Tomorrow's Dawn

Geth Sometimes Infiltrate

Legion's arm fell against the ground with a metallic clank. Its head came to rest face-to-face with a LOKI security android lying next to it. Like Legion, the LOKI's frame was pitted with dents and holes, and was missing a substantial part of its midsection. The two mechs stared at one another with dark, powerless receptors. Electronic components, plastic and metal fittings and other bits of junk cluttered the floor in the corner of the dark room in which they lay.

The two collector drones that delivered Legion to the room walked silently away, barely visible against the mottled gray walls and ceiling of the room. A third moved to stand over the geth, looking it over with four glowing yellow eyes and adjusting the settings on a hand-held plasma cutter as the other drones carried Legion's rifles to the opposite side of the chamber.

The pair of drones maneuvered around two rows of coffin-like, tapered stasis pods that lay in the center of the floor. All but three were open to the air, dark and empty. The remaining three glowed with an inner light through their translucent lids. One of the drones opened a dull gray container against the far wall and they placed the weapons inside. Their task done, they walked through a wide opening to the corridor outside and disappeared.

The remaining drone finished its calibrations and pulled the trigger on the pistol-like cutter. A brilliant blue point of light appeared at its tip. The collector knelt next to the Legion's body and considered where to make the first cut. Something tugged at its arm, and the weight of the cutter disappeared from its hand. It looked down at the sudden movement wondering where the cutter had gone, then back up to a glowing white spotlight inches from its face.

Legion yanked the collector off balance with its right hand, pinning it against its chest. The alien barely had time to push out with its arms before Legion jammed the cutter against its neck. With a puff of smoke, the elongated, bulbous head jerked sharply, gurgled, then tumbled forward and bounced to the floor to land next to the destroyed LOKI.

The geth quietly rolled the decapitated body aside, its cauterized stump of a neck still smoldering. It paused, analyzing sensor data. There was no activity in the open corridor. It climbed to its feet and activated its omnitool as it moved silently to the holo panel on the wall next to the door. It scanned the interface, tapped out a command sequence, and the wide door slid shut.

Legion surveyed the stasis pods as it walked to the computer console in the far corner of the chamber. It could see human bodies within, frozen in contorted poses beneath the hazy glow. The geth stood in front of the console, its omnitool alive with connections. Machine interfaced with machine. Seconds later, the lids of three pods retracted. Legion closed the omnitool and walked to the container where the drone had deposited its weapons. Inside were three human model assault rifles, heat sinks and helmets, as well as its own gear. It mounted the folded sniper rifle onto its back, but kept the pulse rifle in hand. The sound of a human cough made it turn back to the pods.

Legion turned to face Shepard, who had staggered to his feet and was attempting to give Jacob a hand up from the next pod. Zaeed sat up on his haunches, his armor heaving with each deep breath. The three of them looked around the room as their lungs and minds tried to catch up with their bodies.

"Are you functional?" Legion asked the Commander.

"Barely," Shepard said. "Report status."

"We are in extreme danger," Legion spoke at low volume. "We are in a collector installation beneath the ruins of the pirate installation. The number of hostile forces is unknown. You have been in stasis approximately sixteen minutes, twenty-one seconds."

"What the hell hit us?" Jacob whispered, panting. "I just froze up. I could see but I couldn't move."

"Me neither." Shepard doubled over. "Whatever it was went right through our screens. Legion, we secure?"

"For the moment, Shepard-Commander. But we do not know how long we shall remain so. We were forced to kill a drone. Its absence will not go unnoticed."

"Have you contacted the shuttle? Or the Normandy?"

"Negative. All communications have been blocked since the time you entered the structure."

"That's our first priority, then," Shepard took a step toward the console but collapsed against the nearby wall only a step away. "Can you override the jamming from here?"

"Negative. This station does not have access to the required subsystems." Legion returned to the storage container once more and gathered their equipment. "Your small arms are here, as are your breathing apparatus. Heavy weapons do not appear to be stored at this location. When you are fully operational, we suggest re-arming and re-equipping for hazardous environment conditions before exfiltration."

"Bloody brilliant," Zaeed stood upright and took his helmet and rifle from Legion. He stepped toward the door and slumped next to the control panel. "We need to get moving before they know we're up, Shepard. Like the bot said, their pal's gonna be missed."

Shepard nodded and coughed as he performed a function check of his rifle. "Roger that. How the hell did you get in here, Legion?"

Legion's facial plates fluttered briefly. "Geth sometimes infiltrate."

Shepard laughed quietly and put on his helmet. "Damn good thing they do."

"No doubt," Jacob also donned his helmet and looked back towards his empty stasis pod. "We owe you one, dude."

"You are welcome," Legion responded.

"Shit," Jacob said through the speaker in his helmet. "Comms are out."

"Still jamming," Shepard replied. "Once we leave this room, visual signals only until we make contact."

Zaeed eyed the door panel. "So how many of these bastards we got here?"

Legion pecked at its omnitool and a holographic projection of the mapping from its sensors appeared before him. "Unknown. We made visual contact with seven between our current position and the surface entrance at these locations. One of them has been terminated. We were able to download a floor plan from their network. It is not a large installation."

Shepard studied the schematic. "Left out the door, five meters, then right through a room, ten meters, elevator, then the pirate barracks. Short haul, but it looks like there's a strongpoint right before we get there."

Legion looked between the humans. "We would not advise taking this route until the device which incapacitated you at that location can be disabled."

"Good point," Jacob said. "They could just flash freeze us again."

Shepard continued to study the floor plan. To the right of the pod chamber, a ten meter corridor led to another small room. To its right, a longer corridor branched off, leading to a larger area squared off on the near side, but with an irregular outer wall. He pointed at the jagged line on the map. "I bet that's the side of the mountain."

"Garage or loading bay," Zaeed said and looked toward the stasis pods. "They can't haul these babies out through the front door. Bet you a week's pay there's external access."

Shepard poked his finger through the holo projection. "Then that's where we're heading. Escape, contact the ship, and call in reinforcements."

Legion rotated the map. "The small room here shows a substantial amount of network traffic. We believe this to be the control center for the installation."

Shepard motioned everyone to stand around Legion's omnitool projection. "OK here's the drill. We're going to assault the control room. Zaeed, up front with me. Jacob, you and Legion cover the rear. When we open the door, Jacob, you yank anybody in there away from any alarms. We don't have any way to take 'em out quietly, but wait for my command to fire. Once we've secured the room, the three of us will block the door while Legion hacks their system. Legion, if you can, override their security and lock this place down tight. Then try to knock out their jamming. Once that's done, we will clear the hall of any resistance and advance to the loading dock in the same order. Any questions?"

"Negative." Legion said. Zaeed and Jacob both shook their heads.

Shepard glanced between his squadmates. "You guys up for this? How are you feeling?"

"Pissed off," Zaeed said and charged his weapon.

Jacob raised his rifle across his chest. "Good to go, Commander. Payback time!"

"Let's do it." Shepard said.

The door opened into the empty corridor. Dull blue light glinted from obsidian walls. To the right the control room door, half again as large as a standard humanoid portal, was shut. To the left was the deserted T-intersection. Shepard hugged the wall and slid down the hall. Zaeed followed closely as they advanced toward door, weapons raised. Behind them, Legion and Jacob walked backwards, covering the tunnel towards the main entrance. The soles of their boots squeaked softly as they walked.

Shepard stopped and knelt short of the junction to the garage, aiming at the control room. Zaeed stood with his back against the corner and angled his rifle sight around the bend. The video relayed to his eye revealed an empty passageway sealed at the other end with another large bay door. He tapped Shepard on the shoulder and motioned to him it was clear.

Shepard ducked across to the opposite corner of the hall and gestured the team forward. Jacob crouched low on the right with Legion above him. Zaeed positioned himself behind Shepard and waited. The Commander's hand fluttered like an orchestra conductor. He would go left, Jacob to the right, and Zaeed up the middle. Legion would bring up the rear. When everyone nodded, Shepard signaled Legion to open the door.

It slid aside with a metallic grind. Three collector drones stood at consoles around the outside of a small room illuminated with the light of the holo units on the wall. As they turned toward the unexpected intrusion, Jacob flung his left arm inside. With a loud whump the air in front of him warped and shimmered and all three of the collectors floated slowly toward the ceiling.

"Fire!" Shepard shouted.

Their four rifles filled the corridor with bright white flashes and thunderous report. The collectors spun lazily in the air with each short burst before falling to the ground like ragdolls. Gray ooze splattered across the walls and floor. "Cease fire! Move in!" Shepard yelled and he, Zaeed and Jacob rushed inside. Legion dodged between them to the console on the opposite wall, its omnitool out and active. Jacob and Shepard flanked the door as Zaeed stepped to each collector, firing a round point blank into each of their craniums before joining Shepard on his side of the door.

Shepard kept his focus toward the T-intersection at the other end of the hallway. "Legion! What have you got?"

"These terminals are all open for access," Legion said. "We have complete control of the facility. Locking all doors." Shepard and Jacob stepped back as the door in front of them closed. The panel next side turned from amber to red.

Shepard stood behind Legion at the console, trying to make sense of the alien screen. "Outstanding. Shut down everything you can. Communications, defense systems... Can you override the security so only we have control?"

"Affirmative. Working. Override complete. Transmitting new command codes to Taylor-Jacob's omnitool. The communication disruption has also been terminated."

"Normandy, this is Shepard! Do you read, over? Normandy, this is Shepard! Do you copy?"

"...Rolston... -gnal is weak... read you..."

"Damn mountain," Shepard muttered. "Rolston. Contact the Normandy. There is a collector installation here. Unknown number of hostiles. We are breaking out due east of the caldera, and will need immediate evac once we're clear. Their defenses are down, but do not overfly the caldera. I say again, do not overfly the caldera. Go around! Wait for my signal to come in. Do you copy?"

"...ative. Affirmative. Notifying Normandy... Take evasive route and... for your signal. ETA three minutes, over."

"Roger. Shepard out." He looked at the sceens again. "Legion, can you crash the system? Take it down so they can't undo your handiwork?"

"Stand by," Legion said. A few seconds later, all of the terminals in the room went dark.

"You just became my favorite geth on the whole planet." Shepard took his position to the right of the door.

"We are the only geth on this planet," Legion protested.

Shepard grinned behind his faceplate. "All right, same drill. Jacob, do your thing as soon as the door opens. Zaeed and I will spot left and if the hallway's clear, we'll make a break for it. Wait for my command."

Jacob knelt to the left of the door's seal with Legion above him. The geth activated the panel and the door slid open. Jacob grunted and wave of energy surged from his arms, immediately followed by an incoming pulse that threw him back towards the opposite wall. Legion's shield glowed brightly as it also tumbled back from the door.

Zaeed braced low against the frame and fired a concussive round down the hall as Shepard jumped backwards to pull Jacob to cover. Zaeed's warhead impacted, sending a second, explosive shockwave back through the door. Legion crawled low on the ground back to its position on the left.

"At least four hostiles at the end of the hall," Zaeed shouted. "And a goddamn scion right outside the door!"

Barely three meters in front, the scion lumbered down the hall towards the control room. The blue glow of the pulsing sac on its back illuminated the human skull protruding grotesquely from its side. Its shockwave depleted, it brought the auto cannon grafted to its body to bear on the humans.

Shepard stood behind Zaeed, his rifle pulled to his chest. "Get to the loading dock! GO!" He launched himself through the door into the scion, shoving his shoulder into creature's breastplate. The top-heavy construct fell backwards, staggering to stay upright, its autocannon firing wildly into the ceiling. The collectors at the end of the corridor fired at once. Particle beams sizzled through the air while bullets sparked all around the walls and off the back of the scion. Shepard pulled back quickly, crouched behind the nearby corner and popped a fresh heat sink into his rifle. He knelt and fired full auto into the creature in front of him.

"GO!" he screamed again.

"Goddamn..." Zaeed muttered and charged to the left toward the loading dock. "Hallway's clear! Get that door open!"

"On it!" Jacob sprinted past Zaeed, his omnitool leaving a trail of light behind him.

Legion rose to a crouch in the doorway, its pulse rifle sending a steady stream of phasic slugs into scion's skull. The creature twisted and groaned as it took hits from all sides. Shepard knelt at the corner of the junction, firing round after round into the scion. "Legion, go!"

But Legion maintained its fire, its shields flaring from repeated impacts. The scion stood slowly upright, its entire body pulsing with biotic energy. Legion's pulse rifle steamed in the air from the heat build up as it aimed point blank into the scion's lifeless face. It reeled from the blasts, blue cracks spreading across its skull, and exploded. The giant animated corpse dropped to its knees, the glow fading from its distended back as it fell to the floor.

Now unobstructed, the opposite end of the corridor radiated streaks of dazzling light as the full fury of the collector force opened up at once. Tiny silver comets arced across Legion's shielding and spread into lightning.

Tali flinched as Legion's video feed pixelated and flickered with scattered, broken frames. It was down on the ground again, but unlike before it was no ruse. Its camera lost focus, jerking uncontrollably in all directions. Static crackled from the audio feed, popping and hissing violently. The program trace exploded with garbage, punctuated by system shutdowns and overload warnings. Legion's central nervous system was shattered, leaving it paralyzed and unable to even force a power down to protect its vital systems. It struggled helplessly on the ground as one by one its systems shorted out.

Then the entire video frame moved. At first Tali couldn't tell if it was a result of Legion's sudden seizure, but its viewpoint definitely changed. As successive frames stuttered past she caught a dark silhouette crouched low, dragging the geth on its back down the dark corridor. In front of him, muzzle flashes illuminated a pair of armored humans laying down murderous cover fire as they backpedaled towards the open loading bay door...

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