Mass Effect: Xenocide

Mass Effect: Xenocide
Chapter One, Part One

     We thought when we killed the Reapers the horror would end. But the most difficult part of the Reaper war was not winning it. The most difficult part is living… and knowing what we sacrificed to win.

-Shepard’s Log: December 12th, 2186 CE

 

     “Dr. Tsoni. Good to see you again.”

“Admiral Hackett! What can I do for you?”

     “Hmm, it’s been a while since I could afford to begin with pleasantries. Feels good. Maybe when the galaxy has calmed down we can all get together for a drink and swap old stories. Unfortunately, there is still business to attend to before then. How is Shepard? Has she started talking yet?”

“No. Not yet. She needs some time.”

     “We need to know what happened. The same time the Reapers and EDI died, all the Geth did too. So, not only are there Batarians looking for vengeance after the Bahak system, but the Quarians are asking a lot of hard questions that I don’t have answers for. I need your help, Liara. I need Shepard.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

     “Good. Hackett out.”


The door slid open with a gentle hiss. The view from the starboard observation deck would have been spectacular, but Shepard had the smart window set to opaque and was using it to watch the Alliance News Network. Most channels were currently showing various scenes of the desolation caused by the Reaper War, but one channel was airing “Battlespace” with Diana Allers already hard at work doing her part to put the galaxy back together.

“Mila.”

Shepard made no effort to respond.

“Admiral Hackett called. I don’t know what happened on the Crucible, but I do know that for some reason, you don’t want to talk about it. That’s okay with me, but Hackett is in a bind without knowing what happened.”

Shepard took a breath and then looked at the ground.

“I killed them.”

“You did. The Reapers were destroyed.”

“No. I’m not talking about the Reapers. The Geth, Liara. EDI. I killed them. I sacrificed them.”

Liara opened her mouth, but no words came out. Realization began to dawn.

“You mean…”

Shepard’s voice was a whisper. Liara had to lean in to hear.

“I chose to kill them. It was the only way, but I chose them all the same.”

“Goddess…what do we tell Hackett?”

“We? This is on my shoulders. I appreciate the sentiment, Liara, but you can’t carry this burden for me…I’ll tell him the truth.”

“So…you’ll submit yourself to the Council, then?”

“The Council?” Shepard spat and the fight in her began to show again as she straightened her back. “No. What have they done for us? Sure, they brought their fleets, but their necks were on the line just like ours. No, my days as a Spectre are over. I’m resigning. I’m telling Hackett the truth because the galaxy deserves to know what it took to win this war, but then I’m done.” She sagged again as the despair returned. “I’m leaving.”

Liara squatted before Shepard and took her hands in her own.

“Then I’m coming with you.”


“That’s my report, Admiral.”

     “Well…nobody is going to like this, Shepard. And I won’t be able to protect you any longer. One way or another, someone is going to ask for your head on a platter, and the council will give it to them. You know that.”

“I do. Which is why I’m resigning. My time as a Spectre is over. The Alliance won’t stand up to the Council, not after Udina’s betrayal. So I’ll save them the trouble of a court-martial. I’m stepping down as Commander too.
Major Williams will make an excellent Commander. She’s already a Spectre. Make sure Lieutenant Vega is her First Mate when he finishes his N7 training. She’ll need a good second in command. I wouldn’t trust the Normandy with anyone besides those two and Joker. I’ll make sure Engineers Adams, Daniels, and Donnelly know they won’t be transferring anywhere soon. Specialist Samantha Traynor too. And I’d be surprised if Dr. Chakwas doesn’t want to retire just yet.”

     “I’ve got no reason to argue with you on that, Shepard.”

“Please. It’s just Mila now.”

     “It’s been an honor…Mila.”

“Likewise, Admiral.”

     “Hackett out.”


To Be Continued…
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I had hoped to finish more by this evening, but it’s going slower than I had planned. But, I promised I’d be releasing some soon, so here’s the beginning. Hope it’s not too slow for you. The next portion of Chapter One will start moving things forward more and give a clear direction as to where this is headed. If things go well, I’ll release the rest of chapter one tomorrow.

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Mass Effect FanFiction: Intro

Warning: SPOILERS and a Very Long Post
TL;DR: Most important things you need to know for the fan fiction rapid fire and summarized: Female Shepard, romanced Liara all the way through, chose to destroy the Reapers, do not hold to Indoctrination Theory, the fan fiction will include a little extra explanation about the ending.
Read on below if you wish.

Greetings! Welcome to my currently untitled Mass Effect FanFiction! This will be the first entry, though it will include little to no story. The Intro will serve to build a base of understanding so that we can all be on the same page. I will briefly dictate the decisions I made that are important to my story.

That being said, if you have not played the series, I highly encourage you to do so. It is old enough now that if you wait around for sales you could potentially buy the entire trilogy for just over $7 like I did (PC).

Note: The playthrough that my fanfiction is based on only included the following single-player DLC: Zaeed – The Price of Revenge (ME2) and Normandy Crash Site (ME2). However, I find the concept of Arrival (ME3) intriguing and may look into incorporating it into my story. I may also look into incorporating Kasumi and Javik in there too, but I have to do more research (or buy the relevant DLC) before then.

THE REST OF THIS POST WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD. REPEAT. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Mass Effect

Cue Mass Effect, game one. I styled my character similar to the one pictured above, choosing female Shepard because I’d rather listen to Jennifer Hale all series long than Mark Meer.

Mila was the first name that popped into my head, so I went with it. It’s not really important within the game so I didn’t put much thought into it. However, checking later, I realized that, depending on what sources you trust, it points to meanings like “miraculous” and “favored”. Pretty appropriate for the situation, if you ask me.

Now we get into the story. For Mila Shepard’s background, I made her a Soldier, Earthborn, and Ruthless. She gets the job done no matter the cost. It sounded like a good quality for a galactic savior to possess.

Keeping in mind her get-the-job-done mindset, for ME1, Shepard focused on neither Paragon nor Renegade, though Paragon came out higher than Renegade. Her focus wasn’t to be saintly or bitchin, she just wanted the job done and done well. War has a habit of bringing out the grayness in morality. She’s a soldier who understood that.

Shepard acquires a full squad for the Normandy SR-1: Kaidan, Ashley, Garrus, Wrex, Tali, Liara.

Shepard, when on Noveria, seeing an opportunity to make a powerful ally, spared the Rachni Queen. Seeing another opportunity for future gain, Shepard spared Shiala. Quality assets are important when Reapers are a galactic threat.

On Virmire, Shepard convinced Wrex to follow her lead. When it came time to plan the course of the battle, Shepard sent Alenko with the Salarians due to his being a ranking officer. His experience would make him a better fit to leading a squad of troops. This meant that it was Williams who was guarding the nuke when the time came to blow the facility. Shepard chose to protect the bomb, guaranteeing the job was done successfully and preventing any chance Saren or the Geth may have had to disarm the bomb before it could blow.

On the way to Ilos, Shepard and Liara made it clear that they felt an affection for each other greater than friendship and camaraderie.

During the battle for the citadel, Shepard made the call to leave the Council to live or die on its own. While others may have interpreted this decision as selfish and pro-humanity, Shepard merely was guaranteeing that they would have enough firepower to bring down Sovereign.

In tune with all her previous decisions, Shepard endorsed Captain Anderson for Councilor, believing that he would be more trustworthy and effective than Udina.

Having made some hard judgment calls and sacrifices along the way, Shepard was neither Renegade nor Paragon, though she was considered more heroic than dastardly by those who knew her well.

Mass Effect 2

Shepard, knowing it is important to have a well equipped and filled out team when saving the galaxy acquired a full Crew (Garrus, Tali, Jacob, Miranda, Mordin, Jack, Samara, Zaeed, Thane, Grunt, Legion). In the same mindset, Shepard set out to gain the loyalty of each member. She was successful in completing each mission, but due to a spat between Jack and Miranda (and my not focusing solely on either Renegade or Paragon), Miranda’s loyalty was not obtained. I felt this was okay and fitting. The tension between them had always been pretty high because of Cerberus. Considering that Miranda joined Cerberus at a young age, it would take a lot for Miranda to put Shepard as her highest loyalty. More on this under Mass Effect 3.

When on Freedom’s Progress, Shepard chose to send Veetor home with Tali. When obtaining Tali’s services, Shepard managed to keep Kal’Reegar alive. Both were thus present and helpful during Tali’s loyalty mission and assisted in acquiring a full pardon for Tali without exposing her father’s actions.

During the rest of the loyalty missions, Shepard called a few important shots. During Thane’s loyalty mission, the assassination attempt by Kolyat was thwarted. On Mordin’s loyalty mission, she spared Maelon and saved the data. Despite the nefarious circumstances under which the data had been obtained, it was hard to argue against the possibility of it being useful down the road. As seen before, Shepard does her best to consider the future. During Legion’s loyalty mission, Shepard made the call to exterminate the heretical Geth. The chance that the Geth could potentially side with the Reapers in the future was not a chance Shepard was willing to take.

Shepard learned and grew from seeing the reactions of friends to her survival and placed a high priority on relationships. It was one of those things that she decided to work on now that she had a second chance. This paid off and the entire crew of the Normandy was saved and everyone survived the suicide mission.

The Collector base was destroyed. Partially this was due to the unease of leaving a partial Reaper laying around, but mostly due to Shepard’s distrust of the Illusive Man.

Shepard finished Mass Effect 2 almost at full Paragon status. She was less split than at the end of Mass Effect 1, but still had a healthy dosage of Renegade. Shepard also remained loyal to Liara T’soni.

Mass Effect 3

Shepard, after the events in Vancouver and finding Liara and the plans for the Crucible, began putting together her team again. The first major decision coming during her interactions with Wrex, Eve, and Mordin. Shepard, who has become entwined with the future of the Krogan, chooses to continue to support their survival, ending the genophage. Mordin Solus sacrifices himself to do so. Due to Maelon’s data being saved, Eve survives and the cure is effective. Overall Salarian aid was lost.

The next mission carries them to the Citadel where Udina’s plot is foiled. Shepard kills Udina and Ashley finally starts to get over her mistrust of Shepard in relation to her dealings with Cerberus (she survives this encounter).

Shepard goes to the aid of the Quarian Migrant Fleet, rescues Legion, supports Legion’s bid to improve the Geth, and convinces the Quarians and Geth to end their war. Peace is achieved. Quarian and Geth aid is won. Legion dies, sacrificing himself for the Geth improvement.

At some point, a few missions and events take place with certain levels of importance to my story (most of which have yet to be figured out). During the mission with Grunt, Shepard spares the Rachni Queen again, sacrificing Aralakh Company. Grunt survives. During the Ardat-Yakshi mission, Shepard stops Samara from killing herself. Falere stays behind. In the Grissom Academy mission, all the students are saved. Shepard recommends that they be allowed to fight. Due to the Zhu’s Hope colonists and Shiala being saved, they join the fight. Shepard requested both Ashley and Dr. Chakwas to serve on the Normandy again.

In the final push to retake Earth, Cortez dies going down with the shuttle. Liara and Garrus take part in the final assault with Shepard, charging the beam. Both are injured but survive. Shepard reaches the beam…and chooses the destruction option.

So.

Mass Effect 3 Ending

Note: This is based on the Extended Cut ending.

I do not think the Indoctrination Theory is accurate. I did…for a while. But the more and more I think about it, the less satisfying it is. But, the actual footage should not still be taken at face value.

It is important to understand that the Reapers and the Catalyst were not omniscient. They were limited in their knowledge. This is important. The Catalyst did not fully know the scope of the Crucible. It admits that “with each passing cycle the design has no doubt evolved”. It also admits it had thought the design had been eradicated. Yet it survived. And, this cycle itself has improved the design even more. (Note: The Catalyst also ignores the fact that EDI exists and partners with organics as well as the possible peace between the Quarians and Geth)

On top of that, the Crucible changed the Catalyst. It said so itself. The three options were not all there previously. Especially synthesis. The Catalyst said it had not known it was possible. So, the Catalyst is not an entirely trustworthy narrator here. Shepard should not assume that everything it said is true. Plus it was clear the Catalyst was attempting to steer Shepard toward Control or Synthesis. It had an agenda: survival. Destruction was purposefully put in the worst light.

So, why did Harbinger not just kill Shepard? Why even allow Shepard to get close to the destruction option? The reason is simple, though I’m still slightly unsatisfied. Harbinger missed. We already saw that Shepard was able to dodge Reaper shots when on Rannoch. Shepard dodged enough of the shot to survive, but Harbinger got close enough to injure him. Harbinger thought the immediate threat was over and thus left to protect the Citadel again.

So, next question. Anderson. Illusive Man. How the frick are they on the Citadel? Well, Illusive man is simple, we’re told when we assault his main base of operations that he already fled to the Citadel. His case is solved easy. But Anderson? Tactics. Let me explain. If you watch the cutscenes, the last we see of him is at the top of the hill before we charge down. Harbinger has just touched down immediately before we see the last of Anderson. Anderson knows the likely-hood of them getting there is slim to none. The first wave of troops sent is a feint. But it’s got to be a convincing feint, so Shepard, as the Reaper’s biggest enemy, goes with. Harbinger misses Shepard, Shepard is wounded, presumably dead in Harbinger’s mind. Major Coats moves forward with the plan, calling for everyone left to retreat. Harbinger is convinced that he has killed everyone near the beam and no one else is charging it just yet, so he goes back to rejoin the defense. Anderson then sends in, including himself, the second wave. Since we can’t see this wave, and since Anderson is the only one who joins Shepard on the Citadel, we can safely assume that Harbinger or another Reaper that had originally left the fight to protect the beam returned and gave stiff resistance. Cue phase three of Anderson’s plan: Major Coats once again leads a retreat, distracting the defending Reaper enough that Anderson makes it to the beam. So, Anderson and Illusive Man and Shepard are on board the Citadel. Everything proceeds as we have seen.

This is where the player choice comes in. Shepard either gives in to the Catalyst’s guiding and chooses control or synthesis, or Shepard resists the Catalyst’s leading and destroys the Reaper. Or Shepard ignores the three presented options and walks away. In that case, the Reapers continue on harvesting the galaxy. The one question then is what about the Crucible? The Crucible supposedly changed the Catalyst. My guess is that the Reapers figure out how to disconnect and destroy the Crucible because oh look, once again organics weren’t ready to synthesize, not even Shepard. Gotta keep on keeping on.

So, Shepard chooses to destroy the Reapers and the Catalyst. Boom. All other synthetic life is then terminated, yes? Maybe. The Catalyst was not entirely certain about how the Crucible would work. The language it used was always slightly uncertain. The changes this cycle made it knows little to nothing about. If I recall correctly, the members of this cycle were already aware of the need to focus the Crucible to take out only the Reapers. It is safe to say they paid a little attention to that aspect. Shepard’s survival could be handwaved away by saying that she was only part synthetic so of course, she survived. However, EDI’s name was on the memorial wall on the Normandy. And she was shown along with Legion and Mordin while Hackett talked about those who died. Yet the Geth were not shown, only Legion. What I’m saying is it is left up to interpretation. And that is precisely what I’m going to do: interpret. You’ll have to read my Fan Fiction to know what that interpretation is though. 😛

Last thought. Starchild. Why? Simple. The child was real. The child died. Maybe the dreams were partly affected by Reaper influence, maybe they weren’t. I think the child symbolized the weight of leaving Earth behind and the weight of the galaxy. The Catalyst chose to take the shape of the child because it knew the importance the child bore in Shepard’s mind as well as because children symbolize innocence. If it took the shape of a Reaper, Shepard would have been less likely to follow its guidance.

Okay. I think you know everything you need to for my Fanfiction. I don’t even know if all of it will be important, and it is possible that I missed some too, but I did my best. I am sorry this post got so long. If you include all the hours of gameplay as well as the hours spent thinking and researching, I’ve spent over 200 hours getting to this point. I needed to be thorough for the sake of my own sanity.

The Much Avoided Writing Update

I’ve been avoiding this because I’m feeling partly ashamed. I’ve gotten precious little forward progress done in the last month. Sometimes that’s how writing goes. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, but I still struggle to feel good about it. Technically it is progress though.

So. What progress is that?

Well, I’ve pretty much lost sight of damn near everything I thought I knew my fantasy novel was going to be. For all visible purposes, I’m back to the drawing board. But going back to the drawing board is not defeat, fellow writers! It is forward progress! It’s simply the invisible variety.

A tactical retreat back to square one is not lost ground. What you have accomplished is you have figured out something that your novel is not! That’s good! That is progress.

Part of my struggle has been depression. Im not depressed, but I’m pretty close. It’s around the corner, and for a while there it almost had me again. I eased off the self-pressure, played a few new videogames to clear my head, and now I’m ready to go again.

So, what’s the new direction if the old one didn’t pan out?

For the fantasy novel, it’s back to the world-building. I’ve got some ideas, some tweaks to the old world, some additions, some new inspiration for plot… Yes, things are looking up. I’ve got pieces of a plot in my head that I’m working on stitching together. When that is finished, I’ll post another update.

Now, if you’ve paid attention, you’ll remember that I am not working on only one project. Previously I had two. If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that two became three and recently became four!

Am I crazy? Undeniably.

My second project, the HFY Jenkinsverse sci-fi noire audio-drama is still making slow forward progress that will continue. Launch date has been pushed back to who knows when. Life is shifting for some of the main people involved. The next update will hopefully have a more solid idea.

Now, what are these two new projects?!

The third project is one that I have an idea for but will be holding off on it until projects one and two move further forward. It is a sci-fi novel that I am extremely excited about! I will have a post devoted to it in the next week or two.

The fourth project is what I am most excited about currently though.

I’m killing two birds with one stone. One of the new games I played was Mass Effect. Followed quickly by Mass Effect 2 and then Mass Effect 3. I am absolutely in love with this series! So in love that I am doing something I never thought I would ever do! I’m writing a fanfiction. So, first, I am satisfying that fanfiction itch with this fourth project. Second, I am satisfying an itch to have a project I can share as it progresses! Yes, this means that, chapter by chapter, I will be sharing this fanfiction here on my blog! This is the truly exciting part!

Obviously, if you are a fan of the Mass Effect series, you have questions. Have no fear, I will answer one of those now. This fanfiction will take place immediately after the conclusion of ME3 extended cut. The rest of your questions will be answered in the first fanfiction post which will serve to introduce the story by detailing the choices I made and characters that survived so that we can start on the same page.

I’m so excited to be writing in the Mass Effect universe! It’s gonna be awesome! Until next time!

Random Star Wars Thoughts (with an emphasis on New Trilogy stuff)

Here’s how this is gonna work. I have random thoughts. Each thought get’s its own paragraph. No particular order.


Qui-Gon Jinn is the truest of Jedis. He alone believed correctly that Anakin was the Chosen One. He was the one to figure out and teach even Yoda (and transversely Obi-Wan) how to materialize as a Force ghost after death.

The Prequel Trilogy focuses on the failure of the Jedi Council. I found this to be really cool (and fits with the original trilogy really well). Yoda stated that the Jedi were in decline even before Palpatine’s plan really took off. Yoda basically straight up stated they were vulnerable to the Sith.

Luke was not the last hope of the Jedi. Leia was the last hope if Luke had failed. This is old trilogy stuff. She even was demonstrated to be Force-sensitive though she hardly tapped into it. So, her use of the force in The Last Jedi is entirely unsurprising. The question this brings up, though, is now that Luke is dead (and potentially might appear in episode nine as a force ghost?), what is Leia’s role in the Force? This is a big question especially following the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher (RIP).

The Last Jedi made it seem like the Jedi religion should end. I cheer this thought. However, Rey stole the sacred texts…what does that mean? Is she gonna resurrect the Jedi? I hope not. The Sith are dead, let the Jedi die too.

Some people didn’t like the “dropped” bombs in The Last Jedi…forgetting that bombs were also “dropped” in The Empire Strikes Back. However, the visual dictionary makes it clear no bombs were dropped. They were launched off of magnetic rails.

The Last Jedi did ignore some science though. Like, why the heck did those great big lasers curve? What’s up with that? Also…hyperspace sacrificial ramming…why did no one think of that before? It would have easily taken out the Death Star.

Some people ripped hardcore on the Rey/Finn/Kylo fight in The Force Awakens. They forget that Rey was already an accomplished melee combatant (quarterstaff) and thus had the basic idea of how to wield a sword (her lack of expertise in swordplay, though, was painfully obvious). I saw on Twitter this morning some dude complaining that The First Order stormtroopers would have no reason to know how to fight with a sword or even against a sword. They conveniently forgot that the Jedi threat was alive and well (see the fact that Kylo trained under Luke and Luke quite obviously survived and could have easily started another school wherever he had gone into hiding). Stormtroopers had every reason to be trained in anti-Jedi techniques. It makes sense that Finn knew some scrap of melee technique that he used against Kylo. Also, Kylo Ren. People were like, how’d Rey best him and all? Well, Kylo underestimated her strength in the Force (partially cuz she didn’t tap into it until partway through the fight). Also, he got shot BY A FRICKING BOW CASTER. That weapon is so powerful it threw a stormtrooper against the wall so hard his armor shattered. Kylo had to use much of his focus on keeping himself able to even walk around, let alone fight. He was SEVERELY hampered. Rey winning the fight makes sense.

Some people say Luke’s actions in The Last Jedi don’t fit his character. I say bull. Luke was indeed the last Jedi. He started a school to train youngsters. When Solo began showing signs of the dark side, Luke, for a moment, realized he could end that threat immediately by killing him. He’s human, of course he’s gonna be tempted by that even though he successfully helped Vader turn back to the light. But, he immediately threw that temptation out the window, but not before Solo noticed. There were consequences. This failure on Luke’s part, and the slaughter of all those youngsters, are easily enough to send Luke into despair and exile. He lost his confidence. He lost his faith. It makes sense. Also, some didn’t like that he only projected himself across the galaxy instead of showing up. They forget he had no ship anymore (you can see his X-Wing is in no shape to fly at all) and by the time he changed his mind and decided to help, Rey was long gone. Projection was his only way (thank the Lord Disney trashed the Force flying through outerspace stuff from the old EU). And, Luke’s death means he could reappear as a Force ghost (which we know from the Old trilogy that being a ghost is even more powerful than being physical).

C-3P0 Versus Jar-Jar. Personal taste here, but I enjoyed Jar-Jar’s comedic relief far more than C-3P0’s.

Some people talk about how the original trilogy just has that “star wars magic” feel. I don’t feel that until Episode VI. Honestly, for me the Prequels have more “star wars magic” than the originals. So shoot me.

I’ve seen people hating on Rose’s character in The Last Jedi. I don’t see what’s to hate there. Her character was the catalyst for Finn’s character growth. And, while she may not have changed much in The Last Jedi, there is great potential for growth in Episode IX.

People also hated on the whole Poe and Hodor (whatever her name was, that vice-admiral chick) fiasco. But they missed the point, I think. The point was to show that sometimes the good guys can go on this whole big mission and to save the day…and fail. Failure was the point. Failure was the point of The Last Jedi in general. Some argue about protocol and such. But let’s think back to the situation. They’re being tracked through hyperspace (a technology that has never been seen before in any of the three trilogies). Hodor probably didn’t have a plan when Poe wanted to know what the plan was. Even if she did, isn’t part of the role of the soldier to follow orders even if you don’t understand why they’re given? Some information is on a need to know basis. Perhaps this was need to know and Poe didn’t need to know. Anyway, Poe thinks he can save the day (and they did have a chance) but they failed. This subplot was important because Poe begins to learn what it means to be a leader and not just a hotshot flyboy.

Rey a Mary Sue? First, what is a Mary Sue? A lot of people arguing this that I’ve heard didn’t actually know what a Mary Sue was. Wikipedia gives a pretty simple definition: “A Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish fulfillment. They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience.” According to this definition, Rey is not, in fact, a Mary Sue. She is far from idealized and perfect. On Ahch-To, she let curiosity get the better of her and she unwisely explored the dark side place of power on her own. During The Force Awakens, until she is forced to for survival, she runs from her destiny as a force user. She is overconfident in her abilities too (something Han notes when he’s giving her his blaster). She goes to confront Kylo and Snoke and ends up playing directly into Snoke’s hands. She fails to turn Kylo to the light side. She is far from a perfect character. Now, in terms of her skills and such it makes sense. She grew up as a scavenger on Jakku. She has intimate knowledge of ship pieces and such from that which is why she’s good at fixing stuff. Her whole survival was based on being a good scavenger. She obviously spent a decent amount of time flying things too. She spent time defending herself from attackers with her quarterstaff. All those skills that she “seems to be so perfect at” were simply necessary for survival on Jakku. Though, she probably shouldn’t have survived the fight with the Elite Guards, but that can be explained away with her growing Force sensitivities and power.

Want to hear my thoughts on anything I haven’t touched on about the New Trilogy stuff? Or want to hear more thoughts on old trilogy or prequel trilogy stuff? Let me know in the comments what you are curious about or would like to discuss! Or, if you disagree with me on something, feel free to comment and we can discuss that too!

Star Wars: A Review

Even as I’ve been writing this, my mind has changed multiple times in its opinions about the two new episodes of Star Wars. But let’s rehash before we get there.

The Original Trilogy (SPOILERS but who are you even if you haven’t seen these?)

George Lucas gave us the Force, the light against the dark, the Empire and the Rebellion, good versus evil. He gave us a hero’s journey. Luke began as a whining, selfish farmboy, but grew to a rebel fighting for something bigger than himself, and then finally to a knight fighting for good even with the willingness to sacrifice himself for it. Luke was supported by his mentors and a cast of friends and allies.

Some of these friends had similar arcs. Leia grew from a distrusting and dismissive princess to a friend and then a family member fighting against all odds for that family. Han Solo grew from a selfish smuggler to a friend to a leader.

The Prequel Trilogy (SPOILERS but really you should have seen them already)

The prequel trilogy gave us a story of failure. These films took a deeper look at Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda and Darth Sidious. While it was a success story for Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, the focus was on the failure of Kenobi and Yoda and the Jedi Council.

The Jedi teachings of that era were not wise or healthy. They focused too much on their traditions and such and were far too oppressive and untrusting of Anakin. They failed to be good listeners and failed to be good mentors. They ultimately helped him become Darth Vader, though he bears more of the blame.

We get to see Sidious’ rise to power and that he is strong and calculating, but we also see his weakness on multiple occasions. He takes risks and is overconfident at times. He trusts too much in his foresight. These are what led to his downfall in Episode VI.

The New Trilogy (SPOILERS go watch them, why are you waiting?)

Well, the first two at least. I’ll come back and update this in two years after Episode IX comes out.

The new trilogy builds off of the characters of the original trilogy (with the exception of Yoda who is in all three trilogies), but it requires the themes from both the original and the prequel trilogies.

Here’s where my mind changed a bit.

The Force Awakens I originally was disappointed in for taking the shape of A New Hope and changing it a little. But I have since come to realize that this was a good move. TFA hearkens back to the original Star Wars film to place our focus on our understanding of the Force and the Jedi and Sith.

TFA introduces us to Rey and Finn and Poe (light) and Kylo and Snoke and Hux (dark), two sets of three characters who are vital to the goal (I’m presuming here) of the new trilogy. It also brings in old characters like Han Solo, Leia Organa-Skywalker-Solo (lol), Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker. Chewbacca is a side character as usual, and Leia receives little focus, and Luke hardly any, but Han is pivotal to the story.

Alright. Characters. Poe is a hotshot flyboy. Finn is a defector turned Rey’s friend. Hux is an admiral dude. Snoke is a supreme baddie. They’re not really important until The Last Jedi. It’s Rey and Kylo that are the focus.

Kylo is being trained in the dark side by Snoke. But he’s got his own dreams and aspirations. He aspires to finish what Vader started (presumably ending the Jedi, he wants to find and end Luke). But he struggles with his emotions, especially in connection with his family. This is where Han comes in. Kylo kills him in an effort to overcome these emotions and be more accepted by Snoke.

Rey doesn’t want to be a Jedi or be involved in this fight all that much. But Kylo forced her to be involved when he captured her and took her to Starkiller base. Everyone survives (except Han, RIP ol’ buddy).

The Last Jedi takes all that we previously knew and/or held dear and turned that on its head, but in a good way.

 

In TLJ, nothing done before seems to end up the same way. You know, being a flyboy and blowing stuff up (Luke/Poe), putting your friends before the cause (Luke/Finn), being a Jedi (Luke/Rey), trying to get the bad guy to turn to the light side (Luke/Rey), being the supreme baddie puppet master dude (Palpatine/Snoke), killing Jedi (Vader/Kylo), passing on Jedi teachings (Yoda/Luke), being a Sith/Jedi (all previous force users/Rey and Kylo (and Snoke)), having parents (Luke/Rey)…

TLJ puts forth this idea of not doing things the way they were done before, of putting the past behind you. TLJ makes us look at Star Wars in a fresh way. It makes us question the value of what we’ve seen before. TLJ has wiped the slate clean. The next movie, which I am fondly calling From His Nap (get it? get it? The Force Awakens The Last Jedi From His Nap? get it? no? I thought it was funny, though it’s not my joke), could rebuild the Jedi order, learning from past mistakes (Rey grabbed the old dusty tomes from the tree and put them in the Falcon), or the Sith/Jedi could be over and maybe something more akin to the Grey Jedi will be born. Who knows? It’s a world of possibility. Rian Johnson basically gave J.J. Abrams a blank canvas to work with. I previously hoped with a passion that the Sith/Jedi wouldn’t return, but now I’m okay with it. We shall see.

The biggest strength of TLJ, though, is the character growth. Poe goes from flyboy to leader, Finn from runaway to soldout for the cause, Luke from failed mentor to embracing change (I’m assuming we’ll see his force ghost in Episode IX for more Rey training stuffs), Kylo from struggling subordinate to Supreme Leader (ALL HAIL), Rey goes from still struggling to find her place to knowing she belongs fighting for the Resistance and her friends.

Anyway, I for one am excited for Episode IX.

 

I know I didn’t address all the complaints about TLJ, but this is already long enough. I’ll do that in another post. For now, I am a big fan of TFA and TLJ. Also, after my watch through of the first six, my loose rankings (based on levels of enjoyment, not necessarily quality, though the quality is still a big factor):

  1. Revenge of the Sith
  2. Return of the Jedi
  3. The Last Jedi
  4. Attack of the Clones
  5. The Force Awakens
  6. The Phantom Menace
  7. A New Hope
  8. The Empire Strikes Back

If I threw Rogue One into the mix, it might fall at number two. But I need to watch it a second time before putting it into the rankings.

Thoughts on World-Building and my Writing Process

World-Building is quickly becoming my favorite aspect of creating High Fantasy writing. But, as this is my first time writing a novel, I’ve been winging it. There is hardly any method to my madness here.

When I began my story, I had a character and a basic plot. I started to create a world around it. As the world grew, the plot shifted and changed and grew. The character changed some and was filled out more. I added characters. I did more world-building. Things continued to change. Characters disappeared, others grew bigger. I started working on adding a magic system, and the plot just kinda went up in smoke as a result. So I decided I’d turn things around. I began focusing on the world-building first, plot second. I’ve had far more success this way.

At this point, in my mind, it makes more sense to build a world before building a plot. I want the world to make sense and I want the plot to fit the world. Achieving both goals, I expect, will aid in reader immersion. In an effort to achieve both simultaneously, I discarded all previous plot ideas, even putting aside all the characters I’ve created already. I effectively began anew.


 

To begin my world-building, I decided a few things. I wanted Humans for sure. I wanted other races too, but I didn’t know what other races to have. So I went to Pinterest.

Writing Tip: Let me tell you, Pinterest is a crazy useful tool as a writer. I began with searching for fantasy characters. I found some orcs. I began looking at orcs. I knew I wanted orcs in my novel and I had a brilliant idea for an orc culture based off of a few of the orc characters I found.

Okay. So I had Humans and Orcs. I began creating an Orc culture that was not the usual. I thought to myself: I see male orcs all the time. I don’t see female orcs often. So, I created a sect of orcs entirely comprised of Orc Warrior Women. They gave themselves a name (that will not yet be disclosed).

I also created an Orc chieftain who ruled over the majority of the Orcs (the warrior women live apart from the rest). I had a King. I took an old character, changed him a bit, and made him King over a human nation. I had two kings. I grabbed an old idea for a necrophage hivemind. They started threatening all the nearby kingdoms.

Suddenly I had a world event. I envisioned a council of kings coming together to take on the necrophage hivemind. Whether or not this would be part of the plot, I didn’t know.

At this point, because I’m crazy and have no clue what I’m doing, I went searching for cover art inspiration. I found some. The old work in progress name The Blood of Monsters changed to something new (that will also not yet be disclosed).

As a result of this cover art, I knew this council of kings would have five kings. I knew then that Elves were going to be a thing. Back to Pinterest. I created another King and a Prince. I had three kings. (where I am at, I still have three kings. I don’t know who the other two are yet)

Okay. I had a question. Why was this necrophage hivemind just now becoming a threat to the region? I found an answer. I created a lesser deity. I gave him a name. He needed a motive. So I made a greater deity.

I discovered a new question. If deities exist, what about magic? I decided yes, magic is real. So I pulled in a mysterious order of mages that I had created previously. They were mysterious once more. (I still need to finish the magic system)

I considered the lesser deity. I decided his motive would have further reaching consequences than the necrophage hivemind. So I created monsters. More monsters. I started building some world lore. Religion began to take shape. I then remembered I still had no plot, not even a main character. I despaired.

I dug through my old plot ideas. Picked up a few pieces. Banged off the broken bits. Glued a few good parts together. Inserted my old MC. I had successfully birthed a plot baby. I planted it in my world. It fit perfectly. It needs to grow now.

Now, I have a baby world and a baby plot. They fit together though. Mission accomplished. On to phase two. I need to water them. They will hopefully grow together in the ideal symbiotic relationship.


 

So…back to thoughts on world-building. I believe quality world-building is important. I think it is crucial, even, to a well-crafted story. When I read a book, I expect to be dragged into full immersion. If I don’t find a book an immersive experience, I generally don’t want to continue reading. So, if pairing world-building and plot together into a seamless entity is part of a strong immersive environment, what else can be done?

After reading the introduction to Jesper Schmidt‘s Fantasy Map Making (I’ll be writing a review of this book soon), I agreed with him that creating a map for your story is an excellent tool to achieve greater levels of immersion. Many people are visual learners. A visual map can help a reader avoid confusion by remembering which country borders which or what direction the ocean is in from a specific city because they saw a map. I know when I see a map in a book, the author is typically more invested in making certain I am immersed. I am more likely to read a fantasy or sci-fi book with a map than without a map. (read his book for more discussion maps and map making for your world)

I will say one more thing about maps though. One of Schmidt’s points is that a map can be useful for the writer too. It can help you keep things straight as you write. So, with this in mind, one of my next steps is going to be creating a map of my world. I am pretty excited about it.

Until next time.

A (not actually) random poem I wrote.

I wrote a poem. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision working off of five seconds of inspiration. Well, more like one word of inspiration. A word that doesn’t exist, but fits the emotion I’m feeling. You’ll see it in action momentarily. Most likely you don’t need an explanation, but for the poem’s impact (that I hope actually exists) I want to make sure it is understood. So let me explain it with a math problem.

Comfort + Confusion = Comfusion

aka…

tenor

Depression, But Weird.

The wait of loneliness

blankets me with the weight

of comfusion.

I pull it closer, ironically;

its warmth hiding me from the

aliens I call friends.

They call me out, but I refuse

to come

and confess: these lies I believe,

I hate…

…and love them

at the same time.

Why admit I’m wrong?

-JP Tomcik

 

Update: After thinking on this poem for a few days, I am considering getting rid of “comfusion” and changing it simply to “confusion”. I think it will serve the poem better. Thoughts?