Mass Effect

Hell on Haestrom

A quarian ship descended onto the burning surface of Haestrom. The objectives were clear for Kal'Reegar: Protect Tali'Zorah vas Neema while she conducts her research on the planet's sun. Apparently, the sun was expanding too fast...or something. To Kal, it was irrelevant, all he had to do was babysit Admiral Rael's daughter. Prestigious in nature yet simple in practice, the quarian captain saw this as an unofficial vacation for himself. All he would have to do is stand watch every now and again. Easy enough.

Still, Kal was curious. They were dropping down on a city left behind by their ancestors back when they had an actual planet to live on. Real quarian buildings, not ships. Usually it was considered surprising to find a derelict vessel dating back to the geth invasion, but never something like this. "Maybe it's more than a vacation, it's part tourism too," He joked to himself.

There was a knock on the ship door. "Captain...?" said a meek, feminine voice. Kal jerked as his internal monologue was disrupted. Readjusting to the soldier inside him, he fell back into his military attitude. Standing straight, he responded, "Yes ma'am! Come in." After a brief pause, the door slid open with a hiss as Tali'Zorah entered his room. An exquisite specimen, the Admiral's daughter was an impressive sight in her enviro-suit. The outfit was attractive, albeit unconventional. Most quarian women wore hoods that rode down the back of the head and met at the start of their back, melding seamlessly into the suit. Instead, her hood was baggy, and seemed to have ruffles at the base of the neck. Ornate, fluid looking designs ran down the suit in two shades of purple; Kal's suit seemed horribly bland with his simple solid red and white pattern. While he would never attempt a relationship, Tali was easy on the eyes.

"Captain," she said with a new voice of authority, "Are you ready to get started?" Before answering, he turned to the metal walls of the room and looked at his armor in the reflection. It was a habit, to make sure his outfit was ready. Usually, one would just look at the seals and plugs in the armor through the helmet; but it never did hurt to check with full view. He tightened the section seals, making sure no outer bacteria would get in. Grabbing the oxygen cord at the back of his own thick hood, he turned back to the girl and saluted. "Of course ma'am."

After a few minutes of checking on his team, Kal'Reegar leaped off the low door of the ship and landed on the planet's surface. Surveying his surroundings, he first looked around for the most defensible locations. Nearly all of the buildings appeared to be worse for wear, but they looked mostly stable... though he wouldn't want to test any explosives around them. Cocking his assault rifle he turned to the rest of the team, "Let's go."

----

For days, he patrolled around the same perimeter with his marines while the young scientist ogled some tower and fought with her own machinery. He would sometimes listen to Tali while she recorded her science logs to pass the time. The majority of it was technical jargon that he didn't understand, but he got the gist of it. The star that the planet revolved around was aging at an overclocked rate, already it was dying and had actually killed nearly all life on the planet they stood upon. Creatures that still survived had to exist in the shade, and even some of his equipment had shorted out from being left in the sun too long. Aside from the technical difficulties, it was still just a standard affair job. That was of course, until the next day.

Kal had been lounging about in an old quarian bunker (or at least what he thought was a bunker) looking at the walls' structure. He liked it most because it was the sturdiest building for the camp site, but it was interesting to see what his people actually walked around in, without wearing enviro-suits, no less. Although it was comforting to know he was always in his armor, how could he not wonder what it was like to touch something with his bare hands? Growing up in a suit, he didn't even know what he looked like anymore.

Silence has no sound, but to those used to the loud monotony of noise, it could be heard, and in some cases it would take on various forms. There were the times when the ship's engines were off and the quiet that meant things were going right to hell. Deep in his gut, Kal knew this was the latter. Lying down on the floor, he waited for it to happen.

For nearly twenty minutes he waited, absolutely nothing happened at all. "Maybe I'm just becoming paranoid?" Then suddenly he heard a loud humming sound.

'You're just tense Kal...That sound doesn't mean it-' An explosion rocked the bunker and small bits of machinery fell over while dust rose into the air. Footsteps and frantic motions mingle with the sounds of gunfire. To act as the crescendo, screams erupt outside and Kal'Reegar lurched upward and onto his feet. 'Aw hell I KNEW it!' After checking the thermal clip in his rifle and turning off the safety he ran out the back entrance, all the while muttering to himself, "I hate when I'm right..."

Almost immediately after getting out the building, a massive ship roared by, briefly overloading his suit's audio receptors. "Damn it!" he thought. A quarian soldier rushed up to him in a panic. "Geth!" he cried, "We're being attacked by geth!" Grabbing him by the shoulders the captain shouted, "Rahza, calm down!" Though he seemed to relax, the rookie continued to shake weakly.

"You need to get in that bunker and bring out the defenses, once you've done that I want you call for support."

"I...uh...but,"

"Listen to me!" he grabbed the man at the shoulders and gave him a rough shake. "If this were any other situation I might be a little more understanding, but I can't have a broken soldier right now so for the love of Keelah, do your JOB!"

"Sir, I-"

"Did you hear me?!"

"Yes!"

"Then go!"

Again, the green recruit ran off in his panicked state, nearly running into the door before getting inside. In exasperation, Kal sighed as he saw another geth ship fly overhead. Just as soon as it came, the ship was gone; unfortunately, this time the ship dropped off troops. Rapidly assessing the situation he looked at all of his surroundings, rubble piled up and stone blocks littered the ground, as well as another building across from him. In a mad dash, he ran to the center and took cover behind a collapsed pillar. Crouched behind it, he held still, and waited. Moments later he could hear the light scratchings of geth troops approaching.

A brilliant invention gone horribly wrong, the geth were machines built around quarian enviro-suits. Originally designed as optimized labor machines, their creations developed conscious thought. The geth turned on them, and forced them from their home. The reverse jointed legs and hoods that the machines sported were almost exactly like their own suits; their large, single glowing eye loosely resembled quarian face plates. What originally seemed like a clever way of showing off his people's craftsmanship had now become a mocking abomination.

Kal'Reegar continued to wait as the footsteps became louder and louder. A new sound intruded as the bunker door re-opened, the rookie and several other quarians arrived, deploying metal platforms, which unfolded to form small barricades. Simultaneously, the geth began firing. All but one of his soldiers were able to gain cover behind the barrier, and the last was gunned down as soon as she exited the door. "Damn it Lana..." Kal cursed under his breath. Breaking from cover the captain held down the trigger, letting it spray across the battlefield; countless geth keeled over as holes pierced their armor. That was only the first wave. For every geth he took down ten more seemed to take their place. The quarian captain's confidence wavered.

For what felt like hours, Kal'Reegar fought off the geth, overheating the gun to borderline dangerous levels. "There a colony or something in that ship? I don't know how long we can hang on like this..." The ten soldiers guarding the bunker had turned to four, and the opposition appeared to be endless. To make things worse, he heard a familiar sound. "Oh for god's sakes, another batch?" But this time Kal heaved a sigh of relief as the ship flew past him without dropping anything off; the craft floated towards the tower Tali was in. "Oh hell!" Without even thinking he burst across the firing zone, dodging both enemy and friendly fire as he moved past their cross hairs. "Hold this point!" he shouted. Not even waiting for a response, he continued on through into the bunker, coming face to face with a lone geth soldier. "How did you get in here?!"he instinctively asked in astonishment. His question went unanswered as the geth faded away, disappearing from plain sight.

Assault rifle close to his chest, he looked for some sign of where his invisible opponent was. Seconds passed, and the captain saw a growing glow of energy. The beam flew towards him and he jumped to the side; he pulled his trigger in return, only to hear a high pitched buzz. Frantically, he checked his weapon. A red bar along the side ran up it, almost fully lit, indicating that his fire arm was no longer fit for service.

"I don't have time for this!" Pulling out the thermal clip of his rifle, Kal'Reegar pulled the trigger one last time and threw it into the center of the room; he rolled behind a wall. With a loud bang, his gun shattered and shrapnel flew out in nearly every direction, scraping his armor. Electricity seemed to pass through the air out of nowhere, and the geth rematerialized, crashing into the ground; the machine now scarred and burnt. In an immature display of personal accomplishment, he raised his middle finger towards the machine as white blood poured out of it. 'So there.' Returning to the task at hand, the captain searched for another gun. Rushing towards the weapons rack, he found himself crestfallen to see all the other rifles missing, presumably being used by the quarian defenders behind him. Looking from left to right he searched for some replacement in a panic; until his eyes fell upon something larger. One last heavy weapon remained: The missile launcher. Kal blinked dumbly as he lifted it up and slung it over his shoulder. 'Well I can't complain…'

Snapping back to the severity of the situation he dashed out the other entrance to the bunker. As the door hissed closed behind him, he found himself in a small pill box. Through the slit of the defensive structure, he could see his brothers in arms running up a ramp on the right side of a devastated battle zone, on the opposite side of the area there was a massive geth tank. Built on four massive legs, the Collosus' beetle-like body shifted. The head turned, clearly tracking the quarians. "No!" In a desperate panic he rushed out of the pill box to line up a shot to delay the collossus' shot; to no avail. From the giant eye of the tank came an equally large energy to sail across the field and splash across the entire ramp. Quarian bodies rose into the air and rolled down or over the ramp like rag dolls, and then fell still.

Kal shook his head, and raised his rocket launcher.

"I didn't really want a vacation anyway."