The lights flickered back on in the bunker as the ceiling continued to rumble. Vicia dashed toward the elevator.
“Everyone, move!” the turian called out.
Raala ran alongside Miru. Vurtak brought up the rear. The sound of his thudding footsteps was enough to keep Raala a few steps ahead. When Vicia reached the door, she called the lift. It took a few moments for it to open. When it did, the four of them all piled inside. As the door closed, the lights flickered and the building shook.
“Keelah,” Raala muttered as the elevator rose. There was a crackling over her helmet communication system.
“Hey! Where are you guys!? Hurry up and respond!” it was Naryxea’s voice.
Vicia answered the comm, “What is it? What’s going on?”
“Shouldn’t you be telling us?! What the heck was that flash of light all about!? You practically rang the dinner bell!” Naryzea sounded more annoyed than usual.
“What flash of light?” Vicia asked.
Miru answered, “Receiving video feeds from the Traveler.” She activated her omni tool and activated its video settings.
In front of them a holo-vid played out from one of the ships many cameras. The tower lit up like a Christmas tree, green lights flickered on from the bottom to the top. Once all the lights were on, a beam of light shot up into the sky and pierced a hole through the clouds.
“Apparently, the tower sent off some kind of beam,” Miru summarized.
“You think?” Naryxea said, sarcasm dripping from her voice. “Not to mentioned, that lights show caught the attention of any other ships in the area. There are other ships incoming. We all remember our welcome party right? One of the dark ships from when we first landed is heading to the tower. They’re almost on top of you. Another ship that looks kind of like ours is on approach. They are about thirty minutes out.”
“Keep the Traveler out of range!” Vicia stated. “We’ll try to fight our way out and arrange a pick up somewhere else.”
Naryxea sighed, “Yeah, whatever.”
The elevator stopped. Vicia’s eyes rested on Vurtak, “I’ll take lead.” The krogan grumbled about something under his breath.
The doors opened and Vicia stepped out. As they exited the elevator a massive black ship sailed overhead, dropping off several winged creatures. They were insect-like and humanoid in nature. Their two sets of compound eyes stared unblinking at them. They flittered down onto the roofs of the nearby buildings and the streets before drawing their weapons. A rain of laser fire rained down on the group.
Vicia dashed forward. She extended her claws and, using her biotics, she teleported in front of the nearest enemy. Vicia stabbed the creature, pivoted, and sliced at another one. Miru extended a fist at one of the creatures on the roof of one of the building. An object shot from her arm, instantly freezing her target and partially freezing another. Vurtak pushed passed Raala, shouting a war cry. With his tech armor enabled and his war hammer, he charged into the crowd. He swung his hammer over his head, crushing one of the creatures.
Raala followed behind them closely, drawing her pistol. The group moved slowly toward one of the buildings. They were all outnumbered.
The air rumbled as the Traveler sailed just over the rooftops. Four figures descended from the cargo hold. They landed behind the enemy line. Naryxea used her biotics to land lightly to the ground. As she landed, she extended her hand.
Her eyes turned black and her voice echoed across the battle field, “Embrace the darkness for eternity! Bend to my will!”
Two of the creatures convulsed. When they were surrounded by a strange blue aura, they turned to their former allies and started firing upon them. Under Naryxea’s control, the creatures fought their friends. With her attention focused elsewhere, she didn’t notice one of the creature turn to aim at her. Before it could fire, a loud gunshot cracked through the battlefield. The creature dropped dead.
On one of the rooftops, Widow reloaded her riffle and took aim again. Urz jumped off the roof and ran towards the closest enemy. He lunged at the creature’s throat and tackled it to the ground.
Vurtak growled and he swung his hammer around. Raala ducked down, avoiding his backswing. She activated her omni-tool and aimed it at one of the creatures. A flaming arrow shot from the tool, catching the creature on fire. Overhead, two geth turrets flew through the field firing upon the enemy. Raala saw Consensus taking cover in one of the buildings.
After a few moments, the creatures were disposed of except for the two that Naryxea controlled. She pulled out her submachine gun and shot the two in the head. Her face barely showed any emotion as she did so, as if it was second nature.
“What are you doing here?” Vicia walked up to the asari. “I told you to stay away!”
Naryxea crossed her arms, “Made a call. Besides, you said to keep the ship away and it is. I mean, KIDD’s on autopilot, keeping it safe. Unless you’d rather we just lit you die in a blaze of glory.”
Before Vicia could respond, Consensus spoke up, “Hostiles approaching.”
Raala turned around. The black ship dropped off more of the creatures. Vurtak smirked, slapping the handle of his hammer against his hand.
“Let them die,” he said, looking wildly alive.
Vicia shook her head, “Leave them. I’d rather live to fight another day. Consensus, buy us some time. Let’s go!”
Consensus nodded. It deployed two more turrets from its back. They flew toward the coming hoard along with the two already deployed. Raala quickly accessed her suits comms and activated her omni-tool. She struggled to speak but eventually got out what she wanted to say.
“KIDD,” her voice shook. “We need to arrange a pick-up. Get us out of here.”
Naryxea scowled, “It’s a VI. It can’t do that. VI’s only process data.”
“Then how is it flying a ship?!” Raala snapped at her, “I’ll tell you how! It’s because it isn’t a virtual intelligence. It’s an artificial intelligence!”
Before anyone could answer, KIDD materialized from Raala’s omni-tool. It silently hovered down the east road, in the opposite direction of the hoard. With no one moving, Raala pushed past them. Vicia rallied the others.
Raala followed closely behind the hologram. It turned a corner between two buildings. As Raala followed behind, three creatures appeared further ahead with weapons raised. Raala turned the corner leaving the crewmates to deal with the creatures. Vicia raised her pistol and shot at the creatures. She covered the others as they rounded the corner. Urz stood by her and growled viciously.
KIDD darted into one of the buildings and glided up a broken set of stairs. Raala jumped up the steps. There was a large gap between sections. She barely made it, falling on one knee while her other leg dangled. On the second floor the ceiling was partially collapsed. KIDD disappeared to the roof. Raala moved up the makeshift ramp.
While on the roof, KIDD headed north. Raala stopped at the edge of the building. Three creatures flew up to the roof between her and KIDD. They opened fire on her. She scampered back, reaching for her pistol.
Panicked, Raala covered head.
As the creatures fired at her, a hexagonal shield appeared between her and the bullets protecting her. One of the attacking creatures turned blue before being ripped apart. Widow quickly ran to Raala’s side. She hid behind the shield as she reloaded her riffle. When she was ready, she leaned out and shot down one of the creatures. Riddled with damage from the bullets, the shield suddenly dropped. The creature continued firing, hitting Widow several times.
The human didn’t even cry out in pain as she fell. Her body fell limp on the roof. Her red unblinking eyes stared at Raala. The laser fire continued forcing Raala to concentrate. The creature landed on the roof, approaching her. She frantically reached behind her.
Raala’s hand touched the shotgun Vurtak gave her and swung it in front of her. With a pull of the trigger, there was a loud bang. The creature was blown back and stumbled off the roof. A sharp pain ran up her arm. The recoil was much more than she expected. It had dislocated her arm.
The others came up on the roof. Vurtak was the first to approach her. He roughly helped her up to her feet and dragged her to the roof’s edge. With a strong shove, he threw her across the gap to the second roof. He followed after her, leaping across.
Raala worked her way to feet. It was difficult to do with her right arm not working. Vicia launched herself across the gap and forced Raala to keep moving. Looking back, Raala saw Consensus behind them carrying Widow’s injured body. Miru hovered around the synthetic, obviously worried about the human’s condition.
Vicia led the group over the rooftops, following the floating orb. In the distance, the Traveler dodged cannon fire from the enemy ship. It crested over the sand dune and headed for the outskirts of the compound, disappearing from sight. Creatures appeared frequently all around them, the others dispatched of them quickly.
KIDD led them down to street level again and led them back east. They headed into the desert. The small hologram led them up a sand dune. Halfway up, the Traveler crashed through the sand throwing sand and dust into the air, temporarily masking the crew’s specific locations. The larger ship continued to fire cannons, striking the Traveler’s shields. Traveler hovered, waiting for the crew to board.
Raala walked through the swirling sand. An orange marker appeared on her visor. She looked behind her but couldn’t see the others. Holding her right arm, she continued up the sand dune as fast as she could.
She made it to the opened cargo bay. Vicia was already inside.
“Get to the med-bay!” She motioned Raala.
There were heavy footsteps behind her. Consensus came running through, Widow in his arms and Miru right behind. Raala stepped out of the way allowing them to the med-bay first. Vicia stayed and made sure that the others reached the ship. Raala briskly went to the med-bay.
When Raala entered, it was chaos. Widow lay on the medical bed, blood seeping from out of her suit. Miru worked frantically to stabilize the human. To keep out of the way, Raala sat on the second bed. Moments later, she felt the inertia as the ship started moving again.
Vicia stepped into the room muttering to herself, “Why on earth are there Collectors here on this planet?”
She glanced at Widow before turning to Raala. Without discussing the Collectors, the turian grabbed Raala’s injured arm and popped it back into place. Raala cried out in pain. she held her shoulder as Vicia made a makeshift sling.
The intercom came to life. A male voice gave a ship wide announcement, “Second unknown ship on intercept trajectory.”
Vicia swore under her breath and left the med-bay.
“Tell me if anything changes with her!” she called as she left the room.
Miru didn’t respond, she focused on saving the human with Consensus’ assistance. Raala watched as they frantically raced against time. Suddenly, she ships banked hard to port. Consensus nearly fell over Widow, steadying itself on the wall. Miru held on to the foot of the bed. When the ship balanced out there was an ear piercing tone. Miru stared at the EKG.
“She’s having trouble breathing!” Miru’s tone was calm and informative. Quickly, Consensus reached for Widow’s mask. Miru reached out to stop it, “No, don’t!”
But it was too late, Consensus had already lifted off the spider mask. Raala stood up out of surprise. Instead of a human face looking back, she stared into the face of a husk, a converted human the Reapers used as mindless foot soldiers. The husks grey skin was riddled with blue synthetic parts. Consensus stepped back.
Miru pushed it out of the way, “Move!” She stated administrating CPR.
There was a loud thud and the ship shook. The lights flickered, shutting on and off. Raala could hear the thrusters powering down. KIDD’s voice announced, “Emergency alert! We have been boarded!”
Gunfire could be heard on the first floor. Raala ran to the door. As the gunfire faded, the elevator started to move.
“Please step inside the room,” KIDD’s voice called over the med-bay comms.
Raala did as she was told. The doors closed and locked just as the elevator doors opened. White robed figures disembarked the elevator with weapons raised. They cleared the rest of the floor before gathering in front of the med-bay doors. One of the figures knelt down by the control panel and began a hack. One of the figures stepped forward.
“Step out now and surrender!” she called. “You won’t be harmed in you come out now.”
There wasn’t any response. The figure turned to the hacker. The crouched figure nodded that they were ready. The figure motioned for the other behind her to ready themselves. They raised their weapons, all were aimed at the door. With a nod from the leader, the hacker opened the door.
When the doors opened, three figures stood with their hands up. The leader walked into the room. She looked at the medical bed. A figure lay on the brink of life and death. At the moment, she was stable. The EKG beep steadily.
Miru spoke up, “Please, I’m the doctor. Let me tend to my patient.”
The robed leader glanced over the three figures standing before her, one organic and two synthetics. She roughly grabbed Raala and pulled her out of the room. Raala stumbled into one of the other robed figures.
“Try anything,” the leader stated, “and I’ll kill you where you stand.” She motioned to the elevator, “Take them to the deck!”