I’m aware they’re – somewhat – revising the ending this summer, but I need to work with what I have really. I also doubt that they’ll completely rewrite the ending.
For MY Shepard’s ending you can read #CorwinsChronicle (search term) over on G+, I’ll be posting my epilogues there as well, as I imagine them.
For my Mass Effect games and RPG conversion, you can assume that ‘Grim Canon’ is the deal. ‘Reconcile’ is my attempt to ‘explain’ what does happen in better terms. ‘Stock Explanation’ is what I think happened, informed by the internet as well.
How the Fuck Does the Illusive Man get to the Citadel?
The Stock Explanation: The Reapers let The Illusive Man on to try and talk Shepard and Anderson down. The obvious problem with this is that he’s betrayed them and while he might be indoctrinated, how the buggery did he get there?
Reconcile: Well, I guess they could have, but they’re not the most personable of creatures and The Illusive Man seems to think he still has a chance of controlling them. I suppose these vast, killer, intelligences could play obsequious and kowtow to him to make him think he’s in control, but I don’t see it myself. Since he wasn’t at the Cerberus Base he could be anywhere, so there’s plenty of ways he could have gotten to The Citadel.
Grim Canon: Cerberus infiltrated the research facility set up on Ilos following the events of ME1. The Illusive Man and much of his remaining forces made a move on Ilos pretty much the moment they figured out what The Catalyst was. The Conduit was powered up and used to transport them to The Citadel and while The Illusive Man lost the forces he took with him getting to the control centre where he confronted Shepard and Anderson. He’s been self-indoctrinated since… well, a long time. The recent visible changes are a result of battle damage and ‘upgrades’ learned from Lawson.
What is this Child AI?
The Stock Explanation: This is the controlling AI intelligence of the Relay Network and the force behind The Reapers. Some artefact of whatever truly ancient civilisation first set about creating The Reapers and designed this cycle.
Reconcile: OK, fair enough, but it seems odd that you would ‘protect’ the universe from synthetics with a synthetic. The Reapers themselves aren’t truly machines, per se, they’re cybernetic, organic and synthetic together. This ‘intelligence’ makes more sense as a VI or shackled AI in the service of the original Reapers and a device to coordinate and control the relays and The Keepers.
Grim Canon: It’s a VI, as above.
The Stock Explanation: There isn’t one. The mass relays appear to explode but as we know from the exploding Alpha Relay this would normally destroy a system. We know it doesn’t do that this time because we see The Reapers collapse on Earth, without the Earth being destroyed. We don’t really know why.
Reconcile: Undirected the energy is enough to destroy a system but the Crucible/Catalyst interaction isn’t undirected. It makes a massive field effect which is, essentially, biotic and uses The Reaper’s own network to bugger the up and knock them out. There is still a massive outpouring of energy, but the gate network is set up to deal with that. There are planet-empty systems that are safe points where relay energy can be dumped, such as Raheel-Leyya. The energy passed along the relay system that would destroy systems uncontrolled, is dumped safely into these expendable systems.
Grim Canon: As above.
The Stock Explanation: This isn’t addressed, but the Mass Relays are gone. Everyone’s pretty much buggered, relatively speaking. Top-end civilisation FTL is 15ly/day, Reaper FTL is 30ly/day. The Protheans only just about managed to build a mini-relay at the very end of their civilisation and that was only two-way.
Reconcile: Yep, this is what happens. The Reaper FTL will open things up more, pretty quickly, but a relay is going to be decades away.
Grim Canon: As above. There are ways around it – potentially – super-big ‘carriers’. There’s going to be plenty of Eezo from all those dead reapers and fleet wrecks, not to mention the smashed relay. Earth is likely to become the technological and military centre of a new galactic civilisation, but it’s going to take years to explore and re-contact all the other worlds and civilisations. This makes for a bloody interesting galaxy and some great long term RPG campaign play.
Joker Runs Away With All Your Mates
The Stock Explanation: There isn’t one. Out of nowhere Joker seems to have grabbed all your friends and fled for the stars. Not to mention that without a relay he’s suddenly across the galaxy crashing onto an Eden-like world, despite there being no reason why The Normandy should be shoved around or blown up… of everything that happens this makes the least sense.
Reconcile: As Hammer falls back and everything goes to shit on the ground the survivors – including your squad – are falling back too but without something drastic occurring they’re fucked. Joker breaks ranks for the sake of his friends and even though the SR2 isn’t class-rated for atmospheric entry on planets such as Earth… he’s Joker! He pulls it off, slips through while The Reapers are attacking the ground forces and trying to close in on The Citadel. He blasts a small Reaper with The Thanix Cannon at the nose of The Normandy and gets the squad on board before hightailing it as fast as possible to rejoin the fleet. The ships CLOSE to The Citadel are blasted by the shockwave. Joker is, however, Joker and manages to turn away and ‘surf’ the blastwave, even as it picks up speed and power and breaks FTL. The Mass Effect Wave combined with the native FTL and Joker being fabulous, as well as EDI being on board and super smart allow them to drop out of FTL and effect a crash landing on Zorya. Though they’re now effectively stranded.
Grim Canon: Joker does come down to save the crew and airlifts them and a bunch of Alliance Marines out of trouble. Takes a hit from a Reaper and goes down, managing to flee to a rural/equatorial/jungle area (African Congo?) as far as possible from London and The Reapers.
Destroy All Synthetics?
The Stock Explanation: Choosing the Destroy ending supposedly would kill EDI and The Geth as well. Thing is, the Reapers aren’t really synthetics, they’re cybernetic, a fusion of organic and machine. EDI and the Geth are fully synthetic, not organic and not based on the same tech as The Reapers. Given that the Destroy ending neglects to show EDI we can suppose that the threat is true and that synthetics were destroyed.
Reconcile: It’s a bluff. The Reapers are trying to use your connection to EDI and the Geth to pluck your heartstrings and get you to choose something different.
Grim Canon: The destroy ending is the one that occurs. It doesn’t kill EDI or the Geth because they’re fully synthetic and not based on Reaper tech. It was a bluff. Furthermore The Reapers are disabled/killed but husks are not and as we know, even dormant Reapers are dangerous. The fight to liberate Earth – and the rest of the Galaxy – is now winable, but far from over.
Control the Reapers?
The Stock Explanation: You control the Reapers, despite being consumed in the effort. They back off.
Reconcile: It’s another bluff. The Illusive Man knew far more about this side of it than you did and he succumbed. Your mind gets swallowed up by The Reapers. A few people escape – like Joker – but The Crucible is destroyed and the Reapers proceed to eat the Galaxy. Nom, nom, nom.
Grim Canon: Shep ain’t this stupid.
The Stock Explanation: Robots and people somehow fuse, a change in DNA? Something. Incoherent, but it does at least fit the happy clippy, hippy vibe if you’ve taken the Paragon route all the time. It still doesn’t really make any sense though.
Reconcile: Biotic adjustment? Latent nanotech? This one’s beyond my storytelling powers I’m afraid.
Grim Canon: This doesn’t happen.