Chapter 16

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Milky Way/Serpent Nebula/Widow System/Citadel

Earth year: 2183 CE --- November

Upon returning to the Citadel, Anderson wasted no time getting Kaidan back to active duty and back in training. For the past month, he'd been refining his combat techniques and upgrading his tech skills. When he wasn't at the Alliance facility, he spent three hours every day practicing in the new combat simulator, Armax Arsenal Arena to refine his biotic endurance.

At first, Anderson had sent him on solo simulations, giving him time to work through any emotional triggers that might affect his judgment. He knew what Anderson was doing and for the most part he was grateful. The first week had been hell. Every time he pulled on his armour, his thoughts went to missions with Shepard. Geth were his first targets, but were soon replaced with nameless enemies like mercenaries groups and terrorists.

By the end of the first week he was calm, clear-headed and had begun to plan his mission in seconds seconds rather than minutes. By the end of the second week, it was a rare thing if any simulated enemy made it past his barrier or his shields.

Pleased by his progress, Anderson had given him two team members to work with, making Kaidan their squad leader. It took another week for him to work out his their skill set and combat style, but by the end of it he had a solid team.

"You know Dlaney," Kaidan heard Private Mason Zima say as they stripped out of their armour and into their BDUs. "I could tweak the targeting system on that assault rifle of yours by almost a minute if you want."

Corporal Tanner Dlaney laughed, a deep throaty sound that reached the corners of her eyes as she regarded him with amusement. "Thanks, but no thanks." She said. "I've seen what your tweaking did to that sniper rifle of yours. It jammed while you were sighting on that geth rocket drone. If I hadn't stepped in to save your ass, you would've taken a rocket to the face."

Mason frowned. "That's not true Corporal. I ducked."

"That just proves my point." She said, zipping up her jacket and turning to face him, arms crossed over her chest. "You wouldn't have had to duck if your weapon hadn't jammed."

"It just over-heated a bit, that's all. It wasn't jammed." Mason protested. "Besides, I tested it. Now it reloads twenty seconds faster than before."

"Twenty seconds isn't nearly long enough for me to let you anywhere near my weapon. My rifle works just fine as it is." Tanner retorted. "You want to mess around with your weapons, be my guest. But keep away from my rifle. I'd rather not have it blow up in my face in the middle of a real fire-fight."

"I've never blown up a weapon!" Mason protested. "Jammed maybe... but only the one time!"

"Once is all it takes." Tanner reminded him. "This is a simulator Zima, with safeties. You can't take that kind of risk in the field."

"Fine." Mason said, deflating. "I just thought I could help."

"No offence Private, but I'll pass."

"You both did great out there." Kaidan interjected, hearing the lull in their conversation.

"Thanks Lieutenant." Tanner said, a wry smile on her tanned features. She pushed her curly blonde locks off her forehead, turning her clear blue eyes to Kaidan. "It was great saving Mason's ass... again."

"You did not save my ass again!" Mason protested, his cheeks flushing in embarrassment. With his light red hair, green eyes and pale complexion , he was helpless to prevent his emotions from showing in his face. "We're a team. We complement each other's strengths."

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