Monday, 31 March 2014

Monsters - Part 3

The SF-2 Falcon followed rank behind the SSV Naseby as it too left Junthor.
"Do you want your shuttle to be collected?" Keating asked Stealth.
The thief shrugged, "I don't mind. It wasn't mine, anyway. I stole it from Omega."
"I'll take that as a no, then," she responded, "Thomson, why do you use the Avenger? You do know it's a piece of crap, right?"
"I wish people would stop telling me that," Thomson sighed, "It works for me. I like it."
"I personally use the M-76 Revenant. Slightly heavier, but my god does it shred everything you shoot at."
There was an explosion which rocked the cargo hold.

The small, silent vessel fired its cannon again, destroying the second engine of the SSV Naseby. It couldn't move. It just began drifting through space.
It fired its main gun - a weapon stolen from a dead Reaper. A red beam of energy hit the rear of the frigate and tore through its hull. There was a large explosion - the largest yet - as the element zero drive core exploded in a mass of sparks and fire, which quickly burned in the oxygen from the nearly-destroyed ship before it extinguished in the vacuum of space.
Now it really couldn't move.
The vessel activated its boarding hooks and metal projectiles ripped through the hull of the Naseby, followed moments later by a thick steel rope which immediately pulled tight, securing the vessels together.
Kinetic barriers on a ship were all very good, but they were built to withstand fast moving projectiles. Not relatively slow moving grappling hooks.
The ships were pulled together. The attacking vessel extended its airlock and secured a connection between the two.
Then the attack began.

Luckily, the cargo hold had its own sealed doors. So when the drive core exploded and the hull was punctured, they were safe at the bottom of the ship with plenty of air.
Thomson, Keating and Stealth were still wearing suitable helmets from the mission - Thomson and Keating with their N7 breather helmets and Stealth with his unique combat helmet. They would be fine for oxygen, and the Quarians had their helmets secured so they too wouldn't be affected by a lack of air.
"Fuck," Keating sighed and grabbed her rifle from the weapon rack. A wailing alarm began sounding. Thomson grabbed his M-8 Avenger rifle from his back, and Stealth and Mia drew their pistol and shotgun respectively.
"If they think they're taking this ship," Keating growled, "They've made a mistake. A big one."
Her hand went to the side of her helmet, "Report," she ordered the pilot, "Where are they?"
The reply from the pilot was audible, but Thomson couldn't hear it clearly.
"They're on the crew deck," Keating said finally, "Let's go."
Thomson contacted the Falcon, "Try and get them away from the ship," he told the pilot of the SF-2, "Try shooting them or something. Just get them away."
Stealth spoke up, "I think one of us should stay here. I mean, when the doors are sealed no one can get through. Since they're after Emi'Derik, it'd make sense for one of us to stay here and protect her just in case they have something like a rocket launcher to take down the door."
"I'll stay," Mia said, "You lot are better at fighting."
Keating nodded, "Right. Let's go and kill some aliens."

They took the elevator to the crew deck. The crew of the SSV Naseby was in disarray - they were stationed outside all the doors with their weapons raised. They were nearly shot when they reached the invaded deck.
"We need to spread out," said Keating, via the radios in their helmets so they could speak in the vacuum that was now the crew deck.
It seemed that the artificial gravity systems had turned off on this level of the ship, so they had to make their way around by pushing themselves off of the walls.
Thomson made his way through the medical bay, whilst Keating moved through the main battery and the mess hall, and Stealth came through Keating's office.
The first sign of the attack came by the litter of bodies which floated through the airless space, blood forming droplets which never hit the floor. Thomson found two in the medical bay. Keating found four in the mess hall, and Stealth found one next to the exit of Keating's office.
"They're here," Thomson said to the others, "There are some corpses that have been killed by some mass accelerator firearms. High calibre."
"Same here," said Stealth, "I'm moving towards the observation decks."
Keating never heard the gunshot. She was only aware of her shield flickering as the round struck her kinetic barriers. She turned and fired in the direction it had come from, then when more rounds were returned she ducked behind the wall separating the corridor from the mess hall.
More gunshots tore up the wall around her. She waited for her shields to regenerate before stepping out and firing again. Her attacker was thrown back and drifted across the corridor, blue blood erupting from its chest.
The alien had two legs and three arms - its head was egg shaped and it had two glowing white eyes. Its mouth ran the entire width of its head and she could see many sharp teeth. Its weapon was unlike anything she'd ever seen, having four firing chambers and four thermal clip modules. There was a hook on the side where both sides connected - as if the weapon could be used as two separate ones as well as one large one. It was an odd design.
She crossed to another section of the wall which would provide her with cover. She saw Stealth moving and drawing his sword across the throat of one of the creatures as she neared the exit of the mess hall.
Another one of the creatures came into her view. She quickly tapped the trigger on the Revenant and its body shredded. There was gunfire from Thomson's side of the ship, and she saw an alien go hurtling backwards whilst being surrounded by a wave of biotic energy.
Another four creatures in the mess hall. She fired at each, but they pushed themselves behind the tables and fired from behind cover.
Her shields were taken out by the first round - instantly - which caught her by surprise. The next three hit her armour and she growled in pain as one hit her in the shoulder. A plume of blood scattered into the air.
Keating's hand went to her shoulder and put pressure on the wound. She applied medigel quickly, and sighed as the pain went away. She could feel it, still, like a dull throbbing sensation in her arm. But most of the pain was gone, at least.
She felt the energy build up in her arms and her palms began glowing blue. She pushed her hand forwards and her biotics pushed over the table, making it fly backwards into a wall. There were no signs of life after that. Her hand was tingling for a moment before the energy dissipated.
"Thomson, Keating: Help!" Stealth's voice shouted through the radio.
She reacted as fast as she could - pushing herself away from the wall as hard as she could with her non-injured arm. The zero gravity meant that she drifted towards Stealth's previous location with relative speed, and she saw Thomson do likewise.
"Are you ok?" Thomson asked, "You look hurt."
"It's just a flesh wound," Keating said with a nod, "I'll be fine. We need to get him."
They propelled themselves down the corridor. Corpses of the crew members littered the hall and made their journey both disgusting and slow. Keating watched as droplets of blood which hung in the vacuum of the corridor splashed on her armour, staining it a dark crimson colour in several places.
More splashes of blood. Gunshot rounds tearing through the corpses as the creatures tried to shoot at them. Her shields, which had regenerated, immediately started taking hits.
Thomson returned fire with his rifle and she did likewise. However, most of the rounds she fired collided with the dead bodies. Only few managed to make their way to the end of the corridor. The hall was thick with blood.
Keating saw a quick flash of Stealth's form as he struggled against the aliens which were carrying him towards the airlock. She struggled to get past the lifeless crew members, and got to only a few metres away when Stealth was lost from view.
They managed to gun down another seven creatures before the attacking ship pulled away. Their airlocks were separated and there were metallic thuds as the grappling hooks retracted, leaving gaping holes in the Naseby's hull.
"Damage report," Keating ordered the pilot, "How many dead?"
"A hundred, ma'am. Only the engineers are still alive back on the Engineering deck. That and the two Quarians in the cargo hold."
"Can you get us out of here?" Keating asked.
The pilot sighed, "I'm afraid not. They've damaged the drive core and the engines are offline. We can't even fire our weapons."
"Ok," she said to Thomson, "Get your ship here ASAP. We need to chase them down. We're not letting them take Stealth. Bastards."
Thomson pushed his finger against the side of his helmet, "This is Thomson. The ship has left. We'll meet you next to the cargo ramp."
"Negative. The ship has not left. In fact, it's-"
There was a bright red flash and the piece of the ship in front of them suddenly vanished. They could see space. Bright stars and twisting galaxies. Junthor sat behind them, emitting a green and silver glow.
"Shit," Keating growled, "They've torn the ship in half."
"Is the cargo hold alright?" Thomson asked, "Will it be damaged?"
She shook her head, "We're currently above the engineering deck. Nothing else is beneath that."
"Good," Thomson replied, then contacted the Falcon, "Distract the ship whilst we get to the cargo hold."
"Roger that," came the reply.

The SF-2 began firing again, using every weapon it had at its disposal. The SSV Naseby was practically sliced in half and the edges were glowing orange with molten metal created by the energy from the beam. Debris was slowly drifting away from the remains of the ship.
The shots from the Falcon did nothing. Nothing at all. The unknown ship's kinetic barriers must have protected if from all their attacks.
Instead, the SF-2 Falcon moved in place next to the cargo ramp, twisting around at the last moment and lowering its own so Thomson and the group could get on board.
The ship fired again.

Thomson and Keating dived into the cargo hold as there was a massive explosion behind them. The doors sealed just in time, though some flames did come through and singe their armours.
Mia looked at them, "Where's Stealth?"
"They've taken him. They're tearing the ship apart. Fuckers. They'll pay for this."
"They won't want to kill Emi," Thomson said, "They won't hit the cargo hold."
"Not in an area where she is, at least..." Mia sighed, "We should probably get into a group so they can't target us without hitting her."
The team moved together.
"We're in position," said the pilot of the Falcon, "Awaiting your arrival."
"Ok, the SF-2 is in place. We can leave."
The cargo hold began shaking.
"They've cut you off. The cargo hold is drifting. We'll try and keep up," said the pilot of the SF-2, "But it seems they're following you."
"Shit. They'll take Emi," said Thomson. Emi cuddled up to him.
"... Don't let them take me... please don't..."
"I won't," he replied, "And neither will Keating or Mia."
There was a flash of red light, which threw them across the floor of the cargo hold. Thomson held Emi to cushion her impact. However the crushing collision with the wall drove the air from his lungs.
A second later, both Keating and Mia had a similar impact with the side of the wall.
Part of the cargo hold had been torn away - revealing the inky blackness of space. The SF-2 was visible through the gap, though it seemed very, very far away.
"Ok," Keating said, "We need to get out of here."
Another red beam carved through the remainders of the cargo hold, slicing through another part of the wall like a hot knife through butter, though it was far enough away from them so they could only feel the heat of the weapon.
"We have to jump," said Keating, "Tell the SF-2 to get as close as possible. There's no other way."
"We could wait," Mia suggested, "We've already established they won't kill Emi."
"Then they'll just board what is left of my ship, kill us and take Emi. Then it'll be game over," Keating growled, "Fuck. I hate this. The Naseby is dead, because of those bastards. Stealth has been captured, and now we're unable to do anything which has a hundred percent success chance."
"We should jump. There is no other way," agreed Thomson, "We can't just sit here."
"... I don't want to jump..." said Emi, "... What if I miss, and fall down...?"
"It's a weightless environment," explained, Keating, "There is no down."
"I'll look after you, Emi," Thomson said, cuddling her, "I'll jump with you. We just have to get out."
"I'll go first," said Mia, "I really want to get out of here."
Keating nodded, "Go on. Thomson, Emi, you go after."
Mia took a few steps backwards. Keating could hear her breathing through the radio - short and ragged, as if she was afraid. Mia checked her shotgun was secured on her back, then sprinted forward. At the last second, she jumped. Her arms and legs flailed as she entered the emptiness of space but she landed in the Falcon's airlock, helped in by two of the crew.
"I'm on board," said Mia, "They're ready for Thomson and Emi."
Another beam tore another section of the wall away. One a second later sent the cargo hold spinning. Emi was taken completely by surprise, falling down through the missing wall. Thomson fell after her, purposely moving himself so he caught her.
A last minute change of direction from yet another beam corrected the course of the remainders of the ship. Thomson bumped his leg on part of the wall and sent them spinning through space for a second, before he landed on his back inside the SF-2, with Emi on top of him.
Keating regained her balance from the spinning cargo hold and began running towards the gap between the SF-2 and the disintegrating Naseby.
There was a bright flash in front of her and she felt searing pain through her armour as heat tore through the floor and walls right in front of her. She jumped blindly through the fire, leaving the cargo hold and she began drifting through space.
She could hear her own breathing. Nothing else. She looked towards the airlock of the SF-2 Falcon, which was open to greet her. She could see Thomson and Emi recovering from inside and some of the crew ready to help her.
Keating wasn't going to make it. She knew she wasn't. The beam had knocked her jump off balance, so the angle was completely wrong. She began to panic, her heart beating faster and faster as she thought about the possibility of being lost in the empty blackness forever. She floated underneath the airlock. Her hands tried to grasp the edge of the SF-2, but her momentum carried her forward.
Her hand slipped away, leaving her clutching at nothing.


Well, here's some of my attempts to create a biotic energy kind of feel using GIMP.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Monsters - Part 2

Mia activated her Omni-tool and began scanning the area.
"Don't try it," said Stealth, "The radiation from the chlorine blocks all the signals and the metal screws it up too. It's fine on a small area... but generally, you couldn't detect a Reaper in this."
"I am pretty sure a Reaper in close proximity would be apparent," pointed out Revenge.
"Maybe. But your Omni-tool couldn't detect it."
"I'm going to wait here," said Thomson, "I don't think Emi will want to be in that kind of situation. She was indoctrinated, and I don't think she is up to it. I'll wait here with her."
"She's fine now, right?" Keating questioned.
Emi nodded, "... I am... But not really feeling well... I don't want to be around when you shoot things..."
Keating nodded, "Ok. Let's go."

Thomson allowed Emi to sit down, resting against the pillar.
"Are you ok?" he asked, keeping his weapon ready to fire if one of the zombie-creatures Stealth had described came close.
Emi nodded, shaking slightly, "... This is... horrible..."
He sat down next to her and put his arm around her, "I know. But this will make sure you'll be safe. After this, there will be no more shooting. This is for you. It's what I'm doing it for, so you can be safe. Without this you could die."
She snuggled against him, "... I know... It's just... I don't like it... I'm still... Hurt..."
He kissed the glass of her helmet, "Everything will be alright. I know it will. I love you, Emi."
"... I love you, too..."

Keating turned on the torch on the end of her gun and the narrow corridor lit up in a white glow.
"Fan out," she ordered Mia and Stealth, "They must be here some place. I can hear them."
That was actually the case. Ever since they had entered the structure there had been regular scraping noises from around the next corner, but when they reached it there was no one, and nothing, there.
"I wonder what Emi's problem is," Mia questioned thoughtfully, "She seems horribly broken. I feel sorry for her."
"You didn't read her file? I swear, one more lack of intel on this mission and I'm going to go crazy. Emi was captured and tortured by Cerberus, she was captured by a man named Renswick on Tuchanka, she was shot by the same guy, nearly died from the shot as well as nearly getting killed by a Reaper, then on Omega she was captured and tortured. She killed a man then got her mind fucked up by the Reapers. I'm pretty sure she has a right to be broken," explained Keating.
"I was there when she killed the man," Stealth said, "I watched her crying in the pool of blood, refusing to move until Thomson returned. She's mentally broken. One more thing like those and... I think she'll be gone forever. I'm pretty sure anyone else would have killed themselves by now. But not her. Her love for Thomson and their children is what is keeping her going. She's strong."
"Thomson seems a little blind," admitted Mia, "He hasn't got a clue. Why is he working for Revenge?"
"Why are any of us working for Revenge?" Keating countered with a shrug, "I just want weapons. Cool weapons."
"I'm here to find out more about the universe. If I hadn't have wanted to come then I'd have left a long time ago, Commander. I think that studying this race will unlock technological secrets which could help us. It's also to like... Make the galaxy a safer place and all that," said Mia.

"What do you think of the team, then?" Thomson asked Emi, still with his arm around her.
"... I don't like Keating..." Emi sighed, "... She's a bosh'tet... I'd rather have you in charge... We kind of know Epsilon, so guess he's fine... As for Mia, I'm not sure..."
"We'll have to work together if we're going to get this done."

Something grey crossed in front of Keating's view, but before she could fire a shot it had disappeared.
"Stay ready," she said to Mia and Stealth, "They're definitely here."
A Husk creature ran around from the corner, growling and screeching. It was roughly shaped like a human, though had arms which draped downwards and ended in curved blades. It had a triangular mouth and five blue, glowing eyes.
"Wow," Keating said, "Now you're ugly."
She shot it in the head.
Stealth drew his sword, holding his pistol in his other hand.
"What race are they based on?" Mia questioned, "They don't look like normal Husks."
"Probably something long dead. Unless of course they're made from the race we're after."
When they turned the next corner, they found themselves staring down a long corridor with around thirty of the creatures at the other end.
"Well, there's certainly a lot," Keating pointed out, and began firing.
Mia's shotgun was ineffective at the range they were at, so she didn't fire but still took aim. Stealth fired his pistol, felling each with a single headshot whilst Keating shredded their legs with her rifle.
Some of the creatures got past their gunfire - just from the sheer number. Every one that was killed, another took its place.
Stealth ran to intercept them. He got part way down the corridor - then there was a blue flash. Within practically the same moment, he reappeared again - swinging his sword to deal with a creature behind the leading one, which was cut perfectly in half and falling to the floor. The creature he had engaged fell a second later, sliced through the head by his blade.
Whilst he was dealing with the creatures within melee range, Mia was firing her shotgun at the ones slightly further afield, whilst Keating was dealing with the ones at the other end of the corridor. It was a good system.
The creatures were flowing like water, however, around and over the barrier of gunfire and swords and they began to overwhelm them.
"Shit," Keating cursed in realisation, "There are too many. Fall back. I'll cover you."
Stealth nodded and biotic jumped backwards. Mia jogged behind Keating and they began to retreat.
Keating was firing blindly, spraying the entire corridor with gunfire.
When they reached the next corner, they began sprinting out of the giant structure. Keating radioed the SSV Naseby.

"Revenge," Thomson said, "Can you tell me anything about the race we're up against? What do they look like?"
"They have no name. When it was their cycle, we invaded Junthor and wanted to destroy them. They were the first planet that we hit, a bit like Earth is the first planet we started attacking in this cycle."
There was the sound of starship engines above them as the SSV Naseby swooped gracefully down through the clouds and began hovering a few metres away from the ground.
Keating was the first to appear.
"Run, now," she shouted at Thomson, "They're coming."
Next came Mia and Stealth, followed by a horde of strange looking Husk-like creatures with blades for arms.
Thomson raised his M-8 Avenger and began firing in short, fast bursts. Several of the creatures dropped, but more just kept coming.
"Get on the Naseby, now!" Keating yelled.
Thomson stopped firing and put his rifle on his back. He held Emi's arm and pulled her towards the frigate.
Revenge fired a pulse of energy which took out one of the creatures and flung its body backwards over the mass of the rest of them.
Keating leaped on to the Naseby, followed by Thomson who helped Emi to climb on board the ship.
Stealth came next - biotic jumping the last few metres and reappearing on the cargo ramp. He helped Mia up as the Naseby pulled away from the surface of Junthor. Revenge was the last to climb up.
By the time the cargo ramp had closed, Keating was already on the bridge.
Thomson felt the ship lurch to the side as it spun around to face the mass of creatures that were trying to chase after them.
A beam of blue energy speared from the frigate and ripped across the ranks of zombies.
The SSV Naseby pulled out of the atmosphere of Junthor.
Their scanners failed to pick up the vessel which followed them, with its stealth systems active.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Monsters - Part 1

Ok, so now we've got to the part where we know how the gang was infiltrated by Stealth, and we know how Thomson, Emi, Mia and Keating got involved.
Now on to planet Junthor.

The SF-2 glided between the clouds almost silently as it passed through Junthor's thick atmosphere, which consisted mostly of Carbon Dioxide and Chlorine.
Thomson was stood in the CIC, fastening his breather helmet on to his head. Emi had adjusted her helmet accordingly to supply her with air, instead of filtering the surrounding gases so they were free from bacteria and other harmful substances.
The Falcon hovered a few metres away from the ground and Thomson made his way towards the cargo ramp at the back of the ship.
Wind was blowing and dust was flying through the air - obscuring all view but a small one metre patch in front of them.
Thomson hopped down from the cargo ramp, helping Emi down a moment after.
"... I don't like it here..." Emi said, "... It feels wrong..."
A cracking noise behind him reached his ears and he spun, but there was nothing there.
"I don't like it either," Thomson sighed, raising his rifle, "If Revenge isn't here, I'm going to kill him. We have no idea if anything is living here."
Emi seemed to hide behind him, hugging the back of his shoulders tightly.
"Oh... I didn't mean to scare you. Are you ok?"
She nodded quickly, "... I'm scared..."
Another cracking noise, this time from the front. Thomson aimed his rifle ahead and tightened his finger on the trigger.
"Stand down, soldier," said a distinctly female voice, which was muffled by a helmet - giving it a slight echoed quality.
A figure stepped through the sand into their visual radius. The first thing Thomson picked up on was the N7 logo on her chest. The second was the fact that she was pointing a pistol at him.
"You first," he growled.
She holstered her pistol, "I'm Commander Keating of the SSV Naseby. Who are you?"
"I'm Thomson. Formerly Lieutenant Thomson of the SF-2 Falcon, and this is Emi'Derik. What are you doing here?"
She sighed, "You're not going to believe me if I told you."
"You're working for a Reaper, aren't you?"
She nodded, "I am. And by the sound of it, so are you. Do you know who else is turning up?"
Thomson shook his head, "Do you?"
"I have a Quarian named Mia a few metres away. She's inspecting the pillar. Other than that I have no clue. We could have an entire army on its way. Emi, is it? Are you ok?"
Emi nodded, "... I guess... I don't like it here... I want to go back to the ship..."
"You're scared?" Keating questioned, "Why are you scared? There's only us here."
"... I feel like someone's watching us..."
"I know what you mean," said Thomson, "It's a little eerie."
"We should get this over and done with," Keating sighed, "I have a pounding headache and all this nickel isn't helping."
"Nickel?" Thomson questioned.
"Yes, Nickel. Don't you read the mission logs? It's mainly aluminum and nickel on this planet. Oh, and if we do meet anyone, try not to get shot, it's about minus thirty degrees. You'll get cold."
"Understood," Thomson responded with a nod.
Keating turned and walked back the way she had came, so Thomson and Emi followed. The more they walked, the more they could see. It was difficult terrain - they had to climb over rocks of metal to follow the Commander. Emi was being careful not to damage her suit, but it was not needed, as due to attrition - Thomson guessed - all the rocks were smooth.
It only took them a few minutes to get to the pillar. By the time they reached there, they could see large towering structures either side. They were golden in colour, and consisted of several cylindrical towers of varying heights. The effect was like a few hundred metre tall organ like they used to use in churches.
"Holy shit," Thomson laughed, "They certainly know how to build."
"Yes," Keating nodded, "If I ever need a musical instrument for a giant I'll let them know."
The pillar stood tall, at least twice the size of Thomson, but looked small around the two large buildings either side of it.
Upon the metal work of the pillar, there were letters engraved in what appeared to be some kind of formal alien writing, judging by the distance between each letter and the height, which were all the same.
"'Walk among these works and know our greatness...'" hummed the Quarian who Keating had told them about.
"Mia," the Commander said, "We've found two more."
"Oh, hello," said the Quarian, being distracted from the pillar for a moment, "I'm Mia. Who are you?"
"I'm Thomson," he told her.
"... And I'm Emi..."
"Hello," Mia said, "Do you happen to be the Thomson who organised the battle on Sur'Kesh?"
"Yes. Why? Were you involved?"
Mia nodded, "I had just been rescued from Noveria by Keating when she got the call and decided it would be a good idea to fly in the middle of it, kill some Dreadnoughts and then talk a Reaper into using manners."
Emi nearly laughed, but it was only very slight, "... Did you make him eat with... What are they called?"
"A knife and fork?" Thomson questioned.
"... Yes, those... They're human manners, aren't they...? ... Or am I wrong?"
Keating shook her head, "I made him say please."
"Keelah..." Mia interrupted, her omni-tool activated on her arm, "It seems there's a structure inside the pillar that's mechanical in nature... It's some sort of technology."
"Do you know how to activate it?" Keating asked.
Mia shook her head, "I was a Geth expert. I have no idea what this is."
"I do. Please stand back," said a distinctly Geth voice.
Mia turned away defensively and raised her shotgun.
"Do not shoot. I am Revenge."
Revenge's Geth unit stepped out from the nickel storm.
It was Keating who raised her weapon next, "You're no Reaper."
"I am in control of this form, as my previous body was destroyed."
"Open it, then," Keating growled, "But I still don't trust you. I have a headache and I'm not in the mood for this. You know I could be sat in my ship watching vids on the Extranet? But no, I'm in this place working with a bloody Reaper."
"I take it you don't like him?" Thomson questioned, "I'm partly responsible for the destruction of his first Reaper body, and he's working with me. The Reapers had their chance to destroy the galaxy and are only protecting themselves."
"Not exactly a noble cause," Keating shrugged, "But I see your point."
They stepped away from the pillar and Revenge raised his hand towards the metal.
A blue pulse of energy struck the pillar and a chunk of metal exploded, leaving a hole in the structure. A light began shining.
Seconds later, a figure appeared. Ghostly blue-white in colour, and shaped like no creature Thomson had ever seen. He felt Emi jump behind him in surprise, so he gave her arm a reassuring squeeze.
"Is this... some sort of AI?" Mia questioned.
Revenge nodded, "It's an emergency interface."
The AI made noises that couldn't be translated, not even to the Quarians with translators in their helmets.
It began switching language. Thomson heard German, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, then finally English.
"Apologies. I was linking this interface to your neural relay."
"... It's in our mind?" Emi questioned, "... Please get out... I don't like it..."
"It just has to check whether you are friend or foe," Revenge explained, "It is partly broken."
"What should we ask it?" asked Keating.
"We need to figure out where they are now," said Thomson, "So maybe we should ask it that?"
Mia nodded, "There was a race here a long time ago. Where are they now?"
The ghostly AI was silent for a moment, "Ploba," it said finally.
"What's Ploba?" Thomson questioned.
"... Really," said Keating, "I give up. You don't know what Ploba is or why it's special?"
Thomson shook his head.
"It's a gas giant with regular structures on the inside," Mia said, "No one knows why they're there or what their function is. Most people think that they're parts of planet-sized supercomputer that is millions of years old, but no one has ever returned from going there. Keelah... now we know the reason."
Keating nodded, "It seems we do. I'll call the Naseby."
There was a slight flickering in the air next to the AI and then a figure appeared. Thomson recognised him instantly, just from his helmet.
"Epsilon? What are you doing here?"
"I prefer the name Stealth. Epsilon was just in the gang. And, I'm working for Revenge. I've just scouted the area. You really should have activated your stealth drive before you landed."
"Why? No one's here," Keating sighed, "Now we have to go to a gas giant. Yay."
"Well actually, that's where you're wrong. Well technically you're right, but there are things here. It seems the Reapers had some troops left from the last cycle of theirs..."
"That is correct," said Revenge, "However, I thought they had died."
"No. They're amassing just inside that structure. They're Husk-things... I've never seen anything like them. There must be a few hundred easily."
"Right then," Keating said cheerfully, "Let's go kill some zombies."

Monday, 3 March 2014

Captive - Part 4

Mia was on the Naseby when Keating returned, with snow on her armour and blood on her helmet.
"Thank you," said Mia, feeling a lot better after several doses of medigel on her gunshot wound. She couldn't walk on it, yet, but it had stopped bleeding, "What you did was... helpful."
"It's fine. I was just doing my job."
The base exploded through the observation port behind Keating.
"What was that?"
"Oh, after I shattered the Turian I set the internal heat generators for the base to maximum, and threw a grenade into the system. They tend to explode when that happens."
The intercom beeped into life, "Someone called Thomson wishes to speak to you, Commander," said the pilot, "It concerns the gang."
"I'm sorry, Mia. I have to go. Just ask the doctors if you need anything."

"Who are you?" Keating asked the mysterious caller.
"I'm Lieutenant Thomson. A member of my team mentioned that a Spectre was trying to destroy the gang on Omega that is dealing with Quarian slaves. He also gave me the name of your ship. It's a long story, but they've left Omega and are now on Sur'Kesh. They have my girlfriend. I'm massing a force to destroy them. Do you want to be a part of it?"
Keating smiled, "And you think I would miss something like that? Send me the coordinates."

"Mia, we're taking a bit of a detour through a battle. I hope you don't mind," said Keating as she went back to tell the Quarian the news.
"What?" Mia questioned, "What are you talking about?"
"Well... Apparently someone is trying to get a large force together to deal with the gang. They have a shit load of Dreadnoughts and we, so far, have a hundred thousand ships. A group of which will be doing battle with them, the rest will be trying to protect the Migrant Fleet. I volunteered to have the Naseby in the middle of the battle."
"Why? What the hell possessed you? Keelah."
Keating shrugged, "It's my job. Plus, I get to be in control of the guns. Which is always fun. Especially against a Dreadnought."
"Surely this frigate doesn't have the weapon strength to be up against a Dreadnought?"
"That's what you're supposed to think. But underneath the Frigate shell, it has an Everest-class Dreadnought mass accelerator cannon, capable of firing a twenty kilogram ferrous slug every five seconds. It can fire them at 1.5 percent the speed of light, due to some modifications I made. It has the impact of a forty kiloton bomb. Alongside the standard Frigate GARDIAN defences, it's pretty cool. Oh, and we have a Thanix cannon too."
"So... you've just armed this frigate up?"
"Pretty much. We destroyed a few Reapers. Well, that was an accident. I fired the ferrous slug and it took out a Reaper behind the Reaper I was initially aiming at. Fired straight up into its main cannon before it could destroy us, and their formation meant... well, yeah. Anyway, we'll be there in a few hours. I'm contacting the Citadel, seeing if we can get Destiny Ascension to help. That ship is pretty awesome."

The SSV Naseby got in formation behind the SF-2 Falcon. Keating wasn't going to let Thomson get all the fun. The GARDIAN turrets were ready, and she was sat in the chair where she could fire the weapons from inside the cockpit. The auto-targeting system began scanning for the Dreadnoughts, but they were not in range yet. They had yet to go down to Sur'Kesh.
"Team one, are you ready?" Thomson's voice said through the radio, "Keep to the plan. Wait for my signal."
Keating tapped on a terminal behind her, sending a confirmation to the Falcon to acknowledge the Naseby's readiness.
"Team one away."
The group of about three hundred starships broke away from the larger group and flew down towards Sur'Kesh, and into the battle.

As soon as the fight began, Keating fired three slugs in fifteen seconds, firing the Thanix cannon whilst doing so. A beam erupted from the front of the Naseby, raking across the front of a Dreadnought and leaving a cut in its hull, which glowed orange with scorched metal.
The three slugs, meanwhile, destroyed a Dreadnought each.
The pilot then steered the frigate down the middle between two Dreadnoughts, luckily avoiding the five slugs that had been fired their way.
The SF-2 Falcon also broke away from formation, heading for the leading Dreadnought.
Destiny Ascension had fired several times, each shot taking out a Dreadnought.
Keating, however, was not going to be shown up by the Citadel Fleet's flagship. As the Naseby flew upwards, she cut a line through the hull of a Dreadnought, firing a slug downwards as she did so.
Her aim was true, because the slug hit the Dreadnought and hit it with so much force, it took out the Dreadnought beneath it after it had torn through the first.

Needless to say, the battle didn't last very long. However, she was physically not able to lock on to one of the Dreadnoughts. The one she had seen the Falcon steer towards. It was almost like something was stopping her. It simply did not exist on any of the scanners.
"Destiny Ascension, this is Commander Keating of the SSV Naseby. Are you able to pick up any readings of the last surviving Dreadnought?"
"Negative," came the reply, "We are unable to lock on."
Her holographic monitor turned red.
She sighed, "What did I do, overheat the weapon system?"
Mia moved from one end of the CIC to the other with the help of a crutch, "What's happening? All the systems went red," the Quarian pointed out.
"All of them?" Keating questioned, "Shit."
She brought up the radio again, "Destiny Ascension, it's Commander Keating again. Our systems are not responding. Requesting immediate assistance."
There was nothing but static.
"Destiny Ascension, this is-"
"Your communication methods have been disabled," said a deep voice. The red lights of the systems around her pulsed in synchronisation.
"Look, pal," Keating sighed, "I have no idea who you are, but unless you give me back control of my ship, I'm going to find you, hunt you down and feed your remains to a space hamster. Got that?"
"Your threats are unnecessary. This will only take a moment."
"Ma'am," said one of Keating's officers, "All the doors are locked and we can't raise any other deck on the intercom."
"This is bullshit. Look, monitor-guy, you might think you're all tough, putting on a big, bad voice and hacking into my ship, but we'll see how tough you are when you have a fucking bullet in your head."
"You do not understand who you are talking to, human."
Mia tapped Keating on the shoulder, "He sounds serious. I think you should listen to him."
"Noted," she responded, "And ignored." she turned to the monitor again, "I will only listen when you have released your control over my ship. You can go all 'you do not understand who you are talking to', but I don't give a shit. This is my ship and my crew. Nobody fucks with the Naseby and lives to tell the tale."
"Releasing control," said the monitor, and everything returned to normal. The weapons screen began glowing orange again, and the locking mechanisms on the doors turned green and unlocked.
"I am a Reaper," said the voice through her communicator.
Keating laughed, "Nice one. You're just some kid who has nothing else better to do. I will find you, and I will be telling your mummy. Everyone knows the Reapers were destroyed, idiot. I was there. I killed some."
"My name is Revenge. I survived the Crucible blast. I need your help. Unless you want me to take control of your vessel again. And the fact you killed several of us just makes you more promising."
"Could you speak up? All I'm hearing on my end is shit. And lots of it."
"Do you want to be destroyed, human?" the voice growled, "Because I can make it happen with a single data transmission."
"Do your worst, Revenge. You can lock some doors and deactivate some terminals, big wow. Anyone with the new Omni-tool can do that. Destroy us, I dare you. I double-dare you."
"Keating," said Mia, "This might not be a good idea..."
The communicator was silent for a second, "Listen, human." it said finally.
"I didn't hear any manners in there."
"Please listen, human."
"That's better. What do you want?"
"I am not lying to you. I am the last Reaper in existence. There is something I need your help with. Have you ever heard of the planet Junthor?"
Keating nodded, "I have. Well... I think I have. The one which is all ruins, correct?"
"Where is Junthor?" Mia asked.
"The Armstrong Nebula," Keating pointed out, "It's the home of an extinct race that no one knows about."
"We know about them," said Revenge, "We were the ones who reduced their homeworld to rubble."
"Yes, yes, we both know how you claim to be a Reaper. I don't buy it. However, if you want something from me, we have to trade. Make it worth my while."
"If we find any weapons technology, you will be able to keep it. All you need to do is go to Junthor and land by the pillar with the inscriptions. Do we have a deal?"
"Yes. Yes we do. But you'll have to show me yourself in person once we get there. If you're not a Reaper, I'm going to kill you."
"I would like to see you try, human," Revenge responded.
"No," she grinned, "No, you wouldn't. You don't want me as your enemy. Now get the hell out of my radio."
Her communicator went dead.
"If he's telling the truth, you realise you just talked down a Reaper?" Mia questioned.
"Yes. Yes I do. There aren't many people who can say that," Keating smiled.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Marriage - Part 3

"We can't just destroy the Presidium," said Thomson, with a raised eyebrow, "The Council wouldn't be very happy, and I'm pretty sure we'd be a little bit illegal."
"We do not have to make the Presidium non-functional," said Revenge, "But if we disable the system that is converting it into a relay for their signals, it will limit their functionality in this area. Then you can go and investigate Junthor."
"Can you do it remotely?" Thomson asked.
Revenge shook his metallic head, "Unfortunately not."
"Emi," Thomson said, "I think you should come with us. If they can instantly indoctrinate someone, it's better for you to be here rather than on the ship. They could try and attack you again."

Thomson covered Emi as Revenge led them to the area of the Presidium that he said the system was on.
It was a grey, dark tunnel, which was more close to a ventilation shaft than a passageway. Revenge was on the Geth's hands and knees;" Thomson was shuffling along on his knees to be able to incorporate the bulk of his weapon, whilst Emi crawled behind. If it had been on Earth, there would be no doubt in the fact that it would be covered in spider webs. However, for a passage which looked as if it hadn't been used for the past thousand years, it was relatively clean. There was a fine layer of dust which coated the floors and walls, but nothing major.
He had collected his M-8 Avenger from the Falcon for extra protection. There was no doubt that they would attempt to stop them deactivating the signal relay.
A small crab-like creature with what appeared to be a bloated orange abdomen scuttled across in front of Revenge. Emi shrieked, but Thomson stood on it after Revenge had moved over it, and before it came close to her.
"How close are we?" Thomson asked.
"Approximately 15.2 metres away."
"I was expecting some resistance by now," said Thomson, "They seemed desperate to get their hands on Emi."
"Perhaps they have forgotten about this passage," said Revenge.
"Maybe they did," replied Thomson with a shrug of his shoulders, "Something just seems a little odd."
Emi nodded, "... I think I know what you mean..."
"They're not something you'd expect from a race from the Prothean times," Thomson pointed out, glancing around the tunnels.
"The Keepers maintain the Citadel," Revenge said, simply, "It is their doing."
The passageway opened up into a small room, barely tall enough for Revenge to stand at full height. Thomson, Emi and Revenge had to press close together for them all to fit in at the same time.
In front of them, there was a single terminal. The hologram glowed orange, and it displayed some sort of controls concerning the controls for the signal relay.
Revenge turned around, looking back down into the passageway.
"What is it?" Thomson asked.
Revenge grabbed his weapon, "They are trying to stop us. Deactivate the terminal whilst I hold them off."
Thomson nodded, and began swiping the holographic terminal until he reached the deactivation option. Gunfire was audible from behind as Revenge began firing down the tunnel.
The terminal started displaying a screen with two circular objects, almost like dials. Thomson turned one, but it reset a second later and beeped, and the word "Error" flashed several times.
"Emi," he shouted above the gunfire, "I need your help. We need to turn the dials at the same time."
She nodded, and moved so she was stood next to him. She placed her gloved finger on the terminal.
"On the count of three. One... two..."
"Thomson..." an echoing, alien voice whispered from back down the tunnel, "Don't do this..."
It was silenced by Revenge's gunshots.
"... Three."
They twisted the dials, and the terminal blinked into darkness and folded up. All the aliens vanished.
"They must have been using the relay not only for indoctrination," Revenge explained, "But to cast projections of themselves. They weren't actually here."
The Reaper handed Thomson back his rifle.
"So we're going to Junthor, now?" Thomson questioned.
"Yes. We should go," came the reply from the large Geth unit.
"... I'm not so sure..." said Emi, "... I don't know whether we should..."
Thomson turned to her, and held her arms gently, "I'm not entirely convinced, either. But if it's the only way to make you safe..." he looked at Revenge, "... It is, right?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Yes it is."