A/N: Hello again! And another chapter of TDS is right here! Enjoy.
P.S. To everyone worried about the other ships,don't worry, they'll be turning up soon enough.
3: Politics, How Tiresome!
The boxy cruiser-sized vessel followed the Alliance dreadnought into the docking bay before breaking off and entering an adjacent one. There were no special arrangements other than a C-Sec squad and Spectre, despite the alleged First Contact scenario.
Every dock in the Citadel had universal docking mechanisms; many speculated it was because of the vast number of species thought to be under the care of the Protheans when they built the station. Thus, any ship from any species was able to dock with any bay in the Presidium ring without difficulty.
The Forward Unto Dawn drifted into the bay and was clamped in position. As soon as it was stationary, the hangar bay opened and the small team exited.
The Spectre, an Asari named Aleina, stepped forward to greet the newcomers. To her and her squad, it was rather clear that the two bipedal beings were of different species. She had never seen the four-jawed one before. The larger, armoured being looked human or Asari in shape, although she had only seen Krogan grow to that size. They were followed by what appeared to be a drone of some kind.
"Greetings. My name is Aleina. I'm with the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance. My squad and I were assigned to escort you to the Council Chambers. Admiral Hernandez and his personal escort will be meeting us shortly," she said, expecting either the tall four-jawed being or the armoured behemoth to answer.
She was, therefore surprised and alarmed when the drone answered instead, "Greetings, Spectre Aleina. It's a pleasure to meet you. I am 05-032 Mendicant Bias. You may, however, call me Bias. My companions are-"
Mendicant Bias never got to finish his statement; for at that moment, every C-Sec officer drew their weapons and pointed them at Bias, accompanied by shouts of, "AI!"
In response, both the Arbiter and the Chief drew their weapons. John drew his MA5C while Thel drew his Carbine and levelled them at the officers.
"My, a little trigger-happy, are we?" Cortana remarked in John's helmet, eliciting a grunt of annoyance from the supersoldier.
"AIs aren't allowed in Citadel territory and are a threat to all organic life! Decommission it at once!" a Turian officer shouted.
The Chief lowereed his gun and took 2 long strides right up to the C-Sec officer, who involuntarily flinched at his size. The Human and Asari next to him both took a step back.
The Master Chief leaned forward, emphasizing his height and growled, "Make me."
A tense standoff ensued, before the Turian conceded and replied, "Fine. But when it decides to stab you in the back, I won't stop it. Follow us."
As the group walked towards the Council, Admiral Hernandez and his team of N7 marines joined up with them and continued on their journey. Shortly after, the delegation arrived outside the Council Chambers to find the newly appointed human ambassador, Donnel Udina, already waiting outside.
"Finally you've arrived. The Council has been waiting for us to explain this mess. Follow me," he grumbled, his trademark scowl plastered on his face.
"Ah, here are the crew of the 'Mystery Vessel'. I wonder, is there anything else the Alliance is keeping from us? Like the discovery of a new species?" the Turian Councillor, Sparatus, sneered as soon as the delegation arrived.
"This is an outrage! The Systems Alliance has absolutely nothing to do with this!" Udina declared passionately.
"Then would you care to explain why they speak Human Common?" Sparatus shot back, "Besides, I thought the Systems Alliance was the representative for all Humanity."
"Hang on here," Hernandez broke up the argument, "I am sure you've received the reports of the STG team, Councillors. Their report should prove that we are as clueless as you as to who these are. Why don't you confirm it with our guests?"
"Well said Admiral," Tevos, the Asari Councillor replied, seizing the chance to break up the argument between Sparatus and Udina; turning her attention to the Spartan, she asked, "Okay, now can you please tell us who you are?"
The Arbiter stepped forward, "Noble Councillors, I am Arbiter Thel'Vadam, Kaidon of the state of Vadam. My companions are the Spartan Master Chief of the UNSC and the Oracle Mendicant Bias," Thel replied, "I am a Sangheili and he is a Human. What the ambassador said just now is correct. We are not from this dimension, so you would not have encountered my kind."
"Alright… Now... Master Chief, can you explain why you are able to speak Human Common and yet not be affiliated with the Systems Alliance?" Tevos continued, "In fact, are you really a human?"
"I am not an expert in this. Perhaps I should let someone else do the explaining to you," John replied, "As for my species, I am completely human."
With that, the Chief yanked Cortana and tapped the chip on the holographic podium, allowing her to transfer her consciousness to the Citadel systems.
"Amazing. Technology capable of storing VI in chip which can be interfaced with hardsuit incredible. Remote transfer of data into terminal impressive." Valern immediately perked up at this.
Cortana rolled her eyes, "My name's Cortana, and I swear, if I get referred to as 'VI' one more time here…"
"AI!" Valern shrieked, and promptly all weapons were trained on the podium.
"You dare bring an AI into the Citadel? Are you insane? It'll kill us! Decommission it at once!" Sparatus shouted, gesturing wildly.
"When are you going to get over your paranoia of AIs? Just because someone watched too many horror vids doesn't mean every AI is going to try and kill you," Cortana replied, "And shooting the podium won't help. Unlike all your primitive AIs, I don't need a quantum matrix to live. If you shoot this podium I'll just sit around in the Citadel systems and wait for the Chief to find another port to insert my data chip."
"See? She's dangerous!" Sparatus continued, his voice rising, "Get C-Sec and the STG to purge it!"
"Excuse me? If I was going to kill everyone, this station would be nothing but debris by now. There are sufficient explosive substances to blow up this entire station, all within my virtual reach." Cortana elaborated while examining her holographic nails, "Besides, I doubt your entire STG would be able to make a dent in my systems. But I think we all are missing the point here. I'm supposed to explaining how we got here, was I not?"
"Indeed, please continue." Valern conceded with a shaky voice, his scientific curiosity temporarily overcoming his paranoia.
"Well, you see, the crew of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn are from an alternate universe where humanity are on the receiving end of a genocide campaign. I, along with Mendicant Bias, have theorised that due to the power cut to our FTL portal, we were transported across dimensions to this universe."
"And you expect us to believe that?" Sparatus scoffed, "You're an advanced AI. You could've just made all that up."
"Not necessarily. Salarian scientists have theorised the existence of multiple alternate realities. Possible for them to have jumped dimensions." Valern countered.
"Anyways, if you don't believe me, you can always use this 'Asari mind meld', as you call it, on the Chief to determine whether we speak the truth," Cortana suggested.
Tevos gasped, "Why haven't we thought of that? Yes there is no way you can lie to us that way. We can certainly do that to find out the truth," turning to the Spectre in the delegation, she asked, "Aleina, would please meld with… the Chief to determine the truth?"
Meanwhile, John opened a private comm. channel with Cortana, "Is this really necessary?"
"Yes. I don't know whether Thel is mentally trained enough for this, or whether it would be an insult to his honour; you know how Sangheili are. The Asari melding does not apply to non-Organic organisms, so that leaves you. And don't worry, she won't be able to see anything you don't want her to see. Just block it out."
The Chief grunted in reply, "Fine."
He hesitantly removed his helmet, eliciting gasps of astonishment and/or shock from everyone present. There was, without a doubt, a human underneath the armour. His unnaturally pale face was scarred in several places, and stubble had begun to grow on his chin. His short brown hair was unkempt, a result of spending months of battle in his armour, and his bright blue eyes shone with cold fierceness and determination. Yet, his face was solid and emotionless as a rock, his features micromanaged in a way only a highly trained soldier could do.
Aleina swallowed her apprehension and asked, "Are you willing to do this? If you are unwilling, you may be seriously hurt." Or I would be, she thought as she noted his height.
He nodded, "Do it."
"Very well," the Spectre said, her eyes going dark as she cried, "Embrace eternity!"
Aleina watched as Humanity advanced on Earth, known there as Erde-Tyrene, ages ago. However, there were a great deal more variety of species present than on Earth in her universe. She watched as the various species allied themselves, and made a push out into the stars. She senses a small tingle of curiosity from the Chief, but she ignores it, dismissing it as him simply wanting to see his genetic history personally.
She watched as the various races squabbled with each other and fractured, warring among themselves. Then one race swept over the others, unifying them under one banner, based on the planet Charum Hakkor.
She then watched as first contact is made with another race, the San'Shyuum. They create an Alliance.
She watches as first contact is made with a humanoid race known as the Forerunners. They begin a cold war.
Then disaster strikes: The Flood. She watches in horror as the parasite devours worlds upon worlds. Then Humanity starts pushing into Forerunner territory in order to keep their weakened war machine running. The Forerunners counterattacked.
Unable to withstand, Humanity is defeated and devolved. She is horrified at this act, which made the Krogan Genophage look like charity.
She watched as Humanity got back on their feet and strove forward, advancing their technology back to the steam age. However, their culture and weapons remained low-tech.
Then, disaster strikes again; a pulse of energy hits Earth, killing all life there. However, she soon sees how the Forerunners re-seeded the Earth with Humanity.
She watched as history mirrors that of the Earth in her universe. Then, in 2148, history begins to divulge. She watches as Humanity once again wars against itself; no Element Zero was found on Mars.
The UNSC was founded. Aleina is amazed as Humanity discovers slipspace, launching colony ships to uncharted systems, beginning the Golden Age of Humanity.
The Insurrection is begun due to unfair treatment of the Outer Colonies. She begins to sense memories being withheld, but doesn't push. She can tell it is a sensitive topic.
Then, all of a sudden, one colony, Harvest, goes dark. She watches as Humanity is faced with genocide, a "holy war" waged by a conglomerate of aliens known as the Covenant. She watches as the Chief's Spartans are deployed to fight, and how they are pushed back every time.
She watches in shock as the Covenant glass entire planets and kill civilians without discrimination. She watches as Human naval forces sacrificed themselves to ensure civilians made it off the planet. This causes her to admire the tenacity and sacrifice of this version of Humanity in the face of overwhelming odds.
Then, she watches as Reach, which she senses holds some significance in the Chief's heart, is glassed by the Covenant, and feels his pain as he watches, knowing his Spartans are down there. The following months go by in a blur, only snippets, small glimpses are shown.
She watches as the Covenant is fractured and the Separatists turn and help Humanity. She watches as the silver-armoured Sangheili currently in the Council Chambers kills the one responsible for the entire war, and as they escape—flying through the portal and into this universe.
Before she breaks the connection, she senses a thought from the Chief, asking her to keep what she saw secret. Shocked from what she was witness to in his mind and predicting the potential backlash to this, she agrees to his request before severing their connection.
Aleina gasped as she broke the connection, falling onto her back and attempting to regain her breath. John also looked slightly shaken, although he did an extremely good job of hiding it.
"Well, Aleina? What did the melding confirm?" Councillor Tevos asked, curiosity seeping through her voice.
Aleina stumbled a bit, before turning to the Council, "Honoured Councillors, what the AI has said is true."
This elicited murmurs from everyone present.
"In fact, his version of Humanity has been through tribulations which would make the Rachni Wars and Krogan Rebellions look like petty fights between children," she declared.
This caused the murmuring to turn into full-blown debate and discussion. This also elicited a scowl from the Turian Councillor.
"We all know genetic memory never lies," Aleina continued, "and what his genetic memory tells me confirms everything. He is indeed from another universe."
"Okay…" Tevos began hesitantly, "Now that that is settled, what do you intend to do?"
"Well, our ship has too much sensitive information to be shared with anyone, so we will remain as an independent party. Also, you impose too many unreasonable conditions in order for us to join you," the Arbiter stated, "But we cannot afford to operate by ourselves. Once we come to a final decision, though, we will inform you."
John, now with his helmet back on, nodded in agreement.
Tevos nodded in acceptance of their decision, declared, "If that is all, I declare this meeting adjourned. If you wish to tour the Citadel, Spectre Aleina will be your guide."
Aleina nodded as the delegation proceeded to leave the Council Chambers. Unknown to everyone, a shadowy figure was watching from the shadows.
As it turned to leave, it activated his comm., "Eyes-1, this is Shadow-1. Target is confirmed to be a human from another dimension. Orders?"
"Tail him. If the opportunity comes to confront him alone, seize it to convince him to join our cause. He has a lot to offer to Humanity."
"Yes, sir. Shadow-1 out."
A/N: Uh oh... It looks like Cerbereus is getting involved. Anyways, I'm delaying the surprise (can't say what it is, now can I?) for the first true battle in this story. Still... it's bloodshed and Arby-Chief badassery, people!
Now, few things...
First off, the Council is already informed of the entire thing at Earth, thanks to the STG captain and Hernandez's communiques. Therefore, there are no "WTF are you" moments, until next chapter that is. And Cerbereus knows because, as usual, it has moles everywhere.
Next, the reason why Aleina could see prehistoric Humanity's history is because she's viewing his genetic memory, which is like the entire history of his species. And we all know how old Humanity is in Halo.
Lastly, the idea for the mind meld is based completely on Freedom Guard's story Mass Effect X Halo: Spartan Dawn. In fact, a couple of themes in this story were inspired by said story. Keyword being "inspired", because, as you will see, I'm going to make it a bit more... balanced (or unbalanced, depends on your view) and chaotic. I am above plagerism. In fact, I detest stories which copy entire chapters and tweak only a few words before the author claims it as their own.
Well, now that that's outta my system, I'll conclude my AN here. Till next chapter!