Mass Effect: New Thadus
Two Days Earlier
“We are so proud of you, my little Raala!” a woman spoke through the hologram picture.
A man stood beside her, “We wait eagerly for your swift return! Be safe on your Pilgrimage!”
“May your travels always lead you home!” both her parents chimed.
The holo-vid ended. The roar of the ship’s engine nearly drowned out the video’s audio but the voices comforted her. Those were the last memories of her parents. They were so excited for her Pilgrimage. She still wore their farewell gift, a new enviro-suit.
The different shades of browns were simplistically elegant with an intricate light tan design. Polished white bronze metal adorned the metal accents on her neck, mask and suit. The helmet visor was a dim dark purple. It wasn’t bright enough to stand out but it provided a subtle contrast. Not to mention all the advanced tech installed into the suit, including a state of the art Savant omni-tool by Serrice Council Manufacturing.
Raala cried opening her gift. Her parents weren’t the wealthiest. They worked on their home ship, the Xaaleya, as janitors. It was hard for them to raise a daughter who’s dream was to become an engineer. But they did. Wanting the best life possible for her daughter they somehow managed to trade for her apprenticeship. They brought home bits of tech no one else was using, allowing her to tinker and practice.
Those were fond memories. After the war to take back the homeworld, however, the Xaaleya was destroyed. Before the great Commander Shepard could strike a temporary peace between the geth and the quarians, the ship was shot down. Raala would have been on that ship if she had managed to get home in time. Instead, she was told the news.
“Raala! How are the couplings holding up?” a voice shouted from below.
Raala looked up from the hologram interface she was typing on. Steam spewed from between pipes and bolt heads. Quickly, she tried to reroute the buildup and vent it into a noncritical area. She couldn’t help but smile. The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on her. She’d die the same way her parents did; in battle. Only she didn’t have the space above her homeworld as her final resting place.
The SSV Kolkata, an alliance vessel, shook violently. Hot steam showered on Raala causing her to jump back. A piercing scream in the distance echoed up to her. Quickly after, an alarm sounded. A yellow light flashed periodically.
Raala ran down grated steps to the lower floor in the engine room. The large mass effect drive core, a glowing round sphere in the back of the engine room, lit up. With Raala unable to divert the energy build up, the core was going to vent into the room, vaporizing anyone still inside.
Several engineers ran for the exit. Some dragging those who still thought they had a chance. The head engineer, a drell, stood at the exit making sure those under him managed to escape.
“Go! Go! Go!” his voice vibrated.
About to pass through, Raala was pushed out of the way by a salarian. The salarian didn’t even look back as Raala fell into the drell. Grabbing her in his arms, the drell pulled them both through the door just as it was closing. They fell to the ground. Frantic crewmembers jumped over them.
“We need to go!” the drell shouted.
Raala nodded and jumped to her feet. With the engine room flooded with radiation, she needed to find Combat Information Center. In all the chaos and shaking, it was going to be difficult task. But she was up for the challenge. The drell appeared to have the same idea. Together they ran through the chaos.
After her parents died and the truce was made between geth and quarians, Raala immediately volunteered to leave for the next war. She needed something to focus on. The Reapers were thought to have been just a myth before they started harvesting the galaxy’s sentient life. Commander Shepard, the first human specter, made the discovery years before. Unfortunately, no one listened. Now everyone was paying attention but it was much too late. This was a fight for survival. Not a fight anyone thought they could win.
But there were rumors that the humans had found the plans of a super weapon that would defeat the massive machines. Raala’s skill and an engineer must have impressed someone because she was whisked away into a room full of others like her; scientists, engineers, mechanics, and told that they would be taking part in building such a machine. Right after that, they were brought to the SSV Kolkata and sent to the Catalyst.
Only, now they weren’t going to make it.
Reaper forces had somehow found out the Kolkata and didn’t want any more supplies getting to this machine that could destroy them. It was probably one of the crew who had been indoctrinated. The way the Reapers turned your own people against you was cruel.
The drell barged onto the CIC. He found the Commanding Officer and immediately ran over to her. Raala’s gaze fell on the central hologram in the middle of the room. A large squid-like structure inched closer to a blue cruiser outline. The larger ship dwarfed the cruiser at nearly 2 kilometers in length. Five finger-like arms extended from its front end like a hand reaching to grasp its prey.
It shot what looked like a red ball of fire at the smaller ship. When the red ball struck the blue cruiser, the ship shook. The lights flickered. A noise of something powering down could be heard.
A black and silver synthetic who sat at one of the consoles reported, “Kinetic barriers are down! I am getting readings on the lower decks that we have been breached. No ally life signs remain. Detecting enemy signatures. It appears that we have been boarded.”
The Commanding Officer swore loudly, “Initiate evacuation! Activate self-destruct procedures! The Reapers cannot have this ship!”
Raala jumped onto a console and started typing frantically, “I can divert non-essential energy to our barriers. It will trap the Reaper forces inside with us but it should give us more time to evacuate.”
“Do it!” the CO commanded.
“Already have,” Raala smiled behind her mask.
The synthetic beside her glanced at its screens, “Kinetic barrier at 33%. Evacuation procedures have been set. Self-destruct on standby. Please confirm.”
“Captain Alba Vasquez, Commanding Officer, Alliance Military, 83 290 823,” the CO spoke clearly for all to hear.
The man beside her spoke up, “Commander Lee Carr, Executive Officer, Alliance Military, 47 394 582.”
The synthetic nodded, “Voice recognition confirmed. Identity confirmed. Self-destruct sequence activated.”
Just after it said that the alarms started going off ship wide. An announcement over the intercoms warmed people of the boarding and encouraged people to proceed to the escape pods. It concluded that those still present after the end of ten minutes will be caught in the self-destruct blast.
Raala stood from her chair along with everyone else in the room. They walked briskly toward the exit. Both the CO and XO stayed behind. As the highest ranking officers they would be the last to leave. Raala was surprised to see the head engineer staying as well. As she approached him, the drell shook his head.
“You need go, Raala. I have to stay and see if I can buy everyone more time,” the drell motioned to the door.
“Well, I’ll help,” Raala insisted.
The drell shook his head, “Only one is needed for the job. You are still young, child of Xaaleya. You still have a bright future ahead. I will be fine. We will see each other again soon.”
Raala struggled but in the end she left with the others. She moved with the crowd. A high pitched shriek pierced everyone’s ears. Raala’s heart dropped. Everyone stopped and covered their ears. A long fingered hand curled around the corner wall. Shortly after a grinning grey skeletal face of a banshee turned the corner. Behind it, a horde of husks ran toward the escaping crew. The converted, grey skinned, synthetic-organic fusions lunged at crew clawing and biting.
Everyone pushed passed Raala, trying to get away. She heard more screams behind her as a squad of marauders, converted turians, blocked off the escape route. Thinking quickly, Raala ran to a grate in the wall. She started pulling at it until the grate came off. As the husks narrowed in on her, Raala slid down the shaft to the lower level.
Raala broke through the grate on the lower level. She’d have to get to the escape pods another way. Fortunately, her route served as a kind short cut. People of all species and races scurried about trying to hurry off the ship before it blew.
She got to her feet and headed for the floors escape pods. The lights flickered until they shut off completely. Red emergency light turned on. Yellow lights in the floor guided crew toward their nearest escape pods. As she ran through the hallways, she heard the frequent screeches and screams of the Reaper forces patrolling for any survivors.
Soon she came across the escape pods. Most of them had been used and jettisoned into space. There was one left half way down the hall. She started down the hall when someone from behind pushed her. As she lay on the ground, Raala looked up.
Her fellow salarian engineer ran passed her. He didn’t even look back as he darted into the remaining escape pod. Raala heard a frightening guttural growl. Looking behind her, she saw a horde of husks shuffling toward her. Frantically, she crawled back away from the coming threat. As a husk leaned in and reached for her, its head exploded.
Several shots were fired, gunning down the remaining husks. Looking for the source of the shots, Raala glanced over her shoulder. The black and silver synthetic stood at the other end of the hallway, heavy pistol in hand. A few seconds later, another figure appeared out of nowhere. As her tactical invisibility cloak dropped, the human Alliance infiltrator became visible to the naked eye. She carried her sniper rifle with confidence. With a nod to her synthetic partner, she headed for the escape pod.
“Affirmative,” the synthetic said as it followed the human inside.
Quickly, Raala got to her feet. The sounds of screeching could be heard in the distance. She sprinted into the escape pod.
Inside, she stopped. Four being were already standing inside. Standing in front of the VI unit was a geth juggernaut. It glanced over its shoulder as it attempted to repair the automatic computer. Apparently, during the attack the pod got damaged. The geth seemed to be trying to bring the computer back online.
Raala glanced at the door. The controls looked damaged meaning the doors wouldn’t close. With the sounds and screaming growing closer, it wasn’t a good idea to leave the doors opened. Raala crouched down in front of the control panel and opened up her omni-tool.
As she focused on the panel, a several husks were thrown past the door. Their faces and bodies were smashed and broken. A varren ran inside followed by the heavy foot falls of a krogan. He barely gave anyone inside a glance as he moved to sit in one of the seats.
The panel controls turned green. Crying and screeching grew closer as Raala turned off her omni-tool. As she stood up, two figures appeared in the entrance. A turian pushed an asari into the pod. The asari fell to the ground and crawled to the back of the pod. The turian shot several bullets at whatever was chasing them. She slammed her fist against the door panel and the doors slid closed before sealing shut.
“Launch sequence initiated. Departure imminent,” the rear VI computer sputtered to life.
Those within the pod stared at each other. The very next moment everyone darted to secure themselves in one of the eight seats around. Raala moved to one of the seats near the back next to the computer console when the salarian pushed her out of the way. He sat down in the seat she was headed for without any concern for her well-being. Instead, Raala sat across from him.
He noticed her looking at him, “What? You made it here, didn’t you?”
Without warning, the pod disconnected from the ship. The lights flickered. Raala struck her head against her over-head restraints. The VI’s voice stuttered as it struggled to report their current status.
Raala gripped tightly to the restraints. The pod shook and tilted wildly. A red emergency light flashed repeatedly. Several alarms sounded repeatedly. Thin trails of smoke started to come from the VI computer as it sparked several times. The shaking intensified. It jostled the passengers about. Raala couldn’t see straight.
Suddenly, there was a massive thud. Then nothing.
The desert nights were freezing. Raala rubbed her arms for warmth as she looked up at the sky. She and the others stood in the middle of the desert. They all stared up at the view above. The sky was filled with millions of stars. A blue glow bathed the sands in light causing it to sparkle. There were just as many stars in the sky as there were on the ground. A small moon rose silently in the east. It was a beautiful view on such a clear night.
But there was a familiar metal object that hovered in the sky. Two long curved metal arms fifteen-kilometers in length surrounded a massive glowing blue core. A set of gyroscopic rings spun around the blue core occasionally causing it to blink and flicker.
“A mass relay,” Raala said out loud. Being forced from their homeworld, the quarians had grown an appreciation for mass relays. Without them, travel across the galaxy would take hundreds if not thousands of years.
Miru placed a hand to her chin, “This is very unusual. There is no record of a mass relay being located this close to a desert planet.”
“Great,” Naryxea stretched her arms overhead. The asari had finally woken up from her shock. She looked over everyone around her, her gaze resting on Vicia, “So I’m stuck on some uncharted planet with you people. Freaking great.”
“Maybe it isn’t all desert,” Vurtak muttered.
Vicia continued walking, “No way to know for sure. We keep going.”