Before we begin, a few things to help further the understanding of just what the Hel is going on in this story. It can get a bit confusing at times really – Not my fault, blame Roku!
First, as you can see in Italics below, the marine hasn't updated his journal since Virmire, which means that until Virmire, this story, when seen from his point of view, will be in 1st person. As the story progresses, more and more different pov's will be added, and as Virmire kicks off, the story switches to 3rd person. However, I am currently working on getting the entirety of this story made into pure 3rd person, because honestly, I wrote this thing, and some places still make me cringe.
Second. This story is rated "supernatual" for a reason. Aside from the usual 'got brought to Mass Effect by a divine being/spirit/God/aspect with gambling-issues, this version of the Mass Effect universe has a distinct feature that I have yet to see in any other fic, except for 'Avatar of Victory'. "Chi" is a very real, if largely unknown thing here. Chi is the driving force behind a lot of the rather supernatural events taking place later on, and will often be referred to as 'Breaking science". So events like bending of rock, metal and fire are caused by Chi.
As such, I apologize to anyone loving science among you readers: I'm going to end up earning my name.
Third, and last. This story brings in camoes and crossovers from multiple different universes, games and books, hence why it was unable to fit in the crossover section, as there was no setting for what happens in this one. I trust that you guys will recognize the characters created by other companies and the likes, so that I don't have to write down disclaimers for each and ever new chapter. Characters like Admiral Hackett and Lee Riley are obviously the products of BioWare, while hypotheticals like Isaac Clarke belong to...who did make the Dead Space games anyway? I can never remember the name...
This likely sounds like it's too far-fetched for a lot of people – though I have come to realize that we Fanfictioners can be a messed up bunch –, but if you decide to give this story a chance, you are in for one Hel of a ride.
How long has it been now, since all this started? Three years? I think that's it, yeah. I don't really remember the exact date when I arrived on Eden Prime, but… I remember how, and what happened then.
Funny, that I never thought something like could be possible, and here I am, three years later, pondering at the events that led to this… "new life" is a good way to describe it I guess. For some reason, I never really got back to doing this diary-thing after Virmire. I just… I think what happened there made me disregard the diary, and now I'm trying to remember what happened.
There are still days where I almost expect to wake up after a coma, find out that it was all a dream, that I never met the people I met, killed the people I killed, loved… loved the woman. I suppose it is all academic at this point, or…maybe it isn't. Fuck if I know, I didn't get a say on how things turned out.
Service Chief Thomas Vestergaard Fisker, Alliance Marines - 2186
A Host is Chosen
Life… wasn't all that bad, actually.
That is, his life had been pretty good until that one morning where the stopwatch on his bedside table decided it didn't want to work anymore, and as a result, Thomas Fisher woke up just two minutes before he was supposed to be at work. As a result, he had disregarded breakfast and most morning procedures and charged straight out the door.
As it was, he could still have made it to work, even if it would have meant arriving a few minutes later than he was supposed to.
The issue was, that between his apartment and his workplace, an old railway ran along the harbor. It supported limited traffic of freight-trains, a means of transport which was slowly being snuffed out by the capabilities of trucks on the highway. Had the train here actually been snuffed out, Thomas would most likely have made it to work.
However, as the train had not ceased its traffic, events instead transpired that lead him far beyond his wildest dreams.
And in his haste to get to work, Thomas missed the oncoming train…
As a result of that, he now found himself in complete darkness. There was nothing around him, below or above him. Everything was a complete, impenetrable blackness. His mind felt empty, devoid of immediate emotions. He could see everywhere, and yet, he could not see himself.
It was a strange, alien sensation of formlessness, and he did not like it.
"Well, that could have gone better"
He also did not like the new, inhumanely flanged voice echoing from everywhere around him.
"What the- where am I? Who is this?! He demanded, and found to his mounting horror that his voice came out just as flanged as the speaker, though nowhere near as bass. It was the sound of his own thoughts, something he had never heard before, yet it was as familiar to him as his own hands.
He once more, only this time really noticed that he could not feel nor see his hands, nor his feet legs or body. He was formless in truth, hovering in the void. This, he realized with sickening dread, could only mean one thing.
He was dead.
"Yes, you are. But this isn't necessarily the end"
If there was one single thing more terrifying than realizing his own demise, it was that not only was he still conscious and could think, but whomever was watching him, that entity could also read his mind.
"Who is this? How can you hear my thoughts?" he demanded, feeling panic taking over more and more of his mind.
So much of this was impossible, scientifically impossible, and yet…here he was. He was dead, and he couldn't even remember what had happened.
"Do you know the saying: "are we more than our thoughts?" Well, in this case, you are not."
"What happened to me?! Where is my body!? Where are you?!"
Where was he? He did not know this place, and to the core of his being hoped that it was not Hel. An eternity with the Daughter of Loki was not in his dreams, but rather his nightmares.
To make matters even more confusing, Thomas wasn't even devotedly Asatru.
"You are… somewhere in-between. You died back there, because of you own idio-"
"The fuck did you sa-" he yelled right back, frantic desperation taking over his mind.
"Do not interrupt me boy!" suddenly, it sounded like he was standing in a stadium, with all the speakers pointed at his ears from the meager distance of an arm's length. The voice sounded pissed.
"Are you… are you a god?" as scared as he was, Thomas could not help the question. It just came out the second he even contemplated it. He knew – hoped – it was not the case, but at the same time, he couldn't find any other reasons for the voice around him.
"God? No… there is no such… deity in this place. There is only me, and I would rather you refer to me, as You." Now the voice seemed to come from inside his own head, which only served to decrease Thomas' optimism in things turning out well. Not that he'd had much to begin with.
"Then... what am I doing here?"
"You are dead, what are you asking?"
Was this thing stupid? Thomas mean, why wasn't he in hell or somewhere else, like Heaven, Valhalla or, just to put it on the table, Sovngarde?
"No, I am not ignorant. And as to why you have not transcended, I am actually here to… give you a choice, so to speak."
"Okay… so why am I here?" he did not like the way the conversation was going, and a sensation of loss was somewhat slowly creeping though his mind. He felt disturbed to realize that he wasn't at all very bereft or shocked at the gruesome details he remembered of his own demise. Death by freight-train.
Not a good way to go.
"I just told you: To be given a choice"
Had Thomas possessed a hand at that point, he would have slapped himself in the face at this point. The situation repeatedly went between disastrously disturbing, and just plain weird. He sighed, or at least, his consciousness performed the motions usually connected to a sigh. Here, nothing happened.
No mouth, no lungs, no air.
"I mean… what are the choices?"
"Oh… was wondering when you would ask. The choices are rather… simple. You can return to life on Earth, however, as you were just hit by a train, you will spend the rest of your life there crippled in a way that will make Stephen Hawking look like Usain Bolt. He's still alive right? I haven't watched your TV in more than ten years."
"Yeah…He's still ali- wait a- are you watching TV?!" if anything, this was going from weird, to simply stupid. There was supposed to be reverence when faced with a godlike entity, but here? Thomas felt as if there was a very bad practical ongoing, and he was the butt of it.
"Sooooo… isn't this were you tell me about the other choices?"
"Arrhh just messing with ya. I haven't had a visitor in more than 72 years, so my humor may be a little… rusty."
What the… he's making jokes now? Then, if he's joking, I might not be-
"And yes, you ARE dead. Sorry to tell you, but that one wasn't a joke. Would you like to see?"
"See? Dafuq are you talking abo-" Thomas started but was cut off by turning everything into a panorama movie of the crossroads. There, flung through the air, was his bike; twisted and destroyed, across the railroad. There was a long track of blood across the tracks, and an arm lying a little to the left from the train itself. The driver of the train, a man in the late 40's judging from his appearance, had jumped out of the vehicle, and was on his knees by the arm.
Thomas felt a distinctly physical sinking sensation when he recognized the arm as his own. Several cars had stopped, and people from all around the road were pouring in to see just what had happened. Some were aghast, walking back and getting sick in the middle of the road. Some were just standing there, pointing and talking. Thomas saw one taking a picture – A PICTURE! With his cell phone, like this was some kind of entertainment. But most were scuttling around, looking for the rest… of him. Then the sirens started, and people in turn started pulling back, letting the paramedics through.
Not much they could do but try to collect the pieces. Then, the police arrived. Their headquarter was only two minutes of walk from the accident, so they were almost immediately on the scene, talking to the driver, asking the crowd what happened here. As the image faded out and the picture froze, just as one of the paramedics started to pull out something from under the train.
"Now… this is where you decide whether or not to return to life in a state of total invalidation. If yes, then the good doc will pull out paralyzed arm-and-legless body, only capable of looking around. If no, then you will see… what's the phrase? "Just how deep the rabbit-hole goes" I think it is."
"….. And by that you mean the other choices?" he asked, shaking from the still evident picture of his accident. I am not spending the rest of my life as a cripple.
"Well, one choice obviously is to just die and go to heaven. A lot of people choose that even before I've said what the third option is…"
"And what is this third option" Thomas asked the voice, hoping that it wasn't Hel.
There was a slight pause; something that he had by now come to understand as a sign of the voice considering how to say or put a certain word. It was frustrating that he was so utterly powerless to change his current situation, much less undo whatever mistake he had made that had ended him up…here. Or, was it there? Was it even anywhere?
"Well, the third option is a rebirth, in your current state that is. Not as a baby, and not in this dimension either… you will begin a new life in a new place. And when I say your current state, I mean the state you were in, before the accident. You will, however, be left with several scars and broken limps. But not invalid. And I think you will find that the people there are quite capable of healing that…I will also make sure your emotions will be somewhat curtailed initially, just to ensure you won't make a complete ass of yourself."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Humans, mortals in general, have a tendency to act on emotions that do not serve to further their own productivity." Thomas would have glared at the voice, had he possessed eyes; "In dying, and choosing anything but returning to Earth, you will never again see your family."
"No need to be a dick about it…Fuck...Shit!"
Thomas swallowed – at the very least, he felt as if he did – and briefly felt like throwing up. He hadn't been much in contact with his family since moving out, but still… he didn't like the idea of never seeing them again. Mom, Dad, his friends at home.
And yet, there was no guarantee he could ever again lead a normal life if he did choose to return. Crippled and unable to move, it was not a life worth living, regardless of the company.
"…And… how many have chosen C before?"
"Well, surprisingly few. Only about five or six people in the time that I've been here"
"And that is how long?"
"Only about two-hundred-and-ninety-one years, though I have existed since the Dawn of Time… My predecessor still holds the record of being in power for the longest time. He sent a guy from the Stone Age into the Roman times, and they called him "the Scourge of God". Pfftt, he was merely some caveman dressed in armor."
"Well, tha- are you saying that Attila the Hun was a caveman?" If anything, at least the voice was ensuring that Thomas was confused enough that his grief was halfway drowned in stupor.
"Oh right, that was his name. Always forget it. Anyway, I'm really hoping that you'll choose the last one, and then do something either terrible or great and noble. Because I am getting tired of him saying; "oh my crossover raided Europe, what have yours done so far?" Dammit, sometimes I hate that guy!"
"So, what have your people done?"
"...Well, I did bring back that dude Electric hammer-something from WWI… he could have been world famous for being the first man to fly… but noooo; He'd rather build bicycles. I had to do a little revisit on him to make him do his damn job. When he finally got it together, those stupid Americans had already been flying for some months. That was when I decided he could go F. himself."
"Wait, you created Ellehammer?!" as a Dane, Thomas had always been keen on making people aware of the genius that was Ellehammer, first European to fly, aside from hot-air balloons of course. The fact that the Wright Brothers had beaten him to it, was something of a nuisance. As such, Thomas' estimation of the Voice started rising just a little.
"No, I didn't create him; I just brought him back a couple of decades. Idiot was shot down by the Red Baron over Somme. So I thought he would like a second chance. Idiot."
Silence. Thomas was honestly unsure of what to reply to that. As such, he simply kept quiet, and waited for the Voice to proceed. It did, unsurprisingly, not take long.
"So, have you made up your mind? About the choices?"
"…So… is there a "turn back" button"? severity had to momentarily take a sidestep for simple curiosity, and the need to know.
"No. once you have made your choice, you can never turn back."
"…I don't like the two first ones. Life as a cripple will not be life at all, and I am not even Christian, so I dread to find what would await me in place of Heaven." Hel, most likely, or maybe 'Heaven' was simply where good people went regardless of faith.
"So, you choose rebirth?"
"…Yes" there was really no way around it now, was there? Rebirth was the only avenue he still retained, and as such, it would have to be the third option.
"In a completely random and unknown place?"
"…yes" was he scared? Yes. Of course he was scared, considering he was going to someplace utterly foreign, and without any saying as to where that would happen to be.
"Amongst completely unknown and random people?"
Now, he was getting slightly annoyed as well. Fright was one thing, but simple irritation was not what he needed on top of it.
"Yes, just… get it over with"
"Alright, well Thomas: Here is your life!"
A bright flash replaced the darkness, and Thomas found himself falling though empty air, feeling his own body refuse him in every – his own body. He had a body again! – way. Air whizzed past him, and a dark, grey sky loomed overhead.
Flashes of green zapped past him, racking his form with pain beyond what humans were supposedly capable of sensing, and he felt bones break in his body, and burns form wherever the unnatural bolts touched his skin. His clothes scorched and tore, and the tatters flew above him, dancing in the air whereas he simply fell like a stone.
Then he hit the dirt, and the feeling of crunching bones was accompanied by an all-encompassing darkness.
2183, July 27th
Eden Prime, Foothills.
"Well, guess we're having shitty weather again, huh?" Sergeant Donkey remarked upon the thunder as it rolled over the hills.
"Odd, there's not supposed to be a cloud on the skies." Gunnery Chief Ashley Madeline Williams noted, looking at the heavens as it stretched, seemingly unending, across the surface of the planet, dark with clouds.
Dog Squad was on patrol, securing the perimeter during the opening of a new dig site.
Apparently, the eggheads were sure they had found some sort of Prothean ruins beneath the soils of the colony, so now dozens of prefabs were being moved, either by shuttle or truck, to make room for the team of archeologists inbound from the Citadel.
The people from Arcturus had already arrived, and were the ones responsible for starting the digging. Ashley, personally, would rather they'd just dig the damn thing up and haul it away. Prothean tech meant trouble, no matter where or when one was.
"So, Ashley… are you doing something tonight?" Donkey asked, moving just a little closer to her, though he still kept his eyes mostly forward and focused. Still, he was walking behind her, and damn was he grateful to whomever had designed their armor. Forms were… better shown in armor like the Phoenix-class hardsuits the squad was wearing.
Dog Squad consisted of a dozen marines, half of them currently hiking through the hills while the rest were keeping guard back at the dig site. Eden Prime's garrison was roughly six regular 'Divisions' divided into 'Squads', of which Dog Squad was one, if the smallest.
"Apart from filing reports?" She asked, sarcasm heavy in her voice. She knew exactly what he was trying to do, and he knew she knew it, and everyone knew they both knew it. It was a standing joke among them, and really, none would prefer it any different. Dog Squad was Dog Squad. It wasn't up for debate.
"Yeah, I mean… don't you ever get bored? Like… all on your own?" He continued, speeding up his steps just a little. Ashley half-turned, rolling her eyes at him, something she made sure he saw.
"Nope, and I like the time I get to spend alone. It gives me time to think… Let me guess, you wanted to go to the bar?" She replied with a grin, knowing she had the man by the balls. Donkey missed a step, and nearly bumped into Private Hillary Pennyloafer, who was carrying her usual load-out of a H-Revenant-A rifle.
The young blonde chuckled and shoved Donkey in the side, further worsening his stumble.
"Well… maybe, I mean…" He stuttered. Ashley ginned, and sent the private a wink. They had been doing this for some time, taking turns to fluster the poor guy. Donkey bristled, and huffed, jogging ahead. He had the misfortune, however, of passing by one of their residing corporals;
"She got you there, Sergeant." Bolin Nadang noted over the private channel, smiling broadly when the sergeant turned to glare at him. Nadang was the newest addition to the unit, with only a few months of experience in the team. However, a new member, a rookie, was supposed to arrive later that day, which would mark the end of him being 'the FNG'.
He had been fairly verbal about his appreciation of that change.
"Damn, weather-gods sure are pissed off today." Hillary mused, walking backwards alongside the others. She was the 'that one person' on the squad, at times behaving like a child. Yet her place on the team was more than just that of comic relief. Of the entire squad, only Ashley had been through a harsher training regimen, though Hillary had come out all the cheerier.
Where there had been all blue and serene just minutes earlier, now was a huge gathering of black clouds, lighting emerging from the center with zapping sounds that offered reminisce of the newest version of 'War of the Worlds', only they were green, and the thunder that accompanied the flashes of celestial energy, was a constant and violent bass rumbling.
It made Ashley's teeth itch, though she refused to let it show.
"Oi, guys? Just… how often does lighting look… well, like that?" Norroty asked, pointing into the skies.
The rest of the squad followed his example, Ashley gritting her teeth in… she wasn't sure what she was feeling as she looked at the gathering of clouds spewing out emerald lighting.
There was a sense of foreboding, as if the storm signaled the arrival of… something.
Thomas was having the worst hangover he'd ever had. Memo to self: next time you make deal with the Grim Reaper-or-who-the-hell-that-was; bring something for a serious hangover.
His head felt like someone had filled it with hand grenades, detonated them all and then used his skull as a drum. It was like the worst of both worlds. He honestly could have listened to pieces of trash-metal, and not felt this bad.
And now, here he was, in a new life that was not his own. It was something he'd been given, a gift in favor of… something. There was no way this was free, he knew that much. Nothing ever was, and sooner or later, the price would be made clear.
As it was now, however, he was just relieved to realize that he was staring into a manmade ceiling, and that he could hear soft humming of obviously electric equipment nearby. He was around humans, or at least sentient beings.
"'Ma'am, I think patient's regaining consciousness."
A voice! And it was English! Thomas honestly wasn't sure if he should be relieved that he could understand whomever was speaking, or be disappointed at the British accent to it. it seemed as if the situation went from new, alien and – while frightening – interesting, to simply somewhat homey. Thank Frey though, I don't think I want to see if my Swahili is in order.
It never had been, so English suited him just fine.
However, when he attempted to move his head, he found it locked in place, restrained. There was something strapping his entire body onto the bed.
That, at least, was progress. He was on a bed, which meant wherever he was, his 'hosts' was civil enough that effort had been made to ensure some amount of comfort. This was a nice turn of events, as it meant his host was most likely human, as if the British accent hadn't given that much away already.
"Okay, I think we can undo the restraints around his head; let him look around for a bit." A woman said, cementing that they were, in fact, humans. Though it might have been interesting waking up to Tau medics, Thomas was honestly pleased that the speaker was human. I just wonder how the Hel I'm supposed to find out where I am…
He felt the restraints being lifted from his head, including a lot of screws coming loose and something that felt like plastic being removed from his forehead. When the last piece was removed by a gloved hand, he lifted his head a bit, and took a brief glance at his surroundings.
Currently, he was positioned in a medium sized room that seemed like an operation room in a hospital. There were odd machines and weird equipment lining the walls, and something that looked similar to a CT-scanner. There were six beds in there, all of them empty but for the one he was taking up.
The dominating color was a form of grayish white, common with hospitals and clinics alike. The entire place, on further inspection, looked like it was either very, very new, or simply not meant to be permanent. It seemed to be a prefabricated room, somehow, with walls joining in visible seams. Odd, but he knew from experience that the army often made use of prefabricated constructions. Was he in a military compound?
There were canisters of liquid lining the shelves, and some kind of laptop which he'd never seen before. The machine in mention stood on a table, next to a window showing the outside though a pane of clear glass.
Outside, Thomas could see trees and grass. Alright, so it was established that he was not in Hel, and he was not in Star Wars – considering that he had met a disembodied voice capable of sending him…wherever he now was, that wasn't all that far-out – and he was not in his old time, the design of the room and the equipment was too advanced for that.
The logical mind would suggest he had simply been comatose for a few years, and yet remained in Denmark, and yet…logical minds would have had to step aside for now, as it seemed the two doctors in the room – technically only one seemed dressed for the rank of 'doctor', while the younger woman seemed more likely to be her assistant – were waiting for him to accept their presence.
When he did so, the older woman stepped forward, a concerned, but pleasant smile on her expression;
"How are you feeling?"
"Gaarraupe hasa doooian heir?"
Seriously, had someone drugged him, date-raped him and… what did come after the date-rape? Most likely it would be filing a complaint to the police, but since he clearly was not in any capacity of doing just that…he really had no choice but to simply observe their reactions. I feel so…calm. Is this what the voice meant?
"Correct. Your emotions are being suppressed for the time being, enabling you a somewhat more clear perspective."
"Melissa, I thought I told you to take him off the drugs already. I mean listen to him." the older doctor, who Thomas would've guessed to be somewhere in the sixties, looked at her younger assistant with sort of an amused look. Called it, drugs... wait, 'take him off'?
"Yes ma'am, cutting off the supply now." As she spoke, the assistant moved over to his bedside and unhooked several tubes filled with strange liquids. Thomas didn't know if he wanted to know what they actually were. While his jaw and tongue were awakening, he took a closer look at his two hosts. Both were clad in some kind of bodysuit – medicinally oriented, clearly, but still foreign –, looking strangely familiar, but still very strange.
"Dank you… thank you." he moved his jaw a bit to get blood circulating again; "Not to… sound rude or something, but… would one of you care to tell me where- "
Then he saw it. The older doctor was holding a piece of electronic hardware. It was, however, not just any kind of hardware, far from it, at that... It looked like something he'd seen before... in a game, of all things. Generally, Thomas liked to keep up with technological developments, so he felt like he would have known, had this kind of hardware been made common use.
When his brain finally made up the puzzle – the strange room, the advanced equipment, the body-suit-like uniforms, and now the datapad in the doctor's hand – it felt like someone had smacked him with a hammer, appropriate headache accompanying.
He felt sick.
"Bu -Bucket!" he turned his head away from the two doctors, as a surging feeling, like a wave, rolled through his body. He then proceeded to paint the wall to his left, spewing out the contents of his stomach in a thick stream of painfully burning acid and…carrots?
"Ah. I did not foresee this reaction."
He simply kept going, throwing up more than he could even remember having eaten for the past weeks. It just kept coming, and there was no stopping it... when at last he must have emptied his entire body of anything not glued to the insides, he gasped for air. It tasted like his own puke, which was really not all that surprising, and for a brief second, the world was green. The women obviously were not used to this reaction to waking up, for which few rational beings could blame them. At the present, however, Thomas was hardly rational… He frankly didn't give a shit about being rational.
He had never felt this bad before, and it made his initial headache seem trivial and petty. Someone just kill me…
"Now that would be counter-productive"
Grief threatened to strangle him, and he felt every ounce of energy leave him. Closing his eyes, Thomas threw his head back on the pillow, uttered what came out as a mangled, hoarse cry, and was left unable to move at all. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks, and he wasn't even aware of it.
He was in the future. So far into the future, that any shreds of hope of ever seeing anyone he knew again, was long gone.
"…All of them... Mom, Dad, all my friends... they're all dead... now what?"
"You chose this. Now you must leave your old life behind."
"Shut up…just…just shut up." He wept. He wept for the life he had lost, for the family he would never see again, and for the friends who were now long dead; "I just…I don't…know how I'm going to just…accept this."
"I am sorry, if it means anything" the Voice offered solemnly.
"What do I do? I can't… I can't…" he wasn't even sure what was real anymore. Hs body felt like it was on fire and made of ice at the same time, and he more than anything else just wanted to take back his choices. He'd never meant this, never wanted this.
"Try to adjust to this new place. It is one you know well, after all."
"I can't… this is not real… this is not… it's not…" I wept until his eyes no longer held tears, not giving a shit that people could hear him talking to himself. They weren't real, they could just go fuck themselves, in his honest opinion.
"Yes? Is that your final answer?" I ask, my voice hoarse with grief and rage. I don't even care anymore, just wanting to take the rage and pour molten steel over that sarcastic, annoying and altogether unemotional bitch of a voice.
"You do know that both the doctor and her assistant can hear you, do you not?"
"Do I seem to care? No? Then fucking stop talking to me like this is all just fine and normal." He snarled, his face itching with dried tears and anger; "Why the fuck am I here? Is this some sort of sick joke?"
"I am not the one who wanted this for you Thomas." The Voice replied with the same, irritatingly solemn tone; "Please understand that I have only placed you here, in this time and location, because I believe you capable of carrying out great deeds."
"Fuck your deeds…"
"By the Master… Fine, you desire the truth? You will have it then. You died because you didn't pay attention to the train you knew was coming. So it's on you. I even gave you the choice of being reborn in your own world, but Nnnnooooooo, you wanted to face the final frontier." If anything, the Voice at last sounded like his last straw had been yanked out. Not that Thomas gave two shits about the feelings of a disembodied voice in his head: Had it lost friends, family and everything it knew?
No. No it hadn't. So it could go fuck itself.
"I heard that." The Voice growled, a feeling of dread entering Thomas' mind with its words; "Now you are here, so stop moping over things you cannot change, and as you humans say: Man the fuck up." A jolt of energy ran through his veins with those words, and another green flash enveloped his vision, only to fade away moments later; "Even if I have to pump you full of steroids, I will not have my first Host in nearly a century reducing himself to an emotional wreck before he has carried out anything great."
Thomas paused. His mind flooded, both with memories of his own life, and images not of his own. They were of death, destruction and chaos, the effects of the coming war. Fire, explosions, disaster, grief and despair roamed the visions, choking him with smoky sensations.
He realized, that he didn't have a choice. He wasn't going to get a second chance, and the only way he would make it, was to ensure that the Harvest never came to pass. Whether or not those were his own thoughts originally, he didn't know, but he knew it wasn't important.
What was important was that it was true.
"See? That wasn't so hard. Now, I'm going to tamper a bit with your nervous systems, giving you a shot of… let's just say I'm going to improve your resolve a bit"
"… Did you do?" Thomas blinked as the world came back into focus. He realized that he hadn't actually moved since the start of the mental conversation, and that the medical staff seemed to worry more than they should. He turned his head, looking at them argue.
"Me?! I didn't do anything! I just unhooked the damn tubes" The assistant retorted angrily, seemingly having been accused of being responsible for his mental collapse. Thomas honestly didn't know if he was supposed to care, interrupt or simply observe them. In the end, he chose the latter, as it demanded the least effort.
"Well, something made him lose it - and look at the heart rates! They're insane! It almost looks like he's having a stroke! Give him a sedative before we have to revive him… again." The older woman barked. Thomas didn't get a chance to change his mind concerning his involvement, as the assistant pumped fresh sedatives into his system.
"Alright, let's see. This should do it…" when he regained conscience, Thomas could see through his almost closed eyes. The assistant was moving in, holding… something. Wait, was that a… Oh fuck me!
"No! No! no! no no no no!" he would have jolted up in bed, if it wasn't because his left leg was still in plaster, as well as his body still being strapped in, and his entire system of innards being completely empty. In short, he wasn't going anywhere.
The assistant – Melissa was her name? – was standing at the ready with a huge syringe, looking like poking people was her favorite part of the job. Too bad he wasn't having any of that.
"Oh, you are awake, good" the doctor looked pleased. She did frown at the smell of his stomach's contents, however.
"There is no way in Hel you are sticking that thing in me!" he declared, gesturing towards the woman with the needle. He may not have been afraid of chitty chatting with Death, but needles?
Go. Fuck. Yourself.
It was strange, really, He'd once been hit by a car on the highway, and the scariest thing during that time, was when the doctor wanted to sedate him with a needle. Half the cliental in the waiting area left because Thomas' agonized screaming and fearful shouting made them think the doctor practiced woo-do and torture. The poor man actually received several messages later on, complaining about the treatment of patients.
The most embarrassing part was that that was only eight years ago; a fourteen-year old boy, screaming like a little girl because the doctor tried to give him a sedative. Really, he was still ashamed to this day.
"Of course not – not now when you're awake and calm. It was just in case you had another stroke" The doctor said, smiling like she had anticipated this exact reaction. Gods, do I ever hate hospitals…and doctors. And needles… and trigger-happy nurses.
"So, I can put this away?" the assistant asked while looking at her boss. It was disconcerting just how disappointed she looked.
"I…really don't mean to intrude or breach…something, but…I don't remember where I am." It was the truth, really. He knew the Voice – or whatever it really was – had placed him in the universe or time so created by the company of Bioware, but he had no idea of where or when, exactly. It had to be post-First Contact War, as the clothes looked too similar to what he remembered.
"You don't remember?" the doctor looked at him like he was the fragging' Messiah. He wanted to scream at her. Just fucking tell me!
"…No…Sorry, I'm just… really confused." Not to mention emotionally and mentally torn to shit, not that he could say that anyway.
"It's okay. After what you've been through, you can't exactly be expected to remember." She said, putting on a mother hen like expression.
"Oh and Melissa, would you see to get a drone in here to clean our patient's... waste from the floor?"
"Yes ma'am." the assistant left for a short moment, and then returned, whispering something in the doctor's ear. A moment later, a small robotic cleaner rolled across the floor, sucking up the yellowish vomit while scenting the air, removing the putrid smell of acid.
"…So…" I mutter, trying to massage the migraine from my head; "… what did happen?" This was probably where they told him how he was dropped from the sky, through some kind of wormhole. Not that he really gave a shit at the moment. Don't fucking judge me, I just became an orphan…
"To be honest, we don't really know. They found you under the monorail, with several broken bones, burns and a concussion, not to mention you were wearing some rather strange clothes." The older woman noted, holding up what looked like… wait, is that… my T-shirt?
That was when he looked down his own body, and froze. Aside from undergarments and socks, he was naked as the day he was born, only with more chest-hair.
"About the time we had the most wicked thunderstorm in years, alright. Hell, it even had the garrison nervous." Melissa commented, shrugging as she looked out the window. At least now there wasn't any thunderstorms, only a warm sun bathing the ground, with scents of pollen and pine trees wafting in through the open window. Still…
The monorail… could I be… no, but…Fuck, stop thinking like Mordin, this isn't a game…
"Funny choice of-"
"Shut it" Thomas snarled, putting as much malice as possible into the threat of imminent death… if only he knew how to kill the Voice. Okay… breathe…breathe… remember those yoga-classes… breathe… fuck, Linda would have my ass for poor execution of breath if she saw me now…
For some reason, the thought of his Yoga-teacher actually brought a small smile to his lips… then he remembered… she was now dead as well. The smile didn't stay, and his expression fell into one of simple resignation. He knew no one here, not anymore. Everyone he knew had long-since died, if he even was in the same dimension at this point.
He was almost certain as to his current time and place, and that would mean the game had never been made all those years back, which meant this was no longer his dimension. Shit, it was getting complicated.
"…Which country am I in, what city?... And what monorail, am I near the harbor?" he tried, taking deep breaths while attempting to calm himself enough down as to not faint again. It was not something he wanted repeated, especially because the nurse still had a syringe close on hand.
"I am sorry, you asked about it before but then I forgot to-" the doctor received a soft jab from her assistant, prompting something sounding like a snigger from the doorway across the room. Thomas blinked at the direction, but refocused at the doctor again. She and Mellissa seemed to have a good interaction… too bad, if she said Eden Prime, since then they were all going to die.
"You are on Eden Prime." Thomas didn't even bother repressing a groan, which it seemed the older woman didn't catch at all; "More specifically, you are currently in the St. Michel hospital, or simply the main medicinal facility"
So… that was it, then. Yay, we are all dead… again, in my case.
"…Eden Prime?... Are you saying that I am on Eden Prime, as in the colony world?" It would be rather nice if he was not on the planet destined to be attacked by Saren, thus kicking off whatever sick mission Shepard would be running through in 2183.
"Well, as far as I know, this is the only Eden Prime, world or otherwise" the doctor said with a smile, like she had just presented her grandchild with a home-knitted sweater. Thomas felt a shiver running down his spine, realizing that he had no idea when Saren would attack. He knew the year, however, so maybe he was lucky and they were currently in 2182.
"…What year is this?" he muttered, trying not to look at their faces; "A lot of things are a little…off, I just want to be sure."
"It's, august first, 2183. The monorail is our main connection to the various dig sites and the space port" The old doctor replied, idly tapping her chin with a finger as she spoke.
August 1. Dammit, they never mentioned what month it was in the game, meaning Thomas was completely blank as to how long he had until Saren reared his ugly mug. The Turian could land in a day, a week or even a month, and either would be a surprise.
"Well, Private, you seem to be in one piece... we might as well get you up." The doctor said – Thomas realized he didn't know her name -, stepping over to him as the small drone rolled away, an annoyingly merry tune coming from its… something.
"Okay I'll just… Private?" Why had she called him 'Private'? Far as he was aware, he hadn't even gotten around to enrolling in the Alliance at this point, considering he'd only just woken up…
"Well, that's what your files say. Private Thomas Fisker, 212th… You are Scandinavian, I take it?" she seemed amused, if anything.
"Oh… I just… Right, yes, of course" at this point, he might as well stop looking like he was clueless about the ongoings around him. If he was enrolled in the Alliance, he wasn't going to question good fortunes, regardless of how odd it was.
It also was not because he didn't want to end up saving the galaxy with Shepard. There was just the small detail that he was most likely going to get his ass killed before actually making any kinds of difference. If there was one thing the instructors had drilled into him back home – aside from always saluting your commanding officer – it was that war was hell. no glory, no heroics, just needless deaths.
The role of a good soldier was to make sure those deaths were suffered by the bad guys.
Fuck, I can just imagine it: "Alliance Marine, killed by pissing off Krogan Battle master"
Not really how he wanted to go… again. That, or a geth would just shoot him, or a merc would shoot him, or a Reaper would shoot him, or a Collector would shoot him… something would shoot him.
That was almost a guarantee…
"Good to see your memory working again." The doctor said, pulling out that eternal datapad; "Private First Class, Thomas Vestergaard Fisker, Unit 212, Dog Squad. Just have to get you some proper clothes first... The head-trauma does leave some worries though. Tell me, do you remember getting here?"
"Well… I… no, I don't actually… I don't remember much, to be honest." he muttered. Which was true: he really had no idea of how his body ended up here - this place wasn't even supposed to exist outside the screen of his pc. Thor help him, but this wasn't going to be easy on his mental stability.
"Ah, there we go. Yes, it seems you arrived here on the MSV Malcolm."
What. He'd gotten here on a ship? This was just getting weirder and weirder by the second. He wondered if that creepy voice arranged any of this…
"Why yes, of course I did. Couldn't just leave you here without a story."
If he weren't still strapped in, Thomas would now be clinging to the ceiling. The sudden appearances of the Voice were starting to really get on his nerves, It was not that the Voice was creepy, at all. It was rather human actually, akin to an old man, but still young or… shit, he didn't even know. It was like describing a new color: Difficult.
"Something wrong, dear?" The doctor seemed worried, and Thomas noticed beads of sweat rolling down his face, along with the beeping from the heart rate increasing in speed. Yep, near-heart attack…
Oh, if she only knew. It would probably earn him a sedative, then a strap jacket if Thomas told her 'Hey doctor, I hear voices, is that normal?'.
The entertainment-value would certainly be lost on her. Doctors didn't tend to have a lot of appreciation for that kind of things.
"No, no I am fine, just a… hiccup."
"Fuck's sake, what are you doing here? I thought it was one chat, then out off your way?"
"Oh I'm afraid not. See, it is my job to watch over you for at least two days after you regain conscience, to evaluate your progression and determine your…sufficiency. And it's only been 24 minutes."
"Okay… I suppose I gotta ask; why here?"
"Well, I wanted something great, and you are the best candidate for doing just that. Just not in your own world."
"Quick question though: There are millions of people like me. They all love the franchise, and a few of them are bound to be fucking US Marines. How come you picked a Homeland Security to do this?"
"You asked for a new life, I granted it." Fucking didn't really answer the question though.
"So, I can never go back? It's like you said, no turning back?" The pain flared up again, causing his breathing to grow ragged as he tried fighting down the tears. This time, at least, he could hold them back. It stung, but he managed. Sometimes, it felt like his entire life had just been about managing.
"Quite so, yes."
"Then… Then what happened to my family, my friends… my job?" he wasn't even sure why he asked about the last part, as he had little love for the people at the workplace. Nor did he particularly care for the job itself, and the boss was an outright arse.
"Well, in that dimension, the paramedics pulled out a mangled corpse from under the train. They tried reviving you, but to no avail."
"Fuuuuuck… So, was I… burried?"
"Why yes, of course you were. It would be strange just to dump the body in the harbor, but perhaps that's the custom in Denmark?"
"No, of course not! I, well, I'm just curious as to… how my closest handled it, is all."
"Well, they were not happy, I'll tell you that. But seeing as there is no way you'll ever see them again, short of them dying and ending up here that is, I suggest you move on."
Thomas sighed, unwilling to really accept that his choice was made, that he had crossed the point of no return. And yet, he knew he had. He had been killed in an accident, given a choice, and – despite his initial misgivings – accepted the choice that now had him here, on Eden Prime.
He still didn't want to simply resign to this new life, but at the same time, he knew he might as well just bite the bullet, and let life go in dry. Seemed like it always did, whether or not he liked it.
"…So, when do I get out of here, then?" he asked, trying to figure out why both women were now looking oddly at him. He hadn't soiled himself audibly at some point, had he?
"Are you…well, Private?" the older woman asked him, tilting her head ever so slightly as she stepped closer, datapad once again in hand.
"I have a headache, but…yes, why?" he knew it was tempting the universe to ask that question, but the stares directed at him were somewhat…unnerving. The nurse seemed keen on reaching for the syringe again, and her superior didn't seem keen on stopping her at all.
What had changed?
"Your files don't seem to indicate a case of mild schizophrenia, so as a doctor it is my duty to ask whether or not your consciousness is split, so to speak?" the doctor inquired, one finger raised above her pad's screen, as if she was prepared to take notes. Thomas stared at her for a full second, blinking rapidly when he realized she'd somehow heard him conversing with the Voice.
"I am not imaginary, if that is what you imply"
"Says the voice to the only person who can hear it" he muttered, looking at the women.
"I am not schizophrenic." He replied simply, briefly unsure of what else to say. Then, he remembered something he'd never actually thought would be a useful sentence; "I just…simulating conversations. It helps me think."
"Your being here should sufficiently validate me, I believe."
"Or this might just be a comatose dream." Thomas shot back, not taking his eyes off the doctor. The older woman in question seemed to hesitate at his reply.
"Well, as long as you keep that to a minimum, I think we can send you on your merry way." The doctor said, tapping some commands into her wrist-worn computer, the Omnitool.
Honestly, the grief was likely still getting to him, because Thomas was nowhere as shocked at seeing that thing as he should have been. Or, it could've been some residue from the drugs. Either way, he just stared at the device now, not even questioning its existence.
Eden Prime, St. Michel medical clinic
The medical facility was something between a full-sized hospital, and a regular medically stocked prefab. It had the common, white and metallic dull walls, as well as doors that opened whenever someone walked past them. A rather annoying factor if you happened to work behind a desk and the passing of any single person made your door hiss open. Since she wasn't employed behind a desk though, the Gunnery Chief could hardly care.
Ashley Williams, still clad in her Phoenix-armor from being fresh back from the drillings, leaned against the frame of the door, listening in as innocently as she could while also trying to get a gauge on the marine. She had been spending just a few minutes standing there, trying to decipher whether the guy was outright insane, or was dealing with some weird schizophrenia.
The latter would be odd, seeing as his records didn't state anything about him suffering from it, nor having already been in combat before. From what the documents told her, he was fresh from the European Federation Enforcer Corps, from the Kalmar Battalions, units that had not seen action since the end of the Baltic Transgressions in '31.
So, trained but not tested. Still, she would have to figure out if whatever he suffered from was a severe handicap. Dog Squad was a hard unit, as she had made it a hard unit, and they didn't have room for those with too many needs. Still, the EFEC had rather high standings with the Alliance Military, so she would give him a shot.
From what she knew of Scandinavians, they had very old-fashioned cultures. They didn't even bury people, but instead cremated them. Traditionally, this was done on pyres, high-ranking officials even getting a ceremonial pyre on a ship, which was also burned, often at sea.
They didn't believe in Heaven, nor in God, but instead in a pantheon older than Christianity itself. People who died either went to Hell – was it with one or two 'l's? – or to Valhalla. The latter was a pagan version of Paradise, consisting of three key factors: Eat, Drink, Fight.
Still, pagan and old-fashioned as they might be, Asatru had never engaged in religious wars, and they put most other religions' early histories to shame when it came to tolerance. So, if nothing else, she didn't have a problem with it, them, him.
Not yet, anyway.
"I am not schizophrenic." The man said from beyond the door; I was just…simulating conversations. It helps me think."
Ashley huffed at that, the explanation sounding like either a weird-ass philosophy, or the result of the doctors having actually given him the good drugs. That assistant of the doctor's always did seem trigger-happy with the syringes.
His voice sounded young too, younger than her usual recruits. Of course, she had had some trouble caring about his age when Dog Squad had found their newest member, roasted and burned beneath the monorails. He'd either been hit repeatedly by lightning, or someone had taken a Firestorm to the poor shit.
"Well, as long as you keep that on a minimum, I think we can send you on your merry way." Ashley picked herself up from the wall at that, taking it as her cue to shut off the Omnitool and focus on giving off a good first impression to the new soldier.
It was always important, especially with Scandinavians. Most Union soldiers she had met had been some cocky shits.
She kinda hoped this one was different.
"By the way, the officer who found you at the rails is waiting outside. I can send her in if you are feeling ready for visitors. Oh, a word of advice. She will also be your commanding officer as long as you're stationed here, so try not to make a mortal enemy of her, alright?" The doctor added, sounding like it was something of a funny story already, what with Thomas' new boss, and all.
Shit, was he ready for this?
Not that it was a question, seeing as he wasn't actually given a choice in the matter. The best he could do was simply to ease the transition, and pray that his superior officer wasn't who he both hoped and feared it could be. He knew Ashley Williams led a unit in the 212th, but he also knew that would she happen to become his commanding officer, it would be…difficult, keeping a straight face.
These two women were people he had never encountered before, so they were…normal, to put it like that. Ashley Williams, however, he had gotten to know as a computer-generated character. He had, quite frankly, no idea what she would look like in real life.
"Alright, I guess I'm ready to meet my new boss." He forced his voice confident, and sat up straight in the bed. His legs were still strapped in, meaning he couldn't actually leave yet. Were they afraid he would bail?
"So, you up yet, Burn-bag?"
So much for a professional working-relationship. He knew the voice before he even registered it as belonging to her, and his expression became a solid mask of stupor. If that was even a thing. If not he could now declare it as such, for when he turned to look at the doorway again, an armored woman had stepped forth, her head uncovered by the helmet clipped to her hip.
There she was. Gunnery Chief Ashley Madeline Williams, more beautiful than the game could ever make her. Thomas blinked, and completely failed to register the nurse unstrapping his legs. His eyes were torn between looking at the Gunnery Chief, and anywhere but. Stop staring! Fuck me, stop staring!
He had to face it now: She was beautiful, in the way that a Valkyrie would outshine mortal women.
And still, she was the same as in the game, somehow. He wasn't sure how to put it, not really.
Clad in the white and pink armor that made her so iconic during the first and second game, she carried a hand canon on her hip, and had both arms crossed before her chest. She was leaning against the doorframe in cocky, confident manner, radiating control and strength. The armor was displaying her forms, and… no! Bad brain, shame. Don't think like that about someone you've only just met.
Still, she didn't seem bothered by his no-doubt odd stare, and Thomas found himself surprisingly grateful that he would serve under her. It was definitely going to be weird, initially, but at the same time, he felt like maybe this was not so bad again.
Thoughts of Shepard had completely dissipated from his mind.
Her dark hair was tied up in the same knot as in the game, leaving all her face to be marveled upon. Her lightly tanned skin almost seemed to shine in the incoming light, giving her expression a deep, soft character. There was strength, and determination, but there was also a woman passionate about her duty, and the lives depending on her performing it.
"Yes, Ma'am. I… am up and about." He said, breathing in, as he tried not to look anywhere but her face. For Tyr's sake, pull yourself together, and stop blushing!
"No need to 'Ma'am' and 'Chief' me yet, Rookie. You're still not officially enrolled in this colony's military force. By the way, I never got your name. You weren't really in any condition to answer when we found you under the tracks, looking like a fried pork chop."
She just had to rub it in, didn't she?
"Thomas, ma'am, Thomas Fisk-Fisher. Though… you may just call me Fisher, or…or Thomas. I prefer Thomas, if you… don't mind." he said, rubbing his neck in, what some would call, slight embarrassment. For a guy who had never possessed the ability to really talk to women, it felt more like he was being cooked in his own skin.
"I'm Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams." She replied, allowing him a reprieve; "However, until we are in the field or training, you can just call me Ash or Chief. And by the way, you might wanna have your teeth cleaned..." she frowned, though there was definitely a grin behind it; "…you smell a little like…"
"…Like puke?" he asked, blushing with shame. Gods be damned, he had completely forgotten about that. What would be next, he'd look down and find he wasn't wearing any… Fuck me, I do really have no pants on…
Seemingly catching his thoughts, Melissa tossed him his pants. They were torn to shit below the knees, but that wasn't even from the train-accident. Thomas sent her a grateful nod – he might as well be polite - as he pulled on the jeans, feeling a bit more comfortable with pants on. Ashley grinned at the scene, holding a fist before her mouth, failing in hiding a smile while she nodded;
"Yeah, a bit." She admitted, looking like she was overall just finding the situation funny. With the T-shirt in hand, he shake his head before pulling it on. It smelled like soap.
"Sorry about that ma'… Ashley. I just… the medication must have… I don't know, just felt… sick." he ended up mumbling, not sure how the Hel to finish the line. Thomas was feeling pretty sure he'd just effectively fucked up the first impression anyway. Then came his old, dark-red hoodie, before he finally pulled on the leather-jacket.
Somehow, he wasn't really surprised to find his shoes absent. Instead, a pair of dull, army-issued shoes – they seemed to use grafts instead of laces – were waiting at the edge of the bed.
When he was done, had said his thanks to the doctor – he had still not learned her name – and Melissa, Ashley took him outside the clinic.
He was, at first, stunned at just how normal the colony looked. When he'd realized where he was, Thomas had halfway expected the outside of Eden Prime to look like Pandora. Of course, it was a temperate Garden-world, and humans called it 'paradise'. A such, he had not really expected it to look just like Denmark, minus the cliffs.
"Well alright then, how about I show you the colony, and we finish off by the barracks. That will, by the way, be your new home here." She smiled, gesturing for him to follow her to a military-looking jeep, complete with sleek, angled surfaces of dark metal.
So, they were driving?
Eden Prime, Constant
Well, this was an odd recruit, no question there.
Ashley couldn't quite put her finger on why, but it was as if he really did carry around some sort of deep emotional trauma. And yet, it was like he was looking at something… holy, whenever she caught him in looking at her. Asatru had some sort of warrior women, she knew that, but couldn't quite recall the term.
Christ, it was like yesterday, when Donkey had tried, rather poorly and obviously, to seduce her at the bar. Poor guy really, didn't know what to say or when. Still, she preferred to keep things more professional between them. Especially with Colonial Command just waiting for an excuse to take her hard-earned rank away.
"So, this is the town hall, where I suspect you'll be spending at least some time stationed as guard. Don't get the wrong idea. Just because we're military, it doesn't mean we get to skip guard duty." She said, pointing at the center of all administration and political commerce in the colony. Fisher seemed to marvel at the Foxhound-Jeep, even though it was a decade-old model, and viewed everything with large eyes.
City-kid. No doubt there. He'd probably never seen a colony before.
"Huh… so, you said 'we' found me. Who else picked up my charred hide?" Thomas asked her, causing Ashley to release a small smile at the memory of Norroty's words when they came upon the new recruit.
'Damn… he looks like he got hit by lightning…that, or the Devil took a piss on him.' It was rather fitting, she thought while looking back at it, seeing as he apparently had been hit by lightning.
"…A few others from Dog squad. We're the main infantry fighting force of the 212th, but the guys who found you were me, Donkey, Nadang, Pennyloafer and Norroty." She replied, driving on, down the newly paved streets. Eden Prime's colony wasn't old enough to have a fully established road-system, but they were getting there, if slowly.
Mainly because the administration had their heads up their asses. The rookie seemed to ponder at something for a few moments;
"…Donkey?" He asked, and Ashley didn't blame him for it, as Donkey was a pretty odd name. Still, it was better than the name his mother had given him, hence why people just called him Donkey, no problems, when they found out his real name. Thát, and he could deliver a nasty kick on the sparing mats.
"Yeah, our Sergeant. Ordinarily, you'd report to me in the field, but command… believes he can do a better job of running the men." She said, finding herself biting down the anger in her voice. To hell with those ignorant jackasses, and to hell with the Williams Curse.
"Odd… wait, hold… okay, can I ask something that is bound to sound just as stupid as I know it's going to sound?" Fisher asked, causing her to look back at him, almost driving into a passing civilian in the process.
He seemed to have a thoughtful frown on his face, which was, she had to admit, not all that bad looking. Sure, his hair was unkempt from the week in a near-coma, and he had a few scars too, but… nah, he looked normal actually.
Though, there was something about his eyes, like there was…something deeper behind them. Not that she looked much into his eyes, but she had an eye for detail, and noticed it when they were introduced. They were blue, yes, but at the same time seemed to carry sparks of green. Not flecks, like most normal eyes would, but actually bright sparks.
"Shoot, as long as it doesn't concern why Donkey is leading." She said. Thomas raised a finger, then promptly lowered it again, making it clear that thát had been exactly what he was going to ask.
Still, the pouting look on his face, looking like a saddened child, was too much for her to resists, odd as it was, so she gave in, despite knowing she was going to regret it; "…Fine, what is it?"
"You are Ashley Williams?" His question was enough to make her nearly hit an oncoming truck when she sent the jeep sideways over the line. Of course she was Ashley Williams, who the fuck else did he think she was? She frowned at him, making it clear that his sense of humor was not appreciated.
"Deduction is high on your priorities, I see." She remarked. His smile withered, then he rubbed his temples before responding;
"Right, not what I meant… I mean, you are pretty…" He started, the last words giving her a small blush. Few people ever called her 'pretty', Donkey being among them; "…known, even on Earth."
Oh, she realized he had just been trying to find the right words. Still, his words were still rather surprising. Or not, really, considering her heritage. Everyone knew about Shanxi, and who had surrendered to the Turians.
"Aha… and, if I might ask, why am I famous?" She asked, tapping a finger on the wheel before looking him in the eye. Yep, there was still that… oddity, in them. Like flashes of green that weren't really there.
"Well… ah fuck, I mean… Tor, I just realized this is making me sound like a stalker…" He muttered, slapping a hand over his face before daring it downwards in a rather comical fashion. If Ashley wasn't interested before, she was now.
"Okay, spill it." She borderline ordered him, pulling the vehicle to a stop. He grew even redder, like he was being asked to pull down his pants in public. Hell, he even started fidgeting. Which, she supposed, could be a sign of weakness to most.
"I've… been… I've read a lot about you." He said, sounding like each word was dragged from him with rusty pliers. God, but was he red in the face now.
"Such as?" She asked, starting to find this more amusing than annoying. She had no idea what stuff he had read, considering that she doubted much was ever written about her, maybe aside from the occasional documentaries digging through her family.
"I… the… Williams Curse, they say… well, I just… think it's a load of bullshit. From what I've read, the people in command say your family is cursed or some shit…I dunno, it's just… sorry, I suck at small talk and I always end up either babbling or straying off to shitty subjects. Can we just… drop it again, and like, pretend I never even asked?"
Now even his ears were red, which was making it somewhat impossible not to smile at his awkwardness. Better have Nadang see if he couldn't teach the newbie the ropes, she surmised.
Still, what he said was… surprisingly honest, for a stranger.
Most of the people who agreed with her on that subject were her unit, who had known her for at least a few months, taking Bolin into account. To have a fresh recruit praise her, as a matter of fact stating that he had bothered reading up on her, was strangely pleasing. She gave him a friendly smile, giving his shoulder a smack to tear away some of that nervousness.
"Hey, thanks Burn-bag. Now, let's get a move on, shall we?" she said, pulled the hand-brake and kicked the jeep back into action.
Eden Prime, Constant
When they finally made it back to the barracks, Thomas didn't really know what to say.
Crap, he'd pretty much wasted any sort of chance he had at being viewed as a normal person by her when he'd started blurting out shit about the Williams Curse. She solved that problem – somehow – by extending her hand again, and he took it, feeling the Kevlar – or whatever the stuff on the inside of her gauntlets was made of – rub against his palm.
"Nice to meet you Thomas Fisher, although from tomorrow, you'll call me Chief." She gave him another one of her smiles, and nodded. Damn, far as he remembered, she was never in a mood this good in the game, before Shepard and her… well, that was something for another time. He knew the best thing to do at that point was simply to cheer her on.
Or something like that.
"…And I guess you'll be calling me Private Fisher? By the way, I assume we rise at six-thirty?" that was when the Force back home had kicked people out of bed.
Thomas found himself smiling at her. It really was hard not to smile when talking to this woman. Especially because she seemed happy with the comment about the curse being a load of dung. Funny though, that he hadn't been hungry all day. It could probably blamed – or credited, he wasn't sure which – to the fact that he'd apparently been fed via tubes while in a coma. Yeah, great start to a new life, being fed through tubes and piss through one too.
"Be up at 06:00. If not, there is no grub. Dismissed Private Fisher" She said, smiling again, though fainter, and with a more official tone.
Ashley gave him a salute, which he returned with the kind of mirrored perfection drilled into you by a military force needing to train you to do something, seeing as they couldn't teach you to drive tanks. When she turned and left, undoubtedly going to finish some report, Thomas smiled, mostly to himself. Ahh, the benefits of low rank.
"Indeed, you do seem to have adjusted remarkably well, given the place and time."
"Were you listening in on that?"
"Your thoughts, your arousal over her forms, or your conversation?"
"Dafuq!? All of those!"
"…. No. Besides, you really need to stop swearing that much"
"Who the hell are you? my moth… never mind!"
"You must admit, it was interesting to have an actual conversation with someone who were just pixels on a screen a few weeks ago. Or do you still think this is a game?" the Voice asked, eternally smug and stoic at the same time.
"Of course it was interesting." Thomas bit out; "You're not supposed to meet people like that in real life, so yes: I admit it was pretty damn awesome, but also more than just a little shaking."
Still. There was nothing he could do now, but acclimatize. He was enrolled in the Alliance Military, and he was going to be serving under Ashley Williams. Not as her friend, confidante or lover, but as her soldier.
He might as well get used to that. And really, it wasn't that bad. In the end, he palmed the interface on the door to the barracks, and stepped inside.
"So, Mister Crispy has returned from the dead." A voice instantly declared, maybe as a greeting?
Considering the burns still covering his lower thighs, Thomas wouldn't be surprised if he'd already gained a nickname.
The voice belonged to a dark-skinned guy, black hair braided from the front of his head and to the back in lines. He was sitting in a chair, faced with the door, a book on his lap, while a good bunch of others were back-turned towards where Thomas had entered.
A look as he entered revealed the odd fact that they seemed to be playing cards. They didn't seem to notice his arrival, to which Thomas could only shrug. Huh… well, still a better reception than what I usually gets…
At the man's greeting, the rest looked up as well, five new faces looking at Thomas with mild amusement. One had bright, yellow hair and a stocky, and yet strikingly feminine build, while retaining a boyishly amused look on his face.
Another had red hair, as well as a small scar going over his lips, adding to the gruff look.
"Hi… I'm Private Thomas Fisher. This is…Dog Squad, right?" Thomas asked, mentally kicking himself for sounding like a bloody… something. Thomas hadn't honestly been this nervous since first day of school.
The rest got up too, sharing amused looks between them before beckoning for him to come over to them. Thomas, naturally, obliged, wanting the first meeting with his new squad-mates to go as smooth as possible. The biggest of the men stepped up, eyes examining Thomas.
It was a little weird, but evident that there was nothing malicious about it.
"So… you are the result of what a week in the hospital can do to charred meat? Gotta say, you already look like a veteran with the amount of scars and burns we found you with. I'm Donkey, by the way. Your new Sergeant." The yellow-haired man said, extending his hand. Looking at it, it took the Dane a long moment to process that he was supposed to take it.
"Glad to meat… meet you." he said, stumbling over the words. Great, look like a weirdo. Why not?
Still, he just smiled, gesturing for the rest of them to say hello too. Gods, did he hate meeting new people. Not because he didn't like new people, but because he had a frustratingly solid record of saying or doing something that permanently fucked it up.
"Bolin Nadang, Corporal. I'll show you the ropes here, plus give you a pointer if you get lost." The dark-skinned guy said. Funny, his accent sounded more… Dutch or German, maybe. Maybe he was South African? "Trust me, we've all been new guys here at some point."
"Yeah, 'cept for Hillary." A gangly, dark-haired guy chuckled, gesturing at the blonde, boyishly-appearing guy at the…Thomas paused, blinking. That was a girl? He shook it off before anyone saw his expression, but still…damn, talk about being a tomboy. She grinned, sticking out her tongue while flipping him off; "Jim Norroty, Private, so we're equal what ranks are concerned, yes?"
"Long's your brains aren't equally small, I think you'll be fine here." 'Hillary' said, offering Thomas her hand. Now that he was closer, and knew she was a woman, it was clear as day, really; "I'm a private too, so do feel free to feel bad when I outscore you."
"She's not talking about the shooting-range, let me tell ya that." An older-looking man, borderline bald, said, dodging the card Hillary sent at him like a shruiken; "Norman Bates, I'm the Squad's designated driver, pilot and slicer."
"He also performs at birthday parties." The first guy, the red-haired one, mused, drawing Thomas' eyes between them, unsure of what was going on. Bates held up a fist;
"He means I am a biotic." He replied to the unspoken question, and his hand glowed purple. Thomas nearly fell on his ass, but managed to keep it at a backwards step. Brage on a Boar! Biotics!
"Mikhail Ünalan, Lance Corporal and team sniper with Private Hillary." The red-haired guy said, a bit less informal than the rest of them, but still without contempt. Funny enough, only now, hearing his accent as clearly middle eastern, did Thomas realize his hair was dyed.
"Plus I get to carry the biggest gun." The woman commented, punching her own palm. Once more, Thomas had to look back at Norroty, who seemed the friendliest so far, aside from Donkey. Still, he'd rather ask another private.
"Penny's our heavy gunner." Bates, surprisingly, was the one who explained it; "She's the only one of us trained with the use of the H-Revenant-A rifle."
"Only one trained for a lot of stuff." The woman commented, a snide smirk on her lips. Thomas, in the end, decided not to question it.
Dog Squad, after the introductions with the rest of the barrack's inhabitants were made, turned out to be just one squad in a barrack containing as many as four squads of ten, making it a lot of people to meet. Luckily, Thomas was just introduced to Saber Squad, because they had the people he needed to know in case of a natural disaster occurring.
"So, Thomas. You want in on a game?" Donkey asked, gesturing at the table with the dormant cards.
"I… yes, that sounds like fun." He replied, still taking the whole situation in. It was a surprisingly nice gesture of inviting him into their group, and he decided to take it.
As they sat down, he looked on as Ünalan shuffled the cards.
The moment Thomas sat on his designated chair, though, a long, realistically sounding fart erupted from underneath him, honestly scaring the crap out of him for the second it took him to realize that no, he did not just break the chair or soil himself.
Giving the others a look of annoyed disbelief, he pulled the whoopee-cushion out from underneath his seat, holding it in the air while the others proceeded to laugh their asses off. He just sighed, realizing he should have expected a group of people who lived together like this to have an immature, yet appealing, sense of humor.
Hel, it was pretty good, actually. Mainly because he'd fallen for it.
"Ah, don't be like that! We used to do way worse things to the new guys." Donkey said, choking on his laughing. Nadang too, had some trouble getting air before speaking;
"Yeah, you don't wanna know what they did to me on my first day 'ere." He added, down to a chuckle. Thomas just shook his head, wondering how such things could even still exist so long after their invention. I guess farty-pillows are just as immortal as the chair they were meant to lie on…
Still, he couldn't help but smile at their antics, and grabbed his set of cards. Time to get them right back at it;
"Probably not. Alright, you guys know 'Asshole'?"
Codex Entry: Second Kalmar Union
Following the Scandinavian Revolutions in 1810, representatives from each country's revolutionary governments – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland – met in Stockholm to discuss a treaty between the nations. The result was the Unification Treaty of Kalmar, which became the founding document of the Second Kalmar Union.
In 1864, Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck embarked on a war of conquest over the dispute between the Kalmar Union member, Denmark, and the states of Schleswig-Holstein.
While the Danish soldiers were relatively quickly overwhelmed at the old walls of Danevirke, the Prussian invasion was stopped short in its tracks at the siege of Dybøl, when armored warships arrived from Oslo, carrying Union troops and artillery, as well as Samish mercenaries.
The Prussian soldiers, previously in a superior shelling-position, were now caught between the Danish defenders, and the landing reinforcements coming up from the southern fjord. The battle turned into a bloodbath, with neither side achieving true victory, though the Prussian soldiers were eventually forced to retreat to a more defensible position, allowing the defenders a pyrrhic victory, if nothing else.
The war concluded with the signing of a ceasefire, granting Denmark the state of Schleswig, while Holstein remained neutral as a future buffer between the great nations. This war, while hurtful to the relations between later Germany and Scandinavia, served to bring the Kalmar Union closer together, finally cementing the alliance as military as well as political in name as well as deed.
Later on, Scandinavia remained pointedly neutral during the First World War, despite both sides heavily arguing their case to the northern union. As such, the Kalmar Union prospered from trading with both sides of the conflict, as well as Schleswig functioning as a statewide sanctuary for displaced populations, as well as a neutral treatment-site for both sides.
The Second World War forced the Union into action when Russian soldiers invaded Finland in 1939, and the Kalmar Union entered the war on the side of the Allies. Though Finland eventually fell to the Soviet Union in 1940, Swedish and Danish warships harassed the soviet supply-ships crossing the Baltic Sea, forcing Stalin to send his supply routes across the Siberian, then the Finnish steppes and forests, the latter providing amble opportunity for Finnish partisans to ambush them.
When Russia was attacked by Germany, and as a result thereof sided with the Allies, Scandinavia pulled out of the war, refusing to fight side by side with the soldiers currently occupying the lands of its member nation, Finland. The war was eventually won by the Allies, though historians have argued that the casualties could have been much diminished had the Union not pulled out.
During the Cold War, the Kalmar Union managed a tense relationship with the USSR, refusing to acknowledge Soviet ownership of eastern Finland, though lacking the capacity to retake the lost territory. When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed as a counter to the Warsaw-pact, the Kalmar Union joined as a single entity, determined to remain unified.
In 2016, at the outbreak of the Third World War, Scandinavia fought with Nato against Russian forces in Northern Europe, primarily focusing their military capacities in the Baltic Sea, Finland's border with Russia, and the North Atlantic.
At the end of the War, approximately two million Union troops had been killed in action, and eleven million civilians had been killed by the fighting, primarily in Finland, or in sea-side towns and harbors targeted by Russian missile cruisers.
As a result of the War, Finland regained the entirety of its old territory from Russia, and the Kalmar Union remained a unified superpower, capable of impacting international politics with respect and willpower alone. Members of the European Union, which the Kalmar Union remains a partner if not key-member of, have often voiced criticism of the Unions overtly militarized societies, maintaining compulsory military service for all eligible men and women within its borders.
At the turn of the next century, the Kalmar Union had grown to include Kaliningrad. The Baltic state became the first Christian country to join the previously pure-Asatru Union. In 2131, pro-Russian separatism flourished in Eastern Europe, clandestinely funded and supported by Russian President Joseph Igor Malevich.
Despite the evidence of Russian involvement, the European Union was facing a decline in economic capability, and as such depended too much on Russian energy to punish what was in simplicity foreign state-sponsored anarchy. The Kalmar Union levied heavy sanctions on Russia when Kaliningrad experienced similar uprisings, but due to official denial of involvement, the Union was unable to declare a state of war without breaking international law.
As a counter-measure to destabilization of a member-state, Union troops were sent to combat the insurrectionism in Kaliningrad, and shortly thereafter were engaged by 'self-defense troops' from the separatist-controlled parts of the small nation. When Russia threatened with a full-scale intervention in the Baltic state, the Kalmar Union was forced to retract its peace-keeping forces, and Kaliningrad eventually left the Union before dissolving into city-states ruled by pro-Russian officials.
Relations between the Union and Russia progressively deteriorated to the point where the 'cold' war between the two factions seemed ready to go hot. The only reason this never happened, was the discovery of alien ruins on Mars, which led to the formation of the Human Systems Alliance. When the first human-settled world of Shanxi was attacked by the Turian Hierarchy in 2154, the Kalmar Union joined the Alliance, putting aside old grudges with Russia in the face of extraterrestrial threats.
It remains a significant powerbase to this day, and maintains military bases on several colonies in the inner systems. Union Army Trainers are highly sought after for their expertise in guerrilla-style winter warfare.
Heh, jokes aside, I have found that one thing my time in New Zealand has given me, is a somewhat deeper connection to my own culture, specifically pre-Christian culture. It's one of the reasons I'm doing this rewriting, because writing Thomas as a Christian now feels...weird.
So, this will be the first of the rewritten chapters. I'm posting it as an update instead of a new story because I have realized that sometimes, new people still come in and start reading this, so I might as well do my best. Years of writing - yeah, that sounds just as weird to me as to you guys - have taught me a lot more about this stuff than when I started.
Until next time :)