ME3 Finale: The Reckoning (Assimilationist Council)
"Humanity reaps what it sows, Commander. Remember that."
The context leading up to the Reckoning is largely the same regardless of Council. Shepard has gathered a fleet of allies. Shepard has liberated Earth. The Reapers have taken the Citadel. Shepard, the Alliance, and just about everyone in the galaxy is fighting over the Citadel, and galactic power. Some you may have to fight as you push forward. Others may fall in line. Consequences arise. When Shepard returns from the Dark Citadel, the Council Races have gained an upper hand in control of the Citadel and are facing down the Alliance... and with the present species of the galaxy watching.
The Reckoning for Humanity occurs as the Council means to take back what it considers rightfully its own. All that stands between it and a return to power are the remnants of the Alliance force, and any alien allies willing to stand behind it to rebuff the old Council.
The Reckoning for the Assimilation Council isn't a judgment dispensed by the Council: it's the purest legitimacy test for galactic leadership. Legitimacy as the galactic leader is not measured by Alliance fleets, but by the species who prefer a Human Council to the old one.
The Assimilationist Legitimacy check is similar to the Xenonationalist, but differs in scope and target audience. For the Xenonationalist Reckoning, it was the opinion of the Council Races that dominated, while minor Citadel species had barely any say and non-Citadel species had no say at all. The Assimilationist Reckoning differs: it is the minor species, both in and out of Citadel Space, that determine the outcome. While individually none of them could compare to the Council Races, collectively they can enable Humanity to throw them out. The Council Races are the odd species out, having less of an impact.
The Assimilationist Reckoning is a case of that Humanity either wins big, or losses bad. There is no middle ground (unlike the Xenonationalist endings), and there is no guarantee of even the possibility of success when starting ME3. This is meant to be harder and more difficult to reach any ideal outcomes. Many choices for allies and support are mutually exclusive with some other cause, particularly the rapid liberation of Earth. The Council Races remain the best choices to liberate Earth quickly and with minimal casualties, given their exceptional strength gained in a single mission, but it's the non-Council races you need to recruit and earn the loyalty of for the end... and that's an unknown future twist balanced against the immediate loss of life on Earth. Of course, that's if it's even possible to pass the Reckoning: you can well and truly screw yourself out of most of your allies and support during ME1 and ME2, and force yourself to have to pursue specific choices in ME3 for even a hope of passing. Again, difficulty and inflexibility are deliberate.
Minor species/groups who can be rallied to support the Alliance include, but are not limited to: the Associate species (Volus, Hanar, Elcor), Terminus groups (Vorcha, Krogan, Quarians, Geth, Aria), the ME1 options (Rachni, Thorian), and finally the (Alliance) Batarians. Additionally, under very specific conditions the Salarians can be convinced to betray the Old Council attempt and side with the Alliance, and Shepard can encourage an Asari pro-Human movement to support the Assimilationist Council, making for a top total of 13 potential votes of galactic legitimacy in favor of the Human Council. Get seven or more Legitimacy Points, and you win the Reckoning.
Not, mind you, that you'll ever get all thirteen votes. It's an absolute impossibility even when most meta-gamed playthrough, because of mutually exclusive options (Geth/Quarians, Krogan/Salarians), and most players will import some combination of choices that has invalidated somebody. The general concept of the groupings include...
The Associate species (Volus, Hanar, Elcor) are 'easy' votes to swing. Though they contribute little to the liberation of Earth on their own, these three species are always available come ME3. Simple and sweet, the main requirement is that you save/help them survive the Reapers. The main reason why people would not want to do them is because doing so would likely increase the number of lives lost on Earth, but for little help in the liberation. As species that have long been ignorred by the old Council for thousands of years, having the Human Council (and Shepard) not leave them for last in the face of grave trouble is key to convincing them that supporting the Human Council is in their own interests rather than return to the old also-eternal marginalization.
The Terminus/non-Council groups fall into more story-driven arcs. There are more of them than any other group, but in-fighting and a lack of unity weakens them (as do ME2 disqualification-choices). The Quarians will not support the Alliance unless you chose an Assimilationist Admiral during Tali's trial. The Geth will not offer their support unless you unified them, as the divided uber-Xenonationalist Geth won't even have that much to do with galactic politics. Given that Geth/Quarian peace can only occur with a divided Geth, it is impossible to have them both support the Alliance. Krogan support depends on who the leader is, what Mordin's loyalty mission was, the ME3 Krogan issue, and potentially the Rachni. Aria (representing a number of Terminus groups) and the Vorcha Free State would be more conventional moral delimmas: they'll trade their support in exchange for something you might not otherwise want to do (restore/expand/legalize Aria's criminal empire, ship all Vorcha in the galaxy to the Vorcha Free State). In general, the Terminus groups don't have a great history with the Council, but don't have any particular reason to care for Humanity either: it's only if Humanity has affected them in a positive manner they appreciate that they might put their own necks on the line in return.
The ME1 options of the Thorian and the Rachni would first depend on not killing them in ME1, but also resolving some issue that comes up in ME3. A good mission for the Thorian is that a Reaper is trying to indoctrinate it: Shepard can either kill the Thorian and take all the Feros-based forces for the liberation of Earth (high number of Liberation points), or help the Thorian recover, but have to leave much of the Feros garrison to protect the colony and so have fewer forces for Earth (low liberation points, +1 Legitimacy point). The Rachni would make prime candidates for a 'friendly fire' crisis: the Rachni are being attack by, say, Krogans, who think the un-indoctrinated Rachni are actually indoctrinated by the Reapers. The Rachni and Krogan make another good mutually exclusive support option as well. These two ME1 options are mostly pure-reward for not committing genocide in ME1, with minimal complications.
The (Alliance) Batarians would deal heavily with the Batarian Rebellions that Shepard inadverdantly started in Arrival. It would take place on Khar'shan, of course, but past that I can't say too much without seeing how ME3 handles the Batarian Rebellions of canon. A potential delimma could be whether the Alliance will defend Khar'shan or abandon it to the Reapers after an evacuation of loyal Residents: stripping defenses from Khar'shan gives you forces for Earth, but no support , while leaving defenses on Khar'shan doesn't help you on Earth but motivates the Batarian elements in the Alliance to stand by it vis-a-vis the Council. This would take place in a larger context, of course: Batarian Residents balancing the threat of their lives to their demands for inclusion into the Alliance on their terms. Besides the legitimacy-support/liberation-support delimma, the ultimate fate of Batarians within the Alliance would also be settled here as well.
The two potential Council defections, the Salarians and the Asari, are tentative concepts. They play on two themes mentioned long ago: the seeming Salarian pragmatism with the Human Council, and the Asari cultural civil war over Asari-Human relations. The first is rather conventional: if Shepard saves the Salarians and respects their interests (and sides with them vis-a-vis the Krogan), along with some other requirements, the Salarian daltrasses can be persuaded to side with Humanity at the Reckoning, preferring the spoils and concessions of a significant supporter to a long and bloody war that could well leave them worse off. A few speach checks would certainly be involved, both on the Salarian homeworld and on the Citadel itself, and in the end the Salarians would step back and leave the Turians and Asari in an epic double-cross of galaxy-shaping proportions (but only, only, if their defection serves the winning team: if Humanity would lose regardless, they won't). The second plays to the Asari civil culture war, and the disunited structure of the Asari city states: while the Asari cultural norms (and Justicars) dislike them, the so-called Pocket Purebloods have significant numbers and desires to be closer to Humanity, not opposed. Via some ME3 missions, with possible roles played by Morinth and Samara, the Alliance can support a de-facto secession of a small number of these city states. These smaller number of city-states will break with the main Asari force and step behind the Alliance during the Reckoning, with a culture war leading to a sub-culture revolt. The Salarian and Asari defectors offer an example of how the Council Races are not as unified as they wish to portray, and how the Humans can benefit from playing up divisions in the ranks.
The Turian Heirarchy has no planned dissent element, though the independent Turian colonies may be reconsidered in the future. Probably not, though.
Now that you know the general intent/focus of the individual groups, one last point: the Collector Base. Unlike the Xenonationalist Reckoning, the Assimilationist Reckoning has fewer extra +/- modifiers to shape the score: the only positives are loyal allies, and the only potential negatives are the Kasumi greybox and the Collector Base. Species won't exactly be wow-ed by Human leadership if the base is given to Cerberus, which decreases infleunce once again. Same with the Kasumi Greybox. Together, a -2 legitimacy can be crippling to anyone hoping to pass. The Reckoning can be very hard if you aren't conscientious towards the views of others...
AC: Gave Base to Council
…and much easier if you bypassed Human dominance for a genuine Assimilationist Council, which offers a +2 points of legitimacy along with the military bonuses for the liberation of Earth. With the shared Collector Base dividends making the Volus, Hanar, and Elcor worthwhile military allies for the Liberation of Earth, and the +3 legitimacy from them for recruiting them before the liberation of Earth, players would only need another two to four legitimacy to pass. That is always achievable in the course of ME3, and gives you the most pick-and-choose options of any Assimilationist ending. Rather than fixate on which choices will get you political support, players can focus a bit more on shaping their ideal galaxy: you don't need everyone's help, so you have the luxury of saying 'no' to individuals. This is definitely the epilogue-world builder's favorite, which goes hand in hand with the theme of a genuine Assimilationist Council remaking the entire galaxy. Heavy reward, of course, is balanced by the 'worst' ending for Humanity as a power if you fail.
Pass the Check:
Rallying the species of the galaxy behind it to push the old Council back, the Assimilationist Council proved once and for all that it's galactic reorganiztion was not simply something that the species of Council Space suffered through, but actually a reformation that many in the galaxy, Council and Terminus space, supported. The New Council, re-established in its position thanks to the consent and support of the minor species, organized the rebuilding of the post-war galaxy for all the species, not just Humanity. Many Terminus species were invited to join the new Citadel Space, and many accepted. The old Council races, those who committed treason against the New Council, were exiled to the Terminus and their relays to Citadel Space locked down until such times that the Council deemed them (or colonies seeking to leave them) humble and deserving re-entry into Citadel Space. For those who stood by it, the Council rewarded with exceptional privilages and rewards, including the expansion of the Council with the addition of honorary Council status (voting rights, but no veto). Bolstered by new allies and new legitimacy from many species, the once-demeaned Human Council eventually became known as the Council, its purpose the service of the galaxy of which Humanity was just a large part.
Fail the Check:
Though the Human Council successfully led the war against the Reapers, it's lack of care for the other species of the galaxy led the rest of the galaxy to merely watch as the old Council Races tore the Human Council down and resume control. The vengeful Council cast Humanity out, sealing all its relays except those that allowed it or the Terminus to reach the Human interior. Half of Human space was lost before the Alliance successfully destroyed its own end of Relay 314, the first of many sacrificed relays in an endless, bloody war Humanity would never be able to win. Mellinia after the fall of Earth and the Turian assimilation of most of the Human species as a vassal state, sporatic fighting still occurs as Council patrols hunt out remnants and hidden Human colonies.
AC: Base to Alliance
Giving the Base to the Alliance gives you a signficant bonus to the liberation of Earth, but no legimacy points. This middle-road will depend a lot on prior choices for possible allies. Your choices may be restricted, but there will usually be at least a bit of leeway for coming out on top. Call it reflective of nations as a whole: nations who want to stay on top quickly find that while you'd be surprised what they can do from a position of power, you'd be amazed at what they won't do lest they lose power. Power is not liberating, but quite often restraining.
Pass the Check:
When the minor species of the galaxy rallied behind the nakedly self-serving Human Council, the Alliance proved what the Council Races never wanted to believe: that the Alliance was simply better at running the galaxy than the Council Races were. Though it was more nakedly self-serving than the Council of old had ever been, the Human Council still addressed the concerns of other species better than the self-absorbed Council ever had, and many of the minor species figured that if they were going to remain marginalized forever, they might as well support the marginalizer who served them better. And they were right: though the Alliance kept it's exclusive grip on the all-human Council, those that supported the Alliance were richly rewarded with generous privileges and concessions that served them well. Those that had tried to overthrow the Alliance were exiled into the Terminus, their relays shut down, left to wither on their own or to be eventually dealt with by the Alliance as it desired. The Human Peace settled on the galaxy, and if it served the Alliance and its incorporated species first and foremost... then so it did, just as the Council of old's Galactic Stability had always favored itself as well.
Fail the Check:
When the Council Races overthrew the Human Council and reclaimed the Citadel, they had intended to use the Citadel's controls to shut off all the Human Relays. But the Alliance, understanding more about the Reaper artifacts than the Council, was able to manipulate the Dark Switches on its own internal relays to keep them activated. Though the outer half of Human space beyond Relay 314 fell, with the sacrifice of the far side of Relay 314 and internal lanes of Relay travel the Alliance was able to hold off, if never truly end, the Turian invasions. Though the Council tried and failed for centuries to break through and defeat the Alliance, ultimately new matters to attend to, such as the reconstruction of a new Batarian species-state, and new fears took precedence as the Human Threat decreases in the public mind. A mellinia later, Humans haven't been seen outside Human space in centuries, more of a myth mothers use to scare their children than a clear and present danger. Humans seem content enough to stay behind the sundered Relay 314, and the wider galaxy is more than happy enough to leave them as the feared species of history. (Except in the darkest and most secret halls of the Citadel, where Spectres and STG whisper dark rumors about new relays being found in the Dark Space between solar systems, relays that do not respond or open to any Reaper IFF.)
AC: Base to Cerberus
It's said that power is hard to gain, but easy to lose, and this applies especially to Cerberus. Those who give the base to Cerberus in the name of doing whatever they want are going to have to be the most careful of how they treat others, unless they consider massive amounts of suffering and strife preferable. While Cerberus provides a 'fall back' of sorts for the Assimilationists, a hedging of bets, that hedge alo makes a good ending harder to reach: a -1 legitimacy can be hard to overcome in ME3, unless you've been metagaming from the start.
Pass the Check:
If Humanity passes the Legitimacy Test, the Human Council's dominance is unquestioned… likely because those figures of note who do rarely last for long, lest they meet a tragic accident or have a revelation of the virtues of human governance after a sudden, short disapperance from public. Through coercion, bribery, and possibly some sincere support and preference of the Human Council to the old, the Alliance was able to throw out the old Council species that tried to overthrow it. Species that were loyal in Humanity's hour of trial were rewarded: they are comfortable in their position, respected and accepted by the Alliance, and most notably truly independent species (so long as in their independence they do not overtly oppose the Alliance or Council). The traitorous species, if they survive, are not: the galaxy is Humanity's occuptation zone as it moves to bring order to the resistive Council Races and the Terminus species that still harass it. The relays of nearly the entire Terminus, now including the former Council races, are shut off as the Alliance mobilizes for a war of pacification against the Terminus. With the extranet and relay travel cut off, it takes years before the slow-FTL traders bring rumors of what is occuring beyond the borders of Citadel space: stories of armies of Human clones marching on worlds across the Terminus, non-alliance fleets above former Council worlds, battering defenses. Few know the truth: the claims of refugees who make it to Citadel space, and even a few luckless ambassadors seeking peace, are contradictory and impossible for the Alliance alone to be responsible for. The only clear truth is the most frightening one: as the Human Council gradually re-opens the Relays into the Terminus to claim a system or world, the colonies once there may well have been Reaped and Indoctrinated during the Reaper War. No one living there, Human or Alien, can remember a time they were called the Terminus. To a colony they all claim to have been Alliance worlds cut off during the Reaper War... even colonies that had never had relations with the Alliance. Many worlds now have significant, even majority, Human populations where none had lived before: when Thessia is reclaimed, the Asari there are a minority on their own homeworld. The Council never identifies who or how this pacification of the Terminus came to be, and soon the Alliance 'reincorporates' worlds it had never claimed before. No independent species in Citadel Space wants to find out what occured, lest the same happen to them as well.
Fail the Check:
When the Human Council was overthrown, few were surprised or terribly dismayed. When the resurgent Council found that the Citadel itself had been sabotaged, the controls of the Relay Network itself disabled beyond repair, many were... especially as reports began to emerge of Human sabotage across Citadel Space began to flow in, Not simply the surprise spoiler attacks the Council itself had engaged during the start of the Krogan Rebellions, but even key Relays across Citadel Space had been manually shut down as Dark Switches were triggered. Without exclusive control of the Mass Relay network, and with many of their own relays victim to sabotage, the Second Council-Human War was not the walkover many hoped for but the bloodbath everyone had always feared. As many died in the first two years than had died in the Reaper War, and instrumental to this continuation of the war was the rise of Cerberus. Long hidden armory worlds were unleashed, hidden fleets and clone armies joined the Alliance, and though even the Alliance inner colonies were ravaged by Turian fleets and Council bio-weapons that killed half of the Human population, the Council failed to push Humanity out of its outer colonies and behind Relay 314, or even to destroy Relay 314 themselves. A decade later, with both sides decimated and devastated and unable to continue the war, a cease-fire was signed and the Alliance became the newest member of the Terminus. While the Council hurried to rebuild and recover, the Alliance was surrounded by the opportunistic warlords and pirates that sought to feast on it in its weakend state. The Alliance and Cerberus fought back, overthrowing and subordinating and expanding until Human Space was the Terminus, an empire of Humans and Batarians and a thousand other groups and species that had been subdued before they could flee to the protection of Council space. And so history returned with a vengance: the Council, dominant in its borders, fearing the united Terminus that hates it even as both find that hostile co-existence and trade are preferable to war. Few Council species ever set foot inside the capital of Acturius, however. When talks must occur, they occur on Omega, the Cerberus bastion that secures the Terminus and guards the Omega Relay, gate to the heart of power of Cerberus.
The Assimilationist Reckoning, in my opinion, is the more interesting one. If the Xenonationalist Reckoning was by the Council System's standards, the Assimilationist Reckoning is about truly galactic leadership. The first was concerned first and foremost with the three Council species, and didn't care about the non-Citadel species besides the Terminus Consensus. The Assimilationist Council is different: Humanity made the attempt at being a single leader for the entire galaxy and so every race in the galaxy, not just the Council species, have a say about whether they accept Humanity as said leader. History has a way of showing that rulers only rule at the toleration of the ruled. Lose the ability to force them to tolerate, and only their willingness will keep you strong.
What does that mean in practice? Among other things, not caring about others is a prime way to get yourself screwed. He who won't help others won't be helped in return. While the 'bad' Base-to-Cerberus ending might appeal to the truly depraved, I repeat myself. Genocide, conquest, counter-genocide and counter-conquests on a galactic scale, followed by a history of mutual hate and conflict: if you think this is desirable, you are depraved.
The 'good' endings are far more of 'you get out what you put in' deal, which fits the theme of Assimilationists making a new sort of galaxy. Post-racial idealists can get a world with the truly Assimilationist Council. Naked xenonationalists who want superpowerdom can have a singular dominant Alliance, with the caveat of the species the Alliance incorporates: it isn't the best of all superpowers, but it isn't the worst either. And those who want to outright subjugate every enemy of humanity... well giving the base to Cerberus will do that. If you're proud of the implied racial cleansings, however, again: you are depraved.
I like the Assimilationist endings as a concept. They, and the choices that lead to them, very much have a 'the road to hell' feel behind them. It's not impossible to go into a lot of these choices based on idealism or good intentions: people spurned by the latent racism of the Xenonationalists, those who think they could do better than the Council, those who think incorporating the Batarians is a good idea for peace. Plenty of good motives to going down the path of good intentions. But Reinterpretations, like life, has a way of seeing good intentions spin out of control. Once you pass the point of no return and kill the Council, losing your vision is the surest way to ruin your chances and have the worst unintended consequences.
This would definitely go hand in hand with epilogue-fates for species that you won the support of and then still lost the Reckoning. You might have meant for good ties between the Quarians and Alliance to give the Quarians a new homeworld, give peace a chance with the Geth, and help everyone involved: unfortunately, a vengeful Council is going to screw the Assimilatinist Quarians all the harder because they were willing to support you, whereas the Xenonationalist Quarian Admirals (who will not support you) are pretty much left alone by the Council. Terminus species you won the support of will be crushed, those who don't will be left alone. Species you spared in ME1 will be wiped out if they supported you and you failed the Reckoning.
The Assimilationist Reckoning isn't just a judgement on Humanity, but those who stand by it: if you win, these species prosper and do better. The Pocket Pureblood City States avoid the fate of the rest of their species if you win, but are the victims of a culture-purge if they stepped forward. The double-crossing Salarians, if they double-crossed in your favor, make out like kings compared to the rest of the Council... and since they only double-cross for you if doing so will make you win/you already can win, they never get exposed to 'traitor' punishment. This applies for all the species who might support you. If Humanity falls, those it is tied to will fall as well, and that may truly scare and surprise some people.
Now is probably a good time to stop, lest I ramble even further. So some final notes.
This is The End of Renegade Reinterpretations as written. Nothing else has been written. Nothing else is planned. Nothing else is guaranteed. Zip. Zada. Nada. Which is not to say I might not feel like writing something: the entire First Contact War and the ME1 outline was pretty much written in a delerious haze in one day when I was sick, and while I don't intend to get sick any time soon, the writing whim might take me. You might see some thoughts on the ME2 DLC. I might feel like writing a short on... something. Maybe an example of what the suicide mission might feel like.
Just don't count on it, and don't hold your breath. I make no promises or guarantees I'll come back to this after ME3 either. As far as I'm concerned, I've finished what I set out to do. This was a thought experiment gone viral in my head, and it's been written down and left for others to read. I have other projects in my head, and a mostly-written dialogue on a Cerberus-reinterpretation I once had posted here and have been doing over. I also have a real life as well, amazing as it may seem.
There will be one (one) guaranteed update... sometime next week. Call it the end-Reinterpretation Q/A and final thoughts. I'll take a look at reviews throughout the Reinterpretation, and give a final thoughts on some of the most common or interesting ones not already addressed to my satisfaction. Some topics guaranteed to be addressed in brief include Mass Effect slave economics, the Geth, the fairness/unfairness of the Armistice, the Geth, a brief thought on comparisons/crossovers between RR and other series, the Geth, people using Renegade Reinterpretations as a base for their own fanfic, the Geth, and so on. And did I mention the Geth? Because some people really didn't like our favorite illogical machine-race being illogical in a non-sympathetic manner.
Want in on this, to air your own questions? No guarantees, but here are some hints to boost your chances of a reply.
Leave a meaningful review before the question. If you go 'that was great, now how about...', that's just spam. Spam annoys me.
Give feedback on the Reckoning, both parts. High interest to me. Low feedback on the first part.
Don't ask questions that already have been answered. If I've already addressed a point in an earlier chapter, or if it's explcitly in the main body, I probably won't address it again.
Ask questions with shorter answers. The shorter the answer, the more questions I'm likely to field. If you want something that takes more than a few paragraphs, consider asking via PM.
Ask only one question.