DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, STAR TREK, OR MASS EFFECT. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IS OWNED BY JOSS WHEDON. STAR TREK WAS CREATED BY GENE RODDENBERRY AND IS OWNED BY PARAMOUNT STUDIOS. MASS EFFECT WAS CREATED BY BIOWARE AND IS OWNED BY ELECTRONIC ARTS.
Rael'Zorah looked over at his friend in the other seat in the shuttle as they neared the Citadel. Normally, this sight had a tendency to amaze those who saw it. Ordinarily, they would have been delighted to be here but they were here on serious business that would shake the very foundation of the galaxy for years to come.
“Keelah, how did our ordinary pilgrimage turn into this?” Han'Gerral asked. “This is all your fault, you know.”
“Han, how is it my fault?” Rael asked his friend back.
“If we weren't sent on our pilgrimage early, this wouldn't have happened.” Han informed him.
“Yes, it's so terrible that on our pilgrimage we happened to be the first two quarians to meet a civilization whose technology is unlike anything we know and can defeat half a turian fleet with one ship.” Rael replied not turning his head to face his friend though the tone of voice dripped with sarcasm. “It's my fault that said civilization doesn't have the same prejudices as every other one that we know of about our species and even asked us if we'd like to stay onboard their ship and learn how to operate their technology.”
“Then, explain to me why we're here and not learning that technology.” Han said to him. “I would rather be back on the Reliant learning how warp drive works rather than going to the Citadel with a turian soldier in stasis in our cargo bay.”
“Because in a few weeks, the Admiralty Board will be sending us back to the Reliant anyway.” Rael replied.
“You think that will be true.”
“Han, we're bringing back to the flotilla useful knowledge of an advanced civilization that isn't going to blame us for something our ancestors did three hundred years ago. We're bringing back to the flotilla the knowledge that the flotilla will remain safe as a war between the turians and the Alliance or even a war between the Council and the Alliance would have allowed raiders and anyone else free reign to attack our home.” Rael told him. “The fact that we have two cases of phase pistols hidden away in a secret compartment is beside the point.”
Han let the conversation drop slightly until he heard the words “phase pistols”. He looked back over at his friend who acted as though everything was normal.
“I thought Captain Pratt said he couldn't give us anything they used.” He reminded his friend.
“They don't use the phase pistols. Those weapons were merely outdated designs that had schematics in the Reliant's computer.” Rael said turning his seat towards his friend. “Think about it. We are bringing back two cases of hand held directed energy weapons, something no quarian can say they were able to bring back on their pilgrimages, and you're complaining.”
“The changes though...”
“It's something that needed to happen.” Rael replied. “As they say in the Alliance, the boat needed to be rocked. The Citadel Council believes that they are the most advanced races in the galaxy. They believe they're unassailable. You saw what was left of those turian ships. That could just be the tip of the iceberg.”
“There's something you're not telling me, Rael.” Han said.
“There was a human woman I met in the detention facility the turian soldiers were being kept in on Shanxi. She was strange.” Rael replied. “Her eyes seemed to be able to penetrate into my very soul and the words she spoke...”
“What did she say?” Han asked.
“She told me that a shepard would stand alongside my daughter on the surface of our home.” Rael replied.
Before Han could respond, a voice over the radio interrupted him. “Citadel Control to Quarian shuttle, sending docking instructions now.”
“Well, as they say,” Rael said. “time to get the show on the road.”
“Citadel Control, please have medical personnel standing by.” Han replied to the controller. “We have a wounded turian soldier from the Eighth Patrol Fleet. He's about the only one that isn't dead or a prisoner.”
It took only a few minutes for the shuttle to land in the designated bay and the two quarians exited their craft pulling the mobile stasis unit which held Lieutenant Commander Victus with them. They saw the requested medical personnel along with several armed Citadel Security officers. One of the C-Sec officers, a turian in pale green armor, took a step towards them.
“How in the hell did the quarians take down the Eighth Patrol Fleet?” The officer asked with an angry tone to his voice.
Before either of them could respond, a heavily armed asari stepped in front of the turian. Every fiber of her being seemed to radiate danger.
“If you honestly believe the quarians defeated the patrol fleet; you need to ask yourself a question.” She scolded him. “Why would they bring back one of the wounded?”
Before he could answer her, she waved him away. The turian swiftly heeded her unspoken instruction and she turned her attention back to the quarians.
“My apologies for that. Tela Vasir, Citadel Spectre.” She said introducing herself.
“Rael'Zorah, my friend is Han'Gerral.” Rael replied introducing himself and his friend. “Han has the instructions on how to operate the stasis chamber on his omni-tool. Do you mind if he gives that to the medical personnel now?”
“Not as long as we get to talk.” Tela said nodding to the mentioned quarian to complete his task.
“Han and I were on our pilgrimage journey when we were attacked by batarians around Relay 314.” Rael explained. “We noticed it was active even though our prior knowledge of the area had listed it otherwise. Without a lot of options, we headed into the relay.”
Vasir nodded. “Understandable, better an unknown fate than to be captured by batarian slavers.”
“We were knocked unconscious soon after exiting the relay but we awakened in the sickbay of an alien ship. They had treated our injuries and even replaced components of our suits that had been damaged.” Rael continued. “We were allowed a surprising level of access which included a tour of the ship. You wouldn't believe this but they don't use element zero.”
“That's impossible!” Vasir exclaimed. “Every civilization relies on it.”
That comment provoked a laugh from Han'Gerral who walked back to his friend. “Tell that to the Systems Alliance.” He told her. “They just seem to like to break every engineering rule we can think of. Mainline directed energy weapons, FTL without mass effect fields, teleportation...”
“Goddess...” Vasir said as the notion began to sink in.
Rael activated his omni-tool. “I have letters from the turian P.O.Ws as well as reports from the officers.”
Tela activated her own omni-tool and downloaded the compressed files. She understood that it would have taken such a technological advantage to defeat the turians in a conflict.
“Why did they send you here with him?” She asked.
“Two reasons, the first would be that they were concerned they couldn't treat the exact nature of his injuries and didn't want to risk killing him accidentally.” Rael replied. “The second reason is that they don't use standard radio for communications. We brought a few of their subspace transceivers so that when the ship carrying their ambassador arrives, there won't be any misunderstandings.”
Tela Vasir walked over to stand in front of the Council. She was not eager to be there at this point as the three councilors who billions looked to for leadership were bickering back and forth. Her attention went first to the turian councilor, Aventus, who was adamant in his belief that the turian fleet couldn't have surrendered. The salarian councilor, Xanathan, argued with the turian adding that perhaps an ultimatum had been made that would have made surrender the only option. Tevos, rein in these fools before they do something everyone will regret.
She knew that one of the subspace transceivers had been installed in a C-Sec communications tower. The scans she made of the transceiver were already sent to her other employer, the Shadow Broker, for a substantial fee. A faster than light communications system that operated on alien principles was valuable information. Three more transceivers had been brought to the Citadel by the quarians which were sent to the salarian STG to be reverse engineered. The quarians themselves had already been sent on their way as they had no further information for them.
“Enough!” Tevos shouted. “This is getting us nowhere. We need to decide how we will react to this.”
“We'll have the Council races mobilize their fleets immediately and...” Aventus began to say before Xanathan interrupted him.
“And have every single one of those ships be destroyed as well.” Xanathan interupted him. “One of their starships defeated forty seven turian warships. What would their entire fleet be capable of against our combined forces?”
“So you would have the Council bow down and pray for mercy.” Aventus said angrily back at him. “I never took you for a coward, Xanathan.”
“I'm talking about not fighting a battle we know we can't win.” Xanathan replied. “This warp drive could mean the turians could have stirred a possible bug's nest. We could be facing a galactic empire that stretches for thousands of light-years that only chance hasn't had any of the Council races come across before.”
“Ah yes, the 'warp drive'.” Aventus said to him condensedly even going so far as to make air quotes with his fingers. “We have dismissed that claim.”
For those who didn't know salarian expressions well, they would have missed the clearly shocked look on the salarian councilor's face.
“Aventus, are you snorting red sand off an asari stripper's ass?” Xanathan exclaimed.
“That's enough out of both of you. Once they arrive, we'll have them do the same as every other race that has joined us.” Tevos told them both in a voice that was like a mother scolding her children. “They'll give us their technology and lower their fleet count to our standards.”
“Tevos?” Xanathan said.
“Yes, Xanathan.” Tevos replied.
Ever since the explosion that rocked the Exalibur, Lieutenant Junior Grade Hannah Shepard had spent the time cursing the name of Commodore Williams as she rushed back to her quarters to find her young daughter. Her heart filled with grief as she knew from what displays that still functioned that there was a hull breach in main engineering and emergency forcefields hadn't engaged that her husband, Marcus, was dead. She knew though that she had to keep going for her daughter. Almost stumbling over the broken and burnt body of a crewman, she made it to her quarters and prayed her daughter was still alive.
“ROWENA!” She yelled.
“...MOMMY!” Her daughter yelled back.
Hannah picked up her almost four year old daughter and ran down the corridor as carefully but also as quick as she could towards the nearest escape pod. “Warp core breach in seven minutes.”
That was the other reason for her haste. The life of the Excalibur-Class starship was now measured in only minutes that seemed to be swiftly ticking away. With six minutes remaining in the countdown, she made it to the escape pod and opened the hatch. She carried her daughter into the pod and sat her down in a seat. Hannah got the physical restraints on her daughter quickly and tapped the panel to activate the ejection sequence. “Automatic ejection sequence offline.”
The computer said. “Manual ejection required.”
The computer's voice stabbed her in the heart like a knife. Knowing that she would never get to see her daughter grow up, knowing she would never get to see her daughter graduate from the Academy, knowing that she'd never get to see the person her daughter would fall in love with or a million other things she would never see made her want to break down and cry.
“Mommy...” Rowena said. “What's wrong?”
Hannah kneeled down to look her daughter in the eyes. “Rowena, no matter what happens, I will always love you.”
Despite her daughter's cries for her begging for her to come back, Hannah exited the pod and pressed the control to close the door. Tears filled her eyes as her hand went towards the manual ejection control.
“HEY!” She heard her own voice yell at her. “WAIT!”
Hannah turned to see herself running towards her. She noticed that her other self seemed to have been in a fight recently as she had a cut lip and her face was bruised slightly. What Hannah did find curious was the fact that her counterpart had a bottle of Jack Daniels that she laid on the floor and a phaser in the opposite hand.
“How are you here?” She asked herself.
The other Hannah tapped the control to open the escape pod's door back up and pointed inside it.
“The warp core is about to breach in a few minutes and you're wondering how I'm here.” Her counterpart exclaimed. “Get into the escape pod and raise our daughter.”
Hannah stepped into the open pod and looked back at her counterpart.
“Thank you.” She said.
“No need.” Her counterpart replied.
The door closed and Hannah watched as her past self and her daughter escaped from the doomed shp. A few moments passed and the same man as before showed up to gloat just as he had before. He gloated as he had before about how he managed to kill the half of the crew that the accident hadn't killed. She listened as he laughed at himself that he managed to kill so many of the people she knew but still managed to miss his target. Her heart filled with rage as he said that he would try to kill her daughter later and just as before, he turned around to reconfigure his time travel device.
This time however, she didn't run and attack him. This time, she didn't fight him and trip him into a jagged piece of debris. This time, she used the phaser in her hand to vaporize him in a single strike. With him dead, Hannah sat down and picked up the old bottle of Jack Daniels that her husband had meant to open for years now but never had the right occasion yet. She opened the bottle and held it up slightly.
“This is for you, Marcus.” She said before taking a big drink of it.
She savored the smooth taste of the whiskey for the next few minutes before the anti-matter containment fields collapsed and oblivion took her.