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Literature / Mass Effect: Ascension

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Mass Effect: Ascension is a novel within the Mass Effect universe, written by then-lead writer Drew Karpyshyn. Set between the first and second games in the series, it follows Kahlee Sanders, who works at the Ascension project.

Mass Effect: Ascension provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Kahlee is about two decades older than her boyfriend Jiro. It means a little less in the setting due to advances in medical research slowing down aging. But, she notes that it does give her more experience and a better ability to pace herself during sex.
  • Berserk Button: Golo doesn't like his exile being brought up or mocked. However, his fury is a quiet and sadistic one.
  • Big Bad: The Illusive Man.
  • The Big Guy: Pel takes this in the psychotic larger-than-life direction. Hendel plays the gruff, stoic, but good-at-heart form completely straight. Though the big part is easy to miss, at one point he is described as half a foot taller than Grayson, a man who is himself described as tall. Which puts him at least at two meters.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gillian is free from the Illusive Man's tests and getting better. However, she's doomed to a life on the run, split off from her father, and all but two of the people she ever loved. All of whom have managed to irritate a man with incredible power and drive.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A particularly choice example, as the kid doing the bullying was himself suspended earlier for using his telekinetic powers on a fellow student. Hello, karma.
  • Call-Forward: When you go to Freedom's Progress in Mass Effect 2, Prazza, a quarian, mentions that Cerberus invaded the Migrant Fleet and tried to blow up a ship.
    • When discussing the merits of David Anderson as the possible human councillor, Jiro abruptly says he thinks it should be Udina. The third game would eventually reveal that Udina was a Cerberus agent, and given Jiro's own alliance to Cerberus, it's no surprise he'd favour Udina so strongly.
  • Daddy's Girl: Gillian is completely devoted to her father, much to Hendel's chagrin.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Golo. Considered by the quarians to have committed the worst sort of crime, betrayal of the group as a whole. Manages to get numerous more quarians killed during the course of the novel, seemingly as an act of revenge for what he sees as their betrayal of him. Subverted, since he didn't desert the Migrant Fleet, he was exiled.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Hendel Mitra was a student at BAaT, which brutally pushed its students to the point that some died and many of them snapped.
  • Disability Superpower: Gillian is a high-functioning autistic. She is also significantly more powerful than a military biotic with decades of training, and more powerful (albeit riskier, with nasty side affects) implants.
  • The Exile: Golo, and for very good reasons.
  • Eye Scream: During a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, Hilo'Jaa vas Idenna has the lids of one eye ripped off, letting it dehydrate into a prune. Horrific in its own right, but possibly preferable to the entry for Mass Effect: Revelation.
  • Fantastic Racism: Most obvious in Pel, yet present throughout. Sets up some conflict within Cerberus, between those ideologically motivated for a better future for humanity, and the racists that believe in human dominance.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Grayson, by the end.
  • Gut Feeling: Hendel has a number of these. They are all on the mark. Almost.
  • Hate Sink: Golo'Mekk vas Usela is a quarian who is the antithesis of every positive trait of his species: selfish, opportunistic and treacherous. He is so despicable that even members of Cerberus universally despise him for having betrayed his own people. Grayson, who had been firmly loyal to Cerberus up to that point, is finally pushed to the decision to kill him and turn on Cerberus due to them associating with such a colossal scumbag as Golo, after watching him cruelly and pointlessly beating Kahlee.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: How Grayson gets rid of the evidence of his first kill for Cerberus.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Red sand has heavy elements of this, especially in the symptoms presenting in Grayson, though perhaps quite not as addictive or strong.
  • In the Back: Golo's fate when Grayson decides to change sides.
  • Ironic Nickname: Pel calling Grayson 'Killer', which also serves as Hypocritical Humor.
  • It's All About Me: Golo despises his entire species for "betraying" him with exile. The fact that he was kicked out for selling innocent people to the Collectors doesn't seem to matter much to him.
  • I Want Them Alive!: The entire point of the Cerberus operation is to capture Gillian. Everybody else is expendable.
  • Kill the Cutie: Seeto, who was probably the friendliest quarian you'd ever meet. He's killed by Cerberus when they attack the Idenna.
  • Morality Pet: Paul Grayson may be a drug addict and a Cerberus agent, but his love for his adopted, autistic daughter is genuine.
  • Never My Fault: Golo kills more quarians than anyone else in the novel to get revenge for them "betraying" him. He makes no mention of the fact that he was exiled from the fleet due to him trying to sell his people to the Collectors.
  • Offscreen Villainy: When Lemm confronts Golo about the fate of the Cyanid, Golo reflects to himself, without a hint of regret or remorse, that "...Over the past decade (he) had done dozens of acts that might cause another quarian to hunt him down in search of vengeance. There was no point in trying to guess which one had set off this particular young man."
  • Older Than They Look: The book notes that human longevity is a lot greater than it used to be, and many characters look younger than they actually are.
  • Override Command: Two codes need to be entered simultaneously to defuse a bomb in the finale.
  • Parents as People: Grayson gets just as much characterization as Gillian, which adds a level of depth to the seemingly Abusive Parents element (of the neglectful kind).
  • Redemption Equals Death: Grayson seeks to avert this, I'd like to think I can atone without dying.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Magnificently demonstrated by Lemm'Shaal nar Tesleya.
  • Shout-Out: Features a brain-damaged teenage girl with incredible mental powers... taking refuge on a ship whose captain is named Mal.
  • Smug Snake: Jiro is described as handsome and comes across as very cocky, two facts that don't help him when he turns out to be The Mole. His girlfriend ends up kicking his ass.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Golo rarely even raises his voice, at one point when another quarian insults Golo he doesn't say a word and smashes their faceplate. Sounds like this in the audio version of the book.
  • The Sociopath: Golo, as seen in the tropes above and below that apply to him. It's especially noticable as the quarians have a reputation for being, almost psychologically, very communal with each other.
  • Squishy Wizard: Gillian is an autistic girl on the cusp of puberty. Hendel averts this, also being The Big Guy.
  • Straight Gay: Hendel is a badass, ex-military wall of muscle with a gruff personality to match. Who likes men, apparently.
  • The Unseen: The Collectors, at least until ME 2.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Illusive Man's carefully composed façade slips when Grayson quits Cerberus and tells TIM not to go after Gillian, Hendel or Kahlee or he'll tell the Alliance vital information that would cripple Cerberus. The Illusive Man expresses visible and audible frustration and anger over this. Given how composed he usually is, that's saying something.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Implied. Part of Golo's deal with the Collectors involved "two dozen pure quarians who have never left the Migrant Fleet." Since the Pilgrimage where they leave the Fleet is a Rite of Passage, this could mean that Golo may have been willing to sell quarian children to the Collectors.
  • Wretched Hive: The Terminus "capital", a space station called "Omega".