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XCOM: Second Contact [ME/XCOM] - Thread Four

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Agayek, Apr 23, 2013.

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  1. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Subscriber

    FFN Link

    TVTropes

    Table of Contents:
    Chapter 2a:2b:2c:2d:2e:2f
    Chapter 3a:3b:3c:3d:3e
    Chapter 4a:4b:4c:4d:4e:4f
    Chapter 5a:5b:5c:5d:5e:5f:5g
    Chapter 6a:6b:6c:6d:6e:6f:6g:6h:6i:6j:6k
    Chapter 7a:7b:7c:7d:7e:7f:7g:7h:7i
    Chapter 8a:8b:8c:8d:8e:8f:8g:8h
    Chapter 9a:9b:9c:9d
    Chapter 10a:10b:10c:10d:10e:10f:10g
    Chapter 11a:11b:11c:11d:11e:11f:11g:11h:11i
    Chapter 12a:12b:12c:12d:12e:12f:12g:12h:12i:12j
    Chapter 14a:14b:14c:14d:14e
    Chapter 15a:15b:15c:15d:15e:15f:15g:15h
    Chapter 16a:16b:16c:16d:16e:16f:16g
    Chapter 17a:17b:17c:17d:17e:17f
    Chapter 18a:18b:18c:18d:18e:18f:18g:18h
    Chapter 20a:20b:20c:20d:20e:20f:20g:20h:20i
    Chapter 21a:21b:21c:21d:21e:21f:21g:21h:21i
    Chapter 23a:23b:23c:23d:23e:23f:23g
    Chapter 24a:24b:24c:24d:24e:24f:24g:24h:24i
    Chapter 25a:25b:25c:25d:25e:25f

    Thread 1
    Thread 2
    Thread 3
     
  2. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Subscriber

    ******

    The first thing Shepard noticed as he led the way through the Normandy’s airlock and into the dock proper was the spartan yet cluttered nature of the berth. Unadorned metal walls formed a large, rectangular space that sheltered the dock from the howling winds and snow beyond the mass effect barrier around the entrance. Large, magnetic clamps had sealed on the Normandy’s body, locking it in place and allowing the gangway he now stood on to be brought to the airlock. The gangway extended a dozen feet from the ship before abruptly turning to the right, leading unerringly to a platform that ran along the wall on that side before disappearing through sealed doors into the adjacent docks. Cargo crates of all description littered the space, placed in seemingly random stacks on nearly every surface not dedicated to pedestrians.

    He didn’t have much time to study the area however, for a doorway set directly in the middle of the berth’s gangway spun open and disgorged a mix of turians, salarians and even three batarians in matching matte black armor. They were also, to a one, heavily armed.

    “Looks like we’ve got some fans,” Garrus commented with a mocking air, though there was an undercurrent of tension in his voice. One taloned hand moved to his plasma sniper. “Think they want your autograph, Shepard?”

    “They are NDC Security,” Nihlus explained. The turian’s voice was annoyed. “Though I am unsure why they felt the need to meet us at the dock.”

    Shepard shrugged and started walking toward the welcoming committee. “Then let’s go find out what they want.”

    The squad trailed behind him, with Nihlus just behind and to his right, as he approached. Once they were within comfortable speaking distance, a batarian standing slightly ahead of the group raised a hand. “That’s far enough.”

    Shepard cocked an eyebrow. “Are you always this welcoming?”

    The batarian sent him a scathing look. “When a human warship shows up unannounced, you’re damn right we are. Especially when it’s carrying the Carnifex,” he spat the title like a curse and glared at the commander. He took a deep breath and composed himself before continuing in a dispassionate voice. “Access to the port is restricted until your credentials are confirmed. Which of you is Nihlus Kryik?”

    Nihlus stepped up beside Shepard. “That would be me.”

    “Don’t move,” the batarian said brusquely as he tapped a command into his omnitool. A small drone detached from the wall above the door, little more than a sphere with a cylindrical port on one end, moved to hover before the turian. A green line swept up and down Nihlus’ face in rapid motions as the drone scanned his features. A minute later, it beeped and retreated back into the wall.

    “Your scan is clean,” the batarian said in a slightly surprised tone. “You can go through. However,” his voice abruptly shifted into a warning. “Firearms are not permitted in Port Hanshan.” He looked over his shoulder to a turian in the group behind him. “Sergeant, secure their weapons.”

    Shepard scowled fiercely behind his helmet and crossed his arms. “That isn’t going to happen,” he said firmly, stopping the turian in his tracks after less than three steps.

    “You have two options human,” the batarian spat with a hot glare. He pulled the assault rifle off his back and pointed at Shepard. The rest of the security team took their cue from him and followed suit. “Drop your weapons or I shoot you ‘resisting arrest’.”

    Shepard could hear the squad behind him readying their weapons, but he didn’t so much as twitch. Instead, thin streamers of psionic power flared around him in a brilliant aura. The security forces suddenly looked decidedly nervous, especially once Wrex started to laugh at their disquiet.

    “Calm down!” Nihlus snapped, interposing himself between the two. “This is not the time or place for a fight!”

    The batarian twitched violently, then nodded. “You’re right,” he said tightly, before putting his gun away and motioning for his men to do the same. Shepard nodded his agreement and let the psionic corona fade while motioning for the squad to do the same.

    “I... apologize,” the batarian bit out curtly once the last of the weapons were returned to their holsters. The words were forced out through clenched teeth. He closed all four eyes and took a deep breath. When his eyes re-opened, he was much calmer. On the surface at least. “I am only trying to do my job. Surrender your weapons or I cannot allow you to proceed.”

    Shepard nodded. “I understand that,” he said calmly. He refused to let himself have less control than a goddamned batarian. “But these weapons are classified XCOM technology. We are not going to part with them.”

    “Then I must ask you to leave,” the batarian replied firmly. His voice turned slightly bitter. “Please.”

    “We cannot do that,” Nihlus interjected. “We have reason to believe an important fugitive we are hunting is hiding in one of the research facilities here.” The batarian’s scowl deepened, prompting Nihlus to continue. “I seem to recall that part of the agreement the NDC brokered with the Council is that Spectres be allowed to carry weapons. Extend that to my companions and we can all walk away from this with what we want.”

    “I won’t have what I want until the blind Carnifex is thirty light-years away or dead,” the batarian spat angrily. He shook his head forcefully and when he spoke again, his voice was slightly calmer. “But that will pacify my superiors.” He blew out an angry breath and glared at the commander. “Know this Carnifex, I will be keeping an eye on you. All I need is an excuse.”

    Shepard nodded wordlessly and the security team dispersed, heading back through the door. He blew out a noisy breath. He couldn’t help feeling he deserved that.

    “That went well,” Garrus chimed in suddenly.

    “Well?!” Tali demanded. “How can you call that well?!”

    “They didn’t start shooting at us,” the turian answered with a shrug. Tali spluttered indignantly, but Garrus ignored it in favor of looking to the commander. “What now?”

    “Now we find the guy in charge around here and get him to tell us about Benezia,” Shepard said, shaking off his melancholy. He glanced at Nihlus. “You know the guy?”

    “No,” Nihlus said quietly. “The administrator has changed since my previous visit. I know the way to his office however.”

    “Lead the way,” Shepard said with a wave of his hand. The Spectre nodded, stepped in front of Shepard and led the squad into Port Hanshan.

    ******
     
  3. Zerodius

    Zerodius Baffled by existence

    Copy-posted from last thread, reply to current conversation (namely, why don't Reapers use indoctrinated troops more + why didn't they attack the Citadel sooner in ME3?)

    ---

    I think this is exactly what Reapers did in canon.

    Reapers are powerful (the whole '3 dreadnaughts vs 1 reaper' point) but they cannot absorb casualties like, at all. A full cycle will give them, at best, something like 3-5 Sovereign-class Reapers and maybe a dozen or so of Destroyer-class ones. Any casualties they take is a tragedy that can be replaced only with extreme difficulty.

    Which is why the Citadel trap is so vital... and why they're so hesitant to attack it.

    Without the Citadel trap, cycles would be infinitely harder to perform or, in worst case scenarios, demand they do a frontal assault and the initial invasion is the moment with the most chances of screw-ups. I must stress this: as overwhelming as the Reapers may be, for their battles to be worth it, they must be practically zero casualty wash-outs. Even sacrificing one or two Reapers in one battle is a net strategic setback for them even if they white-washed the enemy fleet.

    Which is why they rely so strongly on indoctrination and why they try to make the space battle phase of the cycle as quick as possible. On the ground, the Reapers have the advantage via indoctrination. But in space, ironically, they are vulnerable in the strategic meaning of it.


    Likewise, this may be why they waited so long before attacking the Citadel, if we exclude 'before the plot wouldn't work'.

    The Citadel is the most vital asset. Even without the 'shut down network' point, it is meant to be where they can behead the galactic leadership. If the Citadel is damaged or destroyed too seriously for the Reapers and Keepers to repair or replace, then the Reapers' long-term survival is crippled.

    It must be pointed out, again, that as terrible as ME3 is for the victim species... in truth, the cycle as we see on-screen is absolutely drop-dead disastrous for the Reapers themselves. Even if the Crucible had never been fired, they lost hundred of thousands of years-worth of their population in just the in-game events alone. Given the Reapers won, they would need dozens of cycle iterations pulled off perfectly to replenish the losses they made in ME3.
     
  4. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis

    Oh yes, the NDC are going to need to hire a considerable amount of replacements, should this visit go according to Canon...

    I mean, the Carnifex doesn't stop killing unless there's no more enemies or kill, or he's reloading.
     
  5. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    I thought it was 10 dreads per reaper.
     
  6. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Subscriber

    IIRC, it was 4 dreadnoughts to comfortably take on a Sovereign-class Reaper, and three of those dreads were likely to die.
     
  7. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    Wow. Reapers aren't actually as strong as I thought.
     
    ChapterAquila92 likes this.
  8. ryuan

    ryuan Cutest little sister

    I always thought the Reapers had more than enough ships to swarm the whole galaxy and still have more than enough to sit confortably on the dark space...
     
  9. Nightblade

    Nightblade I will protect those who cannot protect themselves

    No. They have enough to swarm them. But not with out some losses.
     
  10. Hectonkhyres

    Hectonkhyres Seething with increasing levels of bitterness.

    It seems Shepard needs to work on his myth. People still seem to think they have enough gun without calling for orbital bombardment.
     
  11. Zerodius

    Zerodius Baffled by existence

    That they have so many ships is not the point. The point is that replenishing from any losses they do is *HARD*, in all-caps. Keep in mind that, as I stated, they'll get at best 12-15 Reapers from an entire cycle.

    Even losing a couple of Reapers in the entire war is a cringe-worthy event for the Reapers. They cannot afford casualties at all. Even if they curb-stomp everyone, if they take say, 20 losses per cycle, they'll eventually go extinct anyway.

    This is the big ironic point ; as undefeatable as the Reapers are *now*, it's only because they've been successful for so long. Failure is incredibly costly and insanely hard to compensate for, for them.
     
    Orumon27 likes this.
  12. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis

    When you think about it though, that's a considerable amount of resources.

    I mean, at most, the Turians HAD 37 Dreadnoughts, so that means they can only engage 9.25 Reaper dreads. And that's not even counting the fact that they'd be suffering 75% casualties PER engagement, with the 4th probably badly mauled...
     
  13. NDC is scarier then anything Shepard or X-Com have faced before, if they make an enemy out of them they will suffer for a long long time.
     
  14. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    Well yeah, but I had thought that the Reapers were even bigger.
     
  15. Nightblade

    Nightblade I will protect those who cannot protect themselves

    Their a company. What are they going to do crash their isolated economy.
     
  16. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis

    They are, that's the thing. They can afford to lose one dreadnought in exchange for pretty much taking out 4 of their local counterparts, with ease. Remember, they can afford those casulties, the Citadel races? Not so much.
     
  17. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    To be fair, the Reapers can't really replace losses. given how many cycles have happened, I would have expected them to be tougher in order to still even exist.
     
  18. Worse, sic their career bureaucrats, stupidly high priced lawyers, and extremely effective negative publicity media campaigns on them.
     
  19. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis

    True, but I meant they have probably have hundreds, at most the Citadel races might break 120.

    Plus, their main guns can kill their organic counterparts in ONE HIT. That's not exactly comforting...
     
  20. uju32

    uju32 Mad Doctor

    :wtf:
    *Not sure if serious*

    A fucking corporation?
    When you have a nation state on the war path?
    They don't even get the figleaf of protection of being in Citadel space.

    XCOM was willing to frag the Batarian state; what makes you think they'll turn a hair at obliterating every corporation involved in the NDC that even looks funny at their agents?
    I mean, dude, seriously, how can you type that out with a straight face?
     
    Faraway-R, Plasmafish, Giygas and 9 others like this.
  21. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    A question about this. If Reapers can one shot Citadel Dreads, and the Reapers' guns are near light speed, which I think they are ( I believe a codex entry mentions it), then why can they not just kite the Citadel races to death with no casualties. It isn't like they need to defend anything.
     
  22. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis

    Because the Citadel Dreads aren't being committed to combat unless it's a high value target, odds are? Plus, the Citadel races probably have their navies maneuvering around more then usual. Alternatively, Shitware.
     
  23. Zerodius

    Zerodius Baffled by existence

    I think that a lot of people forget a few things.

    First... Reapers are not entirely made of Sovereign-class Reapers, which is a vital point.


    The 3-vs-1 point apply to Sovereign-class Reapers only, like Sovereign and Harbinger. And those form a minority of the Reaper fleet actually. The most common Reapers are actually the Destroyer-class who, although insanely powerful, are nowhere near as powerful ; I believe that a ME dreadnaught, or even a specialized cruiser, can take on a Destroyer and win. A ME dreadnaught may even defeat multiple Destroyer-class Reapers.

    It is the Sovereign-class one that has the 3-on-1 insane amount of firepower ratio.


    And this brings forth the vital point I've been parroting: for Reapers, any kind of losses sucks. At best, they get a handful of new Sovereigns per cycle.

    In fact, the figure given? The Turians killing 9 Sovereign Reapers with their entire armada? That, alone, is more Sovereign Reapers than the entire cycle can give them. From the losses that the Turians alone will give the Reapers, they'll need something like 2 to 4 full cycles to replenish those losses.

    And this is given the Turians only fight Sovereign-class ones ; with good strategy, they will bat away a non-unsignificant number of Destroyers who although more expendable than the Sovereign-class ones, are only so by a thin margin (12 per cycle, maybe 15).


    Of course, in the end, the Turians *will* lose. But the primary point is that the losses for the Reapers will be totally not worth it. The only reason they'll even bother trying to reap the Turians instead of resorting to orbital bombardment to cut their losses is because they already had a horrid harvest with the Protheans and want to obtain *something*, anything to show for their efforts.


    Understanding this point is vital to understanding why the Reapers operate the way they do. This is why they rely so much on indoctrination, on traps like the Eezo tech crutch and the Citadel trap, and why Sovereign spent so much time trying to limit the galaxy's forces via the manipulation of the Rachni. It's also likely to be why Harbinger decided to just plain not bother with the cycle and take part directly in galactic events via his puppets, the Collectors.
     
    Ahra, Andy0915, Giygas and 13 others like this.
  24. hance1986

    hance1986 Bolo Commander

    A little disappointed. Was hoping the batarian would demand they relinquish their weapons, and Shep would say they would relinquish some plasma. Since they don't use bullets. Purgatory dialogue a game early.
     
    Chase92 and ChapterAquila92 like this.
  25. CKirk

    CKirk Augur of the Core

    This doesn't change the fact that the Reapers have the range advantage (sorta), the mobility advantage, and the firepower advantage.
     
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