Ethan and his squad turned and began running, whilst the SCS Normandy's hull flickered and its form faded into relative nothingness behind them. He checked his grav compensator was set properly, "Begin jumping."
The jump boosters on the rear legs and back of the Paragon Power Armor flared and the squad began low thirty meter at time hops towards their next target. The flat landscape helped immensely in eating up the kilometers.
The voice of the Normandy's Intel officer piped into their helmets. "The navpoint I've marked in your suit's computer is towards the nearby space port. Recon drones have identified what has to be a piece of prothean technology being transported there by the geth on the elcor maglev network."
"Any chance we can catch up before they get there?" Katherine asked as they did another jump.
"No, their head start is too big… be advised, I just monitored another player entering the field…"
There were many in the galaxy that looked at the elcor and saw lumbering gentle giants. A people whom were generally peaceful and even comical to a degree, what with their slow speech, deadpan delivery and utterances of whatever emotion they were feeling before they spoke. That was the opinion of the ignorant masses; anyone with a modicum of sense to study the elcor in depth knew this wasn't a race to take at all lightly and Saren Arturius knew that he was never going look at them the same way again after this day…
It wasn't enough that the geth had to completely ruin his mission to ensure security for the prothean artifact.
He was now fighting something that was so out of his experience and was so wrong on any level you could care to contemplate. It had all started when he had spied the geth doing something with the bodies of the dead elcor. Four trooper platforms to each elcor, which then carried them towards odd pedestal shaped devices made of cool dark metal. The platform then abruptly shot out a thick spike that seemingly grew out of the device with an eerie screeching metallic sound and impaled the elcor, which lifted it effortlessly into the sky.
Saren had puzzled the odd behavior from the geth and wondered as what possible purpose this could serve? Intimidation, terror and to sap the morale of the elcor? Perhaps. He had then engaged those geth, dropping them in moments with a well placed grenade and laser shots from his state of the art and very expensive Spectre issue Phalanx rifle.
Not ten minutes later he had passed another collection of impaled elcor on those pedestals. He had no desire to really see the grisly sight again and hadn't paid much attention to them. He regretted that. Had he known then what he knew now, he would have used some incendiary grenades to immolate those impaled bodies.
Nothing prepares you to see those spikes retract, the supposedly dead elcor suddenly move on its own power, pull itself off that spike and give a growling groan that sent chills up and down the spine, to see the unnatural grey skin mottled and twisted with glowing cybernetics. The elcor's beady eyes glowed blue and emanated a menace that was palpable, then for that elcor to move with the speed of a starved rampaging varren.
Only decades of experience, instincts and his own cybernetically enhanced reflexes saved him from not only being slammed with all that momentum, but also prevented him from electrocution. As it was the EMP sent out by the transformed elcor had nearly dropped his shields completely.
Coming out of his sideways roll he unleashed his Phalanx desperately. At this close range the power of the shot was enough for his laser to core the elcor multiple times. The ground shook as all that mass of once again dead elcor flesh, bone and cybernetics crashed in the high gravity.
Saren couldn't spend much time celebrating his survival as three more of the damn things charged. He was now ruing his decision to come on this mission in the Mark X Armax Predator Hardsuit. If he'd been in his custom Spectre issue Power Armor he'd not be as worried about taking a hit from these monstrosities.
His perception of time slowed as he engaged his ocular synaptic processors and snapped off three laser shots that scored direct hits on where the elcor brain was supposed to be. Two hit and instantly dropped the elcor, whilst the third shot was slightly low and managed to burn off one of the elcor's forelegs. It slammed into the ground, but its momentum was enough that he was forced to perform another side roll to avoid getting hit and buried by a near ton of reanimated elcor.
Coming out of the roll he lasered it again, going for the braincase. His Phalanx flashed a warning on his Visor's HUD that it was on its last two shots, and now he was faced with another wave of five cyber elcor. He didn't hesitate to drop his Phalanx and grabbed his relatively more conventional HMWA assault rifle from his back. It unfolded painfully slowly to his perception and his teeth and mandibles clenched in desperation to move faster. The underslung grenade launcher fired and the smart explosive projectile detonated in the air between two elcor, rending them into flying body parts, the third got a burst of hypersonic slugs through the eye socket, but the remaining two had bracketed him and were now so uncomfortably close that he was forced into a backwards roll to open some distance.
But not without leaving the cyber elcor a present on the ground they would rush over as he continued to backpedal.
The incendiary grenade exploded, instantly immolating the elcor in flame.
That was when his suit blared a warning of hostile radar focusing on him.
Spirits, he was so focused on the new type of enemy…
His rifle came up and he had just one second to glimpse a squad of geth troopers who were leveling missile launchers and pulse rifles at him from two hundred meters away. There was no way he could…
The Geth squad promptly died with flashes of sparks and minor explosions before a single shot was fired.
Saren was confused for a moment before his hardsuit's personal radar, reduced to minimal range thanks to the blanket of ECM the geth had thrown over the area, pinged with four eezo emission signatures rapidly approaching. He turned in that direction and spotted the four distinctive Covenant Paragon Power Armors bounding closer on jump jets.
What the hell were humans doing here?
It wasn't enough that the Spirits abandoned geth had to come out of the void beyond the Perseus Veil Nebula. Now the Universe had seen fit to deposit even more problems on his head to deal with. Diplomacy with the superpower that was the Covenant was a tricky thing, since while officially you were dealing with humans; you were also dealing with the allied quarians and raloi. These days you also had to consider that among the Covenant there were now naturalized asari, turian and drell, all of whom were former slaves, and now the descendants of them were becoming more numerous.
Personally, Saren respected humanity, they had conviction, a martial mentality that was remarkably similar to what turians had and more importantly the will to act and embrace change not shun it – something that he felt was rather lacking in recent times in the Council and Hierarchy. Human thinking and technology had already made the galaxy a very different place than what it had been in his formative years. But their expansionism and their tendency to assimilate others culturally and politically was in the word of a Salarian STG operator he had met once, "Problematic."
Professionally as a Spectre, the Covenant was a big headache. The Council was decidedly leery of allowing or ordering any of their agents to operate as freely as they would in Citadel space or even the Terminus. Given what the Covenant did to the batarians, just because of a few minor attacks on their shipping and personnel, it was somewhat understandable.
Saren tapped his Omni-tool briefly and his Visor HUD zoomed in and he was able to make out more details on the approaching Covenant team. Two of the armors were slightly narrower at waist and the chest area curved outward slightly, indicating that two of them were female, and then his VI flagged two small symbols displayed on all their chests. 'Great, Blackhearts,' his mandibles twitched.
He lowered and stowed his rifle in its place on his back and backed up to where he had dropped his Phalanx, slowly reloading a fresh power pack. This let him feel somewhat better about meeting the Blackhearts, his las-rifle couldn't really compete in terms of endurance or versatility to their Mausers but he would have at least the same punch as they had.
One of the leading Blackhearts lifted their rifle into the air, parallel to the ground, hand in the centre and far from the trigger. The odd signal combined with the fact that the other three's barrels were firmly pointed down, meant that they had no hostile intent to him. He had seen enough of their battles during the Covenant Batarian War to know some of the sign language they employed on the battlefield.
The Blackheart team finally came to a stop just about ten meters away. One of the males came forward whilst the others turned with their backs to each other in a covering formation. There were no immediate threats so they could afford some time to talk.
"Greetings Spectre." Their voices were filtered and distorted, and their helmets only catered for vision via a narrow strip of mirrored transparisteel.
Saren wasn't really surprised they knew him on sight for what he was. Two predators of different species knew that they were both meat eaters, after all. He only nodded in return. "What brings the Covenant here?"
The lead Blackheart didn't answer for a few moments, "A Quarian VIP was here on pilgrimage. They sent a distress signal once the geth attack began. We have already rescued said individual, but we also have orders to investigate the geth emergence from the Perseus Veil and the possible reasons behind it. In the interests of saving time, we already know that it was a Prothean artifact. We have eyes on its location at present and it's in geth possession. It was decided that we should be diplomatic in our pursuit, otherwise we would look complicit in this attack and so we request you join us."
Saren considered what he should say to that. He wasn't a Spectre for nothing. There was a time for measured action, and when a rampant machine race that had loomed threateningly over the galaxy for over three centuries suddenly decides to show up in the broad light of day… well there's not much choice.
"Lead the way."
Due to the fact that he wasn't in powered armor, it forced his new impromptu comrades to limit their speed of advance towards the spaceport considerably. This also meant that they were intercepted by the geth more often, in addition to encountering more cyber elcor. The humans had clearly already dealt with them before previously before encountering Saren, and had gotten over the shock. Curiously they used the underslung mass accelerator instead of the laser of the Mauser, not to mention liberal use of grenades to thin the larger groups.
"Fucking zombies," one of the lower ranked humans, a Sigma Blackheart, muttered.
"Zombies?" Saren queried curiously.
"Old human literature and vid reference," lead Omega Blackheart explained. "The dead rising from the grave to terrorize the living, usually through some vector such as a virus, technology or more supernatural cause. It was an entire genre in its own right."
"Weird," Saren couldn't conceive that humans had thought of using the idea of the risen dead as a tool of entertainment.
The male Sigma laughed, "Look up 'World War Z' on the extranet. It'll help. "
It was at that point that all the humans stopped dead in their tracks.
The male Omega turned to him, "I'm patching you into our tac net. You'll need it." The voice was grave even through the distortion and he tapped on his omnitool a few times. Saren felt his own omnitool flare into life and he accepted the sync request. He immediately saw another screen pop into his HUD visor as his own VI made sense of the incoming tac data. It was live drone footage and Saren struggled to make sense at first at what he was seeing… at first he thought it was just a new form of geth, but then the thing moved past a building… and he could judge the scale.
"A Geth BattleMech," Saren declared flatfly.
"Guarding the spaceport," the Omega sighed. "I guess it was too much to hope for that they wouldn't have them. They're clearly not as ignorant of what happens in Terminus and Citadel space as much as we thought."
The Mech was as if a Geth Trooper platform had been upscaled to be eleven meters tall, it carried no obvious weapons, but the seams in the blue painted, curved armor around the arms and chest clearly showed that they were behind panels that would pop open before firing.
Saren flared his mandibles, "Tell me you brought a Mech of your own…"
Commander Helen 'Combo' Huffman gave the cockpit of her Exterminator one last systems check before settling her hands on the controls and merging her senses with the VDN interface. Nothing can really describe it in words, becoming almost one with her Mech in this manner. It was old hat by now, but the feeling of power was something that could not be taken away, unlike the addictive properties of the experience which was thankfully tempered and regulated by cybernetics and a bit of genemodding that all Mech pilots were given.
"We're dropping your lance in the most tactically advantageous position, Combo. Make it count," the CAG of Normandy came through directly into her mind.
She was released from the clamps that held her giant mech-self in her cradle, only for another specialized set of them to grab hold before she could move at all, which lifted her slightly. The deck beneath her feet split open and a specific part of the ventral hull of the Normandy opened outward, exposing the surface of Ekuna and the spaceport from ten thousand feet in the air briefly before she was accelerated and shot out the ship with enough velocity that she would reach terminal within seconds. She was not alone, as her three lance mates were shot out with her and guided themselves on their own trajectories.
She saw the Normandy abruptly doing evasive maneuvers as their launch had compromised the ship's stealth, but soon enough it had vanished from even her sensors. With a thought she activated her VoidSig, all but ensuring she wouldn't be intercepted in the air by any of the Geth dropships still active, or that awful looking dreadnought that dominated the landscape.
They were being fed drone data that gave them exact relative positions to the enemy, but it didn't really help the fact that they were literally dropping into the unknown. There were five Geth mechs of unknown capability that her lance was about to give a rude wake up call, or it might be the other way around for all she knew.
She engaged a laser link com with her lancemates, "All right, I want to come down like the wrath of God on 'em. Hotdog and Hardcore, you alpha strike and retreat to cool down, Wraith and I will pick it up from there. Our job is to give the ground team an opening to get to the Prothean device – that's it, you take too much damage you get your ass airborne and out of there."
"Yes, sir," the chorus of acknowledgements came.
"Sir, got any idea what weaponry they'll be packing?" Wraith asked.
"I'd not make any assumptions given they're a freaking machine race. But I think the rule of thumb would be not to get hit at all."
"Coming up on ground level, neg mass at max, flare jets on my mark….mark."
Combo felt her speed rapidly decrease as the ground below loomed closer. She tensed… their position would be profoundly visible now with the thermal blooms of the jets in her legs at max. It was made worse by the fact that this area seemed both ideal for mech combat and horrific. The space between buildings was wonderful and allowed for maximum speed and room for maneuver, but on the reverse the buildings were low and far apart. She could crouch her mech for complete cover though.
Their individual landing spots were right behind such buildings just a kilometer from the spaceport.
The landing thudded through her. The five geth mechs responded instantly.
She was forced to crouch her mech just as quickly as three large blobs of blue energy seared through the air right where her chest would've been.
Hotdog and Hardcore unleashed hell.
Eight medium lasers speared through the air, while twenty missiles, followed by another grouping of laser blasts, and another volley of missiles.
Two of the geth mechs were the target, their armor visibly heated up, and then explosively ablating. The missile volleys encountered an AMS system that Combo felt very jealous – it was laser based and reduced the missile volleys to a measly four of them hitting the barriers of the mechs. Hotdog and Hardcore, their mass systems working overtime, zoomed towards cover with the speed normally reserved for small scout mechs, at least if you were back in the Human Sphere.
She and Wraith raised their mech to bring their arms to bear, and focused their fire on one enemy mech. Eight beams appeared to instantly connect them to the unfortunate geth mech. It ablated away as much armor as it could, but something critical was hit and it exploded violently, the chassis falling over and crunching under the high gravity as its compensation systems failed.
But the geth proved their status as a networked intelligence when the four remaining machines all aimed their left arms at Wraith's position. Three of those massive dark energy pulses shot into the building and reduced it to rubble explosively as something inside lit off. The blast and concussion was enough to nearly knock over Wraith, and it was only some fancy footwork from brief flares of his jets that let him remain so.
The fourth geth sent a pulse cannon shot right through the dust cloud that would've neatly obscured anyone using the normal visual spectrum to see in. The blast hit Wraith's shields and Combo was aghast at the effects her sensors and the self-diagnostic Wraith's mech were broadcasting. The shot had all but collapsed the shield instantly and some sort of residual effect washed over it that was warping the armor. The geth followed up with three conventional mass accelerator cannon strikes and just like that Wraith was gone. He didn't even have time to shout or eject.
'Focus fire, time on target."
The three Covenant mechs sprinted out of cover, even employing their jets to jump and twist in the air. Twelve lasers speared into the geth mech that had been responsible for Wraith's death. Its armor withstood the energy astonishingly well, and in the time stalling effect of ocular implants Combo could clearly see how the lasers were being obstructed by the ablative armoring seemingly splintering into hazy clouds. It was purposefully designed that way. It made her realize she never wanted to tango with a geth mech one on one. It died explosively under the combined firepower.
She landed from her maneuver and with a thought locked on and targeted another enemy mech with LRM. Her lancemates did the same and thirty missiles streaked into the air in twisting spiraling motions. The three remaining geth's Gardian AMS worked hard to stop them all, but the missiles were concentrated on a single enemy mech and twelve impacted on the barriers.
The missiles contained quarian designed disruptor warheads that twisted and sheared space-time and all but reduced the barriers to ineffectual for when the next fired salvo came spearing in – reducing the mech to scrap that crushed itself onto the landscape.
The two remaining geth mechs aimed their pulse cannons at Combo next. She didn't know how they had singled her out as the leader of the lance (nothing hinted at it on her mech visually) or if it was just bad luck. The first shot nailed her shield and immediately warnings flared in her augmented reality vision that her barriers were done and not coming back up any time soon enough to matter. The second shot clipped her on her mech's right arm, as she torso twisted in reflex to take the shot on her arm instead of in the chest armor.
The armor there buckled and twisted, even the internal structure, and the power feeds to the lasers in the arm severed. She gritted her teeth from deep within the buried torso cockpit of the mech. Thankfully, pain was never translated through the VDN interface, otherwise she would've been screaming in agony on the floor.
She brought her lower legs around and raised her left arm and fired the two remaining lasers, quickly following it up with a missile salvo. Hardcore and Hotdog jumped into their Exterminators into flanking positions and fired lasers and missiles as quickly as they dared, not wanting to risk overheats.
Their duel left her alone facing the bastard that had ruined her arm. It had weathered her laser strikes and was charging up that pulse cannon again. She crouched behind a building and dumped all the heat she could by venting up coolant from her feet into the ground and engaged voidsig fully.
Then jumped out from behind cover and pushed off into a full speed run.
The pulse cannon's aim was suitably thrown off by the heat bloom and it blasted itself in the ground behind her. She retaliated with everything. Firing her two lasers again and again, missiles streaking out from her launchers.
The darn geth armor was a pain in the ass. The more you destroyed it the more of it would fragment and disperse into near dust like particles that was ruining the beam attenuation of subsequent laser strikes. Her missiles were running her target into high heat levels though, given that it had to keep its laser AMS running or suffer complete barrier failure, and despite the fiendish excellent accuracy it had. Her missiles were make it through… first two, then four, then six.
She only stopped firing when her own heat had reached ninety percent and charged for the nearest building to cover behind.
An explosion heralded the death of the other geth mech, and Combo saw that only Hotdog had sustained moderate damage doing so.
The pulse cannon of her own enemy was bright with heat and blue energy, and its conventional mass accelerator was blazing shots at her cover.
The shot hit and sent debris crashing into her. She was so relatively light due to her mass compensators that it sent her awkwardly stumbling out of cover. The geth's MACs shot out, chewing into her armor and it was only a relatively lightning quick action to normalize her own mass relative that prevented her from falling from the impact of the round. Thankfully her ferro fibrous armor ablated and held nicely. She retaliated with lasers, thankfully the high grav meant that the laser dispersion clouds fell off quickly, and her beams bit deeply into the section of armor.
The geth mech was suddenly catapulted forwards from an explosion that occurred on its back. It detonated and pieces of it crashed to the ground.
She zoomed in and saw… the Blackhearts and a single turian in cover behind a building.
"Scratch one mech, Combo."
"Thanks, Shep. Always useful to have the infantry along."
"From a mech jock I take that as high praise. Thanks for clearing us a path. Now get out of here."
"Roger that, sir."
Ethan Shepard watched as the three Exterminator mechs flared their jets and took off into the sky. It never ceased to amaze him how something as blocky as a mech managed to fly these days. It was all done with a combination of maneuvering thrusters, jets powered by the fusion reactor in the legs, mass effect, and barriers that were configured in flight to act as aerodynamic wing surfaces.
"Nice throw," Saren commented. "Never seen a sticky demo pack, I'll have to remember that one."
"Basic anti-mech tactics, though I couldn't have thrown it that far without the suit."
"Are there any more nukes around here, you think?" Donny asked grimly. They had already fought their way through four squads of geth that had been guarding each nuke. Clearly the geth wanted to leave nothing standing behind them.
"None that I can detect," Normandy's intel officer piped up. The team started their advance into the spaceport proper. It was filled with containers, machinery and yet more geth platforms. That they slowly began to wade through with laser and kinetic fire.
"Be advised, I've got a drone with eyes on the prize. There's a… what?"
Ethan lasered a geth rocket trooper through its optical sensor before it fire and ducked behind cover, "What is it?"
"I'm seeing a humanoid figure in an odd high spec hard suit, clearly organic, standing in front of the Prothean device. It's activating with some sort of energy field… I dunno, you guys better get over there now!"
Ethan shook his head, "We're going as fast as we can!"
They advanced and Ethan was impressed with how easily Saren seemed to mold into the teamwork. It was then that he saw that the geth were in fact retreating at this point as fast as their bipedal locomotion could take them and offering no resistance. They were wary of being led into a trap so kept their advance in a leaping cover method.
At last they turned a corner to some stairs that led down to a large loading platform for VTOL craft and there it was.
The Prothean device stood tall and proud, seemingly radiating mystery and power just by its design and the eerie energies swirling and dancing up its tall, two and half meter structure. He was so entranced by it that he almost didn't spot the fifth nuclear demolition device nestled right next to it.
His sister raced for it with all the speed she could muster, engaging her omnitool and began to try to defuse it.
Then a scream rent through the air. It was one that seemed to vibrate through his bones and somehow in his head as well. Only the Power Armor held him to a vertical base. Saren was on his knees with hands trying to shield his own hearing. The awful sound stopped and Ethan turned to regard the monster dreadnaught as it moved. The giant tentacle arms contracting closed and the thing took skyward with a terrible grace that belied the fact that it was two kilometers long and a couple million tons of ship.
It soon became smaller and vanished into the sky, with all the geth dropships following in its wake.
He shook his head to gain some equilibrium and saw that Katherine was thankfully still working on the nuke. She had disarmed the previous four relatively easily. None of them dared speak to interrupt her concentration as her right hand tapped with a frantic confidence on the holographic panel of her omnitool over her left gauntlet.
He didn't even walk over to see how much time was left. He at least contented himself with the fact that if that nuke went off, he wouldn't feel a thing.
She worked for three minutes that felt like his ocular processers had been left on – feeling like it was more than three hours.
"Clear!" she declared at last taking a step back from the nuke.
Ethan let out a breath he didn't know he was holding.
That was when the Prothean device decided to light up like a Christmas tree. He saw Kath's entire form seize up and her feet started to leave the floor. He charged without thinking.
The impact knocked her out of the device's hold, but Ethan had had to lower his relative mass to get the speed needed, making it easy for him in turn to be grabbed by the effector in Prothean device.
He felt himself be hovered into the air and turned to face the device…
…the world was washed out in bright white light…
...he thought he saw, shapes, sounds, screams, worlds afire…
BattleMechs of the Galaxy
Mass: 65 tons (Relative)
Tech Base: Mixed
Chassis Config: Biped
Rules Level: Experimental Tech
Era: Star Covenant
Tech Rating/Era Availability: X/X-X-X
Production Year: 2825
Cost: 22,178,310 C-Bills
Battle Value: 1,957
Chassis: SC Special IV Endo-Steel
Power Plant: Magna 390 Fusion XL Engine
Walking Speed: 64.8 km/h
Maximum Speed: 97.2 km/h
Jump Jets: Chevron III
Armor: Fibrolyte Armorscale II Ferro-Fibrous
1 (SC) LRM-10
4 (SC) Medium Lasers
1 Guardian ECM Suite
1 (CL) Anti-Missile System
1 DE CounterMass Suite
Manufacturer: Carter Aerospace and Ground Dynamics
Primary Factory: Sigurd's Cradle
Communications System: AR 14 Laser Direct Beacon
Targeting and Tracking System: VI - Q System
The Exterminator-25 is a Mech that was designed for use in Assymetrical warfare
with the lessons learned from the Batarian War. It is also the latest evolution
of technologies and schools of thought regarding Mech warfare in the greater
The first notable capability of the Exterminator is the unifying of concept
between the Chameleon Light Polarization Shield and Null Signature System, into
what is known as Void Signature. It prevents the Mech from radiating a
significant heat signature as well as cloaking it from view in the optical
visible spectrum, making it all but invisible. Infantry can hear the mech and
will be able report its footfalls, so the mech is still vulnerable to seismic
The mech also features a dynamic myomer layout and compact gyro, which allow it
to imitate the movement of the organic pilot in conjuction with the Virtual
Dynamic Pilot Interface. This gives the Exterminator the ability to crouch and
even go full prone with the aid of the VI governed mass compensators dailing
its inherent mass up and down. Though pilots never do the latter in combat as
the time to 'get up' safely leaves the mech very vulnerable. Though it does
allow fallen mechs to right themselves without the need of a salvage repair
The Exterminator can now also fly with the aid of its fusion powered jets as
manueverable as any ASF. It's Barriers reconfigure into mimicking the
aerodynamic and control surfaces of a traditional ASF, giving it an indefinite
range in atmosphere. The mech does not need dropship support to leave a
planet's gravity well either, and can rendezvous with orbiting ships. In
addition, with attached drop tanks on the back, the Exterminator could even do
FTL jumps to rejoin with its carrier outside a hostile solar system.
The cockpit location is also a departure from the norm, now moved to the torso.
Given the VI smart munitions in use all over the galaxy, it is easy for any
infantryman or tanker to target the relatively lightly armored 'head' of a
BattleMech. Therefore to stop the Exterminator would require a critical hit or
With all this versatility the weapons are forced to be rather basic in layout
but practical. An LRM10 launcher firing Disruptor warheads that would fire
first to strip an opponent of its shields, before the four lasers would do the
job of killing the enemy. Ballistic AMS defends it against missiles and
Given the sensitive technologies involved in its construction, the Exterminator
is only assigned to the most elite of Covenant Mechwarriors and operates behind
enemy lines. They mostly undertake missions to support the elite Covenant
Blackheart operatives and there are some Blackhearts who specialize in piloting