Mass Effect: Earthborn

Based on the popular Mass Effect universe, this story begins 2169 where it follows the series protagonist, Commander Shepard, during her years in the ghetto of New York City, before she joined the Alliance. It details how a 15 year old Shepard navigates her difficult life, dealing with school, love, her friends and her affiliation with the 10th Street Reds gang.

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5. It Starts With an Email

 

Chapter #05

It Starts With an Email

 

 

 

 

 

10.22 a.m., November 1st, 2169

The ‘Graffiti Wall’ in Harlem, New York City.

 

The artwork was amazing right here. Literally thousands of different artists had left their mark, however small or big, on this wall. The ‘vandalized’ area of the wall was about 200 yards wide and went at least as far vertically.

Even though it would count as vandalism, the ‘Graffiti Wall’ in Harlem had become quite famous. So much so that there was an entire site on the extranet devoted to it, and it was one of the minor tourist attractions on Manhattan.

We were all here, the entire gang. This was where we would usually hang out; on the staircase that lead down to the open space where the wall was located.

As I was baking in the sun, I looked down towards the wall where Rachel and Sabrina were had broken off from the group with some spray cans. They had been going out for almost a month now. They had bonded over their artistic side, since they both liked, and were very talented at, drawing, painting and ‘vandalizing’.

They looked cute as they were down there, spraying some color that had yet to take the shape of anything specific.

I sighed again for the third time in an hour. It was the heat. The summer had stretched quite a bit longer than usual, so despite the fact it was November, my omni-tool told me that it was 68°F. Those who actually had a jacket had just thrown it down on the ground.

“I’m bored!” Mark suddenly proclaimed. I looked up. He was sitting a couple of steps further up, wearing a wife-beater and some baggy pants.

“So think of something” Sasha said. She was the beautiful girl of the group, the Mary Sue of the group. That was my conclusion when we had a theme in class about the different archetypes of fiction. Basically, there were no obvious flaws about Sasha.

She was beautiful, clever, athletic, a social butterfly and she was leaning up against her boyfriend: Eric.

“He needs to have a brain to do that” Eric said while looking directly into the sun with his eyes shielded behind his stylish sunglasses.

“Yea? Well screw you Eric” Mark countered. It’s not that Mark was dumb, he was just more brawn than brain and he had a habit of doing things before thinking them through.

At that moment, Danny came back. He was almost Eric’s polar opposite: more brain than brawn, but like Mark, he had a problem with thinking. At least when it came to smart mouthing bullies. I couldn’t count on all my fingers and toes how many times I had saved him from some punk who weighed more than Danny three times over in pure muscle mass.

“What are we talking about?” he asked while carrying the sodas he had bought for the group.

“Mark is bored again” I answered while I sucked up as much vitamin D as possible.

“So race him” Danny suggested as he sat down.

“He’ll lose. Again.” Eric said while smiling.

“No I won’t!” Mark tried to defend his honor as an athlete.

“Prove it” I simply said, with an intentionally arrogant tone.

As quick as his legs and gravity would allow him, Mark stood up. “Oh yea? Well we’ll see about that Ice Queen!” He was terribly enthusiastic, thinking that he could win this time.

It wasn’t because he knew that Ice Queen was my ‘codename’ with the Reds, but it was a nickname that had, more or less, stuck to me during the last couple of months.

Like Mark, I jumped to my feet. “Danny, pick a location for us.”

Danny’s omni-tool lit up on his arm and after a few seconds, he had a point for us to run to.

“One mile that way,” Danny said and pointed towards a group of buildings up the stairs, “There is a McDonald’s on the corner of an intersection. The first one, who gets there and back here, wins.”

I smiled and looked at Mark. “Ready?”

He nodded and smiled back at me.

“Alright, go!” Danny said, and we sped off.

Mark immediately sprinted down the street, seeing that he couldn’t get through the cluster of buildings since there was a tall fence that was blocking the entrance into an alleyway between the buildings. That strategy would require him to run via the streets and add half a mile extra to his route.

While the fence would be too tall for him, I could easily scale it, and so I did. I ran towards the alleyway and when I reached it, I ran up the wall and jumped to the top of the fence, grabbing it with one hand and launched my body to the other side.

I didn’t give myself time to relax after the landing, but instead I kept speeding up to gain momentum.

I made a right turn, then a left and then a right again and then I entered a small playground for the children that lived in the buildings.

The grass was well kept and the playground was almost new. Looking forward, I saw that my exit from the playground was blocked by a series of one yard tall walls that separated some gardens, but that was hardly a problem.

As I ran towards the walls and jumped them by placing one hand on the wall and launching myself over, I felt like I did when I was running towards apartment 5-12 a couple of months earlier; I was once again on the edge of the world.

Like predicted, I reached the intersection after only 10 minutes, and Mark was nowhere in sight. I made it across the intersection to the McDonald’s and took a quick snapshot of myself, in front of the sign, with my omni-tool.

When I crossed the intersection again by walking, my eye caught the sight of Mark about 500 yards down the street, turning a corner and sprinting at the same time. I threw him a quick smile, and then disappeared into the alleyway from which I came, and I was back at the Graffiti Wall in 10 minutes.

The first thing I noticed when I came back was that Rachel and Sabrina had rejoined the others on the steps and they were all looking at their work of art.

The picture showed one human solder in full armor and with an assault rifle, charging a Blood Pack krogan with an assault rifle in one hand, and a fully charged omni-blade in the other.

I had never seen a krogan myself, and from reputation I didn’t much care for them, but I had seen plenty of pictures in school to know one when I see one.

The solders face was covered by a helmet with a black visor, but clear as day were the red armor stripe on his right arm and the small, but very distinct N7 emblem on the chest piece of his armor.

The new piece of art was truly fantastic, not only in detail but also in scale, as the two combatants was almost twice as tall as the artists themselves.

It was clearly inspired by Rachel’s dad, who was in fact an Alliance marine. But he wasn’t just a marine. Rachel had once showed me the N7 medal that her father had worn on his dress uniform, which meant that he was among the best human Special Forces operators in existence.

She also told me that he was reported KIA after a large Blood Pack raid on a group of cruisers and frigates that was transporting colonists to a new world. He and his unit were posthumously awarded with the Star of Terra because they stayed behind when the lifeboats launched, to ensure that everyone got off the cruisers.

Not long after that, Rachel’s mother was killed in a hit and run accident.

The day she told me that story, was the first day that she had cried into my arms, so by now, she had probably cried into Sabrina’s arms too.

It saddened me to think, that someone would’ve painted over that in a couple of weeks because they disliked the Alliance, so I took another screenshot with my omni-tool.

As we stood there and admired the excellent artwork, Mark got back. “You lost Mark” I simply said and continued looking at the newest addition to the Graffiti Wall.

My omni-tool was what brought me out of my near-trance-like state. “You have one new email in your inbox” it said through the ear-piece I had left in my ear.

I dug into my backpack for my datapad. I could read the mail on my omni-tool, but the holographic interface wasn’t really suitable for reading on, for that I preferred the solid background of a datapad.

I opened my mailbox and read the new message:

 

From: BW_SharpShot1212@bluesuns.omega

Sent: 12.23 a.m. (local time)

To: k_shepard@gmail.com

Subject: Retribution, BITCH!!!

______________________________________________________________

You BITCH!!!

You killed my friend you little whore! MY FRIEND! Do you even have ANY FUCKING idea who I am?!?!?!

Well, it doesn’t fucking matter, cause I’m gonna kill ya for it! You hear me? I’m gonna kill you! I’m gonna kil you so much that you wish that I never found your little human ass!

And its not just you! I’ll make your friends suffer too! And when I torture them, and they ask why, I’ll say that it’s because of YOU!

Be aware shepard, be FUCKING aware!!!

-      R

 

 

I swallowed my saliva, but somehow, it wouldn’t go down.

My blood, it sped up and raced to my head, or maybe it stopped running all together. I wasn’t sure.

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