A/N: This is my first Mass effect fanfiction, and after reading a lot (trust me, A LOT) I started coming up with ideas of my own. Somewhat of a love triangle, I'm still going to label this as Shakarian. In this story, the first contact war has lasted about a year rather than three months. Also, the military terms I am using are based on the British way its organised because I am already very familiar with the terms and logistics. The moon they are on isn't named or mentioned where it is located yet because my brain hurts trying to figure it out. I may put it in eventually if i come up with something, but until then, just go with it!
The mission that was only supposed to last a month had ended up lasting four. The mild and tolerable weather had soon enough begun its transition into autumn, and that's when the rain came. It made the ground thick with grey mud, the clay like earth clinging to the boots of Cpl Shepherd. She was sick of the rain, but even more so sick of the mud. With the bayonet fixed to the end of her rifle, she expertly starting carving away thick swathes and clods of mud off, until her feet no longer felt like led weights that held in all the damp and cold. She wiped her nose with her hand, a grey smear streaking across her face that caused her to huff with exasperation, but she long gave up trying to clean it off.
She looked up when the private next to her sniggered at her new mud moustache and she frowned, elbowing him in the ribs. He staggered over from his squatting position, having to brace himself against the ground with his hand. He exclaimed in disgust as it sank into the ground.
"Serves you right Alenko" Shepherd said with a smug smile.
"Well, I suppose it's worth it to see you smile Shep. I'm tired of your face looking like a slapped ass." He grinned at her and wiped his hand down the front of his jacket. Shepherd glanced at him and rolled her eyes.
The two human soldiers were squatting next to a small fire. It sat in a half cut barrel, the metal long blackened and rusted. Carefully, Shepherd leaned her rifle up against the barrier behind her so that she could prise her gloves of her clammy fingers. She stuffed them into the front of her parka and cracked her knuckles. Stretching out the cold digits over the fire, she sighed, shoulders sagging. Alenko glanced over at his friend. She looked so tired and worn out. If he wasn't trying to keep a positive attitude he would say she looked half dead, but he tried to push thoughts of death from his mind. Her cheeks looked more sunken than he remembered and what used to be a halo of fire about her head, hung damp and limp, sticking to her cheeks and brow. Almost as if she knew he was thinking about it, Shepherd pushed a strand of hair away from her eyes, another grey smear joining the other, making her flesh look even deader. She sniffed unceremoniously and cracked her neck side to side, still rubbing her hands together over the fire in attempts to get some heat back into them.
The temperature seemed to be dropping lower and lower each day along with the morale of the Alliance Galactic Reconnaissance Corps. They were only sent here to investigate some abandoned Turian satellite transmitter. Soon after landing they realised why it was abandoned, the dense fog and rain along with the marshy terrain made working with any machinery or technology nigh on impossible. A lot of the tech they were sent to retrieve was half buried or caked in layers of earth. They managed to dig the majority out before the Batarian pirates showed up. With the element of surprise the AGRC were cornered but only took minor casualties, managing to keep the pirates at bay. It was expected that someone else would want to loot this moon. However without their hard armour suits a few gunshot wounds were sustained. The protective yet heavy gear was left in favour of the warmer, more comfortable and easier to dig in cold fatigues. This consisted of soft clothing as opposed to the moulded carbon fibre armour.
When the Turians showed up however, the squad regretted not weighing all the risks. However, upon the first few contacts it was noted that the Turians had made the same equipment error, and also lacked the necessary protective gear. Numerous Gods and spirits were thanked on both sides as the odds began to even out. Despite the Turians being naturally armoured, it was common knowledge amongst the humans that they could not defend against gunshots and shrapnel.
Each side held up on either side of a clear expanse that was little more than broken down crafts and vehicles, all submerged in the grey marsh that seemed to encompass the majority of the moon. The expanse of muddy land reminded Shepherd of the History vids they used to watch in school. A few shots were sometimes fired, but a major contact had not occurred since the Turians arrived. However as time dragged on it was more than apparent that they were planning one last push, it was against their nature not to. So now all the AGRC could do was wait, and hope that they can live long enough to push through to the shuttle located behind the Turian positions.
Alenko held out a shabby looking packet in shepherd's direction.
"It's the last one," he explained as he offered the cigarette. When she made no move to grab it he shook the packet a bit, the little paper cylinder rattling on its own. She shook her head and smiled.
"You have it," She said, smiling faintly "I haven't smoked since basic, you know that."
"I just thought it might calm your nerves, or at least remind of you some good times." Kaiden grinned and pulled it out of the packet, holding it up to his mouth he lit it and took a long drag, sighing out wisps and tendrils of smokes through his mouth and nose.
"Damn," he muttered, smoke still lacing his words "I need a steak to go with this,"
The sudden admission caused a guffaw from Shepherd, who had returned her hands to her gloves.
"A nice thick cut," He continued "red in the middle, I like it bloody…" He laughed and took another drag on his cigarette "Damn Shepherd we haven't had real meat in four months! What do you think Turian tastes like?" He peered over her, cigarette hanging from his lips that were curled into a smile.
Shepherd couldn't help but laugh as she leaned over and plucked the cigarette from his mouth. She took a puff, unable to stop a small cough join her sniggering as her lungs had been smoke free for so long. She appreciated Kaiden in a way she could not describe. Despite their apparent shitty situation he never failed to make her smile and remind her that she was not some earth caked golem, but a human like him and that together they could work their way out of anything. Nothing he said was monumentally meaningful, but in its own way was worth more.
"If you keep talking about food Kaiden, I'm going to make you eat my fist" He chuckled at her threat and she sighed out another laugh. After a few moments of silence she passed back the cigarette, merely a stub of embers now but she wanted him to finish it off. He plucked it carefully from her with his gloved hands, being mindful not to crush it. He inhaled the last of the smoke and nicotine and stubbed it out against the butt of his rifle.
" Well, when we get back to Earth," He said slowly "How about we get something to eat?" Shepherd groaned and nodded.
"Trust me Kaiden, that's my plan. Food, shower and drink are pretty high on my 'to do' list right now." She said. She looked over to him and he glanced away, looking at the ground intently for a moment.
"Ah well, what I meant Shep…" He started hesitantly "Get some food with me. Out. Together. Somewhere…" He let the sentence fade on his lips as he looked back up at Shepherd. She smiled and shrugged.
"I'm up for that." She said "As long as you are paying private." Kaidens eyes lit up as he grinned, nodding.
"Wouldn't dream of making a lady pay" He said, smiling coyly. She looked at him with an eyebrow raised and a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.
"Careful now, we know what the Turians do to liars," She grinned and stood. "Come on Kaiden, its our turn to do the perimeter check." She shouldered her rifle and lifted her helmet off the ground, plonking it on her head. "This is Cpl Shepherd and Pvt Alenko," She spoke into the com "Ready for 1900 perimeter check over." A crackling voice responded and she set off, trudging through the sodden ground.
Kaiden took a brief moment to take a last look at the fire, the orange glow reflecting on his face as the skies grew darker. He had significantly warmed up in the last few minutes, and not only because of the fire. He sighed and stood, hurrying to catch up to Shepherd. Well, he had to get back to earth now.
A/N: That was fun! It's amazing how a story moulds and changes as you begin to write it. I look forward to working on the next chapter, hopefully somebody else is looking forward to reading it. Please review and comment!