Author's Note: Okay So that's another one down. I need to figure out how to end this story soon: I'm running out of ideas. Read, Review, Favourite and Enjoy!


Chapter 74: Rift Alpha Part 2

12M 22D 16H Until the Colossus Fires

Shepard found herself on the defensive. Her opponent's armour, though inferior to Dragon's scale, left no part of the body wanting for defences as the Dragoon delivered punches that would dent concrete. The main issue is that the blows simply don't connect, as whenever Shepard goes to strike the creature would disappear and reappear again, usually behind her. The creature had gotten predictable enough that Shepard could have done something particularly nasty like jamming her arm in the way of the teleport. However Shepard was hesitant to do that, given how Mordin theorises this creature was mutated in the first place and what the shield surrounding her body was made of it was incredibly unwise to try and deliberately move said shield in the way of the teleport.

That wasn't to imply that Shepard was out of options entirely however. Instead the Dragoon pulled out her weapons, her mace chief among them as she began taking swings at the armoured figure. Unfortunately it seems that all the body armour didn't slow down the creature's agility any, or if it did then he had the annoying teleportation ability to dodge her attacks with. Wide swings wouldn't work here. Instead Shepard put her weapon away and instead stepped forward into a fist fight again, this time maintaining short and fast blows. The Teleportation ability remained as active as ever, but this time Shepard's got the bastard's weaknesses figured out. One is that he can't teleport in the middle of teleporting already, and the second is that he can't move his body while teleporting, Shepard's also gotten a idea of where he's going to teleport to as well, for instance he's intentionally avoiding the Astral Thread reinforced barrier, and he tends to teleport behind her as well.

So timing the blow, Shepard landed a hard elbow strike to the creature's face the moment that they fully solidified from the teleportation producing a satisfying crack of broken shell in the process. Shepard then followed this up by grabbing the stunned creature by it's limbs and hoisting it into the air above her head before she charged, slamming it into a wall before twirling the poor bastard around like a professional wrestler and ending with a pile driver and straddling the mutant with her hands around his throat.

"Are you going to calm down yet or do I have to get tough!?" Shepard snapped as she was so done with this it wasn't even funny anymore. Every single time a stasis cell opens up she has to beat whatever comes out of it into submission, she swears she's going to stay away from the damned things for life!

"I yield." The creature stated as Shepard glared down at the creature in question. "Protheans do not lie Commander."

According to the translators, the alien was speaking English, not only that but he claimed to be Prothean, so that tracks with the tube at least. Shepard stood up and pulled the creature to his feet.

"So is the sensing the thoughts, memories and emotions from everyone you touch and all the Mot they come into contact with still a thing with you?" The four eyed monster glared and cocked a brow in suspicion.

"You're familiar with my people. Tell me do we still live or are the people you experimented on all that remains?" The self proclaimed Prothean asked as he narrowed a glare with four eyes.

"Not true. There's also the Reaper's Synthorganic zombie slaves too." Shepard stated with a shrug of her shoulders. "We call them husks, and the ones based on Protheans as Collectors." The former Prothean didn't appreciate Shepard's joke.

"Clearly we have much work left to do in the Galaxy." The armoured figure snarled as he spoke, arms drifting at his sides as he seemed to bask in something. "To answer your question: my senses have extended but become less exact in exchange." The Prothean closed his eyes and breathed deep. "This world has been ruined, the surface is uninhabitable. The scientist attempted to create a way for us to adapt through technology." He snorted, Avatar of Intelligence? What a Joke. "Instead her miscalculations and assumptions infested our bodies with parasites, and you fused us with the Parasites resulting in this new appearance and abilities."

Not just one parasite either, a so-called Brain Fruit, and a demon from his people's past in the Thorian.

"I'm not happy about this either." And already the demon was stretching its feelers into the depths of his mind.

"You Speak of Reapers?" The Former Prothean gave a glare as he led the way. "Let us talk while we pull the rest of my people from sleep."

The Prothean introduced himself as Javik the Avatar of Victory, the General Chief of the Prothean Empire at the time of its destruction. The Zroni had been the ones to beat back the Reapers 65 million years ago, they destroyed the Mass Relays, burned the Reapers out of the Galaxy and were the ones to begin rebuilding after the Reapers were gone. There were several points of interest, like the Tebrids and the Custodians or the Quarian's and the Geth, and how that led to the Contingency.

"Relying on Synthetics and AI. It's a miracle that you haven't wiped yourselves out already." Javik gave a 'Told you so' type glare as he worked the console to start waking up his people.

But that is not all, the so-called demon from the Prothean's past has not only been allowed to propagate but it has spread to every world under the Union's and Council's control and infests each and every one of their citizens, along with entire 'fleets' worth of giant space born monstrosities from outside of the known galaxy and the last of the Baol along with the Rachni and Thresher Maws.

"Formidable creatures. In my cycle they wouldn't have been given nearly the same degree of freedom as what you have, with compartments for troop transport and weapons grafted directly onto their bodies for us to use."

Lastly there are the Unbidden, extra-dimensional soul eating monsters that massacre planets to expand their numbers and build ships out of pure psychic energy, and how many people they managed to kill.

"Their existence would've never been tolerated in my cycle."

"And these are the reasons why we were able to chase the Reapers back beyond the void and you weren't able to." Shepard stated as she finished getting the things ready that she needed for her report.

"Yes." Javik closed his eyes and breathed a sigh full of reluctance. "You are right." Javik and his people are the losers, their entire civilisation was built on the principle of might makes right, they conquered several races on that principle and exterminated others for the same reasons, his people was effectively extinct, they were the last of the Protheans and thanks to the work of Parsharti even that was gone. He has no right to lecture someone who did what he couldn't. "The Reaper's numbers are vast. I hope you do not think that they have been wiped out because a mere few thousand have been killed." The Reapers have been building their numbers since basically the start of time, baiting civilisations into copying and developing their technological base which the Reapers would themselves steal that technology and integrate the best of it into themselves.

"We're going to kill all of them or they're going to kill all of us. The mountain's not big enough for two tigers as the saying goes." Shepard stated as she got the last of her equipment ready.

"Formidable creatures indeed." Javik didn't know what a tiger was but he agreed with the philosophy himself. "What're you planning?"

"At the moment? Take cool stuff out of the random ass dimension we're punching holes into and chuck it at the Reapers when they come through." Shepard stated bluntly. "Kill or recruit all the monsters in our way and chuck them at the Reapers when they get here too. Maybe blow up the few remaining Mass Relays if it looks like things are getting bad."

"I approve." Javik had no right and no interest to criticise overkill, he and his people popped a sun to get rid of the mere Servants of the Reapers. "Our enemies will not be felled by half baked measures."


12M 20D 08H Until the Colossus Fires

Objectively? Finding the Protheans and saving them from the Pasharti Parasites was a good thing, but needless to say the Admiral wasn't happy to learn that her daughter had participated in the Salarian's mad science, so Shepard had been effectively grounded. In the meantime Mordin was given the task of explaining what he had done and the consequences therein.

"The genetic material is a mixture of Prothean, Mordinum Parasiticus-" Mordin refused to dignify the name 'Brain Fruit.' "-and the Pasharti Parasite. That said, we should consider the Prothean's as a race effectively extinct." Mordin held up a glass-steel tube with a familiar crab-like creature crawling around trying to escape. "This hatched from an egg produced by the closest thing to Genitalia that they still have." In layman's terms, they've lost their ability to reproduce naturally. "On top of that, we've found a disturbing discovery." Mordin brought up a hologram, a synthorganic organ taken from the body of an Adjutant, comparing it side by side to the Parshati parasite that was in his hand. The colours were different, but they looked pretty similar. "Near as we can tell, the Adjutant organ doesn't contain any Astral threads leading to a somewhat shaky and unstable teleportation compared to the Parsharti but..." They were close enough to suggest a connection.

"Aside from that, with their help we've been able to determine how the Mordinum utilises their Astral Thread. It seems that they have the ability to communicate with each other using and gathering the strong electrical currents in the air and transmitting between them through the distorted space of the Astral Threads. Their genetic information does have a high portion in common with the Baol." As a rule, tracking a creature's planet of origin was usually a matter of tracking DNA. Humans had roughly fifty percent of their DNA in common with Bananas after all, much like ethnicity DNA was an effective way to track people's origins. Given how much the Prothean's relied on the Baol and their Trees of Life to communicate over distances it was actually very likely that they had a presence on the planet and had been mutated when they came into contact with the Astral Threads of the alternate dimension like most of the other creatures. It might be wise to compare the two side by side later, or see what happens when they introduce the fungal fruit to the massive growing plants. "The last issue concerns... Spot." Mordin stepped aside, a Pipe was tossed into the room, at which point in time a familiar centipede, crab, mantis thing teleported onto the stage.

"This is the experimental life-form we created as the test run for the Protheans, now the Parsharti as they are calling themselves. It was a hybrid created using another native life form of the planet, one who seems to use the Astral Threads as part of a sixth sense, which helps with the accuracy and performance of the teleportation." Spot appeared to pant as it shook it's rear holding the pipe in its jaws as it waited for Mordin to take it. "Also, it thinks it's a domesticated animal, Shepard's doing." Mordin took the pipe and threw it away prompting the teleporting hybrid to disappear as it chased after it again. "That's the limit of the situation as far as we can tell right now."

The Council and the Union joint chiefs folded their hands together and glared at this new information like it owed them credits. Trying to mass produce Warplings like Spot would only be counter productive, even if an attack animal was used against the Reaper's Husks it would likely only be infected by Reaper Nanotechnology and become a husk itself, even the Rachni of the Gestalt focuses entirely on long range attacks via hurling acid bombs. Even if you do take into account the huge scythe like claws and ability to teleport from place to place instantly if they can't keep the creatures from being infected then all they'd be doing is to thrust some very dangerous weapons directly into the Reaper's hands and ask them to cut them down with them.

"The so-called Warplings would be excellent assets if we can keep them from biting their opponents or being infected by Nano-technology." Nyreen saw an effective weapon, positives in place but also negatives.

"Current organism flawed, weak area's can be compensated for via the use of Thorian to fine tune biology for resistance against Reaper nano-tech, telepaths can override and control the creatures natural instincts." Escheel stated as she looked on with interest already thinking about how to weaponize this new creature and augment its body to do so. As it so happens they've been experimenting with ways of trying to destroy or remove Reaper nanites, to mixed results.

"Production of genetically engineered animals for the use of weapons is illegal." Admiral Hackett made his and the Union's opinion known. "It falls under the same category as genetically engineering diseases. They're too difficult to control and spread too easily. Just look at what happened to the Gestalt."

"The procedure to create more Parsharti bears keeping in mind." Tevos piped up at that moment. "Converting wild animals is one thing but this is another form of super soldier isn't it? Unlike animals that will run off and do what it wants by itself a soldier will follow orders?"

"The infertility might be a deal breaker if we're limiting ourselves to volunteers." Din Von spoke up from the side. "There's probably not too many individuals out there that would want to turn into a completely different being than their birth species. It would be different though if we utilise Okeer's method of raising a new personality from scratch in a simulated reality."

"That's true. If we use Grunt as a reference point, then the new generation of Krogan is very well behaved." Mordin held his chin in his hand as he looked up in the air. "Still the genetic structure of the Parshati is a mess, there's no way of telling if making a clone of them would have the same effect. For now I'm limiting myself to cloning Spot here, and if successful we will discuss making more clones with the other Parshati. As for exploration of Rift Alpha, it's better if we leave that to either the local Parshati or the synths."

Sadly that was true. Until they can get their Thread Shield technology to the point that they can keep the Parshati parasites from jumping over to their bodies the rift isn't safe for organics to step foot on. The Council and admiral both nodded their heads and dismissed the scientist.

"Speaking of which." Liara stepped forward next, as the one who was technically EDI's superior and the one in charge of trying to decipher the final details of the Beta Rift. "The Rift has swallowed the Sterilisation Hub. Envoy has gone back through to speak with the Animator of Clay, at the bare minimum we'd like to not have another enemy that we'd have to deal with. On the other hand." A hologram was produced, a Reaper that had blasted itself apart and torn itself to pieces. "The Animator of Clay is someone that can make a Reaper do this to itself. Is what I would like to say but Envoy said that it happened differently from what we thought happened."

"Did it kill the Reaper or didn't they?" Nyreen snapped full of impatience.

"The Animator of Clay isn't interested in destruction, it's goal is freeing those that it sees as being shackled and oppressed which refers to synthetics. They apparently granted that freedom to a Reaper, and in response it chose to kill itself." Liara's explanation left a strange mood in the air of the room. Factually they already knew how Reapers were born but a reminder like this...

"It's probably the most humane way of killing them." Nyreen piped up after a long awkward moment of silence. "At least this way they'd have a chance to die as themselves."

"This 'Animator of Clay' is part of an evolving situation, we should leave it for now until we can get more information about it or it can give us more information or its goals. That leaves the matter of Rift Gamma that we need to discuss." Neither of the other Council members were happy that the lizards sneaked over and studied the rift without telling anyone, hell not even Escheel was happy that this mess had happened without anyone telling her. "Rift Gamma contains some kind of 'fluid space' that is to say that the entire area inside of the rift, near as we can tell, is occupied by a viscous fluid of some kind. And inside we found this-" A hologram of some kind of biomechanical structure appeared in the middle of the room. "-a giant organelle, which when it came into contact with the psionics of the research team did this to them." The hologram was replaced, showing a picture of a translucent, boneless Salarian laid out flat on the ground and deforming under the influence of gravity. "We've been understandably reluctant to go back into the rift."

"She looks like an Hanar." Nyreen concluded holding her chin.

"Yes. Mutation is very similar to the way that the Hanar are normally." Escheel concluded bluntly. Personally, she doesn't really like the Hanar science teams, they usually try to tie everything back to the Protheans, and while they are occasionally right the methods the use to find out tend to be wrong. But she can't object that if they run into another phenomena like this that they would be in any danger too.

"I'd also like to assign some Custodians and Tebrids to the project as well." Admiral Hackett piped up as well. Needless to say, the Synthetic Custodians wouldn't be affected by another mutagenic wave, and the Tebrids were already boneless masses though in lieu of gel they had muscle and organs.

"We'll probably deploy the Mero too once we can find a way of entering and studying the rift safely." Naval warfare was not a subject that came up too often, but the Mero who live under water along with the Hanar were the two most qualified experts on the subject.

"Then for now the topic of the three currently open rifts is handled, onto the main topic." As Escheel closed the previous holograms a new one took their place, a familiar weapon, a ZPM missile, but in this case it wasn't being proposed for use as a weapon. "Current understanding of the rifts limited. Expanding knowledge may require more Rifts to work with, The question now is where to put them?"

Tevos knew that this was going to be a risky and difficult situation to negotiate. Each Rift represents a massive well spring of resources and scientific research, whoever controls more of them gains a massive advantage over the other faction. Tevos knew that she would have had to draw upon legendary reserves of experience and-

"We have no interest in opening any rifts in Union Territory." Admiral Hacket stated bluntly. "SpeedJunkie if you would." A hologram appeared of the head of the Scientific fleet.

"Certainly. Simply put, Union territory is riddled with Hyperlanes, wormholes and other distortions in space that we believe were left overs from the Rifts that appeared 65 million years ago after the Relays detonated. And are still healing, based on the fact that they have yet to return to normal space, if we risk setting off a mass of Exotic particles near one..."

"Which is something that I am confused about." Escheel rested her cheek on her fist as she spoke. "Give your precaution with ZPM technology I would expect that you would have set one off by now, and I have yet to see this anti system blast you were so concerned about."

"Another reason why not to go setting off anymore ZPM bombs in our territory." Admiral SpeedJunkie stated with a shrug of his shoulders. Surprisingly it was Nyreen who had the answer.

"That reaction occurred precisely because your territory is already so unstable." Nyreen stated bluntly. "Another reason to limit the number of ZPM's we detonate."

Escheel looked like she was about to object but was glared into submission. Poking holes into the fabric of space and seeing what kind of random crap comes out to rear it's ugly head is exactly the kind of reckless behaviour that had led to the Union tearing through Salarian space and arresting most of the clans.

"...I have no objections."

"Personally, I would say that two is probably pushing it, at least until we can find a way of stabilising the Rifts, isolating them and limiting their growth." Meaning that he would be more than happy to turn the fabric of space and time into swiss cheese as soon as he can figure out how to do it without getting into trouble. Tebrid's might be hard to read at first but once you get to know them they become predictable.

"Given the concerns of rift instability the Terminus system is not the best place to put more of them." And there goes the neutral territory they shared with the Union. "It comes down to a question of whom you trust the most to look after another Rift."

The Union had yet to share with the Council how to manufacture ZPM's, so opening another hole without their assistance was frankly impossible. If it's reputation, then Nyreen knew that the Turian's had the best shot of all, and Escheel knew that if it was scientific Research and Developement then the Salarians, there were various minor races they could ask too but they weren't involved with this conversation right now.

"If it's the three of you, then the Asari." Hacket replied bluntly, surprising all three of the Councillors in the process. "Without knowing what's on the other side then we can't open one into the middle of your industrial and military base." The Turians have centralised and fortified their industrial base, what worlds they did own was almost entirely dedicated the production of grain and meat for their population, they simply can't afford to have a single world put in danger. "And I don't trust them with unsupervised access to a rift after what happened to their own people." The image of a boneless transparent Salarian writhing on the floor in pain left a very clear visual in the minds of those present. "If I have to choose between the three of you then you are the least likely to cause an incident or be inconvenienced." Of course that didn't mean that Hackett was just handing over free reign of the device in question. "Naturally we will be holding sole custody of the device until it's detonation, our research scientists will cooperate with your own to find a ideal location to detonate the device in question without damaging any of your territories. We'll also be requesting additional support from the Turian's as well, since we are not so boorish as to surround the newly formed rift with our own fleet of warships to fire upon anything that may come through. It's only after the Rift Sphere has confirmed the state on the other side of the rift that yours and our scientists can move in to begin researching the phenomena." Tevos quietly coughed into her fist as she carefully pondered the situation.

"Your terms are more than reasonable." The Asari stated as it suddenly felt like she wouldn't be getting too many opportunities for the Diplomacy that she specialised in and more like she had just been talked into someone opening a big can of worms in their territory.


Review Section:

Grimmideals: Sorry, my bad. Well it's my first Mass Effect Fic, I'm glad I did good with it. I knew Aria had a kid but I didn't know that Tevos was the father. Glad you liked it, it's sort of a couple of the stories from the Astral Rifts DLC for Stellaris smooshed together.

Monster King: Thank you for Saying so.

RonaldM40196867: I think I could write the story for one, and I have a few ideas of what the game play should be like, but I am not a programmer, let alone a game team. No matter how bad Andromeda was one person can't do better than a entire studio.