Mass Effect: Thadus
Ral stood on a balcony overlooking a courtyard. She had
a view of the large cave entrance leading out to a flat piece of land. There were rows and rows of native fruits, vegetables and grain. Foods she would have to avoid because of her dextro-protein physiology. She would just have settle for the spare tubes of dextro-protein paste she had in her pockets. Somehow the zha’kril managed to pump up water from deep within the earth.
Several zha’kril came up from the lower levels to work the fields. As she watched, she watched as the zha’kril continued on with their lives. They wealthy and higher class shopped for the things they wanted while their lower class helpers and servants gathered around water from pumps and groceries for their masters. It was just another day.
Movement below in the courtyard caught her attention. The human, Widow, walked out into the walled courtyard. Short bio-luminescence plants grew in stone compartments carved within the waist high wall. The courtyard was a few feet above street level with an elaborate front entrance to the right. Elaborate carvings were etched into the floor. An entwined pattern of flowers, creatures and birds all hidden within its complex design. Ral was fairly certain that the lower levels had nothing so beautiful decorating their floors.
Armed guards stood watch by the entrance but largely left the inside of the villa alone. They watched the human carefully as she leaned over the wall. The varren, Urz sauntered up beside her. He sat by her feet, his tongue hung out as he panted. Widow leaned down and petted the creature on the head.
Seeing her now, Ral remembered what Vaennua said the night before, “I am not your enemy. You should look at that human. She isn’t what she seems.”
Why did the human need to wear the helmet? What did the rank N8 mean?
Ral was thinking to herself when she heard the faint noise of arguing. From the different tones of voices she could tell that it was an argument between Khal, Paz and Vicia. Ral sighed. They had been arguing constantly for the better part of a day.
Behind her a series of footfalls caught her attention. Ral turned and saw Consensus walk out onto the balcony.
It turned and acknowledged her, “Good afternoon, Creator-Sima.”
Ral subconsciously reached for her weapon but she quickly realized she didn’t have one. Naturally, the queen’s guard had confiscated their weapons. Instead, she kept as much distance from the geth as possible. Silence lasted several moments before Ral felt obligated to say something.
“What are they arguing about?” Ral asked.
Consensus thought a moment before answering, “They have disagreement about our further course of action. The salarian doctor suggests compliance with the current order while the krogan mercenary insists on aggressive behavior.”
“What about Vicia?” Ral looked back into the villa.
“The turian insists on action, however, she agrees on temporary compliance,” Consensus explained.
“Waiting for the right time?” Ral shrugged her shoulders. “Personally? I don’t know what we should do.”
Consensus looked out into the distance, “It is a perplexing situation.”
“With all your processing power and you still can’t come up with a solution?” Ral smirked. “Or maybe you don’t want to leave. Maybe you want to stay here on this planet and go join the collectors, help them get the Reaper in the air. I’m sure you’ll feel more at home there.”
The geth stayed quiet as Ral continued.
“It wasn’t enough for you to chase us off our planet but you had to go and side with the Reapers. Of course you synthetics would side with each other, killing organics is what you do. Like the way you killed my brother and my friends and the others on the ship. You’ll just keep killing. It’s in your nature. So go ahead and leave since you and the Reapers have so much in common, I won’t tell anyone.”
Again, Consensus waited a moment before it spoke, “This unit is aware of your loss. Though it does not side with the heretic geth and the Old Machines it understands your mistrust.” The geth bowed its head slightly before turning to go back into the villa. It stopped and looked over its shoulder, “This unit hopes it can prove its loyalty.”
Ral said nothing as it walked away. She looked down on the balcony in time to see the human staring at her. Looking into Widow’s unblinking eyes made Ral uncomfortable. The human just stood and stared. Ral wasn’t sure how much of the conversation she had heard and it was hard to tell through her body language how it affected Widow.
As a quarian, she was used to talking to masks, she had her entire life. It was all in the tone of the voice or the way they carried themselves that were cues for understanding and reading each other. But the human neither spoke nor moved. She was like a shadow on the wall, always watching but never giving anything away.
After a few moments, Widow walked back into the villa. Urz walked happily after her.
“Neh!” the salarian doctor ran into the courtyard. He quickly turned around and pointed at a looming figure. “I was promised this oaf wouldn’t lay a finger on me!”
Paz ducked as a vase was thrown his way. The guards stood at alert. They armed themselves and went to see to the problem. Recovering from the thrown object, the doctor scampered to the furthest corner from the raging krogan. His booming voice shook the villa.
“Yeah, that’s right! Run!” Khal stepped out. “It’ll make it much more satisfying when I rip out your liver!”
Ral felt a breeze blew past her. Vicia had run off the edge of the balcony and dropped down into the courtyard. She quickly put herself between the krogan and the doctor.
Khal was having none of it.
“Out of my way,” he boomed. He rammed her out of the way.
Vicia was thrown to one side. She quickly recovered and got to her feet. A blue glow radiated around her. She reached out her hand and pulled it back. Khal was pulled forward and lost his balance. Vicia charged forward in the blink of an eye. She struck the krogan, tackling him to the ground. Vicia punched him in the face.
On the ground, Khal head butted Vicia leaving her dazed. Khal pushed her off before getting up to his feet. He looked around for the salarian and found his target. Khal ducked his head, readying to charge. The doctor covered his head protectively as the unstoppable force ran at him. Suddenly, Khal was thrown in the air before being snapped back to the ground.
“Cease and desist,” an electronic voice said.
Consensus’ turrets hovered on either side of him. Widow walked forward, a blue aura hovering around her. Khal grunted as he tried to get up. Widow looked at him. A strong force pulled him back down again.
Ral ran out into the courtyard, “What’s going on?”
“Just a disagreement on what the doctor said,” Vicia rubbed her head as she got up. She eyed Paz.
The doctor looked shocked, “All I asked was why would the krogan even want to go back to the scrapheap Tuchanka. It’s impossible to get back! I was just trying to understand why he’s so fixed on getting home.”
“Aren’t you?” Ral asked. She approached the doctor, “We’re getting home! We just need a plan!” Vicia appeared in front of her. The turian held on to Ral preventing her from getting closer.
Paz shook his head, “Don’t you all see? It’s impossible! We’re 2.5 million light years from home! Any attempt of getting home would take at least that long if not more! Even if the others win the war, defeat the Reapers, receive the message, somehow figure out how to travel to galaxies via the Mass Relays and then end a group to get us, WE’D BE LONG DEAD!!”
“Says a no-good salarian!” Khal shouted.
“We have lives to get back to!” Ral pointed at the doctor.
Paz rolled his eyes and spread his arm, “It’s not my fault you don’t want to hear the truth. There’s no way back. All I’ve been saying is that we acknowledge the truth. Once we do that we can move on to other matters. More immediate needs like finding medical equipment to chemically produce dextro-protein foods; dealing with the Reaper on our doorstep, or maybe figuring out how to make peace with our host. But if you want to remain delusional, fine by me.”
“Raahh! You bosh’tet! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Ral turned around and walked off.
It was quiet as they all stood around each other. Khal calmed down and was allowed up. Everyone reflected on the doctors words. No one spoke. Vicia paced back and forth looking down at the ground. After taking a deep breath, she spoke.
“He’s right,” she said quietly.
Ral turned around, “No, he isn’t! The plan! I can make it work! I know I can!”
“How many dextro-protein paste do you have?” Vicia asked.
“Enough,” Ral stated.
Vicia shook her head, “Enough to last even if we were to go through with the plan? Enough to last the weeks, months, or even years it would take to wait for a response? Think this through Ral. All of you! We have to play this smart! We need food, supplies. At the very least we need the trust of the zha’kril! Even with all of our strength combined, we couldn’t take on a Reaper, even a damaged one, by ourselves!”
She paused. “We’ll play along for now. Heck, the worst that could happen is that the doctor is right and we die waiting for a response. But we’ll not die before then. For now, we need to focus on surviving. We’ll give it a try. We will make an effort to get home but it will be when we are strong and ready.”
Vicia looked in the eyes of all who were present, “You just have to trust me.”
I was amused by the line about “synthetics” versus “organics” as different kinds of creatures. Your description of the injustices of the caste system is also thought-provoking.
Bioluminescent stuff is really cool! Check out Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico.
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I heard of it! Its super cool!