I do neither own nor claim Mass Effect. I do however claim this story as mine.

"On a cosmic scale, a human life only lasts for a millisecond, and even Humanity's whole existence is nothing more than the blink of an eye. From this point of view, it is not surprising that the events in our universe seem chaotic and futile to the human observer. With their limited senses, which only allow them to see a splinter of reality, Humanity seeks insight to the cosmos. This powerless and maybe even because of this so admirable effort is called 'science and research'.
Trapped on his little planet which he threatens to destroy in his conflict between emotion and reason, the human struggles for
understanding…. which only leads to new, and even bigger mysteries.

This zealous search for the very last answers let the humans feel that their world is only part of an unimaginable universal order, where powers and forms of life exist that play a central role in it.

Let us imagine, that, under circumstances that our narrowed minds cannot yet describe, Humanity would get into the wake of cosmic events.

A new era of human history would begin … the era of Mankind in the future."

- Opening words of "Perry Rhodan: Unternehmen STARDUST" by K.H. Scheer. First published in 1961, Perry Rhodan is the largest and longest running sci-fi dime novel / pulp magazine series in the world, with a new chapter being released every week for over fifty-five years.

Prologue: ad astra

I stood on a hill in the dead of night and looked down on the city lights.

That may not sound like something of interest, but if you knew the meaning of the hill and the importance of the city, you maybe would reconsider.

I had left the estate roughly ten minutes ago, fed up with a lot of people and their pompous idiocy. How they spoke of the war… as if they had contributed to it in any way, and done their part. None of them had stood in the frontline. None of them had done things that mattered. Yet here they were, hoping to claim a part of the glory. Like goddamned vultures.

Yet when I closed my eyes and inhaled the air, my anger had long cooled, replaced by calmness with a hinge of sadness. The air still had a stench to it. Something iron, reminding me of blood spilled and machines at war. I pulled a cigarette from my suit's pouch and lit it up, feeling oddly calm.

I knew that I was now ready.

I rose up my left arm and activated my tool. The orange light illuminated the ground around me, yet faded against the city. I typed a few holographic keys, then lowered my arms and looked out again.

"Ready for recording."

The tool's synthetic VI voice, although programmed to be softly female, formed a sharp contrast to the near-silence around me. I was not used to quietness anymore, even though it had once offered some sort of treacherous comfort.

A small impulse in my cheek - the microphone implant signaled its readiness as well.

Seconds became minutes as all the memories I had held back came crushing in my mind. I let myself get washed away for a moment, then sorted the flood into the correct order. Faces. Places. Plans, combat and blood. Ashes and corpses. Total victory and utter defeat. Hatred, sadness, joy, and love.

It challenged my willpower to resist this storm, but I had gone used to it as time passed.

The time to remember, to relive, had come.

When I was done, I threw the cigarette stub to the ground, stared up into the starlit sky and remembered the time when I was a boy on Earth, looking up in wonder and awe at the possibility that somewhere out there, there might be other people that were looking into their skies as well.

As I should learn, the galaxy was vast and sometimes cruel… But full of wonders and beauty.

I let my thoughts circle around my mind. When the storm finally settled, I began to speak.

"Tell me…"

Tell me – you have heard this story before, have you not?

A young man or woman suddenly and without any at least partially logical explanation finds him- or herself in a foreign, yet familiar alternative universe.

Familiar, because supposedly fictional.

They interact with people they thought to be product of some creative writer's mind, use tools or items that are supposed to be scientifically impossible. Using magic or laser rifles to take on enemies they should not encounter, riding on dragons or in a starship, breathing underwater or the atmosphere of foreign worlds.

And of course, one way or another, leaving their mark in that respective universe's book of history.

I must admit, I never considered these stories to be more than a writer's daydream of glory, of breaking out of their regular lives. Who am I to judge?

The worst ones shape their alter ego to be the ultimate badass, maybe even taking over the 'hero' role from the stories 'regular protagonist'. We know that type of writing as 'Mary' or 'Gary Sue.'

The best ones consider themselves, their standing in a potentially existing alternative universe. They play around with the foundations, try their best to calculate the inner workings of their chosen world.

A work you have to admire, because these people not only open up the gate, but dare to take a few steps through it - even if they can never truly cross the threshold.

And yet, I would have never considered these stories to be more than mere fantasy. Something people write to express themselves, or to entertain their audience.

I was wrong.

Years after the events that shook up the galaxy of Mass Effect, I finally think that it is appropriate to contribute my own experience to the myriads of stories that our society has to tell the coming generations. How we made a stand against all odds. What it cost to secure our children their future.

How we paid the price with the blood of billions.

Everyone who reads these lines will be aware of the greater context – the conflict I'm referring to will remain in the galaxy's collective memories for millennia to come. And even our own mission, although arguably only a splinter of the entire effort has been raised to such heights that most likely, everyone reading this will probably have a very clear picture in their head about what to expect.

I do not claim my personal history to be more interesting, let alone important than those of a lot of other people who gave their everything for our victory, as bitter as it may have been at times.

But I fought and lived alongside some of the greatest beings in the history of our galaxy, people whose names shine much brighter than my own. And I believe that my… for multiple reasons, 'unique' perspective may be of interest for the public.

Yet, I hope that my valued readers understand that I won't go into detail about every small facette, and occasionally I will shroud myself in silence and let history speak for itself. Even though it's been a while, I do not think that it would be wise of me to tear open wounds that have barely healed.

But frankly, it's myself and the… circumstances of my involvement in all of this that undoubtedly will raise the most question-marks, and that is putting it extremely mildly. I am not even sure that the following protocol of the events I witnessed is ever going to be released without heavy censoring and editing on my part.

As I mentioned before: Some things are best left unsaid, or are not my responsibility to speak of.

All I want to do is to present to you my own story.

Or rather, the interesting part of it.

Allow me to go back, way back to the place where it all began...

Chapter 0 - ?: Stranded

The shadows around my consciousness vanished and I regained control of my senses.

Bright light forced me to shut my eyes again. A light headache tugged on my nerves. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. On the second attempt, I looked up into a blue and clouded sky. I felt somewhat content to just stay on the ground.

I lay there for what I think was a minute or two, before my mind registered some rather disturbing things. First, I was laying on a surface made of a cool metal, most likely somewhere in the open. Second, I couldn't remember how I got there. Third, why the hell is the sky bent?

I snapped out of my stupor and quickly jumped back on my feet. Or, I tried to do so, at least. It probably looked like some drunkard trying to stand up after being kicked out of a bar at 2 AM - I even felt that way, for increased immersion. While I tried to steady myself, I noticed and reflexively grabbed my backpack, strapping it on without really thinking. I took a look around, feeling with chilling clarity that something was absolutely wrong.

It took me a moment to actually notice it, but then my blood froze in shock.

I stared around, not remembering this place at all. The only thing that my confused mind registered was, that it was definitely nowhere near my home. At least I had not heard of a big place with white skyscrapers around a large lake anywhere close to the town I lived in.

I glanced to the ground - a metal-plated walkway. Then I noticed the screeching sound above me - flying shuttles, dozens of them. I stared, dumbfounded, but something else caught my attention from the corner of my eyes. A large statue, blackish-grey, in the lake -

My heartbeat stopped for a second, all blood went from my face.

I stared at the monument of the Mass Effect relay. The Conduit.

My vision blurred and I felt the ground spinning around me. Luckily, there was a handrail to support myself on, and I barely managed to avoid fainting.

This is not real.

It didn't matter how often I blinked. The black statue stayed there, like to insult what little sanity I had left. With ragged breath and shaking hands, my thoughts being a mess, I gave in to the urge to sit back on the ground. My brain ... failed to process what my eyes told me. Maybe it just didn't want to understand it, fearing that I would only get unconscious again.

This is not real. It has to be a dream. Or worse.

One does not simply wake up on the fucking Citadel.

I stared down on the floor and started to count. A simple yet proven way to calm myself down. I counted to hundred, then dared to lift my gaze back to the statue. It was still there. Taunting me.

It took me another minute or two to regain enough composure to stand up again and take a look at my surroundings.

If I hadn't finally gone insane, I really was on the Citadel.

That black statue in front of me was indeed the miniature Mass Relay, the very same which plays such a big role at the end of Mass Effect 1.

Something caught my eye, and I gazed to the left, stunned. Some Asari - Asari! - were standing on the far side of the bridge. Two asari dressed in elegant robes, who looked like they had been in the middle of a conversation before, but…

Now, they were looking at me. Eyeing me, curious and... warily.

Another part of my mind snapped back into place and made me form another coherent thought.

I need to get away from here. It was more of a flight instinct than a real thought, honestly. I couldn't stay on the Presidium, in the open, with no wall to protect my back and strangers looking at me like predators eying a rabbit... or that's at least how I felt - with rising waves of anxiety washing through me.

But where should I go?

The Wards. The Presidium was off-limits for the common folk, I suddenly remembered, although every thought still felt... dampened, somehow. Like I was caught in some sort of a dream sequence..

I could have gotten into real problems if I stayed where I was without a permission. And I had exactly nothing.

I suddenly realized that I had neither a clearance for the presidium, nor anything else which could have helped me.

Especially not here, where people use omnitools for everyth... Omnitools?

I am in the future. Or another universe.

Another shock made me tremble. I felt another sudden surge of panic and the blood pulsating in my veins. The shock and confusion became increasingly stronger, and the fear made everything worse.

I am in the future, I do not know anything, Am I on the Citadel? Does this even happen? Is this a dream?

Fuck, I need to get outta here, now!

I somehow managed to escape from the Presidium down into the Wards - Tayseri Ward, as I should learn later - without raising an alarm or getting arrested. I have no idea how – everything I remember is a blurred something made of black and red.

I regained my senses in a rather dark corner of an alleyway at the Lower Wards, hidden behind some crates and holding onto my backpack as if my life depended on it.

The relative darkness and the dimmed yet warm orange-red light, compared to the shining bright of the Presidium helped me to calm down and feel safer, but I am sure that it took at least some hours until I felt more than just confusion, fear, and the urge to hide myself.

Finally, I was able to shake it off and feel the solid ground beneath me.

I started to think again, and this time there was logic in it - and with the logic, the rest of my calm came back. Not that it meant that my hands had stopped shaking yet, or that I felt content with what happened, but, well… it was a start.

A thought that gave me cynic comfort was that it wasn't all bad. There were worse fates than waking up in the Mass Effect Universe. At the very fucking least the bad guys won't succeed in the end... maybe. Hopefully.

If my memory serves, I didn't just feel confused or afraid, but also... kinda excited?

That may be difficult to understand for some people. But I consider myself to be someone who always tries to make the best of a situation at hand.

And I mean, seriously, who doesn't sometimes want to enter a fictional world? I guess there were a hell lot of people out there who would have wanted to take my place here, maybe embracing it even more than I did. Which made me wonder... why the hell me? A thought that struck me out of absolute nowhere, but there it was.

Usually, if someone does some dimension-travel BS like this, he has an important mission. Or some important skills. Or he's just awesome.

In my usual sarcastic attitude, I guessed the latter to be the case. At least I didn't recognize any unusual physical or other traits on me that would've marked me out as some sort of a 'chosen one'.

I was always relatively content being the average male 21 years old gamer slash student slash cynical… whatever, really. And nothing of my person had, as far as I could see, changed 'on this side'... which was at least something. The world may have turned upside-down, but at least my freakin' glasses were still on my face.

I shrugged, a wary smile on my lips. I would see, feeling an odd sense of calm and a fair dose of excitement. For now, it had to be enough that I was there... something that thousands, maybe millions of people would envy me for... if I came back and they believed me, that is. It was not only strange, unsettling and well, a bit frightening, but also some sort of a chance.

But I am ready to bet any sum that those envious people don't really want to be in my position at that time either. I couldn't even remember how I got there in the first place. The last thing I knew was that I had left my apartment as usual in the morning – once I turned the key around, nothing. Only a dark gap.

Going back to the Presidium and searching for clues about what the fucking hell had happened there was not an option either. Without an ID, without any paperwork and with 21st century clothing that undoubtedly would make me stand out, C-SEC would probably arrest me immediately. And being the central (political) hub of the galaxy's capital, the Presidium was constantly monitored, so even if I could avoid them, they would have me nailed down within few hours.

And that would be ... unpleasant for me – because I was either not a registered citizen of the Systems Alliance, or even if I somehow was in one of their data bases, chances were high that I was missing since 2015. With any more bad luck, some really bad people would take quite some interest in me - and not of the pleasant type. In essence: I was trapped. Going back was not an option, so there was only one possible course of action: Moving forward.

I thought about my next steps, but I was lacking so many things and so much more things were uncertain. I pushed back the desperation by forcing a pattern on myself - starting with the essentials.

Which date was this exactly? Obviously sometime after the First Contact War in 2156, otherwise there would have been no chance of me getting away. Either I would have been an 'unknown alien', or an 'enemy combatant'.

After the Battle of Earth in 2186? Unlikely, the Citadel would be a pile of rubble.

There was the option of "a long time after the Reaper invasion"… but I preferred to not even consider it. The implications would have been devastating.

If I had to put my money on the line, I would have gone with early ME1. The security level was rather low (otherwise I would have never been able to flee from the Presidium), there was no debris or visible damage, and I remembered the area from Mass Effect 1. Of course, there was no way of being sure about it. Hell, I couldn'teven be sure if this was indeed a different dimension or just freaking time-travel... 170 years is enough time to forget something like a video game franchise. I felt a bout of dizziness and forced that topic down on my priority list. Philosophical questions were absolutely not what I needed now.

I didn't have an omnitool to check these things. For that matter, I also didn't have a firearm to protect myself, nor the knowledge how to use one... a very critical skill to have in an upcoming or ongoing Reaper apocalypse. I don't even have a translator to speak with the aliens. And to put the icing on the pile of shit, I had no idea how to get my hands on any of these items.

At least I was able to take care of my grumbling stomach – the backpack contained my lunch package and a bottle of water. The meagre meal helped soothing my unrest, and I decided to check all the items I was carrying with me.

My glasses were still on my nose. They shouldn't be too much of a problem, though; if I was correct, then problems like nearsightedness could be cured for free. Unfortunately, they would make me stand out for now.

Suddenly, a certain serviceman in a certain fanfiction with the same problem in a similar situation came to my mind. I had to bite back an ironic grin. Maybe that particular story could be of use to me, too.

My wallet. I highly doubted that Euros were an accepted currency… but maybe I was able to trade them to a collector or someone like that. Maybe an antiquities dealer. That notion gave me the creeps.

My cellphone. Not a smartphone, but a good old - emphasis on old - and sturdy "Handy". Yes. And only we Germans call our cell phones like that. I do not know why, but as a certified cynic I suspect a rather hilarious and really dumb story behind it. Anyway, I considered it dead weight at that point. I actually tried calling someone - to no avail. Well, for now, I kept it – it could have come in… handy.

Nice to know that I'm still able to make bad puns.

Some other useless stuff got sorted out as well, like the key to my apartment. I stared at it for a few very tense moments, barely containing an outburst of hysteria. The rest of the stuff - for example, paper, pens, pencils, went back into the backpack. I never went to university with more stuff than I had to use - something I regretted right now, but at least I had to carry less burden with me.

I was clothed in black jeans, regular street shoes,a white t-shirt, and a thick black weather-resistant jacket with a hell lot of bags. Unusual clothing for a space-station with a rather warm climate, but well, what options did I really have. Pyjamas would've been… much, much worse.

A package of cigarettes and a lighter. I had a feeling that there were a lot of things more likely to kill me than nicotine - especially now, I though with slight amusement. Hey, and maybe they even had a cure for lung cancer?

I took one of the cigarettes out and rolled it between my fingers, finally sighing and lighting up. I took a few drags and stared at the wall when a thought struck me.

Maybe I shouldn't smoke in public.

The brand and the fuel-lighter, not to mention the signature stench of burning tobacco could've given me away. Maybe smoking was even forbidden on the Citadel. I took another drag, but made a mental note to resist the temptation whenever possible.

Finally, my wristwatch. It was made from steel and at least looked rather expensive. Better hide it, before someone thinks it's a good idea to rob me.

And finally and arguably the most important asset - my knowledge about the Mass Effect Universe.
Some kind of a bitter victory really, finally being able to put all those hours of browsing around in the ME wiki instead of doing 'useful' stuff to good use. Not to mention all the time that I actually spent in the games or reading the myriads of fanfictions out there. Lots of useful information was hidden in these 'fictions' – alternate universes, what-could-have-been-ifs, stuff like that. Once more, the implications of all of this made my head spin.

But then I had an idea. I turned it around, considered it, compared it to my other options and thought it over. Then I accepted it with a tired snort as the only logical conclusion.

A lot of the shape was still missing, but it gave me the impulse to rise back from the ground regardless. For the first time since I 'arrived' here, I felt something like determination and a purpose. It definitely raised my spirits and made it possible to ignore all the oddities for now.

If Commander Shepard was out there, I needed to find him and to join his crew - regardless of the cost.

It may sound pathetic, but consider this: Did I have any other real choice?

It wasn't a matter of being cool, or "Hey, cool, I'm with Shepard!" Of course it would've been cool to be one of the heroes in this tale, I would be lying if I say anything else.

I was fully aware that I was by no means a soldier. I was motivated, yes, but I was also realistic enough to know that morale alone doesn't let you survive a firefight. I lacked fitness and I definitely lacked the skills. Hell, I had never fired a gun in my whole life! And even if I by some miracle managed to become a member of Shepard's elite squad, there certainly was going to be a lot of sweat, blood and pain involved. The image of Garrus taking that infamous missile to his face appeared before my inner eye and I flinched for a second. There wasn't a guarantee to survive. Much more experienced guys bite the bullet during the trilogy.

But if the Reaper War hadn't ended yet, then it didn't really matter if I was in the thick of it with the best team in the whole galaxy or if I was a civilian trying to survive on my own.

Hell, if the Reapers wouldn't get me, then C-SEC would. As I said, it was far too risky going back to the Presidium, so even if there was the key for my return I couldn't grab it now, and everything inside me opposed the idea of giving up that easily anyway. Fleeing the Citadel wasn't an option either. How, without papers, and where to? Even just staying undetected was difficult enough, I didn't have credits and couldn't get a job - at least not one where I wouldn't have to put my life on the line anyway.

So, if I had arrived after the whole trilogy – a possibility I absolutely refused to accept – I might have as well surrendered already.

It may sound strange – but the crew of the NORMANDY were the only people who both had the ability to help me and I could trust - to an extent. Every other option would offer even higher risks.

With that settled, I knew I had to move. I knew that it would take everything to prove myself. Shepard would have no use for dead weight aboard his ship. And one way or another, time was ticking against me. And so, I prepared to face whatever fate had in store for me. Not out of pride, but out of necessity.

Just pretend that all this is some kind of a campaign with missions to accomplish and goals to achieve. I fletched my teeth as if to grin, but it ended as a grimace. Keeps you from thinking too much about how ... impossibly crazy all of this is.

I took a deep breath, then I took a walk. I left the dark corner and the alleyway. This time, I didn't get overwhelmed by everything… but I still felt a bit unsteady and uncertain. At least I was ready to take everything in now. I leaned against the black display window of what appeared to be a store and took a long look at the road.

A big city with dark skyscrapers. Lots of stores. Skycars were flying high up. And people everywhere – turians, salarians, asari, a few humans even, calming my worst fears. One or two krogan. Even a hanar. No one took notice of me. The aliens and skycars aside, I almost felt like I was on a busy marketplace somewhere back home – Hamburg, maybe.

That illusion was lost in the moment I turned my gaze towards the sky. Or more accurate, the stars. I could see two of the other Citadel arms from where I was standing. Two black surfaces before the soft violet of the Widow Nebulae. And on this black, there were veins of orange light, slightly pulsating. It was hypnotically beautiful.

But it was another sight which truly took my breath. Between the Wards... a giant of a spacecraft. I had know that it had to be around somewhere, guarding the Citadel, but it was still a shock to see it in person. Was that really… the DESTINY ASCENSION?

It had to be either the famous flagship of the Citadel fleet, or a successor. Four fins as opposed to the usual three on Asari ships. And the size. Only if you'd see it with your own eyes, you realized just how big that thing really was. And SOVEREIGN was even bigger? Help…

And despite its size, its movements... the whole design looked graceful as it drifted through space. It reminded me of the big animals of the sea, as strange as that might sound. They may seem plump and clumsy in form, but when they're in their element...?

Did I just compare the ASCENSION to a whale?

I stared up, still not really believing what I was seeing, and then it slowly started to sink in.

This was the Citadel, the center of galactic power, and it was the future.

Until now, I was still a little bit unsure if I wanted to stay here or rather go home. Now I was determined that I, at the very fucking least, wanted to take a long and good look at the possible future of Humanity. And maybe even help to save it from a murderous race of squid-machines.

On the other hand... The sheer size of this space station made me feel like an ant. And that was exactly what I was in this vast galaxy. I was just a single man. If I went down, right now, I would not be missed. And getting lost was very easy around here. The universe of Mass Effect was everything but a peaceful playground…

Shaking myself out of this line of thought, I reminded myself that standing around here was not going to help at all - so I decided to tackle the problems one at a time. Join the Crew. Hunt Saren. Destroy the Collectors. Stop the Reapers. Done that before. I must admit, I chuckled at the thought.

I drafted a quick plan. First: Find out which date this is, then adjust. Second: Get some credits. Third: Buy the necessary tools to survive, and some food. Fourth: Find out how to join Commander Shepard's Crew, or at least how to get home again.

Admittedly, it was not much of a plan, but at least it was an illusion of a plan.

I began the search for a store to sell some of my items when my gaze fell on my reflection in the black glass and I realized something.

I needed a new name and identity.

It should be pretty obvious that I just couldn't run around saying "Hey, by the way folks – I'm from the past!"

Two unpleasant scenarios. If this was a different dimension, then I would be in trouble anyway, because no one would believe me… but even if I was 'just' in the future, whoever caught interest could find me in some database - and figure out that I was born nearly two centuries ago. After all that incompetence and outright viciousness shown in the Alliance, I had a good reason not to trust the human government. And if someone like Cerberus got their filthy hands on information about a time-traveler…

I have seen what Cerberus did to its test subjects. In all seriousness, death might have been preferable to the torture they put Jack, David Archer and numerous other people through.

Getting a solid and 'alternative facts'-proof biography would require a lot of research, a lot of thinking and quite a bit of conviction. I had to crank it into my head so that I would almost believe it to be true myself.

In the great fanfiction 'Mass Vexations', the self-insert protagonist Art was an Earthborn whose fake story was, in essence, that he got onto the Citadel by a drug-induced 'accident' and on a freighter. Unfortunately, that story had some severe holes… although I had to agree that everything differing from 'Earthborn' would be far too risky.

One can maybe claim to be a child of Earth without a too big chance of getting traced… but that was not going to work for a colony world background. Human colonies were small. Everyone was registered or known by others, and even if you could pull such a stunt, your lack of knowledge about that colonies unique culture would ruin the entire cover.

And even 'sticking to the classic' wasn't easy. I somehow had to conceal the fact that I had basically no idea about 22th century daily lifestyle - among other things.

I would have to pick wisely.

I remained silent and observed my mirrored image.

It… wasn't really a special face. You put me in one of those mercenary armors, and I would've probably looked like one of the generic mob enemies. The only feature I ever thought worth mentioning were the steely blue eyes, which always look tired yet alert, no matter the time of the day. Maybe the lips, just a little bigger than the average and amplifying the emotions I express with them - trademarks being sarcastic smiles and ironic grins, as well as sometimes deep tiredness. Other than that? Nothing extraordinary. Dark blonde hair, cut short. Pale, but healthy looking skin. The usual three-day beard which had turned into a seven-day beard… I looked like a crook, and was somewhat proud of it.

I did have a different name in reserve already. Among other things, I tend to play with words and letters, when I am bored. And one day, I had played with my own name. I had taken its eight letters and added an additional "S" for the sound. At that time, it was just a little thing to play with, and I thought it to be… let's just say, 'interesting'.

Sounds like the way one would name his player character in a game. I smiled, seeing my lips forming a crooked grin, and with that, it was basically decided.

"I am Jess Raven." I softly told my mirrored image and saw the grin turning into a genuine smile.

Addendum, May 2017: Ladies and Gentlemen! This chapter, orginally released in March 2015, got heavily reworked in May 2017 to improve its originally horrible style of writing. I have greatly improved my English, and as a writer in general ever since I started, so I hope I succeeded in making this prologue reflect it. Please let me know in the reviews - I try and answer every single review that I get. Plus, another big shoutout to 5 Coloured Walker for enduring all of this!
For those of you that want to read the original prologue - you will find all the original chapters as a seperate story on my profile shortly. Enjoy the read!

Orginal A/N, March 2015: Greetings, folks! My name is RedRaven, and this is my first major fanfiction project. I know, I know – self-insertion fanfictions always tend to be a lil' problematic, to say the least, and have to be treated carefully. I'll try my best though to ensure that this one is as "realistic" as I can get – meaning that I try my very best to act exactly like I would in RL. Though if anybody has (constructive) critic to add – feel free to do so!

Some infos on what I wanna do with this: This story spans the entirety of ME1 to ME3 and I seriously think about adding a fourth "chapter" post-war, of course non-canon. The "raw plot" and many of the details are already planned, from ME1 to ME3, but I am an extremely lazy writer so I'll take my sweet time releasing updates... this story will be finished though, so don't worry. One new chapter per month is my declared goal, at least.

Now, I wanna add some "thank you's" before we start with our story. First, to my fellow writer and friend Armnorn, who is as ME-addicted as I am and helps me with both beta-reading and the details of the story. (Lil' spoiler: He will enter the story as well...).

The second would be HerrWozzeck, of course. While my story will have many references to other fanfictions – there are few ways around it, since I read more fanfictions then I actually played the games - , HerrWozzeck and his "Mass Vexations" were what inspired me to this one. Hell, I read the whole MV2-thing in one day!

And last but not least are all the other very talented writers in the fanfiction-universe, whose stories I have enjoyed over the past few years. To name a few who are especially important to me: Detective-Mason with his "Antiquated Love." Jack Trader and "Shining Bright". Animus of Masada and "First Contact". Thessian Shadows with "When All Was Lost". B18932 with "Paragon Reinterpretations".TREBOR117 with his "Stuck in a World of Fiction." And lots and lots of other people who deserve to be mentioned here, because their stories shaped my view on the Mass Effect Universe and formed the foundation for my own.

Anyway... have fun, and please enjoy!

P.S.: Yeah, and as I really am a German, please be tolerant with my English – and report any grammatical issues to me.