I don't own Mass Effect. I am not EA or BioWare.


Hi there! Thanks for stopping by a reading. The Steward is part of the Corsair Saga, which are both placed within Katkiller-V's Another Realm Universe and proceeds with his blessing. Thank you for reading (again) and thanks Katkiller-V for allowing me to open up some room here in your ARU.


Prologue

09-13-2176

Providence Base - SA, Providence, Rhode Island, United North American States, Earth


An overcast sky was doing wonders to drop the temperature across the grounds of Providence Base. Every now and then a breeze would blow in trace smells from Narragansett Bay though those were quite muted thanks to the abundance of trees surrounding the base. For most of the System Alliance personnel at Providence Base, it was really a pleasant, autumn day.

Except for the fact that Deckard Russell was currently receiving yet another concentrated fusillade from his recruitment class drill instructor.

"-told you maggots just twenty minutes ago I would personally be inspecting each and every one of your canteen's, did I not A1 Russell!?"

"Of course you did, Gunny!" Deckard blurted out as had been drilled into him the first day, nigh, the first hour since he had arrived by bus with the rest of his fellow A1's just three days ago. The 30 recruits were A1's, the lowest of the lows in the Systems Alliance military structure. They were young, dumb, and full of...ambition. The clay that had yet to be molded into something the SA could actually use against the rest of the galaxy. But Deckard Russell had wanted this life, far better than the life he was living back in Fredericksburg, Virginia. That's what his 16 year old brain told him at lea-

"Goddammit Russell!" Gunnery Chief Mark Matthews' explosion snapped him out of his thoughts. "What the hell are you doing?! Just wandering around in your head thinking of your mama's farm while you prance through the fields with a goddamn unicorn?"

"No, Gunny!" Unicorn?

"Then drop and give me 25!"

Deckard jerked his head in a nod and began to do the necessary amount of pushups as Gunny moved on to the next recruit in his squad. As he was halfway through his 25 count his bunkmate came prone next to him to start his own twenty-five pushups since, he too, had taken some water during their grueling two hour march and run around the base.

Dario Marmont wasn't a bad guy to have as a bunkmate. Respectful, good-humored, if a bit of a country boy. Still, Deckard liked him since Dario reminded him of some of his friends back in Fredericksburg. They were both 16, the legal age a citizen of Earth could sign up for the Systems Alliance Armed Services (with their parents consent), and both had joined after the shitshow that was the Skyllian Blitz. He didn't know the exact reason Dario had joined but if he had to put 50 credits on it, that reason couldn't have been too far from his own.

Deckard finally finished, his arms aching from the constant exercise and conditioning as Gunny Matthews reached the end of the recruits in his company. Walking to the front and center of the formation, Gunny paused before calling everyone to attention.

"Alright you damn lilies! I have been through enough of your shit for the past two days to pick out some leadership potential out of the pile of damn rose petals in front of me."

Why can't he just pick a damn flower analogy? Deckard thought before his drill instructor began calling out the five-person squad names they had all received the night of their arrival. He went through each of the squads, starting with Alfa, and began choosing a squad leader. Deckard and Dario were in Echo Squad, the last squad. And somehow, in his 16 year old brain, Deckard thought this was a stigma for all recruiting companies, to be the last squad. The look on Chief Matthews' face all but confirmed such a stigma for Deckard. He had to stop himself from taking in a gulp of air; he knew the man would notice.

"And you five. Echo squad," the name spoke with a little bit of vitriol. "Hard to say who has leadership potential thanks to your piss poor aptitude tests and evaluation results. But the Camp Commandant told me I needed to pick one of your sorry asses. A1 Wilmot!" Matthews barked.

A slim girl with very little muscle on her frame took her own gulp of air after the Gunnery Chief called her out. She was all of 5'6" and constantly lagged behind the other recruits during their exercises. And now SHE'S going to be leading us? Deckard derisively thought.

"Front and center, Wilmot!" The girl ran to stand with the other four squad leaders in front of the recruit company. Once she was settled in line, Matthews continued. "You five recruits will now be responsible for the wellbeing of your squad. If one of your squad members is shirking duties, whacked out on drugs, becomes a detriment to your squad, or equally causes your squad to fall behind in the coming weeks, it is your goddamned responsibility to kick them in their ass and get them into line. If you fail to curtail such behavior and I notice ANY conduct issues," his voice became almost unnaturally quiet from his normal treble, "then I will personally bring unto your squad the most vivid living hell that any human, asari, turian, or goddamned KROGAN has ever imagined! Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Gunny!" answered all five squad leaders.

"Then welcome to the rank of A2, squad leaders. To your squads...dismissed!" The five ran back to their positions in the formation as fast as they could. "I hope everyone liked my little pep talk to your squad leaders. They are now in charge of you. While I still hold the right to tell you when to sleep and when to eat, your squad leaders are in command. Yribarren! Do I make myself understood?" A quiet but quick Yes, Gunny rose up from the other side of the company. "Good, good. Squad leaders, take charge of your squads, break formation for chow...dismissed!"

"Echo Squad!" Camille Wilmot's voice called out in chorus with the other squad leaders of the company. "Form up in one rank, march!" She was getting ready to give another command before Dario spoke up.

"Cami, how's it feel?"

"Dario, shut up, we'll talk back at the barracks." The boy nodded to Camille and she took a breath to give the order before another member of the squad spoke up.

"Seriously Cami, already lording it over us?" Desire Jones spoke up from the middle of the line facing Camille. The frustration on Camille's face was evident as it started to turn read and her eyes narrowed.

"Shut up, Dee. We all know Gunny is watching us. And," an exasperated sound left her throat. "Damn, now we're the last squad here." She clenched her fists at her side. "Echo squad, by the left flank, march!" The squad left the area with Matthews' eyes burning daggers into their collective backs.

They arrived at their barracks with 45 minutes left to eat. As they cleaned themselves up from the morning's conditioning run, their new squad leader started in on them.

"Echo, what the hell was that crap? I'm trying to get our asses back here so we can get some chow and you start asking 50 questions."

"I thought it was only two questions?" Paulo Fraser asked. He was every bit the model soldier in appearance. Thickly built, 6 feet 4 inches of pure genetic perfection. No doubt his parents had money as all of the physical genetic augmentations were present that were legal in Citadel space. But even in two short days the others had taken note, this boy wasn't in Echo squad for nothing.

Camille glanced at Deckard as he tugged a new shirt on and he gave her a move along motion with his hand. "Umm, right Paulo, only two questions. The point is that Gunny obviously has a hard-on for making our lives miserable. As he said, none of us passed our tests with flying colors. So now we're stuck together or we all wash out."

"With Queen Precious over us." Desire interjected.

"See, Dee, that's part of the problem. I didn't ask to be squad leader, so stop already trying to tear me down. We get it, you appointed yourself as de facto leader of Echo yesterday. But tough shit, too bad for you, Gunny called my name. So get over it and let's get some chow."

Dee was about to say something before Deckard stepped in. "Alright, alright. We get it Cami." He began to shoo everyone towards the door. "Let's fight about this when we actually have downtime. Right now, I know that the men would like some food before Gunny's next test of our lack of physical prowess."

"Speak for yourself, hayseed." Paulo said as he walked out the door, leaving the others to catch up. Dario just gave a comforting pat on Deckard's back and muttered something about northern inbreeding as they followed in the big man's wake.

"Men?" Dee said as she came up behind Deckard. "Shit kid, I've seen things in my life that gave me more balls than you were born with."

"Don't take this too harsh Deckard," Camille said next. "But fuck off. Worry about your own problems."

Deckard stopped and stood along the path, shaking his head. Thoughts were already going through his head about how this was nothing like the recruiters said it would be and more like high school back home. Yet another reason why I graduated early and left that town. He brooded a few moments more before realizing he was the only recruit in his company that wasn't in the mess hall yet and hurried to catch up and get at least something into his stomach.


Thanks for reading! Feedback is appreciated as I write this fanfic. I'll respond to them as best as I can. If you have never read Katkiller-V's Another Realm series, you may want to read Another Realm I and II so that you can understand what is going on. But, it is not required for this story. Don't forget to Follow and Fav this work if you want to be informed when I get more written.