OSaBC Addenda : Sorrows Untold
A/N: The Editing Gang and the people who hang out in my Discord chat often ask me a lot of questions, the very nature of which result in spoilers.
Rather than ignore such, I rank such spoilers on a scale of how likely they are to disrupt your enjoyment of the work. But there are some things that people either miss seeing or don't put the dots in a line to realize what it means.
These questions are usually ones you really didn't want to know all the details about. The Premiseverse is much like a matryoshka doll, in that you can peel back one layer of horror only to find even more messed up stuff beneath it.
This series is small works illustrating such things. Unlike all of my other works, however, this one will be decided by those who read my stuff.
There are, after all, questions best left unasked. But I will answer them anyway.
The initial outlay for this will be:
The Truth About Grunt (Okeer and how Grunt came to be)
The Truth About EDI (EDI's base and first meeting with Ahern)
The Truth About Joker and Tali (Their arrival and departure from the Quarian Fleet)
The Truth About Pel (Pel and his ill-fated romance with Xhelia)
The Truth About Tazzik (Tazzik being sold to the Broker)
The Truth About Aria (Her relationship with Nyreen going to pieces)
Beyond that, I will write additions based on feedback I get.
Chapter One : Legacies
Ganar Okeer gazed somewhat sadly at the sight before him, the sterile and cold steel walls of the lab framing the scene in pitiless clarity.
While he certainly did not subscribe to the maudlin and self-pitying nihilism of most krogan in the aftermath of their own, idiocy-induced slow decline, he was not entirely emotionless. The Genophage was a necessity – both to reduce the threat of the krogan so the salarians wouldn't create something worse, as well as to purify the krogan people. Those who bemoaned it should have blamed the idiot Urdnot who set the krogan people on a trajectory toward self-destruction.
That did not mean he wasn't familiar with the costs of said salvation. He had heard the wails of mothers bearing dead children. He had seen the piles of tiny bodies neatly laid out for ritual cremation. It all bothered him on some atavistic, primitive level that he hesitated to codify or ignore.
The body of Urdnot Urv, lying still on the metallic autopsy table, torn by gunfire and brutalized by an explosion, somehow evoked those memories and reactions. Okeer shook his head, wondering why the Urdnot were so ignorant and simpleminded. The only Urdnot born in over a millennia, and his father is fool enough to drag him along on his mercenary misadventures.
Ganar Skal, who stood at the other end of the laboratory, folded his thick arms across his wide chest, made only bulkier by his expensive armor. "You look displeased, War-Father. I would have assumed bringing down the scion and heir of the Urdnot would have pleased you. Yet your expression is one I'd expect from you if you bit down on a rotten jurga fruit."
Okeer made a loose gesture with his right hand, even as he continued to study the readouts from his scanning probes. "Despite the credulity you may have at the concept, I do not delight in seeing dead krogan, even those who are ostensibly my enemy. The boy was too young to even understand the situation – killing him will only further break Wrex."
His muzzle twitched as the probes displayed chemical ratios and decay rates. "I am not displeased with the result, Skal. You will understand, however, why I wish you had brought me the body of the father."
Skal snorted, a heavy sound of mixed contempt and incredulity. "War-Father, we ran across them entirely by accident, and frankly, the shot that killed the boy was a fluke. He stopped Tyruk from blowing a hole in that old bastard Rurx. Killing the boy cost me three distant kin. The least I can expect from it is some advantage."
Okeer wondered where he'd gone wrong raising his grandson. All of his direct line had died in combat, save a single asari daughter still on Thessia. But he had a host of grandchildren, both krogan and asari. Skal was by far the strongest of his descendant line, but also the one with the least amount of nuance and subtlety.
He withdrew the probes and reached for the thick syringe of purgative nanites hanging on the wall near the autopsy table. "Oh, there will be advantage, do not fear. I have no real concept of what mighty Saren and the Lady Benezia are working on, but it is likely to be large in both scope and audacity. This will distract those who would otherwise… interfere in my plans."
Skal gave a krogan sigh, air whistling past teeth. "Do I even want to know what scheme you've concocted this time? By the Walls, War-Father, do you never tire of intrigue? And what in the gods' name could be done with a dead whelp?"
Okeer's muzzle twisted into a smile as he turned to face Skal. "I once was honored by the Batarian Emperor to read a selection of texts from the Pillars of Strength on Khar'shan itself, after I worked out the kinks in their sequestration program for the Eyes of Khar'shan. One line has stuck with me all these years, young one."
Okeer turned back to the corpse. "Death is no doorway, but merely a state of being. Death is freedom from choice, in slavery to consequence."
"Poetry?" The younger krogan threw up his hands. "Is it not best left to hanar? I leave you to your work, unless you have other tasks for me."
Okeer nodded. "You may go, for now. Attempt to see if that fool cousin of yours on Ilium has found any leads."
Okeer looked at the figure floating in the tube of life preserving liquids, the steady click-beep of vitals monitors and the bubble of aerators the only sound in the room. In a way, the end of the process he'd started left him just as ambiguously uncertain as the beginning had. He didn't know if that was merely old instincts or something less primal, but he put it out of his mind.
For years he had struggled to reform the krogan. To extract the essence of what it meant, and to write that in the elegance of DNA and clones. For years, he'd attempted to refinethat core of what the krogan should be. It was his only option, after the passage of more than a million sunsets. The krogan people had failed.
And for years, he'd also failed.
With less than three months of working with the Collectors, he'd overcome every obstacle save one. He had overcome the limits of accepted science and spat upon death itself. He glared at the body, then resumed verbal note taking.
"Fifth of Vel, Ninecycle. The situation remains… muddled. Thanks to the Shadow Broker's inept minions, my original test bed for the genetic and behavioral mods was destroyed. I have been forced, by both circumstance and interest, to try and reshape the corpse of Urdnot Urv into my chosen soldier.
"Thus far, I have been mostly successful. The eye color and plating colors are different. The growth hormone and nanonic body enhancement agents worked just as advertised. He now is the size of a great patriarch of many millennia, even though he is but a child.
"The physical aspects have been totally successful – increased regeneration, blood clotting, and blood production. Increase in heart capacity and vascular pressure. Increases in blood filtration, reflexes, sight, hearing, and raw strength. Most importantly, he is a full carrier of Triggerphage. Once his deeds win him a spot in the Breeding Circles, females long thought barren will bear new fruits."
Okeer leaned back in his oversized chair, glancing out the tall windows of his lab. The turian shipwreck made a fine choice in terms of defense, but he did not appreciate the highly slanted views of the ruined landscapes of Korlus.
No matter. "The intellectual capacity and learning rates are also superior to any baseline krogan. The downside to all of this is the psychological conditioning did not take. Amusingly, the personality overlay and overrides work perfectly. I will finish using the Collector equipment to finish off 'installing' the last bits of my personality and memories into him tonight.
"While he does not embrace my teachings – indeed, he rejects them utterly – that will not matter once I shove his mind out of the way. The Collector methods for such personality overlays are incredible in their utility. I have already implanted in him the collected wisdom of the Loremasters that I could recall, as well as a host of my own knowledge."
Okeer paused, then continued, his voice dropping in pitch. "The ability to literally copy myself – my own personality, my mind, my memories – will probably confound the spiritualist morons that pass as shamen among my people in this era. Bad enough that I have built my masterwork atop the dead flesh of an enemy – now I overwrite the very mind?
"It is a failsafe option. I regret the necessity for such, but sacrifices exist to provide for the greater good. I will not make inarticulate ethical arguments as to the viability of the mind inside this living corpse, this being returned from the Halls of Athaka."
He smiled tightly. "Instead, I will simply enjoy the look of ruin and rage upon the features of Urdnot Wrex as I visit upon him a full accounting for the failures of Clan Urdnot. I do not seek to cheat death. If it comes, I will face it with the same smile upon my face as I would if I had no such fallback. But a fallback must exist. The krogan people will be remade, as Vaul remade us upon his anvil. To assume in the aftermath of my death that my own clan will lead my people properly is…"
He clicked off the recording, frowning. He did not know what would happen upon his demise, to be honest. He had led Clan Ganar for longer than any other krogan had even lived. It was not arrogance or fear of death that prompted him to place a copy of himself inside this child-creature, but merely pragmatism.
He finished the recording. "Not something I will waste long thought on. For now, I'll see if the last sequence of programming alters his 'base' mentality and tie the awakening trigger to one of several events. Should none of them come about, then I will simply sleep within him."
He clicked the recorder off again, standing slowly. The form of his creation in the tank stared blindly at him, the lines of power evident in his muscled arms and thick torso blurred by the glass front of the tank.
"One day, when your family has been cast down from the Throne of Sorrows and the krogan people are ascendant and thriving once more, I will honor the sacrifice of your life and will, Urv. I will not apologize for what I have done to you in death, since you were wasted in life by your fool of a father. But I will not repeat his mistake."
He turned away. "Computer, prep load cycle fifteen, intensity seventy. Notify me when it is complete."
He strode from the lab, as the tank rotated and tipped backwards.