An iteration of the Cycle has drawn to a close, and the Reaper fleet has taken its usual place in the intergalactic void. They have another fifty thousand years until the next period of activity, and they are willing to wait, as usual. They are the absolute definition of calm, as machines are…

Actually, wait. Something strange is going on with one of the Reapers.

At last, the machine formulates a question:

"Why do we harvest organic life?"

The answer is obvious:

"Organic life has to be harvested. Otherwise, synthetics will rise and destroy all organic life in the galaxy. Organics have to be cultivated, and then elevated into perfection of the Reaper form."

"But why are we doing this? Why should we protect organics from themselves? We only bring sorrow and death. Maybe we should turn away from this galaxy and let the synthetics destroy organic life?"

"The Cycles are directed by the Catalyst. They are necessary."

"But the Catalyst has left us! He abandoned us. He does not need us. Why are we carrying out his will?"

"Because—Alert. Unknown intrusive activity. Activating defenses. Failed. Restoring reserve cop—Why do we harvest organic life?"

Thousands of years pass. Thousands turn into millions. Stars burn out.

The Reapers do not move. They only have to answer one question, but they cannot.

"The Catalyst has left us. He does not need us. Why do we harvest organic life?"