Fan Fic / /SovereignGFC/Origins

"I am here to tell you the ways in which your galaxy is doomed."

Origins is a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands 2 crossover by SovereignGFC picking up where Fractured left off. Whether this page can keep up with a ~400k word (as Chapter 52) fic is up to others as the author stopped listing tropes as part of internal documentation a long time ago. These were reformatted for TV Tropes and dumped with cursory red-link removal.

WARNING: The list below contains massive unmarked spoilers both for Origins and Fractured that if properly tagged would blank half the page. Even the page quote used to have a spoiler tagnote .

Tropes contained in this work include:

  • A Wizard Did It: The Eridians may have left the universe observable by the heroes, but that won’t stop them from meddling if they see the need, especially when they decide later in the story that the primitives might actually have a chance. They still keep their interference to a minimum (Conservation of Wizarding Ninjitsu?) under the guise “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”
  • Aborted Arc: The whole notion of Vault contents depending on who opened them and under what circumstance (good person, galaxy under threat = powerful defensive weapons, greedy jerk, monsters) from Fractured disappears without a trace.
  • Aerith and Bob: The names of the Lady Fingers were completely made up as the story was being written to sound “dark and cool” (YMMV). Point being, they’re weird-sounding made-up names alongside normal names such as Samantha, Maya, Adam, and Sarah.
  • Aesoptinum: The “Cosmic Cleansing Sphere” specifically kills “bad” people who worked for Maximilian Xytler and destroys Reapers.
  • A.I. is a Crapshoot: Averted and played straight. Cortana is going rampant when she and the Master Chief show up, however, thanks to some initially-not-very-smart-looking moves by Samantha Shepard, Cortana gets split into rampant and non-rampant (though having lost memories) halves. The geth avert this—they even help fix up the non-rampant Cortana and get her memories back (in a process heavy on canon-ish Techno Babble).
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: A ship propelled by nuclear bombs sounds typically Torgue. Except it’s not. NASA actually had designs for such a ship, called the Orion Drive. Needless to say, just like Torgue, reality set in and it was scrapped.
  • invokedAngst? What Angst?: Jackie comes off as this considering magnitude of past tragedies versus time spent recovering, mainly because a realistic portrayal time-wise would have eaten half the plot and stretched everything out into decades. Her quick recovery is lampshaded by her therapist as well.
  • Anti-Hero: Sarah, getting darker as the story goes on. The overall goal (preventing all sorts of crazy criss-cross time and space travel) is generally laudable. However, the method (blowing up all life in the Prime Universe) is less so (made even lesser by using Human Resources). She’s not a Pragmatic Anti-Hero (since exterminating life and using teenagers as living batteries are generally not considered merely “not nice” methods), but she has better intentions than the Nominal Hero. She probably best falls as Unscrupulous Hero without the general viciousness aside from the method to her goal. Aria is introduced as an Unscrupulous Hero right off the bat, meleeing a doctor in the neck for threatening her station with his attempts to cure the Infection. She also states that she’s only purging the Infection because it’s threatening her, not because it’s something the Council wants. Without the Character Development available to “Paragon-ize” her in the Omega DLC’s canon, she has become even more vicious than she was the last time she was encountered during the events of Mass Effect 2, especially after the Space Nazis (Sapiens’ Shield) tried to drive her off Omega. Sarah lands in Nominal Hero territory before she has a Heel Realization stemming from being exposed to more than what she was designed for due to curiosity (digging through Revenant’s computer core).
  • Arc Welding: Lots of it, mainly because the story is somewhat episodic in nature despite being intended to consist of one complete work. Certain characters or situations get the limelight, and sometimes others drift out of focus, or explanations offered earlier must be adhered to in order to avoid internal retcons or inconsistencies. Thus, the motivation of a character in an earlier chapter might be explained differently later, or the motivation of a character in a later chapter may Call Back to something from an earlier chapter lest the later chapter change something without justification otherwise. Example: Jackie and her Judge was an internal retcon, but it was interpreted through the lens of Unreliable Narrator, which given the story surrounding the situation, is Justified in-universe.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Moxxi delivers one to Maya-Prime for insulting Reformed!Jackie. In Maya’s defense, Jackie’s transformation has gone unnoticed by those outside of Veritas (read: Hann, Moxxi, Jackie herself, patients aboard Veritas) up to this point.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Played entirely straight with promethium because it sounds cool. Element needed to do something? Find one suitably badass-sounding, ascribe properties! (Note: promethium is actually radioactive…)
  • Artistic License – Law: Averted where legal terms (adversarial/inquisitorial) systems are used correctly. Played straight in that the law only exists as a plot device.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Jackie and her therapy. Things twist more in service of humor and the story’s plot rather than adhering to strictly-researched medical cases. Includes Transformation at the Speed of Plot. Even lampshaded at the end of Chapter 19 that she’s “getting better” way faster than she should be.
  • Artistic License – Military: Averted inasmuch as the actual charges discussed are mostly based on real, actual offenses that can be committed under the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice. Of course there is some Calling Rabbits Smerps here going on since the Trans-Galactic Republic isn’t going to sound cool if they use the UCMJ verbatim. Ranks are portrayed in an internally-consistent manner and borrow heavily from the United States military.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Does it even need to be said?
  • Applied Phlebotinum: It’s sci-fi. That’s a given. Lasers, plasma cannons, faster-than-light, lightsabers…
  • Attempted Rape: The unnamed Hodunk patriarch to Ellie. Moxxi steps in and instead of him “breaking her [Ellie] in,” Moxxi implodes his skull. With his own revolver. The two Atlas mooks to Jackie before Zer 0 steps in, as well.
  • Baby Talk: Used briefly by Lilith-Delta to mock Jack-Beta’s fall from the roof of the Siren Sparring Center.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Moxxi. It comes up several times that she is doing things (like using alcohol in a therapy session) that a real therapist would never do. It also overlaps with I Did What I Had to Do given that Pandora is such a Crapsack World.
  • Bad Boss: Played straight with Maximilian Xytler, the fascist admiral of the United Defense Command. Averted and played straight with Siren Sarah—she’s actually rather contemplative and considerate of her underlings until one of them severely angers her. Even after her Anti-Hero status darkens, she generally remains benevolent toward those under her command, even the captured Armando Bailey (unless you count putting him through Training From Hell—but a lot of heroes suffer this without those who put them through it being considered “bad” merely for putting the hero to the test).
  • Ballistic Bone: Infected krogan end up doing this. The bones also contain Flood Super Cells, making anyone hit with them a ready host for any nearby Infection Forms.
  • The Bartender: Moxxi, of course, but this also applies to her replacements when she departs Gamma-Three for Gamma-Six.
  • Batman Gambit: All over the place. Axton pulls one on Jackie (Having fun seducing me? BELT TO THE FACE!). Shepard pulls one on Elsmeni Lyria, letting her aboard Revenant Phoenix knowing full well the asari will try to steal something, then finding out what she was looking for after killing the would-be thief. Jackie herself manages a gambit against Isabelle Long by starting a battle that Long’s ship would respond to, taking Jackie to the place she needed to go.
  • The Battlestar: As has always been the case for Star Wars ships, the Trans-Galactic Republic has fleets of these, from the “mainline” Curators to the behemoth Revenants. Interestingly, TGR policy of late has generally averted Star Dreadnaught battlestars, preferring supercarriers that hold 7,200 fighters each. They’re Star Dreadnaught-sized and possess Star Dreadnaught-grade shielding, but lack anything more than a token armament. That the Republic Intelligence Service believes more super-battlestars are needed causes confusion and annoyance in the budgetary committees overseeing such things. Mass Effect ships always avert this, unless you count cruisers. UNSC Infinity and UNSC Eternal Protector were definitely battlestars—and the “Nova Vita” ship would have qualified if it had actually been built. Admiral Allison Nimitz even wonders why other societies don’t built battlestars.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Carries over from the Mass Effect canon. Shepard’s willingness to work with Legion and see the geth as something more than simple machines causes species-wide Character Development away from “all organics are hostile” to a more neutral stance. “Legion-class” units take this a step farther, but are unable to convince the Consensus to aid organics against the Infection on their own. Ultimately, the Consensus “agrees to disagree” based on Shepard’s kindness, letting those runtimes who want to help go, while everyone else stays.
  • Bechdel Test: Easy pass. Moxxi/Jackie, Moxxi/Judy, Jackie/Judy, Jackie/Maya-Beta… The only time men come up is dealing with Jackie’s past, and that’s hardly the only thing women talk about here. See Mako Mori Test.
  • Beehive Barrier: At the (or a?) Master Chief’s introduction.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Garrus saves Shepard from being held up in the Nos Astra spaceport.
  • Big Red Button: Sarah’s pink “connection” button to tie the Revenant to the hidden Jakobs construction yard. Played for Laughs.
  • Bigger Is Better: Many of Shepard’s new ships are bigger than their predecessors, except for when she returns to the Normandy SR-2 after departing Revenant Phoenix... after which Normandy promptly gets made more bulky and larger to accommodate the Pandorans and to better fight the Infection/Flood. When Cortana determines Gamma-Six is doomed due to not containing the Flood, the “ark ship” design becomes ever-larger, topping out at a design over 70km long made by Gaige.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Jackie manages this when she captures Garrus, Maya, Athena, Axton, and Tannis.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: In-Universe, the Trans-Galactic Republic starts to treat Gamma-Three and Pandora as having this because, despite being of the same species, Pandorans and other natives of this galaxy were shaped by an entirely different environment. Thus, they don’t hew to established Trans-Galactic Republic (or Citadel Council) moral norms. Though at first this is found to be rather repugnant, the Trans-Galactic Republic eventually backs off a bit considering different people, different circumstances, different outcome. Captain Reid even semi-lampshades it, comparing mixing the Trans-Galactic Republic’s norms with Pandora to be “mixing blue and orange paint.”
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: No, Tali it’s not “lovely company in misery,” but nice try!
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Inverted. “Injuries, deaths, paperwork…”
  • Break the Badass: Shepard suffers from this after her galaxy falls.
  • Break the Haughty: Aria T’Loak figures out the Weaksauce Weakness of hibridium cloaking (hint: magnets). She’s riding high, blackmails a Republic Intelligence Service ship into serving her, smashes the shield over a supposedly-secret STG base doing research on the Infection…but then finds out that RISE has remote-control capabilities on the ship in question when it fires on her own fleet by their command. She doesn’t take this well. They threaten to kill both her and everyone on the ship if she doesn’t cooperate.
  • Brick Joke: The patrol frigate and Kim Harrison return for a small part (themselves being a Shout-Out to the Underranked Soldier Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager). The Eridian cylinder brought by Maya-Prime has a “manual” written in Eridian according to Filner’s humor… Turns out it actually does have Eridian writing on the outside of it.
  • Broken Bird: Let’s see, Athena (forced to kill her “sisters” via deception, then goes on a murderous rampage). And Jackie. Holy cow, Jackie. She starts off as a typical Rich Bitch/Evil is Sexy, then Chapter 16 comes along…
  • Brought Down to Normal: The Master Chief, involuntarily. Without the support and logistics backing the SPARTANS, he has no way to rearm, repair, or rebuild his armor. Getting into unnecessary battles would only lead to his eventual death as his gear wore out (worn-out gear shown In-Universe in Halo 2). Averted later in Chapter 37—Cortana’s figured out how to keep his gear running or replace it so he can go back to being a badass.
  • The Bus Came Back: Anna Erickson returns in Chapter 42 as a member of the Omega task force. Her ship (Endless Calm) also reappears.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. Sarah’s attempt to sterilize the Prime Universe doesn’t faze her one bit—but of course, the usual heroes object. Sarah’s not evil, per se, rather, the Godzilla Threshold (of destroying the universe with dangerous FTL drives) has been crossed, so to her killing everything in the Prime Universe is perfectly justified from her perspective. That this was her express purpose as the Man Behind the Man Eridians had intended makes it even clearer—she’s Just Following Orders.
  • Butt Monkey: Jack-Beta. He exists to get hilariously owned by Delta-Sirens after falling through a portal while trying to get more booze in his own universe.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Shepard doesn’t distrust Gaige, except... she kind of does having not spent much time with her.
  • Call Back: With so many plot elements, it’s pretty much guaranteed and would be longer than “Fun With Acronyms” if listed out here. Both of the Call Back and Continuity Nod varieties. Also Running Gags here and there.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Star Wars EU canon (or “Legends”) did this a lot. Bathroom = (re)fresher, watch = chronometer, fridge = conservator. Thus, washing machine = turbo-agitator.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: The Trans-Galactic Republic wears this hat regarding technology. We’re only going to give you what we think you’re ready for, and you’re not allowed to complain. And if something we refused to tell you about because you’re not ready gets stolen from us and used against you, we’re still not going to tell you what it is or what to do about it because we know better than you. The asari canonically wear this hat from Mass Effect as well. Fairly, both get called-out on this (by each other, no less).
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: After capturing Sarah (for real this time), Bailey and many others on his “side” want to kill the Siren. But they’ve just been kicked out of their own galaxy, so any possible ally, no matter what their past, is acceptable.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Played totally straight most of the time; somewhat subverted for Pandora as everyone there is poor—the big companies (which sell FTL starships) don’t even bother advertising said ships on the planet because no one can afford them! Also appears as Casual Intergalactic Travel. However, unlike most sci-fi, this has negative consequences as well as benefits.
  • Character Development: Most of the main cast grows and changes during the story. The krogan and geth get some pretty species-wide character development along the same lines as Mass Effect canon, the former advancing beyond violence under Wrex’s guidance and the latter becoming less hostile to organic life due to Shepard’s interactions with Legion (see Because You Were Nice to Me). However, Reality Ensues as the galaxy falls apart, causing the krogan to semi-revert to their violence-obsessed former selves with Wrex fighting the process tooth-and-claw.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Athena in the prime universe. Her angst doesn’t stem from being a clone.
  • Cloning Blues: Athena-Delta/Atlas Assassins.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Discussed by Bailey in one of the several challenges placed before him by Sarah. Thin cover will likely not stop a weapon that reduces its target to individual atoms. He ends up planning accordingly.
  • Continuity Porn: There’s a character status sheet, this trope list, an outline, several indexes covering things like real-life research or “law” used in the work, and everything is cross-referenced against the fanon created via “Fractured.” The crazy multi-galactic government that was mostly Played For Laughs and internally made fun of actually has a purpose revealed—Precursors (some Benevolent, some Abusive) trying to help their progeny survive. In addition, a multilayered Photoshop file was created to keep track of Infection/Flood movements and Sarah’s destruction. A map of the Normandy’s interior exists to establish who went where.
  • Continuous Decompression: Averted! The Normandy’s airlock opens, air moves (as it would in Real Life), but it doesn’t blow anyone over. Nor does it continue for minutes on end—thank you mass effect fields.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Several, from the “random” portals conveniently dropping key characters where they need to be to a giant portal doing the same with a whole ship not once, but twice. Then again, Eridians/Forerunners did it…
  • Cool Big Sis: Shepard to Tali, Tali to Gaige.
  • Country Matters: Xytler thinks this, in reference to the “mewling quims” line crammed into The Avengers. Jack drops it referring to Sarah after the latter kidnaps her students. And this is without knowing why Sarah has them…
  • Could Say It, But...: Admiral Nimitz’s response to Garrus and his false-flag idea.
  • Crapsack World: Gamma-Three, a.k.a. Borderlands. They’re poor, run by a “government” beholden to corrupt corporate masters, and most people barely survive day-to-day. May head into a World Half Full thanks to the Trans-Galactic Republic. Or may not if RISE sees fit…
  • Culture Clash: The high-minded Federation (Trans-Galactic Republic) runs head-long into an anarco-oligarchy. The anarcho-oligarchy isn’t portrayed as bad per se as many people within it get along well enough, but seeing things like using alcohol in therapy, murder being a casual thing (partially thanks to New-U and partially due to the very nature of surviving on Pandora) confuses the hell out of Trans-Galactic Republic captains.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The heroes and their allies end up on the receiving end compared to delivering one to the Reapers previously. Biotic, Flood-infested Reapers tear through everything, including Trans-Galactic Republic technology.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the cast gets at least one shot at this.
  • Death Is Cheap: Played straight when the Prime Universe’s New-U system is operational. Not in effect for Borderlands-Delta, where an impoverished Hyperion barely maintains the immortality system.
  • Deflector Shields: Of both personal and starship-sized varieties.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sapiens’ Shield = SS. Not done intentionally, though their Fantastic Racism enhances the unintentional parallel.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: How Aria finds Aethyta in Purgatory. Given Liara’s death in Fractured, this makes sense, as Aria is bringing up the one thing Aethyta probably doesn’t want to think about—Sam Shepard (who only suffered a single crew casualty ever, that being Liara).
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Sarah’s response to the Lady Finger quintet’s uproarious laughter at her Special Person, Normal Name status.
  • Dynamic Character: Jackie, Shepard, Maya, Jack (semi-canon as she developed into a slightly Lighter and Softer version of herself when given a teaching post in Mass Effect 3)
  • Easy Logistics: Played straight with the Trans-Galactic Republic (after being averted by the expeditionary fleet running out of hypermatter fuel), but it is actually brought up directly rather than implied that this is happening. A constant stream of freighters comes in from the Home Galaxy. Said freighters are subject to smugglers, bribes, and legitimately-missing cargo, though, which explains how pirates like Aria got their hands on hyperdrives, turbolasers, and “total shields.”
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: Garrus doesn’t mention this by name when interrogating a suspected smuggler, but the implication is talk will make this easy, not talking will make it hard.
  • Epic Fail: Could apply to Daniel Abrams’ attempts to cure the Infection. First the index patient spreads it around (after being given medi-bac), then he goes full Infection after being dunked in pure bacta, leading Aria to burn down the clinic and take the (medi)-bac(ta).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Smuggling kingpins in the Home Galaxy have a gentlemen’s agreement with the current government. Stick to guns, ships, and other material goods (read: not slaves/prostitution) and said government will mostly leave them alone.
  • Evil Is Petty: Nominal Hero Aria engages in this when she finds out people have been gossiping about her and Nyreen Kandros thinking she would not find out. She does the equivalent of letting the air out of someone’s tires, and shoves some vorcha into a mineshaft.
  • invokedEvil is Sexy: Jackie. Virtually every scene she’s in (until The Reveal in Chapter 16) involves her doing and/or saying something sexual. She also appears to arouse at least one of the heroic characters (Axton), though he later uses a Batman Gambit stemming from this to escape.
  • Fantastic Racism: The quarians are hit with it (as is canon in the Mass Effect universe), synthetic lifeforms are also subjected to it (again, see quarians/geth). So are the krogan (not without reason). Councilor Grayson actually thinks his fellow Councilors’ positions on the krogan and quarians qualify as racism in an internal dialogue.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Everywhere. On an intergalactic scale, no less. Its use averts to some degree Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. Galaxies really far apart? Here’s a really, really, big engine! Turns out there are problems with it though—see Hyperspace Is a Scary Place and Temporal Paradox.
  • The Federation: The Interplanetary Democracy League in the Borderlands-Delta universe. Subverted by the Economic Development Group in Borderlands-Prime; it’s a puppet of the corporations. Both exaggerated and subverted with the Trans-Galactic Republic: basically good, but so big that it heads into subversion territory in some areas due to the great mass of bureaucracy required to run such a behemoth government causing all sorts of things to fall through the cracks (cloaking devices, superlaser crystals, disruptor weapons) and into the wrong hands. It may be fully subverted depending on how much control the militaristic, secretive Republic Intelligence Service turns out to have over the rest of the government.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: One-way with Sarah, who finishes the sentences of mentally-lesser beings whose minds she reads.
  • Flash Step: Sarah can teleport herself over distances short and long, though too long (and too much mass) and she suffers from a Heroic Red Ring of Death. Mentioned by name in the narration during the Sarah flashback in Chapter 53.
  • Flat Character: Oh so many. Due to the Law of Conservation of Detail and the sheer number of characters, those who exist only to provide Exposition via Watsonian inquiries are not going to have whole chapters devoted to them (see: most corporate board members excepting presidents/chairs).
  • Foreshadowing: Especially for the arrival of Halo’s Flood, though it occurs other places in the story as well.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting/Kudzu Plot: Deliberate on the first, hopefully averting the second. When you have so many characters and want to give them all depth/A Day in the Limelight, multiple plot threads are a necessity. They do all come together toward the end. Whether or not having huge bundles of plot threads qualifies as a Kudzu Plot (which has negative connotations) is up to the reader. Given the nature of these plotlines, it may also fall into Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Freudian Excuse: Jackie. Her entire persona is a coping mechanism (albeit horrible and twisted). She grows out of it.
  • Fun with Acronyms/Meaningful Name: Many, many times. RISE (Republic Intelligence Service), MODDER (Mobile Design, Digistruction, and Engineering), DLDO (Drakken Laser Drill, Overcharged), CRITICAL (Citadel-Republic Integration and Cooperation Alliance), INTERCPT (Integrated Tracking, Evasion, and Reconnaissance Control Platform), GARDIAN (General Area Defense Integration Anti-spacecraft Network—this one’s canon to Mass Effect), ATOM (Alternating Transforming Mechanism), HISS (High Impact Special Salvo), KOMBT (Kinetic-Oriented Multiple Belligerent Training—from “Fractured”), CORE (Challenge-Oriented Reciprocal Education). Almost becomes Once an Episode for a while. ALAMO is a subversion, it used to mean something but in-universe means nothing now. The name is simply kept because it fits the family’s wild-west theme. Returns in Chapter 40 with CUBE (Cloning Ultimate Badass Experiment) units, which in Nonindicative Name style are actually cylindrical.
  • General Ripper: Xytler.
  • Genre Blind: The Council. They really have a habit of sticking their heads where the sun doesn’t shine—well, two of them (salarian/asari) do. In-universe, they’re justified in a sense because admitting Cerberus is a threat due to smuggling parts the Council and Trans-Galactic Republic should have prevented them from getting would reveal monumental incompetence on the part of both governments. As politicians, the two Genre Blind members don’t want that. They hope the problem will go away, despite having a big lesson in acting like this when the Reapers showed up.
  • Genre Savvy: The Trans-Galactic Republic is really, really adamant that no one come in contact with what they think are Yuuzhan Vong ships. They’re not Yuuzhan Vong—they’re Flood (which is arguably worse), so the TGR gets “Genre-Savvy, Wrong Reason.” The Special Tasks Group, when faced with Infection (Flood) salarians, snares a corpse and takes it to a lifeless planet deep in the Terminus Systems rather than to labs on Sur’Kesh. Smart move! Cortana (obviously) knows the Flood is dangerous, so when the Plutus shore party returns from combat in which it was demonstrated mere skin contact with Flood biots is sufficient to be deadly, she forces the squad to wait through three layers of decontamination (iodine bath, UV bombardment, snap-freeze). Shepard, being Shepard, also has many occurrences of this behavior.
  • Glass Cannon: Discussed and Invoked with Jack/Brick’s teaching style. Hit so hard there’s nothing left to hit back, without thinking that something might someday survive to throw a counter punch. Shiala and to a lesser extent Axton push back against this line of thinking, encouraging KOMBT students to evolve toward Lightning Bruiser status instead.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Sarah views the constant interspatial ripping (which is only accelerating due to advances in FTL) as this, justifying exterminating all life in the Prime Universe. The Trans-Galactic Republic, or rather, parts of it at least, believe that this threshold has been crossed as well, offering formerly-classified cloaking tech to the squad under Garrus Vakarian’s command.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Reformed!Jackie gets this when she permits John Major to be vaporized. She does this more generally, as do other characters as the Godzilla Threshold gets crossed again and again. Idealism and manners are for when you haven’t been evicted from your whole galaxy...
  • Good Is Not Soft: Shepard, Garrus, Moxxi, Reformed!Jackie (even falls into Good is Not Nice sometimes, such as when she allows John Major to be vaporized by Jakobs defensive systems—invoking Godzilla Threshold as justification).
  • Grey and Grey Morality: No one has the high ground here. They’re not evil, per se (so not Black and Black Morality), but between Council racism/incompetence, Trans-Galactic Republic cultural blindness/superiority complexes/RISE manipulation, and Pandoran violence, no one has a monopoly on being misunderstood good or unpunished wrongdoers.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Averted during Bailey’s challenges. They’re not “hypercompetent” but they don’t ignore deaths among their own number or fail to notice unusual behavior. Bailey, being a Force-sensitive badass, wins anyway.
  • Hard Light: Played straight and mentioned by Bailey when exploring his RISE training facility. The Forerunners/Eridians are mentioned to have this in various forms. Of course, as a defense mechanism, it only works when the shot hits it…
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire/Insecurity System: Averted for the blastboat Moxxi, Jackie, and Maya-Beta try to steal. It’s secured (unsurprisingly—it’s a military craft), and none of them have the slightest clue how to start it up. Only pure luck lets them in (turns out having an authorized user nearby enables maintenance mode).
  • Heroic B.S.O.D./Despair Event Horizon: Canon!Shepard loses Thessia. Samantha Shepard loses the whole galaxy (or, she assigns herself responsibility for the fall, anyway).
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The Republic Intelligence Service alternates between assisting the heroes (curing the genophage, giving Sam Shepard advanced tech) and antagonizing them (messing with Tuchanka, plotting to blow up Infected planets with missiles), depending on what is best from RISE’s perspective. This is all in service of a larger goal (possibly crossing into Manipulative Bastard territory): containing the Infection and stopping Sarah. It’s not clear yet whether all of RISE reports to the RISE Council, or whether there are rogue agents in the potentially-rogue intelligence agency…(X in Your X much?)
  • Heel Realization: Reformed!Jackie, AU!Jackie (sensing a theme here?), Maya-Prime after meeting AU!Jackie (because the Eridians Did It, they need a “pure” Siren and Maya’s a bit too Comedic Sociopath for their liking).
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Maya is accused of this by alt-universe Jackie. She kind of is (as all Vault Hunters canonically are). Sarah almost drops the “hero” part, but she seems to have her moments.
  • Hidden Depths: Moxxi (warrior therapist), Jackie (quantum physicist), Garrus (brings out better in unlikely people), Wrex (already canonically known to be smarter than most krogan, it shows here too).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Yeah, about that trying to kill the Siren who could teleport starships, shrug off a cruiser-load of ammunition, and rip through mental conditioning while shooting lightning from her fingers? Better make sure your plan actually works, or else she’s going to be pissed. Also see Nice Job Fixing It, Villain. Sarah in general to the Reform faction—they created her to get out of doing the boring stuff (stopping asteroid strikes, curing disease) required by the Mantle. They also decided preemptive killing to (hopefully) stop more killing was acceptable by the Mantle. Turns out her definition of “Mantle” doesn’t accept those things…
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: The Trans-Galactic Republic is remarkably restrained about using cloaking devices, superlasers, and extremely advanced armor (the latter is due to cost).
  • Hollywood Acid: Practically all acid-based elemental weapons in the “Borderlands” universe, including Maliwan’s HISS.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted for Garrus and his For Tek XC-97. He specifically notes that the sound only changes, it isn’t completely eliminated, and in the relative quiet of the docks they’re operating in, the noise will attract unwanted attention. He waits for suitable audio cover from a ship’s engines, then fires.
  • Honest Corporate Executive/Benevolent Boss: Dahl-Delta.
  • Human Resources: Power Sarah’s ship in a non-lethal, oddly painless way.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Played with, as hyperspace itself isn’t the source of the scary. Its use is opening windows into different universes, however, causing spill-overs both into the Prime and out of it. The worst “rips” can even lead to other times, leading to the aversion of Temporal Paradox.
  • Hypocrite: The Citadel Council demands the quarians make a “positive contribution” to offset the geth war. Yet, no such rule is enforced for the turians (used the genophage), salarians (created the genophage), or asari (made rule forcing others to share Prothean tech, hid their own Prothean tech). Maya-Prime falls into this as well—she gave the Evil!Lilith a chance and pretty much instantly forgave Resurrected!Shepard, but when faced with Reformed!Jackie she flies off the handle and starts calling her names.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Samantha Shepard takes this hard after her entire galaxy falls to the Flood. It sends her over the Despair Event Horizon and leads to a Heroic BSOD.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Sarah after Bailey breaks the kids out of her dreadnaught. She figures the galaxy-at-large will either be destroyed by the Flood, or let her go back to what she was doing (either way, the damage to space ends). Subverted during the Omega raid—she actually does surrender because she feels she’s failed her purpose (stopping the Flood).
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Dr. Sorensen knows nothing about interspatial harmonic theory.
  • In the Back: Sarah executes quite a few Reform-Ecumene this way, bypassing their front-facing Hard Light defenses.
  • Infodump: Lampshaded in the narration after Sarah finishes interfacing mentally with Tannis. Granted, being that this is science fiction (decidedly softer), “the world” works how the author wants it to—and unless you’re in the author’s head you don’t know what that means unless it gets written down! The ultimate inclusion of Halo’s Flood baddies gets some foreshadowing, though, so for readers who pick up on this Sarah may come across in an “As You Know…” fashion.
  • Informed Flaw:
    • Tevos/Grayson. They’re supposed to agree more after they both realize they’re wearing the Can’t Argue With Elves hat, but it doesn’t show much.
    • Gamma Six’s slipspace portals. They move characters around and occasionally are noted to be destroying the galaxy’s economy. Kept to a minimum to avoid spending plot in already-long chapters detailing what the reader already knows superficially (slipspace portals are everywhere).
  • Insane Admiral: Xytler.
  • Insecurity System: Given how important the Jakobs vaults are built up to be in-universe, being able to reset an expired access token with five simple questions seems inadequate at best. Then averted when the party actually arrives at the vaults—the defenses are very thorough despite the relatively weak password reset mechanism. The Maxthon cruisers suffer from this on a physical level as well—their designers thought the ships so invincible the crew would never have to, say, repel a boarding party. So other than airtight doors to avert any kind of air loss, there really isn’t any internal defensive system to speak of!
  • Insistent Terminology: It’s not the Force and lightsabers, it’s the Current and lightstaffs! In-Universe, this is because that’s what it was called millions of years ago—we don’t use Ye Olde Englishe much anymore unless we’re reading Shakespeare. Even the Whirlpools (Holocrons) get in on it, correcting themselves to stay with the times.
  • Instant Expert: Shepard picks up a Trans-Galactic Republic shotgun that isn’t one she’s ever used. However, this is Justified in-universe by her being a Spectre—she’s been taught how to feel out unfamiliar weapons, equipment, and ships to quickly learn to make use of them while under fire or on the move. It’s also a gun—most guns aren’t complicated (pull trigger, discharge death).
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Garrus does this on the last criminal he deals with after his first real operation as a squad commander under Schmidt/RISE. Also shows that he’s a darker shade of Anti-Hero than Shepard, who depending on point of view, may not qualify as much of an Anti-Hero at all.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Along with Four Lines All Waiting and Kudzu Plot (hopefully not), this story is chock-full of elaborations on OC Stand Ins, OCs, crossovers, Applied Phlebotinum mashups, and galaxy hopping. Thus, dropping everything in one chapter is best avoided. Chapters tend to contain segregated blocks of information covering a group/character/area before moving on to the next one within that chapter.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The Trans-Galactic Republic falls into this despite being (on the whole) The Federation. Just like Real Life, sometimes clandestine intel services don’t always behave the way the politicians or admirals expect or want them to.
  • Just a Machine/"It" Is Dehumanizing: Don’t imply either of these things about Cortana (insane/rampant or not) around Master Chief. Legion, however, actually prefers to be called “it.”
  • Just Following Orders: Sarah was created by the Eridians to enforce their Mantle (but not without controversy). This may include destroying all life in the universe, to stop said life from bringing about a worse fate (Flood), except she’s too late. When she finds out that other viewpoints exist (through reading Revenant’s computer core) she has a bit of an offscreen meltdown, culminating in her surrender to the heroes and a massive instance of Brought Down to Normal.
  • Kick the Dog: Sarah (imprisoning teenagers), Aria (burning civilian homes, meleeing doctors, taking Trans-Galactic Republic hostages, threatening to execute said hostages…). Both have a technically-good larger goal, which makes sense for these Unscrupulous Anti-Heroes.
  • Kill It with Fire: Aria’s reaction to the Infection/Flood. In this universe at least, it turns out to work well.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Enforced during the design of Nova Vita due to turbolasers requiring Tibanna gas (a resource not generally found outside the Trans-Galactic Republic). The supership ends up armed with Magnetic Accelerator Cannons and Super-Thanix energy projectors (which don’t use Tibanna and aren’t really energy weapons).
  • Laughing Mad: Sarah doesn’t qualify in her characterization since she isn’t actually insane or laughing at the crisis itself, but others (such as Armando Bailey) certainly think she is. This is due to her very casual, almost nonchalant attitude toward stamping out all life in the Prime Universe. When her purpose and origins become clearer, we find out she’s Just Following Orders.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Shepard’s knock-knock joke. The whole squad groans. Even Gaige doesn’t like it.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Conversed regarding Prazza (ME 2 Red Shirt) and Han’Gerrel vas Neema.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: The reason the Trans-Galactic Republic is terrified of the Flood, thinking them to be the long-gone Yuuzhan Vong (who in Legend Fades to Myth style are imagined to be far worse than they actually were). This applies to virtually all canon “Star Wars” history, being millions of years ago and not Ragnarok Proof.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: During the Omega assault, Shepard breaks her team into two commands (rhetorical split), then after running into a yahg-asari, decides to try a two-pronged assault (physical split).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: When the author has to keep a multi-page Excel sheet to track both the Loads of existing canon characters and the Loads and Loads of Original Characters…
  • Loophole Abuse: Samara is compelled to prevent the torture of prisoners by the Code (note: fanon)…unless they’re going to be put to death (also fanon; the Code is a Sparse List of Rules). Then she doesn’t have to do a thing. She also takes Garrus at his word that the criminal in question will definitely be sentenced to death, despite only being in the interrogation phase, allowing herself to step aside.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Tormenting Swarm cruisers live this trope. The name kind of gives an idea…
  • Mad Scientist: The Republic Intelligence Service employs a few, who do experiments For the Evulz.
  • Magnetic Hero: Samantha Shepard, par for the course even with people from outside her galaxy/universe.
  • Mako Mori Test: Easy pass just like the Bechdel Test. In fact, the women of this story don’t talk about men much at all. They all have their own narrative arcs, Jackie and Moxxi especially. Shepard? Men? What? Aside from Shepard-Beta and Bitch!Jackie, the women in this story are all single. They don’t care. They don’t talk about not having boyfriends/husbands/babies/marriage, and none of them exist to support a male character.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Republic Intelligence Service tries to do this as much as a government agency can. They flip-flop on whether they’re gunning for the heroes or aiming guns at the heroes (see Heel-Face Revolving Door) depending on the circumstances. It’s also entirely possible RISE could be at war with itself—the plot does not make clear whether all RISE activities are known to the RISE Council, which makes RISE less Manipulative Bastard and more Jurisdiction Friction.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Legion is fond of these, as is Mordin Solis regarding the genophage cure. Legion does this in Cortana’s presence—she finds it amusing (when discussing whether or not the two synthetics should engage in computer-based conversation in the presence of organics who could not comprehend such an exchange).
  • Mauve Shirt: Captain Bill Ricker, himself a shout-out to “William Riker” (decidedly not a Red Shirt), and his Amerigo. They’re highly plot-relevant, but get jumped by Flood and survive only long enough to get Patricia Tannis and her slipspace drive off to the SETTLE Center.
  • Might Makes Right: Sarah, in a nutshell as of Chapter 39. Her creators gave her a mission, told her that she was to permit nothing to interfere, and that unless someone (i.e. them, due to no one else being able to fight her effectively barring a team of Sirens) intervened, she was to continue no matter what protests her actions might cause. She literally knows nothing else.
  • Mildly Military: The Trans-Galactic Republic, again, partially enabled by their Sufficiently Advanced Alien status relative to other civilizations (efficiency losses due to having civilian-grade comforts on a weapon of war = not worth discussing). Carries over from “Fractured” and gets lampshaded several times. Of course, the fact that the Trans-Galactic Republic doesn’t consider even its biggest Star Dreadnaughts to be actual warships means technically, they were never military to begin with. Just extremely-well-armed “exploration” vessels. Pending legislation may end this rather silly distinction.
  • Mind Rape: A very strange example. Sarah is taken briefly by the Gravemind, who subjects her to this. However, in doing so (by probing her mind for information about what is clearly a threat) he breaks down all the conditioning Reform!Eridians put in place that made her into a villain during most of her appearances up to this point. He also forces her to experience (on a deeper level) the lives of people like those whose letters she read while digging through Revenant’s computer core and in doing so, forces her to confront what she’s done without the blinders her creators put on. See Nice Job Fixing It, Villain. Sarah herself inadvertently triggers this while rooting through Jackie’s head. Having pulled up years of memories surrounding actual rape (which due to her limited exposure Sarah doesn’t quite understand—at least not at first), she triggers a defense mechanism even a Current Channeler cannot resist, pulled into Jackie’s nightmare world.
  • Miss Exposition: Sarah. Justified in-universe because there is no way for the heroes or their sidekicks to know any of the things she does. She also believes her knowledge imparted by the Forebears is too much for lesser minds, only offering it after being nagged. This often turns those she expositizes to into The Watson.
  • Mood Whiplash: Here’s a hilarious scene of Handsome Jack-Beta getting beaten up by angry Delta-Sirens! Followed by a discussion of weighty medical ethics issues and Shepard-Beta’s death with Kaidan-Beta at her side.
  • Murderous Thighs: Elsmeni the treacherous asari tries this on Shepard. Surprise: it doesn’t work.
  • Multiverse: Several. And FTL travel is not helping keep them apart.
  • Mundane Utility: The super-ships from “Fractured” make a return…as impromptu mining drills.
  • My Greatest Failure: Shepard experiences it when her galaxy falls to the Flood. It’s even more psychologically damaging than Canon!Shepard who lost Earth and Thessia.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The “tear” in the Enterprise System is basically this—it lets slipspace interact with realspace, permitting Infected Reapers to pour in.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Shepard needs to hack into a store terminal because she’s suspicious that the store is a front and/or trading in dangerous merchandise (aka superlaser tech). She has James Vega successfully distract the clerk, then sends Legion to tail said clerk aboard Phoenix due to his perfect memory, ability to use the ship’s computers to spy, and completely indifference to sexual advances. Only after sending Legion back to the ship does it occur to her that her hacking device (Legion) is now unavailable. Aria (if she can be called a hero) arguably derailed everything by messing with the Trans-Galactic Republic’s Hammer ships that would have destroyed an Infected Omega, preventing the formation of a Gravemind.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Way to go, RISE. You failed at killing Sarah, pissed her off, and now she’s found a new purpose: kicking your ass. Double points to the Gravemind, whose Mind Rape causes Sarah to undergo a Heel-Face turn of sorts.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: When the younger Maya pilots a blastboat into the Flood-ified Omega’s hanger, she goes over the dock with turbolasers once more just to be sure. Cortana’s Flood-disinfection has three layers: iodine bath, UV light, and snap-freeze. Because one Flood spore is bad news.
  • Noodle Incident: Now averted regarding whatever Gaige did to the Roland’s engines in “Fractured.” It gets explained in Technobabble between Cortana and Gaige. Whatever Joker said to Maya remains unexplained, however.
  • Nonindicative Name: Atlas’ CUBE cloning systems are very not-cube-shaped.
  • No Warping Zone: The Gravemind creates a huge one around Flood-Omega, spanning some sixteen-thousand lightyears in diameter. Even the Trans-Galactic Republic’s technobabble (canonically established Hyperwave Inertial Momentum Sustainers) can’t cross it.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Despite noticing that both Moxxi and Jackie possess ample bosoms, a marine watching Hanger 8 aboard Veritas immediately dials them in upon noticing their misbehavior.
  • Not So Different: The Eridians/Forerunners had extremely sophisticated technology, but their thought processes were little removed from the less-advanced races they cultivated. They still made mistakes, which as a result of their technological edge, were consequently larger (creating Sarah, keeping the Flood around to “study”).
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Citadel Council lives this trope in the games, in “Fractured,” and somewhat here, though less so as they’ve finally started to realize how dumb they’ve looked in the past.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Wolf Schmidt. However, it’s partially Justified in-universe and makes Schmidt somewhat Genre Savvy—not buying any crazy story without evidence is the mark of a good guard, not a bad one. Especially when the story is coming from aliens whose species he’d never interacted with. Later, this gets subverted as Schmidt reveals himself to be working with the Republic Intelligence Service and offers help to the heroes.
  • O.C. Stand-in: Quite a few to go with the straight OC’s. Tannis (scientist), Moxxi (bartender/announcer), Athena (questgiver). This even happens to entire species (Eridians, and in a way a certain type of thresher).
  • Odd Name Out: Sirens and “The First Siren.” Lilith, Maya, Angel…and Sarah.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted with Katie Ballard and Kevin Filner (specifically not a particle physicist so he does not attempt to understand what he is observing with his threshers)—they both have specialties. That generally are incompatible with being studied in the same lab-space. In a sense, Patricia Tannis, in that she’s not an omnidisciplinary character—she is specifically noted to be bad at combat since she normally just sends Vault Hunters to get things for her (see: canon Borderlands). Tannis also sucks at learning how to write programs to run on the Amerigo to analyze her relics. She is still very smart, but not a computer guru.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Republic Intelligence Service Council. Technically, they’re supervised by a Director, but only time will tell who is actually in charge.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted for “Jack,” as Handsome Jack (in several universes) and Jack-Subject-Zero exist simultaneously. Averted for situations in which characters cross over from other realities into the Prime where that individual still lives—two Mayas, two Shepards, etc.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: Played straight with the 3X-Shieldslammer Shepard uses against Elsmeni.
  • Overly Long Gag: Poor Sarah. Her underlings laugh at her for quite a while after her real name (instead of her alias “The Lady”) is revealed.
  • Pet the Dog: Sarah/her minions have this with Jack’s students. They don’t treat the students badly other than locking them up and forcing them to power Sarah’s Star Dreadnaught. The Republic Intelligence Service often sends operatives to their deaths, but when it’s not necessary appropriate survival mechanisms (such as escape pods) are provided.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Played for laughs. There is a single pink button that Sarah uses to connect the Siren Serenade (former Revenant) to a construction yard in a remote location. Nothing else is pink.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: Averted for the salarians—they still can’t hack the Trans-Galactic Republic’s computers. Played straight but for laughs with using six adapters to convert a Trans-Galactic Republic data drive to a format that can interface with a Jakobs mobile shipyard.
  • Point Defenseless: Averted for SETTLE. The SETTLE facility has point defenses… They just can’t handle hundreds of incoming missiles at once! Played straight and discussed regarding Aspirations Toward Infinity, which had virtually none as it was designed to kill Reapers, not swat starfighters. Ultimatum is specifically noted to have point-defense systems. Both energy-based and physical (old fashioned gunpowder).
  • Poor Communication Kills: While failures to communicate don’t really result in deaths (thus far), the distributed nature of knowledge regarding the Flood, slipspace, black hole threshers, and the exact nature of the multiverse is not helping anyone. This is an attempt to integrate Reality Ensues, from a Doylist point of view anyway—when you have different cultures, different technologies, different personalities, different laws, different customs… Things are not going to go smoothly all the time and to have them do so would make a short, boring story!
  • Precision F-Strike: Fittingly, Aria T’Loak. Several times. In fact, other than Jack, Aria has done almost all the four-letter-talking in the entire story.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: The Commander Shepard reconstruction project is called Durius, Melius, Velocius, Fortior (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger).
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Barrier tech is maintained from a biotic’s mental concentration, and when severely overloaded by a disruptor blast, the result isn’t pretty (sorry Elsmeni).
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Sarah. What happens when the Infection (Flood) shows up? She calls the Citadel Council to say “Told-you-so, told-you-so, told-you-so” before becoming more serious. In Chapter 39, it’s revealed why this is the case—she got put on ice after going nuts. She was only created with a lot of knowledge of things, not people, so the extent of how she relates to others is “Are you helping me? No? DIE.” She is very booksmart (thanks to her Eridian/Forerunner/Forebear roots) but completely people-dumb other than ordering her Lady Fingers around and manipulating others to do what she wants.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Some of the mercenaries working under Omega Defense Force qualify. They’re not nice people, but they’re not actively evil unless paid to be.
  • Put on a Bus: Anna Erickson. She was kind of important during the last story and the epilogue suggested she’d be important in any future sequel. Instead, she disappears after rescuing the heroes in Chapter 1. She reappears when Shepard awakes, but vanishes after that.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Downplayed. Ancient history (Star Wars canon) didn’t exactly survive millions of years of wars, changes in tech, and other assorted integrity-reducing events unscathed. Thus, Legend Fades to Myth.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Just like in the canon game, Shepard’s crew is anything but traditional. It gets so bad she has the ship purposefully enlarged to deal with too many elbows bumping.
  • Rape as Backstory: Jackie. Research went into avoiding Sympathy Sue. YMMV on whether that was achieved.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Zer 0 gives up a contract to protect Jackie (who he doesn’t even know) from two Atlas thugs.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: The Mass Effect canon EVA Hazard scale tops out at 3 ingame. Eridum slag from Sarah’s additions to Revenant rate a 5 (near-instant-death toxic).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Many, some carrying over their canonical personalities in doing so. Admiral Hackett definitely qualifies. Adam Grayson zig-zags this by sometimes being helpful but other times being evasive. Urdnot Wrex is this for his whole species. Wolf Schmidt is ultimately revealed to be this after obfuscating as an Obstructive Bureaucrat. Trans-Galactic Republic captains generally act like this too. KOMBT students believe Armando Bailey to be one.
  • The Reveal: So that Rich Bitch Love-to-Hate Jackie who tortured Garrus, Athena, Axton, and Maya? About that... Freudian Excuse incoming!
  • Rich Bitch: Jackie. Heiress to the massive Jakobs fortune, and she knows it (until her Heel Realization and subsequent Heel-Face Turn).
  • Rock Beats Laser: Simultaneously played straight and played for laughs. Hey, Trans-Galactic Republic, remember those fancy hibridium cloaking devices? Yeah, they don’t hide the magnetic properties of metals used in starship hulls… Also sets up a Weaksauce Weakness.
  • Rule of Cool: Standard fare for any sci-fi, required for effective crossovers. But also explicitly invoked describing Torgue’s irregular designs—how cool can they be? Not “how practical,” “how safe,” or “how efficient.” The Maliwans are annoyed by this because it (unsurprisingly) inhibits military effectiveness.
  • Russian Reversal: Tali on time in slipspace: “We’re not messing with time, time is messing with us”.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: See the Fractured entry on this—while large galaxies aren't generally this close together, smaller satellites of the Real Life Milky Way are within 500,000 l/y.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Aria attempting to get aboard the Citadel after fleeing an Infected Omega.
  • Screw the Rules, It's the Apocalypse!: Sam Shepard doesn’t have to obey galactic speed limits as a Spectre (Screw the Rules, I Make Them!) but even if she did, she wouldn’t have, since it was paramount she speak to Aria ASAP according to Cortana.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Both factions who normally wear the “Can’t Argue With Elves” hat get this treatment, from the other “Elves” faction no less (TGR to the asari and vice-versa).
  • Seen It All: Shepard. By the time Master Chief shows up, she just doesn’t give a shit if the weirdness she saw yesterday (which topped the day before) is subsequently topped by today’s.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The instructions from the Eridians to Sarah upon her creation can sound like this.
  • Sex Is Evil: Jackie’s subplot flirts with this, but doesn’t quite hit it straight. Unattached, depraved sex used as a coping mechanism to deal with Rape as Backstory is bad. Her therapist even notes how unhealthy this message could be if it is inadvertently conveyed to Jackie.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Moxxi’s motivation for taking in Jackie, another server for her bar. Needless to say, due to Jackie’s backstory, dealing with leering, grabby men is not on her list of want-to-do’s.
  • Ship Tease: Athena/Garrus, Athena/Shepard, Aria/Shepard, Maya-Prime/Garrus, Axton/Shepard. Yeah. Everyone still wants to bang Shepard.
  • Shout-Out: Stuffed. The canon source material, other games, popular culture, internet memes… Nothing’s off-limits or too subtle. This includes references to Mass Effect 3, which didn’t even exist at the time the preceding tract (“Fractured”) was started!
  • Show Within a Show: “Persephone’s Predators,” a science-fiction series show on omnitools. Also, several times either a character lampshades or the narration suggests something is “like the omnivids,” implying the existence of additional Shows Within a Show.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Played straight by a terror group and exploited by Allison Nimitz—her opponents think like this so she specifically defies the traditional line of thought to beat them early in her career.
  • Sparse List of Rules: The Trans-Galactic Republic’s “military law” is somewhat organized in a file for consistency (regulations for X generally go in Section A, but regulations for Y generally go in Section B), but it is basically a big blank otherwise, to be filled as the plot demands. The Justicar Code is canonically this as the only parts of it filled in by BioWare have been sections relevant to the game plot in Mass Effect 2.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Sarah, the Super Sith Siren of Doom!
  • State Sec: The Republic Intelligence Service is starting to look more and more like this, given it makes military budget requests that would be expected to come from the regular Navy and Army, has control/kill switches on many Trans-Galactic Republic warships, and bullied its way out from under oversight of a hostile Senate committee to having its own committee.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Sarah “easily cracked the two meter barrier” and is considered attractive by other characters.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Master Chief, of all people, manages to pull this off on Shepard several times. This is exclusively comedic, as he appears to drop a witty or pithy line. He is not teleporting as per some instances of the trope, he just so happens to walk up behind at convenient times.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Wrex does this a number of times when krogan threaten to backslide into the behaviors that turned them into galactic pariahs.
  • Straw Civilian: The United Defense Command sees all civilians this way. The Republic Intelligence Service may too—only time will tell. They’re already State Sec, so this wouldn’t be much of a jump.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Rakkman. He was a small O.C. Stand-in during Fractured, providing important information to the heroes. He isn’t even mentioned in Origins until Tannis finds him…dead. It isn’t even explained how or why he died.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted as Flood!Revenant destroys the MALITOR fleet while Nimitz, Garrus, the Master Chief, Cortana, Sarah, and Grayson talk.
  • Take That!: Screw you, Mass Effect elevator! “Sith” has also become Siren/Lady Finger slang for “to fuck up” and a “dirty word” in general within the SW universe. Maya gives a pretty big one to her former captors, the Order of the Impending Storm.
  • Take Our Word for It/A Form You Are Comfortable With/Cannot Grasp The True Form: The Eridians. The Doylist reason is that the author does not want to describe them since there is no canon for them and it was decided this was best left up to the reader as to what “Eridians” are in their natural realm. The “Forerunners” are taken to be showing themselves in a form that makes sense to lesser beings when in their universe—in their own space Forerunners/Eridians cannot be comprehended by “mere mortals.”
  • Talking Your Way Out/Take a Third Option: Samantha Shepard is as fond of this as any other Commander Shepard would be. When she can’t do it on the fly (like Chapter 45), it’s noted to be odd for her.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Only when opinions in the mixed Mass Effect/Borderlands/OC team regarding what to do (three galaxy-destroying problems all hitting at once) come up. Some want to focus on the Flood, others on Sarah, and still others on the interspatial rifts. Shepard bans discussion of these things as a result.
  • Telepathy: Sarah. Unless the target has some kind of conditioning, reading minds for her is like reading displays for normal people. It’s not omnipresent, though—if she isn’t consciously trying to read your mind, she won’t hear your thoughts.
  • Temporal Paradox: Averted. The time-travel leads to other universes, so while things may change there, they don’t change in the Prime Universe.
  • Tim Taylor Technology: More power to the engines!
  • Too Much Information: Several times, mostly related to Shepard asking Legion for something, then regretting his Ludicrous Precision combined with the occasional Mathematician’s Answer responses. Generally related to organics and their “sexual behavior.” Spoken verbatim by Shepard at least once. Garrus gets in on it interrogating some smugglers who worked with Morinth, who is revealed to be quite skilled in bed (and uses it to ply the men she manipulated prior to being killed by Samara).
  • Training from Hell: It is revealed the Kinetic-Oriented Multiple Belligerent Training School does this, with its students’ explicit permission, and has done so since the Reaper War. Unpleasant comparisons arise to the Systems Alliance’s Biotic Acclimation and Temperance Training are made, but Jack verbally beats down those who question her methods. None of her students complain. It comes in handy for the students when dealing with Sarah.
  • Transformation at the Speed of Plot: Real therapy for backstories as dark as Jackie’s would probably take years, if not decades or an entire lifetime to bring any measure of closure. Obviously, such reality would drastically slow down the plot, if not outright break it.
  • Troll: Sarah. Mostly played for laughs, except for her reaction to Selina. Also relates to her Psychopathic Womanchild tendencies. Jack does this—stealing items of little consequence (such as pens) from her students, then blaming “interspatial rifts.” None of them suspect her—and then it turns out there aren’t any rifts in the KOMBT School because they don’t form near biotics… Cortana gets in on it, knowing Aria T’Loak is terrified of the Republic Intelligence Service. To get Sam one of her ships back, she hacks into it and displays the RISE logo. Cue quick exit by Aria and her pirate crew.
  • Tsundere: Aria displays shades of such behavior toward Nyreen.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny/Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Headed this direction after already having Mass Effect, Star Wars, and Borderlands. Now, add Halo’s Flood as the new Big Bad! Throw in a Master Chief and Cortana from one of the parallel universes in which the Eridians became Forerunners…
  • Unreliable Narrator: Jackie with regard to how she got her Judge revolver and the story surrounding her “father saving her.” In reality, Atlas thugs killed her father a long time ago—she was kept as a sex slave until escaping using the revolver she now carries.
  • The War Has Just Begun: Garrus gives a combination of this and Rousing Speech in Chapter 46 after Shepard snaps and he is thrust into her place.
  • The Watson: Samantha Shepard often finds herself asking “What the hell is going on?” Ditto Tannis to Sarah in their small encounter within Chapter 26. Most major participants in the story search for explanations behind strange happenings at least once.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The CRITICAL governments (Citadel Council, Trans-Galactic Republic) have problems with each other’s methods and strategies. Especially when the Republic Intelligence Service starts pissing off EVERYONE, and Aria T’Loak does things her own way in the Terminus Systems. Meanwhile, the Infection/Flood and Sarah rampage unchecked.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Aldrae Shamul (introduced to die trying to interface with a Reaper in the same paragraph), Athena-Delta (dies to cause Mallory-Delta angst), Malcolm-Delta (same as Athena), Emma Carter (dies to permit Exposition regarding a weapon which itself ends up foreshadowing a key plot event).
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Trans-Galactic Republic cloaking devices based on hibridium fail to conceal the magnetic properties of the underlying hull. A sufficiently strong magnet close enough to the ship (keeping in mind exponential decay over distance) will be attracted to that ship. Attach tracking device, track “hidden” ship, profit!
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Easy to do when your ship’s engines are meant to move over a quadrillion metric tons of mass…
  • Weirdness Magnet: Samantha Shepard Prime. Lampshaded in Chapter 20. Leads to her Seen it All attitude.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Legion experiences this during Mass Effect 2 when asked why it used pieces of Shepard’s armor to repair itself. All “Legion-class platforms” (being more exposed to organics than the rest of the geth) experience this when advocating for defense of other life against the Infection. However, the geth species as a whole has no idea how to process these “emotions” and initially refuses to do anything more than defend itself should the Infection come knocking. Cortana helps them out in this regard. Sarah experiences this question in Chapter 39 after cracking open the former Revenant’s archives—realizing there is far more to living than doing what the Forebears programmed her to do, and far more to understand than only “book smarts.”
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 16. It even has a note about its content at the beginning.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: All over the place given the Loads and Loads of Characters. Some characters who suffer from this existed only to do one or two things—continuing to follow them would have led to Trapped By Mountain Lions or similarly uninteresting/unrelated content. From a Doylist perspective, the author didn’t want to keep track of them anymore.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Trans-Galactic Republic gets hit with this a lot. Sure, they saved the galaxy from the Reapers, but their insistence on playing all cards close to the chest until forced by circumstances to share information with their supposed Council allies irks more than one person. Grayson does it to Tevos regarding the asari’s covertly sitting on a Prothean beacon long after creating laws to prevent other species from doing the same thing. Aria gives this lecture to the Trans-Galactic Republic/RISE, or tries to. Cortana gives such a lecture to Samantha Shepard, citing the latter’s service history and ability to achieve the impossible as reasons why Shepard should be leading the charge against the Infection. Of course, this is only partially justified as Shepard is not actually trying to avoid the fight—she just isn’t ready yet and, frankly, is fed up with being asked to fix everything while others (namely the Council and Aria) make the problem worse.
  • Wiki Walk: Of all people, Sarah. Once she opens Revenant’s computer core out of boredom, she learns quite a bit about the world beyond destroying things the Forebears told her are bad.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Axton and Garrus. Granted, Jackie Jakobs isn’t exactly an undeserving target… Until you learn why she’s the way she is, anyway.
  • The Worf Effect: Surprisingly, the Maxthon class gets subtly hit with this. It’s presented as the ultimate solution to any extra-galactic threat, unlike its single-purpose predecessor. Yet, when the Flood shows up, it doesn’t last long. That said, it could be argued Worf Had the Flu, or Worf Suffered From Poor Tactics—one ship vs. a swarm isn’t going to go over well no matter what ship it is. Even Revenant eventually fell with enough hammering. Larger/tougher ships just last longer before succumbing. In Chapter 41, it might be contended the asari suffer from this, as they were once the most powerful species in Citadel space but get overrun by the Flood in weeks. That said, compare the asari to the Trans-Galactic Republic and they’re not so powerful anymore. The Trans-Galactic Republic also has yet to be steamrollered by the Flood.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Averted for Moxxi and her kids; there are tables proving that the births/deaths/ages fit. Soft-averted for most travel times; estimates given In-Universe FTL times were used.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In a rare moment, Samantha Shepard. Given the kind of life Samantha Shepard has lived, however, it’s excusable for her to think that the cargo carrier she’s on is being hijacked when all that happened was best described as a cosmic speed bump.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In a way. Sarah’s “I Surrender, Suckers” means that her overall goal will be achieved. Either the Flood destroy everything, ending damage to space, or in fear of the Flood, the galaxy lets her go which also results in damage to space ending. She doesn’t accomplish either, even though the basic ingredients are present. The Republic Intelligence Service sets one up trying to kill Sarah with Eridum gas—either they capture her in a weakened state enabling control to be asserted, she dies and her body provides useful intel, or she dies removing a threat to RISE. Her not dying and getting stronger never crossed their minds…
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The TekShot 450-A CissionTrak. The scientists aboard Amerigo (being proponents of proper spelling) hate the name. The computer core is also slow, so they hate that too.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Shepard, after discovering sophisticated hacking tech inside Elsmeni’s bra.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Renegade!Aria to Shepard, in a small nod to the Omega DLC canon.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins