Summary: After the Reapers hunted the Protheans to extinction a handful that survived attempted to end the cycle. But what if interfering with the signal for the keepers wasn't all they did? What if the hidden base on Mars was kept secret, not even listed in the records on Citadel, and the Protheans managed to destroy the Mass Relay in the Sol System? Humanity would go down a different technological path than the Citadel races would.
Chief Caeo'dan raised his rifle as the doors hissed open. Behind him, three other Protheans in pressure suits were armed and ready to fight. Caeo'dan signaled for one of them to move forward out of the air lock. One, a young specialist named Vena'toranin started forward, using the optics of his visor and scope to sweep the bay before the other three soldiers joined him. Caeo'dan spoke into his communicator. "Chief Caeo'dan, main entry is secure, bring everybody in."
Then more Protheans began to pour out of the air lock from the frigate Sorano, about thirty in total with four more guards and a dozen scientists. These sixty some Protheans were the survivors of a Prothean convoy that had just barely managed to enter the system identified as Sol via the mass relay, which now lay in thousands of pieces and would not doubt be encased in the ice of a nearby planet thanks to the main gun of the Sorano. They had come from one of the few Prothean systems left, originally testing a new control system that could act as the citadel did, opening and closing Mass Relays at will, and they had used it just in time to escape the legion of black ships that poured out of the mass relay and slaughtered not one, but all seven of the grand fleets of the Prothean Navy that had managed to flee into the system. That was over seven thousand ships destroyed in one fight, leaving small battle groups scattered in system that were no doubt already in pieces. The crew of the heavy cruiser, which had been modified to support the sixty-four Protheans for long trips rather than over two thousand for regular ones, had chosen to destroy any chance of the ships, the Reapers following them any time soon.
"Alright, we're stuck here for now, and we have one inhabitable planet in the system." Captain Ran'Zealan said as he joined Caeo'dan.
"We have a base on that planet sir; we could use it to perhaps help the natives advance, continue our society." A Lieutenant said.
"No." The dozens of Protheans looked at him. "When we discovered the mass relays, the citadel, we used technology based on the Reapers, just how they wanted, we can't throw these people down that path. We'll destroy that base and all evidence of our presence in this system, this base is too well hidden, so hopefully by the time they can spot it they won't need to integrate any technology they find here into their own."
"Sir, without it, they'll never know."
"Perhaps, but with the relay destroyed it will take millennia for them to go near citadel space, far longer than it will take any other race. Hopefully they will have advanced on their own enough to not rely on it. Technology that we have never dreamed of will hopefully be created by these people, these primitive, peaceful, and luckily simple people, that won't know the horror of having everything around you used against you like it was against us." He looked to the gathered Protheans.
"You place much faith in them sir, we have no idea what their future will be like." Caeo'dan said.
"It is a gamble, one we must take, even if the scientists on Ilos follow their promise and the Keepers do not serve the Reapers, it's not over by a long shot." Ran said. "I will use my command codes to program the base AI to wake ten of us up at a certain point in time, so we can monitor their progress for one week, we'll be able to keep it up for a long while, the base was meant to operate for ten times our number indefinitely."
"…." Caeo'dan spoke. "I'm with you Captain, so are my men, give us the order and we'll eliminate all other out posts in the system at your command."
"Thank you chief." Ran said. "First let's get these people in the cryo bay…..they'll have a long sleep ahead of them." He turned. "I will be in the command center; I need to leave the AI some standing orders of its own. It was meant to monitor the natives of the third planet, so it shall, but it will keep tabs for any sign of Prothean culture, in case we miss anything. We'll need to wake up if those bipeds find anything."
Captain Ran had finished programming the subroutines into the base AI just as Chief Caeo'dan, the Sorano executive officer, and the other seven soldiers entered the command deck. "It's done."
"The crew and civilians are in the cryo tubes now, we estimate that with all of us the base's power will last perhaps….one hundred thousand years or so, and we could always recharge it through various means." The executive officer said. "Solar energy could perhaps recharge the power cells enough to add several years."
"I've already considered that and had the AI focus the screens to focus on the sun with each time the base comes into its light." Ran said. "Now…let's stop wasting power and oxygen and get back on board the Sorano, we still need to deal with those other outposts."
It took a full month, destroying random probes and automated stations, and finally reducing the Prothean outpost on the third planet into a crater. They also sank several stations into the gas giants or the sun, or simply set them adrift out of the system. Finally Captain Ran, the XO, and the eight special forces operators returned to the base on the red planet, hiding the Sorano in the underground hangar that was at the bottom of a deep chasm that would most likely hide it until somebody actually climbed down to get a look at it, or could see through storms and the long distance to spot the metal doors that would possibly fade in color and match the sand and rocks.
The ten Protheans entered the cryo bay, and checked on the status of the 54 survivors, finding them all stable. First the seven lesser soldiers were placed into storage, followed by the XO. Finally Caeo'dan climbed into a pod and lied back. He looked up at the captain and nodded before the captain ordered the AI to activate the pod. A metal hatch sealed Caeo'dan in, and the younger Prothean fell into a deep, preserved sleep.
Captain Ran joined him a minute later.