Saturday, 26 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation - Intermission

Hello again, you wonderful person, you.

Just to let you know, I'll be taking a break from the Mass Effect Serialisation (MES). The 16 chapters I've done so far is over 28,000 words and I've put in as much time to write what I have as it would have taken to complete the game twice, maybe three times.

I started this project in December 2013, and it's been fun to write while I've been writing it, however I'm quite the Mass Effect lover - if you hadn't guessed that already - and doing this has stopped me from doing a clean play-through of the trilogy, which is something I last did in June/July 2013. To be perfectly's been too fucking long. In fact, even though I've been doing the MES, the closest I've felt to playing Mass Effect was downloading Shepard, Garrus, Wrex and Tali texture packs to replace Nick, Ellis, Coach and Rochelle respectively in Left 4 Dead 2, and then downloading husks to replace the common infected...yep.

I need to do a clean trilogy run...other games are enticing me for a while, like FTL or L4D2 and even jumping back into GTA5 for a bit, but nothing is grabbing my attention and I know why. Since Mass Effect 3 came out, I've done multiple trilogy runs. Paragon, Renegade, Paragade, Renegon, FemShep, ShepLoo, CustomShep, StraightShep, No Romance Shep, GayShep, etc etc, in other words, I go back time and time again to experience it all from start to finish, making subtle changes along the way to shape each experience as the tides shape the rocks on a beach.

This is the longest I've gone between play-through's and it's starting to show. It's almost like playing through the trilogy gives me fuel to then go on and play other things, and I'm not treating the MES like a normal trilogy run, but more like a working project; and as a working project, I'll need fuel to make it happen.

So that's it basically. I'm off to play Mass Effect, not work on it.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Child of Light

Good Hello There.

I was just perusing around the magnificent Steam Store while thinking of what to do, and I came across a game that is out on 30th April 2014. That game is Child of Light.

It drew me in with it's beautiful artwork, and after watching the following trailer I immediately added it to my Steam Wishlist so that when I can, I can easily find it again and purchase as a little gift from me, to me.

What struck me about it is that the game just looks stunningly beautiful. Not just that but it sounds beautiful and looks to be a mix of turn-based-RPG and platform with more than a sprinkle of JRPG added to the mix as well.

Here is the trailer, watch for yourself.

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but few games are. This however speaks to me as a gamer who appreciates good story and certain unique qualities which have to be played to truly be understood.

I hope that Child of Light delivers on both.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 16

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 16

Welcoming Liara

The team that Shepard had assembled, including the newly recruited Liara T’Soni were in the briefing room of the Normandy as they left Therum. They only had to travel to Noveria or Feros, but first they would have to return to the Citadel in order to brief Ambassador Udina in person, also so they could inform Admiral Kahoku of the fate of his marines on Edolus.

Shepard entered the briefing room, as Joker spoke to them through the comm.

“Too close, Commander. Ten more seconds and we’d have been swimming in molten sulphur. The Normandy isn’t equipped to land in exploding volcanoes. They tend to fry our sensors and melt our hull… Just for future reference.” Joker said sarcastically,

“We almsot died out there and your pilot is making jokes?” Liara said, very confused,

“Joker pulled our asses out of there. I think he’s earned the right to a few bad jokes.” Shepard explained,

“I see. It must be a human thing. I’m afraid I don’t have much experience dealing with your species, Commander.” Liara conceded. “But I am grateful to you. You saved my life back there. And not just from the volcano. Those geth would have killed me, or dragged me off to Saren.”

“What did Saren want with you? Do you know something about the Conduit?” Kaidan asked,

“Only that it was somehow connected to the Prothean extinction. That is my real area of expertise. I have spent the past fifty years trying to figure out what happened to them.” Liara said,

“How old are you, exactly?” Shepard asked, taken aback by her revelation of studying the prothean extinction longer than he’d been alive.

“I hate to admit it, but I am only a hundred and six.” She replied,

“Damn!” Ashley said, “I hope I look that good when I’m your age.”

“A century may seem like a long time to a short-lived species like yours. But among the asari, I am barely considered more than a child.” She said, clearly bitter that she’s still seen as a young girl to her peers. “That is why my research has not received the attention it deserves. Because of my youth, other asari scholars tend to dismiss my theories on what happened to the Protheans.”

“I’ve got my own theory on why the Protheans disappeared.” Shepard said with the knowledge from the beacon on Eden Prime bubbling just below the surface of his consciousness,

“With all due respect, Commander, I have heard every theory out there. The problem is finding evidence to support them. The Protheans left remarkably little behind.” Liara replied, “It is almost as if someone did not want the mystery solved. It’s like someone came along after the Protheans were gone and cleansed the galaxy of clues. But here is the incredible part. According to my findings, the Protheans were no the first galactic civilization to mysteriously vanish. This cycle began long before them.”

“Where’d you come up with this theory? I thought there wasn’t any evidence.” Shepard asked, intrigued by what Liara’s theory entailed.

“I have been working on this for fifty years. I have tracked down every scrap and shread of evidence. Eventually, subtle patterns start to emerge. Patterns that hint at the truth. It is difficult to explain to someone else. I cannot point to one specific thing to prove my case. It is more a feeling derived from a half-century of dedicated research.” Liara said with conviction, “But I know I’m right. And eventually, I will be able to prove it. There were other civilizations before the Protheans. This cycle has repeated itself many times over.”

“What cycle? What do you mean?” Shepard asked,

“The galaxy is built on a cycle of extinction. Each time a great civilization rises up, it is suddenly and violently cast down. Only ruins survive. The Protheans rose up from a single world until their empire spanned the entire galaxy.” Liara started to explain, clearly delighted to be able to talk in detail about the subject, “Yet even they climbed to the top on the remains of those who came before. Their greatest achievements – the mass relays and the Citadel – are based on the technology of those who came before them. And then, like all the other forgotten civilizations throughout galactic history, the Protheans disappeared. I have dedicated my life to figuring out why.”

“They were wiped out by a race of sentient machines. The Reapers.” Shepard revealed,

“The…the Reapers? But I have never heard of…How do you know this? What evidence do you have?” Liara said, with a mix of excitement and bemusement.

“There was a damaged Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. It burned a vision into my mind. I’m still trying to sort out what it all means.” Shepard said,

“Visions? Yes, that makes sense. The beacons were designed to transmit information directly into the mind of the user. Finding one that still works is extremely rare. It’s no wonder that the geth attacked Eden Prime. The chance to acquire a working beacon – even a badly damaged one – is worth almost any risk.” Liara said, gathering momentum, “But the beacons were only programmed to interact with Prothean physiology. Whatever information you received would have been confused, unclear. I am amazed you were able to make sense of it at all. A lesser mind would have been utterly destroyed by the process. You must be remarkably strong willed, Commander.”

“This isn’t helping us find Saren. Or the Conduit.” Ashley said, clearly irked by the attention Liara was giving Shepard.

“Of course, you’re right. I am sorry. My scientific curiosity got the better of me. Unfortunately, I do not have any information that could help you find the Conduit. Or Saren.” Liara said,

“I don’t know why Saren wanted you out of the picture. But I think we’ll be a lot better off if we bring you along with us.” Shepard said,

“Thank you, Commander.” Liara replied, standing to be next to Shepard, “Saren might come after me again. I cannot think of anywhere safer than here on your ship. And my knowledge of the Protheans may be of use to you later on.”

“And her biotics will come in handy when the fighting starts.” Wrex added with a grin,

“Well we’ve got every other non-human species on board, may as well add an asari to the list.” Shepard said, half-joking,

“Thank you, Commander. I am very gratef…whoa. I am afraid I’m feeling a little light-headed.” Liara said, losing her footing slightly,

“When was the last time you ate? Or slept?” Kaidan asked worried, “Dr Chakwas should take a look at you.”

“It is probably just mental exhaustion, coupled with the shock of finding out the Protheans’ true fate. I need some time to process all this.” Liara said, “Still, it could not hurt to be examined by a medical professional. It will give me the chance to think things over. Are we finished here Commander?”

“Go see the Doctor. The rest of you – dismissed.” Shepard said with his authoritative tone,

The team stood and left the briefing room, as they did, the comm crackled.

“Mission reports are filed, Commander. You want me to patch you through to the Council?” Joker asked through the comm.

“Patch them though, Joker.” Shepard said, as Joker did so. Almost immediately, the Council appeared in the briefing room as holograms.

“We’ve received your report, Commander. I understand Dr T’Soni is on the Normandy.” The Asari Councillor, Tevos, said,

“I assume you’re taking the necessary security precautions?” The Turian Councillor, Sparatus, added,

“Don’t tell me how to do my job.” Shepard said at Sparatus, annoyed at his assertion that he hadn’t considered Liara to be a threat,

“We are not trying to tell you how to carry out your job, Commander. We are merely here to offer advice and guidance.” Tevos intervened.

“It is up to you if you’re smart enough to listen.” Sparatus snapped at Shepard. At that, Shepard decided he’d heard enough from the turian.

“I don’t need this.” He said gruffly and more than a little tired, as he disconnected the link.

“Communications cut, Commander.” Joker chuckled over the comm. Shepard, stood for a moment, gathering his thoughts. He decided to go and see Liara in the Med Bay to check up on her, she had been through quite an ordeal on Therum, and wanted to see that she was alright.

Shepard went down to the Med Bay and saw that Dr Chakwas had finished with Liara, and that Liara had set herself up in the Med Bay’s back room, he approached her to talk. She was sat at a desk, and heard him enter. She immediately stood to face him and looked at him with her big doe-like eyes.

“Commander, have you come to check on me?” she asked,

“Yes, you seem to be doing well now. Is everything alright?” Shepard replied,

“Dr Chakwas assures me I’m going to be fine. I was impressed with her knowledge of asari physiology.” Liara replied, gratefully.

“She knows what she’s doing, you’re in good hands.” Shepard said,

“I never properly thanked you for saving me from the geth, if you hadn’t showed up when you did…” Liara said before Shepard cut her off,

“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad we got there in time.” He said,

“Thank you. And thank you for taking a chance on me. I have seen the way the crew look at me – they do not trust me. But I am not like Benezia. I will do whatever I can to help you stop Saren. I promise.” Liara said, determined to prove her worth and her loyalty.

“Don’t worry Liara, I know you will. I trust you.” Shepard said, reassuringly.

“It means a lot to hear you say that, thank you Commander.” Liara said with a coy smile.

“Tell me about yourself Liara, I’d like to know more about you.” Shepard said, genuinely wanting to know more about his team as he had done with the others he’d picked up.

“I’m afraid I’m not very interesting, Commander. I spend most of my time on remote digs, unearthing mundane objects from long-forgotten prothean ruins.” She said, again coyly,

“You must enjoy something about what you do.” Shepard said,

“I enjoy finding things that haven’t been touched for millennia, and anything to do with the protheans. To know that you were touched by actual working prothean technology – it’s why I find you so fascinating.” Liara said,

“Sounds like you want to dissect me in a lab.” Shepard joked,

“Oh my! That’s not what I meant!” Liara said, obviously upset at the thought, “I never meant for you to think that. All I meant was that you would be an interesting case-study for…No! Wait, I mean…” Liara started to fumble over every word she said, she wasn’t used to human humour,

“I was only joking Liara! It’s OK.” Shepard said, reassuring her that she’d said nothing wrong.

“Joking? By the goddess, you must think I’m so dense.” Liara said, holding her forehead, in embarrassment “Now you can see why I prefer to spend my time on remote digs with computers and data discs. Please, just pretend this conversation never happened,”

“I should go, I’ll catch up with you soon Liara.” Shepard said as he left the Med Bay to return to the CIC.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Liara T’Soni, I Presume?

Shepard, Kaidan and Wrex entered the mine-come-dig-site, and started down the long shaft to a large open cavern below. As they neared the end of the sloping shaft, they spotted a geth. It was taken down swiftly by the group, and they advanced onto a makeshift metal walkway around the rocky cavern.

As they walked around it, they saw a large white wall with a blue force-field blocking entry to the area behind it. It was old, almost certainly of Prothean origin, and a testament to their engineering capabilities that it was all still functioning 50,000 years after its construction. Nearby there was an elevator, and since there was nowhere to go but down, that’s where they went.

When they reached the lowest point of their elevator, they found themselves on another metal walkway leading to another elevator in front of another large white wall with a force-field embedded in it. They started to walk towards it, and a small group of geth drones rose from below, firing precisely towards the three of them. They were dispatched with quickly, and Shepard brushed some fragments of armour from his shoulder that had been damaged by the flying geth. After looking again for potential threats, they entered the second elevator and again descended.

As the elevator neared the bottom of the cavern, it started to grind and fizz with sparks. It was heavily damaged and the metal walkway below them was also damaged in places beyond repair. The elevator grind to a halt about 5 feet from the walkway, so they forced the doors open and jumped down.

They walked along a small part of the walkway, and jumped down to the section below through a hole that presumably had been blown apart by the geth. That’s when they heard a youthful sounding, female voice.

“Hello? Is anybody out there?” it called out.

They walked towards the voice and that’s when they first saw her. Dr Liara T’Soni. She was trapped behind the Prothean force field, and also in some kind of security bubble.

She called out again, in a panicked and desperate tone.

“Can you hear me out there? I’m trapped, I need help!”

“Liara T’Soni, I Presume?” Shepard said wryly, his reference to Dr Livingstone and Henry Stanley completely bypassing Wrex.

“Listen. This thing I am in is a Prothean security device. I cannot move, so I need you to get me out of it. All right?” Liara said, her composure returning at the sight of people as opposed to geth.

“How did you get trapped in there?” Shepard asked,

“I was exploring these ruins when the geth showed up, so I hid in here. Can you believe that? Geth! Beyond the Veil!” she said with genuine surprise. “I activated the tower’s defences. I knew the barrier curtains would keep them out. When I turned it on, I must’ve hit something I wasn’t supposed to. I was trapped in here. You must get me out. Please.”

“Your mother is working with Saren. Whose side are you on?” Shepard asked, cutting to the chase – and wanting to find out if he would be recruiting or arresting her once she was freed.

“What? I am not on anybody’s side!” she said, with disdain, “I may be Benezia’s daughter, but I’m nothing like her! I have not spoken to her in years. Please, just get me out of here.”

Shepard believed her. He didn’t know what it was about Dr T’Soni, but he just knew she was someone he could trust. There was an almost child-like innocence about her, and her shock at seeing the geth outside of the Perseus Veil was nothing short of genuine.

“We’ll get you out of there.” Shepard said confidently.

“Be careful, there is a krogan with the geth. They have been trying various ways of getting past the barrier curtain with no success. The curtains can only be deactivated on this side, so you’ll have to find some way past them.” She said, all the time willing them to find something.

Shepard nodded his head and the trio turned around, they knew there were multiple geth units and now knew there was a krogan of all things here as well. They went along the intact walkway to find a large open space with the remnants of the archaeologist’s camp swarming with geth – but no sign of the krogan.

They decided to take out as many of them as possible from the walkway, as they had pretty decent cover and the high ground. Shepard took out his sniper rifle, and told the other two to cover him while he took the geth out. This tactic worked well and before long the geth in the camp were all destroyed.

After looking around the site, they found a large mining laser, it had been deactivated and locked down with Alliance encryption. It was more likely that the geth hadn’t tried to use it, as their hacking skills would have easily bypassed the encryption on the laser. Shepard walked over to it, and activated it after going through the Alliance locks. The mining laser immediately turned on and blasted a large hole through the ground and into a level below Liara. The crashing walls and rubble around it was immense, and almost straight away after the laser finished burning through, the ground beneath their feet started to shake. Shepard and the others ran through into the prothean structure and activated a lift in its central shaft up to the level Liara was on.

Liara was still suspended in the bubble, and must have been oblivious to the commotion caused by the mining laser.

“How…how did you get through? I thought there was no way past the barrier!” she exclaimed,

“We blasted through with the mining laser.” Shepard replied shortly,

“Please, get me out of here before more geth arrive. That console over there should shut down the containment field.” Liara said. Shepard walked over to the console that Liara had nodded to, and shut down the field. She landed with a bump, got to her feet and brushed herself off.

“There is an elevator back in the centre of the tower. At least, I think it’s an elevator. It should take us out of here, we’d better go!” she said pleadingly, she was obviously a bit nervous, and was not strong enough to take on any geth.

The four of them walked over to the elevator-platform, and were about to activate it, Liara spoke up again.

“I still cannot believe all of this. Why would the geth come after me? Do you think Benezia is involved?” she asked, trying to put the pieces together.

“Saren’s looking for the Conduit. You’re a prothean expert. Obviously he wants you to help him find it.” Kaidan replied.

“The Conduit?” Liara replied, puzzled, “But I don’t know…” she was cut off by a loud rumbling and everything shaking, it was as if they were at the epicentre of an earthquake.

“What the hell was that?” Wrex asked in his usual candid manner. The four of them looked around the tower that they stood in, as if to expect it to topple around them.

“These ruins aren’t stable. That mining laser must have triggered a seismic event.” She said, having been at the dig site for a while before the geth showed up, it was safe to say that she knew about how far they could push the mining laser before it could trigger something like this. “We have to hurry. The whole place it caving in!” she said with urgency as she went to the elevator’s console to send it up, all the while, the shaking and rumbling continued. Shepard, activated his comm to the Normandy to get an evac.

“Joker! Get the Normandy airborne and lock in on my signal. On the double, mister!” he yelled down the comm.

“Aye, aye, Commander. Secure and aweigh, ETA 7 minutes.” He replied as the comm cut off.

“That’s not much margin for error,” Kaidan said, cautiously,

“If we die in here, I’ll kill him.” Wrex said in a much more uncouth way.

The elevator started to ascend, all the while the four thinking it could stop, or fall at any point. Their luck was in for now, it carried on going up and got to the top level where they could make their escape.

As the elevator stopped, they were greeted by a squad of geth troops, headed by a krogan battlemaster. They marched towards them, blocking the only exit. They didn’t fire, which suggested they wanted Liara alive. Shepard motioned to the others to hold fire for the moment, to see what would unfold. The krogan battlemaster spoke to them briefly,

“Surrender. Or don’t, that would be more fun.” He said, with a slightly perverse smile on his face, he wanted the bloodshed.

“We don’t have time to deal with this idiot. Charge!” Shepard shouted, as the others drew their weapons.

“Ha! I like your attitude.” The krogan said, as he too drew his shotgun. Wrex took on the battlemaster himself, knowing that he would be more than a match for the other krogan. Shepard told Kaidan to stick with Liara and cover her, he didn’t want her hurt or killed before they could find out what she knew. Shepard ran up the slope of the elevator-platform and took out the 2 geth guarding the exit in 2 quick blasts from his assault rifle to the head, one of the other geth had followed the battlemaster and set up a shield, Kaidan used his tech overload on it and it was gone as quickly as it had been set up, Shepard then sprinted towards it and barged it down to the floor with the butt of his rifle, before unloading a few rounds into its chest. The last geth had gone around the other side of the elevator and was quickly taken out by Wrex with one blast from his shotgun, and near point-blank range.

The battlemaster however was still standing after tussling with Wrex for a moment, and Shepard went behind him while the battlemaster was still concentrating on Wrex. Shepard fired his assault rifle into him until his gun overheated, it proved to be more than enough as the battlemaster fell to the floor in a heap.

With that they all ran to the exit, however it was still blocked off by the large barrier curtains. Everything around them was shaking even more than before, it’s possible that the gunfight had only served to make things worse. They frantically looked around the barrier for some way through it, or for a console, but there was nothing to be found. Another large reverberation shook everything around them, it was the largest shake yet, and the barrier flickered before deactivating. The seismic activity had cut all the power from the prothean tower, and they had just been granted their escape.

Shepard made sure the other 3 ran out before him, pushing them past him shouting at them to run. They all started running up round their metal walkway that they had come in on, as rocks and boulders started falling in the massive cavern around them. They would have to be fast but they would have to rely on one last bit of luck. As they ran around the walkway to the exit, they were constantly bombarded my small rocks and stones, the occasional large rock flying past them to the bottom of the dig site. As they neared the exit, an enormous boulder fell onto the walkway behind them, and it started to be ripped from its supports. The four of them reached the dig site’s exit shaft, so they would not have to rely on the walkway, they made their final sprint up the shaft as it all started to collapse around them. As the dig site was disintegrating behind them, it created a massive black cloud of hot debris, it was starting to seem more likely that the dig site was not just inside a rocky hill, but a formerly inactive volcano. The scalding hot cloud was catching up fast with Shepard as the other three had made it out.

Shepard was running on adrenaline and fear of being cooked alive, as the black cloud caught up with, and enveloped him. The others were catching their breath on the ramp outside the dig site’s entrance, looking up to the door to see if Shepard had made it. A massive burst of debris and dust shot out of the entrance, and in amongst it was Shepard. He ran out and bent over double, coughing and spluttering. Just as he made it out, the Normandy hovered overhead, just in time to pick them up before any lava started to spew from the site.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 14

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 14

Finding the Dig Site

They drove the Mako through the tunnel and entered a small clearing near another lava flow. The two rocket troops that were guarding the exit of the tunnel were no match for the wheels of the Mako, as Shepard drove over and past them. There was a second tunnel that they entered, and another two rocket troops weren’t any match for the Mako as they were crushed beneath it.

The Mako left the second tunnel, and a small blockade had been set up, again with minimal resistance from the few geth troops that were stood behind it. Shepard drove the Mako past the blockade and round a small corner, when they came to an abrupt stop. The road was blocked with rocks and debris, possibly by a controlled explosion by the geth. The Mako couldn’t get past, but there was just enough space for Shepard, Wrex and Kaidan to go through on foot. It would be a tough last leg of their journey to find Dr T’Soni, but they were confident that they would be able to make it through.

They passed the rocks and went up a small knoll, to find a squad of geth troops, rocket troops and shock troops. Shepard took point and found cover behind a boulder, while Kaidan and Wrex did the same slightly behind. Shepard equipped his assault rifle and took out two troops in one sweeping move, while Kaidan took out the rocket troop out with his biotic throw, slamming it against the rocks behind. Wrex chuckled at Kaidan’s biotic display and decided to show off his own biotic abilities. He threw a warp at the last remaining geth, the shock troop and it started to affect it at a molecular level, as it was slowed and stumbled back, he then used his biotic throw to hit the geth against the same rocks as Kaidan had, only this time the geth pretty much disintegrated into dust. Wrex looked over at Kaidan, with his shotgun in one hand, holding it like a human would a pistol, nodded his head and smiled. Kaidan, just looked in awe, he knew he was a strong biotic, but Wrex’s hundreds of years of battlefield experience and use of biotics certainly showed.

They continued past where the geth came from, around another turning in the rocks, when they saw a large open area with a few rocks for cover. Where they stood at the opening of the clearing, there was a small rock that Shepard took cover behind, and told the others to stand back. He took out his sniper rifle and trained his sights on the rocket trooper at the other end of the opening, and blew its head off in one shot. He knew it would remove their element of surprise, but getting shot of that rocket trooper would tip the balance in his favour. He waited for his rifle to cool down for a second shot in the field, he broke cover and shot the remaining geth troop in the open. There was still a lot of gunfire and a couple of rockets coming from the ridge around the opening and from a lookout post near the ridge. They wouldn’t be able to take them out from their position, so they would have to get down on the field behind what little cover there was. Up past the ridge, there was a large mining structure, which would most likely be the entrance to a possible excavation site, it was on top of the location on their map that had been pointed out by Joker as having strange readings, so they knew they had almost reached their destination.

Shepard instructed Wrex and Kaidan to give him cover while he would make a sprint to the nearest rock on the field. Kaidan and Wrex provided that cover by throwing biotic warps towards the sources of gunfire followed by heavy assault rifle fire. Shepard sprinted down to the rock, taking a couple of hits to his shields in the process. After reaching his target, he poked his head out to get a view of the geth, he saw the rocket trooper who had been concealed before in the lookout, and a couple of other geth troops on the ridge. He told Kaidan to try to use his biotics to remove the rocket troop causing havoc from the lookout, and Wrex just started to run. He knew he’d be a big diversion for the geth on the ridge, and Shepard saw this. While Wrex was running, he started shooting his shotgun towards the ridge, getting lucky or just being that good, by taking out one of the geth. While he did this, Shepard took the last geth out with his sniper rifle. They paused while behind cover, and saw that they could advance. They moved up towards the ridge, and started moving towards the mine entrance they could see from before.

As they neared it, everything seemed too quiet and under-protected by the geth. They didn’t see another type of geth, crawling along a platform above them. It was a geth stalker. It immediately took notice of the trio, and jumped down in front of them, it took them by surprise enough for them to fail to shoot at it. It made a strange mechanical grinding sound and leapt away. Not long after, a geth dropship flew overhead. As it did, it dropped out a small army of geth troops and a geth armature. Taking them out in the Mako had almost turned into a game for them, but they knew they would be a much harder challenge on foot.

They all took to the nearest cover they could as gunfire, rockets and fire from the armatures pulse cannon hurtled toward them. Shepard yelled at the others to leave the armature for last, from what he had already seen of them, he knew they would be able to out manoeuvre it on foot. The geth stalker was causing the group the most problems, jumping down between Shepard and Kaidan and causing their weapons to overheat, rendering them momentarily useless. Wrex saw they were in trouble and threw an especially strong warp at the stalker, managing to take it out in one hit. The geth troops – having no concept of pain or fear – advanced towards them, Shepard and Kaidan took out different weapons and started firing at the nearest troops while their assault rifles cooled down.

Wrex meanwhile still had his shotgun in hand, and fired relentlessly at the rocket troops that were flanking the armature, taking them out in swift fashion. The geth who were advancing on Shepard and Kaidan were being cut to ribbons by them, and before they knew it, they only had the lumbering armature to deal with. Unfortunately, it would take a lot of firepower to take down, its shields were quick to recharge.

Shepard had a few grenades, and threw them all at the armature. They all exploded underneath the beast’s body, but it continued to advance slowly towards them. They had taken its shields out, and even damaged part of its armour, they just had to whittle it down until it fell.

Wrex and Kaidan starting using their biotics on it, but only Wrex’s warp had any effect. Kaidan switched tactics and used his tech skills on it, trying to overload it and sabotage its weapons. This worked well and the armature briefly stopped firing. Wrex barraged it with shotgun fire and Shepard fired ruthlessly at its head with his assault rifle while Kaidan continued to use his tech abilities to stifle the armatures attacking capabilities. Before long, the armature fell and the last geth standing before the entrance to the mine, and possibly Dr T’Soni, was destroyed.

Toolbox 24

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 13

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 13


Shepard returned to the Galaxy Map in the CIC of the Normandy, and decided to head to Knossos, it was the nearest system to Sparta and as good a place as any to continue the search for Dr T’Soni.

It took a while but after arriving in Knossos, they started scanning the planets immediately. It didn’t take long before the planet Therum light up like a Christmas tree for Commander Shepard. The planet was already settled by the Alliance and was a heavy industrial centre. It should have been the first planet they went to thinking back; a few months back some ancient ruins were discovered on the planet surface that as yet hadn’t been excavated and explored, it was a perfect fit for Dr T’Soni – the archaeologist.

Shepard went down to the planet with Wrex and Kaidan in the Mako, and shortly after being dropped off by the Normandy, Shepard was contact on the comm by Joker.

“Commander, I’m getting some strange readings – really strange, like off the damn charts. It looks like it’s coming from an underground complex a few clicks away from the drop zone.” Joker said, sending the co-ordinates through to the Mako’s navigation system.

Therum was a mineral rich and rocky world, it was an easy choice for the Alliance to exploit the natural resources available. There were only a couple of small settlements on the planet, but the plans were for it to become a major industrial centre like Bekenstein. After travelling in the Mako for a short while, they realised that they were facing a race against time to find Dr T’Soni, a geth dropship flew overhead and dropped two armatures in their path. Geth Armatures are large anti-vehicle and anti-personnel units that have heavy machine guns and a pulse cannon for taking out all manner of enemies. However, they are also quadruped walkers, and are easily knocked down by brute force. Fortunately for Shepard, the Mako is pure brute force.

The two armatures landed on the ground in front of the Mako, it would seem odd that only two were dropped, but it immediately indicated to Shepard that the bulk of their forces must be further ahead, and these armatures were sent just to slow them down. Shepard was determined not to let that happen. He couldn’t just pass them and risk them catching up to them later down the line, so he employed a similar tactic as he used previously against the Thresher Maw on Edolus. He drove the Mako at full speed against the first armature, using the vertical thrusters to “hop” over any incoming balls of plasma-like energy that would have seriously crippled the Mako’s shields. As they approached the first armature, Shepard increased their speed whilst alternating between the Mako’s own machine gun and cannon to wear down the geth walker. After dealing a large amount of damage upon it, they rammed it hard, barely scratching the Mako’s shields or heavy armour, the armature flew through the air and smashed into a nearby rock face, shutting down or dying or whatever it is geth do when they’re destroyed. Shepard decided to employ the same tactic against the second armature to devastating effect, but this time sending the armature into a nearby lava flow. After dealing with them, they drove on towards the strange readings signalled by Joker and the Normandy.

They continued to drive on for a while, and the path narrowed into a bottle-neck. They turned a small corner and suddenly came across 3 heavy-geth turrets. Immediately, the turrets trained their sights on the Mako and started to fire rockets. Wrex spotted an even narrower side gulley, and spoke up.

“Only a fool punches a nathak in the mouth. We should sneak around a pull its tail.” As Wrex spoke he pointed out the small side route that could be taken, and Shepard drove. After entering the small gulley, they had to drive slow to navigate it, and encountered a solitary turret in their path. It wasn’t a challenge, and the slow rate of fire of the rockets didn’t pose a problem, as Shepard could hop over them – again using the vertical thrusters. They destroyed the turret and drove into the compound, where there were more geth units within. The compound itself was an overrun refinery, no traces of humanity were left, as the geth patrolled it. There were a few bigger geth that were in the compound that would later be identified as a Geth Destroyer, Geth Shock Trooper and a Geth Juggernaut. The Destroyers were slightly larger than normal geth, and could utilise a plasma flame thrower to devastating effect. The Shock Troopers were able to throw up a hexagonal shield at will to take cover behind, and were able to quickly advance up the battlefield as a result. Geth Juggernauts on the other hand, were not in need of a shield. As their name suggests, they were enormous versions of standard geth units, but also fired rockets, and could just as freely advance up the battlefield due to their incredible robustness.

They used the Mako to clear out the compound, and then stormed the gate house to get past the secure gates. The path led on towards the dig site that Dr T’Soni could well be. The presence of the geth only served to confirm their thoughts that they would find Dr T’Soni soon. The only question they needed answered however, was whether or not she was working with her mother and Saren.

They drove away from the small compound, and figured that they would encounter more geth along the way and they did. They came across and destroyed another 4 armatures, before coming to a large clearing by a tunnel. There were several geth rocket troops dotted around who were easily disposed of, they werern’t the problem. The problem lied with the Geth Colossus standing in their way. The Colossus was about 4 times the size of the standard armatures, and their pulse cannons were guided, no amount of hopping the Mako or evasive manoeuvres would prevent them from striking their targets. Shepard decided to practice their previous tactic in order to take this giant out – ramming it.

Shepard drove as fast as the Mako could go, taking fire the whole time with the shields holding out well – just before reaching the Colossus, Shepard hit the vertical thrusters and the Mako flew into the body of it, hurling it to the ground. He knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain that kind of offense against the Colossus, so employed a playground bullies tactic – while the Colossus was floored, Shepard spun the Mako around and drove over the top of it, hitting the brakes so as to park their tank on top of the Colossus in the hopes of preventing it from getting back up. And it worked. It would take longer, but they needed to destroy the Colossus, so they go out and got in close to it, inserting their weapons through the cracks and joins in its armour and firing relentlessly until their weapons overheated. This worked as well, and the light on the Colossus’ head went out.

Shepard, Kaidan and Wrex got back into the Mako and drove into the tunnel to continue their search for Dr Liara T’Soni.

Toolbox 24


I really hope you're still enjoying this. I'm not posting chapters up as much as I'd like, but this is going to keep on going right up to the end - so get used to it. :-)

Oh and when I find the time, I'll remind you that I'm not a one-trick pony and write about some other games. T'ra.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 12

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 12

The Admiral’s Team

The Normandy arrived in the Artemis Tau cluster which is made up of 4 systems, Athens, Knossos, Macedon and Sparta. The only information that Shepard had, was that Dr Liara T’Soni was at a dig site somewhere in the cluster.

Shepard stood in the Combat Information Center (CIC), overlooking the galaxy map, his hand rubbing the stubble on his chin, thinking of where to start first. Each location was as suitable as another so he decided to start where they already were. The Mass Relay was located in the Sparta system, so they scan the possible planets there for signs of Dr T’Soni. While they were there, he thought they would look for signs of Admiral Kahoku’s missing team, which was performing ops in the Sparta System.

There were 5 planets and a small asteroid belt in the Sparta System, but there was only one planet of them that could harbour life: Edolus. The other planets were either too cold, had no atmosphere or was a gas giant. The chances were slim that they could hit 2 birds with one stone by helping Admiral Kahoku and finding Dr T’Soni. Edolus would likely be where Kahoku’s team was, so they diverted from their search for Dr T’Soni to help the Admiral.

Shepard instructed Joker to sweep the planet and scan for the Admiral’s team. Shortly after starting the scanning, they may well have struck gold. Joker got on the comm to Shepard,

“Commander, err, I’m picking up a distress beacon from the planet surface.” He said,

“Can we get the Normandy in for a closer look?” Shepard replied,

“Negative, Commander. The planet is constantly being bombarded by meteors, it’s like a freaking magnet for those things. Best I can do is find a landing zone near the beacon and drop you in the Mako. Picking you back up is going to be dicey, but we can deal with that later.” Joker said,

“Do it Joker. I’ll get Garrus and Wrex ready to join me.” Shepard told him, as he turned away from the Galaxy Map and headed down the ship to the Mako.

The Normandy flew fast into the atmosphere on the always shuddering planet, its surface an infinite sea of yellow silicate sand with a few rocky highlands. Joker’s expert flying was probably the only reason that the ship wasn’t struck by incoming meteors flung at the planet by the nearby gas giant: Ontamalca. Joker flew the Normandy in, and dropped the Mako out of the cargo bay for it to make a controlled descent to the planet surface. It would be seen from the outside as a high-risk manoeuvre, however with Joker flying the Normandy and Shepard controlling the Mako, it was routine, even as mundane as going to the head for a piss for them.

The Mako dropped out of the Normandy and immediately Shepard applied the vertical thruster in order to control the landing, Shepard was well versed in the workings of the Mako, and landed it perfectly.

Shepard sat in the Mako for a moment, the engine rumbling under his seat and checked the operational map. He quickly found the distress signal that Joker had mentioned in a large flat plain, he turned the Mako around and headed towards it.

After driving a few hundred meters, Shepard drove the Mako to the top of a small hill on the edge of the open flat. They could already see the tank that Kahoku’s team must have been using near the centre of the plain, and nothing else. Things looked too easy, and they had to find out what happened to the squad, so they proceeded with caution.

Shepard slowly drove the Mako towards the tank, the M29 “Grizzly”, and as they approached it was clear that there wasn’t a single survivor of Kahoku’s team. The mauled bodies of the elite Alliance soldiers littered the ground around the Grizzly, Wrex spoke up.

“Erm, Commander. This looks like a Thresher Maw nest.” He said with an unease Shepard was surprised to hear from the big krogan.

“Come on Wrex, whatever it is, we can handle it.” Shepard replied confidently. It was only moments later that Shepard knew his confidence was wildly misplaced. His conception of what a Thresher Maw was, was massively off the mark. He knew they were essentially giant worms, but he thought that meant they were more like big snakes. Wrex on the other hand, coming from Tuchanka, was more than aware of what Thesher Maws were, and why it would be best not to drive into one of their nests – it’s widely thought that Thesher Maw’s originated on the krogan homeworld.

Shepard drove the Mako closer to the distress beacon and the dead Alliance team, when the Thesher Maw showed its head. Literally. Thesher Maw’s live and burrow underground, and break through the surface in order to surprise and catch its prey.

The Thresher Maw’s head alone must have stood at around 50ft above the surface, it immediately faced the Mako, as it ground to a halt in a nervous stand-off that only lasted a second but felt as though it lasted forever. It recoiled its head, and spat its venom, a highly corrosive acid that would have cut through the Mako’s armour like a hot knife through butter. Shepard thought quickly and applied the accelerator whilst hitting the vertical thruster for a moment, essentially hopping over the incoming acid storm.

Although the Thresher Maw had surprised Shepard, that tactical element was now lost to it. Shepard trained the sights of the main cannon and machine gun onto it and fired. Although the blast and spray of machine gun fire hit the monster in its face, it barely seemed to make a scratch, but it retreated back underground.

“Do you think we scared it off?” Garrus asked, he like Shepard, was unaware of the hunting habits of the enormous beast they had just come into contact with.

“Ha! Turians. You’re all the same.” Wrex chuckled to himself, “One battle won and you think you’ve won the war. We’d better have eyes in the back of our heads while we’re sat here, it’s tunnelling around us.”

“Then we’d better not be sitting ducks.” Shepard said, driving forward as fast as he could. As he did, Garrus and Wrex looked at each other, Garrus speaking up first.

“What’s a duck?” he asked genuinely.

There was no time for an explanation, the Thresher Maw rose out of the ground again behind the Mako pausing for the split second before rearing back to spit again. Shepard fired at the Maw again, dodging the acid that started to dissolve the ground where it struck, and again the Maw retreated underground.

“Shepard, you’re doing the right thing if you want to take this thing down. Move and shoot. But I think we know what happened here. I’m not going to shy away from a fight, but this is pointless.” Wrex said,

“No. We need to take this thing down and find out what that beacon is. An Alliance team with the ear of a Rear Admiral wouldn’t just stumble in here without good reason.” Shepard replied.

The Maw rose again and Shepard shot it down again, and again. And again. The dance continued and it took a while, but the Mako’s guns soon wore down the Thresher Maw’s armour-like skin and flesh and finally toppled it. With the Thresher Maw dead, they could finally investigate what happened to the Alliance team.

Shepard, Garrus and Wrex left the Mako to check out the Alliance corpses and the distress beacon. Although it was clearly the Thresher Maw attack that had left the soldiers dead, it was the distress beacon that was intriguing.

“This is an Alliance beacon.” Shepard said, examining it closely,

“Alliance? So Kahoku’s team set it up, maybe when they were attacked?” Garrus replied,

“Impossible.” Wrex said with his worldly arrogance, “You saw how quickly that Maw attacked us, if they were already out of that tank, they wouldn’t have lasted 10 seconds out in the open. That beacon was already here.”

Shepard looked at the beacon more closely, although it was an Alliance beacon, it just didn’t seem right to him. The only thing he could do was report back to Admiral Kahoku on the Citadel the next time they were there.

With that, Shepard contacted the Normandy for a pick up. As they waited in the Mako, Shepard started thinking about where to look for Dr T’Soni next.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 11

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 11

They Have Flashlight Head's

Shepard walked over to Ash, she was checking over the weapons that had been used in Chora’s Den, ensuring they were ready for any potential combat that they could encounter in the Artemis Tau Cluster when looking for Dr Liara T’Soni. Ashley saw Shepard approach, stopped checking over an assault rifle, stroked back her hair, and turned to face him.

“Commander.” Ash said with slight smile. Shepard looked back at her and kept his steely demeanour.

“How are you feeling about Eden Prime?” he asked, knowing that she was the only survivor from her unit.

“No offence Commander, I appreciate the rescue but…” Ash said,

“We got there as fast as we could Ash. Even with the fastest ship in the fleet.” Shepard replied, wanting her to know that she was lucky.

“It’s not that Commander. I feel like it’s my fault. If I’d have been more alert, we wouldn't have been cut down by an ambush.” Ash said remorsefully.

“The geth are perfect ambusher’s Ash.” Shepard said, wanting to help her, “They don’t move. They don’t make noise, they don’t even breathe.”

“They have flashlight head’s Shepard.” Ash said, matter-of-factly and her grin turning into a full smile. “It won’t happen again.”

Shepard smiled back at her, and with a nod of his head, dismissed her to return to her duties. Shepard then walked down towards the aft of the ship, to the engine room where his last recruit, Tali was helping out Chief Engineer Adams.

Tali was at a console, examining the details of the drive core for the Normandy, when she spotted Shepard in the peripheral vision of her mask. She turned to face him, hopping slightly with a giddy charm.

“This ship is amazing Shepard!” she beamed, “The drive core is fantastic, I’m surprised you were able to fit it into a ship so small! I’m starting to understand why the Alliance has been so successful, I had no idea Alliance vessels were this advanced!”

Shepard wanted to be quick to dispel that myth, “This ship is a prototype – cutting edge technology. Alliance vessels aren’t usually this advanced.”

“Still…a month ago I was patching a make shift fuel line into a converted tug ship in the flotilla. Now, I’m standing on the most advanced ship in Citadel space. I have to thank you again for giving me this opportunity. Travelling on a ship like this is a dream come true for me.” Tali replied,

“I had no idea you were into ship technology like this.” Shepard said, surprised that someone as young as Tali would be into something seemingly dry like this.

“Are you kidding? Ships are our most vital resource. We depend on the ships we have for survival, but we usually make do with cast off’s and second hand vessels, we have nothing like this! Some of our ships date all the way back to our original flight away from the geth.” Tali explained,

“I can’t believe you have ships that are 3 centuries old!” Shepard remarked, shocked by this seemingly innocuous revelation.

“They are constantly being repaired, modified and refitted. We try to make ourselves as independent as possible on the flotilla, we grow our own food, mine, and even process our own fuel. But there are some things that we can’t do for ourselves. A patch to repair the hull integrity requires raw materials that we just don’t have. That’s why our pilgrimages are so important.” Tali explained further.

“I’d like to know more about the geth.” Shepard said, knowing that if Saren had an army of geth at his disposal, he’d need to know more about them.

“I doubt I can tell you anything that you don’t already know.” Tali said tentatively, “I only know what they were 3 centuries ago, when we first built them, and how they turned on us.”

“Interesting.” Shepard replied.

“Well, the geth were first created in order to be an automotive manual labour force, who had minimal intelligence, maybe along the same line as a Virtual Intelligence, or VI. Over time, we made small modifications to their programming in order for them to perform more varied and complex tasks, bringing them closer and closer to true AI status.” Tali said,

“Didn’t the Council step in to stop you? How come you were allowed to do this?” Shepard asked, knowing that the Council had explicitly banned all AI research due to how dangerous the risks of them were.

“We didn’t exactly do anything illegal. We may have skirted the boundaries of the law, but the changes were so minute and seemingly insignificant we were able to control them. At least that’s what we thought, we underestimated the power of the neural network. A million geth thinking simultaneously created an inherently unstable matrix.”

“So the geth share intelligence?” Shepard said, slightly confused.

“In a way yes. Many of the geth’s logic systems were designed to work in concert with other nearby geth. Basically, the more of them you have in a group, the smarter they are.” Tali said,

“So why did the geth rebel?” Shepard asked,

“As the geth started to develop further and have more abstract thoughts, they started to question their quarian masters as to the nature of their existence. What is my purpose? Why are we here? And perhaps the most poignant – Does this unit have a soul?” Tali said sadly, “As you could expect, a near-panic among our people.”

“I don’t see what’s so bad about those questions.” Shepard said,

“The geth started to develop signs of self-awareness and independent thought. The tasks they were made to do were fine for machines – mundane, repetitive or dangerous manual labour. If they developed a self-aware consciousness, then we would essentially be using them as slaves. It would be inevitable that they would rise against us in response to the situation they were in. So we acted first. A general order was put out to all quarian controlled systems to permanently deactivate all geth. The geth responded to this order violently.” Tali said,

“I can’t say I blame them. They were defending themselves in order to survive.” Shepard said, unexpectedly even to himself.

“The geth were on the verge of revolution anyway. The hope was that if we acted quickly enough, we could stop the war before it even began. The hope was that most geth were still little more than machines. But they had progressed, or even evolved I suppose, more than we had expected. The war was long and bloody, millions of quarians died at the hands of the geth. It got to the point that we had to evacuate our own home planet of Rannoch. As we fled, we feared the geth would pursue us, but they never followed us past the Veil. Now we drift through space, as exiles, searching for a way to reclaim what was once ours.” Tali said,

“It’s hard to feel sorry for you. You tried to wipe out another species.” Shepard said, again surprising himself in the process.

“It was a mistake to create the geth, but it was not a mistake to go to war with them. If we hadn’t done what we had, they would have wiped us out. They are a synthetic life form, they have no need for organics. Why do you think they cut themselves off from the rest of the galaxy? Why do you think they have killed every organic life form that have ventured into their space?” Tali said, somewhat heatedly.

“They didn’t kill Saren.” Shepard responded, wanting to prove a point,

“And look how that’s worked out! The geth are not innocent in all this, they chose to follow Saren. They’re the enemy. They want to destroy us. Not just the quarians – all organic life. That’s why they’ve joined up with Saren. And that’s why we have to stop him.” Tali told Shepard, holding her ground against the more experienced Commander. Shepard may not have completely agreed with her, but he respected her immensely for her strength of character and resolve in this issue. He nodded his head, and told her he should go, he knew it wouldn’t be long before they reached the Artemis Tau Cluster.


Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 10

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 10

Let’s Get This Bird In The Air

Shepard got out of his armour and into his navy blue uniform, and headed up to the bridge to see Joker. As he walked through the Normandy, from what is now his Captain’s Cabin, everyone saluted, and nodded approval towards him. They knew the score, they knew that Captain Anderson had sacrificed his own ambition to be the CO of the Alliance’s most advanced warship in order to give Shepard the best chance of finding and taking down Saren.

As Shepard approached the cockpit where Joker was conducting his final pre-flight checks, Joker spoke up.

“I heard what happened to Captain Anderson. Survives a hundred battles and gets taken down by back-room politics.” Joker said, with his usual candour, Shepard knew if anyone was going to tell it like it is, it would be Joker, “Just be careful out there Commander, if this goes belly-up, it could be you on the chopping block next.”

“Saren’s out there somewhere. And we’re going to find him.” Shepard said, giving Joker the same level of frankness that he just gave him.

“Well everyone on this ship is behind you Commander. One hundred percent.” Joker replied, as his board lit green ready for take-off. “Intercom’s open. If you’ve got anything you want to say to the crew, now’s the time.”

Shepard leaned over and activated the intercom, his steely look made that much harder by the large scar running from his forehead across his eye and down his right cheek.

“Listen up Normandy. This is your Commander speaking. Our orders are clear: find Saren before he finds the Conduit. And I refuse to let anything get in the way of that mission.” He said firmly, “We all saw what Saren did on Eden Prime. We saw the bodies, saw the destruction. And I intend to make him pay. Wherever he searches for the Conduit, we’ll be there. We will hunt him to the very end of the galaxy and bring him down. This is the most important mission any of us have ever been on. The fate of the entire galaxy is at stake. We will stop Saren, no matter what the cost.” Shepard turned off the intercom and stood up straight again, Joker was smiling, not out of humour or joy, but out of determination that they were part of something massive, and that they would have to pull everything out of the bag to get it done.

 “Well said Commander. Captain Anderson would be proud.” Joker said to the Commander.

“Fancy speeches won’t bring Saren down. Our actions will. Now let’s get this bird in the air.” Shepard told Joker,

“Yes, Sir!” Joker said with a grin as he leaned forward in his chair and started to pull the Normandy away from the dock.

“Joker, send us to the Artemis Tau Cluster. Once we get there, maybe we’ll have a better idea as to where Dr T’Soni is.” Shepard gave his orders and turned to walk away. He wanted to check back in with Joker later on, but wanted to ensure his new recruits – Garrus, Wrex and Tali were settling into the Normandy. He knew it was going to be quite a while before they reached their destination, so he thought it would be the best time to interact with his new squad.

“Aye, aye, Commander.” Joker said as he punched in the co-ordinates and the Normandy advanced away from the Citadel.

Shepard walked through the ship again, to head down to the garage where Garrus was tinkering with the Mako – the Normandy’s ground exploration vehicle, essentially an all-terrain armoured truck with a mounted turret and machine gun – Tali was introducing herself to Engineer Adams in the engine room adjoining the garage and Wrex was stood by his equipment being Wrex.

Shepard entered the garage from the elevator, and approached Garrus. Garrus saw him coming and turned to face him,

“Thanks for bringing me on-board Shepard. I knew working with a Spectre would be better than life in C-Sec.” Garrus said.

“Have you worked with a Spectre before?” Shepard asked, wanting to know his new squad a fair bit better before going on any high-risk missions with them.

“Well… no. But I know what Spectres are like. You make your own rules. You’re free to go about your business however you see fit. In C-Sec, you’re buried by rules. The damn bureaucrats are always on your back.” He replied, obviously unimpressed by the red-tape of C-Sec.

“That is a perk to being a Spectre. I’m going to be doing things my way to get to Saren.” Shepard said,

“Exactly. It’s like, it shouldn’t matter how I take down a suspect, as long as I take him down. But C-Sec want things done their way. Policy and procedure come first. That’s why I left.” Garrus said,

“That was why you left?” Shepard asked, wondering if Garrus had made the right decision for himself.

“There’s more to it than that. It didn’t start out that bad, but as I rose through the ranks, I got saddled with more and more red tape. C-Sec’s handling of Saren was typical. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I hate leaving…” he replied, showing some remorse for leaving.

“Garrus, I hope you made the right decision. I’d hate for you to regret it later on.” Shepard said, his officer training kicking in.

“Well that’s sort of why I teamed up with you Shepard. I need to see how things are done outside of C-Sec. And maybe without them breathing down my neck every 5 minutes, I’ll get a chance to do things my way for a change.” Garrus replied, his remorseful tone replaced with a resolute one.

“As long as you do your job well, you’re free to go about your business how you see fit.” Shepard said, giving Garrus a green light to flourish.

“Thank you Commander.” Garrus said simply, as he returned to his work on the Mako.

Shepard knew that those he’d picked up on the Citadel and Eden Prime would be with him for a while, their presence around him and on the Normandy felt right, it felt as though fate had intertwined in events and brought them all together. And he just knew that to find Saren and stop the Reapers returning, he’d need them by his side. He looked over to the other side of the Normandy’s garage and saw the big krogan, Wrex, just standing. Watching. Shepard approached him, wanting to get to know him better, and earn his trust. Perhaps his respect. Shepard knew that it would be hard, especially as he had had very little contact with krogans, and that contact usually involved staring down the barrel of a gun. As Shepard approached Wrex, what appeared as a smile crept across the krogan’s face.

“Nice ship you got here Shepard. What can I do for you?” he asked, plainly.

“What’s your story Wrex?” Shepard asked,

“There’s no story. If you want a story, go talk to the quarian.” Wrex answered, obviously not used to opening up.

“Come on Wrex, you krogan live for centuries. Don’t tell me you haven’t had a few interesting adventures!” Shepard said,

“Well…there was this one time when the turians almost wiped out our entire race. That was fun.” He said with a heaped spoon of sarcasm, referring to the genetic bioweapon developed by the salarians and deployed by the turians to put down the krogan around 2,000 years ago to end the Krogan Rebellions called the genophage.

“Yeah, I heard about that.” Shepard said, “You know, they tried to do the same thing to us.” Shepard said, not fully grasping the severity of the genophage.

“It’s not the same.” Wrex said bluntly

“So the turians infected you with a genetic mutation? One that means only a few in a thousand babies survive birth? And I suppose it’s destroying your entire species?” Wrex said aggressively.

“I suppose it isn’t all the same.” Shepard said, rather sheepishly – not a trait he was used to showing.

“I don’t expect you to understand, but don’t compare humanity’s fate with that of the krogan.” Wrex said, making his point.

“I’m sorry Wrex. I didn’t mean to get you upset.” Shepard said,

“Your ignorance doesn’t upset me Shepard.” Wrex said, knowing that the human in-front of him wasn’t to blame, “As for the krogan… I gave up on them long ago. The genophage infected us, but it’s not what’s killing us.”

“Are your people really dying Wrex?” Shepard asked, wanting to know more.

“We’re sure not getting any stronger.” Wrex said, with a hint of dark humour, “We’re too spread out. There aren’t enough of my people interested in staying in our own system.”

“So? Lots of species have left their home systems and prospered.” Shepard said,

“Yeah, but they leave to colonise new worlds, Shepard. We’re not settlers. We’re warriors. We live to fight. So that’s what we do. So we leave. We sell ourselves to the highest bidder. Most of us never return.” Wrex said – seemingly ending that line of conversation.

“What can you tell me about the genophage?” Shepard asked,

“Ask the salarians if you want details. They made it. All I know is that it makes breeding nearly impossible. Thousands die in still-birth, more don’t make it that far. Every krogan is infected – every one. And nobody’s rushing to find a cure.” Wrex lamented,

“Why don’t the krogan try to find a cure?” Shepard probed,

“When was the last time you saw a krogan scientist?” Wrex asked, “If you asked a krogan, would he rather find a cure for the genophage or fight for credits? He’d choose fighting every time. It’s just who we are Shepard. I can’t change that. Nobody can.” He said forlornly. Shepard knew he’d touched a nerve, and decided to end it there before the big krogan got really upset – he didn’t know how he’d react if pushed on the subject.

“So long Wrex.” Shepard said,

“Shepard.” Wrex simply replied, as he got back to watching Garrus across the garage. Shepard wanted to chat with Ash and Tali before reaching the Artemis Tau Cluster.

Shepard walked towards Ash, who was stood by the crew’s equipment, ensuring every piece was battle ready from the go.