When There Was a Tomorrow is a Halo/Mass Effect crossover by General Rage. Set after the events of Mass Effect 2 and its subsequent Lair of the Shadow Broker arc, it begins with Team Normandy doing recon of a wormhole in search of a possible Reaper threat. The Paragon Commander Wade Shepard (Vanguard, Spacer/War Hero background) deals with tensions among his crew (and his current relationship with Tali) at first, only to come under abrupt attack from an (unbeknownst to them) Covenant warship during their observation.After repelling boarders and destroying the ship from within, another Covenant warship ends up chasing them through the wormhole...and into an Alternate Universe where another humanity's first contact with alien species didn't go so well (well, not that it went well in the Mass Effect universe). After making some serious diplomatic efforts to assure some local naval assets they mean no harm, the Normandy is towed to the fortress world of Reach, and as a show of good will, Shepard offers to assist with a downed communications relay to prove that his alien crew our on the level...only for things to go south.Simply put, this story is a rather well thought out What If? scenario dealing with the differences between Mass Effect and Halo's technology, provides more than a few interestinginteractions between the relatively xenophobic humans of the Halo universe and the Normandy Crew, and Shepard struggling to deal with The Chains of Commanding as he's thrust out of one apocalypse in the making and into another, not to mention some of the best written battle sequences since Finishing The Fight.As of July 31 2012, the story is complete. The author has stated his plans to make it into a series (now titled The Wormhole Chronicles) with this book as the first, and posted the first chapter of the next book, Guilty Sparks, the day before Halo 4 was released.
This fanfic contains examples of:
Action Bomb: Gremlins (Grunt Husks), unlike their un-Huskified fellows, need no longer rely on plasma grenades to suicidally blow away their foes.
AI Is A Crap Shoot: Despite just getting comfortable with EDI and Legion, Tali is apprehensive at the sheer pervasiveness of AI use in the Halo universe, and is happy to share her objections where appropriate.
A more straightforward use of this trope would be the Covenant AI that EDI fights in the first chapters.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Because of this trope, the Normandy crew tries to keep quiet about the whole "Reaper" business, since they assumed UNSC Command would think them as crazy. After Reapers are revealed to be involved, the crew is suprised that the Halo soldiers accept their information verbatim.
Bond Villain Stupidity: The Inquisitor is quick to reveal his plans to Shepard, consisting of massing a Covenant Armada on Reach, then creating a wormhole back to the Mass Effect Universe to use as a vanguard (similar to the geth) to the Reaper invasion.However, it's worth noting that The Inquisitor only confirmed what Shepard already knew or otherwise could have guessed from the data Legion gave him.
That, and a conversation between The Inquisitor and Harbinger at the end of the story reveals The Inquisitor was lying about its long term plans for The Covenant.
Shepard and Carter have a touching conversation about this in New Alexandria, and it helps break Shepard out of his Heroic BSOD.
Cool Ship: The Normandy was this to begin with, but compared to Halo's technology, is this compared even to local ships. Nonetheless, Shepard starts requisitioning a slipspace drive and other goodies to make it even cooler.
As of Chapter 10, it's paid off. Joker and EDI have used their new weapons to utterly decimate Covenant Wraith and anti-air formations.
Distracted by the Sexy: In chapter 5, Garrus figures that the reason why Emile seems less angry about being paired with two aliens is either because Emile respects Garrus more, or because Samara's outfit has a V-neck. A little more literal example is a few scenes later, when the three are ambushed by a lone grunt while Emile is commenting that she looks good for her age.
Exact Words: Samara promised to free an Unggoy from pain after the interrogation... and when Emile kills the unggoy, she admits that she was about to do the same.
Fanboy: Kreave is as much as a Krogan can be in regards to Shepard. Unfortunately, this manifests as wanting to best and kill him in single combat. Case in point: when he learned Shepard was on Reach, he dedicated every moment to finding the Commander, and even trained his own Krogan Vanguards to emulate Shepard's fighting style.
Many UNSC Marines were rather endeared towards Samara.
Fantastic Racism: The humans of the UNSC in general and the Spartans of Noble Team in particular are initially very leery of the aliens on the Normandy crew (save Jorge). Carter and Kat get snapped out of it when Legion pretty bluntly points out how illogical the whole thing is, pointing to how the UNSC is willing to trust AI.
It's somewhat justified, and the text explains this, because the only aliens that UNSC humans have encountered (before the Normandy showed up) have tried to drive their species to extinction and burn their worlds to glass. Called back in the sequel when one of the posters in the Pillar Of Autumn has pictures of the non-human members of Shepard's crew with the title "Don't shoot these."
The Ghost: It took almost a dozen chapters before the Big Bad A Reaper called The Inquisitor was even named. It has yet to speak or make a physical appearance in the story as of Chapter 14, though it has been the subject of multiple conversations since its first mention.
It finally appears in Chapter 18 and it's not in very good shape.
Guns Akimbo: The first Hunter husks encountered, one having two assault cannons and the other having two shields modified with gravity hammers installed in them.
Heroic BSOD: While recovering in the medbay from getting curb-stomped by a Hunter, Grunt realizes how much his arrogance has embarrassed himself and Shepard. He doesn't take it well when Shepard insists his injuries were punishment enough and demands worse. He eventually concedes to Shepard refusing to take him along on missions for the next few days.
Shepard is described as not being "in a commanding mood" in Chapter 18 after Tali's apparent death.
Heroic Sacrifice: Lieutenant Colonel Jensen gives up his Gauss Warthog to Kowalski and his squad in order to stay behind in their totaled warthog, manning the machine gun in order to hold off incoming Covenant so the others can escape to the Autumn.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Inverted with The Inquisitor's portal device Shepard uses the unstable biotic energies of its host body to turn it into an improvised bomb, destroying both its avatar and the device's reactor.
Hope Spot: The possibility for Jorge surviving Operation: Uppercut is set up by virtue of Legion joining in on it. He still dies. It's just as tragic as it sounds.
I Did What I Had to Do: Dr. Halsey says as much to Shepard when explaining The Spartan-II's recruitment process. The Normandy Crew have differing opinions on whether it was the right thing.
Mordin and The Master Chief personally assure her that she did.
Tali is of mixed feelings. On one hand, her upbringing as part of a very tight-knit community thinks it's reprehensible, while on the other, she spent a lot of time with Halsey and even has her diary, which shows what Halsey really thought.
If I Wanted You Dead...: Jack comments that if she left the team, Samara would kill her. Samara quickly corrects her, saying that if it wasn't for the oath she swore to Shepard, Jack would have been dead months ago.
Insistent Terminology: In the first two chapters, characters are always quick to remind other characters that wormholes "pull," not "suck."
In Spite of a Nail: The Shepard crew's presence does nothing to prevent Jorge and Carter from dying, nor does it make any difference on whether Reach falls.
Ironic Echo: With Shepard at his mercy, Inquisitor-possessed Xytas tells the Commander "You fought somewhat proficiently, but it was futile...This outcome was never in doubt." Shepard throws those words back in his face When he turns the Inquisitor's form into an improvised bomb to destroy the portal device.
No Sell: Jack and the other team biotics run into this when they attempt to biotically throw a hunter. It's not that they have some sort of device that makes them immune to being tossed, it's that they're so massive and heavy that they can't be thrown biotically (without massive effort, that is.)
Not So Different: Shepard and his crew can't help but see an uncomfortable number of parallels between The Illusive Man and Dr. Halsey, and several of his teammates seem to be losing respect for him for siding with her, maintaining loyalty only because Shepard thinks she's their only ticket home.
On a more positive note, Halsey and Mordin. Both are achieved scientists grateful to be acquainted with somebody who can actually follow them in a conversation. They even participate in some friendly scientific banter during their interactions.
Shepard notes that the Hunters, being hive-minded worms working together with hundreds of them in one body, aren't too dissimilar from how the Geth operate.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kreave holds this mentality regarding Shepard. So much that he's attacked Sword Base not for the chance to recover the artifact underneath it, but to get the chance to capture Shepard and face him one-on-one.
Xytas is similarly zealous about slaying "The False Shepard," and once The Inquisitor activates his Reaper implants, he and Kreave briefly butt heads over the privilege during a firefight with him.
Oh Crap: Everyone's reaction to finding out that the Covenant have inexplicably acquired Mass Effect technology.
Another one comes when they find out That the Batarians, Blood Pack, and The Reapers are giving the Covenant their support.
Particularly when Garrus, Tali, and Six end up fighting an Elite Husk.
The arrival of "The Centipede," a husk made out of fused together drones.
Poor Communication Kills: Shepard secretly orders Legion to hack into the Covenant Battlenet aboard the Corvette. Joker and EDI see a transmission go out from said Corvette, think they're trying to warn the Carrier about Operation Uppercut, and send a counter signal to overload the source, incapacitating Legion.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Colonel Urban Holland is willing to stick his neck out to help Shepard, most notably when he bails the Commander out when Colonel Ackerson reneges on a deal they make for their freedom. Admiral Gravelston counts too, for hearing Shepard out after first happening upon him after they arrive in the Halo universe.
Reporting Names: For the Covenant-type Husks, courtesy of Noble Team: "Centipedes" for the multi-Drone Husks, "Gremlins" for Grunt Husks, and "Reavers" for Elite Husks.
Right Behind Me: Several marines are talking about how Miranda saved them with "Psychic Powers," (biotics), when several others come up and start talking about Samara doing the same thing. Just as one is about to comment on *ahem* at least two of her attributes, one of his fellow soldiers stops him, simply pointing behind him, to reveal the Asari in question.
The Rival: Katherine feels somewhat threatened by having Tali, another mechanic, on the team for their first mission together. She gets over it by the time it's over though.
Chapter one has Kasumi mention that she went to a restaurant that runs simulations of the end of the universe, which sounds like a similar eating establishment in Douglass Adams' book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
"We got less than twenty four hours to get off this mud ball, Aszod is over 75 miles away from our current position, we have no idea if this ship is gonna be there or how many bad guys are in our way, we're tired, low on fuel, food and ammo, it's dark and I'm wearing sunglasses."
In Chapter 18, Kasumi's talking with Six. While they're talking, she says this line when asked why she's staying with the Normandy: "Because I can help." She answered simply "Because I don't turn my back on my friends. I owe them, all of them, and if that means I have to duck and cover more often than not fine. Leaf on the wind, I go where it takes me." It's possible that the "Leaf in the wind," line comes from Serenity, where Wash says a similar line in the Finale.
Stations Of The Canon: In the broad strokes, the plot of "When There Was A Tomorrow," plays out much the same as the plot of Halo: Reach. However, at the same time things are radically different: the Covenant are much stronger, and only by the intervention of the Normandy Crew does it work the way it does. Also, by the start of "Guilty Sparks," the changes are starting to add up: The Master Chief is not the only Spartan on board the Pillar of Autumn, as it also contains Kat and Jun, as well as Linda.
Tempting Fate: In chapter two, Jack asks why Grunt didn't kill some of the Unggoy (Covenant Grunts) that were running away. He replies that they are not worth killing, and that they aren't shooting back. Seconds later, a barrage of plasma forces them into cover, forcing Grunt to admit that these aliens are worthy of being killed.
Villainous Breakdown: Even when every last one of his Blood Pack subordinates are dead, Kreave only finally starts to lose it when Six stabs him in the head and starts peeling off his crest, and briefly crosses the Despair Event Horizon while dying, fearing he won't be remembered gloriously.
We ARE Struggling Together: Almost no one in the UNSC trusts Shepard's crew at first, in addition to Halsey's pre-existing rivalry with Colonel Ackerson from canon.
Emile really doesn't like Garrus, for that matter.
Kreave does not think highly of Elites, and he and the Shipmaster of the Long Night of Solace demonstrate undisguised contempt for one another over not letting Kreave's Blood Pack mercenaries go on the offensive.
Wham Episode: Chapters 10 and 11 are back to back Wham Episodes, revealing that Balak, the Blood Pack, and the Reapers have thrown their lot in with the Covenant.
In Chapter 15 Jorge still dies. Made all the more heart-wrenching by hints that it might have been averted.
In Chapter 18, Not only does The Inquisitor reveal itself and its motives, but as Noble Team and Team Normandy flee to the fallout shelter, Kat tries to explain her reservations about Colonel Holland's latest mission assignment for them Until Grunt narrowly shoves her out of the way of a sniper round, preventing her canonical Plotline Death.
Wham Line: Even before all that comes along, we're given the line "For now simply know that your prior feelings when we first met were understandable and I do not think poorly of you for them." Now, what makes this apparent Character Development laden line so surprising? Legion is the one saying it! What makes it even Whammier is that when Tali points out this change in behavior Legion insists it's not calling itself "I" and seems genuinely unaware that its doing so. The exact significance of this line has yet to be seen, however.
Now it's been extrapolated on. Legion uplinking with DOT caused it to develop a burgeoning sense of individuality.
What the Hell, Hero?: Garrus is horrified when Emile kills a grunt they've finished interrogating, even moreso when Samara, who successfully interrogated the grunt in the first place, said that's what she planned to do anyway, since it would, as she promised, free him from his fear and pain.
This covers Shepard's response to learning about Dr. Halsey's past with the Spartans, and some of his crew's reaction to him (reluctantly) siding with her anyway.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Legion is set up with the possibility of saving Jorge from having to make a Heroic Sacrifice during Operation: Uppercut. Unfortunately, he ends up getting incapacitated and Jorge dies anyway.
Subverted when Kat is saved from being sniped by an opportunistic Jackal when she should have died only to be incapacitated by another sniper a few chapters later. She survives but loses her mechanical arm and is too injured to fight for the rest of the story. Doesn't stop her from helping prepare a nuke.