If anyone has noticed, I'm not the best writer, nor the fastest updater, but I do take pride in my ideas. So, I had another one, which I hope you all enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Halo or Mass Effect, though I enjoy both.
Nine years after the end of the Covenant War...
UEG Colony World Shanxi
UNSC destroyer Maelstrom
Commander Jack McCall stood upon the bridge of his ship and frowned. His destroyer, the UNSC Maelstrom, was the picture of discipline, the crew members all focused on their own respective tasks. Which was why one person there looked totally out of place.
"What the hell am I looking at, Doctor?"
The young woman he was addressing adjusted her glasses nervously at being talked to by the most important person on the ship. Doctor Lacy Stevens was a recently graduated student of the Luna Academy of Sciences, having gotten doctorates in the areas of language and alien physiology, which was one of the reasons she was on the ship.
At exactly 0814 hours two days before, a trading ship close to the recently colonized planet of Shanxi reported seeing an odd, yet massive device on the edge of the system. It didn't match any known designs for human, Separatist or Forerunner ships, so, immediately, it had been designated a civilian no-fly zone, and a UNSC ship was sent to pick up a team of scientists to study and identify if the device was hostile.
That ship never returned.
Hence, why his destroyer, the Maelstrom, was being sent to discover what had happened.
"It appears to be an alien device, Captain," Lacy said nervously, adjusting her glasses again. He gave a stern 'hmph', his fingers tapping out a tune on the rail like they did when he was agitated.
"Can you be any more specific?"
"Not until we can get over there and study it. If you'd allow us-"
"Not happening. The last team we sent to study it never came back, so you're staying put until further notice."
Dr. Stevens began to pout, but he honestly had more important things to worry about than her feelings. Something about this situation just didn't sit right with him.
"Status on reinforcements?" he asked.
"Four frigates and one Marathon will be here in forty minutes, followed by a larger fleet in three days," a crewmember replied, and his frown sunk lower.
Shanxi was a recently colonized world with only around eight hundred thousand settlers and one Marine base. It was surrounded by a ring of mineral-rich asteroids, hence why there were several mining stations among the debris.
Since the end of the Great War, the number of ships in the UNSC was at an all time low, therefore only one Frigate could be spared for orbital protection. That was the ship that had disappeared, and McCall didn't like it. Besides the fact that it left the colony almost defenseless, it was also unusual. No Covenant Loyalist activity had been detected out here, which was one of the reasons for such light defenses in the first place.
So why had the ship disappeared?
It was his strong suspicion that this tuning fork alien construct thing had something to do with it.
He had to admit that it was rather aesthetically pleasing. Two fifteen-kilometer long curved metal 'arms' surrounded two revolving, gyroscopic rings five-kilometers across. In the center was a blue glowing core of some unknown element. What was odd was that it was a 'cold' construct, meaning it didn't emit radiation or heat. Even Forerunner artifacts gave off some heat, which led him to believe that this was something else.
Hence why his ship had been sent here.
He swelled with just a hint of pride at being able to say that. His ship.
The UNSC Maelstrom was true to the old saying about destroyers, in it being able to 'outrun what it can't kill, kill what it can't outrun.' 2.5 meters of Titanium A battle armor stretched along it's hull, thicker than normal. It was equipped with Pillar of Autumn refits, namely it's reactor being far more powerful, with advanced cooling systems as well. Shields had become standard on most UNSC ships, and his was no exception. Thirty-eight oversized Archer Missile pods and twelve 50mm Autocannons dotted the hull, providing both enormous attack and defense power. Four Shiva nuclear missiles and one HAVOK nuclear mine were ready and waiting to be deployed. An oddity in the usual armament was the addition of three 15cm Mark 2488 Mass Drivers on the outer hull. The main armament consisted of two Series 8 Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, able to fire three shots each in a single charge.
In essence, his ship was kickass.
He frowned again. He had the nagging feeling that he'd learned to trust through years of combat. That sense that something was about to happen.
Near Mass Relay 314
General Desolas Arterius stood upon the bridge of his ship and frowned.
The Relay in front of him was supposed to be dormant. It wasn't anymore.
Two days previously, a standard patrol of one cruiser and four frigates had reported unusual activity near the Relay. An hour after that, one of the frigates appeared in council space, badly damaged with over half its crew, including the captain, missing or dead. The first officer, when questioned, said that an unidentified ship had appeared through the Relay. According to the law of the Citadel that no new Relays were to be activated, they fired on the ship.
Unfortunately, it hadn't gone down quietly.
It managed to destroy almost every ship in the patrol, including the cruiser, and crippled the last frigate before finally being taken out with a flurry of disruptor missiles. The odd thing was, no use of element zero was detected, in either the ship or its weapons.
The lieutenant was practically hysterical when he first reported it, talking about enormously powerful weapons and even some kind of shielding system that seemed to go far beyond kinetic barriers. Many of the older and more experienced turians, including himself, scoffed at the thought. A society that didn't even use Eezo couldn't possibly have developed something the Council had been trying to for millennia without success.
So, his fleet, consisting of three cruisers, three carriers, and six frigates, was being sent through. Another fleet, with a dreadnought, five cruisers, four carriers and nine frigates would follow through after a half hour.
"Contact all ships," he ordered. "Tell them to form up on me and prepare to enter the relay."
McCall looked over at his telemetry officer and raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"
"Something's happening with the construct, it appears to be powering up!"
He looked out at device, and indeed it was moving faster and glowing brighter.
"Orders, sir?" his second lieutenant asked. Everyone waited with bated breath as the Commander of the ship thought about what do to. Finally, he raised his head.
"Red alert," he said, turning around and sitting down in his chair. "All hands, bring the ship up to combat alert Beta. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill." He turned off the com and turned his head. "Dr. Stevens, I suggest you sit down and strap yourself in."
The pretty brunette was startled at being addressed directly, but sat down in a chair and did as he said.
The glow of the alien construct became brighter and brighter and the rings spun faster and faster until it was hard to look at.
"Shall I deploy light shielding, sir?" asked a chipper voice. The captain looked over at his AI, and nodded. Instantly, the room grew darker as the windows polarized.
"Thank you, Naruto," McCall said, rubbing his eyes.
"No problem!" said the Maelstrom's AI, a particularly upbeat one that took the form of a character from an old manga series. Blond hair, blue eyes, whisker marks, the whole package.
Yes, even the orange jumpsuit.
Looking away from the fashion monstrosity, Captain McCall peered out at the construct, which was still moving faster and faster. He unclipped his seatbelt and stood up, before wincing slightly.
"Are these pants too tight? If we're going into combat, I don't want them to get in the way," he said, stretching his legs.
Naruto looked over and smirked. "I don't think you should be worrying about your pants, Jack. But they do show off your backside, in case you were wondering."
McCall glared at the miniature construct with disapproval. "Just scan the thing, see if anything's changed," he said, frowning.
"Yes sir, Captain Tightpants."
"And enough of that!"
Naruto snickered and most of the crew tried to hide grins, but they all quieted down to focus on their tasks.
"Construct hasn't changed much, aside from glowing brighter and going faster. I think something's about to happen."
"Do you know what's going to happen?"
"I have an idea, and I don't think you're going to like it," Naruto said, crossing his arms with a frown. Jack raised an eyebrow at his serious tone.
"I think something's coming."
"Hm," Jack grunted noncommittally, but several of the crew noticed his fingers tapping faster.
"Sir!" came a panicked call from a crewmember. "Twelve ships have just come through the device!"
"No, they don't match any known ship classifications."
"Hail them, challenge and identification," he said after a moment. "I want to know exactly who we're dealing with."
General Arterius frowned as his fleet appeared through the relay into this unknown system. It was smaller than he expected, consisting of a small yellow sun, two gas giants, and one red planet, probably indicating high concentrations of iron. There were several artificial structures in the asteroid belt of the red planet.
"Sir, a ship has appeared and is attempting to hail us!"
"Put it on the tactical display."
A few seconds later, the bridge crew got it's first look at the alien ship.
"Spirits, what the hell is that?" Desolas muttered.
Covered in armor and bristling with weapons, the ship floated in space, like an ancient predator, waiting to pounce. It even looked menacing, like it had been made purely for war.
"Sir, that... ship... is hailing us," a crewman said nervously.
The turian general grunted. "Don't bother responding. These fools clearly have no respect for our laws, so we will show them proper manners."
"Sir," his first officer, Joran Pallis, interjected. "We must exercise caution. A single ship of a lighter class than this one managed to destroy or cripple five of ours. I don't think-"
"Do I pay you for your opinion?" the general snapped. "These primitives don't even use element zero, they won't be a threat. Nothing can stand before the might of the Turian Hierarchy!" He turned back to the display and pushed the com button. "All cruisers and frigates, prepare firing solutions. Carriers, disengage from combat and prepare to invade the planet."
Several growls of assent sounded throughout the bridge as engines flared across the fleet, bringing them closer to the enemy ship.
"They're not responding and are accelerating," Naruto said, crossing his arms. "Their power levels are increasing, Commander."
McCall frowned, and after a moment sat back in his chair. "Red alert. Bring the ship up to combat alert Alpha. Weapons hot, shields up. All hands, prepare for combat. Naruto, what sort of weapons do they have?"
"Looks like the three larger ships have spinal mass accelerators. They fire smaller projectiles than ours, but I think they go up to higher speeds, hence high payloads, so I wouldn't discount them out of hand. They and the smaller ships all have missile pods, plus some unusual weapons that look like laser turrets." Naruto said then his eyes widened. "Sir, they're firing!"
On the outside of the destroyer, massive jets fired, shoving the ship to the side, trying to push it out of the path of the shots. However, the last glanced off the Maelstrom's shields, shaking the ship slightly.
"Report!" the commander said.
"Shields at ninety-three percent," Naruto said. "Their weapons are pretty strong, I'll watch out for 'em."
"Status on MACs?"
"At 100% charge and holding, standard heavy shot in each."
"Then by all means, give our reply," McCall growled.
Naruto grinned. "With pleasure!"
Energy coalesced inside of the destroyer as the magnetic capacitors charged.
Then, the two MACs fired, a pair of six hundred ton slugs streaking away from the Maelstrom towards one of the larger targets, a cruiser.
The results couldn't have been more damaging.
The first shot struck the ship at an angle, lessening the overall damage. However, it still had enough momentum to completely shatter the kinetic barrier protecting the vulnerable hull. A millisecond later, the second round struck the bow of the frigate.
Later, when the footage of the battle was played at slower speeds, it would show that the hull of the cruiser literally rippled as the MAC round struck. The ship's ablative armor, designed to block GARDIAN lasers and not physical objects, might as well have been paper against the force of the oversized bullet.
Traveling from bow to stern in less than a second, and ripping several important components of the ship out with it, the round continued out into space, never to be seen again. Secondary explosions all along the hull began to tear the cruiser to pieces until it finally vanished in an enormous turquoise explosion.
Back on the bridge of the destroyer, several members of the crew cheered at the success of the first attack.
"Quiet down!" McCall said, and the bridge fell quiet again, looking up at their commander, who seemed deep in thought. Seconds passed in silence, before he looked over at the AI. "Naruto, can you bring up a map of the system?"
"Of course. What's your plan?"
General Desolas Arterius, decorated warrior of the Hierarchy, commander of a turian fleet, tried to pick his jaw off the ground.
A single, minuscule ship had managed to destroy one of the three cruisers he'd brought with him. And while cruisers weren't as powerful as the larger dreadnoughts, they were nothing to sneeze at, having a single spinal mass accelerator, disruptor missile pods and a GARDIAN laser system. Since the ship was shorter in length, the rounds it fired couldn't get up to speeds as high, therefore were far less powerful. However, the kinetic barriers it sported should have been able to stand up to anything less than a fully powered round from a dreadnought.
And a single, glancing shot from one of the main guns of the enemy ship was enough to completely shatter them.
It took a few seconds for his brain to start working again, and he immediately started snapping out orders to his Turian crew members.
"Contact the fleet and tell them to activate all weapons," Desolas said, and taking a deep breath, forged ahead. "All ships, accelerate to attack speed! Prepare to engage!"
"Sir! The enemy vessel is turning around!"
The random shout of one technician was enough to completely throw him off. "What do you mean, turning around?"
"They're fleeing towards the planet, sir," he said, then his eyes widened. "They're firing!"
On the outside of the destroyers hull, the three mass accelerators swiveled around, charged up, and each fired one round at one of the frigates at the Palaven's side, striking the barriers with 1.1 gigajoules of kinetic energy each. A few seconds passed, and then they fired again.
Desolas slammed a fist onto his command chair. "They're just going to take potshots like little cowards!" He pressed the com button. "Carriers, head towards the planet immediately. Cruisers and Frigates, full speed ahead, destroy that ship!"
The six frigates, followed by the two remaining cruisers, began to pursue the retreating destroyer. Meanwhile, the three carriers began to accelerate away from the rest of the fleet towards the planet.
"Sir, three ships have broken off from the pursuing fleet and are heading towards Shanxi," Naruto said. "I'm guessing they're going to assault the planet while the rest keep us busy."
Commander McCall frowned. "As much as I'd like to help the Marines planet-side, we've got to deal with these assholes first." He turned to the AI. "Is everything set?"
"Set and ready," Naruto said with a grin. "On your mark."
McCall looked out into space at his approaching target, the rings of Shanxi, and his lips quirked.
As he sat in his chair, his fingers tapping incessantly, he muttered a phrase, too quiet for any of the crew to hear, yet was still picked up by the bridge log microphones. "Full bore and into the abyss."
The destroyer sped through space towards Shanxi. Or more specifically, toward the rings surrounding it.
Rocks floating through space, dozens of meters thick at times, crashed into the shields of the Maelstrom and bounced off, not damaging it in the slightest.
McCall grumbled as the ship shook again. Even though the asteroids didn't do any damage, they did transfer a lot of momentum onto the ship, hence why they were shaking a lot. "Are they following us in?"
"Yep. Whoever the other commander is, he doesn't seem to be too cautious."
"Well, that works to our advantage," Jack muttered. "Release the mine!"
On the belly of the Maelstrom, a five meter capsule burst out and latched onto a nearly 30-meter wide asteroid that floated by.
"Full speed ahead!" McCall said.
The ship groaned as the reactor worked overtime, shunting as much power as it could towards the engines. The four cones flared as they pushed the massive ship away from the asteroid they'd floated past.
"Sir, we're exiting the asteroid field."
"Naruto," McCall said calmly. "You know what to do."
The AI grinned cheerily and gave him a mock salute. "Aye aye, Captain!"
The advanced engines and cooling system in the Maelstrom allowed it to temporarily push its power output up to 300% for a few minutes. It was this feature that Naruto used now, accelerating the destroyer at three times its normal sublight speed.
In other words, fast.
"Sir, the enemy ship is accelerating rapidly! It's exiting the asteroid field!"
The general's eyes narrowed. "After them! Prepare firing solutions!"
As the turian ships sped after the destroyer, they didn't notice the asteroid from before drifting directly into their path. The first several ships ignored it.
And right as they were about to fire on the fleeing ship, a new sun appeared in the Shanxi asteroid belt.
The device buried in the center of the asteroid had been a nuclear mine; when it detonated, it blasted the rock apart, sending a shower of molten metal, rock and plasma directly into the turian battle-group surrounding it.
The result was devastating.
While relatively low yield for a nuclear weapon, only twenty megatons of TNT equivalent, attaching the device to the asteroid provided the reactive mass to greatly increase the efficiency of the device. The turian ships ablative armor absorbed the heat from the blast relatively well, but the shards and chunks of rock from the asteroid peppered the light armor, inflicting major damage on almost every single ship. Three of the frigates were disabled outright, either out of commission or destroyed, while the larger cruisers, with the heavier armor, managed to avoid same fate mostly by dint of being behind the frigates with their kinetic barriers facing towards the explosion.
General Arterius cursed as the light's flickered in the captain's cabin. These aliens, in the five minutes his fleet had been in the system, had managed to destroy four of his ships, and it was making him angry.
"Alright," he growled. "If these aliens want to play, let's play."
First chapter done, hope you all enjoy!