To Sceonn:
Take that as a disassociation the Turians are making. They are very used to being on the top and all the others (except the Asari and the Salarians) being beneath them. They assumed Humanity is primitive because we do not use eezo, and it is the basis of anything remotely advanced they know. Remember that China kept calling Europeans barbarians even when their wooden junks (as in the ship type, not that they were garbage) were being blown up by British steamships. It will take time for the Turians to get used to it, and some may continue out of spite.

To Majora6295:
I don't like working with dates because I have zero notion of how to do it. So, what I usually do is put the year at the beginning of the chapter when the year is different from the previous one. If no year is set in a new chapter, you can be sure it is set the same year as the previous ones starting from the last that had a defined year. So, now is 2528

To 8dr Whovian:
Well, no civilization is completely unredeemable. I think this incident will raise concerns about the way the Turians handle things and how their culture works. They are a very martial, very disciplined society where hierarchy is everything (heck, it is the name of their government!). As such, the higher ranks are expected to be wise and protect the lower ones while the lower ranks are expected to follow. If you noticed it, the ones who raised their concerns about any orders did that with hesitations and ended up accepting their superiors' orders. That's because this is how Turian society works. One orders and the other obeys while, on the other hand, responsibility is fully on the superior. If you noticed also, only the Turians who have some authority over others showed this 'machismo' and 'superior' attitude.
As for the Primarch, he does not know all the facts. For all he knows, Desolas just found an uninitiated race that broke the law and destroyed Turian ships. The Council would just do nothing once the new species were already incorporated into the Hierarchy, limiting their reaction to a few sanctions to save face. Now, if the Council found out before they show up with an already conquered new protectorate, their reaction would certainly be more active.

To ferduran:
Thank you. I'm not over with Arina and her crew yet. They will show up after the conflict as well.

To the stargate time traveler:
I don't think so, they are just not used to the same level of exploration Humans do, I think it may look dumb to them to some extent, maybe even reckless. They are more experienced in this aspect them we are.

To suzumiyaharuhi1:
They are already experimenting on that, with little success.

To OMAC001:
Well, I'm personally worried about his mental health, those whispers he hears and all.

To Sabatie:
Well, they are not quite First One-level, but subspace being a unique technological path, it messes with the traditional way of measuring advancement. Still, just because Humans can harm First Ones, doesn't mean they are at their level in every aspect. They are terrified of the First Ones, especially the Vorlons. As for assuming the Turians were First Ones, it was just because they assumed they were the ones the built the relays and, as such, very advanced.

To AlbertG:
Thank you so much for reading my story. I must say you are my favorite author here. Love A Thin Veneer and the A Universe of Change series.
Well, the Reapers existed for a long time and I would consider them (and the Leviathans) First Ones. They are still a large threat to the Babylon 5 races, except the First Ones (for now, at least). Looking at the system the Reapers built, with the mass relays and all, I think they know they are not covering even a small fraction of the galaxy. Still, they are eternal, as they will always remind us, and are patient enough to grow slow and steady until they can consume everything.
About King Axel and Coplann, I even thought about it but decided against it. As we saw, he just had no time to think about that. I intend of isolating both B5 and Mass Effect spaces for a bit, considering that the only way to travel between the two regions is through Human space and the Humans aren't very keen on letting the Council on their territory too soon. Some sporadic contact will occur, mainly by media outlets and diplomatic envoys. But Humanity is starting to close themselves and it may take time for them to be open again.
Thank you again. Now, I have somethings to ask you and I'd like to send you a PM if you allow me

To RightHandofPalpatine:
I think some problems are funnier to see protracting through time and growing into new problems. Let's see.

To Chronus1326:
I will see to it, thanks.

To Robert C:
The very idea of the USF joining the Council (as associates, that is) is very funny indeed. The Council will change a lot, but not in many years. Maybe then it can become a true galactic society.

To mechalekkahai:
It enhances strength, but not to supermen levels. Also, remember they were only a few Humans while the Turians make heavy use of strike drones, which inflates their numbers.

To skywardwanderer:
I had to show doubt in the Turians and show some individuals thinking for themselves. I don't want to write an entire civilization as a caricature.

To mckertis:
First, the USA did not defeat Russia. The Western Entente (which includes the USA but also Japan, most of Europe, etc) defeated the Sino-Russian Alliance (In which basically only Russia and China were Great Powers). It is like the Axis being very formidable in battle (well, Germany, that is, and some may say Japan but definitely not Italy) but still formed by only three low- to middle-tier Great Powers and a bunch of weak countries, while the Alliance gathered the high-tier Great Powers and all the rest of the world.
Second, it is the 2040s, who knows what the USA will be like by them.

To suzumiyaharuhi1 (again):
I see the Asgardians as, say, the Andorians of the USF. Just like the Klingons, the Andorians were an imperialistic warrior race. They still have this warrior ethos to them, but they don't go around conquering worlds anymore and sometimes don't fight any war for decades or even centuries. The Asgardian culture developed its warrior-ness in their opposition to Earth's imperialism. When the USF was founded and they had peace, their culture retained it (though way less war-like then before).
About the Turians, one-quarter of their fleet? I wouldn't go so far (not now, at least) but they will surely lose more than a thousand ships in this little game they started.

To L-gawd:
I'm sorry if you feel that way, and I agree that what AlbertG writes a whole different level from what I do. Still, this is my story. I don't like over the top "And then the Humans destroyed the entire galaxy because the alien attacked one world" kind of story. I like stories that have nuance, politics, introspection. One example is the tendency of Star Trek-Star Wars crossovers being one-sided 'the Empire stomps the Federation' scenarios where the author seems to think all Star Trek technology is inferior to Star Wars only because Warp is slower than Hyperspace. I don't like that. I know Star Wars would stomp Star Trek, but not because of technology. It would stomp because of scale advantage and the Force. But that kind is story is not interesting to me. It is just the fulfillment of a sadistic fantasy of 'my fandom is better'. Like I said to another reader above, the Turians are not caricatures. They are complex people with a complex leadership. Some do shit, clean the mess. I hope you appreciate my vision.

Chapter 16

"Ride of the Valkyries"

The anthem of the United Systems Federation sounded through the speakers. Its bicolor Flag appeared at the center of the Place de la Concorde, trembling on the wind. A white banner, in the center between two blue laurels enlaced in their base a blue cogwheel held within it a smaller blue disc dotted with small white dots representing stars with three bigger stars boldly shining.

"Now, live from Paris, Earth, the President of the United Systems Federation, Luis Santiago."

The scene changed, now a large, ornate office with a man sat behind the desk.

"Citizens of the Federation, alien residents in Babylon 5, friendly governments out there. As is now common knowledge, a few days ago, the colony world of Shanxi was brutally attacked by an unknown enemy. Whoever this new species is, they have chosen the path of brutality."

He sighed.

"Our response will be swift and efficient. At this exact moment, we are sending a large task force to take back our planet and save our people. A diplomatic solution would be preferred, as is expected of any remotely civilized society, but if we have to make this unknown aggressor pay the price in blood for the freedom of our citizens, we will not hold back."

"Some may ask why do we risk ourselves by boldly going where no one has gone before. Some may ask why not enjoy our prosperity locally, here. These are very valid concerns, but they are ultimately a fallacy. They exist on the supposition that here we are any safer. The Crescent has been our haven, our shield for centuries. It has allowed us to grow peaceful and undisturbed. But we should not wait for it to fail. Our doctrine must be to go out there, to map the stars, to make friends, keep an eye on potentially hostile groups. So, when something like this unprovoked aggression happens we will not be caught by surprise."

"Citizens of the Federation. In moments like this, it is easy to fall prey to our most basic instincts. To demand retribution in blood and war. But this is not us, it should not be us. With the plan that Starfleet has devised with help from the Valhallan Guard, we shall rescue our brothers and sisters. We shall bring justice, of that you can all be certain."

"And to our citizens in Shanxi, I urge you to be strong. We are coming to save you."

Sol Cluster
Babylon 5
Minbari Embassy

"It seems theatrics is written into the Human DNA," Coplann commented as the speech ended and he turned off the screen.

He took a sip of his tea, Earl Grey. He had taken a liking to it in particular. The Human drink, in its many variations, was becoming so popular back in Minbar that the Grey Council had to sign its first trade deal in generations to cope with the demand. Now, a steady flow of all varieties of tea from Earth and other Human worlds was established.

It was clear the USF did not have any actual need to trade, but as Delenn has told him, they realized the diplomatic value that well-developed trade relations could have. Besides, they seemed always interested in any alien cultural products they could find, be it food, music, art.

"It is somewhat strange being in this position, don't you think?" Delenn finally, to which Coplann made a confused face. "Being the spectator when an unknown species decides to attack Humanity."

"It will certainly be a most interesting conflict," Coplann sipped his tea.

"Yes," Delenn responded. "While other species had demographic growth hindered by war, lack of resources, and economic plight, Humanity just didn't have such problems. Their economy was revolutionized by cheap energy and synthesizer, later replicator technology as well as by the total lack of alien enemies to fight. And, as opposed to us, they have no reproductive problems. Any race that fights them will be going against an overwhelming force."

Delenn took her cup to the replicator alcove, where it was disintegrated in a beam of light. The technology still a marvel in their eyes.

"Have you ever read Anla'shok-Na Turval's writings on Humanity?" She asked, to which he shook his head. "I thought so. The Rangers have been at odds with the warrior leadership for generations, despite their rather high number of members from the warrior caste."

"It is a shame," Coplann finally said. "I cannot deny I once held the same contempt for them."

"It is understandable, Coplann. We were always the best, the oldest, the wisest, the strongest. Spending our resources on an organization such as the Rangers seemed wasteful to many."

"We never needed to understand our enemies to defeat them," he finally explained, more to himself than to her. "Valen knew the value of good intelligence and analysts, having created the Rangers for that purpose. Very Human of him, if you think," he smiled with his own jock. "But still, since the Great Enemy, we had no foe that we could not just brush off with the back of our hands."

"Now, we even have some cultural specialists," Delenn chuckled. "That is how much the Humans have changed us."

They remained silent.

"What were Turval's assessments?" Coplann finally asked.

"He established a series of doctrinal mainframes to base our tactics on if we ever go to war with the other species," she answered. "His ideas may not have gained track among the warriors, but the religious caste has found them most enlightening, though more for philosophical reasons than anything."

Coplann nodded.

"He knew the future of Minbar would be alongside Earth. Still, he knew we needed a plan to fight them if necessary. He made a plan for every known race out there except the First Ones," she continued. "About the Humans, he realized something most interesting. He described it as what he called the Rage Curve."

She looked it his eyes.

"Humans don't like to fight. They don't like to kill, they don't like to risk death. Humans live in paradise, they had no actual conflicts for centuries. As I said before, no external enemies, no economic plight. That can soften a civilization," she sipped her tea. "That is the Rage Curve. Humans are in an advantageous position when fighting short wars. They will start a conflict with high morale, overwhelming energy, and self-righteous brutality. But the more the conflict lasts, the weaker they become, for they become tired of all the material and moral loss. To put it in simpler terms, they become annoyed by the conflict."

"What do you mean by that?" Coplann questioned, to which Delenn smiled.

"Humans have the annoying habit of questioning everything, even long-held truths. As such, the longer a conflict lasts, the more they will start to question its morality and demand it to stop. Because of that, Turval theorized that the best tactic against Humanity would be to protract the war, make it take longer to end. Uglier in their eyes. Humans give too much value to the rules of engagement they consider honorable, so if you don't break those rules, they will give you the same benefit. We can't win against them, not with the technological gap that exists now. But we can make them tired, make them long for going back to their paradise. We can make them question the morality of their own cause."

She sipped her tea again.

"But Turval also urges us to be careful. That initial vigor will wane with time but can be brought back stronger and even lacking any moral restraints if they start to feel truly threatened. If that thin veneer of civilization they hold onto so viciously starts to wear off. That is the Rage Curve. They start strong in their righteousness, become weaker with tiredness, and then animalistically brutal in desperation."

"I think they know that," Coplann finally said after a moment of silence, realization all over his face. "Their rules and conventions, their reluctance to go to war even for the most atrocious of insults." he had an epiphany. "They are afraid."

Delenn nodded, proud of her colleague.

"But of what?" Coplann questioned. "Of being strong?"

"No," Delenn replied. "They are afraid of them becoming monsters. I am too. What would the universe we know become if they truly decided to conquer us all, exterminate us all? It would make what the Dilgar did pale in comparison."

She sighed.

"That is why this conflict is so important, why every government is paying attention to it. It will show the galaxy what Humanity is willing to do and what it is not. If they are swift in retaking their colony but seek retribution with restraint, no government we know will ever doubt the sincerity of the system of interstellar dialogue they established here. If they succumb to those instincts they are so afraid to let loose, well, I believe no alien species out there will be able to sleep at night."

They drank their tea, silently.

"Thirty years," Coplann broke the silence. "Thirty years they have been among us and they already brought so much change."

Delenn nodded.

"Our governments offered to send observers to their conflict," he continues. "The Dilgar offered to aid the Humans in their military operations there. The Centauri and the Narn are still ranting about how unjust it is that the Humans refuse to share the relay, maybe the only thing they agree on. Before them, the many races couldn't even get bothered by each other's issues."

"The Humans changed us like nothing before. They demolished the status quo and rewrote the established order of the universe," Delenn said. "Look at us. There were always differences between the castes but we were still united in one goal and one voice. When Dukhat died, we marched to war as one voice."

She paused.

"Now, we are divided. Half of our people want to engage with the Humans, to know them, learn with them, see the wonders they have to offer and then compete on an equal footing. The other half wouldn't be too sad if they just vanished. They want to put all of our resources in undermining them in every way. The question of how to approach these new circumstances has divided us."

"This tension must be resolved, before it leads to chaos," Coplann said.

"Yes, it must."

Somewhere in the Horse Head Nebula
USS Starkiller

When Captain Sheridan entered Stellar Cartography, he was received by his chief science officer, Lieutenant Sandra Hiroshi.

"Captain," she said. "Our long-range sensors have been fully repaired now. We have been running some diagnostics and collecting telemetry for analysis but we are ready to start."

"Good work, Lieutenant," Sheridan praised. The battle had damaged their main sensors, which made their quick warp jump even more dangerous.

He looked at the vastness of space being projected on holotank surrounding them. The positioning system calculated the ship's position in relation to the galactic core. At the moment, they were at the edge of the Horse Head Nebula.

"We are in a system very close to the one in which we were attacked. The closest, actually," Hiroshi reported. "Long-range sensors can't detect any ships in a radius of 17 light-years, so it is safe to try and get back to the relay. As for what is beyond it, well, too far for us to have any readings."

"What about short range?" He asked.

"They have just been repaired, we will start getting the readings..." she looked at her console. "Now."

She said and the projection zoomed in to their system. It showed a number of aligned glowing dots.

"Subspace flux, EM, gravitational, neutrino scanners, all checked," she said. "High-resolution, multi-spectral sensors activated."

"What are those glowing dots?" Sheridan asked.

She looked at her consoles.

"They seem to be a communication or sensor array of some kind, downscaled versions of a mass relay but for radio," she paused. "Wait. Sir, there is an object closing in our position."

"Visual," he ordered.

The projection changed to show a vessel of unknown configuration accelerating at them.

"It stopped!" Hiroshi sad. "Six light-seconds from our position. Just a few meters bigger than a Danube-class runabout. I detect an element zero core similar to the ships we encountered, minimal weapon placements and defenses."

"Anyone else in the vicinity?"

"No, sir."

Sheridan's comm badge beeped and he tapped it.

"Captain, there is a small ship is sending radio frequencies to us. I think they are trying to communicate."

"On my way," he said as he walked out of Stellar Cartography with Hiroshi just behind.

"Well, at least these ones seem to be open to communication," she said.

"Let's see that," he said as they entered the bridge.

"Captain, they are sending us streams of basic code. I have been able to recognize some morphological and syntax structures in it. I think it is a package of translation algorithms."

"Well, run them through in an isolated translator first," he ordered. "Let's see what they want."

Citadel News ship Storyteller

"That is an odd design for a ship," Arina said as she looked at the visual displays. " Also, too many windows. Do you think they will be able to use our translation algorithms."

"This method has been refined and proved effective for centuries," Mivam said, then turned to his displays. "Look, they are sending something."


"It seems to be working," Mivam continued. "It will take time for the translation to perfect itself. They are also sending what seems to be their own translation algorithms back to us."

"Good. Try to get closer, this light lag is killing me."


"Just do it, Mivam," she insisted. "They have no access to the comm buoys for real-time communication. Just try to be the least menacing you can, we need to get closer. Tell them we want to approach."

The Salarian just obeyed her.

USS Starkiller

"They want to come nearer to reduce light lag, sir," his comms officer said.

"That seems to confirm that they don't have direct FTL communications," Sheridan murmured and turned to Hiroshi. "Are you sure they are not a threat to us?"

"I'm sure, sir. There is no other ship in the system to assist if they decide to attack. Their weapons are too small to do any damage and we will not be caught with our trousers down this time."

"Good," Sheridan said as he turned at his comms officer. "Tell them to stay where they are. We will approach instead. I want half impulse."

The inertial dampeners worked like magic, keeping the crew safe and sound as the ship accelerated to one-quarter lightspeed in seconds. Just over a minute later, the Starkiller stopped.

"We are now half light-second from them, sir."

"Good, hail them," Sheridan ordered.


"This is impossible!" Mivam exclaimed. "The speeds, the acceleration-"

"Now I'm impressed," Arina said as she looked at the ship displayed on the screen.

"That is an understatement," Mivam exclaimed. "I cannot detect any element zero or mass effect field in their ship. Arina, element zero is the foundation of galactic civilization, if they do not use it... If the Turians knew this!"

"Then those many loose threads are starting to make sense and we now have a story worth the Beacon Prize!"

The Salarian's enthusiasm seemed to fade away.

"That was not my primary assessment but-" he turned back at the displays. "They are hailing us. Audio only."

"Quick. Put them through!" Arina demanded.

"This is Captain John Sheridan of the United Systems Federation starship Starkiller. We are peaceful explorers. Our ship was attacked days ago by a fleet utilizing a technology base similar to yours. Please, state your intentions."

"Arina, this is a truly significant first contact situation and given their seeming lack of element zero don't you think we should report this to the Council and have them send a real first contact team?"

"And lose this story?" She did not wait for an answer. "We just stumbled upon the biggest mess made by the Turians here and I'm going to blow the whistle."

She opened the channel.

"This is Arina S'Lenn, a reporter for the Citadel News Network. I would like to ask you a feel questions and tell your story to the galaxy if you let us."

USS Starkiller

Hours later, they were here.

This ship clearly took a beating. Arina could see it. As this alien, this Human, escorted them through the ship, she could see people working around, repairing the bulkheads and the conduits.

The whole crew was there. Docking the Storyteller on their docking bay was one of the conditions set by Captain Sheridan. Mivam protested, of course, but Arina decided to take the risk. While Zantor and Veetor took pictures and filmed everything and Mivam just walked by with his Salarian eyes surely taking more than the camera ever could, Arina was making questions at their designated escort, Lieutenant Valdez.

About Lieutenant Valdez... Now, this was a fine specimen of alien male. She and her crew were all surprised by the fact that these Humans looked so close to Asari, especially the females. If someone had shown Arina a picture, she would have thought they were just one more of the many typical asaroid aliens that were so ubiquitous in pre-spaceflight Thessian science fiction. Some of them looked like the product of the perverted mind of a young, hormonal Asari maiden. That is the males for you, everything about them was alluring in a primal way.

Was this how other species felt about the Asari? She couldn't know. The others did not seem affected at all, with only Veetor seemingly taking a few curious glances at some Human females. Still, Arina couldn't actually know, given his face covered by his suit.

"Ms. S'Lenn?" Lieutenant Valdez called, catching her attention, his smirk very recognizable to her. He knew exactly the effect he was having. This Goddess-damned Human.

"I am sorry, Lieutenant," she apologized. "I was just thinking about what you were saying. To think you have been to space for four hundred years without discovering mass effect..."

"It is really unusual," Mivam finally spoke. "You told us some of your history and allowed us to see the damage the Turians made. But you still seem somewhat sketchy on the information you are willing to provide."

"Pardon my friend," Veetor said before anyone could respond. "Salarians basically run on information, their fast thought process makes them easily bored."

"I understand, Mr...?"

"Veetor'Rohar nar Vuuwa," he provided. "I understand it was difficult for you to remember. Just Veetor is fine."

"Well, Veetor. As I was about to explain to your friend here, the Captain authorized us to reveal all information regarding the Turian attack and to give some context about us. As for the rest, we are not sure yet. That is why we are also reviewing everything you record here, for security reasons."

"We understand," Arina jumped in. "You already took a big step by trusting us. The Turians made a great mess here and we intend to expose it."

"This one agrees," Zantor continued. "Humans did activate dormant relays, but this one thinks no one would believe the Turians were in the right. You did not even know the law existed. They should have been more diplomatic and polite."

"Tell that to the Saxony," Valdez said.

"Don't expect such rational thinking from the Council, Lieutenant," Veetor said, which garnered him a glare from Arina

"Well, now we are going to the main Sickbay," Valdez said. "Many people died during the engagement with the Turians, and even more were injured."

"I am sorry for your loss," Veetor said. "My people have been living with low-immunity for generations. Any injury or microbe could kill us. We know loss."

"Is that the reason why you use this suit?" Valdez asked to which Veetor confirmed. "Well, I would need to talk to the Captain about this, but maybe we could run some analyses if you would allow us. Our medical technology is quite advanced. If there is a chance we could help you and your people..."

Veetor stopped in his tracks. He was in pilgrimage. He knew he would have to bring something useful back to his people. The very thought of what Lieutenant Valdez was offering...

"Thank you, Lieutenant Valdez," he finally said. "I really appreciate that."

"That is all good," Arina finally said. "But you think you could show us the footage you were talking about? The ones from the battle?"

"We are gathering them for you," Valdez responded. "Not only the visual data but some of our scans from the Turian ships too, to attest to the veracity of them."

Arina nodded. She could already see herself at the awarding ceremony, the Beacon Prize is already hers. Then, her thoughts were interrupted by Lieutenant Valdez comm badge.

"Valdez," he answered.

"The Captain is ready for them. He wants you to bring the visitors to the Conference Lounge."

"On our way," he replied.

Arina and her crew followed him to the turbolift.

Horse Head Nebula
South of the ruins of Chang'an

Desolas fidgeted the stone of his necklace. On the horizon, surrounding a crater, he could see the twisted metal and broken towers of what was once the biggest city on this planet.

Maybe he overdid it, it does not matter. The planet was finally secured. The last Human stronghold surrounded.

Desolas did not want to simply level the mountain. He knew the planet's leadership would be there. For the first time since he arrived in this system, he sent a message to them.


They had no way to escape.

"It looks like home," he heard an animalistic voice speak behind him.

As he looked, back, Desolas could see the large frame of Kursan Malgrax. The Krogan was a mercenary, a pale excuse of sentient being if you asked Desolas, but still a formidable warrior. As such, perfect for his training program.

He had been working for Desolas for some years now. Many Turians would come out of his training sessions directly into the medical bays, but others would come out stronger and fiercer. It was an unorthodox method, he recognized that and the other generals frowned upon it.

Desolas just couldn't care less. Soon, he would be a Primarch and his vision for the future of the Hierarchy would be on the table.

"It is sad you kept me jailed in that ship when I could be here blooding these Humans," Kursan said. "It would have taken much less time to secure this world."

"There are some Humans still hiding in the rural areas, mounting guerrillas. Maybe I could let you loose in a forest or by a mountain, to sharpen your hunting instincts."

"General Arterius," a Turian approached until he saw the Krogan beside Desolas. His expression went blank, regal in a way as if trying to show he was better than the Krogan.

"What is it?"

"We have finished checking the prisoners for artificials among them. According to the reports we received, Camp Zero has encountered three hundred and two, all have already been executed. Camp One and Camp Two have separated their artificials and waiting for you to confirm your orders."

"What is it that needs confirmation?" Desolas asked, indignant. "I ordered the execution of all artificials, confirm this!"

The Turian soldier nodded.

"As for here, sir, we found five-hundred and twenty-nine artificials. They are being prepared for execution."

"Good," Desolas said. "I want the recorders on. After all this, we will show the galaxy what abominations these Humans had been harboring among them."

They walked to the concentration installation. Through the fences, he could see the artificials. They looked Human in every aspect, even age. He could see children, adults, elders, even babies. The way they imitated real life was sickening for Desolas to watch.

He ordered his soldiers to start bringing them. A number were put lined side by side with their backs to a wall. The firing squad prepared their weapons. With a single order, their guns fired rounds at the AIs. Desolas saw as the blasts would tear chunks of their holographic bodies. An arm here, a shoulder there, they would break off the body like glass before shattering and disappearing away. Finally, a round would hit their emitter at the center of their chests, making them scream in pain and shatter into a million pieces that just disappeared into the air.

Then the next group was lined there, and the next, and the next.

Desolas could see the doubt showing on the face of some of his men. As a small, crying child-like artificial held onto the arm of the larger one by its side as it exploded into a million fading pieces, the small artificial not living much longer, he could see the disgust some of his men tried to hide.

It was weakness he could not tolerate. It would start if this world, and then he would purge it from his people.

"General Arterius!" One of his commanding officers called. "We received an alert from Executor Trallus. The relay has activated!"

"They are here," Desolas said to himself. He looked at the prisoners, fidgeting the stone of his necklace violently. The whispers growing louder.

Until they felt like a swarm.

Orbit of Shanxi
Turian dreadnought Spirits of Retribution

"Executor Trallus, the relay is activating!"

"Is it Victus?" He asked.

"No, sir, he is due to arrive in two days."

"Sound the alerts! Warn General Arterius back on the planet!" Trallus ordered. "I want all the fleet converging its weapons to the relay. Fire at any ship that comes through!"

They were here. General Arterius knew they would come. But they will find a fleet of almost seven hundred Turian warships. Luckily, the relay was just below one light second away, allowing their sensors to follow the enemy almost real-time.

"They are coming through. Fifteen, twenty, thirty, fifty ships, unknown configurations. Frigate sized."

"Destroy them!" He ordered.

Trallus saw as the small ships flew in their direction at impossible speeds, evading the fire from his fleet.

"Spirits! They move like fighters," he heard one of his officers say.

"Tactical analysis," he ordered.

"They are three different classes, ranging between 150 and 200 meters of length," the displays projected three images representing the three ship classes the enemy had. Two looked somewhat similar, with a flat frame. The other looked like a stylized metallic boat with two wings in its rear sides. "They are capable of impossible speeds and their beam weapons and torpedoes are proving to be as formidable as the ones we fought days ago."

"Executor, they are approaching the dreadnoughts at high speeds."

"Are they mad!?" Trallus asked. It is widely known that anyone who engaged a dreadnought without one of their on was just insane. "Use GARDIAN lasers, try to blast them away."

"No effect, sir. The activated their barriers!"

Trallus saw as the tiny ships harassed the Raptor's Shadow, their beams burning chunks of the dreadnought ablative armor.

"Order the fleet to converge around the dreadnoughts!" He ordered. It was no good watching the relay. If they were insane enough to face three dreadnoughts with small frigates, they were surely desperate and only had small- to medium-sized ships.

His mood was lifted a bit as he saw one of the small ships being knocked off course by a mass accelerator round being torn apart by a disruptor torpedo.

"Sir, the relay is activating again! Twenty, fifty, seventy, one hundred and ten, they are still coming! Tens of different classes!"

Trallus cursed the spirits under his breath. He looked at the displays as the ships decelerated by the relay. It was a large fleet, hundreds of ships.

Then, the last four ships arrived and Trallus cursed out and loud.

They were dreadnoughts.

Jupiter-class carrier USS Midway

Knowing that her plan had worked put a smile on Admiral Kastanie Drescher's face.

In order not to risk a catastrophic explosion, they had to deactivate most of their defenses before traveling through a relay, a problem Starfleet still had no solution for. With no intelligence on the other side and with their shields down, it could be disastrous to jump.

To account for this, she decided to send a first wave of Sao Paulo- and Saber-class tactical escorts and Asgardian Garm-class battle skiffs. Being small, fast, and highly maneuverable, they would be able to quickly get out of the relay's interference field and raise their shields.

Their mission was to transmit constant positioning data on the enemy ships back to the relay and harass them out of way for the fleet to come through.

It worked like a well-tuned replicator.

As her 1466 meter-long ship drop of FTL, she started working.

"Status!" She ordered as she looked at the battle being displayed on the tactical display table in front of her.

"All the fleet has come through. All fleet movements are being coordinated from here. We lost five ships from the escort wing sent beforehand. Their tactical analysis of the enemy ships was already relayed to the rest of the fleet. Their hull is made of a composite tungsten-titanium armor that is denser than usual. Mass accelerator weapons, lasers, and mass effect torpedoes. The ships are surrounded by mass effect fields that seem to be their version of energy shields but can only block fast-moving matter, not energy."

"Couldn't we beam a torpedo into their ships or even simple antimatter?" Captain Wong asked.

"No. Their mass effect barriers are messing with our locking sensors, we would need a very clear sight or drop their shields to beam anything in or out."

"Couldn't we set the annular confinement beam to a very narrow width to penetrate their shielding?" Another officer asked.

"No, it may allow us to send most things in, but any unstable substance such as antimatter would be impractical."

"Well, it seems we will have to fight the old way," Admiral Drescher said. "Order the Carthage, the Lisbon, and the Tokugawa to keep their position close to us, we will coordinate the fleet from here. And I want the ASV Niflheim to do the same."

Being one Vengeance-class and two Odyssey-class starships, those are the most powerful ships in their fleet alongside the Midway. As for the Niflheim, it was carrying the main contingent of Asgardian troops.

"Divide the rest of the fleet into four groups," she continued. "We will trim down their numbers, surround them."

She saw as a 600 meter-long Asgardian Jormungand-class war cruiser evaded enemy fire before blowing it up with a few well-placed plasma blasts.

"Captain, I'm detecting Human lifesigns in the biggest ship"

Captain Yang turned to the officer, who gave her a padd.

"Fifty-seven Human lifesigns," she said to herself. "You said a narrow confinement beam would not be practical to sent explosives in, but what about people, what about armed MACOs."

"Any idea worth sharing, Wong?" Admiral Drescher asked.

"Admiral, look. We have fifty-seven Human lifesigns. But these three here are wearing Starfleet comm badges. The badges are emergency beacons, we could lock onto their signal to allow a very narrow annular confinement beam to bypass their mass effect barrier and send infiltration teams to that ship."

"Can it be done?" Drescher asked the science officer, who nodded in affirmation. "Ok, then. I want a full scan of the largest ship, try mapping it the best you can. The mission is to drop their shields from the inside for us to beam those prisoners to safety. We will send MACO teams-"

"Uh, Admiral," she was interrupted by the science officer. "One of the comm badges, it is Captain Svendsen's."

"Ok..." she finally said. "Contact the Niflheim, then. Tell General Hjort to choose a team to participate in this mission, I won't hear the end of it if we don't include them."

Somewhere in the Horse Head Nebula
USS Starkiller

"Are you sure it would be safe, Doctor Vargas," Veetor asked the chief medical officer of the Starkiller as he and other doctors scanned him with medical tricorders.

"You can trust us, Mr. nar Vuuwa. Human medical technology is very advanced."

"You said your species has changed a lot because of it," Veetor commented.

"Yes, if you compare us with the Humans from, say, five hundred years ago, we changed a lot," Doctor Vargas explained. "We used to live eighty, ninety years, and entered the elderly stage of our lives at sixty. Now, we all expect to live two-hundred years and age slower as well. I'm ninety-two, but probably look like a man in the late thirties would in the 21st century."

He took a different medical scanner.

"Also, we are healthier than early Humans too," he continued. "We are slightly stronger, more intelligent. We are not different enough to be considered augmented in any way, only at the peak if you know what I mean."

"I have never seen a dextro-amino organism before," Lieutenant Rizzo said as she looked at the scans she got. "So fascinating!"

"We and the Turians, the ones that attacked you, are the only ones we know of," Veetor said.

"You said your species' immune system is weak because of the unique conditions of your world and the hundreds of years in the Migrant Fleet," Rizzo expressed his thoughts. "Maybe we could develop a type of medi-gel specific to Quarians, it wouldn't be a solution but it should be a life-saving tool in many situations, and medi-gel is one of the technologies we are allowed to share."

Doctor Vargas nodded in agreement.

"But why did you rule out our idea to create a mechanosomatic system similar to ours to boost your immunity?" Rizzon continued. "We have had it for centuries, it is such a part of us now that we are even born with our nanites."

Veetor shivered. Doctor Vargas had explained to him how all Humans were born with mechanosomes, bio-mechanical nanites that lived within their cells. He explained how they were mostly like any other organelle and benefited their hosts so much.


"We lost our home to machines, Lieutenant, to AI," Veetor said, his tone betraying his sorrow. "Quarians do not trust machines that we cannot turn off, especially not inside our own bodies."

"I'm sorry," Rizzo apologized.

"Luckily, we haven't had the same tragic experience with AI," Doctor Vargas said. "Ours are people just like everybody else."

That startled Veetor.

"You have AI!?" He inquired.

"Yes," Rizzo answered. "I think we have, like, four or five Virtuans among our crew. Don't know exactly. No need to worry, though. We have been living together in harmony for centuries."

That surprised Veetor, his first thought was to hop on the Storyteller and leave this ship at this instant. Still, hundreds of years? How could they have self-aware AI for so long?

"These Virtuans, you built them for what kind of labor? Factory? Domestic?"

"Built?" Doctor Vargas said. "They are not built, they are born. Actually, we didn't even create them, we took them in. They evolved in our computer network, just as without purpose as organic life."

The Doctor laughed to his own joke.

Still, Veetor couldn't believe what he was hearing. He understood the logic in it, but most of his people probably would not. Keelah, the galaxy would not! The Council would certainly demand them to shut down their AIs.

And if what Doctor Vargas and Lieutenant Rizzo were saying is true, he does not think the Humans would follow this demand.

Sol Cluster
New York City

With the always busy traffic flying in lines throughout the city that never sleeps, Vice-President Morgan Clark stood by the large window of his apartment. Observing as the people walked around Rockefeller Park and the sunset rolled over New Jersey, he could not stop thinking about how much he hated that title. Vice-President. It signaled to the world that he was the 'always in sidelines', the 'always second-place'. That he was the 'always President-to-be'.

He smiled to himself. This little problem would be dealt with soon.

As the door beeped, signaling that he has visitors, Clark tapped the window and it became opaque as the virtual curtains were closed.

He opened the door and Alfred Bester entered.

"You bring good news, I suppose," he said as he invited the Starfleet Intelligence officer to sit on the couch.

"You suppose right, Mr. Vice-President," Bester said the last part knowing it would annoy Clark. "The earliest footages of the battle for Shanxi's orbital superiority are already in. ISN, UNS, the Asgardian Herald, BBC, they are all expected to report on it this evening."

"Good," Clark said as he sat on the couch opposite to Bester.

"We also received the earliest reports on the alien invaders," Bester continued. "Not First Ones, of that we can be sure. Very combative, no doubt, but primitive in every other aspect. Weaponry and tactical capabilities below even the other races we know, they don't even use any energy weapon more powerful than low-energy lasers. Though, it must be noted that their maneuverability and shipbuilding materials are superior to everyone except us and maybe the Minbari and the Centauri."

Clark snorted.

"It seems our main concerns were unfounded," he said, to which Bester nodded. "We thought this war would be a problem but now that we have new information coming to light, I think it can be an asset."

"You intend on using it to weaken Santiago's popularity."

"It is already weakened," Clark replied. "Out of his control or not, he promised the electorate peace in our time and more cooperation with the aliens, not another conflict. The waste that was the Minbari conflict was still fresh in their minds."

Bester nodded in understanding.

"No," Clark continued. "I intend on using this conflict to not only destroy him for not doing what he promised to but for trying to do exactly that. Now that he knows the aliens are not almighty First Ones but some primitives who got lucky and caught us unguarded, he will push for a quick resolution of the conflict. He will make peace with the aliens to prevent a larger war and the people will hate him for doing exactly what he promised he would."

"Wouldn't it hurt your image too?" Bester asked.

"There are some perks in being Vice-President, the second best. I kept myself to the sidelines, not in any way remarkable in the eyes of the people. They only know that I held pro-Human opinions for years and that our alliance with Santiago was more of a peace deal within the political scene. When Santiago goes down, and he is digging his grave deeper and deeper, then it will be my turn."

He walked to the stand and took a bottle of bourbon, pouring its content into a glass and taking a large gulp.

"What about our other operations?" He asked Bester.

"Our man will arrive in Babylon 5 today, he has been ordered to observe until we settle this conflict in Shanxi. After we solve this, he can go forward and meet the ambassadors. This is one of the requests made by our associates in exchange for their support. They have the tendency to become... impatient, but our liaison to them knows very well how to deal with their overzealousness."

"I don't like them, our allies," Clark spat the last word and took another gulp. "But they have their uses. In the end, we will deal with them too. Only Humanity matters."

He filled his glass again.

"Is everything ready for the presidential visit to Pandora?" He finally asked.

Bester nodded.

"Good," Clark said. "This will be the end of the first act, Bester. Many are already tired of this government's perceived passiveness against alien threats. Something new must rise from this and it will come up to the stage with the final act of President Luis Santiago."

Somewhere in the Horse Head Nebula
USS Starkiller

Arina looked around the dark officer quarters, only the light from a distant star coming through the viewport. Laid on the bed beside her was that sinful Human she had not been able to take her eyes of. She just could not resist him and now she was here.

Everything about him was alluring. The shape of his face, his bare, muscled torso. Even the hair, as strange as it may sound. In the end, she was relieved that their anatomical similarities are more than superficial. It was amazing. At the same time, it was frightening. That is how other species felt about the Asari, not the other way around.

Arina sighed. She got out of the bed to the odd alcove in the wall, a magical device that Lieutenant Valdez taught her how to use and would make Mivam salivate if he knew about it.

"Water, cold," she ordered and a cup of crystal-clear liquid was materialized out of thin air.

She sat by the table and kept looking at the alien sleeping semi-naked on the bed. She remembered when they talked about their respective species, his curiosity about how could they live so long actually. Then she mentioned their ability to mind-meld, something unique and that filled all Asari with immense pride. She even offered to meld with him.

Then he shattered her bubble when he told her he knew of species with telepathic abilities as he put it, and revealed that Human minds are immune to external intrusion.

Arina was skeptical, of course. Melding was something unique, something powerful. It was something only Asari had. The revelation that it was not that uncommon rocked her.

Then, during their love-making, he was proved right. During the ecstasy of the moment, she lost control and her body initiated the melding process. It would use his genetic code and mental make-up to randomize her on in order to conceive a new Asari.

But the melding could not be completed. It was as if Lieutenant Valdez's mind was too slippery for hers to grab onto. He seemed to notice her attempt too, to which she apologized.

Now she was here, looking at this alien that seemed to have been made specifically for Asari to find irresistible, while at the same time being the only species in the galaxy with whom they cannot mate.

The Goddess surely has a sense of humor.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the beep coming from the door, signaling that someone was there.

"Just a moment," Arina heard Lieutenant Valdez respond half awake.

He got off the bed and put his uniform on before going to the door and opening it. He was met by Lieutenant Regina Shepard, whom he had presented to her previously as a close friend. The woman's eyes widened when she saw Arina sitting by the table, then she sighed in annoyance, her expression making clear to Arina that she expected this to happen.

"It's time," Lieutenant Shepard said. "We finished reviewing all of your recordings for any classified information or unwanted scans. All clear."

"Well," Arina said, as she threw the robe she was wearing on the bed and started dressing back to her original clothes. "It's been a pleasure."

She pulled Lieutenant Valdez for a last, passionate kiss and walked out of his quarters.

Orbit of Shanxi

Another Turian cruiser exploded an Asgardian war cruiser blasted its rear half with a well-aimed plasma torpedo. The golden and bronze ship sped forward towards the next enemy when a mass accelerator barrage impacted its shields. However, before disruptor torpedoes could impact at them, crimson-colored beams of energy intercepted and destroyed the warheads, the Regent-class starship destroying them by slicing through the enemy vessels with phaser fire like a knife through butter.

Two escort wings passed by them at high speed when they started firing their phaser cannons at the enemies.

Two starships passed through the debris, the Armitage- and Vesta-class vessels firing a spread of photon torpedoes at the enemy formation.

Spirits of Retribution

They were at the same cell again. By looking at Alaric, Vinicius could see how this all was taking a toll on them. The prince's normally perfect face and body were a mess. He had bruises all over his once toned arms and legs. The man was built like a bull, but now he looked almost fragile.

Vinicius could see that these aliens, these Turians, had been trying to stick to any rules on the treatment of prisoners of war they may have, but their patience was waning. They were escalating their methods gradually, and finally, they reached the physical violence phase.

Alaric's eyes opened and he shot up from where he was laying down. The bright blue eyes Vinicius was reluctantly starting to appreciate were now tired and in pain.

"They brought more prisoners", Vinicius finally spoke, "Civilians. Surely they have secured their position on Shanxi."

"How many," Alaric asked.

"A few dozen, I heard the guards commenting."

Alaric nodded. They couldn't know how many days had actually passed, their internal clocks all messed up by now.

"Do you think Starfleet is coming soon?" He finally asked.

Vinicius sighed.

"I don't know. Time is somewhat meaningless now. We could have been here for a few days, or a few weeks."

Alaric and Vinicius shot up from the floor they were sitting on when they saw those characteristic shimmering lights accompanied by a familiar buzzing sound.

In a few seconds, a group of fully equipped MACOs and Asgardian soldiers appeared all around the brig and killed the surprised Turians guarding them.

"Identity confirmed," one of the MACOs said as he approached with a tricorder in hand. "Captain Alaric Baldur Dievan Svendsen and Lieutenant Vinicius Bergantino Diniz."

"Ensign Trevor Jay Yang, here," other MACO said from a cell a few meters away.

"Good to see you're safe, Your Highness," the leader of the Asgardian group approached their cell. He swung his sword violently. In a white flash, it cut through the bars. "Starfleet and the Guard are now fighting the aliens, we brought troops to liberate the planet."

The alarms fired. The Asgardian gave Alaric a sword and a shield, while Vinicius got a pair of pistols from the MACOS. They got personal shields.

"Our badges have been analyzing the Turian language, should be transmitting translation data to you right now," Alaric said as he started cutting the bars of the other cells to free the prisoners. "This ship is the commanding center of the Turian invasion. Their highest-ranking officers are coordinating their forces from here."

"Our mission is to drop their shields," Captain Harper, the leading MACO, explained. "We will divide into six groups and drop small transporter beacons throughout the ship to bring reinforcements and overwhelm their forces. We won't be able to beam anyone out until we manage to drop the shields."

"Ok," Vinicius said. "I will go with this MACO detachment."

"No," Alaric stated as he grabbed Vinicius' arm, "You come with us."

Vinicius had no energy to argue. So, he just accepted it.

The five groups spread throughout the ship.

In the dreadnought's command center, Executor Trallus saw as the Raptor's Shadow exploded under the fire of a Human ship a third of its size. The Humans attacked with overwhelming force. Even if they were outnumbered two-to-one, the ships they brought were much larger and more powerful than the ones Trallus saw before, and they came prepared. Half of his fleet has already been destroyed or heavily damaged and the enemy was almost unharmed.

"Executor, we have been infiltrated!" One of his offices reported.

"How is that possible?" Trallus question as he looked at the displays showing his forces fighting Human infiltrators in five different locations. "Have we detected any hull breaches? Any infiltration darts?"

"No, sir. We are far removed from the larger battle. No enemy ships nearby."

"Send teams to these locations, I want them contained-" Trallus stopped in his tracks when he saw through the displays as new Humans materialized in columns of light. "What-?"

"Sir, they are now twelve groups throughout the ship!"

"New infiltration groups are being reported all over the ship, we are being overwhelmed!" Another officer reported.

"I want them killed, I want them dead!"

Trallus rant was interrupted by a loud explosion. The command center's doors were blasted from the outside, bright orange energy blasts firing from the smoke at the officers and guards on the room before armed Humans wearing blue battle armor walked in.

The remaining guards jumped to take cover behind the display table and so did Trallus, who took his handgun and fired.

They exchanged fire for a moment before a Human threw a grenade at them. Trallus jumped off the cover as one of his men jumped on the grenade and exploded, sending Trallus flying onto one of his many consoles.

"Stay down," a voice spoke in perfect Cipritinic Turian and Trallus lifted his head to see who seemed to be leading the Humans holding a pistol to his head. The Human smirked, his facial expressions so similar to Asari that Trallus was certain he could read them. "Pleasure to meet you. I assume you are the commanding officer of this ship. I'm Captain Jack Harper and I'll need your help with something."

USS Midway
Conference Lounge

Admiral Drescher looked at the holograms being displayed on the table. All the command personnel on the fleet was present around the table, be it in person or through holo-conference.

They won.

They destroyed two of the invaders' dreadnoughts and captured the third and largest one, which was also their command center. The more than fifty Humans onboard were already beamed in and are being treated on the large sickbays of the Midway and the Lisbon. Meanwhile, the alien fleet was in shambles. Of the 600+ enemy ships, five hundred were destroyed, about one hundred and sixty were dead in the water, and the remaining few dozens managed to escape.

"We could assess that their FTL drive works in the same principle theorized by professor Jonathan Wu. They lower the mass of the ship enough for it to reach faster-than-light speeds with just their sublight engines." Lieutenant Angelidis reported. "Now, that is fascinating and all but it brought up a problem. We know that mass effect fields and our subspace sensors don't interact too well, which is something we are working on. The issue is, a ship that weighs almost nothing, encased in a mass effect field, and traveling at many times the speed of light has proven trick, if not impossible to detect."

"We already have a team working on it," Lieutenant Hawk said. "Some theories have been developed and we are confident we will find a way to detect their ships at FTL speeds."

"Not all bad news, though," Angelidis continued. "During the battle, we couldn't detect any subspace or tachyon emissions and the Turian reaction time was lacking, to say the least. That has led us to believe they have no faster-than-light scanning capability."

"No FTL sensors?" Captain McCallister questioned. "How could they have FTL travel and comms but no sensors?"

"Actually we are not absolutely sure they are limited to sublight in this aspect, they could be using a different method we don't know of. However, that coupled with their tactics and reactions seems to lead to that conclusion."

"What about the remaining leadership in Nanto?" Admiral Drescher asked. "Have we been able to contact them?

"Yes, ma'am, we managed to establish contact and they relayed us all information they have on the invaders."

Admiral Drescher took the padd from Angelidis' hand.

"So the bastards call themselves Turians," she murmured. "They leveled Chang'an, made millions their prisoners, and are executing every Virtuan they find."

"Now, I take offense on this," Captain Yang commented, herself a Virtuan despite being raised in Xiangbala by his organic father. "They made a mess down there. If I know the media, they will be reporting on the battle before the end of the day. There are already people calling for us to seek these Turians to their worlds and they don't even know what is happening here."

Drescher sighed.

"Those may be a minority but they can be very loud," she sighed. "It seems the Turian air strike assets were based on orbit, not on the ground so they are basically defenseless. I want Valkyrie wings striking those improvised airstrips."

"The plans have already been relayed to all commanding officers on the fleet," Captain Yang continued. Now that we have orbital superiority, we are prepared to land our troops. The Asgardians will go first and strike the Turians in Alicante and south of Chang'an, or what is left of it."

"We are prepared," General Eric Hjork stated.

"Good. Let Pinghai, Konoha, and the smaller settlements to us. We will surround their positions and overwhelm them while we beam the prisoners to the hospital vessels."

As the meeting ended, some of the officers present stood up and left to their respective ships, the ones present by holo-conference disappearing from their chairs. Only the ones serving in the Midway remained.

Drescher looked at the large viewport. The ASV Niflheim, the command ship to the Asgardian contingent in the system, remained in stationary orbit over the planet. She saw as a bright rainbow-like beam of energy was shot by the lower half of the ship onto the planet. It was something she had read about, though it had been unused since the Colonial Wars. It was a unique piece of Asgardian technology, a teleporter beam capable of transporting troops up and down in a constant flow. Starfleet doesn't use it for its limitations. The beam is power-hungry, unable to bypass physical obstacles such as walls and is completely lacking in subtlety. Admittedly, its intended function was more of an intimidation tool than anything. Still, it was a beautiful sight.

"It's so pretty," Drescher heard Lieutenant Angelidis break the silence. "Sorry, Admiral. I just have never seen an Asgardian Bifrost beam before."

Admiral Drescher said nothing, Hjort was deploying his troops, as planned. They must do the same.

She ordered Captain Yang to initiate their task and then turned back to the viewport, the multicolored beam still connected to the ground.

Beautiful, indeed.

South to the ruins of Chang'an

Colux looked to the landscape in front of him, walking around with his mass accelerator rifle to fire at any enemy that dared to invade the perimeter he was responsible for. He knew the fleet was fighting the enemy in orbit but that information came hours ago, no update from the command yet. As such, the orders given to him and his comrades remained the same. Guard the perimeter.

Yet, he could not ignore the rough terrain that was once a beautiful prairie nor the twisted ruins of what was once a beautiful city.

He knew it was. He saw it. He also saw how it was burned to the ground in a fraction of a second. The city was not intact even then, having been lightly bombard prior to its demise, but it still retained its shape.

Then, in a fraction of a second, it was as if several burning stars had fallen from the sky. The ground trembled violently, the shockwave almost knocked Colux to the ground. Then the city was not there anymore, only twisted husks.

He thought General Arterius had gone mad, not that he would ever say it out loud. It was not his place to question his commanding officer's decisions. Still, such death for a simple mistake. For the breaking of a law that was not even known by the perpetrator.

Was it fair? He thought just to himself since he would not dare to say it out loud.

Suddenly, a flash of light blinded Colux and the ground trembled. His vision blurred and focused again and he saw a large multicolored vortex that was descending from the clouds and touching the ground, emanating a thick, white mist.

In a fraction of a second, armed Humans started pouring from the vortex, flashes of white and gold followed by Colux's startled comrades falling to the ground.

When he came from his stupor he felt as another Turian fell onto him. He prepared to stand and fight those who dared to attack his comrades when he felt a cold, sharp object touching his throat.

Colux looked up and, for the first time, he could actually pay attention to his enemy. The Human wore a primitive-looking, bronze- and golden-colored armor and a helmet ornate with what looked like horns. The Turian tried the best to look around without moving his head and saw the others all wore variations of the same, some with what looked like wings rather than horns on their helmets.

Colux felt rage, his people all around were either dead or at the point of a blade. He noticed that all of them had either a golden spear or a sword and a shield. He was being held back himself by this alien pointing his spear at his neck. To be held back, to be defeated by such primitive weapons!

His enraged thoughts were interrupted by another Turian a few meters away whom he thought was dead. He pulled a gun out of nowhere and charged against one of the enemies. For a moment, Colux believed it would have the expected effect, yet, in a fraction of a second, his thoughts were proven wrong when the gunshot was surprisingly stopped by the primitive metallic shield held by the Human, who charged back with his sword.

The blade glowed bright white as he swung it and cut through the young Turian's armor like it was nothing. Colux only looked angry and terrified as another Human pointed his spear at the Turian on the ground, its golden spearhead glowing white before shooting some kind of energy blast, killing him for good.

Those were not primitive weapons. Those were insidious weapons, made to look primitive.

What new surprises were awaiting them?

Far away, Commander Vyrnnus saw as many bright vortexes of light descended from the sky. One more dirty trick the Humans had under their talons. He saw as Human soldiers emerged from the vortexes in large numbers, taking his men by surprise and overwhelming them.

"It seems you are going to see action in this world after all," Vyrnnus said to the Krogan beside him, his surprised expression soon replaced by a grunt of excitement.

They grabbed their weapon of choice hopped on one of the infantry vehicle carrying reinforcements to the outer perimeter, charging into the main battle.

He saw as these Humans, equipped differently from the ones they fought before, slashed through his loyal Turian soldiers. One slice from their swords or one blast from their spears was enough to kill an armored Turian. Meanwhile, their shields shimmered as they protected the enemy from mass accelerator fire, and Vyrnnus was sure by now their armor would not be less impressive, as primitive as they looked.

When their vehicles approached, Vyrnnus and Kursan jumped from them, the Krogan running into battle and slamming onto the Humans like pebbles. It was a sight that lifted up Vyrnnus mood a bit, but it did not last long.

Vyrnnus started to glow blue with biotic power. Turian biotics are uncommon and generally distrusted by the greater military. Still, Vyrnnus wanted to serve as any other Turian, so he resisted the pressure to join the Cabals instead.

He lifted his glowing-blue hands and a singularity formed above a group of Humans. Drawn by the gravitational pull, they were stuck together, suspended in the air, before Vyrnnus shred them apart by creating rapid shifting mass effect fields. Surprised by such ability they had never seen, the Humans changed to a more cautious stance

Meanwhile, as Kursan managed to kill a number of Humans, three of them approached from behind, the Krogan turning to face them and three spears piercing his stomach.

Kursan grunted in annoyance. He grabbed the spears and pushed forward, forcing the three Humans down by sheer force.

Suddenly, another Human came running from behind his comrades and jumped from the top of rock onto Kursan's face, using its own weight to bring the Krogan down with a large thud and slashing his head with his sword.

They were losing.

Vyrnnus saw as a flash of light brought a new multicolored vortex from the sky, this time falling over the prisoner camp visible at distance. Close by, the existing beams were still pouring Human soldiers.

Vyrnnus kept fighting, his biotic abilities eating up on his calories. He ripped a shield from the hands of a dead Human and charged, finding that it could indeed block their powerful energy weapons.

It was not enough.

Vyrnnus looked around. His comrades have fallen, their bodies scattered on the field. The prisoners were probably lost by now if the beam he saw was meant to transport them away.

He was one of the last standing. His energy drained by his biotics.

Luckily, General Arterius had left the complex earlier. Their leadership was intact.


This battle was lost.

Sol Cluster
Babylon 5

As Julian's transport docked by in the internal space lane, he could see the glistening city on through the viewscreens.

He took his bag and walked out of the transport to Customs.

"ID link," the Customs officer said.

"Of course," Julian smiled and passed his wrist on the scanner.

"This hasn't been updated in a while," the officer commented.

"I've been out of circulation. I spent the last feel years doing some exploration at the rim of known space."

"Did you find anything interesting?" The officer asked.

Julian frowned, considering the question for a second. Then, he turned his gaze back at the officer, an enigmatic smile came to his face.

"Yes," he answered.

"Well," the officer said. "Everything alright. Welcome to Babylon 5, Mr. Morden."