Chapter 56 – The Gathering
Jath'Amon honestly had no idea what to do in this situation. The Fleet that had appeared from the relay was closing in, and the message they gave was clear enough. However everything he knew was screaming at him that this was wrong.
The Batarian race had a good enough relationship with Blacklight. Barring the planet Shanxi, Blacklight had never requested any other garden worlds before the incident on the Citadel. Their trades have been going on for three years now, Batarians getting Eezo and Blacklight getting genetic samples. Much of that Eezo was put to use immediately to build more and more ships, many of which were now flying over Khar'shan at this very moment, waiting for orders.
Immediately after leaving the relay, Blacklight had claimed they were there to help. However it wasn't Blacklight that made Jath'Amon consider firing upon their fleet.
It was the Rachni and the Geth.
Footage still existed of the horrid days of the Rachni war, and Jath'Amon had seen much of it.
Soldiers being torn apart, cities crumbling, and a whole armada falling to those familiar ships amongst Blacklight. It was actually terrifying how well the Rachni ships fit in amongst the Blacklight bioships. If Jath'Amon didn't know what those ships looked like, he would have assumed they were just new bioship variants.
Then there were the ships that did not fit among the fleet, ones whose design aesthetic was decidedly mechanical.
The Geth ships were unmistakable. The stigma against AI had existed long in Batarian culture, even before they came into contact with the Citadel. There was a gut reaction in Jath'Amon to order the ships shot down, but the there was a lot of cognitive dissonance going on in his mind.
While the fleet of Blacklight, Geth, and Rachni was one thing, the events down below on his home planet were something else. First the tsunami, then the search and rescue, now the dead are literally rising to slaughter the living.
This was far too much for Jath'Amon to deal with and he found himself borderline hysterical. The only thing holding himself together was the knowledge that his decision right now could decide the fate of his home and his people.
He listened to Blacklight's message one last time.
"We are here to fight the Husks, the creatures that are attacking you. We have Geth and Rachni with us. We are Blacklight. Do we have permission to land on Khar'Shan? We only want to help. We will aid in evacuation. We know who is to blame. Contact Barla Von on the Citadel. He is a Volus financial advisor and information broker. Ask for information on the Reapers. They are to blame for the attack on Khar'Shan."
Jath'Amon looked to his assistants, both waiting for orders, and both obviously just as hysterical as him, but they kept their composure.
"Let them land. We can use their aid in this endeavor," said Jath'Amon pointing to one of his assistants, who immediately went off to follow those orders.
Jath pointed to another.
"Find this Barla Von, do as Blacklight says. However inform everyone to be cautious. Make sure the soldiers are watching Blacklight, Geth, and the Rachni. Any sign of deception is to be taken as absolute evidence."
As his other assistant left, Jath'Amon promptly broke down.
Balak slammed the butt of his rifle into the face of the cybernetic Salarian creature. He could hear the skull crack and metal creak and bend as he brought his arm back down to fire several shots into the Husk's chest. Immediately he slammed another thermal clip into his rifle as he proceeded to mow down the Husks.
Balak watched as a dozen of the Husks began to group themselves and press themselves together. His eyes widened significantly as their flesh began melting together into a large four-limbed shape. More and more husks joined together, their merging flesh quickly seemed to knit together across the Husks skin.
Soon the merge was complete and a single Praetorian roared before it took to the sky.
Balak had already been shooting it long before it fully merged when a strange shadow passed in the distance, barely visible in the distance, but as time went on it became clear what they were.
The wasp like shape of the hull and the uniform color around it gave Balak pause.
They were Geth Ships.
Lights fired from their sides as Geth Hoppers leapt from the ships, firing upon the Husks with beams of emerald light that shot from their singular eyes. The crawling and leaping Geth Hoppers began to quickly engage Husks as a squadron of Geth Armatures fell from the ships above. Immediately they took aim and fired upon the Praetorian, who was torn apart into scrap and gore.
Joining the Geth were the feline Hunters, who clawed on the buildings walls, gracefully scaling them before leaping down into the swarms of Husks to maul them with sabre like fangs and whip like tails.
Blacklight Juggernauts ran through the husks, throwing them out of the way and tearing through the husks with ease as storms of arcing bio-electricity fired from their skin. Blacklight Evolved landed in packs around Balak.
Balak barely had enough time to realize that they weren't attacking any Batarians when he turned to see a giant claw impaling straight through a Banshee not too far from him. Said claw was attached to the arms of what was unmistakably a Rachni Soldier. Only these Rachni appeared to be wearing armor that looked eerily similar to the armor that many of the Evolved wore.
Balak watched as thousands upon thousands of these Rachni swarmed the city, fighting in astounding sync with the Blacklight Evolved. Amongst the numbers of the most unexpected reinforcements Balak had ever seen in his life were Evolved of a different sort. Most of the strange Evolved looked humanoid, but they were green, covered in small vines and leaves. Balak watched as a massive plant creatures, best described as rampaging trees stomped upon massive stalks as they swung their massive log like arms into a group of Husks.
Slithering around the battlefield was what appeared to be a massive bush, with giant leaves that formed into carnivorous mouths that closed on the head of a Marauder Husk. The plant thing shot out long vines from its extremities and tendrils quickly snatched Husks up and tore them apart.
Balak had barely enough time to register everything he was seeing when an Evolved landed right next to him.
Reflexively Balak brought his gun up when he saw the Evolved hit the ground, but he did not squeeze the trigger, pausing just long enough to realize that this Evolved wasn't a threat.
"We'll handle the husks, prepare everyone for a mass evacuation."
Balak blinked before he fully registered the words.
"Where is the evac zone?"
"Borman Park. We'll clear the way, get any survivors there as soon as possible."
Balak nodded as the Evolve joined amongst the fight. He turned around to see his equally perplexed squad who snapped back to reality as Balak turned.
"We're on Evac, get everyone to Borman Park, protect the survivors," said Balak before running towards the nearest group of civilians he could see. His squad followed suit.
He still had absolutely no idea what was going on, but at least he had direction, which was much more than he had before.
Footage from the devastation of Khar'Shan had been pouring into the Citadel News for weeks now. The councilors had already seen the Husks as they had been dubbed in the various footage that had covertly made its way back to them. Tough having the Civilians know of the existence of such nightmarish abominations was something else entirely.
To think it had stated so much differently.
Initially the Councilors, and even the various races began the process to send some aid to the Batarians, but that was before Valern had heard whispers from the STG that the Batarians blamed the Council for their Plight. Upon hearing that message, Tevos at least hoped that some aid after the disaster could prevent any possible war that very much could take place after such an event.
Of course nothing that could be completely confirmed, most info coming from Batarian space was few and far between as it was, and it was difficult to collect reliable intelligence from them, but the Councilors choose to proceed with caution and subtly prepare for possible war, even as they continued to make a political show of them gathering aid.
However just as it seemed thinks were progressing on more peaceful levels, new information of an invasion of Khar'Shan was learned about. However it wasn't from spies, but from the few brief glimpses of footage that was uploaded to the Extranet. The footage had shown various cybernetic monstrosities. Many of which the Council knew all to well. It brought up some suspicious.
"Those are the same creatures from the footage Aria gave us," said Tevos blankly.
She still remembered the nightmarish imagery of modified Asari that still to this day haunted her nightmares. Though the only signs that it affected her as it did was a mild sweat to her palms.
Sparatus nodded in response. The old war dog also had recalled the footage. He was capable of keeping some level of outward composure. Though even his pupils were somewhat dilated.
Valern however had only just seen the footage, only recently assuming his council seat. This was all still very new to him. He was still skeptical that there was such a thing as Reapers, But seeing those horrid cybernetic corpses, he found himself conflicted
"I think that it may be possible all the footage of these… Husks might have been covertly given by Blacklight itself," said Valern out loud. If only to stop the dreadful silence of the room from becoming unbearable.
Sparatus again nodded as Valern's mind continued to wander. More footage of fusing abominations played again and again as he allowed the information to stew in his mind. His thoughts a mile a minute as he took in everything he ever learned. The Reapers, the Husks… He began asking himself questions, one of which he unconsciously voiced.
"We don't know that for sure." said Valern lowly to himself, but Sparatus caught it.
"What is it we don't know for sure Valern?"
Valern blinked, he did not mean to say that, but seeing as it was out in the open, he supposed voicing his thoughts could allow for some useful feedback, if only to see both what his colleagues would say and how they would react.
"I can't believe such things exist. The Reapers that is, but between not believing they exist, and believing it. I don't know."
Sparatus waved him off.
"I can only speak for myself, but I try not to think about it. I still am not entirely convinced they are real."
"But what if they are?" asked Valern.
"That… is why I try not to think about it." said Sparatus ominously.
The tone is Sparatus voice was one Tevos was unfamiliar with hearing, but it was his words that caused her to speak.
"We do not have the luxury to ignore such a possibility. Especially given our positions." said Tevos.
"All we know for sure is that the dead have arisen as cybernetic monsters. However, even you must admit that, to quote Blacklight 'Giant Robotic Squid Gods' does not seem so absurd when compared to this." said Valern as he motioned to the footage of a Batarian Husk literally tearing an innocent civilian apart to devour the pieces.
Sparatus choose not to comment.
Tevos once again watched the footage that was even now being assembled from various uploaded videos. More videos were uploaded every hour, all showing not only the monsters, but the ruin they caused.
It was at this point that their Omni-tools went off.
Tevos looked to hers as she saw the face of her aid.
"Ma'am, We just received a message. But, well. It's from Blacklight."
"Blacklight…. What is the Message?"
"They… are asking for permission to enter Citadel Space to drop off refugees from Khar'Shan."
"What!?" barked Sparatus.
Immediately, both Sparatu's and Valern's omni-tools went off nearly at the same time. They read the same message, along with some further details.
"Well, it seems we're not the only ones, Various planets are receiving the same message. They say they are going to evacuate Khar'Shan. All of Khar'Shan." said Valern.
"That is impossible. Khar'Shan is a homeworld. Their population is massive."
"It wouldn't be the first time in history that a homeworld was evacuated. The Quarians had their mass evacuation when the Geth first awakened. Besides with the galactic punching bag Khar'Shan has become as of late, what with the meteor strike, subsequent tsunami, and now armies of Husks. It is possible the population might have been diminished enough that it might actually be feasible." said Valern.
Both Sparatus and Tevos had to stare at Valern for his poor choice of words.
"Tactfully put Valern." said Tevos.
Valern didn't even have the decency to be embarrassed.
"Either way the Citadel can only hold so much. A flood of refugees is not what we need right now, especially not after the Rampancy incident with Blacklight. Those wounds are still fresh on the minds of the people here, and a fleet of bioships dropping by to drop off the least liked aliens in the Galaxy here… It could cause pandemonium."
"You...do have a point Valern, but the Batarians are still an associate member. We are obligated to help them, in spite of however you or anyone else may feel towards them. The reactions of the public is just a risk we'll have to take."
"And just what is it you suggest we do?" asked Valern curiously.
Tevos thought about it for only a few moments, before her Altruistic side won over and she voiced her idea.
"I vote to lift the ban on Blacklight coming into Citadel Space and accept at least some refugees. This is not Batarians fleeing from something as mundane as a war, this huskification is an abominable fate I would not wish on anyone. Not even my worst enemy." said Tevos.
Sparatus had a knee jerk reaction to denying that idea, but before he could say so, a possibility came to his mind.
"If the rumors of the Batarians blaming us for their plight is true, then accepting refugees may be a way to prevent any future war with them." said Sparatus.
Valern, who really did not care one way or the other, had quickly conceded, and The council sent their message back to Blacklight.
The amalgam of ships and flesh slammed through the docks, throwing debris in every direction. Before the ship fully stopped, beasts jumped down from the bow. Their claws sunk into concrete as they hit the ground, stabilizing themselves before they began walking into the city.
Civilians watched as the beasts, resembling jets on legs, roared. Their face which seemed to be composed mostly of knives and fleshy flaps opened as they fired particle beams at the buildings. Others would snatch up civilians and swallow them whole before they broke into a sprint.
Behind the bipedal walkers hovering tanks hit the ground and immediately sped up. Their turrets firing into the crowds as the massive fusion of boats twitched.
The womb like hangars burst open from the ships, causing a flood of husks and living vehicles to scatter.
Flying jets fell from above the clouds, dive bombing the city only to bank upwards and continue their course. As the civilians panicked tanks and walkers made their way into the factories, many o which had been abandoned in the middle of production. The Children of Saleon bit and merged with the assemblers. Husks were collected as the factory and flesh fused and twisted together. The mechanical arms twitched as they grew synthetic muscle and tendons. Husks and captured civilians alike were loaded and modified as the living factory came online.
The unmoving husks were butchered and torn apart as they were rebuilt into new terrible and nightmarish shapes.
The unfortunate civilians screamed and struggled in vain as they were dismembered and modified.
However this went unnoticed by Blacklight and their allies even as they descended the cities. They were joined by several squadrons of Batarian fighter planes who immediately engaged the flying bat like jets.
The bioships exploded into swarms of Evolved, Infected, and even many new variants of the Thorian Creepers.
They engaged both the Husks and Saleon's Children in combat. Behemoths clashed with the Bipedal walkers. Clawing and biting at the abominations that Blacklight could only describe as a giant nightmarish fusion of a utahraptor and a fighter jet.
Geth warriors ejected from the sides of their ships in unison as they immediately began firing into the Husk swarms the moment they hit the ground. They were joined by packs of Hunters and Brawlers.
Not far out at sea, the massive flying mountain lashed out with heavy ordinance at the assembled Bioships that surrounded it.
Small flyers occasionally spewing flames and releasing acidic mist from their wings. The ship roared as particle cannons fired upon the swars, though their numbers were great enough to block out the sun. Throwing the area around it into darkness.
Then it started to rain fire.
Orbital bombardment of the areas most affected with Husks commenced. Whole city blocks ceased to exist as the fighting continued on. The cities lit aflame, to the point where the now exposed iron supports of buildings began to melt, causing the whole thing to fall.
Molten metal dripped from the still falling buildings as the Husks burned to ash and cinder. Blacklight themselves managed to avoid most of the damage to these condemned areas, but even they began to lose tons and tons of Biomass to the flames. The few unlucky civilians who did not manage to leave had fallen, only those closest to the bombs received a merciful quick death. The others however either choked on smoke and ash, or they suffered an even worse fate when their charred but still living bodies were taken by the skittering amalgams of flesh and metal. Their bodies collected and dragged to the developing factory beasts.
Over the ocean however the Flying Mountain received the largest concentration of fire, and the Bioships and flyer swarms backed off as the Batarian fleets above continued to char the abomination into smoldering meat and metal.
The Child of Saleon cried as the fires ignored it's Kinetic Barriers. Unbeknownst to everyone,, it's cries were not done in vain. For it released a signal deep into the recesses of space, where it's masters heard the call, and reacted.
Aria was busy minding her own business, sipping from a glass of Serrice Ice Brandy as she went through several financial records. A tedious and boring task, though the delightful sting of the brandy made it more than tolerable. Plus the number of zeros that trailed behind the ludicrous numbers of her incoming finances were always a welcome delight.
Geed might have been a vice, but as far as Aria was concerned it was a vice that suited her rather well.
Idly her mind turned to how quiet it had been lately. Blacklight had yet to rear their fuck ugly faces for a while, and things had been relatively normal. At least as normal as could be expected on Omega.
Sure Blacklight was still around, there was always a few individuals stalking among the crowd at any given time, but at least they were not fucking with her.
Just as the pleasant buzz of the alcohol ran through her body and the silence had become comfortable was it violently taken away from her.
Her eyes narrowed dangerously as the familiar face of her Batarian guard intruded on her once delightful solitude.
She just barely noticed that he was decidedly on edge. More so than when he had seen the news of what had occurred on Khar'Shan.
" Omega-4 Relay... Collectors... Ships... Lots of ships..." He said incoherently.
Aria caught some of what he said, but he continued to babble on and on.
Her moment of peace ruined, she slammed her hand down upon the table.
"Speak slowly and calmly right now or by the Goddess I will break every bone in your body with my mind and throw the resulting mess out of an airlock."
He took a few deep calming breaths before exhaling slowly.
"The Omega-4 Relay activated, and a lot Collector vessels started pouring out."
"See for yourself." He said as he began fiddling with his omnitool.
After a few moments, Aria watched as a holographic screen piped up in front of her showing recorded footage of the Omega-4 Relay. At first, it was a calm as always, but then a single Collector Cruiser exited FTL and began heading towards the other relay in the system. Then another Cruiser came through, this one being followed by smaller ships that buzzed around it like bees in a hive. As it followed the first Cruiser, another came behind it, and another and another and another. They started coming out in pairs after a few moments. Dozens and dozens of Cruisers followed by hundreds upon hundreds of Frigates. It was a fleet to put the Citadel to shame.
Then something else came through.
Collector Cruisers were a rare, but not unheard of sight. What came through however was not a cruiser.
Cruisers were not that big.
The line of civilians grew as Balak fired at a large Brutish beast. A cybernetic monstrosity the size of a Krogan yet with the Head of a Turian. The Brute focused on him before a large Rachni Broodlord landed on top of it and began tearing it apart with the serrated metal claws that emerged from its Blacklight bio-armor.
Balak turned to see the panicked civilians barely able to hold on enough to not panic. It was practically a panicked stampede, but at least it was calm enough to make their way to Borman Park.
Balak leapt atop a large pile of rubble and scaled it just enough to see their destination along with the bombs raining in the distance. Tearing into places Balak could only hope had no one left to save. Though he knew that was false. He took some solemn relief in the fact that death by orbital bombardment was probably much quicker and infinitely more painless than what these Husks wanted to do.
He turned his eyes to see giant insectoid creatures, many far larger than any animal had any right to be. All different in appearance. The Bio-ships of Blacklight were waiting for them, each one more than massive enough to hold potentially millions of people. Their appearance was odd, even by Blacklight standards. For one they were covered in what must have been thousands upon thousands of holes large enough for a Krogan to walk into. The imagery of holes in flesh caused Balak's skin to squirm, but he pushed those feelings aside.
"Is Blacklight going to evacuate the whole planet… With those?"
Asked a soldier below who was craning his neck to see into the distance.
"We can figure all that out latter, right now we need these civilians on those ships." said Balak as he leapt down. A pack of Hunters was keeping any of the Husks from advancing closer, but a few stragglers was making their way far closer than Balak felt comfortable with.
Balak and his men immediately began firing upon them. Before in their massive numbers they were a tide nearly impossible to fight against, now however they were little more than bullet fodder.
Balak watched them drop before he continued forward.
The Zeus bioship was unlike any other ship in all the galaxy. Within it, Awakened Collectors, freed from the shackles of the reapers worked tirelessly to arm the various weapon systems. Blacklight biomass and Geth hardware had been fused and melded into massive wetware computers. Not entirely organic, but built from biological components interfaced with more traditional inorganic circuitry. It did require chemical feed stocks to feed the organic parts, even Blacklight biomass required energy to function, but the traditional components allowed non-Blacklight individuals to interface with the Blacklight Hive Mind to some degree. This was especially true for the trillions of Geth Programs within the biocomputers that functioned as the Hive Ship's brain.
Scanners and Sensory organs immediately detected the minute changes in the Harsa relay long before anything appeared through it. When the Zeus bioship recognized the changes, so to did the other species connected to the Hive Mind.
a small fleet of Rachni ships broke off from the main fleet, followed by bioships that arrived just as ships began pouring through the relay.
Dozens of Collector Cruisers and hundreds of Oculus drones immediately flooded the system.
As soon as they appeared Blacklight scrambled their fleets as the Zeus Bioship released its bbiotic might.
They were not the only ones. For the Batarian Fleets had long been assembled here in preparation for war.
As far as Blacklight was concerned, there was not a worse time for uninvited guests to enter the Batarians home solar system, Even the Collector Fleets of this size.
However, that was when something else came through.
Collector Cruisers already pushed the limits for most starships, yet they paled in comparison to this massive structure.
Superficially, it resembled a Collector Cruiser, or rather several of them welded together. It was already aimed and as soon as it appeared, it began firing. Like a Gatling gun of high energy particle beams that fired in all directions. It was trivial for Blacklight and their allies to mentally calculate and predict where the beams would come from and said the casualties that should have occurred, however the same could not be said for the Batarians, who were taken completely off guard as their largest ships were torn apart.
The Zeus Bioship bent itself, moving less like a ship, and more like an animal as it fired its own particle beam along with many kinetic projectiles from it's twin Gatling apparatus. Yet the beam was intercepted by Oculus drones who took the shot to protect the Collector Dreadnought, the Kinetic projectiles however managed to slam against the Dreadnoughts kinetic barrier, and after a few moments bring it down.
It was at this time that the dozens of cruisers began to focus fire upon the Zeus Bioship.
The Rachni craft closest to the Relay had managed to draw fire away from the main fleets, allowing the few remaining Batarian, Geth, and Blacklight ships to push back.
This was a problem, one that would greatly interfere with any plans of evacuation Blacklight had.
The Fleets continued firing at each other, but this had the severe misfortune of ceasing nearly all orbital bombardment upon the Children of Saleon. This gave the Children more than enough time for their second wind.
Within Saleon's Children's partially living factories, the captured civilians were dragged and forced onto tongue like conveyor belts, who chewed and ground them up into individual components. Some were weaved with metal and machine to produce new Husk variants of the Praetorian. Others were molded with other civilians to produce various abominable amalgams. Large tank-like cannons jutting painfully from their hunched backs. Servos and integrated circuitry were bolted and entwined in and around their innards. Organs were adapted, repurposed, and altered into new components packed with nanoscale semiconductors by the various micro-fabricators. The factories continued integrating electrical and mechanical parts into the conglomerate organism before the finished product sprung to life. As soon as the mismatched bodies left the factory, they took to the cities to collect more and more civilians to repeat the process again and again.
Blacklight continued their attacks as new and terrible cyborgs joined the battles. A pair of Brawlers tore through large armored flesh beasts who stood on mismatched legs and arms. The canid infected dodged their long bladed extremities. Massive robotic walkers, whose legs were made of whole bodies slammed into a Goliath
As it's pneumatic teeth bit into the giant bear like creatures shell the Goliath screamed, but the shell held together long enough for the Goliath to push the walker off to the side into the still lit fires that continued to rage all around the city. Yet even as it was burning alive, the flesh amalgam did not yield. Through the many eyes of Blacklight, they could see the corpse like heads of huskified Batarians gaping mouth open into a silent scream of pain.
As the fighting continued on, the skies above began to darken.
Several Thorian Creepers looked up to see what was blocking the sun, and through the Creeper all of Blacklight saw what was unmistakably the familiar silhouettes of the largest Seeker Swarm Blacklight had ever seen. And among the swarms were the shapes of Collector Drop Pods.
They could still see the battle in space, but as the fighting above continued, it became clear that the Reapers were very intent on taking this system.
The Collectors above were doing everything they could to keep the fleets as far away from the planet as possible. All the while more and more Heretic Geth and Oculus drones poured out from the Relay.
This was, to date, the single largest gathering of the Reapers forces Blacklight had ever seen. And it became clear why as a familiar booming voice tore from the Collector vessels and reverberated through the skies.
"ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL."
Balak watched as Evolved and Geth began escorting civilians towards the ships. At the moment, he was providing cover for them, though honestly with the most unexpected of reinforcements, he was just picking off any stragglers that managed to slip past.
This gave Balak a lot of time to think on the events that preceded. Events had truly turned towards the absurd in short order. Were he a superstitious man, Balak would assume this was the end times. Had it not been for the timely arrival of Blacklight, along with the Geth and Rachni of all things, Balak had no doubts that Khar'Shan would be fully over run. His radio equipment had enabled him to keep somewhat in touch with the events, and none of it was good.
These undead things had already begun spreading farther and farther than he could anticipate. Already this city had been completely invaded, and the surrounding cities. Then there was the reports of cities across the sea suffering from the same fate.
He fired upon another Huskified Turian, though that turned out to be unnecessary as a Blacklight Hydra emerged from the ground and spear through the Husk before tossing it back towards the fallen city.
Balak glanced to the Bioships. From what he had been told, the civilians were going to be kept in suspended animation. Held in fluid filled sacs that filled the interior of the Bioship.
Obviously communicating that to the civilians opened its own can of worms. Blacklight had developed a reputation after the Citadel Incident. The Batarians relationship with Blacklight remained mostly unaffected by the event, but the rumors found their way back to Khar'Shan, and the citizens were wary of being kept in literal wombs for transport to who knows where. Many resisted going in those bio-illuminated holes, though the horrid events had built up, and there were just as many who were rushing to get inside.
Balak himself was somewhat wary, if only because he had interacted with Blacklight before. He still remembers one of their evolved growing an extra set of eyes for his own comfort. Blacklight was not like any other race that had ever been encountered. Their willingness to ally themselves with both Geth and Rachni only served to highlight just how strange they were, from his perspective at least. He couldn't think of any other race who would even entertain such an idea, and yet, seeing these once enemies doing all they could to save his people… Well needless to say while Balak may have been conflicted, he was leaning more towards acceptance than outright refusal.
Then the skies darkened.
Balak had access to information most civilians could only dream of. The swarms of those elongated things were only rarely recorded, and only Batarian Pirate fleets ever relayed information of the Seekers. While they were far away, they more than matched everything he had seen about them.
Then he saw the unmistakable sight of drop pods.
Balak prayed that this was simply another unexpected Ally of Blacklight, but the alien voice that echoed through the air had scrubbed away those faint hopes.
"ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL."
As the Collectors exited the pods, they were engulfed in biotic flames. The iridescent corona seemed to shimmer around them, before they exploded with energy. The Collectors shot off like a bullet into the battles, and began firing particle beams indiscriminately upon anything that wasn't a Husk.
Immediately a Goliath had its shell punched through as it roared in pain, but not before it exploded into a cloud of indra that immediately began to crackle with electricity. Seekers targeted Geth and tore them to pieces with teeth like chainsaws.
Heretic Geth meanwhile had ignored these areas, and deliberately landed in uninfested areas where the Husks had yet to touch.
Shepard found herself running up the remnants of some large building as she barely managed to dodge several beams that were aimed after her. When she reached the top of the building, she jumped away and proceeded to glide across the field. Multiple Evolved joined her Mid-flight. Through their eyes, she saw several Geth ships doing a flyby that would pass just close enough for several of them to hit it. After running several mental calculations, those among the gliding evolved who determined they would miss the craft banked to the side, before falling to the ground like a meteor.
Shepard and her kin maneuvered themselves to hit the side of the ship with their feet first. Once their feet made contact with the ship a series of tube like orifices opened across their skin to counteract the speed and not slam too much into the ship. Their feet and palms immediately grew root like anchors allowing them to grab onto the side of the Ship.
As soon as they stabilized, they rapidly began shifting their biomass to the root like anchors, and into the ship. Spears of ossifies biomass burst from the Heretic Geth's ships. Tearing through the very machinery that allowed the craft to fly. Immediately the Craft began falling, right into a swarm of newly arrived Collectors. The kinetic strike, combined with the resulting explosion charged them to dust.
The Evolved on the other hand immediately adapted themselves with the traits of the Galaxies most successful extremophiles to lose a comparatively small amount of Biomass.
Shepard, fully aware she was about to walk out of an explosion, decided for purely her own amusement to "Terminator Walk" out of the flames as some other evolved on Earth began recalling the theme song from Terminator.
Satisfied with her "completely necessary act", she bolted into the nearest Husk she could see.
Her right hand enclosed the Huskified Batarian's throat. The metal parts with doing little to prevent her palm from crushing it and tearing it out. Her arm immediately shifting into a blade allowing her to impale the Husk through its abdomen and suck out the small bit of biomass within.
As expected, these new forms of Saleon's Children still retained an immunity to Blacklight infection.
She flung the Husk off her blade before it could fully add the infection to its own biology.
That was another thing that managed to confuse the entirety of the Hive. How Saleon was able to engineer an entity that the most infectious organism possible could not infect was unknown, but the thought still cause a general sense of unease to reverberate across the Collective consciousness of Blacklight.
An entity completely immune to infection was simply unheard of. It was long theorized that it was possible for alien life to be so bizarre in therm of biochemistry that it might have been impossible to infect them, but after encountering the Turians, and the other races of the galaxy, it became a non-issue. Extraterrestrials were just as susceptible to consumption as any other life form encountered. But Saleon's Children's strange biology was capable of not only becoming immune, but to insert viral traits into itself without actually becoming apart of Blacklight.
Husks were another issue as well. Strange protein analogues to Bloodtox were somehow inserted into the nucleic acids of the Husks, causing Blacklight biomass to undergo massive cell death was similar, but ultimately understandable given Bloodtox strange effects on Blacklight biomass.
These Husk though, many of them altered with parts of Saleon's Children had combined the two methods into a single cybernetic organism.
This combination made consuming the Husk Mothers own progeny impossible, and what was worse was just how fast they could grow and spread.
The Reapers had often called Blacklight a cancer, and for good reason, but to see them creating their own cancer to kill them...
Shepard was not sure on the logic, or even if there was any logic to it. The Reapers had encoded instructions, and they would follow them as best as was possible.
Hypocrisy was not a concept that existed amongst the Reapers, perhaps they knew of the concept on an academic level, but clearly if they were willing to use something like the Husk Mother then they just could not apply it to themselves.
It was confusing to say the least.
Those thoughts finished passing through Shepard's head just as the body she threw impacted into a Heretic Geth.
Ashley had quickly joined her, budding from a passing bioship to land near Shepard as she swung her improvised biological chainsaw through a collector that had been previously damaged by acid spewed from one of the Thorian's Evolved avatars.
Ashley danced around the battlefield to meet with Shepard as the two merged together back to back to become a spinning ball of rapidly vibrating blades and spikes.
Though even so, the combination of Husk Bloodtox tainted blood and the Collectors own particle weapons proved too much to handle and they lost a significant portion of biomass, allowing only Shepard to remain as Ashley reformed elsewhere on the planet.
Shepard attempted to skewer the Collector with a devastator attack of multiple bladed tendrils, but the tough ceramics made most of the damage superficial at best. She did manage to avoid being hit by more particle beams however.
As she made her way to cover allowing not only herself, but every other evolved to get a different vantage point of the battle, she noticed that the searing Biotic flames that came from the collectors was burning away a lot of Biomass. While there was more than enough Biomass on the planet that the amount loss was negligible, it was clear that the Reapers forces superior numbers would make this conflict a long and drawn out one. Which meant more innocents would die this day.
The process of Evacuation had already been known to all of Blacklight, and as a consequence their allies, but if their idea was to succeed, then the Batarians had to be warned of just what Blacklight was planning.
Shepard fired off a shard of sharpened bone towards a nearby Husk as flocks of Flyers spewed flames at various Seeker swarms.
'This is the largest gathering of the Reapers forces ever encountered, and they are all in one place.' Informed the Thorian.
The thought sunk into the minds of many. The Thorian was nothing if not pragmatic, and despite the distaste this idea left in their mouths, Blacklight was forced to concede that the Thorian's idea had merit, but the question was, would the Batarians see it that way?
Blacklight was uncertain, even as they relayed their idea to Jath'Amon.
It was unthinkable, even during this nightmare such a thing could not be considered, let alone implemented. It would cause far more harm than good as far as Jath was concerned.
'We can understand your hesitance to do this, but it could be the only way to prevent the Husk Mother from spreading to other worlds.'
"Mass Evacuation is one thing, but to strand them there… No I can not abide by this." said Jath'Amon.
The Radio fell silent before Blacklight responded.
'How many Batarian worlds exist outside this system?"
Jath'Amon thought on it for a moment, before the number came to him.
"Sixteen major systems and a further twenty six smaller colonies. Why?"
'They are all in danger if we do not keep these things confined to this area. We know this decision hurts you Jath'Amon, but even with a heavy heart, would you not condemn a single planet to save forty two worlds? Even if the one that must be sacrificed is your homeworld?'
"You are asking me to abandon the cradle of Batarian civilization. To leave it to these… things."
'We know this is no small thing to ask, but it has to be done. We will save as many as we can. We will allow your fleets to retreat so you may one day return, but once the evacuation is complete, we must confine this horror here.'
"Come back?! Come back to what? Destroying the relay will destroy out whole system! There would be nothing to come back to!"
"That is where you are wrong."
Jath'Amon froze for only a moment.
'We have seeped deep within may relays throughout Blacklight controlled space. We know much more of the construction or Relays than ever before. We can limit the damage. Disable the relay without causing it to self destruct.'
"Then we suffer those who could not make it to an evacuation zone to suffer under these things. Neither option is thinkable."
'True, but one of those options will limit the damage to only a single location, while the other includes the possibility of this infection spreading.'
"Ironic words coming from a sapient virus."
'We can at least choose to be infectious, but we do not need to justify ourselves to you. We only need you to see that one of the options gives you time to prepare. We are powerful Jath'Amon, but at the moment we cannot sacrifice more biomass to protect you. The Reapers are coming, and the amount we sent is as much as we can send without losing an irreplaceable amount of biomass.'
Jath'Amon sank in his chair as he recalled the footage that Barla Von had shown him. The Reapers, they were something…. Else. He couldn't put a finger on it, but something about those massive ships made his skin crawl.
He looked out to the window, where the massive fleets of ships continued to fight each other. The station shook from time to time when a stray shot impacted with it. Already the Eye of Syn'dah was experiencing severe orbital decay after various maneuvering rockets were blasted off. They had plenty of time, and it would take multiple revolutions around Khar'Shan before the Station would finally hit the ground. Soon they would hit the upper atmosphere and loose the speed necessary to remain in orbit, and with a few more revolutions and passes through the atmosphere, they would crash into the ground with a force only comparable to the strongest of atomic weaponry.
There was no way to keep the massive station in orbit, and no way to repair it. Already much of the crew had made their way to the escape pods to be snatched up and rescued by a nearby Bioship, leaving only a skeleton crew aboard the station.
Time was most decidedly not on Jath'Amon side. He thought of his home as the station shook once again. The tall shining spires and glass skyscrapers. The golden arcs and marble pillars that had been apart of Batarian aesthetics for millennia.
He thought of his people on the planet below, but he also thought on the ones living on other planets and in small colonies.
It was not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination, and only time will tell if history thought of Jath'Amon as either a spineless coward or a leader making the toughest decision of his life, but weighing the options in his head. Jath'Amon, with a heavy heart conceded to Blacklight's demands.
He could only hope he was doing the right thing.
=Establishing connection to Network=
=Admin Status Recognized=
=Beginning Routine Analysis=
=Status: Analyzing Recent data=
=New Species Detected=
=Subject: Blacklight Derivative Organism (Pre-Husk)=
=Subject: Blacklight Derivative Organism (Post-Husk)=
=Downloading Relevant Information=
=Analysis:10.42%...50.76%... 98.43%...Analysis complete=
Analysis (Pre-Husk): Artificial Nucleic Acid Analogue granting immunity to Blacklight Organism via repair mechanism. Repair Mechanism allows for Horizontal Gene Transfer.
Bio-polymers capable of performing chemical bonds with a variety of elements and isotopes.
Radiotrophic abilities taking advantage of radioactive elements and isotopes that accumulate in calcium phosphate based endoskeletal structures.
Titanium Dioxide based Photosynthesis.
Plastic Cellular Membrane.
Toxic/Poisonous body fluids and secretions.
Analysis (Post Husk): Living Cells hybridized with nanoscale electronic organelle analogues, magnetic nanoparticles, poly-electrolyte coating, and synthetic ion-exchange resin.
Radically repurposed bio-mechanical organs to carry out new functions.
Multiple organs that functions as various capacitor types.
Mobile internal organs capable of generating strong magnetic field to arrange and disassemble mechanical components into useful desired shapes.
Neural fibers Hybridized with fiber optic cables capable of interfacing with ingested and repurposed machinery.
Self-repairing and Self-modifying.
=Conclusion: Possible method of Synthesis detected. =
=Protocol S-01: Activated=
CODEX: Blacklight Allies
Rachni - While Blacklight has always been a Hive Mind Organism, it's conjoined thoughts were limited. Mental thoughts and ideas had to be projected and sent through Brain Hives which are Blacklight's Biological equivalent to Super Computers and Comm Buoys. That all changed after Meeting the Rachni.
The Rachni Hive mind functions on various unique principals, chief among them is a form of Quantum Entanglement. How the Rachni Hive Mind is capable of this is completely unknown, and testing to find out are inconclusive, but it does allow the Rachni to communicate with each other at any arbitrary distance.
Blacklight incorporated this method into their own hive mind, and as a result, Blacklight and the Rachni now share the same hive mind, effectively making one an extension of the other. While Rachni cannot transfer their minds between each other or Blacklight, they are capable of intricate levels of cooperation with Blacklight. Allowing individual Rachni to control Blacklight biomass, which they often do by wearing a layer of Blacklight Biomass that covers their exoskeleton. This covering of Blacklight Biomass is mostly used by the Rachni to conceal themselves by shifting the color of their armor. Though they can also morph this covering into various weapons.
This connection with Blacklight is so deep, that should a Rachni die, it's consciousness becomes yet another Blacklight evolved, and can create bodies out of Blacklight Biomass. Though this effectively makes them no longer genetically or physically Rachni, the mind itself does not change, and can be considered mentally Rachni. it isn't uncommon for Rachni Evolved to choose to construct bodies that resemble their original one. Rachni and Rachni Evolved are completely indistinguishable from each other for he most part, but Rachni Evolved are capable of shape-shifting.
Thorian- The Thorian was once a massive planet spanning sapient plant-like lifeform native to Feros. After willingly being absorbed into Blacklight it, for all intents and purposes, is now a Blacklight Evolved. However it's unique origins as a singular vast consciousness as opposed to many small ones like Blacklight or the Rachni, sets it apart from any other Evolved, most notably in that the Thorian can control multiple Evolved bodies simultaneously. Something Other Evolved can not do to the same scale as the Thorian.
Due to the Thorian's own preference most of its Evolved Avatar bodies do not resemble the typical human form most Evolved use, but rather they resemble Creepers, which were humanoid plant constructs the Thorian was capable of creating before being absorbed by Blacklight.
The Thorian, due to its own psychological quirks and preferences, chooses to incorporate much more plant and fungal traits into its Evolved avatars than most other Blacklight Evolved. These Creepers come in a variety of different morphs and phenotypes.
Thorian Creepers - The most common form the Thorian takes are as the Thorian Creeper. Creepers resemble green emaciated humanoid plants. While they resemble the original Creepers the Pre-Blacklight Thorian was capable of growing, they have several unique differences from the original Creepers, namely these Creepers have the exact same abilities of any Blacklight evolved. This allows them to shapeshift and manifest blades, claws, and tentacles. The only difference between Thorian Creepers and Blacklight Evolved is the plant-like aesthetic than normal Blacklight Evolved (usually) lack. In addition the epidermis of Creepers contain idioblast cells, which perform a variety of functions, but most notably can fire barbed microscopic calcium oxalate crystals and pain inducing chemicals. They also contain Alkaloids that can bind to nucleic acids to inhibit protein production and DNA repair.
Thorian Ogres - Ogres resemble massive bulky Creepers, nearly the size of a Blacklight Goliath. While they are humanoid in form, they are covered in toxic thorns and possess much more musculature. This is especially true in the Ogres upper arms, which causes them to assume a quadrupedal locomotion, walking on their knuckles. This musculature is made mostly out of cellulose and lignin giving the Ogre a bark like surface and a highly flexible wooden internal structure.
Thorian Weaves – Weaves are large masses of slithering vines and tendrils that lash out erratically, snatching enemies in their vines, which either rip enemies apart or slam them repeatedly on the ground. These vines are covered in sharp thorns and stinging hairs that deposit various poison and toxins into their victim. These silica tipped hairs are capable of penetrating skin and clothing with ease. The Weaves also possess dozens of over sized leaves modified to appear similar to the carnivorous Venus Flytrap native to Pre-Blacklight earth. These leaves can clamp onto prey in a vice like grip or spray potent toxins and acids.
Thorian Stalks – Similar in appearance to Blacklight Hydra, Stalks posses the preferred plantlike aesthetic of all Thorian avatars. They use thick vines that come from their mouth to grab enemies and debris to throw at other enemies. In addition, they can also launch seeds filled with either reactive chemicals that explode on contact or fast growing fungal tissue designed to grow absurdly fast to trap and restrain enemies.
A/N: I don't really like doing anything political that relates to real life. Tends to start arguments I would much rather not deal with. Refugees are one such example that has cause more than a little bit of debate around the world.
However, in Mass Effect 3 a huge influx of Batarian refugees were allowed on the Citadel after their system got all exploded by a relay going KABOOM! In an attempt to slow the Reapers. The reason for evacuation is different, but the result is still (more or less) the same.
Either way I'm not trying to start anything political, this is a thing that happened in the game.
So in the immortal words of Mark Twain.
"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR
G.G., CHIEF OF ORDNANCE"