May 18, 2021 3:35 AM
Theodora Ndikima Terentin, savior of the galaxy
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It'd be funny, though.

She decided a little while ago that she'll be taking Zanna, Garrus, and Warhead. She wants Halliwell, given that he's actually Alliance like her, but he's been through a lot, and he's a baby who needs his rest. Sal is also baby, and she wants Saint-Martin to at least think that she thinks he's baby. And to get acclimated to the Normandy. The explanation that the sergeant gets is different.

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The sergeant doesn't question this explanation!

"I call shotgun," Zanna says immediately upon beholding the Mako.

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"We've all got shotguns. What's so special about yours?"

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"It's a human thing. Shotgun means sitting up front. They like sitting up front."

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"Aw. I like sitting up front, too."

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"I do not have a shotgun," Terentin reminds them as she flicks various piloting switches at the helm. The urge to just list the specs of her shiny new sniper rifle is wholly sublimated into the task.

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"Yeah, but you're driving. You don't have to say shit."

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The Mako will drop from a height of fifty meters at the nearest landing zone to the dig site, which happens to be a few klicks away. "Sorry, Commander," Joker says, "the terrain around here is pretty rough. Volcanoes, you know, they're inconsiderate that way. Speaking of which, try not to get caught in an eruption. It'd look cool, but it's hell on the insurance."

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Terentin considers several witty remarks before remembering that she's talking to Joker, who deserves none of them. "Noted."

The Mako drops like a particularly vehicular stone as Teddy and Zanna contemplate the weird number of dig sites they're encountering this week. Like, it's just two, but that's two more than usual.

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They hit the ground in a wide field of basalt. The digsite is through a narrow pass in the mountain range otherwise surrounding the area. The sky is full of ash, and some of the mountains are flowing with lava streams.

"Cozy," Zanna observes.

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Bounce.

Terentin's driving is effective but does not give any illusions of safety. Braking occurs exactly when it needs to in order to avoid plunging headlong into a lava cascade. It's fine.

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They run into a patrol of geth pretty soon.

Zanna takes over the artillery controls with as much grace and precision as a 155mm mass accelerator cannon warrants. Which is to say she blasts them into powder.

"Fuck yes," she says.

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Geth powder: good for traction!

"That bodes poorly." But she matches Zanna's smile as she floors it.

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"Honestly, doesn't bode all that poorly. They had to go dark for some reason; better geth than a thresher maw nest."

They run into some more geth along the way, most of which explode at the gentle caress of the mass accelerator cannon but a few of which survive long enough to crunch satisfyingly underwheel. But the pass is narrowing, and they're about half a klick from the mine that the archaeological team was occupying when the path between the cliffs goes abruptly from "wide enough for a small tank" to "not that".

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"I think you're betraying a lack of long-term thinking there, Shi."

If small tanks can't fit then maybe Warhead will have to stay behind as they head out on foot. It is so much worse on this planet from this perspective. Ash is awful, although not quite as bad as lava. Who designed this place.

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"You ever fought a thresher maw, boss? I'd say they're worse news than just about anything except a bigger thresher maw."

She can in fact fit, though she might not want to swing her hammer too vigorously.

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Let's make sure the expensive military ATV is locked up. And that Zanna doesn't spend too much time fucking around with molten rock flows.

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Fortunately, the valley itself contains no geth. Nor does it contain any active lava flows. It's kind of a boring valley.

When they emerge from the valley at the entrance to the mine, however, there are a lot of geth, which turn their flashlight heads towards the party in creepy unison. Garrus slips behind a boulder, unholstering his sniper rifle in one smooth motion.

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The Commander is off like a shot. Can't let the biotic rockets she has for squadmates today make her look slow.

She slips behind the lines the geth are forming up into. She's great at picking her spot, somehow pivoting around single geth so that all of its buddies are on the other side. Disruptive pulse to the back, clang with the scrap monster she calls an omni-blade, slip away, repeat. How are the rockets?

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Zanna is flashing between targets like chain lightning, spinning and slashing and blasting like a maniac.

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Warhead has engaged a geth platform almost her own size, and is currently grappling with it while occasionally letting off a telekinetic burst or an electric shock to disrupt it. It's sturdy as hell, though, and it's giving her a fight.

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Garrus shoots it in the head, freeing Warhead up to lay about with her hammer.

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Terentin finds herself in the unenviable position of having KO'd all of the geth within easy reach. And a squadful of more distal robots have turned to drawn beads on her. There's an upper limit to how many targets you can shoot with one pistol in an instant, as galling as it is to admit. So, step 1, she kneels behind some dubious cover, geth fire colliding with her shield.

The whites of her eyes are visible from orbit as they flick calculatingly from geth to geth. Step 2. The new omnitool whines warningly because about a dozen of its safety features, the ones kept intact for good reasons, fall to merciless task management. And then, reluctantly, vent power begins to build in places which it was not intended to collect.

The Commander swipes out jerkily at the air with the blade, in a pattern fed to her by a bent and inverted weather forecaster. Arcs of white electricity gain courage enough to flicker out over her sword-arm, forcing her active camouflage to flicker in concert. Parts of the Commander's body appear momentarily to be made only of lightning. Her omni spits out a tiny, smoking, unstable pellet of the same carbon-black steel as her sword, cometing past geth, shedding microflakes, dissipating.

Then there's a loud crack. It's very unlike the rumbling, distant thunder you get on Therum. A few geth explode as the rest in the path are washed out in an electrical storm. Garrus is perhaps uncomfortably close to its limit, and if he had hair it would stand on end.

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Fortunately he doesn't have hair! There are a couple of sparks on his biometallic scales, though. Also, the geth are all dead.

"Spirits, Terentin! Warn somebody next time, huh?"

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"Takes too long!" Her own hair would be vertical if it wasn't in tight, heavy braids, and under a helmet besides. As it stands, her heart is at the moment taking a little bit of a break, which is doing interesting things to her general body turgidity. She's lucky she's leaning against a chest-high bluff, falling over would be embarrassing. Her camouflage still occasionally fires without permission, although she's happy to note that the only thing broken about her omni is the warranty.

"Anyone hurt?" she asks as her heartbeat finally kicks back on, belatedly.

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