1. Meeting Commander Shepard

The Normandy was state of the art. Designed by both Human and Turian engineers, it was definitely one of a kind and not just in terms of engineering feats. It was a symbol, not just to Humans, but to the rest of the galaxy. By working together, amazing things could be accomplished. The races were stronger when they worked together than when they butted heads. Of course, most took that with a grain of salt.

Kaidan Alenko understood the importance of it though, as did everyone else in the room, he imagined. Everyone was in their appointed locations on the ship. Each one following Alliance protocal and learning what they could about it. It would most likely be at least a week or two before they were evn able to consider going about their mission, but everyone was filled with the anticipation.

This mission had been hush hush from the get go. All Kaidan really knew was that this ship was made by both Humans and Turians and that Captain Anderson had hand picked every single member of the crew – a rare thing. They were all waiting for their captain to come aboard and relay to them their mission through the intercom.

He was also eager to see who their XO was. Captain Anderson was in charge of the ship and the other members of the crew... well, Kaidan had heard about them through the media. They were all exceptional, they all had received medals of commendation at some point. Whoever Anderson chose as his executive officer was going to have to be someone who could earn the respect of all the officers on board.

Sitting in the co-pilot station, Alenko turned to Joker as a ping caught his attention. Joker nodded as he listened to the voice on the other end of his radio.

"Aye aye, sir," he responded like any other soldier. Then he hit the intercom for the rest of the Normandy. "Captain Anderson has arrived!"

Just like every other soldier in the ship, Alenko jumped out of his chair and stood in full salute out of respect. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Joker merely spin his chair around and bring his hand up in salute. The pilot stayed seated. Alenko stayed silent, it was none of his business.

Captain Anderson marched out of dock and passed them, only giving them a slight nod in return. On his heels was a woman clad in N7 armor. She nodded to them as well, but unlike Anderson, she made eye contact with both of them. It was the person who came out next to her that caused them to stiffen a little more. A turian, tall and menacing marched down the ship with him, not even bothering to look in their direction.

The three of them walked briskly and with a purpose until they disappeared into the conference room.

"Who was that?" Alenko turned to Joker who was looking as confused as ever. Alenko merely shrugged in return. He wasn't sure if the pilot was talking about the turian or the N7, but ultimately, it didn't matter. Alenko had no idea who either were, though the woman did look somewhat familiar.

"I've seen her before, just can't remember where..." he muttered as he took his seat back in the co-pilot chair.

"Her?" Joker looked at Kaidan incredulously. "I was talking about the Turian. The woman is Commander Shepard."

Kaidan's head snapped to Joker. "Shepard? The war hero from the Skyllian Blitz?"

Joker nodded. "The one and only."

No wonder she was so familiar. He had seen her on tv as she accepted the Star of Terra. It had been a big deal. One woman had stood against 10,000 batarians and not only managed to hold out for reinforcements, but she survived and had saved the lives of thousands of people in that settlement. It had been a big victory for the Alliance.

Captain Anderson had chosen his executive officer very well. Her name alone demanded respect after that.

As for the Turian... he was still a mystery.

This is Captain Anderson speaking.

Joker and Alenko both looked up as the Captain's voice rang out of the intercom.

In a few days we will be heading out on a shakedown run. My XO, Commander Shepard, and I will be around shortly to make sure you have everything you need to do your jobs. Also, as the Citadel Council has helped fund this project, they have sent a Spectre aboard to help over see operations.

Each and everyone of you was hand picked for this mission. I trust this shakedown run will go smoothly. Anderson out.

"Not exactly the speech of the century," Joker quipped as he looked at the coordinates the Captain had just sent to him.

Kaidan only rolled his eyes. He went about analyzing his data. "I figured it would be at least a week before we left port. If we're going to be leaving in a few days instead, we have some work to do."

"Whatever, I already know all about this baby I need to," Joker grinned, but he too was already sifting through some data on the ship while trying to plot the course Anderson had given.

There was a moment of silence for both of them as they worked. Neither heard the footfalls that paused behind them.

"I assume everything's going well up here?"

The female voice caused Kaidan to jump in surprise while Joker merely spun his chair around and grinned.

Commander Shepard stood behind them, dressed completely in her N7 armor, her hands on her hips and her face stoic, but her bright blue eyes glinted in amusement at Kaidan. "Didn't mean to startle you, Leuitenant," she apologized.

"Not to worry, ma'am." Kaidan nodded in acceptance.

"Everything's looking good so far, Commander," Joker spoke up, ignoring the small exchange. "I have eyes on all systems and so far, everything seems to be working in optimal range."

The Commander nodded. "Very good..."

"Jeff Moreau, ma'am." He smirked. "But everyone calls me Joker."

Kaidan watched as the corner of Shepard's lip quirked up at that, but she merely nodded at the pilot. She turned an expectant gaze to him.

"Leuitenant Kaidan Alenko, ma'am."

"Nice to meet you," she said politely to the two of them. "If either of you need anything don't hesitate to let me know. This mission's important to the Alliance brass."

They both nodded and watched as she spun around to leave. As she spun they watched her stop for a split second in shock. Standing right behind her was the Turian.

"Nihlus," she greeted and continued past him as if unfazed.

The Turian watched her go for a moment before turning his attention back to the two Alliance soldiers. "Have you managed to plot our course, Mr. Moreau."

"Yes, sir," was all Jeff said.

"Very good. Your captain will be pleased." Without another word he turned on his heel and followed after Shepard.

"Well, that wasn't creepy at all," Joker muttered. He turned to Kaidan. "Did you see him before the Commander turned around?"

Kaidan shook his head. "No, it was like he appeared out of nowhere."

"Huh..." Joker shook his head and went back to work.