Overview: Iunctio is a (terribly named) Mass Effect 1 fanfic by sinvraal. I only say ‘terribly named’ because I can never spell it right on the first go, I always have to look it up. I’m not quite sure what the title means, in fact, and perhaps that’s part of why I can’t remember the spelling.
Anyway, the story is a series of vignettes that are spread across the events of the video game with the clear objective of providing additional character development for the non-Shepard characters while at the same time introducing nothing that violates the continuity of the video game. This is all non-key mission materials with some altered dialog from what occurred in-game. It’s told third person, features a female Shepard, and that Shepard takes the Kaiden Alenko romance option, sacrificing Ash Williams on Virmire.
The writing here is top notch dramatic presentation with a suitably seriously tone given the plot of the Mass Effect games. Most of the side characters that have a presence on the Normandy get featured, with obvious affection showed upon Kaidan since he is the romantic option. Another romance is started between Joker and Williams before the latter dies on Virmire, and the only suspicious omission from this series is any real attention brought upon Tali. I’m not sure if that reflects the author’s preferences or not, but Garrus, Joker, Kaidan, Liara, and Williams far outshadow Tali in their presence in this fic. Which is a shame, because Tali’s my favorite.
The vignette nature of this story means that without having played the video game and being conversant in its plot points, this fic makes no sense whatsoever. There is no effort to tie one chapter to the next nor explain half of what’s going on with the crew when they land on planet for a mission. Most chapters pick up partway through a storyline mission (or side mission) and I had to reference the Mass Effect wiki in order to get my bearings at times. Maybe if I had read this in 2008 when it was first published it would be fresher in my mind, but as it was, I found it very jarring.
Ultimately, despite the functional proficiency on display here, this story didn’t very much appeal to me. I like to see side characters developed further in popular fiction – it’s one of the things I tend to do in my own fanfiction – but here, I didn’t find the revelations particularly interesting. I think the benefit or joy in finding new facets in a character’s life is the thrill of finding out how that information will influence future actions of the character. But since this story strictly did not affect continuity with the game series, I feel like all the additional exposition was for no real payoff. Sure, we know more about Shepard’s slaver background and details about Kaidan’s trauma at the hands of his biotic training, but nothing really changed my opinion of these characters. It almost feels like detail that was well enough implied without being explicitly described.
As such, if you’re like me, I can’t recommend this story.