Fight for the Lost

Eye for an Eye

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Orbital Lounge

Present Time

Garrus took a breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled slowly. His cheek rested on the stock of his rifle, his finger tightened on the trigger. His target was in sight.

The shot was tantalizing. Child's play, really. Lantar Sidonis was only 37 meters away, an easy headshot… It would be quick and clean, a small mercy…

He adjusted the rifle just a fraction, but still couldn't find the right angle.

"Damn it. Shepard, you're in my shot. Move to the side."

The scope trembled slightly as he tried to slide the crosshairs over to Sidonis, but somehow, Shepard had always moved his head just in the right way to prevent the shot.

On purpose.

Shepard was talking to Sidonis now, warning him. Helping him.

"Damn you! Move!" Garrus snarled into his radio.

Shepard was talking again, but not to him, to Sidonis. He saw what Shepard was doing now. What he planned. Probably had it all mapped out from the beginning.

"You son of a bitch… Don't think I won't take the shot. I'll pull the trigger, even if you're in my way—I've come too far to be denied like this, Shepard."

Sidonis said something, looking decidedly panicked. He took a step away, almost there…

Shepard stepped forward, almost causally, back into his line of fire, stealing his chance once again.

Damn you…

Garrus swallowed, took a breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled slowly. His cheek itched on the stock of his rifle, his finger tensed on the trigger, and his target was within reach—

But the crosshairs was pointed at one of his closest friends…

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Factory District

2 Hours Ago

The old factory district of the Citadel was always a source of trouble for C-Sec. Lots of older buildings, filled with abandoned machinery and populated with seedy or desperate people; it was a haven for lawbreakers to inhabit. The resources and leftover equipment from some factory closing down could be repurposed and used for some enterprising criminal organization.

Garrus reflected on some of the undercover work he did as a C-Sec detective at the prefab foundry and idly wondered how the hell he got anything done with all the red tape he waded through. He parked the car near their destination and hopped out. Pulling his weapons out of the bag, he attached them to the harness on his back and scouted the area. "Looks clear."

Shepard had taken the opportunity to take his armor case out of his bag and started equipping himself accordingly. In terms of weaponry, all he had was his Spectre assault rifle and pistol.

Tali was inspecting her new assault rifle carefully. Garrus didn't blame her, considering that it used to be in the hands of a dead krogan. It obviously didn't serve him too well, not that he exactly had a chance to use it.

"Ready," Shepard announced.

"Me too," Tali added.

Garrus looked at her worriedly. "You're not wearing your Colossus Armor," he observed. She was dressed in her preferred environmental suit which wasn't nearly as strong as her combat armor.

She just shrugged in response. "I'll be fine. This environment suit is still equipped with kinetic barriers and light ablative plates in key areas. I also have several suit upgrades given to me by Admiral Han'Gerral for my mission on Haestrom. Should be enough to handle whatever they throw at us."

"What about you?" Shepard asked. "No helmet?"

"Bringing it would've raised suspicions," Garrus replied defensively.

Shepard shook his head before pointedly putting on his own helmet and engaged his voice modulator. "I learned the hard way that you should always wear a helmet."

"I'll keep that in mind." Satisfied that they were prepared as well as they were going to be, Garrus led the way to the most likely place Harkin would've set up shop. During the flight overhead, his visor had picked up thermal, sonar, and EM images of what might be combat mechs in one of the factories. The Blue Suns were known to often use mechs during their operations and it was doubtful that there would be so many security mechs deployed in someplace with so little value.

Unless there's something actually worth protecting.

Just then, Harkin rounded a corner in front of them, lighting up a cigarette and taking a smoke. He looked up at the sound of their footsteps and spotted them. "Oh shit, Garrus!"

"There he is!" Shepard shouted and drew his pistol. "Hold it, Harkin!"

Harkin dropped his cigarette, spun around, and ran back around the corner. "Hey! Hey! Don't just stand there you idiots! Shoot them!"

Garrus ran after him first, and almost headlong into the hail of fire from the two mercs guarding the door. He dove to the ground and slid face first behind some crates. A few bullets had stuck his shields, but nothing penetrated. "Run all you want, Harkin! I'll find you!" he roared.

The sounds of additional gunfire signaled that more mercs had joined the fray.

Garrus poked his pistol out and fired randomly at the mercs, trying to create an opening to peak around and get a handle on the situation. The mercs hardly flinched and continued their suppressing fire.

Shepard sidled up to the corner of building and exchanged fire with the mercs using his assault rifle. The mercs were trying to spread themselves out and try to use their numbers to win, but the confined space, coupled with the advanced HMWA forced them to bunch up.

Tali fiddled around with her omni-tool for a moment. Just then, her combat drone appeared and floated around the corner, firing its electric shock indiscriminately. "Go for the optics, Chiktikka! Go for the optics!"

There was pause as the mercs suddenly had to contend with the drone, allowing Garrus to look around and take stock of the situation. Five mercs were hiding behind discarded crates. A few more littered the entryway.

One merc finally took out the drone, only to have it explode in his face, killing him and injuring another nearby. The rest were protected though the sounds of electrical cracks signaled that their shields were disabled.

Shepard took the opportunity to unleash Shockwave, blowing away the crates and bowling over the hapless mercs and forcing them all out of cover. Garrus immediately gunned them down using his pistol.

"Fall back! Fall back!" one of the mercs shouted after seeing that their adversaries were also armed and not to be taken lightly.

Leaving their injured and dead behind, the few remaining mercs started running for the door. Most managed to get through, but one was shot down by Shepard and Tali's assault rifles and fell in the doorway.

"Shit! Get that body out of the way! Lock the door! Lock it!" a merc yelled.

Garrus ran up and slammed the butt of his pistol on one the injured mercs, knocking him unconscious. While Shepard and Tali continued to fire through the door, Garrus picked up an assault rifle and a grenade. "Fire in the hole!"

He tossed the grenade through the door and ducked down. The explosion and screams signaled that the entryway was probably clear enough for them to breach and enter. Tali and Shepard stacked up at the doorway right after the blast and entered quickly, weapons ready and firing at any threats that were present the moment they cleared the threshold.

Garrus followed and saw that his grenade had taken out two more mercs. Two LOKIs appearing from a container put up some resistance, but Tali's Overload shut them down instantly.

Shepard was using one of the countless steel crates as cover as more mercs poured into the large loading bay they were fighting in now. "Reinforcements incoming!"

Instead of joining Tali and Shepard at ground level, Garrus hoisted himself atop one of the larger crates and took the high ground. Pulling out his new Incisor, he peered down the scope and started getting a bead on the situation. "They're coming from the far doors. Mechs are stored in the large blue containers. Looks to be about a dozen mercs."

Engaging the 3-round burst fire mode, the crack of his sniper rifle brought the count to 11.

"Shepard, there's a path to the left. Cloak and flank'em. I'll cover your approach. Tali, there a path down the middle, the one with a big truck. Go in and hold position."

"On it." – "Gotcha!"

The Blue Suns were aware of his presence now and were trying to kill him, but he held his ground, using the high ground and distance to pick them off. Each burst from his sniper rifle disabled the shields and scored a perfect headshot, forcing them to retreat.

"I'm in position," Tali reported. She was exchanging fire with a group of mercs that were trying to push toward her.

Suddenly, a series of explosions rocked the room. The containers on the left that were holding the LOKI mechs erupted in flames.

"Got a pack of grenades from one of the mercs and put it to good use," Shepard reported.

"Nice one, Shepard."

"Mercs are converging to the middle. I need some help!" Tali called.

"I see'em," Garrus assured. "Just hold your position, Tali. I need a better shot."

The mercs continued their relentless attack. Tali was forced to occasionally hold up her rifle and blind-fire at them now, but the shots were wild and were sporadically hitting a random merc, but failing to penetrate any kinetic shields.

"Garrus!"

The crack of his rifle dropped one. Then another. Under fire from his sniper's perch, the Suns fell back and abandoned their charge. Soon, they were out his line of fire again.

"Send your drone in," Garrus replied tensely. He aimed his rifle and waited.

The Combat Drone materialized right next to her and floated right at the mercs. "Go get them, Chiktikka! Good girl!"

The drone flew right at the mercs, firing over and over again. Their shields broke under attack and forced them out of cover. Garrus seized the opportunity to increase his kill count. The mercs spread themselves out, running from cover to cover. Several were gunned down courteously from Garrus. Additional firepower was provided by Shepard, who flanked them funneled them into Tali's kill zone or Garrus'. The drone followed the any of the others, until it finally exploded and eliminating the rest.

"Tali?" Garrus asked.

"I'm good. Shepard?"

Another explosion rang out. Another container containing LOKI mechs was destroyed. A few that were still somewhat functioning were spouting out their verbal warnings though it was stuttered and changing in pitch.

"I think I got most of the LOKIs. We probably won't have to worry about them now," Shepard reported. He reappeared into view when his cloak finally wore off.

Garrus climbed down from his vantage point and stalked forward toward the far doors. He holstered his Incisor and brought his liberated Avenger to bear, idly shooting a functioning LOKI that was crawling toward him as he moved. During his training in the military, he often felt a rush when he conducted mock combat drills and relished the thrill of the hunt. His former CO's noted that it was those qualities that made him such an effective sniper or soldier. "Let's go. Harkin's in here somewhere. I can smell him."

The traversed the factory carefully. Most of the Blue Suns had fallen back, probably amassing with Harkin. The area they were in now was a loading dock for the larger cargo containers.

Garrus smiled to himself. They'd just attacked the smaller loading dock and only a few LOKIs and mercs were in the larger dock. Next would probably be the conveyor system. At this point, Harkin was trapped. All they had to do was attack head on and ensure that there was no hope left for the bastard.

Often, Tali would send her drone ahead, scouting the area for any signs of an ambush and revealing the merc's positions. Shepard and Garrus swept for any signs of snipers hiding on top of the boxes, cranes, or any place suitable, but so far, only a few mechs or leftover holdouts were met and dealt with. Nothing particularly difficult or challenging.

"Why are there so few mercs?" Shepard questioned.

"Maybe this Harkin couldn't afford more?" Tali guessed.

"Probably. I doubt Harkin would have such a large force for such a small operation. These guys were cut off from the rest. Look," Garrus said. He pointed to a bridge that's been raised. "They must've fallen back and tried to cut us off, leaving the others to fend for themselves. No time to set up ambushes or proper defensive positions. We should keep hitting them while we have the momentum."

"There's the terminal," Shepard pointed out.

Garrus walked up to it and studied it for a minute before cursing. "This might take a bit. They're using some pretty advanced encryption."

"Let me try," Tali offered. She walked up to the terminal interfaced with it using her omni-tool. "Yeah, at first blush it does appear complicated, but if I load a trojan… backtracking… searching for the firewall codes… and… done. Not too bad actually."

The bridge lowered noisily, but their initial assault had long since rendered stealth pointless. Garrus looked to see a door at the far end of the cargo room. The sounds of cranes and conveyors could be heard now. "We're getting close."

The area ahead was abandoned. Garrus guessed that Harkin was marshaling whatever forces he had with him. Inside, the room probably belonged to the supervisor of the cargo bay they just came from. A large window allowed them to see the conveyor room beyond. Slinking up to it carefully, Garrus looked around for any sign of his prey.

"So, Harkin's finally graduated to become a full-time criminal," Shepard commented as he pressed up against the wall and peeked out of the window as well. Tali guarded the only door out of the room, armed with a pilfered shotgun now.

"He was always a pain in the ass," Garrus replied shortly. "But I'm in no mood for his games. If he doesn't cooperate, I'll beat him within an inch of his life."

Suddenly, something moved in the far end of some boxes to their left. Both men reacted at the same time and tried to judge the layout, estimated numbers, and possible threats.

"Did you see that?" Garrus asked, trying to get confirmation.

"I saw something," Shepard answered slowly.

They scanned their surroundings more carefully now. Garrus noted that most of the conveyors were on the ceiling, moving the cargo to the loading bays via clamps and cranes. There were a few conveyor belts on the ground, but for the most part, it looked like a mess of platforms ahead. Most the sections of the floors seem to be able to rise to the ceiling and allow crates to be picked up and transported from the upper conveyor system. If they attacked, they'd be at a disadvantage from the start since all of the Blue Suns will have the high ground, forcing them to fight for every inch of cover as they climbed their way up.

"He getting ready for us," Garrus decided. "They're making their last stand; prepping defenses. Harkin's trapped himself in a corner. He must have something in store for us."

"What are you going to do to Harkin if he won't 'cooperate'?" Shepard asked.

Garrus smiled grimly. Back on the Omega, the answer was fairly simple. "He's a criminal now. Working for the Blue Suns. I should just shoot him on sight."

Tali looked away from the door and stared at him disbelievingly.

"Don't worry. I need him alive, so I won't do any permanent damage. Just enough to loosen his tongue," he amended.

"Do you really need to hurt him to get what you want?" Tali worriedly asked.

"Don't worry. Harkin's a coward. Always was. He'll talk long before I can really hurt him." Garrus could feel Tali's disapproving look and turned away to close the window. Standing up, he marched for the door.

"You still planning to kill Sidonis when we find him?" Shepard asked.

"That's the plan," Garrus replied simply, though he didn't meet any of their eyes. "It'll be quick and painless. Unlike everyone he betrayed, he'll be spared the agony of a slow death."

I'm not a monster, after all.

Just a murderer, a voice, sounding frighteningly like Tali's, asserted.

He shook his head and turned back to the others. "It's more than he deserves, but as long as he dead, I'll be satisfied."

"Satisfied at killing someone?" Shepard remarked. "Garrus, do you really thing killing Sidonis will make things right, or even better?"

"I know neither of you like it, but I have to do this," Garrus stubbornly replied.

"Are you sure about that?"Tali asked desperately. "There might be another way for you to reconcile with your pain."

"Maybe," Garrus evasively answered. He turned away from them again and pressed himself next to the door.

But, this is personal.

Shepard stacked up against the other side of the door. Tali reluctantly followed and had to visibly steel herself for the coming conflict.

"Looks like the only way forward is up," Shepard stated. He sounded dismayed at the layout of the area ahead.

"I don't like it," Tali said. "There could be a dozen mercs in there and they'll have the high ground every step of the way. The cover out there might be adequate for a little bit, but they can lay down suppressing fire while the others flank us. Not to mention that snipers could pick us off, one by one."

Garrus looked at her in surprise.

She shrugged in response. "My time with the Migrant Fleet Marines was well spent."

"We got lucky so far," Shepard said. "Harkin and the Blue Suns probably thought we brought C-Sec reinforcements or something. They'll know it's just the three of us now."

"I can take care of the suppressors,"Garrus replied. He held his sniper rifle confidently. "The two of you should be able to push your way to the top. Draw their fire and I'll pick'em off."

"That's our plan?" Tali asked in disbelief.

"Worked so far," Garrus reminded.

"Keelah. The things we do for you, you bosh'tet…"

Normally, Garrus would've made a witty retort, but he knew that they were helping him out for the sake of their friendship and against their own moral views. He shook off the feeling of guilt and readied himself.

Tali opened the door remotely and Garrus peeked his head out only to jerk back when the Suns started shooting immediately.

"Fall back!" Garrus shouted.

Shepard and Tali didn't hesitate. They sprinted away from the door and back into the main room of the office. It was a moment none too soon. A missile streaked through the door and detonated against the wall.

"You think you can beat me? !" Harkin shouted via intercom. "Why don't you just die? !"

"They definitely know it's just the three of us now,"Shepard groused.

"I'll take point," Garrus said. He slowly made his way to the door and look out. Three mercs were approaching. Two were standing near a large container and covering for their point man as he carefully made his way to the door.

Garrus glanced down at this Avenger and checked the status of the heat sink within before readying himself. He popped out from the door and open fired on the closing merc. His shields drained and failed in seconds. The next series of shots easily tore through him.

Garrus continued shooting at the rear pair of mercs, throwing out an Overload at the same time to take out their shields. They both jumped back and hid around the container as Garrus continued firing at full-auto. Seeing that the mercs had ducked down, he burst from the door, running past the dead body, still firing full-bore. The running and gunning ruined his accuracy, but it was enough to keep the mercs hiding. The moment the gun overheated, instead of ejecting the heat sink, he dropped the assault rifle, pulled out his pistol and continued shooting to suppress them until he stopped just adjacent of the merc's hiding place around the corner of the container and waited.

"He's out. Get'em!" one of the mercs said.

Garrus engaged his Tactical Cloak, clutched the pistol in his right hand, and tensed up.

One merc popped out and started shooting at the doorway Garrus had just run from, completely unaware that his target was right around the corner. Shepard and Tali returned fire before backing off when another missile streaked into the office.

The two mercs stepped out, preparing to assault the office.

The moment Garrus spotted the barrel of the rifle, he jumped out grabbed the rifle and used it as a lever to spin the merc around.

"What the fuck!" the merc shouted in surprise. He involuntarily pulled the trigger and fired a series of wild shots. They struck his partner by accident when Garrus forced the barrel to point at him, severely wounding the man.

Garrus fired twice from his pistol at the hapless merc to finish him off, while pushing back the other merc to keep him off balance. Before the merc could aim his weapon, Garrus raised his pistol and fired twice at the chest and one at the head. The maneuver had taken only a few seconds.

Shepard burst out from the door and started firing at the mercs that were hiding on the raised platforms. A Biotic Barrier was erected, adding to his protection as he ran for the nearest available cover. Tali followed his wake, launching an Overload of her own to try and alleviate the pressure.

The merc rained down fire at the three protagonists from almost all directions. Harkin created further problems by raising or lowering the platforms, trying to shut down any pathways up. It seemed like he didn't know the controls because they were raising or lowering randomly, helping or hurting everyone involved.

Garrus climbed up one of the raised platforms that Harkin didn't mess around with, and pulled out his Incisor. He propped his rifle on a crate and picked out targets of opportunity. One by one, he took them out. "Go! Go!"

Slowly, Shepard and Tali moved forward, trusting that their turian sniper could keep the worst off as they moved up and returned fire.

"Why don't you just run away? !" Harking shouted. Several cranes carrying LOKIs descended on the battlefield.

"I got them!" Tali called out. She aimed her omni-tool at the mechs and seized control of them.

The moment they deployed, they turned and started shooting at the Blue Suns, acting more like a distraction than an actual threat. But it was enough. The mercs turned and started shooting at their own mechs, allowing Tali and Shepard to continue their assault.

"How 'bout this? !" Harkin crowed.

Suddenly, a crane descended from above, nearly on top of Garrus. He spotted the shadow in time and fell back with a shout. The crane may have missed him, but it latched on to the crate he was taking cover behind and lifted it up. A few mercs trained their weapons on him. "Oh, shit."

Engaging his Tactical Cloak, he jumped down just as the mercs started shooting. His shields drained with the effort of protecting him, but he managed to hide before his armor was tested. "Damn it! I've been flushed out! I repeat: I'm not in position anymore!"

"We're almost there!" Shepard reported. "Tali, get those mechs to attack the ones on the right, I'll—Shit!"

Garrus got up and frantically looked around. He spotted Shepard tangling with a Blue Suns merc in tech armor. It looked like Shepard had been tackled and now they were both rolling back down, crashing on different platforms. Through it all, they were fighting tooth and nail to get the advantage.

"Damn it! Will someone kill this bitch? !" a merc screamed out.

"I got he… Aaahh!"

"They're all yours, Chiktikka!"

Seeing that Shepard was too far away to help, Garrus looked around and picked up a discarded Vindicator Battle Rifle. He started climbing and vaulting over any obstacles in his way to reach Tali.

She was holding back four mercs with the assistance of two LOKI's, though one was missing an arm.

Garrus started shooting immediately, taking out one merc, and alerting the others.

Tali took the opportunity to close the distance, and with Garrus, launched tandem Overloads. The mercs soon found their guns overheated and their shields disabled. All three of them threw down their weapons and surrendered.

"Kick'em!" Garrus ordered. He and Tali held their weapons ready for any sign of resistance.

The mercs complied without further problems, though.

Suddenly, everyone heard a scream. The earlier merc that had tackled Shepard was flying in the air, a hazy blue energy surrounding him. He was screaming and flailing around before he abruptly shot toward the ground with bone-breaking force.

"That had to hurt," Tali said in the following silence.

Shepard hauled himself on the platform they were standing on and rotating his left arm, probably to massage away the pain of landing on it during his tumble. He suddenly froze in place after looking up. "Incoming!" he shouted. He jumped off the platform.

Tali and Garrus didn't hesitate. They turned around and leapt off the platform as well. The three mercs weren't nearly as quick and were consumed by the explosion that engulfed the spot they were on moments before.

Garrus looked around, but couldn't find the shooter. He did see the contrails of another missile flying right at Shepard and Tali's position.

Shepard was quick enough to push Tali out of the worst of the blast before the missile impacted against him. The explosion threw him several meters away, but amazingly, he shook it off and managed to stand up again, though he was favoring one of his legs. He limped for the nearest available cover. The hazy and flickering blue aura suggested that he had managed to erect a Biotic Barrier just in time. Tali shook her head, slightly dazed, but mostly unharmed since her shields held up. She scrambled toward the nearest crate and ducked down.

Garrus traced the source of the missile to a platform, high up and to the right. Unfortunately, the merc was on the far end of the platform, just out of his line of sight.

The merc evidently realized that Shepard was too tough a target and switched toward Tali instead.

"Tali! Run!" Shepard ordered.

Tali abandoned her cover just in time. The missile blew away the crate she had used with little trouble. She sprinted for the next suitable piece of defilade when another missile impacted against a large crate just above her.

"Tali, look out!"Garrus shouted.

Tali looked up and spotted the danger. She dove to one side, but was too slow. The crate crashed down on her leg, eliciting a pained scream from her. She flailed on the ground, trying to escape, but the crate had pinned her down.

Shepard started firing on the merc, hoping to suppress her. The merc used her advantage of the high ground to fire another rocket at him, though, forcing him to back off.

Garrus looked around wildly for another perch, someplace where he could get a better shot. A flash of movement above caught his eye. Looking up, he spotted several containers being carried away on conveyors. Using his visor, he zoomed in and saw that they had explosive labels on the side. Dropping the Vindicator, he quickly drew his Incisor and took steady aim at the next one that was right over the Blue Suns Heavy. Carefully timing his shot, he squeezed the trigger and scored a hit on the arm that was holding the crate.

The volatile cargo fell, heading right for unsuspecting merc. Quickly, Garrus fired again, this time striking the crate. She never knew what hit her.

After the explosion, he got up and made his way toward Tali. Shepard was already there and had used his biotics to move the crate.

"How is she?" Garrus asked, concern and worry lacing his voice.

"Her suit isn't ruptured… but I'm sure her leg is broken," Shepard replied as he carefully inspected the wound.

"At least it wasn't a gunshot wound," Tali said jokingly, though it sounded like she was gritting her teeth to endure the pain.

Shepard looked at the readouts on his omni-tool and shook his head. "We need to get her out—Hang on, did anyone hear that?"

Garrus cocked his head to the side and listened. "It sounds like cranes…" He turned his head toward the source and cursed. "Oh, crap! Two heavy mechs incoming!"

"Let's see how you deal with this!" Harkin taunted.

"Sorry, Tali! This is going to hurt!" Shepard warned before bodily picking her up and running toward of the lower platforms to use for cover.

Tali gasped, but managed to hold back the bulk of whatever pain she must've been in.

Garrus brought his sniper rifle and thundered away at one of the mechs before the crane could even finish dropping its load.

The mech's shields easily shrugged off the bullets as it started powering up and standing erect to prepare for confrontation. It pointed one of its arms and started firing with its cannon.

Garrus leapt behind the nearest crate and scrambled away when he heard the bullets striking and tearing away his cover.

The next crate he hid behind was a bit better. It was thicker at least, allowing it to absorb more bullets. When there was a break in between shots, Garrus popped out and used Overload. The mechs shrugged it off and continued their barrage, their shields still holding despite the attack.

"Do you really think you can take me down? !" Harkin sneered.

A couple of crates sailed over and struck one of the YMIRs, staggering it, but doing little else.

"I don't suppose you learned how to beat these things with your biotics yet? Like Jack?"Garrus asked when he saw Shepard take cover nearby and attacking with his assault rifle.

"Hadn't come up in my lessons, yet!" Shepard glibly replied. "Let's call a time out and I'll ask Samara to see if she can give me some pointers!"

"Something tells me that Harkin won't wait that long to kill us!"

Suddenly, the crate Garrus was hiding behind lurched forward, courteously of a missile impact. It struck him, causing him to pitch forward, out of cover and in the line of fire of one of the mechs.

Oh, shit.

All of a sudden, the YMIR turned away from him and started attacking its brethren. Within moments, both mechs started battling it out, firing their mass accelerator cannons and missiles.

Garrus released the breath he didn't know he was holding and rolled back behind the crate again. Looking around, he spotted Tali aiming her omni-tool at one of the mechs and appeared to be remotely controlling it to fight for her.

Nodding gratefully to the quarian, he scrambled to his feet and picked up one of the discarded Blue Sun's missile launchers and started firing on the hostile mech with everything he had.

Shepard added his assault rifle to the mix and pounded away.

Between Garrus, Shepard, and the hacked YMIR, the other heavy mech fell within a matter of moments, unable to withstand the onslaught.

"I won't be able to hold it for long!" Tali warned.

Quickly, Garrus ran up to the last YMIR and planted a grenade inside its chest before Tali could lose control. He backed off and let the explosive do its job.

"Harkin's right up there in the control room," Shepard said.

"Harkin's going to regret this!"Garrus growled. "When I get my hands on that son of a bitch…"

Tali winced a bit as she tried to stand up, but fell back against the crate with a muffled cry.

"Don't even try it, Tali," Shepard ordered. "Stay put, call for help and have someone pick you up."

"Sorry, Shepard."

"You did good, Tali," Garrus said. "Thanks."

"Garrus, please. Think about what you're doing," Tali entreated.

Garrus looked away. "Come on. We can't let Harkin get away."

Garrus led the way to the control room. The stairs were destroyed, probably by the mercs to protect Harkin, but that meant he was trapped up there. Looking around yielded no clues as to get to the control room.

"You'll never get me!" Harkin shouted.

"I got this," Shepard said. His biotic aura glowed as he reached out. He was pointing at one of the raised platforms. Soon, it started to lower, against its hydraulics judging from the sound of screeching metal. Soon after, some of its supports gave way and snapped, causing it to crash down.

A crude ramp now led up to Harkin now.

"Nice," Garrus said. They both cloaked and ran up the ramp as quickly as possible. "Split up. I'll take the far door."

"Got it."

Once in position, Garrus glanced inside and saw that Harkin was still fiddling around with the controls.

Probably trying to get more mechs here.

Shepard suddenly appeared as his cloak deactivated. His pistol was up and pointed directly at Harkin.

Harkin backed up to the other door. "You were close, but not close en—Ah!"

Garrus dropped his cloak as well as he rammed the butt of his sniper rifle into Harkin's face.

Harkin staggered back, clutching his face.

Holstering his rifle, Garrus grabbed Harkin and bodily threw him against the wall. Harkin looked up with a defiant look on his face, prompting Garrus to punch him to wipe off his smug expression.

"So, 'Fade'… couldn't make yourself disappear, huh?" Garrus mockingly asked.

"Come on, Garrus. We can work this out. Whaddaya need?" Harkin asked.

"I'm looking for someone," Garrus said.

"Well, I guess we both have something the other one wants."

Garrus narrowed his eyes. He rammed his knee into Harkin's balls to show who was in control of this 'negotiation'. The man went down with a grunt and a wheeze.

Shepard walked closer and shook his head. "That's gonna bruise. Maybe you don't understand, but we're not here to ask for favors Harkin. We're here for information. Just tell us what we want to know."

"You don't say," Harkin gasped out. Even in pain, he still sounded like an ass; so much that Garrus had to restrain himself from kicking him a few times while he was still down.

He still needed him to talk after all and broken ribs would make it difficult to hear him.

Harkin slowly crawled back to his feet. "I still haven't heard what you want."

"You helped a friend of mine disappear. I want you to call him and draw him out," Garrus said.

"I might need… a little more information… than that," Harkin said between deep breaths as he clutched his privates.

"Lantar Sidonis. Turian. Came from the—"

"I know who he is and I'm not telling you squat!" Harkin sneered. Bravely, or stupidly, he took a defiant step forward.

Garrus responded by head-butting him, breaking the prick's nose.

"Son of bitch!" Harkin screamed.

"This can't be worth all this trouble," Shepard commented.

"You broke my nose! Fucker!" Harkin screamed. He clutched his nose and tried to staunch the bleeding.

Garrus gripped Harkin by the shoulder and rammed his knee into the abdomen this time, bringing Harkin back down to the ground.

"And if you don't do what I want, I'll break your miserable neck next!" Garrus snarled. He put his foot on Harkin's face and applied pressure.

"All right! All right! Get off me!" came the muffled answer.

"What did you say?" Garrus asked.

"I think he said get off of him," Shepard supplied.

"You sure that's what he said?"

"I have pretty good hearing."

"I'll do it! I'll do it!" Harkin cried out.

"Now he's saying he'll do it."

Garrus moved his foot and glared.

Harkin moaned, but managed to sit up under his own power. "Term—Terminus re—really changed you."

Garrus reached down and gripped Harkin by the throat. "No more games, Harkin. You and your goons already hurt a friend of mine. Now arrange the meeting, or I'll make sure you really disappear. Permanently." Picking him up, he tossed him toward a terminal.

Harkin grabbed onto the terminal to prevent himself from falling over. He turned and glared, but faced the terminal again when Garrus drew his pistol. "Okay, I'm doing it."

"Just the meeting, Harkin, and don't even think about tipping him off; unless you think he's worth dying for."

Harkin typed in the commands and waited.

"Fade? What's going on? Why are you calling? Is he here? Did he find me?"

Got you, you bastard.

"Yeah, it's me. There's a chance your identity may be compromised," Harkin said.

"Compromised? Wait, so you're saying he can find me?" Sidonis asked fearfully.

"That's why I'm calling. I'm sending an agent. Where do you want to meet?"

"Um… The Orbital Lounge. It's crowded enough around this time. Say… 30 minutes?"

"All right, he'll be there."

"I'm safe, right? He hasn't found me yet?"

"Don't worry, I got it covered."

"Thanks. I'll see your man there."

Harkin hung up and turned to face them. "It's all good. Now, if our business is done, I'll be going…"

Garrus grabbed Harkin's shirt and hauled him close so they were almost nose-to-nose. "I don't think so. You're a criminal now, Harkin."

"So what… you're just going to kill me? That's not your style, Garrus."

"You've no idea what my style is now, Harkin," Garrus grimly said. He was tempted, very tempted to kill him, but Shepard's gaze made him reconsider. Bad enough that Tali got injured helping him with this and worse that she did it while hating every moment. He pushed Harkin back. "Kill you? No. But I don't mind slowing you down a little."

Harkin's eyes widened when he saw the pistol aimed below his waist. "Wai—!"

"Maybe give C-Sec a blood trail to follow," Garrus said over Harkin's screams. He holstered his pistol.

"Bastard!" he cursed as he clutched his knee.

"You're getting off easy, Harkin," Shepard coldly said.

"What'd I ever do to you?" Harkin groaned out.

"Besides breathing?" Shepard retorted. "Let's go."

"Sidonis better be there or I'm coming back to finish the job," Garrus threatened without turning back.

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Orbital Lounge

A Few Minutes Ago

During the drive to the rendezvous, Garrus lamented over the fact the Harkin got off relatively easy, all things considered. Harkin was wrong. Taking out criminals was like taking out trash to Garrus now. He could've killed him. He should've.

"Garrus?" Shepard called to him.

"Just thinking," Garrus replied shortly.

"About?"

Garrus was tempted not to answer, but his irritation at his decision took over. "Harkin's a bloody menace. I shouldn't have just let him go. He deserved to be punished."

"And he'll be punished," Shepard assured. "For now, C-Sec needs him. All of his clients, his contacts, even his knowledge of C-Sec's weaknesses need to be found and fixed."

"They'll just cut a deal. Reduced sentence or even none at all," Garrus snarled.

Shepard narrowed his eyes. "I'm getting a little more than worried about you, Garrus. Bad enough you want to kill Sidonis, but now it seems like you want to kill Harkin too."

"You don't think he deserved it?" Garrus retorted. "After what he did to Tali—"

"You're playing judge, jury, and executioner now, Garrus. It's just not like you," Shepard calmed countered. "Have you really thought this through? You know what you're doing?"

Garrus fell silent and piloted the car toward their destination. He spotted the Orbital Lounge that Sidonis would be arriving at soon and took the skycar across the street to a parking structure and landed. Turning his head away from his friend, he glanced at the crowds below and scowled. The silence between them felt heavy. "What do you want from me, Shepard? What would you do if someone betrayed you?"

"I don't know," Shepard admitted quietly. "Hasn't happened before. I guess I'd try to do something, make it right maybe, but I wouldn't let it change me."

"I would've said the same thing before it happened to me," Garrus shot back.

"It's not too late," Shepard implored. "You don't have to go through with this."

"Who's going to bring Sidonis to justice if I don't? Nobody else knows what he's done. Nobody else cares," Garrus said. "I don't see any other options."

"You could let me talk to him," Shepard suggested.

Garrus still refused to look him. He remembered what Liara had once said, back on Illium.

"Right now, we believe ourselves to be right, that we're merely removing monsters from the galaxy. Can you really hold that conviction when Shepard tries to convince you otherwise?"

"The worst part is… he's probably the only one in the galaxy that actually could talk us out of our choices."

"Talk all you want, but it won't change my mind," Garrus stubbornly asserted. "I don't care what his reasons were, he screwed us… he deserves to die."

"I doubt I can truly understand what you're going through, but do you really want to kill him?" Shepard carefully asked.

"I appreciate your concern…" Garrus said before hesitating. He glanced at him from the corner of his eye. "But I'm not you."

"This isn't you either," Shepard said.

Garrus scoffed. "Really? I've always hated injustice. The thought that Sidonis could get away with this…" He almost laughed sardonically at the thought. "Why should he go on living while ten good men and women lie in unmarked graves?"

Shepard leaned back into his seat and sighed.

"I'm sorry, Shepard. Words aren't going to solve this problem," Garrus said with finality. He checked his chrono and saw that he needed to get ready. "I need to set up."

"Where?"

Garrus looked around and spotted a billboard that overlooked most of the lounge below. "I can get a clear shot from over there."

"What do you need me to do?" Shepard asked with resignation.

"Draw him out and away from the main crowds. Just keep him talking and don't get in my way. I'll let you know when he's in my sights."

Shepard nodded.

"Give me a signal so I know you're ready and I'll take the shot."

"Got it."

"You better go. He'll be here soon." Garrus got out of the car and let Shepard slide over to take control. As soon as the car took off, he made his way to his designated perch. After climbing a set of stairs and a couple of ladders, he looked around and nodded in satisfaction.

He drew his new M-29 Incisor Sniper Rifle and expanded it in one smooth, practiced motion. Checking his weapon carefully one last time, he placed the rifle on the railing and kneeled. Now all he had to do was wait. After a few minutes, he called into his radio. "Shepard, can you hear me?"

"Loud and clear," Shepard replied. "I'm parked in front of the lounge. Can you see me?"

Garrus peered through his scope and saw that Shepard had changed out of his armor and was dressed in civilian clothes again. He left his bag in the skycar, but probably still had his pistol on him. "Do you see him?"

"I see him. He's deeper in the lounge. Looks nervous."

"Wave him over and keep him talking."

I'll handle the rest.

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Orbital Lounge

Present Time

Garrus took a breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled slowly. His cheek rested on the stock of his rifle, his finger tightened on the trigger. His target was in sight.

Lantar Sidonis look liked he'd seen better days. His face was drawn and gaunt. His eyes looked dead and at the same time, alive, but with fear, desperation, guilt even. His clothes looked rumpled and slept-in. He was hunched over, as if the world was crushing him. He kept glancing around, not meeting anyone's eyes, yet studying the people around him apprehensively. He looked like a man that knew he was being hunted. In all, a withered shell of his former self.

All of the hallmarks of a traitor.

The shot was tantalizing. Child's play, really. Lantar Sidonis was only 37 meters away, an easy headshot… It would be quick and clean, a small mercy…

He adjusted the rifle just a fraction, but still couldn't find the right angle.

"Damn it. Shepard, you're in my shot. Move to the side."

The scope trembled slightly as he tried to slide the crosshairs over to Sidonis, but somehow, Shepard had always moved his head just in the right way to prevent the shot.

On purpose.

"Listen to me very carefully, Sidonis. I'm here help you."

"Damn you! Move!" Garrus snarled into his radio.

"Don't ever say that name aloud," Sidonis pleaded.

"I'm a friend of Garrus'. He wants you dead, but I'm hoping that's not necessary."

"Garrus? Is this some kind of joke?" Sidonis asked fearfully.

"You son of a bitch… Don't think I won't take the shot. I'll pull the trigger, even if you're in my way—I've come too far to be denied like this, Shepard," Garrus snarled.

"You're not kidding, are you?" Sidonis looked around wildly. "Screw this. I'm not sticking around to find out. Tell Garrus I had my own problems—"

Sidonis took a step away, almost there…

Shepard stepped forward, almost causally, back into his line of fire, stealing his chance once again. "Don't move," Shepard ordered calmly, but sternly. He gripped Sidonis' arm.

Damn you…

"Get off me!" Sidonis shouted and shook Shepard's hand off.

Garrus swallowed, took a breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled slowly. His cheek itched on the stock of his rifle, his finger tensed on the trigger, and his target was within reach—

But the crosshairs was pointed at one of his closest friends…

That's why he took his armor off. No kinetic shields. That bastard.

He couldn't risk the shot now. Without kinetic shields, Shepard could be shot and killed just as easily as Sidonis.

He had this moment planned out. Damn him…

"I'm the only thing standing between you and a hole in the head. You've worked with Garrus before, right? You know I'm not kidding and you know he won't miss," Shepard warned. "Did you really think you could hide forever?"

Sidonis looked resigned to that fact. "Fuck."

"What happened?" Shepard asked harshly.

"Look… I didn't want to do it… I didn't have a choice."

Don't feed me that line of shit. Everyone has a choice.

"They got to me. Said they'd kill me if I didn't help. What was I supposed to do?"

Garrus growled. "Let me take the shot, Shepard! He's a damn coward!"

Despite the fact that Sidonis already knew he was in the crosshairs, he moved toward the nearby railing. Garrus tracked him carefully, waiting for the one opportune moment, but Shepard easily fell in step, still blocking the shot.

"That's it?" Shepard pressed. "You were just trying to save yourself?"

"I know what I did," Sidonis replied. He sounded like a man with nothing left in his life now. "I know they died because of me and I have to live with that. Or even die for it, in this case."

Garrus felt his hand tremble and took another steadying breath to rid himself it.

"I wake up every night… sick… sweating. Each of their faces staring at me… accusing me."

Each word Sidonis said almost felt like a nail was being driven into his heart. Garrus gripped his rifle tightly and had to take several more breaths to stabilize his rifle. Every word Sidonis said… Garrus knew the feeling intimately. Sleepless nights, the faces of his team, the helplessness…

"I'm already a dead man," Sidonis admitted. "Food has no taste. Some days… I just want it to be over."

Garrus couldn't stand listening anymore. "Move, Shepard. Just give me the shot."

Shepard stayed put and turned around. He looked directly at him, staring him down.

Garrus almost wanted to turn away. It almost felt like the scope magnified the thoughts behind those eyes, telling him that he should listen. That he should be better than this.

"Please," Garrus pleaded.

Shepard shook his head. "You've got to let it go, Garrus. He's already paying for his crime."

"He hasn't paid enough," Garrus whispered back. "He still has his life… My men deserved better…"

"Tell Garrus…" Sidonis suddenly rasped out, before shaking his head. "I guess there's nothing I can say to make it right, is there? There's already place in hell for people like me anyway."

Garrus' head snapped away from the scope. He closed his eyes and tried to banish Sidonis' face, his words, everything about him, just to turn him into a nameless criminal. One he never knew, one he never worked with, a complete stranger… all just so he could…

Murder him.

"Just… go. Tell him to go."

Shepard smiled gratefully and turned back to Sidonis. What he said, Garrus didn't hear. He picked up his rifle and rubbed his eyes again. He felt lost. Confused. Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing was simple anymore.

Was it ever simple to begin with?

"I'll try, Garrus. I'll make it up to you, somehow," Sidonis vowed. "Thank you. For talking to him."

He's thanking him… He's actually thanking him.

Garrus walked back to where the car was parked before. He kicked the nearest wall in frustration. As much as he tried, he couldn't figure out what was the right decision here. What should he have done? What was he supposed to do? Could he even trust that Sidonis would keep to his word, a traitor like him?

The car landed nearby. Shepard got out. He had a small smile on his face, though it didn't reach his eyes. The concern was clear to see.

"I know you want to talk about this… but I don't. Not yet," Garrus whispered.

"I know this didn't go the way you planned, or even wanted… but I think it's for the best," Shepard said.

Garrus shook his head. "I'm not so sure…"

"Give it time," Shepard said.

"Yeah. Maybe that'll be enough." Despite his earlier words, Garrus turned back to his friend. As much as he didn't want to talk, there was something about Shepard that made him speak anyway. "I want to know I did the right thing. Not just for me – for my men."

"And what is the right thing?"

"They deserved to be avenged," Garrus stated, though it felt like it lacked conviction now. "But when Sidonis was in my sights… I just couldn't do it."

"The lines between right and wrong blur when we're looking at people we know."

Garrus recalled Sidonis' face with perfect clarity. The guilt, the regret, the loss… He couldn't feel that if didn't care, and if he cared… "Yeah. There was still good in him… I could see it."

"I thought so too," Shepard said.

"It's just… It's so much easier to see the world in black and white," Garrus said quietly. "Gray… I don't know what to do with gray."

"Well, that's the kind of galaxy we live in," Shepard replied.

"What do you mean?"

"Gray," he simply said. "From there, you've got to go with your instincts."

"My instincts are what got me into this mess," Garrus reminded wryly.

"No, your pain is what got us into this mess," Shepard corrected. "In the end, what you can do with that kind of pain is decide what you're going to do to make it right."

"Did I do the right thing?"

"Your instincts wanted to you confront this. You weren't going to let this go, and you shouldn't. You cared about the people on your squad. Sidonis is still paying for what he's done, but you? You don't have anything to be guilty of."

"They died because of me," Garrus argued.

"There's right and wrong and you chose right. There's good and evil and you chose good. In a galaxy that's considered 'gray', it's the people that pick absolutes and have the conviction to stand by their decision regardless of how painful the consequences may be are the special ones," Shepard said. "A friend sacrificing themself isn't something anyone gets used to. Betrayal even more so."

"Yeah…" Garrus agreed miserably.

Shepard leaned against the car and studied his friend's profile. "This is the first time you dealt with something like this, isn't it?"

Garrus said nothing.

"Why do you think you were spared?"

Garrus looked up at him and blinked. "What do you mean?"

"You said Sidonis took you out of your hideout to show you something. Lured you out. If it were me, you'd be the target, not your squad, yet you're still alive. You're the leader, the hero, the 'Archangel'," Shepard explained patiently. "Sidonis didn't have to say anything. He could've left and let you stay with the rest of your squad when they were ambushed. You probably would've been killed with everyone else. It might not be wrong to say that Sidonis saved your life."

Garrus narrowed his eyes. He never really thought about that. "I don't know…"

"I think Sidonis looked up to you. I think he wanted to save you. He was trapped and he was scared, Garrus. But despite betraying your whole squad, he pulled you away so you wouldn't be killed. That says something about you."

"What does it say? That I failed or that I couldn't be as good a leader as you?" Garrus asked.

"Don't be too hard on yourself. I served with a lot of great men and women, but you're among the best I've ever worked with. But this? Either you're a hero or a villain here, Garrus. Your men died as heroes. You want to live as the villain?"

"I just wanted justice…"

"Justice or revenge? They're both powerful motivators, but justice is about restoring order, not perpetuating chaos. Revenge, on the other hand, it's about trying to inflict pain on something or someone because you think you're in the right. That taking revenge might make you feel better. Revenge is shortsighted and temporary and dangerous," Shepard explained with a hint of steel. "You lost men. You feel guilty and you feel that Sidonis is responsible. You can't have it both ways, Garrus. If you feel guilty, then it is your fault. If you think Sidonis is to blame, then all you should feel is remorse for losing your men."

Garrus sighed and considered Shepard's words carefully. His head whirled in different directions with memories, thoughts, and emotions.

"You asked me what I would do," Shepard suddenly said, "if this happened to me."

"Yeah… you said you didn't know, but you wouldn't let it change you."

"I still don't know what I would do. I also don't know if it would change me," Shepard said readily. "That's why I would turn to my friends. To make sure I wouldn't do anything stupid. For instance, Thane wanted me to tell you: Revenge doesn't bring redemption."

For the first time since arriving on the Citadel, Garrus felt a small, genuine smile tug at his lips. "Thanks, Shepard. For everything."

Shepard grinned and clapped him on the back. "Be sure to tell that to Tali too, okay?"

That wasn't a conversation Garrus was looking forward to.

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Zakera Ward Docks, Normandy SR-2

Garrus nursed his drink as he sat alone in the Common Area.

Most of the crew was out enjoying the nightlife of the Citadel, while less than a handful remained on the Normandy. They were up at the CIC or the bridge. Or down in Engineering or the hangar.

Tali was asleep once he and Shepard got back a few hours after their 'meeting' with Sidonis. He hadn't been able to talk to her yet at Dr. Chakwas insistence.

"She needs to rest," Chakwas had said. The look on her face brooked no argument. Thankfully, she also informed them that Tali would be just fine and that the break was clean and simple to repair. She'd be up and about by tomorrow, though with the aid of crutches. A few days after that and she'd be fit for duty.

"Mr. Vakarian," EDI called out to him. Her avatar appeared next to his table.

"What is it?" Garrus asked, before taking a sip of his drink and observing Tali sleeping peacefully through the Med Bay's windows.

"Captain Shepard wished for me to relay this message to you. It concerns Lantar Sidonis."

Garrus turned to regard the AI. "What about him?"

"According to C-Sec reports, Mr. Sidonis has attempted to turn himself in, citing that he was responsible for the murders of your former team."

"And?"

"There are certain problems regarding jurisdiction. Officially, unless the crime happened within Citadel space, the matter is the problem solely within the Terminus Systems, specifically Omega. However, since there is no official government recognized by the Citadel within the Terminus Systems, extradition is not a viable option," EDI explained. "Reporter Emily Wong has published a small news piece about the subject matter if you wish to hear it."

Garrus took a thoughtful sip of his drink. "I remember her. She might be the only reporter I actually had some measure of respect for. Go ahead and run it."

A holo appeared, bearing Wong's face. "Welcome Citadel NewsNet. I'm Emily Wong. C-Sec is reporting the arrest of one Lantar Sidonis after a dramatic confession. According to eyewitness reports, Sidonis walked into a C-Sec kiosk and confessed to the murder of ten people of Omega. C-Sec has reviewed and dismissed the case, citing Omega is beyond the scope of Council authority. Executor Pallin maintains it is impossible to extradite Sidonis for his crimes since Omega has no government."

Garrus sighed and shook his head. "At least he tried."

And failed miserably.

"Captain Shepard has also cleared you to leave the Normandy if you're interested in stretching your legs," EDI informed.

Garrus looked at the AI in confusion and nodded slowly. "Uh… thanks."

"Of course, Mr. Vakarian. Log—"

"Garrus. Mr. Vakarian is my father. Just Garrus is fine, EDI."

"Preferences updated, Garrus. Logging you out." With that, EDI vanished.

Finishing his drink, Garrus put the glass down and rubbed his face. He wondered why Shepard would go out of the way to say that he was given permission to leave the Normandy. Technically, since the commanding officer was already on board, the rest of the officers should have time off, including him.

Unless… unless he asked EDI to make a point of telling me…

For what, was the question. He took off his visor and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Shepard obviously wanted to tell him something.

More like figure something out.

Before he put his visor back on, his finger traced over the names of his team. Idly brushing against the place where Sidonis' name was burnt off, he was suddenly struck with inspiration.

"That's why I would turn to my friends. To make sure I wouldn't do anything stupid."

"That bastard," Garrus muttered to himself. He was grinning all the same. "EDI? Where's Sidonis? Do you know?"

"Scanning… accessing C-Sec's databases… Logs retrieved. According to the Citadel's traffic cameras, I have tracked Sidonis' movements. Accessing further resources… Uplink established… Scanning… Scan complete. He's currently back at the Orbital Lounge."

"Thanks. Tell Shepard I'm going out to stretch my legs."

"Relaying message, Garrus. Logging you out."

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Orbital Lounge

"Members of the Eclipse mercenary group are facing tough questions after violence erupted at gang-controlled warehouse on Illium. Detective Anaya, assigned to the case, has requested formal sanctions against the group. Local trader, Pitne For, has been arrested for illegal activity that came to light during the fighting."

"Another," Sidonis requested bitterly.

The turian bartender picked up a bottle and poured him another shot.

Garrus slid into the stool right next to him. "I'll have some Quarian Thruster Fuel."

"Coming right up."

Sidonis nearly spilled his drink at his sudden appearance. "Wha—Garrus!"

"Relax, Sidonis. If I wanted you dead, it'd already be done. I was watching you through my scope out in the parking lot, debating whether it was worth taking the shot."

Sidonis gulped and looked like a man condemned.

"Unlike you, I'm not a murderer," Garrus continued. He nodded in thanks to the bartender when his drink arrived and took a sip. "Heard you tried to turn yourself in."

"I… I wanted to make things right," Sidonis said miserably. "Somehow…"

"So did I. That's why I was this close to killing you," Garrus admitted freely before taking another sip. He'd yet turned in his seat to even look at Sidonis. He simply sat there, acting as if he were talking to some random stranger. "I learned that killing you wasn't the way to make things right. My friends showed me that."

"What do you want?"

"To do things the right way. Obviously, you weren't cut out for Omega."

Sidonis glumly stared into his drink. "I know… I'm a coward. I'm not like you. You were the best of us, the strongest…"

"It took guts to even join my squad in the first place," Garrus replied without sounding too judgmental. "I wanted to believe that you were strong enough. All of you. Part of that is my fault for pushing the boundaries."

"But everyone died because of me…"

"They did. And me killing you in cold blood is a poor way to honor their sacrifice. On the other hand, letting you dick around on the Citadel, getting piss drunk, and trying to numb the pain isn't doing anything for me either."

Sidonis swirled his glass a little, but didn't take another drink. "What do you want me to do?"

"Ever think about joining C-Sec, rather than getting arrested by them?" Garrus asked, almost casually. Beneath his calm exterior, there was a small hint. A mix between an offer of redemption and the warning of damnation.

"No…" Sidonis said. He lost some of his despondency and looked thoughtful, even a fraction more hopeful.

"It's a lot slower, a bit safer, but you'd be doing what we were doing on Omega: Fighting injustice," Garrus said. "Not exactly for me, though. Too many rules. But you might be able to handle it."

"You think so?" Sidonis earnestly asked.

"I have no idea," Garrus bluntly admitted. "All I know is that the best way to honor my team is to keep doing the work they died for. You wanna make it up to them? Do the same."

Sidonis nodded determinedly. "You're right. I'll sign up. Get some training. I'll… I'll join C-Sec!"

"Good for you," Garrus said neutrally. "Of course, someday, people's lives are going to be in your hands all over again."

"I won't fail. I… I'll die before I mess this up," Sidonis promised.

"Good. Because it might just come to that," Garrus replied evenly. He took another sip.

"What?"

He finally turned and faced him. Looking him dead in the eye, he gave his ultimatum. "If I hear you do something like this again, you'd best eat a bullet. Because I promise you, I'll find you, I'll put your head in my crosshairs, and I guarantee you, that will be the shot that will make you dead, and me smile. If I hear that you betrayed anyone ever again, believe me, I really, really, want to smile."

Far from looking frightened, Sidonis nodded slowly, with a hint of determination. "I understand."

Garrus looked for any signs of deception, but earnest eyes, similar to the first time he met Sidonis, stared back. A definite change from the wasteland that had his eyes had been.

Slamming back the rest of his drink, Garrus left some credits on the counter and left.

Hope I made you guys proud.

~o~O~o~

Location: Serpent Nebula, Widow System, Citadel, Zakera Ward Docks, Normandy SR-2

Upon arriving back at the Normandy, he went back down to the crew deck and entered his pod. He yawned, feeling completely exhausted. As he lied back, he remembered that he didn't take any of the drugs Chakwas prescribed to him to help him sleep. Still… his eyes felt awfully heavy.

For some reason though, he felt fine. He felt better than he did in a while. Not great, not perfect, but… just a bit more healed.

I'm not a murderer.

That night, he slept like the dead.

~o~O~o~

The next morning, he got up early, fully rested, and walked down the hall toward the Med Bay. When he looked through the window, he noticed that Tali wasn't inside anymore. Walking in, he addressed Dr. Chakwas. "Where's Tali?"

"Good morning to you too, Garrus," Chakwas teased with a smile. "She woke up and said she was fine and wanted to leave. Stubborn girl, that one. I let her go with a pair of crutches."

"Thanks, doctor," Garrus replied. He pulled out a bottle of pills and held it out to her. "And morning to you too."

"Did you sleep alright? Again, I have to warn you to avoid taking those. There's a significant chance of—"

"I don't need them anymore," Garrus replied. "Thanks for everything."

"Oh," Chakwas eloquently said. She took the bottle and inspected the contents. "I hope everything is alright, then."

"I'm getting there."

She smiled again. "I'm glad to hear it. If you ever need an ear…"

"I know. It's nice to know that I have friends to talk to," Garrus said. He gave a respectful nod and left.

EDI kindly pointed out that Tali was down in Engineering. She was directing her team to complete a bunch of chores that he didn't understand.

Down in the Engineering Deck, he entered Tali's domain and looked around. He spotted Ken and Gabby working diligently, but no sign of the Chief Engineer herself.

Ken noticed his presence and waved him in. "Garrus! What brings you down to our neck of the woods?"

"I'm, um, I'm looking for Tali," Garrus answered.

"In the Tantalus Control Terminal," Gabby helpfully supplied.

"Thanks." He walked deeper inside and finally spotted his quarian friend. She was typing at something on the terminal, her crutches leaning on the wall nearby.

Garrus approached her and cleared his throat to get her attention. "Hey, Tali."

She didn't stop typing, nor did she even acknowledge his presence.

He tried again. "Hey, Tali. I was wondering if we could, y'know, talk?"

Again, she didn't turn around. Instead, he got the distinct feeling that she wasn't facing the terminal; she was keeping her back to him.

Unnerved by her reticence, he mustered his courage and plowed on. "I came by to say: I'm sorry. And that you were, and still are, right about me. I'm not a murderer."

She still didn't turn around.

"I suppose I should tell you that I didn't kill him. I actually talked to him. Convinced him to join up with C-Sec if you can believe it."

Tali had still said nothing during his speech. He sighed, but before he could turn away, she turned around and grabbed his arm to prevent him from leaving.

Garrus looked at her curiously and then saw that she raised her right arm, as if to slap him again.

He braced himself.

To his surprise, the blow never came. At least, not the way he expected. Instead, she lightly rapped her palm against his cheek, as if she was reminding him. Or lightly chastising him about his previous actions.

His surprise increased when the younger woman wrapped her arms around him and gave him a warm, reassuring embrace.

"You're forgiven," she whispered happily.

He sighed in relief and awkwardly returned the hug, even patting her on the back little.

She stepped back and gave him another pat on the cheek, again making him feel as if it was a reminder as to who he was.

He saw that her eyes were crinkled behind her mask, showing that she was smiling. He offered a toothy grin of his own. "Still friends?"

"Always have been."

~o~O~o~

Author's Notes:

Now I'm using flash-forwarding, aka prolepsis, a kind of literary technique that's related to foreshadowing. This is actually the opposite of flashbacks or analepsis. The point of flash-forwarding is to give the reader a sense of what's to come, something expected usually, without actually giving away any details or the outcome. Hey, hey, look at me go. I should watch myself or I'll start thinking I'm a real author or something…

Obviously, this 'mission' ran a little longer than it did in-game. Maybe it's just me, but I've always felt that there was a lack of resolution, especially after hearing Emily's news bit.

Shepard is going out of way to help the people on his team; I thought that Garrus should pick up on that and try to help Sidonis, traitor or not. Of course, if I went the whole Renegade route, I'd only have a heated conversation between Tali, Shepard, and Garrus and that's it. I guess that's what I get for being too ambitious, huh?

I want to give mad props to fellow ME author Ronnie James Dio and his fic, Immortality. He seriously gave me a lot of inspiration for this chapter and was kind enough to give me permission to use a bit of his work. Thanks man!

This is not a Tali/Garrus fic for any of you hopefuls. Just FYI.

BTW, that "Techno Turian" on YouTube is actually the Citadel Groundskeeper you meet at the Dark Star during the "Krogan Sushi" mission. He has several more lines that never made the final cut, including the "Quarian Thruster Fuel" cocktail, or something or other.

Type: Groundskeeper Dialogue

Credits: Burn Notice and White Collar. Some of the later scenes were inspired by those shows.

Also, a little bit of this combat was inspired by another vid on YouTube. Chrono Trigger: Short Action Scene, by freddiew. Good stuff.

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