Normal Text is the Blacklight Majority
While Italics is the Blacklight Minority
Italics and Bold is the Rachni
And Bold is the Thorian
Chapter 50 - Liara Croft
Xen sat still as she listened to the various things Blacklight told the admiralty board. Unfortunately no one wanted the sentient space virus aboard the ship for obvious reasons, and the giant monster ship flying outside, while it could communicate with radio, they were strictly stuck with auditory communication. Apparently visuals were just something that continued to elude them. Normally that wouldn't be a bad thing, but Xen found that the lack of visual stimulus caused her brain to wander.
She began to wonder if she left any programs on at her lab, she hoped not. Last time that happened her personal VI assistant exploded, leaving her with her newest living organic assistant.
She however got the gist of what Blacklight was saying. An insane Salarian nutcase made a weird evil radioactive bio-experiment monster thingy that was currently flying around the cosmos in a badly damaged ship probably getting ready to eat a planet or two and spread the worst cases of the space flu in history, or something like that.
Really, considering Blacklight was technically viral space cancer, she found it hard to be all that impressed about the new Radioactive Black-lite edition. She focused on the voice coming from the speaker, because at the moment she was sure someone noticed she wasn't paying attention.
'…Taking everything into consideration, it would be most unwise for you to follow after them.'
"Assuming what you say is true, what exactly was the point of making those things?" asked Han.
Xen guessed boredom and just the right amount of insanity.
'We're not entirely sure on Saleon's goals, though based on what we do know, we suppose he was motivated by possible biological immortality or a form of Blacklight he could control.'
So insanity then thought Xen as she nodded to herself.
"Alright, we will leave this issue be. We will not pursue the damaged ship. Any objections?" asked Zaal.
No one said anything; Xen figured they were smart enough not to get in the way of the immortal space virus that eats people.
'We appreciate your understanding.'
"There is one thing however," Said Han.
Han stood up looking around the room at the other admirals. Xen sat up a bit straighter, if only to look like she was taking the possible sapient gun in a Quarian enviro-suit seriously.
"Knowing that this… thing is out there, we can't just not do anything. I'm not saying we should follow after it, but if it escapes, there is no telling what damage it could do. We may not be capable of fighting it, but we need to do something about this creature. It sounds far too dangerous to leave in any one species hands, even if that species is you."
The radio remained silent for a moment, before the sound of static came from the speakers. Blacklight's voice clearly coming through, but there was a strange tone to it.
'Do you believe we are incapable?'
Han apparently did not notice the shift in tone.
"No I do not. That said, barring your continued trade of medigel, Blacklight and Quarian relations is near non-existent. The last I heard, your kind nearly destroyed the Citadel. There are many theories as to why you seemingly went rampant, but nothing concrete that does not inspire much confidence in your capabilities."
'The incident on the citadel was due to unforeseen circumstances. We are surprised you are unaware, we released the information to a broker on the citadel, we assumed that by now it would be better known.'
"We don't communicate with anyone on the Citadel very much, let alone any information brokers. Intelligence is a powerful tool, but to be honest, we are seldom willing to trade what we know for whatever the other races know. It's not like we go through Citadel Space very often to make use of that information anyway." Said Rael.
'We understand, though we are still surprised. Regardless, there is another force at play that is soon to become a galactic level threat. So long as Saleon's Children roam the stars, they take away any time we have to prepare for the coming of a synthetic species we know as the Reapers.'
Xen found that name needlessly edgy.
"My point still stands. Whatever these Reapers are, if they apparently cause you to go rampant, there is no telling what this new modified Blacklight organism is capable of," Said Han.
'We… can see what you mean, even if your reasons are different than our own. We do require help, but we already have it.'
"Good for you, then you could use more help." Said Han.
"Why exactly are you pushing this Han? We haven't really come into contact with this… Saleon's Children, all we saw was a badly damaged ship. This isn't really any of our business," asked Zaal.
"I am tired of our species being treated either like vagabonds or children. One past mistake, and suddenly we are the pariahs amongst the stars.'
'Perhaps, there is something you could do. Our access to much of the galaxy is at the moment limited. You could be our eyes and ears in areas we cannot travel.'
"You mean the ones on Pilgrimage?"
'Them as well. Quarian Pilgrims exist all amongst the stars, they see things we cannot. Perhaps, for now at least, you can provide us with information we currently lack. It isn't much, but it is something.'
"I suppose, it's a start.", said Han.
Xen meanwhile, wondered just what Han had gotten them into.
Morinth tapped her finger on her chin as she looked over the myriad of maps and lists she had personally penned with her own hands. They looked over everything, twice just to be sure, only to come up with the same problem over and over again. There was nothing, no secret cache of information, or at least none they found.
Morinth however believed that there must have been something they missed, she turned to her mother.
"Maybe we should look at the Athame museum again. You know, just to be sure."
"Morinth, you need to stop this fool's errand, there is no hidden cache of prothean knowledge, and if there is we won't find it in a museum."
"No, it is real, I can feel it. I thought it was bullshit too, but now, I don't know what it is, but I can see where Blacklight was coming from. Asari have no steady level or progression, every time, EVERY single time a Salarian came up with a new theory or a new machine, every time the Turians come up with a more advanced war machine, the asari always come out with something just like it, only better. They have to know something, once is a coincidence, but every time something new came around, the asari figure out how it works, and we make it better. Makes sense, anything the other species come up with is a prototype, it has bugs, ours never do, almost like they had the bugs ironed out. Every time another race comes up with something to push them ahead, Asari somehow get back in the race in months, sometimes even weeks."
"Then why hide it in a museum?"
"Just a thought, museums are usually equipped to handle and maintain old shit, and if it is Prothean, well who better to know about it than historians."
Samara looked to Morinth, who got to her feet and began pacing around the room.
"We just aren't looking at this the right way."
Samara took a breath.
"I admit the chances of that happening do seem slim, but we are asari, it has always been like this. Our people are a brilliant one, perhaps it is just how we are. We have always been great."
"You have way too much faith in the asari."
Samara's eyes actually widened.
"The way you talk, it's like you think the asari are better than any other ace, of course they have to be better, and your code glorifies asari. Our ways are superior, our people grand, and all that bullshit. They have to be, we made the code, the immutable code that hasn't changed in thousands upon thousands of years. Fact is we're no better than any other race, tiny specs standing on another tiny spec amongst a sea of specs. We're not infallible, if we were, we'd probably be a lot more humble and there wouldn't be Ardat-Yakshi."
"Very nihilistic of you."
"Call it what you want, but I know I'm right. There is a secret keeping us ahead of the game. Either tech from the Protheans, or… maybe the Reapers."
Samara looked to her daughter.
"Fine, we can look again, but we are going at this the wrong way. Let's assume it is a prothean chache, not a Reapers one."
"It could be." Said Morinth.
"If it was, wouldn't those who know be indoctrinated? I see no signs. Not based on what we… what Blacklight knows about indoctrination."
"Point taken, alright… Probably not Reaper tech, so we can agree that if it does exist, it's probably Prothean right?"
"Well then, sounds to me like we need an expert on Protheans. It might help."
"I do not know any experts on Protheans , none that wouldn't be in on the secret anyway."
Morinth tapped her finger to her chin before she smiled.
"I'm going to make a call."
"To the only person who might know enough people to point us in the right direction."
"Blacklight of course."
Every relay use was always monitored vigilantly. Every ship hat went through was catalogued, every minute detail was logged, appraised, and recorded. Deep beyond the Omega-4 relay, the Collectors who remained under the Reapers chains noticed something unusual passing through several Relays in quick succession. Something highly radioactive.
They began to investigate.
Morinth looked at her post. Hopefully, if there was any one watching, they would get the message out. Samara, looked over the short message, before reading it out loud.
"Succubus here, need to talk to the gang…. What is a succubus?"
"Human sex demon thingy, the meaning should be clear. They know what that means. I mean until right now, the word Succubus never existed on all the extranet, it is unique to humans so it should catch their attention and we I can find a way to contact them, ask for help."
"Right, Ok, so you're asking for Blacklight to call you on a random extranet post? Is this serious?"
"You have my memories, but you aren't as accustomed to them as I am. I know a few things about Blacklight, like their allies. The Geth, I'm hoping they see this message and get it."
Smamara nodded, before what Morinth said sunk in.
"Blacklight is allies with the Geth!"
Samara blinked, before shaking her head.
"I don't know how to react to that."
"Sounds good, anyway, the Geth are big on collecting info, even if it seems useless, I remember there was one called Legion. That's from the bible, by the way. If I know the Geth, and I don't, they are a robot race who like knowing things. A bunch of nerds, they might have asked where the Legion name came from, and if they did they'd be told about old human religion and the bible, and would learn about demons and bible stuff, so they might know what a Succubus is. They would probably bring up a human word turning up on the Extranet, and if they do, then Blacklight will know I'm asking for help, and from there, we can ask about any Pothean experts they might know about."
"This seems like a lot of trouble for something that is not only not guaranteed to work, but to contact Blacklight, who might not even know about a Prothean expert."
"True, but if I can tell them we found nothing, I can go back to Omega."
Morinth nodded as Samara hummed to herself.
"Tell me Morinth, now that you know of the Reapers intimately, what will you do after this? Will you continue to help Blacklight, or would you go off on your own, and prepare to survive?"
Morinth glanced at her mother. Eyes focused on each other. Morinth knew this was a test, one that if Morinth answered wrong, would probably convince Samara to end her here and now. To see if she had really changed.
Morinth told the truth.
"I'll probably help where I can."
Samara crossed her arms, examining her daughter, searching for lies in her voice, for deception in her face. She found none. Samara only nodded.
Morinth looked over her message once more, before hitting the send option.
"Now we wait."
"I'm still not sure this will work."
"They're a hive mind, they are really good at splitting their attention."
'We can't split our attention like this anymore.'
Neural axons and dendrites within the vast neural network of Blacklights synaptic systems fired as Blacklight experienced something that was once relatively rare for them, now was all too common. Blacklight was experiencing cognitive dissonance. Granted, back then such a thing was not unheard of amongst the many. After all, the minority and majority ideas of Blacklight were born of cognitive dissonance, however it was becoming increasingly frequent.
In this case however, it was not just Blacklight thinking contradictorily amongst themselves; no, it was also their additions that brought this on. The Rachni and the Thorian.
Of course, this entire event was brought on by one single issue. They lost Saleon's Children.
'The Blacklight minority makes a valid point; you must see that your attention is in danger of spreading thin. The escape of Saleons abominations is proof of that.'
'We know what we are doing. We'll find them.'
'Between your multitude of plans and schemes against the Reapers, your various attempts at changing the ways of Vorcha and Batarians, and now these Children of Saleon, your attention is being divided amongst many tasks at once. Do not misinterpret what I am saying, you are more than capable of handling this, and much, much more, however with your focus divided as it is, it is only a matter of time before something seemingly benign that slipped your mind turns out to be so much more.'
'Yours was once a singular conscious Thorian, what you know of the many minds of a collective is something you know only dimly and only since you became a part of it.'
'I am merely voicing my concerns. I admit I am not as knowledgeable as to the methods of a Hive, but I have in the past divided my attention amongst many tasks. I always miss something that I should have seen.'
'We did miss the resurgence of the Cure, it wasn't until we invaded Virmire that we were even aware they returned, and now the Reapers have an army of behemoth sized cyborg Krogan hybrid monsters. In hindsight, a resurgence of the Cure, or a group like it should have been taken much more seriously.'
'We must focus. Less we all cease from the threat we did not see coming.'
'The Reapers are coming, but at the moment we know far too little of the capabilities of these creations of the mad Salarian. As they live they take attention away from the Reapers. Alternatively, if we focus on the Reapers, they may grow unchecked and become yet another thing to worry about. We are left with little choice. We must destroy them while they are limited, but what would you have us do? Recall every scrap of biomass to deal with Saleons Children?'
'I am merely suggestion that we recognize we have limits, and act accordingly.'
'Your worries are noted, but ultimately we will continue on course.'
'Very well, though do know I am accepting this under protest.'
For the mere six femtoseconds that Blacklight, the Rachni, and the Thorian conversation lasted, Blacklights allies, the Geth, were as always, screening and analyzing every scrap of information they were capable of processing. It was routine for them to analyze the extranet in their insatiable thirst for understanding the thought processes of organic beings. During these billions upon billions of simultaneous analysis's, the Geth found an anomaly.
A singular word that should not exist without Blacklight involvement.
The word Succubus. While the idea of a succubus existed culturally amongst many species both within and outside of citadel space, the word succubus was unique to humanity. Consensus was drawn, and within a further 2 femtoseconds, it was nigh unanimously agreed to bring this information to Blacklight.
Morinth blinked as almost immediately, she got back a reply.
"Well, that was quick." She said before turning with a small smirk towards her mother.
"What was that about this not working?"
Samara merely looked at the reply.
"A public message is probably not the best way to go about this."
"Eh, we'll probably just PM." Said Morinth as she began composing said message.
"Ran into a snag. Need a bit of help. Was thinking Prothean expert to consult with… and send."
"Don't you find that vague."
"This is a Hive Mind we're talking about, they'll figure it out or… well they could ask for details, but I highly doubt they will…"
Morinth blinked as the new message. Samara stood up a bit straighter.
"Apparently they want details."
Morinth glared at her mother.
"Shut up. Alright, can't find thingy. Narrowed it down, could use help on where Protheans might hide stuff… Send."
Morinth, to preserve her slowly dwindling dignity, crossed her arms and waited.
'A Prothean expert? How curious.'
'We have enough on our plate with Saleon's Children, we'll just send her contact information. We know the most qualified expert that can help Morinth so we can get back on track.'
'Yeah, we're on it.'
'We'll begin exploration. Saleon's Children must be our top priority.'
'On that at least, we can agree.'
Morinth didn't have to wait very long. After only a moment, a new message came, containing the contact information of what Morinth guessed was either an expert on Protheans, or Blacklight. Though reading it, she guessed that anyone with the family name T'soni was probably Asari.
Liara looked at the Ruins around her. Prothean architecture truly was fascinating, or at least Liara thought so. Shaking her head of that she looked to the newest area that had been uncovered.
"I think it's an old Prothean lab of some kind," said the Salarian next to her. Lugin, Liara remembered his name was. Liara found him to be a good guy, but bless his heart he had few issues, namely that while he was smart, he wasn't Salarian smart, despite being a Salarian. Case and point, stating the obvious.
Liara didn't comment on it, she just looked at the newly excavated site.
The remaining machinery was damaged beyond repair, though it wasn't hard to see what this was for. Though there were a few pests in the area.
"Pyjacks, why'd it have to be Pyjacks?" asked the archeologist.
Throwing her hand forward, Liara's skin began to shimmer with a Biotic aura as her Biotic Whip snapped out, scaring a few Pyjacks that seemed to occupy every ruin ever discovered ever.
Once the Creatures ran off she pulled on the brim of her hat as she took her first steps.
Unknowingly, behind her, a certain Evolved by the name of Conrad Verner was giggling to himself. Liara looked to the resident Blacklight. She adjusted her fedora with a raised brow.
"And what exactly are you laughing at?"
"Nothing, just an inside joke."
Liara examined Conrad for a moment, before nodding and continuing onward into the ruins. She raised her hand, stopping the others from continuing forward. Her eyes scanned the area around her. Something about this felt off.
"Something's wrong here, I can feel it."
She looked to Conrad, with a wicked smile on her face.
"Conrad, can you come here for a second."
Conrad, only mildly suspicious, walked forward with the same childlike wonderment plastered on his face as always. Eagerly, he moved to Liara.
"Yes Miss T'soni, is there something I can do to help?"
Liara took a tentative step forward, before pointing deeper into the ruins.
"I just need you to take about three steps that way."
The Evolved found her voice oddly comforting, only, there was an edge to it that was just a bit off. He examined the area he and the billions he shared minds with as they came upon… Immediately Conrad stopped thinking about it.
Life was an adventure after all, and worrying about the future was entirely pointless considering his lifespan was most likely going to be measured in more digits than the current age of the universe, so he decided to go along with it. After all, Liara was a professional. She wouldn't put any of her employees in harm's way. And what was the worst that could happen anyway.
Like the puppy many within Blacklight believed he was descended from, Conrad happily took three steps forward. He stopped after the third and final step.
Liara put her hand to her chin, before nodding.
"Just a little to the left. My left that is."
"No problem ma'am."
Lara smiled at Conrad, right before her hand pressed a console on the wall she was standing near.
Almost immediately, Conrad Verner found himself floating freely in the air, surrounded by a field of energy. Liara, who was examining the filed only nodded.
"Yep, just as I thought. It's a Barrier Curtain. Got to hand it to the Protheans, they built to last."
"Umm, can someone get me down from here? I don't like being stuck in this bubble, and I can't move… Or stretch for some reason." asked Conrad as he somehow found himself upside down within the barrier.
"Eventually Conrad, eventually. If I recall Blacklight can go indefinitely without food if they remain motionless. Consider this a lesson Conrad, I don't appreciate being laughed at."
Liara nodded before turning back to the others in her group.
"Enough gawking, everyone back to work."
Immediately everyone scrambled to get back to their posts. Liara tilted the brim of her hat downwards as she took a deep breath, before turning to Conrad.
"And don't call me Ma'am. I'm a doctor."
Conrad only nodded.
It was at this time that Conrad received a large amount of information from the hive.
"Ummm, Miss T'soni. I don't want to be a bother or anything, but you're about to receive a call."
"About to what?" asked Liara as her Omnitool went off. She glanced at it before looking back to Conrad.
"How… Nevermind." Said Liara as she answered.
A small holographic screen popped up before her, displaying two Asari staring back at her. Her eyes narrowed as she took a hesitant glance at Conrad.
"I don't think I could go anywhere if I wanted to."
Liara ignored him before giving her full attention to the screen.
"This is Doctor T'soni, and this better be good."