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Masses to Masses is a Self Insert fanfic set in the Mass Effect universe, and is written by Inf 3 ctionz. The fic is about what happens when he ends up on the Citadel after being snatched from his home by an asari in the middle of the night, for seemingly no reason. Managing to luck out and get a job at C-Sec, he befriends Garrus Vakarian, gets into firefights and danger, all the while still desperatley trying to find the answers he needs. With a generally optimistic attitude, albeit a sarcastic sense of humour, he works on and solves investigations with Garrus, all the while the friendship between them growing stronger, as he actually becomes a useful detective. The sequel covers Ian and Garrus joining Shepard's crew as Mass Effect 1 events begin, and subsequently follows the general plot of that, albeit with some definite deviations. It's a hell of a lot better than that makes it sound.
Masses to Masses 3 came out on June 24th 2011, and is confirmed as being set (for the most part) on Omega, covering the actions of Archangel in the two year gap between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2.
Very much an Action/Comedy fic, while there are some extremely serious moments it's generally lighthearted and Played for Laughs. There's a lot of jokes, one-liners, preposterous situations, action scenes and Bromance. However, the serious moments, when they appear, are usually very emotional parts of the story.
It is posted on fanfiction.net and Deviant ART (Where the first part of Masses To Masses 3 was released), and Word of God has dictated it will be a five part saga. The sequel is out too, and can be found on this lovely blue piece of text here.
Masses to Masses provides examples of the following tropes, in addition to the tropes found in the source material:
- Action Girl: Melanis. And arguably Sensat during her escape from an Eclipse base.
- Action Survivor: He gets hurled into the ME universe from factors totally outside his control, receives a prophetic vision of the galaxy's destruction, and somehow lands a job at C-Sec where he's required to get in all kinds of ludicrous situations, mainly thanks to Garrus. Has a 'what the fuck is this?' reaction to action, but is obscenely good at improvising and surviving through a mixture of luck, skill and swearing. That said, he's actually good in action by the end of Mt M 2. On the Super Weight scale, up from Muggle Weight in Mt M 1 to Iron Weight in 2.
- Afraid of Blood: Ian gets extremely nauseous and freaked out at the first murder scene he goes to with Garrus and sees a dead body. However, this trait goes away over the course of the fic as he grows more and more used to it.
- Air Vent Passageway: Used for infiltration. Subverted when Ian's weight brings it down, resulting in Melanis lecturing him on how this trope doesn't work in real situations.
- Alien Lunch: Ian accidentaly eats a varren sandwich at one point. Is horrified upon discovering the sandwich's true contents from Garrus, as it was sold to him as bacon.
- Always Save the Girl: Screw actual law enforcement, when Rebecca gets kidnapped Ian does his damn best to try and get her back.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: When Ian makes a joke involving a character from Star Wars, Shepard, Garrus and Kaidan all find it funny, showing they’ve actually seen those films. Garrus also enjoys Inception when he watches it with Ian.
- In Masses to Masses 3, Erash, the turian sniper of Garrus' squad, is an avid reader that enjoys human literature.
- Doesn't like Twilight.
- Androcles' Lion: Ian rescues an albino varren in a enemy base. The varren, soon to be known as Ghost, returns the favor when he rips out the throat of a merc poised to kill Ian.
- Author Avatar: Ian, surprise surprise. Leads to a bit of Author Appeal (though not like Mary Sue levels).
- Backstory: Every squad member in Masses to Masses 3 has some kind of backstory.
- Bad Guy Bar: Club Ramrod, where Ian and Garrus hunt down a Blue Suns leader and his cronies, and get involved in a ridiculous fight.
- Badass Driver: Garrus pulls all manner of stupid car manoeuvres in the Saleon section, much to Ian’s annoyance and fear.
- Badass Normal: Ian becomes this, albeit gradually. When he first comes into the ME universe, the height of his military experience is playing Modern Warfare 2 and occasionally going paintballing, and has only really played leader in sports. By the end of his C-Sec career, though, thanks to tuition from Garrus and experience, Ian can hold his own in a fight, is pretty good with tech, and becomes a competent detective. Joining Shepard’s squad and still being useful also adds to this.
- Bar Slide: The bartender in Flux does this for the first drink Garrus orders from him. It’s the first of many.
- Big No: More like Big Rebecca.
- Blade Brake: While sliding down a chute, Ian stops himself from being killed by a laser waste disposal device using his knife to stop his fall.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Happens twice in Masses to Masses 1, once with Ian being shot at the end of the red sand investigation, and Rebecca’s kidnap at the end of the Saleon case.
- Bombers on the Screen: A regular staple of pre-mission briefings before some kind of C-Sec assault. (See before the bar fight, and before the infiltration to seize illegal organs.)
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Caltan Xenvalis fails to kill Ian when he’s at his mercy, instead preferring to monologue. Go figure.
- Bromance: Between Ian and Garrus. The friendship between both characters is a staple of the entire series. They go out for drinks, live together as flatmates for a large amount of Masses to Masses 1, are partners at C-Sec, and save each others lives on a regular basis. Also leads to plenty of awkward gay moments, which are mainly Played for Laughs and used to parody buddy-cop films. Nothing ever comes of these moments, though shippers probably hope otherwise. Links closely with Fire-Forged Friends.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Ian grabs a goon during the fight in Michel’s med-clinic, using him to absorb bullets as he runs for cover.
- Canine Companion: While rescuing Butler, Ian frees an albino Varren who saves his life by ripping out a Blue Suns mook's throat. Named Ghost.
- Canis Major: The Alpha Varren Ian and Garrus fight is roughly the size of a bear.
- Canon Welding: Sort of, and related to Doctor Saleon. The Elcor Serial Killer you hear about from Garrus in the first game was actually working for Doctor Saleon, the subject of his "Loyalty Mission," in the same game... who was, in turn, working with the Collectors, welding together three otherwise unrelated stories in the ME universe. Oh, and the Collectors gave Saleon the technology to create Necromorphs, so there's that story in there too.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Constant throughout both Masses to Masses 1, 2 and 3. There’s nothing like sarcasm in the face of incredible danger.
Ricardo Fernandez: "I've got a few things I want to check with you, whether you'd like to answer them or not."
- Catapult Nightmare: From Ian’s All Just a Dream nightmare in Masses to Masses 1, involving Rebecca. Said Dream Sequence is also a direct homage to Chuck.
- Collapsible Helmet: After the events of Virmire, Ian talks his armorer into making him a helmet very similar to Isaac Clarke's.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Masses to Masses seems to be growing progressively Darker and Edgier. There were a lot of comedic situations in the first two, but it’s getting much more serious in the third installment. In one particular scene, Ian is thinking about how much he’s changed from when he first arrived, going from barely able to shoot accurately and throwing up at the sight of a corpse to calmly shooting mercenaries on Omega with little remorse.
- Command Roster:
- Conveniently-Timed Attack From Behind: Just before Ian has his eyelids torn off by a furious Ricardo Fernandez, Garrus bursts in and shoots the bastard.
- Conveniently Timed Guard: Just as Ian finishes the infiltration to seize illegal organs, one random guard manages to sneak up on him and is about to get help. Instead, gets a punch to the face.
- Combat Pragmatist: Ian's becoming one. He shoots Ripard in the head before he can shoot Butler, as well as aiming for the head whenever possible.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: While Ian and Garrus are techincally the authorities themselves, they still often go against orders from their boss, Executor Pallin. And apparently both Ian and Garrus are cool, so this works! Ian, Garrus and Wrex also rebel on Noveria by talking to Lorik Qui'in against Shepard's wishes, and help out Gianna Parasini.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Ian gets the shit beaten out of him by Ricardo Fernandez. One-sided pretty much sums that ‘fight’ up.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ian is quite a cynical, sarcastic character, although this is mainly Played for Laughs and he remains quite caring and optimistic underneath it all.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Non romantic example. Executor Pallin is initially very unfair to Ian but eventually warms up a great deal as the latter proves to be a competent addition to C-Sec.
- Epigraph: At the start of Masses to Masses 2, a quote from Kingdom Hearts is used. Ironically, the Kingdom Hearts section of fanfiction.net is flooded with self-inserts, and the Mass Effect section is following the same trend.
- Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Ian goes for akimbo pistols for in Masses to Masses 2. Just because one wasn’t badass enough.
- He picks up a HVB, a rare and expensive weapon that few possess, during the serial killer arc of Masses to Masses 3.
- Flaming Sword: One of Laet's ideas for Ian's HVB. Sadly, Ian vetos the idea on account of risk of injury should the propellent leak onto him.
- Follow the Leader: The author was inspired to write Masses to Masses by reading another self-insert called Mass Vexations. While the two protagonists in each story have very different personalities and the plots follow different directions, there are one or two sly references to Mass Vexations within Masses to Masses.
- For Want of a Nail: Hasn’t happened a particularly large amount yet…but Ian coming into the Mass Effect universe and affecting canon, however slightly, is going to have big effects later on. A few little things have happened so far, it all ties in. Like Saren surviving the events of the Battle of the Citadel. That's a biggie.
- From a Certain Point of View: Ian’s backstory that he tells most characters is a bit of a lie, obviously. Sure, he’s from Earth, just from one a long time before the Mass Effect universe. This detail is omitted in his backstory, naturally.
- Genre Savvy: Exclusive to Ian within the story, since he knows what’s going to happen next. At least, in Masses to Masses 2 he does a lot more, since knowledge of what Garrus got up to in C-Sec is pretty limited. Has just about no clue what's going to happen in Masses to Masses 3, though, since he never player Lair of the Shadow Broker.
- Glasses Pull: Ian pulls one of these in chapter 23... even he thinks it's awful.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: A Variant. Ian's upgraded HUD in Masses to Masses 3 has night, thermal, and sonar vision a la Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell.
- Got Volunteered: Ian’s forced into infiltrating a building by Garrus. And all the fangirls say he’s such a nice guy…
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Ian smacks an unhelmeted Blue Suns merc over the head with a bottle, as he doesn't want to kill him and he wants to take him out silently. The bottle doesn't shatter. Ouch.
- Heroic BSOD: Rebecca’s kidnapping leaves Ian pretty much a shell for a month, until Garrus finally steps in with some Epiphany Therapy.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Often Ian does this to himself mentally, mainly because he’s not quite as lethal as he’d like to be.
- Hollywood Fire: Whilst running through a building that’s exploding AND on fire, fortunately it never really blocks Ian and Garrus’s path completely as they escape. Realistic, it ain’t.
- Hostage Situation: Ian runs into one while helping Butler. Ends the same way as the one from Taken.
- If It's You It's Okay: Arguably Ian/Garrus, because of how the relationship is portrayed in other fics the two have appeared in, such as Mass Effect: The Guardians and Welcome to the Family.
- Impossible Mission Collapse: A sophisticated plan from Ian and Garrus to sneak up on some varren and kill them individually is quickly ruined when Ian accidentally kicks a small stone into the nearest varren’s face as he moves forward.
- Indy Hat Roll: Garrus and Ian both slide under a falling shutter in a burning building. Ian even makes a mental reference to Indiana Jones as he continues running away.
- In Medias Res: Masses to Masses 3 begins with Garrus and Ian fighting off waves of mercs on Omega.
- Interspecies Romance: Plenty of this all around, and it's strongly hinted at and a referenced as well. Don't act all surprised, it's Mass Effect.
- It's Personal: Ian is bent on hunting Saleon down after he kidnaps Rebecca. Ironically, he doesn't end up killing him for revenge in Mt M 2, instead gets talked out of it by Shepard.
- It Has Been an Honor: Ian's dying of an infection due to a varren bite on his hand. He devises a plan in which Garrus can make it out alive, but he's going to die. He says this before he leaves.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Ian's High Vibration Blade is in the form of a katana, minus the handguard.
- Kill Steal: Garrus constantly does this to Ian, mainly to piss him off. Opportunities to get the turian back are few and far between.
Ian: “Motherfucker! That was mine!”
- Last Breath Bullet: Ricardo Fernandez manages to shoot Ian with his dying breaths, despite the fact he’s been shot in the chest three times himself.
- Last Stand: Ian, who is slowly dying from an infected wound, decides to sneak across the bridge with a few explosives, slap them on the gunship, detonate them and kill as many mercs as possible before he dies.
- Leap and Fire: Ian pulls this during the Noveria arc in Masses to Masses 2 while running to cover.
"Did I hit anything? Probably not. Did I look awesome? You bet your ass I did."
- Le Parkour: Utilised by Ian in a chase with a salarian drug dealer, with limited success. It’s successful in the sense he doesn’t die, but less so in the fact it’s left to Garrus to actually catch the criminal. Also employed in an infiltration mission, and used at one point simply to get to work.
- Love At First Sight: As far as Ian and Wrex are concerned, this is between Garrus and Shepard.
- Made of Explodium: Things explode in Masses to Masses at a surprisingly regular rate.
Ian: “Why is it that every building we go in has to blow up?”
- Mangst: Ian doesn’t really scream and shout particularly when Rebecca’s kidnapped, instead spending an entire month pretty much closing in on himself to deal with it instead. Also happens when she's found dead.
- Mind Rape: Ian get this done to him by Morinth during the search for the serial killer.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Archangel and Deadpool, Garrus' and Ian's respective nicknames on Omega.
- No Name Given: While most characters know Ian’s full name, within the text his surname is always starred out.
- Subverted by Wrex near the end of Masses to Masses 2.
Ian: "It's Shaw... Ian Shaw."
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Much to the mook's surprise, Ian survived falling down a trapdoor to a laser gate.
Mook: "Ripard said you were dead."
- Revenge by Proxy: Saleon gets revenge on Ian for not calling off the investigation into him, by taking Rebecca.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Ian wasn't supposed to be some kind of hero. But he still does a pretty good job.
- Running Gag:
- Masses to Masses 2: Garrus’s kill-stealing is featured quite a few times and a Mako is usually destroyed in one way or another on every mission. So far, has been driven off the edge of a skyway on Feros, used as a bridge over lava on Therum, purposefully driven into a valley in Noveria to spite the locals, and reprogrammed by Garrus on Virmire to become a remote-controlled bomb.
- Masses to Masses 3: Ian routinely tries to get a Tupari sports drink, which has been restricted from his diet due to his training with Melanis. Also, Ian's alias on Omega is said wrong everytime a mook says it.
- Screw Destiny: Tali's reaction to Ian telling her about the events of ME2. Leads to the Second Act Breakup below.
- Second Act Breakup: Technically a Third Act Breakup. Ian finally tells Tali about her trial and her dad. This is not recieved well.
- Sequel Hook: Ian’s vision flares up again when he sees Shepard for the first time at the end of Masses to Masses 1, revealing that the figure he sees dying in it is the Commander herself. Leaves plenty of thought to what’s going to happen in the future of the series.
- Shipper on Deck: Ian in regards to Garrus and Shepard. However, he resolves not to play matchmaker unless one of them comes to him about it first.
- Shock and Awe: Laet's last idea for Ian's HVB, which electrifies the blade, making it easier to overload shields, damage mechs, and it's a sword with an electric blade.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: Method used to kill biotic elcor, Caltan Xenvalis. Good opportunity for a one liner missed, unfortunately.
- Shout-Out: Quite a few, so many it would be hard to find them all. So, more memorable ones include:
- Ian using the name Charles Carmichael when infiltrating Saleon’s lab.
- Indiana Jones esque escape sequence from a building, complete with sliding under a closing door.
- Resident Evil 5 references, though these are Played for Laughs. Includes mentioning similarities to quick time events from that game, and Ian using some or the more cringeworthy dialogue from it.
Ian: “We’re partners. To the end.”
- Modern Warfare 2 is also referenced when Ian accidentally no-scopes a geth on Feros. All it needed was a 360º spin as well…
- Heavy Rain gets a few with nods to characters from that, but mainly the ‘DNActive’ application for Ian and Garrus’s omnitool that basically works like Norman Jayden’s ARI glasses.
- Wrex uses a line of dialogue that mirrors one from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
Wrex: “If that voice had a face, I’d have punched it by now.”
- And then they get onto Saleon's ship, to find not husks, but necromorphs. Ian even mentions "go for the limbs" when they first encounter them. He also has Clarke's folding helmet made for his customized armor.
- Prince of Persia 2008 is referenced when Ian uses the player character's stance to defend against varren.
"Yes, I'm using the 2008 Prince of Persia combat stance, I don't have anything else to fucking go off."
- Also, a lot of the dialogue from Masses to Masses 3 between Melanis and Ian are very similar to that of the Prince and Elika.
- Splinter Cell is referenced, most noticeably when Ian slams a batarian's head into a wall and mutters a one-liner that Sam Fisher used when he was in the same situation.
Ian: "Good luck finding your teeth."
- Obviously, he’s been watching Team Fortress 2 “Meet the Engineer.”
"Look, buddy, I'm an engineer. That means I solve problems. Not problems like 'what is beauty', because that would fall within the purviews of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems. For instance, how am I supposed to fix some broken down machinery when people aren't letting me do my job? The answer is, asking politely. And if that don't work, ask impolitely, then get my superiors to ask. That's my view, thought by me, said by me, and you'd best hope it doesn't apply to this."
- Slipping a Mickey: During the investigation of the Omega serial killer, Ian meets Morinth who drugs him at her apartment.
- Super Window Jump: Ian and Garrus hurl themselves out of a high window to escape an exploding building. It’s also followed up with a Trash Landing into a dumpster.
- Supporting Protagonist: Ian’s POV in Masses to Masses 1 is as Garrus’s partner, not just leading up investigations by himself. Even though he’s still working at the front of stuff, Garrus often gives him guidance and gets things Ian misses. Similarly with Shepard, while Ian is a part of the squad Shepard mainly advances the main game plot.
- Sword and Gun: Ian goes all Modern Warfare 2 with a tactical knife style position in a fight with a pack of varren. Pistol + Knife = Epic Win!
- Take That: A few minor comments aimed at Art of Mass Vexations fame, which double as shoutouts.
- Tears of Blood: When Ian is mugged by a Batarian at the beginning of Masses to Masses 1, after the punch-up the Batarian is bleeding from his eyes while he challenges Ian to kill him.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Melanis and Ian. It's a minor miracle she doesn't kill him in Chapter 23.
- Tempting Fate: Ian does this a lot. Many chapter ends with some form of this and sometimes it appears multiple times in a chapter.
"How can this night get any worse?"
- The Chosen One: Ian, much to his surprise and disbelief. Unfortunately for him, he still barely knows what he’s supposed to be doing, and why he’s been chosen, thanks to answers from the asari (Shiara T’Aeoni) that brought him here which are cryptic at best.
- The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Both Saleon and Caltan Xenvalis turn the tables on Ian and Garrus while they're being investigated.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Used in the Saleon investigation when Ian introduces himself as Charles Carmichael to Dr.Saleon. This cover name will be used throughout.
- The Stations of the Canon: Messed with a little bit, but nothing major so far. Ian is told explicitly that his actions could change things, but is strongly told that he shouldn’t do that. So most things run the same so far as in canon, even with the odd one or two changes. Will start being played with a lot more later on. Like when Saren survives the end of the ME 1 arc.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Garrus and Ian hear a growling sound while fighting off the three merc companies. Cue several war-trained Varren.
Ian: "Oh, you've got to be shitting me."
- Took a Level In Badass: From the nerves of his first real fight on the Citadel in an electronics store, Ian has improved in leaps and bounds in the years between then and where he is now. Even dying for a minute can’t stop him.
- Ian's taken a few levels about now, from being competent enough to join Shepard's team to singlehandedly rescuing a team mate within an enemy stronghold.
Butler: "You snuck through an enemy compound, shot the guy holding me hostage and carried out a rescue, all by yourself?"
- Trap Door: Ian inadvertently stands on one and subsequently falls down one in a mission with Butler.
- Unlikely Hero: A British law student with very little in the way of training for detective work or a military operation, Ian doesn’t initially seem like someone made for greatness. However, adapts pretty well to the roles he’s given, holding his own in Shepard’s elite team as well as the investigation department of C-Sec.
- Vibroweapon: Ian wields a HVB (High Vibration Blade) in Masses to Masses 3.
- Wall Crawl: With the invention of grav-clips, the infiltration squad is now able to scale walls like Spiderman.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ian gets it after pretending to be Shepard to the smuggling hanar on Noveria. And then Shepard gets it in the very next chapter when she decides to give Lorik Qui'in's evidence to Anoleis.
- Write Who You Know: Ian, clearly.
- You Are Not Alone: Garrus drags Ian out of his misery after Rebecca’s kidnapped, saves his life on more than one occasion when all seems lost, and generally has his back throughout the entire series. Tali and Garrus also help out after Rebecca's death.
- You Are Too Late: Saleon still manages to escape, despite Ian’s knowledge from his own time and Garrus’s best efforts.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Plenty of cliffhanger endings during Masses to Masses as a series ensure this. No point even giving an example, just pick a random chapter and you’ll probably find one.
- You Suck: Ian’s not some kind of elite commando, despite the fact he’d quite like to be. He can’t shoot for shit when he initially tries firing a pistol, has his shoulder dislocated and is almost killed when fighting Caltan Xenvalis, only saved by a timely intervention from Garrus, falls over when trying to drop stealthily from an air vent, actually gets killed at one point (only for a minute, mind), and didn't win the kill competition with Wrex, Garrus and himself. He’s improving quickly, though…