866: Normandy High – Chapter 13 Part 2 & Chapter 14 Part 1Posted: October 21, 2014
E: Damn it, I can never get the counter in this game down!
N: You should probably stop playing as Lucina then. I know how to do it and it’s why I’m comfortable playing Little Mac. Speaking of which, Star Punch coming your way.
E: Shit shit shit-GOD DAMN IT!
N: Nothing personal Ert, I just got to…Cornelia put the hammer down.
N: Ah crap.
E: Aw come on I just got back on the field!
C: And game, set and match.
N: Oh shit, right. So last time on Normandy High (Oh yeah, we were serious about that) they were heading down to an ice covered planet, 23 refused to explain things because honestly I think that the main character from the trailer for hatred is less of a pretentious emo twat.
WARNING! GRAPHIC VIOLENCE IN THE SECOND HALF!
C: We pick up where we left off, with the crew preparing for the mission.
“What about Shepard? She gives some challenging goals.”
“Maybe. It depends on who I meet. I don’t usually pick people to give me goals. It has to be under different circumstances.”
E: It has to be about *Mumble mumble mumble*
The conversation lulled after that. The two soldiers got back to work, which put them into a haze. There was occasional chatting between them, even more when Tali and Jack came to help. They finished the shuttle as the elevator door opened, revealing Shepard.
C: STOP! SUMMARIZING!
She stepped out, and walked towards the Kodiak as the four workers were sitting around on crates. The new armor gleamed with a brilliant luster, as the humming from the increased number of heating units provided a relaxing sound. Walking up to the group, she smiled pleasantly.
They all nodded, focusing on the Commander.
She shifted her attention to each crewmember, gazing at them slowly.
“I’ve got our information the planet. Ready for it?”
N: Why the heck do people always wait for the last second to give information on missions? I mean even to us that happens.
E: It’s a pacing thing really. Just get everything in a nice snug package. Telling them the conditions of the planet though? Really should’ve let them known about that sooner, for reasons we’ll get too soon.
she was greeted by silent nods. Quickly, she brought up a holographic image of the landing site. It was a valley, large and deep, with a cliff leading out over a large field. The cliff took a turn, which then lead into a cave.
“Apparently Cerberus found a Prothean artifact in this cave. They had no luck with deciphering it, so they left it for us to look at. Our mission is a simple inspection. I’m not expecting anything major to happen down on Adrun.”
C: Is this really something that would warrant you stopping your mission to fight the Collectors? I mean, you should have the dossiers for Thane and Samara that you should probably be working on. What are you going to do here that’s so important? Jump in and say “Yup, that’s a Prothean artifact all right,” before walking away? You’re not trained in Prothean linguistics, so why are you needed? Dear God how are you actually falling for this trap Jane? BIMBO!
Garrus inspected the landscape.
-Good sniping location. Let’s hope we don’t have any unexpected visitors-
N: Sniping location…you wanna finish that thought Garrus?
“What’s the terrain like?”
23 was curious. He’d never seen a valley like that. It would have taken incredible amounts of water over such a long time. Shepard smiled, turning to him.
E: Taken incredible amounts of water to…what? COMPLETE YOUR SENTENCES!
“I think you’ll like this. Almost the entire planet is covered in ice. Something to do with a major global climate shift in the last two thousand years.”
His eyes went wide, and sighed with an air of discontent.
Everyone gave him strange looks. Jack spoke up.
“Uh, icicle? The planets a fucking winter wonderland. What’s the problem. Too cold for you?”
23 turned to Jack, eyes displaying sarcasm.
“Not too cold. The issue is, if I’m near such large amounts of water, it’s like giving a biotic a lifetime supply of stims. The water heightens everything around me, but it’s overwhelming. Imagine if all you did was read. Then someone drops you into the biggest library in the galaxy with all the supplies you’d ever need. You would go crazy with reading.”
Shepard was slightly stunned. That had never occurred to her. It made sense though.
C: Yeah it makes sense in the magical land of bullshit. If all you ever, all you EVER, did was read then you’re already crazy with reading.
N: So is water crack now?
E: I don’t know, water isn’t exactly a complicated substance, I don’t know how Eezo has been managing to fuck it up so much.
“Are you going to be able to accompany us?”
C:…Shepard, who is the fucking Captain here, you or 23? You don’t ask “Are you going to accompany us” You say “Are you fit for the mission,” and then YOU decide if he comes or not. Combat missions are not something you sign up for and drop out of as you please. You can talk to your commanding officer about being put on a mission if you have a good reason, same for being taken off, but the point is you need your commander’s approval. From what Shepard is saying, 23 could just do whatever he wanted.
(Shepard the Shitty Leader Counter: 20)
“I’ll be fine while we’re down there. Just so long as I don’t need to recharge. I do have a request though. Could we bring some crates with us? I want to store some water for recharging. The idea of going on a suicide mission with limited water is pretty scary to me.”
E: Why are you storing water in crates? We store liquids in barrels. And why NOW are you worried about stocking up on water? And what are you going to do? Drag the crates into the Collector base?
Shepard agreed to his terms, and the five of them relaxed, waiting for the green light from Joker.
When it came, they all piled into the shuttle, filling the small space. Shepard and Jack took flight controls, Jack acting as a co-pilot. As they made their way out of the Normandy, 23 realized something. He called out to Jack, who was able to hear him from the cockpit.
“You realize that it’s going to be a bitch down there, right? You packed warm?”
Only silence greeted him, replaced with a loud “FUCK!”.
Garrus and 23 laughed, Tali giggled slightly.
N: Oh come on, if she can wear that leather strap in the void of space, she can wear it onto an ice planet.
C: On a more serious note, this is why Shepard should’ve told everyone about the planet earlier. You know. SO THEY COULD DRESS PROPERLY!
Shepard chuckled, turning to the woman sitting next to her.
“There’s a thermal jacket with some armor in the back. It should be warm enough that you’ll live.”
Jack nodded, still slightly angry at her situation.
“If things go to shit, I could just cut the Turian open and crawl inside.”
E: Why the Hell is all the pain directed at Garrus in this story?
In the back of the shuttle, Garrus looked up suddenly. 23 just stared at the cockpit.
Tali smirked under her mask.
C: Oh fuck off.
(Smirk Counter: 13)
N: We change scenes.
Miranda glanced out her window, watching the ship make it’s decent towards the planet. She sighed, arming herself. Slowly, she walked out of her room, for what would probably be the last time. Making her way over to the elevator, she stepped in. the button for the CIC lit up, and the lift began its slow ascension.
It didn’t bother her, what she had to do. She pledged herself to this organization, no matter the cost. She regretted the time lost for Shepard, but some things were bigger than her.
She readied her gun.
E: Truth be told, this is probably the best case scenario. We cut to Jeff in the cockpit of the Normandy.
The sounds of cheap porn were obtrusive, loud and tense. Joker didn’t really care. He was busy enjoying the audio track for another asari smut show, even if he was SUPPOSED to be checking the area for incoming ships. He figured he should check in with that. He turned to the black holopad.
C: OH COME ON! Mission and he’s watching fucking porn?
“EDI, anything I should know about?”
The blue holopad lit up, and the familiar blue sphere appeared.
“I have not detected any ships in this sector, or any adjacent to it.”
“You probably don’t know what to look for.”
N: Says the guy who should probably do up his fly.
EDI spoke once again, this time with a slightly annoyed inflection.
“My scanning capacity is optimal. I can scan any ship that gives off heat signatures, and several that don’t.”
Jeff didn’t really care about it’s scanning capabilities. As far as he was concerned, things were going A-ok.
That was what concerned him.
“EDI, do a scan for the metal I’m imputing.”
C:…I beg your pardon? How does that make any sense?
He typed fast. Joker would never forget the chemical composition of the armor on the first Normandy.
“I just…I have a feeling. Like something bad is—”
A warning light blared.
“Jeff, we have a code red. It appears a cloaked ship has docked with us. They will enter the Normandy any second.”
E: Where the Hell did Cerberus get ANOTHER ship with stealth systems? I thought the Normandy was a one of a kind deal.
Instantly, Joker felt a wave of panic. He dashed his arms over the panels, lighting them up with precision.
“SHIT! Open a ship wide comms channel! We need to let Shep-UGH!”
Joker felt a sharp jab to the base of his neck, and the world faded. All he heard was EDI’s questioning response.
N: Sir, we have the pilot. He’s…OH GOD! Someone put that thing away. Who? Ugh…all right everyone gather around, we’re drawing straws.
Miranda turned away from the disabled pilot. Quickly, she opened the airlock, and was met with a large collection of men clothed in black armor. One of them stepped forward. He had white hair, which betrayed his innocent facial features.
“Lawson. Good to see you.”
Miranda pursed her lips.
“You too Obediah. Are you jamming the communications?”
C: I’m sure no one will find that strange.
“Good. Make sure no one is hurt. TIM will decide what to do with them after we have 23.”
E: Shouldn’t Obediah say “Wait, who the fuck is TIM?”
Obediah turned to the soldiers, and motioned forward. The swept into the bridge, silently taking down the crew who were working at their stations. Kelly gave a small yelp, as a large man shot a tranquilizer at her. The shot caught her in the shoulder, and she stumbled briefly, before hitting the ground. Miranda was watching this all from the cockpit, when she noticed something.
Glancing down, she noticed Joker’s hand rested on the communication button. A small wave of annoyance swept over her. Turning back towards the ship, she activated the small mike she carried.
“All teams, be aware. Remaining specialists might be prepared for your arrival. Remember, non-lethal force is absolutely necessary.”
As she finished her address, the lights flickered briefly, and died. The soldiers froze, then switched to their night optics. Miranda stayed near the cockpit. The eerie setting sent her back to 23’s first day. She worked on her breathing, trying to keep calm.
-He isn’t here. Relax-
Something still ate away at her though. She couldn’t tell what it was, and she hoped she never would.
N: Non-lethal force? Why the shit is the TOTALLY EVIL CERBERUS acting with more Humanity than 23 would be if the situations were reversed? Ugh. We cut to Cerberus squads moving deeper into the Normandy
+Lambda Squad, move through the Science Lab. Watch your flanks. Former STG specialist ahead+
+Copy Omega, moving in slow. Lambda 3, take point+
The four man squad moved into the sub-chamber, prepping their rifles. They weren’t standard issue. Instead of basic ammo, they were equipped with high-powered darts, which were supposed to insure knockout within 2.7 seconds of contact. Other than that, each squadmate carried a single Predator Pistol, loaded with standard concussion rounds. Because they were slower than mass driver rounds, shields were useless.
The door silently opened, revealing a dark lab. Nothing was visible, even the emergency lights. The squad initiated their headlamps.
+We’ve got nothing here. Some overturned tables, but that’s it +
It was at that moment that Lambda 2 screamed.
+GET OUT! NOW!+
+Lambda 2, what’s wro-
He saw the chemicals fizzing. Trying to move away from them, the squad was deafened by the explosion and the rapidly expanding cloud of smoke. They turned, trying to find where they’re squadmates were when the chatter of a SMG broke the chaos.
E: Don’t suppose you could’ve told us where those chemicals were, what containers they were in or…anything really? Could you have?
+WHERE WAS HE?+
Mordin rapidly fired, three shots killing Lambda 4. He planned this entire thing immediately after hearing the intercom, raiding his stash of chemicals to form a quick and dirty trap.
N: Credit where credit is due. This sounds exactly like something Mordin would do. He’s not very physically strong so he relies a lot on sneaky and clever tricks, and has a vast knowledge of chemicals.
-Ah, good. Tetrahydrofuran reacted violently with light as expected. Smoke an unforeseen plus. Forgot about other chemicals close by-
He continued his assault. The remainder of Lambda squad took up position behind an overturned table, firing blindly over the top. A dart landed nearby, and Mordin took cover.
+Lambda, do you require assistance?+
C: No no no no, I’m fine, I’m just screaming for my life for vocal chord exercise, you guys go get-YES I FUCKING REQUIRE ASSISTANCE!
The voice on the other end rose with tension. This was supposed to be a smooth snatch and grab.
+Roger. Theta Squad en route+
+Hurry, We’ve lost 2, 4 and 5+
+Understood. Can you hold out?+
Before Lambda 1 could respond, a shriek of pain was heard, followed by a loud thump.
Omega heard scuffles on the other end, followed by screaming. Finally, it appeared that Lambda yielded.
E: What, wait just happened? We were in the lab with Lambda squad and Mordin. Where the Hell are we now and how did we get here?
A calm Salarian voice was heard over the comm. He was asking for information. Lambda 1 refused.
Omega’s eyes widened. Their target had just taken out a squad. He radioed Theta.
C: Again. Totally in character for Mordin. The guy is a doctor and he does spend his off duty time running a free clinic, but in battle he is BRUTALLY pragmatic. Just to give you an example, when mercenaries demanded protection money from him, he stunned them with nerve gas, shot them in the head while they were stunned, then hung the bodies over his clinic as a warning.
+Squad, get in there NOW!+
Mordin heard the door to his left open, and he was greeted with five more black armored soldiers. Without hesitation, he raised his gun and fired. They might get him, but they would have to fight for it.
The pistol rounds impacted Theta 3, which were absorbed by the shields.
+Take this Motherfucker down!+
multiple darts fired, which impacted the doctor, slowly, he fell to ground unconsciously.
Omega sighed. They’d lost Lambda, and the operation wasn’t even halfway completed.
E: I have to say…this part isn’t half bad. So far the Normandy crew has been going down, but they’ve been putting up enough of a fight to make it interesting. The fight scenes actually weren’t half bad, people are actually in character, and I haven’t wanted to claw my eyes out. I mean it’s far from perfect, VERY far from perfect, but it’s not half bad.
N: Hey wait a minute! They’re after 23 and he’s not on the fucking ship! Why are they attacking the Normandy?
E: Like I said, far from perfect.
+Roger, Theta. Head down the emergency shaft to the third floor. You’re to secure another specialist, a miss Kasumi Goto. Don’t worry about other crewmembers getting in your way, another squad put them down. Leave Mr. Taylor and Solus’s bodies where they are. We’ll recover them.+
The squad moved towards the ladder, quickly moving down it. Zeta and Tau squad were moving in from the Hangar, and were moving to take down Massani and the Krogan. Tau squad went first.
+Move in. BREACH!+
Silence descended over the comm. Seconds later, a response was heard from Tau leader.
+Everything’s clear. Zaeed is down+
Omega cleared them.
+Zeta, move in. Tau, cover them+
Zeta 1 moved in, opening the door. Guns were trained on the metallic barricade, but no one expected what was behind it. The door opened, and Grunt stood, armed with his claymore.
“I AM KROGAN!”
N: Welp, spine snapping tume.
He brought the gun up, blasting Zeta 1. His head disappeared from his shoulders in a spray of gore. Both squads opened fire.
+ZETA 1’S DOWN! I REPEAT, ZETA 1’S DOWN! FIRE AT WILL!+
The gunfire lit up the hallway. Various darts connected with Grunt’s flesh, while most bounced off his armor. The drugs didn’t have the effect Zeta squad hoped. Instead of knocking him out, they sent him into a blood rage. Which was very bad, considering they were in close quarters.
C:…Wat? Tranquilizer sends Grunt into a blood rage? I mean…I know there’s biological gaps between races, but that just sounds stupid. Also, they knew that they were going to be fighting a Krogan. You’d think that they’d bring some stronger stuff
Grunt growled monstrously, and charged forward, gun forgotten. He grabbed Zeta 3 by the chest, and slammed the soldier against the wall with two-ton force. The sound of bones shattering filled Tau and Zeta squad’s mikes, and 3’s screams could be heard in the CIC.
+FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!+
Grunt dropped the dead soldier. He turned rapidly, bringing his right fist to bear, and full on punched Zeta 2 in the head. If it wasn’t for the helmet, Grunt’s fist would have gone through the infiltrators head.
Tau 5 screamed, charging the raging Krogan with his fists.
E: *Snort* Good luck with that buddy. Also what happened to Zeta 2?
N: Fell into the void of nothingness.
Grunt turned to him, grabbing his hand. What happened next would forever haunt the rest of Tau squad. The Krogan pulled backwards, causing Tau 5 to screech with agony, as his hand gave way, ripping off his arm. Grunt held the hand like a prize, gazing at it while 5 screamed incoherently. Annoyed at the incessant sound, Grunt brought his occupied hand back, and swung. Tau 5 died by his own hand, which broke his neck from the pressure of a Krogan.
C: Isn’t that a Locust execution from Gears of War 3?
E: Hm…it is. Eezo might have taken this from the multiplayer beta.
Zeta 2 watched the entire thing. Quickly, he pulled out a serrated knife that had seen combat before. He was quite proud of what he’d accomplished with it.
N: Like *Mumble mumble mumble*
Rapidly approaching Grunt, 2 was aware that this wouldn’t be the first Krogan he would kill with the blade.
C: Care to elaborate? Also, what is your plan to kill a Krogan, one of the toughest races in the galaxy, with a god damn knife?
This particular one had a different plan however.
Grunt caught 2’s arm, staring into the soldiers face. Roaring with anger, he grabbed the man by the throat, lifting him up. He swung, throwing him through the window of the Hangar. Before the squads could react, Grunt jumped over the window, falling towards the ground. Landing, he walked to the man lying on the ground.
C: You don’t have one, lovely.
Silently, Omega activated another mike. Time for the test.
+Test subject in place. Release her+
Grunt approached the soldier. He was dying, slowly. The Krogan felt a great joy derived from seeing his enemies defeated. He boasted to the injured man.
“Feel honor knowing that you died in battle. Under my hand.”
Zeta 2 just spit at his feet, looking up at Grunt, he spoke with what power he could.
“At….At least I..I don’t have to face Her.”
N: You know if your own men are terrified of Subject 47 and she’s in a position where she can punish them for failure, then you really need to rethink your command structure
Gazing up, Zeta 2 gargled on his last breath, shards of glass piercing the back of his neck. He died.
Grunt turned, looking for a new opponent. Turning, he found one.
She was sitting down, looking at the floor. Grunt watched her, and an uneasy feeling came over him.
E: Uh, how long has she been there?
“Prepare yourself. I will not fight with idiots who cannot prepare themselves.”
Slowly, she stood. Something was off when she did though. Almost as if she was too flexible. Hesitantly, she turned around, and moved into the light.
Grunt felt fear, but this was different. Revulsion was new to him.
She had no face. She looked as if she was smoothly carved from a dark red stone, which somehow absorbed all the light. He watched her, and she slowly approached him. He couldn’t move. Couldn’t think. He was helpless, caught in some web that even the blood rage could not free him of. Slowly, her eyes started to appear. Then he saw them.
+Omega, this is Tau 1. Subject 47 has secured the Krogan. We’re done here+
N: That’s it? Chapter stops here…Well shit, that’s actually pretty creepy. Much better than the cliche canned screaming we got from her first appearance. This half of the chapter was far from brilliant, more half baked thoughts and summarizing, not to mention we only got to see two crew members, but it was half decent. Mainly because 23 was nowhere to be found. Let’s ruin that little streak of joy. There’s a boring author’s note at the start with Eezo explaining things he really shouldn’t have to, but there’s also this.
Subject 47 will be explained in later chapters. All you need to know is that she is another Cerberus experiment (Yes, a she. SHE. You got a problem with that?)
E:…You. Don’t. Get. To. Fucking. Talk.
and SHE, is very. VERY scary. She also has a connection to 23, so go ahead and try to figure out what that is. I can already hear the debate now. (Is she Lyla? OMG. ANOTHER CHARACTER? SO MAAAANY POSSIBILITIES!)…I’m sorry. If I come across as being overtly silly in this beforeChapt, it’s because I’m uploading at 2:12 in the morning. I’m not giving anything away. She COULD be Lyla. She COULD be another SI, she COULD be Jack’s long lost sister. All of these are possible. The question is, which are bullshit, and which aren’t? (those three possibilities are not the limit of what could be. just some examples I heard when I proposed this story line)
C: Lyla (OH YEAH THAT GIRL HAD A NAME! I FORGOT!) is the most obvious answer. I mean think about it. 47 is female, the only person besides 23 who was involved in the whole experiment whose name we learned, it being someone else would be a mystery ending where the culprit is revealed to be someone we never met before. See, that’s why I wasn’t a huge fan the reveal in Lair of the Shadow Broker. We finally learn about the Shadow Broker, one of the most powerful people in the Mass Effect universe…and it’s a person we never heard about from a race we never knew about…what a twist?
The Kodiak dropped through the atmosphere, cutting the think layer of clouds like a knife. The atmosphere on Adrun was obviously cold, and snow was falling at any given time. The shuttle made it’s way towards the cliff overlooking a valley.
Shepard scanned the landing site, making sure the spot was secure. Briefly, she tried to contact the Normandy, but the signal couldn’t get through.
-Must be cloud cover. I’m sure things are going fine-
E: Yeah, because communications designed to reach a ship in orbit can be stopped by fucking CLOUDS! I’m pretty sure that it’s not just radio either, pretty sure it’s a new more advanced method of long distance communication. Christ Jane, you suck.
(Shepard the Shitty Leader Counter: 21)
Coming to a stop, the shuttle’s landing boosters kicked in, slowly lowering the small aircraft onto the ground. Glancing around from the cockpit, Shepard nodded shortly, and stepped back into the rest of the compartment with Jack behind her. Tali and Garrus were in full armor, hoping to avoid dealing with the wind. Shepard attached her helmet, turning on the heating coils in her suit. Jack grumbled briefly, moving towards the small armor locker, relieving it of its bare contents.
23 just watched, his ice armor covering his regular clothing. Jack finished putting on the slim leather jacket, and the door slowly opened.
N: Uh yeah, I think you’re gonna need a little more than that Jack. Mainly because a lot of body heat escapes through your head and I don’t see anything covering that shiny dome of yours. Next few paragraphs are nothing interesting, gathering snow for everyone’s little Stu, Jack complains about being cold and is probably gonna die of hypothermia, until finally they get around to doing what they came here for and find the cave.
Smiling, Shepard turned. They walked along the outside of the valley, spotting the large cave. Alicia’s eyes widened. Cerberus mentioned that the cave was large, but she didn’t expect something like this.
The cave opened like a giant maw, almost as if it were waiting to envelope them forever. The mouth of the cave was huge, almost 300 ft wide, at least 400 ft tall. The ceiling of the entrance was flat along the top, which stretched out for a long while.
Garrus and Jack stared at the giant opening, looks of respect in their eyes. They both found the large destination impressive, if not a little unnerving.
“Shepard, How heavy do you think that roof is?”
Alicia did a quick calculation, measuring the ice. Her eyes widened further when she saw the number.
“Garrus, let’s just say that we wouldn’t be getting out anytime soon.”
C: So what? We get a precise measurement on the entrance but not on the roof’s weight? Is consistency really too much to ask for?
At this, Jack piped up, hoping to maintain some of her attained credit. She was not going to be
viewed as less of a threat than a cave.
“Let’s grow a pair. Nothing is going to happen worth shit.”
N: Jack cares about her reputation. Apparently.
The three moved forward, while Tali felt herself lagging behind. Briefly, she turned, wondering where 23 was. She found him, staring off into the ice field a few feet back. She walked over to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. He just turned to glance at her, then continued to stare out. Tali decided to see what was bugging him.
“Are you ok?”
23 turned his head once more, eyes betraying conflict. Slowly, her hand slipped down his arm to her side.
“I…I don’t know. This place is wonderful, but…”
He sighed deeply, then continued.
“I just…feel something. There isn’t supposed to be something here. I’ve gotten these feelings before, but…I don’t know anymore.”
Tali stepped closer, unaware that her hand was close to his.
“Maybe it’s the ice. Is it affecting you?”
He gave a short chuckle.
“No…It’s almost like it goes away in this place.”
Her hand drew closer to his, dangerously close to contact. Neither of them were aware of the fact.
“It’s like, all the bad memories go away. I can just lose myself in the ice. The entire planet, it’s like one breathing creature. One giant collection of relaxation.”
E: Oh for the love of Christ 23. If it’s bothering you that much, then just go fuck a block of ice already. Get it out of your system so that we don’t have to listen about you fantasize over hardened water.
Tali frowned underneath her mask. Without any warning, their hands touched. Her forefinger and middle slowly worked there way around his, testing them. 23 didn’t appear to notice, and so the conversation continued.
“I don’t think I understand.”
23 brought his other hand up, pointing out at the landscape. The blue sun was just making it’s rise, and the edge of the storm was visible above it.
“When I look at that, I see all of it. Water exists within all life, all natural creation. But this landscape is more alive than any jungle, ocean, or other place I’ve been. To me, it’s just there. Water flowing, moving, creating.”
Tali stared out where he was pointing. He was right, actually. It was quite beautiful. Finally, her hand won the battle, slipping into his without hesitation.
23’s voice continued, above a whisper.
N: Yes, we get it. Ice is the best thing since sliced bread. The North Pole is heaven. A death by hypothermia is a happy death. CAN WE MOVE FORWARD!?
their hands danced, gripping each other with light affection. His hand felt like glass, smooth and cracked all over the palm, with lines running down the fingers. Tali felt as if her chest were slowly inflating. The simple joy that he wasn’t pulling back was comforting.
That comfort was shattered when 23 noticed what was happening. Glancing down, he noticed the two hands.
“Oh. Sorry, I didn’t see you’re hand there. My bad.”
C: We’re gonna have to deal with more awkward romance aren’t we?
He let go suddenly, turning towards the cave. Tali watched him look past. The quick moment had come and gone, and while 23 wasn’t angered by it, the fact that he brushed it off so lightly was painful.
-Maybe he’s just focused. It was an accident-
a small voice in her head popped up.
-That wasn’t an accident. You WANTED to hold his hand-
E: Tali, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. NO ONE FUCKING CARES!
grumbling, she mentally yelled at the small voice. 23 poked her shoulder, while she remained oblivious. She glanced up at him, eyes wide with confusion. He motioned towards the cave.
“Shouldn’t we catch up?”
they both turned to find the three other squad mates casually making strides towards the mouth of the cave. Tali turned to him nodding, and they both set off to meet the group.
N: BUT WE HAS ROMANCE! Who cares if Subject 47 is playing connect the dots with Grunt’s intestines? ROMANCE!
The wind whipped over the ice-covered landscape. Snow jumped and danced over the ground, which was smooth and curved along the ridge of the cliff. The snow-drifts were large, almost sculpted. Something existed where it should not have, but the white armor prevented any loose notice. The two soldiers waited in the snow, rifles aimed. Finally, a voice came over their headspeakers.
+Delta Squad, this is Omega. Do you have the Owl in sight?+
The leftmost agent spoke barely above a whisper.
+Copy that. Owl and Co. have arrived+
+Roger. Activate the welcoming gift once they are in position. Maintain radio silence until then+
The mike switched off, and both soldiers watched the five-man squad work it’s way into the cave. Once they disappeared from sight, the first one turned to the next.
The other pressed a small detonator, and a beep was all that was heard.
E: Wait, why are we killing Commander Shepard again?
N: BECAUSE EVIL!
23 heard the cracks far before they became audible. Looking up, he saw them. He grabbed Tali’s hand, who was stunned at the sudden movement. Running ahead, he screamed at Shepard.
“RUN! THE CAVE’S COLLAPSING!”
Alicia, Garrus and Jack all turned to see the ceiling behind Tali and 23 shatter, then fall to the ground, burying the entrance. Shepard turned and bolted, the four specialists behind her.
Tali sprinted full speed, while 23 and Garrus were right behind Jack. The large cracks cascaded over their heads, soon falling and crushing the spot they were moments before. The debris was catching up, and the run was still a fair distance. The cave narrowed slightly towards the end, and Shepard knew that once they got there, it would be safe.
Garrus couldn’t think, couldn’t focus. He was running, dodging ice, sprinting faster than he knew he could.
Tali ran, neck to neck with 23, who sprinted with his arms low to his side. He looked like an eagle taking flight. Something he learned when training with the Assassins.
C: Yeah, the rare humanoid ice cube that looks like an Eagle about to take flight. A very rare breed.
They were within reach, when disaster struck.
During the run, Jack’s left foot caught in a small crack in the floor, which sent her tumbling. The others ran past, while 23 turned to grab her.
23 ran back to her, grabbing her arm. Pulling Jack to her feet, they both got back to running. They moved quickly, fighting to move away from the danger.
Tali looked back, only to see 23 and Jack enveloped in a white blur of ancient snow and ice. Garrus and Shepard were catching their breath when they heard their friend yelling.
“No! Shepard! Help me. 23 and Jack, they…they…They’re still alive! I can’t dig them out alone!”
N: MY HUSBANDO! NO! YOUR WAIFU WILL SAVE YOU!
Garrus glanced at Alicia, who returned the action. They both stood in silence, watching Tali desperately dig through the large mountain of ice. Shepard felt pity grasp her. Her friend’s desperation hurt her, and Alicia couldn’t just tell Tali to give up.
Shrugging, the bulky Turian moved to her side, avoiding the snow she was throwing behind her. They dug, but to no avail. Just before they gave up hope, however a sign of life appeared.
An ice covered hand emerged from a pile, which the three of them helped pull. Within minutes, 23 and Jack were out, with one small problem.
“How bad does it hurt?”
Jack gave the Turian a rude gesture while nursing her leg.
E: Oh no! Her leg has been *Mumble mumble mumble*.
N: Can no one on this site explain ANYTHING!?
“I’ve been through worse. I don’t think I can walk though.”
Slowly, Shepard and Garrus pulled Jack off the ground. 23 watched, eyes wide. If something else happened in the cave, they were a man down. That didn’t bode well without support from the Normandy.
A small shriek of pain was heard, and a dull smack echoed in the cramped cavern.
“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?”
Garrus backed up, arm on the left side of his face. A look of shock adorned his features, which Shepard glanced over at.
“What was that for?”
Jack grumbled, muttering about a certain Turian dropping her on an injured leg. Tali crossed her arms, staring at Shepard with a questioning look. Rolling her eyes, Jack turned to 23.
“Help me wrap this thing. Don’t want clumsy, over there doing a half-assed job.”
C: OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE! Author, at what point did you take a look at Garrus fucking Vakarian and say “Yeah I’m gonna make it so that he can’t tie his shoelaces without someone holding his hand.” I mean can he do ANYTHING in this story?
The squad waited until 23 had finished. Testing her injured leg, Jack felt satisfied that she was capable of moving, which spurned the group onwards, down into the small circular cave. Shepard took lead, with Garrus and 23 following close. Tali helped Jack move, acting as a third leg and providing something to lean on. Trying to move the debris in the main cave was a bad idea, since it weighed more than a fully loaded fuel tank.
N:…well that’s helpful to know.
The walk down the cave was quiet, peaceful. Light reflected off of the ice, which turned everything a dark blue shade. Somehow, the glow was slipping in from above. 23 assumed that everything above them was clear. Perhaps it opened onto a giant plain, where the wind blew the snow about.
Trudging on, Alicia couldn’t help but wonder. What went wrong? The cavern had collapsed without any logical reason. Given her numerous travels, and the situations she had been placed in, one thing made sense to Shepard.
But who? Cerberus? That wouldn’t make sense. The group spent billions to bring her back. They wouldn’t kill her for no reason. No, it had to be someone else.
E: Jane, you’re expecting Cerberus to be logical. No one is logical in this story.
The squad continued until something blocked their next step. Two caves split off into either direction, presenting a difficult decision for Shepard. Before she could make her choice, 23 intervened.
Alicia turned, looking him in the eye.
“Are you sure?”
“It’s the only direction that has metal. I can feel it blocking some water.”
C: How long until we hear about how water makes 23 a master in bed?
(Because Water Counter: 17)
Turning to Garrus, who glanced at her, Shepard made her choice. The group headed right, walking through the narrow tunnels.
The silence became overwhelming, which the squad opted to cut short. Small talk appeared between Tali and Jack over shotguns while 23 and Shepard discussed uses of stealth. Since Shepard was trained as an Infiltrator, the conversation was very lively. Garrus cut in occasionally with a comment, but remained silent for most of the duration.
This was as good a time as any to think, which Garrus needed to do. His feelings for Shepard were difficult to process, and the close proximity was making it harder to think of anything else. He frowned. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Even back in C-Sec, Officer Vakarian was the cool-headed cop, the one who always on task, even if he pushed the red tape often.
N: Fucking…fucking COOL HEADED COP!? Garrus was a cowboy cop through and through! He was the one who wanted to kick the door down and go in guns blazing! Has this author played any of the Mass Effect games? Because I seriously fucking doubt it.
Shepard was destroying that image of him.
E:…Is he honestly fucking blaming her for not being able to live up to his dillusions?
Times he was supposed to be working on calibrations were rendered a waste of time due to his mind wandering. He woke from dreams of the two of them, lying on a beach, or in the throws of passionate love. Each of these times caused his rapid awakening, usually ending with a bruised forehead, courtesy of the bunk above him.
-Maybe I’ll ask Mordin about interspecies relationships. He might know a little about that-
Garrus made up his mind. After this mission was over, he would check with the doctor. Nothing would continue to put this on hold. Nothing, except Sidonis.
C: What’s that? Sidonis? Well you see Sidonis is…not going to be mentioned again so who cares…FOCUS!
Shepard listened to 23 talk about a assassination from Italy. It ended as it always did, with 23 and this friend “Ezio” running away from the police. She liked the story, but they were getting a little old. Each one sounded fairly similar.
“So when we got back, we celebrated.”
At this, Garrus pipes in.
“Especially with girls. You know those Italians. They love their prostitutes.”
E: All Italians in the audience please proceed to the atitorium. You will be issued cricket bats for the beating of 23’s ass.
E: Caesar you can use Hamon.
N: Author two things. One, stop fucking mentioning Assassin’s Creed every two seconds. It was stupid when you introduced it and it hasn’t stopped being stupid. Two. Stop mentioning 23 being a ladies man. It was stupid when you introduced it and it hasn’t stopped being stupid.
Tali almost tripped. Did she just hear what she thought she did?
23 turned, nodding. Tali raised her arms, crossing them angrily. Garrus stared at her confusedly, while Shepard looked at 23 expectantly. Answering her, 23’s voice came through slightly confused.
“Er, yeah. Why?”
Tali considered raising her voice, but it wasn’t the time. She would question him like she did Garrus, with a slight inflection of annoyance.
“Nothing. I just didn’t think you were one to use women like that.”
C: Considering I use prostitutes myself and am pro-sex I can’t criticize 23 for using prostitutes. I will however laugh out loud at how naive Tali is for thinking her boy toy would never put his dick in someone else. Also it shows how much she understands him. Not at all.
23’s shoulders instantly relaxed, relief visible in his eyes. Tali frowned. Why wasn’t he tense anymore?
“Then you would be right. I have a history, but that doesn’t mean I view women that way. Hopefully that clears the problem up?”
N: Oh yeah? Mr. “We can have some fun with the underage prisoners who Cerberus wants me to rape” doesn’t view women that way? Fuck off.
C: Author, don’t try and paint yourself as respecting women, you don’t have the emotionally maturity for it.
He sounded annoyed, almost like someone was trying to blame him for a crime he didn’t commit. Tali immediately felt abashed, lowering her head slightly. What in the world caused her to act so hostile?
-How could I act so stupid? It’s his right to do whatever he wants…with whoever he wants to-
23 just nodded. Tone of voice sounding lenient.
N: Yet more battered person syndrome. Tali apologizing for fucking everything.
The rest of the walk went on uninterrupted, conversation switching back to normal. Shepard was left wondering something though.
-Prostitution is illegal in Italy. When did he throw a party with them? And who the hell are the Borgia?-
the squad walked down another corridor, ending in what appeared to be a giant room. 23 noted it.
-This must be it-
“So, 23. I’m a bit confused. When did you visit Italy?”
E: Surprised it took her this long to put two and two together.
(Shepard the Shitty Leader Counter: 22)
they kept walking, close to the entrance. 23 spoke as they passed the threshold.
“Well, that’s a long sto—”
he turned, as did the rest of them. Before the squad rested a giant cavern, blue light glowing within the ice. In the middle of the large circular room, a spire rose out of the ground, almost touching the high ceiling. The size and wonder of the room didn’t capture them. What did was the large amounts of machinery.
Ancient terminals covered the walls, wires ran underneath ice, which occasionally glowed with red lights. The wires all headed towards a giant metal arch, which opened into a small circular room covered in metal plates.
23 stopped in his tracks. He stared at the machines all around, and felt a wave of excitement.
-Another…I never thought I’d find one!-
E: OH NOES! He didn’t get to finish his sentence…and with that we’re gonna have to stop here because we’re getting too bloated. Join us next week as we finally learn how 23 came to be in the ME universe. And let me tell you. It’s dumb.