Chosen of the Slain

Part 2, Chapter 10 of Valkyrie

A man sat in a chair in a darkened room, watching a star die.

“Do you know the story of the Valkyrie?” he asked, breathing out a line of cigarette smoke.

“The Valkyrie?” a woman’s voice asked in reply. “You mean our target?”

“You know her nickname then?”

“I know her whole file,” came the reply. The voice held an Earth-Australian accent and an officious tone.

“I meant the story of the Valkyrie of legend,” the man said. “The old Norse myths of Earth.”

“The Valkyrie were daughters of the gods,” the woman replied. Her shrug indicated that she assumed this was information everyone knew. “They walked the battlefields after wars and selected the worthiest warriors from among the slain. Then they took their dead to Valhalla - the feast hall of the gods. There, those heroes were born again.”

“Fascinating, isn’t it?” the man said, taking a drag from his cigarette. “The parallels of that story to this one are…intriguing.”

There was a pause.

“I suppose it’s fitting,” the woman admitted. “As I recall, those risen heroes were then called upon to fight at Ragnarok – the final reckoning. The end of the world.”

“Indeed,” the man breathed out a cloud of smoke. “And here we are, looking for a hero to stand in the breech between us and the end of our world.”

The woman looked up from her datapad. She had been reading a file marked ‘Kyrie S.’ Her lips thinned as she said, “But in the stories, it was the Valkyrie who did the choosing of the heroes. They weren’t the ones being chosen. After all, the name ‘Valkyrie’ means ‘chooser of the slain’.”

“True,” the man nodded. “But desperate times have called for a slight… shift in the narrative. Have you made any headway with the asari?”

“Yes,” came the reply. “We’ve intercepted mail between the archaeologist and the lieutenant of the Normandy SR-1. He isn’t responding. She’s becoming desperate.”

“Then the time is ripe to approach her,” the man said approvingly. “Have you gotten your people into place?”

“I’m prepared,” the woman said. “Is the lab ready?”

“Stocked and set,” the man told her. “I’ll release the location to you as soon as you have the target in custody. We can’t risk anything getting in the way of our plans.”

The woman fell silent as she considered this.

“What I wonder,” she said at last, “is what the risen heroes thought of being brought back to life. They died in blood and then woke to find themselves in a golden hall, being asked to do battle in yet another war. What if they chose not to fight? What if she chooses not to fight?”

“You have some concerns on the subject?” the man asked.

“It’s one thing to raise the dead, but another to persuade the living. Her reaction to the ordeal – to us – to Cerberus, are a total gamble. I still say we need to implant her brain with some sort of control chip…”

“No,” the man said firmly. “No controls – not of the kind you’re talking about.”

“But sir…”

“I’m working on safeguards right now,” the man said, waving his hand to bring up a hologram screen just inches from his fingertips. “I find that in a situation such as this one, it is better to create a path than a leash.”

The woman nodded, but her lips remained a thin line. The man saw this and looked at her with his eerie eyes.

“You worry about bringing Shepard back, Miranda,” he said. “I’ll worry about keeping her under control.”