The Collective knew there were spies in their network. They posed no true threat – not yet, anyway – but their presence was closely watched. The Collective planted viruses in the spies' programs to filter information and monitor the events in the galaxy around them. It was through these spies they learned of creatures known as the Old Machines – a hybrid of organic and inorganic material older than all other creations in the known galaxy. The Collective's curiosity was piqued and search parameters were changed to enable them to gather as much information as possible. Consensus was quickly reached that the Old Machines would be detrimental to their existence and a solution needed to be found.
It was also through these spies they first learned of his existence. An organic, different from the Creators, a human. One intent on preventing the Old Machines from returning and continuing their 'cycles'. Someone who might view the Collective as an ally against the Old Machines. They chose a platform to leave the Rim and find more information on this organic, the human called “Shepard”. Nearly 1200 programs were uploaded to the platform to assist with stealth, combat, and hacking. Additional firewalls were installed to protect against its own programs being compromised.
The lone platform did not know what to expect. The Collective carefully intercepted and monitored all communications; everything from video communications to extranet searches. The knowledge of the galaxy's other species and their languages and cultures was uploaded to the platform. Gaps in their codices were acknowledged and tasked as secondary directives for the platform to fill. Even with this data, the platform was wary of venturing forth to seek this new potential ally.
Its ship was a geth construct; automated messages were created to cover multiple contingencies – quarantine to warn away curious travelers and radiation warnings to thwart potential pirates as well as several other messages covering a variety of conditions to avoid premature contact with organic life forms. The platform was given a sniper rifle and a pistol and sent on its way.
It began its search on Eden Prime, where Shepard Commander had begun his journey to stop the Old Machines. From there, it learned of Shepard's travels to the Feros, Therum, Noveria, Virmire, and Ilos. The platform uploaded the data it gathered to the rest of the Collective as quickly as it was obtained. The more it studied this Shepard, the more curious it became. How was one being able to sway so many different species to serve together? It was true they all shared a common goal – preventing the arrival of the Old Machines (or “Reapers”, as these organics called them), but the platform knew that a common goal or enemy was often not enough, especially when there was incomplete data available, and there was very little information about the Old Machines.
The platform continued to keep track of all communications regarding Shepard's achievements – saving the Rachni on Noveria, the destruction of the facility on Virmire, the Battle of the Citadel, and Shepard's influence for humanity obtaining their first Councilor. One organic life form had accomplished so much in so little time, and it left the geth in awe. Consensus was reached that this human was worthy of respect and admiration.
These words left the geth bewildered. Was it truly respect and admiration it felt? It believed so and the majority of programs were in agreement. The Collective knew what emotions were but because of their seclusion, they had no way to test this new data. The geth's thoughts were transmitted to the Collective and new research tasks were assigned, ones designed to help understand what the platform was struggling to reconcile among its various programs.
During the initial stages of its search, the platform worked diligently to stay hidden. It knew from the data it had gathered that its kind were not looked kindly upon and if it were discovered, it might likely be destroyed. This fear was manifested when it encountered a group of Alliance soldiers as it researched the events of Eden Prime. It was able to escape with its life though the soldiers' ammunition removed a large portion of its protective armor.
Shortly after its brush with deactivation, the platform learned of the location of the Normandy's wreckage on the planet Alchera. It landed its shuttle several miles away from the detritus, unwilling to risk being seen by potential survivors if it landed closer. Its scanners monitored the area around it persistently and its weapon was always at the ready. It could not risk another encounter with any armed personnel.
The platform found no nearby life forms but continued to maintain a defensive posture. Metallic debris reflected the overhead sunlight, mingling with the glittering effect of the surrounding snowfall. It scanned and cataloged everything it found, from the placement of the wreckage to voice and video recordings. As it surveyed the scene, it noticed something shiny nearby – not quite as reflective as the rest of the debris field and oddly colored. Curious, it approached the flashing light with less restraint than it had shown thus far.
The 'N7' symbol stood out against the snow like a beacon. The platform picked the piece of armor up and studied it, noting that it was most likely Shepard's armor. It looked down at the hole in itself and a consensus was reached – this piece of armor would suffice to patch up the hole. There was something more than the utilitarian need for this piece of equipment, though. Something the platform couldn't make sense of. Its programs searched their collective memories and wondered if these strange feelings might be further proof of its wonderment of all that Shepard had done. It postulated what its existence would be like if it had been given the chance to work with Shepard. Several programs theorized that the platform might have been destroyed. Others concluded that, based on Shepard's accomplishments, it might have been welcomed as part of the crew. Debate ensued and a reluctant consensus was reached – Shepard's death was the loss of a significant asset. Using his armor would serve to memorialize the human and remind the rest of the geth Collective that there was still hope for reunification with their Creators.
One program spoke out, though. Was it simply the thought of keeping Shepard's memory alive that drove them to use the armor for repairs? Or was it something more? The platform paused as the rest of the programs struggled with this dilemma. They had encountered other pieces of armor and metal that would had sufficed to patch the damage. Why suddenly decide on this one? Awareness quickly spread throughout the myriad programs that there was, indeed, more to their decision than simple necessity. Any theories were tabled to be discussed at a more appropriate time.
Its repairs complete, the platform left the planet and continued on its search. It learned of Shepard's resurrection and the disappearance of human colonies. It realized that the Old Machines were using the Collectors as a way to hasten their arrival in the Milky Way. This new information was dispatched to the Collective and new instructions were issued – find a way to prevent the Collectors from achieving their goal.
In a matter of hours, the platform learned of the location of a device that would enable it to follow the Collectors back to their base of operations. It docked its ship in the far side of an Old Machine's corpse, using the deteriorating hulk to keep its presence hidden from passing scanners. It had no fear of indoctrination, something it quickly realized had been the downfall of the humans that had been aboard.
It deftly worked its way through the winding corridors, making quick work of the Reaper enemies that presented themselves. It watched from a raised catwalk as several husks bounded down a corridor toward some unseen foe. Two perfectly placed rounds ended their attack before it could begin. The platform paused a moment, scanning for more enemies, then hurried away as a trio of organics rounded the corner.
Soon, though, the organics caught up. The platform watched from above as the squad split up. It used its sniper scope and glanced up when it recognized Shepard. The rumors were true – Shepard had been resurrected. The platform peered down its scope again, taking aim at two husks that popped up behind the no-longer-deceased Commander. When the enemies fell, the platform stood, lowered its weapon, and said, “Shepard-Commander.” None of the organics raised their weapons to attack – a sign the platform took to mean they understood it meant them no harm. It turned and continued on its mission to retrieve the IFF.
Staying on the catwalks kept the geth above most of the enemies aboard the Reaper corpse, allowing it to reach the Reaper core quickly. It realized that the IFF wasn't in the core room, but located through a door on the far side of the room. It surveyed the core, then looked at the door, debating what course of action to take. There might be valuable information in the core – information that might help protect the Collective should the Reapers actually arrive. A consensus was quickly reached – put a barrier up at the door to prevent Reaper forces from attacking, then hack into the core, downloading as much data as possible. Several husks managed to get in behind it, though, and were immediately dispatched. It severed the link, turned to go through the door and retrieve the IFF, and was knocked out.
When it came to, it took a moment to self-assess any potential damage. Satisfied its programs were all intact, it sat up, and faced the infamous Shepard-Commander. The human asked many pointed questions, all of which the geth patiently answered. It explained the difference between geth and heretics, how the Reapers were a threat to the Collective, and that the geth and Shepard had mutual goals. As it spoke, the platform realized that joining Shepard's crew would be more beneficial than if it continued on its own. The name 'Legion' was settled on, and for the first time in over 300 years, a geth shook hands with an organic life form.
Things went well until Shepard started asking more questions about Legion's history. When he asked about the N7 armor being used to patch the hole, the geth paused. Shepard-Commander was benevolent and seemed to trust the geth. Still, the programs wondered what the reaction would be if he were to find out how Legion had come to admire his tenacity.
“There was a hole.” The geth knew it was stalling, giving its programs more time to determine possible outcomes and reach a consensus about which course of action to take – tell the truth or lie.
The geth was familiar with dishonesty and the various forms lying could take – omitting facts and certain truths, gentle fibs to spare another's feelings, outright lies to gain something for oneself. It had never needed to lie before, but as the programs filtered through various parameters and solutions, it realized that it might have to do just that.
Shepard-Commander crossed his arms over his chest, not satisfied with that answer. Legion looked down at its chest, the flaps around its eye-light flaring in confusion. It hearkened back to the question that caused the ongoing rift between his people and their Creators – Does this unit have a soul? How would this human react to the news that this piece of armor was so much more than a mere patch? That it represented his hard work and the 2-year loss of his skill and diplomacy? That this platform desired to emulate his behavior? Consensus was reached faster than ever before. It was one secret Legion would have to keep from the organics.
“No data available.”