Thunderbird: Chapter Fourteen

Starting File Sequence…  Thunderbirds
Loading Digital Data…    Chapter Fourteen
Initializing Play Back…  They Are Here…
Galaxy:   Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Titan Nebula
System:   Haskins
Location: Capek
Date:     2186 CE

The Thunderbird dropped out of FTL. It hovered momentarily suspended in space. The thrusters pulsed on and the ship moved toward a tan and yellow planet. Once the ship was in orbit, the cargo doors opened and a shuttle silently flew toward the sun backed planet.

Tasi’s visor darkened as she looked out a side window at the bright flickering white sun. As the shuttle turned toward the planet, the sun moved behind them. AVI sat in the pilot seat with Vicia standing just behind her. Leaning on the back wall, Vurtak shifted his weight. The helmets krogan wore always reminded Tasi of geckos. Beside him was the geth. It stood silently. It’s black outer armor reflected the light. Tasi’s gaze held on the geth until it turned its attention onto her.

“Alright,” Vicia spoke up, “This is Capek, location of another facility of Cerberus. So far, all we’ve been able to determine is where the facility is located and that most of it is located underground. There’s the main building with several guard lookout posts scattered on the perimeter. AVI hasn’t been able to detect any movement for the last few hours so we need to go in with extreme caution. Expect the worse. Right now, they aren’t expecting us, so we have the element of surprise. We go in, hit then hard, get what we need, and get out. We clear?”

“Affirmative,” the geth said.

“Yeah, yeah,” Vurtak muttered.

Tasi nodded.

Vicia crossed her arms, “Good. Arm up.”

Vurtak grabbed his hammer and cracked his shoulders. The geth reached behind its back and disconnected a geth spitfire. It quickly made some last-minute adjustments. Tasi reached for her ricoty looking shotgun. She glanced at Vurtak who gave her a respectable nod.

The shuttle descended through the planet’s atmosphere. The intense fireball outside the window flared up for just a few moments before dying out. It flew through a pair of mountains and dipped down into a valley. Before them was the facility. Several automated turret stations came to life. The enormous turrets turned away from the facility and took aim on the shuttle as in approached the facility.

AVI piloted the shuttle, narrowly avoiding one of the rockets. She increased the thruster output to increase the shuttle’s speed. The geth approached one of the doors of the shuttle and opened it. Consensus stepped toward the edge. Two devices detached from its back before they deployed, forming small portable geth turrets. The turrets flew out of the shuttle and shot down several incoming rockets. The shockwaves rattled the shuttle. Tasi was glad that the standard magnetic boot was strong enough to prevent her from flying off.

AVI headed toward the shuttle landing area on the roof of the facility, “The shuttle is under attack. I am unable to stop for too long.”

Vicia nodded, “No problem. We’ll jump off.”

“Jump?” Tasi exclaimed.

Vurtak chuckled, “Like this is the craziest thing you’ve done.”

“It actually would be,” Tasi muttered.

“On my mark,” Vicia stepped up to the edge. The shuttle dipped down, skimming the roof of the facility, “Let’s go!”

She jumped. Without hesitation, the geth jumped after her. Vurtak pushed himself off the wall and jumped. With a sigh, Tasi threw herself out of the shuttle. She found herself falling toward the facility. The air rushed against her body as she plummeted. Just when she thought she was about to hit the ground, the boosters on her back activated. Her decent slowed and she landed on her feet beside Vicia.

The shuttle flew away, rockets chased it as it flew out of range. Vurtak drew his giant war hammer. He struck the door leading into the facility. The impact of the hammer and the biotic power imbued in it shattered the door and gave the crew of the Thunderbird a way inside.

Vicia led the way inside. The facility was dark. Only emergency lights lit up the station. Almost as soon as they entered, Tasi grasped her head. A horrible noise echoed inside her skull. Vicia and Vurtak seemed to be suffering similar headaches.

“I am detecting unusual waves of infra and ultrasound,” AVI’s voice echoed in Tasi’s suit.

Tasi struggled through the pain, “What-?”

“When Ip developed the medical chip, she needed a base VI. Thinking I was a regular Virtual Intelligence she used a section of my code. To put it simply, I can feel and experience what you do and can create countermeasures. Creating counteracting wave pattern…”

A few moments later, Tasi’s splitting headache subsided.

“What was that?” Tasi asked.

Vurtak grumbled, “Are we not going to talk about the AI in my suit monitoring everything?”

Vicia shrugged, “Whatever it was, AVI’s taken care of it for now.” She turned to Consensus, “Were you unaffected?”

“It would appear so, Captain-Vicia,” Consensus stated.

Vicia looked around. The halls were empty and eerily silent. She spoke, “Did anyone notice that the turrets were aimed at the facility?”

“Like they were trying to keep something inside the facility,” Vurtak grunted.

Consensus nodded, “It is suggested that we take extreme precaution.”

Tasi activated her drone and sent it ahead of the group. They decended deep into the facility, their footfalls echoed in the empty halls. With Vicia at the lead and Vurtak taking up the rear, Tasi found herself alongside the geth. She glanced frequently at the large synthetic being. At one point, the gieth looked at her. It seemed to be analyzing her with its three photoreceptors before turning its attention on their surroundings.

Vicia stopped in front of one of the larger science rooms. She nodded for Tasi to enter. The little purple drone headed straight for a barely operational console. Tasi activated her omni-tool and started going through the data. Consensus placed its hand on a data storage bank. It appeared to be interfacing with it directly.

“Anything?” Vicia asked.

“I found their main base! This facility communicated directly with the main base, but you won’t believe where it is located.

“Well, out with it,” Vurtak grumbled.

Tasi shook her head in disbelief, “It is located in the galactic core, only accessible through the Omega 4 Relay.” Tasi paused, “It’s all connected.” Vicia stepped closer, leaving Vurtak to guard the door. Tasi continued, “The Pirate facility on Vard, the geth research facility around Ammut, even Omega, everything. Cerberus was behind the attack on Omega. They Created the Adjutants from a facility located in the Galactic Core in order to secure the Omega 4 Relay. Cerberus bought test subject from the pirates and brought them to test facilities like this for a process called indoctrination. Apparently, they were experimentally exposing test subjects to some kind of artifact.”

“Artifact located,” Consensus stated.

The inner walls of the office collapsed into the floor. It opened to a massively larger room. In the center of the room was an enormous structure nearly 160 meters high. It had a semi-cylindrical body, tapering off at the upper tip. Five tentacle-like legs extended from its body, giving the structure a cuttlefish appearance.

“What is that?” Vicia said in awe.

Consensus responded, “The data says that it is a Reaper.”

“What the heck is a Reaper?” Vurtak reached for his hammer.

Just then, the Reaper seemed to power on. As soon as its singular red eye lit up it let out a deep, radiating and earsplitting noise that echoed for miles. In the momentary silence that followed, there was the sound of tinking on metal as something approached them from behind.

Tasi turned. It was a volus, at least it used to be. It was stout and hefty and wore the pressure suits and breathers that were associated with its species. However, large protrusions extended from its body. Pieces of metal were grafted into the volus’ skin. Instead of legs, it stood on three metallic pin point legs. In its chest emerged a cord connected to a metallic piece that it held in its hand. It pressed the button on the end of the cord.

Before anyone could react, Consensus dove in front of everyone. It activated a shield just as the altered volus exploded, throwing everyone back into the large room with the Reaper.

Tasi rolled to her feet. There was a substantial rumble as the cargo bay doors opened exposing the Reaper to the planet’s sky. Around her, doors opened letting in more altered species.

Several massive Elcor, stomped forward. Their skin was pale and rotten. Electric blue cords and electronics glowed from their skin like stitches on a doll. On their backs were cannons attached to blue bulbous sacks. Seeing them reminded Tasi of the Adjutants she encountered on Omega. Alongside them, were several volus who were all primed to explode at any moment.

One of the Elcor, shot off their cannon. It struck the room they were in just moments before. A massive hammer spiraled end over end and struck the closest Elcor, dispersing a massive impact wave of biotic energy destroying the cannon. Vurtak used his jump jet boosters and sailed over Tasi’s head. He grabbed ahold of the hilt of his hammer and powered it again. Vurtak shammed the head of the hammer into the crowd throwing several creatures aside with the biotic blast. Vicia appeared, shouting at the top of her lungs as she sliced and cut through the forces. Overhead, two geth turrets zoomed around, shooting at the disfigured creatures before them. The geth stood over Tasi, he reached for one of his weapons, a handheld Gatling gun, and fired at the enemy. Blue conductive fluids sprayed from the creatures as they were torn apart by the rain of plasma bolts. Tasi’s drone hovered over her shoulder firing rockets. Acting quickly, Tasi grabbed ahold of her shot gun and joined the firefight.

Explosions rattled the facility as several volus exploded and Elcor firing their cannons. The Reaper let out an earsplitting scream. A tracking laser emanated from the massive beast, aiming at the Thunderbird crew below. Two panels opened exposing a massive laser cannon. It looked ready to fire.

Just before the Reaper fired, two beams fell from the sky striking the dome. The blast knocked the Reaper off balance causing its own laser to be knocked off target destroying several of the upper floors instead.

An image of Kritt appeared in Tasi’s visor, “Oi! What the ‘ell’s goin’ on!? You went down for info, now to wake up an angry giant synthetic death machine!”

“Kritt!” Vicia called as she jumped on the back of an Elcor and stuck her claws into the back of its head, “What it your status?”

“Waiting till you blokes get back so we can jump outta this system away from the giant robot!”

Vicia jumped off the Elcor and started slicing at the enemies around her, “AVI! Prepare for pick up! This is going to be a close one! Come on! We have to get out of here!”

“Affirmative,” Consensus stated.

Vicia activated her boosters and jumped to one of the damaged floors above. The Reaper bellowed as it took aim at the Thunderbird as it hovered in the planets orbit. Tasi blasted up after the others. She jumped from ledge to ledge, dodging cannon fire from the Elcor below. The facility shook as the Reaper fired its laser at the Thunderbird. The laser arched across the sky.

Tasi landed on one of the floors and stopped. A mutated krogan stood just before her, armed with a flamethrower made of bone spewing out blue flames. Its skin was pale and leather like. The same blue cords and electronics from the other altered creatures were present.

The krogan aimed the flame thrower at Tasi. Consensus jumped down from the floor just above her. It activated its omni tool and created a hexagonal shield. The flames struck the shield. Tasi ran around the shield and shot at the krogan. The first two shots barely did any damage. The krogan growled incoherently as it turned its attention to her. Consensus brought down the shield and pulled a geth plasma shotgun out and shot at the krogan.

Tasi ran behind the krogan and fired several times with her own shotgun. The krogan used the flamethrower. Tasi ducked down. Blue flames licked the air just above her. Consensus charged its weapons and released the attack. Electrically charged plasma exited the weapon. Intense heat and an electrical charge struck the krogan. It screeched as it turned to the geth. Tasi’s drone appeared and launched several rockets at its target. The krogan went down on one knee.

“Heads up!” Vurtak was on the floor above and threw his hammer toward the geth.

Consensus caught the hammer. It used the hammers momentum to spin it around and raised it above its shoulder. Consensus brought down the hammer on the krogan’s head.

“Up here!” Vurtak called.

Consensus swung the hammer back up to the cranky krogan on the floor above. Vurtak caught the hammer by the handle and slammed it down at something. The Reaper bellowed as it fired another shot. The high-pitched sound of the laser echoed throughout the facility.

Tasi ran toward the ledge and boosted up to the floor Vurtak was on. She stopped. before her was a disfigured quarian. The quarian was broken apart into three parts. Its head was slightly disconnected from its body, connected only by thick blue cords. Then the upper body was disconnected from the legs in the same way. Its legs were made of metal and its left arm and hand were replaced with a three pronged claw. Hoovering around the quarian were several turrets. Underneath Vurtak’s hammer was one of the turrets. The quarian screeched and the turrets attacked.

Vurtak turned and ducked, pushing Tasi to the floor as he activated his tech armor. The turrets fired lasers at the two.

Vicia charged in. Her biotic wave as she ported in knocked several of the turrets out of the air. She ran at the quarian, claws extended, ready to fight. The quarian brought up its left arm, blocking Vicia’s initial attacks. Vurtak pushed himself off the floor, grabbed his shot gun and shot down several turrets.

Consensus’ turrets swooped in and drew the quarian’s turrets attention. Vurtak turned and started firing at the quarian. Vicia ducked down, getting out of Vurtak’s way. She swept one of her legs out, knocking the quarian’s legs out from under it. Vicia got her claws and slammed them down into the quarian’s chest.

The Reaper roared. It fired another laser. This time the Reaper fired at the facility. The red laser rose just on the other end of the hall where Vicia lay above the quarian. Large pieces of concrete and rock fell on and around them. The laser moved upward toward the sky.

“Hey! I’d hurry if I was you! We can’t keep evading forever!” Kritt shouted over the comms.

“Let’s go! Stay together!” Vicia motioned to the other before using her jump jets.

Tasi got to her feet and followed their leader. Consensus was right behind her. She could hear its turrets firing at several other disfigured creatures behind them. As she ran, Tasi felt the floor under her feet give way. She used the jump jets to boost her way up to a higher floor than the ones Vicia and Vurtak were on.

Consensus followed after her. Tasi barely made it to the higher floor. The floor gave way, forcing Tasi to roll to safety. Consensus grabbed ahold of the new ledge created. Its ironclad grip held on to the concrete and rebar. Tasi rushed to the edge and grabbed ahold of its arm. Its’s weight nearly pulled her over. Below, Tasi saw a massive cloud of dirt and dust rising toward them. Consensus activated its jets once more, carrying Tasi up through a hole to the floor above. It threw her forward. Tasi rolled to her feet and continued running.

The roof crumbled exposing the sky above. Tasi jumped and boosted through the opening. Out in the open, Tasi felt like she could breathe better. It was short lived as she felt the building shake underneath her feet. The roar of the Reaper was followed shortly by a laser shooting up into the sky.

The ground before Tasi broke open. A massive hammer broke through the roof. Shortly after, Vurtak boosted through, grabbed his hammer and reattached it to his back. Vicia jumped onto the roof.

“I’m coming in!” AVI reported.

The shuttle appeared shortly, flying low near the roof. The facilities massive turrets fired rockets in its wake, further destroying the facility. AVI flew alongside the group but closer to Tasi. The shuttle doors opened. Tasi boosted inside. She rolled on the shuttle’s floor. Consensus jumped onto the edge of the shuttle, holding on to the outside as it extended its arm out to assist the others. Vicia grabbed its hand and it threw her inside. Vurtak dove in after her. Consensus closed the door after them.

AVI turned the shuttle up toward the atmosphere. As the rockets further destroyed the facility, the Reaper emerged from the rubble. It rose, like a rocket ship only with little to no difficulty and with no obvious signs of thrust.

“Can’t this thing move any faster?” Vurtak shouted.

AVI pressed several buttons before grabbing ahold of a lever and pushing it forward. Tasi slid to the back of the shuttle as it’s boosters were set to max. The shuttle rumbles as it rose through the atmosphere. Soon they were in space.

It was too soon to rest however. A laser pierced through the atmosphere towards the Thunderbird. The path of the laser crossed the shuttles path. AVI, with supper human abilities, threw the thrusters into reverse. The Thunderbird barely managed to dodge. The laser grazed the ships shields. The laser followed closely after their movements until the beam died down. In retaliation, the Thunderbird fired a burst of laser back at the Reaper as it rose through the planet’s atmosphere with ease.

“I suggest that you increase your pace!” Ip called over comms, “The longer we stay in this system, the more likely our destruction!”

“Opening Cargo bay doors,” Yatka stated.

AVI sent the shuttle forward again. It flew into the ships cargo bay. The doors closed behind them. The red emergency lights flashed on and off and alarms blared their droning notes. Kritt immediately turned the ship around toward the edge of the solar system. The Reaper was hot on their heels.

“Shields are at 30%. The left wing has received some damage and one of our rear boosters is not responding.” Yatka reported to Kritt on the bridge, “The right blaster is shorted out.”

Kritt dodged another attack, “Give me power to get outta ‘ere! Divert all non-essential power to charging up the drive core.”

Ip tan over to another screen, “Diverting power from all non essencial systems. The drive core is at 69%…80%…100! The drive core is ready!”

“Then let’s get outta ‘ere!” Kritt  increased the thrusters and pointed the ship toward the systems Mass Relay. The Reaper shot at them. Kritt managed to avoid the brunt of the attack but the shields dropped another 15%.

Ip jumped into the captain’s chair and started typing on the screens, “Sending weight information for mass conversion. Opening mass-free corridor.”

The Relay started pulsing in sync with the ships drive core. The Reaper attacked once more as Kritt brought the ship alongside the Mass Relay with the laser hot on their tail. The Relay grabbed ahold of the ship and threw it across the galaxy just as it was destroyed by the Reapers laser.

Kritt relaxed slightly as Vicia and the others walked onto the bridge. Vicia stood up onto the main platform moving Ip out of the way and started going through the data they had collected.

“What the heck was that?” Kritt looked over at her.

“Something called a Reaper,” Vicia said. “Apparently, Cerberus had been using it and others like it to change organics into things like the Adjutants on Omega. In fact, we have concrete evidence that Cerberus deliberately created and released Adjutants on Omega from a secret base in the galactic core. We need to notify Aria—”

An alert sounded over their comms. It was an emergency broadcast report hailing from the Turian Hierarchy. A male turian stood in front of the screen. Underneath was a notice stating that this was a galactic address.

“Greeting, Galactic Community. This is Palaven’s Primarch Fedorian and I have been authorized by the Citadel Council to share some crutial and important information to share with all Citizens,” the turian spoke with a deep calm and soothing voice. With a deep breath, he continued, “The Galaxy is at war. Comm bouys have gone dark near Mactare, a star system home to the battered turian colony world of Teatrus. It has been confirmed that the attackers were the same insect-like ships that attacked batarian and human space.”

Images of Earth appeared on the screen. Massive Reapers descended on the Earth, destroying and attacking the planet with a vengeance. The Primarch continued, “The attackers are called Reapers. They are a race of intelligent starships that can turn their prisoners into willing slaves. There are many mysteries about this enemy, but we know enough. They have attacked out kin and so it is war with them. War until victory. War however long and hard the road may be. War until they can never threaten us again.”

More images and video of the Reapers attacking played on the screen as he spoke, “Now is not the time to be enraged. Now is the time to harness out will and do what must be done. We must show whatever civilization we face that it picked the wrong foe.”

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