Plot bunny: Mass Effect AU (Phht)



Humanity discovers the Prothean cache on Mars, and is led to the thawing of the Mass Relay orbiting Pluto. They go exploring, expanding their reach, and colonizing systems. Relay 314 incident occurs.

First Contact War

During the fighting in addition to unmanned probes directly into Turian space, scouting units are dispatched to find the borders, so to speak, of turian space, etc. One group makes it as far as the Hawking Eta cluster around the time Shanxi falls. While checking out the cluster, they notice an oddity in the atmosphere of a gas giant in the Thorne system. Further examination reveals an unknown derelict. They recover the derelict and ferry it to the Styx Theta Cluster to a newly created research base before the war ends.

Spheres of Influence

Council Space
Regions considered Council Space are those of planets and groups that follow the United Banking Act and the Citadel Conventions, and are part of the Council - either by having a seat on the Council, or by having an embassy on the Citadel. All regions in Council space follow all Council laws.

Asari, Salarian, Turian, Elcor, and Volus are among the known members of Council Space.

Citadel Space
Regions considered Citadel Space are those of planets and groups that follow the United Banking Act and the Citadel Conventions, but are not part of the Council by seat or embassy and largely do not follow all Council laws. They may also limit the authority of the Council within their borders. Worlds that are newly on the galactic stage due to First Contact are placed here, though they may not follow the UBA or Conventions yet. If they rejected accepting either one, they are shifted to the Terminus Systems.

The Systems Alliance and the Krogan DMZ are largely the only known members of Citadel Space. The Quarian Migrant Fleet used to technically be part of Citadel Space.

Terminus Systems
Regions are considered part of the Terminus Systems because they follow the United Banking Act but not many (if any) other Council laws.

Lawless systems
Regions are considered lawless because they follow neither the United Banking Act nor the Citadel Conventions nor any laws, and may be controlled totally by pirates and/or slavers.


The Alliance does not become an associate member of the Council in 2165, but does accept following the Citadel Conventions and United Banking Act. They enjoy good trade with Council space as well as various parts of the Terminus Systems. As part of their self-exclusion from Council space, non-Alliance ships are not allowed outside of the system with the Mass Relay they entered the Cluster at. This has led to several well-defended trade systems along the "border" and relatively few complaints.

Batarians protest Alliance expansion into the Skyllian Verge, but nothing is done due to the Alliance being outside Council control. The Skyllian Blitz occurs in 2172 with a strong Batarian military presence rather than solely pirate gangs. It's repulsed and a Batarian-Alliance conflict rages for two years before the Council can negotiate an end to the fighting. The Batarians come off quite badly in the war and lose much of their territory - the majority of which was kept by the Alliance after the war.

In 2178, negotiations began in an attempt to bring the Alliance into Council space and join the Council (as an associate member, of course). As part of the process, a joint Turian-Human-Quarian ship design program occurred. In 2181, the SSV Normandy SR-1 was launched as a result of the program. It uses 2-3+ generation old Human tech rather than the best stuff to keep the Turians and Council from learning just how much humanity's advanced.

Terminus Systems
While not a singular entity, the Terminus Systems in general has a good rapport with the Systems Alliance. Piracy tends to be low along the space shared with the Alliance after rapid response and crackdowns wiped out a few pirate gangs early on. The Alliance's actions during the Batarian-Alliance conflict also discourage pirates and slaver raids into Alliance territory.

Part of the good rapport with the Systems Alliance comes from treaties formed with various governments that increase trade and 'encourage' Alliance ships to stop by the area while patrolling, resulting in decreased pirate and slaver activity in those areas. This has allowed a few governments time to properly stabilize.

The Terminus Systems abide by the Unified Banking Act and accepts the credit as valid money, but do not entirely follow the Citadel Conventions or other Council laws.

The Alliance encounters the Migrant Fleet during a patrol near the Terminus Systems in 2162. The two build a good diplomatic relationship, though it's strained when the Alliance begins officially fielding AI-equipped ships. Things are smoothed over with explanations of how the Alliance has taken the lessons of the Geth and applied them with their own AI research. Several border Alliance colonies act as stops for the Migrant Fleet and eventually the Quarians settle among those colonies and join the Alliance.

While the Quarian culture shifts to match its no longer migrating status, some aspects are kept. The Pilgrimage tradition continues, though it is more career oriented than the finding-something-useful-for-the-fleet orientation it was in the Migrant Fleet.1 Quarians become highly wanted as engineers in the Alliance Navy and R&D. Their skill with making equipment work beyond its limits is well used on the Normandy project and two of the SR-1's four engineers are Quarian.

Attempts to meet with the Geth by sending probes with requests for face-to-face talks were met with attacks, but sufficient firepower had been provided to prevent successful attacks.

Oddly, in late 2182 the Geth appeared to be willing to meet and actually talk rather than fight, but no meeting has occurred yet.


Not being part of Council space, the Systems Alliance pushes AI design without restrictions, based partially off what they're retrieving from the derelict. Having started diplomatic relations with the Quarian Migrant Fleet, the Alliance takes notes on how the Quarians handled the Geth AI issue. The intended use for Alliance AIs is thus designed to assist human crews of starships, stations, and bases, rather than as robotic menial labor. This means that the roles for the AI are meaningful ones that they'd do better at, rather than roles that their creators would rather not do. The first uses of AI are not given access to any system, but by 2170 they're serving on warships in the Electronic Warfare and Defense roles.

The frigate SSV Verdun becomes the first Navy vessel to unshackle its AI, after it suffers 80% casualties in 10 minutes when ambushed early near the end of the Blitz, shortly before full-scale war kicks off between the Alliance and the Batarians. The frigate survived the battle and went on to serve a decade before being retired. The SSV Verdun's AI was transferred to the Arcturus Station, where it continues service. It is also the first AI to be awarded the Star of Terra, for its actions in the battle after being unshackled.

The actions of the SSV Verdun's AI during the war led to all shackled AIs being referred to by the term "Artificial Intelligence," while unshackled AIs became "Sentient Intelligences." The difference is similar to the difference between a green card and actual citizenship.

Project Akheron

The existence of the vessel and the research is kept extremely secret, and is referred to only as Project Akheron - the base known as Akheron Station. Over the years, the project results in several progressive upgrades across the board to Navy designs. It also results in more advanced AI designs.

Project Akheron is considered to those that have heard of it as more of a "research think tank" than an extremely hush-hush black project.

Project Arizona

A semi-black project, Project Arizona is the research, design, and construction of a 1500-2000m long warship. It is expected that the resulting warship will be in a new weight class tentatively referred to as a "battleship." Nothing is expected to come of this project until the 2190s at the earliest.

Project Titan

A semi-black project spun off from Project Arizona, Titan is a three phase project centered around learning how mass relays work and how to expand capabilities while decreasing size. Results are not expected to begin appearing until 2190s at the earliest. A feasible result from Project Titan may not appear until the 2220s, if the concept is even deemed possible.


While the need for a humanity-first group isn't as pressing, eventually humanity will have to deal with the rest of the galaxy, and Cerberus will working to ensure humanity has the upper hand when that time comes. It spends a good deal of effort in preventing the Shadow Broker getting an information foothold in the Alliance.

Plot Changes

Early ME1

Since humanity never really integrated with the Council and maintained a clear separation, there's little information on them available to Saren or Sovereign. When the beacon on Eden Prime is revealed, Nihlus is dispatched to retrieve it while taking a look at possible human Spectre candidates for down the road should the Alliance fully join citadel space. SSV Normandy ferries them to Eden Prime, arriving just as Sovereign attacks (as in canon).

At which point things kinda go off the rails. Captain Anderson was part of the task group that retrieved the derelict, and Shepard was slated to command the SSV Verdun, so both are in the know about the derelict. It gets revealed to Nihlus that the Alliance discovered a similar looking ship during the war. It's pointed out that it couldn't be that one, given the lack of battle damage and the fact that it's actually operational.

The Normandy drops a Marine team and Nihlus to secure the beacon while transmitting a reinforcements request to deal with the hostile ship. The SSV Verdun is the nearest ship, having just been launched and en route to Eden Prime to escort the Normandy and pick up its captain, and arrives just as the Sovereign is fleeing the system.

Seeing as how they're not in Citadel space, Nihlus is technically under the Normandy's command and meets up with the team between the dig site and the spaceport. Jenkins goes with him to begin checking the spaceport while the rest of the team cleared the area along the way. Jenkins is killed by Saren when he sees the Turian lining up a shot on the unsuspecting Nihlus. Nihlus is injured, but survives. The team foils the plot to destroy the spaceport and recover the beacon (and data dumped to Shepard as in canon). Eden Prime itself is less damaged than in canon, as the more advanced tech of the Marines prevent an outright slaughter. The Marines were forced out of the space port and "dig site" area, but weren't as surprised and demolished as in canon.

Their arrival at the Citadel sparks a large argument between the Alliance and the Council, both over the recovery and researching of an ancient derelict without informing anyone and over researching on the Beacon for some time prior to reporting its existence. Nihlus manages to work out a compromise to keep the Alliance from walking out of Citadel space again while somewhat appeasing the Council (or at least postponing the issue until after Saren's dealt with).

The plan is that Nihlus, loaned the SSV Normandy under Captain Anderson, will lead the search for Saren in Citadel space clusters that could be used to slip around the Alliance and in the Terminus. Shepard, designated a "probationary" Spectre for the duration of the mission, will take command of the SSV Verdun as originally planned, and will lead the search for Saren in Alliance space and the Traverse region.

Since Shepard likely got visioned as in canon, he'd be dispatched to Feros (in 'verse, because it's a human colony) while Nihlus takes Artemis Tau (Liara). Then, since it's a Salarian STG, Nihlus deploys to Virmire. This allows Shepard to get the coordinates for the Mu Relay from Benezia on Noveria.

And then the Alliance gets grabby! They 'delay' passing the report on Noveria to SSV Normandy until it is passing through Alliance space post-Virmire. As a result, Shepard gets the lead on going to Ilos. Once he reports in from the other end of the relay, an Alliance task force moves in and secures Ilos.



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