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Mass Effect/AEC: Chaper 5 (c.2)- BFG


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Tweet of the Day: In Defense of Fanfiction

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Aboard the SSV Kursk SR-3, In orbit around Rannoch, Tikkun System, Perseus Veil, October 4, 2196

I stood watch on the bridge a step behind the helmsman’s chair. Councilor Sparatus speech to the Conclave played in the background. Ace kept one eye the ship’s status and another on the speech.

“They say that space is very big, but it feels awfully crowded round here, sir,” she said.

“Thirty-seven thousand ships in orbit will do that, flight lieutenant,” I said.

She pushed back a loose strand of brown hair under her SR-3 cap, “Sure, but you would think that with so many ships they wouldn’t need that to protect them,” she brought up an image of the nearest quarian defense station on screen.

“You would if you spent the last three hundred years roaming the galaxy in dilapidated ships,” I said.

“Yet in recent years we have found common ground among our species….”

“But those monsters are almost four kilometers long,” she said.

“Yes all six of them and each equipped with twin Thanix cannon’s each two and a half klicks long. The largest gun batteries anywhere in the galaxy,” I said.

“Bugger all! Even the Reapers would think twice having a go at this place,” Ace said.

I chuckled at Ace’s exquisite vocabulary, “I think that’s the-” the screen with the Councilor’s speech on it froze then went blank.

“Hold on a minute commander…” Ace pressed a few buttons, “Nothing, the feed is down.”

Ensign Carmichael shouted from his station behind us, “All comlinks are down sir, and I’m getting nothing from the comm buoys.”

“What about the Merchant fleet or the Vanguard?” I asked. I hoped the Councilor’s diplomatic cruiser’s sensors might have picked up something we missed or had intel from the Council we could use.

“All communications are down across the system. Not even voice or text, sir,” replied Carmichael.

“Set up a tight beam link to the Vanguard,” I said.

Johnson called through the ship’s intercom, “Message from Admiral Shepard on the primary QEC.”

“On my way,” I said. Kursk had an array of Quantum Entanglement Communicators that put her in constant contact with key facilities across Alliance space. Impossible to track, intercept or jam but they had limited bandwith and only worked point-to-point thus useless at the tactical level.

The admiral appeared on the QEC, “Status?”

“All commlinks are down across the system. How are things on your end, sir?” I asked.

He sighed, “The same. But that’s not half of it. The geth are…down.”

“Down, sir?”

“The geth are not responding. All their platforms are inactive,” he said.

“That can’t be good,” I said.

“Agreed. I’m on my way up to the Kursk to coordinate a response. Shepard out.”

“Sir, we have a tight beam transmission from approaching civilian shuttle, audio only, putting it through,” said Johnson.

Pasha’s reedy voice came through my earpiece, “Permission to come aboard, colonel.”

“It’s commander now, kid, but what the hell are you doing up here?” I asked.

“Oh I forgot, of course commander. It’s about the geth, sir. They are under attack.” said Pasha.

When it rains it pours.

“From whom?” I asked.

“We don’t know but Utah thinks he can track the source using the Kursk‘s cyberwarfare suite,” he said

“Then you two better hurry,” I said.

Minutes later Pasha entered the War Room escorted by sergeant Hyun-joon. I saw the worry in his eyes even through the opaque face plate.

“Okay kid, show us what you got,” I said.

Pasha punched a code on his omni-tool.

A robotic voice came over the intercom,”Isolating key systems. Updating primary and secondary firewalls. Integrating sensor feeds.”

“Is that…is that a geth, sir?” sputtered Johnson.

“Yes, Mr. Johnson and its name is Utah,” I said with the icy voice I reserved for raw recruits that gave me lip. Johnson stood ramrod straight and in absolute silence.

Utah was still doing it’s thing  when the Admiral arrived on board. He brought with him James Vega, Tali’Zorah vas Normandy, Garrus Vakarian and colonel Kal’Reegar, Merchant Fleet Marines.

“Admiral, according to Pasha the geth are under attack from an unknown source. Utah is tracking it down, sir,” I said.

“But hacking the geth only works for a short time. Why would they all shut down?” asked Tali’Zorah.

Utah image came up on the main holo-display, “Because, Creator Zorah, this attack was aim at our Consensus. The viral code attempted to re-write our base programing and neutralize our higher cognitive functions, rendering all geth aware but unable to control their respective platforms. Since all current geth platforms are combat capable we decided that the best course of action was to disable all platforms and isolate ourselves behind defensive firewalls to prevent harm to Creators as well as geth.”

“Source?” I asked

“Unknown, Commander Thompson-Ramos, but before instituting isolation protocols the geth detected Reaper code similar to the one Admiral Shepard encountered on the defunct Old Machine,” said Utah.

“Keelah!” said Tali’Zorah.

Vakarian’s  mandibles twitched, “Not again.”

“You seen this before, Scars?” asked Vega.

“Yeah, back when we were hunting the Collectors we ran into Legion aboard a dead Reaper. The Heretics, the geth that attacked the Citadel with Sovereign, had a Reaper virus designed to re-write all the geth to worship the Reapers,” said Vakarian.

“Correct, Garrus Vakarian. Source of viral attack detected,” said Utah. The holo morphed into a quarian battle station. “The station main battery has yield in excess of one hundred kilotons. Enough to destroy any ship or settlement within range.”

“Hostia!” I said.

“Get President Zaal’Koris on the horn,” said the admiral. It took less than a minute to bring him up speed.

Zaal’Koris sighed, “I’m in contact with the Merchant fleet. They are ready to engage the station.”

“Creator Zaal’Koris the estimated crew of the station stands at three hundred Creators and over eleven hundred geth intelligences,” said Utah.

Zaal’Koris shook his head, “I am sorry, but as much as loath to sacrifice lives, be they organic or synthetic, I don’t have choice. The lives of millions hangs in the balance.”

If the quarians targeted the station, who ever was running the show was going to react. The Merchant Fleet had numbers and fire power but not much in the way of armor or barriers. Besides, there was not guarantee that they would stop the station from firing at Rannoch.

Someone seems to using an old playbook. Time to use it a few old plays of our own.

“Utah, where do I need to go to disable the station?” I asked

Utah highlighted two areas on the station, one labeled, “Battery control”, the other, “Main server room.”

“Perfect. Now, if you don’t mind me stealing a page from your book, admiral, I suggest we use the Kursk‘s stealth systems to close in with the station, have two strike teams board it and hit those targets before geth get hacked or the guns fire,” I said.

“Sounds like plan, who do you have in mind?” the admiral asked.

“I’ll take Pasha and Utah with me. Sergeant Hyun-joon and the rest of the marines can go after the guns,” I said.

“Not a chance. My people will go in and take care of this, just get us in there,” said Kal’Reegar.

“You’re not leaving us behind,” said Tali’Zorah. Vakarian put a hand on his wife shoulder and nodded.

“If we send too many people in, we are bound to attract unwanted attention,” I said.

“Let’s split the difference. Commander, you’re in charge of the server room. Take Vega with you. Garrus, go after the guns. Reegar, your people can back them up and secure any survivors,” said the admiral.

“Agreed,” said Zaal’Koris.

As we walked out of the War Room James asked, “So, what happens if we don’t make it in time?”

“Then Mr. Vega, we die.”

——–

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