Really, a Q&A?
Why not? It's not for posterity but mostly to clear a few things up and answer some questions. It was a long story and, despite my username, I do have a few things to say. Best of all, it brings the number of chapters out to an even 40.
So why'd you write this?
Simply put, I wanted more Mass Effect. ME2 was a phenomenal game with an astoundingly deep universe and some really wonderful characters. However, after playing Dragon Age and fully enjoying all the banter your group members had for each other, the lack of this in ME was distractingly noticeable. Teasing you with the elevator discussion between Garrus and Tali only exacerbated it. I wanted these characters to talk to each other and I figured I wasn't alone.
A lot of the praise I got in reviews commented on how the characters were in character. I was very pleased to hear that, because it's what was most important to me. When writing, I went back and made sure I could hear each line spoken in that character's voice. If not, I rewrote something until Claudia Black's dulcet tones or Bradon Keener's smooth talking echoed in my head. After all, if the characters don't feel natural, they're little more than OCs with stolen names.
Of course, they couldn't just sit around and talk to each other. They needed something to talk about. This meant I needed some kind of plot to drive them on and what better than something to bridge the gap between ME2 and ME3? TIM's none too happy with Shep taking off with all his stuff so that seemed like a good place to start. The rest starts 39 chapters back.
Cross your fingers for squad members actually realizing they have companions in ME3. More than anything else, I want my team members talking to each other in the trilogy's epic conclusion. Hey, why stop at teammates? If Udina's jaw doesn't hit the floor at the prospect of Shepard dating a quarian, I won't be satisfied.
Was this your first fan fiction?
Sure was. I blame Bioware and their habit of only giving us a glimpse of the worlds they create. Still, thanks for making me feel welcome!
Can we expect more?
That's a good question. There is one other idea I have kicking around in my head, but it would likely be a one shot rather than anything as big as Rec. Whether or not anything comes of it has yet to be seen. Maybe after I've had some time off from writing.
So wait, does that mean Reclamation's storyline is over?
Nothing's set in stone, but that's the idea. I felt now was a good time to end it with the immediate threat of Cerberus being squelched. Now that Shep and crew are able to get on with their original plans, that's delving in to ME3 territory. That's Bioware's story to tell… even though it will have no bearing on what I've written.
At least tell me what…
I left much of the ending open ended to show that, while the story's over, these characters are never done. Their lives go own, even if we don't get to see. I'm pretty sure I got everything plot related covered, but if I didn't, yell at me. As for the other things, that's mostly up to your own wild imaginations.
Does Jacob ever find love? That poor guy, it sure would be nice if he did. He'll have to make up his mind on who to chase, though.
Do they get the chip out of Jack's brain? She's suffered enough. I'm sure Mordin has a few miracles up his sleeve.
What happens to Xen? I'm not up on my quarian court systems. The last time I attended one I just shouted at the Admiralty Board until they said Tali was innocent to make me go away. I wouldn't expect Xen to get off easy, though, even if she was trying to help in her own unethical way.
What's up with that leak in the Alliance feeding Cerberus info? There's a black sheep in every family, isn't there? I'm sure Anderson can punch everyone involved in the face… then log on to their computers and mess around with their Facebook accounts.
What happens with Liara? Poor Liara; all alone with nothing to do but try and patch things up with Shep. Hopefully she can provide him with some useful intel now that Cerberus isn't doing that. Will she be back on the party? Only time will tell.
Are Garrus and Kasumi becoming an item? Who knows with those two? Garrus claims he's no xenophile, but that Kasumi's hard to resist. She's a shameless flirt, though, so maybe she really was just teasing him. I say Kelly should intervene and set them up in an awkwardly embarrassing manner.
So how do all the ladies react to Tali's ring? Boy, am I glad I didn't have to write this. Imagine a room full of battle hardened professional women squealing like excited little girls. Terrifying.
Would a control chip really work like that?
Heck if I know. I find "mind control" to be a bit iffy on the plot device list. I preferred to think of it more like a body control. It was implanted in the brain, not to turn the host in to a mindless zombie, but a puppet. It would use its own control to activate muscles. Project Reclamation having its way with Shepard was a lot easier to visualize. It's a glorified computer virus wreaking havoc on his cybernetic parts, moving his body for him. That's why his motions were somewhat clumsy. He managed to take one good shot at TIM while Xen was busy taking a fist to the stomach, but she quickly put him on autopilot for her fight with Tali. At least, that's what I see happening. If you have a better idea than me, please, go with that instead. It'll make me look better.
Bottom line, this is a galaxy with universal translators, space wizards, FTL travel, and omni-gel. Hopefully my version of a control chip wasn't too far out of line. I just needed some good way for Jack to give some exposition while still being under Cerb control.
Was there anything missing from this story?
There were a few things I wanted to add but could never really fit in or forgot about despite the laundry list of notes at the bottom of my Word file. Most of them I managed to somehow cram in to that final chapter, at least. Mostly it was just interesting snippets or humorous anecdotes and many of them were Reegar based. For example, I wanted to have him sort of fill Zaeed's shoes at least once and tell a few war stories. I also wanted Ashley to comment on how different his accent was from Tali's. She would just assume he took his pilgrimage to America. I also wanted to have Kasumi somehow smuggle out some food from the buffet, but it just didn't happen. Poor Garrus never did get his high dollar cuisine. Sorry, high credit cuisine.
Believe it or not, I really tried to have some heated jealousy from Tali. I mean, both Ash and Liara were ready to jump Shepard's bones at the drop of a hat and who can blame them? However, going back to the bit about keeping the characters as themselves, I just couldn't see it happening. Ash is hot headed, but she's smart enough to not try anything. Liara's a touch on the crazy side, but more of a Princess Stabbity than a home wrecker. Tali's not the type to snap her fingers, waggle her hips, and go, "he's mah man, slut." Basically, these people are all fairly level headed professionals and not guests on the Springer show. The best I could do was get Tali hopped up on genetic rewriting drugs to cloud her judgment and force her out of Shepard's arms while he attended a big crime lord shindig with arm loads of hotties.
One of my original ideas for the ending was to have an epilogue after the Reapers were defeated. The "where are they now" approach had been done to death, so I eventually decided against it. But rest assured that Reegar would have his own garage back on Rannoch where he'd spend his days fixing up the Dyban. It also would have Samara leaving again to track down Liara, making good on her oath. I tossed around the ideas of explaining the deaths of Thane and Mordin as well. I think killing Mordin was the final straw that made me turn down this ending. He was easily the best new squadmate this side of Kasumi.
Speaking of Kasumi, I tossed around the idea of having her stow away on the Hammerhead when going to Rannoch. I went back and forth on it but eventually turned it down. I somehow imagine she had the same internal battle herself.
Oh yeah, something I had planned up until it never happened was to actually end the story on Thane to sort of bookend the whole thing with his "solipsism." He would be lying in bed with his lungs burning and slip in to memories to ignore the pain. It would have been a memory of him looking in to the drive core, watching Shepard and Tali enjoy what they thought was a private conversation and how it brought a smile to his face to see, as Otacon would say, "love bloom on the battlefield." In the end, however, it just felt weird to suddenly snap away from the Normandy to a completely different area.
Also those baby pictures. Shep, you keep forgetting to ask Shala'Raan for those baby pictures!
Do you have something against Liara?
Not really. While I admit she's never been one of my favorites, I don't hate the girl. I never originally planned to write her out, but it just seemed right after seeing things leading up to it. I really wish I had more to go on with her. The comic book, Redemption, promised to give insight on her but it did nothing of the sort. Did you read it? Don't bother if you haven't, it was pretty dreadful. Instead of showing her mental shift from ME1 to ME2, it suddenly had her as this thuggin' biotic who don't take nothin' from nobody. Ugh. So instead of something interesting, we got Liara already inexplicably as her ME2 self before anything happened to cause it, krogans in the Blue Suns, and covers with five fingered salarians. People got paid to create that?
Sorry, I digress. Just don't get me started on their ideas to remove any mystery from TIM by giving him his own terrible comic. Anyway, no, I don't hate Liara. I really hope Lair of the Shadow Broker adds some actual meat to her personal storyline.
Having her leave also helped me mix things up when it came to recruitment. Thane, Zaeed, Kasumi, Samara, and Jack all left at the beginning to do their own things. Thane stayed away to spend his last few months with his son. Kasumi came back that same day. (I started writing her in even before her DLC was announced, basing her character off her audio files. She was just too awesome to not bring back and she quickly became one of my favorite characters to write as well as Tali's BFF.) Zaeed appeared again but did not join. Samara appeared again but did join. Jack appeared again but was an "enemy" of sorts. Whether or not she rejoins is up to your imagination. Ashley showed up and was more than happy to join. Reegar showed up, refused at first, but later agreed after a change of plans. Liara wanted to join but eventually broke down and left. Each one was different and I'm pretty pleased with how it happened.
You took an M rating. Why was it relatively tame?
I'm not here for creepy fap fiction. While I did go for some fluff here and there, the main point of all that was Shepard and Tali working out their relationship in the middle of their hectic daily lives. I wanted to show Shepard's more human side and that involves him loving that adorable quarian machinist who keeps him grounded. They were more for making you feel warm fuzzies than hard strokies. I didn't need or want to go in to graphic detail of their… "inner workings." As stated in the summary, the M rating is for the various potty mouths that spring up. If I'm going to keep the characters themselves, they have to talk like they do in the games.
I found a plot hole!
No you didn't. All plot holes are filled in with mass effect fields.
This story was bad and you should feel bad.
That's not a question, Zoidberg. Still, I'm sorry you feel that way. But tell you what, here are some recommended stories (in no particular order) I read and enjoyed while writing my own. If I liked your story and just forgot to put you down, I'm sorry!
Adamo by Andrio
Razor's Edge by Tairis Deamhan
Mass Effect 3: Revolutions by Ryan Priessman
Tomorrow's Dawn by ElectricZ
Numerous stories by CannedCream