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A recent blog about Shepard's reaction to the next cycle has caused a lot of discussion as to what the next cycle would really be like. I personally have often thought about this. Before I had even beaten Mass Effect 3, I was confident that the next cycle would be able to defeat the Reapers, even if ours were to fail completely. I think this for many reasons, which I shall detail below.
The Dominant Races
In our cycle, three races were running the show: the asari, the salarians, and the turians. The asari and salarians have this power simply because they found the Citadel before any other races did. Thus, we may assume that the first races to find the Citadel in the next cycle will be dominant. As an added bonus, we can easily determine which races these will be. They are as follows -
- The raloi - Their plan to avoid the Reapers in our cycle appears to be working, as there is no mention of an assault on Turvess after the plan is explained by Admiral Anderson. The raloi already know about the Citadel and the Relay Network, meaning they will likely be the first race to reach the galactic hub. This gives the next cycle an edge, as the raloi know about the Reapers from square one.
- The vorcha - Seeing as the vorcha are little more than "Cavemen in Space" in our cycle, the Reapers are avoiding their homeworld. However, the vorcha have been exposed to FTL tech and Relay Network, making them another early race of the next cycle. Also, like the raloi, the vorcha are aware of the Reapers. As for what these space-faring barbarian bring to the table militarily, their durability and brutality will be quite useful in the next cycle's Reaper War, just as they were in ours.
- The yahg - The yahg will enter the next cycle very early, as they are developing space travel during ME3. They will be a military force to be reckoned with in the next cycle. Yahg intelligence, resilience, and overwhelming strength will be very useful to the next cycle both in preparation for the next Arrival, and in the actual fighting that will follow.
Unlike our cycle, the next cycle has a shot at beating the Reapers conventionally. Two of the three dominant races will know about the Reapers, so the upcoming cycle will have 50,000 years to prepare. A recent rough estimate places the number of Sovereign-class Reapers ever created at around 18,000. While it can take an entire fleet to kill a Sovereign-class Reaper, the next cycle could meet that mark by building at least one fleet every 2.778 years. Only one third, give or take a bit, of a fleet is lost in the act, however, so the actual number of fleets needed is substantially less.
Other Races, and What They Bring to the Table
While not dominant in galactic society, races of lesser power played great roles in our cycle's Reaper War. The krogan served as the perfect heavy infantry, stalling Reaper advances wherever they went. Quarian and/or geth fleets gave us a chance in space, with their advanced technology and superior numbers. Doubtless the less powerful races of the next cycle will each bring their own advantages to the table, and, under the dominant races listed above, they'll be prepping from day one to use their skills against the Reapers. While more difficult to predict than the dominant races, the races of lesser power are likely to be -
- The varren - While it will take time, the varren will likely be a race of the next cycle. Javik mentions that the Protheans used the rachni as attack dogs, just like we use the varren. From this we may conclude that the varren will evolve, like the rachni before them. Hailing from Tuchanka, they appear to share many traits with their krogan forerunners, namely their brutality, resilience, pack or clan bases social interaction, and quick breeding cycles. What we're looking at here is a race of dog people with the average disposition and social structure of the krogan.
- The pyjaks - The codex mentions pyjaks creating crude settlements and using tools. This is the same level humans were at during Javik's cycle. We can conclude that pyjaks will be for the next cycle what humans are for ours. The pyjaks will not be the best at anything, but will be capable of anything, to a certain extent. They will be adaptive, and inventive, with that level of ingenuity commonly associated with humanity.
- The kirik - The kirik have latent biotic abilities, and a hive mind. Their biotic abilities will likely be on par with those of the asari. The hive mind will probably lead to a rachni-like culture, and natural combat prowess like that of the Feros colonists. These abilities will grow stronger when the kirik are gathered in groups, much like the geth.
- The space cows - Physically, we have two examples of evolved herd-dwelling prey animals to base our predictions on: the elcor and the krogan. I think the hands indicate a krogan-like evolutionary path, which would eventually lead to bipedal space cows. Their propensity for thievery shows a sense of curiosity, and unlike the krogan, they didn't all grow up on Tuchanka where everything is violent and must kill to survive, so culturally I think they'll be like humans or salarians.
We can expect military aid from the varren and kirik. The space cows would likely play a role as scientists, though they could make excellent soldiers given the resilience of herd animals. Pyjaks could help both as scientists and as soldiers, given the more well-rounded tendencies of primate races.
Would the Reapers really give 50,000 years of prep time?
In the words of the ubiquitous magic 8 ball, "All signs point to yes." They don't call it a Cycle for nothing. Everything appears to be timed, with the Arrival happening every 50,000 years. The salarian scientist Chorban, in his analysis of the keepers, notes that they respond to the signal every 50,000 years, like clockwork. There are no mentions of any outliers or variations.
People often mention the Vanguard, saying that its job is to monitor galactic civilization and determine whether or not the harvest is ripe, as it were. I do not believe this is the case. Sovereign was dormant as of its discovery by Edan Had'dah, just like the Reapers in Dark Space. Clearly, it was not monitoring anything. The Vanguard is on a timer, like the rest of the fleet, and wakes up 50,000 years after the races of the previous Cycle are extinguished. It then opens the door for the other Reapers at the Citadel. It is this activation of the Citadel Relay that is the purpose of the Vanguard, not the analysis of societal achievement.
For 50,000 years, the Reapers are blind to what goes on in galactic society. I agree with the sentiment that they are fools to not annihilate the raloi and vorcha. Still, that is what they're doing.
Why would the other races believe the raloi and vorcha, spending 50,000 years building an army?
The answer to this is simple. As soon as one of Liara's archives is discovered, and it is confirmed in the Refusal ending that this will happen, there will be undeniable proof of the existence of the Reapers. Any Negative Nancies out there would be directed to an archive and told to rad up on their history. Given their familiarity with our cycle, archive discovery by the dominant races will be swift.
Even without the archives, the dominant races could force compliance. Society would end up like the oppressive Prothean Empire. The Reapers would still lose, however, and that would leave the next Cycle all of eternity to transition to a more pleasant system of governance and social organization.
What do you think? Any other races you think would be present in the next cycle? Anything I said that you think is utter nonsense? Please comment!