Chapter 1 - Prologue

Journal of Capt. Samuel West.

Systems Alliance Marine.

January 3rd, 2582 CE

Peace is a lie. There is only passion. I don't even remember where I read that, and yet more and more, I think whoever wrote it was both absolutely correct, and hilariously cynical at everyone's attempts, before and since, to prove him wrong. The fact that they're still trying tells you all you really need to know about people, life, and the galaxy in general.

Even after facing near extinction, rebuilding, growth, prosperity, even after everything good, there was still no real peace, just pauses between wars, where everyone could catch their breath and prepare for the next hurl. Four hundred years have passed since the Reapers, sometimes called Civilization Eaters, were defeated, and things are starting to look dark and grim once again.

Oh, to be sure, no one was saying anything, it wasn't something you could point to on a report or a map, but it was there, bit by bit, things were getting tense. The trouble could largely be laid at the feet of one of the newer races; the Yahg. Seventy Years after the Reaper War, they had achieved space flight and had even set up a primitive colony and relay space station in their home-system. A few years later, they had achieved their first successful use of element zero, and suddenly, the Yahg were loose amongst the stars.

They weren't the only newcomers to the galaxy after the Reapers. The Raloi had already risen up and became a successful client species of the rebuilt Citadel Council a decade before the Yahg, but the Raloi aren't pure, apex predators.

Granted, after the Reapers, all the currently established spacefaring races were a good deal more militaristic, but with such wanton destruction left behind, the Yahg found that they had vast swathes of territory all to themselves just for the taking. Fast forward three hudered years, and the Yahg had a successful, if small, spacefaring empire, and were aggressively expanding in any direction they chose.

Or trying to anyway.

The older Citadel races held onto to whatever worlds they had left from the Reaper invasion with a near bloodthristy ferocity, and the non-Citadel races were arguably even more ferocious in guarding their borders. The Quarians might have had trouble dealing with the Yahg in anything short of open war, save for their neighbors/friends/servants, the Enlightened Geth, who were to a one, unimpressed, wth the Yahgs physical capabilities or aggressive dispositions.

Nor were they the only ones equally unimpressed. The Krogan had a rebuilt and thriving Empire of their own, and they relished the challenges the Yahg presented, on any level. The Batarians, the survivors anyway, had returned to the Citadel as a willing client race, and where protected from the Yahg by simple proximity of allies. And the Rachni simply refused to tolerate any aggressive incursions into their space, though they were quite civilized otherwise. Rumor has it that several secret Yahg expeditions into Rachni space have ended with every last member of their pack-teams eviscerated, melted by acid, or just plain eaten. Sometimes all of the above.

The Leviathans, on the other hand, had little to worry about, as the Yahg weren't immune to their telepathy capablities. As such, the few systems the Leviathans claim are left well alone by the Yahg, like everyone else in that regard.

The older Citadel Races and their Client Races looked after one another, but Humanity has once again found itslef largely alone. We earned the respect and gratitude of the other races, Citadel affiliates or otherwise, but humans often find ourselves having to play bridge builders between the older, more conservative races such as the Turians, Salarians, and Asair, and the young or returned from poverty races such as Raloi, Quarians, Geth, and Rachni.

After the war and reconstructoin, Humanity had taken a place as a forefront species, and often served as an inspiration to other groups for sheer determination or tenacity. But that same position afforded us many critics and enemies, all jealous of humanities rise to the near forefront of the galaxies races, even after what the Reapers had done.

The sad truth is, we humans are often just too clever for our own good. We survivied, adapated, improvised, and overcame all obstacles in our path, with help sometimes but often inspite of others attempts to slow us down, divert us or outmatch us.

So when the Yahg started making inroads to human territory two and a half centuries after the Reapers, the rest of the galaxy was curious to see what would happen. What they got was a suprise; bloodshed from the near start!

We humans have the unique position of being a younger race than most, more successful than most, more violent, clever, and unpredictable than most, but after the losses suffered by the Reapers, we often try for diplomacy above near anything else. Before the Reapers, humanities population was somewhere around the neighborhood of 15 billion. After the Reapers, it was roughly 7 billion, at most.

Even after four centuries, our population has only just surpassed 16 billion, and that's with most human cultures encouraging large families. With the other Council Races as our allies, we didn't have to endure things alone anymore, or so we hoped. But our rapid recovery and ascension had largely isolated us all over again, and most other races had nearly as much recovery and reconstruction to do. The older races covered for one another when the Yahg started getting belligerant, but humans were forced to deal with them largely alone, with only some provisional support from the other races.

So, once we knew the Yahg would be pushing in on our territory, and that we wouldn't get a lot of help or support, either for legitimate or selfish reasons, humans responded to the Yahg, in a manner most humans would have been appalled at with any other race. We sent in massive fleets, armies, and strike forces to systamatically hunt the intruders down to the last one, with only one survivor from any group permitted to return to the Yahg empire, known as the Imperial Star Range. Before then, the Yahg hadn't actually faced another race in full war. All other races had responded in aggressive threats or quiet strike groups, and that had been enough.

Humanities response stunned the rest of the galaxy. Urdnot Mordin famously remarked later that, "All other races play the game of nations for pride, power, or wealth of one form or another. Only the humans are different. When they play the game, they play for blood. For keeps, as they say. And therefore, they are the only ones worth respecting."

Twenty years and lot more bloodshed later, humanity had achieved an uneasy peace with the Yahg. And everyone got back to rebuilding. But over the next decades, Yahg groups, pack-teams, or rouge warlords or pirate lords or what they called Range Lords would routinley pick fights with the Systems Alliance. All ending the same, with their defeat, retreat and/or destruction, but never with the feeling that it would stop. Granted, all the other races have faced similar problems from Yahg groups over the last century, but none so frequently or consistently as humans, save for perhaps the Krogan, if only just.

Course, the Yahg aren't the only threat; piracy and rouge warlords have become stunningly common in space after the Reapers had shattered most fleets, and the Terminus Systems have grown in territory and power ever since the Civilized Powers of space had been so badly beaten down during the war.

Alliance Admiral Thomas Duran compared the era we live in to the Golden Age of Piracy from the Age of Sail back on Earth. When there were established seafaring navies and continent spanning empires, but the vast oceans and numerous seas all but belonged to the Buccaneers.

Sadly, he's largely right.

The Reapers are no more, their pawns and nightmares are dead with them for the rest of time. A new Age has begun for the galaxy, free of the Reapers, but like all new Ages worthy of note, it has begun in blood and fire.

I hope that all we must now face out among the stars are each other, and various mundane issues like politics and money and pride and armies. I truly hope there are no more eldritch abominations, different from the Reapers but just as implacable and monstrous, waiting to come forth and take the Reapers place as the would be Eaters of Galactic Civilizations. Though given the vast infinity of just our galaxy, with innumerable stars in even one galactic arm, I can't help but be afraid of the endless dark, when I stop to think about it.

Good thing I'm often too busy trying to stay alive to really care about the phantoms in the dark. Or at least, I don't care much about it one way or the other, unless they decide to show up in person...

Authors note: It has been a long time since I have had the courage and will to try and post a story on Fanfic. I often just read a lot and offer reviews and ideas. But I have been inspired to try again, mostly by Full-Paragon and Sharrukin, two amazing authors I am huge fans of. So here we go, hope you guys enjoy the world and adventures my characters will be going on!