The Normandy Welcome Wagon

So I went around, said my farewells to those I was friendly with, packed what little I owned into a backpack, and headed towards the dock with Kenn.

While I felt bad about leaving some of my responsibilities, it felt good to finally getting off Omega. I've spent too many years on that damn rock.

"Are you sure you'll be alright?" I asked Kenn for about the squintillioneth time.

"Yes" Kenn assured me, exasperation seeping in his words "Keelah, you're worse than when my father was when I first started"

"Well considering you went broke within a couple of days, you can understand where I coming from" I snarked

"Yeah, I know" he sighed back "I'll be more careful this time. Maybe I'll go work on a colony somewhere"

"Try and stay clear of the human ones" I advised him "If what Shepard says is true, they've got a target on them"

Kenn promised he would do as I asked, and we were forced to say farewell as he left for his ship. The dock I was heading for wasn't much farther, but I froze as I saw it.

There was no mistaking the logo plastered onto the side of that behemoth.

Cerberus. A shadowy human organisation with a even shadowier history. Terrorists and racists were the names I've heard most.

There's a hiss as the doors open. Shepard emerged, dressed in slightly more casual clothing. Although it boggled my mind she could appear that comfortable wearing clothes emblazoned with the Cerberus logo.

"You never told me you were Cerberus" I told her, trying to keep the accusation out of my voice.

Her features hardened a little as she responded. "I'm not proud of it Ghost, but Cerberus is responsible for me being alive. They're also the only ones willing to act"

"Why wouldn't the Alliance be looking out for their people"

"Because the colonies lie in Terminus Space, and they don't have the time or resources to go on a snipe hunt. Easier to blame it on pirates and slavers"

Cold, but it made sense. Never was a major fan of Alliance anyway, why should they give me a reason now?

"You've got a good reputation Shepard" I told her as we boarded the ship "As long as you're the one calling the shots, I think we'll get along"

Shepard smiled at that "Don't worry, this ship doesn't do anything without my say so"

I nodded as we came onto the bridge. I had to say that out of all the ships I had been on, the Normandy was probably the cleanest looking. Everything seemed to be made out of polished chrome, and orange holograms lay everywhere.

"Cool arm" came a voice to my left. I turned to find myself facing a scruffy looking man in a a leather recliner. He wore an outsuit similar to Shepard's (must've been some kind of uniform, hope they don't try and get me to wear one) except he also wore a cap on his head.

"Where do I get one like that?" the man smiled at me.

I glanced down at my arm, then looked back to the scruffy man "Kill a geth" I smirked "Who are you?"

"Joker's our pilot" Shepard quickly explained, cutting off whatever long winded story the pilot was in the process of making.

"Come on Shepard. You're selling me a little short there" he whined.

"Unfortunately, Ghost here has other places to be"

"Ghost?" Joker repeated incredulously "They put that on your birth certificate?"

"Agent Ghost is well within his rights to conceal his birthname, Mr. Moreau" came a female, but clearly robotic voice emanating from the pilot's control console.

"Who's that?" I asked

"Normandy's cancer" Joker grumbled

A blue hologram (kinda resembling a blue chess piece) appeared beside him "I am EDI, the Normandy's artificial intelligence"

A couple of dozen thoughts were currently coursing through my mind. I knew for a fact that the production and usage of AIs was illegal, although given that I was riding in a ship currently being funded by a terrorist group I guess we couldn't get much worse. Desperate times. Desperate measures.

"Anyone else worth meeting?" I asked Shepard.

"You can wander around after your debrief, Ghost" Shepard answered me.

"Debrief?"

"First stop's the comm room" she explained "Gotta introduce you to the XO"

"The what?" I didn't want to sound like a total idiot, but she may as well have just spoken french, for all the goddamn sense she just made.

"Sorry" Shepard apologised "The second-in-command"

A small suppressed laugh from Joker gave me the impression that I wasn't going to enjoy the attention of the "XO" as Shepard called him.

As we went, Shepard introduced me to a few people, mainly the people that she spoke to on the floor. There was Kelly Chambers, her "yeoman" (whatever the hell that was) and part-time therapist, who was in such a constant state of happiness I was worried she was on drugs or something. Jacob Taylor, one of the guys who'd be working on the ground team, who was seemed weirdly more grounded and sane than the fucking therapist. I'm pretty sure it's not meant to work that way, but whatever.

Although I did know the guy in the lab.

"Doc?" I cried in disbelief.

"Ghost" said Mordin Solus in his usual high-speed delivery "Eyesight still sharp, surprised to see me, unsurprising given Cerberus mission, a little surprised myself. Nice to see you"

Shepard looked back and forth between us for a moment before asking "You know Mordin?"

"Yeah, the doc was always the one I went to when I got messed up. Saved my life more times than I'd like to admit" I nodded

"Encounters were certainly... memorable" Mordin admitted "How is your arm?"

"I haven't felt any phantom pains in weeks doc" I assured him.

"Good, amputations always risky procedures, too many ways they can go wrong, glad to see it all worked out"

Shepard smiled "It's good to see that you have no problem with non-humans, Ghost"

I chuckled "You live on Omega, you kinda get used to it. Not that I had any problems before" I elaborated.

Shepard nodded at me, before turning to Mordin "If you were Ghost's doctor I'll need you to give Chakwas his medical profile"

"Of course"

"Who's Chakwas?" I asked

"Ship's doctor. Ex-Alliance" Shepard explained

Well that was certainly better than some Cerberus doctor, you hear creepy things about Cerberus scientists. And while I liked Mordin, he always had a kind of "mad scientist" vibe around him. Funny to watch, not as funny when he's got you under the knife though.

With a quick goodbye, Shepard took through into the comm room, where there stood her XO.

It was catsuit-lady. Miranda. Whatever.

I probably shouldn't have stared at her tits, but she kinda did make it easy. She didn't show any flesh or anything but that white-and-black suit covered her like a second skin, showing off every curve of her toned, bikini model body. That included her boobs.

"Are you not cold?" I blurted out.

Miranda's impassive stare quickly turned into a glare. She probably would have said something if Shepard wasn't vainly trying to hide her smile.

"Welcome aboard the Normandy, Ghost" Miranda spoke with a strained voice, as if she wished she could anywhere but there, talking to me "I'm Miranda Lawson. Shepard's second-in-command. On this ship, we follow orders..."

A part of me kind of wanted to just walk out of that room, be done with XO Swimwear and just find a place to set my things. But the more rational part of my brain (regrettably) knew that this woman's ire was not something I wanted to experience on my first day.

"Any questions?" Miranda asked (Dammit, she finished her speech), looking at me expectantly.

"You work for Cerberus then?" I asked her.

The question seemed to make Miranda straighten up a little. "Indeed I do" she answered with unmistakeable pride in her voice. Why she would feel proud about working for terrorists was beyond me (maybe she was one of those bog-standard xenophobes) "I, along with most of the crew in fact, were hand-picked by the Illusive Man himself"

"You'll have to explain that one to me"

"The Illusive Man is the head of Cerberus" Shepard quickly explained "He runs the entire organisation"

"And it's a big deal that he picked you?" I asked Miranda.

"Probably not as big a deal if it were anyone else" Miranda said "But as one of the Illusive Man's most trusted agents, I'm generally entrusted to organise the more dangerous and ambitious projects that Cerberus has"

"Does that include the bombings and concentration camps?"

Miranda's face immediately soured, but I continued to speak "You hear a lot of troubling things about this little klan over the extranet"

"We have many cells, and only one man at its core" Miranda said by way of explanation "Unsurprisingly, some go rogue"

"You have many rogue cells then?" I pressed.

"Look, Mr. Crest" she snapped "I don't have the time nor the patience to explain the complexities of Cerberus's network to you"

I unconciously tensed up. My left hand moved to rest on my sword without consent, which probably put Shepard and Miranda a little on edge "You know my name?"

Miranda looked at me with a haughty glint in her eye "Cerberus has many resources, as I said. This mission is one of our most important assignments yet. Did you honestly think we wouldn't give you an extensive background check?"

"Then I'm surprised you're willing to hire me" I retorted "If you have my profile you'll know I never got along well with your type"

"Our type?" Miranda asked, her glare having returned.

"Xenophobes. Human supremacists. That kind of crap" I clarified, not bothering to hide the contempt behind my words.

"Cerberus is hardly that, I assure you" Miranda spoke "And for clarification, it's Shepard who has the luxury of choosing squadmates. If it were up to me you would have never gotten wind of this mission"

"Good thing you're not my boss then" I said with a smirk.

I turned to speak to Shepard, ignoring the fuming Miss Lawson "So where do I put my things"

"Crew quarters are on deck 3" Shepard explained.

"Yeah, sorry, I'm not very good with groups. Is it alright if I can have a place to myself. I don't need anything, just a little bit of the shuttle bay to call home"

"There's plenty of free space down in the shuttle bay, Agent Ghost" EDI's voice came speaking from over the intercom.

I jumped a little at the suddeness of her voice. Guess that was just going to take a little bit of getting used to.

"Why the shuttle bay?" Shepard asked.

"Well the lack of people makes it a little bit more comfortable, plus the sheer size of the ship makes me think the shuttle bay will have enough room for more than just a single shuttle" I explained "I don't take up much space"

"Alright" Shepard shrugged "I'll come down later to see how your doing"

I nodded and left, taking the elevator down to the bottom floor. True to what I had thought, the shuttle bay was massive. Turbines ran up the center of the bay, with the shuttle hanging on the left from the ceiling.

Jumping over the work consoles, I went to the corner on my immediate right and got to work.

It wasn't easy moving some of the crates around, but with time, and a fair amount of stubbed toes and swear words, I had managed to make a small wall to block out any peeping toms. I lay down my pack, and brought out my belongings. I didn't have much, just a bedroll and a pillow (and a certain magazine, but I doubt I was going to get any alone time on this ship).

With that, I unstrapped my weapons and gave them a quick clean. The shotgun was a quick enough job (hell it came with a manual!) but the sword was a different case. Completely one of a kind. Fair to say that if I tinkered with it the wrong way I would probably explode.

Satisfied with a job well done, I looked to the ceiling. "EDI?"

"Yes, Agent Ghost?" came the omnipresent reply.

"Where's the mess?"

"Floor 3"

"Thanks" I said. Strapping the sword back onto my belt (I'd never part with the thing) I strolled back to the elevator and went up for whatever qualified as dinner.