Of Xenophobia and Infatuations...
I don't own BioWare
A/N: Now, most of the time I don't really criticise work that I hate, I just move along. But sometimes, a man comes across something soul crushingly bad. Whether it's military officers acting in ways that would guarantee them psychological discharges for untreated psychosis, military officers acting in ways that would guarantee them a dishonourable discharge for violence against their crew, and military officers acting in ways that would guarantee that nobody would pay attention to them because they act like deranged children, hormonal teenagers. Son of a bitch, if my platoon commander acted the way some people's Shepard's do about sex, we'd laugh at him all the time...well, more than we currently do (he's an officer, he has it coming).
While I do have a specific fic in mind while writing this parody, I am keeping it pointed just in the general direction of the guilty parties, those whose attempts to write a Renegade Shepard just end up creating a bi-polar nutjob who just adores aliens and despises their own species for acting like normal, well-adjusted soldiers.
I have always maintained that for a fic to be good, it must be impartial. Positive feelings towards the characters you write are great, but you have to keep them under control so you don't create a writer's pet. And most importantly of all, you must never, ever let negative feelings you have about a character influence your writing. I've read more than one fic which was decently written, but quickly descended into a long tirade about the virtues of the writer's favourite characters, and the negative aspects of the one the writer hated, or was 'neutral' to. It completely spoils the reading experience, turns the fic into a bad joke and destroys many a work that could have been as good as the top ones here on FF.
As I said, many aspects of the bashing genre will be explored in the few short paragraphs written below, but what triggered this fic was one piece of writing so shockingly terrible in its characterisations that it drives me to distraction. It's always disappointing when a character gets sidelined, or their role truncated due to author's bias, but what really kills it is when I see things like a Shepard deciding that someone is incompetent because they don't knock out someone immediately, or that Shepard is somehow supposed to be 'smart' because they know some historical facts about the Protheans. Oh, and another character 'panicking' because they've been given responsibility. It's moronic. Soldiers are trained to handle responsibility. We're given automatic rifles and trained how to use them, for heaven's sake.
Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko had been in the Navy a long time. He'd seen his fair share of combat, racked up the commendations on the side, and made a reputation for himself as a dependable, stable officer who kept his emotions in check and genuinely cared about the safety of his men. He kept his nose clean, avoided making enemies, and generally got on about his duties. It was not a terribly exciting way to live, but it was certainly a great deal better than gaining more problems than necessary.
But nowadays, he had to wonder if his demeanour was giving off the wrong impression. For some quite unexplained reason, Commander Shepard was trying to kill him.
It had started when Commander Shepard and Anderson first came onboard. Kaidan had been on the Normandy for a few weeks, just tinkering about with some buggy systems, when he greeted them. He'd given both Anderson and Shepard a regulation salute, as required by the Systems Alliance Military Code, in regard to greeting superior officers.
For some reason, while Anderson had uniformly returned the respectful acknowledgement of his rank, Commander Shepard had just rolled her eyes, muttered that she hated kiss asses, and stalked off.
Kaidan didn't quite get it. His instructors at the Naval Warfare College had been quite specific that a salute was not an acknowledgement of the individual, but a mark of respect to the rank that they bore, the rank granted to them by the Systems Alliance, and the rank worn by many who had fallen before them. Maybe Commander Shepard thought he was trying to suck up to her? But surely, in her military training, she would have come across the reasons why a salute was given? Maybe it was a personal thing.
The next day, Kaidan had greeted Nihilus when he came on board. The turian Spectre had greeted him perfunctorily, and then requested directions to Captain Anderson. Kaidan had given him directions, then done his best to stay out of the turian's way. Clearly the Spectre was here to evaluate the ship and keep an eye on the Hierarchy's investment. He didn't need a bridge officer tripping him up, watching his every move and taking up his time with small talk. He could recognise a professional soldier across species, and if Nihilus was half as good as the stories said, then he really didn't need another person taking up his time with mindless conversation.
Unfortunately, that was when Shepard had cornered him in the elevator for the first time...
"What the hell is your problem?" Shepard hissed as she stood in front of Alenko, biotics glowing.
Alenko's eyes opened slightly. "Uh...ma'am?"
"Honestly, can't you even think outside your species for a little bit?" Shepard was right up in his face, hate spewing from her eyes. "It's bigots like you that make me hate the Alliance!"
"Bigots, ma'am?" Alenko blinked. "Are you sure you...?"
"I saw you just yesterday." The angry woman was growing more enraged by the second. "Nihilus is walking toward you in the armoury, and you just turn around and walk away!"
"Ma'am...I had forgotten I'd left an ammo mod that Nihilus asked me for in my locker." Alenko looked still more uncertain. "Weren't you looking when I handed it to...?"
"Enough of your excuses." Shepard turned away. "If it happens again, I'll slam you around."
Alenko was left feeling quite confused. What was she going to slam him around for?
Shepard's head popped back into his field of view. "Oh, and just so you know. Turians are so much better than Human men any day. (I'm keeping this anonymous, but the previous line is ACTUALLY in a fic I took a look at. I may or may not have given up on at that point, but fortunately Dark Danny rescued me with the next chapter of Uplifted)
Kaidan decided it was time to play dumb. He had no idea what was going on, so it was probably best to just stop pretending that he did. He nodded solemnly. "Absolutely, ma'am. As you said it."
Finally satisfied, Shepard stomped away, Kaidan could have sworn he saw a sulky expression on her face. It had to be an act, right? Surely the Alliance wouldn't put someone this...unpredictable, in the position of XO of humanity's newest warship? He had to be hallucinating.
Fortunately, that had been the only incident for a while. Nevertheless, Kaidan always got the uncomfortable feeling that Shepard's bullets always strayed a little closer to him than necessary during a firefight. Still, it had been an interesting few days since they had left the Citadel, Shepard as a Spectre, and with a mission to hunt down Saren in front of them.
Now, they were heading to Feros after picking up Liara, an expert on the Protheans. Kaidan didn't know much about the mysterious forerunner race. He knew about as much as any half-interested student, really. Protheans, big galactic fish who disappeared fifty thousand years earlier, leaving behind bits and pieces of their technology. Not much to learn really, though maybe Liara had discovered more in her studies.
Another addition to the crew was Garrus, an ex-C-Sec investigator and former military officer. He was a good fighter and a great shot, with his investigation into Saren showing a doggedness that Kaidan could recognise. He felt like the turian was someone they could trust.
But something else...odd, had been happening. Whenever he talked to Garrus, he'd return to find his locker and sleeping area plastered with tiny death threats written on small pieces of paper. Something else about him being a wimp for taking a moment with Jenkins after the kid was killed on Eden Prime. Then something about him becoming a psycho, stone cold killer. Two more things he couldn't understand. Sure, he had taken Jenkins death hard, but he hadn't exactly turned into a PTSD ridden monster afterwards.
Honestly, it was madness just how hellish his life had become. He was beginning to wonder if his hair was going to turn grey, when suddenly...
He whipped around, noting with despair that Commander Shepard was striding towards him, her same anger crazed expression decorating her face.
"Yes, ma'am..." Before he could even get off a salute, Kaidan found himself slammed back down into the ground, Shepard's hands around his throat.
"I've had enough!" Shepard screamed. "All your xenophobia and your infatuation with me!"
Kaidan gasped wildly for air, unable to pry Shepard's hands off his throat. What was she even talking about? Sure, she was good looking, but he preferred his women to be slightly less psychotic and ready to kill him every five seconds. "I...don't...know..."
"I catch you staring at my ass every five seconds, you're always flirting with me, and I just know you're trying to kill Garrus with all the times you talk with him." Shepard raged as she squeezed harder. "After everything I've been through on Mindoir and Akuze, I'm not going to let some xenophobic wimp take him away from me..."
Suddenly, she went limp, collapsing on top of Kaidan with a sigh. A few seconds later, she was lifted off him. Kaidan stood up shakily, massaging his throat and looking at his rescuers. Garrus was currently holding Shepard in his arms, while Wrex nursed a stun gun.
"Are you alright?" The turian looked puzzled. "I was worried she might try something. After all, she did spend the entire morning trying to get me to ravage her inside the Mako."
"What?" Kaidan still didn't understand. "This is insane, why would the Alliance promote her so much if she's..."
Chakwas interrupted him. "Lieutenant, you don't seem to understand. You see, for some unknown reason, Commander Shepard is possibly the best killing machine in the galaxy. Yet, for this, she seems to be at about the same mental age as a teenager. She is prone to temper tantrums and long periods of intense sexual behaviour. The Alliance is not quite sure why, this medical condition is unheard of. But, due to her ability to kill everything in sight, they put her in for Spectre candidacy."
"But that doesn't explain..."
"A side effect of her condition is that Commander Shepard is prone to extreme mood swings and bouts of violent psychosis." Chakwas told him apologetically. "The Alliance covers it up as best they can, and I'm usually assigned to make sure the victims are well compensated and given sufficient medication to make their injuries painless. Why, you should have seen my handling of the time when she assaulted two crewmembers in the showers. They were in recovery for weeks, but I managed to get them both to sign non-disclosure agreements so that we wouldn't have to send Shepard to serve a proper jail term and receive proper psychological help. I don't suppose I can bribe you all to keep quiet? The Alliance compensation fund is very generous."
Kaidan and Garrus both shook their heads wordlessly. Chakwas sighed. "And after twelve years of covering everything up, such a shame it has to end this way. Still, that's life for you. One second, a reckless killer can run about with no regard for the law, totally unrealistic, I know, but there it is, the next they have to answer for their crimes, no matter how effective they are on the battlefield. Oh well, I guess those pesky military justice systems exist for a reason."