Author's Notes: For those of you who have come over from my Halo/SW fic "The Bow and the Gun", welcome, and get ready for one shit-storm of action and… no, actually. There will be massive curbstomps and the like, but the large majority of this story will be political maneuvering and vigilante justice, courtesy of the crew of the Normandy. (For those of you who have not, read chapters 1-5 of my Halo/SW crossover, as it actually sets the stage for this.)
To be clear, I will NOT be buffing Citadel technology. They might get more advanced tech sooner, and they might build more ships, but they WON'T be getting anything that doesn't already exist in the ME universe.
Same goes for the UNSC and Sangheili Empire. They won't get anything that doesn't already exist in some form in the Halo universe.
This story starts pre-ME, and will continue on until ME3. All canon characters will make a showing in one form or another.
Also, if you were wondering about the title… well, this is Mass Effect, what do you think is going to happen?
That being said, enjoy!
List of suggested music to play while reading
Days are Numbered-Black Veil Brides
Rock Anthem for Saving the World-Martin O'Donnel
Archangel-Two Steps from Hell
Chapter 1: Scrolling Introduction
[[January 15th, 2588-The UNSC and the Sangheili Empire begin a joint colonization effort of a new galaxy, which became accessible through ancient Forerunner Slipspace gates. Upon arrival, they find a system which is uncannily similar to the Sol system. Colonization begins, with the Earth-lookalike planet being used as a base. It is named Terra.]]
[[December 30th, 2588-Full industrialization of Terra is completed. The planet now sports four artificial rings, which are used as orbital shipyards. 1,000 ODPs orbit the planet.]]
[[January 16th, 2589-The UNSC and Sangheili Empire colonization forces are granted sovereignty from their respective governments, due to distance. They decide to form the Systems Alliance, which is governed by a council of Humans, Sangheili, Kig-Yar, Unngoy, and Mgalekgolo. Two individuals from each species are on the council.]]
[[March 25th, 2589-With colonization well under way in hundreds of other systems, the Systems Alliance prioritizes the reinforcement of all inner colonies. Outer colonies are left out in the dust in terms of defense for the time being. A heavily damaged complex is found on the fourth planet in the Sol system. It is too heavily demolished for much data to be gathered, but excavation yields three notable items. The first is what appears to be a data obelisk of sorts, which utilizes a telepathic field to transfer data. Unfortunately, the obelisk is not calibrated for Humans, and fries the brain of the scientist who tries to use it. Running low on power, the obelisk shuts down, and cannot be brought back online. The second item are the remains of an ancient spacecraft, nearly 50,000 years old. The computer systems onboard are completely incompatible with all Systems Alliance tech, and rebuff all attempts to study them. The main reactor is out of whatever fuel was used to power it. The third item is a large cache of what some scientists have dubbed Element Zero, or "Eezo". It is a mineral that releases Dark Matter when exposed to an electrical current. Even though the scientific community is intrigued, the substance is declared hazardous, and is locked up as a result.]]
[[June 17th, 2589-A large, damaged and inoperable tuning-fork shaped object is discovered encased in a sphere of ice out in far orbit of the Terra system. When all attempts to study the object are met with failure, the Alliance encases the object in a metal shell, deeming the Dark Matter core to be too dangerous.]]
[[February 4th, 2590-The Systems Alliance begins to colonize the planet Shanxi. In the same system, an artificial construct is found. It is an intact version of the tuning-fork shaped object that was found in the Sol system. When an AI attempted to access the near-dormant computer systems, it activated. It was identified as a method of FTL travel, only slightly faster than modern Slipspace drives. Seeing as the Systems Alliance has no purpose for these objects, an attempt was made to deactivate it. That was not possible, and the device itself prevented the construction of a metal casing. All attempts to destroy the construct are hindered by the construct itself. The scientific community dubs the construct a "Mass Relay" due to its mass-altering properties, and a token force of one Cruiser and two Frigates is assigned to guard the device as a precaution. (Footnote: A Systems Alliance Officer called the FTL-Relay "Scientific Bullshit of the highest degree." According to our AIs, such technology shouldn't even be possible.)]]
[April 14th, 2590&%$**#(#... 4,14, 2157 CE-Migrant Fleet Cruiser Tayyo, in FTL transit]
"Put that fire out, you bosh'tet, before it roasts our secondary generators!"
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya shouted at one of the acting crewmembers of the Tayyo as he ran around with the others trying to fix the damage to the badly ravaged vessel. Bulkheads were torn open and fires spewed from crippled systems as damage reports streamed in on the Engineering section's consoles. The Eezo Drive Core, which was already patchwork, struggled to stay operational. Tali frantically mashed her fingers against the console's controls, attempting to maintain the containment field. If it collapsed, the entire ship would go up like dry tinder.
"What's the status on our engines," a scratchy voice came over the comm. It was the Tayyo's captain, Suma'Narea vas Tayyo. His voice sounded strained and tired.
"We're doing our best," Tali reported, "but those Batarians did a number on the ship. The heat sinks took the worst of it, and our Static Discharge vanes are nearing maximum capacity. We can give you a maximum of one minute in FTL. After that, we have to drop out, or the discharge will fry us all."
"Acknowledged," Suma wearily replied, "keep me updated."
On the bridge of the aging Quarian cruiser, the captain of the Tayyo slumped in his command chair. A simple rescue mission had turned into a debacle. One of the Migrant Fleet's Admirals had been captured by Batarian slavers, and the Admiralty had sent a task force to rescue him, along with the other Quarians that had been nabbed in the same slave run.
They had rescued the Admiral, and sent him back to the Migrant Fleet, while three Cruisers led the Batarians on a wild goose chase, drawing them away from the Admiral. That's where everything had gone wrong.
The recon teams had only detected a portion of the slaver's forces.
They missed the Dreadnought.
The Tayyo was the only survivor of the retaliation, and was running for its life. Not that there was much life left in the run-down vessel. The ship would probably have to be scuttled when their mission was complete.
The Quarian cruiser was en route to the Theta system, which was practically barren, save for a dormant relay. Since the system was in Citadel space, activating the relay was out of the question. Their only chance would be to quickly discharge their excess static in the atmosphere of one of the planets, and jump away. If they could do that before the Batarian Dreadnought caught up, they would be set.
"Exiting FTL in five seconds," the Helmsman stated, "Exiting FTL in 3….2….1."
The multicolored light show around the ship dropped away to reveal the desolate Theta system.
"Set course for the nearest planet," Suma ordered, "Get ready to discharge the-"
"Sir!" the Sensors officer cried out, "Slaver fleet has dropped out of FTL! Four Frigates, two Cruisers, and a Dreadnought!"
The Captain of the Tayyo paled, "This can't be happening. ETA till the slavers reach us?"
"A minute, sir."
"Hey, something's odd…" the sensors officer muttered, before his eyes widened in surprise, "Captain, Relay 314 is active!"
"What?" Captain Suma asked in surprise, "That Relay is supposed to be inactive!"
"Well, someone turned it on!" the crewman replied.
The course of action was clear.
"Set course for that relay!" Suma shouted out, "I'll take my chances with the unknown over Batarian slavers any day!"
The Tayyo's engines roared as the heavily damaged Quarian ship rocketed towards Relay 314. The Batarian's blocky ships followed at a more sedate pace.
On the bridge of Slaver Dreadnought Devastation, the Batarian captain chuckled as the watched the Quarian ship flee from his mighty vessel. Those vagrants were right to fear the power of his mighty capital ship. True, it wasn't the newest model, but it was definitely more modern than those drifting hunks of metal the Quarians called ships. Soon, he would recapture that Quarian Admiral. He didn't know he had such an important individual in his grasp, but he would soon secure that asset again. The Migrant fleet would surely pay a large sum of credits for one of their leaders back.
"Sir," one of the Devastation's sensor officers reported, "Relay 314 is active!"
"What?!" the Batarian Captain scowled, "Full speed! Don't let the Quarians reach that Relay!"
As the Slaver's ships bore down on the Tayyo, they began to get desperate, firing their mass accelerators at the Quarian vessel in an attempt to disable it.
"Men," Suma'Narea vas Tayyo announced as the Relay grew ever closer, the Tayyo shaking with glancing hits from mass accelerator rounds, "it's been an honor serving with you all, keelah se'lai."
A bolt of light reached out from the Relay, dancing over the surface of the Tayyo. In a flash, it disappeared, catapulted thousands of light-years away in an instant. The Batarian slaver ships made tight turns away from the Relay. They weren't stupid; they knew the dangers of activating dormant relays.
Nearby, a small Salarian STG frigate monitored the group of Batarian slavers. What had their attention, though, was Relay 314.
"Not good," Captain Kirrahae muttered under his breath, "Not good at all."
What started out as a simple tracking mission had turned into the discovery of a potential catastrophe. They were just supposed to track the slavers back to their base, however, in the process they found that someone had activated a Relay leading into unknown space. The chances of another Rachni war occurring was too high for his tastes.
"Leave some drones here," Captain Kirrahae ordered his bridge crew, "and get us a link to a comm buoy. We'll need the Hierarchy's help on this."
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All things considered, Captain Kari Heartnet was finding her job to be boring as hell. Sure, she was proud of her Nexus-class Heavy Cruiser, but it never saw any action. The Angelwing was a ship designed for one thing, and one thing only; War. However, the Systems Alliance was as peaceful as it could be. Crime rate was at a virtual 0%, there was no piracy, and as far as they could tell, they were alone in this galaxy. The Systems Alliance had come a long way in just the span of a single year. When the colonization forces entered this galaxy, they had been surprised when their superluminal communications systems could not contact the UNSC or the Sangheili Empire. The only way to contact them was to go back through the Slipspace gate, and do it manually. Due to the communications barrier, the UNSC and SE granted the colonization forces sovereignty; so that they may spread without being tied down to commitments back "home".
As if possessed, the colonization forces spread at an unprecedented rate. They had already colonized 40 worlds, and their newest one, Shanxi, was setting up rather quickly. The Alliance didn't even have 1% of this galaxy explored yet!
Things were shaping up nicely, though. The Systems Alliance's two main worlds, Terra and Terra Nova, were industrial powerhouses. They churned out an average of twelve ships a day; so fast that they had to resort to crewing the ships with Unngoy, as they were the only species that reproduced fast enough to actually meet the demands of the Alliance's rapid expansion. Scientists predicted that within the decade, Humans and Sangheili would be a minority, not to mention the Mgalekgolo and Kig-Yar. Although, to tell the truth, nobody knew exactly how to count Mgalekgolo population. How exactly does one count a hive mind? Like that one old candy commercial said, "The world may never know."
Lost in her reminiscing, Kari almost missed the startled exclamation of one of her bridge crew.
"The Relay is showing activity!" the Ensign yelled, "Something is coming through!"
The rings in the center of the Mass Relay began to whirl around, glowing brighter and brighter until they flared up in one gigantic flash of light. A small vessel appeared, resembling a ring on a stick. It was grayish in color and had what appeared to be some types of cargo containers on the back stick end.
"One Frigate-weight vessel has exited the Relay," the Ensign reported.
"Shields up!" Kari ordered, as the Angelwing and its two escorting Rome-class Frigates, the Frontier and Guardian, erected their shields which shimmered silver before becoming completely transparent.
"Hail that vessel." The captain said.
[Migrant Vessel, Tayyo]
"Keelah Se'lai." Suma muttered upon exiting the Relay. Immediately upon arrival, they had run directly into a small group of alien ships. They were blocky, ugly things, all hard angles and geometric shapes. Even though their silvery armor reflected some aesthetic tastes, it was clear the ships were built with only one thing in mind; war. They positively bristled with weapons emplacements, and the barrels of two bow-mounted guns were clearly visible on all three vessels.
The two smaller ones were about the size of a standard Citadel Cruiser. They had a tall, tapered front with slanted armor plates on the sides. Two barrels barely stuck out of the hull, and were bigger than any mass accelerator Suma had ever seen before. The ship got wider and taller as it moved back, and had some sort of observation tower with windows sitting on the top. Two massive engine blocks stuck out the sides at the very back, and were rectangular in shape. Some form of lettering was stamped on the side of the ship, but it didn't translate.
The biggest of the three ships was purely massive. It wasn't as big, tall, or wide as the Asari's flaunted Destiny Ascension, but it outclassed a standard Dreadnought. It looked like a tall, thin rectangle, with a thinner front than the back, widening out in steps as you it got closer to the back. Silver armor wrapped around the ship, forming a protective, glimmering shell. Numerous weapons emplacements jutted out at every conceivable angle. Two truly gargantuan bow-mounted cannons were evident on the front of the ship.
Also, there were windows, which were something one didn't see every day on a warship.
"The two smaller vessels are Cruiser-weight," the sensor officer reported, jolting Suma out of his trance, "They measure at about 635 meters, while the largest vessel is Dreadnought-weight, at 1,200 meters. I can't get anything else, they're encased in some sort of energy envelope."
"Sir!" the communications crewman shouted, "We're being hailed!"
"Well, patch it through!" Suma barked out. This was important; he was about to represent the Quarians in a First Contact Situation. He needed to handle this carefully; it could well determine the future of the Migrant Fleet.
After nothing happened, he turned to the communications officer, "I told you to open a channel, what's taking so long?!"
"I…I don't know," the officer replied, flustered as he mashed the holographic keyboard, "We're receiving some kind of transmission, but it doesn't match up with anything on our database. If I had to take a guess, I would say our Communications suites are incompatible."
Suma groaned, "Well that is just great! Can we transmit audio only on a radio frequency?"
"I can give it a shot," the officer replied meekly, before the Engineering section opened an audio channel to the bridge.
"Captain, we're experiencing a series of cascading failures down here!" the panicked voice of one Tali'Zorah sounded over the speakers, "We need to discharge the core, now!"
An explosion was heard over the channel before it cut out.
"Helm, full speed to the nearest planet!" Suma'Narea shouted at his pilot, before telling the communications officer, "Broadcast a repeating distress signal. Hopefully they'll understand."
[UNSC Angelwing, Bridge]
"What's going on?" Kari asked in curiosity and a bit of wariness as she watched the unknown alien vessel. A few seconds ago, a few explosions rocked it, before it started heading towards Shanxi.
"It's a repeating audio message," one of the Ensigns reported, "I can't understand it, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was a distress call."
Kari pondered for a minute, before making a decision, "Tell the Guardian to accompany the alien ship. If it makes any hostile moves, disable it. Otherwise, just escort it."
The captain of the Guardian acknowledged, before it peeled off to escort the wounded ship to Shanxi.
"What can you tell me about that ship, Cromwell?" Kari addressed the ship's AI as its avatar materialized next to her. Various technological advancements allowed AIs to materialize a life-size hologram anywhere on the ship. Cromwell's avatar took the form of a highly-decorated rear-admiral from some old 20th century video game. He was almost indistinguishable from a regular human.
"The alien vessel is old; centuries old, if our scans are accurate. It uses an antiproton drive for propulsion, and is armed with two main kinetic energy weapons of unknown design. A series of turrets are evident on the hull. They sport a mixture of kinetic energy weapons and pulse lasers. Torpedo tubes are present as well. If I had to take a guess, I'd say we're looking at a patchwork, run-down junker. It's about frigate-weight, so I wouldn't worry too much. There's not much room for internal space. General Williams can handle whatever is inside." Cromwell straightened his uniform; a pointless gesture, since he was a hologram.
"So it's an old warship," Kari contemplated a holographic representation of the enemy ship as it hovered near her, "It looks really delicate. Wouldn't the maneuvers it's pulling tear it apart?"
"That's the interesting thing;" Cromwell became excited, "the ship is exhibiting gravitational fluctuations and mass-altering properties, similar to the Mass Relay!"
"Wait a second," Kari looked Cromwell in the eye, "are you saying that we found the creators of the Mass Relays?"
Cromwell shook his head, "No, they seem to sport more primitive versions of the Mass Relay's technology. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that their species found the Mass Relays and based their technology around them."
Kari blinked in surprise, "What? We couldn't make heads nor tails of that Relay. Are you saying that they could?"
Cromwell shrugged, "This is all just speculation. I hope we'll learn soon, though."
"Static discharge complete, sir," one of the crewmen reported, "Ready to retract discharge vanes."
"Do so," the captain ordered. Finally, disaster was averted. Maybe now they could-
"Captain!" a voice from the engineering section screamed, "the fuel tanks! They're-"
Whatever was being said was cut off in a cascade of screams and explosions as the Tayyo shook.
"Status!" Suma yelled, frantically trying to keep his balance.
"Main fuel tanks have exploded!" someone reported, panicked, "Auxiliary fuel tanks are leaking! Mass Effect fields have collapsed! We are losing orbit!"
The commanding officer of the Guardian squawked in disdain at the ramshackle vessel represented on the tactical display. He was a Kig-Yar with the rather lackluster name of Mut, and one of the only of his species serving on a UNSC vessel. Even though the Systems Alliance encompassed all their species, the military branches opted to stay separate. So the UNSC and ONI stayed intact, while the Sangheili maintained several fleets. The Kig-Yar only had two fleets, but that wasn't due to any restrictions. They could make as many fleets as they wanted; they simply lacked the resources and drive to expand. The Unngoy possessed no fleets, despite having a sizable presence in both the UNSC and SE. Nevertheless, it was odd to see a Kig-Yar serving on a UNSC ship, as they generally preferred the familiarity of their own military organization, the Kig-Yar Confederation. Mut, on the other hand, preferred the professionalism of the UNSC. The Guardian's captain happened to be groundside on Shanxi, so that left Mut in charge.
After first contact with the aliens, he was tasked with escort duty. While Mut wasn't exactly happy spending his stint in the captain's chair playing babysitter to unknown aliens, he knew it was important. As with any First Contact situation, the possible outcomes were endless, and he had to represent the best of the Systems Alliance. He would be worrying more about it, though, if he could actually talk to the aliens.
They seemed to be broadcasting a repeating distress signal, and he could see why. The section near the engines sported some hull breaches, and the frigate-sized vessel was trailing smoke and flames. After it entered the upper atmosphere of Shanxi, it extended some sort of vanes. That had put everyone on edge, but it turned out to just be a method of static discharge. Things were looking pretty mundane.
Until the middle section of the ship pretty much exploded.
It was a miracle that it held together, but it was losing altitude, and fast. Thrusters all over the ship were firing up, attempting to escape the planet's gravity, but they were too underpowered to affect much change.
"Match their descent speed, and plot their trajectory!" Mut squawked at the bridge crew, who frantically started mashing their consoles. The nimble Rome-class frigate descended with the alien vessel, its engines effortlessly maneuvering the massive hunk of metal.
"Sir, the alien vessel is projected to land right on top of Shanxi!" one of the Unngoy operators shouted in panic, "Estimated time till impact is at two minutes!"
"Crap," Mut swore, "alright, nudge them off course! Shunt auxiliary power to shields!"
"What are they…" Suma wondered, gripping the armrest of his chair for dear life as his ship quaked around him. The alien cruiser-weight vessel was getting closer to his, even as they plummeted towards the ground, "They wouldn't… they are! Divert power to kinetic barriers! Brace for-"
The Guardian's shields smashed into the Tayyo as the Kinetic Barriers of the Quarian cruiser slammed against the UNSC cruiser's hull. Both protective barriers flared up as the Tayyo was hurled in a different direction. Pieces of the ancient vessel flew off as the ship began to burn up from the heat of reentry.
"Nudge, I said NUDGE!" Mut cursed at the bridge crew as the ship shook under the impact. The alien vessel spiraled away, out of control, as it began to disintegrate.
"Whoever you were, sorry," Mut muttered, "you're on your own."
"Structural integrity failing!" one of the Quarian officers screamed over the groans of the dying ship, "Inertial dampeners failing! Thruster assembly offline! Escape pods inoperative! Mass Effect field generator not responding!"
Suma looked out the window at the increasingly approaching ground.
"All hands, brace for impact! All hands-"
Then the world exploded in a shriek of metal and roaring flames.
[Spirit of Fire, Bridge]
"Serina, get us in the air."
It had been a few years since they rejoined the UNSC, but the crew of the Spirit of Fire was still… well, the crew of the Spirit of Fire.
Captain Cutter had fully expected his ship to be decommissioned due to age. What he didn't expect was a full refit. True, he had less internal space, but he did now have a Super-MAC, pulse laser turrets, energy projectors, and a Spartan-Laser grid installed on his ship. Apparently, humanity had long since grown out of their naivety, and prepared themselves for any situation. If that entailed, arming colony ships to the teeth, so be it.
The Spirit of Fire had been helping the new colony of Shanxi settle in, but with this First Contact scenario, standard protocol called for the scrambling of all space-worthy ships. So the Phoenix-class colony ship refit ascended into the heavens, its powerful thruster assembly pushing the massive behemoth into the sky like the hand of god.
"Send a message to the Alliance Council and HIGHCOM, they need to know about this."
"Already on it, Captain," Serina smirked, "by the way, you've got some dust on your shoulder."
[Citadel Space, Theta System, Slaver Dreadnought Devastation, Bridge]
"Consequences be damned! If those Quarians think they can escape the wrath of the Hegemony, they've got another thing coming!" the Captain snarled.
The helmsman silently sighed. It had taken a full twenty minutes of deliberation before they actually came to a decision, and in his opinion, it was a stupid one. The Hegemony contracted (secretly, of course) them to increase the prominence of the Batarian Hegemony. They weren't paid to explore unknown space through Relays. That was above their pay grade. However, he had to obey his superior officer, so he gunned the Dreadnought's antiproton engines, and began communicating with the Relay to prepare for the jump.
Whatever happened from here on out was not his fault.
The entire Batarian slaver fleet was struck by light from the Relay, before they were catapulted thousands of light-years away.
[STG frigate, Bridge]
"And a bad situation goes to a terrible situation," Captain Kirrahae cursed his bad luck. The only thing he could hope for was that there was no hostile race on the other side of that Relay, or else those slavers just might start another Rachni war.
Oh, where was that Turian Patrol group?! They should have been there by now!
"The Relay is showing activity," one of the Mgalekgolo crew members rumbled in a voice that was more felt than heard. Of course, the Mgalekgolo was in a civilian carapace, and was only slightly larger than a human.
The Relay's rings began to spin faster once again, and after a flash of light, seven ships appeared.
"We've got one cruiser-weight ship, two frigate-weight ships, and four corvette-weight ships," a human Ensign reported, "what should we do?"
Kari contemplated the new arrivals. They looked vastly different than the earlier ship, and were hell of a lot newer. The largest cruiser-weight ship had what appeared to be spinal-mounted guns, as did the frigate-weight ships. They were blocky, unattractive things, very utilitarian and less aesthetic than Human-Covenant Era UNSC vessels, if such a thing was possible.
"Hail them for now," Kari ordered, "audio only on all radio frequencies. I know we won't understand each other, but maybe they can understand that we want to talk. We'll wait for a response."
"Who in the galaxy builds ships that ugly?!" the Batarian Captain scowled at the holographic representation of the unknown vessels. The helmsman rolled his four eyes, they were obviously dealing with a First Contract situation.
After a moment of deliberation, the Captain grinned, "I've got it! The Quarians activated a Relay and hid behind it! They've been building up force here! Those must be their new ships! Scan for our tracking beacon!"
After a few seconds, one of the crewmembers manning a console reported, "It's faint, but the Quarian ship is on the surface of that planet. Detecting a small settlement as well."
"I knew it!" The captain laughed, "Those pitiful Quarians won't stand a chance against us, we outnumber them completely! Get me a firing solution on that Quarian Dreadnought!"
If the helmsman wasn't as polite, he'd have been massaging his forehead. In his opinion, those ships looked nothing like Quarian design philosophy, and their energy readings were off the charts. Plus, they had attempted to communicate with them, and the captain just ignored them.
The communications officer muttered to the helmsman that the communication was in a language that didn't translate, which definitely meant they were dealing with a new species. Everybody knew it, and understood that the captain was an idiot, but they weren't paid to second-guess their superior officers. So they began to key in the commands to begin battle.
"We're being ignored," Cromwell grumbled, "just who do they think they are?"
Kari shared the same sentiments, the only explanations for this were either they didn't possess radio technology (which she highly doubted) or they were hostile.
She opted to be on the safe side.
"Cromwell, spin up the MAC and Slipspace drive. Have all our guns get firing solutions on different ships. Charge the energy projector, but don't move the ship. We don't want to appear hostile."
"That may not be an issue," Cromwell supplied, "they're building up a charge in their spinal cannons."
Kari snapped into action immediately. She activated her neural lace, which gave her access to the neural net shared by every UNSC personnel aboard.
She sent out a message to every single person on board, "Brace for impact!"
"All ships, fire!" the captain roared. If they could take out that Dreadnought in a single volley, the cruiser would be easy pickings.
The Devastator shook as the main gun fired a 20-kilo ferrous tungsten round lightened by mass effect fields at 1.3 percent the speed of light. The rest of his fleet added their fire to the volley, sending two 10-kilo slugs at 1 percent the speed of light and eight much smaller 1-kilo slugs at .5 percent the speed of light hurtling towards the presumably Quarian Dreadnought. To the observer, all the shots appeared to hit at exactly the same time. It was more than enough power to overload the kinetic barriers of any Dreadnought in existence.
So he was surprised when a silver shimmering envelope absorbed the power of the shots, incinerating the mass effect propelled slugs with their own kinetic energy converted into heat. The shots knocked the Dreadnought one kilometer off course, which it promptly corrected. Still, it was a major surprise.
"No, no, no!" the captain cursed, "Charge up the main gun again! Fire everything we have!"
Captain Kari Heartnet scowled as the ship ceased shaking from the impact. That volley had brought the ship's shields down to 46%! There's no way she was letting them do that again!
"Use of full armament authorized!" she shouted through the neural Battle-net, "Blast them out of our space!"
The double MACs of the Frontier and the Angelwing barked as the bow-mounted accelerators of the Devastator and its escort flashed. At the same time, thousands of Archer launched from their pods as hundreds of Disruptor Torpedoes shot out of their tubes. Deck guns from both sides started strobing with muzzle flashes as they added their own fire to the mix. In the middle of it all, a magnificent beam of light lanced out from the Angelwing and pierced the Devastator amidships.
All this happened in the span of a single second.
And all hell broke loose in the span of a single second.
A blinding pillar of light speared the Bridge, instantly frying the crew with its searing heat. A millisecond later, two 600-ton Ferric-Tungsten slugs punched straight through the Drive core. The entire ship lit up like a supernova.
Kari cried out in shock as she was thrown to the far wall from the force of the impacts. Various voices echoed around the Battle-net as damage reports streamed in.
"Bow Shields are offline!"
"Auxiliary Generators have sustained critical damage!"
"Unknowns are using some type of gravitational distortion missile weapon! We're losing armor plating fast!"
"Control lines to the MAC are offline!"
"Hull breaches in decks A-C, sealing affected areas!"
"Power failure to the hangar, we can't launch fighters!"
"Life support failing, switching to backups!"
Kari wondered if there was any good news.
"The Frontier has suffered critical damage to the superstructure! They're abandoning ship!"
There had to be at least some good news.
"Confirmed kill on alien cruiser-weight and frigate-weight vessels. Only two corvette-weight vessels survived."
That was really good news.
"Aright then," Kari ordered over the neural lace, "Take them out!"
"Negative," Cromwell informed her, "MAC is inoperable, and all deck guns are suffering from overheating. Archer pods are currently reloading. Hard Light guns are still charging. Energy Projector's capacitors are bone dry. Navigation suffered a systems failure and is currently rebooting. Our point defense systems aren't powerful enough to take out the remaining ships."
"So you're saying that we're sitting dead in the water?" Kari asked with a bit of incredulity.
"That is correct." Cromwell replied simply.
"Damn it!" Kari swore loudly, swinging her fist through a holographic display, which just fizzled a bit.
"Enemy vessels are breaking away," an Ensign informed Kari over the Battle-net, "They're heading towards Shanxi!"
The surviving Batarians were frightened badly. They lost two frigates, two cruisers, and their freaking DREADNOUGHT, and only took one enemy cruiser out of action! The alien Dreadnought peppered the two slaver frigates, which hightailed it towards the planet. They didn't want to be anywhere near that behemoth when it came back online. At least they could grab some slaves and bolt. They had to recoup their losses somehow.
As the Spirit of Fire climbed out of Shanxi's atmosphere, it turned to face the two incoming Batarian slaver frigates.
The two Batarian ships were in awe of the apparent oversized Dreadnought, as it was bigger than the Destiny Ascension. Determined, they decided to go for it. The cost of the expedition was too high already to go back empty-handed.
They executed swerving, swooping evasive maneuvers, as the Spirit of Fire attempted to get a firing solution on the two diminutive craft. Deck guns peppered the kinetic barriers of the Batarian frigates, but they dived in unphased.
At the last second, they launched a pair of Disruptor Torpedoes in unison. They made hard turns, flanking the Spirit of Fire, pummeling it with their mass accelerator turrets, as the Torpedoes closed in, too close for point defense fire.
[Spirit of Fire, Bridge]
Captain Cutter stared down the two missiles as tracer rounds streaked by the incoming projectiles. They were going to hit.
"All hands brace for impact!" he yelled over the PA, before grabbing hold of the sides of the holotank.
The Disruptor Torpedoes slammed into the shields, detonating on impact. However, no amount of energy shielding could block the gravitational distortions caused by the Mass Effect-powered weapons. Swathes of Titanium-B were torn off as the gravitational fluctuations ripped them off like a tiger tearing into its prey.
The entire ship quaked as Cutter barely managed to stay upright.
"Shields are down!" Serina cried out, "Massive damage to the frontal armor, hull breach in deck G, sealing affected area!"
"Alien vessels have entered the firing arcs of our Spartan Lasers!" a weapons officer announced loudly.
"Light them up!" Cutter shouted urgently.
Along the dorsal spine of the Phoenix-class colony ship, four turrets the size of an Onager MAC came to life. Shrouds covering the barrel slid upwards, revealing the laser's aperture. They swiveled to track the two frigates even as mass accelerator rounds pummeled the hull. The maws of the turrets started to radiate an ominous crimson hue. After three seconds, four bright blood-red lines of death, two per ship, skewered the Batarian frigates. A split second later, those ships exploded as their drive cores destabilized. The gravitational distortions ripped off some more hull plating, but the Spirit of Fire emerged victorious from the cloud of debris. The inhabitants of Shanxi would be treated to a spectacular "meteor" shower that night, courtesy of the remains of the slavers.
Twelve Batarian escape pods watched in horror as their last ships were annihilated by the oversized Dreadnought over the nearby planet. Realizing that all hope was lost, they made hard burns for the Relay, instantly shot back to Citadel space.
On the damaged bridge of the Angelwing, Cromwell asked Kari, "Is it wise to let them flee?"
Kari nodded, "Let them run back to their leaders, with news of our power."
She looked over at the tactical map, as numerous Slipspace portals opened up, disgorging hundreds of ships of various makes, sizes, and species.
"Let them know the Systems Alliance will not bow before their aggression. We will stand firm, and hold the line! Please post that little speech to my blog, Cromwell. And will someone put out that fire!"
The slavers thought they were safe, until they arrived right in the middle of a Turian patrol fleet. They resigned themselves to their fate as frigates picked up their drifting escape pods, but in the back of their minds, they thought, "If we spin this just right, the Turians might do what we could not."
Mass Accelerator Bow Guns
Mass Accelerator Bow Guns are standard equipment on Citadel standard Cruisers and Dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts fire 20-kilo ferrous tungsten rounds at 1.3% the speed of light. Cruisers are equipped with a smaller version that fires 10-kilo ferrous tungsten rounds at 1% the speed of light. Frigates are equipped with much smaller mass accelerators that fire 1-kilo ferrous tungsten slugs at 0.5% the speed of light.
Disruptor Torpedoes are guided missiles equipped with a miniature eezo core. They have two modes. The first mode is to increase the mass of the torpedo beyond what the enemy's kinetic barriers are capable of blocking. However, this slows the torpedo, making it vulnerable to GARDIAN lasers and point defense systems. The second mode does not affect torpedo speed. Upon impact with the enemy vessel, the eezo core overloads, creating a localized field of irregular gravitational distortions, causing the target vessel moderate to extreme structural damage.
[…Accessing Systems Alliance Database, subsection UNSC, subsection User Manuals…]
[Excerpt from the Systems Alliance User Manual: Nexus-class Heavy Cruiser]
So you're the proud new Captain of a UNSC-built Nexus-class Heavy Cruiser! Congratulations, try to keep the floors clean.
Now, you need to know some things about this top-of-the-line capital ship. This is nothing like the venerable Marathon-class Heavy Cruiser. This is a lean, mean, machine capable of bringing High Charity to its knees. While it is only slightly bigger than a Marathon, it has more weapons on it than the old First Fleet put together! Let's give you some specifications, so that you know exactly how much firepower is at your fingertips. Remember to pick your jaw up off the floor when you're done.
Length: 1,200 meters
Width: 310 meters
Height: 605 meters
Power: Deuterium Fusion Reactor (1), Forerunner Singularity Power Plant (1), Covenant Plasma Reactor (2)
Armor: 300cm Titanium-B Forerunner Battleplate
Slipspace: Enhanced Forerunner Translight Drive
Shields: Segmented Energy Shielding (Covenant Carrier equivalent) (1), Emergency Hardlight Barrier Generator (1)
Oversized Archer Pods (30)
Oversized Howler Pods (30)
60mm point defense guns (24)
Energy Projector (1)
50mm Hard Light guns (12)
Slipspace-Missile Pods (10)
Shiva Nukes (26)
HORNET mines (40)
ICWS (Mixture of pulse lasers and rotary cannons)
…Opening new file…
[Excerpt from Rome-class Frigate User Manual]
Power: Forerunner Singularity Power Plant (1), Backup deuterium reactor (2)
Shields: Segmented Energy Shielding (Covenant Destroyer equivalent) (1), Emergency Hardlight Barrier generator (1)
Slipspace: Forerunner Translight Drive (1)
Armor: 60cm Titanium-B Forerunner Battleplate
Archer missile pod (30)
Howler missile pod (30)
34mm Twin Defensive Railgun turret (24)
20mm Hardlight Gun turret (12)
ICWS (Mixture of pulse lasers and rotary cannons)
Shiva Nuclear Warhead missiles (8)
[…Accessing Systems Alliance Database, subsection Weaponry…]
Hard Light technology was invented by the Forerunners. It is capable of generating any type of shape, by creating an object that, for all intents and purposes, is a physical object, but is still made out of energy. Hard light generators can do anything from make a simple bridge, to sustain the body of a Promethean Knight. Immediately after gaining access to Hard Light technology, the UNSC reverse engineered the entirety of the device. One of the many applications Hard Light has found is in weapons. Handheld firearms can use Hard Light to generate different types of "bullets" to fit the situation, making a jack-of-all-trades gun. The same is true for the ship-mounted variety. Both types require a considerable amount of time to charge up, but once they do, it is nearly impossible to run out of power, as they run off of Forerunner Singularity Power Plants.
Hard Light Barriers are installed on ships as emergency shields. Unlike standard Energy shields, Hard Light is impenetrable. It can even resist a shot from a Super MAC. However, it is impossible to drop a small section of the barrier to allow a firing hole, so while a Hard Light Barrier makes a ship invulnerable, it also prevents it from making any offensive action. Hard Light Barriers can be customized during combat to allow for a ramming action. This has proven to be an effective option for ships of sufficient tonnage.
Personal Hard Light generators are standard equipment for N7 Operatives. The limit is truly the imagination, as it allows the operative to create any physical object they can imagine. As the N7 division is a Systems Alliance initiative, the division has a grand total of zero combat deployments. However, in training, N7 operatives have used their Hard Light generators to create blades, riot shields, and guns. In one instance, an N7 operative encased himself in Hard Light when his shields failed.
[…Accessing Systems Alliance Database, Subsection Personnel enhancements…]
The Neural Lace was standard equipment for Captains back during the Human-Covenant War. Since then, the design has been streamlined and improved. Neural Laces are standard issue for all UNSC personnel. They allow the instant retrieval and communication of combat-critical data. They are used to coordinate attacks, and essentially turn a combat unit into a semi-collective. This system has been likened to the old 20th century Science Fiction species, the Borg. In truth, it is not so far from the reality. The Commanding officers who use Neural Laces frequently report that they lose sense of individuality when commanding their subordinates, and the death of someone connected to the network is like having a limb cut off. This has led to problems of shock when a team member dies, but overall, the Neural Lace has improved unit cohesion.
Neural Laces are also linked to an extensive cybernetic neural implant, which allows for the uploading of data directly to a person's mind. It also allows an individual to directly interface with computer systems. This allows them to "share" processing power with the computer, boosting inferior computer systems, or bolstering brain power. It is estimated that having a Neural Lace paired with implants increases a person's IQ by at least 50 points. Neural Laces are used extensively by civilians, but they are expensive.
The UNSC has been trying to pressure other branches of the Systems Alliance Military into using Neural Laces, although so far they have been met with failure.
Author's Notes: I hope this chapter came out alright. I've been working on it for a while, and I think it might be even better than "The Bow and the Gun". The two stories are related, and will update in tandem. I promise they won't ever overlap; you won't see an Imperial Star Destroyer bombarding the Citadel, and vice versa. However, I will reference happenings in the other fiction quite regularly.
As always, please review, they are what drives me to write. Feel free to talk to me about my technological comparisons between these two series, I'm always afraid I'll get something wrong.
Also, as a side note, the mass accelerators didn't actually cause any hull breaches. Titanium-B Battleplate is based off of Forerunner alloys, and is invulnerable to all kinetic energy weapons. However, that doesn't mean that they can't cause damage. The Frontier was rendered combat ineffective because the impacts on its armor transferred to the hull. It essentially hemorrhaged to death. Internal bleeding, if you will. It's like being beaten to death.
And I'll try and have some fighter dogfights, but it's going to be kind of hard unless it's a large scale battle. UNSC MAC cannons and energy projectors makes most fights a quick sucker punch. I'll be sure to throw a couple of fighter duels in, though. Get ready to see a UNSC Supercarrier.
If someone could also calculate the yields of the specified Citadel mass accelerator weaponry, that would be great.