388: Parallel Realities – Chapter Thirty-Seven Part TwoPosted: January 24, 2013
Title: Parallel Realities
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
URL: Parallel Realities: Chapter 37
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello again patrons, and welcome back to Parallel Realities.
So last time, we began the ME3 arc with—what else?—bad logic. And then we ended the chapter with Stupard randomly killing a man because said man was too over the top for us to take seriously. Well, okay, that’s not really why, but it might as well be the reason why.
So now… we’re left to look at the rest of this chapter. Let’s not waste any more time, patrons, and let’s dive right in.
We pick up right here:
Ashley entered inside Anderson’s temporary office. Anderson was sitting at his desk leaning over some files. When the door opened, Anderson looked up and stood up. “Williams. Good to see you. Have you completed your inspection of the Normandy?”
“I have,” she replied. “She is one hell of a ship. Way more advance than any ship I’ve ever seen. Admiral, I also took the initiative and spoke with Shepard.”
“And how did that go?”
“Better than what I expected. He was still hurt by the things I said to him on Horizon, but he was willing to talk. He told me everything that happened during his mission.”
“Do you believe him?”
“Yes, I do.” Ashley felt like a weight was lifted off of her shoulders when she said those three words.
Oh hey, it’s time for Anderson to finally be redeemed by the story! About damn time, I say: he was one of a small group of characters acting sensibly.
So Ash and Anderson talk a bit about Stupard, and come to the conclusion that they have to testify on Stupard’s behalf because he’s “oh so perfect and noble and all that even though he’s an asshole and”—.
Sorry. This character really gets on my nerves, especially after the stunt he pulled last chapter.
So then, they come to that, and then someone comes up to them and alerts them to… that incident. Ash and Anderson run on over and look at the scene. Ash then goes over to the two remaining guards and starts talking to them.
“What happened?” she asked.
“That psycho freak just turned and attacked us for no reason,” Joe answered. “He went and shattered every bone in PFC Brad’s body. The impact of his biotics just killed him.”
“Where’s did Shepard go?” Anderson demanded.
David pointed to his room. “I added extra locks to make sure he doesn’t get out.”
“Wait, wait, wait!” Ashley stopped him. “You say that he attacked you three for no reason, yet he doesn’t make a run for it. Instead he goes right back into his room. What really happened.”
You know, something else about that scene just occurred to me. Here is Stupard, trying to prove that he’s a guy who should be trusted; and yet not only is he making demands of the Alliance, speaking in non-Alliance languages, and other generally suspicious activities, but he’s also now killed random Alliance personnel.
Stupard really sucks at this whole ‘prove to the Alliance that he’s a good guy’ thing, doesn’t he?
“Like I said-”
“You see that?” Ashley pointed to a camera on the wall. “I can access that camera’s footage and see what exactly happened. Now… What really happened?”
David reluctantly answered, “Well… We beat him after he refused to speak any regular language with a friend of his and… Brad, may have egged him on.”
“What did PFC Brad say to him?” Anderson asked in a stern voice that made David shake.
“He may have, uh, said he was going to… rape his girlfriend when she visits.”
If she visits. That means that this was a threat that this PFC Brad guy was never in a position to act on. Yes, I know that rape isn’t a subject one should just casually refer to (especially not in the manner that PFC Gargamel Brad brought it up), but I’m sorry, Stupard’s reaction to that is just… gah!
Ashley stared at the two. There was a fury in her eyes that scared the two as much as Shepard’s glowing eyes. “You are telling me that the man threatened to rape and kill his fiancée? And you two stupid bastards say he attacked for no reason?” Ashley voice was filled with rage. She punched the two in quick succession knocking them both to the ground. Ashley then kicked the two in their stomachs. “Stupid bastards! That man loves that woman! And you two are surprised that he attacked when the guy said he was going to rape Tali? Damn you!”
Lady, I wouldn’t care if frickin’ Doctor Doom was the guy who had threatened to rape Tali: Stupard’s killing of someone else still isn’t justified. I mean… come on!
“Both of you stand up now!” Anderson ordered.
The two shaken man stood up.
“As of now, you both are demoted to Ensign and are to report to Section 2 for latrine duty. You two will remain there until further notice, which will be a god damn long time. Go!”
The two soldiers ran as fast as they could.
I guess Ashley and Anderson have both taken a place in line to sing Stupard’s praises now.
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
So anyway, Ash and Anderson talk a bit about how this could affect the trial before walking in to talk to Stupard. There, they see the damage on his face, and then they talk a bit about Anderson’s having turned to the Dark Si—I mean, Anderson’s heel-face turn relating to Stupard. So then they talk a bit, and then they get to the topic of the batarian reaction, where Stupard says they’ll attack regardless of whether he gets turned in or not.
And then we get this:
Odd thing though. We haven’t heard from them since the destruction of the Bahak system. The Alliance believe they are preparing for war.”
“They are, but not with us.”
“Excuse me?” Ash asked.
“The reaper fleet has been attacking batarian colonies, according to my operatives. They are harvesting them.”
Wait, when’d you hear about this? Teilo never mentioned anything about the batarians being harvested by the Reapers! All she told you was that Omega was attacked by Cerberus, and that Cerberus has stuff beyond the Omega 4 relay! She didn’t mention anything about the batarians! How’d you hear about this?
And… No, you know what? There’s a better place to discuss the other, much bigger problem with this set-up. So I’ll hold off on talking about the other thing until then.
After this, we get yet another affirmation that this trial won’t make a difference in Stupard’s objectives, and then Anderson provides a summary of the events of the Retribution novel. So then Anderson and Stupard finish that conversation on a good note, and then Anderson leaves.
After that, we cut to—
Teilo entered through the room’s door in an angry rush. She looked Aria who was surprised to see her. “Is this some kind of a joke?”
Aria approached her with a neutral look on her face. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about allowing Cerberus to use Omega’s docks for their venture through the Omega-4 relay!” Teilo said in her face. “We already told you they are off-limits for doing business with! We already told you exactly what they have done!”
Yeah, and you seem to have forgotten that Aria was a crime lord! You also seem to forget the fact that until recently she was the queen of Omega, and that her only rule was “don’t fuck with Aria”! I personally wouldn’t put it past her to do something like that without your knowing it, given that she is a crime lord who took over Omega in part by doing shady things behind the scenes that would evade the gaze of important authority figures! And, oh yeah, there’s the small matter that you took over her space station without her asking for it!
Maybe you should’ve thought of those things before you allied yourself with her, Teilo, you dumbass!
“Omega’s economy has been lagging since your take over months ago,” Aria argued. “I took in their business in order to bring in some credits for the economy. Anyways, this was an opportunity for my people to get Intel on them.”
“And besides, Teilo, we wouldn’t be able to regurgitate the Retribution novel and the first part of the Invasion comic if I hadn’t played nice with Cerberus, now, would we?”
“Hm… Actually, Aria, you’ve got a point there.”
In The Name Of Plot Regurgitation Count: 8
“One, Omega’s economy has only dropped by ten percent but crime has plummeted by forty percent. Cash flow will come within the month. Two, you do not get to run your own missions dealing with Cerberus without notifying the Guardians! The reaper avatar escaped this station because you didn’t check in with us when Cerberus contacted you. You were blinded by rage. You even sold the data on the reaper avatar to Cerberus.
Teilo shoved Aria back. Aria scowled at her. “Watch it. I have fought stronger enemies.”
Oh, dear… I sense that Teilo is going to launch into a rant here.
“No, you haven’t. I am far worse than anything you have ever faced. The only thing keeping you alive at the moment is your ability to bring quick order to Omega. Your actions has risked galactic stability and aided our enemies. Your actions opened this station to attack from the reapers. I’ll be extremely clear Aria. If you go behind our backs and in any way aid Cerberus or the reapers, you will be considered an enemy of the order and be executed. The choice is yours. Fight with us, or die. We will not allow anyone to hinder our efforts against the reapers. Am I understood?”
I knew it! And now, Teilo the Mary Sue is outright admitting that the parallel galaxy is only using Aria to fulfill its own ends.
Aria didn’t allow the synthetic to faze her, but she could detect the malice behind her eyes. She simply nodded.
“That’s good to know. We can be friends Aria, good friends, but we need to work on our trust issues. Or the reapers will destroy us all.”
“And that is if I don’t kill you first, you simpering, mindless pawn!”
Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 11
Anyway… We then cut to Tali and Garrus, who have an inane and boring conversation about how they miss Stupard, what Jack and Grunt are up to, and all that. They’re interrupted by someone from the Order informing them of a situation that has arisen. So they run on over, we get a brief description of Jack in her ME3 look (that’s longer than some of the action scenes in this fic), and then we get this:
“You called for us,” Garrus asked.
The rak’en admiral nodded. “I’m Admiral Mec. We called you all here because there has been a new development with the reaper fleet.” She moved her hand which zoomed in on the batarian section of the galaxy. “We have been observing reaper activity in the batarian galaxy. So far several colonies have been taken by the reapers in their conquest.” A red highlight spread across a section of the batarian space to represent the reaper’s territory. “Several hundred thousand of lives have been lost. Despite the loss of life, the reaper’s advance has been… slow. That has changed.”
*looks back up at Stupard’s earlier mention of this before looking to Admiral Mec*
And you didn’t go to the aid of the batarian people because…?
No, seriously: this is a legitimate question. You’ve known for some time that the batarians have been under attack from the Reapers. Stupard somehow knew about this before he turned himself in. You also know that several hundred thousand lives have been lost, such that the casualties there probably outnumber those of the Arrival DLC by now.
You know all this, and yet you’re sitting here doing fuck all while hundreds of thousands of people are dying at the hands of the enemy you swore to protect this galaxy from!?
Are you people high!? Here’s a race of aliens that is getting harvested by the Reapers, and you’re just sitting there doing nothing! You have said numerous times that you want to keep the Reapers from harvesting all life in this galaxy, and yet you’re allowing the Reapers to harvest life in this galaxy!
This is even worse than what the Council and the Alliance have done about the Reapers, it really is. The Council and the Alliance aren’t allowed to get away with denying the existence of the Reapers, and yet the parallel galaxy gets away with actively doing nothing about the Reapers while hundreds of thousands of people are dying as a direct result of their inaction!?
How far are these hypocritical douchebags willing to go for their gambit to get the Alliance to listen to Stupard!?
She waved her hand again to reveal the mass relays of batarian space. Several of them have been targeted by a holographic ring. “These relays have been activated by the reapers. We believe they have found enough soldiers to wage an offensive on the galaxy.”
And now the Reapers have the numbers to take on the rest of the galaxy. And you allowed this to happen by sitting there doing absolutely nothing while the Reapers were building their numbers.
Nice job breaking it, “heroes”.
*hits the buzzer twice*
Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 26
Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 12
After this, it’s revealed that the Reapers are headed for Earth. So then the parallel galaxy finally decides to do something to reveal themselves to the ME galaxy… by sending a single ship to extract Stupard. You know, instead of sending the fleets that are probably fully capable of killing Reapers to make sure the Reapers don’t take Earth!
Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 13
After this, we get a brief scene that’s short enough that I can show you the whole scene:
Sergeant Michaels entered the hangar bay in a fit of anger as he looked at the Normandy. He approached the nearest dock worker. “Care to explain to be why that ship hasn’t been repainted yet?”
“We have been trying for the past week, sir,” he replied. “But every time any of our machines approach the ship, it malfunctions.”
“Have you found out why?”
“We believe the ship has a defense system that has been doing this.”
“Is this ship safe to be here then?”
“We haven’t detected any break-ins in our networks, so as far as we can tell, it only reacts when we try to repaint it. We have tried interrogating the crew, but they have been uncooperative with us.”
“Well, once Shepard is convicted this ship will be ours and this crew will be forced to tell us everything about this ship or be tried as traitors of the Alliance.”
You see why denying the Alliance the ship was a bad idea, Stupard? Now they’re definitely suspecting something is up, and you’ve put your crew in danger.
*headdesks onto buzzer*
Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 27
You want to know why this counts? It counts, because it’s part of the fact that Stupard is doing a terrible job of using his supposed “super-advanced intelligence” to realize that hey, maybe he shouldn’t act so suspiciously around everybody here.
Anyway, after this, we cut to—
Shepard was led to the trial room where the hearing would take place. He was escorted by half a dozen N7 marines. Xiltro was walking along side him to speak on his behalf and as a material witness. They entered inside the courtroom. There was the prosecutor, Ashley, Anderson and a person Shepard didn’t know. The unknown person approached Shepard and held out his hand.
“Hello Commander,” he said. “I’m Joshua Liem. I’m your advocate.”
“Do you believe my story?” Shepard asked straight up.
“What I believe doesn’t matter, look we need to-”
“Actually it does matter,” Xiltro said.
“You’re fired,” Shepard said. “I’ll represent myself. Leave.”
Good Christ, Stupard, they’ve given you someone who can probably defend you in legal court a lot better than you can, and you’ve just fired him on the spot!?
“I would advise against that,” Joshua said.
“And I would advise you leave right now. I will not have someone who doesn’t believe in me to represent me. That is an insult to my honour and to the truth.”
“You have any idea what they are charging you with? You fail here and it is death for you.”
Joshua relented and walked passed him. “Your funeral,” he said.
Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 28
Seriously, the guy didn’t even confirm if he believed in your story or not, Stupard! Hell, he could’ve actually believed you, and was just saying ‘look, I’m here to defend you regardless of my personal beliefs’! Even if this guy didn’t believe in your story, Stupard, he’s still obligated to ensure that you are given a fair trial. What kind of requirement is “do you believe in my story”, anyway? Having a lawyer who believes your story doesn’t necessarily mean that said lawyer will win your case, especially when it’s a sensationalized trial (which, this being Stupard, is entirely possible even if the media doesn’t disclose Stupard’s location) and public opinion is turned against you: just ask Leo Frank!
But of course, some measly lawyer can’t come in and steal the thunder from the Great and Powerful Stupard! That would bruise Stupard’s ego, and we absolutely cannot have that!
After this, we get the start of the trial scene with a named judge and a prosecutor who remains nameless. Really, it’s just an introduction to the trial where Stupard explains his actions and…
Well, I’ll just show this about the prosecutor:
“I would like to ask that Shepard not be addressed as Commander for the duration of this trial, considering the charges,” the prosecutor asked of him.
“I would counter his claims as I have not yet be convicted and military ranks do not disappear because of death,” Shepard countered.
“The motion is denied,” [judge] Samuels said.
And then this:
“I died during the attack on the Normandy-”
“Objection!” he yelled. “How can you be here if you died?”
“Sustained,” Samuels said. “You swore to be truthful, Commander.”
“And I was, if the prosecutor didn’t interrupt me, I would have explained further.
And also this:
“Objection! This is a place of laws and reality, not myths.”
“Overruled,” the judge declared, “but the Commander may want to present something to sustain his claims.”
Why the hell wasn’t this clown disbarred? Seriously, this guy doesn’t seem to have any understanding of how objections work! Just look at this list of grounds for objections [in American law], and then try and tell me that this prosecutor isn’t randomly objecting to everything Stupard says just because he can! If anything were to be objected, Stupard should’ve raised an objection against the prosecutor for badgering the witness!
So Stupard submits his evidence, and then we cut to this:
Out in the darkness of space, a mass relay activated. Dozens upon dozens of large dreadnaughts appeared through. The horde came to full force and flew a small distance from the mass relay. One of the reapers glowed red. The mass relays started shifting its direction. The horde waited as the structure turned. The mass relay soon came to a full stop. The horde approached the relay and made their jump. Ascension is nigh.
After this, we cut back to the trial where Stupard’s evidence is dismissed as a series of visions. He then decides to—
Shepard looked towards Ashley. “I would like to call up Ashley Williams to speak on my behalf.”
“Operations Chief Williams,” the prosecutor said. “Please come up.”
Okay, so he does that. Right. Okay. So then Ashley offers testimony on why Stupard’s visions are correct, and then—
The prosecutor nodded his head and then asked, “What is your relationship with Commander Shepard?”
Ashley raised a brow at the odd question. “He was my commanding officer and friend.”
“Was he more to you than that?”
“Objection!” Shepard yelled. “This is irrelevant to the case.”
Oh, come on! Now this prosecutor is just grasping at straws here!
“What are you doing?” Samuels asked the prosecutor.
“I’m establishing that her testimony cannot be relied upon as she may feel obligated to her ‘commanding officer’.”
Samuels gave it thought and then said. “Overruled, but watch yourself.”
“Were you and Shepard romantically involved?”
“No,” Ashley replied back quickly.
“Explain these.” The prosecutor showed some photos of Ashley and Shepard being in an intimate embrace with each other.
Ashley burst out laughing. “Oh my god! I can’t believe you think these are real. These are fakes off of a fan site. You have any idea how many fakes exist? There’s a fan site for every woman Shepard has ever been seen in the presence of.”
If this prosecutor was one of the bullies Tali mentioned in the ME1 arc, I would not be surprised.
“Can you prove these are fake?”
“I can. See my left upper arm? Nothing there? Now look at my arm.” Ashley rolled up her sleeve to show an Alliance tattoo. “We get these when we enlist. Are you sure you passed the bar exam?”
“Well, okay, I bribed the person who administered the bar exam that day.”
but Shepard was a bit enthusiastic in clearing your family’s name. A taint that shouldn’t be washed away so easily-”
Ashley stood up and punched him in the face. “My grandfather surrendered to save lives, asshole!”
Come on, Ash! You’re not this intensely impulsive! I mean, Christ, you’re punching lawyers now? You should be escorted out of the courtroom for that!
“Bailiff remove her,” the judge ordered.
The bailiff grabbed her arm and escorted her out of the courtroom. The doors closed shut behind her.
Oh. Thank you, fic.
Ashley walked away and sulked. She felt stupid for given into her anger at that moment, and now she can’t defend Shepard. Ashley walked to the hangar where Vega waited.
“Williams,” he said. “Is the trial over?”
“No,” she replied. “I got anger during questioning and punched the prosecutor in the face.”
“I’m sure he had it coming.”
“He did, but now I’m kicked out and unable to defend Shepard. All we can do is wait around.”
“We can do that inside the Normandy. I’ve been dying to see the inside of her.”
So after that brief bout of inanity, we cut back to Tali and the others as they cruise right into the Sol system.
“Stealth systems engaged,” the pilot announced as they left the Charon relay. “I’m not picking up any chatter. Looks like they haven’t detected us.”
“Good,” Garrus said.
“Say, pilot, why didn’t we just get the entire Fleet to come here while cloaked? We know every ship from the parallel galaxy’s fleet can cloak and remain undetected even when you look out a window, so we can just surprise the Reapers when they get to Earth!”
“Shut up, Garrus, and let the adults do the planning.”
“How are we going to find Shepard, though?”
“Not hard. I’ll just identify the Normandy’s signature and send a message to EDI.”
“And where the Normandy is, is where Shepard is,” Tali said.
Yes, let’s go worry about Stupard! ‘Cause heaven forbid these people worry about anybody else on this stupid planet!
“Indeed. Message away.” He stared at the screen. “She reads. Location acquired.”
“Take us in,” Aether ordered.
Their invisible vessel flew passed the armada of Alliance ships. There were thousands of them.
If InHarmsWay hadn’t been using medigel incorrectly all this time, I’d ask if he ever read the Codex. You don’t need to read the Codex to appreciate the games, but if you’re going to make things like “the size of the Alliance” play a role in major plot points, the least you could do is to read the Codex entry on what you need so you know what you’re talking about!
“Looks like they are expecting a fight,” Grunt observed.
“Question is against whom?” Tali asked.
You, probably. I wouldn’t put it past them if they opened fire on you after all the shit you’ve done.
After this, they land, and then they split off into two teams. One goes to get the Normandy, and the other goes to get Stupard. After this, we cut back to Stupard in the trial as the prosecutor says “Stupard has no evidence whatsoever”. It’s during this speech of the prosecutor’s that the parallel galaxy interrupts the proceedings.
Just then the doors burst open and four cloaked figures entered the courtroom.
“This farce ends now,” the lead cloaked figure announced.
“What is the meaning of this?” Samuels demanded.
This, Judge Samuels… This means that we have hit that moment in which I realize that it’s somehow going to get worse, right when I thought this fic couldn’t possibly get any more mind-numbingly stupid.
“We are here to evacuate Commander Shepard.”
“This is a trial, you can’t just-”
“This case is dismissed. We are taking him.”
What the judge should do: sic half the Alliance on these people.
What he actually does:
“Bailiff, deal with them,” he ordered.
Because, as we all know, a single bailiff is perfectly capable of taking down four men who have somehow gotten past the Alliance’s security and broken into a very high-profile trial.
The bailiff approached them. One of the cloaked figures tore away his cloak and shocked the man. He has never seen this type of alien before. Anderson stood up in shock as well. “What the hell are you?” he yelled.
“I am Major T’Yelo Furt,” he replied. “I am a rak’en!”
The other figures tore away their cloaks to reveal themselves.
“I am Private Guil Soel,” another said. “I am rasitian!”
“Private Uli X’elo. I am praetorin.”
“Private Qell Ell. I am tia’zu.”
“Operative Xiltro,” Xiltro stated when he stood up. “I am exion.”
The final figure tore off his cloak. “Operative Aether. I am exion.”
Shepard stood up from his chair. “I am Supreme Commander John Shepard. I am artician.”
I should feel more comforted by the fact that this chapter is the chapter in which Stupard and the parallel galaxy finally drop the charade and just reveal themselves. I really should. But somehow, I just don’t feel happy about this, and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with how even their unveiling is riddled with shitty logic!
After this, we get a scene where Garrus, Tali, Grunt, and Jack run on over to get the Normandy. They move pretty quickly, and they run into Ashley and James on the way there. And then, we realize that the Normandy’s crew was confined to the ship because it makes for a more convenient getaway that way. Garrus and everybody else get onto the ship, Ashley understandably starts freaking out, and Joker starts the Normandy up with the hope of getting out of there quickly.
And then we cut back to Stupard and friends.
“You initiated first contact with several races?” the prosecutor said. “You have any idea how much trouble you are in?”
Xiltro laughed as he approached the prosecutor. “You idiot,” he said nonchalantly. “Shepard didn’t initiate first contact with our races. Shepard’s race has been our allies for eons.”
And here’s another time where I’ll have to play by this story’s own faulty logic. Well, here goes:
The parallel galaxy has made it a point to keep their existence a secret. All they talk about is how ‘nobody must know what we are until the plot says so’, and they do all these things in secret. The subsidiary races in the parallel galaxy have never shown their faces until now, the exions are known as a bunch of human operatives, the Shadow Broker had to abduct one of those operatives to find out anything about the parallel galaxy, and oh yeah, Stupard masqueraded as a human throughout the entire first seventeen years of his life in the ME galaxy! All this, I may remind you, is by design.
There is all that, and the Alliance’s people are the idiots for not seeing the connection between you and Stupard immediately after you reveal yourselves!?
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesks onto the buzzer*
Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 14
I didn’t think the people from the parallel galaxy could be more annoyingly arrogant and overly pompous than they already were, but apparently I was wrong.
“What is he talking about Shepard?” Anderson demanded. “What the hell is he talking about?”
Shepard joined the group. “Anderson. I did tell you I would tell you the truth about my past and operatives one day. That is today. I am not a human. I am an artician, a race from a parallel universe.” Shepard turned to Aether. “What happened that you had to interrupt this trial prematurely?”
“The reapers are here, Commander,” Aether replied. “They will be here any moment.”
Anderson rushed up next to Shepard. “How long exactly?” he demanded.
A loud explosion erupted in the distance. The explosion caused the building to shake. Part of the ceiling collapsed and fell on the prosecutor, judge and bailiff killing them instantly.
“Now,” Aether replied.
Whoah! Holy shit, what the—?
Several fireballs appeared in the sky. Thousands on the streets panicked as they approached. Once the fireballs reached a certain distance, they slowed down. The flames died down until they revealed the reapers within. They flew to the ground and landed.
The behemoths started walking around the streets and firing beams of accelerated melted metal at anything unlucky enough to get in its path.
In the sky another fireball appeared. And another. And then another. The number kept increasing until it appeared that the sky was filled with fireballs.
Wait, the Reapers know how to use the SDQF? Quick, patrons, hide your children!
After this scene, we cut back to Stupard and the gang. Stupard gets a little thing from Joker telling them to find some LZ, and then Stupard, Anderson, and everyone else make their way there as quickly as they can. Anderson demands an explanation from Stupard as they run along, which is understandable given that he’s probably the only sane person in a group of lunatics. Stupard gives him the whole spiel about what happened with Cerberus and the whole Tiven’Vian thing and everything else that we have gotten numerous times before. (Hey, at least he keeps all this exposition confined to one paragraph this time.)
“If your galaxy has fought the reapers, then why didn’t you all come forward and say they exist?” Anderson demanded. His voice was understandably upset.
See? Not even the fic is denying that Anderson is upset! I mean, my reaction would be more “royally pissed” than “upset”, but still!
“Are you kidding?” Xiltro butted in. “We studied this galaxy’s history and laws. The Council would only see us as a threat until the reapers are proven to be real. Otherwise they wouldn’t take anything we say as truth. Also we are not happy about the Council’s past actions and discriminating laws concerning the krogan, quarians and AIs.”
“What do AIs have to do with anything?”
Aether looked back while running. “You think these eyes are implants? I am exion. We were created by the articians.”
“My god,” Anderson gasped. “You’re all AIs.”
“We are,” Xiltro said. “We feared the Council would try to go to war with our galaxy simply because we exist.”
You know what? I’m done complaining about the exions. I have nothing new to say about this ‘cause I’ve been refuting this point the entire damn fic. It’s not going to matter in a few chapters anyway, so you know what? It’ll be better for my sanity if I just drop it now and watch the rest of this scene unfold.
Anderson looked to Shepard. “Is John Shepard even your real name?”
“Yes and no,” Shepard replied. “It is the English translation of my birth name: Jon’ison Tivos. I actually prefer to be called Shepard.”
Anderson shook his head. “I want to be angry for all of you keeping this secret, but considering what you just said, I don’t blame you.”
“I assure you, Admiral, we are on your side and we only wish to help save your galaxy.”
And now Anderson has solidified his place in the conga line of Stu worshippers. Joy.
Anyway, after this, we get some overlong action that still manages to feel poorly paced because it’s very dialogue heavy. I’m going to skip over it, because really, does anybody care about whether or not these assholes make it out of there?
So anyway, they go through, try to find a communications tower after a shuttle that I think was supposed to take them to the Normandy blows up, and—
Shepard was about to but he noticed some movement in the corner of his eye. “Just a moment.” He walked towards where he saw the movement. It was an open vent. He crouched down and looked into it and saw a little boy. “Hey,” he said calmly and quietly. “It’s okay.”
“Everyone’s dying,” the boy said.
The building shook. Shepard looked back and saw a reaper walk by the window. He turned back to the boy. “Come here. I need to get you some place safe.” Shepard stretched out his arm. “Here. Take my hand.”
The boy lowered his head. “You can’t help me.”
“Shepard!” Anderson called out. “In here.” He walked back through the, now, opened doors.
Shepard looked back into the vent and saw that the boy was gone.
Hey, it’s that random scene with that random kid from the start of Mass Effect 3, right at where he’d appear in canon! I was “wondering” when he might appear.
So anyway, after that scene Stupard and the gang pretty much run the broad strokes of that part of ME3’s canon. They encounter a strange new husk called a Cannibal that can actually shoot at them, they find a different downed shuttle, they radio in to the Normandy to pick them up elsewhere, and then they find themselves sitting there being swarmed by cannibals.
And right when you think this fic couldn’t possibly get any dumber… Right when you think this fic couldn’t possibly be any more mind-numblingly stupid than it already is… Right when you think InHarmsWay can’t possibly come up with something more contrived than the bit of backstory that was revealed after the Arrival DLC…
The cannibals focused their fire and unleashed a torrent of fire. The shots impacted Xiltro in the chest.
“Damn it!” he cried out.
“Xiltro!” Shepard screamed. He ran over to him.
Synthetic fluids poured out of his wounds. “And I just go this body,” he joked.
“You’ll get another,” Shepard said. “Just hop into my omni-tool.”
“Right…” Green electricity sparked around his body. The electricity faded. “Oh, god.”
“Transfer error. Corruption of data detected. I-I can’t leave this body.”
“No, no, no! Find some way around it. Like taking your data core. Anything.”
Xiltro patted Shepard on the shoulder. “There’s nothing that- that- can be done. M-M-M-M-My data is corrupted. I-I-I-I cannot go on.”
“I’m so sorry, Xiltro.”
“Don’t apologize,” he said. “You have been a good friend and Commander. I-I-I-I-It h-has been an honour s-s-s-s-serving you.”
“It has been an honour fighting by your side. Rest with the spirits.”
“S-S-S-Stop the reapers. G-G-G-Goodbye my f-f-f-friend. S-S-Systems sh-sh-shut-t-t-t-ting down…”
The life faded from his eyes. A tear fell from Shepard’s right eye. Xiltro’s body caught on fire and quickly turned to ash.
Okay, how the hell did Xiltro’s body spontaneously combust like that? I just… how did that happen? Cannibals in canon don’t exactly use any form of incendiary round in the things they shoot, so why’d Xiltro spontaneously combust like this? I mean… this is really where you have to go to for an exion to die so that Stupard can’t just take the body with him and extract the data with some other method? And really? The exions have such weak shielding that this happens? Good Christ, the geth have better shielding than these assholes! And then there’s the whole “transfer error” thing. You’d think that the exions would’ve perfected transfers to another piece of hardware (what with having the ability to take over entire fucking starships), or that the parallel galaxy would build well-made exion bodies to keep data from being corrupted like that (you know, since that galaxy is so godly and all)! But nope, that doesn’t actually happen.
This has to be the single most contrived death scene I have ever read in a fanfic.
After that, Stupard and everyone else fight some mooks. They do that, and then the Normandy comes swooping in to save the day. Anderson elects to stay behind as the leader of the resistance on Earth, however, and for some reason Aether decides to stay with Anderson as well. Anderson also reinstates Stupard into the Alliance even despite the fact that Stupard isn’t actually human. After this, the Normandy takes off.
The Normandy started to take off. Anderson and Aether moved in the opposite direction. Shepard could see in the distance the little boy he saw earlier getting onto an Alliance shuttle. The two shuttles began taking off. A reaper noticed their escape and charged up its beam cannon.
Oh yeah, and the kid that Stupard ran into earlier also—
Before the reaper could fire off a shot, something pounded the reaper with several large explosives and followed up with a green beam of molten metal. The attack tore a large hole in the reaper. The reaper fell to the ground and let out a mechanical groan as it died. A Guardian ship shed its cloak and came into view. The two Alliance shuttles managed to escape.
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
You see, Stupard!? Your galaxy can still fucking kill Reapers with absolutely no fucking problems at all! You keep on making these assumptions that you’re vulnerable to attack from the Council, and yet your fucking ships can take down a motherfucking Reaper in ten fucking seconds!!
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Jesus, why the hell would the parallel galaxy—!?
Oh wait. I just realized why the parallel galaxy did nothing at all.
You know what scene from Mass Effect 3 we’d miss that had already been part of the marketing by the time InHarmsWay started writing this? He’d have to skip the Reapers taking Earth. If the parallel galaxy actually brought their fleets that can kill Reapers without any problems at all, then we wouldn’t have been able to regurgitate this scene in-fic.
In fact, we wouldn’t have a vast majority of a close-to-canon take on Mass Effect 3 if the parallel galaxy had actually used their brains for a second, now that I think about it. You know why? Because if Earth isn’t taken by the Reapers, then Mass Effect 3 can’t happen as it happens in canon on virtue of the fact that the main driving motivation behind ME3 was ‘liberate Earth’! The parallel galaxy sat on their asses, allowed batarian colonies to get harvested by the Reapers, did nothing to help Stupard’s trial go faster, and basically just sat there so that InHarmsWay could avoid having to come up with a different driving force behind Mass Effect 3.
And you guys want to know the really crazy part? Regurgitating the actual ME3 from the leaked script and the marketing campaign was not InHarmsWay’s original plan with the ME3 arc! How do I know this? Oh, no reason, he only wrote an entire DeviantArt journal about it. I’m not even kidding you guys, he literally said (and I quote): “Just making an announcement that due to the current information on ME3, I will be changing the original direction I was going to go with in MEPR and now going to follow the canon ME3 storyline (what we know of) more closely”. So when given the choice between posting original content and posting plot regurgitation, he literally chose “plot regurgitation”. You know, ‘cause heaven forbid you present us with original content in a fucking alternate universe fanfic!
And the plot points InHarmsWay was going to run with before he decided “fuck it, I’ll just go with plot regurgitation”? They were going to be wildly different from the actual ME3: there was no Arrival DLC, Cerberus was going to be taken care of almost immediately, the Council would’ve then become one of the story’s antagonists, and there would’ve been a whole part on the Flotilla where the quarians would try to use Stupard as leverage to get an embassy on the Citadel! Sure, this original take on ME3 likely wouldn’t have completely salvaged this fic’s ME3 arc anyway (that journal explicitly states that not all of his original plot threads were cut), but dealing with that would’ve been better than having to yell about how trying to follow the canon ME3 at this point just intensifies both the hypocrisy of the “heroes” and the strength of this story’s already massive second-order idiot plot!
But you know what? It frankly doesn’t surprise me that InHarmsWay would take the path of plot regurgitation even when non-stop plot regurgitation works against the intent of an alternate universe fanfic. The original ideas that InHarmsWay presents are so mindbogglingly stupid that I’ve sometimes wondered if this fic was written by a lobotomized monkey. And in the rare event when we do get something that’s genuinely interesting, it gets quashed before it ever gets a chance to be fully developed! So when you really think about it, it’s no wonder there’s so much plot regurgitation: the amount of plot regurgitation is an attempt to hide how bad the original ideas are! So it’s really too bad that this attempt to hide how much of a lazy hack InHarmsWay really is fails because said attempt is so transparent it makes cellophane look opaque.
I have some counters I need to add things too.
Ass Pull From Hell Count: 10
That’s for Xiltro’s death!
*hits buzzer *
In The Name Of Plot Regurgitation Count: 9
That’s for setting up both the ME2 and ME3 arcs so that you could regurgitate scenes from both games!
Ah, Yes, “Badassery” Count: 14
That’s for taking out a Reaper with one fucking ship!
Wish Fulfillment Outcome Count: 12
That’s for having that kid survive!
*hits buzzer three times*
Lynch Mob Target Count: 9
Because you know what? Those bullies from the ME1 arc, those prison guards, and that dumbass prosecutor were begging to be put on that counter!
And this, Stupard, is because I’m getting sick of people lining up to call you a saint!
*slams hand on the buzzer*
Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 29
*looks at his hand, and then at the buzzer*
Well, shit. I broke the buzzer. There go my next two paychecks…
And with that, I think it’s official, ladies and gentlemen: this fic has jumped the shark in the most gloriously overwrought manner possible. From here, it can only get dumber and dumber until it literally happens that the only things that can enjoy this fic are lobotomized goldfish.
But you guys want to know the worst part? We’ve only just started the ME3 arc! It’s bad enough to jump the shark at any point in a fic, but right at the beginning of an entire story arc!?
This is going to be downright painful, patrons.