A/N: I know it's not very long, but I figured I'd at least get something out for you all, so here we go.

Chapter 64 - They Come

Morinth was thoroughly enjoying the current turn of events. This new visitor or whatever, Garrus was right up her alley. He was a mellow fellow, especially for a Turian. Not only that, but he had a pet abomination originally designed to function as living coolant, now changed into a cool pet… pun very much intended. Frosty as Garrus christened the little guy, was a chill dude as well, somewhat excitable, and that was just the tip of the iceberg… heh. Anyway, Frosty was amorphous, like all of the Coolant Breed, but to a much greater degree. By using ice to form skeletal-like structures, Frosty could take on basic shapes and hold them rather easily. Currently, vaguely at least, Frosty resembled a featureless Varren. Just in shape mind you, but to the extent that he could walk around instead of ooze back and forth. Which meant one thing to Morinth.

"Fetch!" said Morinth as she threw the hand warmer.

Frosty took off, his feet moving like paws on a freshly waxed floor, slipping and sliding around as he clumsily ran towards the thrown hand warmer before enveloping it with what can charitably be called a face, only to trot his way back to Morinth. Taking the hand warmer from the little goodest boy, Morinth tossed it again, and watched the slipping and sliding resume.

"He likes you. Normally he doesn't return those until they're frozen solid."

"I'm good with animals. I do have the memories of every human zookeeper and caretaker. Frosty reminds me of… umm… I'm vaguely recalling something called a dog… and an ostrich."

"I don't know what either of those are," said Garrus with a nod.

"Furry Varren and a long necked feathery version of your prehistoric ancestors respectfully."

'Without the arm talons,' said Shepard in Morinth's mind.

"Without the arm talons," repeated Morinth.

"I see," said Garrus simply as Frosty dropped the hand warmer at Morinth's feet.

It was at this time Alex Mercer walked in. The face of Blacklight himself… itself? Whatever.

He looked vaguely bored, slightly on edge, and 100% done with absolutely everyone's shit at the moment. Morinth did wonder what was with his omnipresent hood, now that she thought about it, she didn't think that he ever showed up without it, so much so that there was some debate on the extranet as to whether or not he was bald or not, Morinth put a bet out that he did have hair, an unfair advantage considering that she did share his memories and thus knew for sure, but credits were credits. Alex cleared his throat as he looked around the room.

"Alright, everyone's here, for the most part. Welcome to the team, right now, I'm going to upgrade our chances from 'zero' to 'likely hopeless'. You've all been assembled for one reason and one reason only. We're going to give the Reapers a hysterectomy."


"I'm sorry what?" asked Garrus.

Alex shrugged… before a multi-limbed… bug... thing scuttled from the same Throat-Hall Alex had walked from. It vaguely resembled the Collectors, but where they were somewhat humanoid, this creature had a larger head, a short body, and far too many bug-like limbs.

"Greetings, I am the acting General of the Awakened Collectors. Avatar of Command."

Alex nodded before turning back to everyone.

"Fun fact, the Collectors are the last remaining remnants of the Prothean species. They have been twisted by the Reapers. We managed to free a couple of them from their control, but this guy here is unique. The Protheans chose certain people as avatars, or exemplars, of particular traits: bravery, strength, cunning. In the General's case, his is Command." Said Alex.

"WHAT!?" said a sudden blur of blue that stopped in front of the General… who turned to the sudden Liara T'soni who was inspecting him.

"I have so many questions," she said as she placed a hand on either side of the General's head and stared deeply into his… multiple eyes.

Morinth simply watched as Liara turned into what her memories of human culture told her was a textbook example of a fangirl. The signs were all there, Liara hadn't so much as blinked as her eyes twinkled. Constant questions sputtered out of her at roughly ten words a second, before abruptly stopping. The Collector General vaguely heard a tone to her voice that might have been a questioning one… but… damned if he knew what she just asked.

The Collector General, Avatar of Command, gazed around the room, Morinth snorted a bit, obviously he had been put on the spot by whatever vaguely nerdy thing Liara had asked, but no one was coming to his aid, if only because no one knew exactly what to say. After a moment, the Avatar of Command turned to Liara, who was still smiling at him, waiting patiently for him to say something… after a moment, the Collector General spoke.

"My answer is...Yes," said the Collector General.

Liara's smile fell… just a bit, but she still held onto the Generals head… and continued to do so as she just stared into his eyes… blinking in confusion.

"I am… very uncomfortable right now," said the General.

Liara blinked again before rapidly releasing the Generals head.

"Oh… I'm sorry I… I'm an archaeologist, and Protheans are my specialty," said Liara as she pulled the brim of her hat over her eyes.

"I see… I suppose we can… talk afterwards," said the General as his mandibles chittered in what Liara assumed was the Collector equivalent of clearing his throat.

Nevertheless, Liara nodded and smiled.

"I'd like that," said Liara.


"I ship it!" commented Morinth loudly.

"If we're done with that, maybe we can get back to the reason we're all here," said Alex.

"I second that," said Garrus in solidarity.

Alex nodded in appreciation as he crossed his arms. Eventually everyone quieted down.

"Ok then, so we know of two points of contact the Reapers have to the Galaxy. The first is the Eden Prime Relay from Khar'Shan."

Balak growled.

"The second is past the Omega-5 Relay, where a new Reaper is being born, we're going to abort it, or more specifically you all are."

The room became uncomfortably quiet until Garrus spoke up.

"Oh, and here I was expecting something simple because... what?"

Alex nodded.

"It's also the home to the Enslaved Collectors. Other than being a womb of sorts, the System is used primarily for creating new weaponry, think of it as the active immune system of the Reapers, they make and test new weapons, then share that data with the rest of them, who put it to practice. Take it out, and their development slows. The only issue was that we needed an IFF from the Reapers to get there, we initially failed to get one thanks to sabotage, however our awakened friends here, kind souls that they are, gave us one."

With this is Collector General stepped forwards on his many skittering legs.

"We possess knowledge to build and maintain our equipment. We repaired the IFF we initially sabotaged."

From here Alex took over.

"And that is why you'll all be given this beauty, if I may draw your attention to the window."

Everyone turned, right as a massive cruiser drifted into the station to dock. Not just any Cruiser, but a Collector Cruiser, or at least what was once a Collector Cruiser. This thing looked more like a Bioship. It had tentacles and eyes all along its surface, with solar sails that looked like membranous wings.

"The Zeus-Class Hybrid Ship, part tech, part biology, and Outfitted with a Reaper IFF. We Call him Normandy, but he prefers Joker instead. So, call him Normandy, it'll annoy him," said Alex.

Immediately afterwards, a voice came from all around.

"I heard that… Dick!"

Nazah took a deep breath as she calmed her nerves. She was to be a part of the ground forces on Eden Prime and had been stationed here for months now. Armed with chemical flamethrowers and fully sealed yet lightweight power armor. Nazah began to arm her flamethrower, attaching the tank to her back as the pneumatic pumps began to distribute and pressurize the chemicals throughout her flamer. Aiming towards the testing fields she fired.

This wasn't anything like the flamer she used during the Citadel Rampancy of Blacklight, no this was essentially a napalm launcher, able fire globs of napalm instead of a continuous stream, and it did so at extremely long distances with relatively good accuracy, upon contact, the resulting Splash damage would adhere to the target and keep on burning. It was more a mortar than a traditional flamethrower. The chemical mixture itself was designed to burn hot for as long as possible, nearly impossible to extinguish.

As the fields in the distance was set ablaze, a nearby Salarian, one who had aided in the construction of these flamers was taking notes. Nazah just stood and waited, until.

"It's use as a bombardment tool is paramount, but I think we can add area denial to it as well," said the Salarian.

That was the only real downside to this weapon. It was designed as a Bombardment tool, so anything getting too close would just result in Nazah catching fire along with whatever she shot, but if anything got too close, it would essentially become dead weight, and it was not a light piece of equipment by any means. Looking around, there were dozens of Asari Commando's all wielding the same kind of flamer, all outfitted with the same lightweight armor designed primarily for mobility. It was why they were chosen to weird these weapons. Asari was naturally biotic, and with the Biotic Charge, they could easily get out of any potentially dangerous situations involving close quarters combat with relative ease, or at least that was the plan. They had run drills, and the tactic seemed sound, but no one really knew what the Reapers would bring to the table.

They had been left to their own devices for far too long, and had access to the Children of Saleon, so there was no telling what was in store for the future. The footage of what happened to the Batarian homeworld was telling though.

Nazah put away her flamer, where the weapons teams would check it over to ensure it was in good condition for when the war came. Idly, she looked to the rooftops, each one tipped with an Anti-Air turret as well as the hundreds of Asari Commandos split between dozens of multiple squads atop each building, all going through their own drills. This location was the main port for Eden Prime, and while the civilians were to be evacuated when the time came, Batarian soldiers were still here. There was no doubt that the Reapers would try to take this planet as a launching point for further expansion across the Galaxy, and this port was needed in case a retreat was ordered, but if they could hold it, then they could slow down their expansion, at least in theory.

While the Reapers did need this system, with it being only a single jump away from their territory, they more than likely had their own operations they needed to do. Still, if they could keep Eden Prime, then they could use it as their own launching point to Khar'shan and potential sabotage missions. As such Eden Prime was a tactical necessity for both sides, and whoever controlled it very well could control the tides of war.

Nazah stood sullen as she looked over the green fields and light settlements outside the port walls. It was difficult to imagine that soon, maybe weeks or months from now, this place would become a hellscape.

She could only hope they were ready.

Adrien Victus had fought against Blacklight when they first made their appearance to the Greater Galaxy. He was only a private at the time. He witnessed the grotesque tactics employed by Backlight firsthand and managed to be one of the few Turians to make it to the surface of Shanxi and survive the airborne variant of Backlight simply by being isolated at the time. He wasn't the only one to survive that day, but the event did lead him with a drive that never truly left, so much so that he eventually ascended the ranks again and again until he became a general. Now here he was, ready to fight alongside Backlight against something demonstrably worse than they could ever hope to be.

A squad of armored Turians wielding arc projectors stood alongside Backlight Juggernauts, large heavily armored beasts that could wreathe themselves in electricity. They were hulking beasts, resembling a horrific combination with a Krogan and an Elcor, but with mace-like arms, curved horns, and an elongated Varren-like snout filled with teeth.

The theory was that mechanical components could be overloaded with electricity and short circuit, while also interfering with whatever parody of a nervous system the husks had. If that didn't work, well the Juggernauts were still 3 meter tall hulking monsters with more strength than ten angry Krogan, and the squad could switch to their secondary weapons, Collector Particle Beams. One of the newer weapons in their arsenal. They were a piece of technology created by the Collectors and gifted to Backlight after they managed to free them from the Reapers Control.

The squad all stood shoulder to shoulder as they fired. Their target for this drill was nothing special, just an old vehicle piloted by a relatively simple VI to test the effects of their weaponry on electronics at various distances. STG agents of the Salarian Union would oversee the project, keeping notes and performing various tests to make sure everything was in working order. Thus far, it seemed like everything would go well, though that was always the assumption.

It was rare that plans survived contact with the enemy, and this enemy was as unknown as they come. Adrien was not afraid to admit that he felt out of his depth. Even alongside a multitude of armies, Blacklight amongst them, he couldn't get the images of the Fall of Khar'Shan out of his mind. The decayed things that crawled out of their ocean, and the titanic monster that swallowed entire cities.

It was only the continued presence of the Batarian military, or at least, what remained of it, that gave him some kind of peace. They had seen the horrors of the Reapers first hand, and even still, here they were, ready to fight once more. None of them looked scared, they all had this air of anger and hate about them, but not fear. Adrien took comfort in that.

After all, he wasn't going to let a Batarian show him up.

Matriarch Lidanya, captain of the Destiny Ascension watched at the fields of mines that were placed all around the Relay. Antimatter was a truly terrifying material, and there were hundreds of these mines, if not thousands. Lidanya didn't even know that there was that much Antimatter in existence, or at least not that much available to the races of the galaxy, not even when put together.

Turning away, she looked to her fleets. She was to be the flagship for the coming battle, all with a fleet of various ships from various races, all gathered in one location. That included Blacklights own arsenal, which consisted of countless bioships and their organic hiveships, which were truly massive organisms. They somewhat resembled bioships in appearance, though were massive enough to carry them around using the irregular cluster of honeycombed holes all along it's back, holes that were big enough to house bioships.

Hive Ships were disturbingly large, being closer to the size of a Mass relay. It should be barely mobile, at best, but while it wasn't the fastest ship at Blacklights disposal, it was able to move faster than one would think.

The way it moved around with gently flowing tentacles and that flattened arrow shaped head was… disturbing. Even after seeing much of what Blacklight had at their disposal, Lidanya never could quite get used to it. They were just so… visceral in appearance. She supposed that's what happened when ones entire species was what amounted to plague infested cancer.

What Plague? All the Plagues, never enough Plagues.

It also didn't help when Blacklight released new media, like that Warhammer series. Now it made so much more sense why Alex sometimes called himself Papa Nurgle.

That disturbing thought aside Lidanya looked back to the Really for in the distance, before sighing.

It wouldn't be long now.

Though she had no idea it was to open much sooner than anyone expected.

1 Week Later

As with most things, the day started normally. Drills were done, weapons were tested, supplies delivered. It had started off so mundane really. Another day in a sea of them. What was to follow was as abrupt as it was terrifying.

The Mass Relay activated, and Hell came spilling out.

Exiting FTL was a misshapen flood of body parts stretching and rolling across the void of space. It swelled forwards, reaching out with intent before it hit the first antimatter mine. Immediately, it was unmade by the resulting explosion. Chunks of meat and metal splattered everywhere as more things came spilling out. Each one caught in the explosion. One resembled a Reaper, if vaguely, only it was a mass of ships tied together by muscle, tendon, and gristle, barreling through the explosions.

More fell, being destroyed again and again as the Antimatter mines flew towards them, each time releasing multiple explosions, until the entire field of view was swallowed by a sea of bright lights and slag. Burning metal and dust that writhed and thrashed before becoming little more than dust. Soon all that remained was burnt rubble, before more came spilling out. The next wave of mines moved.

Across the system, the early warning alarms blared as the fleets were mobilized. Some stoically, others in subdued panic. On these waiting ships, Generals of a myriad of armadas could only watch as the horrors were swallowed by intense explosions.

Standing on a ship tens of thousands away from it, Matriarch Lidanya, captain of the Destiny Ascension could only stare at the eyes, eyes that erupted like blisters from every aspect of its body, moving around to see the world around them. In what she assumed was the 'front' of the creature was a pair of vertically aligned compound eyes, flanked on either side by muscular limbs ending in a pair of extremely sharp barbs. It twisted around the mines, but ultimately failed to avoid them all, even still, the sheer bulk of the creature left more than enough Biomass for it to continue forward, even as it smoldered.

It didn't seem to have a mouth. Instead located directly underneath the eyes were two small limbs tipped with metal blades, small being relative, they were more than large enough for impaling starships. All of it was entombed in the shell of a Reaper. Every twitch of movement was accompanied by electro-static discharge, one of which struck the Destiny Ascension, not enough to damage it, but the comms came on for no reason, and began blaring what Lidanya could only assume was the machine-beasts vocalizations. Shrill, fierce, and slightly electronic noises that somehow called from each and every speaker simultaneously, before words came out like a demented sermon.

"SALVATION THROUGH SYNTHESIS!" Spoke a thousand voices in a thousand tones and vocal inflections, and behind the voices, were the screams of the damned who burned in a sea of flames.

The beasts were still far away from the assembled fleets, as her fleet broke off, she watched the Reapers initial wave fall to the myriad of mines, of which there were so many. It was comforting to know that no matter what, there wouldn't be much left of this first wave, still they were learning, of that there was no doubt. This massive beast was purposely colliding with mines, until it was only a stream of glowing embers, then another single stellar leviathan came out to continue where it left off.

Each new beast was utterly annihilated, but there were so few. Unlike before, there were no massive swarms coming out, just singular massive beasts that came to sacrifice themselves to get rid of as many mines as it could, yet the Salarian Union spared no expense, realistically this could take a while with the sheer weight of how many were fielded. Lidanya expected they depleted all of their Antimatter in this opening move, probably the collective Antimatter of all species apart from the Citadel, just to make so damn many mines.

The serpentine abomination twisted and turned through space, swatting at the mines and allowing the explosion to annihilate sections of their segmented bodies.

Then the ships opened fire.

Standing with her Squad, Nazah went to the edges of the building where she saw the artillery begin to roll out, hundreds of them swarming the landscape, separating out so as not to present too large a target. Flying above a duo of absolutely massive Bio-Drakes of Blacklight headed towards the Horizon. Much of Blacklight was present on the planet, while they did have Bioships in orbit, to Nazah's knowledge, those were primarily Rachni crafts, which was to say Bioships with Rachni inside of them… still counted. Looking up to the sky, she could see the flashes of light as the Antimatter mines continued to explode again and again, even from the surface, and millions of miles away they were plainly visible from here, which was actually doing a fairly good job of quelling her nerves.

Dwelling on it no longer, she went to her post, ready to defend the port before all hell broke loose.