Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Was Used and Abused By My Asari Girlfriend

The vixen in question

By Commander Shepard, Alliance Navy

Liara and I have always been close. In the three years we’ve know each other we’ve been through a lot - Geth invasion, Reaper attack, interplanetary espionage, and now all out galactic war. That kind of thing brings people together no doubt - but I never expected us to become romantically involved.

Sure we’ve always been good friends, but even when I first knew her I only had eyes for Ashley, and Liara seemed preoccupied with her Prothean research. She even said that she found me “fascinating” because I was “touched by working Prothean technology”. If her fascination with me was based solely on my connection to the Protheans, then thinking back now I can see our relationship was doomed from the start.

I will skip over the early years of our friendship. Suffice to say that Ashley and I became involved for a short time until I was rendered temporarily, well, dead. When I found myself back among the living I also found my companions had moved on. Ashely would no longer trust me and refused to speak to me (I’ve just been brought back from the dead and the love of my life won’t even give me the time of day, talk about rejection). Liara meanwhile had moved on to a new obsession, this time involving the Shadow Broker and a missing “friend”. I wonder what she would have done if she’d known back then that the Collectors were in fact Protheans? Even after I had helped her rescue her “friend” she prefered to stay away.

With Liara uninterested and Ashley gone, I found myself becoming involved with Tali, who had rejoined my company after I helped her fleet out of a jam (it was always about the fleet with her). This relationship seemed to be going well - we made it through many battles and even a suicide mission together and were ready to defend the galaxy side by side - all until I returned to Earth to face court martial (for stopping a Reaper invasion of all things!) when she promptly and inexplicably abandoned me without so much as a “see ya ‘round Earth boy”. Already I’m beginning to see a trend with my relationships ending at the first sign of inconvenience.

This brings us to a few months ago, and things start to get complicated. If a Reaper invasion wasn’t enough I find myself in Ashely’s company again. She still doesn't trust me but we have bigger things to worry about at the moment, so along with her and James Vega (I’ve never met the guy before be he acts as though we go way back) we head out on a mission to Mars. Here Liara shows up again, and she seems to have rediscovered her interest in the Protheans. She agrees to join with me in the fight against the Reapers and things are just starting to feel like old times when all of a sudden we are attacked by some kind of fembot. Ashely is seriously injured in the fight and we rush her to hospital.

I would go and see Ashley frequently whenever I was on the Citadel. I even bought her flowers from the hospital gift shop once but I couldn't get her to acknowledge them. She still didn’t fully trust me, but most of all I was glad to be able to talk to her again.

Liara and I meanwhile discovered something amazing: acting on Intel that Cerberus had attacked a human colony in order to acquire a Prothean artifact, we soon found ourselves face to face with a living, breathing Prothean! You can imagine how thrilled Liara was. She couldn’t stop talking about him, or to him, even when he did turn out to be an imperialist with less-than-subtle superiority issues. After this Liara wanted to speak to me all the time - admittedly mostly about the Prothean - and we became very close. Let me be clear: I wasn’t interested in a relationship with her - I still had hopes of repairing things with Ashley (and on occasion I did wonder where Tali had gotten herself to), but it seems Liara her own ideas...

Meeting with Liara on the Citadel one day we got to talking, and then to a bit of innocent flirting. Or at least I thought it was innocent, not unlike I’ve flirted with the other women on the ship from time to time. But that was always in good fun and we always walked away knowing it. Or so I thought. Liara it seems took it far more seriously, and before I knew it she was convinced that we were in a relationship! I tried to explain to her that it was just a bit of fun and that I was not really interested in her but I couldn't get a word in. As far as she was concerned we were COMMITTED! As though I’d blundered into some Asari courting ritual and had unknowingly married her!

Immediately I went to talk to Ashley, who had just moments earlier finally come to trust me again and rejoined my crew - to find that already news of “Liara and I” had already spread. I try to explain that it’s all a misunderstanding but she won’t hear a word of it. And what of Tali? I still hadn’t managed to track her down and ask why she left me, and if she really had abandoned me.

Don't fall for her blue alien wiles
Frustrated that I seemed to be stuck in this relationship whether I liked it or not I finally I decided to see if I could make this thing with Liara work. If we were going to be together we may as well be happy. So I went to see her. But did she want to see me? Nope. “Hey Shepard” was all she would say, just barely acknowledging my presence, or “Not now Shepard, I’m busy. Some other time maybe?” What is this? Was this some kind of cruel joke? Where was the love? Where was the flirting? Where was the fascination she showed when we first met? Do you still think about your mother? How is your lady-dad, you know, the one I just reunited you with days earlier? Nothing. Talk about the cold shoulder, it seemed that she would rather spend her time arguing with the Prothean!

And still I couldn’t break it off! After every mission I would go back to see her, to try to reach out to her, but all I would get was another “Hey Sheppard” or “I’m busy”. This went on for weeks. Even Tali, whom I had finally tracked down to the Quarian fleet, was of no comfort. Even after I saved her life, her planet, the lives of her people AND brokered peace between them and the Geth she refused to even acknowledge that we ever had a relationship. She wouldn’t even tell me why she left so quick without even a goodbye.

Tali had used me and ditched me, Ashley wouldn’t show the slightest interest, and my new Asari girlfriend would barely acknowledge my existence.

I’m having nightmares and could really use someone to talk to. Nope, not interested.

Earth has been copping the full brunt of the Reaper assault for months, it’s overrun and my people are being rounded up into death camps, I could really use some comfort right now. Oh I’m sorry, you’re busy.

Your home planet has just been devastated by the Reapers and it turns out you cultural history was a manipulation by the Protheans. Oh, NOW you want to talk. Now that it’s your planet under attack and your people being turned into monsters it’s suddenly a big deal, and oh how you need support. Now you finally want to acknowledge my presence - but not before I’ve diffused and yet another argument between you and the Prothean!

If this is what an Asari relationship is all about, let me out!

So imagine how I feel when, hours before the final strike with the fleet, I’m in my cabin contemplating the mission and in walks Liara. Oh sure, NOW she wants to talk, NOW she’s all sweet and comforting and wants to know what I’m thinking. And why? Because she wants sex, that’s why! It’s been weeks since we entered into this “relationship”, weeks of ignoring me, weeks of emotional hardship for the both of us, weeks in which she can't even manage to turn to face me when I enter the room, weeks of arguing with the bloody Prothean... and now she comes waltzing in looking for sex?

So what do I do? You know what I’m thinking: no way! You’ve strung me along all this time do you really think I’m going to give you what you want now? Not a chance baby blue! ...On the other hand the other two women in my life are also refusing to acknowledge my existence, I haven’t been laid in months, this could be the last night any of us are alive, she is all blue and sexy and stuff, and... oh god-dammit.

I will admit I felt a little bad about myself for giving in to her like that, but things did seem to pick up afterwards. We talked and afterwards on Earth we shared another moment together before the final assault. She did some weird mind blending thing which apparently Asari like to do with special partners. Finally she had opened up to me, and I went off to my final objective with a new motivation to succeed.

The Prothean
It all gets a little confusing after this so forgive me if it doesn't make much sense, it doesn't to me either. I’m on the Citadel, I take down the Illusive man, I convince the Magical Super Ghost Child (don’t ask, I don’t know) to explain how I can stop the Reapers and save the galaxy, to which he responds I can do it by using one of the devices in front of me presumably built for this purpose, and decide that blowing them up is the best course of action (it also destroyed the Mass Relay system, sorry about that).

But in my last moments I am granted a vision of the Normandy... fleeing the battle? Wait a sec, this was supposed to be the final push to take down the Reapers! We’re all in this together remember? What the hell is Joker doing making off with my ship at the last instant? Moments later the destruction of the Mass Relay system causes him to crash on a distant planet, where I discover that Joker did not simply run away. No, actually braved the Reaper lines in order to fly down to Earth, picked up some of my crew who were also supposed to be helping in the fight, then flew back through the Reaper lines once again to bugger off with them!

And who did he make off with? Who should I see stepping off my ship? Why it’s my dear Liara! The woman I thought was there with me until the end has ditched me and run away at the last moment! After so much turmoil and hardship, after death, destruction, interplanetary wars and long sort after peace, and a pledge to see it through together, she hops ship and runs away! But I think to myself: perhaps I can forgive her for fleeing at the last. I do care about her, perhaps I should be pleased to see that she is safe, to know that her life goes on while mine ends. We made it work in the end, perhaps I can die knowing that she will keep what we shared with her always...

But that backstabbing Joker didn’t just pick up her, oh no. Who else did my trusted pilot smuggle out? Which of my faithful crew did Liara run away with the second my back was turned? The god-damn bloody Prothean!


I have been meaning to write this for a while now (ever since completing ME3 back in April), but I was finally inspired to set it down after reading this post on by Kim Moss. Kim takes issue with the shallow romance subplots found in some games, specifically that the minigame mechanics are often about sweet talking the love interest with the ultimate goal and reward of getting into their pants. “Coins go in sex comes out” as she puts it, and quite rightly singles out Bioware games as exemplars of this.

Kim also laments that in the romance storylines things never get complicated, there are no relationships that simply don’t work out in the end, or situations where the player is rejected or betrayed. Yet this is exactly what I felt happened to me while playing Mass Effect 3, albeit rather comically. Of course this wasn’t due to spectacular writing on behalf of the developers but rather the opposite - a poorly implemented romance subplot that clearly had very little attention or resources dedicated to it during development. It is a shame that it is only because of this that a tongue-in-cheek interpretation like the above was possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment