Mass Effect - Rebirth

Chrysalis

Talaria.jpg

File 628.W03, Gillian vas Idenna

I continue to stand as personal guardian of the life of Kragg. This can be trying when his children climb on me. It is never, however, dull.

Kragg rapidly installed the Cerberus human-computer into one of his junky-looking but extremely sophisticated life-support pods. After doing a complete technical and biological scan, with the aid of Iris Krayt, he ensured that the subject had no intrinsic wireless capability and connected him to an extremely rudimentary computer in an attempt to open communication with him. It would appear that the individual, who named himself ELI (Enhanced Logistics Intelligence), had been extensively modified, both cybernetically and biologically. Dr. Ackerman removed most capacity to feel emotional investment in anything, presumably to remove any anger or other negative emotion at being turned into a space station’s central processor. This makes logical sense. Despite communicating as if we were an emotionless tool desiring only to be used, there were hints of the person he once was. His name was apparently Kaurav Sharma, for instance. In subsequent discussion with Nova Noir it was discovered that he had been a young gang-rat on Omega back during the Cerberus occupation where he fell in with a new street gang that was forming to fight against Cerberus known as the Char. After that, he was picked up by Ackerman and taken to the station for experimentation.

There was something of a debate amongst Siala’s associates as to what should be done with him. Although Cerberus built him, and although everything he knew came from Cerberus data banks, and his head was crammed full of Cerberus proprietary knowledge, he didn’t “feel” any sort of intrinsic loyalty to them aside from innate bias. He wanted a function. He was… “bored.”

Siala managed to procure a surprising number of exotic and hard-to-find computer components so Kragg could construct a processing array for the purpose of plugging ELI into a system of sufficient complexity that he could start helping Kragg crunching virtual scenarios for the re-activation of the mass relay. This inevitably gave him enough power and potential control that he started exploring the station’s other systems. He noticed all the backdoors that the Master of Nightside station had into Talaria’s systems. Apparently Kragg knew about them already and left them there for misdirection purposes, but ultimately Siala gave ELI permission to close the backdoors and devote some of his processing capability to running counter-intrusion.

It’s… odd… to give another ex-Cerberus experiment so much trust and control, but they did it before with me… and with Brother Astrophel… and with Nova herself. I hope this trust follows the trend, and is repaid in kind.

A flotilla of ships came through the Imorkan stations accompanying Senator Grothan Pazness of Lorek, Senator Galliae of the Red Dawn, Senator Solem Del’Serah of the Blue Suns, and Senator Korovomburan of Thunawanuro. They were en route to Omega with the goal of integrating the station’s ruling council into the Senate, ultimately making Omega the Senate’s new seat, and placing the Senate in direct control of Omega. While here, Senator Pazness and Senator Del’Serah had a meeting with Siala and Jarek Bal’iban on the subject of putting in motion the conquest of Logasiri. It seems that between Aria recruiting for her new colony, and the widely broadcast procurement of priceless batarian cultural artifacts by Senator Pazness at the hands of Jarek, that Batarians were generally abandoning Logasiri in droves. Only the colonists themselves remained, restricted from information and travel by their regime, and a relatively small naval planetary defense force.

Senator Pazness introduced an “”/characters/cynthia-hawkins" class=“wiki-content-link”>asymmetrical warfare specialist" who outlined the general plan:

  1. Have Thunawanuro dramatically increase food prices to put the colony on rations to increase unrest
  2. Use existing agents recruited by Lorek and by Jarek himself to smuggle information into the colony on the subject of Lorek’s control of the batarian artifacts, and Jarek’s continued role in preserving batarian culture
  3. Name a Senator for Logasiri from the “government in exile” and have that person confirmed by the Senate, forcing Logasiri to respond with a candidate of their own
  4. Recruit heavily among the locals for a pro-Jarek insurgency
  5. Coordinate with assets on the ground to take the governor’s palace while fomenting pro-Jarek sentiment amidst mass protests

Jarek gave it some thought, and decided to nominate his wife Kal’Aine as Senator. He arranged with Kimberly Hock to design an appropriate wardrobe to express her new position, and sent her off with the other Senators to Omega. They were apparently both willing to take the risk that she might be assassinated just to aggravate Aton Kal’Hirek even further. After all, Kal’Aine had just been freed from under his nose a few months ago, and having his former prized slave placed into a position to speak for his colony without his say would certainly provoke the intended response.

While the senators were here, I observed on Kragg’s monitors the most unusual bar fight I’ve ever seen. Apparently a small group of elcor swaggered into Seventh Heaven. Their leader knew Malintzin, who was watching Brittney dance. There was apparently bad blood between them. It became a six-on-one brawl. I’ve never seen seven elcor engage in non-lethal violence. It was… instructive. Malintzin, it turns out, could more than hold her own. Although she did get thrown into a rack of bottles, covered in various sticky liquors, and ultimately tripped to the ground, she gave better than she got before Nova stepped in with an impressive display of biotics. The Senator for Thunawanuro apologized to Nova in person. He was one of my fellow slaves that Nova rescued from Vatar and so he felt even more remorseful than one might expect for the misbehavior of his subordinate.

After the Senators left, Kragg was invited to a very unusual ceremony. He, along with Nova, Kragg, Drala, Iris, Siala, and Jarek were invited to the quarters given to Aaron and Elsa Philips. Apparently Elsa Philips, having been rescued from drug-addled sex-slavery in the pits of Omega by the invitees, and having recovered somewhat from her ordeal with the aid of Kragg, Iris, and the Inusannon, had decided that she was unlikely to recover from the psychological ordeal, and was choosing to give herself to be joined with the Inusannon. Apparently the Inusannon have a ritual where the intended inductee gathers her “people”, usually family, explains her reasons, defends those reasons from objections, whereupon the family bears witness to the transformation and stands vigil if they care to do so until its complete.

Apparently many of the invited had misgivings, but others were simply interested. The consensus was that it was ultimately her choice. I’m not good at reading people, but I gather her husband was not entirely happy with her decision, but tried to support her.

The process itself was… very interesting to observe, and very ritualized. Three Inusannon participated. Two provided light restraint, while the third touched her head and, apparently, linked minds, showing her something that caused her to zone out in bliss while the extruded bits of himself infiltrated her facial orifices before detaching and invading her cranium.

Kragg began detailed medical scans, while Siala was mentally joined with one of the Inusannon, observing the process from Elsa’s point of view.

Apparently, the Inusannon “buds” slowly transform soft-tissue and neurological systems electro-chemically to bond and convert into Insuannon biological material. The parasite keeps the host’s bone and muscle structure, replacing digestive organs, the brain, most mucus membranes, etc. with their own expanding substance. The process took about three days from start to finish. Aaron didn’t last much past the first few minutes before heading out and getting drunk with Nova. Kragg and I stayed for most of it, leaving for food and rest before returning. At the end of that time, the new Inusannon, who chose the name “Sunset”, greeted everyone.

It was interesting, but I doubt I’ll be volunteering for the process. Kragg expressed some interest, however, and asked whether pre-existing cybernetic implants impair the process. Apparently bone and muscle cybernetics don’t cause problems, but anything interfacing with neurology is simply incompatible, and possibly harmful. It would appear Inusannon prefer to install their own cybernetic implants after conversion. This seems to make sense. Most implants are keyed to specific species after all.

Thus far, there have been no assassination or abduction attempts on Kragg. ELI did inform us that he had done a material-composition scan on the Leviathan orb when it was brought aboard Ackerman station, and he provided the material-analysis to Kragg. Kragg got some gas spectrometers from Siala and adapted them into his existing scanning systems. It would appear that we have the capacity to detect if anyone tries to smuggle such a sphere aboard the station via any of the areas covered by the scanners. Siala indicated that she would share this data with Artemisia T’Caria for the security of Omega. I can’t help but think that once we get the relay working again, the Leviathans and their proxies will be the galaxy’s chief challenge.

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ardhanari

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