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Should I free the Rachni Queen in Mass Effect 1?

If you‘ve landed on this guide, you‘re likely facing one of the most morally ambiguous decisions Commander Shepard encounters in Mass Effect: determining the fate of the last known Rachni Queen. I‘ve played through every installment of the series more times than I can count and analyzed all the outcomes extensively. In my expert opinion, sparing the Rachni Queen is ultimately the optimal choice for the long-term future of the galaxy. While not without risk, the potential benefits outweigh the costs when all factors are considered.

The Rachni Wars – A Bloody History

Before understanding the implications of freeing the Queen, it‘s important to examine the violent history between the rachni and the rest of the civilized galaxy. Approximately 2000 years ago, Citadel space was plunged into a desperate conflict against the rachni, a species of highly intelligent hive-minded insects. The rachni bred prodigiously and seemed to have limitless numbers. According to data records, they eventually amassed an army in the trillions.

The war was devastating with total rachni forces outnumbering the population of any individual Council species other than the asari. Within just a few decades, the rachni had occupied over 300 worlds. The salarians and krogan were coloring on the verge of defeat when the salarians took a desperate gamble – uplift the primitive krogan to turn them into soldiers.

This gambit paid off. The krogan toughness, resilience, and rapid breeding made them the perfect counter to the insectoid menace. Over the next century of brutal fighting, krogan fleets tracked down the rachni homeworld and killed the Rachni Queens, eventually driving the species to complete extinction…or so it was believed.

Discovering the Last Surviving Queen

Fast forward to Commander Shepard‘s adventures in Mass Effect 1. During a mission on Noveria to investigate geth activity, Shepard discovers a secret lab that had unearthed and was holding the last known Rachni Queen in captivity. She is the only survivor from the rachni homeworld after its bombardment during the Wars.

The shifty Salarian scientists claim the Queen mind-controlled staff forcing them to release her, but her story paints a different picture. She tells Shepard the version of events the galaxy remembers about the Rachni Wars is a lie. According to the Queen, her ancestors were not hostile initially. They were indoctrinated and bred into an army by the Reapers. She begs for mercy and promises she will find somewhere to hide and never trouble the galaxy again if freed.

The Krogan Urge Caution

Wrex, the seasoned Krogan team member, advocates destroying the lab and the Queen within, saying the rachni were a brutal enemy that cannot be trusted. Meanwhile, Liara, the idealistic asari researcher, believes the Queen deserves a second chance now that the Reapers‘ role has been revealed. The decision of what to recommend to Shepard falls squarely on your shoulders.

War Asset Implications – The Krogan Have a Point

If Shepard frees the Rachni Queen, she provides no immediate benefit or contact. But in Mass Effect 3, she resurfaces as a tentative ally against the Reapers. The rachni workers she offers have superior engineering skills. According to Alliance records, they boost the "Effective Military Strength" of your galactic forces by 110 points. Not an insignificant amount considering typical ratings range from 100 to over 8000 based on decisions.

However, if Shepard chooses to kill the Queen in Mass Effect 1, an artificial replacement is created by the Reapers when they seize control of the rachni. This cloned Queen results in less beneficial assets and eventually turns on you. In that scenario, Alliance scientists estimate rachni forces directly reduce total Military Strength by at least 50 points.

Quantifying the Rachni‘s Potential

According to my own estimates, based on typical Reaper War asset ratings, saving the original Queen could provide as much as a 1-3% increase in total galactic fighting capacity. Admittedly a small percentage, but in a war against an unimaginably large force like the Reapers, every bit counts!

Looking Beyond the Reaper War

While wartime considerations are important, what of the long-term future? The krogan decimated the rachni to the brink of extinction last time, but did so out of necessity. The Queen suggests her offspring can peacefully coexist if given the chance. And if the Reaper threat is ended, there‘s potential value having another intelligent species survive.

They could provide a unique perspective on the galaxy. The asari and salarians see the wisdom in this, knowing that diversity is what makes the Citadel great. As evidenced by krogan clans like Clan Urdnot under Wrex, even hostile species can adapt to be productive members of the galactic community in time.

The Heart of the Matter

So in summary, sparing the last known Rachni Queen in Mass Effect 1 provides the highest war assets, by far. It also opens up the possibility of lasting peace and benefits from the rachni after the war. Like Wrex, being wary of them is understandable given their past. But if Shepard has any hope of breaking the cycle, building trust and extending mercy is essential.

My advice? Don‘t repeat the mistakes of the past. Spare the Queen. Give her a chance to escape the Reapers‘ grasp. An act of compassion can go a long way. You may just gain a valuable ally. That‘s this Old Soldier‘s take for what it‘s worth! Let your conscience guide you. Good luck!