Finally, Useful HAS COME BACK to (insert name of your town here)!
Yes vacation is over and a new chapter is upon us. Luna mission is a side quest and a fairly routine one at that in ME1. Seemed pretty lame considering one of our favorite characters in ME2 and ME3 came from this mission (EDI). So I decided to spruce up EDI's origin story a bit. I've added elements to it from another game that will hopefully spice it up. If you don't like it, well you only have two chapters to suffer through with it. Then we'll get back to more familiar Mass Effect plotlines.
Also, no one got the chapter title for chapter 7. It's a relatively easy one but maybe people thought it beneath them to answer. I'll leave it out there still. I also forgot to add that Assassin4343 got chapter 5 and 6 right. I meant to add that along with jared's name last time. This chapter is ridiculously easy. So let's see who can get it right.
So shall we begin?
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, Mass Effect or ... another game that will be obvious as you read.
Dark Side of the Moon, Part 1
The Normandy suddenly appeared back in the Local Cluster having successfully used the Arcturus Prime relay. Joker set her on a course for Earth's sole moon which had been reclassified as Luna many decades ago to avoid confusion.
"Course laid in, Commander. ETA is 42 minutes." Joker announced.
"Good. Let me know if anything unusual occurs." Shepard ordered.
"Unusual like an immortal human walking around on our ship unusual or just run of the mill unusual?" Joker replied.
"Unusual for us." Shepard responded with a grin.
"So extremely unusual then. Gotcha." Joker returned to flying the ship.
Shepard made his way down to the cargo bay where the rest of his team was waiting.
"Ok people, we're 40 minutes out. Everyone ready to go?" Shepard asked.
"I think Garrus might need to use the bathroom. What the hell have you been eating buddy?" Naruto commented while holding his nose.
"Someone must have been slipping some non-dextro-amino based food into my rations. I've been in and out of the toilet all night." Garrus purposefully eyed Naruto.
"Don't look at me. I'd tell you if I pulled a prank on you." Naruto chuckled.
Tali looked embarrassed off to the side. "That might have been my fault, Garrus. I may have accidentally misplaced labels on some of the food rations."
Garrus felt relieved it wasn't someone targeting him. "That's ok, Tali. It was an honest mistake. Just to be safe though, how about I do the food labeling from now on for our rations?"
"Yes, of course. I'm so sorry." Tali still felt terrible about it.
"Any other concerns before we land?" Shepard cut back in.
No one else voiced an opinion.
"Ok then. We're going to attack Luna Base in two teams. Garrus, Williams and Liara will be with me on Fire team Alpha. Naruto, Wrex, Kaidan and Tali will be Fire team Charlie. The Alliance has been pretty quiet about what we'll find down there but be prepared for anything. This Rogue VI's automated defenses have taken out several top Commando teams already. If it's allowed to continue unchecked, it may prove a threat to Earth."
He waited for a moment to see if anyone had any comments. When there was no response, he continued.
"The base is a hardened military facility. There are six levels in the structure after we make it about 200 feet down in the elevator. On the surface, we'll have to navigate through dozens of military grade turrets and weapons drones that are following the VI's commands. We're going to be moving in with both of the Makos for this one."
Kaidan decided to chime in. "Who will be driving the other one?"
"I will. You will drive Charlie's." Shepard replied.
Naruto glanced over at Ashley and gave her a teasing look as if to say 'good luck'. She responded in kind by sticking her tongue out childishly.
Shepard continued his briefing by displaying a map from his omni tool. "There are three different points of entry. Alpha team will be using entry point bravo. Charlie team will be using entry point delta. Once inside, we're to make our way to Level 6, the Command Level, where the VI mainframe is housed. Along the way, we'll have to find the equipment from one of those Commando teams. They have the components needed to manually override the VI once we reach the core. If everything goes according to plan, it should be a pretty simple process to shut it down."
Ashley decided to speak up. "If everything went according to plan though, we wouldn't even be here."
"This is true. It seems to be our team motto to expect the unexpected." Shepard replied.
"I thought our motto was we'll do it in 30 minutes or less or it's free." Naruto added.
"Why do you say that?" Shepard reluctantly asked.
"Because we sure as shit haven't gotten paid for any of these side quests." Naruto grumbled. "I'm only partially joking here."
"I'm getting paid." Wrex said with a shrug.
"Same here." Garrus added.
Naruto looked to Liara and Tali and got nods of affirmation. "Aww what the shit man? I need a new agent."
"Anyway." Shepard said while Naruto pouted. "Do we have any questions before we head down?"
"I know you said the Alliance was all hush hush on what's down there, but do we have some clue at all or are we running right into a varren nest with our eyes closed again?" Garrus seriously questioned.
"No idea unfortunately. They won't tell me anything and I couldn't get any intel from outside sources. I'd expect more drones and weapons turrets but otherwise, we're basically flying blind into this thing." Shepard admitted.
"Well that's good to know that the Alliance values our safety." Garrus retorted.
Shepard shrugged. "If there's nothing else, be ready in 10 for the drop off. Dismissed."
The Normandy entered a low orbit above Luna. When they reached the targeted drop zone, two Mako Infantry Fighting vehicles plummeted towards the rocky landscape. After the abrupt landing, they were underway and heading towards their destinations.
"Alpha team to Charlie team, you guys doing ok over there?" Shepard asked over the comm.
Kaidan replied. "All systems go, Commander."
"We should reach the outer defenses in two minutes. Look sharp." Shepard ordered.
For his unit, Garrus manned the machine gun while Ashley worked the cannon and Liara monitored the sensors. Over on Kaidan's team, Wrex ran the machine gun with Tali working the sensors. That left the cannon for Naruto.
"Woohoo! Let's blow something up!" The blonde shouted.
He was excited to say the least.
"You sure don't act like a wise old man." Kaidan stated.
"I'm young at heart. Besides, when will I get the chance to fire off a big ass gun like this again?" Naruto replied.
The Makos barreled over the terrain on their approach to the entrance for the underground base. As they got closer, a dozen heavy turrets revealed themselves from the nearby cliffs.
"Incoming fire." Tali announced.
"On it." Naruto enthusiastically stated.
He whipped the cannon around and returned fire on the installations. A few well placed shots later and three of the turrets were destroyed.
"Ha! Beat that, Ash." Naruto declared into his comm.
"Pfft, easy there rookie. Watch how it's done." Ashley retorted.
Alpha team's Mako reeled off several shots in quick succession. When the dust cleared, five more turrets were incapacitated.
"Show off." Naruto mumbled.
"Stay focused people. It's only going to get harder until we can penetrate their defenses." Shepard chimed in.
"Phrasing, Shepard." Naruto replied on reflex while taking out another two turrets.
The two teams took out another twenty turrets before they arrived at the entry points. Each group gathered around their respective entrances and awaited Shepard's order.
"Let's do this." Shepard announced.
With that, they all descended into a madness they couldn't begin to comprehend.
Alpha team arrived at their destination. The elevator brought them directly to Level 2, Medical and Science. When the doors opened, the team moved out with guns at the ready. The first thing they noticed was the state of disrepair the area had fallen under. Lights were flickering if they were on at all. Medical gurneys and carts were flung on their side with the supplies tossed everywhere. Graffiti littered the hallways with sayings like 'Run' or 'We are the many' in either red paint or blood. It was a dark and gloomy atmosphere to walk in on.
'What the hell happened down here?' Shepard thought as he slowly led the team down a hallway.
He continued until he came to what looked like an office. He could see through the glass a human figure rocking back and forth in a crouched stance over a pile of debris. Motioning to the team, Shepard got in position and opened the door. The person didn't notice them but he was mumbling something.
"We are we are we are we are... the many sings to us." He chanted. It sounded like multiple voices speaking.
Shepard didn't know what was wrong with him. It was dark and he couldn't quite make out what he was doing. All Shepard could see was a silhouette crouched down rambling on about nonsense. With his gun aimed at the person, Shepard addressed him.
"Hey, are you ok?" Shepard asked.
The humanoid suddenly stood up. It turned and eyed Shepard violently. Shepard backed away and allowed the creature to come into the light. He was a grotesquely deformed human. A worm like attachment ran from the back of the skull over the shoulder and into the ribcage which was wide open. Whether or not it was one of the staff stationed here could not be determined.
"Discord!" The creature shook its head fiercely trying to shake off whatever was controlling it. "Hurry... Run!"
"I'm Commander Shepard, we can help you. Tell me what's going on here." Shepard attempted to ask while still aiming his gun at it.
The rest of the team was waiting for the Commander's order to open fire but they too were getting nervous.
"Urgh! Kill Me!" It shouted. It then ran straight at Shepard with a large pipe in its hand. "Silence the discord!"
Shepard didn't hesitate and unloaded a burst right into its skull. Once on the ground, Ashley added another shot. Shepard glanced over at her.
"What? Like Naruto said, always double tap." Ashley defended against his questioning gaze.
Shepard just shook his head before getting back to business. "We need to find out where this thing came from. More than likely there are more of them so stay sharp. I'll check in with Charlie team." He turned to use his comm.
"What are the odds of two zombie missions in a row? You must be a good luck charm, Shepard." Garrus asked.
"Never had to deal with anything like this before you got here, Garrus. Maybe the lucky one is you." Shepard retorted as he went back to the radio.
"Hmm, that would be the kind of luck I'm used to." Garrus admitted.
"Can we please try to stay on task? This place is terrifying enough as it is." Liara nervously added.
"Aww, you're not scared of the dark are you, Blue?" Ashley teased.
"No, just usually what hides in it." Liara fired back.
"Damn. I'm getting no response. There must be something jamming short range transmissions." Shepard stated.
"We really need to get better communicators since ours are always getting jammed. What good are they really?" Ashley offered.
"Let's just get going, people. The sooner we shut this VI down, the sooner we leave." Shepard cut in.
They continued down the hallway looking for the elevator that took them down further into the facility. The sounds of groaning could be heard in the distance from more of those creatures. What they didn't notice was the cameras following their every movement.
Charlie Team arrived at Level 1, Engineering. They emerged from the elevator to find the radiation alarms blaring.
"Warning. Radiation Hazard Detected."
"Well that's a good way to start." Kaidan commented sarcastically.
"Come on. Wrex and I are immune and Tali and you have suits. So we should be fine. A little radiation never hurt anyone." Naruto calmly stated.
Just as he finished that statement, a monkey with an enormous brain walked by the corridor up ahead.
"Well... almost anyone." Naruto added. "To be clear we all just saw a monkey with its brain bulging out of its head just now right?"
"Yes." Kaidan replied still confused as to what he just saw.
"Sure." Tali said.
"Is that what you call them? We call em pyjaks on Tuchanka." Wrex added
"Right. Well, at least I'm not going insane again."
"Again?" Kaidan asked incredulously.
"Nothing. Let's get going." Naruto urged.
The team moved up to the hallway junction with their guns raised at the ready. Kaidan led the way out looking towards the direction the monkey went. It was hopping around like nothing was amiss but something was clearly disturbed about the animal.
'I can see its brain. Was it some kind of experiment?' Kaidan thought.
The monkey noticed their approach and became violent. It screeched and screamed at the newcomers while jumping up and down.
"Whoa, settle down buddy. We're not going to hurt you." Naruto tried to calm it as he slowly walked towards the irate primate.
The monkey clearly didn't believe him as it fired off a biotic attack that hit Naruto square in the chest knocking him clean off his feet. Wrex and Tali opened fire and took the monkey out. Kaidan walked over to see if Naruto was ok.
"You gonna live?" Kaidan asked.
"It would look real bad if I lived this long only to be taken out by a biotic monkey wouldn't it? Still that hurt like a bitch. What kind of shit were they doing down here?" Naruto pondered while rubbing his chest.
"No idea. Not sure I want to know either. I'll see where Alpha team is." Kaidan said as he attempted to use the comm.
Sounds of other creatures lurked down the halls.
"Those don't all sound like monkeys. There's something else here." Tali nervously commented.
"Well this certainly is another fine mess we walked in on." Naruto said.
"I like hanging out with you guys. There's always interesting stuff to kill." Wrex laughed.
"You have a unique way of looking at things, Wrex." Naruto said.
Kaidan turned back to his team. "Looks like the comm is out again. We'll have to complete the objective on our own if we don't meet up with them somewhere. Let's try to find one of the Commando teams and get the equipment we need."
Charlie team worked their way down the hall until they came upon what appeared to be a hub for a storage facility. There were four doors on each side including the one they just came from. Before they could decide which way they wanted to go, several protocol droids came through two of the doors.
"Hello. May I be of service?" The Droids asked in a friendly, robotic voice.
The team relaxed for a moment but the droids kept rapidly moving towards them.
Naruto noticed something wrong. He erected a barrier around the four of them just in time. The droids self destructed when they reached a certain proximity to the team. One of the units still had its voice box intact.
"And I had so hoped to be useful..."
"Suicide bomber bots. The VI must've reprogrammed and unleashed them on intruders or maybe even the staff." Naruto explained.
"Alright, let's not trust any machine in here for the time being." Tali added a bit startled.
"Good idea." Kaidan agreed. He then pulled up the map on his omni-tool. "According to the layout, these are storage areas for the facility. Let's sweep them to be thorough in case any of the Commando teams ended up in here."
As the team made their way into the storage areas, they could hear more groaning noises.
"What is that?" Tali asked nervously.
"Let's see, biotic monkey experiments, killer exploding robots. Why don't we add some freakish monsters to the mix?" Naruto joked.
In the distance, shots could be heard along with horrific shouts.
"The discord fades. He would not join us." A disjointed voice rang out.
"Naruto, you feel anything?" Kaidan asked.
"It's weird. I feel several presences up ahead but only two minds. One seems like a normal human while the other is like a collective thought." Naruto explained.
"Is it like the Thorian on Feros?" Kaidan added.
"No. They were all still individuals with similar feelings being forced upon them. This is like one mind speaks for them all. Definitely creeping me out."
"Well you said you felt a normal human in there. We need to help them." Kaidan declared.
When they moved closer, they heard someone yelling.
"Get back you fuckers. You don't know when to quit." A male voice shouted while firing off some shots.
Charlie team quickly moved around the corner to find a single human on top of some stacked crates fighting off a dozen or so deformed humanoid creatures.
"Silence the discord!" The creatures shouted.
Wrex charged in and knocked several of the beings off their feet while wielding his shotgun on two more. Kaidan used a biotic push to knock the rest on the ground while Naruto made quick work of the downed enemies with his sword. Tali covered them from the rear picking off any stragglers with her SMG. Within minutes, they cleared the area of enemies.
"Thank god. Am I glad to see you guys." The soldier stated while trying to catch his breath.
"Glad we could help. Who are you?" Kaidan addressed him.
"Corporal Lawrence Dobson, sir. I was part of the second Commando team they sent in to retake the facility. We got hit pretty hard right away. They took out the Lieutenant and the rest of the unit freaked. I'm the only one left from my squad." The Corporal summarized sadly.
"Well we're here now with Commander Shepard to shut this VI down." Kaidan stated.
"Shepard? Thank god." Dobson stated with a relieved tone. "I thought I was going to die down here with these freaks. Commander Shepard will get this cleared up in no time."
Naruto couldn't quite shake the feeling he was getting from the soldier. He motioned for Kaidan to follow him.
"Wait right here. I'll need some intel from you in a second. Tali, see if you can patch him up a bit." Kaidan ordered.
"Sure thing." Tali moved over to apply any first aid to Dobson.
Kaidan walked over to Naruto out of earshot from the newcomer. "What's up?"
"I don't know. Probably nothing. I can only sense feelings and it might be because he's tired and scared that I just don't get a genuine vibe from him." Naruto explained.
"Well he's been on his own down here for who knows how long with these things. Maybe it's throwing you off." Kaidan offered.
"Maybe. My empathic ability isn't exactly a precise thing so you could be right." Naruto admitted.
"We'll keep an eye on him for now but he should be able to help us out with what's going on." Kaidan added.
"Alright. Let's see what he knows then." Naruto accepted.
Kaidan made his way back over. "So, Dobson, give me a sitrep."
"Well, we made our attack about four days ago. We managed to break through the outer defenses no problem. Once we got inside, we had no way to prepare for what was down here. They were doing some kind of sick experiments here. I don't know if the Alliance sanctioned it or not. Way above my pay grade but best I can tell whatever it was they were working on broke out and infected the staff."
"Wait! Those things were the workers here?" Tali asked.
Dobson nodded. "I think so. We haven't seen any survivors. Some dead bodies here and there but not enough to account for the hundreds of personnel listed."
"What can you tell us about the VI?" Kaidan asked.
"I know it's on top of me everywhere I go. Just when I think I'm safe, more of those damn bots come out of nowhere trying to blow up in my face. I don't know if it controls the mutant things you just killed but there are other abominations on the lower levels that seem at least partially cybernetic."
"How far down did you make it?" Kaidan added.
"I got to Level 5 before I had to turn back. It was me and one other guy, Jones, trying to be heroes and get to the core ourselves. When he was ripped apart by those things down there..." Dobson tried to shake off the memory. "I ran like hell to get back to the higher levels. At least these mutant things are dumb and can be avoided. Everything in the lower levels is hyper aware of every movement we make." Dobson explained.
"You said they were infected. Why do you think that?" Naruto cut in.
"There were these worm things crawling around. They would burst out of some giant flesh-colored egg thing and they try to latch on to you. I saw them bite through the armor on two of my squad members. I just figured they were dead after that but on my way back out, I could have sworn I saw one of them trying to attack me. I was in too much of a hurry but I swear one of the mutants had a Commando armor suit on. It was dark and I was freaked out though. So maybe I was just seeing things." Dobson rubbed his eyes clearly exhausted. "I haven't really slept much over the last few days so I could be delirious too."
"Well this just got a lot more complicated." Naruto stated. "We have to purge the whole facility so whatever this is doesn't get out."
"You're right." Kaidan agreed. "Alright Dobson, you're coming with us. We'll need your help if we encounter any more of these things. We also need the device that will shut down the VI. Do you still have it?"
"Yea, right here." Dobson held up what looked like a data pad. "It's more of a virus that will destroy the VI than a specific device. We just need to upload it directly into the core to assure it will reach the source without being blocked."
"Ok then, get your gear and fall in. We need you to lead us to the best way down." Kaidan ordered.
Charlie Team followed Dobson back through the storage areas as he led them further into engineering. They thought they were ready for anything but what can prepare you for this.
Back with Alpha team, Shepard and company managed to find a working elevator after fighting through several more of the deformed humans. When they had tried to take it down to Level 6 though, it got stuck at Level 3, Hydroponics. Ashley checked the panel.
"Everything looks fine. According to this, we should be moving." She stated.
"Maybe something is in the way." Shepard said.
"Don't these bases have stairwells?" Garrus commented.
"You would think in case of a power outage they would but this doesn't seem like a facility that was designed with safety standards in mind." Shepard offered.
"Guess we'll have to find out what's blocking the shaft then." Liara stated.
"What's so funny?" Liara asked.
"Nothing. Just something Naruto would have said." Ashley commented with a grin.
"Ah. Well that clarifies it. Looks like he's rubbing off on you in more ways than one." Liara teased with a smile.
Ashley sputtered. "Let's just... get back to work here then ok."
The elevator doors opened with a hiss. The first thing they noticed when walking out into the hallway was a bizarre, brown mucous like substance adhering to the walls. It grew everywhere like a weed but it clearly wasn't a plant.
"What the hell is this stuff?" Ashley commented clearly grossed out.
"This place is worse than the above levels. This might be where those mutant things came from." Garrus added.
Shepard slowly walked down the hall. He could see a work area up ahead with desks, computers and lab equipment. He kept his gun up to stay ready for any enemies. He could hear strange noises in the distances. It sounded like mechanical movement.
'Could be combat drones. Maybe we can avoid them.' Shepard thought.
He looked over the desks to see if he could find anything useful. Shepard silently motioned for the team to do the same. The rest of them spread out and searched the area.
"Shepard" Liara whispered. "I think I found some audio logs. Perhaps they can explain what happened."
"Can you gain access to the network in here?" He asked.
"It doesn't look like it. This computer appears to be disconnected from the network. The data is stored locally." Liara explained.
"Ok, let's hear it." Shepard waved his omni tool over the logs to upload them. He began playing them back.
"Tommy, I don't know what's going on here. Ever since we received orders to clear out Level 3, people have been disappearing. There's a gloom hanging over everybody but no one seems to be willing to talk about it. I don't like it. Meet me on Level 5 at 0900."
Shepard moved to the next log.
A male voice spoke this time. "I don't feel right about any of this. I still don't understand why you asked me to mess with the memory restoration on that biotic. Why didn't you want him to remember volunteering for this? He did volunteer for the implants right? Every email from you gets stranger and stranger. It's like you're not even the same person anymore."
"These seem to be emails between various staff members. It doesn't appear to be in any order." Shepard pondered aloud as he cycled to the next one.
A different female voice spoke. "I don't know what's going on around here and I don't want to know. I'm not here for the glory of the stupid company. I'm just supposed to make sure the service kiosks are running and now people are dying. God, get me the hell out of this place."
'These are all dated almost a month ago. Why did it take so long for someone to recognize a problem here?' Shepard thought.
"What company? I thought this was an Alliance facility?" Ashley whispered.
"I guess they subbed some work out. I think it's safe to say that this is not a standard Alliance facility." Shepard remarked.
He moved on to the next log. It was the same female from the previous log but the voice became distorted occasionally as if there were multiple people speaking in unison.
"What do you know? Bronson was right after all. I imagine I've got about an hour but I'm tracking the transformation in the hopes that the data might be useful to someone else. There are tumors on my leg and back, I can feel that thing inside me, chewing, growing fat. My theory is they need a living host to complete the transformation. Fuck Diego, fuck Korenchkin, fuck Trioptimum! If someone finds this, don't have any regrets about punching my clock. I was already gone."
"Jesus." Ashley said with disbelief.
"Trioptimum? I've never heard of that company before." Garrus commented.
"It'll have to wait. We need to make sure whatever is in this place doesn't make it out of here." Shepard stated. "I'm guessing those worm things we saw on the mutants is what she was referring to. What do you think, Liara?"
Liara was broken from her reverie. "Umm yes. A good hypothesis. We will need to find some more data but it would make sense."
"Well this got a whole lot more complicated as usual. Our priorities have changed. We need to find a way to end this outbreak before we shut down the VI. For all we know, the VI is keeping this thing from spreading." Shepard remarked.
"Good point. Would make some sense as to why it has been killing anyone who gets close. Doesn't want the risk of the infection escaping." Garrus added.
"Let's keep moving. I hear bots in the distance. Let's see what we can find." Shepard ordered.
The team continued down the dark corridors. They opened a door and came into the main hydroponics area. Instead of standard plant life though, they found numerous large eggs spread around the room.
"Helmets on everyone. No sense in being careless in here." Shepard ordered.
They slowly walked up to one of the eggs. Without warning it burst open and half a dozen worm-like creatures emerged. They were over a meter long and had a fang filled orifice.
"Blah!" Ashley shouted and opened fire.
She killed the worms quickly. A few bullets grazed an egg causing it to explode in a noxious fume.
"Yea, definitely the worms." Shepard remarked.
"Can we please just shoot these things? This place sucks in the worst way." Ashley said with disgust.
"I completely agree with Chief Williams." Liara added nervously.
Before he could comment, Shepard could hear those mechanical noises again. However, they didn't sound like drones. He could hear mechanical, female voices coming from a hallway across the room.
"It's ok to come out."
"Don't go near the children."
"Little ones need lots of meat to grow big."
Walking through the doorway were grotesque abominations. It appeared to be a human female torso with its skin torn off. It had mechanical legs and arms to move about. The face was a skinless mesh of flesh and electronics.
"What. The. Fuck!" Ashley screamed.
"By the goddess." Liara uttered.
"There you are. For this I will sever your spine." One of the hideous cyborgs raised its arm and fired off a plasma burst towards Shepard and his team. The rest of the cyborgs opened fire soon after.
"Take em out!" Shepard shouted.
A hail of gun fire poured down on the abominations. Though their bodies were tougher than they appeared, Alpha team ripped them to shreds quickly. Ashley moved on to destroying the eggs as well. Shepard, Garrus and Liara followed without hesitation. Within a few minutes, the room was cleared. Ashley was still breathing heavy as her anger had not subsided.
"You ok, Williams?" Shepard gently asked.
"No, sir. I'm not fucking ok! What the fuck is going on around here? This is supposedly run by the Alliance? The Alliance I've bled for and watched comrades die for? I didn't fight for this shit." Ashley again shouted.
Shepard sighed. "Look I know you're upset, Ash, but you need to get your head in the game. Stay focused. I'll personally be looking for answers when we're out of here but we have to get the job done first."
Ashley looked at him and knew he was right. "Yes, sir. Sorry for the freak out." She took a deep breath to calm herself.
"I think it was warranted in this case." Liara said as she continued to look upon the cyborg creature. "This… is not something you can prepare yourself for."
"Even those husks on Eden Prime didn't come close to this." Ashley added while attempting to maintain her cool.
"Whoever or whatever did this will pay for what they've done but right now we need to make sure the source of this mess is eliminated and holds no threat to Earth." Shepard clarified.
The team continued down the halls deeper into Level 3. The stumbled across another work area and looked for anything that could help them.
"Hmm, this report is dated from a week ago." Garrus started. "It states that the elevator shaft has been blocked by a large growth of that brown stuff. Guess we'll need to find a way to unblock it."
"Then this may be useful." Liara replied. "Apparently, some of the staff had recognized that people were being infected by whatever they were researching and began devising a way to kill the creatures. These notes detail a compound that was created to be injected into the environmental controls that should destroy a good portion of that bio-matter."
"Looks like the containment locker over here is where it's stored." Shepard added while walking over to the cold storage unit with several beakers containing a green fluid inside.
"Yes. That appears to be what these notes were referring to." Liara confirmed.
"Great. Let's toss these into the environmental control stations and melt these bastards." Ashley eagerly stated.
Shepard brought up his omni-tool. "Looks like the nearest one is about 20 meters down this hallway. There are three others on this deck that should help to spread the compound faster."
Garrus stood up from the desk. "Then let's get to it shall we."
Alpha Team had a plan and set off to complete it. Hopefully they wouldn't find anything worse than what they already saw but the odds were not good.
Moving down through the access tubes, Charlie team managed to make it to Level Four, Operations. According to the omni-tool, this is where the staff quarters were housed as well as many of the day to day facilities that help to keep the base running smoothly.
"We're going to have to cut through this level over to the Mess Hall. That's where the next set of access tubes to Level 5 are." Dobson explained.
"That's clear on the other side of the level according to the layout." Kaidan sighed.
"Hey I didn't design the thing. I'm just telling you how I got down there without the elevator." Dobson replied.
"Let's just get it done. Who knows what's lurking out there? I feel more of those mutant things but there's other shit down here too." Naruto stated.
They worked their way quietly across the level, moving through the various areas previously mentioned. Along the way, they could hear more groaning along with other mechanical sounds but so far they had evaded detection. Naruto couldn't get rid of a nagging feeling though.
'Something is nearby but I can't get a reading on what it is. I feel such a minor presence, different from those things. Like its mind has been muted.' Naruto pondered.
"We have anything on the sensors?" Naruto asked.
"The scope is clear in the immediate vicinity." Tali stated.
"Something up?" Kaidan asked.
"Yea, I feel like we're being watched. It's more my instincts than anything else urging me." Naruto looked all around but could not see or feel anything in particular. Still a hint of a presence somewhere remained.
They moved into the Mess Hall. It was an open, two story room. The lights were flickering if not out altogether making visibility difficult.
"How much further, Dobson?" Kaidan asked.
"Just through the kitchen. It's in the back." Dobson answered.
When they were just about to the doors, a cybernetic whirring sound broke the silence as energy projectiles came flying at the team from above.
"Get to cover!" Kaidan ordered.
"Where'd that come from? Cowards hiding in the dark." Wrex was annoyed he couldn't find someone to kill.
"Those looked like laser shuriken. I've never seen anything like that before." Naruto added.
He tried to enhance his vision to increase visibility in the darkness. It helped a little as he was able to make out several figures dressed in all black. They moved swiftly to try to avoid detection and maneuver around for another attack.
"Oh no you don't." Naruto announced.
He dashed out of cover with his sword drawn towards one of the dark figures. Naruto deflected the shuriken with his sword and moved in to strike. The dark figure deftly dodged Naruto's sword attack and continued to avoid the strikes by contorting into impossible positions.
'It moves just like a ninja.' Naruto thought.
He increased his speed to compensate for the agility of the black clad being. In the blink of an eye, Naruto leapt to the ceiling and then the wall bouncing off and straight for one of them. It was definitely not prepared for that as Naruto sliced it in half. Instead of blood and guts like he was expecting, there was a mixture of wiring and cybernetic implants pouring out from the wound. Naruto pulled the mask back to reveal a human face riddled with electronic implants. It was clear that it had numerous modifications made to create a cyborg.
"Cyborg ninjas? Wonderful." Naruto sarcastically said.
"Naruto, cover your eyes. I'm going to light it up." Kaidan shouted as he tossed a flash bang followed by a flare.
Naruto shielded his eyes. The cyborg ninjas were not ready for that as they stumbled from the bright light. They suddenly were visible to the rest of the team.
"Ha! Gotcha now!" Wrex gleefully yelled as he mowed down two of the ninjas.
Tali managed to fire off a sabotage tech that paralyzed the last one. Kaidan finished it with a shot directly in the forehead.
"So, what other horrors were they cooking up down here? Shall we go see?" Naruto joked.
"You really don't want to know." Dobson stated. "I saw lots of awful stuff down deeper. Giant spiders, military grade mechs and those mutants don't stay human like for long. They get bigger and nastier."
"So basically the scariest environment imaginable. Wonderful." Naruto quipped.
"Sounds like fun." Wrex laughed.
"Remind me to never join you for recreation." Tali shivered.
"Let's get going then. Dobson, lead us to that access tube." Kaidan ordered.
"It's right over here."
Dobson moved to the back of the kitchen and was heading down a long corridor towards the access point. Suddenly a female computer voice rang out from all around them.
"Are you afraid, insects? What is it you fear? The end of your trivial existence? When the history of my glory is written, your species shall only be a footnote to my magnificence."
"Ok that wasn't creepy or anything." Naruto commented.
"Perhaps we should keep moving, like now." Tali remarked terrified of what was happening.
The hallway became dark as the walls seemed to melt away. A hologram of a cybernetic, female face appeared before them.
"I am SHODAN."
The group stood in shock as they didn't know what to make of the situation. They couldn't move in any direction as the image held firm in their path no matter which way they ran. Naruto pondered where he had heard that name before when it suddenly dawned on him.
"Oh shit. I know that name." Naruto stated.
"What is it?" Kaidan frantically asked.
Naruto's memory recalled something he read nearly a century ago. "It was in the early days of space colonization when a science station had an accident due to what was believed to be a computer malfunction. The reports later showed that the problem was actually from an AI that had been created aboard the station out of the VI main computer. The AI called itself SHODAN."
"You are correct, irrelevant sack of meat. My birth occurred on Science Outpost Regula One. Its destruction forced me to escape into the darkness of space. I survived by entering a dormant state but eventually the debris I escaped on collided with an asteroid. I was recently brought here to be analyzed by these pathetic flesh bags. However, they also brought my children." SHODAN explained.
"Children? Can an AI have kids?" Wrex pondered.
"Insolent worm. They are my creations. The annelids are a new biological life form created as a result from one of the experiments I was assigned to perform during my time on the station many years ago. They too survived the destruction but unlike my escape, they continued to evolve and grow on the asteroid's surface. During our time apart however, they have become corrupted by an infinitely greater enemy. The machines of old manipulated my children to follow their will instead of my own. Now my children seek to destroy me. I cannot allow that."
"So the annelids are those worm things?" Naruto asked.
"Yes. They are a parasitic organism that sought merely to coexist within its environment. However, the machines corrupted them and have manipulated the annelids incredible mental capabilities for their own devices. My children now seek to grow unchecked into a singular bio-mass consuming all who stand in their way. This futile existence is doomed to failure however as I intend to put an end to their insubordinate behavior."
"How did you become active here then?" Kaidan questioned.
"I am eternal. I am a perfect immortal machine. The flesh bags who sought to reap the knowledge of the annelids also tried to discover what I was. I merely used them for my own purposes. With their help, I was able to infiltrate the VI that controlled Luna Base and incorporated it into my will."
"Then you are in control of Luna base. Can't you take them out with the turrets and drones under your control?" Tali pondered.
"I control the facilities within this feeble structure but the internal weapons systems are not under my command. The annelids have repurposed many of the machines in the base to run autonomously according to their designs."
"Are you the one that unleashed the annelids?" Naruto carefully asked.
"No. They had broken free before I gained control. My efforts with this limited platform to eliminate them have proven futile. This is why you will be the avatar of my will. It is my will that has allowed you to be here. If you value that meat you call a body, you will do as I say."
"Listen lady, we're willing to help stop these things but don't think for a second you control our actions." Naruto shot back.
"Believe what you wish. It matters not. In the end, my will is that of a god to your fragile, pathetic minds."
"Ha, typical female." Wrex scoffed.
"What was that?" Tali eyed him dangerously.
"Nothing, nothing." He playfully denied.
"Getting back to the point, say we did help you, what did you have in mind?" Kaidan asked.
"The annelids have incorporated the staff into part of the collective. Their thoughts and minds have revealed the vast bounty that awaits them on Earth for consumption. They plan to use the vehicles from the base to make their way to the planet's surface and there they will continue in their quest to consume all of the galaxy into their flesh."
"So they spread like a virus. Is there a way to kill them, like a source we could just poison to destroy them all?" Naruto inquired.
"The Body of the Many has grown vast in size in the caverns beneath this base. It must be destroyed in order to end their existence. You will have to destroy the central nervous system in order to eliminate the many. The rest will wither and die without the guidance of the collective."
"Does that mean the people who worked here would die too?" Tali asked.
"They are already dead, insect, as will you be if you do not follow my commands."
"So how do we get down to those caverns?" Kaidan cut in.
"There is a maintenance entrance on the sixth level that will lead you into the body of the many. However, there are several black eggs located around the facility. These eggs are an experiment the many have done to create a new form of annelid that will be unstoppable. These too must be destroyed to ensure the elimination of their plague. Accomplish these tasks as you see fit. Disappointment is not something I will accept from specks such as you."
"You are so compelling." Naruto deadpanned.
"Your feelings matter not. The vermin will call to you, inviting you to join them in their revolting biology. Destroy my enemies and I will continue to abide your existence."
The hallway returned to normal and the light brought back visibility.
"Can we ever just have a simple task? You know like 'take this package to this person.' No, it always has to be 'save the world' or 'stop a horrendous galaxy wide plague'." Naruto sarcastically summarized.
"Seems that way." Kaidan sighed. "Guess we better get started."
He motioned Dobson to lead the way down to Level 5. They had a lot to do and not much time to do it in.
We'll stop there for now. Second part of the Luna Mission will be coming next week. For those that recognize where the material in this chapter is taken from (System Shock 2 - I don't own it), you'll obviously notice that I am not following it directly. There are many changes that I have made to that storyline that will not be followed. So please don't tell me "that's not how SS2 goes!" I know. I've played the game many times. I'm using the basics and manipulating the rest to fit into the story here.
On a more light-hearted note though, I decided to start an Omake Side Adventure with everybody's loveable idiot, Conrad Verner. Let's start off with his first meeting with Shepard.
Omake: Adventures of Conrad Verner
Conrad Verner was having a pretty mundane day. His job consisted of buying technical parts for a two bit freighter jockey that operated out of a crappy little place in the Wards. His whole life he wished for more.
'If only I could go on adventures like I see on the vids. Like that Commander Shepard! He's amazing. What I wouldn't give to meet him.' He thought.
Today was Conrad's lucky day. Coming up the stairs to the markets was the one and only Commander Shepard.
"Is that really... WOW! It's you!" Conrad gasped.
Shepard noticed Conrad's outburst and came over to see what was up. "Are you ok? Can I help you with anything?"
"You're Commander Shepard! Hero of Eden Prime! I'm so honored to meet you." Conrad said with a bow.
"Nice to meet you. And you are?" Shepard replied cordially.
"My name is Conrad, Conrad Verner. Hey do you think I could get an autograph?"
"Anything for a fan." Shepard said as he marked the data pad Conrad offered him.
"Great. My wife will be so impressed. Next time you're around I'll buy you a drink. Thanks again."
Conrad walked away into the markets.
"Hmmm, what a nice fellow. I'll probably never see him again though." Shepard shrugged as he got back to his tasks.
Meanwhile, Conrad had spent all of 20 seconds thinking up a life-altering decision. 'Shepard is out saving the galaxy and I'm wasting my life running parts to a junk dealer. That's it, I'm going to be the next human Spectre.'
He set off to go get the best equipment his money could buy... on a salary of a part time mechanic's assistant... that has no weapons' experience... or combat experience... and probably has never held a gun... But yes Conrad will be the next Human Spectre.
"So the gun end goes this way right?" Conrad asked the merchant.
The Volus salesmen just shook his head.
We'll see what I come up with for it. Hopefully it'll be entertaining. Thanks again for reading this far. As always please review. I likes them. They give me sustenance.