This is the next update for my Mass Effect 3 fanfiction Rodriguez. Pages 1-4 can be read on the story’s page to the right > and that is also where the entire story will be updated with whatever edits I make to past pages. The entire story can be read there, so if you have missed any of the story up to this point, that is where you should go. Any updates I post are also added to that page asap.
They immediately scrambled out of the room, Hendry and Anderson shouting orders while Rodriguez fell in with a group of technicians heading up top through the elevator. As Rodriguez entered the elevator, fingering his heavy pistol, Anderson yelled out to him. “Major Rodriguez,” He said, Rodriguez turned to look at the Admiral, “You’re in charge when you get up there. Colonel Hendry and I will coordinate the evacuation of the base from here. We’re sheltering some civilians and we have to get them, and our equipment out as soon as we can. You’ll relay our orders to the men on site,” he tossed Rodriguez a headset communicator, “We’ll relay our orders through this, it is also connected to our main network right now, so you can talk to us as well.” Rodriguez fastened the device to the left slot in his helmet, just above his ear. “Good luck Major.” Anderson said to him. A surprised Rodriguez saluted him just as the elevator doors closed.
As the technicians were checking their weapons and readying their turrets, Rodriguez was fingering the communicator Anderson had given him. Rodriguez didn’t understand how this was possible. He had just arrived at the base ten minutes ago, now they were putting him in command? The Major, for all his rank, had never had a command. He had gone straight from being one of many soldiers stationed on a colony to Major in a day, all because he had managed to survive an attack by the Collectors, saving a few colonists in the process. Point being, he had never made full use of his rank before, and now he was being put in command of some of the last soldiers remaining on Earth. “Rodriguez,” Anderson said, voice buzzing from the communicator near the Major’s ear, “here’s the situation. A Reaper force has penetrated the outside checkpoint and are nearing the parking garage where our forces are. You need to give Hendry and I time to relocate most of our sensitive equipment and personnel to our next base. We need that time Major.” The elevator doors opened and the technicians around the Major began filing out, leaving Anderson to give Rodriguez just a few grim parting words. “Give them hell Major, because that’s what they’ve given us.”
“Yes sir,” the determined Major replied, “Rodriguez out.” Rodriguez exited the elevator as the last of the technicians went past him, headed for the line of soldiers near the garage’s front. The now in-command Major surveyed the area that he would be defending. It was the same garage he had been in before, large and full of people, but now there were only two tanks left in the large space. They were lined up to be used mainly as additional cover, since tank cannon’s were only so useful in such a confined space. About four dozen Alliance soldiers were setting up barricades in front of the large door in the center of the far wall. The parking garage door was just a set of interlocking metal, and wouldn’t stand up to any major assault from Reaper forces. So, the soldiers were setting the barricades up about thirty feet back, leaving them room to maneuver and retreat while still creating a killing zone for Reaper forces that would break through.
Rodriguez walked up to the rough center of the barricades, between the two tanks. The soldiers were checking their weapons, slipping fresh thermal clips in, and setting up behind the barricades. He knew he should say something, so he spoke up, “Men and women of the Systems Alliance, my name is Major Rodriguez. I was posted at HQ when the Reapers hit, and I only just arrived here. Admiral Anderson has put me in charge for this engagement, and I’m sure it will be an honor serving with each and every one of you,” Rodriguez looked around, gauging the effect his words were having on everyone. The helmets made it hard to tell, but he felt no animosity from any of them, “As you were.” he said, then went to a weapons pile and grabbed some clips for his M-8 Avenger rifle. Swinging the weapon from his back he inserted the fresh thermal clips, sliding the rest in his pocket, and walked up to the barricade, crouching down and sliding the familiar weapon comfortably against his shoulder with the silver barrel pointed at the parking garage door.
As the last of the Alliance soldiers finished getting ready, and the turrets the technicians set up were online, all that was left was to wait. That moment stretched forever. The slight brush of armor against armor was all that broke the silence, and everyone’s trigger finger was located on just that place. Everyone was tense until finally someone broke the silence and yelled out, “They are coming!” Suddenly everyone broke the tension, and simply settled into the attitude every soldier acquired right before battle. No one here was green, everyone had fought battles, and now they were relaxed- the kind of relaxed that a cheetah or tiger would be right before it pounced.
The tunnel down to the garage door was sloped, so the soldiers waiting inside the garage could only see a few feet into it before it sloped up. Everyone’s eyes were trained on that spot though, so when a husk ran into the door from the tunnel its body was peppered with bullets from almost every Alliance gun in the area. There was a brief moment of pause as what was left of the husk’s body hit the floor. “Why was there only one Reaper?” Everyone thought, but their concerns were very soon validated as a wave of husks came charging down the tunnel to ram straight into the interlocked metal of the door.
Husks were effectively zombies created by the Reapers from bodies, alive or dead, of humans or other species that opposed them. The bodies were placed on Dragon’s Teeth, spikes that transformed normal specimens of a particular species into zombie-like cybernetic versions of themselves, subservient to the Reapers. Human husks built up an electric charge that was released when they managed to get close enough to their targets, dealing massive damage and usually killing them. Husks fought by swarming positions and overwhelming opposition with sheer numbers. Human husks could not operate weapons but they could climb emplacements or buildings, meaning even raised positions were at risk from attacks by husks. Technically other species converted by the Reapers were husks as well, but due to having different conversion methods and different combat capabilities, the Alliance only officially classified human husks as “Husks” and defined other species’ converted monsters with different names. One instance of this was the cannibals, which were transformed from the batarian race and could operate the weapons grafted onto their arms. Cannibals were therefore a significantly greater threat than human husks in combat, meriting a different designation.
The husks currently smashed up against the door therefore were trying to claw it apart with their bare hands. Their electrical charge wouldn’t do anything to move the door, so they were effectively as worthless as a normal person at bringing it down. With this in mind Rodriguez raised his hand and signaled the soldiers to cease fire at the husks. Firing stopped immediately, and there were clatters around the room as spent thermal clips were ejected and new ones were slipped into their place. They had to be careful and buy time. Shooting through the door too much would cause it to collapse, and since their goal was to buy time, this wouldn’t help the Alliance resistance soldiers one bit. Rodriguez turned back to the door after looking to see that his order had been followed. He saw that the husks were now slowly backing away from the door back into the tunnel.
Getting an ominous feeling, the Major crouched down again and raised his assault rifle. As soon as the last husk was out of sight, the soldiers heard a pounding coming from down the tunnel, like an elephant was moving towards them down the tunnel. That and the vibrations everyone felt in their boots was all the warning they had when an eight foot tall beast came running down the tunnel, ramming into the door to the parking garage and smashing it into fragmented pieces. Shocked, Rodriguez immediately ordered the tanks to open fire, and the whole room shook as the two tanks fired at the beast. As husks began running through the billowing smoke that followed the tank’s barrage, the scared Major could still see the hulking silhouette of the beast behind the attacking once-human husks.
The last he saw before he was beset upon by an attacking husk was the charging forms of three more of the beasts smashing into other positions on the soldiers’ barricade line. Blowing the head off of the husk in front of him the Major hastily turned again to look at the places he had seen the beasts ram into the line. To his horror he saw one of the beasts rip a turret off of its base and throw it at a knot of soldiers, scattering them and crushing two at once. Then the beast that had ripped off the turret turned to look at him. Rodriguez had time to register the intelligence in the thing’s eyes before the full impact of the beast’s appearance hit him. The Major would have called it a mutated krogan, with its dimensions increased and a single arm enlarged to support a gigantic claw, except that the head sticking out of its torso was a turian’s avian and raptor-like face. While all this ran through the embattled soldier’s mind, the krogan-turian hybrid gave a deep roar, and charged him.
One of the Alliance tanks was situated between Rodriguez and the beast, and that was what probably saved him from certain death. Not because the tank finished off the hybrid, but because smashing into the multi-ton tank mid-charge and flipping it a few feet back gave the beast enough pause in its ferocious run that Rodriguez had time to dive behind a barricade, blocking the creature’s view of him for the time being. The Major then shot a husk vaulting the barricade in front of him, and used the respite to see how the the part of the battle on the other side of the garage was going. It was not going well unfortunately. The Alliance line was holding in the areas that the krogan-turian hybrids hadn’t broken through the barricades, but with them supporting the husks the Alliance soldiers didn’t stand a chance in the long term.
“Anderson.” Rodriguez said, turning on his comm, “Do you read me, repeat, Anderson do you read me?” The Major was scanning the garage while he talked, even taking a moment to glance over his barricade and shoot a few husks still exiting the tunnel.
Anderson’s voice came crackling in over the comm, “I read you Major, what’s your status in the garage? We’re evacuating the last of the civilians now, and most of the important equipment has been moved out of the base.”
Hearing Anderson’s voice reassured Rodriguez, and his reply came out calm and collected despite how terrified he was feeling after seeing the hybrids shatter the line. “We’ve been overrun by the Reaper forces, sir. They used a new husk variant to break the line we made to contain the entrance. It seems to be a mix of turian and krogan husks, sir, and it operates like a mobile battering ram,” Rodriguez paused to lick his lips, which he suddenly realized had grown dry at some point, “Sir we have to retreat.” Even as he said this though the Major was seeing fewer and fewer remaining soldiers holding out against the Reaper forces in the parking garage, and he didn’t know how many of them would be able to get out.
Anderson responded without hesitation, “Understood. Give the retreat order and then get back down here through the elevator you went up in. If you are cut off from it then exit with the soldiers. The soldiers will get out through the attached stairwell up to the next floor, then on to our next base. They know what to do, you just have to give them the order.” Anderson paused, and Rodriguez heard someone telling the Admiral something in the background. Then Anderson said curtly, “I’ll see you soon Major, and you have your orders. Anderson out.”
Rodriguez sat behind his cover for a moment more, then burst into a sprint from behind the barricade, keying his communicator to the soldiers’ frequencies as he ran toward the back of the garage. “To all remaining Alliance soldiers, this is Major Rodriguez, I am giving the order to retreat, I repeat, we are pulling out with the rest of the base, get to the next level and make your way to the rendezvous point. Good luck soldiers, Rodriguez out.” Rodriguez shot a few husks heading his way, not stopping, then got to the elevator just in time to see one of the massive beasts smash into the elevator door after a charge, warping it and ruining the Major’s chances of getting to the lower level to evacuate with Anderson.
Quickly Rodriguez considered his remaining options for escape. There was the attached stairwell to the far right of the garage, but it was past most of the Reaper forces including three of the hybrid beasts. The broken elevator that was closer to his right was no longer an option thanks to the beast. There was the front entrance to the parking garage where the Reaper forces came through, but he was fairly sure that there would be more enemy forces and possibly a Reaper waiting for him if he went out that way. Finally the Major noticed another stairwell going downward with an entrance located maybe thirty feet to his left. That might give him a chance to get down to Anderson, or at least to get out of the building for the time being.
A new plan in mind, Rodriguez headed that way, shooting down any husks that got in his way, one managed to get close enough to him to let off its change, but luckily he had managed to dodge the bulk of the electricity. Now, though his movements were a little slowed because of the shock the husk had given him, Rodriguez managed to make his way nearly to the entrance of the stairwell. As he was stepping inside he realized he could feel the floor vibrating in pulses through his boots, and Rodriguez managed to sluggishly turn around in time to see the hybrid charging directly toward him.