Saturday, 28 December 2013

Captive - Part 2

Mia grabbed his wrist and twisted it, forcing his arm behind her back. She pushed him against the wall, and heard a cracking noise from his bony Turian head. There was a howl of pain, but she ignored it, grabbing her shotgun's handle and pulling it away from his armour. It folded to its full length in her hands.
"You need a refund," she said, and shot him in the head.
She took his security card from his belt and applied it to the door's locking mechanism. The door hissed open and slid to the side.
Mia stepped out into the corridor, holding her shotgun effortlessly in her hands.
She shot a guard, the rounds tearing through his shields and peppering his chest full of holes. There was a splash of blood and he fell to the floor.
She stole his shield generator and fastened it to her environment suit. Mia also took some thermal clips so she was able to reload her shotgun, a vicious looking serrated knife and the guard's Omni-tool.
She had all equipment apart from her suit permanently taken away from her on the first day, so having them back was a relief. She was armed now. And she was dangerous. She'd either escape from the base or die trying.
Mia ran the length of a corridor and navigated her way towards the security room. She'd have to deactivate all the security before she escaped; the alarm could go off at any moment, and she wasn't going to take any chances.
She flattened herself against a wall, after hearing the sound of two people talking.
"Hey Travis, there's a shipment of red sand coming in today. We can get high off our heads and have some fun in the process! What do you think?"
"Sounds good, mate. Sounds good. I just have to go and check on the security of Block B. I'll be back in a moment."
There was the sound of footsteps moving towards her, before a guard wearing armour came into view. His eyes widened beneath his open-face helmet upon seeing her with Nar'Mia, but he didn't have time to signal his friend. She jabbed the knife into his jugular. He made a gurgling noise and she lowered him to the floor, pulling the knife out of his neck. There was a wet noise and her blade came out stained crimson. A pool of blood began forming around the guard's body, as she moved around the corner and towards the second.
She returned the knife to her belt as she walked up to the remaining guard with her shotgun hidden behind her back.
"Hey, Mia," said the guard, "What is he having you do now, you stupid bitch?"
She swallowed, as if she was nervous, "He's wanting me to go to the security control room. He has something he wants me to pick up."
The guard stepped out of her way and tapped on the security panel, opening the door in front of her. It unlocked by twisting in a large circle and hissing open. She took a step towards the door.
"Mia," said the guard, "Wait."
This time she did actually swallow. The guard had a Harrier rifle, which was the most popular gun used by Cerberus soldiers. It was an automatic variant on the Mattock, and did more damage round for round. She'd be dead before she could even turn, if the guard realised she had her shotgun on her. She couldn't shoot him, either. By the time she had pulled her shotgun so it was in front of her, he'd have been able to fire an entire magazine.
The guard moved so he was stood directly in front of her. She looked down at the ground.
He placed his hands on her hips and began checking the pockets of her suit for suspicious objects, she guessed, though his hands were in the wrong place.
"My pockets are around my stomach," she told him, "But don't worry, I'm not carrying anything."
She attached her shotgun to the back of her suit, and it folded up with a small beeping sound. She had to get her hands free so she could use her knife more effectively, instead of holding her shotgun behind her back. The guard was too transfixed with her hips to hear the noise, however.
Mia took a step forward into the guard, drawing her knife out of her belt in one fluid motion and sinking it into his gut.
The guard cried out, so she clamped her hand over his mouth and lowered him so he was sat against the wall, almost like he was asleep. She hit him in the head, once, with her fist. He slumped back against the wall, unconscious. He wasn't going to live very long with a wound like that, anyway. She drew her knife out of his stomach.
She walked through the door into the security room, drawing her shotgun again.
There were another three guards next to the control panel, what she needed to disable the alarms.
Mia walked in and shot each of them in turn, delivering a round to their chests one after the other. She swapped her thermal clips, then. She didn't want to run out of ammunition in the middle of a fight, after all.
Mia almost ran to the security terminal and activated it, opening up an orange holographic screen where the controls were. She stole the Omni-tool module from one of the people she had just killed, and fitted it on to her arm, pushing the button on the side. Her arm lit up with an orange glow around it.
She opened up the terminal control programme and tapped away at the small screen that had appeared on her arm. Moments later the terminal deactivated, with all the alarms shut off in the base. All lockdown procedures were also gotten rid of, as she couldn't take any chances. She shot the terminal with her shotgun to prevent anyone reactivating any of the systems.
Mia quickly checked the other programmes that the Omni-tool had. It had an Incineration programme. That'd come in handy. The ability to create unstable materials that would set anything alight upon impact... very handy indeed.
She loaded up the Incinerate ready for use, so with a push of a button she could unleash the devastating attack.
There was a door at the far side of the room which she knew would lead to the guards' mess hall. She had spent a long time in slavery and had memorised every possible exit route. And, by her thinking, the timing meant that there would be no one there. It was before the time that they had their evening meal, and after lunch.
She strode to the door and opened it by pushing the green hologram in the centre. It hissed open and she stepped into the mess hall, aiming down the small sight on her shotgun to see if anyone was there.
There wasn't. Not a single guard. She moved around the outside of the hall so she wasn't slowed by the many chairs and tables that would have blocked her escape.
Mia went through the door on the other side of the mess hall. There was a guard stationed by a security terminal next to her, and he looked to be attempting to try and get the systems working again - to no avail. She had permanently disabled the terminals.
He turned around when he heard her footsteps on the hard floor, but he wasn't quick enough to stop her shooting him in the chest.
She would only have to go through this corridor and there was an emergency exit which led to the whiteness of Noveria. It'd be hard going, but possible. Especially since the landing pad wasn't very far away.
The corridor, however, was full of guards.
"Mia," one said, "What are you doing with a shotgun? Put it down you suit rat."
She shot him in the chest when he drew near, then used his body to absorb several rounds fired from another guard carrying a Harrier.
Mia fired Nar'Mia again, taking out the guard with the rifle. She sank her knife into the stomach of a second who had ran towards her with a pistol, then used Incinerate to deal with the last.
She stepped over the smouldering body of the dead guard and opened the airlock leading to the snowy wilderness.
The first thing she realised was that it was cold. So cold, in fact, the internal heat regulators inside her suit couldn't keep up. She could feel the cold biting her skin, but still she stepped out.
With her first step, she was buried up to her knee in the cold snow. Her second was similarly enveloped. She had to push her muscles in her legs to their limit to take steps through the snow.
"Keelah," she hissed as the muscles in her thighs began to burn, after so little steps. But she still kept putting pressure on them, driving them to take her further through the cold.
She reached a steep incline and slipped on something beneath her feet, which was covered by the snow. She fell and rolled several times before reaching the bottom.
Snow was sticking to the visor of her helmet and making it hard to see. She struggled to her feet, wiping the glass clean with the back of her hand. But it only made things worse, wiping more snow on to it instead. She could feel the snow hitting her environment suit in an intense blizzard, making it hard to walk, hard to see, and all she could hear was wind rushing past her helmet.
She was starting to get seriously cold. Her environment suit was not built to survive in areas such as Noveria. The thermal systems were working at full capacity, and she could feel the chill against her skin.
She knew she wouldn't make it to the landing pad. It was too far. She had not expected the environment to be so hostile.
There must have been a dip in the ground full of snow, because her legs began sinking even further. Mia tried to climb back out, her feet scrambling on the surface of the snowdrift, which was slowly giving way. She sank into the snow up to her chest, and struggled to get free.
But the snow was absolute, and her attempts just made her sink further, like quicksand. She was out of breath, and laid shivering in the cold.
She pushed her hand against the snow and it compacted, forming a hard ledge. She pushed her hand firmly into it, forming a hold where she could pull the top half of her body on to the surface of the snowdrift. Her feet scrambled against the solid wall she had created, and failed to gain purchase for several moments until she managed to get her knees on top of the snow drift and slid up.
Mia managed to cross the snow drift and grasped on to a grey rock before her feet sank back down. She pulled herself up on to it, being careful not to rip her suit on its jagged edges.
A loud gunshot filled the air and a searing pain travelled through her upper leg, and hot liquid spilled over her thigh. She cried out in agony and hit the ground, rolling off the edge of the rock and hitting more snow further down the incline.
She curled up and looked at the wound in her suit. A bullet wound caused by a sniper rifle, not a very powerful one by the look of it. It caused a small hole, nowhere near her arteries. It was a wound meant to maim, not kill. The marksman probably used a Viper, by the sound of the shot. It was definitely not as powerful as the Widow, as that would have probably severed her leg.
The round was still inside of her muscle. It bled, staining the snow a crimson colour. She tried to get to her feet, but her leg gave way as soon as she put her weight on it and she whined in pain.
"Bosh'tet," she hissed as she hit the floor again.
She reached into one of her pockets and took out her suit repair kit - a small capsule full of an adhesive gel to seal up the hole so she wouldn't get a disease. She applied it quickly, covering up the gunshot wound in her suit. She had no medigel to apply to her actual injury, but at least she wouldn't die from illness.
She heard calling from behind her. Judging by the sniper and the calling, the remaining guards in the base knew about her escape and were out to capture her again.
Mia definitely didn't want that.
She stood up on one leg and used her shotgun as a crutch, using it to support her weight whilst she kept her wounded leg off the ground.
Mia took several steps, which were more like hops, before she slipped and fell again. She groaned in pain and cradled her leg, cursing the sniper and calling him every name under the sun.
She'd have a hard time getting to the landing pad now. That is, if she actually managed to.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Marriage - Part 1

Emi smiled at Thomson as she was sat crossed legged on the floor of their quarters, sorting through wedding invitations.
"... Is that everyone?" she asked, having previously read out the names of the people who they had agreed on.
"Yes, I think so," Thomson said, "Though remember I still need to see your mother and father."
She nodded, "... That's tomorrow... We can't go now..."
"True, but I'm just reminding you. When's your next appointment?"
"... The day after tomorrow. I think..."
"Did it go alright?"
She nodded again, "... I cried, but I guess..."
"What did you cry about?"
"... Just my life I guess..."
"Aren't you happy?"
"... It's not that... It's just my childhood..."
He sat next to her and cuddled her, "I know your childhood wasn't the best. But maybe the rest of your life will make up for it?"
She took the glass of her helmet away and kissed him. He kissed her back.
"... Maybe..." she said. He kissed her again, "... Well, probably..." Another kiss, "... Ok, definitely..."
Thomson grinned at her, "It's amazing how your answer changed."
"... No... It's amazing how my life has changed... Thanks to you..."
They kissed again.

The SF-2 docked with a ship in the Migrant Fleet. The one that Emi pointed to and said, "... That one..."
He took her word for it, and had to state a password given to him which allowed him free access. The Quarians left him through and engaged their docking procedures. There had been a moment, when his ship had been intercepted by several fighters, as was the primary security protocols of the Flotilla, that he had worried it wasn't the best thing to do. But they let him through and engaged the docking mechanism.
Emi led him through the corridors and passageways. It seemed a lifetime since he had been aboard. He recognised the layout of the ship. It was the one he had served on when he had helped the Admiralty Board deal with some rogue Geth. He, however, had forgotten his way.
Emi had not. She practically pulled him through the ship, past the Quarian trading floor where he got several looks from Quarians who, despite their suits, managed to convey a sense of curiosity about him.
She took him down a corridor to what appeared to be a living area, then lifted a blanket and ducked underneath it. He followed her, and was greeted by two Quarians.
"... Mother, Father..." said Emi, "... This is Thomson..."
"Hello Lieutenant," her Father said to him.
"It's good to meet you at last," her Mother added, "Emi talks about you all the time. Whenever we call it's all "Thomson did this, Thomson did that..."."
"I'm not Lieutenant anymore. I resigned. I kept putting Emi in danger so I'm no longer part of the Alliance."
"Yes," said her Father, "We heard about the 'dangers'. We're not happy with it. At all. She was shot. Shot! Do you know how dangerous that is for a Quarian?"
"Yes," Thomson responded, "I do. I was there. I took her to the Normandy's medical bay. I know how serious it was. I regret that she was ever put in that position. That's the main reason I quit."
"... We're here to invite you to our wedding..." Emi said, "... If you want to come."
"Of course we want to come," said her Mother, "We'll be there to support you and your family. It's a big day for you both."
Her Father grumbled, "I never understood the human concept of marriage."
"I guess it's to show you love someone," Thomson responded, "And I love Emi very, very much."
"... So you'll be there?" Emi asked, "... Even if he isn't one of our race? He's what I've always wanted..."
"We'll be there," promised her Mother, then she sighed sadly, "It was only a few years ago since you were here and reading that bosh'tet of a book of yours. Now you're all grown up with children and you'll get married..."
"... I don't think I'm grown up," Emi said.
"She really isn't," added Thomson, "She watches television programmes for children on the extranet."
"... I like that... Colourful, cute, fluffy... Tree?"
"Tree frog. It's a tree frog, not just a tree," said Thomson.
"... I like it. It's cute... It has big red eyes..."
Her Father suddenly spoke, "If you want to stay the night, you can. It'll be a long way back to the Citadel."
Thomson shook his head, "I'd like to but we can't. Emi has an appointment to keep tomorrow and we'll have to get up early. The kids are waiting back in the ship entertained by the Tree Frog. We should get back. It's been nice to meet you, and I'll see you both at the wedding, I guess."

Emi dreamed. Keelah, she dreamed. Ever since her mind had been touched by the Reapers, she had dreamed.
Less like dreams, more like visions, really. She always always fully conscious, but she saw flashing red images in her mind. Some fast, some slow. All very hard to concentrate on. The more she wanted to find out what the images contained, the more they eluded her.
She made out vast cities, images of people belonging to a race she didn't recognise, technology she couldn't comprehend, but a reoccurring vision was that of a stone pillar. . A pillar with ruins around it. The difference between this vision and all the others, was the fact that it was the only one she ever saw as moving images. The only one she ever saw in detail.
On the pillar, there were letters carved into the stone in a language she hadn't seen before, but as the vision took her closer, they translated in her mind. "Walk among these works and know our greatness."
On the other side, someone had written "Monsters from the id", in a way which looked less like carvings and more like crude scratches.
She was about to question what it all meant when she woke up.
"Emi, are you ok?" Thomson asked from beside her, his arms wrapped around her waist, "You were breathing very heavily and you were whispering in your sleep."
"... I'm fine... What was I whispering?"
"You said "Help me". Did you have a bad dream?"
"... I... I... I..." the dream was gone from her mind, "... Can't remember."
"You should tell your psychologist about this. Maybe it's linked. Are you sure you're fine?"
She nodded, "... I think so..."
He cuddled her and she cuddled him back. They kissed, then she fell asleep again in his arms.

Emi went to her psychologist appointment, whilst Thomson went shopping for some food to keep on the SF-2. They were running low on cereal, Quarian cereal that is. He took his children to the Predisium, to tell him which type they normally bought. Emi was in charge of their food, and he was in charge of everything else. He refused to let Emi do much.
"Is this it?" Thomson asked them, "High fibre flakes for Quarians? Wouldn't you rather have... Migrant Fleet Munches? Seriously, they need better names."
"Get us the flakes Daddy!" they said.
He put their chosen cereal into the trolley and was about to pay when a large Geth unit crossed in front of him.
Unlike normal Geth, this one was red in colour and must have been about eight feet tall. A Juggernaut, if he wasn't mistaken.
"Thomson-Lieutenant," said the Geth, "It is good to see you again."
"We've met before? Wher- Oh. It's you."
Revenge nodded, "I got an upgrade. This Juggernaut had no unit inside of it so I decided to use it for myself. But we have something that needs to be discussed. Urgently."
Thomson shook his head, "I quit. I don't do anything dangerous anymore. If you want I can give you the names of some good Alliance officers. I'm sorry, Revenge. Things have changed. I exist to protect my family and make sure they're alright."
"Actually, I think once I've explained, you'll ask to join me. In fact, I'm sure you will."
"I'll pay for the cereal then we'll talk. But I'm not getting shipped to some random planet trying to sort anything. If you want something buying for you, or don't know how to work a cash machine, I'll be happy to help."

He paid for the cereal then sat down at a table with Revenge. His large frame looked uncomfortable in the relatively small silver chair. The children were playing with each other less than a metre away from the table. It seemed they were trying to assemble some sort of machinery - the Quarian part of them clearly coming to light.
"So, what's happening?" Thomson asked, "Are you ok?"
Revenge nodded, "My systems are fully functional, if that's what you mean. My problem lies elsewhere."
"So what's the problem?"
"As you know, Emi was indoctrinated. She fought the Reapers off but they must have left an imprint on her mind. About the existence of the universe, from the first atom up to the present day. But, specifically about an extinct race that lived about a hundred million years ago. A spacefaring race which had no name.
Now this is the problem. We have evidence to suggest that the race isn't extinct. That they've survived in the galactic centre for an extraordinary amount of time in a form of stasis. The thing is, I think they're going to attack Emi. To try and prevent her from telling people about them. Their existence is supposed to be a secret."
"An imprint on her mind... could it have some effect on her dreams? She was saying "help me" in her sleep last night, but she seemed fine when she woke up."
"We had put parameters in place to prevent things like this from happening, but it seems the damage to our network at the time corrupted the data. Emi's mind will have been exposed to things she cannot comprehend, or remember. So she is right, she was fine when she woke up. But every time she goes to sleep her mind will be tormented by images of the past. Of us, the Protheans, the Leviathans and this spacefaring race."
"Is there any way I can help her?"
"I told you that you would ask to join. We want you to go to the planet Junthor in the Armstrong Nebula, Gagarin system. Near the equator there are ruins of the race - mainly wind hollowed husks of arcologies and several large structures. In the centre there is a column, a pillar-like construction bearing some letterings.
Although it took centuries for Asari linguists to decipher it, we knew about it before. It says, "Walk among these works and know our greatness", and "Monsters from the id". I want you to go to the planet, nothing more, and search the ruins for information about the race. Although Asari have visited Junthor many times, I will accompany you and see if I am able to make more sense of it than they have. Right now, though, I recommend you go and find your fiancée. I have a feeling that she is not safe. I have arranged for a team to meet us there."
"What kind of team?"
"A good one."
"I'll see you on the Falcon," Thomson said, and ran towards Emi's psychologist meeting.