Feros: The Thorian
Continued thanks for Reikson's help and bata skills & thanks for the many kind words
The Geth were not the biggest problem on Feros, the colonists were possessed. It seems Exo-Geni's science team had discovered a sapient species of plant called the Thorian, well it called itself The Thorian, the thing was alive. by blowing out spores that lesser beings inhaled this giant alien weed could control any organic beings nearby. including the colonists living on the planet.
We descended into the lower levels of the colony and I found myself confronting a previously unknown alien species, a truly unique lifeform ...and trying to kill
...Or as Xander called it in his after-action report ... a slow Tuesday.
The team walked through the dark underground hallways. Shepard had point, aiming the bright beam of her omni-tool's flashlight into the thick shadows.
Liara trailed behind the SPECTRE, obviously nervous and even more obviously not wanting Shepard to see her nervousness.
"I cannot believe that man Fai-dan ...that he could just shoot himself like that." The Asari scientist whispered.
"He didn't just shot himself." Shepard hissed.
"You saw him Doc," Xander replied, "he was fighting this Thorian's influence the whole time. It was forcing him to do it's will. Killing himself was the only escape."
"I'm not letting that thing do that to anymore of the colonists, The Thorian is going to die." Shepard vowed.
Xander glanced at his omni tool's scanners, "I'm reading a large open structure up ahead." he said.
"That's our target people . keep it tight and check targets. it's close quarters down here and I'd rather not take a bullet fired in a panic."
Xander snorted, "Panic? Boss - panic does not even begin to capture how I feel right this second."
"It will be fine," Tali said confidently, "We just need to find this Thorian and determine...what it...what it ... Oh Keelah ..." she trailed off.
Her shock was shared by the rest of the team before them was a thing unlike any creature any of them had ever seen before. Worse yet, it had secured itself to the under-structure of the colony and Xander could see tendrils branching off and meandering into the distance he had little doubt, there were pieces of this thing all across Feros.
"We are going to need bigger guns." Shepard muttered. amazed at the sight of the alien life form.
"This is a plant?" Liara's disbelieving voice echoed the question on all their minds.
"What the hell was Exo-Geni thinking," Xander snapped,
"If they were thinking at all - it was all about their third quarter profit margin." Shepard growled.
"The structure of this thing stretches beyond this room," Tali reported.
"How much beyond?" Shepard asked.
"kilometers easily, " the Quarian answered, "I'm still reading plant matter at the extreme limit of the scanner range."
"The good news," Xander added, " is the main body of the thing will be here. Why else were the colonists so hot to defend this place."
They approached a formation that resembled a head with large thick tendrils hanging down from an opening that suggested a mouth. suddenly it began to convulse. a thick gooey discharge come out of the mouth. The squad jumped back as an Asari dropped to the floor, at least the figure looked like an asari, dressed in the body hugging hardsuits favored by Asari Commandos, one huge difference was the clone's pale and sickly looking green skin.
"Invaders," the clone shouted at them, "A thousand feelers appraise you as meat fit only to dig or to decompose. you are within and before The Thorian, it commands that you be in awe."
"I can do awe," Xander whispered, "Awe is very easy right now."
"I speak for the old growth as I did for Saren." The Clone declared.
"You gave something to Saren, something I need." Shepard snapped.
"Saren sought knowledge of those who are gone. trades were made then cold ones began killing the flesh that was to tend the next cycle flesh fairly given."
"Anybody speak plant?" Shepard growled impatiently.
"Saren made a deal for information," Xander answered, "once he had what he wanted he sent the Geth to destroy the Thorian, of course to do that, they had to wipe out the colonists first."
Years spent watching Giles and Willow poring over obscure prophecies and portends , you picked up the knack of figuring it out when the bad guys made with the mystic mumbo-jumbo.
"No wonder Fai-Dan wanted us to go to Exo-Geni, this thing was hoping we'd kill the Geth before dying ourselves." Shepard snarled, before turning back to the clone. "I don't negotiate with plants give me what I want NOW."
"The Thorian is a piece of this world you can no more kill it then you could cut the sky." a biotic field swelled and shimmered around the clone. "No more will the Thorian listen to those that scurry. your lives are short but have gone on too long."
Shepard whipped up her pistol firing a single shot that shook the clone. but it continued to stare at her with hate.
"Your lives will feed the new growth." The Clone hissed.
Suddenly it was rocked backward and went sailing though the air into the pit underneath. Liara stood looking, a biotic field still swirling around her fist.
"Not bad Doc," Shepard smiled. Liara blushed even as she obviously enjoyed Shepard's praise. Xander watched them, Liara reminded him a lot of Tara, powerful yet still coming to terms with just how powerful she really was.
A low moaning filled the dark corridors , Xander tuned to see a crowd of deformed begins shuffling toward them. their twisted bodies a grotesque mix of plant and human. Xander got the squad's attention,
"Yeah - can she do that about a hundred or so more times." Xander pointed.
The creepers raised clawed hands and began to run at the squad.
"Have I mentioned lately how much I hate zombies." Xander shouted as he fired round after round trying to keep the creepers back. Shepard nailed head shot after head shot. As each shot hit home, the creepers would die but two more seemed to fill any gap in the wall enclosing them.
"They look like the husks I saw on Eden Prime,,,but more organic looking." Shepard muttered as she fired her shotgun, it blast caused her target to explode in a greenish mist.
The squad fell back to an alcove, Shepard and Xander providing cover as Tali and Liara searched for a way out of the basement.
Tali noted the thick bundles attached to the wall "Those nodes," The Quarian engineer pointed, "perhaps if those could be dislodged?"
Shepard unleashed her sniper rifle, Xander recalled the commander's fetish for modding the hyper accurate weapon's payload with high explosive rounds. Shepard snapped off a shot and Xander watched as the wall exploded with great force dislodging the node, a loud cry echoed through the chamber.
"It did NOT like that." Xander shouted firing his pistol on several creepers who were getting too close.
Indeed the Thorian convulsed again and another clone slid out of it's mouth already un-holstering the shotgun at its back. It fired a shot that punched Tali in the stomach. The Quarian fell to the ground with a pain-filled cry as a Creeper loomed over her. It mouth opened and a sickly green foam vomited forth covering the Quarian who panicked.
Xander could see she was trying to protect a rupture in her suit. For a human or Asari a puncture in a hard suit was serious, for a Quarian it was a potential death sentence, toss in whatever sick crap was in the noxious goo covering the Quarian and her fear was more then justified.
Xander dived to cover her with his body feeling several shots impacting with his own suit, he felt fire blossoming along his side, one of the shots had punched through the suit's kinetic barrier.
Shepard, hemmed in trying to keep both herself and Liara alive, was shocked when Xander stood up and pulled his arm back. A hard light blade slid out of his omni-tool. He swept his arm forward cutting the creeper's head off - he spun around in an elegant almost dance-like move, sweeping the blade up and out to cut down two more that were threatening Tali.
The blade retreated back into the omni-tool as Xander looked around the room.
"I got an idea." Xander shouted. as he tapped at his omni-tool again. Suddenly a low rumble was just barely audible. Xander slid his fingers across the control screen and the creepers dropped to the ground screeching.
"What are you doing?" Shepard shouted.
"The foundation is made out of ferro-concrete and since I'm guessing Exo-Geni went with the cheapest building materials they could find, I'm betting they used an unstable metal composite. One neat thing about cheapo composite materials is it only takes a a little high frequency ultrasound to start them vibrating ... and since The Thorian has attached itself to the walls that vibration is echoing though its entire form." Xander sneered a look of dark determination on his face.
The creepers were crying out some exploded in gooey mists as they died. The clone shrieked and cursed at them. One by one the tendrils yanked on the walls jerking the nodes free of the painful vibration the huge creature finally dropped into the pit underneath.
Shepard and Xander looked down into the pit. "You think its dead Boss." Xander asked.
Shepard pulled an incendiary grenade off her belt. she primed it and tossed it down into the pit. Seconds later, a fiery explosion tossed heat and light in their faces.
"If it isn't dead, then it's having a really bad day." Shepard sneered. She tossed Xander another incendiary explosive, "Make sure it's a really really bad day."
"Shepard, we found a survivor." Liara was tending to an Asari who looked a lot like the clones they had been fighting. save that she possessed the more traditional blue skin Shepard associated with "Normal Asari"
"All right, let's hear it. Who are you and how'd you get down here?" Shepard snapped, her gun almost but not quite pointed at the cowering asari.
"My name is Shiala, I served Matriarch Benezia. When she joined with Saren, I did as well. I was sacrificed to secure an alliance."
"...and why did Saren need an alliance with a plant?" Shepard asked.
"To gain access to the Cipher."
"OK lady start talking, What is the Cipher and trust me lady, your answer better be high on the clear and concise and low on the mystic crap."
"if only it was always THAT easy." Xander grumbled.
Shiala, like all Asari, possessed the ability to form a neurochemical bond with any species, an ability that allowed them to procreate but also let Asari share thoughts, feelings and even memories on a mental and almost spiritual level.
Xander called it mind melding and I honestly can't think of a better term.
Shiala had used this ability to take from The Thorian knowledge of the Protheans that had lived on Feros fifty thousand years ago. This was The Cipher - the distilled essence of an entire species, it's memories, it's culture, it's language. It sounded like crap to me but if Saren had been willing go to this much trouble to try and keep me from getting a hold of it, The Cipher was something I was going to want. Shiala used the asari joining to give me the Cipher but it was Liara with her knowledge of the protheans who really helped me. by joining with me she was able to help me organize and even begin to process the barrage of images the beacon on Eden Prime had given me. The experience of Joining was ... not unpleasant and it helped cement my growing attraction to our young (relatively speaking) Asari scientist.
From that point onward Xander would often greet her with the phrase "live long and prosper" - apparently a reference to an old earth television program.
The other reason that fight stood out in my mind was that during it Xander took a shot meant for Tali. She was down for a few days from a minor illness she got as a result of exposure to the Creeper's toxic goo and the damage to her suit. Still it might have been worse if not for Xander's putting himself in harm's way. I could have sworn Xander had also taken a petty serious shot but afterward there was no trace of any wound on his person. which stood out in my mind because I saw his hardsuit and the damaged area on a human could have killed him and should at least have wounded him severely but he seemed ignorant he'd been hurt in any way.
I've also run checks across the extranet. The only hard light omni-blades are still in the testing phase, they wouldn't be ready for another four or five years and the only people working on a high frequency sound generator for a omni-tool say their version is still in the early stages of design ... so how had Xander gotten a hold of the one he had?