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Fanfic / Guilty Sparks

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Guilty Sparks is a Halo/Mass Effect crossover, the sequel to When There Was a Tomorrow and the second installment in The Wormhole Chronicles.

After the Pyrrhic Victory at Reach, Commander Wade Shepard and the Normandy Crew escape with their ship in the belly of The Pillar Of Autumn, where they discover their adventures are far from finished. Within weeks of their escape from Reach, they discover a certain ringworld upon leaving slipspace, and are forced to explore it when the Covenant overrun the Pillar of Autumn.

Meanwhile, Dr. Liara T'Soni finds herself in for a rude awakening when a Covenant Special Operations team attacks her ship, and after connecting them to Shepard's disappearance, goes on an adventure of her own.

The story concluded on January 28, 2015, with the author publishing the first chapter of the sequel, Remnants, on April 22, 2016, and the first chapter of the Spin-Off, The Adventures of the Lucen: The VykurCorp Conspiracy, on June 26, 2016. Both stories now share a TVTropes page.

This Fanfic contains the following tropes
  • Adapted Out: While Zuka 'Zamamee and Yayap were merely Demoted to Extra, Major Silva's AI companion, Wellsley, is not even mentioned.
  • Adaptational Badass: Staff Sergeant Marvin Mobuto. In the author's notes, he points out that the character got pretty far into The Library (which is crawling with Flood), without regenerating shields or heavy MJOLNIR armor. Even Chief admits that he was a hell of a soldier. Note that this was in canon. Now, in this fic, the author had Mobuto get almost to the end of the level, making him even more badass.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Linda, as the Normandy's crew was able to clone her a new set of organs way ahead of schedule.
  • Adaptational Villainy: At first, Major Silva isn't any worse than he was in Halo: The Flood, but after all the time he spends butting heads with Shepard and his team he's driven to mutiny when Colonel Holland orders him to abandon the Truth and Reconciliation, refusing to join forces with Kig-Yar and Batarian deserters.
    • In his only scene from Halo: The Flood, Orna 'Fulsamee hated humans as much as any Sangheili, but privately expressed thoughts that they should "aspire to more" than wanton bloodshed. In this story, however, he's just as zealous and fanatical as any other Elite.
  • Affably Evil: Zek is kind of boorish but seems to be developing a Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with Varvok.
    • Word of God has said in simple terms that Emperor Narvkel, at least publically, is pretty much an Expy of Ronald Reagan. His public persona is supportive and grandfatherly, even though he runs a dictatorship worthy of Big Brother.
  • Alien Autopsy: Mordin performs one on a Flood Combat Form to give the cast a better idea of what they are dealing with.
  • The Alliance: Per the Reapers' manipulations, the Covenant has allied with various entities from the Mass Effect universe, including the Batarians, the Turian conglomerate VykurCorp, the Blood Pack mercenary group, and Aria T'Loak. However, it becomes apparent that this alliance is quite fragile, as many Batarian and Krogan parties involved are becoming jaded with the Covenant for their callous disregard for their soldiers. Aria straight up severs all ties with them within the first few chapters of the story.
    • By the end, Zek's pirates and Varvok's crew also sever ties with the Covenant, taking their respective crews with them.
  • All of Them: When Thel learns that the Flood are swarming the Truth and Reconciliation in massive numbers, no doubt to capture and repair the ship, he orders a Special Operations task force to be dispatched. When the officer on hand points out the chaos throughout the Covenant armada and battlenet will make prepping such a team cost far too much time they can't afford in order to aid the troops on the ground, Thel agrees and orders for all the remaining Converted/Husks still present among the fleet to be launched down to the ship immediately in drop pods to push back the Flood while the team is being prepared.
  • All There in the Manual: Played with- the author posts extensive notes in his blog about the reasons that he put the things he did into the chapter, such as expanding on details of Heritage Fields, how North Korea inspired the Hegemony, why certain characters died and others lived, and thoughts on why the Flood are so terrifying.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Zek, a high-ranking Kig-Yar sniper, when caught on the receiving end of an Invoked Mêlée à Trois, when some of the Normandy crew angered the local wildlife and send them to break the Covenant ranks, had this to say:
    "Oh, this is cheap, underhanded, and sneaky." He complained as he watched the scene with a grimace. Then he suddenly smile. "Kinda wish I had thought of it."
  • Ascended Extra: Orna 'Fulsamee had only a single scene to himself in Halo: The Flood. Here, he is much more involved in the events of the story, functionally serving as Thel's Dragon and ends up being an Arc Villain for Zek and Varvok's plan to escape Halo.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Vorsa is one of the highest ranking leaders of the Covenant on the Mass Effect side of the wormhole, and he proves himself to be a skilled warrior despite his arrogance to easily kill krogan with his Energy Sword in close combat and he nearly kills Urdnot Wrex.
  • Author Appeal: The author has stated in his notes that he's always like the idea of firefights and action scenes going on at an Amusement Park, and thus wrote in the infiltration of Heritage Fields.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: After one Door Stopper of a fic and three lengthy opening chapters of another, Commander Shepard and Master Chief, two of the biggest badasses in Science Fiction video gaming, finally team up to kick much ass.
  • Beleaguered Boss: Thel tries very, very hard to keep things under control. But with Zek and Varvok rebelling, Orna and Empathy repeatedly making unauthorized orders behind his back, and the Flood infestation escalating out of control, things quickly fall apart for him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Nelanax invokes this by flirting with Vik after a particularly heated argument, but she only wants to screw with him. However, this may be developing for real.
  • Berserk Button: Don't break Zek's rifle when he's shooting with it.
    "That was my favorite gun!" *cue twin plasma pistols*
  • Big Bad Ensemble: While the Covenant/Batarian/Reaper alliance are a more or less unified force, this trope inevitably comes into play when the Flood show up. The last third of the story sees them butting heads.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Fan Nickname North Korea in Space is taken to its logical conclusion on Khar'Shan (with a hint of Antebellum South in it as well, due to their stance on slavery).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Major Silva unleashed a rocket barrage that wiped out a large amount of the Covenant forces guarding the Pillar of Autumn. Actually lampshaded by Buck.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Legion is still experiencing the Glitch of individuality, but it wants to keep it rather than have it removed- from its perspective, learning about individuality could be a crucial step in Geth development and a key to understanding how organics work, which would only benefit Geth. It even snaps at Tali when Tali points out that it is suffering from freezes in the middle of combat and crucial missions. What convinces Legion to stop experimenting with the Glitch is Tali revealing that the individuality is working by picking the perspective of one specific Geth program and overriding the Consensus- something anathema to the Geth.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Tali's Mind Rape, where she's forced to confront images of her father and various figures who died under her watch spewing out her darkest fears and insecurities.
    • Vik suffered this in his backstory and it's what made him the paranoid conspiracy theorist he is today. After going broke on his pilgrimage, he signed an indentured servant contract and ended up under the service of a highly influential batarian who secretly owned other slaves and tasked with keeping his backdoor dealings clean. The batarian became paranoid that Vik would end up selling him out and when Vik tried to escape with his fellows they were caught and the others tortured to death while Vik pleaded with him to let them go. Vik managed to escape his bonds and flee on a ship, but he was threatened over the radio that he if he talked everything he loved would be destroyed, which is why he hasn't returned to the Migrant Fleet.
  • The Bus Came Back: After having not appeared in When There Was a Tommorow and being absent for most of this story, Cerberus finally makes its appearance in Chapter 30.
  • Call-Forward: Linda, before commencing operations on Halo itself, comments that they shouldn't have the armory next to the command center, they should have it next to the shuttle bay so that troops can grab their gear and go. When Miranda says she wasn't responsible for the design, Linda says they should consider it for the next refit. In Mass Effect 3, the Refit Normandy does have the armory in the shuttle bay.
  • The Cameo: Zuka 'Zamamee interrupts a Shipmaster meeting to warn his higher-ups that all their focus on "The False Shepherd" is making them ignore the arguably more dangerous Master Chief. He's also mentioned at various points throughout during his scenes where he attacks the Chief, albeit always off-screen. True to the novelization, he even appears with his Shade turret during the Autumn's final countdown, and gets an extended fight scene.
  • Cassandra Truth: Zuka 'Zamamee's insistence that the Master Chief is just as big as a threat as Shepard, if not an even bigger one, is ignored by Thel and the other shipmasters.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Plague Spreader, having several worms stretched into tentacles, has Dragon's Teeth at the tips, which it uses to impale and convert victims into husks.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Vik'Sajee, a.k.a. "3DomLives!" lives and breathes this trope. He even spouts counterparts to modern conspiracy theories in his introductory coutscene, such as malicious flouridation of water and space-Bigfoot on Noveria.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: The ODSTs and especially McKay are forced into this when Silva finally pulls his mutiny, with many of the former siding with him and the latter reluctantly siding with the heroes to stop him.
  • Cool Sword: Saya Empa's "Shiakala." An advanced version of a traditional Salarian blade that can both electrocute its opponents as well as spread explosive gel through its cuts to breach walls, though the latter feature first sees use after slitting a Krogan's throat.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The Flood vs. Reaper Husks.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Spadivus Orukuri, the CEO of VykurCorp, is this, as he willingly allied his company with the Covenant. We do not learn his motivations behind it until Remnants.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Vik'Sajee is a paranoid, deranged Conspiracy Theorist. However, when Sangheili assassins attempt to murder him, he responds by deploying combat drones and his holdout shotgun, and then flees though a well-devised escape system. But then curls up in a little ball once he reaches relative safety, because he's still a scared little quarian.
    • He also hacked a CDEM satellite without being detected, which is like hacking a C.I.A. satellite in terms of skill.
    • Let's also not forget the improvised explosive he makes in the middle of a firefight with the Covenant.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: One of Vik's theories, that Balak's "terrorist" group is actually Batarian Special forces masquerading as terrorists was spot on, and he's nearly killed to cover that up. In addition, his speech about how there is a group controlling the very fabric of society and weeding out cultures sounds eerily similar to the words that were used by Sovereign regarding the Cycle. He also claims that the STG is secretly uplifting species like they did with the Krogan. If you played the third Mass Effect game, you know that this is absolutely correct- Specifically, the mission "Priority: Sur'kesh", which shows them performing experiments on Yahg (the former Shadow Broker's race) for this exact purpose.
  • Deconstruction: Shepard's tendency to try and talk down his opponents and convince them to see his point of view gets subjected to this with Major Silva - as Silva has a titanic chip on his shoulder toward the SPARTAN-IIs for numerous (admittedly exaggerated or perceived) reasons, as well as general issues working with aliens due to the nature of the Human-Covenant War, Shepard's attempts to reason with him and find common ground only end up enraging the latter to the point that he decides to mutiny against Colonel Holland when the latter decides to side with Shepard over the ODSTs.
  • Defiant to the End: Lat 'Ravamee, Shipmaster of the Truth and Reconciliation, only gets angrier the further the humans get into his ship and desecrate it with his crew's blood. Even when he's alone on the bridge, he charges headlong at Master Chief with his Energy Sword and tries to keep attacking him even when the Spartan has shoved an assault rifle into his mouth.
  • Demoted to Extra: Zuka 'Zamamee and Yayap only ever appear sporadically throughout the story, as opposed to being the semi-protagonists they were treated as in the novelization. Word of God says that the changes caused by Mass Effect elements in the story would not have changed their sub-plot significantly, and given the large cast Guilty Sparks already had to focus on (with Varvok and Zek playing similar roles to boot), the author figured it was best to let the original novelization tell their story. Their sub-plot from the book is still happening, just off page.
    • This is lampshaded in Zuka's final appearance, in which Zek thinks he recognizes him, but never names him. Miranda notices he seems especially determined to kill the Chief, but nothing is never made of it and he dies a fairly anonymous death.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Thel assigns Zek to supervise Varvok's activities on Halo and aid him in finishing off the humans, both due to Zek's skills as a sniper and partially as punishment for failing to kill any of the Normandy crew during the initial battle despite engaging them several times and even reaching the ship itself before retreating. What's wrong with this? Well, Zek is a Kig Yar pirate with an established reputation for subverting Covenant authority, and is instrumental in Varvok's eventual Heel–Face Turn by helping Varvok to spy on the excavation sites, the one place above all others that the Covenant doesn't want anybody to look at.
  • Doorstopper: The fanfic is a little over 890,000 words long, which makes it longer than the entire Lord of the Rings series (which was around 576,000 words long).
  • Double Standard: Thel is disgusted by Varvok's slaver credentials, yet does not consider the subjugation of the entire Unggoy race by the Covenant to be comparable to Hegemony practices. Varvok himself calls Thel out on this, to which Thel responds that they are showing the Unggoy enlightenment through their gods the Forerunners, while the batarians are just slavers, pure and simple.
  • The Dragon: Lieutenant Commander Varvok commands a sizable expeditionary force of Batarian terrorists-turned-mercenaries from the same organization Balak runs. He could also be considered Co-Dragons with Thel 'Vadamee, as both are directly accountable to The Prophet of Empathy, who himself answers to The Inquisitor who in turn is accountable to Harbinger.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Trox takes over Kreave's Chapter of the Blood Pack by default, due to the latter's death in the previous story.
  • Dumb Muscle: If Wrex is to be believed, this is what Wreav is, which is why Wrex isn't worried about Wreav succeeding in taking control of Clan Urdnot.
    "He couldn't lead pyjaks to a food cache if you stuck a piece of meat on a string."
  • Dysfunction Junction: Liara’s crew on the Lucen is this. Nelanax is a psychotic nymphomaniac who thinks she’s an action hero and a chip on her shoulder for her dad, Saya Empa is a krogan-hating antisocial loner, Vik’Sajee is a paranoid conspiracy nut who thinks the world’s out to get him and has bad issues with batarians, and Kayap is a brutalized former slave and a coward… meaning he’s probably the sanest of the bunch outside of Liara and Wrex. It seems she takes after her mentor quite heavily. However, unlike Shepard, who was able to take an even crazier band and shape them into a weapon even the Reapers would fear, Liara isn't nearly as skilled at talking people to her point of view.
  • Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Vorsa talks about his Energy Sword in language that seems to be paraphrasing ol' Obi Wan Kenobi's own thoughts on lightsabers and blasters.
    Vorsa: (after cutting down two krogan) I find guns so...barbaric. Any brute could use a firearm. It takes precision and cunning to learn the ways of the sword. Far more elegant a weapon, wouldn't you say?
    Wrex: Maybe. But krogan don't do elegant.
  • Enemy Mine: Zek and Varvok decide the best course of action to get off of Halo and away from the Flood and the Covenant was to team up with the surviving humans to hijack a non-infested ship. Varvok and his batarians are not particularly fond of this plan due to their racism against humanity.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Varvok and Zek are appalled when they find out that Orna and Empathy ordered their men to their deaths, and worse for Varvok, that Balak (his father figure) signed off on it. Both are amoral individuals, but both care deeply for their men. This action drives the two to rebel.
  • Everybody Lives: In sharp contrast to the source material's ending, Every named character still alive in time for the finale, save Major Silva and Foe Hammer, manages to escape Halo, along with presumably several hundred Marines, Kig-Yar and Batarians who would have otherwise suffered some very Red Shirt deaths.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Rakavekyon Tower, which Word of God confirms, is based of the Ryugyong Hotel, in keeping with the North Korea in space basis for the Batarian homeworld. Liara and her team, after conducting surveillance on a summit between the Covenant, the Batarians, the Blood Pack and Vykur Corp, crash it. Then, when they are done, Liara has it crumble to the ground.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Flood vs. Husks. Husks are able to put up a fight, but against an enemy with virtually limitless numbers, they are quickly overwhelmed.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: When fleeing from Sangheili on Omega, Vik notes that it was lucky that they missed when shooting at him in a bar... until Liara points out that the Sangheili didn't miss- they were aiming at the humans.
  • Fantastic Racism: Considerably less present than in When There Was a Tomorrow, as the Normandy crew has proved themselves in the eyes of most of the people on the Autumn. Someone even put up posters across the ship with the alien crew's mugshots saying "Don't shoot these." Major Silva, however, still clearly doesn't care for them.
    • Played ruthlessly straight with the Covenant. The enslaved Unggoy are held with the utmost contempt, used as cannon fodder, inhumanely experimented upon, and no one but Liara's crew seems to care about their plight. And then there's the Covenant's genocidal campaign against Humanity to consider as well.
    • Saya hates krogan, and while It's Personal due to how a krogan was the one who gave him the Career-Ending Injury that cost him a chance as a Spectre, it truly started when he witnessed and was disgusted by how he saw firsthand how krogan children were made to fight and kill each other in Social Darwinist-like fighting pits by criminal krogans. His arc is about slowly coming to terms with that.
  • A Father to His Men: Many examples all around.
    • For the heroes there's Shepard and Chief, naturally, as well as McKay and Silva for the ODSTs and Johnson in general. Noticeably, Johnson is very quiet and morose when he sees the chained-down form of the Flood-infected Jenkins and talks about his regrets for not being able to do more for him in the initial attack, as well as his anger that Silva isn't letting anyone put Jenkins out of his misery. Unfortunately, Silva's Glory Hound tendencies get the better of them and many of his men stick by him, forcing McKay to go against him in the mutiny.
    • Zek and Varvok's most positive traits are that they are loyal to the people under their command. Learning that Balak sold out the batarians for guns and that the Prophet of Empathy threw Zek's own to the Flood without their knowledge is what galvanizes their mutual decision to turncoat to save what's left of their people.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Because Colonel Holland survived Reach and came along the Pillar of Autumn to Halo, he's the highest ranking officer while Keyes is captured. This means that Silva has a lot less leeway than he did in the novel.
  • Friendly Sniper: A rare villainous example with Zek, who despite occasionally getting snippy with Varvok, otherwise treats him with more respect than their Covenant contractors. Garrus and Jun also count as more heroic examples.
  • Glory Hound: As with Halo: The Flood, Major Silva is this, intending to bring the Flood directly back to Earth. And when Colonel Holland goes with Chief and Shepard's plan that would ensure that no Flood would be able escape the ring, Silva declares that Holland is a traitor unfit to lead and mutinies.
  • Hate Sink: Practically all of the Covenant and Hegemony focus characters in the story, barring Thel 'Vadamee, are depicted as irrevocably zealous, anti-human douchebags. Special mention goes to the Prophet of Empathy and Vorsa 'Judamai, with the latter being the most despicable Sangheili character introduced so far.
  • Heroic Mime: Salarian STG operative Saya Empa doesn't say a word, on account of a damaged larynx.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The second Plague Spreader encountered gets this by huskifying Flood combat forms. The process made them stronger, yet since there was no mind to subvert and control like in other organisms, they were not loyal to the Reaper creation. As a result, the Plague Spreader was literally torn apart by the Flood it tried to convert.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Spitfires, Grunt husks that attack by projectile vomiting liquid metal.
  • Ironic Name: Fittingly for his species, the Prophet of Empathy is a complete Jerkass who does not care at all about his men.
    • Not that this was any different from how he was in canon, mind you.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Varvok and Thel do not get along. At all. However, Varvok does understand human psychology far better than the Sangheili, which even Thel admits.
  • Jumped at the Call: Nel is all too happy to jump on board with Liara's missions after abandoning her old employers, and in general acts like she's some sort of action hero. She eventually reveals in a rant to Vik that all her life she wanted an action hero just like in her vids, which is why she joined the military and latter became a mercenary, proudly stating she's fought and killed criminals while saving lives and thus deserves the respect and recognition of others. Also deconstructed, as her need to see herself as a hero and take the risks to do it was at least partially tied to her issues with her father and led her to take the War Spirit Blood, which resulted in her addiction.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In addition to more personal reasons, this is why Wrex is not pleased to see Major Kirrahe on Tuchanka.
  • Lovable Coward: Both Vik'Sajee and Kayap are both completely out of their depth, and know it. They're still trying their best.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: In addition to following the Normandy Crew mucking around on Halo, the story also focuses on Liara investigating Covenant activity in the Mass Effect universe.
  • Mauve Shirt: Ben, a rookie Shadow Operative and the only one to be named. What, did you expect him to survive being cornered by two Hunters? Not a chance.
    • Sergeant Taylor, one of the surviving marines of the previous story, is killed off by the Flood shortly after encountering them. Taylor's squad, Samara and Grunt took his body with them to prevent Taylor from being infected.
  • MegaCorp: VykurCorp is a Turian conglomerate that is one of the Turian Hierarchy's most powerful technology suppliers. Who are in league with the Covenant. It comes as such a surprise that even Nel, who has reasons to hate the Hierarchy, does not believe it at first.
  • Mind Rape: Tali's horrific hallucinations of her dead father, Prazza, and Kal Reegar are caused by Flood microbes attempting to break her willpower after her suit is ruptured.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Many of the ODSTs (Buck, Romeo, Dutch and McKay being the most notable exceptions) follow Major Silva after he mutinies, and go with his orders to shoot anyone who tries to escape the Truth and Reconciliation to side with Holland (including their fellow ODSTs and former second-in-command).
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Upon learning the Master Chief's real name is John, Commander Wade Shepard muses on the fact that his parents were considering naming John as well. Naturally, "John" is Male Shepard's default name in the character creation screen.
    • Dutch mentions having once worked with a SPARTAN-II, who he later had to watch die. This was detailed in the Halo Legends episode The Babysitter.
    • John also references Halo Legends when he briefly thinks about Daisy, the protagonist of Homecoming.
    • The Covenant, when discussing the possibility of the Inquisitor being a rogue forerunner ancilla, mention knowing that the Forerunners had trouble at one point with an AI. They're reference Mendicant Bias, who won't even be mentioned until Halo 3.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Applies to Drothan, a batarian in the worker caste (located just above the slaves), and you can easily tell how much he's sick with all the crap the Batarian Hegemony does: from the emperor that General Rage said was an asshole that only cares about himself to the terrible quality cartoons that serve to brainwash batarian children.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: Zek opens the door to the cryo area of the Pillar Of Autumn. Inside is a miniature war between dozens of Flood combat forms and Sentinels. Zek immediately closes the door with a resounding "Nope."
  • No-Sell: Much like in the original game's sniper rifle, Mass Effect weaponry is almost useless against Flood combat-forms due to the fact that the tiny, high-velocity shots punch through with minimal damage to the heavily decentralized Flood cells controlling the physical body. Team Shepard's incendiary ammunition and shotguns have more of an effect, though; the former can burn the Infection Forms nestled inside Combat Forms' chests, while the fundamentally-different damage method of the latter tears Combat Forms apart rather than penetrating through them. In addition, most Biotic attacks do little to Combat Forms besides briefly slowing them down, but the Warp attack, at least, can do respectable damage.
  • Oh, Crap!: Varvok and Zek are terrified when they find out that blowing off the heads of Flood combat forms does nothing to stop them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Not only does Legion refer to itself as an individual yet again, it also angrily demanded for Tali not to attempt to fix the glitch its been experiencing.
    • Kowalski and his group finally confront Agley about why he's been acting extremely paranoid and cowardly since he got grabbed by a Drone in the last story. Agley finally admits that he was traumatized, since he had a pre-existing fear of bugs (his older brother held him down and dumped a bunch of maggots and centipedes on him as a kid), and nearly getting eaten alive by a drone really messed him up.
  • Ominous Foreshadowing: Just prior to events on the Truth and Reconciliation, Varvok begins hearing reports from his unnerved sergeant about Covenant excavation teams going missing and inexplicable communications blackouts. Later, when Varvok is allowed to go to the excavation sites to retrieve his men, all the Covenant present are on-edge and constantly looking over their shoulders like they're expecting something to attack them, and then the Elite Major gets a call that someone escaped quarantine and everyone rushes off to deal with it with him ordering-almost-warning Varvok and Zek to leave immediately.
  • Power High: Nel on "juice", an adrenaline boosting drug that she uses to perform her action hero stunts. Nel has a whole box of the stuff and it eventually comes back to bite her when she starts overdosing on it and the crashes start hitting her worse and worse until she nearly compromises the mission on the batarian summit at Rakavekyon Tower (though in fairness, Vik and Saya's own issues contribute as well). It turns out it's the reason she was discharged from the military. She was part of the testing for the War Spirit Blood to use it in the field, but eventually she started getting addicted to it and during one mission she took a "bad batch" that resulted in her killing multiple civilians and one of her squadmates in an Unstoppable Rage. She was court martialed and kicked out, but she stole the notes on the formula (her father was the chief designer) and started cooking her own batches.
  • Propaganda Machine: Heritage Fields is an amusement park outside Khar'Shan's capital designed to indoctrinate Batarian youth towards fanatical support of their emperor, clearly serving as an Expy of both Ryan Amusements and Soldier's Field.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Colonel Holland proves himself to be this, listening to the available facts and options regarding allying with the Covenant deserters to get off of Halo without letting the Flood escape calmly without allowing his personal opinions to get in the way and promising to convene with his staff to quickly make a decision. Once Kat reveals Silva's blatant disregard for the Flood's threat with his intention of taking live Flood samples back to Earth in the infested Truth and Reconciliation, he almost immediately confronts Silva over comms and makes it clear, Covenant deserters or not, the Flood are too great a threat to be allowed any chance to leave Halo, noting that the worst scenario with the deserters leaves them all betrayed and dead, but Earth safe, while the Flood will wipe everything out and doom humanity faster than the Covenant. When Silva calls his mutiny, Holland orders the heroes to get as many of their men as possible off the Truth and Reconciliation and prevent its lift-off no matter what, even if they have to fire on their fellow humans, and escape the ring safely.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After starting the takeoff sequence Major Silva is attacked when The Flood come out of hiding to kill the humans on board the Truth and Reconciliation and seize the ship for themselves. He's badly wounded and although the infection form that attacked him failed to burrow into him, the flesh on his injury is visibly mutating. Realizing the magnitude of his screwup, Silva orders his men to abandon ship while he stays behind to slow the ship's ascension so the survivors can escape before they destroy it.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Averted with Flood Combat Forms: Shepard reasons that the Flood are zombies and tries taking them out in one hit with a headshot. He gets really annoyed when it doesn't work due to the decentralization of Combat Forms' vital systems.
    Shepard: Oh bullshit! That's cheating! At least the Husks play fair!
    • Varvok himself tried the same thing, thinking that the Flood was merely a virus repressing his men's pain receptors. He and his companion Zek were appropriately horrified when it didn't work.
  • The Reveal: The epilogue finally reveals the Inquisitor's motives and reasons for helping the Covenant: it's looking for the Composer and allied with the Covenant because it is stored on the Halo rings, something the Covenant were already looking for.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In the (probably only first) encounter with a Hunter Husk called a Plague Spreader, two elites throw Grunts and Jackals at it to be converted into husks to attack the humans. When the elites run out of "lessers" to feed the Plague Spreader, it turns them into Husks too.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: It turns out that the Prophet of Empathy was the one who ordered Zek's men to their deaths without Thel's knowledge, who is shocked to learn this during Zek's coup. Zek is darkly amused to realize this, but he simply sees this as another reason why bugging out now is the best course of action if he can't even trust his own leaders to be on the same page.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Though Shepard is in a healthy relationship with Tali, Liara still has lingering feelings for Shepard. She regrets not acting on them sooner.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Vik'Sajee's apartment, with empty medication pills, walls lined with pictures linked together in haphazard ways, and a board that Sajee uses to write the latest conspiracy theory running through his head.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Nelanax Catonis is a Turian mercenary working for the Covenant/Blood Pack/Batarian alliance when Team Liara first encounters her, and she is quick to try killing the gang when she runs into them. However, when she discovers her employers are using slaves in medical experiments, she almost immediately does a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After hearing that a squad of his kig-yar were taken and dumped into a suicidal skirmish without his superiors asking him, Zek breaks away from the Covenant. Varvok follows suit to save the remaining batarians under his command.
  • Shock and Awe: The husks created by the Plague Spreader are electrical in nature, which they use to increase their melee damage.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silent Snarker: As a Heroic Mime, all of Saya Empa's snark is done over text communications. He asks Liara if it's too late to drop his more eccentric crewmates off at an insane asylum.
  • Sword and Gun: Saya Empa uses both a high-tech sword and a Hand Cannon. A favored technique of his is to impale a target and use his other hand to shoot their compatriots before they know what's going on.
  • Taking You with Me: When a group of Elites are about to be overwhelmed by huskified armored Flood Combat Forms, one of them ignites a plasma grenade and jumps onto one of his opponents, killing them both in the process.
  • That's an Order!: Colonel Holland invokes this on Major Silva when the latter refuses to partake in the alliance with the Kig-Yar and the Batarians. Much to Holland's fury, it doesn't work and instead prompts Silva into staging a mutiny.
  • The Bus Came Back: Chapter 29 reveals that not only have the Collectors returned, but the Reapers are using the Covenant to download Sangheili tactics into their programming to make them more akin to a special ops force instead of frontline combatants.
    • Chapter 30 reveals Cerberus was waiting for Liara's team to shut down the relay and try to get the Comm Relay station for themselves. At the end of the assault, The Illusive Man appears via Quantum Entanglement Communication to contact Liara and try to negotiate with her, marking his first proper appearance in the series.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A large portion of Chapter 27 is dedicated to Thel, Orna and Empathy showing Varvok just how greatly out of his depth he is when he tries to confront them over how they've used Varvok's men as meat shields against the Flood. Thel cuts Varvok's speech short by strangling him and tossing him to the floor, while giving him one hell of a tongue lashing:
    Thel Vadam: You are no longer the master, slaver. I AM!
    • It gets worse. Varvok learns that the Covenant got permission from Balak to use his men for suicide missions in exchange for weapons shipments. Essentially, this means the Batarians Balak supplies to the Covenant, including Varvok himself (who sees Balak as a father figure), are expendable not just to the Covenant, but to Balak too. Varvok is horrified at the reveal and at first can't accept it, even when Thel gives him Balak's written orders confirming it.
    Varvok: He {Balak} wouldn't sell my men's lives for guns!
    Empathy: He did. For Commander Balak understands, unlike you, that for any cause to succeed, sacrifices must be made. We could obliterate your pathetic excuse for an empire whenever we wish. We don't because we need you... for now. Balak realizes this. And now, so do you.
  • This Is Reality: One of the Author's notes points out that Mordin is good, but for people who expected him to cure the Flood or find some way to immunize people so they can fight it off after only a few days of study, when centuries of Forerunners tried and failed to do the same with much better equipment, laboratories, and funding, is just not reasonable. He can, however, make educated guesses and studies on how they work with samples brought to his lab.
    Sergeant Johnson: I don't suppose you could whip up a cure in here for it?
    Mordin: *shaking his head sadly* Unlikely. Hosts already dead. Nervous system and body completely altered. No possible way to repair. Can't vaccinate for parasitic organism. Body can't defend or react quickly enough to attack. Mutagenic bio-organism extremely advanced. Highly intelligent. Possibly has own built-in defenses for medical procedures. Even if had idea where to start...lab unlikely adequate to meet challenge.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Major Silva believes that the Flood are just simple animals that can be contained and cured, despite seeing what they can do firsthand. And he plans to show this by bringing live Flood to Earth, an act of arrogance that leaves McKay utterly shocked.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Despite Chief pulling him out of Reach (and Shepard's own missions alongside the members of Noble Team in the previous story), Shepard is a little worried that he'll end up "babysitting" the Spartan. Fortunately, Tali corrects him long before the Chief has to prove him wrong.
  • The Voiceless: Saya Empa, literally. A krogan merc crushing his larynx several years prior, removing his ability to speak. This injury cost Empa his candidacy for the Spectres, so he is still a little sore against all krogan.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nel, having recently taken three doses of her "juice", nearly set fire to the bunker Liara's crew is in and killed them all and gets one of these from Liara. The crazed turian pretty much ignored Liara and later compared her to the military that kicked her out for not "being able to handle how she got things done".
  • Where's the Kaboom?: Zek when he, Varvok, Chief and the other Normandy crew who went to the Autumn get on the Longsword and into space when the self-destruct countdown finally finishes up.
    Zek: Huh. I was kinda expecting an earth shattering ka-
  • The Worf Effect: Whenever the two fight, the Flood tend to have a major advantage over the Reapers, managing to overpower the husks and, in some cases, even turn being huskified to their advantage. Going off The Forerunner Saga, the Reapers aren't remotely in the same weight level as the Flood once the latter hits critical mass and brings out the big guns.
  • Worthy Opponent: After unceremoniously executing a wounded Sangheili, Wrex gives his victim props for not flinching in the face of death. By the end of Chapter 8, the rest of his men agree that the Covenant are this.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When they first face Combat Forms, Shepard, Varvok, and Zek all try for headshots, thinking they're like zombies (and given what Shepard's faced, he has some experience in that department. To be fair, this technique does work on Husks). When this fails, it understandably freaks them out. Well, it freaks out Varvok and Zek. Shepard calls it "Bullshit," and "Cheating."
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: While just over a month has passed for Shepard in the Halo universe, only a week has passed back home, with an additional week passing in story.