This may be something I never understood, or maybe I'm just forgetting a plot point from the first game, but why did Saren care about stealing the Beacon at the beginning of Mass Effect 1? We later learn that the Beacons were warnings from the Protheans about the coming of the Reapers, but of course Saren already knew about the Reapers. In a big way.

Was he just trying to deny the Council races the warning, so they couldn't prepare? Or was there another purpose to the Beacon? He describes Eden Prime as a "major victory," and Benezia adds that it brings them "one step closer to the return of the Reapers." That's an odd claim if the only thing they accomplished was to destroy a message in a bottle, especially since Shepard had already accessed the beacon by then. If their goal was to destroy the information, that seems like a pretty clear defeat to me.

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    As a side note, they may be referring also to the defeat of Nihlus on Eden Prime as at least part of the "Major Victory".
    – PeterL
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:15
  • Good point, I didn't think of that. Although killing a single Spectre would also be sort of strange to describe as bringing you a "step closer to the return of the Reapers." I suppose it's technically true, but unless Nihlus was more important than I remembered, it seems sort of like saying that killing a single Navy SEAL brings you "one step closer to destroying America."
    – Nerrolken
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:19
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    I don't get the impression there are so many Spectres, and it appears each Spectre has something of a reputation as a one-man army out to save the galaxy. Nihlus was reportedly like this, certainly, and Saren was his mentor so Saren would have been well aware of it. Additionally, the wiki implies that Saren may have been able to evade Shepard because he had access to Nihlus' files after his death, but I don't believe Saren would have seen Shepard as such a threat that early on.
    – PeterL
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:28
  • I should add, I don't think Nihlus was the whole or even largest reason for Saren's presence and claim of victory on Eden Prime, I just think maybe it contributes
    – PeterL
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


Good question. Remember the Beacon had one other purpose, it was flashing arrow pointing at Ilos. So yeah, potentially sabotaging the beacon was not a bad piece of work, but hard to understand as a victory.

Saren's goal is to get Sovereign to the Citadel, to open the Citadel for the Reapers. Apparently, he thinks showing up at their doorstep with a geth fleet won't work. He needs a back door, and I thought Tali's recording shows that he needs the Conduit. The beacon shows Ilos, but does it show the Conduit, or what it can do? I didn't think so, but how did Saren know, then?

I think the relevant facts are these:

1) Saren has an intact beacon on Virmire, so he shouldn't have needed the info from the one on Eden Prime. 2) He seeks the Thorian's knowledge about the Protheans, presumably to understand the beacon. 3) He's looking for the Mu relay; that is, he knows he needs to go to Ilos.

So how did Saren know that the Thorian could help him understand the beacon? What did he even need that for, if he already knew he needed to go to Ilos?

So I'm inclined to think this is something of a plot hole; that the writers thought about how this information would unfold to Shepard, but not about how and why Saren would lead her such a path to follow.


The beacon supposedly contained Prothean information on how to stop the Reapers. The beacons eventually led to Ilos, which contained the gate where the Reaper controlled Geth entered the Citadel.

The only Reaper who had reached our galaxy at this point was Sovereign, who was controlling the Geth in order to attack the Citadel and the Council.

The Geth could potentially be stopped if the gate on Ilos was destroyed. Sovereign, knowing this, sent Saren to destroy the beacons. If the beacons were destroyed, then there would be no possible way in thwarting Sovereign's attack on the Citadel.

Why did Saren agree to do this? He believed that servitude to the Reapers was the only way to spare our galaxy. Little did he know, that he was already becoming indoctrinated by Sovereign.

Remember, the first game only contained one Reaper. One Reaper can be stopped with the right amount of force, which is why they wanted to surprise attack and deal a major damage to all alien races with the destruction of the Council and the Citadel.

  • Sovereign never was in the Solar System. The Citadel is located in the Serpent Nebula quite some distance away from the Local Cluster, Sol or Earth for that matter. It's also not the Alliance Headquater but the central headquater for the Citadel Council and thus for all races which are part of Citadel Space. At this point Mankind was a relatively new addition and not yet as powerful nor as important as in Mass Effect 2 and 3 when Humans had become members of the council. Dec 19, 2013 at 15:31
  • Perhaps I should've said galaxy. Wrong wording on my part. Also, good catch on the Alliance mistake. Will Edit. Regards. Dec 19, 2013 at 15:35

During the last days of the Prothean Empire, they sent a warning about the Reapers to all of the empire for future races to find. Embedded in the warning was the location of the 'Conduit': the back door to the Citadel. Unfortunately, the information became fragmented over the 50,000 years, and the information on the beacon on Eden Prime was damaged. Gaining that bit of the information brought them 'one step closer to finding the Conduit'. The second beacon on Virmire filled in the missing gaps, or vice-versa. The Cypher from the Thorian was needed to understand it all, and then the Rachni Queen was needed for the new location of the Mu Relay.

Sovereign didn't want the Conduit destroyed, it just wanted Saren to use it to sneak into the Citadel without interference and override the old Prothean tampering that was stopping it from controlling the Citadel. To help, Sovereign used the Geth to create a distraction. Otherwise Sovereign would have had to have fought the whole Council fleet to get to the Citadel. Then Saren would have had to fight his way from the docks all the way to the Spire. If he'd died along the way the whole attack would have been for nothing and alerted the Council to the existence of the Reapers.

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