Across the Universe

Eden Prime

"The Arcturus Prime relay is in range. Initiating transmission sequence," Joker called over the comm. Our controls flashed green; text telling us the TCP went through. "We are connected," the pilot continued, tapping a few buttons on the panel. "Calculating transit mass and destination," his brow furrowed for a moment. "Relay is hot. Acquiring approach vector." I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Since we began flying he was determined to do practically everything. It was like team exercises in flight school all over again, with the 'stay out of my way'. Yeah, well, I was not going to just let that happen. I still had to do something! At least to prove that Hackett made the right call requesting to transfer me. While Joker worked on the approach vector, I quickly scanned my control panel to check that everything else was secure.

"All stations secure for transit," I told him, and he barely acknowledged me as he flew. The boards turned completely green as I rolled my eyes.

"Board is green. Approach run has begun," The Chief Helmsman continued, tapping a few buttons calmly. "Hitting the relay in 3…2…1…" The bright flash that erupted from the relay caused me to shut my eyes tightly. The ship's speed increased as the Relay blasted us into a new system, going so fast it was like when you were on an elevator and it was dropping so quickly that it made you feel like you were floating, or falling. It was never this bad on the Tereshkova, which was a far bigger ship than the Normandy. Hell though, I really did not enjoy this feeling. It was uncomfortable, and I could feel myself hold my breath just waiting for us to make it into the Exodus Cluster. "Thrusters?" Joker asked me finally.

My eyes snapped open and I shook off what remained of my unpleasant feelings. I could feel 'Flight Lieutenant Moreau' watching me as I hurriedly moved my hands across the aerogel to check on the thrusters. "Check!" I called, closing the screen.

"Navigation?" Joker continued.

Man, now I knew he was just testing me to see if I actually knew my shit. Obviously I did, otherwise I wouldn't have graduated flight school right behind him on the scoreboards.

Check," I responded, checking everything else he could ask me to check before he even had to ask. "Internal emissions sink engaged. All systems online," I finished, tapping a few more buttons and closing them as soon as they turned from orange to green on the board.

"Drift… Just under 1500 K," Joker stated, nodding towards the Turian Spectre standing behind us.

Today we were going on a shakedown run to Eden Prime, the Citadel Council sending one of their Spectres to inspect our crew and the ship. Because the Normandy was built by both humans and Turians it only made sense to send a Turian to keep an eye on their investment considering that A) There were no human Spectres, and B) The crew was made up of humans. Then again, having a Turian on board could work both ways. I'd never had anything against Turians, after all I was far too young during First Contact to remember much, but I knew that a lot of humans still didn't think too highly of them. Although in my opinion, the First Contact War was just a misunderstanding and both sides lost a lot... but some people just needed an excuse to be racist.

"1500 is good. Your captain would be pleased." Nihlus told us, giving what I could only guess was a Turian's version of a smile. Maybe it was just because I was a child at heart, but receiving praise from a Spectre... a Turian Spectre at that, practically made me glow with pride.

I grinned back at him and nodded. "Thank you!" I replied earnestly, Joker rolling his eyes. The pilot stayed silent until the Turian was out of earshot.

"I hate that guy," Joker grumbled, adjusting his Alliance issued hat. Sabrina was standing behind us (I wasn't sure how she wanted me to act towards her on duty, so I decided to play it safe and wait for her to talk to me first) and Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko was sitting at the control panel behind us, so I knew that the pilot wasn't talking to me. Not that he really talked to me since our admittedly poor re-introduction, except for the occasional request or order. Regardless, Alenko seemed like a really nice guy. I hadn't known him for very long, but our introduction went a lot better than Joker and I's. Plus, he was pretty attractive. Short dark hair, gorgeous hazel eyes... and he was decently built and younger than most of the soldiers that worked on the Tereshkova. He wasn't my type or anything, but I could always appreciate the looks of someone that I could actually have a decent conversation with.

Kaidan sighed, giving Joker a withering look. "Nihlus gave you a compliment, so you hate him?" the soldier asked.

"You remember to zip up your jumpsuit on the way out of the bathroom? That's good." Joker scoffed stubbornly. "I-"

"We." I muttered to myself, highly doubting that the older man had heard me as he continued to rant at Kaidan.

"-just jumped us halfway across the galaxy and hit a target the size of a pinhead, so that's incredible," Joker stated, practically brimming with overconfidence as he spoke. I rolled my eyes. Why was this guy the Chief helmsman again? Nihlus gave us a compliment, and he didn't have to do that... just take the damn compliment. Joker turned his seat to face Alenko and Sabrina, expecting me to make sure the Normandy stayed on course. Not that I minded at all, since so far he'd barely let me do anything at all on this shakedown run. "Besides, Spectres are trouble. I don't like having him on board. Call me paranoid," the pilot shrugged.

"You're paranoid," Kaidan chuckled, shaking his head in disbelief. "The Council helped fund this project. They have a right to send someone to keep an eye on their investment."

My thoughts exactly.

"Yeah that is the official story. But only an idiot believes the official story," Joker argued, glancing at Sabrina for her opinion.

"They don't send Spectres on shakedown runs," Sabrina agreed, leaning against the back of my seat and smiling down at me.

"So there's more going on here than the Captain's letting on." Joker stated proudly, giving Kaidan a look that screamed 'I told you so'. I smiled up at Sabrina.

"Hey, when you find out what's going on… Tell me?" I asked hopefully, always loving to be kept in the loop.

"Sure thing, Keys." The older woman replied, using my nickname from when we ran with the Reds as children. The fond way she spoke to me let me know that she had no problem with me talking with her informally, which filled me with relief. I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to keep up formalities with her. She was my family, after all; my closest friend.

At that moment Anderson's voice rang over the comm. "Joker! Status Report," he barked, surprising me.

"Just cleared the mass relay, Captain," Joker responded seriously. "Stealth systems engaged. Everything looks solid."

"Good. Find a comm buoy and link us into the network. I want mission reports relayed back to Alliance brass before we reach Eden Prime," The captain ordered. Joker turned his head in my direction, signalling for me to begin. I frowned. For some reason, I was starting to get the feeling that most of the jobs Joker was going to give me were the ones that he didn't want to do. Regardless, I turned back towards my control panel and began working.

Joker smirked, pleased. "Aye, aye, Captain. Better brace yourself sir. I think Nihlus is headed your way."

Oh dear, I sensed that saying that was not a good idea.

"He's already here, Lieutenant."

I snorted out a laugh and held back my giggles while Anderson asked Joker to tell Sabrina to go to the comm room. "You get that Commander?" Joker asked her, placing a hand on his forehead in embarrassment while Sabrina laughed along with me.

"He sounds angry," Kaidan noted. "Something must have gone wrong."

"Pfft. Captain always sounds like that when he's talking to me," Joker told us, his face still a little bit red.

"Can't possibly imagine why," The Lieutenant chuckled.

Sabrina patted my head. "I'll talk to you soon kiddo," she told me before leaving the cockpit.

Sabrina now gone, I looked back at Alenko and smiled. "I can make a few guesses if it helps," I told the biotic, continuing the previous conversation.

My words clicking in his head, Kaidan grinned back at me. "Well, I'll be sure to discuss it with you later." he replied. "Again, welcome onto the Normandy Flight Officer Kogan." A warm feeling poured into my chest. Alenko was nice, and I liked him.

"Thank you! It's a pleasure to be here," I responded cheerfully. It felt nice to be welcomed in a new place, especially since the guy I was working with most wasn't exactly welcoming.

Joker scowled, sending me a glare. "Yeah. Go do your job already, whatever that is."

Mood deflated, I sighed and returned to checking the screens, occasionally pressing a button.

Kaidan gave Joker a disapproving look. "Joker..." he warned, the pilot ignoring him.

"It's ok Lieutenant Alenko," I spoke up, proud at how well I was hiding my wounded feelings.

After all, Joker could say whatever he wanted to me.

Because really, Joker did most of the work.


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