Mass Effect; Chronicles of a Soldier
Back From the Dead
My standard form of writing applies.
" " - Spoken
' ' - Thoughts, usually in italics, as well.
( ) - Commentary. I'm a smartass. You should know what goes here. My smartass commentary. Usually funny, always interesting. Details and explanations, or my personal opinions, unfiltered.
Italics- Usually things of importence. Flashbacks and certain things are in italics to seperate them from the rest of the story.
Bold!- Things like this are things that just stand out. Usually pretty badass, or just really scary.
Underlined words are oddball parts; anything that stands out, but doesn't fall into the two above categories.
Things in this font are sometimes Author commentary, or truly profound statements.
Those things just below this line, are seperators. They seperate different sections. Simple, yes?
"Never let a good crisis go to waste." -Winston Churchill.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't support anyone who would shamelessly stand on the still-warm bodies of the fallen and preach their agenda to all the world, taking advantage of the simple fact that the dead can't speak for themselves.
#24 Ghost Ship, My Ass
And now back to your irregularly scheduled program
"If I die in here, I'm haunting you, Shepard." Well, at least Jack sounds about as anti-melodramatic as usual.
Our Commander rolled her eyes, trying not to smirk. "Yeah, yeah. C'mon, let's grab that IFF and disable the core so we can get the hell out of here. Blade?"
"Moving." I hit the haptic controls of the nearby hatch, entering a small airlock connecting section.
Oy, not-Cortana! Start up that active scanning, map-rending-type deal, we're gonna need any kind of advantage we can get. Prioritize scans for movement in the walls and any surviving members of the crew.
"That's a no-go. There's some kinda radiation that's screwing with the armor's scanning equipment, can't even count on the motion tracker outside of three inches. EMS, thermal and infrared are also acting all kinds of fucky, so you're gonna hafta rely on your eyes and earballs."
Oh, that is just fucking wonderful. And quit acting like Rachel, even she got to be annoying after awhile.
"Sorry babe, but I'm a package deal. So you can just suck it dry, bitch!"
I am so going to cross some wires when we get back to the ship. Gonna turn your virtual ass into actual dust, ya fucking peanut gallery sumbitch.
And with that, I shook my head, hitting the button on the second airlock-door-hatch thingamajig. What awaited us on the other side...
Was something straight out of HP Lovecraft's nightmares. What the doc said in his recording did this place no justice; it looked like something you'd see in a science-fiction horror movie directed by George Romero himself. I can't even describe how otherworldy and organic it was, steel and tubing everywhere with some kind of mist or something hanging about, limiting our visibility. It really reminded me of a video game I once played, called Dead Space.
Well hey, look on the bright side. At least I don't have to fucking dismember everything that I come across.
I stepped forward, scanning left and right, high and low for targets. There were more bodies on the floor in front of us, same as the one we'd first encountered; bulletholes and blood, but no skin, and it almost seemed like it had been dried out. Like a mummy of some sort.
But anyway. We stood on some kind of scaffolding, looked like a Cerberus construct.(It was the same kind of metal we saw in the last few rooms, instead of the dark, jagged metal of the ship itself) I hadn't gotten three feet in when I felt a chill run down my back.
I spun around on instinct, muscle memory taking over. The knife left my hand before my mind even comprehended the threat.
Clinging to the wall straight above the hatch we'd come through was a husk, its eerie blue lights just starting to activate when the steel entered its skull. The thing dropped like a bucket of concrete in boiling water, hitting the floor just in front of Shepard's feet. She blinked twice, staring down at the creepy dead bastard.
Heh, definitely has that old Romero feel. We've even got the damned space-zombies.
"Tch, and you say I've got an annoying sense of humor?"
Ignoring the voice in my head, I was about to retrieve my weapon when our Commander plucked my knife from the dead husk and tossed it to me with the words, "Nice. Is that rifle just for show, then?"
Everyone's a fucking critic. Ya shoot the enemy, they give you shit. Ya stab the enemy, they give you shit. Ya stomp the enemy, they still give you shit. And when ya fuckin' explode the enemy? You guessed it, they give you shit! What the hell? Can't win for losing with these people.
Shaking my head once more, I re-sheathed and turned back around, glancing left to a dead end of the scaffolding before turning right. This place was really starting to give me the creeps, and I haven't even been here an hour. My gut was telling me to turn back, to claw my way out of this ship before it swallowed us whole.
Hmph. The last time I felt like this was just before walking straight into an ambush, snipers and crossfire. If not for the advanced warning, I'd probably be dead.
"We all would've. Now keep your head in the game, these people are your responsibility."
"Right. Eyes high! Let's move, people."
Glancing to the right side of my rifle, I ejected another clip from my rifle, looking left and right for any remaining husks. "Forward area clear." I still find myself unconsciously rolling the rifle over to check for malfunction when it clicks dry, the habits pounded into my skull through countless repetitions alive and well, living on as forced muscle memory. Guess you just can't overcome training. I really miss having a decent foregrip, through.
Or at the very least, an underbarrel grenade launcher. Ba-DOOM, baby.
Anywho. "For now, anyway." Miranda said, almost to herself as she toed over a husk with three large holes in its back.
She put another bullet in its head, just to be sure.
As the others reloaded and rearmed, Shepard called, "Everyone good? Let's move. Blade, point."
With a nod, I started up the steep ramp ahead of us, marching further into the belly of the beast. When the floor levelled out, we were roughly fifteen or twenty feet higher than before, and at the end of the scaffolding. Ahead of us was a dead end, but there was an opening on the left. I couldn't see past the alien machinery, but I was sure there was nothing but danger before us.
Just as we come upon the turn, I feel a chill run down the back of my neck, a twinge in the muscles along my spine.
"SNIPER! GET COVER!" I dive towards the nearest hard point, curling into a ball and rolling with the impact, finally coming to a stop on one knee, looking over my shoulder for the others. They were in similar poses,(Far less badass, though) hunkering down behind cover.
Setting my M8 on the floor, I reach back, taking hold of Sasha, pulling the hefty anti-material rifle from my back. It fully unfolds in mere seconds, and when it does, I check the chamber; loaded. Shifting forward, I quickly glance around the corner and pull back; area clear, nothing in sight. "VI, anything on the motion sensor?"
"Negativo. Tracker's still busted, chief. Ditto for alterred visual spectrum."
Thank you. Now, back to the matter at hand, I curl an arm under the front end of the handguard, setting the stock to my shoulder as I angle the muzzle around the corner, linking my suit's HUD to the scope with a thought. The window that popped up was a bit fuzzy, but it showed the forward area to be clear of hostiles.
For now, anyway. The interface was cut with yet another unconscious thought as I slapped the rifle to my back and grabbed my Avenger, getting to my feet as I shouted the others. "Move up by twos, cover to cover!"
"Moving! Heads down!" Shepard called back, sprinting from her position to the nearest pylon that looked solid enough to stop bullets. She was accompanied by Jack, both of them tear-assing up the area.
The moment they were in that sniper's blind spot, I fully rounded my corner, yelling to the other two as I scanned the horizon with my rifle. "Covering, move up!"
Mordin and Miranda both tore ass towards Shepard's position, practically diving behind cover when they got close enough. I glanced back towards the Drell, waving him on as I stood and began my advance.
This might take awhile.
"What the fuck was that all about?" Jack asked, thoroughly confused. And when she gets confused, she gets angry. Very angry.
"So that Geth was the sniper. Strange. I thought Geth didn't speak..." Thane muttered to himself, also confused.
Shepard was still on the floor blinking,(My fault, really. The floor part, not the dumbass blinkery) taken aback. "It- It spoke. That Geth actually talked."
Mordin was similarly stunned, open-mouthed. "And it knew who you are, Shepard-Commander. Mosty unusual."
Heh, guarantee that's gonna become a thing. Shepard-Commander, heheh.
Oddly enough, Miranda had nothing to say, for once. That's a first.
Er, anywho. Right after we walked through that hatch, we'd taken no more than five or six steps when I felt a chill run down my back and I tackled my Commander to the ground, just before a pair of gunshots range out. Next thing I knew, there were a couple of dead husks on the floor right behind us, and there was a single Geth unit standing on a catwalk some ways ahead of us, holding a rifle. Then it just waltz away, calm as can be.(Though I suppose a machien can't be anything but composed)
Somehow I doubt it intended to hit us and 'accidentally' scored perfect brain-box shots on those husks. Weird, man.
After pulling herself together, Shepard hopped up and started off, all the while looking like she was knee-deep in thought with her head in the clouds. Great, guarantee that's gonna bite me in the ass.
Yes, me. 'Cuz who else gets hurt whenever she or someone else screws up?
Bah, I'd better be getting full coverage for this gig. Or at least 80% and dental if they're cheap, 'cuz I've been getting all kinds of fucked-up over the past three weeks. Hell, I joined the US Marines Corps and spent more than three years in before I got my first hit, and it was just a scratch. I spend less than a month with Shepard and I've been blown up more than once, thrown around like a ragdoll, shot dozens of times, stabbed with my own goddamn knife,(Though it was my fault) burnt extra-crispy, treated like a bloody puppet on some G-Man's shoestring, and even fucking killed on multiple occasions! Fuck!
I'm charging triple hazard pay, minimum. Probably gonna add in something along the lines of half a million just for 'miscellaneous' expenses. Like my retirement.
Moving along, there was something strange about this room. It was different than the others, including the one filled with what Shepard called Dragons' Teeth, the spikes used to create husks. I have no fuckign clue as to how the hell those things work, but whatever. Magical space zombies play by their own rules.
But anyway, this room had some kind of dim red ambient light instead of blue, and it was decidedly creepier. My scope's retical adjusted itself accordingly, now a distinct green hue similar to that of tritium.
Wait. I think I feel a song coming on...
[Cue Music: Down Through the Ages, by All That Remains]
Oh, fuck the hell YES!
Ah-hem! We started moving forward and down a ramp, when there was a deep rumbling beneath our feet, and more importantly, just behind us!
As I was on-point, when we all turned to see what our newest problem was, we were greeted by the sight of several dozen husks, most blue with maybe a quarter of them the red exploding type,(Abominations, they're called) all crawling down the walls and up from over the edges of the floor, and even out of the floor itself.
"HEL-LO, DEAD PEOPLE!" Jack shouted, like some kind of psychotic retard.
Wait, she is a psychotic retard.
But Shepard, standing there with a sardonic expression under her helmet, calmly and simply said, "Oookay, then. And now for my next impression... The FRENCH!" Upon saying that, she spun back around and dashed past me, running as fast as her feet would carry her.
Fuckit, I turned and started after her, having to really haul ass just to catch up to her, the others close behind me. I'd just jumped down that ramp, rounding the massive tanks that sat below it, nearing running into my Commander as she fought through a dozen husks and a scion, using her rifle, knees and elbows in a graceful, violent perversion of ballet. They didn't stand a chance, but I've always favored overwhelming odds.
Thinking Krogan-like thoughts, I doubled-over and held my M8 braced against my hip, holding the tirgger as I charged through into the group of cybernetic freaks,(Huh. I think that makes me a hypocrite, don't it?) bowling them over like a bunch of- Well, bowling pins.
As the four or five I'd knocked over hit the deck, squashed beneath my heavy boots, I heard Shepard shouting, "STRIKE!"
Oh-ho, she's got a sense of humor, alright. But within a quarter-second of those husks falling over, I rammed right into the scion, knocking its massive arm-like cannon wide.
Uh-oh, that's not good. Glancing back, I saw Shepard was flat on her ass, lying on top of a small pile of husk corpses. Her armor was coated in some kind of blackish-blue gunk, with vapor fumes rising off of it.
"Yeah, that don't look good."
No shit, smartass. I dashed over to her, shouting, "MAN DOWN, MAN DOWN! COVER!"
Sliding to a stop on my knees, I immediately started checking my Commander for injuries, making sure she wasn't hurt too badly.
"Ma, mommy...? Can I jus' ha' fie more meenuts..." Shepard muttered, sounding more than a little out of it, her eyes rolling. Yeah, she was out cold. Pulse checked out fine, breathign's normal, scans show her vitals to be within acceptable parameters. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing she wasn't hurt too bad.
But goddamn, this is going to be annoying.
"How long?!" Thane called, backing up towards me, firing at the approaching husks with her sidearm. Why the hell she doesn't carry a rifle, I'll never know. Miranda was just behind him, Mordin and Jack moving closer to watch my own back.
"She's down for the count, we need to move! Miranda!" The Cerberus Cheerleader, as Jack oh-so-eloquently calls her, turned to me as I tossed her my M8, hefting Shepard up and onto my shoulder.
"I'll be home in time for Christmas, ma..." My Commander said to herself, still out of it.
Back on the Normandy
"Dear Lord... His heartrocket is skyrating!" Chakwas exclaimed to herself, nearly spilling coffee all over the console she was reading from.
The Marine's BPM was well over 300, even above the normal threshold for someone of his size and physical fitness. Blood pressure was through the roof, temperature over 44 degrees!(Around 112 Fahrenheit) And he was still moving, still fighting?!
This was- This was outright insane. How could he even move like that without keeling over? How does he keep going without his body literally tearing itself apart?
"Wait." The Doctor blinked, an errant thought crossing her mind. She'd personally seen the damage his heart had done to itself. Like this, it doesn't seem to be causing injury. Not yet.
So this must be his 'normal' level of physical strain in combat, but he can go further, much further. And in doing so...
It must be those 'blackouts' that cause such damage, particularly the ones where he can still consciously push himself past his limits. But the physical damage that causes will eventually kill him outright, it's probably shortened his lifespan already...
'Something else to look into,' She thought, sifting through the readouts, comparing it to the biometrics data she'd previously collected from the twenty-first century warfighter.
Back with Shepard and co
"Gah! This is turning out to be one HELL of a ghost ship!" Jack shouted, throwing up yet another ship-quaking show of biotic strength at the pursuing husks.
I still had Shepard on my shoulders, running just behind Miranda as we ran through the 'dead' Reaper, trying to get to the drive core.
But I was having a hard time concentrating on anything, what with the loud, arrogant asshat rattling around in my skull.
"Ya left! Ya left! Ya left-right, ley-eft!" Rachel sang, the familiar tone and beat of the cadence we both used to march to when we were in the Corps.
"Oh, no. No! NO!"
She didn't miss a beat. "Low-right, Ley-eft. A lefty-right-low!"
"Goddamnit, quit that!"
That bitch finally switched it up, picking the one cadence that'd been drilled into our skulls from our first day of basic, all the way to the end of our careers. "C-One-Thirty rollin' down the strip! Recon doggies gonna take a little trip!"
"Oh, for fuck's sake!" It was fucking annoying.
"I stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door! I jump right out and shout, MARINE CORPS!"
I couldn't help but call the next line. It was just a force of habit, at this point in my life. "I count to four and pull the cord! Damnit Rachel, I will fucking murder you!"
At the sound of my voice, Miranda glanced back at me with a thoroughly confused look on her face. "What the hell are you shouting?! Hey!"
But I couldn't hear anything over the sound of my idiot partner's singsong voice. "If my chute don't open wide, then I got a re-serve by my side!"
Ah, fuck it. "And if my reserve don't blossom rou-ound!"
"Then I'll be the first one to hit-the-ground! Sing it with me, now!"
"Oh, I'm gonna kill you for this later... BO-diddly, BO-diddly, have you heard!"
"I'm gonna jump from a big iron bird!"
"Up in the mornin', in the pourin' rain! Gonna pack my chute and board the plane!"
"C-One-Thirty rollin' down the strip!"
Second verse, same as the first. "C-One-thirty rollin' down the strip, Recon daddy's gonna take a little trip!"
"I stand up, buckle up, shuffle to the door! Jump right out and count to four!"
"And if that main don't open wide, I've got a re-serve by my side!"
At the sound of my voice,(Possibly because it was right next to her ear) Shepard, only half-conscious, muttered, "And if that one should fail me too... Look out ground, I'm-a comin' through..."
Ha-ha, she knows that one too! Shouldn't be surprising, as she's an infantry Marine. Even if she's from over a century in the future. "But should I die on the old drop zone! Well box me up, an' ship me home!"
"Soldier, soldier, have you heard!"
Interrupting my irritating little internal Drill Instructor was Miranda, who shouted, "Through that hatch!"
Ahead of us, and on the other side of a dozen husks, was another of those large, round airlock hatches. Racking the slide of my M6 against my armor, I set the front sight, already tugging the trigger.
Right after shutting the airlock behind us, the Cerberus bitch turned and gave me a particularly nasty glare. "What the fuck were you yelling about, back there?" Miranda demanded, still holding my rifle.
But just before I could open my mouth, "Old military running cadence," Shepard answered for me, stirring on my shoulders. "You can put me down, now."
Ah, perfect timing. How convenient. I set my Commander down as gently as I could, practically doubling over so she could get her boots on the floor. She sucked in a breath as she stretched a bit, wincing as she rubbed a hand over her sore midrift. "Agh, owch. Next time you carry me, take off that Widow. Feels like I got sucker-punched by a Krogan. The hell hit me, anyway?"
Uh-oh. Oops. "Sorry. Think it was a scion."
Shepard shook her head ruefully, pulling her rifle and checking it over.(Of course I put it in its proer place. Ain't much more important to a Marine than her rifle) As she did that, I retook my own from Miranda, taking the opportunity to reload.
"I believe this is the IFF we are looking for." I heard Mordin state, picking up a small, inconspicuous-looking circuitboard-like object. I didn't get a good look at it, but it was small enough to fit in his three-fingered hand.
"You think so? How's it look?" Our Commander asked, instantly moving to closer inspect said object. I busied myself reloading my M6 and pulling Sasha from my back, checking her chamber.
Good to go. Today I'll get to really find out how well the auto-ejector works in combat.
"Seems simple enough. Need to run stress test, test compatibility, that sort of thing. Still, am... Concerned over the missing crew." The scientist's voice betrayed how disturbed he was, by either the lack of bodies or confirmation of their fate. Tell you the truth, I wasn't too happy about it, either. But I figured the were all dead from the moment we stepped through and saw that first body.
Jack and Thane shared a look before the bald bitch shook her head. "Probably dead before we got here, that or we just finished killing 'em ourselves."
The assassin concurred with her assessment. "That seems likely. It's difficult to tell which fate is worse; being killed by former friends and coworkers, or being driven insane through indoctrination."
"Either way, we need to get moving. Those things are bound to be converging on our position," Miranda pointed out, glancing back towards the airlock we'd just come through.
As if on cue, there was an ominous noise coming from the other side, like heavy metal banging and clanging against metal.
"Well, that sounded bad. I think we should go, like right the fuck now."
You don't have to tell me twice.
I moved over to the airlock across the room, dropping to a knee and looking over the haptic/holographic control screen. It was locked, of course. Guess we'll need to either hack the console or pull off the panel and splice into the wiring...
While I sat there stoking the chin of my helmet in thought, I didn't even notice someone moving closr until Shepard was standing right next to me, saying, "Locked, huh? Alright, stand back. I've got the codes."
Getting to my feet, I stood well back as my Commander cracker her kneck and knuckles, shaking out her hands before she looked straight at the controls and said, "Shepard."
The hatch opened without complaint
I stood there blinking like a dumbstruck idiot. That door had a keypad, not a mic for voice recognition. How the hell did she-?
"I still don't know how the hell she does that," Miranda muttered, shaking her head, orange locks swishing with the movement. "It's not even voice-activated."
Shepard turned to look back at us with a grin. "It just knows better."
But anywho, when we finally stopped staring at the beau- Er, at Shepard, we took notice of what was going on in the engine room. There was a thick plate glass wall between us and it, just past the hatch, but inside was that Geth sniper, working a console.
Behind it was more than a dozen husks, all intent on turning that robot into spare parts.
Huh. "So, anyone else interested in meeting a talking Geth?" The Spectre asked, readying her rifle.
I took that as my cue and moved up to that plate glass, or whatever they call it in the future. I rapped my plated knuckles against it, figuring it was at least two inches thick. "Hmph. Stand back."
As four of those five persons scrambled back and out of my way,(All except Shepard, who stood just a few feet away with a smirk) I adjusted my stance, set Sasha on my back and placed the knuckes of my left hand against the glass.
That Geth was still working, having glanced back at us before one-handedly taking a few pot shots at the husks that converged on it. It didn't have much time, as there were far too many of those things in there to deal with without a proper weapon.
As my vision started greying out, I took a deep breath and pulled my right arm back, muscles clenched tight, feeling the artificial muscle fibers of the undersuit going to work expanding, hardening.
My visor highlighted my target, the weakest point in the glass, right where one of those blue lines ran across its surface. But in the upper center of my HUD, just below the shield meter, appeared a small line of text.
Muscle Output at 40%
And with that, I delivered a cross that even Mike Tyson could never match, throwing my shoulder into it as I followed through, stepping right into it.
The sound of the glass shattering was completely overshadowed by something far funnier. "HULK SMASH!" Rachel cackled, her rolling lilt of a laugh reminding me of the last time I'd heard her say that, back when I snapped an enemy Type 88 over my knee before beating the shit out of its own with the two pieces.
...I had a lot of unresolved anger as a kid.
Er, anywho. After crashing my way through, diving and rolling with the momentum to keep from getting a glass shower, I plucked Sasha from my back, bringing her up and around just in time to see that Geth get knocked the fuck out.
"K-O! The Geth is down for the count before he could tag in his partner! Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Looks like the husk brothers brought their friends, their family and even their ugly dog! It's looking to be a real slobber-knocker here tonight, folks! This is going to be one HELL of a match!"
"Yes, really! Ohh, look out now, here they come! Give 'em the chair!"
How 'bout I give 'em a round of lead, instead?
"Yeah, but that's nowhere near as dramatic."
I couldn't help but groan. "Ah, whatever." And with that, I started shooting, joining Shepard and co as we began clearing the area of these damnedable husks.
Didn't take long. Maybe a few minutes? I'm not sure, but I only needed a few rounds, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Probably because we had a full squad of trained badasses.
Regardless, after the room was clear and we were all figuring out how to best deconstruct the massive mass effect core in front of us, I called, "Hey, Shepard."
"Yeah-huh?" She called back.
"Y'know what happens to an element zero core when you hit it with high explosives?" I ask, reachign back into my pack for those C12 parcels.
My Commander grinned form ear-to-ear."Heh, of course! The same thing that happens to everything else!"
And the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air once again, only to feel my back connect with something solid, my consciousness flickering with the impact as boiling-hot blood forces its way up my throat and into my mouth, just before I fall forward, landing hard on the metal grating.
For just a moment, everything went dark...
"Hey. You okay?" I ask, ducking down another alley between buildings, hopping over a pair of corpses.
The girl nodded shakily, still trembling in my arms.
Damn. I need to distract her, keep he rmind off of what's happening. "What's your name?"
"S-Sarah. Um... What's yours?"
I smiled, though she couldn't see it. "I don't have one anymore, but everyone calls me Blade. Hang on tight, okay? We've got a long ways to go." I just hope we get to the comm station before 03 catches up to us. I definitely can't fight him while protecting her at the same time.
Blinking back the strange yet familiar vision, all I could feel was the white-hot, liquid metal agony that pooled in my chest, head and back, sparks prancing to and fro in front of my eyes like the embers of a dying flame.
It was all too familiar; my vision darkening, heart racing, the blood pounding in my ears. 'Ugh... Why do I always volunteer to do such stupid shit...?'
I get my shakey arms under me, numb limbs forcing my body upward, my head tilting to look.
Rachel stood in front of me; her face smudged with dirt and gunpowder, dressed in full battle rattle with M110 slung over her shoulder, offering her hand. "C'mon, Wolf. You've done enough for today."
I blink, and when my eyes open, I see it's Shepard standing there, waiting for me to take her hand. "You alright?"
Taking it, I push myself to my feet and answer, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Let's get back to the ship, Commander."
Sorry this took so long, no real excuse other than sheer laziness. No smartass commentary for today.
I'm tired of the lies. I'm tired of the veiled statist bullshit. And I'm sick of being told to shut up and accept the chains being draped upon my shoulders.
Too goddamn tired.
References include, but are not limited to: Mass Effect 1, Archer, Dead Space, Bulletstorm, the It Sucks to be Weegie and 8-Bit Theatre webcomics, TFS DBZ Abridged, Team Fortress 2, Section10's Ghost in the Shell Abridged, Gantz Abridged, Gears of War, The Incredible Hulk, and probably a few more that I missed.