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That guy in the background sure looks like he's up to no good.
"For Tomorrow We Die" is a Mass Effect fanfic telling the story of a well-intentioned attempt to broker peace between the quarians and geth that has far-reaching consequences not only for the involved parties but for the galaxy at large. Following the events of Mass Effect 2, the collectors have been defeated beyond the Omega Four Relay, and the Normandy SR-2 is trying to make its way home after suffering severe damage in the battle. The quarians and geth are on a path to reconciliation after centuries of war, but circumstances and prejudices render the peace process difficult at best and impossible at worst. Neither the quarians or the Citadel are trusting of the geth, and the fact that a rogue Spectre in service to Cerberus is behind the plan does nothing to ease tensions. Complicating matters, the clock is ticking on the inexorable return of the reapers.

For Tomorrow We Die contains examples of:

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  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
    • Garrus counseling Shepard after coming back through the Omega Four Relay.
    • Tali talking to Legion about being exiled.
    • Shepard and Captain Lorian after Mordin's briefing, talking about the losses both commanders have endured.
    • Legion talking to Gabriella Daniels after Ken's death.
    • As the Normandy speeds towards the final battle, Tali is on the verge of breakdown and Shepard tells her the secret of what keeps him going.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: EDI and Legion are proven allies of organic life, especially for the crew of the Normandy. Mobile Platform Two and the rest of the geth are suspect.
  • Action Girl: Tali'Zorah has become one of these after long service on the Normandy, an example being when she is attacked by a FENRIS mech on Dashta and her shotgun overheats. She easily melees the bot into submission and is more embarrassed about losing track of her weapon's status than scared.
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  • The Alcoholic: Almost everyone on the Normandy, illustrated with scenes where the crew either drinks, talks about drinking, thinks about drinking, or drinks something they wish were alcohol. Partially because it's fun, partially because for the taste of it, but mostly because after everything they've been through, they need it.
    Captain Lorian: Your friend is an accomplished alcoholic.
    Shepard: You get that way real quick aboard this ship.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Several characters hope for romantic relationships that aren't likely to develop because death can happen at any time. Tali'Zorah pines for Commander Shepard. Kasumi Goto lusts after Jacob Taylor. Kal'Reegar is Friend Zoned by Tali, Grunt develops a crush on a crew mate who saves his life.
  • Anyone Can Die: Despite the suicide mission being a total success, and no one dying in the Collector base, Thane and Ken die saving the Normandy as it escapes, Jack succumbs to wounds gained from warning the Normandy of the ambush at Dashta Interchange Station. In the original ending, Legion, Kasumi, and Jacob go up with the Xenophon when it self-destructs.
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  • Arc Words: "No sacrifice too great."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The original ending. The geth/quarian conflict is over. Tali saved the geth collective from Cerberus, and out of gratitude the geth spare the quarians from extinction and allow them to return to Rannoch. The reapers are ultimately defeated thanks to Commander Shepard's efforts to unite the Alliance and Citadel races and by forcing the Council to believe in the threat. The price? The Normandy is destroyed and everyone in the crew but Garrus, Tali and Mordin are killed.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Gabby, learning of Ken's death.
    • Tali, after the attack on the Rayya and the realization that no one in the galaxy is going to help them.
  • Character Witness: After the massacre at Dashta, Shepard and the Normandy crew are branded as terrorists and murderers by the media. The Illusive Man intends to counter with his own propaganda blitz showing Shepard as a hero, but is beaten to the punch by the ex-asari commando Shiala who erects an extranet site called Normandy's Hope encouraging people who've been saved by Shepard to share their experiences. The site goes viral when Urdnot Wrex submits a video defending Shepard and promising to violently end the lives of those trying to frame his friend, drawing the attention of Emily Wong who both reports on the story while adding her own experience with Shepard to the list.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Enlea T'Vari's datapad.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: From Jack, dictated by Shepard to Miranda.
  • Crapsack World: Garrus describes the Mass Effect universe in these terms while trying to convince Shepard that the events unfolding around them are not his fault, especially that Legion's exposure of sensitive information was not sabotage or treason, but a genuine attempt to try and make the galaxy a better place, but it backfired.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Dashta Interchange Station
    • The destruction of the Rayya
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The alternate ending.
  • Fantastic Racism: Every species and many characters show signs of this at some point in the story. Having been through so much together, the Normandy crew is pretty much past all of that.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Enlea T'Vari learns that if a member of the Normandy's squad attacks you, Commander Shepard will automatically assume they were in the right.
  • Flash Back: After the squad has split up on Dashta Interchange Station, flashbacks to their conversations with Shepard show what happened that lead to their departures.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Normandy at the Battle of Sahrabarik.
  • He Knows Too Much: How Matriarch Naranna comes to see Collona.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Enlea T'Vari, and to a lesser extent Captain Lorian.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Thane Krios, during the oculus attack, forgoes seeking medical attention after an explosion to bring the Normandy's reactor online.
    • Kenneth Donnelly, during the same crisis, seals the compartment he occupies to save the rest of Engineering from an explosion and fire.
    • Jack, who fully intended to abandon her shipmates at Dashta, learns of an impending attack on the ship and crew and seeks out a way to warn them, ultimately leading to her demise.
    • Fleet Captain Lorian disobeys an order to apprehend Commander Shepard when he learns of the magnitude of the reaper threat, then circumvents the Citadel Council entirely by putting Shepard in direct contact with the Citadel Fleet high command. He is recalled to the Citadel to face a court martial.
    • In the original ending, Legion, who, while hacked into the Xenophon, is holding back the self-destruct command from executing. However, the Xenophon's GARDIAN lasers are targeting Shepard's shuttle. Unable to countermand both orders, he focuses on the lasers, causing the ship to self-destruct, but not fire down on Shepard.
    • In the original ending Commander Shepard, Miranda, Zaeed, Grunt and Samara during the final assault by the geth. Their deaths buy Tali just enough time to restore consensus to the geth making them friendly once more, but it comes too late to save her friends.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Garrus repeatedly defends his knowledge of the Fleet and Flotilla franchise by saying he only likes the music. Even though it bothers Tali, he encourages Mobile Platform Two to use its synthesized quarian voice because he likes it. However, in recognizing Mobile Platform Two's voice, he outs himself as a fan of show as it is using a simulated copy of the show's biggest star.
  • Jerkass: Eric Dahlberg. Dahlberg resents being sent to the quarian Migrant Fleet to cover the faltering negotiations between the quarians and geth while Emily Wong gets the prime story of covering Commander Shepard's return from the Omega Four Relay. He makes his desire to be elsewhere very clear.
  • Jossed: A minor case involving Fleet and Flotilla. In Mass Effect 2, the vid is only mentioned in passing by a desperate turian trying to hit on a quarian. In the fic, much of it written before Mass Effect 3, Tali expresses a strong dislike of the show for being unrealistic and glossing over the day-to-day struggles of her people in favor of glamor and romance. When Citadel was released for Mass Effect 3, canon is that Fleet and Flotilla is one of Tali's favorites, to the point where she sings along with the vid whenever she sees it, and even shares a moment with Shepard doing it.
  • Kill ’Em All: Word of God states that the "we die" part of the title is very indicative of the body count. By the end of the story, in the original ending, every named and unnamed crewmember of the SR-2 Normandy besides Tali, Garrus, and Mordin has been killed.
  • Last Stand: a villainous example shown from the perspective of a Cerberus squad tasked with holding a key objective against Shepard's squad. It does not end well for them. Later, Shepard and the squad have their own last stand defending the same objective.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Jacob and Tali discuss the death of Jack while repairing Legion, and whether or not they should feel bad about it. They come to the conclusion it's okay that they don't, but when they start joking about it, Legion reminds them that the deceased was "one of us" and they stop.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Could be the motto of the Normandy.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Tali and Legion
    • Miranda and Enlea T'Vari
  • Oh, Crap!: The Normandy crew when they realize the turians are fighting a collector ship at the Sahrabarik Relay.
    • Enlea T'Vari when she sees the Normandy is carrying an asari Justicar.
    • The Alliance and Citadel fleet officers when the realty of the reaper threat becomes clear.
    • When Admiral Daro'Xen realizes the quarians do not have control of the geth as the Migrant Fleet Navy begins its assault on Rannoch.
    • The Illusive Man when he sees Shepard and company are on their way to the geth hub.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Several on all sides, including Admiral Hackett, Admiral Anderson, Commodore Rehme and Commander Shepard in the Alliance, Admiral Raan and High Captain Wylo of the quarian Migrant Fleet, Captain Artuis in the turian Hierarchy and ultimately Fleet Captain Lorian.
  • Running Gag: After Garrus outs himself as a fan of Fleet and Flotilla, the entire squad gives him hell for it, again and again.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Captain Artuis of the Vellius. Her ship is part of the turian task force assigned to capture or kill Shepard. The task force is decimated in a surprise attack by a single Collector ship and faces total defeat until the Normandy arrives to help. Shepard's plea for cooperation is denied by Fleet Captain Lorian, but Artuis joins Shepard's attack, saving the rest of the fleet.
  • The Chessmaster: The Illusive Man, Matriarch Naranna
    • Legion proves himself a mostly harmless version of this. Knowing what he did about Tali's discomfort around geth that defy the mold, Garrus' tendency to rile her up For the Lulz, the fact that Fleet and Flotilla is a sore spot for Garrus himself, and aware that the Geth Consensus was intending to send a platform specifically designed to imitate organic behavior, Legion suggested they match the voice of the lead actress from Fleet and Flotilla as an indicator of a pleasing Quarian voice. He did this, knowing that the Geth would agree, that Tali would be annoyed and eventually ask the Geth to stop, and that Garrus would pick up on this and subsequently ask the Geth to start again, all to set up a moment that would turn the entire joke back around on Garrus. As a bonus, Legion was present when his plan came to fruition and was able to question Garrus' manhood in the process. Clearly, messing with Tali is a good way to bring out his inner Troll.
  • The Illuminati: The asari Council of Matriarchs
  • The Mole: Eric Dahlberg
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Legion gives one to the entire geth collective criticizing their decision not to help the quarians when they face possible extinction.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kelly, Kasumi and Gabby are all watching and waiting for Tali to make her feelings known to Shepard. Even Garrus obliquely urges her to do it before something happens to prevent it permanently. Becomes a case of Everyone Can See It in the alternate ending where Tali has built the confidence to get Shepard alone to talk to him. The results are left up to the reader.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Jack and Zaeed. Tali tries it once when Garrus pisses her off. She fails miserably, much to Garrus's amusement.
  • Survivor Guilt: Shepard feels the loss of each and every crewmember who falls, but has a severe case over Jack.
    • Tali in the end.
  • Title Drop: Spoken by Shepard during a eulogy for fallen crewmates. There is no mention eating, drinking and being merry until lampshaded by Kasumi.
  • Took a Third Option: Shepard chose to keep the Collector Base, but instead of handing it over to The Illusive Man, he gives it over to the Alliance and Citadel along with the reaper IFF.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked in-universe when Mobile Platform Two enters diplomatic mode. Quarians do not like it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Admiral Xen holds no ill will towards Commander Shepard, but he stands between her and the quarians' one chance at reclaiming their homeworld without taking excessive casualties.
    • Fleet Captain Venatus Lorian is a by-the-book turian commander who will let nothing stand in the way of his mission of apprehending Commander Shepard. including the destruction of his task force. But when confronted with the evidence of the reaper invasion, he quickly joins Commander Shepard's side at the cost of his military career.
  • You Are Not Alone: Tali to Legion after the geth is exiled as a platform from the geth collective. Having been exiled herself, she understands exactly what it is going through.

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