As Alenko and Jenkins suited up Shepard felt her head begin to ache again. She rubbed it trying to loosen the pain even if it didn't do anything. Sighing she cursed that anti-demi human group for making her like this, if it wasn't for them, she could have been a proud soldier rather than a defective Minotaur. As soon as she finished getting ready, she, Anderson, Nihlus, Alenko and Jenkins stood in front of the cargo bay door.
"You ok there Shepard? Anderson asked.
"I've been dealing with a headache for the past hour sir, but I'm combat ready," Shepard replied.
"Approaching drop point one," Joker announced over the comm as Nihlus cocked his shotgun as the door opened.
"Nihlus you coming with us?" Jenkins asked.
"I move faster on my own," the turian replied before moving off the ship and jumping down onto the planet
"Nhilus will scout out ahead. He'll give you status reports throughout the mission," Anderson said
"We've got his back captain" she continued confidently
"The mission is yours now Shepard good luck,"
The Normandy flew towards the next point as quickly as it could.
"Approaching drop point two," Joker announced.
Shepard and Alenko jumped down first with the commander doing a hero landing and Alenko landing on all fours. Jenkins followed, as he joined them, they could see what was left of the colony. The sky was red like blood and the nearby buildings were destroyed from cannon fire. This colony was once a paradise, now in ruins. Jenkins could only sink to his knees while the two demi-humans sniffed the air.
"What's that smell?" Alenko asked.
"Dunno, it smells like oil, maybe metallic…" Zennea said as she readied her rifle.
"No," Jenkins said quietly.
"It's aright Jenkins we will make them pay," Shepard said while putting her hand on his shoulder.
"Aye aye commander," he said standing
"What are those?" Kaidan pointed at some sort of flying bags.
"Gas bags," Jenkins answered. "Don't worry, they're harmless."
The squad the moved up and rounded to a clearing filled with rocks. They stopped next to a couple of spaced out rocks allowing Shepard to scan the area. To her feline eyes it seemed clear. She then signalled Jenkins to move forward to a small cropping of rocks. As he did whirl sound made their presence noticed as two drones came out from behind the trees ahead and opened fire on Jenkins.
Jenkins screamed as the rounds cut right through his shield. Shepard slid out from her cover and fired at the drones in bursts while Kadian moved around to flank the drones. His animal instincts kicked in and he jumped at one. Normal human teeth would have broken as soon as they would attempt to bite down on metal. However, given that Kadian happened to be a hu hound wolf, it was a different story.
Most demi-humans who joined the military get genetic enhancements that increase their abilities. In Kadian's case, his jaw muscles had been enhanced so that he could rip though anything along a strengthening of his fangs.
His jaw bit down so hard that part of the plating cracked. Grabbing his pistol, he fired into the machine's circuitry making the machine fall to the ground. The other one tried to raise up but Shepard moved up fast grabbed it by the gun before smashing it into a rock. It didn't do much until she unloaded her rifle into it until it overheated. That finished it off. Kadian then walked up to Jenkin's body and checked his pulse as Zenna walked up to the two as the biotic gently closed the dead soldier's eyes.
"Went right through his shield," Kaidan commented as he stood. "Never stood a chance,"
"We'll see that he is honoured, but right now I need you to keep your wits about," she replied.
"Yes, Commander," he said as two more drones entered the area and opened fire on the two soldiers.
Shepard and Kaidan took cover behind the rock outcropping that Jenkins failed to reach. Kaidan took out his pistol while opened fired with her rifle in short bursts.
"Aim for the closest one," she ordered.
Both soldiers aimed and destroyed the closest drone. The remaining drone tried to flee but before it could Shepard jumped up and grabbed it. Like the other one she slammed it into a wall before unloading her rifle until it overheated.
"You minotaur's always love using that tactic," Kaidan commented as he walked to stand next to Shepard.
"Because it works," she answered with a smile.
Kadian just smiled and shook his head as Nihlus came on the radio. "Lots of burnt out buildings here, Shepard," he said over the comm. "A lot of bodies. I'm going to check it out. I'll meet you at the dig site,"
"Aye, aye," Shepard said back. "See you there. Nihlus,"
The two then moved up through the trees keeping out for any more drones. A small clearing came up as she and Kadian stopped on a platform overlooking the clearning. A female hu-hound alliance soldier in white and pink armour ran around a corner on all fours like a dog followed by two drones. The drones fired her, one missed while the other impacted her shield. She spun round and opened fired at the drones with her pistol. The rounds hit their mark making the two drones fell down into the dirt.
The marine slowly stood before witnessing a civilian get impaled by some device. Fear running though her, she ran behind a rock breathing deeply while drawing her rifle. Two machines, that held the civilian down, spotted her run and moved up to the rock the marine was hiding behind.
Kadian and Zenna looked to each other before making a move. Grabbing her sniper rifle Zenna aimed and began to offer cover fire for Kadian as he distracted the machines. His speed allowed him to move around them fast making the machines try to get a lock on but failed. A loud bang sounded and one fell, another bang and the other fell. Zenna then jumped down and walked up to the marine with Kadain close behind.
"Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams of the 212th," the marine saluted. "You the one in charge here ma'am?"
"Are you wounded and please don't sniff my colleges butt," the commander said making the two laugh.
"A few scrapes, burns and a punch to the stomach," she answered with a sigh "The others weren't so lucky. We were patrolling the perimeter when the attack it. We tried to double back to the beacon but we got cut off. I've been fighting for my life ever since,"
"Where's the rest of your squad?" the commander then asked.
"We tried to double back to the beacon but we walked into an ambush," she said with sadness in her voice. "I don't think any other others… I think I'm the only one left,"
"This isn't your fault Williams," the commander said trying to comfort her. "You couldn't have done anything to save them,"
"Yes sir," the gunnery chief said feeling relived but still guilty. "We held out position for as long as we could, until the geth overwhelmed us,"
"The geth haven't been seen outside the veil in 200 years, why are there now?" Kadain asked.
"They must have come for the beacon," Ashley responded.
"It does explain the smell Kadain," Zenna said tapping her nose and the biotic nodding before turning to the marine. "Where's the beacon?"
"It's close just over that rise,"
"We need to get to the beacon. We could use you help," Shepard then said.
"Of course, sir. It's time for payback,"
The three of them then moved up to where Ashley came from before being attacked by a large group of geth soldiers. Getting behind cover, Zenna looked at the machines firing at them then at the two hu-hounds who were also in cover. Hu hounds be it wolf or dog were pack animals. They worked well together in a group. Taking a deep breath, she began to move.
"Flank them!" she yelled before firing at the geth getting their attention.
The two hu-hounds growled and pounced. Demi human armour wasn't like regular armour, instead it was made so that each demi-human could use it for their strengths. Hu-hound armour was made with agility in mind so the armour part was around 25% less than human armour. Zenna's however had larger plates making it heavy but also stronger making her a hulking tank. As the hu-hounds jumped, she emerged from cover and fired.
Ashley jumped in fast landing on one of the geth soldiers and ripped into its 'neck' and ripped it open while Alenko found a good place to perch and threw several geth into walls using his biotics. Zenna moved up taking out a geth that was aiming at Ashley before throwing a grenade. It detonated taking out the geth's shields before the team took the rest of them out. With the area clear they moved further on into the dig sight.
The three of them walked up to what looked like a pedestal on the floor which confused the pink and white armoured marine.
"The beacon was just here a minute ago," Ashley said in disbelief. "It was right here, it must have moved it,"
"By who our side or the geth?" Kadian asked.
"Hard to say. Maybe we can find out more at the research camp,"
"Do you think anyone made it out?" Shepard asked as she gave a slight sniff of the air.
"Maybe they hiding at the camp, it's just at the top of this ridge up the ramp," Ash answered
"Change in plan, Shepard," Nihlus reported. "There's a space port just ahead. I'll meet you there."
The team then moved up the ramp weapons up ready for action as they entered the camp which was full of those spikes.
"Looks like they hit the camp hard," Ashley commented.
"Keep your guard up," Kaidan cautioned. "This is a good place for an ambush."
The humans at the top didn't look human any more. They looked more like a mixture of organic and synthetic tissue. The remaining organic flesh was grey from decay. The spikes shook and then lowered.
"My god they're still alive!" Kaidan gasped.
"What did the Geth do to them?" Ashley asked out loud.
Zenna said nothing as she grabbed her shotgun and moved up. "Don't bite them," she ordered as she aimed her shotgun and fired taking one of the creatures down.
The two nodded and grabbed their weapons. These creatures came running at them forcing the team to fire at the oncoming creatures. Zenna, being a minotaur, charged in guns blazing and destroyed two more by simply running into them and crushing them under foot. Ashley jumped onto the roof of one the buildings and began to used her rifle's semi auto function to take out the creatures one by one. Kadin however moved back and threw multiple warp balls making the creatures float making them easy to take down.
With the area clear Zeena moved up to one of the corpses and looked at it. "What is this thing?" she asked as Ash joined them.
"It came from those spikes," Ashley replied. "The Geth have been placing people onto these things,"
"So, it turns them into this?" Kadian asked. "That's sick, I wonder if the Qurrians had to deal with this,"
Shepard shook her head and stood looking around only to see some movement between the shutters of one of the buildings. She signalled to the squad to move up quietly. The two hu-hounds moved up first and fast while Shepard moved up along with them. Positioning themselves at the door Zenna took a hold of the door before ripping the lock off and the three entered only to find two scientists trying to hide. That made the commander feel guilty about ripping the door off
"Don't shoot!" a woman yelled. Her eyes widen. "Humans! Thank god,"
"Hurry, close the door!" the other scientists pleaded. "Before they come back,"
Shepard lowered her rifle and held up her hand in a non-threatening way. "Don't worry. We'll protect you,"
"It's okay," the woman reassured the other scientist. "It looks like everyone's gone,"
"You're Doctor Warren," Ashley said recognising the woman. "In charge of the excavation. Do you know what happened to the beacon?"
"It was moved to the spaceport this morning," Warren answered. "Manuel and I stayed behind to pack up the camp. When the attack happened, the marines held them off while we hid. They gave their lives to save us."
"No one is safe!" Manuel interrupted. "The age of Humanity is ended. Soon, only ruins and corpses will remain,"
"Is your assistant okay?" Shepard asked sensing something was wrong with him.
"Manuel has a brilliant mind, but he's always been a bit... unstable. Genius and madness are two sides of the same coin," Warren answered.
"Is it madness to see the future?" Manuel asked as his delusions began to take an even greater hold on him. "To see the destruction rushing towards us? To understand that there is no escape? No hope? No, I am not mad. I'm the only sane one here,"
"I gave him an extra dose of his meds after the attack, but I don't think it did much,"
"The prophet led the Geth here. He is the bringing of the destruction that is to come!"
Shaking her head Zenna turned to look outside for a moment before a question came to mind. "Have you seen a Turian pass by here, red army grayish skin?"
"The Turian. He came here with the Geth."
"What?" Kaidan asked in surprise. "Can't be Nihlus he was with us when all of this started,"
"That could only mean that there's another Turian here, something smells wrong," Zenna said looking at the Scientists. "This is the code to get in contact with our ship, the Normandy get in contact with them and get to safety," Warren nodded as the minotaur opened up her omni-tool and sent the info before leaving.
Moving up onto the main monorail platform Nihlus saw something move. In reaction he moved into cover while keeping one eye open. The figure who stepped out was a surprise to the Spectre making him leave his cover.
"Saren?" he asked surprised making the Turian turn to face the red armoured soldier.
"Nihlus," he stated before slowly walked towards him.
"This isn't your mission, Saren. What are you doing here?" Nihlus asked approaching his friend.
"The Council thought you could use some help on this one," Saren assured him as he walked by him, patted him on the shoulder before ending up behind him.
Felling reassured Nihlus dropped him guard. "I wasn't expecting to find Geth here. The situation's bad,"
"Don't worry," his friend said as he turned around while pulling out his hand cannon and aimed at the back of Nihlus' head. "I've got it under control,"
As the team moved up around a corner a loud gunshot echoed across the colony making the team stop and look around. But nothing else happened so they moved up. They walked into a large clearing overlooking the monorail station. But something in the distance made them stop in their tracks and just stare at it. It looked like a black squid that was as tall as a skyscraper. It made the three very uncomfortable just looking at it.
"That thing is massive!" Ashley gasped.
Something pinched the back of Zenna's mind. Something was wrong very wrong. Demi-human instincts were ten times that of a normal human. A danger instinct, as it were, and the minotaur's was acting up. Several spikes ahead activated and lowered down. Half a dozen husks groaned and moaned as they woke up.
"Get ready incoming!" Kadian yelled as he aimed and began to fire.
Ashley followed while Zenna jumped off the platform shotgun in hand and began to cut into the creatures that were approaching. But as she advanced the ground underneath her began to shake slightly and something resembling a Naga jumped out of the ground. Before she could react, the Naga coiled around her and began to squeeze her making her armour buckle and her to choke. Her arms were by her sides making it hard to pull free. As she tried to struggle the Naga then moved in and growled.
That turned into a mistake as the minotaur head-butted the Naga with one of her horns punching through the head of the creature. That killed it and the coils loosened around her. Zenna managed to get out of the restrains and pulled the head off her horn. She then kicked it in response as the other two moved up. While she was busy Kadian and Ashley took out the rest of the creatures before regrouping with the commander.
"A Naga?" Kadian asked looking at the corpse.
"Something like it, but it's like those other creatures," Zenna said as she wiped her horn of the blood. "It seems that they wait under the ground before ambushing their prey,"
"I wonder what other demi-humans look like if the Geth did this to the others," Ashley muttered.
Zenna said nothing but just agreed. Minotaur's didn't like to fight unless they knew what they were fighting. A combat philosophy that they had since their inception. To know one's enemy, is to know how to defeat them. Zenna was no different to this philosophy. She looked around before spotting a body on the way to the monorail.
"Guy's," she muttered walking up the stairs and next to the body.
"It's Nihlus," Kadian muttered as he squatted down looking at the body.
"Something's moving!" Ashley then reacted making her and Zenna pull their pistols out. "Over behind those crates,"
A nekomata then walked out with his hands up. "Wait don't shoot! I'm one of you I'm human," he said.
"Sneaking up on us like that almost got you killed!" Zenna said angerly lowing her weapon.
"I…I'm sorry, I was just hiding from those creatures," he said quickly as Zenna and Ashley lowered their weapons. "My name's Powell. I saw what happened to that Turian. The other one shot him,"
"Your saying that there's another Turian?" Zenna asked feeling her assumption that there was more than one Turian here vindicated.
"The other one got here first," Powell confirmed. "He waited for your friend, Saren, he called him. I think they knew each other. Your friend seemed to relax, let his guard down. Then Saren shot him. Shot him right in the back. I'm lucky that he didn't find me,"
That hit the team as odd but there were more pressing concerns. "We where told that a Prothean beacon was brought to the spaceport. What happened to it?"
"It's over on the other platform," he answered quickly. "Probably where that Saren guy was headed. He hopped onto the cargo train after he killed your friend. I knew that beacon was trouble. Everything's gone to hell since we found it. Frist that damned mother ship, then the attack. They killed everyone, everyone! If I wasn't behind the crates, I'd be dead too!"
That explained something but not everything and Zenna pressed the issue. "Why were you behind the crates unlike everyone else?"
He sighed. "They never had a chance. I was already behind the creates when the attacked started,"
"Wait a minute, you where behind the crates before the attack?" Kadian asked questing Powell's motives.
"I… sometimes I need a nap to get though my shift. I sneak off behind the crates where the supervisors cannot see me so I can grab forty winks," he admitted.
"Your survived because you are lazy?" Ashley asked angry.
"Relax, Nekomata are known for being lazy at times," Zenna said with a piercing look at Powell.
Her tone made it clear that while she was understanding, she wasn't going to let that little fact go.
"Yeah, I do…don't want to think about it," he admitted.
"Come on, we need to find that beacon,"
"Take the cargo train, I… I can't stay here, I need to get way from this place," Powell said leaving.
Zenna shook her head. Nekomata were both active and lazy. Some more than others, but she felt it unfair to make judgement based on instinct actions like sleeping. But she didn't have time to dwell on it as Geth began to fire at them. Breaking formation the three split and began to fire. The rounds impacted the Geth shields which were surprisingly weak. But once they were down Ashley pouched on the nearest one and bit into the cables ripping them out.
The other however was ripped apart by Zenna who charged up to it and pulled its limbs off. But as she did so she was attacked by Geth on the trains. She then picked up what was left of the Geth soldier and threw it at the Geth on the train. The body managed to hit a few of them pinning them down. A grenade then appeared before them and detonated taking them and a few others out. Kadian then moved onto one of the train carriages followed by Ashley who threw a couple of grenades to where the Geth where taking cover.
Kadian and Ash then took cover as the grenades exploded taking out a few of the Geth. But a big one was unaffected by the explosions and just fired its heavy gun at them. The two hu-hounds tried to take the machine down but it's shields and armour was too strong for their weapons. When it got close Zenna then jumped down behind it then ripped it's arm off making it turn to her only for her to place a grenade in an opening before backing up. The machine tried to remove the grenade but it exploded taking it out before it could do anything.
"Come on, we have a beacon to recover," the minotaur said.
With the area clear Saren looked at the glowing beacon, there was something majestic about it and he just wanted to take a moment.
Once that moment was done, he turned to the Geth who walked up next to him. "Set the charges. Destroy the entire colony leave no evidence that we were here," he ordered
The Geth nodded and went over to set the nuclear devices with the other platforms while Saren approached the beacon. A burst of energy emanated from it making Saren levitated in the air to receive the beacon's message.
The tram reached its destination. Every Geth in the area was notified of its presence. "There planning to destroy the colony," Shepard said while jumping over the railings. "Cover me while I disarm the bombs,"
The two howled in response as they moved up the ramp while Zenna hacked the bomb. It wasn't simple, but removing the detonation mechanism was the best way to stop it. It didn't take long until the device was disarmed. She then joined up with the others and fired at the Geth from across the bridge. They didn't have time for a prolonged firefight. Seeing his chance, Kadian moved up fast to one of the alcoves across the bridge taking cover. Exiting from cover he threw a singularity removing the shields from the Geth before he opened fired with his pistol taking out three of the Geth.
Ashley moved up taking out the reminder herself. The three then ran to the other end of the platform to the final bomb which Zenna worked quickly to disarm. With a satisfied sighed she dropped the detonation device. Now all that was left was the beacon. The beacon glowed with a brilliant green light. The thee moved up and around the ancient t device making sure it was clear. With nods from the other two Zenna was satisfied that the area was clear and activated her comm.
"Normandy, we've recovered the beacon. We need pick-up at my location..." she said as the two hu hounds approached it but kept their distance.
"An actual working beacon," Kaidan said in disbelief. "Incredible," he said before turning to walk back to Zenna.
"It wasn't doing anything like that when they first dug it up," Ash commented with an odd look. "Something must have activated it,"
She slowly approached the Prothean relic but a burst of energy came from the device. A force then started to pull Ashley towards it.
Shepard did a double take at Ash before charging in. She jumped up and grabbed Ash by the waist before throwing her away as far as she could before the beacon pulled her into the air.
"Sheaprd!" Ashley tried to run to her.
Kaidan grabbed her and yelled, "No! It's too dangerous!"
Images rushed through Shepard's head. Millions being slaughtered on many worlds. Synthetic creatures. A roar from the ship they saw earlier as it stood before an eclipsed planet. Pain shot through her entire body and she was reminded of the anti-demi-human group. The beacon overloaded and the blast knocked Shepard to the ground causing her to finally black out.
Groaning as she slowly opened her eyes she found herself in the med-bay with Ashley and Chakwas looking over him.
"She's awake!" Ashley said as she sat up.
"You gave ussss a sssscare, Commander," Chakwas said. "How're you're feeling?"
Zenna just shook her head and rubbed the side of her forehead. "Like someone came at me with a stampede of centaurs," she groaned. "How long was I out?"
"About fifteen hourssss. Sssssomething happened down there with the beacon," the doctor said as she made a few notes.
"It was my fault, Commander," Ashley interrupted. "I must have triggered some security field,"
"You had no idea if that's what set it off," Shepard assured her. "It wasn't your fault."
A smile came across her face.
"Unfortunately, we may never find out," Chakwas said as the commander pulled herself so that she was at the edge of the bed
"The beacon overload and the blast knocked you out," Ashley filled in. "LT and I carried you back here."
"I appreciate it," Zenna nodded.
"Physically fine, I've detected odd brain readingssss. Abnormal beta wavessss ussssually connected with intense dreaming. Did anything happen while you were out?" the doctor asked concerned with what the commander dreamt
"I saw," Zenna started but stopped taking a moment processing what she saw. "I'm not sure, death and destruction. It's really hard to tell, It's still fuzzy, nothing's clear,"
"Hmm, I sssshould add thissss to my report it may be connected with ssssomething," she said but just then the door opened Anderson walked in. "Ahh Capitan Anderson,"
"How's our XO doing?" he asked.
"Ssssshe'll be fine," the doctor answered. "Jusssssst needsssss to take it easssssy for a while. But I doubt minotaurssss know how to relax," Zenna shot the doctor an amused but unimpressed look.
"That's good to hear. I'm going to need to talk to Shepard, in private," Anderson said not trying to be subtle.
"Aye, aye, I'll be in the mess Commander," Ash saluted and followed the Naga out of the medical bay.
Once the door was shut Anderson started. "It seems that beacon hit you hard, Commander. Are you sure you're okay?" he asked concerned
"I don't like soldiers dying under my command," Zenna replied angrily.
"Jenkins wasn't your fault, Shepard. You did a good job," he said trying to reassure her.
"So, you wanted to speak to me?" she asked wanting to get this over with and go to and get some sleep.
"I won't lie to you Commander. Things look bad. Nihlus is dead. The becaon's been destroyed and the geth are invading. The Council are going to want answers," he said with a tone that made it sound that they were in trouble.
This was the first major invasion that humanity lost since they stepped onto the galactic state. This maybe seen as small, the consequences of this meant that others would make tries at the Alliance.
"I did nothing wrong, Captain. I just hope they know that," she said in an annoyed tone knowing what this all meant.
"I'll stand behind you and your report, Shepard. You're a damn hero in my books. Though that's not why I'm here. It's Saren. The other Turian Spectre. He's one of the best. A legend. But if he's working with the Geth that means that he's gone rogue. A rogue Spectre is trouble. Saren's dangerous and he hates humans," Anderson's tone changed as he spoke to one that was darker and concerned.
"Why? Because we kicked their asses at Shanxi?"
"Yes and no, he thinks that we're expanding too fast. Most aliens think that way, but most don't do anything about that because they know that it would be a losing battle. But Saren has allied himself with the Geth. I don't know how or why, but it has something to do with the beacon. You were there just before the beacon self-destructed. Did you see or hear anything that could give us a clue?"
"Before it blew, the beacon gave me some kind of vision," she said as she picked the images together as beast as she can.
"A vision? A vision of what?" he asked with interest.
"Destruction of everything in the galaxy. Geth, maybe, killing everything, it's not fully clear," she admitted.
Something akin to hope appeared in the Captain's eyes. "We need to report this to the Council,"
"And say what? I had a bad dream?" she asked with a slight chuckle.
"We don't know what type of information was stored in that beacon. Saren took it. He has influence in politics and has forces of geth. He will stop at nothing to see humanity wiped from the galaxy," he said without a hint of amusement
"I'll find some way to take him down," Zenna said with determination.
"It's not that easy. Saren's a Spectre and can do almost anything. We need to get the Council to revoke his Spectre status. The ambassador will set up our meeting and will want to meet us right away. We should be getting close to the Citadel now. Go up and tell Joker to bring us into dock," he ordered.
"Aye, aye, Captain," the minotaur saluted before leaving groaning knowing that she wouldn't get any sleep.