So, this story has been laying around for awhile with no updates. Why, you ask?
Well, two reasons. One, I partially lost interest in it. Sucks, but as I'm not a professional writer, I just don't always have it in me to continue writing stuff. Two, I'm hella depressed. Which means I find it difficult to even get out of bed some days, let alone write anything meaningful. With their powers combined, they prove a force that is… well, something. But really it just means that it's a (metaphorical) double whammy that (literally) kicks my ass.
But I still want to do something with this story. Just, not in its current form. Like I said, I'm not a professional writer. I'd like to be, but that takes years of practice, which I don't have yet. So, how do I get there? By writing! Preferably, fanfiction, because it's much easier than creating a whole universe myself. But, wait, that means… dear god.
Yeah, I'm probably going to be writing stuff that's crap. This story, looking back on it? I already dislike it, I barely even want to read it. Back when I was writing it? I looked back a couple years and cringed at what I wrote before. And at that point? I disliked my previous writing before as well. And that suckitude keeps going back, all the way to when I was writing fanfiction for starcraft in elementary school. Long story short: I like to write, but to git gud I have to keep writing, with what basically amounts to growing pains. Which means interesting ideas that aren't well executed, until suddenly one day they are.
So, how does that relate to this story? I'm going to rewrite it, and try to implement more ideas that I personally like to see in stories that I read. I'm also going to be writing it all out in a rough draft, the whole story (hopefully), and then refine it. And keep refining it, until it's in a releasable state. And then I'm going to get a beta reader to go over it, because it actually won't be in a releasable state. And then, I'll be releasing it bit by bit, once the whole thing is actually done, instead of cooking up each chapter as it comes.
Unfortunately, that means there won't be an update for some time. Like, maybe not until Fallout 5 or ME Andromeda 2, that's the timeline we're talking here. Hell, this story might end up even just falling away completely, and it'll never update again. But I don't believe in lying, and I'm not going to keep anyone's hopes up unnecessarily. I think you should know what's going on with this, especially if you're still holding out for another chapter. On the bright side, when that glorious day comes and this story is rolled out again, it'll be done and you'll have a steady drip feed of content.
So, on to personal comments about this story and people's comments/gripes/questions about it. I have individually responded to each review (exception being anon reviews), but I'd like to get my thoughts out there so you lot don't think I'm a monkey with internet access.
1: Human quarian relations being phenomenal out of the gate. Unrealistic. Yeah, I know. There's actually a lot going on in the back of my mind as to why this is going on, along the lines of 'both sides are aware of the risks, but they see the potential benefits and decide to go for it'. There's also an unstated understanding, where it's more of a business transaction between the two species, and they're both essentially using the other (the humans want more ships and eezo understanding, quarians want a place to really get their footing and grow), but instead of calling each other out, they're being polite about it. There's also the matter of humans seeming to be more progressive as a whole. That's partially due to my own leanings as a person, and partially because we've only seen the nice sides of humanity so far. There are still human bastards, corruption is still around, and humanity is certainly not the end-all be-all of civilizations. But, given their history and consequential mindset, they are more progressive in certain areas *cough*AI*cough* than the council races.
Going back to the original point: I simply didn't do a good job at communicating those thoughts and reasonings in a way that was subtle but still recognizable. I'll have to fix that in the future.
2: On to the next point. Quarians trying to settle, turians flipping them the bird, and generally people being bastards. I'm… not too sure whether this was a good or bad idea. It gives the quarians a reason to leave citadel space, but at the same time it potentially conflicts with how all involved parties would act. Let's settle issue #1 then: The Council has made no moves to aid the quarians since the Morning War, and when the quarians tried to settle on Ekuna, we're given a snippet that the Council threatened them with force to move out. No one knows if the Council would have granted them it if the quarians hadn't squatted on the planet. All we know is the quarians settled and then went to the Council for permission, who promptly dismissed their claim and evicted them, giving Ekuna to the Elcor.
Honestly, a bad situation all around. But, it does set a precedent that the Council is willing to forcibly remove Quarians, and given that the Quarians are looked down on and are no longer a Citadel Associate member, they don't have much weight to throw around. In this case, might makes right.
So, what are the Quarians to do? They can't go to the Terminus because it's a shithole and they'd be attacked by opportunists. They can't go to Council space because nobody wants to give them aid or even a chance to resettle. So, that leaves going back to Geth space, or try for unexplored space. The choice is pretty obvious, in my opinion.
As for setting up conflict lines between Quarians/humans and the Council, I actually have an out of universe reason. But, that ties into another curiosity: the council races have done fucking nothing for centuries.
Ok, not nothing. But it sure feels like it. The Asari and the Salarians have been out in space for roughly 3000 years. In that time, they've met a few other races, they've set up the Council, and have had a few wars. And all of it is based on Mass Effect technology, i.e. Prothean tech, i.e. Reaper tech, i.e. Leviathan tech. Ok, so over time they make improvements to guns, they make some better armor, and generally are progressing. Slowly.
And humans come onto the scene, 3000 years later, and their general ability to fight is only slightly subpar to the Turian's, not accounting for naval size. They invent medi-gel, which is a game changer on the battlefield. They also bring the idea of carriers to the table, as an idea with it's own merit. Compare to the other races of using fighters as a screen for combat, with no dedicated carriers.
Humans are using ME tech for a little under 40 years. Council races have had it for 3000. Of these two, the humans are the more innovative and have generally done more with it. Seem a little off to you?
Now, there are both in-universe reasons and out-of-universe reasons for this. Out of universe, Bioware just needs to set up the game and give us a playground to fly around in. Until you're invested in the game, you have no reason to care about what's been going on in the other races' pasts. So, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. It doesn't need to. And when you add in the idea of humans being important to the galactic stage, there needs to be a balance of being the new kids on the block versus having the capability to compete with the other races. So the other races are nerfed, in comparison.
Then there's the in-universe reason: Reapers want us to develop on their terms. By providing the Citadel and the Mass Relays, we follow them and develop along desirable paths. Compared to the galactic scale, FTL is slow. But then we have the Mass Relays, which makes it fast - so why bother developing anything faster, or better?
That's the key point - why bother? All the races have their path set out before them, giving them the illusion of being masters of their own fate. They don't have a reason to keep advancing. In real life, a great deal of advancements in technology are made because of conflict. We need the edge, so we cook up some ideas and try to pummel the enemy with slightly fancier hammers. For every concept that's made, something eventually arises to counter it.
Conflict drives advancement. We'll advance without it, but much slower. After all, there's nothing like facing defeat and possible death to make you invest into keeping you alive. So, going back to the Council races: aside from the Rachni and the Krogan, they don't have much conflict to drive them to advance. And in those cases, they did something to get them out of a sticky situation. Rachni? Uplift the Krogan. Krogan turn on you? Create the genophage.
And that's why I have the quarians leave and join the humans: conflict. They'll have their own agenda and goals, which can conflict with the Council's. It'll be a cold war, with both sides arming up and researching. Normally, that would be bad for long term survivability. But then again, we know the Reapers are coming, so they'll need every advantage they can get.
"But wait!" someone asks. "What about the Crucible and the Catalyst, and the choices, and rewriting synthetic and organic life?"
My response: No. It's deus ex-machina bullshit with a technicolor slideshow slapped on. The Catalyst and Crucible does not exist in this fanfiction, would not exist in Mass Effect 3 if I had a choice in the matter, and furthermore cannot exist to make a good story. If that means I can't come up with a good way to resolve the Reapers, so be it. Everyone dies. Rocks fall, everyone go home.
...It probably won't come to that. Probably.
Long story short, I'm setting up a scenario where everyone advances in a believable way so that the ending doesn't suck ass. Roughly 1000 words later, I'm ready to move on to the next point.
3: Fallout 4 tech is OP. And a bit unrealistic. I'm aware of that, and I'm trying to keep true to both Mass Effect and Fallout. Mass Effect has a physics defying element, and all the baggage that adds on (AKA space magic, otherwise known as biotics). Fallout has easy fusion, laser weapons, plasma weapons, synths, and even literal magic (the magician in Nuka World, seriously, it's dumb). And then you compound those facts with a strange retro-futuristic world ravaged by nuclear war. Is it fun? Hell yes. Is it realistic? Not really. Certain aspects, yes, but certainly not all of it.
What does this all mean for me as a writer? In a nutshell, I have to decide what should be realistic, what should stay true to Mass Effect, and what should stay true to Fallout. Should plasma weapons really be a thing? Not really, at least not in the form they're given. But they exist in lore, and I'll be damned if I say they suddenly aren't being used anymore when they're clearly one of the best weapons in the game. I'll be attacked if I include them in any meaningful way, and I'll be attacked if I don't. Personally, I'd rather be attacked for including it, even if it means not adhering to how plasma works in real life. Sucks, but here's the thing: a story is meant to be entertaining.
Sure, try to keep everything more or less realistic, but the goal is to entertain. Mass Effect has an easily traversable galaxy, blue alien babes, space magic, and Robo-Cthulhus. Does that make it less enjoyable? I dare say, "no". Fallout has visible spectrum laser weapons, plasma guns, miniature nuclear bombs (plus their specially designed launchers), genetically modified humans that look like yellow play-doh mixed with raider gothic AKA super mutants, geckos-turned-Deathclaws, power armor that has batteries that run out after 20 minutes (or ten hours if you look at it as in-game time, but is that really any better?), a whole fucking mess of robots that vary wildly in intellect, size, and processing power, and finally, zombies in all but name.
Ok, so maybe not as realistic as Mass Effect, but it has a theme going for it, and moreover it doesn't detract from the fun. Really, it adds to it. Granted, these are video games, which you interact with, so gameplay takes precedence over story, but my point stands. The point is to entertain. I have tried, and I'll continue trying not to make any egregious mistakes. Point out things that I have gotten wrong, or have maybe forgotten to include, but please don't attack me. Insulting my intelligence because I'm trying to juggle Mass Effect, Fallout, and reality in one story doesn't really help anyone. Some parts simply aren't going to make sense, and I'm going to have to make judgement calls when comparing how two things from different games interact.
Again: If I make a mistake, point it out in a constructive way, and don't just resort to personal attacks because I missed something or came to a faulty conclusion.
4: The timeline shifting in the story. My dilemma with mixing the two stories is that they take take place in time frames that are inherently exclusive. The Mass Effect series starts in 2183, Fallout 1 takes place in 2161, and Fallout 4 takes place in 2287. There are several ways I could go about integrating these two disparate realities, but the one I preferred the most was to have humanity be a power in its own right, like in Mass Effect. Of course, the problem is that humanity is still going nowhere fast by the end of Fallout 4. Despite having over two centuries to pull itself back together, the Commonwealth is (debatably) just as dilapidated as when the bombs first fell. Realistically, something should have happened in that time, beyond having one major settlement and lots of smaller ones littering the wastes.
I could go about setting the stage several ways, like changing how post-war America developed after the war and ignoring pretty much every game that's been released in the series, in favor of creating my own canon. Or I could change bits of Mass Effect lore and have them find Earth, and have them uplift humanity or something.
But in both these cases, the story would lose out on the lore that we already know and love. My philosophy when it comes to AU's and crossovers is to change as little of the source material as possible, and to evolve it when they collide. So, my goal is to preserve both games as much as possible - and that includes characters, because they are what compose and dictate a story.
Thankfully, I've been given an out by BioWare: the fact that the Milky Way races are relatively stagnant. Ultimately, the dates provided for the history of the Mass Effect universe are irrelevant until they pertain to humanity and give us a context. Until humanity is on the scene, the rest of the galaxy may as well be on hold. The reason the galaxy is the way it is, is to answer questions that BioWare needed to ask themselves so they could craft the story they wanted to tell. Humanity needs to be new, so there needs to be other races and a galactic community already established. There needs to be an external threat that we don't feel ready to face, so introduce the concept of Reapers. We need a way to get around the galaxy quickly, so introduce Element Zero and the Mass Relays.
Critics and observant players might ask why the Reapers happened to show up just as humanity is getting a foothold, or why humanity is so damn powerful compared to the other races given their relatively recent introduction. And if we're being realistic, it's for the sake of convenience.
So, I feel pretty justified in using that convenience and nudging the Mass Effect timeline forward a little bit, in order to preserve both timelines, both series' characters, and to have an interesting crossover.
5: This story isn't meant to be a story about how Fallout's humanity is so much better, and their tech is so cool, and how they'll clobber anyone who gets in their way, and they're just so badass and ~~~kawaii~~~
No. It's not interesting to read, and it's not interesting to write. I looked at the 'Humanity Fuck Yeah' subreddit (stories about humans generally being more badass than anything else out there), and with only a few exceptions, all the stories made me cringe so damn hard. If you're into that kind of stuff, check it out. If you're not, then check it out to see just how contrived a story can be when you base it off of a three word slogan.
In regards to Mass Effect, I guess I can see there being a certain catharsis in seeing characters getting their comeuppance when they've been purposefully obstinate or annoying (i.e. Udina, The Council, The Quarian Admirals). But to extend that to an entire species, based on a few bad apples? It just reeks of nationalist pride and jingoism that's based on a fictional setting instead of reality. Ew.
If that's the impression you've gotten from my story, then I deeply apologize for both misleading you, and for not keeping my writing to a better standard. All I can say in defense is that I'm still a novice when it comes to writing stories, and that this is what me practicing looks like. I'll just have to try and not rely on overused tropes without understanding why they're popular. Live and learn, I guess.
6. Some people asked why I didn't include more of the West Coast tech and nations, like the NCR or Big MT. Truth be told, that's because I didn't play as much New Vegas as I did Fallout 3, and I generally preferred 3 to New Vegas. I didn't care as much about the story, and I live in the DC area so seeing it in ruins was pretty gripping for me as a teen. Add in the fact that New Vegas had a much less polished map, and the areas were far more delineated, and I can see now why it didn't draw me in as much. There's also the fact I only played two of the DLC's, and can only restart so many times without feeling I'm running on the same start area before the game really opens up. I'll do it someday, but unfortunately not soon. There's also Fallout 1 and 2, but... eh. It's debatable how well they've held up, and I'm just not too keen on playing them.
That said, I do intend to try and incorporate more of the technology and lore that New Vegas + DLC brought to the table. I'm going to be going over that on the wiki, unfortunately, but I think it might be better than pretending it doesn't exist or something. I don't know, we'll see.
7. Right now, I'm heavily debating whether or not to include first contact and all the shenanigans that comes with it. I'm leaning towards omitting it and just skipping to the beginning of ME1, and put all the relevant information in either a timeline or have it revealed through in-story dialogue. I'll probably do both - have the big items covered over shortly in a timeline, like I did with humanity going from postwar to spaceflight, and then have the smaller details revealed naturally through dialogue and the scenarios Shepard will face.
As to why I'm thinking of skipping it? It comes down to what's interesting and what I know. I'm not a politician, I'm not a debater or negotiator. If I wrote down all this stuff about how the races meet and how they react and what they do, it'll either be revealed through short summaries about the battle and events that took place text-book style, or it'll be through the lens of characters that participated in said events. For most people, summaries and text-books are rather boring, so I'd prefer to go with the personal route. But, remember how I'm not a politician or a negotiator in real life? I have very little idea of how to write formal proceedings that decide the course of a nation, let alone the clash between two civilizations that are meeting for the first time. I could fake it, of course, and have something that's reasonably satisfying to read. But for anyone that has even a shred of knowledge about what that sort of stuff entails? It'll be agony to read. Moreover, I feel it will diminish the story.
Ever watch a TV show about doctors? Say, Scrubs, or House? One thing I've read online is how accurate Scrubs is to how a hospital really works. It doesn't have medi-babble (where characters are saying medical-sounding things that don't mean anything), and while it certainly is dramatized and acted, it feels and plays out authentically. The producers and writers really knew what they were constructing, and could make a relatable story despite most of the audience not knowing anything about the inner workings of a hospital. It wasn't always 100% true to a real hospital, but it was close enough.
As for House, well, I never watched it. But a simple google search about it tells me that it's generally regarded as entertaining, but thoroughly unrealistic. Doctors doing strange things, going about tests and analysis backwards, just all sorts of stuff. Entertaining, but not realistic.
I'd… prefer to avoid that as much as possible. I don't want a story where people have to work extremely hard to suspend their disbelief. And while I'm writing fiction, I want it at least based somewhat in reality. Some of the stuff I included in these chapters is complete hogwash, and while it serves a purpose (move the story forward to get to the good stuff), I felt uncomfortable writing it, and looking back it just seems nasty. I know the goal is to entertain, but I feel a certain amount of realism needs to balance it out.
You can make the argument about why I'm then writing a story about military and shooty stuff and space travel, but at least I have a baseline there - I can rely on what BioWare and Bethesda has already done. If I keep it true to the mechanics of the game, then at least the reader is already familiar with it and won't worry too much about whether the action is realistic. Because it isn't - these are games, with health bars and ability cooldowns to simulate reality. It's all an abstraction to link what those scenarios would be like in reality, and what the player experiences.
So going back to the First Contact War and all that jazz. Yeah, I could write it, but without significant study and internalization about how politics and negotiations work, I'd be spouting relative nonsense. Besides, the only reason we care about the Mass Effect universe is because the characters drew us in. I can do characters. Just, not bickering nations.
TL;DR Writers should write what they know, and I know jack all about international (or in this case intergalactic) politics. BioWare did a smart and skipped right to the interesting stuff, so I'm likely doing the same.
Alright, I think that wraps up my update on this story. I'm gonna start writing stuff now, and one day finish this. If you have additional questions or feel I neglected to mention something (because I probably did and don't realize it), then either shoot me a PM or leave a comment saying as much. Don't matter much to me which you choose, but I'd prefer if you don't do so anonymously. At least that way if I have a question about your statement in return, we can discuss it and I can edit in an appropriate answer.
Oh yeah, I'll be editing in more answers to questions if people do ask questions. It'll be on this chapter, it won't be a separate update, so check back here if you ask a question or are curious about what others will bring up. The edits will be going below this point, so don't worry about finding them.
Until next time.