Thank you to Pax Humana and Daisy Duck 39 for beta-ing.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed, you are the greatest!
The Catalyst For Revenge
Epilogue: What Happens Next?
471900 Years after the Destruction of the Catalyst, 638799 Years after the Rebirth of Humanity in the LMC, 683853 Years after Human Ascension
5.5 Years Later
Edge of Andromeda
Cerberus slowed, bringing himself into a relatively stationary orbit within the rest of the fleet. They were still clustered, though several had gone ahead to make observations. Now, the rest had caught up.
The network formed. He could feel the Human network spread over the galaxies behind them. It was separate from the network forming now though there were some links. He could feel Shepard sampling the data but the First Human Ascended was not exerting his presence.
"What have you found?" Harper asked. Hackett was already at work, consulting with others who were more interested in military maneuvers. Ashley was in the thick of that conversation. It murmured in the back of his mind but not so loud that he couldn't ignore it.
"We've got energy readings everywhere," Enni Xanti Perun Luigsech Osip Riku Ellil Rylee told him. She'd already informed Hackett.
"What type of energy readings?"
Details came over from her subchannels. They were shared with the fleet. Harper hissed. He'd seen this before. Well, similar enough to it that he knew what it represented. Harper trusted Ashley to interrupt Hackett with the information. This was not something either of them would compromise on.
"Shepard," the name initiated the comm.
The First Human Ascended was attentive.
"We have a problem."
I told people we'd get to Andromeda earlier in the fic. I just never said how far into Andromeda they'd get. :P
I do however have seven extra's of 'what might happen' in Andromeda, and none of them are based on a game I haven't played.
After more than 1 million words, I think I get the chance to put in a decent AN :D I'm very happy and glad that people have endured all the words, and I thank you very much for reading. Thanks for those who gave feedback. While I wasn't going to change what happened in this fic, it does feed into the next ones, whenever they will be.
So thank you very much. I really mean it, you are the greatest! Because unless people point things out, how am I going to know what's wrong or what is good?
If you don't believe me on that, go back and read some of my early fics… shudder :D
I won't call anyone out specifically, as I think I've built up a good enough relationship with those who have reviewed continuously that they know they can PM me about things if they want! (All those review replies! Probably as many words as the fic, cumulatively anyway.)
Obviously the fic is HFY, and started out with a huge kick of that but then mellowed a little bit before coming back with a vengeance. Still the core value is there, though it is of course, pure arrogance!
One thing that continues to amuse me though is how very few people questioned the world created. The galaxies are now run by military dictatorship. They are run by a very small group, who have enforced their power over the centuries. If you go against them, you wish you died.
I'm not sure what most people know about the stats FFN can give you about readership, but it tells me that most of the readers are American, or at least have an American VPN turned on ;) Given that America claims to be the 'greatest democracy in the world' (something I laugh at!), I'm surprised by the attitude. Despite what some reviewers have thought, I do understand the difference between reading something fictional and reality, so I'm hoping that everyone else does as well, but we continuously get told that people don't. How, people how? How do you not know the difference between reality and fiction? But I digress.
Suffice to say that the galaxies are run by military dictatorship that not only will do anything to keep that power, is indoctrinated into thinking that power is completely warranted. :D I presented it nicely but that's the reality. This society was not capitalist, no matter what it looked like. There was a lot of social engineering going on in the background all through it to make people content with their lives, to make them good, unchanging, drones for the state. And before anyone tries to tell me that society will advance. It doesn't have to. We do have examples in world history of Empires and societies that have been very stable, and not changing that much. It can happen.
This society though has the stability imposed and ruthlessly enforced. Glad people enjoyed it :P (I am not condoning a military dictatorship. I'm not saying it's a good thing. The opinions in the fic are the results of what I believe the characters would think in the setting, which is what a fictional work is meant to be.)
This fic was meant to be much, much, much shorter. Like six (long) chapters. The six parts were worked out at the beginning but for the word length, I blame Pax. Entirely! And he knows it. I wrote the prologue and a bit of the first chapter (I think) and then we collaborated for a little while before I ran away with it. The length of the Empire section is definitely his fault. He likes world building and you wouldn't believe how much stuff I did not write! :P Pax can tell you how many words it was. It was fun writing conversations where he was one character and I was the other. A lot of the comedy elements are his suggestions as are some of the numbers, since on the whole, Sci Fi writers usually grossly under-estimate the carrying capacity of a galaxy. I've tried not to but the numbers are really hard to get your head around. Mostly because I didn't know numbers went that high!
Long enough AN now. Thank you for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed. :D If you didn't, and you got this far… well, honestly, are you masochist or what? Don't answer that.
First off, thank you everyone for taking the time to read this mammoth story. Jade is right that the length of this story is mostly because of me. I kept suggesting things, scenes, ideas, endorsing Jade's own expansions and extensions, as well as editing the manuscript after my own muse on it burned out.
The megastructures, the populations, growth rates, Ascension numbers, the strategy by the Humans in their first Cycle against the Council races, Shepard's thoughts on Asari stupidity and arrogance, especially regarding placing antimatter on a planetary surface, I had a hand in all of those.
Wiki searches for hundreds of hours, probably over a thousand hours in discussions with Jade for world building and story writing, I would not have given up a minute of it.
Jade and I had many discussions about how the society should develop. I tended towards pushing them to being good to their own and to those aliens who recognised Human superiority. Perhaps I did that too well if so few recognised just how xenophobic and militaristic they became. I was amused by how bloody minded Ashley became under Jade's pen and often acted to provide Jack's more political counterpoint, as well as suggested things for Lawson to do or say. I had a blast and thank Jade for blazing on alone with writing this story.
Thank you for your support and interest in this story. It has repaid my investment.
Greetings and hope you enjoyed this story as much as I have had fun both reading and helping to edit.
This got way longer than I thought it would (thanks Pax) and, with how complex the plot became, I actually had a hard time keeping up with everything but also quite enjoyed poking figurative holes into any bits that needed further explanation - so feel free to let Jade know of any I may have missed. ;)
Even the most epic of stories must come to an end. And this one sure was long.
Review please :D