Home > Gaming, General > Mass Effect: Alternate Ending #2

Mass Effect: Alternate Ending #2

The illusive ManFirst thing first, if you haven’t read my first alternate ending, please do so now. For my own sake, though, I’ll repeat the disclaimers before continuing…

Warning and disclaimer: SPOILERS ahead! Do not read, if you haven’t yet played Mass Effect 3 in its entirety.
Disclaimer #2: I do not own the intellectual property to any of these characters or stories – this is merely fan fiction without lengthy, gratuitous scenes of sexual relationships between every possible combination of characters.
Disclaimer #3: What follows are general ideas, meant to prove a point, not fully polished literary works. Constructive comments will be taken into consideration.

Now, on to the business at hand…


More than just points

It was widely expected that Mass Effect 3 would expand upon the decisions taken in earlier episodes, and particularly Mass Effect 2, in which you, the player, made two very important choices:

  • You could decide to rewrite the Geth heretics, or destroy them.
  • You could pick whether to destroy the Collector base, or keep it for study.

While it was understood that these decisions would have meaningful effects on the impending conflict, and the galaxy as a whole, they turned out to be very minimal (unless you are the kind of person who is super-excited to see slightly different numbers in his war assets, before experiencing a slightly less or more disappointing variation of the same horrible ending).

This alternate plot explores a potential difference in how Mass Effect 3 could have been written, had the actions taken in previous games not only changed some numeric counter in your war room, but instead would actually, you know, do something meaningful – like open up a different plot line.

The ‘evil’ ending

Assuming the player had chosen to keep the Collector base intact, so Cerberus could study whatever diabolical technology is available within, an optional plot would be opened for the player as soon as Commander Shepard leaves Earth, and almost finishes the Mars mission.
Since he had shown already an inclination to agree with The Illusive Man’s point of view, the space-faring hero would be offered a chance to make his stand with the shadowy organization, rather than against it. The choice presented would be to support the idea of controlling the reapers using their technology, as an alternative to being wiped out completely by them.
Accepting the Cerberus path would definitely put Ashley out of your crew list, but replace her with (tada!) a Cerberus operative: Miranda, if she survived the earlier game, or a sassy commando woman that likes Samurais, despises James, and wishes there were less handsome blue aliens on-board the ship.
Shepard would still be offered the same generic Anti-Cerberus missions, but completing any of them would earn him the Ire of The Illusive Man, to the point where (after three successful assignments), the explanation of “playing the Alliance” would not cut it anymore, and your Cerberus plot line would become unavailable.
On the other side, you would now be offered special assignments to further the Cerberus cause – mostly involving information about Reaper tech, and hidden ancient ruins that would help progress research on the control mechanisms.

When Cerberus makes its attack on the Citadel, it is again up to Shepard to choose whether to side with the council, or agree that it is in humanity’s interest to topple them. If continuing down the Cerberus route, Shepard would still get to meet Kai Leng, and see Thane or Kirrahe killed by him (whether your Shepard gives a damn, though, is another issue).
Despite being on the ‘same side’, Kai Leng is obviously hostile, and believes the Commander is a liability to the organization.

The mission to Thessia sees you in pursuit of the Asari artifact for a much different purpose, than the one the council would have you fulfill. However, when you get to the Prothean beacon, it is obvious another Cerberus cell has made it there before you.
The Illusive Man had sent Kai Leng to do the job, in case you fail, but the assassin has actually outperformed your team (at least in his eyes), and decides that it is better that you went ‘M.I.A’, without his boss ever knowing.
Unfortunately for him, you manage to best him in combat, but your connection to TIM was sabotaged, and so the only way to make contact with Cerberus again is by visiting Sanctuary.

Upon encountering the horrors inflicted upon the refugees in Sanctuary, Shepard can no longer believe that the path TIM went on is justified. After being rebuked by members of his crew, the Commander finally decides that it is time to put an end to the current Cerberus leadership.
The attack on Cronos Station soon commences. However, when Shepard reaches The Illusive Chair, and kills Kai Leng, he finds out that thanks to the Prothean data from Thessia, Cerberus actually managed to complete its research of Reaper control mechanisms. Only three things are missing:

  1. The Crucible, which is being built by the Alliance.
  2. The Catalyst, namely the Citadel, which is where The Illusive Man is heading to at the moment.
  3. Someone willing to merge his mind with this technology, in order to utilize it.

Aware of TIM’s plan, Shepard rushes to get to the Citadel first, and ends up confronting him just one Mass Relay jump away. The Normandy is boarded by a Cerberus cruiser, that contains both troopers, and controlled Reaper units. Following a fierce battle, the Commander and his half-indoctrinated adversary engage in an argument over ‘how much is too far’.
To The Illusive Man, no sacrifice is too great, in order to ensure humanity’s survival.
For Shepard, sacrificing what humanity is, in order to survive, means the Reapers would win anyway.
There are no “mind control powers” involved in this scene. It is merely a test of Paragon and Renegade abilities, that can end in three ways:

  • Paragon: TIM submits his information to Shepard willingly, and is locked up where he can’t do any harm.
  • Renegade: Enraged, TIM tries to shoot Shepard, but is quickly overwhelmed. The Commander secures the location of the data out of him, before kicking him out the airlock.
  • Neither: TIM tries to shoot Shepard, who does not react fast enough. However, he is taken out by a squad member, and his secrets die with him. Your option of achieving the Control ending is gone.

Assuming the player has accumulated enough Paragon/Renegade points, he is now able to complete the Crucible, and combine its technology with that created by Cerberus. Then, learning from Anderson that Harbinger is personally overseeing the harvesting of Earth, the galactic fleet travels to Sol.

The battle of Earth begins in space, right around the Mass Relay at the edge of the system. Shepard gets to pick collected war assets in order to fulfill different tasks – like handling incoming Oculi fighter, or Reaper capitals. The purpose of this phase is to secure the arrival of the Crucible through the relay. Since imagination costs us nothing, imagine that you actually get to control the Normandy during this part, and blow stuff up with lots of pretty lights.
Once the first phase is over, and the Crucible makes the jump, more Reapers close in on the fleet. It is the moment of truth, as the technology developed by both Cerberus, and all the other races, is put to the test.
Everyone is holding their breath…

And the incoming Reapers stop. Putting a tremendous strain on the energy resources of the Crucible, they are turned around, to attack the next wave. A Reaper Vs. Reaper battle begins, rendered in a suitably awesome cinematic.
However, the moment of joy and victory is cut short, when Harbinger enters the picture. He immediately exhibits his ability to overpower the Crucible control, and leads his own cohort of Reapers towards it.
The fleets are mobilized again, and Shepard commands everyone – including the Normandy – to attack Harbinger, before he can reach the Crucible, and crush their hopes.
Again, your war assets are put to the test, and their usage during the mutual assault between the Reapers and the Galactic forces determines whether:

  1. The Normandy gets heavily damaged, and makes a crash landing on Harbinger. Half your squad is dead, and so is Joker.
  2. The Normandy is damaged, some crew members may die (in a similar fashion to the attack on the Collector base), but Joker manages to land it safely on the big bad Reaper himself.

A boarding party rushes to the core of Harbinger, fighting hordes of Reaper forces on the way. All the while, Shepard is being taunted about the futility of his actions. Then, when the team finally makes it to the core room, the door opens with a blinding flash. When the picture clears out again, the massive core (as seen on the derelict reaper), is glowing bright yellow, and seems to be ‘staring’ at the team.
Shepard attempts to order everyone to fire at it, but a beam emanates from the swirl inside the core, and strikes them down.
The screen fades to white.
When things clear out again, the squad mates are lying motionless. Shepard tries to call their names, but they don’t respond. He, himself, seems to be wounded too. Yet, with new resolve, he limps towards the core, while Harbinger’s voice tells him his efforts are in vain. Another beam knocks the Commander to the floor, but if the player persists on getting up, he will make it up to his feet, and carry on, slowly. Harbinger then tells him that the Reapers are their salvation through destruction – without them, Organic life are doomed to create synthetics, and those synthetics would destroy them.
Shepard can buy that explanation, and pause, or keep on moving.
Harbinger then tells him that the evolution of organics and synthetics is to merge, and that by failing to accept that, he is dooming the galaxy to more warfare and genocide.
Again, the player can slow down and listen, or keep moving.
Finally, Harbinger tells Shepard that if he destroys him, he will also die; because ever since the collector base (or object Rho), they are connected in some way.
This time, the player is close enough to the core, to take a shot.

Commander Shepard wakes up, after shooting repeatedly at the core, realizing his mind was under attack. Any action, other than a steady, determined advance towards the core, and shooting it, results in Shepard being enveloped by Harbinger’s indoctrination attempt. He, and his squad, would lose their will to fight, and the Reapers would destroy the Crucible.

Now, with nothing standing between him and the real core, Shepard takes the shot.

A cinematic takes place, showing the Commander and companions rushing to flee the dying Reaper, with dozens of husks running after them. If the Normandy crashed earlier, they are attempting to board a shuttle, but its pilot is inexperienced enough, and gets blown up by a passing Oculi. Shepard attempts to use his powers to subdue the husks, but Harbinger is still emitting his own control field.In the last moment, you see the Commander pounced on by a husk. Then the camera shows the Reaper being destroyed from the outside.
If, however, the Normandy has survived, it manages to pick the squad in time, and put a good distance away from Harbinger, before the rest of the fleet pays him his just dues.

The battle for Earth is won, and with their leader gone, the reaper forces are no longer unbeatable. Humanity has persevered.

However, their embrace of Reaper technology has tainted humans. With the ability to control the ancient machines, they have become a little like them. Earth is transformed to a dark, cold, metallic place; people now have excessive amount of cybernetics to their bodies, and are feared throughout the galaxy as members of a tyrannical power.
If he survived the battle, Shepard is now seen sitting on a chair, not unlike the one used by The Illusive Man, and gazing at the stars with indoctrinated eyes.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this hypothetical scenario and creative exercise. In the next one(s), I will delve into somewhat similar possibilities of ending the game, but under brighter circumstances.

Categories: Gaming, General
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