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Fanfic / Mass Effect: Murphy's Law

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"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
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Mass Effect: Murphy's Law is a science-centered Mass Effect fanfic written by author TacoWrath on FF.net. Following a disastrous accident, two top scientists, Sean Michaels and Dan Nemo, are transported to the future, later joined by other scientists of similar skill. Over the years, they develop technology that gradually shifts and changes their world, as forces around them seek their skills for good or ill. As the story and settings shift, so do the characters that join them as Sean and his team reluctantly become central figures of interest in the galaxy.

In a different take on the Mass Effect universe, Murphy's Law is a world where the Mass Effect games never happened, leaving the characters Sean and Dan in a world very alien to them. Taking influence from a variety of different sources, mainly Halo and Battlestar Galactica (2003), Murphy's Law manages to blend elements from these sources into the Mass Effect universe without ruining the feel of the world or turning it into a crossover fic.

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Started in April, 2015, officially completed in July, 2021. The author has also commissioned multiple pieces of artwork for the story, view-able at the ends of the chapters.


Mass Effect: Murphy's Law provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Plasma Rifle uses synthetic plasma produced by the Nemo-Michaels Reactor as ammo, firing blue bolts of the stuff at high velocity to devastating effect. The "cells" the plasma is stored in can even be paired with a grenade to create a much larger, heat-based explosion.
    • Later, the Confederation begins using reversed-engineered copies of a Cerberus rifle that Sean decides to retroactively call a Pulse Rifle. While it functions similarly to standard mass accelerator weapons, it fires larger, 4mm tungsten rounds sheathed in plasma, increasing its penetrating power and turning each shot fired into a miniature HEAT/SABOT round.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated:
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted. Of the three planets in the Klenot Nebula, only one is habitable, and even then its not a dextro-amino world, making quarian habitation more difficult.
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    • During their survey mission later in the story, Sean and his crew visit dozens of dead, lifeless rocks before discovering the Raloi homeworld, Turviss.
  • Alpha Strike: The Dragoon mechs are fully capable of this, though it runs the risk of putting it in emergency shutdown state.
  • Artificial Limbs: After nearly dying in a pirate attack at the edge of the Perseus Veil, Richard is given a cybernetic arm and eye by the Geth Collective to replace the ones he lost. They are based on the Geth's own mobile platforms.
    • Dan receives a "home-grown" left leg replacement from Richard after losing his original during the Battle of Fehl Prime.
  • Asleep for Days: Sean is rendered unconscious and bedridden for over a month after being badly injured during the attack on Aldrin Station. Even after awaking, he's barely able to move and is still not fully healed.
    • Happens once again after Sean's operation to surgically install an implant to counteract Reaper indoctrination. It works, but the "influence" in his mind nearly kills him in the process.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite all the fighting and bickering between Sean and Mara in the beginning chapters of the story, they eventually do hook up and get married.
  • Bad Future: Old Dan comes from one of these, though whether he is a genuine time traveler or has hopped between universes is unknown. He's trying his best to keep Sean one step ahead of the Reapers.
  • Bash Brothers: Sean and Dan are this when together, even having code phrases for certain maneuvers. Makes sense, given they used to be on a professional paintball team together.
    • The ORIONS are all this, considering the training they went through together. The numerous procedures they went through only made them better.
  • Berserk Button: Just try threatening Dan or any of his friends.
    • Hurt any of his people (or god forbid you lay a finger on a child), and Sean will ensure your remaining time in the mortal coil is very short. Sean was willing to throw away his entire reputation in an instant and punch Han'Gerrel simply for speaking ill of Dan after the loss of his leg on Fehl Prime.
      • A particularly notable example is when one of his Marines is instantly killed by a husk during the Battle of Reach. After killing several husks with a satchel of grenades, he walks out of cover firing his Pulse rifle at more from the hip, overheating and partially melting the rifle in his hands. He is left with painful burns on his hands afterwards.
  • Beyond Redemption: This is the initial outlook Sean and his team have on anyone associated with Cerberus, though Sean's thoughts in particular begin to shift to more merciful ones as he begins to realize the lies that the organization spouts to keep their more idealistic members in line.
  • BFG: The Plasma Gun is this for Sean, and anyone else wielding one.
  • Black Bra and Panties: Mara surprises Sean with this the night of his 31st birthday, flirting suggestively with him and telling him it was hard to get before the two have sex.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Dan is one of these, keeping at least two razor-sharp knives on him at all times in addition to his private collection. Sean also exhibits much lighter shades of this, carrying a knife whenever he's on field ops.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Admirals Rann, Koris, and Zadie arrive just in time with a Quarian Liveship to save Sean and the rest of his crew from Lynda's ship.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Dimitri's shouting in combat situations translate to some rather... colorful phrases.
    • The insult Golo uses after being shot by Sean roughly translates to "Fuck" in Spanish.
  • Bird People: The Raloi are this to a tee. According to Word of God, their visual design is based on a mix of elements, including the American Bald Eagle, feathered Velociraptors, and Frank Herbert's Dune.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The Illusive Man receives an unceremonious one at the hands of Sean in Chapter 94.
  • Canine Companion: Sean receives two purebred Labrador Retrievers from Admiral Hackett as part of a special request, raising them alongside his daughter.
  • Canon Immigrant: Characters and locations from Mass Effect: Infiltrator appear in the story, even after being declared noncanon.
    • The Barn, the primary setting for the game, is destroyed after the destruction of the second Cerberus SDD.
    • The Director appears as the main antagonist for two chapters, before seemingly dying after the destruction of the Barn. He reappears much later during the Reaper War, having rallied most of the remaining Cerberus forces under his banner.
    • Randall Ezno appears as a member of the Cerberus team sent to investigate Ferris Fields, surprising everyone with his biotics. He later shows up again at the Overlord facility, with orders to retrieve the project data and trigger the facility's nuclear failsafe. He discovers what Gavin Archer inflicted on his brother, David, and is allowed to leave in peace after handing over all the information he has on Cerberus and swearing off the organization. He later reappears with a team and ship of his own, agreeing to help fight the Director's Cerberus "remnants" alongside Sean's Third Fleet.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Upon receiving her new cybernetic body and showing it off to Sean and Dan, Lydia immediately begins asking Richard in front of them both why her artificial breasts are bigger than her original organic body's. Sean and Dan are both made notably uncomfortable by this, especially Dan, who is Lydia's older brother. Sean quickly moves to change the subject, while still throwing in a playful jab at Dan in the process.
    Sean Listen, as much as I'd like to talk to my best friend's sister about her tits all day, we've got more pressing issues at the moment.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: When Richard asks Sean how he has so much experience with combat tactics, he answers "Professional paintball. Mostly." much to Richard's horror.
    • Turns out Richard's "hobbies" include advanced cybernetics, prosthetics, and implants. As a medical genius in charge of a team of ex-Cerberus scientists working in the same field, this is to be expected.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The Plasma Gun burns through armor, synthetics, and ignores kinetic barriers, but it can't operate in a vacuum or on low-oxygen worlds. Also, ammo is easily exhaustible in long engagements compared to standard mass effect weaponry.
  • Cool Starship:
  • Creepy Souvenir: Kirva's necklace of teeth, which she carries around wherever she goes. She later reveals to Sean that, in addition to wildlife she's killed on Reach, it holds the teeth of all the pirates she killed in the Neymean Abyss. According to her, she made it in an exhausted and frenzied state, to "make sure they were really dead." Years later, she relinquishes the necklace to her husband, Lenlo, in a bid to move on from her past.
  • Culturally Religious: Sean was brought up in a traditional Catholic household. This becomes a point of contention for Sean over the course of the story, especially after the death of Jack. Even though he sees himself as an atheist, he begins readopting some of his old Catholic mannerisms, including using the Sign of the Cross and praying before meals. It gets to the point where he even questions if the "spiritual experience" he had with his mother and father during Richard's implant surgery was simple brain chemistry coping with trauma, or if they were actually spirits that had been sent to protect him.
    This comes to a head in the final battle, when he briefly "meets" his mother and father in a vision after his near-fatal shuttle crash. He quietly ponders the experience after the activation of the Crucible, but chooses to accept it regardless of its tangibility, having forgiven himself for not being there for either his mother or father's final years.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle between the Migrant Fleet and Cerberus above Reach quickly becomes this, with the Quarians doing the stomping. It's an absolute bloodbath.
    • The Battle of Imaneya becomes one as well, with Sean's forces suffering no casualties in-orbit against Cerberus, or on the ground against the huskified remains of their experiments.
    • Sean's deployment of the highly-destructive Ares Device results in this, vaporizing half of the Reaper fleet on their way to Reach in an instant, thinning their numbers enough to give them a fighting chance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: More like Cast Of Snark. Given the appropriate moment, everyone will snark and will do it with or without a big smile. This gradually lessens across the board as the stakes go up, especially during the Reaper War.
  • Deflector Shields: Sean and Sira finish Jack's experimental work on energy projection, producing an "energy shield" that can block any and all damage if the energy lost can be replaced.
  • Description Porn: The technical details of the various tech and science can get a little involved, though it is never dwelled on for too long.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Sean and Dan qualify as this, they don't want a repeat of the experience.
  • Distress Call:
    • Greg's team responded to one when he was still in the Alliance Marines. It was a trap laid out by batarian slavers, but he helped save the day.
    • The Alliance receive a genuine one from a small group of Cerberus scientists stranded on an ice world who wish to defect.
  • Doting Grandparent: Kira becomes one of these in her old age towards Elle even though they aren't related, with Elle even giving her the nickname "Auntie". She greets Elle warmly when they meet at the Century Test Facility, even giving her an electric coat to help her better deal with the planet's sub-zero temperatures.
    Elle: Were you always this motherly, Auntie?
    Kira: Heh, no. It took six kids, marriage, and retirement to soften my demeanor this much.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sean in the "alternate", bad future kills himself after Mara and several others are killed by the Reapers. This horrifies the "version" of Sean that Old Dan encounters, who is unable to fathom taking his own life.
    • Upon inspection, Sean discovers one of the Cerberus scientists on Imaneya took their own life after the husks they had been experimenting on broke containment. He mentally chides them before remembering what Old Dan had told him about his alternate self, taking it back moments later.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Sean locks himself in his quarters at Area 51 and does this after receiving news that his father died and that he can't leave to attend the funeral. When Dan comes to check on him, Sean manages to convince Dan, a non-drinker, to join in.
    • After the results of the failed Cerberus attack on CASTLE Base, Sean immediately goes to his office inside the facility and drinks a shot of frontier whiskey.
  • Due to the Dead: Once back home at Serenity Valley, Jack is given a proper funeral with everyone except Dan in attendance. He grieves privately in his own way.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the end,Sean finally gets his happy ending after a final battle in the Galactic Core, helping prevent the full Cerberus takeover of the Citadel and surviving a shuttle crash. Once the Crucible has fired, killing each and every Reaper in the galaxy, he goes on to do everything he promised he would, including having more kids and starting a company.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: CASTLE Base is one of these, with multiple levels and a hidden Prothean archive buried at the bottom.
    • UCNF HIGHCOM is also this, being the headquarters of the United Confederation military.
  • Electronic Eyes: Richard has one where his left eye used to be. It was given to him by the Geth after limping into the Perseus Veil with Powell after after a pirate attack.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Sean pulls this on a Cerberus mortician before stabbing him to death after learning he had been involved with dissecting children in the rebuilt Teltin Facility.
  • Family of Choice: The entire original group formed from the remains of Task Force Cerebellum eventually became this, having been forced together under the banner of the Migrant Fleet. They are later joined by Cerberus defectors, who prove themselves to be equals.
  • Fan of the Past: Sean and Dan technically become this due to how old their original lives are. Sean in particular makes reference to many games and shows that his compatriots barely understand.
  • Fantastic Racism: Admirals Zorah and Gerrel make it very clear that they do not care for Sean or his crew, but will continue supporting them as long as they keep providing the Migrant Fleet with new experimental technology. Iolin initially exhibits shades of this, though he ultimately proclaims the loyalties of he and his people are to the Confederation when he denies the Council's offer of an embassy on the Citadel.
    • As is usually the case, Cerberus is this. Most in the organization hate the fact that Sean and his team have devoted themselves to improving the lives of the Quarians (and later the Raloi and Geth), and have tried to capture and kill them on several occasions. This comes back to bite them in the ass later down the line, when Sean and his Marines manage to infiltrate Cronos Station, eventually killing The Illusive Man.
  • Fearless Infant: Elle is believed to be one, given her indifference towards the mask-wearing Quarians and outright excitement towards Powell and his Geth Shock Trooper platform.
  • Forgets to Eat: Richard regularly does this, despite his cybernetics requiring a nutrient-rich diet to function properly.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Though all members of the old Task Force exhibit shades of this, its most clearly seen with Richard, who not only devised a way to transform brain signals into digital code, but has successfully reverse-engineered and reproduced Geth tech, constructed cybernetics to improve the Quarian immune system, developed a brain implant that counteracts Reaper indoctrination, and managed to build a whole new body for Lydia.
  • Genius Bruiser: Out of everyone in Cerebellum, Dimitri fits this trope to a T, being a former Alliance marine who took part in the Battle of Torfan. Even twenty-four years after the Reaper War at sixty-four years old, he's still just as strong and boisterous as he was during the Skyllian Blitz.
  • Genius Ditz: While some members of the team exhibit shades of this, it can most clearly be seen with Sira, who has been observed staring at the sky for extended periods of time or talking about the weather on entirely different planets with no provocation. Richard is a close second, though most of his "quirkiness" stems from him being very lazy and withdrawn.
    • Given how old Sira is by Asari standards, this could just be an adolescent tick.
  • Genius Slob: Both Dan and Richard are this, if Sean's descriptions of their work and living spaces are to be believed. They do get better when they're forced to work with other people.
    Sean Well, let's just say that if Dan had done this while we were rooming in college, I would have killed him.
  • Girl Friday: Lydia acts as one in most situations, quietly regulating ship systems, keeping an eye on the crew, and voicing her opinions on current events from the confines of the ship's computer network.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The development and deployment of the Ares Device, a fusion bomb with a blast radius over 100,000 kilometers in diameter, is considered the point where Sean and his team officially cross the threshold. It terrified Sean and the rest of his team so much that he had all records of it's development destroyed once it was finished.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Even though Dan is a quiet, kind-hearted individual, he won't hesitate to openly lash out at you for even looking at him or his friends wrong. Sean also exhibits shades of this, though he is much better at controlling it.
  • Gratuitous Russian: Dimitri has shades of this, mostly in stressful situations.
    Dimitri: Сукин сын! глупые ублюдки!
  • Gunship Rescue: Invoked, and averted. Sean, Dimitri, and Greg attempt one of these in an experimental variant of the Cobra-class gunship when CASTLE Base comes under siege from Cerberus aircraft. It works for a few minutes before they're overwhelmed by enemy missile fire and end up crash landing.
  • Happily Married: Sean and Mara are this, even in the more strained moments of the story. Elle and her three younger siblings are perfect proof of that.
    • Dimitri and Kira, as well as Dixon and Morgan, both post-Reaper War.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The scientists that defect from Cerberus following the Human/Quarian coalition attack on Minuteman Station. They help revive Shepard and develop several other technologies.
    • Dixon, Tony, and Morgan from the Pragia facility are also this, though as lower-level members of Cerberus, they weren't privy to what was really going on, and were considered disposable by the facility's project leads.
    • Captain Kira Hayms and her crew also turn on Cerberus after discovering the truth about what they had been doing to Alliance colonies in the Terminus, among other incriminating details.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dan undergoes three of these. the first occurs after he fatally stabs a turian mugger to death on the Citadel, and the second happens when he returns from The Barn after Jack's death at the hands of Cerberus. The third occurs after the loss of his left leg, leaving him crippled until later in the story. All three are complete with a Thousand-Yard Stare.
  • Holographic Terminal: A given, seeing as this is Mass Effect. However, in a bit of a subversion, Sean lampshades how bad this design philosophy can be when overused, especially if the power were to go out.
  • Home Sweet Home: It doesn't take long for Sean and his friends to build houses for themselves on Reach, making it their new home after joining the Migrant Fleet. No matter what happens to them, they always return to their quiet homestead in Serenity Valley.
  • Honorary True Companion: Many former members of Cerberus end up becoming these to Sean and his team.
    • The Cerberus defectors from Minuteman Station prove instrumental to reviving Commander Shepard and developing several new technologies, both mechanical and biological.
    • Dixon and his friends waste no time proving their value to Sean, eventually becoming members of his CIC crew aboard the UCV Saint Luke. Dixon in particular, considering his position as XO.
    • Kira Hayms proves vital to ending the Cerberus threat, using her ship to get Sean and his Marines close enough to Cronos Station to board it. She later joins his Third Fleet, helping defend Reach during the war.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Cerberus is the flip-side to Sean's idealism and altruistic attitude. When the veil has been lifted, they make no effort to hide that they are complete bastards that disregard everyone, even their own people, in the name of getting more power.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Dragoon mechs are this to a tee. They have all the weapons and armor needed to tear through most opposition.
  • Improvised Microgravity Maneuvering: Sean and everyone else end up reversing the polarity of their magnetic boots to give them a push towards the Blue Suns ship docked to the Geth derelict.
    • Sean later does this in a crippled mech, using its cannons to arrest his momentum in zero-g.
  • Inner Monologue: Given the story takes place entirely from Sean's perspective, this is a frequent occurrence, especially when he's thinking about the technology he develops and the decisions he has to make. In the story's epilogue, the same applies to Sean's first daughter, Elle, as she becomes the POV character twenty-four years after the Reaper War.
  • Instant Mass: Just Add Water!: Most of the foodstuffs Sean and his team are able to get their hands on are dehydrated colonial food packs, similar to military rations but tasting much better. They require an appliance that rehydrates them before they can be consumed.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The Spatial Distortion Device was designed as one, though its results are not looking to be repeated by Sean and Dan.
    Sean: My vision was blurred, everything hurt so much that I couldn't focus on any single thing around me. I tried to get up, but my legs felt like jelly.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Sean experiences this at the very end of the story after crashing into the Citadel, where he is "told" by his Mother and Father that he cannot stay with them, being told that there are others "waiting" for him. He doesn't know if he had a spiritual experience or if it was all in his head, but he wakes up in the wreckage of his shuttle regardless.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The entire purpose behind the story's epilogue, with Elle interviewing current and former members of Sean's team and crew for a book she's writing about the Reaper War.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Deconstructed. During the the attack on the Idenna, the 1911A1 Colt 45. Sean got for his birthday does hit hard, but only when the enemy's kinetic barriers are down. Even then, he has to aim for the weak spots in their helmets to land killing blows, and it takes a whole magazine to take down Golo. If anything, it demonstrates why mass effect weaponry is the standard for the galactic community.
  • Klatchian Coffee: At one point, Dan recalls a time in college when Sean brewed and drank Chifir as part of an "awareness experiment", only to stay up for nearly two days while blasting the Quake II soundtrack the entire time.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Sean and Dan, initially appearing to be unintimidating, unassuming scientists in the beginning of the story, prove themselves to be quite good in a fight when threatened by two Turian muggers on the Citadel. It doesn't end well for one of the Turians. They handwave their abilities to a skeptical Richard later in the story, mentioning they dabbled in actual guns and professional paintball before becoming scientists.
  • Logic Bomb: Lampshaded, and averted. Dan tries this on Powell during their first meeting on Aldrin Station as a test, only to have him laugh and repeat a different paradox back at him.
    Powell: Heh, it'll take more than the Liar's paradox to confuse me, doctor. After all, I know that I know nothing at all.
  • MacGuffin: The Spatial Distortion Device acts as this, sending Sean and Dan into the future and eventually becoming a device of interest to Cerberus.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Sean takes pre-existing mass accelerator technology and turns it up a notch with the Orbital Defense Platforms. The resulting weapon is so dangerous that it can potentially kill a planet with one direct shot, and can easily wipe the floor with the Reapers during the Battle of Reach.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Happens with Sean multiple times. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.
    • He keeps fighting with a previously-sustained injury to get him and his team off the Cerberus space station in Chapter 8, even as his hardsuit warns him of the internal damage he's causing. He later loses consciousness.
    • When jumping to the Blue Suns ship in Chapter 16, he breaks several toes on both feet in the landing but manages to keep going despite the pain.
    • After fighting Golo aboard the Idenna in Chapter 21, he blindly dismisses medical treatment for a shoulder wound until the Cerberus boarders have been repelled. He ends up passing out from blood loss.
    • In the final battle of the Reaper War, Sean crashes his C-SEC Kodiak shuttle into the Citadel after losing one of his engines, but manages to walk away from the crash and fight off several husks despite being concussed and bloodied by the impact.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The SSV Explorer was christened as such due to its ability to travel to systems unreachable by Mass Relay.
    • All the smaller crafts designed by Sean and his team are named after snakes.
  • Mentor Archetype: Sean saw his grandfather as one, especially since he used to be a science teacher.
  • Messy Hair: One of Richard's defining physical traits. He has perpetual bed head, and never bothers to fix it. Dan later gets this after losing his leg in the defense of Fehl Prime.
  • Mighty Lumberjack: Dimitri exhibits shades of this, but eventually plays it straight when it's revealed he hand-carved most of the furniture used in his colony prefab, sourcing it locally from the "Polock" trees native to Reach. He even cut special wood paneling for Sean's office in CASTLE Base.
  • Mildly Military: Dixon, Tony, and Morgan display shades of this in the beginning, but slowly grow out of it as their roles become more pronounced during the Reaper War. Reegar's ORION team plays this straight when he and his team are off-duty, but immediately flip to their professional personas when they're deployed on missions.
  • Mind Screw: Any time Sean has a particularly vivid dream, or when suffering from the effects of indoctrination. Later, he experiences a much milder version when communicating with the Rachni and their Asari emissary, Jallere.
  • Money for Nothing: Even though they do eventually start getting paid by the Alliance again, Sean and the others can't really use it since they spend all their time with the quarians, who have a trade-based economy instead of one based on money.
    • This becomes a moot point in the epilogue, where Sean, Mara, and the rest of the team have become filthy rich in the twenty-four years since the Reaper War, having created their own company and patented their best technology, mainly the Gravity Drive and NM Reactor. According to Elle, they became millionaires "seemingly overnight".
  • Mundane Luxury: Sean considers Eight O'Clock Original a vital consumable.
  • Must Have Caffeine: As stated above, Sean considers any caffeinated beverage vital to maintaining his mood. While most of the time this comes in the form of coffee, soda is also something he'll drink when it is available to him.
  • Naming Your Colony World: Given how much of a sci-fi nerd Sean is, it was inevitable he'd name a planet after something from the genre.
    Sean: I'll call her Reach.
    • Most of the systems (and the planets in them) visited by Sean and the crew of the MFV Discovery during their survey mission are named in ways that reference various pieces of sci-fi. Check Shout Outs.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Sean and Dan resolve to destroy the Spatial Distortion Device they've helped build for Cerberus and all their project notes, despite how badly they want to see the device operational again. This doesn't really apply to Old Dan, however.
  • No Social Skills: Dan had great difficulty talking to people before meeting Sean. Years later, he still interacts with very few people by himself, and when he does express himself openly, he's usually either angry, very annoyed, or genuinely freaked out.
  • Noodle Incident: Lydia mentions Sean used to have a thing for "robot ladies" back in the day before Sean quickly changes the subject. The subject is never brought up again.
  • Number Two: Dixon is this aboard the UCV Saint Luke, being in charge of most day-to-day operations or taking command when Sean is on the ground leading a mission.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Rael and Gerrel on the Migrant Fleet's Admiralty Board act as this, giving Sean and his team a quite a hard time early on in the story. When Rael dies in his lab after experimenting on the Geth, Gerrel ramps up the intensity of this to the point that it eventually leads to the Quarian Schism.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: While lampshaded early on in the story, its ultimately averted with everyone on the team. Sean and Dan in particular are talented engineers and mathematicians, but are next to clueless when it comes to almost anything else, especially medical matters. Luckily, the other members of the team more than make up for their lack of medical knowledge, balancing everything out.
    • Richard is the closest any of the team come to this trope. In addition to his primary fields, neuroscience and A.I. engineering, he is also fully qualified as a general medical practitioner and has used his later-gained knowledge of the Geth and their mobile platforms to develop both cybernetics and biomechanical prosthetics.
  • Opposites Attract: Sean and Mara's relationship in a nutshell.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Played with. Being a self-proclaimed Atheist, Sean thought he was above Catholicism in the beginning of the story. As it goes on, however, his upbringing and later experiences start to make him doubt his initial views.
  • Plasma Cannon: The Ionized Plasma Projector developed by Sean and Mara, better known as the Plasma Gun acts as a portable BFG for anyone using it, even if it does suffer from limitations. Starts off as a backpack-mounted weapon similar to the Gluon Gun, but later evolves into what he always intended it to be.
    • Later, vehicles are given enlarged versions of the gun for atmospheric combat.
  • Precious Photo: Sean has several of these, either from before or after the accident. He carries copies of them anywhere he goes.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Raloi are shades of this, even though most of their population consisted of poor, poverty-stricken farmers restricted to a House-based caste system before First Contact with Sean and his crew. They eventually begin to fit this mold much better post-war, having vastly expanded their presence in space and grown socially.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Sean enters one on his own construction in his unconscious mind, especially when suffering from the early effects of Reaper indoctrination. In it, he is tormented by his past mistakes and regrets, and the Reaper "influence" in his mind takes the form of dead members of Cerberus, specifically those who's deaths he was personally responsible for. Crosses over into mind rape when they actively try to kill Sean during an operation to counteract said indoctrination with an experimental implant.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Sean has experienced two of these so far. He expresses deep regret every time he loses control of himself (though one can hardly blame him given both circumstances.)
    • He employs waterboarding during his interrogation of Lynda Embry as revenge for all the people she got killed aboard Aldrin Station earlier in the story.
    • After discovering the morgue and the body of a dissected child in the Teltin facility on Pragia, he loses his temper and stabs the Cerberus mortician who was hiding in the room to death in a blind fury. This was AFTER beating the man within an inch of his life.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Hackett acts as one, creating the coalition between the Alliance and Migrant Fleet and being one of the few members of Alliance High Command to take the Reaper threat seriously.
    • Sean later becomes one himself, accepting a sudden promotion to Admiral during the Quarian Schism and later retaining that rank as a wartime leader in the United Confederation.
  • Red Baron: Following the Reaper War, Dixon, now a Captain, gets the nickname "Hunter" following the Pegasus Offensive. People began using the nickname to describe him due to how efficient and brutal he was at eliminating pirate ships during the Offensive. This gave him a somewhat infamous reputation, and resulted in him taking an early retirement when the UCNF tried to promote him.
  • Robot Girl: Lydia receives a whole new BODY as a result of Richard and Powell's research, allowing her to finally be free of her card reader and function independently from computer systems. While based on the Geth mobile platforms, her body is of a unique design with numerous upgrades and advancements, effectively making her a new, unique form of life.
  • Ruling Couple: This technically applies to Sean and Mara, given how they carry themselves. It only really kicks in post-war, when they create their company on Reach. Though other members of the team are heavily involved in R&D, Sean and Mara appear to handle more of the administrative side of the company.
  • Scenery Porn: Serenity Valley must be quite the sight based on how many times Sean stops to stare at it.
  • Science Hero: Though he would never admit to being such, Sean has slowly become this over the course of the story. The advancements of him and his team have shifted the balance of power in the Milky Way Galaxy, and he's never shied away from getting his hands dirty, fighting alongside those he could simply command from afar.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: A very widespread example. The Quarian Schism between the pro-war and anti-war Admirals leads to a sudden mass exodus of ships from the Klenot System, with the anti-war Admirals and over 1/3rd of the Migrant Fleet leaving to seek peace with the Geth.
  • Send in the Search Team: Sean, Dan, and Dimitri are sent into a seemingly derelict Geth cruiser along with a team of Migrant Fleet marines to investigate its status. It doesn't take long for the mission to go south.
  • Shout-Out: And a lot of them.
    • Sean admits most of the Plasma Gun's final design is a near-copy of the one from Doom³.
      • Before the final design, it looked more like the Gluon Gun.
    • Sean decides to call the reverse-engineered Cerberus weapons used to attack the Saint Luke Pulse Rifles due to how similar the fired rounds are compared to the OSIPR's.
    • The exos developed by the team are eventually upgraded into fully-armored suits reminiscent of Fallout 4.
    • The name chosen for the crew's new home on Reach? Serenity Valley.
    • A lot related to the Halo franchise.
      • Reach is named after the titular planet.
      • The Orbital Defense Platforms are designed in form and concept off the Cairo from Halo 2. The first one constructed even gets the same name!
      • CASTLE Base is named after a similar facility from Halo: The Fall of Reach.
    • The Dragoons are based off the Archer platform from BattleTech, and can even perform an Alpha Strike.
    • The Phantom-class frigate was designed by Sean and Dan using several design elements from the P-1112 Aigaion.
    • The Viper-Class Interceptor's design is based on the Swordfish II.
    • The first suit of armor Sean designs for himself takes elements from the Protect-Gears.
    • Dan doesn't even try to hide the fact that the Caprica-class and Dradis-class ships he "designed" are almost exact copies of the Jupiter-class Mk.1 and Adamant-class ships from Battlestar Galactica Deadlock.
    • The Galleon-class that Dan designs is based heavily on the USAC Lewis And Clark from Event Horizon.
  • Space Clouds: Sean and his crew hide from Cerberus ships inside a nebula when they realize they're outgunned.
  • Space Nomads: Given the majority of the story is spent with the Quarians, Sean and his crew become this. This changes later on, when the Quarians claim the Klenot System for themselves, eventually colonizing Reach.
  • Space Station: Several.
    • Aldrin Station, built in the dark side of Mercury, is where Task Force Cerebellum is based until it is destroyed by Cerberus.
    • The Orbital Defense Platforms hover in geosynchronous orbit above Reach, and have dedicated crews manning them at all times.
  • Speech Impediment: Dan has a really bad one influenced by his Asperger's Syndrome that causes him to repeat words or fail to say them entirely, though this doesn't usually prevent him from being understood. It goes away when he's under immediate situational stress, and went away permanently for Old Dan after the death of Sean in his original timeline.
  • Stealth in Space: The Phantom-class frigate is designed with the heat-storing properties of the old Normandy, an enveloping cloaking device that hides it visually, AND a black paint job that matches that background of space.
  • Stress Vomit: One of the side effects of inter-dimensional travel, if Sean and Dan are any example.
  • Tempting Fate: The Illusive Man believes he is too valuable to be killed, thinking Sean won't shoot him. He's wrong.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Despite successfully breaking out of Cerberus imprisonment in the Barn with everyone else, Jack is fatally shot in the back during the escape and dies moments later, leaving a hole in the team that can be felt for the rest of the story.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: One has to wonder how many times Sean will have to end up in dangerous situations before he's either ordered to stay on his ship or in the safety of his home on Reach.
  • The Team: Sean and his friends make a very good one, using their skills in their respective fields to advance themselves and those around them. Without each other, they'd never be able to pull off half of what they've accomplished.
  • The Tease: Sean and Mara are often flirt outrageously with one another, though Mara is usually the first to go for more physical forms of teasing.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Sean discovers, much to his horror, Cerberus won't hesitate to do this to human children in the name of biotics research.
  • Translator Microbes: After arriving on the Citadel, a Turian C-Sec officer gives Sean and Dan earpieces that automatically translate alien languages for them. Omni-tools also have the technology built into them.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Lynda turns out to be one, and ends up getting everyone but the project leads killed when Cerberus agents raid Aldrin Station using her access codes.
  • Tricked-Out Gloves: A standard part of the Dragoon's control scheme. When activated, they allow the operator to manually control the Dragoon's hands and arms. Though intended for mundane purposes (getting back up if the mech is knocked over) they can also be used to punch, squeeze, or crush whatever the operator wants.
  • True Companions: The original Task Force Cerebellum team (Sean, Dan, Dimitri, Mara, Richard, Jack, and Sira) are this, even if there is (or used to be) some tension between several of them. Throughout everything, even Jack's murder at the hands of Cerberus, they've remained together and supported one another for years after the destruction of Aldrin Station, even long after the Reaper War has ended.
    • The original Quarian crew of the MFV Explorer eventually become this too, having survived their fair share of fights alongside their Captain and his team.
    • All three groups of Cerberus defectors, Sterling's, Dixon's, and Kira's are this by default, even becoming good friends, colleagues, and even lovers with many of Cerebellum over time, with the exception of Miranda, who instead ops to join Shepard's crew after his revival.
  • Water Torture: After reaching his first breaking point in the story, Sean employs this on Lynda before Cerberus activates a kill-switch implanted inside her.
  • Unusual User Interface: Most control interfaces designed by Sean and Dan tend to be this due to their preference for physical, non-holographic controls. The Dragoon mech is the most prevalent example of this, as are their designs for fighter cockpits and ship bridges. Doubles as a form of genre savviness, as Sean openly deconstructs the overuse and unreliable nature of holographic interfaces in several of his inner monologues throughout the story.
  • Used Future: Considering the majority of the story takes place in the confines of the Migrant Fleet, this is the norm until the Quarians begin building their own ships and retrofitting their old ones.
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