So I saw this perfectly delightful post, and my immediate response was “oh yes, of course Tali writes fanfic! She just doesn’t tell anyone because she’s afraid they’d never let her live it down.” (And as regards Garrus she’s probably right.)
Because obviously what Tali writes is schmoopy self-indulgent Shallicus, mostly for her own pleasure/comfort, and the prototypical Tali fic is 90% romantic fluff and 10% incredibly accurate and detailed descriptions of hacking. Shalei and Bellicus might spend most of the fic having a long romantic walk around the Presidium, but with amazing regularity they discover that they need to hack a terminal during said walk.
Tali is also that person who writes impassioned essays about how misrepresentation of quarian culture by the non-quarian parts of the fandom (which is most of it) is offensive, and that they either ought not write anything set on the Migrant Fleet for the fandom or at least ought to do a modicum of research. (She’s not wrong.) She does this all under the pseudonym Chatika63, because of course she does.
But my next thought was… you know who else I could see writing fanfic?
We know Legion plays MMORPGs. And we know that they have an interest in attempting to understand how organics think (in part, in the hopes of convincing organics not to attempt to destroy them on sight). And what better way to get inside of someone’s head than to… well… get inside their head? Write from the perspective of an organic? Given how awful they were at the Fleet and Flotilla visual novel (”Hopeless”), they probably have some awareness that this understanding is not a strong point, and trying to work it out via fanfic is certainly less risk-prone than trying to work it out via interaction
At first, Legion just downloads the 100 most popular fanfics for Galaxy of Fantasy and Fleet and Flotilla and analyzes them, breaking them down in terms of both general plot structure, scene structure, and even all the way down to sentence structure. Then they use that analysis to generate new fics, dump them on Space AO3 under a variety of pseudonyms (the sheer volume of Legion’s output would make posting under a single name look awfully suspicious–even the notably prolific salarian writers don’t write that fast), and wait.
(Space AO3 is a fascinating place. Some of the asari-written WIPs have been going on for centuries now, Support has to spend something like half its time mediating all the times when krogans write thinly-veiled bloodthirsty revenge-fic against anyone who posts critically about their stories, and the hanar fandom gift culture is… unique, to say the least. But that is another post for another time.)
Anyway. Those first attempts of Legion’s basically read like Mad Libs written by someone unclear on the concept, which, in effect, they are. But the thing about Legion is that even though they don’t have a great grasp of how shipping and etc. work (see above re: the Fleet and Flotilla visual novel), they are in fact not a mindless computer process but a highly intelligent AI. They learn.
In this case, they learn by analyzing feedback, hit counts, and upvotes. They break the stories down again, analyze what they discovered worked and what didn’t, and adjust, and post again.
Story quality actually takes a dip for a bit–it turns out that chasing popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to quality–but then begins to rise, slowly at first and then steadily. They learn what works and what doesn’t, what rings true to readers and what feels stilted or artificial. They store witty quips and bits of banter and felicitous turns of phrase between crewmates in long-term memory to slot into stories later. When they’re performing a task that doesn’t require the attention of all 1,183 programs, they let some of the idle processes spin out projections for how this or that scenario might be received, based on the current databank of information.
(In short, like all authors, they begin to eavesdrop, and to daydream, and to treat everything as grist for the mill.)
They rapidly become well-known, under several different pseudonyms (having ditched the early pseuds with their hideously awkward mix-and-match prose). Under the pseudonym VarrenRider13, they’re known for an epic romance set in the world of Galaxy of Fantasy, which is well-known for its sensitive portrayal of asari romance and its detailed worldbuilding. Under the pseudonym MorningWanderer, they’re known for a number of Shallicus fics for the Fleet and Flotilla fandom, including the fandom-famous “And Stars Danced” series and the underappreciated standalone “Breaking Bread.”
tl;dr: The One Where Tali’s Favorite Fleet and Flotilla Fic Writer Is Actually Legion.
(She never has a chance to find out before Legion’s death.)