I sighed and stared at the Relay before me. Shepard was getting ready to do Goddess or God or string of AI code knows what and I for one was not going to get caught in the backlash. Again. No! I was getting the fuck out of this futuristic Earth and back to my quiet early 21st century Earth where Ramen was not a fucking delicacy.
I never should have made that deal with the dude at the bar. Trading Grandmama's necklace to that douche for the chance to explore other realms? Yeah that's been stupid. That's what I had been, drunk and stupid. Or at least that's what I wanted to believe. Truth be told I wanted to get away from Earth.
Who knew that other realities and realms existed? Not me, at least not outside of a good book or MMORPG. I hoped and dreamed that they existed but didn't really believe. Now? Now all I wanted to do was go home and I'd been so close for so long.
Mordin. Mordin was the key to figuring this shit out. He was a hard Salarian to track down but fuck me sideways I did it. Even though I knew where he was going to be I always arrive too late. Well, not this time and I would be damned if Shepard was going to get me killed, or turned into half organism half machine. Whatever Shepard chose it would affect the whole galaxy, the games had been stupid like that and I'd been stuck in the middle of her gorgeous ass shaking shit since day one.
Yeah, I'd been on the Citadel when the Reaper showed up and nearly blew it to pieces. After that I decided nope, I'm done here gonna get the hell out. Sure it was nice having strong enough biotics that I could rip through bulk heads, but what good would that do me if I was dead?
Well it didn't exactly pan out that way. Thankfully between the brilliant Salarian and myself and the Prothean AI Vigil out on Ilos—yup got to talk to him before he went dark—I managed to create a device that would allow me to jump through to a different reality of my choosing. Mordin had been fascinated by the possibilities of the Multi Verse theory and I would have taken him if he hadn't…
I wiped a tear from my eye. That singing Salarian had stolen my heart during game two and damn it, it hurt more to watch him die in real life.
"No time like the present." I whispered as I leaned forward and fiddled with the FTL drives. I had to be mid jump through the Relay's when I turned it on. I probably had only one chance before the EZO core burnt out and I fried my neural synapses. Whatever, if I lived, if I died… it didn't matter. I just wanted to go home. Where bacon was still a thing.
I'd been here for years and I wasn't sure what new things existed on Earth, or if the time lines were the same. If they were then thank Bob I was going to die well before being subjected to element zero and well before Prothean tech was discovered on Mars. I would be happy living out my days on an ignorant Earth where the biggest problem we had was skin color and religious fractions.
Not crazy giant space ships made from organic races that disappeared from the galaxy and a never ending cycle of death. The Reapers were so messed up it wasn't even funny and holy shit would I be glad to be to bury my head in the sand. I could go back and play video games—how close they had been to the truth was laughable and I was convinced that someone—A divine being or something—was putting this information on Earth because they wanted humanity to be ready for when First Contact was initiated.
Well I would be dead by then so score one for me!
That and I'd be human again. I cannot tell you how weird it was to wake up and have mandibles and no hair. Turians eat, sleep, and breathe military ideals. Yeah I served, because there had been no other option. That's how I met Garrus. Nice Turian with a rebellion streak a mile wide. Helped him out a time or two when he was Archangel on Omega. That had been fun as hell.
And the first time Mordin had slipped through my fingers. Yeah, I had been too slow and too infatuated with Garrus to go looking for him. To give me credit, once Shepard arrived and I knew Mordin would be on the ship it was too little too late because her gorgeous red headed self moved quickly when she got an idea in her head.
That's how I knew that I needed to get out of this realm and back to my own time as soon as possible. Because Jane Shepard was a force to be reckoned with and so help me I didn't want to see her face ever again outside of my TV screen.
"Please work." I pleaded as I flicked the switch. My fingers flew over the control boards as I prepped the sequence to connect to the Relay. Once I was in transit it was a simple—not but I worked hard to make it simple—flick of a switch to turn on the sub reality field that would hone in on the slight variation in my DNA—I checked yes it exists—and toss me back into my reality. Once there it was only a matter of drifting back to Earth and hiding the ship in the bottom of the ocean because I would not be responsible for our jump in technology that would bring us closer to destruction.
Mordin was so brilliant and most of this had been his idea. I had no clue how to go about any of this.
"Mordin I swear I will never forget you." I breathed out as lightning started to swirl around the Relay. My fingers moved to increase the speed of my little pod. "Thank you old friend."
My little ship jumped and rattled as the connection was made. As soon as the stars blurred into lines I knew that I was going fast enough for the field to take effect. Reaching out I turned the switch to the 'on' position—I'd heard no end of shit from Mordin about that—and held my breath.
That's when the lights on the control panel started going wild. Bright red lights started flashing at me and to be bluntly honest I panicked. Buttons were mashed—I was not a piolet—and the sub reality device at my feet gave off a loud annoying sound. Hope surged, Mordin said that it would probably do that.
The ship continued to jolt around. It was getting so bad that I thought it was going to fall to pieces. When suddenly a planet was around us and 'Collision imminent' started blaring over the speakers.
"Bitch!" I screamed as I took manual control of the ship. Tears welled up in my eyes as silver blonde hair fell into my vision and I had five fingers on each hand again. "I did it! Mordin you handsome Salarian if you were here I'd kiss you!"
Then a glacier shot into existence around me and I blacked out upon impact.
Groaning I pushed myself from the wreckage. The ship had been small and I was okay with losing it. I knew that I couldn't keep it once I got back to Earth but damn if it didn't make it harder to dispose of it.
Turns out it wasn't a glacier I hit, but a mountain covered in snow. Somehow the ship had held together and the seat belt saved my life. Who knew?
And I would have to do it all myself because humans were greedy bastards that would sneak a piece or two of this tech and then I'd be fucked and it wasn't going to go down like that.
A smile lit my face. My hands touched the skin of my cheeks and ran through my hair. I was home. I never thought I'd be here again. I stashed money—purchased with credits from collectors of ancient currency—for this purpose. Hopefully I was somewhere in Europe. That's where I'd been when I left the first time and it would be so cool if I could just pick up where I left off.
I picked up a piece of the outer hull and threw it toward the rest of the wreckage. Sighing I ran my fingers through my hair again and started to gather it up into a messy bun. Hair was nice but I forgot about how time consuming it was to—
"Oh no what the fuck is!" I broke off and patted the side of my head. Ears, longer than normal and pointy. "No no no no nonononononononononononono!" The words slurred together as I ran. I don't know where I was going but I needed to find something reflective. A mirror a shard of glass or ice.
Ice was prolific in this area. The trees grew tall and snow covered everything in sight. Smoke curled lazily in the distance and… wooden hut.
I don't know where I was, but this sure as hell wasn't early 21st century Earth. This was no Earth as I knew it.
Well, I probably wasn't going to find a mirror here. What I probably would find—and be lucky to find—would be a piece of polished brass or silver. Because a wooden wagon and horses were kicking around the hut that stood dozens of yards away from me. I forced my eyes to close and slowly started to count backwards from fifty. Ten wasn't going to cut it here. I had tried, and failed, to return home and while I'm sure she didn't mean to do it, Shepard was the source of my distress again.
She'd destroyed the Relay's while I had initiated the travel and through that the desired destination had been altered. I was in a different reality were elves existed.
There goes my theory about some divine creature planting video games—or some of them—on Earth to prep us for the future. Because this sure as hell wasn't the future. This was the distant past, the steam engine hadn't even been created yet. Were video games simply doors into other realities? Or were those realities born because of the video games?
"Who knows?" I shrugged. It was better to get information on where I currently was than debate up on my strange existence born of realm hopping.
Slowly I took stock of what was at my disposal. Gently I ran my fingers across the base of my skull. That had been where the biotic implant had been.
Had been because it was gone. Well it seems that when I hopped realities I not only gain a different appearance but any modification to the old body vanished as well. I lifted my shirt and peered at my stomach. Though it seems some things from my original body followed me no matter what happened.
Shirt. I had new clothes. My skin was pale, scantly darker than the snow that surrounded me. I was shorter than I had been, and definitely more delicate than a Turian could ever hope to be. No, Turians were bad asses with an exoskeleton and razor sharp teeth. My teeth were blunt and straight.
Back on Earth I had several tattoos and a piercing or two. It had been mind therapy. Shit hit the fan? Get a tattoo. Rent's late? Shove a piece of metal through my eyebrow. I'd spent a lot of money on these things and I was slightly upset that it seemed I still did not get them back. It wasn't something that I could have done as a Turian because the tattoo needle wouldn't have penetrated my skin.
I could start over here, I guess. At least there wasn't anything here that was screwing with my existence. No giant AI ships hell bent on ending all space fairing civilizations to create a new Reaper.
I didn't think I was getting out of this reality. Not with how the technology here looked. Which was nonexistent. Sighing I pushed the shirt down and started toward the hut and hopefully the people inside.
I shivered in the snow, my clothes not stopping the ice cold wind. It cut through me like I was made of paper and when I made it the short distance to the house I was positive that my white skin was blue and my lips would be purple.
It burned to knock on the door. Hope bubbled up again when I heard movement on the inside of the building. When it opened I saw a large male, human—so they did exist. He took up most of the opening and when his gaze settled on my ears his eyes hardened.
"What do you want stranger?" His voice was deep and brooked no argument. The heat that flowed past him brushed over my skin and I sighed in relief. I didn't care if he was a racist asshole, I would work off any food or clothing he could spare. My body almost collapsed but I forced myself to stay upright. I'd been through worse and snow was not going to stop me. His gaze softened when he took a moment to gaze at the rest of me.
"I can work." I stuttered out, teeth chattering on every syllable, "I am lost and food and clothes would be appreciated."
He didn't even sigh at me, just nodded and stepped back. "What kind of work can you do?"
Pretty much anything. From fixing the drive core of a ship to cooking. "All kinds." I walked inside his house. I expected less than what he had. The room was warm. A merry fire crackled along one wall and a pot of bubbling stew hung over it. There were not individual rooms, it was just one large space. A wall jutted out and cast a shadow. That must have been where his bed was. There was a rough wooden table and chairs off to one side. Herbs hung from the ceiling. Tools were propped up against the walls.
And he lived alone. There was no one else here but him, and only one bowl on the table. He had not been expecting company.
A blanket smacked into my back and I gasped as it hit bare skin. What the actual hell? I had a shirt on and—I swiped my hand across my back. It was apparently reduced to tatters. Quickly I wrapped the blanket around me and stood in the center of the room.
"What brings you out this far?" He asked as he pulled another bowl from a cupboard. He filled it with stew and set it across from his bowl. His accent was so slight it almost wasn't there.
"I'm not sure." I stated as I sat across from him. Once he started to eat again I tucked into the food. It was better than expected. Not quite as bland as I thought it would be. Flavor exploded on my tongue on the second bite and a strange meat that tasted delicious.
"Not sure?" He asked, eyeing me closely.
Now see… this is one of the parts I hated most about realm hopping. You had to fabricate a back story. And I wasn't all that creative. So should I just go with amnesia? Probably.
"Honestly?" I replied as I gazed back at him, refusing to blink or look away. "I can't remember. I just… snow and cold." I shrugged and took another bite.
"You have a name?" His tone was cautious. Normally I would have given him the name I'd gone by on Palaven. Though something told me that Nitana was not a good name for this place. Surely something more along the lines of Rachel or Miranda would fit better.
"I…" slightly shaking my head, best to pretend I didn't have one, "don't know."
He nodded as if I gave the right answer. "Fair enough." He glanced toward a window. "Its getting late, you'll start work in the morning. I warn you, I'll work you hard."
Phrasing. I almost giggled at him but somehow managed to stop in time. "I would expect no less, sir."
Ah… military life. Sir and Ma'am drilled into your every waking being.
He grunted, "Name's Stefan. No need to call me sir just cause you're an elf."
Confusion wound through me, why exactly would I call him sir because my ears were pointed?
"Of course, si-Stefan."
"You can take the bed." So he wasn't racist after all. I would have thought he give me the floor. "I'll wake you when it's time to start."
Stefan did not lie, he worked me very hard. Soon the snow melted and spring took root. A garden was planted and occasionally Stefan would leave me alone for days at a time. I gained his trust and he allowed me to stay.
He showed me how to do many things, from riding and shoeing a horse to shooting a bow. He taught me how to skin an animal and to set snares for rabbits. It wasn't very often but he would come home with a strange deer like creature. I learned to preserve meat and how to live off the land. I felt very much like a pioneer.
I think he liked the company. Still I didn't know where I was, it seemed strange to ask. How would I know if I couldn't remember anything?
He gave me a name, something he debated on long and hard. Finally he settled on Luna. He blushed slightly when he gave it to me but stated that it fit my pale appearance. It did. Once, when I said I couldn't remember how I looked, he took me to a lake that was nearby.
It was… disturbing. My hair, I knew was silver blonde, but I wasn't aware of my features or the color of my eyes. Everything was pale. My skin never darkened even though I worked every day in the sun next to Stefan. My eyes were a pale blue. Stefan compared them to the ice in the south, on mountain tops that were forever covered in snow. I had high cheek bones and a straight petite nose. A steep cupid's bow claimed my upper lip and a full lower lip completed the picture. I was stunning, and it scared me. A face like mine drew attention, and I didn't like attention.
Summer replaced spring and he celebrated a particular day he called Summerday. It was marked by a larger than normal dinner and music. Something that he rarely did. He pulled out a small flute and played several songs, his fingers nimble across the instrument.
The holiday was… strangely familiar but I couldn't remember specifically where it was from. It was so generic it could have come from anywhere.
Then war came. It didn't spill into our household like it had so many others. Stefan heard of it while visiting the local village for supplies. That's when he taught me hand to hand combat. But I already knew. I wiped the floor with him, sort of. My body didn't move like it had while I was a Turian. I was limited, and my punches lacked the power they normally had. But he didn't beat me.
"Where'd you learn that?" He asked as I helped him up.
I smiled sadly down at him, "I don't-"
"Remember." He nodded and laughed, "Well Luna you'll just have to keep me safe."
He wrapped his arms around me and planted a kiss on the top of my head. I would. I would keep him safe forever. Stefan was a good man, a kind man. He took me in, gave me a home and something to look forward to everyday.
Stefan opened the door and walked inside. I had a chunk of boar roasting over the fire and mashed potatoes waiting for him.
"We've to go somewhere." He couldn't meet my gaze.
"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow and crossed the room toward him. "Where are we going?" It was the first time he told me I had to go somewhere. Other times it was an offer, would you like to join me or I'm headed into town, care to go for a ride not 'we have to go'. Like it was an obligation.
"I've been called," he still wouldn't meet my gaze. "It isn't safe for you here, not with me gone." His tone was pleading. If he, who knew the extent of my capabilities, was insisting that it wasn't safe, something was seriously wrong.
"Where are we going?"
"That's it?" He looked at me finally. "No argument?" A smile pulled the corner of his lips.
Several years of Military service drilled into me did not allow for arguments against orders. I followed and obeyed. At least… I had. Somethings were difficult to shake.
"You wouldn't tell me to go unless it was important."
He sighed, "I thought I was going to have to tie you up and drag you."
"Oh no…" I smiled wickedly at him. "You could tie me up for different reasons though."
A smile that matched mine split his face and I let out a squeal of delight as he threw me over his shoulder.
I woke early the next morning. A quiet hiss slipped through my teeth. I couldn't remember my dreams, but they woke me often and when they did there was a fine sheen of sweat that coated my skin. Whatever my dreams were, they scared the living day lights out of me.
Stefan lay next to me still, his body partially wrapped around mine. I flipped his arm off my bare stomach and started to dress.
"Luna." He whispered as I stood, stomping my feet into their proper position inside the boots. They didn't fit very well but what could I expect.
"Yes?" I turned to look at him. His brown eyes full of an emotion I didn't want to put a name too. I'd tarried too long here, I should have moved on long before but now… Now I didn't want to.
"Promise me you'll stay safe." He looked very worried.
"You're scaring me slightly." I chuckled as I moved back toward the bed and him.
"Promise." He insisted.
I blinked and regarded him evenly, "Alright, I promise. Now, what is this all about?"
"There are talks of peace." He looked away, I didn't often inquire about what was going on in the world. I didn't want to know, because I if I know me—and I did—my stupid bleeding heart would make me do something stupid. "My old life has caught up with me and one of my Order has come forward asking that I attend to ensure the safety of the Divine."
Again, that word niggled the back of my brain. Such a common word but… I had no idea what to do with it. So familiar but so strange. I felt that I should know what these things meant and I was angry that I didn't.
"Very well, so let's go make the Divine safe."
We didn't speak much after that. Most of it was dressing and quiet touches. Something had spooked the man and that spooked me. He was reserved and strong, not someone that shied easily away from obligation.
He pulled out a new set of clothes and handed them to me. Leather, soft and supple under my fingertips. It was a very pale color. I knew it would have reminded him of me, everything about me was pale.
Armor. It was armor and it fit perfectly. Meaning that he had it crafted specifically for me.
I looked at him. I was fumbling with the ties for the chest piece. The pants were easy to put on, but the chest was different. It had no sleeves and cut to a 'v' shape that stopped just after the valley between my breasts. A bright blue jewel held the pieces together along with the ties. The one's that I'd been struggling with. It parted after that, flaring wide at my hips and hanging down to my knees. It would protect my back from most damage that people would inflict upon me.
He tugged and straightened until it sat comfortably upon my shoulders. I smiled up at him and pressed a kiss to the palm of his hand.
I slung my bow over my shoulder and tied a dagger to the small of my back. I learned that I was fast, light on my feet and not very durable when it came to taking blows. It made for poor tanking, but I was a helluva rogue.
"How long will we be traveling?"
"The peace talks are in little over a month." Stefan answered, "All of my Order have been issued a command to attend." He pulled a sword I'd never seen before from a section of the floor he removed moments before. A shield followed. The heralding on it looked very familiar. It looked like a two headed griffon with its wings spread wide. "The trip itself should take no more than two weeks by horse."
I nodded slowly. There were so many things about this place that were eerily familiar and it was starting to tick me off that I hadn't figured it out yet. It felt like I had lived this life before, walking these paths and known things about this place.
And I'd forgotten. Truly forgotten. Had I always traveled the realms? Or was it just my luck to meet that guy… what was his name…?
"Alright." I forced a smile on my face. He did not seem very happy. Like this trip was something that should have been avoided and he didn't make the right moves to do so. "What say we get going?"