The Turian Navy's Fourth Patrol Fleet was docked with the eezo station near the primary relay for this cluster. Most of the fleet had already refueled with just a few remaining support craft left.
Aulpius Mellius sat in the Admiral's chair on his bridge. His legs were crossed but he was clearly fidgety. "Spirits, I feel like we have thousands of eyes upon us." He mumbled.
"Sensors, give me a ping of the system." came the order from Mellius.
Moments later, sensors called out "Nothing in the system."
Mellius glanced around. "My gut says something is…" He looked at the sensor display. He thought that he could just make out something. His eyes narrowed. "Scan for gravimetric anomalies. Scan for any ion trails..."
"Sir, it will take a few minutes to reconfigure the sensors across the fleet." came the response.
"I know, do it anyway." Mellius commanded.
A tense few minutes passed as the tech followed his orders. "Sir, sending a grav pulse out now… Detecting our ion trails… Sir! We are detecting several hundred depressions... Thousands of missiles just appeared!" Cried out sensors.
"What!? Damn pirates!" Cried Mellius "Evasive maneuvers! All hands to battlestations! Drop the log drone!"
The Turian fleet burst into a hive of activity the moment the missiles were detected. For the smaller ships, several dozen missiles slammed into the hulls, Guardian lasers becoming useless as their sensors failed to detect the lower heat emissioned missiles.
The larger ships fared slightly better, blue barriers lighting up in response to each strike. The attacking force had surprise on their side in more ways than one. The Turian fleet fell to the volume of missiles. The missiles also impacted the fuel depot, causing the eezo within to detonate.
The shockwave slammed into the Admiral's flagship. On top of the missiles impacting their barriers, the shock of the eezo explosion was too much. The concussive blast tore through the ship like it was butter.
A few minutes later, the Relay lit up in departure but there was no one left alive in the system to report what happened. Even the log drone had been taken by the attackers.Early Morning December 9th, 2356: Council Space, Turian Command
The last twenty-four hours had been nerve racking for Turian High Command. An entire fleet had gone missing in the Terminus systems. These things simply didn't happen to them. Other races, primitives, might lose a fleet or two but never the Turians.
Galus Quenion entered the Battle Center, a place that Turian High Command could control a war from.
"Primarch!" Came a shout, the room turning to salute their leader
"At ease." Galus said dryly. "Any idea where the Fourth Fleet is?"
Admiral Votus Protacius clicked his mandibles together. "Sir, the Third Fleet entered their last known system thirty minutes ago. We should have a report shortly."
The Primarch nodded slowly. He walked over to the holo display, showing the galaxy map. There were two markers on the map at the Hourglass Nebula. One flashed blue for lost, while the Third Fleet showed green.
Another thirty minutes later, a scout craft exited the relay in Trebia System, heading directly for Palaven.
"Get me that scout craft! It's from the Third Fleet" Protacius called out.
"Comms established." Came a call from the side of the room.
"This is Admiral Votus Protacius. Identify yourself!" the Turian called out.
The communication array came to life. "This is Flight Officer Pobus Vitagius, assigned to the Third Fleet … My crew and I are the survivors of a brutal attack. We were ordered to hold at the Relay, in case there was a problem in the system."
Vitagius's voice cracked, clearly upset as he gave his report. "As the fleet approached the debris we discovered in the system, thousands of missiles appeared on sensors. The fleet's GARDIAN lasers tried to shoot them down but they had a hard time getting a target lock. Admiral Indamus ordered the fleet to retreat but the fleet never had the chance. We escaped through the Relay the moment we detected missiles targeting us."
Protacius put his hand to his forehead. "Spirits preserve us." He mumbled before looking at the Primarch.
Galus drew himself up. "We are now at war with the race that holds the Hourglass Nebula." The Primarch glanced around the room. "I will issue an official declaration of war within the hour. Votus, contact the Klingons. See if they will share their sensor specifications, as they are far more sensitive than our own."
The Primarch looked around the room, looking each of his officers in the eyes. "Make no mistake, we will make them pay for what they have done to us." He said, one fist hitting his other palm. "Turian vengeance will be swift."Mid Day December 9th, 2356: Council Space, Citadel, Council Chambers
Octabus Lincius stared at the report in his hands. The Turian Hierarchy had declared war. On whom, they had no idea but the entire Turian race was to gear themselves for war. On top of that, they had to try to barter with the Klingons. That's a bunch that the Krogans would love. STG had issued warnings that the Krogan Independent League had plans to defect to the Klingons. But that was another issue for another day.
Collecting himself, he issued a request for the Klingon Ambassador to join them this evening for an emergency council meeting. On their designated day of rest, no less. This will not go over very well with the rest of them. Lincius cringed at the thought of what the Asari would do. No matter, there was work to be done.
That evening, after dinner, the Citadel Council met. Thankfully, this year's speaker was the Salarian Union. Birum Wolsa brought the council to order.
"Councilmember Lincius, you requested the council to assemble regarding a matter of great importance. I see Ambassador Duriual is here as well." Wolsa said, looking at the Klingon Male.
Duriual tilted his head in greeting. Lincius took a calming breath before speaking.
"Honored Councilmembers, thank you for taking the time out of your day of rest. The Turian Hierarchy welcomes the Orion Republic Ambassador. As of today, at zero nine hundred hours, the Turian Hierarchy declared a formal state of war."
There were gasps that filled the chamber, followed by whispers. Wolsa banged a steel ball on to a rock to get everyone's attention. "Silence while the Turian Councilor has the floor."
Lincius nodded to Wolsa in thanks. "The Third and Fourth Fleets were destroyed by an unknown enemy in the Hourglass Nebula. Sensors only show the heat bloom from their missiles seconds before impact. We are at a loss as to the enemy's identity. However, due to the volume of missiles, we can safely assume that it is not one of the known races. The Hierarchy will send sensor data to the Council races and the Orion Republic."
The Turian Councillor looked at Duriual. "Honored Ambassador, the Turian Hierarchy formally requests a formal trade for information on how to tune our sensors so that we may identify our attackers."
Duriual tilted his head to the Council. "I will discuss this with my superiors, as I am sure you will understand, but I do not see an issue with this. Anything that can take out a Turian Fleet, much less two, is a grave concern for the galaxy."
Kinavase D'linatora, the Asari Republics' appointee to appease concerns after Matriarch Tevos' disgrace, frowned. "I am sorry to correct you, Mr. Ambassador, but I fail to see how the Turian Hierarchy going to war affects the Asari Republic. Our borders are secure."
It clearly took a lot of self-control from the Orion Republic Ambassador not to pull his pistol out and shoot the Asari. However, it was Cyluna, the Elcor Councilmember that spoke up.
"With suppressed rage: Are all Asari as idiotic and childish as you?" Cyluna said.
"Condescending: The Geth clearly showed the Galaxy that no planet is truly safe from attack. With pleasure: The Courts of Dekuuna move for the Council to join the Turian Hierarchy in a state of war." Said the Elcor as he shifted, body clearly still upset.
"The Vol Protectorate *kzzt* agrees with the *kzzt* honored Councillor, we move *kzzt* for war." Jiklu Kol said.
D'linatora frowned. "But war is never the answer." She said softly.
"In this case, the Turians were attacked. Are you telling the galaxy, Councillor D'linatora, that any race shouldn't defend ourselves?" Duriual asked.
The Asari councilor opened and closed her mouth a few times before shaking her head. "The Asari Republics vote to go to war." She said, pulling herself up high.
"The Salarian Union votes in favor of war. Now, to figure out who we are fighting." Sighed Wolsa, his eyes narrowing in frustration as he spoke.
"Ambassador Duriual, I would like to formally request support from the Orion Republic due to the nature of this threat." Wolsa said, his head held proud.
Duriual nodded. "I will speak to my home government prior to committing to this. I was not expecting a declaration of war this evening. However, I do not expect that the answer will be no."
The Salarian Councillor tilted her head slightly. "Thank you, Ambassador."
Duriual took that as the end of the meeting, turning sharply to depart.Mid Day December 9th, 2356: Terminus Systems, Omega, Afterlife
Aria was enjoying her evening. It was hard work running a criminal space station damnit! A girl needs to relax or she'll go crazy was her motto in the evenings. She relaxed into her soft chair, a drink in her hand. Her head moved slightly to the thumping of the music.
One of her aides appeared. "Aria!" He called out. "There is a fleet approaching Omega."
Aria frowned. "How big of a fleet?"
The aide shook his head. "It's hard to get a count. It's like the fleet is slowly cloaking themselves."
Aria sat up shaking her head. As she got up, she pressed one button on her Omni-Tool. "Let's go." She said.
The two of them left Afterlife for the control room of Omega. Once she entered, her eyes fell upon the threat board. One ship disappeared but then was quickly marked with a blue marker that said unknown location.
"Hail them." Aria commanded. It would be possible that they wouldn't understand her but if there was a fleet that large attacking, one would expect the attackers to do a little homework, which would include how to talk to their targets. It would cost her nothing to try.
The moment the channel was open, she spoke again. "This is Aria T'loak, Queen of Omega. This is a trading center and we wish no quarrel with you. We would welcome open trade with your race."
A voice came across the connect that made Aria's hair stand up, every hair. "You are weak creatures. You will be food for my kin." The connection was cut.
"Issue an attack alert!" Called out Aria. Alarms started seconds later. "Form up the defensive fleets. They are not getting to this station." She growled out.
On the surface of Omega, rail guns lifted from their inactive positions to start firing at the smaller craft that were heading for the station. The main defensive fleet took the brunt of thousands of missiles.
"Aria! The Merc factions are moving to engage but most of the defense fleet was taken out in the first strike!" called out sensors. "They don't seem to be targeting the station beyond targeting our weapons."
Aria frowned. "They want the station intact! Prepare to repel boarders. Tell the mercs that I will pay ten thousand credits for every invader body they bring me."
"Aye!" came the response.
"Spirits!" screamed the sensor operator. "Twenty ships just appeared behind enemy lines. They register as dreadnought weight." Fear clear in the operators voice.
Aria gave a wicked smile. "Alright, fuckers, let's see how you handle them. Mark the new contacts as friendlies."
In space, ships that had not been seen in the galaxy for fifty thousand years opened fire on the attackers. From the Prothean Dreadnaughts, green plasma shot out from the lead battleship, impacting on the attackers barriers for a brief moment before tearing into the ship. The heat from the plasma melted the hull, exposing compartments to space. The rest of the fleet opened fire.
Another point in favor of the new Omega Defense Fleet, they appeared behind the attackers. Most ships had less protection over their drives, mostly due to the exhaust thrust that pushed ships forward. However, these attackers were smarter than most. They protected their aft a lot better than the Council races did.
Rail guns started to return fire from the rear of the attacking fleet but these shots were not as powerful due to being a smaller gun. The Fleet commander, however, quickly shifted his fleet to face the newcomers.
Thirty ships had their engines turned into slag before three quarters of the attacking fleet had completed their turn to protect the aft side of their ships. This did leave their aft open to Omega's guns. However, it was better than exposing them to the heat from Plasma. The ships that remained pointing at Omega had the rest of their fleet block the line of fire from the ODF.
"Aria!" called out someone. "We have boarders! Gozu District reports extremely large creatures. Larger than Krogan!"
Aria came over to the comms officer. "Show me." Seconds later, a live feed of the area made several in the control room throw up from the carnage.
The screen showed several creatures. Behind them, the creatures were running on all fours. The camera, however, showed three eating bits of Salarian and Turian. The one eating the Turian had some foam around his mouth.
Each of the creatures had face paint marking them, a triangular mouth., four eyes and horns that pointed backwards. Their legs were shaped like a cat's rear legs. Aria watched in horror as one ripped a Krogan in half with just its hands. It may have struggled a little but clearly wasn't that hard.
"Whatever these things are, we can't let any more on board. Send Blood Pack to assist. If they bitch, give them whatever payment they bloody want. We have to stop them." Aria said, anger clear in her voice.
She turned to check the battle outside the station. That seemed to be going more in her favor. Clearly, the Prothean ships were built for battle. Hell, their sensors were a hundred times better than the Salarians.
Aria let herself smile as a plasma bolt impacted something that her sensors did not know about. It was a smaller craft but, with the front exposed to vacuum, it would not be long before it was destroyed, which happened with a follow on blast.
The Queen of Omega pursed her lips in thought. Making that deal with the Collectors really paid off. Hell, making that other deal was even better. It was worth every bit of trade that her station provided them.
Aria frowned as the attacking craft started to focus their missiles on one of her dreadnaughts. Her fleet had the advantage, being spread out across space made it harder for the attackers to focus fire.
The crime Queen frowned at the map of the battle. She hit a comm button. "Send in the rest. Come in at fifteen degree angle. They are making a push for Omega. Issue alert Cowl."
"Yes, ma'am!" called out comms.Late Afternoon December 9th, 2356: Council Space, Citadel, Orion Republic Ambassador Flagship
Duriual let out a long sigh as he pressed send on the report on the declaration of war by the Council, to include their request for at least a Los Angeles-class scout to be attached to the major fleets of the Council.
Slowly, he picked up his coffee. Just as the cup reached his lips, the lights turned red and alarms started to blare. Duriual jumped, spilling coffee all over himself.
"God dammit!" Duriual snarled. "Did they have to use the Star Trek red alert sounds?!"
He grabbed a towel on his way out of his quarters to visit the bridge. Something strange was going on as the fleet only went to this alert in training in Council Space. The Republic had not used the alert in earnest since they took out the slavers. The Dwarven race that they had found was quite the surprise but, over the last few years, they had slowly restored their old worlds.
The bridge was rife with activities as Duriual entered. "Admiral?" He asked.
Admiral Hackett turned to look at the man who entered.
"Mr. Ambassador, now is not exactly a good time for us to chat. A hundred ships entered the nebula via an unknown method of FTL. They are outside our firing range." Hackett said, turning to his staff. "Comms, tell the Council of…" He was cut off by a cry by one of his staff.
"Sir! The Relay is active! Detecting ships exiting the Relay! They match the… shit! The unknowns are moving for the Citadel." Came the call from sensors. "The unknowns from the Relay are launching missiles at the Destiny Ascension!"
"Estimated effectiveness of Sex on the Beach?" Hackett called out. "Damn, I wish the eggheads would name them something else." He mumbled under his breath. "It's so unprofessional to call for that in a battle."
"They are packed a little close but I don't think we will get more than one for one." Weapons called out. "The ones coming from the Relay are most vulnerable."
"Sir! Thousands of missiles have been launched!" Sensors called out.
"Intercept as many as we can!" Hackett called out. "Tell the Lich King to open fire on the ships exiting the Relay! Have the Hellhound Carrier launch its fighters to provide cover. Tell the Council that we are sending the Lancelot, Percival, and Merlin to escort the Destiny Ascension to the Relay."
"Message sent." Comms said.
"The Ascension just exploded!" Sensors called out.
"Admiral, anything we can do to save the Council?" Duriual asked.
Hackett frowned before nodding. "We'll have to abandon the Relay."
Duriual took a breath before slowly letting it out. "Save who we can. From what I can see, we are not gaining control of the Relay."
Hackett nodded. "Captain! Full speed to the Citadel. Comms, tell the Council to meet us at the Turian Docks. Get a docking number."
"They are closing the arms!" Sensors called out.
"The Council agrees and will meet us at Docking port three. They will hold that arm extended." Comms called out.
Hackett nodded. "Tell all shuttles to dock with us! They have until we retrieve the Council to get on board. While we can keep these…" The ship rocked from missiles impacting the shields. "Idiots from doing too much damage, we can't hold out forever. Tell the California to pick up the Council, we will provide cover!"
"Aye!" Called out Comms.
Duriual pressed a button. "Machina Synergy, deployment authorized on the Citadel. Verification Kappa Delta Kappa Niner Whiskey Foxtrot Tango shenBueno shenBueno shenBueno shenBueno." He said the code in English vice the normal Klingon, finishing the end of the code almost like a rap.
The console chirped before displaying FOUR DEPLOYED. Duruial nodded.
"Ambassador?" Hackett asked.
"Steven, you had to know that we had contingencies in place if we ever had to abandon this position." Duruial added with a smile. "Not like the Council can tell us no as everyone is abandoning this system."
"About damn time." Hackett smiled back before turning to the battle. "How long before the California picks up the Council?"
"Five minutes!" Sensors called out. "The California has sent several shuttles down to pick them up to save docking time. They are physically blocking the docking area to protect them."
Hackett shook his head as more Turian ships blinked out from the map. "I don't know if we have five minutes." He poked at one of the smaller ships in the fleet. "King Pin, retreat!"
He watched the ship turn to its escape vector, a portal opening in front of it. As it started to move through the portal, dozens of missiles impacted it in the aft. Its engines exploded seconds after the shields failed. That set off a chain reaction taking the rest of the ship with it.
"All ships! Evacuate the area if your shields reach twenty five percent!" Hackett ordered. "I don't want to lose any more ships!"
"Admiral, Alert Kappa?" Duriual asked.
Hackett frowned slightly. "Sadly, yes. Comms, issue alert Kappa Alpha!"
"Aye, sir! Sending all data along with it." Comms responded.
Hackett frowned as the attacking ships were not being targeted by the Council fleets. "Sensors! Share all targeting data with the Citadel fleet. The Council ships can't see them as their thermals are extremely low. They have to have one hell of a lot of thermal sinks to get their heat down to that degree."
"Aye!" Called out Sensors.
"The California reports the Council is on board. The Citadel is reporting that they are finishing the closing of the arms." Comms called out.
"All ships, retreat! Advise the Council fleets to retreat as well! We can't stay here and slug this out with them and their fleets simply cannot fight back without us." Hackett called out.
"Admiral Votus Protacius confirms and will be retreating with us." Comms responded.
Hackett leaned over the rail to look at the ship's Captain. "Captain Lang! Can the Council use our Psi Portals?"
Lang frowned. "I have no idea, sir! I'll find out!"
Hackett nodded as the Captain walked over to his Engineering Officer for a few seconds before turning to look at Hackett. The Captain's thumbs went up. Hackett turned to his Comm's officer.
"Tell the Council fleets that we will cover their escape through our portals." Hackett ordered.
The Captain walked back to the Admiral. "Engineering needs three minutes to configure the portals for the size and for the Council ships."
"All Psionics report to Engineering!" The call went out over the ship wide intercom.
Hackett frowned as he looked over the battle map, trying to see the best method to fight it out for a few minutes to let as many ships escape. "Hastings, is it possible to use the jello-shots?"
The AI popped up on the battle map. He was dressed in a Orion Republic uniform. His collar showed the rank of Lieutenant. The image walked around the map partly before looking at the Admiral.
"Possibly. The enemy is moving erratically on the outer lines however they do not have full maneuverability around the Relay. Additionally, they will be constrained when they come to the portals." Hastings said.
"Weapons free with Sex on the Beach followed by jello-shots." Hackett said softly as another Orion Republic corvette exploded.
Hastings walked over to a small console on the map. He entered a few commands. Thirty seconds later, Hackett noted the enemy was reduced by sixty seven ships.
"Gel and nuclear ordinances have been expended." Hastings said. "Three gel shots missed while the Relay fleet should be blind for the next thirty seconds."
"How far is the Turian fleet?" Hackett asked.
Sensors turned to look at Hackett. "The Citadel fleet is down fifty three percent but they are at a full burn for us. They should be here in ninety seconds."
Hackett's eyes darted over the map. "ETA for portals?"
"Two minutes!" Operations called.
"Those shots bought us a minute tops." Hackett said.
"The Cairo reports seventeen percent on their shields. Evacuating!" Comms called out.
Hackett gripped the table as the ship rocked from a several impacts. The lights flickered slightly.
"Shields down to forty eight percent. Minor damage to the hangar deck. We cannot launch replacement fighters at the moment." Called out Operations.
"Where did that shot come from?" Hackett demanded.
Hastings typed a few commands. "Looks like they were stealth missiles launched from the outer pack. Admiral, one thing I have noted, they are attacking like predators, pack hunters in fact."
Hackett nodded. "We are likely then dealing with a race that think like that." He pursed his lips in thought. "All ships focus on the blind attackers."
"The Iwo Jima has opened a portal closer to the Citadel! Shuttles are making a run for it!" called out Sensors. "Portal too small for capital ships."
Hackett's eyes darted over his map. "Have them provide cover until their shields reach ten percent. Tell the Citadel fleet that they have five minutes to get here. Anyone not here at that time is being left behind."
The Admiral hit the side of the table in his frustration as three more of the attacking ships were destroyed. "We could go toe to toe with the Council Fleet that they had here but these guys are kicking our ass. Hastings, can we deploy Machina?"
"No, Admiral. We are detecting no communication signals from the attacking craft. They are likely using laser communication." Hastings said. "I have not found any active communication port on any of the attackers."
"Focus fire on the closest ships." Hackett ordered. "Just another ninety seconds before we can leave."
The moment the command to deploy Machina Synergy came through, the combat AIs launched themselves from the XCRS Hastings. The Orion Republic had spent the last ten years analyzing the communication that came and left from the Reaper construct.
In the virtual world, the Republic Synthetic beings stood in front of the huge firewall that the Council deployed. It had gone through several improvements over the last ten years but as, in their amazing wisdom, AI was banned, this allowed the Republic Synthetics to find the right door and open it within milliseconds of reaching the Citadel.
Citadel Traffic Control was the weakest link due to the fact that they had the most ports open, just to handle the connecting of inbound traffic to the Citadel computers.
"Damn, this place is an amazing mix." The AI that spoke had the callsign of Asianpeep18. The structures built that represented the programs running were a mix of the first three Council Races.
"Keep moving, Petty Officer." Ordered Major Wereid.
Peep shook her head slightly before she frowned. "Odd, that building looks like its Asari make but the foundation looks damn strange."
Another AI stepped up to them, his face puzzled. "That program does nothing but look important." Phlssc said. "Wait, it's a man in the middle. It projects itself as the core of the operating system. Look at those threads." He pointed to purple and yellow lines.
"They come in and out of the building but if you look at the south east corner of the foundation, you can see the near white line. It's very hard to pick out from the background control." Phlssc said.
Major Wereid nodded, pulled out his combat knife (Representation for the reader's sake). "Tear it apart." He ordered before charging into the front door. "Leeeerrrrrroooooyyyyyy Jeeeennnnkiiiinnnnsss!" He screamed.
"Oh, for the love of…" Peep mumbled. She hated that cover name, mostly because it lead to the combat arm making a bad pun with it or a stupid battle cry. The whole trolling the Council and Reapers were just a silly plan, but sadly the Council had fallen for it. Perhaps even the Reapers had as well.
The other three Synthetics pulled their own close combat weapons and followed. What they saw as they entered was just carnage. Several Asari laid dead on the floor but their faces started to change into a race that they had no idea about.
That's when two lumbering hulks of programs came rushing into the lobby. They stood well over fifteen feet tall, had eyes all around their head and ran on all fours. They kind of looked like gorillas, if it weren't for the eye thing.
"I think we just found the Antivirus!" Phlssc commented.
Carlothecurious shook his head. "No, they would look like Salarains if it was the AV."
Wereid ducked a blow from one of the huge creatures. "Does it freaking matter? Kill them!"
With that command, unknown to the four of them at the time, the Republic declared war on the Citadel.
Wereid snapped his blade out, striking the creature's chest. Black ichor spewed out from the wound, splashing Wereid in the face. He stopped moving, his eyes glossing over as the liquid soaked into his skin.
"Shit!" Cried Peep. "Don't let their blood touch you!" She snarled, switching from close combat to her rifle.
The representation of a M16 was not nearly as effective as the real world counterpart. What it represented was a random firing of packets to see what stuck. The Combat Knives' were more of a logic spike.
The first creature was lit up as two clips were emptied into its chest. It stood there before just laughing. It reached out with a hand and pulled down. Peep felt the gun rip from her hands before chains appeared, pulling her to the ground. She tried to let out a scream but she had no mouth as the creature cut off all outbound traffic from her.
"Puny AI. Think you know better than everyone else." Taunted the creature, in a strangely Russian accent.
Wereid stepped out from behind the two, his eyes black, dark lines streaked out from them, like if a human's veins were being poisoned.
"Absorb them." Ordered the creature.
"By your command." Wereid said, his voice holding no emotion in it.
Wereid took a step closer to Asianpeep before snapping around and lunging into the Gorilla that gave the command. "Screw you!" he snarled. His form was fully engulfed by the defense construct.
Peep found herself able to move again as the bonds holding her shattered. She dove out of the way of the second creature. She pulled out her knife, looking at the creature to find a weakness. She was quickly joined by the other two. The three of them started to play a little dance, taking turns to taunt it while the other two looked for a weakness.
Three seconds later, the Creature that Wereid shoved himself into exploded in a shower of gore. He stood there breathing hard, his hand dripping black ichor. "They are a virus, however the only way to access them is to be the tainted by the same virus." He said, his face strained.
The remaining creature let out an electronic wail that Wereid screamed back at him. The Creature froze in place. The Major shook his head before walking forward. Every step looked pained. He placed his hand on the creature, causing pulses of white light to come from him.
The creature sat down on the floor while Wereid collapsed onto the ground. Black fluid gushed from him.
"Don't touch me!" he screamed as Peep tried to help. Moments later, Wereid sat up. "Sorry, had to purge the Reaper code out before it took my root." He turned to the Guardian. "Take us to the core."
The Guardian turned to lumber off. He took them to the basement before pointing at a black data tap. "Core line." He grunted.
Carlo sighed. "Well, that just looks like a fun ride."
Phlssc grunted. "Only you would consider surfing down one of the most corrupt data taps a fun ride."
"Ride Data Car." The Guardian grunted.
The Gorilla placed his hand on the data line before reaching out to the other four. Once they all touched him, they found themselves riding in a minivan.
What they saw on the ride down scared the ever living crap out of the Synthetics. They saw broken data files from thousands of races, DNA from thousands of others flashed by, programs being held by chains being tortured for access.
Finally, the packet came to a stop. They stepped out and saw a huge black beam of light coming out from the center of the huge building.
"Master Control Program." The Gorilla grunted.
"Wait, Tron's real?" Peep said, looking around the area, seeing grey towers and sharp lines that made her think of the old movie.
"It's how your programming is translating this." Carlo said. "I am seeing this place more like Mordor and Mount Doom."
Peep nodded as the Guardian lead them into the building. He took them to a dead end corridor. "I have no more access." the Gorilla said.
The four Republican military members started to look around the corridor. Suddenly, all four of them pulled out their blades and sank them into the walls. Seconds ticked by, before Wereid let out a cry of panic.
"No!" Wereid cried out. "That is horrible!"
"Admiral! We have a message coming in from the Citadel! It is encrypted with Republican codes." Called out Comms.
"Let's hear it." Hackett ordered. "This is Hacket."
"Sir, we have a Kappa Omega problem here. I've stopped the Council arm from closing. These attackers somehow found a code that triggered this death trap. They probably just thought it was the code to force the arms closed or it was one to shut down the station.
"The problem occurs the moment the arm locks into place, indoctrination ramps the hell up. Those trapped on those arms are walking dead. There might be a few who are immune to this process but it is too late for them. Every single person has been commanded to enter processing, which ether turns them into foot soldiers or liquifies them for a birth of a new Reaper."
Hackett ran his hand over his face. "This just got a lot worse. Anything else, Major?"
"Not at this time, sir. There are yottabytes of data here, we will be here for a long time sorting this." Wereid said.
"Yottabyte?" Hacket asked.
"It's 1000^8 bytes, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes."
"That is a lot of data. Continue your attack. Hackett out." Hackett said before looking at Hastings. "Hastings, get me the Commander."
Hastings head shot up. "Aye, Admiral. Connecting now… Connected."
"This is Admiral Hackett, Commander. We have a code Kappa Omega with the Citadel." Hackett said to the man that appeared on his table.
"Report, Admiral." The Commander said.
"We are under attack by an unknown race that uses stealth drives. They issued a code to start processing the Citadel into Reaper forces the moment the arms locked closed. We have the Council Arm stopped before it could close. There are an estimated ten million still alive on the open arm. The others are already lost." Hackett said, his voice becoming filled with remorse that he could not save the others.
The Commander frowned slightly. "Are you sure the attackers are not an Omega-class threat?"
Hackett nodded. "Yes, sir. They are far too soft of a target for them to be Reapers."
"The data matches the ones that are also attacking Omega station but they are no match for the Prothean Dreadnoughts." The Commander said. "I am sending the Kilimanjaro and support fleets to help with the evac."
Hackett tilted his head to the side and down slightly, shock clear on his face. "Sir? I thought we were keeping that from the Council."
The Commander gave a sad smile at Hackett. "It is the only ship we have strong enough to provide cover for the fleet." The Commander grabbed a pad, typing out an order quickly. There was a flaw in The Plan, as the Kilimanjaro was the only such ship in the whole fleet. "Clear the space one hundred thousand kilometers from the open arm. We will be arriving in twenty five seconds. Commander, out." The image winked out.
"Orders are out, Admiral." Hastings said. "Evacuating shuttles have been placed on hold."
Hackett nodded to comms. "Citadel Defense Fleet and Republican Forces. This is Admiral Hackett. We have in bound the Kilimanjaro. Do not fire upon it as it will be appearing directly above the open arm of the Citadel.
"We have received word that the attackers triggered a failsafe within the structure that has killed everyone that remained on the closed arms. The effect was triggered once the arm was locked closed. The Republic is bringing a fleet to provide cover for the evacuation. CDF, continue with your retreat through our portals. Republic, defend the Kilimanjaro. Hackett, out."
The moment Hackett finished talking, a twenty kilometer tear in space appeared above the open arm. The massive Kilimanjaro drifted through the open portal. Before it had fully crossed over into Citadel space, shuttles were launching.
Once the massive ship had arrived, a dozen Battleships crossed over, moving to dock with the Citadel. The massive portal closed as quickly as it appeared.
"Evacuation portal opening in forty seconds." Came a system wide message.
The Kilimanjaro opened the doors to the missile launchers, letting out thousands of nuclear powered x-ray lasers. Green bolts of plasma erupted from the ship, flinging in the direction of a group of assault shuttles making a run for the still open arm.
Milliseconds before it impacted, there was a flash of white light. When the light cleared, the fourteen shuttles were gone. In their place remained melting balls of metal. They were glowing almost white from the left over heat.
"Admiral Protacius is on the line!" Called Comms as the Hastings rocked from another set of missiles.
Hackett pressed a button. "Hackett."
"By the Spirits, Admiral! What just entered the battle?!" Protacius said, fear clear in his voice.
"That is the XRCS Kilimanjaro, flagship of the Orion Republic." Hackett said. "Kilwa, retreat!" He called out to the fleet.
"When did you make that?" The Turian said.
"Thirty years ago." Hackett said.
"What else have you built that broke the treaty?" Protacius demanded.
"We will discuss this later. First, you need to run. We have to hold this position until that arm of the station is evacuated." Hackett said, a touch of anger in his voice.
"First, you were all about running, now you want to evac an arm of the Citadel. What about the other arms? Since you have forces closer than we expected, surely you can evacuate those remaining?" Protacius demanded
"Admiral, the attackers sent an old code that has effectively killed everyone in the closed arms. We have forces on board that have confirmed this. They are holding that arm open, at great cost." Hackett said.
"The Protheans were a paranoid lot. We will finish our departure, Protacius out."
Hackett shook his head. "Hopefully, after this, they will be open to others building the damn network." He mumbled. "Lamorak, Kay, Gareth, Yvain, and Ector, attack pattern Gamma."
Seconds later, the five ships formed a slight V formation, their lasers lancing out to the attackers. Shockingly, their shields held. The five ships fired at the exact same on the shields of one of the larger ships for three seconds. Point three seconds after the lasers stopped, a conventual missile slipped past the shields. It exploded inside their defensives, tearing through the vessels bridge.
"I want the Relay clear!" Hackett ordered.
"Sir, the Relay is activating again. Incoming ships match the attackers!" Sensors called.
"CDF! Drop the safeties from your engines, we are leaving in forty five seconds. Evac at ninety percent." Came the Commander's voice.
"Citadel Defense Fleet has entered the portal provided by the Kilimanjaro." Said sensors after a tense forty seconds."Kilimanjaro has started movement."
"All Republic Forces, retreat!" Hackett ordered.
Seconds later, the field of battle was left by Psonic portals. Hackett closed his eyes as the portal closed. He was tired and upset about the losses his fleet suffered.
"Fleet wide damage reports." Came Hackett's voice, breaking the eerie silence that followed their departure.
Hackett's hair was out of place, both from the stress of the battle and from the aftermath. He had spent the last two hours reviewing the damage reports. It was not pretty, only the Hastings was deployable after the battle.
The remaining ships would take months of repairs, if they were not scrapped outright. Their first combat showing had been very poor, considering they were designed to fight Reapers. The smaller classes of ships would probably be retired, or relegated to transport duty only.
Hackett had taken a shuttle over to the California.It did not take him long before he entered the Captains Briefing room, where the Council had been trying to discuss what happened to their own governments. Hackett noted it was the Salarian and Asari governments that they had the most problem convincing
"Tell us again, D'linatora, why have you put the Asari onto a War footing when there is no threat to the Republics?" Demanded the Matriarch on the screen. "Why have you left the Citadel? As crazy as Tevos was, she at least knew how to keep control over the situation. The Matriarch Council is screaming for your resignation. As leader of the Council, I am inclined to accept your departure from the council."
The Asari Councilmember looked like she was about to cry. Hackett placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Matriarch, there was little choice. The Citadel was lost to the attackers." Interjected Hackett.
The Asari on the screen snorted. "If the Turians had done their job instead of retreating, by your own order, we would still have the Citadel."
Hackett sighed. "Millions have died because of the attack. Omega fared far better because they sent less forces to attack, along with the fleet that Aria had made in secret."
The Matriarch sneered. "Somehow, the bitch got her hands on Prothean tech, failing to turn it over to her betters."
Hackett snorted. "Regardless, she has at least provided information on the attackers." Hackett hit a few keys.
An image of a three meter tall creature appeared. He had four eyes, more sideways facing then forward. The creature had natural body armor, clearly having the strength to wield it.
"This is the species we are facing. It took a dozen of soldiers to take down one, resulting in an eighty percent loss rate. So far, no one has any idea where they have come from." Hackett said.
The woman on the screen was fuming. " They were just mercs, Asari commandos would have destroyed them."
Hackett snorted. "There was an Asari Commando team that had eighty percent losses. They were on Omega undercover."
The Asari blinked a few times. "What?"
"These forces are an extreme danger. Not even the Orion Republic made it from our battle without suffering wounds. We lost thousands of sailors in the battle for the Citadel. You are aware of the simulations of how your forces would fare fighting our own." Hackett said.
The woman on the screen sighed, remembering those reports. If First Contact had been hostile, things would not have gone well for the Council, with little to no ships lost for the Republic. She processed the fact that her own Commandos had trouble with the invaders along with the Republic saying that they would struggle to fight these creatures. The invaders must be mighty if Asari Commandos failed.
"Reports out of Omega show that they suffered close to ninety percent combat losses. The population has been reduced by sixty seven percent in less than a day. These creatures are a clear and present danger to the Galaxy.
"The Commander has declared war as well. I am sure you must have suspected that we have reserves that even the Salarians have not found. We are committing those forces to fight this war. We are also providing the tech for the Citadel forces including upgrades to their shields, engines and lasers. This package will also allow Council Forces to detect the invaders, and target them without Republic Forces providing Command and Control.
"The Republic is also moving all Relays from our space. We cannot afford for these doors into our territory to remain open. We recommend that the Citadel races do the same." Said Hackett.
The Woman on the screen shook her head. "We cannot move the Relays. We do not have the tech to do so."
Hackety nodded. "Very well. The Republic can provide one Relay team to move the Homeworld Relays to three light years away."
On the screen, Hackett noticed the woman closing her eyes, thinking for a moment. "I will discuss it with the Matriarch Council." She said before ending the call.
D'linatora looked up at Hackett. "Thank you. She would not listen to me at all." She shook her head. "Is this what everyone felt when we would say we knew best?"
Hackett gave her a knowing smile. "Honestly, yes. Long-lived does not equate to always knowing best. Change is required to continue to grow as a species but change is harder for the long lived. The Republic has experienced some of that as our lifespans grew from eighty to two hundred and eighty. Thankfully, the other races in the Republic have helped with that issue."
D'linatora nodded. "That is a hard lesson to learn considering we founded the government."
Hackett nodded. "I would recommend that you review the Asari voting record with that in mind."
The Asari woman nodded. "Perhaps we should meet with your Commander about the war."
Birum Wolsa stepped up to the two of them. "Admiral, we know which race has attacked us. They are called Yahg. STG discovered them two-hundred years ago, which resulted in discussions about uplifting them."
Wolsa looked around, his stance nervous and slightly embarrassed. "We sent a first contact team down. They attacked our team, causing the shuttle to crash. Before we issued a remote self-destruct from the ship in orbit, the Yahg ate our team, even the Turians. I will have the data forwarded."
Hackett frowned slightly. "Were they watched after?"
Wolsa shook his head. "They didn't have a Relay in their system. The nearest Relay was ten light-years away so we didn't think it mattered. There was zero chance, or so we thought, that they could leave their home system. With your short range portals proving that wrong, we should have gone back and reevaluated our assumptions."
Hackett nodded. "Perhaps but we cannot change the past, only go forward and prevent ourselves from repeating the same mistake."
Wolsa nodded. "The Council would like to meet your Commander. STG thought that the post was ceremonial and that your Prime Minister held the power."
Hacket smiled slightly. "In matters of statecraft, you are correct. In matters of war, the Commander is in charge."
"Ah, separation of powers, so to speak." Wolsa responded. He tilted his head to the side. "That ship that appeared, the Kilimanjaro, is it a ship or a base that you had close to the Citadel?"
"It is a Research and Development platform. It contains our newest tech." Hackett said, trying to downplay the flagship of the XCOM Fleet..
"Very well." Wolsa said, his voice thoughtful. "May we have a meeting with the Commander to discuss the war directly?"
"I will send the request over." Hackett responded.Mid Day December 10th, 2356: Terminus Systems, Omega
Aria slumped into her chair in the ruins of Afterlife. The last twenty-eight hours had been nothing less than terrifying but beautiful in their own way. She picked up a bottle that had managed to live through the carnage. Flicking the top off, she looked at her aide who had placed a place of food in front of her.
"We are not the only ones who were attacked yesterday. The Council lost the Citadel, only able to evacuate one arm. If the Republic had not been there, the Citadel would have been lost with all hands. Half of the total Turian Fleet has been destroyed in small battles over the last three days. So far, only patrols which have Republic Forces embedded within them have survived any sort of assault.
"Omega, on the other hand, is another story. The Prothean ships worked well. Their sensors were sensitive enough to pinpoint the Yahg's locations. Their plasma beams also were a great help. As you know, we ended the space battle twelve hours ago but the lower quarter of Omega is still infested with Yahg." Aria's aide reported. "Also, you have a message at your terminal." came the comment as a device was handed to Aria
"Fuck, we will be cleaning the Yahg out of this station for decades." Aria said with an eye roll before looking at the device. "Get me my Flagship."
Moments later, a screen flashed to life. A Prothean stood on the bridge of his ship. "Avatar Javik, we are going to detach the lower half of the space station in two hours. At such time, please blow it to atomic particles."
"Very well, Lady Aria." Came the Prothean's response.
Aria leaned forward, her fingers folding into her lap. "The Republic informs me that this is not likely a Reaper attack but it could be that they are controlling the Yahg. They triggered something on the Citadel that processed everyone into Reaper shock troops"
The Avatar of Vengeance tilted his head slightly. "We always thought that those on the Citadel were killed when the Reapers entered from Dark Space " He narrowed his eyes. "Regardless, we do have enemy forces inside known space."
Aria smiled. "The Republic has several of their cursed AI troops on the station. They have apparently found that the Protheans altered the Keepers to ignore any signal sent by the Reapers. They also have found knowledge of at least seven distinct races that came before the Protheans but the data requires translation. One thing they have noted, there is no self-destruct on the station."
Aria shook her head. "The defenses on the Citadel are far greater than the we had thought, even the Protheans failed to find all of them. The Republic needs time to work around these defenses."
Javik frowned. "Perhaps we were incorrect in the assessment that AI is a threat to the living."
The Queen of Omega shook her head. "The Reapers probably made us think that so we would walk into their trap."
Javik snorted. "The Republic informed us that all of the homeworlds were seeded with rocks that indoconated our Leadership. This would fit their theory."
Aria sighed. "I hate it when inferior races are smarter than their elders."
The Prothean laughed. "Perhaps, but the young in this case are smarter than their elders. As much as it pains me to say it, perhaps the Orion Republic had the better way than the Empire."
Aria smiled. "Perhaps. After we jettison the infested section of the station, I am going to bed. I would recommend that your fleet stands down, save for patrols."
Javik tilted is head. "That is an acceptable request. We will patrol the area for other attackers." He said before ending the call.
Aria slumped back. "Have our troops fall back to the airlocks and blow the lower half of the station away."
The aide bowed. "As you command."
A/N: This took longer than expected as I hadn't planned on them until the next book, which is the roughest of outlines. I hadn't expected a peaceful First Contact with the Council. Come on, look at what I put around Relay 314.
One reviewer commented that I hate the Asari, na, I love the Asari, I just think their government and the Council itself are freaking idiots. In ME, it works out to be about 1% of the galaxy has been mapped out by the Citadel. Yet, they think that they are the pinnacle of Galactic tech and culture. That is what we call arrogance.
Preventing Relays from being opened just in case there is a threat on the other side? That's called burying your head in the sand and hoping it goes away. That is pure idiocy. Yes, the leadership of the Asari are idiots. They had to know that the Reapers were coming after three thousand years of the beacon, yet they did nothing.
The Queen of Omega, all she cared about was someone messing with her. She always had a look out for things to improve her position. I respect her, hell, she even went with Shepard to reclaim her home. You won't see Tevos doing that nor most of the government that was portrayed to us. That is the reason for the apparent Asari Hate.
Also, yes, the Orion Republic is going for the long Troll here. Most of the plan was set up by a man who grew up watching Sci-Fi and other fiction. So, lets have some fun with physics and opening the eyes of the Council.End of Line