Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Multiverse Desperado: A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 10
Chapter 10: The Truth
I hated Commander Shepard for how thoroughly he put me away on the Normandy. My hands were tied. My Omni-Tool was taken. Despite my desperate pleas to bring it along for the mission, my Loki mech was de-activated and put into storage. Tali even whipped up a suppression field to de-activate my biotics in case I tried anything. All while in a featureless room in the cargo hold with lots of cameras.
I officially hit rock bottom.I was taken off one of the most crucial missions in galactic history. The chance to salvage some of the research into the Genophage cure for use as a bargaining chip in the future, first contact with Sovereign, the opportunity to make sure no one dies if and when the bomb malfunctions facilitating the need for a manual override, and of course the opportunity to kill Saren right then and there before the final leg of his plan. Because I'm too unpredictable for him. I'd kick something and scream if I wasn't stuck on my duff.
Yep, the universe does have a sick sense of humor.
Time went by in a haze. There was no clock, no officials came to check up on me, although I had to assume Joker was keeping tabs on me while piloting, and there were no windows nearby. It was absolute torture.
It was when I felt the ship rock and tilt like a ship on choppy seas that I understood what had finally happened. The lab on Virmire was destroyed, all that remained were the details.
It was about two minutes later that Commander Shepard walked in. What surprised me was that Jack was with him.
“What did I say, Jack? You're taking orders and helping save the galaxy. I knew you started to care,” I stated, forcing a smile while looking between her and Shepard.
Her expression made it clear she wasn't having any of my flattery. She walked up and grabbed me by the throat, lifting me off the ground with her grip like iron.
“Shut up,” she growled, her tone cold.
“I'm only going to ask this question once. Who are you?” Shepard asked, hot anger behind his words.
“Variza T'Som, young asari with aspirations of becoming a consort, using her gifts of divining the future to try to make a better present,” I said in as practiced a tone as I could.
Shepard hit me with a right cross.
“Wrong answer!” He yelled.
“Alright...what happened down there? Did Saren mention me or something?” I replied, my head spinning and stars in my eyes.
“Jack help me out here.” Shepard quickly responded and walked off. She obliged, cracking her knuckles.
She pulled up a chair, sat down and grabbed me by the lower jaw, her stare terrifying.
“I was with Shepard on Virmire as we tore through Saren's krogan mooks. Everything went along smoothly until we hit an information bank and got to speak with Sovereign. Guess what he had to say?”
“I dunno, something about how we are mere insects struggling against cosmic winds and some ominous yet pretentious nonsense about how our lives will end because they will it?” I managed to spurt out. Something tells me it wasn't as off-color as it could have been due to having my lower jaw in the grasp of a psychotic biotic.
She tightened her grip, “He said not to trust you!” she yelled.
I blinked. She let go of my face.
“Jack has known you the longest. You did time together, you escaped together. You knew things about her that are in sealed documents-”
“I told you I see things, Shepard,” I interrupted.
“No clairvoyant is that precise. Asari consorts are loose at best and even the programs used to predict weather on multiple different planets are within a considerable margin of error!” Shepard yelled, cutting me off.
I looked away, his stare could melt the ice caps.
“Every crucial mission we've been on, you have acted like you were reading from a script. Going off half-cocked, ignoring the chain of command to find something that we weren't aware of or to save some random civilians like you're trying to become a saint.”
“Isn't that what we're here to do? To save lives?”
“That's why we stick to the mission!”
“Then there's those deals you been making on the side, blue.” Jack chimed in, smiling like a snake that just found its dinner.
I remained silent.
“You've been giving away top-secret weapon plans to multiple agencies, including criminal organizations instead of handing over your knowledge to the Alliance.”
“Technically I did give copies to the Alliance and I gave the locations of my black market contacts to the various law enforcement agencies so technically it's a sting operation.” I answered.
“A sting operation unrecognized by any covert ops group by a person with no credible experience in the field whatsoever from an easily traceable device on a ship that needs to remain unseen due to the nature of its mission.” Shepard rebutted, his anger beginning to boil over.
“All of what you just accused me of is technically not illegal, and despite me being under your command I am not a soldier of any military operation. So unless Sovereign flat out told you I'm a Reaper sleeper agent or some nonsense I think you just don't like me and are using this as grounds to throw me back in my cell.”
“Jack, play the recording,” Shepard responded sharply, turning his back to me. I could hear him taking some deep breaths.
Then Jack activated her Omni-Tool.
“So you're one of these Reapers we've been hearing so much about?” Shepard's voice came from the orange glow of the device, clear as a bell.
What came next was a voice that was the stuff of nightmares.
“REAPER? A LABEL BY THE PROTHEANS TO GIVE WEIGHT TO THEIR PLIGHT. WHATEVER YOU CALL US DOES NOT MATTER. YOU EXIST BECAUSE WE ALLOW IT. AND YOU SHALL DIE BECAUSE WE COMMAND IT.”
Even in person and when you've heard it before it's still unsettling.
“Sorry but we're putting an end to this extermination. Kaiden do you have the bomb in place?”
“Oh I'm afraid that is quite impossible Shepard,” remarked a third voice.
A turian voice. Saren.
“How did you get on this transmission line?” Shepard demanded, barely keeping his shock in check.
“Oh that's simple, Sovereign plugged me in. It's amazing how much you can do when you offer yourself willingly to the Reapers,” he responded in a unsettling stoic tone, “ but that's the least of your worries right now since we've shut off external communications to your ship and are getting ready to blow your ship out of the sky. A stealth drive doesn't work if we can just see your ship now does it?”
“You're a freaking puppet to them and you don't even know it!” Shepard yelled, the sounds of conflict happening in the background.
“Ahh but you'd know all about that wouldn't you Shepard?” Saren responded.
“What are you talking about?”
“THE ONE WITH NO PAST WHO ACTS AS IF THE FUTURE IS PRESENT.” Sovereign bellowed.
“Your own personal wolf in sheep's clothing. Of all the grand knowledge of the universe the Reapers have accrued and how insignificant your attempts to defy have been, you are predictably human. But her... she is different. But of course we'll deal with her in due time once you and your lackeys are dead.”
“Saren you son of a bitch!” Shepard yelled.
The transmission cut off to static.
Shepard finally turned back to face me again.
“I'll ask you one last time... who are you?”
I slowly got up and met his stare.
“It was Kaiden wasn't it? He stayed behind to try to stop the bomb from going off, didn't he?”
“Whatever tech stuff Saren and his geth did to hijack the timer, Kaiden did as much as he could to buy us enough time to sabotage the cloning vats and the Genophage research. He's the reason we're even here,” Jack responded, her hands going to some nasty bullet wounds and cuts on her body.
“Stop changing the subject! I asked you a question. And if you don't answer me right now I will make sure you never see star light ever again!”
It takes a lot to get me angry. I used to have a short temper once upon a time but a decade of martial arts and meditation helps with that. Shepard yelling at me was a mild inconvenience. However, the fact that the Reapers know about me and what I am, and have been using that as a means to step up their game truly got under my skin. The horrific modification of Benezia, how she was unrecognizable as a loving mother to her own daughter. Saren becoming some sort of monstrous mediator for them, giving up whatever sentience he has left. His more cutthroat tactics. The fact that several events have been playing out differently. All because of me.
I caused this. This world full of hope in the face of darkness has become a crueler place because of me.
And the man who should be a paragon of virtue is threatening to throw me in jail.
“Jack...leave the room.” I said through clenched teeth.
“Jack is staying right where she is,”
“Don't I get a say in this?” Jack replied, somewhat confused.
“If you really want to know the truth Shepard, you will shut off all surveillance equipment to this room, tell Jack to leave the room, and undo my restraints. You do that I'll tell you everything whether you like it or not.”
After some consideration, Shepard nodded to Jack. She complied. He then hit several buttons on his own Omni-Tool and unbound me.
“Alright, here's the full truth. I'm actually a young man from the twenty-first century in the body of an asari. And your adventures are from...interactive fiction I enjoyed. That's why I know what's going to happen, I've experienced it before with you as my avatar.” I said it a lot faster than I should have.
Shepard raised an eyebrow at me like I was crazy.
“Get out of this room, Variza. I'm calling the Council to have you transferred.”
And that's where I finally lost it.
I slammed Shepard into the wall with my biotics, pinning his arms to his sides with my telekinetic strength. He was palming a pistol, I saw it clatter to the ground.
“Goddammit Shepard! You should be a bona fide hero to this world! Not this simple military asshole! All that off the books stuff I was doing was supposed to be you! Showing us what we're fighting for, not aiming at what we're fighting against! I learned all of that from watching you because I wanted you to see what it was like to be the best of us! The best of humanity!”
“Ideals are easy when you aren't on the ground,” Shepard managed to choke out under the shear force of weight I had on him.
I pulled him off the wall towards me, his toes barely touching the ground.
“That is the biggest load of one-hundred percent organic non-GMO bullshit I've ever heard! You want to see how easy it is sticking to your ideals in the field. Fine! Fucking embrace eternity!”
And I reached my hands out to his temples and I gave him the full picture with my mind meld.
Shepard discovering the Prothean bean on Eden Prime. His induction into the Spectres. His chase after Saren and the adventures he had along the way. How he saved everyone on Zhu's Hope and spared the rachni. How he talked down Wrex on Virmire and discovered the secrets of the Conduit past the Nu Relay. His final battle against Saren and the galaxy's triumph over Sovereign. His comfort and eventual blossoming romance with Liara.
His death. His rebirth. His recruitment into Cerberus.
The suicide mission through the Omega-4 Relay. The fall of the Shadow Broker. The horrors of Project Overlord. The Reapers taking Earth. The Reaper War. The fact that every single race he showed mercy to came back to fight the good fight and bought the galaxy precious time against this grand threat. The Crucible project. The battle for Earth with every single race in the galaxy hinging on his word. His final death and the bittersweet victory. Everyone paying respects at his memorial for breaking a cycle that was perpetuated for millenia, a legacy of hope and triumph.
Then every other variation I had. Versions where Shepard was a woman. Versions where he was cold and harsh, and how he sacrificed countless trillions to get the job done. Versions where I didn't commit and the galaxy collapsed. All the variations I could muster.
I pulled away and let him drop. I stepped away and caught my breath, doing a mind meld and holding him up was too much to handle at once.
Shepard coughed and held his chest, his face pale as a ghost.
“Why did you show me this?”
I dropped to my knees and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Because I wanted you to see yourself the way I do. A hero.”
Shepard slowly put his hand on mine and looked up to me, his eyes shaking from how much information was thrown at him.
“I... need to sit down. I'll call you in to the next squad meeting to discuss our next move.”
Then he got up and left.