The Fifth Age (Mass Effect / The Secret World)

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Darth Ruinus
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The Fifth Age (Mass Effect / The Secret World)

Post by Darth Ruinus » 2016-10-04 05:24pm

There is no plan, there is no story, there is no order. It's just a jumble of thoughts at 3 AM.





Voyeurism protocol: Far Rim > Dholen System. Unknown Event: Extreme Caution Advised.


Captain Kirrahe didn’t like short messages from the higher ups; even in his line of work short messages often spelled trouble. The shorter the message the more there was that supposed to be kept secret; the more that is supposed to be secret, the more that was on the line. This, combined with the fact that his crew and ship had been rerouted from a prior mission, had him on edge. He scanned the message again and again as he waited for his ship to drop out of faster-than-light.

What bothered Kirrahe was the destination, the Dholen system. He’d been there with his crew on a previous op; providing clandestine support for SPECTRE Vakarian during his mission on Haestrom. His crew had spent the better part of an hour engaging Geth ships with a prototype cyber-warfare suite, disabling the ships and preventing Geth reinforcements from swarming SPECTRE Vakarian’s position. They’d succeeded and SPECTRE Vakarian had rescued the Quarian Tali’zorah, improved relations between the two governments. The SPECTRE never had a clue that a full STG regiment had been fighting alongside him; just as it should be.

That had been the only excitement to grace the Dholen system in centuries. Outside of the interests of a few astrophysicists and Geth counter-intelligence branches of STG, no one cared what happened here.

So what was this Unknown Event?

“FTL drop in 5.”

Kirrahe’s eyes snapped up to the CIC screens in front of him; information about the system began to fill the screens, though the probe his team had left behind when shadowing Vakarian failed to respond.

"Geth detection?" Kirrahe asked, the entire mission would be that much harder if the geth suspected their presence.

"Negative sir, we dropped at the outer edges of the system. Stealth window is good."

“Link up to our probe,” he ordered, his pilot and sensor officers both responding as they maneuvered the ship to its last known location.

“Activity?”

“Readings indicate increased geth activity, but light lag prevents more accurate readings” one of his officers responded. “Slight variation from Dholen.”

“Variation?” Kirrahe questioned, new information being sent to his CIC from the sensor stations. There appeared to be a slight increase in the trace amounts of dark energy around the star, but he doubted that this was the cause for their mission. “Have we linked up to the probe yet?”

“Negative captain,” his officer responded, “We’re having trouble picking up the probe’s signal.”

“Equipment error?” Another of his officers supplied.

“Or deliberate action.” Another countered.

Unknown Event.

“Keep searching for the probe, low level scans. Deliberate action possible. Keep me informed of geth activity.” He rattled off. Something was out there, hidden from their view. Kirrahe knew this; years of covert operations had honed a gut feeling that let him know when someone was hiding.

And he had a mission to find it.

***You see us Sweetling? They can't. Their eyes can't see like yours can.

Kirrahe looked at his omni-tool’s clock. 48 minutes. The hour was almost up and they’d seen nothing, not a trace of the probe or whatever the probe had reported back to headquarters. In addition, espionage missions in geth space had always had an air of increased nervousness, meaning that the mission was starting to fray everyone's nerves. His crew had quickly ruled out some sort of equipment error or natural event. It was rare for an STG probe to fail, especially deep space probes like the one that had been deployed in Dholen. Onboard obstacle detections and the computer’s own course correction systems meant that it could avoid asteroids with trivial ease, not that such measures were needed in this system.

That left deliberate action. Someone had removed the probe.

He’d conversed with one of his techs, double checking what he knew of the probe model. STG custom made, very hard to tamper with, very hard to spot.

That was suspicious.

The probe, his technician had told him, would start broadcasting back towards headquarters if it picked up low or high level sensor sweeps. If a ship had discovered the probe, the probe would prioritize identifying the ship over any previous duties. That the probe had only begun its emergency signal moments before going offline meant that whoever had disabled the probe had done so without being detected until the very last moment.

Technically, the probe hadn’t even detected the ship, it had only detected something.

That was troubling.

If it was the geth, how? There had been no reports of the geth building their own counter to the Menae-class, a terrifying thought that kept many awake at night, and if there was a geth stealth ship, why test it against probes most likely to detect it? It was highly unlikely that this was the case, one of the techs reminded the crew, as the STG probe also contains several cameras to capture images of any object that approaches a certain proximity. Nothing had shown up and stealth systems, despite advances in the technology, did not make the ship visually invisible. Even the Menae could be detected by visual confirmation. Furthermore the geth activity didn't add up. They'd been able to detect an increased number of geth ships patrolling near Charoum and Haestrom; which meant that the synthetics were on guard. One of his officers had also told him that they'd passed the stealth window minutes ago, which meant that it was likely they could be spotted. No reaction from the geth. This meant the synthetics were expecting trouble, but not from STG. No evidence pointed to their involvement in the probe's disappearance, then whatever had been in the system had spooked the geth.

Stealth ships were limited to the Menae and a few other prototypes. But Vakarian and the Menae were currently stationed at Palaven, and the locations of the other Menae-class stealth frigates were quite well known to STG. Even if they were not, there was currently no reason to suspect the Turian Heirarchy. No other Citadel species had the capability to build such a frigate.

Which left Outside forces.

The Terminus Systems were quickly ruled out; they had not attempted such a stealth system since the failure of the Kophet prototype and would certainly have never been stupid enough to test such a device in geth space.

Kirrahe looked over the 72nd sensor sweep his crew conducted. Nothing.

Kirrahe’s eyes roamed around the CIC. He surveyed his crew. He knew them, all top specialists.

And not a single one of them had a clue as to who had disappeared their probe.

Which meant it was someone no one had heard of before.

A new player.

That was quite troubling indeed.

***

It was nearing the 2 hour mark when one of the sensor techs suddenly gasped quickly followed by the CIC screens filling with sensor information.

Kirrahe momentarily didn’t understand what he was looking at.

Or what he wasn’t looking at.

Dholen was gone.

***
Spoiler
TRANSMIT - initiate cleansing signal - RECEIVE - initiate anima circulation – BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM - initiate the slumber syntax – HERE’S A LULLABY TO CLOSE YOUR EYES - initiate enhanced clearance –CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PROMOTION - initiate greater responsibilities - WITNESS – The Fifth Age.

Sweetling, do you remember the fourth? It is still in your history books. The age of the secret world, of the secret wars. We remember how hard you tried to keep it secret.

But the foam and filth bubbled up and the lid could not hold. The pressure cooker of your boiling secrets exploded in your collective faces. The curtains pulled back and all your skeletons were dragged out of the closet and into the burning, blinding light. You could not deny the tumors in your X-rays.

Sweetling, this is honesty. We did notsuspect you wouldsurvive-you would survive-you would survive-you would sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss-Hiya Chuck-ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
Last edited by LadyTevar on 2016-10-04 09:52pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed the Spoiler tag. One day we'll fix it permanently -- LadyTevar
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"And BTW the concept of carbon based life is only a hypothesis based on the abiogensis theory, and there is no clear evidence for it."
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Darth Ruinus
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Re: The Fifth Age (Mass Effect / The Secret World)

Post by Darth Ruinus » 2016-10-05 02:06am

Normally Valern wouldn’t have bothered to inform the other Councilors about the particulars of an STG mission. While Sparatus had a certain understanding, Tevos often gave the impression that she didn’t much care for STG operations. However, recent developments were beyond the scope of the STG and the Dalatrass had ordered full disclosure in this matter. Valern had some reservations, advising that more information should be gathered before advising the Councilors, but the only STG ship in system had no new information to report beyond the obvious.

Frankly, it was a testament to the respect the Councilors held for each other that he wasn’t immediately dismissed as a madman.

“Are we absolutely sure that this is not an equipment error?” Tevos asked for the second time.

Valern schooled his features, he didn’t want to point out the insult in suggesting that STG ships had equipment failures that caused them to lose track of a star while being in said star system. Luckily Sparatus stepped in.

“Tevos, please. We all know sensor systems don’t fail in such spectacular ways. Is this related to the quarian investigation? Perhaps the unknown phenomenon that was reported in Dholen caused this?”

Valern nodded. “Good hypothesis. Possibly related to the dark energy readings the quarians discovered. But for the entire star to disappear so rapidly…”

“Perhaps this is some newly discovered stellar phenomenon?” Tevos questioned, her brow furrowed in concentration as she reread all the reports on the Dholen investigation. “Element zero does not account for all sources of dark energy, perhaps this star is somehow generating it in much the same way supernovae generate element zero?”

“Unlikely,” Valern replied. “Dholen was losing several hundred billion tons of mass per second when the quarians examined it. This rate was maintained under STG observation. Dholen was aging prematurely, but at current estimates the star still has at least a few-“

“What we are forgetting,” Sparatus cut in, “is that nothing is left. All that matter simply doesn’t disappear, dark energy or not.”

Valern’s attention was caught by his omni-tool’s notification system.

Situation changed. File appended.

Valern scanned the file. His eyes widened.

“Councilors,” he looked up at them, “This is not a natural phenomenon.”

***

Garrus, datapad in hand, stood in the communication room, Iciria standing beside him as she fed him information on the status of the crew and ship. Luckily, she reported, all repair and resupply orders for the Menae had been completed on time, even with their leave cut short as it was. Slightly worrisome was that two of the crew, Seiana and Pavus down in engineering, were drunk.

“They’ll be fine,” Garrus reassured Iciria, “Those two are top experts, they can work through anything.”

Iciria didn’t agree. “I’ll write them up for violating regulation 32a concer-”

“Iciria,” Garrus interrupted, “The crew had been promised one month’s worth of leave, it’s not their fault they only got a quarter of that. That the crew dropped their leave and time with families to report for duty is enough for me. If it bothers you so much,” he added when he saw her remain unconvinced, “Tell them to report to med bay for sobriety pills.”

“Noted.”

Whatever quip Garrus was about to say died in his throat when Proceus’ voice came over the room’s speakers.

“Commander, incoming transmission from the Council.”

“Thanks Proc,” Garrus replied before handing back the datapad to Iciria, who saluted and walked out of the communication room. A second of silence passed.

“Does she still have that stick up her ass?” Proceus’ voice inquired. “You’d think that she-“

“The Councilors,” Garrus cut him off, “Are you really keeping them on hold to gossip?”

Proceus must have gotten the message through his head, because a second later the holographic images of the three Councilors materialized in the room with him.

“Councilors,” he greeted their images.

“SPECTRE Vakarian,” Councilor Sparatus began, “We’re sorry to cut your crew’s leave so short, but events are unfolding that require your immediate attention.”

“SPECTRE,” Garrus’ gaze shifted to Councilor Valern, “I’m sure you remember your mission on the planet Haestrom and the scientific inquiries headed by the quarian Tali’zorah.”

“Yes,” Garrus nodded, remembering one of his best friends, “She mentioned something about the sun aging rapidly but…” he shrugged, “Honestly Councilors, it was far above my head.”

“Not to worry,” the salarian Councilor responded, “Information is being sent to XO Iciria and your science officers; they can brief you in greater detail. But the situation is simple; the Dholen star was shedding stellar material at an accelerated rate, causing it to enter the red dwarf stage much earlier than expected.”

Garrus nodded, slightly irked at the salarian Councilor. When he’d mentioned that the science was above his head, he didn’t mean that all the science was beyond him. He at least understood the basics of the situation.

“Approximately 48 minutes ago, the situation changed. With the disappearance of Dholen, we are authorizing you control of the Fo-”

“I’m sorry,” Garrus interrupted, confusion evident on his face. “We must have missed part of your briefing, could you repeat that?”

“What Councilor Valern is glossing over,” Councilor Sparatus said, “Is that Dholen is gone. It disappeared right under the nose of an STG ship. No, it was not a supernova or any other natural event.”

Councilor Tevos, whose hologram indicated that she was reviewing a datapad throughout the entire conversation, spoke up. “SPECTRE Vakarian, we suspect that this is the work of outside forces. Several minutes after the star disappeared, the STG ship moved closer in-system to gather more information at great personal risk to themselves. They were able to capture these images before the geth discovered their position.”

A new holographic projection appeared before the Councilors. A solid cube with objects at each point. Readings, captured by the STG ship, appeared all over the image, though most of them were labeled UNKNOWN.

“We believe that what you are looking at is Dholen,” Councilor Tevos continued, “Or what is left of it. The cube, now refered to as Object 1, is anywhere from 10 km to 1 AU on each side. And was shrinking in size.”

“That’s a pretty big error margin.” Garrus quipped as he tried to make sense of the situation.

“It is.” Councilor Valern agreed. “The sensors aboard the ship are some of the most advanced in existence, equipment error probability is low. Both readings are correct.”

“What we are most interested in,” Sparatus went on, “Are the objects at each point of the cube. No information was able to be gathered on them. Since you have had the most experience with the Reapers,” Garrus’ head snapped up at that, “We hoped you could shed some light on these objects.”

Garrus’ stomach nearly dropped. Reapers? Now? He wondered if the invasion had started already, if this was a preamble to a full blown attack. Perhaps this is how the Reapers conducted warfare, simply removing stars from their systems and letting the lack of a gravitational center do the rest. The STG readings had already revealed that the planets in the Dholen system had lost their orbits and were beginning to speed off into space, no longer bound by the stars’ gravitational well. How do you fight something like that?

Focus Garrus. One problem at a time.

He concentrated on the shapes around Object 1, the report labeling them all Objects 2 through 9. They were completely unknown designs to him, not resembling any Reaper ship he’d seen so far. Those all looked like some sort of sea-creature, and Collector ships all appeared to be hollowed out of asteroids. These appeared to be needles that pinned the cube into space itself. Gold and gleaming bronze, blue lights tapering into the object’s point.

But the Citadel and mass effect Relays didn’t look like Reaper designs either. They’d been made with the intent to lure all of galactic society into a sense of security and peace. Perhaps these things were also Reaper designs, made to appear completely unrelated to their master’s wishes?

“What was the geth reaction?” Garrus asked finally.

The Councilors seemed to be thrown off by that question, before Valern answered.

“By all indications, they seemed to be an unprepared for these events as we were. The STG ship noted several geth warships heading towards each Object 2 to 9. Their interaction wasn’t captured as the STG ship had to flee the system to avoid pursuing geth ships that had detected them.”

“I remember your report mentioning the geth aboard your ship,” Valern began, “It suggested that there are two factions of geth, those that obey the Reapers and those who oppose it, correct?”

“Yes Councilor,” Garrus responded, “I trust Unification with my life and I trust his information.”

Sparatus nodded, “Then, I suggest you question Unification. If the geth truly oppose the Reapers then perhaps he,” Garrus noted that the Councilor was trying to be as polite as possible, “may have information for us.”

***

The Councilors cut communication with SPECTRE Vakarian, who promised that he would contact them again shortly after conversing with the geth aboard his ship.

“Are you certain we can trust the geth?” Tevos asked, Valern looking at the two of them out of the corners of his eyes.

“SPECTRE Vakarian’s hunches have proven invaluable in the past,” Sparatus commented as his omni-tools beeped with notifications. “We can no longer afford to ignore his warnings, however far-fetched they may sound.”

“Disappearing stars is far-fetched.” Valern commented.

“Exactly,” the turian continued, “And we have evidence to corroborate this Unification’s words. We’ve all seen the reports near the Veil, geth-related incidents have been at their record low, in one case even repairing a stranded ship’s engines.”

“This still may be a geth ruse,” Tevos persisted in her doubts, “We must maintain caution when dealing with synthetics. We are not fully aware of their capabilities.”

“Tevos, please,” Sparatus commented in a dry voice, “Let’s not forget that the cover story we fed the public about the geth super-dreadnought is just that, a cover story.”

“The geth may be as uninformed as we are.” Valern cut in, hoping to prevent on of Tevos and Sparatus’ famous disagreements.

“We should hope not, because if they are as clueless as we are then we’ve got nothing.”

***

“Perpetrators unknown. Method unknown. Purpose unknown. Capabilities unknown. Intent unknown.”

Garrus sighed, Iciria frowning beside him. “Commander, what exactly is going on?” she asked while keeping her eyes on the synthetic.

“No clue.” Garrus admitted, Uniifcation’s face plates shifting in a rare emotional display. “It looks like no one has any clue. Anything else Unification?”

“Vakarian-Commander, the Dholen system is destabilized. We are moving to extract all geth presence from the systems and salvage what resources we can. The unknown presence is still in system and is making no further hostile actions. No response to our hails.”

“The geth has nothing,” Iciria commented, “Commander, we are wasting our time here.”

“Damn.” Some days Garrus felt much older than he really was. “Anything else?”

Unification stood still for a second, enough time to have a conversation with the geth Collective.

“Vakarian-Commander, the geth Collective will allow safe passage into the system for you. Perhaps you can see a consensus that we cannot.”

“Commander, I suggest we ignore that invitation,” Iciria’s dislike for Unification and geth was well known among the crew. “It could be luring us into a trap.”

“Iciria, why would the geth destroy their own star system? One rich in minerals?”

“Vakarian-Commander.”

Garrus turned to look at Unification, its face-plates flared.

“I give you my word.”

***

UPDATE: Geth programs 834-x – 2017-x [Unification] conversing with Priority Organic 1 [Vakarian-Commander] > Negotiation of safe passage through Geth Collective Space > Priority Organic 375 [Liciril-XO] voicing Objection > Priority Organic 1 [Vakarian-Commander] accepting geth programs 834-x – 2017-x [Unification] assurance > Outcome: Negotiation Successful.

Geth programs 834-x – 2017-x [Unification] > Requesting Open Communication > Granted. Geth programs 12,911-k – 90,021-z receiving Stand Down Order. Approach Vector collating > Approach Vector collated. Consensus Reached > New Directives: Geth prog-

-PRIORITY-

UNKNOWN Radiation spike from Stranger-Objects 1-8.

Dholen-Object Critical Existence Failure.

Scanning…

Scanning…

Scanning…

Collating…

Consensus Reached.

Consensus: MORE INFORMATION REQUIRED on UNKNOWN STRANGER-OBJECTS INTENTION/CAPABILITIES/ENERGY PRODUCTION/MATERIAL CONSTRUCTION/STELLAR MANIPULATION/…. [9,238,012,755 STRANGER-OBJECT INFORMATION REQUESTS APPENDED]

***

Garrus stood at the Menae’s bridge which was bustling with activity. The STG ship that had reported the situation had returned to the system after his personal word that the geth would not attack them. Garrus’ reunion with Kirrahe wasn’t as happy as he had wished it could be and it certainly wasn’t under the conditions he would have liked. True to Unification's word, none of the geth ships had made any hostile actions toward his or Kirrahe’s ship. Much to their surprise, and even Unification’s, the Geth Collective was feeding them every bit of information they’d managed to gather on the strange shapes that had entered the system.

Which was almost nothing.

Garrus looked out of the bridge windows, Proceus hands moving around the helms as he kept an eye on the nearby geth ships.

“Commander,” the pilot spoke up, “What are we doing with the STG, surrounded by geth, and staring at nothing?”

Garrus looked down at Proceus, then back out into empty space. Empty space that, up until a few hours ago, had an entire star in it.

What the hell is going on?

***

UPDATE: Geth programs 912-k – 751-l detected UNKNOWN Radiation spike at 9271.341.2814-Dholen > PRIORITY > Reroute Geth programs > INVESTIGATE

Pending…

In Range > Scanning

Scanning…

Scanning…

INCONCLUSIVE

UPDATE: RECEIVING SIGNAL FROM STRANGER-OBJECT 9 (Pending > Identification change: Stranger-Vessel 1)

Receiving Signal…

***

“Vakarian-Commander.”

Garrus looked over at Unification, who stood out like a sore thumb amongst the crew. “What is it?”

“Vakarian-Commander, we have detected an anomaly near Charoum. We believe it to be a ship related to the previous stranger-objects responsible for Dholen’s disappearance.”

Iciria’s mandibles flared, “We haven’t detected any mass effect wakes. Why should we believe you geth?”

Unification seemed to have taken offense to Iciria’s attitude; his face plates flared in a rare show of emotion. “You detected no mass effect wakes because element zero is not detected aboard the anomaly. How it achieves faster-than-light travel is unknown.” Unification then turned to Garrus, Iciria forgotten by the friendly geth. “Vakarian-Commander, it is communicating with us. Consensus has been reached, we believe it prudent for you to witness and be part of this exchange.”

“Good,” Garrus responded, his head trying to imagine all the possibilities, wondering if the Reapers were attempting to sway more of the geth to their side. “Kreshal,” he turned to the communications officer who sat beside the helm, “Unification will tell you how to access the geth channels, I want to hear that conversation and I want to hear it now. Proceus, bring us closer to Charoum, Kirrahe will follow.”

“Commander,” Proceus saluted before his fingers glided over the ship’s controls. “Plotting a short range jump, it’ll put us within 1,500 k of Charoum.” Beside him Kreshal and Unification began working over the communication console.

“Commander, do yo-”

“Sub-commander Valus,” Garrus ground out, Iciria’s concerns being cut off. “Ready the ship and crew for any combat action. Now.”

She simply saluted, turned on her heel and headed further down the CIC, barking out orders as the ship went on alert. Garrus didn’t spare her a second glance, instead looking out of the bridge windows as the ship performed a short FTL jump. Proceus and Kreshal shared a quick glance.

“Proc,” Garrus sighed. “She still does.”

A snort from the ship’s pilot. “Affirmative commander… and coming out of FTL in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”

The blue-shift of mass effect travel faded and Charoum zoomed into view, glittering geth ships flying about like gnats as they scrambled to evacuate the system, taking any and all resources they could before the individual planets drifted off into space. But above all, the golden gleaming disk caught Garrus’ attention. If it was a ship, it was the oddest ship he’d ever seen. The Menae began throwing up information about the craft on the bridge HUD, though the information was incredibly limited. 350 meters wide and 40 meters at its tallest. Oddly enough, those measurements fluctuated constantly, the same as the measures of the phenomena that had encapsulated Dholen before it pulled its vanishing act. There were neither noticeable weapon emplacements nor any type of recognizable engine system; mass effect was virtually non-existent on the ship. Nothing about the ship was recognizable since the few radiation signatures that were emanating from the ship, it was undoubtedly a ship despite its alien features, were completely unknown.

“Commander,” Kreshal said from her post, “we can now receive communication from the geth and the unknown object.”

“Good,” Garrus replied. He noticed Iciria standing beside him, her mouth tight and posture rigid. “Let’s talk.”

“-sel, TSF Menae, representing the Citadel Council.”

Garrus assumed that this was the voice of the Geth Collective, given its’ similarity to Unification’s own voice.

-State your intentions TSF Menae-Sweetling, this one won't shoot first.

Everyone on the bridge winced, the voice of the unknown ship straining everyone’s ears. Kershal began to frantically type on her console while muttering something about geth communication protocols. “Commander,” she began, “there’s nothing wrong on our end. In fact, I’m detecting no radio, beam transmission or anything else. As far as I can tell, Commander, they aren’t sending anything our way.”

Iciria scowled, “Recheck our systems, or are you telling us that we didn’t just hear them?”

“FCO Kershel is correct.” Unification spoke up, “Stranger’s method of communication unknown. Irrelevant however, as it is clear we can communicate.”

Garrus nodded, the alien voice still ringing in his ears in perfect Turian. He motioned everyone quiet and pointed to Kershal, who nodded and opened a communication channel. “This is SPECTRE Garrus Vakarian of the TSF Menae under direct orders of the Citadel Council to investigate the appearance of the Dholen star and those responsible.” He purposefully left out that his orders continued with “Apprehend the responsible party if possible” but he doubted that the “if possible” was actually an option.

Iciria motioned beside him, whispering under her breath, “Commander, accelerator cannon and defense systems armed and ready on your go. Captain Kirrahe’s ship is also holding nearby and ready to provide support.”

“Hopefully we don’t need it,” Garrus returned before leaning over Proceus’ shoulder, “Plot a course out of here in case the situation goes talons out.”

His ears began to ring again as the alien craft responded.

-Are we correct in assuming you have a direct line of communication to the Citadel government?-

Iciria immediately cut in, again in whispers, “Commander, while you are no doubt not as paranoid as I am, even you can see that caution must be advised in answering. They may attempt to capture the Menae and use our communication systems to their own end.”

Kershal spoke up, “Commander, the QE system is quite valuable and who knows what they could use it for – they might have a way to send some sort of electronic attack through one, directly to the Council.”

“No electronic incursions have been detected in our dialogue,” Unification added, “And we have been speaking to the Gaians for quite some time.”

“Gaians?” Garrus asked. “Is that their species, planet or government?”

“Unknown. It is what they have referred to themselves as. More importantly, they wish to tell the Citadel why they quarantined the Dholen stellar object.”

Quarantined?

“Your concerns are noted,” Garrus responded to his crew, “But we’ll get nowhere if we don’t respond. Had they wanted to cause us some headaches, they’d have attacked us the moment they learned we were here on direct Council orders. Kershal, open the comm again.” A second passed as she did so. “Unknown ship, you are correct in your assumption. Is there a message you would like to send to the Citadel Council?” He paused, then added, “Is this about your ‘quarantine’ of the Dholen star?”

A tense moment of silence passed between the two ships.

-Affirmative. We quarantined Dholen to contain an… infection, that may have taken root here.-

***

“Nonsense.” Valern proclaimed, his holographic image perfectly conveying his dismissal of the alien’s claims. “No possible biological material can exist in a star, this claim of an infection is scientifically impossible.”

“We can discuss their story at a later time,” Sparatus replied, “What I’m worried about is their technology. According to the Menae’s sensors, it is constructed out of completely unknown materials, runs off of an unknown power source and achieves FTL without mass effect. And their ability to move stellar objects in a matter of hours.”

“Completely undetectable. Could launch surprise attack on Citadel space, no way for us to track ship movement. Early detection system unable to give warning.” Valern took a deep breath. “Entire worlds flung into space, their bound star missing. Paranoia inducing.”

“They also had quite a mastery over our languages,” Tevos tried to steer the conversation away from Valern’s ramblings. “They spoke to SPECTRE Vakarian in perfect Turian, according to his report and the files they sent are also in all known Citadel languages.”

“Espionage. STG completely unaware.”

“It means they are friendly,” Tevos concluded, Valern giving her an unbelieving look. “Their foreknowledge of our language and government implies that they’ve known about us for some time and-”

“Who knows how much they know.” Valern quipped.

“-and that they waited until they could make proper first contact with us.” Tevos finished through the interruption. “While their reasoning for Dholen’s “quarantine” is suspect, they showed good will in contacting us and the geth with their motives.”

“And we are back to their reasoning at Dholen.” Sparatus threw up some air quotes, “Their ‘quarantine’ of the star.” Sparatus’ hologram began to pace back and forth, momentarily disappearing from the holographic projector’s range. “If we are to believe their rationale – we have an unknown alien polity that has been studying us for some time and was forced to act when this Filth was discovered in Dholen. They reasoned that any time spent going through the proper channels would have been dangerous and acted as fast as they could to prevent the spread of the Filth. If their story is true… it is understandable. Sometimes we must sacrifice the few to save the many.”

Garrus remembered Thelus on Virmire.

“In which case, we have a dangerous pathogen that we know nothing about and can somehow infect stars and for which we have no known protection against. True or not, we still have to deal with a group that can up and pack stars away at a moment’s notice. All of this in addition to the known Reaper threat.” Sparatus’ hologram paused as the Councilors saw another figure, that of Sub-commander Valus, enter the room and whisper into SPECTRE Vakarian’s ear. “More news?”

Garrus confirmed with Iciria, “Are you sure?”

“Yes Commander,” his second-in-command responded, holding out a datapad to him, “We asked them to repeat their question just to make sure.”

Garrus’ eyes scanned the datapad in his hand before looking up at the expectant faces of the Councilors. “They are requesting an audience at the Citadel.”

***
Spoiler
TRANSMIT - initiate Roswell signal - RECEIVE - initiate the tin hat frequency – I WANT TO BELIEVE - initiate Mulder syntax - WITNESS – The Citadel Species
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-Mazen707 informing me about the facts on carbon-based life.

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