Ok, I have bad news and...well, just bad news. A few days ago my computer broke down and the only way to fix it was a complete reset, which deleted all my files. I will still be continuing with this story, but I may take a month or two to finish my other projects first.

Moving on. All the feed back I've had has been generally positive. The only criticisms are my spelling and that I may be making the Darkspawn a little too human. While I'll try to make the darkspawn as unique as possible this may be a running flaw with me, sorry.

Anyway, the show must go on. At least until my computer crashes again.


Chapter 4: The new Neighbours

Floating in the serpent nebula at the heart of the mass relay network is the Citadel. A colossal space station built by the protheans as the crown jewel of their empire to serve as a center of trade and politics. It still performs these functions today for the younger races that have taken up the prothean's mantel as rulers of the galaxy.

The Citadel is also home to council, a group made up of three representatives of the most powerful races in the galaxy, the Asari Republic, the Salarion Union, and the Turian Hierarchy. While the Council doesn't rule any of its associate species their decisions carry a great deal of weight and no one's really in a position to say no to them. The purpose of the Council is to ensure that the citadel's laws are followed and that order and peace are maintained.

Well, that's what it says in the Official Tourists Handbook anyway. The council is mainly concerned with keeping order; peace is more of an optional bonus.

An option that may well be off the table in this latest crisis.

Inside the councils private chambers Councilor Tevos was reclining in her chair reading a data pad and suppressing a mounting headache.

To her left was the Salarion councilor Marken who was studying his own data pad intently. Standing just to Marken's right was his aid and protégé Valern, quietly observing the proceedings.

The Turian Councilor, Sparatus, was standing just in front of them, next to General Septimus Oraka who was giving a report on events and reasons why the council should intervene.

"-which is why we need to devote the full resources of the council to combating this new threat." continued General Septimus "This hostile new race is no doubt preparing for an attack on citadel space as we speak."

"Is hostile really the best word to describe them?" asked Marken in his usual smug tone. "By your own report they only attacked after Commander Vanrick fired upon their ships without warning then launched an invasion of one of their worlds."

Sparatus' mandibles twitched in annoyance "The actions of Commander Vanrick are not the point of this meeting."

"No, the point if this meeting is for you to ask us to involve ourselves in a war you started."

"I agree with Marken." announced Tevos before Sparatus could respond. "Peace is always a preferable alternative to war Sparatus. The Asari Republic will send a diplomatic mission to meet with this new race. Hopefully they will listen."

"You cannot be serious!" yelled Sparatus "Tevos, these aliens can't be reasoned with, you must understand that-"

"No, you two need to understand this." Tevos almost jumped out of her chair and marched up to within inches of Sparatus. "If these aliens go to war with us purely because of the Hierarchy's actions then I will spend the rest of my career making life very hard for the both of you." The asari marched out of the room, leaving two very flustered turians in her wake.

Tevos had been a diplomat of the better part of three hundred years so even while on her way to her office her mind was going over the possibilities. The aliens would be very angry after the turians actions, so she would have to send someone who could both calm them and convince them to become an associate of the council.

Fortunately she had just one such Asari on speed dial.

Darkspawn second fleet. In orbit above Rivane

Close to four hundred turian solders had been sent down to conquer Rivane, only a little under two hundred remained.

The Darkspawn had decided early on that it wouldn't be practical to house all these prisoners of war on the ground, there was too great a chance of them escaping. So instead they'd moved the turians up to the fleet in orbit to be imprisoned and interrogated.

Warships weren't built to hold that many POW's but with a little time and lyrium makeshift prison cells had been set up, complete with barrier fields, in each ship's cargo hold.

It wasn't long before problems began to arise. Communication was impossible at first but eventually the Shrieks got a translator program working. The first thing the Turians had said was "For the love of the Spirits! We. Can't. Eat. Your. Food!"

Which led to the second problem. Making a meal for a species with dextro DNA hadn't been entirely successful. The result was a tasteless paste that had only minimal nutritional value, still it was better than starving and it didn't give the turians stomach cramps.

The third problem was fear. After a turian had been interrogated they were moved to another ship so they couldn't tell their comrades what to expect. Seeing their friends dragged off never to be seen again by monsters with large pointy teeth quickly led to the rumor that the Darkspawn were eating the turians.

As soon as they found out about this myth the guards did everything they could to perpetuate it. One of their favorite methods was to give double rations to whoever was going to be interrogated next. It wasn't long before every turian was convinced they were going to be served up as part of a victory banquet.

But just because the turians weren't being eaten doesn't mean that all of them survived.

Interrogation room 16 B

Private Adrean Volm had been sitting in the same bare, dimly lit room for the better part of fifteen minutes now, waiting for something to happen.

He knew exactly what his captors were doing. Every recruit went through basic interrogation training; they were using his own anxiety against him. It was working

Adrean hadn't been left alone however. One of the big ones with horns was leaning up against a wall, staring at him balefully. Adrean had tried to start a conversation to see if he could learn anything but all he'd gotten in response was a snarl.

It had been so quiet Adrean almost jumped out of his chair when the doors whooshed open and one of the tall, thin ones walked in. It sat down in the chair across from him. Up close the alien looked ugly, with green, lizard like skin, sharp teeth set in a vicious grin and mandibles that made it look like a twisted version of a turian.

"Hello" it said.

Adrean responded by reciting his name, rank and serial number, just like he'd been taught.

"And my name is the Seeker. Now, to business."

What followed was the Seeker asking Adrean a series of questions and the private responding with name, rank and serial number to each one. Most of the questions were what Adrean was expecting 'Where is your home world', 'What is the strength of your military' etc. But there were also some weird ones like 'What is your favorite color', 'Name the scariest movie you've ever seen'. Adrean guessed these were supposed to catch him off guard somehow.

The Seeker stopped asking questions and breathed a heavy sigh. "You're not going to tell me anything are you." Adrian responed the same as he always had, only this time he put as much 'up yours' into his voice as he could.

"I see." Seeker pressed a button on his omni-tool, placing a call to the guard outside. "Send in Latharge." He stood up and made his way towards the door.

"Clamps or electrodes?" asked Adrean, jokingly.

"Worse." muttered Seeker.

Adrean heard the Ogre start mumbling something under its breath. "Active thoughts. Running, jumping, swimming. Active thoughts."

The doors opened allowing a solitary figure to float into the room. Adrean tried to scream but he didn't have the strength. The thing that had just appeared couldn't be real. It looked like it was made from smoke with leather armor on its arms and hunched back. A hide patch covered half of its mouth less face leaving only one glowing purple eye visible.

The monster moved into the chair that Seeker had just vacated. Adrean suddenly felt very tired. He hadn't slept in days. Why not just rest for a while. He couldn't be questioned if he was asleep. The world would go on without him.

There was a slight thump as Adrean's head hit the table. The sloth daemon Latharge looked down hungrily at the delicious morsel he'd been provided.

"Find out anything you can." instructed the Seeker.

"Hmmm...yes. I may have to mmmmm hollow him out. He will be permanently (yawns) damaged."

"Your point being?"

"Nothing. Just informed consent."

The Seeker turned and left along with the Ogre leaving Adrean with the sloth Daemon.

"Now...open wide and say..."

On the Battle Cruiser Val Royoux, Outside the cell blocks

Stormchaser was board out of his mind. Having to sit in the same place for hours on end guarding prisoners that could not escape had to be the dullest task in Darkspawn history. Still, the TV reception was fantastic so he could pass the time by watching movies non- stop.

His favorite horror film, The Children, was just getting to the good bit when his relief, another Genlock named The Harrowed, walked into the guard post. Harrowed looked at Stormchaser, then at the vat of nutrient paste next to him.

"You were supposed to give out that food ten minutes ago."

Stormchaser rolled his eyes and turned off the TV. "This slop tastes like cardboard. Their probably grateful they didn't get any."

"Wait. You actually ate that stuff? You do know what the cook does to it before he sends it down here?"

"Ok, first off, that's a myth. I know that cook does not add dragon piss to the food. Second-"

"AAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!"

Stormchaser jumped out of his chair, grabbing a shotgun and aiming it at the cell block door. Behind him the Harrowed had unholstered his pistol and was also aiming it in the direction of the scream. The two stood where they were for a few minutes, then Harrowed ran forwards into the cell block. Stormchaser waited a few seconds before going after him.

"If this is someone trying to pull the 'guard, help me, I'm dying' trick I'll throw them out an airlock!"

As the guards ran down the hall they saw that the turian prisoners were pressing themselves against the barrier fields to try and see what was going on.

Eventually they came to a halt outside as cell with a lone turian inside. He was curled up into a ball and staring at the opposing cell.

"Alright. What's the matter with-"

Harrowed stopped when he heard a squelching noise from the cell behind him. A quick look over at his partner told him that he'd heard it to. They both spun round pointing their guns at the prison cell.

"Andraste, Dumat and Andoral!" yelled Stormchaser.

Inside the cell was a female turian and around her was what was left of her cell mates. It was impossible to tell how many there had been, they'd all been torn apart. As they watched she grabbed a nearby arm and took a bite out of it.

"What's wrong with her?" hissed Stormchaser.

"She'd been tainted." replied the Harrowed "She's become a ghoul. There's nothing we can do for her. I'll drop the shield, you shoot her."

The turian-ghoul threw the arm away and tore off a chunk of flesh from a nearby torso.

"WHAT'S GOING ON OUT THERE!?" shouted one of the other prisoners.

"SHUT UP!" yelled the two Genlocks in unison.

Stormchaser trained his shotgun on the turian while Harrowed marched over to the rune that controlled the glowing magic barrier keeping the ghoul contained. He placed his hand on the rune, causing it to glow as it activated. The ghoul reacted instantly, as soon as the barrier was gone she dashed out, slamming into the Harrowed, pinning him to the floor.

"Getheroffgetheroffgetheroff!" He shrieked. Stormchaser aimed his shotgun at the ghoul but he couldn't get a good shot. While he hesitated the infected turian tried to bite the Harrowed's face but he moved his head out of the way just in time. Spotting an opening Harrowed bite the ghoul on the shoulder. It yelled in pain and reared up out of reach, which gave Stormchaser a clear shot.

The ghoul was thrown back into the cell by the shotgun blast. Harrowed staggered to his feet, spitting out tainted blood. "We bite back scaly!" he yelled at the ghoul, which was already getting back up for another attack. Harrowed picked up his pistol and fired six shots. The turian jerked and spasmed with each hit but she stayed standing.

Stormchaser ran into the cell and began blasting the ghoul at point black range.

"Why!"

BLAM

"Won't!"

BLAM

"You!"

BLAM

"Fall!"

By now the turian looked less like a ghoul and more like an animated corpse. She was bleeding massively from multiple gunshot wounds, there was a large hole right threw the lower part of her body and her left arm had almost been severed.

Having had enough Harrowed marched up to the ghoul, put his pistol in its mouth and blew out the back of its skull. This time she went down permanently.

The two genlocks stood triumphantly over their fallen enemies corpse. "You ok?" asked Stormchaser.

Harrowed reached up and touched his gums "I think I lost a tooth in that thing." the other Genlock gave an empty chuckle. "Ok. Go back and send out a general broadcast. Aliens can catch the taint. Where there's one there'll be more."

Stormchaser nodded and ran off back towards the guard post.

The Harrowed took another look around the gore covered cell. "And tell someone to send a mop!"

Asari Republic cruiser Illintia, Close to Relay 315

It's often said that first impressions are everything and this is mostly true. As soon as you look at someone you'll instantly draw up a number of conclusions about them, true or not. The first meeting between a council race and the darkspawn ended in an invasion and bloodshed so their impression of the whole council would now be that they were a hostile force out to conquer them. This ment that the Asari diplomats would have to convince them that the relay 314 incident was all a big misunderstanding and that the council was not their enemy.

The diplomatic mission consisted of one cruiser class ship. Some had thought it would be better to end the Destiny Ascension, but sending a dreadnought through the relay would look like the start of another invasion, while a cruiser still looked powerful but not too intimidating.

On the bridge of the Illintia Martiarch Nerysse sat in her command chair, looking out at the mass relay suspended in space before her. Everyone else on board was too busy rushing around to really admire the view.

Nerysse's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of her aid's voice. "Matriarch Nerysse? The ship is ready to make way."

"Yes. Thank you Iona." Nerysse looked over at the young Asari maiden standing next to her. Iona couldn't have been more than eighty and she was accompanying Nerysse on what could easily be this ships final voyage. "Relax Iona. Despite whatever you've heard about this new race they are not monsters, we won't be shot on sight."

"Yes Matriarch, I'm sure you're right." Iona's voice didn't hold much confidence.

Nerysse turned her attention back to the task at hand. "Helm, take us toward the relay. All hands! Prepare for FTL jump."

Near relay 314, Outside the interrogation rooms on the Redcilff

Vanguard had spent almost half an hour waiting for someone to show up and give him a progress report on the interrogations. He wasn't displeased with the wait; it gave him a chance to read up on the post-battle reports. Repair teams were already on their way from Thedas to fix the damage caused to Rivane, all damaged ships had been patched up and sent to the nearest dry-dock for repairs and a science team were on rout to the relay to shut it down to prevent any surprise attacks.

He was interrupted by a beeping sound from his wrist. Vanguard put down his data pad and answered the call coming in on his omni-tool. A holographic screen appeared above the hurlock's forearm showing a image of Forgmaster Arum's face.

"Omega. You asked for a report on the alien technology."

"Yes, but I ment in the form of a data pad."

Arum shrugged "Writing isn't my strong point, better to explain this way." The genlock pushed a button on his own omni-tool and Vanguard's viewpoint shifted to show Arum's entire body. The image he was now seeing must have been coming from a holographic drone that Arum had just created.

Standing close to Arum was a shriek who was intently reading his own data pad.

"This is The Seer, he's the one in charge of gathering information on the council."

The Seer looked up at the mention of his name, then he noticed the hovering drone. "Ah, right. Well my team and I have hacked into the 'extranet' and have begun mining data. We'll forward anything relevant but most of it is just pictures of naked Asari."

"What's the point of that?" asked Vanguard.

"We're not sure. There is one other thing. Someone else had a back door into the extra net."

"So another race was monitoring the council. Who?"

Seer shrugged "We don't know, when we tried to make contact the door closed."

Arum thanked the shriek alpha for his input and walked off, with the camera following him. Vanguard could still hear the Seer even though he was off screen "Hmmm, two Hannar one Asari? What is-ARRRGGGHH! ANCESTORS, MY EYES!"

Arum made his way over to a hurlock who was dismantling a turian console. "What have you found?" asked Arum, hopefully.

The hurlock stopped working and looked down at the Forgmaster "Well, these lights keep flashing in a pattern but other than that this machine seems to serve no function whatsoever."

"So to cut a long story short you haven't found anything." said Vanguard.

"No, we've found plenty." insisted Arum. "We've already unlocked their codex which has given us vast knowledge of the Turians and other races. They are part of a council that is ruled over by three races, Turians, Asari, Salarians. I'm uploading a copy to you know."

Vanguards omni-tool pinged as the file downloaded. "There is one other thing sir. These aliens are unimaginative."

Vanguard narrowed his eyes at the screen "Meaning?"

"Well...aside from a few minor thing they've copied prothean tech completely with no real innovation. If the prothean's didn't have it then the council hasn't bothered trying it. Even after discovering the relay we still had two teams looking into alternate methods of FTL. I doubt the turians even bother with such things."

The omega took a few moment to digest this "That is...interesting, and encouraging." The interrogation block door opened and a shriek stepped out. "Continue your analysis Arum, but next time send a report in writing." Vanguard turned off his omni-tool and stood up to face the shriek.

"Seeker."

"Omega, this way." the tall darkspawn moved aside allowing Vanguard to pass by.

"What have you learned?" asked the hurlock omega as the two walked down the corridor.

"Not as much as I'd like. Torture was never going to be effective so we summoned daemons to extract information. It was a messy business but we caught a break when we used a Desire daemon on their commander."

"He's talking then?" asked Vanguard.

The Seeker rolled his eyes "It's worse than a love struck drake. He just won't shut up. But that's not why I requested you're presence Omega."

The two came to a halt outside one of the many interrogation rooms. Seeker unlocked the door with his omni-tool and they both stepped inside. Sitting at the plain metal table was a turian officer, no different from any of the others Vanguard had seen.

"This is petty officer Nurel." said the Seeker. "You'll want to hear this."

The turian looked from the Seeker to Vanguard, then he asked "Are you the one in charge?"

Vanguard took a step forwards "I am the Omega."

Nurel had no idea what that ment but he guessed that this alien was some kind of ranking officer. "Listen, you have to understand. All this...it's just a misunderstanding!"

"Yes, clearly you're invasion was just a trick of the mind." muttered The Seeker.

"No." Nurel's voice was suddenly tinged with desperation as the tried to explain "The Hierarchy didn't authorize this, we didn't even tell anyone before the invasion started. This was all Commander Vanrick's doing!"

"And where is this 'Vanrick ' now?" asked Vanguard.

"He's dead."

"Even if this is truth, why did he do this in the first place?" asked the Seeker.

Nurel relaxed slightly, finally he felt like he was getting somewhere. "The council used to have no policies about activating mass relays. One day explorers discovered a system inhabited by an insect race called the Rachni. They started a war and nearly conquered all of Citadel Space. After the war the council made opening new relay's illegal."

Seeker nodded as he listened. "Yes, I read of this in your codex. It said nothing of a 'shoot on sight' policy though."

"Vanrick overreacted. If you saw a child reaching for a loaded gun wouldn't you pull him away?"

"No, how else will he learn how to use it." replied both darkspawn in unison.

Before Nurel could reply he heard a loud wailing noise from outside. He recognized it instantly as an alarm of some kind. Vanguard brought up his omni-tool and called Admiral Returned on the ships bridge.

"Admiral! What's happened?"

"Omega, the relay is activating. The genlocks couldn't shut it down in time! An alien ship is incoming."

Vanguard ran out of the room, heading for the bridge. The Seeker followed him out, locking the door behind him leaving Nurel alone. As Nurel sat there he quietly hoped and prayed that he would get out of here alive and see Palivan again.

In space, orbiting around Rivane's moon

Runtime 00005672fa6: Analyzing data. Processing. Darkspawn species has history similar to geth. Recommend establishing contact.

Runtime 85670dsb9 : Organic races have proven hostile to geth 100% of the time. Darkspawn race will act in the same way.

Runtime 00005672fa6: Darkspawn do not behave in the same manner as other organic races. We cannot predict their reaction to us.

Runtime 5209cag2: Asari cruiser inbound. Likelihood of diplomatic solution between council and darkspawn 69.87%.

Runtime 85670dsb9: Likelihood of darkspawn joining the council?

Runtime 5209cag2: We have insufficient data to draw a conclusion.

Runtime 6850fgu5: Data will be sent to main consensus. Geth will decide if we are to make contact with Darkspawn race.


And that's chapter four, all done and dusted. On a side note, I find it...difficult to think up names for the alien races. If anyone can think of any Asari, Turian or any names for any of the alien races I'd really be grateful. Thanks.