"Commander, I must stress how important it is-"
"Yeah, I get it. Safety of Council Space and all that. Fuck off, I know what I'm doing, and I know what has to be done. I'll stop Saren, no matter what it takes." With that, Shepard disconnects from the Council comm hub and stalks out of the debriefing room. "Joker, we almost to Therum yet?"
"Yes Commander, ETA five minutes."
"Good. I want to kill something right now. With my hands. Long-range scanners picking up any activity?"
"Yes Commander, there are several drop-ships and cruisers in orbit around the planet, ladar paints them as Geth, probably working for Saren."
Shepard grins wide, her eyes cold and the twisting scar that mars her lips making the look seem fierce. "Perfect. Tell Garrus to prepare the Mako, I'm going to suit up and contact my away team."
Tugging on the last piece of her armor, the Commander comms down to the shuttle bay. "Vakarian, get your ass suited up and in the Mako, we're going planetside. Five minutes."
"Right away Commander."
Hitting the comm for the engine room, her voice changes drastically and she almost purrs, "Tali, get ready for deployment. We're going planetside to extract Dr. T'Soni, I want you with me."
"Stupid fucking elevator, takes forever to go down one level." she grumbles as she hops aboard the Mako. Garrus looks at her, his amusement dancing in his eyes. 'How like her, or at least the version of her she's let me get to know.' he thinks to himself. To him, she's always been like this. In his mind and in her files, for the last five years she's been a cold, ruthless, angry woman who will stop at nothing to get the job done, no matter how many people die or get hurt. Her service record shows that she will try to save innocents, if she can or if it's convenient, but if the mission is jeopardized by that action, she won't. It's that simple to her, and it's part of why he almost admires her.
Tali squirms, unsure what to expect from this obviously volatile woman, especially since she seems capable of rapid shifts in mood. This is the second time in the past week she's seen her switch between angry and friendly in the space of a single heartbeat and back again. What does it mean, and more importantly, what does it mean for her that she seems to be the reason that Shep-...Vicky switches to being friendly at all? She had asked the pilot, Joker she thinks they call him, what the Commander was like normally, and he had just looked at her like she was asking if a varren would bite. Eventually, he had told Tali that the Commander was 'a badass soldier and a colossal bitch with a history of shooting first and never asking questions later.' And yet...Vicky was never bitchy to her.
"Garrus, I want you on guns, Tali I want you watching for hostiles. When you find them, paint a target so the turian can light 'em up."
Tali and Garrus speak in unison, "Aye-aye Commander."
"Oh, and you might want to strap in. Joker likes to drop the tank a little-" She never got to finish, because they all felt the momentum shift and their stomachs trying to climb out of their throats. Tali shrieked in fear and scrambled to buckle herself down, noticing that Garrus had already done so and was simply looking a little nauseous. Shepard quickly grabbed the steering column and attempted to even out her breathing so she could keep them stable. Even with her firing the jump-jets, the jolt when they hit the ground was harsh enough to jerk her restraints, and she still almost hit the roof.
Time from touchdown to the destination seems to run quickly, at least until they have to get out of the truck and move in on foot.
"We're still about a click from the dig site, team. Guns at the ready, and stay sharp."
Victory leads her team up the mountain path, her pistol ready, Tali adjusting to the weight of her new M-11 Wraith shotgun, and Garrus checking the lips of the ravine through the scope of his M-29 Incisor so keep the geth from surprising them. Even so, it's still Vicky who sees enemies first. Immediately she throws out a sabotage, causing a rocket trooper's gun to misfire and explode, and Tali hacks one of the shock troopers she can see. Garrus takes a round in the shoulder, his shields mitigating most of the force though it still makes him angry enough to roar at the sniper in the tower ahead.
Vicky and Tali stand back to back, the quarian tossing a Sabotage, the human laying out an Overload, staggering and stunning the couple geth who survived in that area and dropping the rest. Tali blasts holes in the platforms of those left standing and Vicky picks off the hacked geth with her pistol, the new tungsten rounds making quick work of the alloy hardshell.
Garrus has taken two more shots while trying to scope the sniper, the last one punching through his shields and armor to burrow a shallow hole in his gut. Blue blood seeps out and his breathing hits a rapid tempo that matches his rising temper, a chilling war-cry echoing from the walls, the proton rounds dropping the shields of the Geth and frying its circuits. "Got one!"
Tali looks at him and says with a smile in her voice, "Only one? There were nine, you know." Vicky snickers at that and playfully barks, "Cut the chatter Tali, he can't help it. He's just not as good as we are."
Waving her hand for an all-clear, she leads them forward again, Tali happily cradling her shotgun and Garrus scratching his fringe in confusion again. Yet when a rocket streak down off the ridge and impacts two feet from Tali, Garrus is the one to notice the origin and spring into action, taking down the Geth platform.
Vicky is fretfully scanning the quarian for injuries or holes in her envirosuit. "You okay? You better be okay..."
"Y-yeah, I'm fine Vicky. Just a little shaken. I thought we'd gotten them all."
Garrus clears his throat, a smirk on his face that gets him in trouble almost immediately. "If you've got time to smirk turian, you've got time to be scouting. Get your ass moving! No more surprises, you hear me? I wanna know what we're facing before it knows it's facing us."
His head spinning again, Garrus trots on ahead. He hits his commlink back to the Normandy and asks, "You getting the feed Joker?"
"Yeah, I got it. Can't make heads or tails of it, but I've got it. When she's faced with that kid, it's like Torfan never happened. I just don't get it, that's not the Commander I know. And she lets Tali call her Vicky? That's never happened before, even Anderson couldn't call her Vicky."
"Dammit, I wish I knew what was going on in her head."
"So do we all, big guy, but I'm not even sure she knows her own mind."
"Hnh. Garrus out." Terminating the comm link, he's standing at the top of the hill when Shepard and Tali come into view. A moment later, he hears the clicks of the Geth language but can't pinpoint its location because of the roar of the jets on the dropship that flies low enough to deploy.
"Armature!" he yells out, warning the women of the largest threat he can see a second before a Geth Hopper hits him with a Sabotage. He blindly throws an Overload, hoping his shields recharge in time to protect him from the troops he saw drop around the Armature.
Vicky tosses out her own Overload with much greater precision and takes the Hopper down pointing and firing at the other while Tali, already used to Shepard taking care of the bigger threats, focuses on the Hunters moving towards her position.
"Stupid- goddam..fuck! Stupid fucking Geth!" Vicky screams in frustration, trying desperately to hit the second Hopper, her pistol barking and her rounds missing every time because the platform is so quick. Tali fires her shotgun twice for both hunters, taking them out of the the fight, then quickly tosses an Overload at the Hopper. It freezes for a few seconds, giving Vicky enough time to fire three rounds into it, dropping it to the ground.
Garrus' shields are back up and he's rolled around the cover farthest from the Armature, his sniper rifle exchanged for his M-15 Vindicator assault rifle. His mouth firmly shut, he fires quickly, the burst-fire of the rifle keeping it accurate and helping to maximize damage. When the last trooper falls, he dodges back into cover. "Now what?"
Swapping her pistol for the new rifle she hasn't even gotten to use yet, a sleek black model that she pulled from Spectre reqs, she grins. "Use your head, Garrus. This is the easy part, isn't it? I hit it with Sabotage, short out its pulse for a little while. You and Tali hit it with Overload, put a dent in its shields. Then all three of us aim for center mass on that thing and give it everything we've got. As powers recharge, we throw them as necessary. In three... two..."
On one, all three of them duck out of cover and open fire.
After clearing out the few remaining Geth inside the dig site, Shepard is staring through an energy barrier at the asari hanging suspended in the air.
"Ok, I have to ask. The fuck happened to you?"
Taken aback, the asari splutters, "D-wha..? I-I mean... Well, when Geth starting infiltrating, I came in here and raised the shield, but I must have triggered something, because I ended up in this stasis field. You have to get me out of here, but the controls are on this side. Whatever you're going to do, do it quickly before more Geth come."
"Uh-huh. Ok then." Vicky just nods, derision and disbelief plain on her scarred face. She trots down to the mining laser below the platform and quickly decodes the activation sequence, drilling a hole in the rock to a lower passage.
"Well, isn't it her lucky day?" she says to no one in particular, "I just found the little cubbyhole with the central elevator. Come on, let's go get Miss Ditz out of that stasis field."
Tali takes the controls and raises the platform, then cuts through the control panel keeping the asari in place. The doctor shakes her head in wonder, dazed at how easily this small team of disparate comrades seem to do... well... everything. "How did you-OOF!"
Massaging her knuckles, Vicky stands over the scientist and sneers, "I used a big fucking gun to blow my way through to you. And the next time you feel like messing with something technical that you don't understand? Don't. I probably won't come to save your sorry ass again. Right now though, Alliance and Council Command think you'll be of use on my mission."
Garrus kneels, helping her up. "Come on, Dr. T'Soni, and don't take it personally. That's pretty much how she greets everyone. First time I met her, I was lucky enough to survive because I ducked when she started firing."
With all four of them on the platform again, Tali gives the command to ascend again, taking them to the top level. The barrier is down at first, yet when the Commander takes a step towards it, Geth troopers step out of hiding from behind the crates near the entrance and the krogan battlemaster in command of the unit steps forward. "Hand the asari over and surrender now. Or don't, that would be more fun."
Vicky grinds her teeth and barks out, "I don't have time for this idiot, charge!" The battlemaster laughs and rumbles out, "I like you human. It's almost a shame you have to die." before Vicky's helmet collides with his forehead. His surprised grunt just makes her grin as she charges her omnitool.
Dr. T'Soni curls up in a ball in the center of the platform and raises a barrier around herself, leaving Garrus and Tali to open fire on the Geth with tech attacks and gunfire. Shepard shoves her hand against the battlemaster's armor while he's dazed from her headbutt and pours electricity into him, shortcircuiting his biotic implants and dissipating his barrier.
He recovers in time to go into a rage and swat her away, but even as she's flying through the air, Vicky is firing at him and causing his dark blood to spray everywhere. Garrus pours bullets into him and perforates his body, but the krogan is just regenerating too fast for it to put him down for good. Finally, Tali pumps three incendiary rounds into his back, stopping his remarkable healing abilities in their tracks and shredding him within.
"-huff-...-huff-...-huuu- Time to go, Vicky. We've got the doctor, and I'm pretty sure-"
At that moment, a loud rumbling can be heard, and chunks of the cavern start to fall. Tali shouts, "Run!" and takes off, Vicky right behind her, with Garrus dragging the stumbling asari and bringing up the rear. They charge helter skelter up the access tube and into the open air ouside, escaping the collapse right as Joker brings the Normandy down for extraction, answering the beacon Vicky sent when the cave-in started.
"I am going to be soooo sore after that punch."
Garrus rolls his eyes and mutters to the asari, "Great. Now she'll be even more vile-tempered. How about you doc-"
"Please, call me Liara, i-it's not so formal and stiff." the asari says with a faint blush.
"Okay, how about you Liara, you alright?" he asks, helping her onboard and beginning to chat to ease his nerves.