Life is Strange: Time to be an Everyday Hero
Disclaimer: The Life is Strange franchise and its affiliated characters belong to Square Enix. All original characters are real people whose occupations have been changed. Names are used with permission.
Author's Note: This is my first story, but I really enjoyed writing it and am proud of what it turned into. I love how sometimes we are simply the vehicles for much bigger ideas! Anyway, compliments, encouragement, and constructive criticism are all welcome! I know that I am still growing as a writer. Please note that Max and Chloe both may seem slightly out of character (ooc) for this story! They likely seem a lot gentler than in the game. From a personal standpoint, it made them easier to work with! Hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1: Changing Destiny's Course
'No!' The voice in Max's head screamed as she saw the gun lifted once again toward her best friend.
In less than a second, she knew what she was going to do and her body starting working by itself. She ran out of her hiding place next to the stalls and ran toward Chloe. Then everything seemed to start moving in slow-motion.
She saw Chloe's surprised face as Max appeared in front of her vision.
She felt her feet leave the ground as she jumped toward her best friend.
She heard a loud BANG as Nathan's handgun fired a shot.
She felt a sharp pain in her stomach as the shot made contact with her.
The last thing she remembered before falling unconscious was Chloe shouting her name, full of concern for her well-being.
Max slowly opened her eyes as she began to come to.
She remembered being in class, somehow reversing time, going to the bathroom, running toward…
She sat bolt upright, before remembering that she took a bullet to the stomach.
…However, she found that she felt no pain whatsoever.
Examining the room around her, she noticed that she was alone and that someone had a really bad sense of interior design.
She was in a completely gray room. The walls were gray, the ceiling and floors were gray, and the door was…wait a minute…where was the door?
Max looked around, but could not find a door anywhere.
Fighting her panicked, claustrophobic nerves, she looked around and began to notice something.
Walls, no matter how bland their color scheme, had texture to them, whether smooth like chrome or rough like sandpaper. However, all she could see was a field of gray, and could not make out any discernable texture.
She attempted to stand up, only to find that the floors were the same as the walls around her. They seemed to extend infinitely downward, and yet she was not falling. She pushed down on the floor, and found that she encountered resistance, enough to help her stand. Still, she encountered none of the expected pain.
She walked toward where the walls would be, only to find that the gray seemed to stretch on and on without any end or any barriers of any kind.
Max felt her nerves relax somewhat as she realized that the place she was in, no matter where it was, wasn't as small as she initially believed. Still, she didn't know how to get out.
'This is beyond weird. First I rewind time, then I save Chloe by jumping in front of the bullet and then…the bullet!'
She looked around but realized that no one was around. Blushing anyway, Max slowly lifted her shirt to examine her stomach…
…which was flawless?
'Okay, I know that I took a bullet for Chloe, so why isn't there a gunshot wound here?'
"If it seems too good to be true, that's probably because it is, Maxine," said an unfamiliar voice.
Yanking her shirt back down and blushing furiously, she turned around and saw a face that seemed somewhat familiar, like she had seen it on…
"…You're the girl from the missing person posters! You're Rachel Amber!" exclaimed Max.
The girl smiled, "The one and only. You seem intelligent, if not a little reckless."
Rachel walked up to her and Max felt a little insecure. Rachel was even more gorgeous than the Missing Person posters had portrayed her as. She had dark blonde hair that was perfectly tamed and looked as smooth as silk. So much so, in fact, that Max had to hold herself back from reaching out and touching it. Rachel's hazel eyes twinkled with amusement, matching the small but not unpleasant smirk that she wore. She wore a pair of jeans with a few holes in it, a dark-colored t-shirt, and a denim jacket. She was very punk, and despite the fact that Max was far more hipster than punk, her casual style made Max feel at ease around her, if not envious of her nearly flawless physique.
Max flushed, "Well, I tend to be rather protective of my friends. I guess this time I overdid it."
Rachel shook her head, "Whether or not you overdid it is subjective, but the objective truth is that you did save Chloe and for that, you have my thanks."
Max asked, "Did you know her? I mean, I've been away for five years so I don't…"
"We were good friends. We probably could have been even closer had I not…well, we all make mistakes sometimes, and most of us have to live with those decisions…" she trailed off with a pensive look, before turning back toward Max and smirking, "…though not all of us."
Max looked embarrassed, "Look, I didn't even know that I could do that until today. I saw Chloe get shot, so my only instinct was to reach out toward her, and that was when I realized that I had reversed time." Max didn't quite realize how she knew that Rachel was referring to her 'powers', but she seemed to know more than she was letting on.
Rachel nodded, "Well, you did have powers, but apparently you're more selfless than the universe originally thought."
Max looked upset, "I would anything to protect my friends! I…I may not be brave, but if somebody means something to me, then…then I have to do something! Even if it means…even if it means something bad happens to me!" It wasn't until she finished speaking that she realized that tears had sprung to her eyes and were now streaming down her face.
Rachel's expression shifted to concern, and she walked forward and enveloped Max, who slowly relaxed into her embrace and hugged her back.
"It's alright Max. I believe you. Hell, even if you did have time-travelling powers, you have to be hella courageous to take a bullet for someone," Rachel spoke softly.
Max laughed weakly, "I thought I was the only hipster here."
Rachel's expression changed into one of mock-seriousness, "Oh, you are. I'm more punk. Chloe is too. She adopted a lot of her vocabulary from me."
Max's thoughts shifted back to curiosity as her tears began to slow. She pulled away from Rachel just enough to look the girl in the eyes and said, "What exactly happened to me after I took the bullet for Chloe?"
Rachel smiled, turned to the right, and made a slashing motion in the air.
As if she had cut through paper, a circular shape appeared, about as tall as the two of them. You could have mistaken it to be a full-body mirror, until you realized that what Max was seeing was not her and Rachel but rather just Max, lying in a hospital bed, eyes closed. Sitting next to her, holding her left hand, was Chloe.
Max gasped, "Oh my goodness! Chloe's okay! Thank goodness!"
Rachel rolled her eyes, "Of course she's okay! That's because the person in the hospital bed jumped in front of a bullet for her. You're the reason she's alive, obviously! However, there are several things we need to talk about because of what you did."
Max looked worried and asked in a quiet voice, "Can I hold your hand while we talk then? I feel kind of lonely and disoriented right now."
Rachel's eyes widened briefly, but she smiled, sat down, and held out her hand. Max took a seat next to her and took her hand in her own.
Rachel looked at her and started, "Okay Maxine. I don't know who or what gave you powers, but someone gave you the ability to reverse time. This gave you a second chance to save Chloe. However…"
At that point, several more portal-like windows appeared, each showing different pictures of Max and Chloe.
"…this meant that more alternatives opened up to you. You could have ignored the bathroom, you could have hit the fire alarm, you could have kicked Nathan from behind…but you chose to jump in front of Chloe, and I don't think anyone expected that. What was most expected was this."
Many of the alternatives faded except for one, which moved next to the one showing Max in the hospital. It showed Max hitting the fire alarm.
"If you had done this, Chloe would have escaped, you two would have reunited, began solving the mystery of my disappearance…snuck into Blackwell, divulged secret files, befriended a drug dealer, discovered my fate, been drugged, and in the end…you would have had to decide what to sacrifice, because the time-travelling powers would have caused reality to shift far too much. Changing the course of time is futile Max, because changing one thing causes the dominoes to fall differently, you dig? This is called the Butterfly Effect. One butterfly's wings cannot be heard by human ears. However, get enough butterflies together, and the flapping of their wings can cause a hurricane to form given enough time."
Max nodded, "Okay, I understand that, but what would I have had to sacrifice?"
Rachel tightened her grip and looked at her sympathetically, "You would have had to sacrifice the town of Arcadia Bay…or Chloe."
Max gasped, and it looked like she might have started crying again, but Rachel reminded her, "Remember, you didn't choose that reality."
Max kept her composure, but said, "But with my current choices, won't I have to make a similar choice since I used the power?"
Rachel smiled, "You already have. By being selfless and willing to sacrifice yourself, you destroyed the need for a cosmic reality backdraft. Your sacrifice cancelled the principles of Chaos Theory. However, cancelling out Chaos Theory also meant that you cannot operate within its principles anymore."
Max understood, "In other words, I won't be able to reverse time again."
Rachel nodded, "You have a sharp mind, Maxine. You were able to alter the course of events and save Chloe. However, beyond that life will continue as normal. The dominoes are now falling in a different direction, but they will continue to stay on track."
Rachel took both of Max's hands and looked into her eyes, "Maxine, I need you to listen very carefully to me, okay? I know this is a lot to take in, but I need to tell you something very important."
Rachel started, "Maxine, changing the course of time is not the only way to save lives or care for your friends. There are other ways too. Simply asking a friend if they are okay, checking in on them, encouraging them, withholding judgment…these are all ways that people can make a difference in the lives of others. You just have to make the decision as soon as you consider it rather than hesitating and missing the opportunity. Consider how much information you would give to someone you trusted rather than a complete stranger."
"I would tell them a lot more, and only if I felt as though they wouldn't judge me," Max voiced.
"Exactly! If someone trusts you, and they know you won't judge them, they will tell you a lot more than they would otherwise. I mean, who would you tell about your time-travelling experience, Maxine?" Rachel asked.
"I would tell Chloe and…that's it." Max replied without hesitation.
Rachel smiled, "You see, trust is very important. As long as you reach out to others, you can make a difference in their lives. You can change the path of the falling dominoes through your own power, Maxine. All it takes is a little bit of courage. Remember that how someone else might judge you are small potatoes compared to altering the course of a person's life. Nurses and doctors do this by doing all they can to save someone's life medically. Therapists help make the lives of people better by helping them heal emotionally. Police do all they can to protect the lives of other people. Even those who work in a grocery store, they work to make sure that parents can put food on the table for them and their children. Many people take these workers for granted, but they do make a difference."
Rachel's next words were the ones that Max would never forget, "Everyone has the power to change the world Max. The choices that people make are far more important than any abilities that they have. All our choices change the world, whether for good or for evil. You can be a hero or a villain. Most people walk the gray somewhere in-between."
Rachel squeezed Max's hand, and Max returned it.
Max said, "So, what happens now? I can see myself in that…portal, but I'm also here. What happened exactly?"
Rachel smiled, "You survived, but it was a close call. Right now, you're hovering between life and death, and I kept you here because I wanted to talk to you. I'm sure Chloe will explain everything to you. You'll have a scar where the bullet hit you, but try to remember it more as a reminder for everything that I told you today…and as a reminder of how much bravery you truly have."
Max smiled, and Rachel helped them both stand up.
"Simply walk through the portal and you will soon wake up in the hospital bed. Don't be as eager to walk around though. Unlike here, you are wounded in that world. I have lessened your pain, but you are still quite fragile."
"I understand. Thank you Rachel, both for explaining everything to me and for being so understanding with me," Max spoke with genuine gratitude.
She walked to the portal.
"However, I do have one question Rachel," Max said.
"What's that Maxine?"
"You say that you are Rachel, and yet you seem to know more than you let on. You never knew me, and yet you speak as if you have known me all your life. You speak with so much wisdom, yet you are the same age as me. Are you really Rachel or are you…God, in some form?"
Rachel pushed Max through the portal, and she felt herself drifting through time and space. She began to fall asleep as she drifted.
However, just before she lost consciousness, she heard Rachel's voice booming joyfully, "My dear Maxine, why can't I be both?"
With that, Max was brought back to the world of the living.