Alliance Docking Bay 1, Presidium, Citadel, Widow System, Serpent Nebula, February 25, 2198
“Come here dumbass!” yelled Jack. Vega sheepishly took her duffel bag. “I’ve been waiting for half an hour! So where is your bunk?” Before Vega could respond Jack turned to Miranda, “Heya Princess!”
“Are you showing yet? Yeah you got a little bit of a bump there. Anyway, I am going to take my teddy bear and cuddle for a bit. C’mon let’s go.” She pushed Vega back to the Kursk.
“This was your idea,” I said to Miranda. She smirked. On the opposite side of the dock Oriana took Pasha by the hand and dragged him to the elevator. “She is going to devour that boy like the champion of a hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July.”
“Ughh, that’s my sister!”
“Score one for the home team then,” I said.
“Wow! Gold Coast representing, eh?”
Utah carried a large metal box with the tablets liberated from the pirates, “Commander Thompson-Ramos, we have detected a Nav-Point to our destination.”
“Right. Let’s go.” The Nav-Point led to a non-descript shuttle with darkened windows. As we boarded my VI spoke up.
-CONNECTION TO LOCAL AREA NETWORK LOST. ATTEMPTING TO RECONNECT-
I set my omni-tool to silent mode, “Somebody really wants to keep up in the dark,”.
“Necessary,” said Miranda, her face impassive. We arrived at our destination fifteen minutes later. The doors opened unto a darkened area only illuminated by the strip lights on the edges of the shuttle pad and a thin bridge that connected it to a dark wall. As we approached a door opened. The bright white from within silhouetted a humanoid figure.
“I have been expecting you. Please come in,” said Eda. The room was empty except for a large pedestal in the middle. “Unit 237, please place the tablets on the pedestal.” Utah did as instructed. “Scanning. I apologize for the security measures but considering the subject matter I thought them appropriate.”
“Of course. By the way, how is EDI?” asked Miranda.
“Mother is doing fine, Miss Lawson. She sends her regards,” replied Eda with a warm smile.
“Mother?” I asked.
“Yes, that would be Edi, the Normandy’s AI,” said Eda.
“That’s short form Enhanced Defense Intelligence. An AI created by Cerberus and installed on the Normandy to help us fight the Collectors,” said Miranda.
“So that would make you an Enhanced Defense…?”
“The Enhanced Defense Authority.”
“Creation of new AI is still prohibited by Citadel law,” said Utah.
“Correct. However the circumstances of my creation are unique,” said Eda.
“How so?” I asked.
The room went dark and a large projection of the Citadel appeared above our heads. “To uncover the secrets of the Citadel,” Eda said.
That piqued my curiosity, “Such as?”
“One, the Citadel is not a space station, but fully faster than a light travel capable starship, the largest in existence today. Second, it was meant to be one of at least five such vessels. Meant by those we call The First as anchors for the galactic mass relay network. And of course it is a mass relay itself and such it is the single largest surviving computing system in the galaxy. One which I have spent the last decade exploring.”
“Willingly?” I asked.
Eda smiled, “Yes. It was a unique opportunity commander. It will take me decades to fully explore and understand the Citadel systems and reconstruct its history and original functions as well as establish a way to prevent the Reapers from seizing control of it to renew their harvest of advanced sapient species.”
“And the information on these tablets will help?”
“One moment, commander. Collating data. Synchronization hypothesis confirmed.”
Miranda spoke up, “Synchronization?”
“Indeed Miss Lawson. It is what makes a Reaper a Reaper.” The projection above our heads changed from a picture of the Citadel to a diagram of the larger Reaper form. “A Reaper, in its most basic form, is a vast network of individual organic minds.” The image zoomed in on the Reaper’s body to reveal what looked like a human brain with an attached nervous system. “The process of creating a new Reaper strips the body of everything but its nervous support system. These are in turn connected to the larger body of the ship through cybernetics and maintained by countless nanites.”
“So a Reaper is nothing more than a collection of brains in jars?” I asked.
“In a manner of speaking,” Eda said.
“Father was right. The signal was the key,” said Miranda.
“The key to what?” I asked.
“Think about it Theo. How do you make hundreds, maybe thousands of minds work together without bodies. They would be fighting each other for control or trying to escape. You need something that creates-“
Utah interrupted, “Consensus.”
“Exactly. Organic electro-chemistry works at the quantum level. The Reaper signal allows not only for these minds to share information as well as act as a single entity within a Reaper vessel but through the,” Eda made air quotes, “harmonization of specific quantum strings to communicate and coordinate with all other Reapers regardless of distance.”
“Makes our QECs look like two cans tied together by a string,” I said.
“Similar principle but far more advanced in practice with one exception,” said Eda.
The projection changed to show an alien nerve system. By the way it was arranged to fit a centaur-like creature. “Synchronization was developed for and adapted to the neuro-chemistry of the species we call the First, from when the Reapers diverged from and eventually conquered. To replenish their numbers and establish their dominion over the galaxy the Reapers needed more minds but those of other species were not fully compatible. Thus the discovery of the effects known as Indoctrination.” Eda said.
“Talrom notes said something about some minds being immune while others decayed too quickly for the indoctrination to take hold. Probably the same thing happens with synchronization,” I said.
“Very good, commander. I estimate that maybe one in three galactic cycles generates a species within the tolerance levels required by the Reapers and even then the correlation between bodies harvested and minds that survive the process can be as high as one thousand to one.”
I raised a finger, “Let me guess. They can’t adjust synchronization to the needs of a new species because then they would disentangle the quantum streams from the rest of the Reapers. Meaning the all operate within a very narrow band of frequencies, for a lack of a better word. Frequencies that when disrupted leave the Reapers powerless.”
Eda’s smile broadened, “And targeting those narrow bands would require less power than attempting to block the broader effects of indoctrination. Which in turn would free the Crucible from the use of the Citadel as a signal amplifier.”
“With enough time we could build a dozen or more Crucibles,” I said.
“If we can find the right range of quantum harmonics,” Miranda said.
“That is where Unit 237 comes in. Only the geth consensus can process the large amount of data needed to find the target harmonics and do so without alerting our enemies,” Eda said.
“Are you good with this Utah?” I asked.
“The Old Machines threaten all life, organic and synthetic, commander Thompson-Ramos,” replied Utah.
I looked around the vast empty room, “Then it’s settled. We better act fast. Cerberus also got a look Talrom’s data. We don’t know how much they managed to decrypt, but we have to assume they know as much as we do, if not more. Thank you Eda, this has been a very illuminating experience.”
“Good luck commander,” Eda said.
On our way back to Kursk, Miranda turned to me and said, “I’ll stay for a little while longer.” I smiled all the way back to the ship.