1460: When You’re Strange – Chapters Twenty and Twenty-One

Title: When You’re Strange
Author: Actually-Fen-Harel
Media:  Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect
Genre: Romance/Sci-fi
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 20
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 21
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

Hello folks, and welcome back to When You’re Strange. Last time, we finally confirmed that no, this fic is one of that rare breed of Mass Effect fanfiction that wasn’t interested in giving the Council what for. While that came as a relief, we had other stupid to deal with, some of which was less intensely stupid than you might imagine.

And now we’re back in, with more of this shitty fic. So let’s not waste any time, yeah? Let’s get right to it.

Our next chapter starts off with the requisite author’s note. I think you know the drill by now: emote somewhere, faux-perkiness there, all that jazz. I honestly feel like skipping them now, because her whole attitude makes me so fucking angry I’m ready to kick pillars.

Anyway, we open the chapter itself with this:

Garrus’ omni-tool chimed three times in a row as they left the administrative section of the Presidium, indicating he had new messages.

Not that I think you actually care about this given how your past author’s notes have treated us, but I think we can figure out what the beeps were for later with context, yes?

Anyway, Garrus takes a brief look, and then he tells Shepard to go ahead. And of course…

From: Cadicus, Clan Vakarian

To: Garrus, Clan Vakarian

I’ve been able to pull up some very interesting information on your new mate, son. Her history, both personal and in military service, would be enough to give any turian pause. Given her rank and service record, I would have said I was proud to have her as a daughter, but then I find that not only is she not turian, but that she’s a damned human?

Finally! Oh my god, someone remembered that this Shepard is actually three quarters human! It’s a fucking miracle!

Wait, we’re supposed to perceive him as a bad guy, aren’t we?

You grew up hearing about the atrocities those filthy pyjaks committed against us in that damn war, how could you possibly think it was a good idea to become involved with someone of that very same species? Have you completely lost your mind? Not to mention your sense of duty.

It was one thing when you ran off and quit C-SEC to chase down that damn traitor Arterius with her, but to take her as not only your mate, but your bondmate? What could possibly possess you to do such a thing?

I fear this path you have put yourself on will lead to nothing but ruin.

I am calling you back home. You will report with all due haste to the family estate to be judged. Bring your frightening choice of a bondmate with you. We will decide what is to be done regarding both your place in this clan and hers. I do not foresee a positive outcome, for either of you; but we shall see.

Oh great, we’ve got the requisite disapproving family trope. And all I can think is “I mean, Garrus, you did this after you knew her for the very long period of time of a week, so I don’t know what you were expecting here”. And I guess it is also true that Shepard is human, and believe me I’m glad someone is finally remembering that small little fact. But I just know somewhere deep down that she’s going to find a way to make them villains for daring to point out that Garrus did something stupid here. I just know it.

Ah, well, at least there can’t possibly be anything stupid about Taren!Sue’s place in the Hierarchy.

I must ask; how it is she could possibly have a citizenship with the Hierarchy?

WHAT!?

She is not turian! It is simply not possible for a human to have turian citizenship. I can find no information as to how this is possible, though I have been able to confirm it, to the consternation of myself and the entire clan. You must both come and explain yourselves.

You know what? Count us in for that explanation, Mr. Vakarian, because I am completely puzzled on why the fuck the Hierarchy would just randomly grant this bitch citizenship! I mean, she’s human, Alliance… even if we buy whatever logic impelled Taren to apply for citizenship in the first place (which I don’t know why you would if you don’t actually intend to live there, and indeed this whole thing calls into question why she ever pledged her loyalty to the Alliance, but okay), why did the Hierarchy accept it? She’s three-quarters human (as papa Vakarian just pointed out), so what reason would they have to do that?

*headdesk*

Bah, I should’ve started a counter for Sue-traits as well as any time this woman acts like a total bitch. This is just…

*headdesk*

Anyway, he finishes reading one line on the message, and then he turns to his mother’s message.

Son, I know by now you will have read your father’s message, and I’m sure he gave you more than enough criticism to last the rest of the week, so I will attempt to lighten your mood a bit, though I admit I do share his concerns. Know that we all love you very much, we are just concerned for your future and well-being.

This Commander of yours seems to be an honorable sort,

*snerk*

Hah! Taren!Sue? Honorable? Don’t make me laugh, lady! If she’s an honorable sort, then Saren is a saint!

Oh wait.

Anyway, her tone is more “tell me about her, because you must see something in her, and I’m only asking because I’m worried”. He then ponders that for a bit, before moving on to his sister’s message:

WHAT THE HELL GARRUS? Have you lost your fucking mind?

Yes, Solana. Yes he has. I’d detail exactly why, but I’ve been doing that for the past couple of months with this fic so I don’t think I need to recap it all here.

Dad went into shock for a full ten minutes when he found out who your damn bondmate is! He said he’s calling you back home, and I’m backing that up 100%! Bonding to a human? You’ve lost it, I swear.

Can Solana be the main character of the fic now? She hasn’t even physically appeared yet and I’m rooting for her more than I ever was for Taren!Sue!

Anyway, Solana mirrors her dad here, she’s like “please tell me it’s a joke”, and then Garrus is just like “you know what, she’s my bondmate for good reason” (again, folks, this is after a week of knowing her!) blah blah, we get this long narrative ramble about Taren!Sue’s supposed virtue and how she’s such a perfect fit for him, and then he replies (replies which we don’t see, for the record), and he looks for Taren’s location and—

He flicked a mandible out in a smirk as he received her location

BAAAAAAAAAAA—

as one of the sex toy shops in the adult sector of the commons, and began a brusque walk in that direction.

—AAAaaa?

I want to know how Taren could physically be a sex shop, but hey: at least the smirk is actually warranted for once. Sorry, Cerbersheep.

BAAAAA!

*GONG*

Wha—hey! I didn’t even smirk that time, what the fuck are you aiming at me for!?

Anyway, we then cut to Tali, who is waiting for father dearest to show up in the docking bay of the Normandy. He does, where—

BAAAAAAAA!

Cerbersheep, would you—!?

She smirked at the shuttle that appeared, which was clearly geth in style.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

*GONG*

*sigh*

Well, at least he’s not aiming at me.

Obviously her father had been doing very well in his efforts to recover and re-purpose geth technology since she’d last seen him, if he had this kind of prize as his personal shuttle.

So Rael’Zorah is in a geth shuttle now. Honestly, I’m not even going to bother, because this is one of the less stupid things in this fic. Gotta pick my battles, here.

Anyway, Tali greets Rael, and then she takes them to Engineering, where the Prime is. She explains what we already know about Shepard’s aims, she’s all “I can give you information about the Reapers”, “you’ll be protected at all times”, “I’ve disabled these chips”, blah blah…

Her father and his team nodded as she finished, then began work in earnest, dismantling parts of the Prime, putting some pieces back in place that Tali had taken off and comparing code lines. They completely ignored her in their eagerness to work.

Honestly, most of that was pretty inoffensive, so no snark necessary there.

Anyway, Wrex then approaches, and they talk about the geth. Wrex is like “can they do it”, Tali is like “they can”, Wrex then looks back, before…

“I could eat. Hungry?”

He looked at her, then around the room in a bored manner, as if he didn’t care how she answered, but the mere fact that he’d asked in the first place struck her as odd. He almost always ate alone, unless Shepard decided to sit with him. Which usually ended in half of the off-duty crew sitting at the same table, while he, Shepard, and Garrus told stories of battles that seemed too impossible to believe; meaning they were at least mostly true.

She’d never heard of him actually asking anyone to eat with him. She quirked her head slightly at him, curiosity eating at her. Crossing her arms in what she hoped was a very Shepard-like negotiation pose, she decided to take the plunge.

“Starving. Is that an invitation for lunch?”

Wrex lifted his shoulders and let them fall in a shrug, “Whatever you want to call it.” He gestured to the fresh guards. “They got this, I’m hungry, you’re hungry, let’s eat.”

*le sigh*

And now the Tali/Wrex ship has moved forward. The age difference isn’t so big a deal, but considering that Tali sees him as an uncle come ME3 I feel like this ship is just too weird. Tali takes seniority pretty seriously, and I’m pretty sure that’s a minor reservation of hers when getting together with a male Shepard in-game! This just feels like a ship for the sake of this fic needing a really weird ship.

Anyway, they both go upstairs, Wrex gets the food, Tali is like “wait, do you know where to get that”, to which Wrex is like “I know where it is”, she sits down and stuff. And then Wrex gets the food, he comes back, and—

He moved towards the table he’d picked with his plate in one hand and her tube in the other, a self-satisfied smirk just barely discernible on his face.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

*GONG*

Actually-Fucking-Half-witted, it’s called a grin! Good God, start using words other than smirk, if you don’t mind!

She smiled at him as he arrived, handing her the tube before sitting down with his own plate.

“Thank you, Wrex. That’s… Very sweet of you,” she said, as she prepared her suit’s food intake port to inject into the tube he’d handed her.

Well, Wrex can be capable of that, so… good on the fic for remembering that, I guess?

Anyway, Wrex asks if it tastes bad, and Tali is like “not really”. She then turns the question on him, and…

Wrex looked from her to his plate, then back up, “Pretty much.”

She snorted, “So why don’t you have special krogan rations or food? You can’t possibly genuinely like… That.” She waved at the plate again, a bit more exaggerated than before.

He sighed, “Honestly?”

At her nod, he continued. “Because it tastes better than roasted varren.”

Tali’s eyes widened visibly. “Really? Wow, roasted varren must taste pretty bad.”

He rolled his eyes. “You have no idea. But it’s the only readily available food source on our planet besides the occasional thresher maw, which we tend to save for special occasions.”

Tali quirked her head in curiosity. “What qualifies as a special occasion for krogans?”

Wrex looked somberly at his plate in thought for a moment, then lifted his gaze to hers with the ghost of a smile on his face.

“Live births, mostly. Successful rites of passage. Funerals for warriors who died in battle.”

Huh, this conversation is pretty harmless so far. And so far, there hasn’t been any canon information conflicting with this!

Tali ‘hmmed’ before answering. “Quarians have fairly similar reasons for celebration, though we don’t celebrate deaths. Quarian pregnancies can be quite dangerous, and are often fatal. My mother died after giving birth to me.

Never mind! And let me guess: this AU is an excuse to hide the fact that you forgot the part of the game where Tali pretty blatantly tells you her mother died five years prior to the events of the games due to an airborn virus after a ship’s filtration systems broke! Because good gravy, man, it’s one thing to change a character’s backstory, but to tie it into a conversation like this?

*BAM*

And you were doing so well, too.

Our immune systems sometimes just can’t handle the shock of another body being inside us for that long. Sometimes it’s the babies that die, but more often it’s the mothers.”

Wrex had stared at her, keenly listening until that moment. “Really? How often does that happen?”

Tali dipped her head in sadness. “Around one in three births will result in the mother or child dying. On average, there are more female children born than male. Nature’s way of helping us cope and continue our species. At any time, on any ship, there will be more adult males than adult females. It is sad, but true. My birth was not celebrated; instead, there was a larger celebration when I got my first suit than for those whose mothers survived. It is traditional.”

And considering that this is never brought up in the games, I’m going to assume this was just thrown in so Tali and Wrex could have something in common that’d help the ship get together.

Silence fell between them for a few minutes after she spoke, and Wrex seemed deep in thought, staring at the space on the table between them. Finally, he spoke.

“All this time, I thought krogans were the only ones that had major birth rate problems. Seems like our species have more in common than we thought.” He glanced up at her for a few seconds, then back down to the table, his jaw moving back and forth slightly as he seemed lost in thought.

Tali smiled softly at him, and reached across the table, grasping his hand. “Wrex, I think all species have more in common than we’d like to admit, but it’s true that ours have fairly similar problems. We’ve both nearly destroyed ourselves, had to flee from our homes, been ostracized and ridiculed for many reasons, many of which weren’t true.”

She watched him as she spoke, how his eyes were drawn to their joined hands. Her grip on his hand tightened as she continued. “Even you and I personally have things in common. We are both kept from returning to our homes until we have something worthy of being let back home for. We are both treated like outsiders by nearly everyone that isn’t on this ship. We’ve both been completely alone in our journeys until Shepard came along, and we are both amazingly strong and resourceful people, in different ways.”

Yep. I wish I could say it was a good thing because sure, the immune system issue would cause problems in birth since you would be required to leave the suit (and indeed, in a better fic I’d have been looking forward to seeing how it gets fleshed out). But here, it’s just blatant in how it’s meant to give Tali and Wrex something in common to push this bizarre ship forward. I’d also ask what the fuck Tali’s Pilgrimage has in common with Wrex’s self-imposed exile due to cynicism, but hey, whatever works.

Wrex swallowed thickly and looked up at her, nodding as he returned the grip she had on his hand gently. “You’re right. All of that is part of the reason I’ve been keeping an eye on you in Engineering. You’re one of the few people I really get along with on this ship, besides Shepard herself, really. I want to make sure you’re safe.”

Tali’s mouth dropped open. Though Wrex couldn’t see that, she was sure he could see the surprise in her eyes through the glass of her mask. She blinked and tried to get her jaw working long enough to speak.

“Thank you, Wrex,” was all she managed to squeak out, as both their grips tightened on one another’s hands before releasing each other completely.

At least the actual dialogue itself is mostly harmless. It required a huge stretch (and a violation of specifically-given canon information) to get it together, but to be honest the actual dialogue between the two really isn’t that bad. We’ve seen much worse elsewhere in the Library, let’s face it.

Anyway, Tali thinks of the warmth of Wrex’s hand, they both feel a little awkward, Tali thanks him for lunch, she runs off, he tries to follow her but she insists he finish his lunch, and the scene ends with…

He waited until he heard the lift gate close behind her to release the groaning sigh he’d been holding.

“Damn women.”

Hey, at least she isn’t doing this:

You’d have a real mental case on hand if she were, trust me.

Anyway, we then cut to engineering, where Tali’s father gives her some technobabble about code and shit and all this stuff about chips. Blah blah, nothing to see there.

We then cut back to Taren!Sue as she leaves the shop, Garrus and Liara behind her.

“Well, that was productive!” she said as she smiled at them both in turn, Liara rolling her eyes slightly when Shepard’s smile beamed at her.

“Yes, if by ‘productive’ you mean that you bought half the sex store just to embarrass me, it was quite productive,” Liara grumbled.

Shepard laughed. “Liara, if you weren’t so easily embarrassed, it wouldn’t have been half so much fun.

You are so lucky you’ve finally dropped the “LIARA IS AN IMMATURE BITCH” whining: if you hadn’t, I might’ve been less convinced that Taren!Sue was giving her friendly banter.

But no, I was more referring to the awesome mods I picked up for all of our guns. They are SO much better than what we had! I just wish they’d had them out sooner. These will let us kick ass with so much more style!”

And she’s back to being all “LOOK AT ME, I’M A BADASS WITH STYLE”. Seriously, only you would think gun mods were stylish, Taren!Sue!

Liara rolled her eyes a second time. “Only you would think gun mods were stylish, Shepard.”

See? Liara gets it!

Garrus interrupted her with a snort. “Excuse me, but I happen to agree with Shepard. The better the mods, the more stylish the slaughtering.”

And I would be more on board with that, if it weren’t for the fact that Taren!Sue’s definition of “badass” often translates to “impractical”. So yeah, you keep losing me here.

Anyway, they return to the—

A moment of silence passed as they felt the shift in gravity of the shuttle passing through the Widow relay. Another five minutes or so, and they would reach the Normandy.

*headdesk*

Actually-Fucking-Half-witted, the Normandy docks with the Citadel! Part of the tension of the Citadel escape before Ilos was that Shepard had to get Anderson to lift a lock on the Normandy keeping it at dock! Why the fuck would it be on the other side of the relay from the Citadel? I just… I can’t…

*headdesk*

This just makes negative sense.

Anyway, Taren!Sue then asks what was important about those omni-tool pings, and then Garrus is like “family business”, and he doesn’t feel like discussing it because Liara. Anyway, Taren!Sue is like “oh, yeah…” They arrive, and then Joker tells them Tali’s working on the prime with her team, and she’s like “we’re not going anywhere right now”. So then Joker cuts out, and Taren tells Garrus to drop the mods off with Ash. Of course, she makes a reference to the sex toys, and Liara…

Liara put a hand up to halt Shepard’s progression. “Wait a minute. You have no problem embarrassing me to the point of agony, but when it comes to the rest of your crew, you don’t want to embarrass them? What makes me so special, exactly?” She crossed her arms and stood resolutely in place, waiting for Shepard’s reason.

Shepard barked a laugh. “Liara, it’s not that you’re so special. Frankly, it’s just that you’re the easiest of the entire crew to pick on. Also, this happens to be one of the easiest ways to fluster you. I’m sorry if it really bothered you that much. I just figured it was time you got out there and saw some of what the galaxy has to offer, that’s all.”

*sigh*

I guess it’s good to see that this fic got over itself in terms of the Liara bashing. That still doesn’t mean I feel comfortable reading this, mostly since I’m always afraid it’ll just dip right back into that. But hey, it finally stopped bashing Liara.

Now if only it would do the same to Kaidan… which for the record, I can’t help but notice he hasn’t been brought up since the last time he’s appeared. So was the thing Shepard wanted to do with him really so bad you didn’t want to describe it? Because that would not be surprising in the least.

She smiled softly at Liara and rested a hand on her shoulder. Liara raised an eyebrow, and opened her own bag enough to show the item placed on the top of the pile of things Taren had bought her.

“So, buying me an elcor phallus was a part of this vaunted galactic education, I’m guessing?”

*snort*

Okay, I’ll admit: that mental image is actually pretty funny. And knowing Liara…

Anyway, Garrus and Taren!Sue have a laugh at that, and eventually, Taren is just like “nah, I was just being funny”. And then even she gets in on the joke, and then she tells Garrus to go up to their quarters, and they both do so quickly. Taren!Sue then asks about the pings, and after some annoyance, Garrus is like “dad’s calling me back to Palaven”.

He trilled worry as he spoke, “They think you’re human. Well, completely human anyway.

And you’re surprised by this? Her father was a human, most records would probably state she was born on a human colony, she was an Alliance brat, and she has a reputation as the first human Spectre. Of course they’re going to think she’s totally human!

Though you’d wonder why Palaven’s records wouldn’t clarify that.

Apparently the records on Palaven state that you don’t have any turian in you, and my father is… Well, he’s outraged and confused. He thinks you’re a fraud.

Oh right: if the bureaucrats had actually done their jobs and written notes down somewhere on the paperwork, we wouldn’t have this plot thread, and there’d be no conflict in their romance. Don’t you just love bureaucracy, ladies and gentlemen?

*shudder*

Ugh, if only this weren’t an election year…

My mother is trying to be open minded about it, but she’s worried that you can’t bond with me properly. My sister is almost as angry as my father, but I think she’ll see the truth easier than he will. They’re all worried that you’ll ruin me, that I’m not following my duty, that we’ll cause a scandal. We’re both going to be tested to see if we’re to be allowed to be in the clan. Not just you.”

She was outraged. “You’ve gotta be shitting me! How could the records on my citizenship be this fucked up? How could they possibly be considering excommunication for you? This is insane. This is fucking… That’s it, the second Tali gets that damn geth sorted, we’re going to Palaven.

Um, Taren!Sue, are you sure that’s a good idea? Last I checked, you had a Rogue Spectre who was about to usher in an invasion staged by a group of sentient, all-powerful machines that you were hell-bent on stopping. Shouldn’t you, you know, ensure that there’s a Palaven to come back to before you sort out a bureaucratic error?

I’m not going to stand by while your name and reputation in your clan get tarnished just because of a fucking clerical error.”

She leapt off of his lap and ran to her console in search of her citizenship records.

Right. This just in, folks: apparently, squabbles with you inlaws that are prompted by bureaucratic mistakes are more important to sort out than the fate of the entire galaxy! Great decision-making there, Taren!Sue!

*hits buzzer*

“Strong, Independent” Woman Count: 25

We then cut back to Tali, where…

Tali startled as the Prime’s head moved, its optical sensor lighting up and pointing at her. It didn’t move for some time, and she went back to work repairing its vocal processors, occasionally stealing nervous glimpses of its ‘eye’ looking at her. Finally, she repaired the last damaged circuit and activated the module.

The first sound the Prime made was a hair-raising mechanical scream.

Oh yay, something went wrong. How totally surprising.

*headdesk*

Anyway, we then open the next chapter with…

A/N: So I decided to get back into the swing of things, instead of leaving you guys hanging on that delicious cliffhanger for a while longer. :P

Consider this my gift to you, my wonderful, gorgeous readers. You have no idea how much I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you for your fantastic support of this story and myself; it has been a strange and cherished journey so far, and I hope it will be even more so as we move along!

Author, shut up. This is the same audience you treated like children in that patronizing author’s note. Don’t pull this sweet, thankful bullshit with us now. It tends to fall flat.

Additional: I KNOW, I know; it’s been FOREVER since the last update. I’m so sorry guys. I’ve written a book in the time I’ve been away though (which was actually based on this story, adapted to original fiction.), so I haven’t given up on writing, I just haven’t been writing this. I will do my best to keep the updates on this coming more frequently! So sorry guys. PLEASE FORGIVE ME! :(

Aaaaaaaaand, that gets to the elephant in the room. Yes, this fic got the Fifty Shades treatment, in that it was adapted out of this fandom and into a piece of fiction for profit. And unfortunately, she also put it for sale. Lucky for us, though, it looks like she went with the self-publishing route and doesn’t have the business savvy required to really get her writing out there. Of course, you can find it on Amazon, here.

It even comes with a free preview! Which I’ve read, and… yeah, it’s only okay at best. It does start right at the bit where they have an alien prisoner, so I assume it goes into all the insanity before Taren!Sue’s birth. Which hey, means she gets to figure out what setting to establish outside of Mass Effect for this stupidity!

And in terms of the writing itself… well, it’s basically not that different from here. The characters seem okay, but the prose is a bit on the purple side. Also, in the preview, it goes on and on about this anesthetic one of the characters made that it frankly could’ve cut in half to no great loss, so it looks like there’s a pacing issue there, too.

I don’t know. I haven’t read the full product… and honestly, judging from the fic it was based on, I’m not sure if I want to. Sure, it promises a cute, sexy romance, and we know she can deliver on the cute part, but with the science fails and the continuity fails and the Kaidan bullshit… no.

Anyway, she tells readers who might not remember things to reread the past two chapters, and then we open to…

All eyes zeroed in on the source of the eerily organic, yet still synthetic sound in engineering. Everyone that had been near the Prime jumped back. Those squatting ended up flat on their rears in shock at the sudden outburst. Rael’Zorah recovered first.

“Shut it off!” he cried, waving wildly at Tali as the sound continued to overload his suit’s auditory sensors.

Tali scrambled for her original position, disconnecting the last relay she had just soldered before it even had a chance to cool. The silence that followed was more deafening than the geth’s scream. She looked up at her father, unmasked confusion and horror clearly visible through her masked face. “Why was it screaming? Surely it can’t feel pain… would it even know how to process such a thing?”

Well, I mean, it got augmented with organic parts. Which is another reason why that organic parts bullshit is stupid, but hey, anything for the Awesome McEvil bullshit Saren pulled, right?

Rael hung his head, shoulders sagging a bit in what seemed like defeat.

“It does have a rudimentary nervous system. I was hoping the organic systems hadn’t been that far integrated into its mainframe, but apparently I was wrong. This just got a lot more complicated than it needed to be. As much as I hate to admit it, we’re going to need your ship’s physician in here to administer whatever pain medications she can to this… thing.”

He flicked his wrist in the general direction of the Prime before folding his arms across his chest and shuddering, displaying his disgust.

You might also want to find out why it’s in pain so you can stop it? That might help too, Rael’Zorah. I know you consider geth to be subhuman entities, but come on!

Watch, it’s going to be one of the techies who did it, too.

One of his female techs spoke up as she continued working, “I may have had something to do with that.”

*facepalm*

Oh come on!

She looked up as the silence grew heavy, finding all eyes turned to her, to which she made a small, dismissive gesture with her hand.

“I may have been testing its pain receptors at the same time as you activated its vocal processors. The timing was hardly intentional, however.”

“I would appreciate it if you would have alerted us to the discovery of something so advanced when you found it,” Rael chastised. “That information would’ve been useful to have, considering it was so obvious that Tali was working on its vocal processors. A little warning next time, if you please, Daro.”

And yeah, I can agree with Rael here. Though what I want to know is how did you know it was a pain receptor? I know you’re hacking into the geth, but come on.

Also, oh hai Daro’Xen. It’s so lovely to see you!

So then Tali pulls Rael aside for a second, and is like “wait, you brought her here?” Rael points out that Daro is his best tech, and that he took her along for that.

Tali’s reaction is calm and understated.

don’t agree with her methods?” Tali’s eyes widened in surprise. “You approve of them? She’s a monster, father. She’s a sadistic creature who loves nothing better than to find the most painful, invasive techniques possible to perform on her victims. Her own parents were disgusted by her behavior. You know this. How can you possibly justify bringing her? You heard it screaming! I may not have sympathy for it, but it’s obvious that she only sees this as one of her experiments.”

And frankly, you should too, Tali. Seriously, when the fuck did you start feeling sympathy for a geth? You do realize this is one of the machines that drove your people from the homeworld, right? You say you don’t have sympathy for it, but frankly? That’s bullshit, considering you’re talking about how Daro’s a sick, sadistic bitch. You wouldn’t be bringing that up for any other reason than “why are you subjecting a geth to that!?”

Also, what fucking “victims” are you talking about? Daro’Xen is a techie, not a scientist. What the fuck would she slice open on the Fleet that could suffer, a squirrel? How did it get on the Fleet, anyway? And if she cuts up her fellow quarians, how would she be in a position to be part of the admiralty board in the second game? Daro’Xen may be an opportunist, but I don’t know what the fuck would exist on the Fleet that would paint her as a sadist!

Well, okay, except her toys. But that’s just it: she doesn’t see the geth as people. If you actually look at what Daro’Xen does in Mass Effect 3, she tends to be clinical. She also has more of a quarian supremacist outlook than one of outright sadism, and only sees the geth to that effect.

“Tali, whether that is or is not the case,” Rael shook his head, “she will do her job. Granted, she needs to be reminded occasionally to stay on track, I will give you that much. But she’s the best of my techs. I need her on this. I think you’re just still holding a grudge against her for breaking your toys when you were a child.

*snerk*

Wow, really? That may play into that?

You need to let go of that, it happened so long ago. It’s not proper to hold a grudge that long and you know it.”

And why would Daro’Xen do that? Last I checked, Daro only fucked with her own toys!

“Grudge?” Tali stepped back in shock. “I have no grudge against her, father. What I do have is a disgust for the sickening things she did to my ‘toys’ as you call them,” she huffed, air-quoting the word. “She will do the same thing here, mark my words.”

And those things are…? I know that Rael would know full well, but unless you plan on alluding to what she did in the near future, I think this is just a case of doing whatever. Also, I don’t think the canon ever mentioned that Daro’Xen did anything to anyone else’s toys but her own, so…

*headdesk*

Wow, we finally have our first case of bashing towards one of the game’s authority figures, and it’s the quarians who are on the receiving end of that! I mean, we’ve seen bashing because Actually-Fucking-Half-witted couldn’t even be bothered to get the character right, but this is entirely different! This is looking at the character’s canon actions, and completely misunderstanding why they do the things they do!

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Anyway, Tali stomps off, and then we cut to Garrus and Taren!Sue as they wait for the citizenship records to be fixed. He tries to calm her down, but she isn’t having it. He then fiddles with his visor, and we get a thing about how he bought a sick visor for Taren. He then transfers some programs onto it, and he smiles a bit as he thinks about that. And then, Taren is told her citizenship paperwork is all back in order, and she’s finally in relief. And then, Garrus presents the visor to her, and of course…

“No, Vima,” he chuckled, “it’s not just a targeting visor. It has more functions than what you probably used in basic. They’re almost like omni-tools now, except without the games. It even has a private communication channel that’s tuned to my visor. It can also play music and record missions just like mine does. You’ll see, it’s quite useful for much more than combat.”

“So that’s why you’ve always got yours on?” she raised her eyebrow at him again. “Trying to drown out our mission briefings with turian battle marches?” she smiled, trilling a humorous tone.

“Hardly,” he rolled his eyes. “But it is useful for all kinds of situations. Try it on, you’ll see.”

He looked on eagerly as she shrugged, taking the visor out of the box and keying it on. As it began to glow red again, she scrunched up her nose at it.

“Red? What made you pick that color?”

“Your armor,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder at her armor locker. “The red stripes.”

She laughed, “That’s only there because of my N7 rank. I’ve honestly been thinking of repainting it lately.”

He trilled curiously, “What color?”

She looked up to his eyes and smiled, almost shyly.

“Blue.”

His mandibles fluttered as his heart went into overdrive. Repainting her armor to match the color of his clan markings was as close as she could legally get to donning his markings before she was accepted into his clan. He lowered his face to hers, nuzzling her forehead and keening his love to her.

More mostly harmless lovey-dovey dialogue. Why do you think I skipped most of this scene?

Anyway, we then cut to Ashley as she reads Tennyson on the way to the crew deck. She goes off to eat something when she bumps into Liara. Liara picks up the datapad with the Tennyson, and then she Liara recites the Tennyson. This surprises Ashley, and Liara is like “I know his stuff”. Ash asks if Liara has eaten yet, before inviting her to talk Tennyson with her over lunch.

“Yes, I would like that,” Liara nodded enthusiastically, “Very much.” She blushed again, looking down again.

“Hey,” Ash reached over to stop Liara’s hand as it rushed to cover her cheek again, “none of that. It looks good on you. Besides, Tennyson is nothing to be embarrassed about.”

She smiled softly as she turned to the fridge. It was only as she started looking for something to eat that she realized her heart was pounding.

Aaaaaaaand Ash/Liara is apparently a ship now.

*headdesk*

 

This fic is about as subtle with its romance set-ups as a Mahler Hammer. Like, you know, Alma.

Anyway, Taren!Sue goes down to engineering, and then Tali introduces her to the team. Taren!Sue asks how progress is going with the prime, and he tells her it’s about ready to be activated. She congratulates him, before asking to talk to Tali. Of course…

Rael glanced over at Tali for an instant, then looked back to Shepard.

“It’s nothing too serious, is it Captain? She has been behaving properly under your command, I hope.”

Shepard held her hands out in refusal as she replied, “Oh no, nothing like that at all, sir. She’s been the model crew member, going above and beyond my expectations many times.

Yes, she has been the model crew member who goes above and beyond my expectations! Which is exactly why she didn’t even warrant a mention for eleven chapters! See? She was so useful!

I just want her opinion on something is all. Can you spare her?”

“Of course, Captain,” Rael gave a respectful nod. “Please send her back here when you are done, if you would. Timing is crucial at this juncture; I will need her help before we are done.”

Shepard nodded curtly, “And you’ll have her, Admiral. I only need her for a minute; she’ll be right back.”

And knowing Taren!Sue, it’ll just go on and on.

Anyway, Shepard takes Tali aside, and of course Tali takes the time to bitch about Daro’Xen some more:

I do have a concern about one member of my father’s team, though.”

“Oh?” Shepard raised an eyebrow, “What’s the problem?”

Tali wrung her hands as she spoke. “I’m not sure if it’s a problem really, I talked to my father about it, but he seemed to think I was just holding a grudge. I’m not, by the way. I think it’s a legitimate concern.”

Shepard nodded, “Well, is this someone we need to keep an eye on? Do they need to be taken off the project?”

“I really don’t know,” Tali sighed uncertainly. “She’s got a bad history of being extremely unethical and sadistic in her experiments. I don’t know if it will be a problem here, but I am worried about it.”

“Hmm,” Shepard chewed her lip in thought. “Do you think she’s a security risk?”

Not any more than you are, that’s for goddamn sure, Taren!Sue!

Tali shrugged, “I really don’t know, Taren. It could be fine, but I won’t know until the geth is activated. And it would be too late by then, if she did happen to do something bad to it.”

Shepard’s brow knit together in confusion. “Why would your father have someone like that on his team? Surely he could find someone more reliable?”

Well, I mean, she can back off if you—

Tali hung her head and sighed.

“She is an expert on the geth. She’s excellent in her field but she’s just known for being very unethical about her practices. She has no sympathy for anything or anyone. Her own parents were disgusted by her behavior when they found out what she’d done to the family pet before she left for her pilgrimage.”

Wait, what?

Shepard shifted her weight uneasily to the other foot, leaning away from the Mako. “What did she do?”

Tali’s hand movements became erratic as she struggled with the despicable truth of what had been revealed so long ago.

“She…” Tali paused, struggling with the words. Her voice dropped to a whisper as she took a shaky breath and spoke, “She’d skinned and dissected it. It was horrible.”

No no no no no, back up. Let’s not even talk about what she did to the damn pet. What I want to know is what the fuck a family pet is doing in the Migrant Fleet in the first place!

I mean, really? Actually-Fucking-Half-witted, you are aware that the Migrant Fleet has extremely limited resources, right? It informs their entire culture: it’s why the fucking Pilgrimage exists. Everything a quarian does, it’s in service to the Fleet. It’s in disrepair, it has limited resources, and they pretty much have to take everything they can get. Therefore, they take the view of not wasting any kind of resources.

And, sad as it may be, that means pets are out of the question for the Fleet. I mean, seriously, do you know how hard it can be to take care of a pet? You need to give the pet food, you need to give it space, you need to watch its health, and every so often you need to go to the vet to get it taken care of. All of that takes up resources. Therefore, it’s very likely that the Migrant Fleet would see having a pet animal as a waste of resources that gets in the way of preserving the quarian species. It may not be nice, but it’s practical.

So why is this even here?

“What!?” Shepard’s eyes widened in horror. “Spirits, how vile. How could anyone do that?”

Tali shuddered. “I don’t know. It wasn’t officially a crime, so nothing was done about it publicly, although her parents sent her to psychological counseling when she returned to the flotilla. I really don’t think she changed because she went from killing the family pet to studying and dissecting geth. All she did was change her focus. Like I said, Taren; I can’t be sure she would do anything with the geth here, but her presence worries me.”

Oh, right, because we need something to set Daro’Xen up as a psychopath who would experiment on geth like this. Which would, you know, require her to see the geth as people. Which she canonically does not. And technically, Tali doesn’t either until she meets Legion: and here she’s talking about “she’s going to hurt the poor geth” as if it had emotions even before she knows it has emotions.

*headdesk*

Good Lord, and I thought my take on Daro’Xen in MV3 was needlessly cruel and bash-ey!

“Well I don’t blame you, Tali. It worries me too. She’s a mental case; she shouldn’t be working on something this sensitive. If you think she should be off the project, just say the word.

Wow. This has hit fanfiction bashing singularity: for once, the character isn’t getting bashed because the Sue hates her. Well okay, she technically does, but that’s thanks to Tali, so Taren is just an accessory to this.

I honestly don’t know how to feel about this…

Shepard then asks Tali how long until the geth is ready for activation. Tali tells her it’ll need to go to the med-bay to deal with the organic tissue, and Shepard is like “sure, go ahead”. Taren!Sue tells her to keep an eye on Daro, and then Shepard sends Tali back to the engineering thing.

Shepard sighed and leaned back to the Mako, moving to let her back fall against it and slid down to the ground, burying her face in her hands. She heaved a heavy sigh as she mulled over their current situation. Chasing a rogue Spectre hell-bent on joining the reapers and forcing the galaxy to go with him,

Which you’re forgetting about to go sort out Garrus’ family problems, but okay, let’s pretend you care about that for this rambling about how troubled you are…

this insane situation with the geth, the complication with the Vakarian clan… she threaded her fingers through her hair, fisting it gently in frustration. How had her life become so overwhelmingly complicated so quickly?

Because the fic realized you weren’t relatable, and is now pulling shit out of its ass to make it look like you are a well-written character.

The reapers she could deal with. While even that problem had its own complexities, it was much simpler to rationalize dealing with a threat to the galaxy. If something threatened your home, you defended your home. Simple. Dealing with Saren would hopefully be a problem at least mostly resolved by the geth in the next room.

You keep saying that, but you don’t explain exactly how this geth is supposed to do that. The only thing I can see it doing is acting as an extra soldier in its army, and that’s it. So what the fuck is this geth supposed to do that is so important it has to be dealt with like this?

She turned her head to look toward engineering, a shred of hope sifting through her emotional sieve at the thought of a possible ally being created behind those doors.

If they could somehow get the geth to find a signal that would disrupt the indoctrination signal Sovereign transmitted, Saren would no longer be a threat. She knew there was a turian beneath all of the brainwashing the reapers were doing to him. If she could only reach that turian, there was hope for him and the reapers would lose a powerful ally.

Well, to be fair, it could’ve been dumber. That said, it’s still stupid, but not in the way you might expect.

Y’all remember Shiala from the Feros mission, right? She’s literally the only character in the entire Mass Effect trilogy who has managed to survive indoctrination. And even then, she only did it because she got mind controlled by the Thorian for a bit: whatever it did to her managed to break the Reapers’ signal on her. So theoretically, I can see what Actually-Fen-Harel is going for here: find a signal that can disrupt the indoctrination, and stop the connection. So in theory, it’s not a bad idea.

In theory. The problem is that any brain affected by indoctrination is changed forever. Shiala herself even mentions that she still feels the pull of the Reapers in her mind in an e-mail she can send to Shepard in ME3, it’s just that in her case the signal is overridden by her connection to the other colonists, which is left over from the Thorian’s spores. So evidently, in order to break the indoctrination fully, she needed to be controlled by something else.

So see, the reason this is stupid is not because it’s dumb on a fundamental level (like pretty much anything else that is explained by this fic’s shitty science): it’s only stupid because she’s charging in with only half of a plan. She has a plan to disconnect Saren from Sovereign’s control, but what is she then going to override it with? Because that’s technically the only way to break the mental damage done there, if canon information is any indication.

*sigh*

Hopefully they’ll fill in that half of the plan with something soon. Maybe she doesn’t have the whole plan ready, but… That would be nice if they figure out what to do with that.

Anyway, Taren!Sue then hopes Daro’Xen doesn’t get in the way, and then she turns her attention to the Vakarian clan issue. And of course…

It had been years since she’d been to Palaven, a simple tourist at the time; a soldier on medical leave after Akuze. Karin had suggested she take her mental recuperative time there, amongst the people she felt most at home with. Knowing the languages had been helpful, but she had to hide her turian heritage just as much there as she did anywhere else. Going there now, to prove that she was turian enough; that she was worthy of being a daughter of the Hierarchy, felt strange.

Not to mention it also adds a massive layer of stupidity to the whole fetishization of turian culture, because why would Taren get to enjoy it if she still has to suppress her turian side even in the homeworld of the side of her she adores most!? I honestly just can’t even right now.

She knew she couldn’t rely on her human side to get her through the trials the Vakarian clan would put her through. She would have to bury that side of her as much as possible if she had any chance of being accepted. Everything about her would be scrutinized. Her appearance, heritage, behavior, loyalty, courage, beliefs, and especially her understanding of her place within the Hierarchy and the galaxy in general. All of it would be tested thoroughly. Would she be found wanting?

Considering you’re three quarters human and only one quarter turian, and were raised on a human colony with no real connection to the Hierarchy?

Ladies and gentlemen, say it with me:

Being barefaced, despite having come from a clan originally, would be even worse for her. The hierarchy hadn’t seen fit to grant her mother the honor of wearing her clan’s markings because of her mixed blood. The same ‘courtesy’ had been extended to Taren, as a result. She scoffed and shook her head, bracing her elbows on her bent knees in front of her. She marveled at how doggedly loyal she was to a system that had so vehemently denied her and her mother’s’ right to bear the marks of their clan. It was like some twisted sense of brainwashing that she’d been taught to be so loyal to the Hierarchy, despite how they’d wronged her family.

So what if they weren’t completely turian physically? Their hearts were turian. Her mother had insisted on that loyalty until the day she was ripped from Taren’s life by the cruelty of aliens that had no idea what they’d destroyed. Oh, Taren had found justice against the batarians that killed her parents, to be sure, but it hadn’t brought her mother back. It hadn’t filled the gaping hole left in her chest by the one person who knew what it was like to be so different like she was. Taren growled, subvocals crying out her pain. She refused to cry, but she could vocalize her sorrow here, in this empty space on her ship, alone.

Then why do you keep doing things the Hierarchy’s way, you thick bint!? This is just more ammo to throw into the fire for why she shouldn’t be falling on her turian side so much! Like, they treat you like shit but you still feel like doing things their way? And meanwhile, you have the Alliance over here, and you have people within the Alliance who are not only willing to cover your stupid ass (because let’s face it, how else did you manage to get through boot camp without your hybridism being a social issue), but are also willing to give you a home, and rights, and everything you could ever want! Granted, you have to hide who you are with them too, but you have Chakwas and Anderson, both of whom are confidants within the system you live in!

Jesus Christ, I never thought I’d see the day where I decry exoticism in a piece of fiction for any reason other than “it’s culturally appropriative, what the fuck are you doing”. Here it just makes no sense, except if you think about it as the author creating a culture and milking how mysterious it is to the reader for all it’s worth! That’s literally the only reason Taren!Sue obsesses over her turian side so much: it’s the author’s way of saying “look at me, I invented this whole culture, let me have this character show you how awesome it is”!

The impending trip to Palaven was opening old wounds that had long since been stitched together. They would never quite heal, but they were usually more manageable than this. She needed to get it all out now, before she was in the midst of whatever trials the Vakarians had planned for her. It would not do to be falling apart during the trials.

It’s really too bad this fic has been falling apart for a while. It’s also too bad you don’t realize it.

Anyway, she then is all “I have to work off some stress”, before opening up a chat client and telling Wrex she needs a sparring partner that isn’t Garrus. She explains what happened with Garrus’ parents, and then Wrex is like “okay, I’ll come down”. They exchange some insults (though mostly it’s Wrex that does the insulting), she calls him a turtle, and then…

The doors hissed open to admit Wrex into the cargo bay, a confused look on his face. “What’s a turtle?”

Shepard gave a lopsided grin. “Want to see? I can show you.”

He shrugged as he neared her side. “Sure, why not?”

She brought up an extranet tab and sent the word through the image search. She scrolled through until she found a Galápagos tortoise. She sent the image to his ‘tool.

*headdesk*

Are you serious!?

“That’s one species of turtle. It has a lifespan of over a hundred years, which makes it one of the longest living of it’s kind, and it’s also the largest of the tortoise species on Earth. It almost went extinct years ago, but we managed to save them.”

What the fuck does—?

*BOOM*

Oh, for—! Cerbersheep, nobody smirked! What the fuck are you—?

*Lyle bursts into Herr’s riffing chamber, flanked by her ninja and her barista.  Koori wheels in the chalkboard while Lina passes out refreshments and coupons*

Lyle: What the ever-loving-monkey-gods does this twatmuffin think she’s getting at?! *grabs the chalk, chugs a mocha, and – oblivious to the fact she’s interrupting Herr’s riff – draws a ven diagram that looks like a donut*

“Turtle” is a vernacular, catch-all name for small reptiles that produce their own protective shell out of either cartilage or bone. *writes the word Turtle in the bigger, outer circle*

“Tortoise” is a vernacular non-catch-all for slow, land-bound reptiles that produce their own protective shell out of either cartilage or bone.  *writes the word Tortoise in the smaller, inner circle*

Turtle Graphic 1

While, from a zoological, classification stand point, you can say that a tortoise is a turtle, you cannot say that a turtle is a tortoise.  This is because tortoise is a family.  Testudinidae, to be precise.

As I said, “turtle” and “tortoise” are vernacular words.  In truth, the order of these animals is Testudines.  Right under that, you have the Suborder, of which there are 2 in the Testudine order “Cryptodira” and “Pleurodira.”  After the Suborder, you have the Family.  This is where they diverge into different species.

There are a grand total of 14 families of Testudines (I’m not going to use the term turtle because it’s vernacular).  Within those 14 families, 3 are Pleurodira and 11 are Cryptodira.  Testudinidae are Cryptodira, and they are the only “tortoise” containing family in the entirety of the Testudines.

*puts her chalk down and accepts Carlos as Koori hands him over*

*BZZZZZZZZZZZZT!*

Out of 14 possible families of Testudines, you came up with one of the Testudinidae as your best fucking example?!  Are you so stupid that you think Tortoise when you hear Turtle?!  Is this because the only fucking turtles you’ve ever heard of are teenaged ninjas so you have no idea what to actually look for and assumed that the Galapagos Tortoise was going to be a prime example of an entire fucking order of animals?!  Tortoises are a fraction of what is zoologically a turtle.  And in many circles they aren’t even considered the same fucking thing.  Because they’re not.  They share an order.  But they are not the same species.

Fuck off, cuntwaffe.  Learn to use Google for once in your ignorant life.  Because, guess what?  If you do a Google image search for “turtle” this is your first result:

Turtle Graphic 2

The common fucking box turtle.  Testudine Emydidae, Terrapene carolina. 

You know what none of the images are of?  Tortoises.

*drops the mic and walks out*

*Koori wheels the chalkboard out and Lina picks up the microphone*

Lina:  The hell did she get this from?  *hands it to Herr, along with another coupon, and follows the others out*

Herr:

What the fuck just happened?

I’m just gonna hit this buzzer and go on with my life.

*hits buzzer*

Fuck You, Science! Count: 18

Anyway, they insult each other some more, they start to spar, and then we cut to Ashley and Liara again.

Ash had to admit, Liara was starting to grow on her. She glanced nervously at her omni-tool, suspecting she was late returning to her station. She was. Only a few minutes, but still. Damn. She only hoped Shepard wasn’t around to notice her tardiness. She’d had a lot of fun talking to Liara. The asari knew more about the galaxy and literature than she’d thought. Ash had always assumed Liara’s only interests were protheans and dig sites, but she’d been wrong. So wrong.

Ash found Liara to be knowledgeable about many of Earth’s poets and classic authors. In exchange, Liara opened Ash’s eyes to the riches that some of the other race’s literary greats had to offer. They’d ended their meal with a promise to meet after Ash’s shift to go over some of the better reading choices from other races for her downtime. She found herself feeling excited to learn more.

Which is exactly why you’re telling us about it instead of showing it, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, this would’ve been a fun idea to explore. You know, if you’d actually explored it! But hey, I guess that means you’d have to actually invent classic literature for all the other races, and that’s just too damn hard, now, isn’t it?

Anyway, she hears loud bangs and such, and when she comes in and sees—

As the elevator finally ground to a halt, the doors slowly opened to reveal a scene of chaos unfolding before her. The crates in the storage area were nearly at their tipping point with scorch marks that stretched across them and the Mako, though the core of the tank appeared relatively undamaged. There was a dent in one of the lockers, which continued in a long scrape along several of the adjoining lockers. The weapons parts on her workstation had all been seemingly pushed to the back of it, instead of the neat order she’d left them in… and Shepard was ducking and rolling to avoid a biotic blast thrown by Wrex in the middle of the bay.

*headdesks onto buzzer*

“Strong, Independent” Woman Count: 26

Are you for real, Taren!Sue? You’re letting yourself get tossed around the cargo bay by Wrex in ways that is causing actual tangible damage to the Normandy? Really?

*headdesk*

You know, it’s the funniest thing. In Actually-Fen-Harel’s bio page on Amazon, she says this about how she grew up:

Army Brat

So she claims to be a military brat. So why is it that the military brat, who would logically know more about the inner workings of the military than most of the plebians, is writing her main Mary Sue as an undisciplined bitch who would’ve been up for a court martial several times by now? Or is the Air Force really as full of people like Val Kilmer as we’ve been led to believe? I just can’t believe that a military brat would really write a military character who behaves in this undisciplined a fashion, especially when said undisciplined a fashion allows massive property damage to several critical parts of this ship!

*headdesk*

So Ashley gets confused, and then she sees Garrus watching. She walks over and he tells her they’re just sparring, to which she says…

“That’s sparring? It looks like a fight to the death! They’re gonna destroy the cargo bay!”

Finally, the first logical reaction to Taren!Sue’s bullshit since this fic jumped the shark!

Garrus laughed. “They haven’t hit the hull, and the rest of the damage can be buffed out. I don’t see the problem, Ash.

*facepalm*

Garrus, they could hurt someone if they happened to cross the line of fire. Hell, Ash nearly did that herself! Not to mention that they could potentially do more damage that can’t be scrubbed off! Not to mention that locker dent could have potentially damaged any weapons inside if there were any and all that jazz!

Also, just because they haven’t done something doesn’t mean the potential to do so doesn’t exist. That’s a disingenuous argument, and you know it!

They’re just working off some stress. They’ll stop when they wear each other out, which won’t be long by the looks of things. They’ve mostly been using biotics this whole time, haven’t even laid a finger on each other. I don’t see any ration bars or energy drinks, so they’ll give up soon enough.

*headdesk*

Also doesn’t matter. Who’s to say if their final blow doesn’t hurt something!

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Garrus then draws a comparison to the cabal units in the turian military, before reassuring Ash they’ll give up. And then Ashley just shakes her head and goes somewhere to watch the fight. She’s like “I can’t get to my station, so be it”. She asks after the geth unit, and—

“I think they said they were going to move it up to the med-bay after the fight. Apparently they’re almost ready to activate it.

Gee, it would be a shame if getting this geth activated under their control weren’t established as being super time-sensitive and all that. It’s almost like Taren is putting her stress relief before, you know, doing her job.

*hits buzzer*

“Strong, Independent” Woman Count: 27

I expect Taren will want all hands on deck for that. It’ll probably be interesting to see if it’s actually on our side or not when it wakes up.”

Ash scoffed. “Yeah, let’s hope I don’t have to use my gun to solve that problem.”

Garrus hummed in agreement, his gaze flicking toward the fight as a biotic shockwave ended a bit too close to him for his comfort. He stretched his neck, lifting his head for an instant before returning to his regular position.

“HOLD!”

Ash turned sharply as she heard Shepard’s sharp command, watching as the glow of biotics faded from both combatants. Shepard jogged over to them, giving a quick nod to Garrus.

“What’s up?”

“I was just wondering if you realized we were over here. That shockwave you tossed almost ended on my foot.” Garrus responded, a mandible flicking out in what Ash assumed was his version of a smirk.

*points*

This, Garrus, is why all your earlier arguments are completely asinine. If it had been two inches to the left, you’d have been fucked.

Shepard laughed, “Well, gotta keep you on your toes somehow.”

*headdesk*

Shepard, you do not seriously say that shit when you’ve nearly hurt your subordinate, and your husband-to-be! You just don’t!

Anyway, Ash then gets confused as to why Taren!Sue stopped the fight, before Shepard is like “oh wait, you can’t hear the subharmonics”. They then resume the insult battle, blah blah, they explain the insults to Ash, and then…

“So who you think’s gonna win?”

She looked to Garrus with a smile. He gave a sharp laugh and shook his head.

*headdesk*

Well, I guess it was inevitable since this fic actually likes Ashley, but great, she’s now buying into the Sue’s stupidity!

Good night, sweet princess! It was nice to know you!

So then they talk more about how their biotics match up. They talk about biotics, and then…

“Must be nice not to have to worry about getting soft when you’re a biotic,” Ash commented.

Garrus quirked his head to the side.

“Soft?”

Ash gave him an odd look. “Yeah, you know. Fat.”

His neck straightened slowly as he spoke, “Oh, right. Forgot you humans can gain more than just muscle.”

She gawked at him in disbelief. “Turians can’t get fat?”

“No,” he shook his head.

What?

“We can gain muscle mass and lose it, but what fat we have doesn’t really change much over our lifetimes. We’re not soft and stretchy like other races. Lots of plates and bone, not a lot of exposed hide.”

Ash rolled her eyes. “Must be nice.”

Oh, for heaven’s—

*BOOM*

Hey, I don’t think it’s—

*Lyle burst back into the riffing chamber,again, followed by a frazzled Koori and bemused Lina*

Lyle: Now you just wait one damn minute, twatmuffin!

Lina:  *To Herr*  Sorry for another interruption.  I already gave you all this week’s coupons, so, uh, vanilla cookies with key-lime frosting?  *hands Herr a white paper back filled with cookies*  I made these ones; Gumdrop has the day off for some sort of costume party.

Koori:  Cosplay contest.  *sets up the chalkboard*  He’s going as Cardcaptor Sakura in her original outfit.  I helped sew his hat.  He looks adorable.  If he doesn’t win, I’m shanking the judges.

Lyle: *snags the chalk from Koori*

1.)  My entire knowledge base for Mass Effect, I will be honest, is from reading the riffs that our Librarians and guests have written.  That said, I’m pretty sure Turians are based on BIRDS.

2.) If you’ve ever eaten chicken, or turkey, or Cornish hens, or duck, or any type of game fowl, you will notice one important thing:  THEY HAVE FAT.

Chicken Fat

See that yellowy-white stuff?  That’s fat.

3.)  Douchenozzle seems to be under the impression that Turians are lizard-like creatures.  Here’s the thing:  lizards are capable of having fat stores.  It doesn’t normally pudge on like in mammals, but they’re highly marbled – and from what I’ve heard – delicious.

I’m putting the picture as link and not into the riff here because you’ll need a bit of a strong stomach for this one:  While everyone has seen a raw  chicken boob, not many have had the pleasure of witnessing a monitor lizard meat stand.

For those who decided to click, you can see the lizard skin amongst the pile of red, marbled meat.  That marbling (the white bits streaking through the red) is the fat.

…Steak, anyone?

4.)  Fat is very important because it stores calories needed for energy, it can insulate the body for  cold weather, and it actually helps  move vitamins through your blood stream.  It’s obviously possible to have more fat than your body needs to survive *pokes her own pudge*  but every creature needs fat to function, and every creature has the ability to form fat.

5.)  I was originally going to say that Outhouse-Breath thought Turians are insectoid by saying they couldn’t form fat, but, after some research, I was surprised to find out that insects can also form fat if they’re fed high-fat diets.  It doesn’t happen often in the wild (with the exception of some overweight dragonflies that got the attention of some surprised entomologists) but it has been proven that they can form lipid storage centers in their bodies.

So, in closing,  without fat they wouldn’t be able to live.  Their body would basically eat itself because it won’t have anything else to store energy in besides muscles.  Muscle is the last thing the body will eat when it’s starving.  It’ll eat your fat, then it will eat your muscle, because there is a lot less energy stored in muscle than in fat.  Fat has twice the energy potential of muscle.  If Turians don’t have fat, they should all look like poster-children for why anorexia is bad.

*grabs Carlos from Koori*

STOP TRYING TO SCIENCE, YOU IGNORANT SMEGHEAD!

*BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!*

*leaves the room in a huff, followed by Koori with the chalkboard and Lina, who shrugs apologetically at Herr and closes the door behind her*

Herr:

*eats the cookie*

Mm. This is actually really lovely! If she’s gonna provide this every time she barges in, bring on the science fails!

*taps the buzzer*

Fuck You, Science! Count: 19

Anyway, Wrex and Shepard taunt each other, and then they get tired. So they go off, Garrus says “I told you so”, he goes to help them transfer the geth, and Ashley goes off to organize her station.

We then cut to the med bay, where everyone has gathered. Shepard gives the order to activate it, and it whirrs to life.

Suddenly, it stopped all movement. Several other lights on its head and body activated, almost as if the first signs of life had only been a base systems check to see if it was safe to actually come online. Its head began to move, the main ocular sensor auto-focusing as it looked at each face that surrounded it; seeming to take stock of where it was, or to see if any dangers were present. When it locked into Shepard, it seemed to be focused in on her pistol, which was currently aimed at its chest.

A cacophony of clicks and garbled mechanical geth speech began, an omni-tool lighting up beside it on Tali’s arm. She brought her arm up to look at the data scrolling up her screen.

“It’s translating… one moment,” she looked up at Rael. “Father, shouldn’t it be able to speak a language other than geth? I thought you would have accounted for that.”

His body language revealed he was taken aback by her accusation.

“I did, Tali. It should be speaking Galactic Common right now,” he explained as he opened his ‘tool and began scanning the unit, fingers dancing over the haptic interface quickly. He shook his head.

“This… doesn’t make any sense.”

Rael, a vast majority of this fic hasn’t made any sense. Don’t expect things to start making sense now, yeah?

He turned to Daro’Xen, holding his ‘tool’s screen out so she could see.

“Are my eyes deceiving me?” he asked, clearly confused.

All eyes turned to Daro’Xen as she shook her head, “Impossible, Rael; let me run a scan myself, your omni-tool must be broken.”

She brought up her own ‘tool and began scanning, her eyes growing rounder behind her mask by the second.

“Ancestors, it’s true.”

Can someone tell us what’s going on, please?

Shepard had had enough.

“Would someone please tell the rest of us what’s going on?” she demanded, waving her pistol slightly at the Prime.

Thank you. I just wish it wasn’t the unlikable bitch I had to agree with…

Rael turned to her, dazed, “It’s… sentient. It is a fully evolved, sentient AI. I don’t have any idea how. This was not what we programmed it for. It shouldn’t be possible.”

Oh, it probably just compiled some code from a Reaper or something. You know how those pesky Reapers are. After all, you forget that this used to be a heretic geth: it probably picked up a perk you were not expecting.

How none of you thought of that little thing before this point can only be chalked up to one quote:

Shepard zeroed in on the Prime’s ‘face’, her eyes wide with a mix of shock and terror as she considered the possible implications of having a fully sentient AI on the ship. She’d seen what had happened to the AI on Luna that had gained sentience and gone rogue. Her whole team had nearly suffocated for its confusion and insanity. But the AI on Luna hadn’t had a body capable of crushing anyone in the room. A body that was being annoyingly loud at the moment.

Zuh? I… uh… What did that last sentence have to do with anything going on?

Shepard growled, “Can someone shut it up for half a second?”

It went quiet on its own. Nobody had moved or done anything. Shepard quirked an eyebrow at it. It raised the corresponding headflap. A slight smirk formed on Shepard’s face in her amusement.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

*GONG*

Jesus Christ, Cerbersheep, where did you get your certificate from? The Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy? Jesus Christ…

It flared out a mandibular-type extension near where it’s jaw would be. She narrowed her eyes at it. Its ocular sensor shutter nearly closed, leaving a pinpoint of light to shine through.

Shepard couldn’t hold her composure anymore. A snort turned into a chuckle as she shook her head at the geth. It tried to imitate the sound, though it was definitely mechanically reproduced. She smiled at it, watching as its… ‘mandibles’ flared out in response. She lowered her pistol, holstering it.

Wait, the geth is like a child?

“Taren,” Garrus warned, but she silenced him with the turian hand signal for quiet.

She braced her hands on the end of the exam table, looking at the geth’s ‘face’ at the other end of the table intently. She worked her jaw for a few seconds as she considered her next move.

Let me guess: she’s going to raise a big baby.

Believe it or not… not really. She then proceeds to ask Rael if Galactic Common was the only language he programmed the geth to understand. When he says ‘yes’, she points out she’s the only one speaking Galactic Common, and that is why this geth is only responding to her. She then asks if the geth can understand her, before telling Rael to add more languages. And then she turns to the geth and asks…

“Hey, you, listen. Can you speak a language other than geth gibberish? I mean, if you can understand me, surely you can speak the language, yeah?”

It nodded once more.

Shepard waited for it to say something. When it didn’t, she raised an eyebrow again, watching as it imitated her again.

“Okay, well if you can speak, speak.”

“What would you like me to say?” it responded.

Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious?

*dodges tomatoes*

Oh come on! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to see a geth say that!

Both Shepard’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, followed by a broad grin as she turned to Rael, gesturing to the geth again as she spoke, “There, see? It can talk.”

She looked back to the Prime after Rael nodded, and spread her arms. “Say whatever you want to say. You’re the one that just woke up.”

Its headflaps raised and lowered in uneven patterns for a moment, almost appearing to be considering her statement. It quirked its head to the side as it finally spoke up.

“Why are my arm and leg chips removed?”

Because it’s a precaution.

Shepard scoffed, “So you don’t get up and crush us all to death. Well, some of us, at least. You’d be dead again pretty quick if you started doing that.”

Its headflaps raised high off of its ‘face’. “Why would I terminate any of you? You gave me life.”

Probably because they hijacked you from Reapers and shit. Also, I refer you to the Morning War.

Shepard considered that for a moment, looking around the table at the quarians gathered there and remembering when she’d learned about their Morning War.

“Well, something similar happened before, a long time ago. I don’t want a repeat of that event.”

It looked confused for a moment before its flaps stilled.

“Ah, you refer to the Morning War.

And that right there is another ding, because the Morning War is technically what the geth call it, and the quarians wouldn’t call it that. I’d dock her further, but considering that I managed to get that wrong in one of my fanfics, it’s kind of not worth bitching at her about it.

I assure you, I bear no ill will against any of you. So long as you do not treat me as a non-sentient, I will not treat you as targets.”

*points at Daro’Xen*

There you go. Go wild; it’ll save you a lot of heartbreak later.

Shepard grimaced. While it didn’t sound like an unfair proposal, dealing with a sentient AI could pose a significant risk.

“And what guarantee do we have that you won’t just someday decide to change your mind and turn on us? I mean, you’re sentient, you’ve got free will, and you’ve got a body that’s at least three times the strength of anything we’ve got. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to sleep sometime,” she said, looking around at her teammates, who nodded in agreement.

“I currently have no reason to betray your trust,” the geth responded.

“Okay,” Shepard said, nodding, “true, I suppose. But what would constitute a reason good enough for you to turn on us, exactly?”

“Betrayal.”

“And what would you consider a betrayal?”

It mulled that over for a moment.

“Intentional damage of my platform or my sentience. Much the same for a full organic.”

*points harder at Daro’Xen*

See, this is why Daro’Xen’s whole sadism plot is unnecessary. Canon Daro’Xen would already be willing enough to fulfill this condition without turning her into a psychopath! But hey, I guess we need to give her some leeway: after all, we all know that the canon Daro’Xen can actually be convinced to back off against Shepard. And considering Taren!Sue is super pushy for no reason…

Yeah. You see where I’m going with this, right?

“There’s lots of ways to betray someone, but I suppose that is the most direct form of betrayal.” Shepard narrowed her eyes, her jaw clenching as she ground her teeth together in thought. She glanced over at Rael. “So can it understand other languages yet?”

“Almost done,” Rael nodded. “Only a few more minutes, Captain.”

“Alright.” She turned back to the Prime. “So, what are you going to do if we reactivate your limbs?”

“Run a systems check to ensure they are functioning properly. If it is positive, sit up, turn, then stand.”

“Then?”

“Introduce myself.”

Shepard chuckled, “Oh really? And how will you do that? Do you have a name?”

“Yes.”

“So, what is it?”

“Gremlin.”

Gremlin, huh? Funny name for a geth that’s only just met a human for the first time after being the slave of a dude who hates humans. It’s almost like this naming makes no fucking sense at all!

Well, patrons, that was that. I’ve been Herr Wozzeck, this has been When You’re Strange, and I’ll see you next week. For right now, I gotta see if Lina or Koori have got any more of those cookies.

Like, seriously, they were delicious!

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52 Comments on “1460: When You’re Strange – Chapters Twenty and Twenty-One”

  1. AdmiralSakai says:

    I am calling you back home. You will report with all due haste to the family estate to be judged. Bring your frightening choice of a bondmate with you. We will decide what is to be done regarding both your place in this clan and hers. I do not foresee a positive outcome, for either of you; but we shall see.

    Wait, Garrus’s family has an estate?

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      *let shrug*

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Seriously, though. His father was described as “C-SEC to the bone”, knowing WYS his mother probably has no job at all, and Garrus himself is a C-SEC agent. Police officers, even very good ones, don’t make a huge amount of money. Why does his family have so many cops in it if they’re rich enough to afford an “estate”?

  2. AdmiralSakai says:

    She is not turian! It is simply not possible for a human to have turian citizenship.

    I mean, she’s human, Alliance… even if we buy whatever logic impelled Taren to apply for citizenship in the first place (which I don’t know why you would if you don’t actually intend to live there, and indeed this whole thing calls into question why she ever pledged her loyalty to the Alliance, but okay), why did the Hierarchy accept it? She’s three-quarters human (as papa Vakarian just pointed out), so what reason would they have to do that?

    Well, aliens can get Hierarchy citizenship by serving in a branch of their military called the Auxiliary Division, but Shepard never did that either.

  3. AdmiralSakai says:

    She smirked at the shuttle that appeared, which was clearly geth in style.
    Obviously her father had been doing very well in his efforts to recover and re-purpose geth technology since she’d last seen him, if he had this kind of prize as his personal shuttle.

    Well, he’s corrupt as all get out if he’s using a valuable research specimen for joyrids around the galaxy…

  4. AdmiralSakai says:

    But no, I was more referring to the awesome mods I picked up for all of our guns. They are SO much better than what we had! I just wish they’d had them out sooner. These will let us kick ass with so much more style!”

    I mean, we finally got a mod that does stuff! And another one that enables the use of things! It’s incredible!

  5. AdmiralSakai says:

    And you’re surprised by this? Her father was a human, most records would probably state she was born on a human colony, she was an Alliance brat, and she has a reputation as the first human Spectre. Of course they’re going to think she’s totally human!

    Though you’d wonder why Palaven’s records wouldn’t clarify that.

    Well, remember, her genesis had nothing to do with the Turian Hierarchy whatsoever. Even Councillor Sparatus, working with this story’s inferior Homeguard/RF knockoff, had to be told, so it’s likely nobody else in the Hierarchy even knows.

    Which does beg the question of why Sparatus and the Dumbguard aren’t more angry upon learning for the first time that the Alliance experimented on turian POWs…

  6. BatJamags says:

    So Rael’Zorah is in a geth shuttle now. Honestly, I’m not even going to bother, because this is one of the less stupid things in this fic.

    Instead, I’ll bother, because it’s still really stupid.

    ONE: Rael’Zorah conducted his Geth research in secret! He’s not going to run around flaunting his Geth tech if he has to actively hide it from his fellow Quarians.

    TWO: He’s flying a Geth shuttle to the Citadel. They’re not ME2-levels of Geth paranoid yet, but the Citadel still actively views the Geth as an enemy. Rael’Zorah’s just painted a giant target on his back.

    THREE: A high-level Quarian leader has landed on the Citadel not to conduct business with the council, but to examine something in secret on one particular ship. That’s just asking for spies to follow him, find out about the intact Geth, and try to steal it. This could be avoided if he used a more common shuttle type, so that his arrival would go unnoticed.

    THERE IS NO REASON FOR HIM TO BE USING A GETH SHUTTLE!

  7. BatJamags says:

    And let me guess: this AU is an excuse to hide the fact that you forgot the part of the game where Tali pretty blatantly tells you her mother died five years prior to the events of the games due to an airborn virus after a ship’s filtration systems broke!

    And there we go! The fic has spectacularly failed at sticking to canon for both of Tali’s parents within the span of a single chapter! I wonder who’s going to get a steaming load of crap dropped on their backstory next!

  8. BatJamags says:

    One of his female techs spoke up as she continued working, “I may have had something to do with that.”

    *Headdesk*

    No. Bullshit. That’s not why the Geth is in pain. I know why the Geth is in pain. Do you want me to tell you why the Geth is in pain? Alright, let me tell you why the Geth is in pain:

    BECAUSE ITS FUCKING LIMBS HAVE BEEN CUT OFF! THAT TENDS TO BE A LITTLE PAINFUL!

    (And it does cut down on the coolness of robo-limbs when your original limbs were already robotic.)

  9. BatJamags says:

    A little warning next time, if you please, Daro.

    And Daro’Xen is just a random tech? I’m going to call bullshit there, too. I mean, sure, it’ll be two years before she becomes an admiral, but I think at this point she’d still be a little higher in rank and position.

    • BatJamags says:

      Well, I should specify that it’s two years before she appears as an admiral. There’s nothing in ME2 to indicate that she’s at all new to the job.

  10. BatJamags says:

    Aaaaaaaand Ash/Liara is apparently a ship now.

    *headdesk*

    AFH: MUST SHIP ALL THE THINGS

    Seriously, though, this might be why she made Kaidan an asshole: one Shepard and six squadmates means that someone’s going to get shut out of a pairing.

  11. AdmiralSakai says:

    she threaded her fingers through her hair, fisting it gently in frustration.

    Wait, what was that middle part?

    • BatJamags says:

      “Through her hair?”

      • BatJamags says:

        Oh, wait, you mean threading her fingers! Yeah, that doesn’t seem physically possible, does it?

        Or is the part you’re concerned about the fact that she’s doing something “gently in frustration,” which isn’t quite an oxymoron, but doesn’t really make sense?

        Or are you triggered by the fact that the sentence starts with “she?”

        I’ll figure this out yet!

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Oh, wait, you mean threading her fingers! Yeah, that doesn’t seem physically possible, does it?

        Or is the part you’re concerned about the fact that she’s doing something “gently in frustration,” which isn’t quite an oxymoron, but doesn’t really make sense?

        Or are you triggered by the fact that the sentence starts with “she?”

        Yes.

  12. BatJamags says:

    family pet

    *SLAM!*

    STOP DOING QUARIANS WRONG!

  13. AdmiralSakai says:

    “look at me, I invented this whole culture, let me have this character show you how awesome it is”

    You invented a whole culture, and it sucks ass.

  14. BatJamags says:

    The common fucking box turtle. Testudine Emydidae, Terrapene carolina.

    And it’s adorable!

    • GhostCat says:

      They’re my state reptile! Well, the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) a box turtle subspecies with a slightly different shell pattern than the one pictured is my state reptile. They’re still pretty cute.

  15. AdmiralSakai says:

    So she claims to be a military brat. So why is it that the military brat, who would logically know more about the inner workings of the military than most of the plebians, is writing her main Mary Sue as an undisciplined bitch who would’ve been up for a court martial several times by now? Or is the Air Force really as full of people like Val Kilmer as we’ve been led to believe? I just can’t believe that a military brat would really write a military character who behaves in this undisciplined a fashion, especially when said undisciplined a fashion allows massive property damage to several critical parts of this ship!

    Well, it’s not hereditary, after all- I’d take the advice of an active-duty soldier, even if they were first-gen, over a civilian(?) from a long line of military brats any day of the week.

    • BatJamags says:

      True, but presumably, AFH would’ve grown up around people who knew what they were talking about, and would have at least a somewhat better idea of how soldiers should act. My mom’s an Air Force brat, and she’s at least more knowledgeable about the military than most other people I know. Your point still stands, though.

      • Herr Wozzeck says:

        Yeah, what Mags said. You’don’t think growing up around them, you’d have some idea of what that life is like. Or at the very least, you’don’t keep tabs on it!

  16. BatJamags says:

    It raised the corresponding headflap.

    *SLAM!*

    Legion is the only Geth that has those. They were specifically designed for expressive purposes so that Legion could be a better diplomat. For your average Prime, there’s no practical reason to have little flappy thingies on its head.

  17. [EXTENDED BAA-ING SEGMENT]

    *A note appears next to Cerbs*

    *Smirk* -Goddess

  18. TacoMagic says:

    Rael turned to her, dazed, “It’s… sentient. It is a fully evolved, sentient AI. I don’t have any idea how. This was not what we programmed it for. It shouldn’t be possible.”

    Wait, so they have a plugin for the omnitool that measures… sentience? The fuck does that even work?

    And why does sentience preclude it from being able to speak common?

    *Shakes the fic*

    WHY ARE YOU PILING ON THE NONSENSE!?


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