418: Parallel Realities – Chapter Forty-Six

Title: Parallel Realities
Author: InHarmsWay
Media: Video Game
Topic:  Mass Effect
Genre: Supernatural/Romance/AU
URL:  Parallel Realities: Chapter 46
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

Hello once again, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to Parallel Realities. Now… for this installment, I actually managed to get an old friend of mine in on this. I think the only way I could feasibly survive this is if I got someone else to help me look at this chapter.

So… to help us out here, I actually managed to get a pretty significant person in ME lore who just escaped this whole involved rigmarole. I have no idea how, but apparently she was set free earlier. What the hell knew, you know?

So ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…

Kasumi Goto!

*Applause sign flashes*

Kasumi, wonderful of you to join us!

KG: I’m just glad to be out of there. Trust me, you’ve got no idea what it’s like having to suck up to that man.

Oh, I’m pretty sure I have a good idea, Kasumi. What made you come over here anyway?

KG: Well, since this chapter involves Tali…

Yeah, you and her are often considered BFFs in the fanon, aren’t ya?

KG: It’s too bad you never saw those parts in what I just got out of. Those were some… interesting conversations we had.

I guess it’s because she couldn’t shut up about Stupard.

KG: *nods* Yeah, that’s about it.

I thought as much. Anyway, we’ve got a lot of material to tackle here, so let’s get going with it.

Our chapter opens with this:

That conclusion came to them as an unnerving and real possibility. Shepard and Tali both stood there in the comm. room letting that revelation sink in.

“Where is the Migrant Fleet currently located?” Shepard asked Tali. “We need to get there as soon as possible and stop a war.”

KG: Huh. I didn’t think it would pick up right where the last chapter left off.

This is just great. The last thing this fic needed to do was to take a cue from Protective Secrets. Good Lord

“I’ll upload the current coordinates to the Normandy,” Tali said. “If I’m right, these coordinates are right outside of a mass relay that leads to our home system, just on the border of geth space. Shepard we have to stop this war. It could very well mean the extinction of my people.”

Well, she’s not wrong about that, if this possible outcome of the Rannoch missions in the actual ME3 is any indication. So yeah, there’s that.

“I won’t let that happen, Tali. EDI, I want you to connect me to the Guardian fleet commander.”

“Yes, Commander,” EDI said. “Connection established.”

KG: Oh, hey, look what the cat dragged in. I was wondering when I’d finally see one of these guys.

Wait, you mean you didn’t even get to see them? Weren’t you on the mobile station?

KG: Yeah, though someone apparently forgot to tell the author that I was still alive at that point, so I didn’t actually get to see anything. On the plus side, I did manage to nab this when nobody was looking. *presents a framed picture of a canvas completely painted over by the same shade of grey*

Uh… What is that?

KG: I nabbed this from some hotshot from the parallel galaxy. Apparently, this is a very famous work of art within their culture that was thought lost for years.

You’re… you’re kidding, right? This is seriously what they consider art? A completely grey-painted canvas. That’s art to these imbeciles.

KG: It was selling for five million credits there, too.

*rolls eyes*

Why am I not surprised?

The hologram of the tia’zu fleet commander appeared over the table. “Good day, Commander. What are your orders?”

“I need half the fleet to head to these coordinates,” Shepard ordered as he sent off the coordinates.

The Reapers are taking over Palaven? Oh, that’s not important. It’s making peace with the quarian people that really demands bringing in approximately six hundred and fifty six ships!

“The quarians are planning to go to war, and we need to convince them not to.”

“Yes, Commander.”

“But be sure to keep the ships cloaked. We don’t want to panic them.

“Yeah, we’ll just make them panic later instead of immediately. And don’t forget that this’ll make it really easy to intimidate them if they don’t do as we say! You know, ’cause that’s totally the Paragon way to approach this situation!”

KG: *hits buzzer twice*

Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 38

Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 19

*blinks*

KG: Hey, I am sitting right next to the buzzer.

Fair point, Kasumi. Fair point. You want to man the buzzers today?

KG: Well, I’m already here, so sure, why not?

Sweet!

Also bring the supply of formula QIS-V5″

“Of course. We will wait for further orders.” The tia’zu’s hologram blinked out.

“What’s formula QIS-V5?” Tali asked.

“The exact same solution I used on you two years ago,” Shepard answered. “It will be instrumental in helping the peace talk go through.”

“Then the time has come. My people can finally be free of our suits. We can finally go back home.”

“And I still love you, even though you held back a cure for the quarian people’s immune system issues and possibly contributed to the quarian-geth conflict getting to this point for no reason other than ‘because the plot said so’.”

KG: *cringes* Wow. I didn’t think anyone could ever do a horrible Tali impression, but that

I have a little too much testosterone to effectively do a good Tali, as I’m sure you know. So let’s just forget about it for now. Kasumi: the counters.

KG: *hits buzzer three times*

Our Hero Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 39

Our Allies Ladies And Gentlemen Count: 20

In The Name Of Plot Regurgitation Count: 10

Shepard took one of her hands. “That’s right, love. We’ll make this work. It’ll be difficult, but we’ll make it work.”

“Enough of my people have died trying to get my homeworld back. Have your people contacted Legion?”

“They speak from time to time to get updates. Rewriting the geth has stopped a civil war from breaking out, so we don’t have to worry about that. Legion is still on board for peace with your people. The only ones we need to convince are your people.”

And apparently, Tali is suddenly okay with Stupard having his ships cloak around the Migrant Fleet in the event that Stupard decides to intimidate the quarian people into making peace with the geth.

You know, for once I’m kind of glad that Stupard has that ability to make every inter-species conflict he gets close to suddenly become completely black and white and sickeningly easy to solve: at least that gives me the comforting feeling that he’ll convince the quarians to make peace with the geth so easily that he won’t need to intimidate either side into doing it.

The Normandy exited through the mass relay that connected to the system where the quarian fleet was staying in. The ships meant for battle were congregated away from the liveships, research and civilian vessels. Shepard, Tali and Wel’c, an exion operative, stood behind Joker’s chair.

KG: Wel’c? Didn’t you say he was never mentioned again?

No, see, ‘cause the last time we saw someone with a similar name, it was spelled with a ‘k’.

KG: Oh…

“Looks like they’re serious about going to war with the geth,” Joker commented.

“My sensors are picking up 5, 789 battle-ready vessels,” EDI noted. “Three which can be classified as dreadnaughts.”

KG: So I guess this means this guy is including the fighters in the Fleet Counts.

That, or the Migrant Fleet installed cannons on their liveships, as was alluded to in the actual ME3.

After that bit, Tali explains that the Migrant Fleet does indeed have dreadnaughts. I’m not sure why Stupard is surprised about that given that the Rayya is the size of a dreadnaught and all that, but I’m not going to address that point too much because I don’t care. So Tali goes about giving the password and all that, doing all the ‘we need a clean team to meet up with us’, and Joker makes a joke about Tali being allowed to order people on the Normandy when she’s not in the bedroom.

KG: And from there, it just goes on and on. *looks to me* You sure we can’t get this printed somewhere? I like to flip through the pages to get to the next interesting part.

Sorry, Kasumi, but it won’t look like an actual book. Besides, the feel of turning newly printed paper probably isn’t the same as turning pages of an old book.

KG: But that’s probably for the better. Half the time I was trying not to rip the pages in half.

*nod*

I’ll keep that in mind, then.

So after that, Stupard, Tali, and this random exion guy who will no doubt be immediately forgotten once the chapter ends all board the Neema this time (as opposed to the Rayya). They’re greeted by Kal’Reegar, another character who unfortunately got the shaft as far as the actual ME3 goes.

KG: Yeah, I can’t believe Bioware did that to Kal’Reegar either. Me? I’m just glad I didn’t get put on a bus to hell.

Yeah, you at least appeared.

So we get a bunch of introductions, and then everyone goes in and walks into the war room.

“I’ll be taking you to the war room,” Kal answered. “They will shut off all projections of their war plans as to ensure that no one outside the fleet will learn of what we plan to do.

Wait, so…  The quarian admirals are trying to make sure no one outside the Fleet will learn of their plans, and yet they’re allowing two ‘humans’ who might have connections to the top of the Alliance’s food chain to attend this briefing.

Sounds legit.

Please follow me. We can talk more while we head there.”

Kal turned and started walking along with the four other soldiers. Shepard, Tali and Wel’c followed behind as they went down the labyrinthine of corridors. Each of these corridors was almost exactly identical to one another.

“I heard you all made it into the galactic core and destroyed the collectors, nice work.”

“It was difficult but we made it through without losing anyone, thanks to Shepard’s leadership,” Tali said.

And to blatant wish fulfillment. You can’t forget to acknowledge the role that played there.

“Reminds me… I should give you two a heads-up that the Al-Jilani piece has aired.”

“Oh. What have been… What have been the reactions?”

KG: Oh. Well, this should be interesting.

Why?

KG: Well, in one of my conversations with Tali where she didn’t go on and on about how ‘awesome’ Stupard is, she told me the quarians are insular about relationships. It makes sense, you know: they do only have about 17 million quarians left.

Yeah, she kinda doesn’t like to act all lovey-dovey with Shepard whenever even Shala’Raan is around in the actual ME3…

KG: Well, I’m gonna prepare the cocktails. I think they’re gonna need them.

“Mixed. Though mostly positive. People just loved the verbal assault Shepard laid down against Al-Jilani. I can assure you that I’m happy for you two.”

“Thank you, Kal.”

Actually, we’re the ones who need those cocktails, Kasumi. Get to mixing them!

KG: Yes, sir! *mixes drinks*

So after that bit, we get treated to more inane dialogue, where Stupard and the gang ask Kal what he thinks of the war. Kal of course states ‘yeah, I don’t think war was a good idea, but I’m just gonna do what my superiors tell me to’, and then we get over to the war room.

The doors opened revealing a circular room that was dimly lit by red lights. At the center of the room was a projection of the planet Rannoch with the Admiralty Board standing around it. As the doors opened the image blinked out and the lights in the room went on. The admirals turned to face Shepard, Tali and Wel’c as they entered the room.

“Commander Shepard, it’s good to see you again,” Raan greeted.

Rael just glared at Shepard as he walked into the room.

*snort*

I love how Rael has given Stupard the only reaction that man really deserves upon walking into a room.

KG: Oh, you and me both. *holds drink* Hope you like sangria.

*takes sangria from Kasumi*

Oh, please, it’s the only thing I drink around here.

After that…

*groan*

After that, we basically get a massive exposition dump. Basically, Stupard explains a bunch of shit to the quarian admirals. He talks about Legion, he talks about how the geth want peace, Stupard talks about Legion’s loyalty mission, Rael’Zorah, Daro’Xen, and Han’Gerrel flip their shit, they accuse Stupard of trying to betray the Fleet and deny the fact that the geth are a race, the random exion flips his shit in return, and then Shala’Raan drops the bombshell.

“How dare you try to diminish the suffering we have faced. Our race is on the brink of extinction and yet you claim that Shepard has faced worse?”

“That he has.”

“How so?” Han demanded in anger.

“Because my race is extinct,” Shepard answered.

“How can you say such nonsense?” Daro dismissed. “You Earth may be under attack, but your race is hardly extinct.”

KG: Hey, wait, so Stupard is a planet now?

Apparently.

“Humanity is not his race,” Raan explained. The other admirals looked to her.

“What?” Han gasped.

“This was why I did not mention this earlier. Shepard is not a human, no matter how much he looks like one. He’s part of a race known as articians, whom have come from another universe.”

“That’s impossible!” Daro yelled.

Finally, the first sane reaction we’ve had to this reveal in the entire fucking ME3 arc!

KG: And it’s coming from the crazy one, too! This day just keeps getting better and better.

“Thanks to a worm hole in the Armstrong Cluster, it is possible for the races of my galaxy to come here. Shepard was the first of our people to come here. We came here as soon as our military was back to full power.”

“Judging by your friend’s eyes, I’m guessing he’s not a human either,” Raan observed.

“You would be right, admiral,” Wel’c said. “I am an exion.”

“An exion?” Han repeated.

“The exions are a race that was created by Shepard’s race,” Raan answered. “They’re a race of, as one of Shepard’s friends put it, electronic beings.”

It took a moment before that sunk in for the admirals.

Rael turned his head to Tali. “You brought an AI on this ship!”

“This is its very nature is treason,” Daro said. “You’ve been working with AIs.”

KG: You know, it’s funny how the admirals are. The last time we saw them it was Zaal’Koris who was the unreasonable ass. Now it’s pretty much the entire admiralty board.

Hm… Yeah, you’re right about that. I guess the parts of the quarian admiralty that gets bashed vary depending on when bashing various groups is convenient for the plot. Thanks, Kasumi!

KG: *hits buzzer*

Lynch Mob Target Count: 15

“She has been working towards bringing your people back to Rannoch with another life being lost!” Shepard yelled, finally losing his temper as their stubbornness finally went beyond the point of forgiveness.

KG: And there he goes again. I hope you’ve got a chest-high wall around here.

You can cloak, though, can’t you?

KG: Yeah, that’s true. Don’t mind me. *vanishes from sight*

“Tali has been working for me to ensuring the survival of two galaxies while at the same time working towards bettering your future. At this point, I don’t care about your opinion about synthetic life. I’m here to make an offer. Nothing more.

“This might lead to civil war between races later down the line, but who cares about dealing with dire situations like that?”

My people’s government is ready to offer your people a position in the Order. The Order is a form of government similar to the Council government but it is inclusive of all races associated with it. Not only would your people be offered a place in our government, but as the Prince of the articians people, I offer colonization and mining rights of all of my worlds.

And you didn’t just offer this before the quarians decided that attacking the geth would be a good idea because…?

The geth will return Rannoch back to you. The scientists of the Order have also developed this.” Shepard held out a vial of green liquid. “QIS-V5. It’s a formula that repairs your immune system. We now have enough for your entire population.”

Again, you didn’t just offer this before they decided that attacking the geth would be a good idea because…?

Oh, that’s right, because you’re a sociopathic imbecile who only thinks about himself!

The admirals decide to convene in private about this whole thing, and they go off and meet. Stupard and the gang all step outside, to which Kal then begins asking all the requisite questions:

“Is there something you wanted to say?”

“You and Shepard aren’t human,” Kal muttered in disbelief.

“No we’re not.”

“But you’re an AI.”

“Electronic entity or synthetic life,” Wel’c corrected.

KG: *becomes visible again* Is it over?

Yep, it’s over, Kasumi.

KG: Good. Those cloaks don’t last forever, you know. If they did, most of my heists would’ve been a lot easier.

True, true.

“You don’t look like or even sound like an AI.”

Wel’c’s eyes glowed brightly and Kal’s omni-tool lit up and Wel’c appeared looking like a VI model with an electronic voice. “Query: Perhaps meatbag expected an interface similar to this?”

*snort*

Okay, I have to admit that this HK-47 reference is actually pretty funny. It’s completely out of place, comes right the fuck out of nowhere, and involves a pretty big tonal clash with what we just saw, but think about it: in a world where “quip” has been misused almost non-stop, are you really going to complain?

Besides, it’s a more in-character HK-47 than the one present in that other fic that actually features HK-47—which says a lot, considering that this isn’t even HK-47 himself we’re talking about here!

So after this, Kal’Reegar basically gets converted to Stu worship (you know, like everybody else in this pile of ass), and then we cut to the admirals.

KG: Oh! Well, look at that, Stupard leaves the fic for a few seconds.

Yep. Thank Jeebus, am I right?

KG: *sips a margarita* Yep.

“I don’t see why we even need to discuss this any further,” Zaal sighed. “The human… The articians just came here offering everything our people could want or need. Our homeworld, colonies, technology, peace with the geth and a cure for our immune systems.”

KG: I dunno, Zaal, maybe it’s because it seems too good to be true?

“Because it seems too good to be true,” Daro countered. “Suddenly he appears and offers us all of this. I cannot be alone here to think that this offer seems a little suspicious.”

Wow. I didn’t think I’d ever agree with madwoman Daro’Xen on anything, but apparently that tends to happen when she’s the only one who remembered to bring her brain with her.

“All he asks for in return is that we don’t go to war with the geth and support the war against the reapers,” Raan clarified.

“And then that we write an entire oratorio that functions as a requiem to Stupard if he dies in this war. He wants us to call it Das Floß der Medusa…”

“And how do we know that the geth aren’t trying to trick Shepard and us into leading our people into an ambush?” Han asked.

KG: The thing I’d be asking is ‘why did he withhold that cure for our immune systems from the rest of us’, but that works too, I guess.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too.

So then Han asks for Rael’s opinion. Upon being asked that, Rael turns the question over to Shala’Raan, asking her how much she knew about Stupard. She then says this:

“Shepard was completely open about who and what he is,” Raan answered.

“And do you believe him?”

“Believe him? He showed me. I saw what became of his people and I know why we must trust him.”

Wait, so he did meld with you? Then why didn’t the narration make any indications to that effect?

Shala gives us the spiel about Stupard’s entire backstory and how Cerberus killed off his entire species. She states that Stupard wants to help the quarians because he knows what being on the brink of extinction is like and he doesn’t want the quarians to meet the same fate the articians did. (Not that this stopped him from performing a particular renegade interrupt earlier in this fic, but I digress.) Thankfully, it’s only a paragraph long, and it’s more about why Shala thinks they should agree with Stupard more than it is about Stupard being all “look at me, I have a trajeck past”, so I’ll give it a pass.

And then… we get this:

The admirals took a moment to ponder what she has said. It was Rael who finally broke the silence.

“We should take Shepard’s offer.”

“You cannot be serious,” Daro stated.

KG: I’m with the crazy lady on this.

Yeah, so am I.

“I am,” he reaffirmed. “I’m tired of watching our once proud people fall apart like the ships we currently inhabit. The idea of peace with the geth is laughable to me, but if Tali can trust Shepard and has seen it for herself, then I can overcome my own hatred for the machines of our past.” Rael looked to Han.

“I’d never thought I would say this, but if we can have our homeworld back, I’ll agree to peace with the geth,” Han said.

“Admiral Xen?” Raan said waiting for her response.

“Frankly, the idea of treating any AI as a person is ridiculous, but… I see where the wind is blowing and it wouldn’t be a good idea for my career to vote against having our world back without conflict.”

“Then it is unanimous.”

“Bring them back in,” Rael ordered.

*headdesk*

KG: Hey, look at the bright side: at least Stupard didn’t have to intimidate the quarians into making peace with the geth.

I know, Kasumi. It’s just… it’s still stupid, even if it’s the lesser of two literary evils.

So after this, Stupard gets admitted back in, the quarian admirals accept Stupard’s offer, and Stupard pretty much says the word to bring Legion over. So then Rael says he wants to talk to Stupard and Tali in private.

KG: Oh, dear. This isn’t gonna end well.

Shepard and Tali followed Rael through the backroom door. It was a fairly small office room with just a computer desk. Rael leaned against the wall. “What are your intentions with my daughter?”

“I love her with all my heart and wish to marry her,” Shepard immediately replied.

“Tali?”

“I love him, father.”

“What about your future together?” Rael questioned. “It’s not like you can have children.”

Wait, hold on. Your daughter is sleeping with a person from an alien race that you only just found out existed, he’s withheld a cure from your people because the plot said he had to, he came to you talking about how AIs are not the devil, and the thing you’re concerned about is whether or not he can father her children?

KG: Well, he does have a point. I mean, the quarian people have only what, seventeen million people?

Hm. That is true, now that I think about it. Yeah… That would be a concern, wouldn’t it?

*sips sangria*

“I know that, but-” Tali tried to get out but Shepard quickly interrupted.

“Actually we can.”

*spits out sangria*

What!?

“Wh-What?”

“We can have children.”

“How is that even possible?” Rael asked surprised.

KG: Do tell. I’m interested to hear this as well.

Kasumi, don’t encourage him. It has never ended well whenever I’ve actually asked.

KG: What? It’s not like he can violate the laws of biology, right?

“My specie’s population was on the decline before the extinction event Cerberus wrought on us. Rapid decline. My people have been falling in love with those of other races at greater numbers. And our ability to modify our own genetic code wasn’t some unusually specific ability for us to disguise ourselves from scanners. We had this ability to allow us to evolve faster to keep up with our environment, and eventually when we interacted with other races, we were able to mimic them allowing us to procreate with them. But the child would always be that of the other race. For the time being my genetics is human, but I can change it to quarian.”

KG: *winces*

Stupard can willingly change his entire genetic code so that it resembles that of a completely different species.  And he can do that so he can conveniently avoid the parenthood hurdles of being in an interspecies relationship that might otherwise make things interesting in their married life.

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Biology does not work like that! Kasumi, hit the buzzers!

KG: Sure thing! *hits buzzer twice*

Ass Pull From Hell Count: 16

Wish Fulfillment Outcome Count: 13

Wow, it’s been a while since we added anything to that counter, hasn’t it?

KG: Yep.

Shepard looked to Tali with loving eyes. “I can give you a family, Tali.”

“Shepard,” she gasped while embracing him. “I didn’t think…”

“It’s alright,” he cooed. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I didn’t think of mentioning it while we were still fighting the reapers.”

Neither did the narration, apparently: the fact that this information was never brought up before this point is a bit suspect. I mean, seriously, you know a reveal about a species’ trat is bad when it completely defies the laws of biology: and let’s not even mention the fact that it makes the entire artician race an even bigger Mary Sue race than they were before. (Seriously, did InHarmsWay use his 10th grade Biology class to catch up on sleep? ‘Cause that’s what it looks like he did!)

So after this comes out, Rael says that he supports their relationship, and that he’s going to be a better father to Tali from there on out. Oh, this scene is so incredibly sappy that it almost demands—

KG: *hits buzzer*

Wish Fulfillment Outcome Count: 14

*blinks*

KG: Hey, we all knew where that was going. You’re welcome. *wink*

So after that, we cut to Ash and Liara.

KG: Hey, that’s two scenes without Stupard in this chapter!

I know, right? This is gonna be great!

*sips sangria*

Ashley was hard at work doing regular maintenance on the ground team’s weaponry. This work was simple enough that she could let her mind wonder. Lately it’s been asking questions that she has no answers to. Ashley heard the door open.

Liara walked into the armoury and saw Ashley. “Williams.”

“Liara. What are you doing here?”

“Taking a break from examining Intel. Very rough business. Did you know that Udina was responsible for Shepard’s death?”

*spits out sangria*

What the hell!?

Ash placed the assault rifle she held back onto the table. She spun around. “What?”

“Exion operatives were able to get this information while interrogating him. That was how the collectors knew when and where to attack. Because Udina leaked this information.”

How the hell does this make any sense? Udina was working with Cerberus, and that somehow means he gave the Collectors the location with which to attack Stupard? Okay, fair enough, but why the hell would Udina do that if Cerberus was just going to resurrect Stupard anyway on orders of the Illusive Man!? What the fuck was Udina hoping to accomplish by having the Collectors kill Stupard right there? Was it to make it easier for the Collectors ? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that having technology years beyond anything the ME galaxy has would sort of negate the need for that, particularly since they’re busy killing geth who have been worshipping the Reapers! Or, hell, maybe the Collectors lured the Normandy there by shooting down several Alliance vessels–you know, the explanation that the canon brought up in a few quick lines at the start of Mass Effect 2!

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

But wait! It gets better!

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ashley stopped her. “I thought Cerberus didn’t work with the reapers until after the Bahak system situation. What’s you’re saying is that Udina worked with the reapers before then.”

See? Even your fellow Stu worshipper knows this makes no sense!

“It’s a bit more complicated than that. What we’ve gathered, the reason why so little of Sovereign was recovered was because Udina worked with Cerberus to acquire the reaper’s remains. He was also in charge of overseeing the usage of the remains making sure it was being used in their best interest since they had a limit amount of it.

KG: Wait. So when Cerberus steals pieces of Sovereign from the Citadel, it’s a bad thing. But when Stupard and the parallel galaxy do the exact same thing, it’s good.

I know! Talk about double standards!

My guess is over timeframe of a month, he became indoctrinated. This means that Cerberus has had reaper agents within their group for years now.”

Then why didn’t these Reaper-indoctrinated agents try to sabotage the Lazarus Project!? Why didn’t the indoctrinated agents within Cerberus pose as the people who were going to run the Lazarus Project!? Didn’t the Reapers want Shepard’s body between ME1 and ME2!? Wasn’t the fact that the Collectors were trying to get Shepard’s body to the Reapers the force that drove the entire conflict of the Redemption comic!? You expect me to believe that none of these Reaper-indoctrinated agents even tried to sabotage the project that was bringing Shepard back to life and thus messing up the Reapers’ plans!?

*drops hand on table*

Oh, forget it! Just add it to the list, Kasumi!

KG: *hits buzzer twice*

Ass Pull From Hell Count: 17

Lynch Mob Target Count: 16

“So what is going to happen to Udina?” Ashley asked. She leaned against the maintenance table.

“It largely depends largely on politics,” Liara replied matter-of-factly. “Once the reaper war is over, the Order will demand custody over Udina. They will then execute him.”

I don’t know why the hell the Order doesn’t just push for the Alliance to kill Udina now (particularly after Balak’s execution in Chapter 43), but then again the Order is a group of idiots, so I’m not that surprised.

“Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

Oh, trust me, it could.

Right, Stupard!?

“Even though he was indoctrinated, he still gave away information that led to Shepard’s death and worked with a terrorist organization for malicious goals. Have you tried delving into their history and culture?”

“I’m a soldier, Liara,” Ashley said in a half-joking tone. “Not much into large scale research into race cultures and such.”

KG: That’s odd, coming from someone who sometimes quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I mean, yeah, I could see you not being into the cultures of different alien races, but quoting the ‘I’m a soldier’ bit as an excuse for why you don’t know much about them? Somehow, this is both in character and out of character at the same time.

“The Order has a fascinating history and culture, you should make the time to read up on them. Did you know they don’t have currency in their galaxy?”

Really? They could’ve fooled me.

“Bullshit!” Ashley accused. “They would have to have an economy.”

KG: Well, they could’ve had an early civilization’s economy, where they bartered goods rather than trading money for goods.

Yeah, but this is a civilization that’s been around for many thousands of years! You’d think that they would have developed the concept of a currency-based economy by now!

“They do, but it based on work merit. They use only what they need.

So it’s essentially a meritocracy. It’s that, and a monarchy if the infodumps from the ME1 arc say anything: you know, that system of government which has historically run on some people being more “meritable” than the rest of the populace for whatever BS reason the kings of the nation can come up with.

From what I’ve learned from the exions, despite being a prince, Shepard lived in a home no large than my apartment.

KG: The exions of course neglected to mention the size of everybody else’s living spaces as a point of comparison, but I’m sure that’s not important at all!

And this all works as they have zero poverty and little to no crime.”

There is also “little to no crime” in Cuba. If you go by the Marxist view of ‘poverty’, there is technically no poverty amidst Cuba’s non-ruling class. Except that there is widespread poverty in Cuba, and to suggest otherwise (as I have here for the sake of argument) is entirely disconnected from reality. Oh yeah, and the only reason that there is no crime in Cuba is because they have a strict police force that also has a history of making lots and lots of politically-charged arrests aimed at intimidating the populace into being good little sheep.

Having a country that has little to no crime and no poverty does not necessarily mean that it’s a place where everyone is rich and safe. “No crime and/or no poverty” is not always a function of benevolence on the part of the ruling class, and to suggest otherwise is incredibly ignorant and shockingly naïve.

“They sound perfect.”

Not to me, they don’t. In fact, this whole explanation of what Stupard’s society was like comes off more as “the parallel galaxy was a massive police state with a kangaroo Council that is ineffective and inherently biased to one side” rather than “the parallel galaxy is noble and virtuous”.

*downs the rest of the sangria*

I’m probably gonna wake up with a hangover from that, but at this point, I don’t—.

KG: *BAM*

Ow! *cups face in hand* What the hell was that for, Kasumi? Alma is supposed to be used on the author, not the snarker!

KG: You were getting really serious there for a second. I had to find some way to snap you out of it.

Oh. I must not have realized that…

Right. Moving on.

“Almost, but they were somewhat too trusting after eons of peace. Cerberus was sure to take advantage of that.

I’d make a snide comment at that, but really, that line speaks for itself.

So, you looked like you were deep in thought.”

“Somewhat, yeah.”

“What about?”

“Still getting my head around this whole parallel universes thing. What really bothers me is how much the articians look like humans. What are the odds?”

KG: Pretty high, considering what you’re in.

“Infinite,” Liara replied. “The concept of multi-verses is a grand concept that would be hard for anyone to understand. There could be universes where the only difference is that you decided to get out of bed with your right foot instead of your left. Some universes can be drastically different like in the case of Shepard’s universe. And there could even be a universe where this is all just a story told in one medium or another.”

“Okay, now that spooks me.”

*BAM*

Don’t try to randomly make your story metafictional for no reason at all, InHarmsWay: it just makes you look pretentious at this point.

KG: Tell me about it.

So then, that conversation ends with a little line from Ash, and then we transition to Legion meeting the admirals. Legion says that the geth are willing to return Rannoch to the quarians, but a situation came up that needs to be taken care of first: basically, the Reapers are building a base on Rannoch. The geth would do something about it, but the area is geth-proof thanks to some field that takes over the runtimes of any geth in the nearby area (that apparently arose out of Project Overlord, by the way: again, why the hell did InHarmsWay skip the Overlord DLC if it was gonna be important to the plot!?), and a blast shield that guards the base. So then it’s decided that Stupard can go in and open the blast doors and try to mark the target.

KG: And they don’t just skip the ‘mark the target’ thing and have a Guardian dreadnaught use that Pillar of Light weapon they have that can literally drill holes into a planet because…?

KG: Oh. Right. *hits buzzer*

In The Name Of Plot Regurgitation Count: 11

KG: Oh yeah, and we get this, too:

“Just in case, I have half of the Guardian fleet here to join us.”

“The Guardian fleet?”

“They have been cloaked this whole time.”

“And why were they here?”

“Precautions,” Shepard replied. “A war just nearly erupted between your people and the geth. The fleet was willing to subdue ships to put a stop to an unnecessary war.”

Well, at least Stupard has actually admitted that he was gonna intimidate the quarian people into making peace with the geth if talking didn’t work. That’s a step above a lot of his other actions, trust me.

“You were willing to attack us?” Han said angrily.

“Subdue,” Shepard corrected. “It would be for both sides. Our ships would be able to do that without causing any harm to either fleet.

Yeah, and since that would have you de-cloak and use the parallel galaxy’s naval war methods that were shown to us way back in Chapter 22, that could technically qualify as an attack. Don’t try to pretty it up, Stupard: it would still qualify as an attack, and Han’Gerrel has every right to be pissed off at you for that.

So anyway, after that, basically the entire rest of the chapter is sort of like plot regurgitation, only not really. We’re gonna skip most of it, ‘cause a lot of it is—you guessed it—poorly paced, dialogue heavy action bits.

The Normandy flew in through Rannoch’s atmosphere and cloaked as it did. Shepard and his team waited in the shuttle. The cargo bay doors opened and the shuttle flew out. Tali immediately glued herself to the window when they exited the Normandy.

“Keelah, look at it,” she gasped. “I-It’s home.”

Shepard went beside her and looked out with her. The landscape was filled with rocky mountains and plateaus. Forests covered the land and a river flowed down the landscape. The landscape was beautiful. If they didn’t know where they were, they would have believed this to be an untouched garden world that was ripe for colonization.

“It’s really home. Rannoch. The world I have been told stories about my whole life. None of it compares to seeing it like this. It’s so beautiful.”

Ashley glanced outside the viewport. “It’s nice.”

“I’m here to fight, not look at landscape,” Grunt mumbled.

I’ll forgive Tali this one little bit of amazement, since she gets rather amazed when she’s able to step on her homeworld for the first time in-canon anyhow.

So then we get a bunch of dialogue about fairly inconsequential topics, and I can only assume that InHarmsWay realized “oh shit, I need to actually get some character development in here” and has decided to [very poorly] emulate the style of Quentin Tarantino to do that. Not that it’ll work because we already hate the parallel galaxy and everybody associated with them, but a man can try I guess.

“Geth!” Ashley called out.

A couple of geth came onto the walkway above and opened fire on their position.

“Take them out!” Shepard ordered.

Tali used shield drain to take away the shielding on the two geth. “Shields down!”

Garrus and Vega aimed with their sniper rifles and fired. The shots tore the two geths right in half. The torso of the second geth fell to their level.

“Look at that,” Liara said. “These geth were painted over.”

“Cerberus insignias,” Jack growled.

“What is with Cerberus and getting their logos over everything?” Shepard asked in confusion. “It just seems to go against being a shadow ops group.”

KG: Well, that kind of stopped happening when ME3 came around, let’s be honest here.

Good point. And it’s not like that statement that ‘Cerberus logos are on everything’ is even true, anyway: as I recall, I didn’t see a single Cerberus emblem anywhere in the actual ME1.

“It’s odd that you would be so confused about the logo thing and not everything else about them.”

“I can understand why they are the way they are but this logo thing is just bugs me.”

Dude, if you understand that they’re the way they are because they do things for the evulz, then I have no idea why the hell you’re so surprised about the whole logo thing.

“We can talk about product placements later,” Ashley scorned the two.

I have no idea how the hell this counts as “product placement”, but whatever, I’ll just roll with it.

KG: Maybe Cerberus has a brand of brandy I could buy?

Well, why would anyone want to buy it if they know it’s directly associated with Cerberus?

KG: You are no fun, Herr.

So Stupard and the gang go through a bunch of poorly paced action, and then they wake up the Reaper.

“Shepard to fleet!” he called out through his comm. “The reaper base is a reaper! Repeat, the base is a reaper. I need the Leviathan to charge up the Pillar of Light.”

“It will take time to charge,” the ship’s captain replied.

I’d ask why Stupard didn’t just have that Pillar of Light thing ready to go then, but it’s not worth asking at this point, especially when they could’ve just done that to the base in the first place and skipped this whole bit entirely.

So they get the quarian fleets to do an orbital strike, which of course doesn’t work. So they do that, and then the Reaper prepares to fire a beam at Stupard and a little carrier that Legion is piloting when…

Just when the beam weapon reached its peak charge. A voice called out over the comm. “Let the darkness be incinerated by the light.” A large white beam of light came from the sky like a holy light from the heavens and impacted the reaper and the area it occupied. The roared and squealed as it was bombarded by the pillar. The screams soon died down and any movement within the light ceased. The width of the beam of light shrank until it just vanished. In its wake was a wide and deep hole.

“Legion, turn the vehicle back,” Shepard ordered. “Let’s see what’s left.”

“Acknowledged.”

Legion drove up to the hole and parked the vehicle. Everyone stepped out and joined Shepard at the edge of the hole. There was nothing left inside the hole. The surface inside the hole was completely glassed over and any remnants of the reaper were gone.

And these Pillar of Light weapons are capable of completely obliterating a Reaper.

KG: And Stupard would not shut up about the whole ‘Council subjugation’ bit. You sure you got this covered on the buzzers?

Oh, trust me, Kasumi, I more than covered it.

KG: I’ll bet. I didn’t think I’d see glassing outside of Halo, but there you have it.

*frown*

Wait, you know what Halo is?

KG: Oh yeah. Keiji used to play it all the time.

Hm. Sounds like a story for another day.

KG: You bet.

So after this, the chapter wraps up. Stupard explains that the Pillar of Light is useless in space battles, he tells the quarian fleet to bomb the rest of the base, Zaal and the admirals fawn over the fact that they’re no longer a Migrant Fleet, and Stupard tells Rael that they have to go to Thessia now to activate the last of the Reaper temples.

And we end with this:

Shepard wrapped his arms around Tali. “This nightmare is almost over, my love. Almost over.

Well, Stupard isn’t wrong, given that we only have two more chapters left to snark. So yeah…

And once the war has ended, we can come back here and start to build our lives here.”

“A house on the homeworld,” she cooed.

I cannot wait to see how sappy your domestic life is.

KG: Yeah, neither can I. You think their lives will be made into a Leave It To Beaver style sitcom?

I doubt it, but you have to admit that such a show would be a great way to brutally deconstruct those kinds of sitcoms.

KG: Yeah, they would wouldn’t they?

Yep. Well, Kasumi, it’s been an honor having you here with us.

KG: Hey, if you need anything else, let me know.

I’ll be sure to do that, Kasumi.

Stay tuned, patrons. Only two more chapters to go, and we’ll be done with this piece of ass.


18 Comments on “418: Parallel Realities – Chapter Forty-Six”

  1. erttheking says:

    Funny, I was thinking of turning my reviews into a double act too. Although I was going to use a psychopathic doctor. To each his own

  2. Delta XIII says:

    My God, there’s so much stupid in one place I can feel my sanity starting to crack.

    As a precaution, I’m going to be moving my Stupard Protection Kit (patent pending) into my secret lair in the space between spaces. It’s basically a sort of pocket dimension that exists outside of the known universe.
    Nice place. Kinda quiet, but you get used to it. Plus, it’ll help mitigate the damage that will be caused by the flames of my rage.
    S: Mine too!
    …oh, right, you haven’t been introduced. This is Steven. He’s the voice in my head. He started out as an OC for a fanfic I was planning, but then I realised that I have no writing talent at all, so I made him into a split personality instead.
    S: I’m the crazy one!
    …he’s a bit hard to control.

    Well, better get started on padding the walls.

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      I don’t think even a pocket dimension will save you from the amount of utter stupid that shows up in the next chapter. Make sure you line the padding with SWAT gear as well…

      • Delta XIII says:

        Oh, the pocket dimension’s not meant to save me from the stupid, it’s meant to save my house from getting destroyed when I start raging.
        S: Besides, we couldn’t afford to get the whole house padded, so we’re moving to a small one-room apartment in the space between spaces. It’s safer for everyone.

  3. Delta XIII says:

    Well, I have inadvertently destroyed a few alternate universes here and there.
    S: And that one very unlucky dirigible.
    That too.

    You ever destroyed an alternate universe before? It’s a real bitch to clean up, and then you get lectured at by omnipotent bureaucrats, you wake up hungover for about a week and you have to survive on frozen dinners that you’ll just end up puking back out because of the hangover. Not pretty.
    S: But since the space between spaces is outside of existence, there’s no need to worry. Mostly.

  4. Leobracer says:

    All work and no playmates eh?
    I am not looking forward to how stupid this story is going to get.
    In the meantime, I’ll make a checklist of what I have in the arsenal for when the stupidity reaches its peak.

  5. TacoMagic says:

    “So what is going to happen to Udina?” Ashley asked. She leaned against the maintenance table.

    I can’t help but feel that the author missed the opportunity to use the best line to come out of Homeworld.

    “The subject did not survive interrogation.”

  6. Pillar of light useless in space battles? This is definitely another “in the name of plot regurgitation” moment. That super-mega-death-beam is NOT useless in space. All you’d have to do is position your ship so that the underside (where I assume the beam comes out from) is directly facing the enemy ship.

    Oh Parallel Galaxy, your stupidity surprises me even now.

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      Oh, just wait until you get to the final chapter. There’s a Pillar of Light use that directly contradicts what the narrative says here.

  7. This actually made me think about another bit if stupidity in the design of articians. The whole “DNA constantly changing” is pure bullshit. No tehnobabble can save it, its bullshit. How an organism looks on the outside is directly connected to it’s DNA. People with gentic diseases were born like that. Its IN their DNA.

    Articianca should NOT be able to change at will. They should be like the vorcha, just changing to suit their environment. If they did change their DNA, this should directly change their physical features. One extra or less chromosome? There should be very noticeable differences from humans.

    If they did somehow change their DNA, they should look like it. If an artician changes her/his DNA to match with another race to mate with the another race, they shouldn’t be able to remain looking like humans, since the human look is the result of human DNA.

    Sincerely,
    Someone who passed highschool biology.

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      I’m pretty sure that someone with even a basic understanding of middle school biology would call bullshit on the whole DNA bit.

      Unless his school taught creationism in the classroom. Which is highly unlikely, considering that creationism isn’t an issue in Canada. At least, not from what I’ve heard.

      • Nah, even Catholic schools here teach all about adaptation and evolution and DNA.

        I’m guessing he was never educated in the first place, or decided to screw what he learned to give Stupard another Asspull power.

        • Herr Wozzeck says:

          It probably is that. Because why the fuck should any couple have to deal with talking about stuff like adoption, am I right?

    • leobracer says:

      You know, its mentioned that every person in the parallel galaxy was injected with nanobots.

      And since Tali was injected with nanobots early on in the story, I think that would sound like a better excuse for an interspecies couple to be able to have kids.

      Its still bullshit, but its not as bullshit as the whole ‘Articians can change their DNA’ bullshit.

    • The Crowbar says:

      Well, from what I remember, I’m pretty sure everything in PR was bullshit wrapped around cowshit.


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