Let me lay with all your secrets
Cross the line of rhyme and reason
You're never better off alone
Here we go, here we go
Here we go, here we go
Silhouettes in dust clouds
Revelate in consummation
Nothing's ever too loud
When you don't need conversation
Here We Go by Alex & Sierra
A week after visiting with Vega, Garrus dreamt of Shepard again.
They were standing on the restricted area of the Presidium where they'd done target practice. It was exceptionally bright outside, but all the colors seemed faded, as if the contrast on the image wasn't quite right.
Shepard didn't acknowledge him, her eyes fixed down and over the edge. Garrus moved forward to see what she was looking at. There was a group of people below them, many he didn't know, but he recognized Councilor Lyric, Vega, Hackett, Liara, and for some odd reason, Xanossi. Also among them was Hyatt, the bearded man from the radical group out in the wastelands. They were looking up frequently, shouting things, and talking to each other. Garrus couldn't understand any of what they were saying.
"What's going on?" he asked Shepard, bringing his eyes back to her.
"They want to find me," she replied, still staring down.
"Shepard, I want to find you," he said, stepping forward and reaching for her hand. As he took it she turned to him and met his eyes.
"I'm learning," she told him, and for a brief moment she smiled.
"Do you need my help?" he asked urgently. Suddenly she recoiled back, her hands covering her face as she grimaced.
"It's not safe," she hissed, then turned and darted to the other side of the platform, away from the crowd.
"No! Shepard!" Garrus shouted, but by the time he started moving she had already leaped off the edge.
He woke with a start, his arm flailing and grabbing hold of the large, cushy, dusty couch he'd fallen asleep on. His heart was beating fast and he fought to catch his breath. He was in a small studio apartment out in the wastelands; the kitchen and bathroom were tiny and there wasn't even a bed, just the large couch he'd crashed on. Bright light was filtering through the hazy air and a flimsy curtain, making everything seem a shade of yellow.
Garrus sat himself up, glancing first at his bag and armor, to make sure everything was where it should be. He picked up his personal omnitool and had more unread messages than he expected, even though he knew he'd let a few accumulate. It was probably time to follow up with some of those, but first, he began to compose a new one.
I've attached a ping of my current location. Are you scanning? Did Shepard's signature show up here just now? Let me know ASAP.
Once that was sent, he went back to his inbox and clicked on one of the unread messages.
I don't know much about what kind of grand adventures you're having or looking for right now, but I decided to be bold and reach out to you.
How would you feel about regular appearances at Spectre Status? You got a taste of the kind of profits we can make when you and Mr. Vega are there. I believe he told you that a good amount of my profits go back into rebuilding efforts?
If I can get you and Mr. Vega on an official schedule and make some marketing campaigns, I guarantee we'll sell out of spectator passes. We may even need to expand our viewing areas! Perhaps every two weeks?
I've attached a file with some proposed figures for you and Mr. Vega, anticipated profits, and exactly where income from your showings would go. Mr. Vega has said he's open to moving forward. Let me know your thoughts and I'm happy to negotiate further.
Spectre Status, CEO
P.S.: We'll have higher difficulties available next week, and the team is also working on more intricate objectives. I think you'll be very pleased!
Garrus opened the attached file and quickly scanned it, but wasn't really internalizing any information, just checking for red flags. He backed out of that one and opened the next message, which was an ad for the grand opening of a salon specializing in human hair and skin. His mandibles twitched as he removed himself from that mailing list.
The next unread message was from Grunt.
How's it going on the Citadel? Are you finding enough action to keep you busy?
Wrex already has a couple hundred sired spawn. Bakara is bringing back this Rite of Honor thing to be eligible to breed, and get this: it has nothing to do with combat. She wants me to be the first krogan to go back to being "cultured", whatever that means.
Anyway, she wants me to learn something like that thing you did with Shepard. With the music and the fancy footwork? Is that even possible?
Please say no.
Garrus spent a good five minutes laughing before spending another five trying to stop. He clicked on reply.
The Citadel will never be as entertaining as the visual you just gave me. Thank you very much.
It's called dancing. Specifically, a tango.
Is it possible for krogans? Specifically, you?
Message sent. The next unread was from Xanossi Jannure. He took a deep breath, unsure of what he would find. Maybe it was just about her research? Either way, he was glad he didn't take Vega's bet. He opened it up.
I was talking with Liara the other day and mentioned how you figured out that Shepard's connections with the Prothean devices likely wouldn't impact her ability to activate the Catalyst. She offered to get me in touch with you, just in case there's more you may be able to help me with in the future. ;)
I know Hackett wants you mainly kept out of the loop... high emotions, conflict of interest, and all that. But maybe I could drop a few hints, and you could masterfully deduce some secrets from there. In exchange for you sharing some of Shepard's, of course.
Maybe we could have lunch somewhere less Alliance, more intimate? You're my best connection to Shepard, Vakarian. And I'd really appreciate you giving me the chance to see what else I can get out of you. ;)
Let me know, 'kay?
Garrus had no idea how to feel about that and didn't want to spend the time thinking on it now. His last message was from Liara and he had a feeling he already knew what it would say.
How are you? Hackett's told me he has you working on something for him, but he says it's classified. Of course, my network is recovering nicely, and I could probably find out on my own soon anyway.
I spoke with an asari from the team studying the Cynosure. Every now and then they share new theories with me, but so far it looks like there's very little definitively understood about it.
The synthesis is becoming more clear, though. They've started testing perception, reflexes, and problem-solving in organic beings and are seeing drastic increases across the board. It makes me wonder if the average soldier will now be as capable as Shepard was, perhaps more. Can you imagine?
Anyway, I hope you give Xanossi a chance. She seems nice. I'm not trying to tell you to date her or anything, but I know you could use some more people to talk to. Most of us had a clear path laid out for us after the war, but I know that without Shepard you're left somewhat adrift...
Have you gone to visit your father and sister yet? I hear Palaven is recovering very well.
Keep in touch.
Garrus sat back for a moment, rubbing the back of his neck. Messages from Liara always seemed so bittersweet; many times they included topics he didn't want to discuss, and yet the way he could hear her calm tone saying them made it difficult to be bothered by it. After a deep breath he leaned forward again and began writing out a reply.
I haven't been to Palaven yet. I'm not sure yet when I'll go, but I do talk with my family fairly often. I think my sister met a guy, so I'll probably have to go beat him up soon.
Turians always recover quickly; we know cleaning up after war almost as well as we know war.
Xanossi wants to talk about Shepard. I don't, most of the time. Especially with someone who's flirting with me. At least, I think she's flirting. ;) means she's flirting, right?
If your network is up for it, I have a favor to ask. Can you look into Wigort Mizuo? He owns and operates Spectre Status on the Citadel. He claims a lot of his profit goes back into rebuilding efforts and I want to know if that's true. Let me know what you find, if you can pull that off.
He nearly put his omnitool away when a reply from Vega came through, which he quickly opened.
It's still telling me she's there. What's going on?
I think I may have found another group of anti-syns a couple hours ago. I'm really far from where you found them; that's bad news if they're more widespread than we think. I sent the report to Hackett after I'd moved on. Maybe he'll get some more official action taken there.
If you're sensing Shepard in the same places my scanner is, shouldn't we tell Hackett about this? Maybe the research team can do something about it. What if they could find her? Could she really beat death twice?
This blows my mind, man. But I won't bring it up to Hackett unless you want me to.
Garrus had shuddered at the first sentence. Could she be there now, watching him? His eyes slowly scanned the room but he wasn't sure what he expected to see.
What had she said in the dream? She was learning? Learning what? And... it's not safe? In his mind he saw her diving off the beam of the Presidium again and he took a shaky breath. He looked back at his omnitool.
I was just dreaming about her. That's all.
If you want to tell Hackett, go ahead, but leave me out of it. Say it's happening to you. I'm not sure what he can or will do with that information, but maybe it will get to someone who can utilize it in a productive manner.
Tell me when it shows that she's moved on.
He didn't know what to do next. Should he get moving and see if Shepard's reading followed? Maybe try and go back to sleep and see if he would have another dream? He put down the omnitool and reclined on the couch, propping his feet up on the small coffee table and closing his eyes.
He let himself think of Shepard. It felt like peeling back the layers of his heart and mind, exposing the part of him he'd put away because it was no longer being used. It was still easy to bring to mind her smile, her laugh, her hardset jaw in the face of a new mission. The hard part was being without them, without interaction, without somewhere for his love to go. He saw her in his mind, geared up and waiting for him in the hangar bay of the Normandy.
"Get ready to roll," she'd say.
Like a reflex, Garrus broke out of the memory and stood up, beginning to put on his gear. He paused; where was he going? All he could think was "get ready to roll" in Shepard's voice. He didn't understand it, but he continued putting on his armor and packing his bag, unable to deny the urging he felt. He didn't waste any time, and was soon quickly descending the stairs of the apartment complex.
Get ready to roll.
Just before he walked out the front door a thundering explosion shook the walls. He froze, steadying himself as it passed, then darted out the doors and looked down what used to be a street. Not too far down, a three story building was collapsing, the rumbling shaking the ground and rippling through his chest.
Get ready to roll.
As the dust began to settle, he could see that the one next to it was missing a chunk from the corner closest to the one that fell. There was shouting coming from that direction, barely louder than the sound of debris settling and the second building struggling to hold itself up.
Get ready to roll.
Garrus darted towards the building, tossing his bag into the skycar as he passed it. He gripped his pistol, unsure what he would find; there wasn't supposed to be anyone out here. As ran forward, he saw two male humans and an asari shouting at each other.
"...such idiots! You have no idea what you're doing!" one of the humans was saying.
"It was the first attempt, it couldn't be expected to be perfect!" the asari defended.
"I would've settled for not blowing up!" he retaliated.
"It's just a price to pay for--"
The second human cut himself off when they all noticed Garrus approaching. They tensed visibly and looked unhappy.
"What's going on here?" Garrus asked, but immediately regretted it; he sounded too much like C-Sec. Some habits died hard, if at all.
"Nothing," one human replied.
"Electrical malfunction, I guess," the asari shrugged. That was when Garrus heard it; there was a buzzing and cracking coming from somewhere within the second building.
Get ready to roll.
"Was there anyone else with you?" he asked the three individuals in front of him.
"Where's Ponia?" the first human asked.
"I thought she followed me out," the asari replied.
Get ready to roll.
"If you tell me she's just a price to pay for--"
Garrus didn't hear the rest as he darted into the second building, following the sound of insecure electricity. He appeared to be in some kind of large lobby, probably housing business offices on the higher floors. Furniture was minimal and very modern, and the lights were flickering sporadically. He went to the back of the room and passed by some elevators to find a staircase, with stairs going both up and down. The sound was coming from below.
The basement was a maintenance area and was very dark, save for the uncontrolled sparking of some kind of terminal in the back. He froze at the bottom of the stairs, his nerves escalating as he heard another sound: water.
Get ready to roll.
"Who's there?! Please help me!" a voice called. It was female and turian.
Garrus flicked on his flashlight and looked around. The terminal was barely visible, nearly surrounded by shelves of servers and generators, and he couldn't see the water pipe that had likely gotten dislodged and overfilled when the adjacent building went down. Kneeling on top of a cabinet not far from the malfunctioning terminal was, presumably, Ponia.
"Who are you?!" she questioned. Garrus didn't answer, he was too busy trying to figure out a solution. He couldn't get anywhere near her without risking electrocution as water was already covering the floor.
Get ready to roll.
"Can you get further from the terminal?" he called. "I can short it out from here, but you need to try and get out of the blast radius."
Ponia began looking around then slowly brought herself to her feet. She couldn't quite stand all the way up due to the height of the ceiling, but the next unit was close. She made her way over to it, then clambered onto another. There was a loud creaking sound from somewhere, everywhere, up above.
"This is as far as I can go," she told him, the other units being either too far away or too tall for her to safely traverse. Garrus was worried it still wouldn't be quite far enough.
"Can you hang off the side closest to me? Just for a second?"
"Uh... I think so," Ponia nodded, looking down at the water that was already several inches high. "Tell me when."
Get ready to roll.
Ponia dropped herself down, clinging to the top of the cabinet and keeping her feet up as she used it as a shield. In the same moment, Garrus fired an overload at the terminal and it burst like firework. Ponia flinched but kept her hold, waiting to ensure there were no more sparks.
"Do you think it's all discharged?" she asked. The building overhead began to groan.
"I think it's time to test the theory," he grunted, gesturing for her to come towards him.
Ponia braced herself, then dropped down. She and Garrus both let out a breath in relief, then she charged for him and the stairs. They raced out of the building, Garrus on her heels.
"Ponia!" the human from before called. Ponia ran straight to him and they embraced enthusiastically. The other human and the asari fidgeted uncomfortably and Garrus's mind was racing, trying to figure out how to proceed from there. With Hackett and the Citadel backing him, he had plenty of authority, but acting on it would reveal too much. Luckily, with the black armor on his side, he could stand there and look imposing even as he struggled to come up with a next move.
Get ready to roll.
Oh. Of course.
Suddenly his thoughts were once again his own voice. Without another word he simply turned and walked away, back towards his skycar.
"Uh, wait--" Ponia began, but the asari cut her off.
"Let him go, Ponia. It's better that way."
Garrus switched a setting on his gear to be able to speak without his voice leaving his helmet. He sent a ping to his dispatch line.
"Dispatch. Verify?" The voice sounded male and salarian, but that was all Garrus knew about the dispatch line.
"Ping my location. Explosion here, effecting two buildings, one--"
The ground shook as the debris thundered to the ground. Garrus paused and looked back, seeing the four others running out of sight, to safety. He sighed then continued walking towards his skycar.
"Both buildings collapsed. Four individuals, asari, two male human, one female turian, Ponia, on the scene..." He gave a brief description of each of them. "Apparent electrical malfunction, but I suspect foul play. Ponia was found near the terminal and the others argued about failing some kind of test... I recommend tracking them down and bringing them in, and getting them on a strict watchlist. Or at the very least, getting them watched out here. Contact was kept minimal, no likelihood of identity compromise."
Dispatch was quiet. His personal omnitool pinged and he glanced at it; a message from Vega. He ignored it for now. Eventually dispatch spoke again.
"...we'll be downloading data from your armor to get appropriate visuals."
"Understood," he replied. "Over and out."
"Over and out."
Dispatch disconnected. Garrus arrived at his skycar and got in, then took his helmet off, setting it on the seat next to him facing away. He pulled his omnitool back out and opened the message from Vega.
It moved just a little bit, like a block away, maybe? Hung out there then just now disappeared. Something going down?
Garrus glanced up one more time to make sure nobody was approaching, then prepared a reply.
Yeah. Two whole buildings went down. I'll tell you the full story later. Thanks for keeping me informed. I think... I really think she's here.
Another message pinged through, this time from Liara.
Mizuos bank records? Child's play.
The guy's clean as whistle. It turns out he lost a lot of family in the war. His donations to rebuilding go through a foundation he set up in their honor. All the numbers are above board there, too.
So... does this mean you're going to make regular appearances at Spectre Status?
I promise to come and spectate sometime, if so.
Garrus couldn't help smiling. It would be good to get a whole bunch of the team back together again. It would certainly help out Spectre Status... He opened up a new message.
I'm in. Maybe we can even arrange some more guest appearances...
Let's talk scheduling soon.