Monday, February 6, 2017

Multiverse Desperado - A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 1


Chapter 1: The First Steps



After spending somewhere north of five minutes having a minor panic attack regarding my new physical nature – narrow shoulders, wide hips and all, I sat down at my bed and began to assess my situation.


First, the where and the when. It's about a hundred and fifty years in the future and humanity discovered alien ruins on Mars along with some truly remarkable technology. These included ancient knowledge about an extinct race known as the Protheans and a special element that, once refined and is charged with an electrical current, would generate a field of dark energy that can bend and even break physical laws. This phenomenon became known as a Mass Effect field. This Element Zero became the foundation for brand new technology, such as faster than light space travel, enhanced quality of life in various medical, scientific and labor fields cross the board, and some of the deadliest weapons ever known. Humanity then made first contact with a whole host of alien races and are a new player in the galactic community. This central hub of political power and discourse is the Galactic Citadel, my very near- future destination.

It is truly amazing that even after meeting new alien races, making several scientists cry by treating the laws of physics and thermodynamics as more like guidelines, and entering a new age of communal enlightenment that the first thing that is going to give me trouble is going to be red tape.

Now the what. The race that I'm now in the skin of, the Asari, are the closest thing to a combination of Tolkien's elves and the kind of multi-colored women Captain Kirk would bed as part of a “mutual cultural exchange” this world has. They can live to be one thousand, have the best capacity for biotics: the ability manipulate Mass Effect fields via specialized nano-implants into telekinetic abilities, and have a community-driven desire to seek greater knowledge and skills across their long lifespans. As for the gender-swap, the Asari are all monogendered; all female. Which leads to a complication, the reason for their affinity for biotics is linked to their capacity to procreate with any gender of any species through a form of parthenogenesis thanks to their unique nervous system. As such they are seen as...desirable by the galactic community at large.

So now on top of having no papers for Citadel Security I'm gonna be looked at lustfully by anyone and everyone the entire time. Well, best to get humble now rather than later.

After taking some deep breaths I got up and finally got around to the bigger question: the who. Clearly some sort of arrangements were made before Jump threw me on this shuttle otherwise I wouldn't be a blue woman, so I started searching the room. Tucked under the bed was a storage box, bound to a handprint scanner. One scan later and the box opened up to reveal several interesting items.

First and foremost were several weapons: two hand pistols. One was light and looked like a high-quality commercially available weapon used by any random soldier in this world. When you play action oriented experienced set in this universe you start to recognize how commonplace certain firearms are. The second pistol was heavier and looked more specialized, it seemed familiar but at a cursory glance I didn't give it much bother. The third was an SMG with one hell of a history. It was a replica of the Locust. An assassination weapon credited to the death of two Presidents on Earth.

Underneath the pistols was a set of armor. Predator L model. High-end light armor that will prevent some weapons fire but it isn't going to save me from artillery. All properly measured and form-fitting.

Moving the weapons aside I found some more practical items. The first were several containers of medi-gel. If you were in the field and something managed to break through your kinetic shields and your space-age armor to fatally wound you, a glob of medi-gel would stop the bleeding and prevent you from going into shock, all so you can continue the fight or get to an evac. Of course it doesn't magically repair broken bones or ruptured organs so it isn't exactly a complete screw-you to the Grim Reaper. Next to the gel was the apparatus for an Omni-Tool, the natural endpoint for smartphones, tablets, cameras, personal computers, and 3D printers. Great for in the field repair, recording and cataloging data, and also playing Tetris during long trips. Finally next to the Omni-Tool was a credit chit, a form of universal currency.

I slipped the Omni-Tool on to my right hand and managed to activate it after some bumbling and slipped the chit into the receiver. A message popped up on the display showing the chit was containing forty thousand credits. Well at least I won't go hungry.

The dull orange light from the Omni-Tool revealed another big problem in the case. The item was so big my mind didn't register it at first. It was an insanely powerful heavy weapon, one that has been used to eliminate Godzilla-sized insect monsters: the Cain. A full blown miniature nuclear bomb launcher.

I backed away from the case, frightened and yelling several obscenities. Apparently, “Jesus Tapdancing Christ” was the secret phrase to my Omni-Tool because a holographic display started projecting from it, showing the image of me. The old me, the real me.

“Hey me, it's me,” the recording spoke, smiling in amusement from the statement he just issued.
“If you found this recording that means you've found your gear and are getting ready for your hardcore run. Don't worry, you have the best implants and that Cain and Spectre-issued pistol will make sure you are ready for anything. You got this.” Then my old self vanished.

Great, apparently I was still thinking in gaming terms when Jump dropped me off. I can't tell what's worse right now, my ludokinetic dissonance or Jump's capacity to utterly troll me.



So to recap. I have an arsenal under my bed, forty grand to my name, a freaking weapon of mass destruction, and absolutely no documentation whatsoever to explain how I got them, where they came from, or who I am.

Which means I have to think quickly about one last question: why? Why would an Asari have all this and have no documentation. A question that will need to be answered with subtlety and intelligence....

“I'm sorry miss, but standard C-Sec procedure dictates that all luggage and personal effects must be scanned and documentation verified,” A clearly exasperated official explained to me.

“But you don't understand, this is an express delivery that must make it to the Council immediately. Special order by their Special Operations Tactics and Reconnaissance division.” I implored, keeping my posture formal as I could in my high-end military armor.

“If the Spectres truly ordered a special shipment of weapons there would be a mention of it in C-Sec records. I see none, therefore it must be treated like any other incoming arrival.”

And just like that I began to feel sick to my stomach with what I was about to say next.

“Well then, I guess I'll have to tell Saren that his newest rifle was held up by bureaucratic bullshit and call him down here right now to sort it out.” I said with as threatening a tone as I could muster, my left hand typing away at my Omni-Tool's interface like I was searching through contacts. Please don't call my bluff, for the love of god please don't call my bluff.

The officer proceeded to turn away from his keyboard and mutter to several officers in hushed tones. Finally the officer turned his attention back to me and said, “please go and make it fast miss-”

“T'Som. Variza T'Som.” I replied immediately as I rushed past the C-Sec checkpoint and into a waiting taxi, case of contraband in tow.

I proceeded to ride the automated vehicle across the Citadel before settling at the residential area, taking in the sights. Honestly if it weren't for the flying cars, the thousand -story tall buildings, I could easily be convinced this was just a regular urban city. I took off my helmet and began to smile a bit. The easy part was over, now I had to set my trap.



I booked myself a room at a high-end hotel and got to work. As easy as it would be to relax with a view, room service, and what I assume to be good television once you sift through several hundred thousand channels, I could not underestimate the kind of danger I just attracted to myself. Like a suicidal maniac running around with a fifteen-foot metal pole in the middle of a lightning storm. But it turns out the weaponry I have has one distinct yet dangerous element to it that I am going to exploit to hell and back.

I turned the shade on all the windows and pulled out a human-sized mech underneath the Cain launcher. The LOKI Mech is a simple automaton capable of using firearms and is generally used for security purposes, since they can be deployed en masse and cut down on organic life being lost. They can be programmed with simple commands, operatic systems have become very user-friendly in the future apparently, and can be equipped with anything a human-figure has. There's also the fact that the mech wasn't widely manufactured for use in the public or private sector until 2185. My calendar puts the year at 2181.

After messing with the manual and figuring out the basics I linked the LOKI mech to my Omni-Tool and proceeded to slip out of my armor, putting it on my metal assistant. Then after slipping into the closet and activating the LOKI's visual feed, I ordered it to pace around the apartment, occasionally getting it to sit down and activate the monitor on the wall. Now comes the waiting game.

The Spectres are a special forces unit enforced by the Citadel's Council. They are usually chosen for their skills as apex warriors or for being exemplary in the field of getting stuff done. They are either bona fide boyscouts or sociopathic hitmen that cherish the opportunity to justifiably murder in the name of patriotism.



Saren is the latter. In fact, he has gained a reputation for being utterly ruthless, that is if there were witnesses to speak of how ruthless he is. He also holds a dark secret, one which if this goes down the right way I might just save the galaxy six years of unspeakable horror and torment.

I spent the rest of my time trying to generate a Mass Effect field. The recording of myself mentioned adept biotics, so it has to be assumed that I have biotic amps in my body. The tricky part was understanding that it wasn't as simple as tensing a muscle or concentrating, it was like flexing another pair of nerves that were underneath the muscle tissue. Once I was capable of generating a small field and could modulate it's size and force reliably, I stopped messing around with it. Using biotic abilities is unbelievably taxing on the body, as the cold sweat on my brow and sudden urge to devastate a buffet can demonstrate. After that I readied my heavy pistol and got used to its heft and weight.

It was around two hours or so of waiting that I finally heard and saw what I was expecting. In an instant, I heard the shattering of plate glass, the sound of something smaller than a grain of sand being propelled at impossible speeds tearing through the metal and plastic of an advanced mech, and the LOKI's visual feed going dead. He actually took me seriously.

Since I heard glass shatter the mech was taken out via a sniper round. The next logical step would be for the assassin or his second to check the location personally for a confirmed kill and then to collect the item, in this case my weapons. Saren doesn't work well with others and has always been a rogue, chances are if the Council asked why he assassinated someone in the civilian sector he'd write it off as justifiable for the sake of galactic security. Spoken like a truly cold-hearted bastard.

After the better part of half an hour listening intently, I heard the sound of steps approaching my door. I slowly opened the closet door and stayed low to the ground as the figure crossed the threshold, eager to check their handywork. Slowing my breathing and moving confidently I positioned myself behind the figure as they were bent over the destroyed LOKI mech, clearly confused as to why there was metal shavings and lubricant staining the carpet instead of violet Asari blood. I placed my pistol to the back of his head, all the better to get past the armor's built in kinetic shields, and made my play.

“Don't move.” I declared, pressing the pistol at the back of the helmet. Based on the stature of the being at my mercy, it was a Turian; Saren's race. I think I may have hit the jackpot.

“Saren Arterius, for the crime of harboring the death of trillions of lives, of causing untold suffering to the galaxy by way of incurring the wrath of The Reapers, I hereby sentence you to death. Have any last words before I do this world a favor?”

“Oh quite a few,” the figure said as he slowly raised his arms in compliance.

“First of all, I'm not Saren Arterius,” he replied in a cool and restrained manner. He then moved faster than I could react. Kicking out the foot he was kneeling on to upset my posture, then with a simple pivot was facing me, thrusting out his arm in a rote martial arts move to knock the pistol from my hands, then slamming his other hand into my throat. I fell back to the wall, choking for breath.

“Second of all, I'm C-Sec officer, Garrus Vakarian,” he retorted as he pulled his own pistol from his belt and trained it right between my eyes.

“And third of all, you're under arrest.”

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