Chapter 2. Yahg Hospitality


2125 CE, THS Angelus

The recording played again and Captain Bonosus mandibles clicked into the turian equivalent of a thinking expression. Tech specialists had confirmed it to be authentic, which meant that another alien force was currently engaging end evacuating members of the council survey team to their ship, a dreadnought sized ship hovering right above the crash side which was, as far as long range scanners were concerned an all out battleground by now.

"Sir, what is your decision?" the commander of his ground forces, Silia Audaios asked. She was currently standing in the blueish, grey armor favored by most turian marines. Her green eyes locked with the black pair of the captain, red facial markings meeting grey facial markings.

"Hail the vessel, make our intentions clear, request for the surviving members to be transported towards the Angelus and offer our frigates and ground teams as additional support. We're in this together. Furthermore transmit our identification code, if there's a turian survivor on board he'll be able to confirm our identity," his flanging voice ordered with a tone three decades in the military had given it.

"Yes, Sir. As you command," the communications officer started to type on the hard light keyboard in front of her. "Message is sent, unknown ship is receiving."

"Let's just hope the spirits mean well," the captain turned towards the marine next to him who was still awaiting his instructions, "Prepare the ground forces. I want a rapid deployment if the need arises. Make sure the mechanized elements of the frigates are ready for prolonged fighting, they'll bear the weight of the assault," as she turned away Bonosus placed a hand on her shoulder. "Watch out for yourself Silia."

"You too Vedrix," a faint smile appeared on her face as she walked away from the bridge. His gaze lingered for a moment before he returned his focus on the task ahead of him. Those weren't thoughts for times like these or as a matter of fact lives like theirs.

Spirits be damned.


Five Hours after Planetfall, 4. October 2383 AD, Surface of 'Parnack'

Orbital surveillance had recently informed Captain Alenko that the worst was yet to come. Apparently they had pissed of one of the biggest nations on the planet and said nation was currently mobilizing its entire military to close in on the crash site, to seize a ,quite literally, bloody survey ship. Once he had learned that the evacuation wouldn't be a speedy as he had hoped, the officer had used the short break that had presented itself to the marines after clearing the site for the first time to have them dig trenches to fortify their position, an act that was proving to be sensible right about now. He was currently standing in one of the holes he had dug with his entrenching tool as another trail of smoke appeared in the sky, marking one less enemy aircraft. While the aviation wing of the Sun Tzu had not yet taken any casualties to the less sophisticated alien fighter craft and had finally managed to shoot down enough of them for the Kodiaks to safely return to their mother ship, his marines hadn't been as lucky. Alenko had already lost twenty seven marines and another eight teen wounded were waiting to be evacuated alongside the alien crew.

Almost a fifth of his company was unable to fight and while the Sun Tzu kept dropping supplies from orbit, the logistical situation was getting tight as well. Word from Captain Gates that the rest of the 6th Patrol Fleet was well on its way had come through some time ago but they would only be able to relieve them in another three hours. Three hours Alenko wasn't sure he'd live to see as another mortar round exploded in front of the trench he was using for cover. They could really use the Hornets right about now but as he looked up, seeing more smoke trails appear, he realised that their air support was still quite busy. It was just their luck that their foes didn't seem to care about casualties.

"Someone kill those spotters!" he shouted into his helmet as yet another mortar round exploded near him. The moment the command had left his mouth a Paladin, Hunter 1-2 as far as his HUD informed him, shifted it's 40mm cannon to a not yet destroyed tree line. The big rifle let out four rounds and Alenko saw them cause small explosions upon impact, making out bits and pieces of several of their foes flying through the air. One spotter team less.

The fire however didn't stop as the mortar crews most likely still had a good idea of what they were shooting at. Alenko was aware that these 'yahg' ,as the turian had briefly informed him, were trying to seize their space craft, a fact that he was using to his advantage by staying as close to it as possible in order to avoid an early demise by a heavy artillery barrage or a missile salvo. The alien lieutenant had stated that they yahg would not risk damaging the survey ship and up to now he had been right. Another reason for staying close to the craft was that he had to mahe sure that, until they withdrew, the yahg would not find out about the ludicrous amount of explosives Alenko's engineering squads had placed in the vessel. The turian had been rather insistent on not allowing anything to be left behind for the yahg to salvage.

Alenko had agreed with that idea.

"Here they go again!" Lieutenant Husain accented voice shouted from another trench in the darkness. He was referring to another wave of yahg infantry trying to close the distance and get into close combat with the humans, a tactic with which they had previously killed fifteen of Alenko's men. The commander of Alenko's second platoon pointed his targeting laser at a part of the jungle and soon after started to engage targets, at least a hundred big alien figures pouring towards them.

"Shoot them before they can get close!" he ordered as he lifted his own SR-7, preparing to fire controlled bursts at everything that even remotely looked like a yahg. His magazine pouches were mostly empty by now and he knew he'd soon have to call for another ammunition drop but right now every gun was needed and since he still had three magazines to his name he inteded to put the bullets to good use. Next to him another man lifted his DMR-7, a slightly longer and more precise version of the service rifle and started delivering rounds to his intended targets, taking out those yahg that provided covering fire for their comrades. Alenko himself aligned his scope with the biggest alien he could find. If the last hours had taught him anything, those tended to be in charge of their troops. The last assault had seized when all leaders had been killed, maybe they could stop this one dead in its tracks. As the rifle's recoil punched against his shoulder, full metal jacket rounds left the barrel and found their mark in one of the eyes of an especially big yahg. The hit tore half his face off and caused the creature to drop, once more staining the ground of the jungle area with red liquid that appeared as a dark green in his night vision mod.

Alenko shifted his aim as another Kodiak pilot pinged him, informing the captain of its safe arrival at the Sun Tzu and that yet another bunch of injured marines or aliens had been evacuated. He ignored the pop up in his upper left field of vision and took down another yahg with a precise burst to it's head. There was another advantage to them being this bulky, not only had they a hard time finding cover but they were also easy targets. Their heads were the size of the torsos human marines were trained to shoot at and such killing them was, much to his surprise considering their size, easier than killing a human. As Alenko was looking for other targets the battle around raged on and his Paladin platoon continued to take the bulk of the enemy's fire due to their size and the fire power they were carrying. After dropping another yahg with his rifle, Alenko went down to reload and while sliding into the trench he just hoped that his enemies would run out of bodies to throw at them sooner than the marines ran out of bullets. Chambering the first round of his second to last magazine, the officer wasted no time lingering in the trench, instead rising up once more only to find something he had hoped not to see.

Not ten meters from his position, two yahg came charging towards him. He brought up his rifle as bullets took one of them down but as the other began to leap off the ground, he was just about ready to say his good byes. He couldn't beat that thing in close combat but he sure as hell would try. The last rounds left his rifle, failing to stop the yahg as they dug into his shoulder, and he was all but prepared to use his rifle as a bat when a mechanical hand snatched the figure out of the air, probably crushing several of its bones, before throwing it back the way it had come.

Under the surge of adrenaline, he hadn't even heard the Paladin walking up.


Meanwhile

After saving his commanding officer in a rather strange fashion, Cooper Wells continued to fire his chaingun into the positions of the enemies. He was having a rather good time if he was entirely honest with himself. Their small caliber rounds bounced of his Paladin and he could return as much fire as he wanted to, even the bigger guns they had brought up to now not being sufficient. Another group fell victim to him as they tried to move to the trenches his non-mechanized comrades had dug only to encounter his rounds traveling at super sonic speed halfway through their dash. The burst from the gun tore the first one into two pieces, reduced the second yahg to a bloody soup and continued it's path across the other five members of the pack, killing them in a similar fashion. Wells turned the upper body of his Paladin and the mortar mounted on his back fired another round into the jungle, a flaming explosion swallowing the group of officers looking over the charge. This battle was giving the Paladins every advantage they could've hoped for. Good terrain, the technological edge and the perfect targets, infantry lacking anti-Paladin weapons.

The Fringe Wars had already proven that Paladins, if left unchallenged, could cause catastrophic damage to any enemy force that lacked the means to fight them. The machines cleaved their way through the yahg with ease, only his modified VI keeping track of the number of kills he had already collected in the last five hours and by the looks of it, they'd continue to do so until they were evacuated. The Hornets ensured that no hostile air support could touch them and up to now enemy armor seemed to either be nonexistent or unable to reach them. He was all but certain that the only thing maintenance would have to do would be to clean off alien blood.

Then an impact caused the chassis of the Paladin to stumble back as red light started to engulf the cockpit. Then another hit and another and another. His HUD tracked the trajectory of the fire he was taking and soon the VI confirmed what he already knew. "Armor integrity at 92%. Shields depleted. Seek cover. High density shells impacting,"the deep voice of the Paladin VI stated as the big mech started moving towards the direction he had been shot from. His HUD marked the outlines of what looked like multiple tanks coming down the by now completely destroyed jungle road as infantrymen cleared the last of the lighter vehicles obstructing their path. The tanks were painted in a splinter camo of indistinguishable shades of green and slightly darker green and by the looks of it they were bigger than the Grizzly MBT the army favoured. While their shape appeared sloped, he already suspected that the material used to create them wouldn't be nearly as resilient as the armor plating attached to most human military vehicles or space craft. The technological gap was simply too big.

With their path cleared, the tanks began to roll once more, another salvo of high density shells flying his way as six of the primitive vehicles made their way across the hill of the jungle street. Looking back this was bound to happen. Things had simply been too easy for Hunter Platoon up to now. Now it was actually time to earn their pay. Cooper Wells planned on delivering.

"Armor integrity at 86%," it sounded through the cockpit as he felt a round bounce of the torso of his Paladin. "Shields not yet recharged, seek cover."

Since he didn't have any cover, he fired off one of the rockets attached to the left shoulder of his Paladin instead and sure enough, one of the tanks simply seized to exist, only for another to take its place moments later. He didn't have enough rockets for this game of attrition so he had to find another way. The Paladin and its pilot dashed through the jungle, the trees offering him some protection on his advance and the lieutenant opened the general combat channel all the while he slaughtered his way towards his targets, horrified yahg foot soldiers fleeing as the mech tore into their ranks.

"Ground force be advised, enemy armor has arrived," he stated as he moved the mechanized suit forward while dodging another tank round. Close one. Soon he'd be to close for them to react though. He just had to be lucky long enough. Sadly, he never had been very lucky. The Paladin shook twice in rapid succession as two of the yahg tanks managed to hit the fast moving target, the VI once more coming to live to tell him what he already felt in the Paladin's movement.

"Armor integrity at 68%, registering damage to the left leg," its deep voice echoed through the cockpit just as he cleared the remaining distance. The Paladin stepped on the first tank he could reach, unloading several of the 30mm rounds on its soft backside, before reaching down and bending the barrel of another just enough so it wouldn't be able to fire. Cooper Wells was about to take care of the third tank when he looked to his left.

A realization hit him as he saw what was beyond the hill. He wasn't going to make it and if he didn't do something about the tanks in front of him, neither would any of the marines relying on his platoon to provide heavy support.

"Armor integrity at 41%," the deep VI voice warned. "Suggesting immediate evacuation."

"Not possible,"he stated as another tank was destroyed after sustained fire of his chaingun, its engine causing a fire that cooked the crew inside it. "Prepare to overload our core, give me a line to the captain," he added as he marched his Paladin forward through enemy fire, the crews of the tanks behind the small hill too shocked or too slow to react to the mech walking over their vehicles. "Captain, take cover."

"Hunter-Lead, what the hell are you doing, get back here!" the canadian voice of his superior declared. "That's an order!"

"Sorry sir, not possible. I've got a lot of enemy armor and I've got a way to blow them up," he disobeyed at the sound signaling that his chaingun had run out of ammunition. He swung the heavy piece of equipment into a group of yahg standing next to one of the tanks, stunned as they tried to comprehend what drove the machine into this suicidal charge, and the weapon smashed into the pack, sending its members flying through the air as the Paladin blew past them.

"Armor integrity at 20%," the voice of his VI informed him as the first tank crews started to react, finally managing to shoot at the alien mech running over their comrades. While primitive they still packed a punch now that his armor was severely compromised and soon enough the first managed to score a critical hit, tearing apart the connection between the left arm of the Paladin just as Lieutenant Wells fired off the remaining missiles attached to its shoulders.

"Warning le-" the VI began.

"Mute," Wells simply interrupted it. "Been an honor, Captain," he decided to close the channel. There was no need to hear the man's reply.

The Paladin dashed forward as he continued walking over the tanks, crushing a yahg tank commander that had decided to investigate just what was actually happening. Another hit of a tank at the end of the formation caused the right leg to seize working and Hunter-Lead to collapse. A constant warning sound entered Wells' world as another round tore through the cockpit and past his head, the outside world now visible.

"Blow the core," Wells ordered and an instant later the nuclear powered reactor of the mechanized walker tore a hole into the whole armored convoy that had hidden behind the hill of the jungle road. As orbital image would later confirm Cooper Wells single handedly destroyed at least fifty heavily armed tanks and fighting vehicles with the last deed of his twenty five year long life.


Meanwhile

Alenko not only saw the flash of the small nuclear explosion beyond the hill but also felt the shockwave even though most of it had already been dampened by the earth between them. His hardsuit informed him of the amount of radiation it had just blocked, it would've been a very unhealthy dose, and the fiery mushroom cloud that was starting to form caused his HUD to temporarily believe it to be daytime.

"Hunter 1-2 you're now Hunter-Lead, over," he ordered as debris and dirt started to rain down on them, adjusting his night vision just as several pieces of red-hot metal embedded themselves in the ground in front of him. The glowed brightly inside his HUD as the green filter returned to him and once more allowed him to see what the yahg were doing. Some of them seemed paralyzed, maybe they had never witnessed a nuclear detonation, and yet again others simply pressed forward into the direction of the craft they so desperately desired.

"Copy that, improving our position, over," the voice of the newly promoted Paladin leader confirmed. The pilot sounding almost mechanical but is actions revealed the thirst of revenge he held inside him. 40 mm rounds started to hone in on any yahg he could find as the machine stomped forward, its two remaining counterparts following right behind it. A small yahg, this one was a shade of dark red, tried to crawl away from the killing machine but when the pilot caught the move his Paladin lifted the creature off the ground and began squeezing the by comparison small being in between his robotic hand. The result was as ugly as one would expected it to be. Taking a page out of the late Hunter-Lead's book, the pilot threw the corpse through the air and towards the line of yahg still advancing on their position, a shower of blood raining along its path and covering the ground below it.

Captain Alenko chose to ignore the brutality of what he just witnessed and once more returned into the emotionless state of shooting anything with more than two eyes.

The nature of war.


4. October 2383 AD, Orbit around 'Parnack', Medical Bay of the HSASV Sun Tzu

"So they're here for your people," Captain Gates repeated as he gave the computer pad to the turian called Lycus Aventius. "Are they your people though? I'd hate to go through all of this to hand you over to your mortal enemy."

"Yes they are our people. You are safe to reply, their codes match with Hierarchy regulations," the alien officer reassured the human sitting across from him as the orange display around his wrist, an 'omni-tool' as he had called it, confirmed the codes.

"Finally some good news. We could really use those frigates for air and ground support in the area," Gates sighed in relief. "The rest of my fleet won't be here for another three hours," he rose from the chair as Aventius did the same almost instantaneously. "Now if you excuse me, I'll be having a conversation with both my ground commander and your captain."

"Of course, Captain Gates," the turian spoke before throwing what Gates suspected to be a salute. He returned the gesture before walking out, expecting to return to the bridge only to bump into the ground control officer who had been waiting for him in front of the medical bay.

"We lost a Paladin, Sir," he explained as he joined Gates' walk towards the bridge. "A nuclear blast just took out a whole armored convoy on the surface.

"Anything else?" the captain asked as both officers pressed themselves against the wall to make way for several corpsmen carrying an injured marine on a stretcher towards better medical care, the bleeding stump of the remains of his right arm causing a sting in Gates' own shoulder. He had thrown that private into the meatgrinder, he'd have to live with that.

"As ordered all alien casualties and weapons have been recovered," the man in a naval blue uniform with a single golden bar identifying him as a lieutenant commander went on. "The remaining marine casualties are on their way up as well as we speak.

"Good but I'm sure there's another reason why you left your post just to meet me in person," Gates said as they walked past another section of the medbay where two doctors, under the instruction of a member of the other alien race that had been with the turians, were doing their best to operate on a severely injured, purple alien, the puddle of alien blood collecting on the floor not inspiring confidence in their success.

"Yes Sir. We picked up two more regimental sized forces moving in on the crashsite. If we don't get them out of there in the next hour they'll be overrun," the elevator door opened and they stepped inside before the cabin rapidly ascended towards the bridge. "Now might be the time to deploy the kinetic bombardment systems."

"We've found a different means of ground support, Lieutenant Commander Haley," he assured his companion. "Frigates will relief our marines."

"But, Sir," the officer began in justified confusion as the doors of the elevator opened up, "the 6th won't be here for another two hours."

"Whoever said anything about it being our frigates?" Gates smirked as they walked into the bridge before raising his voice. "Hail the unknown ship. It's a turian cruiser, they are confirmed allies of our guests and they've got something we need."

"Yes Sir," the communication officer said as she pressed a few buttons and the screen revealed another turian.


2125 CE, THS Angelus

"They look almost like asari," a junior officer whispered as the screen revealed the alien in charge of the dreadnought-sized ship which was apparently trying it's hardest to rescue the crew of the N'Vas Thelo.

"My name is Captain Charles Gates of the HSASV Sun Tzu," the voice said and the translation software translated it into the common language most turians spoke, Pallian. "I am willing to immediately deliver the survivors of your survey team and I formally request the assistance you have offered us," he declared. "As badly as I'd like for us to exchange further pleasantries, we will have much more time for formal greetings when our kin aren't dying below us."

"Give word to the frigates," Bonosus nodded, "order them to execute an FTL jump to Parnack and begin atmospheric support." The turian captain turned back to the alien on his screen and locked eyes with him. "I appreciate what you're doing Captain Gates. I am Captain Vedrix Bonosus and my frigates are ready to assist your forces. They'll provide air and ground support and my troops are itching for a fight, just say the word," the turian officer offered.

"Much appreciated. Be advised all your ground personal has already been evacuated. You'd only be covering our retreat. You don't need to commit further ground troops," the alien captain explained as Bonosus found himself grateful for not having to throw his own marines into the fray.

"Then atmospheric support is the least we can do," Bonosus said as he gestured for his XO to inform Commander Audaios of the change of situation. "My frigates will clear the sky for your shuttles, I swear it," the 'human' nodded and the screen turned black.

"Let's put an end to this," Bonosus roared over the bridge as he sat up straight in his chair and his crew drifted into a state mechanical focus, the blueshift of the Angelus' frigate escorts racing past the cruiser.


Six Hours after Planetfall, 4. October 2383 AD, Surface of 'Parnack'

The situation was getting worse with every passing moment and Alenko was starting to get the feeling they'd not survive another minute of this onslaught at all when he got a direct call from Captain Gates. He slid down into the trench just in time to see a tracer fly through the air where his head used to be. Primitive bullets or not, he wouldn't have survived that shot. He told himself not to think about how close he had just gotten to death and prepared himself to rise from his cover once more, only stopping when his comlink to the Sun Tzu opened itself, indicating that someone on the ship wanted to talk to him. He pressed himself against the wall of the trench, tapped the man next to him on his shoulder so he'd keep the suppressive fire up for him.

"You're getting frigate support, prepare to retreat, over," the naval officer explained as dirt from another explosion rained down on Alenko's helmet.

"I thought the 6th wouldn't be here for another two hours, over," he very nearly shouted back just as the marine next to him took a hit to the neck, collapsing as his blood sprayed over the captain's visor. Alenko pressed his hand on the wound as his armored gauntlet started to turn red, increasing the pressure even further as he saw more of the liquid pour from the wound.

"Corpsman!" he shouted while the channel towards his superior was still open and moments later a man with a medical backpack jumped into the trench and took a knee next to the wounded man. He grabbed a thin syringe from one of his pockets, breaking open its seal in one swift motion and applied the medigel, humanity's solution to every military injury for the last twenty five years. The clotting agents of the salve started to quench the red flow that had appeared from the neck of the man and created a small puddle within the trench itself and upon receiving the okay from the medic, Alenko let go of the man's neck. Without medigel this marine most likely wouldn't have survived his recent, violent meeting with a piece of lead.

"Repeat your last Sun Tzu," the captain finally said before rising to cover the corpsman's further treatment, shell casings flying down to join the small sea of blood at his feet as his SR-7 rattled with every shot.

"It's not the 6th Fleet that's coming for you, your support is turian, the race of the soldiers you rescued," the naval officer elaborated as if Alenko cared who dragged their asses out of the fire. "They want to repay our 'favor' and offer full ground and orbital support with three of their frigates. Over."

"Understood. Withdrawing back to the shuttles now. Over and out," Alenko said as the corpsman started to work on the wounded man. "Grab him and let's go!" he ordered as he shot another burst into the general direction of the enemy. "All forces, grab your casualties and retreat to the landing zone. We're getting the hell out of here, marines!" he shouted.

As his forces started to dash towards the remaining Kodiaks the three remaining Paladins laid down suppressive fire and cut apart any Yahg who thought about trying something, their towering forms slowly backing up to the evacuation point themselves. Alenko dropped another alien as a thunderous sound broke through the sky and an explosion rocked the ground as something impacted in the distance. Then a bird-like vessel with a sleek design, made up of white and orange armor plates and most importantly guns appeared out of the clouds, unleashing deadly kinetic bombardment into the direction enemy forces were coming from. Alenko climbed out off his trench, turned around and started to break into a sprint after ensuring that his forces were doing the same. A marine in front of him fell on his face as he tripped over the corpse of a fallen yahg in front of the spacecraft and Alenko grabbed him by his rig and threw him on his feet.

"Bloody move it!" he shouted as he gave the young man a push into the direction of the Kodiaks. "You're not dying here!"

The captain continued his run, already seeing the first shuttles lift off with their doors still opened to allow their passengers to shoot at the few yahg forces brave enough to push through the turian bombardment. Alenko's HUD informed him that the majority of his units were getting out of there and that the Paladins too had now been picked up by their special transportation craft. By the looks of it they were now they were just waiting for him. He spotted the last Kodiak in front of him and broke into the sprint of his life. The craft slowly started to lift upwards, the marines inside waving for him to hurry up, and after covering the last few meters Alenko jumped and grabbed onto the edge of the passenger cabin, barely holding on. He felt a hand pull him up and read the name tag of his saviour as it appeared in his field of vision.

"Sitko, you're still alive?" Alenko asked as the armored door shut behind him and the last human forces left the ground of Parnack under the cover of the newly arrived frigates, the cameras on the outside of the Kodiak allowing the marines inside to witness the spectacle.

"Course I am, Sir," Gunnery Sergeant Sitko laughed, "someone has to hit this detonator!" he flashed the little stick with a red button on its top into the face of the captain.

"Well go ahead. Blow that damned ship to hell," Alenko ordered before dropping into his seat.

"With pleasure Captain," the NCO chuckled before pressing the small button on top of the stick.


Kodiak Shuttle on the Way towards the Sun Tzu

"So beautiful," Holderman whispered next to Vega as the screen displayed the explosion. "I feel like I don't mention this enough so here it goes, I love my job." he chuckled as he took of his combat helmet to reveal sweaty brown hair.

"We get the idea, Thomas," Emilio sighed. "I'm just glad I survived that shit."

"Yeah me too, that was a meat grinder if I ever saw it," another marine of his fireteam, Private Ellis, grunted. "So me and Romeo are going to get shitfaced when we hit the Sun Tzu, you in?"

"Nah I'm way too old for that now," Emilio replied, suddenly feeling very tired, He didn't care how he had gotten his guys off that planet in one piece, he was just glad that he had done it.

"Dude you're twenty two," Romea, the final member of his team countered.

"I feel like I'm fifty right now. I think I'll just crawl into my bunk and sleep for two weeks," he chuckled as he registered a secondary explosion on the view screen. "Look at this shit."

"Fair enough. What about you, Thomas?" the marine turned to Holderman. "Come on buddy don't let me down."

"Hell yes I'm in. That's what I signed up for, killing stuff and getting wasted."

"I literally have no idea how you passed psychological screening," Emilio laughed. "What the hell did you say to them?"

"I was just being my usual, charming self," Thomas Holderman said as he unloaded his machine gun after making sure that the safety was in place. The private might behave like he didn't care about anything but the fight yet Emilio suspected it was just an act, small gestures such as these proved that suspiscion.

"Yeah if charming means violent," Ellis as he repeated the motion, stuffing the half-empty clip into his chestrig. They felt the craft touch down and the hatch opened to reveal the hangar of the Sun Tzu, one of the Paladins already walking over to maintenance and dozens of marines jogging to the armory. Furthermore the hangar was buzzing with activity as a group of the aliens they had rescued boarded one of the green Kodiaks.

"Where the hell are they going?" Emilio questioned.

"They probably heard you were coming and decided they'd rather be down on that shit hole of a planet again," Holder shrugged.

"Har-har," Emilio faked laughter as they too walked towards the armory which was located next to the hangar. "Very funny compadre."

"As I was saying, usual, charming self!" Thomas exclaimed as he started to walk away from the man to turn in his machine gun,"you know it's true," he added before turning around and jogging towards the squad support weapon area of the armory.


5. October 2383 AD, Terra Nova

"Today I stand before you to deliver historic news," the voice declared towards the cameras. "Exactly thrity one hours ago humanity made contact with not one, but three alien civilizations capable of space travel and another hostile, planet bound race." Britton Wells, the representative of Terra Nova in the parliament, explained as he stood in front of one of Terra Nova's most famous military academies, "Under circumstances which will be declassified once the situation is concluded, forces of the HSA Marine Corps were engaged with the military of the planet bound race after responding to an alien distress signal."

There was a moment of hesitation in the politician's voice. "After seven hours of ground combat our forces managed to evacuate the planet, having rescued surviving crew members of the alien vessel. In the process of this operation we made formal contact and worked with the military of one of their governments, the Turian Hierarchy. We turned the survivors of the crash over to them once their forces arrived in the system and our navy remains on standby in the system for now," he turned the page of his notes around and looked to the crowd of journalists for a moment. "As I am addressing you an envoy of the three alien civilizations, all members of what they call the 'Citadel Council', are on their way to meet our own diplomats." he finished before looking directly into the cameras. "I thank you for your attention and ask all of you to remain calm even in face of what might the most important days of mankind's history."

As the man walked away he lifted his right hand towards his face and wiped away the tears that now began pouring from his eyes. The reporter observing could guess why, after all it was part of his job to pay attention to details, but chose not to blurt it into the audience. No need to pour salt into an open wound. A man like him didn't deserve that.


5. October 2383 AD, Arcturus Station

"The broadcasts are all live now," Admiral Jun said as she sat down at the round table and placed the folder with the familiar sigil of the HSA on its wooden surface. The golden eagle watching over an empty globe on a red and white flag. It was a symbol of the HSA's loyalty to any of its world, not just Earth. The familiar Latin saying engraved under the globe itself added was the promise they had given to mankind. Semper Vigilo, always watchful.

"I take it similar speeches are given on all our colonies?" the man at the head of the table asked as he looked at the projection of the speech given by Arcturus Station's head of security who had been chosen to inform the people living on the station.

"Yes, Sir," the rough voice of the scarred man sitting across from the admiral answered as his eyes darted towards him. His black uniform stood as a stark contrast to the naval blue one worn by members of the HSA Navy and it revealed him to be a member of humanity's tip of the spear, the HSAMC. The 5 golden bars solidified his status as the highest ranking and therefor leader of said organization.

"So what's our game plan?" General Stelios, his name revealing greek roots, turned towards him, the commander in chief of all HSA forces.

"For now all we can do is wait what the meeting of our diplomats reveals," Chancellor Francis Noé, the most powerful human alive as far as most people were concerned, said while meeting the gaze of the marine before he turned towards the person responsible for the majority of all human military personal. "I take it the army will be capable of upholding public order should this cause any trouble on our colonies?", everyone was aware that he was mostly worried about the Fringe Worlds, the part of human space that had been the site of humanity's most destructive war.

"Of course. With martial law still in place and the streets being patrolled by our Colonial Watches there shouldn't be any more problems than usual," the man in the green uniform explained as he folded his hands. "We will remain in control of the situation, Sir."

"I don't doubt you or the army, General Vasquez. I just fear that the separatists could use this to usher in new support for their cause," Noé sighed as he drummed his fingers on his desk until he placed his hands in the air as if the words would appear between them. "'Alien Threat! The HSA won't be able to protect us, rise up, now!'," the chancellor said in his best impression of a propaganda broadcast. "I can already see their stupid posters," Noé muttered as he returned to a more serious tone. "When are our diplomats meeting they envoy?" he turned towards the minister for alien relations, Victor Kadlec, the man holding a position that had been considered a consolation prize until yesterday.

"They should make contact in a few minutes," the man replied, blood shot eyes revealing that he had been working through the night to help organize the meeting.

"Let's just hope our envoy doesn't get massacred," the chancellor said as he sat up straight in his chair, ready to address the other elephant in the room. "However we still have to talk about what exactly we are going to do about these 'yahg'."

"I can have two fleets mobilized and be in that system by the end of the week," Admiral Jun, the woman in charge of all naval assets of humanity, suggested. "The Sun Tzu is still in orbit but they weren't supposed to engage in ground combat of this scale so their stockpiles are far more depleted than preferable. The fleets we could mobilize to reinforce it are the 7th and 10th fleet, both having dreadnoughts."

The blue image of the nine hundred meter long craft she was referring to, a modified Everest-Class chassis, started to assemble in the center of the room. The long craft was optically almost identical to the sledgehammer of the navy, a nick name given to the Everest-Class due to serving as the main source of firepower for nearly thirty years now. The assault carriers, one of which was now slowly rotating in front of him, were the newest vessels within the HSA Navy and had been commissioned into service during the war between the HSA and a separatist movement that had seen the need for a ship that could do what the Sun Tzu and her five sister ships were able to do. Originally designed to enable HSA forces to retake their lost planets, the ships had turned into armed first responders after the conclusion of the war two years ago. The flying military bases, while capable of space combat, had to sacrifice the room an Everest-Class mass accelerator required to allow for their bigger armories, designated orbit to ground weapons and a respectable flight deck.

Just as the projection had finished its current rotation, it vanished with the press of the button.

"Given enough time the Einstein would be capable of joining the 10th Fleet as well. She just finished her retrofit last week," the admiral began as she brought up the image of one of humanity's carriers, "but the crew would still need some time to get her ready for deployment. As things are, she could be fully operational in two days."

The Einstein-Class, slightly smaller than human dreadnoughts and assault carriers only meassured roughly eight hundred eighty meters and ,like the assault carriers, had to sacrifice the giant mass accelerator that ran along the spine of an Everest-Class ship. It didn't have access to the equally impressive broadside batteries both the assault carriers and Everest-Class ships spotted and its armor was far less durable. Instead the Einstein and her four sister ships, the Tesla, the Benjamin Davis, the Hawking and the Newton were capable of individually releasing one hundred ten Hornet fighters and ninety designated Trident interceptors. Said strike craft would launch disrupter torpedoes into enemy vessels while their mother ships hanged back to avoid an enemy ships firing into their hangar bays. While it sounded strange, the concept had proven itself to be very successful during the Fringe Wars.

"Yet my suggestion is to simply blockade the planet. They pose no danger to us at the moment," the admiral finally added.

"I take it you're all but ready to land on that world yourself, General Stelios?" the chancellor turned towards the man in charge of the HSAMC. After all, his service branch was closely tied to the navy, working as two pieces of a very effective machine.

"While I certainly wouldn't mind giving them some payback for the marines they got, I have to agree that a blockade of the planet is the smartest move," he threw a glance towards his own folder. "They have to come to us, if they even have the ability to do so."

"Any objections?" the chancellor asked.

No member of the government or military within the room voiced any. After all, why risk getting into a fist fight if you can just shoot down everyone coming at you?

"Alright turn on the feed from the diplomatic ship, we all need to see this."


2125 CE, Chambers of the Citadel Council

"-and after receiving the transmission of the THS Angelus they shipped the surviving members of the CSS N'vas Thelo to the cruiser," the turian admiral finished his report. "As you are aware councilors, our envoy will meet theirs any minute now so I won't take up any more of your time. A more detailed version of the report will be forwarded to each of you once we've finished questioning the crew," he snapped to attention as he waited for the three councilors to say something.

"Thank you, you are dismissed Admiral Quentius," Councilor Tevos, the representative of the asari, released him.

The turian turned towards his own representative, Councilor Ioventus and saluted him before walking out of the chambers. As the doors closed the salarian council sighed as Tevos and Ioventus almost immediately locked eyes.

"I can't believe T'Laá would just shoot down the proposal of her securtiy advisor like that." the metallic flanging of a turian voice echoed through the hall. "We hand picked the crew of that vessel. You vouched for her! What was she thinking?"

It was always the same, when something happened that concerned turians and asari and it ended badly the two were at each others throats. Councilor Vaelan had seen it often enough in the past and he was seeing it right now. It wasn't just a political disagreement either, the two politicians seemed to dislike each other for far more than that.

"Just like you vouched for that Lieutenant Aventius, Councilor Ioventus. There is no one to blame here but the yahg," the purple asari said with grace, trying to defuse the situation all the while deflecting the attack on her.

"There isn't? I voted against the entire idea of uplifting another primitive race," Ioventus argued. "It's the Krogan Rebellions all over again, salarian and asari scientists get bored and decide they need to poke the beast with a stick and turians die to wrestle it back into its cave," he folded his arms. There was an ugly truth to his last statement, they all knew that. Some elements of turian society had always felt like the Hierarchy got too little out of being on the council for the effort they invested in upholding its laws. The turians were the single biggest contributor to the fleets of the Citadel Council and had made their entrance into said council after fighting a devastating war with the krogan, a war that resulted in the deaths of countless of turians and given way to anti-council sympathies early on.

More nationalistic groups believed that the Hierarchy would profit from separating itself from the Council or strong arm the weaker, less militaristic salarians and asari into doing their bidding. They believed that turians had spent far too many centuries dying for what they call 'selfish behavior' by the Asari Republics and the Salarian Union. These groups were usually disregarded by the bulk of the turian people but a previous political scandal had revealed that movements like 'Palavani Prima' or 'Just Legion' were supported by a noticeable size of the higher tiers of turian citizens, a demographic that could rise to be the politicians of tomorrow. The fact that the turian councilor, Ioventus, had shot down multiple proposals of the Asari Republics in what asari media called 'stubborn spite' didn't help their current situation either. People were aware that the representative of their police race was not as big of a supporter of the status quo as his colleagues.

Vaelan had to agree with him though, in retrospective he should have known better and vetoed the edict to look for suitable new members but unlike the asari and turian councilor, it wasn't his personal interest that mattered. He had to do what the Dalatrasses told him to do. Salarian society was different from those of the other races on the council, their councilor held less individual power and had to answer to a bigger group of people. While Ioventus only reported to the Primarch of Palaven, the highest authority within the Hierarchy, he had dozens of leaders breathing down his neck.

Tevos and asari politcs were more sublte than that.

While every asari could vote thanks to their e-democracy, a system not found in either the Turian Hierarchy or the Salarian Union, politics tended to be a game played by rich, powerful Matriarchs, asari with centuries of connections and experience. Anyone who believed Tevos to be the gentle negotiator she portrayed herself to be in front of the public, ignored the fact that one had to be ruthless to rise through the higher echelons of the asari government. After all, they had to get past well established, equally ruthless matriarchs. One never quite knew what she'd do next because there were only a handful of people that could influence her.

"Councilor Ioventus, we should not argue on this day of meeting another civilized, space faring race. We should rejoice for the opportunity ahead of us," the asari smiled as she clapped her hands together. "Think of the opportunities this meeting presents."

"I will no-" the turian began as his eyes caught the figure standing in front of them, a young asari maiden. She was most likely an aid of Tevos and Vaelan himself felt very sorry for her right about now.

"What is it?" the turian grunted as the blue asari almost died of fear.

"My a-a-apologies councilors, but the meeting has started," she stuttered as she brought up her omni-tool. "You wanted me to project it into the ch-h-h-amber."

"Of course. Thank you, Jalezina," the asari councilor offered in a much gentler voice, "I will see you later," she hushed the maiden away who quickly walked out of the chamber. "Ioventus, we will continue this discussion on a nother day. This is not over," she turned to face the taller turian.

"Typical," the turian clenched his teeth. "Always running from the fight," he turned away from her and towards the screen above them, not waiting for her to respond again.

"At least they won't argue now," Vaelan thought as he too shifted his eyes to the screen, ready to witness history.


Codex: Human Systems Alliance

Founded after a dispute about the political representation of the human colonies of Terra Nova (est. 2105), Arcadia (est. 2117) and Horizon (est. 2119) the Human Systems Alliance celebrates 5.5.2151 as the day of it's founding, Unification Day.

Being founded on the principle of protecting humanity, not just Earth, the Human Systems Alliance is the sole unified government of all worlds settled by mankind and has long since replaced the United Nations of Earth, the government coalition that first settled extrasolar worlds. In the 232 years since it's founding the HSA has expanded into the Attican Traverse and the Skyllian Verge, ignorance of the law prohibiting the opening of deactivated Mass Relays leading to the discovery and colonization of a large amount of inhabitable worlds in the region.

Ruled by the parliament and the chancellor of the Human Systems Alliance, the HSA is a representative democracy in which a representative is elected on each colony, their political weight being determined by the importance of the planet they are from and their population, a system that would play a large role in the events leading up to the Fringe Wars. (See Entry 'Fringe Wars)


A/N: So this story is getting more attention than I expected. Glad so many people like it! :) Anyway I decided on adding a small Codex section at the end of most chapters, something I totally came up with myself and did in no way copy from other writers, I'd never do something like that ;). Let me know what you think. Thanks to all the people who already reviewed or will do so now that I'm telling them to.

Seriously do it now

See you around next time.

Edit: As of 26.7.17 Chapter 2 has been remastered.

Once more, everybody who's just now reading this, just stick through the non remastered versions of 3,4,5 and 6 for now. I'll get to them eventually.