Friday, 24 January 2014

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Review

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR)
Bioware - LucasArts
PC / XBOX (Original) / iPad - RPG

Hello there boys and girls! Hope you're all doing well!!!

Right let me introduce this game in pretty much the only way I can. KotOR came out 10 years ago on the XBOX and I have played this game at least once or twice a year since then. It is pretty much one of the all time best games ever made. Ever.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it, or make out that it's more than it isn't - I'm going to tell you exactly how great this game is and why. Before I do, I'm going to tell you that you can buy KotOR any time of day, any day of the week for just £6.99 on Steam to download directly into your Steam Library, or if you want to play it on the bus or train, download it for your iPad for the same price. It WILL be the best £6.99 you'll spend on yourself.

Right I digress. KotOR has everything going for it, it's story is pure Star Wars, and when this was originally released when a lot of people had a lot of resentment for Star Wars - the prequel trilogy not living up to expectations for many. To be honest LucasArts needed something to remind them that they still cared about the fans, and that they still cared about the Star Wars Universe.

KotOR is set a little bit before the films, even the prequel films. The Star Wars Universe (SWU) has a timeline, it's all based around the Battle of Yavin from Episode IV, where the first Death Star was destroyed. So you have years in BBY and ABY - Before and After the Battle of Yavin.

So where Return of the Jedi is set in 4 ABY, The Phantom Menace is set in 32 BBY. Yoda was born in 896 BBY. KotOR is set in 3956 BBY.

No Luke and Leia. No Darth Vader. No Han and Chewie. None of it. It's a reminder that the SWU is enormous. It's absolutely gigantic, it's far more than the 6 movies and Clone Wars cartoons. KotOR is set almost 4000 years prior to the Star Wars you're bound to know and might well love.

When I first heard this, I was sceptical. But when you dive in, it's all purest Star Wars from start to finish. There's action, romance, drama, plot twists, the Jedi, the Sith, the Republic, droids, lightsabers and force powers.

Awww yeah.

Right, enough of an introduction, I've barely touched upon the game itself apart from to say that it's set 4000 years before the movies.

The gameplay is really good, it's a turn-based RPG, but doesn't play like you'd expect. There are parts where it's like, you shoot or swing your lightsaber...they shoot or swing their shoot or swing your get the idea, but it doesn't take away anything from the game, you can pause in combat in order to organise moves that you are going to use or to use items like stamina or strength boosts, or medpacs or to turn on your shields.

But in honesty, the combat is not where the game is great, although to be honest the chance to swing a lightsaber (or 2) or a double-bladed lightsaber, and choke your enemies before flinging them across the room and blasting them with a storm of force lightening is fucking-A. It's the quests that help make the game what it is, the mini-quests, the random little conversations, the back-story and the overall storyline that suck you in and keep you playing. From helping an alien who is being bullied by kids to finding out a dark secret about a wookiee to searching the galaxy for an ancient secret that is fuelling the Sith War Machine. There's even a side mission where it's not so subtly implied that a woman is sexually abusing her C-3PO-esque droid it "fill the gap" left by her dead husband. Creepy. But it's all so good, it make you wanna slap yo mamma.


Anyway, graphically it's good - for 2003 it was REALLY good, and playing on a PC, it stands up nicely even 10 years on. Some parts of the game are really nice, you can tell it's a Bioware game and you can tell it's quintessentially Star Wars.

You can tell that some of the background scenery could have been a slight inspiration for the multitudes of random planets you can explore in Mass Effect - another BioWare masterpiece.

There are several planets to visit during the game, including Tatooine - the desert planet that Luke grew up on and home to the Sand People; Manaan - a water world holding the galaxies only natural source of the healing agent: kolto; Kashyyk - the wookiee homeworld; Taris - a sprawling city planet in the outer-rim; Korriban - the Sith homeworld; Dantooine - a farm world that housed a Jedi enclave as well as a couple more locations, including a DLC that housed a small merchant orbiting Yavin (the planet that was the scene for the ending of Episode IV: A New Hope). There are also some truly memorable and dare I say, iconic characters in this game.

I'll start with the main antagonist - Darth Malak. He's an evil basard with hopes of using his vast Sith forces to overthrow the Republic and to install himself as the ruler of the Galaxy, and to destroy the Jedi Order in the process. His methods were more traditional than the way in which Emporer Palpatine succeeded in infiltrating his way to power. Yep, Malak went out of his way to just decimate everyone and everything in his path on a war that would kill millions. There is a slight nod towards Darth Vader in this guy though, in the back-story, his jaw was lopped off by his former Master - Darth Revan, and as such has a cybernetic jaw instead, along with a gravelly slightly robotic voice.

But now, as a lead character, and obviously as a total dude, you can't go it alone. You need a team of characters able to fight the Sith and complete the story, included in your team is Carth Onasi - a battle hardened Republic pilot, who's seen more battle than your average soldier and has his own motives for defeating the evil Sith; Bastila - a young head-strong Jedi who has the rare Force power of Battle Meditation, with the ability to turn the tide of any battle just through her will; Mission Vao - a street wise Twi'Lek (like Jabba's advisor in Return of the Jedi, with the wormy things coming out of their head); Zaalbaar - a wookiee with a dark secret; Juhani - a once fallen Jedi who might accompany you depending on how you handle your first encounter with her; Canderous Ordo - a Mandalorian (like Boba Fett) warrior turned bounty hunter; Jolee Bindo - an ex-Jedi recluse voiced by the immense Kevin Michael Richardson, who you might know as Principal Lewis from American Dad); T3-M4 - a utility droid much like R2-D2 who communicates in beeps and whistles and HK-47 - basically, C-3PO...if C-3PO was a wise cracking assassin droid who reveals in describing all organics as "Meatbags" and thinks any and every problem can be solved by him either beating it mercilessly or blasting it into dust.

The 2 best characters for their actual character are Jolee Bindo and HK-47, their little insights during the game are brilliant, and finding out more about them is brilliant and not pure Star Wars - but pure BioWare.

Anyway, the basic story of the game is thus (without trying to give too much away): You are a soldier/smuggler/scout who was on the Republic starship the Endar Spire when it came under attack from the Sith, you manage to barely escape with Carth Onasi and try to find Bastila, (the Jedi mentioned previously) who also escaped the Endar Spire, on the planet below - Taris. After which you have leave for the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine with some new chums in Mission Vao, Zaalbaar, Canderous Ordo and T3-M4. There you discover an ancient secret that points you to the planets Kashyyk, Manaan, Tatooine and Korriban. During your travels you meet Jolee Bindo, possibly purchase HK-47 and potentially recruit Juhani. During your travels as well you discover a deep secret about yourself, that you yourself didn't even know - and do battle with Darth Malak before discovering the reason for his seemingly never-ending resources.

I don't want to ruin any of it, because although it's been out for 10 years, there are still those out there who wont have played it or know the story of it. Ah well.

Moving onto the music and sound of the game, again, BioWare comes up trumps. The music is an original score, apart from the initial title scrawl, you know...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

That one. Even though it's an original score, it sounds perfectly in place for a Star Wars game, being original, and not using music from the movies, really sets it apart as well. It's all big orchestral music, and there's even some cheesy sounding bar music cut from the same cloth as the music you hear in Episode IV, when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han and Chewie... this one:

Now that that tune is gleefully in your brain, I'll carry on. The music sets the right tone in every scene, and every playable area. It's beautifully composed, and it's perfectly set. I cannot sing it's praises enough.

The sound effects for the game are also brilliant, from swinging a lightsaber to hearing the crackling of the Force Lightening power, to shooting a blaster and listening to the background noises on Kashyyk or Tatooine, everything again, sets the tone and pace of the game perfectly.

Lastly the voice acting, some amazing performances from veterans in the business, like Raphael Sbarge - who also performs as Carth Onasi, who also appears in the Mass Effect trilogy as Kaidan Alenko, and Jennifer Hale - who plays Bastila, again you'll recognise her as the voice of FemShep in Mass Effect as well as also appearing in other games and TV shows including many Star Wars and Star Trek incarnations, X-Men, Spider-Man and even kids shows and films from Johnny Bravo and the Powerpuff Girls to Disney's Sophia the First, new Cinderella movies and Wreck it Ralf. Anyway enough about them, the voice acting is superior to most other games you'll end up playing - unless those other games are BioWare - they have a brilliant writing staff, and during these blinding days included the brilliant writer and author Drew Karpyshyn among them. 

The voice acting is top-notch, and the wording of everything could have come from George Lucas's original screenplays. It's amazing, and stays true to classic Star Wars form.

Do you know what? I'm going to end it there. 2003's undoubted GOTY, doesn't need me selling it anymore. Just go on Steam or the iStore and get it. Do it now.

I cannot recommend this game enough. This is a pure diamond of a game, and for as long as I can, I'm sure I'll be making my annual trips back to the Endar Spire where it all begins.

No question. 10/10.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation - Chapter 7

Seek The Enemy of Your Enemy, And You Will Find a Friend

Shepard, Garrus and Kaidan entered the C-Sec Academy and immediately found Wrex with a group of C-Sec officers. His huge frame immediately identifiable amongst the other races walking around and working. He was a huge, hulking beast with no fear to speak of - much like any other krogan, but with the aura of a lifetime of battle and struggle surrounding him.

The C-Sec Academy was a grand huge place, with elevators linking it to the Presidium Embassies and also the Alliance dock where the Normandy was berthed. C-Sec officers and recruits filled the place, it seemed as safe a place as you could be in the Citadel - all but for the giant krogan causing a scene.

Shepard and the others approached Wrex while he was in a...heated discussion with a noticeably smaller human C-Sec officer.

"Witnesses saw you making threats in Fist's bar, Wrex." the officer said, "Stay away from him."

"I don't take orders from you." Wrex said indignantly.

"This is your only warning, Wrex." the officer said, leaning forward in an attempt to assert some kind of authority - which failed.

"You should warn Fist. I will kill him." Wrex said,

"Do you want me to arrest you?!" the officer said, obviously non-the-braver for the other officers flanking Wrex.

"I want you to try." Wrex chuckled as he looked away and saw Shepard waiting nearby for him. He walked away from the officers, to the sound of the one officer who had been talking to him shakily saying "Go on Wrex, get outta here!".

Wrex approached Shepard, recognising him from Chora's Den and went face-to-face with him. He started the ball rolling with him,

"Do I know you, human?"

"I'm Shepard. I'm going after Fist." Shepard replied, showing none of the fear that the C-Sec officer had shown previously. Wrex let out a very guttural sigh,

"Shepard. Commander Shepard. I've heard of you, you're a warrior like me. Out of respect I'll give you fair warning: I'm going to kill Fist." Wrex said,

"Fist knows you're coming," Garrus interjected, "We'll all stand a better chance of getting to Fist if we work together."

Wrex looked at Garrus, not feeling much aside from hatred because he was a turian, but took note of the intelligence of what he was saying, and looked back at Shepard,

"My people have a saying: "Seek the enemy of your enemy, and you shall find a friend."" Wrex said, extending his hand as humans do. Shepard smiled, and took Wrex's hand.

"I think we're going to get along just fine Wrex." he said,

"Well let's go. I'd hate to keep Fist waiting." Wrex replied.

"Kaidan, we'll handle this." Shepard said to Lt Alenko, "I want you to head back to the embassy, make sure Ash isn't losing her temper with the Ambassador."

"Aye, aye Commander." Kaidan said, as he saluted and walked away.


Shepard, Wrex and Garrus arrived at Chora's Den, and the usual beat of music was no longer present. The club had obviously shut up shop, but that wasn't going to stop them from entering to find Fist.

They approached the front door to find it still unlocked, Shepard drew his rifle and opened the door. Behind the door were about a dozen thugs and hired goons in defensive positions behind tables and the bar, with their guns trained on the front door. Shepard jammed the door open by ramming it with the butt of his rifle, and quickly turned to take cover just outside the bar. Garrus took cover on the other side of the door but Wrex with his strong biotic barrier and heavy armour marched in killing the 2 thugs directly behind the bar with his shotgun, and throwing another across the bar with his biotics. The trio quickly realised that their opponents were by no means trained killers, as their shots frequently missed them by some margin. The only real threat was the krogan bouncer who had been hassling Wrex previously. He slowly advanced towards them, firing his shotgun in precise 2 second intervals, and throwing biotic warps at them.

Garrus realised he was the biggest threat to them and he trained his rifle on the brute's legs, slowing him down and causing him to stumble. This was all the signal Shepard needed to aim for his chest, splitting his armour open with one volley of his chemically enhanced rounds, the second volley tearing through the krogan's thick armour-like skin, dissolving everything inside him, sending him crashing to the floor with a massive thud.

The other thugs dropped like flies to the groups highly honed combat skills. Shepard a Commander in the Alliance Navy, his years of fighting and being in battle making him a perfect killer; Garrus, who spent 5 years in the Turian Military through their version of National Service and years as a crack C-Sec officer and marksman hitting the target with every shot and Wrex - at well over 800 years old, he'd seen more combat that Shepard and Garrus combined, multiplied by 10, battle and fighting was like breathing for him.

After dispensing with the hired muscle, they made their way through to the bar's back rooms, where Fist would no doubt be hiding. They were right.

As they entered Fist's office, he was waiting for them, fully armoured with 2 automatic turrets by the walls. He didn't wait to ask questions, he opened fire on them immediately, as did his turrets. The turrets were slow however, and couldn't keep up with the 3 moving around the office, they concentrated their fire on the turrets, as Fist wasn't much of a better shot than his welcoming committee.

After they'd destroyed his turrets, they all fired on Fist, incapacitating him without killing him - he fell in seconds. They approached him as he held his hands up, wiping the blood from his mouth as he did so. He was injured for sure, but not fatally so.

"Wait! Don't kill me! I surrender!" Fist said with a wimper. Shepard drew his pistol and aimed it at Fists face.

"Then you'd better tell me where the quarian is." Shepard demanded.

"I don't know where she is, that's the truth!" Fist replied,

"He's no use to you now," Wrex said, cocking his shotgun, "Let me kill him."

"Wait! Wait!" Fist shouted, "Okay, I may not know where she is now exactly, but I know where you can find her."

"You'd better be straight with us." Shepard said,

"The quarian came to me with information, looking for protection. Said she'd only deal with the Shadow Broker himself." Fist explained,

"Impossible." Wrex interjected, "Even I was hired through an agent."

"She didn't know that, I told her I'd set a meeting up. But it'll be Saren's men waiting for her. She should be there now." Fist said,

Shepard stormed towards Fist, shoving his gun in his face.

"Tell me where the meeting is before I blow your lying head off!" Shepard said, Fist stepped back and started to stumble over his words, before saying,

"The meeting is here in the wards, down a back alley near the club. She should be there now, if you hurry you should be able to get to her."

That was all the information they needed, and Wrex knew it. He pulled up his shotgun and shot Fist from only feet away, killing him instantly.

"What are you doing!?" Garrus shouted, his C-Sec training kicking in to not kill unarmed felons.

"The Shadow Broker paid me to kill him. I don't leave jobs half done." Wrex said coolly.

"A lot of people died because of him." Shepard said, "He had it coming."

The trio knew time was of the essence now and quickly made their way out of the office back into the main bar. Unfortunately for them, reinforcements had arrived at the bar, these gunmen much better shots than the previous bunch of thugs - these were most likely Saren's men as opposed to Fists.

Shepard knew that they had to cut through them quickly, as he made his way to cover he could feel his adrenaline implants kicking in. Making him more focussed, as though time had slowed down. A rage inside him kicked in as he heard some of them laughing at him, clearly underestimating his skills as a trained killer.

Shepard broke cover and ran for the nearest gunman, cutting him down with a couple of bullets to the skull, the next 2 gunmen rose from cover to find Shepard already on top of them, hitting them both with his rifle before shooting them as they lay on the floor, knocked down by the brute force of the marine. While Shepard was making his way through the thugs on one side of the bar, Garrus and Wrex made their way through the other side, running and gunning, taking down Saren's men with a mixture of gunfire, biotics and Garrus's tech abilities - overloading their shields with a ranged electronic pulse, and sabotaging their weapons with a quick flick from his Omni-Tool. Omni-Tools were widely used by everyone in society, usually as a means to communicate and interact with computers, however in the armed forces, merc groups and the law, they could also be used to devastating effect as weapons in their own right.

After cutting through the small platoon that was waiting for them, they ran from the bar, towards the ward back alley, where the "meeting" between the quarian and Saren's men was taking place. They ran into the alley to see the quarian being leered at by the turian who conducting their discussion.

"Did you bring it?" the turian said, as he walked up to the quarian, looking her shapely body.

"Where's the Shadow Broker? Where's Fist?" the quarian said with obvious anxiety. And naivety. She was young, even through her environmental suit, you could tell she was quite young - probably in her late teens. As she spoke, Shepards sub-dermal translator, translated her voice into a softly spoken Russian accent. The turian she was speaking to stroked her head covering and down her arm.

"They'll be here. Where's the evidence." the turian said, as the quarian brushed him off.

"No way. The deal's off." the young quarian said. The turian stepped back, and nodded to the 2 salarians who were hanging back from the two of them. They acknowledged this and drew their pistols, as they did, the quarian turned to see them, and threw a concealed grenade at them, sending them hurtling to the floor.

Shepard, Wrex and Garrus ran on towards them opening fire on the turian and his salarian comrades. Garrus used his sabotage skill on the 2 salarians, causing their pistols to backfire, exploding in their hands - Wrex then finished them off with a shotgun blast each.

The turian was tougher however, and had already put his shields up before the trio arrived. He actually caused Shepard to pause for breath, but not for long. He crouched behind a large bin, swapping his automatic rifle for a sniper. He knew where the assassin was at the other end of the alley, and took a deep breath. He waited for a pause in fire to break cover and look down his sights, within a couple of seconds he had the turian assassin perfectly lined up. One sharp pull of his trigger, and the turian's skull split wide open.

The air settled, as Shepard, Garrus and Wrex holstered their weapons. They approached the quarian, who was clearly grateful for their timely appearance.

"Fist set me up!" the quarian stated, "I knew I couldn't trust him!"

"I'm Commander Shepard with the Alliance. I'm looking for evidence to prove Saren's a traitor." Shepard said, dispensing with pleasantries.

"I have something that might help you, but what about Fist?" the quarian asked,

"We've taken care of Fist." Shepard said, putting inflection on the right words to imply that he was dead.

"Then I guess I have a chance to repay you for 2 things then. But not here. We need to go somewhere safe." the quarian said,

"Shepard, we should take her to your human embassy. She'll be safe there and your Ambassador will want to see this anyway." Garrus suggested.

"Come on, let's go." Shepard said, as they left the Ward and went back to the Human Embassy in the Presidium.


Shepard, Garrus, Wrex and the Quarian entered the Human Embassy. Ambassador Udina was waiting for them, and was clearly angry at Shepard for what he had been doing.

"You're not making my life easy Shepard. Firefights in the wards? An all-out assault on Chora's Den? Do you know how many-", Udina stopped mid sentence as he turned to see Shepards new associates, he was particularly startled by the presence of the quarian. Udina, like many others, held quarians in very low regard. "Who's this?" he asked, gesturing towards the quarian, "A quarian? What are you up to Shepard?"

"You wanted evidence that Saren is a traitor. She can help." Shepard said,

"I apologise. Could you please start at the beginning, Miss...?" Udina asked the quarian.

"My name is Tali. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya." Tali said,

"We don't see many quarians here. Why did you leave the Flotilla?" Udina asked, his ambassadorial ways kicking in with polite conversation.

"I'm on my Pilgrimage. My rite of passage into adulthood." Tali replied, happy to explain. "It's a tradition among my people. When we reach maturity, we leave the ships of our parents and our people behind. Alone, we search the stars, only returning to the Flotilla once we have discovered something of value. In this way, we prove ourselves worthy of adulthood."

"What kind of things do you look for?" Shepard asked, clearly intrigued. He had never really thought about the traditions and customs of the other races. Always keeping them at arms length usually.

"It could be resources like food or fuel. Or some type of useful technology. Or even knowledge that will make life easier on the flotilla. Through our Pilgrimage, we prove that we will contribute to the community, rather than being a burden on our limited resources." Tali explained.

"What kind of evidence did you find?" Shepard asked.

"During my travels I began hearing reports of geth. Since they drove my people into exile, the geth have never ventured beyond the Veil. I was curious." Tali explained, "I tracked a patrol of geth to an uncharted world. I waited for one to become separated from its unit. Then I disabled it and removed its memory core."

"I thought the geth fried their memory core when they died. Some kind of defence mechanism." Captain Anderson queried,

"What did you find?" Shepard asked,

"Most of the memory core was wiped, but I managed to salvage something from its audio banks." Tali said, as she activated her omni-tool, a familiar voice started to speak.

Eden Prime was a major victory.The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.

"That's Saren's voice! This proves he's a traitor!" Anderson said, almost giddy at the thought he had been found out. "The Conduit must be some kind of prothean a weapon!"

"Wait, there's more on here." Tali said and she played the recording again.

Saren: Eden Prime was a major victory.The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.

Second Voice: And one step closer to the return of the Reapers.

"I don't recognise that second voice. The one talking about Reapers." Udina said. Shepard looked slightly uneasy,

"Reapers, I feel like I've heard that name somewhere before..." he said.

"From what I salvaged from the geth memory core, the Reapers were a hyper-advanced machine race who appeared 50,000 years ago. They hunted the protheans to total extinction and then least that's what the geth believe." Tali explained,

"Sound's a little far-fetched to me." Udina said, immediately dismissing the idea.

"It's not far-fetched." Shepard said, "The vision on Eden Prime. I think I understand it now. I saw the protheans being wiped out by Reapers."

"The geth revere the Reapers as gods - the pinnacle of non-organic life. And they believe Saren knows how to bring the Reapers back." Tali elaborated further.

"The Council's just going to love this." Udina said sarcastically.

"The Reapers are a threat to every species in Citadel space. We have to tell them!" Shepard said,

"No matter what the Council thinks of the rest of this, they have to see that this proves that Saren is a traitor." Anderson stepped in,

"The captain's right. We need to present this to the Council right away." Udina said,

"What about her? The quarian." Wrex asked,

"My name is Tali." she said, "Shepard, you saw me in that alley. You've seen what I can do. Let me come with you."

"I thought you were on your Pilgramage?" Shepard asked,

"The Pilgrimage proves that we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good. What would it say about me if I turned my back on this." Tali said, showing wisdom beyond her years, "Saren is a threat to the entire galaxy - my Pilgrimage can wait."

"Anderson and I will get things set up with the Council. Take a few minutes to collect yourself and meet us in the Tower." Udina said, as he left the Embassy with Captain Anderson.

Garrus left as well, in order to report back to C-Sec, and Shepard told Ash and Kaidan to report to the Normandy. Shepard decided to take Wrex and Tali to the Citadel Tower, for the showing of the new evidence against Saren. Wrex was keen to stay with Shepard, he knew things were just beginning and Tali was determined to see her evidence put to good use.


Bit of a long one this. But I'm absolutely loving writing this. I just hope some people are enjoying reading it.


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation - Chapter 6

This Story Is Just Beginning

As Shepard and the others walked through Chora's Den towards Harkin, they passed 2 krogan in a slight stand-off, one was clearly a bouncer to the back rooms as was smaller than the other krogan; the other krogan looked as though he'd seen little but battle in his life.

"Fist told us to take you down if you showed up." the bouncer said pointing his finger in the others face.

"What are you waiting for?" the bigger krogan said, clearly un-fazed by the threat, "I'm standing right here. This is Fist's only chance, if he's smart he'll take it." 

"He's not coming out Wrex." the bouncer said to the bigger krogan, now known as Wrex, "End of story."

Wrex leaned forward towards the bouncer, before saying, 

"This story is just beginning."

Wrex then turned and walked away past Shepard, Ash and Kaidan who had witnessed the whole thing and had to step aside to let the brute through.

"Out of my way human, I have no quarrel with you." Wrex said as he headed for the exit.

"What was that about?" Kaidan asked, bemused at the whole thing,

"Who knows," Ash replied, "Let's just try not to get caught up in the middle."

Shepard and the others finally approached Harkin after the side-show of the 2 krogan standing off against each other. Harkin saw the trio walking towards him from above the rim of his latest finished drink.

"Alliance Military! *hmph* I coulda been a marine you know?" Harkin said slightly slurred, "Instead I chose to join goddamn Citadel Security...biggest mistake of my life." Shepard decided to cut to the chase,

"I'm looking for a C-Sec investigator called Garrus, do you know where I can find him?" Shepard asked,

"Looking for Garrus huh?" Harkin replied with a wry grin, "You must be one of Anderson's crew, poor bastard still trying to bring Saren down... Yeah I know where Garrus is, but you gotta tell me something first. Did the Captain let you in on his big secret?"

"Just tell me where Garrus is before this gets ugly." Shepard said sternly,

"But it's all related don't you see? The captain used to be a Spectre." Harkin said with his wry grin unchanged, "Didn't know that did you? It was all very hush-hush. The first human ever given that honour. And then he blew it. Screwed up his mission so bad they kicked him out. Of course, he blames Saren - says the turian set him up." "

"Why should I believe a drunk like you?" Shepard asked scowling,

"Fine, whatever. Ask Anderson, I bet he tells you. Too proud and stupid to lie to your face." Harkin grumbled back,

"Just tell me where Garrus went." Shepard said sighing,

"Garrus was sniffing round Dr Michel's office. She runs the med clinic on the other side of the wards. Last I heard, he was going back there."

"I'm outta here." Shepard said as he performed a slight hand signal for the others to head for the exit.

They left Chora's Den and walked back through the markets that led them to the bar. Walking past the large viewing platforms that showed some of the massive vessels that patrolled and where coming in and out of dock, including the Destiny Ascension that they passed on their way into the Citadel. Ash and Kaidan talked between each other about Harkin's comments, culminating in Kaidan's view that Harkin's "an ass."

They quickly found Dr Michel's clinic, and entered to find several thugs intimidating her, but also Garrus sneaking up behind a small wall. One of the thugs shoved his gun in her face and said,

"Now, if Garrus comes around, you stay smart. Keep your mouth shut or we'll..." he stopped talking as he saw Shepard enter the clinic, Dr Michel turned to face Shepard and was grabbed from behind around her neck by the thug who shouted "Who are you!?" at Shepard raising his gun. Shepard drew his assault rifle and demanded the thug let the doctor go. As he did, Garrus broke cover turning to face the thugs and raising his gun in one swift movement, shooting his pistol hitting the thug holding Dr Michel through his right eye, killing him instantly and letting the doctor run for cover behind Garrus.

Shepard, Ash and Kaidan took the initiative in the slight pause in action due to the shocked thugs seeing their bosses brains on the wall in the blink of an eye, and they opened fire on the 4 remaining thugs killing 2 of them in the initial surge of gunfire. The last 2 hid at the back of the clinic, but kept shooting from behind a storage cabinet. Shepard, Ash and Kaidan felt secure enough to stand out of cover, the thugs shooting was wildly inaccurate and even if any of their shots hit their intended targets, they would barely scratch their shields or barriers. Garrus kept behind cover, ensuring the safety of Dr Michel, occasionally taking shots that would skim past his target.

Shepard saw his chance, the 2 thugs were standing either side of a fire containment system. With one shot from his assault rifle, the containment system exploded killing the 2 criminals behind their cover. Garrus stood with Dr Michel, the doctor brushing down her jacket and wiping her eyes of the involuntary tears that were building up from the ordeal. Garrus holstered his weapon and excitedly remarked,

"Perfect timing Shepard, gave me a clear shot at that bastard."

"You took him down clean." Shepard said, clearly impressed with the turian's skill with a gun. Garrus looked slightly coy, used to being slapped on the wrist for taking a risk like that.

"Sometimes you get lucky." he said, "Dr Michel, are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine thank you. Thank all of you." she said in her sultry French accent.

"Who were they? Do you know who they were working for?" Shepard asked,

"They were Fist's goons, he sent them to stop me from talking about the quarian." she replied, now composed. The quarians were the race who created the geth that Shepard encountered on Eden Prime, though initially created as a kind of slave race, the geth rebelled and drove the quarians from their homeworld of Rannoch and their other settlements over 200 years ago. Since then, the quarians have existed living within their Flotilla, the largest single fleet of ships in the known galaxy - housing their entire race. Due to the quarians extremely weak immune systems, finding new worlds to colonise is next to impossible hence why they have remained in the Flotilla for generations - seeing quarians outside the Flotilla is rare enough to raise eyebrows, but common enough for people to have prejudices against them, seeing them as vagrants and petty criminals when in places like the Citadel.

"Does this have anything to do with the investigation into Saren?" Shepard asked,

"I think it might: Dr Michel." Garrus replied, and cued the doctor to continue.

"A few days ago, a quarian came into my office. She'd been shot, puncturing her envrio-suit. She wouldn't tell me who did it, but she was obviously scared and I could tell she was on the run." Dr Michel explained, "She asked me about the Shadow Broker. She wanted to trade information in exchange for a safe place to hide."

"Where is she now?" Shepard probed,

"I put her in contact with Fist. He's an agent for the Shadow Broker." Dr Michel said,

"Not anymore." Garrus added, "Now he works for Saren, and the Shadow Broker isn't too happy about it."

"Fist betrayed the Shadow Broker? That's stupid even for him, Saren must have made him some offer." Dr Michel said,

"That quarian must have something Saren wants. Something worth crossing the Shadow Broker for." Garrus concluded,

"She must have some kind of evidence that proves Saren is a traitor!" Shepard added, "Did the quarian mention anything about Saren or the geth?" he asked Dr Michel.

"She did! The information she was going to trade. She said it had something to do with the geth." Dr Michel exclaimed,

"She must be able to link Saren to the geth." Garrus said before getting more animated, "There's no way the Council can ignore this!"

"Looks like it's time we paid Fist a visit." Shepard said with a smile,

"This is your show, Shepard. But I want to bring Saren down as much as you do. I'm coming with you!" Garrus demanded,

"Why do you want to bring him down? He's a turian like you." Shepard said,

"I couldn't find the evidence I needed in my investigation, but I knew what was really going on. Saren is a traitor of the Council and a disgrace to my people!" Garrus said with candour.

"Welcome aboard Garrus." Shepard said, seeing the obvious use of the turian stood in front of him.

"You know, we're not the only ones after Fist. The Shadow Broker hired a krogan bounty hunter named Wrex to take him out." Garrus said,

"Yeah. We saw him in the bar." Ash said,

"A krogan mercenary could come in handy," Shepard said, "Any idea where we can find him now?"

"Fist accused him of making threats so we brought him into the C-Sec Academy for a little talk, if we hurry we can get him before he leaves." Garrus said,

"Let's move out people. Ash, head back to the embassy, update the Captain and the Ambassador on our progress. Garrus, we'll need your help at the C-Sec Academy with Wrex. Come with us." Shepard said,

"Of course Shepard. I don't want to miss this." Garrus said as they all left Dr Michel's clinic.


Slight delay because of the Christmas and New Year leave from work, and then going back to work. And now there is going to be another hiatus while I leave for a course for the next 2 weeks.

Just so you know, Shepard is a constantly evolving character in these serialisations - although the initial premise is to make him an alien hating renegade, he's a more complex fellow than that. In my eyes, yes he is a brutal soldier who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, but also he appreciates and forms good friendships with those around him (the people like Ash and Kadian for example, and now even Garrus). Professionally he might be a hard-ass, willing to commit borderline murder to get the job done, who has a dislike for the other races - but on a personal basis, and individually, he's alright. He treats his subordinates fairly, but will crack the whip when he needs to.

Shepard has a good eye for people and if you have talent and skills that he can make use of or if you genuinely seem a decent person he'll treat you well, but if you're someone who could annoy or get under his feet - you wont see the warmer, Paragon side of Shepard. But the man is now going to be less full on Renegade (prefer doing that when I'm not stopping and starting the game for this labour of love), but more of a Renegon...or Paragade. Whatever. 

This serialisation might take a while to complete, as you can see it's taken 6 chapters (6 evenings) to only get this far into the game/story - to be fair though I'll be skipping the absolute majority of side-missions in these and concentrating on the main plot, which is why you wont see Shepards involvment in the hanar/C-Sec officer dispute on the Presidium in these serialisations for example.

Anyway, happy hunting mother funkies.