Authors Note: Sup guys, I'm back! Wow, this is my second most loved story to date; and this is only the second chapter! I don't know whether to be happy that I've finally written something so loved, or depressed everything else isn't... I'll go with the former.

Before this begins, I wanna thank everyone who reviewed! They were really great, and I'm glad this has received positive reception. I have a pathological need ti receive reviews, whether they're praising, constructive criticisms, or even flames. I like them because they let me know what I'm doing right, and what I should change. So if it feels like my writing is lacking or you have some tips, I'd love to hear them.

Oh, and before we get on with this, I just wanna make one thing clear: this is NOT a HFY! story. The Humans will have challenges to face, they will get knocked down, aliens will gain victory, and stereotypes will be broken. In other words, all species will be given the chance to be awesome and have the spotlight, not just Humanity or the Council races. With that said, on with the story!

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Mass Effect. It belongs to Bioware.

Space. The endless frontier. Within this frontier, there lie endless possibilities. On one planet, a species of gaseous life-forms are evolving; on another, a species is meeting its end at the hands of nuclear weapons or disease. Some species make peaceful first contact and are accepted into a galactic community of welcoming neighbors. Other times, it's all-out war between two species because of a mistake or misunderstanding.

All that connects these species is the choices they make. Their choices have long lasting consequences not just for their species, but others as well. A choice made hundreds, or even thousands of years ago, can affect millions of people in ways they could never imagine.

One such choice was about to be made; one that would affect the fate of the entire galaxy.

Turian Patrol Fleet, Cruiser 'Honor Redeemed', Approaching Dormant Relay 314

Captain Quimius Procmius was not what many would call a 'good Turian'. He'd always valued lives over orders, common sense to blind devotion; not traits that a good Turian was supposed to have. Born into no clan, born barefaced, he was an outcast to most of Turian society. Everyone but his men regarded him with mistrust, expecting dissecting his every word for a hint of deception; nothing he did was ever taken at face value.

His father had been exiled from the clan he'd been a part of, a minor one that dedicated their entire lives to military service. Quimius had investigated the why and hadn't truthfully been surprised to find his father had helped smuggle drugs into Hierarchy space; drugs that would kill a Primarch's son, no less.

His father had found sanctuary among the other exiles and outcasts on a far-off colony on the edges of Hierarchy space. As was custom among exiles, he had removed his clan markings and was only allowed to fond mates among other exiles. From that union, he had been born. An exile of no choice of his own, untrusted because of centuries of old tradition, he'd learned early on that life wasn't kind to those who couldn't work for what they wanted.

Among the other exiles he was treated with a modicum of respect since they were all each other had. But he'd wanted to be more than an exile who'd never get to see the galaxy, and had volunteered for military service at 14 years old. The Commander at the time had seen this as an... admirable show of dedication to the Hierarchy, and allowed him onto the ship to monitor comms.

Of course, just because he'd been allowed the 'honor' of doing that, didn't mean he could work at the same level as other Turian's. He'd had to work twice as hard, receive better results than those decades his senior, and be twice as honorable a Turian as his comrades just to be accepted as an equal. It had worked for a few years; he'd even managed to become the XO on a ship at one point. Then the Quashim Incident had happened.

His captain at the time wanted to sacrifice the colony, a colony that had an abundance of Asari and Salarian tourists, below to fully route the pirates at the time. His captain had been an arrogant fool interested only in ascending the meritocracy via valor in combat. He'd taken offense to the order and been ordered to stand down.

He'd refused, and gunned the Turian down; the crew had agreed with him, and hadn't tried to throw him in the brig after the fact. He was then the highest ranked officer on board, and since the crew at the time had agreed with him, they'd followed his orders to protect the colony. They'd done just that, but at the cost of many Turian lives and giving the pirates the chance to escape.

In the aftermath, he bad his entire crew were to face the consequences when politics had saved his life. Apparently, to the colonists and tourists on the world at the time, he was a hero; apparently, a hero couldn't be executed or discharged from the military.

Instead of that, he and the crew were given the 'honor' of patrolling the edges civilized space to keep pirates and slavers from attacking anymore colonies. They'd even put him in charge of a small fleet to 'help' him. He'd have to be blind and deaf to miss the fact that his every move was silently questioned, and that many of the ships within the fleet wanted him to fail.

Unfortunately for them, he'd performed his duties better than any had expected him to. His patrol fleet had thwarted more raiding attempts and found more hidden bases than any of the other fleets combined. Ever since then, he and the 'Honor Redeemed' had earned a reputation among pirates and slavers as a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, he knew that the captain of this small patrol fleet would be all he would ever get. If he'd been willing to compromise his morals, act like a 'good Turian' then he was certain that he'd be capable of ascending higher; after all, a few respected Admirals were former bare-faces.

But he wasn't, and so he was content with his position in the Hierarchy.

Of course, just because he was content, didn't mean he didn't get bored. Patrols like this were usually void of anything interesting. After all, while hack writers may use pirates opening dormant relays as the start of a horror book, real life wasn't nearly as exciting. No pirate, regardless of race, gender, or age was stupid enough to open a dormant relay.

"I'm so bored." Quimius turned to his communications officer and regarded him for a moment. He was a recruit, barely 18 years old most likely since his plates still looked a little loose.

"I take it this isn't what you were expecting when you were conscripted?" Quimius asked.

The boy shook his head. "No sir. I expected this to all be a bit more... exciting."

Quimius chuckled. "That's good. Bored means that you're safe, alive, and that you've done your job in keeping the galaxy safe." He told the young comms officer. "Military service isn't all head-butting Krogan and repelling pirate forces; sometimes it's as simple as patrolling the dead sectors of space."

The comms officer nodded. "Yes sir. I'll keep that in mind."

Quimius sighted and closed his eyes. The boy wouldn't understand now since he was so young, but later, when he'd experienced a battle or two, then he'd understand what he meant. Until then, he'd have to grow used to the boredom of a simple patrol-

"Sir! We've detected an anomaly!" That caught his attention. Turning to the sensors personnel, he gestured for the to continue. "4 ships have established a connection with the relay... sir, Relay 314 is active now."

Quimius's first instinct was to have the ships receive a full salvo from his fleet. Before he could make the order though, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Taking a moment to collect himself, he turned towards the screen to get a better look at the ships.

They were... like nothing he'd ever seen, quite literally. They were big and blocky, unlike the Asari's smooth surfaces and more akin to a Turian ship. Unlike a Turian ship though, this had no wings and resembled an arrow about as much as a ship could, with powerful engines in the back and a narrow body. He could make out a spinal mounted canon along the center of the ship, but he had no way of telling how powerful it was.

"Weapons are primed and ready to fire on your order." One of the men on deck said.

"Hold a moment." Quimius said. "Did you check council databases for ship designs? Even those of the minor species?"

The man was confused but nodded. "Yes sir; it doesn't match any known ship design of Citadel space. We assumed it was a pirate ship or Terminus species."

"Did you check to make sure?" A moment of silence followed as scans were done of the ships.

"Those ships don't match any known Terminus ships either sir."

Quimius nodded. "That settles it then. This is First Contact with a new species. Prep the first contact package."

"Come again sir?" The boy from before questioned.

He understood why. Most Turian's, regardless of what they thought, held their duty to Citadel law very seriously. Any other in his situation likely would have fired on the ships to teach them the laws they had no knowledge of, then moved to pacify the home world, or the colony behind the relay if they were advanced enough. He, on the other hand, noticed that the ships had been sitting there for minutes and hadn't made any hostile moves toward them. He wouldn't respond to non-hostility with violence.

"You said it yourself, those ships don't match any in our extensive database. Given that anyone with even a modicum of common sense in the galaxy knows the dangers of opening a dormant Mass Relay, and these ships lack of reaction to us, I think it's safe to assume they come from behind 314."

"They've sent us their own first contact package sir."

Quimius nodded. "Good. Open it and send our own-" He was interrupted as he saw a bright flash of light out of the corner of his eye. Surprised, he turned just in time to see the smallest vessel in the middle of the aliens' formation explode in a violent flash of light.

Before he could even process what happened, another of the aliens' ships was hit, but it seemed this one had kinetic barriers since it didn't explode in a single hit. The aliens seemed to get over their surprise faster than he could, and the three frigate-size vessels opened fire on his fleet.

As soon as they did that, the rest of his fleet- all 30 frigates and 8 cruisers - fired on them before he could put a stop to it.

The entire slaughter, for that was what it was, was over within a few minutes. Only a single ship had survived, and there were holes deep enough in it that Quimius could see clear to the other side. Before anyone could finish it off, it jumped away through the Relay back to wherever it came from.

For a moment, Quimius was silent. Then he snarled, "Who fired the first shot?"

"Captain Cantas Masdas of the 'Heroic Talon' sir!"

"Get him on the comms, now!" His crew rushed to follow his orders. He was known as a usually level-headed Turian, but his crew knew what happened when he was angry; the one responsible for doing it suffered the consequences.

"Captain Procmius! Sir, what can I do for you?"

Quimius growled. The bastard didn't even have the decency to sound guilty about the fact he'd just slaughtered thousands of aliens. "What can you do for me? You can start by explaining why you opened fire when I didn't give any order to do so!"

The anger in his voice seemed to surprise his fellow captain. "Sir, those aliens were breaking Citadel law. I had to teach them a lesson about why you don't open dormant relays."

"Those aliens don't know about Citadel law you fool!" His voice was just below a shout and he gripped the railing hard enough to hurt his hands. "Put your XO on the line."


"Put him on!"

After a few moments, a young female Turian appeared on screen. "Sir? You asked for me?"

"Yes, I did. What is your name?"

"Lubivia Patroma, sir. Why?"

"Lubivia Patroma, I am hereby ordering you and the rest of the crew to place former-captain Masdas under arrest and place him in the brig until we can reach Hierarchy space so he may be given a trial."

The XO was shoved out of the way as the former captain appeared on screen. "What!? Why!?"

"Because you just destroyed three ships of an encountered species; one that may be just as dangerous as the Rachni or Krogan were. And you, which by extension means the Hierarchy, just declared on them."

"But-but I was just doing as any good Turian would!" He didn't get to say anymore as the other Turian's on the deck behind began dragging him away. Quimius shut off the link before he could see anymore.

"Should we follow the aliens through the relay sir?"

Quimius sighed. "No... no, this is above our pay grade. We need to alert the Hierarchy and pray to the Spirits." He gazed at the now active relay, and the rubble now floating in front of it.

"Let us hope that we haven't unleashed something on the galaxy that could end us all."

Shanxi, Capital City

"Here's to us, the most baddass group of soldiers this side of the galaxy!" The bar was filled with shouts as everyone raised their mugs in agreement.

Anderson snorted and shook his head in amusement at his fellow N7's announcement. He'd hardly call them the 'most badass group of soldiers this side of the galaxy', all things considering. They'd only just finished N7 training after all, which was a huge achievement. Still, he was also certain that those old vets who were still in service from the Human-Hive War could beat them handily.

One of his fellow graduates seemed to see Anderson's amusement and grinned devilishly. "And here's to Anderson, the man who led us to victory over those pirates on Pax Sigma!" The few men and women around him cheered in agreement.

Anderson chuckled. "I can't take all the credit. Vera managed to keep our Barriers up long enough to get past the turrets."

"As if I'd let a few measly pirates break MY Barriers." Vera scoffed. "I'm offended you'd even hint that my barriers could be broken by them. I'm the strongest Human biotic for a reason you know."

Anderson chuckled at his Russian friends' pride. Despite the arrogance someone who didn't know her would assume, her statement was accurate. Anyone who'd seen her in action could attest to her strength; especially once they saw her swat aside a Mako and still manage to spam her biotics against entire teams of pirates.

"Maybe so, but I hadn't taken out that sniper I don't think you'd have had enough energy in you give yourself a Barrier, let alone all of us."

Vera rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah Li, we know. You're the best shot in the galaxy, yadda yadda yadda."

Li smirked and leaned back. "Well, the next time you're capable of firing a Harpoon sniper with one hand while hanging upside down with a shrapnel wound in your gut, you let me know. I'll happily start calling you the best shot in the galaxy."

The man who started all this laughed to himself and shook his head. "That was just a pirate base that had managed to give the marines a bit of trouble. Now that we've completed the final phase of our training, we'll be sent to places that would kill anyone else."

"Not all of us are as eager to face constant life or death situations, you know, Heath." Li stated. "Some of us want to relax and relish the fact that we're alive in a place where there's no chance of us being attack by anything... good god I suddenly feel like I've made a terrible mistake saying that."

Heath chuckled and slapped her on the back with enough force that she stumbled forward. "Come on, this Shanxi; arguably the most dangerous colony that Humanity has; who or what would be dumb enough to attack this place?"

Shanxi-Theta Mass Relay, 'ESV Beijing'

All around him, captain Xinjiang Wong could smell the blood of his crew man and the smoke from the terminal fires; he could hear the groans and pained gasps of his crew as they struggled to stay awake, and stay alive.

Forcing his eyes open, he was greeted by the sight of his yeoman, Jaclyn Heart, dead at the foot of her console. She'd been with him for years, they'd been honored to serve together against pirates, vented to each other about the idiocy of the brass, and talked to each other about family problems. She'd told him how she wanted to settle down and start a family on Earth when her tour of duty was over.

And now she was dead, killed because of some trigger-happy alien. And to think, hours ago everything had been so peaceful, so hopeful about what they'd find behind the relay; perhaps a new Garden world for the UHE to claim as its own, or another cache of Prothean technology. Instead, all they'd found was death and destruction.

Searing the image of his friends' corpse, of his fellow captains were atomized in their ships, of the defenseless and naïve scientists who foolishly decided to stay when they should have fled the moment the alien fleet arrived in the system - and paying the price in blood for that decision.

Grabbing the railings of the CIC, he forced himself to his feet and looked to see who else was on their feet. A few others were up: the pilot, his XO, a couple crewmen, and a navigations officer. Everyone else was either dead, or close to it. Even those who were up looked worse for wear.

"Sir, you're bleed! Are you alright?" His XO rushed to his side and helped him down from the CIC. He was about to say he didn't need any help, when he winced audibly in pain and looked down. His uniform, once a pristine white, was now stained red with his blood.

"We need to get you down to the med bay sir. You've lost a lot of blood." His XO responded as he tried calling the elevator. There was no response from the shaft besides the keypad, usually blue in color, shifting to red. He slammed a fist into the wall. "Damn it!"

"Stop, it's alright. What are the damages? How many people have we lost?" Xinjiang wanted- no, he NEEDED to know how many he'd lost to the aliens.

His XO hesitated for a moment, before bringing up his Omni-Tool. "Engineering is gone, sir. Everyone down there is dead after we used the relay in our damaged state. The hangar's collapsed and we've got people trapped down there in need of medical attention. Decks 1-6 are completely gone, thanks to the courtesy of the giant holes in our side that sucked the oxygen out before we could seal them off. Only deck 7 is still intact, for the most part, so the med bay is doing everything it can for our wounded." He paused and lowered his arm. "We've lost 85% of our crew sir, and this ship is useful for little more than scrap at this point."

The words washed over him and a sinking feeling settled in his gut, but Xinjiang schooled his features and nodded. "When will the UHE forces in the system arrive to help us?"

"A few hours, sir. Once they do, we'll be hauled to the dockyard above the planet, and everyone on-board will be sent down to Sacred Heart hospital on the planet to get our wounds treated. Afterwards, those of us who are capable of doing so are to report to General Williams on the planet below to give our assessment of the threat." His XO paused and, for the first time since this whole thing had started, he looked to him in worry. "What do we tell them sir?"

"It's simple: we tell them the truth. We tell them that another race of genocidal bastards has unjustly attacked us, killed innocent civilians, and plan on coming here to do the exact same thing." Xinjiang gazed out at the garden world, the world that had already endured so much hardship in its lifetime, the world that would be the battlefield of yet another violent war, and sighed.

"We tell them that we need to prepare for war."

Palaven, Hierarchy High Command

Those who said that Turian's were incapable of playing the game of politics with anything other than a gun didn't understand Turian's. Turian society was steeped in politics with the clans, with friendships, alliances, even rivalries dating back millennia. It was nothing overt, not usually anyway; it mostly revolved around their body-language, the octave of their voices, even how seriously a spar was taken. The most overt showing of Turian politics however, was when the Primarch's met to discuss matters of state.

The Primarch's of the Turian Hierarchy met twice every standard galactic year, once at the beginning to discuss the upcoming plans for the Hierarchy and Turian people, and once at the end to see the results of those plans and determine what should be done next. Only things of such import that they could drastically affect Turian lives would meetings be held ahead of these scheduled times, and doing so for anything short of galaxy changing was akin to political suicide. Whenever these impromptu meetings are called however, every Primarch of every world, from the High Primarch of Palaven to the Primarchs from the outer colonies attends, no exceptions. Not only that, but the best Generals and Admirals at the Hierarchy's disposal were in attendance as well.

It was such an important event that the captain's nervousness over the QEC went ignored by the those present; it just made it clear that he had something he thought was important enough to warrant this meeting.

"Captain Procmius, you may begin."

The captain nodded. "Thank you, sirs." He paused for a moment and took a deep breath to dispel any nervousness that remained. "I was on my routine patrol of relay 314, as I am required to do every 6 galactic standard months, when I was alerted to an anomaly at the relay; it was active."

"Active? How is that possible!?" The Primarch of Invictus shouted. Primarch Fedorian knew him well; the two of them had served together in the 19th Platoon diligently, fought against the hordes of Blood Pack that would assault Turian colonies with barely-hidden Batarian Hegemony-funded slavers; during that entire time, he had not once seen him truly lose himself in anger or worry.

"I think the better question is who would be stupid enough to do so?" Fedorian stated. "Do you have any idea who may have done it?"

Fedorian saw the flash of regret in the captain's eyes. "Yes sir... it was a new species, one that came from behind the relay..."

Fedorian closed his eyes in thought. "You're certain of this?"

"Yes sir. I had my ships examine the wreckage for any bodies we could find."

"Wreckage? What do you mean 'wreckage'?" General Desolas Arterius interjected.

The captain flinched and started wringing his hands together; a common tell that a Turian felt guilty of something.

"One of my fellow captains in the patrol fleet decided to open fire on the aliens for breaking Citadel law when they activated the relay; a law that they had no possible way of knowing. After they had attempted peaceful contact." Procmius sighed. "I have ordered the XO and crew of his ship to place him in the brig until he can face justice."

That certainly got a reaction from many of the Primarch's, himself included. He could still remember when he'd heard about the Quashim Incident. At first, he'd been overjoyed that his people had acted so admirably in defense of the colony that he'd personally wanted to shake the hand of the captain who'd taken charge. Then he'd learned that 'captain' at the time of the attack had killed his CO to take command. Regardless of the results, he and many others felt that he and the crew that had supported him needed to be punished for killing an officer, and not putting the man who killed that officer in the brig. Respectively of course.

But, of course, the bare-faced Turian's name had reached the Asari and Salarian's, and it'd only gone downhill from there. He was a hero in the eyes of their allies, and even some Turian fighters on the planet, and any of the typical actions would have caused major political backlash. So, Fedorian had suggested the only thing he could: patrol duty.

It was unanimously agreed upon.

And after what he was just told? He was glad he'd decided to do that instead of having him executed or discharged. He'd thought with his head instead of his guns; a trait rare among the Turian race, and one he'd done his best to foster among his brothers and sisters.

"Have you moved to pacify this species?"

The captain shook his head. "No sir. I've had my ships remain in position outside the relay to prevent anyone from entering or leaving."

Fedorian nodded. "Alright; I'll alert Councilor Calatius and he'll inform the Asari of a new species in the galaxy. Maintain your position for now, and in a few days' time the diplomats will reach your location-"

"Hold just a moment, Primarch Fedorian!" The shout drew their attention across the chambers to the Primarch of Taetrus.

"Yes, Primarch Fauscius?" His irritation at being interrupted was obvious with the higher octaves of his voice. The hint that he was annoyed was enough to prompt the lesser Primarch to continue quickly.

"Recently, I've had some of my researchers combing through the Menae Archives searching for any caches of Prothean technology that we may have missed on worlds we'd already colonized, or on worlds that hadn't been cross-checked with the Archives. We found that none of our planets had any new caches of tech, but it also told us of a few systems behind Mass Relays yet to be opened." The Primarch paused. "314 was one such relay."

"What is your point? It is likely the cache the Prothean's left for this species on their home world." The Primarch of Invictus asked.

"My point is that if we were to, say, conquer this new species and absorb them into the Hierarchy, we would have access to this cache of tech."

"Fauscius, do you understand what you're suggesting?" Fedorian cast his hand towards Procmius. "The captain informed us that this species attempted to initiate a peaceful contact with us; when the galaxy learns of that, how do you think they will react to us conquering them?"

The Primarch in question raised his hands to placate him. "I understand completely the consequences. But I also understand the benefits that the Hierarchy could reap. Think about it," He implored, "every species has brought ground-breaking technology from their Archives upon discovery. The Asari brought their Kinetic Barriers; the Salarian's the Omni-Tool; the Volus brought Food Synthesizers for Levo, Dextro, and Ammonia-based species; and we brought schematics for Biotic Amps far ahead of anything the Asari had, things that we didn't bother to build because we hadn't discovered them yet. This new species could have anything in their cache left for them, from new weapons designs to a miracle medicine that cures any ailment."

"If we had access to that, we could control that technology, and use it to bolster the Turian economy, not just the military." He continued. "Primarch Fedorian, after saying all of this, I request that we send a pacification fleet behind 314 to covertly conquer this species and secure the data cache."

This was not as easy a choice as Fedorian would have liked. On one hand, what he was being asked to do was a crime that we lower his species to the same heights as that of the Batarians. Countless Turian's would die, countless more of this new species would die to defend their world, and would likely forever view his species in the same vein the rest of the galaxy viewed the Rachni; something to be hated and feared. Not only that, but if the Council ever got wind of this, the political backlash would be enormous. As it stands most species view his people as little more than war-mongering conquerors, and that would only get worse if they found out they'd conquered a species after they'd attempted peaceful contact.

On the other hand, though, this may be just what his species needed. Despite the fact the Turian's were a council race, and the best military in the galaxy, their economy had tanked in recent decades to the point they'd had to increase the already large debt they were in with the Republics and Union. It was only made worse when the Volus were trying to separate from them and bring any credits with them; something he was certain that the STG was doing its best to facilitate. A new species, one with new technology that could majorly affect the galaxy, could be just what his people needed to get back on equal footing with the Asari and Salarians.

But was it worth the risk?

After a moment of thought, he turned towards Procmius. "How advanced were these aliens?"

"I couldn't truthfully tell you sir; they had three ships, while I had thirty-eight. Only a single ship survived, albeit with breaches throughout its hull, and it fled soon after. I can't tell you if it's kinetic barriers are so advanced it can withstand so many shots, or if its armor is thick enough, but either way, their ships can take a lot of damage. Still, if their home world is on the other side, then that ship must be one of the only ones they have left."

Fedorian nodded. "Understood; thank you for your report, and for telling us of this. General Desolas, you shall oversee the attack. Understood?"

"Yes sir!" The general responded curtly, saluting with practiced efficiency.

"Should we inform the Councilor of this then, sir?"

He shook his head. "No, not yet at least. Our Councilor would likely tell the others of what we plan to do, given his proclivity for diplomacy with the other races. We shall still tell him," he assured them when he saw a few uncertain looks in the eyes of his fellow Primarch's, "I personally shall tell him once Desolas and his fleet are in the aliens' system."

Everyone nodded and stood to leave as Procmius logged off. As everyone began to file out of the room, Fedorian raised his Omni-Tool and began making the transfers. His fingers paused just above it, poised to make the order. Thinking it over, he could imagine the many possibilities that awaited them behind the relay; an already broken species that would offer no resistance in space and be easily beaten on the ground; a species on par with the Turian's before the Asari had found them, where the race was willing to fight to the death before it surrendered; or, the more worrying prospect, a threat on par with the Rachni that he'd authorized the conquest of.

'I might regret this, but it's better to be safe than sorry when dealing with the unknown.' He thought to himself as he added one more thing to the list of forces being sent.

Shanxi, Empire Command Center

"And you're certain of this?"

"Yes, general Williams. The aliens attacked us without provocation, and I'm certain that they will be coming to conquer Shanxi." Captain Xinjiang informed him.

General Williams sighed. "Alright. Thank you for informing me of this threat. Go get some rest; I doubt there will be much time for that in the coming days."

Xinjiang nodded, saluted, and stalked out the door. As it slid shut behind him, General Stephen Williams held his head in his hands and sighed.

"Something wrong, general?" His aide, a blonde woman he knew came from Earth, asked.

"I'm just wondering how bad my luck is to be posted on the planet that the first real battle between us and another species will take place on." He stood and walked over to his window in the office. "Everything I do will be looked at with a critical eye, my every action picked apart for flaws; if I lose here, I'll be a failure. From what the captain just told me, I've no idea what to expect. Unknowns aren't good in war time."

"Well, I think you need to have a little bit of hope. If you win this, you'll go down in history as a legend. Besides, I think the odds are stacked in your favor sir." The woman responded as she walked next to him. "This is Shanxi. This colony faced so much hardship, so much conflict during the Inter-Planetary War that they know how to deal with it; they were the reason we were even aware of the Hive in the first place, and their soldiers were some of the deadliest in the entire Human-Hive War. The only planet the aliens could have chosen that would be worse to attack would be Earth itself."

He sighed regardless. "Maybe so, but I've lived here for years. If I fail, if the aliens manage to conquer or kill us all, then I won't just have failed as a general, I'll have failed as a resident of Shanxi."

The woman blinked. "Sir?"

"Look at the city below us and tell me what you see."

After nearly a minute of silence, the woman spoke up. "I see a city like one I'd find on Earth, sir. I see people going about their lives without a care in the world, children going to school, skycars flying through the sky as people rush to their jobs, I can even see the soldiers training."

General Williams smiled. "When I look at this city, I see a place of hope. Despite all the tragedy these people have gone through, they've managed to rebuild their colony and make it something so great that everyone is rushing to live, or at least visit here. It's why I'm so worried about failing these people; after living here for so long, I can see how great they and this colony are."

He turned to her and nodded to her. "Tell me, what forces do we have on hand?"

The woman raised her Omni-Tool. "We have exactly 1 troop division of Empire marines, medical support staff, combat engineers, maintenance, and military police; two armor divisions of Mako Mk. 3 tanks; an air division of Hornet gunships and Kodiak dropships; 2,000 Mk. 1 Spark-class combat robots; 4,000 Mk. 2 Spark-class combat robots; 1 Biotic division; a few teams of N7 here on shore leave; and the Shanxi militia." The woman paused and tallied it all up in her head for a moment. "All together, we have a few hundred thousand combat worthy troops, a few thousand militiamen to bolster our numbers, and 6,000 combat robots. More than enough to defend the colony until the Empire can send reinforcements."

Williams sighed. "Perhaps; if I know the Empire, then they will consolidate their forces in the rest of our space before they send reinforcements here. It shouldn't take long, no more than a few days, two weeks at the most, before they come in force. Still, if these aliens are anything like us, they will bring millions of soldiers to conquer us. And if they're like the Hive? The reinforcements may come too late."

"We'll survive sir; you'll make sure of that." With nothing left to say, she turned and left his office to go fulfill her duties.

"I hope you're right." He mumbled as he approached the QEC, preparing to alert the Empire.

Authors Note: So what'd you guys think? Is it any good, anything I should change or fix? Let me know in the reviews please, and give me your thoughts on the chapter as well so I can get a general feel for where your heads are at.

Oh, and before I forget, do you think I should add Codex Entries at the bottom of the chapter or leave things to your imagination aside from the descriptions in the story? Let me know what you think I should do.

Anyway, don't forget to favorite, follow, review, and share with your friends. Bye!