Author: TheManWithAPlan PM
He left Omega as Garrus Vakarian, he returned as the Archangel. To those who would harm the innocent, beware his wrath. Part 5: False Gods: Three armies converge for all-out war, from the storm beyond a dark god descends, and the Archangel moves to fight what he cannot comprehend. His death will be quick.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Shepard (F) & Garrus V. - Chapters: 25 - Words: 77,707 - Reviews: 76 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 05-18-13 - Published: 09-20-12 - id: 8540783
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This is the story of Garrus Vakarian, but not the one you know.
This is the story of the Archangel, but not the one you know.
This is the story of one against many, of morality against reality, and of how sometimes to serve the light, one must strike from the dark.
This is the story of Garrus Vakarian, Archangel of Justice, the Dark Knight of Omega.
Tutelage: Extreme Forces
And as the Damned Soul rises...
...so does the Fire.
Among the sea of spinning stones, some the size of grains of sand, and others the size of starships, one stands out. It is larger than the rest, its surface uneven with cracks and canyons left over from when the core was cracked open and its riches stripped out. More importantly, one can see it is inhabited.
The asteroid's most prominent feature is obviously the long spire jutting out from the asteroid like a cancerous growth left long unchecked, a tumor that has long since drained the host body dry and now plays host to the nearly infinite host of parasites still stranded on the dead corpse. Only the most basic concept of a civilization is present, layers upon layers of detritus collapsing atop each other to form something akin to a hive. And like any hive, it has its workers and it has its Queen.
This place has many names, feared and reviled like a feral beast just waiting to tear out of its cage, embraced and welcomed like an old lover long lost. Heart of Evil, Place of Secrets, World Without Law, Land of Opportunity, it is all of these things and none. This place has many titles, all of them only grasping the barest fraction of this place's identity, but it wasn't until the emergence of humanity that it truly earned its name.
The new species called this place Omega, after the last letter in an antiquated alphabet, the symbolical representation of the final designation in a structured pattern. To them, this place was nothing but the end of all roads, the last destination in a journey with only one stop, the concluding chapter in a story with no happy ending. Most can agree the name is quite fitting.
Omega justifies itself by claiming to free of the delusions of "law" and "order". It is the sum total of each species in their most primal state, the nexus through which a million vices and desires all cross paths to form a madman's delusions of paradise. Omega is supposedly the one place where one can truly liberate themselves from the pathetic delusions of society, where they can truly cast off the invisible chains as binding as the small microbomb implanted at the base of every Hegemony slave's brain stem. It is only on Omega that one can experience the short, brutal, torturous gift that was true freedom.
It is a lie of course, the strong still took and the weak still suffered, same as anywhere else, the only difference is that Omega is the one place that isn't willing to mask it. On the Citadel, you might become enslaved by heaping financial debt in far more subtly and far more efficiently than iron shackles. On Illium, you might be unwittingly signed into a four year contract of indentured servitude after having bought the pretty asari sales rep's lies wholesale. At least Omega had the "decency" to fit the control collar over your neck and sell you into slavery for upwards of five thousand credits. At least on Omega you'll know just how much you're worth, and just where exactly you fit into the system.
Contrary from what the majority of the galaxy might believe, Omega is far from chaotic. True, what little governance it possessed was seized at gunpoint, but the people are still divided based on the same things: money, and its close counterpart, power. And just like anywhere else, for so very long the only thing still keeping the wheels turning has been the paralyzing fear of those in power. Any dissonance in the system is swiftly and brutally crushed, and the fear of reprisal keeps the rest in check. Never have the people managed to rise above their many masters, and it is unlikely they ever will.
But lately, a pall seems to have fallen upon the highest strata of Omega, the mercenary lords, slaver barons, exiled terrorists, and the like. More and more, those who once deemed themselves untouchable are casting their eyes downward, as if in fear of a nonexistent sky. They stir in their sleep, as if something is watching them. They walk in illuminated places, intrinsically avoiding the shadows as if afraid of what might be lurking in the unseen spaces.
They know something is hunting them. They know they are not safe.
"Jaroth got nabbed." said Sev, one of two ordered to guard the warehouse's main entrance.
"Jaroth?" asked Firn, his interest piqued. "The salarian pissplate smuggler?"
Sev looked offended for a moment. "No really," he said, "the whole smuggling ring, just gone."
"You need to lay off the Hallex," the batarian replied, a grin on his face, "Shit's startin' to get to you if you believe that."
"Heard it from one of Jenka's boys," Sev retorted, "Him and like twenty of his top guys get beaten to within half an inch of their life, then left dangling off the lamps lining Gozu. Almost his entire line of command, trussed up like fuckin pigs.."
The batarian blinked his lower eyes, grin wiped clean off. "Jaroth's Head Yellow," he shot back, "Bastard's got enough pull on Omega to haul it into the sun. No way one of the other three actually grew the balls to take him down."
Sev rolled his eyes. "Then why is there double the guard detail out tonight? Something's got the boss spooked." He then waggled his eyebrows mischievously, "Something like, I don't know, an untouchable like Head Yellow himself getting the absolute crap kicked out of him? And don't tell me Tarak or the others are behind it," Sev snorted, "Then we would really see shit hit the fan."
Firn now began to see a modicum of truth in the bullshit spewing from his companion's mouth. "Say it's true," Firn skeptically replied, "Who could possibly be that stupid? Who else could even get close to Head Yellow?"
Now was Sev's turn to smile. "Who else?"
Firn grinned again and laughed in disbelief, a harsh rasping sound echoing out over the empty street. "Bullshiiiiiiit," he barked out, "You almost had me there," the batarian thumped his companion on the back, "The thing about the guard detail was a nice touch."
"It's true," Sev levelly replied, "All of Jaroth's men, Jaroth included, were left alive. Who else on Omega would do that?"
"Yeah," Firn was well aware of Sev's notable reputation for bullshit. Many a Suns grunt had come into the barracks almost wetting themselves from the human's imagined horrors. "Next you'll tell me that Aria's been with Tevos, and the pictures are all over this month's Fornax."
"You don't believe he's real," Sev asked. It wasn't not a question, simply a statement of fact.
The batarian ruefully nodded. "In the Nalak Nalsul? The Spirit of Justice? The Good Ghost of Omega?" He now dropped his voice to that of a whisper, "the Archangel?"
He snarled. "Idiot. It's just more rumors Aria spreads so the mercs think twice before crossing her. To fool more dumbshit mercs like you into thinking there's anything on this station that can stop the Suns."
"Aw screw you," The human laughed. It was obvious Firn wasn't going to take the bait. "That's the problem with you squints, no imagination."
"Human believes in fucking fairy tales," Firn snorted, "And the squint has the problem?"
"He's real," The human laughed again. "Savek'll back me up on that. He saw the bastard swinging from a smokestack in Jolarch." Firn chuckled he thumbed the comm for his fellow Sunny. "Savek," he disdainfully called out, "don't tell me you're buyin' into this ghost too."
The batarian sighed in frustration. "Standard Sun piece of-," He poked his head into the warehouse entrance. "Sarge!" Firn hollered, "Com's on the fritz again, gonna need you to get the tech off his fat ass and take a look at it.."
The batarian turned back to his companion...
And found himself alone.
Firn began to grow anxious "H-hey man where'd you go?" He tried to ignore the sudden waver in his voice, "Boss' gonna have our asses on a platter if he finds out we left our post..."
The silence begins to grow ever more ominous.
And, a trick of the light, surely, the shadows cast by the dingy street lamps begin to grow.
Slowly, Firn began to feel the icy tendrils of fear starting creep into his chest. Damn Sev and his stories...
He turned back into the doorway to yell again at for the Sergeant.
And then he saw it. Seven feet tall, it seemed, lifting Sergeant Harn clear off by his chestplate collar. Fellow Suns were strewn all about them, and Firn couldn't tell if they were alive or dead. He saw the Sergeant's eyes, that of a bitter old batarian who saw his arm blown off at the slaughterhouse that was Torfan, filled only with fear. Who the fuck was this? Who could take out half a company just coming back from a tour in the Traverse without a sound? Then, Firn heard the voice.
Only a whisper, yet it cut through the deafening silence like a knife through silk. It spoke in flawless Khar'sovi, too well for a simple translator, the language reserved solely for the upper castes of the Hegemony. It spoke to the submissive instinct ingrained in all lower citizens of the Hegemony, to kneel before their betters.
"Where?", whispered the sum total of every merc's fears.
Harn, to his credit, remained silent.
"You know who I am," said the shadow. It was obviously not a question.
Harn barely managed to nod. Still observing, Firn had found himself paralyzed by a primal fear his kind hadn't felt since they were huddled around the first fires, fearfully staring at the dark places and whispering warnings of the Nalak Nalsul in the prehistory of the batarian people. This was more than just anxiety, or surprise. This was something instinctual, primal, as natural a response as prey freezing at the sight of a predator waiting to pounce.
"You know what I do to people like you."
The sergeant nodded again. Seemingly mustering the tattered remnants of his courage, Harn responded in guttural Khar'shursi, the Khar'Shani commoner's tongue. Even in the face of certain doom, the old-timer still respected caste tradition. If only Firn could have mustered up that kind of willpower. "Yeah," he grunted back, "And I know you don't kill. So mess me up all you like, freak, you won't get me to talk."
"No?" whispered the shadow, who then tightened his grip.
"Never," Harn gasped, "So you can fuck right the hell off and go back to shaking down sandblasted pissplates."
The thing held its impassive gaze at the choking batarian. It did not seem fazed in the slightest. More likely, it had expecting him to say that.
With hands shaking so badly he thought he might be going into cardiac arrest, Firn pulled the worn out Avenger off his back. He sighted, then fired a short burst while desperately trying to keep his eyes open. Unfortunately, the shots went wild from his trembling aim, and all that he accomplished was pockmarking the surrounding walls. The shade didn't seem to notice. Two point two seconds later, the rifle exploded in Firn's dumbfounded expression and shards of hot metal were lodged in his exposed eyes.
Firn screamed in agony and dropped to the floor, desperately scrabbling at his shredded face to try and rip the molten pieces out. Harn saw this thing so effortlessly manage to dispatch yet another man under his command, and somehow managed to look even angrier than his previous expression of maddened fury. "Fuck you!" he managed to roar, "One of us will take you down, vrot!" A choice insult among his people.
The sergeant's future tirade was interrupted by a loud snap, and the batarian responded with a piercing scream.
"That was a rib," the shadow said, "Your species has sixteen. My current record of ribs broken before talking is eight. Care to match it?"
Another snap. Another scream.
"Argh," Harn shouted through bleary eyes, "Rot in hell, you-!"
Snap. Harn screamed.
"I cannot kill you," said the shadow, still as calm as ever, "But I can hurt you, and by the time I'm done, you'll be begging for the mercy of a quick death. I'll ask again, where?"
"Tarak will find you, vrot!" the sergeant managed to reply, his voice little more than a pained hiss, "And then I'm gonna see how many ribs I can break before you scream!."
Snap. Harn screamed louder.
"Either I cave in half your rib cage," the shadow dryly intoned "or you tell me where."
Like a damn breaking, any resistance was washed away. Harns tone became almost pleading, the pain now above and beyond anything he had ever experienced. Not even the humans on Torfan were this sadistic. "S-stop!" he stammered out, barely conscious by this point, "I don't know anything! We were just told to guard the warehouse, we don't know where the shipment's coming from!"
The thing procureed a datapad from its cloak. "You sent a message to your direct superior asking to reaffirm the drop off coordinates. So again, where?"
A last scream, far longer and far louder than the rest.
And the sergeant went limp.
"Seven ribs. Either very stubborn," the shadow said to no one in particular, "or very stupid."
The shade now advanced towards the half blind Firn, two eyes still bleeding profusely. It grabbed the guard by the throat and lifted him off the ground.
"N-no please," the guard managed to choke out. Fear had clearly broken him long before pain had been given the opportunity, "I don't know anything!"
Firn saw the slits of green narrow.
"We'll see just how very much you know" the word almost seemed to hit Firn like a physical blow, "I do hope you don't hold out on me. Something tells me you won't last seven ribs. Probably not even four."
Firn was now terrified. He might have even soiled himself. "I swear to every god and Aria's blue ass crack and my whore mother and whatever the hell else you want me to that I have no idea about any shipment! I can't tell you anything because they don't tell us anything!"
"You can," replied the shadow, who then drew Firn uncomfortably close, "and you will."
That probably did not bode well for the unfortunate guard. From what he could guess, that lie would cost him in both the long and short-term. "You-you're him aren't you? The Nalak-"
"A batarian title. I have many on this station. Although you may also know me by another name..."
A cloak hid any external body features. The helmet was slanted back, little more than a blank faceplate bisected by four green diamond burning underneath. But more than the cape, more than the helm, more even than the fact that this thing had beaten fifteen trained mercenaries and more almost bare-handed, the eyes were what Firn truly feared more than anything. The four green slits brought to mind nightmares long forgotten, fears forever unspoken, and gave the mercenary the sudden urge to call upon each and every one of the twenty two batarian gods for forgiveness,