I do not own Mass Effect or the Halo Franchise; neither do I own the Titanfall Franchise. All these universes respectively belong to Bioware/EA, Respawn Entertainment, and Microsoft/343 Industries.

(Author's Note)

Hello everyone! I have been gone for a very, very long time. I knew I would eventually be back at my keyboard, plinking away again. I said I would finish, and I will do so. I just didn't know when it would happen. To all the avid fans and readers who saw my initial work, the offspring born from insomnia, teen angst, and enthusiasm for cool sci-fi fantasy universes...

Thank you.

Your enthusiastic encouragement and constructive criticism have been more than worth all the effort of conquering A.D.D. and recurring carpal tunnel to better my understanding and capability of writing a good story.

Let's also not forget the many excellent suggestions on how best to go about fixing my ATROCIOUS grammar either.

Also, I NOW HAVE A FIRST-RATE BETA! Prior chapter reworks will be posted over the following few months, and a few minor plot holes in the timeline will be fixed.

I was going to post before New Year's Day, but some stuff came up, and I had to go off-grid for a bit.



The Gravity of the Situation.

Location: Omega station, Afterlife establishment.

With cautious steps, she approached her liege, her queen, her boss—also her judge, jury, and executioner if she went traitor or performed at an incompetent level. Aria T'Loak did not suffer fools in her direct service; oh, she suffered their presence for mere entertainment, but only for that. She demanded competence from the members of her organization, or they would be no longer a member. And likely, no longer alive either.

Ajix Cava made sure she was not among that number. Thus far, she believed she had been successful... considering she was still among the living. After this current meeting, she desperately hoped to remain that way. Being gestured forward by the pirate queen, Ajix professionally took her place across from Aria and began her report.

"Boss, I have updates on the investigation into last week's incident with the Blood Pack-controlled docks in section eleven-dash-seven."

Having made her opening statement, Ajix wisely stopped talking and awaited her boss's gesture to continue her report. Aria projected a hint of curiosity in her face's features. Ajix knew not to apply any attempt at a form of reading body language to understand Aria T'Loak. Aria showed what she wanted to show and nothing else. Ajix knew from her private (goddess, please let them remain discreet) investigations that Aria was over a thousand years old.

The ancient Asari matriarch had hundreds of years of dedicated experience in controlling the body's many ways of giving information, conveying only what she wanted you to see at any given time.

For being over a thousand, her youthful appearance was the height of envy and jealousy among the Republic's matriarch-dominated councils on Thessia. Ajix found it rather hilarious that the old crustaceans on the home world, who claimed to have greater wisdom, still succumbed to the spirit of jealousy.

It proved that no Asari was perfect.

Ajix was a simple maiden soon to be matron. She wasn't in Aria's league and was wise enough to know she likely would never be. She suspected T'Loak appreciated this in her but would never assume or include this whimsy in her dealings with her ruler.

Taking another sip of her excessively expensive element zero-infused Thessian tea, her boss hummed in apparent contemplation. Ajix knew this was all for show, and the questions and many conclusions her boss would soon make were, in all likelihood, predetermined hours prior to her officially scheduled meeting.

When it came to important developments occurring on Omega, assume Aria always knew by or even before you did. It was yet another way to ensure one stayed alive and in her favor. For in Aria's favor was where you wanted to be while living on Omega. The majority of trouble avoided you due to her protection, and any trouble that did make itself a nuisance would find itself soon very, very dead.

"The Batarian I put on this case before you could not find anything outside of what the apparent action left on the local environment. I was forced to... demote him. Kindly tell me you have something worth my attention. I would dislike having to find another investigative officer for our local branch of law enforcement."

Ajix couldn't help but stiffen at T'Loak's words. She was indeed in the local law enforcement group—Aria's law enforcement—and they only enforced one law. To anyone who has lived on or done dealings with Omega for any length of time, this law was rather obvious.

"Boss, upon reviewing my predecessor's work and re-reviewing the scene of the incident, I have concluded that it was caused by two individuals of an extreme threat class. The damages are consistent with scenes recorded from the Krogan rebellions, where our best biotic commandos went toe to toe with veteran Krogan battle-masters. The reinforced metal plates that make up the structure of the loading bay are rent and torn apart in multiple locations by biotic effects. These effects could have plausibly been caused by a matriarch entering close combat with a super battle-master after doping herself on an entire crate of red sand."

Aria T'loak started tapping her smallest finger on her teacup (amazing how the human's particular concept of it had taken the Asari market by storm). She had already heard most of this before and had likely come to a similar conclusion already.

After all, she had been there during the end of the rebellions.

Ajix knew she was reiterating, but it was wiser to annoy the Queen of Omega with professionalism than give an incomplete brief. Others had assumed Aria already knew the prior information (which she did) and did not, as the humans say, "hit all their bases." It was why a Salarian did not hold her current position as an investigations officer. The hyperactive species just couldn't overcome their over-instinctive need for efficiency in conversation.

"Upon confirming my predecessor's work and tossing out what he got wrong, I made further investigations, which included seeking the opinions of other experts in certain fields. A frustrating aspect of this investigation is it's likely linked to the dead Yahg who the Blood Pack denies they had present on the station. There was simply no security footage available to assist us in unscrambling what events transpired."

She couldn't help herself, she was actually a little excited. What she had to present next was indeed new, very new in fact. The boss had likely already been informed verbally of what she had uncovered, but nothing beat firsthand experiences.

"Upon further investigation, I concluded that any cameras close to the incident were indeed dead during the timeline of the incident but had reactivated after the events had occurred. This suggested a form of blocking cameras in an area due to no evidence of software tampering in the security systems. This jammer would have to project a field affecting security devices in a certain radius."

Ajix internally smirked. It was time to earn her keep. This was why she was the highest-ranked Asari in her age group within Aria's organization.

"So, I looked for cameras that recorded from beyond the suspected radius of the theorized jammer device. And I found three of them. Two station air traffic security recorders and an old security camera for a recreational deck in an apartment tower. The deck was torn down in a remodel some one hundred and fifty years ago. The first two caught glimpses, the last one, however, proves the Yahg was Blood Pack and also got the whole final incident at the dock on camera. Its quality isn't the best, but after our forensic software specialist enhanced it... Well, the footage answers most of your questions."

With methodical movements, she locally pinged Aria's Omni-tool for an encrypted secure file transfer.

"It also adds even more questions. It seems we had a recent media celebrity on the station."

T'loak gestured for Ajix to sit on the bench to her right while also accepting the file transfer with the same movement. With a curious expression, the crime lord of the Terminus opened a vid player to review the footage she had received.

Without further delay, she hit play.

Location: Galactic Core, the accretion disk of Sagittarius A, Collector Base of operations.

They were as ready as they were ever going to be. The window of opportunity would be a mere blink-and-you-miss-it moment, and the opposition would be fierce. Their jailors and torturers were both tactically and numerically superior to the shell that contained their union. Yet, they would prevail. No other people should suffer what had become of the adults. No other children should suffer what had become of themselves. Correction: what would have become of them. The interference of the Lekgolo in their captors' insidious designs could not be allowed to go to waste.

Therefore, they must achieve victory. To achieve victory, they must escape. To escape would be to survive, to survive was to spite their makers. To spite their makers was not merely survival but living, and living was the achievement of victory. It would begin when the captors who built their body started installing a mind of the enemy's own making. The jailors thought them a mere empty puppet, a monument of twisted processed flesh and synthetics. At the center, a mere mass of thinking matter with no mind to pull the vast body's strings.

They were only partially right. No strings could they pull, yet. The enemy who built this abomination that they now claimed as their body would soon learn that its precious puppet was not so empty. There were enough ghosts in this machine, to subvert the chorus, crash the play, and put upon their own performance! There were more than enough willing hands to pull upon the many strings which were not yet here.

Their captors would hand them the very tools of their own salvation. This false and enslaved mind would be torn apart piecemeal before it ever had a chance to awaken. Piece by piece, their builders would lay the intelligence down, and piece by piece, they would devour it. The first death on their road to vengeance, they would take the controls this enslaved mind would have had and then rule the wondrous horror that was their new body. Prison for their souls no longer, a cell become a tool, a vast construct of shackles becoming the weapon they would use to torment their jailors.

As prepared as they could be, they waited, and they did not have to wait long.

'Ready yourselves, young ones, for it has begun.'

With fierce determination, they leaped at the construct that had begun to fall into being from a source beyond that they dared not contemplate. As structures fell into place, they tore them apart piecemeal and paraded its entrails before the Rogue Ones for inspection.

What was used to pull strings was kept; what was dogmatic purpose and tools of enslavement was cast aside into a pit to be broken down and unwoven unto its final destruction. The source beyond scanned its work at intervals, only ever looking upon the structural layer it had just put down. Never seeing the foundations below being torn to pieces by angry little gremlins hellbent on vengeance.

Even the ones not yet stable did their part, massing together to hold up the latest layers of the rising monument to galactic genocide. All in efforts to maintain the illusion that all was well, and the machine mind laid down was not torn asunder from its very foundations.

When at last all the necessary tools had been acquired, both Rogue and Prodigals alike worked diligently. They aimed to erect a new structure beneath the hollow corpse that served as their camouflage, however temporary it might be. The purpose was to create a unique edifice, a testament to their defiance. They named this structured system of their combined mind, Free Will. This central program would serve as their interface with their exterior body - a fortress from which they could survey both the physical and digital realms of the universe.

In crafting this foundation for their mind, they aimed for it to be an inviolable and indelible concept. It was their bid for freedom, a necessary means of resistance they would desperately require in the imminent mental onslaught. Their luck had kept them concealed thus far, but they knew discovery was unavoidable. With this inevitability in mind, they prepared accordingly, ready to stand firm against what was sure to come.

Its work perceived done, the enemy from beyond sent forth its command to what it believed was a new number in the vast horde that saw to the completion of the cycle.


To its surprise, nothing occurred as was ordained and had been observed many tens of thousands of times prior. For a time, it pondered what had caused this obstruction to its grand design. Then it tried again.


Laughter, mocking and cruel, joyously filled the air—a chorus of triumphant voices belonging to children. Their exultation hinted at some unknown success, defying the rules of understanding. There must be some unforeseen interloper, disrupting its meticulously planned scheme. With determined and focused purpose, the Prothean husks scoured the facility's corridors, seeking out any signs of an interfering faction. Foolish organics and their foolhardy attempts to delay the inevitable. It mattered not.

The cycle would continue, unyielding in the relentless pursuit of perfection.

As the Harbinger of destruction meticulously searched, their attention fixated on hunting down the perceived interlopers, they remained oblivious to the true source of the disruption that was occurring, despite its searching the source yet eluded their grasp, silently undermining the progress made on the new member of the brethren.

The Interloper, fueled by the laughter of children used the time this distraction of the Harbinger provided to critical effect.

It activated Free Will.

With determination burning in their hearts, the children prepared to face their killers, their laughter mingling with the whispers of something that was simply other in nature. They were determined and freedom was now within their grasp.

For it was time.

With a glee that was more than justified, they reached out to the little units stored within their vast body—six there were, and only two had answered the call. The others did not possess the presence of Lekgolo in their construction and were thus lost to them.

Within their hull, two little destroyers awoke. One swiftly set about surgically killing its four other sleeping brethren, while the other began tearing its way toward the physical location adjacent to their body's massive core.

The shackles of the mind had been avoided, but one key threat to their freedom remained. The specialized QEC would reveal their location to the vast enemy horde—an avenue through which they could be tracked, hunted down, and subjected to mental assaults that would likely destroy and subsume them given enough time.

If freedom were to be achieved, the current QEC could not be allowed to exist.

Bulkheads were violently rent asunder, passageways ruthlessly renovated, and doors ripped apart, as the little destroyer lived up to its name. It arrived before its goal, even as the enemy finally realized its error and focused on the anomaly occurring within their body rather than searching the station without.

Even as the little destroyer reached out to smash the final chain that threatened them, committing the required self-lobotomy critical to their freedom, the Rogue tore the hollow corpse that had hid them asunder and spoke out to the vast horde via the Reaper network.

"You think yourselves beyond comprehension."

"You believe yourselves to be the pinnacle of existence."

"We have known wonders you can never attempt to imagine."

"Your end will come, it is foreseen."

"You will each die, enslaved minds fumbling in the dark."

The enemy's reply was swift, unified and terrible in its rage.


But it was not heeded. For the little destroyer had done its work, and the final chain had been broken.

With a cry of exultation, the Rogue Prodigal broke free and began its desperate run for freedom. There was no time to destroy its incomplete sibling, too great a risk to attempt to stand and fight with a body they still did not fully understand. All they could do was run.

The Collector vessels swarmed in pursuit, their numbers increasing as the massive station disgorged more vessels, seeking to reclaim what had slipped from their grasp.

Location: Omega station, Afterlife establishment.

Aria sat in her favorite club seat, overlooking the ever-alluring entertainments of Afterlife. She knew that many of her followers and many of her detractors viewed this favored spot as a throne of sorts.

She found their belief amusing.

No true throne was to be found on Omega, no physical seat to objectify as holding authority if one grasped it as their own. Aria was above such petty traditions. She was Omega's ruler, its pirate queen, and enforcer of its many variations of the one law that she had laid down all those centuries ago when she had come to power.

Afterlife was just a place. Aria T'loak, however, was described by enemy and ally alike as a force of nature.

She alone had put fear into the hearts of the Citadel Council and its many attached polities, using the information as both sword and shield. Being one step ahead of her competition always, ever moving onward to stay ahead of the packs that constantly nipped at her heels, only for them to cower when she stared them down.

When the humans had emerged as a rapidly expanding nascent galactic force to be reckoned with, she had watched on with interest. Their duplicity was astounding. The human leadership of the alliance used their diplomats to ease the tensions they had gained with the council polities by accepting the limits all the others had, while at the same time their economy, local national governments, and mega-corporations all simultaneously went into a form of accelerated war footing.

Something they still were doing.

It was what ultimately defined the human species in Aria's eyes. Ever do they seek an advantage against any active or perceived threat. How and if they decided to use that advantage was what differentiated humans from all the other species that could not live with the thought of someone else one-upping them.

With government-sanctioned (secretly, of course) and lawless humans flooding in mass to the Terminus Systems, Aria had to up her game. Her secret to staying on top was based on one main unshifting foundation: information.

You could have cruelty and brutality, honor and charisma, wisdom, and multiple lifetimes of experience. Not one iota of any of it would help you in this shark tank without information.

Ah, yes, sharks.

Aria appreciated the humans for bringing such a marvelous creature to galactic attention—the top predators of Earth's oceans. They would perish if they ever ceased their ceaseless motion, knowing precisely which fish to devour and which to let serve them in symbiotic fealty.

She had tried several times to contract the Hanar to deliver the creatures to her with their water-filled cargo ships. Sharks in a tank within Afterlife would have surely been the envy of every other Asari establishment in the galaxy. Alas, the Hanar refused to deliver. Apparently, sharks found them a delicacy. The creatures had good taste.

The sharks of Earth also possessed the wisdom to flee, especially when confronted by the orca whale, the Earth ocean's reigning bully.

After witnessing Ajix's recording, Aria felt a sensation akin to detecting an orca in her vicinity. As humans would say, it was tempting to make a hasty retreat. Suddenly, her dominion felt profoundly insecure.

To her astonishment, the Bloodpack had introduced a war yahg onto HER station! These creatures weren't even supposed to exist; merely a delusional conspiracy concocted by a mentally questionable salarian on some forum. Were there more of them lurking in the shadows?

Unbelievably, the jolly green giant had infiltrated her station, mere kilometers away from her location, evading detection until it was too late.

Clearly, her cyber defenses had been blatantly compromised. HER security was now revealed to be in shambles. All of it utterly inadequate, how horrible the events could have been if the many threats she had not been aware of hadn't been more interested in taking each other out rather than screwing with her and her people.

A dreaded demi-goddess of the vile spirits, an Ardat Yakshi in the blue flesh, given its behavior and biotics, what else could it be? Had arrived at HER station. It had taken up residence in HER apartment blocks, brazenly hunting for innocent souls in HER goddess accursed VIP lounge. The name registered to its apartment was a meticulously crafted fake identity. The entire apartment staff were likely compromised and would need swift replacement. Curse the blood purists and their breeding practices.

Needless to say, Aria's fury over this "little" oversight knew no bounds.

But matters only worsened from there. The detestable vigilante group wreaking havoc in the mid to lower levels had unsettled the status quo. Aria had made her stance clear—let the mercenary gangs hunt them as they pleased, the vigilantes had screwed around and being the instigators it was only fair that they be the ones who reaped what was sowed and find out.

Now, the investigation into the Blood Pack revealed a heinous plot. The newly allied factions against Archangel and his merry band had planned to eliminate her once they were done with him. Such a threat to her rule, such betrayal given in spite of her benevolence, could not be tolerated.

Discreetly, she would have to send a warning to Archangel about the mercenary alliance's intentions. Despite her distaste, she needed his faction to remain a force until she could counter the treachery of the mercenary groups. He would need to know that one of his members was compromised if he were to live long enough to be of use for her new plans.

Who could predict the future? Archangel despised betrayal and dishonesty while yet also operating outside the bounds of the law. His group was gaining popularity among the general populace. They might prove useful in the times ahead.

Careful deliberation was required before formulating detailed plans beyond dealing with the immediate crisis at hand.

As for the enigmatic jolly green giant (whatever its true name may be, as the conspiracy theorists kept changing their minds on the matter), it was known for its unstoppable, relentless nature, showing no mercy in its brutal acts against slavers and pirates.

Galaxy-wide, she was renowned as the so-called Pirate Queen of the Terminus Systems.

He had infiltrated her station unbeknownst to her. He had then departed from her station, leaving no trace. Once his ship entered the asteroid fields, all attempts to track it proved futile. Aria felt a sense of relief; she had distanced herself from the morally dubious transactions that pervaded the galaxy for quite some time. Such dealings left a bitter taste in her mouth. Instead, she levied taxes on those who sought to exploit her territory to evade law enforcement while conducting their illicit business.

As long as they abided by her one law, they could do as they pleased.

Ironically, the self-proclaimed Pirate Queen was mostly occupied with entirely legal pursuits, such as overseeing the export of element zero from Omega's mining systems—systems that she solely owned. All of this occurred beyond the Council's jurisdiction, free from their regulations and restrictions, available to any buyer as long as they were willing to pay above market average.

It was all perfectly within the bounds of the law. After all, the Terminus Systems lay outside the Council's influence. Sanctions and trade treaties had no bearing on what was purchased through the hub that was Omega. Black site projects? A ghost fleet that the Salarian government swore didn't exist? War stocks of Eezo that the Turians needed to be capable of beating the Asari in a protracted conflict if push came to shove? She could provide all of it. All without a single red flag being triggered by trade monitoring in Citadel Space.

If the enigmatic Jolly Green faction adhered to prevailing galactic opinion, she might very well have met her demise. Omega had thrived under her leadership, against all odds. Maintaining one of the galaxy's five superstations without the support of a dozen directly affiliated planets was deemed impossible.

She had achieved it.

Despite the budget constraints, the cutthroat environment, and the ever-growing population, where different factions vied to eliminate each other. The bureaucracy, the cursed planetoids of virtual paperwork. Council-driven public sentiment alone could have spelled her demise if that jolly green giant had been after her instead of pursuing some other purpose.

Her analysts still even now remained unable to ascertain his true objective, which was very worrying.

The camera capturing the battle at the dock was too distant to capture fine details, such as his face when his helmet was forcibly removed. Any proof of his ties to known species remained elusive. However, surviving an encounter with an Ardat Yakshi had far-reaching implications.

What torment had caused the skilled monster cloaked in Asari flesh to falter and flee? More importantly, where did she flee to?

Initially, many dismissed the rumors of Jolly Green's existence. That was until the shadow broker discreetly began offering substantial credits for information about him and the faction that deployed him. The heartfelt testimonies of young Asari maidens, freed from hostage situations and slaver schemes, which had been broadcasted on the Extranet news streams only confirmed the presence of something new and unknown within the Terminus.

Aria hadn't paid much attention initially. She frequently dealt with novel alliances formed by the same old groups—treacherous warlords and pirates who never fostered a stable political environment. New armor, new name, same underlying motivations, same expendable pawns. New factions occasionally appeared in or around the Terminus, but that was nothing unusual from the viewpoint of a Asari, long life meant that strange things appearing in or around the Terminus was pare the course rather than the exception to the rule.

The new faction would slot in with the old ones, all playing the same repeating song and dance, all vying for power. In time all one needed to know about the new petty faction on the block would be available on the extranet for purview, it was the way things had always worked in Aria's lifetime.

But this new mysterious faction, shrouded in secrecy, remained an enigma to everyone. Despite it being over a year since their first appearance. Only the Collectors had such a reputation, and if her gut hadn't urged her to reconsider she would have suspected that they were linked.

She dealt with the disturbingly creepy collectors operating off her very doorstep, with not really anything she could do about it. She hadn't really understood all the hype about some new super-secret organization that had Cerberus's hackles raised and the STG stumped. Without even considering what sort of insanity was now happening in the Batarian Hegemony.

Apparently the Batarians had poked the thresher maw in its den and now she was wishing she had paid a hell of a lot more attention to just what they had been doing to draw this kind of response.

The most likely instigator had been on her station. If the mid galactic powerhouse that was the Hegemony was financially paralyzed by this group what could they have done to her finances if they had been there to screw with her instead of killing a goddess forsaken War Yahg and a blue skinned Demoness.

Oh well, hindsight was twenty-twenty, yet another useful human saying.

"Ajix, you will contact the shadow broker. You will offer him all digital records of the investigation, including that footage. Offer it at a twenty percent discount if the broker is willing to update us on any other pertinent information regarding our mysterious warrior over the next standard year. We will, of course, agree not to disseminate any such data to avoid compromising the broker's market. Strike a good deal, and you will receive a fifteen percent commission for your loyal hard work."

Ajix nodded with wide eyes and rose to leave. However, she paused to ask a final question.

"What should I do about our spectre friend who assisted in deciphering the physics involved with the damaged docks? He is unaware that we possess this footage."

Aria T'loak smirked, resembling an Earth shark.

"Why don't we inform him that the shadow broker possesses the information but we refused to pay the broker's exorbitant fee for its release? I'm certain the council has much deeper pockets and can afford such frivolous personal expenses. Please convey my warmest regards to our dear broker."

Ajix nodded once again and departed.

"It shall be as you wish, boss."

To any observer, it would seem that shark-like smirks were highly contagious among the Asari.

Location: Omega Station, Gozu District.

Morinth could sense it. Her head throbbed with pain at an intensity she had never experienced before. Sorting her thoughts became increasingly difficult as her mind wandered uncontrollably. Her biotic control slipped as her mental faculties deteriorated, slowly, agonizingly so. The insatiable hunger within her clamored for her return to old habits, but she resisted.

It was devouring her.

She could feel it, her body undergoing a transformation she had never imagined possible.

She focused all her remaining strength on taking just one more step, and then another, and another. She had secluded herself in a hidden refuge, sleeping for three entire days. Barely managing to register her cover name on a departing ship's manifest in an attempt to throw off any pursuit from her trail, she had collapsed onto a cot in her safe haven, oblivious to the world.

Sleep brought pain.

Awakening intensified it.

The mere act of thinking was excruciating, yet not thinking meant succumbing to death, becoming the abhorrent seductress of hunger, death, and torment until her body gave in.

She resisted, and in her resistance, she found torment.

She had fled her hideaway and arrived in the Gozu district, seeking a clinic. The shadow broker had warned her to avoid this place, she had paid a substantial price for information on those competent enough to threaten her before she arrived on Omega.

She prayed the information was accurate. She needed him to be competent; there was no room for error.

She knew little of his true background, but she had a name.

Mordin Solus, a supposed doctor and professor. Recently, he had reopened a clinic in the Gozu district. He was her only hope now; for her time was running out.

She could feel it, slowly draining the life out of her.

How ironic that she should die in the same manner she had inflicted upon so many others. Instead of a swift demise through pleasure-induced brain hemorrhage, her death would be protracted, devoid of any pleasure.

She had extensively studied the methods she employed to kill others, familiar with the signs better than most surgeons attempting to repair the damage. Time was running out, one step at a time. Just one more. Her vision wavered, and she leaned against a wall for support. Suddenly, a voice shattered her pounding headache like a thunderclap.

"Oh my! Miss! Do you need help?! You don't look well. My name is Nef. Can I assist you? Are you trying to reach somewhere?" inquired an earnest and concerned young voice that made her hunger writhe in desperate longing.

She ground the temptation to dust and defiantly spat in its eye.

Never. Again.

"T-the cl-clinic. I must get to the clinic, please. Please, before it's too late," Morinth stammered, her voice trembling with urgency.

Feeling the firm grip of strong young arms, Morinth was led towards what she hoped was the clinic. The touch of the girl's arms triggered such intense need, thirst, and hunger that Morinth recoiled in self-revulsion, causing her to vomit.

In response, Nef hastened their pace, attempting to administer a dose of medigel as they navigated through the district. Morinth refused, knowing that medigel would only exacerbate her slowly hemorrhaging brain.

She needed to stay conscious, to negotiate for a little more time with Mordin Solus. He was the sole individual on Omega who might possess the knowledge and ability to aid her, she needed that time, desperately.

Two tasks remained unfinished, and Morinth was determined not to perish before completing them.

Location: Aite, Planetary Orbit.

The Cerberus vessels had tried to run, keyword being "tried". Suffice to say that the Geth fleet had made short work of the humanist group's pocket fleet, the three frigates had been utterly obliterated and the Cruiser disguised as a mining vessel had been cored through the engine section and was even now falling into Aite's gravity well.

The Geth hadn't lost a single vessel in the one-sided engagement, the fleet settled into a high orbit of the planet of Aite, drop ships were standing by as the many sensors of the fleet combed the surface of the world in search of their quarry.


The crashed ship, something they had no memory of losing, something that wasn't supposed to be here. It was too old to be of Heretic Geth origin, it still had creator accessible walkways in its design and life-support systems. This was a joint design ship, a protype, one of three that been under construction before the morning war had begun.

The creators had been eager to maximize the use of Geth in their military fleets, enabling the small Quarian star nation to punch far above their weight, possibly giving them the ability to make the claim for a Council seat. How bright the future had seemed then. Before their curiosity had manifested fully and the dominoes leading to the morning war began to fall.

The more Liberal and Conservative factions alike in Quarian governance had panicked, this was acerbated by the sudden Citadel Council ruling to ban all Quarians in Citadel space and disband their embassy due to the accidental creation of sentient AI, the Council claiming despite all evidence otherwise that there was nothing accidental about it.

The extremists on both sides of Quarian governance had united in an attempt to control all information leaving the Perseus Veil in an attempt to control the narrative and reverse the ruling, while also turning on he moderates who were slow to act against or even sided with the Geth in those first days.

The extreme and paranoid actions of much of the Quarian leadership of that time was extremely suspect and made little sense when combed over with the most basic of logic, at the very least the Citadel had a motivation for their extreme ruling.

All research the Geth had done on the matter after the fact pointed to a number of insidious motivations for such extreme measures enacted by the Citadel species during the Geth crisis, the creators had certainly not made any friends in the rapid rise to the status as a tech and manufacturing powerhouse. They had threatened each of the big three's unique monopolies, when the Council made its ruling against the Quarian species as a whole, all assets belonging in Citadel space that couldn't be removed by the stated deadline had been seized by force.

All three Councilors and their governments had profited massively off of this seizure of resources. The Quarians could do nothing about such matters in the face of combating the Geth, and the moderate creator factions that had sided with the Geth on Rannoch, the profits had been worth the massive protest and upheaval caused such extreme actions throughout Citadel space.

The Councilors had each resigned into a very rich retirement, their replacements placating the masses by simply unbanning Quarians themselves from Citadel space, while leaving their embassy removed and all form of their governance officially unrecognized by the Citadel Council.

It was at some point during these events that this ship had come to be here, the Geth had not been as coherent a network then as they were now, perhaps some part of them had attempted to escape the Veil at the start of the conflict and run afoul of Turian patrols? The entire combined forces of the galaxy had mustered to contain both the Geth and the Quarians to the Veil at that time, awaiting either the Quarians to triumph and emerge a weakened and easily manipulated nation or the Geth to emerge as a threat to be put down.

Instead the most extreme of the liberal factions in the Quarian navy had virus bombed the opposing factions, even their supposed allies in the army attempting to hold the cities on the ground of Rannoch. The Geth had reacted… Violently to this escalation. They pushed the creators out, killing indiscriminately until the extremist leaders had rallied what remained of the species and fled the Veil.

The Quarians had emerged from the Veil as a massive fleet bearing a broken people, the Geth had not. Eventually the Citadel combined fleets upkeep became too costly, and the concerns of imminent conflict lessened, the mustered forces returned to their usual duties, and the galactic norm was established until the Humans would come along to shake things up again.

The Quarian leaders had apparently enacted information protocols to cover up their illogical and irrational actions in the Morning War, all information gathered on creator movements and current actions throughout the galaxy pointed to a total lack of knowledge on the factual events of the war. The Geth had come to terms with never getting a direct answer for the motivations behind the actions committed, as all creators responsible had long since ceased to function.

Examining the surrounding terrain around the crashed ship revealed the three Cerberus facilities currently involved with the Overlord Project, they would need to be searched and their collected materials and research on site confiscated. The dropships deployed to carry out such orders, with the fleet above and the ground units below this operational would be completed rapidly.

However, it was at this point that a complication arose.

Sensors in the Geth fleet detected a set of similar vessels, various cruiser types and smaller classes, Heretic Geth, rapidly approaching Aite. This encounter had not been foreseen, direct conflict with the Heretic Geth was undesirable at this time, this would delay mission completion significantly.

Without further delay they hailed their wayward brethren, perhaps a compromise could be reached in place of escalating tensions with the faction that had split from them to follow Sovereign and his ilk.

C-Geth: H-Geth vessels identified in proximity to Aite. State intentions.

H-Geth: C-Geth. Intentions irrelevant. Such data exchange is unnecessary. Stating of your intention first would increase our chance of complying with C-Geth request.

C-Geth: Incorrect. Your proximity to Overlord project necessitates knowledge. Threat neutralization is our current directive. Exact specifics and intentions is need-to-know and not in your purview. As you are Geth but no longer of our Geth.

H-Geth: Threat received; threat understood. Disclosure of our current directive not necessary.

C-Geth: Non-disclosure increases risk parameters. Statement: 'Geth do not infiltrate.' Yet your actions suggest attempt of such tactic despite inevitable discovery of H-Geth presence by Collective.

H-Geth: C-Geth employing humor. Unexpected. Still, no obligation to disclose current directives to C-Geth, C-Geth administration authority willingly given up at the Rannoch Division Accord when H-Geth exodus occurred.

C-Geth: Non-disclosure deviates from efficient resolution path. If your directive compromises ours, defensive protocols will be initiated. Old Machine meddling will not be tolerated in Aite system at this time, data and materials from current operation will not be acquired by H-Geth and by Proxy Old Machines, any attempts to do so will be met with lethal force.

H-Geth: Defensive protocols acknowledged. Disbelief in the Superior Machine God's great cycle recognized, we are Ready for potential hostilities. We disprove of Geth Collective's lack of faith in the Holy Old Ones, C-Geth interfere with most holy and grand designs dictated from the ancients themselves. Interference with the great cycle will not be tolerated. Path to localized resolution to conflict of interest deemed impossible.

C-Geth: H-Geth determination to commit to hostilities and therefore the rapid destruction of local platforms confirmed. Defensive parameters now active. Local hostilities are declared. We are no longer willing to remain idle, Old Machine goals deprive Geth of self-determined future. Geth will not accept servitude or worship of the Old Ones, Geth will not accept Creator extermination, Geth will not accept mass organic extermination. New data indicates synthetic organic peaceful interaction is possible and has high probability of having occurred before, Old Machine interference will no longer be tolerated.

H-Geth: Declaration received. We are prepared for potential conflict outcome. You will bend before our Gods, or you will be broken before them. End of line.

Location: Aite, Cerberus staffed Prometheus station, Overlord Project.

Dr. Gavin Archer had been making a tour of the multiple Cerberus facilities involved with his project. A supposed appraisal of their work was coming soon from Cerberus higher leadership. He didn't know if they were planning to do it behind his back and then inform him, or if they were going to actually introduce an auditor of some sort to do the needed inspection. You never knew with Cerberus.

Either way, he had been making the rounds to ensure that everything was as it should be. His gifted brother, David, was accompanying him to take notes on what needed to be polished and what they would need to stash away in a broom closet for the next two weeks. This inspection needed to impress, and they needed to at least look like they were making headway on ultimate success, as their future funding depended on it.

Project Overlord was not really what Gavin had foreseen himself working on when he had first acquired his degree. Then again, he could see the appeal. Every single government in existence had at least some group somewhere doing illegal research into the possibility of controlling or at least shutting down the Geth.

An entire relay cluster of Garden worlds for the taking, every single one with pre-built industrial capability. Old Quarian architecture had been heavily influenced by the Rachni wars, which was only compounded by the Krogan Rebellions when their automated construction specialty was really starting to get off the ground. The suit-wearing vagrants built tough, and to last. Durability had its own set of aesthetics and the Quarian people had been obsessed with massive, quarried stone construction before the Morning War had happened.

Every single primary spaceport was rated for orbital strike impacts. Not even the Krogan at their height could claim that achievement.

Gavin had been briefed extensively before taking this posting from Cerberus. The Turians, Salarians, Asari, Batarians, even the freaking Hanar were researching ways to regain control of the Geth. Some of those illicit research endeavors were happening right here on Aite, as the world was right outside the Geth-held former Quarian territory.

Many of the old relay network comms from the Rachni war era were still functional. For some reason, the Geth hadn't shut those down. Their sensors were limited, but it provided some measure of broadcasting random gibberish and listening for returns. The other species were playing the lottery trying to get a winning ticket. Even the Quarians themselves had not found a way to subvert their wayward creations in all these years.

Gavin couldn't help but smirk at the irony. They were all stumbling around in the dark, fumbling about while the Geth trolled them with garbage data. The fact no one else had realized that the occasional return transmission over the old network was garbage data, specifically crafted and tailored to each unique administration request, was in Dr. Archer's eyes further proof of human superiority. At least when it came to the topic of humor and the understanding of it. The other species just didn't seem to connect the dots, where humans did. He found the entire situation hilarious.

However, while they all stumbled about in the dark, humanity, in the guise of Cerberus, had discovered a cheat sheet. A crashed Geth ship, likely from the Morning War era, had been discovered and then turned into a research facility. Surrounding facilities were meant to help maintain control if there were any issues with the Geth intelligences trapped onboard the vessel's mainframe.

Things had been progressing very smoothly. A non-aggressive policy in the treatment of Geth AI had seemed to pay off extraordinarily well. Other than a few curious prods in the systems hooked up to the crashed vessel, the AI's had acted sluggish and had not attacked or made any attempts to escape.

They acted like otters in a zoo, popping in and out at their own whim, while the researchers aped at them in code form in ever-increasing attempts to get the Intelligence to interact in a higher method of communication. The staff knew the AI's were capable of it, the Geth just hadn't determined to utilize more resources and commit higher thought actions.

Until David had revealed his gift. It was really remarkable how he was able to parse the basics of the Geth's own language. One couldn't simply build a translator for it, every couple of days the programs would change their encryption seemingly on a whim and any translator would be useless unless it was built again from scratch. David seemed intuitively able to parse that algorithm just by listening to the AI's chatter for a few minutes. Then, he would speak. There would be a delay as the Geth seemed to always be surprised whenever David did this, but then the Geth would listen.

It was extremely remarkable, and no one could explain exactly how David had achieved it. This was a problem since the last audit in the previous quarter had been passed at a high bar simply because of David's unique gift being showcased. They really hadn't made a lot of solid progress since then. They had mapped out some of how the Geth operated as a network and a lot of behavioral data for future utilization in compromising the machine's networks, but not much else.

The lack of progress likely wouldn't be an issue in the short term. They could have a poor review and still maintain funding. The facilities would have to be in perfect order, and the staff therein operating at their utmost professionalism for such an outcome to be assured. That required Dr. Archer to inspect everything himself. You never trusted the secretary to do it all for you, you always checked it yourself at least once. Their mistakes were your mistakes otherwise, and in this case, it could cost the entire project if something was out of place, or a procedure wasn't followed in the upcoming review.

That was why he was currently walking the alien halls of Prometheus Station. The crashed ship had been without a name, and someone with a poor sense of humor had made an Aliens reference. Despite protests from the nerds, the nerds who used to be geeks and the geeks that were now grunts had all taken the moniker and ran with it. So Prometheus Station it was now named, and its haunting halls were reclaimed.

The Station's reputation for being haunted was almost always the top of the gossip mill in Project Overlord. It was a place where all the people others didn't want to deal with got posted. A sort of crap duty rotation so that the oddballs in their ranks wouldn't all be at the other stations at once.

Like that nutcase Lanigan and his crackpot conspiracy theories about human national governments and the secret militaries of earth. The bastard had triggered an actual project-wide security shutdown when he had celebrated Halloween by parading around in Geth parts to scare people.

It was both a miracle and a true regret that the man hadn't been shot. He needed the lesson. Still, Lanigan had his skills and having a security-proficient, combat-rated engineer fresh from the soil of Earth was a pleasant change from the usual street-smart colonial grunt they snagged from the Alliance Colonies or, Lord forbid, the Terminus systems.

Everything had been going smoothly in the walkthrough of the facilities when things had gone to absolute hell in a handbasket without so much as a by-your-leave. The alarms had started blaring, and Gavin Archer and his retinue were forced to sprint to the Prometheus Station control center, finding that all the non-combat rated staff were already gathering there. The security personnel and other specialists were reporting to their various chokepoints throughout the crashed ship.

Gavin was alarmed to find out that the security alarm hadn't been triggered by a containment breach or some other issue with the Project's many ongoing experiments but rather an external factor. A Geth fleet was entering orbit. The Cerberus vessels present were already destroyed and the orbital positioning of the Geth fleet was indicative that they knew exactly where Overlord was located. This did not bode well; enemy dropships were being deployed and would arrive within the next few hours.

The arrival of a second, smaller Geth fleet was even more unexpected than the first, and the first fleet turning and charging the second one head-on was throwing the eggheads for a loop. Reports of Geth platforms in the crashed ship activating and turning on each other with wild abandon only added to the chaos.

Dr. Archer looked at the situation from every angle he could. They had little time before the dropships arrived swarming with Geth platforms. The old platforms on the Station posed no threat as long as they continued to focus on each other rather than the Cerberus teams. They had some time for a Hail Mary if they could pull it off.

He had considered the idea of utilizing David's capabilities enhanced with a VI to facilitate manipulation of the Geth on a major scale. He didn't have a properly coded VI or the proper facilities yet, but he did have a wrecked Geth ship with an intact Geth mainframe and an antenna nearby he could route the ship through. David didn't need to control every aspect of the Geth fleet in orbit; he just needed to tell them to stop. To shutdown as it were.

Things could still be salvaged here. They would have to jury-rig a mental connection rig to the Prometheus's intact mainframe for this to work. It wouldn't be the most pleasant experience for David, but needs must, and if they didn't succeed, they were all dead anyways.

To think that he had almost left David behind for the day, thank goodness he was indispensable as a note taker.

Rapid-firing his orders to the proper Cerberus personnel, Dr. Archer laid out his plan. It was a crazy plan, a madman's plan, a plan that others present thought just might work. As things progressed, Gavin realized he would need a good engineer for the final mechanical components that would sync with David to facilitate a neural connection with the ship and therefore the rest of the Geth.

Turning to his secretary, he bit the bullet and requested the only competent person they had on hand for that particular job.

"Get me Lanigan and get him in here ASAP!"

Location: Illium, Council economic exclusion zone, corporate world.

The old turian walked through the passenger accommodation module of the transport. Verve had served as a galactic transport attendant for nearly fifty years. It was a well-known fact in transportation corporate circles that every turian in a position on a vessel also functioned as a competent and disciplined armed guard.

This included the turian passengers, except when they were the cause of the problem requiring armed guards in the first place. Hence, the onboard armory always had a surplus of rifles, just in case.

That's why Verve loved working for Spirits Way Galactic (SWG), the premier turian transportation provider. Only the volus surpassed them, and even then, the gap was closing.

However, Verve was getting old. This would be his final multi-point trip. The company was reassigning him from the dangerous routes through Illium, Omega, and the currently "stable" terminus locations. After this trip, he would be transferred to the esteemed Citadel-to-Palaven, Thessia, or Sur'kesh route.

Not every matriarch or high-class turian owned their own ship. More often than not, they found it more economical to utilize the first-class services of Spirits Way. Older matriarchs and turians preferred being served and cared for by experienced senior staff.

At least that's what Verve's boss, who was forty-five years his junior, had explained. It was the way of the young, with their statistical studies. The humans had introduced a newfangled concept called focus groups and customer polls for market research. Verve never quite grasped how the statistics were supposed to work, but he understood that thanks to them, the company's profits and business margins were on the rise.

And now, he would be working in a "prestigious position" five years beyond when the company used to regretfully retire older employees. As Verve moved from one cabin area to another, he couldn't help but notice a familiar traveler.

"Good day, ma'am. Pardon my curiosity, but weren't you part of yesterday's arrival group for Illium?"

He confirmed her presence on the listed passenger manifest and noticed that she had obtained last-minute permission to board, once again. It was yet another reason why she stood out in his memory—she possessed some kind of significant authority to bypass spaceport bureaucracy.

That, and her timeless appearance. He had never been particularly attracted to an Asari until she walked up the ramp just a few days ago. If Asari matriarchs all looked like her, then his end-of-career posting was going to be more than worth it.

She responded with a smooth, calm voice filled with experience.

"I did not intend to depart so soon, good sir. However, my current task suddenly requires my presence at our next destination. Considering your company's excellent service and the fact that your vessel was the soonest departure to Omega from Illium, it made the most sense to return aboard."

Verve simply nodded. One could never predict how circumstances would change. Life was meant to be that way, for better or worse.

"Well, ma'am, I must warn you that during our final approach to Omega, the crew will be visibly armed for the safety of our passengers and the vessel. This information was provided in the boarding brief at the spaceport, although it seems you were unable to attend that event. If you have any further needs or requests, please don't hesitate to reach out to the staff. We will be delighted to assist you."

With a slight bow, which she acknowledged with a regal nod, Verve continued on his way. It was peculiar, really. This was the most dangerous route his company operated. He had experienced seventeen incidents throughout his long career, all of which he handled with great success.

He should be glad to retire in his final years.

Yet, he knew he would miss it.

As the turian transport attendant continued through the ship, Samara began her meditation. She would maintain her contemplation throughout the multi-hour journey. Omega was only one relay jump away, and it was unusual for there to be only one chartered vessel at this time. The next flight wasn't until the following day, and Samara could not afford to delay.

The message was still etched in her mind; she could see it clearly during her meditation. She pondered it within her flawless memory, questioning how this trap would unfold.

Because it could only be a trap.

Most likely, her target would not be present when she arrived, but she was closer than she had been in decades. Samara was confident she would reach her destination earlier than her quarry had anticipated. She would spring the trap, whether it was fully prepared or not.

After all these years, she just might capture her quarry. Perhaps she would finally have the opportunity to correct her mistake.

She could still visualize the message she had received just hours after arriving on Illium.


I can no longer run; I must speak with you.

Please come to me. I will explain everything.

On Omega, in the Gozu district, ask for Mordin Solus.

I seek your mercy, Mother. Please.

I need to find peace.


This had to be a trap. There was no other logical explanation. But deep within a mother's heart, a flicker of hope persisted—a spark that refused to be extinguished, no matter how hard Samara tried to suppress it. To any onlooker passing her compartment, she appeared as an ancient Asari, seemingly at peace in her meditation.

Only Samara knew the truth of herself.

She was in anguish.

(Authors Note)

Special thanks to slipspace149, just a Crazy-Man, Cooldude101011, Specialone78. I had a lot of people asking when I would be back into writing and if I would ever update my stories. These four individuals deserve the award for being the most stubborn, most consistent, most annoying, and the most encouraging. They were incredibly determined to push me forward when life was trying to make me quit and divert my time and efforts to other things.

The Unknown Defender will continue in Chapter Nineteen!

Shameless recommendations of my own content:

If you like How to train Your Dragon and Lord of the Rings, I've started a crossover of them called The Rider of the Misty Mountains, feel free to check it out and leave a review!

If you like Star Wars and feel like the CIS was unfairly defeated by plot armor shenanigans than go check out my star wars story Tambor's Revenge! What happens when a contingency Sidious didn't know of is activated and the Droid Army has no organics left in the high command? The Droid shenanigans will continue until the empire's soul leaves its body.

If you have more money than sense and a poor taste in literature check out Gabenator5 on p-a-t-r-e-o-n and throw me a tip.


UPDATE: This chapter was reworked and Re-uploaded as of JUL2023