A/N: Totally redoing this. For science. Just like shirtless Garrus.
The TWO things I will mention about me before this starts up is this: I am female, and more than old enough to drink in the USA. I've learned my lesson on showing, not telling. Thanks Atreyu429. :) And thank him in your reviews, it's due to his honest criticism that I finally woke up and decided to redo this as it SHOULD have been done in the first fucking place. He's also my Beta for this, so yeah, kiss his ass if you like the new, very much improved version. :P lol... Mordinette is also my beta(as well as a spectacular writer), she helped catch many of the past/present-tense issues that I ALWAYS miss, so thanks to her for her wonderful help!
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, Bioware owns it. I make no money from this, blah, blah, blah.
Stuff it, Bioware! The end of ME3 SUCKED! Fix it! Ok, I'm done. :D
I am exhausted.
I've been up for three days, writing fan fiction for Mass Effect romances, as has become my normal activity of late. I keep falling asleep on my futon out on the porch, iPod in hand, a half-finished chapter scrawled out in the note program. I decide to admit defeat when I wake up sweating, the mid-morning sun blazing through the windows at me, cooking my body as I lay on the black futon mattress.
I wearily get up and head inside, a cold blast of air conditioning hitting me as I open the door, as if I have just walked into an arctic tundra. I fan my shirt, drawing the cold air in beneath it and along my upper body, providing a cooling ecstasy to my overheated skin.
I close the door and head into the bedroom, stopping at my desk to check my email for the fiftieth time that day, and finding no new messages for once. Freaky. Guess the world finally realized it's time for me to sleep. I take my glasses off and lay them on the desk, before stripping down to nakedness so I can finally crawl into bed. I adjust the pillows and blanket until my nest meets my approval, and I flop down, letting sleep find me as quickly as it can.
I soon find myself in the realm of dreams, strange monsters chasing me, always escaping from them just as they're about to get a hold of me. It's a commonly recurring dream for me, there's always something out to get me, as if I were someone important.
It has always seemed a little odd to me, considering my life so far has been far from eventful. I've never felt as if it were really me being chased in the dream; rather, it was some part of me I couldn't identify, couldn't reach. Despite being constantly chased in these dreams, I somehow managed to sleep quite well during them; as if my spirit felt right being chased. I allow myself to settle into the dream, such a familiar place, though the faces are always different, always strange and alien to me.
My normal nightmare suddenly shifts, and the view changes to the very realistic sight of me, laying in my bed, asleep. I blink and look down at my body, 'this is... New. I don't think I've ever dreamed this before.' I look around, noticing nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the fact that I'm watching myself. Outside of myself. Panic starts to wind its icy fingers around my mind as my thoughts spin out of control. 'Am I dead? No. NO! I have so much more to do! My life hasn't even started yet!' I watch my resting body and the panic suddenly stops. I see myself breathing.
'Wait, not dead? Then, what is this?' I look down at... Well, myself, from this new perspective, and note that I am but a wisp of my former self, a glowing, ethereal form of my normal body. Realization slowly dawns on me as to what's going on. 'I'm... in the spirit world? But why? If I'm not dead, there's no reason for me to be here.' I look back up at my body with confusion lining my... Spirit's face. A light rustling sound behind me catches my attention, and I whirl in an about face to find the source.
A woman with glowingly white skin, dressed in a long, flowing, sleeveless dress smiles at me. She's the most gorgeous sight I've ever laid eyes on, more glorious than the hottest woman I've ever seen. As I look closer, I notice that she's not... Quite... Human. She has an amazing quality to her, as if she was the original, the blueprint for every possible race that could exist, while still maintaining a stunning beauty that I doubt anyone else in the universe could possess. I know if I live through whatever this new state of being is, my view of what beauty is would be forever jaded by this one memory.
Her voice - or rather voices, for she has many feminine voices that come together to form her one - as she finally speaks is like velvet and flowing waters, coursing together in an almost flanging effect to make a sound that my spirit thrills to; sending a surge of energy through me that would've no doubt lit my previous body on fire, had I still occupied it. "Welcome, child. I am here to guide you to your new life. You have a destiny far greater than your old body could provide for you. I will answer some of the questions you may have, but we must make haste. Your new life awaits."
She looks and sounds like every interpretation of a Goddess that I've ever heard of, all put into one form. I stare at her, trying to process her words as my spirit revels in her presence. As I finally absorb what she's saying, my mind clears, coming into focus, and replaying her statement; trying to comprehend the scope of her intentions. I shake my overwhelmed ethereal head as I slowly find my own voice. "New life?" I finally manage.
Her smile broadens and she nods encouragingly at me. "Yes, your new life. You have been chosen to represent a people you are already very familiar with, in a universe you have studied every detail of over the past few years. The life you have led so far was merely a holding place; a bookmark, if you will, until the time was right to put your soul in its true body, and let you fulfill your real life's purpose."
The shock that courses through me as I take in her words is palpable, tinging the air around me with a thick haze of confusion and uncertainty. As I focus once more, the most important question in my little universe comes to the front of my mind, and I blurt it out without thinking, "Who are you?"
Her smile grows into a light laugh as the air around us fills with her mirth, lights dancing around us in a happy little jig. The scene is so surreal that I'm overcome by the sheer force of it, and join in on her laughter. "I know you probably get asked that a lot, but I'd like to know, if it's all the same" I say, as I finally calm myself enough to speak clearly.
She nods, and replies with an airy tone, "Yes, I have heard that question many times. I've had several names, but the two you would know the best are Destiny, and Fate. Many have sought me, but few are fortunate enough to garner my personal touch. That you have been chosen is a great honor, and should not be taken lightly." her tone becomes more serious as she speaks, and the full gravity of the situation I face begins to sink in at last.
I am shocked, to say the least; stunned that Fate herself has intervened so suddenly in my life, of all lives. My life has been... Tumultuous, at best. I've grown up in a middle class military family, moving from place to place, very few friends, most of whom I've lost touch with... Nothing special. Then, when I was twelve, everything changed. I was forced to grow up very quickly, and my growth, both mentally and physically, was stunted until much later in life, when I finally worked through some of the issues I'd had forced upon me.
From the time I was twelve, until this... This event, life has been one disappointment after another. Nobody could be this unlucky in life, could they? Yes, of course they could; there were far worse cases than mine in this world, but there has been many times that I'd felt otherwise. This... This would change everything. Fate is standing before me, looking kindly on this poor, lost soul; gone astray like a dog that has been abandoned on the roadside. My dreams has always hinted that I am more than my life told me I was. This is my chance to prove it, and I desperately want to grab it and hold onto it like the lifeline I know it is.
I look at Fate, and take a step towards her as I speak, "Where am I going? Who are these people you talked about, this universe I'm supposed to have been studying? I don't remember reading any books about another culture recently."
She laughs again at my words, and I grin at the shift in the air as it comes this time, marveling at the sight. "You will know it when you see it, child. All will be revealed soon. We must go now, the time for your new life to begin has come" she smiles at me, offering her hand to me.
I take it, and my world, my life, everything I have known, is left behind me; remembered, but no longer needed.
I wake suddenly, as I always do, all senses snapping into action, though my eyes are still firmly clamped shut; unwilling to admit to myself that yet another of my strange sleep cycles has ended. I lay there for several minutes like this, letting my body wake up fully, flexing my muscles one by one to get the blood flowing in them enough to get up and start another day. My mind races through the vision I saw just before waking... 'It must've just been a dream, after all. Well fuck.' Disappointed, I sigh, turning over as I always do; and am promptly met with a brief falling sensation, followed quickly by the floor.
This is my first indication that something is different, as I normally sleep in a queen sized bed, well to the side that is pushed against a wall. I should have had more than enough room to roll over and stretch some more. Groaning from the impact with the floor, I snap my eyes open, and try to focus them, blinking away the film that covered them as I slept.
I look around, bleary-eyed, as bewilderment quickly creeps its way into my features. I'm on my back, next to a cot which is shoved haphazardly against a wall, as if recently put there. I look around the room, and am met by the sight of a small concrete bedroom, a far larger bed than the cot I've fallen out of with furs on it the main central feature of the room. The walls are crudely decorated with what appear to be trophies from some alien source, but my eyes are still too blurred to see them clearly.
There is a large metal door, and a pair of horizontal slits in the tops of each wall that must serve as windows and light sources during daylight hours. As my eyes continue to clear and take in my surroundings, I see the only two things that look remotely familiar to me: a weapon rack full of guns, and a neon orange armor locker. I blink hard at this sight, trying to clear my eyes so I'm sure I'm not hallucinating. But there it sits, dimly glowing against the wall it's attached to.
Panic fills my mind as I take a few deep breaths, trying to stop the onset of hyperventilation. 'Oh. My. Gods. It wasn't a dream. Holy SHIT! Where am I? Why was I on a cot? Why am I on the floor? What the HELL is going on here?' I take in my surroundings again, trying to rationalize this sudden shift of location.
'She said it would be a different life, a different place, a different people, universe, everything... Wait. Wait just a fucking second.' I look at the armor locker and gun rack with a bit more focus, trying to concentrate on the look of the weapons on the rack, specifically. 'No fucking way. This is impossible. This is NOT! POSSIBLE!'
I recognize the guns with a great sense of dread, unmistakable in their design as weapons from the Mass Effect universe. My heart is racing a mile a minute as I look around the room again, trying to piece the rest of my location together. My eyes are drawn to a very familiar sight on one of the walls: a trophy plaque with a krogan skull on it. The dull red crest of the skull overshadows the empty eye sockets below it, staring down at me and striking fear in my heart, just as it was meant to.
I finally manage to rip my gaze away from the frightening sight, though I can still feel those empty sockets boring into the top of my skull as I lay there, eyes closed, trying desperately to keep myself from going into shock. 'It's ok, it's ok,' I think to myself, 'I've just been transported across Gods know how many light years, not to mention... Years... Oh Gods... How many years? What the hell, Fate? That's some preparation you gave me, oh, "you'll know it when you see it"! Sure! Yeah! I'll know the fucking MASS EFFECT UNIVERSE when I'm randomly dropped into it like a fucking meteor out of nowhere! THANKS for that really epic prep talk!'
My eyes pop open, anger taking away any threat of shock as I stare at the ceiling, imagining I'm boring a hole through it with my glare alone.
I decide it's high time I got up off the floor to properly investigate this... Place I've been transported to, but as I reach my hand up to the side of the cot to grip it for assistance in rising, I freeze. My hand is much... Larger than I remember. And I have three fingers. Three talon-tipped fingers. My eyes widen with shock at the sight, and I move my hand in front of my face, turning it over several times and marveling at it, my eyes widening with dread at my discovery.
I dare to let my eyes wander to what I can see of the rest of my body, and the first thing I notice is my feet. My very large, three toed, taloned feet. I flex them experimentally, and find them to be surprisingly flexible. I stare, aghast at my six toes wiggling around like the alien appendages they are, my mind reeling with uncertainty at the shitstorm of information it's trying to process.
I run my right hand along my bare stomach, noting that my skin is leathery to the touch, and as my eyes travel to where my hand lay, I see my skin is the color of the dirt in the town I lived in, in my apparently previous life - a vibrant red with subtle earth tones. I cautiously bring my hands to my face, feeling the strong jaw, wide mouth, deep-set eyes, which I nearly poke with a talon as I feel my way up my face, and just above my eyes I feel... Ridges. Hardened leather, similar in formation to... Shock floods my mind as I realize what my hands are feeling... My ridges are similar to Grunt's undeveloped head ridges from Mass Effect 2; hard, but separated. I can't ignore the evidence, just like I can't ignore that I'm not in my room, or my own universe, anymore.
"I'm... A krogan." I murmur to myself. My voice is deeper, richer somehow. Not masculine, but it's definitely not the voice I'm used to. It's both soothing and dangerous at the same time, making my stomachs do a few flip-flops each. Yes, stomachs. Yet another change to deal with. "What the fuck?! A krogan?" I say, a little louder and more indignantly this time, testing my vocal range. It unnerves me even more as I hear my new voice a second time.
I'd expected maybe I would be a human that played some important role in this... Apparently very real universe, but a krogan? 'What the fuck? I mean, I figure this is Tuchanka, just from the room decorations, but actually being a krogan myself?' I can't wrap my brain around it. I shake my head, trying to make sense of this mess.
I look around once more, and realize that I need to get up off the floor. As much as I might want to lay here and wallow in my self pity and shock, I very much doubt this universe would allow me that luxury for long.
I try to stand up, gripping the cot for support, but the feet are beyond awkward. I try to get them under me enough to just stand straight up, but I only manage to fall on my ass. "OW!" I grimace in pain as I manage to flatten my tail - 'A tail? Why the fuck do krogans need tails again?' - under me, forcing me to shift off of it, and placing me in an awkward position to try to stand from. "Well fuck. Now what?" I huff, embarrassment and frustration making my skin itch as I try to figure this shit out. I decide to try a different tactic, and roll over on my stomach. I lift my upper body in a pushup, and slowly bring my oddly jointed legs under me. I push up, and finally manage to stand, almost losing my balance as I straighten a little too quickly, but catching myself just in time. Amazingly.
Finally satisfied that I wasn't going to topple over, yet... I notice another krogan in the room, and just about jump out of my skin, barely containing the very un-krogan-like squeak that almost escapes me in my surprise. 'Wait a fucking second here'... I move closer to the other krogan, suddenly realizing what I'm looking at, as the other krogan mimics my movements exactly. I widen my view and notice the edges of the mirror, the image in the mirror nodding in understanding as I finally move closer to actually see what I look like.
And for once, the surprise isn't completely unnerving. Or, at least, not completely panic-inducing. I'm hardly an expert on krogan ideals of what constitutes an attractive female, but to my untrained eyes, I look beautiful. For a krogan, at least. 'Holy shit, I still can't believe this. I'm actually a fucking krogan.' I think, gaping at my reflection in the mirror like an idiot.
My ridges and scales are jet black, my eyes a vibrant emerald green, and I apparently have an unmarred hide, no scars to speak of. Not even a bond mark. 'So, I'm a single, good-looking (I think) krogan female. Well, could be worse. I could've ended up as a vorcha.' I think to myself, shuddering at that thought, and still staring into the mirror, trying to accept that this was real, and not just some extremely vivid dream.
I pinch myself, though it doesn't have quite the same effect as it used to, my thick hide feeling very little of the pain. I pinch myself harder, bringing those glorious talons into full use, feeling it quite a bit more, even jumping a bit as my talons almost pierce my leathery skin. "Ow! These fuckers are sharp! Man..." I rub the spot I've pinched ruefully as I continue my narcissistic observance of myself in the mirror.
My clothing is minimal, but quite ornate; a black base with fine red stitching that weaves intricate patterns all through the garment. 'At least it matches my coloring', I thought, then shook my head. "Wow, I get transported to a different universe, and I'm thinking about matching my outfit. Really, Spyke, really?" I shake my head again and snort derisively, turning my attention back to the outfit. It's basically an elaborate bikini/mini sarong combination, covering my private zones and not a whole lot else. This is when I notice that I have tits. Large ones. I place my hands under them gingerly, lifting them up and feeling the weight of them, marveling at how both similar and alien they are to what I had before.
I peek under my top to find that the top part of my breasts each has a black patch of very hard leather, not quite hard enough to be plates, but thicker than the rest of my softer skin. I also have nipples, which actually surprises me a bit. 'Didn't think krogans would have much use for tits or nipples. Interesting.'
I turn to the side, trying to get a look at my back, and am oddly pleased to note that though I lack the characteristic male krogan hump across my shoulders - I actually grin at this discovery - , I do possess a lovely looking trail of shiny black plating that runs from the back of my head, down my spine, narrowing and coming to a fine point at the tip of my tail.
As my eyes are drawn to my tail, I'm suddenly struck with curiosity, deciding to investigate the range of movement in this new appendage, attempting to wag it like a dog, and finding that though it takes a bit of concentration, it is quite possible. I also note that it is a good bit longer than the male version, and seems to be mostly for balance, rather than the more canine activities I am currently engrossed by.
As my nose fully wakes up finally, I took a large whiff of the bedroom, and decide that it doesn't smell particularly wonderful, but I have a sneaking suspicion that these aren't my permanent quarters, so it doesn't really matter what it smells like. My eyes catch another glimpse of that damned krogan skull on the wall, and I cringe before looking away, still disturbed by the sight.
I decide I've had enough of this small room, and I open the big metal door a crack to peek outside. There's female krogan walking around everywhere, with an occasional male here and there escorting a female. 'Holy shit! I've gotta be on Tuchanka for this many females to be just walking around.' I close the door for a moment to contemplate this. I'm starting to wrap my brain around this whole thing, but it's really fucking hard, even with the overabundance of proof all around, just staring me in the face.
'I'm on Tuchanka. I'm a krogan. This is real. Fuck me running sideways with a chainsaw on a ten foot pole!' I shut my eyes tightly for a moment, taking in deep breaths, trying to find something close to calm-ish. I open my eyes and crack the door open again, peering out into the throng of krogans just walking around and going about their lives, as if that is a perfectly normal thing for them to be doing. 'Which is probably the case, considering I'm on fucking TUCHANKA! GAH!'
I shake my head, taking another deep breath, and look out of the cracked door in earnest. 'If I'm here, I need to do my thing, which happens to be people-watching. Or in this case, krogan-watching. Bleh.' Creepy skill to have? Probably. Really fucking useful skill to have? Definitely.
I notice that the younger looking females all have a similar outfit as mine on, though the older ones have more coverings. Or not. I notice a female that passes rather closely to the door in the heavier garb, and she looks very young. 'A bond mate thing then? Perhaps the more covering garments are worn after the female has a mate?' I shrug at the thought, no way to know for sure without asking someone, and I am nowhere near mentally prepared enough to do that just yet.
A thought occurs to me that might put this whole thing into a whole new level of bad. 'Oh shit. I don't speak krogan! Or even common! Ohhhh fuuuuck. Not good.' Is it possible I could get away with pretending to be mute and deaf? Otherwise any krogan I talked to would have me made as an imposter right away. I turn my head to the side, aiming my ear canal at the crack in the door as I try to catch snippets of conversation, hoping I might be able to understand some of the words that were being said. I finally hear a female talking with a male walking beside her, in perfect English. My brow flies up in surprise at this, totally unsure of how to interpret that.
I close the door again to ponder this new information. 'I... Suppose it makes... Sense? I'm a bleeding krogan now, after all. It stands to reason that a krogan would be able to speak and understand krogan... Right?' I think about it for a minute, but it doesn't make any more sense than an algebra equation to me, so I just shrug it off before I break my already frazzled brain trying to sort it out properly.
I crack the door again, looking out beyond the krogans milling around, noticing the landscape and architecture surrounding them for the first time. 'Man, Tuchanka really is as much of a shithole as the game portrays it to be.' There's nothing but sand, concrete buildings, and more sand, with some markings on the buildings that seem to indicate who lives there. The markings aren't writing, just patterns and colors in earth tones, mostly, with a few exceptions of more vibrant colors here and there. There's a few items scattered about, baskets and shovel-like objects, typical krogan camp style fare, as well as a few varren running around. And more sand. So much fucking sand.
All the buildings seem to be one-story, apparently krogans aren't big on heights. 'No wonder you don't see that many on the Citadel in the game, if that really is the case' I think absently. 'I think I'm finally starting to calm down and accept all this insane shit. Then again, it's probably just my brain finally snapping and going into shock.' I snort at this thought, shaking my head.
I don't have much time to consider it, as I notice a shorter male with plates the same color as my skin, and tan skin walking straight for the door I'm peeking through. 'FUCK! I'm not ready for this!' I quickly close the door, panicking, hoping he hasn't noticed, and run over to the cot, sitting down on it. I don't want to stand, thinking he might take it as a challenge, so I just sit there as he opens the door and enters the room.
'Shit shit shit!' He looks at me and raises his left brow. 'Fuck, he's looking at me! Aww fuck. Not ready!'
"About time you woke up. I've been checking back every two hours, you've been asleep for eighteen hours." He says gruffly, as he sits down on the corner of the large bed, facing me and looking at me with his orange eyes. He's looking at me as if he's expecting me to say something.
'Shit. Here goes nothing.' "I'm...sorry?" I shrug at him, not sure what it is he wants from me, especially with me in complete red alert panic mode.
He scoffs. "You show up at the edge of camp, pass out, we drag your ass in here and let you sleep the day away, and all you have to say is 'I'm sorry'?" He looks at me skeptically.
"We almost shot you as an intruder. You're lucky it was me guarding the perimeter and not Grunt. He would've shot you without a second thought. What's your name, female? What clan do you hail from?"
'Shit. SHIT shit shit. I've gotta tell him something, what though?' My mind races as I try to come up with a viable excuse. "Well, thank you for not shooting me. As to your other questions, I honestly don't remember. I don't have any memory here before I woke up." I'm using my very best poker face, hoping it translates well on a krogan face, and praying he buys the lie. I figure being as polite as possible is also a really good idea. It helps with the whole lying thing.
He raises his left brow at me, pausing for a moment. I'm pretty sure he's trying to figure out if I'm yanking his chain, and I keep my expression as neutral as a rock as I steadily look him in the eyes.
His face smooths out and he grunts. "Don't remember anything? Some kind of amnesia then? You did have a pretty big swollen welt on the back of your head when I examined you after we got you in here. Any idea who hit you, or did you forget that too?"
I shake my big head. "No idea. And you examined me? Are you a physician or something?" I ask, hoping I wasn't just man...er... Krogan-handled by some random person with no medical training.
He chuckles at my expression, my uncertainty and wariness must be showing more than I thought. Crap. "I'm the closest thing this camp has to one. When a krogan's been around as long as I have, and seen as many fights as I have, he tends to learn how to dress wounds pretty well." He puffs his chest out as my eyes trail away from his eyes and begin to take in his many scars, some of them deep enough to cut clean through his crest. This old boy has had a rough life. He grins at me when my eyes finish their appraisal and return to his.
He isn't my type, no matter how much I've inflated his ego with my observation of his scars. "I see. Well, if I may ask, where am I, exactly?" I raise my brow and lean forward with interest.
"Drunaan Camp, one of the many female camps for clan Urdnot. That's why we almost shot you, random krogans walking up to a female camp is not generally a good sign. Usually means an attack is coming. But after I examined you and found that knot on the back of your head, I figured you'd just been wandering around, dazed and confused."
I nod. "Good assumption. I really don't remember any of my life beyond waking up here, and a few snippets of things here and there that don't really help. Did you find anyone else besides me? Maybe I got separated from a group?" I ask, genuine curiosity winning out over the many reservations I'm having about talking to a living, breathing krogan.
He shakes his head. "No. We sent a couple scouts out, they didn't find anything. If you were a part of a group, they're long gone now. Though I have to say, everything about you is very... Neutral. You don't have any clan markings, even your clothing says nothing to help us figure out where you come from."
I blink at this. "Clan markings? And my clothing is supposed to mean something?" I can't hide the surprise and confusion on my face this time.
He looks at me, the expression on my face mirrored in his. "Damn. You really don't remember anything, do you?"
I shake my head and look down in what I hope approximates shame and sadness. He sits, watching me for a moment before deciding to act. He reaches over and hooks his claw gently under my chin, lifting my head. He sighs as I look at him. "We'll get this figured out, little one. Hell, Grunt didn't have a clan or anything to call his own either; he was tank-bred, and clan Urdnot welcomed him anyway. I'm sure we can take one more clanless into our ranks."
'Hey, this guy isn't so bad,' I think, 'maybe I can make it here. If I can avoid pissing off every krogan in existence along the way, that is.'
He tries to smile reassuringly at me, but his scars make it look more like a grimace. I give a small, hopeful smile in return. He pats my shoulder and stands, walking towards the door, then turns and seems to think for a moment before he speaks again. "Come on, we'll go to the main camp and talk to Clan Leader, maybe he'll have a solution for you." I nod and get up, following him out into the blistering Tuchanka sun.
We garner more than a few stares as we walk out of what is apparently his room. Actually, as I walk, it seems the stares are more directed at me than at him. Shit. I hate being stared at, it makes me feel so self-conscious. Grrr. I feel my plates itching in frustration, and look down, only to realize that I'm suddenly a deeper shade of red than what I saw in the mirror. 'Wait... Fuck, am I blushing?' The second the thought crosses my mind, I grow even more red. 'What the fuck? Krogan blushing is all over their whole freaking body? Seriously? Ahh man, this is gonna be painful.'
We finally reach the edge of town, and start onto the road to the main camp, and my destiny. 'Pfft, how ironic is that? Well, fuck it. Destiny, Fate, whatever you wanna be called, lead the way. May as well, you're runnin' this show.'