And the Meek Shall Inherit the Galaxy
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
But what if there had been a nail?
Lieutenant Adrian Victus sighed. More border patrol assignments out in the boonies. He glanced at his reports. Relay 314. A pointless patrol really, there were no species out there, and who would be dumb enough to activate a relay? He picked up another report and frowned. Migrant fleet activity in the area. At least buzzing the quarians sounded interesting. With a few jots, Lieutenant Victus altered his patrol course, well within his power as the commander of the scout vessel.
And thus, history was changed. For want of a patrol.
*Hierarchy War Ship
"So, what do you think XO Gerral?"
"Oh, damned if I know Captain Zorah. We could tweak the metal heads mandibles again, but there are some funny readings over by 314. Might be worth checking out."
Captain Rael'Zorah vas Belari sat back in his chair and studied the readouts. "Could be nothing though Gerral, just background radiation."
"True, but ever since we've move into this sector, those blips have been turning up regularly. It could be something. Maybe the metalheads are secretly activating a relay without telling anyone. At any rate, its something the fleet should know, especially since that's only one jump from our main formation."
Rael glanced up at Han's gleaming eyes. Both he and his XO were famous for the trouble they had caused along the border in the last few years, and invisible line that "suit rats" were just not supposed to toe. But there had been good salvage and even a few covert mining operations that the team of Zorah and Gerral had pulled off, and it had gotten Rael his own ship and Han into a position where he was soon to assume command of his own vessel. Things were looking up for the two young quarians carreer wise. But that meant no more adventures soon.
Grinning and winking his eyes behind his suit's mask, Rael nodded to his XO. "Alright, 314 it is. Who knows, maybe we'll catch the metal heads with their pants down."
*Migrant Fleet Battle Vessel
SSV* Carl Jung
Senior Chief Hannah Shepard took a moment to lift her son to the glass so he could get a good look at the Relay.
"What's that mommy?"
"It's a mass relay, a new one Johnny."
"Why's it not spinning like the other ones?"
"It's not on yet, that's what we're trying to do.
"Why's it off?"
"Well, the protheans must have turned it off when they left. Don't worry, we'll get it back on."
"Will there be aliens on the other side?"
"Maybe. But I bet they'll be nice aliens. Maybe you can make friends with one of them."
"Yeah! I want an alien friend. He would be my bestest friend."
"Well, what if it's a girl alien?"
"Well, we could still be friends as long as she likes dinosaurs. Do you like dinosaurs mommy?"
"Of course I do Johnny! Why, just in the last few weeks, I've learned all about velociraptors."
"Yeah! They head feathers, and ate meat, and walked like this!" Johnny scrambled down and practiced his dinosaur walk, growling all the way.
Hannah smiled and then scooped her son up, blowing on his chest to make a loud farting noise as he squealed with pleasure. It was nice working for the Alliance, she had gotten maternity leave, then a posting on a medical ship, the SSV Carl Jung, where she had personal quarters for both herself and her son. She was even paid a bit extra to see the effect of growing up on a space ship was having on the young Shepard. Which was nice as a single parent, Hannah didn't even really know who Johnny's father was, and had never done the DNA testing to figure it out. He was all hers.
Just then, the claxon sounded and Johnny started crying. Hannah picked up her son and took off at a dead run.
"Attention, all hands," Captain Barak Muhammad announced, "we have detected an unknown vessel entering the system. Possible CODE ABLE. Stand by for further orders."
Hannah hurried to the nursery and handed Johnny over to the caretaker, then left the still balling toddler and ran to her station at the hanger. She wasn't on for this shift, but the plan for first contact, CODE ABLE, called for every serviceperson to be at their stations. He crew was standing by, and Hannah swallowed as she waited for further orders.
"Maybe it's just a lost civilian craft?" Jones, one of Hannah's technicians ventured.
"And maybe pigs fly. Get it together Jones." Hannah snapped.
As they waited, Hannah whispered a silent prayer for her son, that the new world he found himself in would be a kind one. And that perhaps, these new aliens would like dinosaurs. Like the small, plastic toy Hannah still had in her pocket.
*Systems Service Vessel
"Captain, what do you make of this?" Lieutenant Turl'Enarh asked, putting up new data on the captain's feed.
Rael frowned. "It's not the turians."
"Not salarian, asari, volus, or any other kind of registered vessel." Han muttered from his own station. "What are they?"
"New species?" Turl offered. "That could explain all the strange signals we've been getting from this area.
"Hmm. Maybe." Rael allowed. "Take us in, on a very obvious elliptical. Vent some extra radiation, use a twos pattern. Act like we are friendlies."
"Are you sure sir? Council law says-" Turl began.
"Damn the Council!" Rael roared, and most of his bridge officers nodded with him. "I'm not reporting something like this to the turians! We're not even a council species anymore! If I report to anyone, I'll report to the Admiralty, but this is my ship, and under quarian law I may initiate first contact!"
"Yes sir!" Berga'Otorus in navigation cheered, and the Belari began her slow dance forward.
SSV Hampton Roads
"Admiral, sir, whatever it is, it's making damn certain we know it's here. It's taking its sweet time, if the initial accel we charted is anything to go by."
Rear Admiral Steven Hackett frowned at his readout. That was accurate enough. Whatever the alien ship was, it was going rather slowly forward, venting all kinds of emissions on all bands in a steady, two pulse pattern.
"Signal the fleet. I want all our ships mimicking that vent pattern, and broadcasting friendly messages on all frequencies. Alert FleetCom. Confirm CODE ABLE."
"They're responding Captain. The ships are moving slowly away from the relay and broadcasting on a number of frequencies. It's not in any the standard protocols, but the information is clearly organized and contains a language."
Rael grinned and looked over at Han, who nodded and winked. "That's good news Turl. Maintain our approach. Make for the largest vessel, that one out masses us by several tones. We don't want them to think we're hostile."
SSV Hampton Roads
"They're making for the Carl Jung sir, but they don't appear to be making any aggressive moves."
Hackett nodded. It made sense, the Jung was the largest ship in his little formation. As far as the aliens knew, it was the flag ship, and the best armed. In reality, the hospital ship was totally unarmed, but it did boast some of the toughest barriers Earth could make.
"Maintain formation and heading. Let the Jung know the ball is in their court. They'll be making first contact."
SSV Carl Jung
"Attention, all hands. CODE ABLE is confirmed. The alien ship is making for us. All docking crews, enter a state of readiness for CODE ABLE."
Hannah sucked in her breath and felt like vomiting. The aliens were coming here, to her ship. Where her son was. She prayed that they would be friendly.
"Alright people, enviro-suits on! We don't know what kind of nastiness those aliens have, and you're ugly enough as it is Sung! I don't want any accidents, we're about to make history!"
"Yes ma'am!" Her crew responded, and Hannah nodded. She could still use her Chief's Voice, that was good.
The minutes ticked by with agonizing slowness. Hannah couldn't help but think of Johnny, what me must be feeling. Somehow, the plastic dinosaur had ended up in her envirosuits grip, and it was comforting. Whatever entered her hanger, Hannah would be ready. Nothing was going to hurt her son.
"They're turning, that's a docking bay there. We can take the shuttle over." Han stated.
Rael nodded. "Let's do it. Berga, you have the bridge. Han, you're with me. Just the two of us, don't want to scare them."
"Like anyone is ever scared of quarians."
"Let's hope so. These new comers could be allies, and the fleet needs some of those."
Rael's heart seemed to want to jump out of his suit as he made his way to the shuttle. He thought of his wife, Kleeah, and their baby daughter, Tali, just six months old. Maybe this would be their first steps back to the homeworld. Or even a new one.
"Keelah Se'lai." Rael whispered.
"Keelah Se'lai." Han agreed. "Let's do this."
SSV Carl Jung- Hannah Shepard
Hannah's crew stood ready, not sure of what to do as the alien shuttle slowly entered the Jung's mass effect fields and landed in the cleared space for it. The whole hanger held its breath as the door slowly opened, and two aliens walked out. They were both in full envirosuits, though of a different design then the humans wore. One was in a pinkish suit, the other a darker, more tan model, though they both appeared to be of similar make.
Captain Muhammad stepped forward, and to Hannah's eternal embarrassment, made the Vulcan greeting sign. The rest of it was mercifully according to the CODE ABLE script.
"Welcome. We are humanity, the sons and daughters of Earth. We come in peace, and ask the same in return."
Alien Vessel - Rael'Zorah
When the alien leader finished speaking, Rael raised his own hand in a gesture of peace. "I am Captain Rael'Zorah vas Balari, of the quarian migrant fleet. We come in peace, and wish to open relations between our peoples."
The aliens looked at each other, then the leader stepped forward and thumped his own chest with his strange, five fingered hand. "Barak Muhammad."
Rael pointed to the alien and answered, "Barak Muhammad."
Nodding, the alien indicated the other members of its species. "Humans."
"Quarians." Rael answered, indicating himself and Gerrel. Then he pointed to his own chest. "Rael'Zorah vas Balari."
The alien pointed and repeated Rael's named, then stepped forward, offering his hands. Recognizing a gesture similar to one the salarians used, Rael took the aliens hands in his own and squeezed lightly.
"Friends." He stated.
Looking at Han, Rael smiled and nodded. "Well, this seems to be going well."
"Yes, the seem pretty nice, for aliens. Even have on envirosuits."
Just then, one of the humans said something to Barak Muhammad. The alien leader said something back, then removed his suits helmet. Rael was a little disappointed, but then, you couldn't expect an alien species to have as weak an immune system as quarians did.
Barak said something, indicating Rael's suit. He shook his head. "No, we have to leave that on. Ours don't come off."
The alien's face screwed up a bit, but then he relaxed and nodded. Then Barak pointed to one of his subordinates, this one with what Rael guessed were milk glands of some sort, probably a female. The female said something back, then approached, slowly taking off her own suit.
SSV Carl Jung- Hannah Shepard
Slowly, Hannah approached the alien, the quarian, taking out a picture of her and Johnny. "My son." She slowly said, passing the photo to the alien.
Captain Barak nodded and smiled. "Good, good, show them what our children look like. It should provoke empathy."
Hannah didn't care what the experts called it, and she stared hard into the aliens strange glowing eyes. "My. Son." She said again, putting force behind the words. She didn't want there to be any doubt that if any harm came to Johnny, there would be hell to pay.
After a moment, the alien handed the photo back to Hannah, then activated a strange, orange hologram on its arm. After a few more taps, a vid of what had to be the alien, Rael, this time suitless, appeared. His skin, Rael looked like a he to Hannah, with close cropped hair and a wispy beard, was greyish, and the hair was a dark purple. In his arms, Rael held a tiny infant. The child appeared to be sleeping, and Rael's lips were parted in a smile as he gazed down at his offspring.
"Keelah Se'lai, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya." The holo Rael whispered. Then the image stopped.
Rael pointed to the sleeping infant, and stated, "Il'hafi." There was iron in his voice. This was a man who would kill before he let anything happen to his child. That, Hannah could understand.
"For your 'Il'hafi,'" Hannah said, holding up the small plastic dinosaur.
Carefully, the alien took the toy in his three fingered grasp. "Edan. Il'hafi te'ul ven tefasa. Edan."
Hannah smiled and nodded, then started when Rael reached into the pouches at his belt and drew out a small, polished stone. It was etched with strange symbols, though they clearly represented something.
"Ya Il'hafa." Rael said, extending the stone to Hannah.
She took it gently, it was slightly warm to the touch, and sparkled with an inner light. "Thank you. My son will love this."
Rael nodded, and for a moment, Hannah and the quarian shared a complete understanding with each other. They had given each other gifts, not for themselves, but for their offspring. These aliens had come not to conquer or plunder, but in peace, with gifts for the children of humanity.
You've got a bright future ahead of you, Johnny. Hanna though. I found you a little alien who's going to love dinosaurs.
Because of the nail, the shoe stayed on.
Because of the shoe, the horse ran on.
Because of the horse, the rider did not fall.
Because of the rider, the message was delivered
Because of the message, the battle was won.
Because of the battle, the kingdom was saved.
Because of the kingdom, the world was changed.
Because of a nail.
And Because of that nail, the Meek Shall Inherit the Galaxy.
Well, to jump on the "first contact re-imagined" bandwagon, this is my vision of first contact with the migrant fleet. A very different galaxy would come from this, I think. If you are really interested in follow up chapters, let me know. Reviews and PMs do wonders for an authors inspiration ;)
EDIT: Well, after the ASTOUNDING number of reviews I have gotten, this story will be continuing for the foreseeable future. Thank you all for your wonderful support!