Mass Effect: Thadus
Ral’Sima vas Zaewan
The structure shook suddenly causing Ral to quickly sit up in bed. Her heart was racing and her breath ragged. She reached her hand into her side pocket. A wave of relief washed over her as her finger grazed a smooth object. She brought up her left arm. An orange device suddenly materialized around her forearm; a device known as an Omni-tool.
Using it she quickly checked her vitals and the condition of her enviro-suit. Other than a raised heartbeat, her health was normal for a quarian with a weak immune system. Her enviro-suit, the only think keeping her alive, showed no signs of ruptures or tears. Suddenly, the room shook again. The dim light flickered before shutting off.
Ral sat in darkness.
“One…two…three…four…five,” she counted quietly. Ral got to ‘five’ and she still sat in darkness. She spoke allowed, “No lights. Backup generators should have kicked in by now. Faulty element-zero filtration unit? Overheating drive core? Electromagnetic pulse?”
Red emergency lights started flashing as the intercom crackled to life.
“Code Red,” a robotic voice reported calmly, “All personnel, please report to your stations. This is not a drill. Code Red. Plea—”
Ral jumped out of her bed. She landed from the upper bunk and quickly ran to her foot locker. Arming herself with a shotgun and pistol. Ral quickly looked at herself in the mirror above the lockers.
She stated into a purple tinted helmet. Her black hood draped over her shoulders and connected to a gold clasp against a black neck piece. The majority of her suit was a dark purple with black and gold highlights. The room shook again bringing Ral back to reality. She darted passed several empty bunks in the crew sleeping quarters towards the door.
As she approached, the door slid open and Ral found herself in a dimly lit hallway. People ran out of their sleeping quarters wide-eyed. Others pushed past each other in an attempt to get to their destination. They may have all been different species but everyone knew their place in a crisis. Any animosity towards different species was put aside for the greater good.
Ral pushed against the grain toward the rear, following the signs to engineering. The ship shook occasionally, causing the dim emergency lights to again flicker.
When Ral opened the door to engineering smoke bellowed out into the hallway. Protected by her helmet, Ral went inside. Two engineers, an asari and a salarian armed with fire extinguishers, were fighting to put out the flames coming from one of the generators. In the back of the room was the enormous FTL, faster-than-light, drive core. The round orb pulsated with element zero, a blue halo swirled around the sphere.
“You!” another female quarian stood at a console typing frantically on the keyboard. She wore a red enviro-suit and a black tinted helmet. Loose wires sparked nearby as she shouted, “Don’t just stand there! Help Ranik restore power to the ship!”
“What’s happening?” Ral asked.
“The Reapers,” said the head engineer. “We’re under attack. Not get to work!”
“Yes, ma’am!” Ral saluted before heading off.
She looked around for the drell, Ranik and found him on top of a generator trying to fix a set of severed wires and to get it working again.
The drell smiled warmly at her, “Nice of you to join us, Ral’Sima.” His voice was deep, vibrating as he spoke. Even with all going on, he spoke calmly. He pointed a teal finger at one of the consoles, “We need to re-route all energy from non-essential units to critical systems.”
Ral jumped onto the console. She could feel her cheeks blush, glad that her face was hidden behind her helmet.
“Draining non-essential energy from crew quarters and re-routing to kinetic barriers,” she reported. “It looks like thrusters three and four are off line. I’ll try diverting power to GARDIAN systems.”
“Run a diagnostic,” Ranik said. “See if we can salvage them. We might need those thrusters to get the hell out of here.”
“No need,” As’sha, the asari, threw the used fire extinguisher to one side. “Last report said they were taken out by geth cruisers! Divert the energy!”
“The geth?” Ral started doing what she was told. Her fingers quickly typing command and finding loopholes. “I thought the geth agreed to fight the reapers? Isn’t that what Commander Shepard manage to do on Rannoch?”
Ranik jumped down from on top of the generator, “No one knows what has been happening as of late. It’s hard to get accurate information with the war.”
Ral was silent a moment before speaking, “Never trusted those flashlight heads for one second. They’ve taken everything important to me. Not to mention how they kicked us off of Rannoch.”
“You have no one to blame for that but yourselves,” As’sha shot the head engineer a glare. “Your own faults for building artificial intelligence. If you ask me, you got what you all deserved.”
Ral glared at her, “Don’t you think we’ve paid enough for the sins of our forefathers?”
Three hundred years. It had been three hundred years since the quarians had lost their homeworld Rannoch to the geth. Their creations had been made for manual labor but grew capable of complex thinking. The geth rose up against them. There was a war. The quarians lost.
But that wasn’t the end of things.
The quarians recently went to war to reacquire the homeworld. Then the first human Specter, Commander Shepard, managed to convince both sides to stop fighting and focus their efforts in fighting their true enemy; the Reapers. After the war to retake Rannoch, several quarians and geth alike volunteered to work on a special Alliance project called the Crucible.
The ship shook violently causing Ral to fall to her knees on the grated floor. Wires were shaken loose causing sparks to fly everywhere. The lighting flickered and smoke started bellowing from one of the generators. Buttons lit up every console and sirens wailed for attention. Somehow, over all the noise was the noise and chaos, Ral heard the distinct sound of gunfire.
The door to engineering opened. Three figures walked through with weapons raised. Row after row stood behind them in the hallway. Their synthetic humanoid figures walked through, their flashlight heads looked around the room. They spoke to one another. Their speech sounding more like gurgling and sputtering than actual language.
The head engineer quickly reached for her weapon but was quickly shop by a geth pulse rifle. Her helmet shattered and purple blood splattered on the wall and console. As’sha backed away and screamed. She drew the attention of the geth. The barrage of high-energy phasic slugs tore through her poorly formed biotic barrier. As’sha lay lifeless, shot through and through multiple times.
Ral froze. A geth turned its attention on her, the light from its head singled her out. It raised its weapon on her. Ranik dashed over to her. He pushed her to one side. Ral fell to the floor, Ranik stood over her. He pulled a pistol from his back and fired at the first geth. The bullet struck the geth in the shoulder. It fell to the wayside, replaced by the geth behind it. The other geth fired back, hitting Ranik in the chest.
“Ranik!” Ral crawled toward the drell. He was bleeding badly, vibrant green blood spilled from his wounds. Ranik struggled to breathe as his lungs filled with blood. Still gripping his gun, Ranik shot at the geth killing it. Weakened, the gun fell on the floor.
“Don’t give up,” he gasped. Somehow, he managed to smile, “No matter what, you have to stay strong.”
Ral pressed her hands against his chest. She looked into his black eyes as he looked up at her. Slowly, he stopped breathing. His lifeless eyes stared into nothing. Ral couldn’t help wishing that he didn’t have to die looking into a helmet.
She looked up as more geth poured into the room. A gunfight broke out as the engineers fought to defeat the invading enemy. Geth armor was flexible yet extremely durable against a group of engineers, some of whom had never fired a weapon before.
Ral drew her pistol and shot at one of the geth, knocking out its light and sending it crumpling to the floor. Another geth turned its gaze toward her and raised its weapon. She fired two shots to its torso, knocking it back and killing it. Ral aimed her pistol at a third geth but before she was to fire, two blades pierced through its body from behind. The blades withdrew and the geth fell to the floor.
Behind it stood a female turian clad in jade green armor with black accents. She used her blades, slicing and stabbing the geth with the blades attached to her gauntlets. The turian used biotics to pull a geth toward her only to slice it in half with her blades. When everything died down she walked up to Ral with command and confidence.
“What’s your name?” the turian asked.
Ral opened her mouth to answer when she stopped, pointed her gun at the door and fired. The turian quickly looked over her shoulder before grabbing Ral’s weapon and lowering it.
“Stand down!” she yelled.
Ral looked at the turian then back at the door. Taking up the entrance was a geth prime. Unlike regular geth, geth primes were much taller and more heavily armored. And instead of a singular flashlight that serves as its eyes, it had three smaller lights. This one was painted red with faded white accents. Scratches and dings riddles its armor. It held a massive plasma gun in one hand.
It looked down at the area where Ral had shot at it in the shoulder. The flaps above its head moved slightly as it assessed the situation. Lucky for it, the bullet only grazed past it. In almost a shrugging motion the geth let it be and continued to walk forward.
“It’s with me,” the turian said, nodding to the geth. “What’s your name, Quarian?”
Without taking her eyes off the geth she answered, “Ral’Sima vas Zaewan.”
“Vicia Bellanis,” the turian spoke. “Alright Ral, the ship is over run. I see you’re good with a gun. We need to get ourselves to the escape pods and it isn’t going to be easy. You understand?”
Ral nodded. The power flickered and shut down leaving them in a blinking red light. Vicia headed for the door.
“I’ll take point,” Vicia stated. “The big guy with take up the rear. You stick to me like your life depends on it!”
Ral looked over her shoulder at Ranik. She breathed deeply, closing her eyes. It pained her to look away. She forced herself to walk passed the geth. As the two women left, the geth quickly scanned the area before following after them.
Vicia walked quickly close to the wall using the shadows to her advantage. When they reached the end of the hall she careful peak around the corner. She held her arm up, signaling them to wait. Ral looked back at the geth prime. Its back was to her as it carefully made sure the way behind them was clear. After a few moments Vicia signaled them to get going.
They passed a row of windows overlooking the vast expanse of space. In the distance, the iconic image of the Mass Relay could be seen. Fifteen miles of curved metal and a cold core of element zero, metal rings spinning gyroscopically around the core. A revered piece of technology to the quarians, allowing travel between two points in space much easier.
But in the foreground a menacing image caught Ral’s eye, almost invisible against the dark horizon. Its beetle-like appearance with its six menacing arms was unmistakable. It was a Reaper. Just looking at it Ral could hear a quiet whispering at the edge of her mind. A glimpse at the iconic indoctrination the Reapers had in their vast arsenal. Ral looked away. Her hand brushed her pocket her fingers touching a familiar lump. She took a deep breath and continued to follow close behind Vicia.
They descended deeper into the ship following the emergency lights towards the escape shuttles. As they neared the evacuation area they heard gun fire. They turned into the hallway and saw the chaos.
A large figure was fighting off a hoard of Reaper forces as two other figures huddled by a damaged escape pod. Most of the escape pods had been used leaving a malfunctioning deathtrap.
A salarian doctor in sterile white and blue armor, was kneeling by the control panel trying to get it opened. He frequently ducked and covered his horns whenever a bullet struck anywhere near him. Standing above him was a human female dressed in black and red. Her face was covered by the cowl of her hood as she used her biotics to create a force field around the doctor.
The powerhouse protecting them was a towering krogan clad in black and yellow armor, armed with a shotgun and a varren at his command. His black frontal plate gave him an even more intimidating look. He headbutted geth and shot them as they fell to the ground. The three foot high tan and blue dog-like creature ferociously fought, charging through enemy lines.
“Ral! See if you can get that pod working!” Vicia took charge and ran forward.
Ral was right behind her. The human temporarily dropped the force field allowing Ral access to the escape pod. The salarian doctor moved out of the way and hid behind cover as Ral started putting the panel back together.
Reaper forces were encroaching on them but the survivors had formed a strong front line. The geth and krogan did major damage with their shotguns while Vicia ran down the center with her blades and biotics. The varren joined her, charging forward, and enjoying the carnage.
Ral cracked open the panel and poked around inside, crossed wires and clipped others until the doors finally opened. The doctor pushed passed her and entered the pod. The human dropped the field and clapped twice with her hands.
She stepped forward, a blue glow started to swirl around her focusing mostly on her hands. She raised both her arms as if lifting the floor into the air. A series of biotic impacts were sent out, throwing the geth into the air against the ceiling. The temporary relief of gunfire presented the opportunity to retreat. The krogan whistled for the varren and turned toward the escape pod.
Ral got up, about to enter the pod when she felt a sudden sharp pain in her arm. She quickly brought her arm to the wound. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the geth responsible shot by the krogan.
“Come on!” the krogan grabbed her and pulled her inside. He pushed her in front of him toward the back of the pod.
Ral half fell into the seat. Swiftly, she pulled the shoulder restraints over her head and sat tight. She reached into the pocket and pulled out a stone. It was large enough to fit it in the palm of her hand. Shades of greyish blue spiraled in rings on its smooth oval surface. Ral pressed it against her heart and closed her eyes.
Vicia entered next, sitting near the entrance. With the flex of her wrists, her twin blades retracted into her gauntlets. The geth and the human fought waiting for an opportune time. The human tossed enemies with her biotics and sent them flying while the geth provided cover fire, its pulse weapons tearing through the enemy.
When there was a chance, the geth entered the pod and sat next to Ral. The human biotic was the last to enter. Using her powers to close the door behind her. As the pod prepared to launch the geth looked in Ral’s direction.
“Creator-Sima,” it spoke. Ral’s eyes shot open. It was the first time she had heard a geth speak. “You appear to be injured,” it continued.
The shuttle launched, the shock knocking the stone out of Ral’s hand. With the stone out of reach, she had to focus on her health. Ral brought up her arm to activate her omni-tool. With all the chaos, she’d forgotten about the graze on her shoulder. She worked to administer immune-boosters when the shuttle was suddenly struck, sending it spiraling end over end.
Ral to hit her head hard on the restraints. Her vision was fuzzy from the impact. The pod lights dimmed as the on-board computer screen glitched and started sputtering nonsense. Ral she found it hard to concentrate as they spun out of control. Her rapidly growing fever caused her to struggle to stay conscious.
“Creator-Sima,” a voice said seemingly from far away.
Her body went limp. She let the pod toss her body as the damaged computer struggled to maintain control of the pod. The last thing she heard before unconsciousness was the computer telling them to brace for impact.
Awesome start! can’t wait to read more!
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