394: Parallel Realities – Chapter Thirty-Nine Part Two and Chapter FortyPosted: February 7, 2013
Title: Parallel Realities
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
URL: Parallel Realities: Chapter 39
URL: Parallel Realities: Chapter 40
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to Parallel Realities.
In the previous installment of this snarking, we hit one of the last times I’ll ever have to talk about this fic’s Council-bashing. You guys cannot believe how relieved this makes me.
And I’m also really happy, because now I have a new buzzer!
Which reminds me. I need to update all those counters.
*hits buzzer five times*
Lynch Mob Target Count: 13
Ass Pull From Hell Count: 11
What I’m less happy about? I’ve still got quite a few chapters to go. So let’s get going, shall we?
Now, I mentioned last time that there was one additional scene at the end of the chapter. Let’s see what it’s about, shall we?
Shepard and his crew exited out of the Citadel Tower and entered the Presidium. The area looked as it did before the attack on the Citadel. Shepard figured the next best step was to head to Hagalaz and speak with Liara. By now she must have found new to assist them in their mission.
“Commander Shepard!” a familiar voice called out.
Shepard looked in the direction of the voice and saw it was Khalisah Al-Jilani. He grit his teeth as she approach him and his friends.
“I really don’t have time for this,” he said to her.
Hm… Knowing how the fans were about Khalisah in a pre-ME3 world, I can imagine this is going to end with Stupard punching her. Which isn’t unreasonable… if you’re a Renegade, anyhow. Khalisah may be an annoying reporter (and I’ll be damned if it isn’t satisfying to knock her teeth in), but since Stupard keeps billing himself as a pure Paragon…
No, I’ll wait until the end of the scene to buzz him for it.
I only want a quick interview,” she argued.
“I’m on a mission,” he said as he tried walking by her.
“Maybe someone else will talk.” Al-Jilani directed her camera drone at Tali and activated it. “Miss Zorah is it true that you are in a relationship with Commander Shepard.”
“What?” Tali gasped in shock as the tabloid reporter quickly focused her attention on her. “I-I-”
Shepard moved himself in between them. “Hey! Have you no shame?”
“I’m just trying to do my job, Commander. I came here for the news. If I can’t get answers from you, then I’ll get it from somewhere else. Might as well be you.”
“Fine,” he relented.
That, I’ll also give InHarmsWay some slack for, since even if she does get redeemed Khalisah does tend to force interviews on Shepard in a similar manner to this.
“Now my first question is exactly what I was asking the quarian. Are the rumors true that the two of you are in a relationship?”
Shepard looked to Tali who wringed her hands nervously. He smiled and returned his look to Al-Jilani. “Yes, it is true.”
“Really? Surely a man of your caliber could do better?”
“Better? This woman has been with me my entire life. She has been there for me in the best and worse times in my life. She stood strong against forces that would destroy most people. And you’re asking me if I do better?”
Oh, yes, Tali has been with you your entire life! She was even there for that part of your life you spent in a separate reality dealing with the world’s dumbest backstory.
“I’m just saying you could find a woman you can see the face of, or even kiss. Like an asari or a human. Like what about Agent Williams there?” Al-Jilani pointed to her. “Many would love to see you two together. Or even Doctor T’Soni.”
Ash grasped her face and groaned in annoyance.
“I’m not going to date someone because of their race. It’s a person’s character that matters to me.”
“Still how do you expect this relationship to last if you can never see her face?”
Maybe it’s because he’s part of a super-advanced race of aliens that murdered that element of the in-game Tali romance.
Shepard took some steps towards Al-Jilani. There was an aggression in his approach. It caused her to back away in defense.
“Love goes beyond the physical. Love is about being there for someone when times are good and bad. Being the support they need. Tali has always been there for me. She has been my support during the rough times of my life. That’s what matters most to me.”
“It also helps that she only tells me what I want to hear. Don’t you know that relationships built on constantly kissing another person’s ass are the healthiest kind of relationship possible?”
Knowing that she couldn’t trip Shepard up over his choice in love partner, Al-Jilani changed the direction of the interview in hopes of catching Shepard off guard on camera. She wasn’t about to let this third chance go by without finally getting the interview to make her come out as the reporter who caught Shepard with his pants down. Hell, even getting him to punch her in the face for frustration at a question of hers would do a lot to improve her standing as a news reporter.
Wait, so Stupard didn’t punch Khalisah in their previous two encounters?
Hm. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. I figured that with Stupard being how he is he’d have punched Khalisah somewhere down the line, but… Well, I really can’t complain.
So anyway, after this, we get more plot dumping about Stupard, his relationship with Cerberus, some plot things from ME2, the Reapers, and—
Here Shepard would have to lie to avoid destabilization of the galactic government. While it is the Council’s fault this galaxy wasn’t more prepared for the reapers. They will face justice after the war.
For the sake of my sanity, I won’t talk about the elephant in the room again.
Instead, I will mention how this seems to show that InHarmsWay loves his sentence fragments. Seriously, don’t you love how half of his sentences don’t even communicate a complete thought?
Anyway, Stupard makes up some bullshit excuse, and then this happens:
Al-Jilani wasn’t paying attention as she backed away step by step. She soon lost the walkway behind her. Her foot hit the curb at the edge of the walkway. She fell over and landed into the lake behind it. “Damn it!” she cursed as she landed in the water. Her fall engendered a laugh from Shepard’s crew.
Aside from the fact that the guard rail between the edge of the walkway and the lake has somehow vanished, I’m…
While Stupard didn’t actually touch Khalisah, he did laugh at Khalisah as she fell instead of being more concerned that a civilian was falling into the lakes of the Presidium. So yeah.
Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 30
We get a couple more lines of dialogue and some comment about how it’s going to be a long mission, and then the chapter ends.
Okay. That’s Chapter 39. Now… On to chapter 40, which we shall open with…
Two months ago…
…a flashback. Riiiight…
The Illusive Man sat in his chair in his new private chamber. Just like his last private sanctuary, the room was only lit by the orange holographic screens and the system’s star that the station orbited. The star burnt a bright red. He went over several different OSD reports that outlined the current status of Cerberus. Due to the amount of resources that were put into the Lazarus project and due to recent attacks and failures, Cerberus was on the verge of collapse.
The reports he sifted through did not offer any good news either. Cerberus funding was at an all time low. The Alliance has been cracking down on sponsors of their organization. Their resources are almost down to nothing. Even recruitment has dwindled.
And of course, the parallel galaxy didn’t take advantage of this, because why should they end Cerberus when it’s at its weakest point given that bringing Cerberus to justice was Stupard’s original objective!?
Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 15
As for why Stupard doesn’t get buzzed? Well, depending on when this happened, I can cut Stupard some slack, what with probably having already turned himself in to the Alliance before this point.
The only thing TIM could think was cursing Shepard for his deception and naivety. TIM couldn’t help but blame himself for Cerberus’ decline. He should have seen the resemblance between him and that young child from decades ago. It all made sense in retrospect. He uses a sword as his primary weapon. His ability to use biotics without an amp. The warnings were all there and yet he didn’t realize it. TIM could only conclude that he was so convinced that the articians were gone that he didn’t see the signs of infiltration.
Don’t beat yourself up about it, TIM: you’re stuck in the middle of a second-order idiot plot.
There was one semblance of good fortune from the exchange he last had with Shepard. He implied that his galaxy is on the brink of extinction. His race on the other hand. ‘I survived!’ Those two words. He admitted that he’s the only artician left. This explains their secrecy. They are weak and vulnerable. This information may prove to be useful later.
The fact that they have a fleet that’s approximately six and a half times larger than all the fleets of the Systems Alliance combined says otherwise. But whatever, you keep groveling.
Thankfully, as if to stop that, some random assistant comes in and escorts TIM to a holding cell that’s holding on to someone for TIM. So TIM goes along, we get some narration (and some very pointless descriptions), and then we see this:
Just a couple feet away from the glass, there was a man who sat in a fetal position. His head was partially tucked in between his chest and thighs. TIM tapped the holographic panel next to the glass and said, “I was hoping we could talk.”
The man’s head rose up. He then slowly got up to his feet. His motion was fluid and not erratic.
The man’s name was Tyler Lader. He was part of the one-half of colonists who survived the collector attack on Horizon. The man lost his family in that raid. Around the time when thoughts of suicide were omnipresent, he was contacted by Cerberus with an offer to ensure that this never happened to another colony ever again. This was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. Despite not having much behind him than his colonial security guard position. He was quite unremarkable.
Though it wasn’t his job or motivations that interested Cerberus in him. His motivations and emotional state were just something they took advantage of in order to get him to join. What interested Cerberus was the fact that he was a purely family man. He had no circle of friends nor any extended family. He’s a man who could disappear without many questions being raised. While an unremarkable man, what he has provided Cerberus with a remarkable opportunity.
And what, you may ask, is that opportunity? Why, it’s the opportunity to get Cerberus moustaches to twirl!
Combined with the information and scientific results that was bought from Aria and this “volunteer”, Cerberus now has the opportunity to speak with the devil.
The man stood up straight. He slowly turned around. When his face came into view, his glowing yellow eyes immediately caught the Illusive Man’s attention. The light seemed to pulsate. The rate seemed to increase as the avatar stared at the Illusive Man.
“ILLUSIVE MAN,” the omnipotent being said in its deep, intimidating voice. Even TIM felt a chill run down his back upon hearing its words. “WE KNOW OF YOU. ANOTHER SPECK OF COSMIC DUST THAT NAIVELY STANDS AGAINST THE INEVITABLE. IGNORANT OF THE FORCES THAT IT FACES. WHY DO YOU SPEAK TO US?”
“I hoped I could speak to you about your caps lock abuse. I should think it is a little excessive.”
“I speak to you with the offer of an alliance.”
The reaper avatar slammed its fist against the glass. “YOU DARE MOCK US? YOU, THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THE ARTICIAN BACK TO LIFE. RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYING OUR PROTHEAN SERVANTS.”
“As you said, we tried fighting back. We didn’t know what we were up against. An organic specie’s very nature, we resist and fight against the unknown. We fought back when we thought you to be a threat that could be destroyed. We know better. I know that your arrival and victory is inevitable. What I can do is provide those who are willing to join you, a future.” Illusive Man lied his way through his response. He needed time to find out how to destroy the reapers once and for all. Working with them was the best way to gain valuable Intel on them. Find their weakness and then exploit it. Many will die, but it is for the greater good of humanity. They will survive. At any cost.
You know, I’m sure this whole dynamic with TIM and how he wants to do stuff with the Reapers would be a lot more interesting if we just had Cerberus show up as bad guys and then have Stupard slowly figure out why Cerberus suddenly seems to be working with the Reapers. But no, I guess InHarmsWay can’t resist an opportunity to have TIM twirl his non-existent moustache, even if it murders narrative pacing.
“You know of our organization and what we are capable of. I know you require servants to do what you things you cannot do in your current form. The collectors proved that. And for all intents and purposes, we have done more for you than your prothean servants have ever done.”
“We both know what Shepard is. And I know you show… concern over their race and their technological superiority. Though things have changed with their race as of late. We made contact with them close around thirty years ago. During this exchange, we stole as much technology as we could from them. Though at one point, some of our scientists unintentionally introduced a glitch into their medical nanobot system. This created a plague that devastated their galaxy. In my last talk with Shepard, I learned that the plague completely wiped out the artician race. The largest obstacle in your way has been for all intents and purposes have been destroyed. We want to ensure that we continue to exist. And I think removing your greatest enemy would prove my organization’s worth to be your servants.”
Were you paying attention when I pointed out that the parallel galaxy’s fleet is six and a half times larger than all the fleets of the Systems Alliance!?
The avatar just stared at the Illusive Man with no emotion. The light from its eyes disappeared. Suddenly it was like the man’s spirit came back into his body. He was engulfed with fear. Tyler saw the Illusive Man and started slamming his fist against the glass.
“Hey!” he yelled. “Hey! Get it out of my head! Oh, god! I didn’t agree to this! What did you do to me?”
The Illusive Man just watched uncaringly as the man screamed at him.
“For the love of god, just kill me! Kill me!” Tyler grabbed his head as the pain overwhelmed him. “Aaaaaah! The pain. My mind. I-I can’t think. I- Oh, god! It’s coming back. Kill me! Kill me! Kill-” Tyler was cut off as his eyes glowed again.
Indoctrination does not work like that. Once a Reaper has taken control of you, it never lets go unless you have extremely strong willpower. The only character who was ever capable of doing something like what was just described was Matriarch Benezia, and she was 1,000 years old and a spiritual leader. And even she couldn’t resist for long. And you expect me to believe that some random colonist who won’t have any bearing on the plot is able to do this?
Let’s just move on.
“WE ACCEPT YOUR OFFER OF SERVITUDE. YOU WILL HEAR FROM US.” Tyler’s eyes stopped glowing. He no longer was in panic. Tyler was just in a state of shock. He looked to the Illusive Man and then to the ceiling. “Carla,” he muttered in a whispered tone. “I’m coming.” Suddenly his body erupted and fractured into cracks of light. Tyler screamed as his body was overcharged with energy before disintegrating into ashes.
Why did that Reaper do that? You’d think that having that avatar sitting there to talk with TIM would be much more convenient for both parties, especially when the one party needs to update the other with something. But no, apparently Reaper avatars that can communicate with important moustache-twirlers are expendable. Who knew?
We get some more inane dialogue after this, with the only really critical thing happening being that TIM is like “we’re stepping up recruitment now”. (And of course, Cerberus wouldn’t be able to do a massive recruitment drive if the parallel galaxy had just gone in and enacted justice against Cerberus. Nice job breaking it again, parallel galaxy.)
After this, we cut to a different scene.
The shuttle entered through the atmosphere of Hagalaz. Within the shuttle were Ashley, Vega, Garrus, Tali and Shepard. The raging storm shook the craft.
Since Hagalaz is a pretty weird world where it’s either really freaking hot or really freaking cold and there’s a perpetual thunderstorm between the two extremes, I’m not surprised that this description is there.
Shepard was in a particularly good mood. The Council just recently made a broadcast to the entire galaxy about the current war. This broadcast was part of the conditions the Order placed on the Council. The Council was required to not only admit to the galaxy that the reapers exist and are here, but that Shepard isn’t crazy. That he was fought to protect the galaxy while they ignored his warnings. That he fought to break Cerberus apart from the inside. They even shoulder the responsibility of the deaths of the Bahak system that were sacrificed because they failed to act upon his many warnings.
The parallel galaxy also put several guns to the Council’s heads while they were making this broadcast. They had to make sure they were doing it willingly, after all.
The broadcast was not meant to stroke Shepard’s ego,
You know, just like how Charles Guiteau wasn’t an insane attention whore.
though he did get some satisfaction from seeing the Council eat crow.
If only the reader could get that satisfaction of watching the parallel galaxy admit that they also fucked shit up in all this.
This was meant to educate the public about the reaper threat and to cleanse the negative news feed that was broadcast across the galaxy that painted Shepard as a traitor, madman and mass murderer. If this galaxy is to unite they cannot see the man trying to unite it as the enemy.
I wonder if pundit-driven media will still be around in 2186. ‘Cause if pundit-driven media is still around in 2186, I imagine reporters from all parts of the political spectrum would have a field day with people like Stupard, and even more so with him pulling stunts like what is described above.
This public apology was the least they could do.
Well, apart from actually giving him a blowjob, that is.
“Shepard,” Ash said to break Shepard from his thoughts.
“Yes, Ash?” he asked while focusing on her.
“Shouldn’t we be going around the galaxy to unite it instead of going to some random planet I’ve never heard of before?”
“She’s right,” Vega said. “I’m itching to taking the fight to the reapers. After seeing what they did to earth…”
“And then knowing what they’ll do to every other planet in this God-forsaken galaxy…”
“The first step in our journey starts here,” Shepard answered.
I thought it already started with you telling the Council off?
So then, Stupard reveals that he’s going off to meet with the Shadow Broker. Ashley shows a bit of shock at this development, and when she asks about that, Stupard, Tali, and Garrus all say ‘it’s a surprise how we know the Broker’. To which we get this:
Ashley didn’t like how cryptic the three were being about the Shadow Broker. She thought of many possible reasons for this. Could the Broker be a parallel universe alien? She struck the thought from her head as the Broker has been around a lot longer than Shepard. The only possible explanation is that Shepard created an alliance between his people and the Broker. But who is he?
You’ll find out, trust me.
The shuttle entered the hangar bay. Shepard, Tali and Garrus got out first with Ashley and Vega behind them. They walked down the corridors of the ship towards a destination only Shepard, Garrus and Tali knew. Ash was impressed with this ship that you can’t feel or hear the storm from outside. Ash and Vega followed Shepard quietly until they reach a door with a reception desk near it. There a soldier dressed in armour saw them and nodded to them. He pushed a button which opened the door of the room.
They went through. The room was dimly lit in a blue hue. Ashley and Vegas saw six pillars spread even in a circle around the center of the room. They surrounded a dome that came out from the ceiling. The dome was filled with white light that was a mix of energy and what only she could describe as holographic information. Ash’s focus went back to the area before her. Across from their group was a large desk with a giant holographic console behind it. A person shrouded in shadows faced the large console. The person reached up and opened a command on the console. The shadowy figure then spoke through the section that was opened.
“I WANT AN INCREASE OF SURVEILLANCE OF EARTH IMMEDIATELY.” The Broker’s voice was deep, loud and intimidating.
*is blown to the back of the room*
Holy shit, Liara, turn down the volume! That could’ve destroyed my eardrums!
Ashley and Vega were slightly surprised though. They were expecting the Broker to be… bigger. The person in the shadows was no more taller than a human.
“It’s good to see you again, Shadow Broker,” Shepard announced.
You know, I’m sure this would be a lot cooler if this level of description had been used on the Shadow Broker while the Broker was still a yahg.
The person in the shadows pivoted to face them. Ashley took a breath and the person in question walked towards the large desk. Ashley’s eyes widen when the Broker entered the light.
“T’Soni!” she gasped loudly. “You’re the Shadow Broker? How the-”
And you know what else? This bit would’ve worked a lot better if we had gotten it without already knowing that Liara was the Shadow Broker. I know, Ash doesn’t know that Liara’s the Broker, but if you’re going to use your prose to set something up in the way you would set up a big reveal, it might as well be set up for something that is actually a reveal.
“Close to half a year ago Shepard assisted me in getting a friend of mine back who was taken by the Shadow Broker. We ended up killing the Broker in the process.” Liara walked around the “And since no one has ever seen the Broker…” She approached them. “I took over so the Broker’s resources and Intel would be ours.” Liara looked to Shepard. “Shepard I did everything I could to make the trial go in your favour but there was only so much I could do.”
I’m surprised she didn’t think of trying to get the parallel galaxy to actually do something about all those batarians that were busy dying. But whatever: I’m not an extremely unlikable douchebag who constantly complains about other people being extremely unlikable douchebags, so I wouldn’t know about that, now, would I?
“I know you did, Liara,” Shepard said.
“I must say, I am quite surprised that Williams is here. After what she said on Horizon…”
“I’m still kicking myself over that incident,” Ashley said. “I’m now with Shepard 100%.”
Liara saw the other human with them. “Who is this? I don’t believe we met.”
“Vega,” he replied. “I’m a recent addition to the crew.”
“Oh, well it is a pleasure to meet you as well.” Liara leaned against her desk.
Yes, get the introductions out of the way. Seriously, though, what took them so long to get to this point?
“You’re here to see if we have anything new about the Reapers or the ruins?”
“Have you had any success with the ruins?” Garrus asked.
Liara shook her head. “The language itself is very tricky. Even with the exions’ help.”
“So she knows,” Ash asked for clarification.
“And by the way, what ruins are you talking about?”
“I do. See Ash, we found ruins on Tuchanka that are artician in origins. The ruins had writings that were coded. We have spent months trying to translate it. We’ve had little success.”
I guess Stupard was too busy screaming at the Council to try helping them translate the language that he managed to translate for Wrex, Tali, and Garrus. That, or the exions were too “busy” trying to “translate” those writings to consider asking the guy who can translate a riddle in ancient artician while keeping the riddle’s meaning completely intact after crossing the language barrier.
“Is there anything you can offer in terms of help?” Tali asked.
Almost on cue, the doors in the back opened. A green and orange drell walked through. “Good to see you drop by, Commander.”
“You look better, Feron.”
“I don’t feel that great, though. This will probably be the last time I appear, and I only get three lines, so that tends to put a damper on my otherwise good mood.”
“I’m guessing he’s the friend you mentioned?” Ashley asked.
“Yes. Shepard, Feron here has agreed to take over operations here. With the reapers here, you’ll need all the help you can get.”
“Are you saying-?” Shepard trailed off.
“I’m rejoining the Normandy. Feron will take over here and help us by providing us with leads that may interest us.”
Well… that’s… interesting. Why would you do that?
“Why the change of heart?”
Liara walked up to Shepard. “I feel like I can accomplish more if I’m on the ground with you. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy this information work, but I want to be more involved. With Feron taking take of things here, I can do that.”
Again, this is where I want to dock InHarmsWay for ignoring ME3 (and the fact that Liara is actually a squad mate because she had to abandon Hagalaz after Cerberus tried to take the Broker’s ship from her), but I think you know what I’m going to say here.
“Welcome back, Liara.” Shepard held out his hand for a shake, but Liara just moved in and hugged him. The hug lasted for a few seconds before she let him go.
“Now the question is where do we go from here,” Shepard stated.
“The best idea I can think of is going back to the temple where you discovered these carvings,” Liara suggested. “If there’s anywhere we can find any clues is there.”
“Makes sense,” Tali concurred. “And I’m sure Wrex will like to see us again.”
“Then we go to Tuchanka first,” Shepard concluded. “Hopefully we can find more answers in the ruins.”
“Say, Stupard: what happened to solving the quarian/geth conflict?”
“Shut up, I do what I want.”
After this, we get a couple final lines of dialogue, and then we cut to another flashback.
One month ago…
The Illusive Man walked into the med-bay. The doctor was at his desk finishing a report when TIM entered. He immediately got to his feet.
“Sir,” he greeted.
“Was the operation a success?” TIM asked plainly.
“We were able to give him all of the enhancements that you asked us to implant him with.”
And now they’re implanting people with what I guess is Reaper technology.
Why did the parallel galaxy wait to take care of Cerberus!?
“No, sir. The implants have successfully synchronized with his system. No signs of rejection.”
The Illusive Man leaned against the counter to the side and asked, “What are the results of the implants?”
“Until the subject wakes up we will not know the full extent of his enhancements, but I can give you a list of likely improvements.”
TIM nodded for the man to give the list.
“The subject will have accelerated healing. Roughly equal to a krogan. His strength will be unparalleled, as well as his speed. The operative’s reaction time will be improved exponentially. He may need time to adjust to this difference. He should not be sent on any assignment for at least a month.”
“I’ll see to it that he is not sent on a mission until then. When will he wake?”
“Considering the anaesthesia meds I’ve used and his increase metabolism, I would say he is likely wake up at any time.”
“You are dismissed, doctor. I’ll wait here until he wakes up.”
“Very well, Illusive Man.” The doctor promptly left the recovering room, leaving TIM and the sedated operative.
So basically, this implanted operative will be the opposite of Stupard.
You know, I’ll admit it. I’ve wanted Stupard to have an evil twin for quite some time now. Why? Because damn it, we need someone to oppose that whiny, self-entitled little douchebag who calls himself our hero. And frankly, I don’t care who it is, I just want someone to appear who is capable of giving the ass whooping that Stupard has been asking for almost the entire fic.
TIM walked over to the bed where the Cerberus operative, and true volunteer for the implants, laid sleeping. The man lying on the bed had long black hair that covered the pillow his head laid on. He had onyx-coloured plates that covered various parts of his body. Most notably were the plates one his forearms, biceps, pectoral muscles, and one that covered his lower jaw. The man’s eyes were covered by special optical sensors. The optic sensors were inside the onyx plate that covered his eyes. In each plate was a thin blue slits of light. The lights were dimmed, denoting the man’s eyes were “closed.” His hands were encased with synthetic material. The tips of his fingers were gold and clawed.
Oh, hell, it’s not Kai Leng, is it?
As TIM approached the man, the patient started shifting in his bed. The lights of his eyes started blinking slowly. The rhythm of blinking increased rapidly until the lights stayed on. The man grumbled as he regained consciousness. HE tried to sit up, but TIM placed a hand on his chest stopping him.
“Easy there, Leng. Your operation was not long ago. You need to recover.”
The man’s name was Kai Leng.
Well, this story is about to get a lot dumber. I won’t speak for how InHarmsWay uses Kai Leng just yet, but if it’s anything like how Kai Leng was used in canon, then it won’t be fun. (Let’s just say that everyone tends to get a noticeably solid grip on the Idiot Ball any time Kai Leng appears in canon: there’s a reason fans consider him to be the worst villain of the whole series.)
He was Cerberus’ top operative and wet work soldier. Leng was once an N7 Alliance marine but was arrested after killing a krogan, in a bar fight, with a knife. He was later freed from prison thanks to Cerberus, an organization he immediately joined, agreeing with their ideals and goals. Kai Leng was involved in many clean up operations and even crossed paths with Admiral Anderson.
This, by the way, was verified in the canon ME3 thanks to a message Anderson sent Shepard after the player’s first encounter with Kai Leng. As for crossing paths with Anderson? You can ask the Retribution novel about that since that contained Kai Leng’s first appearance… part of which involved getting shot by Anderson with a shotgun.
“I’ve slept long enough,” he said in his icy tone.
“I’m making it an order that you rest until we know you can handle your enhancements. You are the first human to go through this implantation. Nothing we have done before now can compare to what we have done for you. Results can be unpredictable.”
“Very well, sir.”
“That’s good to hear. This won’t be for long. I already have an assignment for you to begin once you’ve fully recovered.”
“What’s the assignment?”
“I want you to go hunting for cereal, Kai Leng. And I want you to eat that cereal like a boss!”
“For Cerberus to take control of this galaxy once the reapers get here, you need to eliminate one man.”
Leng laughed. “One man? Not exactly much of an obstacle. Why not sent operatives after him after him now?”
“Several reasons. One, he has disappeared off of the grid, and if we are correct about where he is, we cannot reach him. And two, this is not an ordinary man. The man I need you to eliminate is Commander Shepard.”
Wait, he vanished off the grid?
Huh. I didn’t think you could make having the entire Alliance Fleet come to the same place to receive Stupard come off as inconspicuous in any way, but somehow they managed to do it.
“Shepard?” he said in surprise. “That poor excuse for a human?”
“He isn’t human.”
Kai Leng turned slightly in bed to face the Illusive Man. With his eyes covered, it was hard to tell what he was feeling. He seemed too… robotic.
Hey, that might actually be a good thing. You know, because his being robotic could mean that everyone will start acting as stupid as they need to for Kai Leng to be able to do half the things he does.
“I guess that deserves some explanation. What I’m about to tell you is something only a few Cerberus operatives know. Around thirty years ago we discovered a rift in space that led to another galaxy. Another universe. This galaxy contained a wide variety of different species. The strongest being the articians. By some manner of chance, they happen to look exactly like humans. Shepard is part of this race.”
“Why are they here?” Kai demanded. He almost sat up, but TIM kept him down.
“As I was getting to… We developed a relationship with this galactic government, but they heavily restricted what technology we could examine. At the rate they were allowing us access technology, it would have taken decades before we could become an unmatched power in our galaxy. So I ordered our operatives to start stealing their technology. The articians were not happy about this. Our operatives barely made it out of that galaxy, but not before they crippled their military. We were preparing for their retaliation for quite some time. With assistance of the reapers, we will not only repel the artician forces, but take control of this galaxy. With human at the helm.”
So now, the Illusive Man’s motivation is—you guessed it— to take over the galaxy.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: the Illusive Man is now an Awesome McEvil.
“I’ll do whatever I can to ensure our future, sir.”
“I know you will. The implants you were given give you as much of an advantage against an artician. Making you resistant against dark and alpha energy.”
“It is a form of energy that has existed since the beginning of time. Articians are able to manipulate it. It makes them stronger and faster. It can also act as a short-range energy attack. It doesn’t have the range of dark energy, but still powerful nonetheless.
Why wasn’t this “it doesn’t have the range of biotics” thing established earlier? Why does this contradict what we saw of alpha energy from Stupard’s earlier uses of it?
Now for taking on Shepard, if you cannot take him on directly, then you must go after his quarian crew member, Tali’Zorah.”
“Articians actually have a very large weakness. For humans when we use the phrase soul mate, we use it in a figurative sense. Articians on the other hand are much more literal. For articians, they form a bond with the person they love. In this case, Shepard has formed a bond with Tali’Zorah. Kill her and you’ll kill Shepard.”
Kai contemplated the thought. “I didn’t know until a year ago that before I was arrested for killing that reptile in that bar, I was a candidate for becoming the first human Spectre. I was higher on the list than Shepard. Alliance Command wanted me, but Hackett, Udina and Anderson preferred Shepard. Their favourite. That position was stolen from me. And now to find out he’s not even human makes it all worse. When I kill Shepard, it will be direct. I want to prove once and for all I am the better man.”
“Yes, I’ve been given information on something that will be guaranteed to kill Stupard; but no, I’m not going to act on it even though my mission is to kill Stupard by whatever means necessary!”
“I’ll leave the mission to your discretion. But remember that you always have that option. One other thing. The weapon that Shepard prefers to use the most is a swordstaff that he calls Asha Bel. You’ll need something of your own to take him on in combat.” Illusive Man placed out a katana in its sheath on the table next to Kai. The hilt was black with a dark yellow end. It was rectangular in shape. The blade of the uchigatana was around three feet long. “This sword will be standard issued amongst our assassins, as they are all ordered to kill Shepard if they find him. Each sword uses the strongest metals in the galaxy and is made using a multiple-layered technique making it extremely resilient.”
Kai picked up the sword by the hilt. He held it over himself. Kai pulled out the blade and said, “I will impale this blade through Shepard’s heart.”
At this point, all I can say is this: “sure, why not”.
After this, we cut back to Stupard.
“Commander, you have an incoming message from Wrex,” EDI notified Shepard as he walked through the CIC.
“I’ll take it in the comm. room,” Shepard answered.
Shepard quickened his pace towards the comm. room. He entered inside and approached the table. “Open the link.”
Wrex’s hologram of his face appeared before him.
“I was about to call you, Wrex.”
“Too bad this conversation will not be a pleasant one. Tuchanka is under attack.”
Wrex nodded. “My guess is around half a dozen.
Hm. I was wondering when the other homeworlds would start feeling the Reapers breathe down their necks. By this point in the canon ME3, the Reapers had already spread out to the turian homeworld of Palaven, and they were already sizing up Tuchanka for attack. You’d think that the Reapers would be a little bolder at this moment in time, but nope, that’s not happening for some reason.
The reaper ships destroyed the CDEM fleet that orbited our planet, and without a fleet of our own, the reapers landed with little resistance.”
“What is their current attack pattern?”
“They’ve attack a few clan centres, but they have mostly stayed close to the artician temple. We can’t get near the place without having those things fire on us.”
“So the reapers know about the temple. That’s disturbing news.
And to be quite honest, that doesn’t make any damn sense anyway. I mean, how the hell did the Reapers know about this temple? They couldn’t have found out from Cerberus since Stupard never breathed a word of its existence to them, they couldn’t have found out from the Shadow Broker because Liara found out about the temple after she had become the Broker…
So how did the Reapers find out? What, were the Reapers visited by the magic plot fairy?
The Normandy is on its way to Tuchanka. I’ll call in some reinforcements.”
“We’re doing all we can to hold off their forces. You need to get here fast.”
Suddenly, I have the image of a bunch of krogan trying to take the Reapers down with shotguns. And for as silly as that image is, I have to admit that it’s a lot more interesting than anything that is happening in this fic at the moment.
So I’ll leave the snarking here to go contemplate on that image a bit. Next time, we go up to Tuchanka, ladies and gentlemen, and…
And then you find out what that artician temple does. Trust me when I tell you that it is going to be very stupid.
Stay tuned, peeps.