Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect nor Honorverse. I am merely throwing the two worlds together. Any original characters, however, are mine.
Apparently from the reviews I've gotten, I wasn't technical enough. Sorry about that guys, but I'd rather not be as technically focused as Weber is, and I'll admit to not having bought the technical books that go with Honorverse so most of my tech info I got from the Honorverse wikia, which isn't as helpful as I thought it was. Nor do I want to go the path of Halo/ME fics were it's a constant one-sided massacre. The battle wasn't much of a battle, more of a skirmish so that each side could get a taste of the other's tech. I don't know if I'll be sticking to one bridge at the beginning though. I'm saving that for the Normandy, I might skip between several bridges and I might not, it all depends on how it flows for me.
Gah! I feel so stupid, I went back to reread the fic and I realized I made a continuity error in chapter 2! I'm going to fix it and reupdate it right after I finish this chapter!
Also sorry for the delay, our cat pulled a Houdini and hasn't been seen since. We recently got a new pup, and I'm staying awake all night to make sure she doesn't wreck the house while everyone else sleeps.
Chapter 3: Before the Storm
Shala'Raan was sitting in her cabin, this was the third cabin she'd been interred in since leaving the Tonbay, and the second one on a human ship. It took her quite some time to get used to the spaciousness of the cabin she was given, so used to having to share her quarters with the rest of her family. She found that these humans had very slow vessels, only capable of anywhere from 500 to 800 gravities in acceleration. With one exception, the ship she currently was on was a prototype vessel that was faster than anything she'd ever seen. She'd never heard of a ship that could instantaneously move at the speed of light, nor a vessel that could travel twelve light years in a matter of hours, and yet here she was on a ship that could do both.
She was also grateful that she had forced Daro'Xen to bring at least six months worth of rations. Daro'Xen had assumed that since these creatures looked so similar to Quarians, that they were dextro-amino-acid based sentients, when they were not. True, she didn't like the protein sludge that they had to eat, but it was better than starving; she didn't know how long she and her entourage would be in human space. Her call had already saved them from the embarrassment of having to send for food. Though she wished she had asked for the Idenna to stay instead of letting the vessel set up a rendezvous point with the Migrant Fleet. At least they had the Bavea, one of Idenna's scout vessels, to serve their medical and dietary needs. The scout ship was docked in the Prometheus' boat bay.
From what she'd been able to gleam from an over eager and very excited astrophysicist was that the humans had colonized a vast region of space. Oddly enough, they were a very politically diverse group, with over two thousand separate star nations, something that completely had baffled her. Not only that, but they had come into contact with at least twelve other races, none of whom were as technologically advanced as themselves. She didn't think that the Asari were even half as advanced as these people. From what Daro'Xen had discovered, a discovery that almost had the young admiral arrested for espionage, was that these people used miniature mass accelerators to launch their missiles into space. She hadn't even thought it was possible to have a viable mass accelerator weapon that was that small! And then to make matters worse, the captain had introduced her to the concept of pulsers, hand held mass accelerator weapons!
Still, she mused, she couldn't help but feel a little nervous as the ship flew towards its final destination. She was supposed to start talks with the Queen of Torch, who had just happened to be visiting Shanxi for the birth of her youngest great-grandchild.
"I can't believe you lost her! " Zaeed winced as the captain of Lara's Own shouted into his ear. It wasn't his fault that he had lost the old bat. The cunning old crone had given him the slip with the dreaded women's restroom trick, one that he should have seen coming. He just hadn't expected a woman who was almost 260 years old to be the one pulling it on him. She had seemed so nice, so sweet. He should have known a woman as old and powerful as Berry Zilwicki would have known how to easily evade her young bodyguards, the woman was the daughter of Anton Zilwicki, the greatest spy of 20th century Diaspora, and had almost two and a half centuries of practice at escaping her keepers!
"I didn't know she was the type to give me the goddamn slip," the young soldier grunted as he peered through the crowd, Jessie, his trusty pulse rifle slung across his back. That bitchy old gun had given Zaeed Massani, formerly V-23b/297-2/16, the keys to his freedom, and so he kept the blood thirsty old bitch on hand at all times.
"Slip or not, we just got a communiqué from Commodore Hackett. We've got incoming alien dignitaries that want to speak with our head of government, and if you can't find her before they get here, it's your ass on the line Massani!"
Zaeed scowled as he continued to work his way through the crowds. All he had to really do was find the most crowded shop on the plaza, that would be where the Queen was. It was something of a Torch phenomenon, no matter where the Queen went she was never unaccompanied because her subjects were so damn devoted to her. He knew that if he had been serving in any other star nation, they'd string him up for losing the Queen, but nobody would dare try and assassinate the Queen on a Torch planet, because if they did then they were dead meat. He'd seen the vid of it happening once; an assailant had tried to kill the Queen as she was eating ice cream at her favorite small restaurant, but the crowd had surged the man heedless of their own losses and had literally torn him limb from limb in their rage.
He stopped and looked over at a nearby baby clothing store before determinedly heading in that direction. There were far too many patrons for a store of that size, over sixty people milling patiently outside it, a protective vanguard of the Queen who was probably shopping inside.
Berry Zilwicki was calmly perusing the baby clothing isle for her as of yet unborn great grandchild. Personally, she wasn't fond of the boy's father and had made a point that the man would have no access to the Zilwicki fortune if he didn't get off his lazy behind and find himself a job. No, she wasn't a fan of Ronald Taylor, and she knew that the feeling was mutual.
She could not help the smirk that formed on her face as her young bodyguard resumed his place in the background. Zaeed was a good boy, a bit crude, but very willing to do his job. A bit too willing, his presence could be a bit smothering at times, so she got her revenge on him by slipping away. "Zaeed, stop being a wallflower and carry my shopping bag," she called as she continued to look at baby clothes.
She heard a bleek of amusement from the cream colored treecat lounging on a nearby rack. She might have given Zaeed the slip, but she would never be able to get away from Runs-in-Shadows. The six-limbed feline was her assigned treecat bodyguard, something every dignitary in the Grand Alliance had to put up with. At least Runs-in-Shadows, or Alexis as Berry liked to call her, had a sense of humor and had willingly gone along with Berry's plan.
She knew that it was necessary to have bodyguards, goodness knows how often her husband, and former captain of her guard, tried to instill in her a sense of her importance, but she was born a street rat and even now still remembered eking out a living in Old Chicago's sewers. Even being elevated to being Queen of a star nation would ever make her forget her early years, and the independence she learned then.
And the thought of Zaeed or Alexis dying for her like so many had already unsettled her. "Come along Zaeed," she said picking out a rather fetching blue baby tunic out of the rack as she patiently waited for the hardcore marine to comply.
"Ma'am, you're needed at the Duke's palace. We've got incoming dignitaries..and they want to speak with you ma'am," Zaeed ineffectually tried to get his Queen on the government's schedule. Unfortunately, getting Queen Berry to do anything she didn't want to was like herding cats.
"Yes yes I've heard. They just reached the outer system and it'll take them a good twelve hours to get here. Plenty of time to get a little shopping done don't you think?" she asked giving the man a warm smile and extending her shopping bag filled hand. The marine grumbled petulantly at her and her smile only grew as the man grudgingly accepted the pink shopping bags.
"There are so many ships," Shala said awed as Prometheus made it's n-space transition. It had taken her awhile to discover that the dreadnoughts that she and the others had met were actually nothing more than light and heavy cruisers, and she could see why now.
"Those are mostly made up of merchantmen and civilian craft, if you look over here you can see the Torch Navy's 3rd fleet," Andrew Davis said as he highlighted the ships.
The crafts took Shala's breath away. While they all shared the same basic cylindrical design, the highlighted superdreadnoughts were the size of the Destiny Ascension, and there were ten of them! Around them was a fleet of other ships, both stealth and combat types. "So many combat vessels..but what is this…LAC Carrier?" she asked confused as she looked at the name. They were the size of dreadnoughts, but were listed as something else entirely, and their design was definitely different than the design of the dreadnoughts that flanked them.
"Ah yes, well you see Light Attack Craft, or LACs are crewed by five to ten personnel. They're relatively cheap to build and every navy tends to have hundreds to thousands of them. The downside is that the LAC is not hyper capable and so was suited for system defense, but during the First Haven-Manticoran War, the Manticorans developed the LAC Carrier. It would house the LACs and carry them to battle, serving as the mothership. As such, LAC Carriers are not heavily armed, and usually stay away from the fighting after they launch their LAC squadrons."
"I see," and she did. The ship design was ingenious. To use a dedicated vessel to launch their formerly restricted craft allowed the military to increase their fighting power. Just the mere concept of a dedicated carrier ship would be a boon to the Migrant Fleet, even if they had to jury rig a cruiser or something to carry all their fighters. Still these humans were a very odd species, their fighters were the size of gunboats, yet from the way that Andrew was prattling on, those same fighters were designed with the ability to cripple Dreadnoughts and Superdreadnoughts.
Her eyes widened as two fleets suddenly entered the system. They both bore signs as being friendlies, but one fleet had thirty more Superdreadnoughts and the other had ten. "Who are they?" she said as she looked at the new vessels. The fleet in the system had just quadrupled in strength if this was what she was seeing.
"Reinforcements. The Captain sent out the Case Zulu so we'll be fortifying the system. The larger fleet would be Torch's Home Fleet, the other would be Torch's Fourth Fleet. The First and Second Fleets should be arriving in the next few days, and if Torch's navy can't cut it, the Grand Alliance is going to lend us their Fifth Fleet as well."
"And how many ships are in the Grand Alliance's fifth fleet?" she asked awed at the sheer size. If Home Fleet was their largest, and the other Torch fleets held ten capital ships each, how many ships did they have?
"We'll have another hundred SDs and their supporting screens by the end of next week."
"Kheela," she whispered to herself. 170 Superdreadnoughts to fight off the Turians measly 30 dreadnoughts, and that was if the Turians sent their entire fleet. They were going to utterly break the Turian military if the Turians attacked.
Andrew grinned as he heard the woman's shocked awe. True most of what he told her was information he shouldn't have been privy to, considering that he was just the third ranking member of the science expedition, but it paid well to have married into one of Manticore's leading families.
Of course the Captain could have jumped within the hyper-limit, but the necessary stop at the Hyper-Com station required them to exit hyperspace outside the hyper-limit, and Captain Rocha thought that the hours it would take to reach Shanxi at sub-light speeds would give both the government, and their alien guests, time to prepare themselves for the coming dialogue.
"Can someone explain to me how the premier navy in the galaxy just got their asses handed to them by a bunch of primitive savages?" Primarch Praeconinus bellowed as he looked at the assembled Turians before him. The Primarch of Invictus was in a rage, he had been absolutely humiliated and the losses he took were horrible.
"I take full responsibility of the losses we sustained Primarch," Bellona Censorious said as she hung her head in shame. She'd lost half her battle fleet and had only managed to inflict minimal losses on the enemy in return.
"No…it could not be helped," Praeconinus continued eyes still steely, but his demeanor much calmer now. "You had no idea what sort of weapons they had. Shielded torpedoes that fire gamma beams…missiles with laser warheads…if I didn't see the combat data I wouldn't have believed you," he said as he sat back his visage drained now. "We must get the fleet gathered..a race with this sort of technology, they could become a threat far worse than the Krogan ever were," he muttered.
"There is some good news sir," Bellona tried to interject.
"Oh and what would that be?"
"Their ships..they may be built on a massive scale, but they are extraordinarily slow…and from our readings they can't jump into FTL within the gravity well of large celestial bodies."
"I…I see…so you propose we adopt Asari combat tactics when dealing with these aliens…fly in from multiple vectors, gets our shots in and bug out."
"Yes sir, and I would have our dreadnoughts stay far out of their range, at least three astronomical units out, or on the other side of the system if necessary. They seem to have some trouble initialing detecting our projectiles, but they knew we were launching something. If we can fire outside of their sensor envelope, then we can deal far more damage without any risk to the dreadnoughts."
"Yes…that would be the best way to do it. Well Bellona, it wasn't a total loss. You managed to get us some valuable intel on these aliens. I'll have to contact Primarch Fedorian and the others and see if we can take these bastards out before they decide to invade us."
"Councilor Russus," Councilor Tevos said as she made her way towards the red marked Turian who was the current councilor for his species.
"Ah Councilor Tevos, nice to see you outside of the Assembly hall," he said as he sat back in his seat. He was enjoying a light luncheon on the Presidium and motioned for the Asari Councilor to join him.
Tevos sat next to the other councilor and waved away the waiter who tried to take her order. "Russus…Moeror I have received some troubling reports."
"Ah you must be talking about the fleet detachments. We're sending them back to the home system for refit. We've recently developed some new technology that the Primarchs decided should be implemented on our ships post haste. I'm sorry to say, but that'll leave the burden of protecting Citadel space to the Asari and Salarian fleets until the refit is complete," he explained as he took a few bites of his meal.
"Are you or are you not attempting to wipe out the Migrant Fleet?" Tevos asked as she looked at the other man.
Russus leaned back and let out a laugh. "Wipe out the Migrant Fleet why on earth would the Hierarchy bother with vagrants?"
"If not that, then why is the Migrant Fleet and the Turian fleet consolidating their forces around Relay 314?"
Russus glowered but stayed silent, his mind working quickly. The Asari were on to what was happening, it was conceivable that they would try to prevent the conflict between the Turian Fleet and the Unknowns, and he wasn't going to tip off their hand in an attempt to placate his fellow Councilor. He himself didn't like that the Turian military was ready to go to war with an unknown race, but the knowledge of a Turian defeat could not be known. Their position as the Galaxy's police force must remain in place, the knowledge of Turian dreadnoughts being destroyed could not reach the lesser races, so the Unknowns needed to be dealt with quickly and their technology acquired before another race could get their hands on it. "There's nothing you need to worry about Tevos, the Quarians just tried to illegally open a relay and we're making sure they don't try again," he lied.
"I see…well then I'll leave you to your meal," Tevos said as she stood up and made her way towards the elevators. This wasn't over, she would get down to the bottom of this, and hopefully before STG did.
"Zaeed do you think this outfit makes me look a bit too pretentious?" Berry asked as she looked herself in the mirror. Her poor-horrified and possibly traumatized bodyguard shook his head in the negative. It was one thing to be the Queen's bodyguard, but quite the other to be asked his opinion of her state of dress.
"No Ma'am, you look as regal as ever Ma'am," Zaeed said quickly, shooting a glare at the snickering tree-cat lounging on a nearby chair. Alexis was a damn hedonist, and a sadist. He should have known when the cat had told him the Queen had wanted to see him that it would be some sort of trap. As much as he loved her, the Queen was too much like an annoying grandma that liked tweaking his nose whenever she goddamn could, and he as her bodyguard had to take it. He was a soldier, not a fashion designer damn it!
Alexis bleeked her amusement before signing to the queen. Too much purple. It makes you look like a plumb.
"Why my dear Alexis, are you calling me fat?" Berry asked as she turned to look at the cream colored 'cat.
Ask me no questions and I will tell no lies my lady. The 'cat signed before giving her a toothy grin.
"I see," Berry said swatting at the 'cat with her fan, the 'cat chittered as it dodged her blow.
"Ma'am shouldn't we start heading towards the Duke's Palace?" Zaeed asked once more.
Berry frowned as she looked herself in the mirror. She had aged well, her wrinkles had given her a more regal look, but was not so severe as to prevent her from seeming motherly. "I think a change of venue is in order. The Aliens and I will have our legal chat, but only after I've shown them some of our culture. Wouldn't you agree Zaeed?"
Zaeed hung his head. "Yes Ma'am." He said, though he was already dreading the chewing out he was going to get. Queen Berry wanted to have a bit of fun, and even he could recognize that she was trying to soften up the aliens by being overly friendly, rather than imposing. Captain Rocha's and Commodore Hackett's reports showed that the Quarian people were in desperate need. Shunned, a lone, and desparate, and if he knew Queen Berry then it was only a matter of time before the Quarians found a home, because his Queen was not the type to leave the desperate unattended to. After all, Torch was born from the dregs of society and had become a shining example to the rest of the galaxy. No matter what, Queen Berry was going to make a good impression on these alien visitors.
Slave Lines: Utilizing enhanced genetic manipulation, Manpower Inc. has been able to provide slaves that fit for any conceivable role. These genetic slaves are bred into specific lines, each line specializing in certain genetic traits best suited for desired roles. The lines are as follows:
C-line: A popular line of slaves made with stunning beauty, usually utilized as sex toys.
D-line: A cheap line of slaves made with little genetic engineering for general use.
E-line: A cheap line of slaves made with little genetic engineering for general use.
F-line: A specialized line of slaves developed for heavy and intensive labor purposes.
J-line: A specialized line of slaves developed for technological work.
K-line: A highly diverse line of slaves developed as personal servants with tasks ranging from housekeeping to acrobatics.
V-line: A caste of slaves developed for heavy combat and bodyguard work, the main source of Mesan ground forces.
Hyper Communication Hub: Developed from the technologies utilized in the Ghost Rider platforms, the Hyper Communication Hub allows faster than light communication for all members of the major human factions. By utilizing grav-lance technology a Communication Hub can send information to several communications buoys in hyperspace, thereby allowing near instantaneous communication. Unfortunately, reception deteriorates the farther one system is away from the other.