EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Tali'Zorah vas Normandy nar Rayya, Chief Engineer of the SR-2 Normandy:

Since the Battle of the Citadel two years ago she's worked in the Migrant Fleet as a combat engineer. Now once again under Commander Shepard, Spectre, Hero of the Citadel, and Survivor of Akuze she works as the Chief Engineer on a ship considered the singular most advanced vessel in Citadel Space and possibly the Galaxy as a whole.

Popular Mechanics: How did you end up working for Commander Shepard, quarians are rarely seen outside the fleet and very rarely in positions of such importance as this?

Tali'Zorah: Well, two years ago I was on my pilgrimage. It's a rite of passage for all quarians where we venture away from the fleet in search of a gift. During my travels I had found evidence implicating Saren in the attack on Eden Prime. Saren sent assassins after me and in one of the lower wards of the Citadel I was betrayed to them. Commander Shepard had been looking for evidence and he showed up just in the nick of time really. I got to present the evidence I found to the council and joined his crew. I think he wanted a geth expert and there isn't anyone alive that knows as much about them as we quarians.

Popular Mechanics: So you were a member of the crew of the SSV Normandy,the original ship then?

Tali'Zorah: Yes, I worked as an assistant engineer under Chief Adams and was also part of the ground team. Most of the ground team had a shipboard role, except the krogan, Urdnot Wrex. It was tough going at times, searching for leads, hunting down evidence and scraps of information. It was also one of the best times in my life, everyone worked so well together once we got to know each other. Then when the collectors destroyed the Normandy after all that struggle together it sort of fell apart.

Popular Mechanics: So it was the collectors that destroyed the Normandy? The official Council report claimed it was destroyed by the geth.

Tali'Zorah: It wasn't the geth. Honestly I don't think they had any idea what happened, the ship's silhouette was unknown so they just pegged it as what we were out there fighting. We didn't find out it was the collectors till after Shepard showed up with the new ship.

Popular Mechanics: So, the SR-2, what's it like? We haven't heard much or seen much beside a few images some people took on the Citadel.

Tali'Zorah: I thought the SR-1 was an unbelievable ship, but it seems that they took it a step further with the replacement. She's bigger, better armed, and more powerful than the ship she replaced. Inside the ship has the same basic layout just made larger and with some needed improvements, though there are still a number of things the Commander complains about.

Popular Mechanics: The SR-1 set mass-displacement records in maneuvers, how well does the SR-2 stack up there?

Tali'Zorah: The old ship used a rotating Tantalus drive core that took up almost all of engineering and most of ship's interior. The SR-2 uses a single stationary drive core at the ship's center of mass. Due to the lack of rotation mechanisms it can deliver as much displacement power as the SR-1 in a much smaller package.

Soon after we came aboard we did a drive test in the Omega asteroid field to calibrate the mass changes after an armor upgrade. After the calibration we found that we'd beaten the old record by about two percent. Not much but considering how much bigger the ship is, it's impressive.

Popular Mechanics: You mentioned an armor upgrade? How can this brand new vessel require an upgrade already?

Tali'Zorah: When it was commissioned the SR-2 used the same basic performance specifications. However, in the time since the keel was laid down nearly two years ago a number of new technologies in armor, shields, and weaponry were developed. Since launch we've been adding those upgrades whenever we had the opportunity.

Popular Mechanics: Among these upgrades you mentioned weaponry. Rumors say you have a geth based main gun on the ship?

Tali'Zorah: Yes, well the two N-88 Thanix Hydrodynamic Cannons which we've got mounted is derived from the reverse engineering of the weapon systems found on Sovereign, the vessel that attacked the Citadel two years ago. Each uses an 18.8 kg slug mass which is superheated into molten plasma then accelerated to around 5% of the speed of light. Unfortunately due to the way plasma behaves in space the gun has very limited range. So far nothing we've faced has had shields powerful enough to hold off that weapon. It requires constant calibration and power balancing on the engineering end, making it a bit of a maintenance nightmare.

Popular Mechanics: You mentioned upgrades to shields and armor?

Tali'Zorah: Yes, after the destruction of the first Normandy at the hands of the collectors we found that both the armor and shields simply weren't a match for the particle beam weapon systems that the Collectors favored. The original armor has been replaced with Silaris Armor, which uses carbon nanofiber sheets compressed with mass fields for extremely high strength and thermal resilience. It's like flying the ship with a diamond encrusted hull.

As for shields, I helped install a set of Cyclonic Barrier generators. Most kinetic barrier systems focus on directly stopping an incoming projectile or object be it debris, mass-driver rounds, or a beam of energized particles. The Cyclonic Barrier allows for more efficient use of power and the kinetic barriers by redirecting such impacts instead of stopping them cold, like parrying a blow instead of stopping it cold.

Popular Mechanics: Rumors state that the ship was provided by Cerberus, how can you work on the vessel considering Cerberus's actions against the Migrant Fleet?

Tali'Zorah: I work for Shepard, not Cerberus. Most of the crew was recruited from the Alliance and so far I haven't found any of them to harbor any resentment or hostility toward myself or the Migrant Fleet. Well, except for the Cerberus assigned XO. It's true that the ship was produced by them, but the ship really belongs to the Commander.

Popular Mechanics: You worked as a combat engineer and as part of the ground team on both Normandy's. What can you say about being part of one of the most feared combat teams in the galaxy?

Tali'Zorah: It's… interesting the diverse group of people that the Commander can pull together always amazes me. We've got krogan, asari, turian, human, drell, and salarian team members aboard, plus me. Most of the crew is human but they get along so well with the rest of us it's rather amazing at times.

It's an honor, I guess, working with a team of the galaxy's best, and even more so to be working under a man like Commander Shepard.

Popular Mechanics: As a combat engineer I bet you have loads of tricks to using your omni-tool both in and out of combat.

Tali'Zorah: You can say that, in the old days I had to rely on the micro-manufacture system in my omni-tool to manufacture and configure tech mines in combat. Of course some old tactics like sabotaging weapons with mines and the like are rather obsolete with the development of thermal clips. But at the same time overloading shields and so forth is a lot simpler, just point and fire.

One of my personal favorites is the combat drone, just load the program onto your omni-tool, point toward the enemy and let her go. I tend to customize everything though so my personal one has more functionality than most. You can tell the lazy engineers the mercs hire. They use basic drones, don't even deploy them behind the enemy or so forth but just toss them into the air.

I've also been doing field testing a new module for omnitools developed by the Migrant Fleet that allows me to effectively 'jack' the shields of an opponent, stealing their own protection and use it to strengthen my own.

Popular Mechanics: So modern combat is a highly technical field in your opinion?

Tali'Zorah: It can be, but at the end of the day you still need to know the basics that soldiers learn all the time. Stick to cover, watch out for your friends, and how to fire your gun. The Commander likes to berate us about the basics to make sure we remember them.

Popular Mechanics: What do you think about Commander Shepard?

Tali'Zorah: What do I think of the Shepard? Well, he's strong and incredibly focused on his job, a great leader really, much better than me. At the same time he's a good and loyal friend. We've worked together for so long, you get to the point you can anticipate each other's actions, like we're on the same wave length.

Popular Mechanics: So you're friends? Some rumors suggest that you might be more than that.

Tali'Zorah: Well, um, you'll have to ask Commander Shepard about that.

Author's Note: This is not meant to be an exact transcript of the interview but what was actually published, hence the reference to Sovereign as a vessel or geth ship instead of a Reaper.