Category Archives: ME Ramblings

On Reunions and meanings

The reunion of two lost people illustrates that which cannot die should not be vengeance, or despair, but love. And yet nothing of value was built without pain and struggle and even loss.

I’ve long given thought to the structure of my fan fiction, given that it was intended to ‘fix’ the stylistic flaws, plot holes and shortcomings of the original Mass Effect storyline.

By the very nature of it being a video game, some of those shortcomings were by nature, and the series should get a pass on those. Others were due to changing directions of the writers and directors, still others were due to what I can only assume were bad choices in how a scene was storyboarded.

But the way OSABC has developed lead to a new line of thinking, one I long pursued with Progman and Owelpost in the start, and more recently with nimiraj, Quentin and others — the nature of Liara and Shepard, and what it means for them to reunite.

I went down a very… extreme path in terms of ‘bringing the gang back together.’ This was done on purpose, but also to remove the almost railroaded feeling of how the game reunited you with Garrus and Liara.

One of the most fundamental questions I struggled with when outlining this trainwreck was how to put Shepard and Liara back together again. There were several ideas:

  • Have the bond start working again (somehow) after they got close enough. Discarded due to the fact that both Shepard and Liara have massively changed, and I already used the bond to quickfix some things in OSABC. Also, this left no reason to develop the characters, and no reason why Liara would leave Shepard’s side.
  • Have the bond not work at all, and due to frustration and misunderstanding on both their parts, have them not get back together. Shepard would have a fling with Jack (Subject Zero Jack) and Liara, upset and hurt, would withdraw to become the New Shadow Broker, and we’d resolve things in the linking piece. Discarded due to needless angst and not fitting the characters.
  • Have the bond work sort of but backfire, leading to them both feeling at fault.

The final choice is sort of what I’ve gone with, mainly to deal with a pair of ugly fundamental questions:

First, what is the nature of ‘love’ when an asari bonds with another being? Is it mind control or natural and real? Doesn’t the fact that two minds are interlinked in this fashion sidestep all the things love is supposed to be about? If the bond is broken, is the remaining affection and love one feels ‘real’ or an artifact of having one’s mind forced into connection?

Two, is fate and destiny real, or is everything merely chance? Are you fated to a particular soulmate, a person who completes the person you want to be or should be — or is everything random, love the biochemical randomness of survival instincts? Is there any greater purpose to why one suffers so much for love, or is it mere mortal choice?

I do not plan to make things ‘easy’ for Shepard and Liara. I intend very much to explore the nature of the bond, how it works and doesn’t work, and what happens when two people fundamentally change in outlook and thinking and yet want to come together.

It may displease people, especially those who want pure romance. And yet, I think in the end a relationship that is forged from shared pain and effort and working to truly get another person is a more honest and mature way of looking at things than mind magic.

In a way, the title of the story, That Which Cannot Die, could be interpreted to mean lots of things. It could be Shepard and her friends. It could be the idea of decency and doing what’s right is immortal. I could make an argument that the title applies to revenge, or justice, or even destiny.

But ultimately, the title should refer to the love between two people, who are neither perfect nor whole, but who in the end create something greater and more beautiful than the sum of its parts. Love does not die. If it withers, if it fades, if it surrenders to the mists of time and memory, that is the choice of those who let it go — and if you never let it go, it is always with you.

A new Cerberus File : Opposing Forces and new art

I’ve held off several days because I’ve been waiting for two projects that complemented each other to complete. I’m happy to report both are done now — the debut of Dr. Tiffany Minsta, arrogant rich girl daughter of Dr. Galen Minsta and even more racist than her father.

She is the point of view of the latest Cerberus File, covering the volus’s special network. This piece was 99% written by Jacob and he should get all the credit for it. Along with this is the portrait of Tiffany done by Kerri Lynn. 

Tiffany Minsta, by Kerri Lynn

Thanks to both of them for expanding the Premiseverse.

Current Status (2017 State of the Premiseverse)

Hey folks.

So, here we are in 2017. When I started there was only Abyssal Shadows and AD Lewis and Sherry E cheering me on, and my writing was… not so hot.

I’m now at the 2.5 million words mark. So, given I did not achieve my 2016 goals, where do we go from here:

  1. Medical Crap: My mother is over both cancers (both in remission for more than six months). I still have back and knee issues, although I haven’t had a flare up in a while.
  2. Financial Crap: My job still seems secure, although we just underwent an internal reorg in IT and things are still shaking out. Unfortunately, my unit is entirely focused on the Verizon account — if something bad was to happen to that I am not sure how I would end up. The Patreon donations have given me the funds to start work on the original fiction story and to pay off the artists for work being commissioned now.
  3. Personal Crap: I am continuing to deal with some family issues but I am slowly moving past those by simple expedient of ignoring the ones who think I am a bag of money to be withdrawn from. I have had some minor altercations with friends of mine who think supporting Trump or hating Trump is somehow more important than friends you’ve known for fifteen+ years, but that is fine — I rarely if ever react to such things.
  4. Mental Crap: It’s been six years since Alysha died, on the 11th of April. I’ve continued to distract myself around that time as best as I can with writing. I’m glad the Andromeda game comes out in March, as I expect my mental stability will be shit from late March to early May as it is every year.

The plan for 2017:

That Which Cannot Die: currently being worked on. I doubt the new chapter will be ready this weekend, the earliest I would expect it, given writing difficulties I am having and the Chief Editor having hospital duty, would be January 28 — and that would be for the Editing Gang to begin their work, which will probably take at least a week.

ETA to completion? Very hard to say. You will notice that my writing speed has dropped — this is due to both my work being more demanding and the fact that now I have to carefully interweave things with what I’ve already written in a dozen documents. I would guess TWCD will be done by this year — probably towards the end, as none of us is going to be writing shit for a while when Andromeda comes out.

The Cerberus Files : Humanity is nearly completed. There are only two more pieces to go over — Corporations and independent colonies.  Also an OOC chapter, but that’s easily written. The biggest delay was in figuring out how to handle the AIS and with that out of the way the rest is much easier.

It should be finalized and marked complete by no later than mid year.

The Cerberus Files : Badass Nutjobs (i.e., Special Ops) is currently being worked on. One of the Editing Gang is doing the Volus section, while I am doing the finishing touches on quarians based on the idea of another team member. That only leaves the Salarians, Hanar and (the most complicated) the section on N7’s. I already have notes on the Salarians so that shouldn’t take long and I may end up using an idea that I discarded from my original fiction for the hanar.

Not sure when it will get done though — it’s one of my projects I work on when I get writer’s block or bored.

Ahern’s Guide to Shit You Shouldn’t Be Fighting will get updated very irregularly.

The Cerberus Files : Outcasts (Batarian/Quarian/Krogan) is up for being worked on. I have the research done on most of it, it’s just sitting down and writing it. I’d like to get it done and out of the way so I can play around with other concepts.

The other Cerberus File, Separtists (Hanar/Drell/Vorcha), will be done later in the year. I don’t have most of the drell research done yet.

The Fluff Stuff (Memories, No Single Raindrop, ANN Media Report) will get updated as I get around to having ideas. Sometimes, like with Dragunov, it just hits me.

The Tech Suite (Guide to Tech, Biotic Encyclopedia) is probably NOT getting updated this year. It takes too much research to get anything done in the Tech Guide, and I’m not sure what I want to add to the Encyclopedia yet.

The Analysis Pieces (The STG Report and STG Files) are always irregular. I’ve put off finishing the Benezia Report until I’m done with the OSABC overhaul and the STG Files will come out as needed.

The crackfic Of Serendipity and Balance WILL be getting a REGULAR (i.e., not Editing Gang) update later on this year, if possible.

If at all possible, I’d probably be writing up the entire text of the Message, Sarah William’s transmitted plea to the galaxy that got the asari (well, Uressa) to stop the turian decimation of Earth. I’ve always wanted to write a story about it, but it’s both very depressing and very emotional, the kind of shit you write while listening to sad remixes of the Imperial March and having spent the past four hours reading every TV Tropes entry under Heroic Sacrifice.

As for the Naruto stuff, it might get touched this year, but probably not.

Artwork  currently lined up includes:

  • The marriage scene
  • more OC portraits (Dragunov, Ahern, Rasa, Pel, probably some of Garrus’s team)
  • Mech and Battlesuit designs
  • The three battles (Benezia vs Aethtya, Shepard vs. Okeer and Shepard/Garrus against Tetrimus
  • Maybe more.

 

What can you do to make sure the Premiseverse continues?

  1. WRITE: The main thing that drives me to do more is knowing that people get into writing (anything, not just fan fic or ME stuff) due to reading what I wrote. I will happily showcase and mention your stuff on here or on FF.net if you let me know.
  2. LEARN: I will be expanding the Links of the Now Section a lot in the coming days, as well as a bunch of links on cultural anthropology, physics, biology, and more. The main thrust of what I write is hopefully to make people think — and if possible, think critically.
  3. JOIN IN: While I certainly did not expect the chat room to be of that much interest to anyone, I’m pleased with the results and amused at the strange cross-section of people who like my work. If you have questions, use the forum or the chat room to ask and I’ll do my best to answer — you can also email or PM on FF.net.
  4. DONATE: no, not to the patreon. If you are good at art, or music, or have a specialty skill (medicine, math, and physics), or if you are a pilot or something else unusual, your opinions, experience or contributions are invaluable. I am a best a dilettante in many fields,  and true expertise is always useful. Likewise, if you are good at art and want to give your take on something, please do — the wonderful portrait of Matriarch Trellani was done by someone volunteering, as was the piece on Victor Manswell.

 

For now, assume things will continue to move forward. There are no new projects planned at this time and the only outstanding works remaining would be the Cerberus Files covering the Geth, Yahg and Collectors (which I probably won’t even do, TBH) and the possibility of the Fall of the Inusannon Empire piece which is still in vague outlines.

The Cerberus Manifesto and updates

cerb2

I worked with Aberron (who writes my favorite fic about a time-reskipped Illusive Man) to create the nominal document that gets tossed around so much. Why Bioware didn’t actually write it up I don’t know, but I hope our version does justice to the concept.

I’ll be off starting October 12, and doing a lot of work on TWCD to get the next chapter or two out. I’m sorry for the delays, but there have been a lot of stupid happenings going on in my life, on top of the whole iPhone 7 mess and now exploding Note 7’s that have to be replaced, so work is hectic.

I’ve finalized the first slate of images I want done: Ahern, von Grath, Dragunov, Tetrimus, and Delacor. I’ll probably move on those before the end of the month.

Current Progress, Ranting, Whatever

I haven’t been on much, because work went insane with the full launch of the iPhone 7 and the problems with the Samsung with exploding batteries. Things are finally starting to calm down now so I may get some writing done.

I have a bit done on the next chapter. I know everyone is eager for me to get to Ilium to start the Angstrofuck of Doom(tm) but as usual I’m intending to have all the pieces moved into the correct place first.  I have several outlines of how to proceed that range from Crazy Awesome to the deaths of several main characters (and needing to redo / re-plan some later stuff to adapt to said deaths).

Currently the only people — the ONLY people — with absolute plot armor that are guaranteed to SEE ME3 are Shep, Liara, Garrus, Tel, Ahern, Grunt, and Anderson. Everyone else is (at least theoretically) on the chopping block.

Only Liara and Shep have plot armor to see ME4. (Well, and Vigil, but he’s a troll so fuck him.)

I also have a chapter of Lions about ready to go, although I’ll probably rewrite it. We’re coming to the end of the first Arc — once its’ done, we get to the second arc where Dalthos Fortress occurs. Not sure how long that will take as there’s a lot of things to go over.

The Kai Leng / Kahlee Sanders drama-trauma and what happens to Rachel comes after that part.

Finally, Aberron (the guy who writes Living an Indoctrinated Dream) and I have been working to write up the actual text of the Cerberus Manifesto, which I plan to put out sometime this week if you’re interested.

In other news, as soon as one of my artists gets back to me, I’m going to start having some of the OC’s drawn up.

Major thanks and appreciation to the Editing Gang.

The Editing Gang is a group of unrewarded, unpaid volunteer editors who take each chapter of crap I write and massage it using magic and a proper command of punctuation, spelling and grammar into a product people can read without being distracted by broken sentences and errors.

The last chapter started life as an 8,000 word piece of shit not fit to display alongside SI Wrex/Tali lemonfics. Through days of their hard work it has been transformed into a nineteen thousand word masterpiece.

Half of the credit for the improvements you see in ATTWN and most of the credit for improvements in TWCD over the first book should go to them, not me.

The chapter will come out soon — I want all hands to have a chance to go over it and provide feedback. I’ll need a couple of days before I get cracking on the outline of the next one, and then we’ll see how quick I can crank out transition chapters until we get to Ilium.

Again, Editing Gang — thank you sincerely.

 

New Chapter is with the Editing Gang, and news about revamping OSABC

Right now the next chapter of That Which Cannot Die is still under heavy construction. The current layout is more of a framework, another five or six thousand words are left to deal with and the bulk of the editing team is still hard at work. (So am I, adding stuff based on suggestions). I do not think it will come out today (June 30) , more likely this weekend.

In other news:

I am planning to finally get around to slowly rewriting OSABC with the help of slave labor another Editing Gang.  It will be in Google Doc format, and posted one chapter at a time. The goal of the remastering of OSABC is threefold:

  1. Fix up stupid typos, issues where I accidentally left out a word, and various minor fixes (Helen instead of Karin for Chakwas first name,  explaining why Jiong isn’t spelled like Jeong, so on and so forth.)
  2. Fix up retcon issues and continuity issues.
  3. Clear up and polish the work — make some things less angsty, or at least provide additional exposition.

As OSABC is already massive, this will probably expand it by another twenty to thirty thousand words.  We’ll probably do one or two chapters a week — maybe more if people are interested.

If you would like to help these are the requirements:

  • Functional brain
  • Fingers
  • Ability to access Google Docs
  • Patience
  • Pictures of kittens

If you have all of these, either comment here or email me at viley@att.net if you would like to participate.

Maximum Trolling has now been reached.

If you really want to scare the shit out of yourself :

  • Re-read carefully all the Beacon Sequences in OSABC
  • Re-read the end of ATTWN, with Tetrimus
  • Read the Hanar Figures of Note Chapter

Then go read chapter five of Fear Unrelenting.

The answers are out there.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327246.000-13-more-things-dark-flow

http://www.deepastronomy.com/hypernova-vy-canis-majoris.html