Mass Effect is the property of Bioware. 20th Century Fox owns the Alien/Predator franchise.
Welcome! This is a continuation of my previous two stories: Someone has heard them scream and Somone had blundered. Twenty years have passed and we're getting close to the time of ME1. As before, I will try to write this story so that it can be read on its own, but there will be many references to events from the past, which doesn't always conform to ME canon. The story will also be fairly short, because it will only deal with one event: the human assault on Torfan.
While this is technically still and ME Alien/AvP crossover in the sense that it mixes both universes, neither the xenomorph nor the predators will make an appearance here. The xenomorphs really have no place in these events. ( I considered having the humans use them as a bioweapon, but I'd already established that humanity has finally learned its lesson not to mess with this species. The image of Shepard feeding batarians to the xenomorphs was amusing but a bit over the top anyway.) I could have the Yautja around observing and commenting on events, but I feel I've used that particular trick enough already and the Yautja have better things to do with their time.
So, this will in practice be a pure ME story as far as characters are concerned though some of the weapons and equipment from the Alien universe will make an appearance.
Lieutenant Kirahe stared at his console and smiled. It was the first time in weeks that he had done so. Then again, his current assignment did not give him many occasions for joy. It was both boring and intensely frustrating at the same time. Only a few months before, he had been on Tuchanka, monitoring Krogan birthrates to determine if the genophage still functioned as intended. Now that had been a proper assignment: important, dangerous, and with even a bit of action to enliven the drudgery of collecting data. An enjoyable mission, one he wouldn't mind repeating
Unfortunately, that was when the fun ended. Someone in the turian Hierarchy had called in a favour and someone in the Special Tasks Group had decided that Kirahe would be in charge of delivering that favour. As a result, Kirahe's ship had spent several days travelling through the Terminus systems; then several days more, slowly creeping into theTorfan system while remaining undetected, and ever since they had been hanging in orbit around the star, steadily collecting data.
In itself, it was a typical STG mission and Kirahe would not have objected to it, but in this case, the subject of the data was so thoroughly disgusting. In itself, the Torfan system was unremarkable: A star, a couple of gas giants and a piece of rock that barely qualified as a planet. Its one interesting feature was a mass relay, which, because of the vagueries of both the relay network and galactic politics, connected to Citadel Space, the Attican Traverse, and the Terminus. As such it should have been the perfect spot for traders of all kinds to meet, make deals, and exchange cargoes. In practice, no self-respecting merchant would go near the place.
Everyone knew what Torfan was. It was a transfer station for the slave trade. Batarian raiders, NOT in any way sanctioned by the Hegemony, of course, would enter through the Traverse to dump their cargo, which would be picked up by traders from the Terminus. It was for this reason, and this reason alone, that a small colony had been built on the surface (or rather beneath the surface) of Torfan's only non-gaseous planet, an airless rock that would otherwise never have been settled. However, the colony was needed. After all, the Batarians needed a holding area for the large numbers of sapient beings that they were moving through. Meanwhile, the colony doubled as a place of rest and recreation for those who had a strong enough stomach for that kind of entertainment.
This situation was what Kirahe and his crew had been observing for the past two weeks and he was heartily sick of it. One relay jump away, the jump toward Citadel Space, was a Turian patrol fleet. He knew they were there because he had been sending them regular updates on the affairs of Torfan. That was the favour the Hierarchy had requested, though it was unclear why they would want it. Sure, the turian patrol fleet could easily move in and scrape the Torfan system out like a hollow shell and reduce the colony to a dust-filled crater. In the process, they would almost certainly kill most of the several thousand innocent slaves that were imprisoned on the surface at any given time, but turians were willing to accept that as the cost of doing business and Kirahe could see their point. Besides, one could argue that the slaves would be better off dead anyway.
But the turians wouldn't move, couldn't move. As long as the terminus warlords stayed out of Citadel Space, the Hierarchy's fleet would not interfere in their affairs either. Especially not now. The batarian Hegemony had made it very clear that they would not approve of any adventurism in the Terminus and the council had decided that it was a good time to placate them. After all, there had been plenty of friction in recent years. Kirahe was old enough to remember the massive upset that had occurred when the Hegemony discovered that the council had granted the wish of the newly discovered humans to settle in the Skyllian Verge. The batarian ambassador had nearly exploded in rage. After all, the Verge was an area that the Hegemony had already marked as its own. The fact that they had never got around to colonizing it was beside the point as far as they were concerned.
The resulting shouting match had become a favourite among extranet users and compilations of it could still be found among the 'most watched' lists. They usually showed the batarian ambassador, standing on the speaker's platform, raging at the council and the humans, intercut with images of the newly appointed human ambassador, watching him with mild curiosity as though she was observing an exotic animal in a cage. Never mind that the human ambassador had not even been there and the images had been compiled from other occasions, it never ceased to amuse. Still, amusing or not, the consequences had been felt for a long time and one of them was that the council was now going out of its way not to push the batarians any further. That included siding with the batarians whenever complaints of raiding parties came up, as long as the Hegemony maintained plausible deniability, as well as a strictly hands-off approach to anything that happened in the Terminus, another area where the batarians claimed to have a 'security interest'.
So Kirahe and his crew had sat in their ship, collected data, and sent their updates. All in the full knowledge that nothing would come from it. It was all so very frustrating. Besides, even under the best of circumstances, Kirahe would have been bored. Collecting data was all well and good, but he wanted more. He wanted to act on his data. After all, what good was knowledge if you didn't put it to some use? He had often wondered what the galaxy would look like if STG was just a little more pro-active. The whole situation with the humans was the perfect example. STG had known what was going on from the moment that the first turian ship returned from their disastrous first contact with the newly discovered species. They had known what general Desolas Arterius had planned as soon as he started to put his invasion force together. But they had done nothing. Nothing except for sending an STG vessel along with the turian fleet. That had guaranteed them a front-row seat as the disaster unfolded. Useful, certainly, but also so very unnecessary. One single bullet could have solved the problem. A simple accident as general Arterius performed basic maintenance on his gun. It could have been arranged. Not easily, but definitely possible.
No general Arterius, no invasion, no counter attack, no desperate negotiations. Could have carefully approached humans, explained situation, mistakes, everything. Negotiations so much easier. Perhaps refuse to listen, but unlikely. Can be unreasonable, but usually not stupid. In the end, understood what went wrong at Relay 314. Most don't hold against turians. Invasion enraged them. Still causes trouble. For want of bullet, galaxy worse place.
Thinking of humans Kirahe turned back to his console. Finally, after all this time he had found something of true interest. A human freighter had entered the system two days ago and the salarians had been monitoring it, as they monitored all ships in the system. Not that the presence of a human freighter was all that interesting. Ever since they had appeared on the galactic stage, the humans had quickly made their presence felt. Although their government maintained a barely concealed state of undeclared hostility and human space remained mostly closed to other species, many of them had chosen to travel far and wide. They had established a handful of colonies outside their government's sphere of influence. Others had chosen to live on the Citadel or any number of independent planets and their traders could now be found in any port. Especially in the Terminus, where they were not subject to the import restrictions and taxes that the Citadel governments forced on them in retaliation to the identical policies of the Alliance of United Systems.
Still, something was just a little off about this particular ship being here. For one thing, Torfan was a batarian dominated colony and humans and batarians did not get along at all. For another, it was not the first human ship Kirahe had seen here and there seemed to be a pattern. They came, they exchanged cargoes, they left; but they never seemed to interact much with the other ships in Torfan space. So why come here at all? They could exchange cargo anywhere.
That had been the first clue, and once alerted, Kirahe had decided to investigate further and this particular ship was just a little bit peculiar. For one thing, it seemed to be rather advanced in its equipment, particularly its sensor suite. Not impossible by itself, after all, having good sensors could be a life-saver, especially in the Terminus, where piracy was a common occurrence. The ship also seemed very well maintained, despite being seemingly old. Again, not conclusive, but it started to add up. Then there were the cargo hatches. A lot of them, all along the side of the hull. Useful, if you wanted to move a lot of cargo at once. But when they exchanged cargo with another humans ship that was about to depart they only used one hatch. Curious, and so inefficient. The ship also had a few GARDIAN lasers, again, not uncommon in the Terminus, but these were not placed quite right. There were gaps in the defences, as though a few GARDIAN emplacements were missing from the grid. So, he had watched, had collected data, had analysed. And now he was sure.
Not freighter. Mass not quite right for volume, hull too strong, internal divisions? Probably. Sensors too good, see too much use, even when in orbit. Hatches don't access cargo space. Probably cover weapons, more GARDIAN lasers than shown. Still, very good fake impression, very professional. Question: if not freighter, then what? Pirate? Unlikely. Ship too well maintained, equipment too modern, too expensive. Besides, if pirate, would trade slaves, would interact, or not come here at all. Not pirate. Warship. USM Warship in Torfan. Six months since Skyllian Blitz. Coincidence? Unlikely.
Kirahe hesitated. He really shouldn't be doing this. If the humans intended to take action against the batarian raiders, the STG would want to know. What they would decide was anyone's guess. They might decide to sit back and watch, but they might also decide to interfere, leak the information. The resulting uproar would probably stop the humans, but then again it might not. If he informed the turians, they would almost certainly try to stop it, which might lead to renewed hostilities. That would never do. He could simply do nothing, wait for events to develop, or not. That would be the safe course of action.
And yet... It was so tempting. So very tempting to give just a tiny little push in the right direction. His crew would support him in simply doing nothing. That was an acceptable course of action. As for the rest, they would never know. Kirahe knew how to cover his tracks. After all, this was his ship. He knew its systems better than anyone.
He touched the console, collected information from a dozen different files, compressed it into a single file. The next time he sent an update to the turian patrol, this message would be included, but it would never reach the turians. Instead, it would bounce off the relay and be reflected back into Torfan space where it would reach the lone human ship. After that, it would be up to the humans.
Kirahe was, of course, a canon ME character. This is a few years earlier, so he isn't a captain yet. I used Mordin's speech patterns for his thoughts, even though most salarians don't talk like that. I'm using the assumption that their thoughts are very rapid, but that most of them deliberately slow down their speech to be better understood by other species.