Actions

Work Header

Wavering Light

Chapter Text

The two silver Spectres had just finished taking a shower after helping Grunt defeat a thresher maw and were currently eating some lunch after using up so much energy and their armor was currently being cleaned and sterilized. Saren was currently going over some schematics Thane and Jacob had sent him on how to improve the Normandy’s armor plating and increase the yield of mining for materials. Aura was roving over the data pad Miranda had given her. It contained the current number of materials they had in the cargo hold and she was grinning ear to ear. Saren trilled towards her and she handed him the data. His eyes slowly read through the information and he made a pleased purr. They had amassed quite the stockpile so far to almost fully upgrade the ship but they were still missing some platinum and eezo to take care of installing the Thanix Cannon and increasing their fuel capacity. Still, this was good. Just as they were finishing up both their meal and brainstorming, Mordin suddenly came rushing in making a beeline to the two.

“Shepard, Arterius. Important news! Know your busy, have to deal with Collectors. Planning attack.” The old salarian stated as he started pacing then stopped as though he couldn’t hold back what was on his mind. “Nono! Too important to wait! Just received data. Still processing, analyzing likely scenarios. Not sure how to begin. Too much intel!”

“Mordin, take a breath first.” Aura instructed calmly. Mordin stopped and took a deep breath. “Now start at the beginning as best you can.”

“You know about the genophage?”

Saren and Aura spared a glance at each other. The genophage was a touchy subject to them. They knew that it was a virus created by the salarians to quell the Krogan Rebellions and the virus made it so only one krogan pregnancy out of a thousand led to a live birth. What they also learned recently was that Mordin was part of the project and that he discovered that the Krogan were evolving past the virus. Aura found it good news while Saren on the other talon was still on the fence about it. Mordin was obviously disturbed by the revelation stating that the Krogan were too warlike with a dead culture and that an increase in their population would lead to more aggression and war. The salarian doctor then added that at one point he and a small team created a new version of the virus and released it on to Tuchanka to ‘restabilize’ the population.

“Honestly, the first genophage was a mistake bordering a war crime in my opinion.” Aura shook her head displeased. “How the hell could you do it again?”

“Exactly the reaction feared. In small numbers, krogan sympathetic, tragic. Galactic regret for deployment of genophage.” Mordin stated with a wave of his hand as though he anticipated the question. “But in large numbers, expansion, aggression, war. Krogan too dangerous. Had to stop them.” The salarian continued on defending that the first genophage was necessary. Then with cultural fragmentation; the modified genophage was even more necessary. The human woman narrowed her eyes. She didn’t buy it. While she refused to just let the subject drop, Shepard understood that this was a sign of trust from the salarian and she wasn’t about to jeopardize it over a disagreement in ethics. Aura composed herself with a neutral expression then she motioned for Mordin to continue. The doctor informed her that Blood Pack mercenaries captured a former teammate of his. Another salarian by the name of Maelon. His last known location was on Tuchanka and he feared that his teammate was currently being tortured or worse.

Aura stared at Saren who shrugged then watched as she got to her feet. “We’ll ask Wrex if he or his scouts saw any of the mercs. Saren, if you can pry Garrus away from that console in the main battery, I’d like you two to meet me and Mordin in the shuttle bay.” Aura instructed then snorted. “Besides, we need to pick up a certain krogan youngster and send him back here.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~

The four of them returned to Tuchanka a few hours later and upon arriving at the landing pad EDI informed them that thanks to them assisting Grunt with his Rite, he had received over several breeding requests. However, the tank-born wasn’t the only one. Apparently, Aura and Saren weren’t excluded from that list. Shepard had five while Saren received eight. Garrus laughed in vivacious and carefree amusement. EDI also informed them that a salarian had recently passed through the area and that Wrex might have more information regarding the whereabouts of Maelon. They passed by Grunt who was currently going over a new krogan shotgun in the medical/armory lab near Wrex’s throne. Aura was just happy to see Grunt finding his place in a clan and she could see even from this distance that the tank-born krogan was very happy. Clearing her thoughts and refocusing on the task at hand, she and her squad made their way to Wrex who beamed at them.

“So, I got to ask,” Smirked the Urdnot leader, “You two going to accept the breeding requests?”

“Fuck no.” Saren growled disgruntled.

Aura laughed at how quick the silver turian turned down the off. “Sorry, Wrex. I must decline too. I have too much on my plate.”

Wrex chuckled. “Ah, well. That’s a shame.”

“We’re looking for a salarian. He was captured by the Blood Pack and brought here.” Saren stated, obviously wanting to change the subject. “Have you seen anyone matching that description.”

Wrex nodded his head towards where another krogan wearing the Urdnot markings overlooking the other clans. He quickly warned them that they should make it quick with gathering intel as he needed the scout to maintain a constant watch on the other clans. Aura nodded then with a wave of her hand, motioned for her group to follow. The scout was polite but on edge, one eye focused on them and the other constantly scanning the perimeter. When they inquired about the salarian, he informed them that since it was Blood Pack who took him, then the squad needed to find Clan Weyrloc as the mercs answered to them. He also informed them that he had sent out one of his scouts to check it out but hadn’t reported back in a long while. He figured the clan captured him too. He then offered to give the squad one of the trucks and stated that all they had to do was follow the highway straight to Weyrloc’s base so long as they were ready to deal with vorcha and other denizens of the area.


~~~~~~~~~~~~

The ride didn’t take long however, the vorcha, feral varren, exploding klixens and raging Blood Pack Krogans were a different matter. Still, the team wouldn’t have gotten very far without Urz who somehow had managed to stowaway on the tomka just as they were heading out to the Blood Pack base. Aura was giving Urz scratches on his head just as they reached what looked to be an old hospital. As the door to the building opened, Mordin quipped that it was repurposed and sturdy enough to withstand punishment. Their varren growled, snorted then pawed at its nose in discomfort. Seemed like every species despised a trip to the doctors.

“This is unfortunate.” Garrus trilled disapprovingly. “Hospitals are not fun to fight through.”

Aura turned to glance at the young turian. “What is fun to fight through?”

Saren and Garrus looked at each other, smirked then answered with the younger starting off and the older adding on.

“Gardens.”

“Electronic shops.”

“Antique stores.”

“But only if their classy.” The two turians said in agreement.

The good doctor and the commander shook their heads though they were smiling at the list. Urz trotted ahead as their scout as they cautiously entered the hospital. They had only been in the building for a few minutes when the varren barked at them and disappeared around the corner where they found the corpse of a dead human. Mordin immediately set to work to find any form of clues or answers as to what was going on here. The body was littered with sores, tumors. There were ligatures showing restraint at the wrists and ankles and track marks indicating multiple injection sites. Mordin concluded that the poor sod was a victim of experimentation. This made both Aura and Saren shudder slightly. The commander knelt down beside Mordin resting one hand on Urz’s back while the salarian continued to scan the body. It was abundantly clear that Weyrloc was trying to cure the genophage.

“Why use humans though?” Aura asked the doctor.

“Humans useful as test subjects. Genetically diverse. Enables exploration of treatment modalities.” Mordin explained. “However, human experiments strictly high-level, concept testing. Wise to delay use on varren. Powerful bite.”

“How are we more diverse?” Aura asked, “Is it because we look different or something?”

Mordin shook his head holding up his omni-tool. “No, no, no. Ignore superficial appearance. Down to genetic code.” He explained gesturing to her and the dead human. “Biotic abilities. Intelligence levels.” He made a nod towards the two turians further iterating that he could look at any random turian, asari or krogan and make a reasonable guess but humans on the other hand, were too variable to judge. There were outliers in every species, sure. Geniuses, idiots were also true but it was a humans probability curve that offered greater overall varieties. He turned his attention back to the corpse, reading the scans at an incredible speed. Mordin went on to state that from the position of the tumors, they were deliberately mutating the adrenal and pineal glands to modify hormone levels and counterattack on the glands hit by the genophage. Honestly, as morbid as it sounded, Aura and Saren had to admit it was clever. The genophage altered hormone levels in Krogan so it made sense to attack the glands being affected.

They pressed on.

The squad had just barely entered the next room when a small horde of krogan emerged from the balcony above. The one donning the white armor claimed to be a speaker for clan Weyrloc. He claimed that right, Shepard and her team should be dead however his clan leader ordered him to let them leave and spread the message of Weyrloc’s return to glory.

“If we run, we’ll just trip over the dozens of krogan we killed to get here” Saren chortled as he kept his hand on the holster of his pistol. “We’ll take our chances.”

“You only killed our weakest and youngest, turian.” The speaker spat. “They were not worthy of remaining near our glorious work. Inside, however, you will find only hardened Blood Pack veterans, tempered by savagery and war and dedicated to one goal!” Aura rolled her eyes but the speaker ignored her proclaiming that Maelon would cure the genophage and Clan Weyrloc would spread throughout the galaxy bathing it in a sea of blood. This made Mordin nervous. Saren on the other hand had heard enough and drew his pistol.

“You talk too much.” He snarled, firing a round into the pipe just under the speaker’s feet.

Reflexively, he drew his shotgun laughing at silver turian mocking him for missing a simple target. It was quiet for a brief moment and that was when they heard a hissing sound. The krogan looked down and saw a slight distortion in the air. The look of realization followed by a twisted frown of horror was the last thing they saw of the speaker. Saren fired a second round into the gas leaking from hole in the pipe and all three krogan erupted in a torrent of red and orange flames that devoured them whole leaving nothing but ash and dust.

“So much for diplomacy…” Garrus stated flatly.


~~~~~~~~~~~~

They made down to the third level when Mordin spotted a console flickering with life and immediately. From what Shepard noticed the files on the console contained genetic sequences, hormone mutagens and protein chains. There were even files on living tissue and cloned tissue. He seemed impressed. According to what he was reading, the work seemed to be following standard treatment vectors while avoiding scorched-earth immunosuppressants that might alter the hormone levels further. He seemed pleased as he made it clear that he would hate to see that damage come to be. Aura narrowed her eyes. Most people wouldn’t be so causal about developing a sterility plague. Mordin spared a glance at her and seemed to anticipate her thoughts.

“Not developing. Modifying.” He clarified. “Much more difficult. Hundred times more complex trying to work with confines of existing genophage.”

He easily explained that he did accept nor tolerated errors as that would cause a multitude of problems. Total sterility, malignant tumors, reduced effectiveness of the virus or worse, death. The salarian adamantly stated that it had to be done to keep the krogan population in check. He compared it to gardening. Aura shook her head disapprovingly. No matter how pretty Solus made it sound, the commander saw it as murder but she kept her mouth shut as they moved on. They didn’t get very far when she spotted a body on an examination table. The sight of the body had Mordian hesitate almost slightly as he picked up the data pad beside the body bag. It was dead krogan female. The tumors present indicated that she was an experiment but the lack of restraint marks meant that she was a volunteer.

“Sterile Weyrloc female willing to risk procedures. Hoped for cure.” The salarian doctor seemed mortified. “Pointless. Pointless waste of life...”

“Didn’t expect you to be so disturbed by the sight of a dead krogan.” Saren scoffed at Solus.

“What? Why?” Mordin whipped his head up from the dead body to glare at the silver turian, insulted at the insinuation. “Because of genophage work? Irrelevant. No, causative!” He pointed accusingly at Saren. “Never experimented on live Krogan! Never killed with medicine! Her death not my work... Only reaction to it...”

He stated that the goal was to stabilize the population but he never wanted this. Mordin, hunched over with his arms on the table as he continued to stare at the lifeless body before him. He could see logically in his head but it was still unnecessary and it was a foolish waste of life. He hated to see this. He had done yearly recon missions. Water, tissue samples, etc. And he ensured that no mistakes were made. The salarian recalled his superiors offering to carry on his work. He refused needing to see it for himself. Needed to see it in person. Had to see that it was necessary. Now that he thought about it, he probably was only seeing the small picture and it reminded him of why he chose to run a medical clinic on Omega. He gazed back softly at the krogan woman waving his hand over her form as though offering her a blessing? A prayer maybe? To find rest, perhaps.

Neither of Shepard’s group was expecting that. Who would have thought Mordin was the religious type. Mordin explained that the genophage modification project altered millions of lives and he saw the results. Ego, humility, juxtaposition. The fragility of life and the size of universe. He explored religions after his work was completed. Learned from different races but still had more questions than answers. He even stated that while the project was great in scope, scientifically brilliant, he would not deny the harsh truth that it was ethically difficult. The krogans reaction was visceral and tragic. The salarian quickly added that while he didn’t think he was guilty, he was responsible. He trained as a doctor. The genophage affected fertility but didn’t kill. Aura noticed a falter in Mordin’s expression. It was still difficult to see the bigger picture when it was obscured by a mountain of corpses. Was there actually guilt in his eyes?

“You could have cured the genophage.” Aura stated crossing her arms over her chest.

“Assumes human reaction. Krogan stimulus response different. Harsh environment, take chance to fight, flee.” Mordin stated with a shake of his head. “Would have caused chaos on Tuchanka. Victor would have war economy, bloodthirsty army. Galactic expansion would have harmed the entire galaxy had to be done. Genophage saved lives.”

Aura encroached on Mordin’s personal space and pointed at the krogan woman’s body. “Look at the dead woman, Mordin.” She growled lowly. “Does it look like you saved her?”

He was silent.

“Does it?!” She repeated and Mordin shook his head in answer. “Come on, we still have a salarian to save.

Shepard took point with the fish-dog sticking close to her like they trained for missions like this. Urz would investigate large rooms firsts before the crew only bristling his spines or growling when there was a threat. Aura had a dog once on Earth after joining the Alliance. A big Shepherd. Gods rest his soul. He was old to begin with but didn’t care often doing patrols with her when she was on guard post. Urz reminded her of him always watching her back. Perhaps she’d convince Saren to have them bring the varren with them. Maybe piss off Miranda. She spared at glance at the scarred creature as he stopped at a closed door and began clawing at it. The squad readied their weapons and Aura clicked her tongue to Urz who backed up to stand behind her. She hacked the locking mechanism and as the door slid open, she found that it was occupied by a corpse and another Krogan. From the markings on his arms, it was clear that he wasn’t part of the Weyrloc clan. Upon closer inspection, Mordin informed her that the krogan was from Wrex’s clan which meant he was the missing scout the watchman informed them about. The scout looked dazed and confused and from the looks of it, probably experimented on by the Blood Pack.

When Aura tried to coax the scout to head back to the camp, he merely grumbled unintelligibly not budging at all. Mordin leaned over to her and whispered in her ear stating that the scout was probably mentally unstable and may have been brainwashed. She still had a few tricks up her sleeve. While the doctor was talking to her, the scout was blaming himself for getting caught, stating he wasn’t strong enough or good enough and that it was probably best that he just remained her. Saren and Garrus made an annoyed trill towards each other at the display.

“If you want to help Urdnot, you need to get back there. But it would take a real badass to make it back to camp while injured.” Shepard spoke in a fierce tone.

The scout lifted his head up to meet her gaze. “I can do it.”

“You?” Aura mocked with a faux scoff. “I said a ‘badass'. Not a quarian with a tummy ache.”

The krogan scout growled at her as he rose to his feet. “I’m up!” He exclaimed then proclaimed he was off to the camp.

Aura nodded proudly. “That you are. Get back there and show them your worth. Go. Go!”

He didn’t need anymore prompting than that and he dashed off up the stairs roaring loudly. Mordin looked at her in amazement. He didn’t expect her to be successful. Saren was rumbling proudly. Garrus merely chuckled. There was no pep talk like a military pep talk. Urz barked then purred when the human gave him scratches on the head for praise. They peaked around a door and noticed large explosive crates littering the room. While a misplaced shot would cause one hell of an explosion, Mordin pointed out that a well placed shot on one of the crates would burn through Krogan armor with ease. Considering how thick the Blood Pack mercs were here and the fact they found the clan leader among them, Aura was more than certain they were close to finding Maelon. Guld, the Weyrloc leader, was a pain in the ads to deal with as he often called for his mercs or his varren to attack them. Fortunately, thanks to a well-placed shot by Garrus, the Weyrloc leader was executed. Saren and Urz got some cuts and bruises while Aura got a decent bruised eye. Mordin tended to them both to get them stable before they descended down to the final level where they found a massive lab along with an olive green salarian going over a large hologram of notes and data.

“Maelon.” Mordin said in disbelief. “Alive and unharmed.”

From what they could see, Maelon showed no signs of being in distress, or evidence of torture. The salarian turned around to stared at them for a moment before returning to his work. Mordin had a look of confusion. When he questioned his former teammate on what was going on, Maelon whipped around glaring at his former superior.

“For such a smart man, Professor, you always had trouble seeing evidence that disagreed with your preconceptions. How long will it take you to realize that I’m here because I want to be here?”

“He wasn’t kidnapped at all.” Saren stated, “He came here voluntarily to cure the genophage.”

Maelon nodded towards Saren in confirmation. Mordin shook his head disapprovingly. He countered that he and Maelon’s team agreed that the project was necessary. Maelon scoffed gesturing to Mordin. “How was I supposed to disagree with the great Doctor Solus?! I was your student! I looked up to you.”

The doctor pointed at the dead bodies littering the tables. “Experiments performed here. Live subjects! Prisoners?! Torture and executions. Your doing?!”

Maelon shouted back, crying out that he and everyone else already had the blood of millions on their hands. He proclaimed that if it took a little bit more to put things right, he could deal with it. He added that he and his kind committed cultural genocide and that nothing he ever does will be justified. He confirmed the experiments were monstrous but he made a jab at Mordin stating that he was taught by a monster.

“Never taught you this, Maelon!”

“So, your hands are clean! What does it matter if the ground is stained with the blood of millions!” He smacked Mordin’s chest in defiance. “You taught me the end justified the means. I will undo what we did, Professor! The only way I know how!”

“ENOUGH!!!!” Roared the commander as she broke the two up. She glared at Maelon. “We’re shutting down your lab down, Maelon. Too many have died here!”

Maelon drew his pistol from his hip and aimed it at the squad. He was growing hysterical, raving that none of them could face the truth, nor admit that Mordin’s brilliant mind led him to commit an atrocity. When he spun around, Mordin had moved so swiftly landing a strong punch to Maelon’s stomach and slammed him into the wall behind the hologram. Neither Saren or Aura thought he could move so quickly. The old doctor drew his own weapon and aimed it at his student’s head. “Unacceptable experiments! Unacceptable goals! Won’t change.” He growled then his eyes seemed to grow darker. “Have to kill you.”

“Mordin wait!” Aura said quickly grabbing the salarian’s wrist and lowering the gun. “You don’t need to do this. You’re not a murderer.”

Mordin tensed up as she held his wrist tightly, however as he repeated her words in his head over a million times, he let go of his weapon allowing her to take his weapon. “No...” He sighed, “No... not a murderer... Thank you, Shepard.”

Maelon slipped through Mordin’s grasp and gave his former teacher a lost look. He once again stated that the Krogan didn’t deserve what was done to them. He pleaded for him to end the genophage. Mordin shook his head as he watched Maelon leave and he turned towards his student’s work. Once he was certain his student was out of earshot, the old salarian turned his head towards the two Spectres. He first apologized to them in misunderstanding the full story then thanked the two for assisting him in the matter. Aura was more concerned on Mordin’s wellbeing at this moment than anything. The doctor confided that he wanted to kill his student, should have really. Even implied that it would have been easier for Maelon since his experiments revealed how he had fallen. Personally, Mordin expected it from the krogan, not one of his own people.

“Maybe you’ll remember that the next time you’re discussing the ethics of the genophage.”

Mordin merely nodded his head. He looked up at that research before him. It was the only loose end and from what the trio gathered; he was thinking about deleting it. Aura, on the hand was able to convince Mordin to save it. He was regretting what the krogan had become, saw the horror of what had transpired here, the loss. Wasted potential, he’d say. True, many people died here and should he destroy it, the deaths they saw here would have been for nothing but saving it would make the deaths worth something. Ultimately, Mordin chose to save the data but not before wiping out the main file from the database throughout the area. He then requested that they leave the planet and got to somewhere sunnier.