It’s with some regret that our first meeting is one of tears, but you see, the Commander… he’s not doing so well. He’s not ill, no smallpox, no inflammation of the lower intestine, no sudden life-threatening thyroid condition, but… he’s disappearing. I knew he would eventually, but we got on so well together, why believe anything so contrary? He bought us a house, put down Gladiolas. It’s been years since those churlish Reapers stopped delivering their shoddily made penny-saver circulars, but he still churns his stirabout nervously every morning, goes lumbering to bed throwing off his steel greaves, breath clouding his helmet visor. Still though, there was time each day for popcorn, terrible jazz standards and bocce. Why leave? So yes, the Commander is not doing well; but what’s more, I’m doing much worse. Because in a very short order, I will complete Mass Effect 3, and my friend Shepard will be gone. His many heavy, ingot armors left to rust and house harmless spiders and junebugs… Who will drive his Normandy? I will be alone.
I will always remember how we met. It was his music…. it’s what made me take notice in the first place. The man knows his way around a Moog. It’s the dead of space but to Shepard, it’s channeling the Banana Wind of a young Jimmy Buffet gone positively cast iron! Wardrobe changes, sashaying amongst the curtains… He’s tender, lyrical, positively Macbethian. It was a show not to be missed. The guy can irritate. He’s cheap, socially inept; he got out of paying last month’s rent. But I joined him, we traveled, battled… time went on.
I will miss his cad wordplay, his tongue always finding new, deadpan ways to express his disappointment in you. But he still wants you along for the latter acts, the cabaret numbers. I will lament the absence of his sophomoric poetry and his contemptible taste in leggings. It was upon reaching the ingress of Mass Effect 3’s intro screen (the one where we find the Reapers have taken to riding Earth bareback) that it hit me. This last hampered leg of our legato world tour would be one accompanied by tombs: mine, his. We might even dig them together. So as the images onscreen strained to make small talk, pleading me to ‘Press Start,’ the minutes slipped to an hour. I sat there staring, unwilling to make hay. The stagnant constriction of lumps in my throat, my hands clamped around joystick, it was absolute paralysis.
I have waited this long to play Mass Effect 3 for no other reason than to delay bidding the Commander farewell. All the minerals we have collected together, all the bumpy rides in his moon-roving carriage — I have dragged him away, soused and mid-monologue, from so many neon terrestrial taverns just as they send round the hammer. Shepard likes his drink. This is it! I might amble myself out his way again so we can reminisce, but we will never be closer than we are right now. It’s going to turn through my head for a long time, I will cry… but then I will remember Shepard owes me money, and I’ll think to myself: Death is kind…It’s the relationship we have….