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Monday, March 6, 2017
Multiverse Desperado: A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 5
The first two months
or so on the Normandy were rocky as hell. The crew were aggressively
skeptical of my presence on the ship. The Normandy wasn't just a top
of the line vehicle, the best possible collaboration between humans
and turians that helped pioneer some fantastic cloaking technology
tailor-made for recon and infiltration, everyone running it were
defensive of its secrets from anyone not human; criminals doubly so.
I could tolerate
that to an extent, but it was how I was treated by Shepard's more
trusted squad mates that was sad. Since Jack and I shacked up in the
Normandy's cargo hold, we basically shared our quarters with three
First was Garrus,
and he was the most harmless. Whenever we weren't in the field,
investigating strange beacons on barren planets in the Mako ground
rover or scavenging for useful materials, he was calibrating its
weapons systems and doing upkeep on its onboard computer and hull. We
bumped into each other once or twice and we were able to hold a
conversation, but the way he looks at me was...odd.
It wasn't due to the
whole prison outfit thing, I convinced Shepard to let me and Jack buy
some actual proper casual wear out of my own pocket. Although
shopping for dresses and underwear was certainly a different
experience for me, something that both Jack and I were understandably
out of our depth with, so we stuck to jackets and slacks. A fashion
decision made much to the chagrin of the more formal members of the
crew in their official Alliance uniforms.
Either way, for a
guy that I knew had a good heart and cared more about justice than
the rules, he actually quit his job at C-Sec to join Shepard, he
looked at me with a decidedly alien and confused expression. Like he
didn't know what to make of me half the time, and the other half like
he wanted to mention there was something on my face.
The one that seemed
to tolerate me in the same way you tolerate a shallow cut was Urdnot
Wrex, a krogan mercenary. As a sentient race, the krogan are without
a doubt the toughest around. Due to their home planet being full of
horrible monsters that would eat them by the dozen and an atmosphere
that would kill most races, the krogan evolved to be very durable.
They're tall, are immune to most toxins, diseases, and environmental
conditions like extreme cold and heat, they have a completely
secondary nervous system which they use to stave off extreme pain and
paralysis, and have multiple major organs: two hearts, four lungs,
etc.. It says something that their civilization evolved to the point
of developing nuclear weapons thousands of years ago, used them to
blast their world back to the stone age out of sheer desire to battle
and fight...then just kept going with their lives like it was no big
It wasn't until
galactic civilization tried using their talent for war for the
greater good that things became problematic. The krogan were
basically granted the benefits of being a race on the Citadel, with
all the resources, aid, and political power that came with it, after
they fought a bloody war against an overwhelming insectoid race known
as the rachni. They considered the war done when the rachni were
Then the Council
realized how fast they could procreate, we're talking tens of
thousands of new offspring a year, outside of the radioactive
hellhole that was their homeworld of Tuchanka. Considering how krogan
weren't known for diplomacy or negotiation, this lead to a series of
wars called the Krogan Rebellions. So the Council hired some
brilliant scientists to help...cull their numbers. Hence the
Genophage was used, a biological weapon that severely sterilized the krogan and greatly reduced their numbers to something resembling an
Endangered Species list. They've traveled the galaxy as bounty
hunters and soldiers of fortune ever since, sociologically castrated
but still carrying on.
With all of that in
mind, it made perfect sense why Wrex didn't like me around. Shepard
and the others saw a potential ally that could stab them in the back;
he saw a paycheck in case things went sideways. If I had the gumption
to ask, he'd probably say it wasn't personal.
Then there was
Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, a human Alliance officer. I'm not sure
if it was the military history, every member of her family served
their country and their planet, or the fact she was distrusting of
aliens on an Alliance ship, but she always found some way of annoying
me. Everything from a condescending sneer to her disdain for my lack
of military code – which she just loves to cite at me, or some
backhanded comment about me being loose or something. Joke's on her,
I don't plan on falling in love here.
Then there was
Commander John Shepard himself. The fact his first name was John
bugged the hell out of me, it being so painfully generic, and his
attitude was a hard mix of aggressive military drills and sharp
pragmatic action. It was basically military boot camp on a space ship
with aliens. Waking up early, work out, martial arts training –
Wrex noticeably smiled every time Ashley successfully knocked me down
in sparring matches, and firing range practice. Every single day I
could tell he was disappointed in my progress. He thought he was
getting an asari that spent at least a century learning how to fight
and instead got...me. Only solace I had in his aggressive drills were
that he noticed I was a natural shot with pistols and SMGs and that I
slept like a rock when the day was done.
The only downside was, other
than Jack, another biotic by the name of Kaiden Alenko and Wrex,
there were no other biotics I could learn from. Jack didn't feel like
it half the time, Kaiden was always out in the field doing field
recon or something.
And Wrex kind of
unexpected happened, Shepard called a shrink on to the Normandy.
It started off as a
normal day after drills and the practice range and we just made a
quick stop on the Citadel for supplies.
I was on my way back
to the cargo hold when I was stopped by her. She was an Asari with
purple skin, wearing a formal flowing dress and holding a datapad.
“Excuse me, are
you miss Variza T'Som?” she asked politely.
I nodded in
response. She gave a professional glass smile and introduced herself.
“My name is Doctor
Lissandre Dren. I was hired by Commander Shepard to help assess and
otherwise assist the mental health of the members of his team. Since
your mission is one of high duress, my trade should be one of great
surprised me. Considering how much of a hard ass Shepard was to me, I
think I liked him better when I was making him dance like a doofus in
night clubs from behind a television screen, I expected his idea of
mental health management would be some retrograde variant of “suck
it up.” It's good to be reminded I live in an optimistic future;
potential mass extinction by evil machines notwithstanding.
“That's nice,” I
slyly retorted, “if you need me I'll be in my dark place in the
corner of the cargo hold waiting for the next shit job or
T'Som, I wish to speak with you next in my office,”
be best if we continued this discussion in my office. Trust me, this
will only take two hours of your time, then you can go back to...
whatever it is that you do,” she added that last part after looking
towards the cargo hold where it looked like Jack and Wrex were
playing cards, Garrus underneath the Mako double checking some wires
Well, she is an
Asari so she has at least a dozen psychology degrees with multiple
alien races, and I get the feeling this was also done by Shepard to
get a better idea of me since he can't just Space Google me.
I agreed, and she
escorted me to a makeshift office out of the medical bay of the ship,
Dr. Chakwas didn't seem to mind.
“Please state your
name for the record,” she began.
“Is that your
birth name or an alias you've developed?”
I felt a pang of
confusion. Dr. Dren was really good at what she did.
“It is a...name I
travel under,” I acquiesced.
you wish to tell me your real name? I asked Dr. Chakwas to sound
proof this part of the bay so it will be strictly confidential.”
believe me if I told you.” I mentioned as I lay on the medical
table, trying to look at my feet like an embarrassed child.
Unfortunately, my B-cup breasts got in the way. I turned my head to
the side and crossed my arms, then quickly put them back to my sides.
“I mean...a girl has a right to her secrets....Right?” I tried
adding a smile to deflect my mannerisms. It registered about as well
as a wet fart. Dr. Dren made some notes on her datapad.
Things got more
awkward from there. She'd ask about my past and my upbringing, and I
would try to give vague answers. I can't take things from my actual
past as an average human being living on Earth in the 2010s, Humanity
has only spent north of thirty years on the galactic stage and
according to some blood tests from Dr. Chakwas my body is about
two-hundred years old. It just would not equate. But Dr. Dren
mentioned she's in her 400s and talked about her time at the
universities on the asari world of Illium, trying to get me to open
up. It didn't work.
Then things took a
more personal turn.
“How many partners
have you melded with?” she asked casually.
have the capacity to blush. I broke eye contact with Dr. Dren.
“No one.” I
“Well that makes a
certain level of sense. Give it at least fifty more years, right?”
She chuckled. Then she added with a coy smile, “or maybe that
special someone hasn't come around yet?”
“Why the hell do
you care about my love life, doctor?”
“No need to be
pushy, Variza, it's a natural part of life. Being able to be open and
honest and passionate with another being, that unbelievable feeling
when your nervous systems intertwine and you both truly feel like one
whole being. It is just-”
“Shut up! I don't
want to hear about it!” I yelled, red in the face. Or maybe violet
in the face, I don't have a mirror for reference.
Dr. Dren clicked her
tongue and made more notes on her datapad. I tried to compose myself
but this talk of asari intimacy just...bothered me. And now I came
off as some emotionally stunted angry person, I had to give her
never really learned how to meld.” I confessed. Dr. Dren looked
“How is that
possible? It comes natural to all asari, there are extensive articles
about the process, and even then you could always ask your mother
I spun a small story
based in half truth. How my mother took off when I was born with no
real maternal instinct driving her, my conservative upbringing on an
alien colony with very few asari to associate with or talk to so I
kept to myself, and my shear non-interest in the practice in favor of
more practical skills. She seemed to take it as is but I got the
distinct impression she didn't fully buy it.
“Does that explain
why you have been spending time with Dr. Liara T'Soni?” Dr. Dren
“She has been
through a lot,” I responded a little quickly to be considered
normal. “when Shepard and I found her on Therum-”
“Your mission last
month in the Artemis Tau cluster, yes. I read the report made by
Shepard,” she interjected, “you were there to recruit Dr. T'Soni
thanks to her extensive research on the Protheans to help in your
mission to track down the rogue Spectre, Saren Arterius. You were
attacked by Geth and a Krogan Battlemaster mercenary and barely made
it out of the ruins alive due to an...improvised escape method with a
deep mining laser.”
“...yes that about
sums up what happened,” I responded. Although he did leave out the
instances where I lost my lunch traveling to the ruins in the Mako.
How the heck can something that requires so much maintenance handle
like a poorly put RC car that flips every mile or so is beyond me.
“You still haven't
answered my question though, Variza. Is there a reason why you spend
so much time with Dr. T'Soni?”
“It...may be to
learn more about how asari can transfer thoughts and ideas through
their melding process.”
In truth it was
because I always wound up having her fall in love with my version of
Shepard and old habits die hard. But I also needed a primer on this
crucial asari skill.
“So it is romantic
intention. That's...interesting considering what I have heard from
the other members of the crew.” Dr. Dren replied, typing something
on her datapad.
“And what exactly
have they been saying about me, Dr. Dren? That I'm dangerous? That I
can't be trusted? That they're afraid of what secrets I know about
them? Sorry doctor, but that's just what I do.” I boasted, trying
to gain some ground.
Instead, Dr. Dren
produced and Omni-Tool and hit some buttons on the interface. Within
seconds a holographic image of Jack appeared in front of me in a
translucent orange glow, her body sitting on a nonexistant chair.
visibly snorted and turned to spit, “She's alright I suppose. She
talks a lot and her mind game stuff weirds me out but she's...kind of
a yappy dog. All this talk of being a boogeyman and I could easily
take her in a fight hands down.”
“I saved her life.
She would have been tortured and left to die if it wasn't for me.”
The image of Jack
flickered to Garrus Vakarian, once again sitting down casually, his
hands fiddling with some tool he was using; most likely on the Mako.
Well other than the fact she gave me an entire month's work of
paperwork by the stunt she pulled at the Citadel and the bizarre
weapons she had on her person she's... weird. She's an asari yet she
acts more like some punk human we sometimes get on the Citadel.
Self-indulgent kids acting like they're the center of the universe.
As for her knowing stuff it just feels wrong. Like she knows how to
use me like a machine.”
to help because I know what's coming.” I said more to me than her.
She heard it anyway.
“Do you see
Shepard pouring over psych profiles and manipulating his associates?”
Dr. Dren asked.
I had no answer.
The recording of
Garrus switched to Wrex as he was standing up. His opinion was very
“What about her?
She can shoot, she has biotics, she's taking orders so far. She's
doing her job. Although her habit of eating that human food on the
Citadel that...ramen stuff is really weird. Looks too much like
Then there was
“My opinion on the
criminal known as Variza T'Som doesn't matter. My commanding officer
sees her as an asset and as such I must comply with his command. But
as a person and off the record I can't stand her. Her technique is
sloppy, her marksmanship, while admittedly impressive by untrained
civilian standards, leaves a lot to be desired, and her command over
biotics is pitiful compared to what I have seen demonstrated by
officer Alenko. She also keeps affecting human slang and turns of
phrase, like she's trying to relate to the rest of the humans on the
ship. It is unbelievably forced and makes her come off as
I talk.” I barely whispered.
The biggest blow
came when Ashley became Commander Shepard.
“As a warrior,
Variza T'Som is barely competent. Her control over biotics is helpful
in the field and her ability with firearms can be improved, but her
capacity for extensive treks and endurance intensive exercises is
below average. For an asari that has claimed to have performed
terrorist attacks and political assassination, her grasp on tactics
and protocol are not only minimal, but incongruous.
“While on our
mission to Zhu's Hope in the Feros system, where we discovered an entire human colony were
being controlled by the spores of an alien creature called a Thorian,
I ordered my squad mates to fire upon the infected, understanding
there was no hope to remove the contagion from them. She had an
outburst and refused the orders, demanding that we re-assess the
situation and mentioned that there was a cure that could be dispersed
through the chemical component of our grenades. It was only after
half the colony were killed that we discovered this cure she spoke
of. This means either she found information and didn't inform the
team, leading to misinformation, or she knew all along about the
Thorian and compromised the team's safety for no good reason.
“It also doesn't
help that her social skills are lacking. Aside from terse
responses regarding the mission at hand or some smart-ass one liner,
she seems to treat every other person we meet with a casual
disposability, except in rare instances where she convinces several
individuals to act against their special interests to help her and
the team bypass various dangers or inconveniences.
psychologist but if you asked my opinion on Variza T'Som's character
she's an overconfident idealist with delusions of grandeur. She has
gotten lucky so far, but her detached and cold demeanor may very well
border on sociopathy or even a disassociative disorder. As such, I
want her heavily monitored at all times in case she acts outside the
interest of the mission and order an immediate psych evaluation by a
And with that,
I had no words....
“If it makes you
feel any better, Miss T'Som, I don't think you're a bad person.”
tone a mix of anger, confusion, and sadness.
“I think you have
created a grand mask for yourself that you don't want anyone to see
crack. All to hide something greatly personal. You're emotionally
stunted, probably due to not being around your own kind and you find
that daunting and alienating, which has manifested in a cocky
stand-offish behavior and a desire to prove yourself as valuable.”
“Doctor I...” I
was speechless. She was really good.
“As for the whole
idealist thing... I think that's exactly why you should stay on the
Normandy.” She added, putting away her data pad and getting up from
may be a brilliant soldier and his crew might be able to get the job
done. But they still need someone to remind them of what they're
fighting for more than what they're fighting against.”
I actually managed a
smile after that and thanked her.
“Also as for
your... lack of adult development I have scheduled an appointment
with Shaira, the asari consort on the Citadel for you. She owes me a
favor. See her on this date,” She tapped something on her
Omni-Tool, causing mine to beep and display the information, “and
I'm sure her compassion and wisdom will help you.”
I asked, feeling completely mentally drained.
She nodded. So I
Just in time to be
ordered by Shepard to suit up as we were making our way to the