Prone in the sand at the top of a ridge he licks his dry, weathered, and cracked lips. He has been stranded here for 4 weeks since his shuttle went down during a holding action against the reapers. Maybe it was 5 weeks? Time has become blurry, the days and nights slowly merged together being interspersed by fear and desperation.
Looking down from the ridge he pulls out an old fashion optic scope and sights his target. The harsh sun and sand have not been kind to the lens; scratch lines and a small chip slightly distort the image 500 yards down. At this range any shot he could make would only hit by a miracle. In this case a shot was no required, just a need for intel.
His target is a facility protruding from the desert sands. A large antenna assemble can be seen coming from the sand as well. The surrounding open area is littered with husk conversion spikes, jutting up from the sand giving the impression of teeth. Dropping his scope back into a vest pocket he pulls his battered M8 Avenger and check the thermal reserve. Not enough, never enough. Looking back down at the facility he sighs. “Unto the breach once more old man”.
He does not know what the reapers are doing here but when they come in and start to build it can only be bad. 6 weeks ago he had a Turian ensign and another human, a security officer, with him. The trio were the only survivors from the crash. He brings himself up to a kneeling position and scans the area once more. What was the Turian’s name again? She was tired and injured from the crash, should have never been on point but he sent her ahead anyways. One of many mistakes made over the last few weeks and it cost her life.
Speaking to no one in particular “No activity, guess the old man isn’t a threat to them.”
He lets out a breath he did not realize he was holding. Though in appearance he is old and sun weathered when he springs from his kneeling position the facade is lost. As an officer of the Alliance Navy he was drilled, and trained. Not to the extent of his Marines or their elite N7s but trained all the same. The last year of the war with the reapers and his own personal battle with them on this blazing rock over the two months has converted that training to hard-won skill. He dashes down the hills steep slope keeping his footing angled and his weapon trained, scanning his 90 degrees of responsibility. He makes it to the base of the hill in short work and unopposed.
The facility has no outer defenses, no fences or walls to keep people out. He guesses that the reapers welcome anyone who is willing to walk into a facility, easier to convert when you don’t have to chase them down. Several of the conversion spikes have sentiments in various stages. Last week before the crash he would have ended their suffering with a quick shot to the head. Today though ammo is at a premium and the sound a luxury he cannot afford. Even though the facility has no guards on the outside he makes no mistake, he is about to enter into the belly of the beast once more.
For the last few weeks he has been attempting to restore contact with the Alliance or Citadel fleet for rescue; however the reapers seem to have become pervasive to this miserable sandy rock. He has been unable to get a signal out as the spire towers generate to much interference. The marine who was once with him, an EOD tech, had overheard from a friend off the Normandy that the spires were volatile if you could get to their heart. The first spire taught them it was far more then scuttlebutt. After a brief fire fight they managed to break into its core and rig it with some explosives the tech had. They overestimated the amount of explosives required, another mistake, and another casualty.
This spire will be the 4th that he has taken out. He silently prays this one will be enough as he doesn’t have the ammo, explosives, or will to survive through a 5th. Water is scarce and food far worse. This rock is home to a few hardy rock like plants that drive roots deep into the soil. Their outer shell takes a tremendous amount of effort to crack open and the flesh barely worth the effort. The reapers seem bent on killing and converting all life in this galaxy but they ignore the rock cacti. Maybe they are smarter than him and know a lost fight when they see it.
Maybe they just lack his resolve to live.
A few moments later he is at the entrance, a sweat from the blazing sun has broken out over his brow but his breathing has remained even. He reaches for the door and pushes the activator. “No turning back.”
The hallway is dimly lit from blue glow planes. They produce enough ambient light to reveal the layout but create more shadows then anything. He is pretty sure this is the intent of the reapers; let their facilities sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt into their enemies. The corridors seem hap hazardly arranged with random doors and no markings. If you did not know where you needed to go you shouldn’t expect to find a helpful sign. The only help you would find here is from a husk trying to thrash you or a marauder who’s greeting comes from the barrel of its gun. A death trap to be sure.
Too bad he has already survived three of these. Their layout committed to his memory.
He enters the hall keeping his weapon trained forward at all times. The shadows are there to play tricks with your mind but the reapers don’t sneak about in battle. They come at you straight on.
Heel, toe. Heel, toe. Heel, toe. He advances with the confidence and grace of a seasoned warrior. His combat armour discarded last month when the power cells drained out. Left now in the sands to be forgotten, unlike him. He will make the reapers remember him and those he has lost. In a fire fight now he will rely on his wits and reaction to keep him alive. A hard lesson taught during a brief engagement in which he mistakenly relied on non-existent barriers to cover his advanced. It cost him the last of his medi-gel to bind the shot to his arm.
Right at the first junction, then down the corridor and take the 3rd door on the left. He takes cover next to the door and hits the activator switch. Things always go south from here. The door slides open and he glances in. Three husk coming off the conversion block. One has already been outfitted with a weapon; the other two are still thrashers, he shall call them scarface and one arm. Compartmentalize the task at hand and it becomes a matter of ticking off those task. Names help give task a meaning.
He glides through the door, the first two shots going into gun husk. It goes down in a spray of blood and gore as the shot tear through its head and neck. Still advancing he sights the nearest thrasher, scarface, and fires off two more shots. Both connect in the center of mass and scarface is down. He begins to sight on one arm but it will be too late as he has already closed the distance. For such ugly and decrypted creatures they have an unnatural grace to them, like an ugly gymnast who wants to feast on your corpse. He chances a shot knowing it will likely miss. It does.
In a collision of limbs, sliva, and screaming one arm, he and one arm go down to the floor. He brings his M8 between one arm and his own neck in a desperate attempt to keep him away from his throat. Thankfully one arm can only hold him down with his weight as he thrashes at his torso and snaps with his disfigured jaw. Using the rifle as a lever he shoves one arm to the side. He lashes out with his boot and connects with one arms skull. Once, twice, three times and then there is the sickening crunch he is waiting for. To another human that would mean death, or at least paralysis. To the husk a broken neck is a mild inconvenience but it’s an injury that buys him time. He draws his knife, dull, chipped, and battered from the weeks of long use and lack of care. With a brutal chop he rams the blade through one arms skull.
He gets up to his feet and collects his weapon. The base will be alerted now. No sirens will go off, or a change in colour to let you know they know you’re here. No sense in using an optical broadcast when you’re more machine then flesh. He advances through the conversion room and out the far door. His destination is nearby anyways. He can hear husk are scrambling down the hall he entered from. Time will be running short soon.
Advancing down the hall the marauder comes through the door that is his destination. “Can’t have an easy day can I?”
Still advancing he lets loose a burst from the M8 at the marauder and watches as his barriers exploded in a shower of light and electric discharge. Recoil compensated, he resighs the marauder once more and fires off another burst before it can recover. Down it goes, this time in a shower of blood and gore as the bullets meet no resistance this time. Behind him a pair of husk emerges from the conversion room. Now is the time to run.
He dashes to the door where the fallen marauder emerged from. He will have to trust his reaction speed against anything in the room, no time to stop and asses. He corners the door and catches three more husks and a marauder in the room. The marauder looks like its turain host saw better days; most of face has been replaced with cybernetics. Priority one. Advancing through the door he opens up with the M8 in full auto. The first few rounds strike the marauder, the kinetic impact as its barrier absorb the energy bring it to the floor. His barrier collapses just as he hits the floor. Still firing his weapon he slams the door access button closing it to keep the husk from down the hall from entering the fray.
The M8 runs dry at the same time that husk one stabs him in his out stretched arm. The boney blade extension slices through his forearm in a searing flash of pain. He lashes out with his good arm using the stock of his M8 as a club. The weapon strikes bloodied husk with a gratifying crunch. A shot rings out bringing him back to his senses. For all of their cybernetics and enhancements husk still have terrible aim. He drops his M8, he has no reserve thermal clips and no time to reload. He draws his Carnifax and swings around bloodied husk to act as a shield. Two more shots ring out connecting with his new husk shield, the protection it provided not lasting very long.
He has a moment to assess the situation. Off the two remaining husk in the room one has taken cover behind a console and is currently getting ready to shoot at him once more. Gun bunny is the new priority. The second husk is at a terminal and does not appear to be bother with the engagement, Tech. He shoves the body of the husk forward as gun bunny fires again and towards more solid cover. He lands hard on his injured arm and lets out a scream. Gun bunny advances around his console to get a shot at his now prone foe.
Assumptions, they always get you killed.
He rolls to his side and as gun bunny rounds the console he fires off three shots. The first connects with gunny bunny’s knee blowing it away, the second goes wide as he starts to fall, the third connects in its chest blowing a hole clean through and throwing it back into the console. He slowly gets up; there is still Tech in the room. He takes a peak over the console providing cover. Tech has not moved from his location. Looking down at the remains of Gun bunny “You smell something awful”.
Standing he puts one more round through Gun bunny’s head. A waste of a shot but rewarding all the same. He cautiously walks up to the console Tech is at and places the barrel of the gun to its head. With a resounding blast Tech’s head disappears and is thrown forward into the console. “I guess you were defective, wonder what your warranty looks like?”
This is the spire control room. The husk will shortly be through the door and he needs to gets the explosives rigged. He pulls the last of his M14 explosives and rigs them to Tech’s console. He sets the timer for 60 seconds. It’s now or never. He advances on the door just as the husk open it up. Three more shots and two fewer husk. He sprints out the door.
The next 60 seconds blur much like the last 6 weeks. He is aware that husk and marauders attempt to block his retreat but his action become automatic. At some point his pistol goes dry and then he no longer has it. The facility exit looms ahead and there he is limping, he doesn’t remember the blow, or was it a shot? He limp/runs out the door as the explosives detonate at the spire control room. In a flash of flames and blue electric discharge he is thrown forward several feet and lands hard. Luck finally breaks on him as he managed to land on his good arm. Might ask well have even injuries.
He rolls over and watches as the facility cascades into smaller explosions. The partial husks on the spikes begin to writhe and scream as their neural connection with the facility sputters and dies. A few moments later the light goes out on them as well. He brings himself up and looks towards the hill he will now have to climb to leave.
“Always up hill.”
On the bridge of the Agamemnon Specialist Oleg Karpinsky is on duty at the coms station. “Ma’am! Were receiving a distress signal on an Alliance emergency band.”
Admiral Jeem Leonheart looks up from the current reports she has been reading “Is it the IV? Open a channel.”
“No Ma’am, it’s from a planet in this systems core, channel open.”
A static image shows up on the center command console and after a few moments the image begins to clear up.
“This is Admiral Jeem Leonheart of the CDF Agamemnon responding to your distress signal. Please state the nature of your emergency.”
“Admiral? I guess the war has gone worse than we thought possible over the last few weeks. I would certainly be grateful for a pickup though.”
The bridge goes silent as the image clears up. Jeem is speaking to a ghost. “Captain Davidson? Sir, your dead.”