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Fanfic / Mass Effect: End of Days

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Mass Effect: End of Days is an Alternate Universe Mass Effect fic by Postmeat. The basic premise: no Prothean cache on Mars, no relay in Sol. Humanity develops its own tech, slowly expanding away from the Solar System. Finally, almost a thousand years later, Humanity no longer just consists of humans; humans made a synthetic partner race, which they dubbed Vision. Eventually, Humanity discovers a Mass Relay and makes contact with the Citadel races.

From the Citadel's perspective, any existence of AI is against Citadel laws. Because of historical bias, they only see what they want to see: the Alliance exploiting the Vision as tools, and unfortunately only associating the Alliance with humans. However, from the perspective of the humans, the Vision are not only their equals, lovers, co-workers, allies, and friends, but also an equal in the governance of the Alliance. To the humans, the Alliance is both Vision and human. At the end of the day, both humans and Vision trust each other and are willing to let the other take part in their lives.

The Citadel also notices that they have a powerful military and is in possession of advanced technology, such as Dyson Swarms and terraforming and see no gain in making them enemies. As a result, the Alliance has an embassy on the Citadel, but is effectively a sovereign nation largely left to itself.

The quarians, as the ones who are the most familiar with A.I., finally get a colony – as a bribe from the Council, which they recognize for what it is, but take advantage of none the less. The batarians, as in the original timeline, leave the Citadel. The geth make peaceful contact with the Alliance right away. There you have the basic political layout. More or less calm, but then the batarians attack the Alliance... backed up by the Galaxy's bogeymen. Collectors, that is.

There's a conflict among the galaxy's residents to what the term 'humanity' means. The official definition from the source, the Alliance, is the combined population of both humans and Vision. But, because of historical bias towards AI, other third parties, such as the Council, see the term only meaning the population of humans, ignoring the history of the Vision which earned them this title.

Contains examples of:

  • Actually, I Am Him: Saren addresses who he believes to be Shepard... actually, it's Shepard and Heloys' empty Power Armor being solely driven by Heloys, a Vision. The real Shepard is walking alongside it.
  • Adaptive Ability: Nalas gradually became harder and harder to kill.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Humanity as a whole is depicted as significantly more competent. As their different technology, WW III, and the war against Nalas made them both an Outside-Context Problem for the Council, gave them experience in space combat and made them more united.
    • Ashley Williams is an N7 by the time she appears, the cremr de la creme of the Alliance.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Saren briefly becomes a member of the Normandy and an ally before he was injured.
  • Age Lift: Everyone appears to be the same age as canon except for Saren, who's still young as just became a Spectre.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: A Batarian slave has his revenge upon his former master by giving him one of these and leaving him locked up to die.
  • Appropriated Appelation: The "illusive man" moniker, in this universe, comes from a term used to describe a man with a human supremacist agenda that was never identified.
  • Arm Cannon: Shepard's upgraded arm.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When talking to Tali's father, Legion points out that his Papa Wolf attitude is biasing him and leading him to ignore her desires. When he objects to his love for his daughter being called bias, Legion reminds him that he had just said that he would rather eliminate the entire geth Collective rather than see her harmed and that it wouldn't be that big a stretch to extrapolate that his mindset extends to every other being in the galaxy. He then asks him if that isn't bias, what is, which he can't answer.
  • Artificial Limbs: Shepard has a prosthetic right arm. After the battle of Elysium, it gets upgraded. Most of humanity also uses this, to some degree.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Reapers, like in the games, are made up of countless sentients. We get to observe the process behind the mind of the Reaper-larvae from the Collector base. We follow a prisoner as more people gets indoctrinated and assimilated, until the larvae gains consciousness.
  • The Assimilator: The Nalas parasite could absorb other entities into itself to evolve. Some scientists theorized that it had previously absorbed the surface lifeforms of its planet and gone into dormancy to allow new life to evolve, and near the end it had used the knowledge from the humans it had absorbed to build ships of its own.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Batarain Hegemony blatantly attacking a human colony results in not only the Systems Alliance declaring war against them, but the SA also funding the various rebel groups within the Hegemony.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The SHIVA's main gun can kill a planet (and has) but it also takes a full day to reload between shots.
  • Badass Boast: The human ambassador tells the Citidel Council "Everything is possible. The impossible just takes more time." when she tells them of their plan to attack the Collectors after their attack on Elysium.
  • Benevolent A.I.: The Vision. Despite outnumbering the humans, they remain friendly.
  • Body Horror: "Kumu", a quarian on Omega who seems almost more machine than organic, and not in a well-put-together way.
  • Boring, but Practical: A Volus merchant buys and sells spices, citing that every race uses them and they're far more valuable for their size than most other goods he could haulnote .
  • Brain/Computer Interface: An integral part of Alliance society. The Council finds the extent of them using it... disturbing.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Chapter 9 is called that (it has the batarians attacking and running into a heavier than expected resistance).
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. A batarian rebel is intending to have his revenge against a Hegemony officer who killed the woman he loved, remarking the officer may not remember her but will remember him. However, the officer actually remembers... which makes him almost shit himself once he realizes the former slave is just outside the door.
  • Cassandra Truth: Played with. The Alliance seems to have pieced together quite a bit about the Relays being a trap but realizes a lot more data is needed before they can present it to the Council.
    • Similarly, the Council is a bit skeptical about the Prothean-Collector connection, and the Alliance plans to let Saren tell them about what happened at the collector base first in hopes they'll listen more to one of their own operatives.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: A former slave takes revenge by shooting his former master in the belly and leaving him to die of infection in a dark cell, alone. And reminding him he has a family, and his estate also has slaves to be liberated.
    • Not to mention Diana Allers, after going missing in batarian Space.
    They'd made her eat her own eyes. Then they had started working on her for real.
  • Cute Kitten: Phaos gets a kitten as a present, and remarks it should be illegal for an animal to be that adorable.
  • Defector from Decadence: Many batarian rebels turned against the Hegemony due to either crimes against them by the ruling class or being sick of having to support said ruling class and their excesses.
  • Distress Call: A very disturbing one during the "first contact" with Nalas.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several characters show up a lot earlier than in the game – as much as it can be said considering the timeline divergence. So far, the Normandy has barely been introduced, yet we have seen Legion, the Collectors, including Harbringer, what seems to be Eva Coré's artificial body (which had to be given up, but will likely show up later)...
  • Eldritch Abomination: While the Reapers have yet to make a proper appearance, they are shaping up to becoming fullblown Eldritch.
    It was magnificent. The Entity moved towards the Light, and the Light grew ever larger, blowing away the darkness. A shape took form, and It saw Its new form, and Its previous world clearly. As starlight reflected on the waters' surface. The stars' light will not be extinguished. As long as They exist in the sky, starlight will remain on the water...

    ...And this is a thing which already was.
    Reaper Larvae, gaining consciousness.
  • Exact Words: A Hegemony officer promises to a former slave that he'll be his slave? Fine, that means the former slave is free to kill him.
  • Genius Loci: Humanity has developed a race of A.I, which they can communicate with through neural links. However, the increasing use of the links and its spread through civilization meant that the neural fluctuations created by both parties on what would pass as the AU's version of the internet has created a self-aware information network, albeit without a will, which the humans and A.I can tap into and direct at will. Their entire civilization and the individuals are effectively part of one giant, fluid mind.
    • This allows the newly-hatched Rachni Queen, the Alliance finds, to tap into the neural network and communicate.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Nalas was taken out by pretty much scorching its planet. The scorch reached a depth of 20 km. Given that it was a highly adaptable virus, which was beginning to breach the space-blockade, and potentially threaten the Alliance as a whole, they weren't left with many options.
  • Had to Be Sharp: It's noted that humanity's advancements in certain fields, like developing their terraforming technology and their alternate FTL system, are because they needed them to survive. Before they developed FTL, with no eezo or Relay to access, they needed to be able to terraform worlds simply to house their populations.
  • Hufflepuff House: Because the Alliance doesn't join the Citadel races and the Council is unwilling to take overt actionnote , the Council tends to have little relevance to the human-centric plot.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Played with. It is a different-tech fic, where humanity created a synthetic partner-race, and developed technologically and sociologically independent from eezo and the relays. When they finally do make contact with the Citadel, humanity's tech is in an order of magnitude above the Citadel's. However, it is pointed out that humanity is only on that level thanks to the Vision, which lessens the impact of "organic variables" - like costs and pay - while all the Vision needs is materials and time. The "superior"-part is the fact that humanity managed to achieve peace and understanding with their creations, and their civilization as a whole is presented as superior to the Council. But as individuals, the aliens are just as good.
    • If anything, the story explores civilization development, and aims to show that 'natural development' - superior, while 'uplifting' - inferior, as this is mainly what separates the Alliance and the Citadel.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Citadel races regards humanity and their partner-race, the synthetic Vision as this. Despite the heavy presence of A.I, the Council realizes humanity is dangerous in other ways, just by virtue of getting along with synthetics. Since First Contact was peaceful this time around, the galaxy has no real idea of what to expect in a war, leaving them at a disadvantage. The Alliance never discovered eezo or relays, they have vastly differing technologies and weapons, coupled with a tenacious attitude and the industrial capabilities a friendly A.I brings with it. This, in turn, means that no-one is really sure how to handle them. The Council, in particular, is very concerned with the Alliance's unprecedented rise in power in the galaxy and wants to do something about it, but acknowledge the fact that the Alliance is a bad opponent.
    Valern: "I believe they are the single most dangerous enemy our races have ever encountered."
    Tevos: "They would have no reason for an attack (...) This is a species which wants to live, not die."
    Valern: "Which increases the challenge facing us a hundredfold."
    • The first examples of warfare the rest of the galaxy sees is a garrison fending off a combined assault by Collectors and batarian pirates, being relieved by the geth. The Alliance then proceeds to pick the Hegemony apart, while simultaneously launching an assault on the Collector base. Only when all this is over and done with does the Council realize just how dangerous the Alliance can be. Valern in particular seems to believe it is worth knowing their history, and is none too pleased with the findings.
    "A species which fights wars like that are going to be... very hard to beat."
    Valern, in regards to footage from WW2.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Humans are regarded as insane by pretty much every Citadel race, for one very simple reason; they have created a synthetic partner-race, similar to the quarians and geth. However, unlike the quarians and the geth, the humans and their A.I's, the Vision, learned to fight together, and are quite comfortable with the other. Naturally, the Citadel (which has always regarded A.I's to be crapshots) finds it insane that the Vision are even allowed to aid humans in matters of technology and genetic engineering.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Humanity never discovered eezo or relays, but did develop FTL, AIs, interstellar colonization, and did encounter another (hostile) space-faring species. Eventually, A.I become commonplace, and averts A.I. Is a Crapshoot and Robot War. While humanity itself moves along technologically faster than the Citadel, and have already started experimenting with eezo-technology, it is noted that the friendly A.I and the extreme exponential growth A.I's enable, is the reason they are as advanced as they are on a whole.
  • Infodump: A lot of the dialogues come as that, especially when geth are concerned.
  • Implausible Deniability: When, after the attack on Elysium, the Alliance strikes back, while backing up all kind of batarian insurgents:
    The Hegemony denied everything as propaganda. No one was even remotely fooled anymore.
    Even as their navy suffered defeats, ships being captured, by rebel hands.
    Even as pamphlets and videos appeared on many colonies.
    Even when they lost control of their own network.
  • Ironic Echo: When the Systems Alliance first requests the Council to rein in the Batarian Hegemony, the Council replies that it's an internal matter and they don't interfere with such minor skirmishes. After the Systems Alliance declares war on the Batarian Hegemony, the Council tries to stop them, only for the human ambassador to remind them that "it's an internal matter and the Council doesn't interfere with such minor skirmishes".
  • It Can Think: Nalas managed to build spaceships toward the end. However, its mind was so alien, that no true contact was ever made, and not from lack of trying.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: An AI piloted robot does that during a slave rescue operation. The AI managed to upload into another body... something the quarian slaves present aren't too happy to hear.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: The distinction is all but gone in the Alliance in that regard.
  • Last Stand: On Elysium, led by Shepard, just like in the original timeline. The geth arrive in time to turn the odds against the batarians.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Saren and Anderson discuss how the geth saved a colony, and Anderson remarks that there are worse first impressions. In the games, the turians occupy a colony, and Saren loses his brother.
  • Lost in Transmission: During the first contact with Citadel races, the first thing the Alliance does upon emerging from the Relay is isolate the present Council ships just in case. All the Council receives is a barely discernible image of a 5 km ship outside the windows.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Alliance uses missile pods quite liberally.
  • Make an Example of Them: After the batarian attack on Elysium, the Alliance obliterates Torfan and launches all out war against the batarians both to make sure "no one ever fucks with them again" and to remind the Council that the Alliance is a sovereign nation, not one of their underlings.
  • Meaningful Echo: When a slave holds at gunpoint his former master, who killed the woman he loved:
    "W... wait..." he said weakly.
    "That's funny. That's what I said."
  • Meat Moss: Nalas.
  • Mind Rape: Reaper indoctrination is presented as this, just as it is in the games themselves. During the aftermath of a Collector-raid, we get to follow one of their prisoners as the indoctrination takes a toll on his mind.
    He did not dare to sleep, for then the whispers would grow louder, stealing his thoughts and dreams. The whispers were already in his head, taking his thoughts away. He felt it before when he had finally managed to shut his eyes, when the whispers had entered his dreams, obscuring them with shadows and screams. It was as if... as if a graveyard had become an entity, which held him down and... ...and... screamed... screamed into his soul.
  • Mythology Gag:
    Shepard: "Wrex."
    Wrex: "Shepard."
    • In Mass Effect 3, Wreav mentions that he wants Australia as pay for his help. In this fic, several krogan have actually moved to Australia, with the only change being that alligator wrestling has become slightly more popular.
  • Neck Snap: During the final confrontation with the leader of the batarian attack, Shepard is out of bullets, and thus resorts to this tactic.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Alliance points out that for all the Council can scream about the destruction of the Nalas and its planet, they hardly have any ground to complain given what they did to the Rachni and the Krogan.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Council spends most of their time either bickering about what action to take or trying to maintain the status quo to really get anything done. Lampshaded by several characters that the Council basically ignored the Batarian Hegemony making slaves of their people for centuries whereas the Systems Alliance went to war the moment they could prove the pirates attacking them had Hegemony backing.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Emily and Elwynn, the two captured N7s, wreck half the Collector Station at the cost of their lives.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The Alliance's idea of planetfall on hostile territory is to simultaneously drop asteroids and troops from orbit. The asteroids are for masking ship signsls and free bombardment.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: When a boy born to Artemas hears his mother discussing sexuality with Adam.
  • People Jars: After Tali is badly injured, a sealed pod is used to treat her.
  • Planet Killer: The SHIVA's gun. Or rather, the ship is named after the gun.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Chekira, once he realizes he's being held at gunpoint by a former slave. One with a grudge.
  • Properly Paranoid: Someone calls batarians paranoid after learning they keep their classified documents on a completely separate network. Another person notes that the Alliance did try to access the documents after all...
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Not when it's the revolution against a thousand years old slave state.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Vision use a lot of these, either partly organic, for recreation, or fully mechanical.
  • Robo Sexual: Throughout the Alliance, it is not rare to find a Vision and Human in a romantic relationship. These types of couples can have children, depending if the Vision has a special 'Organic' Sentinel-type body, these being about fifty percent organic. Organic, as in high-quality epidermis and internal parts. The rest is synthetic, a mechanical endoskeleton. Vision who use these are more likely to never leave their body, enjoying the organic experience or having close relationships with humans. This helps in a stable physical-world relationship.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Absolutely rife in chapter 1 alone. Humanity, without any FTL-tech, manages to create a dyson swarm that reaches up to 10% complete solar englobement in a matter of only decades. This incomprehensibly massive collection of habitats, containing a total livable surface area many hundreds of millions, if not billions that of earth, holds a shattering population... of 3 billion. They terraform Venus and Mars more or less by shipping the atmosphere of the one to the other with pressurized cargo haulers, over a course of decades, with fusion rockets. The heat generated from the movement of that much gas alone should slag the surface of both planets, before you even get into what the rockets generate.
  • Self-Destructing Security: The Trishulas go out with a big boom when someone tries to dismantle them.
  • Sense Freak: Adam, upon being given a near-human Vision body, has a lot of it with all the related tropes. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The introduction of the N7 (usually coming in Human and Vision pairs, both considered N7) and their Power Armor has a lot of Halo and Battlestar Galactica references. The main difference being that the Vision aren't restricted to just assistant roles, and aren't slaves to the N7 but are N7 themselves.
    • The Nalas is basically the Blacklight Virus from [PROTOTYPE].
    • The weapon used to take the Nalas out is basically the M.D. from the ''Ender's Game'' movie.
    • According to Aethyta, the Alliance's weapon protocol can be summed up as "bigger" followed by "more".
  • Splash Damage: The Trishula defense cannons, based on the SHIVA main gun. They turn out to be very effective against Collector Seeker Swarms.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Nalas is a Meat Moss so alien that they never manage to establish communications, or even determine if it was truly sentient or not.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: An I Always Wanted to Say That case, naturally.
  • Terraform: The Alliance doesn't have access to the Relay network, and its regular FTL isn't that much faster than the Council's, so they have to compensate through superior terraforming tech.
  • Tempting Fate: This being an alternate-humanity-tech fic, the Council, while discussing how to curb the Alliance's growing power in the galaxy, and how to potentially strike back, Tevos asks the others to be realistic.
    "Let us be reasonable, Valern." Tevos spoke again. "What's the worst they could do? Bring back the Rachni?"
  • Terrifying Rescuer: During the attack on Elysium, a geth force arrives as Big Damn Heroes. The Alliance is used to them being allies and welcomes them. Tali – not so much.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Harbinger-possessed Collectors are stronger than in the game, seeing as the author doesn't have to keep game balance.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As usual, the Batarian Hegemony. Attacking a brand new species possessing unknown technology after having left the Citadel, giving the Alliance a rather clear run at them.
  • Virtual Sidekick: This is one of the roles that the AI race known as Vision take with humanity. All soldiers of the N program have a Vision companion in their Power Armor for combat support, along with other roles. They can also take control of said armor, if needed.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: The Alliance can use portals to spam missiles and redirect incoming fire - a technique it kept secret for as long as possible.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The batarian (backed up by the Collectors) attack on Elysium is beaten off by the Alliance, Shepard, and a geth force playing Big Damn Heroes. Another attack on another colony... not so much.