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Jack Subject Zero (Mass Effect 2) tough

Jack aka Subject Zero

(Part #2)


Context

This profile is the second half of a two-parter. So you mos def want to read the first part first.


Description

Jack is covered in ink. Her face is the only visible surface without intertwined tattoos. Her hair is shorn in a crew cut with shaved and tattooed patterns within. This distinctive cut was the symbol of a now-defunct cult.

There’s a sort of metallic casing with electronics along the rim of her right ear. It could be jewellery. But one gets the impression that it’s the outer interface of some sort of biotic implant. Three yellow diodes blink slowly on this casing, possibly reflecting Jack’s EEG.

The tattoos are here in part to cover her scars. They do a good job of it. Most people will not notice that Jack’s body sports a large number of long, nasty scars. They’re so bad that it’s easy to assume that they’re tattoos too.

These evoke torture and experimentation, as they’re obviously deliberate and not the result of having been slashed in street fights.

Jack, Commander Shepard and Miranda Lawson

Jack’s body has little extra fat or curves. Her breasts seem small enough to make a brassiere superfluous. She doesn’t look underweight, though. She’s obviously fit and muscled, and her ribs don’t show. She is unusually pale-skinned, as if she never had been exposed to the sun.

The word “lithe” comes to mind. Subject Zero does have a degree of feline agility in her movements.

Clothing (sort of)

All these physical details are easy to see. Jack aggressively shows off her body and her ink.

All she wears during most of her time on the Normandy is a dog-leash-like leather harness around her chest and neck. That and an orange prison jumpsuit with the top completely off. The latter leaves her with low-riding trousers barely held above her crotch and buttocks by the built-in security harness. The upper harness was also presumably a part of her corrections jumpsuit.

Though she was working with limited material, her overall appearance wouldn’t raise eyebrows in a tough club in a major early XXIst century city. It fits well with metal, biker, queercore or post-punk women’s fashion of the late 2000s.

Other traits

Jack has a quasi-permanent closed, hostile, violent facial expression and body language. Her moves tend to be sudden and animalistic. She sports regular features, with a small nose contrasting with her large eyes and lips. With a more conventional haircut and more relaxed behaviour, she’d easily match mainstream standards of attractiveness. Jack probably is in her early 20s.

Her fists are adorned with letters as well as the tattoos. The fingers of her right hand read D-E-A-T-H, and the fingers of the left hand have the same inscription with the letters backward (presumably due to a game engine constraint). Makeup-wise she has a punk-style heavy hand, especially when it comes to cheap mascara.

If Jack goes for more than three full sentences without at least one “fuck”, “shit” or “bitch” — or more rarely something involving genitals — something is probably wrong with her.

She does have a vocabulary and is very unlikely to be at a loss for a word. It’s just that this specific sector of her vocabulary is akin to her favourite bar, where she spends all of her time.

Jack’s voice is actress Courtenay Taylor . Her face might be based on a scan of model Candice Neil  – though the latter was never officially confirmed.

Resources

Here is a 2’42” video of Jack talking.

 

And lastly here is a large model sheet of Jack re-rendered by HairlessWookie using Jean-Luc’s textures and base textures. That came up in this Reddit thread .


Personality

Jack is a battered animal, paranoid and near-feral. She trusts or respects nothing, lives by her impulses, and just lashes out against most things getting too close to her.

Jack many of the tastes of a surly little boy, thinking that violence and destruction make her cool. When angry and frustrated she just throws a bestial tantrum – growling, pacing, snarling, smashing stuff. She is apparently unable to talk until she calms down.

Jack is proud of how crazy, angry and dangerous she is. She may be denied love and friendship, but at least she has lust and fear. She usually refers to herself as a “crazy bitch” or some variant thereof. She delights in the chaos and destruction that she causes.

Her speech is an endless stream of profanity and threats. She refuses to have any elaborate human contact out of barely-concealed fear of abuse. She likes having sex and she likes having reliable packmates watching her back, but she’ll become hostile if offered something more sophisticated. She expects manipulation and deceit, or at the very least becoming intolerably vulnerable.

Feral

Jack’s reflexes belong to a hunted animal. She is unable to sleep unless she finds an out-of-the-way, tiny, hidden dark corner where she feels safe. One imagines that she prefers to hide to snarf up her food so nobody can take it from her, or wanst to always be next to a door she knows she can open to get out.

Jack using her biotics and surrounded by dark energy

After boarding the Normandy Jack researched ship escape pods procedures. She loaded useful maps in her omni-tool, presumably to be ready to run away in case of a problem. She always has a heavy pistol within easy reach, kept clearly visible to send a message.

It’s important for Jack to strut and establish dominance. She’ll strike to be the craziest, scariest, most unpredictable, angriest punk in the room. She’ll also pick someone to victimise so as to remind everyone that it could happen to them if they cross her.

Jack mentions having “warm feelings” when fighting. From later games, it would seem that Jack used an euphemism for once, and that she’s wired to find violence sexually arousing.

Jack found some sanity and dignity in maintaining that she survived Pragia because she was the toughest of them all, and that her experiences made her tougher still.

Dies ist nur ein Punk-rock Song

For all her anger and savagery, Jack’s intelligence shouldn’t be underestimated. She’s not just cunning. She obviously has a well-above-average intellect and is only held back by her lack of education and narrow, repetitive, squalid life experience.

It is entirely possible that she taught herself the basics of psychotronic  engineering by reading documentation and manuals. Jack also spent days sifting through massive amounts of Cerberus data to find out about the Subject Zero project. It is, in fact, possible that she taught herself to read in the first place.

She seems proud of her intelligence and to rely on her deductive ability. But her appreciation of how reliable her smarts are is biased. Most persons she’s known were imbeciles and junkies.

Once on the Normandy, she realises that she can’t rely on being the smartest person in the room anymore. She now needs to exchange information, compare points-of-view and rely on the input of others to reach correct decisions. But Subject Zero has very little experience with that.

This is especially true after she realises that her certainties about Pragia were wrong since she was working with far too little information. But for Jack, actually trusting people and exchanging with them is another story.

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder

Jack yearns to belong to any sort of community that would treat her not too badly. But has been burned far too often. Thus, this aching need is countered by great wariness. Commander Shepard and her pack of badasses is something she’d love to be truly a part of, but 10 times bitten 20 times shy.

Jack's back and shotgun

She’s still figuratively circling them in the dark and sniffing them up, keeping a foot out of the circle so she can run if it’s a trap.

During her time on the Normandy, Jack tries to join online communities, including a poker tournament on the Extranet. But her mean time before getting into a fight and/or a flame war and having to be banned is counted in minutes.

Jack reviles Miranda Lawson. Miri is a dyed-in-the-wool Cerberus faithful, and she insists that the Subject Zero project was the work of a splinter cell and not Cerberus proper. Which nobody believes – probably not even Miranda. Furthermore, Miranda takes sexual attention away from Jack.

Jack dismissively refers to Miranda as “the cheerleader”. This friction is something of a concern, as a biotic fight between Jack and Miranda could rend the Normandy from within. There are vague hints of sexual tension between the two, but if this is the case it’s entirely the wrong kind of chemistry.

Mass Effect 3 refers to Jack making frequent crude puns about the word “cockpit” when talking to Joker (though technically the Normandy has a helm, not a cockpit) and graphically comparing E.D.I.’s holographic manifestation to a dildo.

And I need you to recover

When she meets Commander Shepard, Jack runs into a wall. Shepard isn’t afraid of her, and agrees to help her without batting an eye at her aggressive conditions. She keeps treating Jack like a person while ignoring her provocations. She seems genuinely caring and sincere.

With her narrow frame of reference, Jack is unable to understand what Shepard’s game is.

Once she realises that the Commander is an invincible fighter and leader, Jack suggests hoisting the Jolly Roger on the Normandy SR2 to become pirate queens. She’s perplexed when Shepard turns the suggestion down, as Subject Zero just can’t imagine what could be better in life than being a pirate queen.

Jack considers shooting Aresh Aghdashloo

Going down her short list of known human motivations Jack then assumes that Commander Shepard wants to sleep with her. Thus she preemptively rejects her, which just leads to Shepard rolling her eyes. Like many people before and since, Jack ends up researching the Commander on the Extranet to understand who the hell she’s dealing with.

Jack is soon left with the sole explanation that Shepard is being caring for no special reason, which she can’t wrap her head around. She eventually agrees to share and talk a bit, particularly after Pragia.

’cause I can’t make it on my own

After Jack’s emotional return to her childhood prison, Commander Shepard develops a tentative rapport with her. But this is obviously going too fast to Jack’s liking. Thus, she clams up from time to time as she feels she’s becoming too open and trusting.

One gets the impression that Jack can’t help but see the highly charismatic Shepard as a powerful pack alpha and wants to belong with her.

Jack keeps saying that she should always kill everyone, that she should never feel anything, that she should always trust her instincts and never think, etc.. But she knows this is not true. These assertions seem to be a request to be shown something better.

Discovering how the Subject Zero project ran, and that Cerberus never wanted to kill her, was difficult for Jack. She had a lot invested in her image as an abnormally strong person who could survive anything thrown at her.

With that self-image taken away, she had to be someone else and didn’t have any idea of whom. But Commander Shepard was there and kept supporting her. Though Jack doesn’t want to pattern herself after Shepard, the Commander still was a role model she could think about to find her path – and learn from.

Smells like team spirit

The third transformative experience for Jack seems to be the final assault against the Collectors. During it, she is swept up by the esprit de corps Shepard instilled in her tactical team.

Jack points a large handgun

Against all her reflexes Jack feels proud to be part of Commander Shepard’s pack of badasses. She experiences a feeling of belonging and trust, and feels honoured to be detailed to a mission-critical task. Jack even makes her respect for Shepard clear, calling her by her rank for the first time.

It is presumably near that point that Jack attempts to express how she feels through some rough free verse poetry written under an alias. It describes her perceived nature as an animal, a monster and an anomaly.

In the wake of the destruction of the Collectors’ base, Jack clams up again and demands that Commander Shepard leave her alone. But this is actually a good thing. She’s busy dealing with her feelings. Subject Zero wants to come to grips with her emotions and the resounding lack of betrayal, deception or abuse on Shepard’s part.

The seed is sown, and Jack — who just made it possible to save billions — is strong and smart enough to make the right choices.


Quotes

Shepard (calming Jack down): “I’m not your enemy. Nobody’s going to shoot. I’m here to *ask* for your help.”
Jack: “Shit. You sound like a pussy.”

(Admiring a Krogan picking up hundreds of kilos of metal and tossing them aside) “Heh, rough stuff. I like this shit.”

“I’ve been around. Ran around with gangs, wiped out some gangs, joined a cult. Kept the haircut.”

“Cerberus thought they were so clever. Turns out, mess with someone’s head enough and you can turn a scared kid into an all-powerful bitch. Fucking idiots.”

“Don’t be my buddy. You need me to kill for you. I need you for these files. Let’s leave it there.”

“I go to sleep with my hatred. I wake up with it. Everyone I kill, I pretend it’s the ones that did this to me.”

“I figure, every time someone dies and it ain’t me, my chances of survival go up.”

(Proudly) “Murder, assault, kidnapping, drugs, dealing, arson. Done it all, and that’s the boring shit. Piracy, theft of military craft, destruction of a space station, and vandalism. That was a good one.”

“I *knew* I smelled murder on that bitch !”

(Visibly crackling with Dark Energy as she quickly builds up a shockwave) “Hello, dead people !” (releases her Mass Effect field)

“You feel, you get sloppy. It’s that damn simple.”

“I got thoughts like little bugs crawling in and out of my head. I can’t stop them.” […] “Heh, Shepard. No one ever talked to me about this shit. Thanks for asking.”

Jack (agitated and rejecting Shepard’s solicitude): “It’s just gonna HURT or… or you’ll mess around… or I’ll KILL you or something !”
Commander Shepard (calmer than a Zen monastery): “And ?”
Jack (almost crying): “AND THAT SUCKS !” (paces back and forth even more aggressively) “I need time to think, okay ?! Just… just… j… leave ME ALONE !!”

“How the fuck did I let you talk me into this ? I’m not supposed to care !”

Jack and Commander Shepard in the shadows

(On Pragia) “It’s so weird to be back here. I’m a dangerous bitch and it’s like I’m also a little girl. Shit, it’s complicated. Let’s… let’s just plant that bomb.”

(In her cell on Pragia) “This table was my best friend. I used it for everything. I’d crawl under it to cry. I was pathetic.”

“Touch me and I will smear the walls with you, bitch !”

“I know that [Cerberus] place is gone. But I still kind of want to kill every person I see. No offense.”

“No boyfriend or girlfriend, if that’s what you’re asking. It’s a waste of time and it never works. You let someone get that close, it just means they need a shorter knife. Lonely and alive works just fine, thanks.”

(Frequent battle cry when unleashing a big biotic attack) “I’ll destroy you !”

(During the final mission, Jack is gritting her teeth and maintaining a huge biotic barrier keeping the team alive)
Commander Shepard: “You good ?”
Jack: “Yeah. Let’s go…” (brief hesitation, looks into Shepard’s eyes) “… Commander.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Subject Zero

Dex: 05 Str: 02 Bod: 04 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Fugitive
Inf: 04 Aur: 02 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 017 HP: 050

Powers:
Biotic pull: 00, Data storage: 12, Enchantment: 01, ME2 Defense (Barrier): 20, Power Reserve (see below): 12, Mental blast: 04, Stagger: 05, Telekinesis: 00

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Enchantment, Power Reserve, Mental Blast, Stagger and Telekinesis are biotic powers.
  • Enchantment can only be used on a projectile-based weapon’s attack power (usually Projectile Weapons or Shotgun Blast), but can be maintained as long as this weapon is being used.
  • The extra AP from Enchantment doesn’t work against ME2 Defenses of the Shield type.
  • Power Reserve can fuel Biotic pull, Mental Blast, Stagger and Martial Artist (EV). It can also feed Telekinesis, but it takes 2 APs of Power Reserve to activate each AP of Telekinesis.
  • When Power Reserve backs Martial Artist, it becomes a Powered Skill and acquires the Unfettered Fist Schtick.
  • Mental Blast and Stagger are Combined, but can only be used every third Phase (-2). When using these Combined Powers Jack must assign at least 5 APs from her Power Reserve to each Power.
  • Mental Blast and Stagger are active along a 1-AP wide corridor.

Skills:
Accuracy (Biotics): 08, Artist (Poetry): 02, Charisma (Intimidation): 03, Gadgetry: 03, Martial Artist (EV): 03, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages
Expertise (Biotic implants and Dark Energy conductors), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Mystique (Most people who’ve seen her go postal).

Connections:
Commander Shepard (High), Street (Low).

Drawbacks:
Mistrust, Creepy Appearance (Tats and haircut), MIA toward Paranoia, MIA toward Asocial behaviour.

Equipment:

  • BASIC OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool, Misc.: Translation database].
  • HIGH-END ARMOUR WITH HIGH-END MEDICAL SYSTEMS [BODY (Hardened) 10 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 03, Flame immunity: 03, Invulnerability: 05, Lightning immunity: 03, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Regeneration: 05, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 02, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Invulnerability takes five minutes per roll, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin Armour doesn’t work vs. Blunt or Structural damage]. This armour isn’t displayed in-game but is assumed to be there, as per the discussion in our main Mass Effect 2 articles.
  • M-5 Phalanx [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Sharpness (Projectile weapons – only vs. heavy armour): 01, Range: 06, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
  • Geth plasma shotgun [BODY 04, Energy blast (Diminishing): 09, Range: 04, Ammo: 05, Schtick (Double-tapping), R#03, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the Range listed instead].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Helper(s): Darci. High-resolution textures by Jean-Luc Fortier.

Source of Character: Mass Effect 2 video game  Mass Effect 3 will be covered in a second profile.

Writeup completed on the 9th of March, 2013.

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