Title: Straight on til Morning
Disclaimer: Starcraft belongs to Blizzard Entertainment. Mass Effect to Bioware.
Author's Notes- Because all the SC and ME crossovers I've seen have involved Shepard going to the SC verse.
Because I don't like the direction Blizzard seems to be taking Kerrigan.
Because I can, and my muse whispers and hungers for this to live.
He stared down at her slumbering form and slowly held his fingers mere inches from her skin. Her soft, pink, human skin. If it wasn't for the thick dreadlocks-like tendrils in the place of her once brilliant red hair, it was almost as if she'd never been infested to begin with.
But she was. And he'd spent four long years trying to shore up the courage to finally put her out of her misery. Only, after those four years were done, suddenly, here they were, with something he'd never let himself dare to dream could happen.
He'd actually managed to save her. He'd gone to the very place she'd become the abomination she'd been for the last four years. And he'd come back with her in his arms.
But, now what was he, they going to do?
"God Dammit!" Jim Raynor swore softly as he felt the entire hulk of the Hyperion suddenly shake and groan. "What the hell is it now?"
"Sir..." Matt Horner's voice crackled to life over the intercom. "You need to see this. Now."
Casting a look at the still slumbering Sarah Kerrigan, Jim let out another string of curses under his breath and began to race out of the medical wing. "I'm on my way, Raynor, out."
"Hurry." There was a note of worry in Matt's voice before the comm went silent.
As he waited for a door to slide open at a painfully slow pace, Jim was vaguely aware of the shadows rippling around him, as a voice echoed through his mind. "He moves."
"Speak plain already, Zeratul," Jim said with a grunt and slipping between a pair of unarmored marines who reflexively snapped to attention. "I got no time for riddles."
"You know the one of whom I speak, friend Raynor." Zeratul's voice was grave as it rippled through the shadows cast across the Hyperion. "Through my memories, you have seen him."
"The Fallen One." It came reflexively to his lips as he stumbled, a frightening groan rippling from the length of his as it shook around him. "God fucking DAMMIT! Everytime, EVERY DAMNED TIME!"
"You must protect her." Zeratul's voice seemed weaker now, more distant. "We will come for you... but you must keep her safe... you must protect her..."
"Come for us? What the hell are you talking about, Zeratul?" Raynor growled out as he looked around, watching as the lights began to strengthen around him.
"Beware the Reapers... Look for the Shepard..." The words faded to silence, leaving him standing there for a moment, caught alone in the silence.
"God damned protoss, can't he ever just tell me what the hell he means?" Raynor growled out for a moment, before running the rest of the way to the bridge. "Matt! What the hell's going on?"
Wordlessly Matt lifted his hand and pointed out across the view port. A swirling maw of darkness twisted and wroth like some eldritch abomination. It stretched out, in by inch moving closer to them, as space itself seemed to ripple and twist around it.
"Aww, come on! There ain't any blackholes out here!" Jim turned his head and glared at the console readings. "And... what the hell?"
"That isn't a blackhole, Sir." Matt stared at the maw, trembling lightly. "I don't know what it is, but it's like nothing we've ever come across."
"You think you've thwarted me, human?" The voice was almost overpowering as it echoed through the bridge. "Do you think you've saved her? That she will bring your salvation?"
"I hate it when he's right," Raynor muttered sourly before glaring back at the darkness while his fingers danced across the console. "And he just haaaaad to be right."
"Sir?" Matt shifted uneasily as he glanced over Raynor.
"Matt, meet the Fallen One." Raynor gestured vaguely towards the swirling pulse of darkness with one hand. "I'd introduce you to him, but I don't think he feels much like talking."
"I have waited too long for this little… experiment to be over and done with. I will not be thwarted now. Least of all by such pathetic creatures as you." The voice rolled through the air, pulsing with a dark anger.
"Now that's just rude, wouldn't you agree, Matt?" Jim, pushed a button on console and shook his head. "I think we've over stayed our welcome. It's been nice chatting with you and all, but…"
"Um, sir?" Matt spoke up warily as he watched the way Raynor hit a command sequence on the console, and the ship gave a shuddering groan, lurching slightly but still remaining in roughly the same position. "I already tried that."
"… You could've told me." Jim muttered sourly as he watched as a sudden storm of arching, twisting white and blue energy suddenly began to arch out from the inky darkness.
"Enough of this," the voice said with a slight smugness to it. "It is time for your little game to come to an end."
"… Am I seeing things, or does that look a lot like protoss warp energy?" Jim noted as he continued to work his fingers across a different console.
"Unstable warp energy," Matt noted, his face drawn and paled slightly. "It'll rip us to shreds."
"Well, ain't that just peaches and cream," Jim said with a grunt as he continued to work his fingers across his console and suddenly the whole ship seemed to hum to life.
"Just in case, Sir, it's been an honor to serve with you," Matt said as he glanced back at Jim.
"This ain't over just yet, Matt," Jim stated before wincing slightly. "Though, if this works, Swann's gonna tear a chunk outta my hide."
"Wait, what're you doing?" Matt's eyes widened as he watched the flashing crimson warnings from the weapons array. "Wait, you're overloading all of the weapon banks!"
"I know," Jim agreed with a nod, his eyes focused on the spreading web of incoming warp energy.
"If you don't release it…!"
"I know, Matt," Jim said back with a grow, his eyes narrowed. "Come on you smug sonnuva…"
And then just as the entire bridge seemed to scream with klaxons and the tendrils of energy were upon them, Jim's hand slammed down upon the confirmation to fire.
Immediately, a sudden blossom of energy ripped through the Hyperion's batteries, slagging half of their circuits in the process. In an instant, it collided with the spreading web of energies conflicting with it, fighting it. Then, it vanished into it, and for the Hyperion and its crew, the world went white.
Inside of the Hyperion's lab, the formerly stable protoss artifact was caught in the massive exposure of warp energies and reacted.
When the world came back into focus for Jim, he slowly pushed himself up and rolled his shoulder slightly. "Aw, hell, I'm probably getting too damned old for this shit."
"Never, Sir." Matt's voice came from somewhere behind another console. "But do you think for once you could not make the room spin?"
"What, and break a perfect record?" Jim asked with a half chuckle, before pushing himself back up to his feet. "Well, we're alive."
"You've got the devil's own luck, Sir," Matt agreed with a nod.
"Yeah, generally pretty damned bad, so see if you can find out what kinda mess we dropped into this time. Get with Swann and find out what the damage is," Jim said as he started towards the door. "I need to check on some other things."
"You mean get with Swann and let him yell at me instead of you," Matt said dryly towards the departing Raynor, "While you go and check on Kerrigan."
"See? This is why we work so well together." Jim's voice called back.
"Yes, sir." Matt grunted lightly before he tapped the comm.
"I don't know what in the HELL you two jokers think you're doing up there, but…!" Swann's voice immediately broke through the speakers.
"He pissed off something big, mean, and powerful." Matt cut in dryly and shrugged his shoulders. "So, business as usual."
"… I swear, sometimes I don't know why I stick around with this nut house," Swann said with a grumble through the comm. "All right, the boy's and I will get started on the repairs… again."
"Thanks, Swann, we appreciate it, we really do."
"If you appreciated it so much, you'd stop making me do so damned often!"
"I'll try, but you know how he gets."
"... I swear, that damned cowboy's working me towards a coronary!" Swann could be heard muttering over the comm, before it finally went dead.
"You and me both, Swann," Matt chuckled softly and ruefully shook his head. "You and me both."
"Um, sir...?" Egon Stettman nervously asked as he quietly stepped up towards Jim. "You need to see this."
"Can it wait a bit? I'm heading to the sick wing and..." There was a pause as Jim groaned softly and reached up, lightly rubbing his temples for a moment, as he felt his throat suddenly running dry. "No, of course it can't. What is it now?"
"It's the lab, Sir, it's kind of... well, been consumed," Egon said helplessly as he lightly shrugged his shoulders.
"... Please, by all that's holy and right in the world, don't tell me that we've got a damned zerg infestation right here on the ship?" Jim groaned softly, before he glared back at Egon. "And you came to me instead of signaling the marines?"
"Oh, no sir!" he said quickly as he shook his head and held his hands up defensively. "Nothing like that! As far as I can tell the zerg sample was completely and utterly destroyed."
"... Then what's the damned problem then?" Just one little glass, just one little glass to wash it away, please gods let this day not get any worse.
"The Protoss sample was apparently altered by something, I can't say for sure just yet, but it was enough that, well, it's kind of..." Egon paused a moment, lightly rubbing the side of his head, before gesturing helplessly down the corridor to the lab. "You should see for yourself."
"Why is it, whenever someone tells me that, I always want to shoot them?" Jim asked rhetorically and shook his head before sighing as he gestured down the hallway. "All right, show me what all the damned commotion is about."
"It's right through here. I mean, I knew that Einstein's theory has been proven, but, this is just... I mean... take a look!" Egon gestured into the open door to the lab, and warily Raynor stepped in, and blinked lightly at what he saw.
"... I am still on the Hyperion right?" Raynor asked over his shoulder as he stepped into what looked to be something straight out of a protoss ship. "I mean... This is..."
The pulsing blue light of psi energy illuminated the graceful, golden curves of truly alien architecture as Jim slowly ran his fingers along the cool smooth golden metal. Slowly shaking his head, he noticed the dark pulsing sphere, suspended where the Xel'Naga artifact had been suspended prior to its relocation onto Char. Smooth, symmetrical lines of pulsing blue, all coursed along curving arches, as he could see what vaguely resembled Adjutant 23-46.
"Greetings, Commander Raynor." The voice echoed quietly through the room as the golden form stared at him with pure, glowing blue eyes.
"... Aw hell, now what?" Jim groaned softly he stared warily at the figure while his finger unlatched the sidearm at his side. "I'm gonna guess you're not exactly Adjutant whatever anymore?"
"A reasonable assessment," the almost melodic, echoing voice agreed as the golden figure's head nodded in agreement. "It would be difficult to quantify exactly what I am, as I am still only theorizing exactly how I came to be."
"Of course it would, just having someone tell me what in the hell is actually going on would be too damned easy." Jim groaned softly and shook his head. "I swear, if you try to pull a Zeratul on me... I've got plenty of air locks."
"Sir! Please! Think of the science!" Egon's voice quickly spoke up, his eyes wide behind his glasses. "This... this is an absolutely amazing and unique event! Think of everything we could learn from it!"
"Zeratul. Official leader of the Nerazim, noted associates: Tassadar and Artanis of the Khalai and Jim Raynor of the Terrans." The former adjutant spoke softly as if first discovering the information. "Curious... Is Zeratul not your comrade?"
"Yes, he's my friend," Raynor admitted with a grunt. "Though, that man does makes cryptic look as transparent as sheet glass."
"It is strange that I know this information. I am connected to the Khala, and yet... not it is distant, fleeting, even fading." The golden figure frowned slightly before tilting its head to the side. "That should not be possible. A connection to the Khala should simply... vanish."
"Joy." Jim shook his head and sighed softly as he glanced around the former lab. "So, is Stettman and Dr. Hanson's information still accessible, or are we gonna have to go through the whole song and dance with samples all over again?"
"Ah! My discoveries!" Stettman's eyes flew wide as he suddenly looked around the room as realization hit. "My terminal! No-no-no-no! This is terrible! Horrible!"
"Stettman..." Jim started to say as he stared at the man.
"That research was priceless! Those samples and artifacts one of a kind!"
"Stettman..." Jim said, louder this time as a touch of irritation made its way into his voice.
"Even if I do get more samples, who knows if I'll even be able to replicate the same results? I might never be able to..." Full blown panic was consuming the scientist.
"There's an air lock I can throw you out a hundred meters atta way if you don't shut up, Stettman," Jim said with a pointed growl.
"97.8 meters, on the left," the voice of the former adjutant agreed. "Explosive decompression would begin in approximately 3 seconds, depending on how strong your grip was."
Egon froze at that, his wide eyes turning to Jim as he almost trembled. "You... you wouldn't really do that, would you? I mean, I've been a valuable part of the crew!"
"Adjutant..." Jim paused a moment, before looked at the golden figure that seemed to be slightly smiling back at him in amusement. "Right, I'll figure out something to call you later. You never answered the question about the data."
"I didn't?" There was a pause as the head lightly tilted to the side, as if in deep thought. "Why, I apologize, Commander, I must've forgotten with Mr. Stettman's outburst."
"... Oh, now I know you're a hunk of protoss tech, that or you're a woman." Jim pinched his nose and groaned as his hand went reflexively towards his flask, only to remember... "Either way, I picked one helluva week to give up drinkin'."
"Ah, apologies, I had assumed that you would be more comfortable with that particular personality," the voice said apologetically. "I will find another at a future date. To answer your question, the data is still intact."
"Oh, thank you gods," Egon whispered, his whole body slumping down, before he paused a moment, suddenly paling. "Wait… when it was just in the tank it was already feeding excess power into the ship and…"
"… Stettman, are you telling me that… whatever the hell it is, is connected to my ship?" There was a pause, as Raynor slowly turned his head and stared at the innocent look on the former adjutant's face.
"Well, you see, sir, it did absorb the lab systems, and since those were connected to the ship, well…" Egon shrugged helplessly. "You did read my notes, didn't you? The stuff I made a point of refusing to mention to Swann?"
"Oh, this just keeps getting better and better," Jim said sourly before sighing softly and shaking his head as he looked at Egon. "Stettman, how long until you know where the hell we are?"
"Well, I, um, until I get the proper data, and make an analysis and um..." Egon paused a moment and shrugged helplessly when he saw the look Jim gave him. "I have no idea, it could be hours, it could be weeks."
"Weeks," Jim repeated as he stared at the man for a moment before groaning loudly. "And how soon before you can figure out a good planet for us to get the resources we need to get the Hyperion back up to snuff."
"You'd probably want to talk to Captain Horner, sir," Egon said evasively.
"This is going to turn into one of those 'Talk to him,' ' No, talk to him,' 'No, no, you need to talk to him' things, isn't it," Raynor noted with a groan as he fought down the urge to bring his skull to the hull.
"I might have a hypothesis, Commander," the voice said simply. "Judging by what data I was able to recover about the incident, unknown star configuration, and my inability to properly connect to the Khala, we are either in an exceptionally remote, and unknown portion of our universe, or.."
"Just spit it out already," Jim said with a groan as he rubbed his temples. "I just want to get this over with and get back to the sick wing."
"The other is that the combination of such a release of unstable warp energy, your efforts to combat it and my… presence, managed to manipulate the warp energy to the point where we are in an entirely different plane of reality." There was a pause before the voice continued uneasily. "Which would explain the fluxuating inconsistencies with my connection to the Khala more than the first theory would."
"There has never been any positive proof of the existence of so called alternate realities." Egon quickly protested, only to have the golden figure turn its head to him and tilt its head to the side. "I'm just saying…"
"Skepticism has its place," The voice allowed, though thrumming with a hint of… irritation? "But without faith that there is more that could be that we have not yet begun to know…"
"So what, we're supposed to just take what's out there on faith? We shouldn't try to explain it? We should just blindly accept that just because something has been theorized as possible it must be?" Egon shot back as he crossed his arms about his chest.
"Simply because something has not been proven, does not in turn disprove it," was the counter as the voice glared defiantly back at Egon.
"Just because it hasn't been disproven doesn't mean it's been proven either!" Egon argued.
Jim took a moment to look from one of them to the other before rubbing at his temples and quietly stepping back out of the lab and hitting a comm on his way out. "Matt, could you have Swann get down to the lab when he has a chance? That protoss sample we got went and took over, and I need to know what the hell to do with it."
"Took… over, Sir?" Matt asked carefully.
"As in, the whole lab looks like it was made on Aiur, that damned adjutant included," Jim said with a grunt. "Now, I'm going to the sick wing. Unless the ship is cracking apart, I don't want to hear it."
"Understood, sir," Matt agreed reluctantly.
There was a moment of silence as Jim stood uneasily at the at the door to the sick wing and stared at the woman sitting isolated in nothing more than a thin medical smock on a bed. Her whole body was curled back on itself. With her legs back against her chest, her chin rested where her arms crossed over her knees.
"… I know you're there." Her voice was soft, raw, filled with so many things he couldn't quite quantify.
"Never imagined you wouldn't, darlin," he said softly was he watched her flinch slightly. "I don't imagine I need to ask how you're holdin' up."
"That obvious is it?" she asked with a hint of her old sarcasm, not quite looking at him as she spoke.
"Just at touch," he agreed as he slowly walked into the room, before quietly taking the a seat next to her bed. "I was trying to be here when you woke up. Sorry 'bout that."
"It's all right," she said softly still staring out into the distance. "I… It's so different, hearing almost nothing but human thoughts." She paused a moment and buried her face in her arms. "I can't feel it anymore. The broods, the zerg… all those voices all together as one."
"That's a bad thing?" Jim asked simply as he studied her his eyes narrowed slightly.
"I should still be able to hear them, to feel them. Lost, confused… Calling," she said in response, as she shook her head, causing the thick tendrils that had replaced her hair to sway slightly. "I should be able to hear it pounding into my skull."
"And again, that's a bad thing?" he repeated as he settled back in his chair and studied her carefully.
"I... I don't know." She shook her head. "Everything... it's just so quiet. Like suddenly moving from the middle of a city to a forest... There's still sounds, but everything's... less than what it is where you were."
"Always did prefer the quiet myself," he said in quiet observation as he glanced up at the ceiling.
"Hard to believe, considering how many things you tend to blow up," she said with the slightest touch of humor in her voice.
"And after something does the whole big boom, it tends to get pretty quiet if you'll notice," he said with a slight grin of his own.
"Until you go and blow something else up," she said dryly and managed to turn her head, smiling slightly as she rested her cheek on her arms.
He looked into her eyes for a moment, then quietly looked away. "... I should've gone after you on Tarsonis. I shouldn't have just left you like that."
Immediately she flinched slightly and looked away. "You thought I was dead. I wish I had been. But you came when I called."
"Not fast enough," he said simply and shook his head. "Just... not fast enough."
"It wasn't your fault," she insisted quietly as she curled back further into herself. "I... you did the impossible Jim. I only remember bits and pieces... But it was you who was the one out there, stopping... her."
They couldn't quite meet each other's eyes for a moment as the words hung in the air, full of implications of what wasn't said.
"I..." Kerrigan curled back again and shook her head once more. "I'm not her anymore. But..."
"But?" Jim could feel the sudden, icy drip flowing down his spine at her words.
"But I'm not that Sarah Kerrigan anymore, either. I can't be," she said as her voice dropped into a hoarse whisper, "I don't remember everything she did, but I.. I remember enough."
"And you think I'm the same guy who joined up with the Sons of Korhal?" he asked simply as he shrugged his shoulders and reached out, laying a hand on her shoulder. "You think I'm even the same man who fought in the Brood Wars?"
For a moment, he could feel her cheek shifting over, resting on his hand before she spoke softly. "Yes. You are. I can feel it in you, a little tarnished around the edges, but he's still there. You're still that same stubborn, prideful, honorable pervert."
"Oh, a pervert, huh?" His lips twitched slightly as he would casually reach down and cupped her chin, drawing her eyes up towards his. "Sure about that?"
She stared into his eyes for a moment, her lips, parting just slightly before she quickly jerked away, curling up slightly. "Please... don't. I'm... a monster."
"We all got a monster inside us, darlin'," he said as he gave her shoulder a soft squeeze of reassurance.
"No like I do, Jim," she said softly, though she didn't try to pull away again.
Whatever he was about to say, was cast away as a sudden interruption intruded on their conversation.
"Sir?" Matt's voice crackled to live over the comm. "We... we're being hailed. The frequency took a bit to decypher, but..."
"But...?" Jim prompted as he kept his eyes on Kerrigan.
"They... They're aliens, Sir. Not protoss. Not zerg. But, definitely alien..." He paused there for a moment, "And not only do they speak English, but they seem pretty familiar with humanity. They kept talking about some kind of alliance?"
"An alliance with us?" Jim asked back as he glanced over at Kerrigan, watching her frown slightly before shrugging.
"Uh, no Sir. They're asking if we need help getting back to Alliance space. Wherever and whatever that is." Matt's frown was audible. "And they're talking about something called the citadel and the council."
"... Wonderful," Jim said with a sigh, before standing up and glancing at Kerrigan. "Care for a walk? Take a look and see what we've done with the place?"
"Done with the place?" she repeated before glancing around, "I've been here before?"
"Well, yeah," he said as he started towards the door, the gestured around them with a light wink. "She's a little lived in now, but she's still the Hyperion."
"This... this is actually the Hyperion?" she slowly looked around before arching a brow at Jim. "You stole the Hyperion from Arc-... Mengsk?"
"Yup," Jim admitted with a shrug before smirking back at her, "Mengsk left her all by her lonesome. It would've been rude of us to not go and take her out for a spin for a bit."
"For a bit?" she repeated as she crossed her arms about her chest.
"Yup, we plan to bring her back to ole Mengsk one of these days," Jim said, his eyes darkening significantly, "After all, we've still got to properly 'thank' him for letting us borrow her."
"... And why is it he'd rather have me dead than you?" she asked rhetorically.
"You're harder to ignore," Jim said simply. "Me? To him I'm just a tick, annoying and unpleasant, but you've been the big, roaring siege tank boring down on him."
"… Jim, did you just call me a siege tank?" There was a certain tone in her words that immediately rose hairs on the back of his neck in a way he hadn't felt since his wife passed.
"Only in how he sees you, darlin'," Jim said with a quick amendment. "You, you is a whole different kettle of fish."
"Jim?" Kerrigan asked in a flat tone.
"Shut up and just show me the ship already."
Jim took a moment to study the featureless purple mask obscuring everything but a pair of pale, glowing eyes staring back at him before arching a brow. "Well, evenin'. Name's Jim Raynor, what can I do for you?"
The figure paused a moment, clearly caught off guard by the man's casual greeting, before bobbing it's head in return. "Greetings. I am Admiral Rael'Zorah Vas Alarei. As I was asking your… Captain I do believe it was? Are you in need of assistance returning to Alliance space, or to the nearest Mass Relay?"
Jim blinked a moment, before glancing over at Matt, then Kerrigan, who shrugged her shoulders back at him, before looking back at the alien. "Well, Admiral, I kinda have two questions about that…"
"I can assure you, Commander, that despite the rumors to the contrary, quarians are not thieves and grifters," the admiral responded with a slight edge of irritation in his voice.
"Well, make that three," Jim amended, "What Alliance? What's a Mass Relay? And what's a quarian?"
"… I was told that human's had bizarre senses of humor, but really…" Rael'Zorah's eyes narrowed behind his visor.
"No, really," Jim shrugged a bit as he responded. "I mean, I know protoss, I'm familiar with zerg," he glanced unconsciously at Kerrigan who shrank lightly back at the look, "But, never heard of a quarian. Or an Alliance big enough to have its space. Not even a Mass Relay. Matt?"
"No sir," Matt agreed with a shake of his head. "As far as I was aware, the only the protoss and zerg besides us terran. And I've never heard of the Dominion, the UED or even the Confederacy ever really called an alliance of any kind."
"Sarah?" He turned his head and glanced over at the quiet woman.
"Xel'Naga. But they're not quarians," she answered simply. "Never heard of anything called Mass Relays, maybe something like a warp gate?"
"Protoss? Zerg?" Rael tilted his head to the side as he eyed the three warily. "...Again, is this some kind of human idea of a joke?"
"Fraid not," Jim scratched his cheek lightly as his brow furrowed a bit and thought. "Though… Oh, hell."
"Sir?" Matt glanced at Jim a moment, noting the way Kerrigan had looked at him much the same.
"Punch up the comm to the lab, Matt," Jim stated simply before giving an apologetic look at Rael. "Give us just a moment, Admiral, we're trying to clarify how far down the rabbit hole we've jumped."
"… Very well," the man, at least, Jim assumed it was a he, stated as he crossed his arms about his chest and watched the group warily.
"Cowboy, you better have a damned good reason for me to not go and use Stettman as a pin for the bowling team," Swann's voice said with a growl over the comm.
"I really must protest all the threats of gross bodily harm!" Egon's voice spoke up from the background. "I like my body how it is!"
"I don't know, Chief Engineer Swann's threat was much more creative than Commander Raynor's," the Adjutant said agreeably.
Jim paused a moment, before glancing back at where the pale, glowing eyes of the quarian admiral were blinking rapidly, before sighing softly and looking back at the comm. "Look, we can decide who does what to Stettman later. Adjutant how far are you into proving your hypothesis?"
"It is rather difficult. Most of our sensors were heavily damaged during the… transition. I assume this has to do with the unknown vessel that hailed us?"
"Yup, species we've never encountered before, that claims to have encountered humans before talking about something call the Alliance and Mass Relays."
There was a pause as silence filled the air, before Swann's voice grunted lightly over the comm. "I'll give you this, life with you involved sure as hell ain't boring, Jimbo."
"Ain't that the damned truth," Jim muttered softly before looking back towards the still blinking Rael. "Well, Admiral, we appear to be a bit… lost. Don't suppose you've ever encountered anything like this ship before?"
There was a moment's pause as if he was debating an answer, before slowly he spoke, skepticism heavy in his voice, "Are you attempting to infer that you are human, but not native to our galaxy?"
"I think we're attempting to infer we're from a bit further off, but that could just be me," Jim said with a shrug.
"Correct and incorrect, commander," the adjutant said quickly. "The presence of humans implies that this is the same relative galaxy of origin, yet, at the same time…"
"You know I'll just get a headache if you try to explain all that," Jim muttered sourly before glancing around towards what he was guessing was a speculative looking Rael. "So, Admiral, mind if we borrow a star map?"
"Commander..." There was a pause as the figure seemed to collect himself. "Are you attempting to state you're from some sort of... of..."
"The term terrans colloquially use would be 'alternate dimensions,'" the adjutant offered helpfully, through the comm.
"I... I..." Rael struggled for a moment, attempting to come up with the proper words, before finally speaking. "Are you attempting to tell me, that instead of being some kind of special Alliance secret project, you're actually? That... Do you truly expect me to believe this?"
"Well, I'm just telling how it could be," Jim said and shrugged his shoulders before glancing around him. "We honestly have no clue what happened, we're just graspin' at straws here. And I can tell you, that before you came on that screen, I'd never heard of anything called a quarian before."
"Turian then? Asari? Salarian? Krogan?" There was a slight tone of desperation as the figure studied their appearances intently through the limited scope of the communications array. "Hanar? Drell? Elcor?"
"Are those... what, worlds? Languages?" Jim glanced over at Matt, before Sarah quietly cleared her throat.
"He means... Species, Jim. Those are each species," Sarah said quietly as she stared intently at the screen. "Am I correct, Admiral?"
"Yes." Rael's voice was a soft confirmation, filled with a sense of overwhelmed confusion and disbelief.
Jim took a moment, staring back at Sarah blankly for a moment, before the full implications of those words finally hit him. "Well.. Sure as hell doesn't look like we're in Kansas anymore."
"Sir, I think that's more than an understatement," Matt agreed quietly.