(Originally posted on my blog: dragonsmount.wordpress.com)

**WARNING: This post is riddled with Mass Effect Spoilers.

 

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Whether you are a professing Christian or not, at some point you have heard the story about Noah and the Flood (you’ve at least watched Evan Almighty, right?) The story is older than most civilizations and carries with it a simple truth still seen today: the determination to maintain conviction and faith in what you know or believe.

In any case, the story goes:

Noah is chosen by God to perform a task that, outside of context, appears to be ridiculous. Despite living in a land that had no rain, Noah is told that a great storm will come. So he sets out to his task, much to the amusement of his neighbors. Such an incredulous story, how could it ever come to pass?

Noah's ArkDespite their heckling and unbelief, Noah prevails in building his ark. When the final piece is laid in place, the clouds darken. An unfamiliar scent permeates in the air and a sudden chill creeps in. The world goes black.

And the rain comes and washes away everything, except Noah, his ark, and two of every creature on the earth.

Everyone chuckled and laughed and argued with Noah, yet he stayed firm to what he believed. His conviction saved him, his family and friends, and of course, the animals.

A good story, but it is a bit old for most tastes.

S P O I L E R S

Let’s fast forward to the future, one where alien technology pole-vaults humanity into a galactic society unlike anything they had seen before.

4378843-7809842996-shepaIn the Mass Effect series you play as Commander “John” or “Jane” Shepard, a Human Soldier with high honors. The Milky-Way galaxy is your playground and you are tasked, on behalf of an intergalactic council, in apprehending the rogue Spectre operative, Saren Arterius. You discover that Saren, despite seeming to be in control, is being manipulated by a “behind-the-curtain” villain known as a Reaper.

Except, Reapers don’t exist. Not really.

Nothing in the history of any civilization has ever given credibility to the belief of the Reapers. The only people in the game to believe in the existence of the Reapers are Commander Shepard and Saren. One is an upstart soldier from a race of untested newcomers, and the other is a traitor responsible for killing entire colonies and leading a detachment of Geth, hive-mind androids, to attack the Citadel.

As you may guess, neither of these are credible sources to believe.

maxresdefaultAnd yet, Commander Shepard maintains his position. He received a vision from an ancient alien beacon, one that flooded his mind with images and impressions of a great and devastating attack. Even after Sovereign, a Reaper in the guise of a massive battleship, launched an attack on the Citadel and nearly kills the council, the Council refused to pay any heed to Shepards warning:

The Reapers are coming to destroy the galaxy.

This mirrors Noah’s own conviction: the rain is coming to destroy the world.

There are a lot of factors that prevents these scions of galactic politics from believing Shepard:

  • Saren is seen to be in control of the Geth, which means he could have devised this story to fuel their fanaticism. And it just so happens that Shepard is a fool and bought the story.
  • Commander Shepard is a human. Humans are the newcomers and upstarts, barely children in the eyes of the Citadel Council. It wouldn’t be unlike the new person to cry wolf in order to seem important. Even if Shepard received a vision, it could have been a dream or sickness he acquired under stress.
  • Nothing in the archives, science, history, or otherwise, gives any notion that the Reapers could exist. They have not appeared in anything any one race has discovered. Therefore, Reapers are nothing more than a fantasy devised by Saren to control his army. There is no credible evidence to support Shepard’s theory.

 

Commander Shepard, however, continues to hold fast to his conviction, even after he dies and rises again in the second Mass Effect game. Though the Reapers are not directly involved in this game, their footprints are evident. Only Shepard can see the trail, but it is because of his alliance with the Human extremist group, Cerberus, that the Council refuses to believe anything he says.

wwiii_interrupted_by_lonefirewarrior-d3l6qfdIt is not until the third and final installment of the series that we see Shepard’s prophecy come to fruition. However, it is too late. The Reapers come in full force from the edge of the galaxy. Their immediate attack leaves the galaxy beaten and bruised. Earth is occupied with ease, suffering a siege that leaves the face of the planet a patchwork of destroyed cities.

The Reapers have come to destroy it all.

The rains have come to wash everything away.

Suddenly, everyone changes their tune.

With the Reapers hot on his/her tail, Commander Shepard races across the galaxy, helping the individual races on their own world so that they might give their resources to liberate the earth. You encounter each of the major political races (Krogan, Turian, Quarian, Solarian) and even have the capacity to help lesser races in their struggle. With these assets in hand, Shepard makes one last desperate attempt to take back his world.the-fleet

Shepard braves the turbulent waters of the risen tides. And through it, Shepard makes the final decision against the Reapers (a story for another time.)

 

Despite the overwhelming resistance Shepard met, he maintained his course to save the galaxy from the Reapers. Everything he accomplished he did so through sheer faith and conviction of what he had seen and believed.

The main theme of the two stories strike the same chord: when you believe in something and know it to be true, there is nothing that can stop you. Not even an armada of civilization ending predators intent on “cleansing” the galaxy.

 

(Mass Effect and images representing Mass Effect are owned by Bioware)