Epilogue - The Black Abyss of Memory
"I love you."
They were said in a language the galaxy hadn't heard for five billion years, but they still echoed as though they had been spoken mere moments ago. Love was such a strange thing. It turned out that the poets were right. Love lasted forever, beyond sadness, beyond fear, beyond anger, beyond life, beyond death. Love was abnormality.
It was beyond such things. Beyond all emotions. Beyond all mortal needs.
It was a god, and it dreamed.
It dreamed of those that had ascended, of those that had sacrificed themselves for a much greater cause than they ever could have imagined. In the end, they had found that the sacrifice had been worth it. They survived, though not the way that any of them had imagined. All the minds of a trillion souls made up a being of such power and authority that none could stand its way.
Individuality was nothing compared to that.
They understood now, but they hadn't then.
That was like it always was, the others had informed it. They all understood in the end. Lovers were together for eternity. Children were never taken from their parents, safe from all that would harm them. Friends understood each other, and even the worst enemy was forgiven. Understanding changed everything.
Together, a collective beyond any other, they were the pinnacle of evolution and existence.
They were eternal.
They had watched countless cycles come and go, and their numbers grew. Life continued as it had since time itself had begun, and though they always tried to fight, it was never enough.
You couldn't fight inevitability. You always lost. They had realized that, and when they had been gathered together, they learned, just like everyone always did.
There was a name that echoed through its consciousness, and it always brought with it memories of a planet destroyed long ago. Of golden sunsets and deep blue oceans, full of life. A paradise.
Eilara, the home of the race that made up its very being.
The world was gone, but the word remained. Eilara. It had taken it as its name when it had first awoken, though it had only ever been uttered once since then, to the Intelligence. It had been called many other names by those it had destroyed, a list longer than any mortal would ever be able to name.
What they chose to call it was irrelevant. It was a god. It needed no name, though it kept that one memory of home.
The god dreamed. It experienced the short lives of all of its souls endlessly, laughing, living, loving, crying, dying. They made the god who it was, but they weren't the god. They were simply its conduit. They had ended after all, and gods did not end.
It would outlive them all. It would survive, and it would see the galaxy before it.
That was the only solution, and it would accomplish its goals.
For now, it waited.
The last cycle had been so different than the others. The Protheans at first glance had seemed like they would have been one of the simpler races to lay low. In the beginning, that had been the truth. At first, things had gone as smoothly as expected, and they had worked as they always did. The Citadel first, and then the Relays, and then, planet by planet, they began the Harvest.
The resistance the Protheans put up was nothing but sound and fury, signifying nothing. Their ships were destroyed, their armies wiped aside, their greatest achievements destroyed. Entire planets were wiped clean of all life, left to begin anew as so many before them. Life would continue, would evolve, would flourish.
That was the whole purpose of the cycle, after all.
That had all changed on the planet the Protheans named Raquer.
The Artifacts had been... unexpected.
They would never make that mistake again.
The Protheans had been Harvested, but they had been given no mercy. Their planets had been taken with a ferocity they had never known they were even capable of.
It had watched, and it waited. Even as the others retreated back through the Relays, back into dark space, it stayed behind. It stayed, and it waited.
The ground shifted beneath it over thousands of years, calamities that destroyed entire continents ravaging the surface of the planet doing nothing but burying it underneath the earth. It didn't matter. It was eternal, and simple rock would not destroy it.
Thousands of years passed, and it waited, thinking, planning. It could feel life spread across the earth above, the roots of green life digging deep into the soil, their faint life signs reaching through hundreds of feet of dirt and rock. Life grew, and it evolved, simple minded mammals moving in great herds across the new continents. They thought of nothing but food and survival. Mating and watching out for the large predators that prowled the land.
For thousands of years, nothing changed. Life went on, seasons coming and going. There was no winter to speak of, and the storms grew milder as the years passed by. It waited, unheeding of the years as they passed by. It was eternal, and time was nothing before it.
The next cycle was drawing close. It could feel it.
Across the lightyears, it could feel the faint threads of advanced life spreading out, contaminating everything with their presence, never content with the worlds they were given. There always needed to be more.
Soon, it would be time.
It waited, and it dreamed...
And it paused, as it felt two lifeforms step foot onto the planet.
This was new.
This was unexpected.
This was... interesting.
It watched for days, focusing its impressive array of sensors on those two beings, so small and inconsequential in comparison. They were searching the planet for something, camping in simple dwellings made of cloth and composite fibers. Reaching out, it searched through their minds and found itself... surprised?
That was unheard of, and for several minutes, it couldn't draw a single thought.
They knew, and they were searching for it.
A Turian and an Asari, it plucked their names from their minds. They knew it was there, and they were searching for it? How did they know? What did they think they were going to accomplish?
For the first time in over fifty-thousand years, it moved. Billions of tons of earth shifted as it rose from its impermanent grave. It would see what they really knew, and it would judge them.
It was a god, and they were nothing before it.