Hello, Kei here. The real-life author of The Miracle at Palaven, not Arena Nyscirius, the in-universe author of Of Steel and Talons. It's time for me to annoy everyone a little with self-indulging exposition.
The Miracle at Palaven was a story inspired more than a little bit by ego. It was March of 2012: I was still working as a translator for a county government, there was a major author's block in between myself and the next chapter of Exoria, and anger and outrage online was still quite rife over Mass Effect 3's rather controversial ending. To make my own position clear, I was disappointed, but probably not "enraged". (I was probably more upset by Casey Hudson's broken promises, honestly.) I also accepted the ending as canon because it was ultimately what was written, and I did not support for a rewrite of the ending due to my traditional aversion towards retcons.
A lot of words were bandied about in the months to come, including quite a few that would eventually annoy me, including "star brat", "space magic", and so on (I personally was not particularly pleased by the heavy-handedness by which BioWare used a human child to represent senseless sacrifice, but I was also not particularly pleased by the sheer vitriol associated with the terms). Of course, also bandied about was the "Miracle at Palaven", which fans touted as the prime example of how the galaxy could've defeated the Reapers without relying on the Crucible.
I myself do not concur with this theory. I find it unlikely that the Reapers would not have learned from the Miracle at Palaven and taken extra measures to defend themselves from similar strategies in the future. I also find it unlikely that the Reapers have no experience in combating asymmetric warfare, given how long they have been harvesting the galaxy and how many civilizations with their own war doctrines they must've fought. I consider the Miracle at Palaven to be a major setback, but not a death knell, and that the Reaper's ability to field more firepower while ignoring logistics would ultimately triumph over whatever strategies the galaxy could concoct, no matter how brilliant.
Nevertheless, though, the Miracle at Palaven proved to be popular amongst many fan circles, and I thought the subject matter would not only be interesting to write about, but also be fanbait for those who were disillusioned by Mass Effect 3's ending (which, at the time, seemed to be just about everyone).
But, of course, this didn't happen. I had other commitments, which included trying to circumvent my author's block over The Legend of Zelda fanfic Exoria, working as an underpaid civil servant, and – of course – playing Mass Effect 3. So this idea, like many other ideas, was shelved in the drawing board, the "storyline repository" in my head. And it probably would've remained there if not for two major things that happened later that year.
On March 5, 2012, I began publishing my first Mass Effect fic, Order Upon Chaos, on FanFictionNet (which, for the record, was written before BioWare released the Leviathan DLC, and is not meant to be a "fix fic"). This started a small chain of subsequent Mass Effect-based fanfics, which would become the fandom I would focus on for almost all of 2012 alongside The Legend of Zelda.
Then, in September 2012, I (re-)discovered the SpaceBattles community and their wonderfully robust Creative Writing forum. The site itself focused quite a bit on science fiction and military matters, which provided me the possibility of having members fact-check my potentially spotty science and military doctrine. Plus I recognized a few readers of Exoria on the forums, so I admit I was feeling a little optimistic.
And so, on October 31, 2012, I started posting The Miracle at Palaven piece-by-piece on SpaceBattles. The rest, as they say, is history (or, alternatively, "you've just finished reading").
I think one of my goals in writing The Miracle at Palaven was to stress how important logistics are, and how a lot of roles in the military – the non-combat roles – are unfairly overlooked. This is one of the major reasons why I dedicated nearly an entire chapter to the preparation phases for the Miracle at Palaven, extrapolating on how vital, overworked, and appreciated people were down the chain, including shipyard mechanics making miraculously fast repairs on capital ships, chaplains trying to rush from place to place to give the living a bit of peace from the dead, shuttle pilots flying without rest to transfer supplies and manpower from place-to-place, medics doing what they can for the wounded with nothing but scarce medical supplies and a prayer, intelligence and resistance personnel trying to make preparations on logistics and munitions ahead of time, and quarian ship crews evacuating the wounded.
Another writing goal, I think, was to write a Mass Effect story – or a sci-fi story in general, I suppose – that shies away from the common scenario in which humans are the only competent people in the galaxy who can do anything of particular competence and excellence. It's something that has come up in Mass Effect and stories based on it quite often, with humans getting all the attention, pulling off all the miracles, dancing circles around rival alien powers that have been in the game far, far longer than they have. As such, The Miracle at Palaven, as is evident, has zero human characters (save, of course, references to various other in-universe human historians and writers). It was an interesting experience, trying to write for alien cultures, trying to keep them somehow "different" from human norms and standards, yet still trying to differentiate them enough to not make it seem as if all aliens are the same. I'm not sure I accomplished this last part, but I hope – at the very least – I've earned my credentials in terms of averting "humanity, f_k yeah".
The Miracle at Palaven was born and raised on SpaceBattles. It is the first time in a long time that I posted fanfiction on a forum, and the first time ever that I posted fanfiction in tiny installments to have my readers fact-check for me. Without its Creative Writing forum, The Miracle of Palaven would probably never have been written, or at least probably have been written very poorly. Heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has left reviews, praise, snippets of encouragement, posts of fact-checking, proofreads, and critique, on and off Spacebattles. There are far too many people who I have to thank for their support, and I couldn't possibly list everyone without running past the acceptable limit on length for what's supposed to be a short author's note, but special thanks go out anyways to my regulars (at least those who made themselves known to me), who supported, encouraged, and nitpicked (in a great way, I promise) me all the way here: 13th Fleet, AllisterH, AngrySasquatch, Cyclone, Dirtnap, Faralis, Funny Face, Havocfett, Horngeek, Renewal, Rufus Shinra, Trent01, Trivia Freak, United Systems Navy, and Yla.
Whether or not they realized it, Angelform, Curious Stranger, Darth Slaverus (Sith Lord of Meido), LGear, SoftRogue, SpacePaladin, Ultra Sonic 007, and Whiskey Golf (aka Wild Goose) made very real contributions to the story, helping make The Miracle of Palaven a much better story than anything I could've conjured on my lonesome.
Lavanya Six and LogicalPremise, both of whom are excellent writers themselves, went as far as to advertise my fanfic within their own spheres of influence, and it is by far the least I can do for me to thank them for their generosity, and for me to implore anyone paying attention at this point to look them up and read their works.
Last but certainly not least, including some of those already mentioned (you know who you are), heartfelt thanks go to Atarlost, Chuut-Riit, Cyko2041, Harry Leferts, Hazard, Khaos, Maes, Mercsenary, Night_stalker, who started reading when The Miracle of Palaven was still in its infancy, and pretty much stuck around for just shy of half a year until the very end. To paraphrase Shepard, "You have been with me longer than most. You believed in me when nobody else did. Thanks."
Thank you for reading The Miracle at Palaven. It's been a great journey.