AN: Just some changes to the content of the story. The following content have been added:
The Techno Consortium is predominantly Germanic among three other major ethnic groups; French, Scandinavian (or Nordic) and Polish along with a minority; mostly Slavic, North African and Middle-eastern.
Luther is now a Rear Admiral (Konteradmiral) and commands a 'Command Dreadnought' as his chosen warship.
Consortium Military utilizes WW2 era German ranking system without the 'Party' elements added, NOTE: No offense is intended in this regard.
Also I forgot something important:
Disclaimer – I do not own ME, it belongs to BioWare or whoever else it is who owns its copyright and other stuff related to owning the game and its contents along with everything else in it…blah, blah, blah. You all get it. Anything being inserted into the ME verse is my intellectual property except for the rather obvious historically correct terminologies and names that I'll be using….yadda, yadda, yadda. You all got it.
15 minutes until Elimination round begins...
Where is he? An impatient young man grumbled as he paced back and forth. His feet half dragged on the polished marble floor, to the casual observer he would have seemed slightly insane...in fact his disheveled and shaggy hairdo along with the angry expression on his face would rub people off the wrong way.
Will you relax? A man standing next to the crazy angry looking guy sighed. You've been doing that for like three hours.
Shooting a glare at his friend, the man sighed in reply and rubbed at his temples. Sorry, I'm just a little nervous is all.
No kidding. His friend nodded. The man wore a beight green collar shirt and blue jeans. Unlike the other guy, he was well groomed with smoothed back black hair and a light beard stubble. I just hope he gets here on time.
5 minutes to Elimination round...
Finally! The shaggy haired guy exclaimed angrily, he glared at the newcomer who wasn't at all intimidated by the stare. What took you so bloody long!?
Well hello to you too, James. The newcomer said with a small hint of sarcasm laced with a smidge of annoyance. Oh hey Frank.
Whoa, whoa. You still have to explain why you almost didn't make it. James barked, angry at being ignored.
If you really want to know, I'll tell you. The new guy said, sighing lightly. I got held up at the department store...some schmuck tried to rob the store. He had a gun and so naturally as a cop it's my duty to react.
Dude you haven't even finished your training yet. James pointed out but before he could continue Frank interrupted him.
That's beside the point. What you need to ask is if Luther here got the guy. Frank smiled and nodded when Luther mouthed his thanks to him when James turned around.
Traitor. James growled.
Listen, as much as I would love to stay here and chat. Luther smiled smugly at James, I think we should probably go in now coz the E-round is about to start.
Sure enough when he said that the PA system came to life and a woman's voice spoke, announcing that the Elimination round would be beginning in a minute.
We better get inside. Frank told them as he stood up from his chair. I don't want our spot to be taken by some newbie. Especially when it's the new 'Mk. 2 VR Headgear' that's involved.
Hey I heard about that. Luther said thoughtfully as they entered the complex. The Mk. 2 is upgraded to include the new features right? I read about that on Time Magazine, it supposedly includes pain and sensory input. James piped up as they crossed through the reception area alongside several other people.
Does that mean we get to feel pain when we get hurt...in game? Frank asked, hopeful that he'd be one of the first to test this new revolutionary technology.
That's the idea. But don't forget about the other sensory inputs. Luther reminded them. We also get to smell, hear, touch, feel and a load of other this is going to be awesome! Frank yelled out in delight. All three men stared in awe at the sight of all the different players who showed up at the convention, those participating in the tournament that is.
The PA system came on again and the same voice spoke again, a little giddy and excited about the event it would seem.
Welcome players to the first ever VR tournament! It began. I am Melissa. And I'll be your host for today's first round, the Elimination Round. Now if you'll direct your attention to the holo display on the right wall you'll see the leader boards. The first game will be announced soon.
Said wall lit up in a myriad of colors as the hologram flickered to life. It jumbled around for a while before it solidified into a table filled with gamer tags, the names of all the seven hundred odd players present in this city alone. Granted this was a small city but the turn-out is going great. The hologram flickered one more time before it focused again, this time it showed not seven hundred but over a thousand players.
*Whistle* I guess I wasn't the only one who might have been late. Luther grinned causing James to mutter something about him being an idiot. He ignored it of course, James may be a trained Hapkido black belt but he's got the personality of a disgruntled hyena.
Come on guys. Our station is this way. Frank gestured for them to follow him. They weaved through the now thick crowd trying to get to their station.
10 minutes later...
Luther sat down on the comfortable leather reclining chair as he lay back with his arms stretched out in front of him. A yawn escaped his lips and he set the VR headgear onto his head, the puffy interior felt comfortable and the gear fit well on his head.
On the far side of the complex hall, the large holographic screen displayed the current setup of the first day's match. The chosen game was a favorite of his, one of the company's first ever releases, Flagship: Naval Combat, it was a real time space strategy game with a first person perspective with 2D and later 3D command interface for interacting with the fleet you are given, more of a small task force really.
He was a fanatic when it came to RTS games of all kinds and with the release of the first Flagship game, he immediately got hooked.
Now, the company is taking they're taking their Flagship franchise to the next level, the elimination round will feature the first ever demo game-play, pitting players against each other via free for all deathmatch, it is divided into several different areas of the largest map Flagship graphics could handle. For Luther, this was going to be a challenge since he was mostly a team player but he liked a challenge now and again to keep him on his toes. His keen tactical mind however, was still underdeveloped as he often put it, his friends just shake their heads at this. James had even commented, saying that, "…modesty is unfitting for an arrogant jerk such as yourself."
To which Luther would reply, "Hey! I'm not arrogant!"
The young cadet smiled at that particular memory but then closed his eyes as the feeling of electric currents passing through his brain and nervous system. This sensational feeling was just as the developers described during the development phase of their new platform.
Luther and his friends had pre-planned everything beforehand, from what race to pick, to which faction and what types of ships they'd use. However, they'd also have to take into account the other players and the threat they'd pose to themselves. It would be a close shave with the hundreds of players fighting each other, luckily the default five ship flotilla of the original Flagship game is still in effect but even then it would take all of Luther's tactical skills in order to survive and hopefully win this first fight. He had confidence in his abilities and those of his friends, but felt a little skeptical about his chances of survival when several other more experienced players were present in the running.
His headgear began whirring as the startup sequence began, he mentally prepared himself and then in a blink of an eye he was no longer within the complex, rather, he was inside a blank white room without a body.
[Welcome to the Processing Room.] A synthetic voice greeted him, it echoed from all around him and without a physical body, Luther felt a nauseating feeling within his stomach, though he wasn't sure he could throw up inside the game.
[Please select your starting race.]
The white room was then replaced with a large 3D holographic chamber where life-like bipedal humanoids, three weird looking aliens with large heads, bodies and other absurdly disproportionately scaled limbs. There was a human among the myriad of alien races and with a thought, Luther chose that particular template.
A flashing group of floating words appeared to his right which prompted him to enter into the customization phase of his starting character. The game also emphasizes another element of games that he found interesting, role-playing. Not wanting to utilize that rather complex and complicated customization options available, he instead decided to try out the headgear's other function.
This allowed for the headgear, which had made a full scan of his facial feature and the station in which he sat, which also scanned his body structure, to replace the template with an image of his own body. If he was going to describe his physical appearance, he'd have to say he was 7ft tall, slightly fit (he was a bit overweight after years of inactivity-meaning no exercises for six years) so no rippling muscles yet but his six pack is becoming visible and the fat was gone from his upper and lower body so that's an improvement, he was tanned and has a scar running across his right arm from his shoulder to his wrist, though he rarely talks about how he got it.
In describing his face, he'd give an honest answer and say his skull was a bit pointy (?) at the top sort of like a natural Mr. T style, his hair vacuum black but currently cut into a military buzz cut, the shape of his jaw square and strong but had been broken once before, his nose was neither large nor small it just seemed right, his eyebrows arched in an angry frown, where his eyes themselves are colored a deep golden which is a rare color (a genetic disorder that, unfortunately affected his eyesight, making the need for spectacles a must but with the medical technological advances he's gradually improving his eyesight) and a small scar above his right eye that cut vertically across his right eyebrow.
(AN: I'm not really good with description of the human anatomy, or any other sort of anatomy alien or otherwise, but I try)
Having completed the character creation sequence, the 3D interface exploded into a mass of tiny specks of pixels and later reformed with more words floating and slightly pulsing.
[State your Character Name and Surname.]
'This should be straight forward.' Luther thought as he decided on which of his aliases should he used. In the end though he ended up entering his real name but gave a different last name. The display system once more faded into billions of tiny pixels before it reformed, this time the words that followed made him pause with indecision. He knew, of course, that the Flagship series has a total of 4 factions within the Human race itself, they were as listed below;
[Please choose your affiliation:]
Luther considered these options, without a doubt he knew his friends would choose the United Federation since it has the cheapest but most powerful capital ships earlier in the game, however, if he knew James then the martial arts nut would probably consider choosing the Drek, but Luther himself was leaning towards the Human's Consortium because of their rather powerful defensive capabilities regarding ship designs and fielded among the most advanced weapons technology in the Human race rivaling that of the four-armed aliens called the 'Jak'Tar'. What he liked about this particular faction is that they fielded giant piloted mechs replacing the roles standard fighters and bombers do.
[Techno Consortium chosen, are you sure?]
Luther chose yes.
[User login contains USER save file]
[Scanning for save file]
[Save file detected…]
[Welcome Back...'Konteradmiral' Luther Wolfe]
For perhaps what seemed to be hours, Luther underwent the selection of his ship and its contents, the customization of space ships in the game was one of the key aspects of said game that made it an instant favorite with RTS players, the game mechanics itself were inspired by an earlier predecessor of the game with the same name as well as a few other game titles in the early 2010s.
In the end, Luther chose a 'Command Dreadnought' as his ship, the vessel in question was heavily armored with a high output shield system, armed with 140 missile ports, 138 torpedo bays, 256 rapid firing Point-defense turrets with state of the art pulse laser technology, 2 Nutcracker Kinetic Cannons with a secondary heavy energy lance mounted on a turret on the top hull of the ship. That is the extent of the ship's offensive and defensive capabilities so far as he was concerned, however, he didn't discount the piloted mechs stored within the ship's fifteen hangar bays. The ship also has ventral hangars within the midsection for its medium frigate and heavy corvette complements, in total 2 of the frigates and 4 corvettes.
All in all, the dreadnought was a sight to behold at 5 and a half thousand meters in length, 3 thousand meters its width and 3.3 thousand meters in height. Being a 'Command' ship limits its role to support but if one wanted, the ship can move into a battlefield to utilize its deadly armaments, however, it is vulnerable to boarding and long range kinetic or energy lance attacks.
A few minutes later…
The hologram images shifted into a million specks of dust like pixels before the white room returned, he was momentarily blinded when the room exploded in a brilliant flash of white light. He suddenly sat up, his vision blurry and his hearing dulled out. Shaking his head he cleared out the dull thumping he was hearing in his ear and his vision began to clear, he looked around him but then realized something. A series of smells, sounds and feelings came rushing at him like a train on collision course. A small smile crept up the side of his face as he remembered about the new updated features for the VR headgear.
'So that's what this is like'. He chuckled, 'it's realistic, and I'll give the developers that much credit.'
He noticed that he was in a room, it was clean, too clean and looked highly futuristic in his eyes. He recognized the design from when he played through the first three times as a Consortium Captain. The sleek glass computer terminal was where he knew it'd be, right next to the water and food dispenser unit. The room was a mixture of cream white and light grey color and was sparsely decorated, there was the holographic image of the Consortium's coat of arms, a large cog wheel centered on a robotic arm closed in a fist, all along the surface of the cog wheel were intricate circuitry lines that seemed to pulse as the hologram floated just above the small white table near his bed.
He noticed the table had an integrated digital clock, it read; 06:45 am. He sighed and brought his feet around him to the side of his surprisingly comfy bed, he gasped involuntarily as he noticed his right leg was metallic and had complicated machinery visible to his eyes, he then noticed his left forearm and right hand were similarly made of the same thing his right leg was. He shook his head and blinked several times.
'This can't be right.' He thought, 'I was sure I didn't choose bionic limbs as part of my character...besides these feel way too real…you know what, never mind.'
Deciding to ignore his bionic limbs for a while he got up and walked over to the center of his room, it was not large but big enough to fit the bed and other essential furniture in it, he wondered where how he was going to get dressed when he noticed something odd about the UI. It wasn't showing his health bar like it was supposed to in the demo vids he saw during the commercial marketing of the game nor was it similar to the beta tests he'd done on the Mk. 1 VR Headgear.
But he was distracted when a bunch of holographic images and words showed up not one foot in front of his face, he looked a little confused at first but then moved his hands towards it only for it to go right past them. He turned his head around to the left and the images and words followed, he realized this had to be the UI, then easily deduced that it was via mental manipulation that the thing worked. He thought of how he was going to get dressed and the UI indicated the far wall opposite his bed, a small diamond shaped indicator with the words; Wardrobe flashing on it caused him to shrug and walk over to the wall.
The wall in question faded to reveal a small room, there were clothes on either side of a single aisle. He walked into it and saw long pants, jeans, t-shirts, collared shirts, leather jackets, black combat shoes, a few slippers, business type suits but no ties, lab coats and other accessories such as glasses, watches, rings and more. There were also black uniforms adorned with golden laces and ribbons indicating his rank of Konteradmiral, however, what caught his attention was the large glass panel case which held something truly spectacular in his eyes, the thing was leather-like spandex material with insulated interior but has an integrated mini-nanite fabrication factory, simply known as a Fabric, to provide for armor and weapons if what his UI/HUD was telling him is true. It looked similar to the flight suits his character wore in the first Flagship release.
He decided to wear the suit/armor and instead of the usual flash of light and you're equipped with almost any weapon or armor, he had to put on the suit manually which took a while. When he was finished he was grinning like an idiot seeing as how he was badass, he always wondered what it was like to be inside of a sci-fi setting and now he was living it. Thank god for game developers.
There was an urgent chiming noise coming from the door of his room and he hurried over to see who it was. A holo-screen popped up to show a young looking man with the discernible insignia of a Seekadett (Naval Cadet), the guy looked worried for some reason.
Pressing a holo-button on the pop-up screen, the door slid open to the right and the cadet was standing in front of Luther, the young man took one look at him before doing a stiff salute, clicking his heels.
"Mein herr." The seekadett began, hurriedly. "You're needed on the bridge."
Now, Luther wasn't an actual admiral or ship captain, nor has he ever been in the navy or any maritime service, yet he still understood some basic things about navy protocols and procedures. So he had to ask, rather carefully.
"Why didn't the bridge call me on my personal com?" Luther said, he hoped he sounded the part of an annoyed officer. Heck, he was even putting on a very convincing frown.
It must have worked, because the seekadett looked like he was pissing in his pants, his eyes darting from side to side, his body shivering slightly and his right foot tapping on the floor. Seeing what he'd done and not wanting to upset the kid further, he stopped him from whatever he was going to say next.
"It doesn't matter." Luther held his hand up, "I'll be up there in five minutes."
"M-m-mein herr," the seekadett stammered, "This is urgent. Kommodore La Fayette needs you on the con."
Luther looked at the kid in a puzzled manner then began to realize something, within the demo vids of the game he'd been shown, interaction between NPCs and players when it came to dialogue (which was within the RPG element of the game) includes a timed dialogue tree. There was no such thing present in this conversation.
Something was wrong. He tried to bring up the game menu or something similar but found, much to his initial surprise turned irritation, nothing showing up. The User Interface that appeared in his vision was something entirely unrelated to the game menu, he realized, and again to his annoyance he couldn't bring up the menu. He also noticed that the ensign was visibly sweating…no game he has ever played has that function.
'WTF! What the hell is going on here!?' He mentally screamed while managing to maintain a calm and composed exterior expression. He smiled a little at the cadet who now had a confused yet frightened look, and spoke calmly. "Seekadett…."
"Dietrich Heinz, mein herr." The guy saluted when he realized what the Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral equivalent) wanted from him.
"Of course, Seekadett Heinz." Luther nodded, his mind slow on the uptake but getting there as he motioned for the young cadet saying, "You were saying...about the bridge?"
"Ja, mein herr." Dietrich led the way through the white corridor towards the bridge. Luther followed closely at the seekadett's heel still thinking that this was all a bizarre but exhilarating experience, even when it's becoming apparent that something odd was or has happened.
5 minutes later...
Luther walked onto the bridge of his ship feeling very confused. He knew he had to figure out what was happening to him and hopefully fix it, but at the same time he felt a swelling excitement pumping within his chest as he gazed at the extremely high level of technology, the holographic display at each of the terminals on the bridge left him speechless. So much so he forgot about his predicament momentarily. He snapped out of his reverie when the ensign he'd been following stopped.
"Achtung!" Someone called out as the bridge crew snapped to attention. Luther gestured, nervously, for them to be at ease and watched with some fascination as each crew member not near him quickly returning their attention to their terminals rapidly flicking through various holographic screens that seem to pop up at odd but quick intervals.
"Konteradmiral," Seekadett Dietrich said, bringing Luther's attention back to him. "Kommodore La Fayette requests your presence at the forward observation port."
"Of course..." Luther noticed the guy was still there so just as an afterthought he added, "You're dismissed, seekadett."
Giving another salute, the cadet did an about turn and doubled timed it to his terminal, he sat next to the helmsman. Luther could still hardly believe where he was right now and made his way to the forward observation port, a large window, with added layered protection against munitions, intense heat, solar flares and radiation, as well as other problems that can be hazardous for a space ship.
He ran his fingers across the sleek white tables that formed the only solid parts for the terminals, he whistled in his mind as he felt the smooth and slippery surface caressing his fingers. Which he must add, felt weird since he now knew that his right hand was mostly bionic and not organic, whatever happened to this body he now inhabits, he just hoped there weren't any other things that were 'replaced'. Of course, retaining the ability to feel in his right hand as well as his left arm is kind of a miracle if he did say so himself but he doesn't have the luxury to ponder much on that or how he was gonna get out of this mess.
He reached his destination where an elderly man, who Luther guessed to be in his late fifties, seemingly unaware of his presence. Clearing his throat, Luther got the old man's attention. "Konteradmiral, I'm glad you're here." The oldie sounded relieved.
"Kommodore." Luther nodded. He felt a little embarrassed at having been addressed with such respect by an old man, who in his mind would be the one Captaining this ship not him, if he guessed the older man's age right. 'Damn. He's an NPC..yet so life-like' Luther raised a brow at that thought, this was getting weirder than it already was but it can't get any worse, can it? However, he couldn't deny that commanding a large number of people has always been more natural to him than any other skill in his still expanding arsenal. So he continued, "What's the situation?"
"Well, current ship status is green." Kommodore La Fayette spoke and paused a while as if he was reading something, then added. "The crew are all accounted for, weapons and shields are optimal and on standby. We're also getting transmission from the rest of the taskforce that they're green across the board."
"Achtung!" A nearby bridge officer, a Leutnant zur see as indicated by the sleeve lace on his BDU. Luther and his XO both looked toward the man. "Scanners have picked up activity near the stellar body. I've determined two signatures but both are identified to be utilizing a form of dark energy manipulation which are also throwing off our gravity sensors."
"What other information can you get?" The wizened Kommodore walked up to the terminal, watching the Leutnant's fingers moved fluidly along the holo screens. Luther did the same and stood next to La Fayette.
"Not much bu-wait a minute." The Leutnant's brows furrowed. "Sensors are picking up increase in energy with one of the unknowns. It seems to be preparing weapons systems of some sort. Standby for deep sensor scan. Analyzing...analyzing...results are back. The unknown vessel appears to be firing a concentrated beam of molten metal but its properties have shifted enough to mimic a high intensity laser beam. It's on par with most of our medium DEW load-outs."
Luther considered this information briefly before turning an eye to the other unknown vessel pointing at it. "Leutnant, put that on a larger display."
"Ja, Herr Konteradmiral." The man complied and within moments the space between the ceiling and the bridge floor was filled with a map of the star system along with their ship and the taskforce's current position. He saw the two unknown ships as they passed the sun and headed towards a planet, there the second vessel, vertical in its design and clearly made from some kind of organic material, started firing at more sleeker ship. Said ship was strange in its aesthetic design, it was also nimble and dodged most of the attacks from their pursuer, it was tagged by the computer as being analogous to a light cruiser. Luther then made up his mind.
"Bring ship to bear, initiate rescue operation. Target is the light cruiser analogue, designated Unknown Alpha. Sleek ship frame, designated Distress 1 is priority rescue package." Luther gave out the order and fully expected his strange order to be questioned. However, much to his own surprise, it wasn't and instead the XO was barking out a repeat of his order to the crew who rushed to comply. "Oh and tell the rest of the group to back us up if it looks like we're going to die."
A few men chuckled when he said that, this earned them a grin from Luther, who was beginning to like his new-found authority, although he sure wished he knew what the heck was going on with him. After a few minutes of traversing the great expanse of space between his ship and its target, he squinted to get a better look at the sleek ship's hull. He thought he saw markings alongside it.
*"Offiziersanwärter." He called out with hope and was glad to get a response. His brain finally caught up to the fact that he's been calling out naval personnel ranks in German of all languages and could understand what they meant, not that he minded but because he didn't speak an ounce of the language. This miffed him somewhat but like the situation he found himself in, he decided to shelf it for the moment until he finds the right time to fully contemplate on why he couldn't access the game's menu or for that matter why he felt a chill run down his spine at the mere thought of something wrong happening to his brain.
"Mein herr?" A nearby woman perked up. Her eyes glistening and alert, ears straining to listen.
"Enhance image of Distress 1, get me a clear image of its hull." He ordered. She complied and in a few minutes just before coming out of their short FTL hop, he got a glimpse of the distress ship's hull and a name was on it clear as day and confusing as hell.
It read: Normandy.
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*Officer Candidate (Lowest Ranking Naval Officer)