“So the good news: I know where your daughter is, Cicepia. The bad news is I think your father in law just rushed into a factory full of reapers.”
“I’m sorry, I heard good news and then I heard good news.”
– Cicepia Altus speaking to Elia’solor nar Ashru on Invictus.
Before the final push to take back earth, the quarian military had used some of the Cerberus reaper nanite research to build a signaling software into their combat drones. It attracted all reaper aggression in the nearby area, and had proved invaluable in protecting the lightly armoured quarian marines. Pi activated it now as the spherical, slightly translucent drone form rose above the battlefield, blasting out the recently composed Salarian tune Rise of the Kakliosaurs. One heavy gun barrel swung towards the drone, and a slow whine of a charging energy weapon built in pitch. Elias scrambled for the far end of the impromptu barricades, trying not to think how close he was to the fourteen story drop down to the factory floor. The room was still dark, the factory only running on auxiliary power, but the floodlights on Anar’s suit cast areas of sharp brightness and deep shadow, and there was a reaper-blue glow coming from the blue sacs that sat between the elcor’s shoulders. Anar was right, they looked just like the weapons used by the reaper scions. Elias took aim at the sac and pulled the trigger on his sniper rifle. Hopefully they’d explode like scions too.
The shot missed the glowing blue sac as the husk recoiled from Anar’s onslaught, although it still hit deep into the creature’s shoulder. The sound of bullets hitting organic plating rang in his ears and his suit sensors picked up a flare of dark energy as a singularity field flared into existence somewhere on the conveyor belts below.
“Security system online,” a female turian voice came through the speakers, and a number of drones dropped from the ceiling, each projecting a mass effect field onto the husks, which seemed to impede their movement, and over his his HUD indicated the singularity field had collapsed. Risking a glance over his shoulder, he saw Cicepia was dropping a husk down to the floor after having yanked it off the unmoving conveyor belts with a singularity. Its legs flailed in the air as it fell, back first, and dropped out of view in mere seconds. The following explosion rocked the entire factory, and sent Elias tumbling to the floor as two heavy cannon shots rung out.
“Drone down,” Pi said. “Twelve seconds. A new record. Well done.”
“Was that a joke?” Elias asked as he rolled onto his stomach and crawled to the end of the barricade.
“You respond well to positive reinforcement Creator Elias.”
“Shut up and drive the drone.”
Sync’s voice cut through the internal chatter. “Go for the backpack, it’s their weak point.”
“No shit,” Arkara replied. “Stay off the catwalks. It’s a long way down.”
Anar’s mech shrugged. “I can float,” the mercenary said, and took a much more graceful running leap over the husk than any krogan would have been capable of, ending up behind it and all but overloading his thermal clip as he emptied three bursts into the glowing, bulbous, organic capacitor. The clear, shell like container was visibly cracked and the blue-white energy within pulsed and swirled with increasing speed and instability, and Elias scrambled away to the far side of Drimi’s Terminal, where he took aim at the elcor husk that was just coming around from the electrical jolts from his combat drone. He got one shot off, striking the organic capacitor square in the back before the second husk exploded, sending Drimi’s impromptu barricade flying towards the console. The asari looked up as the table spun towards him, surface warped by the blast and raised a barrier of biotic energy, wincing slightly as the metal hit and glanced upwards, through the glass walls that overlooked the factory floor and then fell down into the darkness below amidst a rain of sharp glass slivers. Turning back to the console, he entered a few more commands.
“Activating DexToC conveyor belts”, the automated voice said.
“Neat trick,” Elias said as he rolled into a twisted around to view the rest of the battlefield, watching the first elcor husk out of the corner of his eye and using his omni-tool to track the two crouching out on the factory proper, arms and legs tensing as the heavy duty conveyor belts cranked into motion, thankfully pushing the one grasping Lucidus away from the yellow portal.
“It’s just computer systems,” Drimi said, not taking his eyes off the monitor.
“I meant the shield,” Elias grunted.
Drimi grinned and entered a few more commands into the console.
“Security drones activated,” the female turian voice said, its tone calm and matter-of-fact.
Small blue-white drones that Elias had seen at C-Sec materialised from areas in the ceiling, floating towards the husks, and pulling at them with a mass effect field in an attempt to immobilise. Elias wasn’t sure if they were strong enough to overpower a reaper, but it as a shot punched though the plasteel table Cicepia was hiding behind, barely missing her, he figured every little bit helped.
Heavy, clanking footfalls signalled the arrival of Anar’s mech, but the gait was uncertain, and Elias wondered how much damage the construct had taken from the explosion. He saw two assault rifles rise, slightly unsteady, before the mech’s grip tightened on the guns and the barrels found their mark, unloading six precise shots – three into the creature’s left elbow, causing it to slump down on one side, and three more into the capacitor on it’s back, shattering the clear, organic carapace that covered whatever implant was being used to power the giant cannon.
Elias threw himself to the ground as the elcor started to shake, even as Anar’s mech dropped its guns and rolled defensively into a dome, with a flat bottom and smooth sides. As the Elcor exploded, Drimi threw up a biotic shield without even thinking, and Elias got a up close and personal view of reaperised elcor guts as tubes both organic and synthetic splattered against the biotic barrier inches before his face bore falling at his feet as Drimi let the shield fall, turning back to the console.
A garbled cry came from the throats of the elcor below, a strange, strangled hooting cry that sank into the primeval section of his brain and threatened to paralyse him with fear.
“The Elcor says: Charging,” Pi reported.
“No way was that Elcor,” Elias muttered.
“No, Creator Elias, it is reaper signal. We have learnt much since Synthesis.”
“Wonderful,” Elias grunted as he took aim at a husk on the catwalks as Arkara set her shoulder against her combat shield and ran, using the momentum of the moving conveyor belts to propel her forward and slam into one of the elcor, knocking it off its feet and firing several rounds into it’s head. He couldn’t see Sync, but his battlefield tracking told him Sync had taken to a higher catwalk, probably with the aid of his new grappling hook.
“Cicepia, do you want to save that guy or what?” Sync’s voice came over their comm.
“He’s Talia’s grandfather,” Cicepia said grimly.
“He’s getting away,” Arakara grunted, slamming her shield down on the head of the Elcor before her and pushing past it, only to have one meaty hand reach out and grab her by the ankle. Ahead of her, the elcor dragging Lucidis moved closer to the portal, slowed by the conveyor belt, but not enough to overcome its reaperised swiftness.
Breathing out, Elias pulled the trigger of his Raptor sniper rifle, and the shot took the Elcor’s hand off, allowing Arakara to move forward again. Just before the elcor would have hit the edge of the flickering portal, Sync dropped from the catwalks above, leather coat billowing in the air as he dropped to its head, one hand outstretched and connecting squarely with the elcor’s cranium. A crackle of electrical energy arced between his fingers and the elcor stumbled, empty eyes glazing over as the stun took effect, even as the conveyor belts drew it slowly away from the portal once more.
Unfortunately, the husk wasn’t stunned for long, lurching to its feet and lurched like a drunken krogan, throwing Sync wide and off the edge of the factory system. The security drones swooped after him, even as an orange, omni-gel grappling hook grabbed fragile purchase on the side of a chemical tank. Then Anar was there, his mech coated in the black blood that half the reaper husks seemed to have regardless of what their actual blood colour had been in their organic life. He had retrieved his guns, and stepped up towards the edge of the control platform. The mech was unsteady on its feet, the hands twitching, but the hanar’s aim was true and a for almost thirty seconds the sound of assault rifles on full automatic drowned out the soft clank of conveyor belts.
The elcor husk’s body jerked with each impact, and it slowly collapsed down onto the struggling turian, the blue glow fading from its eyes and the capacitor on its back. And then the slow sctick-schtick-schtick of the conveyor belts reclaimed the air.
“Um, a little help here please,” Sync said.
With the flick of her wrist, Cicepia pulled Sync up to the level of the catwalks with a biotic field as she walked forward, almost stumbling when Drimi turned off the belts. Arkara joined Cicepia in pulling the elcor corpse off Lucidis, and Elias turned to see Anar’s mech topple over backward, assault rifles falling to the floor and the hanar inside slumped against his seat like a blob of jelly.
“Get him out of the suit,” Elias said to Drimi. “I need to close that portal.”
“He’s got broken ribs and a punctured lung,” Sync was saying as Elias walked down the stairs and over to the the flickering yellow portal. Yellow. That was new. “He has minutes.”
“He’s lucky he’s got those minutes,” Cicepia said, but she was soon on her commlink to Sergeant Accius. “Elias hurry up with closing that thing, we’ll have cops on our asses any moment.
“It’ll take as long as it takes,” Elias said, and then opened his private channel with Pi. “You can do this without me, right?”
“Yes, Creator Elias. As long as you remain within the broadcast distance of the drone.
The white drone flickered into existence and yellow lines started drawing across the shimmering space that hung in the air above the central conveyor belt. Moving over to a nearby console, Elias flicked through the factory data and programs, his research bots quickly sifting through information and copying crucial files.
“The drug appears to be legitimate, Creator Elias,” Pi said.
“Yes, it does,” Elias agreed. “Remind me to take a sample on the way out.”
“Steal a sample, Creator Elias.” Pi corrected. “You’re stealing a sample.”
“We just saved the city,” Elias said. “And it’s not like I’m making a rival product in this universe.”
Thankfully, the yellow portal winked out of existence just before the cops and paramedics arrived, and with Sync’s expertise and the liberal application of medigel, they were able to get Lucidis stable and onto a stretcher.
“Any other survivors?” one of the medics asked.
“No,” Drimi said, appearing with Anar’s mech-suitcase in one hand and the hanar thrown over his left shoulder. “They weren’t so fortunate.”
“Why’d they spare you?” Cicepia asked, looking down at Lucidis.
“I have no idea why they were keeping me alive.” Lucidis said, pushing the oxygen mask from his face. “They overpowered me and that one looked like it wanted to take me back to wherever they came from.” His eyes flickered over to the corpse that until recently had held him in a crushing grip. “Wherever that yellow…glow thing—” his voice broke off as he coughed, spitting up blood.
“Yellow glow thing?” Sergeant Accius asked, his omni tool recording everything at the scene.
“I don’t know,” Elias said from the console. “I didn’t see any yellow glowing thing.”
“You shouldn’t be speaking, you’ll aggravate your injuries,” Sync said. “Especially when the adrenaline wears off.”
“Yes, Sergeant you’ll be able to question him at the hospital. Believe me, he won’t be going anywhere.”
A look of annoyance crossed the sergeant’s face but he nodded. “Vitus, get a guard on the hospital. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but watch out for reapers. They’re to call in at the first sign of trouble.”
“Yes, Sir,” the Turian saluted and marched off.
“How about your friend?” the second medic said, looking at the comatose hanar.
“He’s still breathing,” Drimi said. “Just unconscious.”
“We’ll take him back to the hospital and check him over there if you’d like?” the turian offered.
Drimi and Sync exchanged glances. “We’ll go with him,” Sync said. “Meet back on the Endurance?”
“Wait, shouldn’t we go with you?” Elias asked.
“Someone needs to talk to the cops,” Sync said with a smile. “And I’m not really good at that.”
Note: People who have watched AngelArt’s Mass Effect Collision Youtube series will recall that the portal in the factory was listed as orange. It should not have been orange, for a variety of reasons, and the colour has been modified accordingly.