~Author's note - I saw a prompt on the kinkmeme and found it intriguing, however all it ever garnered was some wank. I took the basic premise and started writing this for myself. This is AU but I'll try and stay in canon as much as possible. Also, I decided not to use the Reaper story arc as it is, as Mordin would say, problematic.

Great big thanks and internet cookies to Mordinette for being my beta/sounding board/cheerleader! Thank you!

I hope to post a new chapter every week, barring any unforeseen issues. I hope you enjoy the ride!~

The two Shepard women stood face to face in the small apartment they called home. The elder's green eyes searched her daughter's face for any sign of apprehension but found only excitement. She wasn't sure when it had happened but now Hannah Shepard had to look up in order to see into her daughter's stormy grey eyes. They both shared the same fiery red hair, the elder wearing it in a sleek bob while her daughter preferred just to pull it back into a ponytail. The young woman rolled her eyes at her mother's fussing. The elder re-adjusted her daughter's shirt for the fifth time that morning before engulfing her in a hug.

"Mother, I'm going to miss my transport if you don't stop fussing. Are you going to do this the whole way down to the space port?"

"I don't understand why you want to do this already. Couldn't you at least wait until you turned eighteen?"

"We talked about this, Mom. I want to give us a better life, and the only way to do that is to earn citizenship by enlisting with the turian military, and they start at fifteen. I'll be fine."

"You didn't see how they were in the war; you have no idea what they are like."

"The war ended nine years ago. Perhaps if both sides had been less inclined to shoot first we wouldn't be a client race of theirs."

"They attacked first!"

"Yes, and we shouldn't have shot down the Council envoy's ship. We need to let it go if we are going to prove to the galaxy that we aren't another krogan waiting to happen."

"I'll say good-bye here so you don't have to see me cry. I love you and your father would have been so proud of you."

"Thanks Mom, I love you too."

Giving her mother one last hug, she left the house she had grown up in. Unlike most of the kids in the colony, she wasn't going to be stuck on Mindoir as a farmer for the rest of her life. There was a huge galaxy out there to see and she meant to see it.

Nearly twenty-four hours after leaving her home, Shepard arrived on Palaven. The line for new recruits in the spaceport was fairly long, the majority of those waiting being turian but at least there was a cover offering some protection against the sun and heat. She had been around turians all her life, after all they had a military outpost on the colony she had grown up on. But this, this was something new. The space port was pretty much wall-to-wall turians with a sprinkling of other races to confuse the eye. Colony markings of every design and color, turians of every shade of grey, brown and black surrounded her. Never in her life had she ever felt so small, even adult female turians stood head and shoulders above her. At least the turian recruits were closer to her size, many of them still waiting to go through their last big growth spurt. She had spent so much time gazing around her that she was startled to find she was next in line.

"Name, age, colony of birth," the turian droned, clearly as bored as those standing in the line.

"Shepard, 15, Mindoir."

The turian sighed, "Is that first or last name?"

"Uh last."

"First name?"

"Do you really need it?"

He sighed again and rubbed his forehead. "Believe me I've heard them all. Just tell me so we can move this along."

"Fine. It's Lily."

The turian nodded, "Head into the tent on your right for your physical."

Shouldering her pack, she strode into the tent he had indicated. Another line greeted her here. In a whirlwind of activity, doctors, both turian and human, checked her out physically and placed implants in her. First she received an upgraded omni-tool, next came a permanent translator versus her old one via omni-tool and lastly an implant to protect her body from the increased radiation found on Palaven.

Still following the line of recruits, albeit the shorter one for humans, she wound her way through the armory and was finally directed to take a seat on a truck to be ferried to the military installation where her training would begin.

The benches of the truck provided little comfort as the new recruits were jounced along. Young turians and humans sat intermingled on the benches. The male and female turians could only be distinguished from the slightly longer fringe on the males though they still hadn't crept past the end of their heads yet.

Shepard had to give it to the turians, they at least didn't believe in segregating the recruits by species. After basic training was finished the two species tended to be separated, with humans becoming auxiliary units and the turians forming the main units for their military. Only a human with an outstanding recommendation from basic had any hope of making it into a turian unit. And from what she knew, that had only happened a few times so far since the end of the war. But she swore that she would be one of those select few.

Shepard was jolted out of her thoughts when she nearly fell against her neighbor, a young male turian, when the truck suddenly bounced to a stop.

"Sorry," she mumbled to her bench mate.

He merely nodded as he waited for their release from the vehicle. The back lowered down and from outside they all could hear the order to fall out. They filed out of the vehicle, forming two neat lines in the hot sun.

Shepard stood in the second row, turians and humans in front and beside her, so she could only see bits of their sergeant. He paced up and down the row as if he was eyeing them to put them up for sale. Behind him stood a metallic structure that was most likely the barracks that would become their home for the next year.

"Alright younglings, I'll be in charge of the lot of you until further notice. My name is Sergeant Canicus. My job is to make sure that the first varren pup you run into doesn't kill you. Today is a getting to know you day. You will go inside, stash your civvies in a locker, and return outside in your shiny new armor with your weapon in hand. Go!" Canicus bellowed.

As one, the lot of them made their way into the barracks. Inside, the room was a large open room with a row of beds on either side with a footlocker in front of each bunk. Those first inside grabbed the bunks nearest to the door. Shepard grabbed the first empty bunk she found, down near the end of one of the rows and stripped out of her clothes as fast as she could. The armor under-suit went on first and then her armor. Her personal belongings went into the locker and she grabbed her rifle and headed back outside. Her speed had enabled her to join the first row and a quick glance showed that she was the first human done. The bad news, however, was that now she was in the front row, where the Sergeant could easily see her. She silently counted how many humans were in her unit, only ten, with twenty turians making up the bulk of her fellow recruits. The Sergeant was an imposing older turian, his plates nearly black with bright yellow colony markings. He stopped his pacing directly in front of the human female, the first human done in fact, beating even some of the turians.

"What? A human not squeamish about showing off their squishy body to their fellow recruits?" Canicus mocked.

"Sir, if I was squeamish...I wouldn't have joined the military," Shepard replied, her eyes facing forward.

Canicus barked a laugh. He had been training recruits for ten years now, a thankless job most times but every now and then, he knew what he did mattered. Most humans that came through here had made mediocre soldiers at best, perhaps they lost the desire to fight after how the Relay incident had ended. But this little female...well she had some spunk, he would keep an eye on her.

Seeing the rest had finally fallen in, Canicus returned to his pacing.

"Alright whelps, now we are going to tour this fine facility which will be your home until further notice."

A tour of camp had entailed a fast jog around the perimeter before dinner. The heat of Palaven was something that she hoped she would adjust to as time went on. But at least for this first run, the sun had been setting when they had begun. Sheer willpower had insured that she hadn't been the slowest in the unit.

After dinner, they had been forced to sit in the mess to watch an instructional video on how to clean their rifles before finally being released to shower before lights out. Now finally, Shepard stood under the cool water in the communal shower, more like a giant box of nozzles to hose down thirty people at once, she thought to herself. She strolled out of the shower room naked, heading for her bunk.

"Hey red, looking good, what's your name?" one of her fellow humans called out to her.

Shepard chose to answer him with a good old-fashioned hand signal, she flipped him the bird. Once at her footlocker she pulled out a tank top and underwear to sleep in. The grey plated turian with the blue colony markings in the bed to her right had witnessed the exchange curiously.

"I'm not sure what the meaning of that hand gesture is."

Shepard grinned over at him, "It means fuck off, fuck you, and also up yours; all of which I believe are self explanatory."

The turian chuckled, "Sadly I don't think it would mean much for us since we only have three digits."

"Just use your middle one; any human will get the gist of it."

"I'm Garrus by the way."


"Oh, I thought it was Red, since everyone was calling you that."

"Uh, no, they were calling me that because of my red hair and they don't know my first name."

"So why not tell them?"

"I'd rather not hear any cracks about it."

"Ouch, that bad?"

"I think so."