Mass Effect and all related properties are the ownership of Bioware, and by extension Microsoft. If I tried to take credit for this, Commander Shepard would shoot me in the man jewels.

A slight spin off of Nobody Dies, following the continuing adventures of Commander Jane Shepard and her band of ne'erdowells, psychopaths, biotic powerhouses, and Garrus. I asked myself what sort of plot this could have, since after all, they're basically the A-Team in space.

Yeah, I didn't think it needed a plot further than that, either.


...


The alarm next to his console rings with a distinct ding, cuing in Jeffrey Moreau that it is indeed the end of his shift. While always hesitant to leave his station and his baby, they now have relief pilots thanks to the Normandy once more being in the hands of the Alliance. And, worse comes to worse, EDI can take control for brief periods. He doesn't mind that. EDI's a sweet girl.

"Okay, I'm done," the man known as Joker responds, pushing himself up and out of his seat as one of the guys he hasn't gotten the name of yet takes his station, "EDI, tell me if the shit hits the fan, okay?"

"Of course, Jeff. Sleep well. Remember to eat."

"Yeah, yeah."

He mutters to himself as he walks, bow legged, out of the cockpit, past CIC as Kelly waves to him in that incredibly cheerful Pollyanna way she has which he would think was so innocent if there weren't those rumors of her and Samara getting all licky and whoa nelly think of baseball as he enters the lift. Tapping the button for Deck 3, he whistles to himself, examining his fingernails studiously, raising an eyebrow as two tap taps lightly sound from above.

"EDI, what was that?"

"That was Thane. He plans to jump you."

"Very funny," he sighs, grabbing the broom kept in the corner of the elevator and whacking the ceiling, "Knock it off, fish man! It wasn't funny the first time!"

A grunt of acknowledgement, and a vent on the side of the shaft opening. Sighing, Joker begins walking into the mess hall, grabbing a protein shake as Gardner makes small talk with Kasumi. Well, that's two, he thinks, and if Kasumi's there she's not planning on jumping him. Just as well, he thinks, as he waddles into the men's bunks, finding them empty. Thankfully so, because he's a light sleeper and would sometimes power nap in his piloting chair but would wake up sore.

Carefully lying himself down on the bed, he folds his hands on his chest and begins drifting off to sleep. Dreams of large women and some other...things...begin to take hold, another reason he's glad that their main telepaths are either too busy doing administrative work or depopulating Omega. Silently, he begins to gently snore, eyes closing...

And then two black metal arms burst out from behind the bed and grab his head.


...


The entire mess hall stops from the sound of Joker's shriek before the pilot bursts out of the room and sprints like someone with his brittle bones should not, diving into the infirmary and locking the door behind him. Standing next to the door to the bunks, Kasumi Goto and Thane Krios watch as Legion walks out, the thin, expressionless Geth turning to them as it raises its flower petal like plates around its flashlight eye.

"Top that," Legion says, pointing a finger at Thane, "Bitch."

"Challenge accepted," Thane says, and hops into one of the ceiling vents.


Mass Effect:

Just Like Old Times


Tuchanka, homeworld of the Krogan race. One look at the planet and one can figure out how the Krogans evolved. After all, any planet which spawns Thresher Maws is perfect for a race of warriors that require anti-tank weaponry to deal with, and the nuclear winter doesn't help much, either. Things are looking up, though. Between head butt pissing contests and the occasional all out war, the guiding hand of Clan Urdnot has brought together the Clans in peace, harmony, and superior firepower.

The great and powerful patriarch of Clan Urdnot sits upon his throne of carved white stone, his red shell and yellow scales gleaming in artificial light. Majestic, powerful.

He really needs to take a leak. He's had to piss since morning, and it's been meeting after meeting after meeting. He honestly never thought he'd miss the Chief of Clan Uvenk, the one that the new kid, Grunt, killed. Well, he killed him with a shotgun. Blew his entire face off.

That was funny.

The new guy talks. And talks. And talk and talks and talks. He wants to tie him down and cut him open. See if he's a salarian in a Krogan disguise or something. Because no Krogan is this articulate.

"So, in return for a generous exchange of goods and services between the Clans Uvenk and Urdnot, Clan Uvenk will see fit to..."

More words. Why does he use so many words?

"Fascinating," Wrex says, scratching the itch on his nose, "Really. It is. What do you want?"

The representative pauses. He stares at Wrex and Wrex sighs. Once more, once more he must hear this crap again.

"Excuse me."

The representative turns just as a blue shelled, young Krogan walks up and headbutts him. Hard.

The representative collapses like a salarian in an asari strip club, groaning in a dignified manner before picking himself up and falling silent, bowing to tradition. Of course, Krogan traditions for interruptions use the same tactics that all Krogan traditions use.

Violence.

"Grunt?" Wrex asks.

"Chieftan," Urdnot Grunt says, bowing respectfully, "It is agreeable to see you again. Much has happened to me since we last met."

"Like?"

"I've mated!" Grunt says, and pauses, "I think. Possibly. Does Krogan mating involve power dri-"

"That's enough, Grunt."

Walking past the guards who respectively stand out of the way, the woman in the black plate N7 armor pulls off her helmet, stowing it under her arm. Red hair cropped short, blue eyes and a ever-present smirk, Wrex grins and hops off his throne. The sound the Krogan lord makes as he approaches is one unfamiliar to most around him. It starts as a rumble deep in the bottom of his throat, his lips parting and stretching into a rictus grin before the sound becomes even and measured.

Laughter.

"Shepard," Wrex says, clasping her hand in a handshake, "What brings you to my shithole?"

"New mission," Jane Shepard says, "I'm trying to recruit members of my old team. You're on my list. Feel like saving the galaxy, again?"

"Hells, yes."

Well, that was easy, she thinks, raising an eyebrow before sighing. The Uvenk representative clears his throat, silenced by another headbutt from Grunt.

"Okay," she says, "What about the Krogan?"

"What about them?"

"You know...uniting the clans? The reason you turned me down when I asked you when I had to deal with the Collectors?"

"That was then," Wrex says, shrugging, "This's now. 'Sides which...wait, lemme..."

Wrex begins digging through his armor, muttering to himself and cursing in Krogan. Grunt stands at attention and Shepard sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"Ah! Well, there we go."

Taking out the small box, Wrex flips it open, a ditty playing on the screen and a welcome message.

"We got the FTL ansibles working," Wrex explains, "I can, you know, leave Tuchanka and still keep tabs on everything for a week."

Closing the cell phone, Wrex pockets it, grunting and awaiting a response.

"If that is done," the representative for Uvenk says, "Chieftan, if we may go over the requisition-"

"Shut up," Wrex says, and grins, "Better yet."

He walks over, picking up the representative and placing him on the throne.

"You sit there for a week," he says, "Call once every day, tell me everything. If you don't, I cut your balls off and give them to him."

He points to Grunt, who smiles and waves.

Wrex grins, turning and skipping away from the throne. Shepard sighs, rubbing her temples and following the two Krogans back to her shuttle. One down. Two to go. This is going to be a long week.


...


Let me tell you a story, my brave little boy. What do you want to hear?

You want more memories? My poor child. You still trap yourself in your past, don't you? Does it pain you that much? Can you not let go of what has been?

My poor child. My poor, sweet, baby. Will you never let go of them? Will you never free yourself from those chains?

The presence has retreated once more. She stands alone in the green fields, perking her ear. She can hear the storm coming, turning, the chitinous interface armor of her masterwork turning in tune with her. It is not the sound of the storm that disturbs her, the rolling of the thunder and wind whipping beneath her feet as the sky turns dark and the trees bend in supplication.

No, it is the very presence of the storm. She is supreme here, after all. She is the Goddess of this world. How can there be a storm?

"What are you?" she asks.

The cloud takes a shape. Four eyes, glowing blue, cast in lightning and speaking with thunder.

We are Harbinger.


...


He runs. He saw them and he ran, and for the life of him he's never seen anyone run that fast. The moment the sensors at the Niagara Falls Preserve picked him up, it set off some sort of obscure priority alert, dating back to the early 21st. So, Alliance troops were dispatched via drop pod from the Station House and they pursued. And the moment this guy saw them, he took off and ran in excess of 100 kph.

Well, they can work with that. Alliance soldiers aren't exactly slouches, themselves. Years of progressive gene therapy results in any Alliance soldier being peak human. Running at 30 kph after him, he leads the squad, tactical stealth cloak allowing him to sneak ahead, dropped on point as the sensors hard wired into his full face helmet showing the target accelerating towards him.

His eyes glow blue, the implants at the base of his skull humming to life as he holds his hands out and wills thought into action. The air in front of him distorts, and the runner slams directly into a glowing wall of blue light, bouncing off and slamming into and through a tree.

"Damn," he says, "I've seen Krogan who couldn't take that."

Disengaging the magnetic locks on his back, he pulls out his pistol, the weapon folding out into full read state as he aims it at the runner. He stumbles out from the bed of splinters and dead leaves, staring at him, sizing him up.

"Damn," the runner says, falling to his knees, "Okay. Fine. You got me."

Beneath the helmet, he raises an eyebrow. That was too easy.

"Station House, this is Alenko," he says, "We've got the source of the alert. Send down a shuttle for pickup."


...


A spinning mass of Element Zero, outshining the local stars, sits at the heart of the megastructure hanging at the edge of the star system. Shaped like a set of prongs or a massive cannon, it fulfills the latter function admirably, propelling a ship that utilizes its function across the galaxy in seconds.

"So, Wrex," Jeff Moreau says, the bearded pilot tapping across the holographic displays as the Aralakh Relay begins to fill the screen, "That makes two bloodthirsty Krogans on the ship. I see this ending perfectly, Commander. Seriously."

Sipping the canned water, standing behind Joker's seat, Shepard smirks. Sarcasm is nothing new to her. In some ways, she runs the Normandy on a tight leash. In others ways, she relaxes. This is one of them.

"Oh, relax, Joker. What's the worst that can happen?"

"Grunt and Wrex fight, destroy the power core, we all die. Screaming."

"I think Grunt sees Wrex as a father figure," Shepard responds.

"Commander, didn't Wrex kill his father in a knife fight?"

"Good point."

The blue globe blinks into existence next to Shepard.

"Of course, due to Grunt discovering women, it may be less likely for him to engage Wrex in a fight due to his believe that he has mated."

"Yeah, how'd Mordin's chat with him going?" Joker asks, "Does Grunt know that the birds and the bees don't work like that?"

"Professor Solus is currently trying to figure out what Rei and her sisters did to him."

Both wince. When they went to that universe to pick up Tali, Grunt was abducted by a clutch of girls who could be called 'sociopathic' as an understatement, one of whom they encountered before. Of course, Grunt regenerates. That meant he wasn't permanently harmed. Outside of the slight...change...in worldview he now carries.

"Yeah, that made me throw up a little," Joker says.

Grunting, he turns back to the view port and the holographic displays of what lies beyond the visual distance he can see.

"Approaching Relay. Ready for Jump in 5...4...3...2...Jump."

The view blurs, becoming a shifting wormhole of light and electricity surrounding the Normandy as it jumps across the Galaxy in the space of three seconds. Another flash, and space becomes normal again, a blue green world displayed in the hologram.

"Well, home sweet home," Shepard says, "It's been...what? Ten years since I've gone here?"

"Yeah," Joker responds, "Same. I'd usually R&R at the Citadel or Eden Prime or Illium if I was feeling lucky. Never really went back here since I got my wings. Hear it's nice if you go to the right places."

Joker reaches out, tapping a communications control on the right, a full display of an orbiting, spire shaped space station appearing.

"Earth Space Control, this is SSV Normandy-2, requesting orbital docking permission at Kennedy Space Orbital."

A brief flicker. The same gruff voice they both know well enough.

"Normandy, this is Admiral Hackett. Permission granted. Your package is ready for delivery."

Joker snorts.

"So, he's a package," he says, and blanches slightly under Shepard's glare, "Shutting up, now."


...


The staff meeting called was very specific. Jacob Taylor, the chief weapons specialist on the Normandy and one of her potential love interests stands at one end of the table. Garrus, Turian, Cowboy Cop, Vigilante, and potential love interest, stands at another corner. Thane, Drell, Assassin, Ninja, and potential love interest, stands next to him. Miranda Lawson, genetically engineered perfect woman, biotic, genius, and possessor of buck teeth no one points out, stands opposite her as is befitting her XO.

"Okay," Shepard says, tapping her fingers, "We're getting a guest onto the Normandy. Garrus remembers him, he was on the first."

"Oh great," Garrus says, "Alenko?"

She nods. Miranda smirks. Trusted XO or not, the brunette loves seeing her squirm.

"So, I take this meeting is so we don't, say, beat him with the stick I've pulled out of my ass?" Garrus observes.

"Garrus-"

"He called you a traitor," Garrus interrupts, mandible flicking, "Based on intel he got from Cerebrus, and since he always had more than two brain cells to rub together he had to know it was full of shit. No offense, Miranda."

"None taken," Miranda says, cooly observing Garrus, "Of course, since you were in a relationship with Alenko, Commander, I can take it that this is for more reasons than to keep us from getting a pound of flesh out of him. Correct?"

Shepard nods, sighing. She hates it when Miranda is right. She really does. Not because she is right, but because she's smug about it.

"Partially," she says, "It'll be bad enough that he's suspicious. Him being jealous would be worse. I know that we have had some flirtations in the past, but we've moved beyond it and we're professional."

"Maybe a little bitter," Garrus says, rolling his eyes, "I mean, seriously, just because I could poison you..."

"Garrus."

"Kidding," he says, raising his hands with a chuckle, "As long as Alenko doesn't get in your face, I won't bite off his."

"As do I," Thane says, blinking his vertical eyelids, "I have not met him. I will reserve judgements for later."

"Same," Jacob says, tilting his head towards Miranda, "'Sides which, you got me and Miranda back together, so if you need us to smooth things out with him..."

Shepard raises her hand, smirking and shaking her head.

"What's past is past," she says, "Kaiden and I had something, but that was a long time ago. I just want to make sure no one holds a grudge for me. Understood?"

Four grunts of agreement.

"Dismissed."


...


A thought, crossed through streams at lightspeed. Thought faster than thought. Memories of distant shores, burning worlds. The ancestry of the soul that resides within, terrible and vast.

It names itself, briefly. It remembers what it was. Some name in a lost alien tongue, seeing what had come and fascinated by the possibility, horrified by the pain. Watching a genocide that gave birth to horror-

We are Harbinger.

The thought retracts, swiftly, retreating into the group consciousness. It is a nation in itself. It is Legion. The many who are One.

Such things do not matter. Such distractions are mere distractions, but it is careful. Only a handful of times have the Many rebelled against the One. Those times, were they laid low. Those times, did a Harvest fail. They are careful to never let it happen again.

We are Harbinger.

It is...concerned. It dares not state the concern. It must study, wait. The Ladder of Civilization was climbed not by one, but many this Cycle. The previous Chosen left ways in place to disrupt the Harvest. But why? Why would any race chosen for ascension purposely sabotage it?

The Protheans were unsuitable for Ascension. Too much genetic manipulation and mutation made it so there was no one pure genetic strain. So, they were remade into their glorious servants, whispered as implacable, vast, and omnipotent among the galactic circles.

And still, the debris left by the Protheans brought their downfall.

Another thought rises. A protest. You have been sabotaged because you are MONSTERS-

We are Harbinger.

The thought retracts. One dissension among 174 billion minds in harmony and endless bliss.

But that is not why it has come ahead of its comrades. That is not why the form of the two kilometer long cuttlefish slices through space, a hidden Mass Relay built into a dead moon releasing it into the ether of a cold star system, the star a flickering white dwarf.

They seeded a world, here. Then something else came. They closed off the Mass Relay seventeen Cycles ago, intending to revisit to see what had occurred, but then the Failed Harrowing of Cycle 891 occurred and they were forced to retreat, waiting while the Borxkai Skein species warred themselves into oblivion. In retaliation, when they had died, off, they came and scoured the galaxy of all signs of that species in pure, mathematical vengeance.

But that is another matter. Now, Harbinger has come. This world should still be thriving. It is fourth from its star, a perfect place to host life. Two impacts had struck the world early in its lifespan, seeding it with...odd...forms of life. They intended to study, possibly uplift these species to allow them to spread and eventually be Harvested. But now...

Now this world is dead.

A red ring orbits it. One of its moons are broken, shattered. Another is stained with a line of red.

And there is something floating towards it. Coming at it at a fraction of the speed of light. Scanners which can pinpoint atoms on a planet's surface come to bare. It stares at the approaching thing. Biological mixed with cybernetics, a mass of genetic materials. A life form made from many life forms.

It recognizes it, much like it would recognize itself. Yet it is only sixty meters from foot to head. Fascinating.

They had discovered how to make beings like them. They had discovered the creation of perfection. But where are they now...

Yellow eyes glow. Only two eyes, a simple and unwieldy configuration, the limbs- humanoid- unlocking as Harbinger approaches.

Then the metal around its silver and green jaw tears and the being comes to life, thrusting through the ether with a flash of orange, holding a rust stained, two pronged spear colored violet in its hand. It stabs the weapon into one of the tendrils hanging from Harbinger's front, and for the first time in a galactic turn, Harbinger screams in pain.

Taking advantage of the distraction, the purple armored giant speeds past the Reaper, eyes glowing as the Mass Relay comes to life, grabbing it and letting it escape to the galaxy at large. Self repair protocols come to bear. The damage repairs, slowly and thoroughly. Deep within its overmind, Harbinger allows a thought of curiosity to come to bear.

Fascinating.


...


"Wait, a second passenger?"

Admiral William Hackett rarely meets with them face to face, even though he has aged remarkably well by human standards. The advent and ubiquitousness of FTL communication allows things such as galactic teleconferences. But in all honesty, they suspected this was not a routine transfer when he requested the meeting.

Jacob is right behind her, his Cerberus uniform changed for the blue and gold of the Alliance. She brought along Garrus as well. Now that his Spectre candidacy was being fast tracked, she technically has him as an apprentice.

"The Normandy is also running a courier mission," Hackett explains, the white haired old Admiral leading the three through the lower levels of the Orbital, "We have a biological specimen that needs to be delivered to the Citadel. The Salarian Councilor wants to study it."

"It?" Jacob asks.

"Biological experiment gone FUBAR," Hackett explains, "Back in the early 21st, there was an outbreak of a virulent disease which had some...odd...implications. The main source of the infection managed to survive in Upstate New York, living off small animals and livestock. It was believed dead until it wandered into the sensor range of the Niagara array and was picked up. Didn't put up a fight, either."

"How come this isn't in the history books?" Shepard asks.

"It was hushed up. Considering how spotty records are in the early 21st, especially with the Flare and World War 3, and it's no wonder we lost most of the details."

The final door unlocks, the large double doors unsealing and opening.

"Of course, I more or less expect him to become a member of your crew, Commander. Considering your tendency to have...odd...specialists."

A single light comes on. It highlights the transparent glass case. Not glass. Not reflective enough. Transparent aluminum, Shepard realizes. The sort of walling used to restrain Krogans.

"That's her?"

The voice is low, choked. Throaty. Like someone who smoked from infancy to adulthood.

"Rise and shine," Hackett says with a smirk, "Your ride's here."

The man in the cage rises up, rolling his shoulders. He seems human, but...off. Odd. Wrong.

He wears a pair of blue denim jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a black leather jacket. The lettering on the jacket shifts back and forth as he moves, pacing the cage, leveling eyes that shift between blue and red at her.

"Is he human?" Garrus asks.

"He can fool any scanner if he tries hard enough," Hackett explains, "Cells adapt and reorganize on the fly. Can form weapons, shift mass. He's like a living ME generator. He's heavier than he appears. He actually weighs about a dozen tons."

"Can we please not talk like I'm not in the room?" the man asks, "Commander Shepard. They've given me Extranet access, so I've gotten to read up on you."

She nods, folding her arms. Raising an eyebrow, she waits as he walks up to the wall, the transparent sheet of space-rated material the only thing separating them.

"Well, then I haven't been properly introduced," she says, "What do I call you?"

The man smirks.

"Alex."


...


The presence, deep within the red crystal at the center, begins to stir. He has to run, he thinks, he has to find help. He has to get away from the thing that found him. He had to come back to the real world.

As much as it hurt. As much as he wants to stay in his own, private Hell.

He sensed a name deep within the mind of the thing that chased him, that found him. A name he is drawn to.

Shepard.


...


The airlock doors open. Staring past the light coming from all the sensors and the decontamination field, Kaiden Alenko locks eyes with the woman who, several weeks ago, he got into a row with on Horizon. This was not, he expected, the sort of situation where he would be meeting with her again.

"Permission to come aboard?"

"Granted," Shepard says, "Welcome aboard the new Normandy, Commander Alenko."

He steps in. The air shifts behind him, and Thane clears his throat. Kaiden jumps, turns, and locks eyes with the Drell as Thane...smiles...and walks past him.

"The crew's changed," Shepard says, walking into the ship next to Kaiden, "Most of the crew used to ber Cerberus, but they defected with me when we took out the Collector base. None of them really have Alliance rank, but none of them want to transfer off, either."

"I see," Kaiden says, turning as he sees the cockpit, "Joker! Good to see you!"

"Lick my crippled nuts, Alenko!"

Kaiden blanches, as Sherpard grabs his wrist and drags him into CIC.

"Yeah, some of the old Normandy crew got wind of our fight on Horizon," she says, "Give Joker a while. He'll warm up to you. Again."

"I hope so. What's the crew compliment on the Normandy?"

"Not big. EDI takes care of most of the background work."

"EDI?"

EDI's sphere appears in front of the CIC console, the red line flashing down the center.

"Commander, we are transporting our organic cargo into the main hold. All precautions are set up."

"Thanks, EDI."

Kaiden blinks, turning to Shepard.

"An AI. This ship has an AI?"

The lift doors open. Lightly stepping along CIC, Legion comes to a stop behind Kaiden.

"Shepard Commander. We request a moment."

Kaiden turns, screams, and grabs his pistol, holding it at Legion's head. In response, Legion unfolds all the petals around his head before ducking down, folding in on himself before turning into something with the rough dimensions of a suit case which wheels underneath the CIC console.

"Th-that...that's a Geth!"

"That's Legion."

"Why is there a Geth on the Normandy?"

Shepard sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"Yeah, I get that a lot," she sighs, "Legion, I need to brief the cargo. Meet me in my quarters in half an hour, okay? Is it important?"

"Affirmative."

"Half an hour."

Legion rolls out from behind the console, disappearing into the lift. Shepard turns, gently pushing down Kaiden's gun and glaring at him.

"No shooting my crew," she says, "It's good to see you, Kaiden, but some of our old friends are still sore at you about Horizon. So...go get some grub. We'll talk later. Okay?"

He nods, sighing as she exits, walking through the lift and riding it down to the cargo bay. And after a moment, he exits, to.


...


Legion pops back up as he enters the quarters of Shepard Commander. 01-829 have come to consensus. 830-991 have abstained. 992-1183 are in full panic mode, unable to judge the data received from the rest of Geth.

They saw it.

They saw it enter known space.

It was ignoring any attempts at communication or defense, not even bothering to attack. But that is not possible, isn't it? Aren't they destruction itself? Aren't they the legion that burns worlds?

Why is Harbinger here, then, Legion asks its many selves...

And why has no one died, yet?


...


"Rule number 1. No eating my crew. Rule number 2. NO EATING MY CREW. If you break any of these rules, I use this-"

She cocks the pistol, the barrel glowing blue.

"Which is called cryo ammo, to freeze your ass and dump you out an airlock. Into a star. Are we clear?"

Rather than risk anything on the bridge, the containment box containing Alex was set up in the cargo hold. The past two months allowed them to do a full refit of the ship, complete with repairing the armor where the Collector probe smashed in during their raid on their main base. Most of the supplies are off to the side. Now that the Normandy is back working for the Alliance, this lets them actually work like a normal ship; few months of patrols, missions, resupply. Patrols, missions, resupply. Repeat ad nauseum.

"Understood perfectly, Commander," Alex responds, cocking his head, "It's been close to a century since I ate anyone, anyway. I think I've kicked the habit."

The doors open as Shepard narrows her eyes, folding her gun back to standby mode and holstering it. She needs to get out of the armor and back into uniform. More importantly, she needs someone to watch this...thing with a human face who wouldn't be in immediate danger.

The heavy footfalls echo, and once more, the universe provides.

"Wrex?"

"Shepard."

The Krogan stares at Alex. Alex stares back.

"Wrex," Shepard says, "Watch Mercer. We're heading to the Citadel."

Wrex mutters something about being a head of state and nods, folding his arms as he leans against a cargo container. Problem solves, Shepard exits, already hitting the release clasps on her armor as she hits the button for Deck 1 and her quarters.

"Hey," Alex says, "Wanna see something neat?"

Wrex narrows an eye.

"Sure."

Which is when Alex punches right through the transparent walls of the cage and leaps at Wrex.


...


"I'm still curious why we're taking on so many high-profile passengers."

Tapping closed the computer screen, Miranda Lawson rises from her desk as the doors to her office slide open and, unbidden, the Alliance officer enters. Clean cut, fit, still in a set of N7 olive body armor, she notices the glow in his eyes as he enters.

"Ms. Lawson," he says, "I understand you are the XO on the Normandy?"

Miranda taps a button. The screen folds out to full wall length, a gesture from her slapping it against the shuttered window. His face, his records, displayed for them both to see as she purses her lips and stares him down.

"Commander Kaiden Alenko," she says, "Graduate of Brain Camp. 34 years old. Unmarried, two past relationships on record. One of the few successful L2 biotics still in service today, which is itself remarkable. Took a major part in the Citadel Invasion, helping to repel the Heretic Geth forces and defeat Saren. I'm getting everything right, aren't I?"

"Pretty much," Kaiden ays, folding his arms, "What? No listing of my being a Spectre Candidate?"

She stares at him.

"Kidding," he responds, "Everyone believes I'm going to be a Spectre. I'm not."

She taps her computer, the screen shutting down.

"What do you need, Mr. Alenko?"

"I'm making a social visit," he responds, hands still clasped behind him, "Having a civilian as XO on an Alliance vessel isn't SOP and we both know that. But I'm not going to undercut your authority. If Shepard trusts you, I do."

She looks up from her computer and the dozens of reports still waiting for her.

"I can also take some of your paperwork," he adds.

"Deal. What do you want in return?"

He smiles. It's a nice smile, she muses. His level of genetic engineering is quite a bit lower than hers, but the teeth definitely show.

"I'm just offering," he responds, grinning, "But...dinner, maybe? I hear your mess chef's a bit of a gourmet."

The alarms blare. Miranda curses, flipping on a screen at her desk and visibly sagging in her chair.

"Our guest has just started a fight with Chief Urdnot in the cargo hold."

Kaiden raises an eyebrow. He looks from side to side, and shrugs.

"Suggestions?" Miranda asks.

"Sell tickets."


...


A punch stuns him, instead of sending him flying across the room like Alex expected. Instead, the giant alien in front of him rolls with the punch and with a roar, brings his fist down with enough force to dent the steel beneath them, swinging a backhand which Alex catches across the face, and next thing he knows his back is against the cargo container on the other side of the room.

"Alright," he growls, rolling his head, "You're stronger than you look."

Wrex grins.

"You can take a punch better than a human, I'll give you that," he says, cracking his knuckles, "I knew I came back on for a reason."

Alex charges, crossing the distance between them far faster than should be possible, leaping over a punch and onto the Krogan's back. Alex's back opens up, tendrils slamming down behind Wrex's head, digging into hard Krogan flesh and into the spine-

And nothing happens. He should have consumed him, Alex thinks, and this stunned reaction is enough for Wrex to grab him by the neck.

"Three spines, bitch," Wrex roars and slams him into the ground before bringing his foot down on Alex's head.