A/N: Finally, a new non-Naruto cross. With any luck, this will put life back into this particular one.
Anyway, your comments will tell me if this is a cross worth pursuing, so do please read and review, would you kindly?
And do keep it classy!
[Council Expeditionary Vessel CSV Book of Discovery]
The bridge of the Book of Discovery was abuzz with energy as the crew went to work. Data was calculated, checks were made, basically everyone triple-checked everything to prepare for the imminent jump through the relay. "Inputting mass and destination now, Captain," informed the Salarian navigator, looking towards an Asari with bright blue skin standing near the Turian pilot, "Sending!"
Captain Saria Rydia eyed the Mass Relay on her screen with no small amount of trepidation…this was the first time since the Rachni Wars and the fiasco with the Yahg that the Council decided to open a 'virgin' Mass Relay. She'd had to argue her blue ass in front of the Councilors for decades before she even got permission to come to this part of the galaxy, and the only reason they were able to get as far as they did was because Matriarch Lidanya sympathized with, and fought hard for their cause. It was decades of argument, but the Council finally tasked her to explore Sector X, a wide swath of unexplored space that was said to have been in a completely different galaxy.
To aid in her mission, while cutting down on costs, the Book of Discovery was retrofitted from a decommissioned Armali-class Heavy Frigate that had seen its fair share of combat during the Rachni Wars, and the subsequent Krogan Rebellions. Many of the ship's weapons systems were taken out to accommodate the things that would be needed for an expedition into the unknown, such as monitoring equipment and laboratories. That being said, the Discovery was still a warship at her core: while many of her guided missile and torpedo launchers were gutted, she still had her spinal-mounted mass driver, and mass accelerator turrets.
"Incoming transmission from the Bravery, Captain," declared the Asari communications officer.
Saria sighed, shaking her head in amusement. "Patch her through."
A small window opened at the corner of her screen, playing a video of an Asari sharing her exact facial features in real time. "This is it, sis," said the Asari on the small screen, exuberance in her smile, "All our years of pleading, and the Council finally gets back on the uma. Nervous?"
"As if you aren't, Scotia!" Saria fired back, "Are you ready for this?"
"You know I am," Scotia teased, "Somebody's gotta bring your ass out of the fire!"
"Don't forget that it's technically your ass too!"
Scotia scoffed. "Whatever sis, whatever! See you on the other side."
Captain Scotia Rydia was Saria's identical twin sister; both had served as Huntresses, doing a few tours during the later stages of the Rebellion before going through the Naval Academy to become captains. Neither of them were ever seen too far from each other, and she too shared in her sister's desire to explore the galaxy, and believed that bad experiences was no excuse to stop exploration. Both were equal in terms of intelligence and leadership, but opposite in the way they approached problem-solving: Saria favored grace, agility, and making enemies do the dirty work for her; Scotia was more upfront, powerful, and was not afraid to dirty her hands whenever necessary.
As Saria settled down in her captain's chair, she pressed a button on her omni-tool to a particular individual in engineering. "Tali, how's the engine looking?"
"It's looking good so far," came a filtered female voice, "I never thought I'd get a chance to work on an experimental engine."
Saria scoffed to herself. "Well don't get too excited. The Union already have reservations about letting Quarians anywhere near their stuff."
"I won't take anything, it's just that it's too hard to contain my excitement."
"Enjoy it while it lasts, because you can't take it with you," Saria reminded, "But if you do this, you and every Quarian crewmen we have could have their pilgrimages settled in an instant."
"The possibility of new home for my people, now that is something we all look forward to. We'll make sure the engine is working perfectly, Keelah Se'lai!"
Saria reclined back into her chair and thought back to the recruiting process. While much of the crew -and most certainly the Council!- had their reservations about including Quarians in the Initiative, there was no denying that their expertise in the engineering bay was matched only by the few Salarian engineers they managed to get. It was for this reason that she had Scotia reach out to her less-than-savory contacts in the underworld specifically to find a Quarian with ties to the Admiralty for a meet and greet. Granted, they hadn't been able to sell the idea completely, but they managed to get a few to come with; among them being Tali'Zorah vas Neema and Kal'Reegar, both of whom were on the Discovery. However, the Quarians weren't the only race that the sisters reached out to.
The door to the bridge opened, allowing a Krogan in red armor to enter. Speak of the Yakshi, Saria thought to herself. "Come for the view, Wrex?"
"Just making sure our benefactor doesn't get her head shot off," Wrex groused.
The Asari captain scoffed. The fact that Saria and Scotia were able to get as many Krogan as they did, even if it were a handful, was nothing short of a miracle. They'd arrived at Tuchanka just in time to assist and rescue the survivors of Jarrod's treachery, earning a modicum of their friendship and putting them in a more receptive mood. The invite into the Initiative for the survivors was initially a hard sell for Urdnot Wrex and Nakmor Morda, but both apparently came around after deciding that the benefits of starting all over in a different galaxy was well worth the risk.
Many were hesitant to induct the Krogan into the expedition, but most simply made their peace with it. The sisters were adamant on getting more muscle, and they would get it from wherever they could; with the exception of Batarians, of course. While Wrex and his remnants served on the Discovery, Morda and her clan worked on the Bravery.
"So how's our resident archaeologist handling herself?" Saria asked Wrex.
The Battlemaster shrugged his shoulders. "Still in her lab, last I saw," he answered matter-of-factly, "I guess the prospect of exploring a totally new galaxy has her babbling like the Maiden she is."
Liara T'Soni was an interesting Asari…daughter of a well-known Matriarch, with many degrees in archaeology, specifically dealing with the Protheans. Apparently, her theory on the fate of the Protheans had been the subject of ridicule due to her age. Saria was only able to enlist her on the expedition by personally speaking to her mother, Matriarch Benezia. "Well, with any luck, this expedition will open her eyes to a whole new world," Saria suggested.
"Not sure that's a good idea," Wrex cautioned, "Scientists like her will never let you hear the end of it."
The captain remained silent as she turned her focus onto the mass relay that the crews were sending data to. "We've got the coordinates and our mass sent to the relay. Anything you wanna say 'fore we go, Cap?"
Saria sat up from her chair, watching the assembly of the bridge crew turning to face her.
[Council Expeditionary Vessel CSV Book of Bravery]
Scotia listened in through her viewscreen, watching the subtle fidget in her sister's movements as she addressed the bridge of the Discovery. "We're all going into unknown territory through a relay that hasn't ever been opened before. The nearest Comm Buoy is just past Omega, which means we won't be able to call back to our families or even use the Extranet while we're out there. But if we succeed in colonizing a new world, we can prove to the Citadel that it's okay to explore again…that we can grow and adapt.
"All of you have been invited because you're the best: some of you are here for the chance of a fresh start, others are here to explore new worlds. This is our chance to make our mark in the history books; we cannot afford to have the wounds of the past influence what we do from this point on. If any of you feel that you can't work with your fellow crewmates, then we'll send you back to Omega so you can go home. Saria Rydia, out."
"Looks to me like your sister's made up her mind," said a flanged voice from behind her. Scotia turned in her chair to see a black-faced Turian in red and black armor standing off to her right, "Always good to see in a leader."
"Something we both share," answered Scotia, "So what brings our resident Spectre up here?"
"Just here for the view," answered the Turian, his green eyes on the screen.
While Council allowed for the expedition to happen, it was under the condition that they were to be overseen by a Spectre. It was a non-negotiable part of the deal to ensure that they would not be starting another Rachni War by mistake; to that end, each sister was assigned a Spectre as a minder. While Scotia and Saria had their reservations, Nihlus Kryik and Jondum Bau proved to be very capable agents that conducted themselves well enough during the trip to invite Krogan into the Initiative.
Feeling that there was enough time for final checks, Scotia opened her omni-tool. "How're the calibrations on the standard gear, Garrus?"
"Everything's good and ready," answered the Turian at the other end.
"Well don't over-calibrate the experimental stuff just yet," Scotia cautioned, "The manufacturers need to know what works and what doesn't."
"I'll try to hold it in."
Garrus Vakarian was a Turian officer that had more than a few problems. At the time she and Saria invited him into the Initiative, he was very close to getting booted out of C-SEC after arguing with Pallin one too many times. He wouldn't say exactly what he was arguing about with his boss, but it made it easier to recruit him. Aside from his detective skills, and the fact that he was known to tweak his gear obsessively, Garrus was a very accurate shot; enough that he was put in the Special Response team as a sniper.
Like the Book of Discovery, the Book of Bravery was also a retrofitted Armali-class that was a veteran of the same conflicts, only most of her armaments were replaced with experimental technologies and weapons to help protect her sister ship. This included stealth systems and an experimental spinal-mounted cannon that the Hierarchy wanted tested. She also had a compliment of shuttles to ferry landing parties to the surface for emergencies on the ground, making her the sword to the Discovery's shield.
"Captain, the relay is powering up!"
Scotia pressed a button on her arm rest, communicating with the rest of the ship. "Everyone, hang on to your seats, we're going through the relay!"
The sunlight shone brightly on the sands of Wildspire Waste, as the creatures of the desert went about their business. Herds of Apceros patrolling the sands for food and drink, while Vespoids looked for flowering plants and prey for their hive. However, those were not what Shepard was concerned with as she explored the desert while shouldering an Insect Glaive. She'd come out to the Waste on a mission to capture a Diablos alive for the scientists to study━as though her job weren't hard enough, it had to be a Black Diablos.
Still, it was well worth the compensation to go on the job; on top of the zenny she'd earn for the fight, she would get Black Diablos parts for later use. That, and it gave her a bit of catharsis from a week of finding no work.
"Something on your mind, meowster?" asked her palico.
"Just thinking about how we're gonna do the job, Norma," Shepard answered, running a free hand through shoulder-length, sanguine hair.
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll come up with something, nya," assured the felyne.
Shepard smiled gratefully at her smaller partner before tousling her hair. They would cross the bridge when they got there
After years of remaining silent on the issue of exploration, the Council tasked the Rydia twins Saria and Scotia to explore and settle in the region of space known only as Sector X. This project would be known as the "Athame Initiative."
To this end, the Rydia twins sought out candidates from every race: Salarian scientists, Asari Huntresses, even Quarian engineers have been approached and invited. Even Krogans have been invited, generating no shortage of controversy; to which the sisters defended by saying that every skill is needed.
While the Initiative is projected to be a one-way trip, it is speculated that another aim is to find a more reliable route to come to Sector X.