The Reapers are perhaps the creepiest villains in the world of Mass Effect. And they frighten, among other things, with their complex intoxication process.
The plot of the original Mass Effect trilogy revolved around attempts to stop a sinister enemy – the Reapers. This is a race of intelligent spaceships, which every 50 thousand years acutely feel the need to destroy the most advanced civilizations. These are truly dangerous and terrifying opponents, because they are almost impossible to stop, even with all the futuristic technologies available to Commander Shepard. In the first game, an entire Alliance fleet struggled to defeat a single Reaper, and already in Mass Effect 3, a full-fledged army of Reapers begins a coordinated offensive across the galaxy.
The Reapers are such an impressive force that it was a real stroke of luck to meet one of them and just survive the encounter. This race is also scared by the fact that it is in the order of things for it to kidnap representatives of other nations and turn them into their own soldiers. For example, after all the manipulations of the Reapers, humans become mindless zombies, turians become strategists-raiders, and the remnants of the Protan race turn into collectors.
But the creepiest detail about the Reapers is not immediately apparent. It’s not about their ability to grind planets into powder in seconds, not about their incredible vitality and not even about their ability to turn representatives of different races into disgusting creatures under their control. We are talking about stupefaction – a process in which the Reapers take complete control of a sentient creature and force it to act against their interests.
Over the course of three games, Shepard has repeatedly encountered woozy heroes, including important antagonists from the first and third parts, and in the Arrival DLC for Mass Effect 2, he found himself in a research station full of woozy characters. According to popular theory, even Shepard himself is woozy. And although the developers said that this is not the case, they admitted that the idea itself looks extremely intriguing.
What is stupefaction?
In the course of stupefaction, the Reapers process the victim’s brain with electromagnetic waves, and then with their help they quietly manipulate his consciousness. Typically, these signals appear in the form of barely audible voices in the mind, but over time, these voices become louder and more insistent. If the victim tries to resist, then with the help of the same signals, the Reapers cause him severe headaches in order to suppress her will. After a certain period of time, the Reapers gain complete control over the victim’s mind and can force her to behave as they need.
A bit of background: Leviathans
The Reapers themselves appeared millennia ago, and they were created by the ancient race of Leviathans, who determined with the help of AI that the universe needs some kind of tool that can prevent the endless cycle of self-destruction of the lower races. Leviathans could observe other planets using special spherical artifacts, and in the process of observing, they temporarily entered the bodies of local residents. At these moments, the consciousness of the inhabitants seemed to go into hibernation, while the Leviathans literally controlled their bodies.
They could manipulate bodies at least indefinitely if they needed it. And as soon as the Leviathans completed their tasks, they broke the connection with the consciousness of the person, and he again regained control over his body, completely oblivious to what he was doing while he was passed out.
And when the Reapers staged the genocide of the Leviathans, they took into account the ability of the latter to control other people’s bodies, considering it a useful tool for future harvests. This is how a modified and more sinister version of the Leviathans’ skill came into being – the intoxication process.
It is very easy to fall prey to being drugged
The reapers carefully choose whom to stupefy, and as soon as they choose their victim, there will be no turning back for her. Moreover, she may be millions of light-years away from the Reapers and still will not be immune from drugging. Reapers are capable of transmitting the necessary signals from one end of the galaxy to the other, and all they need to do this is any piece of their technology.
Not even a specific device, but just any gadget, any piece of a device, or any object created by the Reapers, can serve as a transmitter of their signals. This is why researching Reaper technology is an incredibly dangerous task.
Fortunately, the risk of being stupefied while researching Reaper technology is greatly reduced if you follow the strict safety rules that are drawn up by the best minds in the Alliance. However, the Reapers in some cases are able to find loopholes even when their victims take all the necessary precautions.
Stealth is the key to success
Drugging can take place at different speeds, but the most effective option is to slowly and gradually instill in an unsuspecting victim. It all starts with a quiet whisper in the mind of the victim, which becomes louder and louder over time. This allows the Reapers to slowly take over the mind of the victim, who does not even realize that they are being controlled.
Of course, they can carry out an accelerated stupefaction, but in this case they risk inflicting irreparable damage on the victim, because of which they will not be able to effectively use it. Slow intoxication allows you to distort the victim’s consciousness, forcing him to more willingly act in the interests of the Reapers, often without realizing it.
For example, Saren and the Ghost, under the influence of the Reapers, were confident that they had managed to find a way to neutralize a global threat and that both of them were active throughout the galaxy, although in fact they were controlled by the Reapers. Thus, the victim’s mind is sometimes so distorted that it seems to her that she herself makes all the decisions – the same Saren was convinced that the Harbinger would not stupefy him, not realizing that this process had already started long ago.
Drugging is an extremely useful tool for the Reapers, because if used against the right people, it can be used to achieve a devastating effect. This is why it quickly became the Reapers’ preferred tactic during every harvest – after all, stupefying allows you to create dormant agents and then turn them into allies at the right time.
An example is the battle between the Reapers and the Protheans, during which the latter placed refugees in their shelters, who were already under the control of the Reapers, and later were used to sabotage the Protan military forces. But perhaps the most devastating consequence is the intoxication of those with great power and influence. If such a person falls under the control of the Reapers, his hands can disorganize his subordinates and people close to him, creating the chaos the Reapers need.
There is no way back
The most disturbing thing about intoxication is the realization that it is simply impossible to get rid of it. The intoxicated servant cannot break the connection with the Reapers in any way, and even if he tries to do it, going against the voices in his head, unbearable torment awaits him. The only one who in the entire history of this universe managed to escape from the influence of the Reapers was Matriarch Benezia – and that only because she went through serious psychological training, and the intoxication itself lasted only a few minutes.
Reapers never let go of drugged victims, and the process itself physically destroys neural connections in the brain. Actually, this is precisely why the Reapers prefer to use slow stupefaction, because it does not destroy the victim’s brain so quickly. It is possible to get rid of stupefaction only when the victim’s brain is no longer capable of performing higher mental functions, and therefore is already practically useless. By the time the Reapers take control of the victim, her mind has already been destroyed beyond recovery.