Here's the fifth chapter and the final chapter of this story. Enjoy!

* Review response:
LordGhostStriker, Impstar, davycrockett100, Penny is wise, Geasszero, jabbarulez, SamMason666, edboy4926, Gyre, Ioialoha, TrialWriter246, FlawlessMirage, silvereagle2121, tylermech66, Casje, tf330129, moon so bright, Darksider, GodEmporer, Tyrhineld, thank you for your reviews, folks!
Legionary Prime, 0rigami, I'll try to avoid the common mistakes, but... Well...
reality deviant, Destructo Wolf, no idea, actually. There might be, there might be not... I'm leaving it out of this story's scope, thought.
hornet07, if you haven't noticed, the Alliance's (space) navy here tends to prefer generalist designs over specialist ones. The destroyers I gave them are a space variation of aircraft-carrying guided missile destroyers, and cruisers are scaled up versions of those. Perhaps, the closes analogue would be Soviet Union's Kiev-class aircraft carriers/cruisers.
Radji, as interesting as exploring the life on those worlds would be, it won't happen in this story. sorry?
Watcher123, yes, the virtual aliens existed in 'canon', but that happened in 2180s... Right now, its 2100s in my story, so no, virtual aliens won't be appearing yet. As won't Raloi or any other similarly-advanced races.
FranticHamster, oversized might not be exactly correct term here, though. Yes, the cores of human ships are relatively large, but not THAT large... The shields of Alliance's destroyers can take as much punishment as those of Turain cruisers only because they envelop much smaller vessels and, therefore, are denser. If the absolute strength of kinetic barrier fields were compared, Alliance's would be found 'lacking'. Then again, we're comparing a destroyer to a cruiser here...
Guest #1, well, hopefully, I didn't make the Citadel-space races too incompetent here... But... Salarian spies don't reach that deep into the uncharted space. Still, the Citadel IS forewarned (a little), when Alliance finally decides to reveal itself.
Blackholelord, This story ends - in my plans, at least - just as Alliance makes first official contact with the Citadel. So that will be left out of the scope of this story. For now, at least.
Lord Xantos A. Fowl, and how? The Protheans 'rescued' are a few biologists, a couple of guards and a veteran warrior. They can't provide much of a kick-start for the development of alternative Relays. Ilos team were professional engineers and physicists; and even then it took them decades if not generations to build a single working prototype. Imagine the amount of work and resources the creation of alternative Relay network would require. I'm, for one, sure that even united galactic society can afford such expenses.
GaiaStrike, this chapter should answer those questions. But, in short, those are still in the test stage at the labs. It's still 80 (!) years before ME canon, after all.
Tiggx42, Destructo Wolf, while I don't plan to actually develop that story-line, I envision the alternative FTL travel method as (most likely Eezo-assisted) warp drive. Building an independent Relay network, even if all necessary technologies are available, would require economic might no single race in ME possesses.
magnusvictor, there actually at least one more story where the first contact is with Protheans - but it's during the Rome empire there... As for warships and their crews; yes, the crews - at least for cruisers - might be too small. Let's take a middle ground and say those are skeleton crews - Alliance needs as many warships active as possible, and staffing them all with full crews might be just impossible at this point. Still, you are probably right and I should triple those numbers... At least.
enji-benjy, remote scanning. As far as I know, indoctrination doesn't quite work on drones that don't even possess VIs. And knowing the material composition and relative placement of all components of systems allows for a good educated guess on how that system works. From there, with enough (virtual) experiments, one can figure out how to replicate, say, a Reaper armaments.

* AN: Wow, just wow. I've never expected this little project of mine to become even half as popular as it did.
Thank you all for reading and reviewing my story.

As a matter of fact, I decided to try and answer my own challenge posted earlier in this very story: a "Mass Effect" / "Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio" fusion. I'll make no promises on when this one will be published, if I get it going well enough to be published at all.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own "Mass Effect" franchise. No profit is being made. Same goes for any books, video games, anime or manga I may or may not use for ideas.

"speech not understood by humans"

Guides for the Young
5: The Second Contact

It has been four months since his awakening and Javik was quickly changing his opinion about the primitives. Much to his annoyance, he couldn't even really call them 'primitives'. Even in his own mind. Yes, the humans weren't as advanced as the Empire was during its days of glory – hell, a significant part of their home world was still using combustion engines! – but at the same time they weren't blindly incorporating the new technologies.

No, the humans studied those technologies and did their best to both understand the inner workings of those technologies and to improve upon the existing designs. Sometimes, they even managed to create something beyond what the Empire had achieved before its final fall. The cannons of their warships were a prime example of such tech: the Prothean engineers of his days never succeeded in building a direct energy weapons of this size and power.

And then there was the fact that the human were not only doing their best to prepare for the Reapers' arrival, but they were also trying to bring his people back: the project Phoenix was just that, the Prothean race rising from its ashes. Was all this something primitives would do? No. Primitives would never look beyond their own immediate benefit. Humans, on the other hand, were helping back... Still, Javik just couldn't make himself think of them as Protheans' equals.

Perhaps, overseer Vashan found the best way to describe them: the 'young' ones – those who were a capable civilization already, but not yet big and mighty enough to be a great galactic power like the Protheans were during the golden days of their Empire.

Back to the human technologies, though. As the avatar of Vengeance, someone whose entire life was dedicated to making the Reapers pay for what they've done to his people, Javik, of course, was most interested in the weapons and military powers of the ...'young'. And, while he would probably never admit it aloud, he was pleasantly surprised by what he saw.

Ergonomics better suited for someone with five fingers on their hands aside, the human-made particle rifles were in fact superior to the ones the Prothean soldiers, including the elite ones, carried into the battles during the closing days of their war against the Reapers. In fact, the human-made particle rifles were good enough for Javik to voluntary pick one as the replacement for his 'original' arms.

Comparing Prothean and human military technologies was a little more difficult when it came to battle armors: those were only made for the humans and the awakened warrior of the Empire couldn't just try one on. Still, the shield generators they were using were... different, perhaps? Yes, different. They required more energy than 'standard' kinetic barriers to achieve same strength when it came to blocking physical projectiles, but they stopped shots from direct energy weapons as well.

The human-made omni-tools and other computers also were hard to compare with what Javik was familiar with. For once, he was a soldier, not an engineer. Thus, even if he knew how to repair most of his equipment in the field, he had only minimal understanding of how those things actually worked. Still, as far as he could see, the human-made electronics were pretty good, despite being quite alien to him in their designs.

Finally, there was the Sol Alliance's navy. At first, Javik was incredibly confused why humans decided to build their ships like they did. Even with the particle cannons making the spinal mass accelerators unnecessary, the idea of a small multi-purpose vessel still didn't make all that much sense to him: the idea that the fleet should have powerful dreadnaughts at its core with numerous cruisers and frigates supporting them was just too ingrained in his being. Though, once he had read up on the history of human wars to better understand whom he was training to be this cycle's Reaper killers, the avatar of Vengeance got an insight into what directed humans to build their warships the way they did. He still didn't agree with their ideas, but now he could at least see where those were coming from...

And, yes, he was training a group of human elite soldiers in hopes of preparing the to the horror that a war against the Reapers was. After all, there were no guarantees that the machine devils will (finally) show on the galaxy's doorstep before he grew too old to fight. And if he himself couldn't do that, than someone else needed to do it. And this way, even if he perished by the time the Reapers arrive, the vengeance would still be his!

Regardless of his thoughts on not being able to have his revenge against those monsters that all but ended his people personally, Javik was quite impressed with the human soldiers he was training. Then again, these men and women were the best of the best the human forces had to offer; it would be kinda sad if they weren't any good...

Most of his 'students' were from the heavy infantry divisions. The shock troops, equipped with sealed environment battle suits with heavy armor and powerful kinetic barriers. They pretty much were the walking tanks, and the heavy weapons they were armed with did nothing to change that image. And since their power armor was using hardware neuro-controls for locomotion, hacking was nigh-useless against them, leaving their somewhat-low mobility as their only weak point.

Then again, the husks that Reapers so loved to swarm their enemies with never possessed enough intelligence to use any complicated tactics. In fact, most of the time, they just blindly rushed the barricades and overwhelmed the defenders with their sheer numbers. Heavy infantry with rapid-fire particle cannons – the very same ones used for point defense on the warships – was all but a perfect counter to such attacks.

The rest of Javik's 'pupils' were far more interesting though. They were from the actual special forces. And while they might not look as impressive as the shock troops with their power armor, these guys were probably far more dangerous. They were saboteurs, infiltrators and assassins that conducted missions of highest importance behind the enemy lines without revealing themselves. All of them were knowledgeable, highly-intelligent and extremely proficient fighters. They were also issued the best personal weapons and light armor in the Alliance's arsenal. Furthermore, these men and women the first ones to undergo experimental gene therapy to make their bodies as perfect as it those could possibly be. They also were the first ones to receive cybernetic augmentation that made them faster, stronger and more durable than a normal human could ever hope to be.

Granted, they might actually be not all that effective against the Reapers as the machine devils had no politicians to assassinate and no supply lines to sabotage, but... Through the memory shards, Javik knew that Reapers made Zha'til fight for them during the early days of the Empire's fall. It was quite possible that they would try something similar when they show up once again – binding an entire race to their will and using them to weaken those who were too strong-minded or too cautious to be mass-indoctrinated into servants of destruction. And against those slaves of the Reapers, these men would be nothing short of devastating.

So, if he could show all these men, what a war against the Reapers was; if could teach them, how to survive in that nightmare; and if they will spread these knowledge... Then, perhaps, this cycle might still have a chance. And he will have his vengeance against those monsters from the Dark Space.

~/ *** \~

Jarak Korash was a gilded youth from Khar'shan, whose father was a high-ranked minister within the Hegemony. Though, unlike many of his peers, he wasn't content to simply get the slaves for himself from the market. A spirit of adventurer dwelt within him, and so he wanted to personally explore the stars and conquer his future servants with his own hands.

And since he was pretty vocal about his desires, Jarak eventually got his father annoyed enough to get a small 'mercenary' fleet hired to act as his muscle during his adventures out in the galaxy. Of course, the ships he now had under his command weren't the newest or most powerful ones, but... These vessels were still pretty good and could easily take on random pirates that frequented the 'northern' regions of Attican Traverse.

Jarak, however, had a different destination in mind. Since the law against activating Mass Relays was put in place before this region of space could be explored, there was a large blank spot between Horse Head nebula and Aethon cluster. Sure, there was a good chance that he will encounter nothing of interest or value there, but young master Korash was willing to bet a lot of time and resources on the off-chance that some previously-unknown species lived in this part of the galaxy. Being the one to discover a new race, and the first one to get slaves of that race would definitely be a great honor to his family and a ticket into the highest caste of the Hegemony.

The destination he had in mind, however, wasn't going to be an easy one to reach. Venturing beyond the edge of the Batarian space was one thing; reaching into the complete unknown was something else completely. And Jarak wasn't stupid to launch such an expedition without proper preparations. No matter what the bigots at the Citadel might think about his species, Batarians were no fools. And he himself was among the brightest of the next generation. So, yes, he was not stupid by any means. Maybe not as intelligent as some Salarian scientists, but...

Anyway, as soon as he was given the command over 'his' flotilla, he began retrofitting it with the best his money could afford. All four ships get extra fuel tanks and high-capacity cell to store the core's discharge installed. Their storage compartments were also modified in order to store large amounts of water and preserved food that would be necessary during the prolonged stay in the previously-unmapped parts of the galaxy.

Those retrofits were neither cheap nor all that quick to implement, but Jarak was sure that the amazing discoveries he would make during his expedition would make them worth every minute and every last credit spent... And once the retrofits were completed, young master Korash immediately ordered the ships under 'his' command to set sails for Eskimo nebula, the edge systems of the Batarian space. From there they would leave the known parts of the galaxy and make a brave jump into the unknown.

It has been six weeks since Jarak's journey began, and only now 'his' ships finally reached the truly unexplored regions of the space. And the first few systems visited weren't really inspiring: zero garden worlds and barely any mineral resources to mine, but that wasn't enough to discourage the young Batarian from continuing this adventure.

Then, another week later, he finally hit a proverbial jackpot! The flotilla reached a star system only known by the code the Citadel-space astronomers gave it some two centuries ago. Once again, there weren't many valuable resources in this system, and while it did have a garden world, it was a hellish planet only Krogan or Vorcha could live on. No, the real value of this star system lay within a Mass Relay it contained. A Relay that didn't exist on any current galactic maps.

Jarak, of course, was very interested in what he might find beyond this Relay, but he wasn't about to jump into the unknown just like that. First, he was going to leave a small beacon here – just like he had done on the previous legs of his journey – to help other people find him if something went wrong during his expedition. Next, this was a good opportunity to resupply 'his' ships with fresh water as not every drop could always be recycled, no matter what you tried.

These procedures took a few hours, and, when the ships finally returned to the orbit, something really unexpected happened: the Mass Relay got activated. From the other side. And while Jarak was a bit scared of the aliens he was about to confront – what if they were like Yahg? – he was still eager to meet them. After all, the chances were, they would be no match to his Batarian might and would become his slaves. And being the first one to get the slaves from a previously-unknown race was an incredible honor within the Hegemony!..

"Commander!" A mercenary manning the sensor array controls called almost as soon as the Mass Relay flashed blue. "I'm reading a single ship of unknown origin. It has no Citadel-standard identification code." So, yes, this vessel almost certainly belonged to some new race.

"And what can you say about the ship itself?" The Batarian youth asked.

"It is hard to get an accurate reading over such a vast distance, but it appears that the unknown vessel is pretty small. Probably smaller than our frigates." The merc replied. "But I read a pretty powerful Eezo core, so it will likely have some pretty powerful shields. Maybe even on par with the latest line of Turian cruisers." Now that wasn't exactly the good news, Jarak thought, but even if it was that well protected, such a small ship simply couldn't mount a mass accelerators powerful enough to be a real threat to 'his' flotilla.

"Have they noticed us?" He asked next.

"Seems likely: they are broadcasting what I assume is a first-contact message." The mercenary replied. "It doesn't use any of the standard data formats, so our VI will need a few minutes to decipher this message." Young master Korash waved his hand dismissively.

"Don't bother translating that now. We can do it at our leisure when we seize that vessel." He said authoritatively. "Approach it quietly and hit it with disruptor torpedoes. Once its shields are down, disable it with cannon fire."

"Yes, sir!" The cruiser's crew chorused as they hurried to their battle stations. They all were just as eager to get their grabby hands on the never-seen-before riches of that unknown ship and the world it came from as their 'commander' was.

For the next few minutes everything seemed to be quite fine. The alien vessel, while obviously wary of their approach due to them ignoring its hails, wasn't spooked into fleeing through the Relay. Then, once they got close enough, Jarak ordered to open fire. And things went straight to hell.

As it turned out, the unknown vessel – in addition to its surprisingly-powerful shields – also possessed some really good point defense systems: only six disruptor torpedoes out of almost four dozens that were fired managed to get close enough to deal any damage. And that was nowhere near enough to bring the ship's shields down.

Then the unidentified ship returned fire...

~/ *** \~

Admiral Hong, the commander of the Sol Alliance's Exploration Fleet, furrowed his brows as he read the latest report from one of the scouting vessels. Normally, one of his sub-commanders would do that and then give him a brief summary of the report in question, but not today... No, the report sent by SA-SSV Indomitable was simply too important to be treated like that.

After all, the vessel made a first contact almost as soon as it jumped through the Eskimo nebula Mass Relay. Unfortunately, it was not a peaceful first contact: a small group of four alien ships – assumed to be pirates due to them having no common design as well as being aged and patched multiple times – didn't answer the friendly hails, immediately attacking the destroyer instead.

Indomitable won the resulting battle and even managed to leave the biggest of the enemy vessels largely intact, but sustained some very serious damage in return. All four of its attack drones were destroyed, as were its starboard hangar and cannon turrets. Propulsion systems were also damaged, leaving Indomitable barely able to move under its own power. And while the physical damage to the ship was quite extensive, it was nothing when compared to the deaths of nine of its brave crewmen.

Attached to this report was another one: the orders rear-admiral Ivanchenko issued in response to this situation. The first one, of course, was the evacuation of the crippled ship to the safety of the Sol Alliance's space. Next, he called for scavenging any useful information from the remains of the defeated alien vessels. Finally, several spy probes were to be deployed throughout the system while a detachment fleet was to guard the Alliance's Mass Relay leading into that system.

Now, normally that would be a bad decision, but given the limited resources of the Exploration fleet, occupying an entire system – one that could be reached via conventional FTL from the nearby star cluster – would mean that many of the fleet's exploration missions would have to be postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile, using a Mass Relay to funnel enemy ships straight into the cannons' crosshair meant that even only a handful of destroyers could keep the forces of potential foe at bay.

Of course, admiral Hong would rather his fleet not fight anyone at all, but... One needed to always be prepared for the worst. And he would do his best to keep Earth safe from the dangerous elements lurking throughout the galaxy.

~/ *** \~

"What can we do for you this day, ambassador?" The Asari Councilor, matriarch Tevos, asked in her ever-polite calm voice. On the inside, however, she and her fellow councilors were quite very annoyed with the Batarian Hegemony's representative standing before them – the four-eyed man had the gall to demand the Council meeting! Hell, he probably even believed himself to be their superior! What an impudence!..

"Several standard galactic days ago, a group of destroyed crafts without proper identifications was discovered on the edges of the Hegemony's territory." Darnak Kar'lash informed the council.

"And why does the Council care if a few pirates went extinct?" The Turian councilor snapped.

"Be patient, Turian! I'm not done talking." Batarian ambassador snapped back. Taking a moment to recompose himself, he continued: "As I was trying to say, the damage to those vessels is inconsistent with any known weapons in the galaxy." With a wide hand gesture, he then summoned a holographic display showing several close-up images of the ships in question.

"That doesn't look like mass accelerator impacts." The Turian councilor observed. And, having been a dreadnaught captain before his 'promotion' into the world politics, he knew what he was talking about. "Explosives are also highly unlikely to be the cause of this."

"And that's what I'm talking about!" The representative of the Batarian Hegemony called, asserting his superiority in this argument. Too bad, he thought, winning this case would not be enough to stop these barbarians from looking down upon his people's rich culture...

"Yes, yes." The Salarian councilor agreed with his Palaven-born colleague. "Possibly done with a direct energy weapon. A very powerful one. No such weapon is known to the STG."

"...And thus we have two possibilities on our hands." Tevos continued the thought. "Either the Geth decided to end their self-imposed isolation and ventured beyond the Perseus Veil for the first time in two centuries, or we're dealing with a new race, one than didn't develop along the path mapped by the Protheans. These news are very troubling."

"Furthermore." Darnak Kar'lash continued. "The remains of these ships were discovered in a system with a previously uncharted Mass Relay. Which was activated. Illegally, of course. Whoever did that, has no regards for the Citadel laws. And they are a danger to the Hegemony! I demand the Council forces assist the our noble defenders in showing these upstarts their proper place: on their knees before the Batarian Hegemony!"

"You do not make demands of the Council, ambassador." Tevos replied with some hard steel in her usually-diplomatic voice. "Furthermore, if this is indeed a new race, it's technologies and resources should benefit everyone in the Council space, especially if it is our combined strength that brings them into the fold." The representative of the Hegemony, of course, wasn't satisfied with that. Who those three two-eyes thought they were, treating his people like some second-class citizens and denying them the best benefits of subjugating this new race? No, he would never stand for this!

"Listen here!" He snapped back at the council. "The Hegemony went out of its way to warn you about this new danger lurking in Traverse, you ungrateful!.. You owe us a lot – at least everything of value we can extract from those little bastards!" Darnak Kar'lash shouted.

And while the group continued to argue, an uninvited set of eyes was glued to the image of a destroyed vessel that the Batarian ambassador showed the Council at the beginning of this meeting. These eyes belonged to a surprisingly-large insect-like creature that, despite its weird appearance, managed to remain unseen by everyone but a keeper – and keepers never cared about anyone.

Either way, the one spying on this Council meeting via this biological surveillance bug was growing quite concerned with this development. Someone decided to deviate from the path every race in the galaxy was supposed to follow. And it might complicate things in this cycle a bit. Still, while the destruction of the group that began the development of large-scale direct energy weapons was important, it wasn't something that needed to be done right away: it was still a bit too early to begin this harvest, and Collectors combing through the Traverse would draw too much unnecessary attention. No, the best course of action right now was to wait for this group to go public, and then have indoctrinated politicians in various positions of power defang it via the application of 'Citadel laws'. Yes, right now that appeared to the best way to go about this unexpected development, Harbinger decided...

~/ *** \~

Matriarch Lidanya sighed as she observed the Citadel Defense Force's warships carry out their duties. It's been two months since everyone was put on high alert following the Batarian ambassador's meeting with the Council, but so far nothing out of ordinary has happened and the crews were getting tired. Hell, even those like her, who were lucky to serve on the luxuriously-spacious dreadnaughts couldn't wait for their shore leaves... Yet, until this whole situation with the potentially-hostile aliens armed with weapons the STG knew nothing about was resolved, the Force will have to continue guarding the Citadel with its full might incessantly.

Her further train of thoughts was interrupted by a beeping of her omni-tool telling her that she had an incoming call. Judging be the provided information, it was a broadcast from the traffic control of the Citadel. In other words, something extremely important. So, she wasted to time and took this call.

"...Noveria traffic control sent us a message that they have an unscheduled spike in transits towards the Serpent nebula." A Turian operator said. "General Anoximus believes that the force X..." That was the designation given to the mysterious aliens the Batarian ambassador had warned the Council about. "...May be sending a strike force against the Citadel. It is..." Whatever else he was going to say was drowned out by the ship-wide message from the captain, ordering everyone to their battle stations.

And even though matriarch Lidanya hurried to the bridge as mush as she could, it still took her a couple of minutes to arrive there – the dreadnaughts were annoyingly large when you needed to get from one end to another fast. What's more, she barely had enough time to get comfortable at her post before the Mass Relay began spewing out a whole fleet of ships of a design that has never been seen before in the Citadel Space.

With the exception of three non-combat – though not defenseless by a long shot – vessels at the heart of this fleet, no ship was big enough to qualify as a full-sized cruiser by the Citadel-space standards; most these alien warships were smaller than frigates of Council races. However, Lidanya thought, once you account for the fact that these aliens were using relatively-compact energy cannons in place of huge mass accelerators, the small size of their warships was perfectly understandable.

The formation these aliens flew their ships was also quite interesting. It was better suited for showing off at a parade, than for actual combat. Of course, that didn't mean that shooting them all – or even just the three 'civilian' vessels at the center of the formation – would be easy, should a battle break out. But, perhaps, these aliens were indeed just showing off their might and didn't intent to attack the Citadel without a provocation... After all, if they did, why bring anything but their most powerful warships?

Her further thoughts were interrupted when a communication officer announced that the alien fleet was broadcasting a message. Using one of the variations of the Citadel standard encoding. Curious about when these aliens had to say, Lidanya requested the communication officer to play the message for her:

"Greetings, people of the Citadel space." A low, rough voice – kinda like Turian, but without flanging effect – spoke. "We of Sol Alliance appear before you in peace." Well, the Asari matriarch though as she ordered this message forwarded to the commander of Citadel Defense Force, today definitely was going to be an interesting day...

~/ *** \~

At the tender age of twenty eight, Liara T'Soni was still but a young child by the Asari standards. But she was a very bright child and, having completed her standard education ahead of time, she now attended one of the most prestigious universities on Thessia as she worked towards her academic degree, a doctorate in ancient galactic history.

Today, though, all seminars and lectures were canceled. Instead, students and professors alike were watching a live feed from the Citadel, where a historical event was taking place. It has been centuries since a first contact with a new race happened; and never before in the entire Council history it was not a single race but an already established alliance of races!

So far, though, only the aliens' ships have been shown. And their dark-silver with greenish tint hulls strongly reminded Liara of Prothean architecture. Which was kind of interesting: from what the reporter said, it looked like these aliens chose to develop along a technological path different from the one the Protheans followed.

Finally, the broadcast switched to one of the many docks aboard the Citadel. Here, the cameras showed hundreds of C-Sec Turian soldiers standing in full feather, showing off the might of the Citadel Council to the newcomers. Of course, should such need arise, they were also ready to protect the inhabitants of the Citadel with extreme ferocity.

Meanwhile, an Alliance's shuttle – once again, its design giving off strong Prothean vibes – descended into the docks, silently and seemingly-effortlessly landing on the designated platform. A moment passed and it's side door opened.

First, four large figures clad in full-body mechanized armor and armed with some really big guns stepped out of the shuttle. Each of these warriors looked so powerful that even a Krogan might not be their equal in combat. Too bad, their armor made it impossible to learn anything about the aliens' appearance, beyond the fact that their were bipedal and upright-walking... Once out of the shuttle, these four heavy infantrymen immediately assumed their positions by the craft, ready to protect its other passengers from any possible threat.

Next, several more soldiers stepped out. These ones used much lighter, but still identity-concealing, armor. Still, even without a single bit of their skin showing, it was clear that these aliens has body proportions astonishingly-similar to those of Asari... They lacked breasts, though. Or maybe their were just small enough for their armor to make them look completely flat?

Finally, the actual diplomats exited the shuttle. And at the moment every single Asari in the entire galaxy experienced a great shock and surprise: different skin tone and some strange fur on their heads aside, the aliens looked just like them! Of course, there had been talks about convergent evolution, but to actually see something so similar to them that originated from a completely alien world... It was... Breathtaking.

A few moments passed, and the final passengers of the shuttle left the craft, generating even more surprise within everyone who watching this. They were slightly taller than the pink Asari-lookalikes and their reptilian skins were bluish and light-gray in color. Their heads had V-shaped faces with four eyes and flattened tops. And even a single glance at them caused something ancient and long-forgotten to stir awake within the Asari. It was an unexplainable sensation originating from deep within their beings that told every Asari that these aliens were 'good'; that they were the source of power and knowledge; that they were...

"The Protheans." Liara whispered under her breath.

That's all, folks
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