The Sword of Humanity.

The Shield of Humanity.

The Guardian of Humanity.

That is the Director.

Never forget that, Jack. Never forget what I entrust to you...Make. Them. Pay.

Director Jack Harper lit his cigar and took a slow, calm puff. The nicotinic pleasure did little to soothe his nerves as his gaze went to the reports on his desk. The dying words of the previous Director of Solforce still ringed in his ears even then, even after all those years. One of the reports was prominent on the pile, a black leather-bound stack —the only one of such a type.

Black Twenty-Five.

The dossier was open, its papers scattered and littering his mahogany desk. Good old wood, not the bio-synthetic crap that was spat out on an hourly basis. Still, the Director of Solforce recalled how short-lived his awe after his desk had been in the following minute since his coming to power. That had been the day Black Twenty-One had effectively entered the field.

Earth had been ravaged.

Torn asunder, destroyed, the debris scattered across the universe.

One billion people upon Earth had died screaming as the Black Twelve and the Black Seventeen had crossed their paths upon their bright blue planet.

Thankfully, both had turned against one another in the aftermath.

The survivors had been picked up as the two titans of space had battled, sending laser beams, their thousands of drones, their ancient weapons at one another. By the time the Black Fleets returned, the grievously wounded Black Twelve was once more fully operational…having feasted upon their own planet.

And then the Black Twelve had left —gone somewhere else, not caring the slightest for the billions killed.

Jack Harper took another deep breath as the thick smoke rolled within his mouth for a moment —he was clenching his left fist tightly, like every time he remembered that day. He exhaled the cloud, the grey fumes dispersing into the air as a holographic panel popped open in front of him. The camera from the corner of the room shone brightly, forming a tridimensional map of the known galaxy the next second.

Earth was a glaring hole in the map, which was calibrated to show the position of humankind's cradle at its center. The Milky Way's arms turned ever slowly, as the Node-Lines shown by the SIGINT operatives glowed a light golden color.

Jack Harper's right index finger gently tapped at the planet in question —Eden Prime— and breathed slowly. A strange device of unknown origins had been found by the Colonizing party sent to occupy the world in question. The Black Section had curtained the entire area the next instant.

It was sort of ironic that he, the Director of Solforce, had no idea what the Black Section was doing…except for the money rerouted to their 'Special Project' on researching the thing.

He nudged the map to move back from its zoom on the planet —more pressing matters required his full attention— and as he settled on the Solforce-Hiver border, he couldn't help but grind his teeth in frustration. The Black Twelve had outright devastated the military production of Solforce, and if that had not been enough, its passage throughout the human-controlled systems had given a beachhead to the Hivers.

The North quadrant of the galaxy was filled with various colors, each showcasing the Special Sections' own banner as they battled the enemies of Solforce.

Red Section brought the battle to the Tarkas.

Blue Section fought the Liir-Zuul.

Purple Section held the line against the Suu'lka hordes.

Yellow Section desperately tried to regain the captured worlds from the Hivers.

Silver Section tore through the thick metal skins of the Loa.

Cerulean Section was in charge of keeping the Morrigi at bay.

The fact that said empires were splintered and battling each other, just as their own colonies rebelled…that probably showed how grave the situation was. Solforce still held itself together because of a simple fact.

Earth was gone.

Just like with the Hiver's first contact, humanity had rediscovered its military past, so too with the destruction of their planet…humanity had found back its unity throughout the stars.

Colonies had fallen in line, children no older than eleven asking to be outfitted with psionics and cybernetics enhancements while their proud parents enlisted together with them. Replicants technology —which had been the source of many protests in the unpopulated colonies— was now seen as the apex of what humanity could do.

Soldiers created by nothing more than giant pools of dead humans, molded back from their basic forms into new corps. The clay was the corpses of the deceased, the new sculptures created by them the only reason humanity's lack of manpower had literally disappeared.

The Universe was at war, Solforce could either claim the momentum of unity or refuse it, but one thing was clear to Jack Harper's mind as he ignored the dossier on his desk.

He didn't have the time to deal with Black Twenty-Five.

Black Section would have to take care of it by itself.

"Message from the Council," an electronic voice piped in from his terminal, as Jack gritted his teeth in frustration while accepting the call. He supposed all the past directors would be spitting upon his head, if only they knew what he had done to guarantee Humanity a fighting chance.

The hologram of the council appeared on screen, as the three bizarre looking aliens seemed to be eying him with the same level of trust you would give to a hungry Varren.

Humanity was in need of worlds, and the Council Space had worlds, rocks that they couldn't colonize and were more than willing to part with. Small asteroids called 'planets' maybe, but every one of those rocks meant resources. Resources humanity could use, and needed to use.

Eden Prime had been a lucky streak. It had become a nightmare the moment a Prothean beacon had been found. He couldn't understand the aliens' fascination with the things. They were relics of an age past, technologically advanced and what-not.

Instead of studying them, analyzing them to pick them apart…the Council copied them, sometimes with even worst results than the Zuul's artistic sense.

At least the Zuuls had a genetically engineered reason to be ferocious clawed apes.

"Councilors," he answered with a barely clipped tone. "What help do you require?"

"We do not call to ask for help, Director." The Turian's tone was clipped and venomous. "The Council can take care of itself."

"Then I should remove the patrols guarding you from the Terminus Systems?" he replied calmly.

"You are paid most handsomely for that protection!" the councilor snarled back. "You were given permission to colonize all non-garden world planets in the area!"

"Rocks and asteroids mostly," the Director pointed out. "But you still have not answered me: why are you calling?"

"It has come to our attention," Tevos began then. "That you have found a Prothean beacon on the garden-world of Eden Prime."

"Your special forces paid for that in blood," Jack hissed back. "I suppose you will be making reparations?"

"We have a treaty about informing each other of potential Prothean relics, correct?" Tevos remarked. "I am sure you were just about to uphold your side of the deal and inform us."

"Of course I was, but it is out of my hands now," he remarked. "Black Section has full control of the operation."

"Still, we would like to investigate it all the same," Tevos supplied. "Black Section will not impede us, if we come with your authority would they?"

"They would not," Jack admitted. "But Black Section will only obey a direct Human superior, no matter the circumstances. That is how it was built, and that is how it will keep on being. Ambassador Donnel Udina will bring one of your specialists on site...considering the state of the colony, he or she might have a rough time on it," he supplied.

"We know the way your colonists treat the races of the council, Director. The fact you do not seem worried about bringing an end to this only goes a long way in telling us how you view other races."

"I am the Director of Solforce, councilors. I speak for Humanity. The Dreadnought Deep Darkness will be dispatched to take your selected specialist aboard, which will not be a Turian as per the treaty." The Turian councilor snarled at those words. "Furthermore, he or she will be unarmed, and must declare whether he or she holds any biotic powers or potential. He or she will not furthermore stray from the areas the Commander of the ship grants her passage in, and I hope I make myself clear that should any plans concerning the Dreadnoughts' inner working be revealed, we would be extremely displeased."

"Nothing new. We already agreed on this." The Salarian councilor remarked. "Archeologist Liara T'soni, daughter of Matriarch Benezia, will be the specialist. She is an Asari. Biotic powers known and common to all Asaris."

The Director merely nodded. It was always an Asari they sent. Salarians couldn't help but explore, question, and more problematically…discover. Asari knew where the line stood, and the mature ones knew not to cross it.

"Very well," the Director acknowledged. "The Dreadnought will arrive in three weeks from Eden Prime to the Citadel: have your specialist ready by then."

"It would take considerably less if you activated the Mass Relays," the Turian councilor snapped. "Your empire is cut off, should the Council races wish to assist you."

"The only thing the Council races wish from us is our secrets," Jack said while barely restraining his anger. "Do not forget," he added graciously. "We are the one granting you peace."

"Because you tore apart the Turian fleet!"

"Enough, Sparatus." Tevos chided the Turian councilor. "We will contact you again soon, Director."

"I am eager," the tone was drawled and sarcastic, "for another chat."

The Councilor holograms disappeared, but Jack Harper didn't move yet.

Five minutes later, and he re-opened communications with the Salarian councilor.

"Potential chances to reacquire STG members?"

"Three of the STG saw nothing, the two who did see something were eliminated," he remarked calmly.

"Members of STG forces still combat capable?"

"Two, one lost a limb. He is stable, but will most likely need prosthetics," the Director answered back with a scoff.

"Understood. One planet system with asteroid belt?"

"Size of the asteroid belt?"

"Circles the system."

"Acceptable. They will return through our usual and common channel."

"So will the deeds to the system," then just as the Salarian's councilor disappeared, the Asari one appeared.

"Director," Tevos began. "The specialist in question is the daughter of Matriarch Benezia, an influential Asari within Thessia's circles and the surrounding systems. It is imperative she is well treated and protected."

"The usual price stands," he replied smoothly.

"I will speak with the Consort and see if she has any dirt on the opponents in the list," the Councilor murmured. "Lacking that, two thousand tons of Element Zero will be delivered to the marked trade station in four days."

"Good," the Director nodded. "I will make sure she will be treated with all the due respect."

The Asari councilor disappeared again, leaving the Director to slowly smother the burning cigar in his hand against the ashtray.

Jack Harper exhaled slowly, and as he closed his eyes he was brought back to a memory, one a long, long time before all of this.

"Sir? They wished to surrender…why did we shoot?"

"Because the only good alien is a dead one son, and the Hivers have to pay. They all have to pay."

And they would all pay.

The beeping red of the console brought him back to the present, to his duties and to the galaxy's map. Stretched over the entirety of the Spiral, over countless planets and suns, the Solforce Empire stood mighty and locked into a never ending battle…

But not for long.

No, not for long.

He scanned the planets, his gaze settling upon the Terminus System. A Batarian incursion into their system? If only he had some hint on where the slavers held their ships or their base…

The lack of planets and systems prevented the Solforce Ships from exploring the giant asteroid belt and even the Police Cutters on patrol could do little, past their autonomy. The planet was easily protected however, and as the alarm died down the Director of Solforce groaned.

Another flash of red, near the Hiver borders. Soon that was followed by one more, near the Loa sector.

Within moments, peace was shattered as he began once more his work as the Sword, the Shield and the Guardian of Humanity.

For he was the Director of Solforce, and he had one purpose above all: humanity's survival.

"Per Ardua, ad Astra."

Through hardships…the stars.

Author's notes

ME crossovered with SOTS 1&2.

Because I can.

Since I'm not a fan of VS or 'mega-tons-kilo-tons' or 'technical battles' I'm putting it out now: I'm writing this as a story, not a collection of data on which ship defeats which. If you want to be nit-picky, then please send me the Data through a pm or hand over the specs of the ships. Consider that Humanity has Leviathans, but they are extremely costly and in low numbers. (One per border) And to maintain them their colonies are held at a 8-level tax rate…to barely end in balance at the end of the year. 'Morals' are unaffected because of the Earth Destruction, for the moment.

The reason 'Humanity' didn't destroy the Council is because they would have still done damage, and as it is Solforce is walking a thin line between 'holding' against the old enemies and 'managing' the new resources and colonies (who are extremely costly as you can consider them size 3-4 planets who are in need of terraforming and overharvest)

Turns are 'flexible'. Deep space travel from point A to B might take weeks. In System flight is actually hour-based. Research is 'monthly' or 'yearly'. I'm not delving much on the mechanics, just the story part.

This is just the prologue. The rest of the chapters will be in 'John Shepard' view-point.

As per SOTS wiki, every family has at least one sibling (counting to ten being the average actually) due to 'population needs in the workforce' meaning that it is perfectly 'canon' in here for Shepard to have something like five or six brothers/sisters.

One or two might pop up, just saying.

Purpose of the story:

Write a 'discovering' Shepard who goes from Xenophobic to accepting of aliens. Knowing my muse, this will most likely derange in pain, angst and what-not.

You are warned.