As Shepard attempts to activate the Crucible, they find themselves before a holographic representation of an AI calling itself the "Catalyst", taking the form of the child which has frequented Shepard's dreams. The Catalyst tells Shepard that it is the creator of the Reapers and reveals the reason for the cycles: it was tasked to preserve organic races and prevent them from being wiped out by synthetics, as its creators believed that synthetics would inevitably rise up against their creators. To do this, the Catalyst decided to convert advanced galatic civilizations into Reapers, effectively preserving them in a nigh-immortal form. When the Crucible is joined with the Citadel, the Catalyst realizes that the Reapers will no longer serve as an effective solution, but the Catalyst cannot change the cycles itself without Shepard's assistance. Therefore, it leaves the choice to Shepard. Depending on your Effective Military Strength, the Catalyst tells Shepard that the options of destroying and/or controlling the Reapers are possible through the Crucible, like others Shepard knew believed; however, the former will result in the destruction of all synthetic life and the latter will require Shepard to sacrifice themselves to upload their consciousness to the Reapers. If your EMS is high enough, the Catalyst offers its own solution: Synthesis, which alters all life in the galaxy to convert them to organic/synthetic hybrids, thus ending the need for the Reaper cycles. Whatever decision Shepard makes, the activation of the Crucible damages the mass relays and Citadels (less so in Control), causing the Normandy to crash-land on an unknown planet. The amount of damage sustained to the rest of the galaxy (if any) and whether the Normandy crew survives is based on your Effective Military Strength. LilyheartsLiara (talk)
Also, you can choose not to activate the Crucible, in which case all the species in this cycle are harvested/indoctrinated/destroyed by the Reapers, but the next one beats them.
- One of the next cycles. It's not specified which. Mitranim
- True enough. Mind you ... I've only seen the refusal ending once, but ... wasn't a hologram of Liara explaining things? If it wasn't the next cycle, her time capsules must have been really good... SDoradus (talk)
- There's a Liara hologram, then the credits, then a kid talking to a woman. The woman speaks of "those who came before us" and "the Archives". Nothing more specific. Mitranim