When There Was a Tomorrow

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When There Was a Tomorrow is a Halo/Mass Effect crossover by General Rage. Set after the events of Mass Effect 2 and its subsequent Lair of the Shadow Broker arc, it begins with Team Normandy doing recon of a wormhole in search of a possible Reaper threat. The Paragon Commander Wade Shepard deals with tensions among his crew (and his current relationship with Tali) at first, only to come under abrupt attack from an (unbeknownst to them) Covenant warship during their observation.

After repelling boarders and destroying the ship from within, another Covenant warship ends up chasing them through the wormhole...and into an Alternate Universe where another humanity's first contact with alien species didn't go so well (well, not that it went well in the Mass Effect universe). After making some serious diplomatic efforts to assure some local naval assets they mean no harm, the Normandy is towed to the fortress world of Reach, and as a show of good will, Shepard offers to assist with a downed communications relay to prove that his alien crew our on the level...only for things to go south.

Simply put, this story is a rather well thought out What If scenario dealing with the differences between Mass Effect and Halo's technology, provides more than a few interesting interactions between the relatively xenophobic humans of the Halo universe and the Normandy Crew, and Shepard struggling to deal with The Chains of Commanding as he's thrust out of one apocalypse in the making and into another, not to mention some of the best written battle sequences since Finishing the Fight.

Tropes used in When There Was a Tomorrow include:
  • Action Bomb: Gremlins (Grunt Husks), unlike their un-Huskified fellows, need no longer rely on plasma grenades to suicidally blow away their foes.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Despite just getting comfortable with EDI and Legion, Tali is apprehensive at the sheer pervasiveness of AI use in the Halo universe, and is happy to share her objections where appropriate.
    • A more straightforward use of this trope would be the Covenant AI that EDI fights in the first chapters.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Because of this trope, the Normandy crew tries to keep quiet about the whole "Reaper" business, since they assumed UNSC Command would think them as crazy. After Reapers are revealed to be involved, the crew is suprised that the Halo soldiers accept their information verbatim.
  • And That Would Be Wrong: Kasumi starts talking about how certain types of parties have the best stuff to steal... before remembering that she's talking to Samara the Justicar, and immediately follows up with:

Kasumi:"I mean, I wouldn't steal anything… not as they didn't deserve it of course. Cause stealing from innocents is unjust and, wrong and icky."

  • Badass Mustache: This incarnation of Shepard has one.
  • Berserk Button: Zaeed's button is pressed to the breaking point when he sees a Jackal eyeing up his old gun.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Reavers (Elite Husks) have plasma-sword blades extending from their wrists and/or palms.
  • Blood Knight: Kreave, who has taken a contract with the Covenant to enjoy a large scale war...and kill Shepard.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The Inquisitor is quick to reveal his plans to Shepard, consisting of massing a Covenant Armada on Reach, then creating a wormhole back to the Mass Effect Universe to use as a vanguard (similar to the geth) to the Reaper invasion. However, it's worth noting that The Inquisitor only confirmed what Shepard already knew or otherwise could have guessed from the data Legion gave him.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Upon seeing the Covenant Supercarrier:

Joker: "EDI... I now have bricks in my pants."

  • The Chains of Commanding: In addition to the Cosmic Horror Story back home, being lost in an Alternate Universe, his crew starting to bicker with each other again, and his straining relationship with Tali, Shepard is under a lot of stress right now.
    • Shepard and Carter have a touching conversation about this in New Alexandria, and it helps break Shepard out of his Heroic BSOD.
  • Cool Ship: The Normandy was this to begin with, but compared to Halo's technology, is this compared even to local ships. Nonetheless, Shepard starts requisitioning a slipspace drive and other goodies to make it even cooler.
    • As of Chapter 10, it's paid off. Joker and EDI have used their new weapons to utterly decimate Covenant Wraith and anti-air formations.
  • Country Matters: Miranda (of all people) calls Jack (of all people) this while they try to quickly resolve their mutual resentment in Chapter 16.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In chapter 5, Garrus figures that the reason why Emile seems less angry about being paired with two aliens is either because Emile respects Garrus more, or because Samara's outfit has a V-neck. A little more literal example is a few scenes later, when the three are ambushed by a lone grunt while Emile is commenting that she looks good for her age.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jack, a homicidal girl with a Hair-Trigger Temper and utter contempt for almost everyone, is nauseated by a video on Brute eating habits.
  • Fan Boy: Kreave is as much as a Krogan can be in regards to Shepard. Unfortunately, this manifests as wanting to best and kill him in single combat. Case in point: when he learned Shepard was on Reach, he dedicated every moment to finding the Commander, and even trained his own Krogan Vanguards to emulate Shepard's fighting style.
  • Fantastic Racism: The humans of the UNSC in general and the Spartans of Noble Team in particular are initially very leery of the aliens on the Normandy crew (save Jorge). Carter and Kat get snapped out of it when Legion pretty bluntly points out how illogical the whole thing is, pointing to how the UNSC is willing to trust AI.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Noble 6 and Legion, surprisingly.
  • For Want of a Nail: Grunt Takes a Needler Rifle round meant for Kat's head, saving her from her canon death.
  • The Ghost: It took almost a dozen chapters before the Big Bad A Reaper called The Inquisitor was even named. It has yet to speak or make a physical appearance in the story as of Chapter 14, though it has been the subject of multiple conversations since its first mention.
    • It finally appears in Chapter 18 and it's not in very good shape.
  • Heroic BSOD: While recovering in the medbay from getting curb-stomped by a Hunter, Grunt realizes how much his arrogance has embarrassed himself and Shepard. He doesn't take it well when Shepard insists his injuries were punishment enough and demands worse. He eventually concedes to Shepard refusing to take him along on missions for the next few days.
    • Shepard is described as not being "in a commanding mood" in Chapter 18 after Tali's apparent death.
  • Hope Spot: The possibility for Jorge surviving Operation: Uppercut is set up by virtue of Legion joining in on it. He still dies. It's just as tragic as it sounds.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Dr. Halsey says as much to Shepard when explaining The Spartan-II's recruitment process. The Normandy Crew have differing opinions on whether it was the right thing.
    • Mordin and The Master Chief personally assure her that she did.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the first two chapters, characters are always quick to remind other characters that wormholes "pull," not "suck."
  • Jerkass: Colonel Ackerson is in top form here.
  • Name's the Same: In addition to Jacob Taylor, one of the Marines is named Sergeant Taylor.
    • Grunt (the Tank-bred Krogan on Shepard's team) and Grunts (the cannon-fodder Covenant units, also known as Unggoy). The former is not pleased that the two share a name.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: The Inquisitor, since attempting to return to the ME-verse left it heavily damaged enough that even a few UNSC frigates could finish it off.
  • No Name Given: Noble Six is still Noble Six, and prefers it that way.
  • Not Brainwashed: The Inquisitor boasts that it did not require Indoctrination to bend The Covenant's leadership to its will.
  • Not So Different: Shepard and his crew can't help but see an uncomfortable number of parallels between The Illusive Man and Dr. Halsey, and several of his teammates seem to be losing respect for him for siding with her, maintaining loyalty only because Shepard thinks she's their only ticket home.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kreave holds this mentality regarding Shepard. So much that he's attacked Sword Base not for the chance to recover the artifact underneath it, but to get the chance to capture Shepard and face him one-on-one.
  • Oh Crap: Everyone's reaction to finding out that the Covenant have inexplicably acquired Mass Effect technology.
    • Another one comes when they find out That the Batarians, Blood Pack, and The Reapers are giving the Covenant their support.
    • Particularly when Garrus, Tali, and Six end up fighting an Elite Husk.
    • The arrival of "The Centipede," a husk made out of fused together drones.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Shepard secretly orders Legion to hack into the Covenant Battlenet aboard the Corvette. Joker and EDI see a transmission go out from said Corvette, think they're trying to warn the Carrier about Operation Uppercut, and send a counter signal to overload the source, incapacitating Legion.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Colonel Urban Holland is willing to stick his neck out to help Shepard, most notably when he bails the Commander out when Colonel Ackerson reneges on a deal they make for their freedom. Admiral Gravelston counts too, for hearing Shepard out after first happening upon him after they arrive in the Halo universe.
  • Reporting Names: For the Covenant-type Husks, courtesy of Noble Team: "Centipedes" for the multi-Drone Husks, "Gremlins" for Grunt Husks, and "Reavers" for Elite Husks.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Kreave recounts working with an Alliance radio operator to explain how he's able to taunt Shepard over his comm channel. He also mentions killng the operator by jamming his eyes into radio antennae.
  • Right Behind Me: Several marines are talking about how Miranda saved them with "Psychic Powers," (biotics), when several others come up and start talking about Samara doing the same thing. Just as one is about to comment on *ahem* at least two of her attributes, one of his fellow soldiers stops him, simply pointing behind him, to reveal the Asari in question.
  • The Rival: Katherine feels somewhat threatened by having Tali, another mechanic, on the team for their first mission together. She gets over it by the time it's over though.
  • Shout-Out: To Total Recall when Noble Six pretends to be a hologram in Chapter 9.
    • When Dr. Halsey lists off the reasons that the Spartans are called Spartans, Shepard guesses that the people in charge of the project "liked that ridiculous 20th Century action flick."
    • Chapter 13 is a loving homage to Aliens.
    • One of the Marines is named Ramirez.
    • Chapter one has Kasumi mention that she went to a restaurant that runs simulations of the end of the universe, which sounds like a similar eating establishment in Douglass Adams' book Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
  • Tempting Fate: In chapter two, Jack asks why Grunt didn't kill some of the Unggoy (Covenant Grunts) that were running away. He replies that they are not worth killing, and that they aren't shooting back. Seconds later, a barrage of plasma forces them into cover, forcing Grunt to admit that these aliens are worthy of being killed.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kreave believes that killing Shepard will give him enough respect to take the reins of the Krogan. Given that it's Shepard, he's going to have to earn it.
  • We ARE Struggling Together!: Almost no one in the UNSC trusts Shepard's crew at first, in addition to Halsey's pre-existing rivalry with Colonel Ackerson from canon.
    • Emile really doesn't like Garrus, for that matter.
    • Shepard and Tali's relationship become strained as they start keeping secrets from each other about problems they've been having.
    • Kreave does not think highly of Elites, and he and the Shipmaster of the Long Night of Solace demonstrate undisguised contempt for one another over not letting Kreave's Blood Pack mercenaries go on the offensive.
  • Wham! Episode: Chapters 10 and 11 are back to back Wham Episodes, revealing that Balak, the Blood Pack, and the Reapers have thrown their lot in with the Covenant.
    • Chapter 14 sees: Tali possibly dying.
    • In Chapter 15 Jorge still dies. Made all the more heart-wrenching by hints that it might have been averted.
    • In Chapter 18, Not only does The Inquisitor reveal itself and its motives, but as Noble Team and Team Normandy flee to the fallout shelter, Kat tries to explain her reservations about Colonel Holland's latest mission assignment for them Until Grunt narrowly shoves her out of the way of a sniper round, preventing her canonical Plotline Death.
  • Wham! Line: Even before all that comes along, we're given the line "For now simply know that your prior feelings when we first met were understandable and I do not think poorly of you for them." Now, what makes this apparent Character Development laden line so surprising? Legion is the one saying it! What makes it even Whammier is that when Tali points out this change in behavior Legion insists it's not calling itself "I" and seems genuinely unaware that its doing so. The exact significance of this line has yet to be seen, however.
    • Now it's been extrapolated on. Legion uplinking with DOT caused it to develop a burgeoning sense of individuality.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Garrus is horrified when Emile kills a grunt they've finished interrogating, even moreso when Samara, who successfully interrogated the grunt in the first place, said that's what she planned to do anyway, since it would, as she promised, free him from his fear and pain.
    • This covers Shepard's response to learning about Dr. Halsey's past with the Spartans, and some of his crew's reaction to him (reluctantly) siding with her anyway.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Legion is set up with the possibility of saving Jorge from having to make a Heroic Sacrifice during Operation: Uppercut. Unfortunately, he ends up getting incapacitated and Jorge dies anyway.