Reviews for Razor's Edge
natureguy85 chapter 13 . 8/24
I like the conversation between Tali and Shepard at the start. It’s sweet and it makes sense given Tali’s realization at the end of the last chapter. However, the previous chapter’s events are begging to have someone challenge Shepard on his behavior. Tali excuses it, but she’s one of Shepard’s closest friends and loves him. She has a rose-colored visor on when it comes to Shepard. But what about Garrus? Obviously Garrus would still look out for Shepard, but Shepard will later ponder how Garrus never hesitates to tell him he’s wrong. Where is that? I picture the scene in U-571 where the Chief berates the First Mate turned Captain for telling the sailors he didn’t know what they were going to do. “The Skipper always knows what to do, whether he does or not.” He was still respectful and not insubordinate, but sad something the Captain needed to hear. watch?vIV79EIZVuHQ.

Also, I note Shepard “kick(s) himself for being so unprofessional,” because of having his head in Tali’s lap but not for his behavior the previous night. I know I mentioned this last chapter, so this is the last time I’ll bring it up.

Shepard’s initial reaction to getting Quin’Sala’s contract is kind of funny and I really enjoyed TIM questioning a mysterious charge on his expense report. But what is the purpose of the conversation with Aethyta, other than to get Shepard out from under the contract? It’s long and, in my opinion, needless filler. I don’t think it’s worth the small laugh mentioned above. The dialogue is actually good, but I just don’t see why it’s in there. We don’t need Shepard having some soft spot for Quarians because Tali already loves him and it’s clear he has feelings for her. It might make sense if Tali had some issue with the idea of dating humans or any alien, but she doesn’t. Honestly, the fate of Quin’Sala isn’t important and doesn’t need to be resolved. Shepard getting mad about it and causing a ruckus is all that matters. In fact it might be funny if you just did the TIM scene and some Cerberus lawyer had to work it out off-screen.

As a lore nitpick, Aethyta wouldn’t refer to the Morning War by that name because that is the Geth name that she would have no way of knowing.

You lose 50 points for no dirty joke when Joker says the line about people getting on or off his girl without him knowing!

Another minor lore note; the Collector Cruiser is just that; a cruiser, and so it is definitely not larger than the Destiny Ascension or any other dreadnaught. Like the others, this doesn’t affect the story, but it’s something someone familiar with the series would notice.

One of my favorite things about your adaptation is that you give the rest of the ground team something to do on missions. Taking only two companions is a gameplay mechanic but that makes it seem silly to have 12 people on the team that don’t do anything. It’s definitely character overload. The roles you give the other teams on the Collector cruiser make sense.

Shepard hopes they will try out the new guns on the Collector Cruiser. They already did that with Purgatory so the phrase doesn’t make much sense. I guess Joker didn’t get to fire them that time.
Another minor question; why would EDI speak through speakers on the console, where others can hear, rather than directly into their comlinks? Worse is later when she mentions opening a door to Shepard’s “east” which would make no sense on a ship.

I like how you tighten things up by having the data mining happen at the same time they find the dead Collector. However, it felt a little odd to me to have the exposition on the Turian signal and the Collector ship happen when they are trying to hurry out. The game puts it before, and in that regard I have to say they are right. There is tension, but no immediate danger. Once the ship starts powering up, they need to hurry and the tone of the scene is different. It could be ok since the Collectors haven’t shown up. On a minor note, it’s also strange that you have EDI bring up the signal, then the ship, and then go back to the signal.

I love the scene of Shepard running to save Tali and going through what we later lean is him using biotics for the first time. It’s hectic, tense, and described very well. When you mention the HUD dying, I can’t help but think of the scene in Iron Man where his HUD dies and he’s looking out of those tiny eye holes while falling. Shepard’s helmet would at least still offer some field of view. The only problem is that Shepard takes his helmet off in an environment that is open to space. There was no mention of an airlock closing behind them and you made mention of the squad wearing breather masks.

You end the chapter perfectly. It’s a great mirror to the beginning of the chapter and Shepar’s last line has weight.
A Voice in the Desert chapter 36 . 7/27
You've probably seen my name pop up at various times favoriting or following your stories, and I'm long overdue to drop you a review. Even if it's at the end of this epic story.

I'll be honest and say that I'm fairly new to actually reading any ME fiction, but this is by far (and your other Razor's Edge pieces) the best, most well-thought through work/series on the site. The time you've spent developing each character individually is incredible and I can't imagine the time and work you've put in to re-create the general timeline of the game. I recognize that the beauty of the ME series is that everyone's in-game experience is relatively unique and while I've only played ME2 and 3, I have to believe that you've gone through the game(s) more than a few times to get some of the details you've included here. Or maybe you just have an incredible memory. )

Anyways, one of the reasons I was initially drawn to your story was the way you wrote the Tali/Shepherd dynamic. Tali's character and back story has always been intriguing to me and I've found her to be one of the more complex characters in the ME universe. It was really a pleasure to see such a well-written, reasonable dynamic and relational evolution between the characters.

I'm certainly following the third installment of your Razor's Edge series and eagerly await the future chapters. I'll be curious to see whether you stick true to the ending of ME3 or whether there's some AU-ish spin you put on it, especially with regards to Tali and the team. Either way, I'm sure it will be great.

I've combed through a bit of to see if I can find comparable ME stories, but haven't had a ton of luck. I notice you don't have a favorites list, so if you have any suggestions from your reading, I'd love to hear them. Regardless, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your work.

Thanks for writing.

~AVotD
Aust Sakura Kyzor chapter 36 . 6/24
I actually read this a long time ago, but have set up an account here since then, so now I'm going to re-read, read the sequels, and love it all over again 3
Lord of the Disc chapter 36 . 2/22
Excellent story. Eagerly looking forward to reading the next in this series.
Natureguy85 chapter 12 . 2/17
My post for this chapter got cut off, so I'll repost the end.

Shepard’s violence in the bar also detracts from the idea that Liara’s words made him sad, depressed, and self-reflective. He should be moping if not crying over the harm he now thinks he’s caused. But instead he’s just an angry drunk. If you want to use the anger, he needs to get angry over something trivial, not something important. This is a far more subtle cue that something is wrong. For a great example, you can look at, believe it or not, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. When Anakin is talking to Padme after killing the Sand People, he goes into an angry, whiny rant before his anger breaks into sorrow as he confesses what he’d just done.

This is your opportunity to take Shepard through some actual character development, something he didn’t have in the actual games. This event should shake Shepard’s confidence in himself as a leader, much the way Garrus feels about himself after his team was killed. Then have a challenge occur where he has to rise up and be a leader again, proving to himself that he still has what it takes. The battle against the Thresher would be perfect as it could coincide with him getting over that fear, but it could be something else as well. The point is that he can’t just shrug it off and move on. Because of this, how drunk Shepard is becomes a problem. Now his behavior and comments can be attributed to the alcohol, which is why he just gets up and goes the next morning when he is sober. I like the idea of him drinking as he’s upset, but I think it would be much better to only make him slightly drunk so that we know his thoughts are really his.
Similar to how these events should affect Tali, Shepard’s behavior is begging for a “that isn’t how a Commanding Officer is supposed to act” speech. As written, Garrus is really the only candidate, and it actually fits in really well with Turian culture and military discipline.
So after all that we come to Tali’s thoughts after Shepard falls asleep. This scene is beautiful. It’s very tender and sweet. Most importantly, Tali has Shepard in a moment and position of vulnerability when she normally sees him as the strong figure facing the odds. It’s a bittersweet read as she tucks away her feelings to protect Shepard and the mission.
Myron23 chapter 30 . 1/11
One of the few touching endings of Morinth...

But why leave the body there to rot?
Myron23 chapter 12 . 1/10
"Liara wait!"

I yelled out those same word towards my computer screen on my first playthrough.

On a side note: Doesn't anybody ever have Nyxeris (or any badguy) beg for her life when she is corned rather than remaining defiant?
Natureguy85 chapter 12 . 11/17/2014
There is a LOT in this chapter so this is going to be a long one. Here….we….go!

I like how you combined Samara and Thane’s recruitment missions. It works because Nassana is the type of person who would have the ability and will to smuggle someone off world for a price and those who played ME2 saw Eclipse in both missions. This cuts down filler and keeps things from getting stale.

Unless it’s going to haunt Shepard later, along with other things weighing on his mind, there is no point to include the bit about the Asari murderer whom Shepard let go free. It could bother him that a murderer got away or that he showed poor judgment. But if you don’t use it, it’s just pointless detail. In the game, it was there to be a player punch if you let the girl go. (And it was a good one because you should have known based on what the volus says before you start that section.)

Garrus’ comment about Shepard finding a polite Krogan made me smile because one of my favorite NPCs is the very polite Krogan who works for Mr. Thax that you can meet after Samara’s recruitment.

While I said in the last chapter you shouldn’t mention Shepard’s knee bothering him unless it was going to matter, and I stand by that, bringing it up here is fitting because his mind is going back to Tali and the drive to the tower. This works both as a literary technique but also with how memory and the body actually operate. Readers may understand how thinking of the situation makes the injury hurt again.

I like that you have Garrus hesitate before exiting the car, like he knows Shepard is lying when he says he is fine… but then Garrus just gets out. Now with Kasumi and Tali waiting, there is something to be said for not being the time or place, but Garrus should corner Shepard at some point and bring it up, even if Shepard blows him off again or pays him lip service. Garrus is Shepard’s best friend and seems to know him best. This was one of the things ME3 actually did right, where Garrus chats with Shepard after several big events.

Specifically naming Maker’s Mark as Shepard’s drink sounds strange. The only things from our real world in ME are historical and then Ramen noodles for one joke on the Citadel. I’d actually get rid of the lines about who is drinking what. It is pointless filler and doesn’t add anything to any conversation. The “shaken not stirred” line would work breaking the 4th wall a bit if you had a James Bond like character, but the closest is Shepard. Kasumi is not. More subjectively, Garrus using the phrase “dick move” sounds wrong, particularly said to a woman, but maybe that’s just me. The rest of this scene is actually quite good particularly Shepard’s comments about his leadership philosophy.

This is minor, but the reader has no context for how Shepard figures out that Nyxeris is the Broker agent. The key in the game is that one of the messages refers to the Observer as “she” while all the suspects are referred to as “he” in at least one message.

Another minor gripe that might bug only me, but nobody with proper firearms training would duel wield, so it irked me when you had Shepard do it. It can be cool action hero stuff, so you just have to decide how real you want Shepard to be.

The line about Tali following Shepard’s orders to go back to the ship from Liara’s office was interesting so shortly after Shepard saying he didn’t want people who just followed orders with a “yes, sir”. On that note, it would be really powerful for Tali to reply with “Yes, Commander” instead of just nodding. The change from calling him Shepard just a moment before gives impact to the scene and makes it clear that she isn’t happy, now referring to Shepard as her commanding officer, not her close friend. This is given added weight by the conversation Shepard had with Miranda, asking her to call him Shepard. Reusing or reversing themes like that can be very powerful.

And now we come to the most important scene(s) in your entire story: The fallout with Liara, Shepard drunk in the bar, and Tali with Shepard in the back room. This is the apex of the emotional conflict of Razor’s Edge. Here we have Shepard having his own actions thrown in his face, having to see how those actions affect others, the end of the relationship with Liara thus clearing the deck for Tali, Tali seeing a different side of Shepard, and finally the full reveal of Tali’s feelings that were previously only hinted at. This sequence, more than any other in the story, must be done properly. There is some great stuff in here, but also more missed potential, and a few problems. I’m going to try to address everything that comes to mind.

First off, I love the argument with Liara as an explanation for her change in character. This was sorely missing in ME2. The conversation is great. Liara gets right in Shepard’s face and says all the right things. The most important part of it is bringing up the Purgatory. Destroying it was of the two most significant, most Renegade, and potentially evil action Shepard takes in the whole story and could not just go without being addressed again. I can go with Shepard’s “I did it so others wouldn’t have to” argument because, while it’s rather weak and cliché, it can just be Shepard’s excuse: a lie that he tells himself. Although, it would certainly work in the Dr. Saleon case if Shepard was doing it because he knew he couldn’t persuade Garrus to let go. That would be a specific example he could pose to Liara in order to make his case. Anyway, what you have is really good. What hurts it for me though is how quickly Shepard walks away from Liara. Did she really mean anything to him? They spent the night before Ilos together and Liara kissed him when she saw him. It’s clear she still has feelings for him and you made a point to show Tali’s jealousy. So how quickly Shepard drops her comes off as a cheap way to clear the road for Tali, which makes me wonder why you bothered establishing the relationship with Liara. Why not with Ashley and have the breaking point be Horizon where it’s Ashley that walks away from Shepard, or even have her be the one who died on Virmire? Now to be fair, Liara clearly isn’t the same woman Shepard had whatever feelings for and you did say that it wasn’t love. That said, I’m not sure what I’d suggest to change it beyond what I already did because you also don’t want it to drag on too long. More importantly, you make up for it by showing the conversation did affect him deeply in the next scene.

The problem is that Shepard is a huge hypocrite. Shepard is a violent person and while he is always trying to help people, his natural inclination is to violence. Already you have the incident that you later refer to as Tartarus with the pirate who threatened Tali, the Purgatory, and the Dr. Saleon encounter. When he gets drunk he attacks the Asari woman and the security guards and there are several more examples to come later. Liara calls him out on this but Shepard makes excuses. Now, the next scene shows that it does bother him, but it’s like he gets it all out of his system and that’s the end of it. Is the later conversation about Reaper influence supposed to backtrack to all of these events too?

Moving on to the scene in the bar, I like how you go to the perspective of Garrus and Tali rather than Shepard. It adds some urgency to the scene. The plot hawk in me wonders how Anaya has Garrus’ “phone number”, but it isn’t a real issue. I mention it because… I’m just like that.

This is curiosity, not criticism, but I noticed you pushed even a little harder than the game did on Indentured Servitude being the same as slavery. This was clearly the position of the game as well, but interestingly, I always leaned toward the broker’s point of view because I am aware of indentured servitude in history and appreciate the differences. You also seemed to make the Asari less caring for the Quarian than in the game. For example Quin’Sala’s stammer at the phrase “personal assistant” implies something sexual. What made you decide to go this route?

Anyway, the scene is pretty good so I’m going to skip to where they are carrying Shepard to the back. Here we have something that isn't bad, but something you should consider. When Samara used the word “hesh’la”, I thought it was Samara being observant and seeing how Tali felt based on Tali’s reaction to defend Shepard. I liked this as it gave her some character. So it felt cheaper when Aethyta used the term. Now, you could argue that it still makes sense because both are Matriarchs and Aethyta does mention knowing what Quarians look like under their suits in the game, so you can assume she has some familiarity with them. However, it takes away an opportunity to build on the personality of an actual squad character, where Aethyta isn’t really important.

I became a bit frustrated where Quin’Sala apologizes to Tali because Tali comments that it isn’t Quin’s fault, yet talks about how Quarians get into trouble and then praises Shepard. But the reason it’s not Quin’s fault is because it’s Shepard’s fault. He was drunk, he lost his temper, he attacked the Asari, and he beat up the security. But Tali just ignores that and admires him. I know she’s loyal, but there’s loyalty and there’s blind loyalty, and Tali seems to be in the latter camp. This is a chance for the shine to come off of Shepard a little bit. Perhaps make her question how she feels. Think about her actual romance dialogue in the game, where she mentions a few of Shepard’s deeds. Something like this could have the opposite effect.

Shepard’s violence in the bar also detracts from the idea that Liara’s words made him sad, depressed, and self-reflective. He should be moping if not crying over the harm he now thinks he’s caused. But instead he’s just an angry drunk. If you want to use the anger, he needs to get angry over something trivial, not something important. This is a far more subtle cue that something is wrong that a character can p
erisol chapter 2 . 10/20/2014
You need more views. People don't know what their missing. Also I like that the canon parts you keep brief.
erisol chapter 1 . 10/20/2014
Perfect writing. So hard to find a fan fiction that doesn't sound silly.
natureguy85 chapter 11 . 9/12/2014
The scene of Tali attending to Shepard's facial wounds is fantastic. It’s a cute image and reminds the audience what the story is actually about. You include just the right details and set just the right mood. The impressive part is that you've communicated that there is something deeper in this scene for both of them through two separate methods but without swapping from one character to the other. With Shepard, it's clear in his thought. With Tali, you do it through the actions that Shepard notices, such as her finger lingering on his scar. The only thing I'm not 100% on is turning it awkward with the leg comment. It could have ended with Tali finishing and them exchanging a long look or just going right to Shepard glancing at her as she looked out the window like you had it. I'm not sure if that would be better, but it's another way to play it. It depends on what kind of mood you want to set; if you want to continue the moment of sexual tension, or break it with something light. However, getting both viewpoints across from only one perspective is something you should be proud of. Good job.

When you introduce Nassana Dantius’ name, you mention that Shepard’s team didn’t feel good about her on first meeting and were right, but you don’t tell the readers why. Nassana isn’t an important enough character to need a reveal later and all your main characters already know about her. You should either not bring her up until later, or just make a generic statement about her being shady. I’ll also point out now that the later line “Yea, she tricked us into killing [her] sister, who turned out to be a slaver,” is written backward. It makes it sound like Shepard and Co. went out to kill the sister. It should be “She tricked us into killing a slaver who turned out to be her sister, “ or “she sent us to rescue her sister, who turned out to be one of the slavers, not a captive.” You could include something about it showing how far she’d go for political gain, or some such. It just clears of who was who. That said, if you just went the route of declaring her a shady character, you can just ignore this section. Nassana might matter to Thane, but she isn’t anything to Shepard other than the way to meet Thane.

I was happy to see Tali’s use of a Quarian simile during her internal monologue. It’s always silly when aliens use overtly human phrases without at least a little alien twist to them, even when they acknowledge them as human sayings. It makes her character more believable as an alien with her own culture.

Garrus and Tali’ conversation about Shepard pushing forward is interesting, but highlights one of the problems I had with your story. They comment that they will be there to pick up Shepard if he falls, but I would have liked to see them, or at least Tali, try to keep him from falling in the first place rather than seeing it as inevitable. They might fail, but the attempt should be there. It would also make for an interesting distinction and even tension between Garrus and Tali as two friends who both want what is best for Shepard, but have different ideas on what that is. This gives more depth to your characters and story and allows you to make more of your own mark it. It also gives more individual characterization to Garrus and Tali beyond Shepard groupies.

Omnivore’s eat meat so that line makes no sense. However, the comment about teeth could put thoughts into Tali’s head if you wanted. Anyway, again Shepard is being awkward about the situation of Tali sitting on his lap both before and particularly after. I’m only pointing it out for awareness; there is not necessarily anything wrong with it if that’s how you want to play it. To some though, the comment after they get out of the car might seem out of character for a normally very confident and assertive Shepard, but we all know being around someone you’re attracted to can make you goofy. Another way to go would be to have him not think about it at first because his mind is on the mission, but have Tali be nervous. Then you could have Shepard’s mind wander once Tali is actually on his lap and his arm is around her. Then when they get out, they quickly try to refocus on the mission.

I like the bit about Shepard’s knee not being repaired in the Lazarus project. It not only reminds us that Shepard is only augmented, not a complete robot body, but it’s some interesting detail that was annoyingly absent in the actual game. However, there is no point to bringing it up again once the mission starts unless you are going to have that injury bother Shepard in a way that matters, such as him falling at a key moment or being unable to catch someone who is running away. Without that, you’re just beating a dead horse because the detail is no longer relevant.

Your quick run-through of the mission up to Nassana is fine because the ME2 story is just a backdrop of the Shepard-Tali romance. It’s a good fast forward to more interesting things than another fight.
Guest chapter 36 . 8/12/2014
Come on!
Please dont let TIM be indoctrinated... :(
Natureguy85 chapter 10 . 8/11/2014
For some reason, only half of the post for last chapter went through. Still on Ch 8:

It might seem minor, but one of the most important exchanges is where Shepard tries to downplay the meeting with Ashley and Garrus calls BS. This shows how heavily the event weighs on Shepard, but also shows that it affected Garrus as well. Most importantly, it gives Garrus a bit of personal character separate from Shepard rather than just a comedic lackey who follows Shepard step for step.

Shepard’s thoughts on how Garrus and Tali allow him to hold onto his sanity are also key, though, as I have mentioned before and will mention again, I want more of this and to see a scene where they do pull him off the brink and maybe even a scene where he temporarily loses one or both them. An example would be the loss of loyalty if you pick sides in the two crew arguments on the Normandy in the game. It would obviously never be permanent and it could be the other of the pair that restores the doubter’s faith in Shepard. To be fair, the games don't really have much for the characters other than their initial reactions. They don't have sliding loyalty bar like in Dragon Age: Origins.

Shepard checking out Tali was hilarious and cements where the romance is going if readers didn’t already know.

On to Chapter 9:

I'm mixed on the scene of Jacob's loyalty mission. On the one hand, it's quite well written. Having Jacob call out Tali and her knee jerk dislike of Cerberus causing it to bother her was smart character interaction. On the other hand, I don't know what the point of the scene is in the overall story. Is this to give Tali some characterization? Jacob doesn't need it because he remains a side character.

I am also mixed on Liara being the source of info on Orianna. On the one hand, it’s a good way to condense the scenes and have less fluff. On the other hand, the way the game had the info come from one of Miranda’s contacts, who also asked if Miranda wanted to bring in other contacts, demonstrates the influence and ability Miranda has, which is good for her character. You do mention a contact, but it's just a mention. I suppose condensing wins out as she is a 2nd tier character in your story.

Shepard says to Garrus “If you see a woman that looks like Miranda at that space port and you don’t have a word from me or Miranda, I want to take down any escorts she has and extract her.”

The problem here is that Orianna will be with her family, so the default should not be to gun down whomever she is with. Hopefully Garrus and Zaeed have the sense to know the difference but it sounds strange.

The planning before Miranda’s loyalty mission made me think there was going to be a big battle, as Conservation of Detail usually dictates you shouldn’t bother detailing something you won’t use. However, the section didn’t need that big fight. You kept it short and focused on the conversations, which really were the driving force of that sequence and it worked.
Natureguy85 chapter 9 . 8/11/2014
Shepard’s thoughts after blowing up Purgatory are very good. This is really giving Shepard some character, something he largely lacked in the actual games beyond his can-do attitude. What really drives it is the attempts to justify his actions to himself. There is just one problem with it;

"A day after Tali had accepted his offer, he had probably destroyed whatever favorable impression she had of him as a person."

Nope! In fact, she'll never bring it up to him again!

While I still don't think you really carried it anywhere character development wise, I like that characters are at least noticing Shepard's crazy streak even if it doesn't really seem to affect them. Miranda speaking to the Illusive Man was a nice twist and I love how nonchalant TIM is about it. You capture TIM's character very well. I would have liked to see at least one more of these scenes later in the story.

Garrus and Tali have great thoughts about Shepard’s actions. Garrus is especially good for those of us who have played the games and know how hardened Garrus has become toward criminals. You might expect Garrus to simply approve of Shepard’s decision to destroy the Purgatory, but the fact that it gives even him pause is telling. Tali’s finally losing her perfect image of Shepard is exactly right. This leads really well into their conversation together about their own concerns over Shepard. I’ll have more on that when it comes up in a few chapters.

I like how you laid these sections all out, back to back. It gives a nice flow from one character to the next. This is a very good chapter.
mordreek chapter 36 . 7/4/2014
Awesome story, very nice merging of canon lines and non canon story. The snarkfest between garrus and well...everyone else kept me laughing.
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