Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Nutstoyoutoo » Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:30 am

Characteristics of a Mary Sue:

-Skilled/powerful: Is the main character so overpowered that all enemies are pushovers? Let's take a look: Malleus and friends can easily smash through hordes of mooks w/out a problem. Examples: the Collector attack in the first few chapters, where a single Thunderhawk forces the Collector cruiser to retreat and Malleus bitch-slaps a swarm of enemies. Obviously, that's a little OP'ed compared to the threat that the Collectors canonically posed. At the same time, the Space Marines' foes are giant sentient starships which are taking on every single power in the galaxy and giving them a run for their money. Theoretically, therefore, the Marines aren't overpowered, since their enemies are canonically superpowered.

However, I'd caution against having you display too many "destroy all mooks!" scenes to keep Malleus from looking too curbstompy. Bits like the Assassination Engine were well-done, since it portrayed the Marines at their most stretched-out and desperate. Similarly, Hullen's death was handled with plenty of awesomeness, and kudos for being willing to kill off one of your own characters.

Also, don't forget that you haven't given the Marines bullshit 'secondary' powers, aside from Cyralius's one. In his case, the biotic power doesn't seem BS to me since it serves a purpose in the story: it's a plot point, and a danger as well as a help. In addition, the power was introduced a long time before it actually went anywhere, and isn't a game-changer. (yet :D) That's a well-handled introduction of a new ability, instead of the 'ooh shiny, i'ma give him something cool!' that you'd see in a classic Mary Sue.


Appearance: Is your main character inexplicably beautiful/handsome/amazing/whatever? Malleus and company are imposing as hell, but it doesn't seem overplayed. You don't wax on for pages about how amazingly amazing they are, and you don't have secondary characters sitting around wondering why they couldn't be MUHREENS. Instead, the SMs are portrayed as big, tough, scary, and dangerous - but they are that canonically, and you don't ham it up.

Character Relationships: Has Malleus boinked Tali? No? I rest my case.

In fact, my personal Seal of Awesome (tm) goes to your Cyralius-Jack dad-and-daughter relationship. Grunt-Titus and Tali-Kullas scenes are great, and I like seeing the Marines confused about the 'heretics' being surprisingly reasonable, but Jack and Cyralius make me d'awwww. They're both so clumsy and confused, and yet the feelings are portrayed so genuinely, that I can almost imagine Cyralius cocking a shotgun when someone tries to make a move on Jack. :D

Author avatar: Is the main character your avatar in the story?

Obviously, you'll have to answer that one. However, Malleus to me looks and feels like a Space Marine, rather than a vehicle for an author's wish fulfillment. Now, I'm sure that you've projected a characteristic or two of your own personality onto his, but that's entirely normal. We write about what we're familiar with, and the key element is that Malleus generally walks, talks, and acts like a Space Marine commander, rather than a 20th-century human being.

Flaws: Is the character genuinely flawed, or are they ultimately portrayed as near-perfect? In the last few chapters, you've obviously tried to show the Marines' flaws, and I give you two thumbs up for it. The conversation between Malleus and Cyralius about the future Imperium was very well done, and Malleus's overconfidence was also played well. If you're worried about the character looking flawless earlier in the story, remember that Malleus previously screwed up so badly that his 'son' was captured and indoctrinated - he's believably flawed.


In conclusion: Nah, don't worry too much about it. Your characters are powerful, but powerful doesn't mean flawless.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:53 am

Nuts: It's kind of hard to argue with that kind of in-depth thinking there, so you're probably right. Thanks very much, and it's good to see this stands up even if looked at through a fiarly critical lense. I suppose powerful but flawed was what I was going for, but it was more the idea that he was getting looked up to a bit much that worried me, though I was uncertain as he was a fuggin' Space Marine...

Gaius: To be honest, that was just general Warp-based joojoo. Cyril's been put through enough for the moment, I think...
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:32 am

Note d’author: Well, having consulted several wise people of the internet, it appears that my concerns were unfounded. Never have I been happier to be proven wrong. Except for that time when I thought my brother was going to be eaten by a television, but I was six at the time so I was going on some fairly unreliable intel there…

Chapter 46-The Weapon

Malleus’ first few steps were tentative ones, but he found his strength had been restored eventually after his battle with that creature the Reapers had tried to kill him with. His armour was still being repaired by Kullas, and he instead wore the usual fatigues that he dressed in when going about the Normandy without his aegis.

He stepped free of the airlock onto the Citadel’s only Council-controlled docking bay, pausing for a moment as he looked out over the arms of the station. Fires blazed across one of them unchecked, and the skyscrapers that lined the edges of the others were battered and ruined by their treatment at the hands of the Reapers and their auxiliaries. It was going to take a long time to rebuild all of those.

Down he went into the elevator, entering the spacious atrium of the C-Sec academy, the room lined with crates of supplies and accommodating more than a few civilians huddled together.

“It’s him!” someone called, and people began to surge around Malleus as he raised a hand in greeting. Despite the fact that it hurt to do so, he stood tall as he was crowded around. Many extended hands to shake, and he took them carefully, not wanting to crush them with the grip of his bionic.

“Where is Acting Executor Bailey?” Malleus asked, stepping through the small group of people that parted before him.

“Citadel Stragetic Command Centre,” one of the C-Sec troopers said, pointing to one of the doorways. “Not far from here, sir.”

Malleus nodded.

“Understood,” he said. “My thanks.”

He made his way through the corridors of the Academy, stride firm and confident despite the pain in his arm, chest and neck; he needed to look strong, however he felt. Soon enough, he reached the more heavily fortified area of the Citadel, guards allowing him entry without a moment’s hesitation and even giving him a salute. He headed through the corridors, more people murmuring and pointing at him as he passed. It was a strange sensation; in the Imperium, Astartes caused a stir, but people had been fed propaganda on them all their lives. Malleus and his brothers had been here a matter of months, and it seemed that he was already making as much of an impact without the aid of posters or vids.

“Hey, you’re up and about,” a voice said from behind him, and Malleus glanced around to see Ashley approaching.

“Williams,” he said, nodding a greeting to her. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Well, Bailey needs every piece of help he can get,” she replied. “Anyway, I didn’t really get a chance to talk to you earlier. I just wanted to let you know that I knew you’d pull through from the start.”

“Your faith in me is reassuring,” Malleus said.

“I thought you were a tough one,” Ashley said. “And I was praying for you too. I’ve always believed that everyone has a guardian angel looking out for them, and clearly yours had his eye on the ball.”

“Seeing as that guardian angel would be me, I’m not surprised,” Malleus said. “I always, as you say, ‘have my eye on the ball.’”

Ashley looked at him in confusion, and Malleus explained; “In the Imperium, the Astartes are called the Angels of Death; we were made by the Emperor as the ultimate guardians of humanity.”

“Oh, right,” Ashley said. “I was thinking of a slightly different kind.”

Malleus nodded in recollection, before he said; “Yes, you mentioned you had some god of some sort.”

He glanced down at the woman for a moment moment, noticing the small crucifix pendant that hung on a gold chain around her neck.

“You’re a Cruxian, then?” he asked.

“A what?” Ashley asked.

“I believe that was the name I heard,” Malleus said. “I may have misremembered, though; you worship crosses, practice human sacrifice upon them, yes?”

Ashley’s eyes widened, before she asked; “What the hell gave you that idea?”

“Your sacred symbols often have a figure hung upon them,” Malleus said. “A young man, usually in his physical prime, crucified. I suppose that would be a sacrifice worthy of most gods.”

The Spectre frowned for a moment, before she laughed.

“No, it’s not a sacrifice,” she said. “Though I guess I can kind of see where you’re coming from. That’s supposed to be Jesus.”

“Who?” Malleus asked.

“The Son of God,” Ashley explained. “You don’t know any of this?”

“I’ve been in this galaxy only a few months,” Malleus said. “Most of which I’ve spent fighting the Reapers or their servants. I haven’t really had a chance to learn about the galaxy’s religions. So who is this Jesus, then?”

“As I said, the Son of God,” Ashley replied. “And God himself, at the same time; it’s kind of complicated. But basically, he died on the cross two thousand years ago to save people from sin.”

“And what are your beliefs?” Malleus asked.

“He teaches that we should love our neighbours and forgive those who sin,” Ashley said. “And that there’s nothing more important than being good to those around us. Well, it’s one way of interpreting what he said, but it’s what I think.”

She paused, before she said; “Hey, didn’t you mention you had a god? An Emperor, or something?”

Malleus nodded.

“Indeed, the God Emperor of the Imperium of Man,” he said. “Master of a million worlds, resplendent upon His Golden Throne, neither alive nor dead and sustaining the Imperium and humanity through his suffering and sacrifice.”

“Suffering and sacrifice?” Ashley asked.

“He was betrayed by his most favoured son, Horus, ten millennia ago and fatally wounded,” Malleus replied. “The Golden Throne sustains him to this day, holding the Imperium together through the sustaining of the Astronomican beacon that allows us to travel safely between the stars.”

“So, he’s dying to save mankind,” Ashley said.

“Yes, he is,” Malleus replied.

“Like Jesus!” Ashley said. “Of course, that makes so much sense.”

Malleus frowned in confusion, before he asked; “It does?”

“Well yeah, if you think about it,” Ashley said. “In this galaxy, Jesus died to save us; in yours he’s always dying to save mankind. They were both betrayed as well, so it’s obvious what happened; God sent Jesus to our galaxy, and then did the same thing in yours but was called the Emperor instead.”

Malleus was silent for a moment, before he said; “I do not believe that is the case.”

“Why not?” Ashley asked.

“Only the weak forgive,” Malleus said in reply, recalling the words. “The strong destroy all who offend them and leave none spared except for the faithful. The only way to absolve the sinful is in the holy fires of the God Emperor’s righteous fury.”

He caught the look Ashley was giving him and said in explanation; “From the writings of Saint Emmanuel Clayasus.”

“He sounds kind of…crazy,” Ashley said eventually.

“Actually, in the Imperium he was regarded as a moderate figure,” Malleus said. “But we aren’t inclined to forgive. Frankly the teachings of this Jesus of yours sound like the most preposterous doctrine to found a religion on.”

“What?” Ashley asked. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Forgiveness,” Malleus said. “To forgive is weak; you need to crush those who threaten you, or else you won’t survive.”

“What kind of psychopathic belief is that?” Ashley asked. “That’s horrible!”

“It’s seen humanity through ten thousand years of warfare against countless horrors that you cannot even begin to imagine,” Malleus said. “There are things out there that are far more frightening than Reapers and your doctrine of love and forgiveness would see humanity extinct in a matter of weeks.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Ashley said, an angry set to her stance. “Come on, give me one thing in your galaxy that can be that terrifying.”

“One thing?” Malleus replied. “That’s easy.”

He leaned in close to the Spectre, and said; “Me.”

#

“You didn’t stay out for long, I see,” Bailey said as Malleus entered the main control room. Kullas was also present, and a hologram of the Citadel was floating in the central console. “Tough one, aren’t you?”

“So I’ve been told,” Malleus replied. “What developments have there been since I was unconscious?”

“No major ones so far,” Bailey said. “Morale took a hit after the news got around, but the enemy seem to pushed some of their forces back to guard their home turf; they were worried about people getting through the ducts. Though I took a leaf out of your book, and I’ve had a couple of raids launched out of them, guided by some Duct Rats. So far, it’s not done anything major, but if it makes our lives a bit easier then I’m not complaining.”

“A good plan,” Malleus said. “Though ultimately we need to deal with the enemy fleet if we are to win the day.”

Bailey nodded.

“All we have is the Normandy, though,” he said. “And they’ll have got wise to any attempts to board or take over the Leviathan or one of the Reapers; no way we can try that again.”

The acting Executor sighed, before he said; “I’ve gotta say, Malleus, you really dropped the ball on that one; it was a damn risky thing to do in the first place, storm a ship with just four people, even if two of you were Astartes, and you nearly getting yourself killed didn’t help.”

“Indeed,” Kullas admonished. “The serious, potentially fatal loss of two team members constitutes an unmitigated failure, without a doubt.”

“It was poor luck,” Malleus said. “Though perhaps I had overestimated the forces at my disposal; I’m unused to not commanding my brothers.”

“You were never in charge of mere mortals back home?” Bailey asked slightly incredulously.

“No; it stops an Astartes commander becoming too powerful,” Malleus replied. “The consequences of when we once did that were…unfortunate.”

Bailey shrugged.

“Alright,” he said. “But the problem we’ve got now is that we’re back at square one; there’s a fleet hanging over us, we’re outnumbered and we’re only going to be able to hold out for so long.”

“It’s the fleet that’s the problem here,” Malleus said. “If we removed the Reapers, the Batarians’ nerve will break; they’re not natural warriors. The Yahg, I’m not so sure about.”

“Of course, it’s the enemy fleet that’s our problem,” Bailey said. “Though Kullas says he has a solution.”

Malleus looked over at the Forge Priest.

“And what would that be?” he asked.

“The Citadel,” Kullas replied. “I believe that I may well be able to convert it into a mass driver weapon the likes of which has never before been seen.”

Malleus was quiet for a moment, before he said; “That strikes me as somewhat of a strong claim to make, brother.”

“That’s what I said,” Bailey replied. “Still, he’s got it pretty well thought out.”

“Very well then, go on,” Malleus said.

“The principle of mass driver based weaponry places only the speed of light as the upper limit on the maximum velocity of a round it fires,” Kullas said. “It is possible, I believe, to accelerate a projectile up to ninety nine point nine percent of the speed of light; the only thing that has stopped the Citadel’s peoples from doing so is the power requirements, the recoil and the subsequent heat buildup from frictional forces. I do believe, however, that I have found a solution to both of those problems. If we fire a projectile into cold vacuum, and it is fired without a rail of any kind, then two those problems are eliminated.”

“What of the power requirements?” Malleus asked. “That would be a major issue.”

“That is simple,” Kullas said. “The mass effect generators under this station are designed to provide power to millions of citizens and the millions more devices they need to live their lives, the potential power to the motors of the Citadel’s arms, life support and countless other functions. There is power there, I calculate, to accelerate an object to roughly ninety five percent of the speed of light. Not a particularly massive object, but at the speed it is travelling at that will not particularly matter.”

“How are you going to draw that power?” Bailey asked. “I mean, if I’m completely honest we just siphon it off some central cables that lead to reactors we’re never able to find; we can’t really control the output, seeing as we can’t find a central control panel of any kind.”

In reply, Kullas highlighted the five tips of the Citadel’s arms as well as the Presidium Tower, where it protruded into the centre of the great station’s rings.

“There is one,” the Forge Priest replied. “Saren Arterius accessed it during the First Battle of the Citadel.”

He frowned for a moment, before he said; “Though suspecting the countless genocides the Reapers have enacted through the use of this station, I suspect that the ‘First’ title is an inaccurate one, but I digress. My point remains, however, that for those with the right knowledge control over the Citadel’s systems is possible, and that the panel resides in the top of the Presidium Tower, in the Council Chambers themselves.”

He pointed to the tips of the arms, which he had highlighted red.

“I will adjust the arms to the optimum angle and at the tips of the arms will have Mass Effect generators placed,” he continued. “From there, I will use these to fire into the Reaper vessels and to destroy the mainstay of their fleet. A weapon with the power to kill a Reaper in what I suspect will be just one shot will be more than enough to deter the Batarians to attempt anything with the Leviathan.”

“What will you firing?” Malleus asked. “Considering the amount of debris currently floating inside the Citadel’s arms alone, getting the field generators to fire what we want would be impossible.”

“Well, it is a commonly known fact that they can be used to selectively accelerate certain materials and ignore others,” Kullas said. He drew his bolter and raised it one handed. “And I suspect that we have the only source of adamantium in the galaxy here.”

“It would be difficult as hell to pull off,” Bailey said. “But we might just manage it.”

Malleus nodded.

“Let’s get to work,” he said.



Author’s note (again): You have no idea how much maths I had to do to make sure that Kullas’ Cunning Plan™ would actually work, so ‘preciate it, a’ight?
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Chapter 47-Firepower

“Busy night, huh chief?”

Ancestors, Tali had been dreading this conversation. That feeling hadn’t helped in combination with the fact that she felt like she might vomit at any given moment, and she’d felt positively nauseous as she’d stepped out of Yamzarat Machtoro’s foot hatch. Part of her really didn’t want to speak to Yukio right now, but seeing as she was their resident expert on big guns it was going to have to happen eventually. Even as she’d approached Yukio’s corner of the hangar that she had commandeered for her work, walking around the mass of Yamzarat Machtoro’s railgun, she had noticed the slightly malicious look on her face and was already regretting doing this, however necessary it was.

“No, Kaede,” she said flatly to her God Machine’s Loggat Mistress.

“Yeah, sure,” Yukio said, a somewhat mischievous smile on her face. “So, y’know, you and Andrew had the cockpit locked and were up there all night and were just working, right?”

“Yes,” Tali said. “We were just working.”

“Of course, you two were probably working real hard,” Yukio said. “Getting right deep down into the works.”

“Alright,” Tali said quietly.

“Really cleaning those pipes,” Yukio continued heedlessly.

“Okay, whatever you say,” Tali said, her voice slightly louder and firmer. “Enough, now.”

“Doing some really long, hard work on all those delicate systems,” the Alliance Engineer said. “Making sure that your checks were nice and deep.”

“Enough,” Tali growled.

“Getting real-”

“I said that was enough!” Tali suddenly shouted. “My head hurts, my ribs are broken, I’ve got an irresponsible idiot for a god machine under my command, I’m as sick as a Varren, I’ve just ruined a relationship with a good friend and the last thing I need is for you to start being a stupid, immature bosh’tet!”

The noise in the hangar dropped for a moment, several other members of the crew turning to stare at her, even as her shouting made Tali cough viciously. Yukio grimaced slightly guiltily.

“Sorry chief,” she said.

“No, don’t be,” Tali said, shaking her head. “It’s just not been a good morning. I shouldn’t have shouted like that though. I’m sorry.”

She sat down on a crate, and sighed before she asked; “Can we just forget about it for a minute, please?”

“Yeah, sure,” Yukio said. “Sorry. Again.”

“It’s fine,” Tali said. “Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Man troubles?”

“Kaede…”

“Alright, alright,” Yukio said. “What was it really?”

“This,” Tali said, calling up her omni-tool. “You know I mentioned a replacement for Yamzarat Machtoro’s railgun? Kullas sent me one.”

“Ooh, lemme see,” Yukio said, leaning into the schematic on Tali’s omni-tool.

“I’ll send it to yours,” Tali said. She tapped a few incorporeal buttons on the glowing device, and as Yukio called hers up her eyes widened as she looked over the statistics.

“Look at the power of that thing,” she said. “That’s…”

She trailed off for a moment, before she murmured; “I think I’m in love.”

“Do you think we can build it?” Tali asked. “I looked over the power draws it needs, and they’re pretty huge.”

“If we diverted power from his locomotion we could manage it,” Yukio replied. She tapped a few buttons on her omni-tool. “It’s going to need a good eighty percent of that just to fire at full power, so moving and shooting is out of the question, but I reckon if I could work out how to draw it from there it shouldn’t be so hard.”

“I could do that,” Tali said. “It’s not so different from starship maintenance.”

“Awesome,” Yukio said. She returned her gaze to the weapon’s blueprint. “But look at the power of that thing! It could go through a full-blown Reaper in one shot; against those titans we’d be untouchable.”

She frowned, before she said; “Don’t know what a ‘Lokarim-Zorah Las Focus’ is, though.”

“I do, and can work out how to deal with that,” Tali said, before she sneezed. “Once my head clears up a bit, anyway.”

She crossed her arms and beneath her mask, she pouted slightly. It felt ridiculous, but somehow it made her feel a little better.

“You alright?” Yukio asked.

“It’s just…it’s just Andrew,” Tali said. “I didn’t really think that would ever happen. Not with him.”

Yukio sat down next to her and stuck a hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, I’m pretty sure he liked the idea,” she said.

“What?” Tali asked.

“Well duh, it was obvious he fancied you,” Yukio said. “Not that I blame him.”

“Why would he? He can’t even see my face,” Tali pointed out.

“Yeah, but you’ve got a figure most people would kill for,” Yukio replied. “And anyway, that mask adds mystique, doesn’t it? And if he took it off he must’ve liked what he saw in any case.”

Tali was silent for a moment, before she said; “That’s…disconcerting to hear from you.”

“Really?” Yukio asked. “It’s pretty standard girl talk, isn’t it?”

“I’ve never heard it,” Tali replied quietly.

Yukio was silent for a moment, before her face split into a grin.

“First time?” she asked, a slightly wicked edge to her smile.

“Oh keelah,” Tali murmured. “Fine, yes, it was. You happy?

“So what was he like?” Yukio asked, a somewhat childish edge to her tone.

“I don’t remember,” Tali said. “And even if I did I’m not telling you.”

“Hey, I thought we were friends,” Yukio said.

“We’re not going to be if you carry on this way,” Tali muttered darkly.

Yukio burst out laughing, before she said; “Fine, fine, I won’t ask. But come on, it’s not that bad.”

“Yes it is!” Tali protested. “Look, it’s not like with you humans where you can just do it with whoever you like; if I come out of my suit without being careful I could die! I was just lucky Yamzarat Machtoro’s cockpit was clean.”

“I guess I didn’t think of it that way,” Yukio said. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Tali said.

“I remember my first time,” Yukio said slightly fondly. “Her name was Sarah; we’d both been going out for a while, and then one night we got a bottle of champagne and snuck into a local park. It was dark, the stars were out, and were both a bit drunk. Nice and romantic.”

“Sarah?” Tali asked.

“Yeah,” Yukio said. “I’m a girl girl. I mean, what can I say? I like titties.”

Tali shrugged.

“Oh,” she said. “What happened to her?”

“We grew apart,” Yukio replied. “She wanted to go and study arts and college, I was more interested in mechanics, then I got into the Alliance Military and we just fell out of touch.”

She frowned.

“I hope she’s okay,” she said after a moment.

Yukio shook her head, before she said; “Anyway, we should probably take a look at getting stuff together for this Lance Cannon.”

Tali nodded.

“I was thinking,” she said. “That we could make a weapon mount using his old railgun, maybe cannibalise it off that.”

“Yeah,” Yukio said. “If we put the las generator in where the coils are at the moment, then we can probably use some of the wiring and stuff already in there to help power that focus thing it mentioned in the blueprint.”

“I think I can work out how to do that,” Tali said. “We can use the railgun prongs as a shell for the barrel, and seeing as we’ve got the joints all sorted that shouldn’t be too hard to make.”

She paused as she noticed a Geth running up to them, one of the speaker platforms that had served as translators and spokesmachines for their people.

“Creator Zorah, Loggat-Mistress Yukio,” it said. “We have a high priority notice for you.”

“What is it?” Tali asked, before coughing.

“We have been alerted of Old Machine dreadnoughts making atmospheric entry,” the machine said. “We must warn you that their current trajectory means that they are moving to attack Yamzarat Machtoro.”

“Keelah,” Tali cursed. “Have you got anywhere we can go? There’s no way we can fight them without his railgun.”

“We may be able to stall them until some of our ships arrive,” the platform said.

“Good,” Tali said. “I’m glad we’ve got his shields and armour back into commission.”

She flicked the radio on.

“Attention all of Yamzarat Machtoro’s crew,” she said. “This is Tali’Zorah. I need you all on board right now; we have incoming Reapers and need to get out of here.”

“Almarach Ikmrin?” Yamzarat Machtoro asked, growling. “I will see them vanquished!”

“No,” Tali said. “We’re getting out of here, that’s what we’re doing.”

She hurried to the access hatch, Yukio in her wake, the engineer stopping only to grab some strange looking, bulky rifled from the top of a crate. Tali pulled herself up the ladder, worry making her heedless of the pinging ache in her chest. She was lifted up by Yamzarat Machtoro’s gravity-propulsion, flown up to the cockpit before she was gently placed into the command throne. She swallowed to try and ward off the soreness at the back of her throat, before she said; “Is everyone on board?”

“Aye, Lady Machtoro,” Yamzarat Machtoro replied.

“Good,” Tali said. “I want us moving further into Geth lines, get some air and anti-orbital support.”

“On it,” one of the crew replied.

Andrew hovered into the cockpit, dropping down and hurrying to his console by the side of Tali’s throne. He gave her a slightly awkward grin as they fired it up. Several of the crew kept glancing at them, and she glowered back at them from under her mask. She did not need this, not now.

The cockpit shuddered as Yamzarat Machtoro stepped free of the hangar, the sudden lurching movement giving her vertigo, and stepped across the spaceport, concrete cracking under each tread. Gunships and aircraft were lifting off from the great stretches of tarmac to deal with the encroaching threat, engines becoming miniature crimson stars in the morning sky.

The vulnerable god machine strode away as more aircraft streaked overhead, preparing to do battle with the approaching foe, and Tali gripped onto her staff of office, taking some reassurance from its presence.

His lurching stride carried them from Beijing’s spaceport towards the city limits, where the scorched metropolis would offer them greater shelter from the might of the Reaper forces. Already, Geth comm. chatter indicated that what remained of their fleet was moving to deal with the Reapers while they were at an atmospheric level, where they were forced to lower their shields.

“I’ve got Reapers sighted on the scanners,” Macjec, the monitor for Yamzarat Machtoro’s sensors and power readings called. “Twenty clicks and closing.”

“They in range?” someone called, before Yukio called back; “Of course they’re in range, they’re goddamn starship-grade weapons.”

She glanced over at Tali and said; “What’s the plan, chief?”

Tali thought for a moment, before she said; “Macjec, there’s supposed to be an eezo processing plant nearby, isn’t there?”

“There is, yes,” the crewman replied. “I’ll get it up. Here we go; half a click east of here.”

“Good,” Tali said. “Yamzarat Machtoro, get us in range of the cannon, and then I want you to blow it sky high, understood? There’s no way they’ll be able to see through that sort of dust cloud.”

“I go, Lady Machtoro,” Yamzarat Machtoro replied. “Had I my railgun right now; the destruction I would inflict upon these craven fiends would make them weep in terror!”

“Hold on, big guy,” Yukio replied cheerfully. “We win this and we’ll get you a weapon to make them cry like nothing else.”

“I look forward to it, Loggat Mistress,” Yamzarat Machtoro replied as he strode towards his target, the massive pistons and servos in his legs whining with each movement.

“You’re not the only one,” Yukio grinned.

He reached the large factory building as the first of the Geth aircraft hit the Reapers, unleashing waves of ordnance upon the foe. Bombs and mass-accelerator made plasma blasted against kinetic barriers, waves of light rippling across the shields, while artillery began to fire, softening them up.

Alerts were sent out to the Geth forces, and then Yamzarat Machtoro loaded high-explosive rounds into his cannon and opened fire. The building he targeted seemed to swell and burst like a blister as fire bloomed from within. The roof was ripped free, and great clouds of powdered Element Zero were sent skywards, scattered by the wind and swiftly forming a blinding fog over the scene of combat.

Overhead, through Yamzarat Machtoro’s cameras, Tali saw the first of the Geth ships reach them through the shimmering haze, no doubt making hyper-precise FTL jumps to get from wherever they were sheltering to Earth’s orbit to deal with the Reapers. Railguns, loaded with element zero rounds, sliced through shields to clash against their dark armour, and the Reapers began to coast upwards to deal with the new threat.

The ships fled upwards, the massive dreadnought following even as they swatted enemy craft from the skies, chunks of armour beginning to be battered away by precisely aimed shield-breacher rounds. Their prey hidden from view, the Reapers began to disappear, and Tali breathed a sigh of relief as Yamzarat Machtoro stepped free of the dust cloud, getting back into communication with the Geth Neural Network.

“Somebody get me a status report on what’s happening,” she ordered.

“Council forces were hit by Reapers in orbit a couple of hours ago,” came the reply. “Some of them broke off to try and get Yamzarat Machtoro while he was vulnerable.”

Tali nodded. With the fleet scattered by the Reapers’ sleeper agents and with only the Geth maintaining any semblance of their former numbers, the Reapers had a prime time to strike ground bound forces.

“Are they alright?” she asked, her thoughts suddenly going to Titus and the others down there.

“Not sure; their comms. are pretty choked up, but the Geth ships are moving to try and relieve them.”

“Understood,” Tali said. “Let’s just hope they’re not too late.”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:58 pm

Author’s note: A big, delicious internet cookie to whoever can first spot the cunningly concealed Bioshock reference in this chapter.

Chapter 48-Minds of Gods

Gods descended upon mortals and put them to flight. They were smitten by crimson light, ripped to atoms by a cold, alien wrath, massacred by a might that could be mistaken for the divine. Colossi of shining dark metal hung in the skies above them, tearing great furrows from the living armies that dared to defy them, while fleets of dropships emerged from their hulls, disgorging reinforcements onto the ground. The forces of the Council and their Krogan allies were put to flight in moments.

It would have been pleasant see their retreat was a disciplined, orderly affair, but in the face of such monstrous power that was simply a lie; the armies stumbled around on themselves, beginning to pull back without regard for orders. Some units, held in check by fear of their Commissars, stood their ground, desperately trying to get some semblance of cohesion out of the chaos of battle, but most just ran.

The Kasrkin did no such thing.

They fell back in good order, covering each other with overlapping fire arcs while the rest of them retreated, got to cover and then signalled their comrades to do the same. They fought furious short-range firefights with the Reaper forces that dared accost them, the Atlas mechs providing heavy firepower, machine guns and rockets blasting away at the enemy.

Blinding crimson lanced down only a few blocks away from them, the wave of heat and pressure enough to cause a lull in combat, stumbling warriors on both sides.

Knocked from behind cover, Miranda hastily threw up a biotic barrier as she pulled herself to her feet. She grabbed her rifle from where it lay at her feet, pushing it into her shoulder and opening fire, rounds chattering from her weapon before she ducked back again.

“Frank,” she called to the commander of the Atlas mechs across the radio. “Cover us, we’re falling back.”

“Understood, Lady Castellan,” came the Irish-accented reply. “We’ll give you covering fire.”

“Alpha squad, this is Lady Castellan Lawson,” Miranda said into her radio. “We’re falling back. Prepare to move; move!”

She dashed from cover, sending a biotic warp at an enemy that emerged from cover, sprinting past a toppled building. She slid to a halt as she enemy shots tear past the armour of one of the Kasrkin, one of her Kasrkin, and scrambled to his position. She grabbed his armoured deadweight and pulled, the servos and synthetic muscles in her own body armour granting her the strength she needed to drag her fallen subordinate to cover, before she flicked on her omnitool and ran a diagnostic on him; a quick scan on the lifesigns indicator showed no heartbeat, no neural activity and no breathing.

She cursed, vaulting over cover as rounds pinged against her shields, ducking down as she hurried to the lines of the soldiers under her command, a series of flattened buildings that fronted on a square. She got down, and barked into the radio; “This is Lady Castellan Lawson; we need evac, and we need it now. We have overwhelming numbers of enemy forces on our position, and we have wounded! I repeat, we have wounded and need to get out of here ASAP!”

Overhead, she saw the white and gold bulk of the Thunderhawk shriek above her towards one of the onyx goliaths, accompanied by a flight of Alliance planes. Raven-like Reaper jets swept to intercept them, the Alliance planes peeling off to engage while Kurias kept his course towards his target.

Miranda didn’t have time to follow how that battle went, the radio crackling into life in her ear and say; “This is Hawk Flight; we hear you and are on our way. ETA of thirty seconds.”

“Understood,” Miranda said. “We’ll be waiting.”

She yelled orders to Eagle Squad on their furthest flank to fall back and secure the square, before ducking out and opening fire on the approaching foe. A round slammed into the toppled wall she was sheltering behind and she flinched back, throwing up a biotic barrier before she emerged once more. A heavy weapons trooper was hefting its armament in the direction of one the Atlases and she pulled it into the air and opened fire on it along with several other members of the Kasrkin, recognising that the high-priority target was vulnerable.

There was a whining of engines above them as an Alliance gunship pulled overhead, the machine guns strafing over enemy lines while rockets detonated among their ranks. Behind them, a few dropships began to touch down, the weapons on their sides opening up on the encroaching foe, and Miranda barked; “Charlie Squad, get wounded aboard the nearest dropship and then bug out with. Alpha and Bravo, I want you on the one nearest us; Delta and Eagle, furthest away. Frank, cover us and then fall back!”

Affirmatives came back and Miranda nodded, moving with Delta Squad to the VTOL craft while their gunship and mechs covered them. Rounds slammed into their feet around them or knocked off shields, but they were blessedly sporadic, the Reaper forces too occupied by the vehicle support to bother about the infantry.

“This is Charlie Squad, Lady Castellan,” her radio crackled. “Wounded are aboard and we’re lifting off.”

“Understood,” Miranda said. “Good work.”

The other dropship began to lift off, an alert coming in from Alpha and Bravo, and Miranda pulled herself aboard the last one under the covering fire of its grenade launchers as they lobbed contained lightning into the enemy’s position. She pulled another of the Kasrkin aboard, and glanced around the inside of the craft at Delta and Eagle Squad.

“We all in?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am,” one of the others replied, and Miranda called to the pilot; “Take us up.”

There were thirteen of them, she mused as the craft lifted off. Between two squads, there were only thirteen, both of them had been so heavily mauled by this war. She couldn’t help but feel slightly angry with herself for not quite living up to her responsibilities as well as she could have, that she could have coordinated them better or perhaps something else, but soon enough she banished those thoughts. This was war, and as much as she hated seeing it to happen to the people under her responsibility, it was grim inevitability.

The craft lifted up past a fire-gutted building, and Miranda looked over Lille. War had transformed the once pleasant historical city into a hellscape, flames crackling across entire districts while many buildings had been reduced to undulating piles of pulverised rubble. As she watched, one of the Reapers fired its massive weapons, tearing a whole swathe out of the city and leaving blazing devastation in its wake. Miranda flicked through radio channels, but they were an impenetrable mess of distress calls, static and garbled, indecipherable orders; it had been nothing short of a miracle that those dropships had picked them up at all.

“We’ve got enemy aircraft moving towards us,” their pilot warned. “Taking evasive manoeuvres.”

The craft lurched as it dropped downwards, narrowly avoiding a beam weapon shot while it turned to give one of the gunners an opportunity to open up. It swayed upwards again as an enemy gunship pulled towards it, the other dropships holding the Kasrkin taking similar evasive maneuvres against the enemy aircraft, and Miranda sent a bolt of warping energy towards, hoping to disrupt its shields.

It fired again, the fingers housing the weapons pointing like a hand casting judgement, and the beam of energy it fired speared through the side of the craft, impaling an engine and burning through the passenger compartment. One of the Kasrkin was hit, the shot tearing past their shields and armour and all but oblitering their chest, and the craft began to tumble as the pilot desperately wrestled with the controls. Miranda grabbed hold of an overhead rail as it span uncontrollably, whirling madly towards the ground as its engines fought to keep it aloft.

The last thing Miranda saw before darkness overtook her was the side of a flame-gutted building rushing up to meet her.

#

Titus’ shotgun barked as it sent a fullisade of hyper-accelerate sand particles into the enemy before him, three shots blasting past its shields and armour, stumbling it back and knocking it to the ground.

Behind him, Grunt roared as he sent a Reaper soldier to the ground with a throw, stamping down on its helmeted head. The Krogan barrelled into another enemy, swinging a punch and stumbling his enemy before smashing it down with a blast from his own shotgun.

A thud sounded from behind them as Legion fired its massive Widow rifle, punching a Reaper soldier from its feet, and a second enemy fell as it changed aim. Garrus’ own lighter rifle snapped as he fired from ground level, squeezing off a few shots into the head of a footsoldier, and the Turian growled a curse as he was forced to duck behind cover as three enemies turned their weapons upon them.

The team were in a fighting retreat, a small locus of order which disparate Council soldiers had attached themselves to in the swirling melee that was the Reaper counterattack. With comms. shot to hell, most soldiers were desperately trying to fall back and consolidate their position with as much of a semblance of order that they possibly could, but with the enemy pressing against them in greater and greater numbers that was becoming even trickier.

Cyralius barrelled in from a sideroad, seemingly from nowhere, and slammed his staff into an enemy footsoldier, knocking it to the ground before letting balefire lance from his staff and into a cluster of the foe.

“Brother!” Titus called over the din of combat, opening up with his shotgun while the banner he held flapped in the breeze, though by now calling the scorched, bullet-hole pocked weave of adamantium fibres with the sigil of the Sons of Thunder and the golden ‘VI’ barely visible on it was probably over-generous. “Over here!”

Cyralius sprinted to his position, his submachine gun chattering as he fired towards the enemy, and said; “What’s the situation?”

“Not good,” Titus said. “We’re falling back, trying to do it with as much order as we can.”

“Falling back?” Cyralius asked. “How far?”

“Emperor only knows,” Titus replied, squeezing off a pair of shots before unclipping the thermal drum of his weapon and slamming a new one home. “Might be the edges of town, might be the countryside, might be all the way back to the coast. But with those things in the sky and more reinforcements coming in every minute, we can’t keep the offensive up.”

“What about Kurias and the Thunderhawk?” Cyralius asked, sending a bolt of lightning crackling into the enemy.

“Skies are too hot for him to make a safe pass with the turbolaser,” Titus replied. “But we need some way of dealing with those things.

Cyralius nodded.

“I might be able to deal with that,” he said. “I can teleport aboard; it will be a long distance port, and I’ll probably only be able to do it once, but if I can get to its engine core then I can take it out.”

“Alright then, brother,” Titus said. “That will take some of the pressure off, at least. Lightning of His wrath.”

“Thunder of His hate,” Cyralius replied.

The Epistolary stepped behind cover, drawing on every last reserve of his power. He recalled the scans the Normandy had made of the dead Reaper upon Mnemosyne, and focussed his mind upon where he knew the core would be. He picked his target, one of the behemoths that hung above them, before he pulled at the skeins of reality with Dark Matter, before he pushed past and into the roiling insanity of the Warp.

He squinted the eyes of the mind, focussing on nothing but his target, blocking out everything else; even in its uncorrupted state, it was still a place that was antithesis to sanity, and he made his way to his target in a timeframe that was both nothing at all and an eternity. And then he ripped into the cool, dark corridors of one of the Reapers.

He fell to a knee, panting in exhaustion, resting the base his staff on the ground for support. He groaned as he pulled himself to his feet, grimacing in pain at the expenditure of effort, and shook his head.

Your arrival is unexpected, Astartes.

The voice seemed come from everywhere at once, and Cyralius straightened up before he said; “I presume this is one of the Reapers speaking to me.”

You are correct, Astartes.

“May I ask your name?” Cyralius asked, striding through the corridor.

There was a long, low rumbling noise, a god chuckling at the impertinence of mortals, before it said; You may address me as Archon. You are Cyralius Lockheim, of the Adeptus Astartes.

“Indeed I am,” Cyralius replied. “You sound remarkably confident for a being that has an Astartes striding around within their corridors.”

I am assuming you make for my core, Archon replied. You will be too late. I have soldiers moving to your position, and my core is five decks above you. You shall never reach it before you are overwhelmed, Astartes.

There was a blast of displaced air as Cyralius rose through five decks, appearing in the glowing core centre.

“Thank you for those directions,” Cyralius said. “They were most helpful.”

With a force of will, he pulled together the doors that gave entry and exit from the core’s room, soldering the doors together with a licking tongue of superheated flame and destroying the mechanisms that would allow the door to open. Those would take a while to open. He swayed slightly at this, suddenly light headed, and mentally reprimanded himself for such expenditure of power after so long-range a teleport; it seemed that this greater power was a drain on his stamina.

“Now that we have a little privacy, we can talk,” the Epistolary said.

Talk? You wish to converse, insignificant creature?

“Considering the trouble we have put you through merely for one planet, I cannot help but feel that the insignificant descriptor is somewhat inaccurate,” Cyralius said. “But yes, I wish to ask you some questions. I am curious about you Reapers.”

There is nothing to talk of, Astartes. We are eternal, we are unstoppable, and we will last beyond the death of the universe itself. Fear us.

“I have faced creatures far more frightening than you,” Cyralius replied. “Now, I wish to ask you questions. Namely, what is your motive?”

Our motives are incomprehensible to organic minds, Archon answered. You cannot hope to understand them.

“I have looked upon a realm of pure insanity and bent it to my will,” Cyralius replied. “I am quite sure I can understand what motivates you.”

You would be unable came the answer.

“Very well,” Cyralius said. “It is clear you are not feeling cooperative. No matter.”

He reached out with his psyche, and touched the mind of the Reaper.

It was not so much a mind as it was, as he looked upon it, a machine spirit, ancient, lingering and malignant. Old machinery, he knew, acquired more of a individualistic machine spirit than that which was newly made, and the Reaper before him was billions of years in age, made all the stronger by the fact that it was an artificial intelligence. In all its many years of existence, it had developed something akin to a mind and a soul, and it was this that Cyralius’ mental probe brushed against.

He saw a world that burned and writhed under the harsh glare of a dying star, ravaged by heat and radiation. Cancerous, blighted peoples lived miserable lives so short that they measured time in generations, not years. Desperately, they worked to escape the gaze of their merciless sun, blasting into space only to discover, with bitter realisation, their lives were no longer away from their star.

They found themselves caught up in a war between gods, on one side near-incomprehensible immortals made partly from some impossible substance that seemed to warp reality, and on the other beings of pure energy. As insignificant as gnats to a Thresher Maw, the scurrying creatures from a blasted world were utterly ignored by the deities that made war upon one another. They watched from the shadows of the infant galaxy, colonising worlds where it was safe from the apocalyptic battles that raged across the void. When the immense war finally reached its death throws, where a hooded, scythe wielding giant as large as a gas giant and a burning god with blood-soaked hands choked the life from each other and died together, they emerged to try and take what was theirs.

They met other peoples, them too cowering in the shade cast by the immense conflict, and soon enough war began to rage over differences in culture and claims to territory and resources. With their forms so warped and ravaged by cancers and tumours, the people of the blasted world could not hope to win the war with conventional means, and so they abandoned their natural forms. Great onyx bodies were built, each one the size of dreadnoughts, a mighty fleet of colossal vessels made from strong, black metal and armed with weapons that fired streams of liquid metal, able to shear through armour and shields alike. The minds of their most merciless and cunning warriors left their bodies and took possession of the great ships.

Their enemies were scattered and annihilated, and the victorious people celebrated, but as the ship-bound minds looked out upon the galaxy, with a perspective granted to them by immortality, seeing the war that had raged before their arrival, the war that raged after their emergence and the wars that raged far away from them on the other side of the galaxy, realised that conflict was the inevitable fate of all life in the galaxy. Each emergent power did battle with those established, and it seemed that all would happen to the galaxy was conflict and misery. Cold, logical minds considered this, and the solution was arrived upon.

Do you see, then, why we do this? Archon’s voice rumbled, the noise pulling Cyralius from his intrusion into the Reaper’s mind back into reality. From the doorway, he could see a glowing orange spot slowly creeping down the seam of the metal portal. Organic civilisations rise, and if left unchecked the entire galaxy would have spent an eternity in war and anarchy. We are the keepers of order, allowing each people their time before the stage is cleared for the next act. We allow them to live, to expand and develop their culture, and then, when the time is right, we make way for the next peoples.

Cyralius shook his head.

“Your time is passed,” he said. “Humanity’s age is come, and you must move aside.”

Your age is over, before it even began, Archon replied. We have given you your fair time, but your defiance is unnecessary. Are we not fair? Are we not merciful? Your allotted time has been expended. Give way and die along with the rest of your kind, Astartes.

“I’m afraid that can’t be done,” Cyralius replied. “I am sworn under oath to safeguard the realms of humanity until the death, and simply rolling over and dying would a terrible dereliction of duty, something that I would never be able abide.”

Your opinion is irrelevant, Archon replied as Cyralius gathered psychic force on the end of his staff, the Aquila at its tip beginning to glow with unearthly heat.

“On the contrary, Reaper, yours is,” Cyralius replied, raising his staff. “Our victory is a certainty.”

He smiled grimly, face cast into harsh light of the hellfire that burned at the end of his weapon.

“From thine own heart, I stab at thee,” he said, before unleashing a lance of psychic power. Laced with power and dark matter, the glowing core was thrown into disarray, the spinning rings surrounding it jolting and jarring out of place. Metal melted as the generator went wild, crashing out of place with arcs of jolting electricity, and darkness fell over the room just as the door opened.

Cyralius spun, unleashing a wave of electricity into the enemies that surged forwards, knocking several to the ground before barrelling forwards into the rest. He may not have been half the melee fighter that Malleus, Gaius or Titus were, but was still Astartes and that made him a formidable opponent, his great strength and reactions letting him shove past the enemy before him. He ignored the pain at the back of his skull, focussing on getting past the press of opponents before he broke free of them. He needed to get to the outer hull, and fast; attempting to teleport in his current state of exhaustion could well result in his demise.

Beneath his feet, he could begin to feel the floor gently tip.

A blow struck the back of his armour, and he tumbled, his balance thrown by the steadily increasing incline in the floor. Somehow, he managed to roll into an upright position, coming to rest against a wall that was rapidly becoming a floor, and dived to the left as his enemies that were chasing him suddenly fell, a crush of dark metal that slammed into the wall.

The surface his feet sprinted along was ribbed and bulging, like the gullet of some great animal, and finding a purchase was trickier than he first thought it would be. But he persevered, pushing towards where he thought he might find a hangar, past disorientated Reaper footsoldiers which he knocked away with a blow from his staff, such attacks more than enough to deal with them.

There was a deep, long groan of protesting metal as Cyralius made his way into some kind of storage room of the machine, where spider-like repair drones were scuttling across damaged Reaper soldiers and tending to their wounds, while freshly repaired ones were loaded into hovering carrying racks and pushed away. They worked blindly, ignoring the Epistolary and he in turn ignoring them, knowing he had higher priorities than dealing with these drones.

He broke into a hangar, where several Reaper soldiers turned to face him, trying to board a gunship despite the incline in the floor, but Cyralius paid them little heed; the only attention that he gave them was to smash the head of his staff into the visor of one of his enemies that tried to bar his way towards the open portal in the Reaper’s side that the ship would exit from.

He paused at its edge, enough to see Lille slowly rising towards him and murmur “Blessed Emperor, that’s a fall,” before he stepped out of the exit hole.

He fell, fell without a jump pack or a parachute, gathering together his last reserves of psychic power to repeat the trick he had seen Samara perform when they first saw her on Ilium; to slow his fall with biotics.

Wind screamed past him as he descended, moving towards what he guessed were Council lines, though considering the state they were in just a few minutes before he could be completely off. Nonetheless he persevered, guiding his fall the best that he possibly could before the ground loomed up towards him.

He caught himself in a net of psychobiotic force, landing on his boots and raising his submachinegun as he cast around for any hostiles.

“Titus,” he said into the vox bead. “Titus, brother, this is Cyralius. I’ve dealt with one of the Reapers and am trying to get to friendly lines.”

All he got in return was a mess of static, and he tried the frequency again but to no avail. He flicked through the rest of the vox lines, but all of them were jammed with garbled messages and half-heard communications. He knew that comm. operations in the midst of huge scale battles such as this one were hardly easy, hence why the Alliance and indeed the Imperial Guard often depended on runners to pass on information in the middle of a battlefield, but the panic that the sudden arrival of the Reapers had turned the Councils forces’ comms into anarchy.

He looked up at the five remaining giants as they hung in the sky and shook his head. Emperor knew how they were going to manage it, but they were still stuck with dealing with those monstrosities.

That, he decided, was not currently his biggest concern, though. Instead, he thought, he had the more pressing issue of trying to get back to friendly lines.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:42 pm

So the Reapers are alt-Necrons then? Cools.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:35 pm

Author’s note: Recommended listening: Escape, by Jóhnann Jóhnann, from his album And In the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees, winner of the Colonel Mustard Most Awesome Title I’ve Ever Heard Of Award.

Chapter 49-City of the Dead

She awoke to pain.

It burned across her ankle, a red line of agony, and Miranda grimaced as she glanced down, seeing one of the boots she wore at an unnatural angle away from the rest of her. She shifted her position, trying not to put any pressure on the abused joint, and winced as the movement caused the many cuts and bruises across her body to flare up slightly. It was quiet, and she could smell ash on the air.

She remembered, vaguely, crashing through the side of the building as the craft was shot down, falling through the wall in a welter of steel and fire, desperately hoping that her armour would protect her from the whirlwind of shrapnel and shattered glass. Miranda could recall the impact, falling unconscious for a few minutes, waking shortly afterwards only for her exhausted brain to take over and force her into sleep. She could see the wrecked craft just a few metres away from her, embedded in the side of the wall, a burned out hulk.

She pulled herself into a sitting position, hissing in quiet pain, before she fumbled at the utility belt of her armour. Clumsily, her fingers closed on a cylinder of medigel, laying it carefully next to her in easy reach, before she pulled her leg up, yanked and twisted.

She gritted her teeth as she felt bone scrape against bone, turning it despite the protests of her nervous system and pushing it back into place, her eyes wide in shock and pain. Holding the bone down, trying to ignore the fire screaming in the joint, she grabbed the needle with a shaking hand, slid the metal point past the seals in her armour that allowed her to move her feet and injected it. The stuff felt strangely cool as it entered her bloodstream, moving to knit the bone together, and she panted quietly as it went to work. She leant back, resting as best as she could as the injury repaired itself, trying not to lapse into unconsciousness. The air inside her helmet felt hot and heavy, and she pulled it off; her hair, loose from the elastic band that held it in place, fell about her shoulders, lank, greasy and tangled from the heat and sweat of combat.

Slowly, painfully, she pulled herself to her feet as the bone in her foot pulled itself together. She scanned over the blackened and scorched room she had been thrown into, seeing the armoured bodies scattered across it. She called up her omnitool, scanning over them for life signs, before shaking her head; nothing.

Outside, she couldn’t hear anything. The city was silent, stark contrast to the cacophony of war that resounded across the ruined metropolis. She flicked through the comm. frequencies, but nothing more than static met her search. She cursed quietly.

She pulled herself to her feet, grimacing from the pain in her ankle as she limped away, looking for a way down. She didn’t call for help, knowing that all it would do would bring enemy forces down on her head. Instead, she gritted her teeth and headed to the exit.
The corridor she entered was scorched by fire, and parts of the floor had fallen away, showing the levels below. Bits of the ceiling too had collapsed, small piles of rubble scattered across the floor and the supporting crossbeams, usually hidden above, were now exposed like the ribs of a skinned corpse. Carefully, she hobbled over the floor that looked safe to her, limping slowly with a hand on the wall to support her, and she came to a halt at the end of the corridor as she came to a stairwell. She stopped by a blasted out window, and looked out over what remained of Lille, and her eyes widened in shock.

The red horseman had ridden through the city and left utter ruination in his wake. The once pleasant town had been utterly savaged, ripped apart by the sheer intensity of the battle that had raged in its streets. Roads had been covered in lumps of broken rubble and twisted metal as buildings had collapsed into them, while those structures that remained had been blasted by explosions and scorched by flames, the bare bones of their underlying body all that remained. In the distance was a glossy black hill, and it took her a moment to realise it was a wrecked Reaper, somehow brought down by the Council’s forces. The sky was dark with ashy clouds, and she could see the dark shapes of carrion birds flying overhead, cawing raucously as they searched out a meal.

Not that those will be hard to find, Miranda thought bitterly, looking at the broken corpses of a few human and Turian soldiers that lay in the street just below her. From her vantage point, she could see no Reaper forces present; no doubt they were all pressing on the Council’s beleaguered army, and judging by the fact that she could see no enemy corpses, most of those had probably been dragged away for repair.

She shook her head, stepping away from her vantage point, beginning to carefully, painfully, limp down the stairs. Her goal was, currently, those corpses she had seen below; she could scavenge some thermals and medi-gel from them. From there, she would have to work her way back to friendly lines.

She ended up leaving the building by window, the entryway blocked by rubble, carefully climbing out of the frame of shattered glass to drop onto the dirt and tangled metal, cursing quietly and biting back a sob as she landed awkwardly, pain flaring in her injured ankle. She wanted to sit down, take a rest, but instead she hobbled towards the bodies, wincing with each step.

She fell to her knees by the bodies, fumbling through the webbing of one of the bodies, taking a few canisters of medi-gel from within and injecting another into her damaged ankle. She took a few thermals with hands that were shaking, ignoring the fact that one of them was sticky with congealed blood, before picking up the man’s Avenger from where it lay in the dirt, clamping it in place over her shoulder. She stooped by a length of twisted metal, picking it up carefully, trying not to put pressure on her injured limb and used it as a staff to support her, pulling herself up on it.

A crow flapped down, landing on one of the nearby corpses, pecking at the bullet wound in the body armour the dead man wore, pulling a chunk of meat from the gash. It swallowed its grisly meal, before it hopped in a circle and regarded her curiously with glossy black eyes. It cawed hopefully.

“I’m not dead yet,” Miranda said to the bird in reply, pulling herself painfully to her feet.

She hobbled away from the bodies, limping slowly towards a burned out building, unwilling to stay out in the open for too long. She flicked through various light spectra with her bionic, scanning for danger, but she could see nothing ahead.

Her journey was painfully slow, Miranda limping and shuffling like some beggar or crone through the ruined city. She passed corpses splayed across the streets, human, Turian, Asari, Salarian and Krogan, all made equal in death. Shattered buildings reared from the ground like broken teeth or snapped bones, while wrecked and fire-gutted vehicles were evident all across the city, blasted apart by the Reapers’ beam weapons. That wouldn’t do; if she wanted to get back to Council lines quickly, she would need to find one that could actually drive.

She made it maybe halfway across town before she was forced to stop, every other step now eliciting a flair of pain in her ankle. Her jaw hurt from where it had been clenched together, and she bit back a sob as she sat down, feeling the sting of tears in her remaining eye. She wouldn’t cry, she told herself. It was only pain. Crying was weak and she couldn’t be weak; she had to be strong. That was one of the first lessons her father had taught her, that all people had respected was strength and that was all that kept them in line; not brute force, of course not, but you had to be steel if you wanted respect. She remembered reading in The Prince, a book prescribed to her at the age of eight by order of her father, that it was better to be feared than to be loved, and her father had always told her that that was the greatest truth when it came to dealing with people.

Just another part of his moulding, she reflected bitterly. But look at her now; stranded behind enemy lines with a ravaged ankle, her genetically tailored looks marred with an ugly, lumpen bionic. She could probably get something more elegant, but she wouldn’t; the artificial eye that clung to her cheekbone, forehead, nose and temple felt strong, resilient, and that was what she was being. She had beaten him, saved Oriana, got her safely away and now here she was, shattering every one of his hopes for his would-be heir with everything she did. If he could see her now, working as an unpaid Alliance soldier in arguably the most dangerous place in the galaxy, stealing from the dead, he’d probably die of shock.

“I’ve won,” she triumphantly announced to nobody in particular, smiling vacantly. “I beat you, dad. In every single way. Look at me now!”

She took one of her scavenged medi-gel canisters, leant down and injected it into her ankle, feeling the third dosage of the viscous liquid wrap around the broken bone and get to work in pulling the calcium back together. No doubt it would have to be treated properly once she got back to Alliance lines, and possibly even re-broken after its treatment; even if that wasn’t the case, treating damaged bones with medi-gel was rarely reliable, usually leaving excessive growths of calcium once it was finished, and that would have to be dealt with in any case.

She leant up, savouring the feeling of the gel as it cooled the burning in her ankle, scanning her surroundings for-

Movement. Just ahead of her, a stone skittering down the top of a pile of scree. She tensed, eyes flicking across the facade of a ruined building, scanning for any threats. One hand went to her weapon, the other dropping the empty gel canister, before she pushed it into her shoulder as it unfolded and, with inching caution, pulled herself to her feet.

“Who’s there?” she asked.

Silence answered her query, and she crept forwards slowly. She could feel her heartbeat beginning to increase in pace, drumming in her ear and she took a deep breath to try and keep herself steady.

“Come out,” she ordered. After a few moments, she changed tack. “I’m a friend. I’m not going to hurt you, I just want to know who you are.”

Quiet met this request, before a moment later a face peered round the corner to look at her. Then the watcher stepped into full view.

It was a child. Her face was scratched and slightly bruised, grubby with dirt, and her brown hair was matted with dirt and grease, and she looked at Miranda with tired, frightened eyes. She was, at Miranda’s guess, about six or seven years old, though she looked aged by hunger and fear. Miranda felt a pang of sympathy in her gut as she realised what the girl must have been through in the last few weeks, living as a survivor in a Reaper-occupied city; no child should have to go through that.

“It’s alright,” Miranda said gently. “I’m here to help.”

The girl looked at the heavily armoured woman warily, and Miranda smiled gently.

“I’m Miranda,” she said. “What’s your name?”

The girl was quiet, before she mumbled nervously; “Antoinette. Antoinette Loiselle.”

“Alright, Antoinette,” Miranda said. “Is there anyone looking after you?”

The girl seemed to think for a moment, before she shook her head.

Miranda nodded, before she said; “Are you alright, Antoinette? Do you need anything?”

“I’m hungry,” the girl said after a moment’s thought. “I can’t find anything to eat.”

Miranda reached to the webbing on her armour and pulled a ration bar from one of the pouches in it, holding it out to the girl. Antoinette stepped forwards after a few cautious moments and took it, unwrapping it and biting down on the calorie-rich food, too hungry to care for the fact that it tasted like stale porridge compressed into a rough block.

“Antoinette, I was going to get to somewhere safer than here. I can take you with me.”

Antoinette nodded, and stepped forwards carefully. She extended a thin, dirty hand and Miranda slung her rifle over her shoulder before taking it, still leaning on her staff of broken rebar.

Together, they went into the ruins of Lille.

#

They had found the jeep after an hour of searching through the shattered city. One of its doors had been ripped away, but its engine started and the sturdy four wheel drive was able to navigate its way through the rubble strewn streets with relative ease. Antoinette was sitting in the cupola, once Miranda had deactivated the machine gun mounted up there, keeping a lookout for anyone potentially hostile, while the Lady Castellan was in the driver’s seat, trying to ignore the pain in her ankle as she drove.

“Are we going home?” Antoinette asked after a few silent minutes of driving.

Miranda paused for a moment, unsure of what to say, before she answered honestly; “No. We’re going somewhere else, somewhere safer.”

“I want to go home,” Antoinette said after a moment.

Miranda frowned at this. It would have, she felt, almost be better if there had been a hint of childish anger or tantrum-like frustration in there at not getting here way, but Antoinette simply sounded resigned and disappointed. Somehow, that was even more upsetting.

They broke free of the city limits, entering the countryside around Lille. The more open landscape was equally battered by the attentions of the war, craters blasted in fields and country roads, crop arcologies knocked apart, while the wrecks of vehicles and more bodies were scattered across them. Miranda flicked through radio channels as she drove on, searching for some friendly signal, but she could find nothing. Either the Reapers were jamming it or she was too far away for short range communications. She needed to get back, even if it was simply for the sake of getting her unexpected charge to safety.

“I can see someone,” Antoinette suddenly called down to her.

“Who?” Miranda asked. “Are they friendly?”

“That way,” Antoinette said. “I don’t think they can see us. But it’s the same people at Lille; they’re all wearing black. They’re dangerous.”

Miranda pulled to a halt, shutting down the ignition, before she hissed to Antoinette; “Get out. Come on, we need to hide.”

Antoinette was already climbing down from the cupola, and clambered free of the vehicle. Together, they hurried free, Miranda limping as fast as she could. They scrambled past the ditch on the side of the road, fleeing through a field before they found a hiding place, a foxhole dug into the side of the road, a toppled tree covering it from view.

“They saw the car,” Antoinette hissed as she climbed down, helped by Miranda. “I think they’re coming this way.”

They crouched down, pressing against the side of the hole. Unconsciously, they huddled together, listening out for any sign of danger.

“I’m scared,” Antoinette whispered.

“Be brave,” Miranda replied. “We’ll be alright, I promise.”

They fell silent, unwilling to risk any noise, every moment seeming to draw itself out and string time along. They strained their ears, listening out in the quiet for anything that approached.

The sound of boots crunching on gravel reached their ears, and they pressed closer together in mutual fear. Normally, Miranda could have probably taken a small squad of these enemies if she was quick and clever, but she was exhausted and with a broken ankle. She doubted she could manage one in her current state.

Instead, she pressed herself against the dirt sides of the foxhole-come-crater, trying to hide from view. Antoinette huddled close to her, barely daring to breathe, and Miranda whispered; “Don’t be afraid; we’ll be fine. I promise.”

There was a thump as a foot landed by the fallen tree-trunk, and they huddled together in order to hide from view, Miranda taking Antoinette’s hand in hers even as her heart hammered in her chest. They were utterly silent, not daring to breathe, both of them too afraid of the consequences of making any noise whatsoever.

There was the sound of retreating footsteps, and but they didn’t move. They waited for well over an hour, simply lying still in their shelter, not daring to make any movement, but finally they emerged. Darkness was beginning to fall.

Still holding hands, Miranda and the child she had taken into her care made for their vehicle and friendly lines.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:36 pm

Content warning: The following chapter may cause you to cry man tears (or possibly woman tears, though as far as I can tell my readership is entirely male). Colonel Mustard can take no responsibility for emotional outbursts or women thinking you’re cute because of it.

Though seriously, just use that as an opportunity to work the sensitive angle. You misogynistic, manipulative bastard.

Also, 150,000 words, whoo!

Chapter 50-Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath

Zaeed was dead.

It had been sudden. One round into his stomach after his shields had failed, the mercenary doubling over, dropping his rifle before righting himself. Pistol drawn and cursing furiously, he fired a brace of shots before a second hit his shoulder and forced him to drop the weapon.

He had survived one shot to the head more than twenty years ago. He had been lucky then, lucky and angry. Yet all his rage failed to save him a second time.

His body was still out there one the distant battlefield, prone and broken and irrecoverable until the war ended. Most likely it would end up in a mass grave; there would be a lot of them dug once this war was over.

“We can’t win this, not here,” Suvat said as he looked over the holographic map in the command tent. “And there’s no way we can fall back either. Not with those Reapers still in the air.”

Titus nodded as he looked over the projection. It made for grim stuff, casualty figures skyrocketing, nearly all of their planes shot down or grounded for repairs. Much of their armour had been obliterated, while their VTOLs were grounded while the dreadnoughts hung overhead, and aircraft packed with fleeing soldiers and wounded would be all-too-easy targets for their lethal guns.

The Geth had made a push on them, hours earlier, but the Reapers had been forewarned somehow; despite the synthetics’ spirited attempt at combating them, they had been repelled, blasted from the skies and forced into flight. No other help seemed forthcoming. Even with the Reaper-made anti-orbital gun that they had managed to capture, they had no way of fending them off, not without time to dig in and examine the weapon properly, to reverse engineer its secrets. Most likely they would need Kullas for that, but with him on the Citadel that wouldn’t be happening for some time yet.

“So,” Suvat said. “Anyone have a plan? Of any kind?”

“We fight,” Wrex said. “We don’t have any choice in the matter anyway, so we may as well go down with some style.”

“Unfortunately, that won’t win us the war,” Titus said. “We need some way of taking those Reapers out of commission. After that, we can fall back, dig in and prepare for whatever comes next.”

“What about the Thunderhawk?” Mehriss suggested. “If we pooled all our remaining planes together-”

“The Reapers would guess what we’re up to and would bring even more of theirs onto the field,” Suvat said. “We’d be outnumbered, and we’d have no way for it to get close enough for a good shot with that laser.”

Silence fell over the small prefab command building that had been set up within Calais, broken only by the sounds of distant explosions and gunfire.

“I believe,” Cyralius said after a moment. “That I may have the solution.”

“You do?” Mehriss asked.

“Indeed,” Cyralius said. “I have given it much thought, and I think it’s our best possible chance against the Reapers.”

“How are you going to do that?” Titus asked.

“It’s somewhat complex,” Cyralius replied. “But all I need to do is get as close as I can to the enemy. After that, I can deal with them.”

#

The team had shrunk. Before, they had been sixteen strong, but fate had stripped that away from them; Gaius, Jacob, Hullen and Zaeed dead, Thane leaving, Malleus, Kullas and Samara on the Citadel, Tali with Yamzarat Machtoro and Miranda disappeared. All that remained was Jack, Grunt, Legion, Garrus and Mordin, as well as Cyralius and Okeen, just half of their original number.

“Our mission is simple,” Titus said. “We’re moving as close as we safely can to those Reapers and Cyralius says he’ll be able to deal with them from there. That’s it. Any questions?”

None were asked, and the team moved out.

Titus could see their exhaustion as he lead the way through the Council lines, tiredness etched on the face of every one of them. In the last thirty six hours, they had managed to snatch but a few of sleep, and even then the time in between was occupied only by the furious whirlwind of combat or attempts to coordinate and plan forces. Through the ruined city they went, past triage stations for the wounded, past thudding artillery batteries and chattering flak, into combat itself. They hit the frontlines, fighting through the attempts of the Reapers to stop them, sweeping aside resistance. Cyralius, Titus noticed, seemed to be being sparing with his powers, but considering how much he had been using them the last few days, Titus wasn’t surprised; either that, or he was saving them for whatever it was he had planned.

The combat was a furious affair, enemy fire a near constant factor as Reaper soldiers pushed in endlessly. However many were cut down, there were always more ready to try and avenge their comrade’s end, and they reached the very edges of the Alliance front when Titus called their advance to a halt.

“This is as far as we can go,” he called to Cyralius, levelling his shotgun and blasting a foe from its feet with two squeezes of the trigger. “Close enough?”

“It’ll have to be,” Cyralius replied. “Well, this is it.”

He emptied the magazine of his submachine gun into the chest of a Reaper soldier, before he clipped it to his belt. He slammed both of his fists together over his breastplate and bowed his head to Titus, before said; “Brother, it has been an honour. Keep an eye on Jack for me.”

The Epistolary dared not look at Jack as she pulverised a trio of enemies with a biotic shockwave. If he did, he feared he would most likely lose all resolve for what he was about to do.

Instead, he spread his arms wide, staff held in one hand as he drew in power from the infinite well of the Warp. Ribbons of light streamed around him as he began to rise gently into the air, spiralling over his form as he began to float higher and higher. Titus watched transfixed as Empyreal energy flowed into Cyralius’ form, the Son of Thunder becoming a glowing beacon in the sky as bright as any signal flare.

A wind began to blow, tugging at the tattered remnants of the banner and any loose material, while Cyralius rose further, supported by a shining column of pyschobiotic power, arms still held wide. Above his head, dark cloud began to swirl in a whirlpool, a vortex of smoky black crisscrossed with flashes of lightning. He broke past the height of Calais’ battered buildings, still climbing, and the battle began to lull as soldiers on both sides bore witness to the spectacle occurring right before their eyes. He was at the eye of a dervish of impossible energies, one that whirled around him like a miniature hurricane, a glowing sphere of spinning light that hid him from view.

They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me,” Cyralius’ gentle tenor sounded across the battlefield, unspoken yet heard by every ear. “ Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed.

Sensing a threat, the five Reapers that presided over the battlefield like judges raised their weapon arms to fire, screaming beams of hyper-accelerated liquid metal spearing into the ball of psychobiotic energy that surrounded Cyralius. Instead of destroying him, he simply captured it and added it to the whirlwind of pure power around him, taking it for his own.

They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them,” Cyralius spoke further, gathering yet more power. At the very eye of his psychic storm, he could feel his skin prickling from the unnatural energies that screamed around him. “They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.

It seemed to reach a peak, energy coruscating around him even faster, an unstoppable hurricane of pure, undiluted insanity.

“I am Cyralius Lockheim of the Sons of Thunder!” Cyralius’ voice rang across the field. “I am the oncoming storm! I am the lightning of His wrath! I am the thunder of His hate! For the Emperor! For all the Galaxy!”

The hold he had kept upon his gathered power, wound tight as a spring, was released.

A wave of roiling dark energy and Warp matter burst from Cyralius’ airborne position in a single great ring, screaming through the air at breakneck speed. Flame, lightning, ice and thunder boiled around each other, writhing with dark matter, combining into one unstoppable, impossible force of focussed, reality-bending insanity.

It the Reapers, a single blast wave that ripped past their kinetic barriers, sheared through their hulls and tore through the other side without even slowing, slicing past them as if they weren’t even there. The massive craft fell, cut in two, sedately crashing towards earth as the ring pure power screamed outwards and cut itself out.

Cyralius fell.

From where she had been watching the spectacle, stunned into awed silence like every other onlooker, Jack hurried forwards, watching him fall to the ground limp and lifeless. She watched for him to make some kind of indication that he was alive, but she could see nothing.

She reached upwards, catching him in a net of biotic energy and lowering him gently to the ground, scrambling to his side as she searched for any signs of life. He wasn’t breathing.

He wasn’t breathing.

He wasn’t breathing.

Cyril. Wasn’t. Breathing.

Jack’s hands scrabbled at his neck, trying to find a pulse, murmuring a frantic mantra of denial that this could possibly be happening. Think, think, think. Where was the pulse? Was it on the left or the right, the left or the right? Where was it, where was it?

She cursed, trying to find it, but nothing answered the desperate search of her questing fingers.

Chest compressions. Beat his heart for him, bring Cyril back. Bring him back alive. He had to stay alive, had to stay alive. He couldn’t die.

“Come on, Cyril,” she murmured desperately, trying to find a way to get past his chestplate, glancing over him with clouded eyes for a catch or release. “Don’t die on me, Cyril, please. You can’t, please, please don’t!”

She swore, unable to find anything. How was she supposed to do it if she couldn’t get past his armour? She needed to save him!

“Cyril!” she cried out desperately, beating furiously at his chest with her fists. “Cyril, don’t die! You can’t!”

She slumped on his chestplate as he lay in the mud, not breathing, nothing, crying like a child.

“Please!” she wailed. “Just wake up, Cyril, wake up! You can’t do this to me!”

Jack cursed, grabbing the gorget of Cyralius’ armour and shaking it furiously, but her attempts to rouse him did nothing but roll his head to one side.

“Come on!” she shouted. “I need you, Cyril! You can’t die! You can’t!”

She grabbed his head, holding it and leaning close, whimpering; “You can’t die, Cyril. Damnit, you can’t. Wake up! Wake up!”

“Get her out of the way,” someone said from behind her, but Jack ignored it, cursing and pleading to Cyril to just wake up, before an arm hooked itself around her stomach and pulled her away.

“Let go of me!” she shouted as Okeen stepped forwards, Narthecium held ready. “LET ME GO!”

She thrashed wildly, struggling against the arm that held her, insensible with fear and grief, kicking blindly. Someone was trying to say something to her, but she couldn’t hear it through the haze of tears and wild terror that she would lose Cyril.

“He needs me!” she shouted. “Get off me! Cyril needs me!”

She screamed, a noise of pure frustrated fear, still kicking and madly fighting the grasp that held her.

Okeen placed a pair of pads over Cyril’s chestplate, clamping them in place before he tapped something on his narthecium and the Epistolary convulsed.

“What are you doing!” Jack screamed, kicking and struggling madly. “Let me go! You’re hurting him! LEAVE CYRIL ALONE!”

“Again,” Okeen said, tapping the button once more. There was a snapping noise and Cyralius jolted upwards. “Come on, brother.”

Jack pushed against the ceramite-wrapped arm holding her back, too frantic to even consider using her biotics to break free, cursing and weeping.

“Once more,” the Apothecary said. “Applying voltage.”

Cyralius convulsed.

“I’ve got a heartbeat,” Okeen announced. “I have a heartbeat!”

Cyralius’ eyelids flickered open, and he coughed, a puff of black smoke leaking from his mouth before he took a breath of ashy, dust choked air. Jack felt the arm holding her in place loosen, and she bolted forwards, grabbing the Astartes in an embrace before he seemed to know what was happening.

“Thank god,” she murmured quietly, burying her face in his neck. “Oh thank god you’re alright, Cyril. Shit. I…I don’t…shit!”

“Jack,” Cyralius said gently, his voice hoarse. He placed an arm around her, holding her gently, and smiled quietly.

She was quiet for a moment, before she murmured; “Don’t do that again. Please.”

“I promise,” he said. “You have my word on that.”

There was a long, quiet silence, and for a moment at least, all Cyralius and Jack had and needed were each other.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:28 pm

Chapter 51-Omnissah’s Judgement

Kullas had been in a trance for several hours now. In the Council Chamber he stood, fingers splayed gently over the holographic display before him. It was a large thing, reams of data written in some tongue that no living linguist could understand scrolling across the hovering light. Charts showing information unbeknownst to all but Kullas were on display, lines and bars fluctuating as statistics and figures changed by the moment.

A gentle litany of binaric chattered from his position as he communed with the ancient machine spirit of the massive station, attuning his very being with the intelligence that controlled the structure. Through its mechanical mind he travelled, his own consciousness seeming vastly insignificant in comparison to that which governed the Citadel, but despite this, even more powerful; the Citadel may have been ancient and constructed by artificial intelligences, but Kullas was both organic and machine, supported by the knowledge of the Adeptus Mechanicus and far greater than the sum of his parts.

Ancient security systems rose up to confront him as he pushed further and further into its mind, but he simply bypassed them, trapping them in reams of data that confounded them and allowed him access with ease. Alerts were caught before they could be sent, and one by one Kullas moved across the system, dealing with each and every measure the Citadel’s security tried to halt him with one by one, slowly but surely forcing it to comply with his will. Life support was found, and at strategic points he vented atmosphere, or altered the gravity to crush enemies and topple buildings upon them. Every auxiliary system that was used to maintain every day living on the station became his to view and command as he pleased, and soon enough, as the very last of the station’s programming came under his control, Kullas found what he was looking for.

“Brother Captain,” he announced to Malleus, who was waiting patiently behind the Forge Priest for him to finish his work. “I have our generators. We are ready.”

#

The plan had changed somewhat. Instead of setting up generators at the tips of the arms, Kullas had simply located ones already there and, with his newfound mastery of the Citadel’s systems, taken control of them. One was a power source for the maglev railway system that ran throughout the Kolaera arm, the second a ship’s drive core in Cord-Hislop Aerospace’s shipyard on the Citadel, hooked up to the station’s grid for testing. The third was part of the experimental Light Herathon Collapser facility, the massive power draws needed for the experiments on the quantum particles resulting in it needing its own, independent substation. The fourth was drawn from the generators in the Eezo refineries at the end of the Zakera arm, but the fifth lacked any that was situated close enough. Instead, the Normandy now clung to the tip of the arm, cables tapping into the power grid and stealth systems activated, awaiting Kullas’ signal.

There was a faint humming sound as the Forge Priest stepped along the gantry of the landing bay he had chosen as his firing station. His bionic eye glowed like some ruby as he kept a remote link to the vast network of the Citadel’s systems, ready to command and channel, the advanced cybernetics working to their limit in order to contain and control the colossal amounts of data flowing through his systems.

He stepped to the very end of the platform, raising the weapon and sighting down into the void, looking through the advanced sights of his bolter in search of his target.

“Brother Captain, are you in position?” he asked across the Vox.

“Aye,” Malleus said. “We’re ready to defend the shipyard.”

“The mag-lev’s secured,” Ashley added on the channel.

“And we’re dug in on the Collapser,” Samara said. “We’re ready for anything.”

Kullas nodded.

“EDI, is the Normandy ready?” he said.

“It is,” EDI replied. “Beginning system interface now.”

Kullas grimaced as he felt the AI’s digital consciousness slide into his own, systems intermingling in preparation. He was almost at full capacity now, the being of the Normandy his to observe along with that of the Citadel, and he began to worry that he was going to have to commit the unthinkable act of overclocking simply so he could aim straight.

He freed up CPU by releasing control over some of the Citadel’s minor automatic systems and ending a few life support processes in enemy-controlled territory, he picked his target. Hyper-enhanced, bionically augmented eyesight saw through the thousands of miles between the Citadel and the besieging fleet, picking out his target despite the distance.

“Second Lieutenant Williams,” he said into the vox suddenly. “I believe there is a legend in the religious canon of the Abrahamic faiths of an individual who killed a giant with a stone from a sling, correct?”

“David and Goliath, yeah,” Ashley said.

“Indeed,” Kullas said. “I believe I am about to put him to shame.”

And with that, he fired.

The first shell of the magazine of adamantium-cored Kraken bolts was struck from the rear by the hammer, the firing pin activating the propellant and sending it moving at a speed of just over two thousand metres per second. Within a third of a second, it was seven hundred metres from him, and it was then that the mass effect generators activated. Lightning crackled into it from the tips of the five arms, catching the shell and sending the one and a half kilogram shell moving at a speed of two hundred and eighty five million metres per second, a speed that bent and warped the very fabric of reality around the bullet.

The shell hit its target with a gigaton of force, ripping through the shields and into the hull of the Reaper. The sheer power of the impact warped its armour, crushing it in on itself as the sheer frictional force of adamantium against whatever dark metal made the dreadnought up generated heat to melt both to atoms. Even with a tonnage in the millions, the massive ship was sent moving, gently drifting away with an immense hole punched into it, internal mechanisms completely ruined by the hit.

Across the Citadel, lights dimmed and machinery powered down, the energy draw demanded by the firing draining everything else. After a moment, electricity returned, and Kullas nodded as he mentally looked through. Even with safety parameters on the power draws bypassed, the generators were still able to fire.

A second shot screamed free of the Citadel, the red-shift effect on the shell leaving a crimson trail in the eye that faded from view, another Reaper struck down. The three remaining ships began to flee, but Kullas simply adjusted his aim, calculating their position in regards to their speed, and fired. The lights on the station grew dim once more as a third Reaper died, and Kullas checked the systems. Still able to work.

“Brother, we’ve got enemy forces on our position,” Malleus’ voice warned across the vox, the sound of gunfire faintly audible in the background. “You may wish to hurry up the ship elimination.”

“Understood, Brother Captain,” Kullas replied, carefully aiming. He fired once more, and a split second later the shell hit a Reaper with the force to crack a continent, the shell ripping through its hull and crushing it in on itself.

He could see warning signals beginning to come through, and EDI chimed; “We will need time for the generators to cool.”

“We will not have it,” Kullas replied, seeing the Reaper beginning to hew towards the Citadel in a desperate bid to try and halt the horrifying weapon. “In the Omnissah’s name, I strike ye down, scum!”

The shot was accompanied by a distant explosion, and the entirety of the Kolaera arm blacked out, but his mission was complete. Kullas’ arm dropped as the final Reaper was near-obliterated, smashed into debris, and he diverted power to the arm before he released control over the Citadel’s computer systems, pausing only to divert power to the arm along backup cables.

“What just happened?” Ashley’s voice came in from the vox. “The place just went up in flames.”

“Apologies, Second Lieutenant,” Kullas said. “I miscalculated the effects of the power draw. Are you injured?”

“We’re fine,” Ashley said. “Still, I’ve a weird sight over here.”

“What’s that?” Malleus asked.

Even across the vox, Kullas could tell she was smiling as she said; “We’ve got ourselves a whole load of surrendering Batarians.”

She laughed.

“It’s a sight for sore eyes, believe me.”

#

The Batarian delegation that had been sent out to parley with the forces defending the Citadel ring were understandably nervous as Malleus met them at the base of the tower. Some two hours had passed, the time filled with the threat of Kullas firing once more on the Batarian fleet. The four-eyed aliens had fallen back to their more heavily dug in positions while Malleus had warned across all radio channels that the Forge Priest was prepared to cast his judgement upon the fleet once more. That was an out and out lie, but with the unstoppable power that he had at his disposal not one of the aliens was prepared to call his bluff.

The final Reaper soldiers had fought to the last, either unaware or uncaring of their controllers’ demise, but with the Batarians gone and the determination and resolve of the beleaguered C-Sec forces boosted by their unexpected victory they were dealt with without much difficulty. The Yahg had been more stubborn, but without support they were eventually forced back.

One of the Batarians that was to meet Malleus stepped forwards, this one one of the few not wearing some kind of military uniform; instead he wore a suit.

“You are in charge here?” Malleus asked.

“I am, yes,” the Batarian replied. “Prime Minister Thallen of the Batarian Hegemony.”

“And you were the one who joined the Reapers in alliance?” Malleus said.

“We were forced into it,” Thallen said. “We had little choice.”

Malleus nodded, before his submachine gun unfolded in his hands, and he said; “Then by the authority granted to me as senior commander in the Council military I find you guilty of supreme treason against life itself, and sentence you to death.”

Before the alien could try to flee, the weapon chattered in his hands and the Batarian fell to the ground, limp and lifeless.

“Who is second in command here?” Malleus demanded, stepping forward with the firearm still held in his hands. There was a silence. “Well?”

“That would be me,” one of them said, this one wearing some kind of general’s uniform. “Are you going to shoot me too, then?”

“Not necessarily,” Malleus said. “Though considering the circumstances under which we meet, I am sorely tempted.”

To his credit, the Batarian held his ground, and asked; “What do you want?”

“An answer,” Malleus said. “What motivated you to join the Reapers?”

“We were forced into an alliance at gunpoint,” the general replied. “It was either join them and be spared or have every Batarian in the Hegemony killed. We had no choice.”

“You had the choice of not collaborating with the greatest monsters to ever crawl into galactic history,” Malleus said. “You had the choice of not causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on this station. You had the choice of acting with honour and not spiting our collective foe.”

“That’s preposterous,” Batarian snapped. “Our people would have been killed.”

“They would be killed anyway,” Malleus answered. “When we face the Reapers, either we fight, or we die; it is as simple as that. Perhaps we will die when we fight, but at the very least we will go down with glory. At the very least, we will have taken a stand. Because the Reapers are not creatures that make deals, they are not creatures that act mercifully, they are not creatures that keep promises. Their entire purpose of being is to serve only themselves, without regard for others, and you made the mistake of joining them. And look what that has led to.”

The Batarian simply looked at him, unreadable black eyes trying to size up the Astartes’ glacial countenance, before it said; “What do you want.”

“I am going to offer you redemption,” Malleus said. “Either you join me and the rest of galaxy in the fight against the Reapers, or you die. Either by the hands of the Reapers, should they succeed in vanquishing the Council’s forces, or through the efforts of an extremely angry galaxy that will no doubt see you as traitors.”

“We could still take this station, you know,” the general replied.

“Kullas can eliminate your fleet from here, and then you would have to deal with me,” Malleus replied. “You and I both know that trying such a thing would be pure foolishness.”

The Batarian nodded.

“I can’t argue with that,” he said, shaking his head. “Fine, Scandarum, we’ll fight for you, so long as you don’t kill us all.”

Malleus nodded, before he said; “Provided you don’t give me cause to, I won’t.”

“Glad to hear that,” the general said.

“Good,” Malleus said. He smiled wryly. “Now I simply need to deal with the Yahg.”
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:18 pm

Chapter 52-Final Preparations

“Admirals, I can understand your concern for your people to a certain extent,” Malleus said to the small gathering of Quarians before him. “But there is a line between caution and cowardice, and I’m beginning to think that you are on the wrong side of it.”

The Admiralty Board meeting hall of the Rayya was silent for a moment as the leaders of the Quarian people looked carefully at the two Astartes standing before them in the small, stepped arena that they met in. They were hesitant about what to say to the massive, imposing figures before them, before the one Kullas remembered as Admiral Koris spoke; “The situation so far has been a delicate one, Scandarum Vas Valaso Darundah. We have to be certain about committing our forces and how many we can commit. We have to look to our own borders as much as any other; even in these times, pirates and slavers are a constant threat.”

“As far as I am aware,” Malleus said. “Most of these pirates and slavers are in the Local System fighting the Reapers, along with, of all things, the Geth. That threat is a far less credible one than it used to be. There is the far more credible threat of the Reapers, and the Migrant Fleet is the largest in the galaxy.”

“Even so, the Migrant Fleet is not one of warships,” Shala’Raan said from the pedestal she occupied at the rear-centre of the pit, the entire thing surrounded by suited Quarians. “We have few enough dedicated fighting vessels as it is.”

Malleus nodded, before he said; “That is a fair point. But the Quarian people must do their part alongside the rest of the galaxy. Your people have a reputation as thieves who inadvertently released the Geth upon the galaxy, and contributing nothing to this war will not help that in the slightest.”

“Reputation is only of so much use,” one of them in a grey enviro-suit replied. Admiral Han’Gerrel, Malleus remembered. Kullas had spoken highly of him. “The fact is that we will be risking the lives of our people.”

“As has everyone else,” Malleus said. “We are fighting against extinction here and victory still hangs in the balance. The Quarians could well be the factor that tips it in our favour.”

“I still can’t see the benefit,” Han’Gerrel said.

“You simply want the Geth to weaken themselves so you might have a better chance at getting your ridiculous idea of invading the homeworld through the Conclave,” Koris replied. “And just when they’ve proven themselves willing to negotiate and cooperate with organics.”

Everyone had a key, Malleus knew, something that would bring them round. For some, like Aria, it was power, for others it was money. For Quarians, Malleus knew, it was their lost homeworld. It was to time to slip it into the lock and turn.

“The Geth are indeed open to negotiation,” Malleus said. “And they have made a very positive impression on the Alliance, the Turian Hierarchy, the Asari Republics and Salarian Conglomerate; I would be unsurprised if they were to be offered embassy on the Citadel should we all survive this. The Geth have come out of the shadows and offered their aid in the war and already they are gaining potential power; even the Krogan have been willing to make sacrifices, and they are getting more and more respect for it by the day. But the Quarians have done nothing but watch and wait, and should the matter of the Homeworld come up then the Geth will have the weight of the galactic powers behind them, not your people.”

There was a lengthy pause, before Shala’Raan asked; “What exactly are you saying, Malleus Vas Valaso Darundah?”

“I am saying that aiding the war effort now may well return Rannoch to you once it is over,” Malleus said. “Think about it for a moment, Admirals; going back to a world where you are no longer trapped by your enviro-suits, and within your lifetimes as well.”

Quarians were more expressive with their body language out of simple habit, faces concealed by the darkened glass of the masks they wore, and he could see several sitting forwards in sudden interest. The Admirals tried to maintain a more neutral interest, but Malleus had them; the crowd here was large, over a hundred Quarians coming to catch a glimpse of two of the famed Astartes, and to refuse a promise like that in front of so many of their people would lead to them being ousted from power in no time whatsoever.

“You could do that?” Daro’Xen asked.

“I’m quite sure that I could,” Malleus said. “At the very least I could facilitate negotiations; the chance to return to your ancestral home without bloodshed is one that you cannot pass up.”

Han’Gerrel nodded, before he said; “We can’t spare any vessels, but the Migrant Fleet Marines are a different matter; they’re some of finest ship-to-ship combatants in the galaxy, second to none.”

“We could definitely send a few companies worth,” Shala’Raan said.

“They would be a fine contribution,” Malleus said. “I will need as many as I possibly can.”

The rest of the short meeting was easy; Malleus had them on his side, and the rest was simply working out numbers. After that, he simply had one more stop to make and then he would be on his way to Earth once more.

#

The massive cargo haulers had met the Batarian fleet in orbit above Noveria, and already shuttles were flitting from civilian to military vessels and back again, depositing at least some of the ships’ payload to the crews within. Only a few hundred of the lasrifles they held were being given out, the rest being kept for distribution once they arrived at earth, and even then only for a select number; Malleus dared not trust the Batarians with weapons as powerful as them yet, and instead they were being given to C-Sec personnel and the contingent of Migrant Fleet Marines on the fleet. Most of those were spending their time positioned just by the bridges of the more important Batarian vessels, ready to move in and deal with the captains should word be given, the four-eyed aliens kept as allies at gunpoint.

The Yahg, on the other hand, had been fairly simple to deal with; Malleus simply beat their leader, a giant beast called ‘Gharex’, in single combat, and strong as it was Malleus had been able to defeat it with little difficulty. Apparently, Malleus was the first non-Yahg the bestial aliens seemed to respect, and currently that was enough to keep them in line. He wasn’t going to trust them with any lasrifles yet, though.

Yuri Rasenkov had given Malleus his personal promise that they were up to a good enough standard, and Malleus felt confident that, in this at least, he would be as good as his word.

Soon enough, the forces that were to be armed had been equipped, and the small fleet turned for the relay, the haulers in tow. Soon enough, they would be returning to the Local System, coming back to Terra. Soon enough, the time would come for the final blow to be struck against the Reaper menace. Only time would tell as to whether victory or defeat was to follow.

#

“I can see it!” Antoinette called suddenly. “I can see the ocean, Miranda!”

“You can?” the Miranda asked, drawing the jeep to a halt as it came to the crest of the hilll. She gave a tired smile as she saw the English Channel stretched before them, sunlight catching on the crest of waves, diamonds on green-grey velvet, no longer an indistinct blur on the horizon. They were close now, too close to give up.

“Do you see anything else?” Miranda asked, scanning around.

“Over to the left,” Aintoinette said. “I think I can see buildings as well. Smoke.”

Miranda risked a little pain, getting out of their transport and gingerly pulling herself up on the cupola until she was level with Antoinette. A few miles away, she could see a city burning as it sat on the coast, weapons fire and artillery crossing back and forth past its limits. She nodded to herself; the Council’s forces were still here, and they still had a way out of here. As she’d hoped, following the trails left by the aircraft that had streaked overhead had lead her here. Now they just had to break through enemy lines.

She turned the jeep westwards toward Calais, setting her sights for the large expanse of flat tarmac on its border where the spaceport was, still fiercely contested judging by the firefights that raged near its bounds. All she had to do was make her way across the grassy, hilly terrain before her, through that wall of fire and to safety.

“Antoinette, come down and strap in,” Miranda said. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride from now on.”

She did as she was asked, and Miranda laid a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze, flashing her a reassuring smile.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m getting us through that, I promise.”

“I’m not,” Antoinette said, giving Miranda one of her own. “You’re too good to let anything bad like that happen, Miranda.”

The Lady Castellan kissed her gently on the forehead, and she added; “And you seem too brave to be worried. Now hold on tight.”

After a moment, she broke free of the embrace, and began to drive.

It was a terrible feeling, holding the life of someone you cared dearly about in your hands while in a situation as dangerous as this one, Miranda reflected as she began to drive. The mixture of determination and fear for their safety were not ones that aided a person’s judgement in any situation, and had been the very same reason why she had avoided relationships in the past. Even Jacob’s death had felt more personal than she would have liked to admit, even though the brief tryst the two of them had had had been years ago. The icy demeanour she’d adopted to life had helped scare people away, she found, stopped her getting compromisingly attached before she could even start, meaning that she could get things done without any mistakes.

The road was still in good condition, probably due to the fact that it was not used much, the jeep’s tyres gripping onto it easily as she drove forwards. For about a mile or so she made it unnoticed, before the sound of engines whining overhead caught her ear; above them, one of the sleek, dark-hulled Reaper gunships. No chance in relying on stealth now; she pressed the accelerator down hard, rubber screeching on tarmac as the gunship fired.

She glowered in fierce concentration as she wrenched the jeep to the left, avoiding another stream of liquid metal and pure heat as it cut into the road, the stench of treacle filling the air for a moment before she whipped past it at breakneck speed. The jeep bounced as it hit a pothole, and Miranda wrestled with the steering wheel as she attempted to bring it back into line before another beam sliced down next to her.

Wind whipped through her hair as she crested another hill, the vehicle barrelling past a burnt-out stalk tank and the wreckage of a Somme that it had brought down with it. She dodged round a crater as the gunship fired once more, tyre clipping the clip and sending once side of the jeep flying up for a brief moment before it crashed down again, jolting Miranda and Antoinette in their seats.

The ground became rougher, badly scorched and muddied as the spaceport began to near, the dropship still overhead. She pulled off the road suddenly, throwing its aim and weaving between the craters that ruptured the ground. Muddy water sprayed upwards as a tyre clipped a puddle, a shimmering coffee-coloured veil, the jeep bouncing from the dip.

She passed corpses, speeding ahead as the gunship fired once more, before something screamed overhead and smashed it from the sky with a missile, a jet sweeping upwards and back again through the air, passing over them once more.

She crested another hill, the jeep crashing downwards on the damp ground as it sped forwards. Ahead of her were a group of Reaper soldiers, turning to face the vehicle as it thundered towards them before it slammed into their rear, throwing several aside. Shots zipped and pinged against its rear as sped away from them, and she swerved to the left to throw the aim of one of their anti-tank weapon armed troopers. The beam sent a gout of steam skywards as it boiled the water in the ground away, and Miranda smiled grimly as she saw friendly lines getting closer and closer, near enough to pick out individual mass-driver rounds as they sped in both directions.

From nowhere, the ground disappeared, a deep trench appearing under the tyres, and for a brief moment the jeep sailed gently through air before metal crunch and slammed down at a diagonal. Antoinette gave a cry of pain and shock, and Miranda fumbled clumsily with her seatbelt before she pulled her free of the vehicle and dropped down beside her, cursing as her ankle flared with pain. She grabbed her assault rifle from where it had fallen in the mud, holding it in one hand and using the trench to support her. Antoinette was ahead of her, heading for friendly lines through another trench that led towards the spaceport, and Miranda limped after her.

A dark figure, huge and forbidding, dropped between them and Antoinette gave a cry of terror before Miranda opened fire with her rifle, emptying the thermal before crushing it against the mud wall with a blast of biotic power.

“Run!” she called to Antoinette, ejecting the thermal and leaving it to hiss in the mud, slamming one of her remaining two. “Get out of here, now!”

Antoinette nodded mutely and disappeared as another Reaper soldier dropped down behind Miranda. The shots that hit her barriers and armour knocked to the ground, and she gave a scream as her ankle was wrenched out of place once more, bone stabbing into flesh like a blazing spear. Despite red mist of pain at the edge of her vision, she turned and opened fire, her weapon thudding rapidly as the shots wore down her enemy’s kinetic barriers. The thermal was enough to break through them, and she hurled it away with a biotic blast despite the exhaustion that was sapping at her body.

Somehow, she hauled herself to her feet, a hiss of pain accompanying every other limping step, blood thundering in her ears. She didn’t have time to set the bone again, and instead fought against the pain, gritting her teeth and carrying on the best she possibly could. She managed six paces, agony blazing up before something knocked her to the ground. She rolled over in time to see a weapon pointing at her, and desperately tried to summon up some biotic power to throw her enemy away, but she was simply too tired and distracted by the intense ache in her ankle to summon anything more than a wisp of force.

Someone else, on the other hand, wasn’t, a blast of biotic might slamming into the Reaper footsoldier’s chest and stumbling it back. There was the sound of a shotgun firing and it was knocked to the ground by a shot that hit it squarely in the head, before three figures stepped over her, weapons scanning for any more danger.

“We’re clear,” one of them announced, before it asked; “How is she?”

“She’s alive,” came a reply, and Miranda looked up through blurry eyes to see an Asari kneeling next to her, blue skinned grimy and with bags under her eyes before the alien picked her up and slung Miranda’s arm over her shoulder. “Give me a hand with her.”

“Antoinette,” Miranda slurred, already feeling like she might black out. “Is Antoinette safe?”

“The girl? She’s fine,” the Asari said while her comrade took Miranda’s other arm. “Valmyra, keep us covered.”

“On it,” the third one said, her rifle in the shoulder.

Helped by the two Asari, Miranda was hauled to the relative safety of the Council lines.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Rusk » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:44 pm

Well I'll comment if no-one else is going to. I've enjoyed it so far. Just about caught up on the last ME crossover and this one now. That took a while. :P

A few comments though. The non-main SM characters aren't getting enough loving. Last time you spent a decent amount of time on one (Hullen) he ended up dead. So whenever there is a mention of Okeen or the pilot (Kurias?) I end up getting a bit worried for them. There doesn't seem to be much attachment to this pair, I think they could have a bit more to offer than hanging around in the background. My opinion, obviously.

Also, I wouldn't consider Malleus that much of a Mary Sue, and if he is, then the majority of Space Marines would also fall under the category, considering they're, you know, SUPERMAR33NZ. Trust me, I had a peruse of fanfiction.net recently, you could be a thousand times worse. :P

And Zaeed :( you sunofabeetch. ;)

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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:10 am

Hey you think it took a while to read this? Try writing it! :P

I'll agree with you on the point with Okeen and Kurias. With Okeen, I never really pinned down a proper idea for his character until Angels of the Storm, which was probably a bit late, so that was probably a bit late in the day, and Kurias just doesn't seem to have got much screen time. I'll try and remedy that in later parts, though there may not be as many of those as there once were... :?

My worries about Malleus being a Mary Sue (Mally Sue?) were sort of inspired by a slight 'holy crap' moment when I was just thinking about the story, after spotting one or two possibly symptoms and then blowing them out of proportion a bit with worry. But thank you in any case.

And Zaeed will be avenged. Along with all the other characters I've killed off. Which is a fair few, all things considered...

Anyway, thanks very much for reading, Rusk!
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby havoc » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:34 pm

Well guess i will comment too. :)

Just wondering, are the Yagh canon or your own creation?

Other thing, you have one small fluff hole in Hammerhand. You said that Cyril cant wear helmets due his psychic hood but in the very first chapter he is wearing helmet. ;)
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:28 am

havoc wrote:Well guess i will comment too. :)

Just wondering, are the Yagh canon or your own creation?

Other thing, you have one small fluff hole in Hammerhand. You said that Cyril cant wear helmets due his psychic hood but in the very first chapter he is wearing helmet. ;)


Thanks for reading and commenting, Havoc :)

In answer to your question, Yahg are Canon; the big bugger at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker is one, and I figured they're probably going to be used in the way they are by the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. So in they went.

And I'd fix that continuity error if it weren't for the fact that the original Hammerhand is locked down tighter than a casino vault. ;) But thanks for pointing it out anyway.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:11 am

Author’s Note: So, in the latest Mass Effect 3 trailer, Shepard kills a Reaper titan by sicing a Thresher Maw on it.

Bioware, in terms of monster vs Reaper action, consider yourselves outdone…

Chapter 53-Redemption

The Batarian fleet and the Charon Relay to find what remained of the Citadel’s, the Geth’s and Aria’s fleets waiting for them, hidden from view by Pluto. The first vessels of the fleet hove into view as the relay lit up, snapping the Batarian vessels through at the speed of light before depositing them on the other side. Hails were sent between the ships as they began to coordinate the fleets and manoeuvre into position, vessels shifting into position for what could well be the final fleet engagement of the war. Malleus had talked to their commanders before coming through, and they knew the plan. All that remained was to execute it.

The blocky, khaki-coloured Batarian ships were the first to move off, a front wave of vessels and the rest followed, engines flaring as they powered up. Scanners hummed into life, searching for any threats, and soon enough the Reapers were found, the giants sensing a potential threat posed by this defiant gathering of force.

They did not have the firepower to face the Reapers in traditional space combat, Malleus knew; that would be akin to trying to kill someone wearing power armour just with bows and arrows. But they had the numbers, just. They could end up being badly mauled by this, even obliterated entirely, but there was no other alternative.

“This is it,” he said from the bridge of the Normandy, word relayed to the commanders of the other fleets. “You know the plan. So in the name of the Emperor, full speed ahead!”

As one, massive engines silently roared into life, propelling the ships forwards to face their massive foes. The Reapers seemed to slow their advance as the fleet powered forwards, almost bemused before their massive beam weapons opened fire and ripped ships to pieces. Only a few hundred against nearly four times that number, they were confident in their chances of victory; what, in this hopeless charge, could the Harvest even hope to do them?

The fleet pushed closer and closer, all power to the engines as they tore through the void, captains heedless of the ships that were torn from the vacuum around them. There was no time to pause, no time to hesitate, simply a single chance to defeat the foe before them, no matter the cost.

For a moment, the Reapers seemed hesitant, confused as to why their enemies were still closing instead firing back, sending out crimson death all the same even as the Council, Batarian, Geth and Omegan vessels pushed onwards. Then the two fleets collided, and Malleus played his hand.

Thousands of shuttles holding marines and freebooters emerged, falling from the small ships to the Reaper dreadnoughts, the relatively slow speed of the shuttles negating the kinetic barriers’ protection. They touched down on the surfaces of the massive Reapers, magnets in their boots clamping them to their dark metallic hulls.

In the lee of Jupiter, hatches were found, entrances were made, and life struck against death.

#

Kal Reegar had to admit it; these lasrifles were good.

The weapon had a strangely blocky design compared to the more curved makes of the Avengers and Vindicators he was used to using, but already he adored it; he had heard the enemy footsoldiers had shielding powerful enough to resist full magazine from most rifles, but this thing simply cut past those and melted away that onyx armour they wore as well, killing them in just one or two shots. For all intents and purposes, the small group of Migrant Fleet Marines that he was leading had far better shielding than their enemies.

He ducked around a corner, the weapon still held into his shoulder, and opened fire on a group of enemy that were in his way. Lances of blue light snapped from the rifle, ripping through shields and punching bubbling holes through their armour, and the enemy squad before him fell as another two of the Marines under his command joined his fire, shots tearing them down like corn before a scythe.

Beneath his mask, the Quarian smiled grimly, gesturing for the squad to move up, hurrying through the strangely organic looking corridors of dark metal. Ahead, he could pick out the sound of gunfire, and he increased his pace to burst onto a gantry above some kind of shuttle bay. Below, three Kodiak landing shuttles were landed, doors open as a platoon’s worth of Batarians battled it out with Reaper troops that were pouring in. Not entrusted with lasweapons, the four-eyed aliens were forced into cover and were struggling to bring down the heavy duty shielding that protected their foes, mass-driver shots pinging uselessly against them.

“Quorro, Karrit, move left and get above those Batarians,” Reegar ordered with quick hand gestures. “Derra, Leik, I want you to stay here. The rest of you, with me.”

The Quarians had their enemy surrounded, held the higher ground and kinetics were worthless against their weapons, and the killzone they created was utterly lethal, cover nowhere to be found against the enfilade of laser fire. Reegar emptied his magazine, the shots enough to cut down a trio of enemies before he ducked behind cover to slam a fresh las-clip into the weapon. The doorway he was facing slid open and a Reaper soldiers stepped forwards before he flicked the weapon into full-auto and melted its chest away with a few rapid shots. It toppled back as a second one pushed forwards but he dealt with that one with relative ease, las bolts melting its visor and almost evaporating its head.

More of them were pushing forwards through the corridor and he glanced over at Illa and called; “Give me a hand here! We’ve got enemies trying to flank us!”

“Understood,” the Quarian who was next to him on the balcony replied, taking cover by the doorway and sending blue lances down the confines of the corridor, toppling another Reaper.

“Pushing forwards,” Reegar said, ducking low. “Cover me.”

Illa’s shots went over his head as he dashed forwards, lasrifle held low yet still comfortable enough in his shoulder for him to aim. He reached a T-Junction as another of Illa’s carefully aimed lances felled a Reaper that had just rounded the corner, glancing round both of them and sending a shock grenade down one, the blast of electricity destroying shields and frying circuitry.

“Derra, Leike, Quorro, Karrit, it’s Kal Reegar here,” he called into his enviro-suit’s radio. “I need you on me, asap! Rest of you, hold position until I give the order to follow.”

He leant out to open fire on another pair of enemies that were advancing on them, felling them and emptying the las-cell, and he pressed a third one home. Behind him, he heard boots clattering on the deckplate as the rest of the squad followed him, and they got to cover, laying down suppressing fire on the few enemies that tried to advance on them before Reegar nodded to the rest and took point, pushing forwards.

He managed to gun down another enemy that tried to shelter behind a corner, turning it and opening fire on the group of foes before him. In the tight confines of the sloping corridor there was no cover to be taken from the lasrifle’s relentless might, and only a few managed to return shots, the mass-driver rounds deflected by the kinetic barriers that protected him.

He pressed forwards, the other Quarians at his back before he opened a door into a wider corridor of the Reaper. A few enemy soldiers turned to face him and he dropped to a knee, opening fire on them as the rest of his detachment burst through with him, lasrounds spraying across the hallway. To his left, he could see the hangar with the Batarians in, fire against the beleaguered exiles all but non-existent now, and his fireteam fanned into the corridor to plug the main source of reinforcements before they could reach them.

“Hold position,” Reegar called to them, before flicking on the radio; “Alright, the rest of you get down here.”

He got a round of affirmatives from the rest of his squad, before he hurried towards the Batarians who were already beginning to move forwards now that the imminent threat of being overwhelmed was vanquished.

“Who’s in charge here?” he called out, before one of the Batarians nodded to him.

“That’s me,” the alien replied. “What’s the plan? We can’t take the enemy as easily in a fight as you Quarians can, seeing as we apparently aren’t trustworthy enough to have lasrifles.”

“We’re moving on the core,” Kal Reegar replied. “We’ll be the vanguard; your people can cover our backs and give covering fire when we need it. That sound good?”

The Batarian nodded.

“Good,” Kal Reegar said. “Then let’s kill this thing.”

#

The Normandy was like an eagle in flight, silently screaming through the void at full speed, the very tip of the spear that was the fleet it led. Swift and darting, it wove around fire that would have annihilated a slower, less agile ship, while the vessels around it found the Reapers and attacked.

A few hundred kilometres away from it, the Leviathan of Dis powered forwards, it colossal size and sheer mass allowing it to weather the storm of beam fire the Reapers were focussing on it. Burn scars already crisscrossed its thick, scaled hide, while an eye had been scorched away and left as nothing more than a blackened ruin weeping untold gallons of clear puss, but it pushed forwards nonetheless, utterly unstoppable.

The jaws of the Leviathan opened, ivory teeth the size of buildings gleaming for a moment in the glancing light of the sun as it hung in the void, before the monstrous spacecraft’s head twisted and they closed around a Reaper. They were crude weapons, but nonetheless effective, the sheer force behind them punching through the dark metal and crushing the sentient spacecraft utterly. It knocked one of the two bisected halves away with its snout, electricity still sparking across the ruined ship, and continued forwards, hunting for yet more prey.

The Normandy swept past that scene, Thannix cannons blazing as they punched several Reaper interceptors from the void, pulling up in a steep turn that was felt even through the artificial gravity on the ship in order to avoid a Reaper spinning past it, speared through the heart by the flaming wreckage of a Batarian cruiser. It dodged over chunks of debris from destroyed Reaper and allied vessels alike, arcing round whilst within, Malleus tried his best to coordinate the battle. It was little help that holographic display before him was confused to the point of being near-indecipherable, friendly and hostile markers becoming one indistinct cloud of red and blue. Occasionally a red marker would wink out as the small armies of boarders that had been unleashed upon them achieved their objectives, aided by the power of their lasrifles, but ships in his fleet were dying by the score every moment.

“EDI,” he said from the command pulpit. “Give me a battlefield projection; can we kill the Reapers before they kill us?”

“Calculating,” EDI said, before replying; “I do not believe we can, commander. I suggest a change in plan.”

Malleus nodded, before saying; “Get me in contact with the Leviathan immediately.”

The image before him had a flat panel superimposed upon it, a blur of static that Malleus flicked to one side of the display to allow him to focus on the battle, and the picture of a Batarian.

“Captain,” Malleus said to him across the radio. “I need you to do something for me with the Leviathan.”

“What is it?” the Batarian asked.

“We need to distract the Reapers not being boarded so our ships can get close,” Malleus said. “The Leviathan is the only thing with the durability to provide that distraction.”

“What do you need?” the captain asked.

“I need the Leviathan right among them,” Malleus said. “I need it to draw their fire.”

The alien frowned, and he said; “We’ll be killed.”

“Your people need to earn their redemption, captain,” Malleus replied. “I’m giving you a chance to gain it.”

There was a pause, and the Astartes pressed his point; “We are fighting for life itself. Sacrifices need to be made.”

There was a pause, before the Batarian nodded.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said.

From its place at the edge of the furious combat where it had been picking off Reapers, the Leviathan changed its course, plunging towards the heart of the Reaper fleet like some crude bone knife. The massive organic ship tore forwards, yawning maw closing on a Reaper and shearing through the craft even as beam fire ripped into its hide, drawing great scars across its scales. Bony plates were melted away even as it plunged forwards, slamming into another Reaper, its sheer bulk enough to overpower kinetic barriers with the collision’s force. The Leviathan’s shields long since overwhelmed, another beam sliced into one of the fins that it used to guide itself through the void, laming the colossal limb.

It twisted in the vacuum, spearing towards the offending Reaper even as one of the dreanought’s weapons gouged a furrow into its thick skull. The Leviathan’s colossal maw opened in a silent roar of fury, before they closed down upon its hull, colossal teeth tearing through its armour and crushing it beneath the sheer force of the bite. Another Reaper found itself in reach of one of its fins, the colossal limb reaching out and slamming into the craft like one continent hitting another. The force of the impact was enough to completely obliterate its kinetic barriers and sent it spiralling away, and those ships that could fire opened up on it while it was vulnerable, blasting away armour and tearing it apart.

The Leviathan plunged further into the heart of the Reaper fleet, and against so massive a ship and surrounded by an ever tightening cordon of Council, pirate, Batarian and Geth ships, the Reapers were forced to divert resources to deal with the threat. Malleus had them, he knew; they either ignored the Leviathan and let it wreak havoc, or turned their attentions upon it to let the boarding craft advance and attack unmolested.

“Press the assault,” he ordered across the radio, knowing that even so, their time was limited to how long the Leviathan could last. “Hold nothing back; no mercy!”

Clouds of shuttles swarmed across the void, more and more of the craft touching down and disgorging troops onto the Reapers. Migrant Fleet Marines blasted airlocks and bulkheads open and stormed forwards, Turians dropships disgorged small companies of what stevedores and marines they had left, the avian aliens moving into the Reaper with as much speed an discipline as they could muster. Bullish Yahg thundered onto the Reapers, Krogan doing the same, while scores of Geth combat platforms were fired from their carrier ships on the sides of the Reapers like strange mass-driver rounds, the synthetics not bothering with the use of shuttles and troopships.

One by one, Reapers began to drift, nothing more than massive hulks that lay empty and dead as the cores that powered them were destroyed by explosives, even as thousands perished and yet more friendly vessels were blasted from the void. And finally, the Leviathan died.

Its one remaining eye had been struck blind by the beam weapons of the Reapers, another of its colossal limbs lamed. Thousands of scars and wounds had been ripped into its hide, even as it thrashed and roared, its great limbs and jaws smashing Reapers to pieces. One of the engines that propelled it had been shot out, but it continued nonetheless, plunging forwards into the densest concentration of Reapers. It twisted its jaw, a thrashing blow that slammed into a Reaper and smashed it away with an impact that left a colossal dent in its side, more shots from the its fellows gouging chunks of flesh away even as more shuttle craft began to land on the dreadnoughts’hulls, boarders surging forwards in a desperate effort to bring an end to their hated foes.

Another Reaper was swatted away by a limb, while a great hunk of meat was gouged out of its side by precisely coordinated beam fire, a colossal heart revealed underneath ribs the size of skyscrapers. More shots speared towards it, even as the Leviathan writhed in the void, throwing its bulk into a Reaper and smashing it aside.

Its jaws opened in a silent roar of agony as the merciless aim of its billion-year enemies hit its heart and killed it, convulsing in cataclysmic death throes that sent earthquake-scale shuddering through the ship, throwing the crew against the walls of its corridors and rooms.

It finally died, a massive hulk of organic wreckage that drifted aimlessly in the void, cyclopean limbs splayed out helplessly. The threat finally abated, the Reapers turned back to the allied fleet they were facing, but it was too late; what remained had got too close for the Reapers to bring their fearsome guns to bear, and more and more boarding forces pushed forwards, desperately attacking the giant vessels in the knowledge that this could well be their only chance to beat them.

“They’re breaking engagement,” someone suddenly announced across the comm. network. “They’re pulling out!”

Barely a score of Reaper vessels remained from the original fleet that had faced them, powering away even as the multitude of boarder-stricken brethren tried to stay and hopelessly fight. The fleeing Reapers sent beam fire at any ship that dared get close, striking them from the void as they tried to pursue.

“Shall we follow?” came a hail from the Knife Edge, the pirates on board no doubt eager for more action.

“Negative,” Malleus replied. “We don’t have the numbers to weather the approach once more. Make for the Charon Relay and guard it with every ship we have left; let nothing through. I’ll take the Normandy and escort the lasrifle shipments to Terra.”

“Understood,” came the acknowledgement. “We’ll keep it locked down tight.”

“The Emperor protects,” Malleus replied. “Malleus out.”

He looked at the battlemap before him, observing the markers for the fleeing Reapers and the badly mauled fleet that were beginning to retreat back into the orbit of Pluto. Somehow, despite the fact that the Council fleet and its allies had been reduced to a mere one hundred and fifty ships, they had managed to force the Reapers into flight, something once thought impossible.

Now all that remained to be done was to finish the scum off entirely.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby havoc » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:58 pm

Colonel Mustard wrote:In answer to your question, Yahg are Canon; the big bugger at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker is one, and I figured they're probably going to be used in the way they are by the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. So in they went.
Oh right, that thing was Yahg.
I thought that these were renamed Cannibals. :?
You cant have slaughter without laughter
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havoc
 
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:59 pm

havoc wrote:
Colonel Mustard wrote:In answer to your question, Yahg are Canon; the big bugger at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker is one, and I figured they're probably going to be used in the way they are by the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. So in they went.
Oh right, that thing was Yahg.
I thought that these were renamed Cannibals. :?

Ah, so that's what those things were called. Not really going to have a chance to include them in the story now, I don't think.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:24 pm

Chapter 54-Faith’s Fury

It was finally complete. The barrel was large enough for Tali to stand up straight in, as long as an express train carriage and a weighed about the same as a squadron of Colossi and its triangular tip was the size of a Somme MBT. Yet it had taken only three days for the swarm of Geth repair drones to construct it from the schematic that Kullas had provided.

The Forge Priest was probably going to suffer an aneurism when he heard that the synthetics that he so vehemently despised had access to blueprints of the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, but Tali knew that the only way to get it built swiftly was to hand it over to them. The massive shuttle maintenance crane held it in place in the stump where Yamzarat Machtoro’s railgun had once been while a small swarm of repair drones flitted around it and fixed it in place.

“It’s coming online now,” Andrew said. “Checking power feeds now; all of them seem to be good. Hold on, slight fluctuation in one of them; I’ll get a drone to align it properly now.”

Tali nodded at that. In the last few days she’d barely spoken to him, and the few times that they had been in each other’s company had been excruciatingly awkward.

“Targeting systems are linking in with it now,” Yukio announced. “Aiming calibrations are complete, we’re good to go.”

“Let’s test fire it, then,” Tali said, while outside the God Machine the crane swung away from them. She resisted the urge to sniff and try and clear the blocked nose that had been hanging around malignantly.

Yamzarat Machtoro stepped free of the hangar, walking across the asphalt plain that was the Beijing Spaceport, each footfall leaving massive prints in the ground. Clear of the hangar, with the war-torn city behind him, Yamzarat Machtoro found his target in a hillside.

“Alright, taking aim,” Yukio announced. “Diverting power from locomotion feeds.”

She pressed a few buttons her console before she looked over at Tali and grinned; “We’re ready to fire.”

“Yamzarat Machtoro,” Tali said. “Give that hillside hell.”

In reply, a beam of searing light screamed from the weapon’s cyclopean barrel, hitting the side of the hill square on. Earth and stone beneath the impact evaporated, the scrubby grass around the shot caught flame, and a great blackened crater nearly ten metres across and far deeper was gouged into the side. The earth had taken a glassy sheen, and it seemed they had cut a perfectly shaped bore-hole into the side of the hill.

There was a long, hushed silence in the cockpit as the crew stared at the destruction they had wrought in awe, before there was a deep, rhythmic rumbling. After a moment, they realised Yamzarat Machtoro was laughing.

“The Almarach Ikmrin,” he said after a moment, his deep voice warm with satisfaction and anticipation. “Are going to weep with terror when this is unleashed upon them.”

#

The shuttle was waiting for them in the Normandy’s hangar, doors open in preparation for what should be the final time for it to convey them to war. Kullas, Samara, Ashley and Malleus stepped free of the lift towards as its doors opened, the parchment purity seals on the armour of the Forge Priest and Brother Captain fluttering as they walked. A small number of the crew were waiting for them as the Normandy hung in orbit, coming to wish them luck on their return.

For a few moment, Malleus paused, shaking the hand that Kenneth offered him, nodding to Mess Sergeant Gardner. Kelly stopped him for a moment as Samara exchanged a few words with Gabby about some subject, and said; “Commander, before you go, I need to talk to you quickly.”

“What is it?” Malleus asked.

“It’s about Samara,” she said, nodding to the Justicar.

Malleus glanced over at the Asari, before he asked; “Is she a risk or something similar?”

“No, not at all,” Kelly said.

“Then it can wait until the war is won, Yeoman,” Malleus replied. “I have more pressing issues to think of.”

Kelly nodded uncertainly, before she simply said; “Good luck down there then, Malleus.”

“Thank you,” Malleus said. “I shall see you again once the galaxy is finally safe.”

The Yeoman smiled at him for this, before Malleus called to the others; “Come, we need to depart.”

They stepped aboard the shuttle, its door sliding shut over them, and it began to gently rise, the crew watching them go as it pulled out of the Normandy’s hangar and into empty space. Around him, he could see small flocks of other shuttles doing the same from the small fleet that hung in orbit above Earth, the final wave of reinforcements from the Batarians and Quarians as well as a few Yahg, and the drop-carriers bringing their precious cargoes of the consummately lethal weapons to the surface. He stared up at the Normandy as the shuttle descended, and realised then that it was, without a doubt, the finest ship he’d ever had the honour of commanding; even though Faith’s Fury was a strike cruiser, an eight-kilometre behemoth and one of the deadliest ships in the Imperium’s fleet, easily twenty times the size of the SR-2, in the short time he had commanded that small, doughty vessel he’d grown immensely fond of it.

“Haven’t we won this already?” Ashley asked suddenly. “We had the Reapers on the run, after all.”

“Not quite,” Malleus said, shaking his head as he turned his attention to the SPECTRE he had taken under his command. “The war is balanced on the edge of a knife; Reapers still have the potential to destroy our fleet and the forces here on Terra if we are not careful. After that, anything that can oppose them effectively will have been annihilated; they will return to the Citadel, shut down the relays and cut off every planet from each other with year-long journeys to get from one system to another. From there, they can wipe out worlds at will and rebuild their numbers at the same time.”

Ashley shook her head.

“And here I go rushing to save all galactic civilisation once again,” she said with a wry smile. “You’d almost think I’d be getting bored of this stuff.”

The view from the window began to glow a cherry red as the Kodiak gently fell through the atmosphere, and Malleus nodded.

“Agreed,” he said. “I’m beginning to wonder what on earth I’ll find to fill the time after all of this.”

“So why are all our forces concentrated on Earth?” Samara asked suddenly.

“It’s a challenge,” Malleus said. “A threat. We’re defying these Reapers and they are too proud to let it go unanswered. And luckily for us, we lure them into range of the weapons we have that can kill the abominations.”

“With faith in the Omnissah and the Emperor, we will prevail,” Kullas grated suddenly, one of the pincers of his servo harness slamming shut as if to emphasise his point.

“Those superweapons are going to help, though,” Ashley added.

Malleus smiled at this quietly, as London’s scorched and battered came into view, damaged and ruined buildings new and old coming into view. Bizarrely, despite the fact that it was as vulnerable a target as they came, the large Faehrris Wheel by the Thames, the Oculus Londinium as Cyralius had referred to it in Gothic, was still intact. It was an odd thing, Malleus reflected; they were popular forms of entertainment in the Imperium, and it was strange to think that small things such as it had managed to last the span of forty millennia.

The shuttle’s course was set for the square outside the nation’s old Parliamentary centre, the clock tower by its side a burnt-out and gutted ruin, and he could see a small delegation of his impromptu alliance’s generals waiting to greet them. He ran a hand over his chin, autosenses of his armour feeling the fuzz of stubble, and muttered; “I should have shaved before I left.”

“Some women find a little stubble attractive, you know,” Samara replied.

“I somehow doubt that’s ever going to be a concern for me,” Malleus remarked with a shrug as the shuttle touched down.

The door opened gently, and Malleus stepped free, followed by the others. General Suvat was waiting for them, along with Mehriss, the Asari commander and Urdnot Wrex, the burly Krogan’s already scarred visage augmented by a few more wounds. The other two looked equally worse for wear; there were dark shadows under the Asari general’s eyes, and Suvat’s quills were slack and low.

“Generals,” Malleus said in way of greeting as he headed across the scrubby grass towards them, past a fallen statue of a balding man in a greatcoat. “We have much to plan.”

Suvat nodded, before he added; “It’s good to see you back, Malleus.”

“It’s good to be back,” Malleus replied. “Kullas, I’m assuming you want to examine this anti-orbital gun our forces captured?”

“Indeed,” Kullas said. “I may be able to assist in the construction of our own model.”

Malleus nodded, and he said; “Samara, Ashley, you can go wherever you think you are needed.”

He turned to face the assembly of generals before him and said; “Now, let’s work out how we’re going to win this war.”

#

The ankle had been bandaged and set in plaster, held in place by a brace that would allow no movement, and for all intents and purposes, the war was over for Miranda. And yet despite that, she was staying put. Instead, she moved through the field hospital in the London Underground station on a pair of crutches, moving up the stairs with meticulous care. People nodded to her as she passed, and judging by the few murmured stories she had heard her arrival with a rescued child and a snapped ankle was already becoming legendary.

Antoinette was by her side, and the two reached the top of the stairs into the battered warzone that was London. Soldiers of all species were milling around outside, setting up sandbagged positions at the end of the battered street, while a Mako rumbled past them. She sat down for a moment on a chunk of fallen concrete, and Antionette sat next to her for a moment before she said; “Miri?”

“Yes, Antoinette?” Miranda asked.

“Thank you,” Antoinette said. “I remember I forgot to say thank you for helping me.”

“It’s fine,” Miranda said, placing her hand on Antoinette’s. “I’m just glad you’re safe.”

Antoinette grabbed her waist in a hug, and Miranda smiled as she embraced the girl she had unofficially adopted, kissing her gently on the top of her head. She could still remember the message she had received from the clinic just over a year ago, informing her in professional, dispassionate tones that she would never be able to have children. The Ilium Medical Centre had been unable to identify the cause of the neoplasm that had rendered her infertile, but she knew all too well. Reading that, knowing that despite everything her father had still struck one final, spiteful blow against her, had hurt a lot more than she would have liked to admit; she had felt like she had been punched by a Krogan.

“Are you going to fight in the war, now?” Antoinette suddenly asked, not breaking their embrace.

“Not with my ankle like this, no,” Miranda said, shaking her head. “I’ll help where I can, but I won’t be on the front.”

“Good,” Antoinette said. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I won’t,” she said. “I promise.”

Suddenly, despite the looming threat of extinction, Miranda had never felt happier in her life.

#

The engineers working on it had taken no risks in their deconstruction of the Reapers’ great anti-orbital cannon. It was kept under strict quarantine, nobody except authorised personnel allowed within the cordon set and five different teams working on it, rotated on shifts and checked upon by several medical personnel in order to look for any signs of indoctrination. All they were doing was taken it apart and copying down the schematics for the designs of the weapon, and by the time Kullas had arrived on the scene they were already putting together a prototype.

He aided where he could, chattering litanies as he started to build the firing chamber that would house the mercury ammunition the anti-orbital would fire, but he was out of his element; Mass Driver technology was still new to him, and he knew that Tali’s skills would be better suited to such work than his. Nonetheless, he persevered, making refinements to the designs and helping construct the massive cannon.

It was a fearsome thing, the twin prongs that served as the barrel jutting upwards into the sky from a rounded dome, placed on top of a boxy prefab building which housed the Mass Effect generators which powered it. Four anti-aircraft cannons were placed on outbuildings from each corner, connected to the main structure by walkways, and trenches, foxholes and emplacements were being put up around it. Its purpose fulfilled, the Reaper made cannon was destroyed, while the one put together by the allied forces was prepared for use. Kullas was to be firing it, aiming it from a command chain at the bottom of the dome.

The door to the main control centre slid open as he was running a diagnostic check on the aiming systems, and Malleus and Titus entered. Both of them looked impressed, and Titus nodded to the Forge Priest as Kullas stood.

“So you’re going to be aiming this, then?” the banner bearer asked.

“Indeed I am,” Kullas replied with a nod. “I believe that it will be powerful enough to serve our purpose.”

Malleus nodded.

“Just in case, I have Yamzarat Machtoro moving to London to provide extra support,” he said. “The Lance Cannon you provided him with would probably be useful against the Reapers in the battle to come, and I’d rather have a third weapon capable of standing up to those creatures along with this and the thunderhawk.”

Kullas frowned, before he said; “What of the Geth? Will they not need support against the Reapers?”

“They managed to capture several guns of their own,” Malleus replied. “And since they don’t have to worry about indoctrination, Yamzarat Machtoro is an asset they are able to send to us.”

“Besides, you’ll get to see Tali again,” Titus added.

“I’m hardly happy about fighting alongside that abomination, but I suppose it is for the greater good,” Kullas said. “And you’re correct, Brother, I would not mind seeing Apprentice-Adept Zorah again.”

“So long as you don’t fire upon him then you can think what you wish and I’ll be happy,” Malleus said. “I’m hoping this weapon will be ready soon, though.”

“The crew who are working on it are running their final checks now,” Kullas replied. “And Legion has insisted on joining them, I suspect for the purpose of spying on us, though I don’t think the others will tolerate me ejecting it from this weapon’s premises on mere suspicion.”

“So it’s complete at least,” Titus said. “Good.”

“For all intents and purposes, yes,” Kullas said. “All that remains is to give it a name.”

There was some debate, before they arrived on the title of Faith’s Fury.

It felt…right.

#

He found Jack eating in a temporary mess set up by Alliance. The young biotic was wolfing down a meal at a table of her own, nobody seeming to want sit near her, and Cyralius instead sat gently down on the bench opposite her, partially compensating for his weight with the servos in his armour to stop it collapsing under him. He had a meal of his own in hand, his appetite having increased with the extra demands of his newfound abilities alongside those of his superhuman physique. The soldiers gathered around the area were mostly human with a smattering of Asari, the Turians and Quarians eating in their own messes due to their biology and the old feud between the Batarians and humanity still too bitter for the two species to even consider eating together. A lot of them stared at the Epistolary, but he paid them little heed, moving with the quiet confidence of one who could destroy starships with but a thought.

“Hey Cyril,” she managed, mouth half-full, chewing voraciously before biting down on another waiting forkful. Cyralius watched for a moment in bemusement, before he said; “Your table manners are terrible, you know.”

Jack just shrugged.

“I’m hungry,” she replied defensively. “Anyway, we’ve got this big battle coming, figured I should get my energy levels up a bit. Y’know, get prepared. Anyway, hod you find me?”

“I just asked a few soldiers pointed me in the direction of ‘that crazy biotic with the tats’,” Cyralius replied with a slightly playful smile.

“I’m a celebrity now?” Jack asked.

“Well, you’re fairly noticeable even at the best of times around here,” Cyralius replied. “Besides, you’re with us; in case you haven’t noticed pretty much everyone on the team is rather famous.”

Jack shrugged.

“Heard about what the cheerleader did with that kid,” she said. “Apparently that’s going round pretty fast. Not to mention the rest of those Kasrkin guys are getting a good rep now.”

She sneered, before adding; “Bet they wouldn’t if everyone knew that these people worked for Cerberus.”

Cyralius nodded, a look of slight concern on his face, and she said; “Don’t worry, I won’t start spreading it around; as much as I hat the guys they’re pretty useful in a fight. That Rathskeller guy who’s in charge of them now cheerleader got her ankle busted has got a bigger stick up his ass than Garrus, but he’s still pretty good at what he does; not to mention there’s some guy called Kai Leng in charge of one of the squads who’s a serious badass.”

She shrugged, before she said; “Anyway, how you holding up after, y’know.”

“I’m getting better,” Cyralius replied. “I’m still recuperating my strength after that incident, but I’m nearly back to full, thank the Emperor.”

“Good,” Jack said with a slight smile. She let her fork hang over her plate for a moment, before she quietly added; “You scared me back there, Cyril.”

Cyralius shook his head.

“I’m sorry I did,” he said. “But we needed to deal those Reapers and there was nothing else that could be done.”

“I know,” she said. “If you hadn’t done it then we all would’ve got our asses kicked, but I was just scared I was gonna lose you, that’s all. And don’t be sorry; you had to, and sticking your neck out like that for everyone…I would’ve said it was stupid once, but I guess you were kind of brave, Cyril.”

She smiled at him, and added; “I’m proud of you, y’know? I mean, I didn’t want you to die, but you being brave enough to do that stuff? That takes balls, a lot of them. Just, please Cyril, don’t do it again.”

“You have my word,” Cyralius said.

“Good,” she said. “And y’know what, Cyril? If you ask me, it isn’t that Kai Leng guy, it isn’t Garrus, it isn’t even Malleus, it’s you who’s the biggest badass in this galaxy.”

Cyralius just smiled.

#

“Apprentice Adept,” Kullas said warmly as Tali stepped off the shuttle on the impromptu grassy landing strip that Hyde Park had been transformed into. “It is good to see you once more.”

“Hello Kullas,” she said in reply, smiling beneath her mask. “It’s good to see you to.”

Their brief conversation was cut short by a defeaning roar as the VTOL engines bearing the massive freighter above them aloft cycled up to full power in order to land. Wind whipped up around them, sending the purity seals on Kullas’ armour and the sashes Tali wore fluttering madly as it touched down, while leaves were plucked from the park’s few remaining trees, The localised hurricane gradually subsided as the engines’ furious spinning slowed, the spray that it had whipped up on the nearby lake dying down and the cloth over Tali’s envirosuit no longer flapping wildly.

“That’s why we stayed in the shuttle, chief,” Yukio said with a slight smile as she stepped out of the small landing craft that held Yamzarat Machtoro’s crew. “Keep out of the wind.”

Tali shrugged, and replied; “I was just saying hello to Kullas.”

Yukio’s eyes widened as she noticed Kullas for the first time, the colossal Forge Priest in turn regarding her with own bionic one, and he nodded his head towards her. “Greetings. You are Yamzarat Machtoro’s gunnery chief, I presume; Tali mentioned you.”

“You did?” Yukio asked, still seeming to be slightly awed by Kullas’ presence. “Oh, er, hi, then.”

The rest of the crew pressed out of the shuttle, most of them hesitating as they saw Kullas, and Tali heard one of the mutters something awestruck about that really being one of the Astartes.

“This is my crew,” Tali said to Kullas, gesturing towards them. “You’ve met Kaede, that’s Gunnery-Master Parker, Macjec runs the scanners, and you’ve already met Andrew.”

“Ah yes, the engineer with the poor taste in music,” Kullas said, recalling the incident in the garage before neither human nor Quarian had been assigned to Yamzarat Machtoro.

Conversation was halted by a deep rumbling noise, and a pair of great blast doors on the side of the freight craft that had been carrying Yamzarat Machtoro slowly began to grind open. Sunlight streamed into the craft from the gap, revealing the white armour that made up his barrel chest, and after a short while they were fully open. He stepped free, his colossal three-toed feet sinking deep into the soil, small puddles of displaced water forming around them.

“So this is London,” he said, surveying the battered and wartorn city before him. “I cannot say I am impressed, Little Quarian, but I suspect that is because this place has suffered the visitations of the Almarach Ikmrin.”

Tali nodded, knowing that the gesture would be caught on the cameras on the God Machine’s ankles that allowed him to get a full view of the battlefield, and said; “I think that tourism is going to take a hit after this is over.”

Yamzarat Machtoro rumbled his agreement, and said; “Indeed. Nonetheless, it shall be a fitting staging ground for what is to come. I’m looking forward to this battle.”

Tali wasn’t surprised to hear that. Yamzarat Machtoro had been waiting for nearly four million years to get his vengeance upon the Reapers, and she knew just how much he despised them better than anyone. And tomorrow, it seemed, he was finally going to get a chance at seeing it come about.

Provided, of course, that they survived it all.



Author’s note: One more chapter. Then things get real…
Last edited by Colonel Mustard on Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Angels of the Storm [Mass Effect/40K]

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:03 am

Kelly: Captain Malleus, Samara wants to bone you.

Malleus: :o

And the weirdest thing is, that's actually a way an astartes could reproduce .... *shudder*
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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