A Massive, MASSIVE thank-you to Cali for the Beta. Well. I say "Beta" he actually made the whole chapter readable. thanks!
Apologies about the delay in publishing, I haven't had access to a computer for a few months!
Naturally located in a temperate biosphere around the Utopia star, the idyllic planet had been one of the first worlds established beyond the Charon mass relay; it was covered in thriving rainforests, spectacular mountains, vast fertile Greenland and sparkling oceans full of clear unpolluted ocean. The entire Utopia system represented what humanity could achieve with its new-fangled space travel capability. Eden Prime was a beacon of pride and hope for the whole Alliance, showing the galaxy with pride what they were capable of when they worked together. And now that paradise was burning. The capital city of Constant was under merciless bombardment, and bright burning orange spots danced across the surface- many of such size they were visible from orbit. It was if the devil himself had come to take this second Eden from humanity.
High above the unpredicted assault, a small unassuming frigate – The SSV Valiant, hung in orbit silently - her crew planning their next move. Three humans spoke in funeral whispers, almost as if the unknown force below would awaken to their unwanted presence and rise to swallow them whole.
A single Quarian, alone among aliens, gazed through one of the small portside viewing windows of the Valiant's cockpit with horror. Her suited hands tightened on the guardrail as if maintaining her grip could somehow save those below. Mia could barely register the human language emanating behind her; nothing seemed to matter except maintaining a sickened eye on the repulsive sights far below. The young Quarian could feel herself shaking. It was just like all those nightmare tales she had been told during her childhood. Is this what her ancestors had seen as they fled the Home world? Had it been even worse? A small choked sigh escaped her lips.
A hand gently placed itself on her shoulder. Mia could feel the subtle alterations in her suit as the touch registered on its outer layer. She looked up from the destruction that had been hypnotizing her into Captain Rhyder's brown eyes. The Quarian had struggled before with human expressions, but she knew what his eyes were trying to trying to convey.
"I understand." He whispered quietly.
Mia gulped down the bile that had been rising steadily in her throat. She was almost certain she knew what his empathy implied, which assuaged her grief and anxiety, at least a parcel. "Please tell me you can do something about this."
Rhyder didn't reply, but slowly moved his gaze from the Quarian to his crew.
"Any communications?" he aimed fixated/shot a glance towards Anya. She had not moved from her pilot's chair since the emergency had revealed itself. Her green eyes had flashed over dozens of data feeds; some displaying real time planetside movements, others glowed with combat Intel compiled by the Valiant's VI. Despite the severity of the situation Anya had remained calm and composed, with only a small frown line to betray her worry. The Pilot did not look up from her console as she replied.
"I have various distress calls from a dozen different areas of the Capital and several installations. Most are garbled, however. It is possible a short range jammer jamming device has been set up in the city to silence short distance communication."
Rhyder looked over to Finn, who had been leaning on the opposite guardrail to Mia. His arms were crossed and his expression was hard.
"We caught a couple of civilian ships getting out of dodge when we arrived. They didn't exactly stop to chat but they gave us warning."
"The last ship to leave told us to cut and run," Anya finished. "They said-"
"Geth were attacking." Finn finished with a growl and a glare in the Quarian's direction.
Mia felt as if a burning rope was tightening around her neck.
"That's- That's not possible…. They couldn't be here. They just couldn't!"
Anya looked up from the interface, emerald eyes on Rhyder.
"I sent word to the Alliance the moment we arrived in the system Sir. But it will-"
"Take time for them to respond." Rhyder finished for her, nodding his understanding. "Time the good people of Eden Prime just don't have. Thoughts?"
"My vote is for EMPs shove up their synthetic arses. Who's with yours truly, eh?" Finn growled.
Anya winced. "I would not like to rate our chances against an entire Geth invasion force. We're not equipped for heavy combat situations. If the Geth have any Frigates or Cruisers we'd have plenty of ways we could be liquidated. It's just not-"
The steel toe of fin's boot jousted the fuselage of the guard rail, making a muffled, but resounding clang. "That's Zadia's homeworld down there if you care to recall Adams." Finn pointed out sharply. His pointed features were murderously glaring out at the sober pilot.
"Finn, it insults me to think I've forgotten." Anya retorted, her calm exterior crumbling slightly. "I just think we've already had one foot in our graves the entire time, and it's not necessary for the rest of us to end up like Zadia!"
Finn pushed himself off the guardrail and shot a fiery scowl at Anya that would have rusted metal.
"Like you would care what Zadia would have wanted! Typical god damn Cerberus lemming that you ar-"
Rhyder's pinky fingers pinched both sides of his tongue, the corsair captain whistling loudly, cutting off Anya's retort. Which looked very much as if it was going to be a slap, judging by her enraged facial expression. "Enough."
Mia frowned under her helmet. There was that word again. "Cerberus"…
"I'm only going to say this once. I cannot afford, and will not stand to have my crew at eachother's throats. I will remind you that this is not a bickering democracy. Need I remind you who head honcho here is?" Rhyder began, now standing between the two humans. "Zadia's was one of us and that's her home planet down there. You both know damn well that if she was here she'd be make a beeline to the shuttle and volunteer to be the pointwoman for the mission."
"Fuckin' 'A'…" Finn muttered under his breath.
"But… Anya's got the grasp of it. The Valiant has already taken some nasty knocks. She won't hold up in any kind of combat it would be suicide."
"You can't seriously be considering just hanging them out to dry down there?" A disbelieving voice asked.
It took Mia a few moments to realise that the disbelieving voice had been hers. She felt her cheeks flush under her helmet.
Rhyder however, practically beamed at her.
"Well Mia? You're part of my crew, albeit temporary. Thoughts? You do have the most experience with the Geth after all."
Three sets of human eyes fixated on the Quarian. Keelah, it was getting hot in here… It took all her will power not to start wringing her hands. All the stories she has heard as a child began to fly through her mind; the codex entries, her father's notes, as well as all the cryptic experiments.
"If this was a full Geth invasion fleet the system would be drowning in Geth ships…" She began slowly. "From what I can tell it's possible we're dealing with a large scouting mission rather than a full invasion."
"If that's a scouting party..." Finn pointed out incredulously, gesturing out the window. "Then Genghis Khan and the Mongols were a secular humanist relief group."
Anya shushed him, one of her hands held out as she poured her eyes into the monitor. "Mia may be correct. I have not detected any Geth ships in orbit around the planet."
"Which means that all Geth forces have already been deployed. If your ship is fast, we could stop the Geth from advancing too far into Constant." Mia said.
"We could take the shuttle." Finn pointed out. Mia noticed that he was now constantly shifting on his feet. Restless.
"Alright," Rhyder cheerfully said, rounding on his crew. "Mia's got it all welded down. We go in, keep a low profile, and when we can, we pick off a few isolated geth patrols. But remember, our biggest priority will be aiding civilians down there and hooking up with the planetary guard and police forces."
Mia watched Rhyder carefully as he tapped few buttons on his Omni-Tool. A huge 3D holograph of Eden Prime appeared, filling the room with a shimmering blue light. Judging by how it displayed geographical data, casualty reports and dozens of other feeds, The image was obviously of military origin.
"That's Constant." Noted Finn, who was now leaning forward to observe the glowing globe.
"Zadia told me about it. Most of the space is dedicated to Agricultural facilities. There's a small garrison. The 2nd Frontier division, they're in charge of defense."
A number of blue and red dots were shimmered throughout the holo-map.
"Captain, life signs are positive. There are people alive in the city," Anya noted, refined green eyes flashing over the display. "Who knows how long they can hold out..."
"Excuse me…" Mia began.
Rhyder flicked off the display, his glowing orange Omni-tool fading out of sight.
"Alright, we're going in. Finn and I will take the shuttle down to the city; and try to organize some resistance." He turned to Anya, whose hands were now frantically moving over the ship's interface.
"Captain Rhyder…" The Quarian tried again.
"Anya, take us in quick and discreet. Finn? Go suit up and get the shuttle running."
"Aye, aye, skipper." Finn nodded and ran out of the cabin, no one seemed to be paying the Quarian the slightest bit of notice. Rhyder went to follow when a Quarian hand grabbed his arm.
"I'm coming with you." She said resolutely.
Rhyder raised his eyebrows at her.
"Mia, our chances of surviving this are pretty slim. I can't-"
"This is my serious face I'm afraid."
A small grin spread out over Rhyder's handsome features.
"I know how to fight." Mia continued, ignoring the human captain's grin. "-and I know more about the Geth than anyone else on this ship. I'm coming with you."
"It's an understatement to say that this will be dangerous, Miss Vas Drina. You have any combat experience?"
"Enough." was her short reply.
A smile spread over Rhyder's lips.
"I don't have a choice here do I?"
"You said yourself, this isn't a democracy." replied Mia.
Rhyder continued smiling. "You're not the captain though, Mia."
"Yet something tells me you aren't going to disagree." Mia returned a smile under her faceplate.
Thank you so much for reading! a little short this one, but it's been such a struggle to write (This passage has been a real jynx!) that 'Im vastly relieved to get it out there.
A review is the only physical reward i get for my work, so please take a few seconds to hit the review page! i love feedback.
And once again thanks to Cali, who saved this chapter like you wouldn't believe.