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Mass Effect/AEC: ANN News-Alliance Reforms Rank Structure


Tweet of the Day: Once Upon a Midnight Dreary….


ANN News Desk

From Alliance News Desk on the Citadel

April 5, 2196

Alliance Military Reforms Rank Structure

By Amita Quita

The Systems Alliance Navy Defense Council approved the change in rank structure after a recent report concluded that the old system, which merged land base and naval traditions into a single rank structure, caused significant confusion among allied military forces in joint operations during the war. It is part of the sweeping reforms established under the Planetary Defense Authorization Act of 2194, which authorized the expansion of the Systems Alliance military from 2% of available manpower to 5%.  Proponents of the new rank system site among other benefits the integration of existing national and regional militaries into a planet wide defense structure as well as accommodation of  the growing number of colonial militias garrisoning human colonies in the Traverse. The act includes the opening of new service academies and training depots across the globe to accommodate the influx of recruits. Due to Earth’s economic post-war collapse and the role the Alliance military played in maintaining law and order post occupation, it became the single largest employer in human controlled space.

Graduates of the N7 program can opt to have their ranks grandfather in or switch to the new structure until 2200.

The new Alliance Marine Rank Structure reinstates many ranks (but not all) found in pre-spaceflight land forces:

Alliance Marine Enlisted Ranks and NCOs:


  • Private: Rank given to recruits when entering basic training.
  • Privater 1st Class: Rank achieved when graduating from basic training.
  • Specialist: Rank achieved when entering a specialist school of their choice. Often a title is appended to the rank to mark their specialization such as Comm Specialist, Heavy Weapons Specialist, or Drone Specialist. Specialist form the base of most marine fire teams (4  marines per section ) within a marine platoon (between 20-40 marines), operating heavy weapons, platoon communications or drone support.
  • Specialist 1st Class: Senior Specialist in charge of a marine fire team.
  • Corporal: Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).
  • Sergeant: NCO in charge of a marine squad (6-12 marines) which may include one or more fire teams.
  • Gunnery Sergeant/Tech Sergeant: Senior NCO in charge of coordinating the specialist fire teams within a platoon. Gunnery Sergeants deal with heavy weapons and artillery (mortars, grenade launchers and rocket launchers) while Tech Sergeants supervise communications and drone/mech support.
  • Sergeant 1st Class: The platoon’s senior sergeant and executive officer.


Alliance Officer Ranks:


  • 2nd Lieutenant: Junior Officer and recent graduate of  an Alliance Officer Candidate Course. Marine 2nd Lieutenants command platoons (between 20-40 marines).
  • 1st Lieutenant: Serve as executive officers in a marine company (80-200 marines and up to 32 ground vehicles). A company includes a mixture of infantry, mechanized and reconnaissance platoons or be a specialist company of artillery (called a battery) , engineers (specialist in construction and demolitions), logistics or command (a HQ company within a larger formation such as a battalion).
  • Captain: Commanding officers in charge of a company of marines. Can also serve as an executive officer at the battalion level.
  • Major: Commanding officer of a battalion, which is the smallest all arms formation in the Systems Alliance Marines. A battalion may range from 4-8 companies and may have organic air support in the form of Kodiak Drop Shuttles and Mantis Gunships. These are maintained and operated by naval personnel who work closely with their Marine counterparts and has earned them the name, “Dirt Navy” or “Mud Surfers”.
  • Lieutenant Colonel: Commanding officer of a marine regiment. Pre-war regiments were administrative units that handled logistics, base command and other “rear area” duties. However, the need for greater operational flexibility has brought back the “regimental combat team” concept. RCTs are made up of at least two battalions and have assigned to them a wing of gunships/shuttles for support.
  • Colonel: The most senior field officer rank. Colonels command marine Brigade Combat Teams made up of between 2-3 regiments. BCTs are the largest combat units fielded by the Alliance Marines and often carried into battle on carriers. They serve as the point of the spear in retaking human colonies from enemy occupation as well as garrisoning key installations both in space as well as planet side.

All System Alliance Flag/General officers retain their naval ranks and command both naval task forces and other larger theater command units. Tomorrow we will look at how the reforms have impacted the System Alliance Navy.


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TV Tropes Monday: Heir Club for Men

Tweet of the Day: Thursday Special ~ At the Border


Henry the VIII, you remember him, of Anne Bolin, the Anglican Church, and the dead wives (some of which he ordered disposed of by means most fowl). You see Old H did this not only because he was the president of the Heir Club for Men, but also a member. He, like the long line of kings before him, most of them from the Platagenet line, which had their own troubled presidency/membership in the trope club, sought an heir to the throne. But not just any heir, but a male heir, for only a man could rule England in peace and in war. So Henry went to incredible lengths to sire a healthy baby boy that would grow up to be Henry IX.

As if often the case with this trope, a quick check of any relevant history book (or Wikipedia) will show that now such person came to be. This trope then was in full effect during Henry’s reign. Your story may have a similar situation, with a desperate king, patriarch, or other male head of household desperately trying to father a son to carry on his legacy. And the child must be legitimate too, no foundlings or brothel boys unless you’re William the Bastard and he had to kill his way to the throne. Failure to produce a male heir tends to kick off a Succession Crisis.

The irony of Henry’s tale is that England survived by dispensing with the club all together. Henry was succeeded not by one but two of his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth whose reigns would see England reach no heights of power as well as terror.

The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen!


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Weekend Roundup: August 10-16


Tweet of the Day: If you’re a cisgender woman writing m/m romance, sorry, you are not striking a blow for equality


I wanted to write a post on the situation in Ferguson, MO, but the flow of information is chaotic and unreliable to say the least. It will take sometime for things to calm down. I would like to say that it will take sometime for the truth to come out as well, but I’ve already seen the dueling narratives start to harden around the incident: wanton thug vs. heroic cop, racist cop vs. innocent teen, brave police vs. crazed looters, peaceful protester vs. militarized police, aggressive cops vs. heroic reporters, attention seeking media vs. officers enforcing the law….

Well you get the gist of it. But there is some hope, police marching with demonstrators, young men protecting stores from looters. But a reminder to all, there can never be freedom without peace, and no peace without justice.

And now for this week’s posts:

So much for this week. See you around and I hope you are having a wonderful summer.



Lessons from the Aether: AD&D and Transitioning Your Heroes from Outsiders to Insiders


Tweet of the Day: Character or Ciphers? Which Are You Casting in Your Story?


Heroes are often outsiders, people with little socioeconomic power or rebels against the status quo. But once they defeat the bad guy and are given a position of power, the story is over. Few writers can make the transition from loner hero to a person with responsibility. If a new threat emerges, the hero comes from behind the desk, drops the crown and gear up with the old armor. Either you are a badass, “on the field,” or a has been, “behind a desk.” I have yet to read a story where the plot transitions from an outsider perspective into an insider perspective, at least well enough to keep the reader’s interest.

However, I recall that the first and second edition rules of Advance Dungeons and Dragons (a pencil & paper roleplaying game) included rules for hiring henchmen, acquiring followers and building, “strongholds.” The strongholds could be anything from a castle to a wizard’s tower with a few churches and thieves’ guilds thrown in for good measure. The idea behind these rules is that as the heroes progressed in levels they gained fame and fortune. In turn they became important members of the community. Heroes are heroes because they get things done. They drive away bandits, slay goblins, destroy demonic cults. Who better to lead the local guard, protect the local lord, and police the countryside.  And heroes attract followers, people who want either to follow in their footsteps or share in their riches. That means a bigger set of responsibilities beyond simply swinging spells and swords. The game doesn’t set up this as an end to the adventures but as the natural evolution of them. The heroes become invested (often literally) in the life of not only the nearest village but of the kingdom.

The key to the situation is realizing that the stakes do not disappear or that the tension slackens after the hero has reached a level of success. In fact, such successes can bring on a new set of challenges. Now they have to administer their lands, wage war, arrange marriages, survive assassination attempts. It requires a certain managing of expectations of the audience by the author. The trick is to set it up as an evolution of the premise rather than an abandoning of it. Just like the rule set, if the audience knows that at some point the protagonist could move on from merely a soldier to a general they might not only expected but demand it.


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Mass Effect/AEC: ANN News-Embassy Bugged


Tweet of the Day: Moving, GDC Europe and Other Excuses


ANN News Desk

October 22, 2196

Systems Alliance Embassy Bugged

by Iris Dunnigan

PRESIDUM, CITADEL- The C-Sec investigation following the attempt on Commander Thompson-Ramos life (see: Headlines October 11) discovered an alarming number of bugs and multiple spy programs embedded on the Systems Alliance Embassy’s computers and facilities. Among the devices found where nanite clusters on the wall carpeting, spy software incorporated into the operating systems of the embassy’s computers, and several VI’s with corrupted communications algorithms. C-Sec cybercrimes division is working with Alliance Intelligence in finding the source of the surveillance hardware as well as the nature and volume of the data transmitted to third parties. The exact volume, nature, or sensitivity of the data is unknown at this time.

Ambassador Chen Wei-Len has been recalled to Arcturus Station for consultations with the Systems Alliance Parliament.


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TV Tropes: Bodyguard Babes

Tweet of the Day: Empathetic Characters


This trope appears to be straight forward on the surface: a woman or women serving as bodyguards for a third party. But a closer inspection brings three aspects to the forefront:

  • Gender dynamics
  • Power dynamics
  • Trust issues

Gender dynamics are the most obvious ones.  This type of work that requires several things, including an imposing demeanor (to deter possible attackers), strength (to either outfight or muscle the charge out of danger), and combat prowess. All of these are associated with men. A female bodyguard may (or not) rely on not being noticed by a possible attacker does allowing her to react when others would be under fire. Speed might substitute or complement her strength.  Modern bodyguards have the advantage of using firearms which are easier to handle and disguise. Anyone with the right training and aptitude can fire a gun.

Power dynamics come into play when you look at the, “babes,” part of the trope. A man may choose to surround himself with female bodyguards that show, a) his sexual prowess since one or more of the women double as lovers/concubines/courtesans and b) that he is so powerful that he can command the strongest women available this making a not so subtle comment on the power of his enemies. But with this trope also comes the third aspect linked to trust. Perhaps the man in question believes that he can bind the women through love/affection/sexual prowess, or that women have a maternal instinct to protect that overrides their ambition to rule (thus tempted to take power unto themselves), or the person protected is a woman who feels more comfortable in the presence of females than males who she views are power hungry or simply untrustworthy.  This last one may fall into a form of Author’s Appeal if not an Author’s Tract when it comes to the gender roles in society as reflected in their worlds.



Science Fiction and Fantasy Saturday: Lessons of War Snippet


Tweet of the Day: SF OBSCURE: Earth: Final Conflict


As you can see by the large banner ad a the top of this post I signed up to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Saturday web ring. It is a web ring of, well you guessed it, speculative fiction writers to showcase bits of their work. I’ve decided to show a few lines of my current WiP, Lessons of War:

 Mother and I stayed in the dining hall after everyone else cleared the table with our handmaidens, Minerva and Athena. I waited in absolute silence for mother’s inevitable question.

“So, if the reports are accurate you had a pleasant evening with the young Duke deHavilland,” she said.

“We spoke, yes.”

“I see. Interesting. While the possibilities are obvious I am not ready to place my bets on an untested stallion,” she said.

“He is not a horse mother!” I blurted out.

The words echoed in the empty hall. I waited under mother’s steely gaze for what seemed like an eternity

“I see. Well, I’ve said my piece. Make of it what you will,” she said as she got up from the table.

I took it exactly for what it meant, an order to stay away from Edward until such time as she deemed it politically advantageous.  The Archduchesses had spoken and the Lady Elector had to obey.


Please visit the site and check out the great collection of authors within. If you want to catch up on this week’s post the links are below.


You thought I forgotten about the Weekend Roundup, nope just decided to spice things up a bit:

I hope you are having a magnificent summer. Cheers!




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