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Finding Love Among the Stars

Chapter Text


 

 

They woke with the constant buzzing sound of the alarm Shepard had set for the next morning. Shepard disentangled herself from Vashlani and headed for the shower while he stretched and yawned before slipping on his hide pants and going to feed his hamster. He was sitting in her chair using her terminal to send Garrus a message when she walked out of the bathroom.

“What’re you doing?” She pulled out a set of her nicer casual clothing and sent a notice for a gear crate to be brought up to her room.

“Vashlani is sending Garrus a message. This khajiit had something to run through the fabricator and had a question to ask before he did.” He stood up and walked down to the lower level opening a drawer and rooting around in the clothing sets he kept on the Normandy. “Hmm. This one will be back in about an hour; these just won’t do for the College.” He popped out of the Normandy while Shepard stood there holding a set of jeans and a long sleeved shirt wondering if they were appropriate now.

Shepard just finished packing her armor crate and notified Doc and Garrus to be ready. Joker was currently bringing the ship into the dock, and EDI just assured her that the containers were arriving at their assigned location to be available for an immediate transfer.

“Okay, as soon as I get back we’ll help Vashlani. Everyone needs to dress in their formals. No casuals. Garrus bring your weapons and armor crate down to the armory. Stock the heatsinks, just in case. Joker once we announce shore leave, lock the ship down and come to the hold. EDI check to make sure the pin camera you wanted is fully functional so you can join us as well.”

“Functioning as it should, Commander. Thank you for accepting my request to join you.”

Shepard smiled, “Not a problem, EDI. Glad we could do it. The camera needs to be off when I get to the Councilor’s office. They don’t take too kindly to them there.” Shepard stepped off the lift and headed to the bridge to wait for the clear signal for the doors to open.

 




Garrus started tucking heat sinks into his satchel, keeping a careful count, then stuffing the same amount into Shepard’s weapon case before closing it and hurrying toward the lift to go down.

“Garrus? Why are you carrying armor and weapon cases? I saw Shepard with hers heading toward the armory earlier as well. Why do you have hers also?” Kelly asked from in front of her terminal where she was entering in a few last comments before starting her shore leave. “Why are you all wearing dress formals?” He hurried on the lift and pressed the button, ignoring the questions that she had asked as the door started to close.

Chakwas waited in the cargo hold next to the dozen cold storage crates, the pallet filled with stacks of regular dry goods containers, and a half dozen crates of medical supplies. She found a supplier of cloth type bandages, usually only used in the poorer countries on Earth, and also was able to procure a considerable amount of a natural powdered disinfectant that they could replicate using common plant ingredients. One of the crates had several of the plants under a portable dome.

Garrus hurried toward her. “Is it all here, everything that we ordered?”

“Yes, the only thing left is to wait for Vashlani to come back and then we can show him how to work the controls for the mass effect fields, and we can start moving them. I pulled the seeds already, and as soon as we are back, I’ll take them to Mordin. I locked them in the cupboard in the med bay.”

“The last of the crew left the ship, EDI’s confirmation just came through. I’m locking down the Normandy and will be down there, don’t go anywhere without me,” Joker said over the comm, the excitement he felt was apparent in the tone of his voice.

Garrus hurried over to the fabricator and started it going with the list of things Vashlani wanted to be made with the crates of supplies that he ordered.




“Vashlani is now onboard, I have let him know that all of you are in the cargo hold and are awaiting Shepard’s arrival.”

“Thanks, EDI,” Joker said as he stood next to the pallet of crates containing several portable mass effect field generators. They had been busy moving the containers onto more manageable pallets.

When Vashlani saw how many crates were waiting for him, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“These are all for Vashlani’s people?” He looked at the silver colored containers, the white containers with the big red cross symbol on it that he recognized as the human’s medical symbol now, and the unmarked other boxes that were piled up.

“Yes, food and medical supplies. Mordin is also helping to make some of the seeds more tolerant to your weather. The food will be larger and healthier for you to eat,” Chakwas told him as they watched Garrus and Joker lining up the filled pallets.

“When you’re ready we can start taking these into your home bag... thing. For now, let me show you how to work these things,” Joker told him and proceeded to show him how the buttons worked and which one did what then let him play around with an empty pallet to get the hang of it.

Once they had everything set up and ready Vashlani took off the pocket bag and activated it, slowly widening the opening for one of the others to maneuver the pallet into the opening. “Vash, that’s still freaky as hell,” Joker told him as the last of the pallets disappeared inside the bag, and Vashlani slowly closed it up.

“Vashlani sent word to the College; they will be awaiting our arrival. We must take things slow, as where we will be teleporting into is a small storage room. So one at a time going through the portal. This khajiit will open the bag, and we can bring out supplies, they must be moved slowly as not to damage my bag.”

A few hours later Shepard came hurrying across the cargo hold, Garrus handed her the N7 branded armor and weapon crate, and they all assured Vashlani they were ready. They held hands to form a circle, and the group disappeared.

Vashlani opened the doors to the portal room, then slowly and carefully stretched the bag’s opening. He reached in and grabbed hold of a crate’s handle and tugged. Vashlani checked his bag over once they removed all the containers then tied it back to his waist cording before he covered it with his tunic and satchel.

“Vashlani will go through the portal to make sure everything is ready, then will come back for Shepard, Joker, and Healer. Each of you will go through the portal one at a time, then move away from the area; the Arch-Mage will help you. When the Arch-Mage signals us, Garrus and this khajiit will move one pallet at a time, pushing it through the portal. Each of you will move them to where the Arch-Mage indicates. When all of them are through, we will join you. Ready?”

After they had nodded he walked up to the portal and activated it; they watched as he stepped through.

“That thing is freaky, but it doesn’t hurt. Vash brought me through it before, on the first Normandy, that’s how he got me on the ship so we could steal it and get to Ilos,” Joker told them all, and it seemed to put the others at a bit more ease. Of course with Garrus already experiencing the whole movement thing with the map, a portal wasn’t too much of a stretch for him.

Vashlani looked around and made sure nothing was blocking the way around the portal and told the Arch-Mage to be ready. He noticed that Colette was already there and off to the side in the main room was Makmar, the two older mages that ran the large College kitchen, and Tolfdir. Vashlani quickly reminded them that the people were to be protected, no one was to mention them, and not to be alarmed by one’s appearance, as it was unusual.

He glanced around then walked back into the storage room. A moment later an older female stumbled, and the Arch-Mage caught her, quickly signaling for Colette to make sure the woman was alright, then turned to help the young man that must have the unusual health condition that they wanted Colette to have a look at. “Colette, please help this young man and be very careful with him, he is the one you will need to try and heal later.”

After that, a woman with a blaze of red hair and a large shiny case came walking out of the room. “Ah, you must be the Commander Shepard I have heard so much about from Vashlani. Welcome. One of our healers is tending to your companions; they were a bit shaken up.” The red eyes of the Arch-Mage wandered over the young woman that had held the attentions of the khajiit mage for so many years.

“Thank you for the welcome, sir. The crew of the Normandy is grateful for all the help that Vashlani, along with you and the College have provided to us. The information you gave us helped us to cure many survivors and has helped our scientist to come up with a way to protect us from the enemies. As a thank you, we would like to gift to you and your people some food and supplies. Vashlani has instructed you on the use of the food? It is a bit different than what you are used to.” Shepard placed her crate on the floor out of the way and did something to her hand which caused a bright orange-yellow glow to surround it. The other two joined her, the same light surrounding their hands.

“Yes, I was and passed the information to our kitchen staff. Let me send the signal through, one moment.”

The Arch-Mage moved to the storage room door not seeing the way the Doc’s eyebrow rose or her lips curl slightly. Shepard however did and gave her a grin. Chakwas shrugged, “He’s even more intriguing than I remember.”

“Uh-huh, sounds like someone has been nurturing a crush on a certain Arch-Mage.” Shepard elbowed the Doc who only gave a light grunt before grinning.

When the Arch-Mage backed out of the room, Shepard took a step toward the door and braced herself for the pallet in case it came through faster and harder than what they were expecting. The first crate came through sliding rapidly toward them, and her omni tool flashed, a purple field sprang up, and the pallet came to a halt when the field caught it.

“Medical,” Shepard said, and the Doc hurried forward. They all heard the gasps as the pallet floated in the air and settled in the area that was for those supplies. “Another one, Doc.”

“Joker, this one’s dry goods.” Joker limped over, and his arm glowed as he moved the box to the corner and waited. The pallets kept coming, and they all noticed the looks on the faces of the College people at the number of boxes and crates that Vashlani's friends gave to them.

“Doc, here comes the cold storage,” Shepard said and grunted as the force of the much heavier silver container bowed out the mass effect field, and she shouldered it to stop it. As the last of the food containers came through Shepard rolled her shoulder and shook her wrist, the glow disappeared as did the other ones.

She kept rubbing at her shoulder, and the one mage stepped forward. “Here let me heal --,” she stopped as Shepard smiled but shook her head.

“Your magic can’t help me, unfortunately. People from my dimension... changed me, and the heals that you or Vashlani do will no longer work on me. I do thank you for the offer though.”

Chakwas stepped next to Shepard, and the orange glow came back. “Bruising only, Shepard. Nothing was broken or dislocated.” She pulled out an auto-injector from a small bag at her waist, and they all watched as she tipped Shepard’s head to the side and held it to her neck. The red haired woman winced as a click sounded.

“Divines, what sort of summoned being are you?” One of the kitchen mages was pointing to the storage room as Vashlani and Garrus came through.

Garrus gave a small chuckle. “I’m a turian, not a summoned being. At least you didn’t call me a thing.”

“This is Garrus; he is Vashlani’s good friend and a warrior.” Vashlani’s whiskers twitched as he moved over to Shepard. “What happened, why are you in pain?”

“Nothing to worry about, Vashlani. At least with the countermeasure we have working, we can start getting this crap out of me and get me back to somewhat normal.” Shepard let out a slight hiss as she gave a shrug. Vashlani brushed her cheek with his thumb, a small glow encased his hand, and he gave a sad sounding purr as it had no effect on her.

“Get a room later you two, let’s help them get all this stuff put away so we can see what this world is like.” Joker limped his way over to the dry goods section, a smirk on his face as he managed to dodge the flick of Vashlani’s hand, keeping his hat on. Until Vashlani cast telekinesis on it. “Hey, that’s cheating.”

“The other instructors are holding classes in the main hall. When you're ready, we can move these...boxes. The best place for them is down in the guarded storage area. Makmar is in charge of the school’s supplies and keeps the storage rooms locked.” The Arch-Mage joined them, and Makmar came over with them.

“When the Arch-Mage asked me to clean out a storage room, I was not expecting such a large amount of goods. I’m not sure if we’re going to have enough room in there for all of this.” The orc scratched his head and glanced at all of the containers.

“The ones that are over next to Joker, those are stocks for the school. Corks, sealing wax, phials. You can add them to the regular stock room. Vashlani requested as much material as they could find so Garrus could make them for the school.”

The orc nodded, “Hmm, in that case, those can stay here, and we can take them down later. Draw a bit less attention that way. What about the other ones?”

Shepard led them to the white boxes with the red symbol, “These are medical supplies. They contain essential items such as bandages, rolls of gauze, and an herbal antiseptic; it's a cleaner to keep wounds from getting infected. Also one of these contains boxes of a mixture that you can use to soak your used linen wraps in after you thoroughly wash them, it will disinfect them. Let them be used again with a minimal chance of contamination of another’s wounds. It will also clean and sanitize any linen wraps that are... uh, scavenged from elsewhere. Doc there has a list of what was used to make it and how to do it. We also brought the plants it’s made from, in case you didn’t have them already.” She let out a small snort as she had turned just as the Doc gave a flirtatious look to the Arch-Mage before handing him the roll of paper. The Arch-Mage's large red eyes blinked before Shepard saw the man stroke his beard and give the older woman a smile.

Shepard moved to the large silver containers, “These are cold storage containers for long term food storage. Keeps everything nice and cold, so it doesn’t spoil so fast. Joker has a list of what is in each container and how to open it. The batteries they run on should last about... I don’t know, 30 maybe 40 years before they stop working.” She opened up one of the containers, and a blast of cold air came out along with turning the air around them foggy. “The food is to be mixed in your soups and stews, to extend them. This food can be cooked and ate as it is if you get really, really desperate. But it tastes horrible like that.” She closed the lid and heard the snickers from the kitchen staff. She answered their questions as best she could with how the units worked to keep the food so cold and if they could store other things in there.

“Once one of them is empty, yeah, I guess so. Meats can be wrapped to protect them from the extreme cold and put in there to keep fresh. I wouldn’t put fresh fruits or vegetables in there though; I don’t think they would do so well.” Makmar let out a grunt and walked around the dozen crates.

“Tolfdir? Can your telekinesis lift one of these big boxes?” Makmar asked as he continued to look over all of the items.

An older human came forward, “Well now, I don’t know, let’s have a go at it shall we?”

Shepard moved away from the crates, stopping beside Vashlani, who put his arm around her waist. She gave him a nudge and tipped her head to the side. He glanced over seeing the Arch-Mage not paying a bit of attention to the others; he was deep in conversation with the Healer. At least it looked like a conversation until the Arch-Mage smirked and stroked his beard again. Vashlani purred and let out a small chuckle as he turned back to the others seeing Tolfdir raise one of the containers several feet in the air before it floated toward him.

“Hmm, maybe it would work. We would need to mark these somehow so that we can check it against that parchment, then one of the Alteration mages can help to move them when necessary. Stack them no more than three high. We can sneak a full box from the storage area to the kitchen’s stockroom after it’s closed for the night. Yes, yes I think that would work,” Makmar said to the mages that ran the kitchen.

“Arch-Mage, we’re ready to start moving them now.” Makmar turned when he wasn’t answered to see the Arch-Mage flirting with the woman who giggled like a lass at whatever he said to her.

Makmar cleared his throat to get his attention then repeated that they were ready.

“Oh, yes, yes of course.” The Arch-Mage turned his attention back to Chakwas, “now don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back, and we can continue our discussion.” He grinned at her and gave his beard a stroke before hurrying over to join the other mages in moving the containers.

“Maybe I should have told you and that guy to get a room instead of Shepard and Vash,” Joker said from across the room as they watched two of the mages lift the large containers and start maneuvering them down the winding staircase.

Vashlani grinned at the Healer who had turned a shade of pink. “They wouldn’t have had to go far as we are standing in the Arch-Mages living quarters.” He gave Shepard’s waist a slight squeeze reminding them all not to touch anything as this room contained many powerful magical artifacts, “This whole room pulses with magic, some of it incredibly dangerous to the unwary.”

After Vashlani had left, Garrus grabbed his large armor crate and headed back to the stockroom where he changed into his armor. He hadn’t minded answering all the questions that a few of the mages had tossed his way, they seemed curious not disrespectful, and he appreciated it, considering how some people from his dimension had treated Vashlani. When he finished, Shepard did the same. She was just attaching the rest of her weapons to the magnetic harnesses on the back of her armor when the group returned.

Seeing the strange armor and what must have been weaponry caused another round of questions and answers. While the group answered the questions as best they could, Vashlani went into his pocket bag and changed into his armor. He filled another sack with food and drinks for Garrus. He made sure his travel bag had enough for him and Shepard.

“A courier dropped this off for you, Vashlani; it’s from Windhelm.” The Arch-Mage handed him a satchel that looked stuffed to the brim with papers. Vashlani smiled and purred, quickly draping it across his shoulder before turning to the others.

“Are you both ready?” Vashlani asked as he handed the food sack to Garrus and watched as he slipped it into the enchanted satchel he wore. “Garrus you still have the emergency portal scroll Vashlani gave you the last time?”

Garrus assured him he did, and they both said they were ready, EDI ran checks, and upgraded Shepard's suit with the new communications protocol. Vashlani nodded then reminded them that if he fell since the portal was closed, the only way back was through that scroll and help from the Arch-Mage. They all said they understood.

“Joker, you and Healer will be safe here. Listen to what the Arch-Mage tells you and be careful of the elf named Ancano.”

Colette moved near Joker. “We shall make sure your friends remain safe. While you explore, I will see if I can do some healing and research, maybe I can find something to help him in some of the old tomes in the library.”

“Ah, do not worry so Vashlani, your healer friend is in safe hands. I will take excellent care of her, now hurry along and show your other friends some of Skyrim,” the Arch-Mage said as he wrapped the Doc’s arm around his and wandered off to the other side of his quarters. “Let me show you my private garden, my dear. I have many unusual plants that you have never seen.”

Vashlani shook his head then put on his helmet, making sure everything synced before he pulled out the map and told Shepard how it worked. Garrus already knew, so he spent the time putting on his own helmet and checking the heatsinks. Garrus had EDI run additional diagnostics to make sure his heating system was fully functional as he had made some improvements and hoped that he no longer froze if they hit another blizzard.

“Here is where we are now.” Vashlani pointed to the symbol for the College. “These larger symbols are for the hold’s main towns, where the Jarls are, with Garrus in the party we cannot go to any of the cities. It’s why this khajiit provided you with extra food and mead. We can go to some of these outlying areas. There are caves and old ruins that are small. Since we have but two days we can spend here, we can do those. Or we can begin a Dwemer ruin; we may not be able to finish it though.”

“We can always come back though, right? During long travels or other shore leaves?” Garrus asked as he looked over the map, his visor making a quick scan of it.

“Yes, but there are no promises that others will not come behind us to finish looting them, leaving us nothing. Also... some of the Dwemer constructs have the ability to repair other machines. So it is also possible that we find enemies and no loot.” Vashlani’s whiskers and tail gave a twitch, his hand ever so slightly clenched at the thought.

The others looked at the map and asked what the symbols on it were and why some were dark and others had color to them. “The dark ones are places this khajiit hasn’t been to yet. If this one knows a specific location and name, I can mark it on the map. If Vashlani happens to pass close enough to the entrance, it can be marked. The colored ones, on the other hand, are the places Vashlani has been to. Towns, villages, camps, dungeons, ruins, and Giant camps are all marked and colored.”

“Did you say Giant camps? As in huge, grind your bones to make my bread Giants?” Joker asked as Colette continued to poke and prod at him.

“Uh... Vashlani doesn’t understand.”

“He means huge beings, like super-sized ugly humans. Our human fairy tales tell of very tall, very mean creatures that would kill people and eat them,” Shepard explained to him as he continued to scratch his head.

“Oh. The Giants here are not hostile, normally. Not unless you go into their territory and try to hurt them or the animals they herd. Or steal from their chest... unless they are far enough away that you can run in grab the loot then run out of their territory, Vashlani has a lot of experience doing that.”

“Commander, I want to see one of those. Maybe not in person... do you think you could go to one and do a vid stream? Ouch, watch it that hurt.”

Colette glowed slightly, and Joker let out a sigh. “Interesting.” She started to poke at him again.

Vashlani looked back over the map and pointed to one location. “Here. Crypt, Giant camp, and a Dwemer ruin that this one hasn’t been in yet. It is also close to Dawnstar. Garrus could stay in Vashlani’s home while we stay at the Inn if you want. Dawnstar is very cold and covered in snow and ice. Vashlani can buy Shepard clothes to wear so she wouldn’t stand out in this world.”

“Vashlani, just go to the stockroom and have Makmar give her a set of Novice College robes, hood, boots, and gloves. No need to spend your Septims.” The Arch-Mage and Doc had returned, her hair seemed to be a bit mused from the usual straight bob she wore it in, and her cheeks were rather pink. “These two will also be given clothing to wear for their stay with us to draw less attention from the others. The young man will be staying in Tolfdir’s room, and the lovely Healer will be rooming... elsewhere. Their clothing will be delivered to them shortly, and we can show them a bit of the College if they are interested.”

  Vashlani nodded and offered his thanks. “Now other than Dawnstar and the people traveling the road, we need to keep Garrus away from this area here, Hall of the Vigilant. They "hunt" vampires, werewolves, and Daedra worshippers. Most of them couldn’t tell a Daedra worshipper from a stump, but Garrus is different enough that he would draw their attention and attack without even thinking about it first. They have drawn more than one vampire clan’s ire. We do not want that kind of attention drawn to the College or us.”

“So why don’t we do what we did the first time, have me wait in the bag and when you reach the destination, make sure it’s clear then come get me. Less time I spend out in that damn snow the better anyway.” Garrus stood with his arms crossed as he looked down at the map. They agreed it was the best choice. Vashlani rolled up the map and tucked it into his pack, then took Garrus and Shepard into the bag before he jogged down the spiral case to the stockroom where Makmar handed him the clothes, this time without complaint.

Vashlani stood on the College’s Rampart and drew out the map, keeping it out of the ever blowing wind as much as he could. “Can everyone hear me?” A chorus of yes' coming back. “This khajiit is going to go to the Giant’s camp at Red Road Pass. Once I know it is clear I’ll bring Shepard and Garrus.”

“We’re ready, Vashlani,” Shepard said as she loaded the gun with a heat sink before slipping it back into the harness.

“The holo and vid links are ready and active Vashlani. Recordings are going into the protected area of your files. I’m ready to begin our adventure.” EDI’s voice joined the others; they could almost hear more than the artificial emotion of excitement when she spoke.

The next minute Vashlani crouched in the blowing snow behind a huge rock, his thick fur cloak wrapped about him, hiding the different armor. A minute later two other figures joined him.

“Holy shit, they are Giants. Can you get closer?” Joker’s excited voice came over their comm lines as they huddled behind the rock.

“Yes, some, but their herd is moving this way, that means so will the Giants,” Vashlani said then proceeded to go behind one of the painted rocks that marked the Giant’s staked out domain.

“Commander, can you zoom in on that rock painting,” Chakwas asked, her voice filled with awe.

“Spirits, what the hell are those things?” Garrus had his head poked out around the side of the formation; his visor focused on the large lumbering creatures heading their way.

“You have got to be shitting me! Are you seeing this Shepard? There is no way those are what I think they are. Right?”

Joker let out an ouch shortly afterward, followed by, “Well, that didn’t work, let me try again,” from the mage that wanted to heal him.

Shepard’s camera focused on the creatures. It was larger than an elephant and covered with thick brown hair. A long trunk and giant tusks gave a final clue to what they were. “Oh God, those are... they’re Wooly Mammoths. How can this be possible? They went extinct on Earth thousands of years ago. How the hell can they be here?”

“Is there a way you can get a sample? Hair, tusk, blood? Anything we can take back with us?” Chakwas asked, “if we can find enough viable DNA they can finally clone them and bring them back into existence on Earth.”

“You’re kidding, right? You do see the readout on those… I don’t know what you called them, but my translator called them hairy elephants,” Garrus said, his visor taking numerous scans of both the creatures heading toward them, one had what looked like a tree over its shoulder carting it as if it weighed nothing.

“Mammoth... Garrus. They’re called mammoths.” Shepard snickered.

“It is too dangerous if one of the mammoths thinks it is under attack, it brings the whole herd, along with the Giants, to their defense.” Vashlani moved to a different rock and spotted the chest. “Wait here, Vashlani will be right back.” Then he took off running down the slope and jumped off the top of a rock, twisting in mid-air to land in front of another rock and ducked under the overhang where they lost sight of him.

“Vashlani? What the hell are you doing? They’re coming this way,” Shepard hissed at him, and Joker laughed.

“He’s grabbing all this shit out of a chest, Shepard, and jamming it in his bag. Look at him go.” Joker was laughing, and less than a minute later Vashlani came tearing back up the slope toward them and skidded to a halt behind a rock; panting heavily.

“Vashlani said he was good at getting into those chests and away again.” He looked up at the position of the sun, “We need to leave now to get to the Frostmere Crypt before sundown. We do not want to be wandering around after dark outside.” He opened the map and checked the direction then headed southwest at a fast clip.

Vashlani watched from his perch in a large tree as several bandits seemed to attack another. When the woman was dead, they went back into the crypt. “This may not be a good idea.” He climbed down from the tree and made his way over to the female, removing all the armor and loot from her body before going into the bag.

“Vashlani needs to discuss this with you. There are bandits at the ruin. We can go in if you want, but none of them can be left alive. Vashlani is unsure how many or what else we may find.” He dumped all the loot he picked up on the floor in front of the General Goods box and started placing items inside of it.

“Where did you get that armor?” Garrus asked as he picked up a chest piece that still had fresh blood on it.

 “One of the bandits outside of the ruin was killed by others. Vashlani took what was usable.”

“You took the armor and stuff off the dead body?” Shepard asked him. She crossed her arms over her chest as she waited for an answer.
Vashlani stopped what he was doing and his ears rotated.

“Yes. Vashlani only did what we all do here to survive. Items of the fallen are taken and used if better or sold if not needed. Vashlani- Vashlani is sorry if this upsets you, but this khajiit has many expenses that he has to pay in this world. Many Septims are needed, and this is how he can help Shepard in her world and be able to do what needs to be done in his world. Otherwise... I will need to remain here. Even if that means losing Shepard... and Garrus’ friendship.” He grabbed up the other items and took the chest piece from Garrus, and dumped them into one of the storage chests inside the portal room.

“Why did you bring so much stuff to our dimension to sell then?” Garrus asked from the doorway.

“Because there are many things that Vashlani wanted from there, and with the machines like the fabricator, Vashlani can help the people here. He can provide for...” He closed the lid. “Are we going into the crypt? Or do you want to go elsewhere?”

“I say we go into the crypt. We are, in a way, already here. Right?” Garrus said, seeing the way Vashlani wouldn’t meet his eyes. The khajiit had another huge secret it seemed, one that he doubted even Shepard was aware of. “Shepard, what do you think?” Garrus said over his shoulder; she was out in the open cellar room watching the sphere separate the items.

“Sounds good.”



The two bandits that had attacked the other one lay dead at their feet, Shepard and Garrus was looking over the other items in the room while Vashlani removed the items from the bodies before joining them. “There are a bunch of books here, Vashlani.” Garrus had them piled in his arms and was reaching for another one.

Vashlani gave him some sacks to put his loot in. “The satchel you have is enchanted, you can carry many things other than food and heatsinks. We will unload them into a crate in the pocket bag when it gets too heavy.”

Vashlani pulled out another traveling bag from inside of his. “Vashlani made this for Shepard.”

She ran her hands over the fur, and her fingers encountered the metal symbol that adorned it, she picked it up from where it was nestled in the thick black fur to get a better look at it. “What is this?” Her gauntlet covered fingers moved over the five disks. Four smaller ones embossed with a variety of swirling patterns, the fifth was larger and embossed with a sort of knotwork and a large blue-green stone in the center.

Vashlani’s whiskers twitched. “Just an amulet. Vashlani hopes you like it.”

Shepard smiled at him and told him she did before adding her loot to it and slipping it on her back.



*Meanwhile back at the College EDI continued to stream the live feed to Joker and Chakwas’ omni tools.*



Joker looked over at the laughing dark elf who had his arm around the Doc as they watched the streaming vid at the next table over.

“Savos? What’s so funny?” Chakwas asked him and snuggled a bit closer to the Dunmer.

“Your Commander Shepard has no idea, does she? Vashlani just gave her an Amulet of Mara attached to that bag.” The Arch-Mage looked at the others who had confused expressions on their faces and started to laugh again.

“That sneaky khajiit just gave your Commander a necklace that is worn by those who are looking to be married. I have a suspicion that somewhere Vashlani has one that matches hers and will wear it around her soon enough. If he takes her into a Temple of Mara,” he started to laugh again, “your Commander is liable to walk out a married woman.”