Folks, humanity has been counting down the days, and we've finally reached that inevitable moment: the Reapers are on the horizon, and will invade the planet Earth this March. Mass Effect 3 will be upon us, and all of the galaxy's Shepards - both male and female- will begin their journey to conclude the current gen's most definitive RPG franchise. This blog series will pay tribute to the franchise as we brace ourselves for the upcoming finale by chronicling my own journey and experiences with the Mass Effect series. We'll continue this series with a look at five of the toughest choices that I've had to make as a Renegade, all of which I don't regret in the slightest. Paragons are welcome to sound in! DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REVIEW, SPOILERS MAY BE PRESENT.


1) Sparing The Rachni

This happened when I was searching for Matriarch Benezia on Noveria. My squad found her secret base of operations, known as Peak 15, and discovered a peculiar alien organism we'd never seen before. As the plot unfolded however, we discovered they were Rachni, a race of aliens somehow resurrected from extinction after being annihilated by the Krogan eons ago. We later discovered the source: a Rachni Queen being held prisoner by Matriarch Benezia, whom we dealt with promptly. The Rachni Queen, however, presented a far more complicated situation.

Would we destroy the latest Rachni queen and damn their race to extinction again, or would we spare her in the hope that she would honor her promise not to repeat their mistakes? The Renegade choice seemed efficient, but it was far from that in retrospect; I would have the burden of genocide on my hands, as well as a valuable ally... if she kept her word. Keeping her alive didn't guarantee that she'd honor her promise, but killing her would never present such an opportunity. I then decided to act, not out of fear, but out of good faith, and released her. After all, true Renegades were morally neutral; I'd leave the debates over good and evil to the pretentious Council.


2) Sacrificing Kaidan

As a leader, you learn one thing before anything else: there's always going to be a moment when you lose. Sure, those sappy movies they advertise on the extranet with story-book endings are inspirational, if not entertaining, but they're also wrong. We lost the first battle at Shanxi, lost our colony on Eden Prime to Saren and his Geth, and certainly didn't fare as well as I'd hoped on Virmire. There will be unexpected complications that arise on occasion, and we should always prepare ourselves for them as best we can.

Nobody wants to choose who lives and who dies, but they always want to decide who wins and who loses. I find that hypocritical behavior; those who are truly committed to being leaders must always expect the possibility that the worst could happen, and devote themselves to being responsible enough to make that choice. Still, I was caught off-guard when the weight of my choice hit me. Kaidan was more than a subordinate; he was a friend who'd guided me along the right path as a Spectre, always there to check me in my reckless behavior. I could be cold and calculating and say that we needed him to guard the nuke, and that sacrificing him was the logical, most efficient choice in a cool and detached manner, but I'd be a fool that disrespected his legacy. No one, especially him, was supposed to die in that mission, and much of the problems surrounding it were clearly the fault of the Council. Nonetheless I was burdened with that choice, and instinctively, I chose.

I don't know why I saved Ashley instead; we never got along in my first playthrough after all, and I never took her with me on missions. I almost regretted not choosing her, but slowly came to accept my choice for what it was; there was no right or wrong answer, and neither was clean-cut, unless we treated soldiers like they were simply credits being gambled away in a game of Quasar. Kaidan, quite simply, had also made his choice, and the least I could do, was respect it. In the end, his loss was a lesson I'd never forget.


3) Saving The Council

I remember this pivotal moment clearly. So lucid, in fact, that it's practically an image burned into my consciousness in the same way the knowledge of the Protheans was passed to me through the Beacon. The atmosphere surrounding the Citadel swarmed with Geth drop-ships that transported waves of synthetic enemies into the besieged Presidium, and I, along with my trusted pals Wrex and Garrus, fought them relentlessly. Then, the fateful call came: the Destiny Ascension was knee-deep in trouble and at risk of failing, along with the Council. The current waves of fighters weren't doing so well against Sovereign either, and as usual, I was faced with a choice: would I sacrifice a portion of the fleet to assist the Destiny Ascension, or would I focus on Sovereign instead, the more immediate threat?

At first, it would seem easy for a Renegade like me to throw away the Council - in another playthrough I did - and simply write them off as a necessary sacrifice. Yet, I couldn't ignore the consequences of it: risking galactic instability between the Council races, especially the Turians we'd faced in the First Contact War. Humans were already mistrusted for our rapid ascent; if we were truly to rise and become a dominant force, I decided that the Alliance would prove itself on its own terms, rather than underhanded tactics. There was the dilemma posed by the Reapers, renowned for annihilating all civilizations in the galaxy for countless ages.

The Alliance would not be able to handle them on their own, regardless of our political and military power, and I believed our survival overruled any ulterior motives. Thus a negotiation, however temporary, would be necessary, and I was far from afraid of building bridges. Of course however, other Renegades wouldn't accept this measure, and call it "idealism"; I call it pragmatic analysis. After all, solving problems are what Renegades are truly concerned with, not creating them at our own possible expense.

The Council of course screwed me over later on, but I didn't regret my choice. Humans had our stake in Anderson now, I was still a hero, and I had an even greater vision for our people in the works.


4) Keeping Maelon's Data

This moment happened during a rescue mission on Tuchanka. I was helping Mordin track down his assistant Maelon when we'd discovered a plot by Clan Weyrloc to engineer a cure for the genophage and conquer the galaxy. We mowed through Weyrloc's forces thinking that Maelon had been kidnapped, only to learn that Maelon had willingly participated in their research for a cure. His reasoning: guilt over the dubious effects of the Genophage on the Krogan race.

The advances he'd gained had come at the expense of countless participants, but the data remained invaluable to us, and helping the Krogan now being led by Urdnot Wrex, a close friend and ally, was clearly the logical decision here. Destroying that data, in my opinion, couldn't have been feasible even if I'd killed Wrex; I'd still have an inordinate number of enemies - possibly also one in Grunt - that could pose a serious threat to Humanity and the Alliance. Even if I were heartless, destroying that data would be suicide; we could use it, after all, to devise an even stronger version of the Genophage and guarantee their demise if the need called for it. Thus, I kept Maelon's data; I had a hunch it would eventually prove to become an excellent incentive for the Krogan to ally with us, furthering Humanity's role in politics. Skepticism of course remained inside of me, but I refused to let it overwhelm me with doubt.

After this event, I seriously doubted the Renegade cause was truly understood; many of these choices were downright foolish, if not disturbing, and couldn't possibly represent our ideals, as there were no true benefits - unless we completely eschewed critical thinking and common sense. At best it was hubris, and a future decision I was tasked with would confirm my suspicions.


5) Destroying the Collector Base

This was the toughest choice for me to make as a Renegade. We'd used the Omega Relay to fight the Collectors on their own turf, and had largely succeeded, defeating their abomination: a Human Reaper they were creating from the genetic material of the humans they'd captured. The Illusive Man wanted me to preserve the base so that the information inside could be used to fight the Reapers and continue to further Humanity's dominance. However, I was far from convinced, and destroyed the Base. Ironically, TIM had the nerve to call me an Idealist, as though I was acting purely on emotion rather than from a logical place. Yet, TIM was wrong on several levels.

First, it was obvious that the possibility of an event happening didn't promise that it would happen; causality was not the same as potentiality, after all. Yet, there was strong enough reason to believe, based on the past failures of Cerberus, and my personal experiences with Saren, that the chances of indoctrination - especially at the main hub of the Reaper's pawns - were astronomically high, and that Cerberus wouldn't be able prevent this from happening. This however, was not the only reason that I decided not to give Cerberus the chance to harness the Base's resources.

Cerberus had revived me, sure, and thrown billions of credits into it. Yet, as a former Alliance soldier and as a former Spectre, I had not forgotten what they'd done before this. I'd personally devoted time to hunting down and dismantling their bases when I discovered they were cloning Rachni, and I never had a chance to avenge Kahoku in the manner I'd wished. While I sympathized with some of Cerberus' goals, TIM was a person impossible for me to trust; he was always ten steps ahead of me, and never willing to disclose his true motives while manipulating us with his unlimited source of intel. He'd even led us directly into a trap without warning. Thus, I knew that Humanity's dominance was only one small part of his goals. Any man who put their own personal interests first could not truly serve our cause, so I had to defy him.

Sure, our future as a race in this war against the Reapers isn't certain, but stopping them at any means necessary also required me to prevent them gaining any possible advantages, especially through weaknesses I might have enabled, and that, was what it meant to be a Renegade. I regret none of it, and as I watched TIM, his face red and inflamed in a scowl, I could imagine Kahoku laughing at them in his grave.



I'm sure you guys might notice a pattern in this entry, and I will be exploring it again. I may have made the choices that this franchise would consider those of a Paragon in some cases, but they reflect something far more important; I'm still a Renegade - this remained the highest alignment - and who I am as a Commander isn't in any way compromised. Choices can be transformative, and in some cases, definitive, but we remain people with personalities that express a far more diverse perspective. I made these choices to liberate myself from the narrow ideologies the series tends to confine us to, and while they were understandably tough, they were nonetheless decisions I own without any shame. I am Commander Shepard, I'm a Renegade, and these are my confessions. What are yours?