Thursday, 27 February 2014

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.