AN:- So yes, I'm back. Now that I'm back at university I will have a lot more time for writing, and for viewing the sorts of things which get me writing. As part of a Fresher's Week thing I'm basically playing a whole lot of videogames, something I haven't had a lot of time for in the last four months, and I've started with Mass Effect. Just before I started, I decided I was going to write the entire thing, as I was playing it, so it was fresh in my mind. This is the first chapter, and sort of giving myself a clue as to whether this will even be possible. It took about three hours to write, and thus far has had very little editing.

I hope you enjoy the story of Maia Shepard, because I know that I'm going to!

(This is the revised prologue, so for any new readers, this is hopefully the much better opening, for people who wanted to read it again, I hope you like the changes I've made, hopefully it flows a little better now)

Prologue: Eden Prime

Maia Shepard looked out the viewport, wondering quite where she was going to be stationed next. It wasn't as if she had been given any hints from her higher up, and after the devastation she had lived through on Akuze, she wasn't entirely sure if she even wanted out of the little R&R break she was taking.

It had been three years ago now, and still the Alliance military didn't seem to trust her with anything more than milk runs and escort missions. She was so sick of watching a bunch of scientists fidget as they were catapulted from one end of space to the other, the next time she saw a white coat she was liable to start breaking things.

Her private comm terminal blinked the new message sign at her. She tapped it open and read the new assignment briefing. It didn't look too exciting, she knew Captain Anderson's name, but the ship was fresh out of the docks, checking her calendar, she was surprised to see she had only two days to report in. Normally an assignment was given at least two weeks in advance. Someone was trying to keep her new mission quiet, for whatever reason.

The Normandy, that was the ship name. She strode through it, heading for the cockpit. It was going to be yet another simple shake-down run out to Eden Prime, she didn't really know anything else. She arrived just as the pilot was bringing them up to the relay, the swirling blue sparks catching their ship and hurling it far into space, the inertia cancelled by the on board eezo.

The pilot was running through the ship's status when the Turian next to her spoke "1500 is good, your captain will be pleased." The translators usually did some job of bringing emotion across as well, so either her translator was malfunctioning, or this Turian wasn't used to giving compliments.

She stepped up behind the pilot's chair as the Lieutenant and pilot argued, when suddenly they turned back to her. "Yeah, that's is the official story, but only an idiot believes the official story."

"They don't send Spectres on Shakedown runs," She agreed, her mission briefing had mentioned the SPECTRE, she just hadn't expected him to be such an intrusion. It seemed like everywhere she turned on the ship he was looking over her shoulder, and in such tight quarters, it was really beginning to aggravate her.

Joker was about to say something more when the captain patched through. Mission reports before they'd even reached Eden prime? This was unusual. When Joker was finished talking to him, she was told to report back to the comm room.

"He sounds angry, something must have gone wrong with the mission."

Joker grumbled under his breath as she turned, "Captain always sounds like that when he's talking to me.

"Can't possibly imagine why." She was just able to hear the Lieutenant respond before she was out in the hallway.

She hadn't had that long to get acclimated to the Normandy, but she at least knew where the comm room was. Heading back through the ship she stopped quickly to talk to the XO, who was discussing the Turian. With very little prodding, she got him to reveal that the Turian was in fact a Spectre named Nihlus, and that Pressly at least didn't feel too happy having him on board. He was apologetic, but she sensed an underlying current of something more.

She didn't have time to worry about someone else's racism, but his paranoia was definitely something she had to investigate. He was right, they didn't send a crew like this on a simple mission. She reassured Pressly, and moved on.

Outside the comm room she met one of the corporals, who was talking with the doctor. He was overexcited, and very green, she could see it immediately. He might have rank, but he didn't have experience. She winced a little internally when he mentioned Akuse. That was not something she wanted to remember, and she told him so. She at least managed to get a little more information about Eden Prime out of him. Things were really beginning to get suspicious. Taking a fully armed crew into a supposed safe zone, and with a SPECTRE on board as well?

Frowning a little to herself, she headed into the comm room. It was time to get some answers. The Turian was in there alone, and she couldn't help but feel she'd been ambushed. She kept her tone civil as she answered his questions. He was being oddly antagonistic, she couldn't quite figure out why he seemed to be almost threatening Eden Prime, but she was growing increasingly tired of his attitude.

It was then that Captain Anderson came in, and they confirmed her suspicions; there was something on Eden Prime, something they were going to be collecting. She was annoyed, and didn't mind telling him about it. The people under his command deserved to be kept in the know at all times. She could understand his caution though. A Prothean beacon would be an incredible find, even if the other species were making use of it, it would be a crowning achievement for a human colony, a much needed PR boost.

That was when they dropped the other bombshell. Her, a SPECTRE, and the first human as well. They were really going for broke on this mission. If they came back with a human SPECTRE and a Prothean beacon, then who knew how far humanity could climb up the ladder of Galactic politics? While the prospect of going on multiple missions with the Turian didn't exactly entice, she knew it was necessary. After gathering some more information, she was ready to begin the mission, when Joker suddenly broke through the communications and transmitted a distressing video from the surface of Eden Prime.

We need to get there, Shepard was thinking, even as Captain Anderson was asking Joker the same thing. Whatever the ship was on screen, it was like nothing she had ever seen before, and that even the SPECTRE seemed to be a little disturbed by it was a lot scarier than it should have been. It looked like they were going in, and she was taking the L and the corporal with her. she didn't relish the thought of commanding again, but she recognised the necessity.

Down in the lower deck they were given more orders she didn't like. Ignoring the colonists in peril, just to focus on some ancient technology? It wasn't her idea of a mission, but the captain was adamant. At least Nihlus would be going up ahead, which would relieve some of the stress on her and her team.

She kept her weapon up as she led her team up into the path to the colony. Jenkins didn't seem too worried by the floating gas balls, so she tried to put them out of her mind. Thoughts and images came flooding back to her, leading her team through the wreckage of another colony, very similar to this, when suddenly the Threshers burst through the ground, and memories from even further back, another colony, when a frightened child had been unable to hold a weapon, and unable to fend off the attackers.

She shook her head a little, this was not the time, or the place, to be dwelling on memories like that. If she wanted this mission to go right, and these men to get out alive, she was going to have to project every inch of confidence that she could.

Reaching a small outcropping strewn with rocks, she gestured Jenkins ahead to scout while she and Alenko covered. She was just wondering why it seemed so quiet when drones shot from around the cover of the trees and opened fire on Jenkins. He grunted in pain as the slugs hit him, and even as she was bringing her pistol to bear her head was screaming, Not again, not again.

Recoil bucked up her arm as the pistol cracked. A couple of waves from her omni tool, and the drones exploded, flashing bright blue. She thought she recognised the design from some military history class, but there were more pressing concerns. Jenkins was down, and while she kept her voice steady, hoping Alenko held together, she knew it wasn't good. Only two minutes into a mission, her first big mission since Akuse, and already she was a man down. Biting her lip inside her helmet, she pushed on, hearing more drones around the corner.

There weren't too many, and now they were prepared she and Alenko were able to take them down with little stress. Nihlus radioed in about the dig site, but she was barely listening. Ahead she could hear gun shots, and the sounds of people dying. Moving fast, she crested the ridge just in time to see one of the colonial militia stepping out from behind a rock with her assault rifle raised.

There were two robots of distressingly familiar design. What the hell are the Geth doing outside the veil? She opened up her sniper rifle and fired twice, blowing the eyepieces off the geth and shutting them down for good. She stepped out from behind the rock to find a very scared Gunnery Chief waiting for her,

Their conversation was brief, to the point, and even in those few seconds she got a good impression from Ashley Williams. Even with most of her unit wiped out and her home for however long burned to the ground, she was holding together, and was more than able to give directions for them. We are down a man, and this isn't exactly a friendly environment...

She invited the chief to join them. They needed all the help they could get after all, and from the sounds of things they hadn't even reached the main body of the attack yet. The three of them moved off, Shepard more than a little worried by the bright colours of Williams' armour. I don't even know if the geth see colour, She reasoned with herself, The Threshers didn't, and that didn't stop them.

There were a few stragglers, a couple of outlying soldiers, but nothing more where the beacon should have been. They clambered up a hill and came across one of the colony outposts. Alongside them were spikes, and on top there seemed to be, she was loath to call them people, they were little more than shells, with circuitry running up and down their bodies. Why bother putting electronics into a dead body? Even as her mind was processing this fact her gun arm was already rising, far more aware of the danger than her conscious self.

The husks were dropped to the floor, but they didn't fall, pulling themselves off the spikes to advance on her team. They went down, but it wasn't easy, and when one of them got in close it released an energy pulse which fried her shields for a moment. Thankfully Williams put it down before it could take a bite out of her, but it was harrowing nonetheless.

Both Williams and Alenko were talking nervously as they went to the prefabs and opened them up. One of them required a little hacking, but it was nothing she couldn't handle. She was almost grateful for the electronics, at least they weren't resurrecting or trying to shoot her. Inside the shelter they ran right into a pair of scientists.

One was coherent, and apart from clearly being scared out of her mind was able to give them some information, though not much of it immediately useful. Shepard logged it anyway, aware that her mission was still the retrieval of the beacon, and then inquired about the other. He was out of his mind, babbling insanely, but still she couldn't help but frown at what he was saying. She had trusted the predictions of crazier before, and they had turned out to be true.

Once again the memory of the Threshers returned. Someone had warned them then as well, and she hadn't listened. When she turned back to Williams and Alenko her face was calm, but she told them to tighten it up anyway. No point getting surprised, especially when someone else clearly expected you to.

Stumbling around the camp site had managed to find them some new weapons, left over by the marines who weren't fast enough when the attack hit, and even some of the modifications soldiers liked to put into their guns. Shepard wasn't a fan, but she had to admit that having a slug with an extra twenty percent of force might just be useful. She spent a moment outfitting her team when they heard a shot ring out in the distance, over by the spaceport.

Nihlus?

She hadn't heard him firing yet, but she hadn't exactly been listening for it either. Either way she gathered her squad and set out again, the monorail now in site. As they came over the hill they saw something taking off in the distance, emitting some sort of noise. It felt like something was drilling into the back of her jaw, and as she stared at it through the scope of her rifle she felt memories bubbling to the surface again, painful memories, that caused her to blink tears from her eyes and turn away. She could see Alenko and Williams, neither of them able to look at the ship either. The noise faded, and it was gone.

There were a few more geth and husks, but for once they were far away that her sniping ability came in handy, and she was able to put most of them down before they even realised there was someone shooting.

"Good shooting commander," Alenko nodded at her.

She didn't respond, shooting was second nature to her, and in the six years since she had left Akuse, she had spent every hour putting more and more practice into her already formidable skills. Nowadays, as long as she was behind a scope, and the enemy a good mile away, she was completely in control.

The area was a wreck, some more colonists hiding in one of the shelters, who apparently had been smuggling weapons. She took their contraband, tossed the pistol to Alenko, and led them down to the structure. Nihlus was there.

Dead.

He was lying facedown in a pool of his own blood and brain fluid. The LT investigated and decided on a pistol shot to the back of the head. She had to agree. Someone had executed him, and he had apparently been unable to defend himself. It couldn't have been a geth attack, there was no way a SPECTRE would have been snuck up on like this.

As she was puzzling over it something moved behind the crates. A quick investigation revealed that they had found the smugglers' contact. He told them about the other Turian, who had apparently shot Nihlus, confirming Alenko's diagnosis. Saren. Shepard committed the name both to memory and file. She would need that information.

He had grenades, which caused Williams to come close to meltdown. Shepard understood, but she didn't like seeing it. For all her control, the Chief was close to snapping, and she didn't have time to deal with it.

Thankfully, there were more geth to deal with, and by the time they reached the monorail Williams was back under control. She breathed deeply and turned to Shepard as the tram car sped along. "Sorry commander, I just..." She stared back, "Maybe we could have done more."

Shepard didn't need to point out that another couple of grenades would hardly have made a difference, but Williams clearly knew that already. Instead she handed her one of the heavy explosives, "You still can."

They came sprinting off the monorail, heading straight up the ramps and out onto the walkway. The geth had planted bombs. Shepard spared two moments, one to thank her trainers in defusing explosives, another to thank some deity that Williams and Alenko were there to cover her, then set about defusing them. It under two minutes they had defused all of them, and were sprinting for the beacon. It was in sight now, and there were only a few geth and husks left.

She was transfixed for a moment, staring into the swirling vortex of green, then she turned away and called up the Normandy. Just as she was finishing the call she saw that Alenko had been caught by the beacon somehow, and was being raised into the air by it. She charged forward without thinking, and smashed him out of the way, getting caught into the beam herself. As she was raised into the air images began to flash through her head, worlds burning and alien creatures writhing in agony from the flames.

She wasn't aware of when she blacked out, or when the vision stopped, only that it must have, because the next thing she knew she was opening her eyes in the Normandy's infirmary

AN:- What surprised me most, writing this, was how much I could remember without even having to play it (Even as I post this I'm only up to the defusing bombs bit). Something tells me I may have played this game too many times. Anyway. Assuming I play through at my usual speed, and will ignore a lot of the sidequests (Some I will write for obvious reasons) then this entire story should be finished in about thirty hours (Or a bit more as I switch from playing to writing and posting)

I'm playing on easy difficulty (Because it's more fun and I really am just playing it for the story this time) with a Female Shepard named Maia. She has the Colonist and Sole Survivor backgrounds, because I think those two combined would make for the most traumatised individual which is something I wanted to explore. I 've never liked the portrayal of Shepard (even in game) as some sort of immortal badass wonder-woman. Someone with that much emotional baggage would be pretty messed up, which I want to explore. While most of what I write will have taken place in game, a lot of the deeper characterisation moments will be outside of canon (like the monorail conversation), though still plausible. For me Shepard is someone thrust into greatness, doesn't want it, but is unwilling to let other people down. This is because she witnessed not only her whole familiy dying, but also her entire unit getting wiped out, and it's given her a deep desire not to ever let it happen again.

As you can probably tell from some of the sentences, I will also be attempting to keep some of the Bioware tongue in cheek humour in this story (things like including the upgrade systems as an entirely reasonable addition to the world, etc.) Expect some fun Mako scenes, since I will be basing this story off stuff that happens to me directly in game.