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Enemies of Love

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The early evening air was warm against Isabelle Shepard’s skin and she couldn’t help but think that if it weren’t for the battle raging around her, it would have been a beautiful evening. An evening where she could sit around with her friends, have a few drinks and relax, but it was not meant to be. Instead of basking in the last dregs of sunlight, she, Jack, Kasumi, Ashley, Kaidan, Jacob, and James were fighting their way through the streets of Elysium trying to keep the civilians safe.

“Anyone have a spare thermal clip?” Ashley yelled over the sound of gunfire.

“Here!” The redhead officer yelled back, tossing a few in the blue-armored soldier’s direction and watching her slam the new clip into her assault rifle.

Conditions were degrading... They had been fighting for three days now, without a single message from Alliance Command. They were running low on ammo and soldiers. What felt like forever ago, from the moment Izzy noticed the city’s defense force scrambling to mobilize, her instincts screamed at her to get in contact with the person in charge and it was a good thing she had.

When she finally got through to the defence office, and explained who she was, they informed her of an incoming attack on the colony. The young Alliance officer had immediately called an end to her team’s shore leave and together they headed straight to the colony’s defence office.

Elysium was one of humanity's bigger colony worlds, definitely one of the most popular, but their defences were not meant for an invasion of this scale. Izzy had taken the time to fire off messages to all Alliance personnel that were on planet, informing them of the impending Batarian invaders.

The colony air defences had been swiftly taken out by the invaders and a missile barrage had taken out the Alliance garrison leaving Izzy and her team scrambling for whatever gear they could find in the ruins of the base. 

Unfortunately for her, and the rest of the colony, the remaining soldiers were lower-ranking noncommissioned members. There were only two other officers, a newly commissioned  lieutenant and another lieutenant-commander, but they were too far out from the command post to help. 

Leaving her with the responsibility to lead. Shepard was used to leading her ground team, but to place the entire colony in the hands of a 24-year-old lieutenant-commander, even an N-7 like her, seemed ludicrous. 

But she had no choice. She needed to step up.

“Lieutenant-Commander Shepard, if you can hear me, please respond,” a staticky voice came in over her private comm. Izzy recognized him immediately as the head of the colony, Mr. Davies.

Quickly springing from cover and throwing a shockwave to push the enemy back, Izzy ducked back into cover as she activated her comm. “Shepard, here.” 

“Lieutenant-Commander, Lieutenant-Commander Matthews is here, standby and I’ll patch him through,” The man’s shaky voice replied.

“About time...” she grumbled as she sent Jack a quick look. 

“Aw, screw you princess. You know what you’re fucking doing,” the biotic called out, grinning fiercely. “Besides, these cocksuckers are giving us a good fight!” 

Rolling her eyes at the comment Izzy couldn’t help think, ‘Leave it to Jack to find this kind of fight fun.’

“Right… I’m having a blast over here. But, you know, it would be nice if we had our usual armor and weapons.” Ashley cut in from Izzy’s other side. Both women were covered in sweat soaked t-shirts and scrapes but still going strong.

Reappearing beside Jacob, Kasumi snickered as she added her own opinion to the conversation, “Well... maybe you should invest some effort into my style of fighting. These weapons work just fine for me. They can’t see me coming until it’s too late.”

That got a solid chuckle from the group as they continued to hold their position.

“Shepard, it's Matthews. I got in touch with Alliance Command but was cut off before I could get too much information. Just as we lost connection I was able to get an hour E.T.A. Hold that line as long as you can but if you must drop back to the next barricade let us know. We can have the area cleared quickly if need be.” The other officer told her as she kept fighting. 

‘Of course, I’ll hold it, what choice do I have!’ Izzy thought, but replied diplomatically. “Wilco, Sir. If anything changes, let me know and I can send one of my team to help hold other positions.”

“I’ll keep you informed, Matthews out,” and with that, he was gone.

“What was that pendejo thinking? We can handle this.” James grumbled as he threw a grenade he’d stripped from a batarian corpse into to the advancing line of mercenaries.

Izzy took the opportunity to biotically throw the next closest pirate into a building before replying. “Careful there, Corporal. He’s your superior.”

“Sorry ma’am, heat of the battle,” the tank of a man apologised, clearly seeing that he had spoken out of turn. The Lieutenant-Commander normally didn’t have a problem with her team speaking frankly with her, but this wasn’t the time.

“Understood, Vega.” She nodded.

“We’re behind you, ma’am.” Kaidan said somewhere off to her left. 

Of course you are.’ the redhead mused, as she fired her shotgun at a pirate who’d gotten too close. She wasn’t sure what it was about this guy, but he rubbed her the wrong way. The man had been on her team for almost three months now and he still seemed to stare at her and talk to her like he was more than just a subordinate or friend under her command. She had been trying to make it clear to him for months now that she just wasn’t interested... but he didn’t seem to take the hint.

“I know, Alenko,” was all she chose to say in response. The Lieutenant-Commander couldn’t say anything else because she knew that her people were behind her and she couldn’t let her personal feelings for the man get in her way right now. She needed to focus on the task at hand.

The fight continued in relative silence between the team. The only words spoken were orders or warnings. It wasn’t until Matthews came back over the comm that more was said.

“Shepard. We got word that the Batarians are close to taking down one of the barricades to the west, sector 14. We need one of your men over there now!” He barked.

“Copy that, heading there now.” Izzy acknowledged, stuffing a couple scrounged thermal clips into her pocket. Turning to the soldier she gave her own orders, “Williams you’re in charge here.” 

“Ma’am you sure-” Kaidan started but the fiery red-head cut him off. 

“Yes, I’m sure Lieutenant. Don’t question my orders,” she said, giving him a hard stare.

“Of course, ma’am. Sorry ma’am,” he responded, looking chastised. 

She nodded in response before turning to Ashley. “Williams, hold this line. No one gets past you. You hear me?” Izzy gave her a knowing look, telling her with her eyes that she had faith that the Gunnery Chief had what it took to do this.

“You got it, Skipper,” Ashley called out, charging back into the throws of the fight.

Quickly, Izzy maneuvered herself further into the battered colony before sprinting off in the direction of the next barricade. Matthews had sent her the location and she wasn’t too far, maybe a kilometre or two. She could make it in less than ten minutes on a bad day. 

As she ran, she could see people moving behind the second line of defences trying to shore up any openings in case the first line had to drop back. The sight of visiting Turians and Asari that had taken it upon themselves to be the leaders as the second line of defence, warmed her.

All Turians were enlisted for fifteen years of mandatory service if they lived in Hierarchy space, and most who lived out in the colonies generally had militia training on their home planets; with the dangers that were out there in the galaxy, it made sense that they would be prepared. It was just how Turians were built; knowing how to use a gun and fight was in their blood. This left a solid line of fighters behind her people if they fell. The Asari weren’t such heavy hitters, but they were able to deal with the blockades, most being capable biotics. The Batarians would have a hard time getting what they came for. 

What surprised the young Lieutenant-Commander as she ran past the secondary blockade was the mountain-sized Krogan that leapt over the fortifications and matched pace with her.

“I hear…” he lumbered, breaths ragged from the sprint. “You’re the one to talk to if I want a good fight...” the Krogan’s gruff voice finished as he fell into step with her.

Izzy gave him a once over as she slowed her pace by a half measure, making it easier for the enormous male to keep up with her. He was massive, even for a Krogan, with nasty scarring on the left side of his face. His red eyes matched his armor. If she didn’t know better she would think he was Blood Pack, but he didn’t have any of the gang’s symbols marking allegiance to them. Also, if he was Blood Pack? He sure as hell wouldn’t be volunteering to help.

“Yeah, that’s me. I always seem to find them,” Izzy replied with a smirk. “Or maybe they find me?”

She knew that Krogan liked a good brawl and tended to view those who didn’t back down from one as strong and she wasn’t about to back down now. Unlike many in the galaxy, Izzy didn’t care what species someone was. If they were willing to fight alongside her? it didn’t matter if they were human or turian or hell… even krogan. She would give this male a shot if he wanted it. 

Not like I have the option to be picky right now… ’ she mused. 

The Krogan seemed to like her response as he chuckled, continuing to follow her. “We’ll see about that, Human.”

“Shepard. My name is Shepard,” Izzy corrected as they slowed to a stop just short of their destination.

As soon as they came around the corner Shepard could see what was wrong. Most of the civilians, and the few soldiers she’d assigned there, were either down or injured which now left her and her new Krogan friend to hold this position. The haphazard barricade was made up of whatever they seemed to have been able to get their hands on. Looking briefly at it she saw a few tables from a nearby cafe, a broken down sky car, and if she was seeing things right, an overturned wagon from the farmers market. There had been a turret as well but it’d been disabled some time during the fighting leaving the batarians open to try and pull the tables away from the sky car, clearing a path. 

“Shit! Red, I need you to push them back while I try and get some of these people back up and fighting. We can’t hold this barricade by ourselves if those assholes call for reinforcements.” Izzy ordered as she started unloading her shotgun at the closest Batarian.

The Krogan laughed and charged into the fray, his massive shotgun cutting down the pirates trying to dismantle the barricade, as she ran to the nearest soldier and applied some Medi-gel to his wounds. He wasn’t hurt too bad and once the Medi-gel kicked in he started fixing the nearby turret to help the Krogan push the enemy back.

Izzy raced to help a petite woman and two blonde men, who might’ve been brothers, get back on their feet as they continued to do what they could while down. While she was helping one of the men, Izzy noticed the woman shakely pick up her dropped assault rifle and start firing into the hoard. It warmed the N7’s heart to see the civilian clearly trying her best to help save her home, even if she wasn’t the best shot. Thankfully, the rifle she had was more of a point a spray kind of weapon than aim based.

Finishing with the last of the downed men, Izzy yelled, “you three,” calling attention of the civilians, “do what you can to shore up this barricade. Use whatever you can. We’ll cover you.” With that quick command, the Lieutenant-commander moved in the direction of the Krogan who was about to be overrun. As she ran, the woman could hear the tell tale sound of gears moving and knew that the turret would be back up and running any minute.

Jumping into battle beside the red clad warrior, Izzy threw off a shockwave, giving the Krogan some room to breathe. As they fought, the soldier was surprised to find how well she worked the male. The two seemed to move with each other in a battle like dance without effort or thought. She would throw a group to the side and he would charge and take them out or he would warp the shields off of one just as she lined up her shot to take it out. It was beautiful in a dark, sadistic sort of way.

Not long after, the soldier heard one of the Marines calling to her, letting her know that the barricade was ready to be reinforced once she was back behind the wall.

“Alright Red, you heard the man, fall back to the barricades!” She yelled, starting to make her way back.

“I don’t take orders from you, human!” The Krogan said and she was shocked to hear a hint of humor behind it.

After sending another shockwave into the oncoming hoard of Batarians she replied. “Today you do because if you don’t I’ll throw you back there myself,” she yelled and then sent him a wink. ‘ Wait! Am I flirting with him!? The fighting must be getting to me!’ She thought as she continued to fire. Her comment was met with a bark of laughter as he started to fall back with her.

“You’ve got quad, Shepard,” he said once they had fallen back into better cover. “Not many humans do. Name’s Wrex, Urdnot Wrex.”

“Well Wrex, what do you say we give these Batarians some hell?” She asked as she hit the Medi-gel dispenser in her suit. She had taken a few bullets when her shields were down but her armor stopped most of the damage to her torso. A graze wound on the side of her head was bleeding from when a Kamikaze Batarian had run at her, his armored fist nearly taking her head off. A close range round from her shotgun had ended his charge, and his life. The adrenaline was keeping the pain away for now but she took the small, and last, packet of medi-gel from her armor pocket and smeared the gel over the wound.

It wasn’t looking good. If they had to fight for too much longer, she was going to either have to drop back or get a runner to deliver more gel. If they even had any more. This fight had been going on for days now and they weren’t the only ones fighting. Hopefully the Alliance would show up soon. 

“I thought you would never ask.” He grinned at her, or she hoped that he did anyway as they turned back to the fight. 

The two fought side by side, medi-gel gone and heat sinks dwindling, until the sun started going down, keeping the pirates at bay until they saw them starting to retreat. Lieutenant-Commander Matthews came over the comm, “ Shepard, Admiral Hackett and the fifth fleet have arrived. They’re dropping troops! ” Izzy looked up to see Alliance drop ships landing at the edges of the city.  Fires in the sky showed evidence of fighters taking out the Batarian troop ships attempting to flee. Her shoulders dropped as the tension and adrenaline that had kept her going started to ebb. They’d held the line. It was over.  Izzy put her hand to her comm and checked with Williams. Ash let her know that her team had made it through, though Vega had taken a round to the arm and Kaiden was down with a migraine, but all they were okay.

It didn’t take long after the Alliance touched down for the fight to be over and Izzy was thankful.  She’d been running low on stims, was out of Medi-gel and grenades, and was happy to know that she wouldn’t have to wait much longer before she could give her exhausted muscles a break. As the reinforcements started to clean up the remainder of the pirates she was called back to the temporary HQ for debrief.

“Hey Wrex, I have to head to HQ, you coming?” she asked walking up to the Krogan with a stupid grin on her face.

“Why not, you have been entertaining so far,” he joked as he fell into step.

Izzy laughed. “Entertaining? And I thought you would be chivalrous and walk a lady to where she needs to go?” she said, feigning hurt.

“You? A lady!? Bah, I don’t see it Shepard.” Wrex replied as they walked through the colony.

Izzy just shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, you’re right. I may be more than a pretty face but a lady? Meh… too much work.”

Wrex barked out another laugh as they continued through the mass of people to Headquarters. Many people stopped and thanked her as they made their way through the crowds. She wasn’t sure why. Yes, she may have led the resistance and rallied the people but she just did what needed to be done. Still she was polite and told them it wasn’t just her and that everyone had their part to play.

“Shepard!” Izzy spun around to see her ground crew making their way towards her.

“I see everyone make it out in one piece. Good job, Chief.” Izzy said with a grin as she reached out to shake the other woman’s hand.

“Of course, Skipper. I wouldn’t let you down.” Ashley smiled in return.

“Are all human females as tough as you, Shepard? Because, if so, I think I might need to pay them closer attention.” Wrex jested beside her.

Turning to face the man, Izzy placed one hand on her hip and raised one slender eyebrow. “Oh Wrex, I’m one of a kind and trust me when I say I am too much woman for you to handle.” Putting flirtation in her voice and in return getting a rumbling laugh. She could hear the others from her ground team shifting behind her clearly uncomfortable but she couldn’t help it. When you fight beside someone things change, and she really didn’t care what people thought.

“I knew I liked you, Shepard.” He cracked giving her a hard pat on the back. If she hadn’t been paying attention she would have been pushed face first into the ground. As she regained her balance, Izzy gave him another grin before turning and starting off again.

“Shepard, you’ve outdone yourself.” The familiar voice of Captain Anderson called as she and her team entered the room.

“Sir.” She replied straightening into a salute.

“At ease, I see you brought your ground crew and a plus one.” Anderson said giving Wrex a quick look.

“Yes sir. Captain Anderson, this is Urdnot Wrex. With his help, I was able to secure sector 14 when it started to fall.” The Lieutenant-Commander informed him. Anderson acknowledged that as if there was nothing strange about it and gave Wrex a warm welcome. The Krogan, apparently, wasn’t expecting that but he hid it well. Anderson was like Izzy, species be damned, you were either a good person, or you weren’t, and Izzy tended to have a good grasp on who she considered good people. Wrex was good people.

Nodding his head in acceptance, Wrex moved off to the side of the makeshift HQ while Anderson handed her team water and rations to hold them over for the time being. The whole place was a buzz with life as the reinforcements did their job to round up the remaining invaders. As they worked, Izzy’s team plus Wrex dozed in an out of the way corner so as not to be in the way.

Several hours later, Admiral Hackett arrived for the formal debrief of what exactly had gone down. Everyone save Izzy, Lieutenant-Commander Matthews, Mr. Davies and a few of the other Lieutenants who had helped with the clean-up were asked to leave.

The debrief took longer than Izzy would have liked. Now that she was out of battle it was clear that her shoulder needed to be looked at and she wanted a shower, food, and sleep, not necessarily in that order. Hackett and Anderson asked what felt like hundreds of questions and it wasn’t until Izzy grimaced at the stabbing pain and grabbed her shoulder that they realized that she was injured.

“Shepard! Why didn’t you say you needed medical attention?” Anderson scolded her as he walked over to take a look. Ever since she had joined the Alliance, Anderson had become a father figure to her and with him being one of the only people privy to her life before the Alliance, he was generally overprotective.

“It’s not as bad as it could be, sir. I was planning on hitting the Med-tent after the debrief,” she told them as she tried to keep herself from showing more pain.

Both men shook their heads and Hackett ordered her to go get taken care of. As she left the defence building she could see Wrex waiting along with her team. He seemed to be having a good conversation with James, Ashley, and Jacob while Kasumi and Jack talked amongst themselves. Looking around she didn’t spot Kaidan anywhere but knowing his problems with migraines, he was more than likely in the Med-tent. As she made her way towards the Med-tent herself, James took notice of her.

“Hey, Shepard. Want to come grab a couple of beers once you’re done?” He yelled across the distance.

She shook her head and replied, “No, but some food would be nice.” ‘ Nice is an understatement.’ She hadn’t had anything substantial to eat since before the fighting broke out. Of course she had some ration bars but after three days of combat she was pretty sure her stomach was digesting itself.

“I second that!” Jack said giving her a big grin but as she studied Izzy she started to look concerned. “You okay, Shep?”

Izzy smiled at the worry in her friend's voice. She remembered when she first met Jack and how different she had been. Being sixteen and in an orphanage after what she had gone through would have been hard but Izzy could relate. Not in the same way but her past was just as fucked up and terrible in its own way. The fact that they had become friends was a small miracle. “Yeah, just a few new scars, nothing too bad.”

The tattooed biotic studied her for a moment longer before nodding. Jack was Izzy’s best friend and could read her better than most, so she knew that Izzy was hurt a bit more than she was letting on, but wouldn’t say anything in front of the others.

It took about an hour and a half before Izzy was cleared to leave the Med-tent and told to take it easy for the next few days. Apparently, her injuries were worse than she’d thought. She had not only been shot in the shoulder but she had a few cracked ribs and the cut on the side of the head was deeper than she’d thought. Medi-gel had sealed the wound but the medics still had to stitch it up. 

As she redressed into the awaiting fatigues, and not the borrowed armor, the woman had a chance to get a good look at herself in the mirror. Her red hair that had started in a messy bun at the beginning of the fight was now out of control, her sea green eyes were vibrant in colour and her pale skin looked almost tan with how much crap covered her face. Her 5 foot 7 frame was in peak physical condition but she still had a slight hourglass shape that she was told, looked good in anything.

Izzy used to hate looking at herself in the mirror with just her undergarments on. The scars that riddled her body were always the underlying reason. Not the scars from battle but the ones she’d received before, the scars from him . Her eyes lingered on one of the scars and her mind started to wander back to a time when that bastard of a man violated her- ‘ No! Iz, stop thinking about it.’ She internally yelled at herself as she stared back at her the scars that were now covered with beautiful pieces of art. She needed to get moving, she couldn’t dwell on the past, so she forced herself to start to dress.

It took her no time at all to finish getting dressed and leave the med-tent, only after a brief stop to check on her downed team member. She didn’t want to think back on her past anymore and the fastest way to stop thinking about it would be to find her friends and drown herself in food and booze; but with everything that went down recently she was more than likely to stop at food.

Her team was still waiting for her and as they moved out, Jack looped her arm with hers and whispered so only she could hear. “Iz, are you sure you’re alright?”

Turning her head slightly, Izzy gave her friend a quick smile and a squeeze on her arm before replying, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just old memories that’s all.” Giving her a knowing look, she nodded. Jack was the only person that knew the full story of her past, just like she was the only one to know Jack’s. They understood what needed to be said and when. Jack just squeezed her arm in return and the two continued to follow the group to finally get some food and rest.