Chapter 1. FUBAR
2125 CE (Citadel Era), Orbit around Parnack, CSS N'vas Thelo
"This is too risky," the turian voice flanged in the command module of the survey ship, drawing the attention of those around him in the process as they wondered why the person in charge of their security detail was growing more frustrated with each word. "I'm responsible for your safety Ambassador T'Laá and I can't guarantee that you'll be safe down there. I don't have enough men to protect you from a race that is on the verge of space flight. Especially one like them."
"I appreciate your concern Lieutenant Aventius," the asari replied in her much smoother voice, the stark contrast in their behaviour more than evident,"but you have to have a little faith in these creatures."
The image of the tall, eight-eyed creature came up on the monitor. Its mouth was split into three parts and lined with dozens of razor sharp teeth. The reddish skin around its face looked like it could stop small-calibre rounds and the muscles leading up to his neck suggested that it was far stronger than the turian himself. A short study period had revealed that the jungle world below them was still split among dozens of nations and if the few broadcasts they had picked up were any indication, most of them were hostile to their neighbours or anything they considered foreign. While they hadn't found any signs that would suggest an ongoing conflict on the world, one of the factors that would forbid the survey vessel to establish contact, he had seen the scans of the nation they intended to contact.
One did not maintain this many weapons if he trusted his neighbours not to attack him.
None of these facts inspired confidence in the lieutenant. He hard served on the frontlines of the continued fight against slavers and pirates for years and he had been there to put down separatists in the Hierarchy's outer colonies time and again yet for the first time in his twenty years of service, he did not believe that his unit was up for the task, a rare occasion for any turian officer. He knew that the ambassador had been ordered to find a new race to bring into the fold some time ago and that the political pressure of those who had put her in charge of this mission was increasing with every day she failed to deliver results but he had never expected her to become this reckless. It wasn't just his unit that was at stake here.
"I am certain that we will be able to talk with them on a civilized level. After all, they are reasonably enlightened," the asari argued, doing her best to sound condescending. "Otherwise they never would've reached this point of technological development. Cooperation and peace are necessary for a race to reach for the stars."
That was simply not true.
"Forgive me of not trusting creatures that could probably tear me and anyone on this ship into pieces," he placed his hands on his face, covering parts of the green facial marks that decorated his reddish-brown plates."First contacts are dangerous as things are but this? This is beyond irresponsible. I'm sorry Ambassador but I can't allow this."
"Lieutenant, you are my security advisor, not my superior," the asari countered in a tone unusually coarse for a diplomat, something that drew the attention of most people in the command module. "I value your input but this is my decision, not yours," she started to walk away, leaving Aventius behind her. "Prepare a ground team. Don't bring any heavy ordnance. I'll establish contact in an hour and land in the morning." The door shut behind her and Aventius clenched his teeth, well aware of the people looking at him.
"Spirits, what did I do to deserve this post?" he whispered angrily as he too headed for the elevator, taking care to appear unaffected in the process. There was no need to worry the crew, even if more than enough of them had already witnessed the disagreement between their supposed leader and him. He had told the ambassador that their undertaking was dangerous and she had very openly told him that she didn't care about his opinion, granted she had phrased it far nicer than that, but the crew wasn't stupid. They had to have picked up on it.
"Why do asari always have to be like this?" he wondered as he hit the button that brought him to the crew deck. After a short while, much quicker than on the Citadel, the elevator doors opened and he moved to the side to allow those inside to leave before entering the cabin, a basic act of politeness he rarely saw anywhere these days. He stepped inside and just as the doors were about to close, he heard quick footsteps close in on him to the right, causing him to extend his arm to keep the elevator from closing. Shortly afterwards a purple figure turned around the corner, looking slightly winded but visibly grateful. The asari crew member entered the cabin and let out a long breath.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," she smiled as she leaned against the railing within the elevator.
"Where do you have to go?" he asked as one of his fingers hovered over the display."
As their destinations appeared to be the same, he gave a quick nod before the doors once more began to close, this time not being interrupted by him. He was ready to enjoy the trip in the silence that had begun to settle when his earlier worries were confirmed.
"You really think it's dangerous?" he heard from behind him a few moments later just as the digital numbers began to indicate their descend. He now realised that he shouldn't have interrupted the doors. This was a conversation he'd rather not have.
"These things always are," Aventius deflected. "That's why I'm here."
"It sounded like you were more than just worried," the purple alien replied in a serious voice. "Beyond irresponsible," she quoted him as he made a note never to be this vocal about his concerns in front of that many subordinates ever again. Not working with turians had made him loose, he realised that now. Now he needed to conduct damage control.
"It's true, I am worried. The creatures we're about to contact seem very dangerous,"he began, deciding to lift the asari's morale. "But my men will do the best to ensure the safety of anyone aboard this vessel. It's our duty after all. Rest assured, we won't allow any creature, no matter how intimidating or how advanced it might be, to harm the Council or those that serve it."
A quick nod from the crew member told him that he had achieved his intent and mercifully the elevator doors opened shortly afterwards, leaving the asari's mind at ease and more importantly the chance of her spreading her worry among the crew reduced. He waited for her to be on her way and turned right towards the barracks of the turian security platoon stationed on the first contact vessel. His footsteps echoed through the still empty white hallways of the vessel as its night rotation was about to start, meaning that most of the well over two hundred souls aboard would soon pour into the area to rest. He came to a halt in front of the biggest room of the crew deck and opened the door. As he walked in one of his Sergeants, Bassus, a tall turian with blue facial markings on top of his otherwise black plates, stood up.
"Attention on deck!" the entirety of thirty turians rose in unity and snapped to attention, dropping everything they had been doing in an instant.
"At ease," Aventius declared and the soldiers did as they were ordered. The officer turned towards Bassus, his second in command, and began to talk. "I couldn't convince the ambassador, we're landing tomorrow."
"She's really lost it then," the sergeant sighed as he waved the other three NCOs in the room towards them, his intentions clear. They needed to prepare if they wanted to even stand a chance at protecting the crew of the N'vas Thelo.
"We're going in then," the silver plated turian with red facial marks, Paetus, muttered as he was the first to join their improvised briefing.
"About time we get something to do," a bigger turian said upon his own arrival. One could really see why Serranus was the one in charge of the heavy weapons aboard the N'vas Thelo.
"I for one enjoyed the downtime," the last sergeant argued. Castus had always been on the relaxed side, for a turian at least.
"Alright, the bad news first," Aventius began, "Ambasssador T'Laá has given us some severe restrictions in an attempt to ensure peaceful contact. Light weapons only, so your heavy weapons squad is grounded, sorry Serranus." the disappointment on the sergeant's face was evident as his grey mandible dropped. "As for the rest of you, we'll be providing security for the asari envoy with Phaestons and Mantis rifles. Bassus I want you to pack demolition charges. It might hurt her 'no heavy ordnance rule' but T'Laá doesn't have to know. The packs are small and she probably doesn't even know what they look like. Take as many as you can carry, hopefully we wont need them."
A quick nod from his second in command was all he needed to go on, his golden eyes turning to another of the four turians standing in front of him, coming to a halt on one of the patches attached to Paetus' grey uniform, it's stylized version of a turian eye representing the completion of one of the hardest specializations within the turian military.
"Paetus your team will be with us as well. I want your snipers to cover us from far back. Depending on our landing zone it might not be possible for your men to get the ideal distance between them and the targets so be prepared to adapt to that," the sniper simply grunted in agreement as the lieutenant addressed the final member of the platoon's leadership. "Castus you'll stay with the heavy weapons squad. If something goes bad you'll hit the distress signal and make sure that the N'vas Thelo doesn't fall into enemy hands," he finished as his squad leaders looked at him, the implications of his last statement clear to all of them. "Any questions or objections?"
There was a moment of silence, the weight of what may happen tomorrow resting on all of their shoulders. None spoke up even if they had good reason to do so.
"Good. I'll see you tomorrow morning in gear. Brief your men and get some rest," he ordered as the four turians snapped to attention, offering a sharp salute before beginning to head towards his own bunk. He needed to be well rested as well.
"The signal has been sent and they are receiving us Ambassador T'Laá," the young maiden at the control terminal said, the excitement in her voice causing a slight quiver. She understood her, it was a historic occurrence to be part of a first contact.
"Good. Run their reply to the translation matrix and open up a channel," T'Laá replied in a soothing voice. "The council has been waiting for new suitable clients for centuries," she straightened her clothes,"the time to deliver them has come."
"Yes, ambassador," the maiden replied as a noise informed her that the message was already translated, was their language really that simple?
"What did they say?" she asked as her head turned towards the maiden tasked with technical assistance during this event.
"It's merely a frequency to a communication channel to a location at the edge of their territory," the maiden replied. "Do you want me to dial in the frequency?"
"Yes. Can we get an unobstructed visual link as well?" she questioned and for good reason, not evey civilization of their level of development was capable of something as simple as an live optical feed without periods of delay.
"Yes, Ambassador T'Laá," her assistance confirmed much to her surprise as she hit a button on the terminal in front of her. The image of one of the creatures, yahg as they called themselves, appeared on screen, its eight eyes staring down at her in silence, the sharp set of teeth she knew they possessed hidden behind their strangely shaped mouth and his voice as she had expected absent. She knew that the alien waited for her to begin talking, most likely too awed to speak or too afraid to mutter wrong words.
"Greetings," T'Laá smiled to ease its mind."I am Ambassador T'Laá of the Citadel Council. I presume you are a leading politician of your people?" she took in the creature, which to her was visually displeasing. Of course centuries of being a diplomat had taught her not to let that show. She couldn't let superficial emotions endanger this meeting.
"I am Shehu, leader of the United Clans of Gure. The nation you established contact with," the creature's voice was deep and there was an unusal tone accompanying its every word, comparable yet completely different from the flanging accompanying a turian's speech, "as I have learned from your information package you are part of a council made up of several alien races, correct?"
"Yes, that is correct," she nodded before elaborating. "The Citadel Council aims to enable peace and cooperation in the entire galaxy and I stand ready to answer any question you may have about us or the races we share the galaxy with."
"You voiced the wish of meeting on the sacred grounds of our home world, correct?" the yahg simply asked, forgoing any questions into the galactic community just revealed to it. Maybe they simply liked to discuss these things in person. "I can arrange for that under certain conditions."
"That would be much appreciated. We will accept whatever conditions you ask of us. We are here to greet you as a possible ally to our Council and as such we will try to make this meeting as comfortable to you as possible," T'Laá replied, once more trying to ease the tension she suspected to be building up within the creature.
"I will send you a set of coordinates, you can bring your envoy and no more than ten guards. We will greet you in equal numbers on one of our airfields," the yahg ended the transmission with a surprisingly authoritarian tone.
"I did not expect that he would just cut the feed like that," the maiden noted with a curious voice.
"That was indeed very unusual. Has the set of coordinates arrived yet?" the elder asari asked with a calm voice, choosing not to address the worries of the technician for now. There were bigger concerns at the moment.
"Yes, they arrived the moment the words left his mouth. They seem to be a very organized people."
"Or simply more advanced than we thought they'd be."
"Message Lieutenant Aventius to meet me at once, there are several things we need to discuss," Ambassador T'Laá instructed, she knew that the turian was probably sleeping right about now but she needed him to be informed of his limitations. Knowing him and his kind, he'd love to descend on these creatures with a legion's worth of troops and an orbital force ready to bombard their cities into the ground. For all their contribution to the galaxy's peace, turians made sorry diplomats. But to their credit they were very much punctual. Not three minutes after she had called for him, the officer came marching through the door and she played him the log of the conversation that had just taken place without him.
"No," his voice flanged, the interrupted sleep presenting itself as annoyance in his tone. "Ten guards? You did catch the part where I said that one of those beasts could rip me in half, right?"
"They're not beasts, they're individuals like you and I," she corrected him. "Once more Lieutenant Aventius, this isn't a request, it's an order. You will not jeopardize this meeting by being too turian for your own good. I won't allow you to ruin our first impression by a failed attempt at intimidation," the asari warned him as the face of the reddish-brown alien shifted into an expression she hadn't expected to see. Apparently he wasn't as disciplined as he let others think.
"Too turian? You are being too reckless!" he countered angrily. "I have held this in for days due to respect for my assignment and the chain of command but I can no longer allow you to endanger everyone on board of this vessel and by extension everyone in Council space by just landing on a technologically developed world capable of reverse engineering our technology without any backup!" he very nearly snarled, his mandibles pressing themselves closer to his mouth.
"This is not your decision. Either you do as you are ordered or I will have you removed of your command," she said, stressing her threat with a special emphasis before once more switching into a very polite voice. "Will you do as you are instructed?"
A silence rested in the room and Aventius was evidently fighting with himself. If she had to take a guess the turian in him told him that he had to respect the chain of command but his anger and apparent tendency to insubordination were conflicting with that.
Then, after a few more minutes, he made a decision.
"As you wish, Ambassador T'Laá," he snapped to attention and headed for his room, leaving the asari victorious.
The Next Morning, Armory of the N'vas Thelo
After he looked at his platoon he turned to Sergeant Bassus. "Ten guards and I want you to command them. Pick the best eight turians of the platoon and brief them," he addressed the turian, his expression displaying his worry for only the fraction of a moment. Aventius turned to the thirty turians standing in neat rows in front of him and raised his voice.
"As for the rest of you. You will remain on the ship, ready to lift off or assist us at a moments notice. We might not like the terms of the mission ahead of us, we might not agree with it's purpose but we are turians. We do as we are ordered and we commit to our duty of protecting those who won't protect themselves," he stood a little taller at the sound of his own words. Not only his platoon needed to hear this. "I want a clean run. We all get to go home after this tour so let's earn this. For the Hierarchy."
"For the Hierarchy!" it echoed through the armory as his platoon snapped to attention. He returned turned the salute and the turians started last checks of their equipment just as Bassus began collecting his chosen.
Aventius ran the diagnostics on his armor as the green lights flashing on his omni-tool informed him that power was running through the suit exactly like it was supposed to. He lifted his Phaeston and checked the heat sink, finding it to be in perfect condition, and took a quick look at the Carnifex pistol on his hip, if it could kill a krogan, it would kill a yahg. Everything was in working order and by the book.
Unlike the meeting that was about to happen.
As the ship shook he realized that they had just entered the atmosphere of the planet and started to head for the hangar ramp. His soldiers following him to the stairway, the sound of a platoon of turians marching in step appearing like music to his ears. He set foot into the hanger the same moment the envoy, a salarian, the sole representative of his race on the vessel, Ambassador T'Laá and the turian official, left the elevator, only the member of his own race feeling the need to give him a respectful nod.
"Atmosphere breathable, pressure ideal," a synthetic voice announced what they already knew.
"Ready for this Sergeant?" he asked Bassus as he pulled his helmet over his face in spite of the announcement.
"Born ready, lead the way, Sir," the taller turian replied, his dark visor allowing Lieutenant Aventius to inspect his own reflection.
The ramp lowered itself and the warm air of the planet rushed into their faces. Parnack was, even by turian standards, hot. The area they landed in was an airfield on a military base. It made sense, the turians would've done the same thing had a race approached them before they ventured the stars but just because it made sense, didn't mean he liked it. There was no cover on the asphalted runway and without a doubt hundreds of potentially hostile soliders were waiting just out of sight, ready to attack them at a moments notice.
"Castus you got the ship," he declared before he became the first member of a council race to set foot on the planet, nine turians joining him without a moment of hesitation in their step, their rifles lowered just far enough not to seem threatening as they scanned the area.
"Good luck, Sir," the turian in the standardized grey suit of armor called from the edge of the ramp, his voice slightly altered by the piece of armor protecting his face.
The envoy followed shortly after the turian escort and just like he had instructed Castus. the ramp of the survey ship behind them was starting to close just far enough to disguise the movements of the heavy weapons squad. At the far side of the landing strip an equally large group of yahg, seeming even taller in person started to walk towards them, their uniforms lacking any visible protection against a mass accelerator. He raised his left hand and the steps of the turians seized at once, their neat line turning into a half circle as they began covering the three directions not obstructed by their ship.
Them the ambassador stepped in front of Aventius and started to walk towards the group, without his approval.
"Shehu,"she called towards the biggest member of the pack in front of us. "Thank you for welcoming us on your home," T'Laá bowed.
"At least they know their place," the deep voice of one of the yahg flanking the biggest one, Shehu, grunted as it pointed it's rifle at the asari, an action that caused him to lift his Phaeston a bit higher. Either they were too undisciplined to keep their guns away from things they didn't intend to shoot or their intentions were as hostile as he feared them to be.
"I don't like this," one of the turians selected by Bassus for the security detail muttered over their private squad channel. "What's that supposed to mean, 'know their place', who does this primitive think he is? I'd be so easy, just one squee-"
"Cut the chatter Drusus. Don't embarrasses me in front to the lieutenant by being your usual, repugnant self," Bassus barked through the channel. "He does have a point though, I don't like this either."
"It is simply a sign of respect to bow in my culture. I hope to greet you as equals of the galactic community," the asari smiled and offered a hand to the yahg. "In my culture equals shake hands upon meeting," she explained when the alien didn't react.
It took exactly a second too long for Aventius to realize what was happening. At first the yahg, Shehu if he recalled correctly, extended it's massive arm and grabbed the hand of the ambassador, everything seemed alright for the moment. The asari's smile grew brighter with each moment right until the yahg began squeezing. The asari screamed as the bones in her hands were crushed by the three fingers of the brownish alien, the force far too big for the comparably fragile ambassador to react. Aventius steadied his rifle just as the creature tore the arm of the asari out off its socket. She collapsed as her purple blood started to pour out off her wound and only stopped trying to crawl away when a foot clad in black leather pressed her into the ground. A last flare of biotic energy danced over her body in a desperate attempt to save herself before the yahg forced his foot down. Aventius rose to his feet and undid the safety of his rifle at the same moment he was informed of the fact that aircraft were closing in from the north and the west of their position. He was about to put an end to 'Shehu' when the salarian ambassador got into his line of fire in a desperate attempt to escape.
"Kill these pathetic creatures," the yahg leader declared as he threw the arm of Ambassador T'Laá away before grabbing a hold of the amphibian delegate. "They are not our equals. At best they are our dinner," he declared as he started to walk towards the turian guard, using the people he was supposed to protect as a shield.
"Fire at will!" Aventius shouted as his rounds tore through one of the yahg beside his target, staining it's black fatigues with red liquid. There was a moment of hesitation among the rest of the creatures before they threw themselves to the ground, retaliating with their crude, inaccurate weapons, most likely confused why their shots did little to no damage to the 'dinner' in front of them.
"Bassus, throw the charges, the ambassador is dead anyway. Everyone else fall back!" he ordered as he saw the turian ambassador fall, a Carnifex pistol falling to the ground as his body was tossed aside by one of the yahg, the large hole in its chest suggesting that at least one of their diplomats had gone out with a fight. "Castus, fire the distress beacon and prepare to leave. Lower the hangar ramp and cover our withdrawal!"
"With pleasure, Sir," it came through his helmet as he saw a large number of yahg pour from one of the buildings left of him, his Phaeston killing several of them as he ensured that Bassus could take care of the threat in front of them. The tall turian threw the charges into the 'political envoy' of the yahg and when he detonated them, a piece of 'Shehu' flew by the head of Aventius, a short sense of satisfaction cut down by a red flash inside his helmet. As more of the primitive rounds of the yahg weapons bounced of his barriers his armor informed him that they couldn't take much more punishment, having done a more than admirable job up to now.
"Move it!" he shouted as his unit withdrew in orderly fashion. There was truth in the saying that you only saw the back of a turian when they were dead. The unit walked backwards while keeping up suppressive fire at the every growing group of yahg, corpses falling to the ground in front of them as he tried to fill his heat sink as slow as possible through the use of short, controlled bursts. He felt something at the heel of his left foot and once he realised just what it was he stepped the ramp just as the survey ship started to take off. He saw the military base vanish in the distance as the ramp closed and just as he was about to sigh in relief, a single message ruined his day even further.
"I got fast movers closing in on us. Aerial superiority fighters by the looks of it," the pilot explained as explosions impacted the low-grade barriers of the diplomatic ship, their detonation causing the turians in the hangar to stumble.
"Get us as far away from here as possible," he declared as he got up, intending to walk back to his squad just as a missile managed to connect with the ship and the pilot confirmed what Aventius already felt.
"We're going down, everyone brace for impact!"
3. October 2383 AD, Uncharted System, HSASV Sun Tzu
"Alright care to tell me where the hell we are?" Captain Gates asked as he rose from his chair at the helm of the assault carrier. The black haired man looked at his crew as his brown eyes scanned the grey bridge of his vessel, confused faces looking back at him. They were supposed to use the mass relay network to redeploy to the Fringe Worlds in order to keep up the martial law placed on the region after the war, relieving the last naval formation that had guarded the area for the last eight months.
"Something went wrong, Sir," a junior officer finally spoke up," the core overheated and engaged a partial discharge A safety measure within the relay network itself threw us out of transit," the man explained as he kept looking at his console. "Engineering is saying we can still travel at FTL but the core will need fixing. Twelve hours, at least."
"Now that's just great," the captain muttered as he walked over to another officer."Alright get me the rest of the fleet. They are probably wondering why their assault carrier is missing."
"Sir, I'm picking up tons of chatter from the fourth world in orbit around the star!" the communications officer declared. "Definitely alien!"
"Say that again?" Gates ordered as he leaned over the terminal of the officer that had just drawn the attention of the entire bridge.
"I'm picking up alien signals, Sir."
"Run the scan again," Gates insisted. "The discharge of the core must've caused damage to our scanners."
"Same result, Sir," the officer informed him as she turned her head towards Gates. "Scanners are all green, no false readings."
"So first contact with an alien society happens because engineering fucked with my drive co-" he was about to laugh when the woman once more interrupted him.
"One signal is a magnitude stronger than the others. It also is translating itself into English," she added as she stared at the console. "Our VIs have it. It's a live transmission, Sir!"
"Bring it up," the captain ordered as he tried to stay calm in the face of a historic discovery and an overflow of information at the same time. If he could just blend out the pressure, everything would be fine.
The first thing he noticed was the flanging of the voice. "-nder attack. I repeat this is the CSS N'vas Thelo to anyone receiving. We are under attack by the natives of Parnack. Require immediate assistance, the envoy is dead an-" the voice was interrupted by an explosion "Spirits we're hit. Going down in hostile territory. If anyone is listening in on this. We need help! Someone put out that fire!" the transmission cut out as static overtook the flanging voice.
"Can we reply?" he asked as he felt his pulse climb.
"No sir, it's a one way transmission," the woman answered. "Some kind of distress beacon by the sound of it."
"Helmsman, full ahead to the source of that signal. Norstoga, inform command, call for reinforcements, tell the flotilla to turn around." Gates said as he straightened himself, trying not to think about the weight of the decision he had just made.
"Sir?" the blonde XO looked at him from across the bridge.
"You heard me. Get us down there, we can't just ignore that."
"Sir. this is a first contact scenario, should we really rush into this? We should wait for backup," Norstoga argued as he walked up to Gates. He had always been the less impulsive one of the two.
"You'd want someone to get you. We can't wait on this one, I'm taking full responsibility for it. Get me a line to Alenko," the man with three golden bars on the neck of his navy blue uniform ordered.
"Sir," the soft voice of Captain Alenko, the commanding officer of the marine detachment of the Sun Tzu, made itself known through the intercom.
"Your grunts are getting something to shoot at Captain. We're responding to an alien distress signal on the fourth, tropical planet of this system. Prepare for Planetfall."
"Yes sir," the officer lived up to his stoic reputation as he didn't even question what he had just heared.
Two Minutes Later, Armory of the Sun Tzu
The armory of an assault carrier was different from those of other human ships. Being designed during the Fringe Wars to project the force of the Human Systems Alliance across all of its worlds it was the only ship designated for sustained planetary invasion within the HSA Navy, as such it carried countless of weapons, vehicles and support gear through the darkness of space.
"Grab everything that you need, let's move it marines!" Gunnery Sergeant Sitko shouted. "We're going in blind so don't be shy. Grab as much ammunition as you can carry, we don't know how long we'll be down there," the NCO declared as Corporal Vega stored two more magazines for his SR-7, the modern bullpup service rifle of the HSA Marine Corps.
"Don't forget the mortars!" the voice of their commander, Captain Alenko, added.
"Never thought I'd live to see the day. First contact with aliens that aren't dead or stalked us from Mars," Corporal Emilio Vega chipped in as he grabbed additional magazines.
"Hear, hear," Holderman added as he chambered a round into his SIS-8 pistol and made sure the safety was still in place before stuffing it into the holster on his right leg.
While the infantry was busy preparing to hit the ground, the air detachment of the assault carrier was being armed with the bigger weapons stored in the armory. A large cargo robot stomped by the marines as it carried missiles to the flight deck. The VI of the yellow giant taking care not to step on any of the humans rushing to their assigned platoons and individual squads.
"Finally we are getting something to kill," Private Holderman went on as he tested the weight of his light machine gun in his arms. Why the man had been assigned to Vega's fireteam was beyond the corporal. "I've been itching to fire this thing on somewhere but target practice for seven months."
"You're bloody psychopath, you know that?" another marine observed as he stored several additional magazines for the squad weapon in his backpack.
"Hey, at least he's our psychopath," a marine putting on his helmet next to him argued. "So we know he won't be shooting us. That's something right?"
"Don't worry boys, I'm not after you," the private smiled.
"Just don't point that thing at me Holderman. Alright marines, let's kick some alien ass," Vega said as he made his way to the shuttle, two normal and one slightly deranged marine following him. He walked into the hangar and sat down inside the drop ship assigned to his squad, which the marines called them 'Combat Cockroach' their real name was UT-47 Kodiak. The engines started to whine and the corporal could see how the marines of the Sun Tzu began boarding more shuttles with their big guns, four Paladin Mechanized Support Combat Suits, being attached to specialized versions of the shuttle. The Paladin was important because it combined the maneuverability of infantry man with the durability of a tank and the fire power of heavy artillery. Steering it was only possible due to advancements in robotics, the progress in virtual intelligence research and the discovery of a mental connection Vega wasn't paid nearly enough to try and understand. Originally built to create a blend between mobility, adaptability and deadliness, the Paladin had found its way into the heart of the HSAMC due to being more suited for their rapid deployments than tanks like the Grizzly. They could be dropped right on their enemies.
"This is it marines. This is what we were trained for," the voice of Captain Alenko came to him through his radio. "Make me proud."
A series of cheers echoed through the hangar right until the doors of the Kodiak closed.
Five Minutes after the Crash, Surface of Parnack.
"Watch their flank!" Bassus ordered his squad to cover the heavy weapons team as the switched positions. Lieutenant Aventius moved through the hangar, primitive bullets bouncing of the damaged wall in front of him. The survey ship had crashed in the jungle outside the military encampment and parts of it's hull had been ripped open. While the ramp remained closed, they still had to defend several hull breaches. The lieutenant knew that they wouldn't survive long outside of the vessel so he had ordered his unit to let the aliens get close and force them to come through the holes in the hull, their size actually turning out to be a disadvantage in this case. The turian peaked around the burnt corner as his Phaeston spotted two yahg trying to move closer, the lack of cover between their position and the hole they were trying to reach causing their death at the hands of turian engineering.
"Flavius is gone, Sir," Serranus shouted just as the lieutenant spun back into cover, seeing a turian corpse to his right, the blue blood and shattered helmet telling him just how the man had died. "Setting up now."
"Understood," he roared as a turian next to him fired his Phaeston, "How's your breach holding Sergeant Paetus?" he asked the sniper turned close quarter specialist.
"Taking casualties but those nasty bastards are slowly blocking the hole with their corpses, Sir." the flanging voice sounded over the radio. "Kind of funny actually."
"If you can seal the breach, no matter how messy, do it," Aventius replied. They needed every advantage they could have. If it meant blocking paths with corpses, they'd do it.
They couldn't hold indefinitely. Eventually the tungsten blocks that fueled their rifles would be expended and switching while every turian soldier carried two reserves, exchanging the blocks took far longer than this rapid engagement would allow them. The lieutenant once more took aim as he saw a particularly big yahg with something in its hand dash towards the hull. He fired several rounds just as the creature leapt of its feet, extending its arm forward even as bullets tore through its head. If all of them were that fanatic, the turians didn't have much longer. He turned back into cover as a bullet storm descended on his position only picking up on the small thud next to him by pure chance. It dawned on him as he realised why the yahg would try something like that.
"Get away from the walls!" he shouted as he jumped over the crates behind him and made a dash for the elevators, only the heavy weapons team staying behind to cover the move. One of his soldiers tripped over a piece of metal and Aventius started to lift him to his feet, pulling him with him as he threw another glance at Serranus who had decided to sent the rest of his team back as well, now manning the heavy mass accelerator all by himself.
For the Hierarchy indeed.
The blasts of a satchel charges threw him across the room and he felt his body smash into another turian, getting up as soon as he could and once more pulling the soldier next to him up.
"Go to the armory!" he roared as the heavy weapon fell silent, a yahg in a black uniform standing next of it with a grey turian figure in his hand. They had used the blasts to advance but the alien didn't realise that the sergeant in his grasp wasn't quite done yet, its focus on Aventius. Serranus pulled something from his chest and mere moments later the yahg dropped him, the curved blade of a military talon embedded in one of its eyes. He threw the soldier in his arm towards the elevator and fired his Phaeston at the alien as he, against his own orders, advanced forward to the NCO. Dropping the yahg in front of him, he pulled out his Carnifex and began firing both the assault rifle and the pistol at the ever growing wave of enemies.
"You still have some fight in you?" he asked as Serranus rose to his feet once more, manning the heavy weapon."
"Bassus you're in charge, we'll slow them down!"
For a few moments, their plan was well on its way of being embedded in the records of their legion, enemies falling around them as they seemingly defied death, bullets shattering on their barriers or narrowly missing them. It was like a scene from an old movie really. Two heroes triumphing against impossible odds, their bravery allowing them to overcome everything thrown at them.
Then reality, in form of another satchel charge, caught up to them.
The explosion consumed Serranus as the NCO threw himself in front of his lieutenant and sent Aventius flying through the room, his head hitting the ground hard after a second of involuntary flight. He tried to raise himself from the floor as he heard Bassus shout something through his damaged helmet. He felt himself being dragged back to the elevator and a slight rotation of his head revealed the soldier he had previously saved behind him, blue flashes appearing as he fired his Phaeston at something coming close to them. Turning his head into the direction of the heavy weapon, he saw Serranus, badly injured still not dead, charge into a squad of aliens, a hand greande in each of his hands. He landed between them and was grabbed by the yahg closest to him, a horrible tearing noise sounding in between the bursts of Phaeston fire as the alien began pulling on the turian's head in an attempt to remove it, the hardsuit proving to be more resilient than expected. He didn't hear what the NCO muttered but whatever it had been, it caused the yahg to angrily snarl at him just as the two hand grenades detonated, engulfing Serranuns and the aliens around him in a cloud of fire, shrapnel and blood.
Being lifted to his feet, the lieutenant spotted something through one of the holes in the hull. They were done. There was no way they'd survive the next wave. There had to be hundreds, pouring out between the trees and bushes from an unknown source.
He knew what he had to do.
"We failed. Blow the co-" the turian interrupted himself as the pieces of the jungle he was able to see exploded into an inferno. "Belay that order."
One Minute to Planetfall, 3. October 2383 AD, Uncharted Planet
Cooper Wells always lived for the thrill. It had started by jumping down from high places as a kid and it eventually led him into the cockpit of a Paladin, the pinnacle of human weapon technology. As the Kodiak pilot informed him that it was now save to disengage the holding clamps, the man didn't hesitate a second as the humanoid suit of armor began to fall down, creating a small impact crater and a loud thud once it made contact with the surface, three similar events occurring behind him. They didn't hesitate a second before starting their work. The 30mm chaingun of his Paladin opened up as he tore into a group of the aliens that had opened fire on them, their rounds harmlessly bouncing of his shields. They were tall, bulky and ugly. He stepped on one of them and the leg of his Paladin turned red as it crushed the alien. Apparently they were also quite squishy.
"Sun Tzu, Paladins have made Planetfall, I'm transmitting imagery of the area now. Hunter-Lead over," he spoke as the somewhat muffled sound of his chaingun accompanied his every word.
"Copy that Hunter-Lead. Clear a landing site, over," the voice of the Sun Tzu'S XO replied. Hunter 1-3, having the honor of carrying a rocket battery, complied immediately and unleashed a barrage of missiles on the jungle street from which the aliens were coming in, the silhouette of a clearly alien spacecraft peaking out beyond the trees. The missiles flew high into the air before bursting apart, the small incendiary projectiles inside them raining down on the area in front of them, a thick cloud of black smoke appearing almost immediately. Moments after this devastating attack the Kodiaks appeared from above to drop of their smaller comrades behind them.
At his right side marines were starting to appear as they dashed towards the first pieces of cover they could find, putting their faith into the Paladins' ability to keep them save until they could start digging in. His HUD informed him that second platoon was moving straight for the ship while the third and forth platoon were securing the flanks of their landing zone. His Paladin stomped through the trees and after a few seconds and a few broken trees, he could see the reason they were here. The craft itself wasn't really big but as Wells noticed the amount of alien corpses spread around the spaceship, he knew that whoever was defending it was doing a hell of a job. His Paladin VI started to inform him that while the bullets wouldn't be able to penetrate his armor, their impacts would take their toll on the shields of the mechanized suit in the long run, weakening them for any weapons that may actually be able to damage him. He opted for preventing that and returned his attention to the enemy infantry pouring towards them from a jungle road near the downed craft, taking aim at the transport vehicles driving towards him.
"All ground forces be advised, large amount of enemy ground troops are closing in on the crash side. They aren't happy we're here," the voice of Alenko who was currently moving towards the ramp, informed Wells. "The flyboys are going to deliver a surprise for them, incoming. Over."
Of course 'incoming' was not as relevant if you were piloting a walking tank. The HUD informed Wells that all members of Hunter were in the clear and he continued to shoot as the cockpit dampened the sound of heavy ordnance being delivered not a hundred meters into the in front of him jungle. The shadows of fighter craft rushing past the ground actually predating their explosions.
"Good hit confirmed. We're back to air superiority. Over," the pilots voice declared as the nimble Hornet fighters that had just deployed their load banked east and away from the crash site."
Corporal Vega shot one of the aliens and exchanged his magazine as his fire team pushed in on the hangar. The absolute carnage of the battle that had taken place here was something he tried to ignore for his own mental health. Alien bodies of two kinds, one big and clad in black and green unifoms, the others smaller and clad in grey armor, were lying on the ground with blue and red blood staining the walls of the hangar.
"All clear in here, Sir!" he shouted as Captain Alenko walked up, noticing that the group at the other end of the hangar wasn't shooting at them.
"Guns down marines. I get a feeling they are the reason we're here," Alenko ordered as he raised his hands and started to walk towards the elevator.
"Sun Tzu, I need that translation software right about now. Over," the officer radioed as Vega looked at the aliens. They were thin, very tall creatures with strange looking legs and only three fingers on each hand. Their faces were hidden by helmets that suggested a very different head shape but the way they carried themselves made it clear that these were soldiers.
"It's done, just start talking Captain. Over and out," the tech-specialist of the Sun Tzu informed them, his proximity to the captain causing their squad comlinks to connect.
"Do not shoot," the captain started to talk as he slowly walked towards the remaining five aliens. "We received your distress signal. We are here to help."
One of the aliens said something inaudible to Vega and the others lowered their rifles almost immediately. It started to limp towards Alenko and stopped a few meters in front of him trying to stand up straight.
"You have my thanks," the creatures flanging voice identified him, at least Vega assumed it was a him, as the one who spoke the message that had been played to them. "I am Lieutenant Aventius of the Turian Hierarchy." he heard him say as he found the translation software working for him as well.
"Captain Alenko. HSA Marine Corps," Alenko offered as he lowered his hands. "Listen, we'll have time for introductions later but we need to get you out of here. By intervening we pissed of half the continent."
"This ship can't fly," the alien explained.
"We'll get you out of here. How big is your crew?" Alenko asked as Vega looked behind him after a loud explosion caught his attention.
"Thrity soldiers, only half of whom are still a live and," a orange display materialized itself from his wrist, " Sixty Eight remaining crew members. The rest are all dead."
"Alright. Collect your people and all supplies you have left here, we'll get you out first and then we'll withdraw after you're on our vessel," Alenko turned away as the alien began barking orders.
"Sun Tzu, this is Captain Alenko. We got the survivors coming up. Prepare the medbay, most of them are wounded. Over," he turned to the elevator to see another kind of alien walk out of it.
It almost looked human to Emilio Vega, just far bluer.
"Sun Tzu there are two types of aliens. Be advised. Two different races on the ship. Over."
"Copy that Captain, by the looks of it even more enemies are on their way. At least regimental size. We're picking up mobilization from all around the continent. Apparently we made someone very angry. You got one hell of a fight coming your way. Over."
"That's the job. Alenko over and out," the captain said as he turned to walk out of the hangar. "Corporal," he barked, causing Emilio to rise to his feet.
This would be a long night.
2125 CE, THS Angelus, One Relay Jump away from Parack
Captain Bonosus had received the distress signal a few moments ago and already his patrol consisting of the cruiser Angelus and three frigates was making its way towards the closest relay.
"Typical Citadel diplomats, always getting themselves into harms way," he sighed. "Prepare the troops, we're going to have to hit the ground by the sound of it. Five minutes to the Relay."
"Why is it always turians that die when the council messes up?" one of the junior officers manning a terminal questioned the turian next to him. Red facial markings turned towards his own blue one's.
"I guess only the spirits can answer that question. It's our duty to help them, no use in complaining about it," he turned his attention back towards the screen. "Besides, maybe you get a grateful asari to thank you?"
The junior officer chuckled. "We both know they always 'thank' the grunts even though we do the real work."
"Focus," he barked towards them as they returned their attention to their work. Junior officers really were a piece of work. The ship was engulfed by the blue light of the mass relay as it was flung across the stars at a magnitude of the speed of light. Seconds passed and the formation entered the system the distress call had originated from.
"All systems green, drift marginal," the helmsman informed Bonosus who nodded once.
"Check the scanners, I want a read on our survey vessel," he began. "Prepare the drop ships if they are still around, they'll need to be relieved.."
"Checking scan-" the junior officer swallowed. "Sir, I got a dreadnought sized vessel in orbit around 'Parnack', the planet the distress signal came from. It's located almost right on top of the source."
"All ships, switch to secure channels," he ordered through the formation channel before turning to the junior officer. "The survey team's report said that the race they were observing was on the verge of space flight, how could they miss them having a dreadnought?" Bonosus drummed his claws on the armrest of his command chair before getting up. "No they couldn't have been this wrong. There is no way they could've been this wrong. How long ago was the signal sent?"
"By the looks of it the first signal was sent roughly two hours ago sir. We got lucky by being this close," the communication officer of the Angelus explained. "I'm still reading turian signals from the planet. We're not too late, Sir."
"I am not liking this. Verify that signal." the captain ordered as he walked through the CIC.
3. October 2383 AD, Uncharted System, HSASV Sun Tzu
"Captain Gates, four unknown contacts just left the relay. Three of them are clocking in at 300 meters, one of them at 535," the officer manning the sensor array called form his position on the bridge.
"This day is getting better by the minute. Can we get any readings on them? Are they friends of the guys we are shooting at or friends of the guys we're currently airlifting to our ship?" Gates asked as he made his way to the sensor array, a quick look on its screen confirming what the officer had claimed.
"Negative, no readings. They went silent the moment they spotted us but we still saw them come in."
"Fantastic. Alright, we got their language somewhat translated. Send footage of Alenko's helmet cam on an open frequency. Make sure they get it, if they start shooting we know they aren't friendly."
"Aye, Sir," the officer replied as she started to hit buttons on her console.
"Any word on that backup?" Gates took a sip of coffee, even though naval coffee tasted horrible it was better than nothing. He had a feeling he'd need all the caffeine he could get.
"Yes. The rest of the fleet has finished venting their drive cores and is currently on their way to our position," the woman that filled the position of the communication officer replied.
"Good. Anything from Alenko, ground control?" he looked at the black man manning the mentioned terminal.
"He's reporting that the aliens have been loaded on the Kodiaks but that their air space is getting crowded now. They can't get another Kodiak up until our fighters thin the herd."
"Can we help them with that?" Gates questioned.
"We could descend into atmosphere but we'd risk becoming a huge target for everyone on that world if we do that."
"Alright that's a no then. Do we got firing solutions? We're an assault carrier after all. We could use these sweat bombardment systems the navy got me for Christmas." he stared at the ceiling of the ship imagining finally being able to watch the kinetic bombardment system in action before he snapped out of his thoughts.
"That is a possibility, however we can't use them close to our troops and we can't be certain we're hitting the right things down there. It's a risk, Sir."
"I don't want to be the guy that blew up an alien child orphanage." Gates deadpanned. "So bottom line is we can't help them right now?"
"Not without chancing massive collateral damage, no. We are best of waiting for the frigates wolfpacks, they are designed for atmospheric combat. They'll clear the air space."
"I hate sitting on my ass up here while our guys are getting a beating down there. How bad?" he asked. The chains of command ensured he'd be responsible for human deaths due to his decision. It wasn't the first time people died because of his orders but it didn't get easier.
"Alenko is reporting fourteen KIA and another twenty one wounded. A Paladin also took quite the beating but Hunter 1-2 is saying that she can still 'kill those bastards' so I think the mechanized support is good for now," the ground control officer explained.
Two Hours after Planetfall, 3. October 2383 AD, Uncharted Planet
"I love this job," Holderman admitted as he chambered another round into his machine gun before once more pressing its stock into his shoulder. "I feel like I don't say that enough," he added before once more squeezing the trigger of the weapon.
"You really are a psychopath!" Vega shouted back to him as he sent rounds down towards the enemies his HUD marked in the darkness. The sun had set half an hour ago and by the looks of it the beings they were fighting had no need for either night vision gear nor flash lights.
"Guilty as charged," the marine laughed as the weapon in his hand kept firing. "Speaking of charges," he began as a burst of alien shots dug into the dirt near the two of them, "care to finally blow up the tree line?"
"Are you giving me orders, Private?" Vega asked while producing a small device from his chestrig.
"Just making suggestions, Corporal," the man shrugged while bullet casings flew out of the machine gun.
"Suggestion accepted," Vega answered as he raised the detonator and declared 'detonation' over the squad intercom. "Just don't get any ideas for being right once."
"I'm always right," the machine gunner insisted as an alien arm torn of by the detonation landed between them, causing both of them to pause for a moment.
"Is that an alien asking for a high five?" Holderman muttered.
"I think so."
"Should we keep that?" the private asked.
"Why would you want to keep that?" the corporal replied in disbelief.
"I'm just ask-"
"Quit fucking around and start killing again!" the voice of Gunnery Sergeant Sitko demanded. "You morons do realize this Squad Intercom includes the whole squad, right?"
Throwing the arm behind them to keep it from obstructing their movement, the marines complied.
A/N: So my idea behind this story is that usually AU!Mass Effect stuff tends to go with humanity kicking the ass of the turians due to being better in everywhere or something like that and to be honest, I really like turians so I thought how could I create a story where they don't hate each other and still make it somewhat entertaining?
My aim is to create a story where Humanity is neither weak, nor overpowered. Just slightly different (see my shameless steal of Titans) and gets a better start with everyone by being in the right place at the right time (Parnack) and so I came up with a ship having engine troubles and dropping out right as shit hits the fan for the yahg envoy.
I never really saw anyone use this but I feel like I may have missed it. Still rather proud of my idea. I will try to create my own basic line while still following Mass Effect lore, so no flashy FTL drives or that jazz. Just a slightly different (cultural and technological) humanity with a slightly different timeline.
I may start something akin to a codex to fill in lore questions at the end of each chapter if there's a demand for it. Anyway, tell me what you think and see you around next time.
Edit 30.7.2017: Chapters 1 to 10 have been completely remastered, as I intended to, and while there is still a difference in the quality of them and the chapters 1-16, I am now happy with the state Semper Vigilo is currently in, meaning I will now once more start writing the actual story, only editing some stupid spelling and puncuation mistakes.
I did retcon some earlier oneliners out of chapter 3 and fixed a lot of phrasing between 1-10 that didn't quite match the later tone of the story, (for example one character being refered to as a lot of things was changed to him having the one and same 'rank' everytime its used)