Chapter 14 – the Traverse Interlude

AN: Urrgharghrah! It lives! On a more serious note, sorry for the delay, and realistically expect a long delay for the next one. But it's going to happen in the fullness of time.


I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
-Isaiah 45:7, Christian Bible


Eden Prime

Turian shuttles descend towards Eden Prime. Their coloring is similar to the turian fleet designations, but do not match any of the 6 fleet divisions the turians field.

This is the Seventh Legion; Garrus' Legion.

Two old friends rest comfortably in the first dropship.

"Liara, you didn't have to be here. I know you're impossibly busy as the Shadow Broker."

Liara grinned. "I wouldn't miss this for anything. Remember, I was always an archeologist and Prothean expert first."

Garrus smiled. "Yeah, yeah. By the way, Mordin left a message for you."

She blinked. "Why didn't he just send me the message directly?"

Garrus shrugged. "He put it in the shuttle a week ago. It's under your seat."

Liara reached down and pulled out a physical envelope. There was a card inside. She opened it, and snorted. "He knew I'd sit here. It's just a thank you note for the archeology advice I gave him."

"You wonder how he's going to pull off his part of the plan?"

Liara lifted the card. It showed a pickaxe, whip, and fedora. "He's smarter than me. I've got no idea what he's planning."


Somewhere in the Attican Traverse

In a dusty hallway, a fedora'd figure slowly walks across a roughhewn stone passage, brushing off cobwebs and re-coiling his whip. At the far end is an open room with a pedestal. On the pedestal is a golden idol of the sun, gleaming bright.

He pauses and studies the floor. Poked a section of the floor with a hard light construct.

A ballistic projectile shoots from a hole in the wall, shattering the construct.

Dart traps.

He picks his way across the chamber, placing each step with slow precision.

The idol on the pedestal beckoned, easily in reach.

He bends down to stare at the idol. Rubs his chin.

He reached into his leather jacket, and pulls out a small bag. He weighed it in his hand, eyeing the idol. He opens the bag and discards a small handful of sand. He reaches for the idol, bag in one hand. Carefully he reaches…

"That's far enough, Doctor. Turn around. Slowly."

Dr. Mordin Solus; geneticist, doctor, former member of the Special Tasks Group, part of the Normandy crew, and now adventurer, slowly turned around, lifting his arms.

At the entrance to the room stood a man holding a gun. The man was slim. The gun was deadly. He looked Mordin up and down and smirked. "Playing the part quite well, I see. Doctor Indiana Jones, I presume?" He gestured to the side with the gun. "Step away from the idol. Drop the whip and the bag of sand."

Mordin did.

"The dart traps are aesthetic. They really sound the alarm." The man stepped forward, motioning Mordin to keep walking back. He walked in front of the idol, blocking it from Mordin's view. He smiled. "The portable sun is my most prized invention. It powers everything in this base. It's protected most powerfully. Did you really think you could have simply swapped the bag for the idol?"

Mordin shrugged. "Of course. It worked, didn't it?"

Something was wrong. The man stepped to the side while keeping his attention on Mordin. Out of the corner of his eye, he couldn't see the idol's golden glow. The man glanced back at the idol for a moment and gasped. Where the idol had been now lay a bag of sand.

He quickly spun back to face Mordin, but the doctor was gone. In his place was a boulder the size of a salarian. Wearing a fedora.

As the man screamed in rage, Doctor Mordin Solus and the master thief Kasumi Goto ran into their shuttle and flew away, sun idol in their possession.

6 months ago, planning for the Reaper invasion

"Aren't you worried about the Reapers attacking other human colonies? All those defenseless colonies in the Skyllian Verge?"

"Well, you know how when the Technocracy said Ether wasn't a thing back in the early 1900s?"

"Yeah. The Michelson–Morley experiment. And Einstein's abandonment of it in 1905."

"You know how in response the Sons of Ether went berserk, ditched the Technocracy and joined the Traditions instead?"

"Well, they're called mad scientists for a reason. So?"

"Since then, they've gotten crazier. And angrier. So when humanity wanted to create colonies in the Skyllian Verge, outside of Alliance control, we all decided that it would be in everyone's best interests if we let the Etherites have it."

"Have it?"

"Yeah. We let them call dibs. We let them have control of the Verge. All of it. And we don't go there. Ever. See; they've gotten even crazier."

"Good god."

A giant blue phonebooth floats near the Perseus Veil. The geth don't bother it; the geth have learned not to bother it.

By the batarian border, a section of space is twisted in an endless figure eight. Batarian ships detour around it and do not acknowledge its existence.

At the far edge of known space, there is a star system that causes gentle elevator muzak to play inside any and all ships that try to explore it. This is the gentlest, and surprisingly effective first barrier protecting the umbral Etherite bases from notice.

Throughout the Far Rim, tucked away from the first glance, other such anomalies can be found. But not by the Citadel. Hence they have no official existence. And thusly, the few Reapers sent to crush the human colonies that lay outside the aegis of the Systems Alliance found out why the hard way.


Reaper invasion, day 1

Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed flees vigorously. In pursuit is a large wooden sailing vessel, slowly gaining. Behind them drift the crushed remnants of the rest of the Reapers. Lurid colors still blot the battlefield; patches of fire amidst the drifting Reaper corpses.

Patches of space where reality is still on fire.

"Avast!" Techno pirates clambered through the rigging, tightening the laser sail. The crew are dressed in an eclectic array of various pirate-like clothing, along with accountant-wear and lab coats. One is using a necktie as a faux-eyepatch. Another has a slide-rule clenched between his teeth like a blade.

There is a tiny robotic monkey.

"Roll out the cannons! Load for crippling debuffs; we're taking this one alive!" The captain stomps about the deck, yelling encouragement at the crew and swapping his pirate hat out for a whaling cap.

With a chorus of pirate and L33t speak, gunnery teams pull out a wide array of strange devices, aiming them in the general direction of the surviving Reaper.

"Ready?"

Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed flees more vigorously.

"Aim…"

One gunnery team hefts a massive anchor. Another pours buckets of chains into a Gatling catapult. Next to them a sphere of blinking lights and bubble wrap starts humming ominously. A gunner feeds in an endless roll of duct tape.

"Fire!"

Anchors, chains, and duct tape spray out. Spacefolding pneumatic grappling hooks arc from the prow of the techno-galleon.

Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed dives and space-time twists, curving the attacks directly onto his fleeing desperation.

With an electronic wail the Reaper is caught.

The crew cheer and start reeling in their prize.

As the pirates pull Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed close, his drifting bulk twists and shoots the ship at point blank range. 150 megatons of magnetohydrodynamic energy dissipate harmlessly against the wooden side of the ship. Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed whimpers. The blazing beam doesn't even scorch the planks.

The pirates cackle and lift an array of hand-held pointy melee weapons; hacksaws, screwdrivers, protractors. One of them is holding a pair of tweezers ominously. Doppler-shifted-Blinding-Speed wails, thrashes and heaves, trying to crawl away. But the more he struggles, the tighter the bindings wrap around his flailing limbs.

"Avast, me hearties! Secure the cargo for transport." The captain turns to the helmsman. "Set course for the lair, number one! Make it so."

The ship tows the increasingly desperate Reaper towards the system's star. Just as the Reaper begins to hope they will toss him into the star, a giant hatch opens up in the star itself and the ship pulls the despairing Reaper into their secret pirate base. Inside the star itself.

The giant door closes behind them, sealing the Reaper inside with SCIENCE.


Eden Prime

Liara and Garrus enter the ancient Prothean bunker hidden beneath Eden Prime. Sentries salute and let them pass. Turian troops cleared rubble along with asari biotics, while salarian tech specialists hack the ancient Prothean defenses and laid power lines.

They travel deeper; rows and rows of dead and broken stasis pods line the walls. Down and down they step, to the final sepulchral chamber where a platoon of armed legionaries stand guard.

Inside, a single pod flickers; the only unit with power. Garrus nods at the armed guards as they step in and stand before the last stasis pod. Garrus nods at Liara. "A live Prothean stasis pod, just for you."

Liara gestures with her omnitool, and the pod comes to life. Garrus and the guards back up as the pod begins its revival process and opens. Inside, the last living Prothean wakens.

He spasms and leaps out of the pod. He glances about, seeing the dead pods and the turians by the entry. His eyes end on Liara with her hand outstretched.

He clasps her hand and sighs. Language pours into him.

"Asari. Turians. I'm surrounded by primitives."

Garrus walked forward to join them.

Liara leans forward. "You communicate verbally. Did you gain our language when you touched me?"

The Prothean spoke, "I've read your physiology. Your nervous system. Enough to understand your language." He turned to Garrus. "For a soldier facing the Reapers, I sense more confidence than fear. You believe you are winning."

Garrus chuckles grimly. "We've not even begun to fight. Tell us more about your ability to transmit data with a touch. Your beacons do something similar as well, correct?"

The Prothean nods. "It is common among our species; imparting experience through touch. We developed technology to harness our ability. Information could be stored in certain objects through touch. Memory has its own biomarker, as do knowledge and skills."

Garrus and Liara look at each other. Liara turns back to the Prothean. "Can this …transfer be used to shape and improve people?"

He stared at her. "Among my people we fashioned avatars of many traits. Bravery. Strength, Cunning. A single exemplar for each."

Garrus nodded, "Which are you?"

The Prothean straightened. "I am Javik. The embodiment of vengeance. I am the anger of a dead people, demanding blood spilled for the blood we have lost."

Liara said, "Can you transfer power? Can one give strength to another?"

Javik paused then slowly spoke. "In our history, our greatest heroes and dictators used such techniques. These champions were reflections of the strengths of their people. We filled our champions to reach heights unattainable through singular effort."

She pressed, "What of machines? Can it be done artificially?"

He shook his head. "It's not effective. The energy needed to provide a single Prothean with the strength of ten could instead power a thousand tanks."

Garrus smiled. "What if you used a star?"


Somewhere else in the Attican Traverse

The compound was supremely defended.

Snow fell, piling in small drifts. Crisp footprints would instantly give any intruder away. Patrols using varren to sniff out intruders carefully swept in random patterns. Spotlights and an array of mechanical devices scanned the skies with unsleeping dedication. Fences. Cameras. Force fields. High vigilance.

Doctor Mordin Solus rose from an underground elevator. He hunkered down in the small elevator shack and glanced at the plethora of overlapping defense systems in the main yard. He frowned.

"No time to play stealth games. Must make this quick." He paused. Blinked. "Hmm. Idea. Bad idea. Mad idea? Maybe. But, is it mad enough?" A chuckle. "Gilbert and Sullivan isn't a bad swansong."

He cleared his throat and kicked open the doors to the main yard. "WITH CATLIKE TREAD!" He took a giant, kneeling step forward.

"Upon my prey I steal!" He boldly strode forward, directly behind a patrol.

The defenders didn't react at all.

"In silence dread," He crashed through a stack of barrels, sending them rolling across the yard with a thunder of bangs.

"My cautious way I feel!" He kicked his way through the varren kennels, shoving confused varren out of his path.

"No sound at all," He ignited his omnitool in an orange blaze started cutting a hole through the fence. A grinding wail of tearing metal shrieked out. With a crash the fence fell into pieces.

"I never speak a word." His voice rang out across the compound.

He reached the fortress's doors. "A fly's foot-fall would be distinctly heard!" He looked at the lock, then emptied a heatsink's worth of submachine gun fire into it.

It burst apart.

He slipped inside and stopped singing. He stepped into a corner, listening while reloading a heatsink. Nothing. A smile. He crept further into the fortress, now humming to himself. "Let's vary piracy with a little burglary…"

"Casey, aren't we going to do something about him?"

The other scientist in the operations center looked up from his partially assembled death weapon. "Why should we? He got past the exterior defenses fair and square."

"What are you taking about? Just by singing?"

"Andy, it's a classic sneaking song. Obviously anyone singing it is too stealthy to be caught by the defenses. Our turrets and guards aren't uncultured barbarians; even they know that."

The second scientist paused. "Hey! Are you insulting me?!"

Casey smirked, "Hah! You walked right into that one. He's earned the right to attempt the vault. All the really important stuff we're working on to save the earth is in the labs, right? If he really wants something from the vault, let him try."

"Hmm."

The two scientists worked in silence, occasionally watching the intruder head deeper into the fortress. Left. Right. The intruding salarian paused at an intersection, looked up. A helpful sign on the wall had a giant arrow pointing to the right, with the word VAULT in red.

He headed left.

Casey immediately slapped the alarm. As klaxons wailed, he grabbed an already assembled weapon from a nearby rack. "Andy! He's not heading to the vault. The only thing valuable in that direction is the break room! He's after the COFFEE."

He raced out the door. Andy dashed after him.

They skidded down the corridors, dodge rolling into the break room, ray guns set to 'frappe'.

"Freeze, Gilbert and Sullivan!"

"Yeah! Hold it right there, Pirate of Penzance!"

In one corner of the break room stands a masterpiece of brass and plasma. The coffee machine branches and swells as it reaches towards the ceiling; an imposing edifice of brewing potence. The humming efficiency of its coils pre-imposes the statement of its coffee-brewing excellence.

Beyond that technological masterpiece lies a shimmering 6-dimensionally-locked knot of space-time. Its whirling defenses do not obscure the secured contents it protects; the gleaming ur-essence of coffee beans; black like endless night. Merely seeing the Ideal Concept quickens the senses and brings the smell of freshly roasted coffee into your mind.

Ray guns pointed at the figure reaching for the coffee pot.

The wrong coffee pot; the beaten up old coffee maker in the corner across the room.

Mordin Solus quirked an eyebrow.

"Hey!" Casey yelled, "Why are you trying to steal that old hunk of junk? This coffee machine is clearly superior!"

"Yeah!" Andy chimed, "And ignoring that coffee is inconceivable! How dare you overlook our greatest work!"

Solus stared at them. "So… you are angry I'm not stealing your coffee machine? Perfect. Since you don't mind I will take this one and leave immediately. Gentlemen." Mordin Solus wraped the unplugged cord around the beaten up old device, tucked it under his arm, and turned towards the door.

Andy held up a hand. "Wait! Why do you even need that that old thing? Duplicators are one of the first things every Etherite makes. Why don't you just make your own?"

Solus blinked. "Ah. Misconception. This isn't a simple matter duplicator. It's a much more complex device. It copies things by dividing by zero."

Casey rubs his chin. "Huh, that's why it takes more quintessence compared to the dedicated duplicator."

Andy rubs his chin as well. "Well, we did get it when we took over the base. It's probably an older conceptual model and hence less optimized. Why do you want it?"

Solus glanced down at the well-used machine. "Is very good at condensing immense power. Needs to be so it can duplicate things the hard way. Normally powered with quintessence. But. Could it be set to use more mundane sources? A vast amount of a non-quintessence power source? Element zero?"

A pause. Casey and Andy glanced at each other, and shook their heads.

"No, that won't work."
"Different paradigm, won't be compatible."

Solus shrugged. "Ah well. Should at least take simple mechanical power. The rotational momentum of the galaxy should suffice."

Casey frowned. "Impossible! The size of the turbine would be the diameter of the galaxy!"

Andy nodded, "Hmm. If you anchored the intakes to the spokes instead, it could work."

The two scientists glared at each other.

Solus blinked. "Harnessing the gravitational force of a black hole?"

This time Casey nodded. "Yes! If you can build a generator in stable orbit around the black hole..."

"Bah!" Andy sneered at Casey. "That will never work! The energy influx would never equal the power spent to maintain the orbit! It's a net deficit!"

With a growl, they started strangling each other.

"You're changing the scope! The generator would work fine!"
"No! Once again you're failing to see the big picture!"

Solus coughed. "What about both? Using the rotational momentum to anchor the gravity generator from falling into the black hole?"

The two turned to stare at Mordin.

"All this is theoretical impossibilities!"
"Yeah! Who do you even think you are?"

"I am Doctor Mordin Solus. I invented the genophage. Twice." He shook his head. "Why impossible?" He pointed at both of them. "For mad scientists, you are quite pessimistic."

Casey and Andy glanced at each other.

Casey coughed, "So… what are you going to duplicate that needs that kind of power influx?"

Solus smiled. "Obtained a portable sun." He hefts the old coffee machine. "I will make more. An infinite number. And with that, infinite power."

The two Sons of Ether leaned forward, eyes gleaming. "Power to do what?"

"Will create a physical representation for the soul. An Ark of the Covenant, if you will." Solus blinked solemnly. "A still more glorious dawn awaits; not a sun rise, but a galaxy rise. A Dawn Machine. Will Awaken every living being in the galaxy. A galactic dawn to new age." He smiled. "And kill all Reapers."

Casey licked his lips. "You, ah, need a workshop or a secret base?"

Solus shook his head. "No. Already have one at the center of the galaxy. In the accretion disk of a supermassive black hole and a desert of ruined ships for parts."

Andy fell to his knees. "Can… can we come with you?"

Solus smiled. "Could use assistants. Yes."


Citadel, Presidium

Tevos groaned and massaged her head. She sat alone in her darkened office, door locked. Nothing was going right.

"Avina, status update."

The VI shimmered next to her desk. "Councilor, please state the topic you desire an update for."

Outside her office the Presidium was a ruin of its former glory. The entire salarian embassy staff had stopped showing up for work. Councilor Udina was still missing. Continuous riots and demonstrations spilled over the gardens and relaxing avenues. C-SEC couldn't handle the massed protesters, and harsh punitive measures were responded to with even greater swarms of Volus rioters wearing fuzzy hats with red stars, screaming out "Down with the *kshhhk* bourgeoisie!". Councilor Sparatus was repeatedly found drunk, sprawled in corridors and clutching a bottle of horsk.

Everything was spiraling out of control.

"Avina, what's the status on the turian reinforcement fleet to earth?"

"The turian first fleet is still queued at the Mass Relay. However, they are now getting a new error: '404. Target node unavailable. Contact your system administrator for assistance.' It then lists a Citadel address in the Presidium. Your office, to be exact."

She groaned. "Any idea why the fleet is getting this new error message?"

"Yes, Councilor Tevos." Avina nodded. "Salarian STG live streaming of the siege of earth show the Sol relay has been destroyed. No one can get to the Sol system."

She groaned again. "Of course." Her headache won't go away.

"Councilor Tevos, there is an update," Avina continued, "All Mass Relays are now signaling to contact the system administrator when used, even on successful transit. Apparently there was enough error messages piling up that a Relay-wide notice was put in place."

Tevos pinched the bridge of her nose. No wonder her office was inundated with service requests and wrong numbers.

"What else?"

The VI cocked its head. "Councilor, please restate your request."

"What else is going wrong?"

"Councilor, please restate your request."

She sighed. "How is construction on the Crucible progressing?"

"Construction work is currently indefinitely on hold. The architect guild has yet to come to agreement with the design team on paint colors. The Citadel Zoning board has yet to approve the desired plot for construction of structures larger than 1 million cubic meters. The Health and Safety Regulatory committee is still reviewing the Crucible plans to confirm they meet construction standards for corridor size and handicap access."

Councilor Tevos let out a low moan of despair and rested her head on her desk.

"When is my next meeting with the Zoning board? We should be able to proceed with construction up to 1 million without final approval."

"Your request is in the high priority queue and your appointment is scheduled in 58 days. They are denying construction until their independent audit team confirms our blueprints are safe to begin construction."

"What? Why is it taking so long? This is urgent!"

Avina nodded. "Yes, they acknowledge the urgency and have bumped your request to the top of the queue. Normal wait times for Zoning board petitions run for 600-800 solar cycles. They are working as fast as possible."

Tevos started thumping her head against the desk.

"Is there any other high priority Council business?"

"No, Councilor."

Tevos stopped and turned an eye to Avina. "There's… there's nothing else?"

"Councilor, please restate your request."

Tevos sat up and twisted to face Avina. She leaned forward. Her fingers twitched. "Is there… do I have anything else marked as high priority?"

Avina nodded. "Yes, Councilor. You have a high priority personal message recording from Aria T'Loak that came in an hour ago."

Tevos blinked. "Oh? What does the pirate queen of Omega want?"

Avina looked at Tevos. "Councilor, please restate your request."

Tevos rubbed her face. "Avina, play recorded message from Aria."

A small vid screen popped up on her desk display. Aria T'Loak's grinning face filled the screen. "Hey roomie. I'm reneging on our bet – I'm leaving Omega, but you can't have it. I'm taking Omega with me. Sorry, not sorry."

Aria pulled back from the camera, and the view zoomed out, showing Aria on the bridge of a ship. Behind her, the Omega-4 relay is constantly spun up; a large queue of geth barges, Krogan ships, a turian battle fleet and the entire quarian migrant fleet are ordered in circles around the Omega-4 relay, vanishing through it in rapid sequence.

Tevos stared. Omega itself looked like it was directly on top of the relay. Was it just positioning? She paused the recording and zoomed in on the background.

Tiny specks drift around a strange ship shaped like a crescent wrench. The ship is screwing the Relay onto the Omega mining station.

She zooms in further. The specks resolve into floating figures swarming over the relay, lab coats over space suits.

The station Omega is screwed onto the Omega-4 relay.

With a shaking hand she unpauses the recording.

"-and with the Reaper IFF Shepard sent us, we attached it to the Relay so any ship that goes through is tagged." Aria smiled. "Everyone who wants to fight is here and we're off to the human staging ground at the center of the relay." Aria glanced at her omni-tool. "About 30 minutes left. I'm going to leave a camera pointing at the relay so you can watch my ass ditching you. Gotta go, Tevvie."

A link to a camera feed appeared.

The message ended.

Tevos immediately called Aria.

"Ha! You missed! Aria T'Loak, Pirate Queen of Omega will not be available until the galaxy is saved. Don't bother leaving a message." Aria's voicemail gloated.

Tevos opened Aria's message and checked the video link, drumming her fingers as she waited for the feed to load. "Finally!" She scrubbed forward, watching the ships vanish through the relay. Near the end, she slowed the feed to real time.

The last ship vanished through the relay. Only the relay, with Omega attached to it are left, floating in space.

After a few moments of stillness, there was a flash of light, a twisting of space, and the Omega-4 relay inverts itself and disappears in a Mass Transit flash, taking Omega and the relay both to the other end of the relay.

Tevos powered up her omnitool and spun up MRC. Hopefully MRC messages could reach her. Maybe there was time to talk Aria out of her madness.

-Joining MRC-
-theBigT has connected-
-Voice-to-Text enabled-
-TheBigT has joined the private channel, *BadassBitches4evah*-

TheBigT: Aria!

OPQueen is AFK; OMW 2 SOL 4 BOSS

TheBigT: Shit. No wait stupid voice to text dammit.

-Alert: TheBigT has received a warning for language. This is your third infraction for vulgar language! Your account is now banned -


Old Collector Base, center of the galaxy

Past the Omega-4 Relay at the center of the galaxy stands the completed work of trillions of geth and quarian work-hours. Cylinders and pistons. Rings and gears. Fashioned of orichalcum, adamant, and starmetal; it quietly glows with the power of infinite suns. The Dawn Machine.

Behind it, a cascade of infinite power multiplies exponentially. A river of suns pour down, into, and through a battered coffee maker, doubling in quantity before looping around to flow back down again.

Dr. Mordin Solus looks up from his omnitool. "Loop is stable. Ready for test subject."

Javik, the sole surviving Prothean, nods at the rest of the Normandy crew overlooking their great work.

"I will go. If the process fails, my death is another step towards the defeat of the great foe. If it succeeds, then I can finally avenge my people. Thank you for letting the last voice of the Protheans speak."

He bows, turns, and enters a shuttle.

The rest of the crew watch in silence as he flies towards the shining machine. Mordin stares at the readout. "Readings stable. Beginning energy transfer." His fingers dance over the omnitool.

The Dawn Machine rumbles to life. Eclipsing the halo of suns, it radiates incandescence. Sections lift. Compress. Pressure. Heat. Space twists. Vibration that can be felt through vacuum.

Light pulls from the orbiting wheel of suns. A single point of light detaches, and descends towards the Dawn Machine. The light pours down through the single sun, focusing on the figure standing in the middle of the celestial engine. Coalescing. Sparking.

At the center of the engine, Javik stands.

And from within him, an undying light kindles. Unyielding. Enduring. Unconquered.

Exaltation.

Despite the incandescent show, Mordin remained fixed on his omnitool. "Process complete." He opened a connection. "Javik. Status? Are you still you?"

Javik's face appears in the vid screen. He nods. "I am Javik." A sunburst symbol flickers to life on his forehead. "And I am the Dawn."

"Any symptoms? Dizziness? Pain? Desire to conquer the universe?"

Javik thinks for a minute then shakes his head. "No. I still only seek the destruction of the Reapers and vengeance for my fallen people."

The Normandy crew glance at each other, and shrug.

"Good enough for me." Zaeed nodded.

"Right," Liara says, "Javik, we'll meet you on the ship. Mordin, are we ready for phase two?"

Mordin watched Javik's shuttle leave the Dawn Machine. "Safe distance reached. Switching to proximity mode. All sophonts in vicinity selected. Time to ascension pulse… eighteen minutes."

Wrex laughed. "Finally. Let's go ruin some Reapers." He heads towards the elevators, followed by the rest of the Normany crew.

Liara toggles the com system. Her voice chimes through the system. "All ships, prepare to depart for the Sol system in 20 minutes. We have our order of battle; fall into position."

She also heads to the elevators, but stops as she sees Mordin still sitting at his console.

"Mordin? Are you coming?"

"No. Will stay here and make sure things work. Someone else would get things wrong."

"What do you mean?"

Mordin stood and stepped close to Liara. "Etherites are very intelligent. But incredibly very not-wise." He murmured.

Liara frowned. "So you need to stay in case they do something dumb with the Dawn Machine? Why? Once we fire the proximity pulse, just shut everything down."

Mordin blinked. "What makes you think this is happening only once? Will keep it running. Will ascend everyone, across the universe, for all time. Pulse should hit earth about the time you arrive."

Liara looked at Mordin. "You've got it under control?"

He nods.

She nods back. "Alright. I'm going to join the rest of the crew." She hurries out.

Her voice comes over the comms again. "Seven minutes to subspace tunnel drilling."

Mordin stands alone. He stares at the Dawn Machine for a few minutes, then he turns and looks out the observation windows facing the opposite side of the station.

On the other side of the old Collector's base, the combined fleets of every available race assemble. The quarian migrant fleet. Geth super-platforms. The United Krogan Horde. Garrus' Legion. Rachni hulks. Zaeed's Blue Suns. Omega, screwed onto the Omega-4 Mass Relay.

Beyond them all, a superstructure – a vast drill – drifts, waiting to take them into combat.

Pierce the Heavens.

Watching the ships order themselves, he speaks quietly to himself. "Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death."

The Dawn Machine pulses, and everything becomes light.

Time to save the galaxy.


Omake

Several lab-coated humans walk up to Mordin. His eyes flick up at them then back down to his omnitool as he rapidly types.

They cluster around, waiting for him to stop typing. He doesn't. Mordin continues working.

An awkward cough. A clearing throat.

With a sigh, Mordin looks up, continuting to work on his omnitool. "What."

The Etherites look at him. "We have some concerns about the power looping scripts for the continuous pulsing. Shouldn't we keep routing all the suns through the doubler as it powers the Dawn Machine? Each one will give exponentially more power. Any short term gains will be immediately overtaken as we continue to multiply infinite power."

Mordin glanced around. All the Etherites were nodding in agreement.

"True."
"Mathematically correct."
"It's more efficient."

Mordin sighed. He closed down the program he was working on, and pulled up a simulation of the Divider By 0 and the portable sun flowing into it, doubling each time. He manipulated it to include the Dawn Machine in the power loop.

"Like this?"

They all nod.

Mordin points at the display. "Watch."

The simulation fast forwarded, the suns doubling upon themselves repeatedly. As the power counter grew, a warning immediately appeared. "WARNING: RESONANCE CASCADE"

Mordin stopped the power flow to the D/0, but the resonance cascade was already autonomously self-powering.

The flow of portable suns sped up, churning into a wheel of light that condensed into a single point. The view zoomed out to a map of the galaxy as the point expanded faster than the speed of light, consuming the entire galaxy, turning it into one gigantic sun.

"UN. THE SUN. THE SUN. THE SUN. THE S"

Baffled Etherites stared.

Solus nodded as he paused the simulation showing the universe becoming a single expanding point of light. "Exactly. This is the reason I am in charge. It has to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong."


AN: Casey and Andy are of course the eponymous mad scientists from the great webcomic, Casey & Andy. They're very successful mad scientists; of course they have blown themselves up, but they've never let that stop them from more SCIENCE!


AN: here's the math for why you cannot divide by zero:

given: a=b

a^2 = ab
a^2-b^2 = ab-b^2
(a+b)(a-b) = b(a-b)
(a+b) = b
a+a = a
2a = a
2 = 1

!?


AN: Javik's "And I am the Dawn" line is absolutely stolen from chapter 16 of Glorious Shotgun Princess. A better Mass Effect / Exalted xover I have yet to find.