A/N: A lot of people write about their Shepard's origins. This is mine, based on a series of prompts from a now-defunct LJ community called 100fics. I can't guarantee a consistent flow of updates, though I can guarantee that I might pull from my other drabble catch-all "Shore Leave" simply because I had this Shepard in mind when I wrote a lot of them. But hopefully, most of these will be original to this story. Props to clafount for beta-ing the first three "chapters."


Part 1: Childhood


Beginnings

2154

Joanna Shepard shouldered her way into the small, prefab colonial housing unit and set down the bags she carried with an "oof!" of effort. She dragged the back of her wrist across her damp forehead.

"Hush, sweetie," she murmured as the infant strapped to her chest began to stir fitfully, awoken by the motion and the growing body heat of her mother.

The prefab was small, Joanna noted, glancing at the standard, sterile walls. But it was theirs.

Matthew entered the door behind her, bag in one hand, and talking animatedly into his omni-tool on the other. Four-year-old Erik followed behind, one hand clutching Matthew's pant leg, staring opened-mouthed at the crowded room that would be their home for who knew how many years.

"…weather's great! I can't wait to start planning the house…" Matt was saying, looking up at her with a grin. Joanna smiled, stroking the soft hair of baby Andrea's head. Matthew was always so enthusiastic at the beginning of a project. And this would be a doozy of a project…. Mindoir, a new colony; a new life; a new start. Joanna turned to open one of the shuttered windows, letting in a warm breeze—hot, but no humidity in the air. Good climate for wheat. As she looked out over the acres of flat, empty land stretching across the plains of New Independence, she envisioned them full and golden with undulating waves of grain. Perhaps she could set up an orchard too…

The baby's fitful whining began to grow, and Joanna realized with a flash of panic that she'd forgotten the time. The doctor said it was important—!

Hurriedly, she squeezed past boxes and bags, digging into the carry-on she'd had in the shuttle until she found—aha! The first time she'd had to use a hypo-spray on her baby girl made her weep and tremble for hours afterward. Now, however, she just shushed and rocked Andrea—or Andie, as Erik had taken to calling her—until the pained cries were muffled in the comfort of sleep.

The pain of a hypo-spray was temporary—the chance of little Andie Shepard not getting cancer from the accident as she grew up … well, Joanna was willing to endure anything, even a solid hour of infant screams if she could protect her baby from that.

"Okay... Yeah. Talk to you later Essie," Matt said, plugging one ear against the baby's wails. "Congrats again on your promotion—stop by when you have some shore leave."

Call complete, Matt walked over and took the baby from the harness on Joanna's chest, bouncing her gently. Erik had somehow already found a box with some toys and was methodically lining up model space ships and aircars along a seam in the floor.

Matt and Joanna surveyed the sea of boxes and bags they found themselves in. Joanna looked at her husband, a determined glint in her eye. "Well, let's get started."