Deep in the memetic and optimistic layers of the Internet lies a tavern. A watering hole for those who have been crushed or daunted by the cutthroat business of life and pop culture commentary.
Bartender and owner is the Digital Desperado, a man who writes and fights for game criticism, a more thoughtful look at nerd material and isn't above mixing something heady to help when clear answers aren't available
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Multiverse Desperado: A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 6 Part 1
Chapter 6: Team
Trust Exercise Part 1
I get the distinct
impression that the universe has a sick sense of humor. Within the
span of a few hours of a therapy session where I found out that
Shepard's crew has some flavor of distrust or disinterest of me, I am
now in a fight for my life with that exact same crew being my only
“Get these doors
closed goddammit!” Shepard roared, his assault rifle blaring
through the impregnable white out blizzard.
I was on his flank
laying down cover fire on our monstrous assailants with my SMG, in
focused semi-auto bursts of course, “Come on Tali, you got this!”
I yelled over my shoulder. Turning back to see if she was fine was a bad idea. A horrific
pale white tendril lashed through the cold towards me with lethal
intent. Shepard managed to reduce it to gooey chunks before it took
my head off.
We continued moving
back through the threshold of the giant reinforced steel doors, Tali
on the inside pounding away on her Omni-Tool frantically. Shepard and
I stepped through and continued firing at the sight of tendrils or
skittering insectoid legs. My SMG finally overheated and locked up, I
swore under my breath. I switched to my pistol and continued blasting
away while getting behind Shepard. With the way he handled his
assault rifle and stayed so cool under pressure I found myself taking
back how white bread he looked.
“Doors are closing
now!” Tali announced! She slid to my side and let loose some blasts
from her shotgun, shredding some more of the threatening hoard in the
swirling white. The following twenty seconds was nothing but the
drumming of military weapons, the shrieking and screams of our
enemies, and some loud determined war cries. Mostly from me. I've
only been doing this for like two years, leave me alone.
Then the doors
finally closed and sweet sweet silence followed.
Shepard and I
removed our helmets once the doors sealed and the building's
atmospheric generator and heating system kicked on, breathing in
sighs of relief. We looked at each other briefly, though I broke eye
contact first. If I was better at reading faces I'd say he was glad
to have me around.
sighed, slumping down near the console as she put away her shotgun,
“can someone tell me what we just got ourselves into?”
I took some breaths
to help calm myself and spoke first.
Matriarch Benezia has been making a nest of rachni,” I wiped some
sweat off my brow and checked my weapons, they had finally cooled
Shepard cocked an
eyebrow at me but actually managed a flit of a smile towards me. “So
that's why you insisted we brought the full team planetside. You knew
Benezia was working on something major for Saren.”
through days of red tape and bureaucracy at Binary Helix doesn't it?”
“If it wasn't for
the fact that Noveria is out of Citadel jurisdiction, that would have
gone by a lot faster.”
“That does beg the
question, Variza. How did you know there was an investigator willing
to help us track down Benezia if we found evidence of corruption on
Administrator Anoleis?” Tali asked.
out is all. Her cover wasn't that good,” I lied. Tali seemed to buy
chit-chat is over, we have to rendezvous with the rest of the team.
Move out.” Shepard ordered. We put our helmets back on and got
It's amazing how
quick a situation can go from normal to the absolute worst, even when
you see it coming. It all started with a report from Alliance command
about sighting the asari Matriarch Benezia at the Peak 15 research
facility on Noveria. It was suspected for a while she was working for
Saren, although the army of Geth we fought through to get here made
that a confirmation. Of course before all of that we had to deal with
corporate intrigue and espionage, the kind that you can't get rid of
even with the lateral powers that be of a Spectre, and it was beyond
tedious. Thank goodness for the power of spoilers.
had more to worry about at Peak 15 than just the Geth. That would
have been relaxing by comparison.
We made our way
towards the main lobby and began a tactical sweep. I shot out some of
the ventilation ducts, despite odd looks from Shepard and Tali. I
casually mentioned it was to prevent ambushes. They still looked at
“Garrus, how is
your team handling repairing the communications array?” Shepard
spoke into his communicator.
progress. Jack's biotics are great at keeping these things away while
I work. Although I think something is wrong with Wrex. He's been
laughing nonstop while fighting.” Garrus replied.
“What did you
expect, Garrus? It's an old enemy of his people and blood rages tend
to throw rationality out the window,” I respond.
“So they are
rachni. Here I was hoping they were just bad science experiments gone
wrong like out of one of those Blasto movies.”
this is real. Watch your backs and patch me in to the Normandy once
it's taken care of,” Shepard replied.
“Alright, now we
can just head into the labs where Benezia is and confront her,” I remarked as I casually walked to the door leading to the tram. The doors
remained shut and a holographic message appeared telling me about the
lockdown due to limited power.
reactor still needs repairs. How is Kaiden coming along on that?”
Shepard put a finger
to his ear, listening to a private line.
“He and Ashley are
almost done, they're making their way to us now,”
get that ice off the emergency entrances then,”
It was after about
two hours of scouring darkened hallways and abandoned living quarters
punctuated by rachni attacks before we made our way to the
alternative exit doors, all iced over. I would have built up more
suspense here but rachni have no natural defense against biotics or
fireballs created by quarian engineers with extensive knowledge of
chemistry, so just imagine a scene from Aliens except the marines
were also Jedi. Not exactly the same nail-biting experience, but
appropriate for how badly we mopped them up.
Tali began thawing
the ice as Shepard and I watched her six.
“Is this another
situation like at Zhu's Hope, Variza?” Shepard asked, still
maintaining his stance and posture.
“You mean did I
already know about the rachni and elected not to tell you? Honestly,
Shepard would you even believe me?” I responded.
silent for a while, his stance shifting a little.
you have done already with stuff you just happened to know, it would
have held some more water,”
“Not bad for
someone with possible sociopathic tendencies right?” Shepard turned
to look at me, his posture clearly giving away concern, “don't
worry, Dr. Dren took select testimonials from the crew as part of our
therapy sessions. It was...insightful.”
“Well that Wrex
doesn't hate me for one. You'd think for a mercenary like him
focusing on survival he'd see me as a big fat sack of cash that could
also shoot his enemies.”
Almost as if on cue
we heard rapturous laughter from behind the door, now free of at
least five solid feet of ice. Wrex ran in, covered in rachni viscera
with his helmet off and smiling from ear to ear. Or rather smiling
from eye to eye. Garrus and Jack followed closely behind him. Without
missing a beat, we helped them bottleneck the rachni attacks. Soon,
Ashley and Kaiden followed.
After some creative
barricading and applying some medi-gel to longstanding acid burns
from rachni spit, we made our way to the tram leading to Peak 15's
Rift Station; Matriarch Benezia's area of operations.
The tram ride itself
was uneventful, although I did discover what became of the scientists
under Benezia's employ. All dead. Not by a botched bio-weapon
experiment but by the ravaging rachni. Guess that side mission isn't
going to happen here.
We all went over
protocol about how to handle Benezia and the bottom fell out of my
“What's there to
talk about,” Ashley interjected, “we go in, take her out and wipe
out the rachni. Do the galaxy two favors.”
“You're out of
line, Williams,” Shepard retorted, “Benezia has to have some
crucial information on Saren, an idea as to what his next move is, we
have to take her alive so we can interrogate her,”
“But we're still
killing the source of her rachni right?” Wrex inquired.
“That is going to
be a problem, Wrex,” I respond, “don't you think it's a little
weird that the rachni attacks have been uncoordinated? Chaotic even?”
“But that's how
they work, Variza. Swarm tactics, they don't need to be tactical.”
Garrus chimed in, playing devil's advocate.
“If that was true,
the Council wouldn't have called in the krogan before.”
Wrex grunted in
agreement, “You're right. Something seems off about them.”
“So what does this
have to do with the source?” Kaiden asked. I jumped a little in my
seat. I just realized he was sitting right next to me.
“It means that
whatever created these rachni have actively messed with their ability
to coordinate, which implies a grand intelligence. And what can you
do with an intelligence?” I look to the crew. I got some blank
faces. “Seriously, am I the only one who thinks about this stuff
first? You can reason with an intelligence.”
Ashley rolled her
eyes, “are you seriously implying we negotiate with these things?
If you haven't noticed they have been trying to kill us!”
enough. Variza, what you're suggesting can be read as a serious
affront to the Council. The rachni posed such a massive threat to the
galaxy, to let them live would mean big problems down the line.”
“And I'm telling
you they fear the Reapers just as much as we do,”
I could feel a few
members of the squad look away at the mention of the Reapers. Despite
Shepard's visions, my insistence, and Saren's zealotry they still
haven't witnessed what they're capable of first hand, it makes sense
that they still haven't taken them so seriously.
“trust me, they'll
be a grand help in our battles later.”
I saw Ashley and
Kaiden about to ask follow-up questions when the tram slowed to a
stop. When that happened it was back to business as usual. Shepard
divided us into units and we made our way to Benezia's lab.
I won't front, my
hands were shaking the entire time for multiple reasons. Asari
Matriarchs are some of the most intimidating beings in the galaxy for
the simple fact that they are asari in the last few decades of their
life. Over nine-hundred years of wisdom, knowledge, and combat
experience all combined together to make a blue woman you do not want
to mess with. And that's before I remembered what other surprises she
had waiting for us.
We were met by her
own Asari Commando Unit. Elite warriors with centuries of experience
and unfettered biotic might. Even with the eight of us, the commandos
had us outnumbered by two. And Benezia by herself counted as at least
three as far as I'm concerned. She turned her attention from the
subject held in the containment pod at the lab's center: a rachni
“So here you all
are, like cattle to the slaughter,” she crooned, descending from
the observatory platform with confident regality.
“Though I suppose
it would be a mercy, considering the glorious age Saren will be
ushering in with the aid of Sovereign.” She came down to meet us
directly... then waved her hands in a demonstration of her biotic
power. I couldn't move. My hands, my legs, my head, my weapons. I was
frozen to the spot. So was Shepard and everyone else I could see
through my field of vision.
something, have you ever faced the fury of an Asari Commando Unit
before? Well, consider it a grand honor. An act of mercy from the Reapers,”
The Commandos all
organized themselves into a kill box, then with another wave of the
hand, Benezia pulled us out of stasis.