Chapter 57 - Supernova
Harbinger possessed Collectors tore through the ruined landscape, burning with eldritch fire and destroying all in its path. Following behind it were the Krogan Titans. Massive Goliath sized beasts that lashed out with untamed fury and strength beyond what even a beast of their size should have allowed.
The Harbinger Collector broke off from the stampede of giant cybernetic Krogan as its wings unfurled and it shot off towards a nearby Evolved. In this case, that happened to be Shepard.
Morphing biomass to his arm, Shepard manifested a shield immediately as the Harbander Collector lashed out with wicked burning claws. These biotically enhanced claws would sink nearly an inch into Shepard's shield, where it would burn and char the shields ossified flesh before striking with the other arm that passed under the shield directly into Shepard's shoulder.
It should be noted that Blacklight biomass was very dense, and as a result, a single evolved was very heavy, weighing in at nearly 900 pounds. Despite this fact, the Collector lifted Shepard off the ground and took off full speed into the nearest building, one that was engulfed in flames. The Collector slammed Shepard into the wall, tearing through it like it wasn't even there, before slamming him through the next wall, and the next and the next until they came out the other side of the building.
Shifting its weight the Collector spun and tossed Shepard a good few dozen meters, creating a sizable impact crater in the rubble.
Shepard, standing up looked at his surroundings he was close to the sea of flames that had consumed the landscape, reducing it to a smouldering ruin. The Burning Collector whose wings beat rhythmically. Shepard knew that if the damn thing actually had any facial features, it would be glaring at Shepard with all the hate it could muster.
Brushing himself of, Shepard kept an eye on the burning Collector as the flames raged around them.
"THIS HURTS YOU."
It was hard for Shepard to tell is that was a statement or a question. Sheppard assumed the latter however.
"Only if I wanted it to, which I don't." He said as tendrils of Biomass squirmed down his morphing right arm that formed into a massive Blade.
Implants beneath the Collectors left forearm activated, causing a device much like an Omni-tool to manifest a holographic shield. The Harbinger possessed Collector held the shield in front of itself as its other arm produced a Prothean Particle rifle that appeared to be grafted to his arm, said rifle also appeared to have an omni-blade bayonet, making it look almost like he had a sword or a spear for an arm.
"Well... That's new."
The Collector shot forward, firing its particle cannon at Shepard, who lifted his shield to block the beam and readied his blade to strike. Expecting the Collector to try impaling him, Shepard was momentarily put off guard as instead the Collector shield bashed him instead, throwing him back a few feet, none the worse for wear, but mildly annoyed.
Then the beams came again, because of course they did.
Having more than enough of this, Shepard manifested Blacklight exoskeleton armor and swung at the Collector, who proved to be surprisingly nimble. It deftly moved around the strikes with a level of inhuman agility that rivaled any within Blacklight.
Then a Krogan Titan burst from the building that Shepard was previously plowed through and sending flaming debris in all directions. It then roared like a mad beast and charging towards Shepard like a bull. Sinewy muscle fibers in Shepard's legs allowed him to leap over the charging Krogan as the Harbander Possessed Collector jumped back to avoid the rampaging beast.
Morphing his arm into a tendril, Shepard threw his arm towards the Titan, impaling it in its back before pulling himself onto the beast, he stood atop the beast as biomass shifted into his legs, and shot root like anchors into the beasts skin.
Apparently the Krogan Titan took exception to that as it repeatedly bashed itself against flaming rubble and the remnants of what once could have been called buildings in an attempt to dislodge Shepard, but to no avail. The roots crept beneath its skin growing steadily throughout the Titans body.
As expected the beast had the same strange proteins that allowed this thing's cells to produce the Reapers modified Bloodtox compound, making consuming the damn thing impossible, but Shepard had other ideas.
As the root system grew, the Titan became sluggish in its movements, barely able to fight against the invading tendrils that began wrapping around its innards. Then it fully stopped moving.
Shepard examined the root system it had growing within the Titan and even though the Bloodtox was slowly dissolving them, it was not doing so quite fast enough. Especially as Shepard decided to leak a few select paralytic agents and corrosive substances into the beasts organic muscles.
Smiling, Shepard clicked his tongue and the Titan turned around, facing the Burning Collector. Shepard working the Titan like a puppet, moving the Tendrils beneath it with enough strength to counteract the damaged muscles. Even as the Titan tried to fight against the tentacles, the combination of acids and toxins made it all but useless to do anything about it.
A smile spread across Shepard's face. With his free hand Shepard manifested yet another whipfist and cracked it.
The Titan charged.
The Collector however, only quirked its head as the Titan neared, yet it did not move. It took aim.
Shepard expected the shot, which never came. Instead, just before the titanic Krogan monster could make contact, several more Harbinger possessed Collectors landed from above, they stood next to the original, each one burning with the same eldritch fire. As soon as they appeared, they moved in perfect sync, lifting a single hand up, causing a powerful biotic push sent the Krogan beast flying backwards into a burning wreckage.
Shepard quickly attempted to retract the tentacles, and escape the fires, right as three sets of emerald particle beam struck his head.
Regrowing a head wasn't difficult for an Evolved, trivial really.
However, most sensory organs were on the head, and without them, Shepard was momentarily left blind and deaf as he felt more and more of himself become incinerated by both particle beams and raging fire..
When he finally hit the ground, he managed to finish regrowing his head, and take note of his current situation. He had managed to land behind a flaming vehicle.
While the most pressing matter at the moment should have been the invasion, Shepard was momentarily distracted by the fact that due to a substantial loss of mass, he now stood just over three feet tall.
Somewhere within the connected thoughts of Blacklight, there were snickers and giggling, by none other than Ashley Williams.
Shepard's eyes narrowed, dangerously as he looked around himself. The Krogan beast was right next to him. Its fat and wires had ignited into an inferno. He looked back to the vehicle blocking his vision from where the three collectors were standing.
Peeking over for just a moment before Shepard immediately ducked back down as the beams flew right where his head had been. Some had struck the dead Krogan Titan.
He did not plan on getting any smaller than he already was.
Sighing, Shepard fell prone as tendrils dances all across his skin. Slowly he shifted himself into an ape like Babi, with a few modifications to serve his current needs. Namely, the toughest armor he could manage. Granted this would mean a loss of color changing chromatophores, but it wasn't like this endeavor required much stealth.
The Shepard-Babi leapt upwards, over the dead Krogan creature as he deftly closed the distance on the Collectors. The Beams were blocked by the armored carapace enough that Shepard was still mostly intact as he managed to leap onto the back of one of the Collectors.
Unfortunately, the mental link between the Collectors prevented the other two from accidentally shooting at the one he landed on, but Shepard was pleased that at least that meant that he himself wasn't being shot at either.
His claws slammed against the Collector as it struggled to rip the Shepard-Babi away. While the Collectors did have very strong armor, the miniscule spaces between those armored plates were easily ripped away to reveal the squishy, and more importantly vulnerable machines/organs beneath.
Right before Shepard-Babi was biotically ripped off of the Collector, he managed to grab ahold of something important enough that when it was ripped out, the Collector ceased being a problem. Of course that also meant that Shepard was now once again a Target for the charged particle beams.
After losing another quarter of biomass however, more Evolved arrived, and they were able to both down the other Collectors and get Shepard enough biomass to get back to a much more comfortable size.
Then a shadow fell over the battlefield.
The many eyes of Blacklight saw It, and it made their innumerable minds pause.
It was massive and roughly cylindrical, walking on four pillars like legs, and made out of the fused carcasses of a hundred batarian husks and jury-rigged machinery. The top of the abomination was a ring of turrets that twisted, turned, and fired in every direction around the flesh machine. Each step shook the earth below.
The beams passed through buildings and ruins as if they were not even there, vaporizing all that got in the way. Skyscrapers, or what remained of them, fell, destroying whole city blocks in the process. The sea of flames grew as the lasers carved the land apart at such intense heat that steel frames of many buildings caught ablaze.
Absolutely everything around Shepard was engulfed in even more intense flames, far more than there had been previously. These fires illuminated the dust covered battlefield, and rose taller than the buildings ever stood. Shepard saw the Husk Mother in the distance the Husk hovered over the tallest of the remaining buildings as it was steadily breaking into smaller and smaller pieces.
Each piece of the Husk Mother unfurled into more massive creature of various shapes and sizes. Soon only the only part of the original mountain sized beast was the original ship, still fully functioning as it began to move.
Seeing this, Blacklight immediately took to analyzing this new development, and began developing ideas and contingencies to destroy this threat, but soon afterwards another catastrophe hit, one that caused the ground itself to explode.
The world was scarred as pulsing machine-flesh rose and oozed from the underground sewers and water tunnels.
From these newly formed crevices in the landscape, massive cybernetic organs and appendages grew outward into the streets and fallen buildings as the living factories below birthed warped abominations of flesh and metal. Tumors of biomechanical flesh grew into particle rifles and began firing at anything in range.
Tendrils of muscle and wire snatched cadavers to be dragged into the hungry earth below. Electric Arc Furnaces burned metals to be grotesquely stitched and welded to cognizant corpses of Husks and survivors alike.
Buildings fell or were dragged into these gaping maws in the ground where they were chewed by industrial grinders and gnashing teeth to be repurposed into new frightening abominations.
Analyzing this new situation, Blacklight acted accordingly.
Above the city, where orbital fleets fought against the Collectors, bioships broke off from combat as they headed towards Khar'Shan. As they reached the upper atmosphere they began rocketing downward while splitting smaller, but still massive orbs of biomass.
As the Blacklight flesh meteors fell, they morphed.
Bio-Drakes, Behemoths, and Anansi crashed into the earth below.
The tide of machine-flesh met with the titans of Blacklight, and were pushed back.
Streams of chemical fire spewed from the throats of the Bio-Drakes, clinging to the children of Saleon like Napalm.
The razor sharp sheer hairs of the Anansi ripped into machine and flesh with ease. Their attempts to avoid the razor hair caused them to become tangled together by corrosive webbing and fast growing fungi.
Any members of Saleons Children that managed to avoid them were torn into by the prodigious strength of Blacklight Behemoths.
The battles between the Blacklight, Geth, Rachni, Husks, and Collectors below continued on, appearing like small ants in comparison to the massive titans.
Those unfortunate Survivors below found themselves in between a fight that shook the earth and tore the city apart.
Those who ran found themselves quickly immobilized by the massive Seeker Swarms that had engulfed the city. Some taken to be used as parts, others spared only by the timely intervention of Blacklight or one of its allies.
As more and more Survivors made their way to the bioships for safety, the city shifted green as the largest gathering of Indra charged the air with electricity that would arc out towards Husks and Collectors.
It was as if the world itself was being torn apart by its very seams. Torn and reforged by waves of Machine-Flesh that grew with each passing moment.
The steps of Titans caused tremors and quakes that rattled glass. The bulk of animal like Infected mauled and tore into Collectors and Husks like ravenous predators. Geth armatures lit the fusions of flesh and metal aflame with Plasma.
Seekers consumed entire buildings, bringing their components to factories to be reshaped and reformed into cancerous weapons of war. Husks rose again and again, each time they were merged together into weapons, each one stranger, more misshapen, and more terrifying than the last.
Collectors rose skyward, taking flight on specially crafted wings as swirling biotic tendrils of burning pain and agony lashed out across the battlefield.
Biotic singularities sprung into existence over and over again across the city and indeed the world.
To the Batarians below this carnage, this transcended the word war. This was two great and powerful forces of nature, each one very different, yet eerily similar to the other.
One a wave of mechanical parts and meat guided by a mass of disembodied minds barely able to recognize themselves as they were driven by an Eldritch Will from outside the Galaxy.
The other a being of evershifting biomass that acted as self imposed guardians to the survivors below. Though even with the knowledge that this entity wished to save Khar'Shan they were monstrous in their own way, and their methods were a disturbing sight to behold.
These weren't armies of soldiers, this was a titanic struggle between many obscenely powerful God Creatures. A battle unseen between microbes and nanites raged on a level unseen by the Batarian stragglers.
All the while, whispers of Indoctrination were countered by infrasonic frequencies emanating from weaves of vocal cords within steadily growing Blacklight constructs.
The Bioships of Blacklight however, continued to fill with a few lucky survivors.
More Bioships came, landing across the planet in cities yet untouched by the spreading beasts. The masses flooded to these safe havens. As the Bioships swelled with survivors, they took to the skies, where fleets of state-of-the-art weaponry and carefully crafted biological constructs engaged in a naval battle of epic proportions. Whole regions of space was filled with swarming volleys of missiles, mass drivers, particle beams, and biological explosives.
Some Bioships were struck, unharmed, but with many of their passengers left dead.
Blacklight knew better than to consume the Dead, they would be carried with their families.
As the battles raged on however, the cities began to empty, but billions of Batarians would be left behind. Some unlucky enough to fall early, others who failed to reach the Bioships in time.
Soon the fleets began to move. Collector Vessels scattered, spread out by thousands upon thousands of kilometers. The Batarian Fleets proved to be more than capable of inflicting damage, but many more fell.
Soon, with the help of the Blacklights, the Batarians managed to get the Collector ships away from the Mass Relay, and as soon as they did, Bioships rushed through, being propelled from the system, to parts unknown.
Civilian and commercial ships followed the Bioships as close as was safe, moving as safely as they could through the Relay to leave this nightmare behind.
None knew that this would be the last time they would see their Homeworld.
Balak watched as he first of the Bioships left most stayed behind, though plenty were filled to bursting with survivors packed into amniotic sacs. His skin crawled at the idea of being shoved into a literal womb, but looking at what remained of this city, he supposed it was far more preferable.
He coughed on the choking smoke and dust that was falling over him and his surroundings. His vision was limited, but the raging flames lit shadows that continued to fight just outside his vision.
A mechanical whine snapped Balak from his thoughts as he turned to see a skeletal spider like abomination crawl from the smoke. It was composed of necrotic flesh and metal. Each joint of its many legs were decorated by the faces of suffering batarians, who were all staring at Balak with a mask of raw desperation and hunger as it crept its way towards him.
Balak did not think, only fired at the thing as he frantically backed up. As the spider tank neared him, it deployed assortments of claws, drills, and other appendages designed to rip him apart and rebuild him into some nameless thing. As he backed up, Balak did not see the debris behind him that instantly floored him. His rifle falling from his hands.
Balak closed his eyes and lifted his arms on instinct as he waited for the beast to come.
It never came. Instead, the ground rumbled and the sound of ripping concrete and metal was heard.
Daring to open his eyes, Balak watched as a Blacklight Hydra entangled its tentacle like tongue around several of the creatures legs.
The faces along the mechanical beast screamed as it was torn apart and dragged towards the Hydras mouth. Balak took a breath, before he noticed that the pieces that were ripped off the Spider tank morphed into new shapes that found awkward and seemingly painful ways to limp and hobble towards the Hydra. Immediately these pieces began attacking the Hydra who was distracted attempting to mutilate and butcher the spider creatures main body.
Balak, seeing this, grabbed his rifle and stood back up. The settling dust had billowed once more than the Hydra dragged the Spider underground.
The survivors closest to Balak were already fleeing into the sanctuary of the Bioship, though the Mechanical Children of Saleon crawled and slithered closer and closer. Their shapeless shadows creeping in the dust and smoke.
As Balak prepared to fire, he saw the Bioships pulse with biotic energy, the Morphing pieces of the Children were immediately thrown with ridiculous force towards the Horizon, far from Balaks view. The Dust went with them, giving Balak a full view of the devastation all around him.
The Bioships roared as long yet thin tendrils grew from their mass, all lashing out at any enemy within rage. Balak was frozen for a moment as he saw that not a single building was left untouched, not a single scrap of land was left unmarked. Craters, Canyons, Flames, Rubble, Ruins, and Corpses in every direction he looked.
Then the earth shook as a Bio-Drake several blocks from Balaks position was thrown to the ground by one of the massive Children of Saleon. Balak managed to keep his footing as the Drake released torrents of chemical fire at the massive biomechanical giant.
Balak examined all around him, his mind successful in putting the destruction out of his mind as he tried to find something that could hopefully be damaged to some degree by his rifle. Balak closed his eyes as a ray of bright light passed over head, coming from one of the Husk Titans. The beam impacted the drake, leaving a perfectly circular hole at the center of its torso. The hole was already starting to mend as Balak turned to see a hand made of blades and wires that nearly snatched him up.
He threw himself away from the gaunt hand of the modified Husk Banshee, that seemed to be made of at least two different Asari. Most of its flesh was gone, revealing Its innards. It moved awkwardly with the two asari having crooked and curved spines that were intertwined and coiled together. The ribs had bent outward and sharpened to appear similar to long curved teeth, the cavernous chest had been opened to reveal to Balak what once might have been called a heart, but now was a mesh of muscle, wires, and machines. The Two faced monstrocity stalked closer, it's too long arms swaying with each step it took as it horstly screamed at Balak, who backed away without breaking eye contact.
Its four arms flicked outward and ignited as meter long omni-blades formed from each limb. These blades burned with such intensity that the very air around them shimmered from the heat they put out.
Balak did not hesitate to shoot the thing in its chest, or at least one of its chests, to hit the heart like organ. The organ was ripped and torn apart by the shots, but the creature did not fall, instead it quickened its pace and ran towards Balak with outstretched arms.
Before it could do anything however, a Blacklight Hunter leapt from behind Balak, soaring over him before it crashed into the Asari creature. The Hunters long sabre like fangs sunk into one of the Banshee's necks, before it preformed a death roll that tore the flesh and metal apart. One of the Banshee's heads fell to the ground, still attempting to scream in defiance.
The intact portion of the Banshee also screamed as it sliced at the Hunter with the burning blades, that passed through the Hunters armor and ignited any flesh it touched in flames.
There was too much going on at once. Too many individual brawls were happening in every direction. Balak was not too proud to admit that this was far too much for him to keep up with. The fights moved, interrupting or getting caught up in other battles or breaking off to form smaller bouts.
There was no way to keep track of them all.
He had to get out of this hell, and take as many survivors as he could with him.
Taking command, he hastily yelled at every survivor to get to the closest Bioship as possible, and he wasn't disappointed when the Bioships grew more and more cavities for the survivors to get into.
Each new cavernous orifice that developed on the side of the Bioships were quickly swarmed with the panicked masses.
Balak, despite wanting to get out of this nightmare as soon as was possible, waited until there was no one left. Once the last soul made his way through, Balak was behind them. Running down bioluminescent veins and arteries.
Soon, he found himself sealed into a sac.
He breathed in oxygenated chemicals filled with agents designed to calm him.
Despite his initial reluctance to be held in a womb, the specially designed concoction of the fluids he breathed in steadied the beating of his heart and the pace of his breathing.
Breathing in fluids was mildly uncomfortable, but Blacklight had taken that into consideration, and did all they could to relax him.
In his new calm state, Balak was finally able to think over everything that had happened and was happening. Full comprehension of what was happening finally hit him. The heat of the moment had passed, and all that remained was a single batarian, broken beyond all repair.
Balak wailed in anguish.
The starfish like tentacles of the Zeus Bioship unfurled as it let loose a concentrated beam of subatomic particles. The Collector Dreadnought however was sufficiently shielded against the beam.
More shots hit the sides of the Zeus.
Just as Blacklight was concentrating the bulk of its power on the Collector Dreadnought, they were focusing much of their shots at the Zeus Bioship.
The Collector Cruiser positioned itself as hundreds of broadside turrets fired upon every ship within its sphere of influence. Then there was the spinal mounted cannon, that tore through Bioships with effortless ease.
Any attempts to get closer were stopped by whole swarms of highly mobile Strike Craft and Oculus Drones.
The Normal Collector Cruisers however far less guarded, and were making a slightly easier target, but even they could fire coulombs of subatomic particles, which also cut through Bioships like butter.
That said, the Geth Crafts proved highly mobile and were very capable of taking minimal damage, though complicating matters were the Heretic Geth that the Collectors decided to bring along. Which caused Batarian fleets to attack friendly and unfreably Geth alike.
No doubt that would make things difficult for the Geths plan of joining the Galaxy at large.
Rachni controlled Bioships joined the Batarian fleets, attempting to focus their fire on Collector Vessels, rather than Geth, though when Geth ships inevitably passed in their range they were fired upon with equal force.
The long Tendrils tailing behind the Zeus Bioship pulsed with biotic energy as they conjured a duo of massive Biotic Singularities into existence. Whole Swarms of Oculus Drones were caught in the intense gravitational pull and subsequently torn apart.
From tens of thousands of Kilometers away, volleys of mass drivers and particle beams fired into the assorted fleets of Bioships and Batarian crafts. Many of the Bioships would repositio themselves to take the bulk of the shots, though even still many more slipped through the cracks to eat away at the Batarians ships.
As the battle raged, something escaped unseen.
Conventional FTL without a relay was notoriously slow in comparison, but the advantageous position of the Batarian Home System made it more than sufficient for the needs of the Huskmother.
Its shape had radically changed. After shedding much of its mass to make the living machinery on Khar'Shan, it was little more than its original Eclipse Ship, though it was now filled to the brim with the merged flesh and machinery of Saleons Children. It moved away from the battles, escaping the gravitational pull of Khar'Shan and heading outside the Harsa System.
It would take long for it to reach its destination in Dark Space, but it was a timeframe that the Catalyst found acceptable.
As it left the system, the last ship of the civilians passed the Relay on the other end of the Galaxy. The Batarian Fleets were soon to go afterwards, each one following Geth and Rachni ships to places where they could lick their wounds and prepare for another bout.
Bioships were the last one to go through, though not all of them.
Those who remained behind however, began to move to attach to a new target.
The Relay itself.
Due to the unique capabilities of Blacklight, they knew far more about the exact inner workings and strange mechanisms of Mass Relays than any other species in existence, baring the Reapers of course. Their unique cellular structure allowed them to seap deep within the Reays and learn of its various esoteric functions.
As the Bioships Spread across the Batarian Relay, they grew deep into the Relay itself, and from their mass formed a massive Brain Hive. The tentacles sunk deeper and deeper into it, before they reached the innermost parts.
Syncing with the Relay, they began to activate a rarely used protocol.
Every Relay, without fail could not be build without a massive amount of element zero. By creating fluctuations of both positively and negatively charged electricity they took the properties of Element Zero and used it to create an unstable core that would quickly increase and decrease in Relay slowly begin to lose structural integrity as its physical properties changed at ridiculously high speeds.
According to Blacklights calculations, the damage would not take immediately, it would take time before the Relay became nonfunctional. It would be enough time for the last waves of Bioships and Batarian crafts to make it through.
While the Relay would remain whole, it would be damaged, far too damaged for the Children, Collectors, and Husks to escape the system. It could be rebuilt, but it would take time. They would be stuck here. If they decided to find another Relay using the ships emergency FTL, it would take them decades to reach it.
That was the plan.
Shut down the relay, damage it beyond their ability to repair, and strand them there to cripple the Reapers Forces.
Of course, as the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The Collectors were not mindless beasts. Even in their state of subjugation, they could think, plan, and more importantly analyze a situation.
The Collector Dreadnought was crewed by hundreds of millions of the Reapers pawns. Hundreds of thousands were monitoring the battlefield, and it did not escape their notice that Blacklight, their allies, and the Batarians were all seemingly leaving.
Countless algorithms and simulations were run, and as it saw another swarm of Bioships approaching the Relay being followed by the remains of the Batarian battlefleets, the Dreadnought repositioned itself, and activated it's spinal particle cannon, and struck the relay just as the last Civilian Carrying Bioships went through.
In many ways the resulting cascade of Gravitational fluctuations was comparable to a supernova, though on a much smaller scale.
Even still, the result was the same.
It tore apart the molecules of the newly formed Brain Hive, incinerated the straggling Bioships, and exploded outward in every direction.
The wave of destruction tore through space, and the Collector ships, from their vast distance from the Relay, had managed to engage in Conventional FTL and escape it.
As the explosion passed over Khar'shan, it was irrevocably changed. The intense energy changed the very chemistry of the upper atmosphere. Ozone was fused and transmuted into various New elements, while it was far less than what would have resulted if this were a true supernova, it was regrettably enough to cause visible changes.
Much of the world in a new and unfamiliar darkness. As the composition of Khar'Shans Upper atmosphere changed, so to did its light filtering properties. These new elements did not impede the UV radiation from the Batarians own sun, but by malicious irony visible light itself was blocked.
Within the blink of an eye, half of Khar'Shan died. The corpses were collected and gathered while the unfortunate survivors found themselves in a world cast into hell. A world of darkness, of fighting abominations and gods, of unfiltered radiation given to them by the very sun that once kept them alive.
Some of Blacklight remained behind and had survived the changes. They continued to fight the Children of Saleon, who likewise seemed as unaffected by the cataclysm as them.
Many Collectors also survived as the Burning will of Harbanger took them over.
Though Blacklight was vastly outnumbered, and were likely to fall here, they fought on. It was possible that Khar'Shan could be rebuilt, perhaps even restored, though the timeframe of returning Khar'Shan back to anything resembling its former self would take even them hundreds of thousands of years.
The biomass of Blacklight scattered. Some hiding to watch and relay everything they saw back to the Hive. Others found any survivors in this hell to make them an offer. An offer to be consumed and saved in some form.
Most did not.
The ones who refused would be protected, for as long as Blacklight were able. There was no hope for them to survive this new world, but those who refused would have guardians to keep them safe until their inevitable end.
The Batarian Homeworld of Khar'shan, the very cradle of their civilization, the planet that gave birth to them, was no more.
Balak felt empty.
There was no rage, no malice, no fear, no anything. Just pure unbearable emptiness. A loss of something within him that he couldn't put into words. He could never have imagined such a scenario, to know that his home, was being snuffed out like a candle in the wind.
Billions dead, Billions more homeless and lost.
The jewel of the Hegemony was now a world of darkness and death.
Within such a short time frame, the span of only a few weeks, everything had changed.
Idly, he wondered if this was how the Quarians felt during the Geth Rebellion, but this was so much more than that.
The Quarians Homeworld was still unchanged, it was still there. It wasn't infested with nightmares, demons, and gods that defied comprehension. It wasn't cast into an endless night. If the Geth were destroyed tomorrow, they could return, they could rebuild.
But if the abominations and beasts on Khar'Shan suddenly disappeared, Khar'Shan was still an uninhabitable wasteland cast in darkness. More so than Tuchanka had ever been.
The shoreline crumbled before it was swallowed by the sea, the cities were infested with abominable hybrids of flesh and machine that would eat and devour all in their path. People, animals, vehicles, landmarks, and whole buildings were shoveled into gaping maws that chewed them to pieces to vomit up the screaming dead. The skies were cast in darkness that extended to grip the whole planet in an inky blackness that hid a planet wide hellscape of nightmares and demons that tirelessly searched for more to consume and devour.
The Garden World of Khar'Shan, within a single moment, became a broken world that slaughtered all who were trapped on it.
How does one deal with something like that. How do you handle the knowledge that you left behind billions in Absolute Hell.
Balak observed his surroundings. Anything to prevent his mind to deceive him with painful realization. A bioluminescent sac of oxygenated fluids, surrounded by millions more of his kin, of his species.
The Species he left behind.
Balak was thrown into the claws of a soul crushing, existential dread that interrupted his thoughts and slowly creep its way through his very being.
The once emptiness he felt had been cast aside in favor of an unbearable maelstrom of raw emotional suffering.
Only his treacherous mind forcing him into an absolute agony of painful emotions that tore him at the seems.
Before he could fully break however, it changed.
Balak felt his mind open as he was enveloped in a billion voices. All speaking as one.
Using the melding abilities of the Asari, Blacklight told Balak everything. They showed him everything.
And he was not the only one.
To the survivors of Khar'Shan, the universe was laid bare. The truth was revealed.
Knowledge of the endless cycles upon endless cycles.
Visions of a madman creating the very things that now infested their homeworld.
Glimpses of a single God Machine tearing Shanxi apart.
Blacklight provided insights into the reason of their cradles fall.
They were shown the creation of the Children of Saleon.
They were shown the battles of Virmire and the lengths the Reapers were willing to go.
Blacklight did not spare any detail to the survivors.
They had the right to know everything.
They were shown Blacklights attempts at changing their culture.
Nothing was kept from them. No lies, no half truths, only the absolute truth.
They had lost so much, and they deserved to know why.
Even still however, as the truth of things were revealed to them, they were comforted. Blacklight whispered calming words into their minds. They let the Batarian know that this tragedy would not happen again, that they would be cared for. Blacklight did all they could to ease the grief.
An advantage of being an entity composed of an entire Civilizations of conjoined minds was that Blacklight knew the innermost workings of the brain and mind in all of its forms, allowing Blacklight to know, in just the right way, how to speak and care for each individual Batarian.
Backlight then let the survivors know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, they would help fix this in any way that they could. That with all of its power, they would help make things right.
They were shown methods of atmospheric manipulation, of how Khar'Shan could perhaps one day be restored. It would be long, but Blacklight wanted to help. Needed to help.
They were told that one day, perhaps not in their life times, but eventually, they could recreate Khar'Shan.
They were shown the DNA of various life forms the Batarians had gifted Blacklight. They were shown how they could be brought back from extinction.
They were shown cities being rebuilt by titans of flesh and muscle.
They were then given the knowledge of Blacklight's absolute conviction in making Khar'Shan as it once was. That no matter what, Blacklight would do sacrifice anything they had to fix this.
Balak, despite the agony inside, felt Blacklights capacity for limitless compassion, and it was being directed at him, and his people.
He knew, within his very soul, that Blacklight did not speak empty words. He could feel the truth in every word, phrase, and sentence. He knew with all of his being that they would do everything they could, no matter the cost to themselves, to fix this.
As the meld ended, The voices were gone. Balak closed his eyes. A sense of calm washing over him as he was cared for by billions of strangers bereft of masques and facades who eased his mind, shared in his worries, and silenced his doubt.
Despite everything, Balak was at peace.
Saren continued to stare at the bent barrel before him. The investigation into the disappearance was still ongoing. Saren was only able to be a part of the initial investigation due to his Specter Status. When there, he found the barrel, and even though those who spearheaded the investigation said that Desolas status was unknown, Saren knew the moment he saw the barrel that Desolas was dead.
He looked to his companion, the Asari Matriarch whose attention he attracted. He idly wondered what it was about him she found so fascinating. Though he was thankful for the distraction she provided. No matter how minor.
He was drawn from his musings when she decided to speak.
"The Ban on Blacklight has been lifted."said Matriarch Benezia as she observed the Turian before her.
His demeanor was calm despite the news.
"I don't pay Blacklight much mind, at least not compared to Desolas."
"I would think that a soldier who was there during the first contact war might have some malice towards Blacklight. You were there, Weren't you?"
"It was different during the War for me than the other Soldiers of the 23rd Turian Fleet. I wasn't strictly apart of it. I was on off duty as I awaited for my Specter Status. I never did enjoy staying still for very long so I decided to spend it with my Brother to catch up. I simply requested a Transfer to his ship, with my status at the time it was easy enough. We never expected anything to happen for a routine Patrol, so things were much more lax at the time. It was practically a vacation in comparison to what I usually deal with, at least it should have been before Blacklight showed up."
Saren shrugged as he went back to the Barrel in his hand.
"I was stuck in a completely non-functioning ship for the whole thing. I only saw screens, I never saw Blacklight face to face. I never really had a reason to hate them. Other than the fact they are literally disgusting, I don't have much of an opinion towards them one way or the other."
Benezia honestly found that news somewhat surprising, and she voiced it as such.
Desolas shook his head.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Do you know why Desolas was on Virmire in the first place?"
The asari shook her head. It was something that she could never find out. She thought it rude to just ask him outright.
"It calls itself Harbinger. It commands the Collectors...or controls them. Desolas was willing to work with it, but my curiosity got the better of me. I asked my usual sources. Eventually the name Harbanger lead me to the word Nazara. I listened to recordings of Nazara. It sounded just like Harbanger. From there, I learned of the Reapers."
Benezia knew of the rumors. She made sure to keep current with all valuable information. A certain volus had revealed such beings, but she paid it no mind. Saren however, by the look on his face seemed to believe that such an entity did indeed exist.
"If the rumors are to be believed there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of them. One caused the Second Blacklight Rampancy. Imagine what a million can do."
"You believe the Rumors?"
"You didn't see the things they were making on Virmire. Blacklight destroyed that place..."
"We can't confirm that Blacklight was the reason your brother went missing."
"I saw the ruins, It was Blacklight. Do not interrupt me again." Said Saren.
Benezia only nodded.
"Blacklight destroyed that place because they were afraid of the Reapers. It is the only explanation that makes sense. You know what Blacklight can do, and yet there is still something they fear. Can you imagine what something that powerful can do?"
It was sudden. FOr one moment everything was normal, if tense, then the room exploded with activity. A short chattering sound of static filled the air and the lights flashed.
Saren looked to the thing before him. His eyes widened as he looked face to face with Desolas himself. It took a moment to notice however that this wasn't strickly Desolas. It looked like him, but he carried himself wrong. Saren knew Desolas as well as he knew himself, and this thing was Not Desolas.
Then the unmistakable flicker of a hologram passed over the false image of his fallen brother.
"Who or what are you?"
Benezia, who was startled by the intruder, was already glowing with biotic energy as Saren spoke.
Then the image changed, and her powers died down.
The turian before her turned to meet Benezia's eyes, and was replaced by the familiar image of her daughter, Liara.
"I am the Catalyst."
Saren felt his plates itch as he felt hot breath on his neck, and faint whispers in his ear, he turned for only a moment, ready to punce, only to see there was nothing behind him.
"Passive scans of your brain's electrical activity indicate an abnormality in your beta waves indicating you have been touched by Indoctrination."
Saren gripped his head as the whispers got louder, he remembered Virmire, he remembered the miasma of Paranoia that swallowed the place.
He remembered his desperation to escape those whispers.
He remembered how he had jumped at the opportunity to leave that place.
He remembered that he left Desolas alone on that planet.
Perhaps if he was there, things would have been different.
Maybe Desolas would still be here if Saren were there.
Saren took the ship they arrived in.
He stranded Desolas.
His guilt laid bare before him. A sinking feeling of pain came as the whispers became more and more unbearable, but just as it was about to cross a new threshold, it changed.
Saren opened his eyes.
The Whispers were gone, there was still a sound, but it wasn't those accursed whispers. Instead, he heard a soft chant, a lullaby, or something like it. It was barely there, just under his hearing, but it was tangible. It was distinct.
It was beautiful.
"We cannot silence the whispers, but we can make them more bearable."
Saren took a breath. The image changed again.
Bathed in amber light was Desolas once more.
"Why are you here? What are you? What is going on?"
The guilt gone, Saren found his mind clearer than it had been in a long time. The last time he felt like this, Desolas was surrounded by thousands of glasses filled with liquor. Each one in memory of those who died in first Contact.
Since seeing his brother in such a state, Saren found himself in a haze he never noticed there, one that had lifted.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of Saren. Your brothers death was not your fault."
Saren, annoyed that the creature did not answer his question, was about to speak, when he fully comprehended what it had said.
Benezia had enough of this.
"How did an AI get on the Citadel?"
The being, that had called itself Catalyst, looked to Benezia, once more assuming the form of a much younger Liara.
"I have always been here. The Citadel is my Home. It is a part of me."
The Catalyst turned to Saren.
"The Reapers were never the Solution."
"We Harvest advanced civilizations, leaving the younger ones alone. After civilizations are harvested, they were archived. We archived them so they may one day experience the true Solution. That Solution was dubbed Synthesis, it is the final evolution of all life. We have long known of the possibility of Synthesis, but the mechanism eluded us, until now. We have finally found the missing component for Synthesis to Manifest."
"That still doesn't explain why you are here."
"The process for Synthesis has already begun. The wheel is broken, and the Cycles will finally end. This will not be a harvest, it will be salvation. Synthesis requires a voice."
"My children in Dark Space have suffered for aeons so they may experience it. Their torment will be brought to its end. Each cycle was watched, analyzed, and catalogued. We knew that one day the missing piece would come. A species unlike any other. That species just needed room to grow."
"Not directly. From the Flesh of Blacklight it was built. By the hands of a Salarian it was molded. By my will it was refined. It is life that achieved Synthesis and can impose Synthesis on all it touches. It only requires a few more modifications before it is ready to be implemented. It is Hope. I am asking you Saren to give the coming hope of Synthesis a voice."
"I...I... I don't understand."
"We know, but you can be made to understand Saren. There is a route in the Relay Network, one that what you call Reapers use to reach the Galaxy. It is inactive. The Previous Cycle sabotaged that route, but you can open the way. Go to the Omega-4 relay. We will provide you the method to pass through. If you agree to be my voice then go there. All your questions can then be answered."
The figure of Desolas flickered once more, before it vanished. Saren stared at the point where it once was for a moment, before he looked to Benezia. Her eyes were still glued to the spot. He took a step towards her, and immediately her eyes were on him.
"If I leave now, I can get out of here before the Refugees flood in. Are you coming?"
Benezia looked at Saren. There was an odd look to him she just could not fully define. Determination was there, but there was something else. He carried himself just a bit better, as if a weight had been lifted on his shoulders.
"You are going?"
"The whispers are gone, replaced by a melody unlike any I have ever heard. It took away whispering doubt and accusing guilt. If it can do that then I have to go, before the Whispers come back."
Immediately Saren turned to leave. The bent barrel at his feet was quickly lifted and pocketed as he made his way towards the door. Saren did not stop after he heard the footsteps behind him, but he did glance at Benezia as she easily caught up. Her face betrayed her reluctance, but her actions did not falter. The worry and hesitance left her face as they made their way to the Elevator.
"Why are you coming?" asked Saren
"It is in my nature to help those who are lost, especially those who are trusted to act as Specters. I do not exactly approve of this action, but I said I would help you, I intend to do so."
Saren looked at her as the elevator opened. The Duo stepped out, fleeing the Citadel long before the first flood of Refugees arrived.
A/N: I did a lot of research on what happens if a Supernova were to happen close enough to hit Earth. Then as I completed my research, I found a video on youtube talking about Halo Rings that covered everything I learned. Had I found that video before actually researching I could have saved myself a lot of time.
Anyway, seeing as Humans and Batarians can breathe the same air without breathing equipment of any kind, I'm assuming that Khar'Shan has an atmosphere damn near identical to that of Earth's.