Just to make sure there's no confusion on this point this is a crossover with the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, not the original.
With respect to Mass Effect, this fic takes place after Feros and Knossos (Liara's Dig Site) but before Noveria and Virmire. With respect to Battlestar Galactica, this takes place between the Season 2 episodes "Home, Part II" and "Flight of the Phoenix," so between 93 and 105 days after the destruction of the colonies according to a timeline I was able to find.
And, if you were wondering: femshepearthbornwarhero
The war room of the Galactica was much like any other room on the ship. Cut and dry, with stark grey walls and dim lighting, the room served a clear purpose and was devoid of any kind of ornamentation. The long, lighted table, often used by the Galctica's command for planning missions, was now covered with star charts.
Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies, the remnant of them at any rate, stood to the side, arms crossed, while the officers argued which path would get them to the Lagoon Nebula the fastest.
Specifically, Colonel Saul Tigh, Galactica's XO and a mean drunk, and Lieutenant Felix Gaeta, the ship's "jack of all trades," an expert on everything even remotely related to the operation of the Galactica, were arguing while Commander William Adama, the Galactica's captain, listened.
As they argued, Colonel Tigh's eyes narrowed to slits and his rantings degenerated into an incomprehensible murmur. Lieutenant Gaeta however, was intelligibly pressing his argument, and it was clear he had already won, although the blustering colonel was hardly willing to admit it.
He probably needs his afternoon fix, thought Laura. Then again, maybe that's not fair. So far as I know he hasn't been visibly intoxicated for over a week.
"We'll take the detour," said Commander Adama with his quiet, deliberate tone.
The other two officers shut up immediately. So far as President Roslin knew, Commander Adama was the only person in the fleet able to quiet the colonel so quickly. "Tell us more about the system, lieutenant."
"Yes, sir," said Lieutenant Gaeta, pulling forward one of the maps, this one detailing a single star system rather than clusters of stars.
In many ways, thought Roslin, Lieutenant Gaeta was the opposite of Colonel Tigh. While the colonel was often disheveled in appearance and coarse in manner, the lieutenant embodied professionalism and calm.
"The third planet is the one we're interested in. From what I can tell, there are significant water vapor deposits in the upper atmosphere, enough to last us for thirty years, barring sabotage."
Roslin nodded. The likelihood of sabotage was one that could never fully be ruled out. Humanoid Cylons, or skin-jobs, as people had often taken to calling them, were virtually indistinguishable from humans.
"A gas giant? That's frakkin' great, how are going to collect the vapor?" asked Colonel Tigh derisively.
"There are a number of ships in the fleet that can gather the vapor and condense it," Gaeta replied evenly.
"Then it's settled," said the colonel, throwing his arms out, apparently eager for the discussion to be done with.
"Saul," Commander Adama addressed his XO, "tell Lieutenant Edmondson to prep a raptor to recon the area. Lieutenant Gaeta, start the calculations for the FTL jump and get them to Edmondson as soon as you can. The sooner we're underway the better. Dismissed."
"Oh, and Saul," the commander interrupted his XO as he was almost to the door, "tell my son to double the number of alert vipers."
The colonel nodded and made a gruff noise before disappearing through the door.
"I assume you're going to let me get back to Colonial One before we jump?" asked Roslin.
"Yes," said Adama. "A raptor will be waiting to take you back to your ship."
The commander was glancing down at the maps again, his back to the President. Relations were still tense between Adama and Roslin. All too recently, Roslin had defied Adama, splitting the fleet in two, even turning the commander's own son, Lee, against him. But, in the end, Roslin and Adama working together had found a sort of roadmap to Earth. They knew to head in the direction of the Lagoon Nebula.
It wasn't much, but it was a start. And now, the possibility that Earth was not a myth was becoming more accepted among the fleet. The hope of finding a refuge, an end to the constant running, now seemed in reach.
"How long do you think this will delay us?" asked Laura, her mouth a tight line.
"A few days," said Adama, still not looking up from the maps, "is that everything, madam president?"
"If you didn't intend to ask for my input then why did you ask me to come?"
This time the commander did look up, "I believe it's important that the president know where her fleet is going, and why."
My fleet? That's an interesting admission.
"Besides, if you have any objections to the course. I would rather know now than later."
The president gave her reserved smile, "Thank you, Bill, but I think we can spare a few days, especially to top off our water supply. We never know when we're going to come across the next resource deposit. Besides, it's been weeks since the last Cylon attack."
"Just one more reason to be cautious," said the commander.
On the Normandy, Commander Adrienne Shepard was discussing the ship's course with Lieutenant Commander Pressly, her XO and ship's navigator.
Currently, the Normandy was in the Knossos system, having just rescued Liara, the asari scientist who was supposed to have some kind of insight as to Saren's goals. Unfortunately, Liara knew even less than Shepard, but the mere fact that Saren's Geth were hunting her in large numbers meant he considered her to be a threat. That had been enough to convince Adrienne to keep the asari around, hoping she would prove able to pull her own weight.
But the trip to Argos Rho had left the Normandy several relays away from Noveria, the final lead Shepard had. In order to ensure the crew wasn't just twiddling its thumbs during the trip, Shepard had decided to take a few detours.
"What about Argos Rho?" asked Shepard, "Any reports of unusual activity over there?"
"There has been a Geth sighting reported in the Hydra System," replied the grizzled XO, "A freighter captain claimed to see one of their ships when he was looking for a place to discharge his core. He bugged out before they could engage. But, if we go to Argos Rho, it will take one more relay to get to Noveria; add a few more hours to the trip."
As the navigator spoke, a sharp pain struck Adrienne and her vision blurred. The commander blinked and rubbed her temple. Her sight quickly returned but the headache was still there. That painful throbbing and the distinct feeling that her skull was several sizes too small.
"Commander?" the XO had inclined his head forward, furrowed his brow.
"Plot the course through Argos Rho." Adrienne quickly replied, "I need–I'm going to get some sleep."
"The headaches again?"
"Yeah." Ever since that asari on Feros . . .
"You may want to talk with Dr. Chakwas about those."
Adrienne waved a dismissive hand, "All she can do is give me pills. This ship does not need an intoxicated captain."
"Much less the galaxy."
Adrienne rolled her eyes, "Thanks for taking the pressure off."
"Any time, ma'am."
"You have the conn, Pressly, don't make me regret it."
Adrienne was glad to get back to her quarters. They were, she knew, the only true private accommodations on the ship. Having a head to oneself was something worth killing for on a ship this size. Shepard crossed the short distance to her bed and laid down, letting herself sink slightly into the military-grade mattress she had gotten used to.
That was when her headache struck again and the commander jolted upright, gritting her teeth, cursing under her breath and clenching her fists. This cipher had better be worth it, she thought.
The asari had called it the life experience of an entire people. Adrienne had thought it might give her some of the Prothean knowledge and wisdom, instead it had given her an unrelenting headache and a chipped tooth from the near-constant grinding she had been doing.
'This had better be worth it.' Those words summed up her mission so far. After all of the firefights and near misses she had been through all she had to show for it were things that might pay off in the long run while her leads evaporated and Ambassador Udina's blood pressure erupted, evidenced in the dozens of angry text transmissions he had sent to Shepard, many of them at very odd hours.
Stop thinking about Udina dammit. He's the last thing that'll get rid of this headache.
Captain Anderson, at least, remained supportive.
Adrienne laid back down as the worst of her headache subsided, eager to fall asleep before it could return. Some days it was worse than others. Maybe tomorrow would be a good day.
"Commander? Are you there commander?" the chiding voice coming over the intercom could only belong to Joker.
What Shepard wanted to say was 'Shut the hell up, Joker.' What actually came out was little more than a wordless murmur as Shepard awoke from a dreamless sleep. The kind that made one feel cheated out of rest.
"What was that, commander?"
"What do you want?" Adrienne finally managed.
"XO says there's something in the Hydra system that you should see."
"Fine, I'll be there in a minute."
When she entered the CIC, Commander Shepard saw that all of the crew were intent on their stations, and that Pressly and Alenko stood by the main console. The holographic projector, which usually displayed the galaxy map, was now keyed to the local solar system. Shepard recognized the arrangement of planets as the Hydra system and saw that the blue arrow, representing the Normandy, was at the edge of the system while dozens of yellow arrows, representing unidentified ships, were clustered around the third planet of the system.
"What's the situation, XO?" Shepard asked as she approached Pressly.
"Sensors are detecting more than seventy vessels. None of them are known configurations."
"Have they detected us?"
"I had the stealth systems activated as soon as we detected the fleet. If they saw us, they haven't sent anyone to look for us."
"What can you tell me about the fleet?"
"Dozens of ships that seem to be civilian designs, no detectable weapons, a wing of fighters patrolling the area, and one dreadnought-sized vessel."
"Are we close enough for ladar?"
"Show me the dreadnought."
The system map disappeared and a new hologram slowly formed as lasers were reflected off the query ship's hull. Although the final image was still incomplete, ladar could only reconstruct the side of the ship facing the Normandy, what was there looked little like any ship Adrienne had seen. Most ships were designed similarly to birds or insects, even human and turian cruisers, which were unable to enter atmospheres. If the ship she saw now resembled any animal, it would have to be a whale.
The vessel was massive and grey, clearly not designed with aesthetics in mind. Two massive pods, probably used as landing areas for fighters and other support craft, extended from the sides, which bristled with gun turrets.
"Look at the scarring on the side of that thing," remarked Gunnery Chief Williams, who, up until now, had been standing to the side, "It's been through some real fights."
"It's definitely not Geth," said Shepard.
"This is strange," said Alenko, "I'm not detecting any kinetic barriers. And about that scarring, I'm detecting trace amounts of nuclear radiation. Commander, I think this ship was hit by a nuclear weapon."
"You're right about the shields," confirmed the XO, "but it's armed to the teeth. Three dozen coaxial gun batteries and another dozen missile tubes. Who the hell would arm a ship like that and not shield it?"
"It could be an older ship," suggested Alenko.
"Anyone who could afford to keep a ship that size could afford to get it refitted," said the XO, matter-of-factly.
"This isn't right," said Shepard under her breath, "get Tali and the others up here. I want to see if they can recognize this thing."
Kaidan made the announcement over the intercom: "All guest species, please report to CIC, all guest species, please report to CIC."
Pressly and Williams looked at Alenko with raised eyebrows. A moment later: "Guest species?"
"Well, what am I supposed to call them?"
"Aliens?" suggested Williams.
"Goddammit Williams," muttered Adrienne, "I am going to get you to be diplomatic if–"
Shepard stopped short when the stair door opened sooner than she expected it would.
Liara, the asari scientist, was the first to step through, "Is something wr–what is that?"
"We were hoping you might know," said Ashley dryly.
Liara stepped closer to the hologram to get a better look, eyes wide with curiosity, "I've never seen anything like it. It looks dreadful though. So dark . . ."
Again the doors opened, this time admitting the other 'guest species:' Garrus, a turian and former C-Sec officer, Tali, a quarian on her pilgrimage, and finally Urdnot Wrex, the hulking krogan bounty hunter. All of these people had one thing in common: an ardent desire to see Saren brought to justice.
While the others immediately took notice of the hologram, the krogan headed straight for Alenko and pointed his finger at the lieutenant's face, "Never call me a guest species again."
Meanwhile Garrus failed to raise the hopes of the Alliance officers when he immediately asked the same question Liara had asked, and received the same response.
"Tali," started Shepard, "I know the flotilla uses a lot of different configurations. Do you recognize this one? Could it be in the flotilla?"
Tali shook her head, "I admit that I do not know all of the designs used in the flotilla but, if there were a ship this massive, I would know about it."
Finished with threatening the lieutenant for the moment, Wrex regarded the holograph for the first time, "Now that is what a warship ought to look like. No flashy lights or pretty colors. Just armor and guns."
"I happen to like my flashy lights, thank you very much," Joker interjected over the intercom.
"But you don't know what it is either?" asked Shepard.
"In that case," said Garrus, "we may have a first contact situation. Commander, this is a unique opportunity."
"Wait, you want to just drop the stealth and say hi?" interrupted Ashley, "We have no idea if these people are friendly or not. They could blast us to pieces!"
"And if you fail to make contact, this heavily armed vessel may wander into a densely populated system. Imagine the damage that could result from a misunderstanding. If we make contact now, we can at least assess what threat they pose. And if they do attack, the Normandy is fast enough to effect an escape."
"Joker," Shepard addressed the pilot over the intercom.
"Disengage the stealth systems and approach the fleet. Lieutenant Alenko, begin transmitting our greeting."
"What should I say?" asked Alenko, putting on a headset.
"Something suitable. XO, please return the projection to the system display."
"New DRADIS contact," shouted Lieutenant Gaeta.
"What?" snapped Colonel Tigh as he glared at the new contact on the DRADIS monitor, which was rapidly approaching the fleet, "What the hell is it?"
When Lieutenant Gaeta didn't respond Tigh turned to face him, "Well?"
"Transponder signals don't match anything in our files, Cylon or Colonial. If it's Cylon, it's too small to be a basestar, too big to be a heavy raider."
"Sound action stations, instruct the fleet to prepare for emergency jump," ordered the colonel. A moment later, klaxons sounded the call to action stations while Petty Officer Dualla passed on Colonel Tigh's instructions.
Where the hell is the old man? wondered Saul.
"Colonel," Tigh turned toward Petty Officer Dualla, "The ships gathering water will need twenty minutes to safely disengage."
"Frakking ass draggers," muttered Tigh, "tell them to hurry it up. Bring us between that ship and the gatherers. Tell the vipers on CAP to intercept and tell the CAG to get every bird out there."
Colonel Tigh turned to see that Commander Adama had arrived. "We have one unidentified contact on DRADIS. Vipers are intercepting and the fleet has been instructed to standby for emergency jump."
Adama looked at the DRADIS monitor, saw the rapidly approaching contact.
"Commander," the two senior officers turned toward Petty Officer Dualla, "I'm getting a transmission from the unidentified ship."
"Put it over the speakers," said Commander Adama.
"This is the SSV Normandy of the Systems Alliance to unidentified vessels. We have no hostile intentions but request that you identify yourselves and your purpose in this system immediately."
"Systems Alliance?" said Colonel Tigh, "is this some Cylon trick?"
While Saul remained cynical, everyone else in the CIC felt a mixture of hope and dread.
"Put it through to my console," said Adama. The commander paused before picking up the bulky phone. Could this be a ship from the thirteenth colony, from Earth? "This is Commander Adama of the Galactica, BSG-75, Colonial Fleet. SSV Normandy, please identify your place of origin."
In the Normandy CIC, Lieutenant Alenko made a puzzled expression before responding, "Earth."
Adama let out a sigh of relief, but was still wary of a Cylon trap, "We have been looking for you," Adama finally said, "I would, I would like to meet with you personally." Adama covered the phone before speaking to Lieutenant Gaeta, "Is there enough room in the landing pod for that ship?" After looking down to his console, the lieutenant nodded. "I request that you land in our starboard landing pod."
On the Normandy, Alenko turned to Shepard, "They want us to land in their ship."
"Well that's moving a little fast," commented Ashley.
"Will we fit in there?" asked Shepard.
"It'd be a tight squeeze," replied Pressly, "but we can do it."
"I think that's a bad idea," said Ashley.
"Why?" asked Wrex, "if something goes wrong we can always shoot our way out."
"Tell them we'll come," said Shepard, "And send a message to Admiral Hackett. I'm sure he'll want to know about this."
"Where are you going, commander?" asked Kaidan.
"To put on a better looking uniform, tell Joker to take us in slow."
Commander Adama set the phone back on its reciever, and put on one of his rare smiles.
"Well?" asked Colonel Tigh.
"I think we've found them, Saul," said Adama, "I think we've found Earth."
"Well I'll be damned," muttered the Colonel, "and just two weeks ago I was certain it was a myth."
"Me too," said Adama before he turned to Petty Officer Dualla, "Set condition three throughout the fleet. Send a message to Colonial One, request that the President come aboard immediately."
Nevius was the disgruntled crew chief on the Stafford, a salvage ship operating in the Argos Rho Cluster. Specifically, the Turian was dismayed by the absence of any sort of work ethic on the part of the majority of his human crewmates.
At the moment, the Turian and two of the human deckhands, Jens and Byron, were taking a break. The salvage on the planet below was still in progress, and until it arrived on the ship, there was nothing for the three to do except wait and stuff their faces with whatever they could find in the galley.
Until the general quarters alarm sounded that was.
The two crewmen didn't bother to immediately jump out of their seats. Feeling that if Gervaise, the Stafford's captain and owner, only paid them a semi-decent wage they only had to be semi-professional.
"Think it's another drill?" asked Byron.
"Probably," replied Jens.
Nevius listened to the two talk for a few moments longer. His rage at their laziness building. Soon it was too much.
"Get to the bridge before I toss both of you out the airlock myself!" the Turian shouted.
Jens was out of his seat and through the door immediately. Byron took a moment longer to grab another bite but when Nevius started toward him he fled as well.
Nevius shook his head. Soon after Captain Gervaise had hired him as crew chief a rumor started among the crew that the turian was ex-military, and was discharged for employing harsh disciplinary measures. It was a rumor the captain and Nevius tried to encourage. Overall, productivity had gone up.
When the three arrived on the bridge, they found the other three crewmen who were still on the ship, Captain Gervaise as well as the pilot John and systems officer Natale, all humans. The rest of the crew were on the planet's surface, still working on the salvage.
Jens always wondered why he and Byron had to come to the bridge whenever they sounded general quarters, neither of them knew anything about how to run the ship. All they were good for was loading, unloading and assessing salvage.
"Well, is it an Alliance ship?" asked the Captain.
"No," replied Natale.
"Then it's either a scavenger or privateer. Fire a warning shot, that should scare them off."
A moment later: "It's still coming."
"Maybe we should bug out," suggested the pilot.
"And leave all that salvage? Hell no!"
No mention about the people on the ground, thought Jens, I need to find another job.
"It's on an intercept course."
"We gave them their warning shot, open fire, bring it down."
Nevius shoved Jens out of the way and stepped forward to get a better view of the sensor display, knowing that by the time he could see anything out of the window it would already be too late. Despite a direct hit from the Stafford's gun it was still moving.
"It must be armored, our shots are just—wait, it's returning fire." An impact shook the Stafford as all of the monitors and lights on the bridge suddenly went black. Natale stared at her empty screen, dumbfounded. A few seconds later emergency lights slowly flickered on.
"What the hell is going on?" asked the captain.
For lack of a better idea, John hit the side of his console.
"They must have hit a power relay," murmured Natale. Then: "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what?" responded the captain.
"Exactly. The power core's offline. Without it we have no shields, no life support, and no power to the engines."
"Then our orbit will decay and we'll crash into the planet," said the pilot.
"Can you fix it?" asked the captain.
"I need to assess the damage," said Natale, "if it's just a severed connection between the power core and the generator I can fix it. But if either one of them is severely damaged . . ."
"Alright, Natale, go to the core and figure out what the hell's wrong with it. Take Nevius and the flunkies with you."
"Captain," Nevius interrupted Byron, "we should open up the small arms locker, in case they try to board us."
"Good idea, do it."
Natale and the flunkies followed Nevius into the room adjacent the bridge. Nevius and the captain were the only ones on the ship with keys to the small arms locker.
"I've never used a weapon before," said Natale when she was handed an assault rifle.
"It's easy," said Byron, "just point and pull the trigger."
The four were heading to the rear of the ship when a metallic clang caused the entire hull to vibrate.
"It's docking with us," said Nevius, and he turned toward Byron, "warn the captain, go now!"
The crewman needed no more incentive to run away from the sound of the entry.
With his rifle couched against his shoulder, Nevius started forward with precise steps. Jens and Natale shared a worried glance before following a few steps behind, more afraid of what Nevius would do to them if they tried to run than of whoever had boarded their ship. Soon they arrived at a corridor with a few crates that ended in a bulkhead, lit only by red flashing emergency lights.
Nevius dashed toward the door and put his ear up against it, heard movement on the other side.
"Take cover," said the turian, "they're coming."
Nevius took cover behind a crate far from the door and the others nervously followed his lead. Natale was clearly shaking and Jens wiped the sweat of fear from his brow.
The bulkhead door opened, from the darkness of the other side, Nevius could only see a red light, sweeping back and forth. He didn't wait to see the full form before opening fire. Sparks flew as Nevius' volley destroyed some sort of machine.
Too tall to be a drone, thought Nevius, could it be some sort of Geth?
Then an armored, humanoid figure ducked in order to step through the door and stood at its full height once it reached the other side, at least seven feet tall and covered in gleaming metal plates. It only had a single red eye. Long, skeletal fingers extended from its arms.
It certainly isn't Geth, thought Nevius.
Nevius stood paralyzed as the colossal machine bolted toward him. Leaping over crates with surprising agility, the thing seized him with a skeletal hand and threw him to the ground, knocking the breath out of him.
When Nevius tried to stand a metal foot slammed down on his chest. Then he heard the clattering of assault rifles falling on the metal floor followed by rapid footsteps. Jens and Natale running, he supposed.
Nevius started to hear a conversation. Whoever was speaking, they were getting closer.
First Nevius heard the man's voice: "–must have gotten separated from the rest of the fleet. There's no way a lone ship could have gotten this far without Galactica's help."
Then the woman's voice: "You forget that God has his own designs. He may have safely seen this ship here for a purpose."
"Ah, of course. That would make perfect sense."
"You should know better than to mock God's will. We will find something here."
Two humans stepped through the bulkhead door and into Nevius' sight: a short, brown-haired man and a taller, blond-haired woman.
Both of them looked down at Nevius, the man with a hint of disgust, the woman with open curiosity.
"What is that?" asked the man.
"What we were meant to find," the woman confidently replied.