Mass Effect: Parallel Realities
Cerberus agents discovered a rift in space in the Armstrong Cluster, in the Hydra system. It was a recently developed phenomenon. The rift emitted bursts of various forms of energy and radiation and a blinding, bright white light that radiated from its center. Cerberus scientists had probes to analyze the mass before they learned that the rift was a stabilized wormhole. Despite existing for hundreds of years, neither Asari, Turian or Salarian race were able to find a stabilized wormhole. Humanity, specifically Cerberus, was the first.
Cerberus sent a probe through the wormhole to investigate what was on the other side. What they found excited them beyond comprehension. Not only did the wormhole lead to somewhere safely, but it led to a whole other universe. The probe recorded and transmitted footage of a shipyard outside of the rift. The probe was immediately found by the local aliens and taken in. The aliens examined the mysterious probe and used it to communicate with the Cerberus agents.
This was a discovery bigger than the Mars Ruins discovery. Interaction with the parallel universe was dubbed Project Mirror by the Illusive Man. Understanding humanity's languages was simple for the races of the mirror galaxy. The aliens used nanotechnology that allowed them to download the entire languages of humanity directly into their minds allowing them to speak the languages as oppose to using a translator.
After a month of communication, Cerberus sent agents through the rift to study the alien races and their technology in hopes of advancing Humanity. The alternate universe's galaxy had six different races: Rak'en (Raak-in), Praetorin (Pray-tor-in), Tia'Zu (Tee-a-zuh), Rasitian (Ra-si-sh-ion), Exion (Ex-ion), and Artician (Ar-ti-sh-ion).
Rak'en were an insect race. They had six limbs. Two pairs acted as legs and a pair as arms. They had wings, but could only fly short distances. Praetorins were a humanoid race of reptiles. They were roughly seven feet tall on average and had long slender arms and claws. They had a long slender tail that could be cracked like a whip. Tia'Zus were similar to Turians in that they were armored creatures. They were bipedal and carnivorous with steely sharp teeth and large crimson eyes with slit pupils that made them look like a monster out of an old sci-fi movie. Despite their appearance, they were very civil beings.
Rasitians looked similar to humans. They had similar male/female physical differences. The truer differences were the hands, ears and head. They had three fingers and one thumb on their hands. They did not have protruding noses. Instead they had two small slits that acted as their nostrils and they had four eyes. Their ears were similar to Asari in that there was no external ear structure, but just an ear hole. A membrane came out from the back of their head. The females had a longer membrane that made it look like an imitation of a woman's long hair. The males had shorter membrane.
The Exions were a more unusual race. They are not organic. They were a synthetic race that was created by the Articians over a thousand years ago. It was by accident, but the Exions were born and became a member of the galactic community. The Exions reminded the Cerberus scientists of the Geth that the Quarians created. Both similar situations, but different ways the creators reacted to their creation. Made them wonder what would have happened if the Quarians allowed the Geth to exist. They would have been kicked out of the Presidium, but they would have had a powerful ally.
The Articians were the most interesting of the races. They looked human. Not just similar to humans, they looked exactly like humans. Their physical structures, skin colour, their eyes, noses, hands, arms, everything. All exactly human. Despite looking exactly like humans physically, they were different on many levels. The average artician was at least five times stronger than the average human.
Each artician had natural biotics that surpassed even Asari Matriarchs. What surprised the scientists was that this galaxy did not use Eezo for space travel. Meaning no one could be born with biotics from eezo-exposure in-utero. Articians evolved dark energy manipulating nodes naturally. Something articians share with Asari is that they are also able to mind meld, but it acts on a different, and a far more advance, level than an Asari mind meld.
Asari mind melds transmit sensations, emotions and, on a smaller scale, memories between parties. Articians are able to pull another into their mind and interact with them in their own minds. The scientists didn't even believe the ability until one of the articians asked for his consent to mind meld with him. In the several seconds they were connected, the Cerberus scientist was guided through several years of that person's life.
Their DNA was different as well. It was in a constant state of flux that made it neither levo-rotational or dextro-rotational. It was able to imitate genetic structures of other races. It could even imitate human DNA. Perfectly.
Artician intelligence level was far greater than that of a human. They also matured at a different rate than that of a human. While they both reach puberty around age twelve and true physical adulthood at eighteen, articians are mentally mature at age five. Meaning that a five year can have the same intelligence and mannerisms of a fifty year old or older among humans.
Articians are the most respected race in the galaxy. Tia'Zus and Rak'ens owe their advancement to them. The Galactic Order (their version of the Council) was started by the articians tens of thousands of years ago.
Their galaxy didn't see war or the gangs, mercenaries or pirates that the Council's galaxy saw. Because of the lack of threats, they didn't have any weapons, such as fire arms or ship ordinance.
It almost seemed like a utopia society. Not to say that there was absolutely no crime in the galaxy.
The Cerberus agents were welcomed into the galaxy and were allowed to examine their technology.
They tried their best to monitor the agent's use and examination of their technology, but the Cerberus agents were crafty. In secret they started their own projects and experiments. One of which was on the medical nanobots the races used to heal their wounds and cure their illnesses. They rushed at modifying the medical nanobots to be used on humans. In their criminal haste they created a glitch that eventually became a virus.
This virus spread to the network which corrupted every sample of medical nanobots in the galaxy. The virus caused the nanobots to shut down organs and mutate the brain, allowing the mind to live. Aggression was radically increased and the subject would attack others which spread the nanobots to other hosts.
Zombies. That was what one of the Cerberus agents called them. The concept was from their sci-fi movies. Creatures that are dead but alive at the same time.
The plague-ridden were killing tens of millions, eventually turning to billions. The death toll betrayed no evidence of slowing. Family and friends eating each other. This was hell.
Once the galaxy discovered what the agents have done, they tried hunting them down. Some of the scientists managed to escape through the rift; some were killed by their own creations. Some went into hiding. The galaxy was falling apart and there was little hope for their future.
The plague threw the galaxy into disarray. There were no weapons for any race to use against the undead. A person rose up during the chaos to bring about order. His name was John Shepard: An artician and Tiven'vian. He was only 5 when he took charge among the panic. Through his strategies, forces on different worlds were able to start fighting back against the plague-ridden. His forces started building weapons to improve their efficiency at the killing the plague-ridden. Things they once used were easily converted to powerful weaponry. Lasers, particle beams... During his mission, his forces were able to locate, capture and interrogate the missing Cerberus operatives. They put him in touch with their leader: The Illusive Man.
Shepard spoke to him through a small holographic communicator. The Illusive Man was not allowed to know his true name, just like the Illusive Man wouldn't reveal his. Shepard simply went by "The Commander." The Illusive Man showed the same remorse as the other agents. The accident was tragic, but his focus was on acquiring technology to improve humanity's standing in his galaxy. The suffering Shepard's galaxy was going through did not faze him a bit. Not his galaxy, not his race, not his problem. That was the end of the conversation. That was all Shepard was given to explain why so many had to die. Why his entire specie is extinct. He was the last of his kind and that was all he was given.
The war against the Plague-ridden lasted for five years before Shepard's army was finally able to reach the facility where the network operated from. The area was completely infested which was why it took them so long to reach the actual facility. The war ended when Shepard and his forces entered the facility and shut down the medical nanobot network. It's shut down killed every plague-ridden across the galaxy.
His actions earned commendations and medals from leaders all around the galaxy. Every race, except his own, survived. He was given the rank Supreme Commander of the Order of the Galactic Guardians. The galaxy immediately focused on rebuilding, researching and creating weapons for the fight they knew was coming over the horizon.
Supreme Commander John Shepard walked into the Galactic Order's Chamber. There were the leaders of the races. Each of them stood behind podiums. It was ironic that such a young child would have such a great impact amongst the galaxy.
Shepard placed his right fist over his heart and bowed his head. "Good evening," he greeted.
"Welcome, Commander," the Tia'Zu leader replied. "It is an honor to have you here before us. We are sorry for the loss of your race."
"Thank you, Minister."
"I assume you know why you are here," the Exion leader chirped in.
"The Cerberus threat."
"Yes. They have committed great evils against our galaxy. Against your people. And they cannot be allowed to escape justice."
"I agree. They cannot be allowed to get away with what they've done and who knows how long it'll be until they try something else. Only a small group of operatives were able to cause a galactic Armageddon."
"And we need to know more about their organization," the Rak'en leader added. "Shepard you're a Tiven'vian, but you've only been through a couple of trials. The Trial of Awakening. The Trial of Inferno. The Trial of Fortitude. You still have several more Trials to go through. That means..."
"That means that the plague wasn't the cataclysm."
"Yes. It was a trial for something much worse to come. It could very well be Cerberus. So we need someone to go through the rift and find out about them. We realize that there is no race on the other side that looks like any of us, except for you. We could create a specific body for an Exion infiltrator, but that could take time... We thought that you would like to personally oversee this."
"That I would, Minister. I'll go through and find out what I can."
"Thank you, Commander. After everything you've done, we well... Owe you everything. We have been setting up a ship for you to take into their galaxy. The ship will be destroyed once you arrive at a human colony leaving no salvageable trace of it. From there your mission starts. You are given full reins in this mission. Find out everything you can about Cerberus and whether or not we are facing a group or a race."
"I won't fail."
Three Year Later...
Psychologist: Dr. David V. Allen
Subject: Shepard, John
Birth Date: 4.11.2154 (according to subject)
John arrived three years ago on Mindoir in a ship crash. The vessel was so utterly destroyed after crashing that its origin or construction could not be attained. Shepard's body was found a small distance away from the crash, unconscious. It was miraculous that he survived the crash. He was taken to the local hospital where he was treated for, surprisingly, minor injuries and burns.
While he was unconscious, the doctors did a DNA test to find out where he was from. The tests were inconclusive. It was like he doesn't exist. The only insights into his origins came from John. After John woke up and recovered, he was question by me in order to know where he came from.
According to him, he was a child soldier who only recently escaped his captors, a mercenary group he did not know the name to. The story seemed preposterous until I saw Shepard's capabilities. He was extremely strong, able to lift a several hundred pounds effortlessly. Shepard also had powerful Biotic abilities, despite the absence of a biotic implant. I would even go as far to say that it surpasses some Asari, and I have a feeling he's holding back. There is no way a natural ten year old (at the time of the first interview) could have these abilities. With this in mind I have come to the theory that John Shepard was a scientific experiment to create a super soldier. His captors were the ones who turned him into what he is.
I asked him how many he's killed during his time as a child soldier and he replied in a neutral tone that he doesn't know the exact number. I followed up by asking him if he felt guilty over taking so many lives. John looked me in the eyes before he replied, "I have never harmed an innocent in my life. The lives I took were that of other evil men and women. To feel guilty for taking their lives is an insult to the many innocent victims who were harmed by them." His eyes were that of a tired soldier and not that of a child.
For a while I was concerned he might be a psychopath after being so casual about taking a life. Later interviews with him proved otherwise. He displayed a level of maturity that is virtually unknown for someone his age. It took a while for his words to truly reach me. He wasn't casual about taking a life. Shepard merely did not feel guilty over the death of murderers. My later interviews proved that he did value life and had a wide range of emotions that is unknown for psychopaths.
Shepard was still kept in observation until I deemed him sane and fit to operate in society. This proved not very long. Another fear I had is he might be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after what he's been through in his life.
Again interviews with him said differently. He was surprisingly well adjusted for someone who has gone through what he has. After a month, I deemed him fit to function in society. A lonely farming couple, Matthew Jackson and Jessica Jackson, offered to take him under their roof.
I visited the couple a week later to see how John was adjusting to his new life. They were more than enthused about him. Shepard took it upon himself to do every job and chore at their farm without being asked. Due to his super-human abilities, the tasks were effortless to him and increased the family's production at the farm by several folds.
John was enrolled in the local school a few days after I spoke with his legal guardians. I checked in with his teachers after a month to find out about his progress. Despite not having any prior education, Shepard display genius intellect. He understands every language, and his writings were that of someone much older. Despite his academic success, his teachers have mentioned that Shepard has mostly isolated himself from the other students, very rarely interacting with them outside of asking them for directions around the school.
I have been contacted by the principal about a month and a half after his enrollment; there was a situation out on the school yard. Several well known school bullies approached Shepard and demanded payment to not "beat him up". John refused to pay them one credit. This resulted in the leader of the three to throw the first punch. According to eye witnesses out in the school yard, Shepard redirected the punch causing the bully to fall face first into the ground. The other two attempted to fight Shepard only to face the same treatment.
The bullies kept this practice up (with no success) only to have Shepard redirected their attacks. Eventually a teacher came to the scene to take the four to the principal's office. The bullies claimed Shepard instigated the fight, whereas Shepard told his side of the story. Students around the school yard intervened on Shepard's behalf. The three were suspended for several days.
Over the course of three years, Shepard's emotions have become more positive. Still he maintains the same anti-social behaviour at his school. Though an odd new development with him: He's volunteered at a recently opened Quarian shelter. From observations I've seen him with more social behaviour with the Quarians than with the kids at his school. He's even befriended a young Quarian girl at the shelter by the name of Tali'Zorah nar Rayya.
I will continue my observation on John Shepard.
Suggested theory for behaviour change:
It's possible that he has resentment towards his own race. The mercenary group and/or scientists, who tortured him, were likely exclusively humans, and that the only thing he's ever experienced from humans was pain and suffering. He may find the aliens more accommodating, less likely to abuse him.
The Systems Alliance has been really pushing towards having access to Shepard. Word got out about his abilities (both physical and biotic), and now they want their scientists to examine him and even push him towards joining. I would find these actions to be counter-productive towards Shepard's readjustment towards a normal life. His grades have remained at a steady high, which would give Shepard the opportunity to become a scientist or even an engineer. This of course just makes the Alliance more desperate to have him among their ranks.