The sunlight on the salarian homeworld was incredibly bright, and the very high humidity made it slightly uncomfortable for many species. However, that was not why John Shepard was sweating, as he was incredibly nervous. As if a normal commencement ceremony wasn't enough, being the first ever human graduate from the esteemed Mirat University in the capital of Sur'kesh definitely made it a nerve-racking experience. He glanced around the mostly salarian class, a blue asari body popping up here to watch their children graduate as well. Well, at least I'm not the only one nervous. Maelon looks like his eyes are about to come out of his head.. To most, the salarian would appear perfectly fine, but after spending three years surrounded by them, John could see right through the salarian's calm mask.

Before Shepard could start a quiet conversation, the esteemed speaker began reciting his speech to the crowd. Looking around the crowd, it wasn't difficult to find the only other humans at the ceremony; Hannah and William Shepard, along with his twelve year old sister Tara who met his gaze and waved a small hand; both apparently paying more attention to the speaker than himself, but still smiled and nodded at him when they realized who his sister was waving at. His sister's red hair quite frizzy, as the environment on the salarian homeworld was not too forgiving to those with longer hair. They were dressed in their formal Alliance wear, a beautiful hue of navy blue which represented the human military and space forces united as a whole. His mother's hair was wisely styled in a bun. Unfortunately, a large portion of their attention was needed on Dr. Solus, who was an extremely quick speaker; you really had to pay attention to pick up every word he said.

Shepard however, did not have the same problem, for as soon as he heard the salarian's words, they were forever ingrained in his memory. He had been diagnosed with hyperthymesia at a very young age, and when it was paired with an already exceptional IQ, he was considered a prodigy. Unlike many of the humans with this gift, which wasn't a large population to begin with, his condition had manifested at an early age. As a young child on Mindoir, he flew through the educational system provided, often requiring little to no intruction to fully grasp a topic far more advanced than any of his peers could even fathom. After graduating from the University of Southern Mindoir with honors in engineering at the ripe age of 12, he soon after became the first human accepted to the prestigious Mirat University on Sur'kesh. After nearly four years of extensive research, today he was one of the very few in his class being inducted directly as tier IV scientists. Only the top students received this honor, and the majority of the class fell in the level II or III range, while the future salarian lab assistants woefully received their tier I rank. Although humans had never encountered this qualification so far, he was absolutely certain it would be a definite positive.

Shepard brought his attention from the crowds back to the speaker. Something seems wrong... there's not a sound... him and every graduating student on stage silently turned to stare at him...a uncomfortable emotionless stare, and he instinctively looked away, back to the crowd. The hairs on his neck stood up when he realized every person in the stage had the same stare, all directed at him. Even his family had the strange appearance on their countenances. He turned back to look to the people near him, but no words came out, no air moving around his throat. What the hell is goi- BEEP!

John Shepard bolted up from his bed, covered in sweat, before grumpily swatting at the holo terminal, signaling the alarm to cease and desist its annoying beeping. Holy shit that was a weird dream. Speaking of Maelon, I haven't spoken to him in a few months. Salarians are pretty antisocial, but he really takes it to a whole new level. Probably why we got along so well. He was wondering why his mind had tried to distort one of the proudest days of his life on the short trip to the shower, still coming blank as to any interpretations. It was right before sunrise on Mindoir, and by the time he'd showered, and had his mother's homemade breakfast, the memory was one of the last things on his mind.

Shepard drove his car to the Kassa Fabrication R&D site, and as usual was already thinking about his latest project. Kassa Fabrication was a recent start-up human weapons manufacturer and research corporation, one of many companies that were attempting to put a stamp on human technological advancement on the galaxy. It wasn't the highest paying job he had been offered, but it was one of few where the director of the department had been alright with allowing him to work by himself. One of the unfortunate truths for a young man of his intelligence, especially one who had spent a great deal of his adolescence on the salarian homeworld, was a lacking affinity for social interaction. As such, he'd always preferred to work alone up to this point, which granted had only been a little over ten months. Shepard had made an rather risky gamble, taking a rather high paying contract one large condition; 45% of his pay was redirected towards company stock, allowing the company to use whatever assets he gained under their work to further expand. He had already dubbed his first creation the 'Arc Pistol', though its had very few analogues with normal pistols on the market. The new technology instead ionized the air along a pathway, allowing a high-ampere electric shock to disable shields and synthetic enemies alike. Although limited in range, he was confident it would be an invaluable weapon in the right hands. It'll probably be more of a private sector weapon, though. Can't see this thing on the front lines.

The door to his lab opened without warning, a lab only he and a few of the higher ups of the corporation would have access to, stopping his train of thought as he quickly turned to see who the visitor may be; Shepard wasn't surprised by seeing his boss coming by to check over his work, but more so the female clad in an ornate suit arriving beside him. A quarian? Why would she even be on a human colony?

"Mr. Johnson?" Shepard inquired cautiously. Where the hell did he find a quarian? Shepard had read that quarians were excellent engineers, and lived on a flotilla of over fifty thousand ships, and they had to live in those suits for most of their lives. However, beyond that, he wasn't too familiar with their species, and did not expect one to be on a remote human colony.

The older engineer made a motion towards the quarian. "This, John, is your new partner. She's been here on site for the past hour reviewing the new pistol schematics." What the hell?! They didn't even ask me if someone else could look at it before they just let anybody look through months of my work? Before Shepard could even get a word in, a scowl unwillingly appearing on his countenance, the director continued. "I wouldn't be assigning her to your project if I didn't think she would be of assistance. The heads of the company concluded although your research has been moving along at an acceptable rate, the faster this hits the market the better off the company will be."

Shepard's frown decreased slightly, though his face was not one of a very happy individual. "I thought I had specifically requested to work alone? You know th-

"John, this isn't up for debate. I'm sorry." The man said, his tone remaining neutral. "Besides, you need to learn how to work with at least one partner. You know as well as anyone that peer review is one of the most important parts of research."

Dammit... well, those suits are probably better than anything the Alliance has. Maybe I can actually get some useful tech advice from her. The clunky envirosuits currently utilized for extended human expenditures looked far less comfortable. Thankfully, he wasn't a part of the armor department, but it never hurt to have a little extra knowledge. "Alright, as long as you're sure she can keep up with me."

The quarian woman scoffed, but the director answered, ignoring his somewhat egocentric remark. "She scored highest on every single aptitude test on this batch of applicants, and even managed to beat two of your scores." He finished with a smirk.

Now that impressed Shepard. The director finished and headed towards the exit. "I've got to head back to work, keep me posted." Shepard nodded, then looked at the alien woman in discussion. "John Shepard, but please just call me John." He introduced, and the quarian cordially shook his hand. Their hands are pretty small actually, no need for a larger palm without all the fingers.

She looked him square in the eye, and he couldn't help but be intrigued by the bio-luminescence of her eyes shining through her partially opaque . "Daro'Xen nar Tonbay, but Daro is fine." The quarian glanced over at the terminal containing a floating schematic which he had been analyzing, then at Shepard. "I've had quite enough of listening to that imbecile who I was sent to. Your 'director' " Her interesting accent putting a negative emphasis on the man's position "could not answer a single one of my questions outside of the basic functionality of this design."

Well then, that's an interesting way to refer to one's boss, but I can't say she isn't right. Seems illogical to have a business man as the head of a research department. He kept his thought to himself, and raised an eyebrow at her remark, "I wouldn't say that to his face at least. But anyways, what do you want to know?"

Without any hesitation, she coolly responded. "Everything."

John Shepard learned quite a valuable lesson that day. If you ever have to give a technical rundown to a quarian, be prepared to answer questions pertaining to every single iota of engineering and technical specifications. Thankfully, Daro seemed to be as intelligent as proclaimed, and had grasped many of the unique concepts associated with the pistol's design. To his great satisfaction, she quickly began working on the power source, the one area he had been repetitively failing to improve, which gave him the excuse to focus on any other part of the design. I guess the director was right on at least one thing, peer review never hurts.

On his lunch break, which as usual he took in the lab, his usual haunt due to his lack of desire to socialize, his mind wandered towards the quarian's unique technology. The suits were obviously more than just a regular envirosuit. I wonder how much it'd cost to get one to the armor department... obviously one that's not in use. I'm sure there are many things specifically designed for quarian physiology, but it wouldn't be that difficult to reverse engineer more of the generic details. However, like any man of his age, his eyes lowered towards her hips and rear as she stood at a workbench facing away from him. She was completely engrossed in her research, citing her suit's on board nutritional storage as not requiring a break to eat. He quickly averted his eyes when she turned to the side to view another projection of a different area of the schematic, but John couldn't help but be impressed. Nothing on the extranet said their females had hips like that.