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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 6 (c.2) – Preservers


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Battlestation 1, In orbit over Rannoch, Tikkun, Perseus Veil, October 3, 2196

The assault team entered through a secondary airlock. Utah came last, “wearing” his own geth platform. Colonel Reegar sent lieutenant Veetak with us.  The rest of the quarian marines went with Tali’Zorah and Garrus Vakarian.  I cloaked and took point.  Track lights along the corners of the floors and ceilings illuminated the interior of the station in a faint blue glow. As I rounded the corner a single frozen drop of blood past my visor. Bullet holes marred the walls.  The trail of droplets led me to six quarians corpses that hung in space at odd angles.  At the end of the corridor two geth platforms floated in a cloud of ceramic and plastic.

“I got bodies here,” I said over the radio.

“We found the same thing here,” replied Reegar.

Vega glanced at Utah, “I thought the geth were on our side.”

Pasha carefully weaved around the bodies. He scanned the geth with his omni-tool, “These are not geth,” he said.

“They sure look like geth to me,” said Vega.

“They are geth platforms loaded with advanced combat VIs. If they had been geth they memory cores would be wiped,” said Pasha.

“Then where are they?” I asked.

“Unknown,” said Utah.

“Right. Everybody move,” I said.

We dodged several patrols along the way. Near the server room a side door opened and a male quarian appeared. He spotted Vega and pressed a button on his omni-tool. Vega tackled him against the nearest bulkhead. The track lights flashed red. Lieutenant Veetak slapped a pair of handcuffs on the quarian.

“One of Xen’s terrorist,” said Veetak.

“Isn’t that the crazy admiral that wanted to dissect Legion?” asked Vega.

“Yes, anti-synthetic fanatics who want to quote ‘liberate the quarians from the geth’ or so they claim,” said Veetak.

“Well, they know we are here now,” I said.

We double timed it to the server room. Pasha hacked the door while the rest took positions on either side. The doors opened and revealed a large room filled with server nodes in neat rows. The rectangular nodes with their blinking lights resembled a night diorama of a modern city.  A dozen geth units turned toward us. In the center stood a dais, with several control panels. On it  a female quarian glanced at us, arms across her chest.

“So the cowardly Zaal’Koris calls on the Alliance to save his precious geth?” said the quarian.

“Daro’Xen vas Moreh, you are under arrest by the authority of the Conclave. Lay down your weapons and step away from the console,” said lieutenant Veetak.

“Oh really, well it seems we are going to do this the hard way then,” said Xen. She pressed a button on one of the consoles. Veetak responded by firing a burst at her head. The space around the dais shimmered. The geth units opened fire. We dove for cover amongst the knee high server nodes. Pasha, Utah and I hacked three of them which turned on the others. A pair of double doors opened on the far side of the room. A squad of geth units came in firing as they entered the room. I slid into the familiar embrace of the Zone. My mind cataloged the threats: an endless supply of hostile geth units, two entrances to the server, a kinetic barrier invulnerable to small arms fire and a terrorist with her finger on sixty kilotons of city busting destruction.

“Vega, Veetak, suppressive fire on the entrance on the far side. Pasha, drop a rocket drone on the incoming geth and hack as many enemies as you can. Utah, seal the doors behind us. I’ll cover you,” I said.

“Got it,” said Vega.

“On it, commander,” said Veetak.

“Drone deployed,” said Pasha.

“Acknowledged,” said Utah.

I radioed the second team, “Colonel Reegar, what’s your status?”

“We are in the battery control room but under heavy fire by geth units. Tali’Zorah is trying to unlock the controls,” said Reegar.

Tali’Zorah came over the radio, “The station is changing firing position. It’s targeting the Conclave.”

A single shot from the twin Thanix cannons would obliterate the heart of the city, killing hundreds of thousands.

I switched frequencies, “SSV Kursk, this is commander Thompson-Ramos, do you copy?”

“We copy, commander,” said navigator Johnson.

“Have the Merchant Fleet stand by to open fire on the station on my command,” I said.

There was a short pause then Johnson spoke up, “Understood commander.”

Traces crisscrossed the room. The barrier bubble did not flashed as a single unit when struck from all sides. Instead, three distinct areas lit up. That meant that each side had it’s own projector anchored at the base of the dais. I cloaked and ran toward the dais. Once I reached the base I ripped a panel and scanned the interior with my omni-tool. A series of schematics popped up on my visor screen.

No time to shut it down but if I shunt power to the other projectors I may be able to overload this side with my omni-blade.

The nearest projector flickered.  I stabbed the barrier and it vanished in a burst of sparks. Startled, Xen drew her side arm. I vaulted over the control panels and kicked her in the stomach. She slammed against the kinetic barrier and bounced around the bubble. I grabbed her by the arm and pinned her, face down, against the floor.

“Pasha, Utah, front and center!” I said.

Both jumped through the gap in the barrier and set to work on the control panels.

“Hacking control overrides.”

“Viral infection detected.”

“Overriding cannon controls.”

“Deactivating combat VIs.”

“Sanitizing server nodes.”

“Viral attack code quarantined.”

I imitated Utah neutral tone, “Quarian terrorist  threat neutralized.”

Hours later, after a company of quarian marines secured the station.  We joined Admiral Shepard planet side. The Conclave was packed to capacity with quarian politicians and spectators.

The Minister of Justice took the floor to pass sentence on Xen and her followers, “You are accused of terrorism, murder, crimes against synthetics, attempted slavery, attempted mass murder, attempted genocide and treason against the quarian people. How do you plead?”

“I don’t recognize the authority of this court,” said Xen. She kept her full suit on even on Rannoch’s surface.

The corner of Raan’s lip curled upward, “Is that so?” She turned to the nearest geth representative who tower over all of us in a crimson geth prime unit, “Since the bulk of these crimes were directed at the geth, it is only appropriate that we turn the accused over to them.”

The geth responded in a deep robotic voice, “We have no need for correction facilities but we would like to study Creator Xen to understand her continued hostility toward the geth. Such studies would include dissection of key areas such as the brain in order to find the source of her aberrant behavior.”

“You…you can’t do this! This…this is outrageous!” cried Xen.

“I take it then that you accept the jurisdiction of the Conclave?” asked Raan.

“Yes, of course,” said Xen.

“Then you are here by sentence to life in prison without parole,” said Raan. Marines removed her and the other convicts from the Conclave.

President Zaal’Koris took the floor and thanked the Alliance and the crew of the Kursk for their aiding the quarian people on their time of need. He made special mention of Pasha’s contribution and held him as an example for future generations. I never seen the kid blushed a deeper purple.

He then turned to the matter of the days celebrations, “Today we celebrate our return to the home world. We also to remember the journey that took from it and back again. Our history, a painful litany of curiosity, misunderstandings and fear,  is forever intertwined with that of our creations, the geth. Much has changed since they awoke to conciseness and that word no longer applies to them as they are no longer our servants. Once they were the embodiment of our fears. Today we work together to forge a new future not only for ourselves and each other but for the galactic community. From this day forth we shall refer to our synthetic friends not as servants, but as Preservers. Preservers of our past, guardians of our present and companions in our journey to the future.”

The Conclave rang with a joyous chorus, “Keelah se’lai!”

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