30/06/2020

Another possible outcome if the Andromeda mission succeeded in the Catalyst universe. The conversation that Harper has with them has so many possibilities, and so many outcomes.

The Catalyst For Revenge: Andromeda
Familiar Faces, Possibility 3

-cfr:a-

Harper smiled pleasantly at the women sitting across from him. He used the word 'woman' advisedly. They were blue and had firm tendrils on their head. Asari.

Not what he had been expecting to find in Andromeda. But it was not just Asari. There was a Krogan also represented and a Human. They were staring fixedly at him and his party.

"I must say, it is a surprise to find," he paused, "well, you, here," he said with good humour.

They'd detected the comm signals when they'd stopped in the void to scan Andromeda. That had allowed them to put forward a more 'human' face over Ascended. It gave them time to think and they would not discover the truth.

Shepard was listening to the conversation. Harper could feel him via his implants. There were many Human Ascended watching and he wouldn't be surprised if some of the audience he could feel comprised of Harbinger and the other elder Ascended such as Arshan and Fruben.

Still, the commentary was not distracting. After five or so years in his Ascended form, on the journey over, he was used to it again.

"It was a surprise for us as well," the leading Asari matriarch replied.

"I take it we have both learned to record history well," Harper said, fishing for their real answer.

"Indeed," the woman replied. She seemed to understand his unspoken question. "I'll be blunt, our records unfortunately didn't hold much hope for Humanity," she said.

"She really was blunt," Shepard muttered, voicing the surprise most felt. The Asari were usually prepared to dance around a subject for hours, or days even. Ascension hadn't changed that.

"She still didn't say why," Harper countered. He gave the Matriarch a lopsided smile. It let her know he was still waiting.

"We thought you'd be dead," it was the Krogan that spoke. "The idiot Council…"

The Krogan didn't have to say anything else.

"They tried," Harper replied. He nodded at the Krogan but his focus was on the Asari. They didn't seem offended. That was a surprise. The Asari were generally protective of their Council.

"Indeed, the records we have indicate that while the Council might not have pursued a specific war of extinction, they were going to subjugate your species." The Matriarch was scrolling through some information on a datapad.

"They tried," Harper repeated. He wanted to hack the datapad, but that wouldn't be polite and at the moment they were being polite.

"We'll get it later," Shepard assured him.

"There was a war," Harper told them what their records had probably told them already. "It ended when an outside force attacked." That was sort of the truth. Almost.

"The Reapers," the Human spoke. They held up a hologram. It was blurry but it was definitely a Reaper form.

Harper nodded. He tapped at his datapad, allowing it to project a similar hologram. It would have projected if he just thought at it. The tapping was to add filters to the image so that it appeared aged, as if the record had been preserved all that time, much like theirs. It was a contemporary image of Shepard. He laughed in his mind.

"The Reapers," he repeated the term. "When they appeared, the Council knew we had been telling the truth. The Traverse knew as did the Terminus systems."

"They should never have doubted," the Asari matriarch sighed. The other Asari with her nodded. "They knew," she said. "Our records are clear! That's why we're here! We knew what was coming! The Asari were the keepers of a Prothean beacon. It told us what was coming.

"That's why we are here. We knew Shepard wasn't lying. We knew we shouldn't be fighting the Humans, or the Krogan or anyone else. We should have been preparing yet they were too concerned with peace.

"When it became obvious to us that the Council would not fight, a group of Matriarchs sponsored what we know as the Andromeda mission. It's unclear but we think parts of the Systems Alliance sponsored it as well. We took everyone we could. But we couldn't take many."

"Did we sponsor this?" Shepard asked, directing the question towards Hackett and Anderson. Udina was included but only peripherally.

"If we did, it was completely off the books." Anderson replied without even pausing. He'd probably already checked.

"It could have been someone's pet project," Udina offered the alternative. His subchannels provided reasoning. In the early days of the war, if you could have been known as the one who managed to secure peace, that would have been automatic power for any politician. In a weird way, the project would have been one way of suing for peace. Except it never became public.

Harper dismissed it. It didn't matter.

The Asari sighed heavily again. "For what it's worth, six hundred thousand years after the fact, I am sorry." The Asari bowed her head.

Harper stared. Through his implants he wasn't the only one.

"Darn," Shepard murmured. It was heartfelt. Harper understood the reasoning. They'd been prepared to fight for Andromeda. Discovering Milky Way species here hadn't changed that. But discovering Asari that were showing contrition for the past, even if it was the distant past, that was a surprise. If they were truly this sensible…

"We can ascend them," Harper gave the possibility.

"I've tried how many experiments with Asari to see if they can be sensible… All it takes is isolation?"

"Six hundred thousand years after the fact, I thank you," Harper replied using the same terminology.

"I take it, it ended well, at least?" the human asked.

Harper lowered his eyes, looking to the side. "It was a bloodbath," he replied. The Asari might be saying sensible things but he was not prepared to be merciful. "The galaxy was not prepared. Hundreds of millions died that didn't need to."

The Asari lowered their heads. Cultural guilt.

"Or good acting," Shepard gave the pessimistic alternative.

"Idiots," the Krogan muttered. "But you survived." There was a note of pride colouring the Krogan's tone.

"We did what we had to," Harper admitted. He leaned back, crossing his legs as he looked over at the delegation. "As I'm sure you had to," he added.

"You speak as if it's personal for you?" The Krogan noted.

"An affectation," Harper dismissed that with a smile. "I look forward to establishing relationships."

"As do we," the Asari said gently. "Though we note there are no others species," she added, gesturing vaguely towards the group sitting with Harper. They were all Human.

"Tell them whatever you want," Shepard said.

"There are only Humans in the first wave," Harper said.

"Oh Goddess, you are not still subject to the Council?" The Asari actually sounded concerned.

"No," Harper chuckled. "There is no Council."

She didn't sigh in relief, but it seemed to come close.

"I think we are going to have to Ascend them," Shepard sighed. That told Harper that the Asari weren't lying. "I'll get the fleet moving."

"There is a Galactic Collective instead," he said. "Hundreds of species, all working together to ensure galactic harmony."

The Asari frowned. It was slight, but it was there. "So why only Humans?" She asked. She managed to make it a soft curiosity.

"Because the rest of the galaxy doesn't know we came," Harper said. He held up one hand to forestall other questions, allowing the blurry hologram of Shepard to change into a galactic map. It was kind of ironic that Humanity claimed much of what the Council named Inner Council Space.

"We are the most advanced species, we guide the others," he announced.

"Guide them?"

Harper grinned. "Towards Ascension," he announced.

He could see confusion in the Asari's expression. Apparently, they hadn't recorded their history that well. At least not the details about what their VI was warning them about.

Alarms sounded. Confusion flashed into worry. It took a moment for them to realise that the Humans weren't concerned. The fleet was here.

Small holograms appeared on the Asari, Krogan and Human wrists. "Them?" The Human gasped.

"You didn't win?" the Krogan roared.

"We did what we had to," Harper repeated. He remained leaning back as the battles began. In space, the Ascended opened fire first. In the room, further alarms sounded and those sitting with Harper attacked, matching the Asari, the Krogan and the Human blow for blow.

He relaxed. This was far more like the encounter he'd been expecting.

-cfr:a-

Review please. :D

A couple of people requested something that actually was dangerous to the Ascended, and while I understand the sentiment, after 600,000 or so years of only growing and putting everyone (or nearly everyone) into ship format, there's not a lot I can see that would stand up to that. Not many civilisations, would devote that much to war, for that long. I'll think about it.

And to the lovely person who said they wouldn't mind paying a little bit (especially if the schedule was similar to Catalyst), that's very sweet, but I only kept up that posting schedule because I had all the chapters pre-written. I don't write that fast. Fast sure, but not quite that fast, and there's times (like at the moment), where I just CBA.

Thanks for reading.