of the Cerberus operatives say to Emi, "Never come back or you'll be killed."
His hand went to his belt and activated his radio transmitter.

He must have been drugged. The next thing he knew he was waking up on a bed. He was strapped down by thick white ropes that draped from one side to the other. His hands were secured in place by metal cuffs that attached to the bed, trapping his wrist and forcing his hand to be flat against the material of the bed sheet.
The bed suddenly moved so it was upright. He found himself looking into the face of the Illusive Man.
"Welcome to our laboratory," the leader of Cerberus grinned, "I hope you enjoy your stay."
Thomson smiled slightly, "I hope you understand if I get a chance to I will kill every one in this room."
"Of course I do. And that is why you are secured safely on this table. You did volunteer for this."
"Only because you didn't give me a choice!"
"I gave you plenty of choice," countered the Illusive Man, "You could have let your girlfriend die and you could have walked free."
"And where's Renswick that traitorous son of a bitch?"
"He's happily on board your ship. Taken control of it since you appointed him second-in-command."
"And what of Emi?"
"The Quarian? She's fine. We sent her back to the Migrant Fleet, as was our deal. We use your mind to power the Human-Reaper, and she gets to go free."
Thomson was not scared. There was a calmness that kind of worried him. He took a deep breath. Emi was safe. She was with her own people. No matter what happened to him, she was safe. Everything was fine. It wasn't that he didn't care about himself, it was that nothing mattered more to him than she did.
He felt cold. Cold and calm. Cold, calm and collected. He knew that he should be scared. But he wasn't. Emi was fine. So he was fine. Everything was fine.
Then he saw the operatives who had threatened to torture her at the rear of the room. Anger bloomed in his stomach but he was unable to move.
His restraints retracted and he fell on the floor, surprised at the sudden lack of support to hold him on to the table.
"And before you think about trying to kill me, there are armed guards," said the Illusive Man, "It would not be smart to try anything. If you could kindly walk this way..."
Thomson began walking behind the Illusive Man and several armed Cerberus soldiers moved behind him, the muzzle of their semi-automatic rifles pushing into his back.
They started moving towards the rear of the room, where some sort of machine laid. It was roughly shaped like a coffin - white in colour - and seemed to be made of some sort of metal. There were two rotating disks that glowed blue set against the wall next to the machine.
Thomson had to do something. He might have volunteered to be a part of this experiment but he wasn't volunteering willingly. If he had a choice to do it, he wouldn't. So he had to get out of it... somehow.
He flung his arms back and a biotic shockwave took the soldiers off their feet. He spun to the Illusive Man and punched him hard in the face, before spinning back to the Cerberus soldiers.
A gun sounded and blood spurted from his knee. His leg gave way beneath him and he collapsed to the floor.
"Shit!" he cried, hands immediately going to the wound and putting pressure on it. The Cerberus soldiers kicked him in the face and he grunted.
"That wasn't clever, was it?" the Illusive Man pointed out, spitting blood at him, "What was your plan, to fight off ten guards without any weapon?"
Thomson nodded then flung a blood-stained hand to the side, his palms glowing blue. The soldiers once again were sent flying. He managed to crawl his way so he was standing on his un-injured leg, but he was promptly shot in the shoulder and hit the floor once again.
He hissed in pain and groaned. A dull, yet sharp, pain was originating in his shoulder and knee. Blood soaked his SF-2 uniform.
"Ha!" grinned one of the soldiers who had threatened to torture Emi, "He is a stupid soldier to try and fight against these odds."
They hadn't killed him.
They needed him.
He was lifted to his feet and he felt his vision go black for a moment as he struggled to keep himself conscious. He had lost a lot of blood and he desperately needed medical attention.
"We can't use him in this state," the Illusive Man pointed out, "We need to get him to the med bay."
Then his vision did go black.

The first thing he was aware of when he opened his eyes, blinking away the remainders of unconsciousness, was that his body ached. His shoulder and knee were still in pain that lingered in his mind. He couldn't ignore it. It hurt.
His eyes went to the gunshot wounds. They had healed perfectly, though there were two large holes in his uniform. He flexed his shoulder and grimaced - hurt, but usable.
"Sir," he heard a voice say, "We something on radar. Some sort of starship is inbound to our location. Their weapons are primed and... they have locked on this building with their particle cannon."
"Activate countermeasures," came the response from the Illusive Man, "Get them with the AA gun."
"Negative sir. The AA gun is not operational. I believe they just destroyed it."
"Any idea who it is?"
"Negative. They don't match any of the known Alliance vessels that are fighting the Reapers."
"Broaden the scan."
"Yes sir."
There was a loud static sound originating from the intercom system.
"For a large organisation like you," a familiar voice said, "Your systems are too easy to hack. I mean, I think I only spent a minute on it. And hey look I have control over your intercom systems and your holographic projections."
It was the teenager who he had met before he had entered the Houses of Parliament. Herring if he remembered correctly. Herring Oswild.
"And," Herring continued, "Now your electronic devices and lighting."
The lights around the room started to flicker.
"Shut up you moron," said another voice through the intercom. Doctor Lament. "Hello Cerberus!" she said cheerfully, "We're in an Alliance Frigate! And you're in a tiny little space station. So... unless you surrender to us we'll blow you to pieces."
"You don't have the firepower to blow up this station. It has shields," the Illusive Man grinned.
"... and now they're inactive," Herring pointed out, "And so are your barriers, biotic shields and electronic defence plating. You should have increased your firewalls by about ten and a half thousand percent but that's another matter entirely."
"And how did you gather the coordinates of this space station?" the Illusive Man asked, nodding towards the many people who were working on computers around the room to try and get the AA cannon back online.
"Easy. We tracked a radio signal that was activated back in London and we were listening into your conversations the entire time." Lament said.
"And what of Renswick?" the Illusive Man asked.
"Hm. Sat here in chains. Say hi Renswick!"
"Hello," Renswick said.
"As I said," Lament continued, "We were listening in. You really are silly. But I digress. Now more threats. This cannon we have here on our ship is powerful enough to rip a giant hole in your base within less than a second of sustained fire. So let Thomson out and we'll hand you Renswick and not destroy your base."
A soldier unfastened his restraints and Thomson's hands grasped his throat and twisted his head to the side sharply, there was a cracking sound and the soldier dropped, his neck broken.
He sent both the Illusive Man and the remaining soldiers flying backwards with a shockwave, and he began sprinting across the room, heading towards a small doorway at the back.
On his way he kicked up one of the semi-automatic rifles Cerberus used and caught it in his hands. He provided covering fire for himself as he ran out of the door.
"Get after him!" hissed the Illusive Man, "Initiate lockdown!"

Thomson followed the signs to the armoury. It was his first priority. He secured a breather helmet on to his head and quickly put on some his armour - which he realised was his own after a moment of putting it on - and powered up the shield generator.
"Thomson," Aquila said through the communicator built into his helmet, "If you navigate your way to the airlock we'll pick you up there. Renswick is already on board the Cerberus station. It'll be a nice and easy swap. You for him."
"Shit. That means he'll come after us. I don't know where I am. Tell Herring to bring up the base schematics... unfortunately there are no signs for the airlock."
"Will do," was the reply, "Herring get the schematics up for the Cerberus base. Or something."
"Got them," Herring said a moment later, "I'm uploading the map to your Omni-tool."
"Thanks," Thomson said. He activated the Omni-tool on his arm and a small circular map was visible. There was a small dotted line giving him the route to take.
Then an alarm sounded. A loud, wailing alarm that would have nearly deafened him if not for his helmet. Shutters slid down over the windows on the walls.
He continued down the corridor with the metal floor and stone walls. There was a little orange dot on the map that was moving along the route that he was supposed to take, which obviously indicated his position. The corridor opened up into a room and his target - the airlock - was on the far side. There was a door in his path.
But there were red dots filling the room.
"What are the red dots?" he asked.
"Uh... well I set the scanner for Cerberus soldiers and mechs. So I guess..." Herring answered.
"Fuck. Can you provide any assistance?"
"I'll see what I can do. I'll get Max to fire the particle cannon. Just get ready for a big jump."
"Roger that."
There was a gentle humming noise from outside the Cerberus station. It grew in pitch and then there was a large dissipation of energy and the door disappeared, revealing the blackness of space. He used his biotics to make sure that he wasn't sucked out.
Something struck him in the head and he was sent to the floor. Thomson dropped his rifle. He got to his feet and turned. Renswick was stood in front of him wearing a white Cerberus breather helmet.
"You bastard!" Thomson growled, "You're a traitor!"
"I know. But now it's your time to die. You have to love artificial gravity boots, right?"
Renswick swung another punch at him but he ducked underneath it and Thomson slammed his elbow into his stomach.
His friend, or ex-friend, staggered back but his armour absorbed most of the impact. Thomson was the first to launch a punch this time, but it was blocked. Renswick kicked him in the stomach and elbowed him in the helmet and he stumbled, stars flashing in front of his eyes.
Renswick tried kicking him again but he moved his hands underneath his boot and pushed it upwards, making him lose his balance. Thomson used the momentum to drive an elbow into his helmet, then dropped and sliced his leg sideways, taking out Renswick's feet from underneath him.
But he was up again in a moment, and he drew a knife. It glinted in the gentle light from a moon that hovered in the blackness many kilometres away.
Renswick sliced the knife down but Thomson grabbed his wrist so it didn't cut into his armour and potentially kill him. Their free hands locked in an attempt to either push or hit the other so they could land more strikes.
Renswick was stronger than Thomson thought and he soon felt his forearms beginning to weaken. So instead of being stabbed he slammed their helmets together, making the knife fall from Renswick's grip as he grunted in surprise. But he countered it with a punch to the side of the helmet that made Thomson fall to the floor.
When he gathered his bearings and looked back to the traitor, a knife was back in his hand. Thomson's hands quickly scrambled to the semi-automatic rifle that lay next to him. He took quick aim as Renswick raised the knife and began slamming it down towards his chest.
He fired.
Renswick's armour was torn apart by the heavy rifle and blood splashed over the wall behind them. He dropped to his knees.
"Oh," Renswick said softly, "I didn't expect that..."
His traitorous friend fell face-first on to the metal floor.
"That's for betraying me you son of a bitch," Thomson said as the SF-2 Falcon pulled alongside the ruined wall of the Cerberus base, the airlock on the side of the frigate hissing open. One of the crew members wore a breather helmet and was gesturing for him to jump across.
So he did. He sprinted and took a running jump, momentarily crossing the emptiness of space. He found himself soaring into the airlock, which shut behind him.

As the SF-2 Falcon pulled away and activated its engines, immediately increasing speed to six times the speed of light and vanishing, the Illusive Man stood over Renswick's barely-alive body. A pool of blood formed in little droplets above the gunshot wound due to the lack of gravity.
"S... Sir," Renswick managed to say, blood leaking out of the side of his mouth, "H... Help me..."
"Your body will be dead in less than three minutes," the leader of Cerberus pointed out, "But I did some neural tests of my own... We have a new body for you. Waiting inside the cargo hold. Do you accept?"
"Y... Yes..."

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Part 8

Warning: May contain foul language and scenes some people may find upsetting.

Thomson awoke on the floor of Presidium Commons. Someone was looking down at him. Someone with long dark hair.
His vision cleared. It was Ashley Williams - the woman who he and Renswick had seen before they had fought the mechs. Renswick had said that she was a Spectre.
"Hey," she said with a smile, "At least someone made it."
"... What happened?" Thomson moaned. He remembered something hitting him in the head and the pain that accompanied it, but nothing more. That was it.
"Cerberus attacked the Citadel," she started to explain, "An assassin killed the Salarian councillor but luckily because of Commander Shepard it is back under our control. The rest of the councillors are safe. Udina isn't, but that's another story."
"What happened to Udina?"
"I kind of well... shot him. He was working for Cerberus. He was the reason why they attacked."
"... No. They said they were here for me... but they left me... why would they do that?"
She shrugged, "I think you were dreaming."
"No... I wasn't dreaming. Renswick and I saw Kai Leng, the assassin... Renswick? Where's Renswick?"
"Who is Renswick?" Ashley asked him.
"My friend. The one who I was with when we met on the stairs."
"I don't know," she said, "I haven't seen him... there was a report that they took an Alliance soldier and a Quarian captive on a shuttle but I think that's just a rumour."
"... Fuck!" Thomson growled, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"
"Cerberus have captured my girlfriend and my best friend! Fuck!"
His Omni-tool beeped. It was a video message.
He started playing it. It was from Emi.
After the first sentence he was staring in disbelief. After the second his chest started aching as the Quarian broke his heart. The third made tears well up in his eyes. After the message had played fully he was crying.
What they had... it was special to him. He had known her for only a few days but he loved her more than anything. But it was clear that she no longer felt the same way about him. He could no longer fight the Reapers. He could no longer fight Cerberus. He had nothing to fuel him. Nothing at all.
She was like his life-blood. She was what had kept him going since they had met. He had never experienced a broken heart but all he felt was sadness and pain.
He had trusted her. And she had betrayed him. But she couldn't ever do that... Even when the Cerberus people had threatened to torture her if she told him who they were - she did. She put her life on the line to tell him the truth and then she just betrayed him like that. She didn't even tell him face-to-face, she used a video message via his Omni-tool. It hurt. Nothing had hurt him more in his entire life. Not even the gunshot wound - the physical pain - he had once suffered whilst fighting the Geth was nothing compared to the pain he felt inside.
But he still loved her. He was sure he'd never stop. Nothing could change how he felt about her, but it was obvious that the same didn't apply to her. She had fallen in love with someone else. It was her decision who she was with, so he guessed he didn't mind the fact that she was with someone else. He wanted her to be happy, even if he was not part of her happiness. But she had hurt him. More than she could ever know.
At least she was...
No. She was not safe. She was in London - the Reaper battleground. She was definitely not safe. Being on Earth put her in the most danger in the entire galaxy. He had to go and try to change her mind. The Commander - whoever he was - was her decision if she wanted to be with him. But he could not stand her being in danger. No matter how she felt about him he still loved her. He would do anything to keep her safe.
That meant he'd have to go to London.
"... I'm sorry," Ashley began, "Maybe the report was inaccurate... Is there anything I can do?"
Thomson shook his head, wiping tears from his face, "No. This is something I have to do myself."

The crew of the SF-2 Falcon was down to half capacity. Despite Aquila Felis' and Doctor Lament's best efforts, several of the major crew had died. Aquila was crying when he made his way back to his ship and Lament had a look of sadness in her eyes.
Thomson felt equally sad. But it was passion that fuelled his heart. Passion to get Emi to safety.
"Max," he barked into the communicator, "Get this ship down to London. Now."
"Captain..." Max countered, "Earth is-"
"I know what it bloody is. Just get down there. Get the crew on board and go to the Mass Relay. If we're not there within an hour I will personally come up to the cockpit and fly this frigate myself. Got that?"
"Yes Captain."

There was no way Cerberus could have known that he and Renswick were going to come through that door. No way at all. They would have not known the way they were going - they weren't using one of the main entrances. And yet their plan was executed perfectly. But they still left him. Why?
The more he thought about it - the more it didn't make sense. Only a day ago Emi had been telling him how much she loved him. She hadn't had time to meet someone else... Most of the time she had been with him, anyway.
Maybe the report had been accurate. Maybe Renswick and Emi had been taken by Cerberus. Maybe they were the ones responsible for the video message he had received. Maybe...
Something else that didn't make sense: Emi had said "keelah se'lai" at the end of her message. She had told him what it meant when they were on Earth - "by the homeworld I hope to see you one day", or something. He didn't fully remember, but it was something like that. She wouldn't have said that unless she did want to see him. Maybe...
There were too many unknowns, but he didn't care. He'd walk in, rescue her and Renswick and kill anyone who got in his way. That was a good plan.
"Beginning deceleration," Max pointed out over the intercom.
The truth about FTL travel was rather simple. Once you hit light-speed you remained like that for half the journey - the other half being the slowing down stage so you didn't hit your intended target and shatter into a million pieces. That meant they were close to Earth.
He moved to the cockpit of the SF-2 and looked out of the window as planet Earth appeared directly in front of them. A mass of blue from the sea, green from the land and red from the many fires that raged across the surface in the major cities across the world.
"If you remain in orbit," Thomson said to Max who was controlling the Falcon with an array of holograms, "Then we'll take the shuttle down and you can stay here until I call."
"Who are you taking with you?"
"I'll get the remaining crew into the CIC. Then I'll take volunteers only. People who don't want to come will not be of use."
"Good plan. I'll use the intercom right away."

"Friends, comrades and crew members," Thomson began, "As many of you are aware, we are in Earth's orbit. The reason is entirely personal. Emi'Derik - my girlfriend - is at danger. And so is Renswick who many of you know too. This is not an official Alliance mission and I do not expect any of you to volunteer for this. As everyone knows, the Reapers are in control of Earth. It will be hard to get in - if not impossible. And then there will possibly be Cerberus operatives as well. But any help would be appreciated.
We have been underestimated. The Falcon was pushed back beyond the front line after it was flagged as useless in the fight against the Reapers. Cerberus and the Reapers themselves have clearly marked us as not being a threat. They question what we are made of. They question what we are capable of.
So I say we show them. We show them what we're made of. We show them what we are capable of. We will land on Earth. We will rescue Renswick and Emi'Derik. We will return alive and damn anything that gets in our way.
We are the weakest Alliance Frigate in the entire galaxy. We were left weakened by the attack on the Citadel. We are under-crewed. We have limited weapons. But that will not stop us. We will rise against our enemies and show that the Alliance was wrong: we are capable of fighting. We are capable of winning. And we leave no one behind. Not a single person.
So do any of you volunteer to be a part of a potentially and most likely suicidal task to rescue two single people?"
Doctor Lament's hand shot up, "I do. I saw what Cerberus did to the people on the Citadel. I want some revenge."
The squad who had blown up the Cerberus starship also raised their hands.
Aquila Felis - the nurse who he and Renswick had found on the Citadel steadily rose her hand, "... I think I'd like to help. And so would Butterfly. I talked to Emi when she was in the hospital. She is a nice person and she does not deserve what had happened to her. So if you're taking a team in I could provide medical assistance along with Doctor Lament."
"Hey," Lament grinned, "I'll be fighting too. Not just providing assistance. That's not my style."
Bob smiled at her, "Combat medic."
"More of a get-out-of-the-way-unless-you-want-to-get-shot-in-the-face medic," answered Lament.
"And just so you know," Thomson said, "The loyalty of those who have not volunteered will not be questioned. Nothing will be held against you. Those who have volunteered, get your armour and weapons and go to the shuttle. We leave in ten minutes."

The volunteers were already armed and waiting for him when he got to the shuttle. Lament carried a pistol and "Bob and the gang" carried M-8 Avengers. Aquila was unarmed, but her combat drone floated at her side. They were all wearing the black and blue armour that marked them out as members of the SF-2 Falcon and breather helmets. There was a gentle hum from their shield generators.
The door to the shuttle hissed open and swung down and they boarded the vessel.

The small shuttle hovered a metre or so above the ground and the door opened, revealing the skyline of endless ruins and black Reapers that massed along the horizon. Big Ben had collapsed by now - and had crushed several buildings as well as the Houses of Parliament. And still black smoke drifted into the atmosphere.
Thomson took several moments to look at the horde of Husks that were slowly advancing towards the shuttle.
"Let's go."
They jumped down from the open shuttle and landed one after the other in a crouch on the dusty ground. The shuttle zipped away back towards the Falcon, leaving the small group alone in a world full of Reapers.
"Do you know where you're going?" Lament asked Thomson.
"I have absolutely no idea. But let's take a look around."
"Uh..." Steve said, "I hope you understand that there are Husks coming towards us."
"Yes, I do. Get into a defensive formation."
The group moved into a v formation with Thomson at the tip. Husks flooded into the small open space they had landed on and they immediately began firing. Rounds from their rifles - and in Laments case, her pistol - flooded the air between the two groups and stopped the Husks in their tracks. No matter how many there were of them, they were being held back by the impenetrable wall of gunfire.
Before each of them had emptied their magazines, the Husks were laying dead a few metres away from them.
"Ok. We split up," Thomson advised, "One medic per group. Bob, if you lead Fred and Aquila that direction..." He pointed at a road coming off at a ninety degree angle to where they were, "... Then I'll lead Lament and Steve towards what remains of the Houses of Parliament. We need to scout the area and see if we can find anything."
"And what if we run into an ambush or something?" Steve asked.
"We'll radio in and get the other group to find us. Do a counter-attack on the Cerberus or Reapers or whatever the hell we run into."
"It's... an interesting plan," Lament pointed out, "Full of holes and unknowns but I guess I volunteered so meh. I think you've been blinded by desperation to find Emi and Renswick and as far as I can tell that has had a bad influence on your decision making and plan making skills."
"Then what do you suggest, Doctor?" Thomson asked.
"Let them come to us. Let them reveal their position. Scare them out of hiding."
She took a heavy black pistol from her belt and aimed it at the sky. She pulled the trigger and sent a red flare screeching through the air between the two routes Thomson had planned.
"Congratulations," Thomson grimaced, nodding towards the white smoke trail that pointed towards their position - like a giant white arrow in the sky, "You have just revealed our position. Nice plan."
"With respect, sir," Lament sighed, "Just shut the hell up and watch."
There were movements in the streets below. One group seemed to be mainly white, and the other group black. The white group - Cerberus - seemed to be coming from the mostly fragmented Parliament whilst the black - the Reaper ground forces - seemed to be on the street he had told the secondary group to go down. Both were moving towards a junction where the two streets met in the middle.
"Good work Doctor," Thomson told her, "If we survive, we're all going for a drink in Purgatory and the first round is on me."
She nodded, "I think at least the first five rounds, to be honest."
"If we move to the junction and try and hold the line then I will go into the Houses of Parliament and try and find Emi and Renswick. Just radio in if you need help and I'll be as quick as possible. Then once we've got them with us I'll get the Falcon to come and pick us up. Lament, Aquila, if anyone gets injured then you need to help. If I can help it I will not lose anyone on this damn mission."
"Are you sure going in by yourself is a good idea?" Aquila asked.
"To be honest?" Thomson answered, "No. But the landing zone needs protecting. Just trust me. We won't survive unless you all protect this area. I need to get in there, now."
"Good luck," Lament said with a nod, then started shooting her pistol at the Husks and Cerberus troopers that were advancing towards them. The soldiers returned fire with their semi-automatic rifles to the group scattered across the landing area to find cover behind the ruins of walls.
Thomson did not, however. He ignored the gunfire and advanced, shooting two Cerberus soldiers in the head and taking down a Marauder with a thrown biotic warp.
"Stay here!" he shouted and dived to the side to avoid a grenade which exploded behind him, throwing up debris and shrapnel that scattered across the floor.
He shot another soldier and avoided the claws of a Husk. It growled at him, blue synthetic eyes empty and lifeless. He ducked underneath another swing and shot it in the head with his rifle, firing from the hip.
Thomson waved his hand, throwing the remaining Cerberus soldiers off their feet using his biotics. He used the distraction to spin around and help the rest of the team to hold the Reaper ground forces at bay, before beginning to advance towards the ruined Houses of Parliament.
Gunfire filled the air and the troopers were taken out by the team that was protecting the landing area so they could get back to the ship once he had rescued Emi and Renswick.
Thomson quickly reloaded his M-8 when it clicked empty and sustained firing, killing the last of the Cerberus troopers who had come out to meet them.
He nodded at the rest of the group and then sprinted down the street leading to his target. There was plenty of debris underneath his feet - so much that sprinting hurt - but he ignored the pain and focused. He dreaded to think what Cerberus would have done to Emi. Hopefully she was alright.
As he reached the entrance, he saw movements to his left. He raised his rifle and aimed down the sight.
There was a fight between a human teenager and a Husk. As far as he could tell, the Husk seemed to be winning. It was on top of the teenager and pinning him down to the floor whilst desperately trying to claw at him. The teenager already had several cuts on his face and chest.
Thomson didn't dare shoot. They were too close together for him to be able to shoot accurately without hitting the teenager. So he started advancing to try and get a better shot.
The teenager's Omni-tool lit up and an orange combat drone - similar to the one Aquila had - appeared behind the Husk and a flash hit it in the back. The creature spun and sliced its claws at the combat drone, dissipating its weak shields. It flickered before deactivating.
The Husk turned back to the teenager, just to get shot in the chest by a pistol. It rolled off him, some sort of blue liquid leaking out of its body. It tried to stand up but Thomson shot it in the head.
"Who are you?" Thomson asked the teenager.
"My name's Herring," he answered, "Herring Oswild. Who are you?"
"Lt. Thomson. Alliance Navy. I'm here to rescue some of my friends from Cerberus. I have some people from my ship defending the landing area up. We can take you back to the ship. You could help our team. The more we have defending, the more chance we have at success."
"Ok, I'll go and help. Good luck. Cerberus are bastards, and so are the Reapers. Damn Reapers. I'm glad to be getting away from this planet."
"So will I be when we go. Stay safe Herring."
Herring jogged up the slight incline Thomson had just run down, passing the dead bodies of the Cerberus soldiers.
Thomson meanwhile pushed open the main doors to the Houses of Parliament, which were still intact though burned and broken slightly. He saw a flash of white armour so lashed out with his foot, catching a Cerberus soldier in the stomach. It hurt his foot, and the soldier only staggered, but it put enough distance between them for him to fire shots off from his rifle.
When the soldier dropped, his gun clicked empty. And he had no spare magazines so he switched to his pistol instead.
An electric sword flashed in front of him and he dived out of the way to avoid the blade that was being held by another Cerberus shock trooper, who was using it as a melee weapon. Thomson threw the soldier against the wall with his biotics, then ripped him apart at a molecular level.
He used a shockwave - probably the most powerful one he had ever conjured - to kill three more soldiers who were approaching him from down a corridor. It sent them flying backwards, straight through a wall.
"Emi?" he called.
No answer.
He ran up a staircase whilst calling her name. He must have passed a hundred doors and checked every single one - no sounds of movement and no other Cerberus soldiers. He felt like he and Emi were a million miles away, even though they could have been only a matter of metres.
"Oh god Emi where are you..." he mumbled. Even though the Houses of Parliament were big, his voice echoed. Something must have happened to her. He felt fear rising in the pit of his stomach. Fear and pain.
"Thomson in here!" he heard Renswick shout as he passed a heavy brown door. He spun to face the door and then kicked it in. It flew off its hinges and he ran into the room.
"Emi!" he yelled as he saw her familiar Quarian mask.
"Thomson!" she cried, throwing her arms around him, "Oh keelah I'm glad to see you..."
He hugged her back, tightly, "And I you. What happened? What did they do to you?"
"... I'm so, so, so sorry about that message I didn't mean it at all please forgive me they made me do it..."
He kissed her mask, "Don't worry. I know."
"Good to see you again, old friend," Renswick grinned, "And not bad timing, either."
"And why is that?" Thomson asked, a smile also playing on his lips inside his helmet.
Renswick's face changed, "Because now I get to kill you both."
He raised a pistol.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Part 7

Renswick took cover behind a pillar as Thomson lumbered towards the three mechs in the one he had taken down. He could barely see through the glass, and the armour needed repairing - but he had the element of surprise on his side.
"Atlas Alpha, we heard gunshots," said the communication device built into the mech. It was receiving radio signals from the three mechs that he was about to take down. They still didn't expect anything.
"Two soldiers only," replied Thomson, "Didn't put up much of a fight but they did a little damage. Once we're done here I'll need some repairs."
"Roger that. Any sign of the target?"
"Remind me again: who is the target?" Thomson asked.
"Lt. Thomson of course," replied a soldier from inside one of the other mechs, "We were briefed. He needs to be taken alive. Kai Leng is dealing with the Salarian. We're trying to cover up the fact that we're actually here for him with an attempt at assassination. Or something. Do any of you have any status reports from the undercover agent?"
"No. Nothing. We assume that he is deep undercover and doesn't have the time to send us a message."
Thomson moved. He grasped the nearest mech's arm and swung it so it crashed against a second mech's glass dome - shattering it and killing the soldier inside. The third mech opened fire but he moved the first one into the way of the incoming rounds so it was taken out instead. It sparked and collapsed to the floor.
Renswick fired a concussive shot into the dome of the remaining mech - which staggered it slightly and gave Thomson time to close in and fire a rocket into its legs - making it crash dome-first into the floor.
He then deactivated the mech and climbed out of the cockpit. The soldier from the final mech climbed out from underneath the wreckage.
"Why do you want to capture me?" Thomson demanded, aiming his rifle at the mech pilot.
The Cerberus soldier laughed slightly, despite his injuries, "And now that is an interesting question. It's all part of a plan, you see. A very devious plan. But... you are not permitted to know the details. It's a need to know basis."
Thomson sighed and used a shockwave to propel the mech pilot over the balcony and down a - at least- one kilometre drop to the bottom of the Citadel.
Renswick approached the four downed mechs, "Wow, that was awesome."
"Thanks. But we need to continue. We need to stop Kai Leng, who I presume is an assassin. I get that he is pretty much just a decoy but we need to stop him killing the councillor."
"And what if it's a trap?"
"Then we'll spring it and come out on top. My friends are at risk. My girlfriend is at risk. I'm pretty sure if anyone wants to mess with me right now then I'd rip them apart. I am not going to stand for this bullshit. Cerberus are fucking idiots and I won't rest until every single Cerberus officer on the Citadel is destroyed. We have enough shit to deal with - with the Reapers and all - without them fucking it up. We should be working together. They shouldn't be trying to kill us at a time like this!"
"I agree. Let's go."
As they moved near a door leading to another part of the Citadel it hissed open automatically. Thomson swung his gun on to his back and decided to rely on biotics instead. Renswick still kept his gun, since he lacked any biotic abilities.
"Do you have any idea who the undercover agent could be?" Renswick asked as they proceeded into another room.
"I have no idea. One problem at a time."
The next room was occupied. A man wearing black armour and carrying two swords in his hands. He had a black visor which covered his eyes, but he was otherwise wearing no helmet.
Kai Leng.
"Freeze!" Renswick yelled at the Cerberus assassin, "Drop your weapons!"
Kai Leng froze.
Thomson threw his arms to the side and the assassin was thrown off his feet and into a wall. There was a grunt of surprise and pain but he was lifted up again using his biotics and slammed backwards against the hard stone.
"What do you want?!" Thomson barked at Kai Leng, "Why are you trying to capture me?"
Kai Leng grinned, "That's not entirely important right now. But if I were you I'd turn around."
"Nice try. But that's not going to work. I asked you a question, asshole."
"Seriously Lieutenant, you'll want to see this."
Thomson turned his head slightly.
"Oh fuck."
Renswick was on his knees with his hands behind his head. He had three rifles pointing at the back of his neck - carried by three Cerberus soldiers who had obviously crept behind them when they entered the room.
"Is the plan complete?" one of the soldiers asked the assassin.
Kai Leng shook his head, "We need more time."
Something heavy crunched into the back of Thomson's head and he dropped to the floor, the world fading into blackness.

Emi screamed at the Cerberus soldiers who had threatened to torture her and now carried her out of the Falcon and into a remaining shuttle.
"Bosh'tets!" she cried, "... You're all b-"
"Shut the fuck up," growled one of the soldiers, "We don't need you unharmed, only alive."
"... I hope you understand Thomson will come looking for you... and that will be bad news for you, you stupid bosh'tet of a human..."
"We're counting on that. Our plan is rather simple once you understand it," responded the second soldier, "We're dealing with the last pockets of resistance against us from the Falcon crew. The Citadel is ours. And now we will be escaping."
"... Where to?" Emi asked, tears starting to flow down her face freely in thick trickles.
"Ground zero," grinned the first soldier, "Earth. Where else?"
"... But... you can't... the Reapers..."
"The Reapers will provide a perfect distraction for Thomson once he comes looking for you. He can't fight the Reapers and us at the same time. We will defeat him and our plan will continue."
"... How will he know where we've gone?"
"And that," grinned the second Cerberus soldier, "Is what we need you alive for."
"But as he said," added the first soldier, "We don't have to leave you unharmed."
He drew a knife.

"... I'm so sorry Thomson," Emi mumbled into the Omni-tool being held up to her mask, "... I don't love you any more... there was someone else... someone on the Citadel... someone nicer than you... we've gone to Earth... to London... to see what we can do to help the fight against the Reapers... he is a Commander... he outranks you and he thinks that we have a chance at destroying them if we work together... keelah se'lai..."
The orange hologram disappeared.
"... Bosh'tet!" she screamed at her captor, "... I hate you... so much... how could you make me do that to him?!"
The piece of parchment that had contained her 'script' was taken away from underneath her helmet - out of the view of the camera on the Omni-tool.
Her captor grinned, "You know why. To get his attention."
Renswick was sat down at the other side of the room. He smiled ever so slightly, "At least that will get his attention. He will try and find us."
Emi sobbed, "... And that's what I'm worried about..."
Her captor raised his Omni-tool and effortlessly hacked into her suit's artificial nerve stimulation system and delivered searing pain which scorched through her entire body. The room was full of her screams that slowly echoed across the battle-scarred remains of the city of London that was under occupation of several looming black Reapers.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Part 6

Warning: May contain foul language and scenes some people may find upsetting.

Thomson awoke to the sound of a large explosion. He immediately sat up and started putting on his armour and helmet. The Falcon rocked slightly as another explosion was audible.
Something was wrong.
When he was finished, he activated the mass effect shield generator and loaded his weapons. He then woke up Emi, who had been laying next to him.
"... What's happening?" she asked sleepily as the glowing eyes behind her helmet opened.
"I don't know. Something's wrong. I heard explosions so I'm going to see what is happening."
"... I'll come with you..."
"No. If we're being attacked I'd like you to stay here to make sure you're safe." He handed her his pistol, "If anything besides me comes through the door, please use this. I know you won't want to but it's to keep you save. I love you." Thomson kissed her helmet, then walked out of his quarters. The last thing he saw before the door closed was Emi looking at the Predator pistol as if she didn't know how to use it.
He hoped she'd be safe.
Another explosion. This one much closer. He felt the vibrations through the floor. Maybe his ship was being invaded by pirates?
No... it was in council space. It couldn't be pirates.
Then what was happening?
He stepped into the Combat Information Centre, a circular table in the centre of the room. There were doors coming off at all angles, and he started to hear voices coming from behind the door in front of him.
Thomson took cover behind the table of the CIC and raised his M-8 Avenger.
The door suddenly was thrown across the room, passing over his head and hitting the wall behind him. There was a large cloud of smoke and several people entered the CIC. They were wearing white and black armour, and helmets with glowing red eyes. They had an unmistakable orange logo on their shoulder.
They were Cerberus soldiers. On the Falcon. How?
He didn't have time to ask questions. He began firing in short quick bursts. Thomson could hear several pinging noises as the rounds hit their heavy armour. Several of them staggered back, but otherwise his gunfire did absolutely nothing.
He summoned a mass effect field into his hand and threw it. It hit the nearest Cerberus trooper and instantly tore him apart. The soldiers began firing at him so he ducked back into cover.
Then a cylindrical device landed in front of him. It started beeping.
"Fuck!" he yelled and rolled out of the way as the concussion grenade exploded next to him, throwing him slightly off balance as he was caught within the blast radius. He landed on his side but immediately scrambled to his feet.
He popped out of cover and sprayed all around the soldiers with rounds from his rifle. He must have hit a weak spot or something because two of them dropped, but the others continued advancing. His shield flickered slightly as it stopped enemy gunfire and began to weaken.
There was one way to stop them advancing. But if he aimed the biotic power wrong it could do untold damage to the CIC console. Was it worth it? Without question. But he didn't want to damage his own ship unless absolutely necessary.
Thomson decided to at least try.
Another mass effect field appeared in his hand - this one much more powerful. His arms had blue tendrils of energy coming from his armour and the spherical dark energy had ripples that dissipated into the air.
He moved out of cover again and sent it at the Cerberus soldiers. The mass effect field became a shockwave, that knocked over each of the troopers and sent them across the room, and on to the floor.
Thomson stood up and finished all but one with a round to the eye part of their helmets.
He approached the single survivor, and grabbed him by the chest plate of his armour and lifted him up in the air using his biotics.
"Why the fuck are you here on my ship?" he demanded.
He asked again.
Still no answer.
"Are you fucking deaf? Answer me or I'll shoot you!"
The Cerberus soldier remained silent.
"Fine. Have it your way."
Thomson unclicked the faceplate of the soldier's helmet.
"Woah what the fuck?!"
The soldier had a normal face, but it didn't shock him. It was his eyes. They glowed bright blue like a Husk's and were the same shape. Like human eyes but with some sort of slit towards the bottom.
Had he been indoctrinated?
No. He couldn't have been indoctrinated. There were no Reapers around in the Citadel. And he didn't act like a mindless slave - he was the one who had peppered his shield with rounds from his semi-automatic rifle. Mindless slaves didn't fight like that.
Then what was wrong with him?
The soldier suddenly grabbed him by the neck and threw him across the room. He felt his back hit the hard metal wall of the CIC and he groaned in pain, stars flashing in front of his eyes. He blinked several times in his helmet and then grabbed his gun and levelled it at the Cerberus trooper who was advancing towards him, faceplate still gone.
"Stop!" Thomson yelled, "Or I'll shoot!"
The soldier didn't slow down.
So he fired his rifle once. The soldier dropped to the floor with a hole between his glowing eyes.
Cerberus must have done something to him. Maybe they were using the Reaper indoctrination ability to their own uses - maybe a different version that allowed the soldiers to be commanded. Whatever it was, Thomson didn't like it. It was creepy. And it scared him that Cerberus would do it to their own men. They must be either desperate or crazy. Or both.
He grabbed the communicator from his belt, "This is Thomson. The Falcon is under attack from Cerberus troopers. We need all crew to battle stations so we can defend. Once we have dealt with the Cerberus around us we can advance to the Citadel. Over."
"Roger that," came the reply from one of the crew members, "Message acknowledged."
A siren started wailing and a few moments later the CIC was suddenly full of activity. Most of the crew who were able to fight suddenly wore black armour and carried M-8 Avengers like he did. When he first chose the crew of the Falcon - he chose wisely. He didn't get anyone who had slow reaction times. His crew had been praised a fair amount about how fast they could react and adapt to any situation - an ability they showed in an emergency.
"Ok crew, we need to defend the Falcon. We need to move to the airlock and establish a front line. If there are no soldiers, move to the Citadel and start shooting all Cerberus soldiers in your path. If it's what I think it is - they will not have just attacked us. The Citadel must have been invaded. Has everyone activated their shield generators? If you have not yet done so, do it now."
No one moved. They were well trained.
"Move out," he commanded and the crew moved out of the ruined door. Renswick appeared next to him in full armour.
"What's happening?" Renswick asked, "I heard gunfire and explosions."
"Cerberus are attacking the Citadel. Come with me."
When the crew had moved towards the airlock, Thomson and Renswick followed. There were no signs of gunfire as they approached. The airlock hissed open and the Falcon's crew assembled defensive positions as they slowly moved into the docking bay of the Citadel.
Everything was alight. Smoke was pouring in from every direction. All the shuttles were on fire and corpses of civilians littered the floor. There was no sign of life, from friend or foe.
Luckily they were all wearing breather helmets - even if the Cerberus troopers hadn't killed them, the smoke would have. It was like a thick black blanket that coated the top half of the docking bay.
No sounds were audible from their team. The Falcon's crew slowly made their way across the docking area, their boots not making a sound on the floor. All they could hear were the crackling of flames and the distant sound of explosions and screaming.
There was a Cerberus ship parked next to the Falcon.
"Oh fuck," Renswick said as he looked in the same direction as Thomson.
Thomson smiled, "They're not going to bloody get off the Citadel."
He turned to the nearest crew member, "Assemble a team and go into the Cerberus ship. Blow it up. Make sure the mother fuckers can't get out."
The crew member nodded, "Yes sir. Bob, Steve, Jim, Fred, come with me."
The five crew members split off from the main group and moved towards the airlock seal of the Cerberus ship.
"Right," he told the rest of the crew, "Move through that door and set up defensive positions next to the elevator. Make sure no Cerberus soldiers get through here."
"What will we do?" Renswick asked.
Thomson grinned in his helmet, "You and I will go into the secondary elevator and destroy Cerberus. Deal?"
"Hell yeah. Just like old times."
Renswick reloaded his rifle with a magazine that had red tape fastened around the bottom. Probably armour piercing rounds for the heavy armour worn by Cerberus troopers. Normal rounds could get through their armour, but it was definitely harder.
He turned to Doctor Lament - one of the medics on board the Falcon. She had been on board since he had first been assigned to it by the Alliance. She was very good at healing wounds - she had helped Thomson recover from a bullet wound in his shoulder once.
"Doctor," Thomson began, "If there are any casualties we'll need your help to get them back on their feet. But you also know what to do if Cerberus comes along."
She nodded and loaded her M-3 Predator. She had a large bag on her back which carried her medical equipment - those that could be carried, in any case. Through her breather helmet Thomson could see black hair and multi-coloured eyes. Her eyes were weird, and had scared him for a while, but now he was fine with them. "Renswick and I will go and see what Cerberus are up to. See you soon."
Thomson and Renswick jogged towards the secondary elevator, leaving the rest of the crew to secure the docking area and the start of the Citadel itself. With such a large group - it would attract too much attention if they advanced any further. But a group of two could probably do better in not alerting Cerberus to their presence and penetrate further into their defences.
He activated the lift with his Omni-tool and it slowly rose to take them to the Embassies. If he was the Illusive Man - the leader of Cerberus - and wanted to cause chaos, the Embassies would be his first priority. Maybe kill some councillors to throw the Citadel into disarray. He wasn't yet sure of their intentions but he would find out.
The elevator opened but they didn't move for a moment. Enough time to gun down a Cerberus soldier who was guarding the lift. Then they stepped out into the Embassy. His Omni-tool beeped.
He checked it quickly. It was a message from Emi.
... Is everything alright? I keep hearing gunfire... I hope you're safe... xxx
Thomson replied quickly, telling her that everything was fine... but the Citadel was under attack by Cerberus. He also told her that she could explore the Falcon if she got bored since they had secured it, but she shouldn't exit the ship. And then three x's.
A Guardian approached them. A Guardian was a Cerberus soldier with a heavily armoured shield that could block all sorts of attacks.  It was pretty much indestructible and left the Guardian very, very hard to kill. But not for a biotic.
Thomson pulled the shield from the Guardian's grip with his biotics and then used it to hit the Guardian in the head several times before he stopped moving. He then poked his head around the corner of a wall and noticed at least six Cerberus soldiers guarding a door leading to Presidium Commons - the main shopping area of the Citadel. They had portable defences set up, two turrets that flanked the soldiers and several orange kinetic barriers that they could hide behind, powered by a shield generator to their left.
"Ok," Thomson whispered, "We'll roll out of cover and open fire and then take cover behind that crate."
Renswick nodded, "Nice plan. Simple, but effective."
"On three. One, two, three..."
Thomson and Renswick rolled sideways across the corridor, and began firing their M-8 Avengers towards the soldiers. The enemies immediately ducked into cover as they reached the crate. He raised his rifle and propped it up on the metal box and began firing in short quick bursts, felling three of the six.
Renswick fired a concussive shot that seemed to scramble the circuits of the turrets. The rapid-fire cannons switched off and they pointed downwards as Thomson continued firing.
He raised his hand and used his biotics to throw a Cerberus engineer against the wall, which dissipated the mass effect shield that coated his armour. He then threw the engineer against the shield generator which brought down the kinetic barriers the remaining two soldiers were hiding behind.
Then Renswick shot them both in the head.
"Come on," Thomson said, "I think they were only guards. They had their turrets and barriers secured in place as if they were supposed to hold that position. There must have been more sent after the councillors."
"Or maybe an assassin."
"Or an assassin, yes."
They moved past a C-Sec desk. Several bodies lay sprawled across the counter and the terminals were all crushed.
But there was a small floating holographic sphere. It was orange in colour and was not moving other than slight pixel flickers across its surface. It seemed to be some sort of combat drone.
"Please note," said the drone, "Alliance soldiers are approaching your position. All Cerberus troopers are dead."
"Oh thank god..." came a female voice from behind the desk. There was a slight movement before a woman stood up, face white with fear. She had long brown hair and was wearing the uniform of a nurse from the hospital, "I'm so happy you're here..."
"Who are you?" Renswick asked, keeping his gun aimed at the floor.
"My name's Aquila Felis I'm a nurse... I came to the Embassy to give a councillor his appointment details... we were short staffed... then Cerberus came in and I hid and had Butterfly protect me."
"Butterfly?" Thomson questioned curiously.
"Butterfly is my drone," she explained, "Oh my god those poor people..."
"We're here to stop the people who did this," Thomson explained to her, "If you go to the elevator and go down to the docking bay then you can meet up with the crew of our ship. You can get on board and you'll be safe."
She nodded, "Thank you..."
"Don't mention it. Since you're a nurse we might need your help to try and help the survivors - if there are any - but the crew will protect you. The starship is called the SF-2 Falcon. It's a bit hard to miss."
Aquila half-ran towards the lift with the small combat drone trailing in the air behind her.
"At least that's one survivor," Renswick pointed out.
"Yes. The first we've seen. We need to continue. To make sure the councillors are alright. If everything is fine there we need to go back to the crew and try and retake the Citadel. We don't know how many Cerberus soldiers there are so we need to take care. Make sure they don't try and ambush us. As far as I'm aware they can't and don't know we're here, but it's better to be safe than sorry. We're not exactly going silently but it might be a good idea to start."
Renswick opened the door that led into the main part of the Embassy. There was another C-Sec terminal, but this one was on fire. Bodies covered the floor and they had a hard job trying to step between them as they moved as silently as possible towards a staircase to the rear of the room. There was no sign of Cerberus. They had probably moved on after shooting everyone. They didn't even leave any human survivors - whatever their reason for being in the Citadel, it must have been serious.
They reached the stairs and they slowly began moving upwards, aiming down the sights on their M-8 Avengers to make sure that there were no Cerberus troopers lurking.
"This should be it," Thomson whispered as they reached the top of the stairs and turned towards a grey door, "If I were in the council I'd probably hide here. It's easy to defend."
"Then we should open the door. But if they have weapons we should go in unarmed - just to make sure they won't shoot us on sight," Renswick noted.
"Good idea," Thomson responded, fastening his rifle on to his back. There was a slight click as it folded in on itself slightly to aid mobility. Renswick also removed his rifle from his hands.
Renswick was the one who pressed the circular hologram in the centre of the door to open it. It whirred open and they stepped inside, hands raised to show that they were unarmed - if the councillors were where Thomson thought they'd be. In the easiest to defend room in the Embassy - Councillor Udina's office. Worth a try.
The room had a table that was turned over. It was dotted with holes from heavy rifles - Cerberus. But there were slight movements in the room.
"We're here to help," Renswick said, "We're from the SF-2 Falcon, an Alliance Frigate."
"We spoke to you the other day about Earth," Thomson added.
Two heads poked around either side of the table. One Asari, the other Turian. The councillors.
"Good," said the Turian councillor, "We're glad you're here. Cerberus have an assassin on the loose that is trying to kill the Salarian councillor. We need to get out of here."
"We can't escort you and go after the councillor at the same time," Renswick pointed out.
"We've arranged escort. Don't worry. Just make sure you're in time to save the councillor."
"We'll do our best," Thomson said, "Have you seen any other survivors?"
Councillor Udina, who had been stood behind the door with his pistol raised, shook his head, "None. You're the first. Just make sure you... stop Cerberus. Ok?"
"Will do," Renswick replied, "Let's go."
Thomson nodded then turned away from the door, walking back to the staircase. The door closed behind them and sealed shut. A woman wearing dark blue armour was walking up the stairs towards them.
"Excuse me," Thomson said to her, "Have you seen the Salarian councillor?"
She shook her head, "No, sorry. I'm just here to escort the councillors to safety. Try looking around a little bit - the councillor has a cloaking device. Just watch for the haze."
"Thanks. Just make sure they're safe. It would be a disaster if they died."
"It would. Good luck with trying to rescue the Salarian. Just watch out for the mechs."
"Thanks but uh... what mechs?"
"The Atlas mechs Cerberus have? There are a few patrolling downstairs. Don't worry though. Keep them at long range and you should be fine. Oh and remember to take cover as soon as you see it turning towards you."
"I'll try and keep that in mind," Thomson responded, and continued walking down the stairs.
When the woman was out of earshot, Renswick said, "I think I know her."
"Who was it?"
"I think her name was Ashley Williams. Rather famous if it's the same person I'm thinking about. She was appointed as a Spectre a few days ago."
Spectres were people chosen by the council for exceptional service. It granted them lots of control and they were in a position where they were practically above the law. Williams - whoever she was - must have done something extremely good for the council to appoint her like that.
"We need to keep an eye out for those mechs," Thomson pointed out, "They're deadly by themselves - and if there's more than one..."
"We'll beat them. We have to," assured Renswick, "Let's go."
They sprinted down the stairs and into Presidium Commons. The normally busy shopping area of the Citadel had a floor full of bodies. A cloud of smoke drifted up from a fire on the edge of a balcony and the terminals were all damaged, little sparks flickering across the damaged holograms and creating small black marks on the floor.
It was sad seeing so many people - so many lives - just vanquished. Several loud bumps were audible. They slowly got louder as they continued across Presidium Commons.
A giant mech came into view. It was white with an orange glass panel on the front. It was the thing making the loud bumping noises - one with every step. Behind the glass Thomson could see a single Cerberus soldier.
"Get into cover!" yelled Thomson as the mech opened fire. He dived behind a pillar that held up a ruined shop as rounds tore up the floor where he had been stood only a moment before. There were no individual shots - the mech was firing so fast that its arm-cannon was just a whir.
Thomson shot the mech several times with his rifle but it didn't even stagger and instead started shooting at the pillar that practically came apart. But he had already slid across to a desk and sustained his fire whilst Renswick crept around the side.
There was an explosion that instantly destroyed his shields - some sort of rocket fired by the mech. He immediately ducked into cover and waited for his shield generator to activate again. It took several moments - moments which the Atlas mech took to get closer to him in an attempt to flank - but at least he was fully protected once more.
Renswick threw a grenade which staggered the mech once it detonated but it still continued its advancing. Thomson tried to knock it back with a biotic shockwave but it had no effect, even though he made it as powerful as possible. The blue energy just dissipated into the air after going straight through the mech and out of the other side - with no effect.
Damn it.
Rounds from the mech flickered across the surface of his shield as it flanked him. He covered himself with a quick burst of fire from his M-8 to the orange glass dome that covered the torso of the mech - and housed the soldier within.
Thomson threw a biotic warp next - which seemed to have more effect. The mech staggered slightly and there were several large dints in its armour. There was a slight trail of blue energy originating from the dints as the metal started to be ripped apart.
He threw one again, staggering it further. Renswick opened fire and rounds flashed across the dome of the mech, driving it further backwards with the armour piercing rounds.
Then the glass fell out of place and hit the floor. Thomson pulled the Cerberus mech-pilot from his seat using his biotics whilst Renswick shot him in the head. The mech collapsed.
Renswick reloaded and so did Thomson. They split up - Thomson going one side of the pillars and Renswick going the other.
Three more Atlas mechs were in the corridor adjoining to the one they had just come from.
"How are we going to get past that lot?" Renswick asked, "One of them was bad enough."
Thomson turned to the disabled mech, "Hm... I have one idea..."