Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Liara T’Soni, I Presume?

Shepard, Kaidan and Wrex entered the mine-come-dig-site, and started down the long shaft to a large open cavern below. As they neared the end of the sloping shaft, they spotted a geth. It was taken down swiftly by the group, and they advanced onto a makeshift metal walkway around the rocky cavern.

As they walked around it, they saw a large white wall with a blue force-field blocking entry to the area behind it. It was old, almost certainly of Prothean origin, and a testament to their engineering capabilities that it was all still functioning 50,000 years after its construction. Nearby there was an elevator, and since there was nowhere to go but down, that’s where they went.

When they reached the lowest point of their elevator, they found themselves on another metal walkway leading to another elevator in front of another large white wall with a force-field embedded in it. They started to walk towards it, and a small group of geth drones rose from below, firing precisely towards the three of them. They were dispatched with quickly, and Shepard brushed some fragments of armour from his shoulder that had been damaged by the flying geth. After looking again for potential threats, they entered the second elevator and again descended.

As the elevator neared the bottom of the cavern, it started to grind and fizz with sparks. It was heavily damaged and the metal walkway below them was also damaged in places beyond repair. The elevator grind to a halt about 5 feet from the walkway, so they forced the doors open and jumped down.

They walked along a small part of the walkway, and jumped down to the section below through a hole that presumably had been blown apart by the geth. That’s when they heard a youthful sounding, female voice.

“Hello? Is anybody out there?” it called out.

They walked towards the voice and that’s when they first saw her. Dr Liara T’Soni. She was trapped behind the Prothean force field, and also in some kind of security bubble.

She called out again, in a panicked and desperate tone.

“Can you hear me out there? I’m trapped, I need help!”

“Liara T’Soni, I Presume?” Shepard said wryly, his reference to Dr Livingstone and Henry Stanley completely bypassing Wrex.

“Listen. This thing I am in is a Prothean security device. I cannot move, so I need you to get me out of it. All right?” Liara said, her composure returning at the sight of people as opposed to geth.

“How did you get trapped in there?” Shepard asked,

“I was exploring these ruins when the geth showed up, so I hid in here. Can you believe that? Geth! Beyond the Veil!” she said with genuine surprise. “I activated the tower’s defences. I knew the barrier curtains would keep them out. When I turned it on, I must’ve hit something I wasn’t supposed to. I was trapped in here. You must get me out. Please.”

“Your mother is working with Saren. Whose side are you on?” Shepard asked, cutting to the chase – and wanting to find out if he would be recruiting or arresting her once she was freed.

“What? I am not on anybody’s side!” she said, with disdain, “I may be Benezia’s daughter, but I’m nothing like her! I have not spoken to her in years. Please, just get me out of here.”

Shepard believed her. He didn’t know what it was about Dr T’Soni, but he just knew she was someone he could trust. There was an almost child-like innocence about her, and her shock at seeing the geth outside of the Perseus Veil was nothing short of genuine.

“We’ll get you out of there.” Shepard said confidently.

“Be careful, there is a krogan with the geth. They have been trying various ways of getting past the barrier curtain with no success. The curtains can only be deactivated on this side, so you’ll have to find some way past them.” She said, all the time willing them to find something.

Shepard nodded his head and the trio turned around, they knew there were multiple geth units and now knew there was a krogan of all things here as well. They went along the intact walkway to find a large open space with the remnants of the archaeologist’s camp swarming with geth – but no sign of the krogan.

They decided to take out as many of them as possible from the walkway, as they had pretty decent cover and the high ground. Shepard took out his sniper rifle, and told the other two to cover him while he took the geth out. This tactic worked well and before long the geth in the camp were all destroyed.

After looking around the site, they found a large mining laser, it had been deactivated and locked down with Alliance encryption. It was more likely that the geth hadn’t tried to use it, as their hacking skills would have easily bypassed the encryption on the laser. Shepard walked over to it, and activated it after going through the Alliance locks. The mining laser immediately turned on and blasted a large hole through the ground and into a level below Liara. The crashing walls and rubble around it was immense, and almost straight away after the laser finished burning through, the ground beneath their feet started to shake. Shepard and the others ran through into the prothean structure and activated a lift in its central shaft up to the level Liara was on.

Liara was still suspended in the bubble, and must have been oblivious to the commotion caused by the mining laser.

“How…how did you get through? I thought there was no way past the barrier!” she exclaimed,

“We blasted through with the mining laser.” Shepard replied shortly,

“Please, get me out of here before more geth arrive. That console over there should shut down the containment field.” Liara said. Shepard walked over to the console that Liara had nodded to, and shut down the field. She landed with a bump, got to her feet and brushed herself off.

“There is an elevator back in the centre of the tower. At least, I think it’s an elevator. It should take us out of here, we’d better go!” she said pleadingly, she was obviously a bit nervous, and was not strong enough to take on any geth.

The four of them walked over to the elevator-platform, and were about to activate it, Liara spoke up again.

“I still cannot believe all of this. Why would the geth come after me? Do you think Benezia is involved?” she asked, trying to put the pieces together.

“Saren’s looking for the Conduit. You’re a prothean expert. Obviously he wants you to help him find it.” Kaidan replied.

“The Conduit?” Liara replied, puzzled, “But I don’t know…” she was cut off by a loud rumbling and everything shaking, it was as if they were at the epicentre of an earthquake.

“What the hell was that?” Wrex asked in his usual candid manner. The four of them looked around the tower that they stood in, as if to expect it to topple around them.

“These ruins aren’t stable. That mining laser must have triggered a seismic event.” She said, having been at the dig site for a while before the geth showed up, it was safe to say that she knew about how far they could push the mining laser before it could trigger something like this. “We have to hurry. The whole place it caving in!” she said with urgency as she went to the elevator’s console to send it up, all the while, the shaking and rumbling continued. Shepard, activated his comm to the Normandy to get an evac.

“Joker! Get the Normandy airborne and lock in on my signal. On the double, mister!” he yelled down the comm.

“Aye, aye, Commander. Secure and aweigh, ETA 7 minutes.” He replied as the comm cut off.

“That’s not much margin for error,” Kaidan said, cautiously,

“If we die in here, I’ll kill him.” Wrex said in a much more uncouth way.

The elevator started to ascend, all the while the four thinking it could stop, or fall at any point. Their luck was in for now, it carried on going up and got to the top level where they could make their escape.

As the elevator stopped, they were greeted by a squad of geth troops, headed by a krogan battlemaster. They marched towards them, blocking the only exit. They didn’t fire, which suggested they wanted Liara alive. Shepard motioned to the others to hold fire for the moment, to see what would unfold. The krogan battlemaster spoke to them briefly,

“Surrender. Or don’t, that would be more fun.” He said, with a slightly perverse smile on his face, he wanted the bloodshed.

“We don’t have time to deal with this idiot. Charge!” Shepard shouted, as the others drew their weapons.

“Ha! I like your attitude.” The krogan said, as he too drew his shotgun. Wrex took on the battlemaster himself, knowing that he would be more than a match for the other krogan. Shepard told Kaidan to stick with Liara and cover her, he didn’t want her hurt or killed before they could find out what she knew. Shepard ran up the slope of the elevator-platform and took out the 2 geth guarding the exit in 2 quick blasts from his assault rifle to the head, one of the other geth had followed the battlemaster and set up a shield, Kaidan used his tech overload on it and it was gone as quickly as it had been set up, Shepard then sprinted towards it and barged it down to the floor with the butt of his rifle, before unloading a few rounds into its chest. The last geth had gone around the other side of the elevator and was quickly taken out by Wrex with one blast from his shotgun, and near point-blank range.

The battlemaster however was still standing after tussling with Wrex for a moment, and Shepard went behind him while the battlemaster was still concentrating on Wrex. Shepard fired his assault rifle into him until his gun overheated, it proved to be more than enough as the battlemaster fell to the floor in a heap.

With that they all ran to the exit, however it was still blocked off by the large barrier curtains. Everything around them was shaking even more than before, it’s possible that the gunfight had only served to make things worse. They frantically looked around the barrier for some way through it, or for a console, but there was nothing to be found. Another large reverberation shook everything around them, it was the largest shake yet, and the barrier flickered before deactivating. The seismic activity had cut all the power from the prothean tower, and they had just been granted their escape.

Shepard made sure the other 3 ran out before him, pushing them past him shouting at them to run. They all started running up round their metal walkway that they had come in on, as rocks and boulders started falling in the massive cavern around them. They would have to be fast but they would have to rely on one last bit of luck. As they ran around the walkway to the exit, they were constantly bombarded my small rocks and stones, the occasional large rock flying past them to the bottom of the dig site. As they neared the exit, an enormous boulder fell onto the walkway behind them, and it started to be ripped from its supports. The four of them reached the dig site’s exit shaft, so they would not have to rely on the walkway, they made their final sprint up the shaft as it all started to collapse around them. As the dig site was disintegrating behind them, it created a massive black cloud of hot debris, it was starting to seem more likely that the dig site was not just inside a rocky hill, but a formerly inactive volcano. The scalding hot cloud was catching up fast with Shepard as the other three had made it out.

Shepard was running on adrenaline and fear of being cooked alive, as the black cloud caught up with, and enveloped him. The others were catching their breath on the ramp outside the dig site’s entrance, looking up to the door to see if Shepard had made it. A massive burst of debris and dust shot out of the entrance, and in amongst it was Shepard. He ran out and bent over double, coughing and spluttering. Just as he made it out, the Normandy hovered overhead, just in time to pick them up before any lava started to spew from the site.