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Mass Effect: Project Hybrid

What happens when a Cerberus project aiming to create super soldiers is deemed a failure actually produces one success? That is what a galaxy unknowingly standing on the brink of destruction will find out as Commander Shepard entangles him into it all.

Alexander_the_grey · Video Games
Not enough ratings
26 Chs

Ch.22 - Peak 15: Purge

Surprisingly, the tram was not constantly assaulted or rendered inoperable while in use.

Given the Commander's usual…luck, it was a welcome break from the common delays one could face while around her.

Not that I did not often find it fascinating to ponder on the probability of some of the situations people can find themselves in when around Jane Shepard. In fact, I find them to be excellent means of gaining incredibly varied practical experiences in a very wide range scenarios.

Although, I would admit that few of our current squad could manage the planetary conditions if the tram had been breached during usage, especially if Rachni or Geth were involved. One was synthetic, hence unaffected by the cold, and the other was capable of thriving in much worst conditions while also being a close-range threat which could breach their gear.

"Now arriving at Rift Station, Binary Helix research facility." The automated message announced as we pulled into the origin of this mess.

"Look alive! I want everyone to be on alert!" The Commander ordered as we drew our assorted weaponry, stepping out of the tram first. "Bugs like to burrow and I wouldn't put it past the Rachni to pop out behind us. Keep on your toes."

With a quiet round of understanding, we moved forward.

Reaching out, I could feel…much.

But it was not in the immediate area.

A large gathering of squirming madness. Many together, but alone, all looking for a missing piece they could not understand.

Fear. Anger. Hopelessness.

Madness.

A group of more concentrated emotions, likely survivors of the Rachni and possibly Benezia if some impeded her.

Beyond both of these though, there was…sadness. Sorrow. Pain.

A…song of deep sadness and pain.

Emotions I could not understand, dancing within them.

"Neo?" Liara softly probed.

I had not noticed my lack of motion.

That was not acceptable.

"My apologies." I responded, bringing my focus back to the now.

"Is something wrong?" Shepard questioned, the unstated parts regarding my abilities being easy to pick up.

The entirety of the ship knew of my Empathic abilities due to my assisting Dr. Chakwas and soldier gossip, hence it was essentially an open secret.

"Survivors are nearby." I revealed, garnering a mildly mixed reaction. "But I also sensed a large gathering of Rachni somewhere in the same direction.

They seem to… gather together. Like they are attempting to recover what was torn from them."

"What do you mean?" My academically inclined Asari friend asked.

"The Rachni are maddened by the loss of their Hive Mind." I revealed with certainty. "They lash out and act purely on instinct because they had their connection to their Queen torn apart in Binary Helix's attempts at 'controlling' them.

Although, it would seem as if they possess an instinct to gather as I can feel a great number together, simply trying to understand why they still feel so alone."

My teammates could not truly understand what I was feeling, but they could understand what these scientists had been doing was something truly horrible. To twist a relatively sentient being's nature in order to subvert its will to create living weapons was horrific.

"There's a Queen?" Wrex growled softly in quiet outrage.

"Yes." I confirmed. "She reaches out and cries in sorrow at her lost and broken children. In between the pain and torment she is receiving anyway, which would indicate the location of Benezia as I doubt anyone else would be near the Rachni Queen at this time."

"Are you Ok?" Liara asked, care and worry evident.

It is nice to have friends.

"I am." I reassured. "It was just… momentarily stunning when I felt just how differently the Queen exudes her emotions."

"Can you point out where you felt these groups?" Shepard inquired professionally, keeping on task while on a mission.

"The Queen lies beyond the sealed Labs." I indicated towards the locked doors ahead of us. "Meanwhile, the survivors and gathering are beyond the unlocked one, but then split in different directions."

"Alright. Let's make sure to not stray too close to the large group of Rachni if we don't have to. And since we don't have the equipment to force those locked doors open, I think checking to see if there's an alternative path to the Queen and Matriarch Benezia should be our next step." The Commander laid out her current plan, earning no rejection as our group moved forward after my slip up.

I did not approve of my mistake, but it had brought at least some level of usable information.

Cross-referencing what I could feel with the fragmented information obtained through Mira's mainframe did allow for a somewhat clearer image of the overall situation in Rift Station.

Matriarch Benezia in the Secured Laboratories alongside the Rachni Queen meant that her's and Saren's interests laid directly with…said being.

Having locked themselves in even after the lockdown indicated urgency. As part owners of Binary Helix, both she and Saren should be able to access this facility at their leisure, but this…recklessness in bringing in Geth while a massive containment breach occurred and the threat of orbital bombardment loomed certainly wasn't a positive indicator.

Her situation meant Saren was pressed for time and desperately desired to hamper the Commander's efforts in tracing his footsteps and understanding exactly what his aims were. Knowing about the Reapers thanks to the information from the Thorian was one thing, but understanding how Saren fit into the threat of Galaxy-wide 'reaping' by enormous sentient machines was frustrating.

I just could not understand how the Rachni were important, or more specifically their Queen.

This was too rushed and there was no evidence of the Rachni being anywhere near ready to be used as an army to supplement the Geth or any other forces. This meant that they needed something else from the Queen, but information regarding the species and their variants was incredibly lacking due to interactions being largely limited to attempting to genocide them. Maybe something could be found in the Council Archives, with the rest of the information being deleted from other servers for various reasons, but this left me without the means of solving an equation due to only missing a single variable.

It was…frustrating.

An interesting feeling to not being able to resolve a puzzle like this.

Beyond that, thanks to the various cameras and databases, I was able to estimate a 10 women squad of Asari Commandos escorting the Matriarch and discovered agents under her command within the facility staff itself.

Useful information, especially when we were approaching survivors.

A list of my findings was forwarded to the Commander to decide how to use them.

The building Horde of Rachni I had felt were seemingly located in the Hot Labs themselves. Information regarding a Neutron Purge option being available was helpful if the Rachni in that section of the facility started becoming…less focused. Having the access of an administrator certainly did help in obtaining the codes required to activate said option as well.

Although very little information could be found regarding the survivors themselves beyond an approximate count and their location, which we had almost reached

"Heads up cause Neo has discovered that not only is the security in this place, which is likely who has been keeping the survivors alive, on Benezia and Saren's payroll, they also have some agents embedded into Binary Helix and might be present amongst sais survivors." Shepard revealed to the squad, earning some grumbles of annoyance and a suggestion of simply killing them all from Wrex. "I don't want to tip our hand before we can figure out a way into the Secured Labs, so be careful if they don't immediately act aggressively."

"Makes sense." Ashley shrugged as she let her riffle rest on her shoulder. "Wouldn't want to spook all those lab-coats."

"I still think we should just kill them all for bringing Rachni back, even if they're about the only things capable of actually giving a Krogan a real fight." Wrex continue to grumble with greet displeasured mostly at what the Rachni represent for his species than the insect-like aliens themselves.

A reminder of his people being used and then castrated.

"I don't mean this in a bad way Liara, but any other Asari down there is almost guaranteed to be on Benezia's side." Garrus pointed out.

"No offense taken. It is likely wise to consider any Asari to at least be a potential threat at the moment. We cannot know who could be a commando in disguise." She agreed, even if her heart indicated sadness at her people following the dark path her mother seemed to be on.

"Answers will be found this day Liara." I… reassured her as I believed Dr. Chakwas would advise. "Whether those answers be acceptable to you or not, remember those who care for you. They will help you support weights you would deem impossible and ensure you came out stronger for it."

"Thank you, Neo." She appreciatively nodded, her body language shifting from remorse to readiness.

This change was well timed as we had arrived to our first group of sentients since reaching Peak 15, 4 relatively well armed men nervously aiming their riffles at us from behind a makeshift barricade.

The four were weary, nervous, fearful, with twitching eyes and fingers. Looking at the older man in the center for orders.

Lack of rest indicates at least steady flow of attacks and possibly low number of defenders.

Weapon, armor and shield status shows significant usage. Damaged portions show close calls with bodily language and stance indicating trauma against charging enemies which could be used to easily incapacitate or eliminate two of the guards. Due to location, unlikely to have additional supplies for offensive, defensive or medical situations, although surviving Binary Helix members might be capable of using available materials to assist.

Location of defenses shows Rachni are unable to penetrate further, possibly due to layout or automated defenses. Nearby vents display signs of corrosion and claw-like damage, signifying frequent point of entry and why this location was chosen. Further information regarding surviving staff and security measures necessary.

"Stand down." The man in charge of this barricade ordered his men, causing them to lower their weapons.

No immediately hostile impressions.

Relief.

'Ah, he believes more humanoid sentients would help when they are obviously heavily armed, armored and made it through the Rachni.' I understood before feeling the familiar madness of a Rachni Warrior approaching from the already damaged vent.

Not caring much, I primed an Incendiary and High Explosive grenade, threw them in the vent as the guards looked on in disbelief.

"Liara, please contain the blast." I requested our most biotically skilled member, shaking her out of her stupor as she did exactly that.

Moments later, a somewhat muffled explosion was heard followed by a death shriek and some flames spilling out of the vent held by her biotic field.

The Commander raised an eyebrow as both amusement and approval came through from my actions, especially due to the subtle intimidation factor it built for our squad thanks to the casual manner we had just eliminated a threat with.

"W-well, it looks like you can yourselves." The older human male spoke, successfully intimidated. "And you're at least all people, so we won't be shooting you at least."

"Like you pijaks would stand a chance." Wrex scoffed disdainfully.

"Regardless, I still need to know who you are." The man pressed on, attempting to ignore our Krogan teammate's bloodlust for those related to this situation.

"I'm Commander Shepard, Council Spectre." Shepard succinctly answered.

"Huh, won't look a heavily armed gift horse in the mouth." The man sighed, although recognition and betrayal waved off of him subtly. "I'm Captain Ventralis, the one in charge of keeping everyone alive ever since those aliens overran the Hot Labs a week ago.

Only one of those working there even got out, a volus named Han Olar and he ain't all there anymore.

We only knew about it when those things broke into my command center… we had a lot more staff back then."

"Do you know how they broke out?" The Commander questioned, avoiding any questions which would hint at our own knowledge of the situation.

"Not a clue in hell." Was the frustrated answer. "The Board did send some important Asari to clean up the mess. She went down there yesterday and hasn't come out since."

"We'll do what we can to make sure all of you can make it back home." Shepard reassured charismatically. "Do you know anyway we can get to the Asari? Maybe help them resolve the situation if they're still alive?"

"Yeah. There's an emergency elevator near the Trams. This key card will help you activate it." Captain Ventralis reveled, passing the card over. "It can take you down to the Hot Labs."

"This'll help, thank you." The Commander tactfully responded. "Is there anything you could tell us about Rift Station before we go?"

"Like what? There's a lot to know and I can't talk about everything either." Was the mildly defensive response.

"Mostly how safe you all are. It's impressive to weather a week of assault after all." She queried, probing the male ego as she subtly shifted her body language.

"Only the best get assigned to high-security facilities like these," The Captain bragged, "but there is also something to be said for the turrets, alarms and cameras routed through a central location near the Quarantine Labs.

One guy can lockdown the whole facility and we'd cover the way there in turrets."

Fascinating how loose the mouths of males become before attractive females.

A man clearly not our real ally revealing the set up for their security so easily.

And if we could access the area, we could gain control over much of the facility itself while gaining an edge against implanted agents and our enemies.

"That's good. If anything goes wrong it'll be a good place to fall back to." Shepard approved with a nod. "We'll go see if we can help any of the survivors before moving on, but thank you for your assistance Captain."

"Our pleasure Commander." He responded grimly. "Especially if you can get this nightmare over with."

Moving beyond the barricade, we passed an empty area with some disabled terminals.

"He was good at mixing lies in the truth." Garrus commented now that we were away from the Captain and his men.

"If Chuckles hadn't let us know, we'd have totally went into the infested Hot Labs because of him." Ashley agreed with a frown.

"But at least we have an easy way to get there if we need to now." Shepard rationalized the benefits of the talks before grinning. "Beside, I'm more interested in what our tech oriented members could do with control of their security."

"Access will be shared between all Squad member Omni-Tools, in case the area was locked down." I informed with a few commands to send my own Administrator level access. "Although I would advise removing the Rachni from the Hot Labs regardless of Captain Ventralis' intentions.

They represent a clear risk and would be a…wild card whilst dealing with forces allied with Matriarch Benezia and her own considerable might."

"Neo does have a point. Plus leaving them here would just be asking for trouble. We already know somethings not right with them and with Binary Helix obviously trying to weaponize them, well it would be smart not to leave them anything to try and clone later," Garrus supported with a distaste for scientist I shared.

"Just let me and the kid do it." Wrex spoke up with a smacking of my shoulder in a way I believe showed fondness. "We go kill bugs, set off a bomb and deal with those pijaks when their little 'trap' fails, while you squishies go mess with the eggheads."

"I say let them. We might get more people talking without our two giants with big guns." Ashley simplified with a shrug. "I'll even stay back here as back up if they need or so we can ambush those guys if needed."

"Fine. But nothing stupid." Shepard agreed with some reluctance. "Get in, get the Neutron Purge going and get out.

I will not accept two idiots getting killed by a bomb they set off."

"Understood Commander." I saluted.

"Hehehe. Don't you worry. I'll bring back the kid." My Krogan partner unhelpfully assured the skeptical Commander, but we did part ways.

It was simply logical.

Myself and Wrex were the only two strong and durable enough to face large groups of Rachni without significant risks, plus we could escape by powering through them if needed. Having a third member, beyond Shepard, would slow us down and pose significant risks to ourselves and said member. We simply needed to input the activation code to the Mira terminal within the Hot Labs and leave, killing any Rachni who gets in our way, not a complicated assignment, only dangerous for those without Krogan toughness.

Acquiring said activation codes was not difficult as Mira had them in her database, meaning I had them. Something Captain Ventralis conveniently left out of the information he had given us, even when he was one of those with said codes as Head of Security for this facility.

Although still somewhat uncomfortable, Shepard was willing to trust us to handle ourselves and fulfill our assignment as she led the remaining members of the team further in to hopefully find a way to the Matriarch not involving too much death and destruction. I handed over a few explosives to Ashley to assist her in taking down Captain Ventralis and his men, should it become necessary.

To increase our chances, I decided to use my stealth capabilities to shadow Wrex as we passed the man, giving him false information to use in case he decides to attempt taking down Wrex due to him being 'alone'. At the same time, I hacked into their Omni-Tools to sabotage their combat and support programs, introducing my own by utilizing my full access of all Binary Helix systems in this facility, which includes Omni-Tools supplied by them, as the Krogan waited for the elevator.

Swiftly and silently joining him, successful in my efforts thanks to an overwhelming superiority in hardware, programming and authority, I then sent Ashley the codes to activate my…surprise as we summoned the Hot Lab elevator using the Captain's key card.

I could not ignore the possibility of her being overwhelmed should they decide to rush her. Assuring victory through any means was more than justified to guarantee the safety of my comrades.

"What d'you do to them when you cloaked?" Wrex asked out of curiosity.

"Scrambled their Omni-Tools and left a trap in them." I revealed easily as the Krogan grinned somewhat viciously.

"If they try to take us on, don't activate that trap. I want them to realize how badly they screwed the Varren when I kill them." He requested savagely, to which I had issues agreeing.

They would work for a company attempting to create an army from a species which nearly brought the Galaxy to its knees and create biological weapons which any cruel or corrupt force would drool over. On top of this, they accept orders to kill a Spectre from a woman revealed to be associated with a Rogue Spectre.

None of that would inspire mercy in me.

Arriving at the Hot Labs, what we found was odd.

A near empty room with only a scientist sitting on a singular chair.

Fear.

Resignation.

Guilt.

Broken will.

His tense body, constant eye movements, rocking motions, all indicators of heavily impacted mental stability.

Horrors witnessed, personal actions resulting in tragedy.

"Who're you?" Wrex questioned brusquely.

"I am Dr. Tartakovsky. Are you here to secure the situation?" The middle aged man with short greying black hair, round face and somewhat stocky physique answered with a mix of lucidity and madness which could only be found in those wishing for death.

Survivors Guilt.

"We're exterminators here to take care of your bug problem." Wrex grinned in an attempt to scare the man.

"Please leave the Hot Labs Dr. Tartakovsky. We shall be initiating the Neutron Purge soon and the Rachni will no doubt become active." I sternly advised the man.

"You have the code?" He asked, surprised.

"Indeed. Please depart and join with other survivors. We will not be responsible for your safety otherwise as I personally find what you and Binary Helix have done to be abhorrent and the consequences karmically fitting." I honestly told the man with little to no emotions leaking through. "Wrex, Rachni Warrior from the vent in the corner."

Without hesitating, the red Krogan Battlemaster excitedly rushed forward as the Rachni silently crawled out, blasting its face with his shotgun as he crushed and then ripped off a tentacle, [Charged] it against the wall and then proceeded to repeatedly stomp and shot it till death.

"Now Doctor. Vacate the Hot Labs." I neutrally ordered the dazed scientist, making him slowly do so without taking his eyes of my Krogan friend.

It was a slight waste of time as I could feel the dozens of writhing Rachni all around this part of Rift Station, but…I believe this is what Jane would have desired and wished for me to do even if my personal beliefs engendered negativity towards a man of his profession. She would chose to save a life over her personal distaste because it was…the 'right' thing to do.

For now, I would endeavor to follow her lead in order to understand her path. Time will tell if it is suitable for me.

I made sure to summon the elevator down to have our exit prepared should the situation turn disadvantageous, ignoring Wrex's grumbling before we moved on.

Approaching the Mira terminal further in, she appeared anew.

"Connecting. I have full access to the facility, and am at your disposal." Mira announced.

"Activate the Neutron Purge." I immediately ordered knowing this terminal would not have any useful information.

"I am sorry, but I cannot do that without proper code authorization." She responded as per her programming.

"Code input: 875-020-079. Code Omega local execution." I articulated easily.

"Verified. Code Omega execution in 120 seconds." Mira confirmed, triggering an immediate upsurge in Rachni activity as the countdown began.

"Rachni on the move. We must get to the elevator." I informed Wrex, activating my Omni-Blade, [Tech Armor] and drawing my Eviscerator.

"Heh! Let's show them how real warriors fight!" He enthusiastically roared out as he wrapped himself in biotic energy and readied his Claymore with Incendiary ammunition.

Rushing out the door leading back to the elevator, we were greeted by a near dozen Rachni Warriors accompanied by more Workers.

Before Wrex could rush ahead, [Incinerate] and [Cryo Blast] were sent out, incapacitating and hampering a few warriors while killing nearby Workers.

"Not fair kid!" Wrex complained as used his biotics to actually catapult himself in the middle of the stunned Rachni who had been burnt, using a sort of combination between the [Push] and [Charge] abilities to cause a concussive shockwave at his point of impact, which just so happened to be a now squash Warrior.

Following his display, he masterfully blasted his next target while knocking away a set of spear-tipped tentacles before [Charging] the offender.

Not wanting to be left out, I released a set of High Explosive grenades, kicking them over an approaching group as I ended a charging Warrior to my left, killing it with my blade as I shot said grenades to cause their explosion at the optimal moment to splatter two other Rachni.

More crawled out of the any opening they could now that hostiles had been located in their 'nesting' area, but Wrex and I steadily made our way to the elevator, piling up bodies as we went.

Or their remains anyway.

I kept the smaller annoyances away from us with liberal use of my combat programs, using crowd control settings over focused ones, while Wrex made sure anything too close only made it further as chunks.

Just letting go in front of a continuous flow of ennemies like this was…satisfying.

Allowing my body to act with maximum lethality and efficiency. Optimizing my methods and skills for this kind of combat. Savoring the synchronized actions between myself and Wrex as we decimated Rachni with ease.

Words were difficult to find for the feelings coursing through me.

Noticing the countdown nearing the final 20 seconds as we killed our 34th Warrior, I signaled Wrex to finally enter the elevator behind us, keeping any Rachni from reaching it as the doors closed and we left the blast zone.

Just in time to feel the subtle shakes of the Purge and the sudden lack of chaos which sobered me to what had just happened.

"*Sigh* That was fun kid." Wrex pleasantly said with a true smile on his scarred face. "You've definitely got a true Krogan in you.

Looking forward to the next time we get to fight like that."

"It was…magnificent." I admitted with a minor smile forming even as I attempt to ignore the current 'silence' I was now experiencing.

It had to be done and I would not deny myself the…joy I had felt in unbridled combat.

Now it was time to see Captain Ventralis' reaction and what the Commander has managed to achieve in our short time apart.

My guess would be more than us somehow.

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AUTHOR NOTES:

A bit longer than I'm trying to keep this fics chapters at, but I'm trying to power through this so we can get to Benezia and then off of Noveria.

I tried to have a bit of everything here: Neo thinking ahead and taking every opportunity he can, fighting smart but also savagely if needed, dialogue that has minor changes due to his presence and some more divide and conquer approaches due to this being a six-man party.

Also, dunno why I feel like Ashley would have many snappy responses and Wrex would treat her like a little brat, but that's apparently the vibe I'm going with. I know I've had him talk and comment a lot, but this is a time where he is more aggressive and irritated because of Rachni, hence why. Him not being afraid to say what he thinks also adds to why he gets those.

Aside from that, a bit more bonding between Wrex and Neo as my Hybrid becomes more appreciative of combat.

So next time we've got Benezia as I skip past the less fun aspects of Noveria. Gonna try and make that interesting.

Hope you enjoyed.