Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ME1 - Visit From The Past

You can run, but you just can't hide ...

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

Meriel's Journal, Entry Fourteen

Location: The Normandy - Captain's Office
Active Companions: None

These last weeks I've had to come to terms with the fact that my past will never go away.  I'm not perfect, and my past actions have been equally imperfect.  In fact, I've noticed lately that a great deal of my past life has been seeping into my current actions.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about that, but no matter how I feel about the matter it all boils down to one thing ... you can never escape the past.  You know, I joined the Alliance originally because I wanted something more for myself then that gang in which I ran and the urchins with which I lived.  I don't regret that part of my life, after all it helped shape me into who I have become, but that doesn't mean that I appreciate it beating down my door either. Since reaching Spectre though, I've noticed that people want to use me.  I operate outside of the law and that is useful in reaching my objective - eliminating Saren.  Apparently others see the benefit of my new position though and have come to me with this, that, or another hoping that I will operate outside of the usual channels on their behalf.  With their appeals for my interference has come a battle with my nature.  I like to think that I'm a different person than I used to be, but it's difficult to ignore offers for ill gotten gains when that is all I used to deal in.  It's all to be expected I suppose, but since the advent of my Spectrehood I have somehow been naive enough to think that they wouldn't track me down as well.  That just shows how wrong I was.  No matter what I do in the future, I guess I'll never be completely free from the Tenth Street Reds.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Fifteen

Location: The Citadel - Chora's Den
Active Companions: Garrus/Williams

I need some distance from Alenko at the moment so I took Williams along with Garrus and me to the Citadel on our post-Therum stop over.  I had some personal business to take care of and needed  someone with a level head at my back.  Right now, I'm not completely certain that Alenko is "level."  I've wondered in passing if it has somthing to do with his bionic implant, but Dr. Chakwas assured me some time ago that the only ill side effects he experiences are headaches.  I'll have to dwell on that later, so let it suffice to say that he will not be leaving the ship as part of my team for a little while unless I'm specifically in need of his skill set.  Williams on the other hand has proven herself a dependable soldier, and in the end I'm glad it was her and not Alenko who witnessed my little run in with Finch.  I know that she, of all people, will keep her mouth shut.

I wrote not too long ago that I don't regret my time with the Tenth Street Red and I meant every word of it.  Gang life is nothing to be proud of, but being part of the Reds taught me many skills I use today and most importantly life with them helped keep me alive.  No one can vouch for what my life expectancy would have been had I stayed with the Reds, but they kept this orphaned little girl alive long enough for her to get off Earth and actually make something of herself.  The problem with gangs it seems though, is that they tend to resent those who manage to get away.  It is for this very reason that I should not have been surprised (even though I was) to find Finch waiting for me outside of Chora's Den.  (I had thought to head there to see what kind of information the Citadel's seedy underbelly was willing to sell.  As it turns out, they didn't have a great deal to share.)  I recognized the bastard from moment one, but wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of letting him know that.  In hindsight, it might have been better to acknowledge his identity so that he didn't broadcast my past to Williams and Garrus who, up until that moment, lived in ignorance of my origins.  Like everyone else and their brother these days, the Reds wanted a favor from the newly minted Spectre.  In this specific case, they wanted someone by the name of Curt Weisman to be sprung from turian custody where he was being held for a "minor offense."  Since the Red's definiton of a minor offence can be anything from petty theft to outright murder, you can understand the reluctance I felt.  Hoping that I could get the gang off my back, I left Finch with a vague promise to look into it.  I, of course, had not intention of ever doing so.  I also, of course, should have know that Finch would see through my lie.

There was only one way I could handle this situation.  The Reds may have helped keep me alive when I was a little girl, but they are a gang ... not a charity.  Back then they provided me with the tools, but it was I who had to take care of the "staying alive" part.  They were merely a means to an end, and as such I owe them my thanks.  Not a debt.  With no clearly defined debt between us I was under no particular obligation to help the gang, and therefore promptly cued the main turian guard into a possible jail break.  Finch, who followed me, didn't take kindly to this turn of events, but the turian guard seemed pleased with my actions.  Finch took great exception to my "betrayal" of the reds and threatened to splash my past across the headlines for the world to see.  Had it just been me I would have said "do what you will" and walked away.  The problem is though, that like it or not, as the first human Spectre I have some responsibility to portray mankind in a positive light to all the longer established alien races.  Pacifying the Reds through bribery to leave my past be, however, doesn't sit well on any level.  I have a strict policy of not negotiating with criminals and (more importantly) never giving into blackmail.  Not only will that come back to bite you, but giving into blackmail makes you look weak.  So after a moment I glanced around, realized that I was in Chora's Den (a hive of villainy and secrecy), and thought "screw it".  I unholstered my pistol and shot the man.  Dead men, as they say, tell no tales.  The Reds won't leave me alone forever, but that was one crisis averted.  Unexpectedly, it also earned me the admiration and respect of the turian guard.  Not too shabby for a hard days work.

Deciding that to be more than enough personal business for one day, Garrus and I grabbed a drink and then all three of us headed back to the Normandy.  We didn't accomplish all I had wanted to on this visit, but I suddenly didn't feel like sticking around any longer.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Sixteen

Location: The Normandy - Captain's Office
Active Companions: None

They say things come in threes, and if that is true there must a third blast from my past waiting somewhere around the corner.  You see, while trolling the galaxy for resources to help with our fight against Saren, Joker patched in a call from the Alliance asking me to check out a particular biotic compound.  I'd heard about this compound before on the wire and thinking it might have ties to Alenko (and therefore might provide some kind of insight into his habits) had thought to check it out.  It was just my luck though that said compound has nothing to do with Alenko, and everything to do with me.  It seems that Major Kyle, a gentleman I served with back at Torfan, has since gone off the deep end and started calling himself Father Kyle.  He has amassed a (literal) cult following of biotically gifted individuals who see him as a champion for their cause.  All Alliance officers who have been sent to detain Kyle have been killed, and now (possibly because of my past with him) the Alliance wants me to take care of the situation.  In short, Major Kyle couldn't handle my decisions at Torfan, he now has an extreme case of PTSD, and he currently leads a dangerously fanatical biotic commune.  Way to guilt me into helping out.

Let me make one thing explicitly clear about Torfan.  I did what I had to do.  I wish things had gone differently, but I do not regret the decisions I made.  Torfan was a criminal base virtually brimming with batarian slavers.  You do not negotiate with slavers, you do not give into slavers, and you most certainly do not grant reprieve to slavers when they surrender.  I am willing to over look a great deal of criminal activity if there is good reason to.  Case in point, the Illusive Man on the Citadel.  His actions are reprehensible, but he serves a purpose by adding order and regulation to the criminal underbelly.  He prevents any one person from gaining a major advantage over anyone else, and as such keeps the Underworld in check.  Consider him , if you will, a necessary evil.  Slavers, however, are a different story.  These individuals make their living by bartering in human and alien flesh.  They serve no purpose and their mere existance endangers everyone born free.  My decision to wipe out the entire Torfan slavery operation (those who fought back and those who surrendered alike) cost a lot of lives for the Alliance.  I'm not proud of the fact that so many of my men died, but their actions saved the lives and secured the freedom of countless future victims.  The soldiers did not die in vain.  I know what people say about me, I know that they call me the Butcher of Torfan, and I know that they shy away from me with a mixture of awe, fear, and revulsion.  I also know that the faces of every soldier I lost during that campaign are seered into my memory.  In the end though, I would do the exact same thing again should another "Torfan" ever arise.  In many ways I understand what Major Kyle (I'm sorry ... "Father Kyle") is doing.  He is finding solace in what he knows (training others) and finding redemption through the process.  He attracts outcasts who need someone or something to believe in and he provides them with both a home and a purpose (potentially dangerous though it may be).  The problem is, in his effort to preserve his oasis, he has killed Alliance soldiers in cold blood and places his entire commune in jeopardy.  Admiral Hackett warned me that Kyle is dangerous and no longer the man I used to know.  He also warned that things may get violent.  For once, however, I hope that violence will not be the solution.  In some way I am responsible for the situation that Kyle finds himself in.  If I can extract him from the commune peacefully, I can get him the counselling and help that he needs to overcome his PTSD.  I may hear the dying cries of my soldiers every night in my dreams, and I   may have forgetten what it is like to receive a good nights sleep.  That doesn't mean, however, that "Father" Kyle must forever experience the same.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Seventeen

Location: Presrop - Biotic Compound
Active Companions: Garrus/Liara

All in all, my "raid" of Kyle's biotic compound went perfectly.  Understandably the Major was not happy to see me, but in the end I was able to make him see reason.  He says that he did not want to hurt anyone, and despite his murder of Alliance soldiers, I believe him.  He panicked, acted without thinking, and unfortunately must live with the results.  More than anything, Kyle seemed afraid to leave his "innocent flock" behind but I was able to gently remind him that with the Alliance breathing down his neck, seeking retribution for the dead officers, he has endangered those he seeks to protect.  The Major left with me willingly and I hope he receives the care he needs to recover.  I hate to see what the years of guilt and pain had done to this good man.  In many ways it makes me wonder how I emerged from Torfan as intact as I did.  It also makes me wonder if I really emerged intact at all or if I have simply been fooling myself all this time - keeping myself so busy that there is no time to think about that nightmarish, defining moment in my career.  I'd best not dwell on it too long, or I too might go insane.

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