Chapter 10: New Horizon
"Lilith!" Kaidan called out as he caught up with her.
"Still having trouble getting the defense towers up?"
"Those towers are useless without their targeting matrix working."
"Sorry, Commander. The comm. towers are our main priority."
"Yeah... I'm surprised the colonists haven't tried blaming that on me," he jests.
"It's not personal. People out here just don't like the Alliance."
A loud hum came from the sky. Lilith and Kaidan looked up and saw a large brown cruiser fly over the colony. The colonists around the two gathered around and watched the ship. A large dark cloud came from the ship and went towards their location.
Kaidan looked through his assault rifle's scope to get a better view. The cloud was a swarm of insects. "Lilith get everyone to the shelter immediately! I'll hold it off."
The swarm approached them. The colonists tried to make a run for it, but the swarm attacked them, stinging them, paralyzing them. One of the insects bit Kaidan on the neck. He yanked it off of himself and stared at the insect briefly before whipping it to the ground. He took a step forward before his body froze in place. Kaidan tried to move, but it was to no avail. All he could do was watching as the colonists, he was sworn to protect, froze one by one.
The squad was gathered in the comm. room. They surrounded the table. Shepard walked in and the table lit up with an overview of Horizon.
"Horizon," Shepard stated. "The Collectors have arrived and, as we speak, they are harvesting the colonists. All of your armor has been upgraded with Mordin's counter measures, so we're as ready as we can be. We will be splitting into two groups and will be dropping off here and here."
Two markers appeared on opposite sides of the colony.
"Our goal is to move inwards and eliminate any Collector in our path, and hopefully repeal them from the planet."
"Kill every Collector in my path," Grunt summarized. "My kind of mission."
"Fireteam 1 will consist of Mordin, Kasumi and Zaeed, and be led by me. Fireteam 2 will consist of Jacob, Jack and Grunt, and will be led by Garrus. Everyone ready to touch down?"
There were no objections.
"We keep in constant radio contact. Move out!"
The shuttle landed in a small clearing. Shepard and his team exited the craft and took cover around the wall. Shepard glanced around the corner and saw nothing there. He signaled his team to move forward. "Mordin, will these counter measures work?"
"Should work... In theory," he replied.
"In theory?" Garrus said over the radio.
"Only true test is a field test. Exhilarating to test it firsthand."
"Mordin, if this counter measure gets me killed, I'm going to haunt you," Jack threatened over the radio.
"Easy, Jack," Shepard said back to her. "Meet you at the center of the colony, Garrus."
"See you there."
Fireteam 1 reached the first clearing. There were several trucks with assorted cargo. A buzzing noise filled the area. From over the hills several Collectors flew in, each armed with organic assault rifles.
"These things fucking fly?" Zaeed exclaimed.
"They- They don't wear anything..." Kasumi observed.
"Take cover!" Shepard ordered.
As soon as the Collectors landed they opened fire on Fireteam's position. Shepard peaked around his cover and threw a warp at one of the Collectors. It drained its shield. Mordin activated his omni-tool and launched an incinerate blast. The fiery blast engulfed the closely clustered Collectors in flames.
Shepard popped out of cover and fired a couple rounds into the head of the last Collector. Mordin rushed over to it and scanned it. "Hmm. Kasumi made an excellent point about the Collectors not having armor. Why? Ah!" he exclaimed as a spark of genius. "Exoskeleton. Very tough, durable. Same as hardsuit. Maybe better. After we repeal Collectors, should take several bodies back for an autopsy. Could give insight to new armor upgrades."
"Come on, we need to keep moving," Shepard urged.
Fireteam 1 moved forward running into more Collectors and husks. When the next clearing was secured Mordin made an observation. "Hmm. Husk used by Sovereign..."
"Then the Illusive Man was right," Zaeed interrupted to stop Mordin from rambling on. "Collectors are working for the Reapers."
"Keep moving," Shepard motioned towards the gate.
The four went through and the gate closed shut behind them. There lay the body of a husk. "That one of the colonists?" Kasumi asked out loud.
"No," Shepard replied matter-of-factly. "The geth impaled their husks on dragon teeth. We haven't seen any since we got here. The Collectors must have brought them here." Shepard crouched down to get a closer look. "These husks are different from what we faced during the mission against Saren. More evolved. While these husks don't have the electro-magnetic pulse of Saren's husk, these husks are more durable and stronger."
"They still die when you shoot them," Zaeed commented.
"Come on, we're not letting the husks take anymore colonists."
The next area was filled with several pre-fab homes. There were a dozen stasis containers near the wall. The licking and chirping of the Collectors could be heard by Shepard's team. Fireteam took cover. Mordin launched an incinerate blast. The Collector raised its arm creating a kinetic barrier.
"Drone raised a barrier!" Mordin yelled. "Attacks can't get through."
"Don't hit them directly," Zaeed scolded. He got up and armed an incendiary grenade. Zaeed threw the grenade against the wall of the pre-fab, bouncing it away and landing right behind the Collector. The grenade went off and coated the Collector in flames. It squealed as it was engulfed.
Kasumi went invisible and flanked a Collector that took cover around the corner of the building on the right. While it was distracted, she appeared behind it and punched it using her omni-tool.
"We need to move faster!"
They moved as one. They opened fire on any Collector and then took cover just long enough to reload. They repeated this process until the area was quiet once again. Around the next pre-fab unit they found a person in stasis.
"Interesting," Mordin commented. "Colonist is in stasis yet is completely aware."
"Keep focused," Shepard said.
An organic weapon lay against a crate in the back alley of the pre-fab units. Shepard picked it up and quickly put the trigger at open ground. A yellow particle beam erupted from the end. Shepard quickly go of the trigger.
"Incredible!" Mordin gasped. "Miniaturized particle beam! Best scientists in the galaxy still unable to create a large scale model. Too high power requirement. Need Dreadnaught standard fusion plant for something of this scale."
"You'll have plenty of time to study it back on the ship, Professor," Shepard reminded.
The area in front of the garage looked perfect for an ambush. The tell-tale sound of wings buzzing notified them of the Collectors approach. One of the Collectors was glowing yellow as it landed. It lifted in the air by a couple of feet and a small burst of energy came from it.
"I am assuming direct control of this form," its voice boomed.
While the other Collectors were easy to dispatch, especially with the gas tanks lying around, this glowing Collector was absorbing their fire.
"This thing is harder to kill than the others!" Kasumi exclaimed with firing her smg.
"It has barriers," Shepard called out. "Zaeed, Mordin. Use your incendiary grenades and incinerate blasts as soon as I drain its barrier."
The mercenary and scientist nodded in acknowledgment. Shepard gathered a warp in his hand and threw it at the oncoming Collector. The force of impact caused it to stumble back a bit. It's barrier was drained.
The two didn't think twice before attacking. Despite its increase strength, it was still very vulnerable to flame attacks. With a combination of their attacks, the glowing Collector burnt to cinders. Another wave of Collectors appeared from behind the wall. One of them began to glow.
"I am the Harbinger of your perfection."
"Oh god damn it!" Zaeed screamed. "Another one!"
"Take it out first!" Shepard barked.
These glowing Collectors reminded Shepard of Saren in the Citadel. He glowed as well we he was... possessed. That's what it was. That memory ran through his head just to make the fact clear. This was a Reaper possession. Harbinger. Shepard used the same tactic of using his warp attack to drain its barrier followed by Zaeed's and Mordin's flame attacks. The Harbinger went down more easily than the first one. This gave the fireteam relief until they heard its dreaded voice.
"Preserve Shepard's body if possible."
"It's not a specific unit!" Shepard roared. "Eliminate the drones first!"
Clearing the area of the half a dozen drones proved rather difficult with Harbinger's charged warp attacks. His other attack consisted of a slow moving energy ball that was easy to move out of the way of.
After a small amount of time they eliminated the drones and focused back on Harbinger. Using the same strategy of draining its barrier and then burning it to death. Harbinger still twitched. Shepard cautiously walked up to it and looked down, aiming with his pistol.
"You will fail, Shepard," its voice boomed. "Kill this one and a hundred will replace it."
Shepard pulled the trigger sending a round through its head. 'Each one with an end like that,' he thought to himself.
"Area clear," Zaeed announced.
"Kasumi, get that garage door open," Shepard ordered.
"Aye, aye, Shep," she said in an amused tone. Kasumi ran over to the holographic display and activated her omni-tool. A few seconds passed when she announced, "And... done!"
The door opened up.
"Good job, Kasumi."
The four entered the garage and the doors closed shut behind them. A metal object hit the ground creating a clanging sound.
"Company!" Shepard said. "Get out here!"
A man cautiously came out from behind a box. "Y-You're human. What are you doing?" he yelled. "You'll let them know I'm here!"
"You had to have heard them trying to break in," Shepard countered. "Seems like it's impossible to escape from the Collectors."
"Collectors," he said in a confused voice. "Those things are Collectors? I thought they were a myth. You know. Propaganda to keep us in Alliance space."
"What's your name? And what happened here?"
"Delan. Those Collectors came out of nowhere. Big swarms of bugs engulfed this entire colony. They paralyzed the colonists... They got Lilith and others in the attack." The colonist paused in his thoughts. "It's the Alliance's fault!" he accused. "They built those defense towers here and stationed that Commander Alenko here. We were fine before they got here!"
"Alenko?" Shepard repeated.
"Yeah. Staff Commander Kaidan Alenko. Heard he was some big Alliance hero. Doesn't really matter much to me. Officially he was here for colony relations and to get those 'gifts from the Alliance' operational. Some gift. Damn things' targeting matrix is fried. So the Alliance gave us guns that can't even aim! Though truth be told, I think that Alenko guy was here for something else. Spying on us maybe."
"If we reach those defense towers, we could get them activated."
"Like I said their targeting systems are not working."
"Just let us through and we'll think of something," Kasumi added.
"Alright, but I'm locking you out." Delan activated his omni-tool opening the other garage doors. "Good luck out there. I think you're going to need it."
Fireteam exited the garage. The area had some construction equipment. Shepard activated his comm. link. "Garrus, do you read?"
"Read you, Commander."
"We're heading to the defense towers of the colony. Meet us there."
"See you there."
Shepard could hear more of the Collectors clicking. The squad stacked up against the wall. Shepard peaked around the corner to see two Collectors standing next to each other. Shepard looked back to his squad and used hand signals to notify Zaeed and Mordin what to do. He nodded.
Rolled ran out of cover and threw a ball of warp at the Collector on the left. Mordin and Zaeed used their fire attacks on the one on the right. Several more Collectors flew into the area. The moans of half a dozen husks echoed throughout the area, along with the moan of something bigger. A large creature walked out from around the building. It resembled a husk with a large cannon strapped to its back.
"What is that thing?" Kasumi asked out loud.
"Kill it with fire!" Zaeed roared as he threw an inferno grenade.
Fire engulfed the creature, but it still stood. It turned its attention to them. It fired several shots towards them. The blasts went in a line similar to a biotic shockwave attack. The squad took cover. The creature was harder to kill than the possessed Collectors. It had a thick hide that took continuous bombardment of their firearms, incendiary attacks and warps. Eventually the creature fell to their attacks. The remaining few Collectors posed a lesser threat than their husk artillery cannon.
"Garrus, do you read?" Shepard said into his comm. "Status report."
"Garrus here. We faced Collectors here and there, nothing we can't handle. We're almost at the towers."
"To give you a heads up, there's a new husk type. It's like three husks fused together with a cannon."
"Haven't run into any of those. Thanks for the heads up anyways."
"What about glowing Collectors?"
"Guess not. The Collectors glow. I think they're Reaper possessed."
"Oh..." he muttered over the line. "I guess this confirms one hundred percent that the Reapers are involved."
"Yes, but it won't be enough for the Council. I'll see you at the defense towers. Shepard out."
Kasumi approached the doors in the back of the area and begun hacking. The doors were no match for the Master Thief's skills. It opened to reveal a field covered with crates and the control station in the center. They approached, but heard the same groan of the husk artillery. Two of the abominations walked out from behind the control station.
"This doesn't look good," Kasumi commented.
Shepard pulled out the Cain that was attached to his back. There was enough power for two shots. This was a good time for it. "Everyone take cover!"
They didn't need to be told twice. Shepard pulled down on the trigger and listen to the weapon beep rapidly. It squealed before firing its 25 gram slug. The explosion rocked the ground around them. The two scions and the husks that was moving towards them. Fireteam 1 moved to the control station. Kasumi went straight to work.
"Whoa, Shepard!" Garrus yelled. "Overkill, wasn't it?" Garrus' team moved from behind the pre-fab unit on the right side of the field.
"I thought it was fucking awesome," Jack said.
"Didn't want these towers to wait longer than we need them to," Shepard replied.
"I got through the systems, Shep, but the targeting matrix is messed up beyond repair."
"EDI, can you do something about these defense towers?" Shepard asked over the comm.
"I can sync the colony's targeting system to the Normandy, but it will take time for the towers to warm-up."
"Get to it."
"Starting, but I will not be able to mask the tower's power-up sequence. The Collectors will try to stop you."
"So the Collectors will come in force," Grunt concluded. "Good."
"Any other helpful tips?"
"Just one," EDI replied. "Enemies incoming."
"Defensive positions, now!" Shepard ordered.
Kaidan lay in an uncovered pod. He was aware of everything that was happening around him. The screams made him furious. The Collectors unfroze some of the colonists and impaled them on Dragon's Teeth. The screams didn't just make him furious, it made his migraine headaches act up. The headache grew stronger and stronger until a biotic pulse came from him. The sides of the pod blew apart and his stasis ended.
Kaidan jumped to his feet and launched a throw pulse as hard as he could at the Collector guard. The alien crashed into the wall with a loud snap. The migraines settled. For the first time in a few hours, he was able to think.
"The defense towers!" he gasped.
That was his thought now. If he could get those defense towers up, he might be able to repeal the Collectors. Kaidan picked up his assault rifle that was next to his pod and made a dash for the control station. He saw some Collectors fly over head, completely ignoring him. Kaidan wondered what has them so distracted.
His path to the control station was unattended. It seemed like every Collector and Husk within the colony was focused on something else. The defense towers roared to life and started firing at the Collector ship. Kaidan stood there briefly wondering who started the towers up. Probably what the Collectors were so focused on. Whoever started them, he or she will likely need his help. A large explosion came from the direction he was heading in. It sounded like a heavy weapon. A Cain or something of the like. The control station was just ahead. The blasts from the defense towers appeared to be doing some damage to the Collector vessel. Some of the plates on the side of the ship shifted and its engine roared to life.
"No!" Delan screamed as he ran into the field. "They have half the colony in there. They took Egan and Sten. Do something!"
"I didn't want it to end like this," Shepard said remorsefully. "I did the best I could."
"Better than most, Shepard," Garrus added.
"Shepard..." Delan said. "I've heard that name before. Oh, sure. You're that big Alliance hero."
"Commander Shepard, captain of the Normandy, savior of the Citadel," Kaidan said as he walked out from behind a crate. "You're in the presence of a legend... And a ghost."
"Of all the people who get left behind. I'm done with you Alliance types." Delan waved his hand dismissively and left Shepard and Kaidan.
Kaidan had a slightly angry look on his face as he approached Shepard. The look disappeared and he held out his hand. "I thought you were dead, Shepard. We all did."
Shepard grabbed his hand and shook. "It's good to see you again, Kaidan. How've you been?"
"That's all you have to say?" he asked in an irritated tone. "You're gone for two years and come back and act like nothing happened. Why didn't you try to contact us? Let us know you were alive?"
"I was gone for two years," Shepard replied. "I was in some kind of a coma while Cerberus rebuilt me."
"You're with Cerberus now? I can't believe the reports were right."
"I'm not with Cerberus!" Shepard interrupted.
"You just said-"
"I said they rebuilt me. I was dead, Kaidan. They recovered my body and brought it back to life. The bastards then saw fit to implant me with a control chip. I was able to break its control over me and I got my Spectre status reinstated. Now my crew and I are aiming to take down the Collectors, the Reapers, and Cerberus."
"I-I..." Kaidan didn't really know what to say. This was all a shock. How could he believe Shepard would work for them or even share their ideals? Shepard was the exact opposite of everything that Cerberus is. "I'm sorry, Commander. I-I didn't know. I just jumped to conclusions."
"It's alright, Kaidan. I understand. You know I could use someone like you on my crew. It'll be just like old times."
Kaidan let out a small laugh. "I would love to, but I would have to speak with Ander-"
"He authorized your transfer."
Kaidan's eyes widen briefly. "Just like old times then."
"I'm thinking better," Garrus added.