Shepard Family Stories: Lineage
Commander Kal'Reegar stands in the CIC, observing the holographic display of another quarian vessel, the Lilith. His dark red and black suit reflecting the blue light of the display. The willowy form of Admiral Tali'Zorah materializes beside him, a worried expression on her beautiful face. While on Rannoch, she is free from the confines of her enviro-suit, so she wears a long flowing dress of white and green. Kal tears his gaze from the hologram back to the ship before him. "You know, being all serious doesn't suit you Admiral."
"Kal. I can't help but be worried."
"Don't be, Cassandra can take care of herself. She's old enough to make her own choices, and she chose Ayrene."
"Remind me to have words with her."
He chuckles quietly, "Of course dear."
"What are you looking at?"
"One of our research ships. Got a distress call about an hour or so ago. But they haven't answered any of our comms. I'm about to lead a team aboard to search for survivors."
"You be careful Kal…..that's an order."
Kal'Reegar turns back to his wife's hologram and smiles from beneath his mask, "Yes Ma'am."
Tali's holographic hand reaches up to Kal's face, "Come back to me."
The hologram dissipates as Kal turns from the console. He activates his omni-tool sending a broadcast across the ship, "All right. Our orders are to send a team aboard to check for survivors and try to find out what happened here. Report to the armory and then meet me in the hangar bay in fifteen minutes."
He turns to the Quarian in the pilot's chair, "Kris, you're in charge while I'm away."
Minutes later in the armory, he begins going through the various types of weaponry. A geth walks in, "Reegar-Commander. The team is onboard the shuttle, awaiting your orders."
"I'll be there in a moment, Centurion."
Kal selects his shotgun and a belt of arc grenades, and makes his way to the hangar. Moments later, he's facing seven Quarian marines and three Geth elites. "We got no idea what we may find over there, but let's not take any unnecessary risks. We suppress and contain any possible threat on board. Let's not waste any more time. Keelah Se'lai!"
His team responds in a resounding cheer, while the geth look on curiously. Kal turns to his pilot, "Ria? Take us in."
The airlock opens with a slow hiss as the squad moves into the pitch black of the ship's cargo hold. Kal holds up a hand, "Lights."
Two beams of light activate on each of the quarians' helmets, illuminating small patches of the hold. Reegar motions for the closest geth soldier, "Can you check the system logs?"
"Affirmative. This will just take a moment."
The geth holsters its rifle, and activates a holographic display. In mere moments, the geth turns back to the commander. "I have detected an anomalous energy signature emanating from engineering. I would like to take a small team to investigate, with your permission."
Kal motions for three of his marines to follow the geth, "Permission granted. Stay in contact and watch your backs. The rest of you, follow me. We're heading up to the bridge to get some answers."
As Reegar moves through the darkened corridors of the ship, he notices that the walls are covered with splashes of black blood. As they pass the living quarters, they come across their first signs of the crew. A pair of quarians sit slumped against the wall, their helmets completely shattered, blue and black veins cover their faces, their eyes blank. Reegar turns to one of his marines, "Raza, scan them. See what could have caused this."
The marine kneels next to the closest corpse and activates his omni-tool. Centurion's flashlight swivels towards the door leading to the CIC, "Reegar-Commander. I am detecting movement on this floor. Also, I cannot communicate with any of the Geth platforms assigned to this ship. I fear that they are offline."
"Can you tell how many?"
"Negative…..the movements are……erratic. It is unclear exactly how many there are."
"Wonderful." He activates his comm, "Gideon, what have you found?"
"There is a small device attached to the eezo core Reegar-commander. It is constantly emitting a frequency that is being received by…..one moment……"
"Alert! We are under attack!"
"Gideon! We're on our way."
The line goes dead after a loud shrill squawk of feedback. A unworldly scream fills the hallways. Kal spins to face the door to the CIC as the sounds get closer. "Take cover, shoot anything that comes through that door."
As the screams get closer, Kal and his marines take cover behind doors, tables, and columns, each raising their weapons. Suddenly, everything goes silent. Reegar turns to Centurion, "What are their positions?"
"……All around us….."
"Keelah……Alright men, fall back, we need to get back to the shuttle."
As the marines begin their tactical retreat, the sounds of scraping metal reaches their ears. Kal turns to see about a dozen black figures scrambling their way towards them, the sounds of metal clicking across the floor. "Carbines!!!"
He and three other marines all raise their carbine shotguns and unleash a wave of electrical fire rolling towards the assailants. The combined force knocks the attackers back, giving a quick glimpse as to their appearance. The forms of about a dozen quarians, each helmet-less, black veins covering their faces, eyes aglow with a purple light. Serrated or sharpened pieces of metal rest in each of their hands. Reegar can see nothing but mindless violence behind their eyes. "By the ancestors…what happened to them?"
Centurion's voice rings out, "Reegar-Commander. There are escape pods down the next corridor, I suggest we reach those. The odds of us reaching the shuttle are unlikely."
"Agreed." He activates his comm once more, "Ria! Get out now! Get back to the Ravonna!"
Silence and static are all that come through. "Bosh'tet! Alright, let's make a break for it. Shoot anything that moves."
As they make their way down the infested corridor towards the emergency evacuation pods. Centurion suddenly falls to its knees and clutches its head. Kal stops to help his friend. "What's wrong?"
"My programming is being altered…..please……..don't let me hurt…anyone."
"Don't talk like that, we'll get you back to the Ravonna and get you checked out."
The clear white light of Centurion's head is replaced with a deep purple light. A low electronic growl emanates from it. He lunges for Kal, who puts his shotgun out and fires. Electrical fire tears through his friend, blowing a hole clean through. The light dims slightly then goes out. Centurion slumps to one side. Reegar hears the screams of his marines, as they are torn apart by the crew of the Lilith. He leaps past them for the escape pod, throwing himself into the confines of the metal cylinder. He slams his fist against the eject button. The pod launches into the cold embrace of space, hurtling him away from the doomed vessel. He activates his comm-link to the Ravonna, "Kris?"
"They're dead…..all of them."
"My team. I just watched them all die."
"Where are you?"
"Floating in an escape pod. Can you come pick me up?"
"Yes sir, we've got a lock on your position."
Kal notices a gash in his enviro-suit. As he beings to disinfect the wound, he notices black veins beginning to spread from it.
"Put me in quarantine….immediately."
A tall man clad in armor as black as ebony watches the video logs of the event. He turns from the monitors towards a holo-keyboard. He begins typing.
Pandora's box has been opened. The virus worked according to your specifications. Combining the pulse with the virus allowed it to work on both organics and AI alike. One survivor remains, high odds that he is infected. Awaiting further orders.
A few moments pass before he gets a response.
Good……proceed to phase two.