Kaidan Alenko in Mass Effect 2

Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko


Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.


  • This profile covers the first two games, though it also includes a flashback from Mass Effect: Foundation #4.
  • This profile includes S P O I L E R S.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.


  • Real Name: Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Alliance Marine Corps.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the SSV Normandy SR-1.
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Dark brown


Powers and Abilities

Alenko is a trained, experienced Alliance Marines officer. He has a superb track record, and presumably holds a special forces qualification (N5 ?). Though he’s a trained rifleman and shock trooper, he specialises in providing frontline support to assault specialists rather than shooting stuff up.

The primary source of support is provided by his mind – Staff Lieutenant Alenko is a powerful biotic. During much of his career he was cautious about using Mass Effect fields on enemies. After seeing the bodies of civilians massacred by the geth on Eden-Prime he became more violent and willing to blast the opposition – which in turn made him even more powerful.

Though his brain is wired with the old, unsafe L2 implants Alenko is more powerful than the vast majority of biotics with L3-generation implants. He reportedly achieved some of the highest spike outputs ever produced by a Human biotic.

Alenko is also technically-minded, and was trained as a combat engineer specialising in electronic warfare. He can use his specialised omni-tool to sabotage equipment and communications, shut down weapons through overheating, disrupt kinetic shields, etc.

Between this and his telekinesis, Lt. Alenko can plunge the enemy into disarray, making it much easier for the weapons specialists to move in for the kill.

Other assets

Kaidan prefers to fight armed with a pistol. Presumably, he needs a free hand to use his omni-tool and to direct his biotic fields.

Kaidan Alenko portrait

During an early scene Alenko sits next to Joker in the cockpit of the Normandy. This writeup assumes that he can help the pilot a bit with plotting courses. Perhaps he’s training to become a crude backup pilot in case the helmsman and the navigator are both incapacitated.

Staff Lieutenant Alenko is considered one of the rising stars of the Marine Special Forces. His association with the superstar of MARSOC, Staff Commander Shepard, dims his own light – but it also allows him to develop his skills and biotic power at a rapid pace.

Though the Alliance has lost Shepard to the Council, they’ll gain somebody who can replace her when Alenko returns to serving Earth.


Two years after the discovery of the Mars alien technology cache, a transport ship carrying Element Zero (E0) experienced catastrophic containment failure above Singapore. There were several such accidents during the 2150s. This was presumably because the extraordinary properties of Element Zero and its interactions with energy were still poorly understood.

Kaidan Alenko surrounded by biotic dark energy

The quantities of Element Zero any given Singaporean was likely to be exposed to were tiny. But pregnant women had breathed Element Zero particles, which ended up as small nodules within the body of developing embryos.

Nearly 30% of children born in the months that followed the accident had cancer. By 2158 it became clear that about 10% of all exposed children were presenting some unprecedented characteristics.

By 2160 it had been determined that these children could direct bioelectricity through the tiny quantities of E0 in their body to produce small Mass Effect fields. This phenomenon was called biotics.

Free your mind

A corporation called Conatix Industries moved first. They presumably negotiated an exclusive contract with the recently-formed Systems Alliance to study the phenomenon. Conatix was allowed to recruit children affected by the accidental exposures, and studied their abilities and how to develop them.

While Human biotics could only produce small effects, using cybernetic implants to increase the amounts of energy (and possibly the amount of E0) quickly emerged as a solution. The first generation of implants, the L1, was developed in 2163. But it was basically useless since biotics were too poorly understood.

Kaidan Alenko talking

Little Kaidan Alenko, whose mother was in Singapore during the accident, was among the children who joined the Conatix research program. For security and secrecy reasons, the program was established on Gagarin Space Station, more popularly known as “Jump Zero”.

Gagarin is at the termination shock – the point where the Sun’s wind slows down to subsonic speeds, often considered the edge of the solar system. Jump Zero was previously used for faster-than-light flight research. It was presumably decommissioned when the Mars discovery opened completely different, and much more promising, avenues of research.

Officially, the Gagarin research facility was renamed “Biotic Acclimation and Temperance training program” (BAAT) by Conatix. But the kids soon called the sterile, regimented, isolated station “Brain Camp” by comparison with a military boot camp.

Brain Camp (part 1)

Conatix wanted results quickly. But with the failure of the L1 implant the research with the kids was taking too long. However, during the First Contact War, alien soldiers had been observed using biotics. Conatix thus contracted Turian mercenaries to serve as instructors.

This was done in utter secrecy. Though the Turians considered the First Contact War to have been a minor clash at the periphery of Citadel Space, Humanity was still up in arms about them.

Turian biotic training saved years if not decades of research. However, most of the mercenaries viewed Humans as annoying primitives. Furthermore they were military veterans with a taste for harsh discipline. They tended to mistreat and insult the Human children.

Brain Camp (part 2)

Unbeknown to Humans back then, Turian biotics are rare – and are often treated as outcasts even among the Turian military. Furthermore, biotic troopers are often used by the Turians as infiltrators. So the instructors may actually not have been mercenaries.

Kaidan Alenko in his full Colossus hardsuit, aiming a pistol

The first generation of Human biotics grew up in Brain Camp constantly probed and poked by scientists – and disciplined and ran ragged by harsh Turian taskmasters.

Furthermore, many of the kids had serious physical and psychological issues from Element Zero exposure. The prototype biotic amplifiers they were implanted with – the L2 model – also had numerous nasty side effect. The attrition rate is unknown, but Kaidan mentioned numerous kids experiencing severe nervous breakdowns and several dying.

The Alenko incident, part 1

Kaidan grew close to a Turkish girl called Rahna, who was assigned as his dorm buddy during their first week on Jump Zero. Another friend was a boy named Shelby, who clandestinely fixed up a communicator. Shelby was attempting to send messages to his and his friends’s parents.

When Kaidan was 17, Shelby’s jury-rigged (and probably non-functional) communicator was discovered.

The senior Turian instructor, Commander Vyrnnus, reacted as poorly as ever. He had Shelby beaten up, all kids deprived of water, and set up a very hard telekinetic collective training exercise for the Human kids. The hours-long, harrowing exercise ran the kids ragged, and several collapsed from exhaustion, dehydration and heat strokes.

As Rahna was faltering, Kaidan helped her soldier through. The instructor noticed this and mockingly offered Rahna a glass of water which she couldn’t reach. When she tried to catch it, he badly broke her wrist with a biotic warp.

The Alenko incident, part 2

At this point Kaidan went postal and blasted his instructor. The brawl degenerated into a fight to the death as Vyrnnus slashed the Human with his knife. In response Kaidan delivered the highest biotic output ever registered from a Human and, in a sort of instinctive biotic charge, killed Vyrnnus.

Both the Turian mercenaries and the Systems Alliance reacted very poorly. Conatix had to shut down BAAT.

Rahna was horrified by the fight and Vyrnnus’ death. Young and sheltered, Alenko was hurt by her rejection and became wary of displaying his power lest people fear him. This would slow down his development as a biotic fighter until his early 30s.

Slan, part 1

Though the first generation of Human biotics had been treated like child prisoners and Guinea pigs, Alenko was comparatively lucky. He didn’t develop brain tumours from Element Zero nodules in his tissues. His L2 implant didn’t trigger serious medical complications either, though it left him with nasty chronic migraines.

Kaidan Alenko using his omni-tool

Biotics of the L2 generation were largely left to fend for themselves no matter how bad their health was. They also were forced to register with both their government and the Systems Alliance as potential dangers.

Activist movements formed, many wishing to form biotic communes to be free from discrimination and mistrust. A few L2 biotics would become terrorists, fighting to obtain reparations from Conatix and the Systems Alliance.

Slan, part 2

Others biotic activists and their allies investigated the various accidental E0 releases over population centres. They came to the conclusion that most accidents after 2162 had been engineered by Conatix as they were running out of subjects from the late 2150s accident.

Though the activists couldn’t prove their accusations and lacked credibility due to social stigma, they made an objectively compelling case.

Between these accusations, the death of Commander Vyrnnus, Conatix’s reckless abuse of children in BAaT, a lack of oversight of the Systems Alliance on their contractors, etc. the Alliance ended the contract with Conatix.

Research into biotics was transferred to the military – specifically the Systems Alliance Naval Command. However, many of the private contractors retained by the military were thinly disguised Conatix departments.

This is my rifle

As to Kaidan, he was returned to his family. His supportive parents helped him cope with his experiences, and consider his future. Knowing that he would be registered and watched all his life in any case, and wanting to see the galaxy and be helpful, Alenko enlisted.

The Systems Alliance military was always interested in biotics. Alenko turned out to be an excellent recruitment for them — powerful biotic, top-notch technical scores, and an excellent soldier with superior command potential.

Alenko’s career is undocumented in the game, but one assumes that he was assigned to an Alliance Fleet right away. He received his commission and, by 2183, was a Staff Lieutenant.

His capabilities and track record led to his assignment to the SSV Normandy SR-1. This was about the best promotion he could hope for. He had been selected by a legendary Marine Special Operations officer, Captain David Anderson, known for hand-picking the best.

Alenko was further placed directly under the command of Anderson’s XO, the famous war heroine and special operations maven – Staff Commander Shepard.

Enter the dragon

Alenko would run the Normandy’s small marines detail day-to-day. But his main job would be to be on Shepard’s shore operations team. The last member of their 3-man MARSOC fire team would be a young Corporal with very high scores, Richard Jenkins.

Kaidan Alenko tinkering with a computer console

One day, the Captain summoned Alenko and Jenkins. The Normandy’s shakedown cruise had been rescheduled to start ASAP. Alenko wondered why Anderson wanted the tactical team aboard for a test flight, and soon realised that something was afoot.

The brand-new Normandy was loaded for bear, the full crew was present and on high readiness (including the whole marine contingent) and three VIPs were aboard – Anderson, Shepard and a Turian high-level agent of the Council .

As Alenko familiarised himself with the new ship and his new colleagues, he waited for the other shoe to drop.


Staff Lieutenant Alenko is in his early 30s, though he looks a bit older. Like most people serving in the Alliance he has a mixed heritage. “Kaidan” might be Japanese or Arabic, “Alenko” is usually Ukrainian or Magyar, and his features seem part-European and part-Central Asian.

Kaidan Alenko discussing with Commander Shepard

Kaidan sports a muscular, broad-shouldered physique. Since most male Alliance Marines are built similarly, this is likely in vivo military gene therapy facilitating fitness and muscle development to operate in body armour. He has ruggedly handsome features and a distinctive, husky voice.

Alenko sports a peculiar haircut – more or less a pompadour , complete with sideburns. Perhaps he really likes 1950s rock ’n’ roll.

Alenko’s hard suits sports a distinctive model of faceplate when in sealed mode. Presumably this is because of his sensitivity to bright lights caused by his migraines.


Here is a video chaining various bits of dialogue with Kaidan to provide plenty of exemples about his voice and looks :


Alenko is reliable, smart, and professional – an excellent lieutenant. He tends to keep to himself, in large part because his migraines cut on his socialisation time. He’s a cautious, self-reliant, serious man and proud to be a marine.

His whole life has taken place in harsh, regimented environments such as Brain Camp and the Systems Alliance Marines. He’s well-adapted to those, and barracks life coupled with his natural curiosity have led him to read a lot.

Kaidan knows about a surprising number of things, and his military assignments have generally been interesting and enriching since he’s considered a high-potential officer.

By contrast, Kaidan is somewhat sheltered. He never had much of a life outside of bases, and his migraines mean he didn’t generally join other marines partying on leaves. One of his troopers, Chief Williams, was amused to see her Lt. ’s reaction when they visited a strip club with gorgeous Asari dancers.

This lack of a normal life also make Alenko a bit clumsy with women he’s interested in. But he’s smart enough, and enough of a straight shooter for it to be more cute than embarrassing.

(Kaidan is bisexual, but this isn’t mentioned in the first game. The reasons for this are non-diegetic . But in-universe, it simply can be assumed that it took a while for him to realise that he genuinely liked guys too.)

Brainy Kaidan

His strange life can make for odd priorities. He can shrug about his personal issues and just move on with equanimity, yet grow fascinated or even agitated about matters of galactic politics and leadership that most would consider distant, abstract concerns. Kaidan cannot quite explain why he feels strongly about those.

Kaidan Alenko and Ashley Williams

Like Shepard, he thinks that Humanity’s destiny lies in joining the galactic community and fitting in well with aliens. But he’s much more reserved about the Council than she is.

Whether Kaidan is going to overthink something, or be sensible and pragmatic about it, can be difficult to predict. But he’ll usually over-intellectualise things.

Kaidan is terrible at small talk, as he’s always focused on the facts, strategising, and analyzing the situation.

Other traits

Alenko developed an attraction toward the striking and charismatic Commander Shepard soon after joining the Normandy crew. Though he knew it was a terrible idea, he then misread some signals as the mistook Shepard’s warm and caring attitude for romantic interest on her part.

As he tried to breach the situation while remaining professional, he realised that Shepard had something going on with the Asari academic consultant on the Normandy – and misread that by assuming that Commander Shepard preferred women.

As they continued to work with each other Alenko reached a better understanding of the situation. Though he presumably felt like an idiot for a while, Kaidan is not a man to wallow in angst. He quickly got over it, remaining an excellent lieutenant, comrade-in-arms and pal for Shepard.

After one of their comrades, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, sacrificed herself during a high-stake storming action, Alenko and Shepard grew closer as marine buddies, mourning Williams together.


“We’re marines. We stick together.”

Staff Commander Shepard (amused): “Well, well. You’re a romantic. Did you sign on for ‘the dream’, Alenko ? Secure man’s future in space ?”
Staff Lieutenant Alenko: “Heh. Yeah, I read a lot of those books when I was a kid, where the hero goes to space to prove himself worthy of the woman he loves.” (beat, realises that it was mildly awkward toward Ms. Shepard) “Or, errr, you know, for justice. So yeah, maybe I was a romantic in the beginning. But I thought about it after Brain Camp. Uh, sorry — ’Biotic Acclimation and Temperance training.‘ I’m not looking for ’the dream.‘ I just want to do some good. See what’s out here.”

“I’m 32, ma’am. You don’t serve as long as I have without coming to terms with yourself.”

Kaidan Alenko on Horizon

“There’s writing on the wall here – but someone isn’t reading it. A group that has been around as long as the Council should see this !”

(Asked if he resents Turians after his experiences at Brain Camp) “Ma’am, if I were to judge entire species based on a handful of assholes, I’d really hate Humans.”

Shepard: “Yeah, OK, so the Reapers are really old. So are the Turians, and we gave them a boot in the ass.”
(The full size of the Reapers becomes apparent)
Alenko: “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boot, Commander.”

(Ogling the dancers in a strip bar) “I can understand why this place is popular. It has quite the… ahhh… errrr… view.” (realises his female colleagues are looking at him with some irritation) “The view.”

Crawling from the wreckage

Kaidan appears but briefly in the second game. He survives the destruction of the Normandy, but the loss of Shepard, Pressly and a score of crewmen considerably worsens the case of survivor’s guilt he’s been experiencing since Virmire.

Kaidan Alenko aiming an assault rifle on Horizon

With Shepard out of the picture, Alenko becomes an important Special Forces operative for the Systems Alliance. He partially replaced Shepard. Kaidan becomes a Staff Commander circa 2184, and is detailed to handling sensitive situations. His career during that time is undocumented.

Commander Alenko presumably became popular among the L2 biotic community, as he had helped Commander Shepard negotiate a bloodless end to a biotic terrorist hostage crisis. This led to a revision of the Alliance’s reparation policies for L2 biotics. Sick biotics previously left to fend for themselves could now receive medical and financial help.

Shepard’s alive

In 2185 rumours that Shepard was still alive were floated toward Kaidan. He also received information about the Human colony on Horizon (in the Terminus systems) being a likely target for a mass kidnapping raid. Assuming that Shepard would respond to such a raid, the Alliance sent Alenko to Horizon under the pretext of installing automated defences.

Even with the free anti-orbital batteries offered by the Alliance, the presence of an Earth agent was poorly received by the colonists. They offered but minimal collaboration as they had left Earth not to deal with its institutions. Presumably, Kaidan was on Horizon for but a few days when the kidnapping raid took place.

Kaidan survived the raid, apparently thanks to his biotic might. He then confronted Shepard after she forced the kidnappers to depart prematurely.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Kaidan Alenko

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Marine Lieutenant
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 014 HP: 030

Biotic barrier: 30, Biotic lift: 07, Biotic stasis: 05, Superbreath: 07, Telekinesis: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Superbreath and Telekinesis are biotic powers.
  • Biotic lift has a 0-AP Area of Effect.
  • Superbreath can only be used every other Phase.

Accuracy (Biotics): 07, Acrobatics (Climbing, Dodging): 03, Detective (Identification systems): 10, Gadgetry: 06, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science (Cartography, demolition): 05, Thief (Security systems, Locks & Safes): 10, Vehicles (Land, Water): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations.

Expertise (Military protocols and equipment), Familiarity (Astronavigation, Zero-G Combat), Language (Council Trade), Rank (Systems Alliance Lieutenant), Misc.: Biotic override (see below).

Crew of the SSV Normandy (High), Systems Alliance Navy (Low).

Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs loud noises and bright lights), MPR (fierce migraines), Misc.: Kaidan needs a 50% higher caloric intake compared to a non-biotic person.

The equipment below is for the first game ; in the second game Kaidan seemed to have generic Alliance equipment (marine body armour and a M8 Avenger rifle) but little was seen of it.

  • HMWP Master Spectre Pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 07, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat]. Kaidan carries other weapons, but seldom uses them as he needs to gesture to use his omni-tool or biotics.
  • COLOSSUS LIGHT BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 10, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 03, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 16, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 05, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].
  • OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 16, Fabricate: 01, Radio communication: 15, Superspeed: 02, Limitation: Fabricate is limited to Doodads (but those are permanent, and unlimited in number given enough omni-gel), Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool]. This is a high-end omni-tool. Beyond these basic functions, Kaidan uses his omni-tool for the following specialised roles :
    • Regeneration: 05 (Linked with Medicine, Usable on Others, Ammo: 07).
    • Neutralise (Mass Effect-based firearms): 12, Bonus: Area of Effect 1 AP, Neutralise is its own AV ; Limitation: the effects of Neutralise can be eliminated by rebooting the weapon, which takes three Phases but only requires one Automatic Action to launch).
    • Neutralise (Biotic powers): 09, Bonus: Area of Effect 1 AP, Neutralise is its own AV ; Limitation: the effects of Neutralise can be eliminated by recentering, which takes three consecutive Phases and costs an Automatic Action for each Phase.
    • MEK Shield Disruption: 12.
    • Bomb: 05, Bonus: Normal Range, can be Combined with a Neutralise or a MEK Shield Disruption), Limitation: Requires a Mass Effect field generator (artificial or natural) at ground zero.

Biotic override

On Horizon, Kaidan demonstrates the ability to shake a biotic stasis effect no ordinary person could resist. His Misc. Advantage allows for making a roll against an ongoing biotic effect (statis, singularity, lift…) with a special -2CS OV/RV bonus, even if no roll is normally allowed.

The Hero Points cost for this roll is the same as a Desperation Recovery Roll.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy.

Helper(s): Model sheet by Troodon80.

Writeup completed on the 9th of March, 2012.