A/N Well, after a long, long, long absence Shepard's back...as are the Hyst so do be prepared for lots of running, swearing, gory deaths, fear, terror, more swearing, arguments and far too much coffee. I didn't think this story should be left unfinished, there are far too many people still interested, even after all this time and I've reached a point where its worth starting again.
Welcome back to Dark Wings.
The empty corridors, deep beneath Alpha were alive with the flickering orbs of light as the two men cast their searchlights across the walls. They stood on the edge of a vast precipice that boiled with white clouds.
"Coolant." The aptly dubbed 'Ant' checked his omni tool as the holograph showed multiple flashes of energy. "Looks like the powercells that power this place are raised from down there."
"Scout around…see if you can find a control panel." Ghost's voice was barely audible above the rumble of machinery far below their feet. "We're heading up to the main station, right now."
"Sir. Any signs of that Alliance crew?" Ant signaled for the other to follow as they followed the precipice. Far below, tiny flashes of light which were definitely not the grav-orbs were passing back and forth, reflecting light rather then creating it. They were rapidly moving as if carrying out some designated task, moving from console to console, from bright panel to bright panel. Some were clustered around a small hole in the wall just above Ant's head, tiny beams of light playing around the exterior of the hole. It was producing smoke; the tiny beams cut the damaged layers away as the robots, like miniscule slips of metal slowly but surely close the gap.
"Why're they only mending it now? You would've thought they'd had all the time in the world to fix that blemish." Ant gestured down at the small swarm as behind him; 'Hell' grimaced and fingered the firing stud of his shotgun. He was rather uncomfortable, eying the grav-orbs that hovered above his head.
"Maybe the towers systems have been transferring all synthetic life forms to deal with the destroyed tower. It could've taken them some time to finish what repairs they could before returning here." Stylo's smooth tones echoed across a swearing Ghost's as he was abruptly cut off.
"How exactly, that tower's a wreck."
"Maybe repair the superstructure isn't the highest priority. Usually with machines they'll attempt to repair the delicate machinery which serves a purpose…perhaps getting the old systems back online. Hence the reason they've already just got around to fixing the gap…it must've been just a long way down the list of tasks they had to accomplish."
"I hate robots."
"Don't say that, they might hear you."
There was a garbled crackle before 'Ghost's' hard tones burned back through "Alright! That's enough. Focus on your objectives and please do not try to get interested in the wildlife. I had enough my plate last time one of you idiots decided to wander off."
"Alright…" 'Ant' brought his hand to up to squint into the far distance. Suspended between two sheer walls and over a gigantic precipice, a single crystalline bridge held a large holographic display. On it, multiple segments of holograph flowed and twisted, a cloud of tiny dust-motes which moved like fireflies above the small flat dish.
"Looks like a control panel. I say…Check for…ah…anything that'll raise the cells. There must be a raising mechanism or something…perhaps a grav-lift. Look for a sigil which resembles…um…perhaps… "
"You heard the doctor." Ghost snapped as Ant made a face, trying to work out which piece did what.
"Looks more like a decoration then a working engineering panel."
"I do wonder how many digits the protheans had, but for arguments sake lets just say it's a tiny image of what you want to happen. Just look a little closer."
"I hate these kind of optic displays."
"Well, then you shouldn't of volunteered."
"Whatever." Ant stooped to peer at the whirling images "What're you doing?"
"Theres a door." Hell was quite a few metres away, walking along the ledge, his hand brushing along the walls as he moved. At the far end of the room, at the beginning of the precipice, was a large cog shaped door. It was heavily reinforced, multiple armored hard points secured to its surfaces. And it was a rusting, hulking chunk of metal imbedded into the wall of the facility. And above, millions upon millions of grav-orbs circled, seemingly trying to get through the wall above the door. They bobbed up and down above the door in tiny specks of glowing blue.
"What do you think's through there."
"Something important…" Hell peered closer at the door "…looks like…well, I say…nuclear bunker."
"Prothean ruin, mate, old, not nuclear…." Ant stirred the holograph with one hand an activated his omni tool. "Vault?"
There was a rumble. Suddenly, in a sudden roaring rush of noise, the lights suddenly flickered on, the white sterile space blinding both the soldiers. They cried, shielding their eyes against the sudden glaring intensity, their grubby black plates standing out in the sudden clean white which scoured all the surfaces clean.
And at the far end of the hall, the sirens sounded and the door began to rumble open.
"What did you do!" Hell yelled over the noise as Ant raised his hands, perplexed as the holograph flickered and changed, shimmering as the projector was flooding with power.
"Don't look at me! I haven't touched it!"
"Then what is it?" Hell turned as the door opened. Unlike the sterile space they stood in, the out rush of stale air seemed to dirty everything. Beyond the door, there was nothing; just darkness.
"What in hell." Hell murmured before his head came off, his blood spraying across the white walls.
Garrus jolted as the howling echoed through the empty halls. Kaiden swore as Tali pulled her Shotgun to bear. In the blinding white sterile space, the three circled, trying to draw a bead on something…anything.
"I hate that sound! What it hell is it!" Tali ducked down as they started to run, following the grimy foot prints of the single quarian VI as it walked on.
"That sounds like…" Garrus felt suddenly very cold as he remembered the things in muerta, the monsters in the dust, the Hyst. "Reavers…oh no."
A mass round impacted on the wall by Garrus's head, the small team splitting up as across the room, stooped behind a barricade, several green asari opened fire.
"Shepard!" Garrus slotted his finger into his ear as the cover blew apart, Tali skidding to a halt in the cover behind a small data display. It seemed quite durable, even though it was a delicate silver mechanical display board. "We're under fire. Looks like…" a biotic bolt shot by his head and impacted, exploding out in a spray of bright blue discharge. "…a few Asari soldiers. What are they doing here?"
"What colour is their skin?"
"What?" Garrus crackled as Shepard clamped his hand to the side of his helmet as the radio distorted. "What does skin colour have to do with any thing?"
"Just call it racism…a hunch, Garrus, a hunch…don't ask questions."
"I hate his hunches." There was a crash as a super heated bolt winnowed by, catching a grav orb as it hovered a few feet away from his head. It shattered in a spray of a white fluid, the turian raising his head up over the parapet to get a better view. He was back down in a second as his scales was nearly taken off by another stray round.
"Green! They're green! You happy now!"
"Garrus! You're bleeding!" Tali was by his side before Shepard had even responded, a small medi gel salve spreading across the wound which neatly split Garrus fringe in two.
"Right." Shepard released the bead in his ear and sunk down onto his haunches. The howling was even louder now, echoing through the corridors. Even here, Shepard could hear the slap of bare feet against the stone floor, the commander resting the rifle across his knees as he checked the omni tool.
"Signal just dropped out," Ashley remarked loudly as she let her rifle pan its way across the stairs which formed the entrance to the vast wide space the occupied. Beyond the crystal ceiling, the walls picked out with beautiful blue filigree. It glowed in the half light, reflecting the freezing cold world beyond where the storm continued to turn. It'd been silent, before the howling, the halls echoing with their footsteps as the three moved slowly, wary of every passing shadow.
Wrex rumbled as something flitted through the darkness some way off down the corridor. Already, Wrex was already feeling the smallest tug of worry somewhere in the back of his mind. That wasn't something he felt, not usually anyway. Thing is, most monsters and mercs Wrex dealt with were, well, killable. He'd shot that varren twice in Muerta and it hadn't even winced. Even the Thresher Maw had reacted to his shots and one single measly Varren had looked into his eyes and kept on going. That wasn't right, that wasn't the 'natural' order of things. Usually the natural order involved death by been chopped up into lots of little pieces.
"I thought…" Shepard began before grimacing "…so."
"Why's it so important what colour they are?"
"Nothing really." Shepard pulled himself upright "Just a thought." The mass rifle whined as its power cells whirred. For a moment, Shepard was caught in the light of the storm, his form becoming shadowy as the lights along his rifle brightened "Don't worry about it. Just make sure you shoot them in the head when you kill one. And switch to incendiary rounds, I think they'll pack a punch."
"That…" Shepard raised an arm, pointing down the corridor to where the shapes flitted and twisted "…is with them. I get the feeling that if you just leave them lying there, they're going to get back up, whatever state they're in."
The firefight beneath the hundreds of grav orbs, where Tali crouched ended with several shot sharp cracks. Which usually isn't the way most firefights ended, the silence which followed seeming to get heavier. Lights, flashlights were flicking over the walls as the warble of short wave radios broke the silence, Tali finding the space in front of her face invaded by one large shotgun. It was a rather alarming specimen, coolant dripping from around the muzzle while vents built along its topside spewed an odd white smoke which curled lazily around the gauntlets of its owner.
"Get up. No smart remarks either, I don't have time for messing around."
Tali let her hand drape over the bulky handle of her shotgun. The Cerberus operative didn't even flinch, his weapon pointed directly at her head. At this range, the round would've taken her head clean off. As would her rifle but getting it up into a usable range would take longer…perhaps she'd settle with his toe instead…or most his foot, lower leg and any other appendages that got in the way. Which was a rather un-quarian thing to do.
"Get up, now."
"I'd do what he says." A rather gruff voice sounded in her ear as several large gauntlets seized her shoulders, the shotgun skidding away as Tali swore loudly. Breathing suddenly became difficult as her neck encircled by a large armour plated arm, white ceramic plates grinding against the exterior of her suit. Shields distorted, unable to cope with another shield invading its space as several more heavily armored commandos came into view.
As did the rest of the room. The once black floor ran with blood or ash, the walls splattered with a green fluid which dripped down onto the floor. Dead asari, their faces set into many different expressions of fear and pain were spread across the floor, limbs at odd angles or burned to a cinder leaving ash scattered across the floor. Most had sustained grievous head wounds, most after death seeing the lack of blood; the wounds seemingly close range with incendiary rounds leaving smoking craters.
"Let me go you Bosh'tets!" Garrus had his hands raised as did Kaiden as two burly commandos gestured for them to stand back as Tali shrieked, trying to break free. The grav orbs were shining even bright now, sinking down to follow the soldiers as they went around their tasks. Most seemed to happy with collecting samples from the fallen asari soldiers while some were inspecting the equipment. One, a much slimmer build in her black and white armour had a gauntlet resting at the base of her visor, seemingly admiring an odd wall panel while her omni tool brushed back and forth.
"Empire and Beach are dead, Sir." Ghost glanced up, wrenching his combat knife from one of the corpse's chests as one soldier tapped several sigils on his omni tool "Their life signs just dropped out and I'm reading muzzle flares along the lower corridors."
"Damn, then that means we just lost our landing zone." Ghost checked the knife before slotting it back into its pouch on his chest before resting a hand on the other's shoulder "They were good men, I'll try and make sure that Cerberus knows that. I don't care about that red tape bullshit and disclosures. And you!" Tali suddenly found herself staring through a visor. "Why in hell are you people here? Heck, why in god's name were quarians even on this planet?"
"We're alliance military." Kaiden snapped as Ghost turned, several other soldiers sprinting to guard the exit as the howling increased in volume "We are following a group of…" he gestured sarcastically knowing full well everyone in the room had an inkling of what was going on "…'terrorists' we believe are responsible for attacking a colony."
"Not alliance." Stylo said curtly as she checked her omni-tool. "SPECTRE, you're just using an alliance ship after the previous commander was inched out. Piece of alliance hardware which for some reason was given to you and not put into mass production. If I'm honest that sounds a waste of money to me."
And that was it; any conversation from that point on was drowned out as with a yell, the operatives guarding the door out opened fire. Tali was dropped as down the corridor, the grey writhing bodies of Hyst exploded from the walls, screaming as they charged. In the storm of incendiary rounds, hundreds fell, their bodies falling to pieces in a cloud of ash and fire. But behind, hundreds more followed. These were like nothing Tali had ever seen, just twisted hulks of flesh and muscle, heads replaced with tendrils that twitched in the air, arms and legs replaced by warped forms. Unrecognizable as living things, the hyst flooded the corridors, crawling along the walls or scuttling along the floor. The noise was terrible, the deafening scream of the damned as the 'things' clawed their way across the walls, the floor, some scuttling their way across the ceiling, pieces of their skin dropping away as muscle stretched and changed.
The dead Cerberus operatives were among them, their armour splitting apart to allow growths to explode forth. Ghost felt himself go cold as he shouldered his mattock rifle and opened fire, the high caliber barrel roaring into life as he tore apart the leaders of the pack, rounds specking the leader, tearing through it to shred a follow in a spray of vile green fluid. The gunfire was deafening, Tali skidding free from her captor as she reached for her discarded shotgun. The others were moving too, pushing past the operatives as they rushed to join the firefight.
"Fall back!" Ghost roared over the noise as the front few fell back, their rifles overheating. "Retreat! We can't hold them here!"
"Drav'it!" Paranoid skidded backwards as a claw sliced past, disemboweling one of the others. The wounded soldier fell, screaming in pain as he was dragged away into the slavering jaws of the Hyst. He didn't last long, Ghost shielding his eyes as the still breathing man was brutally ripped apart. The horde, in their hundreds were pretty much in a bottle neck but seeing how they crawling over the bodies of their fallen, it wasn't an advantage. It was more like staring into hell itself…not even Elysium, matched this.
"Run!" His shout echoed through the halls as Tali turned to see the soldiers breaking formation, scattering as behind the horde broke through the wide open entrance. More fell, operatives been dragged away to be ripped to shreds. Panic was all Tali saw and felt, staggering backwards. She caught her foot, the ceiling roaring past her head as she fell, hands scrabbling for purchase. Kaiden caught her, dragging her after him as he ran, Garrus swearing as he turned, opening fire. Hyst fell but without the incendiary rounds the operatives were using, they were rising up onto their feet moments later.
"Its not working...then how are we supposed to stop them..." Garrus breathed as Tali was pulled upright, glancing down to where the old Quarian VI lay, scattered in a pool of white fluid. They hadn't spotted the fallen synthetic when they'd entered the room, but there it was, its breast plate punctured with multiple holes. It was still gargling as Garrus stooped down to its side, hands clawing. It was staring up into the circling grav-orbs high above its head, seemingly mesmerized by the movement. There was no way he could do anything, no data ports from where he could take any data. However many geth he'd killed, Garrus felt a slight sense of loss as the VI whirred and clicked. He didn't want to give up…no…Garrus's eyes narrowed as one by one the operatives fell back, the passageway becoming busy as more and more soldiers ran passed. He wasn't going to give up.
It was a mad sprinting gun fight from there through the twisting corridors. Staircase after staircase passed by as Tali, her legs burning staggered to a halt. Behind, the Cerberus operatives were still engaged in heavy fighting, hunkering down at the base of old columns. Not that it helped, the screech of the Hyst was still ringing down the corridors and the swarmed the barricades, claws tearing across the floor, smashing the soldiers apart as Hyst exploded into smoking piles of flesh as rounds cut them to pieces. They didn't stop, one blow tearing a man in half. He fell away gargling, flopping around on the floor as his brain fired a few last times.
"Highly adaptive lifeform," Stylo dragged Ghost upright as he fell, swearing as he dropped his rifle. It snagged, held in place by a cord around his wrist. He caught it in the first swing, as he checked his omni tool. A map flashed by, but it was incomplete, parts missing. From this point, it was all guesswork. "I've read files but this is…this is…"
"Science rarely is." The rifle whirred as it reacted to his touch, Ghost checking down the sight, into the corridor behind.
"I'm so sorry about you men."
"Its nothing," Ghost snapped, "They were all mercs, hired guns. Paranoid and you are pretty much the only people I can trust at the moment." He grimaced behind the visor, checking his rifle as ahead Paranoid activated his omni tool.
"Theres a door ahead!" Paranoid's nasaly voice echoed across the intercom just as one of the other merc's died a horrible death. "Fegging thing's locked."
"Right," Ghost groaned as Stylo rushed on ahead, her knowledge of the prothean systems better then anyone else's "We're so screwed."
Through the ice and snow, the freezing biting air, the amphitheatre was alive with hundreds of blue flecks of light, the energy whirling as Eve, her grey cloth floating around her form raised her hands, the lights flashing on her finger tips. Beyond the walls, out into the open sky, the centuries old machinery were pouring power along the towers. Across the planet, through out the snowy plains and beneath the snowy mountains, chasms were exploding from the snow as plates rose up to let the fuel lines to vent. Across the world, machines roared into life as glaciers shook, splitting to reveal black rock beneath, the remains of ancient buildings smashing through the ice.
Lightning flashed as the spines of old satellite arrays rose up into the clouds, the entire storm system shifting as it adjust to let the city beneath the ice break through. Streets, empty of everything but snow were beginning to pick their way across the ice fields, hundreds of empty houses and thoroughfares breaking apart entire mountains.
"What in hell!" Joker yanked hard on his harness, locking it into place as the entire craft pitched down in a cacophony of sirens and alarms. The Normandy pitched down as in a roaring, screaming air, the walls of black rock and angular metal burst through, knocking aside entire mountains.
"The entire planet is reacting to something!" Wynne snapped, bracing himself against one of the walls as the blue interior lighting snapped off to be replaced by the ominous crimson warning lights.
"No one sent a memo about this!" Ground whipped by below as the Normandy spun out of control.
"What in hell is that whining noise!"
"That's the proximity alarm." Joker slotted his finger into one of the holograms and silenced the buzzer as several more turned on. "And that's the capacitor telling me that the engine's on fire."
"Oh how terribly droll. Have I ever told you I hate flying?"
"Gotta love it…" The craft pitched up as blue sky whipped by. Wynne caught sight of stars through the blue before they were back into the cloud, the ship skimming the white ground. Ahead, the ground the was breaking apart, lumps of ice twice the size of the Normandy plunging down back into the snow as a wall, several hundred metres wide broke through, rising up into the sky. "Now hold on."
"I guess this is what you pilots refer to as 'getting a bit hairy then'?" The Normandy twisted to one side, its left wing tip skimming the snow below which was quickly becoming a blizzard. The deck plates were groaning now, the entire ship juddering as the engines flared, Adams applying the capacitors once again to negotiate the burn-through as the core flared.
"Up hill both ways." Joker muttered through gritted teeth as the wall continued to rise up; the noise of groaning deck plates and overstressed metal work was blocked out by the noise outside. An entire city was coming together outside and it was threatening to take the Normandy with it. Wynne glanced across, his own fingers laced around the seat's arm rests to see Joker, his face unbelievably pale, leaning close up to the monitor.
There was a crump as wing caught black rock, sending the ship spinning. White and black rushed by as the consoles went red. Wynne, pressed back into his seat as they spun, the craft getting closer and closer to the frozen ground. And all he was aware of in the spinning crimson illuminated hell was the quiet prayer behind his head as one of the technicians had her head against her hands, whispering into her fingers. Wynne turned back, shaking his head as Joker ground his teeth, pressed into the side of his seat as the G-Force set the skin rippling across his cheeks.
"If I die Joker, I'm going to kill you."
The locked door in question was a thick bulkhead which sat at the far end of a long, brightly lit corridor. At least a foot thick, the door seemed to be still following some past instruction as across the entrance console the symbol of quarantine was still revolving.
"The lock mechanism is quarian make," Tali adjusted her omni tool as Kaiden checked his pistol. "Looks like they tried to seal the door perhaps, from the other side or maybe its some old subroutine, perhaps the entire facility shut down."
Population; One million. Seven Five Seven gargled, hung across Garrus's back held in place with several straps of webbing. Its head piece was laid across his right shoulder, optics whirring painfully as its internal parts struggled to work. And increasing.
"How in hell is it increasing?" Kaiden snapped, spotting three of the Cerberus troopers rise into view. Behind them, the howls of the Hyst were still echoing through the halls, the scrabble of nails and claws against the stone floor getting even louder.
Activation of Menith Station led relaxing of quarantine measures put in place by Subject; Prothean. Data records retrieved from Vortex Station by Fleet Science Team signature pattern sigma shows that previous inhabitants of the city were sealed beneath the city streets. This course of action was not due to threat from 'Reapers'.
"Damn." Kaiden breathed as Stylo pushed by, not even bothering to stop her.
In detectable range, population numbers one million. Further scans show that catacombs are extensive and the possibility that population is higher the first estimate is 99.9999999% with 9 recurring.
"Get that door open now!" The Hyst were now a gigantic horde at the end of the corridor now, the leaders sprinting out ahead as their legs lengthened, muscles distorting to let their already loping gait lengthen. Ghost stood waiting, his rifle glowing a bright red as he fired, swearing into the faces of the 'things' that tried to tear him limb from limb.
"Charlie!" Stylo could be heard yelling over the intercom as the squad leader slowly began to walk-backwards, the horde clambering over the bodies of their dead. Jaws distended as mouths within the chests of what had once been Protheans adapted to suit the food they were about to tear apart.
"I'm not one for desperate last stands and noble sacrifices. Don't worry!" Charlie took a few steps back as one tentacle nearly took his leg off. Paranoid swore behind as he tossed a grenade, the incendiary tearing a hole in the crowd. "Argh! Get back ye bastards!"
Tali dragged her omni tool over the surface of the old locking mechanism, the console toning as it rejected the hologram's demands. She tried again, feeling the omni tool fizzing around her fingers as the machine rejected her attempts once again. She swore, wrenching the casing away from the console in a cloud of sparks and wires, holograms flashing by her fingers as the haptic display built into the lock malfunctioned. Blue wire, red wire, black wire…pink wire? Tali threaded each wire through her fingers, taking her time. Like each time she took apart some machine in the heat of battle, time slowed, existence pausing. It was easy to see the desperation written across Kaiden's face, the human's face lined and fatigued. And the others, Garrus crouched just behind her, the rifle firing in slow motion, rounds hanging in air as they spiraled away. The leader, the Cerberus operative was retreating, even slower now, each step agonizing to watch. The one who'd rushed ahead was silent mouthing words, swearing and gesturing at the panel.
Tali didn't react as she was pushed aside, Stylo taking over. There, in the middle of the horde stood a quarian. It's suit was ruptured, face plate fallen away to reveal a warped mess of flesh. But it was still recognizable in that enviroment; three grotesque fingers clawing for her…clawing for them the suddenly delicate humans crouched at the end of the corridor. With Shepard, she'd almost felt unbeatable, he'd always had a way of escaping. Here, it all seemed hopeless.
"Its all fried! Most the wiring is fused with a main circuit board! I can't get a signal from any of the components!" Stylo waved several severed wires as she withdrew her hand from the console. "Its no use!"
Ghost didn't respond, instead Tali was pushed aside with a yell, he smashed the butt of his gun into the console. That did the trick as with a screeched of tortured metal, the door shot open.
"Everyone inside! Now!" The leader of the horde staggered, falling forward on severed legs, the others smashing it aside as they pushed on. Claws scratched the stone surface, centimeters from Ghost's feet as he fell back, sliding across the door seal as Paranoid yelled, grabbing the larger man's webbing. Tali rolled inside as Kaiden stooped in the dark on the other side, opening fire as he did his skull like faceplate reflecting the blue muzzle fire. Stylo held the other side, her head down, an identical haptic display in pieces between her fingers as she checked for anyway to close the door. A grenade bounced, frozen in air for a second before it ignited filling Tali's vision with hundreds of after-images.
The leaders burned, breaking apart in hundreds of blackened fragments before they were pushed aside. Those behind recoiled at the fire, their skins exploding with hundreds of black lines which spreading rapidly beneath the surface. Muscles formed, skin thickening as the group bulked out, expanding. The flame was dripping off them now, layers of skin breaking apart as rounds tore through their hides. But they now weren't stopping, even if they were slow, lumbering as their newly repaired skin slowed the burn, buying them time.
And they were chanting, distended jaws slapping together as each inflection was spat out in a cloud of green fluid.
Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy Legacy
And with a hundred agonized voices the horde screamed as with a bang, the circuits holding the door open gave out and with a crash, the bulkhead slammed shut.