GAEL'RA VAS MOREH
September 1st 2186
12:05 PM Over Cheshunt, North of London.
It began at 12:00 as their two shuttles lifted off from St Paul's Square. Hackett had been there to see them off as well as a small crowd of soldiers and leaders. Admiral Raan had given Tali last minute advice and a hug. Then she came to Gael and provided him with words of wisdom. Gael had heard one too many words of wisdom in his 21 years of life. This was the most important mission this far in his life. He had put on his best engineering suit and didn't have to be told to bring ammo his explosives and his M-25 Hornet that was given to him by the requisition officer.He felt the weight of his mission as he took his seat in the closest shuttle. As Tali sat down next to him he felt she good she was here. She had always been his guardian angel. The shuttle they were taking was the smallest of the Alliance Shuttle Classes. It could fit 5 people. One in the cockpit and four in the seating area behind the cockpit. Garrus was designated driver so he was up in the cockpit while Tali, Maris, and Gael sat behind him. The shuttle was divided from the cockpit by a bulkhead so they couldn't see Garrus or anything outside. However a monitor was installed in the seating area to provide them with a view of the outside as the flew. 5 minutes into the mission and they were leaving the London suburbs and heading northwest to Harbinger's location in St. Albans, England.
The mission was a two pronged envelopment of the Harbinger site. Team 1 was their team, under Garrus. Team 2 was under Ashley Williams and her team, which consisted of: Liara T'Soni, Grunt, and James Vega. Garrus's team's objective was to retrieve the data archives deep inside Harbinger's mainframe. Ashley's team's objective was to patrol the surrounding area to keep any unwanted attention away from the operation. Team 2 had been a last minute addition by Hackett to ensure complete mission success. As they passed outside the city the landscape became even more barren. Gael's eyes were glued to the monitor as they passed over churned up earth, blasted roads and derelict developments. Gael after 4 months of seeing this kind of destruction had become numb to it. Suddenly Ashley's voice came on the comm system.
Ashley: This Team 2 moving in on your right.
Garrus: "I see you Team 2"
It was silent in the seating area for a few minutes. Only the hum of the shuttle's engines and their quiet breathing made any noise. Tali had her head down and Marius was across from her messing with the interface on his suit. Gael's suit had a built in detonator for the explosives he was carrying. On this mission he was the leading explosives engineer whose primary job was to clear obstacles. Marius's job was to hack security systems and Tali had the most important job: retrieving Harbinger's data core. Gael touched the bundles of military explosives on his belt. He felt tired and had barely slept last night. Gael looked back at the monitor in time to see them passing an abandoned factory complex. Ashley came on the comms again:
Ashley: "Ive never seen so much desolation..."
Garrus: "I have on Palavan...its something you get....or may not get used to"
Gael wondered what Palavan had been like before the Reapers came. Since befriending Marius he had learned of his adventures in the capital city of Cipritine which had been Marius's home. He learned that Palavan had been a fortress world and had the best military in the galaxy. Gael couldn't believe the Reapers could have beaten them based on what Marius told him, but...they did. Gael sank into his chair he was strapped into. He had never had a home-world at least not until 3 weeks ago when Tali and Shepard managed to forge an alliance between the Geth and the Quarians. He had set foot on Rannoch with as much enthusiasm as everyone else. In all his years he had never been so happy. Then the world was taken from him when the Mass Relay went offline. And he had vowed to push forward till he got back to his ancestral home. Garrus's voice came on:
Garrus: "Team 2 I have a visual, approaching St. Albans and Harbinger."
Gael sat up as did Tali, and Marius and all of them glanced at the screen. A bank of clouds dissipated and before them. In front of them lay the shattered city of St. Albans. Harbinger sat upright right on the center of the city. Its spine rose nearly 2,000 feet into the sky as it partially blocked the afternoon sun. Each of its massive legs were bent and crumpled underneath it. As they got closer he notice a large abbey lay in front of it. Ashley responded:
Ashley: "We also have a visual Team 1, Team 2 will be moving on ahead of you to scout. Good luck inside"
Garrus: "You find trouble let us know, and thanks Team 2"
Ashley: "Got it"
They were all stunned into silence by Harbinger's size, now magnified by the open lands of the English countryside.
Marius: "Ill be....that thing is massive"
Tali: "I just hope it's truly dead.."
Marius: (looks at Tali) "That thing doesn't look like it will indoctrinate anyone Tali..."
Gael looked at Marius and then at Tali. He wanted to reassure her.
Gael: "It is Tali, thanks to Shepard"
He suddenly regretted mentioning his name. He knew Shepard meant a lot to her and he had been very happy that she had found someone. Gael was never one to think about dating or girls for he had felt he was not ready for an commitments. He was afraid that Tali might get hurt by his absence due to his coma. Then Tali looked at him and nodded.
Tali: "Your probably right"
He breathed a sigh of relief that hearing his name had not affected her.
Gael: "I am"
On the monitor they watched as Garrus was preparing to get them inside. A massive hole had been blasted through Harbinger by a high velocity cannon by Salarian forces as the Reaper's were in their death throes weeks ago. Garrus had marked it as their point of entry. He pulled the shuttle through the 200 foot opening and as they went through the cavity created inside Harbinger they passed wrecked wires and metal beams. The hole became smaller as they went further in. Finally they reached their objective, the Right Cooling Tower. Harbinger's mainframe was flanked by two large coolant towers that helped cool down the mainframe as it operated. The cannon luckily missed the mainframe. Garrus set the ship slowly onto a maintenance platform against the side of the Coolant tower wall. Finally the shuttle touched down and powered off. Garrus came on the comms:
Garrus: "Alright guys get ready to go outside. Its really dark inside this junk heap so use your suit lighting systems and your flashlights on your weapons. And Gael, your on point since your job is to clear obstacles"
Gael felt his insides turn but Tali put a hand on his shoulder.
Tali: "This is your time Gael"
Gael: (Turns to Tali) "I guess it is"
They all switched on their lights and flashlights. Tali pulled out her shotgun and Marius pulled out his Hand Cannon Pistol. Marius unhooked his M-25 Sub-Machine gun from his belt and ran his hand across its sleek titanium plated surface. Marius was already at the door.
Marius: "You guys ready?"
Tali held up a hand.
Tali: "Wait I forgot my combat drone"
Tali reached into her pack and pulled out a chip and then placed it on the ground. Instantly it turned into a metallic sphere with multiple weapon systems attached to its surface. Gael was amazed, but Marius shrugged.
Marius: "Nice toy"
Tali shot an annoyed look at Marius.
Tali: "Chitika Vas Paus III is not a toy and I could go into specifics about her but we don't have the time."
Marius nearly laughed and Gael gave Marius a warning look.
Marius: "You named it?"
Before Tali could retort Gael responded:
Gael: "Guys lets go outside. Save this till we are done"
Tali looked at Gael
Tali: "Your right" (Looks at Marius) "Marius open the damn door so we can leave"
Marius: (Gives a wounded look) "Fine"
As the door opened the lights in the seating area went out and their lights were the only light in the Coolant tower. Gael stepped through the door and into a massive cylindrical tube nearly 600 feet from top to bottom, and 100 feet across. They were on a maintenance platform 400 feet from the bottom. Garrus was outside next to the shuttle entrance checking his assault rifle.
Garrus: "What took you so long?"
Marius was about to respond when Tali cut him off.
Tali: "We were getting prepared"
Garrus: "Alright well..."
He turned and pointed his flashlight onto a bridge a few feet from them.
Garrus: "No one has been inside of Harbinger probably for several hundred million years so I know none of the doors will work."
He flashed his light across the bridge to another platform and then a door set into the far wall. Garrus glanced at Gael and pointed to the door.
Garrus: "Gael see that door?"
Gael looked across the abyss at the door and nodded
Gael: "Yes sir"
Garrus: "I want you to blow a path through it"
Gael looked again at the door and nodded
Gael: "Alright sir"
Gael made his way to the bridge across the 400 foot drop. He looked down. His chest froze because he couldn't see the bottom, all he knew was he was several hundred feet above the bottom. He cautiously walked onto the bridge, and it made a groan with each footstep. He kicked up mounds of dust as well and his vision was half obscured both by the darkness and the clouds of dust. Suddenly he heard a large metallic crack and he felt the bridge give a bit. He slid and fell against the raining. Fear suddenly rose up inside of him as he righted himself. He heard Tali yell.
Tali: "Gael! Gael you ok!?"
He breathed deep as he tried to build up courage again.
Gael: (With a shaky voice) "Yea...yeah the bridge just fell an inch. I think it can only hold one person at a time"
Garrus called back
Garrus: "Take your time, I'm surprised the bridge held your weight at all"
Gael felt even less courageous now and he muttered under his breath at Garrus:
Gael: "I don't see you going across this..."
He tested the bridge by taking a few steps and the bridge stopped making noises and didn't move. He regained his courage and began to walk faster. After a long minute he reached the other side. He looked back at Marius, Tali, and Garrus. All he could see was their flashlights and suit lights. He shouted back at them.
Gael: "Made it! Give me a minute and I'll have the door open!"
Tali called back
Tali: "Be careful!"
He turned to the door which was caked with dust. He reached for an explosive on his belt. After unhooking it he put the adhesive side onto the door and a cloud of dust rained down on his hand. He then tightened the suction between the door and the explosive. Satisfied it would stay on the door Gael hit a button on his belt and the charge lit up telling him it was live. He quickly got up and ran about 50 feet to the side of the door and got on his belly. He glanced back at his team.
Gael: "Charge set ready to blow!"
He saw their flashlights and suit lights dissapear into the darkness and that was good enough for him. He pulled up his omni-tool and selected the detonator. He took a breath before saying to himself:
Gael: "Well here goes nothing"
He selected activate and instantly the was a loud shuttering bang. The platform shook as the shock-wave blew past him. The Coolant Tower lit up for a brief second and he could see every detail of it. He saw a second bridge some 200 feet further to the side and he could see the shuttle. However he did not see any of his teammates. As the tower went dark again and sound of the explosion died down he got to his feet. Smoke and dust was everywhere as he made his way back to the door. He found the explosives had worked. The way to the Mainframe was clear. He peered through the door and beyond it was an access shaft. He switched on his comm and called Garrus. It picked up immediately
Gael: "Sir the way in is clear"
Garrus: "We will meet you there"
He glanced back towards the shuttle and through the dust and soot he could see their lights emerge from the shuttle. After a minute he heard his team make their way across the bridge.
Tali: "Come on Marius hurry up! This thing won't hold if we keep stopping for you every second!"
Marius: "Hold on woman! This thing is ancient!"
Tali: "Exactly that's why you need to pick it up!"
Garrus: "Guys shut it and keep going!"
Gael finally saw Marius stumble out of the dust cloud toward him. He stepped on the platform and looked at Gael.
Marius: "That was a hell of a thing Gael, you'll have to show me how you Quarians blow shit up"
Gael never thought his explosive skills were something to be proud of.
Tali stumbled out of the dust cloud next and Gael helped her onto the platform. She smiled at him.
Tali: "Thanks Gael, its nice to see we taught you well"
Gael felt the heat rising in his face but he nodded
Gael: "Th..thanks Tal"
Gael looked back into the dust cloud that was now settling. He saw Garrus almost halfway across the bridge treading carefully. Gael took several steps onto the bridge to try and help him onto the platform. Suddenly there was a metallic pop and he felt something hit his suit then fall on the floor.
Gael: "What the..."
He flashed his light on the floor and to his horror it was a rivet. Then there were more pops further away and the bridge began to moan. The floor fell a foot underneath him as the bridge screeched. He heard Garrus yell as well as Tali and Marius. He lost his footing as the bridge suddenly swayed. He struggled against the railing. He saw Garrus trying to run toward him.
Garrus: "The bridge is going! GO!"
Gael: "I think I already know that!"
Gael took a few steps. Suddenly the bridge began to give way. He fell backward as the bridge split in two. The part he was on went vertical and he found himself clinging to the side. He glanced below him Garrus was hanging on with one arm. Above him Tali and Marius were trying to reach him.
Tali: "Gael! Garrus!"
Marius: "Guys we will get you up here in a second!"
The bridge moaned and swayed. Gael heard the part that Garrus was clinging to giving way and Gael knew Garrus would die if he didn't do something. He was terrified and nearly frozen to his spot but he released one of his hands and reached out to him.
Gael: "Sir, my hand!"
Garrus looked at him with wide eyes and reached out with his free hand. Gael reached a bit lower and finally he got a grip on him. Then the part Garrus was holding on to gave way with a loud bang and Garrus yelled but Gael would not let go. He used every ounce of strength to hold him.
Garrus: "Son...we can't both cling to this...it will give way and we will both die"
Gael felt suddenly angry at the thought that Garrus was ordering him to kill his ranking officer and give up.
Gael: "Shut up sir, I'm getting you out of this!"
He felt an arm under his. And he glanced up. It was Tali who was being braced by Marius up on the platform. Tali had fear in her eyes.
Tali: "Gael Ive got you but you need to try to pull Garrus up"
Gael glanced down at Garrus and judged his weight at 220 pounds. Gael only weighed 160. Garrus looked up at him. Gael looked away he was weighing the odds of saving Garrus and they were slim...but the odds were never important to him. Gael looked back at Garrus.
Gael: "Sir at the count of three I'm going to lift you up to the ledge next to me, I need you to trust me"
Garrus looked at Gael and he realized Garrus was smiling.
Garrus: "Gael, I have trusted few people in my lifetime but if you are willing to save me then so be it"
Gael's muscles began to ache and burn as he held onto Garrus. He looked back up at Tali who nodded.
Tali: "Do it"
Gael looked back at Garrus
He lifted with all his might and he heard his arm pop and pain shoot up his arm as he lifted Garrus. And Garrus grabbed onto the ledge next to him. Tali let go of Gael and him and Garrus climbed the last 10 feet up of what was left of the bridge. Gael fell onto the platform out of breath and Garrus fell next to him. They were both covered in soot. Tali bent down to check on him while Marius checked on Garrus.
Tali: "Gael, I'm proud of you"
Gael looked up at her. His left arm lay limb beside him and was full of pain. Gael glanced at it and Tali followed his gaze. She noticed his arm.
Tali: "Is...Is it?"
Gael nodded and he fell back onto the floor.
Garrus meanwhile got back onto his feet and brushed the dust off of him. He walked over to Gael.
Garrus: "Your a piece of work Gael....and you saved my life"
Gael gritted his teeth through the pain in his arm
Gael: "That's...what soldiers are supposed to do...look out for their..own"
Garrus crossed his arms and smiled and Tali smiled as well. Marius was busy looking into the access hall beyond the door.
Garrus: "And you are our own too"
Garrus suddenly noticed Gael was in pain
Garrus: "You alright Gael?"
Gael felt the pain growing across his arm and he knew he had:"
Tali: "He dislocated his arm hauling you up"
Garrus glanced at him with a worried look then Marius spoke:
Marrius: "(Glances at Garrus) "This tunnel must lead to the mainframe"
Garrus glanced at Marius
Garrus: "We will go over that in a minute Gael needs medical attention"
Marius glanced at Gael obviously unaware he was even hurt.
Marius: "Did he hurt himself when the bridge.."
He quickly glanced to where the bridge used to be
Marius: "Wait a sec...that was our only back to the shuttle!"
Tali who was pulling some painkillers from her pouch looked at Garrus
Tali: "He's right Garrus that was our only route back!"
Garrus rubbed the back of his head. Gael remembered the second bridge he saw during the flash from the explosion. He gripped Tali's left arm with his good arm.
Gael: "Tal...I saw another bridge...a few meters to the side of us.."
Garrus heard him and flashed his light to the left and it shined onto the second bridge.
Garrus: "I'll be damned..."
Tali smiled at Gael
Tali: "And you said you were never a good scout?"
She injected a pain medication into his arm and Gael felt the pain start to dull as well as his energy. Tali glanced at Garrus. Ive given him pain meds...he won't be able to go on, Ill have to relocate his arm. Gael even through the haze of the meds felt he still wanted to go on.
Gael: "No...your bringing me with you...I want to finish this..."
Tali: (looks down at Gael) "But Gael...your arm"
The pain was making him agitated.
Gael: "Tali its final!"
She was taken aback by his anger and he suddenly felt horrible
Gael: "I-I'm sorry..Tal.."
Marius shook his head and glanced at Garrus
Marius: "Sir we should keep moving, let Tali stay here and patch Gael up and me and you go to the mainframe. They can rejoin us when they can."
Garrus looked at Marius and seemed to weigh that option he slowly nodded.
Garrus: "Alright that's a plan...(Glances at Tali) You and Gael can rejoin us when you can. I'll take Marius to find a way into the mainframe. Oh.."
Garrus reached into his pack and pulled out another assault rifle and held it out to Tali who eyed it.
Garrus: "Take my other assault rifle, I brought 3 just in case. Lost the first but I still have another."
Tali took the assault rifle
Tali: "I've never used one before..."
Gael lifted his good hand
Gael: "I have..."
Garrus looked at Gael
Garrus: "Alright then you take it, anyway if you need me my comm is on"
Tali gave Gael the rifle while she glanced back at Garrus and nodded.
Tali: "I will, I'll let you know when I'm done patching him"
Garrus nodded and motioned Marius into the Access Tunnel.
Garrus: "You take point Lieutenant"
Marius nodded and went ahead. Garrus glanced at him and Tali one last time before he went into the dark tunnel.
September 1st 1:00
Mainframe Entrance, Harbinger
The Access Tunnel had led to several Electronic distribution rooms; the nerves of Harbinger, as well as tunnels full of fuel lines; Harbinger's circulatory system. Marius had been awed by how high tech everything was for being several hundred million years old. There were no wires and no struts or girders. Harbinger's gut was a solid sheet of Titanium. It took him and Garrus 30 minutes just to find the Mainframe Entrance. They found no more obstacles luckily. Most of the doors were either broken, or non-existent. The entrance was blocked by a massive electronic door and on either side were massive electronic tubes that served as the Spinal Cord for Harbinger. However they were dark and showed no signs of being active. Harbinger truly was dead. Marius had thought the door would not open since all electricity was off but he was astonished to find the door had its own separate power supply and needed a password to enter.
His suit had a built in hacking modulator and Marius had been proficient with hacking at the Academy. Before he could start however, Garrus got a call from Tali that she and Gael were coming and Garrus had left Marius the task of opening the massive door while he went to guide Tali and Gael to him. Alone in the darkness Marius shined his light on the door as he tried to hack it remotely.
Marius: (Pulls up Hacking Modulator Ver. 5.2) "Ok you ancient hunk of metal lets see what tricks you have for me.."
He tried to shut off the power. And the modulator went into busy mode. Marius would have to wait.
Then his modulator lit up and a virus warning appeared on the screen.
Marius: "What the hell?"
He rebooted the hardware and it came back on with the message: "Hacking Failure, Virus Present". Marius realized that the door had its own anti-hacking tool which sent his modulator a nice welcoming gift...a virus.
Marius: "Damnit! There goes the hacking bit...two can play at this game."
He pulled up another modulator for inserting viruses. He selected the best virus he knew of.
Marius: "Alright...uploading Virus Package 29B"
Virus Package 29B was the most advanced computer virus program/worm ever created. It had been co-developed by Salarian and Asari engineers 3 years ago to counter the Geth problem. However the Geth threat had ended before it could be put to use....until now. The virus self replicates once installed. It also has a built in AI so it could make decisions on how best to compromise a system. Even better the virus even evolved if it met resistance. The good thing about the virus was it also had a kill switch if it ever got out of hand.
Marrius: (Virus Uploading 65%) "Come on, Come on...never had to wait so much with other virus programs..."
Then the Virus uploading finished. He sat back and waited. A notice popped up on his modulator: "Virus has Compromised System 2D98B000M2 Lock Disengaged". The door slowly opened and dust fell off its dull surface as it rose into the ceiling. Marius felt like he wanted to run around. He stood up and shouted:
Marius: "YEAH! Take that you hunk of metal!
Then a computer voice came on his modulator. "System 2D98B000M2 has been compromised. Now engaging self termination"
Suddenly a huge sheet of flame blew out of the left wall and an explosion filled the room. He was thrown back against the right wall. Around him dust was blown everywhere as the explosion died down. His suit was covered in soot. He felt a sting on his face and he felt his face before looking at his hand. There was blood on it. He got up and his back ached from being thrown. He glanced at the hole in the wall which was spouting some flames and then the open mainframe door. He felt the anger coming but before he could say anything his comm began to vibrate. He answered it and it was Garrus.
Garrus: "Marius what the hell was that explosion!? You ok?"
Marius tried to suppress some of his anger.
Marius: "Yeah but the security system tried to kill me after I gave it a virus...oh and the door is opened..."
Garrus: "It tried to what? Alright we will be there in five"
As Garrus went offline Marius sat down against the wall and waited. After 5 minutes Garrus, Tali, and Gael who was wearing a sling came into the room. He stood up.
Marius: "Guess the reinforcements have arrived?"
Garrus looked at the hole in the wall, and then at Marius. He noticed the gash on Marius's face.
Garrus: "Well your just as destructive as Gael...you engineers must all be like that..blowing shit up without warning"
Marius looked away from him
Marius: "Yeah we have that effect on people"
He motioned to the door
Marius: "Anyway the Mainframe is opened....lets get the data core and be done with it"
Garrus: "I'm ready"
Garrus motioned Tali forward.
Garrus: "Tali your on point, the Data Core is your job"
Tali moved toward the door and stopped just in front of it. She shined her light into a massive room full of Transparent computers and Electronic tubes. It was Harbinger's Brain. she glanced back at everyone who was now forming up on her. And Marius felt anxious.
Tali: "Ok guys watch my back"
Marius nodded as did Garrus and Gael
Marius: "Alright Tali"
They all moved into the room. In the center of the room was a massive pillar. The Central Processor and Memory Core in one. the entire room was pitch black like the rest of Harbinger. In the center of the pillar was a console covered in dust. Garrus pointed to the pillar some 100 meters from them.
Garrus: "That must be it! Tali see what you can do"
Tali moved across the room to the pillar and she pulled something from her pouch.
Tali: "This is a revitalizer, it can reanimate dead synthetics briefly. Me and my dad made it 2 years ago..."
Marius watched as Tali attached it to the side of the console. Suddenly the screen on the console lit up and it turned red. Another language none of them knew popped up on the screen. Tali seemed confused and she glanced at Garrus.
Tali: "I think it needs me to press something..."
Garrus looked at her
Garrus: "Do what you have to do just make sure you get the data"
Marius watched Tali look down on the keyboard and close her eyes briefly before she pressed something on the console. Suddenly the entire room lit up and he was suddenly blinded by the sudden light. He heard Gael fall over and Garrus said:
Garrus: "Damn too much light"
Marius regained some of his vision and he saw Tali still on the console covered in a red glow and she was not moving. Marius suddenly panicked.
Marius: "Tali you..you ok?"
Garrus and Gael were regaining their sight as he went towards Tali. He was next to her and he could see the glow was on the console and her. He looked into her face and saw her eyes wide open and darting around the room. He realized she was in some sort of trance.
Marius: "Garrus! Tali...somethings wrong!"
Garrus noticed Tali now and ran up to her and looked at her face.
Garrus: "Ive...Ive seen that look before..."
Gael was up there now
Gael: "Tali...oh no..."
Marius glanced at Garrus
Marius: "Whats wrong with her!?"
Garrus looked down. And hesitated
Marius: "Garrus WHAT!"
Garrus: She's having a vision....Liara used to put Shepard in those years ago.."
Marius glanced at Tali as did Gael
Marius: "A..A vision?? A vision of what!?"
Garrus looked at Marius
Garrus: "She will tell us when she snaps out of it..."
Marius gave him a concerned look
Marius: "When will that be?"
Garrus looked at Tali
Garrus: "I don't know.."
Gael lowered his head
They all glanced at Tali and Garrus said a short prayer as they waited for her to come out of it.