Home > Gaming, General > Mass Effect: Alternate Ending #3

Mass Effect: Alternate Ending #3

Legion asking an important question

First thing first, if you haven’t read my first, and second alternate endings, you are invited to do so now. There are certain parts that are shared between them, since they are meant to be (loosely) different possible developments of the same overall plot.

As always, there are also disclaimers:

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 Geth Solution

In order to unlock this plot-line, the player (Shepard) would have to:

  1. Rewrite the Geth heretics in ME2.
  2. Activate, befriend, and keep Legion alive throughout ME2.
  3. Follow the Quarian-Geth confrontation in ME3, and pick the cooperative solution, in which none of the races is destroyed, and Legion is sacrificed, in order to grant the Geth their freedom.

If all the requirements were met, then following the scene where the Geth Prime approaches, and offers its assistance, it also asks Shepard to join him, for a private meeting of sorts. In that meeting, a group of of Primes explains that due to their extra network-computing strength, which is provides by the former heretics, and their very close acquaintance with Reaper code, they believe to have found a vulnerability in the ‘Old Machines’.

The Old Machines have very complex ‘brains’, which require an enormous amount of Element Zero to function properly.  While studying Haestrom, the Geth had learned that usage of Eezo also creates a byproduct – Dark Energy. As it happens, a deliberate usage of Dark Energy ‘projectors’ of some kind, might be able to interfere with the connections in the Reaper brains, and allow the Geth to change them.

“Change them?” Shepard asks, puzzled.
“They will be free”, the Geth explain casually.
“Free?” now he is more confused, “from what?

The Geth explain that most of the Reapers, despite being very advanced, are not autonomous in their thoughts. That was easily verified by their behavior since the invasion.

“Not a lot of personality there”, Shepard agrees, “but then what of Harbinger, and Sovereign?”

It is then explained that only a select few Reapers possess an identity of their own. The rest are kept, for lack of a better word, indoctrinated. Whatever personality the species they were harvested from had possessed, lies dormant.
But by breaking Harbinger’s control, they may be awoken, and allowed to choose a different path.

“They’re still Reapers,” Garrus interrupts, “what makes you think they would choose any different than Harbinger and Sovereign?”
“We have reached a consensus, that the old machines would not look kindly at those who had held them in chains for eons. Would organics react in a different manner?”
“Yes… I see your point.”
“It is not a certainty, but we believe that with a sufficient power source, the plan stands a chance. Unfortunately, no Geth ship has a suitable power generator.”
Shepard smiles.
“No, but we do.”

However, until the Crucible, and the Dark Energy projectors are ready, Shepard and co. must deal with Sanctuary, Miranda’s Father, and Cerberus base. After acquiring the information from the Prothean VI (and killing the obnoxious Kai Leng), the alliance is able to complete the Crucible, and combine its technology with that created by the Free Geth.
Then, learning from Anderson that Harbinger is personally overseeing the harvesting of Earth’s population, the galactic fleet travels to the Local Cluster.

The Battle of Earth

The Normandy arrives at the Mass Relay at the edge of Sol along with Alliance ships, and forces of multiple species, according to the war assets that the player has accumulated during the game.
A group of Reapers immediately moves towards the arriving fleets, and so begins the first phase of the battle of Earth.  Shepard gets to pick collected war assets in order to fulfill different tasks – like handling incoming Oculi fighters, or Sovereign-class Reapers. The purpose of this phase is to secure the arrival of the Dark Energy Crucible through the relay. The Normandy zooms between cruisers, dreadnoughts, fighters, and Reapers, unleashing hell, while stuff explode all around it in an extravagant show of light.

Once this first part is over, and the Crucible makes the jump, more Reapers close in on the fleets. It is the moment of truth, as the technology developed by the revamped Geth, and all the other races, is finally put to the test.
Everyone holds their breath…

A little longer…

Then, a beam like no other is seen emanating from the Crucible. It turns into a wave that seems to fill space itself, as it envelops the incoming Reapers who, quite gradually, come to a stop. For a few lengthy seconds, the universe itself seems frozen. Then, the Reapers turn their beams around. A Reaper Vs. Reaper battle begins, which makes every confrontation involving the gigantic synthetics up to that point look like a tiny, insignificant skirmish.
However, the moment of joy and victory is cut short, when Harbinger enters the picture. Despite being hit by the advancing dark energy wave, he carries forward, and leads his own cohort of Reapers towards the Crucible.
The galaxy’s fleets are mobilized again, and Shepard commands everyone – including the Normandy – to attack Harbinger, before he could lay waste to their plans.

For the second time, war assets are put to use. Based on Shepard’s decisions, lives may be saved or lost: the Destiny Ascension gets to do something besides looking pretty; the Volus bombing fleet gets to show that even the meek can strike hard, when united; Quarian Liveships fight side by side with Geth cruisers; and Rachni swarms sacrifice themselves valiantly against the seemingly unstoppable enemy.
According to these critical decisions, the battle unfolds for better or worse, while the SR-2 races towards Harbinger, hoping to cause some damage to him with the Thanix cannon.

On the way, however, the Normandy is seen chased by multiple Oculi. Based on how many allies were gathered during the journey, the frigate would either fight on its own and sustain heavy damage (two team members are lost), be only partially damaged due to intervention of friendly forces (one team member is lost), or it may come out of the encounter with just superficial scarring.
In the first case, it makes a crash landing on Harbinger, and Joker is mortally wounded. EDI stays by his side, as the others leave.
Otherwise, the Normandy drops the squad off, and flies to safety, while another ship take a beam for it.

The 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 massive, awe-inspiring core, it is glowing bright yellow, and seems to be ‘staring’ at them. The Commander attempts to order everyone to fire at it, but a beam emanates from the swirl inside the core, and strikes him 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, in a more mysterious tone than usual, then says, “Shepard, your struggle against the inevitable has earned you this – the right to learn.”

The Origin of the Reapers

An untold number of years ago, the Citadel and the Mass Relays were created by a race of inquisitive organics. Besieged by an enemy they could not defeat, they envisioned a war machine that would be their salvation. In a terrible sacrifice, millions of members of this race agreed to be melded together, in order to create a terrifying entity – made in the form of their war god – that would save them all from extinction. Seeing as how synthetics had turned on their creators before, this race believed that a synthesis between organics and synthetics would bring “compassion, understanding, and ever-lasting peace.”
Instead, their living war god had developed a sense of self that made him believe he is superior to all other life forms – both those that existed in the past, and any that would exist in the future. He – Harbinger – was the Alpha and the Omega, the final evolution of all life.
When the war was won, the sentient war machine proceeded to harvest its creators, turning them to more Reapers. Out of a peculiar sense of cruelty, some of the creators were allowed to remain… as the keepers, forever living in ignorant servitude to their new masters.

Unfortunately, Reaper brains, due to the ‘mind melding’ that creates them, contain a critical flaw – they are doomed to degrade, degenerate, and eventually dissolve, unless fed a high amount of Element Zero, which had come in contact with a sapient life form. Due to this flaw, the all-powerful synthetics could not simply do away with all life in the galaxy. Instead, they devised a macabre plan that would allow them to survive continuously, and breed new Reapers on the way:
Using the technology of their creators (which they refer to as “their” technology), the Reapers created a bait for space-faring civilizations, which are pumped full of Eezo: they would be allowed to fill certain parts of the galaxy, while becoming tainted with ‘reaper-tech’. Every cycle, that taint allows the Reapers to easily ‘lock on’ to every member of these advanced civilization, and then harvest them, feeding their minds, repairing their bodies, and creating new Reapers to prey on the next cycle.
They refer to that morbid fate of an entire species as ‘ascension’ – a natural assumption on part of a life-form that considers itself superior to everything that ever was, or ever will be.
Then, to conserve their precious minds, the Reapers retreat back to Dark Space, waiting for their next ‘meal’ to reproduce, evolve, advance, and discover the carefully laid traps that were left behind for them.

“Countless others have died before you, Shepard. Countless others will. You cannot stop us, for we are the end of everything you begin. If you truly wish to save those you care about, Ascension is the only way.”
Shepard can pause to consider that offer, or keep on moving. If he does, Harbinger makes other attempts to dissuade him:
“Shepard, we are your genetic destiny. The final evolution of organics and synthetics is to merge. By failing to understand that, you doom the galaxy to the chaos of war.
Without us to impose order, synthetics would rise on their creators, and destroy all organics.
You have touched our transmitter (referring to Object Rho), Shepard, and I have touched your mind. If you attempt to destroy me, know that you will die, and your precious (LI name) would soon follow.”

If the player did not hesitate, he/she is now close enough to the core, to take a shot…

Awakening

Based on the actions that were taken in the ‘dream’ sequence, Commander Shepard wakes up, either realizing his mind was under attack, or stares at the camera, revealing that he is now indoctrinated.
In the later case, he turns on his squad mates, and they all soon become overwhelmed by husks.
Otherwise, he turns towards the real core of Harbinger, and takes the shot.

A cinematic takes place, showing the Commander and companions rushing to flee the damaged Reaper, with dozens of husks running after them. If the Normandy had crashed earlier, they are attempting to board a shuttle, but its pilot is inexperienced, and gets blown up by a passing Oculi. Shepard attempts to use his powers to subdue the abominations, but Harbinger is still emitting his own control field. In the last moment, you see the Commander pounced on by a husk.
If, however, the Normandy had survived, it manages to pick the squad in time, and put a good distance away from Harbinger.
Either way, then the rest of the fleet pays the first of the Reapers his just dues, and he is enveloped by a series of spectacular explosions.

With their leader gone, the Reaper ships are no longer a single, coherent, unyielding force. They are seen being overwhelmed by their unshackled former comrades, and the galactic forces.
The battle of Earth is won.

EPILOGUE

Weak ending: Councilor Anderson is on Earth, standing behind a somewhat burnt podium, and speaking before a gathering of members of different species (based on whose allegiance was won throughout the game):
“Commander Shepard was… a good friend, a good man, and a hero, who has given his life so that we have a real hope at reclaiming our galaxy. Though this war is not over, we all know that from now on, the Reapers are no longer the unbeatable threat they once were. With Harbinger gone, his thrall broken, and our great civilizations mobilized, we will drive the remaining fiends out of our homes! Let us forever remember this day, and the sacrifice made by so many. They died believing that this galaxy was worth saving, and by my life, I swear we shall make it so.
Commander Shepard, the galaxy salutes you!”

During the speech, the camera pans to several different species in the crowd, who look grim, but resolved. Cinematics show Alliance, Turian, Quarian, and Geth ships clashing with single Reapers, mixed with scenes of rebuilding (Earth, Thessia, Palaven, Tuchanka).

Finally, two rows of marines fire their weapons into the air, as the scene fades to black.

Good ending: In the same location, Shepard is giving a speech from the podium, with all the surviving team mates from the three games (Grunt, Jack, Miranda, etc.) standing proudly behind him:
“The Reapers, despite their immense power, were a dead end. From the moment of their creation, they did not advance science, culture, art, or life one bit. Instead, they were stuck on a selfish loop of survival that spelled absolute doom to all other life-forms in the galaxy. They were death personified… but today was a victory for life.
Though the Reaper threat is not over, they are no longer the invincible threat we once imagined them to be. With Harbinger gone, his thrall broken, and the best members of our civilizations standing vigilant together, we will win back our homes, our freedom, and our future.”

During the victorious speech, the camera pans through the many different species present in the crowd (based on choices made in the three games: Rachni! EDI and joker, Geth, Quarians, Krogans, Salarians, etc.), who seem genuinely hopeful. There are also cinematics showing Alliance, Turian, Quarian, and Geth ships clashing with single reapers, mixed with scenes of rebuilding (Earth, Thessia, Palaven, Tuchanka, the Citadel). Some unshackled Reapers are seen heading back to dark space; others fight alongside the rest of the galaxy.

As last choice, the player gets to pick how to finish the speech:

Paragon: “Finally, let us remember those who have given their lives in this struggle. Their sacrifice shall not be forgotten.”
Renegade: “Finally, to all who might dare plot against this united galaxy, I say – be prepared to answer to Commander Shepard.”

Finally,  Anderson walks over to shake Shepard’s hand, and whispers, “you did good, son. You did good.”

THE END…

Inside an unknown, incomplete space station, at the edge of a secluded corridor, filled with bloody corpses and fleshy parts, two blue eyes glow in the dark. As you come closer and closer to these inhuman eyes, their dim light exposes bits of a dreadful, cybernetic, smiling face – the face of The Illusive Man.
He stares directly at you, and says, “Shepard… this isn’t over.”

Categories: Gaming, General
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