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Fanfic / Mass Effect: Murphy's Law

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"Heh, удачи. That's "good luck" in Russian."

Mass Effect: Murphy's Law is an ongoing science-centered Mass Effect fanfic written by author TacoWrath on 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 BattleTech, 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.


Sporadic updates, over fifty chapters long, each between 4500 to 5000 words in length, it's a good few hours of reading if you want to dive directly into it. 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Just try threatening Dan or any of his friends.
    • Hurt his friends (or god forbid you lay a finger on a child), and Sean will ensure your remaining time in the mortal coil is very short.
  • 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.
  • 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 disappearing after the destruction of the Barn.
    • 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.
  • 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 cybernetic prosthesis and implants.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: More like Cast Of Snark. Given the appropriate moment, everyone will snark and will do it with or without a big smile.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: CASTLE Base is one of these, with multiple levels and a hidden Prothean archive buried at the bottom.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 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.
  • 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, and managed to build a whole new body for Lydia.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    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 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.
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The scientists that defect from Cerberus following the human/quarian coalition attack on Minuteman Station.
    • 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. She proves vital to ending the Cerberus threat, using her ship to get Sean and his marines close enough to Cronos Station to board it.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Cerberus is the flip-side to Sean's idealism and altruistic attitudes. When the veil has been lifted, they make no effort to hide that they are complete bastards that disregard everyone, even their own people.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Dragoon mechs are this to a tee. They have all the weapons and armor needed to tear through most opposition.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The Spacial 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.
  • 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.
  • Knife Nut: Dan is one of these, keeping at least two razor-sharp knives on him at all times in addition to his private collection.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The normally stoic Dan does this when he and Sean are threatened by two turian muggers on the Citadel. It doesn't end well for the turians.
  • 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. This establishes how advanced Richard's AI development is.
    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 Spacial 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 to Eleven with the Orbital Defense Platforms. The resulting weapon is so dangerous that it can potentially kill a planet with one direct shot.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Happens with Sean multiple times.
    • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 trees native to Reach. He's even cut special wood paneling for Sean's office in CASTLE Base.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • No Social Skills: Dan had great difficulty talking to people before meeting Sean.
  • Noodle Incident: Lydia mentions Sean used to have a thing for "robot ladies" back in the day before Sean quickly changes the subject.
  • 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 anything related to medical science. Luckily, the other members of the team more than make up for their lack of medical knowledge, balancing everything out.
  • 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.
  • 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 and Sean having blood spat on his face.
  • Raised Catholic: 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.
    Sean: Even as an atheist, I couldn't deny my upbringing. I was raised Catholic, and in many ways I always would be Catholic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Doom 3.
      • 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 Dan using several design elements from the P-1112 Aigaion.
    • The Viper-Class Interceptor's design is based on the Swordfish II.
    • The 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.
  • Space Clouds: Sean and his crew hide from Cerberus ships inside a nebula when they realize they're outgunned.
  • 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 ordered to stay 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.
  • 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 unethical 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Water Torture: After reaching his first RageBreakingPoint in the story, Sean employs this on Lynda before Cerberus activates a kill-switch implanted inside her.

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