2746- Batarian Hegemony, Adek
Ougra's shuttle picked up the remaining survivors and as they left Adek's atmosphere they were met with the invasion fleet. Her ship was not strictly batarian in origin but that did not grant it any protection. Any ship that was not apart of the Clergy was fired upon regardless of where it came from in these times of war. Thankfully the war between the batarians and the AVIDA was contained between the two races territory.
The humans found themselves surrounded by batarians. They sat tensed among them. Out of the survivors only a few roughly less than sixty had decided to risk the chance of getting of world with the batarian strangers. But now most of them gave the impression that they'd preferred staying on Adek with the invaders. What ever choice they would have preferred didn't matter now as they were on the verge of coming face to face with the warships in orbit.
The ship violently shook and a few of the humans in the cargo bay lost their footing. Jack Harper sat on the ground. Ougra's medic had stitched up his wounds and while he didn't like the idea of being approached by a batarian with a needle he held back his anxiety and allowed the batarian to examine him. He and the other humans stood beside each other most of which kept the weapons they had stolen close to them. The crew didn't try to take their weapons away and they were right not to do so. It made the humans feel protected and gave them the sense that they had the upper-hand in some way. There wasn't any incidences but the atmosphere became tenser within the cargo bay with every shake and rattle of the ship.
The frigate continued past the upper atmosphere and with a bit of maneuvering it did its best to avoid enemy fire. Then a battle cruiser dropped out of formation and followed the craft. It didn't fire immediately but when it did it struck the ship in the rear engines slowing the crafts speed. Ougra made a risky choice. She could not risk capture by the AVIDA and so she barked an order to her pilot. Her craft with the remaining energy in its other engines jumped to FTL and traveled to the nearest mass relay. Their destination, far from batarian space and deep within the unsettled half of the Attican Traverse but Arvuna was not its final destination at the moment.
The AVIDA warship that saw their departure knew of the precious cargo it held and yet it did not follow. The acolyte on board questioned its dukes reasoning. The duke was forced to make a difficult choice one that would surely result in retribution once its covenant became aware of its transgressions. Nonetheless it accepted its fate and stood by its own judgment. It felt that the safety of the thousands of humans that were still roaming Adek was more important than the few that left in the escaping craft. There was much to be done, and limited resources to spend. In a few weeks the surface of this planet was to become an irradiated wasteland the resources of the fleet was better use here than in deep space searching for a single batarian ship.
Talitha and the others found themselves in the care of a new alien species. Although new wasn't entirely the correct term. Simply humanity and the AVIDA where meeting again but this time under completely different circumstances. The AVIDA did their best to calm the many dismayed humans but it seemed their appearance did the complete opposite, much to their confusion. But eventually a few did come around, mostly out of curiosity. These were the same machines that the humans made and yet they were completely different from their simpler beginnings. They were sentient, self aware and this gained humanity's fascination. In the past sentient AI was nothing more than fantasy a backdrop to describe social issues that existed at the time but with the AVIDA standing before them they couldn't help to feel curious and a little apprehensive as well fearing that the would AVIDA's respond to them in the same way they imagined in the robot-apocalypses. The humans weren't too keen on going anywhere with the AVIDA let alone boarding their ships.
"I do not understand, why the Pantheon of Man wishes to remain here" said ItxRV-123K told Talitha.
"Well, we've had some bad interaction with aliens over the past few years" she told it.
She left out the real reason as she wasn't sure if it would offend the AI even if she was unsure if it could even feel offended in the first place. The inquisitor tilted it's head to side in mild confusion and Talitha couldn't help but wonder where it had picked up that body language from.
"We are not aliens."
She and frankly every one else were still getting used the idea that they may have unintentionally created sentient life while they were sleeping.
ItxRV-123K, Itx for short, was the inquisitor that saved Talitha's life and after a formal introduction she had decided that the safest place to be while the batarian gunmen where still about was with it. Even if she hadn't stuck with Itx she guessed it would have followed her around where ever she went as that's what the robots did when they encountered humans for the first time. It was almost cute in away like a chick following its mother hen. Itx had a strange tendency to call her goddess in fact every one of the machines that could speak did so and she thought it was another strange quick of their kind.
After she had grown accustom to Itx company and she realized that it had no intentions of harming her, she mustered up the strength to speak informally to it. Itx told her everything. How she and the human ended in batarian hands and how the AVIDA was not at war with the batarians for them. When she had first heard that she wasn't sure if it was flattering or horrifying. It was all so much to take in and she couldn't help but feel like all of this was beyond humanity's control. Itx was dropping scientific terms and words she had never heard of like mass effect, that word had appeared more than twice in their conversations and she still had no idea what it was.
" We've been asleep for 700 years" Talitha asked.
She had guessed that some time had passed, perhaps a century or two but seven. They shouldn't have been asleep for so long. The original designers of the cyrochambers only anticipated humanity's rest to last for 200 years but then again everything that had happened was unexpected. Heck even their escape plan had gone awry.
"Indeed, it was most unfortunate that your awakening was premature. If the batarians had not taken you away from us the rest of Pantheon of Man could have been awakened within the century now I fear it would be delayed even further."
Wait, hold up. Talitha thought to herself as her brain ran over the words once more. The rest of humanity was still asleep. What in the name of hell were the AVIDA doing with her people.
"There are still people asleep back home. Why haven't you awoken them yet?"
" There is still much work to be done within the covenants. We were not prepared for you. We are not worthy of The Pantheon of Man yet. You are here by our own sins we only seek retribution. Earth is not rejuvenated and Mars is inadequate however we have multiple planets suitable for you. A settlement on Eden Prime is preparing for your arrival as we speak."
Prepared, covenants no matter what it said the more confused she became. But then she thought about the other planets. The AVIDA had colonized other worlds specifically for humans. Before all of this, stepping foot on another planet was a technological feet that most scientist back home hadn't mastered yet and when she came to Adek she thought it would be the last place she'd ever see and now space travel to an alien world. She couldn't help but feel a little excited.
"Goddess Talitha, you must come with us. The Pantheon of Man does not need to sully their feet on a batarian world. Not when it is slated for destruction."
"Why do you keep calling me that" she finally asked it.
The inquisitor didn't reply at first. To her it seemed confused at her statement as if she was already suppose to know the answer.
" You are our creators, our gods. Humanity gave us life, purpose, a reason to exist. is that not the definition of a god?"
Talitha took a step backwards now feeling very uncomfortable. Glancing around she watched the other humans talking cautiously to the AVIDA.
" Please don't call me a that."
2748- Invasion of Camala and the Conflict in the Fortis System
The war continued without a foreseeable end. The AVIDA were hell bent on attacking every batarian world they could find, pushing the Hegemony further and further back towards there home-world Kar'shan. Batarian losses numbered in the millions and were steadily growing each passing day. The Clergy's tactics had little regard for the welfare of their own numbers. They'd sacrifice entire fleets if it meant they could conquer a batarian world. Word spread fast across the extranet and onlookers grew anxious. All their fears of the machine race that were previously theories twenty years ago were coming back. The AVIDA focused primarily on the batarians, but many were unsure how long that would last.
With the invasion of Camala the batarian began to feel the dire pressures of war. The streets of Camala's largest city were over came by machine units. Mobile platforms bombarded military outpost and aerial bombers blew apart settlements. From above, in the space between Camala and its moons, battle cruisers and juggernauts peeled away the defense fleet faster than it could be strengthened. The last and most profound warning that Camala would fall to the AVIDA was when the spire, dropped by carriers from space, plummeted to the surface landing in a civilian settlement scorching all life within the vicinity. On the ground the batarian military struggled to keep the upper hand but they kept fighting, holding their ground. Camala may be under AVIDA occupation but it was far from true defeat. As to how long there were batarians that could fight they'd keep fighting.
Meanwhile else where citadel space was caught clamoring about a new incident in citadel space. A fleeing fleet of batarian civilians evacuating from Anhur chased by an AVIDA juggernaut took a detour through citadel space by passing through the Minos Wasteland, a nebula primarily under Turian and Volus control. The fleeing ships found themselves in the vicinity of the 95th patrol fleet which resulted in a one on one encounter with the juggernaut and the turians. In an act of what could only be described virtuous heroism the turian fleet engaged AVIDA forces while the civilians escaped. Outnumbered the juggernaut was destroyed but not without leaving the fleet with heavy losses. This was the first time any AVIDA aggression was directed at a citadel species, a definite cause of worry for everyone else.
2748-Citadel, Council Chambers
Tevos rubbed her temples in exhaustion as she returned from another meeting from reporters of all likes interested in the Batarian-AVIDA war and the citadels stance on the subject especially with what had happened between the 95th patrol fleet in the Minos Wasteland. The nebula was at the edges of inner citadel space and was a little to close to the Athena Nebula, Thessias home cluster. The Asari Republics had hoped to remain out of the conflict with the AVIDA but if their war was spilling into citadel space, war between her people and the synthetics may be coming closer that they had hoped. Not only that the AVIDA's complete disregard for basic laws of warfare was unsettling. The majority of their weapons went against citadel law and could be seen by some as a form of unnecessary torture. Their synthetic nature simply fueled fear and a state of fear was the last thing citadel space needed right now. That's when accidents happen.
"You now what's terrible about all this" she said out loud to no one in particular.
Sparatus and Valern sat across from her. Overlooking files and reports from the incident and communicating with their respective governments. Sparatus looked up from his data-pad in mild curiosity.
"If we hadn't been so cautious with them none of this would have happened."
"Either way it wouldn't have mattered, the outcome would have been the same but I do suspect there is a lot more going on than he initially thought." replied Valern
"What do you mean?"
Sparatus had settled his data-pad on the table now that the conversation took a more interesting turn.
"Don't you find it's strange that the AVIDA had no concerns with us until just a few years ago even when they were being attacked by the Hegemony and now all of a sudden they are sprawling across the galaxy with striking resolve."
"What are you getting at Valern?"
"I've had a few theories most of which were fulled by STG's reports, I think the batarians found something of value to them at least enough for them to go to war for it?"
"I thought STG couldn't get into the heart of AVIDA territory" said Tevos.
"True, but we've managed to tap into some of their communications towers, they're transmission are encoded far beyond what we could translate at the moment, but we did manage to piece together a few bits of information."
" A prothean cache of tech perhaps" noted Sparatus
" It's possible, but I doubt it. If it was they would have focused primarily on a specific world not the entire batarian species. It doesn't make any sense."
"That is to be expected from machines they don't think like the rest us organics."
Tevos sat up in her chair now struck by what Sparatus had said.
"What if they did, think like us. Not the AVIDA particularly but the ones that created them. We may not be able to form a dialogue with the AI's but perhaps the ones that made them would be willing to help in some way. They would have the most knowledge regarding them. "
"Assuming that they haven't been exterminated by the AVIDA and even if they are still alive why haven't they revealed themselves yet."
Sparatus had heard many rumors about the AVIDA's mysterious and illusive creators but the most common and socially excepted theory was that they were extinct. Whether from the AVIDA or something else entirely was debatable.
"We could take the more unusual approach and simply talk to the AVIDA" Valern spoke out.
Sparatus and Tevos stared at Valern with disapproving looks regarding his idea as the most ridiculous thing they have ever heard.
" Machines can't be reasoned with." dismissed Sparatus.
2748 - Batarian Hegemony, Khar'shan
The leaders of the batarian government's hailing from its many nation states found themselves in a heated debate. With Camala under continued AVIDA occupation the Hegemony was going to quickly loose the war. Over dozen of batarian worlds on the fringes of the Attican Traverse and the Terminus systems were under attack simultaneously and the Hegemony were having difficulty protecting them now more so than ever. If these had been the old times back at the height of there society when they had first joined the citadel centuries ago it may have not had been so bad. Now they were found themselves relying on paid mercenaries and chip controlled slave soldiers simply to keep up. However the war may have done some indirect good. It was the first time that the nation-states of Khar'shan had stopped warring with each other to moved towards a common goal.
The batarians argued among themselves. Generals discussed battle strategies and those within the civil districts argued how they were suppose to get their citizens out of harms way.
"The Exallos variant is losing its potency" said one of the generals.
It was indeed true. No matter how quickly they updated the code with each version of the Exallos the code lost it's potency to the point that it was simply a minor annoyance for the AVIDA. However the AVIDA attacks on there systems were devastating, often leaving shut downs in communications between the military and the planet it was trying to defend. If the batarians had done such extensive research into the AVIDA over the past few years when they first began fighting with them there entire network would be done right now.
"Hit and runs on there comm-towers have only slowed them down, their forcing us into a defensive position he can't possibly hold for long. If we are going to win this we need to retake Camala" the batarian spoke to the crowd.
The batarians here were at the top of their society. They had control of almost everything, but how much power they had within the Hegemony didn't matter right now. Any past transgression they had with each other were pushed aside as none of that would matter if they were all dead.
Gaim, the batarian who was perhaps the sole reason behind his people's problems at the moment entered the room. He was no longer the lowly captain of a military fleet he had been promoted. He was still apart of the military but he was not a general. Gaim was the Hegemony's expert on the AVIDA having multiple successful battles in their pre-war movements against their kind. He was silently worried. Not because he was with the most powerful members of his race but because he knew something they did not. Something that neither he nor the slave-lords were willing to reveal at the moment. It's not that he was ashamed of what he did to the humans no he didn't feel sorry for that. Instead it was the number of batarian deaths that he had inadvertently caused and the fact that he could be the sole reason of his race's extinction that bothered him. Gaim couldn't tell what he knew, he was worried about his own life at the moment and besides it was too late to change anything anyway.
"The AVIDA, direct most of their war efforts from a central dreadnought" He said steadily " It's where they keep their command AI. That's why no matter how many of their networks we destroy they are still able to stay organized. As to where they keep the dreadnought, I suspect they keep them hidden within a nebula not to far from their main battle fleet. We need only to find it before they relocate the ship and destroy it and their activity in the Kites Nest will become disorganized. It could give us the upper-hand again."
The generals thought about his idea and agreed that it was their best option. They relayed Gaim's insight to those below them and they set to work locating the ship.
2748- AVIDA Clergy, Io
While the batarians where trying to return the battle to the offense the factories of Io were at work under the command of the NulQZ-B29Q. There its covenant began construction on a weapon, the devise that was going to insure the AVIDAs victory over the batarians once and forever as drafted by RevCV-G32A. In NulQZ-B29Q mind it was a marvelous device that was a testament to both the Clergy's power and the will of the Pantheon of Man. The device was the size of a large island and was in the shape of a mountain. It in a few months it would be deployed on Adek for a test drive. If NulQZ-B29Q had true emotions it reasoned it would feel pleased with what it had created but sadly that was beyond it and the AVIDA's ability to experience. They could only fake it, pretend that they did. Emotion was an idea that eluded their understanding. For humans emotion littered every aspect of their society and so the AVIDA sought to emulate in anyway they can. Lacking the biology and evolutionary history to understand emotion they could only think emotion instead.
It brought its thoughts towards the small human population on Adek. They're evacuation from the planet was going much slower than it hoped. It did not understand their reluctance and stray thought crossed its mind to force the duke to remove the humans from Adek but then it thought it should feel ashamed by the idea. Such a thought should not have even occurred to it. It checked itself again seeking out errors within its own mind. The humans were to take as long they needed. They were slowly returning to the AVIDA space and it hoped the expanse of homes that it created for them was to their liking and that they'd would be pleased by their progress.
Codex: AVIDA pt 2
Laser Cutters: A hand held mining-tool turned weapon. A long wedge like blades tipped with laser emitter. Comes in two forms single and double bladed. The AVIDA do not utilize omni-blades as they have a limited range of uses as the laser cutter can also function as a cutting torch which are useful for breaking though metallic doors and single unit repairs.
Spires: A large tower that is dropped from space and used in chemical warfare. The device manipulates the chemical composition of an atmosphere to produce a cocktail of different gases that the Clergy uses to suffocate or kill their enemies. It has its roots in AVIDA atmospheric reconstruction technology.
Mother-ship: Also known as the central dreadnought is a massive dreadnought class ship t that outsizes even the destiny Ascension. But despite its title it is not used as such. Instead the ship is used as a sort of home away from home were ship repairs are done on sight. The ship was drafted from an earlier design of a deep space exploration vessels. Before first contact the AVIDA used these ships to carry large equipment.
Comm-tower: Short for communications tower. These structures are used to spread AVIDA communication networks across space. They are found on dreadnoughts, planets and even docked in planetary orbit. Separating them are comm-buoys. These towers are overseen by duke appointed acolytes.
Mobile Platform: Simply put, a tank with legs. A large bipedal mech with a large cannon docked on its back. The design was borrowed from human science fiction.
Batarian Hegemony Codex : Extension
Slave-lords: The rulers of the Batarian slave rings. They have power and a presence within the Hegemony almost on par with the nation-states's leaders. Getting on the good side of a batarian Slave-lord is the quickest way of success in the Hegemony and the opposite is just as true in all aspects.
Exallos: A batarian weapon created from AVIDA code with the help of Synthetic Insights. It limits AVIDA cognitive function by copying their evolving nature.
Har'chomchor: A batarian terrorist group that seeks reform of the Hegemony's government. They are made up of freed-slaves, ex-military soldiers, spies and batarians that were at odds with their society. They are known for multiple attempts of assassination, civilian discord and terror attacks on their government. They are a secretive group and there main outpost is situated of world far from Kar'shan.
A/N : I'm currently looking for a Beta-Reader for Cold Storage if anyone is interested PM me. You get the read the chapters before they come out and I'll most likely use you as an idea bouncer so if one of you guys do decide to become a Beta-Reader for Cold Storage I might give away spoilers and the such.