"Is this some type of hanar specific magazine? Like People, but for hanar, that is." Shepard asked. They'd been browsing the stalls when she'd come across the magazine, eyeing it curiously and flipping it over to flash him the cover, which displayed a female hanar lounging suggestively on a dais.
Garrus had no idea what People might be, but he had to choke back his laughter when he saw the title of the periodical. "Well, not exactly, Shepard. Fornax is a little more… suggestive than that."
She cocked an eyebrow at him. "Hanar porn? I didn't think that hanar were into that sort of thing. "
Garrus was having a hard time wiping the smirk off of his face, but Miranda's glare did a good job of pushing him along. "It's xeno porn, Shepard. Not just hanar, but also nearly every other species you can think of. And no… " Miranda returned her glare to Garrus, who had just flexed his mandibles as if to speak. "I do not have a subscription. Working with a crew comprised mostly of men gets you exposed to all sorts of things that you wish you never knew."
Shepard was scrutinizing the cover as if trying to unravel the mysteries of the Protheans. "So, this is supposed to be a sexy pose for a hanar?" She tossed it back down on the counter and grinned at Garrus and Miranda. "Guess it has a devoted readership, considering that this is issued 145500."
Garrus lingered behind for a moment as Shepard moved on, heading to the biotic amps seller across the way with Miranda in tow. He picked up a new scope for his sniper rifle, along with a few other small things. "Have this delivered to the Normandy. All of these go to the main battery, and this goes here." Garrus scribbled quick note on the last item, handing it to the stall owner. The batarian nodded, clicking his fingers at the vorcha in the far back.
After undocking, Shepard sat at her desk to pour over the new dossiers as they headed to Ilium. They had two potentials there, as well as Miranda's personal favor, so it made sense in the long run. The markets on Ilium would also have some fancy new upgrades, which was excellent considering the fact that she'd wiped out the stock on Omega and the Citadel. She was pouring every last resource into outfitting them as well as she could before their final run.
Thane Krios was the last dossier she read, her eyes bleary from hours of studying pictures and reading detailed psych evaluations. She took her datapad down to the mess with her to get some coffee, studying the pictures particularly carefully. She'd had exactly no exposure to drell in her time in the Alliance, though she knew of them. Their population was still small and it seemed that most rarely left Kahje; those that did leave tended to stay to themselves. Thane was no exception to this rule, having worked alone his entire career. He was striking to look at, his appearance the perfect cross between reptilian and humanoid, though definitely more to the humanoid side. He was a lovely shade of light green with some truly striking black striping on his head ridges. In every photo he was standing perfectly straight, never slouching, which added an air of vigilance to him. His features were refined, topped off with a set of lips that most women (and probably men) would kill for.
She'd known two assassins personally in her life. One had been human, the other turian. Both had been assholes; cocksure and overconfident of their abilities. This did not bode well for Ser Krios, especially given the little his dossier had to say on his personal life. Cerberus had provided her with ten plus page reports on every other crewmate; Thane's was two pages of notes and four photographs taken in the past six months. He was a wildcard on a mission that was already a gigantic question mark in her mind.
Kelly was sitting at the large table, datapad in front of her and coffee in hand. She tipped her cup at Shepard and smiled "This is the first cup from a freshly brewed pot. I figured someone else would be up and about, even at this hour." Shepard grabbed a mug from the shelf under the coffee station and filled it to the brim with coffee, a liberal dose of creamer and eight spoons of sugar. She liked her coffee a little sweet. She sat across from Kelly, who glanced at the pad in her hands. "Which dossier? Joker said we were headed to Ilium, so that narrows it to two possibilities." She studied Shepard carefully for a few moments. "Krios?" She hazarded, smirking a bit as Shepard's eyes widened.
"Am I that easy to read?"
Chuckling, Kelly leaned back in her chair and flipped the datapad around to show the picture she'd been examining. It was the shot of Thane, speaking with an asari in what looked to be a transport area. "It's exactly who I'd look for first. The drell are fascinating, really. No one knows that much about them. Unless you travel to Kahje, you're unlikely to run into one on the street." Yeoman Chambers glanced at the picture again, twitching the corner of her lips. "He's really quite pretty too. Exotic looking. I've seen pictures of drell in Fornax. They're quite… impressive." The Yeoman was sporting a rather wicked grin now.
"I tripped across a Fornax on Omega earlier today. Didn't thumb through it though. Are you a regular reader?" Shepard's curiosity was piqued now. She'd just found out about the xeno sex magazine today; she couldn't believe that she was one of the few people in the galaxy who'd never read the damned thing.
Maybe it was her imagination, but it seemed that Kelly was turning a little pinkish as she stared down at the pictures before her. "I indulge occasionally. I have an interest in alien psychology and they have a site on the extranet."
"Get her to tell you about drell anatomy. Specifically their lower anatomy." Jack announced her presence in the mess in her usual abrupt manner, slouching in a chair at the end of the long table with an impish grin on her face. "We are talking about drell, aren't we?"
Kelly rolled her eyes. "We were talking about Fornax, Jack. Not any particular species."
"But you started the discussion with the assassin, who happens to be a fucking drell." Jack glared at Kelly. "Besides, you look like the sort of girly-girl who'd love those big, soulful eyes." She jumped up from the chair and headed to the fridge, sticking her head in and rooting around as she spoke. "Also, Fornax is alien porn and I know for sure that they've done several page spreads on drell, especially the guys. Women love that shit."
Shepard put her datapad down, now well and truly interested; though she half suspected that she'd regret her pursuit of the conversation in short order. "So, what exactly is so special about drell males? I thought that they were your standard humanoid variants, with the obvious reptilian overtones."
Jack pulled out a plastic container, opened it and gave it some serious consideration. It met her approval obviously as she grabbed spoon from the counter and popped it in the nuker. "You've been hanging around the salarian too much." She pointed the spoon at Shepard and grabbed a mug and some coffee.
Kelly spoke hesitantly. "Well, the drell that they've featured are all very sculpted. They have nicely defined musculature as a rule. I think that they have thicker muscle fibers than humans, not that Fornax goes into that kind of detail." The Yeoman was addressing everything to Shepard, studiously avoiding the tattooed menace lurking by the microwave.
Several loud beeps heralded the preparation of Jack's midnight meal. She carried the container over to the same end seat and shoveled a spoonful of soup into her mouth. "Yeah, drell are built all right. But that's not what interests the ladies most. And some men, I guess." After another spoonful, she gave Kelly a sidelong glance and shook her head. "Since the secretary isn't going to share, I guess I'll have to give you the goods."
"Really, Jack." Kelly sighed, but Jack just waved a dismissive hand at her.
"Drell guys are known for the size and shape of their package. I guess the fact that fucking them is like getting high also has its appeal." Jack noticed Shepard's skeptical look. "Look, I'm speaking from direct experience here. You think that I haven't managed to bone at least one drell in my time?"
She has a point there, Shepard thought. "Okay, I'll play. What is so unique about it?" Once again, she wondered why she was sitting here having this conversation. Chalking it up to lack of sleep and her never-ending schedule, she sipped her coffee and fixed Jack with a pointed stare.
Jack laughed. "Shepard, I didn't think you had it in you. This might even get me to like you a little." She tipped the plastic container into her mouth and gulped the remainder of the soup. "They have huge dicks; bigger than most human guys, anyway. They're ridged too. Soft, skin ridges, so they have a little give. You do know what a g spot is Shepard, don't you?"
To her credit, Shepard didn't blush or miss a beat. Being in the military for over a decade made you hard to embarrass. "I do. So, these ridges are perfectly designed to hit that spot then, is that what you're saying?" Jack was grinning broadly at her now and Shepard thought that she might prefer the woman's scowl to that.
"Drax was my favorite fuck buddy. I actually kind of liked him." Jack sprang out of her seat and headed towards the elevator, calling over her shoulder as she left. "Too much girl talk for one evening. I'm outta here."
Of course she left her mess on the table. Shepard heaved a sigh and gathered the plastic container and utensil to throw into the automated washer. She refilled her coffee cup and then turned to face Kelly. "Okay Chambers, so here's the deal. I know that he's attractive and that they have this, reputation, among xenophiles, but we need to concentrate on the mission. I don't care if he's the most charming bastard to grace the galaxy; just don't let it interfere with your work." She looked at Kelly's face and softened a bit. "Oh, you know what I mean, Kelly. I know that we all need to blow off some steam in a high stress environment like this. We're not in the military and I'm not going to impose any rules about fraternization here. As long as everyone can stay focused, anything goes."
Kelly was grinning now. "Commander, it might be in your best interest to follow your own advice on this, you know. I've heard rumors that Engineer Donnelly has a wicked crush on you."
Shaking her head and laughing, Shepard picked up her datapad and headed towards the elevator. "I don't need a matchmaker, Yeoman Chambers. Stick to your duties as assigned." The funny thing was that she had thought of Donnelly; he was attractive, after all, and he'd defended her honor in front of Alliance brass, which was more than flattering. His accent was cute and she'd had several fantasies about how he would sound whispering absolutely tantalizing things in her ear. But Donnelly was a good engineer and a good man; he deserved more than just a friendship with benefits. She wasn't sure that she had more to offer anyone at this point. It had been years since she'd had a real, adult relationship with someone, before the galaxy went to hell in a hand basket.
She stopped by the fish tank on her way to her desk, tapping the feeding button and counting each fish carefully, as was her habit before bed. There had been no untimely deaths for going on fifteen days now, which was a personal record for her. The crew had banded together a month ago and gotten her a plaque reading "Fish – 0 Shepard – 23" in the Zakera Ward. Shepard took the plaque with a jovial smile, but she misted up a bit after bringing it back to her cabin. Of all the things that she'd killed in her near decade and a half of slaughter, the fish were her biggest regret. From there she'd vowed to keep the little buggers alive at all costs.
Dropping the datapad on her desk, she popped down the stairs into her closet, slipping the formal Cerberus uniform into the clothing bin at the bottom and putting cotton pants and a t-shirt. The uniform would magically appear in her closet, washed and ironed, by the next morning. She wasn't sure exactly how that happened, but she suspected that the Normandy had a crew of miniaturized keepers who worked on those sorts of things. Taking up her normal spot in the middle of the bed, she reached onto her end table for the book that she was reading; A Volus's Guide to Galactic Economy was sure to put her out nearly instantly.
What she held in her hand, upon closer examination, was a holo of a very naked volus, holding what appeared to be a tea towel over what were presumably his naughty bits. The surprised look of "Oh, you caught me just after stepping out of the shower!" would surely haunt her dreams for the next several weeks. "What the hell?" she exclaimed, flipping the magazine closed and examining the alluringly posed hanar on the front cover. Fornax. Garrus had bought her a copy of goddamned Fornax on Omega. "Garrus, you asshole."