Sunday, March 4, 2012

Top Secret, Part 4

Author's Note: Due to unforeseen issues, Part 3 of Episode 5, Top Secret will not be posted. It may be posted at a later date as a "lost chapter", but it's non-essential. The chapter was basically a log entry where Leanna recounts talking with Admiral Hackett. If you want to know what was said, you can either find it on Youtube or just get the Arrival DLC.


The Kodiak set down just outside an old, run down looking building. According to Hackett's intelligence, this was where Dr. Kenson was being held.

Shepard could hear the patter of the rain as the Kodiak's doors opened. The moment she stepped clear, the shuttle closed its doors and took off.

Shepard checked her weapons: the laser-guided Phalanx pistol and Kassa Locust at her side, the Widow on her back. Also on her back, where she would normally carry a heavy weapon, she carried a small cylindrical object. She hoped she wouldn't have to use it, but she was almost certain she would.

She made her way to the entrance. She hacked the door with ease. Guess they care more about keeping prisoners in than out, she thought.

The doors slid open. A single Batarian guard stood in front of her, his back turned to her.

Before he had the chance to turn, Shepard delivered a well-placed palm strike to the back of his head. She heard a sickening crunch as his vertebrae snapped. His body hit the floor, limp.

She moved passed him to an available terminal. She initiated a search on prisoners in the facility.

A list turned up: thirty-seven prisoners, over half of which were Batarian. The Batarians were the only ones afforded the luxury of names. Still, each and every prisoner was listed as "Interrogated, Executed".

Finally, Shepard came to the thirty-eighth entry, "Human, female. Status: Interrogation in progress."

This was the one and only prisoner alive in the facility. She had to hope this was Kenson. She downloaded the schematics of the base and left the terminal and the guard behind her.

The facility was like a maze. The echoes didn't help either. In two instances, she thought she'd been discovered, only to realize the guard she was hearing was nowhere to be seen.

She checked her omni-tool periodically in an attempt to find her way. At one point, she thought she'd gotten lost, but a long scream convinced her she was close. Dr. Kenson was close… and being tortured.

Minutes later, she found the interrogation chamber. The two guards interrogating her had left the door open. Shepard took up a position in the hall. She drew the Widow and took aim through the scope.

"What do you think?" the first guard asked.

"She's not talking," the other replied. "It's been three days."

"Think we should just kill her?"

"Nah." The guard smiled sickeningly. "I wanna have some fun first."

Without a moment's hesitation, Shepard pulled the trigger. The biotic-enhanced round exploded out of the muzzle of the Widow and took the second guards head with it.

Shepard dropped the gun, not even bothering to reload. The guard raised his assault rifle and pointed it at her.

Shepard raised her Phalanx pistol. The laser sight caught him in one of his four eyes. He shot wildly.

With cool precision, Shepard fired two shots into the Batarian's head. He was dead before he hit the floor.

She ran up to the prisoner. She hoped Hackett's intel had been accurate. "Dr. Kenson?"

"Kenson?" she asked, disoriented. "Yes, I… Amanda Kenson, my name. Who…?"

"I'm Commander Shepard. Admiral Hackett sent me to rescue you."

"Shepard? The artifact! The Reapers are coming! We don't have much time!"

Shepard undid Kenson's restraints and administered a dose of medigel. "You can tell me about it once we're away from this forsaken prison. Can you walk?"

"I… I'll try."

Kenson tried to step off the interrogation machine. She stumbled for a moment, but managed to right herself.

"I can walk, but not quickly."

Shepard swore under her breath. "I can't get you back to the landing area in this condition." She pulled up the schematics on her omni-tool. "There's a shuttle bay not far from here. We can commandeer a shuttle and leave from there."

"I think I can make it."

Kenson threw her arm over Shepard's shoulder for support and the two of them made their way through the hallway, Shepard retrieving her sniper rifle along the way.

Wordlessly, the two went through the twist and turns of the facility. Shepard was able to plan a route that would avoid guards, but continued to scan for others.

They soon found themselves in the shuttle bay. Shepard entered the nearest shuttle. It was nearly identical to the Kodiak; in fact the controls were in English. Its paint job suggested it was stolen.

Shepard set Kenson down in one of the empty seats as she ran to the pilot's chair.

"Damn," she swore as she accessed the controls. "I can't open the doors from here."

Kenson struggled to her feet. "Help me to the controls and I can open them manually."

"No. You're staying here where it's safe."

Kenson looked her firmly in the eye. "As soon as we start hacking the door controls the alarms will go off. Dozens of Batarian reinforcements will start pouring in. You may be impressive Commander, but even you can't hack a door and shoot at the same time."

Shepard sighed. "Fine, but keep safe. I'll cover you as best as I can."

Being sure to tie the ships autopilot into her omni-tool, Shepard helped Dr. Kenson off the shuttle and to the manual controls. Kenson began hacking the controls while Shepard stood at the ready, Locust SMG in hand.

After a minute or two of waiting, Shepard asked, "I thought you said this would trigger an alarm?"

As if on cue, the klaxon of an alarm started ringing. Shepard heard the shouting and footfalls of approaching Batarian guards.

"Keep working! I'll draw their fire!"

Shepard stacked a couple of crates behind Kenson. They wouldn't hold up well, but all they needed to do was hide her. She took to the nearest cover just as the first couple guards came into view.

"Where are you?" one of them called. "Show yourselves!"

Shepard popped up and fired about a dozen rounds from the Locust, killing one of the guards and injuring another. The injured guard fired wildly. One of the rounds managed to graze her kinetic barrier.

"Give yourself up!" a newly appearing guard called out. "You can't escape!"

"You can't kidnap alliance citizens and get away with it!"


Shepard swore under her breath. She'd hoped to get in and out without being recognized.

"Shepard, it's me, Charn."

"Charn?" The name struck a bell with her, though she couldn't quite place it.

"From Asteroid X57."

That Shepard remembered. "You mean the asteroid your boss was going to crash into a planet?"

"Like I said back there, I was in it to secure slaves, not destroy a colony."

"That didn't make it right. You shouldn't have been there then and you shouldn't be here now."

"Hey! I sacrificed a lot of credits helping you out. I could be retired by now. And how did you repay me? You let Balak live!"

"I had to. It was the only way to save the hostages he took."

"They would have been acceptable losses; Balak needed to be stopped!"

"That's the difference between you and me. I'd rather save lives then end them."

"I'm going to enjoy gutting you Shepard. Fire!"

A spray of bullets flew over her head. A few of them managed to impact the crates behind her. They were damaged, but Kenson was still hidden. Shepard popped her head up when she could to take out a few guards with her locust, but the guards just kept coming, and Charn was still standing.

Suddenly, the doors behind her began to open. The guards stopped firing, startled by the unexpected occurrence.

"I've got it Shepard!" Kenson called out.

At that, Several of the guards began to raise their weapons at the crates.

Shepard stood and unleashed a Cryo Blast, freezing several of the nearest guards. She ran behind the crates and grabbed Kenson, shielding her with her body as the guards began to fire. She felt as each bullet impacted her shields, draining its power. She only hoped she could make it to the shuttle in time.

She managed to reach the shuttle hatch, just as her shields failed. With it, her tech armor exploded, knocking back all the guards in the area, save Charn, who was apparently out of thermal clips.

Shepard activated the autopilot as Charn searched his fallen comrades for more clips. The ship began to hover.

"Hey Charn."

The Batarian stopped what he was doing to look at her.


Shepard pulled the fire extinguisher off her back and threw it at Charn, who caught it out of pure shock. As the shuttle began to fly away, Shepard held out her omni-tool arm and unleashed an Overload blast at the container, igniting the element zero she'd stored inside.

The shuttle raced away as the blast took out the entire facility, as well as a good part of the surrounding countryside.