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Enemies of Love

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The next few days flew by in a flurry of movement. There were constant meetings with Alliance brass that were mandatory for Izzy to attend, leaving only her evenings free to spend with her team and Wrex, who seemed to have found a home with them. The redhead liked the Krogan a lot, he was witty, had the most amazing stories, and was fun to talk to. The rest of the group easily got along with old Battlemaster except for Kaidan, who seemed to be polite but shied away from him. It wasn’t until their last night of leave that Wrex pulled her aside and told her why.

“He wants you. I can smell it on him,” His gruff deep voice told her as he sent her an evil wicked grin. “He’s jealous of how we interact.”

Scoffing loudly, the Lieutenant-Commander rolled her eyes at the idea. ‘ Kaidan has no right to be jealous. I have told him a million times that I’m not interested.’ She thought but what came out of her mouth was something a bit more professional. She didn’t want to give the Battlemaster anymore ammunition to use against the biotic, and if he found out that Izzy had already tried to turn the man down… well, let’s just say it wouldn’t end well for Kaidan.

“You can’t possibly know that. He is probably just intimidated by your skills… and what do you mean by smell?” She asked slightly disturbed by the thought of the Krogan being able to smell feelings.

Wrex let out a low rumbling chuckle before answering her. “Humans and your lack of smell; Krogans are able to pick up on scents better than any other species, well except the elcor, and that Alenko puts out a strong odor when you’re around. Not only that, he follows you with his eyes as if he needs to know where you are at all times. I have no problem with the pyjak being jealous but you might want to watch yourself.”

That was an alarming piece of information. If Wrex was right then Izzy would have to deal with the problem sooner rather than later. Showing that she understood, she gave the Krogan a hard pat on the arm. “Thanks, Wrex. I’ll have to talk to him about it I guess. I knew he liked me but I didn’t know it was that serious.” She didn’t like the idea of having to talk to the biotic but if it was as bad as Wrex was saying she would have to nip it in the bud. Giving her another chuckle, the two made their way back over to others as if nothing had happened.

The next morning came quicker than the young soldier would have liked. She didn’t want to leave her new friend but the red clad monster had his own work to get back to and Izzy was expected to be in some ceremony commemorating her and her team. The red headed Lieutenant was pissed as she believed that Wrex should be a part of the ceremony as well.  Without him she knew she wouldn’t have been able to hold for as long as she had; but it was an Alliance ceremony and the Krogan had told her not to worry about it. He didn’t want the recognition and, if Izzy was being honest, neither did she, but she didn’t complain. Soldiers didn’t complain.

The ceremony was long, warm, and Izzy was pretty sure it was more than just Alliance there. For one thing, Ambassador Udina was there which surprised her. She had never met the man before but she found it odd that he would come to a colony in the ass end of nowhere for some Alliance show; he was a politician who dealt with things on the Citadel and had more to do with interspecies relations not military affairs. Then again, who was she to judge.

As the politicians talked, Izzy tuned them out but when Admiral Hackett got up she forced herself to tune back in; she might not respect politicians but she did respect Hackett. The Admiral had seen his fair share of hell and there was no way she would disrespect the man by blatantly ignoring him. It also helped knowing that Hackett wouldn’t bullshit the situation like the others who had spoken thus far. The old soldier understood what needed to be done as a fellow warrior, not a political photo opportunity. Hackett wouldn’t turn the situation into a circus because he understood the duty of a soldier. For him, it was his life, not political posturing. 

“We are here today to recognize the heroes of the attack on Elysium that happened only a few short days ago. The men and women of all species that helped defend this colony as well as the off-duty soldiers who stepped up to help hold the pirates at bay.” ‘ Good, he recognized that it was more than just humans who did what needed to be done,’ Izzy thought, happy that someone recognized that detail.

“We lost hundreds of good men and women whose sacrifices will not be forgotten. When I received word that Elysium was under attack, I was concerned as to what I might find once we made it here but my cause for concern was for not. After talking with many of the Alliance personnel and civilians that were present during the attack one thing was made abundantly clear. One soldier stood up in the face of the attack and rallied, not only the humans of this colony, but every species here. If you were to ask this soldier her opinion, she would say she was just doing her job, what anyone else would have done in the wake of such an attack. But she is wrong; she went above and beyond the call of duty. She showed the galaxy what it means to be a true Alliance soldier and it is my honor to present The Star of Terra to Commander Isabelle Shepard.”

Stunned, that was what Izzy felt when she heard what the Admiral had said. ‘ The Star of Terra? I don’t deserve tha – Wait!? Commander!?’ Izzy couldn’t believe her ears or her eyes. She was in complete shock as she made her way up to the podium to receive her medal. Making sure that her soldier mask covered her shock wasn’t easy but she somehow managed; if she were to show what was going on inside her head her jaw would be on the floor. It was an honor to receive such a prestigious medal but Izzy didn’t think she deserved the credit she was getting. It wasn’t just her who stopped the attack and she hoped beyond hope that her team and the other Alliance personnel got what they deserved as well.

The rest of the ceremony was a blur, she couldn’t see her team who were now sitting too far off from the center of the platform while Anderson stood off to Hackett’s other side. The one person she could see was Wrex who stood at the very back of the audience. He looked amused about the whole situation and when Izzy caught his eye it looked like he was trying not to burst out laughing, causing her to think she wasn’t hiding her shock and discomfort well. His broad, toothy grin wasn’t helping her composure either.

Once the ceremony was over, the newly appointed Commander was shuffled off to talk to the press by Udina. She thought trying to hide her shock earlier was hard but now she had to hide her irritation and disgust as well; and the only way she could do that was by slowly clenching and unclenching her hands, which were conveniently hidden behind her back.

There were close to fifty reporters in the crowd and what felt like hundreds of questions being shouted in her direction. “Commander! What does it feel like to be a galactic hero?” “Commander! Word is, you alone are the reason for the Colony to have been prepared for the attack, what do you have to say?” “Commander, some say that you are just the pretty face that the Alliance wants to use to up recruiting! How does that make you feel?” They yelled and Izzy tried to answer as best she could; she knew that there could be some major backlash if she didn’t word things right and that would be unacceptable.

One reporter, she wasn’t sure the name, must have worked for one of the more… questionable networks because she kept pressing the redhead on questions that were utterly stupid and had nothing to do with the attack, ceremony, or the Alliance in general.

“Commander Shepard, you have been seen with the Krogan, Urdnot Wrex, multiple times since the attack. Some are wondering if you are more than just battlefield friends. What do you have to say about that?” The woman asked.

Forcing herself to keep a straight face as she looked at the woman in front of her, it took a moment for the soldier to realize that the woman was being absolutely serious. ‘ Really, after something like this you want to know about my sex life?’ She thought as she tried to think of a way to answer without smacking the reporter or face-palming on intergalactic news.

Clenching her fists, the Commander took a deep breath before replying, “Urdnot Wrex was an invaluable asset in the defence of this colony and after fighting beside him I am honored to call him a friend. He is a strong, smart, and dependable Krogan that I would have no problem fighting beside again. Now in relation to our personal relationship you would have to be a soldier to understand. When you fight, bleed, and depend on someone in battle, species be damned, they become a brother in arms.” Izzy told the reporter who seemed like she wanted to try and pounce as she took a step closer, trying to get into the Commander’s space. 

“Commander Shepard. Come join us,” Admiral Hackett ordered from farther down the way. 

Izzy gave the slender, tanned woman a nod before she moved to join the Admiral’s party, thankful for the interruption. She’d wanted to punch the reporter for her insinuation but managed to hold off, but only just. As she made her way over to the Admiral she focused on calming herself, releasing her clenched fists and relaxing the tension that had built between her shoulders.

“Commander, you and Captain Anderson will be joining Ambassador Udina and myself on the Citadel. There are some matters that must be discussed with the Alliance and the Council. Hopefully this matter can be resolved quickly. Rear Admirals Kahoku and Mikhailovich will also be joining us once we reach the Citadel.” The silver-haired Admiral informed her.

Surprised and slightly disappointed by the news, Izzy had to hide her feelings about the situation since they were still in view of the cameras; she wanted to stay with her team but if that was what the brass wanted then she would follow through. However, as she watched the older man she could tell that there was something that he wasn’t saying. After having worked under the Admiral before Izzy knew his tells. There was a slight twitch in his left eye whenever he withheld information and if he lied he tended to look at a person’s nose instead of meeting their eyes so when she noticed the slight twitch she knew something was up.

Being the good soldier that she was, she wouldn’t push for information but she would try and alleviate some of the older man’s worry. The Commander knew that asking the right, simple question would let him know that she knew something was up.

“Of course, Sir. Is there anything I should know before we leave?” she asked calmly.

Hackett gave her a look that she couldn’t quite read but all he said in response was, “No, Commander; that is all you need to know for now. You are free to choose three members of your team to come with you. The others will have shore leave while we are on the station.” He paused, taking a quick look around the area and upon seeing that no one was paying any attention to them, he continued. “Choose wisely, you will need them for something other than fire power,” he whispered, holding her stare.

Izzy was happy to hear that her team was coming with her but could clearly hear his warning; she would need moral support for this… mission? “Of course, Sir. I will inform Williams, Goto, and Naught to be ready,” she replied. If moral support was what she would need then she wanted her group of ladies to be with her.

With a nod, Hackett dismissed her to go find her team. They were all standing by the docks, away from the fanfare of press, and she was happy to see Wrex was with them as well.

“Well pyjaks, I have to head out. Have a job out in the Terminus Systems so I’ll see you around,” he said nodding at everyone before his eyes landed on Izzy. “And Shepard, if you find you need some extra muscles you know who to call,” he said clapping her on the shoulder.

Chuckling, Izzy replied, “I wouldn’t want you to miss the party.” She winked as she punched him on the shoulder in return. The old mercenary laughed and nodded one final farewell before walking away. She would miss the big oaf, he had quickly and easily weaseled his way into her heart and she was sad to see him go.

“I’m going to miss that asshole. He had some great stories,” Jack said as she came to stand beside her.

“Yeah, he’s a good time.” The Commander sighed in reply before she turned back around to face the others. “Alright we have new orders.” She told her team, happy to see that she was not the only one who had been promoted.

Looking over her team’s new uniforms she was happy to see everyone had gotten what they deserved. Jack and Jacob now wore the proud markings of corporal, Kaidan had been bumped to first lieutenant, James had gotten his raise to officer as a second lieutenant and Ash had been moved to operations chief leaving the unofficial/official Alliance soldier, Kasumi to be raised to private first class. The new Commander was so proud of what her team had accomplished and knew that they all deserve the promotion that they’d received. Especially Ashley after everything she had done to hold the main gate after she had left.

“First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you all on your promotions. You all deserve the recognition for what you did here and I am glad to see the Alliance agrees with me.” She told them giving them all a warm smile. Receiving a bunch of “Yes, Ma’am’s” from the group in front of her while waiting patiently to hear what their orders were. “Now, we are headed to the Citadel with Admiral Hackett, Captain Anderson and Ambassador Udina. I am not sure what the mission will be once we get there but it will be a lipstick party so boys you will be getting some extra shore leave. I will expect you to be responsible with your actions while there and you should be ready to mobilize within a few hours if need be. However, from the tiny bit of information I received from Hackett it will be more of a diplomatic venture than combat. Still I want us ready for anything, clear?” she asked as she looked each and every one of them in the eyes.

“Aye, Aye, Commander.” They said in unison.

“James,” Izzy said as she turned to look at the new officer, “I’m sorry that your celebration got cut short but I speak for all of us, I am sure, when I say congratulations on your new rank.” She finished as murmurs of agreement fell from their fellow friends. “Make me proud, soldier.” Giving off a quick salute.

While the guys moved off to grab their gear, the three ladies stayed behind clearly wanting a bit more information on the mission. “So Shep, what’s with the slumber party?” the unofficial Alliance member asked as soon as the men were out of earshot.

Shifting her weight uncomfortably, Izzy thought about what she could say; she wasn’t sure what she could officially tell them but she wasn’t going to lie to them after what Hackett said. “Hackett told me that I will be meeting with the Council and several Alliance officials while on the Citadel. He said, and I quote, ‘Choose wisely, you will need them for something other than fire power.’ So, I’m thinking that I may need my good friends after these meetings,” she told them.

The newly appointed Commander could see the speculation in their eyes and could tell that they were nervous. The Admiral normally didn’t go out of his way to inform them of what kind of team would be needed for a mission unless it was going to be rough. In all honesty she couldn’t blame them, she was nervous as hell too, but she had to show strong confidence so that they didn’t lose track of what was important.

Seemingly coming to some sort of decision, it looked as if her best friend was just about to say something when Anderson walked over to the group and informed them they would be leaving shortly and needed to collect their things.

With haste, the group of women went and grabbed their gear from the barracks and regrouped back at the docks. It wasn’t long after they had boarded the SSV Kilimanjaro that the ship took off, setting a destination to the Citadel which was a quick eight-hour trip from Elysium. Deciding that now was probably going to be the best time to get some shut eye, Shepard informed the Captain and Williams where she would be should something came up.

When the ships VI came in over the comm to inform the crew that they would be at the Citadel in a half an hour, Izzy was pulled from her sleep. Admittedly, she was impressed that she got a full seven hours since she normally would have been too excited about seeing the massive space station to rest, but then again, she was still recovering from everything that had happened over the past several days.

Quickly grabbing her toiletry bag, Izzy headed to the women’s washroom to quickly brush her teeth, fix her hair and apply some make-up. Nothing too fancy, just a little bit of eyeliner, mascara and deep red lipstick. This was what she normally wore for make-up and she was told that she was a knockout when she did but the career soldier couldn’t see it. With her red hair, green eyes and freckles it seemed weird for her to see herself as beautiful but that could be because of him . He made her doubt herself a lot throughout her young life and even though she had been out of that situation for eight years she could still hear his voice every now and then in the back of her mind.

“Hey Skipper. Looking good, you ready to go?” The Chief asked as she entered the bathroom breaking her out of the dark thoughts of her past.

Sending the other woman a small smile, Izzy packed away her things. “Yeah, can’t wait to see what the fuss is all about,” she answered as they made their way back to their bags.

“I have to admit that I don’t have a good feeling about this ma’am. I don’t know what it is but… keep your guard up, yeah.” Ash replied barely above a whisper.

Looking at her second in command, Izzy couldn’t help but agree. She hadn’t felt good about the situation since she’d found out about it. There was something that Hackett wasn’t telling her and it was putting her on edge. She had thought about asking Anderson about it but she knew that he would tell her the same thing as Hackett, she really didn’t want to abuse her relationship with the man over something that might not even be that bad.

It wasn’t long after that the ship docked with the Citadel and for Shepard’s team to get clearance to head for their hotel to check in. It was 0830 Galactic Standard Time and Izzy was to meet with Hackett and the rest of the party at 1100 hours in the Council Chambers. Just the idea of seeing the Council Chambers alone was enough to get Izzy excited but to enter the chamber room… it sent a rush of excitement though the young Commander. Even though she had been on the Citadel several times, she had yet to go up to the tower and she couldn’t wait but the feeling of foreboding that she had felt since getting her orders were putting her on edge; however, she wanted to stay positive so instead of thinking about it she focused on finding their hotel.

The moment the doors opened and her team entered the hotel they would be staying in, Izzy knew that the Alliance wasn’t footing the bill because it was one of the nicest places she had ever seen. Sleek lines of stone and old woods could be found everywhere she looked, and that was just the lobby. Once she entered her room she was blown away. They were on the 20 th floor with a view overlooking the Presidium lakes, wide windows that led out to an amazing balcony that you could fit at least fifteen people on. The room itself was beautiful with a small kitchen, spacious living room, and one bedroom with an on suite bathroom that had not only a shower but hot tub as well.

‘It must cost a fortune to stay here.’ The Commander thought as she set her bag down. Having barely gotten a chance to look around, there was a ping at her door letting the woman know someone was there. Expecting it to be Jack or Kasumi she hurried over to let them in but instead of who she was expecting on the other side, there was an Asari matron with a bright smile and blue eyes that greeted her.

“Are you Commander Shepard?” The dark purple Asari asked in what Izzy thought was one of the smoothest voices she had ever heard.

“Umm… Yes.” She replied uncertainty as she cocked her head to the side not knowing if she should know this person or not.

“Excellent! My name is Niryx T’hafi. Ambassador Udina sent me.” She informed the very confused soldier as she swept into the room with another, younger looking Asari hot on her tail. The light blue Asari was only slowed down by the weight of what seemed to be about thirty different outfits in her arms. “Now, I was told we need you in something that was feminine yet still worthy for a soldier to wear. I don’t know what the man is thinking but I found a few outfits that should fit the situation.” She paused as she tapped a painted nail against her lips giving Izzy a once over. “We can eliminate a few just based on your hair colour and a couple more on your skin tone…” Niryx rattled off so quickly that Izzy barely had enough time to comprehend what was going on.

“Wow, wow, wow. Wait a second.” The human said cutting off the blue-eyed Asari as she started taking outfits out of the pile that, apparently, just wouldn’t do. “Why did the Ambassador send you? What’s wrong with my dress blues?” She asked totally and utterly confused.

Pausing in her search, the purple Asari smiled at her as she set the outfit she was holding down and walked over to stand in front of the very confused woman. “Well I’m not exactly sure of the occasion but I was told that you were to look the best you could while still looking like the soldier that you are. I can see that the Ambassador did not inform you of my presence but rest assured that you will be leaving here wearing something you are not only comfortable in but something that will make you feel beautiful.” The woman reassured her with so much confidence that Izzy had no choice but to just roll with it. 

The Commander wasn’t sure why Udina would care about what she was wearing but in the short time she had spent in the man’s presence she knew that he only did things that would benefit him. Not sure how her clothing choice would help him, just thinking about it made her skin crawl, but she knew there was nothing she could do about it right now anyway.

It took about an hour of trying on different outfits and Niryx having to send her assistant back to the store twice before they finally found an outfit that both Izzy was comfortable in and the Asari found appropriate. The outfit that was finally approved by both women was a pair of black high-waisted dress pants with a navy blouse, black leather jacket and gold high heels. After seeing herself in the mirror, Izzy had to admit she looked hot in this outfit.

After another twenty minutes of other woman’s fussing, her hair and makeup were done to make her look stunning. The makeup was perfect, only enough to highlight her natural skin tone, bringing out her freckles and eyes to accent her face. The only thing that the fashionista allowed the soldier to keep was her red lips. The colour was perfect, Niryx told her, and she didn’t want to take everything away from the human.

The look complete, Izzy was allowed to go check herself out in the full length mirror in the bathroom. Taking a moment to be selfish and actually feel beautiful was nice but was brought back into the moment when she heard a ping at her door. Checking the time she knew that it was going to be the girls ready to take her to the tower so she quickly grabbed a protein bar from the kitchen before opening the door.

“Damn, Bitch! Who you trying to fuck?” Came Jack’s surprised voice as she walked into the room with the other two women following close behind her.

“Well that is the reaction we were going for. Maybe not in those exact words but the meaning is the same.” Niryx replied as she made her way over to the group. The violet toned Asari looked like she was ready to head out, her assistant was once again bearing the load of the clothes that didn’t make the cut. 

“Now Commander, these clothes are yours.” She informed her, raising a hand to stop Izzy from interrupting. “Don’t worry, the bill has been covered. If you have any questions or want any more outfits please let me know.” Giving off a winning smile, she pulled Izzy into a quick hug. “You do look stunning.”

A blush raced across Izzy’s skin at the compliment and couldn’t help but smile. “Thank you, Niryx. I’m still not sure as to why I need all of this but you have been amazing.” The Asari in question gave her another smile as she said her goodbyes before sweeping out of the room.

Turning around to face her friends, the young Commander could tell they were all busy checking her out. “You know, not that I’m going to complain Shep, but why are you all dolled up?” Kasumi asked from under her hood.

“I have no idea. Udina sent Niryx to play dress up. Neither of us knows why,” she replied shifting under their glaze. “Anyway, we should get going. We only have twenty minutes to get to the tower and I would hate to be late.”

With that the ladies exited the room and headed for Citadel tower. It only took them ten minutes to get from their hotel to the base of the tower but as they took the elevator up, Izzy was sure that it would take a year to reach their destination. The trip gave her time to wonder what would happen once they reached the top and her foreboding came back full force. The speculative looks on her friends faces didn’t help either. 

When the doors to the elevator finally opened, it was sweet relief as the redhead practically ran out the doors. She wasn’t claustrophobic by any means but the elevators here would probably be the death of her. Thinking that the elevator would be faster since it was the one that manned the tower was a lie. It was just as painfully slow as all the other lifts on the station and it had to travel twice the distance.

In her bid for freedom from the elevator the Commander saw a group of four Turians standing not so far away giving her strange looks but she didn’t care. If they didn’t understand the pain of that elevator then they wouldn’t understand the joy of leaving it.

As she looked at the Turians, she realized she recognized one as the Turian Councillor. ‘ Well this is a good first impression Iz ,’ she thought to herself as she studied the other three. One was wearing black and red armor with matching clan markings of the Councillor, another was wearing black and blue C-Sec armor with light blue almost white clan markings that covered a large portion of his face and the last one was shorter than the others by a few inches and had no markings to be found with armor was that was a blue-silver.

“What is it with you and the elevators here?” Ashley asked drawing Izzy’s attention away from the Turians who had continued their conversation as if they hadn’t seen her.

Looking over at her second, Izzy scoffed. “We’re on the Citadel. You would think that they would have elevators that didn’t make you wish you had taken the stairs.” She could hear the others behind her chuckle but they all had to stifle their laughter as Hackett made his way towards their group.

“Sir.” They all said, straightening into a salute.

“Commander, good you’re here. At ease ladies.” The older Admiral said as he approached. 

“Chief, Corporal, Private, you are to stay here until the Commander is done with the Council. It shouldn’t take long since our meeting has been moved up. We were hoping to debrief you before the meeting, Commander but unfortunately that is no longer possible,” he continued looking irritated about missing the debrief so Izzy decided that she would put him at ease.

“It’s no problem, Admiral. I understand and will be on my best behaviour.” She informed him as she sent him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Holding her smile in place, she saw Hackett relax slightly at her comment but he kept avoiding looking her in the eyes which made her even more uneasy. For most people, they wouldn’t even notice that the Admiral was tense but Izzy had worked with the man enough times that she could see it in the way he was holding himself; shoulders a bit to pushed back, the crinkles around his eyes drawn in tight and his usual easy smile was a bit more forced.

Acknowledging her comment with a small nod, the two made their way towards one of the rooms that was attached to the main chamber. Taking a quick look around at her surroundings, Izzy wished that she had more time to try and see all the beauty of the Council Chambers. The flower beds alone looked amazing and that was only a small portion of the room but she had to remind herself that, even though she was in civilian clothes, she was on a mission.

The room they entered was a decent size but with the amount of people and the large rectangular table, it seemed almost small. Besides herself and Hackett, there was Rear Admirals Kahoku and Mikhailovich, Captain Anderson and Ambassador Udina like she expected but there were two others in the room she wasn’t expecting. Both the Asari and Salarian Councillors were there as well and it dawned on her that she should have expected them since the Admiral said that the meeting had been moved up. Keeping her pace as normal as possible, the Commander made her way around the room to stand by her Captain.

“What’s going on? Hackett wouldn’t tell me anything. I didn’t think I would actually be meeting the Council in person,” she whispered to him, leaning close so no one would over hear.

“I’m not sure, child. Hackett said that I am here for you not as a representative of the Alliance.” Anderson returned just as quietly. Giving him a sideways glance, Izzy could tell that he was just as unsure about the situation as she was.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” she replied as she did another scan of the room.

Before Anderson could say anything in return, a group of Turians walked into the room quickly silencing all talk. There were the four that she had seen earlier plus two more that were dressed similarly to the Councillor. She did a quick study and it seemed that the Turians in the black and red, and silver and blue armor looked just as out of the loop as she and Anderson. They were better at hiding it, of course since Turians had a way of always looking calm and collected, but their eyes betrayed them. Both seemed to be assessing the other people in the room and looking for escape routes like they were trained to always be on the alert. Their eyes darted between the Councilors, the Alliance admirals and the other Turians. 

When the Turians had entered the room, Izzy felt her Commanding Officer tense as he watched the Turians take their seats, causing her to be slightly confused. She had never known him to be xenophobic towards anyone; chancing a sideways glance, she saw that his eyes were locked on the silver-gray Turian at the back of the group, the short one. ‘ Well that’s strange,’ she thought as she turned her attention to the Council as they looked ready to start the meeting.

“Good, we are all here so we can start.” The Asari Councillor said as the Turian Councillor took his position on her right. “Now, I know that most of you know why we are here and a few do not but let us start with introductions.” She said in her soft sing songy voice. Having never met the Asari before Izzy couldn’t tell if that was the woman’s actual voice or if it was some fake show she was putting on to try and keep the peace but it put her on edge.

The introductions started with the Councillors, Sparatus, Tevos, and Valern, which everyone either new or could have easily could have guessed based on where they were. They then turned towards the human side of the room, going down the line of Alliance personal plus Udina. As Tevos went down the line, Izzy couldn’t help but notice that the barefaced Turian glared at Anderson with his icy blue eyes when his name was announced but said nothing. Slightly frustrated and confused at that reaction, Izzy had to bite her tongue before she leaned over and asked the man sitting beside her what that was about.

Forgetting that introductions were still going on the woman almost jumped when the Martrich called her name. Seeing all the collective eyes on her made Izzy a bit more nervous and the with the looks the Turians seemed to be leveling at her didn’t help. Scanning the faces of them quickly she couldn’t quite read what their faces were saying; was she seeing disgust, pity, approval? She couldn’t tell but the two at the end of the line, she had named Green-eyes and Asshole in her mind, were looking at her with calculated glares.

Seemingly unaffected by the whole situation, Tevos moved on to introducing the Turians. The ones that she hadn’t seen earlier were Primarch Maxus Fedorian and General Adrien Victus; beside him was C-Sec Executor Venari Pallin, Green-eyes was Spectre Nihlus Kryik and lastly asshole, Spectre Saren Arterius. A bit surprised at the addition of not just one but two Council Spectres, Izzy made sure to hide her reaction. She didn’t really understand why the two were there and from the way Executor Pallin was acting, he didn’t like the idea anymore then she did.

“Now that everyone is acquainted let us get down to business, shall we?” The blue Asari continued, clearly wanting to get out of there as fast as possible. “As we all know it has been fourteen years since the Relay 314 Incident and eight years since the end of the war, but relations between Turians and Humans are still tense. We, the Council, believe that it is time for this tension to be terminated more permanently.”

Nodding, Councillor Valern picked up from there. “It is within our interests to unite the two groups, to show the Turian and Human people that it is time to get along. After countless negotiations and amendments, the leaders of both parties have come to an agreement.” The male spoke as if he wished that this had happened sooner.

Not quite sure as to why she was there, Izzy sat back and listened, well tried to listen, to what was going on. She was happy to hear that Humans and Turians were trying to sort out their shit. Ever since she had left Earth, Izzy had wanted to travel to Palaven and not feel like she was walking on eggshells. She had been to Palaven once before, and from just the small amount she had seen, it was beautiful; however, since she had been there as part of her ICT training she didn’t get to see much of the planet outside of military bases and she’d never gotten to see Cipritine. All she ever heard was that the capital city was even more breathtaking than Paris and that's saying something.

“Now to the point of why Commander Shepard is here.” Councillor Tevos said snapping Izzy out of her daydreaming. “After careful consideration, we believe that Commander Shepard would be the perfect human candidate to enter into the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance division. Even though she is young, she has a proven track record of getting the job done with minimal casualties. We do see, however, that with her age and species, complications may arise. After talking it over as a Council and with the representatives of Humanity and the Turian Hierarchy we have found a solution to this problem. To show that both Humanity and the Hierarchy are willing to put aside their differences and work together, Commander Shepard will marry one of our best operatives, Agent Arterius.”

‘What!? Marry … Spectre… What!?’ Izzy was in shock. She couldn’t move, couldn’t blink, all she could think was, ‘ I’m way too young to get married.’ She could hear noise around her, arguing maybe or at least yelling but she couldn’t focus. ‘ Why me? Why not another human who was older so that age didn’t factor into the equation and species? Of course with her being a Human woman most wouldn’t respect her just because of that fact alone, but marry!’ Still trying to sort out her own thoughts, the young Commander felt someone placed a hand on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw Hackett beside her giving her a comforting squeeze before he let his hand drop.

‘Right Isabelle, focus on one thing at a time.’ She told herself as she took in the scene around her. Looking around told her all she needed to know. At some point everyone had moved to their feet with the exception of the Council, the Primarch, the Executor and Udina. Anderson was on her other side, fuming; she could tell that he had been yelling, but she wasn’t sure what he had said since she had tuned out most of the world for a minute and right now Arterius was the one talking. Listening closely, she almost couldn’t make out the words he was saying because his sub vocals were so loud.

“What!? Me, marry a human? Make her a Spectre! Out of the question! Humanity is not ready for the responsibility nor should bonding have anything to do with it.” He ranted. She could see the anger in his eyes and could feel the power radiating off of him. ‘ Great, I have to marry a turian and he doesn’t like humans. This will end well.’ She thought as she again tuned back into his speech. “… too young to even understand how to fight let alone be able to handle a Spectre’s duties.”

At that comment Anderson jumped back in. “Commander Shepard is a very capable soldier and doesn’t need to be babysat by some Turian that will be more than like to stab her in the back then treat her with the respect she deserves,” He spat at the short, deadly looking Spectre.

“Respect!” Arterius yelled back. “She has done nothing to earn respect! She is what you call the Hero of the Blitz but that only shows she can fight like a caged animal.” He snarled and Izzy felt the anger start to boil within her.

“I am not.” Izzy finally said and the whole room turned to look at her. Seeing that Arterius was going to cut her off so she raised herself to her full high and leveled her gaze at him. “I’m not the Hero of the Blitz. All I did was my job, serve and protect those who can’t, and that is what I did. I did nothing that no other Alliance soldier wouldn’t have done. I also don’t expect your respect, you don’t know me and that’s fine, but don’t you dare call me a caged animal. You don’t know what I have been through to get where I am so you have no right to say that to me.” She said with a soft, clear, deadly voice. When she had finished talking, Izzy noticed that most everyone in the room had slightly leaned away from her as she spoke as if afraid she would attack at any moment. ‘ Good, at least I haven’t lost my touch.’

Arterius held her stare and neither one broke eye contact until Kryik started to laugh and slapped his fellow Spectre on the back. “Looks like you found someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to you Saren. This should be entertaining to say the least,” he said as he tried, and failed, to hide his laughter.

“Nihlus that’s enough.” Councillor Sparatus snapped. “Saren there will be no more said on the matter. It is already settled.” Glaring at the Spectre who seemed to want to argue but knew better.

Taking the opportunity to get the meeting back underway Tevos drew the attention back to her. “Yes, now, are there any questions before we dismiss this portion of the meeting.” She asked almost as an afterthought.

“Why me?” Everyone turned to look at her again but Izzy really wanted to know. “I mean, was I already chosen before the attack on Elysium, or did you choose me because of the attack? It seems like a sleazy political move from where I stand.” Crossing her arms and leveling all three Councillors with an unamused glare. Since they had decided to forcibly make her marry and only put together this meeting to break the news she decided to say fuck it and be straightforward.

Giving her a once over with her eyes, Tevos answered her question even though she didn’t look happy about it. “Well Commander, to be honest, you were one of the names that we had on a list for this particular arrangement but after the attack on Elysium it was made clear that you were what we want to see out of our Spectre program. You rallied the citizens into helping in a situation that was deteriorating quickly, you didn’t discriminate when you left several Asari and Turians incharge of the second line of defence, and you were even able to tame a Krogan into fighting with you. These are all traits that we saw in action in just one battle.” The Councillor finished, her eyes penetrating the Commander with a look that Izzy was sure could actually burn her.

Thinking about what the Asari had said, the redhead had to admit she had a point but there was something else that was bothering her as well. “Okay, but isn’t it better if people don’t recognize a Spectre? I mean, my face has been plastered all over the news since the attack. And if I am to marry Spectre Arterius then his face will be publicized as well. I mean, people have heard of him but most don’t know what he looks like. Won’t that interfere with his duties?”

It was made abundantly clear from the glares being sent her way that the Council didn’t appreciate being questioned so Izzy decided that she would stop asking questions now. “Being recognizable is not the worst case scenario; in fact it will put a different twist to both yours and Arterius’s jobs. Being recognizable can also be of great advantage. It will give you something that others don’t have. A reputation that will follow you, maybe even stop someone from doing something for fear it will bring the Council Spectres to their door. Arterius already has this and adding your name will encourage Humans to fall in line with the law. That is something worth a little publicity, wouldn’t you say?” Tevos asked in what Izzy was now sure was a fakely sweet voice.

In theory, that sounded good but in practice, Izzy knew that that would not be the case. Instead of commenting, however, she kept her mouth shut, nodding in agreement. When no one else said anything Valern dismissed the two Spectres, Anderson and the Commander. Apparently, there were some things that the others still needed to discuss before the meeting officially adjourned.

Chapter Text

The Commander left the meeting room with her Captain and two Spectres at her side but the moment the group cleared the door, both Anderson and Asshole - whoops, Arterius - stormed away in different directions, leaving Izzy alone with Green-eyes. As she watched both males stomped off like two-year-olds having a tantrum, Izzy didn’t know how to feel. One male was like a father to her, the other was her future husband, and from the looks of it, they had history.

Letting out a sigh of resignation, she watched as Anderson’s retreating back disappeared as he made his way down the stairs knowing that the man needed some time to process what had just happened. Shaking her head at the absurdity of the situation, Izzy decided that if this really was going to happen she might as well try and get used to things now. And what better way to start off than introducing herself to the Spectre standing beside her.

“Well, I’m not sure how this will all play out but either way, it’s nice to meet you Spectre Kryik.” She said as she extended her rough, callus covered hand in greeting.

Studying the male, Shepard could see that Kryik was tall and slender, that was saying something since he was a Turian. The male was all lanky limbs and skinny torso but she wasn’t fooled; she knew under the males black and red armor, he was one hundred percent killing machine. The way he moved, like most turians, screamed predator but with the weapons strapped to his side, the hyper awareness in his frame and sharp eyes, she could see the man was on full alert, even if to most he looked relaxed. As she studied the Spectre, the thought of him coming at her as an enemy on the battlefield danced across her mind and the Commander had to suppress a shiver that tried to travel along her body. Not that the woman was expecting him to attack, everything in his body language at the moment said friend more so than foe - well, from what she could tell anyway - but it was still a scary thought.

Now that she had a moment, the soldier allowed her eyes to wander over the Turians face and noticed just how different his colouring was from other Turians she had seen; most Turians she had interacted with or had seen walking around were generally shades of gray or brown but not him. No, he was a nice red rust colour and Izzy couldn’t help but assume that he must have a rare colouring, just like how her hair was now rare. Natural redheads in the human population were hard to find and even though she had the implants installed that made changing her hair colour as easy as a flick of a switch, she rarely used it. The only time she used the implants was when she needed to go undercover for a mission; she liked the rarity of her hair colour even if it did make her more recognizable.

Accepting her hand, Izzy was brought out of her examination as the Spectre gave her a firm handshake. “Please, call me Nihlus and it’s nice to meet you too, Commander. Since the Blitz I did a little research on you and I must say I’m impressed. I hear that making N7 is extremely rare and you are the first female to get that designation. Seems strange, you would think more females would want to attempt to make N7 but most never make it past N3 if I remember correctly.” Nihlus said as he studied her.

Smiling up at the male’s friendly greeting, Izzy looked up at his rust coloured face as she replied, “Please, call me Shepard or Izzy and thank you. I know that Turians treat their females with more respect than humans in regards to being warriors but honestly, I was the first woman they thought would be able to make it past the next bout of training in ICT. I had a lot of support from my superiors and they were willing to raise a stink over my training. And apparently, not many women really wanted to move on past N3 due to the demands and the ones that did... failed out very quickly after, either not able to handle the training or getting caught up in life outside of the military. I know of one that would have made it further but found out part way through training that she was pregnant… kinda put a kink in things.” She told him as they walked farther away from the Council room.

Nihlus hummed as he thought about the information she had just given him. “Strange, humans have some weird customs when it comes to their females, don’t they?” He asked clearly trying to figure out why she was the first woman to reach so high in the N7 program.

Izzy scoffed. “They aren’t so much as customs as they are classic sexism coming out to play. According to some, women can be strong warriors but not as strong as men. We can fight, sure, but we are seen as weaker and not as smart when it comes to certain areas of expertise. If we were to have a discussion about weapons, even though I am a soldier and have more than enough knowledge in this area, I, as a woman, am still seen as not as knowledgeable as a male equal or subordinate until I have proven myself. Hell, I mean, didn’t you notice how all the other Human soldiers in that meeting were in their dress blues except me? I was asked to change into something more feminine because clearly being a warrior is a ‘man’s job.’ It’s a subtle jab at the fact that I am female but this is a topic that we could discuss for hours and it would only scratch the surface.”

The two continued to walk around the tower in the direction of her squad but they were in no hurry so the Commander paused every now and then to look around the room and admire the view. The flower beds she had seen earlier when heading to the meeting looked even more beautiful up close. The vibrant reds, yellows and violet colours along with the greens of the grass that matched the Spectre’s eyes were stunning and Izzy could only guess where the plants originated from. The grass looked like it had come from Earth but the rest of the flowers and greenery were completely new to her. 

As she gawked around looking at the wide array of vegetation she had never seen before, the redhead could feel the Specter’s eyes on her. When she finally turned to look at him she could see the slight confused expression on his plated face. Giving him a questioning look was enough to make the male speak, “What does ‘raise a stink’ and ‘scratch the surface’ mean? You humans have a funny way of not speaking plainly.” He asked, sounding slightly annoyed and curious at the same time.

Not meaning to, Izzy laughed; she always forgot that Turians never got their human idioms unless they were explained - well, most of them, anyway. “Well, ‘raise a stink’ means to complain about something, normally in anger until they get what they want. And ‘scratch the surface’ means looking into something in the briefest of ways, to not dive into a subject deeply. Wait… you probably don’t know that one either, do you?” She asked and it was Nihlus’ turn to laugh.

“No, that one I know. I have heard it several times before while on mission so I looked it up.” He replied, shaking his head as he continued to scope the area as if waiting for something to jump out at them.

Smiling at both the males words and actions, Izzy started to move again in the direction of her team which she could now see waiting not too far away, causing her to sigh again. “Is it too late to ask to marry you instead? You at least seem to not hate me on site.” The confused young woman asked before looking back up at towering Spectre.

Staring off in the direction Arterius had gone, Nihlus seemed to be lost in thought before he turned back to her and answered. “You know, I would love to take Saren’s place. You’re young, beautiful and clearly have spirit but alas, I cannot. One reason I’m sure they chose Saren is because he is very outspoken when it comes to his views on humanity. It will show Turians that if Saren Arterius can put aside his differences with humans then so can they. Not sure it will work but I can see their reasoning.” He explained in a tone of voice that the Commander couldn’t quite read.

As she listened to him talk, Izzy couldn’t help but blush that spread across her cheeks as Nihlus said that she was beautiful but the more he talked, the more she couldn’t help but follow the logic of the Council. The best way to change the minds of the masses is to take the one yelling the loudest and make them yell for you.

“I guess I can understand that but it doesn’t make it easier.” She responded, giving him a small, sad smile. “Anyway, I should go. My team’s waiting. See you around Green-eyes.” As she walked away, the woman’s enhanced hearing picked up the male’s sigh; she wasn’t sure why he did but it made her sad. ‘ Now marrying him wouldn’t have been so bad. He seems to at least care.’ She thought as she made her way over to her team.

Jack was the first to spot her friend and it was clear from the look on the redhead's face that something was wrong. “Commander?” She asked as softly as she would allow herself. The biotic may not be known for her fluffy side but when it came to Shepard, well, let’s just say she would be a teddy bear if the other woman needed her to be.

Hearing the other woman's call for her was not enough to cause Izzy to be able to look her friends in the eye; the Council had given her twenty-four hours of shore leave to digest the news before she was expected back to discuss the details of the marriage. Sighing, the Commander finally looked up to answer her friend’s question. “Well ladies, this mission is a lot different than we were all expecting and before I tell you about it we need to get a lot of booze and head back to my room.” All three women looked at her with concern but knew better than to bring it up when she had asked for alcohol first; instead, the group moved out to find the nearest levo-serving liquor store.

It didn’t take long for the soldiers to find, and proceed to buy, a large assortment of booze before heading back to the hotel the Council had put them up in. The moment they entered the room, the ladies deposited the many bottles in the kitchen before the redhead disappeared into the bedroom area to change into something less fancy. Removing her new, fashion conscious outfit, Izzy hung the clothes in the closet before pulling on a pair of loose grey jogging pants and grey workout top. If she was going to be on shore leave for the next day and a bit, she may as well be comfy.

When she returned to the main living space, the other three women had already made themselves comfortable in the large sitting room area not far from the small kitchen; drinks in hand, the women were chatting about what could possibly have put their Commander in such a mood. Happy to see them relaxed and already indulging themselves, Izzy moved to make herself a drink of her own after placing her new shoes by the door with the others.

“Hey Loser,” Jack called just before she started to pour, “I already made you a drink.” The biotic informed her, causing the Spectre Candidate to change her course. “It’s strong so-” The woman didn’t even finish speaking before Shepard grabbed the drink out of the other woman’s hand and downed the whole thing. “Well, shit, that’s not a good sign.” Jack said as she and the other two soldiers shared a concerned look.

Not really caring what she looked like at the moment, Izzy walked to the kitchen and poured herself another stiff drink. With her having twenty-four hours, scratch that twenty-three and a half hours until she had to be back in front of the Council, the Commander decided that she was allowed to indulge a bit. However, she knew that she still had to be functional so instead of downing this one like she had the last, Izzy walked back over to the couch, flopping down beside Kasumi. “So, Shep… what’s the mission? Can’t be good if your drinking has anything to say.” The aforementioned woman said as she set her drink down on the coffee table.

‘That’s an understatement,’ the woman thought as she prepared herself to tell them what all had gone down in the meeting. “Well, we all know how Human-Turian relations are still strained due to the war and all the speciesist bullshit that gets flying around, right?” She asked them, causing them all to nod. Sighing, she continued, “Well… the meeting was about how the Council decided to help bring both Humanity and the Hierarchy onto the same page. Now, I have to admit that I zoned out through some of it because they were talking about policies and this and that, you know, things I really don’t care about.” That got a chuckle from the room since everyone knew that the redhead was not one who dealt well with political BS well. “But,” she continued once the giggling calmed down, “then they got to the reason as to why I was there… They want to make me the first human Spectre Candidate.” And before she could continue with the rest of the news, the other three women all started shouting and high fiving, making a big deal out of the news since it was an honor for someone to be selected.

Seeing the excitement on their faces, Izzy couldn’t really be mad at them since they had every right to be that excited; hell if it wasn’t for everything else that came with the job, she would be excited, but sadly, what came with the candidacy had definitely dampened her sprites. 

At some point, her second in command noticed that she wasn’t joining in on the celebration and asked what was wrong.

“What’s wrong?” the woman scoffed as she slammed her drink on the table beside her. “What’s wrong is the fact that they think I am too young, too inexperienced, and too...too human so they are not only pairing me up with a Spectre to learn the ropes but I am being forced to marry him.” She spat out in her frustration. The Commander knew it wasn’t her friend's fault and felt slightly bad about taking her temper out on them but she also knew that they wouldn’t be offended by her outburst. They had all known each other for years, so Izzy was confident they wouldn’t take her anger to heart.

Needing to do something to help clear her mind of emotions, the young Commander stood up suddenly and started to pace back and forth in front of the couch. “So,” she continued as if she had not stopped talking, “not only am I going to be a Spectre Candidate, I have to marry the Turian who is going to train me, whether I make it in or not I might add, and to top it off, said Turian hates, and I mean hates , humans.” She finished as she grabbed her drink, downing it in one quick pull.

The room was silent after that leaving Izzy enough time to refill her cup and flop back down onto the couch before anyone worked up the nerve to talk. “So…” Ashley starts after clearing her throat, “you’re telling us that you have to marry a Turian, who you have never met, and who hates humans, so you can potentially become a Spectre… and all of this in the name of peace?” She asked already knowing the answer but wanting confirmation anyway.

“Yep, pretty much.” The Commander sighed as it all started to sink in. “I feel like I have traveled back in time. I almost wanted to ask how many sheep they were getting for me.” That startled laugh out of the group which helped bring Izzy’s mood up slightly. “Oh, and did I forget to mention that it seems Anderson hates my future husband as well?” Sighing again, taking a small sip from her glass, the green-eyed woman looked up and met the eyes of her best friend over the rim of her glass.

“Fuck… looks like you got the shit end of the stick.” Her best friend replied before finishing her own drink. “Is your future hubby at least good looking? I mean, will you be tapping that ass or no?” The biotic asked with a wiggle of her brow.

That got another round of startled laughs which turned into a fit of giggles. ‘ Man, I need to slow down on the booze. You may be a biotic but you’re a lightweight for a reason Iz,’ the former Lieutenant-Commander thought to herself as she tried to regain her composure.

“I can’t really say I looked. I was too mad to really check him out.” She replied once she had finally gotten herself back under control. “But I think the whole hating humans’ thing will get in the way, don’t you?”

The other woman was pleased that she was able to get her Commander, and friend, to laugh and joke about the situation. It wasn’t Iz’s fault that people hadn’t gotten over the war bullshit and the fact that she was going to be the one who paid the price pissed Jack off to no end; if the biotic had anything to say about it she would have marched back to the Council and hit them with a warp so hard they wouldn’t be able to see straight, but everyone knew it wouldn’t change a damn thing. “You never know. You have an annoying habit of pulling people to you. Maybe you’ll change his mind.” Jack replied mockingly as she sent a wink in the redheads direction.

Following along the same lines, the master of deception kept the conversation going in the lighter direction. “I’m guessing it wasn’t the handsome one you were talking with on your way back to us? Now he was a looker.” The sing-song quality to Kasumi’s voice was enough for Shepard to latch onto, keeping the conversation fun instead of the doomsday bomb it felt like.

“Who, Green-eyes? No… that would have been nice. He seemed to at least think Humans are okay and he was easy to talk to. No, that would have made life way too easy.” Shepard replied with another sigh, wishing it could be Nihlus over that ass, Arterius.

From across the living space Ashley was trying and failing to hide the chuckle that escaped her body. “What is it with you and the nicknames? Green-eyes? Red? I mean really, do you just associate a colour to someone and go from there?” The Chief asked, amused.

“What of it pinky?” Izzy teased. “It works better than Turian and Krogan… too generic, and racist.” She said as she took another sip of her drink. Her buzz was starting to come along nicely now and she was feeling a bit better about the situation so she decided that slowing down to a sipping pace was what was needed. All she wanted was to take the edge off, not get shitfaced and if the Commander kept going at her current pace then shitfaced was where she would be.

The look of horror that crossed her second in command’s face made it worth the comment. “Please… don’t call me that.” Ashley bagged, horrified that ‘pinky’ could be her new name, knowing that with the Commander, anything was possible.

Both of the women situated on the couch broke into a fit of laughter at her response but newly appointed the Operations Chief didn’t care. Even after the years of comments, she still loved that her armor was accented in pink because it showed girls that pink can be a badass colour too; but it sometimes made it so men wouldn’t take her seriously because she was seen as girly, which she would then put them in their place for thinking. All four women in the room knew what it was like to have men treat them like they didn’t know anything because they had viginas, not all men, but enough to be annoying. Ashley knew why, the men that had issues with women in their positions were threatened by the power they had. All the women in the room were top of their respective fields and, generally, badass ladies.

“Don’t worry Ash,” the Commander said once she had finished sucking in some air. “I would never… I would always and forever have that ‘Pinky and the Brain’ song stuck in my head every time I thought about you.” she jested causing all four ladies to burst into laughter all over again. It was only a few moments later when a ping sounded at her door and the redhead knew that it had to be the men, no one else was on this floor. Jack was closest to the door so she opened it to reveal none other than James, Jacob and Kaidan with one new addition.

“Joker!” Jumping up and running to the door, the Commander pulled her favorite pilot into a warm hug.

The bearded man tried to dodge the woman but in the end got trapped in her arms. “Hey Shepard, good to see you too. I always knew you liked me the most.” He said with a small, shy smile on his face.

Smiling down at him she replied, “Of course, you’re my favorite person in the entire galaxy after all.” Sending a wink his way to which she was rewarded with a blush and a “whatever” as he moved into the room.

After ushering everyone into the living room Izzy grabbed them all something to drink, making sure that she poured reasonably for everyone else before pouring herself another. “Wow, there Lola… you plan on remembering tonight?” James asked as she finished handing out drinks.

Shaking her head, Kasumi moved over to allow Izzy to sit between herself and Jack. “Leave her alone, Vega, she’s had a rough day.” The ex-thief replied as she cuddled up next to Jacob. 

Ignoring what was happening beside her as much as she could, the green-eyed female took a sip of her drink. Fraternization within the Alliance was a big no, no and being the Commanding officer, Izzy was supposed to report such matters but she just couldn’t. These two were just so cute, and with Kasumi not technically a member of the Alliance but an independent contractor with a military rank, it was a different sort of situation. So like any good friend, Izzy just pretended not to notice.

“What is that supposed to mean?” The dark-skinned marine asked, as he looked over his commander for any signs of distress.

Shrugging, Izzy replied with a simple, “Oh, that just means the mission is a bit more… personal then I would like it to be,” trying not to give too much away. This was a game that they always played after the Commander got her debrief. Whoever wasn’t a part of the mission had to see if they could guess what the mission was. The only time they didn’t play was if the mission was deemed classified by the brass, which they neglected to do with this particular situation.

Jack laughed, “that’s an understatement,” which caused both Ashley and Kasumi to join her in a fit of giggles.

Smiling but not joining in the laughter, Izzy looked on fondly at the scene before her. After what happened today it was slowly starting to sink in that she would more than likely not be in command of this group for much longer which was heartbreaking. This group of misfits’ had become as close as family to her and to have to say goodbye would be hard. Over the last year and a half, she had been building her team and the idea of not working with them everyday was going to be hard to get used to.

Over the next hour, the gentlemen tried to guess what the mission could possibly be but to no avail and eventually, Vega got fed up. “Would you just tell us already? We are nowhere close to getting it if your reactions are anything to go by.” He huffed after the ladies had finished their last bout of laughter.

The other three ladies turned to Izzy at that point to which she was thankful, this was not their news to share. “Well long story short you are looking at the future Mrs. Arterius, the first human Spectre Candidate.” She told them before taking another long pull from her drink. Looking down into her mug she knew that this would have to be her last. After all she had been through, she couldn’t afford to relapse into addiction; alcohol wasn’t her fix but she was worried that it could trigger her into a downward spiral, which she couldn’t afford.

Before anyone could say anything, there was another ping at her door. ‘ Who could that be? Everyone’s here,’ she thought but the slightly tipsy soldier got up and answered the door anyway and was surprised to see, not only Hackett, but Anderson and Green-eyes as well.

“Sirs!” Snapping to attention as quick as she could, trying not to spill the rest of her drink down her front of her shirt.

“At ease Shepard, you’re off duty. No need to salute.” Hackett chuckled as the three males moved into the room. “I see everyone is here, good. I’m sure you have already told them of the… situation?” he asked, sounding slightly unhappy about the situation he was referencing.

Trying as hard as she could to fight off the tipsy feeling that she was currently trapped in, the Commander answered as best she could. “Umm… yes, Sir. I don’t know if I was supposed to but I wasn’t told not to and it’s my personal life that is involved so…” she replied trailing off at the end when she noticed that Anderson was staring at her.

Giving her a hard look, her Commanding Officer shook his head before turning to glare at Jack. “Corporal Naught, how much has our esteemed Commander had to drink?”

Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, Jack looked between Anderson and Izzy with a look on her face that was almost comical if it weren’t for the reason the look was on her face. “Well… enough to let her joke about it, Sir.” She answered and Izzy had to cough to hide the giggle that wanted to burst forth from her lips.

Anderson turned back in her direction with the most father-like glare she had ever seen on her CO. “Isabelle Marie Shepard, how much have you had to drink?” He asked, his voice in stern, protective father mode.

Giving a small shrug, Izzy looked him in the eye before replying honestly. “Enough to know that this is my last one… I’m not going to be the one that fucks this up. Shit! Sorry, Sir.” She says quickly turning to the Admiral who looked more amused than anything, waving his hand letting her know he didn’t care so she continued. “Anyway, what brings you two and Green-eyes to my pity-party?” She asked, trying to distract Anderson from his line of questioning.

Not surprising, Hackett was the one to answer her query. “We just got done the rest of negotiations and thought we would drop by to see how you were holding up. I’m sorry that you were blindsided at the meeting, Shepard. We had planned to debrief you before but the Council had other plans.” He informed her and she could hear the regret in his voice.

“Yes, the Council does that regularly. You’ll have to get used to it Commander, since you’ll be working for them.” Nihlus said nonchalantly as if he wasn’t the lone Turian in a room full of Humans. “Even Saren and I were not told until the meeting. We were told we would be evaluating a new Spectre candidate but the whole bonding, or marriage by human standards, was a shock.”

Turning to face the Turian, Shepard again felt a pang of regret that ran through her. “I stand by what I said earlier. Marrying you would be easier. I mean, you seem so comfortable and you’re surrounded by several highly trained Human Soldiers.” She said studying him.

That caused the rust coloured Turian to laugh. “And I stand by what I said that Saren is lucky to be marrying someone so young and beautiful, but trying to change the Council’s mind would be like trying to convince the Hanar that the Protheans aren’t Gods. A waste of time and effort on everyone’s part. They want it to be Saren so Saren it will be.” He said with an airy tone that didn’t quite fit the tone of the conversation. ‘ I guess for him it’s not nearly as big of a problem,’ she thought and it was true. Would he be affected? Yes. Clearly he was considered a friend of the other Spectre since he was at the meeting but he was just gaining a potential friend, not a wife.

The moment that the other Spectre was mentioned, Anderson stiffened and then took the opportunity to add his opinion to the conversation, distracting Izzy from looking into Nihlus’s comment further. “I still think Saren is going to find a way to get you killed, or at the very least terminated from the program. He has no love for humans or those who get in his way.” The anger that was radiating off of the Captain was palpable to the point of making Izzy uncomfortable.

Apparently though, that was the wrong thing to say since Nihlus let loose a low growl. “I understand that you have a history with Saren, Captain, but that is out of line. Saren may be seen as ruthless and cold while on mission but he will do anything to see the mission through. Every Spectre has to be ready to sacrifice what is necessary to get the job done. Saren may not like humans but he will not betray the Council just because they put him in a position he doesn’t want to be in.” He said with a hard edge to his voice but when he turned back to Izzy his voice softened a bit. “He won’t be easy on you, however. Spirits knows how many times I wanted to quit while under Saren’s mentoring but it made me the Spectre I am today. He will push you beyond what you think your limits are just to show you what you’re capable of so be prepared to be pushed harder than you ever have even been pushed before. After our talk, I dug more into the Alliance’s N7 program and that is a good basis for you, but I warn you now, that was easy compared to some of the things you will have to endure.” He told her.

‘Well shit,’ the redhead thought, ‘N7 was hard as fuck and that was to only be the beginning.’ Izzy couldn’t help but think back to before the Alliance and before the orphanage she grew up in and knew that she would be able to take whatever the Spectre threw at her. She was strong willed and determined so before anyone could say anything she looked Nihlus in the eyes and told him the truth. “I’m ready for what is to come. He won’t break me.”

Apparently, that is what the rust coloured Turian wanted to hear because he bowed his head and gave her a Turian smile. “Good. Now, I came here to take a look at your equipment and then take you shopping for whatever needs to be upgraded. Being a Spectre gets you a lot of advantages when it comes to weapons, armor and modifications. I could come back late-” He was saying when Izzy interrupted him.

“No, now is fine.” She said quickly, slightly embarrassed that she cut him off but pushed forward even as her face started to turn red with colour. “That will distract me, which is what I need right now, I think.” Quickly, the woman downed the rest of her drink before setting the now empty glass on the overly priced stone counter in the tiny kitchen.

“Let me go get changed and then we can head out.” The Commander said over her shoulder as she made her way to the bedroom, throwing on her Alliance casuals. In the few seconds it had taken her to changed, the rest of the party had split into small groups and were talking amongst themselves. The young Commander could tell that they were all concerned about the events that were going on, and for her well-being, but most of all she could see that they were also trying to cope with the situation as well. Even though it was her life, everyone in the room would be greatly affected but what was happening even if it wasn’t to the same extent.

Smiling a bit sadly, Shepard was just about to head over to where the Green-eyed Turian was waiting for her when she was faced with a very distraught looking Lieutenant. “Commander, could I have a word with you before you go?” The biotic asked in a calmer tone than what his face was showing. From the tight-lips to the furrowed brow, Izzy could see what was coming before he even said a word and she was not looking forward to having this conversation. She hadn’t had time to talk to the Lieutenant since Wrex had given her the scoop on his feelings and she had hoped that after finding out she was to be married, he would drop the whole thing, but apparently that was just a pipe dream.

“Sure, Alenko. It’s gotta be quick though. I really want to see what mods I can get for my shotgun.” She replied trying to play it off as if she didn’t know what was going to happen. She gave Nihlus a quick apologetic smile before following Kaidan back into the bedroom.

Once the door swished closed behind them the muscular biotic turned to face the redhead with a look of pure concern and panic in his eyes. “Commander, I… I don’t know how to say this but-” he started but before he could finish, the redhead decided to save him some embarrassment by holding up her hand, quickly silencing the man.

“Look, Kaidan. I may be your Commanding officer but right now I’m also your friend. I can see that you are concerned for me but you need not worry. Yes, Arterius might hate humans and we may not like the shit situation we have been put in, but I have a duty to the Alliance, Humanity, and the Galactic community to do what is right. I’m sure over time that we will come to respect one another and maybe even become friends but until then I’ll just have to deal with it. It’s not like I was in a relationship anyway, nor had I planned to be in one anytime soon.” She told him hoping that she didn’t have to crush his feelings to get her point across.

Overall, she liked the Lieutenant but only as a friend. He was a good soldier with a kind heart but he was missing something that she just couldn’t pinpoint. Sadly, whatever was missing made all the difference, that and the fact he was slightly obsessive. Maybe in another life, she would have been able to be with him; but from everything Izzy could see, it seemed he liked the idea of Commander Shepard more than the actual person beneath, which wouldn’t have worked out well.

Looking off to the side with a grimace he tried, and failed, to hide for his Commander, he replied, “I hear you Shepard. I was going to say if you wanted a way out we could go get married now making it impossible for this to go through but it seems like you’ve thought of everything.” The man had also tried to hide the disappointed from his voice, but again, to no avail. He was angry at himself for not asking her out before all of this happened. Maybe if the Council knew that she was involved with someone they would have picked someone else but now it was too late. His woman was marrying someone else and it pained him.

Laughing nervously, Izzy tried not to show how much she detested that idea, not liking that option anymore than marrying the Turian Spectre. “That’s a kind offer Alenko but no. It would still be a forced marriage with both parties being unhappy in the end. I would hate to sacrifice your happiness to make me slightly more comfortable.” She replied diplomatically. As she talked, the woman could clearly see his shoulders fall, as if he thought she would have really taken the offer, but she ignored it, playing dumb.

Clearly trying to play it off, Kaidan let out an uneasy chuckle as he gave her a shaky smile. “Alright Shepard, I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

‘I’m sure ;’ she thought before she gave him a smile in return before replying with something less sarcastic than her gut reaction wanted to give. “I am, thanks Alenko.” Patting him on the arm, Izzy quickly turned and moved towards the door, ending the conversation.

The two re-entered the living space where everyone was still talking as if no time had passed, prompting Izzy to walk over to where the Captain and Admiral were still standing near the Spectre. “I’m heading out with Nihlus but you are all welcome to stay and have a few drinks until I get back.” She told the room before looking toward the older man. “Hackett, Sir, if I could place you in charge of these misfits until I get back, I would greatly appreciate it.” She finished sending the man a warm smile.

Hackett returned her smile with his own as protests were heard from around the room at the comment. “Don’t worry Commander; I have your crew under control.”

Chuckling, Izzy sent him a quick salute before heading out with the tall Spectre at her side.

Chapter Text

The Human and Turian made their way to the Alliance docks so that Nihlus could have a look at Izzy’s gear. Izzy was surprised that he seemed so at easy around the docks with all of the Humans. No one said or did anything since he was walking with her but she could see that many were very uncomfortable with Nihlus’s presences.

“Here we are.” Izzy said as they made their way onto the SSV Agincourt . All of her weapons and armor had stayed on the ship when they had docked and since the ship was to remain docked for several days and Izzy hadn’t wanted the hassle of getting all of her weapons checked through C-Sec. It was a pain but now that she thought about it, she would have to take them with her now anyway since she probably wouldn’t be heading back with the Alliance.

“It always fascinates me how strange Human ships are.” Nihlus said as they exited the airlock.

“What do you mean?” Izzy asked giving the Spectre a sideways glance.

Nihlus looked around before answering. “Well for starters, your CIC is set up very differently. Human Commanders seem to like to be in the thick of things where on Turian ships, the Commander is raised above everyone so that you know where they are. Also, your med-bays are generally on or near the cargo hold where ours are on the crew deck.” He said as the made their way to the elevator.

“Strange.” Izzy said with a shrug. She had never really giving consideration to the fact that a Turian ship would be built differently. Even though she had been to Palaven she had never got the chance to be on a Turian frigate which she always thought strange in and of itself.

She was about to ask for him to explain more when she heard someone call to her. “Commander Shepard, why is there a Turian on our ship!? Civilians are not allowed on here unless given permission by the Admiral.” The man said. Izzy turned to see Navigator Pressley coming towards her and she could tell that he was mad but she wasn’t sure if it was because of Nihlus being Turian or not but that didn’t matter.

“Navigator Pressley.” She replied giving him a quick salute. “This is Spectre Nihlus Kryik; he is just here to help me collect my weapons and armor for assignment.” She told him. She could see that Pressley was weighing the odds on what to do. He was the XO of this ship so he had authority over her but she technically outranked him and wasn’t a member of the ship’s crew so it was a tricky situation. You never wanted to burn that kind of a bridge and Izzy liked Pressley, even though he had some old-world views.

“I see, Commander. Please, go collect what you need and then leave. We can’t just allow anyone to snoop around our ships.” He said as he gave off his own salute then headed off to do whatever needed done.

“Aye, Aye Sir.” She replied and then got in the elevator with Nihlus.

The ride wasn’t long before they were in the Cargo bay. Nihlus had been quiet since the airlock and she wasn’t sure if he just didn’t have anything to say or if the encounter with Pressley had silenced him.

Izzy quickly put on her armor since it would be easier then carrying it then grabbed her M-23 Katana and her well love M-22 Eviscerator and placed them on her back as her trusted M-3 Predator went on her hip. She also had her beloved M-490 Blackstorm but with both shotguns on her back she had to ask Nihlus to carry her heavy weapon. Normally if someone else had to carry it, it would be Ash’s job but since she wasn’t here she had to make Nihlus promise to treat it with care.

“You do realize it’s a weapon, right? It’s not like it’s a child.” Nihlus said amused at the whole sight. He had never seen someone so loving towards their weapons.

Izzy stepped back with a small mock gasp as she clutched at her heart. “Nihlus! How could you say such things in front of them? Don’t worry guys… he didn’t mean it!” She said as she patted her pistol. Nihlus full on laughed at that. This human was definitely strange but he like it. Saren was going to have his hands full with her.

“My apologies. I didn’t realize that they were paying attention.” Nihlus replied sarcastically.

Izzy just smiled at him as she started to grab all of her weapon and armor mods. Some she was going to have to leave behind since the Alliance owned them but all her weapons she owned. Whenever she got a promotion she would go out and buy herself a new weapon or mod, she still used the Alliance basic assault rifle so unfortunately that had to stay behind. She wasn’t a huge fan of rifles; she was a shotgun/pistol/in-your-face kind of fighter so rifles weren’t her thing. The one weapon that she never used was a sniper rifle. Izzy was terrible with one and she didn’t like being so far away from her target. If she was going to kill someone she wanted to be close enough so that she felt it. That way it hits home that you took a life; if you’re too far away you could almost convince yourself that it wasn’t real.

“Alright, this is all of it.” Izzy said as she grabbed the last of her mods.

Nihlus looked over the pile of mods that she threw into the crate before looking up at her. “You have a lot of mods and weapons for someone who could just use military issue guns.” He said as they made their way back to the elevator.

Izzy shrugged her shoulders. “Heh… I buy new guns or mods every time I get a promotion. Which now that I think about it, I still need to go get one since I’m now a Commander.” Maybe two since I skipped a rank. She thought as the elevator opened onto the CIC.

It didn’t take nearly as long to get thru C-Sec as Izzy had thought. Apparently, that was a perk of being a Spectre. Nihlus just walked up to them and said that all of the weapons and mods had to do with ‘Spectre businesses' and they were through C-Sec in about 5 minutes.

“Well that was way easier then I was expecting. I thought we would be there for at least an hour if not two.” Izzy said as they headed to one of the tram stations.

Nihlus gave her a sideways glance. “Being a Spectre does have some advantages. Wait until we get to the Spectre office. You will definitely be impressed.” He said which got Izzy really excited. By now most of the booze from earlier had left her system and she was grateful. If she was going to the Spectre office then she wanted to be running on all cylinders.

The cab ride was short and the walk from the tram station to the Spectre office was quick and Izzy couldn’t wait to get inside. Nihlus looked over at her before opening the door and started to laugh. “You look like a 15-year-old ready to receive their markings.” He said as he punched in a code and then placed his hand on the biometric reader.

Normally she would have been embarrassed if someone called her on her excitement but right now Izzy didn’t care. She was about to be the first human to go through those doors. When they opened Nihlus lead her down a hallway into a large room that had several monitors on one side, a couple weapons benches along another wall and a gun range on the far end. Nihlus first lead her to a weapons bench to start going over what she already had. While Nihlus looked over her babies she walked over to the shooting range to see what all could be done there. Apparently, everything, she thought as she scrolled thru the options. Long range, short range, grenade testing the list went on and on.

“So why do you call crew misfits?” Nihlus asked as Izzy made her way back over to the weapons bench.

Izzy smiled and shook her head. “Because that’s what we are. We are the ones no one else thought would make it.” She said as she started taking apart her pistol. She could see Nihlus giving her a look so she chuckled before continuing.

“Let me explain. First take Kaidan Alenko, a strong biotic and a kind sole but he has the old L2 biotic implant which makes him a powerful biotic but has other complications like debilitating headaches, some who have the L2 implant went nuts but Alenko is lucky. He also had the misfortune of being placed at Jump Zero when Human biotics first started appearing; he… well he accidently killed one of the instructors after the instructor broke the arm of one of the other students.” She told him as she started to clean the inner machismos of the gun.

“Then there is Ashley Williams, she is one hell of a soldier with the misfortune of having her name attached to the wrong person. Her grandfather is General Williams, the human General who surrendered at Shanxi. He made the right call but people are stupid and have made it nearly impossible for Williams to get out from under that political bull shit. Then there is James Vega, a young meat head who just needs to learn respect of command and gain a bit confidence, if he questions orders he isn’t afraid to tell you why. Jacob Taylor is a good soldier but he is unsure of himself, follows orders and is good in a fight but not one who can be put in charge. His father’s ship went down several years ago and we recover it about 2 years ago now. His father went off the deep end and basically started a cult. I think that’s why he is afraid to lead.” She paused as she started to put her pistol back together.

“Jeff Moreau, a.k.a. Joker, is almost excessively our pilot. He hates military politics and is a sarcastic asshole who I love dearly. He is the best damn pilot I have ever seen in my life but most don’t want him on their ship because he has brittle bone disease, I can’t remember the name of it but most Captains don’t want to take on the responsibility of having someone so ‘breakable’ on their ship.” Izzy said as Nihlus continued to watch her. He had finished looking over her guns somewhere around Jacob so now he just listened.

“That just leaves Kasumi Goto and Jack Naught. Kasumi is an interesting addition to our team more because she is a criminal that was offered a job versus going to jail.” Nihlus huffed at that causing Izzy to smile. “I know, not what you were expecting right. She is one of the best tech experts I know but yes, she is a criminal. I was actually assigned to find her and bring her into custody but before I could I ended up on a mission where we ended up having to team up to get out alive. It’s a long story but once we were clear I arrested her and offered her a position on my team. She accepted and now she is one of my closest friends and trusted allies.”

Nihlus laughed. “You sure have a way with people, don’t you?” he asked.

Izzy smiled. “I’m going to take that as a complement, Nihlus and yes, I do.”

Nihlus just shook his head. “And Jack? Do I want to know?”

Izzy laughed at that. “Jack… well Jack and I have known each other since we were 16. We were in the same orphanage together but I won’t tell you her full story, that’s hers to tell but she is the strongest human biotic ever. Period, end of story. She could rival an Asari Matriarch with her power and let’s just say she isn’t called the psychotic biotic for nothing. I’m pretty much one of the only people she will take orders from other than Anderson and Hackett. She will take orders from Williams to since she is my second out in the field but Jack can be hard to control sometimes but I love her all the same.”

Nihlus studied Izzy for a several minutes before saying anything. That gave her time to take apart and clean her Katana and Eviscerator. “So, you grew up in an orphanage?” He finally asked.

Sorry, Green-eyes. I know where this is going. “Yeah, I arrived just before Jack and with us being the only 16-year old’s who actually wanted to get off Earth we were the only ones to stay at the orphanage. We both made it a mission to help each other stay out of the Tenth Street Reds so instead we helped around the orphanage with the young ones. I actually donate much of my salary to the orphanage to try and help them keep their kids out of the gangs and off the street. Whenever Jack or I get the chance we go home for a visit.” She said as a wistful smile spreads across her face. It always does when she talks about her home. “Between Jack and I, we keep the place well-funded and with us both being rare successes from an orphanage, well… let’s just say that it gives the kids there hope for a better life.”

Nihlus nodded in understanding. Turians don’t have a foster system or orphanages like humans. It was the job of your clan to help with children who lost their families but Nihlus had been to a human orphanage and was appalled that they would treat children in such a matter. What made it even worst was to find that most came from situations where the orphanage was a safe haven. From the way that Shepard was talking, it seemed that was the case for her.

“So, how did you end up in an orphanage?” he asked curiously.

Izzy smiled sadly and shook her head. “Sorry, Green-eyes. Only three people in the galaxy know the story and only one knows the whole story so the odds of me telling you are slim to none.”

Nihlus shrugged. “I’m guessing that those people are Captain Anderson, Admiral Hackett and Jack?” He asked ridge brows raised.

Izzy burst out laughing. “That transparent, huh?” She said as she set her weapons down. Happy with the cleaning job she had done.

“Yes, it is also transparent that you see your crew as family as well as the people at the orphanage. A piece of advice; either you let them go or be better at hiding those facts. They are weaknesses that can be used against you.” Nihlus said with such seriousness in his voice that it caused Izzy pause.

“I’ve been told that before, believe it or not. They may be a weakness that can be used against me but they are also the reason I fight. They make me stronger, not weaker but I will try to do as you say. Being a Spectre will bring a whole other class of criminals to the list of enemies plus the fact that many will be against the wedding…” she trailed off at the end. She knew that she was going to have to be careful with whom she shared information with but Nihlus was a Spectre and quickly was become a friend so she would take his advice seriously.

“Anyway, I have a trusted source taking care of hiding my donations to the orphanage and my crew can easily take care of themselves but your right. I will have to be more vigilant with how I conduct my work from now on. Thank you for the advice, Nihlus.” She said as she started to remove her armor. She had completely forgotten that she was wearing it but with her casuals on underneath instead of her under suit it was starting to become uncomfortable.

Nihlus nodded his acceptance of her words before turning to one of the monitors. “Alright, now that we have that out of the way, you need some new weapons and armor. Your Eviscerator is impressive and with your size a Claymore might be more gun then you can handle so you’re fine there. Your pistol on the other hand is pitiful, Predators are fine for taking down people without armor but that is not always the case. I’ll put in an order for a Carnifex. Now I see that you don’t have any assault rifles, sniper rifles or submachine guns so I’ll order you one of each as well. The Shuriken and Vindicator would work well for you but the sniper rifle… well we will have to try out a few to see what you can handle. Oh, and I almost forgot, you’ll need at least two more sets of armor.” Nihlus listed off almost as if he was talking to himself.

Izzy stood there in shock. There was no way she could afford all of this! Even if she didn’t donate most of her money to the orphanage it would take 3 years’ salary to buy those guns let alone two new sets of armor.

“Wow, wow, wow. Nihlus! I can’t afford all of this. I could get one of those guns now but not the rest plus two sets of armor!” Izzy said as she broke out of her shock.

Nihlus turned to face her as if just remembering that she was there. “Oh, don’t worry; the Council will pay for all of this. As long as you aren’t buying a new weapon or armor every other day they won’t even question it. You would be surprised how many weapons and armor get destroyed while on mission.” Nihlus said as he punched in a few commands.

Three gun cases came rolling in on a conveyor belt over by the gun range. Nihlus lead her over to the other side of the room and popped the cases open and there sat three brand new sniper rifles. Izzy wasn’t a sniper but she knew these guns and if Ashley were here she would have died. In front of her sat the newest models of the Mantis, Viper and Widow. Even though she hated using them, Izzy could appreciate how beautiful they were.

“Um… Nihlus, I hate to break it to you but I’m never going to use one of these in a fight. It’s not in my fighting style and I’m a terrible shot.” Izzy confessed. She hated admitting that she wasn’t good at something, especially when it came to guns, but Izzy was terrible with the long-range weapon. If she wanted to kill something from afar it was her trusted Blackstorm not a precision weapon.

Nihlus looked at her and saw the flush of her face, he understood that this was hard for her to admit and was happy that she did. There was nothing that Saren hated more than when someone didn’t admit their weaknesses. Yes, this should be an interesting matchup. He thought as he gave her a pat on the back.

“Ah… you can’t be that bad. Anyway, I’m a pretty good sharp shooter myself. Maybe I could give you a few pointers, hey?” He said as he grabbed the Viper first and gave it to her.

The next hour was spent with Izzy holding one of the three guns and Nihlus adjusting her stance, grip, sight, you name it. After shooting about 100 shots with each gun Nihlus concluded that the Widow was too much gun for her since she almost dislocated her shoulder several times while trying to use it. Next, he eliminated the Mantis because of how heavy the weapon was; she almost dropped the thing due to its weight after shot 62. That left the Viper. The Viper was lighter than the other two and had much less kick back so Nihlus deemed that this would be the one for her. After another hour of straight practicing with it she was able to hit 30 percent of the targets which was reasonably better than the mere 20 percent when she started.

“You are improving but I see now why you didn’t own one before. You will need practice if you’re going to get it down.” Nihlus said as he put the gun away.

Izzy let out a sigh as she rolled her stiff shoulders back. After two hours of holding the heavy weapons her arms were screaming. “Thanks for the lessons, Green-eyes but I’ll stick with my shotgun.” She said which got a chuckle in response.

“That’s fair enough. Sharp shooting isn’t for everyone.” He smiled as he punched in a command and the weapons went back along the conveyor belt. “But I’ll order you the Viper anyway. You will need to practice since some missions require stealth and long range.” He jested as they walked over to another console.

Izzy just rolled her eyes in response to his jest. Clearly, he had taken the time to look up some of her military history, stealth was not her thing. Not that she didn’t try but somehow shit always hit the fan with her.

“Alright now you get to choose your armor since that’s a bit more personal and has to do with your fighting style. I will suggest that you get two different kinds, one for straight combat and one for stealth. Of course, I’m guessing that you will keep your current armor as well since it is in good condition.” Nihlus said as he keyed up the armor selections.

Izzy was overwhelmed at all the options. She had always stuck to the basic N7 armor since it was affordable and it was very easy to get replacement parts but now that she wouldn’t be paying she had a chance to look at all the options. The list went on and on but she had done enough research that choosing wasn’t going to be hard. In the end, she got the newest Ariake Tech and N7 Defender Armor. Izzy had always wanted the Defender Armor but it was very expensive and rare, most N7’s didn’t bother because it was so expensive but if the Council was willing to pay for it than she wouldn’t say no.

After choosing her types of armor she was surprised at all of the custom colours and patterns she could get. When she received her first set of N7 Armor the only thing you could choose was the overall colour and stripe, she chose a nice matt black with a red and white stripe but now she had all the bells and whistles to choose from. It was funny, however, that she decided to go full matt back with the same red and white strip for both new sets. She loved the look and she was only N7 that had that kind of armor. Before she placed the order, she made sure that the Ariake Tech armor would also have the N7 logo on it. She earned that rank and there was no way in hell that she wouldn’t wear it now.

As she sent the order away she could hear Nihlus chuckling behind her. When she turned around she saw that he was trying and failing to hide his amusement from her. “What’s so funny, Green-eyes?” She asked as she crossed her arms and leaned back onto one hip; Jack had dubbed the stance, ‘The Thug Pose.’

Nihlus cleared his throat before responding. “Oh, nothing… I’ve just never seen someone order two completely different sets of armor but in the same colour. Are you going to be able to tell them apart?”

Izzy looked at him a moment longer before replying. “Of course, I will. Besides if they are the same colour I can interchange some of the pieces if need be. That’s the advantage to the two I bought. They clasp the same so if my chest plate gets damaged and I don’t have time to repair it between missions I can use a piece from a different set since they are interchangeable.”

Nihlus looked at her for a few moments with a look that Izzy didn’t quite know how to read before he replied. “That is unexpected. No Turian armor is interchangeable like that; smart planning on your part.”

Izzy smiled. “Thanks, I have my moments.” She said as she rolled her eyes at him. “Alright, what now?”

“Well, that’s all for now. You should get back to your people. The next few days are probably going be dramatic and crazy so you should rest up. Knowing Saren, he will want to leave the moment the Council will let him and you will be going with him.” Nihlus said as they headed towards the exist.

Izzy groaned at the news. She had hoped to stay with her crew for as long as possible but it was more than likely they would be reassigned over the next couple of days. “What about my equipment?” She asked trying to get her mind of the inevitable.

“All of it will be sent to Saren’s ship. And on that note, he will be taking everything apart and checking it over himself after he has you do it. He is a stickler for weapons and armor to be in perfect condition so don’t take it personally. However, from what I have seen you are just as bad.” He said as they made their way to the transit station.

Izzy nodded smiling a bit. “Is there anything else I should know before I dive head first into hell?” She asked jokingly.

Nihlus paused as he looked down at her as if considering what to tell her and what to let her figure out on her own. He must have found, saw or heard something earlier that made him want to add to what he had said so far. “If you were to talk to your Captain I’m sure you would get a story of how ruthless Saren is and how he sacrificed hundreds of lives to make sure that your Captain never became a Spectre. Now, I wasn’t there so I can’t speak to that mission but Saren will get the job done at any cost. If it means sacrificing a whole village to save the planet he will without hesitation. Ruthless calculus is his strategy. I’m not saying I agree all the time but there are times where you will need to apply the same strategy. I’m telling you this because I have a feeling you are a no man left behind soldier like most Humans seem to be. You will have to be prepared for a situation where Saren orders something you may not agree with. You can fight about it after mission or before boots hit the ground but while on mission don’t argue. It could get you both killed and the mission could fail as a result.”

As Izzy looked up into his eyes she could see what he saying. Saren and she would clash heads on a lot of things it seemed. She was now wondering if that was yet another reason that they were being forced to marry. From what she had been able to get out of Nihlus of the past few hours was that Saren was the Council's top Spectre. Getting the job done but from what Nihlus had just said, maybe the Council was wanting to tame the man a bit.

Izzy nodded in response and said her goodbye before hopping in the cab to take her back to her hotel. She wasn’t surprised to find that everyone was still there. They had probably been worried that Nihlus had carted her off somewhere. Once she assured everyone that she was fine and that she had come to terms with the whole situation everyone left except Jack, Anderson and Hackett. She was sure Kasumi probably stayed behind as well but she didn’t care. She trusted Kasumi enough that no matter what was said here, she was fine with Kasumi hearing.

“How are you holding up, Child? Honestly.” Anderson asked as she made way to the couch.

She sighed as she sank into the cushions. How was she holding up? Since finding out she would be married she hadn’t had a moment alone to think, not that it was necessarily a bad thing but she didn’t really know how she was doing. “Well, I would say I’m doing fine. I mean, becoming a Spectre is a huge step for humanity and the peace between humans and Turians is worth almost any cost. The fact that it is taking this long for lasting peace is ridiculous so if I must marry for that to happen I will gladly do it. However, my mood may be helped right now since Nihlus just got me several new weapons, two sets of new armor and gave me some pointers when it comes to both sharp shooting and dealing with Spectre Arterius.” Izzy told them. It was honest. She would sacrifice her happiness if it meant that hostilities would end between Turians and Humanity.

“Wait! You got new guns and armor!? Can I marry a Spectre?” Jack asked in mocking excitement.

Izzy smiled at her best friend. “Sure, I’ll ask Green-eyes and see what he says.” She said and sent her a wink. Both girls laugh but stopped abruptly when they saw the look that Anderson was giving them. “Really, David. I know the seriousness of the situation and I’m fine. There is nothing we can do about it anyway.”

Hackett nodded his head. “She’s right Anderson. The most we could do is delay the wedding which would give the Turians reason to doubt Humanity and the Alliance. We need to cement this deal so that the Hierarchy will crack down on their rouge factions and we can focus on our own as well.” Hackett told Anderson even though the Captain already new all of this.

“I understand I just don’t like it. Just the fact that it’s Saren is putting me even more on edge. I feel as if they’re setting Shepard up for failure.” Anderson said as the anger started to dissipate.

Izzy shook her head at him. “It’s like you forget that I’m N7 and stubborn as hell. I’ll be fine and with the information that Nihlus shared with me I’m sure Arterius will be having just as much fun as I will.” She said. She could see that Anderson wasn’t truly convinced so she looked him dead in the eyes as she said her next bit. “It’s my life, Anderson. I know you don’t like it but it’s my choice and I choose to do this. I won’t let Arterius change who I am so stop worrying about me.”

Anderson let out an undignified grunt before replying. “I will always worry about you.” He said in defeat which caused her to smile softly. Anderson really was one of the best men she knew.

“Good. Now that that is settled, what’s going to happen to my crew?” She asked turning to Hackett.

He smiled at her. “Don’t worry Commander; your misfits, as you call them, will stay together under Anderson’s control. Lieutenant-Commander Williams will be placed in charge of your ground team. I’ll keep them together for you.” He said, understanding her worry. Her group was unconventional like most of her plans but they were a hell of a team and Hackett knew it would be foolish to break them up.

Izzy nodded satisfied with that answer. Her team would remain intact and under Anderson’s command. That was the best she could hope for.

Chapter Text

Saren stormed out of the Council Chambers absolutely furious. Him! Marry a Human!? Ridiculous! He was so furious that he didn’t notice that Nihlus wasn’t following him until he got to the transit station. He turned to look for his friend and saw that he was talking with the Human female to whom he was to become bonded to.

Saren growled at the sight and got into the cab. If he stayed there any longer he would do something that was beneath him. The cab took him straight to the docks. He needed to be alone to do research and one of the places he could do that was in his cabin on the Karda . His ship wasn’t big but it wasn’t small either. It consisted of 4 levels, the top being his cabin and an observation deck, the second containing the CIC, cockpit and conference room, the third was the crew deck with a kitchen and med-bay and the last deck housed engineering and cargo bay where his Kodiak was currently parked.

The ship ran with as small of crew as possible since Saren didn’t trust easily and it was hard to find experts who were willing to travel with the Spectre. Saren knew that he was hard to get along with for long periods of time but it always frustrated him when he had to find a replacement specialist because the last one couldn’t take life on the ship any more. It was necessary, however, to have the best of the best if he was to keep a small crew. The fact that a Human was to join them would prove annoying. He knew that there was no point arguing with the Council, they had made up their minds and it was clear that the Hierarchy was one their side as well so the best Saren could hope for is that the Human would fall in line quickly, be proven incompetent or die on mission.

He hated to admit that he respected her for the way she had stood up to him in the meeting. She had been quick to call the Council and her own representatives on their political agendas and had a fighting spirit. This irritated him even more; the Human was not worth his respect until she did something worth of respecting. He hadn’t even known her name until she stumbled out of the elevator and Nihlus had mentioned she was the one who held off the attack on the Human colony… Elysium or something. It didn’t matter. He would now have to spend the next 24 hours doing as much reading on the female as possible as well as inform his crew. He would also need to order Lavo foods and make sure the doctor had what he needed for a Human to stay on the ship long term.

As he exited the airlock his second in command, Lieutenant Kaestis Egnaso, was standing waiting for him. Egnaso had been with Saren the longest and Saren trusted no one more, except maybe Nihlus. The two had trained together during the war with the Humans and when Saren became a Spectre he had asked Egnaso to join him as his second. Egnaso agreed immediately and had been by his side ever since.

“Sir, I have placed all orders like you requested and have the crew on leave right now but they have been told to be ready to leave within an hours’ notice.” Egnaso said the moment Saren entered the ship. This was what he liked about Egnaso; he was work first and kept private matters private. Saren didn’t want to hear about someone’s day and he was glad that new crew generally picked it up within the first hour being on board.

“Good.” Saren huffed out. “I need you to recall Corporal Gornius, Sargent Macnis and Dr. Receculus. I have research that needs to do be done and will need the Doctor and the Sergeant to go through their supplies to add enough Lavo rations for one Human female to be on ship indefinitely with us.” He spat out. He was doing well so far and keeping his subharmonics in check but he knew his tone was giving him away.

Egnaso bowed his head and sent off notices to the three crew members as he followed Saren to the elevator. “Sir, permission to speak freely?” Saren turned and nodded to his second knowing what was coming. “Not that it will be a problem but why are we bring a Human female along with us. It’s strange enough that it you would add a female into the crew but a Human as well? I’m just a bit curious as to why.”

It was a fair question, if he hadn’t been ordered to do it he honestly wouldn’t have. “The Council has deemed the Human fit to be a Spectre Candidate and I am going to be judging her to see if she will fit the build. If I had it my way someone else would take the thing like Nihlus but for some Spirits forsaken reason they have chosen me. I will explain more when the rest of the crew arrives. Inform them that they will be needed back at 0800 tomorrow morning for debrief.” Saren said as they got on the elevator and head to the Med-bay. Even though he had asked Egnaso to message the Doctor, he knew that Receculus would still be on board. He rarely left the ship even when giving shore leave, too busy focused on his work. The only time he left was to blow off steam or to get medical supplies.

As he exited the elevator he saw Receculus coming out of the med-bay. “Spectre, I hear that we will be having a Human female come aboard soon.” The Doctor said in his usual too cheerful voice.

Saren had to bite down on the growl that wanted to escape him at the sound of the Doctor’s voice. “Yes. I will have Gornius forward you any and all information that he can find on its mental and medical state as well as whatever the Alliance sends us. The moment it comes on board you will do your own full checkup and clear the Human for duty.” Saren could see the light dancing behind Receculus’s eyes and it bothered him. The male was too happy at the news for Saren’s liking but he kept his mouth shut. He didn’t need the Doctor trying to get into his psyche right now. He could inadvertently give away something that he didn’t want the Doctor to know.

Besides Egnaso, the Doctor had been with Saren the longest and even though the male was a master at what he did, Saren hated how happy he was at all times. There had been times when Saren had wanted to say to hell with it and kick the Doctor off his ship but he was the best and if he had to deal with an over happy Doctor to get the best… well there were worst things. Like marry a human, Saren thought

The Doctor gave Saren a look that meant he was being evaluated and Saren didn’t like it. “You called the Human, it several of times in such a small amount of time; is having her aboard going to be a problem?” The Doctor said as his undertones came through with mocking amusement.

Saren growled at the comment. “No! Now make sure you have everything prepared for the Human’s arrival.” He said giving the Doctor a menacing stare that even the Doctor would recognize not to mess with him right now.

“Of course, Spectre.” Receculus replied and headed back to the med-bay with a barely contained smile.

Saren decided he needed a cup of kava to relax as he waited for Gornius and Macnis to arrive back on the ship. He had already received the data transfer from the Alliance on the Human and decided that as he waited he might as well start with what he had. After about 20 minutes of reading he found that most of the information was useless since 90 percent was classified and redacted. No matter, when Gornius got here it wouldn’t matter what the Alliance was hiding; he would break into the Alliances database and get the information he needed under Spectre Authority. It was amusing to think that the Alliance thought that he would go by just what they sent him.

As he was about to read into the Humans Pre-Alliance life Gornius and Macnis exited the elevator. “Good, you’re here. Macnis I need you to make sure we have plenty Lavo food to last us three months stored on the ship, the Human is a biotic so keep that in mind. I would hate to be detoured on mission because the Human is going to die of starvation. Gornius, I need you to do a full sweep of Commander Isabelle Shepard’s history from birth all the way to present day. What the Human military sent is pitiful. Most of the reports are redacted and her pre-military service is only a half a page long. I have yet to read it but it clearly isn’t much.” He said angrily. The Human’s sent nothing helpful except her medical file which he would leave for the Doctor to read and inform him of what he needed to know.

“Yes Spectre.” Both males said as Saren headed to the elevator.

Saren needed to escape to the solitude of his room so he could process the day’s events and read whatever Gornius found. Gornius was one of the best information brokers that he had ever known and he would work quickly to get the information. Saren knew that by the time he got to his cabin and changed out of his armor that Gornius would have some information waiting for him.

The next several hours passed quickly as Saren was given file after file of information regarding the Human. He read every mission report watched several hard suit cams from the Human in question and had to admit that he had underestimated the Human. She had completed multiple missions that he would even deem Spectre worthy even though it had taken her longer to complete then it would have taken him but the Human managed to complete them nonetheless. He was even given information pertaining to her ground crew. All of them were deemed unfit it seemed by the rest of the Human military but seemed to thrive under the Human’s command which spoke volumes to the leadership skills the Human had.

However, after looking through all the information he had been sent he hadn’t received any more information to the Human’s pre-military career. That’s odd; normally I would have more information by now. Saren thought as he got up and walked to the door to his cabin. He was going to have to see what was hindering Gornius, he would hate to have to get rid of the young Turian but Saren expected the best out of his people and right now he wasn’t in the mood to wait.

“Gornius! Where is the rest of the background on the Human!?” He demanded as he exited the elevator onto the CIC.

Gornius was sitting over his monitor like normal but seemed to be frustrated over something. This gave Saren pause since he had never seen the Turian look so frazzled over anything.

“Sorry, Sir. I seem to have a problem with the Commander’s pre-military life. I have information from birth to the age of 7 and then nothing until she shows up 9 years later at the age of 16. It’s really confusing. It seems no one, including the Commander herself, knows what happened between those years. It says here that she suffered some sort of event causing her not to remember according to medical records.” Gornius reports as he types furiously, trying to find more information.

Saren stared at the young male disbelieving. “You can’t honestly tell me that there is no information on her for 9 years. No one can just disappear.” Saren said as he crossed his arms.

“I know but there is nothing. Not even a security vid picked her up until she showed at an orphanage at the age of 16.” Gornius said as he sifted through lines and lines of data.

Saren pondered this before replying. “What do you have so far?” He asked. He would read the full report later but since he was here he could have the Corporal give him an informal report.

Gornius paused in his hunt for new data and brought up what he had so far. “The Commander was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 11, 2147. Her parents were Hannah and Liam Shepard. Both parents were extremely high ranking in their field; Hannah was a Captain in Alliance until she became pregnant and decided to leave the Alliance to join the Cambridge City police department as a Captain there. Liam was a top geneticist and worked as a Professor and researcher at Harvard University. Once Isabelle was born they had what seems to be a typical human life until June of 2154 where the family goes missing. It took only a couple of days until Hannah and Liam were found dead in their car with Isabelle still missing. They searched for her for months but eventually the case went to cold files and didn’t reopen until she showed up at the orphanage in Seattle, Washington in September 2170. She told the police and psychiatrists that she had no memory of the last 9 years and after several months of therapy they agreed that even if she did have memories of her missing time, she wasn’t going to share them.” Gornius listed as he scrolled through the information.

Saren had been listening intently to what the Corporal was telling him but he had still heard when Nihlus as he joined them. Nihlus had heard most of the conversation and he knew there was no way that they were going to figure out that missing 9 years without the Human telling them herself. She played that time of her life close to the chest so to find it out any other way would be a miracle.

“Where have you been, Nihlus?” Saren asked as he continued to mull over the information.

Nihlus was leaning against CIC console with his arms crossed studying Saren. “Helping Shepard collect her gear and took her to the Spectres office to get her some of the equipment she would need. I figured it would save you time and it would give you less to worry about.” Nihlus replied, clearly trying to gauge Saren’s reaction.

Saren huffed at that but he was glad that it was one more thing off his list. “And?” He asked.

Nihlus seemed to fidget a bit under Saren’s stare before answering. “She seems to be a ‘in your face’ kind of fighter, which makes sense since she is trained as a vanguard. Her sharp shooting is deplorable but it seems more because she doesn’t like the weapon then her actual ability. In one hour of working with her I helped improve her shot by 10 percent and that wasn’t even hard work. Other than that, she seems capable with all other weapons. She seems to like her heavy weapons most though so be mindful of that. As far as her personality goes, I like her but you two are going to have differing opinions quite a lot.” Nihlus chuckled as Saren growled in annoyance.

“It will be good for you my friend.” He said as he stepped forward and slapped Saren’s shoulder. “She will be a good addition to the team you have here but I will warn you she is very close to Anderson so don’t do anything stupid.” Saren snarled at the comment. He never did anything stupid. He planned everything and everything has risks; even if the odds were not good he never did anything without thinking it through first.

Nihlus laughed. “Don’t be like that; you and I both know your people skills are not the best when it comes to Humans.”

“Yes, thank you Nihlus.” Saren said as his duel voices sent out a warning to his friend to back off.

Nihlus hummed in acknowledgement before continuing with the information that he had gathered while with the Human. “Shepard is fiercely loyal and protective of her crew and anyone that she deems worthy. I believe that once she considers you worth her efforts she would do almost anything for you.” Nihlus said almost in awe.

Saren shook his head. Humans, b eing overly emotionally involved with people , Saren thought. He would have to break her of that if she were to become a Spectre. Spectre should have one loyalty and that is to the Council and the greater good of the galaxy. “And what of the missing years? Did the Human mention anything about that?” Saren asked. He didn’t like that he didn’t have all of the information on the Human and since it seemed that Gornius wasn’t likely to find anything more, Nihlus would have to do.

“No, only that there are only three people in the galaxy that know the story and only one that knows the full story and don’t expect answers out of them. They all are close to Shepard and would never betray her. Anderson and Hackett would be impossible to crack anyway given your history and the other… well let’s just say that Jack will take Shepard’s secret to the grave.” Nihlus told him giving him a knowing look.

Saren huffed. No torturing it out of someone then, he thought. The Captain and Admiral would be hard to crack and would more than likely start another war which is what this whole joke was supposed to be avoiding; and if Nihlus was right about this Jack person taking the secret to the grave than there was nothing for it. He would have to trick the Human into giving up the information.

Saren bowed his head at his friend. “Thank you, Nihlus. You have given me much to think about.” Nihlus bowed his head in return before bidding his farewell.

Saren spent the rest of the evening going over the information that Gornius could dig up. He had received messages from both the Doctor and Sargent with a list of the items that would need to be shipped to the ship. After looking them over he decided that he would have to have a chat with the Doctor about some of the things that would be needed. He wasn’t sure what Tampons were or why they would need so many but if they weren’t an absolutely necessity then they would have to go. The cost of them was deplorable.

The next morning came quicker than Saren would have liked; he maybe got 2 hours of uneasy sleep. He was dreading having to meet back with the Council to discuss the ‘wedding’ and what would all be involved. He hoped that the matter wouldn’t take too long. He had missions already picked out that would be good to test the Human and had already started to set up some faults missions to test her reaction to certain situations. He was also dreading telling his crew about the arrangement. He wasn’t sure where his crew stood on the Human/Turian relations and he didn’t want it to cause unnecessary problems.

Saren took a look at the clock and saw that it was already 0730. I must have stayed up later than I had intended, he thought as he got onto the elevator to take him to the crew deck. After the lack of sleep, he would need some kava to help wake him up. He was surprised to find that the entire crew plus Nihlus were already on ship and sitting around the mess. Nihlus handed him a steaming cup of said kava and Saren hummed his thanks.

After taking a moment to enjoy the burning liquid, it was time to let the crew know what was happening. “As I am sure you all know by now a Human will be joining the crew within the next few days.” He said holding back the snarl that wanted to make its way out. “I will not tolerate any whining or complaining in this matter. It is not my choice to have the Human here but the Councils, if it were up to me someone else would deal with the vermin but the Council has put this punishment on me.” Saren stopped there as the group heard Nihlus’s opinion cut through the room.

“Watch yourself, Saren. You don’t know her and from the time I have spent with her I would consider her a friend.” Nihlus warned.

Saren huffed but didn’t say anything. He knew Nihlus wouldn’t stand for insults towards people he considered friends so Saren pushed on, trying to keep himself from showing more disgust. “Now that is not all. The Human female and I have been chosen to be made examples of. We are to become a married couple, a Human term similar to being a bonded pair. I believe neither of us are happy about the arrangement but the Council and our respective governments have already put the plans in motion.” Saren could hear the shocked, disgusted and surprised hums that filled the room.

Egnaso gave his commanding officer a scrutinizing gaze to see if he could somehow aid his fellow Turian. Egnaso considered Saren a friend and was scandalized that the Council would force such a thing. Did they not know of Saren’s opinion of humans? They probably do and that’s why they choose him, Egnaso thought. Even though he had been with Saren from the beginning it was still hard for the Lieutenant to read Saren most of the time. The fact that he was so good at suppressing his sub vocals was always annoying to him but also very impressive. The control one must have to do it spoke volumes to who Saren was.

“Now, if you cannot deal with having to work with a Human then you are free to leave. I will not ask anyone to stay even though I must suffer through, you are free to choose. The Human will be treated as a trainee until I say otherwise but if it completes training it will become one of the highest in rank on the ship so you may have to take orders from it.” Saren continued hoping that no one would leave. He finally found a crew that seemed to want to stick around and if the Human ruined that, he would not be pleased.

Saren saw Nihlus shake his head. “ Its name is Commander Isabelle Shepard and she will more than likely hate being called Human and it. I suggest that you stop using them now.”

Saren had to suppress the urge to growl in annoyance at his fellow Spectre but he did have a point. Not that Saren had to like it but since he would be stuck with the Human either way he should at least start using terminology he wouldn’t use on a varren. “Very well.” He said as he turned back to the rest of the group. “If anyone is uncomfortable with taking orders from the Human Commander, let Egnaso know and we will arrange to have you moved out in the next couple of days. Now if there are no questions I have duties waiting you all at your stations.” Saren waited a moment and when no one said anything he dismissed them and signaled Nihlus to join him.

“Nihlus, I wasn’t expecting you here this morning.” Saren stated knowing that Nihlus would answer the unasked question.

“Yes.” He replied. “I have been ordered to join you in the meeting again today. Also as your friend I wanted to see how you were handling the situation.”

Saren scoffed at that. “I am perfectly capable at handling the situation Nihlus. It may be unpleasant but it will not kill me.” Saren replies shortly.

Nihlus gave Saren a scrutinizing look and apparently was satisfied with what he saw because he just bowed his head. “Fair enough.” After that was settled Saren went over everything he had found out about the Human and asked what Nihlus knew of the species since Nihlus had been on more missions involving Humans.

They spent most of the morning discussing what they knew and when it was time to leave Saren felt slightly better now knowing the Human a bit better. It still bothered him that there were 9 years of her life unaccounted for but as of right now there was nothing he could do.

When Saren and Nihlus arrived at the tower, they were met by an Asari, more than likely one of the Councillors secretary’s, who lead them to one of the Council rooms. When they walked into the room it was evident the amount of tension that was there. The only other people in the room where Captain Anderson, some other Human that Saren didn’t know and Commander Shepard, leaving Nihlus to be the buffer.

“Hello Captain, Lieutenant, Shepard. I hope you are well.” Nihlus said as he reached out and shook all three of their hands.

“We are, thank you Nihlus.” Anderson replied the strain in his voice a clear indicator that he was trying not to start something with Saren. Not that Saren would have cared but it seemed like Shepard was the one who wanted peace.

Shepard gave Nihlus a crooked smile as she looked at him. “Jack was wondering if you would marry her so she could get some new guns as well.” She said with what Saren thought was a playful banter.

Nihlus sent out a teasing trill with his reply. “Oh, is that so?”

Jack, or who he assumed was Jack, gave him a look that even Saren could tell was checking him out. “Well I mean the sex would probably be worth it too.” Jack replied causing Saren to start.

Nihlus gave a full-on laugh at that. “Oh, I’m sure we would have some fun but I must decline your offer. I think one wedding is enough for right now.”

Jack didn’t seem to upset about the whole situation. “Your loss.” She said before looking at Saren giving him the same once over. Saren was never one to feel squirmish but he didn’t like the feeling that this Human was giving him but he didn’t show it. He was Saren Arterius; he would not let some Human make him feel uncomfortable.

She finally turned away to face Shepard and whispered something that even his superior hearing couldn’t pick up. He was annoyed that he couldn’t hear since they were clearly talking about him since Shepard looked at him, laughed and then proceeded to punch Jack in the shoulder while a red flush came to her face. He wasn’t sure what the colour change meant but he didn’t like it.

If this was what it was going to be like around the Human he was very sure he was going to hate it.

Chapter Text

“Well, he looks fuckable.” Jack whispered quietly into Izzy’s ear.

Izzy couldn’t help the blush that crept up her face as she looked over at the Spectre on the other side of the room. Yes, he was good looking but it didn’t help that the good-looking shell came with an asshole filling. Arterius had strikingly blue cybernetic eyes with pale gray almost white plates and unlike any other Turian she had seen, he had fringe coming from his cheeks. It definitely was a striking look.

Izzy laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of the comment. “Jack.” Was all she could say in reply as she punched her in the shoulder. Of course, that would be the first thing her friend would say about her future husband. Izzy really hoped that both Spectres didn’t notice her blush and Anderson was too busy trying to behave to notice.

Jack laughed and gave her a playful wink before turning and looking at the two Spectres again. Well, I guess it’s now or never. Izzy thought as she decided that she should probably officially meet her future partner. She took in a deep breath and moved across the room towards Arterius. She couldn’t help feel the mood in the room shift. She could feel Jack and Nihlus both ready themselves just in case things got ugly and she could feel Anderson stiffen as if he wanted to pull her back. Arterius, however, just continued to glare daggers at her.

Izzy wasn’t really sure what Arterius’s deal was with Humans but she decided that the best course of action would be to be respectful. He was a Spectre after all. “Spectre Arterius.” She said as she bowed her head in a way she had seen Turians do. “I know that this whole situation was the Council’s and our governments’ way to hopefully bring peace to our people. I hope that you know that I have no ill will towards you and hope that you will see me and Humanity worthy of the chances we have been give. I also want to thank you now for any and all advice you give me. Even if you do not see me being worthy of becoming a Specter-” Izzy heard Anderson’s grunt of disapproval and paused to level him with a stare she knew would stop him from saying anything. When it was clear he wouldn’t interrupt, she continued. “-whatever you teach me will be applied in my life as an Alliance soldier.”

The Spectre stared at her for a few moments as if weighing her words before giving the smallest of nods. She couldn’t help the smile that came across her face at the small victory but it was a victory nonetheless. “Spectre I would also like to introduce you to Lieutenant Nought who wasn’t with us yesterday. She is one of the best biotics you will ever meet and a close friend. After yesterdays… conflict between yourself and Anderson, I thought it best if the person here to support me didn’t have bad blood with you.”

“Isabelle!” Anderson sighed exasperatedly.

Izzy turned and looked at her de facto father and replied in a chastising tone. “Hey, you really weren’t much support after yesterday’s cluster fuck of a meeting now where you?” She said as she dropped into her thug pose. Before Anderson could even attempt to reply Arterius spoke up.

“Language.” He said and after a very pointed look and growls from Nihlus he added a simple “please.”

Izzy and Jack shared quick look before Izzy replied. “Of course, my apologies Spectre” she then turned back to Anderson who seemed a bit thrown by the interaction but before anything else could be said the Council along with Primarch Fedorian, General Victus, Ambassador Udina and Admiral Hackett all entered the room.

No one seemed surprised that there was technically being an extra human in the room but it defiantly did not go unnoticed. “I see we have another Human with us, would you care to explain Ambassador?” Councillor Tevos asked as everyone took their seats.

Izzy could see the Ambassador ready to speak and thought it best that she explains. The Ambassador had no idea and would more than likely try and have Jack removed which would be bad for his health. “Councillor, this is my doing I’m afraid. After the events of yesterday I thought that having the extra support would be nice since the person who is supposed to support me has… shall we say a past with my future husband. The Lieutenant is one of my closest personal friends and with the Captain being my mentor I would like them both to stay if possible.”

After a moment of silence, it was Nihlus who spoke up. “I don’t think that should be a problem, you are the bride after all. I think that you can be given some leeway, don’t you all agree?” He asked the room. It looked like Councillor Sparatus wanted to disagree but everyone else nodded in silent agreement so he held his tongue.

“The Lieutenant can stay as long as she doesn’t disrupt the meeting.” Tevos said as she looked at the Human female that seemed to have art all over her body including on her head where most Humans had hair. The hair this Human had seemed to be really short everywhere but on the very top of her head where it was longer and held back in what Tevos was sure was called a ponytail.

Jack nodded at the Councillors in silent acceptance to the terms but if Izzy gave any signal she would tear this place apart. She didn’t care if it leaded to war; Izzy was worth following into hell.

“Good. Now to the point of this meeting; we are here today to let you know how the wedding will take place. It will be a small ceremony with only the family and dignitaries invited. There will be a recording made so that the public can get a small preview of what went down and also a copy made so if family cannot make it they can watch it afterwards. The ceremony will be a mix of Human and Turian aspects and will take place here on the Citadel in one week's’ time.” Tevos informed them. Everyone seemed to be focused on what the Councillor was saying so when Jack reached under the table to grab Izzy’s hand she almost jumped.

Jack knew that Izzy had planned her wedding when she was a little girl. The plan had changed many times but one thing remained the same. The location. She always wanted to get married on Spectacle Island, the same place her parents had been married. She remembered small things about her parents but what she remembered most was how much they loved each other. Even at a young age she could see the way they looked at each other, the way they seemed to gravitate towards one and other. When Izzy had been with him she stopped believing in such things as love. He had said he loved her over and over and by the time she had gotten away her views on love had changed. She knew what her parents had had been a rare thing but still... Spectacle Island was in her heart and even though it was a sham wedding at least her parents would have been a part of the day.

Jack gave her had a comforting squeeze as they to listen to Sparatus take over and continue to explain what was to be done. “Commander, we have heard that it is something of a ‘big deal’ to humans to choose your dress for the occasion so the Council will allow you to go shopping for one. There are some rules that will have to be followed but overall it will be your choice.” He said sounding as if was ridiculous for her to want to choose the dress she will be wearing.

“Once the ceremony is over there will be a quick reception. After that you will have a few hours of leave before you can start on any missions. Saren, I believe that you have an apartment here on the Citadel.” Valern said as more of a statement then question but Arterius acknowledge the statement anyways. “If it is big enough the Council would like to compensate you on your rent. If not, then the Council will gladly help you purchase a new one.”

Apparently, Arterius didn’t like the sound of either option. Izzy along with everyone else could hear the rumbling coming from him and after a few moments the other Turians in the room seemed to join. Izzy was very confused as to what was happening but eventually Nihlus gave a louder growl over everyone else and Arterius let out a huff of exasperation. “Fine, my current apartment will work.” He growled out.

Izzy and Jack shared another look and she could feel Jack’s hand squeeze again letting her know that if Izzy wanted, she had back up. The Council and the other politicians seemed to accept this and moved on. On her other side, Izzy could feel how tense Anderson was. She could tell that he was trying not to demand that they chose someone else for the job and was also trying not to be offended on her behalf with the behaviour that everyone was showing towards her. Izzy gave him a small nudge under the table which seemed to relive some of his tension. He gave her a quick sideways glance and then went back to listening.

“You two will remain married. There will be no divorce which seems to be common among humans, or so I have heard, but you will not be required to bond.” Tevos was saying until Arterius couldn’t take it anymore.

“What!? This is absurd.” He growled as he started to stand.

Apparently the Turian Councillor had had enough of Arterius’s outbursts because he stood and marched up to the Spectre unafraid. “This is for the good of our people Arterius. Surely you can handle being a proper Turian for once and sacrifice a bit of yourself for your people and the galaxy at large. I would hate to have to revoke your Spectre title and have you hunted down for going rogue.”

That seemed to stop Arterius in his tracks. Izzy could see the debate he was having with himself; one side wanting to say to hell with it but the other wanting to serve the galactic community. She knew just how he felt.

“It will only be a human marriage, Saren. No bonding of any sort.” The Primarch said as if amused with the whole display.

Izzy felt Jack shift beside her before she spoke. “Um… for the Humans in the room… Bonding?” Jack looked around the room as everyone looked at her. She didn’t really give a fuck what any of them thought about her; she just wanted to know what her best friend was or wasn’t getting into.

To everyone’s surprise it was Izzy that answered her. “Well when we Humans get married we have the ability to get divorced. However, bonding is different. There is a hormonal change that happens in the body of a bonded Turian that let’s others know they are off the market. Bonding is for life, like eagles or swans. If their bond-mate were to die they wouldn’t move on. Well from what I gathered anyway.” Izzy said as she turned to look at Nihlus. “Did I miss anything?” She asked.

Nihlus’s mandibles gave a small flutter before he answered. “That is pretty close for, what did you say yesterday? Scratching the surface? It is more involved than that and I’m not sure what an eagle or swan is but it sounds similar enough.”

Jack gave Izzy a look that Izzy knew all too well. “What? I couldn’t sleep last night so I did some research. You know me.” Izzy said giving Jack look that they had shared so many times that it was hard not to laugh. Jack, Hackett and Anderson all knew that when Izzy couldn’t sleep she would throw herself into work, whether it be mission reports, research, weapons training, anything that would help give her an edge in battle or in situations like this where she wasn’t the most qualified to answers but she still wanted a basic grasp on the situation.

Other than the three Humans that knew her well, Udina was sitting looking smug as if he was the one who knew the information and the others were all studying her. Evidently, she had surprised them.

For the rest of the meeting things went smoothly. There were no more outbursts from anyone and after all was said and done they had a plan.

Izzy was to marry in one week's’ time and she had a lot to do before then. Once they were dismissed, Udina ordered her to go find her dress which was amusing that he thought he could do such a thing but Hackett was behind him and nodded to her so she would do it without fuss. She was going to be allowed one bridesmaid which was obvious to everyone that Jack would take that roll so the two set off to try and find something to wear.

It didn’t surprise Izzy in the least the moment that Jack and she got into the elevator Kasumi appeared behind them. “Well that was interesting, Shep. You seem to be taking things better than your fiancé.” She said causing Jack to jump.

“Damn girly, stop doing that!” Jack said clutching her heart as the elevator started to move.

Both Izzy and Kasumi chuckled a little at Jack’s expense but when she recovered Izzy told them the truth. “Actually, I don’t think I am. He may be showing it a bit more on the outside but I am struggling. I would like to rage, flip tables, storm around and have a tantrum but I know it’s not going to get me anywhere.” She said, more trying to convince herself then the other two. “Anyway, it may be a shitty deal but hey, now we get to go dress shopping. I’ll message Williams and have her meet us at Niryx’s store. I’m sure the Asari will have something and if not, maybe she will know where else we could look.” She said trying to stay positive; one foot in front of the other like she had been doing all her life.

Izzy needn’t have worried, Niryx had a massive selection of not only dresses but Human wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses. When the three got to the store, Ashley was already waiting outside for them. She was wondering why she was asked there but the moment dress shopping was mentioned all four girls went from being hardened soldiers to teens picking out prom dresses in less than 5 seconds. Even if a sham wedding dress shopping was still dress shopping.

When the women entered the store Niryx rushed over to see what had brought them there. Once Izzy explained what her and Jack needed Niryx started pulling dress after dress. She assured them that the she would be able to get any dress they choose altered and ready for the event. First, they picked Jack’s dress, mostly because Jack could see that Izzy needed a pick me up and the best way to do that was to see Jack in a bunch of ridiculous dresses.

Choosing the right dress for both of them took longer than anyone had thought. Izzy’s took even longer because there were certain things that had to be avoided. She was not allowed any blue since that was the Arterius clan colours, which was easy since blue wasn’t a wedding dress colour anyway. She wasn’t allowed to show any of her tattoos which eliminated half of the Asari style dresses with cut outs at the waist and it wasn’t allowed to be puffy, which Izzy didn’t want anyway. But in the end, they were able to find two dresses that would be perfect.

The next week was a blur, with all the meetings and discussions about the wedding Izzy barely had a moment to herself. In all honestly, she hadn’t even had real time to comprehend what was happening. Yes, she knew that she was getting married and bluh bluh bluh but it really had yet to sink in. Even at night she wasn’t alone. Jack, Kasumi and Ashley had all but moved into her room since the story broke. There were reporters everywhere and angry voices could be heard on both sides from civilians. Most would only throw insults but after an angry Turian had made it all the way to her hotel room door the Alliance decided that someone had to be with her at all times.

Nihlus had also become a glorified guard, escorting her everywhere she went as well. Any Turian that had gotten within 20 feet of her since Nihlus had started escorting her would automatically turn and walk away. Clearly, there was something happening there that Izzy couldn’t quite understand, not that she minded, she just wished she could use the same tactic on the Humans and reporters.

On the morning of the wedding she was roused by all three of her friends storming into her room and jumping on her bed. Even though it was an arranged marriage there was still something in the air that weddings tend to bring; the excitement, anticipation and of course nerves. Izzy was nervous like most brides but she was more worried about tripping and falling in front of all the cameras then she was the wedding itself. Most brides worried about the groom and if it was the right choice, not Izzy since she knew that this was the only choice.

Izzy was exhausted, however. She hadn’t been able to sleep so she had spent most of the night cycle on the line with the orphanage back on Earth. It had been day there and like when she normally called everyone wanted to talk to her. First, with some of the staff until the kids found out then it was a flurry of different kids, Sally, John, Emily, Steven and on and on. She even got to talk with some of the newer additions and got updates on the kids that had left since her and Jack’s last call home. It had been nice and by the time the call ended Izzy was finally ready to sleep. Too bad that it was only 3 hours ago but Izzy was used to little rest, all she needed was coffee and she would be fine.

“Here.” Jack said as said coffee was handed to her. “I thought an Irish coffee was in order for this morning.” She said with a wink.

Izzy smiled back as Ashley gave a disapproving look. “You know that you aren’t supposed to have anything in your system before the wedding, right?”

“Fuck, Ash it’s just one Irish coffee. It’s not like we’re doing tequila shots.” Jack said rolling her eyes at the woman.

“You better get up and ready Shep. Niryx and the crew should be here soon to start getting you ready.” Kasumi said as she pulled Izzy from her bed, careful not to spill the coffee since there is nothing more sacrilegious than spilt coffee.

Kasumi had been right, Izzy was barely done brushing her teeth when Niryx came sweeping into the room. “Where is my beautiful bride? So much work and so little time. I have done my research and have a perfect hair style in mind and don’t worry Commander, I have made sure your signature lips are a feature for your makeup.” Niryx said as she ushered Izzy into a chair. Somehow over the last week Niryx and started calling the lipstick Izzy used her signature look. Izzy had never really thought about it but she did tend to wear the stuff most of the time.

Niryx spent the next three hours doing her hair. Jack had refused any help with her own hair but had to admit that Izzy’s hair was looking hot. First, the Asari added more curls to Izzy’s already curly hair then started to place what seemed like a million bobby pins everywhere. Jack was sure that a tornado could blow through and that hair wouldn’t fall out but it still looked loose and flowing at the same time. The last thing Niryx added was a gold Grecian style headband that brought the look together.

“You really did do your research. This hair with my dress… I’m pretty sure even Aphrodite would appreciate the look.” Izzy said as she checked herself out. She was pretty sure that Ashley and Kasumi had been snapping photos the entire time but honestly Izzy didn’t mind. She had to admit that she looked good.

“Well, I’m not sure who that is but I’ll take it as a compliment.” Niryx replied with kind smile.

The Humans all chuckled at that. “You should, Aphrodite is the Greek Goddess of love and beauty.” Kasumi said as took Izzy’s coffee mug away. “And no more of this for you, you’ll have to pee part way through the ceremony and that would be embarrassing.” She said as Izzy groaned.

“Pleeease! Just one more.” Izzy begged giving her best puppy dog eyes.

Jack laughed. “Fuck no, you heard the woman. Besides it’s makeup time.” She said as she sat down in a chair beside her. Jack had conceded that she needed help in the makeup department since she never wore the stuff.

Another two hours later and Jack and Izzy’s makeup was ready to go. While their makeup was being applied the food and arrived so the moment Niryx finished, both women dived right into the food. Thankfully the Asari was smart and didn’t apply the lipstick until after they had devoured their food and brushed their teeth.

Finally, it was time to get dressed. They still had 3 hours before they had to leave for the ceremony but Jack had ordered a photographer to take some photos of just Izzy and her team so they had to hurry so they could get all the photos done.

Jack’s dress was a simple black fitted floor length dress with no back showing most of her tattoos and a slit that ran up from the floor all the way up to just under her right hip. It was cut low in the front as well to show a bit of cleavage but not too much, Izzy knew that people were going to be upset enough as it was so there was no reason to add to the hysteria over not being modest.

Izzy’s dress was easily one of the most beautiful things she had ever worn. It was Grecian style with a sweetheart neckline that had a wrapping effect that stopped at her waist that had a nice beaded belt. The rest of the dress was form fitting as it fell to the floor showing off her figure. The at the top of the dress was about an inch of scrunched material to create straps that once swept over the shoulder dropped in the back to show most of her upper back and fell to the floor with a small train.

When Izzy stepped out of the bedroom the room went quiet. She hadn’t heard the door open when she was getting changed but now Jacob, James, Joker, Kaidan, Hackett and Anderson had joined them and everyone was staring at her.

Niryx was the first to talk as she moved forward excitedly. “You look so… oh what the words you Humans use… awe yes, breath taking.” She said as she handed Izzy some earrings.

Izzy could feel her cheeks flush as everyone moved into to get a better look and compliment her. Izzy hated being the center of attention but it was her wedding day so there was no helping the fact that people would be looking at her, good or bad she would have to deal with it.

Chapter Text

It took the rest of the time that they had left to spare for the group to get photos done. They had even been able to get a few shots with the team holding weapons which made Izzy extremely happy. Too soon it was time to head to the Hall of Spirits where the ceremony would take place. Since Izzy wasn’t a religious person she had agreed to have the wedding in the traditional Turian Hall with certain aspects that would be more to Arterius’s tastes. She knew that he probably didn’t really care since it was a sham wedding but if it made him more comfortable, it was fine with her.

The press was almost out of control but thankfully Kasumi was with them and had given Izzy a copy of her cloaking device so she was able to sneak in undetected. The moment she entered the Hall of Spirits she was ushered into one of the side rooms so that no one would see her. Even if it was a forced marriage Izzy still went with the old tradition of the bride and groom can’t see each other before the wedding. She knew that she wouldn’t get the reaction most brides got from their grooms but hopefully she wouldn’t look horrible to the other species that were in attendance.

“How are you feeling, Child?” Anderson asked as he came to stand beside her and Jack.

Izzy gave him a smile. “Oh, alright all things considered. He may not be my knight in shining armor but at least I look good.”

“Good!? Bitch you look smokin!” Jack said as she took a drink from the flask that she had somehow hidden within her dress along with her gun.

Izzy laughed. “Thanks, but how did you manage to get a flask in here? I mean my gun is holstered in the same place and I don’t think I could get a flask there.”

Jack just wiggled her eyebrows and gave her a wicked smirk. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” She said as she added a laugh of her own.

Anderson just shook his head at both women. Even though he was their Commanding Officer he saw these two women like daughters. When he had met them, they were quite a duo, unruly, outspoken with bad attitudes but he saw the raw potential in both of them and made it his duty to see that these two got what they wanted. He never imagined he would see them achieve so much so quickly but to see one of his girls being married to Saren was one of his worst nightmares but Isabelle was taking it well. He knew that she could handle anything thrown at her after what she had survived as a child but it still amazed him how well she was holding together.

“You look beautiful, Isabelle. Even though your husband may be a ruthless human hater, I know that you won’t let him change you.” He said offering her his arm.

Izzy placed her arm in his and gave him a bright smile. “You know I won’t… I’m too damn stubborn. And you look pretty handsome yourself.” She said as he smiled back.

Izzy could hear everyone out in the main hall and knew that it was only a matter of minutes before she would walk down the aisle so she took a moment to remember her parent’s happy smiling faces. She knew that her marriage wouldn’t be anything like her parents but she couldn’t help but wish that they were there and hoped that they were proud of her.

Izzy was so absorbed in thought she almost miss their que but thankfully Jack and Anderson were paying attention. As she entered the Hall, all Izzy could think was, please don’t fall; please don’t fall , as she placed a small smile on her face. While she made her way to the front she could see many emotions that were playing across the faces of the people in attendance. If Izzy was a guessing person she would say that most people in attendance were seeing it as more of a funeral than a wedding.

Izzy could see her crew along with a few other Alliance personnel that she knew on her side of the room while on the other there was a group of Turians at the front, who she assumed must be Arterius family, and a bunch of Asari and Salarians. Probably other Spectres , Izzy thought as she continued to the front with Anderson.

The tension in Anderson kept getting stronger the closer they got to the front so Izzy gave his arm a light squeeze just to let him knew that she was alright. She saw the corn of his mouth lift a little at the contact and some of the tension drained out of him. Once she was sure he was fine she finally let her eyes go to the front of the room were Arterius and Nihlus were standing. She couldn’t help that her smile got a bit brighter at the ridiculous grin that was plastered on Nihlus’s face but she managed to bite back the laugh that wanted to spill from her lips.

It didn’t surprise her that Arterius wasn’t happy to see her but what did surprise her was the lack of any emotion at all. It was like when she put on her Alliance face and the women inside disappeared until the mission was over and she was back in her own room. He looked quite striking in his suit but his blue glowing eyes were slightly unnerving. She didn’t flinch at the hard look in his eyes but she couldn’t help the sadness that was probably shining though hers.

As they reached the front of the room Anderson took both Izzy’s hands in his and gave her a fatherly peck on her cheek before turning and begrudgingly offered her hands to Arterius. The Turian took her hands and to the outside observer it wouldn’t look that bad but Izzy could feel the tension and knew that he wanted to rip his hands from her grasp but his sense of duty kept him in check just like her.

Izzy could see Nihlus slightly around Arterius and he gave her what looked like an attempt at a wink which made her again want to laugh and then she realized that was what he was wanting. He was trying to help her cope with what was happening and the only way he could do that was to try and make her laugh. Ass, she thought as she and Arterius turned to face the Salarian that was to do the ‘honors’ of marrying them.

She had to admit that if this wedding was between two people who loved each other it would have been a beautiful ceremony. The ceremony was similar in most parts to a normal human wedding with some Turian aspects added in. Izzy’s favorite Turian tradition was the ‘Land of a New Life’ where she was giving a cup full of dirt from the orphanage she grew up and mixed it with layers of sand from the Arterius’s home on Palaven. Izzy had to admit that the jar that held the sand and earth looked beautiful mixed together and couldn’t help the small smile as she looked at it. The next part was supposed to consist of Izzy getting the Arterius family markings but after careful consideration she decided that she would not get the markings herself just like Arterius. The meaning behind the markings of family first was nice but she knew that for her, the galaxy would have to come first; even though she was a ‘family’ person the galaxy at large had to come before her personal feelings, hence the wedding. She also felt that Humans would no longer respect her and if she was supposed to be doing this for humanity she should not take Turian markings.

Next came the Human part Izzy had insisted that it was a part of the ceremony which was the ‘handfastening/tying the knot’ tradition that was a part of her parents wedding. Izzy and Arterius held hands while a piece of fine Asari silk ribbon was wrapped around their hands then tied in a knot to symbolise that their lives were now bound together. The symbol only temporary but one that she wanted to have, it was complete when they slipped on their wedding bands. They were both simple smooth bands but they were made of a type of metallic that was found on Palaven, it was blue in colour and beautiful.

Once they had finished tying the knot the Salarian announced that they were now a wed couple and to seal the deal in Turian tradition of touching foreheads. Arterius bend his head down and pressed his forehead to hers before quickly retreating. Izzy wasn’t quite sure what the gesture meant but assumed it was something along the lines of ‘kiss the bride’.

From the ceremony, they moved to a banquet hall that was attached to the Hall of Spirits so thankfully they didn’t have to deal with the press quite yet. The banquet hall was decorated beautifully with hints of blue and gold everywhere. Blue to represent the Arterius family colours and gold because Izzy loved the look of the two colours together, of course she didn’t tell the Council that but it was the reason she had chosen it.

Arterius and Izzy were the first in the hall along with Jack and Nihlus because they had to partake in the Turian tradition of personally greeting and thanking everyone who had come to ‘celebrate’ their love. It was very similar to the Human tradition of a receiving line.

First to be greeted was the ‘family’ of the bride which included Anderson, Hackett, Kahlee Sanders, Karin Chakwas and her misfits. Izzy was happy that she was allowed to make them her family because if not then no one would have been there for her and that would have been a very depressing thought.

Anderson held out his hand stiffly to Arterius who glared intently at him but took his hand because everyone was watching. “Congratulations on your union.” Anderson bit out in a stiff and very false happy tone. “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you myself.” He whispered only loud enough for the couple to hear along with Nihlus and Jack.

“Get in line.” Jack muttered right after in the same quiet tone.

Arterius didn’t say anything, nor did his expression change and if Izzy didn’t know better she would have thought he hadn’t heard the two threatening him.

Anderson then moved to Izzy and gave her a big hug which she was sure was more to reassure himself than her at this point. “You look stunning, Child.” He said softly as he stepped back with a smile on his face as he ignored her husband to her left.

She smiled at him and thanked him as Hackett moved in to congratulate them. Arterius wasn’t nearly as hostile to Hackett as he had been to Anderson but if she was a betting person, it was because Hackett not only didn’t have previous history with the Turian but Hackett was a highly ranked Military war hero that even the Specter couldn’t deny.

Her crew followed and they all gave Arterius looks that she knew was there ‘you hurt her, I’ll kill you’ looks which apparently everyone decided to give him. Joker was her favourite because he said it out loud for everyone to hear which seemed to amuse the Spectre. Izzy gave Joker a huge hug after that and told him to take care of himself and not to download too much porn to which he then blushed and hobbled away as Izzy chuckled. When it was Kaidan’s turn something strange happened because not only did Arterius straighten and give off an even more threatening glare but Nihlus did as well and let out a low growl. If it wasn’t for Izzy’s augmented hearing she didn’t think she would have heard it and it seemed that both Kaidan and Jack couldn’t.

After that came Arterius’s family. His father, mother and grandmother were introduced to her and she could tell that only the Arterius’s grandmother didn’t share her family’s opinion on Humans as she gave Izzy a hug and touched foreheads with her.

“Don’t mind them, love. They just have sticks up their asses.” Tulia Arterius said as her son and daughter-in-law talked with their son.

Izzy let out a startled laugh as the other three Turians huffed and Laso Arterius, Arterius’s father, turned to the older Turian. “Mother, this Human isn’t worth your time. It’s an arranged marriage and it’s not likely we will have to… deal with the creature outside of public events.” He said, his voice dripping disdain.

Tulia turned to her son and growled low causing the male to step back. “You watch what you say about my granddaughter or so help me I’ll rip that stick from your ass and beat you with it.” She said. At that moment Izzy knew exactly where Arterius got his glare from. If looks could kill, Laso would no longer exist in any dimension let alone this one.

Valeria Arterius, Arterius mother, seemed to be on the fence on how to feel about Izzy and she couldn’t blame the female. When both your son and husband have strong opinions on something one generally didn’t go against family. This, however, didn’t seem to matter to Tulia and Izzy had the distinct feeling that was a similarity between the two specie, grandmothers didn’t give a shit. They spoke their minds.

Tulia turned back to Izzy and gave her a big smile. “Even though my son and grandson are being disappointingly xenophobic just know that I welcome you to the family. I know that this wasn’t your idea but know that you can count on me.” She said and Izzy could feel the warmth in her heart for the female in front of her. She had never felt so instantly wanted by someone that she almost cried but knew better then to show such weakness so instead she bowed her head and thanked the female as others now started to pass by.

The rest of their guests took less time than the families and soon it was time to eat. The food was amazing, well for the Humans anyway, the entire meal was the same quality as a 5-star restaurant on earth which was saying something since getting Earth products on the Citadel was hard and very pricy.

Next came the speeches but unlike at Human weddings where it was your maid of honor and best man it was the Primarch and Admiral Hackett and instead of the parents it was Councillor Sparatus and Ambassador Udina. Izzy wanted to slap the Ambassador in the face. She had only known the man a little over a week but in that week she learned that Humanities representative a complete and total idiot who only cared about himself and not Humanity.

Once the speeches were over it was time to socialize. That was the most disappointing thing Izzy found when planning the wedding, there was no dance. Not that she really cared about the first dance with Arterius but she really wanted the father-daughter dance along with all the other corny dance songs that generally came with weddings.

The moment that the socializing hour started Arterius got up and left without a look back so Izzy turned to both Nihlus and Jack. “So, shall we go get some drinks?” Izzy asked as she started to stand.

“Fuck yes; my flask was finished before the Councillor started speaking.” Jack said as she grabbed Izzy by the hand and led her to the bar with Nihlus following.

They placed their order with the bartender when Izzy decided to ask Nihlus something that had been bothering her. “Nihlus?”


“Why was it when Alenko came up to meet us after the ceremony you growled at him and both you and Arterius straitened your stances as if ready to fight?” Izzy asked wanting to understand what was going on.

Nihlus looked a bit startled for a moment before replying. “You heard that? I didn’t think Humans could hear that well.”

“Most can’t but I got my hearing enhanced during ICT.” Izzy said as she took her drink from the Asari behind the bar.

Nihlus looked thoughtful for a moment before he replied. “The male had a scent about him. He wants to mate with you but there was a foul scent added. If he was Turian it would have almost been a claiming sent, like he thinks you are his. With him being human though, who knows? It just set our natural instincts off, Saren is just better at masking his sub vocals then I am.” Nihlus informed her.

Really!? I thought he would have gotten the point but maybe I have to talk to him again. Izzy thought exasperated. He had no claim to her at all and if he thought he did then he was crazy. Izzy let out a sigh before responding. “I thought I made it clear that I wasn’t interested but I guess I’m going to have to spell it out for him and if that doesn’t work I’ll report him to the Admiral. This has gotten ridiculous.” She said as she turned to Jack. “Have I said or done anything that would warrant this behaviour?”

Jack reflected on what she had seen of the two interacting and she had to admit that nothing stood out. She treaded Alenko the same as she did James or Jacob, yeah there was some random flirting but that was just how the group was and it was with everyone. Nothing had ever been said or done to provoke that kind of response and Izzy told Jack everything so she knew that she wasn’t missing anything.

“No. The guy is just being a Dick. Leave it alone, you’re going to be gone with Spectre stick up his ass for god knows how long. It shouldn’t be a problem.” Jack replied.

Izzy thought on that. She had a point; Izzy wouldn’t be around the man for months after today so it really shouldn’t be a problem. “Alright, you have a point.” She said as they looked out at the crowd that had come for the wedding. Most of the people seemed comfortable to mingle with everyone in the room and there were only a few that seemed hell bent in ignoring people which was to be expected. Not everyone was going to like what was happening but it looked like a majority didn’t care or mind.

As she scanned the crowd Izzy saw that Councillor Tevos was making her way towards the group. “Commander, you look lovely.” She said as she made her way over. “I must say that your dress and hair are stunning even if traditionally Human.”

Izzy smiled at the woman. “Thank you, Councillor. I hope that it’s not too human. I didn’t really think about it when I went to choose my dress.” She said a little embarrassed that she hadn’t thought about that until now.

“Not at all, Commander, I think it’s beautiful.” Tevos replied kindly. “Now I know it is your wedding but I thought I would inform you that you will be leaving on mission in 5 hours. I have informed Agent Arterius already and he is making preparations. You will have one more hour here at the hall before you may leave. You and Saren will need to leave out the front so that the press can see you and take photos. You will both have to answer a few questions just to get the press to back off and then you can be on your way.”

Izzy was a little surprised that they would be leaving so soon but after all the meetings they had before the wedding it seemed that only Humans did the whole honeymoon thing and it wasn’t like they were going to need it. “Of course, Councillor, if you excuse me I have some preparations of my own to make.” Izzy said as she slipped away to find Admiral Hackett.

It didn’t take long to make the arrangements to have all of her stuff shipped to the Spectres ship and say her farewells since she knew that the moment she left the Hall, Arterius would want to start the mission right away. Kasumi, Ashley and Jack pulled her aside a few minutes before it was time to leave and told her that there would be a package with her belongings that was to be her wedding gift. They wouldn’t say what it was but the look in their eyes told Izzy that it wasn’t going to be good.

“Oh, and you get to keep the clocking device. Call it a second wedding present.” Kasumi said with a wink as Nihlus came up to them.

“You ready to go, Shepard?” He asked as once he was close enough.

Izzy looked at him and chuckled. “Did you forget already? It’s Arterius now.” She said with a teasing smile.

Nihlus shook his head with a crooked smile. “My apologies, however, I’ll still probably call you Shepard.”

All four humans chuckled. “Yeah, I’m okay with that.” She replied as they moved back over to where Arterius was waiting looking annoyed.

“Let’s get this over with Human.” He said as they made their way to the door. Izzy was going to comment on the use of Human rather than Shepard or even Commander but he was already moving towards the exit. Nihlus growled after him before turning and giving her an apologetic look. Izzy just shrugged her shoulders before she followed her husband to meet the press.

The two begrudgingly locked arms and headed out the door with Nihlus, Jack and a group of security following. The shear amount of people that were awaiting them was staggering. Izzy could hardly believe that so many people didn’t have something better to do then sit outside a wedding but then again, she also knew that some people were vultures for this sort of thing.

There seemed to be a mix of press and civilians that were trying to get their attention and as they made their way down the stairs toward them; Izzy could hear some yelling insults while others yelled questions. If Izzy hadn’t been warned she would have definitely been a little overwhelmed.

“Commander! Commander Shepard over here!” Yelled one of the reporters and Izzy was sure she recognized the women but not sure from where. Since she was told that they had to talk to some of the press she guessed this was as good of place to start.

She walked over the reporter who seemed to get really excited about the fact that she had been chosen. Izzy could sense more than see Arterius and the others follow but her husband broke off to talk to a Turian reporter a bit farther down the way.

“Commander Shepard, Khalisah Al-Jilani Westerlund News, I asked you a couple of questions after the Blitz.” Al-Jilani said. Right, the reporter who asked if I was seeing Wrex. Just my luck. Izzy thought as she forced a smile on her face.

“Of course, I remember. What would you like to ask?” She said knowing that the questions were going to more than likely be dumb.

Al-Jilani quickly turned on her camera and straightened a bit before asking her question. “Commander, not long ago there was speculation that you were more the Battlefield buddies with the Krogan, Urdnot Wrex, but now we find you here, having an arranged married to a Turian less than a month later. The Turian in question, Spectre Saren Arterius, happens to be very outspoken against Humanity. Have you turned your back on Humanity just further your goals to become a Spectre?” The woman asked.

Izzy really didn’t like this woman. How dare she say that Izzy turned her back on Humanity! She was doing this for Humanity. “Well Miss Al-Jilani, the speculation that Urdnot Wrex and I are anything more than just friends is a ridiculous notion. I respect Wrex and all he did to help with the fight against the slavers that tried to take over Elysium and consider him a good friend. Now as to my husband, he is a well-respected Turian and happens to be one of the most highly decorated Spectres there is, any female would be lucky to have to honor of calling him their husband. And as far as turning my back on Humanity, I don’t see the connection there. You said it yourself that it was an arranged marriage. My question to you Miss Al-Jilani, would you be this upset if my husband was Human? I see no reason as to why my love life will have any effect on how I serve Humanity or the galactic community at large.” Izzy said as diplomatically she could.

I cannot punch her. I cannot punch her. Izzy chanted over and over in her mind. Miss Al-Jilani seemed to not like the answer that she had given; apparently, she wanted to get arise out of Izzy. “You see no reason but it is furthering your goals, is it not?” Al-Jilani replied with a bit more bite.

Izzy gave her a kind smile that she didn’t really feel before answering. “No, actually I was unaware that I was even being considered for the honor of becoming a Spectre until quite recently. And I will not be a Spectre for some time. Right now, I am still only a candidate until I have gone through training and evaluation. Also, I believe that this could be a step in the right direction for Humanity to show the rest of the galaxy that we are not as selfish and xenophobic some make us seem. Now, if you excuse me I believe my husband is waiting.” Izzy said making it clear in her voice her disdain for the woman and her line of questioning.

As she moved farther along the line of reporters many seemed to realise that Izzy would only answer questions that she deemed worthy of reply. If they asked something to xenophobic she would simply stare them down or walk away entirely which seemed to piss them off which Izzy secretly reveled in. There was one report, however, Izzy treated with respect as she asked questions that were more about the actual significance of the events that were happening in a positive light instead of seeing it as a way for Turians and Council taking one of the Alliance's ‘best and brightest’ and putting her on a leash. Yes, Izzy treated Emily Wong with the respect that she deserved.

Finally, Arterius and Izzy made it to the end of reporters and were escorted to an awaiting Skycab along with Nihlus and Jack. Before getting in Izzy turn around one last time to see Anderson on the stairs with a natural face that most couldn’t read but Izzy saw right through. She smiled, waved and gave a quick salute which he returned before she turned and got into the cab.

She and Jack both got into the back while both Spectres got into the front of the vehicle and Izzy couldn’t help that sad look that crossed her face the moment the cab took off. She felt Jack grab her hand so she turned to look at her best friend who seemed to be asking the silent question, ‘you alright?’

Izzy gave her a smile and nodded her head before mentally preparing herself for what was coming. What ever happened, she was ready.

Chapter Text

The tension in the cab was becoming unbearable by the time they finally landed at the docks. Jack and Izzy had kept up a silent conversation in the back of the cab while the two Spectres tried and failed to do the same. Izzy could hear the two growling, rumbling and trilling back and forth at each other due to her enhanced hearing, however, Jack couldn’t but it was clear that she felt the argument happening between the two Turians. They might not have been able to understand it but they definitely knew that Nihlus was trying to keep Arterius calm.

Izzy had a feeling that it had something to do with one of the Human reporters who tried to interview him. Arterius, unlike Izzy, avoided all Human reporters the entire time they were doing interviews, whereas Izzy made sure she hit at least one of every specie if not two. She had vaguely seen how he handled the reporters and had to admit that he was very charismatic when he wanted to be but the moment the Human came up to him, she had seen the slight shift in his stance. It didn’t help that said reporter was xenophobic and started throwing accusations at him and his past with Anderson but Izzy was close enough that she intercepted the man before Arterius could cause him harm.

The man had been an idiot and it was easy for her to turn his words against him causing him to retreat with his tail between his legs. Arterius had stayed beside her as she had done it but she wasn’t sure what to think of the encounter, mostly because he was radiating contempt the entire time.

“Well, I’m afraid this is where we must leave you.” Nihlus said as they all got out of the cab. Izzy had been dreading the moment, mostly because she wasn’t really sure how Arterius would behave once she was alone with him. They had yet to have a single conversation or even be alone in the same room so Izzy was hoping for the best but knowing her luck it wouldn’t go well.

Arterius gave Nihlus a curt nod and gave Jack a glare before turning back to Nihlus. “I’ll contact you if I need anything. Human,” he said as he turned to Izzy. “Docking bay D13, we leave in 20 minutes with or without you.” He said as he turned and walked away.

Izzy glared at his back and saw Nihlus shake his head in her peripherals. Nihlus let out a sigh before looking at her. “I’m sorry, Shepard. I know this won’t be easy for you but I hope you know that he really is a good Turian once you get through to him.” He said and the look in his eyes stopped her from saying anything to rash.

“I’m sure…” she replied but didn’t sound too convinced. “Away, I would hate to keep him waiting.” She said as she grabbed Jack into a tight hug. “Behave yourself soldier. Williams is in charge now and I won’t be around to stop you from doing anything dumb.”

Jack rolled her eyes as she squeezed a bit harder. “You know me, I got this.” Jack said trying to hide the sadness in her voice.

Izzy laughed as she pulled away. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.”

Jack punched her lightly on the arm before Izzy turned to Nihlus. “Any last words of wisdom?”

Nihlus chuckled softly at the small display that had just occurred before shaking the woman’s outstretched hand. “I believe there is a Human saying, ‘patience is value?’” He said with a slight question.

Izzy laughed. “Virtue, patience is a virtue.” She replied and wasn’t sure that was a good thing. Izzy could be patient to a point but once that line was crossed, well… it wasn’t good for anyone.

Nodding his head, Nihlus gave her a steady stare. “Yes, that’s the one. Now get going. He wasn’t kidding about leaving you behind.” He said before giving her a small push in the direction of the docking bay.

Izzy nodded and headed off in the direction of Arterius’s ship only turning around once to give a final wave and heading off to her new life. As she approached the ship she was surprised at how big the damn thing was. She was expecting a small ship with maybe two or three cabins but no, it was a small frigate. As she made her way up to the airlock she made note of the name of the ship and almost chuckled. It was named Karda, and though she didn’t know what that meant in Turian it was spelt in the same way the ancient Greek word meaning war like spirit which Izzy thought appropriate.

The decontamination cycle only took a few minutes and the moment she stepped on board the heat hit her. She knew that Turians were used to a warmer climate but she didn’t realise it would be this much warmer on their ship. She also noticed that every single Turian that was on board stopped and stared at her before quickly returning to their duties. The ship was different from any she had been on and she quickly understood what Nihlus had meant about the differences in ships. Were human ships had sleek lines this ship was all sharp corners.

Izzy slowly made her way farther onto the ship and could see that Arterius was talking to whom she guessed was the XO of the ship. She decided that the best course of action was to treat the whole situation like she was an Ensign again and force her mind to cooperate with being the lowest rank on the ship so she stood in Arterius’s line of sight and would not approach until he called her forward.

After about 5 minutes of patiently waiting, Arterius turned and spoke to her. “Human, you are to report to the Medical bay at once and have any test the Doctor sees fit done. Then you will report back here.” Arterius said with disdain dripping from his voice.

Izzy knew that if she reacted to his tone it would get her nowhere so she just bowed her head as she replied. “Of course, Spectre.” She said and headed towards the elevator. She didn’t like the fact that she was still wearing her wedding dress and heels or the fact that he didn’t tell her where her stuff was so she could change but no matter. If he wanted her to walk around in her wedding dress, so be it.

The elevator ride was short and Izzy was impressed that she had enough sense to press the button to the crew deck instead of the cargo hold. She was now very grateful that Nihlus was so kind with her, she knew that these first few months were going to be rough with Arterius. Izzy just hoped the rest of the crew wasn’t as human hating as him.

As the elevator doors opened and she stepped on to the crew deck and decided that she had enough time to have a small look around, which didn’t really take long since it was easy to see almost everything from the elevator. On the left side, there was a door that lead to the crew quarters with multiple beds that all seemed to be full.  On the right was a door that leads to the Med-bay and in front of was a larger table for eating. After taking a few steps into the room she saw another door that lead off the kitchen and another she guessed lead to the XO’s cabin. The last door she assumed lead to the bathrooms. She had notice that there were four floors and guessed the top floor was where Arterius’s cabin was.

It isn’t large by any means but it’s spacious enough, Izzy thought as she turned and walked towards the Med-bay. The moment she walked into the room Izzy came face to cowl with whom she presumed to be the Doctor.

“Ah, Commander Shepard I assume.” The dark gray plated Turian said as he stepped back and stretched out his hand in greeting.

Izzy gave him a smile as she accepted his hand. “That’s me and I take it you’re the Doctor?” She asked as she gave the doctor a quick once over. He was a good looking Turian with his cream coloured colony marks that swept across his lower jaw, up over his nose plate with lines that ran over his forehead to the back of his fringe. His gold-green eyes were a striking contrast to the rest of his dark face. If Izzy had to guess the Turian in front of here would have to be about a foot and a half taller than her unlike Arterius, who was maybe only 12 inches taller than her.

“That’s me, Dr. Receculus. Gaibus Receculus but everyone either calls me Receculus or Doctor, take your pick.” He said as he smiled pleasantly down at the tiny Human in front of him.

Izzy returned the smile with a polite bow of her head. “Sure thing Doc., I was ordered to the Med-bay to let you do your thing.” She replied like she would as if she was talking to Karin. If she was to serve on this ship of any length of time the Doc would probably be a good person to not make mad.

He chuckled at her as he guided her to one of the beds. “I’m sure you’re paraphrasing. If those words ever came out of the Spectres mouth I would have to commit him for treatment.”

Izzy grinned. “Yeah, I have only shared a total of maybe 40 words with the Spectre outside what was necessary at the wedding and even I would know something was wrong.” She said as her grin started to fade as reality started to set in.

“Yes, well Saren is hard on everyone so don’t take it personally. It takes him a long time to adjust to new people and with you being human, well, I hope your strong-willed, Commander.” He said giving her a sympathetic smile. The poor Human didn’t ask for this and now she was more than likely going to suffer through a lot of pain just for Saren to see she has any worth before her actual training started.

“Please, call me Shepard and Doc?” she paused becoming a bit shy. “Have you received my medical history form the Alliance?” She asked. She hated whenever she got a new posting and had to have the same talk with the Doctors who all either looked at her with pity or disgust whenever they found out about her ‘problem’.

“Yes, don’t worry Shepard. I have dealt with patients with past drug problems before, you don’t have to worry about a relapse here. I have stocked up the Med-bay with painkillers, stims and antiseptics that are meant for people with your condition.” He said so matter-of-factly that Izzy looked up to meet his eyes. There was no judgement, no pity, just fact.

“Thanks Doc… Umm… does Spectre Arterius know?” She asked. She didn’t know what she wanted answer to be. If it was yes then she would probably have to push harder to prove that she wasn’t some fucked up ex-druggy and if it was no the she would have to explain him what happened or at least part of what happened.

“No, I have not told the Spectre and don’t intend to unless he asks. Saren is a great field Medic but field work would be mostly Medi-gel and other substances that do not have addictive qualities. I believe that it is your right to tell him. Even though we are different species we Doctors are the same across the board. Unless it affects your abilities on the field or endangers the crew your secrets are safe with me. If Saren asks, however, I will tell him since he will be out in the field with you. He will need to know the dangers in case a mission comes up where your past usage could compromise the mission.” He nodded as he gestured for her to get undressed.

Izzy let out the breath that she had been holding and started to gut undressed. “I understand, thanks again Doc.” She said as she removed the beautiful dress and folded over a chair that was sitting nearby then removed her holster. She looked around for a dressing gown but didn’t see one and then she remembered that Turians weren’t a modest people so she tried to keep herself calm, happy now that it was so warm on the ship.

The Doctor had her get on the bed and took so many blood samples that he had to give her a high sugar snack and juice which cause her to wonder if he was planning on stockpiling her blood encase she needed it. I wouldn’t be a bad idea and she knew that her two drinks at the wedding wouldn’t affect anything. She had more than likely burned through it all before she even stepped foot out of the Hall. As he gave her a full physical, Izzy felt the ship release from the docking bay and couldn’t help the ping of sadness knowing that there was no going back now.

“Alright Shepard, just one last thing and then you can go…” He said as he gestured to her lower regions and gave an apologetic look.

“Oh… yes of course Doc. It is part of a standard physical after all.” She said as she removed her underwear. She was now eternally grateful that she had went and gotten that area maintained before the wedding. She always felt guilty whenever a she got a pap and she didn’t prep. Not that any Doctor had ever told her that they really cared one way or the other but still it made her feel slightly more comfortable.

The Doctor was surprisingly quick at the procedure and unlike most Human Male Doctors who seemed to use the biggest instrument and barely any lube on the apparatus he was the exact opposite. She was at first very nervous since Turians had razor sharp talons but was happy to see that he retracted them back before he put on gloves to do the procedure. She wasn’t surprised to find that none of the Turians had been wearing gloves when she had come aboard the ship. Nihlus had explained to her that the only reason Turians wore them was to make every other species more comfortable with them. Izzy had found it ridiculous that they would be forced to wear gloves especially now that she knew they retracted like a cat.

“There all done. You may dress and head back up to the CIC. I’m sure that is where you will find Saren.” He said as he started to clean up the area.

“Thanks Doc. Umm… you wouldn’t happen to know where my footlocker would be? I would like to wear something other than my wedding dress.” Izzy asked as she started to pull her panties back up.

Receculus thought a moment before answering. He didn’t know what Saren had planned but he had been on board long enough to know not to mess with the Spectres plans so he decided to air on the side of caution. He liked this Human so far but he wasn’t willing to risk Saren’s wrath. “No, I’m sorry; I have no idea where it would be, best to ask Saren.” He said as he continued to clean up the mess from the exam.

“Of course, have a good day Doc.” She said as she slipped back into the dress. Izzy decided that if she had to wear the dress for now that was fine but there was no way she was putting her heels back on. Her feet had been screaming at her before she took them off and now that they were free there was no way they were going back on.

When Izzy reached the CIC, she wasn’t surprised to see that Arterius was standing in front of the galaxy map talking with his XO. She again waited off to the side in his field of vision until he was ready to talk to her. He seemed quite happy to just ignore her and Nihlus had said that patience was a virtue so she would wait all day if she had to. Not like she had anywhere to be.

Saren was keenly aware that the Human was back from her Medical exam and it annoyed him that she was standing patiently as if waiting to see what he wanted next. True, this is exactly what he wanted of a student but the fact that she was doing it on her own was what really made him mad. Humans were rash and self-important and he had expected her to come back and demand to know what the first mission was and try and force her way in. However, Saren had to remind himself that she was a soldier and was treating him as she would treat any superior officer. That got him thinking that she was even less suited to become a Spectre. From his experience, he knew that good soldiers usually meant terrible Spectres.

After the news had broken about Humanities Spectre candidate he had received an influx of information from multiple other Spectres that took it upon themselves to look into the Human’s background and all had come to the same conclusion. The Human was an anomaly for sure in the Alliance military but until more thorough train and assessments were done they didn’t know what to think of the Human. It frustrated Saren to no end that everyone had come to that conclusion but he had to respect the views of others. He couldn’t let his hatred for Humans blind his judgement. After all what happened with Anderson was unacceptable, it not only looked bad on the Human but on Saren as well and he wasn’t about to go through that debacle again.

Saren had thought after the whole situation with Anderson the Council would have learned to keep their hands out of trying to choose Spectres but apparently not. He couldn’t help the anger that was still inside him and he knew that if he turned to talk to her now he would simply kill the Human and then all of this would have been for nothing; he would be labeled rouge and that just wouldn’t do. Spectre Hunts were terrible business and he would not be defeated by a mere Human.

Egnaso was still standing with him going over ship reports knowing that he needed time to cool down. Saren was normally good at clamping down on his sub vocals but the moments the Human re-entered the CIC it set him on edge.

He didn’t know how long it had been before he had calmed enough but he knew that the Human had waited patiently the entire time and he remembered how all the others he had trained or tried to train had normally faltered at this point. Nihlus had been highly entertaining since he has the inability to sit still for longer than 5 seconds. It always amazed Saren that Nihlus was one of the best sharp shooters he had ever seen since being able to sit still was a big part of the job when sniping.

Thinking of his protégé Saren let out a sigh knowing that if he didn’t at least try and train said Human then Nihlus would never shut up about it. Taking a deep breath, he finally spoke. “Human, I assume that since you have graciously decided to join us that your medical exam is done.” He drawled irritably.

Izzy was a little annoyed that it had taken as long as it had for him to acknowledge her but she didn’t let it show. “Yes Spectre.” Was all she said not knowing what else to say since she wasn’t really good at reading Turian facial expressions. Even if she could she doubted he would show anything.

Arterius finally decided to turn and face her and as he did she saw that his eyes were closed as if trying to fight off a migraine. “Very well, now I need–” He stopped abruptly tilting his head slightly to one side. “Why are you still wearing that?” He asked with a slight growl once he opened his eyes.

Izzy had to fight hard not to roll her eyes but somehow, she managed. “These are the only clothes I have until I am able to get to my footlocker. The Doctor didn’t know where I would be able to find it and you asked that I return after my exam. I didn’t think it respectable to start snooping around.” Izzy said but this time a bit of her attitude started to slip into her words making it clear that if he wanted her to change he would have to give her her clothes.

He narrowed his eyes at her and pulled his mandibles even tighter to his face before answering. “Nazados, show the Human where she can find her belongings and give her a tour of the ship.” He growled out. A lean, small Turian with light gray plating with violet markings that covered most of his face came forward and ushered her into the elevator.

Once the elevator door closed she could physically see the Turian relax. “You are sure going to make life hell on here aren’t you?” Nazados said eyeing her as if he didn’t know whether he should be amused or upset with her.

Izzy shrugged her shoulders. “I definitely won’t mean to but if he is going to treat me with disrespect then he has to deal with my backhanded behaviour. However, if my behaviour ends up causing problems for the crew please let me know. This is between me and him not the rest of you.” Izzy said kindly. She really didn’t want the crew to get involved with her and Arterius’s struggle to get along and if that meant that she would have to change her tack later on then so be it.

Nazados continued to stare at her until the doors opened up onto what looked like the Cargo bay. “You are different then what I expected from a Human.” He said as he started to show here around.

Izzy cocked her head to the side. “How so?”

He was quiet for a few moments as he showed her were the weapons benches were and where to find the workout equipment. “I don’t know. You are the first Human I have actually met but you don’t seem afraid of us nor do you seem to hate us… it’s strange.” He said as he finally showed her where her belongings were.

The moment she saw her stuff, Izzy smiled knowing that there was going to be much more comfortable clothes awaiting her. “Yeah well, I’m sure Spectre Arterius has looked into my past and everyone aboard knows that I went missing at the age of 7 and didn’t come back to civilization until 16. When I went missing,” she started to explain as she indicated for him to turn around so she could change. “There wasn’t life outside of Humans. When I got back to civilization all of a sudden there were all these different species. I had no idea what had happened and whenever anyone, Human or whatever, told me about the war it seemed strange. So, I did my own research and came to my own conclusions, the war was a huge misunderstanding and both sides were in the wrong. I mean, look at any war that ever existed, you can’t take what either side said as fact. You have to look at both sides and know that some truths were exaggerated. The best thing to do is to look at a third party so that’s what I did. I didn’t just read Human text or Turian but also Asari and Salarian text to get the whole picture.”

Izzy was done changing into her N7 casuals and was now leaning on one of the nearby creates. “Also, I am a big believer on never judging a book by its cover. I mean, yes, Turians look like the apex predators that you are but I don’t look at you and see mindless killing machines. I see you all as individuals regardless of species. I have met and had conversations with 4 different Turians all of you are vastly different. Nihlus is out going, positive and very friendly. The Doctor is curious, intelligent and kind. You seem reserved, quiet and easy going. And Arterius is intelligent, hard and very unforgiving. To say that all Turians are terrible monsters would be an insult not only to your kind but my own intelligence.” She finished giving the Turian time to digest what she just told him.

She could tell that she had taken him by surprise but that didn’t shock her. Whenever she expressed her views on a specific species she always answered along the same lines. Every single being was there own person, to lump them all together and say everyone is the same would be very racist on her part if she were just talking about Humans so why should that change now that the galaxy has gotten bigger.

“I guess that’s a different way to look at it. You’re definitely strange that’s for sure.” He said as he helped her grab her belongings. All she had was her footlocker, a human sized cot and the package that the girls had told her about. “I don’t know where you want to set up but the Crew quarters are full so that will leave you with somewhere down here, the battery or the observation deck. The Spectre said that he didn’t care where you were placed as long as it didn’t interfere with day to day activities on the ship.” He said as they made their way back towards the elevator.

“Oh oh, you have an observation room!? If you wouldn’t mind I would like to see it. If there is room, I wouldn’t mind being in there.” Izzy said almost bouncing with excitement.

Nazados gave her a strange look before chuckling at the child like behaviour that the soldier in front of him was showing. He quickly got her and all of her things in the elevator and pressed the button that would take them to the top floor.

“I assumed that Arterius’s cabin would be up here.” The Human said as she shifted her position due to the weight that she was now holding. Thankfully her armor and weapons were to stay in the Cargo bay.

“It is but so is the observation deck. It’s rarely used and if this had been a military vessel to begin with it wouldn’t have had an observation room. It’s a waste of space that could be better used but that’s what you get when you retrofit a comfort vessel and turn it into a Spectre ship.” He said as the elevator came to a stop on the top level.

Izzy didn’t know what to expect when entering the observation room but it definitely wasn’t this. It was beautiful. The window was about 10 feet long and 6 feet tall and took up almost the entire one wall; there were book cases along the far wall and a small bar in the corner that Izzy was surprised to see was fully stocked. There were three couches that littered the room but still left plenty of space to move around.

After taking a quick look, Izzy placed her belongings along the wall beside the door. There was room enough for her cot and if she put her foot locker underneath the bed it would be perfect. Now this was what I would want in a honeymoon suite , Izzy thought which caused her to laugh. Nazados gave her another strange look but didn’t say anything.

“Yes, this will do perfectly.” She smiled at him as she started to set up her cot. “Now before you go I was wondering if you could tell me who to watch out for on the crew. I mean, who will be nice, who will be indifferent and who should I avoid. That sort of thing.”

Nazados helped her with her cot as he thought it over. “As you know Doctor Receculus is very inclusive of anyone and everyone so you should have no problems there. Corporal Gornius and Sargent Macnis are also very open to Humans so they should be fine. Everyone else will be a little more indifferent or will hate you because you are agitating Spectre Arterius. When the Spectre is upset he tends to be much striker with the crew and with you being on board well, we have only just left dock and he has already snapped at a few of us.” He said as she started to sort through her things.

Izzy nodded expecting that to be the case. She was more surprised that there wasn’t more that would hate her due to her being Human but then again it had been 14 years since first contact. “One more thing.” Nazados said before turning to take her back to the CIC. “Unless invited, no one is allowed in the Spectre’s room.”

She snorted at that. “Yeah, I may be new to the ship but I’m not dumb or suicidal enough to think that would be okay.” Nazados chuckled at her and the two made their way back to the elevator. Izzy had to admit, even if there were just a few Turians on board that would treat her like the Doc and Nazados maybe being here wouldn’t be too bad.

Chapter Text

By the time the Human and Nazados made their way back from there tour, Saren had calmed back down. While the Human was out of the way he had made a list of all the things he wanted his new ‘student’ to do before he could start assessing how useful she could be. First, he would send her to clean and modify her weapons and armor and see just how much weapons knowledge she had.

The Human, again, stood off to the side and waited for Saren to interact with her. She was going against everything that Saren knew about Humans and it was very frustrating but again he made her wait. He wanted to see if he kept treating her this way, when she would snap.

After about 20 minutes Saren decided it had been long enough. “Human.” He said as he turned to face her. “I see you found your belongings. I presume you found somewhere to sleep that will be out of the way?” He said with indifference.

Izzy at this point was seeing what Nihlus was saying about patience. Arterius had already gone from basically spitting at her to being indifferent and that was an improvement. “Yes Sir, I have selected to set up in a corner of the observation room unless you would prefer me to go elsewhere.” She said hoping that he would be fine with it but never letting her feelings show.

Arterius was quiet for a few moments as he just glared at her, seeming to debate on if he was indeed, fine with her being in the observation room. “No, the observation room is fine if you keep your belongings in your space.” He said again continuing to sounding indifferent.

Izzy gave him a slight bow of thanks to show that she was grateful before he continued. “Go to clean all of your weapons and armor and add any modifications that you have. When you are done come back to me for your next task.” He ordered her. Again, Izzy gave a slight bow before turning and heading to the elevator. She knew when she was dismissed and also knew that this order was coming eventually after Nihlus’s warning that first day.

The Cargo bay was completely empty so she had the whole space to herself which was nice. She had to admit that she was okay with this order. Izzy like to clean and tend to her weapons and armor because it allowed her to decompress. It used to drive Ashley insane but Izzy couldn’t help it, cleaning weapons was a mindless task that could help relieve stress especially after a long or tough mission.

Izzy set to work first on her beloved shotgun. This was the first time since Elysium that she had more than 5 minutes to herself and everything that had happened was starting to sink in. She was now not only a Commander in the Alliance Military but also a Spectre candidate and wife of Saren Arterius, known Human hater and most decorated Spectre alive. Izzy didn’t really know how she felt about the whole situation she was now in.

Being promoted to Commander had been a surprise but she knew how to deal with that especially since there had been rumors of her possible promotion to Lieutenant-Commander before the attack on Elysium. Commander, however, was a bit of a stretch but she was up for the task and responsibility that came along with it but the other two, no, she didn’t know what to think.

Being considered for Spectre candidacy was an honor but Izzy wasn’t really sure she deserved it. She was still young and had a lot to learn but she would definitely try her hardest. She didn’t want to let Humanity down. Mostly she didn’t want to let Anderson and Hackett down, her two mentors and father figures. Screw Udina and his bullshit. Izzy knew that he would try and use her as a stepping stone to further his goals to become a Councillor but that would be a bad call. Even from the short time she had spent with Humanities Ambassador she knew he was not Council material.

Lastly, her mind wandered to her husband . Izzy really didn’t know what to think about that whole situation. Since her capture at age 7 she had all but given up on marriage and love in general but now here she was married to someone she didn’t know nor did she even like him. It would have been different if they could at least be friends but it seemed that it was highly unlikely. For what seemed like the hundredth time since she heard the news she really wished she could have married Nihlus. At least they were friends.

The more she thought about it the more her heart ached. She found herself remembering her parents and thinking of better times. Izzy had been so lost in thought that she hadn’t realized that silent tears had started to fall from her eyes. Quickly, she brushed them away and forced her mind back to the task at hand. There was no point living in the past and the tears wouldn’t help her now, she needed to be strong.

She was just finishing cleaning the last of her armor when she heard the elevator open allowing Arterius onto the floor. The moment he saw her, Izzy could see him stiffen out of the corner of her eye. Apparently, he had forgotten that she was here. Seemingly he collected himself and walked over to the weapons bench and started to look over her work without a word. Nihlus had warned her that he would do so but she was a bit miffed that he hadn’t asked first before he started to look over her babies. Once she had finished her last bit of armor she stepped back and waited for him to finish his inspection.

Saren could feel the Human’s eyes on him as he looked over its equipment. He had notice that the Human had shifted uncomfortably when he started handling her weapons without asking and wasn’t sure if he made the Human uncomfortable or if she didn’t like that he didn’t ask permission before touching them. Either way it didn’t matter since the Human didn’t say anything and allowed him to work in peace but knowing either way would help later in her training.

He wasn’t sure when but at some point while he was plotting course to his next assignment he decided that he would give this Human a chance to prove itself. If she failed then he would have proof to give the Council that Humanity still was not ready for this chance. If she passed then he would train her like he had Nihlus and the others before, even if he didn’t like the implications of what it meant. A three-month trial period would be enough and he would have to have Nihlus help with a few missions but this first assignment didn’t require his help and it would be good to judge the Human without Nihlus getting in the way.

As he looked over her equipment, he hated to admit that the weapons were in excellent condition, even the ones that had clearly been used for a long time like the Eviscerator and Blackstorm. Nihlus had purchased the Human some new weapons but it seemed that the Human kept the old ones as well. He wasn’t sure why since they weren’t nearly as good but Saren liked to be prepared for anything and even the cheap pistol that the Human had been using before would be a good backup if necessary.

After he finished with looking over the Humans weapons he moved to her armor. He was a surprised to that there were three different sets since they were all painted the same, black with the same red and white strip that ran down the right arm. It was strange, as he inspected the armor he couldn’t help the confusion that was building. Why have them all the same colour? He thought as he looked over the modifications that the Human had added when he noticed it. They can be interchanged.

“Yes, Sir.” The Human said behind him and he realized that he had spoken the last thought aloud.

Arterius glared at her and she was afraid that she had spoken out of turn when he continued. “You did this on purpose.” He said as more of a statement then question but she decided to answer anyway.

“Yes, Specter; I choose armor that would be useful under different circumstances but also was interchangeable should part get damaged and there isn’t enough time to repair before the next mission requiring said armor. The colour choice was also factored in since it will blend in flawlessly and I can also interchange the armor from mission to mission. I can use the heavy armor midsection to protect my chest and the lightweight armor on my legs if I want protection but still have maneuverability.” Izzy replied not backing down from his glare.

He seemed to study her for a few moments longer before nodding and turning back to the rest of her armor. Izzy couldn’t help notice that his glare had lessened slightly, she wasn’t sure if it was due to her actions, he was tired or if it was just her wishful thinking but she was counting it as another win.

Once he was done looking over her equipment, Arterius finally turned and faced her again. Izzy was thankful for that since she was starting to get tired. She had been up for the last 16 hours and had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before. On top of that she hadn’t had coffee since Kasumi had cut her off before the ceremony.

Arterius moved towards her and started to circle, his eyes assessing her. She knew that he was evaluating her but it didn’t help the shutter that wanted to roll through her body. Turians were apex predators for a reason and the glare he was leveling at her reminded her why.

“You have been trained as a vanguard.” He said, again more a statement then question but she confirmed with a nod. “Very well, pull out the mats.” He ordered as he moved to the other side of the room.

Izzy didn’t hesitate to follow and did as she was told. It was unnerving that his tone and face showed no emotion and after studying his eyes she realized that with his cybernetic implants she wouldn’t allow her to be able to read them that well either unless she took him by surprise.

Sparing was the last thing she wanted to do right now but Izzy knew better than to say anything to the Turian. He would probably make things worse if he knew so she laid the mats out and moved over to one of the creates she found earlier and started to tape her hands. She could feel the Spectre watching her but he didn’t say anything until she was squared up ready to face him.

“What is on your hands, Human?” He asked in the same emotionless voice.

Izzy cocked her head to the side slightly confused. Has he never seen a human tape up their hands before? She thought before realizing who she was talking to. “Umm… Tape; when humans spar we tape our hands to avoid unnecessary injury.” Izzy informed him as best she could. She had never really paid attention when they were taught this sort of information back in training; she just knew that it helped.

He seemed to consider this a moment before stepping onto the mats himself. “But you wouldn’t have it in a real fight so why are you wearing it now?” Izzy could see where this was going. He was going to get her to remove the tape she had just spent the last ten minutes putting on.

She knew better than to let her agitation show in her voice as she replied. “I wear it to prevent injury while not on mission but I can fight without it. If you would like me to fight without it, I will.” She said. Izzy knew that she didn’t hide all of her irritation but she hid most of it.

Arterius glared a bit fiercer at her but his tone was the same again. “Remove it.” He ordered and Izzy walked over and grabbed a knife to cut through the tape. She was already starting to hate the Turian and it had only been a few hours.

Once the tape was removed she moved back to the sparing area and took a loose fighting stance and waited. She did a quick mental rundown of her sparring partner, he was taller than her and had weight on his side so she was at a disadvantage there and even though he was short by Turian standards he had probably fought enough Humans, Asari and others to know how to fight a smaller enemy. Evaluating him this way would do no good, she would just have to wing it and be as unpredictable as hell.

Izzy knew that Arterius was probably doing his own rundown of her when it occurred to her that he would probably expect her to be timid if not afraid of him. She could use that to her advantage which she did by attacking first.

Saren was surprised to see the human attack but he had no problem blocking the first swing but was glad to feel the weight behind it. The Human wasn’t holding back which was good. If he wanted an accurate assessment then he would need the Human to fight properly.

The first few blows he knocked away easily and as the Human came in to throw another jab as he caught her wrist and twisted. The Human followed the twist with her body and was able to land a punch to his upper arm causing him to realise her. Flexible and adaptable , he thought as he continued to let the Human jab and cut.

Izzy saw that she wasn’t getting anywhere with just her upper body alone so now was the time to bring in the use of her legs. So far, she had just used them as a solid base and wanted to wait for him to attack back before using her other resources but he seemed determined to wait and see. Probably wants to tire you out. That’s what you would do , she thought as she tried to snake around to his left side with a feint. It didn’t work but she could see that he was still evaluating her. That won’t do. I need him focused on fighting not evaluating if I’m going to make an impression.

Slowly Izzy started to formulate a plan on how to get the Spectre to really come out and play and it mostly had to do with playing dirty. She knew that there were parts of a Turian that, if hit in the right way, would get an instinctual reaction. She was sure that the Spectre would have trained it out of himself so that he would always remain in control but that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t piss him off.

A few well-placed shots later, she could see that Arterius was starting to lose a slight bit of control and he actually swung at her which gave her an opening. Izzy dodged under the throw and hit him hard with an uppercut which caused him to stumble back. She took advantage at his unbalance and swept one of her legs out to knock him to the ground which he jumped over. Clearly, he was faster at recovering then she thought.

After that the fight really heated up since Arterius actually started to fight back instead of defend. He was amazingly fast and agile for his size which surprised her but at the same time didn’t. He was a Spectre after all. As the fight got more intense, Izzy started using more of her arsenal to try and get the upper hand but it was difficult with the on slot of blows Arterius was sending her. They were only 15 minutes into the actual fight now and Izzy had only landed a few hard hits while Arterius had landed multiple. Thankfully none had hit her squarely since she was able to use her smaller more flexible body to move so they were mostly glancing blows.

The fight raged on and eventually Izzy found herself being corralled into a corner and that gave her an idea. Once she was far enough back she feinted to one side causing Arterius to react just enough that she turned and jumped kicked her legs into the wall forcing all of her body weight into the Spectre who was taken by surprise at the move. It was dumb and idiotic since he was much bigger than her so if he had been any faster he could have easily pinned her but she was able to get to her feet and move back into the sparring area before he could use that advantage.

He seemed to be appraising her again before he started the attack again, this time with a different fighting style which threw her off but she recovered. The fight continued for god knows how long with each trading blows but the Spectre was landing more and more as Izzy started to tire. She knew that in comparison to Turians, Humans were outmatched in stamina so if she was going to end this it would have to soon. Or you could change the rules again, she thought as the Spectre landed another blow.

Without real thought or even meaning too she charged a biotic throw as she went to land her next punch and used the kick of biotics to help do some damage. The Spectre somehow saw the move coming and dodged the blow as he threw his own biotics into the mix. Izzy had heard that Arterius was a biotic but hadn’t really believed it until she was thrown across the room. Turian biotics were very rare so Izzy had always chalked it up to being a rumor but after feeling it she knew that he was more powerful in this department than most humans she had faced and that included a number of L2s.

It was a good thing that Izzy had practiced full on biotic sparring with Jack or she would have been out for the count. He was powerful but not as powerful as Jack, probably on the same page as Kaidan. The fight was now getting bloody which was fine with Izzy but it seemed that he was still doing more damage than her. Izzy had gotten in a few good shots at him so his cobalt blue blood was mixed with her red but it seemed that he still had the upper hand.

Izzy knew the fight was going to end soon because she was getting sloppy due to her tiredness and exertion but she wasn’t going to go down easy. Mostly, she was impressed that she had done as well as she had so far on such little sleep and lack of food in her system but was still disappointed that she didn’t get the upper hand once.

In her moment of pondering she made a terrible mistake and let her guard drop just enough that the Spectre landed a hard blow to the face, dropping her to the floor. The last thing Izzy remembered thinking was how many bobby pins must be in her hair for it didn’t move once during the entire fight. Then everything went dark.

Saren stood over the now unconscious Human and was panting hard. The Human had put up a better fight than he had thought she would but it still wouldn’t do. She fought like it was a spar and not a real fight which could be deadly but he was still begrudgingly impressed. Looking down at the human he could see that she would need to go to the medical bay to heal since he was sure that he broken its nose if the blood that was coming out of it was any indication.

Quickly, Saren sent a message to the doctor before walking over to the lift to head up to the crew deck himself. After the spar, he needed some food and a shower before going and checking on things down in the CIC. He didn’t like the fact that the Human had drained him so much or the fact that he found her armor and weapons to be… acceptable . The forethought the human had to get interchangeable armor was very… Turian. Yes, he didn’t like that the human was proving to know what she was doing but he reminded himself that he would treat her properly until the three-month trial was over.

The crew deck was mostly empty except for a few of the Night crew who were starting to prepare for their shift and the Doctor who entered the lift as he exited. The Doctor gave him a curt nod as he passed with an annoyed growl. Saren knew that the Doctor hated his training methods but he never questioned them and Saren was grateful. Nothing was more annoying or a bigger nuisance than a strict Turian Doctor.

After grabbing a packaged MRE, Saren went to his cabin for a quick shower. MRE’s were not the best food in the galaxy but he didn’t have time to sit and make a meal tonight and Spectre grade MRE’s weren’t nearly as bad as the ones that the Turian military used. They at least had some flavor, not that it mattered to Saren, food was either good or it wasn’t and MRE’s always fell under the not good category.

Whenever on ship, Saren never indulged in long showers even though he would have loved to stay in the heat, there was never enough time on the ship. He always had a mission. Stepping out of the shower he toweled off and got dressed before heading back down to the CIC where Egnaso was waiting to inform him of their ETA to Thrivaldi. The Human’s first mission was an easy one, find the leader of the Pirates that were attacking the refuelling station and stop them. Simple, if the human can’t so something as simple as this then there was no reason to continue her training.

“We will arrive in 7 hours, Spectre.” Egnaso said as Saren stepped up to look at the reports.

Saren hummed his acknowledgement as he looked at the information he had on the other missions that he had started to plan. Some were easy while others would be hard; some would require getting information, others death and one would require a test of wills but that one he was going to save for a little while. He needed to know the Human a bit better before that one would be attempted.

Quickly Saren typed out a message to the Human to let her know that she would be expected in 6 hours in the comm room. After the fight, the human would need a few hours to recover before she could look at any information.

Once sent, he called over Nazados to give him a report on what he had learned about the Human on the tour. Nazados gave a quick summary of what happened but forwarded the Spectre a copy of what he had recorded on his Omni-tool. This is one of the things he liked about Nazados, he recorded whatever he thought important encase he needed to recall it later. He never overstepped his boundaries with it and it was useful.

After listening to the recording, he was a bit surprised at the Humans outlook on Turians. If he didn’t know better he would have thought she were Asari with how she reacted to the questions that Nazados asked. Yes, this Human did seem to be an anomaly and Saren knew that he would have to figure out what drove her before he could really start to train her.

Chapter Text

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.