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Fanfic / The Miracle at Palaven

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“What was that all about?”
“I think [Hierarchy Defense Intelligence] wants to blow up a Reaper from the inside.”
— Turian Resistance members, on Palaven.

Do you believe in miracles?

The Miracle at Palaven, writen by Sudentor, is a Mass Effect fanfic that expands upon one of the Codex Entries: The Miracle at Palaven, the first successful counterattack by turian and krogan forces.

Written in the format of an in-universe military history textbook, it greatly expands upon the short Codex entry. This is a story of the courage, determination and sacrifice required to make a Miracle happen.


Complete as of April 2013, and the full story and discussion can be found here on Spacebattles. It is also hosted on and Archive of Our Own.

Audiobook version here.

Tropes contained within this Miracle include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The Codex entry is 3 paragraphs long. The completed fanfic is much longer, at just below seventy-six thousand words.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's to be expected, given the nature of the work. Nobody is safe, not even Ronald Speirs.
    • The carrier Example, whose crew have been one of the focal viewpoints, is finally destroyed during the Miracle.
    • Commander Ravakian, one of of the Blackwatch viewpoint characters, survives the Miracle, but dies two days before the war ends.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Among the things the Reapers confiscate from turians in concentration camps are rifles, explosives, communications gear, heavy weapons, and... spine treatment gel. There was a betting pool on the outlandish possibilities of what the Reapers would and wouldn't confiscate when testing the feasibility of smuggling the warp bombs in, and one turian actually bet on the spine treatment gel.
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  • Babies Ever After: Invoked by many of the krogan who survived the Miracle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Miracle succeeds, but at a heavy price, and many survivors still carry unhealed wounds, both physical, mental and emotional.
  • Boxed Crook: Miridi Kylonis, a smuggler imprisoned after being caught and tried, is brought in for consulting on how to smuggle disassembled warp bombs into the processing camps underneath the Reapers targeted for SLENDER SCALPEL. Ironically, she later becomes a high-ranking C-SEC officer in the Customs division after the war, and overhauls the division to become much more effective against smuggling.
  • Brick Joke: Early in Chapter 12, one wounded turian soldier evacuated by the Bosh'tet Express jokes to her buddy that she'll be lounging on a beach on Rannoch with a fruit drink and cute quarian girls fawning all over her. In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, said turian ends up marrying a quarian wife, and gets interviewed in-universe at her beach villa, where she serves fruit drinks as refreshments.
    • Kind of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment given that the buddy she bragged to committed suicide after losing most of his friends and all of his family, mere months after they reunited.
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  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Captain Ixius may have miraculously survived crashing the carrier Example into a Reaper, but she's wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.
  • Call to Agriculture: One krogan commando leader retires to become a farmer after the Reaper War ends.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. A krogan commando misses a direct hit from a Thanix Cannon, but is still close enough that his armor and hump are burned off.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The proposals for FORWARD FLAME and SLENDER SCALPEL are considered to be this by turian High Command. At this point, with all other saner and more conventional plans failing, they were desperate for anything that might work.
    "Only a military executive body that had been humiliated for weeks; that had tried every conventional, orthodox, and reasonable method available to them; that discovered the very existence of their civilization on the brink of collapse; that had found itself in the final straits of desperation; would pay any heed to an outlandish, costly, and questionable strategy being offered by a mercenary with no experience in planet-scale, joint-services operations."
  • Complexity Addiction: It's an accusation leveled towards Admiral Coronati, who prefers complex plans. This culminates in WHISKEY CORRIDOR, which required split-second timing and coordination by turian ships against Reapers. It didn't end well.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The Battle Of Palaven itself, but the Miracle was the highlight.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: One turian soldier, a former hastatim (soldiers specially trained to do room-by-room clearing of insurgents), announces herself and orders occupants of the buildings to come out quietly and surrender, before beginning room clearing. Against Cannibals and Marauders. She's chagrined at the old habit.
    • Another tried to help brace a 1-ton krogan in full battle armor when he was using what was erroneously dubbed by them a "nuclear shotgun". She realises that any gun that kicks hard enough to knock a krogan on his back probably won't be mitigated by a single turian.
  • Diving Save: A krogan commando does this to get a turian soldier out of the area of effect of a Thanix cannon blast.
    • A short turian infiltrator also does this on a krogan to prevent him from being spotted by the enemy. She doesn't succeed until she desperately latches onto his tail.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: The turian soldier saved from a Thanix cannon blast becomes this after the war. Ironically, one of his cadets is the krogan commando who saved his life, who had chewed him out ealier.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. The fic goes into great detail on the logistics issues that arise when the galaxy's largest army is fighting, from shortages of medical supplies to shuttles to thermal clips.
    • The Reapers' ability to ignore logistical issues is what makes them so difficult to combat, as Reapers don't need as much logistics support as a conventional military force.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Discussed in-universe; the general public only remembers the turian special forces, krogan commandos, and resistance, and are unaware of the roles played by the Navy and the Bosh'tet Express, and support staff.
    • In a meta sense, the fanfic itself is dedicated "for all the unsung heroes, fighting battles with wrenches, prayer, and medigel".
  • Fire-Forged Friends: A big part of the story. The turians and the krogan are ambivalent towards each other at best and very hostile at worst when they first get together. By the time bullets start flying, they've managed to become Back-to-Back Badasses. Similarly, the quarians go from dirty vagrants to "the most glorious bosh'tets in the galaxy" in the eyes of the turians.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As with Band of Brothers or Black Hawk Down, anyone mentioned by name as having being interviewed in person (e.g. Optimi, Trinity) is going to survive the Miracle.
    • As soon as Kal'Reegar's name is seen, the readers know what is going to happen to him. That doesn't make it any less painful, however. Or awesome.
  • Framing Device, Fictional Document: The work is presented as two chapters of a turian text entitled "Of Steel and Talons: The Battle of Palaven".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Often, epitomized by Kal'Reegar's Last Stand.
    • Captain Ixius of the carrier Example orders her bridge crew into escape pods, and gets as many of her crew off before she drives her dying ship into a Reaper. Subverted, however, in that she manages to make a last-second evacuation, as revealed in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
    • And of course most importantly, the suicide bombers who got those warp bombs into the Reapers as part of SLENDER SCALPEL, the lynchpin of the entire Miracle.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Played with. The battle on the ground is compared to human war movies, undoubtedly a jab at this trope. However, it is pointed out that the Hierarchy is fighting an enemy with a completely alien doctrine, with very few air or fire support options or even available armor, and the footsoldiers are caught in narrow urban environments. Most soldiers express discomfort at being forced to fight outside traditional and proven military tactics.
  • In-Series Nickname: The turians quickly give up trying to convince the krogan that the Whitelight heavy ordnance is not a "nuclear shotgun."
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The method used by the Turian resistance to infiltrate Reaper ships during Operation Slender Scalpel.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are many characters in the story, though this is compensated for by the heavy casualties suffered during the Miracle.
  • Military Maverick: Demetrius Risithi, a Blue Suns mercenary chosen by Primarch Adrien Victus as a special consultant, who planned FORWARD FLAME and SLENDER SCALPEL, and told the krogan commandos the true purpose of SLENDER SCALPEL, despite being ordered to keep them in the dark. It doesn't end well for him; turians do not like mavericks.
  • More Dakka: The battle to retake Palaven basically starts this way. Because you can't have a battle with turians, krogan, and Reapers any other way.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Medevacs are generally not what people associate with awesome in war stories. Unless said medevacs involve an entire fleet showing up to evacuate the wounded of another civilization. On a planet and its two moons. With ten thousand ships evacuating 15 million wounded. Most of the ships making an average of five runs. In twenty-eight hours. In a warzone with hundreds of turian and Reapers ships.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Despite being ordered to keep the true objective of SLENDER SCALPEL from the krogan commandos, Demetrius Risithi tells them anyways to make sure the krogan know the stakes. He ends up being arrested, court-martialed, and found guilty, and although he was acquitted in the end, he never receives formal recognition of his major role in the Miracle at Palaven until years after he died.
  • Noodle Incident: A turian fireteam runs into an asari Justicar on Palaven. They have no idea what on Palaven she's there for, but are just happy she's around.
  • Operation: [Blank]: There are several operations referred to in the document: earlier, there is the Fifteen Minute Plan, OPERATION: IRON HAMMER, and OPERATION: WHISKEY CORRIDOR, an ambitious and failed Navy plan to secure logistics lines to the Trebia mass relay. There's also OPERATION: PHANTOM SNOW and OPERATION: STARDUST SONATA, two alternative operations that were rejected in favor of WHISKEY CORRIDOR. The fic itself focuses on two major missions: OPERATION: FORWARD FLAME, the orbital drop of turian and krogan forces onto Palaven, and OPERATION: SLENDER SCALPEL, the plan to destroy Reapers from the inside with warp bombs and then hit them with everything the turians have.
  • Precision F-Strike: By virtue of being soldiers, everyone swears all the time. A particularly empathetic one, however, comes from Siritii, a softspoken lieutenant, upon realizing that he's the surviving ranking officer of his legion.
  • Ramming Always Works: It does when the Reaper ship is blinded and has its shields down, and it's taking a 3700 kiloton starship dropping in from orbit to the face.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Turns out Captain Ixius survived her Taking You with Me moment.
  • Rousing Speech: The crew of the Example eagerly await one from Captain Ixius as FORWARD FLAME launches. She declines, due to a dislike for public speaking, to their great disappointment.
    • She finally ends up giving one years later when a newly-constructed carrier is to be christened Example in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, although she tried to offload that duty onto her old XO, Castellus (who talked her back into it).
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: A large number of Miracle survivors end up like this.
  • Shooting Gallery: After the mass destruction of so many capital-sized Reapers corrupted their normally ironclad command and control network due to the success of SLENDER SCALPEL, the resulting confusion amongst Reaper forces made the follow-up by all ground forces get compared to one. Even surviving full-size Reapers were vulnerable.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The Whitelight heavy experimental ordnance (the aforementioned erroneously labeled "Nuclear Shotgun") that one turian/krogan group discovers. The trigger is pulled, things inside it start spinning, a pathetic discharge report happens, the turians and krogans perplexedly try to figure out what went wrong (not being familiar with its operation since it didn't come with a manual)... and then half the Reaper Destroyer it was shot at is suddenly and spectacularly annihilated a few moments later.
  • Shout-Out: A number throughout the series:
    • The fic begins with a discussion of OPERATION: WHISKEY CORRIDOR, which is an ambitious plan that's essentially Operation Market Garden IN SPACE!.
    • A turian soldier gets his mandibles torn off, leading him to be called Half-Jaw.
    • The Go-code for FORWARD FLAME is "Ayreen", pronounced as "Irene."
    • Apparently, hastatim squads are nicknamed as the "Burial Agency."
    • After the Reaper War, one krogan soldier settles down and becomes a farmer. His memoir, Harvest Tuchanka, is later turned into a videogame.
    • "Do you believe in miracles?", which the author used OOC for the update of the actual miracle on the forums, and which readers have taken as a motto, was taken from Al Michaels during the American-Soviet ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics.
  • Steel Eardrums: Averted; a number of soldiers go temporarily deaf as a result of firing their weapons nearly nonstop.
  • Taking You with Me: Several mortally wounded soldiers use grenades on themselves and Reapers, including Kal'Reegar and Scrodius.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the conclusion of SLENDER SCALPEL: to allow their allies time to setup a warp bomb within a Reaper itself, several turian soldiers detonate another warp bomb just outside (for redundancy contingencies, multiple bomber teams attack each Reaper), obliterating themselves and the surrounding Reaper ground forces (though doing no damage to the well-shielded Reaper).
    • Captain Ixius tops them all; when the carrier Example is crippled, she gets as many of her crew off as she can, and then points her dying ship at a Reaper stunned by the network corruption and rams into it at flank speed, dying in the process. Or not.
    • And of course, this is what the teams carrying warp bombs do.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: A krogan officer deals with a disciplinary problem and all potential future disciplinary problems by spacing an egregious offender and having cameras track the offender once out the hatch.
  • We Have Reserves: Discussed. At the start of the story, it's mentioned that the turians were previously able to make good their losses with little effort, thanks to having millions of reservists. However, by the time WHISKEY CORRIDOR concludes, we learn that the Navy won't be getting reinforcements anytime soon. Captain Ixius figures it's either because High Command has lost faith in the Navy... or because the turians are running out of reserves. Or worse, both.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the style of Band of Brothers, The Miracle at Palaven closes with one, showing the fates of the survivors.
  • You Are Too Late: The Reapers fall victim to this trope. By the time they figured out that these incidents of uprisings inside the processing camps were not isolated but coordinated, their effort to seal off any new on-loading into themselves was too late: the bombers were in position and there were seconds left until detonation...