423: Parallel Realities – Chapter Forty-SevenPosted: March 28, 2013
Title: Parallel Realities
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
URL: Parallel Realities: Chapter 47
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello once again, patrons, and welcome back to Parallel Realities. Well, we’ve got two chapters left to snark at in this damn thing, so I think we’re good to get going on it right away.
And it’s just as well, too. Remember that reveal I mentioned way back when I did the ME1 arc? Remember the plot twist that Taco had to redact from erttheking’s snarking of From Another World Parallel Realities: The Slightly Improved Rip-Off? Well, you’ll finally see that reveal, and trust me, if your brain is not melting from the severe stupid contained within just that reveal alone, I’ll be very afraid for your sanity.
So let’s not waste any more time. Trust me, I want to be done with this piece of crap as much as you guys. Let’s get going, patrons.
So we open with a conversation with the Council. (Oh, goody, one of these again.) It starts with Stupard telling the Council that he hasn’t stopped by Thessia yet ‘cause he was busy dealing with the quarians and the geth. The Council accepts this explanation, commenting that the quarians and the geth will both be a great asset to the war effort. After that, the conversation continues:
“Though this isn’t why I’m calling,” Shepard interrupted. “I wanted to confirm these coordinates I’ve received. If I’m right, then this places your research facility-”
“Right under an Ardat-Yakshi sanctuary,” Tevos finished.
“Who wants to go near a building filled with Ardat-Yakshi. These people still face a great amount of fear from the asari population. Viewed similarly as succubae in human lore. To be fair, they do share a great amount of similarities. So the public stays away from the sanctuary. The STG stay away for similar reasons.”
I’m sure we would’ve had a wonderful crash course in what Ardat-Yakshis really are and how they’re a bad thing if InHarmsWay hadn’t skipped Samara’s loyalty mission, but whatever.
To be fair to InHarmsWay, though, this set-up at least makes more sense than having the Temple of Athame sit out in the open the way it did in the actual ME3. (Seriously, there was a prothean beacon in that temple and nobody accidentally revealed where it was? Nobody noticed that most of the artifacts in there were actually of prothean origin?) Actually, a lot of things about the Temple of Athame in canon are pretty stupid, so for once I can’t fault InHarmsWay for the original ideas he has surrounding the Thessia temple.
The asari councilor tells Stupard that Samara will be meeting Stupard there (Oh hey, another ME2 character comes in!). She then further tells Stupard that Samara saw some troops attempting to infiltrate the facility.
“Cerberus,” Shepard muttered.
“Yes, your old friends,” Velarn added.
“They are no friends of mine,” Shepard growled. “And I would appreciate that you stop your damn snide comments about me working undercover months ago. I did what I did to harm them further while you take any opportunity to criticize me you racist bastard.”
“Watch your mouth, artician,” Velarn hissed. “You need me to have the hierarchy back you.”
“Do I? Maybe you should speak to Septimus or the millions of other turians who watched me save your world. Do not put so much importance into yourself without knowing what your limitations are.”
“As should you,” Velarn said while barring his teeth.
“I know my limitations.
Stupard ends the conversation after informing the Council that the exions are busy upgrading the quarians’ fleet. We then cut to Thessia, where Stupard tells his ground team what’s up, and then his ground team chats exposition about what an Ardat-Yakshi is and what a justicar is. After that infodump (which we didn’t just get in the ME2 arc when we first met Samara because this author doesn’t understand what the word ‘pacing’ means), they land, and find the sanctuary.
The fortress looked like a grey futuristic version of a Romanian castle. The building was smooth made from material similar to the buildings in the city, but the architecture was at least eons old. The fortress was a pentagram. Each corner was a spire with a wide base that curved inwards and upwards to create a tower. The walls that connected each spire were fifty feet tall. The fortress’ lights were out all over making it look more intimidating.
“Is there any way they could have made it look more like a horror movie set?” Jack asked rhetorically.
“You sure there are no monsters in there?” Ashley asked jokingly.
You know, InHarmsWay, there are times where it’s okay to invoke the visual design of the old Universal monster flicks. You picked one time to invoke that visual design, and it’s the fucking wrong one!
“No monsters, but many tortured souls,” a voice said behind her.
Ashley jumped and turned while pulling out her pistol. The figure behind he went in close and grabbed her hands quickly putting her into a lock. The others reacted by taking a step back and reaching for their weapons.
“No weapons,” Shepard ordered. Everyone complied and stopped. “Easy Samara, we need her in one piece.”
Lightning flashed revealing Samara in her black outfit.
“You really should tell your friend here to be more sensitive,” she said.
Okay, why is Samara so trigger-happy in this fic? I swear to God, if Samara were any more jumpy people would start mistaking her for Harry Callahan’s long-lost grandmother!
“Are you going to let her go?”
“Of course, Commander.” Samara released Ashley from her grip.
“Samara this is Ashley Williams and this is James Vega,” Shepard introduced the two. “Ash, Vega, this is Samara.”
“A pleasure,” she said while smiling.
“You just attacked me,” Ashley accused.
“After you reached for your weapon. I merely put you into a lock. Nothing harmful compared to what I usually do to those who try to pull a weapon on me. But you are a part of Shepard’s crew and I am bound by my oath to him.”
“Oh. Well, when you put it that way… No, sorry, it still makes you a jumpy bitch.”
“What’s the situation?” Shepard queried.
“I observed Cerberus dropships come in dropping off soldiers,” Samara replied. “I estimate there are no less than three dozen soldiers. They were also carrying in equipment. I could not get a good view of what they were bringing in.”
“Why didn’t you go in?” Ashley asked.
“I have faced large forces before, but Cerberus is unlike any enemy I have faced before, other than the collectors. They were well armed and I have heard reports from other forces fighting Cerberus that they have deployed assassins who are able to negate dark energy attacks.
Hm. Well, that actually makes a certain amount of sense: Samara’s greatest asset is the fact that she’s an extraordinarily powerful biotic. If there are troops there that can negate that, then there’s not a whole lot she can do about it. So yeah.
Now that you are all here, we need to get inside that sanctuary and repel Cerberus.”
“Then let’s do it,” Shepard said.
“Though before we head out, there’s something you should know. I have two daughters in there.”
“Two other daughters?”
Falere and Rila, no doubt.
“Falere and Rila. They were sent here when it was realized that they were Ardat-Yakshi. Morinth, my youngest daughter, was the one who escaped. I… I haven’t spoken to them since I took the Oath of Solitude.”
I’m not sure how Stupard doesn’t already know this given that this information is given in Samara’s Shadow Broker dossier, but whatever.
Personally, I’m wondering why InHarmsWay ever skipped Samara’s loyalty mission if the Ardat-Yakshi are going to be an important plot element all of a sudden. I mean, I’m pretty sure that people who don’t know the Mass Effect canon all that well would be confused as hell about all of these plot elements that are coming out of nowhere!
“How long ago was that?” Liara asked.
“Over four hundred years ago.”
“Four- Four hundred years?” Ashley gasped.
“I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been for you,” Tali said.
“The life of a justicar is not an easy one. I became a justicar to erase the darkness I inadvertently brought into this galaxy. In taking the Oath of Solitude, I gave up my old life. Samara isn’t even my true name.”
Okay, InHarmsWay, here’s a pro-tip: if there’s a major plot element you’re only introducing within the last two chapters of the story, you’re doing something wrong. If that plot element only plays a part of the story for one chapter, you’re really doing something wrong. And if you had an opportunity to show us that plot element in action earlier and yet you refused to do it, then you are a terrible story teller!
Jesus Christ, E.L. James can tell a story better than InHarmsWay.
“We’ll find them, Samara,” Shepard assured her. “We shouldn’t waste time here.”
“Right, Commander. Lead the way.”
What follows is yet another dialogue-heavy action scene that is still way too short for comfort. So then Stupard and the gang take out a bunch of Cerberus guys, and then they find that the sanctuary is literally caked with asari blood.
“Asari blood,” Shepard answered. “Everywhere. It looks like we were too late.”
“No…” Samara muttered solemnly.
“It’s not your fault Samara. You couldn’t have done anything.”
His words did little to ease her guilt.
I’m sure that if we could flash over to Samara’s expression or the way her body moves upon seeing this, that whole “Samara is feeling guilty” thing you’re trying to get across would be much more believable than it actually is at the moment.
You know, because of that one principle I’ve been yelling about a lot. What was it called again? Hm…
SHOW, DON’T TELL!
“Where are the bodies?” Liara asked. “There’s blood, but no bodies.”
“The Illusive Man was interested in having his people examine an Ardat-Yakshi’s body after we took care of Morinth,” Shepard answered.
And you know this, how, exactly? Oh wait, I forgot: Cerberus is a cartoony caricature of itself in this fic. Sorry, I kinda forgot that all-important detail.
After this, Stupard and the gang continue on, noticing that there are no more Cerberus soldiers. However, when they get to a chapel within this sanctuary, they find an asari just sitting there. James notes that something is off with this asari’s heat signature; but it’s still an asari, so they approach anyway.
Shepard had his pistol aimed at her. “M’am?” he called out to her. He inched closer and closer. “M’am are you alright? We’re here to help.”
Shepard was close enough to tell that the woman was definitely an asari. She had no clothes on, tubes around her shoulder, longer fringes and was in a fetal position.
It’s a husk.
She was breathing; in fact it looked like she was weeping. Shepard signalled his team to stop in place.
She’s got tubes in her neck and an unusually long fringe! That should be the first sign that she’s a husk!
“M’am?” Shepard tried again.
She’s a husk, dumbass! Just shoot her already!
The asari looked up and slowly got to her feet. Her breathing was louder and raspier. The asari was tall. Very tall. She was at least a foot or two taller than Shepard. The asari turned around and faced the group. Lightning flashed giving the group a true view of the asari.
She had tubes all over her thighs and arms. Along with her fringes, the asari abomination had several horns giving it a demonic appearance and her face resembled a skull. Her ribcage was visible under her skin and her stomach was bloated. Its arms were long enough that her hands went past her knees. The asari husk’s fingers were elongated and clawed at the ends. Its body had several lights on it such as over her third-eye and a light to replace each nipple. These lights became brighter as she was more active.
The asari breathed in with a raspy noise and screamed loudly. It was loud enough to make everyone cover their ears. Dark energy flowed around its body.
“Husk!” Shepard yelled.
Gee, ya think!?
The dark energy filled pulled Shepard inwards towards her. Shepard wasn’t able to break free from it.
“John, break out of it!” Tali cried out.
Shepard’s biotic abilities seem to be temporarily disabled inside the dark energy field. He pulled out his sword and swung it. The blade went right through the banshee’s neck decapitating the husk. Shepard was dropped to the ground where he landed kneeling on one knee. The banshee’s lights went dim as its body fell to the ground.
Well, that was anticlimactic.
“Sure showed that bitch who’s boss,” Jack commented.
“Jack that was a reaper victim!” Liara scorned.
Because clearly, this “Reaper victim” should be given more respect than the other “Reaper victims” that you and your friends have gunned down indiscriminately throughout the entire rest of this fic.
“You alright, Shepard?” Garrus asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Shepard replied. “That energy field just drained me of my power, made it near impossible to do anything.”
So banshees apparently cancel out alpha energy/biotics in this fic. I’d almost walk right up to them to give them a hug if they didn’t turn out to be such annoyingly difficult enemies to kill in the actual ME3…
He noticed Samara crouched by the husk’s body. “Samara?”
“It’s Falere,” she said. Samara picked up her daughter’s head.
“My daughter… What have they done to you?”
Hold on… What does a Banshee look like again?
That’s what I thought. Okay, here’s my question:
How the hell does Samara recognize that it’s Falere!?
“We will make Cerberus answer for what they have done,” Shepard assured her. “I know this is hard, but we have to keep going.”
“I know, Commander. Falere, may the goddess accept you into her embrace.” Samara got to her feet. “I haven’t spoken to or seen her for over four hundred years. I only wish I could have seen her at least one more time.”
“I wish there was something I could say to help you feel better, but I know the feeling,” Shepard said. “You feel that there might have been something you could have done or maybe something you felt you should have done before tragedy has struck. We can’t know what fate may bring, but we can try to make the best of the time we do have with those we love. We keep the memories of those lost to us in our hearts and minds and live on in their name. We can make sure that what happened to Falere will not happen to anyone else. So as long as we keep fighting for them.”
“You’re right, Commander. Please lead the way. Falere’s burial can wait till after the temple is activated.”
You know, I’m sure this scene would have a lot more emotional impact if we were actually shown Samara being in pain rather than having her just tell us how much pain she’s in. But then, it would also be better if we had established that Samara loves her other two daughters well before the middle of this chapter, so there’s really nothing else I can do.
After this, we get a long dialogue-heavy action scene which I am going to skip yet again. I think you know how the formula goes by now:
- Stupard finds mooks.
- The mooks sort of sit there.
- Stupard attacks the mooks.
- The mooks are completely owned.
- Stupard and his friends engage in conversation.
- Rinse and repeat until they get to the temple’s boss.
And who’s the boss of this particular temple, you might ask?
Eventually the team made it to the main chamber. A husk stood at the center of the chamber. This asari husk looked different from the previous banshee they have faced while fighting their way into the temple. This asari still wore clothes and her body frame was not as bony.
“I was beginning to wonder when you would show up, mother,” the creature said.
“Rila,” Samara gasped.
Yep, it’s Samara’s other daughter.
“After leaving us for four hundred years, you finally return.”
“You know why I left.”
“We were your daughters! You left us in a facility that barely treats us as asari. Speaking to you was all I had that made staying here bearable, but you took that away. If Falere wasn’t here I would have killed myself. We weren’t allowed to leave this sanctuary, ever, and we were forced to make marinades for people who would never speak to us.”
“Your condition can lead to an addiction. I watched as your sister became more and more addicted to dominating other minds and absorbing their life essence. This was not a life I wanted you to have.”
“But those are my choices aren’t they? Either stay here for the rest of my life or become a beast. Thanks to the reapers, I now have a third option. To rule over others. The reapers like that Ardat-Yakshi have an apt ability to dominate minds. My sisters were not strong enough to accept the gifts of the reapers, but I was. I will begin my role as the avatar of the reapers and dominate the minds of the enemies of the reapers.”
And as predicted in a fic where Desolas Arterius somehow came back from the dead, this Rila is quite different from the one that willingly blew herself up to stop an entire sanctuary of Banshees from leaving the place that she and Falere had lived in for God knows how long even as she was being turned.
“The reapers are just using you, Rila! You have to stop this.” Samara pleaded.
“She’s not your daughter anymore, Samara,” Shepard said.
Well, that’s not insensitive of you at all, Stupard! I know it’s technically true what with being under the thrall of the Reapers and all, but still!
“You will not stand in our way, Rila. Stand aside and let us activate this temple.”
“I will not let you go against my masters,” Rila told him.
“The reapers don’t care about you. They are using you to fulfill their goals, Rila. You are nothing more than a tool to them.”
Wait, you just said that this wasn’t Rila anymore, and yet you’re saying things to her that imply that you look at her as if she’s still Rila! Pick one and stick with it!
“Funny that you of all people would say that, artician.”
“What do you mean? Desolas said the same thing.”
“It doesn’t matter as each of you will become slaves of the reapers.” Rila’s eyes glowed purple. “Embrace death.”
Jeez. I was wondering when you’d finally get to the fight scene.
Everyone fell to their knees as the asari exerted her will on them. Shepard crawled forward towards Rila.
“Stop trying to resist, artician. It will be much easier.”
“No,” Shepard grunted. Alpha energy surrounded his body. “I refuse to give in.”
Rila watched as the alpha energy from Shepard’s body connected to each member of his team. The energy surrounded their bodies and allowed each of them to get back up to their feet.
“That’s not possible…”
“I will not stop fighting until every single one of the reapers has been destroyed!” Shepard charged forward and stabbed her in the stomach with his sword. “I am sorry for the life you had, but the reapers are not the way.”
And when we do get to the fight scene, it’s of course incredibly anticlimactic. I’m not surprised in the least.
Though, this also does bring up another question: Falere was able to completely cancel Stupard’s use of dark energy, but apparently that didn’t apply to his alpha energy after all. If Stupard was then able to use his alpha energy to break himself and everyone else in the room out of Rila’s attempt at mind control, then why the hell didn’t Stupard just use alpha energy to deal with Falere!?
Rila choked as she bled internally. “The- The reapers told me many things… Secrets.” The alpha energy flowed off of the sword and started eating away her body. “Tell me, artician. Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the humans look like your people?”
No, ‘cause by this point I’m pretty sure that the entire artician race was genetically engineered by the PCC, or else this whole fic would have unfolded very differently.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Shepard demanded. “Tell me!”
Rila laughed. Before her body completely disintegrated she said, “Ask the Oracle.” The powder remains of her body drifted to the floor and fell into a pile of ash.
All right, I’m sure he will.
After this, Stupard goes ahead and activates the temple. After getting the last piece of intel needed, Samara asks to tag along. (Not sure how much good that’ll do when we’re one chapter away from the ending, but whatever.) So then they go along, and Stupard passes this information on to Feron. We then cut to a short while later, when Feron reveals that he has the location.
“We do,” Feron answered. “It’s incredible, your people took into account fifty thousand years of planets shifting their location.”
*pulls out a map of the ME galaxy*
Okay, let’s see… There will most likely be a temple on Earth (the final chapter will take place on Earth since this fic follows the events of ME3 way too closely for comfort, meaning it would make no sense if there was no temple there), so we’re going to include that here. *mark* We also know that there are temples on Tuchanka *mark*, Khar’shan *mark*, Palaven *mark*, and Thessia *mark* since Stupard activated them all. So all we need now is the location of this next temple…
“Location, Feron,” Liara reminded him.
“Right, right. The planet is Klencory.
So they have to go to Klencory. Okay. *mark*
Ladies and gentlemen, a map of the Mass Effect galaxy, with all temple locations marked:
This of course shows us that the anti-Reaper network is actually very heavily skewed towards one side of the galaxy, with three temples in Council Space, two temples in Earth Alliance Space, and one in the Attican Traverse. Granted, there are a lot of people that reside in the area the temples cover, but there is literally nothing in the way of representation for any part of the Terminus Systems. That means that Omega, multiple colonies (twenty-two of them, if we count mining outposts), and both the vorcha and quarian homeworlds are not covered by this network. That’s a pretty big chunk of the ME galaxy’s population to leave open to the Reaper taint, and because of this it seems to me that there wasn’t actually all that much thought put into the locations of these temples.
But then again, most of these temples are located in the places where it’s easiest to get away with both plot regurgitation and giving the batarians more importance to the plot of the ME series: after all, we obviously can’t place these temples according to what makes sense with the intent of the of anti-Reaper network, that would just be silly.
The coordinates are in the Normandy’s systems. I did some digging into and found some interesting information about this planet. There’s a volus billionaire by the name of Kumun Shol excavating there.”
“What for?” Shepard asked.
“This is the interesting part. He claims he had a vision of a higher being telling him to seek the ‘lost crypt of beings of light’. Beings born at the beginning of time to protect organic life from synthetic ‘machine devils.’ Sounds familiar?”
“The reapers,” Garrus thought aloud.
“And the higher being has to be the Oracle,” Tali concluded.
Wait, what!? Wasn’t it kind of an important plot point that nobody in the ME galaxy would believe in the existence of the Oracle? Didn’t the Oracle state back at the start of the ME1 arc that TIM was the only person who would listen to her!? And now some random volus listened to her!?
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Way to go, InHarmsWay: you have just completely undermined critical plot points within your story for the sake of plot convenience!
*headdesks onto buzzer*
Ass Pull From Hell Count: 18
So anyway, after that really stupid thing is revealed, Stupard and the gang head on right for Klencory. They get there, and meet up with the volus guy.
“It is… qush… kesh… an honour to have you here, my lord,” he greeted. “We have uncovered the entrance to the temple, but the doors will not open. It has some sort of slot that may be a keyhole of sorts.”
Qush? Kesh? What? Why are you talking about a random hookah lounge in Oregon and a religious practice which involves letting your hair grow out naturally? Why would you even mention those in the same sentence, and especially that sentence?
“I have the key right here,” Shepard said while pulling out Asha Bel. “Can you take us to the entrance?”
“Of… qush… kesh… course. Follow me.”
Wait, hang on…
Is the ‘qush kesh’ InHarmsWay’s attempt to approximate the way volus breathe?
The volus turned and walked towards the cave just ahead. “Since the Oracle came to me I have been hard at work… qush… kesh… trying to uncover the temple. Many thought I was crazy… qush… kesh… But the machine qush… kesh… devils are here now. And you… qush… kesh… a being of light are here… qush… kesh… to save us.”
“I appreciate everything you have done for our cause,” Shepard said. “I ensure your name is remember for your efforts.”
“qush… kesh… Thank you.”
I’ll be damned, it is…
Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. After all, there was that stretch in one chapter where he didn’t use quotation marks at all and we were supposed to take that as a coded language, so sure, why not?
After this, Stupard and the gang walk right up to the temple and try to enter. However, as soon as Stupard enters the door closes behind him, leaving everyone else stranded outside the temple for the remainder of the chapter. After Stupard establishes that he’s okay, he walks right into the temple (with no boss fight this time around—thank God), and then he activates it. The Oracle appears, and tells Stupard that he’s activated the entire anti-Reaper network and now just needs to find the control temple.
And after Stupard stops the Oracle and demands an explanation from her about what’s really going on… Well… I honestly can’t summarize what happens next. What the Oracle says is… Well, remember when I said that I had issues with a reveal in the ME3 arc?
Here is that reveal. And unfortunately, while there are a lot of unintentionally hilarious wordings of things within this reveal, I can’t actually dwell on any of them. Trust me, you’ll see why.
So without further ado, I give you the big reveal, without commercial breaks, starting now:
“Who and what are you really?” he demanded. “What is your connection to the reapers? What do the humans have to do with anything?”
“I am part of the very first race that inhabited this galaxy,” she answered. “I am also… I’m also the one responsible.”
“Responsible for what?”
“I was the one who created the reapers.”
Shepard was speechless at that revelation. “W-Why? Why did you create those abominations?” Shepard demanded in anger.
“To answer that I must reveal much more to you. I must show you what I really am.” The Oracle’s purple form started to change to be less like a spirit and more like a living being. Bright light emitted from her form as she did. The light soon became too much for Shepard to look at so he covered his eyes. He held up his arm to blot out the light. Soon the light died down and Shepard could finally see what the Oracle really looks like.
Upon removing his arm, Shepard could only gaze in horror at the Oracle’s form and muttered in shock, “No… That’s not… That’s not possible.”
“I am artician,” the Oracle declared. She was fair skin with pure black hair and indigo eyes.
“The articians are responsible for the reapers?” His very psyche was on the brink of ruin from this revelation.
“Not as a whole, no,” she answered. “Please listen, my lord, and I will explain. This universe, this galaxy is an alternate future of your own. I no longer remember my name, but I remember the events that led to our destruction. Over a billion years ago, the Artician Empire was at its apex of its glory. There was peace throughout the galaxy among your people and the people of the galaxy. You served as king, Jon’ison Tivos.”
“How was this peace disturbed?”
“A new evolutionary trait. An artician developed a new power that was the opposite of what any tiven’vian has ever been capable of using. Omega energy manipulation. I can’t remember the individuals name or even if it was a man or woman, but I do know the name that being now goes by.”
“Yes. This individual saw their power as reason for them to take over the artician empire and direct down a new pathway to continue their evolution. While alpha energy can be used to heal and protect, omega energy was used to destroy and dominate. That is what indoctrination is. The use of omega energy to dominate minds, change them. Harbinger’s followers grew quickly in number as more minions were added to its army. War eventually broke out that span the entire galaxy and lasted several hundred years, killing billions. This army, that strived for ascension to higher beings, struck a deadly blow against the forces of good, when they assassinated your queen thus killing you as well.”
“I was killed…?”
“Yes. Without your direction and inspiration, the war quickly turned in favour of Harbinger. The forces that opposed Harbinger turned desperate and turned to me: a science officer. I was tasked with creating a weapon that would win us the war. But things didn’t go as planned.”
“This vision after earth,” Shepard muttered.
“I was trying to give you more information about the reapers, but their arrival prevented me from doing more. I was that woman in the vision. You can see that Cerberus now sports armoury similar to what Harbinger’s forces equipped.”
“What type of weapon were you trying to create?”
“I was trying to create a ship that would fuse many of our people together so they could act as one will creating an army that was purely focused. Research that was forbidden under your rule, but again we were desperate to win. Harbinger learned of my research and dispatched a team to capture me. They took me to their base to continue my work. I-I didn’t want to but his indoctrination wouldn’t allow me to deny Harbinger’s orders. I was a slave to his goals. Eventually my research finished and Harbinger had exactly what it wanted. Unity under one will. The remainder of the galaxy was broken down into the genetic paste that would create the reaper ships for his army.”
“If the reaper ships were created using artician technology why don’t they have a warp drive?”
“That technology was all but destroyed during the war. Harbinger wanted another way to power his ships and to allow FTL travel. Element zero was the answer. As a reward for what I have done, or punishment for my sins, I was added into the second reaper that was created: Sacrosanct. My mind and soul was trapped in that abomination for hundreds of millions of years. For all intents and purposes I was stuck in hell.”
“How did you escape?”
“You have already visited the reaper that I was once a part of,” she said. “Over 37 million years ago, a race put up a good fight against the reapers. They created a weapon that crippled the reaper I was trapped in. The section that the round destroyed was where my essence was stored. I was freed but the other beings stayed trapped there for millions of years. At least until you destroyed the reaper by sending it into the brown dwarf. You put millions of souls to rest when you did that. After I was freed, it took thousands of years for me to regain my sanity from being trapped within the reaper. But once I did, I worked to seek redemption for what I have done. I’ve tried for million years trying to get this galaxy to listen to my warnings, but as I have said before, they went unheard, or I was listened to too late. Eventually I discovered a wormhole that connected to your universe. Imagine my surprise when I find it goes to an mirror universe in an alternate past.”
“What do the humans have to do with anything?” Shepard asked. “Rila on Thessia said that it isn’t coincidence that they look like articians.”
“She is correct. The humans were part of a long term plan. A plan that is close to two million years old. Getting an entire race to fight back against an enemy that they have never seen is impossible. Every race always progressed at a certain rate and is usually around the same level of technology when the reapers do arrive. The reapers planned on this. They wanted order in terms of how each race progresses. Disorder had to be injected into their formula. With samples I have had members of this galaxy acquire from your race two million years ago, I led scientists on a mission to try and recreate the articians in this galaxy. The lab for our experiment was earth. We found primates similar to our own ancestors and we believed them to be suitable test subjects towards controlling their evolution. It was a success and a failure at the same time. Without constant control, their evolution quickly deviated from the pathway toward artician in the tens of thousands of years in between check-ups. Biggest factor that changed their evolutionary pathway was the climate of earth. It was too moderate in climate in comparison to Artice. This resulted in a specie that’s just related to the artician specie as oppose to being artician.”
“Then the vision I received on that one mission on Eletania…”
“Was the protheans fulfilling my goals. While we failed to recreate the articians, we were successful in creating a race that changed much in the universe. Humans have the same restless nature as your race does. Technology has changed rapidly and new perspectives gained. Though even this was not enough. So with the last surviving members of the protheans and the last Tiven’Vian, we constructed a plan to wipe out the reapers once and for all. They created a network of temples which emits alpha energy. The same type of energy that can negate omega energy. This would cause the reapers to fall apart. Once all temples are activated the Citadel and master control station on earth can be activated to spread this energy throughout the galaxy.”
“What does the Citadel have to do with this?”
“The Keepers were not the only thing modified on the Citadel. With my help and the last Tiven’Vian, the protheans modified the Citadel would have as a concentrator for the signal that would be emitted from earth’s master control temple. This signal would coordinate the temples around the galaxy to go off all at the same time. This has to be done within a nanosecond of precision or else certain parts of the galaxy can remain untouched by the signal leaving the possibility of reaper taint being left behind.”
“Why is the master control temple on earth of all places?”
“Two reasons. We had to ensure that it would be well defended, and knowing the nature of articians and humans, I knew that humans would put up a large enough fights against the reapers that it would delay their search.”
“And the second?”
“We had to concentrate the reapers as best we could to make sure that they are wiped out when the network is activated. We knew that humans would be of interest to the reapers.”
“So you used the humans as bait?” Shepard said in disgust.
“Millions are sacrificed in order to save trillions. I don’t like it any better than you, but we had no choice. All we can do is ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain.”
“How do we activate the Citadel?”
“In the room next to the one you are currently in is the last surviving member of the prothean race. He has been tasked to activating the Citadel to put it into orbit around earth.”
“Yes. Not like the collectors, as he has not been touched by the reaper’s experimentations.”
“And how do I activate the master control temple on earth and where is it?”
“The temple is located under the city which the humans call London, England. This temple will supply you the exact coordinates of the temple. But there is something else you should know. When you insert Asha Bel into the pedestal in the master control temple, it will drain you of all your essence. Each temple you have encountered mostly drained your stamina. This temple will be different in that it requires your body and soul to activate its vast power.”
Okay. That’s about where the reveal stops giving new information, so… yeah. Before we continue, let’s be sure we’ve got this right:
The ME galaxy is actually the parallel galaxy several billion years into the future. The Reapers were created by the Oracle, who was an Artician developing a weapon against someone who got corrupted by an energy that’s apparently the opposite of alpha energy. This attempt to stop this guy was cut short by her being taken prisoner, and so Harbinger repurposed her prospective weapon for his own needs. Thus, the Reapers were born, and the Oracle got trapped in the second Reaper ever made. So then, they do their thing, and then the Oracle gets freed about 37 million years before the events of the games. Once she becomes “uninsane”, she then finds the wormhole, convinces a bunch of scientists to do stuff, and actually causes the creation of the human race on planet Earth (except that she was trying to recreate the artician race). On top of that, these temples were all her idea, which she constructed with the help of the protheans and that random Tiven’Vian. Thus, not only did the Oracle create the Reapers, but everything with the temples and Stupard and even humanity is all part of a master plan hatched by the Oracle. The Citadel is a conduit for these temples (which happen to release insane amounts of alpha energy, which is the only thing that can destroy anything with omega energy, apparently), and they kept a prothean alive so said prothean could activate the Citadel’s systems as they relate to the anti-Reaper network. And oh yeah, Stupard has to sacrifice himself to destroy the Reapers, and the temples have been draining his life force force this whole time.
Okay, where do I even start?
- For a race that’s supposed to be super-intelligent and all that crap, the articians sure do seem quite willing to run with being yanked around by fate whenever there’s no authority figure to step in. What, do they want to panic like the populace of Hellstar Remina?
- On that train of thought, here’s another thought that occurs to me: why the hell does the security and safety of an entire galaxy rest on the shoulders of one fucking race? No no, not even that! Why does it rest on the shoulders of a few people!? I mean, Jesus: the entire reason why the parallel galaxy couldn’t fight off the Reaper threat when it first showed up and why it’s suddenly able to kill a hundred of ‘em despite having the exact same technology all boils down to the state of the artician people’s monarchy in each respective instance! You cannot seriously expect me to believe that the other races in the parallel galaxy could be this useless!
- According to the Oracle, those temples are based on alpha energy. They also release an alpha energy wave capable of destroying every Reaper, husk, and indoctrinated slave within the radius of a planet’s gravitational pull! Why didn’t they try releasing excessive alpha energy before wasting resources on that shared consciousness ship?
- But okay, fair enough. I could see a war with such people lasting a while if nobody had a way to harness alpha energy. Except they do, because one of the first things that Stupard ever told Tali about the artician people was that the articians evolved with the ability to manipulate alpha energy—and that subsequently, every single artician can use alpha energy with sufficient training! Even if Harbinger had gone after the races who can’t manipulate alpha energy before trying to take on the articians, the articians could still likely be able to defeat Harbinger on virtue of the articians outnumbering all the other species there combined! (This of course assumes that the ME galaxy’s population at the time Harbinger appeared was similar to what the parallel galaxy’s population was before Cerberus unleashed that zombie apocalypse on them, but since it’s stated that Stupard had a version of himself in the ME galaxy’s distant past I think it implies that this assumption is true.) Every artician that ever existed is capable of exploiting Harbinger’s only weakness, and the artician people were still wiped out by him!?
- Furthermore, how exactly did Harbinger’s use of omega energy overpower the articians once he got around to using it on them? You’d think that beings that can innately use the one thing that can negate omega energy would also be innately immune to the effects of omega energy. Seriously, how did that work?
- On top of that, didn’t Stupard say in an earlier infodump that alpha energy could corrupt the user if they weren’t careful? Why the hell would you pull a new form of energy completely out of the story’s ass when you already set up a property of alpha energy that would likely make Harbinger insane enough to do the things he does?
- All that is bad, but then the articians turned to creating massive sentient dreadnaughts with a shared consciousness? Why!? Why would you create a bunch of fucking sentient dreadnaughts with a shared consciousness to wage war with a guy and his indoctrinated army, especially when that war would have been over in ten minutes if you had stopped panicking and actually remembered that every artician can exploit his only weakness!? Just admit it, articians: you were begging for Harbinger to come in and make sure he could repurpose this experiment!
- Then, there’s Harbinger’s motivation. Essentially, Harbinger’s entire motivation was “I’m powerful and evil and will make Reapers because I can”! And somehow, he went from that to harvesting all organic life every 50,000 years! Did the Reapers suddenly morph into a conglomerate of incredibly lame Saturday morning cartoon villains when I wasn’t looking? How are we supposed to feel threatened by these villains when they have such a ridiculous, nonsensical reason to exist!? I just… It’s hard to top the canon “I heard synthetics were going to kill organics, so I created synthetics to kill organics to prevent that from happening” in terms of being completely off-the-wall insane, but this fic managed to find an origin for the Reapers that makes that look plausible.
- Where the hell did the Oracle (and her “friends”) find the time and resources to build those temples? Seriously, how did the protheans and the one Tiven’Vian manage to get the resources and the manpower to build these temples while being on the losing side of a war of attrition? Not even ME3 pretended that the protheans had unlimited resources, and that game had a prothean that you could recruit to your squad!
- For that matter, here’s another canon factoid: the protheans were almost completely wiped out over the course of a few centuries. Thanks to that wonderful tool called indoctrination, the Reapers would’ve caught wind of your plan at some point. Do you honestly expect me to believe that you managed to coordinate the construction of multiple temples all around the galaxy’s major homeworlds without the Reapers catching on at any time? Even if you only told these people how to build the temples through dreams or whatever, they’d still have to travel to those home worlds and construct the damn things. Seeing as how Mars was a major enough world in the prothean empire that the discovery of prothean ruins on that planet is what gives humanity the technology behind the mass relays, the Reapers probably would have caught on and tried to prevent the construction of the temples!
- How did these races not find these temples sooner? Okay, yes, you explained the temples on Tuchanka, Khar’shan, and Thessia, and I can see why you wouldn’t know about the temple on Klencory, but even with that it still makes no sense for Earth and Palaven. These temples were sitting there for 50,000 years, and yet nobody on Palaven or Earth found their respective temples until it was convenient for galactic safety. You’d think that with the constant fascination for archaeology, we would’ve hit those temples eventually! People on this earth have uncovered fossils of things that date as far back as five hundred and forty two million years ago, and yet we can’t find something that dates back to a tiny fraction of that?
- Speaking of the temples, why the hell did you write the inscriptions in the temples in ancient artician? Why the hell did the Tiven’Vian write all that information down in riddles? For crying out loud, even the parallel galaxy had trouble trying to figure out what those inscriptions were saying! You seriously expect people to know what these temples are supposed to do despite the fact that all the information relating to the temples’ function is written down in such a way that it makes it harder to figure out what they do? You would think that the Tiven’Vian would make all this information transparent if all this was critical to killing the Reapers!
- Why lock the activation of the temples to the artician race’s DNA? (Yes, I know this isn’t explicitly stated in the reveal, but it’s strongly implied that this is the case from the fact that Stupard is apparently the only person who can actually activate any of these damn temples.) I mean, you need to save a galaxy, so your solution is to create temples in that galaxy that can destroy Reapers that can only be activated by a race that’s not even in the same reality?
- And yes, I know you were trying to recreate the artician people in said galaxy: if you’re trying to do that, why didn’t you control it better? For Christ’s sake, you couldn’t even be bothered to do your research on homeworld climates and how that might affect the evolution of these pseudo-articians? You’d think that the Oracle would think about how the evolutionary history of her people went and how climates in other planets might affect that differently when attempting to literally become God!
- It doesn’t even make any sense with the other idea the Oracle could use to justify creating the human race! You know, the whole “humans were defending the temple for you” thing? She talks about humans being able to defend the master control temple as if they were the only people who would be able to do that! Let me put it this way: in order to defend something, they would have to know that it exists. Humanity didn’t even know they had a temple sitting around on Earth that they were supposed to be defending! That means that they’re basically only defending the temple because it happens to be on their homeworld, which is all fine and good until you realize that anybody would do that if giant sentient warships tried to harvest all life on their homeworld!
- Then there’s the matter of “concentrating the Reapers in a precise spot over Earth”. You need to get multiple Reapers to the same place? In that case, I feel the need to call attention to the fact that you placed all but one of these temples on homeworlds! The Reapers would be heading to the homeworlds even if they didn’t have these Deus Ex Machina temples on them! By the logic you’ve presented us with for the previous two points, you could’ve put the master control temple on any other homeworld in the ME galaxy and you wouldn’t lose a thing!!
- And that’s without looking at the “let’s create a species that will fight the Reapers” angle all by itself! I’d be more on board with this if you controlled it more, but you implied that the only control you exercised on the species creation was a check-up every few thousand years! Let me put it this way: “The Reapers harvest species that take millions of years to evolve naturally, so we’re going to create a species and then let them take two million years to evolve in a relatively natural manner: that will definitely stop the Reapers!” Seriously, just think about that for two seconds!
- And yes, I know that the humans are considered special by the Reapers in canon. I know that humans are unpredictable and very diverse by the standards of other species, and that the Oracle accepted the outcome because of this. Here’s the thing about that: humans were unpredictable in ME canon without the creation of the species being hijacked by the Oracle! I highly doubt that the Oracle’s intervention did all that much in terms of affecting the way humans evolved. And in fact, the Oracle doesn’t even seem to deny the fact that she had very little to do with why humans are so unpredictable, so that just makes it worse!
- Besides, even if she had gotten more involved in the evolution of mankind, that wouldn’t have guaranteed that these articians would be the ones who got helped the galaxy beat the Reapers! Let’s go to canon for a second to show you what I mean: in canon, the protheans thought that the asari might be the biggest answer to the Reaper invasion, so what did they do? They basically cradled the asari and messed with their evolution. Javik outright states that their goddess was actually a prothean, he outright states that the protheans defended the asari from numerous threats that could have ended their race (including an asteroid strike and an alien invasion), and he outright states that the reason the asari can use biotics without having a bio-amp is because the protheans modified their genome! And let’s not forget for a second that the Prothean temple is the entire reason why the asari’s technology is more advanced than everyone else! And guess what? Even with all that cradling, the asari weren’t the ones who ultimately ended up being the key to stop the Reapers! Creating a race to fight the Reapers doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be the race who proves to be the Reapers’ undoing!
- In addition to all this, Oracle, you say that technology improved beyond what the Oracle ever saw in any other cycle thanks to humanity. Yeah, that’s a little hard for me to believe when the parallel galaxy took the credit for every single technological advancement that occurred in the ME galaxy after humanity started using the mass relays!
- These temples were sucking Stupard’s life force the whole time? Then why the hell wasn’t he progressively getting weaker!? If these temples were sucking his life force, that should have been made apparent by the fact that he starts getting progressively weaker—a fact that you didn’t even tell us about (let alone show)!
- Where the hell was your backup plan? This gambit has more losing conditions than your average Sierra adventure game, and there was no back-up plan!? Seriously: the articians could not have survived the zombie apocalypse, the wormhole could’ve not opened, the Reapers could’ve caught on to your plans, the temples could’ve been destroyed by something out of your control, etc. So what the hell would’ve happened if the events of this fic had occurred in any way but the way they did in this fic?
- That’s not even getting into the astronomically tiny chance of finding a universe that is your universe at a much earlier point in time. Not even Charles Dickens could come up with such an overbearingly contrived coincidence if he tried, and the guy was practically the king of contrived coincidences.
- And here’s the craziest thing of all: the Oracle says they needed to introduce a chaotic element into the ME galaxy. Uh, Oracle, there’s a less complicated way to get a chaotic element in there: it’s called get the parallel galaxy over to the ME galaxy when the wormhole opens during the earlier Reaper invasion! What she needed was an element that the Reapers were unfamiliar with, and that could have come in the form of the technology that the articians had when they killed a hundred Reapers before this whole story started! Instead of building those temples, she could’ve waited however long it took the Articians in the mirror universe to develop tech that could’ve killed the Reapers, and then just have the parallel galaxy cruise into the ME galaxy and save whatever cycle they just so happen to bump into. Yeah, there’s the matter of being outnumbered by that point, but Stupard indicated that the casualties against the Reapers weren’t really severe! (Stupard mentioned in the ME1 arc that the articians only lost tens of thousands of soldiers in the fight that they got into when the Reapers went to the parallel galaxy, which is actually very low when you consider that it’s an accomplishment to take out one Reaper, let alone a hundred of them.) And even barring that, there’s the fact that the articians could have just given the protheans a safe haven to flee to in the parallel galaxy so the protheans can pass their knowledge of the Reapers on to the articians: that way, the two races can co-develop a superweapon in the event that the wormhole opens in time for the next extinction cycle! And this would be more excusable, if not for the fact that the damn Tiven’Vian went to the Mass Effect galaxy to oversee the construction of these temples—which subsequently means that the parallel galaxy could have entered the ME galaxy and saved the prothean people whenever they wanted to! Yeah, Tiven’Vian from the Prothean invasion, that’s a huge dick move to be all “oh, hey, sorry I couldn’t save your people: I’m not taking you back to my galaxy to let you repopulate, though, and I’m going to make you build these temples even though there’s clearly a far better solution to killing the Reapers”. And yes, I know about the wormhole, and how it apparently opened and closed in infrequent intervals: however, the word choice implied that the wormhole was open throughout the entire prothean invasion! And hey, the wormhole opened permanently at the start of the fic: why not pull that card earlier? Or, hell, just do away with the “opening and closing” bit entirely: after all, this ‘opening and closing’ has no real bearing on the story whatsoever, except as a desperate ploy to up the stakes!
- But hey! Maybe I don’t know anything. After all, if any of the events detailed in this reveal had been solved with any kind of logic whatsoever, the outcome would very likely have negated the ENTIRE Mass Effect mythos!! And of course, this story wouldn’t have been a thought if the Mass Effect franchise couldn’t be regurgitated right down to the canon dialogue, now, would it!?
I mean… It’s just… I…
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
This is… gripplap!
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
This is just…!
*headdesk**headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
What a… How…?
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
I just… My God. I have seen some incredibly dumb plot twists in my life, but this one outdoes them all! I could drive the Death Star through the plot holes this reveal opens up! This reveal makes L. Ron Hubbard look like Isaac Asimov! This makes Stephenie Meyer look like Charles Dickens! This makes the entire plot of Parallel Realities so insane that saying “the plot of Parallel Realities has more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese” would be an insult to Swiss cheese!
I mean, really, InHarmsWay!? You expect me to believe this crap!?
THIS FANFIC IS THE STUPIDEST PIECE OF SHIT I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED IN MY LIFE!! THIS FANFIC IS SO STUPID IT’S INSULTING!! HOW THE FUCK DID THIS FIC GET FAVORITED BY MORE THAN TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY PEOPLE!? THIS IS DUMB!! THIS IS HORRIBAFUCKUS!! THIS IS AN ABOMINATION AGAINST HUMAN INTELLIGENCE!!
*rushes out of the room, and pokes his head outside of the library to the street and its pedestrians*
GET A BRAIN, PEOPLE!! THIS FANFIC IS STUPID!!! YOU HEAR ME!?!? THIS FANFIC IS STUPID!!!! IT’S STUPID!!!!! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!!!!
*runs back inside, sits down*
Wow, that was an unbelievably idiotic plot twist. I honestly didn’t think that you could find a plot twist that’s this mind-meltingly ridiculous outside of trollfics, but InHarmsWay has just proved that such things can in fact happen. Seriously, it’s almost artistic how moronic that plot twist is.
Let’s move on. Believe it or not, we’re still not done with this chapter.
“Then why allow me to love?” he demanded. “If I am destined to die to end the reapers why allow me to love another? Why?”
“You deserve some comfort before you die.”
“I was better off not loving at all! It just seems so damn typical. I don’t have a happy life and now I won’t even get a happy ending to my story. I’ll just die and that will be the end of that. Though even my death will damn me to the void as my soul will be destroyed by this machine.” Shepard fell to his knees and screamed in pain. “Damn it!”
You know, Oracle, I’m with Stupard on being angry at you, if I also have about eighty million other issues with you. In many ways, you’re the one to blame for the fact that Stupard’s race is now extinct, and you’re also responsible for setting up an expectation that would never happen for him. But that’s not even the worst part: you’re basically the one who started every damn thing that happened in this story. And from day one, you have shown nothing but the shittiest decision making skills in the galaxy.
You, Oracle, are the single biggest dumbass bitch in the entire history of fanfiction. Not even Sues like Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way are as much of an imbecile as you are!
The Oracle walked up and tried to put a hand on his shoulder. Shepard smacked it away and got to his feet. She could see the tears in his eyes.
“I will fulfill my duty as a Tiven’Vian. I will save this galaxy, but… I never want to see you again.”
“Go! Leave me!”
“I am truly sorry…” These were her last words before she faded from his sight.
Well, at least Stupard sees her for the massive bitch that she is.
Stupard wakes up from this thing with tears in his eyes. So then he stands up, and enters another room that opens up right as he stands back up.
When the door opened up fully, he entered the room. The room was blocky and grey, with each block stacked in an uneven order. In the center of the room is a structure, like the walls of the room, consisted of blocks. As oppose to the gray colour of the walls, this structure glowed orange. It was tripod shaped with one support structure that connected to the ceiling. In the center of the structure was a orange and red sphere with the silhouette of someone inside.
As Shepard approached the sphere, the sphere lowered to the ground. He touched the sphere and it vanished revealing its occupant. The first thought that came to Shepard’s mind was that the original protheans looked nothing like the collectors. The prothean before him looked like the statues he saw before on Ilos.
The prothean struggled to get his footing. He was still woozy from being in stasis for close to fifty thousand years. The prothean opened his eyes and looked at Shepard. He stared at him as his eyes adjusted. Finally the prothean could see Shepard clearly. He stood up straight, bowed his head and greeted, “It is a pleasure to finally meet you, artician. I am Jarvic.”
And with that, we end the chapter.
Well, guys, we’re in the home stretch here. After that bout of stupidity, I only have one chapter left to snark. And then, I’ll be done with this piece of shit. But that’s hardly a comfort, since we won’t be done in one update. No, I am not kidding you: the next chapter is so freaking long that it’ll be impossible for me to do it all in one go. So the next chapter will be splintered into three parts.
But hey: on the bright side, it can’t possibly get any dumber than this. Honestly, after this twist, it’s only uphill from here, and we won’t have to deal with such intensely stupid stuff happening. So yeah, it can’t possibly get any dumber than this.