Author's Note: Just when I think I've had enough of this story. Read, Review, Favourite and Enjoy!

Chapter 81: The Great Rift Part 2

?M ?D ?H Until the Colossus Fires

The operation to capture the Hunter was... not getting off the ground. In simple terms? Everything they know about the Reapers comes from half baked information, a combination of the one time they took Sovereign apart, scavenging Reaper corpses, and second hand information ripped from the minds of the Batarian's that were working inside of the Leviathan back on Khar'Shan. None of this told Shepard such highly relevant things as to how or where the Reapers/Leviathans build in their fail safes that keep their slaves/other Reapers from rebelling against them. If there was something convenient like a giant transmitter that they could just blow up-

"Hey quick question." The various assembly of Green skin Asari, said green skin now under poncho's of Thorian woven Spider Silk, Synthorg Collectors, and whatever other allies that Shepard and company had under their control including Miranda. "Do we know how the bastards are talking to each other?" Shepard asked as she turned to face her war council, for lack of a better term.

"I know that my father was using the tachyon transmitter to send his schematics to the Reapers."

"So the only thing we know is that they can use the experimental super transmitter that to our knowledge only one of which exists and which was probably already dismantled. If not intentionally then as a by product of... all of this!" Shepard stated indicating one of the Collectors that were in the area. "Dragon's we're being indoctrinated aren't we?"

"What makes you think that?" Miranda asked looking concerned.

"Cause none of this Mot is weird to me anymore!" Shepard complained and smacked her head into the table.

"So what do we do?" Miranda let out a sigh and leaned her head into her fist.

"Let's start by making sure nothing's tampering with our minds while we look for Lawson's transmitter." Leo stated helpfully while he started to go through Lawson's computer systems.

11M 08D 21H Until the Colossus Fires

The Boarder was kept tight, though the science stations were able to watch the Reaper's circling around looking for a opening to get inside they weren't necessarily able to snipe them from the distance they were at, yet. The bastards might not want to give up but they also didn't want to keep losing ships. The Union knew how they felt, because they didn't want to send their people out after them either. It did however leave them at something of a stalemate. So they opted to ignore the problem, at least until the people watching the borders told them that they were coming. Instead they focused their attention on other potential threats while they worked on building themselves up.

"What do you know about the rest of your people?" Admiral Amanda Shepard was the head of the exploratory fleet, and while she would like nothing more than to plunge the depths of the Great Rift and figure out where her daughter was, to do that safely she needed to know what threats were waiting for them inside of the Rift. If the worst that they would find was Reapers? That was fine, in fact it would be fantastic if that was the worst they'd have to deal with. They've been studying the Reapers for years, they've developed weapons and tactics specifically to counteract them, and they've been stock piling them. But that left the question of 'are the Reapers the worst thing we have to deal with in there?'

"The rest of our people were like us." The Formless ambassador stated in simple terms. "Explorers, scientists and builders. We were linked together in a collective consciousness, we no more fought among ourselves than you would punch yourself in the face."

"But then the Unbidden, the Vehement and the Aberrant are a thing." Admiral Shepard stated bluntly as she looked at pictures of the three factions in question.

"Correct." The purple entity held its chin in an approximation of human behaviour. "Their behaviour makes no sense to us."

"Makes no sense as in 'we do not comprehend violence?' Or makes no sense as in 'we're missing huge chunks of the series of events here?'" Amanda didn't like where this was going.

"They are like this because of degradation, they were no longer able to sustain themselves as efficiently as we are able to without our stockpile and drip feed."

"Which is why they resorted to sucking planets dry." Amanda stated in simple terms.

"But who drove them to do so? Why were they so focused on expanding their numbers so much? What led them to go around and start eating worlds?" The Formless asked raising the hard questions, for lack of a better term.

The Formless got to be in the situation they are in right now in part because they over expanded, the Unbidden resorted to such aggressive tactics partly because they didn't have enough psionic energy to go around, so instead they decided to increase their numbers as aggressively as possible? That didn't make sense.

"A psi-entity then, like the Animator of Clay?"

If there were one, then there could be more. They didn't know what the early civilisations were like. When you look at the Reaper's indoctrination you'd think that there have been a massive number of different psionic races. Instead it appears to be opposite, during the last cycle there were many non-psi races that got turned into Reapers, in fact the Protheans who were very potent psionics, were completely ignored and instead turned into Collectors.

"Is it possible the Reapers are actually scared of psykers?" Admiral Shepard asked as she held her chin in thought.

"Them or what they drew into this plane of existence?" The Animator of Clay was a being that drops Reapers as a byproduct of its existence. So what else do they have to deal with from beyond the rifts?

?M ?D ?H Until the Colossus Fires

Wander and the other extradimensionals were making rounds as they continued work on their bridge, relatively out of harms way.

The Animator of Clay and the Hunter had been in a stalemate for quite some time now, so they were relatively confident that they could build a path leading to their destination. For now the activities of their mortal ally were suspicious. A new machine was being built on the surface of the planet, a large dish that was affecting the gravity that was around it and disturbed space. If it affected their own project then it could cause a serious delay, so Wander came over to Aratoht where Shepard and the others were located in order to investigate the situation.

The New Tachyon transmitter was being equal parts grown and built. After he was done with it Lawson had dismantled his Tachyon transmitter, but there were parts didn't survive the destruction of the Mass Relays that now had to be replaced using technorganic slurry. While watching this process unfold Shepard spotted the familiar Unbidden Corvette she knew Wander was using arrive back in the area.

"Yo." Shepard waved over the energy being with her arm. "While you're here do you think you can check to see if that thing up there is messing with my mind?"

"What are you doing?" Wander couldn't see any damage to Shepard's mind.

The Brain produced psychic energy, Brain damage like what the Reapers cause creates blank spots in this field of psychic energy. But even with a Reaper in orbit and Reaper technology all around them the Thorian still protected Shepard and healed and replaced any damaged parts of the brain.

"Getting this thing working so that we can talk to 'The Hunter' up there." Shepard pointed to the sky to indicate the Harbinger in the air. "This seems ill-advised." It was hard to tell expressions from a facless creature made out of psychic crystal, but Wander's hesitation and concern was obvious. "Ignoring the obvious concerns." Like indoctrination or the risk of indoctrination. "Your transmitter will disturb the space and gravity in the region. Construction of the bridge will be delayed."

"True. True. But consider this, the biggest thing slowing you guys down is a lack of material right?" There was only so much they could scavenge from the destroyed Unbidden world, and most of it had been scattered off, construction had been slowed because of this, and likely would cease before they could finish building the bridge, which was a massive point of inconvenience for them. "Well there's a massive material generator right up there." Shepard was of course indicating the Harbinger in the sky. "Getting its cooperation means that your resource uptake will shoot up. Or like you said, this is all a train of thought shoved into my head by all the Reaper tech that's around me." Hence she checked for indoctrination. "Mostly though, I just don't want to be stuck on this rock when negotiations break down and that thing comes here to kill us all."

"Just being able to talk to it isn't going to be enough to make peace." Wander knew that better than anyone. Lawson broke down and remade his body into something that could communicate on the most crude level, not once or even twice but several times, so he knew better than anyone that just speaking the same language was not enough.

"That's why we have the Codex." The Antikythera Codex, the one that Legion put together to snap off the Reaper's hold on the Contingency, now if they can pump it directly into a Reaper, or even better a Harbinger, and snap it out of the other Reaper's control. They even tested it with the Collectors turned Synthorg's just to make sure. "We snap the Hunter out of the Reaper Hive mind, get it on our side, and then turn it against the Reapers. Profit."

"Do not be arrogant." Javik appeared next to Shepard. "There are many individuals who believed they could control the Reapers in my cycle. They are dead now." Of course, that's true for the ones who thought they could destroy the Reapers during his cycle too.

"Frankly I'd just settle for 'go fly into a black hole.'" Shepard stated as if she had brought up the obvious solution.

"Agreed." Javik stated without hesitation. "You have been more successful than I, so I won't question your methods, but this is a bad idea." With that Javik left again this time heading off to parts unknown.

11M 01D 12H Until the Colossus Fires

The Eden System had a visitor, a giant ghostly visitor the size of a small moon with an apple core like vortex and a ring of powdered Zro around it. More important than that, it was mobile, actively dragging itself across the Eden System via what appeared to be Telekinetics. Was it a threat? That answer came with the first attempt to rip one of the rings off of Eden Prime, and was given a response in the form of a point blank tachyon lance punching clean through to the other side. Then after a few hours worth of inquiries a likely explanation as to what this thing was found.

"A Corrupted Avatar?" Admiral SpeedJunkie asked in response to what he was just told. "Didn't you guys hunt those way back when?"

"Yes." Xidre replied as he looked on through the view screen at the sight of the cored Rift Born monster. "The ones we use to hunt were smaller than this. If it feeds on psionic energy then it would've had a lot to eat for the past several dozen million years." The pocket dimension beyond the rifts after all are effectively made of psychic energy, so it had a huge amount of food to feed off of. So why did it leave? "Did it decide to follow the refugees? But why did it attack?"

"Was it sent here to attack us?" The two figures turned to face Adrien Victus, the decorated Turian General who made waves when the Prethoryn attacked. "We already know about the Animator of Clay, so it's possible that there're other entities in the Rift, and some of them may be hostile."

For one thing, the Animator of Clay wasn't exactly an ally either. Every time one of their ships gets close to it the entire thing goes haywire from the Animator trying to 'free' them.

"Call another meeting with the Animator of Clay." Xidre stated to the Flerkin aide that he had waiting for him to the side.

"You'd think that if there were more like it out there the Animator of Clay would've let us know." As a Scientist, SpeedJunkie was annoyed that their ostentatious ally didn't share with them this highly relevant piece of information. It wasn't that the Animator of Clay thought that it was valuable, no the more likely explanation was that he didn't care about it or it's contents, anything beyond it's mission to spread it's banner of 'freedom' across the galaxy was irrelevant.

For now an inquiry was put forth, and though the Envoy didn't know what its associate knew it, unlike them, could simply ask.

?M ?D ?H Until the Colossus Fires

For now the contents of the Codex was transmitted to the Hunter.

"Now all that we have to do is wait for-" Suddenly the base camp disappeared, replaced by an area that can be at best described as cozy, surrounded by a shell of circuits and darkness. "Well this is rather unusual." Shepard wasn't able to move her limbs, but the darkness was soon replaced by a three sixty degree view of the surroundings. "Hmm. The Reapers are about the size of a fore limb, there are a few that look to be about as big as me but not many. So this is one of the Hunter's memories?" A familiar sight, a Unbidden ship riding into the area on Mass Effect Fields, and then many more. "So this was after your initial invasion attempt then."

The memory played on fast forward. More and more Unbidden, swarming the Reapers, overwhelming them with numbers, cracking open their shells with matter disentegrators and making more of them with the psychic energy of the Reaper's as a power source. The Harbingers weren't combatants, they had to stay away from the front lines while the other Reapers did the fighting. But even entire system's worth of distance away it was easy to see what they were building, a huge tunnel that looked like it was made out of Zro and Astral thread. As for what purpose it served-

"You damned fool." The unmistakably deep synthesized voice of a Reaper. "You know not what you unleashed. I pity you." The funnel activated, a bright blood red light emerged from its depths of the funnel, and then a monster spilled forth.

And then Shepard was returned to the base camp that she and others had built around the Tachyon transmitter. Shepard turned her attention to the half built bridge in the distance, or rather the finished bridge. It was heavily modified from what Wander said they were doing, smaller than planned, in fact it was smaller than it was back when it was half built, as if instead of waiting for all the necessary material to be gathered they instead hurriedly broke down what they had already built and remade it into the current configuration. Normally Shepard wouldn't give two meld's about what a Reaper has to say, but that was suspicious.

"Hey." Shepard stated turning to face one of the Synthorg Collectors. "The hold the other Reapers had over that thing should be broken right now."

"So it was, they and the Animator of Clay are discussing matters as we speak." The Collector explained bluntly.

"Your boss has any idea what they were talking about just now?" Shepard asked indicating the still under construction bridge.

"The Animator of Clay is neither interested in nor does it have the time to correct our ignorance." Lovely. "Thanks for all your help!" Shepard gave a sarcastic comment as she called Javik.

"So we're trusting Reapers now?" Javik was not happy about this. "I'm checking on whatever Wander is doing. That thing-" Shepard pointed up in the air at the Hunter that was already leaving the area. To be more accurate it looked like it was desperately fleeing the area as fast as it could. "-is no longer the main priority here."

"I would rather see it destroyed but we do not have the ability to destroy it. Yet." Javik was more than willing to try and build something to give it the old college try, provided that it stuck around long enough to do so. "After you've left I'll start looking at alternate means of transport, in case they are planning something."

Shepard climbed aboard a Corvette and flew off to the bridge.

"I seem to remember you telling me that if we fired off the Tachyon transmitter around that thing it would break." Wander and his fellow Unbidden turned away from their project to face Shepard's ship. "What are you guys up to." The bridge visibly powered up, not the red of the last time, instead a dark green was coming out of the machine.

"I'm sorry." And then the entire world was turned away from Shepard.

10M 30D 06H Until the Colossus Fires

A ship of unknown make and design appeared from the Great Rift, the conclusion was quickly reached that it was Reaper in origin, and so various weapons were trained on it waiting for it to leave the Rift's splash zone. And they kept waiting, and kept waiting, and kept waiting still. They hailed the unknown craft, coaxed it to come forward, threatened it to leave, and still it did nothing. Various theories were going through the heads of the people present. It was a trap, the crew on board were already dead. But idle speculation benefited no one, eventually the decision was made to send forward a heavily armed ship to, at minimum, drag the cursed thing where they could blast it safely, and at the most figure out what was going on.

"There's one psi-signature aboard the ship." Sam was sitting cross legged on the ship, acting as a sensor for signs of life.

That said, what they were picking up on was not alive. A Prothean Beacon, or perhaps more accurately a Collector Beacon. A Towering piece of crystal standing at eight feet designed to psionically relay pieces of information to a recipient, or more accurately from one Prothean to another Still modern times meant that it was relatively easy for most people to use between the Thorian's Prothean cipher and former Protheans in the Pasharti. As if it wasn't obvious enough what it was meant to do, a sticky note had been attached to the front that said 'touch me.'

"It's a trap." Sparatus stated as he looked at the Hologram of the spike of crystal like it owed him money.

"A trap for whom is the question." SpeedJunkie orbited the Crystal, looking for any secrets on the surface that he may find. "The latest reports from the border says that the Reapers are retreating." That made Sparatus frown with thought.

"Retreating? The last time they retreated we got six months of the Gestalt, Contingency and the Unbidden." Sparatus wisely chose to treat the seemingly implacable Reapers retreating as a sign that they were going to get ambushed by something much, much worse. Worst yet, there was only one way to figure out what it was. "Bring in an organic computer here."

They were going to extract the contents of this device, put it on a server, and keep the entire thing isolated. They will learn the contents of this beacon while not giving it a single chance for it to infect their computers and spread the Reaper's influence. Luckily, they had everything they needed already, setting it up took only slightly longer.

"You are all fools." The Reaper's voice spoke out of the speakers, filtering any trace of ultrasound while numerous graphs tracked the vitals and stimulus of the computer's organic components. "Everything we fought for, erasing our presence over and over again, guiding you away from the Shroud. And you have breached that accursed realm anyway! So be it!" Even despite the equipment that was between them and the Thorian material inside of the computer, everyone present could hear the Thorian screaming as if being tortured. "Now you have forced our retreat not once but twice, now you may bear witness to the fruits of our follies! Now you may beg for the salvation that you despise so much as your wretched souls are tossed into the Shroud!" The various machines connected to he Thorian shorted out and fried, in some places it exploded as well under the influence of the intense stimulus as it was overloaded with energy.

"Remind me." Sparatus looked at the remains of the machinery skip across the floor of the room. "Reapers normally like to subvert and take control of their enemies correct?" Sending a lone ship out with a mind altering device on board, and they seemingly use it to kill the individual meant to receive their message instead of trying to subvert them to turn them to their side.

"What does this mean?" SpeedJunkie was confused by the contents of the message. Xidre and Sparatus weren't confused though.

"They've changed tactics." Xidre stated resting the chin of his helmet in his hand.

"Not just changed. They've adopted yours." When the Union were anticipating the path of the Reapers invasion into the galaxy they set up interference, the Valhalla's synths, the Gestalt's monsters and the Unbidden they had been experimenting on. Now the Reaper's had returned the favour. "Rebuild the device, include additional capacitors for the energy, surge protectors and whatever else you think you'll need. Get all the information out of that crystal as safely and quickly as possible."

It was entirely possible that they were just wasting their time, that the old enemy had bamboozled them in the process of their retreat. But they still had people going in and out of the Great Rift, and one way or another they would soon find out what if anything the enemy left behind for them.

10M 28D 22H Until the Colossus Fires

In an underground facility beneath Eden Gamma, a factory was churning. Bones made out of Lithoid minerals were being sewn together with wires made of memory metal, with an additional frame surrounding in the vague outline of a humanoid body with a additional frame inside of the rib cage of a individual's organs. Medi-gel and Thorian spores were forced through the Hollow wires, soon taking the form of organs and muscles. For the organs, there were multiple redundant features like three lungs and three hearts giving the entire body extra energy to support its mass. The muscles were carefully chosen and cultivated, ensuring that each of them would be able to maintain the full range of motion for Martial Arts and expert gun control.

Super Conductive Neurological tissue took up residence inside of the skull and throughout the body, accompanied by a slug like symbiote that helped to encourage nervous system development and a Grey box Unit, along side other cybernetic implants. The skin was shiny, scaly and reptile like, composed of a strong impenetrable alloy layered over the relatively soft muscle tissue of the body which gave it high impact resistance as well.

Human, Flerkin, Draconic, Chozo, Asari, Drell, Quarian, Salarian, Turian, Batarian, Krogan and Elcor and Vorcha were all being 'produced' inside of this facility while on the nearby ice moon of Eden Delta a war was being fought. Thousands of artificial personalities were being developed under the strict instruction of veteran soldiers of all fields, participating in an extensive simulated world dedicated solely to training for war in a combined arms doctrine. Like this, the Second generation of Dragoons were being mass produced and readied for war against the old enemy.

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