A/N: This fic follows (sort of) the N7 teams introduced in Mass Effect's multiplayer, which means I can only go so far with my characters - if anyone wants to see their own characters in the story, fill out a review with the following details: (Name, Class/Race, Weapons, Armour Colour, and any other details you want to include).

Systems Alliance Space Vessel Cambrai, Horsehead Nebula


"So, what are you gonna do when you get back home, once this is all over?"

"When? You mean if..."

"Are all turians this depressing?"

"No, most of them are worse..."

"You two! Orders are in, get yer arses to the war room!"

With that, turian and human stood up, abandoned the cargo crates they had been using for seats, and set off after the shouting officer by the elevator. One brief, upwards journey later, they were emerging into the CIC, and pacing towards the cavernous War Room.

"Andersen, Kamur, you're late!" barked the officer at the head of the table.

"Sorry, sir," the turian replied, throwing a quick salute. Andersen merely shook his head, wearily, and took his place around the table. As he did, he glanced around at the selection of men and women around him – he knew they had all volunteered for "special duty", just like him, and like him, none of them quite knew what they were in for. Most of the volunteers were human, but Kamur wasn't the only alien – a graceful-looking asari was stood opposite him, and a salarian was amongst the servicemen to his right.

"Orders came in from Admiral Hackett ten minutes ago," the officer continued. "He wants to speak to the lot of you."

Without waiting for a response, he tapped away at the keypad in front of him, and a shimmering blue hologram of grizzled old Admiral Hackett hovered a little way above the table, peering away at the assembled fighters.

"Before we begin," the Admiral murmured, in his rather gravelly tones. "I want to start by saying this – you all volunteered for this, and I appreciate that, but if anyone wants to back out and return to conventional duty, it will not be held against you."

No-one moved.

"With that said..." Hackett continued. "To business. Welcome to Operation Chariot – this is your objective:"

As he spoke, Hackett's own hologram disappeared, and the table was instead filled with another hologram, the 3D plan of what appeared to be a base of some kind.

"This is a Cerberus fighter base, on Noveria, not too far from your current position. A team from the SSV Normandy infiltrated the base fourty-eight hours ago and removed all Cerberus presence. They stripped the air defences so our strike teams could move in."

"Admiral, when you say Normandy..." one of the other volunteers interrupted.

"Yes, Commander Shepard led the team that cleared this base out," Hackett muttered, answering the unspoken question. A low buzz of conversation passed between the recruits, until the Admiral began to speak again. "What we didn't anticipate was a Cerberus reprisal so soon... We were going to move ships into the region and take our time recovering objectives, but that is no longer possible. Your objective is to recover Cerberus data assets from the base before their troops can destroy them, and then evacuate. Once the assets are secure, we can employ full force against the base without running the risk of destroying vital data. Operations Chief Palmer has the rosters for this mission, I'll leave it to him to organise deployment. Good luck, all of you. Hackett out."

"Alright, recruits!" the chief roared, stepping up to the table as the hologram faded. "Listen up, I'll only say this once!"

"Ha, 'recruits'," one of the marines next to Andersen scowled. "I bet half of us outrank him..."

"That's if we actually bothered with ranks," another muttered – he was a hulking figure in black armour, whose words and demeanour gave the distinct impression of a mercenary.

"You're not all shipping out," Palmer continued, either ignoring or not hearing the two soldiers' complaints. "A team of four, Alpha, will deploy to the objective once the Cambrai is in range. The team will consist of operatives Kamur, Andersen, Tyco and Saffiya. The four of you, grab your gear and report to the shuttle bay ASAP. The rest of you, you're on standby, do whatever the hell you want."

With that, the crowd of volunteers dissipated, some of them with looks and frustration or disappointment. Andersen caught the eye of the turian, Kamur, and the two of them paced out of the war room the same way they had entered. Within a few minutes, they were back in the hangar they had just left, although possessed of a new urgency this time. They quickly grabbed weapons from the benches laid out around the entrance – Andersen felt rather stupid as he picked up his meagre pistol, while Kamur toted an assault rifle in one hand, and a shotgun in the other.

"Think you've got enough firepower?" the turian muttered, sceptically, nodding to his handgun.

"I've got more than enough in here," the engineer grinned in reply, waggling his omni-tool in the soldier's face.

"Tech's all well and good, but I'll stick to bullets. Phaeston for long-range suppression, Eviscerator for close-range stopping power. That'll do me just fine..."

"Wow, turns out turian jarheads are just like human jarheads!" Andersen teased.

"Yeah, but human geeks are way worse than ours..." Kamur quipped back, with a sardonic smile.

"Did you just call me a geek?"

"That I did, soft-skin."

Their bickering was interrupted as the elevator slid down to the hangar bay once more. The doors parted to reveal their two apparent squadmates – the asari and the black-armoured hulk Andersen had spotted at the briefing. The asari silently grabbed a pistol, and headed for the shuttle. The merc was slightly more hospitable, throwing them a friendly nod as he slung a sniper rifle – a Mantis, by the looks of it – onto his shoulder, and fixed a bayonet to a shining new Scimitar shotgun.

"Ready to go?" he muttered, approaching the two of them – the asari had already disappeared inside the waiting shuttle.

"Born ready," Andersen grinned, pulling his helmet on.

"Good," the mercenary nodded, from behind his own helmet. "Just so long as you die ready, too..."