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It is said that one ought to learn from their mistakes. That errors committed in the past, provided their consequences were not fatal, should be retained by one's memory as a caution against taking a particular path. This straightforward, intuitive wisdom was obvious and natural enough that youth of any sapient (and not just that) would follow it by sheer instinct.

Some take this copybook heading further, dubbing it a sign of insanity were one to consistently repeat an erroneous course of action in hopes of achieving a different result. Although, in fairness, in a stochastic environment there was always a chance of a fluke, one way or another.

Even so, it was remarkable and more than a little bit sad that an extension of this basic, fundamental wisdom was nowhere as readily apparent to so many: that one ought to also learn from mistakes of others. Not only did this circumvent caveat of the individual learning experience where the mistake ended in death, it also held potential of sparing the student the experience of pain, inconvenience and wasted time. This outlook was not entirely shared by some of your acquaintances who considered amount of endured suffering as proof of character. Well, they can drown their backup neural systems in ryncol if they so choose.

In the meantime, you, Kris of the Tufferson clan, special consultant for the Citadel Institute of Xenoarchaeology and the common sense of its expeditionary crew, shake your head in exasperation as you survey the landscape from hatch of the Tomkah.
The facility was not, at a glance, in a very bad shape at all. It must have avoided any direct fire from the Reapers and it was far away of any population centers enough that it may have even escaped attention of the roving groups of Reaper monstrosities. Yet it remained unclaimed, outside of apparent interest of the Alliance administration or reconstruction teams. This would be partially explained by its absence in official maps of the region. It consisted of several flat, nondescript structures and several generic pieces of modular machinery, functional, rugged, devoid of any corporate branding, surrounding a central building that didn't rise above level of canopy of the jungle that hugged the facility from three sides.

Majority of the main installation was underground. Tomkah's sensors would tell you as much, and you were sure any survey satellite would pick up the signs as well, which made it rather puzzling the facility could remain secret, hinting at either government involvement, corruption or gross negligence. Probably combination of the three. But even assuming only those who took it upon themselves to build and operate such a blacksite were aware of its existence it was no excuse for them to be blind to their folly. It's not like there was a shortage of cautionary tales of developing or studying living weapons with only a veil of secrecy for security in Terran cultural database, from the Dinosaur documentaries to some of the hand drawn 2-dimensional animation human youth used to view for entertainment.

Well, at least they built it somewhere far enough from actual civilization that in the event of an escape the civilians would not be immediately endangered.

"So, still got doubts that this is the source?" Chief Kara asks.

"Well we haven't actually found evidence it is." You temper his smugness. You expressed some concern over how difficult it would be to scour the region for potential points of origin of the engineered beast. You were slightly skeptical when Kara and his aides discussed the matter with the Adventurers and came up with an idea of putting together logs from hunting trips to figure out areas regular wildlife inexplicably avoids. Luckily, the effort bore fruit and you were looking at it. "However," You admit. "It seems most likely. This place reeks of trouble."

"Hrm. Good. I could use some excitement." The older Krogan growls. "Who knows how long will it take before that plan of yours moves from talk to the walk."

"We'll see." You avoid admitting you share the concern. Even though Ford succeeded in bringing quite a colorful coalition on board with his plan, that same fact posed a threat of blocking actual action beyond a wall of formalistic obstructions and petty politics. Well, one thing at a time.
"How does it look then? Coast is clear?" Comes human's voice over the comlink.

Your, or more accurately Chief Kara's, vehicle was first in the convoy of two, the other being a battered civilan construction ATV the adventurers have somehow patched into working condition, although most of the vehicle's utility mass effect assembly has been stripped as too damaged or too valuable to not be used elsewhere. What was left was still a rugged machine capable of carrying people and cargo around. Right now it carried four of the vigilantes that originally set out to put a stop to Kara's expeditions but ultimately found themselves assisting with the hopefully final one.

"Looks deserted." You say, turning your attention back to the facility before you, scanning it vainly for movement. "But in surprisingly good shape. We should be cautious."

"I, I agree. We have no idea how big the population is, or what they perceive as boundary for their hive." One of the vigilantes is heard over the channel. You're not sure why he insisted on coming along in the first place, you doubt he's one of the Adventurers with fighting experience.

"Don't worry, Josh, I'll protect you." Female voice says. Presumably Lucy, the boisterous female. Assertion is followed by a couple of chuckles from remaining two vigilantes.

"Yeah, I don't want to brag," Kara lies through his teeth, "but that creature was not all that frightening compared to Tuchanka's wildlife. We'll be fine as long as nobody starts running all over the place by themselves. Am I being clear enough, Tam?"

You can hear an inarticulate growl from inside the vehicle where the younger of Kara's advisors, Zarka Tam, is manning its weapon systems while the older one, Gatatog Barak, has the wheel.

"Good. Now, what are our options for getting in?" Kara asks.
"This structure looks robust for local standards but flimsy enough for the main gun. We can punch a hole through the wall and use that as entrance." Tam offers.

"No! We don't know how the creatures will respond to such obvious aggression. They could rush to attack-" Josh says

"Good, less work in tracking them down." the younger Krogan interjects.

"-or they could flee and scatter." you finish for the human. "And that would mean more work, hothead."

"How about scouting the perimeter first? That thing didn't look like it used doors to get in or out. There's bound to be another entrance somewhere." Nicholas suggests.

"Doing a thorough search will take a lot of time unless we spread out, and that could be risky for the nerds among us." Kara argues. "Sounds like a waste of time to me."

"Let me just get the main gate open. You brought me for a reason." A new voice, a chipper female one, speaks up, belonging to Gizmo, Nicholas's tech expert the vigilantes brought for the ride.

"There is going to be more than just the gate to deal with if we take the front door." Nicholas points out. "Most obvious access means most hardened systems. Assuming the emergency power works, and if not, we're back to breaking in."

"Alright. One hurdle at a time." Kara reclaims the conversation. "Barak, your take?"

"That we should familiarise ourselves with the ground before entering the den." The old warrior says. "Not only to find alternative approaches but also possible escape routes."

"Already planning to flee, old man?" Tam taunts.

There's a characteristic sound of a forehead plate impacting a face you recall ending many an argument back on Tuchanka, at least for a time. You sigh.

"What about you, nerd?" Kara prompts you for your input.

>Favour the direct approach. Front gate is an obvious point of entry, and with luck will take least effort to open. Even forcing it will be more subtle than blowing up portion of the structure.
>Favour the forceful approach. Blasting open a new entrance is the quickest and simplest solution, although not exactly subtle and damage may be more extensive than you intend it to be...
>Favour the cautious approach. Map the surroundings, maybe you'll find the hive entrance the creatures(?) are using. It may require splitting up to not waste too much time searching though...
>Propose another plan (specify)
A non-comprehensive summary of previous issues:


Previous issues:

First thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3369286/
Subsequent threads:

Once again, apologies for the slowness. I will keep returning as long as there is story to tell and someone to tell it. Although it might take a while.
>>Favour the cautious approach. Map the surroundings, maybe you'll find the hive entrance the creatures(?) are using. It may require splitting up to not waste too much time searching though...

never shake up the hive
>Favour the cautious approach. Map the surroundings, maybe you'll find the hive entrance the creatures(?) are using. It may require splitting up to not waste too much time searching though...
We have the time to use. Any other option would open up the opportunity for them to run.

>>Favour the cautious approach. Map the surroundings, maybe you'll find the hive entrance the creatures(?) are using. It may require splitting up to not waste too much time searching though...

Get the knowledgeable human and his bodyguard on our group, maybe he will have some insight, he seems to have come here because he knows something about the beasts, or wants to know something

Kris is kind of a tech expert right? So the other techie could go with the other group if we can handle infiltrating systems.
"The old man has a point. We don't want to leave the critters an escape route if they decide to hightail it." is your immediate reply. Ultimately, your goal here is to exterminate the creatures, if possible. On top of that, making a sweep will allow you to make sure no surprises will come up behind you once you breach the facility.

You don't like surprises.

"Hrm. Fair enough. I do like the notion of having the field under control."

There's a subdued resigned sigh from Tam.

"B-be advised, though, that the creatures will fight with greater desperation if cornered." Josh comes in over the comm.

"Getting cold feet?" Kara asks.

"No! It... it must be done."

"Good. Alright, then. Let's get to it and split up to cover more ground. Get back in here, nerd. Or you wanna switch cars?"

That was a good question, actually. Kara and his lieutenants are experienced fighters, and should have little trouble fending for themselves in any concievable situation, but maybe could use your help in not getting to a fucked up situation to begin with. Meanwhile, Nicholas's crew, while also veterans of the Reaper crisis, seem to be more careful in their approach but you're not sure how well they are prepared to face the engineered creatures.

The hermit certainly seemed to underestimate it earlier.

Then again, everyone present, with possible exception of this "Josh" character (and, for the most part, yourself), was guaranteed to have faced Reaper terrors in personal combat. Creating an additional team or two to scour the area on foot might be viable, too.

>Stay with the Krogan in Tomkah. They may need to have a voice of reason with them and Barak's may not always be it.
>Migrate to the vigilante ATV. They may need your support and will probably offer more interesting conversation.
>Oppose splitting up. The two vehicles making the sweep in tandem will be slower
>Suggest alternate pattern of who goes where and who goes on foot. At least one person needs to remain in a vehicle to operate it, preferably two so one can drive while the other sees to the instruments.

(You have two vehicles, Krogan Tomkah with a gun and a basic sensor suite, and the vigilante ATV which is unarmed but has a survey sensor suite to help in construction works.)
Yourself, Tufferson Kris, Vanguard with a shotgun.
Bant Kara, Fighter with an assault rifle and a shotgun
Zarka Tam, Vanguard with a shotgun
Gatatog Barak, Fighter with an assault rifle and a Widow sniper rifle
Nicholas Laish, Sentinel with an assault rifle
Lucy Nowicki, vanguard with a shotgun and a pistol
Rachel "Gizmo" Sonnenstrahl, engineer with a smg
Joshua Bjorn, adept with a... well, technically it still counts as pistol)

Please, regardless of your vote, roll some 2d100s. If you opt to advocate for creation of additional teams, add an extra 1d100 for each extra team. However, be advised that even high rolls may not guarantee success, or survival in dealing with what the team may come across.
Rolled 15, 86 = 101 (2d100)

keep the teams as they are, a human may not be used to crogan tactics and may ne left alone while they charge and vice versa, a krogan in the middle of humans may resort to charging or being too exposed without backup because the humans are fighting from cover
Rolled 65, 30 = 95 (2d100)

Let's just go as it is then
Rolled 90, 48 = 138 (2d100)

what >>4491049 said.
Rolled 66, 75 = 141 (2d100)

The decision comes quickly. With a grunt you nod to yourself and withdraw back into the vehicle, maintaining balance as the Tomkah lurches forward.

"We'll take the west, you take the east." Kara says into the comm.

"Works for me." Comes acknowledgment from Nicholas and the connection is terminated. You settle into a seat and bring up your omnitool, tapping into the feed of data provided by vehicle's rudimentary sensor suite. After some fiddling with settings and filters you manage to get a setup you feel confident in keeping up with. Stealing a glance you notice that Kara and Tam are both examining the HUD overlays intently, but another pair of eyes never hurts to have.

This diligence pays off in short order as one of the shapes scrolling past attracts your attention.

"Got something." You announce.

"I think I see it." Tam concurs. "Bit to the right. Yeah."

The vehicle slows down and arcs towards the anomaly before coming to a halt.

"Anything on pyjak screen?" Kara asks.

"Nothing yet... wait. Something's moving here."

The vehicle turret, presumably the most powerful weapon within significant radius, swivels around to find its mark and-

"Hold it." You growl. "Can we please get a confirmation of what it actually is you are going to shoot?"

Tam pauses for long enough to notice Chief Kara's nod of agreement. Meanwhile, you examine feed from the turret targeting system. The younger Krogan kept the reticle planted firmly on a (so far) living evidence that you were looking in the right place.

The creature was familiar, but you could not at a glance say it was the same species - or model line would perhaps be a better term - as the one you brought down along with your companions and the strangely well trained hermit. There were enough similarities to make the notion plausible, like general geometry, apparent tissue composition with dark, metallic texture. And of course razor sharp teeth and claws the creature bared as it looked back at Tomkah, sizing up the potential adversary.

There were differences, however. Most notably, the size.
"This one is smaller than the one you killed." Barak remarks in chief Kara's direction.

"Yes. It doesn't look like a young one, either. You want to wrangle it, nerd?"

Before you have time to consider the options the creature takes the initiative. Raising its corpus on its hind legs it faces squarely off against the vehicle and various parts of its anatomy begin to contort in preparation -

"Drop it!" You shout reflexively. You're not sure if it was in response to your command or because he made the same call, Tam fires the cannon. Brief hum of the accelerator, and minute tingle of dark energy discharge, only by fraction of a second preced the splatter of black carapace and goop that used to be creature's insides spray the foliage, which promptly begins to degrade and dissolve under the caustic spray.

"Neat." Kara nods.

"Meh. I hope there's more to go around on foot."

"Be careful what you wish for, you may end with more than you bargained for." Barak chides.

Meanwhile, you opt to ignore the possibly developing argument as you download footage of the creature into your omnitool and begin reviewing it. Almost as an afterthought you call up the other team, intending to share information, and a warning.

"Yeah?" Nicholas responds. "You got something too?"

"Yes. What do you mean, 'too'?" You inquire.

"Got ourselves a roadkill. Nasty bugger, probably brought the undercarriage several months closer to maintenance."

"Yeah. This is definitely the place." You nod. "Sending over final moments of another one. Was yours similar?"

There's a pause as your contribution is being reviewed in the other vehicle.

"It's a worker caste." a different voice chimes in. You recognize it as Josh's. "Or something similar, as in a role not designed for combat, hunting or breeding."

"Looked ready to fight to me." Tam remarks.

"Yes, but it was poorly suited for that." Josh says. "At least compared to what we have from your and the doctors' files. It definitely appears to have come from the same... catalogue."

"So does that mean we have an entire society of these things here?" Nicholas is heard.

"It appears so. I see no indication of reproductive systems on these images. If... if we're lucky, it simply means these specimens were irreplaceable. If we're not..." Josh continues.

"...then it's a good thing we're here to put a stop to this." Nicholas finishes for him.

You hold your tongue for now as you weight implications. Surely nobody could be stupid enough to create an artificial predator with ability to reproduce. All you had to do was sweep the installation, exterminate the beasts one by one and check the inventory files to make sure all have been taken care of and that would be the end of it.
"Looks like we have our work cut out for us either way." Kara remarks. "What about the landscape? Found some exits? We have..." The Krogan pauses as he scrolls the map on his command interface. "...looks like two distinct tunnels. Can't map them too deep with what we have, but they appear to lead in general direction of the building."

"Yeah, our scanners picked up three of them. As far as we can tell, they lead directly to the underground portion of the facility. Can't map them too well within some distance from the building proper, ground seems to have been injected with stuff that confuses the sensors."

"Any of them big enough to serve as entrance for us?" the chieftain asks. "One of ours looks just about big enough to crawl through."

"Same here. I propose we seal them, secure them with disposable proximity beacons and head for the building proper." Nicholas says.

"Or you can let someone with an actual quad go first. Narrow quarters is as constraining for the animals as it is for us, and they don't have personal shields." Tam offers.

"What do you think will last longer, your defences or their acid spit glands?" You ask the young Krogan.

"They don't have biotics to help them move around, either."

"Not from what we've seen so far." Josh corrects.

Tam snorts mockingly. "Yeah, we haven't seen them use magic, use sonic attacks or turn invisible, either. Like these things could hide their power level."

"Enough." Kara ends another potential argument. "Let's finish the sweep to make sure no more surprises lurk around. Then we decide how to handle the next step."

"Roger." Nicholas agrees. With the matters settled for now the vehicle is once again set in motion. And as you assist the Krogan three in surveying the area, you devote part of your attention to pondering your next move...
>Go with Nicholas's suggestion. It will take a while to set up, but you can make more or less sure that nothing will escape the hive without your knowledge. Downside is that sealing all the entrances may take a while. You're not aware of any time limit, but if the hive is somehow aware of workers' death, whatever still lives inside may be reacting to them.
>Refrain from sealing the exits, just fit them with proximity sensors. This will not stop any creatures from escaping, but should give you clear count of how many are at large once you're done with the hive.
>Ignore the exits entirely and head directly back to the facility. Exploring the labs that presumably gave rise to whatever is dwelling below takes priority over actually dealing with the individual creatures.
>Tam's offer is risky, but shows promise of giving you quickest access to interior of the hive - or at least shortest route to confronting remaining creatures (if any). Plus, he kind of volunteered...
>Propose a different plan

As you ruminate on the options you are well aware of the fact that you won't be able to explore the hive proper from inside the car.
>Everyone goes inside.
>Leave someone with vehicle(s) (specify who, everyone can drive either vehicle to basic extent, but Krogan are better at operating the Tomkah)

>Refrain from sealing the exits, just fit them with proximity sensors. This will not stop any creatures from escaping, but should give you clear count of how many are at large once you're done with the hive.

>Leave someone with vehicle(s) (specify who, everyone can drive either vehicle to basic extent, but Krogan are better at operating the Tomkah)
ask for a volunteer or for one of the leaders to volunteer someone, better have those vehicles ready to create a distraction at the front gate if we need it or to shoot some stragler
>Go with Nicholas's suggestion. It will take a while to set up, but you can make more or less sure that nothing will escape the hive without your knowledge. Downside is that sealing all the entrances may take a while. You're not aware of any time limit, but if the hive is somehow aware of workers' death, whatever still lives inside may be reacting to them.

>Everyone goes inside
>Go with Nicholas's suggestion. It will take a while to set up, but you can make more or less sure that nothing will escape the hive without your knowledge. Downside is that sealing all the entrances may take a while. You're not aware of any time limit, but if the hive is somehow aware of workers' death, whatever still lives inside may be reacting to them.

>Everyone goes inside.

Better to take the time than to give them operational freedom.
Briefly you consider advocating alteration of Nicholas's suggestion - rather than spending time and effort on sealing all the entrances you have found you could settle for fitting them with proximity sensors so that you can keep track of what makes its way outside. Such approach would allow you to move earlier inside the hive while giving the creatures illusion of viability of escape. After some thought you dismiss the notion, though, aligning your reasoning with Nicholas instead. You could afford to take time to do the job properly, and in ensuring that the beasts are contained underground you could bring everyone in as a single unit rather than having to leave someone on surface to stand guard with the vehicles.

With that resolve you return your attention back to the sweep in full, confirming that the vehicle didn't pass any suspicious opening or sign of movement without noticing and are satisfied with the result. In the end your two vehicles rejoin at the far side of the unmarked compound, having discovered another couple of tunnels and three more workers (all of which have been slain). After exchanging the information you lend your support to the vigilante's plan, mollifying Tam's grumbling by reiterating the point about cornered beasts fighting with greater desperation.

Sealing the entrances and setting up an array of sentry devices both Krogan hunters and the vigilantes brought with them takes both of your teams a few hours of putting both your muscles and your biotics to work - tunnel entrances are broken up, caved in and compacted enough that reopening them would amount to digging another entrance. Another issue is that the creatures are certainly capable of doing just that, though that's what the sensors should keep you informed of.

The work is interrupted a twice by a worker creature. Whether it crawled out to investigate or just happened to have business outside, they both met a grisly end at business end of your weapons. Although the brief excitement was not unwelcome, you were almost certain that if remaining creatures didn't know of your presence before, they are almost certainly aware of it now. Another disturbing notion was that it seemed unlikely that the lab would develop and decant so many worker-caste creatures, if that was what they were. The matter was looking more dire by the moment.

And so you eventually, well into the afternoon, find yourself standing at entrance of the compound's main structure. Your companions have already ransacked smaller surrounding structures and found nothing of interest or value aside from basic tools, some personal effects and supplies in varying states of spoilage. The exterior probably served only as a camp for the foraging and patrol crew with no clearance for entering the installation proper.
"How does it look?" Nicholas prompts the petite ginger woman that was working an access panel to the blast door locking mechanism.

"So and so." She says. "Ain't no juice in the circuits so there's no active countermeasures. Just gotta give it a few nudges and we'll be able to pull it open."

"Wouldn't it be quicker to cut or blast a new entrance?" Kara asks.

"Possibly, yeah, but not by much. And it certainly wouldn't be- ah, got it." Gizmo steps away from the panel and moves to take a hold of the blast door. "Give me a hand with that, would ya?"

Without delay, Chief Kara who stood closest shrugged and dug his fingers into the door panel, joined quickly by Nicholas and Tam. Before any more of you joined in the air was split by a characteristic blue glow of a biotic discharge as Josh extended his hand and poured a measure of dark energy into assisting the effort. Suddenly your companions who were pulling at the gate felt its mass dwindle and give in as it withdrew into the structure, revealing the dark corridor, featureless except for security blisters and an armored window into a guard post - at a glance vacant, free of any visible signs of struggle. Way into the structure, or at least past its first layer of defense, was open.

"Alright, let's go." Tam stepped eagerly forward, only to be stopped mid track by Kara's command:

"Hold!" The chieftain barked. "Do you remember anything from what I've been saying to you?"

There's a moment of silence before the younger Krogan relents and withdraws. "Yes, chief."

"Good. Remember, boy, just because I value your input doesn't mean you get to fuck off and leave rest of the Krantt to cover your ass."

Tam offers no opposition. If anything, he seems genuinely cowed for once.
"Alright, you have a plan for this delve, I take it?" Nicholas asks, when he judges the Krogan pecking order has been sufficiently reaffirmed.

"Yeah. We move in, cover each other's backs and follow trail of biggest resistance to whatever is at heart of this hole. We take it out, set up explosions as needed and come back the way we came."

It was a straightforward approach, one you knew hunters sometimes adopted when clearing up dens of relatively harmless varieties of homeworld's wildlife when one cropped up close enough to a settlement to interfere with its operation over providing occasional entertainment.

"Fair. But as representative of the host nation I'd be remiss in not pointing out this is not a natural habitat. I think we'd be well served in carefully searching the installation's facilities for clues of what exactly went on here."

"Natural or not, these critters look feral enough to me, and they die to bullets like any beast. We can get to looting once we clear the place out." Kara shrugs.

"Assuming we don't end up blowing the place up in process." Barak points out.

"Pillage, then burn." Lucy nods and pronounces reverently, as if reciting some sort of sacred scripture.

"Hrm. Good point. Although if we drag our feet, we run risk of the creatures digging out or otherwise giving us a slip." Kara mulls over the possibilities. Maybe now would be a good time to give him a nudge...

>Reaffirm Kara in his plan. It holds promise of straightforward fight that will take you to your main objective of clearing out the infestation.
>Support Nicholas in searching the facility first in hopes it will yield clues on what you're up against.
>Suggest splitting up into two (or more?) teams; that way you can fulfill both objectives simultaneously.
>Offer an alternative plan (specify)
>Stay quiet and let the others resolve this.
>other course of action (specify)
>"Pillage, then burn."
I like her already

>Support Nicholas in searching the facility first in hopes it will yield clues on what you're up against.
but let's limit our serach as to not be sitting ducks, we want whatever info they may have, so probably admin labs or a central computer so we learn how these things got here, who put them and most importantly if they can make more of them
>>Support Nicholas in searching the facility first in hopes it will yield clues on what you're up against.

We should seal the front entrance first as well just to make sure that they dont get ideas. of course, we should have the passcodes to deactivate if we need to gtfo in a hurry.

>Support Nicholas in searching the facility first in hopes it will yield clues on what you're up against

I'm sure Kris has plenty of experience in pillaging then burning facilities....I mean....researching....
>Support Nicholas in searching the facility first in hopes it will yield clues on what you're up against.
Knowing what intends on eating you can stop nasty surprises. If these things have camouflaging variants, or those bigger ones were just a secondary worker caste...
"Installations of this kind tend to be pretty self contained for ease of maintaining control over their workforce." You say. "That means offices for whoever run this place as a hands-on manager, as well as the service crew. And it means most of the administration material should be stored somewhere here as well. We have good chance of uncovering pretty much all related to this project if we look. And, as the old man says, we might not have a chance to do it later."

Kara considers this for a while before nodding. "Alright." He relents. "Let's raid the offices then. I'll take the point. Tam, you're with me and the nerd behind me. Barak, you take the rear. Laish can accompany you and watch over his."

"Works for me." Nicholas nods. "Gizmo, Josh, don't stick your heads out. Lucy will keep you safe."

With that your group is reminded that you're entering hostile territory and drop into a wary fighter's stance, scanning for threats with weapons ready and personal shields shimmering in anticipation.

Your senses adapt quickly to shift into an indoor environment as you walk down the entrance corridor, passing by the security checkpoint. There is no visible sign of damage. Whatever the reason for facility's abandonment, it did not have to fight through here in either direction.

"Barak, close the door behind you." Kara commands when the entire group is inside. "And lock it. Preferably not permanently. Those things likely don't use tools and I'd rather not be sealed in myself."

The old Krogan grunts acknowledgment and pulls the massive gate shut once again, depriving the entrance of its sole source of lighting. Your companions swith their headlamps on to compensate.

"It's dark in here." Joshua comments.

"Aren't you the master of the obvious." Kara grumbles. "Place's depowered."

"But... how are we going to extract data from the facility's systems without power?" The nervous man asks.

"If I can access drives physically, I can plug them in my omnitool." Gizmo says. "Although it would be much easier if we could just flip the switch."

"One thing at a time." Nicholas says. "First, let's figure out layout of the place. Then we can better plan our sweep."

"Alright. Look alive and follow me." Kara says and the group sets in motion once more.
Your party encounters no opposition as it emerges from the entryway into the modest reception hall, a room of few features save for an inactive VI terminal and a conference table with several chairs. There are no trappings of any company or organization displayed anywhere, but there are several coloured bands on the wall next to the door leading deeper into the facility, presumably to assist in navigation. They are not labeled. Presumably the VI would direct the arrivals to follow one of them, you figure.

Gizmo makes her way to the VI terminal in hopes of finding something to work with.

"Be careful with that cutter." Nicholas warns her. "Between solid walls, airtight doors and these vents, I think the security here will have been rather lethal."

"This ain't my first rodeo, mister." The woman grins and brings her omnitool up, bathing herself and the projector in warm glow.

Meanwhile, you and Kara approach the door you would presumably soon be taking.

"Any ideas what these mean?" the chieftain asks, indicating the coloured bars.

"Not unless there's a legend in a pamphlet lying around here somewhere." You shrug. You're not aware of any common colour codes humans use, and a black site would be liable to mix them up anyway.

"I think I've got something." Gizmo says. "Please, pay attention, don't think this will work more than once-"

She barely gets enough time to finish when a female figure coalesces into existence on top of the projector she's been working with.

"-ment protocol in effect. Please follow..." The figurine flickers, then reappears. "...-come to the Bucephalus facility, please follow the green path to reach the admi-" The figurine flickers again. "...the lab section, follow blue. To reach the engineering section, follow white. To reach the se-..."

With that the hologram flickers for the last time and disappears for good.

"That's all what I could dig from the cache." The engineer says.

"Good work." Nicholas gives her shoulder an appreciative squeeze.

"Which colour are we following, then?" Josh asks.

"None of them, for now." Kara shakes his head. "We're sweeping the floor one room at a time before advancing down a level. Let's move out."
Although your party's progress is slowed down somewhat by necessity to manually unlock the doors, Gizmo, who positions herself towards front of the group, turns out to be very efficient at doing so, allowing Tam to effortlessly move the panels aside, allowing the rest of you access to one room or corridor section after another.

Initially you find yourself moving through the common and office areas that are mostly just deserted. To your dismay you come across no portable devices that could shed some light on the events here. At the time it would be unclear whether the crew managed to clean them up and take away, or perhaps the site policy forbade their use to begin with.

You find several more VI terminals - one in a corridor junction where green colour band parted from few of the other colours, another in what appeared to be a mess hall in the red-coded area that must have stood for habitation section. Gizmo attempted to replicate her previous feat but cursory analysis of local memory stores showed them to be more deteriorated than the one in reception was and the engineer decided to conserve her omnitool's power banks instead.

At any rate, you paid little mind to the terminal when you entered the habitation section because that's where first evidence of what happened to facility's inhabitants turned out to be.

"Good God." Nicholas exhales as he surveys the scene. There was a faint metallic odour that leaved nobody doubting what left the dried up stains on the floor. Overturned furniture arranged into makeshift barriers, eroded thoroughly by what you presume to be acid spit, together with damage consistent with small arms fire, bear silent testament that the facility's crew did not go quietly.

Absence of bodies of either party, meanwhile, in conjunction with the trail of blood, did little to inspire confidence in where they could have gone.

"Well, so much for evacuation." Kara remarks. "Whatever the locals have been playing with, they were not prepared to come out ahead."

"L-looks like they got dragged away. D-do you think there might be survivors?"

"Days old." Barak says, bathed in omnitool's golden glow. "If there were any when this happened, they almost certainly won't be now."

"Why didn't we come across any of those things yet?" Lucy asks.

"I think they took whatever interested them here with them." Kara says, gesturing at the smears. "This should be sleeping quarters, yes?" He asks, pointing at the doors behind the ruined makeshift barriers, looking at your human companions. When Nicholas nods, he goes on. "Let's check the rooms and move onto the next section. We're unlikely to find anything useful or valuable here."
>Go with the cursory check. Kara is right, better make sure nothing or nobody is hiding in that could jump at you from behind.
>Advocate a more thorough search of the dwellings. If there's a place where you could find unsanctioned data drives you could access, it would be hidden among private things. Then again, it might be a waste of time for everyone involved.
>Suggest dropping the plan and following the trail right away. If there's a sliver of a chance someone might be alive, perhaps kept for later consumption, you owe it to them to rescue them as soon as possible.
>Split the party. (specify how)
>other course of action (specify)

I hope you've had a pleasant N7 day, friends.
>Go with the cursory check. Kara is right, better make sure nothing or nobody is hiding in that could jump at you from behind.
If they're still alive, they're probably just not aware that they're dead yet. A few minutes won't do much if they're incubating something, and we might spot a data drive poking out of a pillow while we look around.
>>Go with the cursory check. Kara is right, better make sure nothing or nobody is hiding in that could jump at you from behind.

oh....OH....don't tell me it's THOSE black carapace thingies.

btw, is alien part of the science fiction lore of the setting? lol

>>Go with the cursory check. Kara is right, better make sure nothing or nobody is hiding in that could jump at you from behind.
I agree with the cursory check, but before doing that let's have a quick look at the "last stand" location to see if we find any data drives or messages. If anyone left a last message for posterity it would probably be here and it can shed some light on what happened
"Solid plan." You comment. "Let's just check the battle site first. In case someone left a message when they realized their case is lost."

"Don't think they'd have much time to leave anything meaningful at that point. But alright." Kara complies and your group gets to combing the ransacked mess hall for clues. Barak and Lucy keep watch over possible entrances while rest of you search.

It only takes a few minutes to determine that no convenient datapads with last message recordings were left behind, but you'd still not call the search a complete loss. For one, you noticed that the place has been scoured for biomass - there were no bodies of fallen men, or beasts, not even severed appendages. On top of that the dispensers have been cut open and plundered, hinting that the beasts were not prone to wasting food in any form, although apparently not very fond of salads.

Additionally, you could gauge effect the beasts' secretions have on the otherwise durable looking furniture. It reminded you of Thresher Maw's spittle, although in luckily much, much smaller volume. You estimate your kinetic barrier could take two, maybe three such shots in quick succession, your armor underneath three more. Giving a once over to your vigilante companions, their outfit looked fairly durable as well. Of course, they didn't have redundant organs underneath. Although you'd rather not put yours to use either. Still, if you're careful to not walk into an ambush, you should be fine.

More so than the presumably nigh unarmed facility crew, in any case. Search of the room yielded two Avenger rifles, four pistols and what probably used to be a crowbar, half eaten by the acid(?).

"Hard to say if they left a good account of themselves, but they certainly didn't go down quietly." Tam nods.

Solemnly, but without further comment - perhaps the humans didn't want to get too sentimental over crew that presumably ended up being architects of their own demise - your group heads further into the habitation section on the intended sweep.
You go from one room to another and find them spartan, of few furnishings and personal effects. Most of them were empty, awaiting their inhabitants' return from their work shifts. Some of them bore mark of a very brief struggle and the inhabitant being dragged out.

Those were the only one with distinguishing features. One of the dorms had an antique paper book laying on the ground, perhaps a prayer book. Another had a broken picture frame, with an image of a woman flickering in it. Gizmo reaches for it and begins fiddle with it and her omnitool.

"I'll make sure it gets to the reunion center. If that woman lives, it'll reach her." She says, looking at Nick, who gives an approving nod.

Rest of the rooms are quickly given a visit with similar results. The only one that stood out actually had a datapad thrown in the corner, vestiges of a final message crying out into the darkness as you pick the device up and activate it. This is what it reads:

This concludes the part 1 of episode 13 of our story.

Tufferson Kris and his friends will return!
thanks for running, it's nice to see how Kris head works, bleeding heart Ford would probably be rushing to the maws of the beast to save possible survivors right now =P
lol, nice.
Thanks for the run!

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