MFSV Belari- Shala’Rann vas Belari
If there was one thing young Shala hated the most, it was scanning. She sat in the dilapidated bridge of the MFSV Belari and stared at the screen as it displayed the space around the ship. Empty, as it had been five minutes ago, as it had been for the last two weeks and as it would be five minutes from now.
“Keelah” she groaned inside her helmet, she would give anything for something interesting to happen, she was dying of boredom. The Nirnians would have told her to be careful what you wish for. An alarm blared, startling her out of her stupor, hastily she punched up the advanced scanning and squeaked in fear.
“Report!” demanded Captain Kal’Vanis striding to stand over her shoulder.
“A ship has just decelerated fifteen thousand kilometers of our starboard bow” she said anxiously as her fingers flew over the scanner, bringing up visuals. As the screen flickered to life everyone on the bridge gasped.
A gleaming golden vessel hung there in space. It was small, much smaller than the Belari, and sleek giving the impression of speed and elegance. “Is that what I think it is” whispered Shala’s friend Lia’Danal. Shala nodded mutely “it’s an Imperial ship” Captain Vanis said in a stunned voice, then snapped into action “hail them” he ordered straightening his green veil quickly and brushing non existent dust from his suit.
The screen flickered and revealed a golden skinned Nirnian with platinum hair, gold eyes and pointed ears dressed in white. The figure inclined its head “Drem Yol Lok Quarian vessel. I am Voice of the Queens Erenwyn Alkinus here as envoy of the Nirnian Empire to speak to the leaders of the Quarian Migrant fleet.”
There was a few seconds of stunned silence before Captain Vanis cleared his throat “I am Captain Kal’Vanis vas Belari nar Ulnay. I will send your request to the Admiralty board if you do not mind waiting.”
Voice Alkinus inclined her head again “of course, we shall wait. Please contact us when you are ready. In the mean time I invite you and your crew aboard our ship the Beauty of Dawn.” She smiled and there were some shocked murmurings across the Tonbays Bridge.
Vanis considered for a moment then nodded. “We accept your offer, a small group shall come aboard.”
Voice Alkinus nodded and smiled “mul yossu ven Captain” she said before the screen went dark.
Captain Vanis turned away “this is a chance to see the inside of an imperial ship! Rann go grab Zorah from the engines and Gerrel from the armoury, you are going are going to lead the expedition to the ship. Don’t mess this up or you’ll be scrubbing intake filters for the next two months.” Shala quickly stood and hurried from the room.
NIDV Beauty of Dawn- Ayrenn
“Your majesty are you certain of this?” Captain Nargosh Gro-Lagus asked nervously looking at his queen who was currently dressed as a simple Voice.
“Yes Captain, I am sure. Remember, you are not to address me as your queen. This is an extremely delicate negotiation. As you know the Quarians are among the greatest artificers in citadel space, yet they are treated as scum. We cannot allow this injustice to continue and the offer I am about to make is extremely delicate, I must do this.” Ayrenn informed him, fixing her blue eyes on the Orsimer Captain who swallowed hard, then bowed his head.
“Of course Lady Voice. I shall prepare the docking bay for the Quarian shuttle.” He told her, giving her one final bow.
Erenwyn smiled and nodded “thank you Captain, I must prepare to receive our guests.” She thanked him
before gliding of the bridge, smiling as her skirts billowed dramatically as she strode to the main
The eight Quarians sat nervously in the shuttle as it moved through the space towards the imperial vessel. Shala looked across at the two males Rael’Zorah and Han’Gerrel who were helping her lead this expedition.
The two of them looked like polar opposites, Han had the broad shoulders of a solders while Rael was smaller and of a slighter build. “Why are they sending us?” Han wondered as he plucked at a thread on his red veil.
Rael looked at his friend exasperatedly “because we are expendable” he told him “Three junior officers who are good at their jobs fresh off their pilgrimages.” Shala nodded at this assessment. They were expendable should the Nirnians turn hostile.
It had been three weeks since they had signed the peace treaty with the council and the Empire had been the reasons for some very happy Quarians. Anything that took the Citadel council down a few notches made the Quarians happy. “So umm, how’s Lia?” Rael asked Shala, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.
Shala sighed in exasperation “Why don’t you asked her?” she asked him pointedly and watched in some amusement as he spluttered.
“No! I can’t do that… she hates me” he exclaimed and Han snorted.
“Oh for the ancestor’s sake just grow a quad and ask her out already” he told his friend.
Rael spent the rest of the trip with a blush so heated it was practically visible through his visor. The shuttle shuddered slightly as it settled inside their hanger and the door seal popped, allowing for the door to be opened.
Cautiously the eight Quarians exited the shuttle and into a small hanger that had a gold and black shuttle and a few small fighter craft sitting in neat rows. Voice Alkinus and a green skinned male in a black and green uniform were waiting for them with.
“Drem Yol Lok, crew of the Belari. Welcome aboard the Beauty of Dawn” Voice Alkinus told them inclining her head in what seemed to be the Nirnian gesture of respect.
Shala had taken the lead position and she bowed slightly from the waist “Keelah se’lai Thank you for
inviting us on board” she said respectfully.
“I am glad you accepted our invitation, the journey to peace begins with a single step.” Voice Alkinus replied with a smile before gesturing to the green skinned male next to her “This Captain Nargosh Gro-Lagus and he will arrange for you to take a tour of our ship if you like.”
The captain bowed from the waist and gesturing through the door offered “if you wish a tour follow me” there was some hesitation before the Quarians nodded and followed the Orsimer though the gleaming halls.
Shala’s head was spinning at seeing such a beautiful ship. The walls were filled with decorative scenes and they were well lite by long strips of white-blue light that ran along the ceiling.
The first stop was engineering where a plethora of the various Nirnian races moving about in the organised chaos that seemed to be universal. Rael stared at the engine in wonder “Is that your drive core?” he asked, his voice filled with amazement as he stared at the gold coloured metal behemoth the was filled with an ethereal blue light and spinning rings that moved around each other in a precise and mesmerizing ballet.
A small blue skinned Nirnian female who had been standing and barking orders heard the question and walked over to the group “yup, that there is a top of the line Aetherius drive, fresh from the Blackreach shipyards.” She told him leaning on one leg and folding her arms while her claret red eyes watched the drive almost lovingly.
“What is it powered by? Eezo?” Rael asked his black visor reflecting the light emanating from the engine.
The female snorted “Hardly, this is powered by four titan class Aether gems” she pointed to four large crystals the size of a Volus in the center of the spinning rings she turned to them and held out her hand “Anara Velothrin, chief engineer of the Beauty of dawn at you service” she introduced herself and shook hands with the Quarian party one at a time. “If you wish you may stay here and watch, I’m sure most of us won’t mind answering questions” Chief Velothrin said to Rael who was bouncing on his toes in excitement.
The other Quarians laughed as he nodded furiously and as they followed the captain out of engineering they saw him listening in rapped attention as the mysteries of the Aether drive were explained to him.
The next stop was the weapons bay. Even though it was a small diplomatic vessel it still boasted an impressive main battery. The weapons bay was split into two sections, one for the shipboard weapons and the other for the armoury. This massive section of the ship was the domain of two males. The armory was run by a huge, almost seven foot tall Nirnian with rounded ears, pale blue eyes, long blond hair filled
with braids and a green handprint painted onto his face. He introduced himself as Toralf Anvil-hand, armorer and forge master.
The armoury was filled with long benches that held guns, swords weapons and armour in various states of construction or repair and anvil and forge surrounded by a plethora of tools was tucked away in the corner.
The main battery was the domain of a tall thin gold skinned male who appeared to be of the same race as voice Alkinus. His name was Mithllon Thromaire. He was extremely thin despite his impressive height and had pale gold eyes seemed to be constantly looking far way, like he was running long calculations in his head. His deep honey coloured hair was cut short and stuck out at odd angles like he constantly ran his hands through it. This, as well as his rumpled black and green uniform, gave him a perpetually ruffled look.
During the tour, Han was found staring at an impressive two handed sword made of black metal. “I wouldn’t wield that if I were you” the giant Nirnian rumbled as he stood next to the Quarian, towering over him and making him jump. “That blade is for bigger races, if you tried to wield it in combat you would be unable to move it quickly enough.”
He moved away to another bench and picked up a gold short sword and a oblong shield “I would recommend these for starters, you have muscles whelp, but not the kind necessary to wield a blade without getting hurt. Here try these on for size.” He tossed the shield at the Quarian who caught it with a gasp as the wind was knocked out of him and had just barely managed to settle it clumsily on his left arm before the hilt of the sword was pressed into his hand.
“It feels strange like it wants to tip forward” he wheezed, trying to get his breath back and hefting the sword awkwardly.
“That’s because it was built for a five fingered hand, since you have three the sword will be out of balance…” the Nord trailed off looking at the Quarian’s grip on the blade ” that would be an interesting build, push the weight so it balances properly…’ the Nord began muttering and approached the now nervous Quarian with a measuring tape and waving at the others “don’t mind me captain I won’t damage him.”
The Captain chuckled and left Han in the hands of the Armourer as he led the remaining Quarians through the halls toward the common area.
Shala blinked as she looked around, the decorated metal of the halls had been replaced by dark wooden paneling and the overhead lights had been replaced by amber glass lanterns that hung from sconces in the walls and sat on the tables. Openings in the wooden panels shaped like windows showed a vista of a rocky shore and water so blue it looked surreal, birds soared on air currents and the sound of the waves could be heard. It was like a whole other world.
In a corner of the room a tall being with pale skin, white hair, pointed ears and pale eyes picked idly at a long necked string instrument and behind a long wooden counter that sat at one end of the room was a Nirnian that looked like a bipedal lizard stood there wiping down glasses and cleaning the counter with a cloth. Other begins in black uniforms with red or green trim sat around, drinking and speaking in low tones as they relaxed.
As the group entered the Quarians gasped, it was almost impossible to believe that this was on board a ship, Shala looked hard out the “windows” and tried to see the circuitry or the screen that allowed such illusions to be visible, yet it looked real. “Ah Captain, and guests” the lizard said in a deep basso “can I get you anything?” he asked.
The captain shook his head “no thanks Blink, I’m just taking our guests on a tour of the ship.”
The lizard smiled, showing his many dagger-like teeth “in that case Welcome guests to the Diplomat’s Rest, I am Blinks-Sleepily-Once-Drunk, if you have ever the need of company, music and fun don’t hesitate to stop by” the captain laughed.
“Advertise on your own time Blinks” he scolded the lizard good naturedly and turned to his guests “if you wish you can remain here for a time and I will send your shipmates to you, or I can show you the last of the ship.”
There was some murmuring before Shala stepped forward “the others wish to remain here and I wish to see the remains of the ship if it’s not too much trouble.” She told the captain, trying desperately to not let her nerves show through her voice.
The Captain smiled again and said “then if you shall follow me Lady Quarian I shall continue our tour.” As she followed him through the gleaming corridors she found her mind drifting off to the room they had just left, such a room onboard the flotilla would be beyond popular. To be somewhere where the atmosphere was like that of a true building; that would be beyond price to her people.
The medical bay was very curious, long, low tables that looked like a combination of metal and stone sat in rows and were tended by a red haired woman in long beige hooded robes and a shrine shaped like an oval with pointed top and bottom and the image of a bird in the center sat in a corner surrounded by flowers and a few candles. More of those windows sat at intervals and showed a beautiful scene of a massive tree filled with dark pink leaves and white flowers in the center of what looked like an ancient city.
The bridge was circular with a large screen taking up nearly half of the wall opposite the door with banks of glowing terminals that radiated back like the seats in an amphitheatre and a simple chair for the captain to oversee everything.
Shala looked out the massive view screen at the Belari and sighed, the Belari looked so shabby, sitting in space with visible weld lines along the hull and carbon scores from debris. She narrowed her eyes and stared at her ship. It may not be much but it was her home.
The white clad Voice joined them as they stared out at the void of space. “Well met again young Quarian” Voice Alkinus smiled looking at Shala, then turning back to look out the screen “There is something soothing about the rich darkness of Aetherius” Alkinus mused, Shala looked around and found that the captain had gone and was now standing near one of the consoles being manned by a feline Nirnian.
She turned back to the Voice “Aetherius? You mean space right?” she asked nervously, her hands beginning to wring themselves, a habit she had picked up from Lia.
The golden Nirnian nodded and a small smile crossed her face. “When I was young we looked up at the stars and thought they were the small holes in the void through which the light of our gods shone. We never dreamed that one day we would stride among those lights and meet new peoples. It is a good time to be alive.”
Shala looked out the view and held back a bitter feeling that surged in her throat, she envied the wonder that the Voice felt. “What do you see when you look out there?” the Voice asked Shala, looking at her and cocking her head to the side, those deep golden eyes watching Shala gently.
“I see the empty prison that holds my people” Shala said bitterly “I see a frozen void that suffocates what little life my people have left.” Shala turned away from the view, blinking furiously to hold the tears she could not wipe away.
A slim golden hand came to rest on her shoulder “What has happened to your people is unjust, it should not have happened and the fact that it continues is abominable. That is why I am here. The queens learned of your plight and were incensed, the ground shook from the anger and rage in Ayrenn’s Thu’um while the storms of the north blew harder at the rage and magica Serana unleashed. They wish to see peace for your people, but they also wish peace for the Geth.”
Shala jumped away from her, anger clear in every line of her body. “The GETH?” she demanded looking at the Voice “They drove us from our home, they murdered us by the thousand, they…”
Alkinus interrupted her with a raised hand that seemed to be more of a command then a request “Yes but a story has two sides, you attacked because you feared reprisal, they attacked in retaliation and fear of extinction. Fear is what caused your morning war to begin and continue. But have you ever asked yourself this question young one: Where did that fear come from?” Shala opened and closed her mouth, trying to explain the justifications of exterminating the Geth.
Then a realisation dawned on her “the council” she whispered looking up at Alkinus. “It was the council, they told us that all A.I.s would eventually turn on their makers… it was the councils laws that made us panic when the Geth reached sentience…” she stopped, the enormity of what she had just realised hitting her like a tonne of scrap metal.
Voice Alkinus looked at her with compassion, something Shala had never expected from a non Quarian. “Let me tell you a story” she said, leading Shala back through the corridors.
“In the dark times of the fourth era, my race, the Altmer were led by a faction called the Thalmor, who decided that they were the superior race on Nirn and that all other races did not deserve to live as they tainted the Altmers divinity and made them mortal. So they began to conquer and kill all who were not Altmer and all who opposed them. The fighting dragged on for years and the deaths were numerous. At this time an enemy far greater emerged, Alduin the world eater. He would have seen our world end. But it was through his reappearance that the seeds of peace were sown. It took another Altmer to end his reign and to show her kin the wrongs the Thalmor. It was when she united the other races under a common goal and they became powerful enough to oust the Thalmor and establish peace. At this moment in time, the council is eerily similar to the Thalmor. They maintain their power by being the biggest and the meanest. They also keep other races from growing together. A divided galaxy is easily ruled. That is the strength of the Empire. We are all equal, all races have a leader who helps rule the empire. The Geth are like children that sit alone, young and afraid. Do not leave the child outside, take the child and care for it, shape it and raise it with love. Then when they grow up, then the two of you may stand against the storms of the world. Two candles are brighter than one. Remember that.”
Shala had followed her in a daze, the words of her speech filtering in and taking root in her mind. “I shall leave you with your fellows now young Quarian. May your roads lead you to warm sands” Alkinus said and placing a hand on Shala’s shoulder gently pushed her through the door.
The other Quarians sat inside listening to the music the pale Nirnian was playing and the song that accompanied it “Over the seas and over the lanes, for Ayrenn, Edlhorn or the Mane. Our Lords command and we obey. Over the seas and far away” he sang as Shala sat down on a low padded chair.
Over the seas and far away, she mused. Yes far away was home, and perhaps they would see it soon.
“My lady the Quarian vessel has just contacted us, apparently we have been invited to the Migrant fleet to meet with their conclave” Captain Gro-Lagus’ voice issued from the speech cloud that had appeared next to her. “Understood, I’m on my way to the bridge. Let our guests be for a little while longer, then send them back to their ship, we are not equipped to take them through oblivion.” She replied before walking swiftly back to her quarters to look over her notes again. Her mind kept drifting back to the young Quarian woman, her dragon soul had smelt the first stirrings of ambition in her, also on two others in the party. The male in engineering and the male in the Armoury. All three of them had the smell of power soon to bloom. They were the ones she had to persuade just as much as their current leaders. Ayrenn truly believed what she had said. But she was not giving a sales pitch for the Quarians to join the Empire. They needed to rediscover themselves first before they made such a decision. Until then Ayrenn would watch over them, they needed a friendly hand and Ayrenn was determined to be their shield if necessary.
A few hours later the Beauty of dawn floated before the massive swarm of ships that was the Quarian Migrant Fleet.
“This Is the Nirnian Imperial Diplomatic Vessel Beauty of Dawn, requesting permission to speak with the leaders of the Quarian people” Captain Gro-Lagus hailed over the comms.
“Understood Nirnian vessel, please follow the flight path to the Live ship Rayya and be prepared for a sterilization team to meet you as your ship is not clean. We also request that all visitors be dressed in environmental suits to prevent contamination” came the Quarian response.
“Acknowledged Quarian ship control. Beauty of Dawn out” Ayrenn nodded in her understanding and left for her quarters to pull on the Aetherius suit she had brought on this mission.
It was a smooth matt black suit that slid over her body almost seamlessly and encased her in a skin tight layer of ebony weave.
She looked in the mirror as she braided her hair and coiled it into a bun on the back of her head in the style used by soldiers, and slid the black helmet over top. It was a simple affair, smooth and tight with a highly reflective golden visor that covered her head closely. She then picked up the white, hooded, vest like robe that she settled carefully over the armour, flicked the hood up and tied with an emerald green sash around her hips before carefully tying the pure white ribbon around the hilt of her dagger that was strapped to her thigh.
She exited her quarters and strode toward the airlock of the ship, meeting the four Blades who stood waiting for her in their black Armour and green highlighted armour and crests showing their status as guards of Ayrenn to any Nirnian who looked.
“Your Highness, we are prepared.” The leader told her as they all saluted her.
She frowned behind her visor “remember that I am merely a voice during this mission Ondolemar. There is too much at stake for you to slip” she chastised him.
He bowed “my apologies Lady Voice, force of habit. We are prepared to run silent during this mission. When you are ready” she nodded and turned toward the air lock that opened and admitted them into the small decon chamber that blasted them with a cleansing spell to sterilize their armour and her robes.
A squad of nine Quarians waited for them, all with holstered weapons but wary stances. A green suited Quarian ran an activated omni-tool over them, checking for any foreign contaminants and finding none. “They’re clean” he reported before backing uo and taking his place among the ranks of the marines.
Ayrenn inclined her head to them “Drem Yol Lok, I am the Voice of the Queens Erenwyn Alkinus. By your actions I assume your leaders have agreed to meet with me” she asked/stated in the manner of Nirnian formality.
A black and white striped Quarian stepped forward “you have been granted an audience by the conclave and
the admiralty board, follow me.” She informed the Nirnians before turning and walking away through the halls.
As the moved through the dilapidated corridors of the live ship, Ayrenn had to work hard at surpassing her rage. Bare pipes and conduits held together by little more than prayers and wishful thoughts ran along the ceilings, while most panels had spots that had almost completely rusted through. Moister of some kind was pooling beneath several pipes that showed stress fractures and rust.
During her days as an adventurer in Skyrim she had often visited the grey quarter in Windhelm, this reminded her of that gods forsaken place.
Groups of Quarians poked their heads out of adjacent corridors and stood in groups in the large spaces, watching the Nirnian party pass with whispers and pointed fingers.
Finally then entered a large room that was filled with Quarians sitting in tiers like those of an
amphitheatre. She was directed to stand in the center and looking up saw a panel of five Quarians nestled midway up the seats. A Quarian in a cobalt blue suit activated his audio amplifier and addressed the assembly.
“This gathering of the Conclave is now in session. Blessed are the ancestors who kept us alive, sustained us and guided us to this season, Keelah se’lai” she intoned.
The rest of the conclave answered this prayer with those same words, a chorus of Keelah se’lai, echoing around the room. “An envoy from the Nirnian Empire has requested an audience with the Conclave and this request has been granted, let us now here what the Empire has to say.”
The herald continued and turned to Ayrenn, giving her the floor. She took a deep breath and stepped up to the podium, upping her audio amplification to suit the room, then she did something that shocked her guards who gasped loudly as she bowed from the waist her hand on her heart “Peace Fire Sky, conclave and Admirals of the Quarian people. I am the Voice of the Queens Erenwyn Alkinus, born in the City of Skywatch on the Summerset isles of Nirn within the Nirnian Empire. Around me stand the Blades of the Queens to ensure my safety. I greet you in the Names of the Queens Serana Volkihar the Pale and Ayrenn II the Golden as well as the noble council of monarch. I have been sent here to offer shelter and safe harbourage within the Empire. It has become known among the Empire of your plight and I wish to extend an offer to you in the name of peace.” She stood perfectly still as a stunned silence rang in the chamber.
“Three…two…one…” she thought, running off of the instincts that ad served her for two millennia.
Right on time the room exploded into the sounds of Quarians asking questions, voices piled on top of each other, clashing in the space above her as each one tried to be heard above the din. Finally the Admirals restored order by blaring a loud noise from a speaker that cut through the hubbub “Enough!” cried a female Admiral in an orange suit “what do you mean extend an offer in the name of peace” she demanded, her glowing eyes visible through her dark visor. Ayrenn took a deep and stealthy cleansing breath, this was it, the moment of truth.
“The queens offer you aid in the reclamation of your homeworld on the sole condition that a diplomatic venture willed be attempted first. If you are able to return home without the use of violence, then we wish to extend economic and military treaties and aid. Should diplomacy fail, then we shall aid in the reclamation through military means. A diplomatic ship is standing by at the edge of the Perseus veil, ready to enter on my command. Should you agree, then we shall attempt to make contact with the Geth within the day.”
Silence again reigned for a few moments as what she had said seeped into the consciousness of the Conclave. Then, the air exploded with sound. Ayrenn held in a groan, this was going to take for bloody ever.
Urdnot Wrex was in a bit of a quandary, this new Empire had kicked the council right in the quad, and he had raised a glass to that. But when he heard about how any species would be treated equally in their territory, he had paused. He had given up on his people so long ago that he didn’t really care to remember those days. Yet here was a chance to garner some sympathy and cure the Genophage. All that stood in his way was his own people and their suborn stupidity.
He growled and threw back the tankard of Ryncol, maybe it was time to revisit Tuchanka and see if it truly was a hopeless pipe dream. Throwing his credits down on the counter he stomped out of the bar and towards the docks.
As he walked he saw another dead body pinned to a wall with long metal spikes and a black handprint on the wall above his head. There had been more and more of those around lately, that and the thefts were beginning to make Omega seem less inviting.
If you were legitimate and kept your nose clean then you would be fine. But harm an innocent and you would suddenly find yourself stark naked with nothing of value and a black handprint next to your corpse. It was beginning to look like it would be safer to be innocent then it was to be ruthless here.
She blinked and looked at the message from her mentor again:
Tired of omega? Shall we see how the Citadel holds up? Find your own way there, excited to hear of your next exploits Kasumi. Your family will take over here for you. Stay safe, stay silent, stay hidden, stay lucky.
She quickly shut down her wrist computer and smiled beneath her hood. The game had just gotten harder.
He move quietly through the station. He had been given his mission by the queens and was now determined to finish it.
For weeks this station had been plagued by the darker elements of the Empire. He passed several bodies marked by the dark brotherhood and shook his head, hopefully those methods would become unnecessary before long.
He slid through the doors of the club afterlife, his cowl that had been handed down through his family for generations causing them to forget him almost instantly. Silent as a shadow he moved through the crowds of writhing bodies that stank of alcohol, desperation and sex.
Until he ghosted past the four eyed alien standing guard at the bottom of some stairs. Up those several more guards lounged watchfully around an Asari in a white and black leather jacket who sat scowling at a padd in her hand and sipping from a crystal tumbler filled with a green liquid and ice.
Gently he placed his package right next to her other glass and vanished as quickly as he came, a large grin adorning his wide mouth. The warning had been given. Soon there would be a new ruler on Omega.
She stared at the piece of parchment that had appeared next to her. It had been wrapped around a single alien flower with deep red petals and a green woody stem adorned with vicious looking thorns, the paper itself was a message, one that caused a fission of fear to travel down her spine. She hadn’t seen who had left it, and neither had her guards.
One thought filled her mind: She was screwed. As the paper fell to the table from her numb hand its message became visible: The Queen who stays too long shall die. Heed this warning, or the cries that shall echo shall be: “the queen is dead, long live the King.”
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