War Room of the SSV Kurks SR-3, In low orbit over Ludwika, Isseo system, Maroon Sea Cluster, April 11, 2198
The chief communications tech spoke up, “Commander, incoming shuttle from the surface. ID as a Colonial Defense Force shuttle with one General Skelton aboard. She wishes to come aboard.”
“Permission granted. Vega, have marines escort her here.”
“Ok jefe,’ Vega said. Vega came back a few minutes later with General Skelton and another CDF officer. Her armor showed streaks of mud and a half melted left pauldron. “Commander Thompson-Ramos, General Susan Skelton of Ludwika’s Colonial Defense Forces,” said Vega.
We shook hands, “Looks like you walked out right of the battlefield, general.”
She inserted an OSD into the holo-projector, “Aye I did and this is what we have been fighting.”
The hologram of the alien insect filled the center of the war room. Jack let out a short but potent stream of expletives. I turned around to face her, “I take it you seen these things before?”
“They are some kind of fire breathing Tuchanka bugs that, get this, explode when you kill them,” she said.
“Whatever they are, that is not the half of it,” General Skelton said. The still imaged switched to a video of hundreds of klixen charging a barricade. Each one also glowed a deep blue.
“That’s fucking great, they got biotics too,” said Jack. The video confirmed her assessment as the klixen used a variety of biotic powers to slam soldiers around and tear them apart in globes of dark energy. Then came the pièce de résistance, thresher maws covered in metallic plates, spewing energy beams from their mouths and above them circled dozens of harvesters.
“They pop up from the ground grab or eat anything organic, crops, livestock, people, and dismantle everything else. We spent the last twenty-four hours fighting to keep evacuation corridors open. But once you get far enough away from them, they simply go back to ripping apart anything in sight and dragging it underground.”
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary.
Utah voice came through the intercom, “According to the current scientific consensus the klixen are a highly territorial omnivorous species from the planet Tuchanka that primarily lives underground and goes to, quote war unquote, when they detect a rival klixen colony in their territory. The colony’s queen births a warrior whose job is to fight off the invader until the rival queen has died or left their territory. Current behavior fits the observed pattern but at a much larger scale.”
“Does that include biotics and reaper tech?” asked Vega.
“The inclusion of those elements are beyond the scope of current understanding of the species’ behavioral patterns. However, observations point to a symbiotic relationship between klixen and the species known as ‘harvesters’. Cooperation with enhanced thresher maws appears to follow a similar pattern,” Utah said.
“So what do you need from us, general?” I asked.
“Troops, supplies, and shelter for my people. We have to stop them before we can take them out, somehow,” she said.
“I’ll put a priority call to the Prime Minister and the Citadel Council. With luck you should have a few brigades of marines coming your way plus as much humanitarian supplies as the Alliance can muster.”
“Right now that will have to do.” We shook hands again and the general departed.
The intercom blared again. It was Navigator Johnson, “Sir ANN is reporting that four more colonies are under attack. The human colonies of Martel and New Lyons, and two other turian colonies.”
When it rains it pours.
“Why these colonies?” I asked aloud.
Utah replied, “All of these colonies are major agricultural centers. The three human colonies provide over twenty-two percent of all agricultural products within Alliance space. The turian colonies provide thirty-seven percent of all foodstuffs to the Hierarchy.”
Dammit. Wait, I’ve heard of those colonies before.
“Utah, search all mission files for the name of these colonies. Expand your search to include TR-S files as well,” I said.
“One moment. All three human colonies were targeted by batarian extremist and Cerberus forces in recent years.”
“Utah, send all relevant information to the Spectre office on the Citadel under personal encryption and set up a query for any agents that have any relevant information pertaining to our current situation with an emphasis on Cerberus and klixen. Navigator Johnson set a course for New Arcturus.”