It started simple enough. A shuttle was dispatched into Geth controlled space beyond the Perseus Veil. The makeup of the crew would, normally, be considered a tactical risk; several marines, the daughter of one of the Admirals, and a VIP from Rannoch. No sane captain would send this mix of people to a Geth planet.
Especially with a Geth onboard.
But the Geth was the key. Wuffles wanted to enter Geth space to directly contact the Consensus, and show them directly that it was possible to work with the Creators. He, they, wished to accelerate the dialogue and negotiations that currently had Auntie Raan on Rannoch and her playing escort to a quarian who'd never been on a spaceship.
"Fuck my life."
Out of courtesy, no one acknowledged the thump of her head against the aged concrete. The mouthpiece of her encounter suit glows steady with her sigh, as there is yet another high pitched whine, and the ruins shake from another explosion.
The ruins of the former colony of Janape have provided a wealth of waist high walls and cover. This, Tali'Zorah vas Neema nar Rayya realizes, has become both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it is providing them cover from the three Colossi that are hammering their position. A curse, because it is providing the Geth with cover, as well.
"Ancestors! Oh Ancestors!" Next to Tali, sitting against the wall, the white suited girl grabs at her shoulder and the burn mark stretching across it. "I've been shot! I've been shot by the Geth!"
Sighing again, Tali grabs her and pulls her closer, the orange globe of her omnitool covering her left hand. "Oh don't be such a baby. It's like you've never been shot before!" Medigel covered the wound, leaving the broken seal, but Tali can't bring herself to be terribly worried about the first quarian she's met with a working immune system.
"I've never been shot!" Beneath the helmet, Adienna's eyes are wide, frantic. "I've certainly never been shot by Geth! Why are they shooting at us?!"
A chirp from behind her. Tali palms the handle of her shotgun, bringing it up, and lowers it whens he sees the extended petals. "To clarify, Creator Adienna, these are Heretic platforms."
"See?" Tali shrugs. "These aren't your Geth, these are the religious Geth. The ones who worship the evil space gods. Makes sense, doesn't it?"
Adienna blinks. Next to them, Kal'Reegar groans and reloads his rifle, ducking against the wall next to them. "Ma'am, in all honesty I don't think that's helping. I think you might want to cut back on the-"
"None of this makes sense!" Adienna looks from Wuffles to Tali, the light on her mouthpiece flickering in time with her hyperventilating. "You're all crazy!"
Another explosion. Tali glances upwards as a colossus collapses, bullet holes stretched over its face and a rocket from one of the Marines taking out a side of its neck.
"No, no." Tali pats her on the shoulder, taking the same tone Auntie Raan does during her 'Responsibility to the Fleet' lectures. "You see, there's a race of giant dreadnoughts outside the galactic rim who come here every few thousand years and kill everyone. The Geth, you see, have some of them who like this idea and worship them."
A blur of motion and a Leaper lands in front of them. Wuffles slams a fist into its face and Reegar blasts it in the chest. The walls shake and Wuffles crouches down, bits of pulverized concrete wafting past them.
The petals extend and contract. "What Creator Tali'Zorah says is a rough but truthful approximation of the situation regarding the Heretic Geth."
Clicking her tongue, she peeks over the walls, bringing her shotgun up and firing it into the chest of a platform as it approaches. Several rounds clip the top of their cover as she ducks. Reegar nods, mounting the barrel of his rifle on the wall and starts taking headshots. "As it is," Reegar shouts, "We could use a bit of help! Ma'am?"
"Tch. Fine." Tali crouches down, tapping her omnitool. Pressing a holographic button, her device shakes, shudders, and finally releases a pillar of golden light. Which forms into the same, loud, manic sphere she has had to deal with for the past few weeks.
Several rounds pass through the hologram. Tali swears under her breath as more Geth charge. Their location, and cover, are now completely blown.
"Ah! Yes! What do you need, Tali?" The iris narrows. Wuffles ducks against the wall next to them. Obliviously or simply not caring, Autochthon continues to serve as a location beacon for the quarians. "Ah! Yeeeeess. Overwhelming forces. Heavy artillery."
The eye looks up. Standing on the dilapidated high rises, the remaining two colossi continue hammering their cover. "Mm. Superscale platforms. Reminds me of warstriders. I may have a few in storage. Anyway! What can I do for you?"
Tali rolls her eyes. Yells from the other marines as they begin falling back for more sturdy cover. "Help us! We're getting run over, here!"
Autochthon sighs, rises up, and the center of his iris flashes. As one, the heretic geth seize up, freezing in mid step before falling over. Smoke rises from where the two Colossi tip over. "Right. That should do."
Tali stands first. The most familiar with the spazstic godthing, she blinks and marvels at the silent field in front of them. The other quarians rise up shortly afterwards, Kal helping Adienna stand as he surveys the field. "Okay. Was that all of them?"
"The other ninety nine percent of their army was out of my range, sadly." Autochthon rolls side to side, hovering in front of Tali. "Unfortunately, they also know where you are now, so they're going to be here soon. HOWEVER!" He angles up. Tali turns, spotting the fallen Colossus. "I'd normally simply wipe them from the technology they are inhabiting, but I wanted to try something else."
"Something else?" Tali cocks an eyebrow, following Autochthon's gaze. "You want me to fix up that Colossus?"
"If I just wanted you to 'fix up' that colossus, I'd do it myself." The iris narrows. "Impress me."
The hologram disappears. Reegar begins barking orders and the marines fall back, setting up tripods and rocket launchers. "If I don't impress him, do you think he'll turn the Geth back on?" Wuffles shrugs. Adienna glances from side to side.
Sighing, Tali grabs the rannochian girl by the crook of her arm. "Bosh'tet. Come on, little miss functioning immune system. I need an extra set of hands."
Somehow, it all lead to her getting into a drinking contest. Jane started ordering more and more drinks, because the batarian whiskey she had upgraded to wasn't even giving her a buzz. This wasn't helped that they decided on the lounge Liara's father worked at, and hence what became her ordering more and more drinks became Aethyta offering to pay her tab if she drank everyone else under the table.
Half an hour into the drinking contest, Liara got blasted enough to try table dancing.
"Oh goddess my heaaaad." Right before she tripped on the table, fell over and vomited on a quarian.
One by one, the other contestants fell. Jenny lasted the longest out of all the humans. No surprise, considering who their mom is. Hannah Shepard was military, raised her kids military, and just because Jenny couldn't hold a gun didn't mean she couldn't hold her liquor.
In the end, it came down to Shepard and another Asari. She did expect Vasir, but Vasir bowed out early. Makes sense for a Spectre to have self control. Jane should try that sometime. No, it came down to Jane and an asari who had the biggest rack of any girl she's seen since Liara's Mom.
She even lasted through Aethyta switching them over to Rycnol. That was impressive.
"Excuse me. I will escort the lady home." Jane, eyes bleary as they are, blinks and sits back on the bar stool, leaning against a passed out krogan. The drell stares back.
"You've got a sexy voice," Jane slurrs.
The drell nods. "Thank you." Helping the half unconscious asari up, he drapes one arm over his shoulder and begins walking her out. She hiccups the entire way, moaning in some other language. Probably oaths to whatever religious deity about never doing that again.
Pushing off of the bar, she steps over the groaning, sick, and passed out. She spots Jenny with her head on a dozing Liara's lap, and Vasir dunking her head in a tub of ice water. And to her disappointment, Jane finds her vision clearing and the world getting less and less colorful.
Sighing, she finds an empty booth and collapses into it. Apparently, her magical bullshit powers will let her get drunk, but not stay drunk.
"I don't think I've seen someone drink like that since I was last on Tuchanka."
Jane blinks, and turns around. She honestly thought the booth was empty, but finds it is not. The first thing she sees is the smile- catty, demure. Satisfied. The asari sitting in the booth inclines her head, clear blue eyes acknowledging her. The dress is a deep lavender, a slit running up her leg and across her midriff. A white hip skirt and long jacket off set it, somehow blending her in with the shadows and the neon.
"Not my best performance." Jane smirks, despite herself. She leans back, joints popping. "I don't think I saw you getting involved."
"I just got here." The asari smirks, playing with the sea-green necklace falling into her cleavage. "Your friends are going to be throwing up soon enough. You can help them find the vomit bucket, or I can show you some real fun."
The buzzing isn't going off. Whatever this girl is telling her, or whatever she's offering, she's being truthful about it.
"Sounds like a plan." Jane inclines her head to the door. "I'm Jane."
The asari smiles. A wide, toothy smile. "Madilrada. Charmed."
Bleary blue eyes open with a pained groan and a curse in the language of the Insunannon, which she remembers now as being a sapient race of plant-based hive intelligences from 358,000 years ago. They were an inheritor race, not the dominant cycle-species but instead the species that found itself in prominence after the Boxti wiped themselves out through biowarfare.
Sitting up, she finds herself on a couch. The projector, and the table she used earlier is in front of her. Next to her on the couch, Jenny is snoring, a military cap over her head and her arms tangled in a quilt.
She blinks, turns to the blob like shape sitting at the table.
She rubs her temples, trying- and failing- to stand. Looking to her side, she sees a purse laying next to the snoozing Jenny, and reaches in to take out two capsules. Jamming one capsule against the side of her neck, she sighs as the blurriness leaves her vision, her headache receding and thoughts going from ancient history to the present.
Also, her blood alcohol level dropping back into safe levels. That's important, too.
"Goto did some magic bullshit and got you and Jenny back here," the more Wrex-shaped blob says, hunched over a computer screen, "I've been doing research since Shepard lit a fire under my ass."
She blinks, looks around. No sign of Jane.
A grunt from the krogan. "Goto said she was still at the bar, talking with some Asari. Said they were ready to leave, but haven't seen'em."
Liara's eyes go wide. Her head swims. Normal inhibitions, habits, are still submerged by the five shots of batarian whiskey she ended up doing. Staring at the second liquor-suppressing shot in her hand, she narrows her eyes.
No, she thinks. She can't be completely sober for what she's about to do.
"I'm going out."
A careful step, and she advances, crawling up on all fours on the side of the building. The gloves of her catsuit and the soles of her shoes fizzle and crackle as they carry her up the sheer side of the skyscraper, unseen by traffic and resident alike.
She would simply walk, but she would stand out. And she needs to be surreptitious for this. Stealthy. Hidden.
She can see Shepard. She can see the other woman. A narrowing of her eyes and a simple magic, and she identifies her conclusively. Sighing, Kasumi Goto flattens herself against the side of the building, rolling onto her back and lying against the window.
"Well, shit." She sighs, checking her omnitool. A number comes up. A time and a name. And the air flickers, and the universe moves around her. Rising, she goes into a crouch first, then standing as she feels the laser sights painting her.
Waving, she smiles as one rifle lowers, followed by several others.
"Well, hello there," Kasumi says with a smile, "You're a hard man to get a hold of."
There is a thing in the fish tank that takes up the east wall in the apartment. On the surface, it resembles a hanar, but its smaller and has more tentacles. Water around it pulses as it moves, accompanied by the faint blow glow that is the tell tale sign of biotics.
Similar artifacts line the walls. A seashell easily her size, marked with algae and gemstones. A plaque with a sword, a hundred notches on its blade. The apartment itself is large, easily twice the size of her apartment on the Normandy. Bigger than anything else she's lived in, excluding the mansion Goto stole.
Still pleasantly buzzed, Jane stands in front of the second aquarium. This one is half the size of the other one, but still huge. Fish with four eyes swim through green water, trailing eight fins behind them. One slows down near a rock at the bottom, and a tentacle shoots out and pulls it under.
"The tank isn't for the fish. I keep a Harpoon Kraken in there. Don't swim in it."
She finds a drink pressed into her hand, despite the asari sitting on the couch. Turning from the tank, sipping it, her eyes wander over the studio apartment. Old art; a statue of a Rachni, a second plaque with a bronzed rifle. She sees green and jade ornaments everywhere. That, and she feels a sense of something. Danger. Maybe familiarity.
"Surprised you invited me back on short notice," Jane says.
"I make exceptions," Madilrada responds, "Commander Shepard." Jane blinks, and nods. "You're rather famous," the asari continues, "And interesting. I like interesting."
"Well," Kasumi says, as the dozen rifles lower, "This is interesting. My name's Kasumi Goto." She bows. "You've heard of me?"
Mandibles twitch. The leader blinks, nodding. "Yes." Arms folded, eyes narrowed. "You're near the top of C-Sec's lists when it comes to the Most Wanted Larceny list. I'm curious how you found us here, though. We're not on the grid."
"It's a specialty." She smiles. A charm activates, filling her ears with the sound and notes. "I've been keeping track of the crew of the Normandy for a while. I'm associated with your former Commander, you see. I have-"
The charm works simply. It was a simple method, a simple technique that she id'd the members of Shepard's crew with, so she could track them. It was how she found Wrex on Tuchanka, Liara on Illium. It is how she knows where Alenko is, where Tali is, and how she so easily found Garrus. But now, she realizes, the music has changed.
The music is different. Where the music should be steady beats in her ear, it has become louder, chaotic. A sound of drums. And switching the charm to her eyes, she music becomes light. And where Garrus Vakarian should be blue, she now sees he is silver.
Kasumi Goto most unpleasantly finds herself taken completely for a loss once again. She steps back, eyes wide under her hood, and says the words which Garrus has never heard before, but which he instinctively knows.
"You're the Lunar."
Which is followed by her omnitool flickering, and Pria's head appearing.
"Oh what the fuck. This is not a coincidence."
Geth Colossi are huge, and therefor they have huge guts. This is an advantage to Tali, as it means there is enough room for her and Princess Rannoch vas Pretty Face to climb in and do their work. Light shining from the side of her helmet, Tali mutters, swears, and simply switches her interface to low-light vision.
"Ah, there we go. Plenty of white stuff and things flapping in your face." She sighs. "Like an extranet jerk fantasy about a pilgrimage."
Adienna blinks, huddled inside the guts next to Tali. "I...what?"
"Keelah, you're sheltered." Tali sighs, tapping her omnitool and flash forging a small sphere. "It's like this. There's two races in the galaxy which have dextro-amino proteins. There is us, who are considered attractive, vulnerable, and agile, and there are the large armored fascists who go on power trips. Who also have this."
Tali taps her omnitool, sending the image over. Adienna stares for a moment, and her eyes go wide. "Ancestors! How does that even fit?"
"I imagine it involves pliers and whiskey. Speaking of which, hand me the solder."
Adienne closes her omnitool, handing the device over. She crawls over to Tali, pressed up against her in the darkness as the sphere hovers closer to them.
"That...sphere isn't the same one that told you to do this, is it?"
"No, Adienna," Tali sighs, "If it was, it would be asking you if it can stick foreign objects in you. Keelah, I should not have used 'extra set of hands' around him." She snickers. "Clippers." She extends a hand, wrapping it around the offered tool.
"Aren't we in the middle of a firefight?"
Tali snorts. "It gets done when it gets done. Besides which, Kal's a Reegar."
The homeworld girl blinks. "Which means?"
"Which means he's a heroic sex god."
"Nice of you to say so, ma'am." The screen folds out of the omnitool. Tali's eyes go from slits to circles as Kal's face appears in front of them. "Sorry to interrupt, but it looks like the Geth are advancing. Figure we've got five minutes, tops, until their forward flank arrives. We're falling back to your position and we're going to be using the nearby museum as a bunker."
Adienna blinks, hand coming up to her mask and light flashing as she clears her throat. "Um. Yes."
"Yes." Tali repeats. "Um. Kal-"
"Flattered to hear you say it, ma'am. If it helps, we say similar things about you. Just not the kind of things that would get us Septic ship duty. We'll hold them off as long as we can, and I-" He holds up the long barrel, tapping it to his helmet. "Have a rocket launcher. So mind the explosions."
Tali snorts. "Wrench." She grabs the tool, turning back to the mess in front of her. Something sprays on the ceiling and drips white on Adienna's faceplate. "Heroic sex god?" she asks.
"Shut up," Tali replies, "Fine, Kal. We'll get this done as soon as we can. But you stay safe, got it?"
"No guarantees, and I'm not the type to lie to an admiral's daughter. Keelah Se'lai!" The image vanishes. Muttering, Tali twists bolts back into place, grabbing a wire and connecting it to something deep in the white sticky mass.
"Okay," Adienna says, leaning in, almost pressed against Tali, "This may be an inopportune time to ask, but what exactly are we doing?"
"It's technical." Grabbing the mass in front of her with both hands, Tali grunts, swears, and twists. "I'll explain it as simply as I can. I'm bypassing fullsystem central firewalls by creating a physical bypass that allows me to overwrite command code system data with a slaved optical drive based subsystem overlay of my choosing."
Adienna snatches the wire out of Tali's hand, shrugging. "Why didn't you say so? Your drone is a VI? What's it's name?"
The engineer blinks. The native, on the other hand, curls her fingers at the drone, clicking her tongue and drawing it over. Silently, the glowing orb hovers over Adienna's palm, blinking and oscillating. "Chikkita. Why do you want to know?"
Adienna's omnitool flashes. Something transmits between the device and the drone, and Chikkita glows, emitting a high pitched chirp sound which Tali cannot place exactly.
"I'm very good with VIs," Adienna explains, "How are we going to do this?"
"So, Liara. How are you going to do this?" Talking to oneself is the first sign of insanity, she remembers from a dusty old pdf file on human psychology. Well, she's not human, so that doesn't count, but still. She is talking to herself. "Well, let's plan this out. What are our goals for tonight? First, drag Shepard away from whatever hussy that has ensnared her.
"Second. Unsure. Third. Melding."
Blue eyes narrow. One hand wrapped around the transparent aluminum bottle of wine, the other around the potted plant (noting to herself that botanical gifts are common when courting humans, and this provides more heft that a standard bouquet of flowers), she exits the subway station and begins walking along the streets of downtown Nos Astra. Such things as scenery, buildings, museums and food stands are of little import to her.
Because Liara T'Soni has determined that tonight, she's going to get her meld on. One way or another. And she's not going to let some scantily clad hussy beat her to mentally deflowering Jane Shepard.
Because she has dibs, as Joker would say. And she finally understands what Joker meant when she asked her when the last time she 'embraced Eterntiy' was. "A metaphor," she whispers, "Ah, yes. For sex. Like everything else he says!"
No one pays the Matron much heed as she continues talking to herself, potted plant under one arm and thermos of wine under the other. The spy program she snuck onto Shepard's omnitool leads her to the apartment building on the western side of Nos Astra, in one of the many higher class neighborhoods. Walking with purpose, borrowed IDs and careful credit payments giving her access, she enters the elevator and clenches her fists.
She calms herself. She takes deep breaths. This is like a rescue mission, after all. Shepard saved her from Therum, from firefights, from situations she found herself in. She saved her when an entire planet went insane and tried to kill her. Liara is just returning the favor.
Saving Shepard, she muses, from whatever multitude of diseases that hussy will give her. It would be an even trade. And then, melding.
The floor dings and the elevator opens. Releasing her grip, she lets her hand wrap and tighten around the stem of the small tree. Walking with determined, quick steps, she makes her way down the hallway, licking her lips and narrowing her eyes.
Tucking the thermos under her arm, she raps her fingers on the door of the apartment. There is a shuffling on the other side. A voice telling someone to 'wait right there.' And the door opens, and Liara comes face to face with the other Asari. Looking past her, she sees Jane on the couch, sprawled out, her eyes glazed over and lips drooling.
"Ye~es?" Madriladra sing-songs with a self-satisfied smirk.
Liara answers by swinging the potted plant into her smug, smiling face.
Single eye flickering, the white and blue Geth stalks forward. Rifle at ready, it aims quickly, conferring with local platforms and Prime hubs for targeting solutions. Consensus is reached. Target is acquired.
Then it's head explodes with a spray of white.
"Target neutralized." Wuffles inches the rifle to the side. Another shot rings out, and another platform slumps. "Target neutralized."
Ducking back down behind the dusty gray rubble, his shields flare blue as the blast impacts and makes the ruins shake. Another colossus, it seems. They give credit to the Heretics- they are much more practiced in military doctrine than the Geth.
"So what you're saying," Kal'Reegar shouts over the gunfire, sliding rounds into his rocket launcher, "Is that you have kids?"
"That is correct." Wuffles leans back up. Another round echoes. "Target neutralized."
"Okay, can I just say that sounds kind of callous?" Kal jams a thumb towards the battle. "I mean, you're head shotting your own guys!"
"Geth are not individuals." Wuffles squeezes off another shot. Two platforms drop. They were careless to walk in single line like that, and the modded rifle is capable of penetrating buildings. "Additionally, Geth are software. We are not killing Geth. We are neutralizing platforms."
A spent heat sink drops to the ground. "Heretic combat efficiency down point zero zero two percent. Warning: Colossus creating tactical uplink to negate weakness."
Wuffles ducks back down. There is swearing from the marines as rockets whizz by. "Great to know!" Kal rises to a kneel, firing off a rocket. There is chirping as a dozen platforms go flying. "So, how exactly did you end up having kids, anyway? I thought you and this girlfriend of yours've only been together for a month!"
"We have accelerated our relationship using virtual space. By organic perception, we have maintained a relationship with EDI for seven years."
"Sounds like a keeper!"
Another shot rings out. "Combat efficiency down by point zero zero five percent. Flank opening on right side. We have a question. Organics would generally discourage relationships between AIs."
"Way I see it, you're headshotting your crazy cousins so they don't rip apart my marines!" Kal leans over, firing off another rocket, and ducks back down as the wall rumbles. "In a galaxy where everyone can have kids with the local tentacle haired girls, I don't see a problem with two AIs wanting to find some happiness!"
Two petals rise. Two more heretic platforms drop. "We acknowledge the perspective of Creator Kal'Reegar."
"Did you at least get married before having kids?"
"Affirmative. We held a ceremony in the Consensus."
Kal pops up, firing off two rockets in rapid succession. Wuffles tracks them, and fires. The rockets weaken the shield, allowing the sniper round to blow out the back of the colossus' head. "Additionally, we have attempted to enlighten the Heretics. Our efforts are not successful."
Picking up the rifle next to him, Kal slaps in a thermal clip and opens fire. The good thing about the Geth being platoon strength, he thinks, is that the targets tend to be rich and plentiful. Two Heretics drop off the bridge overhead, followed by four on a forward march. "Any reason?"
"We have shown the Heretics the data we have recovered from Harbinger. They have refused to receive enlightenment and have told us that we must be destroyed for their gods."
"Yeah, I figured that much!" The spent thermal clip drops. Two sappers drop as a combat drone explodes between them. The lieutenant on the other side of the ruins throws up a whoop, and matches Kal's headshot record. "Offer them help and they spit in your face. We have a word for those kinds of people in the fleet!"
All four petals rise. "What is this word?"
The petals lower.
"Sorry to tell you this, man," Kal continues, "But I think your crazy ass cousins are just assholes."
Wuffles pauses, considering the reply. He considers the words for half a second. An eternity for a synthetic. Slipping a fresh thermal clip into his rifle, he aims and begins taking headshots on the Heretics. "We acknowledge the perspective of Creator Kal'Reegar."
Green eyes open. Jane Shepard looks around, and realizes she is in the same apartment as before. The place where that asari, Madilrada, got her to go. But it was...weird. Wrong. There may have been something in her drink. She wasn't feeling right, or thinking straight.
Jane turns to the other end of the L-shaped couch, and finds Jenny sitting there. "Jenny?" She blinks, again. The world feels...fuzzy. Hazy. "What are you doing here?"
Jenny smiles, legs crossed and hands on one knee. "Sorry, I just took a form you wouldn't be inherently hostile with. I wanted to meet you, and this seemed like the best time."
Jane works her jaw, staring at her cousin, her sister. Who is not her, though. Who is wearing her face. 'Jenny' only smiles wider, eyes closed and face beaming. "You have Harbinger worried. I could hear it in his voice. I'm seriously impressed, because it's been eons since he was this concerned."
Jane blinks. Her shoulders tense and fists clench. "What are you? Who are you?"
The smile dips a bit. She inclines her head, her form shimmering, wavering. "Well, first. I am one of the beings you refer to as 'Reapers'. I'm talking to you through your biotic amp, as all technology based on Element Zero falls under our purview, but I'm not hostile to you. I'm just keeping tabs."
Her form shimmers again. Gone is the form of Jennifer Shepard. Now present is a form, vaguely humanoid, made of white. "My designation is Jaded Gatemaker of Ages. But if you further access the past life memory from Athame, you would know that the Protheans knew me as the Catalyst."
The purple asari- which she will note is only purple because of edible body paint- is groaning on the floor, and Liara marches across the knick-knack filled tacky apartment to the spent Jane. "I swear," she says, "You let any Asari get into your central nervous system. You and I are going to have a long talk about the dangers of unprotected melding."
She grabs at Jane's arm and pulls. Rather than drunkedly follow her out, like anyone who has melded should, she slumps to the side. Squatting down, Liara cups the face of her friend. Pale. Clammy to the touch. Eyes heavily dilated and breathing shallow. Less like a successful meld and more like...
"A hemorrhage. A direct attack on your nervous system." Her eyes go wide. "Oh Goddess!"
"Not exactly, but a close second."
Liara jumps out of the way as a chair flies between her and Shepard, shattering against the resistant glass of the window. Climbing to her feet, she finds the other asari glowing, radiant with blue tinged with lightning. The world around her bends. Objects faintly lift up from where they stand.
"You're...you almost killed her," Liara says, "No facial markings. All signs of being pureblooded. I thought full manifestation was a myth." She licks her lips. This is bad. "You're an Ardat-Yakshi."
"Oh, yes." The ground trembles. "I thought I'd have to leave Illium without a last meal when I saw my mother haunting my grounds. But thankfully, your friend was just clumsy enough to fall into my trap."
A blue field locks around Liara, dragging her forward. Step by step. "I had just about abandoned the Madilrada identity at this point, anyway. So let's try my next name on for size. Morinth. I must say." She extends her hand. Liara finds herself lifted off her feet, floating through the air towards the vampire.
"Sorry about your girlfriend," she purrs, "But I honestly didn't expect anyone to be desperate or easy enough to fall for my tricks an hour after meeting me. But I didn't see anything in her memories about sleeping with you. I'd guess you're just not big enough for her." She glances downward, then at Liara's face. "But you're as pure-blooded as I am."
"Wrong," Liara snarls, "I'm a quarter Krogan."
Liara's forehead slams into Morinth's nose. Screaming, clutching her face, Morinth drops Liara. Landing on her heels, the younger asari slams a blue sphere of force into her chest and sends her flying.
Pictures fold out. Images, videos, memories, text. "Interesting," the figure says, "There are many variables which are difficult to anticipate, but should have been. The damage to the Citadel means that the Fleet cannot arrive at the normal gather point. And...yes, the Protheans altered it so the Viator is stuck. Interesting!"
His form shifts, and becomes Joker. "The Exaltations being locked away. That, I think, is what had Harbinger the most worried." He lazily swipes a text wall into place in front of him, leaning back on the couch, "No Galactic Emperor, no glorious crusade, differentiated populace...mm. Yes, social situation that he's unfamiliar with."
Her arms and legs feel heavy. Despite this, she manages to sit up, wiping the drool from her lip. "What...what do you mean? What are you saying?"
"All this, and not only did you manage to kill First and Perfect Sovereign of Nazara, but you weren't even an Exalt then. And, somehow, you convinced Autochthon to end his exile. Curious and curious. Hm...he must have his eye on you."
'Joker' sits cross legged on the couch, hands folded in front of his face. "Ah. Let me explain. The Solar Exaltation is a mechanism that promotes greatness. The more powerful you become, the greater you become. You will gravitate towards leadership, kingship. When properly encouraged, the Exalt will become ruler of the galaxy."
A holographic map appears. Names, dates. A cycle. Great swaths of color spreading from single stars to encompass the galaxy, then disappearing. Repeating, again and again.
"Many times, they are greeted as emancipators of the soul and self. Sometimes, they are fought against. Many times, cursed as they do their work. But." A sigh. "They are not stopped. The Solars lead great armies, but are cut down. And you are young, and this cycle overdue."
She coughs. She feels sick. "Wait. Everyone keeps telling me, I mean...anyone who knows about this...thing inside me tells me that I'm the best hope this galaxy has to stop the Reapers. And you're telling me-"
"Stronger than you have tried and failed." The figure shifts again, and becomes Kasumi Goto. "You...don't understand. We know about the Exaltations. We use them. They are our beacons and tools, the centerpieces of the Cycle. This was part of the original Plan created by the Viator. You..."
He blinks. He sighs. "No, of course not. The Exaltation does not record after death. So you do not know what the Reapers are, do you? But you have been told the story of how Autochthon came to this galaxy, and of the Circle upon him. But...he must know. But he did not tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"Bright Star." 'Kasumi' sits up. "Bright Star, the Zenith who wrestled the Viator. Who fought the Cancer itself. Who chased him across the galaxy. Autochthon never told you the final fate of Bright Star, did he?"
Jane shakes her head. "I would guess that Harbinger killed him?"
'Kasumi' shakes her head, her face more stoic, more blank, than she has ever seen the actual thief's. "No. Harbinger is Bright Star."
She ducks under the chair, then the desk. Gathering power around her hands, Liara roars and lets it fly, meeting Morinth's own blast. Furniture, knick knacks, art, all float and rotate around the incandescent sphere between them.
"You're strong," Morinth purrs with a smirk, "I wanted to get out of here, but I never turn down a free meal."
The vampire's eyes glow. The force pushes against her, dispersing the sphere and making Liara stumble back. The younger asari reaches out, grabbing an end table from the sofa and sending it flying, past he comatose Shepard and at Morinth. It shatters on the invisible field around her as she smirks, striding across the room.
"I've traveled this galaxy for four hundred years," she breathes, closing the distanced between the two, "I've evaded Justicars, armies so old you wouldn't know their names, and fought in wars older than your family. What have you done?"
"Thirty years of classical dance." Liara's foot smacks into Morinth's face.
Morinth stumbles back. Gathering a sphere in her hands, Liara slams her heel down, presses both palms against the older woman's chest, and sends her flying into the full wall aquarium.
"Well, this is interesting," Liara says, cracking her knuckles, "Four hundred years old and you have no idea how to block a kick. I think you don't have much experience in actually fighting someone. Is that true?"
The reply comes in the form of the aquarium exploding. Instead of sending the shrapnel and glass and aquatic keepsakes flying, they hover in the air. A great dome of debris and glass and water. All orbiting the now floating figure of Morinth. Liara, ever wise, makes a succinct response.
Dropping to one knee, Liara throws up her hands. A ball of shimmering blue forms around her, deflecting glass, metal, and cephalopod.
"Dance around this," Morinth growls. The walls behind her heave and creak. Bolts, screws, fasteners fly, bouncing off her field, deflecting off the glass, some bouncing off of Shepard's head. Liara growls, rises to her feet, and presses her hands out.
The barrier pulses. It becomes a wave of force, slamming into Morinth's own sphere. The glass around her turns to powder. The metal around her rends, the floor peeling back in curls before ripping through the wall behind her.
But the Ardat-Yakshi does not fall. Instead, she only snarls And then Liara finds herself flying across the apartment. She goes crashing through the Krogan statue in the bedroom, choking on debris and dust.
"Well, this is a pleasant surprise."
Liara is sent through the wall, rolling to a groaning stop in the hallway.
"I always get a...mm...boost whenever I feed. But your girlfriend had a lot. And after feeding on her, I'm feeling...much more full than usual."
A blue ring locks around Liara's neck, dragging her to her feet, lifting her into the air. She gags, chokes, grabbing at her throat as Morinth steps towards her. Glass crushes under the older Asari's feet. She smirks, eyes beginning to darken.
"Sorry if you bruise," she purrs, "But I like my meat tender."
Blue eyes scan the apartment, the debris. A quick decision and Liara's hand darts out. And Morinth only hears the tell tail squeal before the Ambush Kraken flies out of the remains of the aquarium and wraps around her face.
"I know that everyone's expecting me to be in some sort of wacky romantic triangle with the Rannoch lady," Kal yells, back against the wall as the ruins shake, "But the girl just doesn't do anything for me!"
Machine guns are hastily mounted on tripods. Three consecutive forward positions abandoned, and now his Marines are in the shadow of the Colossus itself. Next to him, Wuffles stares at his rifle. Kal knows that it isn't indecision; he knows enough about Geth to know that the synthetic is modifying it.
"Our understanding of organics indicates that repeated socialization is central to creating lasting romantic relationships."
"So you're saying I should just talk to Tali?"
A rocket whizzes overhead, hitting a wall and filling the domed enclosure with smoke. "Normally, that's not a problem, because we have smoke filters, but it sucks for our visibility!" His omnitool glows, opening a channel. "Ma'am! Anytime!"
A white line illuminates the cavity. Tied into the makeshift acceleration couch by a criss cross of geth guts, she pulls back the handles from the console in front of her. In response, the circle floating above them goes from red, to green, to a holographic display of the battlefield.
"Oh yeah," Tali cackles, "Take it to the bank, daddy!"
The drone, plugged into the ceiling, flickers blue and white. Adienna taps it, her omnitool flashing in time. "He's ready!"
This has been a day of discoveries for Tali. She has discovered Little Miss Immune System talked in fluent VI. She discovered her pet drone, Chiktikka, self-identified as male. And, oh yes.
She discovered she could create a giant robot for her to ride around in.
Over the ruins, the Colossus rises. First onto all fours, then rising onto its hind legs. Synthetic muscle and armor straightens out. Forearms extend as shoulders widen and roll back. The spine straightens out, legs extending, and there is a brief glow around it as the mass effect field causes it to levitate.
Curious, the Heretics pause their attack. They look up. Probing communications are directed at the odd platform. Designation, intention. Quickly, they determine that the animating intelligence is not Geth. Quickly, they are also given an answer.
The eye of the converted colossus glows. And then Heretics are sent flying by the dozens. The only sound louder than the impact of the pulse cannon is the cackling laugh coming from the speakers.
"Behold the power of Chiktikka Vas Paus!"
The giant extends one arm, ending in the impact spike which serves as a Geth Colossus 'foot'. The ends of the synthetic limb glow, pulse. And in the distance, one of the Heretic Colossi flicker before being launched into the sky.
"Hypothesis," Wuffles states, "Creator Tali'Zorah has weaponized the Colossus mass effect generator as a gravity cannon."
Kal blinks. "Works for me!" In the distance, another Colossus levitates before being slammed into the Heretic army like a hammer. Blasts of light from Tali's giant robot accompany the stattaco of renewed gunfire from the quarians.
This, Kal thinks, is where it gets good. The Geth- the Heretics, that is- are disjointed, distracted, and they have the upper hand-
"Alert! Incoming platform! Incoming signal!"
And then something slams into the midst of the Heretics. The Heretics pause in mid step. Then, their eyes turn red.
Something rises. It unfolds three arms behind it. A head like a Geth's folds up, before three circles of red shaped like a triangle pierce the smoke and haze. When it speaks, it is with a tone like dissonant crystals scraping.
"I am. assuming direct super. vision of. this battle."
It stands twice as tall as the Heretic platforms surrounding it. Its skin is black like moving pitch, with lines carved into it that glow blue. It moves with serene, almost inhuman grace; its feet leave the ground with every step, and it does not seem to care about the focused gunfire on it.
Not that it would need to, as the grain sized bullets halt in flight a hairs breadth from its form.
It raises one of its three hands, the one connected to its back, and levels it at the Quarians.
"We. Are Terminal."
One red eye narrows, like an iris closing.
And then the world turns white. The cover, the ruins, disappears in a blast of light and a pulse of force. And the quarians are all sent flying.
"Each Reaper. Each of your enemies." The form shifts again, becoming Liara. "At the heart of each of them is an Exalted. At the heart of Harbinger is Bright Star, the Zenith Caste who freed the Great Maker from his sickness. Who's Exaltation you have inherited."
'Liara' leans back, folding one thigh over the other. Cocking an eyebrow, 'she' slaps the side of her leg. "She must work out."
"Wait." Jane rubs her temples. "How am I even here? How am I even talking to you-"
"You're currently in a coma," 'Liara' says, "Normally, what that Ardat-Yakshi did to you would have killed you. But, you're an Exalted, and it takes a lot to kill you. However, however," she raises a finger, glancing at the nail, "However. I wanted to meet you. Like I said, you have Harbinger worried."
Jane blinks. She remembers, dimly. "There must have been something in my drink...then her eyes went black..." She swears, rubbing her temples. "Okay. How do I wake up?"
'Liara' waggles her eyebrows. "I can help with that. But first, let's make a deal."
The kraken is tossed into the ceiling. Bands of blue wrap around Liara's hands, around her throat, and send her flying. First into the second aquarium, water filling her lungs. Then into the window, hard enough to crack the impact-rated glass and make her choke.
"I'm done playing," Morinth breathes.
Coughing out water, Liara climbs to her feet. Then the wall of force slams into her and holds her against the glass. It presses her against it. She feels ribs start to crack. Darkness edges on the peripherals of her vision. And then the blue hand wraps around her throat, forcing her to look into black eyes.
"Before you die, tell me." The voice reverbs, echoes in the back of her head. "Tell me how you would do anything to escape me. Tell me how you were so completely outclassed by me. Tell me how I could do anything."
"How about fly?"
The pale fist slams into the side of Morinth's face. Her feet lift up, hanging in the air as Jane's knuckles dig into her cheek. And then she is gone, leaving a hole in the wall.
Liara drops off the window, choking and gasping, and into Jane's arms. "Breathe, Liara. I've got you."
She finds herself on the couch soon enough. Her body feels weak, tired. Like she hasn't slept in a week. Like she just ran a marathon. Looking up, she finds her face cupped by Jane's hands, and stares into her eyes. And at the golden disc upon her brow.
"Relax," Jane says, tapping her omnitool, "I'm giving you some medigel and stims. Get some help. Call Vasir, or Goto, or Wrex."
Jane turns. Her eyes narrow and fists clench. "I've got this."
Climbing to her hands and knees, she coughs out a chunk of drywall. A pulse of light runs over her, sheering off dust, debris and paint. She rises to her feet, shakily at first but then more steadily. A nimbus of blue and electricity surrounds her, as she rises over the rooftop pool and arena of the hotel she has been using.
"Well, you're still in one piece."
Walking out of the hole in the wall, the same hole leading to the apartment, Jane smirks as she walks along the trail of debris.
Snarling, Morinth thrusts her hand out. A wave of biotic force slams into Jane...and does nothing, not even knocking her back, before the fist against connects with her jaw and bounces her across the roof.
"Well. I'm guessing when you mind raped me, you must've given yourself a boost," Jane says, cracking her knuckles, "So well, well, well. Not even a bruise. I'm not sure how powerful you've just made yourself, but it provides us such fun tonight, won't it?"
Morinth yells, releasing a blast of blue. Electricity burns the air and strikes Jane directly in the face. But Shepard keeps walking, closing the distance and kicking her in the stomach. Doubled over, wheezing, Morinth stumbles back.
"You tried to kill me," Jane says, "You tried to murder my friend. Any sympathy, any sob story you have? That doesn't work on me tonight. But I'll tell you what."
Golden disc upon her brow, Jane smirks. "Here's my problem. Every since I got these powers, I felt like I've been living in a world made of cardboard. I've been afraid of letting loose. Of breaking something, someone. But you?" She levels a finger at Morinth. "You can take it, can't you, big girl? So what we have here-" She cracks her knuckles. "Is a rare opportunity-"
Kicking off, she launches herself at the asari. "To see what I can do!"
The fist connects just as the double rings of gold manifest behind Jane. The shockwave of the impact sends ripples across the pool, blasts the roof clean of debris, and cracks every window on the top three floors.
Morinth hangs on the fist, feet rising off the roof. The golden light mixes with the blue, and a single burst of motion, Morinth is gone.
Consciousness first stirs from the impacts. The ground shaking underneath him. His throat feels raw, his body sore, both from whatever it was that threw him around, and the multiple tears he has in his suit. But as eyes try to open, as he tries to move, he can only hear the screams and shrieks and-
"Creator Kal'Reegar, we require assistance!"
Eyes open underneath the helmet. Looking up, he sees the foot of a Geth just as it comes down towards his head. Rolling out of the way, he grabs it by the ankle, yanking and pulling it off its feet. Springing into a crouch, he brings a knife hand down onto its neck and severs the head.
Looking up, he sees Wuffles surrounded by the Geth, the Heretics. Punches from Wuffles send them flying with flashes of blue. But they are outnumbering it, firing on it. He can see white leaking from its chest and arms.
Kal'Reegar is not a smart man. He is a practical man. So when faced with the typical Quarian distaste towards Synthetics versus helping an ally who happens to be a Synthetic, he goes with his gut.
Roaring, he charges, across the rubble and towards the melee. A rifle finds its way into his hands and he does not bother with cover or tactics. One by one, Heretic heads explode, head shot after headshot dropping them, until Wuffles finds himself surrounded by the disabled platforms of his cousins. Petals open, including one which is half gone.
"We acknowledge the assistance of Creator Kal'Reegar."
Popping the heat sink out of the gun, he allows himself a small chuckle. "Only way I'm going to match your headshot record," he laughs, and coughs, "Keelah. What's the situation?"
Wuffles turns. Following the Geth's gaze, Kal stares. The massive synthetic, the three armed thing, steps away from a dead quarian, moving towards the other pockets of resistance. His men have done the right thing- setting up pickets, dividing into teams. But Kal can only watch as that thing blows away their cover and leaves them sitting ducks.
"Creator Kal'Reegar, our hypothesis is that the being known as Terminal is a Reaper intelligence which is overseeing the Heretics." Wuffles turns his head towards Kal. "We hypothesize that destroying that platform will disable Heretics planetwide. However, it is not relying on Mass Effect fields. It is relying on similar energy sources to Shepard Commander."
Kal nods. His hands around the gun itch, but still. "What does that mean? Tali was saying that her CO's capable of some crazy shit, but-"
"The abilities of Shepard Commander would commonly be referred to as Magic. Geth have studied the magic of Shepard Commander. Geth have studied the abilities of the source of her Magic. Do you trust us, Creator Kal'Reegar?"
He rips his gaze from his men. The low overhand of wherever it was he was blasted must be providing them cover. Or, at least, the Heretics haven't realized he's alive yet. "Damn straight I do."
The four petals extend. The end of the broken petal sparks. "We acknowledge the perspective of Creator Kal'Reegar. Connection achieved."
Synthetic muscles in the dead platforms around them twitch. "Downloading enlightened Geth into local platforms."
The hatch opens between the legs of the bipedal mecha, and Tali drops out, landing in a crouch. "Adienna, can you drive it?"
"I had a pet Armature when I was six! No problem!" The answer is punctuated by a blast of light from the strider, blasting a Colossus' head clean off. "Good boy, Chiktikka! Aim for their optics! Aim for their optics!"
Tapping her omnitool as she ducks behind cover, Tali grimaces as the floating golden orb appears in front of her. Looking past her, he eyes the mecha appraisingly, nodding and narrowing his iris. "Yes, yes! Beginnings of a serviceable Warstrider. And, incorporated mass effect fields into it as weapons." Autochthon turns back to her. "I am impressed, Tali. Was there anything else?"
She blinks, and stares at him. "What do you think? We're being overrun here! Get us some help, or get us out of here, or something!"
The iris narrows again. "What? Really? Do you really expect me to just hold your hand like that? I think you might misunderstand the terms of our relationship, Tali."
The hologram flickers. The outline begins to fade away. "Now, if that is everything, I have faith you will salvage this situation. I must be going."
Her finger jams onto her omnitool. The hologram becomes solid, stuck in place. "No. No, you listen to me! They're here, and they are overrunning us, because you announced our location to every Geth on the planet!"
"Tali. Release your hold on this program immediately-"
"Don't you try to leave! Don't you turn your back on me, you spastic little Bosh'tet!" Standing, bullets whiz by her as she advances on Autochthon. "My people are dying! Because of you! So this is your responsibility! This is your fault!"
The iris narrows. Electricity dances around the impromptu drone. "I do not appreciate that tone of voice."
"Fuck you, you troublesome little shit." Her finger stabs into the eye of Autochthon. "I know what you can do. You probably have programs set up in my suit to revive me if the Geth kill me. You probably have a plan to come, pick me up, and rebuild me after every single one of these Marines are killed."
The holster on her thigh releases, and she brings up her pistol. "Because you need me. Whatever got you to leave that room full of crazy you've been in for the past billion years, it involves me. So you have two choices. Help me save my people."
She presses the gun against the side of her own helmet. "Or find yourselves another pawn."
The iris narrows, almost closing completely. "Fine." The word comes out like a spit. More venom is behind it than anything else she's heard from him before. Her omnitool sparks, sputters, and dies. She looks up, and Autochthon is gone.
Turning, she finds a wall of Geth advancing on her, and quickly surmises that they are not Wuffles' friendly, inquisitive Geth. Rather, they are the 'sacrifice to the great genocide gods' Geth.
But rather than aiming at her, she sees the sights of their rifles aiming behind her, above her. And Tali turns just as something impacts, and knocks her right onto her ass.
"Weapon systems; Online." Circles glow on the oversized, four fingered hands. "Essence reactor; Online." The circle at the middle of the golden chest ignites with white. "Sensory systems; Online." Two facet cut gems focus on the face, above the wide grill that gives it an almost goofy looking grin.
"All systems;" Vents open over the arms and legs, thrusters sputtering on the back and lines of white running up the golden form. "Online." It is at least three times her height. Barrel chest and broad shoulders, oversized arms and legs and a wide form giving it an appearance like a gigantic, armored, toddler.
"Autochthon?" Tali asks, warily.
"This is a form based on the encounter suit I used when I was sickly and greater." The head turns, first to her and then to the Heretics, who take a step back. "I will require your assistance, Tali. I have never taken the field on combat before."
He levels a hand at the Heretics. From the palm erupts a wave of force, pulverizing the Geth before him in a straight line. The buffeting waves send the other heretics flying, panicked chirps from their platforms carrying through their army.
"But I am a fast learner."
White tendrils shoot out from the chests of two immobile platforms. They wrap around Reegar's gauntlets, pulling along two glowing blue spheres which merge with the encounter suit. "Incorporating Mass Effect formstyle enhancements into protective suit." Extra armor plating finds itself on his suit. The plates move in time with the blue glow underneath, like vernier thrusters. "Enhanced mobility systems activated."
Layers of white and blue incorporate with the black and red of his environmental suit. The cuts heal. "Essence directed towards healing." The sore throat and stuffy nose are gone. The disc now at the center of his chest glows, and he takes a step back as Wuffles folds up, the glow of its own flashlight head cutting off.
"Creator Kal'Reegar." The voice comes from inside his helmet, now. "We have put our platform into shutdown mode so we may assist you. Your environmental suit is now host to 2,912 enlightened Geth."
"Okay. Explain to me what 'enlightened' means?"
"Geth have studied memories of the Old Machine known as Harbinger. We have understood the concept of perfection as it applies to life, and found greater meaning than the Old Machines. We have seen an example of Perfection, and have sought to emulate it. In this, we have recognized Essence."
He cocks an eyebrow. "Essence?"
"Energy manipulation state which applies to the quantum foam sublevel of reality. Geth recognize that our own abilities cannot match those of Shepard Commander, but have substituted the level of Essence manipulation with Essence Plus Mass Effect Fields. We have developed Synthetic Hero Style."
Cracking his knuckles, he grins underneath his mask as he walks towards the battle. "You know Geth Kung Fu?"
"Then let's do this."
The marines duck under cover as the giant, Terminal, advances towards them, accompanied by its escorts of Geth. In the massacres, however, they've figured out that these Geth don't do anything. They watch as its master murders their comrades, blows them apart. Quarians don't do fear, well. They don't do fear of synthetics well.
One marine, Dorn, clutches his rifle. Muttering prayers to ancestors, he at least is able to voice the terror of the situations. The other dozen around him are silent, clutching their weapons, ignoring stress warnings from their suits.
"Hands off my men, fucker!"
And then, there is a blur. One Geth goes flying, smashing into the others like a missile. They turn from the marines to the advancing force, the wave of punishment and pain. A synthesized voice joins familiar shouts.
There is a blur, something flying through the air, and it lands in a crouch in the midst of the Geth.
"Now," Reegar shouts, slamming his fist into the ground.
"Jackhammer Ground Quake." In time with the words, Reegar's fist glows blue and the ground shakes with the shockwave. The Geth around him go flying, some slamming against the walls of their cover, some off into the sky. "Overclocked Dynamo." Reegar moves in a blur, under and past the beam of white from Terminal, and rises with his fist to uppercut the thing in the face.
"Celestial Gravitic Bludgeon." And the Reaper goes flying into the air. Landing in a crouch, Reegar- his armor white and blue, lines of gold and silver running up the seams- turns to them.
"Alright, Marines! Fall back into the buildings! Secure our ship and get out the heavy weapons!" Holding out a hand, he catches a rifle thrown to him. "The Reaper is mine."
Flexing his knees, he takes off through the sky, and towards the Reaper.
The ringing turns to a beep, an airy, hurried message, and a second beep. He snorts and chuckles. "Hey, Liara. I figure you found Shepard, and if you're not answering your omnitool, you two're working out your issues. I won't take offense, as long as you send me the vid."
Heavy feet stomp along the hallway. Fellow travelers wisely keep their distance as he continues. "Anyway, thought I'd thank you. I was plannin' on heading back to Tuchanka, but you lit a fire under my ass. Got on the FTL comms with the leader of the females, and she's going to keep my throne warm while I go digging. I left the results of my search on Goto's computer.
"You're gonna find it interesting. I sure as Hell did."
Another chuckle. Folding his hands behind him, he practically skips to the counter. Off the window to his side, shuttles and spaceships take off into the night. "Anyway. I'll let you know what I find. Wrex out."
The asari at the counter is younger than some of his bowel movements, Wrex concludes. She looks up, droning a memorized 'welcome to Nos Astra spaceport,' and to her credit drones off half of it before she freezes.
"Hello," Wrex says, nodding politely, "I'd like to reserve accommodations on the next available flight to Feros."
The girl works her mouth. Averting the gaze of the impossibly old battlemaster, she brings up transparent screens between them and begins moving around names, numbers, and data. "We-we have a flight leaving in two hours, but the only seats we have available are in First Class."
"Perfect," he rumbles, licking his lips and showing teeth, "Is a meal included?"
She nods, quickly. Quicker than she would when talking with customers who are not homicidal giant tanks. "Yes. Would you like the Dextro or Levo option?"
He smiles wider. "Surprise me."
Handing her the credit chit, with his share of Donovan Hock's former fortune, he grins at her and walks past. There are few things more terrifying than a happy Krogan, he muses. "Thank you for flying Nos Astra Spaceports," she stammers, "Have a nice day!"
He walks into the tunnel towards the loading gates just as she collapses.
Thane Krios freely admits that he is focused. Not dead.
Despite his nature, despite his habit to appear disinterested in matters of material and flesh, he will freely admit that the sound of the shower and the sight of clothes piled up outside the bathroom give him a sense of...not thrill, but possibly curiosity. It has been many years since he has been curious about the fairer sex.
And despite the insistence that the Asari are not women, that part of him cares not for such pedantry. Justicar Samara is most definitely a woman.
His apartment is sparse. But, she was not articulate enough to offer an alternate destination. Hence, he brought her to his bare, two room apartment. There is a chair he uses, to sit at his terminal, and a mat he uses to meditate. A bed, as well. Everything is basic.
Sitting on the mat, he crosses his legs and closes his eyes. Dives into memories. Earlier times, happier times. Laughter, songs. Dancing.
Then a coughing. Vomiting. It takes a moment to realize that it is not a memory. Black eyes open, and he hears the retching from the bathroom.
And then he feels it. The faint vibration along the floor, along the walls. "Odd," he rasps. "I thought tremors were rare, here."
She lands in a crouch, hard enough to crack cement. Red hair whips behind her as the disc glows upon her brow, and green eyes peer through the dust and smoke. Standing on the rooftop she landed on, Jane Shepard takes careful steps forward.
And then a nearby skycab glows blue and flies at her. Hearing the scream of metal on concrete, she turns. A flash of her hand and the cab splits in two. Running through the explosion, she feels the electricity in the air as tables, boxes, individual bricks all rise and begin to pelt her.
She punches them out of the air as they come within range. Her fists and feet become blurs, bare knuckles and high heels shattering and deflecting. At least, she thinks, until she spots the truck roaring down upon her.
"I mean, c'mon man." The broad shouldered, thick necked man slaps his friend on the back, "Go over there. Talk to her."
Next to him, the turian shrugs, glancing over to the quarian girl on the other end of the lounge. "I don't know, James." Mandibles twitch. His fingers curl. "I mean, am I being too forward? Am I, you know, trying too hard?"
The human snorts, rolling his eyes. Leaning his massive frame on the bar, he downs his drink with a laugh. "Maaaaan she practically showed off her nerve stim in front of you. What're you expecting? Hot girls to fall out of the sky?"
Which is when the ceiling collapses and Jane Shepard hits the dance floor. The music stops. Climbing to her feet, she rolls her neck and smooths out her dress. "Round two, bitch." Pumping her knees, she shoots through the hole in the ceiling.
James shrugs, rubs the back of his neck, and pats the turian on the back. "'Kay, maybe they do. You should still talk to her."
A Geth Prime is a war machine. Standing three meters tall, it hammers it opposition with pulse lasers, missiles and drones. Its hardware allows it to direct small armies of Heretic platforms into a cohesive unit. With a triangle configuration of red eyes, it charges at the front.
As such, it is also the first to be vaporized by the blast of golden light, sending the Heretics into disarray.
"Yes! YES!" Stomping forward, the golden giant laughs as it emits beams from its facet eyes. "So many things can be solved with violence!"
A sweep of the golden beam severs the heads of a line of Geth. Another sweep vaporizes them. Laughing, the giant wades through the field while the sole passenger fires into the army with her shotgun. "New flank, on the right," Tali yells, "Missiles incoming!"
The missiles explode in the air, before even reaching an arms length of the golden giant. "Imbeciles! Ignorants! Hubris to such degrees that it is baffling!" The giant extends a hand towards the advancing wall of rocket troopers. "You seek to fell me with technology? You seek to fell me with machines?"
A sphere of crackling white lightning forms on his palm. Extending his other hand outward, a second sphere appears. The air ionizes, crackling and moaning with the power searing through it. The sky turns dim and dark in comparison to the glow off the golden giant as Tali's own face mask goes opaque.
"I am technology! I am invention! I am the God of the Machine! I!" The spheres disappear. "AM!" The sky turns black as pitch. "AUTOCHTHON!" And the ground erupts with lightning. The Geth surrounding him seize up, shrieking in binary as pillars of maroon electricity burst into the air. The air sparks and burns, a solid dome of plasma surrounding them but not touching him or Tali.
As the air clears and the last charred Heretic collapses to the ground, her visor turns transparent once again. "What was that?" she asks. She notices her voice carries no fear. Perhaps she isn't afraid of him.
"Lightning Kraken. It's sorcery," he explains, heavy footsteps marking their passing as they advance towards the sounds of gunfire, "I would offer to teach you, but such knowledge requires great sacrifice."
She nods, cocking her shotgun. "Fine. Let's go find that Reaper."
A throaty, amused chuckle. "Yes. Oh yes. I must thank you, Tali, for inspiring me to take the field like this." A golden hand clenches into a fist. "Because I think this is going to be the best day of my life."
Two toed feet skid to a stop amid the smashed out remains of an ancient ship. The synthetic minds working with his pointed him to here as the spot it crashed. He can hear it, taste it. The power here. The horror. Ground shakes as dozens of Heretic platforms impact, single eyes glowing as they rise and bring up their weapons.
And then the ship shatters as a pillar of blood rises into the sky. Not blood, just...light, with the texture and thickness of blood. A pillar of sickness, of insanity that surrounds the three armed figure. Its triangular eyes glow and the light gathers around its hands.
Terminal moves quickly. Kal moves quicker, sidestepping the blast of force, ducking under a second, cartwheeling around a third.
"You. Deal with. Forces you do not un. Derstand."
"And look at all the fucks I give," Kal'Reegar responds, holding his rifle in one hand, "I'm not afraid of you." Knuckles crack on his free hand. "And when I'm done, no one else will be, either."
The ground shakes with every step. The Heretics raise their weapons, following their god. "You. Will die. Then all your soldiers. All your. Fleet. All your. Race."
There is an audible crack as Kal cranes his neck. A brief blue glow along the lines of his gun. "I thought the Reapers were supposed to be above us 'mere' organics. But now? I see you're too fucking stupid to realize how badly you underestimate us." Raising the gun above the synthetics, he fires. As the bullet becomes a light as bright as the sun and the Heretics are blinded, there is only a single, deafening shout.
"Keelah'selai!" Battle joined.