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Object Rho[]

Dr. Amanda Kenson's scientific team has cataloged three major discoveries on the artifact encased in the 157-Golgotha asteroid. First, the large artifact is rooted into the core of the asteroid and has a barrier that is similar to but much more powerful than a biotic stasis field. This gives it an unnatural resilience to alteration or damage and even prevents state-of-the-art laser drilling from extracting the smallest piece for analysis.

Second, the object's interior is energetically active with a quantum stasis field rivaling that of Prothean technology found in mass relays. Like those creations, it activates in response to threat, at which point the artifact consumes a phenomenal amount of power. Dr. Kenson's team believes the object draws this power directly from dark matter, though how is still unknown.

The third discovery is that the object broadcasts signals and information on many different spectra. One such pulse, suspected to be similar to a quantum entanglement communicator, reaches into Reaper territory. Another broadcast is infrasound, consistent with frequencies that trigger feelings of awe and fear in humans, a known factor in Reaper indoctrination. Kenson's laboratory is filled with equipment dedicated to monitoring any signal coming from the artifact in the hopes that some clue will prove the Reapers' undoing before it's too late.

Planet: Aratoht[]

"Nothing is impossible," says the Hegemony propaganda poster that depicts a muscular batarian miner under an Aratoht sky, his rebreather held away from his face as if he's just taken it off. The image sums up millions of man-hours of labor on the batarian planet and represents (or misrepresents) much of its history. Two decades ago, Aratoht, like several planets in the Skyllian Verge, was claimed by both human and batarian governments, but the Alliance backed out after learning about the atmosphere's dangerously low pressure and oxygen levels. Instead, they concentrated their colonial efforts on planets that could support human life without the aid of domed habitats and rebreathers. Human governments saw it as a wise move; batarians saw it as cowardly.

The batarians rose to the colonization challenge, shipping in large numbers of laborers. They took the high financial costs and casualties due to accidents or logistical snafus in stride. Large-scale dumping of cyanobacteria has increased the oxygen in the atmosphere by a fraction of one percent, a modest increase that the Hegemony trumpets as a sign of their eventual victory. Short-term profits on Aratoht are largely made in the minerals sector through mining the extremely metal-rich planetary crust. The dark side to the mining does not appear on the propaganda poster -- the majority of laborers are indentured servants or slaves.

Aratoht is rumored to have military bases on its surface and throughout its solar system, though details are heavily restricted by the Hegemony's Ministry of Information Control. Human merchant ships rarely come to the planet, outcompeted by local companies that benefit from heavy economic protections. The average Aratoht citizen only sees humans on the news, usually featured in stories of trials and executions of accused spies.

The Alpha Relay[]

Discovering the age of a mass relay is not an easy task. Relays can shield themselves to preserve their integrity down to the quantum level, so taking a sample for analysis proves nigh impossible. Relays also maintain self-cleaning cycles, wiping away potential evidence, though damage or dormancy can cause this cycle to break down (such as in the case of the Charon Relay, which became covered in ice).

A breakthrough was recently made by Dr. Amanda Kenson, who revisited old methods of dating the relays by testing dust trapped in their gravity wells. By comparing the relative velocity of relays to that of the stars they orbit as well as the composition of the dust around dormant relays against the dust at known locations in their star systems, Kenson could create a timeline of when a relay passed through the dust. The result dates the relay back millions of years; some may even predate the Protheans.

Kenson concluded that the oldest known relay is in batarian space. Dubbed "Alpha," it resides near the star Bahak and is unusual in its potential range and versatility. Alpha usually sends and receives mass at the range of a normal secondary relay, but if certain controls are adjusted, it becomes powered by an unprecedented amount of dark energy that could send cargo to sixteen other relays and even across a great distance to the Citadel. Hegemony authorities have kept this quiet, fearing retaliation from Council species who would assume hostile intent if they found a sudden new route into their space. It goes without saying that the Reapers have no such fear.