A. N.

All right… apparently my little reference to the Hapsburg dynasty wasn't quite as obscure or as clever as I thought it would be. Still, it is nice to know I am not the only one on this site who likes history.

As for why this chapter is so late, I blame school, my addiction to the internet, and my discovery of A Song of Ice and Fire.

2220-2224: Playing God

If you were to ask an average citizen of almost any species, nationality, or location in the galaxy what their opinion of the species called Vorcha was, and you would likely receive one of two responses; "Vermin", or a blank stare followed by a tentative question of what a Vorcha was.

Needless to say, the species was not held in high regard by most, if any, galactic powers. Most in Citadel Space considered them to be a lower species, and were content to ignore them, while others in the Terminus Systems viewed them as a pestilence to be exterminated, enslaved, or used as cannon fodder. This was not helped by the fact that the species had absolutely nothing that even approached a central government; all the Vorcha in the galaxy at large were the descendants of stowaways of the vessels of incredibly shortsighted pirates and slavers that landed on their homeworld in the Terminus, and had never organized themselves in groups larger than wandering bands and mercenary groups.

Up until humanity's arrival on the galactic stage, the only government that had been in favor of an attempt to uplift the Vorcha, whether the stowaways or those still on their homeplanet, was the Asari Republics, and they made scant headway on the matter. Most in Citadel Space dismissed this idea out of hand and chalked it up to the specie's democratic tendencies, to offer anyone and everyone a chance at participation in galactic society, even if it meant spending trillions trying to get them to a position where they even could participate at all. And even among their own number, there was no shortage of skeptics to the proposition.

After First Contact with humanity, however, the Republics found a new ally in their unrealized idea. Unfortunately for any pro-uplifting asari, the Systems Alliance had far different concerns for the next half a century, namely advancing technologically and integrating into Citadel culture. Even after the initial requirements for this were met, the human government remained focused on its own internal development and made few attempts to influence the galaxy at large on its own initiative, beyond smashing pirate and slaver bases whenever and wherever the Alliance Fleets could find them.

However, in the aftermath of the Verge War, and particularly after the Alliance made contact with the Raloi, humanity began to develop an interest in bringing more races of the galaxy into the Citadel fold. While in no position to undertake the endeavor themselves, given the need to protect their new colonies and the Free Batarian Coalition, humanity began to reach out to their close friend and ally on supporting the process.

The initial discussions on the experiment was kept under wraps between the two governments at first, and with good reason; when the news was eventually given out that the two races were planning to try to uplift the highly unpopular species immediately caused an immediate outcry. The Salarian Union in particular was vocal in their protests; they still remembered their mistakes from the uplifting of the krogan, and seeing a second violent species being tampered with had the dalatrasses up in arms. The humans and asari countered that, since so many Vorcha were already in the galaxy, it was only a matter of time before technology began to trickle back to their homeworld of Heshtok, leading to the possibility of the species undergoing a technological explosion that could bring them onto the galactic stage violently, upsetting the balance of power in the Terminus, and if the Council attempted to intervene, it would certainly mean war with countless warlords that made up that sector of the galaxy. It was better, therefore, to guide them themselves, to make sure that this did not happen, or at the very least, ensure that there was a faction of Vorcha that were friendly to the Citadel races.

Eventually, the two governments were able to obtain the Council's begrudging blessing for the enterprise, with the expected provision of Spectre oversight. Gathering the best of their genetic scientists, as many experts on the vorcha as they could find, and all of the support staff and facilities that those in charge of the project required, the combined human-asari research team went to work on their project to bring the wayward species to civilization.

Before experimentation on the Vorcha to make them capable of interacting in modern society, however, the Asari and Alliance scientists needed to fully understand the species genome. While the species unique ability to adapt on an individual level to different environments and stresses, as well as heal at a rate that could only be matched by the Krogan, there was very little record of their actual genetic code, due to the specie's rarity in Council Space. Fully understanding their baseline genetic structure was vital before they began to drastically alter it.

Once this process was compete, there was the issue of developing the needed genetic modifications. While the adaptive abilities of the Vorcha were extraordinary, they did not apply to their cranial size or brain matter; these matters would have to be dealt with artificially. Manipulating the Vorcha's mental facilities was the highest priority of the project; in addition to simple racism and their poor reputation, one of the main reasons why the species was so low and so looked down upon was their severely limited intelligence. Finding a Vorcha that could speak a single, unbroken sentence in proper language was a rarity.

This took up two of the research team's first four years of the operation, testing their theories on lifeforms native to Heshtok. It was not until the procedure was perfected to the best of the scientists' knowledge that it was finally applied to actual Vorcha, test-tube grown clones of volunteers found scraping an existence in the Attican Traverse.

Sadly, this first attempt at genetic engineering more intelligent Vorcha did not go well, in spite of all precautions and tests. While almost all of the clones that had been grown had survived to be "born", and had shown signs of increased intelligence, to the point of being able to become as intelligent as the average human in almost half the infants, there had been a severe side effect of the experiments; almost all of the resulting infants had their metabolisms greatly increased by the process, in some cases double than normal for the species. As most Vorcha did not live long past 20 years, this meant that if the genetic program was accepted as it was, than the species would hardly be able to live in galactic society, as their lives would be even shorter, in some cases lasting barely a decade befor they died of old age.

Dismayed, the Alliance and Asari scientists returned to their work, after ensuring that the infant Vorcha were given as good an upbringing as possible. This was the focus of the remaining time in the four initial years of the project, as the scientists worked find a way to reduce the metabolism of the Vorcha without sacrificing their newfound brain power and size. The handful of test-tube babies that had not suffered this side-effect ensured that this stage of research was not nearly as long or as difficult as it would have been otherwise, as the scientists were able to determine the cause of their retaining their species' initial metabolism level and expending on it to ensure the next group of Vorcha children lived longer lives, if at the cost of healing and adaptation rate.

These Vorcha were far more fortunate than their predecessors. When born, each individual retained the intelligence increase, and also a longer life expectancy. The exact increase varied from one child to another, ranging from just a few years to half again as long as average. One Vorcha, nicknamed "Ambrosia" by the scientists, was expected to live for 38 years, close to the average lifespan of a salarian.

With the genetic therapies completed, the Alliance-Republics science team at last had a blueprint to bring the Vorcha species out of their own personal dark age. Bringing in more Vorcha from all over the galaxy, the group began to mass-clone more Vorcha. While keeping the newly uplifted species alive and growing entirely by cloning was suggested, it was discarded because it would create an unhealthy psychological environment for the new Vorcha settlement being planned; living in a world where almost everyone looked exactly like you and that you could easily be replaced with another person was something the scientists did not want the newborn children growing up in such an environment. Because of this, cloning would continue until the population of newly intelligent Vorcha was large enough to sustain itself, with the scientists making sure to create clones from a wide range of individuals to avoid inbreeding later, at which point cloning would cease.

Towards the end of 2224, the science team announced their results to the Asari Republics, as that government was the main financer of the project, saying that the project to uplift the Vorcha was, thus far, a success. Those that had been supportive of the endeavor were quick to celebrate, and word rapidly spread across the galaxy, the majority of people hearing the news with either excitement, or apprehension. Still, there were many who still voiced dissent in the matter, and ironically, the loudest of the opposition was coming from the supporter of the project, The Systems Alliance. There were many humans, particularly amongst the religious communities, that were strongly opposed to the idea of meddling so drastically in this, or any, species development. Many accused the scientists of being ego driven, and trying to "play God", tampering with things that should not be tampered with.

The operation continued, and would continue to be successful, but it would always face criticism on this front.