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Mass Effect/AEC Chapter 9: Guests


Tweet of the Day: A Modern Witches Trial

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Security Level, SSV Daedalus, Camala, Indris System, Kite’s Nest Nebula, April 17, 2196

“The Old Gods wait in Hidden Spaces! We will usher their glorious return and they will uplift us to Eternity!” cried the lunatic formerly known as Altiari Had’ dah. I shut the cell door. Galeena waited in the hallway.

“I swear if I have to listen to that idiot rant about how the end is nigh for one more second, he’ll end up with two black eyes,” I said.

“We could try a pharmacological approach,” she said.

“And risk a psychotic break? No. Lets transfer him to the Alliance. There is enough evidence to convict him for the bombing of the Steiner-Satori estate,” I said.

Galeena pressed a finger to her lips, “He mentioned ‘gods in dark spaces’,” she said.

“So?”

“The hanar spoke of the Enkindlers before it was gun down,” she said.

“You mean the Protheans? But as far I know the batarians don’t worship them, do they?”

“As I understand it, the batarians religion, like most of their society prior to the war, is highly hierarchical. It is based on the believe in the a tier of ‘ancients’ that stem from elder chthonic-creator gods to honor family elders-”

“You lost me at ko, ko what?”

“Chthonic, belonging or related to the elemental forces of nature like wind or water. All divine powers fitted a strict pantheon that mirrored the batarian caste system,” she said with the patience of a primary school teacher.

That sounded familiar, “As in Heaven so shall it be on Earth?”

“Something like that.”

“I still don’t see the relation between Prothean worship and sun worship,” I said.

She sighed, “We know of… two civilizations directly influenced by the Protheans in the prehistory. The hanar and my people.”

“So you think the Protheans did the same with the batarians?”

“The Protheans were a highly imperialistic culture with penchant for uplifting younger races to serve their needs. Inculcating a stratified religion based on strict obedience would ease the batarians entry into their empire,” she said.

“That doesn’t sound like ‘gods in dark places’,” I said. Somewhere in the back of my mind a bunch of neurons held a furious discussion about history, galactic politics and religion but hadn’t handed the full report to Theo’s central brain committee.

“Some Protheans survived into this cycle, sir.”

“Sure, if you call being turned into soulless cyborgs by the Re…the Reapers turned the Protheans into Collectors then went back to dark space,” I said.

“Correct.”

“Wait,” I pointed at the door, “does he think he is the next Saren?”

“He could be indoctrinated.”

“We didn’t find ant Reaper tech in the refinery.”

“The planet was occupied by Reapers. He could have been indoctrinated somewhere else.”

“Maybe, but it doesn’t explain what the hanar was doing there or why someone hired a drell to take it out with polonium rounds,” I said.

“He might know,” she said.

“Time to ask him,” I said. We went up to the ship’s living quarters. According to Galeena, drell assassins were known for being the deadliest killers in the galaxy. She suggested we treat him as a guest rather than a prisoner. I wasn’t about to leap where Galeena T’iala feared to tread.

Mr. Aten sat at the small table in the middle of the room, chin on steepled hands.

“Good evening, Mr. Aten. I apologize for the delay. We tried to make the room as accommodating as possible?” I asked.

“Yes, it is quite pleasant. The guards area nice touch.”

Great, a killer clown.

“They are part of the decor,” I said.

“Of course. Is there anything I can do for you, colonel?” he asked. He asked in the tone of someone who asks about the weather. Not the sort of thing I expected from a trained killer.

“Maybe. It seems our ‘operations’, for a lack of a better term, are somehow connected.”

“Indeed.”

“Could you care to explain how?”

“I am not at liberty to discuss the particulars of my assignment.”

Wasn’t going to be that easy. Still, he is talking.

“Before the hanar died, and by the way that was a hell of a shot from one point five klicks away,”

“Thank you.”

“Well, he said something about the Enkindlers. We were wondering if there is a religious angle to all of this.”

“Yes,” he said.

“There is, what is it?”

“I am not-”

I cut him off with a raised hand, “Then who is ‘at liberty’ to say?”

“My employers.”

I ran out ideas so I switched to sarcasm, “I don’t suppose I could talk to them instead?

“I can arrange it,” he said nonchalantly.

My jaw dropped, “What?”

He raised his chin, “I believe cooperation will further my employers goals.”

“Which are?” Mr. Aten opened his mouth, “Never mind. When can you arrange this meeting?”

“I need access to the comm buoy system,” he said.

I risked a system hack, but if he could do that, he would have done it already.

“Pasha, Mr. Aten needs a link to the comm buoys,” I said over comm.

“Understood colonel. Firewalls are active. Channel is open,” said Pasha.

I nodded to Mr. Aten. He entered a code on his omni-tool.

“Done,” he said.

Pasha called a few minutes later, “Sir, we have a reply. Patching you through.”

A raspy voice, lighter than Mr. Aten came through the comm, “We are amiable to a meeting at your earliest convience as well as the safe passage of one Mr. Aten.” A series of coordinates appeared on my omni-tool. They were for the hanar colony of First Land.

“Pasha, you got that?”

“Yes sir.”

“Tell the captain to set course for First Land.”

“Roger.

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