Thursday, May 5, 2011

ME1 - Doomed From The Start

Tonight begins the story of the Normandy's Commander Meriel Shepard via Mass Effect on PC.  If you missed it, be sure to read her introduction which lays out the character's personal background and motivations.  Since writing that, a couple of other character guidelines have emerged regarding interactions with others.  They are as follows.

Conversations with Normandy Crew - Meriel treats them with respect, but is reserved in what she will say to them.  Any information she divulges to them is on a need-to-know basis only.  At all other times she requests that they simply follow orders.

Conversations with Team Members - For the moment Meriel is keeping herself at an emotional distance from her team members.  Since she is relatively new to everyone on the team, she doesn't yet know who she can trust.  Since they work closely in the field though, honesty is key.  She will tell them the most pertinent information about their missions and likewise will tell them if they have done well or if they have screwed up.

Conversations with Captain Anderson -  The Captain and Meriel appear to have a very close working relationship with a great deal of trust already existing between them.  Her conversation choices are respectful and defer to his rank when the two of them are in the company of others.  When speaking in private, however, Meriel is brutally honest and doesn't hold back if there is something on her mind.  Anderson appears to feel the same way since he is also very open with her.

Conversations with The Ambassador and The Council - Meriel adopts a polite tone when speaking with both of these parties.  She has no love for politics, but understands that things generally must remain civil if anything is to be decided.  You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  She may lose her cool if the other party is being particularly thick, but then she quickly regains her composure and doesn't let her emotions rule day.  That said, she sees political red tape as an impediment to actually getting things done, and recommends that the consultation of appropriate political parties be forgone if possible.  In some cases it is easier to ask for forgiveness then it is to ask for permission ... especially when the Council is biased against you from the start.

On the Subject of Spectres - She dislikes the autonomy they have since it makes them unpredictable.  She is not against the general concept, but Meriel mistrusts other individuals to make the right decisions when acting under their own volition.  In combat situations she sees their unpredictability as a liability.

There are spoilers after the break.  Continue reading at your own risk.

Meriel's Journal, Entry One

Location: The Normandy
Active Companions: None

I'm beginning to finally get used to the Normandy's crew. Most everyone holds me at a professional distance, as they should, but I have found the ship's navigator, Joker, to be quite amiable.  He seems well attuned to those aboard the ship, and I sense that he uses wit and bravado to hide the fact that he is a quick thinker and smarter then he lets on.  While I have spent some time in the company of others, particularly Kaidan Alenko, I have not actually bonded with anyone besides the captain.  Captain Anderson understands my value as a member of his crew and he treats me as such.  We do not mince words with each other and as a result our discussions are generally frank, to the point, and very informative. 

One thing that has been increasingly difficult to ignore is the fact that almost all of the Normandy's crew is ill at ease.  They have been told that our upcoming mission to Eden Prime is a simple retrieval mission, but the Spectre Nihlus' presence aboard leads them to believe that there is more at stake here.  I tend to echo their suspicions, and don't trust the Spectre myself, but you won't find me telling anyone except maybe Joker that.  When Navigator Pressley asked me to share what I knew with him, I told him to mind his own business.  Even if I did know what was going on, that information is clearly not mine to share.

If I'm not dealing with restless crew it seems like I've got overeager soldiers under my feet.  Corporal Jennings seems to worship the ground I walk on, and I am more than a little uncomfortable with that.  I don't regret my actions on the mission to Torfen, the target after all was thoroughly eliminated, but even I can't deny that we lost a number of good men that day.  I may not be ashamed of my actions, but that doesn't mean my ego is so large that it must be fanned by corporals still wet behind the ears.  Jennings is so desperate to be a hero that he is like to get himself killed should he not focus on the goal at hand.  I quite sternly told him as much.  He didn't like hearing what I had to say, but someone has to keep his feet on the ground.  He has time enough to "show the brass what [he] can do" and if he doesn't scale back his desire to be a hero then his careless actions might inadvertently end up getting us all killed.  He must learn to just follow orders first.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Two

Location: The Normandy, Comm Room
Active Companions: None

Captain Anderson wanted to see me this afternoon in the Comm Room.  I assumed he wanted to brief me on our upcoming mission to Eden Prime.  When I arrived there though, the Spectre Nihlus was already present and said that he wanted to see me before the Captain himself arrived.  That should have been a sign that the rest of today would not go so well.  I can't say that I trust Nihlus.

Nihlus is apparently here to evaluate my suitability for Spectre-hood.  I must say that the Spectre's freedom would certainly have its benefits, but it would have been lovely for someone to have asked me if I wanted to get roped into their political power games.  My actions on Torfen have apparently made me a prime candidate to be the first human Spectre, and I'm aware that this is an honor, but I wish I had known that was why Nihlus has been poking his alien head about this whole mission.  Now I have even less reason to trust him then before.  My personal issues (i.e. sudden  Spectre-hood candidacy) has to be put on hold for now though.  The captain has assigned Alenko and Jennings to my retrieval team and we are being sent down to a suddenly hostile Eden Prime to bring back this beacon.  Politics can wait.  Nihlus has declared that he will be going with us so that he can observe my actions, but thankfully he has decided to scout on ahead so I won't have to have him tagging at my heels and getting in the way of my work.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Three

Location: Eden Prime
Active Companions: Alenko/Jennings, Alenko/Williams

Well it would be difficult to say that our mission to Eden Prime went well.  In fact, as I have just been quite frankly told by the captain himself, we failed.  I very quickly told him that we failed due to lack of intelligence and no knowledge of what was going on down at the surface, but that is a discussion for another time.

The geth attacks began the moment we set foot on Eden Prime's soil.  Jennings, who you may remember had been itching for a fight, didn't last much longer then that.  He clearly had not taken my words to heart and in his, now permanent, absence Alenko and I were left to continue on our own.  I'm sure that the military will collect his body with the rest of the dead we found, but I couldn't be worried with that then.  I, like everyone else on the Normandy, miss Jennings.  Sure he was annoyingly over-enthusiastic, but he was still a member of the crew.  The fact of the matter is though, that in those first moments he let his enthusiasm get the best of him.  Not only did he get himself killed, but he endangered out mission by leaving me with one man less to guard my back.  Any sorrow I feel for his loss will be dealt with in private.  I can't give the other wet-earred recruits on board the idea that there was something heroic or noble about what Jennings did.  His "heroic" rush from cover into unknown hostile territory was nothing but sheer stupidity.

Thankfully I was not one man short for too long.  A bit of exploring led Alenko and I to a clearing where gunnary chief Ashley Williams was fighting for her life.  With our help we managed to beat off her geth attackers, but we discovered soon thereafter that the rest of her unit had not been so lucky.  She had been fighting desperately to stay alive since the distress call Captain Anderson, Nihlus, and I received not too long before.  Thankfully she is a very dedicated soldier, and was more interested in making the geth pay for her unit's deaths then she was in licking her wounds.  I haven't known her long enough to make a judgement of her character, but I initially like Williams a great deal and feel like I can trust her at my back.  If nothing else she has both spirit and dedication to her mission.  Both are admirable qualities.

Once we were certain that Williams was not physically affected by her ordeal, we all set out once more in search of this beacon.  A great deal happened but there is no need to detail it all here.  Instead, I shall simply mention the key points since the Captain has already been briefed.

1)   The geth apparently have some new technology  which seems to insta-kill their foes  via skewering.  Instead of actually dying, however, it turns the victims into some kind of electricity wielding zombie.  We found this out the hard way when Williams’ entire crew decided to come back to life.  I think that we should look into this more and we if we can’t discover what exactly is behind this.  Leaving all those electronic spires all over the place seems like a very expensive venture and makes me wonder if there isn’t some unknown major funder behind them.  Plus, we can’t forget that the geth haven’t been a threat for ages. Their sudden appearance of Eden Prime is and of itself disturbing.
2)      Well I may not have been a fan of Nihlus, but that didn’t mean I wished him dead.  One very frightened dock worked saw the Spectre Saren shoot Nihlus in the back of his head.  It appears that Saren has gone rogue and is now working with the geth.  See?  This is why I don’t like dealing with these guys.  I, of course, would not misuse that kind of power, but the mere fact that Spectres have that much power and that much financial backing from the Council means that they are more likely to misuse it.  You can’t trust them and you can’t anticipate their movements.  That in and of itself is dangerous.  The current situation on Eden Prime is clearly more serious than we originally thought.  The one (very minor) upside of this whole deal is that with Nihlus’ passing (no I’m not rejoicing in his murder) maybe the whole turn-Meriel-Spectre issue will be dropped.
3)      That stupid beacon we were supposed to retrieve kept moving about.  So much for a simple retrieval mission.  Saren managed to transport it to the spaceport and then tried to hide any evidence that he was there by blowing the spaceport up.  We managed to diffuse his bombs in time (meanwhile killing off his geth support team) but we weren’t so lucky when it came to actual beacon retrieval.  This particular piece of technology seems to have some kind of lure to it.  It started glowing in an odd manner just before Alenko started walking towards it like an entranced zombie.  I managed to knock him out of the way just in time to get myself zapped.  This ofcourse rendered me unconscious.  With the beacon “used up” there was nothing to retrieve and the mission was a failure.  Take that Spectre committee.  Now, unfortunately, a number of rather power individuals are not happy with me and all I have to show for Eden Prime is my bruised pride and a very disturbing vision.  My beacon inducing vision showed us all dying.  Please let that just be a dream.

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