It was a wonderful thing, Kialn believed, to be working as a researcher with the humans. They had such understanding of Forerunner technology and even working understanding of her own, Sangheili technology. Now, they were working to understand the technology of another ancient race, one that neither the humans nor her own people had ever seen before. She shook her head admiringly at the progress that they had made in the two short weeks they had been working on this new, big artifact.
It had been discovered in the edges of a new human colony world called Eden Prime. It had a sleek appearance, like one of the energy swords that her father used during the Human-Covenant war. Though, where the handle would have been there were two giant rings that could and would, if all their theories were correct, revolve. One thing they did knew for certain, it wasn't Forerunner.
"Commander Taylor, I am detecting an energy spike in the artifact," Susan, the human AI announced. That was another reason Kialn enjoyed working with humans, their AIs were so fascinating and powerful. "Gravitation fluctuations are also the affecting the artifact. I am uncertain as to the reasons."
"Helm, activate shields," Commander Taylor's order caused a stir among many of the senior scientist.
"Commander, you can't be serious!" the lead scientist protested. "That could interfere with our readings!"
"The SA council charged me with the safety of you scientist, professor," He looked in Kialn's direction, "all scientists." Kialn firmly pressed her jaws together, another xenophobe. Even with the creation of the Species Assembly five years ago, there were still many beings on all sides that resented the other for the Human-Covenant war. The humans mainly because the role the former Covenant members had in trying to exterminate them. The former Covenant members, well, some of them still agreed with the 'Prophets' declarations. It didn't help their attitude that humans were the Reclaimers. She personally didn't agree with either group, but she understood them.
Twisting her head, she looked at the main holotable displaying the artifact, watching the changes that were taking place. The rings began revolving and a blue ball of energy formed in the center of the spinning rings. Raising her left hand, she activated her Light-Comp, another marvelous human invention that was barely beginning to be popular among the Sangheili worlds. The hard light controls and screen formed around her forearm, forming the main body of the Light-Comp. Linking her Light-Comp to the Shanxi's sensors, she studied the power readings coming off the artifact. "Susan," the human named rolled of her tongue with practiced ease, "are these readings correct."
"Yes Science Master Kialn. It appears that the energy levels are beginning to stabilize. The gravitation fluctuations are also stabilizing. It should be safe to deactivate our shields and approach even closer in a few moments."
"Doctor Lawson," that name gave her a bit of trouble. English still wasn't her greatest strength, but she didn't want to depend on her team members having implants. "What do you think? It certainly isn't Forerunner in design and as far as I can tell it is somehow locked into this orbit of Eden Prem…Prime." She would get it right someday.
His eyes narrowed, staring at the hologram. "How do you know that it's locked in orbit?"
"When we were salvaging High Charity, we had to lock its orbit until we could get enough power plants to bring it back online. I aided in that. That is why I was chosen for this." She tapped a few keys on her Light-Comp. "I compared all the data we have on the artifact and noticed from the position data that it's keeping orbit."
"Hmm. And it doesn't look like a weapon."
"A portal device maybe?" The accented scientist spoke up, Kialn couldn't remember his name. It had been something even harder to pronounce. "Or some form of FTL travel?"
"That is a strong possibility considering explain the gravitation fluctuations." Susan commented.
"Alright people," Doctor Lawson raised his voice, cutting into the discussion. "Enough speculating! Let's get some facts!"
Kialn felt her jaws hanging opening wider and wider. She looked around at everyone who was on the Shanxi's bridge. The other scientist stood still, some with their eyes wide or mouths slightly open. Some of the flight officers, military personnel mainly, had similar expressions. She remembered in the back of her mind this was the human expression for surprise. Somehow, in a week they had figured out how to use the Artifact. It was unlike anything they had ever experienced.
"Susan," Commander Taylor's voice cut through the silence, "what happened?"
"One moment commander. We seem to have been transported to some distance for the Eden Prime system."
"Still working on it Commander. In the meantime I would like to draw your attention to that we are near another structure like the first artifact, and another there is another one on the far side of this star system. All three appear to be active." As Susan spoke, the holotable split to display identical structures to the one they had been studying for the past several weeks.
As if suddenly freed from a stasis field, all the human scientists crowed around the holotable. Kialn strode up behind the huddled scientists, using her superior height to look over their heads. She listened, her jaws grinning in amusement, as the human scientist immediately began throwing around theories about the significance of this find. She tried to keep track of all the theories being espoused, but she was failing. She specialized in practical science and weapon technologies, not theoretical knowledge.
Their view of one of the structures was marred as four objects suddenly appeared around it with flares of streaking light. Kialn tentatively identified the structure on as the further one on other side of the solar system.
"Commander, I am detecting four unknown vessels. They are not matching against any racial profile in my data banks, nor am I detecting any IFFs," Susan announced.
"Lieutenant Choy, assessment." The Sensors Officer hurriedly tapped hard light keys at her station.
"Commander, I agree with Susan. They aren't from any known race."
"First contact protocols everyone. Helm, prep a Cole Protocol jump. Susan, bring up the first contact package and forward it to Lieutenant Hardgrave. Lieutenant, hail them and get ready to send the package. Lieutenant Choy, if they have weapons I want to know about them." A chorus of ayes followed as the bridge crew fingers danced across their consoles.
"Commander Taylor, I—," Doctor Lawson began.
"Doctor, not now!"
"But Commander, this is a momentous—."
"When I have confirmed that they are peaceful, then you can study them all you want." Kialn felt a little sympathy for Doctor Lawson, when she was younger and more impetuous, she had also drawn the ire of one of her commanders.
"Commander, the Unknowns are accelerating toward us."
"Are they armed?" Commander Taylor strode over to her station. Placing a hand on the back of Lieutenant Choy's seat he looked over her shoulder at the display.
"Nothing certain yet. About 200 meters long. Possible missile ports and point defense weapon ports. If they're armed they might not be able to scratch us through are shields."
"Commander," Susan's hologram appeared over its pedestal, "those ships are giving off similar gravitational fluctuations as the artifact."
"Meaning that they are either the makers of the artifacts, or they have copied the technology."
"They aren't the makers." Commander Taylor and Susan both turned to face Kialn, she saw Commander Taylor raise an eyebrow. "Remember, my people have based our technologies on the Forerunners for hundreds of years and many times we have simply incorporated the technology onto our own designs without understanding it. Those ships are a very different design from the artifact." Commander Taylor nodded at her assessment. Rather stiffly too, in her mind. She relaxed her shoulders, he may be a xenophobe but at least he is willing to hear reason.
"Commander!" Lieutenant Hardgrave
"The unknowns haven't responded to any of the hails."
"Have you tried everything?"
"No sir, they're half an hour out of radio contact."
Doctor Lawson hurriedly stepped forward, placing a hand on the Commander shoulder. "They may not have superluminal communications. After all, we have only had it for the past eight years."
"They've gone FTL!" Lieutenant Choy yelled, cutting off any response the Commander could have given.
"Raise shields!" Kialn head twitched towards the front of the bridge in surprise.
"They're here!" Spying the main tactical display, she was able to confirm Lieutenant Choy's announcement for herself.
Commander Taylor hurried to his chair, barking orders, "steady everyone. Lieutenant, send the first contact package." Kialn noted with a part of her mind the muttering scientist had fallen silent. Tension filled the air, as if two swords masters stood facing each other, blades poised ready to strike.
"WEAPONS FIRE!" Kialn felt the Shanxi shudder faintly under her faintly as some of the kinetic force leaked through the shields.
"Helm, Cole Protocol! Get us out of here!"
The Shanxi shuddered under a fresh broadside. Thankfully, the stars in front of the ship seemed to disappear as a purple black portal opened. Kialn felt her jaws relax as they escaped into the black void of slipspace, while around her sighs echoed around the bridge.
"We're safe, for now," Commander Taylor slammed his fist onto the arm of his chair. "Helm, the moment we leave slipspace, plot us a course back to Eden Prime. We need to warn the SA Council and rally the USA forces. Comm, prepare a preliminary report and send it as soon as you can." He looked around until he was facing her, "First you people, and now these guys."
To all those who have been falling Echoes of the Past, fear not, it will continue. I just really wanted to put this idea out there. I will be continuing Echoes of the Past and I may begin a rewrite of Memories of a Stranger real soon.
Before anyone comments, as far as I know no fan really knows what Mass Relay's do when they are activated. So I just had this particular Primary relay pair turn on together since they are linked. That is why the Turians attacked even though they research team did not turn it on in front of them.
Comments, questions, desires for things you would like to see or have happen; please leave a review. I am open to suggestions and thoughts.