Fan Fic: Mass Foundations

Mass Foundations is a fanfiction series set in the Mass Effect universe, written by Nord Ronnoc. The first and second installments of the series, Redemption in the Stars and a New Day, are out. There are also three other installments planned that are currently TBA. The series is strongly inspired from Mass Vexations by Herr Wozzeck, given that both him and Nord shared some ideas together.

Redemption in the Stars is centered on Ethan Sunderland, the Courier. In the years after the events of his adventures in the Mojave, a teleportation experiment has gone wrong, transporting him to the pre-ME2 Omega space station. He soon meets Shepard's former squadmate Liara T’Soni and information broker Feron, and gets involved in their hunt to recover Commander Shepard’s body before it falls into the hands of the Collectors. Redemption in the Stars was originally called Mass Vexations: Redemption and had a degree of involvement from Herr Wozzeck prior to a falling out between the two. It can be viewed here.

The sequel, A New Day, is revolved around a different protagonist, Eric Grimes, an MIT student, with little connection to the previous story so far. During a vacation with his family, he was transported to the Mass Effect universe when he stumbled upon a strange artifact. He had to adjust to the strange universe he found himself in. Unlike the Courier, Eric is shy and mild-mannered and is inexperienced in a fight. It can be viewed here.

Currently, Nord has posted forums of the stories, including a rewrite of Redemption in the Stars, on Spacebattles and Sufficient Velocity. On SB, Redemption in the Stars can be viewed here and a New Day can be viewed here. On SV, Redemption in the Stars can be viewed here, and a New Day can be viewed here.

The series provides examples of:

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    Redemption in the Stars 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Ethan, Liara and Feron snuck into the abandoned mining facility to get Shepard’s body through the wastewater pipe. Downplayed, as mining always produced large quantities of wastewater and the pipes of the size shown (they’re implied to be just large enough to move through) are quite likely to be used. Because the facility processed eezo, the water was radioactive as well; they could only get through because of Ethan’s Rad-X.
  • Action Girl: Liara was an obvious one along with an unnamed Blue Suns Commander fits this trope much better.
  • After Action Patch Up: Much of the epilogue can be summed up as this.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Batarian Pyro Jath’Kar taunts the Courier with a reference to the Apocalypse Now.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The Courier couldn't understand any of the alien languages until he purchases a translator from a human-run shop.
  • Anti-Hero: Ethan is depicted as such, specifically a Pragmatic Hero. To start, he killed a batarian thug, stopping him from mugging him and looted the corpse for anything of value to use. He agreed to work with Cerberus on a project to repair his Transportalponder, abandoned Liara and Feron at the mercy of Tazzik when things turned for the worse during their pursuit of Shepard, and took a Blue Suns Centurion hostage to extract information on Liara's and Feron's coordinates from her comrades. Given where he came from, it's justified.
    • On the other hand, he has assisted the NCR during his travels in the Mojave and it's implied that, thanks to his actions, the Wasteland became a better place.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The Shadow Broker’s base at Alingon is described as being absolutely grey and utilitarian and with good reason. The building was spliced out of several pre-made hubs so that the dedicated architect wouldn’t have to be employed.
  • Batman Gambit: Ethan and the others only manage to escape from the Alingon base because he counted on the asari guard he spared earlier to delay the rest of the attackers out of gratitude.
  • Call Back: Plenty of examples from both series are presented in this fic, such as:
  • Captain Ersatz: The turian scoundrel Hando Due and batarian Greedro are obvious stand-ins for Han Solo and Greedo. The encounter itself was due to the Courier’s Wild Wasteland trait.
  • Combat Medic: Lynch personally treated Alan's injuries after he got hit by the shrapnel from the guard’s grenade. Ethan was surprised at the previously emotionless operative revealed to be a medic.
  • Gunship Rescue: Downplayed. The Cerberus frigate turns the tide at the Alingon base and keeps the attackers at bay for a while, but then Tazzik’s engineers manage to disable its guns, forcing the squad to negotiate.
  • Dead Man Switch: At Alingon, the squad couldn't destroy the missile turrets at the entrance because doing so would instantly alert the base security. The alert didn't activate when the turret is simply temporarily disabled, however, which leads to the Race Against the Clock below.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ethan Sunderland. Most of the time, he made a snarky comment on just about everything.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Strongly averted. The Courier used VATS, the Jury Rigging perk, his Pip Boy map, and the Geiger counters. Liara frequently employed various biotic talents during combat and Feron can fix equipment with omni-gel, like the Infiltrator class of the first game. Even the Blue Suns’ members use the full spectrum of their equipment from the second game, with missile launcher soldiers, flamethrower troops and Legionnaires with anti-shield Disruptor ammo all present and accounted for.
  • Guile Hero: Ethan has elements of this, such as his attempt to persuade Aria to give him the location of Shepard's body.
  • Groin Attack: A Blue Suns Centurion attempts this on the Courier, but he dodges it due to his close-combat experience in the Mojave. This mistake lets Ethan capture her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Ethan saw Lynch engaging an asari vanguard at the Shadow Broker base before being forced to turn around. The next time he looks at him, purple blood is dripping off his armor.
  • Hostage Situation: This time it's the protagonist who takes a Blue Suns Centurion hostage, when cornered and needing to get information on Liara and Feron’s coordinates. His demands are rejected, however, as the other Suns call his bluff and attempt to distract him long enough for the back-up to arrive. He ultimately sees through it and points out that he'll just kill the reinforcements. It works.
  • Insecurity Camera: Played with. The cameras themselves are quite well placed throughout the building and on the outside, but they’re absent at the rear entrance since there are already guards and turrets present. Inside, they’re brought down by the terminal located too close to the entrance, allowing the group to hack into it.
  • Instant Sedation: More realistic than usual; a manual syringe is used, the target is restrained, and the hitman, Tazzik, checks the dosage before using the sedative.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Averted. In the first chapter, Ethan has only a decent chance of hitting the flamethrower gas tank at medium range with VATS.
  • Last Breath Bullet: Christina is shot as the frigate's door is about to close by the Broker's guards who hid out on a sidewalk. She doesn’t die, but ends up with Cotard’s Syndrome instead.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: When the Courier first engages the Blue Suns, a Centurion splits away from the remaining group to deal with him. Justified, as they don’t know his skills yet and Centurions are Elite Mooks in the game.
    • Justified again in the third chapter, where only one Blue Suns hovercar out of five is sent to investigate the car left behind by the team and where Ethan is lurking. They didn't expect him to stick around near the facility and so the rest are searching for him on the outskirts.
  • Mauve Shirt: Alan and Christina, though it's heavily implied that Christina will survive her injuries.
  • Mugging the Monster: A batarian thug tries to rob the Courier soon after his arrival. It doesn't work out too well for him.
  • Not So Invincible After All: The Collector-General is a hulking figure of solid and lava, able to unleash biotic barrages and with inhumanly durable barriers. When Ethan ends up fighting it alone, the Shadow Broker’s guards consider him doomed and see no reason to intervene. When the creature finally gets brought to his knees, they fire at him, but it was too late.
  • One Size Fits All: Averted. Ethan cannot use a translator looted from the batarian thug because his ears are shaped differently, so the earphones simply wouldn’t fit in for him.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Cerberus commandos and the Courier manages to overheat the missile turrets guarding Shadow Broker's Alingon base. However, the effect only lasts 30 seconds, after which the turrets go back to normal. The resultant race to get to the compound before they activate is punctuated by the automatic countdown.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Ethan kills a heavily shielded turian Centurion by stabbing him in the throat with his Bowie knife. Justified in-universe as kinetic shielding is only meant to work against high-speed objects, either being very ineffective or completely useless against melee attacks.
  • Sadistic Choice: When Lynch received the coordinates for the location of Shepard's body and the comm link in the base on Alingon, he informed the Courier of the opportunity to rescue either Liara or Feron. However, they're unable to save both and they're well aware of it. Ultimately, Ethan chose to rescue Liara.
  • Shoot The Fuel Tank: The Courier did that to the Blue Suns’ Pyro in the first chapter.
  • Shout-Out: Several examples.
    • When Ethan wakes up, he checks to see if his body's in one piece, much like what the Eleventh Doctor did after his regeneration.
    • The scene at the Afterlife Bar with expies of Greedo and Han Solo.
    • Lynch's name and the Courier's remark to it is a reference to the antagonist and Hannibal's reply from The A-Team
    • The batarian pyro taunting Ethan after setting him on fire, along the lines of:
  • Shown Their Work: The base infiltration scene on Alingon doesn’t arbitrarily choose the 30 second number to add more drama. That is the maximum duration of the Sabotage ability you can unlock in the first game.
  • Teleportation Misfire / Teleporter Accident: Kickstarted the plot of the fic, making Ethan's motivation to find a way back home.
  • The Cavalry: The Courier, Liara and Feron are saved from their first engagement with the Blue Suns by a sudden intervention of an unseen sniper.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Ethan Sunderland, thanks to his Wild Wasteland trait.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ethan gets one from Cerberus agent Lynch when he appears at the scene to find what is essentially a failed mission, with Liara and Feron captured and Shepard’s body still with Tazzik.
    • And earlier on, when Ethan attempts to bargain for information by taking a Centurion hostage, the other Blue Suns call him out on the unprovoked killing he has done before.
    • Basically Liara's reaction to Ethan's suggestion of handing Shepard over to Cerberus. He managed to convince her to see from his viewpoint, but it's clear that she was still upset about the whole ordeal.
  • Your Head A Splode: The Courier finishes off the Harbinger-possessed Collector by discharging the entire clip of his M-6 Carnifex into his head, with predictable results.

    A New Day 
  • Afraid of Needles: Downplayed. While Eric expressed that he wasn't a big fan of needles, he nevertheless went along with getting genetic enhancements.
  • Dream Sequence: Occurred in the third chapter. Eric's dream consisted of the Faceless Masses save for people he personally knew. Then he went to a tunnel, with large security cameras watching his every move. What was odd that he saw Shepard in the dream, trying to reach out to him, along with an unidentified man shoving through the crowd. The dream ended with a sound of a horn bellowing as everything went dark.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Somewhat adverted. While Eric had a decent grasp of the Mass Effect universe, he was still surprised by a fair number of things there. Word of God said he hasn't played any of the games for several months prior to his arrival, which meant that he doesn't have complete knowledge of the setting.
  • Genre Savvy: Eric displayed this trope a few times in the fic so far. In one instance when he woke up at the hospital in the first chapter, he quickly figured out that he was in the Mass Effect universe by noticing a few things that felt off to him.
    • Subverted in the prologue when he found himself in an inescapable room with the orb. He was tempted to touch it but thought better of it. But that didn't help him much in the end.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: Eric and his family visited Bangkok, Thailand, then Angkor Wat in the prologue until Eric stumbled upon the artifact at the after-mentioned temple.
  • Vacation Episode: The prologue starts out as this in Bangkok and Angkor Wat as a way for Eric to take a break from his MIT course. See the above example.
  • Reality Ensues: C-Sec discovered a good part about Eric when he arrived to the Mass Effect universe. How did they find out? By looking at his ID card. See Sure, Let's Go with That below for more.
    • Also, after Eric got his credentials, C-Sec brought him to question him. After they found out he was clean for the most part, they let him go.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Natalie told Eric that she and the other analysts at C-Sec came to a conclusion that, because of the circumstances of his arrival to the Mass Effect universe, he came from the past. Naturally, Eric accepted that.
  • Squee: Eric's reaction to jumping through the mass relay. It was displayed in his email to Natalie, Caps Lock and all.