Fan Fic: Avatar Of Victory

Avatar of Victory by James Golen is a crossover fanfic between the obvious and Mass Effect, a blend of the universes in question that has the Earth of A:TLA replacing the usual one.

What this means for the universe besides Shepard being the Avatar is that Bending is a present and practiced phenomenon among all the races of the Citadel as well as the presence of spirits and certain other aspects of the Avatar universe. Interesting not just because of the crossover itself but because it shows an Avatar who is fundamentally broken and has spent most of her life (including parts of this story) making things worse for herself rather than the spiritual growth that we've seen the other Avatars go through. Fight scenes are excellent and detailed, with most enemies that Shepard faces being competent, and not just because some of them are better at bending then she is. Canon names being included in regard to humans actually does get explained, so don't let that throw you off.

It has a Spacebattles thread dedicated to its updates, available Here.


This fic provides examples of the following:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played around with in the background. They're viewed as something along the lines of Spirits, and how each culture views those spirits shapes how they view AI's. For example, on Thessia, their spiritual experience was mostly negative, so the thought of a machine with a mind of its own makes them have strongly negative views on AI. The Salarians had no knowledge of any type of spirit at all until contact with the Asari, and had their worldview shaped by said contact. Turians, on the other hand, believe that AI could be a good thing, mostly because they have had an extremely positive relationship with spirits, and they believe that (properly controlled and supplicated, like a spirit), could help increase society greatly.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: see more in the "Beethoven Was an Alien Spy" trope below, but suffice it to say, Korra couldn't conceive of alien life forms or the quarter-million year cycle Vaatu and Raava operated on, so she changed things in her mind to allow herself to handle it (not intentionally, just as a coping mechanism).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Ashley Williams - Asha Al'wahim.
    • Legion - Adahn.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Many characters or events that the original Mass Effect series didn't address (what little there is) are expanded on in this fic, and many characters with less screentime are given A Day in the Limelight.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Jack is far more pleasant and joined the Alliance before the story began, and Balak is one of the good guys, while in the main universe he was a batarian terrorist.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The big bad in the Phoenix attack on the Citadel was Councelor Valern, the Salarian Councilor... who hired human groups to make it look like Cerberus, but instead made the majority of the Salarians devote the majority of their war materials and supplies to helping the humans... just as Weaver planned.
  • The Alcoholic: Shepard has been hitting the bottle since before she went through puberty. Udina, himself an alcoholic until he was Reassigned to Antarctica early in his career, suggests that Shepard should sober up because 1) despite her tolerance, she has been legally drunk on several important missions, and a drunk Spectre is bad for PR and 2) her drinking might be impairing her ability to function as the Avatar. Unstated is also 3) that she's in charge of a starship with weapons of mass destruction at her disposal, and being drunk while in charge of those is a really bad idea.
  • Alternate Universe: While as a fusion fic, it's obviously not really in canon for either per se, in this universe, Raava's destruction did happen; the only way Hong was able to get in contact with the past Avatars was that, somehow, he contacted a different Korra who had beaten off Unalaq before he destroyed Raava.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Leviathan manages to best Shepard twice when she finally decides to Just Shoot Him and find another Avatar later, and she is only saved the first time by her crew interfering, and the second time due to Leviathan not knowing/forgetting Shepard can energybend.
  • Anyone Can Die: Jacob Taylor was already dead when Shepard woke up at the start of Book 2. Shepard managed to kill his attacker (a robot) and stole his clothes and weapon (as she was literally naked otherwise).
    • Thane and Adahn didn't survive the Suicide Mission, and though she later woke up, Samara was in a coma for some time, and needs to get back her motor skills before she could do anything.
  • Arc Words: In books 2 and 3, "Something has changed..."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Wrex's description of the station where he fought Aleena: "We weren't alone. That station was crawling with the Terminus' finest. Slavers, mercenaries, pirates, telemarketers. Scum of the galaxy."
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How one of Toph's descendants made first contact with the Krogan. She came out on top.
  • The Atoner: Al'Wahim; not for herself, but for her ancestor having the dubious honor of getting the last Avatar killed.
  • Badass: Most of the characters, to some degree or another.
    • Adaptational Badass: While Grunt was already pretty strong, he was still a vanilla krogan in the source material- he was just a really strong krogan who hit things, "Perfect Krogan" genetics and upgrades nonwithstanding, especially given that the other krogan squadmate you had had previously (Wrex) was capable of doing biotics. This fic fixes this by making Grunt everything he was in the original, but also makes him a Shaman. In a world where spirits exist and have great influence on the real world, this means that he can go around obstacles that would normally be closed, tame thresher maws, and even convince other people's weapons to backfire on them by communing with them, via a Badass Finger Snap. Oh, and he actually managed to do better than Wrex in the Rite- Wrex was the last to kill a Thresher Maw. Grunt... managed to tame a Maw, and can now summon it like it's a Pokemon. Many of Shepard's other teammates also qualify: Wrex is an earthbender with centuries of experience, Tali learns how to waterbend in addition to her engineering skills, and bending overall is becoming more and more widespread throughout the galaxy after humanity made contact.
    • Badass Crew: The Normandy's crew, naturally.
    • Badass Normal: Asha al'Wahim, a non-bender who nevertheless keeps up with the Avatar.
      • Empowered Badass Normal: Garrus Vakarian. Spends the first book bemoaning that he wasn't a bender, only to find himself firebending during the Battle of the Citadel, and having no idea how. Solana Vakarian, his sister, also permanently gains the ability to firebend, even after the Reaper-tech device that gave her her bending is removed.
    • Badass Preacher: Ka'hairal Balak. Also doubles as a Badass Teacher.
    • Badass Unintentional: Conrad Verner, who accidentally brings down criminal organizations. Ironic considering his original aspirations.
  • Badass Boast: Shepard asks Garrus how quickly a Turian fleet can mobilize to respond to a threat, given a 90-second preemptive warning. Garrus replies that they can "fight a war... and have fifteen seconds left over." He's not joking.
    • Leviathan also gets an excellent one in Chapter 44, when it terrifies the Reapers inbound to the galaxy into taking orders from it.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Avatar Wan was an alien. The "First Cycle" that Korra saw in her Flashback in her series was actually just the only way her mind could comprehend what she was seeing, and Wan's cycle took place nearly two billion years ago on an alien world. Similarly, Vaatu was a Reaper super weapon. The Harmonic Convergences also don't happen every ten thousand years, as Korra thought, but rather, every two hundred and fifty thousand years.
  • Berserk Button: Morinth finds out the hard way, you do not mess with the Avatar's memories. Doing so results in Unstoppable Rage.
    • In general, messing with Shepard's loved ones. She goes into the Avatar State and lashes out at Traynor when she learns her sister might have been kidnapped.
    • Do not go back on a bargain with Meretsegger. The last thing you want to do is make the Tuchankan spirit of death angry, especially at you.
    • Leviathan, once depowered and stuck in a Zhent body, is one for Vega. Understandable, since at one point she literally ripped his soul out... He got better, though.
  • Beta Couple: Garrus and Tali are becoming this.
  • Bi the Way: Shepard, who had many male lovers in the past (including her Waterbending Instructor), ends up romancing Liara in the first arc.
    • Played With: Shepard struggles with her sexuality fairly vocally.
    • In addition, Asari are an excellent way of muddying the water in this issue even outside of this story; they are mono-gendered and can reproduce with any species or gender.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Shepard and Kasumi are cornered by Vido and Hoq in a gunship, when Zaeed comes out of nowhere and annihilates said gunship in order to take out his revenge on Vido.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: inverted- Shepard mentions that the Elcor have red blood, like humans.
  • Blow You Away: Shepard's natural element, stunted after she used it to kill a batarian...
    • Adahn.
    • Shepard is nearly killed by several Krogan airbenders. Not so much because they were airbending, but because... well, the fact that Krogan Airbenders existed was extremely shocking for her and it caused her to hesitate.
  • Bond One-Liner: Garrus is especially fond of these. In time, he gets Tali doing it, too.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Reapers turn out to be this: apparently, the main controlling intelligence for each one is an Avatar for that species who was subjected to Indoctrination.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Liara has this happen to her twice; once after the geth tried to kill her at the dig site where she met Shepard, and again after Wrex shoots her in the forehead to test if her newly purchased armor is worth the two million credits she spent. It is.
  • Broken Bird: Shepard, in spades.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Vega, after having his soul ripped out by Leviathan, is no longer capable of Bending... although he can No Sell having sex with an Ardat-Yakshi. He gets better when Shepard gives him one of her souls as a replacement.
    • Leviathan in the Final Battle against Shepard; Shepard energybends her and tears her soul out of her Reaper body, forcing it into a mostly powerless zhent body.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: more accurately "But I Couldn't Have Been Pregnant"; Elli finds out during a medical examination that she had twins almost a month prior (during her rage moments against the hanar), and didn't realize it because Protheans are marsupials. She is completely baffled by this, as she hasn't had sex in years and has been stuck as Leviathan's plaything for some time.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Naturally, the humans have these, as befitting the Avatar side of the crossover. However, the turians seem to have gained modern sayings in this universe, like "A sitting duck," which the humans don't get.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Shepard is clearly extremely reluctant to be the Avatar, and makes it clear that she never wanted the job. Unfortunately, as a member of the Systems Alliance Military, she often has little choice in the matter.
    • Subverted with some of the other Avatars. Some time after Korra died, thanks to the exploding human population, settling distant planets, and other such reasons, identifying the Avatar became exceedingly difficult. At least one died without even knowing that he was the avatar, dying as a street urchin getting taken down via hit-and-run as a teenager.
    • Used in a very dark way, as whenever an Avatar goes into the Avatar State, the Reapers will instantly know where he or she is, if they're close enough.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Why Shepard is still the Avatar rather than reincarnating after being killed by the Collectors; the Avatar spirit realizes it does not have the time to reincarnate before the Reapers arrive, so it has to use Shepard.
  • Character Development: Through the influence of her teammates, Shepard begins to soften up a little and divert from her usual "Shoot first ask questions later" mentality (such as giving the Thorian a Last-Second Chance and allowing the Rachni Queen to go free).
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's easier to list the things which don't end up being relevant later in the story. The Codexes appear to be the biggest offenders.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Liara.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place. One of Toph's descendants made first contact with the Krogan, and Liara nicknames a krogan mook "Sugar Queen," which was Toph's nickname for Katara. Also, Rai Li, a member of the Alliance, is basically the (airbending) War Hero version of Shepard's backstory.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In chapter 32, Shepard almost dies because a Krogan tries to use Airbending to take her out. The reason she nearly got killed, if Tali hadn't intervened? Shepard was honestly so amazed at the prospect of a Krogan Airbender that she couldn't help but stare.
  • Control Freak: As much as she would like to appear in control, Leviathan really freaks out when people mess with her things.
  • Crossover: Between Avatar: The Last Airbender and Mass Effect.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Once Shepard goes into the Avatar State, things go exceedingly poorly for Morinth, to put it mildly.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The fourth time Shepard battles Leviathan, on the Collector Ship. Shepard manages to land a few blows, but the fight is overwhelmingly in Leviathan's favor, since it decided to stop trying to capture the Avatar, and instead just kill her. Shepard only survives because of her team's intervention.
  • Dark Secret: Remember Wrex's tale of Aleena, the asari merc that he tangled with once that destroyed a space station when the two fought? She cleaned up her act later on in her life and goes by Counselor Tevos now.
  • Darkest Hour: Chapter 49: Leviathan cripples the Normandy, reveals that he can pinpoint their location with amazing accuracy and can shut down Mass Relays, and Samsara is revealed to be a front for Phoenix, with Weaver as the Illusive Man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All. Over. The. Place.
  • Deconstruction: Shepard, contrary to many other stories, chooses Udina to be the councilor of the Alliance, rather than the far more popular, well-liked, and sympathetic Anderson. When asked why she chose Udina, she replies that Anderson would make a terrible councilor, pointing out that in the meeting about Saren, he tried to use her "Visions" as evidence for a major galactic government to exile one of its best men. While Udina doesn't agree with her on many, many issues, at the same time he has political knowledge, has been working in the system for decades, and knows a great deal about discretion- something Anderson showed he didn't have.
    • The Migrant Fleet receives some as well, pointing out that unlike most fanon (where they are simply the woobie that the big, bad, Citadel Council picks on for no reason), that their government and social structure is kind of messed up, creating a monoculture obsessed with a goal they can never reasonably attain. Their other crimes (strip mining other worlds, simply dumping off criminals on inhabited worlds, a massive Never My Fault mentality) also get some limelight as well.
    • The concept of the Krogan riding to the rescue of the Turians in the third game was awesome. Former enemies, fighting against a common foe? Sweet! Unfortunately, this story points out that there aren't that many Krogan left in the galaxy, meaning that the "Hordes of Krogan saving the Turians" doesn't quite go like that. They're strong, sure, but they're not exactly capable of turning the tide on their own. Furthermore, the lack of Krogan numbers are something that even the Reapers take notice of, as in this story, Brutes have no Krogan components, but have Yahg components instead. In addition to this, Liara points out that Turian amino acid chirality for their homeworld means that the Krogan who go there would have to rely on any food they brought in or their own internal fat stores, because with Reapers overhead, food resupplies don't seem likely.
    • Remember how in all the Mass Effect games, the bad guys had a seemingly endless supply of human husks to throw at you? Ever wondered where they got those when humans were relatively new on the galactic scene, and the number of human colonies weren't that large? Apparently the Author did as well, because the primary basic Reaper husk used on Palaven are Salarians, which have poorly defended colonies and nearly a trillion-strong population.
  • Defector from Decadence: Balak; he is disgusted with the current state of the Batarians, and hopes to get a chance to get rid of the current rulers and set the Batarians on a new path. After the events of The Arrival, however, he doesn't think even that is possible.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Shepard Spiritbends Leviathan during the Final Battle, severing her soul from the Reaper and forcing her into a mostly powerless body.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Wan was the first Avatar, but not the first human Avatar. Also, Vaatu was actually a Reaper super weapon and did not return every ten thousand years (Korra just simplified it because ten thousand years was a bit more believable).
    • Inverted in that it turns out that the reason that humans can't be both Biotics and Benders at the same time is that Biotics is a form of Bending, just not one that anyone knew about. And since Humans can't bend multiple elements (except the Avatar), you can either be a biotic or a bender but not both. In fact, Shepard's "Natural" bending state is that of biotics, and the reason that she was capable of using airbending is because she was the avatar.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rael'Zorah, after learning that the geth marked him, and anybody protecting him, with death. Overlaps a little with Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Nataraja, a Reaper super weapon/ Dark Spirit that is unleashed on Palaven.
    • Meretsegger, Tuchankan death incarnate. There are only two courses of action you can take when confronted by it: Run, or Die... and there's no guarantee that running will save you. To give you a hint of how powerful this thing is, it made Shepard, the AVATAR, run away screaming. If that doesn't tell you the threat, than consider that it is the spirit of death... for Tuchanka. A galactic codex entry has it on the same level of dangerous as Koh. When someone suggests that they try to kill it, the response is that since it's a death spirit, all it would do is make it stronger and annoyed that someone tried. Grunt walks right up to it and convinces it to fight the Reapers, since they twisted the bargain Meretsegger made with them.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kai Leng is shaping up to be this for Shepard; he can bend multiple elements, physically cross through the spirit world, and is a batshit insane loose cannon whereas Shepard is pragmatic but still on the side of good.
  • Extreme Doormat: Tali'Zorah has a 'very' hard time telling people 'no'. Thanks to Garrus and Shepard, she's getting a lot better.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Due to getting his soul ripped out, Vega suffers one of these just after winning the fight for Fehl Prime.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Elli (the Prothean Shepard saved). She expresses confusion and outrage (mostly outrage) that hanar are a Citadel species (they were pests in her cycle) and that technology has not advanced much since her life.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Two of the big Turian organizations are THIS and THAAT. THIS stands for "Turian Hierarchy Intelligence Service", and "THAAT" is "Turian Hierarchy Advanced Arms and Tactics."
  • Fusion Fic: The Avatar world replaced Mass Effect's Earth. Thus, we get various mash-ups, like "Chora's Den," a Bad-Guy Bar and strip club, getting turned into "Korra's Den," a theme bar based on the Roaring Twenties that The Legend of Korra took place in. It's not a strip club, either. Also, it turns out that bending is not unique to humans- pretty much every race has benders of one kind or another.
  • General Failure: Sajuuk... was not a good Avatar. At all. He alienated or killed almost all of his potential allies, causing the Protheans to lose the war to the Reapers, and died in disgrace a short time later. He makes Javik seem reasonable in comparison. Shepard makes a conscious effort not to be like him when this Cycle comes around.
  • Genre Savvy: Aria knows that Morinth is incredibly skilled (skilled enough to take down four Justicars sent after her), so she goes for a better option: Point Shepard in Morinth's direction and let her handle the mess.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Seems to be a staple of the setting, with at least four named AI characters who all developed independently of each other, and well outside what they were originally designed to do. Adahn is a sentient geth (Known in canon as "Legion"), obviously. EDI was a targeting computer. Sybil was a casino cheating program, while Sonny was designed to emulate human behaviors.
    • As of chapter 47, Adahn outshines all the other AI due to one simple fact: he's an airbender, and apparently has been since the Morning War.
  • Groin Attack: Happens to a krogan in chapter 32. With a mining charge.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Shepard's 'evil' clone from Citadel is on Shepard's squad in the third book.
  • Hero of Another Story: Zaeed, who managed to destroy the prison ship Purgatory on his own (he took Jack's place in the recruiting process), but also managed to save all the people at the refinery... by accident.
  • Heroic Lineage: Kasumi is a direct descendant of Avatar Aang.
    • Though Zia deconstructs this by pointing out that because the Avatar comes from such a wide range of populations, geographical areas, and is reborn into every single generation, virtually one hundred percent of the human race has at least one Avatar somewhere in their ancestry.
    • One of Toph's descendants was the one to make First Contact with the Krogan.
  • Heroic RROD: Tapping into the full power of the Avatar State will tear the user's body apart from the stress. This happened twice to Shepard; during her No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Morinth, and again when Phoenix kidnaps her sister.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Adahn and Thane during the Final Battle; the former takes a shot for Tali and is blown to pieces, and the latter pulls a You Shall Not Pass to allow the others time to escape and regroup.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Saleon gets it so bad, Garrus feels bad putting a mercy bullet in him!
    • Morinth ends up getting killed as a direct result of trying to take over Shepard's mind.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Played with. Humans are special because out of all the races in the galaxy, we're the only ones who can bend all four elements (plus, we have the Avatar). However, humans are also the only race who can't combine bending with biotics, and the longer life span of some of the species means that they have a lot longer to get really, really good at their art.
    • As it turns out, biotics are actually another type of bending, and the Avatar is able to harness this form.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Weyrloc dies when Tali stakes him (from the head down) with an ice spear.
  • Insistent Terminology: Avatar Vajrapata insists that Unaloq was not a Dark Avatar. The real thing, a true Dark Avatar, is ever so much worse because a true Dark Avatar comes not from some spirit just handing you power, it takes true suffering for an Avatar to decide to turn dark.
    • After learning that the 'Goddess Athame' was actually a Prothean, Liara now says 'by the Anthropologist' where she previously would say 'by the Goddess'.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Many of the main characters, but Wrex and Shepard in particular. Shepard seems to have taken the view of Sam Vimes: the galaxy isn't fair, so she's going to make it be fair.
  • Lampshade Hanging: On the copy/paste nature of a lot of the "bases" you fought through in the first game. Garrus claims that the turians practice on mockups of Alliance bases frequently, which leads everyone to wonder how badly the Alliance is compromised... until Garrus mentions that most Alliance bases are just prefabs that use the same layout for simplicity's sake, and "The only variation is the positioning of the cover."
  • Making a Splash: Tali learns how to Waterbend and is later revealed to have learned Bloodbending.
    • Thane also knows this to a degree, to help pull the fluid out of his lungs, but this causes tissue damage in the process.
    • According to Thane, the hanar have a great deal of waterbenders, though we have yet to see one on screen.
  • Mega Corp.: A rare benevolent example of this trope is found in Samsara, a human non-profit organization-turned galactic economic powerhouse and Foil to Phoenix (Cerberus). While it's practices are admittedly shrouded in secret at times (and to be fair, you wouldn't exactly want people to know you stole tech from the Illusive Man to bring the Avatar back to life), it still manages to retain some semblance of proper human morals.
    • Reality Ensues: However, powerful as it may be, Samsara's pockets aren't bottomless (unlike Cerberus...). Resurrecting Shepard and reconstructing the Normandy (both massively-expensive projects) threw the organization into an immense debt, to the point that Siwang Weaver had to fund the company with his own money for a short time and ask Shepard to pawn off any interesting stuff she found during her missions.
    • Not so benevolent now that Weaver has been revealed to be the Illusive Man. Though the benevolent part still seems to apply to most of the remaining members who weren't in the know.
  • More Dakka: The Turian fleet vs. Leviathan's rampaging Reaper body.
  • Motor Mouth: People (usually Shepard) have to constantly remind Liara to take a breath before she talks herself into unconsciousness. Also Mordin, but that was how his canon form was as well.
  • Mythology Gag: Hoq has two artifacts in his vault that are very familiar to Avatar fans. For one, replacing the head of the Statue of Liberty is the head of the Aang statue that stood at the entrance to the harbor of Republic City. The other is Sokka's Space Sword.
    • When Jack is taken prisoner and has to escape from Phoenix in Book 3, she does so wearing an outfit identical to the one she pioneered in Mass Effect 2.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe; Asha's ancestor, while a decent commander, accidentally got Avatar Hong killed. Her family has been considered jinxed since then, and her desire to be The Atoner is part of the reason why she joins Shepard. It really doesn't help matters that Shepard died on Asha's watch as well...
    • Garrus apparently will never live down when he almost nuked Shepard and her squad on Agebinium, some time between book 1 and book 2.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Morinth is on the receiving end of one when she goes too far in meddling with Shepard's memories.
  • No Sell: Thanks to having his soul ripped out of him by Leviathan, James Vega can survive sex with an Ardat-Yakshi.
  • Oh Crap!: Shepard's reaction upon hearing that the seemingly numberless hordes of Geth that she was fighting throughout the first part of her mission... were only about five percent of all Geth.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, in that there are a number of 'Tali's in the story, including Shepard's little sister.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Adahn is thrown for a loop when he discovers that the Geth slaughtering the crew of the Alarai are composed of both Heretic and Orthodox Geth runtimes forming consensus with one another. Through interrogation of a disabled Geth, he learns why: the Migrant Fleet's torture/experimentation of Geth resulted in them learning to feel irrational hatred.
  • Playing with Fire/Kill It with Fire: Garrus finds out he's a firebender during the attack on the Citadel.
    • Tali also breaks out a flamethrower when the Normandy gets attacked by Thorian Creepers.
    • Given the crossover, firebenders in general.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Shepard and Garrus.
  • Power Limiter: The Javik VI acts as one to Shepard, preventing her from using the Avatar State to overcome certain situations. He allows her to use the Avatar State when fighting Leviathan.
    • Also, it's implied that memories of using airbending to kill a Batarian are why Shepard's airbending is stunted.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Bei-Li.
  • The Remnant: There are quarians still living on Rannoch, descended from the ones who didn't want to destroy the geth.
  • Refusal of the Call: Shepard outright blows off many of the sidequests from the first game, claiming that she's not interested, or that the activity in question is downright illegal. She also refuses to recruit Zaeed, as he appears to be (to her) a gibbering madman who is slightly less controlable than a Thresher Maw.
    • James Vega makes an early cameo in the mission to Yue (the Rogue VI on Luna in canon) and gets caught up in the Normandy crew's batshit insanity. When all is said and done, Shepard asks him about possibly joining her mission. The reply she gets is a "No. Just... No" Reaction.
  • Rule of Funny: Combined with Gameplay and Story Segregation, is why despite Shepard going straight to Therum to recover Doctor T'Soni (Liara), Liara believes that Shepard and her party are hallucinations. In the game, this only happens if you recruit Liara after doing many, many other missions before recruiting her (such as Feros and Noveria).
  • Running Gag: In the second story arc, Shepard's budding biotics cause her to break her armor. A lot. This seems to have gotten fixed when she gets the Collector Armor, which is partially biological and is able to adapt to her new powers.
    • Adahn REALLY needs to stop observing Shepard. He's running out of crap to repair himself with. This has become far less of a problem since he joined the crew and he's now dead, meaning that the joke is done.
  • Samus is a Girl: Leviathan was once a female zhent. She gets put back into that body during the Final Battle of Book 2.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Between the events of Book 1 and Book 2 Asha al'Wahim finds herself on the wrong end of one.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: When hunting a rogue AI on Illium, Shepard and co. run into a band of Eclipse mercenaries who are after the same thing. The salarian in the group decides to throw in the towel once Shepard introduces herself.
  • Shout-Out: Lots:
    • One prothean is named Sajuuk.
    • Humanity's first grenades were based off of citrus, hence why humans refer to them as 'lemons' instead of calling them 'pineapples' as in the real military.
    • Liara names one geth Wuffles. It's not the same one, and is a mook who lasts all of three lines before he gets mowed down.
    • There are also several more Shout Outs and nods to Glorious Shotgun Princess, such as Legion/Adahn's encounter with Sovereign, compared to Wuffles/Legion's encounter with Harbinger.
    • One quarian marine (strongly implied to be Kal'Reegar) hears Garrus talking about Feros, and how "Naked asari clones were crawling all over him," and the marine mutters "I'll be in my bunk." Jayne Cobb and Kal'Reegar share the same voice actor/regular actor.
    • The description of the Pre-Mass-Effect FTL drive the Quarians used is nearly identical to the Jumpdrive from BattleTech, and even has Quarian scientists whose names are very thin parodies of Kearny and Fushida (the scientists in the BattleTech universe that invented the Jumpdrive). Surprisingly, this is actually a plot point later on.
    • At one point Miranda mentions that Shepard's shuttle is on DRADIS.
    • As of the second book, the armors sport collapsable helmets, which function like the ones in the Dead Space games.
    • "We're in space, it's not like they can hear us even if we scream."
    • An exchange between a recently recovered hostage and Shepard:
    Passenger: But surely they have better accommodations than this.
    Shepard: Nope. This is all the room we have. And don't call me Shr-Li.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Fai Dan tries to shoot himself, but Shepard uses bloodbending to make him divert his shot.
    • Subverted with Okeer. He survives the initial recruitment mission, and then Grunt kills him in the next chapter.
    • Zig-zagged with Tela Vasir. Whereas in canon, she worked for the Shadow Broker and tried to kill Liara and Shepard, in this version, she survives... because Jondam Bau, a Spectre that you meet in the third game, takes her place. And he's supposed to survive (if you do it right).
    • Shepard saves Mordin from dying after he cures the Genophage.
  • Squee: Liara's reaction to finding out there's a living Prothean onboard the Normandy.
    • Shepard lets her inner child loose whenever she's around an Elcor.
  • Stations Of The Canon: Played with. While certain things change (the Thorian is a Spirit made manifest in the physical world, similar to Wong Se Tong from "The Library"), much of the story remains fundamentally the same (save for Shepard being inspired by visions from the Prothean cycle to invent the M-920 Cain just after Therum). At the same time, we see characters appearing way before we meet them in Mass Effect, such as Legion, Miranda, Vega, and Kolyat. Hell, Jack was present at Eden Prime, the FIRST MISSION!
    • The backstory has far more changes, though. For example, it wasn't the turians that humans made first contact with, but krogan from a crashed ship, which allowed the humans to prepare for the wider galaxy far better.
    • Humans aren't the only ones with spirits, though. Turians have the largest number of "shamans" in the galaxy (should that be shaturians?) because they encounter many spirits on Palaven. The Asari consider them to be evil due to bad past experiences, and the salarians didn't know any existed until they met the asari.
  • Stealth Pun: In-universe. To access a secret hallway, Shepard has to poke the nose of a picture of Admiral Grissom- literally tweaking the nose of the most famous human of the last two generations. For those who don't know, Grissom was the first human to use a Mass Relay, and is the man that Grissom Academy was named after.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Chapter 61 has two: Kalros, as per canon, and Meretsegger, whom Grunt convinces to fight the Reapers because they violated a deal the death spirit made with them millenia ago.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted. While Siwang Weaver may share many traits with Legend of Korra season two character Varrick, the Author points out in chapter 40 that the character of Weaver was introduced eleven months before season two premiered.
    • Although post-season two, some of Varrick's traits have been incorporated into Weaver, most notably having an assistant named "Su Li," and occasionally asking her to 'Do the thing.'
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: A Quarian who was exiled from the Migrant Fleet is escorted away by another Quarian. Their destination? Rannoch.
  • Take That: to several of the Mass Effect plot elements.
    • The Migrant Fleet, and anything to do with it, is not looked kindly upon in this story, calling it a myopic propaganda machine who indoctrinated (not Reaper-Style) all who live in it to serve commands of those higher up in the chain of command. There are still plenty of heroic quarians among the fleet, however.
    • Zaeed... is viewed as a barely-sane maniac who leaves a trail of devastation a mile wide. Even a Shepard who comes across as far more Renegade than the Avatar really should, who has Jack as a best friend, thinks that he's not worth taking on the mission.
    • Possibly a fairly minor one to a particular time-consuming Fetch Quest from the first game: Alenko accepts the Keeper-scanning sidequest in Shepard's stead in Chapter 3. Rather than wasting a couple of hours wandering all over the Citadel in search of the few Keepers hanging out in the open, he just sits himself in an area directly over a Keeper tunnel and catches up on some reading while the scanner catches any Keepers that happen to pass underneath him.
    • At least one Justicar says that keeping Ardat-Yakshi locked away is a stupid idea, since all it's doing is taking a bunch of people who love their freedom and have the ability to kill with their minds and putting them all in one place, forming 'A ticking time bomb.' Mass Effect 3 has a mission where you go to an Ardat-Yakshi monestary that's been taken over by the Reapers, and you see just how right she was.
    • Shepard says that if it wasn't for the Krogan, she'd be "As spiritually bankrupt as [Avatar] Korra."
  • The Unfettered: Siwang Weaver states that he will do absolutely anything, and sacrifice anybody, to defeat the Reapers.
  • Tempting Fate: Vega says as much, saying that naming the VI on the moon after the guy who created an orwellian society in Ba Sing Se was pretty much asking for it to go crazy and start killing people.
    • In Chapter 45, Shepard comments on how she's never seen a Krogan Firebender. Guess what she ends up running into near the end of the battle.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Morinth's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown ends with her getting spaced.
  • Token Heroic Orc: In this case, token heroic Batarian Balak ends up joining Shepard's team. They don't really like each other, but they are willing to set aside (most) of their differences if it gets the job done. Later, we learn why he's a token heroic batarian... or rather, we learn why the batarians are so bad to begin with.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Chapter 52, which follows Shepard during the events of leaving Earth when the Reapers invade, follows Shepard's clone Zia instead of Avatar Shepard herself.
  • Undying Loyalty: Ashley (renamed Asha al'Wahim). She sees it as a way to atone for her ancestor accidentally causing the death of the previous Avatar... and Shepard dying on her watch during the Collector attack.
  • The Unintelligible: Imagine if Donnely's scottish accent was kicked up to maximum overdrive and slightly drunk. Thus far Jack has been able to understand him, but not many others. Even EDI has trouble understanding him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Morinth pokes around Shepard's memories and targets one of Liara. She gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and Thrown Out the Airlock for her troubles.
  • Virtual Ghost: The VI of Javik that Shepard gained from her contact with the Prothean Beacons shows both a lot of autonomy, and a strong (abrasive) personality. Since the VI doesn't know all of what's inside it, who created it is still in question.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Garrus to Kai Leng. Even Shepard wonders how many times she has to kill him after dropping a boulder on his head.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Hate Engine, while incredibly dangerous, and responsible for billions of deaths, really looks like she needs a hug.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Weaver's plan for the Phoenix invasion of the Citadel. If it had worked and the councilors were killed, humanity could have stepped in. He didn't put much faith in that and arranged for Udina to take the blame for hiring pro-human mercenaries, leaving the evidence just flimsy enough that Shepard or others could find the true one responsible, Councelor Valern... who was indoctrinated by Rho. Since they do kill Valern, the Salarian Military will throw their weight behind humanity in order to distance themselves from Valern's insanity, giving the war effort a massive boost. The worst part is that this works. The codex at the end of the chapter says that that exact thing is happening.
  • You Killed My Father: Shepard's reason for hating Batarains: slavers arrived and killed her parents and enslaved her little sister. She was forced to use Airbending, the most pacifistic of all bending styles, to murder a Batarian in an elevator... which she was then trapped in for several hours. There's honestly a whole bunch of problems knotted up there.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The Ardat Yakshi can do this, as well as Leviathan.
  • You Shall Not Pass: During the Final Battle against Leviathan, Thane is fatally injured. He holds off the Reaper's forces long enough for the others to regroup and escape.