There is no death, only a change of worlds.

The Transmigration Effect

Chapter 1

trans·mi·grate (verb )

of the soul: to pass at death from one body or being to another.

You can call me Parker. I've got one hell of a story.

Let me start at the top. I was alive before.

Is that weird? I guess it must be. I don't mean it like I had some sort of epiphany, or some obscure philosophical statement. I was alive, I died, and I was born again. I've taken two first steps, said two first words. I even got the same name.

I didn't believe in reincarnation until now.

Wait, was I my own descendant? Maybe. Holy hell.

I remember my life before, most of it, but less and less over time. Like a vivid dream that's always on the back of your mind. I wasn't anyone special, nobody of particular consequence. I didn't have a family of my own, and I died young, from a virus I think. That part's pretty fuzzy. It was hard to know how I felt about my new parents, since I still considered my old parents my real parents. But my new parents were loving people, not that I knew them for all that long. Everyone I knew called me a little prodigy, a fast learner. I wasn't a fast learner. I just remembered. The school curriculum had changed since my last childhood though, probably a good thing since more than one hundred and fifty years had passed since then.

That brings me to the weirdest part of this whole thing, really. I knew where I was. Not physically, like I know where I'm sitting. As soon as my brain was developed enough to understand what the hell had happened to me, I knew. Somehow, the world in which I now lived was one I remembered from my prior life.

This was the Mass Effect universe. Yeah. Imagine my shock when I figured that one out.

But apart from memories of a past life, there was one other thing I got. Back in medieval times, this 'gift' would have gotten me stoned, drowned or burned at the stake. Now, it only meant the government offered my parents an astronomical sum for me.

I guess they weren't all that kind and loving after all.

I'm a biotic. Scientifically, that means that I am one of the tiny fraction of kids that survived being born with small element-zero nodules throughout my nervous system. Practically, that means that I can, with a thought, trigger these nerves, run current through an amplifier, and move things with my mind.

But really, it means two things for a human biotic born in 2161, aged sixteen and stuck in the hell called military boarding school. It means that the Alliance considers you a weapon with a brain, and that anyone else who finds out you're a biotic wonders behind thinly-veiled suspicion if you're about to go crazy and try to separate their head from their neck.

If you hadn't noticed, being a biotic isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

You'd think that with my knowledge of what Mass Effect was, all the races and political structures, I'd easily fall on my feet, tip my hat and be on my way to a lifetime of happiness and prosperity. Yeah, no.

It had been a long, long time since I'd played the games. Decades, even if you discounted the 150 years my soul was in limbo. Or something. I'm not quite sure what happened in that period. At any rate, I was born a mere four years after the First Contact War, so anti-alien sentiment was through the roof. Biotics were only one level higher on that ladder, and I heard more than one guy claim we were 'traitorous subversives'.

I could see why so many biotics gathered together in extremist factions. We weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. I didn't survive birth just to get lynched by a mob, thank you very much.

I kicked myself endlessly for not remembering the games properly, but how could I have known? This wasn't something that anyone could have foreseen. Even I didn't know what had happened, and I was in the middle of it.

I didn't know what was worse, really. That I was brought here to perform a great and glorious task, and save the universe at the side of the famous Commander Shepard, or the alternative; that I was just an accounting error in the endless expanse of the universe. Who knew? Maybe my karma was perfectly balanced, so I got a reroll instead of heaven or hell.

There was something I remembered, something between a dream and a memory, a hallucination and vision. In a way, it was this one thing that convinced me that my memories of a past life were real rather than a symptom of madness; this one anomaly amongst a plethora of pristine memories.

Maybe it was something I'd seen in the abyss between life and death, something imprinted on my soul in between bodies. It wasn't something I could describe with words, but I saw someone. Not a man or even a human. Not alien, either. The only way I can describe it is… a presence. Somehow, I knew that this being was not a person, more like a fundamental force of the universe. Paradoxically, the only thing I could understand about it was that it was beyond my understanding. Opposite that entity stood another, but slightly different. Lesser, but more dynamic. More alive. Closer to what I was than to the indescribable one, yet still powerful enough to shred my soul with a wayward breath. They spoke, but I couldn't understand.

The next thing I remember after that was the screams of my second birth, my abrupt return to the physical plane. It had been many, many years before I could even comprehend that much; even now the memory was nauseating, burning, like a light so bright it was painful. Who knows. Maybe I'm crazy, or dreaming.

I was still piecing together the memories of my past life together. The first thing I remembered was something about a turian and 'calibrations', although what that meant I didn't have a clue. I didn't dare write down anything that I remembered; if someone found it I'd be up for way worse than biotic military school.

The greatest source of information about this new world I'd been born into was, ironically, the world itself. All the other kids, each of them biotics, had been too young for me to really relate with. I might have had an eight-year old body, but I still had a fully mature mind, and I wanted to look into galactic politics. So yes, I changed the channel from Power Asari and Sailor Thessia to an expose on Salarian politics. Sue me.

In the end, it boiled down to this: my parents had feared and hated me enough to sell me to the government, who packed me off to a boarding school in outback Australia and promptly forgot about me.

Saint Mercy's Military School for Biotics was a unique institution, a cross between juvie hall and a boarding school. It was located in the middle of the Australian Desert, no other human settlement for kilometres around. Totally alone. It seemed odd that there would be uninhabited land in the 22nd Century, but outback Australia was truly unliveable. Wildlife that could kill you with a single agonizing sting or bite, temperatures regularly breaking 50°C before plummeting to -15 just minutes after nightfall. There was no water, and in my twelve years here I'd seen rain twice. Hell, you could drug a Krogan, have him wake up here, and he'd think he was home. Welcome to the Tuchanka of Earth.

What was I supposed to do with my life? All the skills I had were obsolete now. I had my biotics, but what was I going to use them for? I could join the Alliance. The thought was virtually shoved down our throats all through school, as if it were the only option.

It wasn't subtle either, what with waking up at the crack of dawn and recruitment posters permanently glaring you in the face. Not to mention, all of our teachers were military or former military themselves, extolling the virtue of military discipline and the control it gave biotics. Bullshit.

The lesson that was pushed the most in that hell wasn't 1+1=2; it wasn't even 'join the military'.

It was that you, yes you, biotic you, were a danger to everyone around you and your parents had made a wonderful decision leaving you in our iron-handed grip in the middle of nowhere, little boy.

It was that you were flawed, a walking timebomb that would without fail go off and kill hundreds of innocent people around you. Just a matter of time. So you'd better be grateful for the stripes on your back, because we're doing you a favour. You can't be trusted. You aren't a normal person. You're barely human. You're a weapon with a brain, and you'd damn well better follow instructions. Honestly, of course our control over our abilities was bad. We weren't even teenagers yet!

I got very familiar with their whip.

In the whole academy, there was only one adult that was on our side, an Asari named Erintrea Sarrasari. She was three hundred years old, young for her species. She'd been disowned from her family for taking another Asari as a lover, and when her partner died she had nowhere to go, so she came here. We were an odd pair, a young human child and a disgraced asari huntress. I think I surprised her when I told her how young she was- everyone else had called her grandma. We were friends, as much as an eight-year old can be friends with an asari who blatantly refused to enter the matron stage of her life.

In the end though, she gave me an out.

More than once I tried to rally the other kids around me, but there was a beauty to beating children while they were young; they didn't understand, but they trusted, no matter what. By the time I left school, I was the only one in my class not going directly into the Alliance Marines, convinced of the danger they posed to ordinary society. Horseshit. I couldn't do much, but I at least avoided the army. When we all left St. Mercy's School for Biotics, we were sixteen- the minimum signup age for the marines.

By now we'd all been implanted with Bio-Amps, which did more for our control than any amount of beatings. We already had brain implants, of course, from when we were little older than toddlers. Surprisingly, we had all gotten L3 implants, the best the Alliance had. I suppose they wanted their soldiers to actually do something, not just be cannon fodder. Unlike the old L2 implants, these L3s were designed so that they could be removed; if or when newer models became available.

This week was a week of celebration for me, one of the few I've ever had. I was even feeling good enough that I could nearly stand the horrible faux-military uniform we had to wear every waking hour. Almost. Graduation was in a week, and after that I'd be free!

The atmosphere was oddly subdued though; graduations are usually happy affairs, even for these brutalised kids. Then again, this year was different. It hadn't been long ago since the Skyllian Blitz, the pirate military action that had killed many Alliance marines and broken the back of the Terminus pirates. It had been a victory, yes, but a costly one. Even that was better than we could have hoped for. As for why we got away with a pyrrhic victory instead of a massacre? Shepard.

It had been my first look at the woman who would become the legendary hero. In this universe, Shepard was a female, grew up on a colony called Mindoir. I looked into it after the Blitz; it had been destroyed by slavers years ago. No wonder Shepard had wanted payback on Elysium.

In a way, despite the death and destruction caused by the Skyllian Blitz, it was the most reassuring thing to happen to me in years. Until now, I'd always wondered if I weren't insane, hallucinating a possible future just to retain a scrap of value in who I was. But if the Blitz had really happened and Commander Shepard really existed, then I was right. My knowledge of the future was real.

"Parker, ******." The voice was abnormally nasally and clean, like someone who spent so much time brushing their teeth they wore their gums away.

The voice jolted me from my reverie, and I looked up at the two figures in front of me. Erintrea was one of them, pleasantly, but the other was a lab-coated scientist with the Alliance logo stitched onto the right lapel. Human, of course. Eri was dressed in the manner of all modern asari, a high-collared floor-length dress in a pale shade of blue. Her skin was darker than most asari, and in an attempt not to stand out she'd removed her facepaint.

"That's me. Although it's just Parker, please." I went by my last name, this time around. I don't know, I just felt like I needed to do something to differentiate this life from the last. There was silence for a moment, before I cleared my throat. "Eri, are you going to introduce me?"

Eri blinked, before a sheepish look covered her face. 'Scatterbrained' was a mild way to describe her. "Right, right, sorry. Parker, this is Dr. Keith Ajah, a section head for Alliance R&D's biotics division. I put your name forward as a research fellow, and he's agreed to see you. In fact, he was already here to evaluate the graduating class, and we finished a little earlier than expected. Do you have a moment?"

That was fast. Eri and I had hatched the plan to get me out of the Marines, and this was the best we'd come up with. It was still with the Alliance, but away from fighting, so it was probably the best decision. I had a lot of things to think about in the next few years. I didn't really know why she was willing to go so far to help me, but I guess it would have been depressing, sending so many biotic kids off to die in the battlefields. We still had skirmishes all over the sector, Batarian raiders and pirates of all races. I suppose we were the new meat in the galaxy, so it wasn't all that surprising. The galaxy would change a lot before the events of the game, and if you thought the anti-humanism had been bad then, you should have seen it before we got an Embassy.

"Yes, I don't have anything on at the moment." True, actually. I'd finished my last courses, Biomathematics and Anatomy, a few days ago, so all there was for me to do was wait for graduation. And practice, of course. I knew that the shit began to hit the fan in 2183, which meant that I only had six years before everything kicked off. Not long. "I understand that you're looking into the medical applications of biotics?"

Ajah nodded, producing a project outline from his coat. "That's right. We're looking for a young biotic with good control and a desire to help people to aid us in our research. Miss Sarrasari has been a great help in the planning phase, lending her expertise to the project. However, this is a human project, and so we require a human biotic. As for your suitability, we will need a demonstration of your capabilities."

Well, with Eri already vouching for me I was as good as in, whatever he said. Besides, I was one of the best biotics in the class. Probably the least soldierly, too. Somehow I doubted a St. Mercy-trained biotic would be a very good medic. A good attack dog, maybe.

I drew a marble from my pocket, held it flat on my hand, and concentrated. Biotics were generally activated with physical mnemonics, which meant that over time, our gestures would automatically activate the eezo nodes in our nervous system and bring our power to life without us having to think about it. So the next time a biotic gives you the finger, he might be trying to throw a Warp at you. Not that I'd ever use a gesture like that… It's awfully tempting though.

For this kind of use though, for incredibly fine control and complicated use, you needed full conscious control. I'd heard how the feeling of forcing your biotics into action was different for everyone. At first, I felt like I'd had to bludgeon the power into working. Even then, it had been as subtle and fine as swinging a sledgehammer attached to a grenade. Messy. Now, though, after four straight years of nothing but control exercises, it felt like dancing on piano keys. A blue glow surrounded my body, the luminosity a reaction of imperfectly formed biotic energy draining away as it left my body. In theory, a biotic with perfect control won't even glow, let alone shine as I did. But only a Matriarch could attain that level of perfection, or so I was told. I wasn't giving up quite yet.

I danced over those imaginary keys, and the marble rose, shrouded in blue light. I played a different chord, and the marble flew, zipping around my body in perfect circles. I increased the tempo, and the marble flew faster, now barely a blur as it whirled. The melody diversified, and the marble danced, tracing patterns through the air.

Controlling something so small and light was the most basic of control exercises and impressive as the display looked it was fairly basic. That was fine though, because despite his position, I could tell Dr. Ajah didn't know all that much about the fine points of biotics. He'd needed to bring in an asari expert just to get his project off the ground, and of all the asari he'd chosen a disgraced one.

To me, he seemed like the quintessential Earth-trained, classically minded scholar, totally out of his depth trying to research something that was a mere myth when he was doing his PhD. I let the marble slow to a stop, before it sank slowly back into my open hand. "Is that acceptable, doctor?"

Ajah looked like a stunned fish, mouth open and speechless. As I'd thought, a novice when it came to biotics. At the little smirk on my face, he straightened his tie and tilted his head back a touch to he could look down his nose at me. "Practically, yes, although I am also required to evaluate your education and knowledge to accept you. Medical studies are extremely complex and it is not just anyone that can understand the subtle differences between saving a life and ending it."

Well, as much as I hated the waste of time, he did have a point. It wasn't like the games, where everything happened for your convenience. I wasn't even the main character, so I guess the high-and-mighty act was pushing it. If this guy was going to become my boss, I should at least try to get along with him.

"I've successfully passed Biomathematics, Anatomy, Physics, Chemistry and Introductory Alien Biology, all of them Credit or above. You can check my grades at the records office if you would like a hard copy." I don't mean to brag. Well, maybe a little. It was an impressive list for a sixteen year old, but when you have school seven days a week from eight to six and study afterwards, you tend to get things done. I'd also picked up History, which was easy marks since, you know, I'd lived it. Other than that, St. Mercy's had also given combat classes, just another way to push us towards the military.

Ajah nodded slowly, lost in thought. Eventually he extended a hand towards me, a smile breaking out on his face. "No, that will be quite enough. That's very impressive, Parker. I'm sure you'll be an invaluable asset to our team." Huh. Unexpected. Maybe he's interested in making nice as well? I took his hand. No sense in burning bridges, especially since any normal person in my shoes would gush and leap at the opportunity. I know better. I got burned way too many times with contracts in my last life to be eager now.

Eri stayed behind as Ajah strides off, hands behind his ramrod-straight back. I misjudged him. He's not a bad guy, better than I'd expected. I guess I'm just a pessimist.

"Eri, when did you get involved with this? I thought you'd just heard about it on the grapevine, not that you were with it from the start."

The ex-huntress grinned. She can do that very well, with a lot of teeth. I imagine that if she wished, she could be downright horrifying. Thankfully, she's never turned that particular smile on me. Can't say the same about some of the other staff though…

"Girl's gotta have her secrets. There's no point hiding another now, since you impressed him. I'm quitting Mercy's; from now on I'll be full-time staff for this project." I frown.

"They're letting a nonhuman in on a secret project? No offense, but that sounds more than a little odd. I don't have a problem with it, especially if it's you, but that's got to be a first."

Eri winced a little, and I can see her wishing I was a little less perceptive. I grin back, and her expression changes from a wince to a roll of the eyes. Ever since I got to Mercy's, Eri has looked out for me. She doesn't feel like my teacher, she's more of a mother to me than the woman that birthed me. Mother and big sister rolled into one. I trust her more than anyone else in this universe right now. And she says she doesn't want to be a matron.

"Technically I'm on staff as a consultant only;" she explained, "But Ajah could never have done this without my help. We've arranged that he'll forget to leave some documents where I can see them, it's such a shame he's so forgetful…" I snort. "What? It's an interesting project, using biotics for medical purposes. We tried it in the commandos a long time ago, but we could never really make it work. The patient's biotics kept interfering with the doctor's so treatment was impossible. But human biotics are rare, so that won't be a problem."

I nodded. So that's why. Makes sense, really; when you have a race made entirely of biotics the potential for interference would be huge.

"Plus I get to escape this shithole, excuse my Vorcha. How I've managed to put up with it for a whole fifteen years I'll never know." Yeah, that sounded more accurate. I was only here for twelve and I could think of nothing better than freedom. She pulled an envelope from her dress, handed it to me. "Tickets to Brazil," she explained before I could ask. "I've got credits and you don't, so pay me back sometime. You need to be there in four days for the project launch. I'm flying out tonight. See you there, got it?"

I slapped the envelope against my leg absently, the thought that I was getting out finally was truly sinking in to me. I was out. Slowly, a Cheshire-cat sized grin spread across my face. Hell yes.

Packing wasn't hard when you had pretty much nothing. A valet greeted me at the Macapa terminal, and the culture shock nearly overwhelmed me. Crap! There were a lot of people! I'd spent all my time in virtual isolation, only two dozen or so people around me all the time. If I'm gawping like this now, how the hell will I manage on the Citadel? A cloud covered the sun, and I looked up and out at the megacity. Macapa is a big place, but most importantly for me it houses a marine training facility, apparently one of the best in human space, where the research will actually happen. It's not a bad choice; to heal requires people to be injured, and raw cadets should provide plenty of injuries.

It's beautiful as well, something about summer's heat clearing the air. There was wildlife and greenery aplenty, a pleasant surprise for a concrete jungle as big as this. Then again, not much concrete here. Just steel, glass and chrome. There are people everywhere, and suddenly I'm grateful for the clothes Eri gave me before she left. The high collar of my shirt hides my bio-amp from view, even if it gives off a blue pulse every now and then. Call me paranoid. But there's a pleasure in being treated like a normal person that only the persecuted know.

The thought of the Citadel brings up something else, actually. I've been putting it off until now, but the time is approaching fast and now I don't have the luxury of procrastination: Do I try to join Shepard's team or not? I know that some people might say that it was the unseen hand of fate that I ended up here like I have, but is that really a good enough reason? I put so much effort into not joining the Marines that the thought of voluntarily suiting up to put my life on the line is nauseating. I don't want to die! I'm not a soldier! Shepard did just fine without me in the game. Who's to say I won't fuck everything up and singlehandedly doom the universe? No pressure or anything.

But at the same time, one nagging thought keeps cropping up in the back of my mind. That I'm exactly right, this isn't a game. Not anymore. And unlike in games, unexpected things happen. Things that I might see and prevent, where someone else might not. I can help; it's just whether I want to.

…Fuck. I hate my stupidly honest sense of morals. Now I remember why I didn't want to think about it. I can't even lie to myself.

In the end, there is no choice. If I can, then I am required to. I'm one of the strongest human biotics in history, and that's not bravado. It's a fact. Sure, I'm not at Jack's level, but I don't have to be the best to make a difference. With great power, comes great responsibility. Damn it, Spiderman. This is all your fault.

In hindsight, I made that decision a long time ago. Why else would I work so hard to dodge the marines, only to sign up for an Alliance Navy research project?

In the back of the car, I sigh heavily. Alright. Decision's made, what's the plan. It's 2177 now, six-odd years before Saren's geth attack Eden Prime. I've signed up for this research project, no backing out now. I highly doubt it'll take all that long, certainly not six whole years. I'll be living on a base while the project is going, so I'll make a nice little nest egg. Hopefully enough to get me to the Citadel before everything falls apart. Once I'm there, I can find a job, keep my head down, and link up with Shepard and crew just after the Eden Prime attack. Part of me wants to try and stop the original attack altogether, but it's futile. All of my knowledge of the future would be useless if I even tried that and what could I do anyway? Even if I managed to move heaven and earth to defend the colony, could it really stand up to Sovereign? Yeah right. Citadel it was.

The car pulled up at a checkpoint, and a Marine checked our identities. Alright Parker, deep breaths.

Here we go.

Under the pristine Macapa sky, the military base is a collection of drab grey. Military décor hasn't changed all that much in a century and a half, really; they just use different colours some of the time. Everything is laid out in perfectly straight lines, from barracks to briefing rooms to armouries and mess halls. It's not the most welcoming place, especially with the barbed wire that surrounds the whole base. But compared to St. Mercy's, it's a veritable paradise.

"Mr. Parker, was it? Yes, we've been expecting you. If you'll come with me, please."

My guide is a human woman, with brown hair cut short and freckles on her nose, clipboard under her arm as she walks. The quintessential scientist, even in bearing. An intern? Maybe. I remember that when I was in my first year out of college in my first life, I had to do all kinds of odd jobs for my superiors. Huh. Now I'm not even old enough to enter college.

I follow her into the section of the base we've got set aside for the study; it's about the furthest building from the mess so we'll be the last to get food. Damn. I've only been here twenty minutes and I already can't wait to be out of here. Yeah, that's taking pessimism to a whole new level. Maybe it won't be so bad, right? Just day in and day out being used as a lab rat to see if I can get biotics to heal people.

Yeah, I suck at optimism.

Seriously though, I'm not sure what the Alliance is trying to accomplish here. What do they want me to do, use my biotics to do CPR from a distance? Biotics can manipulate gravity a little bit, in very specialised ways. We're not wizards, and we can't read minds. We aren't sorcerers, demons or demigods. Biotics is based in science, just like everything else. If more people understood that, we wouldn't have problems.

I'm probably overreacting, especially since Ajah seemed like an open-minded guy. Come to think of it, that's probably why they put him in charge of the project. I can only hope his staff is just as welcoming. Well, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

The intern leads me to a room on the side of the research compound, asks if I need anything, and knocks respectfully on the door. The door swings open to reveal a middle-aged man with eastern European features, who smiles at the sight of me. He's massive, about twenty centimetres taller than me, and I'm not short. His face is framed in a short, thick black beard, which looks to have slightly more hair than the top of his head's military cut.

"Thank you, Julia, that will be all." She just turns on her heel and leaves. It's a little unnerving, actually. She kept looking at me like I was something to be analysed, completely dispassionately. I know that's what scientists are supposed to do, but not that well. Especially when they're only a few years older than me.

"Please, come in, Mr. Parker. My name is Doctor Yevgeny Kafelnikov; I am the resident surgeon on-base. Of course, most of the researchers you'll be working with will have doctorates, but the powers that be asked me to perform your opening physical. We need to know how your body is so that we can get the best results from the study."

As his appearance would suggest, the voice carries a Russian accent, although not as strong as I had expected. He speaks with a smile, too, something I haven't ever experienced from a human. Erintrea was the only one before him, actually. It's… surprising. But nice.

"You don't mind that I'm…" I wave my hand around my head and neck, pointing at my bio-amp.

Kafelnikov laughs a little bit, grins even wider. "No, not at all. We have a few other biotics here at the base, although we found that biotic soldiers make poor medics. We know you're not a demon, just a regular Joe. There are always some superstitious ones, but don't worry about them. Apparently, using biotics for fighting tends to accustom the mind to using them in a certain way, so they find it difficult to perform surgical tasks. It might be impossible, actually. Technically this project has been going since biotics were discovered, though it's gone through a number of name-changes and methods. You're the last hope, actually. We've tried everything short of non-human biotics, and we'd prefer not to hire asari to do the medical work. It'd do wonders for morale though!" The Russian laughs loud and powerfully, slapping me on the back, and I find myself smiling despite my pessimism.

It never seriously crossed my mind that there would be people who didn't care about my having biotics… It simply hadn't been a factor in my life at all. If there was a god who had had me reborn into this world, I'd cursed him any number of times since this second life started. Now, though, I felt like all the things I'd missed out on before. Maybe I can actually enjoy these next few years.

"Now, let's get on with your assessment! Name… we know that, next. Height?"

"Last I measured, 179cm."

"I'll never know why Americans refuse to use the metric system like everyone else. It's so much more sensible… so about 5'11" then?" The doctor grunts to himself. I shrugged. I didn't really know the imperial system, it seemed too haphazard to ever memorize.

"Next is weight, I guess? I'm 80kg." It seems logical, and I might as well try to speed past the mundane details.

Kafelnikov sets about converting numbers again, entering 176 pounds into the system. "Not a bad weight for your height, but we can work on it. Blood Type?"

Huh. Didn't think that would be the next question. "O."

"Any history of smoking, drinking or drugs?"

He does know I'm only sixteen, right? The look I give him makes the bearded doctor break out in another monolithic grin. His accent intensifies for a moment as he speaks, "In mother Russia even the twelve-year olds drink vodka, comrade."

Looks like sarcasm will get nowhere. There goes my primary weapon.

"No, no drugs, no smoking, and I've never had a drink. Military school was pretty tight in that regard."

Kafelnikov tsks. "We'll have plenty of time to sort that one out thoroughly, my friend. Now, the next part is rather painless for you. Ordinarily I'd pull out the rubber gloves, force your mouth open and get you to say 'aah', but sadly technology marches on. So instead of violating your personal space, I'll need you to lie down in that scanner."

The machine he indicates looks like a high-tech MRI machine, and I suppose that it's a similar kind of device. At least it's padded. As I lie down, the machine whirrs to life, Kafelnikov adjusting the settings before he presses the start button. "Can I talk while I'm in this thing?"

"Da. You have questions?"

The machine comes to life, and circular ring that encompasses around the bed I'm resting on slowly moves towards my feet. This will take a while by the looks of it.

"Have you seen an asari around the base? Working on the research project?"

"Hm, yes I have actually. Arrived a few days ago. I tell you, you should have seen some of the boys when she got here. I even had a few of them in here after they got into a fight over her! She with you?"

"Used to teach biotic control at the school I went to. Told me about this project, actually. Is she alright?"

By now Yevgeny has found a chair, one big enough for his enormous frame. I think it's supposed to seat two, actually. "Had more than a few of the marines ask her out, she turned them down. One of them tried to push the issue, she threw the bastard about fifteen metres. Funniest thing I've seen all month! Ah, they stopped asking after that. Or was it after she wiped the floor with the top hand-to-hand recruit in the base? Ah well. Never mind!"

That draws a surprised blink from me. If I hadn't been focusing on keeping still, I would have stared. Eri did that? I suppose she was a commando before she was disowned, but it's been twenty years of inactivity and she can still wipe the floor with the Alliance's best? No wonder few live to tell of how they threw down with Asari Commandos.

"Yeah," the doctor continues, as the ring reaches my waist. "I've never seen Williams been beaten that badly. Gave me a few winces, that one did."

Wait, did he just say what I think he said? He did, didn't he? No, calm down, Williams is a pretty common surname, maybe it's someone else.

"Who's Williams?" I ask. I'm trying to be nonchalant here, just making conversation, but to me it sounds like I'm choking on a hairball. Thankfully, though, Yevgeny either doesn't to care or doesn't notice, and goes on anyway.

"Hm? Ashley Williams. She's the best recruit I've seen in a while, came from out in the colonies somewhere. Apparently her whole family's been Alliance forever."

Holy shit. If I thought that this was just coincidence, I sure as hell don't now. Ashley Williams, here? I mean, I guessed that I was only a few years younger than her, but I never really thought that we'd be in the same place! She's got to be fresh out of high school if she's a recruit. I mean, I was expecting to meet up with Shepard's crew in years, not a few days!

"Doctor, when does the research start? I got here a day early to familiarise myself with the base, didn't I?"

Now he looks at me like I'm a little odd. "Sure, if that's what it says on your itinerary. Don't bother with the 'doctor' stuff either, you'll be dealing with so many doctors you'll sound like a bad 'Doctor, Doctor' joke. Yevgeny will do."

I don't even know if I can pronounce that properly.

At any rate, the machine finishes scanning me, and a screen pops up, reading off my vital statistics in a wave of medical technobabble. Most of it I can understand, but not really infer. I did anatomy, not full-on medicine. If I was going to do that, I would have missed Shepard at the Citadel it takes so long.

"Well, you're pretty well put together, all things considered," he muses. "You had corrective eye surgery when you were young?"

This machine can even pick up things like that? I'm impressed. "Yeah, just after I got taken in by the government. Standard healthcare. Anything else out of the ordinary?"

"Well, your body seems to burn energy faster than normal, but that comes with the biotics. You'll get more food than a marine would, enough so that using biotics won't tire you out immediately. Heart and lungs look good, everything in your brain looks normal. You're a healthy teenager."

"Thanks, Yev." The words come out before I really think about them, and they surprise me. I generally don't thank people all that readily. I'm a massive introvert, so I tend to go out of my way to avoid people. I guess that's what makes a good doctor, though, the ability to get on well with patients. I'm out the door in moments, head churning. Suddenly I've got a lot to think about.

Well, one thing's for sure. The next few years will be very interesting indeed.

A/N: I'll get this out of the way here: I own literally nothing about Mass Effect, except copies of the games and a few shiny comics. I own my OCs, and that's about it. All credit to the folks at Bioware that brought this game into the world. If you love the setting, send the mail to them not me.

Now that that's out of the way, I can talk about the story. Ah, Self-Inserts, what a love-hate relationship I have with thee. If you're reading this, then you should most definitely read the stories of Inf3ctioNZ, Herr Wozzeck and DelVarO since they're all far better than my inane scribblings. Honestly, I wanted to do more on my other fic, Spearhead, before I wrote something different but when it flows you go for it, I guess. Don't worry, this won't be a massively long introduction. We'll be on the Citadel in chapter three (I promise) and the action will start immediately afterwards. I know some people might be bothered at the pacing, but with a story as epic as the entire ME trilogy, you need some introduction. But yeah, please let me know what you think, leave a review or PM, it'd mean the world to me. Even if it's crap, then wheres nowhere to go but up. Until next time, see you all later!