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An alternate-universe re-telling of Mass Effect that is extremely faithful to the games but for one crucial difference: no Reapers. This transforms the genre of the story from a Space Opera with Lovecraft Lite Cosmic Horror tendencies to a character-driven Sci-Fi Buddy Cop Show in textual form.

All right, now that you're properly confused, here's a better description: 20 Minutes into the Future, a lady captain and Friendly Sniper in The Republic's Space Navy rescues a Tuxedo and Martini special-ops Cowboy Cop of an alien species. He takes up residence in her ship, and together with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, They Fight Crime! Murderers, terrorists, cult leaders, and omnicidal artificial intelligences, watch out, because Shepard and Kryik are on the case! Definitely a fun read even if you've never played the games.

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Available at https://archiveofourown.org/works/11359791?view_full_work=true


Mass Effect contains examples of

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Inverted in the case of Legion. They are probably the most stable and level-headed of the ship's crew—not even Shepard is as calm. Double-subverted for Legion's faction of the geth. Averted for Edi (only because she's a bit more emotional than Legion, justified because she's a single computer program and Legion is the voice of thousands of processes in the cloud acting as one). Played straight for Nazara and Harbinger.
  • Main/Ambadassador: Legion. They're a sort of ambassador for the Orthodox faction of the geth, a robotic Hive Mind race experiencing a sort of civil war; they're also a scarily competent sniper who pull more than their own weight in the squad.
  • A Sinister Clue: Notably averted for Wrex. He's left-handed but absolutely not evil in the slightest; he'll advocate physical force and Pay Evil unto Evil somewhat more than most people, he has a mercurial personality (as opposed to Jenkins who's all hot), and has a callous disregard for the law where it conflicts with the right thing, but his multiple hearts are firmly in the right place.
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  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Do we really need to say Udina? He has precisely the character of his in-game version.
  • Blue Blood: Camilla Pallas, née Aurelia, her husband Lucian, and her son Octavian. She's the daughter of a general (in turian society this means a lot), and he's the planetary Governor-General. This was her second marriage, though; Camilla Pallas was previously known as Camilla Kryik, meaning that her other, estranged, son Nihlus is also a blue-blood.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Kaidan went to one to hone his sci-fi magic skills.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Battlemaster Urdnot Wrex.
  • Cold Sniper: Legion. Justified: they're programs on a walking, talking computer, and computers don't have feelings, do they?
  • Commander Contrarian: Councillor Sparatus will nitpick and argue because he likes to argue. Had Shep killed the Rachni Queen, he'd have said something along the lines of "The Council doesn't promote genocide", but since she saved her, he instead said "You risk the rachni killing us all." Fortunately, Shep knows this, although it takes her forever and a day to realise it.
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  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Administrator Rannadril Ghan Swa Fulsoom Karaten Narr Eadi Bel Anoleis is skimming three million credits a month off Noveria's accounts. Noveria's Internal Affairs team is not happy about this, to say the least. He gets arrested.
  • Cowboy Cop: Shepard, Nihlus Kryik, and Garrus, in equal measure, but differently. Garrus quit the police force because he was tired of the endless red tape; Shepard plays up her empathy but is prone to bypassing regulations to get the job done; Nihlus repeatedly breaks protocol seemingly because It Amused Me.
  • Dirty Cop: Kaira Stirling, Thomas, Hodder, Moira, and Gilian in Port Hanshan (all bribed to dispose of evidence that Bel Anoleis had his fingers in the cookie jar).
  • Da Chief: Saren and the Council, particularly Sparatus. Or so it seems; Sparatus is actually a Commander Contrarian, partially to fill the role of the Devil's Advocate and get people to assuage every possible complaint people might throw in the Spectres' direction, and partially because It Amused Me. He'll say the sky is green and the grass is blue, so that people prove the opposite rather than taking it for granted.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nihlus, all the time.
  • Dual Wielding: A variation, with Battlemaster Urdnot Wrex, as per his title (the krogan name for a paladin, with the human equivalent being a Vanguard). He's left-handed, though he fires his shotgun with the right hand, because his left hand's for magic.
  • Fantastic Racist: Saren questions Shepard's candidacy behind her back, seemingly just because she's human. Little did he know she recorded the whole thing for use as insurance—and so did his former protegé Nihlus! Ashley acts similarly, but only in private, and in a more benign way than Saren.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Suit rat for the quarians, bird for the turians, tin can for the geth. Tawny might fit for human women, but it's more a sexual term than a racial one—Fantastic Country Matters, perhaps.
  • Main/Foil: Udina to Legion (they're both ambassadors, though Legion is a sniper/infiltrator with a Medici-like outlook, while Udina is a sedentary Borgia-style jerk). Also, strangely, the ships: the SSV Normandy and turian ship Impera are both frigates, both armed with a Thanix, and both have AI's. Normandy has Edi and Impera has Nazara.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Legion and Tali (leukine); Saren, Ashley, and Udina (choleric); Wrex (melancholic, though notably extroverted); Shepard, Kaidan and Liara (phlegmatic); Nihlus and Jenkins (sanguine).
  • Freudian Excuse: Saren's prejudice. Humans killed his brother (in ship-to-ship combat during the Contact War). To top it off, the officer that ordered the shot was Shepard's mother. Small wonder he doesn't like Shep very much.
  • Friendly Sniper: Shepard. Less so, Garrus Vakarian (only because he's more sarcastic).
  • Guile Hero: Shepard.
  • Hate Sink: Udina. There is nothing redeemable about the man, and he exists solely to attract everyone's irritation. Even the humans hate him; he's a bureaucrat doing the job of a politician. Which may explain how he got the job: the Diplomatic Service is part of the Civil Service in most Westminster-style countries.
  • Hive Mind: The Orthodox geth and the rachni both qualify in different ways; the geth are computer programs all contributing a tiny share to the overall cloud (which has no leader, of course), while the rachni are governed top-down by their Queen.
  • High Concept: Lethal Weapon... IN SPACE!!
  • I Call It "Vera": Shepard's pistols are named Sin and Dex; her rifle's name is Vincent.
  • I Owe You My Life: Played every which way. Shepard takes a bullet for Nihlus, and Saren saves Shepard and Nihlus several times over.
  • Internal Affairs: Gianna Parasini, using a secretarial job as deep cover.
  • It's Personal: Saren's hate for Shepard in specific. The CO of the ship that destroyed the turian flagship and killed his brother Desolas was her mother Hannah. Small world.
  • I Work Alone: Nihlus. Shep regards this as a liability, and he gets better.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Saren wavers between this and Jerk with a Heart of Jerk. Yes, he's less of a jerk than Udina—no Reapers, so he's free to be himself. On the other hand, he's an eye-wateringly xenophobic, prejudiced, egotistical chauvinist with a grudge against the Shepard family in particular... but he actually gets the job done. Unlike Udina. Until he screws the pooch and his ship runs away from him, because A.I. Is a Crapshoot, which is why it's illegal. Shep covers for him, because doing anything else would be massively hypocritical... it's just that her ship's equally illegal AI is nice, helpful, and sane.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ambassador Udina. On a scale of Medici to Machiavelli to Borgia, he's just a bit past Borgia. Thing is, he's not even remotely competent; he's a paper-pusher, an Obstructive Bureaucrat promoted to a job where he needs to relate to people and aliens. Nobody likes him, not the human Alliance Navy, not the turians, not the asari, not the salarians, and definitely not Shepard or Nihlus. Exactly the wrong type of temperament for a diplomat.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The Special Tactics and Reconnaissance group (essentially the Citadel's FBI) and Citadel Security (their local police).
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Small arms in this fic are railguns firing supersonic slugs; a few ships have Thanix beam cannons, but those are rare, expensive, and nowhere near man-portable. They are also not energy weapons; they fire boiling metal in a continuous stream—still kinetic, just with a thermal kick, like HEAT anti-armour rounds.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Wrex. Sarcasm is his first language (or rather, irony, as he rarely if ever intends to hurt anyone with it).
  • Last-Name Basis: Only Shepard's mother calls her Jocelyn.
  • Last of His Kind: Her Rachni Majesty. Shepard does the right thing and saves her.
  • Leave No Man Behind: Shep subscribes to this ideology, as does her mother.
  • Main/Paparazzi: Khalisah bint-Sinan al-Jilani, though she believes herself to be an Intrepid Reporter
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: SOP for Cerberus. The thresher maw on Edolus is just the beginning (and, for now, unexplained), only that Armistan Banes had something to do with it.
  • Master Race: Pro-human (and anti-everything else) Cerberus and pro-turian Facinus.
  • Minovsky Physics: Standard for this universe (the eponymous Mass Effect, which creates mass out of thin air when positive current is applied to a particular material, and makes mass go away with negative current).
  • Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness: Very much on the hard side, even more than the games, with just One Big Lie.
  • More Dakka: Although there are three snipers on the team and one sharpshooter, all except Legion use conventional anti-personnel scoped sniper rifles (think Dragunov). Legion's Weapon of Choice, on the other hand, is an anti-tank rifle designed to be used off a tripod (think Barrett). The carnage is a sight to behold.
  • My Beloved Smother: In a non-familial sense, Dr Chakwas, to absolutely everyone on the ship.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Donnel Udina, let me count the ways. Chewing an Alliance officer out because she responded to a distress beacon while commanding a secret stealth ship? Check. Forcing that same Alliance officer to accept a spec-ops post she doesn't want, offered by the man broadcasting the distress beacon, solely to advance human interests? Check. Managing to do it in the most disagreeable possible way? Check. Also Bel Anoleis, but then he's Stealing from the Till and has good reason to obstruct the cops who just landed on his front doorstep.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: For the humans, it's Staff Lt Kaidan Alenko, Officer Commanding of the Normandy's Marine detachment. Aside from that, there's Nihlus Kryik, who's the estranged stepson of Lucian Pallas, the Governor-General of Taetrus, and Camilla Pallas née Aurelia, once known as Camilla Kryik, the daughter of a general in the Turian Hierarchy.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Noveria.
  • Private Military Contractors: Blue Suns and to a lesser extent Eclipse.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Legion (ultramarine) to Tali (pink), Garrus (blue) to Nihlus (pink) and Wrex (red), Kaidan (blue) to Ashley (red).
  • Sand Worm: Thresher maws. Their presence on one planet was even set up as a trap.
  • Sapient Ship: The Normandy hosts an AI, which is illegal under international law because of the potential for A.I. Is a Crapshoot. Debatable if the ship is sapient, or if it's just a peripheral for a sapient computer.
  • Sherlock Scan: Thanks to his grasp of Shep's habits, Kaidan deduces, or rather abduces, that she didn't order him to play a role for C-sec's benefit and that Nihlus did. That's just an example (Lt. Alenko has good logical skills all round). Nihlus as well: he figured out that the ship's executive officer was a (highly illegal) computer program, from day one, and was unfazed by the fact. Shep, on the other hand, has a knack for crime scene investigation, which is half a Spectre's day-in-day-out work.
  • Skunk Stripe: Shepard's hair looks like a badger's arse and ends up significant in a plot to frame her for murder by its absence.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Wrex and Nihlus.
  • Squishy Wizard: Kaidan Alenko.
  • The Ace: Nihlus. It gets to his head, but in comedic ways.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Legion. Though as a platform for the Orthodox Geth they don't believe in a Higher Purpose, they believe they're free to make their Own Purpose—which just so happens to be blowing people's brains out from a mile away.
  • The Chessmaster: Nihlus Kryik. Saren, his mentor, wants him to sabotage Shep, his mentee, by filing an unfavourable report, because Saren is a xenophobic wanker (well, it goes deeper than that, but see It's Personal and Freudian Excuse). Saren even implies he'd be fine with disposing of her in a more permanent fashion. Nihlus parks himself where he knows Shep will find him and, knowing her penchant for eavesdropping, record the conversation; of course, Shepard doesn't realise this, thinks he's a traitor, and after a tense moment or two, Nihlus admits that it didn't matter whether she'd recorded the conversation (she hadn't, but by a fluke, Garrus had), because he did, and then suggests blackmailing Saren or going to the government and having his clearance revoked. And Edi, the ship's computer, encouraged him in this!
  • The Engineer: Tali. Edi also takes the occasional stab at this, and Garrus—-only Garrus is an artillery engineer, and Tali is a propulsion engineer.
  • The Federation: The Galactic Council is either this or a confederation; it has its own special forces, but the turians, humans, salarians, and asari have their own armies and navies as well. There's the Spectres (Citadel jurisdiction and like the FBI), and then there's the Special Tactics Group (salarian jurisdiction and like the CIA with spaceships). There's also the Shadow Broker (privatised and like Paladin Securities).
  • The Gadfly: The ship's pilot, Lt. Jeffrey "Joker" Moreau. Also Nihlus Kryik, in a less abrasive way.
  • The Hacker: Edi and Tali. Played with, as the former is a program running on the ship's computer.
  • The Lost Lenore: Arthur for Shepard.
  • The Medic: On the ship, it's Surgeon Major Karin Chakwas, who has an M.D.; in the field, it's usually Kaidan Alenko.
  • The Paladin: Oddly enough, Wrex, who is essentially a krogan Vanguard.
  • The Republic: The humans and asari, at the least.
  • The Southpaw: Wrex. Because of his rare and unorthodox gift (well, for a krogan), he's reduced to holding his more conventional firearm (generally a shotgun) in his right hand; his left hand is for biotics. After all, facility with weapons is a way of life for krogan, but biotics are special!
  • Tranquil Fury: Saren's default state of mind. Yes, even when he's alone with Nihlus.
  • Translation Convention: It's implied that everyone is speaking their own language most times (though bilingualism in the conventional way is common and encouraged) but that their omni-tools (smartphones in all but name) are running simultaneous voice translation.
  • Main/Ubermensch: Nihlus. "He was like a force of nature. He had his own ideas and codes that governed how and why he did things. Galactic law and even his former mentor could not get him to do something he did not want to do. He was chaos itself, and Shepard feared to place her trust in the unpredictable. After that, it was all a matter of making excuses."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Shepard and Kryik, but it's light on the vitriol—more like muriatic best buds.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Exactly the same as a human, thank you very much. No more, as Saren seems to think, and no less, as Ashley thinks.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Shepard and Kryik, Shepard and Garrus. The unresolved (for now) romantic/sexual tension takes a backseat to the action and comedy, though.
  • Wrench Wench: Tali. She keeps the ship's engines in order, along with providing tech skills on missions.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Nihlus Kryik embodies this trope. He leaves (likely empty) crates on the Normandy as a form of duress code and Bothering by the Book, because he's familiar enough with police and military protocol that he knows it'd work—and pulls several such tricks, one after the other.
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