This is the re-write of the first chapter so there will be plenty of similarities with the first version but there are some changes I made. You could skip this one since the changes are a bit minor.
3rd Month – 13th Day – 2448 Galactic Standard Year (GSY)
[Uncharted Space] – Nostrea Expanse
It's been nine weeks since they've left the tribulations of known space, for nine weeks they've endured the long journey that took them beyond the frontier, and for nine weeks they've endured the sudden loneliness they experienced in this empty void.
Their mission is to find a safe haven for which their people can finally live in peace, and away from the rest of the galaxy that had shunned them since their exile from their homeworld. But the journey is beginning to take its toll upon inhabitants of the Fleet.
Quarian Cruiser Teraana
Tala'Reem watched the blue shit tunnel through the bridge's main screen, above the flight control station at front, as she sat on the command seat. A hologram projector is set on a pedestal before which is currently projecting a small projection of the ship along with various texts and numbers of information at the sides. Standing beside it is Cmdr. Kael'Mar, the executive officer of the Teraana, watching the readings on a holo-screen.
I hope this is all worth it. Tala solemnly thought as she continued watching the blue shift tunnel on the main screen.
"Captain, we're about to drop out of FTL in less than one minute." The navigator at the flight control station reported. Tala nodded at the announcement and gestured at Kael who nodded back. He then activated the ship's intercom before speaking.
"Attention, all crew… We're about to drop out of FTL… Prepare for deceleration." He then closed intercom and grabbed the handle bars beside at the pedestal in preparation for FTL deceleration.
"Dropping us out of FTL." The pilot announced. He began the deceleration procedure while calling out commands. "Re-directing thrust vectors… Reversing drive core polarity…"
The ship's superstructure began to shudder a bit as the blue shift tunnel slowly ceased and reveal a yellow star at far distance. The ship then stopped shuddering as they finished dropping out of FTL. Around them, tens of thousands of ships of the Migrant Fleet dropped out of FTL with weak white flashes of Cherenkov radiation.
"FTL drop complete." The pilot announced.
"Engineering, what's the status of the ship?" Tala called out to the engineering station.
"Fuel capacity is down to 30 percent, Captain." One of the two quarians at the engineering station reported. "The drive core has 74 percent saturation charge. We're going to need to discharge the core soon before leaving the system."
"Heat sinks reaching 70% capacity… Extending radiator panels…" The other quarian reported as he inputted commands into the holo-interface. Muffled whirring can then be heard as the holo-projector showed six large panels extending from the ship's hull, three at the top and three at the bottom. A loud thud then reverberated as the clamps locked the panels in place. "
"Send out the condition reports to Admiral Raan." Tala said to Mari'Kara, the communications officer, who then nodded and performed the task.
"Message is sent, Captain." Mari reported as she finished sending the report. She then looked into the other messages displayed on her holo-screen. "The other ships are reporting similar conditions."
"It looks like we're going to stop here for at least a day, Captain." Kael told Tala as checked the telemetry readings, passed by the sensors station, at one of the side consoles of the holo-pedestal. "The system has two gas giants we can use."
Tala nodded as she replied. "I agree and the admirals likely already saw them. We will soon be getting new orders from Admiral Raan."
Beautiful auroras blanketed a large part of the skyline of a large moon, orbiting a gas giant beyond, as ribbons of rainbow lights surrounded the thousands of ships that are discharging their drive cores. At a far distance, the rest of the Migrant Fleet assembled around the massive forms of the three Liveships.
A large number of Quarians, each representing a ship to the Conclave, had gathered at the Assembly Hall to discuss the next course for the Migrant Fleet. Heated debates are already being thrown across the hall as various representatives voiced sides.
"This expedition is taking too long and we haven't find a single planet for this endeavor." One of the representatives said. "This is pointless."
"We still haven't gone far enough." Another retorted. "We all knew the risk before we started this expedition. Nine weeks are nothing compared to 300 years of wandering across known space."
"In addition, we've prepared the Migrant Fleet for the long run. The new factory ships and industrial ships are suffice to support the fleet in this." One of the representatives supported. "Even now, our ships are already re-stocking on fuel from the gas giant."
There are murmurs of agreement among the others and outnumbering the opposition until another one voiced her side.
"At least in Citadel space, we won't be alone and have someone to trade with." She sighed before continuing. "I know we're also on the run but I don't think we can last this long… Alone in wild of unknown space."
"We don't have a choice, Sheerah." One of the representatives near her replied. "By opening those relays, we are now criminals under Citadel law and our people would be prosecuted if we return."
"We wouldn't have to be here if the Council didn't prevent us to colonize that world we've found at the Par'Kesh system at the Traverse." One grumbled as he crossed his arms.
The Admiralty Board, presiding on an elevated platform, watched over the assembled members of the Conclave as they debate upon the new course of the Migrant Fleet.
"This is going nowhere." Admiral Zaal'Koris said and shook his head. "At this rate, we're more likely to move around in circles."
"I told you this is a bad idea, Koris." Admiral Han'Gerrel chided. "We should have devoted our efforts into liberating the homeworld."
Years before their self-imposed exile from known space, the Migrant Fleet suffered a significant blow when a determined raider force attacked them during an asteroid mining operation in the Terminus Systems. They are able to fend off and destroy most of the raiders, but at a terrible price. The Migrant Fleet lost several ships in the process along with thousands of Quarians living aboard them, and shattered their belief to the security of the Fleet.
In the aftermath of the attack, they tried searching for a planet they could settle but most colonies rejected and even received hostilities from some. And when they found an unclaimed world they called Par'Kesh, the Citadel Council got wind of it and told them it is territory of the Citadel. The Council threatened to evict them by force if they don't leave, and the Quarians are forced to leave.
The expedition they are currently embarking is a brainchild of Admiral Koris which had garnered a lot of support from the Conclave ever since the raider attack and the Citadel eviction. His plan consisted of refurbishing the Fleet that will allow it to sustain itself. This involves specialist ships like industrial ships that can refine and manufacture parts required by the Fleet, mining and refinery ships to provide resources and fuel, and additional agricultural ships that will support food production.
"Stop it, you two." Admiral Shala'Raan scolded them both. "That is not helping our situation."
"I still think this is a bad idea and wasteful." Gerrel defended himself. "We could have spent more years preparing the Fleet for the liberation."
The plan took years to complete by buying ships from various systems required, and refurbishing some ships to fit their new roles. Admiral Han'Gerrel proposed that the new "Production Fleet" is to be used to prepare the Migrant Fleet to fight the Geth and take back Rannoch. Suffice to say, his proposal didn't get much support due to the risk involve.
"And risk the extinction of our race by doing so?" Koris told him. "No one knows what to expect behind the Veil, we could be facing more and powerful ships that the Geth had amassed this 300 years."
"Aside from that." Shala'Raan interjected before Gerrel said anything else to stoke the flames. "We would also risk provoking the Council if we had gone with your plan, Gerrel." Han looked a little skeptical behind his face plate. "If the Council found out… And they will… They would take our build up as a sign of aggression and even more so if they learned that it will be used against the Geth. They will do everything to stop us, even declaring war upon us. They have no sympathy for our tribulations. They are only concerned in maintaining the status quo."
Admiral Gerrel sighed in defeat before shaking his head. He then looked to his right to face Admiral Rael'Zorah who had been silent since the start of the session along with Admiral Daro'Xen.
"What do you think, Rael?" He asked his friend. Rael'Zorah looked a little startled as he was disturbed from his thoughts. He then looked back at Gerrel who then asked him again. "What do think of this expedition we are in?"
Admiral Rael'Zorah remained silent for a moment as he collected his thoughts. He then sighed before replying.
"It is a necessity." He then looked around the Hall and watched the members of the Conclave as they debated. "I promised to build my wife and my daughter a home on Rannoch. But even I have to accept that we can't risk the lives of those living aboard the ships to take back Rannoch considering our condition that time. We will be doomed if we fight the Geth and the survivors will be doomed and prosecuted by the Council if we failed." He paused as he took a breath. "At least with this expedition, we could be doomed but we have better odds at finding somewhere to settle than winning a war."
"And besides, we can never go back or we are surely going to be prosecuted by opening those two relays we used to get before leaving the furthest cluster." Shala'Raan finished it for him. "We have to keep going, for the sake of the younger generation."
Han'Gerrel nodded and accepted he won't be getting much support at this time. He also accepted that they can't return now after going this far. He continued watching Conclave proceed with the discussion.
The discussion took nearly two hours before a decision is made. The Migrant Fleet are to stay in the system they are currently in, and proceed to prepare the ships for the next extended FTL travel. Preventive maintenance and repairs are already underway, and mining operations proceeded to gather fusion fuel and minerals needed to restock their reserves. Finally, part of the Patrol Fleet are given a mission to scout the surrounding systems.
That is why Captain Tala'Reem is currently riding down the elevator to reach the engineering deck in order to speak with the ship's chief engineer. She then heard a chime before she then heard the mild sounds of machinery as the door slid open. She exited the elevator and walked into the cavern-like room of engineering.
She can hear the sounds of various machineries as they hum and whirr. She greeted the engineering crew she passed by until she reached the quarian working on a console by a viewport with the glowing drive core behind it. The quarian noticed her approach and turned around to greet her.
"Ah, captain. Good evening. How may I help you?"
"Good evening, Karo." She greeted back. "How's the ship?"
"All systems are at optimal conditions. The heat panels are working like a charm for emptying the heat sinks." Karo'Hael, chief engineer of the Teraana, started. "The drive core is already discharged while you were away for the Conclave. We're still good on fuel for travel across several systems."
"Excellent, we don't have to go that far anyway but I'll contact the Production Fleet for a refuel request just in case. The Admiralty had assigned us for a scouting mission at a system around fourteen light-years from here." She told him. "Hopefully we can find a suitable planet to settle on."
"Hopefully." Karo nodded. "This expedition is taking a toll on the people on the Doreen. They're scared what we will find out here… Or rather what we will not find."
Tala sighed. "I know. But it's not like we have much of a choice now." She then looked around the engineering room. "Well… Have a good night, Karo. We will depart by oh-eight hundred."
"Good night, Captain." Karo replied. Tala then headed back to the elevator. He then turned back to his console to check the other systems.
Tala'Reem collapses into her bed on her back, and groans as she stretches out a bit. She then sighs in relief and relaxes on her bed. Around her bed are thick curtains which formed pretty much the boundary of her "room", what passes for a room in the ships of the Migrant Fleet.
She can hear the soft murmurs which are muffled by the thick curtains, and the soft sounds that the ship made that she had been accustomed to. The curtains provide her enough privacy they can afford her. Beside her bed at the left is a small locker that also serves as her side table where her few personal belongings are placed.
As a youngling, she had dreamed of travelling unknown space of the galaxy and finding strange worlds hidden beyond unknown stars. She dreamed of making first contact with new civilizations beyond the realms of the Citadel, going on adventures, and gaining allies for the Fleet.
She'd never expected to be really travelling through uncharted space, and to be this stressful. She sighs in exhaustion and then thought about the events that had gone by since they've left the fringes of known space. She activates her omni-tool, projected around her right forearm, and sets her alarm before turning the omni-tool off. She then closes her eyes and allows the ship's sounds to lull her to sleep.
Admiral Rael'Zorah can't wait to see her daughter as he walk down the hallway. He greeted many of the ship's crew along the way. He then took the right corridor as he reached a cross intersection. He soon reached one of the Rayya's care center and then stopped by the large window where a few other Quarians are looking into. The care center served to provide space for the quarian children born on the ship where they can live and grow without an enviro-suit. It is also where they are educated and prepared for the future.
The large window gives him a view into the open space which serves as a playground for the children. He looks around and watches the young quarians running around or playing with toys while wearing various clothing in different colors.
The overhead light fixtures show the beauty of their people with the fair gray skins and black hair of varying lengths that are usually hidden behind the enviro-suits that served as their image to the rest of the galaxy. In the history of the fleet, no outsiders had been allowed to see or reach the care centers in order to protect the next generation of Quarians.
He then found her daughter, Tali, playing a game with three other girls. Tali looked so happy as shown by the smile on her face. She skipped about the marked tiles and then jumped triumphantly upon reaching the end. She then looked at his direction and quickly recognized him through the design of his enviro-suit. She waved with a smile which he waved back. He then nodded at her which Tali quickly understood and returned playing with her friends.
"Checking on our little one are we, Rael?"
He quickly recognized that voice to which he smiled behind his mask. He turned around to see his wife, Tia'Zorah, in a purple suit with diagonal stripes of blue. She had one hand on her hips while looking at him with some amusement, judging by her gestured with her head. He pictured her beautiful face behind the mask in his mind. They then hugged each other for a moment before they both looked through the window to watch their daughter.
"How was the meeting with the Conclave?" Tia asked him. He knew she likely heard a lot about what transpired during the Conclave session earlier, and have her own thoughts that they're likely going to discuss later.
"Same as the previous meeting." Rael started as they watched Tali now playing with some toys. "Many still supported and optimistic about the Fleet's current course." He paused as he thought what else to say while they're still in public. "There are still those grumbling about venturing too far from known space."
Tia giggled softly at that and lightly shook her head. She found the notions of those "grumblers" a bit funny considering many of them were supporters of Koris' plan when it was still being conceived.
"I don't see why they need to worry considering we've already prepared for this." Tia replied and looked at bit more solemnly. "We can't do anything about it now. And out here, we have a better chance of giving our people and our little Tali a better future."
"I promised that I would build you two a home on Rannoch, and I still do."
"Hush, dear. You should know that it isn't what's important to us." Tia told him. "We can still build a new home out there. And besides, once we found a planet to live on…" She paused and haughtily clung to his arm. "We could give Tali a sister or a brother."
Rael blushed behind mask and felt his blooding rushing to face. He looked around and saw the other parents and guardians chuckling a bit before looking away.
"Tia!" Rael stuttered to which his wife giggled.
"Oh. I'm just teasing!" Tia quickly told him. "C'mon, let's go meet Tali inside. I'm sure she have a lot to share with us."
Rael smiled at that and looked forward spending time with Tia and Tali as a family. "I wouldn't miss it for anything."
The Next Day
The bridge is a hive of activity as various members of the bridge crew prepare for the upcoming mission given to them by the Admiralty Board. Overseeing the bridge preparation is Cmdr. Kael'Mar as he walked to different bridge stations to check on their developments.
"Drive Core and engines are at optimal conditions, commander. We have enough fuel for ten days including the extended fuel tanks." Feena, one of the operators at engineering, reported to him. "We are ready to go anytime." She then turned to her partner, Talo, who nodded and gave his report.
"Same here, Commander. Life support systems are operating at full capacity, and the heat sinks only have an average of 3% heat level. We also have re-stocked on liquid coolants for the droplet systems."
Kael nodded as he replied. "Good work. This should make our trip less worrying. Send Chief Hael my compliments."
"Will do, Commander." Talo replied. Feena and Talo then returned to monitoring the readings on their holo-screens.
Kael then headed for the tactical station where Lieutenant Devor'Tanar, tactical officer and chief of security, is located. Kael saw him working on his console as he approached. Devor noticed Kael's approach and stopped what he was doing to greet him.
"Good morning, Commander. What can I help you with?"
"How are defensive systems, Devor?" Kael asked. Devor nodded as he typed in some commands into his console to get the relative information.
"The operational systems of the cannons are fully functional, and the targeting systems are recalibrated. The GARDIAN systems are fully operational and recalibrated as well." Devor first stated as he read the files on the holo-screen. "We still have a full complement disruptor torpedoes, and conventional anti-ship once we ran out of the former."
Kael nodded as he Devor continued.
"We've done some work on the kinetic barrier emitters and the shield capacitors. This increased our shield capacity by twenty percent."
"Excellent work. These should be useful in the long run." Kael remarked. And hope we don't need them soon. He mentally said to himself.
"Thank you, Commander." Devor bowed his head a little.
Kael heard the bridge door slid open to his right. He saw Tala and their navigator, Deeras'Talra, entering the bridge through the starboard door.
"Good morning, Captain…. Chief Talra…" Kael greeted them both. "How's the meeting with the council?"
"Nothing much to be concerned of." Tala then shrugged. "We mostly talked about the allocation of provisions in preparation of the trip. We also talked about our preliminary destination with Deeras here and Karo." She then looked at the navigator who then took out his datapad. He then inputted some commands on the screen as he spoke.
"As our first destination, we chose a system around 11 light-years from our position and it is near the galactic plane." Deeras then passed the datapad to Kael he accepted. On the screen, it showed the star system they are currently in, and a long line connecting it towards a star system above the galactic plane. From there, he saw broken lines leading towards a dozen star systems. "This should get us another system away from Citadel space. From there, it would be standard telemetry and planetary scouting missions."
Kael thought it was pretty much standard from what they've been doing since leaving the seventh system from the cluster they used as a jump point. He then handed back the datapad to Deeras.
"It looks good, Deeras." Kael said to him before turning Tala as he placed his hands behind his back. "All ships systems are operational, Captain. We're ready for departure."
"Good to hear." Tala said and then turned to the navigator. "Get to your post, Deeras. Get flight control ready for departure."
"Yes, Captain." Deeras replied crisply. He quickly headed to his station at flight control and proceeded to work.
"Let's get to our posts, Commander." Tala said to Kael before heading for the command chair. Kael followed up and took his post by the holo-pdedestal. Tala then activated the ship intercom and spoke. "This is the captain speaking… All crew prepare for departure and secure all stations. That is all."
Tala turned off the intercom as she straightened herself on the command chair. She then called out to the flight control station.
"Ades, take us out." She said to the pilot sitting at another console beside Deeras' station. "Ahead
"Taking us out of the Fleet…" Ades, the pilot, said aloud as he slowly took the cruiser away from fleet. "Setting our course vector… Initiating FTL…"
The drive core of the Teraana hummed loudly as ship adjusted its vector and pointing it towards its destination. Its engines then glowed blindingly bright and the Teraana disappeared as it streaked forward beyond the speed of light.
Well glad to get this done. As I've stated at the beginning, many of this is a re-write of the first chapter and a large number of similarities. I've changed the flow of the plot since I've gotten overboard with the previous version and had strayed too far. Now as I promised in the last chapter at the previous version, human contact will be in at best two chapters after that. Also the Vaharin is a bit of a clue about the tech level of humans.
Well on to next chapter.