Ok, a bit of background for this story... Technical Difficulties is a FemShep/Tali pairing that starts right at the beginning of #1. There will be different views of several crew members, as well as more fleshed out characterizations for the ones that I want to give more humanity to. The big thing behind that is that there are a lot of characters in the series, so we don't ever really get to go too far into their past, and for some of them I want to fix that. Some of them explain themselves and don't need the extra, but there are some that I know are more complex than we ever get to see.
I know that this seems a little odd, and more than a little non-canon, but I have my reasons for wanting to write this story the way I have been.
This story is over a year old, and I've had to go a long way to get it where I wanted to go. Now I just have to write it. This is going to take some time to do well, especially since there is another author here that I'm actually trying to be able to write like(in terms of length of chapters.)
The first seven chapters are rather short, because I was writing them with time limits and that kinda sucks. I'll be trying to actually get them to be longer, much longer, from here on out, believe me. Now, some background on the way things are in my version of the Mass Effect Universe.
Shepard is a product of her early life, far less human than she ought to be. Or at least, that's how some people see her, though the truth is that we are all the result of the things we have seen and done, so there is always a reason for what we do.
I wanna say thank you to SlyGoddess for illustrating how useful that actually is in stories simply by doing that in her Fem!Harry slashfic.
Also, some of the historical points of the story are going to lead into a different set of circumstances than what actually happened in the games, so look forward to those.
Chapter 1: First Meetings
"Shepard, slow down. We can't go charging in like we did with Fist, it'll just get her killed."
"Garrus, shut the fuck up. If I say charge, you charge and you kill them quick. Get it? Now move, we can't stop to chitchat."
The small human infiltrator grabs the collar of her turian comrade and shoves him forward into cover behind a tall crate, then waves her other squadmate, a huge krogan with a red forehead plate and several scars, into position with him before ducking behind a short partition.
She listens for a moment, smirking as the turian assassin's attempt to flirt with his mark falls flat. 'It's like he has no idea how to get what he wants without trying to sleep with a woman first.' she muses to herself. Tired of waiting, she signals Garrus to fire and start the fun. When his rifle barks, the resulting shockwave shakes the entire alley that they're in, or so it seems until Shepard stands up to fire off a sabotage mine. The krogan, Urdnot Wrex, charges out of hiding with a roar as impressive as his shotgun's and blasts the second salarian in the chest, shredding his body.
The turian is frustratedly trying to unjam his overheating gun when an Overload rips through his shields. Shepard's M-77 Paladin barks once, the anti-personnel round punching a neat little hole through his forehead. "See, piece of cake. She's not even scratched, and they're all dead." The krogan looks up at her and rumbles, "I think surprise might have been on our side, Shepard."
The quarian they were protecting pops her head up from her hiding place, her voice soft with awe and a bit of fear as she murmurs, "Keelah..."
Garrus winces inwardly as he anticipates the tirade that Shepard is about to embark upon, ripping into the quarian for trying to speak to the Shadow Broker, and especially for believing that Fist could actually arrange a meeting with him in person. "This is gonna be bad." he mutters to himself.
"Are you ok? They didn't hurt you did they?"
"Y-yes, thank you. They didn't even damage my suit. How did you find me?"
"I had a little chat with Dr. Chloe Michel, and she told me to talk to Fist. After I killed all of his guards, I had a little chat with him too, then let my krogan associate complete his end of a job. We came as quickly as we could, and it looks like it wasn't a moment too soon either. What's your name?"
"Tali. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, of the Migrant Fleet. Thank you for saving me, but... why?"
"You...have something I want, something that will help me nail Saren Arterius to the wall. That bastard betrayed the council, and more importantly, he attacked Eden Prime and slaughtered the colonists there."
In the back of Garrus' mind, he's questioning this turn of events. What the hell is going on? I meet this woman and the first thing she does is shoot four men down without batting an eye, tells me I took a good shot to rescue Dr. Michel, then goes down to C-Sec and makes a krogan actually like her. We get to Chora's Den and she wreaks havok in there with tech powers and a pistol, scares the two dock workers that Fist had strong-armed into being guards, then walks in and coolly neuters Fist. We get here, and she rips me a new one for suggesting caution, then shows her ruthless side again. Now, when faced with a quarian kid on Pilgrimage, she's suddenly almost... nice.
Wrex leans over and grumbles, "Are you as lost as I am? When the hell did someone who's practically krogan turn nice on us?"
Shepard turns on them both and barks, "Stow the damn chatter, we need to get Tali's evidence up to the ambassador. If he says one wrong word to her though, I swear I'll crack him one. She's just a scared kid."
"So, how are you settling in Tali?" Shepard queries, leaning against the console in the engine bay.
Inside her suit, Tali blushes a little at the attention the dangerous woman is giving her, and at how gentle she is when she talks to her. There is a hint of something in her voice, something Tali can't place, though it seems like she should be able to. "I-I'm fine, Shepard. I mean, I-I'm settling in well! I mean... oh Keelah..." Tali starts to fidget and fiddle with tiny engine functions, trying to hide her embarassment, and Shepard laughs.
It's the first time anyone on the ship has ever heard her laugh. She knows that most of her crew is a bit frightened of her, and she'd heard at one point that Joker, the pilot, had called her the "Torfan Butcher". If she is honest with herself, it's because no one was ever important enough for her to get close to, so she just never cared about anything but getting the mission done and moving on to the next one. Not since...years before, anyway.
But now, this one person, this alien, this girl barely away from home, has managed to slip through her defenses, just a little. Just enough to matter, to keep her from getting yelled at for not knowing better. Just enough to keep Shepard from putting a gun to her mask and telling her that if she ever jeopardized her mission like that again, knowingly or not, she would put her down. Just enough for her to care. Just enough...
"Please Tali," she whispers, "Just call me Vicky. I... I'd appreciate it, a lot."
"V-vicky? Why?" the quarian queries.
"My name is Victory, but no one ever calls me by my first name. Most are just too scared to, and I get why. But some, they just don't want to, and others I won't allow to. It's too... personal. I wantyou to though." Shepard's cheeks are a light shade of gray now, her dark skin flushed, and Engineer Adams is staring at the pair with undisguised shock. He quietly types a short message and sends it, discretely telling Joker about what is happening.
A moment later, he is staring at Shepard's omni-tool as it glows in his face. Her gray eyes are cold once more, and Joker's voice crackles over the intercom of the entire ship, "Shepard is what? She's actually smiling? At Tali? And blushing?!"
Without missing a beat or letting her arm fall, Shepard hits the intercom for the cockpit and says with acid dripping from her voice, "Get back to work Joker, before I start playing 'What breaks when I hit you here?'." Then she rounds on Adams and growls, "As for you, Engineer Adams, you start gossiping like a little schoolgirl and I will personally relieve you of duty and promote someone else to your position."
With that, she turns to Tali, smiles once more, and walks out of the engine bay.