Fanfic / Mass Vexations
is a Self Insert
fanfic set in the Mass Effect
universe written by Herr Wozzeck
. It concerns what happens when he winds up on the Citadel after playing the piece Vexations by Erik Satie. With a 'fuck it' attitude and ramblings that go on for some time, he sets out to help the group stop Saren and the Geth. As he goes with the group, he gets to really know them, and as he searches for a way home he forms friendships and becomes a more useful squad member than even he originally thought.
It tends to go by Rule of Funny
: it recognizes that some things in there are preposterous in the first place. While there are some very serious moments throughout, a large piece of the story is played for laughs. It hangs lampshades constantly, it has more pop culture references than you can count on one hand, and it parodizes stuff. But it can be serious when it wants to be, and when it does get serious it results in some very honest emotional moments. Because of this, Mass Vexations popularised the Self Insert
genre in the Mass Effect
It's posted on both fanfiction.net and DeviantArt
. In addition to the one fic, there are also two sequels. Mass Vexations 2 can be found here
. Mass Vexations 3 is also out and can be found here
The Mass Vexations trilogy (in addition to the tropes found in the source material) provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: To Aria being voiced by Trinity.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Wrex starts making Art lose the Game with surprising regularity when Art introduces it to him. Also, Garrus mentions liking District 9 early on.
- Amoral Attorney: Paellix Mirani.
- Anyone Can Die: This trope is now in full play with the death of Thane by the hands of Kai Leng. Herr Wozzeck has flat-out stated that anyone can and will die, several major characters are going to, and narrators are not immune.
- As of Chapter 40, it looks like Liara and Garrus are both dead, and as of Chapter 41, Madison, Nadeire and Brendan have joined them. Chapter 43 brings in Yelena and Jacob as well.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Played with. The head count increases to Shepard and four squad members on a typical mission, and it even becomes a minor plot point as it allows the squad to split to accomplish a few tasks quicker. Subverted in the mission to Ilos; Shepard tells the entire squad to come along, thus ignoring the head count.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Art: And trust me, I know that if she were a Renegade Shepard, she would've put the mission first, killed all the colonists, killed the rachni, and punched the annoying reporter who really deserves it.
- As You Know: An interesting variation occurs whenever Art hears exposition. He's already heard it all in the game; however, the characters giving the exposition aren't aware of this fact, so to them they're just telling the story of the game as it happens. It's lampshaded repeatedly, and a few times it cuts away before said exposition can be said.
- It's generally played straight later whenever Art tells anybody about the truth about himself.
- Ascended Extra: Al, who made a small cameo in the middle of the first Mass Vexations, joins the Normandy, thus becoming a supporting character.
- Author Avatar: Art, very obviously. Leads to a bit of Author Filibuster and a lot more Author Appeal when he lampshades a few things.
- Back for the Dead: Art and co meet Tela Vasir on Mordin's loyalty mission. They meet her again in the Lair of the Shadow Broker mission, where she ends up dying as in canon.
- Badass Normal: Art eventually becomes this. He starts out as someone who has never fired a firearm in his life, has never led anyone into combat, and lives in an age without DNA modification technology. By the time he gets to Virmire, he's able to hold his own in Shepard's squad, he leads a salarian STG unit into battle and manages to avoid extremely high casualties, and he's able to be a pretty decent Soldier class fighter, even without the modifications to his DNA. In fact, the only medical procedure he's undergone in the ME universe is surgery to correct near-sightedness, and such a surgery already exists in his home time period. Wrex lampshades his improvement at a couple of points, and then there are the two CMoA's he racks up below. Took a Level in Badass indeed...
- Batman Gambit: Art attempts to pull this almost on the spot to make sure he dies at Virmire. Unfortunately, Shepard goes for him instead of Ashley. For his failure he gets a What the Hell, Hero? speech from Shepard.
- Mass Vexations 3 has a huge one perpetrated by the turian councilor. The entire trial and the instigation of the circumstances under which the Council was forced to arrest Shepard were both part of a ploy on the part of the [indoctrinaged] turian councilor to attempt to get Shepard out of the galactic picture so she would be unable to organize the galaxy in an offensive against the Reapers. If it had been successful, the turian councilor would have attempted to reactivate the Citadel's relay to usher in the arrival of the Reapers. Unfortunately for him, it fell apart thanks to Will's defense, Sparatus' choice of prosecutor, Tidoses' involvement with the Normandy's crew, and some things that occurred when the rest of the Council is alerted to the Reaper that was destroyed on Rannoch.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Art takes this approach when plotting how he'll return back to his world. His first thought? Rather than get shot down on the battlefield where someone could use medigel on him, he'll allow himself to get caught in the blast on Virmire. Unfortunately...
- Bi the Way: The narration mentions that Art is bisexual. Of course, it's also being mentioned while he's being seduced by an older turian. After this, Art's bisexuality gets less then twenty references through the entire series.
- Big Brother Instinct: Jenny's brother Gregor apparently has this. It's off-camera, however, so we have no way of knowing just yet.
- Art himself is definitely one. He is really protective of those who remind him of his younger brother.
- Big Damn Heroes: Art and Jenny pull one of these moments during Kasumi's loyalty mission.
- Big "NO!": In Art's mind in the sequel, after he finds out that Garrus' squad survived with most of its members still living.
- Big "WHAT?!": From Tali when Art tells her and the rest of the Brotherhood about the truth behind the geth.
- Bizarrchitecture: In Art's recurring dream in part two; the hallway is all sorts of this, including a table. And then inside... he finds his apartment, with the edges of it pulled up into a donut hole and with very strange gravity.
- Bittersweet Ending: How the third entry ended. The Reapers are defeated, Art gets the girl, and he lives on a peaceful Rannoch. However, Earth was destroyed, humanity is in shambles because of it, several characters died along the way, the galaxy is far from being in a state of peace, and Art has to deal with the trauma of what he's been through.
- Bizarro Episode: The April Fool's Day chapter.
- Black Comedy: A few instances pop up. "No, I'm not planning on killing myself." In the conventional sense, anyway.
- Blessed with Suck: Art is very optimistic. In MV 3, he admits after the disastrous Kahje mission that this is one of his biggest flaws as a commander- he wasn't taking the missions seriously because he couldn't admit that it wasn't a game and that he was actually in a war zone- and thus, instead of a set outcome and save files, there's no second chances. The realisation leads him to give up command.
- Brick Joke: The Game. More specifically, how the krogan characters all seem to latch on to it.
- Brutal Honesty: Used on Conrad Verner when Art runs into him on Illium.
- Came Back Wrong: Shepard goes from Paragon to Paragade after she comes back.
- Captain Ersatz: Turian mythology apparently has its own versions of Kratos and the Grey Wardens. And then there's Contact Point 3, which is essentially Dead Space on the Normandy. On top of that, there's a fairly obvious Expy of Norman Jayden that appears at the Citadel at one point. Art is quick to lampshade the similarities when he hears about them.
- In every case, it's turned out to be foreshadowing: it turns out that the Fade exists in the ME universe, and it behaves much the same way. As well, Teryn Loghain and Kratos end up appearing in the Fade with Orange. And on top of that, Madison Paige ends up joining the cast as a recruitable character. And then Isaac Clarke after Dead Space 2 is found on Omega.
- Catapult Nightmare: From Art's Dream Sequence in the sequel.
- Catch-Phrase: "Jesus Christ on a pikestaff."
- May or may not have an F-Bomb or a "Goddamn," to denote emphasis.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The first installment of the series had some fairly silly moments with a character that kept the tone relatively light throughout. Mass Vexations 2 also kept the tone relatively light. Mass Vexations 3 ends with a Class X-2 Apocalypse How for Earth, and it's not played for laughs.
- Character Development: See Took a Level in Badass below.
- In MV 3, after the disastrous Kahje mission, Art gets called out by just about everyone and finally admits and accepts that he has not been a good commander, he is too optimistic and immature to be one at the current time, his attitude and mindset have directly got people killed when they could have lived, and as a result, he needs to step down.
- Chekhov's Gun: Aside from the many examples from the Mass Effect universe?
- The cell phone that Art holds on to ends up helping him explain himself to Tali when she presses about his past.
- Shepard mentioning she has a younger brother (who happens to look almost exactly like the default Male!Shepard.)
- Children Are Innocent: Art invokes this trope several times in the sequel in reference to Grunt's status as a fully-grown baby krogan.
- Christmas Episode: The seperately-published oneshot Christmas Vexations.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Art tends to drop these whenever he gets really angry or really desperate about something. Of particular note is his rant towards the end of his loyalty mission, in which he uses the f-word forty-five times.
- Cool Teacher: Sturge in his previous life, if Art's interaction with him is anything to go by.
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Art creates a rather elaborate cover story for the rest of the Mass Effect crew to bite into to hide the fact that he's from another universe.
- Contrived Coincidence: The Spectre who escapes from the Aurigos and gets rescued by Art and co just happens to be the daughter of the lawyer who's trying to prosecute Shepard.
- Courtroom Episode: Basically the entire point of Mass Vexations 3's B Story. At least in Part 1, anyway.
- Crazy Enough to Work: After Art messes up his friendship with Tali, Kasumi suggests that she, Art, and Thane should go retake the Alarei— without Shepard or Tali. It takes a little bit of convincing for the other two parties to agree to such a plan.
- Cultured Warrior: Art, also a Pop-Cultured Badass, even if all of his cultured qualities are about a hundred and seventy years behind everyone else. And especially since some of the things don't exist in the Mass Effect universe...
- Curse Cut Short: After the last time Wrex makes Art lose The Game, Art starts a swear line; it cuts to the next scene before he can even get in the first word.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Art mock-threatens to kill Garrus in various silly ways whenever he makes fun of his voice. Two years hasn't quelled this banter, either.
- Dance Party Ending: The sequel.
- Darker and Edgier: Herr Wozzeck stated in the author's notes for Chapter 19 of ME3 that the fic was going to get dark, and things were not going to go well. Thane can testify to that. As can most of humanity.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- The entirety of chapter 17 is told from Tali's POV. The trope is even invoked in the chapter title.
- This happens again in Mass Vexations 2 when the Normandy Crew Defend the Normandy from the Collectors.
- Dirty Old Man: Tonn Actus in the fic's reworked version of the Family Armor assignment.
- Dream Within a Dream: More specifically, it's a dream within a dream within a dream within another dream. The bottom is a shared dream-space as well.
- Driven to Suicide: An asari who's just found out she's an ardat-yakshi is driven to this in the sequel's prologue... at least, until Art steps in and plays psychiatrist. She lives. And then she ends up being a major factor in changing events such that Garrus' squad lives.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Art punches Kaiden for what he did on Horizon. As questionable as that is, he even contemplates shooting him.
- Tali admonishes Art about his behavior towards Kaidan in the very next chapter.
- Door Stopper: The entire series clocks in at just under 1.4 million words. Individually, the second and third fics both count given that they both take up over six hundred thousand words. It is debatable whether or not the first fic is a door stopper, though it does come close with a word count that is just shy of two hundred thousand words.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Udina, after it's revealed that Earth may have to be destroyed to stop the Reaper threat.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Art pulls this trope to save Tali at the beginning of the fic.
- Dynamic Entry: Art pulls off a decidely Joker-esque one (complete with Shotgun) when returning to Tali's trial from the Alarei with Rael'Zorah.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Tela Vasir, of the Type 1 variety.
- Epigraph: The fanfiction.net version has these. Most of the time it's played straight, but it has also been played for laughs. Eventually, it drops them, and there have been none in either sequel.
- Expy: Eltarn and Sawrik are basically Ethan and Shawn Mars, except as turians.
- Fantastic Drug: Vexations. Mixed in with a bit of Truth in Television as those that tried performing all 840 repetitions by themselves had to stop due to hallucinations, even if it wasn't as bad as what Art winds up with.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Tali is at first distrustful of Art's attempts to save her. But, when he follows up on his promises without any strings attached, they become more or less this. Also happens between Art and Wrex to a certain extent.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Subverted. Art may be out of his element, but given that he knows most of the rules of where he is he's able to blend into the crowd pretty easily. It is played relatively straight with the Mass Effect universe backstories of Sturge, Isaac, and Madison, though.
- It is played straight, though, in that he still has to figure out that some composers don't exist in said universe.
- Fix Fic: What happens in the sequel when Art finally decides to actually act on his precognition to actively save people at various points in the story.
- Follow the Leader: There were relatively few Mass Effect self-inserts before Mass Vexations was originally posted. Afterwards, the section at first slowly and then very quickly became flooded with quite a few self-inserts.
- For Want of a Nail: Art's presence in the ME universe serves as a rather big nail; it's speculated early on that if Art hadn't been at the right place at the right time due to Shepard being held up, then Tali would have died in the alley, which would have given the Reapers an automatic win. It also changes a few events (Benezia giving him a paperweight that was never mentioned in the games, Wrex's personal mission being completely different.) Surprisingly, though, it's not played all that often: see The Stations of the Canon below.
- It's played a lot more extensively in MV2; Garrus' squad survived with only three casualties, and Sidonis doublecrossed the mercs that would have killed Garrus' squad to save them. All because Sidonis fell in love with an ardat-yakshi— the very same one that would have committed suicide during the prologue had Art not talked her out of it. As you'd predict, it completely changes the tone and objective of Garrus' loyalty mission. And then Art's presence is enough to do a couple of other things; for one, Kal'Reegar is no longer the only survivor of Tali's recruitment mission. And for another, Tali's father survives her loyalty mission.
- Perhaps most interestingly, however, is that he eventually finds himself in a situation that could lead to a loyalty mission. The thought terrifies him, however, and it's when he first finds this out that he tells Tali of his fears.
- Eventually, MV 3 becomes a full AU thanks to various elements introduced in MV 2.
- Foreshadowing: When Art notices that Turians were dancing on top of his piano, he also noticed that they folded into origami figures. In the sequel, Heavy Rain, a game known for having an antagonist be known as the Origami Killer, is crossed over into the story.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: With John of Spellbinding Radiance in the April Fools' Day chapter.
- Freudian Excuse: Art's impostor says that he was having a rough life on Earth, and felt that Art took away any chance he could've had to feed his family and give them a better life when he came into the picture. Art doesn't bite into it.
: You'd understand, right? Art
: Yeah, I understand. I understand that you're nothing but a whiny
little attention whore
who can't just leave things well enough alone!
- From a Certain Point of View: Art is from Earth; it's just that he's from an Earth that was there 173 years before Mass Effect takes place. He chooses to omit the time factor when making up his backstory.
- Genre Savvy: More like Game Savvyness, although he does demonstrate some general savviness from time to time. It's all exclusive to Art, of course, as he's the only one who consistently knows what's going to happen next.
- Give Me a Sword: Jenny is throwing a fit when Art goes to get himself into Garrus' recruit mission. He walks in, simply gives her a gun, bam, problems end. It leads to a temporary alliance where they agree to save Garrus (albeit for differing reasons).
- Green Rocks: The orange paperweight; it allows Benezia and Vigil to stop time to give some exposition at certain points.
- Grumpy Old Man: Sturge has traces of this.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Scott Shelby throws himself at Reaper forces in order to give Eltarn and Sawrik time to escape and reconvene with the Normandy crew stranded on the Citadel. May also count as Death Equals Redemption.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Art goes into one in Virmire after Shepard orders him to call Joker over to the AA Tower, thus sparing him instead of Ashley.
- It's parodied when Art finds out how old Tonn Actus is.
- Art kind of goes into one upon finding out that Garrus' squad is still alive.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Art does this a lot, stemming from the fact that he is not actually a soldier.
- Hollywood Atheist: Art, who is fed up with the hypocrisy of the church. He even blames the Catholic Church for the Dark Ages, even though they really didn't cause them. Ultimately subverted: he ends up praying to God near the end of Mass Vexations 3 because he isn't sure who else he should turn to.
- Looks to be broken down in the sequel, as Art signs the cross on the arm of one of Okeer's rejects. The rather odd logic of this is lampshaded by Garrus shortly afterwards.
- Homage: Madison's loyalty mission is basically a reworked version of the plot of Heavy Rain. Complete with the original Origami Killer, too.
- Hope Spot: In MV 3, a cure for Kepral Syndrome is being developed on Kahje. Unfortunately, in the mission to save it, Thane dies.
- Happens again near the end of MV 3. The solution that was being built up to was a weapon that could cause suns to go supernova, with the idea to lure Reapers into the system. So they do that for Haestrom, and that solves everything, right? Well, then they find out that most of the Reapers are over Earth...
- Idiot Ball: Art picks it up for the Kahje mission.
- I Warned You: Subverted: Art warns Zaeed about killing innocents before his loyalty mission. It's ultimately rendered moot by the fact that the Arbitrary Headcount Limit is increased, thus meaning that Shepard splits the squad off. It happens offscreen, though, so it makes for a good Red Herring for Art.
- And later he still gets to say those words. When Zaeed attempts to call Art on being secretive and not revelaing him the details of his loyalty mission, after Art's true origin is revelaled, Art points out he did warn Zaeed what would happen if innocents were endangered.
- It's played straight later. In the mission to Kahje in MV 3, Miranda and co repeatedly warn Art about the problems involved in his decided course of action. He ignores the warnings, and things go very, very wrong.
- Info Dump: Chapter 39 of the sequel.
- Informed Ability: Art's bisexuality is rarely mentioned after Mass Vexations 1, since he never seems to note male character's attractiveness and winds up getting into a relationship with Tali before the Suicide Mission. However, he did get mildly taken with James Vega's muscles upon first meeting him, but that's about it.
- Insane Troll Logic: In MV 3, Daro'Xen invites a quarian exile who happened to be a specialist in artificial intelligence back to the Fleet, thinking he could help her take control of the geth. After Tali's trial, Daro'Xen discovered that the Zorah clan was withholding information that could have helped the Fleet, and told Kul'Yenvar what she'd found out. And then she tells Art that his part in withholding the data makes him guilty of Tali's mental trauma. Art rightly points out that he didn't invite Kul back onto the Fleet or let him wander around unsupervised.
- Insult Backfire:
Ashley: You take things too literally.
- Inter Species Romance: Between Madison and Garrus, Thane and Shepard, and Art and Tali. Hints of other couples are all over the place in the third installment.
- It Only Works Once: Because killing him didn't stop Scott Shelby from killing children the first it happened. Art catches on to this, and instead of killing him manages to work things so Scott is arrested by C-Sec.
- Also how Art traveled to the Mass Effect universe to begin with. Vexations doesn't exist in the ME verse, so he can't try to get back by playing it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While it's easy to argue that Art should have told the crew his origins and what was going to happen, how hard would it be to confess your origins to a group who might disbelieve you and/or believe you to be insane- not to mention, all the stuff he would have had to admit earlier, like telling Jenny that her brother might have ended up as genetic paste by then or telling Tali that her father's destined to die and she'll be on trial for treason?
- Garrus has a brief BSOD when he realises that his girlfriend, a Serial-Killer Killer, has become a serial killer herself. Jack, of all people, points out that she hasn't killed any innocents, and nobody gives a fuck about Blood Pack anyway.
- Just Friends: Art and Tali. Oh, dear Lord. The build-up to their pending relationship is really about as un-subtle as it gets. Jenny is quick to point this out when she meets Art for the first time. Leads to copious amounts of both authorial and very literal Ship Tease when Tali finally joins the crew of the Normandy in the sequel. Art eventually admits to himself that his feelings for Tali go far beyond friendship— and it takes nearly losing said friendship for him to realize this.
- Relationship Upgrade: Art and Tali finally admit their feelings for each other in Chapter 23 of the sequel—after an entire installment and 22 chapters' worth of UST. And then they go on a date in Chapter 25.
- Kick the Dog: Tela Vasir kills Maelon right after Mordin spares him.
- Kick the Morality Pet: Shepard going Paragade in the sequel. It's especially noticeable since Art has a tendency to mentally freak out whenever Shepard partakes in any actions he knows earns her renegade points since he's so used to her being full Paragon.
- Played with, in Art's case: he'll sometimes engage in these renegade actions himself if the person they're performed on grates on his nerves enough.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Mass Vexations 3.
- Love at First Sight: Art seems to think this is the case between Thane and Shepard.
- MacGuffin: The mysterious paperweight that Art obtains at Noveria.
- I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Benezia gives him the odd paperweight before she completely loses herself to Sovereign's indoctrination. Subverted in that neither of them really know what they're supposed to do with it nor even what it is.
- Vigil manages to shed some light on the object: it's a Priceless Paperweight designed by the Protheans. It was also kept in a Reaper for 50,000 years to build the ability to repel indoctrination. It's also capable of doing other things. Vigil doesn't really say anything more than that, however, so it's still left up to Art to figure out what else can be done with it.
- It turns out to be the housing of the spirit of an ancient Prothean diviner. See Talking Appliance Sidekick below.
- It also has properties that aren't revealed until the sequel: it can find other objects that Art needs to carry out what he needs to so he can save the galaxy. It brings to mind the question of what else the Protheans have planned for Art, in addition to making it clear that there is more than one MacGuffin that Art needs to find. It gives Art the idea that he'll need to go on a Fetch Quest while at the Collector base.
- And then it's implied that the device functions as a kind of Dream Weaver, especially when combined with the second MacGuffin; it's implied and then outright stated that the one gives Art the same recurring dream for two years, and the other makes him far more lucid in that dream.
- Medium Awareness: When Garrus refuses to give the identity of the Journalist away, it's lampshaded in the narration as thus:
—Garrus refused to give us a name, saying it would probably compromise something. (Compromise what, a plot twist? Gimme a break, Garrus.)
- Mental World: The Fade is a combination of someone's base subconscious and a shared dreamspace.
- The Mentor: Sturge to Art in the past. Whether the old man will take this banner up again is yet to be seen.
- Mind Screw: Chapter 17 of the sequel has introduced the Inception briefcase (in Art's dream no less) so we pretty much assume one is coming.
- Mock Millionaire: Art's impostor.
- More Dakka: Whatever you do, steer clear from an airship if Art is manning the guns. If the bullets don't get you, the missiles can get you. And if those don't get you, the warehouse itself most certainly will as it collapses on you.
- Mushroom Samba: Played with. Art doesn't really take anything, but at the same time he gets insane hallucinations while playing Vexations. His cover story ends up involving elements of drug use as a result.
- My Fist Forgives You: When Art goes to Wrex to mend their friendship after the 'stupid fucking krogan' insult after Virmire, the krogan doesn't listen to him. So Art tells him to headbutt him. Wrex eventually does so after a brief back and forth, and then things are good between them.
- Averted in the sequel when Art reveals the truth about himself to Wrex. Oddly, they don't end up having to resort to this to sort out that problem.
- Jarel does it in MV 3 after Art apologises and admits his guilt for getting the salarians on Virmire and Thane on Kahje killed.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The general reaction of just about everyone after Earth is destroyed.
- Never My Fault: In MV 3, Orange gives Art a very angry speech about how he constantly tries to paint himself as the innocent one, and how it's constantly made things worse. Art initially doesn't take it well, but he does accept it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Art splits the salarian STG team up when he could have managed to get through the geth with the whole team together so he can force Shepard's hand and get himself to die. That fails, unfortunately. Shepard calls him out on it during debriefing in addition to his insubordination prior to Art calling up Joker. In MV 3, Jarel also calls him out for it.
- In MV 3, Art manages to screw up the Kahje mission and gets Thane killed. Everyone is very, very annoyed at him.
- No Name Given: Art is only known by his nickname to the reader. The other characters know his full name, as some of them refer to him by his last name; however, any time his last name or full first name are used it's asterisked out.
- However if you notice that Art is the first three letters of his six letter first name, some Google research can give you an approximation of his actual real name. Hint: look to The Mists of Avalon.
- Oh, Crap!: After his vision of the future, Art has a massive one in Chapter 26 of MV 3 after learning that there are three hundred thousand batarian colonists in a system due to be wiped out shortly.
- Oireland: Played with by Jenny McKansa. The physical qualities check out, but most of her mannerisms and her background go against the trope. And then it's more or less played straight with her brother Gregor.
- Old Friend: Sturge to Art, in more ways than one.
- One-Woman Wail: At the end of the Virmire mission.
- "Open!" Says Me: Inverted when Art locks himself in his room and the entire Mass Effect crew sans Shepard ends up trying to get him out. His insistence that he be left alone means the entire crew has to make rounds. Kaidan? Does as he says and doesn't push the subject after a brief discussion. Garrus? Drops the subject after a brief discussion. Liara? Same reaction. Wrex? Stomps off angrily after Art is forced to insult him to make him go away after a long exchange. Tali? Hacks the door open after two lines of dialogue.
- Oracular Urchin: Orange.
- Overprotective Dad: Averted by Rael'Zorah: Art goes to him when he's confused on the meaning of hesh'alan, and after telling him what it means, Rael basically tells Art that as long as his daughter is happy he approves of their relationship.
- Pensieve Flashback: Orange pulls Art into one of these so he can witness his death in his home universe.
- Pinch Me: Art speculates that he is in a dream upon showing up at the Citadel in the first one. He promptly slaps himself, realizing that he is, in fact, in a real world.
- Playing with Syringes: Lots of examples, as per the original game. Art even lampshades it in front of the crew:
Art: I don't know about you guys, but it seems to me that whenever some group with tons of money studies a biological life form and its possibly adverse effects on humans it never ends well for anybody involved.
- Plot-Induced Stupidity: Whoever built the warehouse that Art snipes Tarak at in part 2 forgot to install a window pane in one of the windows. It's mercilessly lampshaded when Art finds this out:
- Poor Communication Kills: Art constantly neglects to tell Tali about her loyalty mission. Predictably, he very nearly loses Tali's friendship during the course of events on the Rayya. They manage to make up before the mission ends. The whole debacle has such an effect on Art that he tells Tali (and the rest of the Brotherhood) about Legion, and the truth of the geth almost immediately after.
- It's not like he had a choice. Thanks to their inability to communicate through facial features, Quarians are very good at reading body language. Tali's shock at the accusations of treason had to be genuine, or the Admiralty Board wouldn't buy it.
- Prince and Pauper: Art and his impostor. Played with as Art wasn't aware that someone was taking his place when the switch began.
- Pyrrhic Victory:
- In Chapter 18 of Mass Vexations 3, Daro'Xen has been exiled, the impostor is dead, the Cerberus troops are destroyed, the Reaper is dead and, at least theoretically, the quarians and the geth can make peace... but Tali was mentally tortured, Legion was attacked and nearly died, Nogond is dead and the Reapers know about the Fade.
- And then it happens again in Chapter 29: sure, Shepard and Art were able to organize an evacuation of Aratoht, but then the Reapers showed up early and forced Shepard and the gang to abandon the system with only a sixth of the colony evacuated. And oh yeah, the Reapers still invaded the galaxy.
- And a third time in Chapter 33. The Leviathan of Dis is destroyed, the Batarian Hegemony decapitated with the assassination of its indoctrinated ruler, and Khar'shan liberated with help from the Alliance Fleet. But Carhon, the best candidate to lead the Batarians towards rebuilding their society, was vaporized by the Leviathan's laser.
- And ultimately, the Reapers are defeated over Earth. Unfortunately, Earth was destroyed in the attempt.
- Quit Your Whining: During the Journalist's recruitment, Garrus start to despair when the group finds evidence that she's involved in a series of murders against the Blood Pack. He is promptly given this by Jack.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Art's "The Reason You Suck" Speech during his loyalty mission is triggered by his impostor casually commenting on how neither of them could have expected things to turn out the way they did.
- Rape as Drama: Jack is not the only one this applies to in the story. It was originally played straight, but then edited into a subversion by the author as of MV 3 chapter 23.
- Recurring Dreams: Art reveals that he's been having the same recurring dream for two years towards the start of the sequel: he wakes up in a strange hallway, walks down it, finds a door, and then promptly gets attacked by a mob. It may have some significance with Orange and the All-Spark; the All-Spark makes this dream more lucid, and he's able to get past the door before the mob can kill him.
- In Chapter 27, the dream ends up very similar to a deleted scene from Heavy Rain, complete with drowned child. And then it ends up serving the exact same function it did, as well as tipping off Art that Scott Shelby is once again the Origami Killer.
- Revenge Before Reason: Art's impostor, who tried to ruin the real Art's life for a rather stupid reason.
- Rule of Fun: Art seems to operate by this rule on some of his trains of thought.
- Running Gag: Art losing the Game. It becomes a favored method of teasing on Wrex's part, so much so that an Ironic Echo shows up when he tries to coax Art out of his room after Virmire.
- It simmers down during the sequel. However, when Art returns to Tuchanka, it returns. It gets incredibly epic since Wrex took it upon himself to teach the game to every krogan who makes peace with him.
- Tali's combat drone being destroyed whenever it comes out for a mission. Art even lampshades it in the derelict Reaper.
- Sacrificial Lion: Thane Krios.
- Secret Keeper: Tali eventually becomes one for Art, being the only one to know about Art's secret.
- Art can never seem to keep his secret from certain people for very long in the sequel; Sturge shows up, giving Art an extra person to talk to, and then in the space of one chapter Madison and Garrus both find out. It gets to the point where Art founds the Brotherhood of Secret Keepers. And then Thane, Kasumi, and Shala'Raan all find out during the course of Tali's loyalty mission. And then Art tells Wrex when the crew is on Tuchanka.
- Ultimately, he slips up with Shepard. This slip-up causes the house of cards to fall in such away that the entire ground team, plus some of the crew all find out because of Jacob. Art nearly winds up killed by Jack and Zaeed after he reveals elements of their backstories when he's forced to come clean.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Art has a tendency to have these with himself from time to time.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Wrex and Art, in one case where the two warm up to each other as the fic goes on.
- They even get a small assosciation reversal after the Family Armor chapter:
Wrex: You're fearless. And if you're afraid, you sure as hell don't show it. And plus, you've learned how to use guns faster than any of us. That takes... something. You've got a quad on you, kid.
Wrex: (later that same conversation) Just thinking about the krogan my father was... It makes me wonder...
Art: I thought being a thinker would get you killed on Tuchanka.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of part 1, Art saves the Citadel. However, he drops plenty of thoughts on what's coming up in Mass Effect 2. As well, Orange's true nature is revealed and the mystical elements are introduced, meaning there is a lot of room for development to occur in the next installment.
— And now, the countdown to Mass Effect 2 begins.
- Ship Tease: Quite a bit for some of the less important characters. Of particular note is Al and Jack, as well as Sturge and Chakwas.
- Shipper on Deck: Art for Kaidan and Shepard. It's played with, however, given that Art mentions several times that he personally prefers pairing fem!Shepard with Thane in the games. He comes to regret it when Kaidan dumps her on Horizon.
- Art outdoes this in part two with shipping Thane and Shepard. He's even more enthusiastic about it than he ever was with Kaidan and Shepard. This comes back to haunt him in part three after Kaidan finds out the truth.
- Shout-Out: Oh, boy. There are so many packed in here that your brain would start to hurt if you tried to find them all. Here is a list of the more obvious ones:
- The Shepard siblings are named Al and Joc. Ironically, the Mass Effect canon provides just as many Mythology Gags for Royal Fanatic's fanfic as the traits deliberately put in by Herr Wozzeck.
- Art gives himself the name Zevran Aranai while trying to get Wrex's armor from Tonn Actus. Oddly, Art resisted the urge to ask if there was something in his apartment that needed assassinating.
- Another shout out to Dragon Age: Origins comes up during Virmire: one of the salarian cities that Art assigns as squad names is Orzammar. He chooses Jarel Brosca to lead that team.
- The music shop Tali goes to on the Citadel is named Paul Shar's Music Shop. This is a reference to the Shar music catalogue, which is noteable for being a top resource for players of string instruments.
- When Art pilots the Mako on Ilos, the entire sequence is portrayed as a very large Back to the Future reference, complete with the use of Doc Brown's catchphrase. It's promptly lampshaded when the Mako crashes on the Citadel.
- And while he's at it, he executes a near-flawless powerslide.
- And he makes another Back to the Future reference during Garrus' recruitment mission, when he introduces himself to the Blue Suns mercs as Marty McFly. To sweeten the deal, he gives Jenny McKansa the name of Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer Parker.
- Art makes a massive reference to Super Mecha Death Christ during Garrus' recruitment mission.
- What is Art's first weapon in the story? A crowbar.
- This combined with a Take That! is used in reference to Jacob Taylor being a black guy; combine it with some insane Fridge Logic from a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, and the next thing you know Art's linking him to a certain shirtless werewolf played by Taylor Lautner...
- Brought Up to 11 when Jacob reveals that he'd rather be a vampire than a werewolf. See the Take That entry below.
- Pushing Daisies is mentioned (and referenced) a couple of times during Garrus' loyalty mission.
- CSI: Miami is referenced when Art makes a really bad pun while putting on fake sunglasses.
- That Guy with the Glasses is mentioned a couple of times, most prominently when Art does an impression of the Ask That Guy videos.
- Art brings up Ludicrous Speed at one point when referring to Mordin's typing speed.
- Art finds a second MacGuffin on the Collector ship. Owing to it's cube shape, he affectionately dubs it the All-Spark.
- Whenever a Brotherhood meeting is called, they do it in code based on references to something. These are the codes they have used so far:
- A four-sentence structure laced with references to four very different movies of Mel Brooks.
- Another four-sentence structure laced with references to the three main ballets of Stravinsky's Russian period (The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring.)
- A meeting is called with Star Wars references about how Darth Vader could be considered the hero of the story. It becomes hilarious when you realize that it's called during the AFD chapter and you realize that "Art" didn't actually know he was calling a meeting.
- A rather large, spoilerific reference to Tales of Symphonia.
- Two of the memes that were brought into popular circulation by The Nostalgia Critic.
- At least two passwords have referenced Dragon Age.
- During his speech to the admiralty board, he calls them all Muppets a lá Gordon Ramsay.
- Art references Captain Falcon twice: the first comes during Tali's loyalty mission when he commands Kasumi to use her punch move on a geth, and the second time comes when he headbutts Uvenk.
- And of course, Art usually finds a way to work in song lyrics from various musicals/musical movies into his trains of thought. Popular songs for him to use have come from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and West Side Story, though he has referenced other songs on occasion. (Beauty and the Beast even comes up at one point.)
- A blonde guy with a British accent turned out to be Garrus' partner pre-fic. It sounds familiar to a lot of people...
- During the Noveria mission, Art's comment on Anoleis' arrest is "He had it coming, he only had himself to blame" and he later asks Ash if she wants to fire two warning shots into his head because he's annoying her.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: At one point when taking control of a Collector, Harbinger is interrupted in the middle of his memetic 'assuming direct control' speech... by Grunt ramming into the Collector in question.
- Happens again during Lair of the Shadow Broker, during Tela Vasir's death scene.
- Significant Birth Date: Art mentions his new birthdate in the epilogue of part 1. It's used mainly to demonstrate how integrated into the Mass Effect universe he's become at that point.
- Socially-Awkward Hero: Art, when it comes to romance. Sure, he can give big speeches and take down bad guys without breaking a sweat. But any situation referring to romance (and especially Tali)? Gets incredibly nervous. Justified in that he had never been in a long-term relationship before coming to the Mass Effect universe.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Mass Vexations 3 has already gone through the cure the Genophage mission and Mordin is still alive afterwards. Justifed in that it was written several months before Mass Effect 3 came out.
- Spotting the Thread: Kaidan doesn't buy into Art's made-up backstory all that much after Feros, and he gets good at this. Fortunately for Art, Kaidan sees that he means well regardless of how much of the truth he's omitting and thus doesn't Pull the Thread on Art as is usual for the trope.
- It's important to note that during debriefing after Virmire, Kaidan is the first person to jump to Art's defense after Shepard's What the Hell, Hero? speech. He says he doesn't trust some of Art's information, but that he still trusts Art himself because according to Kaidan he 1) somehow knew that the events of Virmire were going to happen, and that 2) he tried to make sure that he was the one who died, not Ash. Thus, Kaidan reasons that Art only has the best interests of the crew of the Normandy in mind. And keep in mind, this is without Kaidan knowing that Art saved his life by suggesting that Shepard keep him close to her no matter what happens.
- Straight Gay: Will Moskas from Mass Vexations 3. Also, his husband Nadeire.
- Supporting Protagonist: Art tells the story of Mass Effect from his Pointof View as a member of Commander Shepard's team. Art is even left behind on a few missions while Shepard advances the main story.
- Played further when he gets a loyalty mission.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Art and Tali go to a karaoke bar on their first date. And on this first date, Art ends up singing Some Enchanted Evening and Tali gets to sing I Could Have Danced All Night.
- System-Shattering Kaboom: What the weapon that Art and co finds does.
- Take That!: Given the Author Filibuster nature of some of Art's ramblings, there are a few of these scattered throughout. The two most prominent are a long internal monologue decrying a troll that attacked most of the Kung Fu Panda fandom and Armond White being compared to a Reaper during Art's second Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Mass Vexations 2 has take thats to Tommy Wiseau and Eric Douglace. And then there are several to Twilight that are spoken to other characters that fly right over their heads:
Jacob: I wonder if animal blood would cut it. Or maybe I could even be a vegan vampire. It would be interesting to see what would-
Art: Uh, no, it would not. Vegan vampires are idiotic. I hear that if you're a vegan vampire, you sparkle.
Jacob: *beat* You're right, that does sound idiotic.
- The Talk: Given to Art by Mordin, in a much more awkward way than in the game.
- Talking Appliance Sidekick: An interesting variation comes up towards the end of part one. The paperweight turns out to house the spirit of a Prothean diviner. This becomes apparent when the spirit of the diviner speaks to Art after he helps save the Citadel. It talks to Art, but it never moves like an animate object.
- Teleportation Misfire: It's assumed that this is how the fic begins.
- Tempting Fate: Art mentions how it's a good thing that Jack can't activate the casual sex scene dialogue because Shepard is a woman early in the sequel. Eight chapters later, he gets the casual sex scene dialogue.
- Chapter 24 of MV 2: "I think I'll be the first to shoot myself in the face should I ever be unfortunate enough to encounter a chase in a fucking taxi while I'm here." Cue Lair Of The Shadow Broker.
- The last line of Chapter 35 of Mass Vexations deals with the crew being called to Aite, where the Project Overlord DLC takes place. Art hadn't played through it, and he believes the mission to be a very simple one to shut down a VI. He actually ends the chapter on "What's the worst that could happen?"
- The Chosen One: Art, much to his chagrin. To be fair, though, it's not played totally straight: Vigil does say that his role can be taken up by anybody not of the ME universe, it's just that Art was the first one to come across Orange.
- There are actually four chosen ones according to Orange's prophecy: Art, the one from 'strangest tides', Shepard, the one from 'tides well known', Madison, the 'wing of justice', and Isaac, the 'sword forged in hell'.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Done in Tonn Actus' mission when Art introduces himself as Zevran Aranai.
- And then done again during Garrus' recruitment mission in part 2 when he introduces himself as Marty McFly.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: This, combined with World Of Cardboard, constitutes Art's rant towards the end of his loyalty mission. This also applies with Art telling the rest of the ground team after Jacob tells.
- The Stations of the Canon: Played with. Not a whole lot seems to change with his presence. Art is given a few hints that he does have the power to change things by simply being there (see For Want of a Nail above). However, the basic story missions are still there, and they still mostly go according to how Art remembers them.
- An important thing to note is that it's actually justified at one point: Art attempts to make the events at Virmire occur as close as they did to the actual game while being in the place of Kaidan in the hope of steering Shepard's decision towards what it could be in the game so that he can get caught in the blast and get sent home. It just ends up not being his decision when everything unfolds as it should and Shepard has to make her choice.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Art to Gavin Archer near the end of the Overlord chapter, along with a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- This Loser Is You: Art doesn't always excell at everything. He actually has to learn how to use firearms, injures his instructor very unintentionally at one point, very nearly gets his ass handed to him by an asari commando on Noveria, and is not exactly a stand-out member of Shepard's squad by any means. He doesn't get biotics, either. Probably his only advantage is that he can learn how to handle firearms quickly. That said, he doesn't stay this way for too long...
- Throw It In!: The referral to the MacGuffin as 'the orange paperweight' throughout the fic was actually spurred after a reviewer comment referred to it as such.
- Took a Level in Badass: Art takes several by the time he gets to Virmire.
- The cincher comes even before he leads the salarians when Art stands up to a krogan who is aiming a shotgun in his face. After having cast his weapons to the ground. Granted, said krogan is Wrex, but still, it's incredibly brave and pretty awesome, especially when you consider that it helps to save Wrex from his Final Death before Virmire.
- Transplant: Happens to Ashley, who ends up joining the cast of Spellbinding Radiance after she dies at Virmire.
- Training Montage: Not really given the medium, but Art does more or less lampshade a possible scenario for a montage.
—And I cue the Rocky-style montage!
- Trapped in Another World: Art, obviously.
- Trying Not to Cry: The entire reason Art locks himself in his room after Virmire is because he doesn't want anyone to see him cry. Also, because he doesn't have to tell anyone his origins that way.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: In part three, the story splits into two narratives after Shepard's arrest: the one follows Art and the crew of the Normandy on their typical adventures trying to unite the galaxy against the threat of the Reapers, and the other follows Shepard's trial from the point of view of her defense lawyer, Will Moskas.
- Twofer Token Minority: Nogond'Viraliz, gay biotic quarian not from the Fleet.
- Unlikely Hero: Art, a musician with no military training, is dropped into the events of Mass Effect and becomes a member of Commander Shepard's elite team. Adapts surprisingly well.
- The Unreveal: We finally find out what happened on the Aurigos... except that we don't, because the entire explanation is skipped.
- Art and Rael'Zorah both fly into one when they find out what happened to Tali in Chapter 18 of the third story.
- Use Your Head: Art headbutts Uvenk instead of Shepard. It still fricking hurts.
- Wham Episode: Art's loyalty mission. All goes reasonably well until they get to the end. They find the impostor looks almost exactly like Art, and after enough provocation he finally flies into a rant in which he spills the beans about the truth of his origins... in front of Shepard, who had been out of the loop until that time. She doesn't take it well.
- Chapter 39: We learn the exact circumstances that brought Art to the Mass Effect Universe, and they're much worse than Art thought.
- Chapter 4 of Part 3. Shepard gets arrested. That's all that needs to be said.
- Chapter 18 of Part 3. All that really can be said is that Tali gets hurt. Badly hurt.
- Wham Line: "You don't fucking understand! I knew she was going to fucking die since I fucking arrived on the fucking Citadel!"
- What the Hell, Hero?: Let's just say that Art creating a Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story was bound to create numerous instances of this at some point or another.
- Garrus, Wrex, and Shepard don't take to finding out Art knew everything about what had been happening for the past two years all too well... Especially not Shepard.
- Tali also doesn't take too kindly to Art not saying anything about her loyalty mission. It's also a case of Poor Communication Kills when you consider Art had intended to tell Tali, but couldn't find the words with which to tell her. And it got worse when she finds out about her father; Tali basically punches Art and tells him she never wants to speak with him again.
- This trope pretty much kicks Art around throughout a large part of the sequel after his loyalty mission. Among other things:
- Jacob freaks out, and is initially pretty angry at Art.
- Jack doesn't take it too well when Art brings up Murtock—in front of a crowd of people gathering at the mess hall, no less!
- Zaeed also doesn't take the news particularly well, such that he tries to pin the events of his loyalty mission on Art not saying anything. Ironically, it results in pretty much the only moment of What The Hell Hero after Art's loyalty mission that isn't directed at Art.
- Hell, even Jenny doesn't take it entirely well, and with good reason: her brother is one of the colonists that got taken away, and Art pretty much hid what he knew of their fate from her. And when he finally tells her what might have become of her brother, she starts flinging repair tools at him.
- After Thane dies, everyone gives this to Art- and Kaidan gives Art a solid one after Art admits that he's from another universe.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Inverted in part 2 with a pair of paragraphs of 'where are they now' towards the end of the prologue.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Art has an acute fear of heights. It's mentioned towards the beginning of Thane's recruitment mission. Sure enough, it comes back to bite him in the ass when they're fighting on the bridge towards the end of the mission. which makes you wonder why, if he's played ME2, did he tell Shepard that he couldn't go up the tower.
- A Wizard Did It: Mystical elements start to show up at the end of Part 1 in a series that has always been strictly science-fiction. Word of God has stated he intends to stick mainly to divination and other spiritual ideas, though. It gets pretty crazy by the end of MV2. Better or worse? Your mileage may vary.
- Write Who You Know: Art, obviously, but a man the author knew IRL gets transplanted into the story as well.
- You Are Not Alone: Tali comforts Art after Virmire by hearing his actual backstory and giving him a long hug.
- You Are the Translated Foreign Word:
- You Can't Go Home Again: Art ends up separated from his family, friends, sense of home, and even his way of life thanks to winding up in the Mass Effect universe. A large part of the fic is subsequently spent wondering about what happened to everyone he ever knew, and wondering what could have been. A very big part of the Virmire mission is also him hoping he'll go home, too, before Shepard keeps him from doing that. And then it's revealed in the sequel that even if he had died at Virmire, it wouldn't have sent Art home, as he was Dead All Along in his home universe.
- Part of his wondering if he'll ever see his friends again is mitigated in the sequel when Sturge shows up as a character.
- Your Mom: Used against Zaal'Koris when they go to the Fleet. The extremely poor taste of Art's insult is lampshaded by Kasumi soon after:
I mean... a yo momma joke? Really? Art: Yes, really.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle:
- Art with the Virmire mission. He's said goodbye to the entire crew, he's bracing himself for dying by nuclear explosion... and then Shepard goes for him. It was obvious, though; the orange paperweight was still mysterious, and there were still a few loose ends about Art's speculation on Mass Effect 2.
- In MV 3, the team find and activate a superweapon to destroy the Reapers near Haestrom. It worked, but as it turns out, that was only a small force… and the rest of them are near Earth.