Chapter 55- The Husk Mother
Mordin sat as he watched the news play out, showing the devastation wrought upon the Batarians. It left a sour taste in his mouth as he looked to the young Krogan named Grunt sitting across from him, merely sitting and looking at the ground, seemingly for no particular reason.
Mordin then watched as a Turian female, the one Mordin always saw with a curious tail and an odd amount of fingers walked out of a fleshy mass growing on the wall behind the Krogan.
The Turian looked to the screen as well, before she turned away to look at Mordin.
"We have compiled everything we could about the Children of Saleon. The Geth are working on some actual data to give you. If it won't get you onto Gorath Station, then this whole idea might be a bust," said the Turian.
Mordin only partially understood that. The tone was odd, strange considering the incident laying out on the screen.
"What is happening on Khar'Shan?"
"We're looking into it. We don't really have anything yet, but Saleons Children might be involved. If so, it's highly likely the Reapers got to them before we did."
Mordin grunted as he looked back to the Krogan, who seemed phenomenally bored by the events.
Mordin closed his eyes, and took in a deep breath.
Something bad was happening.
Liara lowered her Omnitool as she looked at the footage Morinth and Samara was watching. It had been playing ever since they got aboard this highly sketchy looking ship. Already the footage was quickly becoming a viral phenomenon. Buildings collapsing, people drowning and burning, and who knows what else.
Morinth sat calmly, though was uncharacteristically quiet, with Samara in much the same boat. Their resident captain however was slightly more noticeably affected.
"How in the hell did an asteroid strike happen, especially one that damn big?"
Captain Wasea was a member of Eclipse, who apparently worked quite often with Morinth.
"It screams sabotage, either that or someone fucked up big time," said Morinth.
Captain Wasea nodded slightly before grabbing a data pad situated on a small crate.
"I can't go straight to Omega, I have some stops. I suggest you get comfortable Morinth, you are going to be here for a while."
Morinth nodded before waving Wasea off, her eyes still glued to the screens displaying the constantly updating damage being done to Khar'Shan.
Selin Na'kyr looked over his omnitool. He stood surrounded by hundreds of people, free men and slaves alike, who worked frantically around him. Far in the distance he saw as hundreds of Batarians moved and rummaged through the debris.
It had been days since the talks of the Batarian council. Most of the councilors were preparing for war, though Selin, along with a handful of other Councilors, volunteered for relief efforts. He however knew he was not built to do the dirty work of searching the rubble, though he was more than capable of handling the logistics of the relief efforts.
Even as he worked, he found it hard to look back at the horizon, where tall buildings and skyscrapers once stood. Each small glance was like a stab to the heart, and he did his best to avert his eyes and focus on documenting and sending out parties of volunteers and civil workers.
He focused on his peer, Counselor Dakira Brorcomon, who worked just as he did, only his reaction was much more noticable. There was an eerie dead look to his face as he worked, like a man broken. Selin noticed Dakira would wring his hands from time to time. They were a dark color, and the skin had been rubbed raw. Selin frowned for a moment as he looked back to his assembled files and documents, doing everything he could to focus on them.
He said nothing, neither did Dakira. No one was in the mood to speak, and there were far more pressing matters to attend to.
Ka'hairal Balak stood on the Orbital space station Eye of Syn'dah, looking out the window toward Khar'shan itself. It looked the same as ever from this far up, but he knew what it truly looked like.
He stared for a few more seconds, before shifting his gaze towards the amassed ships. Never before had there ever been a gathering quite like this. Many ships Balak recognized as the 'pirate' ships who had performed many a slave run. Ships that had never been in the solar system where the cradle of the batarians resided. Hundreds, if not thousands of assembled fleets were preparing, and in the distance, many foundries and orbital factories were building even more ships.
Balak then heard the doors opened, and a familiar face walked in, it was the very man who called him here.
Jath'Amon was large for a Batarian, somewhat overweight, but Balak knew his old friend well. Jath'Amon loved his people, more so than anyone else Balak knew, and even though the man had never held a weapon, Balak trusted this man more than any other.
"It is good to see you old friend, especially in these troubling times," said Jath'Amon.
Balak nodded as he watched Jath'Amon slowly walk to his seat, where he grunted as he lowered himself on it.
"You are getting far too old for politics," said Balak as he took his own seat across from Amon.
"This is hardly the time for jokes."
"I have always found tragedy is the opportune moment for them to be honest. Laughs and good will will be rare for the coming days… I heard of the Councils decision, we are to go to war with the Citadel." said Balak.
It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact. Jath'Amon nodded.
"We will, and I pushed your name forward for a promotion. If all goes well, you will lead the fleets as an admiral."
"I would be honored to do so."
"As well you should be," said Jath'Amon jovially as he lightly chuckled, before his face fell.
"I know there is troubling times, but there is another reason I asked you here."
"I figured as much, granted I didn't expect the promotion, but I would think that would be something a message could cover well enough. I wouldn't need to be present for that."
"Yes, truth be told spirits are low, as I said. You have made a bit of a name for yourself over the years. I know it is beneath you Balak, but I was hoping your presence would serve as a morale boost for the men here."
"There are other places my time could be better spent. Although…" said Balak as his gazed turned back towards the window. His eyes taking in the distinct shape of Khar'shan. "I think I can stay. I can probably whip some of these men into shape, if nothing else."
Jath'Amon sighed as he sunk into his chair. Eyes closed as he lifted a stubby hand to rub his tired eyes.
For a moment, Balak had never seen his friend look older. He said nothing as Jath'Amon composed himself.
"War will come. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will come. And it will be swift.
We will strike without warning, just as they have done to us."
Balak nodded. Truthfully, he wasn't so sure if this was the work of the Citadel Council, but he could think of no one else with the capabilities to do something like this.
"It is only fair," said Balak.
Jath'Amon looked to Balak.
"Your tone betrays you Balak. Speak freely, you are amongst friends."
Balak looked away from Amons eyes, as he thought over his words very carefully.
"This tragedy… War would only add to it. This should be a time for mourning."
"Perhaps…" agreed Jath'Amon. "... Personally however, we have been struck a blow unlike any other, We cannot let it slide. This tragedy will fuel the fires within. A soldier will fire at an enemy when ordered, but when he truly hates his enemy, he will fight harder. Far harder than he would otherwise. Heartless it may be to say, but this tragedy is just as much a resource as any other. The Citadel Council is no pushover, we need our men to fight at their best."
"I am not saying we shouldn't strike back, I just feel as if it may be too soon. I have fought in many battles Amon, and anger and hate can be a double edged sword. The men may fight harder, but a man with a clear head will fight smarter. I would take a soldier with a clear head over a berserker any day."
Amon hummed as he stroked his chin.
"I can see your point old friend, but the high council has spoken. We will do as we have done for all our history and follow their decree, whether we agree with it or not."
Balak nodded on that. His eyes fell once more as he carefully rose from his chair. Balak stood over Amon who looked at Balak with a curious eye.
"I think I'll monitor the progress and speak with the captains. If I am to be admiral, I would like to know these men best I can to work better with them."
"Feel free old friend. If you need to speak, I shall be here. I have much work to do, but I can put it off to speak once more if we must."
Balak nodded as he left the room. Jath'Amon looked out the window, his mind flooded with memories and nostalgia.
He could not know that war was to come sooner than expected, but it wouldn't be against the Citadel.
The fleshy extractor lung inflated and deflated as it dispersed the energy from the hydrothermal vent through a series of long veins and sacs across the ever growing organism. Swarms of Mercury fish of various sizes periodically broke from it to swim off in yet another direction to find the Child of Saleon, and whatever had become of it. It was during this time that the fish began exploring the deepest trenches of Khar'shan. A small swarm of a dozen Mercury Fish swam down and down and down, far into the deepest Khar'shan had to offer.
Bioluminescent patches across the sides of the Mercury fish flared to life as their eyes enlarged and adapted to the low light floating orange seaweed flowed at these depths and strange otherworldly crustaceans skittered across the sea floor. The fish explored the strange environment. This deep trench was close to where the meteor hit, and if the missing Eclipse ship was within the meteor, then it would be carried here by the currents.
The hive mind's thoughts turned morbid as they imagined all the damage the Children of Saleon would bring to the Batarians. It was bad enough the meteor destroyed the coastal cities of Khar'shan.
They imagined still living Batarians being fused and twisted together into the ravenous flesh of a massive parasitic beast of ceaseless hunger, much like the fate of Saleon himself when Blacklight encountered his children the first time. They were no more, burned as Saleon's labs were thrown and swallowed by a star. But now, it had been weeks since then, and there was truly no telling what this offshoot of the Children of Saleon could have become since then. Not to mention all signs pointed to the Reapers' puppets finding the Children first.
Blacklight assumed the Reapers would hate the Children as they had hated Blacklight, and figured it was possible that they destroyed the Children and just threw them in a random direction, and they just so happened to hit Khar'shan.
But Blacklight doubted it.
'The children would make an excellent weapon against us,' thought the Thorian.
'Would the Reapers hate not apply to the children though? This is wrong, their hate is absolute, the songs and echos of Nazara's memories reveals that much. They should hate the Children of Saleon as they hate us,' thought the Rachni.
'Technically the Children are not us. More like our bastard son. The Mordred to our King Arthur. The Reapers could be pulling a Morgan la Fay and they are going to raise it to hate us as much as they do. They would only have to come to the conclusion that the Children are different enough to not be their antithesis. If they did that, then they might just think that the Children of Saleon would be very useful to be used against us.'
'I can imagine them coming to such a conclusion. No doubt if they did, they would first ensure the Children would be shackled to their will, much like what they once did with the Rachni.'
'It is a terrifying thought. We still carry the scars from the sour yellow note. We almost feel pity for the Children. Almost.''
'Whatever the case may be, it is better that we assume the Children still live.'
The school of Mercury fish scattered, exploring the area as thoroughly as they could. It was during this time, they saw something in the distance high above the trench. A passing shadow many many miles away, though even here it could be seen. Kilometer long tentacles trailed behind it, though the main body, if that was what it could even be called, was much smaller. By blacklights calculations, the things body was 400 meters long. It was much too far away to see clearly what it looked like, but it's silhouette did not match with any sea life native to Khar'shan.
The Mercury fish shot off, moving as fast as was possible. The shadow would grow and grow and grow as they neared, becoming larger and larger. As they neared, it became clear that the thing was moving, and moving fast for its size, though nowhere near as fast as a Mercury fish, and they would soon catch up enough to whatever it was.
As they neared, Blacklight noticed that parts of it seemed to glow blue light, that extended out in bright beams that moved around as if to survey the things surroundings, but something was off. It did not glow like bioluminescent organisms, and the placements of the light was highly familiar. Features could be seen at this distance. Whatever it was, it was shaped oddly. As they neared, it became clear what was off.
It was a starship. Jona Sederis' starship to be precise. That shape was unmistakable.
There was no doubt any longer, this was the Children of Saleon, and somehow they incorporated the starship itself into their own biology. Fused and melded to it like what they had done with the Broken reactor of Saleons labs.
The engines still functioned, and even from here the Mercury Fish could see the exhaust from the ship was being used to propel it under the water. How it did this without the ship being damaged by the sea water was unknown, but there it was, clear as day. As this information became clear to Blacklight, something happened. One of the spotlights that surveyed the beasts surroundings had passed over the Mercury fish for but a moment, before it froze and almost seemed to focus on the Mercury Fish. For a moment, nothing happened, and then the Child of Saleon screamed.
It was almost like the songs of whales, but there was no majesy to it, no beauty, no music, only a loud cacophonous scream of rage and hate that tore through the sea. The sensitive organs of the Mercury fish were momentarily overloaded by the sound, and they became disoriented from it, right before the shadow shot off at speeds far beyond what the Mercury fish were capable of. The engines of the starship had ignited brightly and it disappeared far into the distance, quickly becoming a small black spot before it was much too far away to see.
It became clear that the Child had somehow saw the Mercury fish, and realized it was being followed, but could it have determined they were Blacklight?
Blacklight calculated the speed and trajectory the ship took, and it became very clear where it was heading.
Immediately, activity across Khar'shan ended, and the biomass all across the seabed began to change shape and began to follow after the beast. It was clear what must be done, they had to act fast.
It was not as much Biomass as they would need, but it would have to do.
WIth that, the hundred thousand tonnes of biomass began to head to the coast, and Blacklight began assembling.
They were not sure it would be enough.
WARNING! BLACKLIGHT LIFEFORM DETECTED ON KHAR'SHAN!
FOUNDRY PROJECT: ACTIVE
ACTIVATE PROTOCOL: BL-404
Dakira Brorcomon and Selin Na'kyr were looking over various files. Most of the groups searches were met with more and more death. Few survivors were found, and those that were found were more often than not in critical condition. The numbers only rose higher and higher as the searches went on.
"By tomorrow, if there are any survivors stuck under the rubble, they will be found dead of dehydration." said Selin.
Dakira sighed as his fingers unconsciously rubbed against his palm.
"We need more men. Progress is far too slow for my liking."
"I might be able to get ahold of some more people to aid in the searches, but not in time for it to do any good." said Selin.
They stood in silence once more as they continued with their work. However, something began happening.
It all started when Dakira's eyes went to the city. The sun was beginning to set and the sea glowed orange and red under it's light, but there in the distance, he saw something. For only a moment a dark shape breached the water before diving back down. His eyes focused on the spot where that… whatever it was once occupied.
It was just for a moment, so fast that Dakira could almost convince himself that he had imagined it. Then he saw it again. Same as before, it breached the surface before it fell back down.
Selin had glanced up as Dakira began to walk towards the window.
"What is it?" asked Selin, but Dakira only gzed outward.
Selin's gaze briefly went to the city, and he fought to ignore the stab to the heart the sight elicited in him, before he managed to tear his attention away to the sea.
At first Selin saw nothing, and was about to look back to Dakira, when he saw what it was Dakira had been looking at.
It was far off, but for them to see it from this distance, it must have been massive. Selin's eyes narrowed as the thing breached the surface for the last time.
It had dove back under, and as they waited, it didn't resurface as it did before.
"Did you see it?" asked Dakira.
"Yes, but what is it?"
"Whatever it is, it's big."
They focused on the waters once more, and they noticed that they were not the only ones who saw it. A sizable crowd were looking over the horizon, where the thing had sunk.
Some of the men had went back to their work as the sun finally slipped past the horizon, plunging the world into darkness. Spotlights that had been set up flared to life, but some of them were moved to point and illuminate the sea.
Selin was about to say that they needed to get back to work, when he saw Dakira take a shaking step backwards. Selin felt his heart began to race as his gaze followed Dakira's.
Standing in the artificial light, there were shapes coming from the sea. Small pinprick shadows emerging from the sea itself.
"The dead, it's... It's the dead!" shouted Dakira as he looked outwards.
It was hard to say how many there were, but they were there.
Before Selin could think on it further, the screams began. One of the searchers, a small group was running down the freshly cleaned streets, sprinting as fast as their legs could carry them as they screamed and screamed and screamed and agonizingly screamed.
More joined their growing rampage as Selin's mind cleared itself. He bolted out of the door.
"Calm yourselves! Everyone Calm Yourselves!" screamed Selin in vain as the crowds ran past him, many screaming at everyone to run. Then Selin froze.
Shambling waterlogged corpses, Batarian corpses covered in painful cybernetics, ran forward. They roared like beasts as they tore through the streets.
Selin watched as some stopped to fall over the dead bodies of the victims of the tsunami, and they started to eat them. Selin did not remain as he turned around and joined the crowds in running as fast as he could as the technorganic malformed dead swarmed.
The horde of Cannibals moaned and screamed as they scaled walls, crawling and leaping like spiders to get to their prey.
Their swollen waterlogged bodies barreled through obstacles, stopping only to feast on the dead, causing metallic scabs to seemingly grow across their skin. The metal scabs behaved almost like armor as those brave enough to fight soon discovered, before they were devoured.
Sprinkled amongst the undead cybernetic Batarians, tall augmented turians marched forward, firing at any in their sights. The cyborg turians moved less like the cannibal beasts, and more like soldiers.
Emaciated and tall undead asari who still wore the metal collars of slaves darted and shot in quick biotic jumps across the battlefield. Their long distended jaws forced open as a mournful and terrifying wail tore from the beasts throat like banshees.
Dakira had joined the stampede, running as his heart beat in his chest, even as each step he took became torture from his tired and overworked legs, but he did not stumble and did not fall. He only ran from the nightmare that emerged from the sea.
Swarms of Mercury fish coalesced and merged together as they made a beeline towards the shore. Already the hive far off was preparing to send more biomass, but it would take time for them to get here. The amount of Biomass available to Blacklight was insufficient for what they needed to do, but it would have to suffice for now.
The whale sized blob shot forward as it began to take shape. It would be dwarfed by what they would be fighting by a large margin. It was three times larger than all of the collective biomass on Khar'Shan, and ten times the size of this blob, but Blacklight could manage. They continued to do all they could to put their cells into overdrive, to cause them to split again and again and again. It was a slow process, but it would have to do.
The flesh twisted and morphed. No longer was this the time for subterfuge and stealth. If the Batarians saw them, then so be it. Blacklight would not put their secrecy over the lives of the people here.
Slowly the blob formed into the familiar shape of a standard bioship as it elongated and grew a sophisticated biotic network. More and more Mercury fish leapt from the sea, forming into the opportune shape to to catch up with the speeding Bioship. Soon the highly sophisticated eyes of Blacklight saw the coast come into view. They saw the shadow of the Child of Saleon under the waves, but what they truly focused on was the screams they could just barely hear coming from the city.
Husks were swarming the city in the thousands. Things had changed, and with the small amount of Biomass available, they only had enough to do one thing, and they chose to go ashore.
The Bioship passed right over the shadow of the Child of Saleon below as it immediately exploded into smaller and smaller chunks that started to form into shapes. Evolved glided down towards the streets as a few infected forms landed on the buildings.
Canine like Brawlers leapt from the remnants of the roofs to the ground where they began to leap and bite and rip and tear into any husk they could get their teeth into. Their thick spiked shells bashed into the horde like giant living maces and a pack of feline-like Hunters sprinted through the husk swarms towards the rapidly disappearing and reappearing Banshees, barreling into them and tearing into their throats with a pair of foot long sabrelike fangs. The Husks' blood and gore sprayed in all directions, and as expected there was large amounts of Bloodtox that poured from the husks wounds, but the adaptations of the hunters caused the concoction of toxic proteins and fluids to easily slide off their had swallowed the gore and with it bloodtox, but it was easily expelled through gills that grew along the Hunters neck that purged the bloodtox tainted blood out of their bodies before it could cause too much damage.
Finally, hundreds of armored evolved joined the fight, some slicing with blades, others throwing directed lightning around like Zeus himself.
The Husks attacked. The Batarian cannibals used rifles that had been incorporated into their arms to fire emerald particle beams at anything they had caught in their sights.
The Evolved continued to fight, as something rose from the sea and crawl ashore. By now, the Batarian military had managed to arrive, only to watch as a beast as tall as the buildings drag itself ashore. Its body was over a thousand feet long and nearly four hundred feet wide, but the tentacles that lashed behind it were over a kilometer in length, and most of the beast was still submerged. In the darkness of the night, they could barely see as the tentacles slammed into their aircrafts, each change in direction from those massive tentacles caused sonic booms to thunder through the air.
Then the shape began to fire. From under the beast, hundreds of precisely aimed particle beams carefully fired at the aircraft. Strange lights across the beast flashed as the beast lashed out, like the waves that once decimated this city, the thing tore through the remnants of the old skyscrapers and brought down ship after ship after ship. Soon the drowned city was covered in raging flames that illuminated the massive cybernetic abomination.
The Evolved below continued to fight the Husks as the thing dragged itself to them.
It was a cybernetic mechanical abomination, an eternal engine of metal and flesh covered in tumorous growths. Its head, the true head was a massive flower with dozens of pedals surrounding its lamprey like mouth at the center, it was a deep cavernous funnel-like throat whose interior was encircled and covered in teeth, far too many inward pointed teeth that lined the entire oral cavity, each one retractable that would sink into the flesh before emerging again like tiny serrated jackhammers.
The outermost teeth were surrounded by a ring of cybernetic eyes, with obvious faces between them. The faces had features of both Salarians and Asari, whose husk-like deformed faces were locked into a perpetual scream. From the faces' gaping maws came long biomechanical tongues, each one terminating in an oversized omniblade. The pedals themselves were jammed with electronics that could be seen under the translucent skin.
The flower's stalk was thin for its size, and through the tightly drawn almost leather-like skin were what appeared to be row upon row of flexible ribs that ran down its neck, easily visible through the emaciated monstrosities epidermal layer. Many glowing cybernetic implants could be seen just between the ribs before the long serpentine neck ended in the beasts body.
The Eclipse star ship that once housed the beast had been repurposed as an armor like shell, complete with a small spinal mounted cannon, that had been forcefully merged to the abomination by the fused remains of various other husks. These husks seemed to serve less as skin, and more as an adhesive to keep the ship intact as the Children of Saleon's own biology began to slowly but surely merge almost seamlessly with the ship itself. It was impossible to tell where the flesh stopped, and the ship began.
The back of the beast had hundreds upon hundreds of long needle like spikes, each spike had husks or corpses in the middle of the transformation process impaled on each one.
The heads and upper torso of various species that had been turned into husks either hung limply, were contorted into painful positions, or had their arms molded into what appeared to be various species fused to serve as twisted yet fully functional particle cannons. There was a countless number of these cannon arms that ran in rows upon the underside of the beast, not unlike the hundred legs of a centipede.
Then there were the primary arms, covered in the screaming faces of everything that fell prey to this mechanical abomination. Each one was tipped in wicked claws that, like the tongues, were tipped in massive omni-blades.
The beast dragged itself across the ground on these arms, trailing numerous kilometer long tendrils behind it that lashed out in wild abandon. They tore through the remnants of the buildings with ease, sending massive clouds of dust and rubble into the air.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the abomination was its unnatural bilateral symmetry the creature possessed. Despite its many grotesque deformities, everything was perfectly symmetrical. Tumorous growth on one side were mirrored on the other down to the smallest minute detail. Veins and wires visible beneath the skin were positioned exactly the same on either side.
Flesh and robotic parts meshed together as the abomination devoured everything in its path, shoveling it into its mouth to be processed and broken down by its furnace-like stomach that glowed blue, so bright that when its mouth opened, rays of blue light illuminated the area around it. Whole buildings were swallowed up by the crushing maw, being pummeled and sliced by the pulsating teeth.
Lights produced from various parts of the creature moved around, almost as if it were looking with them, looking for something to eat.
Then, the spikes upon the beasts back retracted, sinking until only holes in the metal and flesh could be seen covering it's back, At first nothing had changed, but then it's cavernous maw opened far wider than before, as it began to retch. It's stomach rippled unnaturally, like there were hundreds of living things moving within it's body, before it stretched out its long neck and began to vomit.
Husks, thousands upon thousands of husks were spewed by the beast's maw, a flood of cybernetic undead flooded the ground below it, flailing as they attempted to right themselves. The moment they made it on their feet, they swarmed. Waves of lifeless husks sprinted towards the nearest living thing within their sight.
This beast, this Mother of Husks retched the last of its biomechanical offspring, before raising its head up and continuing on its ceaseless rampage.
The Infected and Evolved observed the new swarms of Husks. They were beyond outnumbered, but it would have to do for now.
Jath'Amon looked at the screens in terror. Shambling undead cyborgs swarmed the streets and killed anyone who they got their hands on. When they killed, some would start to eat the corpses, the corpses of his people. Of the people he was sworn to look over and protect.
That however paled in comparison to the giant. It swallowed whole buildings, shoveling them into its gaping mouth where the parts were processed and chewed to become more of those things.
Before Amon could see much else, his door opened, and Balak ran into the room.
"What is going on, we're on high alert, what is happening? Is it the Citadel?"
Balak watched as his old friend took a shaking grasp at his heart, but said nothing. Then Balak turned to the screens. At first, what he saw was the unmistakable shape of a Blacklight Evolved, and for but a moment he thought they were the ones attacking, until he saw it.
It greedily swallowed an entire building into its cavernous maw, chomping and chewing it to bits before the giant abomination. Long flailing tentacles that terminated in glowing blades snatched up any passing aircraft firing upon the creature, to be swallowed into its hungry throat.
Balak looked back to Amon, who could only stare unblinkingly at the screens. Balak worried for his friend, but there were more pressing matters right now. As he moved he activated his omni-tool, sending out a very important call.
"Balak, what is going on?" screamed the voice on the other side.
"Khar'shan is under attack, get everyone to the drop ships, get every tank and gun you have on the ground now."
Balak ended his call, more than satisfied that the one on the other side will begin assembling everyone.
There were too many unknowns.
What was that thing?
How were the dead rising as techno-zombies?
What was Blacklight doing there?
Whatever the case may be, he had targets, and so long as he knew where to point his guns he could do something. He could figure out answers to the rest of those questions later.
Alex himself had shown up on Khar'shan. As his blade cleaved through yet another husk he looked to the Husk Mother as many in the Hive took to calling it. Whatever happened to the Children of Saleon had killed them. They were gone now. This thing, whatever it was, was now an instrument of the Reapers will.
As it swallowed even more aircrafts, Alex sighed.
He really wished that Biomass could move as fast as their minds could move through it. He spun his arm around as it morphed into a hammerfist that dented in the Husk Marauder's armor. It flew off in some random direction as a bolt of directed lightning from just behind him flashed past his head.
He didn't flinch, he had known it was coming due to the hive mind itself.
Dozens of tentacles shot from Alex's torso as he charged forward, skewering everything on the side of him as he shot a javelline of bone into the unsuspecting skull of a far off Banshee.
Even in large numbers, and Bloodtox biochemistry, Husks were easy enough to deal with. They were still dangerous, and at this rate blacklight would lose significant amount of biomass available on Khar'shan to the husks bloodtox blood before they could even make a dent in their numbers,
Calculations on their speed put the bioship fleet coming in within a time frame of a few hours. The Geth and Rachni fleets might be able to get here a bit sooner, but not by a significant margin.
At least Khar'shan's militaries were firing everything at the Husk Mother, instead of try and shoot Blacklight, but it wouldn't be enough. Someone had to take care of the husks, and right now, especially after the devastation, the Batarians were far from ready to handle both the Husks and the mother at the same time.
Alex shifted his arm into a mass of razor thin tentacles that wrapped around a cannibal to tear it to ribbons.
Thank himself that Husks were too stupid to do anything that wasn't the tactical equivalent of a zerg rush, which really Blacklight was so skilled at pulling that particular tactic off that they knew exactly what to do against it.
"Point blank annihilation," said Alex as organic spikes burst from the ground around him, impaling several more cannibals. The spikes were sucked back under the ground as Alex leapt up into the sky to land into a group of husks that was getting frighteningly close to some escaping civilians.
Twin blades from each arm decapitated the husks in a single swipe before he shot back off into battle.
It was at this time that ships began to fall from the sky.
Dozens of dropships hit the ground as hundreds of well armed batarian marines began firing into the collective Horde of undead. The Evolved who were fighting examined the situation as the squads took to the streets and began to efficiently enough keep the civilians out of harm's way.
Satisfied that the victims of this tragedy had ample aid against the Husks, Blacklight began to merge together.
The Husk Mother lifted its head, releasing a powerful mechanical bellow, almost like a roar that tore through the air, shattering glass.
Its thousands of thinner and smaller tentacles that lashed from its maw sliced through any aircraft that neared it. Explosions from heavy ordnance flashed across its body, but the wounds were fast to heal from the damage.
It was at this point a giant tumor shot out veiny tendrils at the Husk Mother. While they were far too short to do much damage, they were long enough to get its attention.
Slithering leech like worms squirmed closer and closer to the still growing mass that began to take shape. Some devoured sea life that Blacklight happened upon on their way to this city had allowed them to gain enough bulk to challenge the Husk Mother.
The mechanical abomination roared as the featureless blob of flesh began to morph and take shape. A thick tail, terminating in a scorpion like stinger slammed on the ground as a pair of massive reptilian, almost dinosaur like legs lifted the fleshy mass up. Eight bones sprung from the molding flesh and began to lengthen as flesh knits around it. Four of the limbs formed into powerful arms with wicked talons. They lengthened and elongated and spread from where the creatures shoulders would be.
Then two pairs of wings unfurled, membranes of thick veined leather stretched tightly between the digits as the pairs began to flap. The larger pair of wings flapped first, and as they rose, the smaller lower pair fell, throwing gale force winds outward as the creature began ascending.
A massive draconian head with a pair of curled horns extended from the brow as six eyes opened and blinked in unison. The head was held by a long serpentine neck that quickly shot out, exhaling gouts of flames from its fanged maw towards the Husk Mother.
The biomechanical abomination roared as the fires from the Bio-Dragon's maw spread across its body, before the massive bulk of the Blacklight Drake barreled into it. Four powerful arms gripped the flesh and metal of the Husk Mother, and the dragon's long tail stabbed into its chassis repeatedly, almost like a scorpion.
The Husk Mother cried as blue and black ichor spilled from its wound. Pseudo-mechanical tentacles shot out, lashing at the striking tail as a much larger set attempted to wrap around the dragons arms.
Sensing this, the dragon dug its feet into the ground as it managed to heft the Husk Mother upwards with its four arms despite its far smaller size. Its dense muscles of the arms tore and its carbon weaved bones fractured before the dragon managed to slam the Husk Mother back into the dirt.
Then the wings began to beat again, releasing the Husk Mother as the dragon took to the skies, exhaling gouts of flames at the Husk Mother. The lashing technological abomination righted itself as a pair of engines along its back expelled blue light and the creature threw itself into the air, flying surprisingly fast after the Dragon.
Its flower like maw opened and spinning serrated teeth sprang to life as the Husk Mother enveloped the Dragons lower right arm before it could ascend to high. The arm was severed as the machine innards began to swallow it.
Of course Blacklight was no mere beast, and within its stomach, the arm began to fall apart and scatter into trillions upon trillions of small ants, who began to eat at the wires and meat of the stomach wall. Floods of liquid poured through the breach in the stomach, drowning the ants, though it was a minor thing as the swarms began to coalesce into small piranha-toothed minnows.
This was not water they swam through, though, as it was viscous and thick. The small fish worked their way deeper into the mechanical foundries, where thousands of dead bodies were packed and skewered on spires.
The minnows chewed at anything even vaguely important looking, until a strange defense mechanism revealed itself.
Hundreds of thousands of small spider like robots, partially melded with machines swarmed the inside, their scalpel like arms slicing at the small Blacklight fish as they released clouds of Bloodtox.
Even as the small fish biomorphs melted, they used the last moments of physicality to destroy and clog up all they could.
Back on the outside the flying Husk Mother and Blacklight dragon fought in the skies.
Coolant spilled from the Husk Mother's maw as its hundreds of particle arm cannons fired at the dragon. Beams of green light cut and tore through the dragons hide. Already the arm the Husk Mother devoured had regrown as the long scorpion like tail shot out at the Husk Mother.
Despite the sizes of each beast, they both moved gracefully through the skies. Even still the Batarian military managed to hit the Husk Mother, and had yet to fire at Blacklight itself, which was a good sign.
Down below, the remaining Blacklight biomass that couldn't make it to the Bio-Dragon had gathered and formed into a single Anansi, slightly smaller than the spiders' normal size.
Its long legs gripped the buildings as it crawled up them.
Its three tails took aim, and fired sharpened shards of bone at the Husk Mother. They hit their target, where they began to rapidly grow into a mess of fungal tissues that restricted the Husk Mother's movement.
The myriad of Husks on the ground that had managed to escape the Batarian forces began to swarm maddly, scaling the buildings towards the Anansi. At the risk of reducing its size the Anansi sunk its feet into the building it stood on, and sent out tentacles into the building itself.
Some of the tentacles further ancored it to that spot, others would lash out and throw any husks that got too close back to the streets.
The Husk Mother had fallen back to the ground as the fungus restricted any significant movement. The Bio-Dragon continued to attack, before the Husk Mother turned its head.
Long fleshy tentacles shot from its mouth, and lapped up some tanks that were in reach.
As the bio-drake prepared to land on the abomination, something happened.
Parts of its skin bulged and rose before the tanks rose from the flesh. The tanks then began firing at the Bio-Drake.
The dragon managed to dive out of the way.
The Husk Mother struggled against the fast growing fungus as it twitched and grew.
Metal parts were forming just under the translucent skin, seemingly weaved into the muscles and veins themselves. Blacklight recognized some of these shapes as parts of the buildings it had earlier devoured. Skulls pushed up from under the skin too, each one glowing as they were packed with electronics.
The Husk Mother was noticeably larger now as it dragged itself back to the sea, where Batarian naval vessels were beginning to assemble. The Technorganic organism eyed the ships hungrily as it quickly dragged itself past the beaches and into the sea. Large tidal waves formed as the beast rushed the ships who now began firing at it.
The Husk Mother exploded in speed as the Batarian navy continue firing at it. While their artillery did pierce the skin and make the thing bleed, it wasn't anything the creature couldn't heal from.
The Bio-dragon shot off as fast as it could, now truly dwarfed by the gargantuan Husk Mother. It spewed flames and crackled with lightning as it threw everything it had at the abomination, but nothing slowed its progress. It made it to a battleship, ignoring fire as it rose from the sea, opening its massive maw and swallowing up the entire ship with ease.
Then it began to incorporate the ship into itself.
Swelling tumors began to grow and bulge from just beneath the creatures flesh. As the tumors grew larger, parts from various military sea ships started to assemble just under the tumor, practically tearing through it. The engines on the beast's back activated spraying out intense heat from behind it as it took off to the sky, blinking out of view at impressive speeds.
Blacklight shifted its own form. The Bio-Drake absorbed the Anansi to form into a considerably sized bio-ship that followed after it as fast as they safely could. Water vaporized from under the Husk Mother as it passed over the open ocean, heading towards its destination.
Unknown to it, now that it was no longer in the city, something was heading for it, and it wasn't Blacklight.
From above the planet, an old weapon system spring to life, its cameras and scanners tracking the fleeing Husk Mother, before it launched its payload. A swarm of a dozen smart nukes passed through the atmosphere as it made its way towards the Husk Mother.
The Bioship had several highly sophisticated sensory organs around it to keep an eye on everything around it. And it saw the flying nukes. Dozens of them, all heading towards the Husk Mother.
The Hive Mind froze.
Memories of the radiotrophic capabilities of the Children of Saleon ran through the Hive. They attempted to speed, but it was far too late.
The nukes hit their target.
When the nukes exploded, the fireball and heat had tore past the ships hull and kinetic barriers though much of the damage was immediately healed. Radiation shredded through the Husk Mothers strange nucleic acids, but the highly advanced repair mechanism were already beginning to rebuild the damage done. Then the cybernetic cells of the Husk Mother began to feed on the radioactive fallout.
A shockwave tore past the Blacklight bioship, causing the bio-ships skin to deform and ripple.
The mushroom cloud was nearly 20 kilometers high, and Blacklight slowed itself as it struggled to fly through the powerful winds that resulted. It managed to fly through the fallout, and Blacklight adapted radiotrophic traits itself to hopefully gain even a bit more biomass.
As they flew into the Mushroom cloud, a massive necrotic tentacle smacked them out of the sky as the Husk Mother continued to feed and grow.
Blacklight continued to attack, but were unaware that pieces of the Husk Mother had been blasted off and flown far away, already the scattered remains began to take shape.
A large battleship constructed of meat and metal breached the surface. A cybernetic head reminiscent of the Main Husk Mother's was sticking out of the ships bow, meshed and fused to it seamlessly. The ship-thing roared as more and more pseudo-ships rose from the sea each one much more alive than any sea faring vessel should naturally be.
A batarian hover-tank with long thin arms snapped its jaws at the sky as its trailing fleshy tentacles lashed sporadically over the water's surface. Its long claws terminated in overclocked omni blade claws that brightened or dimmed with each flex and twitch of its long narrow fingers. The tanks roared as they deftly hovered over the waters surface following after the Battleships who were beginning to converge.
Amphibious aircraft that looked like cybernetic bats shot out from the seas to take flight, each one with razor sharp metallic wings and talons slashed wildly as engines began developing under the aircraft creature. Large camera like eyes crew along the aircrafts side as they began to stabilize and chase after the living battleship.
Soon a swarm of living artillery would make it to shore, and to their destination. A very important city to the Batarians that the Reapers programmed into the Husk Mother's mind. A city of factories and storage containers where weapons of war were currently being built by the masses. Machines of war were being built enmass in response to the meteor strike and the war against the Council. Machines and weapons that could be eaten and incorporated into the ever shifting husks.
The fleets of ships merged and fused together, wrapping flesh, metal, and wire together to form into a single misshapen form vaguely reminiscent of a supercarrier.
Stalking the decks of the Supercarrier were large bipedal cybernetic walkers with metal and carbon talons that paced the decks like hungry predators waiting for a meal. Saurian tails tipped with an omni-blade swung with each step the walkers took. They growled and snarled as loud mechanical wines came from their mouths and throats lined with buzzsaw-like teeth that spun in their gums and jaws.
Blacklight remained unaware of this as they managed to reconstruct their bioship to move quicker. It was at this point that the Husk Mother emerged from the cloud.
It was a giant floating pseudo mechanical abomination, so large that it wouldn't be entirely incorrect to call it a flying mountain. It was only slightly smaller than a Reaper Capital ship. A disturbing latticework of fused corpses surrounded the entirety of the creature, behaving almost like a nightmarish layer of skin. From the seams between the lattice of flesh, hung still living husk-like heads of Salarians, Asari, and Batarians who had their mouths forced open as long bladed tongues slithered and swung from their oral cavity that crackled and pulsed with energy as the internal assimilated Mass Effect core within allowed the thing to simply hang from the sky. Atop this new form form the Husk Mother grew the same Flower like head that it had originally possessed, only now there were four of them, each one swinging around as it roared and snarled like a caged animal.
From below the creature hung four massive arms, that were themselves made from hundreds of thousands of smaller arms assembled from the flesh that it had managed to assimilate. The arms hung limply, nearly motionless apart from small but noticeable twitching skin and jerking limbs. Long and no doubt powerful tentacles seemed to sway and flow under the creature, like the tendrils of a Jellyfish being moved under the water, yet there was an unnatural coordination to the tentacles that allowed them to avoid colliding with each other or the limp arms.
The starship that once formed into a shell had fully been coated in a grotesque weave of necrotic and decaying skin. The stern of the starship was sticking out of the front of the creature like an oversized metal tumor. The only part untouched by the weave of flesh was the exposed spinal mounted mass accelerator that jutted out of what could almost be called the beasts sternum.
Particle cannons emerged from seemingly random ports that covered the creatures skin and hull. The cannons moved back and forth, right and left, almost like a sentry before they all simultaneously aimed and focused on the Blacklight Bioship.
The Bioship flew back as fast as it could when the flying mountain of flesh and metal began to fire everything it had at them. Even the Spinal mounted cannon of the Eclipse ship fired with nearly perfect precision. It didn't take long for the barrage of attacks to tear through the Bioship with ease, scattering its flesh all over the sea in a spray of infected blood and gore. However the Bioship was no mere animal and the scattered remains of the Bioship began to swarm under the water's surface. Swimming towards each other and regrouping the entirety of their flesh into a singular entity once more, only this time the flesh once again took the familiar shape of a Bio-Drake, now much larger after assimilating the Anansi. Yet the dragon was still many times smaller than the Fortress, and when they flew near the Husk Mother, it was obvious that comparing their size would be like comparing the sizes of a carp next to a whale.
The powerful wings of the Bio-Drake allowed it to ascend higher and higher. The increase in distance did make dodging any shots fired a much simpler affair, but they still occasionally struck.
Blacklight had expected the Fortress to follow it, but instead it continued on its previous course. It still fired indiscriminately at the Bio-Drake, which was more than agile enough to dodge most of the shots fired, but the sheer size of the Bio-Drake made avoiding every shot an impossibility.
Then orbital strikes from the Batarian fleet began to rain down from the sky.
The Bio-Drake followed after the flying fortress, avoiding the falling rounds with a series of rolls and spins.
Blacklight sincerely hoped that the Batarians were just trying to fire at the Husk Mother.
Balak fired at the undead cyborg monsters as they began to swarm him. While they were predictable enough to be easy to dispatch, the fact was that they were just too numerous to take out in any realistic time frame.
Not to mention that most of them looked Batarian, and Balak found it much harder to shoot them. Balak never had much contact with Turian or Asari, so they didn't eat as his conscience quite as much.
A salarian husk landed near Balak, crawling on all fours towards him like a spider. Balak put two bullets in its head as his men began to slowly make their way forward. Civilians ran past him and the soldiers, some having to run through a veritable firing squad who did their best not to hit them, but their aim was not always perfect.
This, Balak decided, was hell.
Balak recalled several stories of the Twin Gods of Batarian history. Lore and tales of their ceaseless war.
Order vs Chaos.
Death vs Life.
The tales said that the Twin gods destroyed each other, scattering their souls to inhabit the ancient batarians when their consciousness first emerged.
Much of their history included stories of the Gods war, all of it told in loving detail by ancient batarians.
These things, whatever they were… something about him caused him to recall those stories of war and death and pain and suffering.
Balak was never truly a believer in those stories, but if they did happen, he could imagine that it must have been like this.
This day the dead rose and attacked the living with maddening zeal, tearing and pulling at the exposed guts and organs of the unfortunate few they managed to catch.
It reminded Balak of how he always envisioned the Gods' war. A terrible war where there were no courageous heroes, heroic last stands, or honored battles.
Just like this.
Balak fired off another volley of shots, causing a Cannibal Batarian husk to fall to the ground smeared in metal shards and gore, allowing a young Batarian to slip from its grasp and pass the armies to relative safety.
Balak narrowed his eyes.
He could wax philosophical latter. Now was not the time for his thoughts to wander.
WIth a click Balak racked another heat clip before he resumed his fire.
Then Balak's radio flared to life.
"Confirmed hit, the nukes hit the target. Repeat the nukes hit the Target."
Balak allowed himself a moment of calm, and his heart steadied for but a minute before another message broke through.
"No effect. Repeat No eff… By the Gods… It's bigger!"
Balaks heart stopped as he activated his comm.
"Bigger? What do you mean bigger?"
"Sir, it… It just… It's the size of a dreadnought now… We… Oh Gods! WE FED IT!"
The man on the other end began to devolve into a babbling wreck. Words failed him as Balak heard prayers over his comm. Balak reached to his side as he grabbed another heatclip. As he fired he spoke once more.
"Get ahold of yourself. I need intel. Monitor the situation as best you can soldier. How long until the fleets can engage?"
The other end of the line was silent for a moment as Balak swung the butt of his gun into the face of another Salarian Husk before firing into it several times.
"The ships can't get too close to the fallout. We can confirm the target is moving inland. Blacklight is following after it."
Balak thought of the situation just a bit longer as a pair of ships passed over head, dropping bombs into the densest collection of the husks.
"Sir. There is something ahead of the target… I… I think it's parts of it... They…"
The line grew quiet as he heard the man struggle to compose himself.
"What is that! Oh Gods… They're boats and tanks… Planes, but they're all wrong. They're moving like… Like they are alive. How are they alive… WHAT THE HELL IS THIS THING!"
Balak flinched as a wave of feedback run in his ear from his comm. He clenched his teeth as he began walking forward, firing at everything in sight. The men behind him followed after him. Balak watched one of his men fell, a Banshee seemingly teleporting right in front of him before disemboweling him with a single swing.
The elongated asari thing screamed as it began to hop around the battlefield in short but swift biotic jumps. He fired at its head causing as much damage as he could when he saw its trajectory, and his men joined in when they saw that it was about to pass them up to follow after the civilians.
"Balak sir, the fleets are positioned over the… thing. They are commencing fire, Over."
Balak nodded to himself as he swung his gun back to a swarming mob of the cyborg demons.
"What of the fleets you say broke off from the thing?" ased Balak.
"We're redirecting the fleets approaching from that area towards them, but they aren't going to make it in time. The things will make landfall before then. Over."
Balak still had no idea what was going on, but at least here, he could keep this particular situation under control. At least he hoped so.
It was at this time, something came from the relay at the edge of the Harsa system.
A fleet of several dozen Bioships exited the relay, and they were not alone.
Directly behind them was a small fleet of three full sized Rachni cruisers, each one carrying many tens of thousands of Soldier caste Rachni and even more workers.
Sprinkled among the two fleets were a sizable fleet of distinct Geth Ships who began to pass the Rachni and Blacklight to take point.
Behind that however was the Flagship.
Piloted by the freed Collectors, was the modified Collector Cruiser, a ring of powerful weapons around it as dozens of tentacles trailed behind it. Each tentacle of the Collector ship/Bioship hybrid glowed blue with a biotic corona.
The fleets of ships moved with haste towards Khar'Shan.
It wasn't long until the Batarian fleets scrambling above their homeworld caught sight of their new reinforcements and very unexpected allies.
CODEX: Blacklight lifeforms
Bio-Drake- Also known as Bio-Dragons, these are an exceptionally large Blacklight bioform related to the Flyers, roughly twice the size of a Behemoth and adapted for swift and efficient combat. Most of its adaptations focus on CQC combat, swift movements, and fast strikes. Like flyers, it possesses an enlarged series of hydrogen bladders to aid in flight, these bladders also allow them to exhale flames at its enemies. Despite its large size they are thin and gaunt creatures, only able to hold up the massive weight with carbon graphite infused bones and muscles weaved with metallic fibers.
They possess 10 limbs in total, four arms, four wings, and a pair of legs, each of which can form into various weapons such as oversized Whistle guns and organic electrolasers.
They also possess a single tail that can be used as a blade or can inject various combinations of potent poisons and acids.
Zeus Bioship- After freeing a single fleet of Collectors from Reaper Control, Blacklight along with the Geth, Rachni and Awakened Collectors took the Collector ship for themselves.
By fusing it with Geth and Rachni technology and using Backlight biomass itself as a building material, they managed to build a ship unlike any other.
It is named after both the Greek God and the code name for Alex Mercer before the Rampancy, that was given to Alex by the human Black Ops organization known as Blackwatch.
The Zeus is a heavily modified and highly experimental Collector Cruiser surrounded by a large mass of Blacklight Biomass. It is designed with overwhelming firepower in mind.
Main armaments include Twin Repeating Mass Accelerators, a single forward facing Ship to Ship Particle beam, and a highly sophisticated biotic Network. Smaller weapon systems are built along the sides of the Zeus and the tentacles are capable of forming into any weapon the ship might need should anything attempt to get in too close for the main weapons to be used.
The Zeus Bioship was the first weapon developed by Backlight to combat a Reaper Capital Ship.