AN: Hey guys been a while hasn't it? Feels like it's been forever since I've picked up a pen and put it to paper, and now I don't even want to think about how rusty I am (though tbh reading back my stories I wasn't that good to begin with haha). My self imposed exile from writing has mostly been due to laziness and a lost of interest in writing more than anything else, but recently life has become a lot more stressful for me so I've taken up the pen again in the hope that it will still have the same soothing effects it had on me in my earlier teen years. I'm deviating away from the naruto and harry potter realm I had fancied when younger, though I might dust of my muse for that if this helps me in any way. Mass effect has become my #1 favorite game usurping Halo from its long held throne in my books. But Halo will always hold a place in my heart as the first game I ever owned, and so I decided to mix both in my story. No doubt I'll steal ideas from other places as well (cookie for u if u can spot them =p) but the main elements will consist of a clash between ME and Halo.
This chapter was kinda done on the fly from memory so there may be a lot of errors and mistakes, and I might come clean up later once I review the info a bit, but please tell me what you think.
Rael'Zorah stood apart from the other multitude of quarians who milled about before the entryway leading to the docking station. His rank of admiral separated him from all but two of the others present. Shala'Raan the best friend of his deceased wife and Han'Gerrel his own best friend since childhood. But even they stood slightly apart from him, for today was the day that had haunted Rael's dreams for the past 9 months, the day his daughter would return to the Migrant Fleet.
A gloved three fingered hand rested heavily on the tense admiral's shoulder and the man turned to face his long time friend. "Been a long 9 months eh Rael?" The thick baritone voice grounded out even through the voice filter showing the militant minded Admiral's marine background. Han'Gerrel was a simple man who did not believe in blunting his words or hiding his feelings, perhaps a habit picked up from being a ground pounder for the better parts of two decades. But then so had Rael, so the fretting man understood the intentions behind his friends words.
Rael tried to reply, but could find no words that could express his current state of being and chose to give a jerky nod instead. The hand on his shoulder tightened in a supportive squeeze before falling away.
Rael'Zorah had lost much weight in the past 9 months, parts of his suit visibly sagging away to indicate where muscle and a thin layer of fat had once been. The constant worry for his wayward daughter had caused him to neglect his own health, and had it not been for Shala he would have wasted away even more.
"I left here there Han. Her own damn father left her on that god forsaken ring world! How can I face her?" The pain in his voice could not be hidden by the mask that obstructed his face like that of all other quarians.
"We left her behind Rael." The thick accented voice of Shala'Raan gave away her ancestry from the northern sect of Rannoch, a trait that was still passed on among the crew of ships housing the descendants of the Northerners who had fled their home world over 300 years past. "The decision was not solely yours, we are to blame as much as you. The Migrant Fleet had been in danger and we made the decision to leave our people behind on the construct to ensure the safety of the rest of the Fleet."
Rael hung his head with a sigh. He had heard the argument many times over in the past months and used it a few times himself when his depression was particularly strong. The words rang hollow whenever he thought of his absent daughter who had not yet even gone on her pilgrimage. Leaving those quarians behind on the ring world construct they had stumbled upon had not been a decision hard to make, and in the end it was not that decision that gnawed away at his gut. It was the fact that he had pushed his daughter to excel, to groom her to become the best of the Fleet that had put her in a situation where barely at the tender age of 17 she was assigned to be one of the first people to explore an alien construct due to her prowess in engineering. She had been sent in the first wave of explorers to the damnable construct because of him, and because of him she had to be left behind. Rael had never voiced those thoughts aloud to anyone, not even his closest friend, but secretly he wondered if his wife cursed his name from the afterlife.
'Forgive me Lerinya.' Most left behind on the ring world had perished in the ensuing battle between the humans and the covenant forces that had caused the Migrant Fleet to flee, but a handful had managed to make their way back to the Migrant Fleet with the aid of the humans. Tali'Zorah was the last quarian yet to be returned to the fleet, but her survival had been confirmed by the human's months prior. For whatever reason it had taken her almost half a year after her survival was established for her to make her way back to the Fleet, each day spent away aging Rael by years.
As his daughter approached their home, the weight of his decision haunted him more deeply than it had when he had not known of her survival.
"Tali would understand Rael. She loves the Fleet as much as you and I if not more so. She would have never forgiven us had we stayed because of her and risked the lives of others." Though Han'Gerrel's words rung true, it did little to ease the guilt squeezing the worried father's guts.
Whatever else Han'Gerral was about to say was cut off as the quarantine light above the exit flashed to life, indicating that the decontamination chamber of the Neema had activated. Soft amber light flickered as groans and hisses filled the air. The crowd standing behind the three admirals' murmured restlessly as they prepared to welcome back one of the Fleet's daughters thought to be lost. With a final shuddering groan, the sounds from the 300 year old decontamination chamber ground to a halt. The massive steel doors that could let ten quarians through standing shoulder to shoulder parted with a hiss and a cloud of super heated disinfecting steam. The shadowed figure within stutter stepped for a moment, as if shocked by the amount of people waiting for her at the entryway. Claps and cheers quickly filled the room as quarians celebrated the return of the final member of the expedition to Halo. Tali'Zorah nar Raya was home.