Notes: Chapter One, Of Sheep and Battle Chicken

When I started OSABC, it was from a toss off line I wrote into a shortfic about Liara talking to her mother, the full conversation instead of the snippets you hear in the game.

Garrus and Shep were talking in the battery, with Shepard hugging Garrus after hearing about his family. He addresses her as ‘sheep’ and she calls him ‘battle chicken’. Old nicknames, heavy with subtle meaning and nonsensical applique.

They rang something in me, and before I knew it I decided to try my hand at writing a longer fic. Mind you, my skills were (and still are) rusty. I haven’t written professionally in over fifteen years at the point I started this mess, so the first chamber was shambolic and symbolic.

I wanted to frame my AU in the same way the game started. And I knew I wanted to write an AU.

People nitpick the ending of ME3 and let slide the mountain of other shit that Bioware messed up on. Things had bothered me for  a while and I decided to act.

When I say my stories are an AU, I don’t mean something along the lines of Renegade Reinterpretations. RR is wonderful and grandiose, a merging of events that I doubt I could ever pull off, but it still adheres to the basic concepts of everything wrong with Mass Effect.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the game. But the whole reason there are so many fix-fics is that Bioware drops the ball in lots of places. Romances that feel too much like random banter then schmex. Plotlines that weave, bob and then vanish into thin air. Characters who come out flat and without real human depth to them.

Worst of all, the awful and frankly inexcusable failure of Bioware to characterize the bad guys. I’m not saying I’m a better writer than Bioware. It’s pretty easy to take all the tools they did from scratch and recombine them and polish them. Mass Effect is amazing. But the holes in it, the cliched way they slavishly stick to the Space Opera format, leaves much to be desired.

ME1 gave us Saren, a clearly defined bad dude, without any real explanation for his actions. He is a cipher. We get a single, short cut-scene (of some nice tits, mostly) without context, then some random bits on Virmire, and a rant on the Citadel.

From this, this hero who has let himself be dominated , sacrificed his honor, turned his back on his species, and shot a close friend – from this we’re supposed to believe a random person from a race he despises is going to undo heavy indoctrination with a few pithy lines?

No, no, and no. Saren isn’t the Master of Fallout, and Shepard isn’t the Vault Dweller. But even a cockeyed as that gets, as least there are clear villains – Saren, and Sovereign.

ME2 gives us a concept as a villain – trust Cerberus or no, fight the Mysterious Bug People who are snatching colonies in the middle of nowhere and be a Frankenstein monster. But it never really clarifies why these things happen, or why everyone has daddy issues all of a sudden.

And ME3 sets up a major confrontation that turns into a giant colored dialogue wheel. It’s not that the story is bad, or the endings are bad, it’s that it makes no sense.

I also wanted to present an image of the “other Shepards”, warped ones. By the end of that first chapter, I knew something was seriously wrong with my SA, and possibly my entire universe.

A lot of the changes and alterations (or mutations) made along the way have altered the specifics, but there are still three main points my fic should hit:

  • It explores the nature of heroism. Is it dying bravely, or living past the pain? Is it in what others call heroism, or dying as yourself?
  • It explores the nature of corruption, of a darker, more evil universe where ‘right choices’ don’t exist.
  • It explores the nature of alternative realities, and what happens post-singularity when technology starts acting like magic.

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