I'm a spy. A secret agent. I used to get paid to leap out of burning planes on jet skis while maintaining perfectly styled hair. I used to wear a tuxedo even when I was showering. I loved it. Now my knees can't handle jumping from moving motorcycles, and there isn't much hair left to keep styled. I had to sell my good tuxedo to pay the rent, so now I wear an old suit that my dad left me and a bowtie I found in a Salvation Army store.
I can't tell you my name. I wish I could say this was because of national security, or because it would put your life in danger. The truth is that a few years ago an albino German duke with a fetish for ivory and a plan to attack London with an army of elephants hit me with a Confusion Ray, and ever since then I've been having some trouble keeping my fake identities and my real one straight. I couldn't tell you my name if I wanted to.
I look at the new generation of secret agents speeding around in their sports cars with women named Genarus Jughs and Countess Pussy, on their way to stop the Earth's gravity from being reversed, thus destroying the world's gold market, and I think "Yeah, but just wait. Someday you'll look in the mirror and realize Countess Pussy wouldn't even notice you if you ran past her naked shouting her name. I'm you, kid. I'm what you'll be. Just give it a few years."
This is the harsh truth of the secret agent lifestyle. This is my life. This is my story.
Chapter 1: My Contact
I meet my contact from the agency once a week to receive my missions. We used to meet at midnight on foggy, abandoned boulevards, or in the smoky backrooms of large casinos. Now he's got a back condition that makes it difficult for him to travel far, so we meet at a Baja Fresh a block from his apartment. He's near the salsa bar, eating a chicken quesadilla.
"The air is quite cold and still tonight," he says to me.
"In Paris, it is yet colder," I reply.
"Ah, but the French are warmed by the heat of passion," he replies, then takes a big bite of the quesadilla.
The code phrases are obscenely out of place in this brightly lit fast-food franchise, and we don't really need them anymore. We certainly recognize each other, and there's no reason for anyone to be snooping around two used up old men like us. I haven't been given an important assignment in years, not since I left my glasses at home and ended up shooting a hostage rather than the Russian-employed evil snake charmer threatening her with a machine gun shaped like a cobra that spat syringes full of mind control serum. But if we dropped the code phrases, then we'd have to drop the whole pretense of being still useful, so we run through them and then I order some chips with a side of guac.
"Any assignments?" I ask.
"Oh yeah," he says. "Tons. I got a whole stack from the agency. Seems the world's in jeopardy and only you can save the day." He snorts and a little fleck of chewed tortilla lands on my sleeve.
"Well, what's S.K.U.L.L.Z. up to these days?" I say.
"Oh those guys?" he says. "They finally broke up the group a couple months ago. Realized they hadn't come up with a decent evil plan in ten years and packed it in."
And just like that, I lose my last group of arch-nemeses. I decide that unless the agency has an immediate pressing need for me, I would like to go get very drunk as quickly as possible.
Mass Effect: Andromeda turns its nose up at the original trilogy's rigid morality. It boasts a more nuanced and intellectually compelling shades-of-grey approach in which a heart icon pops up when it's time to tell an alien to take their clothes off.
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