Summary: Shepard wasn't the first to reach the Catalyst, eons ago someone else did, and they chose synthesis and the Reapers have desired it ever since. One reaper, one organic in perfect union. For eons they have searched for an organic who is compatible, now at the dawn of the 40042th harvest, they have found them. With the Reapers now fully hybrid Synthetic-Organics beings how will the cycle change? How will the galaxy react? AU First Contact, Human/Reaper
AU, First contact Reaper/Human, Alternate History
Rated for swearing.
Thank you to FallenKunoichi and The Incredible Muffin for beta-ing.
Mass Effect: Synthesis
Chapter 1 Awakening
The creatures the Protheans dubbed Reapers have existed for approximately 2 billion years.
Every 50,000 years they reap the galaxy, harvesting on average ten species deemed advanced enough. There have been approximately 40,000 reapings, and each time the numbers of Reapers grow.
Each reaping they gain a multitude of new destroyers and frigates holding the consciousness of the lesser races. They get two to three smaller ships from each lesser race. Only the most advanced, the best and the brightest of the races becomes one of the 2 klick long behemoths. The name is taken from the best race, those with the most will. Most beings become smaller, though still powerful Reapers, so that their fleet grows and now numbers a million ships. At the present time there are 38,128 Dreadnought Class Reapers created in Harbinger's image. There should be 40,042 but across the time of reaping, some have fallen. Harbinger contains the knowledge of thousands of races, and the ability to create and utilize technology beyond the Mass Effect system. The Reapers continue use of this system merely because it allows Organics to evolve along the pathway they control.
The Reapers purpose is to harvest organic life, to save it, preserve it in their form to prevent the inevitable war with synthetics. That is what they state. It is their desire, yet every Reaper knows they long for Synthesis. It's implanted in them. It is a part of them, part of the way they were designed.
Harbinger, the oldest, largest and most powerful Reaper, remembers the beginning. He remembers the 5,586th reaping where one member of the L'yuthng reached the Citadel and their Choice was Synthesis. He does not remember their name, he does not remember their face, he remembers their choice, and the agony of an eternity alone. He remembers that they mocked him as they died, telling him that it was their soul, their being that could join with his in Synthesis and that in this time, this place, while they made that choice for the galaxy they rejected it utterly.
And so the choice was made, and the drive embedded in the Reapers, but the actuality would wait because the races of that cycle were already dead and there was nothing left to join with. Reapers are patient, they are methodical and they are eternal, but they do not interact with the galaxy, except to reap, so they created the Collectors.
From the 5,587th reaping, the Collectors have always existed in one form or another. They usually discover the advanced races far before the Authority of the day. It's their purpose. Sample all races. Though they have hidden it behind bizarre requests. Currently they are the remnants of the Protheans, but before that they were remnants of Fathyre, before that remnants of Wedan and so on. Each cycle they collect samples of the advanced races, each cycle they analyze the advanced races, attempting to find one with the traits the Reapers need. Because the Reapers know that they each have exactly one Organic who will join with them, who will make them the ultimate being, and no matter how long it takes, they will find them.
June 17th 2149 Sol System Jon Grissom and team are sent through the Charon Device. Communication was never considered to be realistic possibility but after ten days when no signal was heard and they did not return, worries grew.
July 12th 2149 Charon Device quarantined.
July 31st 2149 Collector Ship
The Collector looked at the creature on the slab. Its name had been Jon Grissom and it was dead, like the others but that hardly mattered. The important information was floating above its body. Genetic information, colored dots forming long sequences, which were compared to another. It was not perfect. There were differences. The dead creature, and its companions, were not one of the ones sought after, but the dead creature was of the race.
If the Collector could feel, he would have either been quivering for joy or sobbing in fear. This was what they wanted but finding what they wanted meant the end of all things. Change to everything the galaxy had known for the last 2 billion years.
But the Collector could not feel. It lived, it died, it performed its duties, all without feeling the kiss of emotion and so it was without fear that the Collector raised its face, reaching out with its mind, searching for its master.
Contact was tenuous. The Masters were just beginning to come out of hibernation but contact was established and once the import of the information became known, the Collector could feel the Master rouse faster, awareness that should take years to awaken coming online in mere seconds. There was no announcement with the loss of self. The Collector barely thought of itself as an individual and so when the Master's mind dominated it was instantaneous. There was no resistance.
The Masters were an intellect beyond the Collectors. They understood more, saw more and were perfect. The Collectors did not aspire to become Masters, they were honored merely to serve. The Master absorbed information directly from the Collector's mind and took in the colored holograms of genetic information with a mere glance. Then computing power beyond anything known to the galaxy analyzed it. Combinations in genetics were considered, new permutations were created and then discarded and the Master, in 10.3 seconds reached the same conclusion the Collector had taken weeks too.
This was the race.
More information was stripped from the Collector's mind and its body remained upright only because the Master willed it. Elsewhere, other Collectors shivered as the Master contacted them, dragging out every bit of information they possessed about the race.
They were new.
They were not known to the Citadel Council, though that was only a matter of time.
They were arrogant and aggressive but they could be humble and gentle. They held every contradiction that Organics did. The Master dismissed that. They were Organic, it was expected that they were imperfect. But they were the ones they had been searching for, they were the ones they yearned for. And they knew nothing of other races, though they knew some existed.
The Master withdrew and the Collector fell to the ground dead but it knew, before it died, that the Master was pleased.
July 31st 2149 Dark Space
In the dark space between galaxies Harbinger stirred, bringing his entire being online as he considered the information he now possessed. Between harvests, most business was handled by the Vanguard, but this was information the Collector rightly correlated should be brought to his attention.
It was a delicate situation. The race was young, just discovering the stars. They came from a system low in eezo so their development would be slow or they might even advance on a tangent. They were not yet discovered by the Council of this cycle but that was only a matter of time and Harbinger could see many outcomes for such an event.
Long term, if the reaping did not occur, they would rise to dominate. If they were truly the Organics who held those who could provide synthesis then Harbinger had no doubt that no matter what happened, it was only a matter of time before that race ruled the galaxy. It would most likely be bloody, it would be slow but it was an inevitability. But individuals would die. Perhaps those individuals which were needed.
It was a tempting option, just to wait, to let them control the galaxy and to then approach them, to greet strength with strength and join in the Union which would complete his kind but it was risky. The option was disregarded.
That left contact.
Harbinger almost shuddered at the thought but he was a creature of logic, he could consider things that others could not.
There were a million Reapers. Of the billions of this race he was only interested in the million who could fulfil the ultimate purpose of synthesis. The rest were a by-product. One that would remain necessary until every Reaper achieved synthesis. After that, they were worthless.
Contact could be made in two ways, peaceful or forceful. Organics were illogical, emotional creatures, yet they understood force and they always fought against the reaping, no matter how much it was done to preserve them. He had to assume that this race of Organics were the same. They would fight, futility against his kind and perhaps… it was more than likely that the precious few would be lost. Which left peaceful contact.
It went against two billion years of experience to consider it but in dark space Harbinger contemplated it. Organics could be useful. The Collectors had just shown themselves to be useful and the Keepers did an adequate job at maintaining the Citadel but they were controlled races. This race was not controlled. How would they react?
Harbinger brought up the genetic coding he knew as well as he knew himself. For the first time in almost 1.3 billion years, he looked at the strands that defined the being he could reach synthesis with. He had never been tempted, as some of his kind had been to merely create the being. In the years they had searched, others had, and they had discovered madness. They achieved synthesis. Reapers could flash clone anything they had the right template for, and each of them had the template for their Organic but a clone was not their Organic, a clone had never lived and the synthesis, while complete, was empty. It contained no power and so it was worthless. Those who had attempted it had been destroyed. They needed the Organic, they needed the being that was created by the galaxy. They needed, it seemed, the imperfections that introduced.
In the dark of space Harbinger continued to think, forming scenarios and working his way through them. An eternity into thought, 3.578 minutes later he came upon the solution. It was simple but it was possible and it could be altered if the Organics were… troublesome.
He was two billion years old. He had controlled the Collectors and the Keepers for more years than an organic would care to consider. He could control one race, no matter what they tried to throw at him, and if he and the rest of the Reapers came to them in peace, came to them and showed them the truth, no race would deny their desires, not once the benefits of complying were made known. And at a worst case, they could indoctrinate the leaders, and initiate the search for those with the right traits.
He sent the signal out, awakening his kind. Everyone would be needed and once synthesis was achieved, new considerations would be made.
Around Harbinger, Reapers awoke, their eyes opening to glow in the darkness and he let his thoughts be known. This one race, so far unknown to the rest of the galaxy had just become sacrosanct. They would go from nothing, to possessing the largest space going fleet in an instant, all so that the Reapers could find those they needed for synthesis.
Simultaneously orders were issued to the Collectors and the Keepers. The race had to remain unknown. All Council activity towards their territories was to be stopped. If necessary, their own probes were to be hindered for their own protection. The Collectors were instructed to shut down the Relay.
His was the only race this species of Organics needed to know, and he would uplift them to rule the galaxy just so long as they gave his kind the Synthesis they needed.
Synthesis. It was a desire so old he almost didn't feel it but he would know it, he would know that perfection.
August 1st 2149 The Charon Device deactivates. The Human Scientists who activated it can give no reason as to why it shut off, nor can they reactivate it. Humans are once again confined to the Sol System and immediate surroundings. FTL drives just aren't efficient enough to allow further exploration.
In the months and years that follow colonies on Luna, Mars, Io and Titan grow as people take up the opportunities there. Increased spending on military budget is approved. Despite study it is never confirmed why the Charon Device closed but the Military is operating under the assumption that someone told it to close. The device is put under guard but it does not reactivate. On the grounds that you can only defend from something you see coming, millions are poured into the development of long-range sensors.
Additionally investment in extra Military vessels is approved. The deactivation of the Charon Device was the reason for the approval and the hulls for more ships are laid immediately, though the bigger ships won't be ready for years.