1439: When You’re Strange – Chapters Fourteen and FifteenPosted: June 9, 2016
Title: When You’re Strange
Media: Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 14
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 15
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to this fetid pile of shit.
Let’s just get going, shall we? I still have to get the memory of that author’s note out of my head.
Oh well, at least we still have these.
*pulls gloves back on*
So we start Chapter 14 proper with this:
The constant thrum of the drive core was a balm to her frayed thoughts that she desperately needed. The data Shepard had sent her on the geth was more than troubling; it was disturbing.
And then blah blah, we get a philosophical rambling about this, Tali (not that you’d be able to tell given how Actually-Fucking-Half-witted keeps playing the pronoun game for several paragraphs) is all “what is going on here?”, she thinks “I have to report this to the flotilla”, and then she comes to the conclusion that the Reapers did this to them. (Which, yeah, it might be a stretch, but I’ll give her this one considering that the fic has asked us to accept much stupider plotting than this.) Of course, Tali then tells Joker “PHONE ME IN TO SHEPARD”. So Shepard gets to call Tali, and Tali says:
“Shepard, the reapers did this to the geth. I don’t know why, but they are the only ones who could possibly have the technology to do this. If the geth are working directly with the reapers, letting themselves be augmented like this, there’s no telling what you may run into down there. If you see any more geth with obvious organic parts like this, please send the data to me. That Prime had far more than just an organic heart, I’m reading muscles and organs, nearly a full nervous system under the plating. Whatever is going on here, it’s big.”
And probably stupid as—
Wait, other muscles and organs? What the hell purpose would those serve for a CPU? A CPU doesn’t need oxygen or food to survive: it needs a power source and a way to keep cool, and I doubt that an organic food source is going to generate as much power unless they build a furnace inside that will burn the food for energy. But of course, that’s not organic! And what the hell would a full nervous system accomplish? The capacity to feel pain would just get in the way, I feel. And really? Organic muscles? The synthetic muscles seem to serve the geth hoppers pretty well, what would they need?
It’s just because it sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Fuck You, Science! Count: 12
Seriously, Actually-Fucking-Half-witted, have you ever watched the Terminator movies? Maybe you should watch that for a masterclass on how to make synthetic species look organic in a way that isn’t completely fucking stupid.
Anyway, after that, they wrap the conversation up, and then we cut back to Shepard where she’s facing off against—
Not one, not two, but THREE colossi. The Mako’s shields were all but gone, and they had nowhere close to duck behind.
Well, she’s certainly up shit creek, am I right? I wonder how she’s ever going to get out of this pickle…
“These fuckers are REALLY getting on my nerves today!” Was all Shepard could manage to growl out as she slammed the Mako into action, ramming full-speed into the nearest colossus, then careening off towards the only cover, nearly thirty meters away. The Mako rocked hard to the left as a bright blue ball of hard-punching energy slammed into the side of the glorified dune-buggy, and she fought to keep it driving straight as her console blared a warning at her that the rear right tire was damaged. They barely escaped another blue blast as she dove the smoking Mako behind an outcropping of rock just large enough to conceal them.
Oh, right, I forgot. Tension is that thing other authors do. I forgot about that.
“Thank the Spirits those things don’t like to move around much, or we’d be seriously fucked right now. Garrus, repairs, Liara, go with him and keep him covered. I’ll work on the shield modulator, we shouldn’t be losing our shields this fast, even with three of those fuckers.”
Dude, you realize how powerful those things are, right? The geth colossi cannons can royally wreck your shit even when there’s only one of them there. Three of them? Forget it. Oh, and stepping out of the Mako is a monumentally stupid idea when there are three of them around. I mean, you know that one hit from their cannons can kill you when you’re outside the Mako, right?
Don’t ask me how I know that. I just do!
Her ground team nodded in unison as they scrambled out of the Mako. She sighed and slung her omni-tool on, interfacing with the shield modulator and scrolling through the data readout.
“Ah-HA! I’ve got your frequency now, fuckers.” Her hands flew over the console as she made adjustments, fine-tuning to the proper frequencies as the stress slowly eased out of her body. “Eat through our shields now, you big metal bastards.”
*headdesks onto buzzer*
Fuck You, Science! Count: 13
Mass Effect shields do not work like that. They just don’t. They deflect small objects moving at ridiculously high speeds, by fucking with matter in various ways. I don’t know how the hell frequencies play into this shit, or why knowing the frequency of [ERROR: PARAMETER NOT FOUND] makes the shields stronger, but it’s not only vague science it’s also not even accurate to the canon.
I know technobabble generally makes no sense anyway, but come the fuck on!
She muttered with a devilish gleam in her eyes. Nodding at the console as she saw the shields recharging, she unstrapped herself from her seat, and turned to open her door, jumping slightly as she caught the sight of the Prime in the back seat out of the corner of her eye. She chuckled and took a deep breath to calm her now racing heart, then opened the door and hopped out of the Mako.
What Tali had told her was extremely worrying.
Oh my God, really?
If the reapers were doing these kinds of sick modifications to synthetics, what were they doing to Saren? Synthetics should be helping synthetics become more… synthetic, right? Not the other way around. It didn’t make a bit of sense.
Hey, stupid, here’s a brilliant idea: maybe you should hold off on pondering this bit for when you’re not being shot at by a bunch of geth colossi! Seriously, not even Homura Afterstory went on about the same topic this many times!
She opened the door to the Prime, and brought her omni-tool up, doing an in-depth scan. Tali had been right, this unit was nearly half organic. ‘But what’s the purpose? Why not upgrade their hardware instead of giving them a downgrade? Or is there some hidden function to these hybrid units? They aren’t any stronger than the old ones.’
Actually-Fucking-Half-witted: if your character is thinking shit like this, then it means that this plot element was stupid from the get-go. Seriously, man, why are you still trying to convince the reader this is a good idea?
Anyway, she gets a jump scare from the direction of the Prime, and then Garrus comes in and reports on the damage to the Mako. Blah blah, more stupid technobabble, and then Shepard is like let’s move. We then cut to…
He clacked his talons on the arm of his metal chair impatiently, waiting. His mind was filled with thoughts that were not his own, whispers of memories he couldn’t lay claim to. He’d lost half of his support to that damnable human and her squad, and he wanted nothing more than to curve his talons around the bitch’s heart and rip it out.
Wait, is this…?
He could vividly imagine the joy of eating her heart as it tried desperately to keep pumping life’s blood into the body it’d been severed from so abruptly, and it filled his cold heart with giddy satisfaction. But it was only imagined, and as he opened his eyes, they fell upon the cold walls of his room within Sovereign, and disappointment flooded his senses.
“Soon, Saren. You will have that which you crave, and more.” Whispered a dark, graveling voice directly into his mind.
Oh my god, finally! We get to concentrate on someone who isn’t Taren!Sue for one scene! And it’ll actually be someone who wants to kill her!
He hasn’t even had a line yet and already I like Saren more than our so-called “protagonist”!
Anyway, Saren ponders about Taren!Sue a bit, and then before he can do much, he gets a call on his comms. A salarian talks about the genophage cure a bit, and then Saren tells them to hurry the fuck up, and then we get a bit more about the STG team.
He stood, and strode out of the room, growling out his frustrations at the geth guards that followed him from outside his door. At least the geth project was well underway; if things continued to go well, he would soon have an army of willingly brainwashed hybrid servants to infiltrate every government and military of every species in the galaxy. The invasion would be seamless.
Wait, so the brainwashed geth hybrids are supposed to infiltrate governments and militaries, and that’s how the invasion is going to work.
You know, I could’ve sworn there was something that Saren would’ve used to get people to bend to his will. You know, something provided by his giant ship? Something that can make even the strongest asari matriarch bend to your will? Something that would help you infiltrate governments without having to go through the labor-intensive work of growing your own organs? Something that would be more efficient and probably faster?
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Well, I finally found something about this AU worth bitching about that isn’t tied to “it doesn’t change anything”: it turns Saren into fucking Snidely Whiplash! Are we supposed to take this evil plan seriously? Because this reads like the kind of shit that would show up in an especially awful Saturday morning cartoon!
And yes, I know that Sovereign is only one ship who can be anywhere at will. Frankly, that’s still a pile of shit, because the Reapers are incredibly patient. Saren’s plan was to bring in the other Reapers, not infiltrate the rest of the galaxy’s governments! The Reapers could do that on their own without Saren’s help: talking with Vigil about how the war unfolded should tell you something about it, given that Vigil talks about the war unfolding over numerous centuries. The Reapers also can’t be defeated easily, and they know that: they’re patient, and if they were really patient they could handle that whole infiltration via indoctrination business without the help of these stupid geth hybrids. What’s the rush, anyway?
And even then, most Reapers leave behind technology that can indoctrinate anyone at will. That’s what happened to the rachni, after all! Shit, that’s the route I went with getting the turian councilor indoctrinated for Mass Vexations 3, and even if it did involve something of a stretch it still makes more sense than this! So why not go that route?
Why the fuck do these geth hybrids exist!? And if they’re supposed to take the form of actual organic species, how the fuck are they going to hide that? And wait, why are they still called hybrids if they’re meant to infiltrate world governments?
Oh wait, forget I asked: we all know that, just like with the stupid turian hybridism, you didn’t actually think this plot element all the way through before you played it.
I didn’t think you could come up with stupider AU stuff than “Shepard is a turian hybrid”, but here it is!
With the modified krogan to back him up, he would be invincible. Sovereign would let those who followed live, and harvest those that did not. It was the perfect plan.
If by “perfect” you mean “so overdone that Wesker from untold zombie cronicels would be proud”, then sure. Whatever.
Anyway, we get a line break, and then Shepard pulls up to the STG camp. Someone goes to get Kirrahe, Shepard, Garrus, and even Liara banter for a bit before Kirrahe comes up and asks “where are my reinforcements”.
Shepard glanced back at Garrus and Liara with a confused expression on her face, only to find her own confusion mirrored in their faces. She replied as she turned back to face Kirrahe. “Um, there aren’t any troops. The Council didn’t get a message from you, just static on the line used for covert communications. They sent me to investigate.”
Kirrahe’s jaw dropped. “So, you’re it? You’re all the Council sent? Spectre, this is not a time for jokes, if this is one. Investigation is a repetition of our task, we were sent here to investigate in the first place. I lost half my men ‘investigating’ this facility, now where is the platoon we asked for?”
Shepard growled as she responded. “Captain, as I said, neither the Council nor I had any idea what was going on here. I do have more team members I can bring down, if more people are needed. Why don’t you fill me in on the situation before this gets out of hand?” The threat, though veiled, was clearly sent.
“Please tell me what’s going on, or else I’m going to claw your face off the way I did to Kaidan!”
I wish I could say I was surprised that Kirrahe freaking out would be met with a threat from our trigger-happy Sue here, but somehow I’m not. Like, shit, even Renegade Shepard couldn’t have been this bad, right?
She nodded at Garrus, who called Joker on the comms, directing him to land the Normandy near their location.
Kirrahe hesitated for a moment, but conceded. “Very well, Spectre Shepard.”
And why is Kirrahe calling her “Spectre” Shepard?
Oh, right, “human culture is inferior”.
Anyway, Shepard tells him to just call her Shepard, and then the Normandy lands nearby. We get some plot regurgitation about the genophage cure, though there is a sprinkling in of that stupid geth hybrid business before it gets back to the plot regurgitation. Of course, Wrex overhears the “let’s destroy the genophage cure”, and—
That was the moment Wrex decided to barge his way into the conversation. “Destroyed? You can’t be serious. The krogans have more than paid for our rebellion, salarian. You neutered us, and you expect me to just sit back while you destroy the only glimmer of hope that my people have had in over a thousand years? If that’s what you think, you’ve got something else coming!”
Whoah, okay. So Wrex is apparently being way more aggressive about this than he was in canon. Um, why is he suddenly getting super aggressive?
He reared back, preparing to punch Kirrahe, but Shepard was too quick.
“WREX! STAND DOWN!” She growled in his face, her fingers curling around his raised fist, her talons digging into the rough hide on his hands.
Oh, right, it’s a desperate attempt for the story to say “see, she’s still a relatable character”! Never mind that it doesn’t work because she’s now an irredeemable bitch given what she did to Kaidan and why it’s excessive, but hey, whatever will help Actually-Fucking-Half-witted sleep at night, right?
His eyes burned bloodlust back at her, the threat of violence if she didn’t back off clear in his stance.
The increasingly pointless purple descriptions in this fic just keep getting better and better, don’t they?
Anyway, Wrex stamps off after Shepard tells him they’ll discuss it in a bit.
Kirrahe huffed out a sigh of relief, eying Shepard sharply as she turned back to him. “Is he going to be a problem? We’ve got enough issues to deal with here, Shepard. Keep your krogan pet on a leash, or I won’t hesitate to put him down myself.”
And Kirrahe didn’t make any comments like that in-game, right?
That’s what I thought. Watch, this is going to give an opportunity to give Taren!Sue another opportunity to be a bitch, isn’t it?
Her eyes narrowed to slits of icy blue and black as she charged up to Kirrahe’s face, a taloned finger poking between the plates of his armor on his chest viciously. “You leave him out of this. I’ll handle my own crew. Keep yours away from him, I wouldn’t want any… accidents.”
Kirrahe stood his ground admirably, though he did wince when Shepard’s talon pierced his fragile skin. “Be sure you do handle him, Shepard. We don’t need any distractions on this mission. We’ve got few enough people to finish it as it is.” he stepped back out of her immediate reach, giving a terse nod to her, then turned to walk back to his tent.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is victim number two of this fic’s propensity to pull people out of character just to give Taren reasons to be right. So, you know, it’s pulling the classic Suefic bullshit that the Kaidan bashing was a prelude to.
Anyway, Taren!Sue turns to Garrus and is all “this is the last thing we needed”, and then they go over to Wrex. We cut to Garrus—
Garrus watched her go worriedly. He knew Wrex was loyal to her, but would it be enough? He watched the encounter closely from his position, checking for signs of aggression on Wrex’s part, just to be safe.
…taking Ashley’s role in this bit. Because why not.
When he saw both of their weapons raised at each other, he raised his Widow, squaring off on Wrex’s crest. He could see Shepard’s face just at the edge of his scope, but he had a clear shot from this angle. He saw her eyes flicker to him, widen, and she shook her head minutely. He trilled loudly in the affirmative, knowing she would hear it.
From the distance you would have to use an M-98 Widow at? That’s one loud-ass subharmonic, isn’t it? That is subharmonic, right? Because if Garrus could trill that loudly with his subharmonics, wouldn’t Wrex have been able to hear it? It’s been established by that bit where Wrex heard Shepard’s subharmonics that krogan can hear turian subharmonics. So wouldn’t Wrex then turn to see Garrus there and just flip the fuck out? Or at least have some reaction to it?
He heard her negative reply as her eyes returned to Wrex’s gaze. He growled in frustration, but lowered his gun, stowing it angrily. He paced the beach as he watched them keenly, his fringe flaring in agitation. He wanted to protect his mate, but she wasn’t letting him.
So there’s nothing about how Wrex likely heard these subharmonic things?
He paused his pacing as he saw first Wrex, then Shepard lower their guns. Wrex brushed past her and stood on the shoreline, shooting into the water and kicking the sand into the air like an angry child, but he looked mostly mollified now. His anger wasn’t directed at Shepard, at least. He saw Shepard’s shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh, then watched her walk back to him, both trilling relief as she neared.
Fuck You, Science! Count: 14
Ladies and gentlemen, you know the science in a fic is shit when the in-fic science is inconsistent!
Anyway, Garrus and Taren!Sue bunch together for a bit, and then—
He followed her in, and listened as they discussed the salarian’s plan of attack. Both of their jaws fell as they heard Kirrahe’s idea of planting a bomb. He spoke up before Shepard had a chance to. “Isn’t a bomb a little extreme, Captain? It would ruin the environment of this world for centuries, not to mention being complete overkill. It’s only a medium-sized facility. I would say that smaller charges, placed throughout the facility, with a remote detonator would do the job far more efficiently, and leave the rest of the planet untouched.”
Okay. To be perfectly fair to Garrus here, I could see why he’d think this would be an excessive measure: it is unauthorized use of what is, essentially, a nuclear bomb. You know, not the kind of thing you do lightly. It would be a risky plan because what if Saren calls in reinforcements to scan for bombs, but frankly they would have had to infiltrate the facility anyway to get the nuke in there given the very specific placement the bomb needs. So I can maybe see his point about the nuke being extreme.
But what the fuck are you talking about, “it’ll ruin the environment of this world for centuries”? It’s only one fucking bomb. The scenario you just proposed would only happen if you nuke the entire fucking planet, but you’re not doing that. So what the fuck are you going on about, that you think one fucking bomb is enough to royally wreck an entire planet’s ecosystems?
Worse, you’re greatly overstating the impact of even that one nuke. Kirrahe specifically says in-game that the bomb is a 20 kiloton ordinance. That makes this bomb about as powerful as, if not slightly less powerful than, than Fat Boy (the nickname given to the nuke that was dropped over Nagasaki), which is generally listed as having a payload in the 20-22 kiloton range. And you know what? No. The results here do not make the area uninhabitable for multiple centuries, and in certain circumstances they don’t even render the area uninhabitable for one century. You see, seventy years after the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those two cities have built themselves back up, and people inhabit them with no radiation problems whatsoever. Here’s an article that explains why. And granted, that article does explain that there would be long-term effects here since the Virmire explosion is right on top of the soil. But honey, it’s not that powerful! By the logic you just presented to Kirrahe, and then counting in the fact that nuclear weapons tests done after Fat Boy all featured bombs that were several thousands of times more powerful than Fat Boy (for reference, the most powerful nuke ever detonated had an yield of 50,000 kilotons!), all life on Earth would’ve gone extinct many times over before the end of the Cold War!
Trust me, atomic bombs are destructive as hell, and I’ll be the last person to say you should resort to them. But you should also do yourself a favor and not overstate just how much damage they can actually do. It’s a nuke, not the fucking Death Star!
Fuck You, Science! Count: 15
And that’s before you get into the whole thing about how Kirrahe’s aim was to scrub the area clean of secrets, which is not something that slightly less powerful explosives can really do that well. Those ordinances can be powerful, but they don’t account for the rubble falling in such a way that the electronics could be spared. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. Plus, the area is still inhabitable, which means that any random treasure seeker can search the rubble for its secrets. And if they’re tech savvy enough, they might be able to recover something that was left behind. Meanwhile, with the equivalent of a nuke? Everything organic in the blast radius that is right next to where the bomb goes off gets vaporized. Plus, the radiation would mean that nobody would get close to it for a while. In fact, with the stupid geth hybrids, the nuke would actually be a better option than it was in the game because it would erase all traces of that research, especially the organic component.
So actually, the excess is warranted. And God, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but let Kirrahe drop the fucking nuke, Garrus!
Ah well. At least Shepard will pull through for the renegades in the audience, right?
He heard Shepard trilling gratitude once again, as they both waited for the salarian Captain to ponder this option.
Oh whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, wait. So marking Kaidan with the talons of shame is perfectly justified, and shooting a rachni is the boring option, but nuking a facility with a jury-rigged explosive is going too far?
But of course, since Taren is a Mary Sue…
“Do you have the materials for this? We didn’t exactly bring along explosives like that on a recon mission.” Kirrahe finally asked.
The shared sigh of relief from both Shepard and Garrus lifted the tension in the tent dramatically. Shepard answered first this time. “Yes, we have the needed ordinance, we just need the places to plant the charges, and we’re set.
Well, good luck with that plan. It’s not a great plan, but hey: as far as narrative contrivances taken to avoid the decision at the end of the mission, I can think of much worse routes you could have taken.
So then Taren agrees to the rest of Kirrahe’s plan, and then she assigns Ashley to go with Kirrahe as part of the thing. Taren!Sue explains what’s going to happen there, and then Ashley wishes her luck. And that ends the chapter.
We get another author’s note which reads like this:
A/N: And this is my New Year’s gift to all of you, my wonderful readers.
Pfft, “wonderful” readers. Forgive me if I don’t believe you after you went and insulted our intelligence last week.
Hope you enjoyed, and look out for more chapters coming soon!
And that ends that.
Anyway, that does that for Chapter 14. Chapter 15 is a long one, so buckle in folks! This is gonna be crazy!
Our next chapter starts with this:
A/N: I am so, so, SO flipping excited for this chapter to FINALLY BE HERE!
Why, because it’s the chapter that jumps the shark? Hate to be the bearer of bad news, lady, but that happened back when Kaidan’s jugular got slashed out.
LOTS of plot twists and crazy shit about to happen. This is where the story diverts WILDLY from the canon story, and completely changes the dynamics of the galaxy. This is no longer just AU people. This… Is a re-write. BOOYAH!
Oh fuck me…
I just flipped your world upside-down. Get ready for a wild ride, cause it’s only gonna get more strange from here on out!
But I don’t want it to get strange! Every time this fic gets strange, it just keeps getting dumber and dumber! The turian hybrid was strange, the turian punishment was strange, the geth hybrids were strange… don’t you see how being “strange” is not the same as being “good”?
Some in-game events will still happen, but I’m gonna change things up quite a bit from here on out.
Anyone with any taste bailed before this point, so I doubt they care. But hey, whatever…
Also, I MUST mention this. When You’re Strange is now coming out as a COMIC! WOOOOOOT! So yeah, look up DragonoftheDark on Deviant Art, and find the first page in her gallery!
Okay! So I actually looked up this comic, and sadly, it does exist. DragonoftheDark only got up to 13 pages before the project died, though, so thankfully the comic didn’t get to set the truly stupid parts of this fic. But yeah, it exists.
And the art is… eh…
The anatomy makes Garrus look small, and the eyes look kinda weird. On the plus side, at least there are backgrounds, and it’s done in a style that makes sense for the Mass Effect universe.
Also, at least it’s not Mass Effect 3: Generations.
And now, for Kirrahe’s epic speech. :D (and not just a little bit of epicness from Shepard herself! :D)
Oh shut up and just roll here.
So we open the chapter with…
“Alright people, listen up!”
Shepard’s remaining ground team were gathered around her outside of Captain Kirrahe’s tent, looking at her expectantly.
Okay, so then Shepard briefs the ground team on the plan of attack. She then gives it to Kirrahe, and we get plot regurgitation of his speech. Of course Taren!Sue approves of it, and then Shepard turns to her people and is like “okay, here’s what’s going down”:
“Alright people, locations for explosives are highlighted on your omni-maps, we clear and plant, look for anything we can use, then move on. We need to move fast to give Kirrahe’s group a shot at survival. We lose them, we get swarmed. That can’t happen. So let’s get our asses in gear and do this. Clear?”
Liara spoke up through the chorus of ‘Aye, Shepard’s with a look of concern. “What about hostages?”
What Taren!Sue should say: “We’ll figure that out.”
What she actually says:
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it Liara.
Wait, you mean she actually said what she should for once?
What is this witchcraft!?
I doubt there’s anyone in there that’s not indoctrinated, aside from the geth. And I’m beginning to wonder about that, too.” She bit her lip as her brows knitted together in thought. “But that’s neither here nor there until we get some solid intel on it. Let’s get this done and give Saren a run for his money! Move out!”
We then get a line break, and it’s a quick cut to Tali where she goes into moping about wanting to feel with her skin, and her Pilgrimage gift, and she follows Shepard as she calls Wrex over.
Hey, at least she wasn’t having an internal monologue about how she wanted to be loved or any stupid sexist shit like that.
We then get a line break to Wrex, and we get a rant about Kirrahe, and…
But even if this cure wasn’t complete, wasn’t it worth at least trying to save the data? Hell, if he could find the damn console that held the information, he could slip it onto his omni-tool before anyone noticed, right? Simple data transfer. Unless it was encrypted. He wasn’t a techie by any means, but he’d been around the galaxy a few times as a merc, and he’d picked up a few things in his travels. Things like auto-cracking programs. What he couldn’t make happen with know-how, he made up for with resourcefulness. It was the krogan way. Well, that, and violence.
Wait. So Wrex—a krogan, is going to try to hack the data on the genophage cure out of a terminal in a facility staffed mainly by geth. You know, robots.
His musings were interrupted by a wave from Shepard, indicating he should join her at the head of the group. As he tromped forward, a slight smirk graced his battle-scarred face.
Getting there, Cerbersheep. Getting there.
He liked Shepard. Maybe he could convince her to save the data? Would his loyalty to her be enough to cause sympathy for his whole race to bloom in her heart? But he’d aimed his shotgun at her with a desperate threat. He hadn’t wanted to shoot her, but she was letting that slimy pyjak of a salarian get away with destroying the only hope for his species. She had to be made to see the error of her ways, and what better way to do that than with the threat of death? Maybe there was another way to convince her?
Oh, calm down, Wrex. She’s Taren!Sue: she hasn’t clawed your jugular out yet, I’m sure she’ll still work for your best interests. Right, Taren!Sue?
As he reached her side, she looked at him, and sorrow shone through in her eyes. She sighed before she spoke. “Wrex, you know I hate the idea of just destroying the cure data, right?”
His eyes widened. Was this his way in? Would it really be this simple? He nodded to her, hoping that would be enough of an answer to make her keep talking.
She gave a tight nod in response. “If you see the chance, take it.”
Because this fic wouldn’t be complete without Shepard making yet another fucking stupid mistake. Like, nothing about the cultural awareness of how the things came up?
This doesn’t make sense for the turian fetishizer here, honestly. I mean, wasn’t it the turians who deployed the genophage? The salarians were hesitant to use it at first, but when the Krogan Rebellions happened the turians were like “use it” as soon as it was finished. Shit, I’m pretty sure they got their Council seat because of the Krogan Rebellions, too. So wouldn’t someone who fetishizes turian culture the way Taren continually does also logically be super xenophobic against the krogan? Or is that just her Sueness peeking out of the woodwork again?
God, this fic can’t even be consistent with how it fetishizes turian culture!
Seriously, no warning?
She must’ve seen the shock and pure joy warming his face, because she made him pause with her hand on his arm. “But Wrex. Make sure your people are ready first. Make sure that the first thing on their minds isn’t revenge, or war. You need to rebuild.
Oh, never mind. I guess I—
I know what happened, but your people need to recover, not wage war. You need to be strong and ready, so that when the reapers come, you’re not still stuck in the dark ages. Please believe me when I say I want the cure for your people probably almost as badly as you do, but they need leadership, they need direction. You have your family’s armor now. You can go back and be that leadership for them. You have greatness in you Wrex. Don’t waste it on petty revenge. Prepare them, guide them. I know you have it in you.”
Okay, you done?
She gave him a quick nod and a smile, then turned towards the facility. “Now let’s go kick Saren’s ass.”
Thank you. Because that was way too long winded, especially with how Taren!Sue gave Wrex that big long speech about “not waging wars”. You know, despite the fact that he’s already thinking along those lines anyway since he saw what the krogan were heading towards and tried to change it before he went on his journeys as a mercenary after his daddy tried to kill him.
Or is your shitty AU another excuse to avoid talking about that elephant in the room?
Anyway, Wrex feels all warm and fuzzy inside, and then he follows Shepard into battle. I wonder if he’ll be feeling quite that way when he and Shepard get put up for treason when they discover the genophage is no longer effective…
Anyway, we then cut to Ashley, where she’s like “shit, I better not fuck this up”. And of course, she’s all “I hope I can handle the pressure where everyone is expendable”. I’d ask her what the fuck she was smoking that made her think like this, but I’ll let it off the hook given that the fic directly mentions that Ash’s whole team dying on Eden Prime is a factor in her train of thought.
We then cut to an action scene that, predictably, doesn’t really amount to much. It’s just tactics everywhere, blah blah, Taren!Sue and friends own everything in sight. Predictably, they shut down the anti-aircraft guns (which, okay, they do need to get off the planet afterwards, so…), and then Taren gives a few orders (and energy bars) to folks, before Taren!Sue attempts to contact Kirrahe, who tells her to destroy the comm towers because they’re disrupting communications. They pinpoint where it is, and then they move towards it in more summarized narration.
Which is great, since—
They greeted it back with a face full of molten lead.
Okay, I actually skipped over another “pumped full of molten lead” description earlier in the fic, but now I’ve got to ask: is it actually lead that they shoot in this thing?
*runs to the codex*
… It’s not. It’s slugs. Granted, it doesn’t tell you what the slugs are made of, so it could be lead, but I really doubt it’s that. I just…
I’d buzz this for faulty science, but no. This is just not giving a shit about how things work in canon. Like, are you for real, Actually-Fucking-Half-witted?
When they found no console for easy deactivation of the comm tower, Shepard ran back down the ramp, and took aim at the dishes on top of the tower. Garrus and Liara joined her quickly, and the dishes soon gave way to their assault with a small – if satisfying – explosion.
Shepard’s request for a new target was met with a response of targeting the main facility. She gave confirmation and switched channels once more. “Alright, let’s lock ‘n load. Time to take these bastards out!”
And yes, folks, that is about the depth of most of the description in these fight scenes. “Thing gets in the way, but that’s okay because Taren!Sue was there and something badass was witnessed”. Yes, those are entire fight scenes.
At least it’s not the fight scenes from that shitty Legend of Dragoon fanfic Taco snarked a while back.
Anyway, we get a line break, and—
“RAAAAGH! I will tear her heart out!”
Rana cringed as her fingers gripped the edge of her desk in fear.
Oh hello minor character from the games! Glad to see the author remembers your existence!
Anyway, Saren is quite obviously angry, and Rana is just like “oh dear, I should go to his office even though he’s never called me there”. So she enters the office, and…
He scoffed at the rank stench of fear radiating off of her, and strode towards her, leaning over so that there was only an inch between his mouth and her ear canal. “Do you feel it tickling the base of your skull, Rana? Do you feel the caress of it on your spine? Do you hear the whispers? If you don’t, you soon will.” She whimpered and shied away from him in her chair, but he followed her, trailing a talon down the back of her neck slowly as he spoke.
Um… this happens.
“You will feel its cold fingers grasping your heart, and you will embrace the chill, just before it rips your fearful heart out. But even then, it won’t let you go. Even as you die, it will reshape you, mold you for its purpose, turn you into its pawn. You will be helpless to resist, even as you destroy those who were once closest to you. It will become your lover, your mate, and you will want nothing more than the next whisper, the next caress. Your fate is already sealed, you just don’t realize it yet. Just like your first test subject. Did you know she once sat in this very chair? She was your predecessor, Rana. No matter how much you try to fight it, it will win. Remember my words, Rana, they will soon be your only comfort.” He snarled and snapped his teeth at her, before backing off as quickly as he’d advanced, and striding out of the room.
Um… okay then! The language is definitely Saren, but what the fuck was up with his body language? Like, why did he get so hyper-sexual about this whole thing so readily? Because Saren is definitely not this sexual.
The moment he was out of sight, she sank off of the chair she had been precariously perched upon, down to the floor beneath her desk, where she shivered violently and sobbed in fear. She held her hands out before her, and they shook uncontrollably. She let her face fall into what little solace her trembling hands had to give, and cried her panic into them silently, afraid to make a sound beyond the inevitable hitching of air in her throat.
Well, to be fair, I know people who would get all panicky after their boss got all touchy-feely like that.
The soft whisper of her long-dead mother’s voice echoed soothingly in her mind. “There there, child. Calm yourself. There is no need to fear. Embrace your destiny. You are one of us now.” She blinked, and raised her head.
Why was she under a desk? She heard the lift coming up, and tried to remember what had happened in the last few minutes. She slowly recognized that she was under her own desk, and she felt something wet on her face. She touched the wetness, and was relieved to find it was only tears. She wiped them away, unsure of why she’d been crying. Her mother’s voice had soothed her, she was safe. She heard new voices coming from the elevator.
… So indoctrination suddenly works like the stereotype for schizophrenia. I guess since indoctrination is described as ‘whispers’ by Benezia there is some precedent for that, but I can’t help but feel that this is taking that idea and going a bit overboard with it. Like, the voices are loved ones? That’s a little on the nose for the Reapers’ MO, isn’t it?
Anyway, she hears the voices of Taren!Sue and company, and when they mention blowing Saren up… Well…
Saren? But he’s one of us. We must warn him.
This fic suddenly goes into first person for no reason. Because why not, right?
The elevator doors opened, and she heard the stomping of several pairs of boots entering the room. She crawled out from under the desk boldly. She had a mission.
She raised her hands in a sign of peace, proving she was unarmed. Not dangerous. “Don’t shoot! Please, I just wanna get out of here before it’s too late!”
Funny, most of us have been saying that across this entire fic!
Anyway, after that we get inexact plot regurgitation of Rana (Thanoptis, by the way) talking to Shepard about Saren’s experimentation related to indoctrination. But what she does midway through…
Look, I can help you, I can open up Saren’s private office. All his files, his research, everything he knows, you can have access to, just let me get out of here. I heard what you said on the elevator, you’re going to blow this place up, right? I’ve given you all I know, everything I’ve been told. Are we good now? Can I go?” She fidgeted impatiently, hoping the ruse would succeed.
The authoritative female gave Rana a calculating look for a few moments, then shrugged. “Whatever. You’d better run for it though, and I’d better not see you again working for someone this morally repugnant.”
Rana flashed a quick smile at the group, then ran around them quickly, nearly diving into the elevator in haste to get to Saren and warn him. Just before the doors closed, she saw the group heading up to his office.
And they don’t notice anything odd about how Rana just smiled like that? You guys really are as stupid as we think.
Also, I thought indoctrination was supposed to be way more subtle than this. Like, she hears her mother’s voice, and then suddenly she’s doing her own bidding. I can’t help but feel that indoctrination of the type Benezia described once upon a blue moon took way more time to take hold of a person than three fucking minutes. And maybe it’s not that much time, but come on: an hour is still a longer period of time than three minutes! And yet within three minutes of just stepping into Saren’s office, Rana Thanoptis is totally indoctrinated.
What the hell was in that office, a fucking Reaper tentacle?
Anyway, we then cut to the point after which Shepard gets some Prothean beacon info zapped into her head. And then, they bump into Sovereign, and they have plot regurgitation of that whole conversation. And by “plot regurgitation”, I mean “exact” plot regurgitation.
What was that you said, Actually-Fucking-Half-witted?
Some in-game events will still happen, but I’m gonna change things up quite a bit from here on out.
If by “some” you meant “most”, you’re certainly succeeding on that front. Which makes it even weirder considering the fic’s earlier propensity for just skipping the plot regurgitation entirely. And now that we’re getting mountainloads of it, and not skipping over it, it’s just becoming more pronounced that the AU just doesn’t change shit.
The fact we sometimes get snide commentary from Shepard doesn’t help:
Sovereign replied. “We are legion. The time of our return is coming. Our numbers will darken the sky of every world. You cannot escape your doom.”
‘Oh, great.’ She thought, ‘More of these egotistical bastards.’ She sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose in frustration. It was like dealing with a child. An angry, god-complex child.
Oh hey, that’s exactly how I feel reading about you, Taren!Sue!
Anyway, more plot regurgitation, blah blah, but as soon as they’re about to leave…
As she joined up with her team, she raised her voice so they could all hear. “Hey did anyone catch that on video? I have a feeling we’re gonna need evidence of this shit later. Nobody’s gonna believe us without proof that there was an actual reaper here.”
Really? Honestly, who the fuck would think to record that stuff? I mean, Sovereign just came out of nowhere, and the conversation escalates so fast that who would really think to start recording any of it?
Garrus tapped his visor. “This isn’t just for counting kills, Vima. I record all missions on it so there’s a record.
Oh, right, the super perfect boyfriend of super perfectness. Of course. I don’t really think—
It also has a sensor to collect a holo of the area around me. If you need, I can give a three dimensional recorded review of every mission I’ve had with you.
Wait, what? Sensors don’t record shit! And it can record in in 3D? What the hell—
The recordings are also tamper-proof: if someone tries to alter it other than just making a copy, the data will auto-restore to its original state. Standard C-Sec issue. Should be irrefutable proof enough, even for the council.”
She grinned at him and ribbed him with her elbow. “I knew I loved you for a reason.”
Yeah, if the fact that he conveniently has that bullshit is any indication.
I mean, wow. He’s suddenly got recording technology in his visor, which is somehow done via sensor. And he also can get it recorded in 3D, however the fuck that’s supposed to work when it’s designed to be looked through in one particular place. Never mind that the Shadow Broker dossier in ME2 explains very clearly that Garrus’ visor (which is the same one between the first two games, so the Shadow Broker dossier might apply to it (except for the etching of his Omega squad’s names into the metal)) doesn’t actually have the ability to record any kind of video, he’s got all that on standby.
I just hope he’s got the memory in that visor to hold all those multi-gigabyte files that would be stored there from several hours of recording missions between all the music and all the extra functions that visor has. I mean I doubt that’s likely given how much recording that visor does if what he says is true, but hey; if we’re going to pretend that visor has a function on it it doesn’t actually hold in-canon, let’s do it anyway!
Because why not!
He flicked his mandible in a smirk. “I thought it was my excellent sense of style and my beautiful voice.”
No, it was because she had sex with you, you took it at her pace, and it was subsequently the best sex she’d ever had in her life. Contrary to what my yelling might lead you to believe, I actually want to remember that, once upon a time, this fic had something good in it.
She pretended to ponder that for a moment while Wrex made gagging noises in the background. “Nah, those are just…” She reached up and stroked the middle spine of his fringe, “Fringe benefits.” She laughed as he tried to hold back his purr, and Wrex smacked her shoulder.
Hey, don’t make the lame puns, that’s our job!
“You’ve done well, Rana. Now you must run, and live. We will contact you again when we have need of you.”
Rana smiled at Saren, and nodded as she turned, heading quickly for the ground transports.
Saren spared only a moment to watch her flee, spreading his mandibles in a grin at the new child of the reapers. He stepped onto his personal anti-gravity unit, urging it up and forward to the platform where he knew Shepard and her team would be arriving soon. It was time to put an end to her interferences, once and for all.
So, um… Rana gets a slightly more important role here, where we see her get indoctrinated and… basically… um… do nothing she didn’t do in canon. Except get indoctrinated, and even then that’s not really that big a difference considering that Mass Effect 3 kind of made it explicit that she’d been indoctrinated at some point while working for Saren. You know, like she does here. And then she runs off after Saren congratulates her.
As he lifted over the platform, his resolve suddenly faltered. A scent hit him powerfully; one he hadn’t smelled for many years. A female in heat. It wasn’t quite as strong as he remembered it, but it was enough to distract him.
Oh for fuck’s… Goddammit, the twist is that Taren!Sue fucks the indoctrination right out of Saren with Garrus’ help and Saren is a good guy, isn’t it?
He snorted, and shook his head sharply, trying to rid himself of the distraction. He heard Sovereign’s voice in his mind, trying to punch through the hormone-induced haze that was beginning to cloud his normally sharp senses. But his instincts were strong, and even the reaper was having trouble overpowering them.
Ladies and Gentlemen: if you ever had any doubt that this fic’s ideas of turian culture make them animalistic slaves to instinct, just remember the part where a turian’s sexual instinct was so powerful fucking Reaper indoctrination had a difficult time punching through it. Yeah, apparently Benezia just needed to be an old turian and she would’ve been just peachy, now, wouldn’t she?
So then he sees Taren!Sue there, and then he ponders about where the heat scent is coming from. And of course …
He breathed deeply, trying to find the direction of the scent. It was coming directly from… ‘Shepard? Impossible! She’s human!’ He snarled as he fought with his highly confused senses.
And apparently, a quarter-turian woman’s scent in heat is strong enough that it alerts every turian around her that she’s in heat.
How the fuck has this woman not been discovered and subsequently outed as a hybrid by now?
He tried to think through the fog, and managed a small moment of clarity to speak.
And by that, you mean he’s got a question about why she’s in heat, right?
“Shepard! You cannot hope to win. Why resist? Sovereign has offered amnesty to those willing to join it. I’m trying to save countless lives here, Shepard. But you’re not making it easy. Why do you resist me at every turn? If you had any love for the galaxy, you would join us. I am in a unique position. I can keep casualties to a minimum. Can you say the same?”
Ooooor, it’ll just slip straight into kind-of plot regurgitation.
Anyway, Saren hears Shepard’s subharmonics (revealing that, indeed, Wrex has selective hearing or some shit like that), and he gets more confused. And then…
Then, she spoke. “Saren Arterius! About time we finally got to meet. Your betrayal of your friend and mine, Nihlus, has gone long enough without retribution. Not to mention your betrayal of not only the Hierarchy, but the entire galaxy! Do you have any final words before I blow your traitorous head off of your undeserving carapace?”
He blinked. She had spoken in perfect turian. In the dialect of a superior, no less.
How many times do I have to tell you, Actually-Fucking-Half-witted, that languages do not work like this!?!?!? Dialect can be a function of social class, sure, but the differences usually are not enough that it constitutes speaking in two different languages! Like, I can still understand English in a poor black neighborhood just as well as I can understand English as the queen of England speaks it. So why the fuck is it a “dialect of a superior”.
And why the fuck do they have different dialects, anyway? I get the basic idea that it implies military structure all on its own, but if you’ve ever been around an actual military you can usually see that there are lots of other ways that rank is enforced apart from language. Just watch this scene from Full Metal Jacket:
The fact that there is an entire second language is just excessive in light of that. So please, please stop it with that “dialect of a superior/subordinate” bullshit. It’s a stupid and unnecessary detail to what is already a shit depiction of turian culture, and it doubly doesn’t make sense considering how trigger-happy Taren!Sue is about throwing rank out the window when she stands to benefit from it.
So then Saren steps off and asks Taren!Sue what the fuck is going on that he’s detecting turian culture stuff from her.
He heard her speak again, in a voice so clearly turian that he must have been hallucinating to believe she was human. “Because I am both, Saren. Do you think that your anger was the only result of the Relay 314 incident? I am both, because the war demanded an end. I am both, because our species are not so dissimilar that we needed to fight over it. I am both, because the Spirits demanded peace. It was granted by other means, but the Spirits demanded my existence. Would you deny the will of the Spirits, son of Arterius? Would you follow the demands of false gods to our end, or would you follow your own Spirit, and do what is right?“
Whoah, calm your tits, Gaius Helen Mohaim! I think you need to take a step back and consider what a terrible idea it is to tell your arch-nemesis—and the puppet of the real enemy—the truth about yourself. You know, after all the shit you did to hide that in the first place? And especially in a situation like this, where most people don’t even know this yet you’re using it to call Saren to you?
But hey, we can’t let a silly little thing like logic get in the way of a badass speech, right? Because fuck logic! Who wants logic in a story?
“Strong, Independent” Woman Count: 22
Her words struck him to the core. But he could hear the whispers of Sovereign’s influence, tingling in the back of his skull. He knew he would not hold out for much longer in resistance against the machine. “I hear you, Shepard. And I thank you for trying to reach me.” He looked up at her, seeing the truth of her words. But it was not enough. He wished it were otherwise, but it was simply not enough. “But Sovereign is too strong to resist. As long as it exists, I am nothing but a tool for it to use. I am sorryyyyARGH!”
Oh good, at least it actually won out in the end. If turian libido had won out over indoctrination, I would have just up and quit right there.
Blah blah, Saren’s mind is taken over again, he gets onto his platform, shoots at Shepard, and then someone damages the platform and stuff, and then he flies away. And then we get a line break to…
“Shit! Fucking bastard got away. What I wouldn’t give to have another anti-grav unit to chase after his ass.” She scowled at the barely visible dot of Saren flying away.
“Don’t worry Vima, we’ll get him. We’re not done yet.” Garrus reassured her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
She smiled back at him while the rest of her team filed in around her from their various cover positions. She sighed heavily as she spoke. “Alright, let’s go pick up Ash and Kirrahe’s team, then blow this place. Literally.”
…the exact same scene.
Well, there was a point of view shift involved, so I’ll let it off the hook for that.
Wait, what twists were there in here?
Wait, you consider all those little bits of Taren!Sue being all “I HOPE YOU WERE RECORDING THAT” as twists?
Bitch, in order for a twist to happen, something actually has to, you know, happen. And yes, I know what you’re building to with the whole “I hope you were recording this” thing and all the stuff that was inferred throughout the chapter: you’re just finding cheap solutions to get what is ultimately evidence of Saren’s real motives so Taren!Sue can present it to the Council and remove about 60% of the tension in the universe, right? And I also see what you’re doing with the genophage cure. That’s only meant to give them a cure before ME3.
See, all of what you did in this chapter is build-up. The actual twist has not happened yet, because all you’ve done between all the bouts of regurgitating plot (yeah, funny how you say this is where things are going to converge wildly from the canon while you’re still taking part in fucking plot regurgitation, right?) is to build up to when they finally diverge. The twist happens when the payoff of all that comes, and so far there’s been almost no payoff versus a lot of build-up.
So sure, maybe it does start to diverge from here. But “twists”? I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re doing in this chapter.
And at the end of the day… really? All these elements are doing is turning Taren!Sue into a perfect little snowflake who is in a position to get what she wants because the narrative contrived bullshit ways for her to get it. Like recording that whole Sovereign conversation with video recording tech in Garrus’ visor that doesn’t exist, for instance. Frankly, if the rampant moral myopia in this story and the incredibly stupid backstory didn’t already solidify Taren Shepard’s status as a Mary Sue (and trust me, they have), this shit right here has. Because now the narrative is contriving reasons for her to show the Council that the Reapers are real in a way that the Council can’t refute, which means she’s always right and perfect and let’s watch the characters bow down to suck her clit.
And watch: knowing this fic’s track record with bashing, it’s going to use this as an excuse to bash the Council!
Well, I’ve been Herr Wozzeck, folks. I’ll see you guys next week, when we will continue this headdesk-inducing journey into utter nonsense.