This is my first ME fan fiction. It is a work-in-progress and I am writing as I replay the games so bear with me. If you love FemShep/Garrus, then hopefully you will love this story. Just be patient; this Shep has a long way to go. I will try to post chapters weekly. This story will follow the ME trilogy and will sometimes stick to canon...and sometimes not. And of course this story owes its existence to Bioware and the creators of the ME trilogy and all rights belong to them. Enjoy!

There she was. The Normandy SR-1. She was the most beautiful thing Shepard had ever laid eyes on. Sleek and shining on the docks of Arcturus Station, Shepard felt a smile twitching at the corners of her lips. Damn proud. That's how she felt, knowing that was her assigned ship. If only Pop could see her...

Shepard was jogged from her daydream by a body slamming into her from behind. She stumbled forward cursing, trying to balance herself for defense.

"I am so sorry," a husky voice apologized, reaching out to steady her. Shepard pushed the hands away brusquely.

"Try paying attention," she muttered, embarrassed to have been caught unawares. She looked up into a pair of concerned brown eyes. His strong chiseled features contrasted with a soft full mouth, currently frowning. It was the kind of face girls would dream after, and Shepard had no time for that.

"No you're right," he said, bending down to grab a duffel bag he must have dropped. "Are you assigned to the Normandy?"

Shepard nodded, shouldering her own bag. "I'm Commander Marion Shepard, Executive Officer," holding out her hand in an effort to appear professional.

His eyes widened, but if he was surprised by her appearance he said nothing. "Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko ma'am," he replied, taking her hand firmly but without testing her grip.

"I hope you're more alert when we're on the field Alenko," Shepard responded, walking up the gangplank.

"I try to be ma'am," he said with a smirk. "But wouldn't you be distracted at your first sight of the SSV Normandy?"

She decided to remain silent on that point.

She settled into her bunk, stowing her belongings in her locker. Shepard tucked her holo under the pillow, brushing the image gently with her fingers before she left. Gear checked, Marion stretched her hands, settling her nerves. When she left this room she would become Commander Shepard, Executive Officer of the Alliance. Nerves had no business outside this room.

Shepard knew she had a reputation. That reputation had been necessary to build up respect and not just pity among peers and officers. Her long wavy black hair was kept back in an elaborate bun, her one show of vanity that was also remarkably convenient under a helmet. The scars on her cheek and lip were constant reminders of Akuze, but even if they bothered Shepard, they also reminded others of who they were dealing with. Still mirrors hadn't been a friend to this marine in a long time.

She shook her head suddenly to be rid of the nightmares that threatened to rear their heads. Today she was here, on the most advanced starship in the Alliance fleet. She would do her duty and make her family proud.

"Time to show off," she grinned.

Nihlus strode past her in the CIC, nodding at her. Abruptly tense, Shepard barely resisted the urge to clench her fists and forced herself to nod civilly. 'On this ship, he is a Spectre, not a turian,' she struggled to remind herself. If nothing else, she could obey the rules of command. By the time she got up to the pilot, Shepard could already hear Joker wise-cracking to…someone?

"Playing nice today Joker?" Shepard asked with a smirk.

"As always Commander," he shot back. "Hey Captain, Nihlus the Grim Reaper is coming to see you. Be sure to batten down the hatches."

"He's already here Joker," replied the Captain through the comm, making Joker wince.

"You're just making friends all over the place today, aren't you?" Shepard asked with a quirked brow.

Joker spun around to glare. "Hey, I make plenty of friends," he retorted. "For example, meet my new friend, Kaidan…"

"Alenko," Shepard finished. "We met."

Kaidan stood with a brief salute. "Ma'am," he said respectfully.

"At ease Alenko," said Shepard. "I'm just here to enjoy the ride." And those eyes, she thought to herself. If Alenko was disconcerted by the sudden dreamy quality to her eyes, he masked it well.

The Normandy glided through space with an ease that seemed unearthly. Shepard could feel the gentle thrum of the engines through her feet as she headed toward the comm room, nodding at Jenkins and Dr Chakwas on her way. The young recruit was talking about the glories of going into battle. Shepard could not help but scoff as she walked past. Someday, all too soon, he would know what battle truly was. And it was never glory.

Entering the comm room, Shepard was less than pleased to see Nihlus and not her captain. She stopped several feet away, holding herself at rest to try and restrain her tension. "Shepard. I was hoping we could speak for a moment," said the turian, taking in her guarded stance.

"About what sir?" she asked, keeping her tone neutral.

"You don't care for my being aboard this ship," he said bluntly.

Shepard cleared her throat but held his gaze. "My personal opinions don't enter in my professional capacity abroad this ship sir," she replied with a slight strain.

"I know your history Commander," he said, pacing across the room. "You were exposed to element O while your mother was on shore leave on Earth. You were then born in 2154 and have spent your entire life in space. A military brat." His mandibles flapped at the visible tension in Shepard's jaw but he continued his recitation. "Your father was killed in the First Contact War when you were a small child. You enlisted in 2172 and in 2177 were the sole survivor of a thresher maw attack on Akuze. You displayed prodigious biotic power I've heard." He stopped in front of her, leaning forward. "And yet I've also heard that despite your talent and prodigious skill, you avoid using biotics at any cost and you demonstrate an inclined disgust for other species."

"Not all species," Shepard said through gritted teeth.

"Fair enough," Nihlus acknowledged. "But as humanity seeks to expand, perhaps even join the Council, it is imperative that its prime examples remain open to cooperation. It's the only way to survive in this galaxy."

"I will take your advice into consideration Spectre," said Shepard. "Could we please return to the mission at hand?"

"We are headed to Eden Prime Commander," said the Spectre, pulling up images of a green and beautiful word. "One of the Alliance's premier colonies. Something of a symbol for your people."

"I've never been sir," said Shepard, eyeing the door.

"I wonder though…" He turned to look back at Shepard, his dark eyes made sinister by the dim lighting of the comm room. "How safe is this colony? And how prepared is the Alliance to take on a leadership role in the galaxy?"

Shepard's gray blue eyes turned stormy. "I hope this is all hypothetical and not a threat, sir," she said, gaze level.

"Just a question." The two stared at each other, measuring as Captain Anderson entered.

"Have you had a chance to inform the commander of our mission Nihlus?" the captain asked, nodding at Shepard. She felt more relaxed as her friend and commanding officer stepped between them. Anderson would be straight with her, if nothing else.

"No, but I hope to be filled in shortly Captain," said Shepard, glaring at the Spectre.

He chuckled as Nihlus turned back to the image of Eden Prime. "The crew is suspicious that this is more than a shakedown run. And they are right."

"We needed the stealth systems for a pick-up on Eden Prime," explained the captain. "A research team found a Prothean beacon during an excavation. This could be big for the Alliance, Shepard. We need to bring the beacon back to the Citadel to properly examine it."

"Of course the Council is very interested in this discovery," interjected Nihlus. "Any and all discoveries of Prothean technology must be registered with the Council by law."

"Is that why we have a Spectre on board Captain?" asked Shepard. "Or are we expecting trouble on the ground?"

"I always expect trouble," said Nihlus.

"Nihlus is also here for you Shepard," said Anderson. "He's here to evaluate you."

If a turian could look smug, Shepard imagined that was the look on the Spectre's face. She felt flutters of anger building in her chest but forced herself to address the Captain calmly. "I wasn't aware that the Council now evaluated Alliance personnel," she said.

"The Alliance is looking to gain more traction on the Council. Adding a human Spectre to their ranks will help demonstrate our potential and what we can add to the galaxy."

Shepard stood in silence for a moment, blinking slowly. "You…are considering me for Spectre candidacy?" she asked, her voice breaking.

"You showed a remarkable will to survive on Akuze Shepard," said Nihlus. "And though you prefer not to use them, your biotic abilities serve you well. That's why I put your name forward for candidacy. We shouldn't let the asari have all the fun," he added with a grin at the Captain.

"You put my name forward?" Shepard asked, her surprise breaking through the façade.

"Yes Commander. Together we'll complete a series of missions so I can evaluate your skills firsthand. Are you prepared for that?"

Shepard swallowed tightly and pushed away the warring feelings of embarrassment and excitement. "Just say the word, Captain," she said.

Anderson smiled. "Excellent. We should reach Eden Prime shortly. We'll…"

"Captain!" Joker's voice came through the intercom. "We might have a problem. I'm getting a transmission from Eden Prime."

"Patch it through Joker," ordered the captain, stepping up to the comm link.

Fire. Soliders running. A young woman rushing at the camera. "Get down," she cried. "We are taking heavy casualties," shouted another woman in a heavy Indian accent. Shepard stepped forward, eyes intent. The weapons…they didn't sound familiar. "They came out of nowhere!" someone else shouted. Suddenly everyone froze in horror. The camera panned to take in an image of…a ship?

"What is that?" Shepard muttered. The great metallic beast came through the clouds, red lightening seeming to crackle along its appendages. It looked like some terrifying insect come to life before her eyes, raining death and destruction down on what had been a peaceful colony.

Suddenly the transmission cut out, replaced by static. "That's all we get Captain," said Joker over the comm. "Cuts out after that. I can't get any more transmissions." Shepard looked to Anderson, who was still staring at the static filled screen.

"Reverse it to 38.5," he ordered. Joker complied and the image of that terrible ship froze before them. Shepard stepped forward, eyes narrowed. "I can't say I recognize the ship Captain," she said. "I've never seen anything like it."

"I don't think any of us have Commander," said Nihlus, his voice grim.

"Status report Joker," barked Anderson, marching out of the comm room and headed to the bridge. Nihlus and Shepard followed, rushing past a bewildered Pressley.

"We're 17 minutes out Captain," shouted Joker. Shepard nodded at Alenko, who was helping sort through the data beside Joker. "No other Alliance ships in the area. Just us."

"Shepard, Alenko, suit up. Grab Jenkins. Our mission just got complicated," order Anderson.

Shepard smiled grimly as she headed past him. "That's what makes it interesting Captain."

The Normandy glided toward the beleaguered colony, her stealth systems active for the first time. Though Shepard could feel her heart pounding from the adrenaline, she stepped into her suit in the cargo bay, focusing on the feel of the inner fabric on her skin. It was a ritual to center her for every mission.

"Oh sorry Commander!" She turned, attempting to zip up her suit. Alenko was behind her, stepping into his own suit, his chest bare and face pink.

"No problem Alenko," she replied with a chuckle. "Same species, just slightly different anatomy."

"I guess that's true Commander," he said, though his eyes remained focused on his own suit as he prepped. Shepard just laughed again and continued her ritual.

Jenkins bounded into the cargo bay, already suited, weapon in hand. "Finally some action!" he crowed.

"Cool it kid," Shepard ordered. "This is a mission, not a picnic. Store your weapon until it's needed and take a seat."

"Yes ma'am," he replied, barely abashed.

Nihlus and Anderson entered behind him. "Are you coming with us Spectre?" asked Alenko as he pulled his helmet on.

"No I'll be traveling alone. It's faster. Your commander could tell you all about working alone," he said, his mandibles flapping.

Shepard stepped forward, fists clenching again. "I only work with those I can trust," she said tightly.

"Oh? And how long have you been working with Lieutenant Alenko and Corporal Jenkins?" he questioned. Shepard swallowed tightly and bit back any reply.

"I'll see you at the rendezvous point Commander," said Nihlus. With that, he headed down the ramp, leaving the strike team and a fuming Shepard behind.

"Get in, get out Commander," ordered Anderson. "No fancy footwork, just secure the beacon. Extra forces are on the way to help the colony."

"What about survivors Captain?" asked Alenko, worried.

"The mission is priority Lieutenant," Anderson said, pity in his eyes. "Helping survivors is secondary. Get that beacon. It's vital we bring it intact on board the ship."

Stepping onto the surface of Eden Prime, of any planet really, was always a strange experience for Shepard. Most of her life had been spent aboard ships and space stations; the hum of engines, the coolness of the metal, the sight of the stars around her. That was home. Land was foreign.

But this place felt extra strange. Jenkins looked around in horror. The bodies on the ground, the sound of gunfire in the air. The sun was beginning to set, casting a sinister red glow on what should have been a beautiful cliff side. The strike team moved forward, Shepard on point. She reached a rock formation before a clearing and paused, signaling for her team to stop.

It was quiet here. Her instincts tingled and she felt her biotics rising. She thrust them down, refusing to let them influence her work. After a moment, she gestured forward and Jenkins and Alenko fanned out, carefully evaluating the area.

Suddenly there was a strange gurgling sound. Shepard stood, looking around. And then she saw them: three drones rushing down the hill. Their target was Jenkins.

"Jenkins, take cover!" she shouted, rushing forward with her pistol out.

But she was too late. In a flash of fire the drones gunned him down and he dropped before her. He cried out as the rounds hit him in the chest, then lay still. Shepard rushed to cover, Alenko behind her. He suddenly leaped up, his omni-tool lighting as he sabotaged one drone, sending it spinning into another. Shepard popped out of cover, taking a cool aim at the last drone, and dropping it with a precision shot.

Alenko was already rushing to Jenkins. "He's gone Alenko," said Shepard, her voice tired. She lifted a hand to her helmet, by habit touching where a headset would be. "Normandy this is Commander Shepard. Jenkins is down, we need a pick-up. Marking his location now and proceeding to the dig site."

The lieutenant still knelt by the young man, a finger at his pulse point, his head hung. Shepard knelt beside him, a hand on his back. "Never lost someone on your squad, have you?" she asked, her voice low.

"No ma'am," he replied. "It's hard to see, he's just so young."

"It never gets easier lieutenant," said Shepard. She stood, readying her weapon. "But I need you to stay focused, understood? We have to complete our objective and honor his memory in doing so."

Alenko stood, a grim expression settling onto his face. "Aye aye ma'am."

"Good." Shepard looked toward the ridge. "Let's go get these sons of bitches."