Mass Effect © Bioware and associated companies.
Lieutenant Commander Katelyn Shepard glanced up at the flickering blue vidscreen that overhung the large bulkhead leading to the docking bays. For the last few days, she had been on the Citadel for mandatory shore leave after spending eight months as an instructor for the N7 Special Forces biotic recruits at the Arcturus Space station. With her skill set and considerably vast experience over the course of her comparatively short but extraordinary career, it made her the logical choice to teach new recruits.
In her own run through the program, Katelyn had been ranked in the top two. Her raw ability, sheer tenacity and adaptability had rivalled those of the now Lieutenant Commander John Shepard, her twin brother and understandably so. The two spent their lives in constant competition with one another since their earliest days in the slums of Vancouver. Both marines were highly accomplished biotics even before signing their lives away to the Alliance, though their individual professional choices had set them down different career paths.
True to his character, Shepard had chosen to train as a Vanguard, preferring to dive into a fight and use a stupid combination of dumb luck, recklessness and physical prowess to win. Katelyn would not deny that she had her own run-and-gun tendencies, but she instead elected to be educated as a Sentinel, preferring to utilize her biotics in tandem with impressive technical skills to complete her objectives. There was a saying among their immediate peers that rapidly spread around their entire unit: 'If you want a door hacked; talk to Kat. If you wanted it torn down by its hinges; talk to John.'.
Katelyn allowed a flicker of a smile on her lips at the memory of her unit, her free hand instinctively moving to the back of her neck were the unit's motto had been tattooed on the base in black ink. The italic words were hidden under the high collar of her casual uniforms shirt. The nostalgic expression and memory faded, washed away by the feeling of her fingers tracing over uneven lumps above it, where her L3 biotic implant had been surgically grafted to her spin. Mercifully, her shoulder length black hair could cover the surgical scar, but its presence still irritated Katelyn on occasion.
For the hundredth time in equal parts frustration and impatience, she read over the information detailing the various ships of alien and human transports, their arrival and departure times along with their names and destinations. With a sigh, Katelyn hoisted her cream duffel bag off the ground, slipping it onto her left shoulder all the while being careful not to spill the lukewarm contents of her takeaway coffee over her front or on the ground. It was a cheap blend she got ripped off on on her way to the spaceport.
A pasty-skinned, fast-talking Salarian boasted proudly of the supposed highest quality blend on the Citadel. Katelyn's lip puckered and her nose wrinkled in disgust after taking another quick swig of the foul-tasting brew. It was nothing more than an instant coffee with a few teaspoons of sugar and some form of calcium extract that passed for milk mixed in. Tentatively, Katelyn shook the disposable cup and flinched uncomfortable glaring at the light brown cup in loathing. There was still more than half left. It wasn't even worth the overpriced fifteen credits she had wasted purchasing it, though she really wanted the caffeine hit and with her body's high calorie intake requirements she inwardly admitted her regret for the twentieth time in the past ten minutes.
Her eyes shifted to the inactive omni-tool on her wrist where the time had been projected in bright orange printed digits across the back of her hand. Katelyn still had over four hours to wait until her transport for the Arcturus Station would arrive. From there her orders were to assume the Executive Officer's position on the Cruiser, the SSV Emden. Katelyn was not overly thrilled with the prospect of inheriting the position. The SSV Emden had a reputation for being a 'cursed' ship. The only way on or off its combat roster was Dead Man's boots. The ship had reached a status of notoriety among officer-classes, particularly those who were assuming actual Command positions. Their previous XO, one Staff Commander Gordy Mckay, had unfortunately died in a skirmish against pirates on the fringes of Council Space near the Terminus systems a few weeks ago. He was only the latest in a long line.
While not entirely a superstition person by nature, that kind of stigma was enough to unnerve any potential replacement. Once more, Katelyn glanced upwards at the monitor and sighed. Still four hours, twenty eight minutes until her transport arrives. Casually, she strode over to a line of back-to-back waiting chairs located in the smaller vacant waiting section to the left, raised slightly by three small steps. It was a distance away from any vidscreens or travellers, but was still close enough to hear the loud speakers that announced scheduled arrival and departure times.
Dumping her luggage against the side, Katelyn sat herself down in the first chair in the line and stretched her legs out, crossing her ankles. The half-drunk coffee still in hand, she took a swig and gagged regretting the purchase once more. Again, steadily becoming impatient, Katelyn briefly glanced at the projected time on her wrist. Four hours twenty-seven minutes left to wait. With little else to alleviate her boredom, she exhaled and forced down another gulp of cold coffee ignoring the resultant gag and cringe that followed.
"Lieutenant Commander Katelyn?" An effeminate voice came from behind her. Katelyn snapped up and around in response, nearly spilling the dreaded coffee.
A purple-skinned Asari whom looked to be in the Maiden-stage of her life stood next to her. Katelyn chastised herself for not hearing the approach. Pale scattered blots of ink framed the mono-gendered alien's dark green eyes; a thin bar of same-coloured ink bisected her lower lip and chin. Smaller bright lines decorated the protrusions on the back of her head. The woman had been a clerk, no doubt. Wearing some kind of vibrate green dress with darker green accenting the seams. In all probability, it was a kind of new fashioned dress that Katelyn privately found ghastly and distasteful. Instead of vocalising her thoughts, the Commander kept her silence and straightened her posture.
"May I help you with anything, Miss...?" She started, uncertain and trying rather desperately to hide the hint of suspicion in her tone.
Katelyn had never been a fan of the Asari as a race. She couldn't nail down any one reason why she couldn't - or wouldn't - bring herself to care for them. For the sake of her missions, she could be diplomatic and cooperative, however beyond that circumstance Katelyn made the conscious effort kept her distance. Perhaps, it was a matter of jealousy for their outstanding lifespan or a general distain for the pious and often arrogant attitude most Asari she had worked with brought to the battlefield. Or maybe she simply hated how their appearance closely resembled that of human women.
The Asari tapped a few buttons on her small holopad before answering. "I am Secretary Deneve." She began primly, scantly sparing a look from her work pad.
Secretary, clerk, close enough. Katelyn mentally stated, shrugging quietly to herself. The Asari's green eyes narrowed at Katelyn.
"From the Embassy Offices. I work as an assistant to Ambassador Udina, and I must request that you accompany me to the Embassies." Deneve finished coolly, resting her arms at her side and the pad now secure under her armpit.
Katelyn's brows promptly furrowed, her features contorted in confusion. "What would the human Ambassador to the council want with a random Commander?" She wondered the question aloud before she could stop herself. Deneve raised a thin eyebrow.
"Uh, sorry." Katelyn excused herself, clearing her throat. "Lead the way." She added, hefting her belongings onto her shoulder and following the Asari away.
To be contiuned.
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