Rodriguez

It had been like a firestorm when they came down. They had looked like giant insects, pincers stretched out to take what they descended on. Only instead of flowers, The Reapers took buildings. Districts. Cities. They stood as high as a skyscraper, some even higher than that, and when their maw opened up a giant beam of red death would lance out to hit whatever it had been aiming at, be that evacuee shuttle or Alliance tank. Bullets couldn’t touch them, cannons barely slowed them down. The Alliance was putting up a good front for the evacuation but… it wouldn’t last.

The Reapers were a race of advanced synthetic beings, machines, and their apparent goal was the destruction of all advanced sentient life. A human Spectre, or Citadel agent, named Shepard had warned of their coming attack months earlier… the Alliance hadn’t listened. So when the Reapers finally arrived it was a complete surprise. The machines, ranging in size from the one hundred and sixty meter tall Destroyers to the one and a quarter mile tall Sovereign-class Reapers, had ripped through Alliance defenses on their way to Earth.

Rodriguez had been assigned to the Alliance HQ in London when the attack hit. Recently promoted, he had liked the sound of “Major Rodriguez” and had gladly taken the job of guarding some of the top brass in the entire Systems Alliance. At only thirty two years old, the rank was quite a surprise, and the assignment gave him some time to rest and recover from the dangerous encounters with the Collectors he had been in, the same encounters that had gotten him his promotion. At least, the job was cushy until a giant Reaper laser had cut through the grandiose building, nearly bisecting the entire monolith and leaving many of the Alliance command on Earth dead or cut off from all other communication.

Rodriguez grunted as he leaned back against a piece of burnt rubble. A structural support beam had saved his ass, falling in such a way that it kept other collapsing parts of the building off of him until he got to safety. That “safety” had been a squad of Alliance soldiers, like him, who had found their way down to the relatively intact part of the building to regroup and plan a counter attack against the Reaper forces. Unfortunately they had barely made it out of the building before they were assaulted by a group of Husks and Cannibals in the HQ courtyard. Taken by surprise they had fought them off, slowly giving ground until only one of them was left. That one was Rodriguez, and now they had backed him into a corner with no way out.

When his squad startled to thin they had made their way to a hill made from falling debris off of the building. It had given them good cover, but it also gave them no way to escape. He leaned to the side to see around the makeshift cover he was hiding behind. There were a few Husks coming up the hill, and it looked like there were Cannibals too, just setting up shop at the base of the hill. Three more… could his ammo handle that? He didn’t know, but he still stood up and shot at the approaching Husks anyway, blowing the reanimated corpses backward and buying him a little more precious time to live. Rodriguez needed time; reinforcements were coming across the river but they were still a few minutes off. He had to distract the few Cannibals in the time he had left.

He took out his Alliance M-5 Phalanx Pistol and took a shot at one of the Cannibals to the left of the group. It went down, and all the others turned immediately to start devouring it. Hence their name Cannibals did that, they would cannibalize their own dead troops and then somehow graft pieces of the dead Cannibal’s armor onto their own, fortifying them in combat. It made them a particularly nasty enemy to fight against, but right now it served him well as a distraction.

As soon as he saw the Cannibals turn Rodriguez sprinted out of cover, crossing the small no-man’s land to get to another piece of cover. By then the Cannibals had finished their snack, and he took shots at a couple of their heads in order to keep them back. Cannibals were Reaper mutated versions of Batarians, and that meant they were medium sized, hulking monsters with four blue eyes and an assault rifle grafted onto their right arm. All Reaper forces were mutated versions of their foes- the more people that died fighting them, the more their army grew. Although, Rodriguez thought looking around at the devastation, it didn’t look like they really needed the help.

When the Reapers had attacked Earth the hulking skyscraper sized machines descended straight down to the surface, blowing away any ships they encountered on their way down and leaving part of their forces in orbit to fight off the Alliance ships stationed there for defense. Once landed the Reapers opened the middle section of their bodies, opening fire with devastating lasers that could cut through warships and buildings alike. While the Alliance scrambled to combat this threat, the Reapers landed their ground forces- various mutated versions of Citadel species, including humans, and used them to attack the population and root out the army ground forces. This deadly combination had proven too much for the Alliance defense so far, and they were losing ground and the Reapers destroyed more and more of London. Rodriguez had heard that other cities around the world were under attack as well, though he didn’t know how those attacks were going.

While he was thinking about the situation one of the Cannibals took a shot at him. The bullet passed right by Rodriguez’s face, and he could feel the heat in the area the kinetic projectile had passed through. If the reinforcements didn’t get here soon then he would be in trouble. Just as he thought this he heard a rumble, and an armored tank came out of nowhere to flatten two of the Cannibals attacking him. The heavy cannon on top made fast work of the others, and a hatch on the side popped open. “Come on!” One of the Alliance soldiers in the tank called out to him, “We have to move! That Reaper’s headed this way!” Rodriguez looked over at the Reaper he was talking about, then ran over to the tank, stopping only to take the dog tags of a soldier who had died with him earlier. He took the proffered hand and entered the vehicle, the hatch snapping closed behind him as he did.

“Who’s your commanding officer?” Rodriguez asked the soldier who had called out to him earlier. As he did he noticed the scorch marks on the soldier’s armor, and the other beleaguered looking soldiers in the tank.

The soldier finished securing the hatch, then turned to Rodriguez and saluted, “Admiral Anderson sir. We’re to make it to the rendezvous coordinates as soon as possible. Direct orders from the Admiral sir, it looks like we’re to establish a resistance against the Reapers here on Earth.”

“A resistance?” Said the tired major in shock. He never thought Hackett would order the fleet to leave Earth, it couldn’t be true, “The Fourth Fleet is retreating?” The Fourth Fleet had been on station orbiting Earth when the Reapers attacked, their ships were the first to encounter the Reapers when they approached Earth “What about Arcturus Station, aren’t they sending reinforcements to help us?” Arcturus Station was the base for Alliance leadership and parliament and guarded the main relay to the Sol system and Earth. The Second,  Third, and Fifth Fleets had been on station there last Rodriguez had heard, during the reports previously that morning.

The soldier responded in clipped tones, face hidden behind his Systems Alliance helmet, “Arcturus Station was hit before the Reapers got here sir. Admiral Hackett had to abandon it, and he had to sacrifice the Second Fleet to give the Third and Fifth time to retreat, and… Sir, the Fourth Fleet is gone.”

Rodriguez wearily motioned to the soldier to be at ease, and then slumped down into a side seat in shock. The Fourth Fleet was gone. All those Alliance ships wiped out in a matter of hours. This couldn’t be happening, it was a disaster. What could they do if the entire Alliance Navy couldn’t beat the Reapers? The other races weren’t likely to help them out; they would probably end up having problems of their own. He put his hands over his face. What were they going to do?

“I hear that Shepard is heading off to the Citadel to get help,” The soldier said, checking the ammo counter on his M-8 Avenger assault rifle and sitting down in a side seat as well, “With the Turians to help us, we might be able to fight the Reapers off.”

Shepard had been humanity’s first Spectre for the Citadel council. He had been that good of a soldier, and everybody looked up to him. He had also been the first one to recognize the Reaper threat, and act on it, thwarting a Reaper named Sovereign’s plan to bring the invasion force through the Citadel. The Citadel was a massive space station populated by all species and was vastly considered to be the effective center of galactic commerce. After Shepard had stopped Sovereign however his ship had been taken out by Collectors- the race of arachnids that had turned out to be serving the Reapers. Rodriguez had fought them too, defending a colony out on the fringes of human space. After his ship was destroyed Shepard had been revived by Cerberus, a human extremist group. He had worked with them to combat and eventually defeat the Collectors, destroying a human Reaper-in-progress and stalling the Reaper invasion even further. Now he was on his way to the Citadel to try and raise support for humanity.

Rodriguez shook his head. There was no way that the council would help them out. Nonetheless, it was better than nothing he supposed, and as he stood up he looked around the interior of the tank, taking in the four battered Alliance soldiers and the driver up in front. “Where is the rendezvous point?” Rodriguez asked the soldier he had talked to before, turning to look at him, “Is it at a police base?” Police bases were heavily fortified on every Alliance world or colony, and that applied even more so for Earth. It would make sense if they used them as a base for the resistance.

The tank rocked and Rodriguez heard a Reaper fire near them before the soldier could respond, then after the tank settled into a relatively smooth drive again the soldier replied, “We were using them sir, but then the Reapers sent one of themselves to wipe out each one personally. There’s pretty much nothing left of any of them.” The soldier slipped a new clip into his AR, checking to make sure it was functioning, “So, we switched to an old convention center that had a large amount of underground levels to it. The above floors were decimated early on in the assault, but the Reapers didn’t pay any attention to it after what was above ground was gone.” he nodded to the other soldiers in the tank, “We were one of the teams dispatched on recovery duty to try and retrieve any Alliance personnel that were scattered during the fallout from the Reaper attack, especially around the former HQ. We are supposed to give priority to high ranking personnel- that was why we saved you Major as opposed to others. My team is also supposed to get you right back to temporary HQ as soon as you were recovered. That’s why we’re heading there now.”

“Incoming!” the driver screamed, just as a nearby Reaper fried a path through the buildings they had been driving between. The beam narrowly missed them, but Rodriguez could feel the heat from the beam even through the tank’s armored exterior. “It’s moving!” the driver called out , swerving them to the left around another ruined building, “Hold on!” They accelerated and eventually the approaching Reaper was lost in the distance, directing its destructive attentions to something else in the city.

Rodriguez walked up to the front of the tank, looking out through the windscreen at the devastation all around them. Everywhere there was something burning, black and gray smoke billowing up into the sky. Faintly he could hear screams off in the distance, and surpassing it all was the sound of the Reapers firing their red weapons of death, cutting furrowed rows out of buildings or catching a lingering escaping shuttle flying away, blowing it out of the sky. The sky that was red and black, reflecting the red haze that hovered everywhere the Reapers shot at for minutes at a time. The black was from the smoke constantly rising up from all parts of the city. The result was a picture perfect visage of what hell looked like, and Rodriguez did not like seeing it.

Anderson

The Alliance tank rumbled towards the hollowed out convention center. Rodriguez could see where a Reaper’s beam had burned through the supports and part of the wall, causing most of the building to collapse most likely within seconds of the attack. They passed the first Alliance checkpoint , lodged between two fallen buildings leading on the way to the center. They passed right through, then passed over some debris leading into an underground parking garage. The sight there gave Rodriguez hope. He could see other tanks, lining the walls of the garage. There were men in uniforms everywhere, and dozens of Alliance soldiers. “This is only one level, there are many more,” the soldier Rodriguez had talked to before said, coming up behind him, “Come on, we have to get to Admiral Anderson.” They climbed out of the tank and made their way over to an elevator. The soldier pressed one of the buttons, sending them down to the next level.

When the doors opened Rodriguez stepped into a room that contained about a dozen technicians seemingly getting a comm array set up. Overlooking them was a grim-faced middle-aged man wearing the silver spread eagle insignia of a Colonel on his lapel. Rodriguez saluted. He turned to look at them, sizing Rodriguez up and taking in his ragged uniform, hastily strapped on body armor, and sidearm. “At ease,” he said, shaking hands with Rodriguez, “It’s nice to see another Army man here. My name is Colonel Hendry. I am coordinating things with Admiral Anderson for the resistance in this sector,” he shook his head, adjusting the cap he wore with one hand and made a gesture with the other, taking in the entire complex, “This is everything that we have gathered so far. Men, equipment, supplies. We are coordinating with some teams in the city but this is it for the time being.”

He continued, turning and continuing on toward the back of the room. “The Reapers have done a number on our forces. We have precious few drop ships left, and naval support has been decimated,” he waved Rodriguez into the room, “These are dark times Major. It is good to have you.” They then entered the room, with the soldier that had escorted Rodriguez in staying outside to guard the door. The room was small, obviously made for storage or some similar reason, but they had outfitted it with a series of military electronics vital for command. A quantum entanglement communicator was there, which enabled virtual face-to-face conversation with almost anywhere in the galaxy with a similar device. Rodriguez was impressed, this would allow them to coordinate with Alliance command, or what was left of it. Standing in front of the equipment was a man in his forties, maybe fifties, wearing an Alliance uniform under a set of body armor. “Yes sir,” the man said to the communicator, “I understand. Anderson out.” He turned to the pair saluting behind him, “Hello Major Rodriguez,” he said, “I am Admiral Anderson.”

David Edward Anderson was something of a legend among Alliance personnel. Chosen initially for humanity’s representative in the Spectre program, he regrettably was turned down after mission with the traitor Spectre Saren Arterius. The Spectre was to work alongside Anderson and evaluate his performance, but he falsely blamed Anderson for risks he took during the mission in order to acquire a set of research notes on the Reapers. Later he was considered for a position on the Citadel Council, once again the first time ever that a human was considered for the position, but turned it down. He was also known to have worked closely with Commander Shepard during his ventures, and had supported him when he was fighting the Collectors. Now he was here, leading the resistance against the Reapers.

“Welcome to the fight Major,” he said, shaking Rodriguez’s hand and turning back to the military console, “We have to get you up to speed. There is a general debriefing in an hour, and I want you to be there, for it will involve you quite heavily.” He finished with the console, and a 3D image appeared of some kind of large machine, designed with a spherical object attached to a long series of extensions only stretching in one direction. “So that’s what it looks like,” Anderson said, just as one of the Alliance technicians burst into the room. “The Reapers have breached the base,” he said, Admiral you have to get up top!”

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About Dominic Ricci

Dominic has worked in the industry as both a producer and designer, absorbing many skill sets and branching out as much as he can with his experience to be as competitive as possible. He feels video games are the premier medium for thoughts and expressions in the world, and he wants to help make those experiences as successful as possible. Outside of work, health and fitness are also passions that Dominic holds, and nothing is more fun than going to the gym and then crashing at home to play a game with some friends.
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