This writing sample was an Ars Technica contest submission and a tribute to a game series I enjoy: Mass Effect. This text is a complete work of (fan) fiction, taking place during the two years between Mass Effect 1 and 2.
Mission Log: Conrad Verner, 2184 CE
I can’t believe how bad things have gotten since Commander Shepard died. It’s only been a year and I’ve taken on 8 cases. Man I wish I had the backing of the Citadel. These crate crawls for 50, 100 credits… 200 on a good day. I still haven’t paid off my official unofficial life-size N7 replica armor, with real varren leather interior I might add. Itches like a bastard though. Doesn’t even have a waste filtration unit. I got into a… messy situation on a long stakeout once. How did the commander wear this all the time?
Today was the absolute worst. I got a tip about an illegal weapons shipment supposedly passing through Illium on its way to Omega. It was being transported by a batarian named Jakan’Di sometime in the next week. I’d been watching for anything suspicious in the cargo transfer levels for days and just when I was about to move on, I noticed a batarian this afternoon. I followed him to the shipyard and watched him load a couple of crates onto a docking ship. I had seen enough.
“Freeze! Hands where I can see them!” He stopped and crossed his arms. “Who the hell are you?” “Alliance Inter-galactic peace officer, Spectre-in-training! I’m seizing those weapons you’re moving!” I advanced on the crates with my sidearm leveled at him and proceeded to hack the crates. “What weapons?! Stop! It wasn’t easy collecting those!” he shouted. “Tch, I’m sure it wasn’t,” I replied. “No! Don’t open the-” I’m suddenly on my back.
Turns out the so-called “weapons” were two packs of varren. It was total chaos in an instant. I didn’t know what was going on so I started shooting at anything that moved. One of those conveyor lifts exploded and dropped its cargo on the batarian. Alarms starting going off. I knew Illium security would come quickly and those guys don’t mess around. I had to get out.
Unfortunately, one of the varren had left a gift behind as it scrambled out of the crate. I slipped on something better left unspecified and was knocked out. I woke up in an interrogation room with an Asari staring at me. She probably poked around my mind while I was out. Wait, can they do that while you’re unconscious? “Care to explain why Asari commandos just spent the last 2 hours hunting varren?”
Of course I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that I smelled like… well something, and they wouldn’t let me clean myself! I finally got them to release me after an hour of arguing when one of the guards came back with a shipping manifest. It listed a known Blood Pack leader as the recipient. “Nice job ‘spectre-in-training’. You managed to release a group of wild Varren, cause thousands of credits in property damage, and anger a group of mercenaries. But don’t worry, you can work this off. Welcome to your new home.”