Thadus: Chapter Fourteen

Mass Effect: Thadus

Chapter Fourteen

Bonding

Khal stared at Consensus from across the dining table. He narrowed his eyes at the synthetic as he muttered something under his breath. With a wide motion, he placed his elbow on the table with his hand up in the air. Consensus looked at Khal’s hand before looking at back at his face. Slowly, Consensus copied the motion and placed its elbow on the table.

The krogan grabbed the synthetic’s hand and then the match began. Consensus looked down at their gripped hands but didn’t seem to understand the purpose. Khal visibly strained against Consensus’ arm. However, their hands remained perfectly in the center.

This was what Ral walked in on as she rolled her eyes and made her way to the cool-box in the crew quarters. She opened it and sighed. There in front of her was half a tube of paste left. Slowly, she reached for it. Vicia had insisted that Ral have it. She paused. For a moment, she had seriously considered taking it. She hadn’t eaten yet that day and her stomach ached at the sight of food. Quickly, she closed the box.

She looked over at the table where the krogan and synthetic were still testing each other’s strength, neither of them gaining any ground.

“What are you doing?” Ral asked.

Consensus turned its head to look at her, “I am unsure. There is not enough data to come to a conclusion.”

Khal murmured, “It’s a test of strength. This is between the two of us.”

“Alright,” Ral shrugged.

Khal looked over at her, “Aren’t you going to eat that?”

Ral shifted slightly, “Oh, I’m not that hungry. Besides, Vicia needs it more. She’s been doing a double shift for almost two weeks.”

“Suit yourself,” Khal shrugged. He turned his attention back to Consensus and the battle of strength, “Are you even trying?”

“We thought that the point of this exercise was to maintain an equilibrium,” the flaps around its head twitched slightly, expressing confusion. It looked down at its hand, “This unit fails to understand the meaning behind this activity.”

Ral nodded, “You aren’t the only one.”

She walked back out into the hallway and walked toward the elevators. For a moment, she stopped in front of KIDD’s mainframe. After a few moments, KIDD’s appearance materialized. It floated above its AI core and looked down at Ral.

“May I help you?” KIDD asked.

“Do you remember anything from before the Zha’kril activated you? Anything about the Protheans?” she spoke.

KIDD was silent for a few moments before answering, “I remember what I need to remember.”

Ral leaned on one leg, “Anything specific?”

“My creators,” it stated simply. “I remember them. They are deceased and therefore no longer relevant.”

“Do you know what we will find at the ruins?” Ral asked.

KIDD’s hologram started to fade, “You fill find the answers you seek.” With that, KIDD was quiet. It was it’s way of signaling that it no longer wished to talk.

Ral left and entered one of the elevators and descended to the second floor. She walked through the small living area where Widow lounged on a small couch with a book propped up on her legs. Urz lay quietly on the floor by her feet. She looked up momentarily as Ral passed by, her emotionless mask stared at the quarian. Widow almost looked relaxed as she sat curled up on the couch though it was nearly impossible to say if she really was.

As Ral walked passed, the salarian doctor ran out of the medical bay, nearly knocking the both of them to the ground.

“Ral’Sima,” Paz said as he brushed himself off. He looked at her as if it were her fault for their collision. The salarian straightened his back and cleared his throat, “I see that you were able to sense my genius.”

“I’m not sure that I understand,” Ral stated.

Paz motioned to the room across the hall, the Research Room. During their trip so far, the doctor had the door locked, only accessible by a key code that he knew. Paz sighed as he walked toward the door. He typed in his code on the keypad and the door slid open. Paz slipped into the room, expecting Ral to follow after him. Cautiously, Ral approached the entrance.

Ral gasped.

Inside was the vibrant color of jade and green. Plants grew in boxes around the edges of the room protected by clear plastic dividers. Mist fell over the plants from a rigged sprinkle system. Light fell from heat lamps, warming the large leaves as they soaked it all up. The room had a clean refreshing smell that washed over her. Humidity clouded her helmet visor.

Paz walked around, checking his beloved scientifically grown plants. He pulled back one of the dividers and pulled a pair of gloves out of his pocket. Slipping them onto his hands, he leaned over the plants. With one hand, he touched the yellow flowers. After touching each one, he closed the dividers and took off his gloves.

The doctor smiled at Ral and walked across the room and revealed a row of plants. Ral waked beside him and looked. Vibrant ripe pieces of star shaped fruit hung heavy on the plants, causing them to lean with their burden.

“Very well developed if I do say so myself,” Paz smiled. He jumped slightly with excitement.

Ral looked around, “You grew all of this?”

“Genetically engineered, adapted composition, added mandatory creativity, placed seed in germination inducing soil, changed molecular properties of Thadus soil to support different amino types,” he paused. He noticed Ral wasn’t paying attention. With a sigh he added, “So, no. I merely assisted in growth. The cellular unit simply did what came naturally.”

Ral’s stomach growled slightly as she looked at the fruit, “I wish I could eat some.”

Paz sighed slightly, “You can. And so can every other organic on this vessel can. Unfortunately, the geth is unable to enjoy the fruits of my labor.”

“Vicia and I can eat this fruit and actually gain nutrition from it?” the whole things sounded crazy. But Paz nodded.

“It contained high levels of fiber and protein. For your predicament, I recommend blending the fruit before ingestion. Also, I am currently in the process of creating more protein paste as another source of food.”

Ral looked around the room, “This is truly amazing, Doctor.”

Paz shrugged, “Naturally.” He headed toward the opened door, “If you would let Vicia know, it would be much appreciated.”

Ral had been on her way to the engineering room to oversee the energy process and tweak the scans but after what she had seen, she didn’t mind telling their captain the good news.

The door leading outside opened as Ral ascended the stairs. Aft of the ship, there stood Vicia at the tiller. Her green armor glistened in the sunlight. Ral could see the turian concentrating, looking at the screens hovering in front of her face. She didn’t notice Ral approach her from the side. When Vicia saw motion to her left, she turned slightly. She let go of the tiller and the screens dropped and disappeared. Instantly, KIDD took the helm via autopilot.

“You aren’t up until just after twilight,” Vicia stated. Ral looked at her face. Her eyes looked tired. Vicia insisted on taking the dawn and twilight shift. When she wasn’t on shift, she was busy taking care of planning and supply management. On top of that, she hadn’t been getting a lot to eat. At least the news Ral had to bring would be able to quiet her mind.

“Paz managed to make some grow some more food for us all,” Ral said.

Visia raised her head slightly, “Really? I knew that salarian was up to something. Glad he was doing something useful.”

“You can go down and take a look at them,” Ral placed her hands on her hips. “He turned the Research Lab into a nursery for plants. It smelled like the Earth rainforest simulators back on the Citadel.”

Vicia shook her head, “I still have to finish the rest of my shift.”

“Why don’t you let KIDD pilot for a while?” Ral stated, “It can handle it. Even the zha’kril ship Captains didn’t keep to the tiller the whole time.

The turian was quiet for a few moments. She looked up at Ral and smiled, “I guess you’re right. I guess the doctor would want us to try it so we can bask in his glorious, intuitive mind.” A smile shown on her face.

Ral nodded, “Sounds good!”

Together they went back down to the second floor. Khal and Consensus were still in a deadlock of strength. Widow and Urz enjoyed a good book and the doctor rattled on about his process of altering the genetics of the plants. Ral slurped a star fruit smoothie though a straw, the only thing small enough to fit through the induction port in her helmet. Visa laughed and pointed at Ral’s attempt to slurp through the straw. She smiled as she bit into a piece of fruit.

“Approaching Prothean ruins,” KIDD reported over the intercom.

Vicki looked up, her smile faded from her face. “KIDD,” she spoke out loud, “Call everyone to the deck. It’s time we figure out how we are going to keep our word.”

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