During my many years in the Mass Effect fandom, I’ve seen many fanfiction authors embrace the “No Reapers AU”, where AU stands for Alternate Universe, marking a departure from canon large enough to affect the entire setting. This may be done for a number of different reasons. The author may dislike the notion of the Reapers and the save-the-world narrative framework; they might want to distance themselves from themes such as indoctrination or ignore the existence of factions like Cerberus; from Shepard as the protagonist and their tired hero’s journey; last but definitely not least, this might be the means to keep favorite characters, like Saren and Nihlus, alive past the timeline of the first game. This comes at the price of effectively deleting much of the official content and usually requires supplementing it with much of one’s own world-building.
Needless to say, all sorts of AUs are possible and “No Reapers” is only an example.
Well, lately I’ve been thinking about a “No Humans AU”.
While excavating the drawers of my former desk, I came across a bunch of developments sketches for Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre (TTSS), my Mass Effect novel from 2019. It’s mostly maps and scenography plans.
Five years after I wrote a post with the same title, announcing the move of the community archives of recorded Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer games from their original abode on the Bioware Social Network forums (that were being shut down at the time) to a dedicated website at www.prestaciouschallenges.com, I made my old dream come true and turned those archives into an online database accessible through a website of my own making at mehof.smehur.com.
This project has taken me over half a year (and counting) of daily work, fueled in equal parts by the intractable passion for programming and the undying fandom zeal, and laced with so much fun that I’m sure to remember it fondly forever. I’m so very glad and proud that it’s finally live (although it’s still not 100% done).
Athusia, the neurologist, looked at him from across the table. The light of the folding lamp appeared as two tiny pinpricks in dark, violet-framed eyes as he stared, for ten seconds if not more, at Saren’s face.
“At ease,” Saren said at last. Athusia let the datapad fall between his hands. It clacked against the rest.
“You said it yourself: it wasn’t a dream. I shouldn’t keep you,” Athusia replied after another long pause. The chair swivelled to the left as he stood. “I should return to my work.”
The next morning, Nihlus gets up early to prepare breakfast. The weather outside is still terrible. The storm had lessened during the night, but by the time he got back in bed, it had picked up again, accompanied by a fresh chorus of ferocious howls. Now, hard clumps of snow are smacking against the window like the wind’s percussive accompaniment. He swirls the leftover tequila and drains it in one gulp, setting the flask on the table with a loud thunk. There.