A/N: I'm writing a new A/N now with about four year's hindsight, just so people know what they're getting into.
This was my first story. I wrote it when I was 15 years old; you might not be too shocked to hear it has a lot of problems that I plan on eventually going back and changing. This is no longer a story I'm particularly happy with, but since it's canonical for the third and fourth instalments (which are significantly better in almost every discernible way), I'm leaving it up in its current state. Plus some people do still enjoy it.
Basically, just to address likely reviews; I'm aware of the issues, and they get gradually ironed out by MtM3 and 4.
Regardless, I hope you enjoy the story.
Obligatory disclaimers: Mass Effect, its characters, its setting, and all the other stuff in the Mass Effect universe is not owned by me. It's owned by the geniuses at BioWare. I also do not own any bands, companies, products etc. that I mention.
I'm sitting at home, staring at my laptop screen. Typical weekday night. iTunes is on, and I've got Circa Survive blaring through my headphones, Windows Live messenger is open, and my friend Dan on the chat is rambling on about the World Cup and England getting beaten. I sigh at that. Why is everyone so surprised we're out the World Cup? England have always been crap, yet ridiculously optimistic about the whole affair, then everyone acts shocked and appalled when we don't win for the eleventh time running. Football does my head in. I check back at the screen.
"I can't believe we drew with the USA in the first place mate! It's a bloody outrage!"
Dan always gets into his football far, far too much.
"Dan," I type back, "You realise I really don't give a shit about the football, right?"
Dan replies almost instantly.
"Yeah :) but it's funny to see you get worked up about it."
I let out a small laugh at that. "Lol, fair enough."
I wait for a bit, but there's no reply. I haven't really left much room for him to work with there, but I'm tired and really can't be arsed with the conversation for much longer. Might just finish this track then log off…
The messenger sound pings again, and, shockingly, it's Dan again.
"Mate, just heard about this CRAZY shit on the internet. Apparently some guy said 'Bloody Mary' three times into his mirror. Then this Mary lass came up behind him and fucking murdered the guy! And if I don't tell ten people about it in twenty four hours, she's gonna get me too!"
Gullible bastard. "Where'd you hear this?"
"Someone sent it to my email address. I don't know who!"
"It's a chain mail."
"Chain mail. Some idiot sends a message to people telling them they're going to die if they don't pass the message on, and the people do pass the message on, until the mail passes around the globe. It's just some moron trying to freak people out."
"I'm not risking it man! I'm sending it to everyone I know!"
I shake my head in a mixture of disbelief and amusement. People get so worked about nothing. Which leads my thoughts back to football again. Damn.
"Suit yourself bro."
"We'll see who's laughing when you're dead!"
Shit, that's pretty sinister. Not the best way to sign off on a conversation. Oh well.
"Yeah, I'm sure we will. See you later."
I sign out without giving him the chance to reply. Dan's a good guy, but he can grate on the nerves occasionally. Which reminds me, I'm supposed to be going to the cinema to see the new Iron Man film with him and some other mates this weekend. He'll have probably forgotten about the whole thing by then. I'm just going to watch some TV, then go to bed. I've got university tomorrow, and that law degree isn't going to earn itself, unfortunately. Then training down at the track after that…yeah, better rest up.
It's 11PM, according to the clock by my sink, and I'm brushing my teeth, staring at my reflection. British TV really is rubbish these days. All there was on offer was some reality TV thing about eating habits, a documentary about meerkats, local news, or a bad comedy show that's convinced it's hilarious. I decided to watch some of the first series of Chuck off my DVD collection. It's depressing that to see the best shows I have to import them from America. It didn't really matter what I was watching anyway, the entire time I was thinking about what Dan said, and I still am now. Bloody Mary three times, and someone kills you. Bullshit. I can't believe I'm even thinking about this. It's my paranoid instinct kicking in. Damn you, survival horror games! A mixture of playing the Resident Evil remake and Silent Hill has made me paranoid beyond belief. After Resident Evil 4, I think every fridge I walk past is going to have a guy on fire inside it trying to kill me.
I spit the mixture of toothpaste and saliva down the sink, it swirls down and through the plughole in a spiralling motion. I toy with the idea of playing Silent Hill now that I've reminded myself about it, but decide against it. It's dark, I'm alone in my flat, and I'm up to that creepy bit in the carnival. Better not, or I'll be having nightmares all night of bunnies with knives. I take one last look in the mirror, same tired face staring back at me like the all the other times I've checked in the last five minutes. 'Go to bed, Ian' it seems to be saying. 'You're a bloody mess.' I sigh and do just that. When your reflection appears to be talking to you, you probably need some rest.
Fifteen minutes later, and I'm standing in front of the mirror again. It's not Silent Hill keeping me awake now, I'm thinking about what Dan said about Bloody Mary. Again. Damn paranoia is keeping me awake now. Fantastic. I stare at my reflection again, searching for some change in my appearance from the other dozen times of checking. Nothing. Screw it, I'm not going to sleep with these thoughts hanging over my head. May as well just try it, humour myself and get some bizarre sense of closure on the whole thing. I stick the new Pendulum album on my speakers to try and keep me awake. Drum and bass tends to have that effect when it's at full volume. I start to talk to the mirror.
This sounds so ridiculous. Probably looks it to. Good thing I live alone.
Well, nothing's happened so far. And why am I expecting anything to? God, so fucking paranoid!
Again, nothing happens. It's just me, the bathroom and my reflection. I let out the breath I didn't even realise I was holding in. Shit, that was intense. I start to pull away from the mirror, but my eyes are suddenly drawn towards a small speck in the top left of it. I squint, and it looks like a small red bead. Huh, that's weird…wait, now its running down the mirror…there's no way that can be blood, right? I'm starting to feel light headed, and seeing blood doesn't normally do that me. Something is going horribly wrong here, and I'm getting pretty freaked out. Suddenly, the lights dim slightly, and I find myself staring back at my reflection in the mirror, head pounding and the remnants of light swimming. Then, I see a hand reach over my shoulder, and grasp it tightly, the nails digging into my skin. What the hell? No fucking way, this is not happening…I try to pull away from the sink and the mirror, but I'm stuck! I physically can't move! No, no, no, no…then, her head appears over my shoulder. The blue skin, the tentacle like things on the back of her head…no way. Bloody Mary is an asari! I'm tripping out, this has got to be a nightmare! She's staring right into my eyes now, small, evil grin etched upon her face. Her eyes start to go really weird, and her grip on me tightens. Wait a minute, her eyes going weird, she's trying to meld with me! I desperately attempt to break eye contact, but our eyes are locked together, and she's opening her mouth to say the last two words I want to hear.
There's a flash, and suddenly it feels like I'm floating, a disembodied viewer on the scene stretching out before me. It's the insides of some great machine, and the head splitting sound being emitted around me is almost unbearable. There's some figure standing, but hunched over in pain…then it's back to the machine, its maw opening wide. More mechanical parts, a glimpse of some bug-like thing, pictures of DNA strands, a human figure standing alone against a shout of anger from the machine as a gigantic explosion lights up the world... then more figures of some different race, hugging each other as the world collapses around them…then back to the machine, then to a another person falling to the ground on some vast battlefield, a synthetic roar of triumph raging through my ears as the galaxy expands before my eyes and stars explode around me…
And then nothing but inky blackness, as unconsciousness finally takes me.
There's little images flickering before my eyes. Small pictures of machines, cries of fear ringing in my ears…I sit bolt upright, clutching my ears and throwing my eyes wide open. The sight that hits me is unbelievable.
Arms of some superstructure stretch far, far into the distance, the small lights on them like stars from where I'm sitting. Whitewashed floors and walls either side of me…there's no way this can be real. I'm dreaming. This whole fucked up thing has been a dream. Soon I'm gonna wake up, it's like that bit at the start of Silent Hill 3 where Heather dies, then wakes up in the shopping mall…no asari trying to get inside my head, no cataclysmic vision, no futuristic cities in space…I close my eyes tight shut for a few seconds, then open them again. Nothing has changed. I'm still on the Citadel, light-years away from my home planet. I've got visions running through my minds and screams in my ears, and, for the first time in my life, I'm completely lost, alone and afraid.
I slump against the wall, put my head into my hands, and try to figure out what the fuck I've just got myself into.
After the calming experience of going through the emotions of fear, denial, disbelief and eventual acceptance in the space of around five minutes, I've finally managed to sort myself out enough to get myself together and consider my situation. From what I can tell, I've been abducted, killed, in some way transported here by an asari, who was somehow on Earth in the year 2010. Also, I've been given a Prothean vision eerily like the one Shepard receives on Eden Prime, but I know I've been given something more…if only I could work out what. Finally, I'm now on what appears to be the Citadel, lost, with no money and completely unprepared for what I'm going to find. Dan said we'd see who was laughing, and I hate to admit he was right. If I ever get out this situation, I'm resolving to pay more attention to chain mail. You're a Nigerian banker struggling to get money out of your country? No problem, let me give you my bank details, just don't send me 170 years into the freakin' future! I wonder if this is how Bill Murray's character felt when he woke up in the same day for the first time in Groundhog Day, except with more swearing, trauma and less hilarious consequences. I poke my head around the corner of the corridor, just to check this is really the Mass Effect universe, not some other alternative universe. A turian looks at me, probably surprised to see a random human staring at him. The scene unfolds before me, salarians, turians, humans, even a hanar are walking, or in the hanar's case, floating around the area. I duck back behind the corner, and finally realise the full gravity of the situation.
Houston, we DEFINITELY have a problem.