Because this fandom seriously needs more AU fics.
Thank you to my beta, quantumparadigm, and to Suilven for the encouragement.
I love hearing from my readers, so please leave a review and let me know if you think this AU is interesting and if you'd like to read more about it.
Bioware owns Mass Effect.
Chapter 1 – The Alenkos
Like he did every day while on duty far away from home, at 2100 Staff Commander Rylan Alenko made a vid-call to his wife, Barbra.
The dark-haired woman appeared on his holoscreen with a bright smile on her face. "How was your day, honey?"
Looking tired, he sighed heavily. "Bad. We got a distress call from a colony. Mindoir. But we got there too late. Slavers had raided the place. Killed everyone. Must have taken a few of the colonists with them, too…"
"I saw it on the news. I'm so sorry, honey. But don't beat yourself up. They said a girl survived. That's something, right?" she offered, trying to cheer him up.
"Yeah, but she was in pretty bad shape. We brought her back to Arcturus with us, but I don't know if she's going to make it."
"The poor thing. How old is she?"
"Fifteen, sixteen, maybe. She was barely conscious when we picked her up. Gomez was trying to talk to her, keep her awake when we were on our way back, but she wasn't answering. She might be in shock. Hell, Zabaleta is in shock. It was pretty rough down there."
"What's her name?"
"No one knows. She had no ID and then she went into surgery and haven't woken up yet. We're calling her Jane D-… Jane."
"Jane? You mean 'Jane Doe'?"
"That's just awful!"
"What else could we do?" Rylan said and noticing his wife was starting to look upset, he thought it was best to change the subject. "How's Kaidan?"
Unfortunately, that question did nothing to improve her mood and she sighed sadly. "He's either out or locked up in his room, always by himself. I don't think he'll ever be the same…"
"He'll get over it."
"Maybe… uh…" Barbra trailed off, wringing her hands.
"Don't tell me –"
"– he should see a shrink. I think it would be good for him."
Rylan blew out an irritated breath. "What would be good for him is to return to the Alliance."
Barbra looked away for a moment and shook her head. Her husband could be such a bullhead sometimes. And so was her son.
When Kaidan got home and saw his mother on a vid-call with his father, he tried to slip past her and get into his room without being noticed. However, the instant his door clicked closed behind him, she was rapping on it, telling him to come out and have dinner with her in the kitchen. He didn't open it. Yelling from inside that he had already eaten, he hoped she would just give up and leave him be.
Since he had gotten back from Jump Zero, a few months ago, it hadn't been easy facing her. Or anyone else. Brain Camp had ruined him. He had gone through hell there. Five kids had died, three of them were his friends. But what had finally made him snap was Rahna having her arm broken. Damn, was he insane? He had no idea he could be that much in love with someone. So madly in love that seeing her get hurt drove him to kill a man… And now she wouldn't even look at him anymore, so afraid of him she was. With good reason, no doubt. They were all freaks, but he was much worse than the others. Of the many students that had snapped there, he was the only one who had gone crazy enough to kill somebody.
The programme was immediately shut down after that. Kaidan couldn't help but wonder if his father had anything to do with the fact that he was promptly forgiven and no word was ever spoken about what he had done there and nothing had been noted in his record. They shouldn't have bothered cleaning up his mess. He would have faced the consequences, whatever they were.
But none of it mattered anymore. At first, he had been so lost, he had moved back to his parents' place in Vancouver. Now, he was starting to figure things out. He wasn't going back to the Alliance and he didn't want any more training. He was going to try to live a normal life, without using his 'powers' and far away from other biotic people.
"She's a biotic. Scared the hell out of the doctors when she woke up," Rylan told his wife on their usual 2100 vid-call.
Barbra was happy to see the amused half-smile on her husband's face. "They didn't know? Did anyone get hurt?" she asked.
"No, she's not jacked."
"Did you find out her real name?"
"Not yet. She's not big on talking."
"What will happen to her?"
"She was supposed to be taken to an adoption agency on Earth once she recovered, but now that we know she's a biotic… I'm not sure."
"Jane D–… I mean, Jane will get those new L3 implants, on Captain Hackett's orders. That kid, Hendel Mitra, who went to BAaT with Kaidan, will begin training her as soon as she recovers from the surgery," Rylan Alenko told his wife. "Not sure if he knows enough to teach, but he's the only other biotic in the station right now. Lieutenant Kyle will oversee."
She saw right through him. "You are recruiting her already? Did she even finish High School?"
"You know how unlikely it is that someone will want to adopt a fifteen-year-old biotic kid? Maybe it's best to find a place for her here in the station until she's old enough to go through Basic. Plus we need every human biotic within our ranks. They give us an edge in battle and it's the best way to control them. They can be dangerous otherwise."
"Do you think Kaidan is dangerous?" she asked, with an indignant look on her face.
He glanced around to make sure he was alone before he answered, "You don't? You know what happened on BAaT, Barbra. Biotics are not easy to control and there are some kids having problems with the L2 implants. It would be best for everyone if he were to come back to the Alliance."
Barbra knew her husband wouldn't react well to the news she had for him, but keeping it from him wouldn't be right. And he would find out about it anyway when he came home for his leave. "Kaidan got a job."
"A job? Are you kidding me?! You need to tell him to get his ass back in the Alliance."
"Maybe we should let him find his own path. He's working at a shop repairing omni-tools, consoles, gadgets… all this tech stuff he likes."
Rylan shook his head. "I'll talk to him," he said, immediately ending the vid-call with his wife.
There was no way that conversation could go well, Barbra knew it, and it didn't surprise her that Kaidan came out of his room minutes later to tell her he was going to move out as soon as possible, preferably, even before his father's leave.
"I went to see Jane with Captain Hackett today. She's really invested in learning how to control her biotics and do something useful with it."
Barbra looked off camera, pensively. "Kaidan used to be like that."
"Yeah. Private Mitra is doing a decent job as a teacher. Better than we expected. It could be Kaidan in his place, you know? He should come here, see for himself. Maybe it would inspire him to get back in the Alliance."
"What happened to yelling at him until he changes his mind?"
Rylan snorted at his wife's teasing. "It's not working, is it? Do you think he would agree to come here? I could get him clearance. Perhaps some of Jane's enthusiasm will rub off on him."
"Why don't you bring her here instead? A fifteen-year-old colony kid suddenly locked up in a space station… It can't be good for her. And I bet she would love a home-cooked meal."
"You say that as if Arcturus were a small place. And the girl is sixteen. She's talking now. Not much, mostly to me and Hackett, actually. She hates the psychologist. That's what I like about her," he laughed. "Still, she didn't tell us her real name. She said Jane was fine."
Barbra didn't answer, just frowned and her eyes dropped to her lap.
"Don't let this bother you, Barb," Rylan said. "I can see why you would sympathize – the kid is human and a biotic. But this kind of thing that happened to her, it happens all the time. The galaxy is a dangerous place."
"I know, but it's so unfair. An entire colony destroyed, only one person survived and she's human and a biotic and you're the one who rescued her… I can't help but to feel for her. I wish I could help her, too. It can't be easy to lose your mother… lose everything at sixteen."
"You don't know anything about this girl. She could be a criminal or have some contagious disease."
Barbra raised one eyebrow and asked wryly, "Really?"
"You know I can't just pick her up and take her to Earth."
"Can't anyone there give you permission? It's for her sake."
He rubbed the back of his neck. "Actually… hmm… the psychologist already recommended her for an adoption and foster care agency in Vancouver and someone will have to take her there. He thinks the agency might find her a home and a home would be better for her than staying here. He says that restoring some of the normalcy in her life might help her get a better hold of her emotions, which will improve her control of her biotics."
Barbra folded her arms in front of her chest and raised an eyebrow. "Did you seriously need a psychologist to tell you that?"
Rylan cleared his throat and continued, pretending his wife had never spoken. "Anyway, the Captain agreed and he seems convinced that Jane will come back to the Alliance by herself when she's of age. So… if it will please you, I might volunteer to take her to the shelter for the agency on my leave and then you can meet her, bake her a cake or whatever it is that you want to do for her."
"I knew you had a soft heart," Barbra grinned.
"Yeah. I'll talk to Hackett.