Thadus: Chapter Sixteen

Mass Effect: Thadus

Chapter Sixteen

 The Compound

drone

Ral’s Drone

“What did you do!?” Vicia moved to decrease the space between them. She roughly pushed the quarian out of the way of the consol. Ral didn’t put up any resistance. Vicia’s eyes darted across the screen. Her lips moved slightly as she struggled to understand the words in front of her.

SIGNAL SENT.

Vicia turned to Ral. She pointed at the screen, “What did you do!?”

Ral flinched. She didn’t respond. There wasn’t the chance. Alarms started blaring and the automated voice spoke out above the noise.

“Reaper forces detected.”

“Incoming transmission,” The droid hovering around Ral started projecting an image on a screen. Consensus appeared on the screen. It appeared to be inside the engine room typing away at one of the control panels.

Its attention was on its task but spoke as it did so, “Reaper forces are converging on your position.”

“How many are we talking about?” Vicia asked.

“A dozen light vehicles and two hub vehicles,” Consensus reported.

“Two? Seriously?” Vicia swore under her breath.

Paz trembled where he stood, “That’s rather excessive.”

Vicia was quiet for a moment, thinking of their next move, “Consensus? Do you think you can bring the ship around?”

“Consensus and I will make an attempt,” KIDD’s voice sounded. “The most accessible point is south-west of your current position. The two hub vehicles are to the north with the light vehicles circling your position. It is recommended that you get out of there.”

Vicia began barking orders, “Khal! Get the tech! We’ve got to get out of here. I’ll take point. Widow, you and Urz stay on my right. Khal will take the rear. Paz and Ral, keep to my left.” She turned to Ral, “I’ll deal with you later. Let’s move!”

Khal picked up the two weapons and strapped them to his back. He drew his shot gun as he followed after the others.

Widow stayed a few steps behind Vicia. She pulled out her sniper rifle. The barrel extended into place as she brought it up close to her body. The turian stopped at the doorway and motioned for them to do the same. Widow tilted her head slightly, hearing a noise coming down the stairs.

Quickly, she turned the corner and raised her rifle. Time seemed to slow as she looked at her target through the scope. Two Collectors were coming down the stairs. She had one of them in her sights as she pulled the trigger. The furthest one collapsed. Its companion looked over its shoulder. A fatal mistake. Another press of the trigger. Another collapsed body. For a few seconds after, she listened. Nothing. She looked over her shoulder and gave a thumbs up, the universal sign for ‘all-clear’.

Vicia headed up the spiral staircase with Widow just a few steps behind. Even through her helmet she could hear the others behind her. After spending so much time with them, she could tell who they were just by their foot falls. The way they shifted their wait or shuffled their feet was something unique to them. Especially if they were a 1000 pound krogan lumbering around with another 1000 pounds of alien tech strapped to his back.

But even with then, Widow could tell who was friend and foe. She heard them before she could see them. Quickly she raised her rifle and shot at the wall in front of them. The bullet ricocheted off the curved stairwell wall and struck another Collector further up. Urz ran up a few steps, his teeth sank into the Collectors leg and he pulled. As the Collector fell, Urz pumped up and bit his neck. Unfazed, Widow stepped over the body.

The real challenge was at the upper entrance. Nearly twenty Collectors had them surrounded. They circled the three strange pillars. Smoke rose slowly from them as trails of electricity crossed between the three rising to the tips and disappearing. The few clouds there were above looked as if something had been shot through them. They formed a hole in the sky like a bullet wound. A faded greenish light shooting straight up into the sky flickered and died.

Hiding just below ground level, Widow peeked out at the enemy. The collectors set their vehicles in a circle around them and stationed themselves on the other side with weapons ready. It wasn’t going to be easy.

“I say we just get in there and wing it,” Khal spoke up from the rear. He shrugged, “It’s more fun that way. Evens the odds a little.”

Vicia ignored him, “Widow and I will get you all an opening. When you see a chance, head south-west to the meeting point. Those weapons need to get on the ship. We need them if we are going to go up against the Reaper. Paz, Ral, you cover him. He’ll be moving slower than usual with all the extra weight.”

Khal shifted slightly, “It’s muscle weight.”

Paz shook slightly. Combat wasn’t his specialty, “Uh, well, see, I—”

“Fine,” Ral stated.

Urz growled. Widow looked down at him. His eyes were focused on her. Whatever she needed him to do, he was ready and fully trusting. Widow nodded slightly and Urz barked. She put two fingers up and motioned to the entrance. The varren sprinted out. Widow stood up and started sniping. Sometimes, shooting before she had even a chance to look through the scope.

Her first shot was through one of the Collectors eyes. As it died, it fired off several shots, none of them anywhere close to her. The second bullet took out its partner. Quickly, she ducked down, reached into her pocket and pulled out a magazine and reloaded her rifle. Vicia roared as she charged forward, Urz running alongside her toward the enemy.

The turian jumped over the now abandoned vehicle and got to work. With blades extended she started slashing at the Collectors around her. In a fluid motion, Vicia slayed three of them. A stab in the chest. A pivot. A grab at a neck. A slam to the ground and a stab in the eye. A laser dodged. A lunge. A scuffle for the gun then another dead Collector. It was as if she were dancing on a stage.

Urz ran up to another bike and used it as a jumping off point. He used it to lunge at the neck of one of the Collectors. After finishing it off, it turned to its companion, gnawing at its leg.

With her gun reloaded, Widow peeked out. She raised her gun, about to take another shot when a laser bullet whizzed past her. Ducking down, she looked behind her. The other half of the circle of enemies weren’t too happy about their allies being torn to pieces. Ral quickly stood up and fired at the attacker. She shot five times. Four of them missed. The Collector fell behind its vehicle.

Widow stood again, raising her hand in the air, her arm glowing blue. Shockwaves burst forth throwing several of the enemy in the air and back to the ground.

For a moment, she looked at the quarian. Widow placed her hand on her chest and bowed her head deeply as a sign of thanks. Ral said nothing.

Paz suddenly raised his weapon and fired. A brave ambitious Collector decided to rush them but was properly dealt with. The salarian doctor’s hands shook uncontrollably. Combat was certainly not his strong suit.

“Well, at least you aren’t completely useless,” Khal shrugged.

Widow stood up again and shot at another Collector. After confirming her kill, she motioned for the others in the stairwell and pointed in the south-western direction. Ral understood and got the doctor moving. Khal followed after them. Widow put her rifle away, collapsing it and placing it on her back. She drew her pistol instead and started providing cover fire, firing rapidly and forcing the Collectors to stay behind cover.

For a brief moment, she looked over her shoulder. She saw the others make it out of the circle of death and heading toward the evacuation point. When she did, a Collector took advantage of that moment.

It rose from behind cover and fired its laser gun directly at her. It struck her straight in the chest. She was pushed off her feet from the direct impact and thrown back. Her body fell to the ground like a rag doll. Even after a few moments, she didn’t move.

Urz let out a nasty growl. It charged at the Collector responsible and bit down on its arm, pulling it to the ground. The Collectors bone broke causing it to drop its weapon. Once it did, the varren finished it off. Vicia turned at the noise. Her eyes darted to the smoking body as Urz ran towards it. Quickly, she ran toward Widow.

Widow’s light armor was no match for the laser weapon. A large section of her torso was exposed. The part of her body exposed was discolored and the smell was awful. Fabric and pieces of metal fused to her skin. Strange pieces of cybernetics could be seen in her flesh.

Vicia carefully lifted Widow’s limp body and carried her toward the evacuation point. As she struggled with the extra weight, Urz served as a bodyguard and a guide. He leads them through the streets and dealt with as many Collectors as he could, keeping the way clear for Vicia to pass through easily.

When they got to the evacuation zone, no one was there. They were on the edge of the compound. The expanse of the desert stretched before them. To the left, a looming figure appeared. One of the large Collector vessel hives sailed slowly toward them.

Urz growled at the large ship and Vicia struggled to reach for her pistol. She didn’t get a chance.

A large burst of energy shot through the ship moments before it exploded, bursting into flames. Behind it was the Traveler. It sailed in quickly with cannon fire chasing behind it. The Traveler pulled up beside Vicia. She could see Khal standing on deck with a smoking cannon propped on his shoulder.

Consensus and Ral threw off a flatbed connected to rope. The bed landed in front of Vicia and she set Widow on the bed. She straddled herself over Widows legs and Urz situated himself alongside her body. After they were settled the bed was quickly raised as the ship pulled away. Once she was close enough, Vicia pulled herself onto the deck. When she did, she saw the second large enemy ship chasing them.

“Get her down to the Medical Bay!” Vicia called as she ran toward the tiller.

Khal joined Consensus in lifting the bed over the railing and carried it toward the cabin door. Ral hurriedly followed after them. Vicia grabbed ahold of the tiller and pushed. The ship banked left, doing a complete 180 degrees. The two ships faced each other head on.

Vicia shouted, “Fire all cannons!”

“Firing all cannons,” KIDD reported. The two cannons in the front and on the wings charged up. And fired. Steams of light arched toward the opposing ship as the Collector shot back in return. A beam of energy grazed the Traveler’s right side. Vicia could feel the impact shake the ship. While the Collectors missed, KIDD’s targeting system was spot on.

The cannon fire struck at four critical areas, tearing through the ship. The explosion rocked the Traveler. The Collectors hive ship fell slowly to the ground, crashing into the sand dunes. Pieces of black metal rained on the deck as the ship sailed by the wreckage. Vicia struggled to keep it stable. KIDD even adjusting the power levels of the thrusters. When the ship was stable, Vicia let go of the tiller.

“KIDD, take over,” she said as she walked toward the cabin door. “Run a diagnostic. Report any damages.”

“Affirmative,” the AI responded. As Vicia walked down the stairs, KIDD reported the first of the damages, “Starboard hull breached. Energy capacity down to 70% of optimal conditions. Starboard thruster at 50% capacity…”

When the lower door opened, Vicia could feel a current of wind rush through from the right side. Sections of the wall in the hallway were torn and missing, exposing the first floor to the elements. Exposed wires flickered and sparked. Vicia walked passed it towards the rear elevators and made her way to the second floor.

In the hallway, Consensus and Khal stood in the hallway while Ral stood outside the Medical Lab. Vicia headed straight for the quarian. She grabbed Ral by the arm and dragged her toward the engine room. Once the door closed, Vicia laid into her.

“What the hell was that back there!?” she asked. “I’m not leaving without an answer!”

It took a few moments before Ral answered, “I…I sent a message home.”

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