Monday, 24 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 14

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 14

Finding the Dig Site

They drove the Mako through the tunnel and entered a small clearing near another lava flow. The two rocket troops that were guarding the exit of the tunnel were no match for the wheels of the Mako, as Shepard drove over and past them. There was a second tunnel that they entered, and another two rocket troops weren’t any match for the Mako as they were crushed beneath it.

The Mako left the second tunnel, and a small blockade had been set up, again with minimal resistance from the few geth troops that were stood behind it. Shepard drove the Mako past the blockade and round a small corner, when they came to an abrupt stop. The road was blocked with rocks and debris, possibly by a controlled explosion by the geth. The Mako couldn’t get past, but there was just enough space for Shepard, Wrex and Kaidan to go through on foot. It would be a tough last leg of their journey to find Dr T’Soni, but they were confident that they would be able to make it through.

They passed the rocks and went up a small knoll, to find a squad of geth troops, rocket troops and shock troops. Shepard took point and found cover behind a boulder, while Kaidan and Wrex did the same slightly behind. Shepard equipped his assault rifle and took out two troops in one sweeping move, while Kaidan took out the rocket troop out with his biotic throw, slamming it against the rocks behind. Wrex chuckled at Kaidan’s biotic display and decided to show off his own biotic abilities. He threw a warp at the last remaining geth, the shock troop and it started to affect it at a molecular level, as it was slowed and stumbled back, he then used his biotic throw to hit the geth against the same rocks as Kaidan had, only this time the geth pretty much disintegrated into dust. Wrex looked over at Kaidan, with his shotgun in one hand, holding it like a human would a pistol, nodded his head and smiled. Kaidan, just looked in awe, he knew he was a strong biotic, but Wrex’s hundreds of years of battlefield experience and use of biotics certainly showed.

They continued past where the geth came from, around another turning in the rocks, when they saw a large open area with a few rocks for cover. Where they stood at the opening of the clearing, there was a small rock that Shepard took cover behind, and told the others to stand back. He took out his sniper rifle and trained his sights on the rocket trooper at the other end of the opening, and blew its head off in one shot. He knew it would remove their element of surprise, but getting shot of that rocket trooper would tip the balance in his favour. He waited for his rifle to cool down for a second shot in the field, he broke cover and shot the remaining geth troop in the open. There was still a lot of gunfire and a couple of rockets coming from the ridge around the opening and from a lookout post near the ridge. They wouldn’t be able to take them out from their position, so they would have to get down on the field behind what little cover there was. Up past the ridge, there was a large mining structure, which would most likely be the entrance to a possible excavation site, it was on top of the location on their map that had been pointed out by Joker as having strange readings, so they knew they had almost reached their destination.

Shepard instructed Wrex and Kaidan to give him cover while he would make a sprint to the nearest rock on the field. Kaidan and Wrex provided that cover by throwing biotic warps towards the sources of gunfire followed by heavy assault rifle fire. Shepard sprinted down to the rock, taking a couple of hits to his shields in the process. After reaching his target, he poked his head out to get a view of the geth, he saw the rocket trooper who had been concealed before in the lookout, and a couple of other geth troops on the ridge. He told Kaidan to try to use his biotics to remove the rocket troop causing havoc from the lookout, and Wrex just started to run. He knew he’d be a big diversion for the geth on the ridge, and Shepard saw this. While Wrex was running, he started shooting his shotgun towards the ridge, getting lucky or just being that good, by taking out one of the geth. While he did this, Shepard took the last geth out with his sniper rifle. They paused while behind cover, and saw that they could advance. They moved up towards the ridge, and started moving towards the mine entrance they could see from before.

As they neared it, everything seemed too quiet and under-protected by the geth. They didn’t see another type of geth, crawling along a platform above them. It was a geth stalker. It immediately took notice of the trio, and jumped down in front of them, it took them by surprise enough for them to fail to shoot at it. It made a strange mechanical grinding sound and leapt away. Not long after, a geth dropship flew overhead. As it did, it dropped out a small army of geth troops and a geth armature. Taking them out in the Mako had almost turned into a game for them, but they knew they would be a much harder challenge on foot.

They all took to the nearest cover they could as gunfire, rockets and fire from the armatures pulse cannon hurtled toward them. Shepard yelled at the others to leave the armature for last, from what he had already seen of them, he knew they would be able to out manoeuvre it on foot. The geth stalker was causing the group the most problems, jumping down between Shepard and Kaidan and causing their weapons to overheat, rendering them momentarily useless. Wrex saw they were in trouble and threw an especially strong warp at the stalker, managing to take it out in one hit. The geth troops – having no concept of pain or fear – advanced towards them, Shepard and Kaidan took out different weapons and started firing at the nearest troops while their assault rifles cooled down.

Wrex meanwhile still had his shotgun in hand, and fired relentlessly at the rocket troops that were flanking the armature, taking them out in swift fashion. The geth who were advancing on Shepard and Kaidan were being cut to ribbons by them, and before they knew it, they only had the lumbering armature to deal with. Unfortunately, it would take a lot of firepower to take down, its shields were quick to recharge.

Shepard had a few grenades, and threw them all at the armature. They all exploded underneath the beast’s body, but it continued to advance slowly towards them. They had taken its shields out, and even damaged part of its armour, they just had to whittle it down until it fell.

Wrex and Kaidan starting using their biotics on it, but only Wrex’s warp had any effect. Kaidan switched tactics and used his tech skills on it, trying to overload it and sabotage its weapons. This worked well and the armature briefly stopped firing. Wrex barraged it with shotgun fire and Shepard fired ruthlessly at its head with his assault rifle while Kaidan continued to use his tech abilities to stifle the armatures attacking capabilities. Before long, the armature fell and the last geth standing before the entrance to the mine, and possibly Dr T’Soni, was destroyed.

Toolbox 24

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 13

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 13


Shepard returned to the Galaxy Map in the CIC of the Normandy, and decided to head to Knossos, it was the nearest system to Sparta and as good a place as any to continue the search for Dr T’Soni.

It took a while but after arriving in Knossos, they started scanning the planets immediately. It didn’t take long before the planet Therum light up like a Christmas tree for Commander Shepard. The planet was already settled by the Alliance and was a heavy industrial centre. It should have been the first planet they went to thinking back; a few months back some ancient ruins were discovered on the planet surface that as yet hadn’t been excavated and explored, it was a perfect fit for Dr T’Soni – the archaeologist.

Shepard went down to the planet with Wrex and Kaidan in the Mako, and shortly after being dropped off by the Normandy, Shepard was contact on the comm by Joker.

“Commander, I’m getting some strange readings – really strange, like off the damn charts. It looks like it’s coming from an underground complex a few clicks away from the drop zone.” Joker said, sending the co-ordinates through to the Mako’s navigation system.

Therum was a mineral rich and rocky world, it was an easy choice for the Alliance to exploit the natural resources available. There were only a couple of small settlements on the planet, but the plans were for it to become a major industrial centre like Bekenstein. After travelling in the Mako for a short while, they realised that they were facing a race against time to find Dr T’Soni, a geth dropship flew overhead and dropped two armatures in their path. Geth Armatures are large anti-vehicle and anti-personnel units that have heavy machine guns and a pulse cannon for taking out all manner of enemies. However, they are also quadruped walkers, and are easily knocked down by brute force. Fortunately for Shepard, the Mako is pure brute force.

The two armatures landed on the ground in front of the Mako, it would seem odd that only two were dropped, but it immediately indicated to Shepard that the bulk of their forces must be further ahead, and these armatures were sent just to slow them down. Shepard was determined not to let that happen. He couldn’t just pass them and risk them catching up to them later down the line, so he employed a similar tactic as he used previously against the Thresher Maw on Edolus. He drove the Mako at full speed against the first armature, using the vertical thrusters to “hop” over any incoming balls of plasma-like energy that would have seriously crippled the Mako’s shields. As they approached the first armature, Shepard increased their speed whilst alternating between the Mako’s own machine gun and cannon to wear down the geth walker. After dealing a large amount of damage upon it, they rammed it hard, barely scratching the Mako’s shields or heavy armour, the armature flew through the air and smashed into a nearby rock face, shutting down or dying or whatever it is geth do when they’re destroyed. Shepard decided to employ the same tactic against the second armature to devastating effect, but this time sending the armature into a nearby lava flow. After dealing with them, they drove on towards the strange readings signalled by Joker and the Normandy.

They continued to drive on for a while, and the path narrowed into a bottle-neck. They turned a small corner and suddenly came across 3 heavy-geth turrets. Immediately, the turrets trained their sights on the Mako and started to fire rockets. Wrex spotted an even narrower side gulley, and spoke up.

“Only a fool punches a nathak in the mouth. We should sneak around a pull its tail.” As Wrex spoke he pointed out the small side route that could be taken, and Shepard drove. After entering the small gulley, they had to drive slow to navigate it, and encountered a solitary turret in their path. It wasn’t a challenge, and the slow rate of fire of the rockets didn’t pose a problem, as Shepard could hop over them – again using the vertical thrusters. They destroyed the turret and drove into the compound, where there were more geth units within. The compound itself was an overrun refinery, no traces of humanity were left, as the geth patrolled it. There were a few bigger geth that were in the compound that would later be identified as a Geth Destroyer, Geth Shock Trooper and a Geth Juggernaut. The Destroyers were slightly larger than normal geth, and could utilise a plasma flame thrower to devastating effect. The Shock Troopers were able to throw up a hexagonal shield at will to take cover behind, and were able to quickly advance up the battlefield as a result. Geth Juggernauts on the other hand, were not in need of a shield. As their name suggests, they were enormous versions of standard geth units, but also fired rockets, and could just as freely advance up the battlefield due to their incredible robustness.

They used the Mako to clear out the compound, and then stormed the gate house to get past the secure gates. The path led on towards the dig site that Dr T’Soni could well be. The presence of the geth only served to confirm their thoughts that they would find Dr T’Soni soon. The only question they needed answered however, was whether or not she was working with her mother and Saren.

They drove away from the small compound, and figured that they would encounter more geth along the way and they did. They came across and destroyed another 4 armatures, before coming to a large clearing by a tunnel. There were several geth rocket troops dotted around who were easily disposed of, they werern’t the problem. The problem lied with the Geth Colossus standing in their way. The Colossus was about 4 times the size of the standard armatures, and their pulse cannons were guided, no amount of hopping the Mako or evasive manoeuvres would prevent them from striking their targets. Shepard decided to practice their previous tactic in order to take this giant out – ramming it.

Shepard drove as fast as the Mako could go, taking fire the whole time with the shields holding out well – just before reaching the Colossus, Shepard hit the vertical thrusters and the Mako flew into the body of it, hurling it to the ground. He knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain that kind of offense against the Colossus, so employed a playground bullies tactic – while the Colossus was floored, Shepard spun the Mako around and drove over the top of it, hitting the brakes so as to park their tank on top of the Colossus in the hopes of preventing it from getting back up. And it worked. It would take longer, but they needed to destroy the Colossus, so they go out and got in close to it, inserting their weapons through the cracks and joins in its armour and firing relentlessly until their weapons overheated. This worked as well, and the light on the Colossus’ head went out.

Shepard, Kaidan and Wrex got back into the Mako and drove into the tunnel to continue their search for Dr Liara T’Soni.

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I really hope you're still enjoying this. I'm not posting chapters up as much as I'd like, but this is going to keep on going right up to the end - so get used to it. :-)

Oh and when I find the time, I'll remind you that I'm not a one-trick pony and write about some other games. T'ra.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 12

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 12

The Admiral’s Team

The Normandy arrived in the Artemis Tau cluster which is made up of 4 systems, Athens, Knossos, Macedon and Sparta. The only information that Shepard had, was that Dr Liara T’Soni was at a dig site somewhere in the cluster.

Shepard stood in the Combat Information Center (CIC), overlooking the galaxy map, his hand rubbing the stubble on his chin, thinking of where to start first. Each location was as suitable as another so he decided to start where they already were. The Mass Relay was located in the Sparta system, so they scan the possible planets there for signs of Dr T’Soni. While they were there, he thought they would look for signs of Admiral Kahoku’s missing team, which was performing ops in the Sparta System.

There were 5 planets and a small asteroid belt in the Sparta System, but there was only one planet of them that could harbour life: Edolus. The other planets were either too cold, had no atmosphere or was a gas giant. The chances were slim that they could hit 2 birds with one stone by helping Admiral Kahoku and finding Dr T’Soni. Edolus would likely be where Kahoku’s team was, so they diverted from their search for Dr T’Soni to help the Admiral.

Shepard instructed Joker to sweep the planet and scan for the Admiral’s team. Shortly after starting the scanning, they may well have struck gold. Joker got on the comm to Shepard,

“Commander, err, I’m picking up a distress beacon from the planet surface.” He said,

“Can we get the Normandy in for a closer look?” Shepard replied,

“Negative, Commander. The planet is constantly being bombarded by meteors, it’s like a freaking magnet for those things. Best I can do is find a landing zone near the beacon and drop you in the Mako. Picking you back up is going to be dicey, but we can deal with that later.” Joker said,

“Do it Joker. I’ll get Garrus and Wrex ready to join me.” Shepard told him, as he turned away from the Galaxy Map and headed down the ship to the Mako.

The Normandy flew fast into the atmosphere on the always shuddering planet, its surface an infinite sea of yellow silicate sand with a few rocky highlands. Joker’s expert flying was probably the only reason that the ship wasn’t struck by incoming meteors flung at the planet by the nearby gas giant: Ontamalca. Joker flew the Normandy in, and dropped the Mako out of the cargo bay for it to make a controlled descent to the planet surface. It would be seen from the outside as a high-risk manoeuvre, however with Joker flying the Normandy and Shepard controlling the Mako, it was routine, even as mundane as going to the head for a piss for them.

The Mako dropped out of the Normandy and immediately Shepard applied the vertical thruster in order to control the landing, Shepard was well versed in the workings of the Mako, and landed it perfectly.

Shepard sat in the Mako for a moment, the engine rumbling under his seat and checked the operational map. He quickly found the distress signal that Joker had mentioned in a large flat plain, he turned the Mako around and headed towards it.

After driving a few hundred meters, Shepard drove the Mako to the top of a small hill on the edge of the open flat. They could already see the tank that Kahoku’s team must have been using near the centre of the plain, and nothing else. Things looked too easy, and they had to find out what happened to the squad, so they proceeded with caution.

Shepard slowly drove the Mako towards the tank, the M29 “Grizzly”, and as they approached it was clear that there wasn’t a single survivor of Kahoku’s team. The mauled bodies of the elite Alliance soldiers littered the ground around the Grizzly, Wrex spoke up.

“Erm, Commander. This looks like a Thresher Maw nest.” He said with an unease Shepard was surprised to hear from the big krogan.

“Come on Wrex, whatever it is, we can handle it.” Shepard replied confidently. It was only moments later that Shepard knew his confidence was wildly misplaced. His conception of what a Thresher Maw was, was massively off the mark. He knew they were essentially giant worms, but he thought that meant they were more like big snakes. Wrex on the other hand, coming from Tuchanka, was more than aware of what Thesher Maws were, and why it would be best not to drive into one of their nests – it’s widely thought that Thesher Maw’s originated on the krogan homeworld.

Shepard drove the Mako closer to the distress beacon and the dead Alliance team, when the Thesher Maw showed its head. Literally. Thesher Maw’s live and burrow underground, and break through the surface in order to surprise and catch its prey.

The Thresher Maw’s head alone must have stood at around 50ft above the surface, it immediately faced the Mako, as it ground to a halt in a nervous stand-off that only lasted a second but felt as though it lasted forever. It recoiled its head, and spat its venom, a highly corrosive acid that would have cut through the Mako’s armour like a hot knife through butter. Shepard thought quickly and applied the accelerator whilst hitting the vertical thruster for a moment, essentially hopping over the incoming acid storm.

Although the Thresher Maw had surprised Shepard, that tactical element was now lost to it. Shepard trained the sights of the main cannon and machine gun onto it and fired. Although the blast and spray of machine gun fire hit the monster in its face, it barely seemed to make a scratch, but it retreated back underground.

“Do you think we scared it off?” Garrus asked, he like Shepard, was unaware of the hunting habits of the enormous beast they had just come into contact with.

“Ha! Turians. You’re all the same.” Wrex chuckled to himself, “One battle won and you think you’ve won the war. We’d better have eyes in the back of our heads while we’re sat here, it’s tunnelling around us.”

“Then we’d better not be sitting ducks.” Shepard said, driving forward as fast as he could. As he did, Garrus and Wrex looked at each other, Garrus speaking up first.

“What’s a duck?” he asked genuinely.

There was no time for an explanation, the Thresher Maw rose out of the ground again behind the Mako pausing for the split second before rearing back to spit again. Shepard fired at the Maw again, dodging the acid that started to dissolve the ground where it struck, and again the Maw retreated underground.

“Shepard, you’re doing the right thing if you want to take this thing down. Move and shoot. But I think we know what happened here. I’m not going to shy away from a fight, but this is pointless.” Wrex said,

“No. We need to take this thing down and find out what that beacon is. An Alliance team with the ear of a Rear Admiral wouldn’t just stumble in here without good reason.” Shepard replied.

The Maw rose again and Shepard shot it down again, and again. And again. The dance continued and it took a while, but the Mako’s guns soon wore down the Thresher Maw’s armour-like skin and flesh and finally toppled it. With the Thresher Maw dead, they could finally investigate what happened to the Alliance team.

Shepard, Garrus and Wrex left the Mako to check out the Alliance corpses and the distress beacon. Although it was clearly the Thresher Maw attack that had left the soldiers dead, it was the distress beacon that was intriguing.

“This is an Alliance beacon.” Shepard said, examining it closely,

“Alliance? So Kahoku’s team set it up, maybe when they were attacked?” Garrus replied,

“Impossible.” Wrex said with his worldly arrogance, “You saw how quickly that Maw attacked us, if they were already out of that tank, they wouldn’t have lasted 10 seconds out in the open. That beacon was already here.”

Shepard looked at the beacon more closely, although it was an Alliance beacon, it just didn’t seem right to him. The only thing he could do was report back to Admiral Kahoku on the Citadel the next time they were there.

With that, Shepard contacted the Normandy for a pick up. As they waited in the Mako, Shepard started thinking about where to look for Dr T’Soni next.