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An Unlikely Friendship

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“Are you out of your mind, Shepard?” Anderson hissed, his entire body tensing. He glanced around Flux, worried that someone might spot and recognize the Turian seated beside the galaxy’s only human Spectre, despite the numerous layers wrapped around him and the hood pull up to cover his fringe and most of his facial features. However, there was a faint blue glow coming from under the hood that made Anderson very uneasy.

Shepard looked uncomfortable, but kept their voice low. “I know. This is about as usual of a situation as I can imagine, but there are benefits.”

“Such as?” Anderson asked, leveling a glare at the robed figure. Shepard leaned forward, their eyes eager.

“Such as getting inside info from someone who has been studying the Reapers for longer than us. Such as getting to study an individual who not only was indoctrinated, but managed to shake it off long enough to join us!” Shepard glanced at the Turian, a note of sympathy in their eyes. “And it offers a lost soul the chance to redeem itself.”

The Turian snorted in derision, but didn’t say anything. Anderson let his head drop, running his hands over his close cropped hair.

“I’m getting too old for this, Shepard. Why didn’t you just hand him over to the Council? They would-”

“The Council is far too busy trying to bury the idea of the Reapers existence.” The hooded figure spoke, his gravel-flanged voice carrying no further than their table. “If Shepard had handed me over to them, they would have executed me as a threat before I could tell them what I know. The moment I’m dead, the Reaper tech inside me will burn, forever destroying what little chance we have of learning from it.”

“And why should we trust you?” Anderson growled. The Turian smirked slightly.

“You shouldn’t. While I recognize that I am under the influence of the Reapers, they are still within my mind. I am constantly in pain and I must keep my mental guards up. One hint of weakness, and they will take me, this time likely for good. A part of me still doubts that helping you is the valid decision to follow, but Shepard has convinced me to give it a try. If it looks like you’re about to fail, I can always betray you and finish the mission Sovereign gave me.”

“Nice to know you have my back.” Shepard droned. The Turian shrugged.

“I’m disgusting and playing it both ways, but at least I’m open about it.” His expression became grave. “However, I meant what I said about not trusting me. The numerous pieces of Reaper tech throughout my body make me both an asset and a liability. Allow me to assist in bringing them down, but do not make the mistake of trusting me with anything. There’s a strong chance that Sovereign and the Reapers are allowing me to follow you simply so they can turn me against you at the most opportune moment. I am not so foolish as to believe I am capable of completely resisting their attempts to control me.”

Silence fell over their table, with Anderson glancing at Shepard in concern. After several moments, the older soldier sighed heartily, mopping his face with a shaking hand. Then he gave a weak chuckle, shrugging his shoulders.

“Nothing is ever simple, is it?” He muttered. The hooded figure coughed a laugh.

“On that, Anderson, we can agree.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that, Arterius.” Anderson gave a slight grin, before nodding towards Shepard. “I trust you know what you’re doing, Shepard. The whole galaxy is riding on this. Now, how do we go about getting the Normandy out of lock down?”