Monday, February 13, 2017

Multiverse Desperado: A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Orange is the New Blue

“Who are you?” Garrus asked for the fourth time, his mandibles twitching in noticeable agitation.

“I told you. My name is Variza T'Som,” I replied for the fourth time, quietly holding a styrofoam cup of coffee in my cuffed hands and sipping politely. I was trying not to smile but it was admittedly hilarious to see the otherwise cold and effective Turian soldier lose his mind.

“There is no one by that name in Citadel records. We ran a background check with birth records on all Asari settlements from here to the Attican Traverse, ran your prints through a citizen registry, and we checked your name across all known criminal aliases in our database. All. Turned. Up. Negative!” He barked, slamming his hands on the table, trying to startle me. I will admit I did jump a bit. Still, didn't spill my coffee. I just kept sipping. Full of sugar and cream and completely inoffensive, perfect for someone who basically showed up in a new universe and tried to assassinate a monster on an empty stomach.

I could tell my nonchalant imbibing of caffeinated goodness was annoying him. I slowly put the cup down on the table and looked him straight in the eye. It's funny looking at a Turian up close, their biology is strangely reminiscent of that genetic overlap between reptiles and birds. Penetrative eyes, harsh plated features, unless you were familiar with the race you could be forgiven for thinking they were cold-blooded assassins. But I know Garrus Vakarian far too well, his future and his personality. I got this far with knowledge of past events and events to come, and I have to assume Saren listened in when I mentioned his alignment with the Reapers. Meaning if I don't get somewhere far away from him, he could easily have me killed while I await trial in the Citadel's Correctional Facility.

“I'll tell you what you want to know Garrus. But first I want to ask you a few questions and make a request. Don't worry, these won't be prying personal questions and the request will not impeded upon your sense of honor and duty. I can assure you of that. Cross my heart, and hope to die,” I cross my heart in an elegant rote motion of my hand.

“Cross your heart, hope to...what?”

“It's a...human thing. A way of saying you have my word of honor that I'm not lying to you.”

“And how do I know you to be a woman of honor? I don't know anything about you. No family, no history, not even a criminal record until now. The officers in the other room are losing their minds trying to process you.”

“If that's the case then, let me ask my first question. What are your thoughts on Saren Arterius?”

“What does that have to do with anything? If anything else I should be asking you these questions.”

“And you just gave me your answer. You don't trust him. If you thought he was a truly good and just Spectre you would have jumped to his defense, justified his actions as necessary. Imagine if that machine he shot was actually me.” I crook my mouth into a devilish smile, “you'd be taking a body to the morgue as a Jane Doe, and watching him justify himself to the Council again. With no real answers as to why. Almost as if there's a pattern....”

I lead him on. He had to take the bait. He turned his gaze away from me

“The case file on the Shanxi incident several years ago. When he was evaluating David Andersen for eligibility to be the first human Spectre. So many bodies scorched and unrecognized, and several items of interest unaccounted for.” Garrus said more to himself than to me.

“Saren is working on something in secret with another benefactor, something that will lead to-”

“The suffering and death of countless trillions. These Reapers, right?” he turned his head to me, his face somehow seeming more sympathetic.

“You said Jane Doe. That another human expression?”


“Uhh yes. I studied on Earth for a few years, picked up some of their sayings.” I replied quickly, studdering through my alibi. I didn't even know it was possible for Turians to muster a skeptical look with no eyebrows to turn up.

“Still, that is quite an accusation. And where is your evidence? These Reapers and Saren's involvement with them?”

I finished my coffee and set it down. “I have none to offer at this time,” I say with a tone of resignation.

“And you want me to turn you loose so you can track some down? That would get me fired.”

“Oh no Garrus, I want you to do the exact opposite. If I am right, then Saren will do everything in his power to kill me, to make sure his plans go unimpeded. Sure he can just write things off, but we both know he isn't that kind of Turian. No witnesses, no chances taken. Clean and methodical. So I'd like to ask one more question and make my request.”

“Put you in witness protection?” Garrus asks, concern slipping into his voice, his body language noticeably loosening. I'm in his head.

I look around the room and gesture towards the windows and wave my hands in front of my alien ears. He understood the gesture and began fiddling with his own Omni-Tool under the table.

“You have about forty seconds before the audio unscrambles. Talk.”

“Several years from now an incident will happen on a human colony. It will involve a Spectre and an Alliance officer named Commander Shepard. The incident will involve the Spectre's mysterious death and the Commander coming in contact with a Prothean artifact. You will pour over the information in the case file because you've been trying to pin Saren as someone who lost all of his senses years ago and it fits the pattern you keep seeing. Do remember me in my cell when that comes to mind?”

Garrus' expression turned to confusion, but pragmatism overrode his curiosity as he shook his head.

“And your request?”

“Well that is simple. Since I have no records and an experimental armory on hand with unseen tech, it must go without saying that I am a dangerous assassin working in the personal interest of the galactic criminal underworld. Someone like oh say, the Shadow Broker? Because of that, you are about to get a big promotion and, as a galactic safety precaution of course, you are going to transfer me to a maximum security prison for hardened criminals. The prison ship, Purgatory.”

Garrus looked back to the windows, got up and proceeded to undo my handcuffs from the table and recuffed them behind my back.

“That place is a death sentence. You'll be stuck there for life, assuming you survive the inmates.” He whispered in my ear.

“Oh don't worry about me. Something tells me we'll see each other again. Now my weapons case and mech on the other hand, keep that under your pillow. You will need it later.” I whispered back.

“Alright you mercenary scum I've heard all I need,” He projected, “you and I are gonna have a little chat with some associates and get you a nice cell far away from here.”

The trial went on about as fast as you can imagine. Garrus creatively spliced together our private conversation into a confession of my alleged actions in a court hearing to the Citadel's Council. Saren wasn't in attendance, most likely doing his own background check on me to see if he forgot to cover his tracks. Yeah, good luck with that. I plead guilty to every crime they tried tying me to and got myself a life sentence, but it was reduced to a mere two centuries since I confessed and if I was on good behavior. By Garrus' own testimony I was to be transferred to the prison ship Purgatory via a small shuttle expedition out in the Attican Traverse. Putting a confessed mercenary in the hands of a PMC owned prison for the scum of the galaxy by order of a lawful and just system just would not fly on Extranet news networks so this was kept quiet.

By Council decree, a representative would check up on me every few years or so to make sure the warden didn't have me killed or sold off to slavers before my sentence was served. That would be very loosely enforced since the Purgatory stays on the move and charges an arm and a leg to take in high-profile prisoners. Something tells me Garrus' promotion was the cost of such a transfer considering the bitter look he gave me as he pushed me on to the shuttle heading to the station.

From there it's not hard to imagine what I was subjected to. Mugshots, obviously. This time in three dimensions with a holographic display. Forced to wear an ugly orange jumpsuit, even in the future there are fashion constants it turns out. And of course catcalls and declarations of what certain inmates would love to do to my body as I was trotted out like fresh meat. I'm by Asari standards barely legal so they were pretty graphic and creative. Live or die I'm going to have some newfound perspective on women's rights when this is all said and done.

What was a surprise was my cell mate. After being tossed in and spat on by the absolutely fine and upstanding members of the Blue Suns mercenary group, the door's energy field kicked and I was left to my bunk bed and my toilet. As I went to sit down on the mattress and catch my thoughts, a voice barked out from the top bunk, a woman's voice.

“Get off my bed, blue. Wanna sleep, gotta pay the toll,” she barked hard, leaping down in a fluid motion to intimidate me. Considering I just walked through almost thirty different cell blocks with hundreds of people implying various flavors of assault, I did flinch. Leave me alone, I had a long day.

The woman had a shaved head and was rocking some extremely dark tattoos. The kind that implied you've done a great combination of killing, stealing, and destroying. She got right up in my face and slammed a hand on the wall behind me, getting right in my personal space like a predatory lion. The terrifying thing is I didn't jump and look away because of her appearance alone, it was because I knew who she was and everything she did to get here. I was just put into a prison cell with the most powerful human biotic in the galaxy, and she has a psych eval sheet that's a mile long.

“Great, I got myself a green horn. This is gonna be fun!” She exclaimed, “First you gonna learn the pecking order, blue. There's me, everyone else out there, then you. You're lower than dirt!” She slapped me across the face hard. I think I tasted some blood. She grabbed my jaw in her hand and gave me the kind of look a serial killer has before they go for the killing stroke.

“I'm not your friend, I'm not your bodyguard, and I'm sure as hell not your prison wife! You stay out of my way and I won't splatter you all over this cell!” She threw her hand to the wall behind me, it proceeded to dent and warp from the biotic power she casually summoned.

“Now say my name, bitch.” she added, amused. Like a cat playing with a mouse on its hindlegs.

I kept my composure as best as I could, straightened my back and wiped some blood off my lips. Time for me to flip the table.

“Would you prefer your actual first name, your alias, your title, or just Jack?” I replied after clearing my throat. The look of surprise in her eyes was like Christmas.

Her response to me robbing her of another excuse to hit me made me learn firsthand why she earned the nickname, The Psychotic Biotic. Two punches to my sides, a knee to the solar plexus, and a cross to my jaw was also a clear indication that she didn't like having her power taken away. Yes, it hurt like hell, she's a career criminal.

After getting up and managing a smile through the pain I responded, “I'm sorry is that not how your script goes, Jack? Or is it Jacquelyne Nought? Clever use of the last name by the way, little reference to what they called you back on-”

“Shut! The fuck! Up!” Jack responded, punching me with emphasis on each word spewed.

At this point I was on the ground in a large amount of pain. I was definitely going to have some bruises, hopefully none of my ribs got cracked. Also if my slightly blurred vision was anything to go by I was also suffering a black eye. The blows to my solar plexis started to add up as my body started to retch. I crawled on all fours to the toilet, barely managing to keep my stream of sick in the bowl. Jack walked to my right side and placed her hand on the back of my head and grabbed hard.

“You got balls, blue. I'll give you that,” she admitted, adding more pressure to her grip, threatening to drown me in my own waste.

“And you can take a punch. So the bunk is yours. But if you ever mention anything ever again about where I've been or what I've been through, I will rip you in half with my mind. Is that clear?”

I resisted her pushing and gave a quick yes. She let go of my head tentacles.

I crawled into my newly earned bunk and started getting situated. If things play out the same way the Mass Effect video games happened, Saren will be stopped by Commander Shepard with the help of Garrus. Once that happens, Garrus can appeal to the Council that I secretly cooperated in trying to prevent Saren's attack on the Citadel with the Reaper known as Sovereign, which will lead to my immediate release and official apology. He believes in justice and is a solid law-abiding Turian, he wouldn't leave me to hang. That will be within two years.

Then the horrible thoughts hit me. In their struggles to prevent Saren's plans and depending on the demeanor of Shepard, they could easily forget about me. Meaning I won't see anything of Garrus or Shepard until they seek the aid of my bunk mate for a suicide mission to fight back the rest of the Reaper threat. That will be in four years.

If the latter happens, there's only one solution: I'll have to stay on Jack's good side so they'll take me with her.

When it rains, it pours.

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