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Fan Fic / A Star To Steer Her By

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Sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll! Also violence.

A Star to Steer Her By is a Mass Effect fanfic by Shades of Mauve that novelises the events of Mass Effect 2, keeping close to the plot of the game while adding the unique story of Rhiannon Shepard. It was completed in January 2013, spanning 41 chapters and just over 182,000 words.

The fic is told from the point of view of Shepard and Jeff Joker Moreau, and explores Shepard readjusting to life again from being recently dead, and Joker dealing with the guilt he feels over his role in the destruction of the original Normandy, eventually leading to their hidden mutual attraction morphing into an ever-so-slowly budding relationship.


Far from strictly a romance, the fic features healthy helpings of humour, action, adventure, and explosions, demonstrating that although the protagonists may have personal issues, they are above all competent professionals.

It also gives glimpses into the lower decks workings of the Normandy, primarily from Joker's perspective, and several scenes featuring a sympathetic portrayal of Jack.

Has a sequel called Sunset and Evening Star as of June 2013.


Tropes used in A Star to Steer Her By include:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Joker, a support character in the games, gets full protagonist status.
  • Afraid of Their Own Strength: Shepard, fearing both her new physical strength and her temper after she makes a dent in a bulkhead with her hand.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Shepard tries to bring home a varren.
  • Anchored Ship
  • Battle Couple: Shepard and Joker, each a master of their own field. Never mind that one is ground-side and the other in orbit.
  • Big Eater: Shepard, on account of being a biotic. Luckily, she's not picky.
  • Brick Joke: Shepard's helmet, seemingly forgotten about after Joker orders Kelly to get the thing out of his sight and never to be seen again... until the epilogue.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Trex, who designs a trap that ensures he's nowhere near the fighting when it breaks out.
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  • Damsel in Distress: Nessie.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Shepard swears, Joker babbles:
    Shepard: That's it. The fucking universe is fucking fucking me. Fuck it sideways.
    Joker: Everybody's dead. Everybody's dead, Dave.
  • Disabled Love Interest
  • Does Not Know How to Say "Thanks": Tali gives Shepard a gift, and is very amused by the floundered reaction.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Rhi and Jack.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Joker becomes prone to this when Shepard is wearing the black mission dress.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Shepard, due to her childhood on the streets, will eat anything that can be termed food.
  • Face Palm: The reaction to EDI's logical reasoning that dysfunctional families in dire need of therapy make an acceptable template for behavior as Shepard has referred to Normandy's crew as a dysfunctional family on multiple occasions.
  • Fan Fic: Is one.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jack and Shepard.
  • Fix Fic: Multiple tweaks to make in-game inconsistencies and Idiot Balls make sense. Among them moving the potentially hostile Geth away from the AI core and Jack wearing actual armor.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Shepard remembers dying.
  • Foregone Conclusion: A side-effect of the fic following Mass Effect 2's plot.
  • Friendship Trinket: A lime green paper umbrella.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Deconstructed. Characters are glad to be alive: Yes. Happy to ignore multiple injuries for some nookie? No.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: And also, loud.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Grunt's first hangover ends in the medbay with Zaeed holding a gun on him. Then again, hungover Zaeed points his gun at anything that makes noise.
  • Hug and Comment: On hearing a familiar crinkle:
    Joker: You have ration bars in your pocket?
    Shepard: I always have ration bars in my pocket.
  • If I Do Not Return: Joker invokes this both seriously and comically in the same conversation with Kaidan.
  • In Medias Res: Puking on camera is a good place to start a fic.
  • Insult to Rocks: The biotic grape juice to grapes.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Rhi goes on vacation to Elysium after a bad break-up, that's how she was in the right place at the right time to repell the batarian invasion.
  • Jerkass Realization: Kaidan catches on once the word dead gets repeated to him enough times.
  • Lady of War: Doctor Chakwas demonstrates her gun skills on the shooting range.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Wrex and Rhi swear silence about Wrex swinging her around like a kid.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Wrex and Shepard.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Sea-Fever by John Masefield.
  • Mama Bear: Rhi, to any people she considers hers - including a childhood friend she hasn't seen or heard from in decades.
    • EDI, to Joker. Hilarity ensues.
  • Moment Killer: A major plot-point and source of significant annoyance to the protagonists, however well-intentioned by the interrupter.
  • Mundane Solution: How do you make certain you're able to quickly and efficiently neutralise a potentially hostile Geth? You bring a gun.
  • Mundane Utility: Biotic levitation, for pulling food off of high shelves.
  • My Greatest Failure: The source of Joker's side of Anchored Ship.
  • Necessary Fail: Discussed, regarding Normandy going down.
  • Noodle Incident: The burnt rat.
  • Not a Morning Person: Joker is neither verbal nor cognizant before coffee.
  • Odd Friendship: Rhi and Jack bond through drugs as stress-relief.
  • Only Sane Man: Joker has occasional flashes of this when dealing with the rest of the flight crew.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Happens when Joker doesn't stay away from the alcohol and Shepard is in the vicinity:
    • First time when accidentally making an oral sex joke after Shepard says going down (stairs) is usually quick.
    • Second time he sets himself up for a bet for a kiss, realising a moment later he's going to have to throw the game.
  • Parental Abandonment: Earthborn Shepard never knew her parents.
  • Pillow Pistol: Garrus' sleeping habits.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Averted. Both Shepard and Joker keep open comms and provide running status updates to make certain everyone is on the same page of the same script at all times. ...while on duty, anyway.
  • Real Men Cook
  • Shrouded in Myth: Shepard does this deliberately as part of her method for gaining loyalty among her subordinates. Even the ones who know what she's doing fall for it.
  • Smooch of Victory
  • Songfic Multiple occurances in-fic:
    • Chakwas and Mordin singing opera.
    • Joker being trolled by loud music on the bridge
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Rhi, normally perfectly eloquent, occasionally goes back to her native street slang for effect.
  • Space "X": Discussed:
    Joker: You bought a hamster. For a space ship.
    Shepard: So it's a space hamster.
    Joker: You going to start talking like one of those 20th century sci-fi vids where they stick the word 'space' onto everything?
    Shepard: You have a problem with that, space-pilot?
  • Storyboard Body: Joker's airplane tattoo.
  • The Alcoholic: Shepard.
  • The Power of Friendship: Turns out, it's much nicer to have Jack on your side.
  • The Shrink: Type 1, the harmful shrink, who twists Joker's survivor's guilt and conflation of Normandy and Shepard in order to have him removed from duty.
  • Through Her Stomach: Romance made simple.
  • Unequal Pairing: Shepard's concern about this is the cause of Anchored Ship from her side.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Joker and Kaidan, though sometimes they put the insults away... for a few moments.
  • Weapon of Choice: Shotgun. Frigate.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Rhi, curiously enough given her background. She uses her body language and facial expression extensively to hide her thoughts and feelings to make people read her wrong, but she goes to great lengths to avoid spoken lies.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Specifically, Did I do anything last night I need to apologize for?
  • Who Is Driving?: Pointed out when both pilots are in the mess.

Tropes used in Sunset and Evening Star include:


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