Disclaimer: I own no franchise mentioned in this work. Halo belongs to 343, Mass Effect to Bioware.

This story uses a concept that I do not recall having read before but that I find entertaining. Obviously, else why the hell would I write it?

It will be a short story, only 5 chapters long. Hopefully publishing this will spur me to continue production in earnest of my other Halo story. Not abandoning that story, it just has suffered creative drought from the prolonged lack of Halo content following Halo: 5.

Anyways, enough babbling from me, on to the story!

Life had gone on following Shepard's death, not that that was a surprise. Looking back, it seemed like it had flashed by so quickly, barely a footnote in history. The Citadel was cleaned up, the Council went back to their bickering politics, and the crew that had so diligently served aboard the Normandy went back to their own lives.

Those that had survived, at least.

Liara supposed that she counted herself fortunate to be among that number, but that was little consolation. Rather than wallow in grief over her mother and Jane, the archaeologist applied her skills to the vast information network of the Extranet. Before too long she found herself branching out into the shadier parts of the galaxy, with people actually coming to her for that knowledge as she built up a formidable web of contacts.

It was through this that she learned of Cerberus' interference in the recovery efforts on Alchera and their eventual acquisition of Shepard's body. What the organization wanted to do with a corpse was beyond her, but she intended to find out and retrieve the body to give it a proper resting place.

That was not her only task, however, a fact which Liara was reminded of as the ship she was on lurched slightly, indicating that they had arrived at their destination. A quick check of her suit confirmed that it was vacuum sealed, the necessity of which became clear as the cabin depressurized. Once that was finished, a door in the side of the shuttle opened to let her step out onto the surface of a seemingly random asteroid in the Parnitha asteroid belt.

Like so many other barren rocks in the Asari home system, this one had become the focus of a mining corporation intent on exploiting its rare minerals. Now, obviously that was hardly a reason to draw the attention of anyone, let alone a slightly estranged archaeologist and one of the most powerful information brokers in the galaxy. Rather, it was what they had found within the featureless rock that had caught Liara's interest enough to draw her from her other projects.

Following the miner that had greeted her, Liara stepped into a lift that would take her deep beneath the surface. Unlike the thousands of other asteroids that this company had used, this one had a little surprise as they spiked a bore hole. A massive sheet of metal, strong enough to break the relatively soft drill, had blocked their progress. Some simple time and effort and they had a shaft down to that level, allowing the company to begin excavating the area in earnest.

While at first it seemed like an amazing find of some mass of strong metal, further digging had quickly revealed an artificial construct buried deep below. Liara was finally able to lay eyes on the dig site as the elevator neared the bottom, giving her a nice view of a dark grey wall that stretched to either side of a small cavern. The number of supports around the area made it clear that the ground was extremely unstable, though fortunately the lack of significant gravity made the possibility of a cave-in an annoyance rather than a catastrophe.

To either side of the cavern were tunnels leading to the side, each going to the end of the artifact to give a length of 150 meters, or at least that's what her informant had claimed. There was no competing information as there weren't exactly a lot of Asari interested in such a droll find. The artifact wasn't secret, only untouched by others once it was confirmed to not be Prothean in origin.

Unlike other, more well established archaeologists, however, Liara was curious about the object for its origins rather than the idea of fame. It was possible that this vessel, which had been entombed for tens of thousands of years, could hold answers to the Reapers that Shepard had been so desperate to warn the galaxy about. If there was proof of the threat here, then it was her duty to try and bring it to light.

Liara stepped off the elevator as it finally arrived, her gaze focused on the mysterious metal that was illuminated by several floodlights. It looked nothing like anything she'd seen before, totally lacking the aesthetic details of other alien creations.

The foreman of the team stepped forward to meet her and greeted, "Archaeologist Liara T'Soni?" At the nod of confirmation, the matron Asari continued, "Excellent, thank you for coming out to take a look at this. I've been mining these fields for a long time and I haven't ever come across ruins. We had a breakthrough down the left tunnel, my crew have equipment ready there."

"Excellent, please lead the way," Liara replied as she ignored most of the greeting in favor of examining the artifact.

A jaunt down a surprisingly long passage allowed Liara to get a sense of the size of the thing. It seemed that whoever had built it used ridiculously simple building procedures as there were only a couple corners and all faces were totally flat. Once they reached the end, the archaeologist noted six asari idling around next to a pitch black hole that led into the inside of the artifact.

Taking out a flashlight, Liara aimed it inside, noting that the hallway quickly split off to the side, with bulkheads giving cover for defenders. Glancing between that and the outside, she finally reached a preliminary hypothesis that this was a warship of some kind. Something had crippled it, tearing off a significant portion given the clean slice that had allowed them entrance.

Even more concerning was the thickness of the hull, with about two-thirds a meter of the metal covering the hallway. Whatever had done this had been extremely hot as evidenced by the melting patterns on the hull, possibly ship-based energy weapons if she had to guess. The only issue was that no one knew of any civilization, Prothean or otherwise, to possess such weapons, let alone ones this capable.

Backing up slightly as her mind considered the possibility of combat, she asked the foreman, "How many of you are there on this rock?"

"Couple dozen asari, a quarian for the equipment, Salarian for the cook. Don't need any security this close to Thessia," the asari answered cautiously. "Why?"

"Are there any weapons around?" Liara pressed.

The foreman shook her head and replied, "No, no reason to have them. Couple of my people probably would've shot each other if they had the means."

Liara sighed and closed her eyes before straightening and slinging around her pack to draw out an M-3 Predator. Some murmuring came from the other Asari as they saw this, but she cut them off as she inquired, "Have you tested the metal for age-dating?"

"We tried, but it is some kind of molecularly-manipulated titanium, no baseline on it. This asteroid is fairly young, probably 40-75 thousand years, part of why we picked it since it'd be easy to break up," one of the miners stated.

At the Foreman's agreeing nod, she fell into her combat mindset and ordered, "Stay behind me and do exactly as I say. I doubt anything is alive after that long, but I won't bet my life on it. Don't touch anything and for the love of the Goddess watch your step. I want to see how far we can get into this thing and try to figure out how big it really is. Some floors may have buckled since it's apparently been crushed, but this hull is very, very thick."

No one argued with that, much to Liara's approval as she shouldered her pack and moved forward, weapon at the ready. As she flashed her light around to examine the hallway she was walking down, she noted the architecture around them. It looked oddly human in design, the sharp angles and rigid style reminding her of the Normandy.

Blinking away the memories to stay focused on the area around her, Liara turned the corner and came to a sudden halt. The miners behind her diligently stopped, but after she stayed in place for a few seconds, one peeked down the hallway and gasped. Drawn out of her shock by the sound, the archaeologist took another few steps forward, suddenly far less sure of exploring the vessel as the other asari started muttering to each other.

Before her was a sizable corridor, obviously a main avenue of transport for the ship, stretching into the distance such that even her light could not find the end. Passages to the sides split off at regular intervals, giving her an idea of how wide the ship was. With a quick ruffle through her pack, Liara pulled out a bundle of path markers that would allow them to backtrack to the exit.

Steeling herself for whatever horrors could possibly lay ahead, she continued forward. Within the next few dozen meters, she was able to find an elevator shaft at the nexus of several main hallways. The doors were jammed open by a crate, allowing her to peek inside. A quick look up and down and she retreated back, finally getting an idea of the size of the wreck.

What a wreck it was, though. Debris littered the corridor, dust covered every surface, but the ship still retained the feeling of a powerful vessel. It had to be at least 150 meters long, 100 wide and just as tall. Obviously it was even larger at some point given their entry point, though it was impossible to determine the original size. Given the armor on the outside as well as the sturdy construction within, Liara was beginning to doubt that this vessel relied on Eezo, which of course begged the question of how it had appeared in this system. It had been floating in space and become trapped in the asteroid field, but how long had it existed before that?

Turning back from the vertical shaft, she made to address the miners to begin giving orders but was distracted by the wall behind them. Slipping past the small group, she tried to understand what caught her eye but was unable to do so with the thick layer of space dust. Frowning at the necessity of disturbing the environment but also in desperate need of some hint as to the origin of the ship, the archaeologist wiped away the layer of dust.

Beneath was an arrow, but the next couple swipes of her hand to see its end revealed far more as Liara froze in shock. She had seen some strange things, from Prothean ruins to Geth to the Reaper-corrupted Saren, but all of it was explainable or alien. Standing on a ship that had to be tens of thousands of years old, the young Asari was unable to say the same of the mystery before her as she stared at the innocent word 'Cafeteria' that was painted on the wall.

Taking a deep breath as she tried to organize her thoughts, she turned to the foreman and asked, "You are sure that this ship has been here for quite some time?"

The Asari nodded, confusion obvious in her posture.

"Can any of you read the human standard language?" she questioned. They all indicated the negative, leading her to look at the wall once again and state, "That is a perfectly valid, sensible, human word in the middle of a derelict wreck thousands of years old. How-"

Liara cut off as she turned back to the group, her attention fully on the foreman as the Asari looked past her shoulder. The archaeologist needed no explanation for why, however, as dread welled up within her at the light reflecting off the visor, a light that most certainly did not belong to any of the miners.

Overcoming her fear, the sole armed member of the party threw herself to the side while simultaneously twisting, aiming both her weapon and her own light down the corridor. There was nothing there, only the slowly drifting particles of dust she had disturbed and the sound of her pack clinking against the metal floor.

Breathing heavily, she got to her feet while keeping her weapon aimed down the corridor, light flashing from side to side to catch anything that tried to approach. Taking a deep breath, Liara brought her panic under control, quashing her fear of the unknown. With that done, she moved forward cautiously to reach the end of the hallway where the light must have been.

The group behind her was far more hesitant but faithfully followed as they lined up against the wall while the archaeologist peeked around the corner. Seeing nothing but the end of yet another corridor with doors to unknown rooms, she turned her attention the other way. After a second to figure out what she was looking at, Liara left cover, letting her weapon drop as she approached the jagged edge of the wreck and gazed into the black void beyond.

Flashing her light around, she noted the intimidating walls of rock to either side, almost certainly the two different asteroids that had trapped this wreck between them. With the extremely light gravity it was simple for Liara to quickly rig up a tether to one of the protruding pieces of the hull and lean out to get a better look at the ship as a whole.

Her confusion only grew as she noted the chasm below her and the solid wall of metal that made up the ship extending down into its depths. Looking up, she saw several more decks above, finally giving her an idea of the damage the vessel had suffered. Needless to say, it was extremely severe with what seemed like half the ship totally missing.

Her attention was suddenly dragged back to the hallway she had come from as a metallic screech echoed around the space. The entire group tensed up as Liara covered them from her rather exposed position, well aware that a threat could come at her from several directions. After several minutes of silence, she lowered her gun but kept her light towards the source of the noise.

A single tug dragged her back into the corridor as the miners watched her come back to solid ground. Liara considered her options as she fought back a slight bit of intimidation at the prospect of exploring the wreck. She had had some expectations coming into this, but nothing could have prepared her for whatever the excavation had found here.

Much as the mysterious light had freaked them out, whatever had caused it seemed to be apathetic to their presence. No one was particularly eager to change that, so the cutting equipment was sent back with three of the miners to confirm that their exit was still clear. About ten minutes later, another couple of asari had joined the group out of curiosity as well as to relay the absence of any activity in the excavation shaft.

Wandering down one of the seemingly endless hallways, Liara came up short as her light passed over a doorway. What had caught her attention was that this door was open, unlike every other one they had seen as they explored. Her attention was drawn to the floor as she brushed a foot across it, shifting aside the dust to reveal the word 'Armory' in white and red paint.

Frowning at the confirmation that this was a warship of some sort, the archaeologist took a cautious step inside as she cleared the room with her weapon. Once that was done, she turned to the rest of the team and ordered, "Feel free to look around, but do not touch anything, especially any weapons you see."

With that, she took a step forward into the room, only to come to an immediate halt. The miners behind her glanced at her strangely but they stayed silent as Liara looked down in shock. Flashing her light down, she observed the perfect line in the dust that had so far coated every surface. There was a light layer within the armory, but it was far less than everywhere else they had been on the ship. What had caught her attention, however, was the clean line between the two different layers that exactly matched the width of the door.

That at least answered where the sound they had earlier had come from, though it did little to assuage Liara's fraying nerves. Whatever was on this ship wanted them to look into this room, and unfortunately there wasn't much choice but to investigate why. Even more concerning were the possibilities as to how this door had opened and why.

Perhaps there was something that the alien entity wanted them to see inside, but far more concerning was the possibility that an alien was now armed and hunting them. If the entire team entered, the door could shut and lock them inside, though Liara doubted that course considering that there were far easier methods to trap the group. As to how the door had opened, either a very strong being capable of forcing it open or there was still power in the ship.

Whichever option it was, including ones that Liara hadn't even considered, she had two very important questions at this point. How could a ship as old as this still have power, and even more concerning, how could any being survive for so long with seemingly nothing but dust and echoes for company?

Nothing made sense, so with a sigh, Liara resigned herself to confusion for the foreseeable future. Turning to glance to either side of the hall, she addressed the mining foreman, "Set up a lookout to either side of this hallway. Alert me if you see anything odd. Careful of your lights, they will give you away before you see any threat."

The asari didn't argue, a nice change since Liara was used to older asari attempting to undermine her any time she tried to give orders. With that done, she stepped into the room, careful to avoid anything on the floor. It wasn't hard to do so considering the impressive order that the room was in. Even after thousands of years in zero gravity, the weapons were still secured to racks in orderly rows throughout the room.

Ignoring the asari miners looking around behind her, Liara took stock of the firepower spread out before her. It was greater than anything she'd ever seen before, even the Normandy hadn't had this many weapons. A cursory examination made it clear that these were not the weapons she was used to as each had a ridiculously large caliber.

All of her thoughts stopped as she rounded the corner of the weapons rack and her flashlight illuminated a veritable rainbow of weapons. Eyes wide, Liara closely examined each new piece with growing fascination. Some had barrels, clearly projectile weapons that fired a much different type of round than the rest of the armory. It was the more alien models that really caught her attention, however, both because of their colorful shells as well as their lack of any type of traditional components.

They had grips and triggers and sights, making it clear that they were weapons, but that was about all she could figure out. There was no barrel or obvious reload mechanism, only small teeth pointing towards each other a short way past the trigger. After a few minutes of thought, Liara blinked as the idea of energy weapons crossed her mind. As improbable as it seemed, there was little other explanation and absolutely no way to prove it without firing one, an unwise idea at best.


A sudden shout startled her as she was drawn from her thoughts and her mind fell into assessing the situation. Flashing lights across the armory indicated that the asari that were agitated. Concerned at the cause, the archaeologist moved towards the doorway, though she did not run so as to give herself some time to stop if needed.

Fortunately nothing came charging it to slaughter them all, but it was clear that something had the group spooked as the asari peeked out into the corridor. The leader saw her walking up and she explained, "There's a light, end of the corridor."

Narrowing her eyes at this, Liara stepped up to the side of the door as the miners made way for her. A glance down the way they had come showed it to be clear, so she poked around the corner while taking a knee. Much as the foreman had stated, there was a light down the hallway, slowly flashing an ominous red as it reflected around the area. Flashing her own light, Liara didn't see anything which only made her less comfortable.

Slipping back into the room, she addressed the group as she ordered, "Someone keep an eye behind us. Everyone else keep alert and try to light up each of these hallways. Shout if you see anything and be ready to get to cover. Something is here with us and I want to find out what."

Some muttering was the only response, but since no one argued Liara took it as quiet acquiescence as she stepped out of cover and began moving quickly towards the light. As she neared the corner, the red blinking suddenly cut off, causing the archaeologist to tense as she prepared for a fight. None came as she took up a position at the corner, glad that the warship was designed for a battle at seemingly every possible point.

When everyone in the group was gathered, she looked around the corner and froze as another red light shone from an open doorway several meters down the passage. Taking a breath to calm her nerves, Liara illuminated the area before moving forwards, keeping her attention on the door. It was decidedly worse to do so as her eyes were drawn to the dark void to the side, dividing her attention between the door and the rest of the hallway.

Eventually she reached the source of the light, only for it to disappear once again. Glancing around inside the doorway, Liara noted a robust set of stairs. From the rather narrow space, it was obviously a backup method of changing levels in the ship in case of power failure. At the top, there was yet another light, though this one was flickering blue with many fluctuations in brightness. Looking down, a pile of debris filled the bottom of the shaft, though it was several dozen meters down at least.

A quick examination of the structural stability showed no obvious issues, so Liara began to climb. After a few floors that were solidly closed off, she came across a door that was jammed open. One of the two slabs was slightly crooked in its mounting, allowing her a decent view of the space beyond.

Taking the chance, she peered through the sizable gap, seeing only the same featureless hallways as down below. Before she fully withdrew, however, a dent in the side of the door grabbed her attention. Liara raised an eyebrow as she traced the contours with a finger, controlling her shock as she slipped her hand into the grooves. While whatever hand had done this was far larger than her own, it was still obviously done by someone with four fingers and an immense amount of strength.

The archaeologist frowned but continued forward, filing away the information for future consideration. Behind her, the asari looked around as well but did not seem to make the same connection Liara had. As creepy as this wreck was, it seemed that the asteroid miners were interested in seeing something new as they continued to follow. It was likely that none of them had seen anything more than the Asari home system as their profession was not particularly lucrative.

Once she neared the top, the light disappeared once again, drawing a sigh from the asari scientist. As much as she wanted to stay alert, the obvious guidance of whatever was on this ship as well as the lack of any living thing was making it hard to do so. Another couple of turns on this much smaller level brought the group to a sturdy bulkhead door that was partially smashed open. A dull blue light shone from beyond, calling them forwards.

Stepping past the barrier, Liara froze as she looked up and spotted a soft blue hologram of what looked remarkably like a human woman. She was flashing every couple of feet, facing away from the door and moving towards a console. The terminal she was moving towards had a single, blinking light on the dashboard, begging to be pressed.

Ignoring the temptation for the moment, Liara looked around the room and couldn't help but shiver. A good portion of the right side had been completely crushed beneath rock, leaving a wall of crumpled metal as a reminder of this ship's ridiculous durability. The entire area seemed to be set up as an observation deck, with massive windows all around and a raised central platform overlooking a lower circle.

Liara began to walk towards the blinking console, the rest of the group filing in behind her. One of the asari pulled up her omni-tool and began to do something near one of the walls, though Liara ignored that for the moment. Considering the possible consequences of her actions, the archaeologist stared at the button that the entity seemed to want pressed. Why it needed that, or even what it was, still remained to be answered.

With the benign response so far to their presence, Liara hesitantly reached out and tapped the physical interface. Even though it was a relic, both literally and with the lack of haptic feedback, it seemed that action was enough as the light went out, casting the room into an oppressive darkness only pierced by the asari flashlights.

Suddenly, a chirping from the omni-tool of the miner grabbed everyone's attention as the asari frantically stepped back. After a second, she looked up at her leader and stated, "Radiation spike, and a big one."

Sparks from various consoles blew outwards at that moment, causing everyone to begin retreating towards the exit in alarm. Several lights overhead sizzled and popped, though others flashed on to light up the entire room in a dull glow through the dust that covered them. Liara looked around in shock, brow furrowed as she tried to connect the pieces.

It only took her a second as she realized that the ship ran off some form of nuclear reactor, one that had obviously been badly damaged after so long. How it had retained enough fuel for operational use was beside the point at the moment, her main concern was why the entity had wanted them to restore power.

Faces flashed up on holographic screens projected above many consoles, though the image was heavily distorted by the dust and debris. The asari team stayed remarkably calm as they began to file out the back of the deck, leaving the archaeologist to stare at the images and holograms in thought.

Liara was not idle, at least not mentally as she compiled the information that she had. This was an old warship, impossibly old, yet somehow human in construction, running off a technology that was never competitive with Mass Effect. Even then, this thing had made its way to the Asari home system and gotten stuck, waiting for thousands of years to be discovered. Something had survived that long and had wanted them to initiate a manual restart of some sort even though it must have known that the reactor was damaged. It appeared to be a VI of some sort, though no such program would ever have the necessary parameters to deal with the dynamic situation of what looked to be first contact.

Artificial Intelligence, Human.

The thought came suddenly, but it answered everything. This was a warship, ancient yet somehow human, controlled by an AI that now seemed to be determined to deny them any information. An AI trapped for millenia with no contact, unable to deny them entry, but also able to determine that they were unknowns infiltrating the wreck with unknown intentions.

Conclusion reached, Liara knew there was no time to waste as she switched to English and shouted, "We come in peace!"

Almost instantly, everything came to a terrifying halt, the lights fading away and consoles powering down. Apparently the intelligence had the capacity for curiosity as Liara poked around on her omni-tool to see that the radiation output was falling back to safe levels, at least compared to the usual background in space. Suddenly, her armor communications crackled to life to deliver the message that would change the galaxy forever.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is UNSC FFG-201 Forward Unto Dawn, requesting immediate evac. Survivors aboard. Prioritization code: Victor 05-3-Sierra 0117."

Hope you enjoyed and might be interested. This fic will be somewhat different from others I have written in that it is already complete. I need to read through some chapters and maybe adjust some things, but the story is already done. It should be a fun, if short, ride.

I plan on updating once a week, barring any unforeseen issues of course.