A/N: Hello, people, and welcome back to the Mass Vexations saga. Today, we get started with the long-awaited Mass Vexations 3!

I dunno about you people, but I'm super excited about this installment. Things will get crazy here in a bit, so... here we go, hoping to keep it up with the craziness. I've got some crazy ideas, and some really awesome characters in mind, so yeah.

And no, I'm not following the plotline of ME3. Hence, why I'm starting this now instead of then. So yeah. Note that there will be a ton of differences between this and Bioware's take on ME3. While there will be elements from that, they'll usually end up going off in a different direction anyway. And then there are all the elements that aren't there, like Orange and the Fade, and the fact that Madison is here. Lots of things will change, and some of them will be even bigger than others.

Hm... It makes me wonder, though. If we have 900+ reviews on MV2... I wonder if we can break the record for MV3. If it happened... there would be much 'laaaa'ing that would ensue. You know? So if you have anything to say, please, leave feedback!

I don't really know what else to say, so... here we go with disclaimers and such:

Mass Effect does not belong to me. It is copyright the guys at Bioware and EA games. I also do not own some of the story's OCs, who will be disclaimed as we run into them. Heavy Rain does not belong to me either. It is copyright David Cage and the guys at Quantic Dream.

So yeah, let's get this party started!

Mass Vexations 3


Quite a bit can happen when you get roped into a massive mission to save humanity. Explosions go off. Guns are fired. People die. Insects get killed. Near death experiences are had. Friendships are made. And then broken. And then remade. Secrets are released. Loyalty is won. Ships get badly damaged. People fall in love. They express it. Sex is had. Survival is also had. And Michael Bay has a wet dream.

And that's pretty much what happened with us over the past few days or so. We got out of the Omega 4 Relay in one piece. And we got out with more people than we entered the relay with. That in itself is a huge accomplishment. So then we partied to express that.

But once the party stopped, the reality that this was hardly the end of the Reaper war settled in, and things... got a bit grim.

Well, not too grim, I imagine. We're all relaxing on Illium right now. I lean over the railing of the balcony of the hotel Liara rented out for us all. Yeah, I have to share it with Sturge and Chakwas and Tali, but still, better than nothing. I wonder how Liara makes all that money off of information brokering.

Either way, it's been a nice break. But also kind of annoying, because I had to move all my stuff out of the Normandy.

Yeah... I wonder what's going on there.

I shake my head, thinking over the past few days or so.

Yeah, we got through the unpassable relay in one piece, but the Normandy was still really badly damaged. We figured the ship could really do with some major repairs. Unfortunately, that meant that we had to take it all the way to Illium: Omega was the closest port to the Omega 4 Relay, but... well, there's so much wrong with that rock that it's not even worth mentioning. Besides, we can't get a discount for damages on Omega.

And at Illium, we can certainly get them thanks to Liara. Who's agreed to do that, actually: Shepard contacted her about two days before we made the relay jump to Illium. She said that we could totally do repairs there with a discounted price. Well, mostly, anyway. We'd still have to spend quite a bit, but it was nowhere near as bad.

I swear her message came with a slightly different undertone, though... I swear, she's made a deal with all the dock workers on Illium for something. I don't really know what, but she said the repairs would take a week once we get the ship settled into the port on Illium, and that we would all have to exit the Normandy for some of the repairs.

I didn't think that would be necessary. I mean, Christ, the Normandy wasn't that badly damaged. A hull breach in the lower decks and quite a huge amount of hanging wires were everywhere, yeah, but... it can't be that badly damaged, can it?

Never mind that we had Legion that we needed to disguise: that in itself was insanity that we couldn't figure out. Well, we did eventually, but still. Actually, I'm surprised nobody thought about it before. Kasumi just suggested using a cloak to get him out of there until we could find a more comfortable spot. Thankfully, it held all the way to our vacation spot, so we were able to hide him in one of the rooms. I think it was Kasumi's room, as she can easily manipulate the security footage to do that stuff.

Though frankly, I'm not sure how half of us got checked in without alerting some form of government. I mean, Jack alone should have triggered a few alarms on Illium. I mean, she's a wanted criminal in most of the galaxy! Though, I imagine it's worst in Hanar space, where she crashed that sattelite into their favorite moon. But somehow, they didn't question her. It's... kind of weird to think about, actually.

So we all settled in to stuff, and got a free week of shore leave while waiting for the Normandy to get itself repaired. The hotel itself is actually pretty nice. Really great view of Nos Astra, and especially its sunset. I think only Miami sunsets could beat it in terms of how beautiful the sunset is. It's just really nice and beautiful. Honestly, after living on the Citadel for so long I forgot what it was like to see the sun rise and set every day.

So I ended up spending most of my evenings looking out at the sunset as the colors danced in the sky. It was crazy doing that, and a couple other things, but... let's just say they mostly invovled Tali.

Unfortunately, not all of the crew or ground team stayed with us then.

True to his word, Zaeed left our ground team after we had touched down. He bought passage back to Omega, hoping to scrounge up what was left of the Blue Suns leadership there to hopefully take back control of the Suns. I wonder how Zaeed would be as the leader of the Blue Suns. I know he did most of the bookkeeping when he and Vido were still co-managing it something like 20 years back, so that's down, but leadership itself... I dunno, we'll see what comes of that.

Of course, that was the only obvious member of our crew to leave. Some of the crew members also opted to leave then, too. We lost some of our peripheral helmsmen from the fact that they were more loyal to Cerberus. I was actually quite surprised to see most of them leave, but... I guess it was to be expected when we managed to save the crew of the Normandy from being taken by the Collectors. No special bond there with the Commander for saving their asses from the Collectors. So some of the minor crew members all left, and that was sad to see them go.

Thankfully, though, the mainstays all stayed behind. Of course Joker and Chakwas were staying: Chakwas of course had an attachment to working with Commander Shepard that could never be shaken by anything, and in a manner of speaking Joker's home was on the Normandy. Neither would leave that ship at all. Rupert also decided to stay, since apparently having a really great co-worker in Sturge was a good way to get stuff done. Ken and Gabby also stayed on board, mostly because they were really well-acquainted with us. For that, I'm actually really glad.

Oh, and Jenny's staying on too. She says that we could use the vehicle maintenance, and also that the human touch is better than the autopilot. I dunno, she's gotten us out of a lot of sticky situations, and her driving is a lot better than Shepard's, so I'm glad for that. The Horizon colonists we picked up at the Collector base are also all tagging along with us until we can get to the Citadel. I'm sure the Alliance has a lot of questions for them, and they want to get that over with.

What really surprised me, though, was that Gregor asked to join the crew of the Normandy. That was surprising, but I guess after being separated from his sister for so long, that would happen. He's being put to work as the assistant to the Armory Officer, which means he'll be seeing a lot more of Jacob in the coming days. But hey, he's not being separated from his sisters, so... Yeah, crazy times are had with that.

But one departure we had never seen coming was Samara. Her oath to Shepard had been fulfilled, so she released herself from it a day after we had docked. Samara left rather cordially, though, so it's nice to have the reassurance that she won't be hunting us down for stuff. She walked off, taking a ship out to Asari space. No doubt, she's back to Thessia. I'm gonna miss Samara, I admit. I didn't know her that well, but it seemed fitting to see her return to Asari space.

I would've expected Kasumi to leave too. After all, her contract had been fulfilled, so she had no reason to stay. But she decided it would be cool anyway. When I asked her about it, she quoted the whole thing about how we were an extremely interesting group, and that she wouldn't mind tagging along with us for whatever other adventures we had. Imagine, the thief staying on board. So she did that, and we all loved it more.

Besides, it would've been sad to see a Brotherhood without Kasumi. It's just not the same if we don't have everyone there.

Everyone else was more or less in it for the long haul, of course. Miranda and Jacob were both on for the ride despite the fact that TIM was likely pissed at their desertion or something. Thane was in it for Shepard, too, what with them being in love and all. Garrus and Madison were both there as well for a lot of reasons. Al was of course staying out of loyalty to his sister, and Jack was staying... well, because frankly where else would she go anyway? Grunt is staying for Shepard because she's still his battlemaster... battlemistress? I dunno. Either way, he's staying. Mordin debated leaving, but... I think he found the whole dreamshare bit way too interesting, because he's still with us right now. Legion is still with us because... well, he's a geth, who else is he going to have adventures with?

And of course, Tali and I are staying too. Rael's probably going to stay with us for a little while longer, but I figure he's probably got to get back to the Fleet soon. What with being part of the Admiralty board and all, anyhows.

But... I think we've got it sorted out who's staying with Shepard to the end.

This is going to be a crazy journey with all of us, I can tell already.

So then was the matter of shore leave itself. As for that... Illium basically became our playground.

And I mean that in every sense possible.

I swear, Kasumi pulled off a heist or two while we weren't looking and then sold whatever she got off of it, because she got more than enough credits to plug up all the holes in our now suddenly gone Cerberus funding. I think: you never really can tell with her. She spent most of the week going out of Nos Astra to other parts of Illium, and then returning with wads of cash. I'm pretty sure it made Jacob a little anxious, honestly, as the two of them were kind of left out of each others' businesses. I dunno. It's Kasumi.

Anyway, I think Thane and Shepard mostly stayed around Nos Astra, spending a lot of the time they had off together. And only now am I starting to not geek out every time I see them running around. I really shouldn't be at this stage, anyway. I've done more than enough geeking out about them to last me a lifetime, I think. Besides, they're settling squarely into that zone in the relationship where they're just comfortable in their presence. With Thane, I get the feeling it's always like that to some degree, but still.

Al and Jack meanwhile... Oh, boy. It's starting to get harder not to comment about how they can't seem to stop flirting around each other lately. I dunno why, but it seems to me that they're getting along really well. I mean, I don't think I ever saw Jack flirt with Al the way she did with anyone. I dunno, it's just that they're doing so much in conjunction I'm finding it progressively harder to believe certain things I'm seeing with them. I dunno.

But Garrus and Madison? Oh, did they ever get it on with the post-suicide mission boinking. I think, anyway. I saw this huge bite-mark on Madison's shoulder when she came in for breakfast recently. I don't know why, but all the other turians in the hotel were staring at her before she covered her shoulder up. I knew something was up the minute I saw Garrus coming in with the biggest grin on his face. Turns out, it's a mating bite.

Thus meaning that in terms of everything, Garrus and Madison are all but... well... lifemates, essentially.

That... gave Mordin a lot more expositing to do than he really should've done. Especially over breakfast. I swear to god, I am never going to think of fangs in the same way, ever again.

Okay, so apart from Garrus and Madison's unofficial marriage, if that's what it technically is in Turian culture... Ah, yes, there's the matter of Miranda. Yeah, she seems to be doing rather fine for herself, if a little wary about Oriana. Honestly, I can't blame her: Cerberus did a lot to protect her sister, so... I imagine that would play a lot into it. But she doesn't seem to regret it: after all, she has us to think about, so... Yeah.

Joker seems to be doing fine now, too. EDI... I don't know about her, but I'm sure she'll be all right. That is, if she doesn't freak out the dock workers of Illium first. I'm surprised Shepard even agreed to let a ship with an AI get worked at on the dock on Illium, but hey, that's life for ya. I'm pretty sure Liara will have a hand in covering that bit up, but you never can tell. Joker's a little antsy about not being able to fly his baby, though, so... We'll have to see what happens when we get back to the Normandy once repairs are done.

Rael has done a lot of thinking while we've been here. Not sure why, but I get the feeling he's planning something. What exactly he's planning, I have no idea about. He's tried to make some time for Tali, though, and a couple times I actually ended up having lunch, sometimes dinner with the father and daughter there. They seem to be getting on better than Tali's dialogue in-game might have indicated. Hm... this little incident of shore leave may have been better for both of them.

Though it does make me worry about the whole geth thing. I don't know what Rael's planning, but if it has something to do with the geth unit... I have no idea. Legion for his part has done a remarkable job of staying absolutely silent throughout the entire time we've been on Illium. We wouldn't want anyone freaking out about the geth unit running around; that would just plain suck for everyone involved, especially Shepard. I mean, yeah, she's a Spectre again, but still, I would be wary of the Council's reaction to the fact that she's bringing a geth unit everywhere she goes.

I don't think it'll backfire in terms of the geth themselves. Not yet, anyway. We'll see what happens.

Anyway... well, the crew is getting along just fine on this session of shore leave, I think.

Oh, and Chakwas and Sturge seem to be getting... closer. Than before. I dunno, I've never really known that anyone could get that close at such an age. But... they do spend quite a bit of their time just chatting about the past and Wagner and other topics like that. It's kinda weird seeing that happen with Sturge. I dunno... it's just one of those things that shocks me to no end, really.

As for Tali and I? Well, we've had a good old time here. Of course, our little session of her outside of the suit did end up getting her sick, exactly as we expected. It wasn't too bad, though: it was only a common cold from how Tali described it. Slight fever, nasty cough, sinuses filled with a ton of mucous, and I swear she sneezed a couple of times. I don't really mind, quarian sneezes are kinda cute for... some reason, I dunno. But by this time... it's pretty much become just a memory. She's feeling much better, if her nose isn't congested.

And in the end? It was still worth the week of sickness. God, who knew a quarian could be so beautiful under that face mask of theirs? Hm... I need to talk to Mordin about some way of making a clean room out of my current quarters or something. Just seeing her face would be worth it, I think. And it'd be nice if I could look at her face without getting her sick every damn time I did it. But other than that, it's been nice. We've been good company for the past week, just chilling on Illium.

Makes me wonder, though... usually, if we're doing this well in being happy in a relationship, there's going to be trouble brewing somewhere. I don't know when it's going to hit, but... I'll do everything I can to keep our relationship together. So that means that I cannot miscommunicate with her. So we'll have to make sure we're always on the same foot all the time.

It'll be tough, but whatever, a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

So... all has been going very hunky-dorily for the past week or so.

It apparently went really well for the Council too.

I was walking around with Tali and Rael chatting about various things when we started noticing there was a lot of chatter. Normally, we'd dismiss it as most of that anti-quarian mumbling I've heard every so often. Honestly, you learn to ignore it after a while. But this mumbling seemed a little louder than usual. That kind of confused us: you'd think that after being there for about four days, they'd have gotten used to a human and two quarians running around Illium.

I didn't suspect that maybe they weren't talking to us until I overheard something being mentioned by that turian that I think is trying to date that quarian over in the nearby bar. And that's when I specifically heard something referring to the turian councillor.

So then Rael, Tali, and I ended up huddling near one of those news terminals, and sure enough, we heard it straight from the best source:

Apparently, the turian councillor had been found in an escape pod somewhere in the Terminus systems.

The details were a little vague at first. Well, from the condensed version, but still, this is the freaking turian councillor we were talking about here! And he had apparently been found by certain parties. That was... really big news, to say the least. So naturally, I had to figure out more.

So then, we all looked it up over the extranet, hoping for details. And we managed to get some details about how the turian councillor was found. Apparently, there was an STG patrol in the Terminus systems that just... randomly found an escape pod with him on it. Huh, that's kinda anticlimactic. He was barely hanging on to his life, from what I heard, and he promptly had to be fed and stuff. I wonder how he managed to use all the rations those things are supposed to come with, as they were all empty when they found him. He was still dizzy when the report was made, though, so we didn't get any details about the Aurigos itself.

I ended up following the story with interest. And indeed, the next day we did get some details directly from Emily Wong: apparently, the turian councillor was feeling a little better, but he hadn't returned back to work yet. Apparently, he didn't have any details on what happened on the Aurigos under the pretense that he had... kinda lost his memory. Hm... Well, he was addled after being stuck in an escape pod as long as he was, so I can't say I blame him there. I dunno, hopefully he'll recover enough of his memory to figure it out.

But still, the big huge turian dreadnought that was missing all this time is still missing, so... Yeah, sad times are still ensuing for them until they can figure out where the Aurigos is.

Oddly, he was discovered in a part of the Terminus systems that was actually reasonably close to where Earth is. Hm... Not sure what to make of that, as apparently he was further up the galaxy map when he first disappeared. Or in a different spot altogether. That has a few eyebrows raised, but the turian councillor was so addled that he couldn't remember how he wound up in a very, very different part of the galaxy from where he was.

Still, we have a fourth of the Council back, and while I am a little miffed at his air-quoting ways, it's a good thing for everyone as it'll provide some much-needed stability for all. Even if he does go into denial of the Reapers like every other councillor. Well, except for Anderson, but you know how it is.

The reaction from the team was varied. Of course Shepard was a bit miffed, but she did an exceptional job of sucking it up. I know how much the turian councillor gets on her nerves, but he, we'll see when we bring the evidence of Collector involvement with the disappearance of all those colonists there, right? Garrus took it all right. Not too joyous, but not terribly disdainful either. Well, he never really was the galaxy's best turian, so I can't fault him for his 'eh, whatever' kind of response. Especially now that he went and unofficially married a human.

Oh, man, if we ever get another turian on board, I don't think that turian will ever let him live that particular bit down.

Anyway, the turian councillor returned to Council space while we were on Illium. So now, when we present the Council with our evidence, we won't have to wait for him to come for them to make a consensus of some sort. The Aurigos itself is still missing, though. And he doesn't know where it is. That still sucks.

But hey, at least the Councillor came back. Now galactic government can go back to its normal function, and that replacement Councillor won't be needed anymore.

So I think that's better than nothing. Much better than nothing.

So life went on, mutterings about the turian councillor going around. Wow, the rumor mill is really active for that. The wrong words from someone and crazy times will definitely be had...

Well, shore leave went well for a day or so after that when I started hearing all these wild rumors about where the turian councillor had been. They ranged from the wild to the plain insane, and I actually got a good laugh of some of them.

And then, of course, Shepard came out of her quarters one day in a mildly unimpressed mood. She didn't come to meet us for breakfast for sure, that was one thing. We were all pretty confused, but then when Thane came he called a Brotherhood meeting to session before running after her to get her back to the hotel.

That... wasn't good. We had all promised ourselves before docking at Illium that we wouldn't call a Brotherhood session unless something really big happened. I was tempted to call one over the turian councillor, but... I figured that since we all knew what happened there, it would just be really pointless. So I was a little on edge about what had happened until the meeting went into session.

And then, I got a rather... shockingly pleasant surprise.

It turns out she had just needed to clear her head outside of the hotel for a moment, for she had gotten an e-mail from her terminal that morning from none other than the Illusive Man himself. Hm, I always knew he had some idea of where his assets were. So in a surprising olive branch, he actually sent us some information that their operatives had picked up on the Shadow Broker himself.

He also mentioned that Liara might be interested in this information.

That was actually a very nice surprise for a lot of reasons. I dunno, I half expected the Illusive Man to be really pissed off about that, but... at least he's trying the more peaceful method first. But I know how this goes. Reel us back into his leash slowly and with gift of finest wheat. And when we're close enough, we get taken back into the fold by force. Sorry, I've watched enough spy movies to know that it could happen.

But I think he knows it too, because he doesn't strike me as being evil enough for that at the moment. I think. You never can tell about a character whose own flippin' voice actor doesn't trust him. We'll have to see how this pans out later.

But... it was unexpected for all of us. Miranda was certainly relieved to hear that the Illusive Man was not going to try to use Oriana as a way to lure her back to Cerberus just yet. I think we can all breathe a little easier, actually; now that Cerberus won't go into full all-out assault mode on us, we'll be good to go. So yeah, crazy, crazy times are had with that.

So now, we kind of have a shaky alliance with Cerberus. But I imagine Shepard's going to have to hold him at arm's length.

Either way, it's a lead on the Shadow Broker. Liara's kind of busy right now, but when she stops being busy, we're going to her with this info.

Actually... I need to go to her about the small little Prothean cuneiform I bumped into, too. It's going to be hell explaining it, though, and this info on the Shadow Broker is probably big. I don't think I should saddle her with the earth-shaking revelation that I'm not from another galaxy just yet when that's the case. I mean, really, I don't think she'd believe me if I told her I randomly happened to run into a piece of well-kept Prothean handwriting that's survived over 50,000 years in some random spot. No... I'd need to tell her the truth about myself if she's going to believe my story there. And given how much has already happened... it's best kept to myself, anyhow.

Anyways, yeah... So now we've got more than one reason to visit Liara after everything that's happened over the course of the week. So... there we go.

And, of course, I haven't been to the Fade in a while. But then, I haven't really felt the need to yet. I'm sure Orange understands.

We've had some nice real life conversations anyway. About life, the universe, everything... I swear the number 42 wound up in there somehow, but how it did that is something I'd really rather not dwell on. But anyway, she's been a lot less cryptic as of late. That is a really good thing.

What she has done a lot of, though, is angst about the fact that apparently even the Oracle of Mars fell under the sway of the Reapers. The most powerful of them all... though I do wonder why the Oracle of Feros was also well-known. So I had to ask her about that next. Turns out, if one can be the Oracle of Feros, it's basically saying 'you're next in line to be the Oracle of Mars' or something like that.

Orange could've been the first female Oracle. So now, not only are the Reapers exterminating all organic life, but they're also possibly anti-feminist. That is actually really alarming for a lot of reasons.

But anyway. She actually told me that she had actually begun the study of the more intense stuff. And from what it sounds like, it sounds like a really lonely life. She says she had friends back there, but given how much she had to do I am surprised she actually had time for that stuff. I mean, she was just starting out with that, which took a lot of her time. She was also reading the field of visions, which also took a lot of time. And then she also had to keep up a social life of some sort. I have no idea how.

She actually told me that the social life was a side effect of being dream shared with so many people. She mentioned that almost all the oracles at the time of the Reaper invasion were doing solo runs. But for some people, they also did dream share visions for... some reason, I dunno. I guess it gets more personalized that way or something. But Orange was one of those Oracles who did that kind of thing. So she reasoned that's how she did it.

Frankly, I don't know if it would be that great a socialization tactic. I mean, what would happen if you just so happened to stumble upon a really uncomfortable secret while climbing down dream layers? Like, parental abuse, for instance. Wouldn't that just break up the friendship? I don't really know. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing that, anyway, but apparently the Prothean mindset on that is slightly... er, different.

Seriously, though, it sounds like a shitty job. But Orange mentioned she used to get a lot of perks for it a couple times. They don't matter now, of course, but back then they actually sounded like damn good perks. Basically, they had diplomat status amongst Prothean society, which apparently helped everyone out a lot. They got to travel everywhere a lot (lucky bastards), and they generally had a good time of everything. Honestly, I think the perks outweighted the comfort issues.

But yeah, apparently Oracles were a big deal back then, especially the Oracle of Mars. From what I hear from Orange, he was actually something of a celebrity, even despite the fact that dream sharing had only been... 200 years old at the time of the Reaper invasion? It wasn't a very old art now that I think about it. 200 years... That's not a long time. But it was an art that rose to prominence. Hm... if Prothean culture worked like Greek culture did, I wouldn't be surprised. I mean, we have Oracles and specific places and all that jazz, so...

Either way, I found out quite a bit more about Orange than before. I guess it's more that she's just opened up quite a bit ever since we left the Collector base.

I dunno. I'll have to ask her about why she's being so open when I see her in the Fade next.

Either way, this week went really fast, and crazy times were had. Well, maybe not crazy, but they were still rather good, and rather restful.

And now... now we have Liara to attend to. We'll be getting to that soon enough, but first, Miranda's seeing to it that our stuff gets back on the Normandy in one piece.

So yeah, what do we have for now? Well... it's getting up to Liara's office since she's not busy any more, and then we go hunt down the Shadow Broker I guess. I don't really know.

Wow... It's weird not knowing what's going to come next. Here I'd just say, oh, hey, this happens, and then this is gonna happen. But now that I don't have that... I don't know.

It scares me a little, I'll be honest. It scares the ever-living shit out of me that I don't know what's going to happen next. But... I guess it's something I'll have to live with. Orange won't let me use the field of visions at all for fear I'll lose myself in it, but I guess it's because she doesn't want me to live with the stigma of being able to tell what happens next again. I... don't really know, but I think I'll have to get used to this.

Either way, I just feel great that I don't have to lie about being surprised at what happens during our mission to stop the Reapers anymore.

So yeah. From here, we do a lot of things.

Like kill Reapers. Make friends. Have conversations. Make people lose the game. Watch explosions. Make banter. Fire guns. Kill bad guys. And other such inglorious jazz, including making idiot politicians see the light of day. Well, mostly anyway. And then there's everything else that being part of Commander Shepard's crew entails, really.

After a week's break, I guess it's time to get back to my fucked up life.