Saturday, 21 December 2013

Mass Effect Serialisation - Chapter 3

Look at That Ship

Shepard, Kaidan and Ashley advanced up the slope toward the prefab units, but before they reached them they found more spikes like the ones they saw the civilian impaled on, only there were what looked like altered humans already impaled on them.

As they approached with caution, the spikes lowered, and the altered humans stood up from them. They were grotesquely changed, with a more robotic look and had tubes hooked up into their mouths that connected round their backs. And they screeched and groaned with a guttural moan that sounded like their last gasp of humanity screaming in a living hell.




The beasts ran at Shepard and co, who duly took them down after a heavy volley of gunfire as well as Kaidan utilising his biotics to throw one of them across the ground.

Afterwards, they slowly approached the now lifeless bodies, with Shepard commenting on them,

"They were human, but now...now they're more like husks than people."

"What the hell happened to them?" Kaidan asked, "Did those spikes change them?"

Ashley replied "It looks that way yeah, but how? Are the geth even capable of this?"

"It doesn't matter at the moment, we need to find out where that damn beacon is." Shepard said very matter-of-factly. The others nodded in silence, and they continued on toward the prefab sheds ahead. They were all open bar one that was locked tight, Kaidan went to the door and hacked into it to unlock it. Inside were 2 scientists.

"Thank the maker!" one of them said "I knew it would only be a matter of time until someone came. I'm Dr Warren, the lead scientist at the dig site." she looked relieved to see the Alliance soldiers in front of them.

"What happened here?" Shepard asked,

"It all happened so fast, one minute we were packing up our stuff, the next the geth were swarming over the site, killing anyone that moved." Dr Warren replied, rubbing her hands nervously. Her assistant walked forward towards Shepard, looking around skittishly,

"Agents of the destroyers. Bringers of darkness. Heralds of our extinction." he said prophetically,

"We could hear the battle outside. Gunfire, screams. We hid in here until it went quiet, but then we were too afraid to move, then eventually you showed up." Dr Warren added.

"Have you seen a turian around here?" Shepard asked, before Dr Warren could reply, her assistant immediately spoke up.

"I have seen him. The prophet. Leader of the enemy. He was here - before the attack!"

"That's impossible, Nihlus was on the Normandy the whole time before the attack."

"I'm sorry, Manuel is...unsettled. We haven't seen your turian, we've been in here since the attack." Dr Warren said.

"What's wrong with your assistant?" Shepard asked, obviously annoyed at his presence.

"Manuel has a brilliant mind, but has always been unstable. Genius and madness are 2 sides of the same coin." Dr Warren said.

"Is it madness to see the future? To see the destruction rushing towards us? To understand that there is no chance, no hope. No, I am not mad - I'm the only sane one left!" Manuel said with conviction.

"I gave him an extra dose of his meds to calm him down." Dr Warren added.

"Well, I can help. Say goodnight Manuel." Shepard said as he slowly approached him, before swinging his fist back to punch him in the face, knocking him out and off his feet.




"What the hell are you doing?!" Dr Warren said,

"That may have been a little extreme, Commander." Kaidan added.

"He was clearly off the rails, it was only a matter of time before he flipped and did something to hurt himself or someone else." Shepard said,

"I...suppose you're right. He was getting worse by the minute." Dr Warren conceded.

"Williams, take us to the spaceport." Shepard said, as they then left, leaving Dr Warren in the prefab shed, and took off towards the spaceport.

---

Nihlus was approaching the spaceport, sneaking behind crates as he saw a figure on the platform. He broke cover wielding his assault rifle, when he looked shocked, and lowered his weapon.

"Saren." He said, confused.

"Nihlus..." Saren replied, turning to see his turian compatriot. Saren was taller than Nihlus, and had a pure grey colouring, his head was larger, and his armour looked a mix between a futuristic battlesuit with tubes and wires, and a medieval suit of armour.

"Saren, what are you doing here?" Nihlus asked, obviously perplexed as to why his fellow Spectre was on Eden Prime.

"The...Council thought you could use some help on this one." Saren said, walking past Nihlus giving him a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

"The situation is bad, I never would have thought the geth would go beyond the Veil." Nihlus said, now having completely lowered his weapon and looking up at the red sky.

"Don't worry." Saren said, turning to face Nihlus's back, whilst drawing his pistol. "Everything is under control." As soon as the last letter had been uttered, he pulled the trigger and killed Nihlus with a close range bullet to the back off his head.


NOTE: I described Nihlus as having red colouring on his face, when it was in fact his armour that has red trim. His face (as above) is black and white.
---

Shepard, Ashley and Alenko were closing in on the spaceport when they heard a single gunshot echo around them. They turned a corner and heard a loud rumbling and they all experienced a strange screaming sound in their heads.

"Commander, look at that ship!" Kaidan exclaimed, the 3 of them all stopped in their tracks and looked to the sky. A massive ship, with red lightening sparking from it filled a large portion of the sky. It looked almost alive as it rose from the ground, it was enormous - easily 2km in height - and was shaped almost like a cuttlefish with gargantuan legs.



Before they could take in the view too much, they found themselves under fire, and heard the now unmistakable shriek of the husks. They split up to draw fire around the battlefield, and attempt to confuse the husks, and took down the geth firing at them and only just managing to kill the husks before they reached Kaidan.

They traversed the small battlefield down towards the spaceport loading platform, where they came across the corpse of Nihlus. 

"It's Nihlus, looks as though he was shot in the back." Kaidan said,

"Wait! There's something moving behind those crates!" Ashley cut in,

Shepard, Ashley and Kaidan drew their weapons and focussed on the back of the platform. A shaking man came out from behind them,

"Don't shoot! Please! I'm human!" he said,

"You coward, thanks for helping out when those geth attacked us. Really helped us there." Shepard said, holstering his pistol.

"But...I'm just a dock worker, I don't even have a weapon!" the man said, "I was hiding here during the attack, and then I saw your friend get shot by that other turian."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Shepard snapped,

"Your friend, he saw the other turian, Saren he called him, and then he seemed to relax, he let his guard down - lowered his weapon and then he shot him...right in the back." the man said.

"Where did Saren go after killing Nihlus?" Shepard asked,

"He jumped on the cargo train to the other platform, probably going for the beacon. That damn beacon has been nothing but trouble since they dug it up, everything's gone right to hell. First that mothership showed up, then the geth. They killed everybody, damn sure would have killed me too if I weren't behind these crates." the man said.

"Do you know what happened to the beacon?" Shepard asked,

"They loaded it on the cargo train this morning, took it to the other platform. Everything seemed so normal. It's hard to believe that that was only a few hours ago." the man replied.

"Hang on, how come you're the only survivor? Why didn't anyone else hide behind these crates?" Shepard asked,

"They never had a chance. I...I was already behind the crates before it all happened." the man said sheepishly.

"Wait a minute, you were hiding before the attack started?" Kaidan asked,

"Sometimes, I need a nap to get through my shift. So I sneak off behind the crates where my supervisor can't find me and catch 40 winks." he said

"You lazy son of a bitch!" Ashley said, pointing at the man,

"You make me sick, firstly you ditch work, then you sit back while everyone else got butchered by the geth?" Shepard accused,

"What was I supposed to do?" the man said defending himself, "Walk out there to die? I don't have a weapon, there was nothing I could do. I'd just be dead too."

Looking disgusted, Shepard decided to call it a day with the dock worker. "We have to get to that beacon before it's too late!"

"Take the cargo train to the next platform, it's where the beacon is being held." the dock worker said "I have to get away from this place, too many bad feelings."

Shepard and the others proceeded to the cargo train, taking out the remaining geth in their way. They boarded the train and started it, taking them to the next platform.

Meanwhile, already at the other platform, Saren approached one of the geth.

"Set the charges, destroy the entire colony. Leave no evidence that we were here." he ordered.

He then approached the prothean beacon, looked up at it - and it activated raising him from the ground.



Shepard reached the platform that the prothean beacon was being held. And as soon as they left the train, they found a large bomb. They quickly defused it, and their omni-tools detected 3 other bombs on the platform of similar size - they were rudimentary nuclear warheads, destructive enough to destroy a third of the planet, and certainly enough to destroy the colony.

They were surrounded by geth on all sides, and knew they had a limited amount of time before the bombs would go off, they ran through the barrage of bullets, shooting and using Kaidans biotics to destroy the geth.

They managed to reach the 3 bombs and defused them with their omni-tools before they could detonate.

Shepard led his team down onto a sub-platform, where the beacon was being held. There were a number of husks and geth troopers dotted around it, but none of them were a match for Shepard, Ashley and Kaidan.

After destroying the last geth, Shepard radioed the Normandy to confirm that they had found the beacon. While he did, Ashley and Kaidan spoke about the beacon, which was glowing and had a beam of green light shooting out to the sky above it.

"I can't believe it. Actual working prothan technology. This has to be at least 50,000 years old." Kaidan said,

"It wasn't doing anything like this when they dug it up!" Ashley remarked, as Kaidan walked back towards Shepard.

"...in to secure the beacon for transport to the Citadel." Shepard finished his transmission to the Normandy. As he did, Ashley approached it, compelled by it's glowing and humming. Suddenly, a force pulled her closer and Shepard saw her struggling - he ran over to her and pulled her away, putting himself in her place. The beacon pulled him in closer and closer, Ashley then attempted to run to his aid - but Kaidan jumped in to hold her back.

"Don't touch him! It's too dangerous!" he shouted.

The beacon pulled Shepard to it, and raised him up in the same manner it had to Saren before him. Suddenly, Shepard's mind was filled with scattered visions of machine parts, and blurred images of organics being slaughtered. He couldn't make sense of anything he was seeing, and the surge of activity in his mind and in the beacon caused it to overload, exploding and sending Shepard crashing to the floor, losing consciousness in the process.



"Normandy, this is Alenko - we need an emergency medevac now! Lock in on my signal!" Kaidan shouted through his radio, "Come on Commander, come on!" he said to Shepard checking him over.

---

The enormous ship that attacked Eden Prime was surging through space with Saren onboard. He was sat in what appeared to be a throne, deep in thought. An asari approached him, she was wearing bizarre headwear, and was a strong shade of blue, she looked beautiful - as all asari do and looked very human. She coughed slightly to let him know she was there. 

"The humans prevented the bombs from detonating, the colony still stands." she said.

"And the beacon?" Saren asked.




"One of the human's may have activated it." She replied. Saren started breathing heavier, and was clearly irate, he jumped from this throne, and started throwing anything in his way around the room, getting into the asari's face, grabbing it in his talon like hand.

"This human...must be eliminated." he said.

---

Shepard was back on the Normandy following the situation on Eden Prime, and started to come to. Ashley's voice was the first thing he heard.

"Doc, Doc! He's waking up!" 

Shepard sat up on the bed, grabbing his head. Dr Chakwas walked around to face him,

"You had us worried there Shepard. How are you feeling?" she asked,

"Urgh, like the morning after shore leave." he groaned back at her "How long was I out?" 

"About 15 hours, something happened down there with the beacon." Chakwas replied,

"It's my fault," Ashley said, "I must have triggered some kind of security field when I approached it. You pulled me out of the way."

"I expect better from my people Williams," Shepard scolded Ashley, "Your recklessness jeopardised the mission and could have cost me my life."

Ashley looked disheartened, as Chakwas spoke up,

"Actually, we don't even know what set it off. Unfortunately, we'll never get the chance to find out."

"The beacon overloaded, the blast knocked you out. The Lieutenant and I got you back to the ship." Ashley added,

"What's the damage doc?" Shepard asked,

"Physically you're fine. But I detected some unusual brain activity - abnormal beta waves." Chakwas said, "I also noticed an increase in your rapid eye movement, signs typically associated with intense dreaming."

"Not a dream. More of a nightmare. I saw death, destruction - nothing's really clear." Shepard responded. As he did, Captain Anderson entered the room.

"Glad to see my XO is back on his feet" he said, "I need a moment with the Commander - in private."

Ashley and Chakwas left the medbay to give them that privacy.

"Sounds like that beacon hit you pretty hard Commander. You sure you're OK?" Anderson asked,

"Intel dropped the ball sir. We had no idea what we were walking into down there." Shepard said,

"The geth haven't been seen outside the Veil in 2 centuries - there's no way to know they would be there." Anderson replied.

"Williams isn't a part of the crew, what's she doing here?" Shepard asked,

"We could use a good soldier like her, I had her transferred to the Normandy." Anderson said.

"You said you needed to see me in private Captain?" Shepard asked.

"I wont lie to you Shepard. Things look back. Nihlus is dead. The beacon was destroyed and the geth are invading. The Council is going to want answers."

"The Council can kiss my ass, I didn't do anything wrong." Shepard said,

"I'll stand by you and your report Shepard. You're a damned hero in my books. That's not why I'm here. It's Saren, that other turian." Anderson said "Saren's a Spectre - one of the best. A living legend. But if he's working with the geth, it means he's gone rogue. A rogue Spectre's trouble. Saren's danerous, and he hates humans."

"Saren wasn't on Eden Prime because he hates humans." Shepard said,

"You're right. Saren has allied himself with the geth. I don't know how or why, but it had to be to do with that beacon. You were there just before the beacon self destructed - did you see anything? Any clue that might tell us what Saren was after?" Anderson asked.


"Just before I lost conciousness, I had some sort of vision." Shepard said, leaning against his bed.

"A vision?"




"I saw synthetics. Geth maybe, slaughtering people. Butchering them." Shepard said,

"We need to report this to the Council!" Anderson said.

"What are we going to tell them? I had a bad dream?" Shepard retorted.

"We don't know what information was stored on that beacon. Lost prothean tech? Blueprints for some ancient weapon of mass destruction? Whatever the case, Saren has it now. Anderson replied "I know Saren, his rep, his politics. He believes human's are a blight on the galaxy. This was an act of war! He has the secrets of the beacon and an army of geth at his command. He wont stop until he's wiped humanity from the galaxy."

"I'll find some way to take him down." Shepard said, brimming with confidence and anger.

"It's not that easy. He's a Spectre - he can go anywhere, do almost anything. That's why we need the Council onboard with this." Anderson said, "If we prove Saren has gone rogue, they'll revoke his Spectre status. I'll contact the ambassador and see if he can get us an audience with the Council. He'll want to meet you when we get to the Citadel. Speaking of which - we're close to it now. Go to the bridge and tell Joker to bring us in."


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