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Enemies of Love

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Izzy woke to the lights of the medical bay and knew that she had gotten her ass kicked by the Turian Spectre which was sad and embarrassing. She was a good hand-to-hand specialist but she knew that she wasn’t the best at sparing, sparing wasn’t real so she never used the moves that would help her win. Izzy was a ‘dirty’ fighter so when it came to sparring she was merely okay but against Arterius, she was pitiful.

Slowly she started to sit up and let out a low groan as she grabbed the side of her head. She could feel the headache behind her eyes but it was her nose that hurt most. She was reaching towards it when the Doctor appeared beside her.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. I just finished resetting it.” The Doctor said as he shone a light in her eyes.

Izzy knew the procedure so she let the Doctor do his thing but she was mad that the bastard Spectre had broken her nose. “How bad is it, Doc?” She asked as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed when he finished.

“Not too bad, broken nose and a few small sprains in your hands that should be healed within the next few hours. You have no signs of a concussion and your other bruising will heal on its own.” The Doctor reported.

After doing a mental rundown, Izzy hopped of the bed and looked at her Omni-tool. She had a message from Arterius to meet him in the comm room in four and a half hours for debrief before their mission. Izzy decided that now was as good of time as any to try and get some sleep so she thanked the Doc and headed up to the observation Deck after grabbing a couple of protein bars. She inhaled the bars without tasting them, thankfully, then moved to lay down and the moment that her head hit the cot she was out.

It had only felt like a minute but three and a half hours later Izzy woke to the sound of her alarm. She groaned as she sat up and glared at the offending alarm. She had set it to give her enough time to hopefully shower, brush her teeth, eat breakfast and have a large cup of coffee or three. She was happy to see that her massive coffee mug and her big canister of coffee had been packed into her foot locker as part of her ‘essentials’; it would have been a sad, long mission if there was no coffee and everyone would have to deal with Shepard in a bad mood, not just Arterius.

She quickly grabbed a change of clothes and left for the crew deck to have a much-deserved shower. She was a bit shocked to find that it was a communal bathroom until she remembered that she was the only female on board so really, it shouldn’t have been that big of a shock. She showered quickly, not wanting anyone to walk in on her, and dressed just as quickly throwing her other clothes down the laundry shoot. Izzy loved how quick her showers could be when she didn’t have to wash her hair, it was always a pain in the ass to wash and took forever to dry.

Once she was ready she decided that she would just leave her toiletry bag in the bathroom under the sink so she didn’t have to return to her sleeping area every time she wanted to brush her teeth. When she opened the cupboard she burst out laughing, there had to be at least four different brands of tampons of varying flows and just as many pads. Clearly, they had done some research but there were so many that she probably would need more for over a year. She couldn’t even find the room to be embarrassed, no, she was mostly just amused.

After she had composed herself and had everything sorted in the bathroom she went to the kitchen to make some much-needed coffee. As the water brewed she grabbed a couple of eggs and what looked like bacon from the cooling unit and started to make her breakfast. Izzy was a decent cook when she wanted to be but today she was in a hurry so she just had something simple and there wasn’t much simpler than scrambled eggs and bacon, in less you counted toast or cereal which Izzy didn’t.

With her food was cooked and coffee ready, Izzy made her way to the table that sat in the middle of the crew deck. She was about half way done her meal when the Doctor and Nazados entered the room and made their way over to sit with her. Nazados quickly grabbed both Turians steaming mugs of what they called kava, Turian equivalent to coffee, and sat down beside her.

“Good morning, Shepard.” The Doctor said in what Izzy thought was an all too happy tone. She just grunted in return. It was still too early to have conversations and she hadn’t even finished half of her coffee yet. No civil being talked before they were done their first cup of coffee, only heathens did.

“I see you are a morning person.” The Doctor laughed as he took a sip of his kava.

Great he is a morning person, Izzy thought as she swallowed some of her food. “You learn. No talking until coffee is done.” Izzy said with a massive yawn before shoveling more food in her mouth.

Both Turians looked at the mug and then at each other. “That is one big cup of coffee.” Nazados said amazed that they even made cups like that. “Are you sure that’s a cup and not a small bowl?” He asked slightly amused.

A smile spread across the tiny Humans face. “You’re not the first to ask that and yes, it is a cup, not a bowl. However, if it was socially acceptable I would use a bowl.” She said as she took a big gulp of her black drink. “I will thankfully have time to make another before I have to meet with Arterius.” She said and then had a thought. “Does he drink that?” She asked as she pointed to the drinks in front of the other two Turians after taking another big gulp of her own delicious drink.

The Doc gave her a measured look before answering. “Yes, why?”

Izzy smiled a bit bigger as she swallowed the last of the bacon like meat. “How does he take it and how do I make it?” She asked as she washed down the last of her food with another big gulp of coffee. She was almost done her coffee now and she had about 15 minutes before she had to be in the comm room. She saw the concerned looks on the two males’ faces and decided she should clear up the confusion. “If kava is anything like human coffee then we will both need him to have it before we try and have a conversation… if not it could end badly. Just some forewarning, if I run out of coffee or someone hides it on me… run.” She gave them both the most dead serious look she muster at this time of day which caused both Turians to laugh.

“Dually noted.” Nazados said as he smiled at her. “Here I’ll show you how to make it while you clean up your dishes.”

That seemed like a good deal so she nodded and walked back into the kitchen with him and as she loaded her dishes into the washer and he showed her how to make kava. It really wasn’t that different from making coffee really and Nazados informed her that Arterius didn’t add anything to his kava like her with her coffee. So, we are both black coffee kind of people, huh. She thought as she made herself another coffee after Arterius’s kava was ready.

Once both drinks were made, Izzy headed up to the comm room and was thankful that she had worked in a dinner when she was 17 for the summer because it made carrying both drinks and using the elevator relatively easy. When she stepped off the elevator, she saw that most of the CIC crew was different from the crew that was there a few hours before and then she thought, of course it is. This is probably the night crew. She knew it must be since there were fewer bodies in the room but she could still see the XO was in place at the galaxy map.

Not wanting to cause anyone any trouble, Izzy made a beeline for the comm room and was happy to see that she had beaten the Spectre there. She did a quick survey of the room and saw that there was a small table in the room that looked to fit maybe four people, a couple of terminals and off in one corner was the communications hub that would connect them with the Council or whoever else came calling.

Izzy walked over to the table and set down both mugs, one on each side of the table, and sat down to wait for the Spectre. As she waited she opened her Omni-tool and looked over what little information that Nihlus had been willing to share about Arterius. It wasn’t much but it did shed some light on a few things. As she looked over the information she could feel eyes on her but she never showed discomfort nor any indication that she knew someone was there, she just kept up like she had no idea she was being watched.

Izzy had just opened the second file when Arterius walked in. Apparently, her being there already surprised him but he didn’t say anything. “Spectre,” she said bowing her head. “I wasn’t sure if you would have time to get to the kitchen so I thought I would bring you some kava.” She gestured to the mug sitting across from her. “I hope that it is too your liking.”

The Specter glared at her but moved forward and placed the data pad he was holding on the table and grabbed the mug. Izzy was silently happy that he was accepting it; she had expected some sort of backhanded comment but so far nothing. She had to admit that it was supposed to be a peace offering; she knew that if Arterius came to her with coffee she would be more inclined to be nicer to him then if he came without coffee so she thought she would give it a try.

Saren took a sniff of the kava and from what he could tell it was indeed just kava with nothing added. He didn’t trust the Human but he knew she was at least smart enough not to try and poison him so he took a sip. It was… acceptable. If this were to become habit he would need to show her how to properly make a cup but for a first-time effort it was… adequate.

Izzy sat trying not to watch the Spectre as he drank the kava. She was concerned slightly that Nazados had lied to her but apparently it wasn’t warranted since he bowed his head slightly in thanks before picking the data pad back up.

“We will be arriving on Thrivaldi in two hours. Our mission is simple; there is a refuelling station on planet that has been attacked multiple times by the same Pirate group. We are to find this group and terminate them.” Arterius said as he shoved the data pad at her.

Izzy took it and read over the information. There wasn’t much to go on but they did have a description of the ship and crew, they seemed to be made up of mostly Humans and some Asari. The irony wasn’t lost on her and she knew that Arterius was testing her but this wouldn’t be hard for her. She knew that even Humans were had assholes who took to crime. Hell one of her misfits was a criminal, not one like this but a criminal none the less and if she hadn’t found Jack at the orphanage it would have been likely that she would have been one too.

“Are we to arrest or kill?” She asked after reading the pitiful amount of information. The only reason she was even asking the question was because of how he had emphasized the word, terminate, and wanted to be clear. She knew that most missions came with a, bring back alive if possible , mandate but Arterius wasn’t known for his mercy.

Arterius studied her for a moment before answering. “Terminate.”

Izzy wasn’t sure what to make of his answer but she nodded her head before continuing. “Is there any more information or would you like me to dig up what I can?” She asked.

Again, Arterius studied her and waved his arm over to one of the terminals. “See what you can find.” Was all he said and Izzy hopped to it.

About an hour later, Izzy was swimming in information, some relevant, some not but she had more information then what that small data pad had held. She was able to trace the ship ID and found it registered to a Human by the name of Carden Stapp, a low life criminal who fled Earth shortly after the first contact war ended. He was wanted by several Earth agencies and the Alliance for his crimes along with C-Sec and the Council. Izzy read up on his past and it told a story of a disgusting man who would sell his own mother if it meant he would get a profit.

Izzy had also found that there was a pattern to the attacks on the station and if they were arriving in a few hours then they would be on the station for the next attack that would fall within the next week if they kept to their pattern. They attacked on every Earth Friday the thirteenth which was a ridiculous schedule but it had worked so far and the port officials had yet to be able to put it the pieces together since they would either use galactic standard or the planet's own calendar. She had also determined that Stapp was working on his own so once he was stopped it was unlikely another would take his place.

As she was organizing the information, Arterius came back into the room. “Human, what have you found.” He demanded.

Normally she would let the Human remark go but with his tone she decided it was time she said something. “Spectre, since we are going to be working together for a while and we are… well… married” she paused uncomfortably before continuing, “Would it kill you to call me by my name. Hell, call me Izzy, Shepard or Commander, I don’t care but Human? I mean, I get that you don’t like me but at least show me some respect by using my name.” Izzy said not unkindly. She was more sad than angry, she was surrounded by people she didn’t know far away from the people she cared about with a husband that couldn’t stand her. It hurt in a way that she wasn’t expecting but she didn’t want that to show. Soldiers didn’t show emotions like that.

The Spectre stood in the doorway for a moment with his head tilted slightly to one side seeming to consider her words before taking a deep breath. “I suppose that can be agreeable… Commander.” he huffed.

Another small victory , Izzy thought as she sat a little straighter as she told him what she had found out about Stapp and his operations. She could tell that he already knew most of the information and she had to guess that it came from the Turian that was hiding under the tactical cloak in the corner. She had noticed him before Saren had left an hour ago but she decided that she would have some fun when she revealed him.

As she finished her sit. rep. she turned to the ‘empty’ space and asked. “Did I forget anything? Or did you see anything that I might have read too much into?”

Arterius was staring at her but remained as silent as the ‘empty’ air. “I have known you were there since I brought in the kava earlier. When you work with one of the best thieves humanity has to offer you learn a thing or two about knowing when someone is using a cloak around you.” Izzy said again not taking her eyes off the cloaked male.

Arterius finally nodded and the male decloaked clearly a bit miffed that he had been found out. “Well I’m a bit disappointed that you knew I was here but I am impressed with how much you found in so little time. The only thing I could add is that he has a mate and fledgling on Omega but they are not on speaking terms.” The male, who she believed was called Gornius, said.

Izzy gave him a smile at the complement. Information gathering wasn’t her interest but she was good at it. Arterius looked at Gornius and then back at Izzy. “The information will suffice.” He said as if he was very unimpressed. “Get geared up. We hit ground in a couple hours.”

Before he could turn and leave she had to hit him with the last piece of information that even Gornius didn’t know. “They will hit the base in three days, not tonight.” Izzy said as she started to stand.

This stopped Arterius in his tracks. “You know this for certain?” He asked skeptically as he turned back around to face her. It seemed he didn’t think it was possible that she knew this piece of information, as if she couldn’t possibly have found information that Gornius didn’t find. She knew better then to roll her eyes but she did drop into her thug pose as she nodded. “How?” He asked and Izzy heard the dangerous edge to his voice letting her know that if she was wrong he would not be pleased.

“I took a look at the all the dates that he hit the facility and I found that they always corresponded with one date that is popular with Humans. He is going to hit in three days which Friday the 13 th on Earth. It is a strange schedule for him to follow but all of his strikes seem to follow along that path. He has yet to miss one since he started attacking this facility.” She stated not backing down from the Spectre’s stare.

Saren was hated to admit it but that was an impressive piece of information that not many would have discovered. It had seemed that the attacks were random but now with this insight they actually had the upper hand. “And how did you come across this piece or information, or do you make it a habit of knowing Earth’s cycle off the top of your head?”

The Human’s face flushed red with colour as she replied. “Well… actually I have a reminder on my Omni-tool to inform me every Friday the 13 th . I have a tradition of watching horror movies on that night since it is a superstitious day and it’s fun to lose oneself in the hype but never mind, it’s not important.” She finished clearly embarrassed since she wouldn’t look either males in the eye.

Saren wasn’t sure what the significance was with the date but he was pleased that they had a confirmed day for the attack and that they weren’t too late. “Since we won’t be docked for approximately another hour I want you and Gornius to look up schematics of the facility and locate all possible exist and come up with a plan on how to deal with the situation. I will review it with you when I return.” He said and promptly left.

After leaving the communications room Saren made his way down to the Med-bay where he found Receculus busy making up some specialized Medi-gel for the Human. It was unfortunate that the Doctor had to waste his time doing such a thing when the woman should have already had one made before arriving but it was a necessary part of being a Spectre. Individualized Medi-gel tended to heal a person faster and more effectively then the generalized gel that was readily available on the market.

“Doctor, may I have a moment of your time?” Saren asked as he approached the other male.

Receculus turned to face the Spectre setting down his instruments, giving his full attention to the other Turian. “How can I help you, Spectre?” He asked, curious as to what brought the male to see him. Even when injured it was almost impossible to get the Spectre into the Medical bay let alone voluntarily.

Since Saren and the Human would be going on mission so soon he needed the Doctor to give him a quick overview of the Human’s health. There was no point going into a mission without knowing his subordinates physical and mental limits. “I need a run down on the Hum- Ah… Commander’s health; physical and mental.” Saren said as he heard the Doctor give a curious trill at Saren’s change in using the Human’s rank. Remaining quiet about it, however, the Doctor nodded as he put down the tools he was using and picked up a nearby data pad.

The Doctor knew that this conversation was coming; it happened every time a new member came aboard so he was prepared with the notes. “Shepard is in excellent physical and mental health from what I have been given and witness thus far. Physically she is a prime example of what a human female of her age should be with the exception of being unable to bare children and surface scarring.” Receculus said pausing to give the Spectre a moment to ask any questions that he may have.

Saren tilled his head a trilled with curiosity, “Unable to bare children? Elaborate.” He replied wondering what would cause such a problem in a young female.

The Doctor was quick to explain. “Well we don’t have the full story since there are some missing years in her charts but from what I have been able to tell it seems that Shepard possesses a hormone that shields her eggs from fertilization. It is strange and I have never seen anything like it before. According to her medical records this anomaly appears after she was found at the age of 16. My best bet would be that she was more than likely experimented on in some way and some of her scaring matches that theory.”

The Doctor again paused allowing the information to sink in; Receculus had only known the woman a short time but when he had read her medical history he got very worked up over it on her behalf. If his theory was right than he understood why she told people she didn’t remember anything from her missing years. Being a Doctor and a Turian of science himself, Receculus couldn’t imagine using children in any sort of experiment. It was enough to make him sick.

Shepard’s past was traumatic enough before this development in Receculus’s mind. Her parents killed, missing for years and once found to be placed in an orphanage, it was a cruel existence but to add experimentation on top of all of that. The Doctor really wanted to know how the woman stayed sane let alone so warm and open with others. She was definitely a remarkable woman.

It took several minutes for Saren to process what all he had just heard. He was so shocked that he forgot his hatred for the Human for a moment and actually felt bad for the Commander. In Turian society, harming or experimentation on children was punishable by death. And for the experimentation to cause her to be sterile was unthinkable. He felt a strange rage towards the unknown being that inflicted this pain on the Human that was now legally his wife and for the first time in the past week he wasn’t angry at the Council or the Hierarchy but at some faceless Human.

“I see… how does this affect the Commander while in the field?” He asked after recovering from his initial shock.

The Doctor cocked his head to the side before replying. “It really shouldn’t change anything. It all happened before she joined the military and you have read the reports. She is fully committed to her role of keeping people safe. I have noticed from her evaluations, however, that whenever children are involved she tends to take the mission more personally. As for the rest of her physic evaluation she seems perfectly fit for duty; she is loyal to who she trusts, deadly only when she needs to be and will only sacrifice a life if there is no other option.”

The Doctor kept looking at Saren with a curious gaze but didn’t voice whatever it was he was seeing and Saren was grateful. He really didn’t need the Doctor in his head right now. “Thank you Receculus, I believe I have everything that I need.” With that Saren nodded and left heading to the lift to take him to his room. He had a lot to think over with this new insight into the Human’s life.