Task Force Hydra
A/N: iNf3ctioNZ: Alright? I know this isn't Masses to Masses 3, don't kill me, but the four of us involved in this fic have been itching to get stuff written and started, so here we are. Task Force Hydra, which you can probably tell is based (loosely) off the multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. I'm writing the character of Raethus Cerenti, a turian adept. Oh, and this is gonna be updated parallel to MtM. Neither fic is gonna get in the way of the other, I can just contribute to this while studying at the moment rather than writing solo. Anyway, getting the ideas together for this and writing it has been pretty damn fun, so we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we're enjoying making it (including copious hours of multiplayer as 'research'.) So yeah, enjoy!
Kassandra Black: Hi, everyone! First off, thanks for taking the time to read this collaborative piece. I'll be taking over the character of Camila Bennett, who you'll be learning more about (along with the other characters) as the story progresses. I've had a blast writing this, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we've enjoyed writing it. This started off as a funny idea that quickly evolved into a detailed story so we're very excited to finally upload it for all to see. :D
quantumparadigm: Hey everyone! Thank you all for reading this story, and I really hope you enjoy it as much as we have while writing it (seriously, you wouldn't believe the crap we get up to)! I'll be writing the character Valeria Viridi, an asari sentinel who kicks some serious ass ;) Don't freak out about the asari language! I'm making a guide for all of you so can keep up with her insults. I really think you'll love the story!
TheRev28: Hey folks! So I'm writing the character of Urdnot Wrev. (Not Wreav, Wrev. Pronounced like my pen name.) Anywho, it's has been really fun writing this chapter with these three, and I think you guys and gals will like it. Since I seem to be the last one to have an A/N, I guess I'll be the one to say this: Enjoy!
"Is That Door Open Yet?"
Task Force Hydra recoiled as the wall in front of them was suddenly and violently replaced by a Brute. Pieces of metal flew outward, raining down on the squad as they skidded to a halt, their progress blocked. After a brief hesitation, while the hulking creature regained whatever remained that could be called 'senses', the brute roared and charged.
"Shit!" Cami shouted, backpedaling from the oncoming brute as she debated the merits of charging the hulking tank in front of her. Probably not. It swung out its arm to slam her just as Val biotically pulled her out of harms way, while Wrev and Rae rolled to the side behind them. "Thanks," she breathed out, kneeling next to Val as she grabbed her Disciple and charged it up.
Val smiled briefly at Cami as she contemplated her next move. "Nai dithena, Zahra."
Val captured Wrev's attention with her eyes, and the krogan nodded, dusting off his pink armor. She flared her biotics and launched a powerful warp at the brute as it skidded to a halt from its previous charge, followed moments later by a powerful throw from Wrev. The resulting biotic detonation staggered, but unfortunately did not kill, the beast. Bits of its armor fell away, smoking from the explosion and Val launched another warp at it, biotic energy screaming through her whole nervous system. Wrev brought his claymore up in a smooth motion, pumping rounds into the brute in unison with Cami, each circling opposite the other around the brute so they didn't present a unified target.
Rae reaved the creature while it was distracted by the shotgun rounds blasting into its flesh and Wrev prepared another throw. Val's sniper clapped like thunder as she brought the brute into her scope and blew off a good chunk of its left arm. Seeing a new weakness, Cami began focusing her fire at the newly opened wound while Rae and Wrev maintained their reave/throw combination, wracking the brute with explosion after explosion. It was unable to charge any member of the team under such intense fire, and the effects were noticeable.
Wrev cast a sidelong glance at his turian companion. Sometimes, he couldn't believe that he was working with a turian. That he was working well with a turian. He should hate turians, but this one was...different. Bearable. Maybe it was the biotics. Rae was powerful, and Wrev had learned long ago to respect power, no matter the source.
Raethus noticed the krogan's glance and nodded in acknowledgment. He had always thought Wrev was exceptionally hostile, strong and violent, even for a species which prided itself on those three qualities, but the biotic displays Rae had witnessed from the krogan had changed him from simply intolerable to borderline intolerable. For a krogan, that was one hell of a step up.
The brute was slowing down and Rae, sensing that it was time to end this fight, tabbed his radio. "Alright, I think he's had enough." The brute focused its attention on the turian adept, almost as if it could sense that he was the one giving the order for its demise. Contempt poured off it in waves.
No one bothered to reply. They didn't need to. Within seconds, Wrev and Val launched powerful warps, the full strength of their biotics behind the powers, and Rae hurled another reave. Once the others had done their job, Cami got ready to finish the brute off for good. She flared eye-blindingly blue and streaked down the hallway in a biotic charge, detonating the field around the brute in a massive explosion.
"Ugh, disgusting! I hate it when that happens!" Cami was covered head to toe in blood and pulpy flesh. More was spattered on the walls around her.
Wrev turned to face the human, a smile plastered over his scarred face. "Get over it. At least you're not dead."
"Easy for you to say, Pinky. You're not covered with brute guts."
"It's got nothing on thresher maw guts," Wrev said with a small chuckle. "Now that was a fun time."
Val pulled a string of... something off her face. Of all the days to not wear her mask. At least her mouth hadn't been open. "Vahiyaranin... This is disgusting."
Rae popped a thermal clip into his pistol, trying to flinch away from the guts covering his armor. "Let's hope there aren't many more of those things around. We can't afford to keep slowing down to clean up and send 'round the hand sanitizer."
"This is why I always tell you guys to wear helmets," Cami emphasized as she walked up to Val and assisted her in removing the stringy gore which had somehow managed to entangle itself around the asari's fringe, then removed her own helmet in an attempt to wipe her visor clean. Her glove smeared the blood around but didn't entirely remove it, and she sighed. "This is gonna be a bitch to clean."
Val shot a scathing look at Cami, but tempered it with a smile. Helmets interfered with sniping whereas a good holographic interface like the one she was currently wearing were much better suited to tracking targets. She carried a mask for when it was necessary.
"Need help, Rae?" she asked, noticing the turian was unwinding a particularly large chunk of intestine off his shoulder. The turian muttered something noncommittal, and Val marched up to him to help untangle the stringy flesh from around his neck.
"I don't know, Val," Wrev said, giving Rae an appraising look. "I think he looked better with that thing on him."
Val and Rae rolled their eyes at the krogan and shared a smirk. Of course he did. Cami just laughed, putting her helmet back on and shaking her head in amusement.
An inhuman screech echoed throughout the building, cutting the banter off as the whole monastery grew still. It was as if the very building was holding its breath, waiting for the shriek to pass. Everything about it sounded...wrong, in defiance of nature. The squad exchanged horrified glances as the shriek seemed to echo in their bones, slicing at their souls.
For Wrev, the noise sent a wave of anticipation through him. Whatever was making that noise obviously didn't care about stealth, which meant it must be powerful. Wrev grinned maniacally. Maybe this would be a fun mission after all.
Cami shuddered at the sound. Everything about this place reminded her of those old horror vids she loved to watch...except this was very, very real. She could feel her flesh erupt in goosebumps even though she was covered in armor.
"We better get to that elevator," Val stated quietly, hackles rising. "This is an ardat-yakshi monastery... we were wondering what happened to the initiates." She hadn't considered the fact that the Reapers might repurpose the asari that lived here for their own purposes. She wasn't sure she wanted to find out just what an ardat-yakshi turned reaper was capable of.
An uneasy silence blanketed the squad as they contemplated the asari's words.
"I'm sure that sound and the fact we're in an ardat-yakshi monastery aren't related," Rae muttered sardonically, flicking the safety of his handgun on and off, a habit he'd picked up over the years whenever he was particularly on edge. Loud screaming in an already creepy monastery was having that effect, and in spades.
"What are we standing here for?" Wrev asked. "Let's get moving."
The squad took off down the hallway, stepping over the shards of metal where the brute had broken through. Aside from the intermittent wailing screech behind them, the building was eerily silent. Too silent. As if the reaper forces were coordinating, planning, or scheming. It was sinister. It was unsettling.
It was plain freaky.
"I don't like this," Val whispered, just loud enough for her voice to carry to the others as she checked their six for what felt like the millionth time.
"This place creeps me out," Cami agreed, gripping her shotgun. "The sooner we get outta here, the better."
Val examined the data streaming on her omni-tool. "The elevator should be just ahead."
They reached the open chamber, only to discover the door's access panel glowing a dull red. Wrev slammed a fist into the call button but nothing happened.
"What's wrong with it?" Cami asked Val as the asari pushed past them to take a closer look.
"This isn't good..." Val muttered, half to herself, before turning to look at the squad. "We might be here for a bit. I have to route past the main grid to get this open." Val set to work even as she finished talking, bypassing the protocols. Data streamed across the small display of the omni-tool. Whoever had locked this had done a good job. Too good of a job. She narrowed her eyes in determination. She was good, too.
Another guttural wail filled the hallway and the rest of the squad instinctively rotated to face the direction the noise had originated. The hallway was still empty, but a chill ran through them as they realized they were stuck in a precarious position with nowhere to go.
"How long is 'a bit'?" Rae asked, popping a heat sink on his pistol.
Val responded without turning to look at the turian, eyes focused on analyzing the data. "At least five minutes."
"We, uh...we might not have five minutes," Cami said as she eyed the first enemy. It was quickly taken down by Wrev with a blast from his shotgun, but there were more behind it.
Val selected a segment of code and began modifying the parameters as quickly as she could without accidentally disengaging the whole system and putting the facility in lockdown. Of course the monastery would have drastic measures like that in place. Wouldn't want ardat-yakshi escaping. "I'm working as fast as I can."
"Well work faster!" Wrev shouted over the sudden burst of shots as cannibals, marauders and husks advanced on their position, pouring out of the hallway. That one choke-point was probably the only thing that would keep them from being completely overwhelmed if they worked fast enough. So long as the enemy forces didn't get it into their heads to pour out from the balcony above. A husk leapt at the krogan battlemaster, but he threw it back against the far wall. He could have sworn he heard a snap over the din of battle.
"Ei enai!" Val shouted at Wrev. Code practically screamed across her screen as she gained access to the backup relays controlling the transportation system. The override mechanism would be contained in this secondary subsystem. Now how to go about triggering it? ...
Rae released an impressive shockwave straight down the hallway, bulldozing a few husks and cannibals and sending them flying in the air. Cami and Wrev blasted the flying reapers with their shotguns, killing the monstrosities before they even hit the ground. More cannibals replaced the dead, and they let loose a hail of bullets. The shots from their weapons peppered the elevator door behind the squad's line of defense, one narrowly missing Val.
She didn't flinch as the bullet buried itself deep within the door, warping the metal. "Ei nel ariat'enai priya-dvar het yi metak y'mil aivok!"
Cami quickly threw up a barrier and positioned herself in front of Val. "Sorry 'bout that. They just keep piling in, and there's nowhere to take cover," she said, throwing a quick glance over her shoulder. "Any luck on the door?"
"Not yet," Val hissed, feeling the mounting pressure, as she encountered another block. "These algorithms are reaper based and highly adaptive. I still can't get access to the locking mechanism, but I'm making progress. Just hang on."
Rae tossed an ammo clip to Wrev, who deftly caught it and inserted it into his shotgun in one swift move. Another wave of enemies poured through the hallway, and the sizzle of biotic energy filled the air. Seeing the new wave charging forward, Wrev decided that his Claymore was no longer his best choice. He quickly stored it on his lower back and pulled his Revenant from over his shoulder. With a small chuckle, he pulled the trigger.
"How you can be laughing at a time like this is beyond me, Pinky," Rae said, dropping an oncoming cannibal with a few well-placed pistol shots.
"Now I see why my brother put me on this team: You need to learn to enjoy a good fight, turian," the battlemaster replied, never letting up on the Revenant fire.
"Never said I wasn't enjoying myself," Rae grunted. "Just don't feel like shouting about it. Val, how about a stasis bubble?" He backed up a few steps as the line of enemies reaching them before being killed was slowly advancing. Cami punctuated the turian's request by slamming her fist to the ground in a massive discharge of biotic power. The nova blasted the few husks away that had almost breached their ranks.
The asari paused her data hacking just long enough to expertly place a stasis bubble right at the neck of the hallway. Husks froze mid-jump as they encountered the biotic field and were rendered motionless. The squad took advantage of the temporary relief to unleash a hail of bullets at the frozen enemies. Wrev discharged a throw, detonating the biotic field keeping the reaper forces in place and clearing the current wave. The squad eagerly took advantage of their new-found respite.
"Val, almost done?" Rae barked.
"Asking me that every thirty seconds won't make this go any faster," the asari replied tersely, still trying to access to the locking mechanism.
"Well, at least now-" Cami's reply was cut short by another inhuman screech. Cami, Rae, and Wrev immediately trained their weapons on the door, and Val's fingers whizzed across the small screen as she selected bits of code to modify.
"Whatever that thing is, it's getting too close," Rae said.
"Good," Wrev replied. "I'm sick of hearing it scream like that." As soon as the words left his mouth, another wail reverberated throughout the monastery. There was no doubt now: whatever that thing was, it was definitely getting closer.
"Before you ask: No, the door isn't open yet."
"Don't get your fringe in such a knot, Val," Wrev said, looking back at her with a grin.
"Shut up, Pinky." The krogan just chuckled, turning back to the entrance as the screech grew louder.
"God, why can't this thing just show up already? The suspense is killing me," Cami grumbled as she doubled the grip on her gun.
Suddenly, with a final shriek, their elusive enemy finally made an appearance. The creature was... grotesque. It had obviously been asari at one point, but whatever the Reapers did during the husk creation process warped the creature into a horrendous caricature. The limbs were elongated, stretching the thing to a good seven feet in height, and its skin was a sickly grey color instead of the normal asari blue. It floated inches above the ground, its bare feet just scraping the surface.
"What the fuck is that?" Rae exclaimed.
"Just something else to kill," Wrev said, sounding perfectly calm in the face of the creature.
The asari husk started to shake and was surrounded by a blue veil of raw power. Instantly, it was halfway down the hall, seeming to get there without crossing the space in between. It shook again, and it was suddenly in the room near them.
"Looks like you've got an admirer, Cami," Rae said, twitching mandibles betraying his nervousness as he flared his biotics in preparation. "She's copying you."
"If she's half as good as me, then we're in trouble," Cami retorted, though the shake in her voice belied her show of confidence. She recharged her barrier before cocking her shotgun and took a step back, the backs of her legs coming into contact with Val's back.
"Crowding me won't make this go faster, either," Val muttered just loud enough for her voice to carry. She was almost there. She could practically see the locking mechanism shut off sequence. Just one more protocol to bypass... "I've almost got it!"
The lights flashed out and power to the elevator shut down. Silence descended on them and the sounds of their breath was the only source of noise. Val activated her omni flashlight, trying to figure out what the fuck had just happened. Similar lights clicked on next to her, silhouetting Rae and Wrev neatly. Val looked at the door then back at her tool. No...
The asari husk warped forward, blasting Rae, Wrev and Cami to the side with a shrill scream and the force of her impact. The creatures' eyes settled on Val, the only one not blown away by the blast. Val furiously pried at the door, keenly aware that the asari husk was focusing its attention on her. Goddess, if only she could get the damn thing open!
A harsh, blistered hand grabbed Val by her head, lacerating her scalp as she was wrenched away from the door. With a sickening horror, she saw the tip of one of the crests of her fringe drop onto the floor in the pool of light provided by her omni as she was dragged upwards. The grip on her head was painfully tight, and she felt hot blood gush out of the wounds on her scalp and seep down through her armor. Her feet dangled above the ground, kicking at the creature's knees with no effect.
The will to resist faded as dark, glowing eyes pierced into her own. The husk was wreathed in the blue fire of biotic energy. The sounds of the others diminished, replaced by the rush of blood in her ears and whispers in the back of her mind. White hot pain flashed through her body and Val felt the melding nodes in her system activate in response to the banshee's touch. The hand not gripping her scalp reached up and caressed the soft skin of her neck.
"Welcome, sister," a voice whispered, echoing in the recesses of her mind. Val stopped struggling, her limbs falling still. She couldn't remember why she'd been struggling, but it felt important...
"No! Val!" Cami screamed, charging at the creature. But she was thrown back, her body colliding violently against the wall. Her helmet cracked, and her visor shattered as she slid down the wall. She landed painfully, breath catching in her throat as she watched in horror at the scene playing out before her. She attempted to lift herself up, but her body felt dreadfully heavy, and she collapsed back against the floor. This is it, she thought ruefully. This was the end, and there was nothing she could do to save the friend she had grown to love as a sister. A tear escaped the corner of her eye as she thought about how Val would never call her "Zahra" again. She had failed her...she had failed them all. A ragged breath escaped her lips and she succumbed to the welcoming darkness.
"They will fall... and you will join us." Yes, Val could see that... but even as she thought that, her eyes slid away and settled on the small frame of Cami as she slumped against the wall and the will to struggle reasserted itself. The asari husk hissed in her face and pulled her body flush against the creatures, twisting her head sharply to look into its eyes. The creature glowed brighter in her mind's eye, and Val faltered.
She wanted to join... but she couldn't help feeling that she was missing something important. Something vitally important.
Seeing Cami fail and noting that Val had fallen inordinately still, Wrev decided to try good old fashioned brute strength. Since he'd dropped his Revenant in the earlier blast, he quickly pulled out his Claymore and charged the asari husk. When he got close enough, he fired a shot point blank, but even that didn't take the thing's barrier down. It simply waved its hand, and Wrev was suddenly hit by a large ball of biotic energy. The battlemaster was thrown back against the wall, and he felt a sharp pain in his chest. Looking down, he saw a broken support beam protruding from his chest. The rage began flowing, but there was nothing he could do.
After Cami and Wrev were decimated at close range, Rae decided to stay as far back as he could. Wrev's massive shotgun had done little to no damage, meaning Rae's Predator pistol would be useless. That left him biotics. Not wasting a moment, the turian biotically reaved the thing that was still holding Val. He had come to appreciate the asari sentinel for her sharp wit, one to match his own, and spirits take him if he couldn't save her. With the reave in place, Rae started to follow it up with a shockwave.
That's when he noticed the massive ball of energy streaming towards him. He tried getting his shockwave off, but he had to dodge the attack. The shockwave was subpar with very little power behind it. And despite his evasion attempt, the creature's attack impacted him square in the chest, sending him to the ground from the sudden, intense pain. He bit back a scream as the pain flashed white hot, searing through him. He wouldn't give the asari husk the satisfaction, no matter how much it hurt. He collapsed onto his hands, talons splayed out before him as the pain intensified, like an electric shock ravaging through his nervous system.
With the others neutralized, the asari husk leaned in closer. Dark, bloated lips grazed against Vals, and she shuddered involuntarily. The husk's free hand slid up her chest, settling right below her breasts, and Val shivered again. A coldness dampened her soul.