Disclaimer: Mass Effect is owned by Bioware and EA Games. I just play their games.

AN: From here on out, any Author's Note will be at the end of the chapter unless there is something important that I need to address... .:smiles:. Full summary of the story is in the prologue.


Destination Unknown

Chapter 1


Year – 2183 CE, Earth date April 9

"How are things coming along?" a dark skinned male human asked, as he entered a small office. He glanced at the young woman sitting at a desk and rummaging through a rather large pile of datapads sitting on top.

"Anderson, I don't know how you did it," the woman replied, wanting to tear her hair out by the roots. "How did you ever pick the right person to join whatever ship you served on? This is my first command assignment since being promoted to Captain and I have to pick my own command staff…You know I'm not good with this shit."

Captain David Anderson smiled at his protegee with pride showing in his dark eyes. He chuckled for a moment, earning a dark glare from the woman. "Shepard, you're much better than you even know," he answered, humor lacing his voice. "Your mother must be very proud of you, your first command being on a prototype warship."

Shepard sighed for a moment and leaned back in her chair, abandoning the datapads for the moment. She touched her hair for a moment and was relieved that the black, glossy mess she called hair was still in its high and tight bun. She still wasn't sure that it was the right idea for the Alliance brass to grant her command of the SSV Normandy, but she knew that she would do the best she could. After all, she was the only child of the well-known Hannah Shepard, captain of the dreadnought Kilimanjaro and being in the military was in her genes.

"She is…I got a package from her yesterday. The letter in it stated that since I am following a long line of Shepards who have became officers, I should have the sword that's been in the family for generations. She said that it was part birthday present and part congratulations on being promoted."

Anderson's eyebrows rose for a moment. "She sent Thorn to you? I thought that it would forever remain with her."

Shepard chuckled slightly. "Anderson, you've known Mom for much of your career. You should have known that the family sword would go to me as soon as I made captain."

"True, but I was hoping that she would be keeping it…"

"You're just sorry you lost the bet!" the raven-haired woman laughed, her bright green eyes crinkling with amusement. She laughed even harder when she saw a look of shock on the older man's face. "I know you and Admiral Hackett had a bet on whether or not Mom would give me the sword." She reigned in her mirth when she caught Anderson's mock glare, so she just kept on grinning.

"Anyway, I did sort of figure out that you may need some help on choosing the key members of your new crew," Anderson replied as he pulled up a chair to sit in front of Shepard. "First, have you decided on who's going to pilot the Normandy?"

The new captain nodded as she pulled out a datapad that was set apart from the others. "Flight Lieutenant Jeff 'Joker' Moreau is the best candidate for the job." She held up a hand to stop the man from speaking out. "I know that many people have issues with Joker, but I've known him for a while now. You know that he compensates for everything because of his disease. His snarky nature is why the two of us get along quite well. I'll need that if we ever get into any tight situations and…"

"And what?" the older captain asked warily, not liking the mischievous look in those green eyes staring back at him.

"And Joker is the best person to have when you need to put some arrogant officers and crewmen in their fucking place. He should be listed as a dangerous weapon with that sarcastic mouth of his."

Anderson just shook his head, but he knew that Shepard was right. Joker may rub people the wrong way, but he always got his point across. Clearing his head for a moment, he went to ask another question. "Do you know who you want as your Executive Officer?"

Shepard shook her head. "No, I don't, sir. The dossiers I have on potential XOs are adequate, but hardly any of them seem to match well with my personality."

Anderson placed a new datapad on top of the one the woman currently had in her hand. "If I may make a suggestion, Navigator Pressly would be an excellent choice. He got his field commission at Elysium…"

"The Skyllian Blitz," Shepard whispered, her eyes closing for a moment. She let the memories of the attack wash over her for a moment, remembering the screams of civilians as batarian pirates attacked the colony. "I think I remember Pressly. After the pirates were routed back into Terminus, a few groups of officers and soldiers came down to help with clean up and burying the dead. He was a little stand-offish at first, but when he found out that I was the one who held off the majority of the pirates…let's just say that I gained an ardent fan that day." She chuckled for a moment.

Anderson laughed quietly at that statement and then looked at Shepard in the eyes. "He is one hell of a navigator and I think you would make a mistake if you don't ask for him."

The younger captain sighed and looked at the datapad that Anderson had given her. Her eyes briefly skimmed over the information before laying it down on the desk. "It says here that he's still serving as a navigator on the Agincourt."

"I've already taken the liberty of having Pressly come here to the L5 station and meet with you." Anderson laughed heartily when he received a glare from the younger woman. "Look, I've known you, Wisp, and your parents ever since I enlisted and was selected to enter the N7 program. You know that I'm here if you need anything and to help you."

"Thank you." Shepard allowed a small and tender smile to appear before continuing. "I'm guessing you used your influence to pull Pressly from his current assignment…who else did you have in mind then?" At that, Captain Anderson began discussing who would make up the best crew for the Normandy

Meanwhile…

"Nihlus, are you sure we're suppose to be here?" a turian with a light tan coloring and blue facial markings asked, watching various people walk around L5's passenger terminal. He felt out of place with all the humans around. There were other aliens around, such as asari and salarian, since L5 was a major space station and port that orbited the human homeworld of Earth. He then glanced at his companion, another turian that had a dark coloring and white markings that were more elaborate than his own.

Nihlus chuckled softly and watched his protégée's mandibles quiver in nervousness. "Garrus, calm down. Yes, we are supposed to be here. The Council wants me to assess this human, Captain Shepard, as a Spectre candidate. And since I'm your mentor, you have to come with me to observe how a candidate is evaluated to be a Spectre." He then picked up his bag and motioned for Garrus to follow. "Come now, we wasted enough time and we need to find our hotel. Once there, we'll go over this Captain Shepard's dossier."

It only took a few minutes for the two turians to find their hotel. The human receptionist took notice of the two when they entered and immediately gave them the room number of their temporary residence. It was apparent to Nihlus that this frail-looking female was nervous because of himself and his protégée being turian. He bade the woman a thank you and chuckled somewhat at her relieved appearance when they made their way to the elevators.

Garrus grumbled slightly as the elevator seemed to take a long time to reach their floor. "We have some of the most advanced technology in the galaxy and no one seems to know how to make these things go any faster."

Nihlus shook his head and laughed as quietly as possible. "I'm guessing that the engineers of elevators want us to enjoy the view."

"Enjoy the view my ass," Garrus complained under his breath, drawing yet another amused glance from his mentor. "I just hope that I don't get stuck in one of these with someone I despise."

The older turian smirked, his mandibles quivering in amusement. When the elevator finally reached their floor, he led Garrus down the hallway to what was to be their room for the next few weeks. When they entered their room, it had a couple of beds off to one side, a table large enough for the two of them, a kitchenette, and a small bathroom.

Nihlus looked around and shrugged. He had stayed in placed that were much worse than this…actually, he had lived in places much worse than this, long before he became a Spectre. He set his bag by one of the beds and gestured for Garrus to do the same. He then took out a console out of his bag and set it on the table and turned it on. Now it was time to check on Shepard's dossier. He sat down and started typing on the holographic keyboard and indicated to his protégée to sit next to him.

"Here is the dossier the Council sent," the Spectre remarked, information coming up on the holographic screen. "It isn't much, though. This is a listing of assignments, some of which are classified. See this section?" Nihlus asked, pointing to a few paragraphs about Elysium. When Garrus nodded, Nihlus continued. "It's a small account on what happened on the human colony of Elysium. Shepard single-handedly held off those batarian pirates and slavers until help arrived. It takes courage, strength and skill to be able to manage a feat like that. This account here is from one of the colonists. He stated that Shepard took command of the situation, keeping everyone alive and giving orders to the surviving military personnel."

Blue turian eyes widened as he read the Elysium accounts. "Fascinating…too bad she isn't a turian. Can you imagine how many mating proposals she would have if she was?"

Nihlus chuckled for a moment and turned off the console. He stood up and made his way over to the door. "Very true, Garrus. However, we aren't here to discuss the improbabilities of Shepard as a turian." He then swiped his hand in front of the holographic display by the entrance, opening the door and gestured for his protégée to follow. "Come let us find some food. I'm sure that there is an eatery nearby that serves dextro-amino based cuisine."

XXXX

Shepard left her office later than she had planned. Captain Anderson had some very helpful tips on her future command and with his help, she was able to pick out her command staff. She sent in her decision to Alliance Command and decided to call it a night. She sighed a little as she made her way to a small restaurant called The Melting Pot close to a hotel that catered to aliens and humans. The Melting Pot. The name of the place always made her laugh…she supposed it was the owner's way of making a joke since there were quite a few aliens around now.

She entered the small establishment and quickly glanced around. It was busier than she had expected, but reasoned that it was right around dinnertime. Shepard noticed that the bar still had a few seats left open and made her way there. There were a couple of turians already sitting at the bar, but she tried not to pay too much attention to them. It wasn't that she disliked them, but the one experience with a turian she had met years ago…let's just say that it did not leave a good impression on her.

"Oy, Rufus," Shepard called out, getting the bartender's attention as she sat a couple of barstools to the left of the turians. The blonde middle-aged human hurried over to her and placed a shot glass with some amber liquid and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

"Ya want yer usual, Shep?" Rufus asked as he watched the woman down the shot glass quickly.

Shepard shook her head. "Not this time, Rufus. What's the special tonight?"

The man shrugged for a moment. "I think it's an asari dish…can't fully pronounce it, but it looks tasty…I think."

The captain laughed, her green eyes crinkling with amusement. "All right, just get my usual then, Rufus." The bartender laughed along with her as he left to go put in her order. She swiveled the barstool around to observe the patrons. It was mostly human, but there was a decent amount of aliens as well. There was a good mixture of asari and salarian, with the occasional volus. And now her attention was placed on the only two turians in the restaurant. This made her pour a shot of whiskey in the shot glass, down it quickly and do it again at least two more times before stopping.

Nihlus was looking up when he noticed the human female enter. She was wearing an Alliance officer's uniform and her black hair was pulled up in tight, high bun. She had an aura about her that exuded confidence, skill and danger. He took a sip of water from his glass so he could watch the human surreptitiously. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that Garrus was doing the same thing. Inwardly, he mused that his protégée had never really seen a human woman up close before.

When she sat down just a couple seats away from them, the Spectre kept an eye on her as he conversed with Garrus. There was a long scar on her right cheek and a couple of small scars on her bottom lip. 'She had seen battle,' he thought to himself.

"Are all human females like that?" Garrus whispered, his blue eyes furtively darting back and forth between his mentor and the woman. "The ones back at C-Sec were hard and…well, cold."

Nihlus chuckled, the flanging effect made the woman glance at him for a moment after the bartender left. "I think that it's just the ones who've served in the military, Garrus. Remember I had you read up on human history, especially on their culture?" When the other turian nodded, Nihlus continued. "It has only been within the past two hundred years that human women have been seen as equals of a sort. There are parts on their planet where the females are still seen as chattel and slaves even as humanity is becoming a major part of the galactic community."

"I see," Garrus replied as he listened to his mentor's explanation. He turned his head to fully take in the woman near them. He was accustomed to seeing asari back on the Citadel and seeing humans had taken a bit of getting used to. He supposed that this woman was decent looking, even with the scar on her cheek. She then noticed him staring at her.

"What?" Shepard ground out, her eyes narrowing at the blue eyed turian. "Why the fuck are you staring at me?"

Before the C-Sec officer could say anything, Nihlus intervened. "I apologize for my colleague's rude behavior. He has not seen many human females before, just the few that are in C-Sec back on the Citadel." The cold look he received from the woman was unnerving. He was one of the best Spectres in Council space, but this woman was slightly intimidating…well, only just.

Shepard glared at the two turians, balling her hands unconsciously. But before she could say anything, a man dressed in a tailored outfit leaned in between her and the two aliens. She glared at the newcomer with such venom that Garrus thought that the human man should have keeled over and died.

"Hey, babe, I'm new here and I'm Jason. So how about we chat a bit? That getup you're wearing makes you look hot and I just love women in uniform. We could have…a meeting of minds." The man smiled lecherously at Shepard, putting a hand on her shoulder.

Shepard brushed the man's hand off and narrowed her eyes at him. "We can't possibly have a meeting of minds."

"Why not?" Jason asked, his eyes roving over her figure. This made both Nihlus and Garrus uneasy. They saw the way that the woman's body was starting to tense up and her hands became fists.

"You obviously didn't come prepared. And you're definitely not man enough for me," Shepard drawled out, her mouth twisting into a smirk. "You're a civilian. From the look of your clothing, you sit in an office all day. My guess is that you're a pencil-pusher who just isn't getting what he needs at home." She leaned forward, her posture becoming menacing. "I'm with the Alliance, and I get to do dangerous things, and that can sometimes mean killing whoever gets in my way."

The bartender came out and set down a takeout box on the counter near Shepard. She looked at Rufus and nodded. "Thanks Rufus, put it on my tab." She glared once again at the man who dared to proposition her. "And right now, asshole, you are in the way of my dinner. I highly suggest that you go home to your wife, repent your sins and never come here again. You get me?"

Jason squeaked and nodded, quickly making his exit. The captain laughed slightly at the cowardly way the man left and stood up, taking the takeout box with her. She glanced at the turians and rolled her eyes at them. Just as she turned to leave, Rufus called out.

"Hey Shepard, I forgot to congratulate you on your promotion!" he said loudly as she laughed and waved. When she finally left the restaurant, the two turians looked at each other.

"Nihlus…that was…Captain Shepard…She's the one we're supposed to evaluate?" Garrus asked skeptically, going back to staring at the door.

Rufus turned his head to study the turians. They seemed to be an okay sort to him and he thought that maybe he should give the two a heads up. "If the two of ya plan on talkin' to Shep, ya need to know a couple of things about her."

This made Nihlus pay attention to the bartender. "Such as what?" he asked, becoming quite curious about the woman he might be mentoring in the future.

"I served with her before I was given an honorable discharge from the Alliance. One thing that is never put into our files is how we are thought of by those who serve under us. She's called the 'Ice Bitch' and with good reason. I'm not gonna tell ya why though. All I'll tell ya is that she does not like turians."

With that, Rufus left to finish some orders from the other patrons. 'Wonderful,' Nihlus thought sarcastically as he finished his water and food. 'Getting Shepard to join the Spectres is going to be harder than I thought.'


AN: And here is a good stopping point for this chapter. Sorry it took awhile to get it done, but the past couple of weeks have been a little…trying, to say the least. Anyway, this is just sort of a meet and greet chapter…a little longer than I expected though. And a big thanks to those who reviewed and put this story in your favs/alerts. It really made me feel good to see some people liking this already.

The thing with the sword will be explained later on as it ties into her family history.

By the way, this story has no beta, and I would like to have one. If anyone is interested, please send me a PM.

Edit .2010: Fixed a couple of things...thanks to Bluumberry for noticing the mistakes.