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Fanfic / Vigil (Peptuck)
aka: Vigil

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Vigil is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover/Fusion Fic by Peptuck built around the Mass Effect franchise coupled with the continuity of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, as well as significant elements of other settings such as Eclipse Phase, FEAR, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, and Destiny.

Humanity survived the war with the Ethereals and spread into the stars, with the XCOM organization spearheading human advancement. Along the way, the alien technology has altered humans and their perception of the self, resulting in a society where functional immortality exists via brain-uploading and body swapping, and mechanical and genetic augmentation is commonplace. As they reach out into the stars, the human race discovers an ancient alien artifact left behind by a species known as the "Protheans" — a mass relay that allows transition among the stars. But in exploring the galaxy, they suddenly find themselves under attack by a strange species of artificial intelligences that call themselves the "geth". Things steadily get more and more complicated from there: the geth's actions reveal an even more terrifying threat in the form of the Ethereals, who prove to be far more of a threat than mankind ever imagined, and this is before the human race encounters the larger galactic society known as the Citadel.

Skip ahead eighty years. By 2183, humanity has allied with both the Citadel Council and the Geth Consensus to prepare to fight their mutual enemy. An international incident between two rival human powers threatens to spark a war, and XCOM is sending in one of their best agents to investigate the cause: Major Adam Shepard, a Sentinel special agent who is part of the XCOM Psionic Corps. He and his mismatched team of Scottish commandos, Uplifted Animals, and one of the most powerful psychics ever recorded, are sent down to the aquatic colony world of Proteus to investigate a destroyed psychic lab, violent cannibalistic cyborgs, and a dangerous conspiracy involving illicit technology and corporate experimentation. Things get complicated.

Later on, the story shifts its perspective to a turian Exo by the name of Cayde-6, captain of a run-down old warship known as the Paxterae, and its distinctly odd crew of psychic humans, neo-quarian gunslingers, krogan medics, and disturbingly-cheerful geth, who are running down rumors of a fabled alien sanctuary. There's also a news report serial known as "Corpus Daily News" that the author (tries) to publish weekly on the Spacebattles story thread, detailing notable happenings across the galaxy.

Unfortunately, because of real life issues and problems with how the story progressed, the author put it on hiatus while he rewrites the entire thing, posting rewritten chapters on Spacebattles.

Notable for aggressively breaking from the canon storylines it draws from and creating a very unique setting blending concepts of Transhumanism, exploration, politics, conspiracy, and war. The author deliberately creates a relatively positive setting, despite the fact that several of its source materials are based in horror genres. The author also has said that he wishes to reintegrate elements of his aborted Mass Effect/FEAR crossover Harbinger into the story. And he did — Shepard's rampage from the first chapter of the latter fanfic has been integrated into the story. Spacebattles discussion and story thread here, and here.

Not to be confused with the webcomic.

Examples of tropes in this fanfic:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Inverted with Alma Wade, who has a relatively angst-free backstory thanks to getting taken in by the Psi-Corps before falling victim to the horrific experimentation that turned her into a Humanoid Abomination.
  • After the End: The current geth experienced this, and are the descendants of the few survivors.
  • Alien Autopsy: Professor Zakharov (or rather, one of his forks) runs one of these on the "dead" geth platforms recovered during the space battle on the Caldera system. He eventually finds a geth so intact that he's able to analyze their processors, which leads to the discovery that Sectopods were based on the geth.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The geth provide one regarding the destruction of the quarians.
  • Apocalypse How: Type 3a: the extinction of the quarian species at the hands of the Ethereals.
  • Attack Drone: XCOM uses these extensively. They include ODIN drones (repurposed Cyberdiscs), HULU drones (repurposed Seekers), FENRIR drones (wolf-like drones with turret guns and bladed tails), FAFNIR air superiority drones (enlarged versions of the Hover SHIVs) and GRENDEL walkers.
  • Badass Boast: When Saren shows up in a massive warmech with the firepower to defeat tanks.
    "I possess sufficient firepower in this platform to destroy an armored battalion, human. Along with clear lines of fire and zero legal or moral compunctions against using them. I am Saren Arterius, Citadel Special Tactics and Recon, and in this pipe, I am the reigning deity. Surrender."
    • Alma, who first laments the fact that can't think of anything badass to say, tells the Ethereal she's fighting, who keeps demanding that she kneel, that "I'll kneel on your charred corpse."
  • Badass Crew: Cayde-6 has assembled one hell of a team on his ship, the Paxterae. The crew includes Miranda Lawson, a sword-and-gun-toting Vanguard, Spencer, a psychic with Super-Speed who doesn't need guns, Mesa'Kolar, a gunslinging neo-quarian, Urdnot Bakara, a krogan shaman and doctor armed with heavy weapons, and Ellie, a collection of isolated geth in a Juggernaut platform with a delightful penchant for cheerful killing.
  • Badass Longcoat: XCOM's PsiCorps uses these as standard issue. They're actually "psionic cloaks" which serve to protect against psionic attack, but XCOM also uses them because they really do look badass.
    • Paxton Fettel is also wearing a gray SDC officer's longcoat when he's first encountered, which is implied to have been taken from its former, likely-now-dead owner.
  • Battle in the Rain: The confrontation with the Ethereals on Proteus takes place in a massive thunderstorm. Of course, in Mass Effect Proteus is constantly wracked by thunderstorms anyway, as its an ocean world.
  • The Battlestar: Deliberately averted with regards to XCOM's Halberd class carriers. They lack the heavy fixed weapons of the dedicated warships, instead launching swarms of drones, fighters, and gunships from across the star system.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bears are among the species humanity has uplifted. James Vega is one of them, and he is absolutely terrifying to everyone except Alma.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: Firewall is active in this setting, and per Word of God, it is active in keeping XCOM honest and uncorrupted. Also, it is strongly implied that Hoplite Security, and by extension Alison and Garrus, are working for them.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shepard is a Nice Guy Paragon who takes pains to talk down criminals without resorting to violence. But don't mistake that for softness, and definitely don't get him angry. Garm sums it up when Jennifer complains that she got arrested by the "nicest Sentinel in PsiCorps":
    “You’d disagree if you were on Mindoir. If you get the chance, download an XP from one of the colonists there. You’ll see very quickly what my partner can do when he’s angry.
    He stopped and stared at her with his eyes. The intellect behind those slit, pale green orbs was intense and unnerving.
    “And you’ll understand that surrendering to Shepard before he gets violent was the smartest move you’ve ever made, kid.”
  • Big Bad: The Ethereals. So much so that the first real mutual ground that humanity, the geth, and the Citadel agree on is that the Ethereals are their mutual enemy.
    • When the author announced he was rewriting the story, he also revealed some of the plot elements that he was changing/dropping. One of them was that one of the Big Bads of the story was going to be Oryx, the Taken King from Destiny. In addition, there's implications that the Darkness itself might be one of the story's overarching antagonists.
  • Big Eater: Psychics, like biotics, have enormous appetites, which scale up with how powerful they are. Garrus is actually able to track down Paxton Fettel by just staking out fast food places until he spots him eating a giant plate of cheeseburgers.
  • Brain Uploading: Human minds are constantly backed up, and its common practice for people to upload their minds into computers to speed data processing or run simulations. XCOM scientists and intelligence personnel run realtime analysis of battles while uploaded into a "simulspace" environment.
    • The turian Exos also involve brain uploading; one example is Garrus, who uploads into an Exo body after being fatally wounded.
  • Canon Welding: The story takes a number of elements from various settings and combines them together:
    • Mass Effect: The broad setting, physics, and galaxy are taken from Mass Effect itself. However, the Reapers appear to be replaced by the Ethereals.
      • Maybe not. Chapter Eleven reveals that there is something out there that even the Ethereals are scared of, which they call "the living metal". Given what we know of Reaper construction, it's entirely possible that they're still out there.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: The history of humanity from the Ethereal War is used, and the Ethereals appear to be the setting's Big Bad, akin to the Reapers.
    • XCOM2: Some of the technology and aliens from XCOM 2 are showing up as well, such as Replica, who look like ADVENT soldiers under their armor, and the Codex aliens. In addition, in the rewritten version of the story, Julian showed up in the initial timeline, albeit insane as he was in canon, and was destroyed by Raymond Shen.
    • Eclipse Phase: Certain non-military technology and societal aspects of Eclipse Phase are used, including many of the transhuman elements such as hypercorps, cortical stacks and egocasting. Word of God is that the "wormhole arrays" are "kitbashed Pandora Gates" and that Firewall exists. The Jovian Republic is one of the most powerful polities in the Space Cold War, and Scum swarms are only mentioned as collateral damage to unregulated psionic manifestations.
    • First Encounter Assault Recon: Armacham Technology Corporation features extensively. Harlan and Alma Wade are featured characters, and the Replica show up as well. Paxton Fettel is another ATC test subject.
    • Destiny: The Cabal and Fallen are mentioned as Terminus races, with the former being incredibly paranoid and militaristic, the latter having been pirates apparently since before the Asari discovered the Citadel. Neither of which are known very well In-Universe, on account of their tendency to shoot first and not bother asking questions. In addition, the Dead Orbit and Future War Cult factions are prevalent. Exos are used by the turians, and XCOM Sentinels like Shepard dress like Warlocks. Fusion rifles also show up, apparently a turian attempt to mass produce human plasma weapons without elerium. In the same chapter, Alma uses what is essentially a Titan's Ward of Dawn to defend herself from a group of attackers. Cayde-6 actually becomes a major character in the story as well, and he actually uses a version of The Last Word exotic hand cannon, as well as the Gunslinger's Golden Gun, meaning he's got access to Light. In addition, cut plot elements indicated that Oryx and the Hive were going to be a major villain, and that the Ethereals are the same species as the Fallen.
    • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: Prokhor Zakharov is a major character, and Miriam Godwinson is mentioned. Corazon Santiago is also the leader of the Future War Cult. Pravin Lal is a major political scientist.
    • Warframe: The Corpus show up as volus-originated "profit-cults" who are powerful enough that they're considered a possible danger to the Citadel's economy if said economy becomes unstable. A gunslinger named Mesa also shows up. There's also hints that something like the Orokin Void may exist, but it's very vague so far.
    • Terminator: Alison Young, from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was an alias of Cameron (and the person her face and body were modeled off). The fact that she is explicitly a superstrong, durable cyborg who takes some severe damage (including losing a limb and being decapitated) without slowing down further pays homage to the Terminators.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: XCOM doesn't resort to it, at least not when more proven and successful methods exist. But if the subject is either too resistant or alien for them to get to cooperate, they will "remove human-protected status" from it, and then things start getting ugly.
  • Combat Pragmatist: XCOM in general, and Shepard in particular. While he orders his men to use nonlethal force when they're attacked by mind-controlled dockworkers, he's perfectly willing to use his plasma pistol to shoot out their arms and legs, because cauterization will keep them from bleeding out and XCOM will pay their medical bills.
  • Commonality Connection: Humanity, the geth, and the Citadel all agree to cooperate when they realize that the Ethereals are a mutual enemy who as attacked them all.
    • On a lesser note, the geth realize how similar they are to humanity when they discover cortical stacks and the regular human process of Brain Uploading.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Armacham's leadership consists of nothing but these, and they're bad enough that they have standardized practices for cleaning up uncontrolled experiments and other messes resulting from their research and operations going haywire.
  • Creepy Child: Alma Wade is one. For all of a few seconds. Then she sees Vega and squees all over him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Human weapons are geared toward using plasma and fusion lance missiles as their main armament. They are quite horrified at their weapons' total ineffectiveness against the geth, whose kinetic barriers and GARDIAN point defense render both of those weapons impotent, and who generally seem to be specifically outfitted to fight human technology. Or rather, they're outfitted to fight Ethereal technology, and humans use Ethereal tech almost exclusively.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Notable for averting the trope more often than not. The author is quite explicit that he wanted to avoid the blatant curbstomps that are common in Mass Effect crossovers.
    • One exception to this is Shepard as a teenager at Mindoir. The batarians who attacked were utterly massacred by him, almost singlehandedly.
    • When Alma loses control of her powers on Proteus, she quite literally crushes the Ethereal that was No Selling her previous attacks.
    • Curb-Stomp Cushion: There is an example of a hard stomp in the backstory, in that the entire Quarian species was wiped out in less than two months- but they did not go down easy, and the sensor data the Geth show the humans and the Citadel reveal that they managed to destroy three Temple Ships in open combat. Too bad that the Ethereals had seventeen more...
  • Death Is Cheap: For humans, since they usually have at least one backup available and everyone carries a cortical stack. Examples of the nonchalance people show regarding body-death:
    • Jack Harper has no problems with ordering an orbital strike directly on his own soldiers' positions, because they're all backed up.
    • Marshal Disler's response to getting killed and cannibalized is "I was killed again, wasn't I?"
    • When Garm is killed, Shepard has a brief moment of berserk fury, pauses next to the body to check his vitals, and says he'll see him when he gets resleeved before continuing after their target.
  • Demonic Possession: Fettel's version of the classic psionic mind control. He literally takes over the target's body with his own mind, although this leaves his own body behind and vulnerable.
  • Dynamic Entry: Although they're better equipped now, the Berserkers still have a bad habit of busting through walls to get at people. Also, the MEC team uses breaching charges that can bust through ship-grade plating when they raid the Ethereal battleship on Proteus.
  • Eldritch Location: It's implied that the Orokin Void exists and the Quarians thought it was safe. However, given the mention of beings that have been exposed to it becoming "changed," it probably isn't.
  • The Empath: One of the subsets of psionic abilities. Lieutenant Kathryn Chambers is one example. Alma is another, and notable because she's rated as an Empath Fifteen, the highest rating known thus far.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The story has its own dedicated Codex, similar in structure to the Codex from Mass Effect, dealing with the loads of technology and other new elements added to the universe.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All of the Paxterae's crew gets one as they're introduced in flashbacks:
    • Mesa'Kolar is introduced as a mysterious but deadly gunslinger on Omega, who doesn't have a geth bodyguard like most of the neo-quarians.
    • Miranda is introduced having just slaughtered a bunch of slavers that Cayde was about to ambush himself. She very nearly kills Cayde himself before he talks her down and uses the rest of the crew in waiting in ambush to make sure she listens.
    • Spencer joins Cayde's crew after having singlehandedly turned what would have been a bloody and deadly bar brawl into a nonlethal beatdown by knocking out and disarming everyone in the room who was about to hurt or kill someone.
    • Urdnot Bakara is introduced by calmly (but far from gently) patching up a wounded Lorik Qui'in while Cayde snipes at assassins trying to kill them just outside.
    • Ellie joins the crew by simply walking up to Cayde and telling him she's his new engineer, and that the geth want to use him and the weirdness of his crew to gather non-standard data sets for analysis. He eventually just rolls with the weirdness.
    • While each scene establishes bits of Cayde's own character, the end of the introductions also has one for Cayde: descending into a mysterious Prothean ruin on a job for the Shadow Broker, listening to what appears to be a psychic log left behind by Annette Durand, and using the Traveler's Light to activate an ancient Prothean machine.
  • Expendable Clone: Replica are treated as such, to the point where it's not legally considered murder to kill them. The Replica keep throwing themselves at their objective regardless of losses until they're either successful or they're all dead.
  • Expy:
  • Flat "What": When Cayde-6 is retelling his story, and gets to the point where a Codex appears, and it's a Quarian, Shepard's reaction is:
    Shepard: "What the fuck."
  • Fossil Revival: The geth want to revive the quarian species with human help to clone the genetic material recovered from their bodies.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Edgar Chen, a psychotic cyborg, decides to chow down on Marshal Disler. It turns out this is because certain psychics can absorb information from eating people's flesh and the data stored in their nervous system.
    • Fettel eats the flesh of an Ethereal in Chapter Eleven.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Maru Heimvar, heavily augmented human, only finally goes down when Garrus impales him on a metal scaffolding pole. Garrus himself was impaled by an omniblade seconds prior.
    • Anyone shot with an alloy cannon tends to be impaled to their surroundings.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Mesa'Kolar is incredibly skilled with her pistols, to the point that she can score multiple headshots on a Replica in a moving vehicle from seventy meters away, in an aircraft of her own, while it's getting shot down.
  • In-Series Nickname: The humans don't know what the geth call themselves at first, so in grand XCOM tradition, the troops nickname them "Flashlights" after their glowing optics.
    • Shepard rapidly begins naming the new Ethereal minions as he encounters them. The cloaked, serpentine snipers are "Snakemen" while the Mutons with massive weapons and shields are "Muton Heavies" and "Muton Phalanxes" respectively. The Ethereal-controlled humans are "Corrupted."
  • It Has Been an Honor: Captain Chi of the XCS Gettysburg right as his ships is torn apart by the geth fleet, telling his men how proud he is of them. Mitigated by the fact that everyone had their minds backed up before the battle, so he comes back a few hours later on the XCS Chevalier.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: PsiCorps has honestly good intentions, essentially serving as psionic police and teachers. But their Sentinels tend to walk around in grey-black longcoats over Powered Armor, with face-concealing helmets, and tend to show up after children begin violently manifesting psychic powers and taking them to psychic training academies. As a result, popular conception of them is mixed.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The author outright admits that it makes no sense that the geth used electronic attacks on the XCOM fleet; however, he also points out that ship-to-ship electronic attacks are possible in the Mass Effect setting and notes that this is even one of EDI's functions, so best to just roll with it.
  • Humans Are Special: The story rolls with it just as in canon XCOM. Also, the Ethereals are using some form of modified human soldier as their elite troops.
  • Kill and Replace: EXALT does this to the Shadow Broker.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Played with. XCOM discovers to their horror that plasma weapons are next to useless against kinetic barriers in space, because the barriers stop plasma, which has very little kinetic energy, and vacuum doesn't conduct heat very well. Kinetic weapons prove more effective against shields, but the real killers are actually laser weapons, which go right through shields. Less decisive on the surface, where plasma proves much more effective against the geth infantry due to atmosphere more effectively conducting the heat. Of note is that kinetic, comparatively primitive weaponry in the vein of Destiny's 20 Minutes into the Future human weaponry with the improvements of Mass Effect's future does exist, but in the author's words it's "Super expensive."
  • Lampshade Hanging: Multiple times.
    • Admiral Victus becomes annoyed that apparently everyone expects a first contact scenario to end in a massive shootout for the flimsiest of reasons (which includes the majority of Mass Effect crossovers, as well as the First Contact War in Mass Effect itself).
    • The Chinese-built underwater city is named "Neo Hengsha." One of the Mandarin-speaking commentators on Spacebattles pointed out that this should have been "Xin Hengsha." In the next chapter, Garrus and Alison get into an argument over which one is correct (Garrus says its "Neo" while Alison says it is "Xin") which culminates in Alison telling Garrus his translator is a piece of shit and he needs to get a new one.
  • Leitmotif: The author posted several of these in the Spacebattles discussion thread, though he specified that these are his personal themes that he uses while writing the characters. They also include both "current" themes for the characters as they are and "development" themes for the directions he intended to take them. Themes ranged from the aggressive (Shepard's, for example, are "Dark Skies" and "The Only Thing I Know For Real" from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance) to the forboding ( Liara's later theme is apparently this song from Warframe) to some spoiler-heavy themes. Alison's theme is this song, which has some implications, and Shepard and Alma have a shared theme: "War" from the Alan Wake soundtrack. Finally, there's Saren's theme... which, uh... diverges from the pattern.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Alison uses an omnitool shield. The current Ethereals also have Mutons who pack enormous full body shields.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Hydra missiles used by XCOM fighter launch enormous swarms of tiny missiles, which prove to be the only effective missile system against GARDIAN lasers, which utterly annihilate FAFNIR drones and fusion lance missiles.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Psionics works on broadly defined rules, and combines the psionics from FEAR and XCOM, and Light from Destiny is apparently part of the system as well. There are a set of psionic categories:
    • Energy: Manipulation of energy in the environment, including thermal, electromagnetic, and kinetic.
    • Internal: Strengthening or enhancing the physical body.
    • Mental: Detection of or alteration of other's minds and emotions, as well as resisting the same.
    • Spatial: Affecting the positions and relations of objects, including teleportation or wormhole creation.
    • Manifestation: Creation of objects or entities via psionic power.
  • Made of Iron: Various human and Citadel cyborgs. Edgar Chen manages to survive getting shot point-blank by a fusion rifle, and cyborg puppetting the dockworkers in Hengsha takes multiple plasma blasts and a serious beating by Shepard's superhuman strength and speed and can still keep fighting until he and Garm shoot out all of his arms and legs.
  • MegaCorp: Armacham Technology Corporation. They help operate the wormhole arrays, they're a major military contractor, and are powerful enough that Harlan Wade is able to circumvent normal procedure for handling out of control psychics through sheer clout with the local police department.
  • Me's a Crowd: Anyone who forks enough can produce this.
    • Zakharov has dozens of forks of himself conducting analysis of geth technology, and even sends one along with Kathryn Chambers to conduct negotiation with the geth.
    • The Prime, an EXALT agent who killed the Shadow Broker, effectively uses these to manage the massive information network.
    • Saren has no less than six copies of himself, including one running around in a massive Exo body armed with enough firepower to defeat a tank battalion.
  • Mistaken Identity: The entire reason why the geth attacked humanity: They saw a species using psionics, wormholes, plasma weapons, alloy hulls, and elerium, and concluded that they were the Ethereals. Once they realized the mistake, they immediately halted the attack.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Alison gets her entire arm shot off by a sniper, and reacts with mild annoyance. Later on, she is completely decapitated, and gets pissed off because now she has to rely on her suit cameras.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The geth's reaction when they realize that they were not fighting the Ethereals.
  • Mythology Gag: The Prologue says "I think if we lost any other countries then XCOM might not have been able to survive". Seven countries are listed which left the Council. You get a Game Over at eight.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Garm is effectively an uplifted cat-commando-ninja-viking.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: The current Ethereals are not playing games. Word of God is that unlike the Ethereals in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, they don't care if humanity survives. They've armored up even the basic Sectoid troops with carapace-equivalent and artificial muscles, they abuse the hell out of cloaking technology with their snipers, and their Mutons are even more heavily armed and armored than before and they use kinetic barriers, rendering them nearly immune to plasma fire. On top of that, they've loaded their minions with cranial bombs in case they get captured. And to top it all off, their deadliest soldiers? Humans.
    • Ethereals in the past proved capable of this as well, and one of the greatest fears that humanity had during the war was the thought of their foes actually putting effort into it. This fear was indirectly brought to life over a century earlier, when the entire Quarian species was wiped out in a mere 41 days, despite a massive fleet and 27 colony worlds.
  • Oh, Crap!: The human reaction to being attacked by a new species of aliens. Then again when they learn what happened to the quarians.
    • The Citadel's reaction to the same. they actually built so many warships in response to the discovery that they crashed their own economy when the debts finally came in.
    • Alison's reaction when she gets done questioning Marshal Disler's brain-state, and learns that they used knock-offs of the Gollop machine to boost their psychics' range, which had predictably terrible consequences.
    Alison: "Holy shit you colossal fucking morons."
    • Just about everyone when the Ethereal battleship surfaces on Proteus.
  • One-Man Army: Adam Shepard, who singlehandedly halted the entire batarian invasion of Mindoir. This also inadvertently caused the complete collapse of the Batarian Hegemony due to being the last in a long line of bad things happening to them.
  • Operation: [Blank]: In grand XCOM tradition, all the missions are given codenames, such as Operation LIGHTNING KING or Operation NEPTUNE DAGGER. Most of the chapters are named after the missions as well. Some are more ominous than others, such as Operation CHARRED STEEL, for when the Ethereal battleship shows up on Proteus.
    • There are also the "CASE"s, which are XCOM contingency orders issued when something major happens. CASE BLOODY JESTER is issued when there is a hostile alien threat, while CASE CHIMERA SUNRISE is issued when Ethereal activity is detected. Word of God has revealed a few more, including CASE PARASITE BLACK (a human nation is compromised), CASE SOLAR RONIN (everyone else is compromised), and CASE RAGNAROK ARSENAL (XCOM itself is compromised).
  • Person of Mass Destruction: A-tier psionics, like Alma, are capable of destroying entire cities.
  • Playing with Syringes: Just as in canon, Armacham is doing terrible things with horrible consequences. Including using Gollop machines to boost the powers of their psychics, which Disler theorizes is directly responsible for the secret ATC/SDC psionic lab being destroyed when something synchronized with the psychics there.
  • Plot Tumor: By the author's own admission, Cayde-6's story (as well as a lot more of the Destiny elements) took over and pushed the story in a direction that both he and the readers felt was unsatisfactory, and he moved to start a general rewrite.
  • Portal Network: Using the typical mass relays from the Mass Effect setting, but with a twist; using psionics, humans are able to develop "wormhole arrays" that let them use mass relays to jump to other relays that they don't normally connect to.
  • Power Incontinence: Alma's psionics go out of control in a school,destroying an entire wing of the building and prompting an XCOM PsiCorps team to investigate and remove her from her home for everyone's safety.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Once Fettel discovers his possession powers, he rapidly begins using this as his standard method of disposing of his enemies, even turning a Muton into a suicide bomber to bring down an Ethereal... which is a tactic any savvy XCOM player will be familiar with.
    • The Ethereals favor this too. When one Ethereal discovers XCOM has automatic weapon lockouts when soldiers get mind-controlled, he then just has the controlled soldiers draw their knives and cut their own throats.
  • Psychic Powers: Considering the multiple source materials, this is a given. A number of human technologies, particularly wormhole drives and wormhole arrays run on psychic powers. Also noteworthy is that the asari are immediately identified as possessing their own form of contact-based psychic powers.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Paxterae's Badass Crew. Cayde-6, a turian Exo, Mesa'Kolar, a neo-quarian gunslinger, Miranda Lawson, cybernetic and biotic human, Mister Spencer, a psionic human with superspeed, and Urdnot Bakara, a krogan shaman and doctor. And the ship itself is piloted by a geth named Ellie, who is equal parts cheerful, violent, and female, all of which deeply confuses Cayde. In fact, the entire reason why joined Cayde's crew is because they're a weird collection of oddities and the geth wanted to study them.
  • Rasputinian Death: Edgar Chen aka Matzirov takes a truly stupendous amount of abuse before he dies, to the point that he gets all of his skin burned off by plasma, shot multiple times by armor-piercing rounds, decked by a super-powered punch from Shepard, loses an arm and a leg to laser and alloy cannon fire respectively, falls repeatedly down a series of platforms and catwalks, and gets shot repeatedly by Shepard. Even then, he stays alive until he reaches Paxton Fettel, who finally puts him out of his misery.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: According to Matriarch Aethyta, the Ethereals regularly attack a colony or ship of a particular species once every two to four hundred years. Furthermore, the fact that they completely annihilated the entire quarian species at the usual time showed a major break in the pattern, followed by attacking humanity a hundred years early and trying to enslave/uplift the entire species.
  • Robot War: The conflict between the human armies and the geth. Comes to an abrupt halt when the geth realize they're not actually fighting the Ethereals.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The geth go on one against humanity when they think that the latter are agents of the Ethereals. In fact, there is an entire "vengeance" faction of the geth solely devoted to wiping out the Ethereals.
  • Scenery Gorn: The city of Mariana after the geth invade. All of Rannoch. The destruction of Alma's school, and the batarian attack on Mindoir.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The entire geth species, due to remembering what the Ethereals did to the quarians with perfect clarity. The Shadow Broker ( well, the current one, which killed the yahg version) actually appears to pity them for being unable to move on past the trauma.
    A collective consciousness like the one they fostered needed expression and dissent, with elements pursuing individual agendas. Otherwise, she argued, they would end up like the geth: trapped in a recursive memory of their most traumatic experiences, endlessly retransmitted and relived, unable to develop into a paradigm that existed outside of that trauma.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In most works, plasma is presented as a generic Energy Weapon. The author instead presented plasma as what it really is, a fourth state of matter that has mass and therefore gets affected by kinetic barriers. In addition, plasma is a terrible weapon against kinetic barriers, because vacuum is terrible at conducting heat and plasma lacks the kinetic energy to effectively harm kinetic barriers. But when kinetic barriers go down, or the plasma is used in-atmosphere, they are far more effective due to convection/conduction. The author himself has gone on rants and even wrote a lengthy author's note explaining how plasma worked in relation to kinetic barriers in response to a number of reviews that complained that plasma is energy and should be going straight through the barriers.
    • Garm is the name of a hound that guards Hel, according to Norse mythology. The fact that an uplifted cat chose the name is actually brought up and discussed; Gar apparently has a great deal of respect for his "canine brethren".
  • Shout-Out: Because of the Massive Multiplayer Crossover nature of the setting, its difficult to tell where the shout-outs end and actual fusions of settings begin.
    • One of the journal entries in the prologue is written by Robert Boyle, one of the creators of the Eclipse Phase setting.
    • The commander of the allied fleet sent to retake Lincoln is named Dolvich.
    • Aspis City, on the colony world of Athena.
    • XCOM PsiCorps uses the motto "skill beats will", and psionics who go out of control are referred to as "going nova."
    • The fact that XCOM's psionics division is called PsiCorps.
    • China forms a Strategic Defense Coalition.
    • One of Shepard's squadmates is a Sergeant McTavish.
    • There are tons of references to Norse Mythology, to the point that Alison Young opted against naming her security company "Valkyrie" because "XCOM has a monopoly on all the Norse mythology."
    • Two of the names Garrus and Alison considered for their company were Hyperion and Desperado.
    • Speaking of which, Alison Young. Later on, she goes by the codename "Agent Tam."
    • One of the leaders of Armacham's cleanup teams is named Marburg.
    • During Hackett's briefing in Chapter Nine, he speaks with Doctor Sun, the scientist who did the autopsies on the cyborgs. Sun says that the augments were grown inside the bodies, prompting hackett to speculate on the technology required to do so, leading to him saying "Nanomachines, Sun?"
    • One of Durand's MEC troopers in the prologue is "Gipsy" Beckett. Later on, Sergeant "Hercules" Hansen leads the ME Cs in Operation: CHARRED STEEL.
    • The New Conglomerate is apparently a big power in human economics, and Hacksaw shotguns are mentioned as a MEC weapon.
    • One of the Shadow Broker's forks apparently remodeled its personality around Deadpool in order to give them a different perspective. A very different perspective.
    • Cursing in Asari languages is described as feeling "like wiping one's arse with silk."
    • Most of the Paxterae's crew who aren't straight canon characters: Cayde-6 is pretty much Malcom Reynolds as a turian. A long-haired human who specializes in nonlethal hand-to-hand fighting named Spencer. A quarian pistol-toting gunslinger whose first name is Mesa. And a driver/engineer named Ellie.
    • A Replica with an upload personality, armed with a sword, cloaking, named Phantom. He even uses Phantom's catchphrase "Trick or treat, motherfucker!" when he backstabs someone.
  • Slave Mooks: As with in canon, the various aliens serving the Ethereals are manufactured slaves. Included among them are quarians, who were turned into the Codices, humans, who were turned into the Corrupted, and the Cabal, who according to the author, were turned into Mutons.
  • Space Cold War: The various human nations have banded together into a number of alliances, each becoming an effective superstate. A cold war mentality settles in between the rival powers.
    • America Takes Over the World: The United States merges with Canada and Mexico to form a United States of North America. They then ally with a number of Pacific states (Japan, a reunified Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand) to form the Pan-Pacific Alliance, itself allied with an expanded European Union.
    • China Takes Over the World: China forms a Strategic Defense Coalition that controls much of Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East.
    • Beyond those three are the South Atlantic Federation, an alliance of South American and West African nations to resist domination by the other super alliances, a Russian coalition, and the Jovian Republic which rules Jupiter.
  • The Stations of the Canon: Averted to hell and back.
    • The First Contact War isn't fought with the turians or batarians as it is in most Mass Effect crossover fanfics. Instead, it is fought with the geth.
    • The quarians were apparently completely wiped out by the Ethereals. This had the side effect of causing the Citadel to arm itself up so much that it nearly broke its own economy, and has also resulted in the geth and the Citadel meeting on better terms.
    • Alma Wade, who in FEAR canon ended up going through horrific, traumatizing ordeals after losing control of her powers, is picked up by XCOM without much trouble and willingly goes along with them for proper training. James being a bear helped.
    • Mindoir gets attacked just like in canon, but Shepard stops the attack dead in its tracks and completely routs the batarian slavers.
    • The Shadow Broker is killed by EXALT before the main storyline even begins.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Alma's psionics, in FEAR canon, were able to destroy worlds and alter reality. Here, her powers are more controlled and limited, at least partially due to XCOM rescuing her before she went through the agonizing trauma she suffered in canon. In addition, her Empath powers limit her ability to handle combat situations.
  • Suicide by Cop: The geth heretics on Lincoln abruptly assault the XCOM lines in a huge, concentrated assault when they learn that the majority of geth are suing for peace. This prompts XCOM to blast the geth from orbit.
  • Super-Reflexes: One of the powers of Internal psionics. Shepard has these, coupled with Super-Speed.
  • Super Registration Act: A more benign one; psionic humans are required to be registers, and XCOM holds exclusive rights to training psionic humans, although psychic children can be taught in normal schools, assuming that there are psychic adults nearby who can step in if their powers abruptly go haywire. The exception are "A-tier" psychics, who are required to be isolated and trained by XCOM for everyone's safety.
  • Super-Speed: A power available to some Internal psionics. Shepard has this, and they're so fast that he risks breaking his own arms if he punches too hard while using them.
  • Taking You with Me: Garrus, upon being fatally impaled by Heimvars omniblade, grabs him and pulls him off the side of a building.
  • They Look Like Us Now: The latest generation of Ethereal Thin Men are virtually indistinguishable from humans. Wordof God is that they're 100% genetically human. Because they are human.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Spencer is a Technical Pacifist who refuses to use lethal force against his opponents, including Expendable Clone soldiers who are trying to kill him. Considering he's a psychic that has Super-Speed, he can effectively go through an entire squad of armed assassins in the time it takes his sunglasses to hit the ground. Also, just because he doesn't kill people, it doesn't mean he won't shatter every bone in their body to make sure they stay down.
  • Thunder Hammer: The new and improved Muton Berserkers wield enormous, electrically-charged warhammers.
  • Time Skip: The first five chapters take place in 2103 when XCOM makes first contact witht he geth and the Citadel. Then the first interlude skips ahead to different events over the next eighty years.
  • Transhuman: A major theme. Much of the Eclipse Phase technology in human augmentation makes an appearance, including forking, cortical stacks, farcasting, multiple types of bodies or "morphs" and uplifted animals.
  • Translator Collar: Garm wears one; otherwise his voice would just come out as feline yowls.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, both the asari and the humans note how weird it is seeing such familiar facial expressions on something that looks so very similar to themselves.
  • Unhappy Medium: Alma is the most powerful Empath in the galaxy; it also makes her extremely sensitive to negative emotions, and things like sensing a man being set on fire actually hit her so badly she passed out.
  • Uplifted Animal: Many animals are uplifted into sapience by humans, and the geth are curious as to why. Along the staples of Eclipse Phase's uplifts (birds, octopi, whales, primates, and pigs) there's also uplifted cats, dogs, and bears.
    • Of particular note is James Vega, an uplifted grizzly bear, and Garm, an uplifted cat, both of whom are members of XCOM.
  • Urban Warfare: The battle on the human colony of Lincoln in the city of Mariana between XCOM and the geth.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Garrus figures out how to track down Fettel by realizing that, having both spent most of his life in a carefully controlled lab environment and the fact that powerful psychics get very hungry... he just stakes out the food courts at Hengsha's commercial district until he finds him stuffing his face with huge amounts of fast food.
  • Weak-Willed: Mutons are explicitly engineered to be this way. When Fettel observes a Muton's thought processes, he notes that it's brain has been specifically modified to be easily controlled with psionics, to the point where there are psychic "buttons" that can be used to take over. They're even engineered with psychological blocks to prevent them from taking defensive action against possession, even if they see another Muton being taken over right in front of them.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The unnamed XCOM commander in the prologue laments that mankind should have unified after the Ethereal invasion instead of forming a number of rival superstates.
  • We Have Reserves: Jack Harper points out that all of his soldiers have their minds backed up right before he orders an orbital strike to wipe out the geth assaulting his lines.
  • Wham Episode: By the third chapter, these keep coming constantly.
    • Chapter Three: the revelation that the geth are Sectopods, and then the revelation that the geth attacked humanity because they thought they were Ethereals.
    • Chapter Four: The Ethereals annihilating the quarians.
    • Chapter Five: The Citadel knew about the Ethereals' cycle of murder and the death of the quarians.
    • Interlude One: Jack Harper is hired by Armacham and the Shadow Broker is killed and replaced by EXALT.
    • Chapter Eight opens with one: Paxton Fettel was one of the subjects at the secret psionics lab.
    • Chapter Nine: The Ethereals are back.
    • Chapter Ten: The Ethereals are using humans as soldiers now.
    • Chapter Eleven: The Ethereals aren't really replacing the Reapers.
    • Chapter Three of the Grimore storyline: The Quarians have been turned into Codices.
  • Wham Line: In Chapter Eleven, after an entire plotline that ran on him evading capture and imprisonment, Paxton Fettel saying "I surrender." to XCOM when they catch up with him.
  • Willfully Weak: When the Ethereals attacked the Earth, they played this up to test humanity. It forms a stark- not to mention terrifying- counterpoint to their attack on the Quarians, where the entire race was eradicated in less than two months, and the final assault on Rannoch involved twenty Temple Ships. One nearly brought Earth to its knees.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: In Chapter Eleven, James Vega suplexes a Muton Berserker.

Alternative Title(s): Vigil