Author's Note: This is my attempt at an Aliens/Mass Effect crossover fanfic. Considering how Bioware seem to have used the idea of alien eggs and queens for the Rachni in the game, I thought it was fitting. The term 'frack' shamelessly stolen from Battlestar Galactica. But you probably already knew that :)

1. The New Lieutenant

Space, the final frontier, to boldly go where no man has...

Oops, wrong intro.

Lieutenant Commander Alison Shepard, the famed Savior of Citadel, survivor of Akuze, first human Spectre and destroyer of Sovereign jerked awake as the alarm sounded in Captain Anderson's small office. Even after six months, she couldn't bring herself to think of it as her office. Or even her ship. In her eyes, the SSV Normandy would always be Captain Anderson's ship. Maybe one day the Systems Alliance Military would promote her, give her command of her own ship but until then, she considered herself the Normandy's caretaker.

Alison moaned as she straightened up in the chair. She'd fallen asleep sitting up again and it was wreaking havoc with her neck muscles. She pulled herself more or less upright and slipped an unwashed cup under the nozzle of the espresso machine. She hoped like hell they'd run through the last of the stocks Garrus had brought aboard. Never put a turian in charge procuring coffee.

She moaned again as the thick black sludge splashed into the cup. She could almost hear it eating into the insides of the cup. Adams down in engineering said he could probably use it to degrease the Mako's engine. Alison gritted her teeth and took a slug. Coffee was coffee after all.

The Commander stood, smoothed down her shipboard uniform and glanced in the mirror. Not that she was overly girly - having her head shaved to a regulation buzz-cut back in basic and being forced to crawl through mud and God knew what else during training had knocked whatever girliness was left in her after growing up running in Earth's gang culture. She just wanted to make sure she was presentable.

The pale skin of her face was marred by knife-slash scar that cut diagonally across her left cheek, a constant reminder of her days as a teenage gang member on Earth. Still, she never considered having the scar surgically removed. It was a reminder of who she was, where she'd come from and it made damn sure she never dropped her guard around goons with switchblades.

Shepard splashed cold water over her face and combed a few errant strands of black hair into place. They fell back across her forehead immediately. Shrugging, Alison turned from the mirror and headed out the door, returning the salute of a passing crewman almost without thinking.

Alison headed up the Normandy'sbridge and took up a position behind her helmsman, Flight Lieutenant Jeff 'Joker' Moreau. Outside the forward windows, the purplish nebula surrounding Citadel glowed softly. "How long 'til we dock, Joker?" Shepard asked.

"Just under twenty minutes. What do you think is wrong this time? I mean, you usually just forward the Council mission reports over the extranet."

"Probably they just want to make sure their pet human Spectre isn't running around getting all Saren on the galaxy's ass," Alison shrugged and shoved her hands into her pockets.

"That or they're looking to hand you some Godawful mess and expect us to clean it up," Joker replied.

"Yeah, that's a likely story," Shepard replied and left the cockpit. She headed to the mass, thinking to find something to wash the taste of Garrus' coffee out of her mouth and quickened her pace as she heard raised voices.

Seated at the table in the mess, the krogan mercenary Wrex and Gunnery Chief Williams appeared to be locked in a monumental arm wrestle. Standing around them, several of the Normandy's crew had stopped work to take in the spectacle and egging on the pair.

Alison sidled up next to her XO, Pressly and asked, "What's going on?"

"The krogan was mouthing off about how he's a match for any species and Chief Williams decided to take him on, to prove humanity's superiority, you know."
"By arm...wrestling?" Alison rolled her eyes.

"Would you rather they settled things by shooting it out on board the ship, ma'am?"
"Good point, Pressly. Carry on."

At the table, Wrex' massive paw had almost engulfed Williams' hand. Veins and tendons stood out in the human woman's throat as she brought all her strength to bear on the massively built reptilian alien sitting across from her. Wrex seemed almost bored with the proceedings. With his other hand he began picking his teeth with a dagger.

To her credit, Ashley Williams wasn't going to give up without a fight, though she did look perilously close to dislocating her arm. A grunt escaped her clenched teeth and sweat trickled from her head. "Arrgh, come on!" she cried and hammered her other hand into the table, rattling coffee mugs.

"Had enough, human?" the krogan rumbled, "Or do you want me to rip your arm off and beat you to death with it?"
"Go to Hell, Wrex!"

Sighing, Shepard stepped forward and announced, "OK, children, playtime's over. Pack it up and maybe if you're very good, Mummy will read you a bed time story."

"This...isn't...a good...time...ma'am," Ashley ground out.

"That wasn't a request, Chief." Turning to Wrex, Shepard growled, "Release her, Wrex."
"Or what?" the krogan growled back.

Shepard pulled her special-issue Spectre handgun and pressed the business end to Wrex' head. "Or I redecorate the bulkhead with your brain, Wrex."

"You're bluffing," Wrex said flatly. Ashley pulled as far back from the alien as she could and twisted her head away. She really didn't want krogan brain matter splashed over her.

"Am I?" Alison said serenely, her blue eyes locked with Wrex' red ones. Shepard and Wrex locked eyes for several seconds, neither one blinking. Finally Wrex released his hold on Ashley's arm and shoved himself away from the table. Shepard reholstered her pistol.

"The hell are youall looking at?" the krogan muttered as he pushed past the Normandy's crew.

Williams rose unsteadily from the table, flexing her hand tentatively. The rest of the crew drifted back to their duties. "Thanks, Commander," Ashley said. Then, "You weren't really going to shoot him were you?"
"No, but as long as he thinks I would have, he'll respect me."

Joker's voice came over the intercom, "We're coming in to dock. The Council has sent word that you're to report to them immediately."

"Oh goody, another chat with the three stooges," Shepard said. Her history with the Council was an uneasy one. She had fronted the Council with information regarding the actions of the rogue Spectre Saren and they had dismissed them. Then when she brought them news of the Reapers, they had rejected that, then expected her to pull their asses out of the fire at great risk to herself, her crew and the Normandy. And did they ever say thank you? Hell no. Instead they packed her off to the ass end of space on some mission of vital importance - at least according to them and now they wanted to see her again and with no explanation.

"They never mention this side of Spectre life in the vids," Shepard said as she headed to the airlock just aft of the bridge. She paused at an intercom and called up the turian Garrus who was in Normandy's drop bay. "Garrus, you're up. Get your gear and meet me at the airlock."
"Yes, Commander," Garrus replied.

"Williams, with me," Alison continued.

"Aye, aye."

At the airlock, the pair of Alliance soldiers were met by the turian, Garrus. A former officer for Citadel Security, Garrus had chafed under what he saw as unreasonable rules and regulations and joined the Normandy's crew to hunt for Saren.

"What do you suppose the Council wants this time?" Garrus asked as the airlock cycled open.

"Well considering we saved that colony from certain destruction at the hands of the Geth, or whatever it is Geth have in place of hands, I doubt it's to chew us out. And I don't think they'd waste their time dragging us back here just to say 'good job.' So I'm assuming they're getting ready to throw us into the deep end."
"Again," said Ashley.

The airlock door slid open with a small whoosh and the trio stepped out into Citadel's docking area. Immediately before them stood a young human woman in the uniform of the Systems Alliance military. Shiny new lieutenant's badges gleamed dully from her uniform jacket. As Shepard and the others exited the Normandy, the woman stood at attention and snapped off a parade ground perfect salute.

"Lieutenant Sarah Piers reporting for duty, ma'am!"

Shepard exchanged glances with Ashley and Garrus who shrugged. "Guh?" said Alison. What was this, she just gets off the ship and some fresh faced girl who was obviously straight out of the academy was saluting her.

"Do I know you?" Shepard said.

"Oh, no ma'am. I'm been assigned to the Normandy's crew. Admiral Hackett's orders."

Oh joy, now I have to babysit some rookie on the say so of an Admiral who's so far behind the front lines he's forgotten what they look like.

"Could you excuse me for a moment, Lieutenant?" Alison stepped away from the younger woman and got XO Pressly on the comm. "Pressly, I got some girl out here, claims to be assigned to us by the top brass. Did we maybe receive some orders while I was asleep that maybe you forgot to tell me about?"
"No, ma'am. Wait, something just came through. We've been assigned a detachment of marines under the command of a Lieutenant Piers."

"And I suppose there's no explanation as to why we need a unit of marines?"
"No, ma'am," said Pressly.

"Great, frackin' great." Alison cut the commline and turned to the young marine officer who was still standing at attention, her eyes agleam with youthful exuberance. Tell me I did not look like that on my first tour, Shepard thought to herself.

"At ease, Lieutenant," Alison said. Piers shifted into perfect parade ground rest. I just hope she can shoot stuff as well as she can stand at attention.

"Lieutenant Piers, my XO tells me that you and a marine detachment have been assigned to us."
"Yes, ma'am," said Piers. She can't be a day over 21, Shepard thought. Somebody please kill me now.

"I don't suppose your orders can shed any light on why you've been assigned to the Normandy?"

"Here you go, Commander," Piers handed Shepard a datapad. The orders simply said that she was to report to the commanding officer of the Normandy this date and time. No further details were given. "I have a very bad feeling about this," Alison said to herself.

"Ma'am?" asked the new Lieutenant.

"Alright, here's the thing. We're under orders to report to the oh so wise Council and we're running late. Come with us. Get on the comm to your platoon sergeant and have him get his men and gear squared away on board the Normandy," Alison began double-timing it in the direction of the Citadel Tower.

"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" snapped Piers. And saluted again.

"Oh holy Christ, we're in trouble," Alison said.