Mass Effect X Halo: Spartan Dawn

Disclaimer: I don't own either Bioware or Bungie...

Chapter 8


( ): Thoughts

In one of the offices on Arcturus Station…

Captain David Anderson was busy reading all the files before him and was pleased to see that the designs that had been stolen had been returned and had not been tampered with. Having John, Jorge, and Cortana retrieve the data was very helpful and they were happy that it paid off that a band of terrorists were finally put down before they could become something of a threat. He did not expect to learn that the Spartans had actually slaughtered nearly all the mercenaries that called Omega their home even when Aria T'Loak was still in charge of the station.

Seeing the utter carnage they inflicted even when outnumbered and outgunned by the mercenary forces in Omega was something that both amazed and terrified him. But he had to also accept the fact that the sight now gave him a very good idea on why was it that the Covenant called John, Jorge, and his fellow Spartans Demons or Devils. That video was somehow sent to Alliance Command and the brass had gone literally bat-shit crazy.

There were generals and admirals who demanded that the Parliament find a way to get the Spartans to join the Alliance right now. And he could see why as such skilled and armed soldiers would have made the Alliance forces deadly, along with access to their weapons and armor. However, both he and Hackett were against the idea since for one, doing so would be risky to the Alliance since members of the galactic community would no doubt be up in arms about it.

He was not a politician by definition and he left that sort of thing to people better suited for the mess that politics was. But even he knew that having the Spartans on their side would be filled with just as much problems as solutions. He was personally pleased to have the Spartans as allies who were not affiliated with any one party since if they were, there was no telling if one faction on Earth or the Alliance itself would have less than good intentions for the aid of the Spartans. If there were some who did get the Spartans to do something that would benefit them and cause trouble, then the Alliance was going to have a serious mess to clean up.

Besides, Eclipse, Blood Pack, and Blue Suns were all mercenaries who had less than stellar track records with local authorities so no one was going to cry over the deaths of the mercs. Their families and associates might but he had doubts that they were all like that and the groups have committed criminal acts even in Alliance space so the Spartans did the Alliance a major favor since the losses would stymie the various groups' ops for a long time. Not to mention that it would cause the groups left in the Terminus to be fighting over territory in the Terminus, thus decreasing the numbers of pirates and whatnot that would plague the borders of both the Alliance AND the Citadel, a win/win if there was one.

And there were some silver linings as well, the Alliance High Command were taking more keen interest in developing new tech and equipment in light of seeing how the equipment of the Spartans worked. And the videos sent by their observers from before were used to convince members of the Alliance that it was time to start developing new tech and tactics, as well as resurrect old designs and ideas that were shelved. Even Udina was all for the idea of these new projects and the man had reported that the civilian variant of the coolants were now picking up more support from the people which meant that the economy would be improved due to the reduced costs for ship maintenance and allowing for more shipments of goods from system to system and also the improved way the recently discontinued tech for ship cooling can be redirected into other matters..

The reduced cost of maintenance for their ships would indeed be a boon in both civilian and military sectors as their ships lasted longer and operate better. This in turn ensured that there would be extra credits to be used for other important projects and ventures short on funds. All in all, a win-win situation for all parties, very rare in this day and age.

There was also another deal coming up, namely in the Alliance asking for technology to alleviate the conditions of the nations on Earth that still relied on 20th century technology. After reviewing how the UNSC developed such technology to help lessen their usage of fossil fuels and several other bits of technology to the point that fossil fuels were a thing of the past, the Alliance Parliament figured this could allow the less developed nations grow and improve. Even with the discovery of the Prothean cache on Mars and the leap forward in terms of technology, there were still nations on Earth that relied on older technology and this had led to serious economic, environmental, and health problems for the people living on those nations.

Thus a deal to trade in some non combat technology could prove to be a boon to the people and help make things easier. He was in favor for it and even Udina was as well, surprising that they could agree on some things in his mind, but who was he to say no to a gift? All he could hope for was that this new economic boom in the making would help make Humanity more capable in the still ongoing struggle to finally have a say in Galactic politics. There was even talk of reviving the old research done on Gauss technology as it was the basis of the MAC Gun and Gauss tech of the UNSC. When Mass Effect technology was developed, Gauss and Railgun technology was eventually placed aside, deeming it too expensive and time consuming to use. That was why the tech was now gathering dust and would have been deleted except for those who fought tooth and nail to keep it alive.

Now it seemed that after seeing the devastating power of UNSC Gauss and Railgun technology in action, the research was being revived. And also given a new face lift as some enterprising eggheads in Hadne-Kehlar Shadow Works figured that if one thought about it, Mass Accelerators and Gauss as well as Railgun technology were the same thing. So why not find a way to blend the best of the two branches of the same tree, and make a weapon system that blended both? The fact that Railguns and Gauss Guns used NO E-zero was considered an interesting bonus as well in terms of resource expense.

Many of the Alliance High Command even began to even think of making a working Orbital Defense Platform! That was monumentally expensive even if they were not going to use E-zero but even he saw the potential of a defense platform like that. The UNSC used such stations to deadly effect in planetary defense after all and a few of those with the right range can easily make most fleets think twice before hitting their colonies. And it would buy time for ground forces to be re-routed and be reinforced as well as have time to hold the line to allow a reinforcing Fleet to land in support of ground forces. They had witnessed records of such ODPs in action and the idea of Earth having these systems for defense was very tempting indeed. Plus if they found a way to improve the power supply issues, then who knew, they could very well send the designs for ODPs to some of the more important colonies of the Alliance….then expand from there.

There was even mention of the Alliance Parliament and the Prime Minister as well as the military heads thinking of forming an initiative that dealt with garrison defense. They still felt that maneuver warfare was the way to go for them and in truth Anderson agreed with it. But they also realized that in order to protect their colonies better, it was high time that they turned planetary garrisons into actual military bases that could have the means to hold the line and fight back until backup arrived. The Alliance learned from their observers in the UNSC and from the Spartans themselves that if they wanted to maintain a strong tie to their people in the colonies, they had to have a powerful and capable force on the planet to hold the fort until reinforcements arrived.

Many in the Alliance felt that if the trend of their naval fleets coming in only after the attack continued, it would eventually build up resentment to the Alliance from their own people. And the reports that they got from people in the frontier and in their own colonies made it clear that while there were those who stood with the Alliance, many felt that the events on Mindoir and other colonies where the Alliance came in too little too late to do anything substantial other than force the fleet off the planet was a band aid solution at best. While some argued that they could focus on rebuilding the infrastructure, others argued that it was cold comfort for the people on the ground as no amount of credits and reconstruction will bring their loved ones back.

The most vocal about it were amazingly those who were trying to exonerate former Alliance General Williams. They claimed that had the Alliance at least devoted more resources and assets to reinforce Shanxi prior to the day of the First Contact War, it would not have turned out the way it did. They argued that had Williams been given a proper base to hold the line against Turian forces when they landed, he could have held out longer and thus had been able to fight back until reinforcements came. They stated that had he been given more supplies and munitions, as well as fall back spots he could have done more as well as having some ways to prevent the Turians from gaining orbital supremacy which as space borne warfare had shown both in their time and in the records of the Spartans dictated the fate of worlds.

They also stated that they should have had a small but well armed orbital fleet nearby to hold the line and reinforce the ground garrison, it would have helped out the situation.

The arguments there had been loud as many still held resentment and prejudice towards the Williams Family for Shanxi. But those who supported the Williams family were just as serious and loud, calling the Alliance brass and politicians who in their terms, tossed Williams to be eaten by the hounds, as a bunch of idiots who had never had to deal with the shit-storm Williams had to deal with. This argument was now getting new life when they saw that even with their faults and their losses to the Covenant, the UNSC did at the very least had good security for it's colonies prior to the war and at least had garrisons that could hold there own in a fight when it counted.

Thus the initiative was started to not only possibly increase the size of all planetary garrisons, but begin a full recruitment and training drive to increase the overall number of Marines while retaining the high quality of training. There was even talk of making a totally land based garrison force for the Alliance…in other words, the Systems Alliance was contemplating the formation of an Army. A force devoted to planetary defense and garrison duties and should new colonies be established, this possible Alliance Army would then land there, secure the colony and hold it while working with the still existing Marine Garrison forces.

It was all theory and discussion right now, but the fact that it was being seriously fought over and reviewed meant that the Alliance was taking this matter seriously.

He turned when the door of his office chimed in to allow someone in. He waited to see who was coming to his office and smiled an the new arrival.

"Good to see you Shepard, I see that you finally graduated. And newly promoted as Lieutenant Commander as well, I am proud of you."

"Good to see you to Captain, thanks for recommending me. And thanks for all the support."

The older man shook hands with the female Marine, Lt. Commander Adriana Shepard or 'Ana' to her friends was tall for a woman and was what one could call as a beautiful but deadly woman. She was a good sort, respectful, calm under pressure, and very amicable which was why a lot of the officers respected her and while some soldiers would make a pass at her, she was not that easily swayed but still made friends every now and then. Their attraction to his student was understandable though as she could have taken a job as a model quite easily with the red hair that was past the shoulder blades and usually held in a ponytail and emerald eyes, and a figure that many women would want. And she was smart, above your average and close to genius level, not a full genius but had brains when it counted and had a way with words as well.

But Adriana was a military kid through and through and had been something of a tomboy growing up. Getting into fights with bullies harming the other school kids was one of the reasons her parents sent her to military school, along with the fact she asked to serve in the military. Hannah and Franklin Shepard were both in the military, with Hannah being an XO of the Kilimanjaro and Franklin being a Captain in the Marines, so it made sense that Shepard was born to serve in the Alliance. The fact that a lot of the younger kids looked up to her and she was a capable leader in her own right made her a good officer in combat and he was well aware that she was not in the market for politics and the bullshit that came with it.

"How did your mother and father take your graduation?"

Adriana smiled at that and replied.

"Dad's proud of me as he was the one who pinned the graduation tab, and Mom was able to come to the affair at the last minute. We had a good dinner as a family afterwards, good times since it's rare for them to be together with me."

"I know, you're mother's due to be on duty and your father's going back to Rio to oversee the training programs there. I take it you are going on your first assignment?"

"Yes, we're being deployed to deal with several pirate incursions at the Attican Traverse to see if there's a base in the area."

"Good luck in that Shepard."

As she headed out, Anderson also took a look at the other graduates, namely those he also mentored but who were not present now as they were being given their assignments. One was Commander Travis Mckenzie, one of the children who used to live on the colony of Mindoir but had lost his family and friends after it got hit by Batarian slavers. He was found after at least one week after the attack and the Alliance secured the colony and forced the Batarians off the planet. The young man eventually joined the Alliance military and this was how he met the man and mentored him alongside Adriana.

He worried about Travis's mental state after all he had seen but also saw the fire in the young man's eyes and thus trained him. Now the only question that remained was if that fire could be controlled and focused to do something productive or not. Naturally like any good mentor and military officer, he hoped for the former, but if it was the latter, well…all he hoped for was that it did not become a disaster.

The next was Commander Katrina Reilly who was born on Earth but had lost her parents at a very young age, and had rode with a serious street gang. She grew up tough and very willing to fight if push came to shove but wanted a better life than what she had with the gang even if they were her friends. One day he had come to Earth for a chance to relax when he spotted them about to rob a store, he walked in and soon as they came in, they tried to make their move. Only for him to stop them, none of them knew he was an Alliance officer and an N7 graduate at that. The teenagers attacked him and he quickly fought them off, only Katrina or Kat backed off, shocking her crew as she replied that there was no way she was taking on an N7.

That surprised Anderson and after the police took them away, he visited the Police Station and talked with her, there he learned she had been very attentive of the Alliance and learned about the N7. And apparently had met some of his own fellow graduates who were on shore leave. That would explain why Kat knew of the N7 Program.

He read her file and was impressed at her skills in surviving in the mean streets and despite her actions, and attitude, he gave her the offer to join the Alliance, and she actually agreed, wanting to find another path to life apparently and became a better soldier and a chance to live a better life. But she had a strong streak of ruthlessness, needed to survive in the mean streets on Earth to be sure, but also at times in the military when diplomacy was out of the question or not going anywhere. He personally did not agree with some of her actions which made a number of soldiers wary of her, but he knew that if the military needed the dirty work done, she had the will to do it in spades.

For now though he had other matters to iron out and plan as well. He recalled the time he failed as a Spectre…no thanks to Saren, but he was not going to let that stop him. What he learned would be passed on to the three of them, and when only time will what the results will be.

On the Citadel…

Executor Palin was busy running through the latest issue of paper work in C-Sec, and mentally sighed a bit as he looked at the reports. The usual stuff was acceptable and the most boring, though in hindsight it was nice not to have reports of the Spartans fighting in the Citadel. Trying to clean up the previous messes was bad enough, but at least those humans were very respectful of the law and did nothing to undermine it. And if they did, they at least spoke to the proper channels so everyone was aware of it.

That was something that he had to respect as he could tell that the Spartans had a respect for the way things worked on the Citadel and did their best to not cause too much trouble and were willing to listen to his constables when things of such a nature was needed. Compared to the drunk soldiers and arrogant ones he and his people dealt with, they were easier to respect and also work with on occasion.

For now there was no mention of them coming and after what had happened to them, many criminals and all the other scum hiding in the cracks knew better than to cause a ruckus when the Spartans were in the area. The video of the battle in Omega was very bloody and he had to personally admit that he and his staff were lucky not to have been there on Omega had the whole situation gone down. Not that he disapproved of the whole thing either, and at least the Spartans were on the side of law and order. He actually felt that they did the law abiding, the ACTUAL law abiding citizens of the galactic community a favor by thinning down the mercs on that Spirits forsaken rock.

Naturally he was not going to air those thoughts out as he had better things to do…one of them was dealing with Garrus. He liked the kid, just as dedicated as his father, high marks in everything, but was too hot headed and was a bit too quick to do some shooting than follow procedure. He understood to some degree what was chaffing Garrus' plates, but he knew that fighting the system, corrupt at times as it was, usually never ended well. Heck he at times hated the process himself and he had been here way longer than Garrus but he knew that he had to play the game. If the people could not trust the men and women of C-Sec to protect them within the bounds of the law, then they were nothing more than thugs with badges. And that was worse then being a criminal since they were supposed to stop the criminals.

If they became no different than the criminals, then what was the point of ever making C-Sec in the first place?

In C-Sec…

Garrus looked over the latest field report that he had to make and managed to grab some of the dextro-acid based coffee that he drank quickly to relieve the boredom and wake up his brain. He was all right with some of the lighter reports, but all of this really made him feel like he was slowly driving a large spike into his own brain…not a pleasant experience. In fact he almost wished that he had never joined C-Sec in the first place. Not that the organization was bad or anything in every sense of the word as it did have a purpose and mission, but the damned red tape always managed to make things harder than anything.

He had given up counting the number of times a high profile criminal managed to weasel his or her way out of the courts and also having lawyers and whatnot come to their aid. In some ways he felt that C-Sec had gotten so stuck on politics and playing mediator that they forgot that they were cops. But this was also balanced by the fact that he had seen his father perform impressive arrests and more while working well within the system. Back then when he was young he always wanted to be in C-Sec like his dad, but now that he was in it and really deep in it, he began to wonder just how his dad ever got things done.

The philosophy he was taught be his old man 'Do things right, or don't do it at all' sounded good and he had proven in t before, but Garrus had admitted that he was a rebel compared to other Turians which was why he and his father were always at odds as he got higher up in the ranks. It was not that bad when he first started out, but as he climbed higher up the ranks to detective…it only got worse, and so was his dislike for the whole thing. He had no doubt Pallin was really reaching the end of his gizzards dealing with him, and while he was not above showing his discontent to the Executor, he did respect the man for having the patience to deal with all of this.

Had it not been for his own record and the fact that he had been a skilled officer, he had no doubt Pallin would have kicked him out personally, personal favor and trust in his father be damned. Still, he hoped that one day there would be a chance for him to finally be able to operate without rules and regulations to see what was it like on the other side of the line when it came to fighting the bad guys as it were. Hopefully it would be less draining on him that being on his desk all day.

In the Turian Councilor's chambers…

Valern was busy reading the latest reports pertaining to the development of the new line of Turian ships that would be incorporating the new coolant that had been handed to them by the Spartans. Many Turian scientists were quite interested in the technology and had to admit that the potential uses of this technology on their fleets would be very high. The other technologies offered were just as promising and the data brought in by Jai, the former Cabal officer in his time with the Spartans were just as promising for the Hierarchy many times over.

Valern had served the Hierarchy for a number of years as an enlisted Turian teen and soon rose to being an officer before he turned his hand to politics. Most Turians called politicians like him bare faced, which was naturally an insult targeting the being in question as not to be trusted though he obviously wore his colonial markings on his face proudly. And he found being called that ironic since before he ever joined the Council he also disliked politics and politicians and now here he was. He had a feeling that despite not interceding in nature, the Spirits his people believed in had a sense of humor, with him as the pawn.

He had served the Hierarchy well in his days as an officer and now in politics, and while his soldier's mindset told him that mass accelerator slugs were more powerful than words, his time as Councilor told him otherwise. If spoken well, words can have as much weight as a team of Spectres, a Turian Legion, a Blackwatch strike team, or a fleet.

Despite his now changed view of politics, part of him still wished to be back in the field directing troops, leading assaults, planning ops, all of that. At least the enemies made sense to him unlike politics where one false sentence, one misspoken word would come back to choke you in the gizzards. Even more so as Councilor since he knew that despite his Turian pride, he represented his people and anything that could be used against him negatively could affect them as well.

But like other Turians, he was not very friendly with the Systems Alliance and he had his reasons for it, one of which was obviously the whole Relay 314 Incident. Another was the fact that the Humans were expanding too fast to his liking and the other Councilors were favoring them. Turian casualties were higher than the humans and that was one other reason for his dislike, as he was a proud member of the Turian people and to not be able to avenge those deaths was not a taste he liked in his gizzard. That was balanced however by the fact he had respect for what they had done on Shanxi, sure they had surrendered previously but had given his people a heck of a fight either way and their tactics were certainly innovative, and like most soldiers he too found innovation to be a respectable trait in their enemies.

The fact that his people were working with the Alliance on the Normandy was a sign that despite tense relations between them, at least there were signs of cooperation. He however was not going to let the Alliance have it easy, he wanted to see them prove themselves and he would test them at every turn to see how they would respond to the situation. It was not out of anger entirely, but of a desire to see how the humans would handle the task of being in the Citadel. The needs of the Citadel were pretty high and with radical elements in all government, keeping everyone to sing the same song on the same music sheet was a dance he disliked in private.

His take on the Spartans and their parent organization however was different from what he would have with the Alliance. He recalled just how the Spartans first came with the Chief and his A.I companion in tow, to say that meeting the armored man was surprising was no doubt an understatement. Add to that the data that they had been given access to made him all the more interested in what they could learn. As a soldier first and foremost, he was interested deeply in the idea of developing infantry portable energy weapons, Slipspace technology, power armor, everything that there was to know about them, even their method of creating A.I was interesting to him. There was no way that he personally would condone or sponsor their way of creating A.I, but he had to accept the fact that they were very impressive and their contributions to their creators were not to be ignored.

For an organization not native to this universe, the UNSC had a huge amount of achievements that earned his respect both as a soldier and as a leader of his people. To become a space fairing civilization without the use of Mass Relays and E-zero, to colonize worlds at such numbers, and the command such fleets and soldiers, even with such difficulties was an impressive achievement that he would have to blind, deaf, and dumb not to respect. And also their military tactics were interesting indeed, there were some similarities to that of the Alliance in certain areas but the rest of their tactics, and strategies were very innovative and also unique. The deployment of these ODSTs or Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as they were called was something that actually made him drop his jaw somewhat.

The use of such technology was not entirely alien as Turian military strategists HAD at some point in time considered creating a force of Turians who were hand picked for rapid orbital assaults on enemy strongholds to set up a drop zone for incoming forces as well as other operations that were high risk high reward. But the idea had been considered too costly and impractical since there was not enough technology for such a venture and it would be wasteful since the vehicles would essentially be no longer of any use once the soldiers deployed were on the ground. The casualties that were incurred also happened to be another reason for the ending of the project. However seeing the videos and records Jai had brought back and the former Cabal member's own experiences convinced him that such technology was not impossible.

Seeing how rapidly units could be deployed under cover of an asteroid shower, as well as the shock and awe effect of seeing the pods drop, and the speed of the tactical deployment made him and the others in the Hierarchy rethink the stance. If they could deploy a well armed and equipped strike team down before their main forces, they could do a heck of a lot more and possibly thin down their losses to some extent in ground operations.

The Holy Grail or one of the two Holy Grails as it were for him and the Hierarchy was Slipspace itself as the Turian Hierarchy were literally drooling at the applications of Slipspace. Despite not being a naval officer, Valern could easily imagine the devastating advantages and disadvantages this could bring into the fight and he had no doubt that his fellow Councilors knew it too. Namely Tevos as she had been a former Asari Huntress before becoming a Matriarch and then becoming the Asari Councilor, and also Mesu who had actually served in the Salarian STG for a time before retiring and eventually becoming Councilor.

Even a handful of warships armed with Slipspace engines could cause all forms of havoc, as they did not need to use Mass Relays of both types which always made a signal for objects coming in via the other side. Current naval strategy for the Citadel, Alliance, and even the Terminus Systems in defense is to have large fleets, stations, and even mines around Prime Relays that connected systems to counter invasions. Secondary relays would then be guarded by patrol fleets to counter smaller threats.

To have ships that could bypass the need for Relays could allow you to appear deep in enemy territory and cause massive damage to their communications, supply lines, colonies, and more before they can even fight back, it was the proverbial wet dream for naval operations officers. The ability to even maneuver ships on the fly in battle was deadly and yet another reason that having such ships with technology was a game changer as humans would say it.

That was why he and the Hierarchy were doing their best to keep on good terms with the UNSC; they wanted to have access to the technology itself for what their people needed and possibly make their own versions of this Slipspace. And to make sure that no one dangerous got this technology. This included radical elements in their own civilization, from the other Council races, the Alliance, and of course the Terminus System forces. If the races in the Terminus Systems got their hands on the blueprints and the science of Slipspace, then it would render Citadel patrol fleets virtually useless as they would have no means in which to counter such lightning assaults.

And of course, the other Holy Grail to the Hierarchy was the UNSC's MAC guns. The massive weapons were a source of interest and concern in equal measure. To have a weapon system that could give even a Frigate the firepower of a Dreadnaught was a dream come true and a horrid nightmare come true in one in the Turian\s mind. And of course the types of MAC Guns could make them weapons that could truly be feared. Most Mass Accelerators fired what could be called light slugs by the UNSC, relying only on them shattering or squashing to do damage. But the MACs of the UNSC fired 600 metric ton slugs, unleashing so much kinetic impact that they hardly needed to do either to inflict horrific damage. And learning of the Super MAC…well Valern was pleased to know that such a weapon was limited only for defensive work as he shuddered at the thought of such a weapon on a ship. But as a defense for planets, well it was definitely worth investing in if it allowed their fleets to outshoot the enemy.

He recalled the brutality of the Krogan Rebellions through the records and even though he never fought in it, he knew how much his people had lost against the Krogan in that time. After all, the Krogan were not above using WMDs to attack their cities, and using Asteroids as Kinetic Strike Vehicles only added to the mess. Had they been able to have some form of planetary support grid in those dark days, namely long range guns that could shoot and soften or outright destroy incoming threats then, it would have saved countless Turian lives.

And the Spartans themselves were to be feared as well. The abilities already shown by both men were deadly as he too had seen the records pertaining to the battle in Omega and to see two men devastate a literal Legion of troops of various races and organizations and walk away from it all was chilling. He could easily see why the Covenant had such fear of them and gave the Spartans the name Demons or Devils.

Had such soldiers existed in the Alliance prior to the encounter on Shanxi, it would have turned things around between them and the Humans of the Alliance.

The fact that such advancements along with the Spartan II Program were made during the war they had with rebels among their own species further cemented his respect for them. This was similar to the events of the Reunification War so many years ago before they made contact with the Asari and the Salarians. But was naturally at a higher scale than before and as such, had been in a situation that naturally required desperate measures.

Apart from this, he took interest in the UNSC Covenant War, unlike the conflict that his people took part in with the Krogan and the Relay 314 Incident; the Humans of the UNSC were not the ones to start the conflict but had been attacked first by the Covenant. The assault on Harvest was by far the worst thing he had seen in his time as the idea of blasting a world to the point it was a lifeless ball of glass and oceans of fire was appalling. He knew of course of the Krogan's liberal use of WMDs on his own people, along with the use of asteroids to boot and while he was not present in that time frame, he had seen the devastation himself later in his career when his DIs took them to some of the battle sites left untouched to remind cadets like him why they were to be the best. But they had no access to the Covenant arsenal and the Krogan , despite their ability to breed prior to the use of the Genophage were only one race thus far while the Covenant were seven races united by their beliefs and their beliefs marked Humanity as the enemy.

While he and many Turians were unhappy by the events of Shanxi, he did accept the result of it which was the induction of the Alliance into the community, but the Covenant Leaders wanted to exterminate Humanity down to the last child, and they were horrifically effective at what they intended to do. In a sense it made him think of them as being similar to the Council but instead of finding a peaceful solution, chose to annihilate the Alliance instead. And while some of his people who no doubt with grudges against humans would have wanted that in their case with the Alliance, he was not one of them. The images of civilians being hunted down and slaughtered regardless of gender or age, or being eaten by the more savage members of the Covenant filled the Turian with disgust.

The Hierarchy would never condone such behavior like that in their ranks, they strove to be soldiers, not butchers and killers and while he would be foolish to think that the same sentiment was in all his people, he knew that others would not do it as the Covenant did. He knew of course that many see their military actions as being like bullies but that was not how the military of his people as a whole acted. Their objective had always been to beat the military of their enemy to the point that armed resistance would no longer be seen as a viable choice and surrender was more acceptable and being a client race was acceptable. That was one more point many contended as they viewed an act like that as nothing more than glorified slavery, but it was more complex than that.

The Volus were a client race but they accepted it as they were not physically capable in battle and the Turians knew their fiscal expertise was vital for their own economy. That was also balanced by the powerful Bomber fleets that they had and the fact that their fiscal expertise made them very rich and could afford to buy massive amounts of ordnance and also hire large numbers of mercenaries, mercenary armies were not the most reliable, but they were deadly all the same. And there were the facts that their fabrication technology was very useful, and could churn out mass amounts of needed war materials and assets on the fly. They also happen to have members of their race that had remarkable Biotic potential, not at the level of the Asari or other races, but for a race like the Volus, that was an impressive feat.

They too had other client races which were either brought in by diplomacy or by military action. But overall, the Turians strove to only focus on defeating the military and unconventional forces of their foes and avoid killing non combatants as it would stain their honor as soldiers. Valern knew that it was not always the case, but any Turian caught doing that in the military was to be court-martialed for it. There were incidents of Turians escaping from it of course, he was not naïve to that, and there were times that ruthlessness was needed, but not to that point.

But the Covenant did not care and countless people died and so many worlds burned were the results of such callous and brutal disregard for humanity. They hunted humans down and slaughtered them wherever they could be found and burned their worlds in plasma fire. By all rights the Covenant had committed such crimes that he felt that even the most hardened Turian veterans would have been disgusted by it. Yet despite such loses, the UNSC resisted and eventually despite everything, they won and survived. That was in Valern's mind an achievement that was truly worthy of his respect.

As he placed down the images, he thought of the changes the Spartans had undoubtedly begun even if they were not aware of it. Only time would tell if these changes would be of benefit to the galaxy. Valern could not help but think that an old human saying he heard in passing was actually very suitable to his train of thought.

"May you live in interesting times, fitting indeed."

In the Asari Councilor's Chambers…

Tevos placed down the data pad that she got from Selena highlighting her report on the time she had spent with the Spartans. The Matriarch was a patient woman as all Asari were due to their long life spans and she knew that their decision to have the Spartans remain neutral was for the good of all. Tevos felt that at least with them being neutral, there would be some measure of balance on who wanted to gain access to their technology and information. And that was something that she strived for a great deal since she was very aware of the power that the UNSC held.

The UNSC by all rights was the SMALLEST entity in the galactic community, with only three members of their number. But they happened to possess some of the most bleeding edge technology and firepower that anyone had ever seen. There was no denying that the Spartans were a powerful pair and their combat abilities were not to be underestimated. They may not possess any form of control over Biotics or natural Biotics but their technology, experience, augmentations, and more made them more than deadly in their own right, a fact reinforced by the devastating battle they waged against the mercenary forces of Omega and how they had walked away from the whole debacle.

Their technology was filled with many possibilities and she knew that every Asari scientist was eager to get their hands on even scraps of the technology. She was not as scientifically inclined as they were, but even she could see the value of the technology that they had on hand and no doubt were developing and improving. The fact that despite their war like attributes the UNSC still sought peace before conflict was something that she respected as well since peace was acceptable in many ways. Their military technology was not as advanced in some areas such as the use of conventional ballistic weapons, but their use of MAC Guns, Railguns, and Lasers showed that they were an innovative bunch and innovation was sometimes hard to find even among her people.

Their A.I technology was troubling to some extent, but from what Selena had learned, the UNSC took great pains to give security measures and protection when it concerned A.I usage, no doubt an inherent product of three hundred years of usage that did not have negative results for them with A.I units. And the fact that their showed extensive loyalty to them was interesting to say the very least as well as their creativity and flexibility as they could think as humans said it 'outside the box'. Such things were impressive to Tevos personally and both A.I classes, Smart and Dumb could be quite helpful in many ways.

But she also kept in mind the problems of Rampancy, an obviously unavoidable threat to A.I stability and integrity as even Cortana admitted to such things more than once though it was only limited to Smart A.I due to their unique method of being created. However, she also felt that it could be overcome in its own way, food for thought later. She personally would not condone A.I development with this data to go on as no one had done this before, but the method of making an A.I by the standards of the UNSC could be worth investing into as well as developing viable counter measures if it came to that.

Slipspace was yet another aspect of technology owned by the UNSC that greatly interested her and her people for obvious reasons. Like Valern she as a member of the military in the past saw the advantages and disadvantages of such technology. And right now the advantages weighed heavily. The ability to not rely on Mass Relays was an immense aid since it allowed for much wider exploration of the various systems and could open new areas for industrial work, military construction, colonization and more. This was enough to make her realize just HOW the UNSC, while lacking E-zero and the Relays held enough worlds to make even her people look like beggars and children playing in the proverbial sandbox.

If there was a way to develop a working Asari built Slipspace Drive, the implications would be enormous in many ways than most. They would be able to expand the number of colonies they would be able to use to have a much larger infrastructure, more living space, better access to resources that were usually untapped, new planets to use as industrial sites and more besides. The Councilor knew that such measures were currently being discussed in the Council of Matriarchs back on Thessia and while some were supportive of the concept, others were not so easily convinced and were naturally against such measures. Still even they had to admit that the idea of the Asari being able to become less dependent on the Relays was a tempting idea.

Other technologies that were of interest to Tevos as she began to recount what she was now aware of thanks to Selene's efforts in serving as Asari liaison officer to the Spartans since it was she who got the data which was now before her. And the Asari Spectre was very much enjoying her work with the Spartans due to her father being human as well as always being an open minded Asari.


Their usage of medical technology was also useful, namely the use of the Sterile Field Generator that allowed for a one hundred percent clean surgery environment as well the portable version of said device. Such use of radiation was very interesting and could mean the difference in the long run for the people it would need to take care of. There were indeed very advanced decontamination systems in hospitals and ships but none of them used radiation to do such a thorough job. Having tech like that for ships and stations as well as portable ones for on site battle field surgery would extend patient recovery and treatment considerably.

Other technology in terms of medical science for the UNSC had plenty of viable applications here as well as their theories. Already some scientists were thinking on using some of the older UNSC tech in ways that would have been seen as different but promising at the same time. Not as effective as Medi-gel, but still usable in many ways and thus worthy of use as well as research.

As for weapons and armor technology, one only needed to view the images from Omega to see how lethal the weapons they had were. Even though she was personally disturbed by the sight of a number of Asari slain by the Spartans, she tempered that feeling of disgust and read by reminding herself that a vast majority of the slain Asari if not all of them were all convicted murderers, drug traffickers, slavers, gun runners, smugglers, rapists and more, basically Asari with very extensive criminal rap sheets. The fact that the Spartans killed such people was not that painful a thing when one took those details deeply into account. The technology of the MAC Gun was also something of great interest, while the principle between their Mass Accelerator and that of the MAC were still very much the same, the sheer mass and kinetic power these MAC Guns could unleash was impressive as those blasts could easily shatter Kinetic barriers by sheer force and not by speed alone. And the fact that they relied on tech that did not use Mass Effect technology and E-zero was also a bonus in terms of resources and costs since E-zero mining was risky both in terms of expense and security.

The technology in terms of planetary defense used by the UNSC also became of great promise to those who were of the military mindset, including herself, namely the Super MACs that Selena had mentioned.

While the idea of using static defenses were frowned upon by conventional Asari military officers and pundits since it went against the Asari combat doctrine, there were exceptions. They stated that while their current combat strategy was effective, they pointed out how difficult it had been for their people when it came to fighting the Rachni, and eventually the Krogan and how many colonies and people they lost in those wars. Their doctrines were founded on speed flexibility, guerilla strikes, assassination, sabotage, never all out wars of attrition. And they knew how badly their suffered in that kind of wars during the Krogan Rebellions and how many lost their lives.

The Asari had indeed improved since then but so far there had to be some way to defend their colonies if their fleets could not make it in time. There were those who said that the sheer expense would have been cost prohibitive to attempt, after all the Asari were nearly bankrupt when they made the Destiny Ascension so why should they develop expensive static defenses like these Super MACs and their attached stations the ODPs. However, others as before saw it differently, stating that the technology to defend their worlds would boost morale and at least buy time for either evacuation of civilians or holding out for reinforcements. Besides since they utilize working technology that mirrors Mass Accelerators but without the use of E-zero meaning they were actually LESS expensive than Mass Accelerators was a good argument.

The Council of Matriarchs in Thessia were already deep in discussion over this and thus all she could do was wait and see what their decision would be. But in truth she was privately in favor of the technology if it meant that their worlds could at least hold out and fight back. She had served in the Council for a long time, longer than Valern and Mesu and had been there in her years as a Commando/Huntress when the Rachni Wars started having been more national minded as a Maiden and willingly fought as a Commando in the Rachni War nearing the end and eventually fought with the Krogan and eventually against them when the Krogan Rebellions began. And she therefore had seen the devastation first hand and why she was keen to find some way to defend Asari worlds from any attackers.

The technology used by them in the field of war would have made quite the prize and already she had no doubt that corporations would be using all legitimate and illegitimate means to either acquire samples of the technology, they might even try to locate the world held by the Spartans to try and get to the tech if they cannot buy the tech off the Spartans.

She disliked that idea immensely since allowing it to happen was in some ways matched the humans' old term of myth, opening 'Pandora's Box'. She understood the myth and respected that message well and besides, she and the others as well as the observers in both the Alliance and the Citadel have decided that the Spartans are to be left alone and be treated as allies instead of a resource to be used. They also have made an effort to avoid being involved with galactic affairs that did not involve them directly and if they came to the Citadel, they were very professional and focused on their duties. That kind of neutrality was respectable in her view since they know full well that they needed to be alive to go home and getting into the politics of a totally…alien reality was not wise.

All she could do now was oversee the matters that will come to her and ensure that things will move well for the coming years.

In the Salarian Councilor's room…

Mesu ran through the numbers and data that had been provided by Selena and like his compatriots, he was deep in thought pertaining to the technology of the UNSC. The former STG officer was not a full politician and thus was not used to some of the things done in the Council even though by his races standards he was the most experienced at this time frame. And naturally he was focusing on the various applications and implications of the technology for both civilian and military, namely in the front of his old organization.

Many of the STG expressed levels of interest in the technology and while their economy was not as vast as that of the Asari, nor as flexible as that of the Humans, it was also gaining improvements due to the shift from the various forms to the universal coolant used by the UNSC. This had been a major boon to their small economy and this had begun to free up a number of credits that could be redirected to military research and development. In some ways the Spartans being neutral had given far greater options and avenues that the Dalatrass of the Union could explore which back then would have been pipe dreams.

Mesu himself, having been former STG was able to see the implications for his people now that their economy had a slowly growing surplus of credits and which could be used for more advanced research. The Salarians prided themselves in being able to develop the most advanced technology in the community along with their skills in intelligence gathering. Now however they were being tested by the UNSC, though not in a hostile fashion as the new technological advances brought by the UNSC when the Spartans and their A.I companion.

The videos of the battle in Omega had been studied extensively by the STG as well as the data they gained from their observers with the Spartans. All of which was ate up like candy as humans would say it and for good reason. The idea of infantry portable energy weapons was something that the STG had worked on extensively in the past but had been seen as a dead end and thus funding was scrapped, along with the cost of such projects along with the personnel.

But now…the proof that such technology is possible was there, and with the increase in economic strength and also access to more viable research options, there was talk of the revival of the programs along with utilizing what the Union had already developed as a stepping stone to see if such weapons could indeed be made possible for Infantry and potentially up-scaled for vehicles and ship usage.

They also began to think on the possibility of figuring out how to use their own variants of the augmentations that made the Spartans such formidable fighters. Granted they had no plans to break the laws on Genetics that was signed by them alongside the Asari when they became the Citadel, but no sense at least having some understanding on the matter.

One of the other factors that had taken a grip on the scientific interest of his people was the use of Slipspace…the idea of an alternate form of interstellar travel that did not rely on the Relays would indeed be an interesting avenue of research and development since it would mean that their forces would now be able to move around without tripping a Relay of any type which was a major advantage, and while many ships had FTL, it was not designed for long range travel and thus was rendered impractical when the Relays came to be found and utilized.

But with Slipspace…it was different. The exact details and specifics were still hard to fathom as no on had ever heard of Slipspace until now, but it's unique natures and attributes would indeed be worth looking into. The fact that it could allow for travel at anywhere in the galaxy when the right coordinates are punched in would make defensive and offensive strategies favored by the Navies of all factions in the galaxy fluid and changing. Part of him did not like the implications of this in terms of being able to defend their territories but it also meant that they could have far wider options in how to fight back or to set up in locations that would be out of reach. Also allowing them access to resources that would have usually been hard to reach or expensive to get to. Thus Slipspace was indeed of great scientific interest to them and no doubt to all the major players in the galaxy as a whole.

The chance to even potentially weaponize Slipspace was also being explored by the members of the STG and also by their scientists since such a thing would be quite an edge in combat. They were not going to leap in though as Slipspace was still unknown and after their own experiences, they were not going to leap in blind, along with their own mindset.

The STG also expressed interest in the MAC Gun technology even though they had no access to the schematics. They already guessed it worked on the very same principle as their Mass Accelerators but was not reliant of Mass Effect technology or _E-zero itself. They had seen the weapon in action before and while not as…refined or having the firing speed, was a monstrous weapon that could easily rend through most targets and if properly used was a deadly weapon in both ship form and station form. They had gotten data on the Super MAC and it was impressive if not mobile since it could be a major deterrent to most attacking fleets since it had better range than a Dreadnought even without the mobility.

And the fact it's power was like having at least half of a hundred Dreadnaughts firing at once was a very intimidating thought and being able to destroy ships with one shot while doing the same thing to the next ship foolish enough to be in line of the firing line of the gun. They also could actually make smaller but less static ones on defense platforms in conjunction with GARDIAN Defenses.

Mesu had no doubt that right now the rest of his brethren who were scientists were salivating at the possibilities this could unleash in the coming future. But for now they would take their time and make the best of what they had and learn from the experiences. there would not be a discussion about the data in the Union for some time as they have yet to get the data from their observers among the Spartans, but they too have decided that it would be in their best interests not to trample on the willingness of the super soldiers.

In a hidden location…

The Illusive Man, or rather Jack Harper, leader of Cerberus looked at the incoming reports from his agents in both the Alliance and the Citadel who provided him with data. It had not been easy getting agents in play in both organizations, but it would be worth it, despite the increased security scrutiny being played all over the Citadel and in Arcturus Station. So far the data was promising and also a bit troubling.

Promising in the sense that now Humanity was exploring avenues and resurrecting old ideas that long ago had been shelved due to expense and cost in the old days. The reports he had gained from his agents in the Alliance was quite promising and he saw that many were now thinking of expanding the Alliance further into having a fully dedicated ground force on colonies to defend them from attacks, along with using older tech that was still the same in principle with Mass Accelerators.

Troubling since he had no doubt that the Citadel races and others would soon be exploring that same path as the Alliance was right now. He knew from his personal experience that there was always the risk of radical elements procuring the technology and using it on Humanity. The Citadel may do it's best but like all things, there would be shadows and dangers there and the same could be said for the Alliance itself, which while understandable to a certain extent, was something he did not trust easily.

One thing was undeniably clear to him though…

Things have changed, for better or worse…and it was his hope that with these changes, Humanity could prove that it could indeed make it's mark in the galaxy without being too reliant on the rest of the community. He also looked at the draft of his new manifesto carefully, he liked the changes and decided to make some new additions and remove some draft parts. But all in all, he had to give the Spartans credit where credit was due.

They were indeed a powerful symbol for Humanity to rally to, and their war records spoke volumes of their integrity and loyalty. They may not be part of this reality's Humanity, but they were human regardless. Their will to survive such a war as that between the UNSC and the Covenant and this…Flood was testament to Humanity's tenacity and will to endure, along with their innate skill at adaptation.

He thought back on history…human history.

Man long ago had to hide from the top predators of the land so long …they were not true hunters yet, they were scavengers and pickers of berries, following the predators, salvaging from their kills and surviving as best they can and also losing some of their own when they got too careless. They were the lowest in the natural food chain and had to carve a niche for themselves through blood, trial and error, loss, and pain. But from this, they learned how to use stone tools, then eventually fire, agriculture eventually followed.

And with that, villages rose, turning to towns, and then cities…

He recalled his conversation with Miranda and admitted that there was more to that conversation than merely lauding the UNSC and its struggles, and triumphs. It was thinking back on how things had been before when Humanity was just starting out in leaving their home system. They were doing well so far before the whole debacle with the Turians on Shanxi. The Alliance was not wrong per say, but they were always tied up by politics and he knew full well what the results were. Not to mention that most of their projects had more scrutiny on it than most because the Citadel would be watching.

To him, Humanity had gotten lazy with their growth and development, and naturally there would be elements of the Citadel Council races who would love nothing more than to…shove the proverbial leash in the ass of mankind. He was well aware of how one David Anderson was screwed over by that…Turian Saren when he became a Spectre candidate. He may not have a lot of faith in the man, but Anderson was good man in many ways and had promise. And all because of Saren, who carried an immense grudge against Humans because of his brother's death which in Jack's mind was entirely of his own doing, he had destroyed an chance of Anderson being a Spectre. And that was a disappointment since despite his dislike for them, having a Human Spectre would have gone a long way in improving Humanity's odds. But for now all he could do was wait and see just how things will progress…and make his move when the time came along with the chance to take things to a higher level.

Cerberus will be ready for what is to come.

On Thessia…

In the Council of Matriarchs Chambers…

"I do not see why we cannot attempt these feats and research, our economy is one of the largest in the galaxy and while we have indeed used up a large pool of resources and credits on the destiny Ascension, that was in the past."

One Matriarch spoke to her fellows, one Matriarch Mara'Linra and continued with her speech in the Council chambers of the Matriarchs.

"We have expanded our reach well and with the introduction of the tech that was gained from the Spartans, we now have been able to reduce costs in ship maintenance both to our navy and merchant fleets. That in turn has allowed us to finally build up a small yet growing pool of excess funds and also the old technology we used in both fleets can now be used for new purposes. I for one would like the make the move of supporting the initiative of researching the viability of us making our own race's variants of such technology. And also potentially look on the development and funding of a research program into exploring the viability of developing Slipspace engines and ships, along with the development of energy weapons for our soldiers and potentially our ships."

Another matriarch on the opposing view spoke.

"That may be the case, but we must not forget that most of the technology here has yet to determined to be worth the cost in funds, resources and labor. We may have the highest economy in comparison to the Turians, Salarian, and the Systems Alliance, but it is still vulnerable like any other economy. If this plan of research does not produce results, then all the funds, hours, and labor would be wasted."

"True…but it can be worth the risk and we being a long lived race can make the most of the time we have to reach the end of the projects that we are discussing. We must keep in mind what we learned of the UNSC prior to the war they had with the Covenant. They had spent a lot of their resources, funds, and manpower to develop the Slipspace engine to handle the issue of overpopulation in their version of Earth and their own system. Thus they developed it out of pure necessity and through it had established an empire that makes the worlds held by all of the races in the Citadel and that of the Alliance seem like little bits of sand."

"In our case, we cannot ignore the fact that while our colonies have thrived in recent months, we are still unable to expand and our colonies have not been able to expand as well due to the fact that no new Mass relays have been found. While we can build larger and higher complexes, there is only so much we can do before we reach the limits in the long run."

Another Asari matriarch spoke.

"That has some truth in it, but we cannot forget that the law forbidding the opening of Mass Relays is there for a reason, or rather two reasons. We must NOT replay the events of both the Rachni Wars and the Krogan Rebellions. And we must not forget the incident with the Yahg on their world. Th deaths of our own representatives by their hands should be enough to remind us on the dangers of going through Relays without making the right precautions,"

Another spoke as well, only she took the side of Mara.

"Then that is why we can focus on building our own understanding of Slipspace and eventually building something that can allow us to traverse there as well. This is possible because we have already seen evidence to show that it does exist here since the ship of the Spartans can move with it and thus we can be assured that we too can tap into it. I for one support Matriarch Mara in her view of this."

"You realize that would mean that we would have to spend far more capital than before…yes our economy is strong and we do have a fairly large navy and army despite our national lack of a defense force, but all that can change. Despite our longevity sisters, we are not infallible."

Mara spoke.

"And yet here we are…yes we have made mistakes but we have learned from them and we have taken risks before. Had it not been for our ancestors willingly going out into the stars, we would have never founded our colonies and that naturally means we would have never discovered the Citadel. They took that risk and it gave us a future…now as new members of the Council of Matriarchs, we must do so again. Yes it will cost us, yes it will take time, but I am assured that it can be done, we start small, and build from there."

The Asari debated the matter over a bit more until they agreed that they can at least place a small but strong fund line in their R&D on Slipspace and how to tap into it. Next they discussed the use of Static defenses on their worlds. And like before it was a fairly interesting discussion as there would be those who support it and those who would call it a waste of resources.

"This is something that we should not spend such resources on, we do have colony fleets after all."

"Yes, but we also must realize that a good portion of our fleets, per the Citadel Conventions require us to send them to serve with the Citadel Fleet. That in itself means that while we do our part, we can leave some of our fleets short handed and also we can only defend our core colonies, not the ones that are still part of Citadel space and bordering on the Terminus Systems."

"True but we can send our fleets there whenever they can send a message calling for help."

"Yes…but do not forget that in the time we can get the message and rally a fleet, the colonies have been ravaged many times by the elements of the Terminus. And our fleets are not going to matter much if the damage has been done. And our people killed or worse…I don't need to remind anyone here of how the Batarians savaged one of our colonies even when they were once part of the Citadel for their…cultural rights to own slaves. I was there to see this when I was serving in the Navy and I can tell you all without any fanfare that I WILL NOT let that happen again. I can also assure you that on very rare occasions we raided slaver bases, I have seen the horrors they inflicted on many races, including ours and the women of the humans as well."

"This also goes beyond merely the defense of our people as well…"

"How so?"

"Every colony that is attacked and not properly defended not only results in the loss of more lives but also begins to increase growing dissatisfaction and mistrust towards our Republic's and that of the Citadel's capacity to be able to properly defend our borders and our worlds. And while our economy is stable, that will not always be the case and each colony hit is a drain on our ability to repair and rebuild. In that regard, we could very well face the same problems facing the Alliance…you all no doubt know what I am speaking about."

The Asari nodded, they knew all too well what the problems of the Alliance…the defense of their colonies.

"Then if we are not careful, we can very well expect our people to one day face the same problem. We can improve our fleets with the new technology, but the ability to not only defend but reinforce our worlds is a priority we cannot put aside forever sisters. We must begin the planting of the seeds to ensure that we can indeed defend our people and our homes so in the future, our children will be able to live less in fear of those who seek to harm them. We have the ability to wait and plan…but it means nothing if we sit and do nothing."

The Matriarchs looked at one another to consider the ramifications of such a decision and what it could all entail in the future for their people and the galaxy in general. The Asari people were well respected in many fields, but they also had to consider how their own people viewed them as well. And they were going to make sure that they were indeed able to defend what was theirs.

The lead Matriarch looked at the others and also thought deeply on her own views and soon spoke.

"All points have been considered and while we are still undecided, Matriarch Mara speaks truthfully, we as the Council of Thessia must do what we can to defend our people and also show that we can be more than able to meet the many tasks before us. And we must use our lives and time well to make sure that we are able to ensure a better future for our daughters and our bondmates as well as ourselves. We shall vote on the establishment of the research and development of such measures as proposed, and whatever is the result of these ventures will be tested well."


On Reach…

Tali looked over all the latest data and could not help but be utterly pleased by what she could send to the Flotilla here and now. She was not on her Pilgrimage to be sure, but already she had her hands on technology and data that could easily make life for the Flotilla not only safer, healthier, and more comfortable, but beyond it. It had taken her some time to get used to being with the Spartans and their A.I partner, but in the short amount of time here, she had helped bring the beginnings of a new age to the Quarians.

Her own father once sent her a message and said that the data they gathered from the Sterile Field Generators, coupled with her own in depth research had allowed them to not only remove all the contaminants in their own ships, but also ensured that large numbers of new Quarian children would be born whole and safe. All the resources, time, and effort needed to prepare clean rooms was now cut in half, and he stated that she was now responsible for allowing nearly three hundred thousand Quarian children to be born alive and safe. He was proud of her and hoped that she would one day return to help their people more. But for now her place was with the Spartans and Reach and one day, he would be able to keep his promise to her and her mother that they would be able to build a home on Rannoch.

She could not help but smile at that underneath her mask and admit that the dream sounded a lot more likely, but she decided not to think too heavily on that aspect of her life. She still had far more things to accomplish.

She thought well on that and knew that even with all this, she still would go on a Pilgrimage to prove her worth to the rest of the people in the Fleet. This was her personal choice even though her time among the Spartans and Cortana had made her quite respected by her people as the Spartans held her and the others in her group in high regard. She was still a member of the Quarian people and she would respect the customs and culture of her race so she would go on her own Pilgrimage soon enough, though she also made sure never to reveal all she had learned and gained from her time among the Spartans and Cortana.

She then recalled that she would need to speak to Reegar and see just how her people were handling being with the Spartans ever since they came to Reach. The Quarian Marine officer had told her that he was quite pleased with working alongside the Spartans since the two were all right fellows and had none of the negative views of their people so he was all right with everything and he would keep his duties of watching over her and the rest of their contingent. Still he did mention that he wished once in a while to take a chance to test some of the new infantry weapons that the Spartans had been working on. But he reminded her that he had no intention to do so since he did not want to step on the generosity of the Spartans and that was that.

Tali also knew that sooner or later, things outside of their little place in Reach and in the galactic community will change. For better or worse she could not know, but she had to admit that she actually was looking forward to what can happen.

On Palaven…

A collection of Turians watched the videos once more, these videos actually were data given to their people's representative among the UNSC, former Cabal officer Jai. These included some of the information that could be considered none sensitive material by the Spartans and Cortana, along with the most recent videos taken by Jai when he worked with the Spartans.

And of course, among the videos was the battle in Omega. But one video garnered the interest of the Turians.

"Freeze Frames!"

This video was not that of the Spartans, but that of the UNSC's elite combat unit before the Spartans in the Marine Corps.

The videos showed none other than the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or as they were referred to as the ODSTs or the Helljumpers, and the videos spoke of their deployment methods and how they did their duties. The Turians looked on until one of them, more of the more 'traditional' Generals spoke to the others.

"May I ask why we are watching this?"

That was the moment that one of the Generals replied to his colleague's question.

"Because we are in the process of researching new methods for our forces to operate in various battle fields, and where areas that regular methods may prove expensive and risky. And as you can see, we might be able to find a potential answer in the records given to us by our people's current liaison to the UNSC."

"And who plans to explain this process?"

"I will."

All turned to look at the speaker, and they knew full well who he was.

General Adrien Victus was one of the Hierarchy's well known Generals and had done quite a great deal for his people. His tactics, strategies, and methods had won him more than his fair share of accolades and awards from his fellows and the Primarch of their world. He was well loved by those under his command, but it was those very same strategies, methods and tactics that also made him something of an anomaly among Turians. Not one Turian liked to do unorthodox methods and risky operations, at least conventionally minded Turians, and Adrien was anything but conventional in a Turian's point of view. More than once he had been considered something of a maverick and did not get as much pull from the Hierarchy due to the fact that he butted the conventional way of thinking.

However, he still was a high ranking officer and his input was essential to the whole process. And already he had reviewed the images over and over, in even more detail than most of his peers in the room. And now he had gathered all the facts he needed and would now present them to his colleagues, the civilian leadership, and the Primarch. Fedorin looked at Adrien and gave his consent.

"General Victus, you have your opinion on the videos of these ODSTs?"

"Yes Primarch, from what our people's observer in the UNSC group, former Cabal officer Jai stated in his reports, the ODSTs served the UNSC as their Marines' premier Special Forces units and have seen quite a number of battles. These battles ranged from battles against the previous enemy of the UNSC, the Insurrectionists to the alien theocracy known as the Covenant and the virulent parasite race called the Flood. They fulfill a special niche in the UNSC military as evidenced by their unique delivery method. Thus it is clear as to why they are called Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or ODSTs for short, another fitting name is Hell Jumpers."

"Hell Jumpers?"

Admiral Gartex, one of the female Turian officers and leader of their 4th Flotilla asked, curious at such a name.

"It is to do with their company motto, which is 'Feet First into Hell', an apt motto to live by as ODSTs are usually deployed directly into hotspots and behind enemy lines. The risks they undertake even before landing into the battle field are extreme, here is the list of the hazards faced by them in transit to the battle ground. Not to mention that they will have to rely solely on the supplies of their pods until they can be reinforced and resupplied."

Adrien showed them the data and needless to say the Turian military leader was quite surprised by this. Even he was a bit unnerved by the risks willingly undertaken by the Humans of the UNSC. After revealing the details there was now an increase of discussion and soon as it died down, one of his opponents, General Marrix spoke.

"While I do have to commend the bravery of these men and women, what exactly does this have to do with the Hierarchy?"

"One of the key problems we face in an operation is not how to get our teams into the ground, but how to make certain that the landing zones are truly clear and secured from possible ambushes, along with gathering intel covertly as well as establishing a forward beach head for incoming reinforcements, as well as certain operations such as orbital drops easier for ground forces. I have no doubt that we can accomplish planetary landings and secure areas with our current forces and Black Watch, but that is only if all resistance that could be gathered that can shoot down our shuttles are dealt with."

"Another issue is the retrieval of vital cargo, technology, and rescue of personnel or the disposal of targets of opportunity in hot-zones and contested areas of operations. We do have our own special forces units to be sure, but they like all our current forces still rely on ships to be transported into the battle field, ships that can be shot down either if our enemies have better tech than we do, or are more alert than most. That is not counting planetary hazards as well that can adversely affect operations in transit."

"Thus, I propose to use the data obtained concerning the UNSC's ODSTs to construct a combat division specially conditioned for orbital insertions to accomplish missions that are of vital nature for military operations prior to the use of conventional units."

The people in the meeting room listened to this and began to mull over it, but General Marrix was quick to get on the uptake and spoke once more.

"This sounds very similar to the ill fated experimental combat unit we developed for such a role, which if I recall correctly, you were part of Adrien, am I correct?"


"I see…the casualties in that program were staggering then which was why it was cancelled and scraped by the previous Hierarchy though I did hear that some preliminary testing had yielded FEW positive results. You were among those who actually went through that training and survived prior to being placed as a commanding officer as I recall."

"Yes I was."

Marrix gave a Turian version of a human sigh of exasperation and replied.

"We closed down that Program for a reason Victus."

Victus then replied.

"For which I am well aware of Marrix, but this has proven that such a concept is still viable with the right technology, planning and development. We have already seen a decrease in our annual military costs as well as increase in trade with the coolant we were provided by the Spartans. This has already begun to free up credits and resources for use to use to develop our own technology. And we can use the coolant for other worthwhile projects since it is now being seen as universally compatible with both civilian and military ships. The technology that it replaces can now be used for other applications and we have the resources to do just that. The Texture Buffers and Photo-reactive Panels have also begun to show great promise in applications."

Marrix said nothing but the expression the Turian had was deep in thought. However another Turian, this time he was head of one of their RnD branches on Bostra.

"Why don't we find a way to make soldiers like the Spartans then? They have shown exceptional combat abilities that only a fool can say no to."

That got the attention of many who felt that it would be a possibly more beneficial venture, though some were none too keen on the idea.

Victus shook his head at that and replied.

"While that is a viable option we have to keep in mind that doing so will also break several of our own laws regarding genetic engineering as well as our agreements with the Citadel and also we have no idea how their own augmentations work. Plus even if I do not know all the specifics I can assume that we cannot merely select anyone from our armed forces regardless of their combat skills, experience or Biotic abilities. Only the finest and the best can be possible and they have to be genetically superior to every other Turian out there, that much I have been able to piece together from what I can understand of the program that made the Spartans."

"That in itself means that we will have to conduct a highly extensive survey on every member of the Hierarchy citizenry to find those who stand head and shoulders, even talons above the rest of our people. And even then we still need to make sure that we have enough technological data to create augmentations that can come close to the results that the Spartans themselves accomplished and make them safe for our candidates. And we have no idea on what are the results if it goes wrong. The possibility is we cripple our candidates to the point we would have the euthanize them, or they die on the operating table."

That made the other Turians quiet in the room, even the civilian leaders of their other non military sectors admitted that if looked in that context it would be a high risk situation through and through. Adrien then spoke once he was assured that the rest of his fellows and the Primarch were listening .

"I am not saying that it is not possible…merely extremely costly and not merely in terms of credits, tech, and resources but lives as well, we are attempting to try and make our own version of a super soldier program from one that we have no idea about, and you can imagine the high level of issues this would raise with our allies. Thus while tempting at this time, it is far too high risk and filled with too many unknowns that can be solved quickly. Thus…this program I have proposed is in hindsight far more acceptable…we have already experience in this field and we now have far greater access to resources, technology, and know how. Sometimes it is far better to rely on something battle tested and reliable than something exotic but unpredictable…and coming from someone of my reputation, that speaks volumes."

He then turned to Fedorian.

"Primarch, I am well aware of the risks involved with the reactivation of the program, but with the new advancements we have made, and the data we have can make this a lot more effective. The new coolant formula and the tech we have gained from the trade agreements with the Spartans have given us more advantages than ever before, and I feel that if we do not at least make the move to expand our race's tactical and strategic options, then if we ever encounter an enemy we have never faced before, then we will weaken ourselves."

Adrien faced his fellow Turians and spoke seriously.

"The galaxy is a vast place…filled with mysteries and more besides, some are good and some are obviously not. I know I was not present during the time of the beginning of the Krogan Rebellions, but that alone should be a warning that we cannot be complacent. And we all know the Rachni Wars and the impact it had on the galactic community we all are now part of. I stand with the idea that we must have options, and ensure that if there is truly a new foe to fight, we have options to call on that can turn the tide. Menae was our last stand in the Rebellions and we saw the gravestones of so many of our fellow Turians soon after, let us not make that mistake again."

The Turians who listened, were taking the time to digest the words along with the meaning that Adrien had given to them. They each admitted privately that they had to prepare for anything. Their personal thoughts on the matter not withstanding as they are officers of the Hierarchy and they are honor and oath bound to do what they must to defend their people and planets.

The Primarch nodded and spoke to the assembled military heads.

"I have agreed that this proposal is with merit, but it must be done under extensive security, with proper records and safety protocols. If this proposed program is able to make tangible results in the coming time frame, then it will receive full funding and support from the Hierarchy as well as the Citadel once I give the proposal to the Councilor. As of this moment, I will name this Project…Project Firehawk, and the head of this program is none other than General Adrien Victus."

Adrien nodded as Fedorian spoke once more.

"Now we will need to consider what we can do concerning the data on orbital defense structures for core colony worlds as well as Palaven, then move on the viability of developing Infantry and ship grade Directed Energy Weapons as well as developing a version of the MAC Gun, shall we begin?"

They all nodded and soon the discussion began again.

On Earth…

The Alliance Security Committee watched the videos of the battles the Spartans had taken part in, namely on Omega once more for a review done by those present in the previous viewing for those who missed on it since only half were present at the time they had been played. They had seen it before to be sure, but some things at times did bear repeating, even more so if it helped give them an overall idea on just how capable the Spartans and their technology were in combat, namely their infantry portable weapons and tech. And so far none of them were the least bit disappointed as they looked at the data. Once the videos ended they began to speak to themselves and others. Hackett himself was among them and he was the most vocal supporter of what they had learned could be done to improve the Alliance.

Of course there were naysayers to be sure…it seemed like the saying about opinions was true, though in this case the modified version was best suited.

'Critics are like assholes…they are everywhere.'

"Why the devil do we need to research this?"

Another military officer, one General Vincent Mallory turned to the official and replied.

"Because it has just been proven to be possible? You have any idea how MANY people in the galaxy have ever SEEN practical energy weapons for infantry?"

"Surely we don't need to go that far, the sheer cost alone is too expensive! Our current military technology is more than enough to handle the threats we have to face."

"That's true, but I'd rather have a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it. There's no telling if and when others who saw those videos are going to try to develop their own versions of those weapons. You think that the Turians, Asari, and Salarians aren't going to be in on the act after seeing all this?"

The others who were advocating the numerous things that Anderson himself knew about nodded in agreement as the technology was viable indeed. That did not mean the nay sayers were going to let the issue slide though as they argued that developing such technology would take years, cost more resources than the Alliance had, and they would spend more money. Hackett then spoke seriously to the people before him.

"Expense may not be an issue for much longer gentlemen, the new coolant has reduced our Navy's maintenance costs slowly but surely. The results have already shown promise as the ships which have been overhauled are showing an increased performance rate across the board and even when we run those ships ragged, they are operating as if they have just been released from the shipyards. That frees up portions of our Naval budget that we can indeed dedicate to research and development of new technology as well as for the improvement of the technologies that we shelved ever since we found the Prothean ruins on Mars."

Vince replied.

"I'm in agreement with Admiral Hackett, if our ships can last much longer in non-combat and combat situations then we should at the very least improve our technology to make sure those credits are not going to waste, we can even increase ship production to now have more than enough fleet defense units on our colonies without compromising our signing of the Treaty. And the fact that we can increase our recruitment numbers and equip them more also bolsters the Marine Corps which while effective as they are to a certain extent still have limitations. Plus having an Army focusing on planetary garrison duty can be quite an edge in the long run since we can ensure better security for the colonies. Not to mention increase our reputation in our own race. For crying out loud, we have to avoid repeats of Shanxi now more than ever, Sun Tzu's maxim is all well and good, but we have to keep in mind that it was meant for warfare on the ground not in deep space where everything is different."

"Plus those ODPs are very promising, I doubt even the most rabid pirate and slaver group would like to be in the firing line of a massive gun like the ones used by the UNSC. And we can scale down to smaller but no less lethal platforms as well."

One critic who handled some areas of finance spoke out her discontent.

"Do you have any idea how expensive that sounds? The sheer amount of resources we have to pool into something of that magnitude is a full waste."

Another critic also spoke next.

"And besides that, the sheer amount of E-zero we need to make that thing is more than enough to make nearly two fleets worth of cruisers and double a fleet of frigates. All of which can be more useful than a single station that can't even go anywhere, and power a weapon that we can't even mount on a ship."

The other critics nodded in agreement until another Admiral, one Xavier Godfrey replied.

"Who said anything about using Mass Accelerator technology or E-zero for that matter? The Railgun and Gauss gun tech we have is worth using for that. None of them need E-zero to work and while they have a reduced firing rate, the sheer power they can unleash is more than enough to make up for it, even more so in conjunction with our fleets. And we have been able to develop well enough to make Mass Accelerator technology more common place, why not do the same here with Railguns and Gauss technology? Don't forget that the UNSC did not have the use of E-zero yet they managed to make these ODPs anyway. And in all their major battles, even if the Covenant were high on the advantage scale, they still made a hell of a hit."

"And I can tell you this much…if we have those on our most important colonies and most certainly here at Earth…only the most insane would want to be in front of THAT gun. Besides, the fact that we can mine asteroids to get said resources would solve that issue well enough. The asteroid belt around OUR system can be the basis for our materials acquisition to start with."

"Asteroid mining?"

"Why the hell not? We did it before when we managed to get a number of asteroids to provide us with enough materials to finally build the ships we needed to reach the Charon Relay after all. It's high time we do so again so we can be able to properly defend our home system and eventually our colonies. We have new technology that helps us from the Spartans and the UNSC so I say we use the time we have to improve our forces and develop new things…who knows what will happen in the future and I for one don't plan on getting caught with my pants down and my gun on the other side of the room. Do you?!"

That made the discussion all the more interesting in the eyes and ears of those who were around. Both supportive and undermining parties of the proposed plans moved back and forth though it was clear that there was some progress thus far. Hackett had to admit seeing this lively discussion was a very interesting turn of events.

Sure it was still going to be a while and it was going to be something that can go either way, along with the scope of money and resources involved, but if one thought about it, their Prothean Archives on Mars shot them into the stars two hundred years in advance. If they could make it with the tech they knew of and understood, then they could do more and possibly change the fate of Humanity here.

It was when they got to the idea of expanding the N7 Program to now include the development of their own variant of the ODSTs that things got interesting.

In the Migrant Fleet…

Koris could not help but comment on the latest data coming in from one of their Live ships that had begun to use the Sterile Field Generators to ensure that nothing could contaminate their crops for the current growing season.

"The Rayya has reported that the produce coming from them shows absolutely no signs of bacterial contamination. And this is balanced by the reports that so far, none of our people who have tested the previous batches of food produced have suffered any negative symptoms. In fact the food has been considered the healthiest batch produced thus far."

Raan nodded at that.

"That is good to hear, we can now be assured that from this moment on, our people can be promised that none of them will easily be sickened by what we grow here. Not much in the eyes of others, but a major win for us all. We also have heard that ten new successful births have happened this month alone, all the children are healthy and are in full recovery. All of this is due to the Sterile Field Generators that we have been given for medical use."

"There is also report from our newest ships, the Phoenix Class ships, more food surplus is present and new shipments of antibiotics are now ready to be used to fill our fleet's medical supplies. So far the Fleet for the first time in three hundred years has more food than what we normally need. I have already dedicated our people managing our food supplies and production to store away all the extra produce and transform the rest into large amount of rations for our scout groups, fighter patrols, and also those going on Pilgrimage. They will now have supplies of their own that can last them much longer than normal which can help them store more credits before using them for purchasing supplies. And we may even be able to use some of our ships to act as supply vessels to give them support in the near future or for operations beyond the fleet."

"Plus our new Destroyers have proven to be quite powerful units and forms of deterrent and many of our marines have grown to love serving on the vessels. The firepower of the MAC guns has even inspired some of our weapon-smiths to begin making our own weapons that are not reliant on E-zero which can help free up our stockpiles that we would normally use for making small arms that we cannot buy but make on our own."

Daro'Xen then spoke as well.

"As much as such things are not my area of expertise, or concerns for the moment, I have to admit that it is good news. I have to also state that my scientists and I have begun to make increasing strides in being able to crack the mystery of Slipspace. Soon we may very well have the means to no longer be heavily reliant on the Mass Relays. It's not the progress I want since we have only begun to study Slipspace, but the data provided by Tali has helped make it easier. This can free us to move to planets that are not within the Relay network and possibly tap into resources that no one can easily reach."

Han Gerrel nodded as well.

"It seems that our mutual agreement with the Spartans and their…A.I partner have proven utterly beneficial for us all. I had my doubts to be sure, but they are all long gone now. We may even be able to take back the homeworld soon enough."

Koris glared at Han'Gerrel and it was clear that it was once more going to be a stand off between them. The divisions within the Fleet that either Admiral headed were now reeling from the massive boom their alliance with the Spartans had given them and while it helped them greatly, it also added more fuel to the fires.

"You intend to send our people into battle while we're like this?"

"I don't see why not…the Destroyers and the Phoenix Class ships are very effective and we now can at least be assured that our people have a better chance of survival."

"And you are willing to throw it all away to attack the Geth? Regardless of how many gains we get from the Spartans in our agreement with them you cannot just send our people into a war that they are not prepared to fight!"

Ra'an sighed deeply at this and looked at Tali's father Rael'Zorah hoping that there can be some means to end this newest argument between Koris and Han'Gerrel. Truth be told Ra'an understood Han'Gerrel's side to an extent. With so many of their people unable to find a world that had all the right qualifications of their home planet thus far, the only option was indeed to secure Rannoch for all of their people since there was no telling just how long it would be before they would no longer be able to live anywhere. At the same time she agreed with Koris, going to war the way they were was always fraught with risks. Even with them having these new ships and having the largest navy in the known galaxy thus far, it was still a bloody gamble where losing could be the death blow to all of them. Not to mention their abilities to supply and maintain an offensive were severely limited. Unlike the races of the Council, the Alliance, and those who lived in the Terminus…everything they needed to sustain their people were in the ships…losing them in battle was too terrifying a threat.

Han'Gerrel spoke sternly.

"And what do you suggest Koris? Rannoch is the only world that can sustain us right now, the chances of us finding a world that can fit the needs of our people are already very slim to nearly zero. We have wandered for three centuries, no one can take it much longer and we all know it. It's a risk to be sure and it's not something I enjoy doing, but we have the largest fleet in the known galaxy and it's high time we did something to regain the home-world not for us, but for the new generations as well, day by day we tell them of Rannoch but all they saw are pictures and vids…soon the very name of our world will fade and we will be like this forever. We cannot let that carry on Koris. We have to do something."

"By sending our ships to battle with the Geth you mean? You seem to forget that the ships we have here are the most precious resource we have thus far next to our people and future generations Gerrel. For every ship we lose, we lose not only our people crewing them and the generations that follow, but any chance to sustain ourselves, these ships you are so willing to send into battle are the only things we have to keep our people from dying out. I will NOT have them sacrificed in a war we have yet to determine we can win!"

Rael'Zorah then spoke.

"Gerrel, Koris has a point, even with the new ships we have, losing even a handful of our vessels would be a death sentence to our people. Gaining the home world in a war would be a death sentence if we lose too many people to rebuild a viable population to sustain any hope of repopulation if we do secure Rannoch. And if that is the case…we will only succeed in placing our dead on the surface of our world, turning it into a tomb. There is also the fact that the debris from the battle may very well pollute Rannoch and in the end we may end up killing the very world we sought to reclaim."

Han looked at his old friend and he had to sigh as he agreed to that, they could not afford a war where they would essentially wipe themselves out piece meal. Let alone risk losing Rannoch in a pitched battle. But damn it, they can't keep living like this forever! They had to do something soon before their people would not only become permanent wanderers but their people may very well never survive to the next few generations. Science may not be his strong point but Han knew that unless they found a safer place for their people to grow and recover, they would be forced to stay on the Flotilla for much longer and sooner or later, genetic diversity would stagnate and…he mentally shivered, he did not want to go THAT far.

"All right, I'll hold on that though of reclaiming the homeworld from the Geth, but mark my words, sooner or later…we HAVE to make a move or else we will very well doom our people in ways we may never be able to fix."

The others nodded and soon Shala'Raan spoke to Rael.

"By the way Rael, where is Tali?"

"She's currently on her way to Palaven."

That got the attention of everyone, and even Daro Xen was surprised at the choice of destination for Rael's daughter. They and the Turians were the only dextro-acid races around, the genetic minority to be sure, but like most if not all beings, the Turians held their people in low regard, even if there were exceptions.

"Are you sure that is wise Rael? I am well aware that Tali's skills have improved greatly but her going to Palaven can be inviting disaster. What is she doing there in the first place?"

Rael then gave a smile underneath his mask and replied.

"Well, let's just say that our…alliance with the Spartans has just extended to more than what we are discussing here."

In a shipyard over Palaven…

"Get lost Quarian!"

Tali was annoyed by the attitude of the Turian dock master who was trying to tell her to leave even though she had already presented documentation to prove that she had been made project head. The reason she was here along with a few of her fellow Quarians was that they had been informed by the Council that due to their expertise in the installation of the systems given to the Citadel by the Spartans and Cortana, they were given authority to run tests on the latest ships being built by the Citadel integrating the coolant and eventually the Texture Buffers and Photo-reactive panels.

They had already been paid a tidy sum with the approval of the Councilors and they had even given their personal seals to show that she and her team were under their direct employment and thus had their authority until the completion of the project and their contract. This was naturally due to them being the team to do all the needed work several months prior on the ships that would now be used as test beds by all of the navies in the Citadel. However it seemed that all the prejudice, stereotypes, and mistrust that people had towards her people were once more here to rear their ugly heads and spit in her face plate. It galled her to see this even though she was made very aware of this for a very long time

But she was not going let those bosh'tet ideals and beliefs stop her from doing her job.

"And why should I? I already have the documentation here to show that my team and I are here in a legitimate contract and under the authority of the Citadel Council."

The Turian sneered and so did some of his associates and replied.

"For all I know this could be forged documentation. You expect us to believe that not only are you all here legitimately but you are project head? No way would that ever happen, for all I know you and your little gang of thieves might be here to steal OUR ships! Not that you'd get far with it anyway."

The Turians snickered at that much to Tali growing annoyance, but she calmed herself down and merely stood her ground, unwilling to back down. This defiance surprised the Turians and the Dock Master growled once more and spoke seriously to her.

"I said get lost!"

"No, I have no reason to leave since my contract is a legitimately binding one and under the very seals of the Citadel Councilors. If you don't like it, then perhaps you can take it up with the Councilors themselves. Though I doubt they would like it that the project they assigned me and my team to manage is being delayed by your stubborn adherence to prejudice."

The dock master laughed and sneered once more.

"You expect me to believe that suit rat like you has the ear of the Councilors?! Hah! I'll believe it when I talk to them myself!"

Tali mentally sighed but decided that she had wasted enough time dealing with the moron, the Councilors had given her a private comm.. line with them so she could directly report on the progress of the project she had been asked to oversee. It was bad in many ways to make the call to deal with the obstinate Turian, but it was better than wasting time. She tapped into her Omni-tool and soon established contact with the Citadel Councilors.

The Turian Dock Master was stunned to see that it was indeed the Citadel Councilors and none of them looked none too happy when they saw the situation before them. Tevos was the very first to speak.

"Is there a problem here?"

The Dock master soon spoke to the,

"Councilors…I have this…Quarian here who claims she is the project head of this new ship project of the Hierarchy along with her team."

The three turned and saw Tali and they recognized her very easily since she was project head of the ships they had seen in action before. Valern, the Turian Councilor was the one to speak to Tali.

"Ah, Miss Zorah correct?"

"Yes Councilor, I am here along with my team at the Council's request to oversee the installation of the new coolants, Texture Buffers, and Photo-reactive panels on the ships you have requested for the Hierarchy as well as for the Union and Republics once my team's work here is done. Unfortunately as you can see before you there is a dispute on my presence and that of my team. I hoped to avoid this and carry on the request of the Council but the dock master insists that my contract is forged. I only planned to use this line to report on the results and update the Council on said results of the installation of the new systems, but he demanded that unless you yourselves will talk to him, he will have us forcibly removed."

Valern's facial flanges moved in annoyance and he soon glared at the Turian Dock Master and spoke sternly.

"I take it you saw my seal along with Councilor Tevos and Councilor Mesu?"

"Y-Yes Councilor."

"Then you should know that there is no way for anyone to gain the personal seal of the Citadel Council UNLESS it was personally given by the Councilors. That and the fact that Miss Zorah has a direct line to us in the Citadel should show that this is not a form of deception. She is project head of this ship building project under the authority of the Councilors and you will extend her the courtesy as such, and you WILL provide her the resources, technology, material, and personnel she requests. Are we clear on this?"

The Turians nodded at that and Tevos spoke next.

"This is unorthodox to be sure, but Miss Zorah is the most qualified for this project as she has personal experience with the technology that is to be incorporated into the naval forces of the Hierarchy. She too shall be working in this same capacity for the Asari Republics, and the Salarian Union which is why she caries my seal."

Mesu nodded at that.

"And mine as well, and since Miss Zorah has proven herself to be the most suited she is therefore under Council protection as well as her team as they are part of the team who worked with her previously. If any harm comes to her and her team, you all here will be held accountable and be punished under the full weight of Council law."

Tali could not help but feel very pleased at this and the fact that she knew that all three of the Councilors were in full approval of her being project head, they were not going to let anyone mess it up. Sure it was not as if the whole Quarian people were now seen differently but the fact that she was here and her team as well and being given this level of trust by the Citadel Councilors felt…good. Not in the way she wanted, but in the way she knew was needed.

The Turian dock master and his group nodded and soon the Citadel Councilors left and they looked at Tali who was still looking patiently at them. The dock master growled a bit and spoke.

"Fine…I can't argue with the Councilors now that they made that very clear. You're in so let's get to work."

Tali nodded and soon activated her Omni-tool and began to show to the foreman what she needed for the retrofits and the project. The man looked at her list and gave the Turian equivalent of a raised eyebrow and replied.

"You need all this? Pretty damn specific stuff here."

"It is, and before you ask the question, no, you have no need to provide any food, my team and I have brought ample supplies for ourselves in the crates and in our ship. Let's get this project rolling then, the Councilors will need to see good results soon and I will not disappoint them. And besides, this benefits everyone in Council Space so you have no reason to complain."

Tali soon began to give orders to her team and through it all she was very calm and relaxed about it, showing that her time among the Spartans had actually given her a somewhat different mindset. She still had some level of shyness and unease around others, but both John, Cortana and Jorge had toughened her up somewhat. And like before she was armed and ready to fight if needed though Kal'Reeagar was with her for this mission as her father would not want any other Quarian Marine watching over his only child.

Somewhere else…

A lone woman looked out to the city as she soon sipped on some coffee. Once she placed that cup away, she looked at a picture of a family. One with her now deceased husband and her daughter…

Dr Catherine Elizabeth Halsey could not help herself but finally shed tears at the memories of the day she found out that Jacob was dead and soon so was Miranda. She may have severed contact with Jacob but she never forgot that she loved him and even if she was not that much of a mother she loved Miranda. It angered her that as soon as she, Blue Team, the surviving Spartans, and Mendez were rescued, she was thrown into prison by none other than Parangosky's little team of misfits, it saddened her to learn that Serin and Naomi were there as the leaders, even more so when Parangosky's influence on Serin was obvious to her from the get go.

Once she had been taken to the custody of the woman she had been grilled hard by the admiral and had learned of the death of her daughter in the final conflict. And to show her contempt for her actions, Parangosky had seen if fit to tell her that Ackerson died a hero, both with a show of sincerity and spite. Dr. Halsey however was aware of the Spartan III Program and while she did not reveal her knowledge of it to Parangosky in that exact moment, she felt the desire to do so. To call her a monster for the Spartan II Program was not too far from the truth since she herself felt great guilt at having to resort to such methods to stop the Insurrection prior to the war with the Covenant. All of it had merely been conjecture and theory in her mind in the time, but when she saw it in practice, it disgusted her that it had come to this, even though she knew that it was her own decision to do this work and what it could cost her.

Black Box and his donor could go to hell if it existed for all she cared in that regard. No one knew of her own personal cross to bear when it came to this program and no one outside of ONI knew of how she distrusted them even if they provided her the technology, means, resources, and more for it to work. It was her choice to do so and she knew that she would one day be brought to face the results of the program itself and the cost. She made her peace with that fact long ago and while she had no plans to bow down to anyone, she was also accepting of the fact that her actions were wrong.

But to send orphans into battle with substandard gear by Spartan standards, and with such horrendous losses to the point that all Spartan IIIs, with the marked exception of those who passed her genetic qualifications, were for all intents and purposes wiped out for each operation? And call it a success?! It was madness to her, they should have been given a chance to survive with the way the Covenant was intent on killing humanity down to the last child. But no…instead they were being sent off to die like they had millions more to spare! What the hell did that amount to?! More graves to fill up, that was what it was.

Ackerson may have indeed died a hero, but he was also a cunning yet utterly short sighted idiot who's 'trade lives for time' idea of the Spartan III Program had cost so many children their lives even though she knew they chose to be part of it for the chance to avenge their losses and more. It was not that she intended to downgrade the sacrifices of the Spartan IIIs at all, as even though was concerned for them, she did no deny they had done their part…as she recalled the IIIs who were part of Noble Team. But right now with Humanity being in the phase of repair and reconstruction…

They could not afford to sacrifice the very people they sought to save since it would have only served to bring them closer to being wiped out. After all, Humanity was one race against several during the war with the Covenant prior to the Separatists being formed and they had the numbers, Humanity did not. And time was a precious resource, she could not deny that, but time meant nothing if all of their future generations would be sent to the meat grinder. She did not even need to repeat the atrocities suffered by children and even babies at the hands of the Covenant…everyone knew how blood thirsty some races of the Covenant were, and veterans of the War remembered with great rage and disgust the sight of children and babies being killed and eaten by Brutes, Jackals, and on more than one instance, Grunts.

Yes the gear was cheaper in relation to the MJOLNIR, but if the Program was to be a success, in her view, they should have focused on making sure that they saved enough of the children to help rebuild humanity and to improve the technology more before sending them on suicide operations that led to such losses. Yes the Spartan IIIs were very capable, but to her, their success would have been higher if they had better gear as well as having a stronger time frame to improve on.

But she did take solace in the fact that despite her dismay on the situation, Kurt had proven himself to be truly a leader and all she could hope for was that his work would be remembered, not black listed by many.

She sighed in annoyance as she recalled the trial that she had been subjected to by the people who were apparently hand picked by Parangosky to hang her by the neck. The trial however had not turned into a fiasco due to the fact that those who supported her work despite their personal dislike for a number of her methods had taken a more proactive stance in her defense. And unlike the numerous witnesses who she knew now to be Parangosky's paid stooges, these men and women were a lot more neutral and did their best to make sure that the trial was a fair one and not a witch hunt.

Lord Hood was one of those people who despite not being part of ONI's 'inner circle' of planners and action specialists, had some people there. He believed that there should be a true oversight committee in ONI to make sure that ONI did not go off the rails. So when he found out about her incarceration and the plan to smear her work and make her the scape goat to hide ONI's own hands in the whole thing, he was more than willing to use whatever resources he had to change the trial's outcome to show a more balanced sight on the matter.

This had been one of the key reasons that Parangosky's plans to remove her had failed. Even more so when more data revealed Admiral Parangosky's actions and that Kilo 5 to cause unrest in Sanghelios which while an easy enough to grasp move to keep the Elites from becoming a threat had only served to increase the tension and had formed a new more dangerous faction for the UNSC to deal with alongside the growing resurgence of Insurrectionist cells and now the rumored arrival of a group similar to the URF. HIGHCOM, despite Parangosky being the powerful woman that she was, along with the UEG were utterly angered by this since they were not in the mood, minus a few who agreed with Parangosky's reasons and even her methods, for another war to break out so soon after they had recovered from three decades of hell.

What was the point of starting a war again when Humanity had lost so much and needed time to heal?

She also brought to light the fact that while her use of Flash Cloning was indeed illegal and she admitted to having been asked why the Clones were not used instead of the children, there were factors that made such a move too impractical.

The very fact that the process of rapidly aging a cloned Human embryo resulted in so many defects and also the incurable metabolic cascade failure effect of such abnormal growth rates was the first. Some argued why a more perfected cloning attempt was not used to grow the clones to be exact copies of the children without the defects and be used instead. The defenders on her side pointed out that the very fact cloning was illegal meant that any advancement of the procedures was not done at all. And a vast majority of the cloning done was still very much forbidden and highly experimental at it's time. And while her own cloning techniques were perfected, it too carried high risks and had it's own share of mistakes.

Catherine on her own part admitted that had there been a perfected way to clone the children with no complications, she would have taken them instead of the children. But another factor was there to make it more complicated.


She reminded the court that with the Insurrection already becoming more organized and harder to stamp out, the needed time, resources, manpower, and technology needed to perfect the Flash Cloning process would have taken far too long and even if the Covenant had not been present, the Insurrection would have gained momentum to the point that even if perfected, the Spartan IIs would have come in too late to make a difference. And had the Covenant arrived…well, she did not need to tell them the outcome as they all knew too well how the Spartan IIs, despite their origins and low numbers had made a difference when they came to the field.

To prove her view as well as present facts when challenged by her prosecutors, Halsey had revealed a more advanced data archive on the Carver Findings she had made no less than three decades ago. This time it factored in the effects of the Spartan II Program not taking the path it had done and with the Covenant not being a factor in the Insurrection. The results were not fully revealed in court transcripts, but she pointed out that the results would have indeed resulted in a massive galactic civil war that would have reached deeper into UNSC held territory and had much higher casualties on the civilian and military sides and the increasing drain on the resources of the UNSC due to the fact that they could not police every sector of held territory as well as rerouting of funds and assets to defend the sectors that would reduce resources for projects that in time had helped in fighting both the Insurrection and the Covenant. Colonies would have eventually gone into full open revolt and warfare that would have collapsed Human civilization even faster.

And when she included the Covenant as well as the Flood…well even the most dedicated naysayers had been shut up. Casualties had in effect doubled and the pace in which the UNSC was overrun and wiped out would have taken less than half the time the war had lasted in the time frame they had been fighting it in. All of this was tested over three times the simulations she had done with the Carver Findings by A.I not tied to ONI and also by numerous analysts and had proven that she was correct in this regard.

She also countered the argument placed forward by Parangosky that she had been the sole head of the Program due to the Admiral's campaign with ONI to have all the blame placed on her head to avoid scrutiny being placed on the rest of the Program and who was part of it. She reminded the Court that despite her genius, there was no way that she alone could have developed the entire stockpile of tech needed without supplies, funding and resources. That was not even counting the needed data on how to improve the original ORION augmentations and make them viable for the Spartans II as well as make them as safe as possible.

ONI had signed off on everything, and Parangosky's handwriting was on the pads as well. This was further compounded by her showing that the Flash Cloning phase would have already been known to ONI since with the huge number of agents and minders they had in said program from the beginning, there was no way she could have done so without them telling the Admiral about it all, let alone hide it since it was mostly concept before. And if she could not have hidden it, then there was no reason for Parangosky to not have known about the Clones being used in place of the children when they were taken.

Another factor was Naomi's own decision to reveal the actions of Kilo 5, a VERY risky action for Naomi to take since this was technically the actions of a traitor. But Naomi was well aware that these actions could very well prevent a possible disaster from coming in that could have made a dangerous impact on the UNSC in the future, and this had more to do with a gut feeling than with hard facts. And even though she privately admitted that she was angry for what she had gone through, and the same for her parents…her biological parents, she did not forget that without her and the other Spartan IIs, then Humanity would have been wiped out in a more deadly fashion as she looked at the simulations herself and checked it with her own records.

As she thought of all this, Dr. Catherine Halsey sighed and wondered just how far did she have to go before some semblance of peace would come not merely to the UNSC but to her as well. There was still no word on the other Spartans, her Spartans apart from Kelly, Linda, Fred, and of course, John himself. She had not been in contact long with Naomi but made efforts to speak to the Spartan II Commando and at least was able to do so without heavy confrontation.

She never denied her guilt in all of this and made it perfectly clear many times over in her trial that she had always carried disgust about what had been done in the progress of the Program, pointing out that even if she was indeed the one who proposed the whole Program from the start, she had certain misgivings about the aspects that were taken. She had been brought to the point of leaving the program due to the fact that not only were the procedures risky but she had not been given more time and resources to perfect the procedures to ensure that even if not all of them could be saved, at leas the Spartans would have better chances.

She also pointed out that even if it was the pet project of ONI, their aloof attitudes and underestimation of the Spartans was something she did not condone. She also did not hesitate in pointing out the facts that not only were members of Section III underestimating the program and the Spartan IIs from the beginning. But also had been willing to actually remove the safety restraints of the Program to speed it up and risk losing the children in the process all for the sake of expediency. This was another factor that convinced her to stay apart from her personal connection to the Spartans despite her attempts to remain distant from them failed and she therefore became what she was to the ones who were there with the marked exception of Musa and Serin.

She revealed a memory from her own Neural Interface, which dealt with her speaking to Deja about her plans to one day leave the Program. But the A.I convinced her that if she did leave, or was removed by ONI due to her insistence on perfecting the augmentation procedures to reduce the risks to the children as much as possible, then they would have hired someone else. Someone who was under-qualified, and not as knowledgeable as she was, but more than willing to follow ONI, overriding the safety measures and to speed things up regardless of the risks on the children.

She also began to reveal other phases that she flatly rejected outright on moral and ethical grounds since even if the program was already breaking laws in both areas, what ONI had in mind was really pushing the envelop.

She then proved her words to be accurate by showing how things would have turned out had it not been her who had overseen the procedures and someone else had. The data showed a full 100% loss rate for the Spartan IIs, effectively killing off the class of Spartan IIs who would have made a difference in the onset of the war with the Covenant. And the fact that the scenarios were tested numerous times and the results still showed a 100% fatality rate for the Spartans proved to be a highly decisive move on her part.

In the end despite the fact that she was still found guilty on moral and ethical violations, they pointed out her contributions to ending the war, and reminded the audience that the Spartans had played roles that saved numerous lives. War had brought out the best and worst in people, and at times, dark choices had to be made by those to defend what was left of Humanity. She was placed under heavy watch but was no longer seen as a war criminal which she had no doubt would have enraged Parangosky…she actually liked that.

She and Mendez had managed to repair some of the damages to their relationship as allies and colleagues. It had been hard for her to deal with the fact that in their time in the Shield World they had argued about her wariness with the Spartan IIIs who he had trained as well as his involvement in training the Spartan IIs. The reconciliation only started when she reminded him that in all the time he had been training John and the others, he had been given every chance to walk away and never speak of the Program long ago.

As a Marine who had been in numerous black ops in the past and had even been actually part of the Spartan I Program himself, Mendez was ideally suited to train the Spartan IIs and in hindsight the IIIs as he was a Spartan I himself. In a sense he was the living example of the saying…'It takes a Spartan to train a Spartan.' And she stated that being who he was and his record, he would have already known the purpose behind the program and also the moral and ethical implications with it.

She told him that when she conceived the program, it was all theory and conjecture to her, but when it was done for real, she was horrified and disgusted with this course of action. She remembered her own words well.


"You think I wanted to do what WE did to John, Kurt, Sam, Linda, Kelly, Fred, Jorge, and all the others? I did not want it at all. I felt guilt for nigh on three decades for the life I forced on them Mendez and I still do to this very day…even more so when I look at Fred, Kelly, and Linda. Do you know how many times I asked myself what would have been their lives had I not came into it? More times than I ever could in one life time…no matter how many times I tried to rationalize it, I never forgot that I destroyed any hope they had for a future as regular people, and I never will."

"If there had been an alternative to the Spartan II Program than did not involve what we did, then I would have taken it. Had I known what was the true extent of what the program entailed and what the cost would be to everyone, I would have left a long time ago. But I stayed…for their sake because knowing ONI, they would have gladly replaced me with someone less qualified, less knowledgeable, but more than willing to use worse means and would have cut corners just to please ONI. John…and all of them would have died. I am not lying by saying that my stay saved them all…you and I know what the results were, but at least we saved as many of them as we could."

"I know that what I did was monstrous by any stretch of the imagination, and I will answer for it all someday, and I accept that. I am no saint Mendez, but I will not hide it either and I will do whatever I can to make sure that all of it was not wasted."

End of flashback…

They never spoke again for a week until he came back and they spoke again. It was clear though that while there was guilt left in Mendez, but she was not going to judge him for it. They both were part of it and acknowledging it was part of the process of moving forward. The fact that none of the Spartan IIs and even the Threes held dislike for him and never waivered in their support helped the war hardened Marine to eventually move on in a sense.

She also reminded him of the fact that even if this war was not what they were meant for, the Spartans they BOTH trained and molded had made a difference. A difference that led to their reconstruction and recovery here and now, denying it was not going to change what they did nor justify it, all they could do was make sure that those of THEIR Spartans who died fighting for the future of Humanity did not die for nothing. They deserved to do that much and his attempts to attack her to hide his own guilt changed nothing.

It was a while before they spoke again but it was clear that Mendez had decided to take her words to thought, and at least for the last few days they were on the mend. Apart from him the other visitors were naturally her Spartans, and some high officials from the UEG and the UNSC, and on occasion Lord Hood. For now though she kept herself busy looking over all the gathered data on the latest findings on the Shield World along with keeping tabs on Blue Team as well as looking on occasion the images of Jacob and Miranda, as well as having coffee every now and then.

Halsey's thoughts were cut short when she was informed by the Dumb A.I in the facility that she had a visitor. A high Priority visitor with all the required clearance needed to enter the room, as despite being exonerated for her actions in various ONI sponsored projects with the Spartan II being at the forefront due to the fact that they eventually helped bring the Great War to a close, she was still too sensitive a person to speak to without proper security screening. As soon as the door opened she had no problems recognizing one of the few people who were not of the Spartan II Project, who were her allies. After all, he was the head of the UNSCDF.

"Lord Hood, may I ask what are you doing here?"

Lord Hood replied to that in an official manner.

"I am assigning you elsewhere Dr. Halsey for the time being, better there at this time than at a place where Parangosky' little attack dogs can cause trouble. We're still in the process of making sure that all departments in ONI have been cleared of anyone loyal to her and to Serin, so better to have you elsewhere than one place where they can find you easily."

"Really? May I ask where Lord Hood?"

The Admiral spoke to Halsey with a slight smile.

"One of the UNSC's most secret projects which was under Parangosky's thumb before she managed to escape from UNSC custody along with her lackeys who care more for their loyalty to her than their sworn oaths to the UNSC and to Earth. The project in question happens to be the newest ship to join the Navy and possibly one of our most powerful warships to date after our Super Carriers, the UNSC Infinity."

That made Catherine put a halt to any other question that was already on the tip of her tongue and raise her eyebrows in surprise as she was well aware of the ship in question along with the security placed on it before it was launched out to the public to see.

"The UNSC Infinity, if I remember that right, that ship in question is the latest ship built in secret by the Navy and ONI in the Ort Cloud, why would you assign me there in what is one of the most advanced warships in the UNSC?"

"You can do more good there in the outside than here in the office building. Margaret's lackeys might be much fewer now after we had her sacked after those stunts she pulled, but I am not taking chances. I never have and I never will, even more so when it's Margaret we happen to be discussing."

Halsey nodded in agreement as the former Director of ONI was never to be underestimated despite her sacking and eventual defection from the UNSC.

"Who will replace her?"

"Not her protégé, that much should be obvious even if she was still here, I will not have someone who puts personal vendettas first as opposed to working on keeping the UNSC from getting into another pointless conflict in charge of ONI while we still have this many issues to deal with. Margaret's little stunts have caused enough problems as it is already, she has done more to hinder than help. Even more so now with the fallout of her stunts nearly brought us to war again with the Elites and the remains of the still active Covenant Loyalists that she naturally had a hand in making. It won't matter much either since Serin has willingly gone AWOL or is no longer part of the UNSC."

"Her personal belief is not entirely wrong you know."

Lord Hood nodded at that.

"I am aware of that Doctor, but too much Paranoia can always come back and bite you in the ass. And now she no doubt found that out the hard way since she now knows that even if she is the most powerful person in the UNSC through hr leadership ONI that alone does not assure you of being invincible and above the law."

"Just when we finally have some measure of peace after three decades of hell, she decides to shed blood and drop it into the water, and for what? To keep the Sangheili destabilized and not a threat to the UNSC, Earth, her colonies and her people as she had hoped it would when she helped supply the Servants of Abiding Truth? She created a whole new brand of the Covenant for us to deal with. We're already stretched thin trying to rebuild as well as do aid relief to our colonies and now we're forced to send assets to areas that got attacked because of that faction she helped create! And to top it all off, we still have the Insurrectionists and the Loyalists nipping at our heels! Instead of dealing with one headache at a time, she gave us THREE to deal with!"

Hood turned to look at the city outside and continued a bit more.

"We've got enough problems with peace keeping, fighting the Insurrection, the Covenant Loyalists, this new remnant calling itself Storm, and reconstruction to have yet another war hitting us on all sides. That is why I had her removed and shipped out of ONI and stand for a full review by High COM, which was the plan until her protégé and the lackeys she had with her busted her out. Now she is a traitor on the run and so are the rest of the idiots that followed her even if they should have known they were aiding a now recognized traitor to the same organization they were part of along with her. Short of me personally carving Persona Non Grata on all of their foreheads, everyone from us to the Separatists want her and Kilo 5 dead."

"She could join the Insurrection, possibly this new faction, the New Colonial Alliance we have been so far not able to locate."

"I doubt they would want anything to do with her, with the new Covenant's leader after her blood and his hatred for Humanity which she actually helped increase, none of them would want to help her. They already lost two more colonial allies thanks to the faction she helped create and since it was revealed that she was responsible for their founding, at least partially, she's now a pariah wherever she and her posse go. Hell, they'd actually shoot her on sight than help her, especially after that massive outbreak of bio-engineered food on New Canton was revealed to be a result of that same engineered grain that she had made for the Elites. And we also lost two more new colonies because that massive screw up."

Hood growled at the memory of it when it was discovered. At first there were reports of the grains being produced in New Canton were not easy to digest. At first it was thought to be fixable…but soon the whole supplies of grains failed and New Canton's people began to starve as well as suffer from a highly potent form of allergic reaction to grain proteins that resulted in a high cardiac volume that led to death, but not before experiencing massive pain and just as relief supplies were coming in, they discovered that several packets of grains landed on New Barcelona, and the new colony Concorda months earlier and soon the tainted grain led to mass starvation and extreme death on both planets. He and HIGHCOM demanded answers and soon they got it when it was found that a recording was included in one of the containers, all of which bore the seal of ONI.

It showed Jul'Madama gloating and stating that while it was he and his faction that unleashed the tainted grains, it was no less than what the Humans had planned for his race.

He revealed just WHAT was going on in the facility and the fact that Margaret had approved of it with Dr. Irene being the head of it all. He explained that before he did escape, he convinced the Huragok to provide him with all of the research data on the grains and what else he deemed of value, this included medical data on humans and while it took a lot of effort he had managed to produce a variant of the bio-weapon but was tailored for humans. He and his forces unleashed it and left proof that what he said was true and told them to seek out Dr. Irene for confirmation and he mockingly laughed at the deaths of the people there, stating that while he poisoned them, it was their own people that created the poison.

And he ended it with a message that enraged everyone.

'One good turn, deserves another.'

Needless to say, the memory of that discovery had REALLY angered everyone in HIGHCOM and the UEG, along with the colonists, even the Insurrection were outraged since it was not long before they were able to intercept those crates. But with the destruction of the tainted grains, it meant that supplies of relief food stuffs had to be suspected for fear of being tainted, leading massive food riots where food stores were strained. Hell on Earth, it had led to even worse food riots as people who could not eat demanded food to be shipped in regardless of the fact that the UNSC had to place strict measures to prevent the grains from being eaten.

ONI was being roasted for that and that was before Margaret could step down as well. Needless to say her supposed power over ONI and the UNSC was unraveling faster than ice melting before a plasma torch.

"Even if she did not make the damn thing herself, her seal was all over the crates' manifest. two million people are dead on each of those THREE worlds all because of her plan that the Remnant uncovered and actually had gone through the damn trouble of getting the data and repurposing the grain to kill OUR people. We're still trying to salvage those colonies to make them prospective colonies again after that mess but the damage is still taking time to heal."

Halsey sighed at that and spoke once more.

'I only wished that she did not have to come along with her."

Hood knew full well just who Halsey was talking about and replied to that.

'No, Serin made her choice long ago when she was willing to have you killed and while Naomi is still under house arrest, she at least realized what was happening. And knowing that what Parangosky was doing was a severe breach of protocol and abuse of authority. Without her turning in Parangosky and Serin when it counted we would have never found out about ONI's meddling in the affairs of the Sangheili when we could have focused on more important matters. I could offer you the position temporarily Halsey until we find someone who can fill in. Though that also means I can have you become the head of ONI full time. Might ruffle some feathers like before, but it can be done."

Halsey shook her head at that and made her feelings clear on the idea of being head of ONI, even if only for a time.

"I have no interest in becoming head of ONI Lord Hood. Contrary to some of the still lingering beliefs of my detractors, everything I have done in ONI was never for the chance to be head of ONI. I have had my fair share of butting heads with the bunch in Section 3 and let's not even begin with Parangosky. I might be afraid of the woman to be honest, but I had no love for her, as she did me, she only tolerated me because of the War. And in truth I have always been wary of ONI and their witch hunt of me only strengthens my dislike for them."

Hood nodded and replied.

"I understand, but right now with ONI's restructuring, we need someone there to keep it from going pear shaped. And to be honest Doctor, there are very few people I and HIGHCOM trust to handle ONI, and right now, despite everything and more, you are one of them. And as I said, it is only temporary until we have a full time director who everyone in HIGHCOM can trust. And when we get Section 0 back up and running with people who CAN be trusted, they will take over watching anyone who goes rogue, Section 0 took a lot of hits and right now they are the only group in ONI that have their heads in the game. I will NOT have ONI become a damned terrorist unit in the very organization it works under. And I am not the only one with that same sentiment."

The doctor looked at Hood and then back to the city outside and spoke.

"I see…I guess I am going to have to get used to being in the director's seat then. All right, until HIGHCOM finds the new director, I will fill in Lord Hood."

Hood nodded at that with a look of relief and replied.

"Good, we'll formalize the order in Melbourne and have it in writing, you will head ONI until a new director is selected. Once we do have a new Director, all power will be given to him or her and you will be assigned to an assignment of your choosing Halsey. Complete and full access to all relevant and classified intel as well as assets, funds, and resources as much as can be gained. And it will have my signature on it as well as that of the rest of the HIGHCOM members. I want in that case a full and no BS report from you directly, no intermediaries, and if the intel is too sensitive for communications, then come to me yourself, better I hear it from you than someone who might be on the take."

"We'll also assign a trusted security detail to you at all times, namely several of your Spartans. You trust them more than most after all and they trust you deeply so I doubt that it will be easy for anything to attack you."

Halsey nodded with a smile at that, she had no doubt about her Spartans. As she thought of it though, she also recalled the two Programs that were after her own Program. She had to know what was going to happen to it to make sure that at least everything of importance was known to her.

"What of the Spartan III and IV Programs?"

"Still ongoing in the case of the IV Program while we're working on rehabilitation of the IIIs who can be allowed to live civilian lives, those who can't or won't…as much as I wish different will be placed into the military under direct supervision of you and the IIs. I will have you become head of all of them Catherine, I doubt we can find anyone else who can bring the technology to its full potential. There will be issues to be sure, but right now we need all the best heads we can get. And if I am not taken, ethics and morals aside for the moment, if it had not been for your work in the Spartan II Program, we would not have the Spartan IIIs and the Spartan IVs along with the new GEN2 Armor, the new augmentations, and more besides."

It was a practical line of thinking since it was Catherine who had spearheaded the programs that gave the UNSC a tremendous edge in the war with the Covenant and the Insurrection.. She spearheaded the MJOLNIR and no one could dispute her contributions in the field of human designed Power Armor. She spearheaded the development of new Generation Smart A.I despite the controversial methods used to create Cortana, but the results were undeniable now that the technology was improved. She pioneered the development of military grade human augmentations that started with the Spartan IIs that countered to a number of levels the weaknesses of the Spartan I augmentations, and that paved to the creation of the Spartan IV augmentations. The facts were also supported by the truth that without Halsey they would have never secured the Forerunner Shield World which had begun to expand the technological power base of the UNSC.

The elderly woman shook her head at that.

"That may be the truth Lord Hood, but that hardly means I loved what I did to them all. And the things we to resort to doing during the Insurrection and then the war with the Covenant, no amount of success justifies what we did in the Program and…what I had to do."

"I know…I was there at the trial Halsey remember? But let's not forget how many people have made many personal, moral, and ethical sacrifices that in hindsight paved the way for changes. I studied history and while many can all Louise Pasteur a madman for using children to counter the rabies virus in his day, he managed to make it happen. No one enjoys having to make choices like that but in the end, they are proven to be right as his actions saved many lives. Hardly makes it easier to swallow, but it is there."

"Those who were not in the know of the Program and how ONI works can call you monster all they like, but I am not one of them. I might not approve to some of it, but your Spartans did much for the UNSC and so did you as well. I owe them my life and so do many in the Security Council so for me to turn my back on them is foolish and utterly irresponsible. And despite the doubts, there are others as well who would think on the same context as I do."

That made the founder of the Spartan II program smile slightly as she knew that Hood never lied about that and was further assured that he was an ally to the end.

"At any rate, we're already working on the selection process and you get final say on who takes the reins here."

Catherine nodded and then had a thought, as repugnant as it was.

"What about Parangosky? I doubt she will remain silent for long."

"We're tracking her as best we can, but it won't be easy, prior to her defection she and those loyal to her were rumored to have stolen the UNSC Point of No Return…and Catherine, the Point of No Return underwent a number of retrofits in the same way as the UNSC Port Stanley, only difference is that it's now using a more advanced stealth cloaking network. Not as advanced as the Forerunner technology used for stealth to be sure since we're still a long ways from cracking it, but still a major loss for us since there are too few ships with that level of stealth technology. Not to mention it was given a considerable overhaul in terms of weapons tech to boot so it will still a serious concern."

Catherine shook her head at that.

"Is there anything that can help locate it?"

Hood shook his head, it still galled him that the former ONI Director was still willing to make the situation worse. He knew that she did have some reasoning behind it, but damn it, the UNSC is still healing and trying to mend fences, and she royally screws it over, along with trying to assassinate key allies and assets, one of whom was before him all because of her animosity and dislike for Catherine. One thing was for sure, Parangosky was going to get what she had planned for Catherine, there would be no trial for the rogue Admiral…what was waiting for her was a firing squad with her name of all the bullets.

"Not at this time, but the very second she shows herself, we deal with it."

Halsey sighed a bit and then looked out to see a number of Pelicans flying about, ferrying personnel here and there.

"Who's in command of the Infinity?"

Lord Hood brought up the files.

"Captain Andrew Del Rio, he might have been appointed by Parangosky but so far he does know how to do his job though he is not as flexible as most Captains. Personally speaking we would have preferred to have someone else act as Captain of the Infinity, but so far Del Rio has done a good job in keeping the ship working to spec, especially since the incident in Sanghelios with the Sangheili."

Catherine nodded in agreement, now well aware of what Parangosky had done.

"Who's his XO?"

At that Lord Hood smiled a bit more and answered her question.

"Commander Thomas Lasky, he happens to be one of the cadets rescued by the Master Chief from the Battle of Corbulo Academy, he and a few surviving cadets were the only survivors of the Academy and the planet last I recall. The man's got an excellent record and seems to be a lot more open minded about the Spartan IIs than most, no doubt due to the Chief rescuing him. He also is aware of both two of your other Spartans since they were there on the evac Pelican. He has a good reputation and has proven himself an able officer with good instincts as well."

Catherine raised an eyebrow at that and looked at the nearby terminal and looked the man over, she took her time to read his files and nodded. The young man had exceptional records tough his time in the Academy was not really that good. But after he was evacuated, things changed for young Lasky, no doubt being inspired by John. She raised an eyebrow and smiled a bit as she read his recounting of him aiding John fighting the last Hunter and how John gave him a piece of the Hunter's armor and told him he did good work.

She then directed her attention to Rio and was not too happy with the results of her checking his CSV.

"He seems rather solid, why isn't he the Captain of the Infinity then? Judging from what I see, he has the making of an inspiring leader while Del Rio is more of the managerial type of officer. Not exactly the kind of person who can inspire and command when something unexpected happens, and we all know how often that does happen in this line of work."

"True, but so far, Del Rio is a good enough officer for now, and his actions against the Insurrectionists and the Covenant Loyalists as well as Storm shows he can handle some of the duties of command. And we can't exactly be picky Dr. Halsey, we're still recovering from the war and this mess Parangosky and her lackeys had thrown in our faces. Right now we have to make due with what we have and who we have."

Halsey nodded at that and she decided to get a dossier list on all existing Spartan IVs and potential candidates. If they were indeed going to succeed the Spartan IIs at some point, then they had better be up to the standard.

And not just any standard…

But her standards and she was going to make it very clear that her standards were not going to be easy to deal with…

Then she spoke once more about another matter.

"What of the Sangheili and what is left of the Separatists?"

Lord Hood already had an answer to that.

"The former Arbiter Thel's been working on over time to make sure that the peace agreement between us and his people holds as he has made it clear that he has no intention of continuing a war that was based all on lies. He and his allies in the Separatists are in agreement with the idea and while they are still dealing with other factions who say otherwise, they are at least working o hard on making those changes. So far they have been focusing on their civilian front and are doing what they can to be able to develop more technology on their own as well as improve their colonies and not waste what resources and assets they have left."

Hood looked outside to the city of Melbourne and continued.

"We just got word though that as a peace offering, they helped one of our explorer ships locate what appears to be a viable world for colonization. Normally we'd have expected them to take it for themselves, but they did not. I just got the reports on the planet and it seems to be indeed viable for colonization and terra-forming and has no signs of any hidden traps or the like. And at the moment we have to work with the Arbiter and his faction on Sangheilios since as long as we can ensure a peace, we can focus on the Loyalists, the Insurrection, and the Storm without having a FORTH faction in the mix, and Thel thus far has worked hard to prove that even if he is one Elite over many, at least he has proven himself that many of the houses are now listening to him."

"The more that that he has to can convince to focus on rebuilding their society and less on warfare against us, that is more time we have to rebuild our own forces as well as rebuild our colonies and make things for our people better. We have far too much to focus on than starting conflicts this early in the reconstruction."

Catherine nodded as it would help make people focus on the more important things, but she still had concerns, all of which were valid.

"There is still the fact that not all of the Sangheili are united under Thel, many of their still undiscovered colonies may have already sworn allegiance to Jul and the information he has on the events of the Civil War will only work to his advantage."

"I know…that is why we must focus on defending ourselves but not getting involved in the affairs of the Elites. Meddling in their affairs is risky in itself and until we can fix the fallout, we are not going to engage in covert conflict with them. Let Thel and his followers deal with this mess on their own terms, they can focus their attention there and perhaps when things settle down, we can make things more favorable for us and our allies. Even with all our technological advances and more Catherine I am not going to risk becoming complacent until all threats to the UNSC are gone, and as long as Thel and his people are focusing on keeping this alliance and peace stable, then it has my support."

"It will not be easy Lord Hood, you cannot expect Humanity to forget or forgive what the Covenant did to us."

"I don't…I KNOW it will be hard and difficult road Dr. Halsey and I too will never forgive what they had done to us. I said for before Thel and I have no desire to change that. But right now, defending and reconstruction of the UNSC and the UEG is what matters. As of tomorrow emergency military rule is over, the UEG will take over once more and al I can hope for is that we learn from all this and the Insurrection."

To be continued…

Author's Notes:

There, another chapter done and I hope that I don't have to be bothered about this story for a bit longer since I have a lot that I need to do.

Also if there are concerns and comments that are constructive…contact me via PM and state what is missing, wrong, needs correction, you all know the routine so let's leave it at that.

This chapter is named Perspectives for a reason as we now look through the eyes of the people in the ME universe on how things have changed with the arrival of the UNSC and what they had brought to the table. This will also help me work on how to introduce the soon to be inducted allies of the UNSC in the coming battle between Saren and the Geth, and of course the soon to come war with the Reapers.

One of the issues I have at the moment is how the Council is portrayed in the stories I have seen thus far, and those range from being overtly arrogant, incompetent, lacking heart and among other things. While I am not saying that the Council is blameless, I wish to point out that to always show them in a negative light is being unfair to them as they did have reasons for the actions they had undertaken. This might seem like double standards to some after what comments I made before not to mention some of my stories, but I have in advance decided to make things a lot more unique in this story of mine and I have sent prototype ideas to some of my friends who state that this at least shows a different side to the Councilors.

Here in this chapter, there are members of the Citadel races, who are more progressive thinkers and are willing to try new avenues to see what the results are. And also the Councilors are seen to be different when not in the Council chamber and this will play into what I have in mind for the chapters to come. In this case, the Councilors will be a lot more open minded, but not too much, and are a bit more progressive in thinking. I am not going to one eighty them immediately, it's a gradual process that I have to craft patiently to avoid making a mess out of it.

And as you have seen, with the short stint in John, Jorge, and Cortana's home universe…things are moving along in a very different direction.

Yet it will play a vital role in what is to come.

One major issue I have with Glasslands is that while it did a good job of portraying to some extent the moral and ethical issues with the Spartan II Program, it was also focusing on only showing the negative aspects of the whole thing. There's no balance there and that was what made one expand in your own way how Halsey felt back in the UNSC prior to her being on the Infinity. And as you have no doubt read, I have made the outcome a lot different than in canon in Halo…so the events of Halo 4 will no happen just yet though there will be some familiar events.

Parangosky is now kicked out of UNSC and it seems that she and her allies n Kilo 5 have not left empty handed. And considering what I have seen of Jul, he is one hell of a smart Sangheili and it is shown as he is not the least bit afraid to use tactics that are usually the kind associated to ONI, so it is not above someone like him to try what I have written in this one. So naturally this will have adverse effects in the story to come and I plan to make sure that I get all the details right before making a new chapter for the story.

There WILL be a meeting between the Master Chief and Commander Shepard soon enough, and so far a lot of the people in the polls are going for the professional friendship/romance idea. I may very well do that, but don't expect it to be an easy fix either. If there are other suggestions I am open to them and I will be busy updating my other works.

The next chapter for the story will now be focusing on the events leading up to Eden Prime and also the Infinity would be making it's debut and land somewhere else than Requiem as in Halo 4 so don't expect the plot of Halo 4 to pop up JUST yet.

Yes, the cast you meet in Halo 4 and Spartan Ops will already be around but with major changes and also we will have some extra work done to make things a bit more interesting. And like in VanDread Halo, I will be bringing in the Spartan as well, and maybe a familiar OC who will be very interested in meeting the Chief.

As for Jorge…well, he won't be alone for long, suggestions are more than welcome…just make sure they make sense okay?

Good Bye!