A/N: Though the ME Wiki says Councillor Valern, this author is of the opinion that Velarn sounds better… Also, I decided the Salarian Councillor's name would be Councillor Armin.

Also, a nod to left hand turn signal's Mass Effect: The Reclaimers fic with the two dreadnought names, Void Hunter and Dawn Under Heaven. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him; at least, I think he's a him…

Chapter 2: The Gathering Storm

Eighteen Years before Present—15, August, 3847

"I have a feeling, a feeling that this" Rhiza gestured at the Coalition treaty that officially formed the Coalition of Species "is not peace… This is an armistice for twenty years. In that time, another great war will come, not among us, but against something else, an intruder…" she said, he warrior's instinct guiding her. It had rarely failed her before, so Princess Rhianne agreed with her Avatar of War, Doctor Brackman thought it plausible, President Macune of the Drell agreed with the prediction, considering the ruins recently found on Rakhana. President Hall of the UEF and the new Prime Minister of the Seraphim Republic, Ratheen, took a bit of persuading, but they soon agreed that with the new technology found and evidence of even more life existing in the galaxy, it was perfectly plausible that in less than twenty years, another Contact War would come.

Present Day—8 September, 3865

Councillor Velarn was somewhat irritated, sitting in one of the seats of his private shuttle, and was currently contemplating whether the other two Councillors were having an affair without telling him. He discarded the idea after a moment of contemplation; Asari and Salarian couples were rare and usually not very productive, since any children would not even be early adolescents before the Salarian parent died. Thus, to save their children the pain of never really knowing their father, most Asari did not bother entering relationships with Salarians. Nowadays, Turians could live about 200 hundred Galactic Standard Years, which incidentally for some odd reason matches up with the orbital periods of Thessia and Palaven, the Asari and Turian homeworlds. He shook his head at the ridiculous thoughts flying across his mind; the boredom must have really been getting to him…

"Councillor, we are on final approach to the Void Hunter, please prepare for docking." His pilot said over the speakers in his quarters.

"Understood." He strapped his safety harness back on as the frigate-sized shuttle reached the dreadnought and docked to the much larger ship. "Pilot, you may return to the Citadel once I board the Void Hunter and inform you it is safe to do so from its bridge."

"Acknowledged, Councillor."

"Our objective is to investigate claims of unknown alien activity being sighted on the Galactic southern borders of Citadel space, in an area of space where rightly no Mass Relays should have been activated yet." The Councillor stated, in a meeting with the various captains in the fleet he was now in overall command of. One other dreadnought, the Dawn Under Heaven, was in the fleet, along with thirty-four cruisers and sixty-four frigates, the cruiser and dreadnought captains were present in the conference room, while the frigate captains received holographic footage and could pose questions in similar fashion. "The fleet will divide into two elements, Admiral Valern will be in command of the Dawn Under Heaven, its seventeen attached cruisers and thirty-two frigates, and he will answer directly to me. I will remain aboard the Void Hunter and lead this half of the fleet. Once we locate suspicious alien activity, we will call in the other fleet and together confront the aliens. Do NOT open fire unless fired upon!" He paused, looking into the eyes of the officers one by one "I cannot stress this enough, if they do not attack us directly, you are not to under any circumstances launch an attack, understood?" The captains and admiral acknowledged the command as one.

"I must ask, Councillor, what if we find evidence of hostilities between the group we are looking for and another alien group, or evidence that they have attacked Citadel ships in the recent past?" Admiral Valern asked.

Councillor Velarn's first thought was Why did Tevos and Armin have to stick me with the one brother-in-law I absolutely could not tolerate? His second thought was I wonder how many typos my sister made when she tried to take his name after they got married, good thing she never went through with that part of their marriage… "Admiral, in those cases you will sit back and observe, if you see them actively attacking Citadel vessels, you will move to apprehend them, as is your duty, as part of the peacekeeping fleet, keep barriers up and all that, but do not open fire unless they strike first. If you see them fighting other aliens, retreat to a safe distance, call and transmit sensor readings to the Void Hunter, and we will decide whether or not we should contact one or both groups. Is that clear?" He said in a voice that brooked no argument.

"Perfectly, sir." The Admiral backed down; partly because he had a feeling he would be sleeping on the floor when he got home if he pissed off his wife's older brother enough.

"Alright, we'll do a standard search pattern of the systems, the dreadnoughts and most of the cruisers sitting near the relays while the frigates fan out and deploy sensor drones. The main fleet elements will jump in if support is needed by the frigates." Councillor Velarn continued the tediousness that was a briefing.

"Well, admiral, seems like we're all together again, the old crew…" Seth-Thauum said casually, sipping at a bottle of Coke "So, do we still hold the position being of the Elite Four? I've been kind of busy trying to incorporate Quarnon Cannons and Ultrachromatic Beam Generators into Coalition designs, so I haven't been too up-to-speed on the rankings."

"Yep, and of course HQ's asking us of all people to take their newest toys out for a spin, Ostensibly, we're supposed to take turns staying in fleet command if it comes to us gating down for combat." Williams said, patting one of the bulkheads of the Heavy Cruiser fondly. The ship was equipped with 5m external armour, plenty of space for the weapons, nanolathing gear, and supporting engineering suites. Then there was another 2m armour belt containing the crew habitation zone, complete with escape pods, power core and shielding.

"Well, that makes a lot of sense. We're all very good at basically everything, but Hackett's best at economy and macro-managing. I specialize in assault strategies, Williams in defence and Seth is essentially an on-call guy able to handle any role fairly well, without specializing, he's also the best at using mixed-faction armies" Shepard said.

"By the way, how are John and James doing at Biotics training?" Hackett asked.

"Oh, they're doing fine, making friends and all that. They made friends with this Aeon guy named Kaidan Alenko, decent boy, last I met him. According to my sons it's really funny trying to get Rahna, a UEF-born girl, to hook up with Kaidan, they keep on denying it…" She shook her head sadly "Young people, as always, are completely unaware of their own mortality…"

"Hey guys, I was just wondering, can we have a simulator tournament sometime just for old times' sake? The four of us against eight AI opponents on a plateau defence-type scenario, how about it?" Seth said, trying to break the tension that hovered in the room.

"Sure, if we win, we're stepping it up to twelve, sixteen and then twenty AI opponents." Shepard said. "But we're doing this from our own ships, in case something real comes up and bites our asses."

And so, the four went back to their own Heavy Cruisers, Turning over command of each Hunter Squad in the Hunter Clutch, as it was called, to their captains before engaging in the ACU simulators. Each Hunter Squad included One Heavy Cruiser, two Light Cruisers, and three Destroyers. The Clutch also included Frigate Squadrons (4 Groups, 6 Frigates and 10 Corvettes each) and an Escort Carrier.

According to doctrine, the Frigates and Corvettes would not be manned unless conducting planetary evacuation or aid missions. The Destroyers each had a ten-person crew, and so did the Light Cruisers, Heavy Cruisers featured fifteen crew each. Each Hunter Squad in this mission had a Frigate Squadron slaved to it, and each could draw on Aerospace support from the Escort Carrier, which was crewed by 10 men and women.

Their mission was to escort a new Quantum Gate Constructor (the new designation for Deep Space Explorers) into unknown space via a newly discovered Mass Relay, to expand the Quantum Gate Network, reconstructed after the war. Instead of Orbital Gates, it was now in the form of massively fortified groundside Gate Complexes, designed to patch through the quantum link through to other gates anywhere on-planet as well as to the next, or the next five, systems in any direction. A few Orbital Gates remained in-place on the most travelled routes to delegate the quantum flows, but they were far less common than they were during the Infinite War. Instantly gating to any planet in the Human Quadrant was now far more difficult, with more gate checks, than before, so the Insurrectionists were greatly hindered (an understatement) while normal traffic went by as usual.

The reason they required such a large fleet for the task? The Explorers were only lightly armed, and reports of sightings of unidentified ships had caused security to be tightened greatly along the border of the quadrant. Evacuation drills, abandoned since the end of the Seraphim War, were conducted again among the more remote worlds. Patrol fleets had been stepped up, and the more significant worlds in the Coalition Rim, as it was designated, garrisoned. There weren't enough commanders to assign one to each world, so most used command bunkers and/or Network Nodes instead. The new Bunkers and Nodes were a giant step up from the old ones, not only were they stealthed, they were also cloaked and had their own Omni Sensor Array, supported by internal power generation. Oh, and let's not mention the shields, onboard weapons, and mostly underground nature.

"We have contacts emerging from the Relay, they are moving into a search pattern of the system we're headed toward." The Sensor Officer on Hackett's Heavy Cruiser stated, as the souped-up Quantum Optics systems of each ship focused in on the target area, as detected by Quantum-enhanced Radar and Omni Sensors, unhampered by atmospheric interference, could see up to a light-year with sufficient power put into them. If anything, every Coalition Warship was over-powered, so it was with ease that they spotted the predatory-looking ships emerging from the signature distortions of Mass Effect FTL.

One of the ships, most likely the flagship, was just over a kilometre in length, utterly dwarfing the Coalition Heavy Cruisers and the Escort Carrier, at 500 and 550 meters long respectively. "They're powering up shields." The man reported, though Hackett with his Command Interface already knew. The crew on coalition ships was basically a backup, after all…

"Launch all fighters and Gunships, have them hold position here, here, here and here" he holographically designated four points on his holographic interface, between each two of the four Hunter Squads. The Constructor, a 1000 meter long colony-founding ship, was ordered to move back behind the cover of the Escort Carrier's powerful shields, which though it was a smaller ship provided enough cover. Thus the fleet formed a formation with the Carrier and Constructor in the middle rear, the four Heavy Cruisers in between them and the enemy, on the 45 degrees points to the ecliptic relative to the Carrier (think the 5 face of a dice), the Frigate Squadrons holding position between the Hunter Squads, while the Fighter Squadrons held position just outside the square formed by the Cruisers, said Cruisers directly between them and their Carrier. The Carrier began fabricating more aircraft immediately, focusing on Geminis and Restorers, though Revenants were also assembled. Of course, these were the newest generations of their designs…

Hackett was suddenly thankful he came out of Quantum FTL far away from the system and advanced with caution. Even now, technicians aboard the Constructor were latching their ship onto the relay and beginning to repair and restore the artefact to full functionality. Though Mass Effect Tech was inferior to Quantum tech, the Drell still used it, as well as the other Coalition species on the occasions when a Quantum Storm blocked transit along a major route.

"It seems we've found them." Admiral Valern said, his mandibles flexing into a Turian and distinctly predatory smile. "And they don't really look that advanced either; see the clunky designs of their ships and the absence of heavy mass accelerators? If we attack, we could probably wipe them out, that big one looks more like a colony ship than anything else too…" He commented to Spectre Nihlus Kryik, who was stationed on the Dawn Under Heaven for this mission, just in case something went bad with the Contact.

"Sir, the Mass Relay is visibly changing." A sensor tech said.

"Onscreen." Valern commanded, frowning. He watched with growing horror as the Primary Mass Relay's (oddly considering their resilience) dented, greyish exterior began to smooth over, a glowing red web of lines encasing the relay. "They're changing the Relay… order our wings to close in and form screens, charge up the mass accelerator, we cannot allow them to reprogram or otherwise tamper with that Relay without repercussions!"

"Sir, they've powered weapons and are advancing, the big ship in the back of the formation is orienting its axis toward the Carrier, likely using a spinal gun."

"Do NOT fire, unless they shoot at us…" All four commanders, now Rear Admirals, said at once, and, as it was eighteen years ago, Hackett still held operation command, mostly.

A glowing yellow dot travelled outward from the biggest red icon at a rate of 4000-some kilometres per hour "Fire all weapons at the enemy Frigates and Corvettes, tell the Constructor to get all the workers back and jump to Quantum Space, tell the Carrier to get out of the way if their shields drop below 40%. When the Constructor leaves, the Carrier can start evading regardless, got it?" Hackett ordered.

The first dreadnought slug slammed into the shields of the Carrier with the strength of 38 kilotons TNT equivalent of directed force. This dealt 6000 damage to the 50,000 strength of the Carrier's shields (in the Seraphim War Era, it would have been 7500 or so points), not much by any account. The Paragon was replenishing the shields at a rate of 500 per second when the second slug slammed into the shields, the ship just sat there, protecting the Constructor behind it. Though every two seconds the enemy fired at the range of 40,000 kilometres, it didn't do much.

The four heavy cruisers opened up on the enemy Frigate-sized ships while the Frigates and Corvettes closed with the enemy Corvettes. Four Sonance Artillery slugs spun up, nanolathed into swirling vortices of condensed quantum resonance plasma, antimatter, and containment cores. They had their masses increased one million fold relative to themselves but not at all relative to the rest of the universe, and then sped down the barrels at a speed of three kilometres per second. They instantly accelerated to three thousand kilometres per second once they left the barrels; their kinetic energies concentrated in so much smaller a mass than before…

The first Sonance round, bearing the equivalent of 12,000 shield points' worth of damage or seventy-five kilotons of energy, speared right through the alien formation, eviscerating a pair of corvettes that got in the way, before finally detonating against the hull of a frigate and blowing it to bits of scrap metal. The gun would require thirty seconds before it could fire again, regrettably, considering the relatively low power output of Heavy Cruisers compared to a groundside base.

The other three slugs had similar results, tearing apart several enemy corvettes and destroying or severely damaging enemy frigates. The enemy artillery vessel remained unharmed, even as the Cruisers laid down a swarm of Loa Tactical Missiles from their racks, supplemented by the Frigate groups, which were bearing down on the enemy right behind the missiles. This was followed by the charging of the secondary artillery weapons of the cruisers, the Triple Gauss Cannons, and the charging of Dual Plasma Beam Cannons by the Destroyers and Heavy Cruisers. They let loose upon the remaining elements of the hostile fleet even as the behemoth moved, reorienting itself toward one of the Heavy Cruisers

"Admiral, in their opening salvo we have lost 6 Frigates, 4 Cruisers, with one cruiser disabled." The Sensor officer reported. "We have hundreds of missiles bearing down on us; interception grids are hot and ready."

"By the Gods, the estimated yield for their artillery weapons is twice that of a dreadnought slug!" The Weapons officer cried, looking at the readouts.

"What? Impossible! Directed Energy Weapons!" Another sensor officer yelled in alarm as brilliant blue beams connected ships on both sides. Hardened Turian armour and hull boiling and melting before the onslaught of plasma. Another sixteen Frigates went up as their shields were overwhelmed and their hulls burned away, A Cruiser did the same a moment later when it was struck by four salvoes of Gauss Cannon fire in staggered blasts. The first six shell impacts sheared away the shields, the seventh shattered the remaining kinetic barriers (Note: kinetic barriers are effective against all sorts of weapons, after all, light has kinetic energy, and so does EVERYTHING else) and the last five each detonated against the hull with a force of three kilotons per slug. The ship shattered in under half a second.

"They are still closing distance, probably to use closer-range weapons." The first sensor officer said with a note of panic in his voice.

"Fleet full astern, all ships throw everything you've got other than interception grids at the enemy, focus on this target" He highlighted one of the enemy artillery ships in his holographic map of the battlefield.

"Enemy missiles entering range of interception grids, lighting 'em up now" the Weapons officer said as the Guardian laser interception suites opened fire on the swarm of incoming missiles.

"Ah, the wonders of Loa Tactical Missiles…" Shepard said even as she manoeuvred her Heavy Cruiser to "daintily", if such a term could be applied to a starship weighing hundreds of thousands of tons, sidestep the incoming mass accelerator slugs. At 20,000 kilometres and closing in range, the enemy frigates had about a one in ten chance of hitting with her erratic movements, the enemy corvettes even lower, the only reliable hitting force was the behemoth, which hit once per three shots. She watched with typical Cybran pride as the interception grids on the opposing ships opened up and Loa Tactical Missiles were met by lasers not unlike the Zappers her own ships used in abundance. The aliens did NOT seem to expect the missiles to split in four after being hit though, so each missile still did what would be to her 2000 damage points. If they had not been forced to disassemble, they would have done 6000, or a directed three kiloton payload with nanites and overload pulses disabling the structural field and/or shield overcharge that would normally reduce the damage significantly. Now, the individual fractions did 300 tons TNT worth of damage each, only 300 tons worth. A total of 576 missiles had been put into space by the Coalition fleet. The enemy ships managed to shoot 566, which left a total of seven hundred and nine point two kilotons' worth of energy headed toward the alien fleet that randomly attacked them for no apparent reason.

"The missiles split when hit! Brace for imp—" The line from the forward cruiser and frigate screens abruptly went dead as thousands of explosions littered space and Turian ships brewed up one by one until only the Void Hunter and a handful of ships, protected by its mighty kinetic barriers, remained.

"Energy build-up detected, in enemy artillery ships and all other cruiser and heavy cruiser-sized ships." The weapons officer said. "Our slugs are simply not hitting them often enough, recommend we call in the rest of the fleet, or… fight another day."

"Are you joking? The Dawn Under Heaven's shields can take a lot of punishment, even from their heaviest guns, I say we close to knife-fighting distance for higher hit rates" the Admiral said "If it comes to it, the opening of our FTL drives might cause some damage too!"

"Aye sir." The helmsman said, while the communications officer patched it through, with a gentle thrum in its decks, the Dawn Under Heaven's huge engines lit up and the ship began accelerating toward the enemy fleet, manoeuvring thrusters keeping the main gun solidly aligned with one particular enemy Artillery Ship, which also turned, still accelerating in the same direction it was before, and discharged its own slug at the dreadnought, while the dreadnought fired back. The slugs crossed in space without colliding, the mass accelerator round slamming into the Heavy Cruiser's shields while the Sonance round smashed into the Dreadnought's shields, causing the kinetic barriers to pulse overcharge and be taken down five percent. The other three Sonance shells reduced the Dawn Under Heaven's shields to 80% capacity.

"So, they have pulse overcharge on their heaviest ship shields too…" Shepard mused while her "Shield Low" alarm began bleeping. She switched on her cloaking device and accelerated, moving out of the way of the next slugs and pulling alongside the enemy ship. She patched through a quantum communication channel to the other three commanders, well, technically Rear Admirals, but still… "Guys, I estimate that behemoth's shield strength around 240,000 points, order all squadrons to close in and open up with all available weapons on it. Manoeuvre freely within squadron designated space."

Engines all across the Coalition Fleet were pushed from their former leisurely twenty percent maximum thrust to full thrust, and within moments the Dawn Under Heaven found itself assailed by a swarm of gnats—Gemini-class Aerospace Superiority Fighters and Restorer AA Gunships, along with a fleet of Frigates and Corvettes. The sluggish ship's escorts were stuck in a similar predicament, more specifically the same predicament, as the behemoth. Oblivion Cannons, Medium and Light, opened up across the Coalition Fleet while Ravagers began their non-stop rattling, pouring fire down upon the enemy.

"Shit." Was the Admiral's comment as the shields dropped to 25% after yet another barrage of those weird glowing Artillery slugs "Order the fleet to begin spinning up FTL drives, we're getting out of here, scan for a nearby habitable planet where we can hopefully land and make repairs, and get me a line to the Hierarchy." The officers did as instructed

"Mass Effect FTL detected charging in hostile fleet." Hackett's sensor officer reported. "Our Carrier and Constructor are evading their trajectory now."

Citadel Station, 9 September, 3865

"We discovered another intelligent race apparently tampering with an unknown Primary Relay, Relay 282. They appeared to have repaired the slightly damaged artefact completely and thus most likely have changed its programming. Admiral Valern chose to aggressively confront the enemy by opening fire on the ship docked to the Relay. The visually primitive ships fought back with never-before-seen energy and kinetic weapons and, using their far superior manoeuvrability and apparently powerful shields managed to destroy the whole of the Dawn Under Heaven's attached fleet except three Cruisers and two Frigates. Thirty frigates and fourteen cruisers were lost in the engagement; we have detected a probable colony near the system we are currently in, will recon next galactic day" a set of coordinates came through "Requesting Hierarchy fleet support and recommend that the Turian Hierarchy but not the Citadel Council go to war with these aliens, who are obviously a major threat to the Mass Relay Network and thus a threat to the existence of the Council." Councillor Velarn listened to Nihlus Kryik's report while fighting off the urge to slam his head repeatedly into his desk in the Council Chambers, where the Councillors were meeting to discuss this new development.

"This is troubling news indeed." Said Councillor Tevos, steepling her fingers and frowning "The aliens' modification of the Relays seems to resemble the Rachni modification of the Relays, encasing them in some sort of material that we later had to use fusion torches to burn away to make the relays useable again."

"The Turian Hierarchy confronting the intruders seems a good idea. If things go sour, the Council can attempt to mediate a peace or throw in support for the Hierarchy. If things go well, well, nothing more needs be said." Councillor Armin said

Shanxi, Coalition Rim World, 9 September, 3865

The Shanxi colony was a small agricultural colony founded only two months ago, a calm, tranquil, Earth-like planet, excellent for farming, without local sapient life, or indeed any form of life until it had been terraformed and its orbit adjusted. That had been a little over a year ago, the same tranquility was about to be shattered…

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE PRIMARY SPACE ELEVATOR'S NOT GOING TO BE FINISHED UNTIL TOMORROW?" This was Grand Crusader Williams' first comment on leave, with only her ACU accompanying her, to manage and safeguard the colony. The impending Quantum Storm would render effective quantum travel all but impossible in the area for several days if not a week or two. The colony already had two Paragons set up in two well-fortified bases north and east of the main colony, taking advantage of the V-like shape of the elevated ground the colony's sole city was on. Taking note of Cybran and UEF designs, all the buildings were well-reinforced, many featuring Surface-to-air missile batteries or Flak batteries along ledge areas on the buildings (there were no outdoor patios halfway up buildings, the defences occupied the space). Numerous Athanuhthe Heavy Shields covered the city, mounted on the rooftops of the larger buildings, and eight Guardian-class SMDs were also present, Two per quadrant of the settlement.

The Paragon Bases each included three T3 Land Factories, four T3 Air Factories, two SMDs, and were also covered by Athanuhthe shields. One normal resource base was in the crook of the V-shaped ridge. It had 6 T3 Mass Extractors, all turned off due to the Paragons' presence (it was a back-up base after all) and 10 T3 Power Generators to supplement the 8 already in the city and powering its shields.

One Mavor per Paragon base formed the core of the defences, having been upgraded enough to launch a small (400-kg) slug at 4000 km/s if need be, using normal slugs, it could fire a 4000-ton slug at up to 50 km/s. The alternate fire mode packed less total energy, but that was due to the power drain of the mass-increasing quantum fields needed to give the slug enough acceleration time, considering the barrel was only 400 meters long.

The space elevator was a massive spire that was being constructed from the center of the settlement, pointing up and to be connected to a space station with space dock. Much to William's irritation, said space station was not yet operational, oh, the Space Elevator and all its Control Nodes and defence batteries were online, but the stupid Space Station would still take the 100 T3 Engineers another thirty minutes to nanolathed. She could field up to 3000 units and structures at the moment, and so she added some more defences and corrected weaknesses the civilian colony planners had made. Nanolathing more of the kilometres-tall buildings the colonists would live in was a tedious task for the Grand Crusader. This particular colony was one of the mixed-faction colonies that had started to appear fifteen years after the war, when most of the work of rebuilding was done and scars had begun to fade. She would keep it safe, after all, if there was an attack, the colony had nowhere to run…

She listened to the news idly, hearing about yet another lost set of colonists being discovered in the far Galactic East, along with two alien species. One was humanoid, aiding the non-corrupt Terran faction, the so-called Raynor's Raiders, the aliens called themselves the Protoss, claiming to have been helped in their evolution by an ancient race called the Xel'Naga. The other was an insectoid race called the Zerg, apparently with the ability to infest humans. The factions in the area, the Koprulu Sector, were fighting to destroy the Zerg, overthrow the oppressive Terran Dominion… blah, blah, blah… she yawned. Why, oh why did I have to be reassigned on the first day of my period? I'm irritable then, or did Avatar of War Rhiza forget, or did she just want me to scare to crap out of the civvies administrator?

Tens of thousands of light-years away, a certain Avatar of War, situated on Seraphim II, Capital World of the Aeon Illuminate, was busy dabbing at her nose, wondering if she'd caught cold. Then a grin spread across her face as she remembered reassigning Grand Crusader Williams to Shanxi for some R&R, the sneeze was probably from Williams being grumpy about it. Then she called up Williams' file, because there was nothing much to do at the moment and she didn't feel like using the simulators, and her eyes widened. The local administrators are SO screwed… Williams was and still is legendary for her PMS-ing, thankfully she ran on a 45-day cycle, but this week, would have been THE week.

Moments later, uncontrollable laughter echoes in the quarters of the Avatar of War. The guards and personnel outside all looked around at each other, shrugged, and went back to their work. They saw nothing, they heard nothing, that was what they agreed on, though they still chose to tread carefully around the Avatar of War until they were sure she hadn't gone mad with boredom.

10 September, 3865

"Fleet synchronized and all FTL drives charged. We are jumping… now." The Navigation Officer announced aboard the Dawn Under Heaven, secondary flagship of the newly assembled Turian Assault Fleet. It was agreed that the general strategy would be to land an army on the surface of the planet, then hold geosynchronous orbit over the landing area to provide orbital support. If the worst-case scenario occurred, the fleet would provide a volley of orbital bombardment, then hold distance out of range of surface to orbital weapons or orbital defence platforms and let the army disable control centers and communications hub so as to cut fleet losses.

A lush green world came into view, one large city visible on its night side surface, a glowing line of lights stretching above the city. "Space Elevator detected, along with a large space dock, complete with defences. Fleet moving to other side of planet now, we will land over the horizon from this primary city and then fight a ground campaign toward it. The Dawn Under Heaven will provide a shield for the other fleet elements from enemy orbital defence fire."

By the time the fleet got over the horizon from the enemy, even charging and going to FTL to do it, the Dreadnought's shields had dropped to 20%.

Shanxi Capital City, 10 September, 3865

"Oh shit, the Quantum Storm's already started, so I can't gate there… and those towns on the other side of the planet were never fortified. I guess I'll have to do it via the Control Nodes in the one Primary City on the other side of the planet…" Williams muttered to herself, as the red contacts moved to land troops near the other side of the planet, on the second part of this largest continent. Mavors were too slow to be effective at over-the-horizon work (there's a speed limit in that case) against the enemy spaceships, so she was left with very little in terms of options. Astoundingly, there weren't even any Engineers in the area, so she actually had to send a pair of Continental-class transports, each with 6 T3 Engineers (all of the Cybran Combat design, each featuring a two-cannon turret from an older-version Rhino Medium Tank) along with 2 Ascendants, over to the other half of the super-continent. The trip would take the transports 10 hours, considering the massive hurricane they would have to weather slowing them down slightly. She ordered the outlying towns to evacuate into the central city, which was well-fortified and could hold out. She would feed the Alien fleet a Yolona Oss missile if it came down to it, to get rid of the enemy's orbital support. In her own base, she started construction of several dozen Frigates and Corvettes to drive the enemy out with, Geminis and Restorers would not cut it, the enemy frigates' weapons could kill them with relative ease, and so could the secondary guns of the dreadnoughts, or so the Coalition Space Command designated them.

Things were going to go nasty fairly quickly for the aliens, because though in space the Coalition was reasonably adept at warfare, on the ground they were absolutely lethal. (A/N Nod to Dawn of the Third Age: V2 by Tscorpio1701 in this sentence)

A/N: I do own Hearts of Iron 3, hence the chapter titles and starting quote (though this quote is my favourite, the one from the Road To war starting point of the game, and it's the only one I'll use). However Cahpter Titles up to Ch 14 (the whole of the Turian War) will amtch Hearts of Iron 3 Start Points.

You could probably smell Spacer Shepard from a thousand miles away as soon as this fic started, well, you were right. Anyways, note that transport clamps for ground units have yet to be included in ship designs. The clamps are currently exclusively for extra aircraft produced by a carrier while in combat (once 75% of the possible clamps in a fleet are taken up, the supporting carrier will cease production of units until some are destroyed).

Expect Nihlus to live, and before you rail on me about how idiotic Valern and/or the Council is, remember that the last time an unknown Primary Relay was opened in Citadel Space, the Rachni Wars occurred, which indirectly led to the Krogan Rebellions. Valern is currently acting psychopath because not only are they accessing an unknown Primary Relay, they are MODIFYING IT! THE HORROR! *end super dramatic voice*

BTW: The tactical decision to close in: Citadel races focus more on range in weapons, so they aren't expecting such power in the shorter-range weapons. They expected anti-fighter guns, they got Oblivion Cannons and Ravager Plasma Chainguns... yeah.

Expect the next chapters to be titled the following:

Chapter 10: Blitzkrieg—Turians attack outer towns and meet no resistance, taking over the territory without response in the first few hours of the invasion.

Chapter 11: Barbarossa—Turians start attacking Primary City of that continent. It's called biting off far more than you can chew, with the city's garrison of defensive units and engineering stations (The Hive-class, Cybran design) for repairs. Though Williams can only field 500 units at a time, not 3000 unit cap like her own side… yeah. The Continentals reach the city…

Chapter 12: Day Of Infamy—Orbital Bombardment begins of Secondary Cities, no loss of life on Coalition side except the few people caught outside the shields/shelters, but first experimental weapon fired in Turian War—The Yolona Oss.

Chapter 13: The Tide Turns—Turians evicted…forcibly. A PMS-ing Grand Crusader is not to be taken lightly.

Chapter 14: Götterdämmerung—Conclusion of the First Contact War…

I'm excited, are you? Review please (anyone who wants to complain about my use of HP and Shield Points please see Chapter 6 for explanation)!