Mass Effect Minutes (Part 1)

Welcome to my first new babblethrough series on Livid Lightning! On my old blog, I really enjoyed writing posts like this babbling about my adventures through Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age II, Horizon Zero Dawn, and what little I had done in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (at the time of this post, I do intend to re-post/finish my older ones at some point, by the way). I guess these are kinda like a Let’s Play in written form using the tons of screenshots I take in games. I don’t have the verbal skillz to do the traditional video Let’s Plays, but I sure enjoy rambling about stuff in written form! These are also a great way for me to look back on a gaming adventure when I’ve long forgotten about it.

During my blogger breakdown, I focused heavily on playing through Shepard’s Mass Effect trilogy (for the very first time) to help me forget about this planet’s problems. I loved every precious second I spent with my Commander Ellen Shepard, so I’m very excited to start babbling about the entire trilogy journey I had, starting here with the first game. Not sure when/if I’ll get around to finishing it, but I’m cool if this remains an in-progress labour of gaming love. Oh and I was dumb and pressed the wrong screenshot button on my keyboard at first, thus missing many screenshots for the Prologue. Alas!

Obligatory: !!!MAJOR FREAKING SPOILER!!! warning. DO NOT keep reading if you have not played Mass Effect and plan to.


After I made the Solider class Commander Ellen Shepard all pretty with the badass Sole Survivor Colonist backstory, I found myself aboard the Normandy, a super-advanced spaceship owned by the human-controlled human Systems Alliance Navy. To figure out what the hell was going on, I talked to people! Basically, we were on a mission to check out a Prothean beacon (extinct advanced alien race who built the galaxy-traversing Mass Relay system) that was found on Eden Prime. The crew was uneasy that there’s a turian Spectre named Nihlus aboard. Once upon a time, turians and humans made an awful first impression on each other that resulted in the First Contact War. Council Spectres are also highly trained agents that operate outside galactic laws. It’s apparently odd that the Council has assigned one to this mission…

Eventually, I chat with Captain Anderson. He says Nihlus is there because I’m being considered for the prestigious position of humanity’s first ever Spectre. That sounds cool! Something terrible happens, and alas, it looks like Eden Prime is under attack. The mission starts when I’m dropped on Eden Prime with my squad, Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko and Corporal Jenkins, while Nihlus runs off on his own (um… how can he evaluate me if he’s not fighting with me?). Sadly, Jenkins gets himself killed when we are suddenly attacked by angry AI robots called the geth. Shepard shakes off the loss and bravely charges forward with Kaidan behind her. We soon meet up with Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, after fighting off a wave of geth and watching them impale an innocent human corpse on a spike (yikes).

Poor Ashley is the sole survivor of her unit (my Commander Shepard knows how that feels) and agrees to help us on the mission to secure the beacon. We fight forward encountering bio-synthetic creepy things called husks (that’s what happens to the people impaled on spikes) and finding out more info from survivors. Then a cutscene is shown where Nihlus meets up with another turian Spectre named Saren. Nihlus is confused about why Saren is there, but turns away from him to move forward. Seeing an opportunity, Saren shoots his buddy in the back, execution style… wow.

Shepard hears the single gunshot that killed Nihlus off in the distance. We discover Nihlus’s body and get some info from a nearby dude whose laziness saved his life (I guess it pays to take secret naps at work). Next is a mad rush to disarm four-ish (five?) bombs while getting shot at by lots of geth. With the bomb crisis averted and the geth shutdown, we find the Prothean beacon. Kaidan is pulled toward it and enveloped in some scary energy field thingy. Shepard throws him out of the way and takes the beacon for him. It shows Shepard some chaotic images before self destructing and knocking her out.

Shepard wakes up in the Normandy’s medical bay under the expert care of Dr. Chakwas. The visions from the beacon left her with one heck of a headache, Ashley is now a part of the crew, and we’re off to the Citadel.

Welcome to the Citadel

Next up, Captain Anderson and I are chatting with humanity’s Ambassador to the Council, Donnel Udina, in the Citadel’s embassy area. He’s a jerk but whatever. The overall plan is to tell the Council want went down on Eden Prime and that Saren went rogue. He apparently has a grudge against humanity too. I’m sure they’ll totally believe my expert testimony! On the way the big Council meeting, I take a huge detour and do a couple hours worth of side quests and chatting with people. This was actually a nice way to get an introduction to all the races while getting fun galactic history lessons.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-1
Ah, yes. Directions. Just what I needed. Thanks! Also, the Presidium is so pretty!!

The Citadel is an advanced space station built by the Protheans, way back in the day. It is the seat of power for galactic governance and many species have ambassadors, but only three races have power on the Council thus far: turians, asari, and the salarians. Humanity has apparently skipped centuries ahead of a lot of other cranky races and are shoe-ins for a spot on the Council soon. There’s also a race of bug-like creatures called the Keepers that maintain the station. No one knows where they come from or why they’re there, but they do a superb job of keeping things in working order. It is also a crime to disturb them, as the nearby VI unit (an interactive hologram) kept telling me every time I tried to interact with one. With lots of learning, side questing, and exploring under my belt, I head to the Citadel tower to see the Council.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-2
All politicians are useless, I swear.

On the way up to the Council chamber, I run into a C-Sec (Citadel Security) officer named Garrus Vakarian who’s fighting with his boss. Garrus has been investigating Saren’s actions, and he informs me he will continue looking into it, even though his boss told him not to. The big Council meeting does NOT go well. Saren denies everything and the Council dismisses all the charges against him due to lack of evidence (“You can’t hide behind the Council forever!” my Shepard roars). Anderson also has a bad history with Saren, which isn’t helping our case. Udina advises Anderson to back off (to my Shepard’s objection) and I’m given a few leads to find evidence against Saren: an information dealer named the Shadow Broker may know something (sounds shady) and that I should probably go find Garrus by talking to a drunk and disorderly human C-Sec officer named Harkin.

Finding Vakarian

Skipping over all the side questing I did (including being nice and buying a religious preaching pass for a zealous jellyfish-like hanar… long story), I headed into Cora’s Den (the Citadel’s local dingy strip club) to have a nice chat with ol’ Harkin. Ashley’s comment when we entered the sleazy area made me want to high-five her through my computer screen: “A million light years from where humanity began and we walk into a bar filled with men drooling over half-naked women shaking their asses on a stage. I can’t decide if that’s funny or sad.” I won’t get too far ahead of myself, but sorry Kaidan, I like Ashley slightly better…

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-3.
NO ONE talks down to the mighty Commander Ellen Shepard like that, asshole.

Well, I found Harkin creepily chilling at a table in the corner. He lived up to his reputation of being a trash human, to say the least. His opening line: “Why don’t you sit your sweet little ass down next to old Harkin? Have a drink and we’ll see where this goes.” And my Shepard’s response was simply brilliant and reflected my thoughts exactly: “I’d rather drink a cup of acid after chewing on a razor blade.” Yup. Awesome. Anyway, after my Shepard knocked his inflated ego down a few more pegs, Harkin revealed that Garrus is likely sniffing around a medical clinic run by Dr. Michel. I was very happy to get the hell out of this place!

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-13.
Oh wow…. she’s good…. sniffs. Ellen could really use an asari therapist in real life!!

Of course, on my way to the clinic, I got side tracked and did a few things like: talked to the asari consort named Sha’ira, chatted with the Shadow Broker’s accountant Barla Von, outsmarted a killer AI cheating on gambling machines before it killed me, recruited a krogan mercenary named Wrex who needs to kill Fist (the owner of Cora’s Den) for the Shadow Broker (Sure, I’ll gladly help with that!!).

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-4.
Always happy to help take down assholes!

When I got to the clinic, someone named Thug was holding Dr. Michel hostage at gunpoint. Some attempted negotiations and shooting later, Dr. Michel is saved with the help of Mr. Garrus. Turns out the thugs were working for that Fist guy and they wanted to shut the good doctor up about a quarian on the station. The quarian will likely know about the geth and Saren connection. Garrus suggests we go pay Fist a visit to find out where she is. The Council surely can’t ignore evidence like that… Garrus officially joins my crew and it’s off to Cora’s Den, again.

Breaking Fist

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-5.
Rolling in with this badass crew, let’s just say I had MUCH more fun at Cora’s this time…

I decided to take my new buddies Wrex and Garrus to go meet Fist. As soon as we entered Cora’s Den, a massive firefight ensued. It was so fun shooting my way to the warehouse area in the back of the club!! It honestly felt like a Grand Theft Auto mission. When I reached the back, a group of warehouse workers warned: “Stay back or we’ll shoot!” Now, I thought I was playing pretty nicely so far, but only the special red-lettered Renegade dialog option was available for this, which I selected without hesitation and enjoyed the result immensely!

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-6.
Yeah. They left quietly after that line. And I quote: “Uh… well… Aw, screw Fist. He doesn’t pay us enough for this.” Can’t argue with Shepard’s logic!

The next room was Fist’s office, which required some more shooting. Once I took out Fist and his turrets, he was much more chatty while lying helplessly on the floor.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-7.
Sorry, Wrex… not quite yet.

Fist confessed that he set up the quarian who has evidence against Saren. He lied saying she would be meeting with the Shadow Broker, but in reality she was walking right into a trap set by Saren’s thugs. Yikes!! With no time to waste, we set off to the alleyway to save the quarian. Before we take off, Wrex decides to kill the already defeated Fist. I admire Wrex’s work ethic by finishing the job the Shadow Broker gave him (and Fist is definitely another trash human), but still, as my Shepard put it: “We don’t shoot unarmed prisoners!”

Saving Tali’Zorah nar Rayya

To stress just how urgent it is to get to the quarian, there is a 4 minute timer to shoot my way to the alleyway. Once I got there, with lots of time to spare because I’m good at shooting things on easy mode with Wrex and Garrus at my back, a scene with Saren’s assassins informing the quarian of Fist’s betrayal is shown. The quarian’s name is Tali, and she can clearly kick ass on her own, but my Shepard helps her out anyway. When the assassins are dead, my Shepard checks in with Tali to see if she’s okay.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-8.
Tali gets it! It’s always okay to accept help, even if you don’t think you need it.

My Shepard explains to Tali that I’m on a mission to prove to the thick-headed council bureaucrats that Saren is a traitor. Tali sees this as an opportunity to repay my Shepard for the rescue and agrees to share her evidence. We head off to the human embassy to talk in a more secure location.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-9.
That sounds bad…

Back at the embassy, Tali gives some of her backstory. The quarians were kicked off their homeworld when the geth, that they created, rebelled against them. Nowadays, they are kinda like space nomads who travel together on a flotilla of spaceships. Their customs dictate that young quarians go off on pilgrimages to prove themselves by bringing something of value back to the flotilla. Tali is on a pilgrimage and came across an intact geth memory core that has a recording of Saren and a woman talking:

“Eden Prime was a major victory! The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.” – Saren.
“And one step closer to the return of the Reapers.” – Unknown woman.

Tali explains that the geth’s memory core states that the Reapers were a hyper-advanced machine race that existed 50,000-ish years ago. The geth believe the Reapers hunted the Protheans into extinction, wiping them off the face of the galaxy. The geth seem to revere these Reapers as gods, and they think that Saren knows how to bring them back. Udina isn’t sold on the whole Reaper threat thing, but my Shepard now understands the vision she saw on Eden Prime is of the Reapers wiping out the Protheans. Every Council race is in some serious danger here… surely those dense politicians have to listen to me now!

Spectre Shepard Sets Off

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-10.
My Shepard has seriously had enough of all the red tape crap…

On my way to the next big Council meeting, I completed a very important side quest. A gentlemen named Samesh Bhatia is having awful bureaucratic issues. His wife, who was in Ashley’s unit, was killed in action on Eden Prime, but Alliance officials refuse to return her body to him. This is a grave indecency, in my books, so I agree to chat with the official. They are keeping Nirali’s body for study since she suffered wounds they aren’t familiar with. Sorry, but if her grieving husband wants her body to have a proper burial, that’s happening right now, no matter what! I rocked the Renegade option with zero shame, convincing the official to stop being a heartless idiot. RIP, Nirali.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-11.
But… but… The Reapers are coming! The REAPERS are coming!!! No one ever believes me until it’s too late… sigh.

Council meeting #2 goes much smoother. When Tali presents her evidence, the Council finally believes that Saren is a traitor and strips him of Spectre status. The Asari Councillor also identifies the woman’s voice as a revered asari Matriarch named Benezia. Unfortunately, the politicians refuse to believe the Reapers are a thing that’s a major threat to the entire galaxy without some more proof. Oh, the idiotic denial is strong here…. avoiding a major problem doesn’t make it go away, just sayin’. They do agree that Saren must be stopped and promote Shepard to Spectre (a great honor for humanity in general). My mission is to personally hunt down Saren since a whole Council fleet would cause too much tension with the Terminus Systems.

Mass Effect Minutes Part 1-12.
Alrighty, Mr. Joker…. engage!

A badass Spectre like Shepard needs her own ship, so poor Anderson is forced to step aside and let me have command of the Normandy. Before entering my fancy ship, Udina and Anderson give me some sweet leads. Saren is likely too slippery to catch so the best bet is to find the Conduit thingy before he does. There were reports of geth by the human colony on Feros before they went silent, and there have been geth sightings around the planet Noveria. If I can find out what Saren was doing in those locations, that might help! Also, Matriarch Benezia has a daughter who specializes in studying Protheans, Dr. Liara T’Soni. It might be a good idea to see if she knows something. Liara was last seen exploring a dig site on an uncharted world in the Artemis Tau cluster. After chatting with the Normandy’s pilot, Joker, and giving an inspiring speech to my crew, it’s off to where ever I want to go first so… LIARA!! Ahem.

To be continued… (probably)

For my entire Mass Effect Minutes series: Part 1 | Part 2

Thanks for reading!

If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!

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"Lightning" Ellen

My name is Ellen, and I've been babbling on the interwebz about video games for over 15 years. Video games themselves have been a large part of my life since 5-year-old me first encountered a SNES in a children's hospital. Fun times... Video game escapism is still the #1 coping mechanism for adult me these days.

8 thoughts on “Mass Effect Minutes (Part 1)”

  1. I’d wondered what the conversation with Harkin would’ve been like with a female Shephard. Can’t say I’m surprised. What a douche….I still remember one of his lines from when I played years ago: “Secrets are like crabs. If you’ve got ’em, you may as well spread ’em around.” Ugh…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Opinion: Mass Effect is the best space narrative of our time. Like it gets damn near everything right. It doesn’t matter if you play FemShep or dude Shep (though Fem is far superior for so many reason mostly Jennifer Hale); you’re treated as just as competent. I think I like the sole survivor story the best, too. Wrex is hands down my favorite character. I love that grumpy, direct, shotgun-wielding krogan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s not an opinion… that’s a fact 😁

      I love the all-inclusive spin on the galaxy. My only complaint is all the sexy time stuff makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m no longer ashamed to say that because I’m a proud ace these days, haha. It’s almost like your character HAS to sleep with someone if you want a relationship. I also got a bit annoyed when a group of NPCs were teasing each other, and it was used as an insult that one of them didn’t want to have sexy time with the consort, only talk with her. Alas! Other than that, Mass Effect is perfect in that department. ALL forms of true love are certainly beautiful to me. I just want more options for me, haha.

      I also think Wrex is awesome!! Liara is my favourite character though. In Mass Effect 3, her friendship story arc was amazing. She’s now my BFF for life AND has my shero’s voice actress 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think they should’ve had the option for Shepherd and Wrex in an ace relationship, because that would’ve been amazing. Their personalities just matched so well. Unfortunately, relationship STILL means sexy time because ace is a new concept to the masses. It’s not a new concept; it’s just no one has heard or listened to people are or were in the past. I really, really wanted Wrex to be an option and making their relationship like that would’ve made the most sense. There definitely needs to be more ace representation in games. I told you about BoJack Horseman, right? You wouldn’t think it from the premise, but it’s like the most progressive show I’ve ever seen for mental health AND the realness of relationships including ace!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That would be very interesting! And, yep to that, sadly 😦 You did tell me about BoJack Horseman! That’s awesome. I still haven’t found a way to watch it in Canada yet, though, haha…. sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I should send it to you lol. Like seriously. It’s also the BEST portrayal of mental illness ever. I keep forgetting Canada is weird with stuff like that AND I still don’t get why it takes so long for anything to get there *grumble* I blame the US haha. It has to be some kind of border shenanigans.

            Liked by 1 person

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