Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Great Mass Effect Serialisation

Merry Christmas MonkeyBoxers! I hope you're all getting ready for the upcoming holidays!

Enough of that bollocks. I would like to introduce you to the first in a massive anthem of short stories written by yours truly based entirely on my exploits in the Mass Effect Universe.

Now I've tried writing before, and I don't think I'm awful - I just run out of ideas. So what if I tried writing a load of short stories, serialising my Commander Shepard from that first trip to Eden Prime right through to his final decision? It might last, it might not - but for now, I'm full of hope that it will last.

Before I get going on my first short instalment - I must stress that not all dialogue will be verbatim what is in-game. I'll introduce you to Alex Shepard and the Mass Effect Universe...

In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization. In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars. The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time.

They called it the greatest discovery in human history.

The civilizations of the galaxy call it...


On 11th April, 2154 Alex Shepard was born on Earth, and raised an orphan - growing up in the megatropolises and joining various underground gangs and was exposed to secondary exposure to Element Zero - the new found element that makes travelling through the Mass Relays to other parts of the galaxy possible and also allows for biotic powers to manifest in those exposed. It also allows for tech abilities in omni-tools.

On his 18th birthday, Shepard enlists with the Alliance Military and quickly shows his aptitude for battle and command - at 24 he was given command of a unit assigned for a retaliation offensive on the alien race, the batarians after they attacked the human colony of Elysium via pirates and mercenaries. The mission was a bloodbath, with almost all soldiers under Shepards command dying during the mission - despite the high-death toll on his troops, Shepard proved that he is willing to get the job done, by sheer brute force if necessary.

5 years later in 2183 at 29, Commander Shepard is assigned as the XO of the Alliance frigate with a prototype stealth system the SSV Normandy - a ship co-sponsored by the Citadel Council and created with the turians. Our story starts with Commander Shepard surging through the Command Centre to the bridge to view the Normandy's first jump through the Arcturus Mass Relay to the idyllic colony - Eden Prime...

Mass Effect - Chapter 1 - More Than Meets The Eye

The engines were purring underfoot as Shepard made his way through the Normandy's command centre. He could hear Joker and Kaidan talking from the galaxy map. He decided to make his way up there to bust their balls, reasoning that being watched every second of the day by the turian Spectre, Nihlus, so they needed to look like the professionals that he wanted them to.

He wasn't surprised to see that Nihlus was already there, after Joker made the jump through the Relay he verbally noted his positioning,

"Thrusters - check. Navigation - check. Internal emission sink engaged. All systems online. Drift...just under 1500K"

"1500 is good. Your captain will be pleased" chimed in Nihlus, before turning away and walking back through the ship. Nihlus was a turian, they look like a humanoid avian-feline with a metallic like skin thanks to the harsh amounts of radiation that pound the turian homeworld of Palaven. He was dark grey, with red facial markings, and was just slightly taller than your average marine.

"I hate that guy." Joker said, once he was sure Nihlus was out of earshot.

"Nihlus just gave you a you hate him?" Kaidan asked. Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko was a biotic marine with a technical prowess. He was handsome, and professional - but had a sadness about him that was intriguing. 

"You remember to zip up you're jump suit on the way out of the bathroom, that's good. I just jumped us half-way across the galaxy and hit a target the size of a pinhead, so that's incredible!" Joker quipped back. Joker wasn't your typical Alliance "marine". He was a pilot, but maybe just the best pilot the Alliance had - it was no surprise that he was chosen to be at the helm of the most advanced warship in the Alliance Navy - his skills were such, that his superiors turned a blind eye to his attitude problems and obvious medical condition - Vrolik Syndrome, essentially brittle bone disease.

"That's enough! Both of you, you're soldiers - remember that." Shepard snapped, 

"Joker, Status." Captain Anderson said through the intercom. Captain Anderson was a legend in the Alliance, a former Spectre candidate, and a man of true integrity and an unwavering sense of justice and honour. His best combat years were arguably behind him, his position as Captain on a front line vessel more suited to him these days, instead of dropping in behind enemy lines or leading Commando Units on near-suicide like missions.

"We'll be in Eden Prime shortly Captain, better brace yourself - Nihlus is heading your way." Joker replied,

"He's already here." Anderson replied shortly. "Send Shepard through to us, there's something we need to discus."

"Great, you piss him off and I have to deal with it" Shepard said,

"The Captain is always in a bad mood when he speaks to me." Joker replied,

"I can't imagine why..." Kaidan retorted.

Shepard started to walk back through the ship to the briefing room, but not before stopping at Navigator Pressly, who was in a heated discussion with Engineer Adams in the engine room about Nihlus. Pressly was Alliance through and through, and carried the prejudices of aliens from his father, and his father before him. He carried himself in an arrogant way, seeing himself as the unofficial senior officer of the Normandy. Despite that, he has nothing but respect for those that deserve it, Commander Shepard included.

"Oh Commander, I didn't see you there." Pressly said as Shepard stood by him. "Just having a chat with Adams down in engineering."

"What's the problem Pressly, don't like having a turian on board?" Shepard asked.

"Can't say I trust them Commander, goes back to the First Contact War, my grandfather was on Shanxi. I just don't understand why the Council would put a Spectre, a turian Spectre on board for a simple shakedown run. Then there's the full crew compliment, a skeleton crew would have made more sense and reduced the risk of security leaks. And what about the Captain - you don't send a soldier like that on a do-nothing mission." Pressly said,

"Do you have a problem with the Captain?" Shepard probed,

"No!" Pressly was shocked, he tried to explain himself, "Captain Anderson is a hero, he's seen more action than most of the crew combined - if you melted down all his medals, you could create a life-sized statue of him. I just don't get why the Alliance have put him in charge of this mission, there's nothing that would require his experience."

"There does seem to be more going on than we've been told, it doesn't add up." Shepard replied, "And as far as turians go, I can't say I trust them, but this turian hasn't shot at me yet, so I can work with him - for now. At ease Pressly"

Shepard continued to make his way to the back of the command centre to the briefing room, when he was stopped by Dr Chakwas and Corporal Jenkins.

"Commander, can you talk some sense into Jenkins?" Chakwas asked Shepard, before he could reply, Jenkins stepped in.

"I'm just itching to see some real action, when do you think we'll get a chance Commander? " he said. Jenkins was a green marine, in his first posting from passing through his training. He was eager, perhaps too eager. 

"Your real action usually ends up with me patching you up in the infirmary." Chakwas cut in - Chakwas was much like Pressly, she had the respect of everyone from Jenkins to Captain Anderson, and deservedly so - she had served on every class of warship the Alliance had to offer, she had repeatedly declined promotion offers and lucrative private work as a Doctor to remain as a front line doctor serving across Alliance space and beyond - her dedication to her work was so admirable, and she was so respected by all, that her every word carried weight. Shepard had formed a close relationship with her on a previous vessel, and had earned the right to wind her up on occasion.

"That's your job doctor, we shoot 'em down, you stitch us up." Shepard explained,

"I know what my job is Commander, I just don't think there's any reason to mindlessly blast your way in places without thinking of the consequences." she said.

Shepard thought about that comment for a minute, and couldn't help but think about Torfan, where his ruthless aggression won the day - but at a cost, he drifted back in when Jenkins was talking about Nihlus.

"...heard he took down a whole platoon of batarians by himself. He shows that Spectres get the job done - no matter the cost. Actually Commander, you'd make a good Spectre. Tough, hard hitting and willing to get the job done no matter the cost." Jenkins said, "You've already proved yourself on Torfan."

"Heh, that does sound like my kind of job. Nobody to reign me in either. Any idea why we're going to Eden Prime? You're from there aren't you Jenkins?"

"Yeah I'm from there, it's pretty peaceful, mostly farm land - they've been real careful with development so they don't upset the natural ecosystem." Jenkins replied "I suppose it makes sense as a location for the shakedown run, but I just want the real mission to begin. I want to show the brass what I can do!"

"There's no need to play the hero Jenkins, just clam up, follow my orders and you'll be fine." Shepard said. He didn't want to get too familiar with the Cpl, being his superior officer, he wanted that relationship to remain that way. "I have to go, the Captain is expecting me."

Shepard left the two to go round into the briefing room, where he found Nihlus waiting for him.

"Where's the Captain?" Shepard asked,

"He's on his way." Nihlus said, "I wanted to ask you about Eden Prime, I hear it's a paradise."

"I'm not some tourist on vacation, I'm a marine." Shepard said,

"It's more than that though isn't it Shepard, proof that not only can the Alliance start colonies in the Traverse, but protect them as well - but how safe is it really?" Nihlus asked, with a slightly goading infliction to his voice.

"Is that a threat Nihlus?" Shepard asked, readying himself to grab his pistol.

"Not at all, it's just that the galaxy is a dangerous place. Is the Alliance truly ready for this?" Nihlus asked. Before Shepard could reply, Anderson stepped into the room.

"Shepard, glad you could make it. It's about time we told you what was really happening." Anderson stated.

"This mission is far more than just a shakedown run." Nihlus added.

"I worked that one out for myself, what haven't you told me? I don't like being left out of the picture." Shepard said,

"This comes straight down from the top," Anderson said with his usual commanding tone, asserting his authority he said "It was all information, strictly on a need-to-know basis."

Shepard remained quiet.

"Archaeologists on Eden Prime have found something. It's a beacon, they believe it to be Prothean." Anderson added.

"Prothean? But they disappeared 50,000 years ago." Shepard said, Nihlus immediately responded,

"Yes but relics of their great empire are around for all to see: the Citadel, the Mass Relays - all advanced civilizations base their technology on the foundations laid by the Protheans - even yours."

"Shepard, the last time humanity found something like this it jumped our technology forward over 200 years. It's essential that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands - Eden Prime is in the border regions with the Terminus Systems. What if it's hold the designs for ancient weapons of mass destruction, what if it's a weapons cache?" Anderson added.

"Right, so what are we doing with it then?" Shepard asked,

"We have to get this beacon to the Citadel for proper study, we don't have the expertise to tackle something like this." Anderson said,

"Also your people are newcomers Shepard, and not to be trusted. The rest of the galaxy see's your kind as too independent, too aggressive. Some are even scared at what you could become. I however see the potential in your kind." Nihlus said,

"Sharing this beacon will be good for improving relations with the Council Shepard, it's essential that we-" Anderson said before being cut-off by Joker through the intercom.

"Urgent message from Eden Prime Captain, do you want me to put it through?" Joker asked.

"Patch it through Joker." Anderson said.

What followed was a live streamed video of gunfire and explosions from Eden Prime, a marine shouted to the cameraman to get down pushing him out of the way of another explosion. Suddenly on screen, everyone stopped and stared at the sky, the camera shook, the feed distorted and the camera panned up to what they were all dumbstruck by.

A massive ship, of ridiculous proportions sinking down through the clouds reaching out like a the massive hand of some Lovecraftian monster. The feed cuts out and the 3 men are themselves speechless until Anderson steps up.

"We have to get a team down there"

"A small strike team can move quickly and avoid detection." Nihlus added,

"Shepard, suit up. Tell Alenko and Jenkins to meet us down in the hangar. This mission just got a lot more complicated." Anderson said, as the screen was paused on the massive ship that looked more menacing the longer they looked at it.

Shepard was going to Eden Prime, and it seems that everyone was right - there was always more going on than was let on...

Well I hope you enjoyed this first Chapter - it was a little dialogue heavy, but the next chapter should prove more than just constant talking!

Night Night MonkeyBoxers.


EDIT - Added character detail. 19-20-13.