Daring Rescue: Part 2
she called out as she wrestled away from the husk as it dropped - her skin crawling.
Solveig wasn't about to be caught off guard again. There was a mixed feeling of embarrassment and fear, and as she glanced over at Zenn, his rifle still in hand she felt a gratitude and respect. Grateful for the two of them."How is that possible?"
She asked, breathing heavily, crossing the room to get back to her team-mates - even if she felt smaller, and her posture reflected the scare she'd just had. She still had hold of the data pad. "It's gotta be some sort of black op. Some kind of experimentation gone array."
Kysar said, voicing an earlier thought. Putting a hand on Sol's shoulder he tried giving a reassuring nod ok."One thing's for certain, we're going to have to scuttle the ship."
Looking between the two, the Turian shook his head. ”Hell, I don't even know about turning in any evidence we find."
Kysar's brow furrowed in frustration. Truth of the matter was that this wasn't his mission, nor were they his people. ”]At least that's my thoughts Shadow but none of this is my call and I'll back you with whatever way you decide to move forward."
Zenn did not say anything. His mind was filled with questions. How did a husk get on board? Were there more of them? What Kysar was saying sort of made sense, but who in their right mind would ever screw around with reaper tech after everything that had happened? And the distress signal. Was that part of some twisted plan as well? "No."
Zenn stated plainly. "There could still be survivors. If not, then at least there should be some answers. Whatever the case, I'm not leaving until I know what happened here."
His head snapped to Solveig, then down to the datapad she held. There must be something in there. He needed to see it."Wraith."
Zenn started, ready to ask her to read it or hand it over before he glanced back at her face. The fear in eyes from what just transpired reminded him that while he was on the warpath, this wasn't just about him. His team was his first priority. "...You okay?"
He asked instead.
A trembling hand passed the data pad to Zenn. "Yes. Thank you. Of course. I'm... all good here,"
she lied, which was something she was terrible at. "We should keep moving, if anything else is here... They know that we are too now."
Zenn nodded to Solveig and took the datapad. She didn't look or sound okay, but he didn't want to add any more stress and push the subject. She was right, they needed to move, but which way?
On a whim, he pointed to the door to the left. “Through here."
He said, heading to the exit away from the husk.
As they walked, he satiated his curiosity and read the datapad
["I knew it! I knew that maniac Caeh would be the death of us! I warned the captain over and over not to listen to him, that the device was dangerous. We should have left it on Kaddi, but no. "It would be our secret weapon. This would be our moment of glory!" My only solace is knowing those bosh’tets went first. We might be paying for their arrogance, but they already have."]
It was an immediate relief to leave that room, and Solveig listened carefully to the words from the datapad. ”Ah,"
she sighed."Secret weapons... Device... Glory."
Solveig shook her head disapprovingly.So why was CAT6 here?
Kysar thought. Has some other organisation caught wind of this? Or was this Caeh in cahoots?
The Turian had heard of Kaddi, a former colony of the Quarian's turned Geth world. Though he'd never heard of anything significant being discovered or have happened there before. Maybe the Reapers had churned up something ancient on the planets surface.
Kysar shook his head, regardless, at least they had some info about what went down. "Shadow, do you know this 'Caeh' character?""A fine line between bravery and stupidity."
Zenn grumbled as he tossed the datapad aside. ”and it sounds like this captain fit the latter. But that doesn't explain why there are still husks here. The crucible destroyed them. At the very least none should be functional."
Kysar then asked if Zenn knew the quarian named in the log. Caeh. Unfortunately, Zenn shook his head. "Name doesn't sound familiar. But judging from that they were someone of importance. If I had to guess, I’d say someone who worked closely with this device and either got arrogant or fell victim to indoctrination. I’m sure there’s something here that will tell us for sure."
The Turian frowned and his stomach churned. It all felt too blind and unknown, stumbling through the ship with only god knows what around the corner. The three of them alone couldn’t hope to clear a full ship of hostiles.“So what’s the plan here Shadow? Are you familiar with the layout of this type of ship?"
Kysar’s hands dropped behind his back as he begun to pace around. Thinking back to earlier on when Zenn had mentioned the goal was to save anyone who was left, the Turian queried. ”As for survivors, anyway we can get the power turned back on? We need some way to be able to pinpoint anyone who’s left. Could we get comms up or do you guys track bio-signatures of crew? I’m a pretty confident guy but even I’m not sure about taking on a whole ships worth of enemies.""I do not posses any hacking skills beyond sabotaging,"
Sol clarified. "I might suggest finding an alternate path through the ship,"
she said as she ran her hand across the wall, as if searching for a weak point in the material. "I wonder if there is a way to access anything else on board with the datapad... We know it is working."
Zenn let out a sigh and leaned back against one of the counters. Kysar was making excellent points. With every step they were walking further into danger, and any answers had just created more questions. Not to mention the three of them searching an entire frigate would certainly take longer than they had.“If anyone is trying to use comms, it’s not coming through. Otherwise our omni-tools would be going crazy. Bio-signatures are kinda out of the question since. Well. This is where we’d normally find them."
He stated and gestured to the trashed med bay they stood in. "Datapad wouldn't do us much good. It runs on its own power source independent of the ship, and without the ship's power there isn't a network for it to connect to. Speaking of power, our best bet would be engineering, and as luck would have it we are headed that way…"
Zenn placed his hand under his chin as he gave the situation some serious thought. He was going about this all wrong. Instead of jumping in head first as the rescuer, he had to think if he was a survivor. What would he do?“Okay."
He spoke up after a few seconds. “Our first destination will be the armory. It’s actually not far from here, and if my ship was being boarded or overtaken, it's where I would hold up. If no one is there, we finish our route to engineering and see what the damage is. If we can get the power restored it should be enough to help us pinpoint the survivors, or at the very least call for backup."
Zenn pushed himself away from the counter and took his rifle in his hands once more. ”Again, I won't hold it against any of you if you wish to return to the shuttle. I'm the one who can't let this go. I won't make you follow me into madness.""Just so we're clear,"
stepping away from the wall, Solveig brought herself to Zenn's side. ”]Not going back to the shuttle, Shadow.
“I volunteered to be here."
She looked back to Kysar too. "Besides, starting to think we work well together."
She steadied herself, already feeling calmer from moments before. "And by the looks of this place, you might need me to open another door."
From behind his helmet, Kysar smiled at Sol, it was nice to see her coming out of her shell. Turning the Zenn he reiterated. ”And I’ve already told both of you that I can’t fly that silly human contraption. So y’know, gotta protect the only guy who can."
Glancing at Solveig, he shrugged. ”No offence Awks."
The woman was right of course, despite some mishaps, the three gelled well as a team. Together they had taken down three enemy shuttles and navigated through a minefield of debris. Whatever was ahead, Kysar had confidence in each of them to see it through.
And yet, his stomach still churned. A fear had been planted all the way back in Africa, one that had only grown with each encounter. Galactic victory over the Reapers had been costly, with a large power vacuum forming as a result. Evil men such as Banes had used advanced Reaper tech to launch their own bid for power and now it was happening all over again.
Turning back to Zenn, the Turian’s tone switched, dropping into a serious pitch. ”Shadow, I’m with you on finding out what happened and trying to save anyone who’s alive in this mess but after that, please think about destroying what we found here."
Kysar turned away from both of them. ”In the wrong hands, or hell, maybe even in the right ones, something like this could have dire consequences for your people and what’s left of the galaxy."“Yes please."
Zenn whispered in response to Sol’s door comment. His face immediately turned red upon realizing the thought that was supposed to remain in his head had escaped into words. ”I mean yes! I too think we work well together and am pleased you are sticking with me! Thank you both."
He said genuinely meaning it, but avoiding eye contact with his teammates.
When Kysar brought up the subject of destroying whatever they found, Zenn was able to recompose himself and faced him as he answered. "Agreed. I don't know what this crew found, but if it's reaper tech, it has to be destroyed. No matter the cost."
The Turian, feeling a small sense of relief wash over him, shouldered his rifle, giving Zenn a polite nod. "Lead on Shadow. I’m right behind you."
This was difficult for Solveig. The talk of destroying everything, she couldn't say she disagreed with them, but there was a cloying feeling, the Alliance Soldier in her knew it had to be reported, that something had to be shared. The Alliance had to be informed of this.Don't they? I should... But...
She'd deal with it later, and, confused, she pushed onwards. ”Let's get to the armourory." That didn't sound right "Uh. The army." Neither did that "The place!"
Moving further along, the team would find the next room less horrific than the med bay, but still not a comforting sight. In the corners it would appear to be a cargo hold, with storage crates stacked to the ceiling, though a few had been knocked over. Yet along the walls several rows of bunk beds, some knocked over as well, but the ones still standing were placed almost side by side with barely enough room for a quarian to fit between them. And unfortunately, this room, too, had blood and bodies scattered about, but not to the same extent as the med bay. Unlike all the rooms before, this one only had one other doorway to their right. In front of it were three husks shambling around in the darkness. Somehow they had not heard the shot from the previous encounter, but as soon as the team’s lights spotted them, they cranked their heads to look at the team, and let out a filtered shriek from their cracked yet intact masks.
Ready for the husks this time, the trio lined up. Kysar in the middle, Zenn to the left and Sol on the right. Zenn fired first, placing a bullet right between the center husk’s eyes. It dropped to the ground with its arms outstretched and its claws caught the legs of the other two husks tripping them up. Unfortunately, they fell to the ground just as Kysar and Sol fired, causing them to miss their targets.
Pulling themselves back up, the husks started to run at the trio again, but both were quickly dispatched. One gunned down from Kysar’s rifle, the other meeting the same fate as its companion by another round from Zenn’s sniper. Sol, too, landed her shot, though she was a second too late and hit the husk Kysar had just killed.“Alright. I think we’re getting the hang of this."
Zenn said, impressed with how effectively they cleared the room.
Kysar nodded in agreement, popping his thermal clip and chambering in a fresh one. ”Reckon there's anything of use in these crates Shadow?""They have no business moving that fast,"
Solveig said, rolling her shoulder and catching her breath.“Well, given this is a civilian overflow, probably just spare parts, tools, and other standard equipment. Though some of these should be stuffed with nutrient paste if you’re hungry?"
Zenn said with a shrug.
Something had caught Solveig's attention, she recalled the last rooms and hallways, almost everytime, there had been a trail of blood through the exit. As if something had continued through. The husks, at least, remained in one spot. ”Uhm, Shadow... Venator,"
she said as she shone her flashlight against the next doorway. "Don't you think that looks... Like something has travelled?"
Kysar's stomach rumbled at the mention of food. He made a mental note to grab any pocket sized dextro bits he found along the way.
Turning his attention to Sol, the Turian shone his flashlight along the ground and up towards the door. She was right, while there were random markings, there was also a direction flow to a large amount of the stains. ”Yeah Wraith, you're right."
Zenn hadn’t been paying much attention to the trail, focusing more on the enemies and immediate threats. But now that Sol mentioned it, there absolutely was a trail led from room to room. "I think you’re onto something, Wraith. We need to stay on high alert. Whatever made those… Well I don’t want it getting the drop on us.""We should hurry,"
Solveig said, ”we can't allow it to get the drop on any survivors either."
The next room looked similar to the med bay, both in layout and desolation. The key differences were the lack of any beds, and the large device near the back wall. It was clearly not the one they were looking for, as it was quarian in design. It was also completely destroyed, covered in scorch marks and even melted in some places. Whatever this device was used for, it clearly failed. The exits were both sealed off, but the one head of them was not blocked with the blast doors. Instead a makeshift barricade of crates and other various furniture covered the doorway.
The final feature that really drew their attention was the massive pool of blood in front of the device. It may not have seemed odd after what they had witnessed before, but it definitely stood out once they noted the lack of any bodies in the room.
Image5"I thought the bad juju couldn't get any worse,"
Solveig muttered as she observed the room. "Device,"
she repeated, thinking back to the datapad as she looked at the console in the centre.
Zenn walked up to the broken device, carefully looking it over. "This is a containment projector. It generates a field of energy meant to hold something almost in perfect stasis. These are highly experimental. I’ve never seen one on a military vessel before, they’re usually almost exclusively used on science vessels. They wouldn’t move one here unless they were transporting something very unstable. And clearly it wasn’t enough…""Here I was thinking they found some sort of device. Looks like instead they've found some sort of creature."
Kysar had shaken his head so much that his neck was getting tired. ”A creature that can turn Quarian's into husks? Or is there more to this?"
Looking over at the make shift barrier, some of the items looked on the heavy side of things. ”Wraith, you wanna put that arm to some more use and dismantle that thing? Shadow and I will stand back and provide overwatch."
Solveig nodded - time was still of the essence. The barricade was made up of all kinds of items that were wedged tightly into the door frame. Worryingly, more of the trail of blood was underneath it all.
As with the entrance to the ship, the woman handled it with ease, pushing the items into the side - the strength behind her arm caused the boxes to ripple and flatten. Much like someone might do to a soft drink can.
She left enough space for them all to pass through. ”Ready when you are."
Zenn nodded to Kysar and stood in position with him, watching carefully as Solvieg pulled apart the makeshift barricade. The first instance she crushed a box one handed, Zenn had to force himself to stay focused and push away the feelings that had previously left him flustered. Given the atmosphere and everything they had gone through, he was able to remain alert and in the moment. Everyone, in fact, was taking extra caution and minding their surroundings thanks to Sol’s observation of the bloodstains. Which is why when she finished, all of them could feel the rumbling in the floor.“Wraith! Get away from there!"
Zenn practically screamed. Sol was able to quickly reposition back with the others just before the barricade blew apart. All the items of the barricade flew across the room as they were smashed aside, revealing what it was meant to keep in.
Towering in the remains of the barricade was a monstrous amalgamation of steel and several quarians fused together. Its hands mutated into large grotesque claws dripping with blood. The massacred crew, the completely smashed in doors, even how parts of the ship secured into the floor were ripped from their mounts, it all made sense now. It may not have been made from turians or krogans, but the trio knew all too well the destructive capabilities of a brute. And they had just set it free.
Going against a brute in such close quarters was basically suicide. Even krogan were at a disadvantage against these things. But in that moment Zenn didn’t feel terror or fear. He did not see a hulk of death, but instead the beast that had taken countless lives aboard this ship. Without hesitation he opened his omni-tool and performed a scan on the brute. It transferred the data in real time to all three party members, giving them a holographic overlay that highlighted weak points in the brutes armor. Now they knew where to hit it.
This was a problem, Sol thought as she assessed the surroundings. She had only a moment to do it. To act on the intrusive thought that occurred as soon as her omni-tool blipped with information. How would they be able to hit that thing if it moved even half as fast as what she expected it would. How would they avoid its dangerous attacks?"Got an idea,"
she said before she burst off. ”Venator, get ready with those biotics."
Then, she moved to the wall, running as fast as she could with such a short distance. She leapt, the attention of the brute was on her.
She'd been feeling stronger lately, invigorated, and it came to the surface now. She got height for her next jump from the wall - pushing off with her foot to launch into the air. Towards the brute.
She hadn't thought about this enough, this was something Zenobia would do. Hell, maybe the Turian's energy had rubbed off on her, because it was not befitting of an Alliance soldier that was to be sure. The fall felt like it was in slow motion, and her heart raced as she landed on the things neck, it's entire back was adorned with all manner of shrapnels so it wasn't exactly comfortable, but she firmly wrapped her legs over the shoulders, a foot wedged under each of its arms and she curled her bionic arm around its neck, pulling it upwards until the thing was still, locked, and open. She could feel it fighting against her - they would have only seconds before she'd need to move."Now Venator! Shadow! Take the shot!"
As stunning as what Sol had done was, Kysar needed to focus. He had faced brutes before, during the war. Tough and hardy fuckers that never came down easy.
A blue hue ignited, emanating from all over the Turian’s body. Roaring, he fired a warp from hand right at the beast, hitting it square in the chest.
The brute flailed its arms in the air, trying with all its might to reach Solveig, but its mass betrayed it. Its shoulders were too thick for it to reach its head and pull Solveig off. It continued to focus on Solveig, unphased by Kysar’s warp attack, but the results spoke for themselves. The armor plating began to burn and disintegrate and expose more weak points. While its arms waved wildly back and forth, its legs hardly moved from their position. The armor that once protected its knees had turned to dust. The tactical scan identified this and immediately notified Zenn and Kysar of the opening. “Venator! Its knees! I’ve got left!"
Zenn called out. He lined up the shot, exhaled, then fired. The bullet ripped through the brute’s left knee. It fell to the side, as its left leg buckled."Hurry Venator,"
Sol called out through gritted teeth as the brute flailed at her, she couldn't hold it for much longer, but if they could get both legs, she knew she could try to floor it.
They didn’t have to tell Kysar twice, without a thought the Turian brandished his rifle and fired at the right leg. The rounds sheared straight through and the beast began to collapse.
Even as it lay on the ground, the brute continued to desperately swing its arms up to snatch Solveig or at least a chuck of her. It was no use. She had an even better hold and position on it now, and with its legs out of the equation, it couldn’t exactly try anything else. The once unstoppable force was now completely helpless; And Zenn had the perfect shot. His reticle was lined up with the brute’s unarmored head. One last shot would put an end to its rampage. Zenn pulled the trigger.
Zenn took his eye from the scope and looked to the side of the gun. The indicator showed that it had overheated. Somehow during this whole mission, he never once thought to load in a new thermal clip…Oops.
With Sol on top and the beast on the ground, the margin for error had increased. Too much for Kysars liking. Returning the rifle to its place on his back, he approached the thing as it thrashed hopelessly against Wraith’s iron grip.
Forming a tightly wound fist, Kysar blade lit up around his forearm. Electricity crackled as the Turian moved into position over the brute, watching as the warp chewed through the armour like butter, stripping away the protection from the chest. ”Time to die fucker!"
Bringing down the blade, Kysar stuck it right in the middle of his chest.
Blade through its chest, Solveig could feel the brute giving out, she practically felt it take in its last breath - there was surely nowhere for a breath to go now that Kysar had stabbed it straight through. A death groan rattled out of its maw.
Still, she couldn't resist -- as she released her arm from the neck of the brute, she brought it back swinging against its jaw, clapping it clean off with a spray of blood and bone.
She too, had no breath, and as it dropped properly she stumbled forward, her eyes wide as an unfamiliar sound rattled in her own chest. A quiet and short, yet unmistakable, laugh. "Keelah… We actually killed it!"
Zenn blurted out, unable to contain his excitement. "Wraith, that was amazing! That was like one of those martial arts holovids! And Venator! You've got biotics that would make an asari jealous! I mean wow!"
He may have been going overboard, but who could blame him? They had just taken down one of the strongest husk variants with little planning or preparation beforehand. Yet they still managed to work together flawlessly, as if their minds had become one. Zenn had not worked this well with a team since his days with the ghosts. "Couldn't have…"
Sol breathed. "Without your…"
She breathed in and out again, placing a hand on her chest."Tactical blippy scans…"
She swallowed down more air and stood back upright."I have to say too. You are a remarkable sniper…" “Ha! Spirits, that was wild. I’ve never seen one of these bastards go down so quick. First rounds on me when we get back."
Extending a hand to Sol to help her properly stand up, Kysar remarked. ”Hell, maybe we could clear this whole ship together."
Sol took his hand and nodded in appreciation, placing her other hand at the small of her back and stretching. ”Happy to fight with you Venator but... Respectfully... No more please."
The urge for Zenn to call for a group hug was strong; especially with his two teammates standing next to each other. However, it was still too soon to really celebrate. They still had a few rooms to clear, though he seriously doubted whatever they held would pose a threat after this."Yeah, I think I'll pass on taking on any more of those. After this, I hope to never see a husk of any kind again. Though I will be taking you up on that drink! Probably going to need more than one."
Kysar popped the thermal clip of his rifle once more, shooting Zenn an obvious look as he did so. The Turian also cleared his throat, hoping his message was clear.“Ready to move when you two are.""That is…" probably the first time colleagues have invited me for drinks… ”a great idea."
Solveig said quietly, and appreciatively. "But um, yes... Uhh, let's finish this. Come on,"
Solveig readied her rifle, and began back in the direction of the barricade.“Oh. Right. Duh."
Zenn said with embarrassment. He ejected the thermal clip of his sniper and loaded a new one in. "Ready."
Across the threshold of the ruined barricade was the armory. While there was the unfortunately now familiar sight of death in the room, there were also signs of a fierce battle. Bullet holes could be seen on every inch of the wall, every body was clutching a weapon and wearing armor over their suits. It made sense now why the brute was damaged before they faced it, it first had to go through this group. The weapons lockers have been knocked over, even tossed across the room and lodged into the walls. All of them have been smashed open save for one directly to their left. There are two workbenches in the room, one in the center, and one against the right wall. On the bench against the wall, a datapad has managed to remain intact. And there isn’t a body laying next to it! Only one other exit is in this room, and it has been sealed tight with the blast doors. There is severe damage to it, no doubt from the brute attempting to escape, but it still holds strong with no way to budge it.
Whatever brief reprieve she felt from defeating the brute, was all but washed away when they walked into the next room. The scene of the struggle was horrible to look at.
Her eyes tracked the room and her gaze landed on the datapad in the center. Solveig shook her head. “Uhhhh... yeah, not this time boys,"
she said before directing her attention elsewhere to what appeared to be the only locked weapons locker in the room.
After a quick sleight of hand, it was off its hinges.
Inside there was a heavy weapon laid out. Some kind of projector that Sol was unfamiliar with, still she picked it up and held it out. "Might be useful."
Zenn surveyed the armory when his eyes locked onto the datapad. The one before had given them insight, maybe this one also had something useful? He walked over to the bench and read it aloud for the others.
"There may still be survivors! If we can just find that maintenance hatch we might be able to reach them!"
["We took the final vote today. It was unanimous. We’re going to destroy the device. We cannot wait for help that isn’t coming. We refuse to go mad as our food and oxygen slowly diminishes. We have accepted our deaths. At least this way they will mean something.
We can’t make a push for the device with that “thing” still roaming the halls, so we’ve devised a plan. My team will set a trap, rig the controls to the blast door in the armory to overload. All we have to do is give it a bit of power from our omni-tools and it will trigger them to close. If it triggers prematurely, we can still try to escape via the maintenance hatch. Meanwhile, Leena will take the main force and clear a path to engineering. If all goes according to plan, we will rendezvous with her and begin the main assault.
I pray this message will never be read. But if someone has found it, it means my team has failed. I beg of you. Destroy the device. Destroy the Roma if you have to. It cannot survive."]
Kysar had wandered off around the room as the other two made their beelines. After listening to Zenn read the tablet out loud he began a thorough search. Quickly ducking a look under each workbench, he found nothing. I suppose if the hatch was that obvious, these Quarians might have made it out.
The Turians brow furrowed as his lips pursed to the side. Where could it be? What’s out of place? Incessantly tapping his foot, he shone his flashlight all around the room.“Aha!"
Off in the far corner of the room, lay a pair of lockers in a heap. They had fallen in an odd matter, for if they had been simply knocked over, they’d be lying in a slanted position.
Getting in for a closer look, Kysar leaned over the lockers and managed to squeeze his claw between them and the wall. As he stretched his talon down, he could feel a grate.“Hey Awks, over here, I’m gonna need that arm of yours again."
He said, waving over Sol."I'm going to drill you both at the gym after this, you know,"
Solveig said as she approached the spot and got to work in clearing the space.
Sure enough, there was a hatch.
Kysar chuckled. "Why work hard when you can work smart?"
The Turian turned to Zenn. "Speaking of, Shadow, you’re up." "I might not always be here to open doors for you, then your smarts will be tested,"
Solveig smirked.“You’re going to what?"
Zenn asked Sol before he turned and saw her lift the first locker out of the way. "Oh…"
Zenn could feel his face start to burn again. He quickly hid his face behind the datapad in his hands and gently started hitting his forehead.
Get your act together, Zenn! She might have caught you off guard the first time, but the rest is on you. This is not the time to be distracted by tall beautiful strong women.
He took a long deep breath, then lowered the datapad revealing he was completely fine. Kysar then asked for his help, which he was more than happy to provide. “So the thing with hatches like these."
Zenn started before igniting his omni-blade and stabbing into the latch. He then simply grabbed the handle and pulled it open. "They don’t have any sort of reinforcements."
With the hatch open, he took hold of the ladder and slowly climbed down. "Oh and watch your head down here. These were built for quarians and we usually don’t reach six feet."
Solveig blinked over at Zenn, about to ask him if he was feeling okay. She did worry if he was really healed from his injury on the last mission, she knew that Quarian's were prone to infection, but she didn't think a fever would be this sporadic. Maybe it was the concussion? Soon enough as it started, he was fine. "After you Venator - gents first."
Kysar groaned. At 6 '5, he was the tallest member of the team, not to mention the fact that he was also quite wide for a Turian and packed on some serious kilos. ”Fine, but if I get stuck, you’re pushing me."
Climbing down into the cramped vent, the Turian squeezed his way through, grumbling as he once again cursed another species' ship design."If you get stuck, I could always open fire,"
Solveig said with a deadpan delivery and a shrug as she peered over the vent and looked down, watching as Kysar headed disappeared. ”Like a fish in a hole."
Soon enough she began her own descent not too long after him. Small spaces were not a bother to her. She glanced over her shoulder. "That would get you moving, no?"
Kysar gave Sol a very sarcastic laugh as the trio squeezed into the maintenance tunnel. They quickly found that Zenn was not exaggerating about how cramped it would be. It was a tight fit for the group. Sol and Kysar had to hunch down the whole way, and Kysar nearly did get stuck at one point. After heading through the tunnel for a few minutes, they came across another hatch. Zenn was able to ‘unlock’ it just as before and push it open. As he climbed up the ladder, however, several lights all shined directly on him; with an equal amount of guns attached to them.“Whoa hey friendly! We’re friendly!"
He spoke up.“We?"
An unknown filtered voice asked. ”Alright, all of you out of the shaft. Slowly."
Zenn pulled himself up, then motioned for the others to do the same.
At the top of the ladder, they would find themselves in a small hallway. They were currently surrounded by four quarians, all with weapons trained on them. One of them had stepped forward; a female quarian wearing armor with the Migrant Fleet insignia on it. She looked very similar to Zenn, only red.“Identify yourselves and tell me what you’re doing on my ship! Now!"
She ordered.“I'm Zenn’Valin vas Konesh. We're not looters or anything. My friends and I came here to rescue you."“Vas Konesh? Wow. Didn’t think the fleet would send you crazy bosh’tets after us."
She stated with a chuckle, then signaled for the rest of the quarians to lower their weapons. ”]I’m Chief Security Officer Leena’Razna vas Roma, but these days I’m acting captain. Not my cup of tea, but I’d say it’s an improvement after what the last one put us through… Tell me. Did you happen to come across another group of us? They were supposed to meet us here."
Lowering his arms to his side, Kysar looked between his two team mates. Awks wasn't one for speeches and Zenn had had that weird moment back there just before the vents."They err... I'm sorry, they didn't make it."
She'd only just found herself somewhat accustomed to speaking to Kysar and Zenn without hiccup, and then that new found confidence went right back in the box in the presence of other strangers. She was glad to have found people alive but...
Solveig decided to leave this one to them. "Damn it!"
Leena cursed. ”Well did they at least cage that brute? Not that it matters, I guess. We don't have the numbers to take back engineering now, even without having to worry about that thing blindsiding us.""They did manage to cage it but we stumbled across it."
Kysar scratched the back of his head awkwardly. ”We managed to take it out though, so it won't be a problem going forward. What's the situation in engineering?""Wait. You killed that thing? No fucking way!"
Leena was genuinely thrilled by this news. The other quarians looked taken aback as well. ”I assume you've seen the status of the Roma? The husks, the fact we're stranded in fucking space! Yeah, the thing that caused it is in engineering, guarded by who knows how many husks. We were going to use high explosive charges to blow the damn thing, but we'd need to get close to it first. Hence why we needed the brute gone, and more men. If you all are badass enough to take that brute down, we might still be able to pull this off! Assuming you'll help us?"
Solveig glanced sidelong at Zenn with a raised brow. Surely there couldn't be any more?
she thought. She gave him a nod anyway, they'd come this far, might as well go the whole way.
Kysar sighed, slightly annoyed at the lack of information from the officer. He had meant the specifics of what's inside the engineering but it was obvious no-one had reconned the room. "Do we have any info that could help us? How does the device work? Is it connected to the husks? Anyway we can recon the room or do we just have to kick down the doors and hope for the best?"
The Turian had a million other questions loaded and ready to go but he did his best to bite his tongue and wait for an answer."Don't know the specifics, but from what we've gathered the Device itself functions similar to one of those Dragon's Teeth, except this one seems to have greater control on the husks. They seem drawn to it. First time it activated it wiped half the crew, turned them into husks, then sabotaged the ship.""As for engineering, I can give you a layout of the room, but we don't know how many are in there. We evacuated shortly after the device went off the second time."
Zenn raised and eyebrow at Leena's second statement. ”Second time? How did a reaper device trigger after the crucible?"
Leena became visibly uncomfortable. The question Zenn asked bothered her, but she still obliged him. “We... Reactivated it."
While she had no words, she couldn't stay quiet. Sol let out a small laugh of disbelief, her fist clenched into a ball and she closed her eyes. Doing the best she could to bite her tongue.
She'd fought on the front lines as an N7 to bring the reapers down. I still have the fucking scars, she thought. And here they were, playing with reaper tech as if the lessons hadn't just been learned. "Fuck,"
she ended up muttering through a clenched jaw. “Why?"
She added, breaking the tension. Her stare had darkened. "We didn't have any other choice! Hell it wasn't even our idea! None of this was!"
Leena turned and punched the wall, the anger in her voice felt like it was directed at herself more than anyone else. "Every bit of equipment in this place was fried. Even all our eezo was drained. The only thing we got working was a short range comm beacon. I couldn't even tell you how long we waited until someone finally answered. We tried to explain our situation, but they just told us it was too dangerous. They couldn't send help. Then they suggested if the device had taken so much power, then maybe it had stored it and we could use it to power the ship. So we moved it from the lab to here. Hooked it up. And wouldn't you know it, the thing turned right back on but instead of powering the ship, it just destroyed our comms and brought the fucking husks back."
They'd lost enough, she thought, and held back any more words she had to berate their choices. What would it do, really? Save for waste time? She also thought about the datapad they had found. About using it as a weapon, the tone there. She reserved her thoughts, she didn't know if Kysar would."Let's finish the job then,"
was all she could manage."This is the type of shit I was telling you about Zenn."
Kysar's frustration was too much to contain, though his threshold for keeping opinions to himself was never quite so high to begin with. ”Don't matter whose hands this falls into, it's always 'we had no choice' or 'someone else made us do it'. Bullshit you had no choice. Some of your comrades got nabbed trying to get to you and now we're here."
The Turian raised his hand to his face, massaging his temples in an attempt to calm down. ”I mean it's Reaper tech for fucks sake. Spirits, and now your crew is dead and for what? I mean -""Venator,"
Solveig expressed from behind him, reaching out to touch his arm. She was as angry on the inside as he was outside.
She couldn't even tell him it was okay, or ask him if he was okay. Fucking obviously not.
She looked to Zenn for guidance, for the next move, for him to step in."Hey!"
Leena stomped toward Kysar getting right up in his face, or as much as she could, being almost a foot shorter than him. ”You think I wanted any of this? If it had been up to me, that thing would have never been on board in the first place! If you want to blame anyone, blame that ax'kah Caeh’Fegar!"
While Solveig tried to calm down Kysar, Zenn pushed himself between him and Leena to try and separate the two. "Caeh. We read about him in one of the datapads. Whoever wrote it seemed to share your grievance about him and the previous captain."
Leena took a step back and focused on her breathing, trying not to let her anger get the better of her. "Yeah. Head of our science team. He's the one who found the thing on Kaddi. Had it contained and transported here for 'study'. Day and night he spent tinkering with it, all the while on the holo with that salarian buddy of his. The two were convinced it could be used to override reaper control of husks. That somehow we could use it against the reapers. None of us bought it; except for the captain…"
As Leena continued, her voice began to tremble. Fighting tears behind her mask. When we got the call to come to Earth, I begged him to toss it out the airlock... He dismissed me and told everyone to man their stations and prepare for battle... We barely even got out here when... Well you know the rest... After that we just did what we could to survive, but…""But it just got more people killed."
Zenn finished for her, shaking his head. ”And so you decided you'd make sure no one made the same mistakes and destroy the device even at the cost of your own lives."
Still holding Kysar's arm, something that was said didn't sit right, ”wait…"
Solveig stepped forward from the back. ”A Salarian?"
she asked intensely."Who is the Salarian?" "I don't know. Caeh and I weren't on good terms, so I never got the guy's name. Never asked, honestly. Why?"
Leena asked at the line of inquiry. Of all the info she gave, she felt that was the least relevant. But Zenn seemed to be on the same page as Sol."Because the only reason we're here is because the Salarian Union let us."
Zenn stated. ”They have the whole area locked off due to potential hazards... That call you got, the one that told you to hook up the device. They wouldn't have happened to be salarian as well?"
Leena's eyes grew wide and slowly filled with rage. ”That Bosh'tet…"
And suddenly, it all clicked into place. CAT6, expendable mercs hired to kill anything that entered or exited, payment to such an organisation during such times would’ve been easy to wipe from record. Quarians, an alien race with a history of messing with tech they shouldn’t. All of it, so easy to deny, so easy to sweep under the rug. So easy, as long no one looked hard enough.
Kysar was right, it was a black op. A fucking STG black op. Those slippery fuckers are looking for the advantage. Something in him snapped, something far beyond the realm of anger. The Turian felt his eyes glaze over as he breathed in deep through his nose and out his mouth. A feeling of cold nothingness swept through his body like a blizzard. It was a similar feeling to the one he had felt upon witnessing the horrors of death his old comrades had faced.
Vengeance.“We need to gather every bit of evidence we can find tying the Salarians to this."
He said calmly. "I’m going to take it and make sure they all burn for this."
Leena shook her head. "I've been up and down these halls for who knows how long and I've found nothing connecting STG to this. Not to mention once we blow this device the whole ship could be taken out." "There is one option…"
Zenn said. He couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth, but someone had to say it. ”We leave the device.""Are you insane? Have you not been paying attention to anything we've said!"
Leena practically screamed at Zenn."I'm just saying, if we destroy that thing then we have nothing but witness statements. STG will deny and cover up everything and then it's our word against theirs. Who do you think the council will side with then?"
Zenn started pacing the halls. ”But if we leave it. We could use it and the whole ship as evidence. It might not be airtight, but we would have a much stronger case…"
He was going back and forth. These people deserved justice. His people. The STG or whoever helped orchestrate this needed to pay. But then the device would still be around, and could just as easily fall into the wrong hands. Any hands. Zenn hated this. He knew this choice would haunt him, but there was only one option."It's just like I told you, Kysar. It has to be destroyed at all costs. Even justice…"
The severe shift in Kysar's energy was felt by Solveig and she quickly took her hand off him, and back to her own side as a prolonged chill crawled up her spine. It was off-putting, it wasn't Kysar - or maybe it exactly was. The woman couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes, and his words worried her. That darkness rearing its head again just like at the meat plant, just like on the shuttle. Still, she held between him and the quarians."My mission here was to rescue survivors...-"
she said to Zenn - the decision was his.
There was more she wanted to say to him, and the way she paused suggested so too, but she didnt. Not now.
Kysar stood silent, reacting to neither of the words said by his colleagues. He was focused, honed in on a goal. Caeh was the answer, he'd have evidence not even the STG could get to. Pulling the rifle from his back, he began checking the sights."Leena, we'll be needing that layout."
Leena nodded, also ready to put an end to this and move on. She pulled up her omni-tool, which flickered and blurred as it was clearly almost out of power itself. It projected a holographic display of engineering.
All terminals, equipment and anything else one would expect from this room had been gutted, making room for the giant reaper artifact. It looked similar in design to dragon’s teeth, but with several more spikes protruding from one master antenna. The ground floor was not marred with blood and bodies this time, well, not dead bodies. Husk bodies, on the other hand, filled the room. The creatures stumbled around in the dark as they swarmed the low level.
The plan was this: The team would enter at the top of an overlook, with a set of stairs on either side. With the high ground advantage, it would be like shooting fish in a hole, but they still had to reach the device and set the charges. Even with the extra firepower of the SRN team, clearing the whole room would be nearly impossible. Their best bet would be to clear a path for a single runner. They would reach the base of the device, set the charges, then run back. Should the runner fall, another would have to go retrieve the charges and take their place. When everything was in place, they would collapse a set of storage containers they set up to block the door and prevent the husks from chasing them. Then it was a matter of getting to the shuttle and watching the fireworks from a safe distance.“The runner's job is by far the most dangerous."
Leena explained. ”They’ll be right in the middle of all those husks. I wouldn’t ask it of anyone. Which is why I’ll-”“I’ll do it."
Zenn interrupted. "I’m no stranger to running through enemy lines. I should be able to find a clear path, set the charges, and get back in no time. They might not even know I’m there."
Leena rolled her eyes. ”Really? You think you can slip through a swarm of husks undetected?"“They don’t call me ‘Shadow’ for nothing."
Zenn boasted and pointed at himself with his thumb.“Who does?"
Leena asked.“Uhh. They do."
Zenn gestured to his team.“Uh-huh. And did one of them give you that name or did you request it?"“I think we’re getting off topic."
Zenn said, avoiding the question. ”Point is, I have the skills to do this and I’m not about to let you or any one else we came to rescue put your lives at risk."
Kysar didn't like their plan. It was too risky and Zenn was a little too keen to throw himself into a dangerous situation. A bleeding heart was not enough of a reason to run such a risk."Any access tunnels like the one we just crawled through?""All of this is risky,"
Solveig said. “Venator is right,"
she added - eyeing Zenn up and down with an almost curious expression - deep in thought.
She believed he probably could make the run, but, ”have to minimise risk." "Well, there is an access hatch in there, but it's locked."
Leena explained."Don't worry. I have a key."
Zenn ignited his omni-blade, then quickly retracted it. Leena did not look impressed."Fantastic. Alright then. Zenn you take the vents and signal us when you're in. We'll draw their attention the same way we planned, then you slip out once you have the charges planted and we'll retreat as planned. Heh, we might actually pull this off.""Then let's not waste any more time! Hand me those charges and let’s have a blast!"
Zenn said and held out his hand towards the quarian carrying the charges.
Leena and the other quarian’s just stared at him silently before she turned to Kysar and asked “Is he always like this?"“Willing to risk his life for others?"
Kysar almost smiled as he looked towards Zenn. ”Yeah, he is."
Turning to face the group, the Turian addressed everyone. "I’ll need two of you to help me focus heavy fire down the staircase, we don’t want to get overwhelmed. The rest of you can shoot over the railings. Covering us while we reload”
Pausing, he rolled his head around and flexed his back muscles, limbering up before the fight. ”And if anyone spots Caeh, call out. I’ll be needing his body.""Where do you want me?"
Solveig asked. ”I can take the stairs, or the railing."
She held her arm out, rolling it at the wrist, and then back through the shoulder. It made a gentle mechanical thrum as she did.
Kysar, still calm and collected, spoke with nothing but certainty. ”Take the railings to start, from there you can watch out for Zenn just in case. We’ll see how we go after that. Might have to put that arm to use if the fight gets too close to home on the staircase.""You got it,"
she replied with a nod. ”I'll set up with cryo ammo, that should keep things clear."
For the third or fourth time on this mission Zenn’s face began to turn red, though this time it was due to Kysar’s statement. He was not prepared for such kind words even if he did really appreciate them. Behind his mask, Zenn had a rather large smile.
The quarian’s all nodded in agreement. Kysar’s plan was a solid improvement to their original idea. All they needed now was a little luck and they could pull this off! Leena grabbed the charges from the quarian holding them and tossed the bag over to Zenn as she gave them a final speech. ”Alright. You know your jobs. Stick to them and do not leave your position until we give the signal. This is it. We either stop that thing or die trying! Keelah Se'lai!"