kinkmeme prompt for this one was:
I want a fic where Saren and Nihlus' student-mentor relationship got off to a really goddamn rocky start. Maybe Saren didn't want to train another Spectre but the Council made him pick a candidate, or maybe Nihlus is a hothead and needs a lot of work - either way, I want to see them butting heads during Nihlus' Spectre training.
Can be romantic, but I'd like to see them before any of the complications. A fic that explains WHY Saren and he become friends instead of just having a professional relationship would be much appreciated. Saren is a stone cold bastard so what's special about Nihlus? Explainations: I wants them.
So that's my take on things. Not romantic, but about friendship.
Standing on a small asteroid that was really a concealed pirate base while approaching the enemy decidedly wasn't the appropriate situation for discussions about proper chain of command. Unfortunately, Saren's new trainee apparently lacked the sense to understand this.
In retrospect, Saren mused as he met the defiant stare of his trainee with a frosty look of his own, suggesting Nihlus as a Spectre candidate had been a mistake he had come to regret, and would continue to regret even further..
He really should have seen beforehand that the otherwise promising candidate had a serious attitude problem.
Or else, Saren had a problem with his attitude, which of course made it once again Nihlus' problem, so there really was no difference in the end.
Saren had been impressed by the young soldier's accomplishments which suggested confidence, the ability to think on his feet and a sound mind for planning, all of those qualities that a Spectre needed, and he had therefore put in his recommendation to consider Nihlus for Spectre candidacy. At the time, the fact that the younger turian was a misfit among his peers hadn't bothered him much; it was to be expected, after all. The same qualities that defined a Spectre made such a person rather unfit to remain and function properly within the strict confines that normal turian military set upon them.
And the streak of independence the soldier was displaying fit the requirements of a Spectre just as well. True, a Spectre was bound by the Council's orders, but the way they executed those orders was up to the individual. They always had to be responsible for their own decisions, and had to be confident enough to do so and comfortable with doing that.
So, a strong will was a normal and necessary quality in any Spectre candidate.
Unfortunately, training any such person required a lot of patience, and Saren had so far avoided this particular duty. He'd never accepted any trainee before, and he never had intended to do so. He didn't consider training anyone his function, he had made that clear from the beginning, and until now not even the question had come up again.
Besides, he simply didn't care for company and always worked alone, and that preference of his was well-known.
With these facts firmly established, Saren really hadn't expected to be required to see to Nihlus' training personally when he had filed that recommendation, but for some reason this time the Council had insisted this time, and there had been no way to refuse with any semblance of grace. His options had been very limited: he could either withdraw his recommendation, which would be an admission of a mistake making it in the first place, or he could see this through and prove that his evaluation of the young soldier's abilities was correct. In any case, he'd been outmanoeuvred, and that annoyed him most.
He hated being weighted down by anyone, he hated having to explain himself, and more than anything else, he hated being questioned.
And Nihlus, of course, was questioning his decisions all the time, and he wasn't even bothering to show proper respect about it either.
It was infuriating.
It had only been days, but Saren already missed being on his own again, which meant having enough quiet around him to hear himself think, and enforcing that quiet with heavy weaponry if threats and his carefully maintained and well deserved reputation of unpredictable violence didn't suffice.
He didn't have much patience with people at the best of times, and this wasn't one of those. It remained to be seen how long his patience would hold out under the strain. He once again reminded himself that, sadly, it was against proper etiquette to shoot one's trainee for being insufferable.
This latest disagreement now was about tactics. Nihlus wanted them to split up and circle around the perimeter to either find another entrance to the base or at least find a good spot to hide and get at the backs of any pirates who would show up to meet Saren's straight-on approach.
The idea wasn't bad, nor was it something Saren himself hadn't considered, but Saren didn't know his trainee's abilities yet, much less trust into them enough to risk his life on them. Therefore he had simply dismissed the suggestion out of hand.
In a proper turian soldier, this would have been the end of it. In Nihlus, who apparently didn't know enough about discipline to spell the word correctly, it had started a rather heated declaration that Nihlus knew what to do, was more than capable of doing his part, and insisted that Saren at least gave a reason to his decision not to take his suggestion.
"I wasn't aware that I had asked your opinion." Saren stated coldly. "But to clarify, I have no intention to let you sneak off and attempt any more complicated tactics before I know your abilities and can be certain that you can be counted upon to make a difference in our favour instead of endangering me and our mission."
Nihlus scoffed at that, but before he could again voice his disagreement, Saren cut across. "This discussion is ended. You will either follow my lead and do as you are told, or your training ends here and now, and I will most certainly not allow you back on my ship again."
Given that Saren's ship was the only way off this asteroid, since they had waited for their targets' small fleet to leave before striking, that threat of being abandoned on a airless asteroid in the middle of nowhere held enough weight to make even Nihlus shut up.
Saren had to console himself with the thought that that was at least a sign of basic intelligence.
The younger turian lowered his head slightly, and Saren chose to accept that as sufficient for the moment. He didn't miss the angry gleam in the other's eyes, clearly visible even through the helmet of his hard-suit, and the rebellious set of his shoulders, though, and knew that they would have to have a serious discussion about respect and proper conduct later on. He wasn't looking forward to this, not at all.
He snorted and lead them on forward.
Despite their targets being holed up in a fortified base, and the two of them being outnumbered, this wasn't a mission Saren considered all that risky. The pirates had nowhere to run to, no ship to flee on, and by all counts there were less than eight of them still in the base.
Usually Saren wouldn't even have bothered with them, but piracy in general annoyed him, and it was a good start to evaluate his trainee's abilities in real combat. The chances of his trainee getting himself killed in this one were very low, unless Nihlus did something exceedingly stupid. Which would, of course, disqualify him as a candidate in any case.
He didn't bother about stealth either, so when they were spotted, and the first of the pirates came out guns in hand to meet them, he calmly chose a spot from where he had a good view of the battlefield, went into cover and gestured for Nihlus to go on.
Nihlus threw him a disbelieving look. "Are you serious?"
"I am supposed to evaluate your performance." Saren replied coldly, annoyed at having to state the obvious again. "So. Feel free to proceed at your own pace."
Nihlus snarled, but soon was too busy trying not to get hit and focused his concentration on fighting and remaining alive. He cursed under his breath, then sensibly targeted his anger at their opponents.
From time to time Saren aimed his sniper rifle to place a few well-aimed shots, taking care that Nihlus didn't notice him evening the odds a bit, but mostly he stayed back, wanting to see what the young soldier could do.
He continued to observe Nihlus' progress critically, especially as the pirates brought a hidden defence turret into play. By Nihlus' rather unprofessional yet descriptive curse at that, he deduced that Nihlus hadn't spotted the camouflaged structure before, but his reflexes as he evaded were most satisfactory.
After a while, as the sounds of battle quieted down, Saren nodded to himself. His new trainee didn't handle himself too badly in a fight. That came as no surprise given the contents of his service record, of course, but Saren didn't put much trust in those, ever. After all, he knew what his own said.
"I'm done here. Everything's nice and safe, so you can come out now." Nihlus' voice held barely restrained disgust and anger.
Saren shook his head again. This was shaping up to be a real test of his patience.