-May 2157, Viper Nebula, Skyllian Verge. Asari diplomatic vessel Sofia Fos -

A sleek blue vessel sat in the middle of space, silver starlight gleaming off its curves. More artwork than space faring vessel the ship would have looked like it had just came off a showroom floor if not for the terrible gashes that raked across the back of the ship and the dark smoke that poured from its engines.

The beautiful image was tarnished as an explosion ripped through the port side of the ship, its side now billowing the same blue black smoke as the ship bucked against multiple smaller impacts raining down on its hull. The secondary impacts were not weapons fire but parts of the hull from its last escort bouncing off it. While the ship was on the far range of its attackers cone of fire its damaged engines meant that every second spent in real space was another second for the gunners of the enemy ship to cycle the mass drivers and and fire another round.

Inside the ship a dozen blue humanoids busily set about determining the damage to their ships systems. Their crisp military actions as seemingly otherworldly as their beauty and grace. Only one member of the crew seemed to not be performing some sort of task. Sitting in the command chair the woman, for it very much was a woman though her age like that of her crewmates was hard to tell, schooled her features so as not to show her worry before turning to address the captain.

"Captain what's the status of the ship" The woman asked in a calm sure voice that had been trained over the centuries to not let any of her fear slip though.

"That last attack practically crippled us matriarch, I'm getting red and yellow lights across the board. Weapons and shields are out, coms are down to short range audio, and the engines will only last us another minute, good news though is that we can make it to the relay in half that time." Replied the captain as another hit rocked their ship. More pieces of what had been the Theia elpitha bouncing off of their hull "New data coming in. life support is barely holding on and navigation is now down. If we make it to the relay we will be jumping blind."

They were already on the edge of explored space. Their meeting spot chosen due to the need for secrecy and their contacts paranoia. The council had only agreed to the meeting after the matriarch had agreed to take what had amounted to a small fleet with her. A fleet that they had thought would be enough to deal with any double crosses. But the council nor the matriarch had been expecting to be ambushed by a sizeable portion of the Batarian Home Fleet halfway through their discussions.

"Goddess help us but anything is better than staying here and dealing with these pirates. Set course for the relay, divert all power to the engines and start blasting out an emergency beacon and have all commandos prep for boarding." Commanded the matriarch gripping the back of the captains seat to hold herself steady as the ship accelerated.

"You want us to repel a boarding party. Do you really think those slavers will follow us through?" asked the navigations officer who was patching up a cut on the com officers head.

"Most likely they would, the dammed Batarians wouldn't want it getting out that they attacked an asari diplomatic vessel and the fleet accompanying it." replied the matriarch in an offhand fashion as she watched the mass relay grow closer and closer. The matriarch tried to be strong for her crew but her heart was filling with dread, the relay they were running for was mostly unmapped though intel said it should take them somewhere between Turian space and deeper into the Skyllian Verge

The sleek Asari ship cut through space as its engines started to grow white from the extra power being forced though its damaged power conduits. Behind it the Batarian fleet started to split down the center in a tactic that was not only designed to have the faster frigates encircle the fleeing ship but give the large dreadnaught a clear line of fire with its main gun.

The matriarch had to give it to whoever was behind the attack, they had really put their all into making sure her group didn't make it back from their meeting with their contact. In fact she still wasn't sure her contact was not responsible for the attack. They had been on their last leg out of the system taking a minute to get their small fleet of seven ships aligned and in formation when a Batarian fleet came out of nowhere and practically rammed into them.

The stars seemed to explode around the small vessel as near misses from missiles started to rock the ship, its small but powerful engines pushing it along as bullets from the frigates whizzed by. Reaching to relay the engines started to sputter and flicker, the core inside sending out blasts of energy in its death throes before the engines died out. Just as it seemed that they would not make it the blue glow of the relay got brighter as it spun up and a bolt of blue energy reached out and grabbed the ship shooting it out into the unknown reaches of space.

-Relay 314, somewhere near terminus space Far Ranger-

Admiral Corso Williams watched as his fleet moved around in space outside of his ship. His ships some of the newest models the alliance had to offer were part of ninth fleet dedicated to the exploration of space outside of Galactic Alliance borders. Staring out into space he watched the small dots of the fleet tenders head off towards the relic, some of them stopping and laying the groundwork for the Golan one defense platform that would be built next to the strange tuning fork.

The turning forks as the fleet called them were as big a mystery to them as the exotic element zero that that it required to operate. The cache of information that had been discovered on mars during the early days of inner system colonization had explained the purpose of the web of tuning forks that crisscrossed Alliance space and apparently the greater galaxy. Both its purpose to move ships from one point to another and its hidden purpose to guide those who found it down a specific technological path.

A path that relied on the exotic element that was entirely absent from their home system. Not that it mattered as they had already started down a vastly different path before the discovery of mass effect technology. Because of this hidden secret each relay that was found had its targeting data of nearby systems copied then scrubbed.

The next step was setting up the Golan space defense platforms that the fleet tenders were busy buzzing around. The space stations, almost the size of a destroyer in its self were not cheap and therefor when and where they were constructed was heavily regulated. If the relay was in dead space outside of a nebula it got a couple Golan ones or maybe a larger Golan two if it was a well-traveled hyperlane. But the ones that existed inside a solar system especially one of the capital planets got the Golan threes, a twenty-eight-hundred-meter-long space station capable of housing its own wing of starfighters and holding its own against a group of destroyers by itself.

This was the last on in this sector of Alliance space. Data from their outermost colony planet of Shanxi had brought them here. All other mass relays shot off into unexplored space. "Well unexplored for now" Corso thought, as soon as the construction crews arrived to build the space station his fleet would be using the nav data to set off and see what was at the other end of the relay.

Turning to stare at the large holographic display in the middle of the bridge Admiral Williams checked on the formation of his fleet. His three star destroyers sitting proudly in the center of the fleet, the two more avian looking Defender-class Star Destroyers trailing behind their more angular Nebula-class Star brethren All around them his six Majestic-class heavy cruisers formed an outer shell of defense against any attack.

In the back of his fleet his singular Endurance-class fleet carrier and four Agave-class picket ships were being protected by the remainder of his MC-30 frigates, their smooth fishlike hull standing in contrast to the more mechanical and angular designs of the carrier. his ships were arranged in a defensive position with his gunboats circling the outside of the fleet while the cruisers created a barrier between the destroyers and whatever might come out of the relay.

Because he was going to go explore unknown space he had been given command over a much larger fleet than he expected. Though he wondered if the twenty-one ship fleet would send the wrong message, he knew that military command were afraid of them bumping into whatever dark force had caused the Prothens to run and hide. But what if they ran into another alien race, one that was friendly. would the large fleet on their doorstep cause them to panic and attack or run and hide?

Getting ready to hand the bridge over to his XO and rest for the night the admiral was startled when the rings that sat in the center of the relic started to spin up. As the Admiral watched stunned a small part of his brain started shouting out orders getting his people ready to greet whatever was coming though.

-Relay 314 Sofia Fos-

"Lock down decks three along with decks seven through nine" Yelled one of the crewmembers as her fingers quickly tapped commands into the computer.

"Captain all systems show red, everything except backup life support and maneuvering thrusters are out." Shouted another crewmember who quickly leaned back avoiding the sparks that shot out of her console as a random power surge short circuited it.

"What about coms? We need to get a message of help out as soon as we can before those pirates decide to follow us." The Captain said now seated in the chair the Matriarch had been in.

"Um captain I am afraid we may have larger concerns at the moment." Stated the matriarch as she stared out the forward observation window.

"And what ohh mighty matriarch could be more concerning than being in a dead ship with a large fleet behind us." Growled the captain as she tried to control the circus that was her bridge.

Raising her hand the matriarch simply pointed out the window. Turning to see what the matriarch was pointing at the captain's mouth fell open in astonishment. "I do believe having a large unknown fleet ahead of us would be much more concerning."

The entire bridge stopped moving as each crewmember turned to look out the windows at the large fleet surrounded the relay. Near twenty some unknown ships were floating in the space around them as numerous smaller craft that she could only assume were fleet tenders and fighters buzzed around the fleet moving from ship to ship. But what amazed the matriarch the most was the size of the fleet, while it's hard to gauge the size of anything in space she could swear that most of those ships were larger than a Turian dreadnought.

From what she could see outside the window there were five or six different types of ships floating around them, most looked like metal triangles but there were some with more curved natural lines that looked like they were grown instead of built.

As she was looking out she noticed two small crafts fly slowly towards the ship, bright lights turning on and slowly working their way along the ship. When one of the fast dark craft darted in front of the observation window she was able to make out a bit more of the craft. It was a long sleek ship that with a neck that seemed to stretch for five or six meters as it slowly glided in front of them, the body that attached to the neck had a darkened cockpit which the matriarch estimated could fit two Asari in it, and a bank of large engines seated right behind them.

"Matriarch the small ships are scanning us, they seem to be searching for something in our computers." The Captain said astonishment in her voice. That these aliens computers could talk with her ships was interesting and started to raise questions in her mind about who exactly they were.

"Let them, they are probably wondering why an alien ship has popped up right in the middle of their fleet. "She said trying to calm the crew. Her own extensive history with dealing with other cultures told her to move slowly. And hey them not shooting right away was a better start than some she had experienced in her early years working for the Asari council. " As long as they only access stuff that is common knowledge to the galaxy let them, it might turn out that they are friendly." Said the matriarch though she privately wondered why a friendly species would have such a large fleet and what they were planning to do with it.

"I'm sure the group who discovered the Yahg said the same thing" Muttered the captain before turning back to her crew. "Ok I want everyone to start the fallen star protocol, secure and lock any sensitive information or technology and get ready to destroy and abandon the ship."

- Relay 314 Far Ranger-

Admiral Williams sensed more than heard the two visitors to the bridge come up behind him. Both of them obviously roused from bed by the sounds of their voices. "Corso if this is another bloody drill I'm going to let my commando's use the hallway outside your quarters as target practice" Grumbled the dark-skinned man standing in full battle armor, his helmet tucked away under his arms.

The man's companion stood beside him in what appeared on first glance to be a long flowing bathrobe with a small metal cylinder hanging off her leather belt. Her clothing along with her pale white skin and shocking red hair stood in stark contrast to the man though Corso knew she was every bit the fighter the man was.

"Because of the nature of the current situation I'm going to let that threat against a commanding officer slide Major Vau" Corso said stressing the word major though his tone and the twinkle in his eyes gave away a hint of playfulness.

Before Vau could respond the woman worked her way into the conversation with the skill and experience that came from having to separate the two on more than one occasion. "What is with the alarms? I had just gotten John put down for the night and my comm started blaring with a message calling me up here." She said mentioning her son John Sheppard, the only child on this military expedition. Her brining John along with her had caused some of the crew to call her Sacagawea behind her back, which had caused them to undergo a one on one self-defense course with her that ended with them on the mat bleeding and bruised.

"We have made contact with an unknown vessel of alien origin"

" Ha-ha leave it to Mr. Overachiever to complete our mission before even leaving the system". Corso bellowed as he let out a loud laugh.

"They came through the relay" Corso said causing Williams to instantly stop laughing and his open happy expression immediately morph into the serious expression of a seasoned command officer. Sheppard's face also hardened and she moved over to look over the shoulder of one of the sensor officers.

"Their only appears to be one ship mam" The officer replied predicting her next question. "The ship seems heavily damaged if the holes in it are anything to go buy. And either they are choosing not to contact us or are unable to do so."

"But our computers were able to talk to theirs?" Sheppard asked turning back around to look at Admiral Williams. If the ship came through the relay then it was probably using similar technology to that found in the Mars ruins. Technology they had cracked a long time ago.

"Yes though the computer is still skimming though theirs trying to create a language database to allow us to talk to them." Admiral Williams said.

"Which is why you want me around to greet them if they do come aboard." Sheppard said cracking a small smile and trying to diffuse some of the stress in the air "You never have been that good at first impressions"

Admiral Williams reply was cut off as one of the technicians announced that they now had a visual feed on the ship from their reconnaissance vessels. The cameras slowly panned over the ship showing extensive battle damage to its hull as well as whole sections opened to space. As it drew closer to what appeared to be the main bridge Major Vau and Admiral Williams both let out a small whistle that earned a defeated sigh from Commander Shepard as well as a phantom pang where he wallet would be as she realized she would be having to pay out a bet she never thought she would lose.

- Relay 314 Sofia Fos-

Back on board the Asari ship the matriarch and her crew were forced to sit and wait while the unknown fleet worked on translating their languages so they could talk. After what felt like an hour they noticed two of the smaller triangular ships start to move towards them.

"Arieth send a message to the commandos and have them prepare to repel any possible boarding actions." Commanded the matriarch, the crew on the scout ship must have seen the action in the bridge because they seemed to be waving with both hands now and making some kind of gestures.

"What do you think they are trying to say?" Wondered Arieth looking at the figures in the cockpit from her communications station, she had to admit they looked kind of comical. The crew watched as the two ships drew closer to them. Its design and large engines spoke of speed and danger, this was a ship that was meant to strike fast and hard.

"Could these be some kind of destroyer?" asked the matriarch looking at Laranth.

"I don't think so, I think they could be a frigate. I mean look at those guns, yeah they are mean looking but they only seem to have about a dozen. And its size, it's only a little bit smaller than the Sofia and were about 500m in length." Said the captain looking back out at the scout ship which was slowly moving away from them and back towards the main fleet.

"Mam im getting something over the comm's. Its full of static but I think it's from the fleet." Said Arieth,

"Put them of screen, matriarch if you would take the captain's chair I believe this is more in your range of expertise" said Laranth motioning for the matriarch to take a seat, fixing her long dress the matriarch walked over to the captain's chair and got comfortable before giving the com officer permission to establish the link.

"Its audio only since we are on backup systems. Also the dish seemed to have taken some damage so expect static in the feed." Said Arieth as she established the link and ran it through multiple systems to clean it up as best she could.

"I'll put it up now" The distorted but masculine voice came over the comms, static interrupting every other word.

"Atten*static* Unknown *static*sel This is *static**static* ranger"

"Hold on I'll try to clear it up some more, there that should do it." Said the comm officer frantically running every program she had been taught at the naval academy and a few she had picked up off the streets of Omega.

"Attention unknown vessel this is the Galactic Alliance Destroyer Far Ranger. The two frigates coming up on your position are going to latch on to you with their tractor beams and bring you into one of the landing bays where we can assess the damage to your ship. Do not worry we mean you no harm, please respond if you can understand this message." Said the voice in a calm and soothing tone before stopping to give them a chance to respond, while on the Asari ship they waited for the ships to start to tow them in wondering what a tractor beam was.

Seconds after that thought crossed their minds they felt a slight tug as they started to move, they noticed a thick blue beam that was being emitted from a dish on the frigate that seemed to be latched onto their ship like some kind of rope.

"Wow I wonder how they are doing that?" wondered the captain.

"Magnets maybe," The Matriarch said in a small attempt at humor "I'm not really sure. Though I'm sure you can ask them once we get on one of their ships." Said the Matriarch equally frightened and astonished at this technology. She didn't know how strong these 'tractor beams' were but if they could just reach out and snatch a ship out of space it was frightening to think what could be done with it.

"Arieth try to bring up our coms. I would like to talk to our would-be rescuers." The matriarch said straightening her dress as best she could and sitting down in the captain's chair.

"Ok mam you should be good to go. I latched on to their broadcast but you will only be able to get audio for the moment"

"Greetings Admiral Williams I am Matriarch Benezia of the Asari republics. On behalf of my crew and myself I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to you and your men for any assistance you can give."

"Yeah and thank you for not blasting us with those big cannons you have on your ship" Muttered Laranth watching some strange X shaped fighters fly by them as they moved farther into the fleet. If Benezia heard the comment she made no remark but instead continued talking.

"Though I wish our first meeting could be under better circumstances." She said keeping her voice level though she was wondering how they would react once she dropped the anvil. "Our ship has been heavily damaged and we fear that those who attacked us will soon be coming through the relay to try and finish the job."

On board the Far Ranger this caused a gasp and for the crew to begin muttering amongst themselves. "Ugg of course something had to go wrong. First, we find a group of space babes who are just dying to show their gratitude to the brave men who rescued them. And now we might be getting drug into some stellar war. Why does the universe always do this to me?" Groaned Major Vau rubbing his hand over his face in despair.

"I'm sure the galaxy has more important things to do that ruin your chance at a date Major." Said Williams before turning to look at Sheppard "Hannah you're the diplomatic one how do you think we should treat this?"

"I'm not totally sure Admiral; we don't even know who these people are or who is after them. I think for now we should treat them like we would anyone else looking for asylum. We can bring them in and repair their ship and talk to them until we can learn more about this situation. And if the people chasing them come through the 'fork then we will try to set up a dialog with them." Said Sheppard looking at the screen showing the picture of the inside of the alien ship. Something about this was causing the skin on her neck to crawl, but she wasn't sure if it had to do with these aliens or something else.

"Ok I think we can do that. But I really don't want to be the first officer to go down in history for dragging us into a galactic war." Said Williams "But just in case why don't you go prepare in case we need you to lead the troops in battle"

"Admiral are you still there?" Asked the voice of the matriarch over the intercom. Even though she wasn't letting it show the Admiral figured she was worried, he would be if he was in a dead ship surrounded by unknown aliens.

"Yes, sorry for leaving you hanging like that I was just talking some things over with my officers. We are more than willing to bring you in and give you any assistance necessary to repair your ship but we are not looking for a battle to fight. This was supposed to be a peaceful mission of exploration not a military operation."

"Peaceful explores?' said Matriarch Benezia in disbelief. "Who sends so many warships if their only mission is to make contact with another species?"

"Maybe they know something we don't. Or maybe they ran into a race that has made them weary enough to always expect the worst" Said Laranth her eyes glued out the viewport as she watched all of the alien ships fly past. What she wouldn't give to get in the seat of those fighters, hell she would even like to give one of those bombers a try. From what she could see there were three or four different kinds of snubfighters and bombers flying around like bees guarding a hive.

"And we do not wish to drag you into one Admiral," said Benezia trying to calm the man's fears. 'but on the other hands those ships look really powerful. And depending on the outcome of the next few days we could have a new ally and be able to get rid of the Batarians once and for all. Who knows we may even be able to clean out the terminus while we are at it.' She thought causing a wicked smile to play over her beautiful face.

"I am glad to hear that Matriarch. But just in case this doesn't work out can you tell me about the people chasing you?" asked the admiral.

"Of course Admiral though I doubt they will want to talk or listen to reason." Said the matriarch.

"And what makes you say that Matriarch. Everyone is reasonable to some degree and I do not know any captains who would put his crew in harm's way if it could be avoided." Said Williams wondering at just what was chasing these people.

"That it true of most Admiral. But what drives these people is greed and fear, the greed of conquest and the fear of what their masters would do to them should they fail. The race that is chasing us are known as the Batarians and are ruled over by a military regime known as the hegemony. Their entire economy runs on slavery and piracy. And they only thing they fear is what their masters back home will do to them if they fail." Benezia said before waiting for the response.

"That is informative Matriarch. Just in case they do end up being unreasonable could you tell me how many ships were chasing you before you jumped through the..Relay" Asked the Admiral.

"I think we are all going to get that information Admiral" said the Matriarch as the Relay once again sprang to life.

-Relay 314 Terminus Space-

Everyone onboard the Alliance ships watched as ship after ship jumped into the system. The bridge of the Far Ranger was soon filled with the noise of organized chaos as people began shouting out orders and taking readings of the incoming ships. Over the next thirty seconds they watched as over three dozen craft jumped into the system. Most appeared in size to be cruisers and frigates but with alien ships you couldn't be sure.

"Admiral" said one of the yeomen on the scanners. "All alien ships seem to contain large amounts of Element Zero. Also from the looks of it they seem to be built around long hollow shafts in the center of their ships that we believe could be railguns." The Admiral knitted his brow in worry. The Alliance knew about Element Zero though had never worked it into their machinery, though if these people had, then were they the enemy the computer warned them about? No, the ships didn't look right, they looked more straight and boxy instead of like something he would expect to see on his plate.

"Unknown alien craft you are entering sovereign Alliance space. Please cease acceleration and reply." Said the admiral once the bridge crew had targeted them, thankfully the Asari computers had contained a large database of languages including one that bore the name of the oncoming aliens.

"Pitiful Alliance craft it would suit you to show respect to your betters. If you surrender your selves and the Asari then the Hegemony may be merciful." Said a figure that shocked the Admiral as he looked at the thing on the view screen. Though male and humanoid it was utterly alien at the same time. Its body was made up of wrinkled yellow skin and its large head held four bug like eyes sitting above two slits where the nose would be. For a moment, the Admiral wondered if they would smell as bad as they look.

"Alien craft please identify yourselves and cease acceleration or we will be forced to shoot. We only wish to talk but the Asari are under our protection and if you fire on them or one of our ships we will be forced to respond in kind." Said the Admiral trying to keep his cool in the face of this puffed up schoolyard bully.

"We are the Hegemony, the rightful rulers of this space. We demand that you surrender your ships and the Asari into our command." Said the Batarian captain.

"I'm sorry but we can't do that." Corso said growing slightly irritated at the Batarian captain. "We would be more than willing to meet with a representative and talk this out but if you do not cease your acceleration or change vectors we will be forced to take action." Said the admiral before muting the mic on his end for a second. "Ensign send word I want every ship to activate shields and charge their plasma batteries. Call down to Sheppard and tell her to begin the meld."

"Yes sir" said the ensign and no sooner had she sent the message than he felt a familiar presence in the back of his mind. He knew that everyone in the crew from pilots and gunners down to technicians and engineers would be feeling the same thing.

Down in the center of the ship Hannah Sheppard sat in the middle of a dark room, its walls filled with monitors showing the space around her. Her bright brown eyes were closed as she concentrated and reached out to begin the meld. She imagined herself at the center of a bright spider web, tendrils shooting off to touch the minds of the people serving on the ship. Then she imagined the web growing and reaching to the other ships.

Bright lights appeared as she connected to her fellow knights on the other ships of the fleet. Each one the center of their own web of connected minds. Thankfully the Senate and Council had deemed the mission important enough to send a large number of knights and masters allowing them to form a proper meld. As the smaller webs on each individual ship connected to the larger one each ship became a single entity in the battle meld, the crew working as one to combat the upcoming threat.

Hannah couldn't help but smile at what she had done. There had been a time when connecting to the minds of her squad mates had been a heavy task and now here she was ready to organize the battle against an unknown enemy. She thought about trying to connect the Asari ship that now was being moved by a tug to free up the frigates, but didn't in case it damaged the meld in some way.

Back on the bridge the Admiral was growing tired of the Batarian and his incessant demand that he surrender his ships. But he allowed the belligerent man, if he was a man, to keep talking. Allowing the 'Pearl Harbor' his Endurance Carrier to disgorge all of its heavy fighters and bombers. Though he preferred the fast and agile TIE predators with their swept back wings or, the trusty XJ7 X-Wing which had been among the first ships the Alliance had produced. The 'Pearl Harbor' mostly carried the heavy avian looking E-wing space superiority fighters and the heavy BTL-S8 K-Wings whose nose mounted swivel cannon could rip apart the hulls of ships and whose proton torpedoes could vaporize whatever was left.

Laranth watched as an endless swarm of fighters and bombers flew past them. Her head crest itched from wanting to be inside one of those flying through space, and her hands flexed automatically as she watched some pilot showing off, for their benefit by doing a barrel roll right past their view port. Her daydreams about alien fighters and their most likely handsome pilots were broken by the matriarchs astounded voice.

"Why are they launching so many fighters? What is wrong with these people? Everyone knows that fighters are no match for bigger ships." Said the matriarch confused why swarms of fighters and bombers seemed to be flying out towards the enemy fleet. Meanwhile Laranth was amazed at how in sync all the ships seemed to be and would have wondered if they had VI flying them if it wasn't for the figures she saw in the cockpits when a plane got close enough.

"What do you think those domes are?" asked Arieth pointing at one of the X shaped craft that was speeding past. Laranth had noticed them as well. Each of the X or E shaped craft seemed to have a small red or blue dome behind the cockpit but she couldn't see anything like it on the small eyeball looking fighters with the swept back wings or the large K shaped bombers.

"Maybe some kind of sensor dish? I don't know but I wonder where the guns on those ships are I haven't seen anything that looks like a mass driver canon?" responded Laranth. Before she could say anything else they felt the ship jump and they seemed be moving faster towards the large ship in the center.

"What's going on, what's happening out there" Demanded Benezia just below a yell. Thankfully for her crew one of the engineers was able to get the cameras on the ships working again and they were given center row to the battle.

End Chapter

Chapter 2

-Relay 314 Terminus Space-

"This is your final warning Batarian ship, break off or be fired upon." Warned the Admiral, his hands held up like a conductor's ready to drop and start a symphony. Only his orchestra was made up of kilometer long ships with enough combined firepower to glass a planet.

"Enough with this senseless prattle; if you will not give us what we desire then we shall take it from you" said the Batarian captain before cutting the connection.

"Bastard didn't even give us his name now how will we know who to send the flowers to." Said the Admiral earning a chuckle from his bridge crew. "All ships prepare for engagement; Fighter squadrons will sweep in and clear out their air support. Bombers and frigates will harry the ships while destroyers will move in to provide artillery support. Let's show the Seventh Fleet they aren't the only ones who can deal with pirates." He said earning a yell from his crew.

The Admiral watched as the Batarian ships moved into position. They moved like a stationary defense platform trying to line up a shot compared to his more maneuverable ships. And if his crew was right then they were only able to fire those big guns straight ahead, while his more angular ships had more than a one hundred and eighty degree firing arc in all three axis.

The admiral watched calmly as the enemy ships lined up on his. If the computer they had discovered on mars was any indication then they would be using Element Zero powered mass drivers. The Alliance were familiar with mass launchers since they seemed to be a favorite of some of the pirate gangs, but no one knew what would happen when hit by one of those slugs. Though the admiral wasn't worried, with the invention of space flight one of the first types of shields that had to be invented were ray shields to stop micro meteors from hitting the hulls of their ships.

The first salvo from the Batarian fleet shot out towards the Alliance ships. Instead of bunching up each one of the Batarian ships picked a different target, unknowingly spelling their doom. The swarm of fighters and bombers seemed to open and allow the slugs to pass harmlessly between them before closing up and continuing their assault.

The slugs themselves kept going until impacting the shield of the Alliance vessels. Luckily for the Batarians ray shielding, though the oldest type of shield in the alliance was also the weakest. Most ships dedicated their shield power to their energy shields to stop the plasma bolts that blasters and turbolasers used.

"Sir hits reported all across the fleet. No damage so far but some of the majestic class cruisers report ray shield strength down to sixty percent." Said the engsin "Destroyers are reading at eighty to ninety percent."

"What about us the large ship fired right towards us?" Asked the admiral, usually he wouldn't have time for idle curiosity in the middle of a battle. But thanks to the meld everyone already knew their purpose and all of the ships were trying to move out of the line of fire. Thankfully his ships were flat and triangular so they presented a hard target head on or from the sides. But if taken from the top or the bottom they were a juicy target, and God forbid if one of those slugs hit the base of the command towers.

"She didn't even register it sir. The 'Rangers' shields only noticed a slight spike before charging back to full." Laughed the ensign.

"So those ships can eventually eat though our shields. But they haven't fired yet so I'm guessing it takes a while to reload. And then they have to actually line up a shot and I have already given them their one free one."

Back on the Asari ship the crew watched in amazement as the Alliance ships just seemed to buck off the attack and keep moving. Just as astounding was the speed of the ships. Each one seemed to maneuver better than any frigate in citadel space, able to move out of the line of fire. And if those cannons on the side of their ships were any indication they would be able to fire from any direction. But where were the mass driver cannons was what the Matriarch was wondering.

The matriarch watched the battle unfold, with the cameras on line and now the scanners she was able to get a good look at the fleet of alien ships that surrounded them. The first thing she noticed was the size of the fleet, with scanners now active she could get a good read on their size. The smallest ships not counting the fighters or those believed to be fleet tenders clocked in at four hundred meters while the three in the center were each as long as the Destiny Ascension.

"Captain there must still be something wrong with the scanners because I am not detecting any element zero whatsoever on the Alliance ships." Said the junior officer at the scanner station. "But I am reading massive amounts of power building up in their guns, goddess there are hundreds of kilowatts of power being sent to each individual gun."

"Matriarch the Alliance vessel is hailing the Batarian dreadnaught, the dreadnaught is not responding, the Batarian fleet is charging weapons and firing into the Alliance fleet" said the scanner technician giving an overview of what everyone could see on the main screens. The Batarian fleet made up of two dozen frigates, one dozen cruisers, and a medium sized dreadnought let loose with their guns sending round after planet shattering round towards the allied fleet at a significant percentage of the speed of light.

The second salvo from the Batarian ships speed towards the outer most part of the fleet and impacted against the shields of the avian looking Majestic-class cruisers causing them to flare under the impact. Before they could get off another shot they noticed that the entire fleet was moving in closer all the while spewing out what could only be fighters and bombers. Slightly worried by the numbers but positive that their own defenses could handle it the Batarian commander ordered his meager squadrons of fighters to launch and intercept what they could.

As the fighters moved to hassle the incoming swarm of ships, the large Batarian dreadnought started to spin up its main gun, aiming at the center vessel of the enemy fleet. Before it could fire another continent shattering round, brilliant bolts of blue and red light shot from the three larger vessels and slammed into the Batarian ship. In seconds, the blue ion bolts hit the ship causing energy to spider web across the ship short circuiting the dreadnoughts shields and allowing the vicious red blaster bolts to burn though the ship's hull, ripping it to pieces and causing men and materials to vaporize from the heat of the plasma

The matriarch watched as the battle unfolded, this new race used strange weaponry that was faster and more accurate than their mass effect cannons. Their ships were able to quickly close the distance and seemed able to take out only the hard points they wanted to without cracking the whole ship apart like the mass effect cannons were designed to. Outside she watched one of the cruisers start to drift as explosions rocked its hull, the second and third rounds had already taken out a number of frigates that hadn't been able to maneuver fast enough and cracked them wide open.

Closer to the action the small Alliance fighters smashed through the Batarian Airforce before turning around to chase them. Dots of pinkish red shot out from the planes only to impact the Batarian ships. The torpedoes passed right through the ships kinetic barriers and impacted the fighters blasting them apart. And the plasma from the fighter's blasters ate into their armor until hitting a fuel line or one of the missiles.

Bypassing the dogfight, the K-Wings buzzed the ships, their rotating turrets on its nose firing at any fighters who had not been taken out by the X or E-wings. Lining up on their respective targets multiple squadrons of K-wings comprised of three bombers dived towards their hardpoints, the onboard astromechs painting the most effective place to hit. Or guestamating since it was an alien ship, but it didn't take a fully functional AI to say hitting the main guns and engines would be a good idea. Getting a hard target lock on the Batarian frigates guns and shield emplacements the heavy bombers let fly with their advanced proton torpedoes.

As the K-wings screamed over the Batarian ships their torps impacted the hull, their speed allowing them to slip through the kinetic barrier like flies in a screen door. Ripping into the hull the torpedoes burst through before exploding in a rain of plasma, the energy released breaking the hull open in places and sending gouts of fire into space and leaving what had not been incinerated by the blast to be sucked out into the cold of space.

With the main guns and shields down on the frigates the bombers moved off to tackle the larger targets. The cruisers were next to be attacked, the K-wings bunching up their proton torpedoes leaving a trail of reddish-orange fire in their wake. Seeing flame spout from many of the larger ships the bombers turned tail and headed back towards the fleet, their job done they were going to leave the clean up to the large cannons of the destroyers and cruisers.

As the dreadnought was being torn apart by the explosions the battle had started to heat up between the smaller ships. The Batarian fighters being quickly taken out by the torpedoes from the Alliance fighters had allowed the small cruisers and bombers to close unmolested. As the cruisers drew closer to the Batarian fleet they let loose with their own cannons like that of the larger ship. Their bolts slamming into the shields of the Batarian ships as their more powerful shields shrugged off the point defense lasers. The Batarian ships had to quickly adapt to using a wolf pack formula and having two ships deal with one alliance ship while a third tried to get a shot off with its main cannons.

The crew of the Asari ship watched in amazement as the Alliance ships moved right into knife fighting range, even moving up beside the enemy ship to deliver a full broadside. And the strange energy weapons they were using were frightening. At first, they assumed it must be some sort of laser but after seeing the damage they were now thinking it was plasma based.

Benezia remembered Aethyta saying something about plasma when she talked about how the Asari needed to branch out. Benezia was starting to thank she was right as she watched the bolts of blue and red plasma bypass the shield to hit the hull. Though they seemed to be moving as fast if not faster than mass driver rounds they didn't have enough mass to be stopped by the shields and were allowed to pass though.

'What we could do with this technology' thought Benezia watching the battle on the screen, "And those blue bolts they seem to be designed to take out shields and systems if the floating ships are any clue'

Soon the laser fire along with the mass driver rounds started to overwhelm the shields allowing the Batarians to land some killing blows. As the alliance frigates started to retreat to let their shields recharge, the destroyers who had been moving into position let out a volley of bolts to cover their escape. The triangular design of the alliance ships allowed them to point every single gun at one target and fire on them.

Seeing the bombers and destroyers ripping through his fleet and feeling the ship breaking apart around him the Batarian commander sent out a distress call that had been given to him if he failed. As the message went out the commander watched as the strange bombers ripped into his ship, their nose mounted turrets taking care of his defenses while their glowing torpedoes drilled into his hull.

With their dreadnought dead in the water and most of their smaller ships destroyed or taken out of the fight by well-aimed shots to their engines the Batarian fleet turned tail and tried to flee from the battle. Instead of pursuing the Alliance fleet allowed the four cruisers and eight frigates to activate the mass relay and leave the battlefield. After watching the battle and the power shown by this unknown race the matriarch fell back into her chair physically and emotionally exhausted by the weeks trials.

"Matriarch we are being hailed by the Alliance ship again, the tug is going to take us to their largest ship where we will meet their Admiral and can talk." said Arieth after a moment breaking the silence that had been smothering the entire ship ever since the battle started. Even without having numerical superiority the Alliance fleet had still won the engagement quickly and with a surprisingly small number of casualties, two cruisers one of which looked like it could be repaired and five frigates that had either been right in front of the enemy fleet or were destroyed by the combined fire of the fleets ship defenses when they got close up, something which no council race ever did. The Asari watched as their comparatively tiny vessel was towed through the fleet. As they drew closer to the central ship the crew let out a gasp at its size

"It's like flying over the Destiny Ascension" said Laranth. "And they just have three of them sitting in the middle of their formation like its normal"

"Maybe it is normal for them." Said one of the crewmembers in a worried tone. If their ships of the line were the size of the Destiny Ascension, then, she wondered what would their dreadnaughts look like?

"Yes and they are taking the scenic route showing us their nice big guns" replied the matriarch as she watched the tall spires quickly pass by under them. The entire bridge crew watched as the large ship went by as the tug slowly worked its way to the middle of the ship. Once there it made a lazy ninety degree turn and headed to the side of the ship letting them glimpse the guns up close before plunging down.

The tug dipped under the side of the ship and turning on its axis it lined up with the massive maw of the bottom hanger. The matriarch watched as the maw drew closer and the protective barrier keeping space out and air in pass over her. She looked at the large bay capable of holding a number of smaller craft along with a frigate or two, all the while trying to find a way to convince these people to join the citadel council or at least ally themselves with the Asari Republics.

Getting directions over the com the crew was quick to shut down the ship as the matriarch along with Laranth and Arieth made their way through the ship and down to the boarding ramp. Awaiting the matriarch at the bottom of the ramp was six of her most trusted commandos.

Getting into position around the matriarch one of the commandos hit a button on her Omni tool and lowered the boarding ramp. Walking out of the ship they were greeted by an entire company of troops in white and blue body armor with a half visor helmet flanking each side of the path. Acting as one the entire company stood straight up and lifted their guns to their chest in salute.

Looking down the formation the matriarch almost tripped in surprise at what was waiting for them at the end. As they got closer she could make out more and more about the beings. The most astonishing part was that they looked just like Asari. Except for the skin tone, hair on their heads, and the fact that there were two males standing beside the woman in the strange brown robes.

Once the Asari delegation met the humans both groups just stared at each other for a moment surprised and excited at meeting a race so much like their own. To the humans who for eons had been wondering what was out there, and for a hundred years if anything was friendly this was like hitting the jackpot.

Most of the Asari were thinking the same thing. Though they had been allied with the Turians and Salarians for over a thousand years the two species were still vastly alien. But here stood a species that outside of a few cosmetic differences seemed very similar. A similarity that would hopefully make forming an alliance easier. Well easier for the politicians, the crew on both sides of the introduction were having much different thoughts about their shared biology.

Though to matriarch Benezia it was a jackpot for different reasons, the new tech these people had used to destroy the Batarian fleet was amazing. For a while her and Aethyta had believed that their tech had stagnated and that the Asari Republics should branch out and not rely so much on eezo, and this race offered the chance. A second reason was that no matter how strong and how loyal the Turians were there just was never enough ships to deal with the Batarians, especially with how they had been acting up lately. But she figured, if she could get this new race with their large starships to join them, then they would have enough people to patrol their borders and deal with the Batarians at the same time.

Coming out of her thoughts as she walked towards the waiting figures she stopped and gave a short bow that was quickly returned. "Greetings I am Matriarch Benezia T'Soni of the Asari Republics. I would like to thank you and your people for your against the Batarian pirates."

"Thank you and on behalf of the Galactic Alliance I would like to welcome you to our ship." Said a tall man with dark skin and graying brown hair. "I am Admiral Corso Williams, the woman to my left is Jedi Knight Hannah Sheppard and the man to her left is Skirata Vau leader of our detachment of Mandalorian Raiders.

The matriarch was listening intently to what the man said though some words did not translate like this mando and jeed'ii. The two people were dressed differently than the others with the man wearing a heavy looking pair of armor and the red haired woman wearing a set of brown robes. She wondered if they were members of the military and if not, what were their duties.

"It is nice to meet you admiral, and as I said my name is Matriarch Benezia and the Asari to my right is my captain Laranth, and to my left is my comm officer Lt Arieth. May I ask how it was that you were able to translate our language so quickly?" she asked.

"If you don't mind I will explain as we walk" Said the admiral leading the group out of the bay and into one of the many large corridors that lined the ship. The inside of the ship was very metallic, with a lived in and well used look as well as some aftermarket touches the crew had added to make the ship less sterile.

"The best way to explain it would actually be to go back several hundred years and tell you how we got here." The admiral said leading them around a maze of corners until ushering them into what looked like a large conference room. In the center of the room was a long oval table with some sort of holoprojector in the middle displaying a set of wings with a sword sticking up from between them.

Motioning for everyone to take a seat the Admiral typed a few commands into the screen on the holoprojector, after a second a solar system popped up showing a yellow sun with nine planets circling it. Zooming in the hologram stopped at the third planet from the sun, a small blue orb with a single moon orbiting it.

"300 years ago in 1947 our planets two superpowers, the United States of America and the United Soviet Socialist Republic were in a space race to see who could land a man on the moon first." As the male spoke matriarch Benezia was trying to make sense of what was he was saying. Apparently in 300 years they had unified their people and achieved interstellar flight. The Salarians were the first to achieve space flight but it had still taking them far longer to make it from there home system to other worlds.

"The United States was the first power to make it to the moon, but upon their arrival they found something more than moon rocks and space dust." Now the hologram was showing a black and white recording. Astronauts in bulky suits were pointing towards a long curved craft that was half buried in the lunar soil. Its organic curves making Benezia think of the smaller frigates that had been hovering around the carrier in the rear of the fleet. "Long ago a species from another galaxy that looked exactly like our selves had set out to see if life existed outside their own galaxy."

"Other galaxies? But that sounds like something out of science fiction" Said the matriarch, did they really expect them to believe that an extragalactic species came to the planet and what integrated with them?

" That is exactly what our own people thought. But along with the history they also left us their technology and designs on how to use it once we got advanced enough to read them." Said the Admiral taking no offence at the Matriarchs words. Though he did find her calling it science fiction funny seeing as how she was currently sitting inside an alien vessel talking to aliens that looked close enough to be distant cousins.

" So that must be why we did not detect any element zero in your ships, you all went down a different tech path." Said Laranth speaking up. She was interested in the new tech and wanted nothing more than to take a very long tour of their engine room.

"That is one of the reasons, the second I will get into a moment. Anyways to not let the secret spill out too soon we contacted a filmmaker and encouraged him to create a universe based on the history and technology of the ship we found. The man's name was George Lucas and in 1976 he released his first movie titled Star Wars, one of the most popular franchises in our space with over 30 movies in its main series along with television shows and countless novels and games."

Hearing about this filmmaker the matriarch couldn't help but think about it the Asari's own dirty little secret below the temple of the goddess on their home world. As the matriarch listened to the man she didn't notice the heavy lidded gaze of the woman sitting at an angle from her or the prickling of her mind as another brushed against it.

Hanna found the emotions of the alien slightly hard to read, she was still able to pick up a number of different ones but she wasn't sure if her problems were due to an alien consciousness or if the woman had some sort of practice blocking mental probes. Brushing deeper past the surface thoughts Hannah let out a gasp and physically pulled back away from the woman. The blue skinned woman was hundreds of years old and Hannah had about gotten lost in the sea of memories. Skirata put his hand on his friend's arm and gave her a questioning glance but Hannah just shook her head saying not to worry before getting a large glass of water and downing it.

" Over the next 50 years we slowly released the technology into our planet jumping our knowledge of physics and the universe ahead by a hundred years. Then in 2027 we made a discovery that shook our entire world and made us decide to reveal parts of the history to the public"

" What was that?" asked Benezia wondering if they had been attacked by some unknown species or if like themselves they had discovered a prothean bacon."

"I must ask what does your species know of the Protheans?" asked Hanna. Benezia let out a mental sigh, thankfully these people had most likely discovered some beacon and not some dangerous new aliens.

"We know they had a galaxy spanning empire centered around the mass relay and element zero technology, and that they disappeared around 10,000 years ago" Said the Matriarch repeating what every child was taught in elementary school.

"That is similar to what we found." said Hanna before bringing up another image on the hologram projector. "It took us four years to get into the computer archives because of how damaged it was but thankfully it was profoundly user friendly. Almost as if it had been meant to be read by whoever found it. The first thing we saw was this warning." Suddenly the new image started, it showed a grainy image of an unknown alien ship coming out of a mass relay and destroying the ships guarding the relay before moving on to the planet. " Goddess what was that" Asked the Asari captain.

"We are not sure, the only thing we have discovered about them is that they are behind the mass relays. According to the computer they use the mass relays to force races down a certain path before they destroy them for some unknown reason."

Before Benezia could object to how crazy that sounded the man in the heavy armor spoke up "Something that always confused the Alliance was why there were so few relays because for every one they found they would find five or six more habitable solar systems just a couple hours hyperspace jumps away"

As Benezia listened she remembered some of the things Liara had said about the Protheans, she would have to get back in touch with her daughter and see what they could find in their own computer. "That seems hard to believe, we have always been taught that the Protheans created the relays, we know there were others before them but we have never gotten records of these invaders."

"We understand that this is a lot to take in and that its slightly unbelievable, but we will share all the information we have gained on them " said Hannah Shepherd, what she didn't tell them was that part of their mission was to spread the warning in hopes of finding a way to beat them should they ever come back.

Moving back to the hologram projector the Admiral pressed a button causing the picture of Earth to pull back and show the image of the galaxy. Slowly eight red rings spread out from Earth's solar system before expanding exponentially and covering a large sector of space. "After the information was released it was quickly decided we needed to spread out and build colonies and ships. To date we have nearly 800 colonies spread throughout our space " although the Admiral neglected to say that many of those planets were simply mines or farming communities.

Looking at the size and scope of the Alliance space the matriarch noticed something she could make use of. "Wow I am surprised you haven't ran into the Turians or Batarians yet admiral." said the matriarch

" The who? I recognized the Batarians but I have never heard of a Turian" The Admiral worried that their borders could be right up against two unfriendly alien nations.

" Is there a way I could highlight certain areas on your galaxy map?" asked Benezia, she was quickly given a data pad and stylus and shown how to outline and highlight on it with the information being transferred to the large projection. Taking both she quickly went about outlining and highlighting the major powers in the universe.

" As you can see the galaxy is composed of many different states, the most of them fall under the authority of the Citadel Council " Said Benezia a pointing to the large blue sectors of space.

" What are those two big ones right beside our systems?" Asked Skirata memorizing the primitive galactic map in case they needed it later.

"The greenish blue one is turian space. The Turians are one of the ruling races of the Citadel and make up the large part of our defensive line. The yellow territory belongs to the Batarians, a race whose entire cast system revolves around piracy and slavery, " said the Matriarch earning quizzical and slightly harsh stares from the humans.

" How is it that you would allow a society that uses slaves continue? Especially if they attack and take your own people?" Asked Hannah, slavery and the entire colonial mindset was despised in Alliance sectors as everyone swore not to make the mistake of the Age of Imperialism ever again.

"I can understand your feelings but there is not much we can do at the moment. The Batarian's Empire rivals the Turian's in size but I want you to look at this sector space " Benezia said pointing at a purple colored sector. "This is the terminus sector and at one third the size of the entire Citadel space is full of pirates and warlords. We could choose to take either them or the Batarians out but the losses would be devastating and allow the other to invade us"

'Though if we had your men and ships to fight with the Batarian fleet we could be rid of those pests and not be weakened to badly' Thought the matriarch.

Both groups were broken out of their thoughts by a beeping from Hannah's comlink. Quickly talking into the commlink for a minute Hanna turned to the Admiral. "Sir Andy just picked up a distress beacon from the Batarian ships. He hasn't been able to translate it but it's his guess that it won't be long before reinforcements show up."

This caused the Admiral's frown to deepen. The majority of the ships had self-destructed after the main portion of the fleet had retreated so he figured the enemy would have been scared off. But with this new information about their size as well as the beacon he started to think that his fleet would have less time than he would like to get out of the system. "I think we should we retreat to Shanxi for the time being. That way we can begin repairs on the Asari craft and the damaged ships can hide in the moon's shadow if necessary." said the Admiral getting up and excusing himself before leaving the room barking orders into his own commlink.

Seeing that the meeting was over Skirata stood up and flashed the Asari his best lady killer smile. "Well since it will be a couple hours until we reach Shanxi how about we go to one of the mess halls and find something to eat?"

"That sounds like a pleasant idea Major. It will allow us to get to know each other in a more informal setting" replied the Matriarch standing up from her seat. Hanna did the same while trying to smother a grin. She knew that currently her brother was focused less on diplomacy and more on personal relations with the Asari pilot. She also couldn't shake the sense of otherness that came from dipping into the alien woman's mind.

The group quickly made its way to the mess hall, the stares of the men and women of the crew followed the Asari as they walked through the ship. "I was wondering, when the Admiral introduced you to there was some words that did not translate, what is a Mandalorian and a Jedi" asked the pilot walking behind the major.

Hannah was quick to answer knowing that if she let Skirata start on how awesome the Mandalorians where he wouldn't shut up for hours. "In the historical documents from the ship the two most talked-about organizations where the Jedi Knights and the Mandalorian Clans. Using unique powers and weapons the Jedi Knights acted as the diplomats and guardians of the galaxy. The Mandalorian clans on the other hand were warriors who believed in gaining honor through warfare, and using powerful armor and ships they would constantly seek out new people to fight"

"But today our own version of the Mandalorian clans fight as our special forces and Shock Troopers, we were even given our own ships to use. "Said Major Vau breaking into the conversation. Benezia wondered what they meant by unique abilities but shrugged it off as not important for now.

The trip to Shanxi went by quickly as each side went about asking the other questions. The humans were amazed to discover the long lifespan of the Asari and the Krogan they mentioned. Thanks to a cybernetics or the force humans could live between 150 and 200 years, though the natural lifespan still topped out at 120.

They were also amazed at the idea of Hyperspace, that the swirling blue tunnel outside their ship was another dimension and that they could transverse great distances without a mass effect relay in nearly the same time. Though the conversation sounded open both sides always made sure to listen to what wasn't being said and what was said to steer the conversation away from sensitive matters. As they neared their Hyperspace exit the group was invited up to the bridge so the matriarch could have a view of the Alliances newest colony.

-Relay 314-

The construction ships and escorts we're just finishing up attaching themselves to the wounded Alliance vessels and the more intact portions of the Batarian ships. As they got ready to head out of system the relay began to spin up once again and a squadron of ships lept from the relay into the middle of what was now a small graveyard of ships. Upon seeing the ship's towing the wreckage of the downed ships the mysterious ships opened fire trying to cripple the escaping vessels. Shells catapulted by powerful mass effect fields shot out towards the fleeing ships, the shots reaching their position seconds after the transports had slipped away to hyperspace.

But one of the unavoidable side effects of hyperspace travel is the coranu radiation that seeps out from hyperspace when a ship enters or exits. The powerful scanners of the alien ships quickly picked up this exotic radiation. And though they didn't know what it was they could tell it was connected with the fleeing ships and their escape. Coranu radiation acts like a timer and an hourglass, by studying the degradation of the atoms you could tell how long ago they ship had passed through the area. This was unknown to the captain of the ships, and of little use because they already knew the time. They just needed the direction. When a ship leaves or enters hyperspace they leave a trail pointing towards where they went or came from. Taking the direction of the radiation as a clue the ship read the relays computer for any planets in that direction, only one name came up, PX2-745 commonly known to the humans as Shanxi