What should the next STG Investigative Report be about?
In a way, every Shepard a fanfic writer comes up with is an OC. Sara was no different.
As with most of my OCs, Sara is based on real people. She is a composite of several broken figures I knew. One was a rape victim, another was a gang-banger I helped get out of that lifestyle. One was a buddy who had PTSD and ended up killing himself.
They are all dead, the people Sara is based on. Unlike her, they never found their strength, nor could they bring themselves to rely on others to provide that strength.
Who they were no longer matters. I had a long conversation with Progman (who, along with Michael1110, have shaped more of OSABC than they could possibly know) discussing Shepard. He told me the greatest headshot to canon I could make was making Shepard weak.
Indeed. Shepard (and case in point, the entire Premiseverse) are deconstructions of something that I found ultimately revolting, the Boring Invincible Hero syndrome that led to so much shock and cries of foul at the end of ME3.
Bluntly, Shepard always wins. Shepard is strong enough to overcome anything. The first time we see any REAL doubts that last longer than a few seconds is deep into ME3 , where most people would have cracked under the pressure.
Shepard is not a God.
When I started, I knew I wanted a Shepard who was physically powerful, sexy, and striking. A Shepard with an agile, strong mind, and the ability to master everything she put her mind to. I built her deliberately to be as Mary Sue-ish as possible.
Then I broke what I had built until it was a festering mass of hate and loss. I crafted a story that stripped away every support and source of human kindness except a very few. I gave her pathologies she couldn’t accept, and a background that she couldn’t get over.
Progman and Owelpost both pointed out Shepard never got over her past and losses and wounds. She never grew up, in a way. It’s hard to see but there is still a tiny frightened girl somewhere in her psyche, eyes shut and tears streaking down her face, waiting to be hurt again, betrayed again, abandoned again.
In canon, no matter what, Shepard overcomes. Akuze? Mindoir? You can make the most sad-sack bastard in galactic history and he/she is still possessed of indomitable will, vast political savvy, endless battlefield competence, blah blah blah.
Given how Shepard is built up in game I remain astounded ME3 didn’t end with Shepard killing Harbinger with his dick.
I rejected that. I wanted a broken image. I wanted that shattered figure who had not risen above their losses because they didn’t have a reason to do so. In a way, I wanted to rewrite the fate of my buddy, with PTDS, who should have been able to (with all the support he had around him, begging to help) get back on his feet and on with his life. I wanted to rewrite the life of that gang-banger, who after pulling himself out of hell fell right back in out of arrogant stupidity.
I wanted a Shepard who needed people around her to become the best, and when they weren’t there, became the worst. A monster.
Shepard is not and has never been a ‘reactive’ figure , instead always following others. Even in canon, Shepard was not proactive. Shepard made no hard, defining choices that changed his/her OWN life. Yes , they had to pick between Kai and Ash, or to save the council or destroy it. Choose Anderson or Udina. Decide the fate of worlds in ME2, in ME3.
Yet, consider those choices. Much like the catalyst, you were just given choices on a plate. You never were able to point at why you made the call and say “this and this and this” … it was just a menu wheel choice. And while said choices affected the story, it was never fundamental!
You never got to choose whether to side with the Council or the Alliance. You never got to choose whether to abandon Cerberus and work for Liara when she became the SB.
And Shepard avoided the truly ugly choices. She let Anderson take the lead on springing the Normandy. She accepted, all too quickly, Cerberus’ invitation to work for them, even in the face of clear clues that not all was right with the state of events and that Cerberus had not changed it’s stripes in the past or present. She followed the orders of Hackett, a man who had cut her loose in many ways after ME1, and ended up standing trial for events beyond her control.
Shepard, no matter which way you cut it, disgusted me in canon because the hard choices and decisions were never, ever made, until the very last minutes of the game.
I get it. Some of that is just the nature of gameplay.
But to me, the Boring Invincible Hero with no personal weakness, endless strength and willpower, and all the flaws of , say, the Hope Diamond, is just that. Boring. You never wondered if your Shepard would just crack one day. You never had your Shepard’s very ability to understand the world around them compromised on a fundamental level. Your choices were ultimately made meaningless by the simple fact that EVERY choice made Shepard a winner.
Sara Shepard is not a winner. Lethal? Yeah. Powerful? Oh yeah. Smart? Yes. Sexy? Sure.
But she’ll never be Branson. She’ll never have the charm and grace to stop the geth and quarians from fighting.
I finally got off my ass and worked a bit on the site. Mainly this is due to my paranoia that FF.Net will go off the rails someday, and I’m not letting my work decay away if it does.
The new features I threw up are a trio of widgets that allow me to quickly give you an idea of how far along I am in the next chapter, when I expect it to go out, and a quick overview.
I don’t feel like writing much right now (exhausted mentally) and I will probably put out some more stuff about the writing process.
I’ve recently commissioned art for Of Sheep and Battle Chicken. The artist is Armesan (http://armesan.tumblr.com/), who I cannot recommend strongly enough.
Already the initial sketches look beyond awesome, and when I get more finished products I’ll post them here.
Reposting from what was chapter 112….fucking nazi FFNet…
In the insurance industry, this is open-enrollment season, where people have to get their coverage for the year finalized. That means from now until New Years will be utterly crazy. I’m not sure how much updating will get done between here and there, aside from the next STG Investigative Report which will come out Christmas Eve as a present to my readers.
There will probably be one update to the Cerberus Files: Humanity and maybe one to the Cerberus Files : Aliens for the Turian intro. Not sure yet. OSABC will probably not see an update until after Christmas.
So, since I’m wasting an entire chapter on an author’s note, I’d like to take time to give thanks to the people who gave me the inspiration to write this much. Without them I would have stopped writing this train-wreck a long time ago. All have encouraged me to continue this effort through messages, PM’s, and ideas. Especially after the loss of my job and my mother’s illness, as well as certain people who dislike AU’s, your words were very important to me.
I appreciate EACH and EVERY review I get, so please, if your name isn’t on this list don’t be offended, it just means I haven’t used an idea you’ve given me.
Above all else, my personal heroes:
Jay8008 ,who says I inspired him to write, good god
Setrus, the Maestro of settings, and who changed my opinion on Tali
Melaradark, which started me thinking about a ‘dark’ Shepard in the first place.
Progman (should get a co-authors credit at this point)
Michael1110 (without which neither this story nor the documentation would have been finished)
SherryE (One of my oldest fans. Totally getting a cameo somewhere)
nimiraj12 and Sollus (The official fan-girls of the Premiseverse. I accept no others!)
Hewhoislost (You simply MUST read Two to Tango)
S058 (who left much encouragement)
NarwhalWarlord (Still not on your favorite author’s list , I see :/ )
Yoholic (is Admiral Yonis Chu!)
AlexN7 (says the nicest things!)
NonSolus (always interesting questions)
rjohanek (Army lifer, mad respect)
Shigan (reviews are always insightful :D)
Octoberskys (Navy for LIFE)
KeithFraser (If you go in for Code Geass, btw, an EXCELLENT author)
Druzhnik (Very interesting works)
And of course,my muses, Owelpost, Wordrkrush, and Bebus.
As for OSABC…
There will be two or three chapters prior to Ilos, then Ilos takes up at least two. The fight at the Citadel is likely to be five or six chapters long, the aftermath two or three. Then there is the post-story and Bring Down the Sky (which is utterly changed), culminating in an epilogue.
If all goes well, OSABC II: Downfell (may change that title, ideas are welcome) should see revision outlining completed by late January and the prologue chapters as early as February. Estimated length is 140 plus chapters clocking in at around around 800,000 words.
The Cerberus Files will be worked on as I get research done (I’m about a quarter of the way through the turian research. Studying birds, Roman military stances, stoicism, Romanian and Balinese history, postmodern super-flat art, and the effects of cosmic radiation on amino acid chains…it may be a while).
The next two works will come out around May/June 2014. I will also (finally) update the Reaper doc (Fear Unrelenting, Seen Darkly) after ME 1 is complete.