Disclaimer: the Mass Effect trilogy is the property of Bioware.
Rating: M
Genre: AU, action/adventure and probably all you can find in the original games (romance, politics, etc).
Betareader: Talimancer
A/N: English is not my mother tongue so you'll find some strange sentences here and there. Talimancer is currently going through the chapters to correct them, I'll edit them when they're ready.

Semper Fi
Chapter 1
Garrus - 1

Garrus would never have imagined the docks could be so crowded so early in the morning. He never came to this part of the Citadel because he never had to. He arrived on the station four years ago and never left since, not even once for new year's celebrations on Palaven. His job didn't offer him the opportunity to come here either. As an officer with an engineer's degree like his, his job consisted of tracking down bad guys through their bank accounts, most of the time. Sometimes, his boss asked him to assist gathering intel on a suspect but his superior didn't like it. Executor Pallin had his own guys for that, a whole division of Salarians to be precise. He didn't like to give their job to someone else. Everybody had a defined place and a role to keep straight with Pallin, much like with his predecessor. Garrus didn't care much for those rules. He did his job at full capacity, regardless of who gave the order. It was the turian way of doing things after all. He may not have been a good Turian but he took his job seriously and did everything he could to do it, even if that meant crossing the line here and there.

His liberal understanding of the rules surely drove him to this point of his life, in those overcrowded spacedocks during rush hour. Garrus hadn't decided yet if it was a good or a bad thing. He still barely believed it and thought someone would come any minute now to tell him they had made a mistake somewhere and that he had to report to Chellick at C-Sec like every other day. Spectre. The Council had made him a Spectre. If anybody wanted a proof of drug use within the Council members, that was it. Nobody sober, or sane, would have given him this job. The Special Tactics and Reconnaissance forces – Spectres in short – were agents of the Council, an elite group selected within the best of what each species could produce, exceptional soldiers with extraordinary authority. They were not trained, Councilor Valern had said, but chosen, individuals forged in the fire of service and battle, those whose actions elevated them above the rank and file. Garrus had barely listened to the Salarian, more intrigued by the presence of Admiral Anderson of the Alliance Navy and Ambassador Udina, of Earth. Like every Turian, Garrus was not at ease around Humans. He didn't personally know many of them, even if some worked at C-Sec, so he liked to keep an eye on them. They were loud, bold and cocky most of the time despite their recent arrival into galactic society. Plus there was the whole Relay 314 incident, that didn't help either.

It took eight standard minutes for Councilor Valern and Councilor Tevos to describe how important his new job was, eight minutes Garrus mostly spent looking at all the serious faces giving themselves some sort of importance. The turian ambassador was also there but Garrus couldn't recall her full name – she was a Noramus, he could tell by her tattoos, but her first name was a mystery. She stood between the Earth ambassador and the turian Councilor, Sparatus, at parade rest to not let anything show. Sparatus was much easier to read. He was uneasy and reluctant to be there. Tevos had to give him a cold look to make him talk. Sparatus cleared his throats and declared that, as a new Spectre, Garrus had to spend a year under the supervision of an experienced mentor. Garrus understood what it meant before Sparatus explained the presence of the Humans: his mentor would be the only Spectre from Earth, Commander Jane Shepard of the Alliance Navy, hero of Torfan, poster-girl for all the greatness of her species since her nomination five years ago. By the time Garrus had arrived on the Citadel, the press division of the Earth embassy had stopped to put her face on every holoscreen possible but he knew who she was nonetheless. The news never gave up the opportunity to talk about how extraordinary Commander Shepard was. She always looked dead serious and haughty, her chin up and her eyes looking down at the mortal reporters gathered around her in awe and admiration. She was Earth's best poster-girl alright, exactly how any Turian would describe a Human, minus the bloodthirsty look and the weird dead-animal-like hair on top of it.

So Spectre Shepard was going to be his mentor for a year, an act that would surely improve the friendship between Turians and Humans – Garrus almost grinned when Sparatus said that. The Earth ambassador was very proud of himself, no doubt it has been his idea. If Admiral Anderson was annoyed by Udina, it didn't show. The man stood straight and tall, strength personified despite the loose skin on his face and neck – a sign of old age in Humans, if Garrus remembered correctly. When came his turn to speak, he informed Garrus that he was here to represent Shepard, as she wasn't on the Citadel yet. She would arrive the next day but he had nothing to worry about. Shepard's mentor had been a Turian, Nihlus Kryik, so she already knew a lot about turian culture. Knowing her as Anderson did, integration should work smoothly if Garrus gave his best, and he believed Turians didn't do otherwise. Shepard didn't care about species as long as her people were competent. Garrus had nodded – there wasn't much he could have done or said at that moment anyway.

Few Spectres had their own spaceship and Shepard was one of them. That meant Garrus wouldn't be alone with her, he was to join the Normandy's crew, live and work with them. He had thought about it later in the evening after his nomination, sipping a beer in a bar he visited regularly, one of those where he would never meet one of his C-Sec colleagues. He had served on a spaceship like everybody, but on a turian one. Shepard was from the Alliance, which meant her ship surely ran under Alliance rules. Garrus had no idea what those were. Humans were less likely to spar, that he knew. What about the food? Levo amino food was toxic to Turians. Garrus may have been the lucky bastard out of one hundred millions who wouldn't die immediately if he ate levo food but still. He wasn't eager to survive on ration bars only for the next year, nor to be surrounded by death threats everywhere – heck, technically Humans were toxic to him. And what about individual liberties? Humans were a lot less permissive than the Hierarchy.

Garrus hadn't slept very well, to be honest. He hadn't been this anxious since his common alien cultures exam in seventh year – the class never really interested him to begin with and he was buried under maths and programming homework that year; who cared about elcor literature anyway? – and he wasn't one to be anxious in general. Worried, yes, it happened, but not anxious. Garrus had left his small apartment with his weapons suitcase and another set of armor, not even looking behind him – the ambassador had assured him that she would take care of it for him. He had arrived at the docks just before rush hour and had stood there since then, at parade rest, looking right in front of him when he wasn't distracted by the crowd, waiting for the Normandy. He had been told the ship would arrive at the Alliance's docks but he had preferred not to enter that part of the spaceport yet. Garrus could have used his new extraordinary authority to pass customs and wait there but he wasn't eager to force anything on Alliance goons. Humans were not easy to deal with when authority was forced upon them, especially if a Turian was involved – Garrus had learned that the hard way in C-Sec. Instead of doing something stupid, he had informed the Alliance soldiers in customs that he was to board the Normandy when the ship would arrive later, they could check with Admiral Anderson or Ambassador Udina if they wanted, then he waited outside, not caring about the looks he got from civilians. If they never had seen a Turian in medium armor, that wasn't his problem.

Rush hour picked up, people came and went like waves on a shore, released on the Citadel by commercial flights from all around the galaxy. It took two days through the relay network to reach the Citadel from Parnita or Pranas, three from Trebia, a little more from Sol. When you could make it to the other side of the galaxy in under fifteen days, working in another system was something that was possible. A lot of Turians worked in C-Sec for ten weeks in a row and went back to Palaven for two standard weeks of rest. Garrus probably would have done the same if he had been a good son. But he wasn't. He didn't even send mail to his father to tell him he had made it to Spectre – though his old man would have taken it as a personal offense, no doubt about it. Garrus didn't have to, anyway. His father still had a lot of friends on the Citadel, some of them pretty high ranked. He probably knew by now. Garrus checked the time on his omnitool. Yep, still night time in Cipritine. With a bit of luck, Garrus would be out of reach if his father tried to call him in the morning.

A Human whistled near him, looking at the vessels arriving at the Alliance's docks. He was tall – not as tall as any Turian though – with broad shoulders and a neck as wide as his muscular arms. He kept his hair very short and tattoos were visible above his shirt. Garrus noticed the Alliance uniform, the dogtags, his bags and the absence of a weapon at his hip before giving a look at the ship arriving. He blinked, dazzled for a second by a reflexion on the painted metal of the Normandy SR-2. The vessel was a beauty alright, something really similar in design to turian frigates. She was slender but powerful, made for speed, for striking like lightning. Garrus caught himself holding his breath as the Normandy docked with precision, her thrusters roaring in the resonance cage that were the quays, making the ground shake slightly.

"Quite a view, huh?" the Alliance soldier told him, grinning. Garrus straightened his back and locked his eyes in the cluster's bright clouds. He nodded sharply. The soldier grinned even more. "I better move, I'm part of the crew of this beauty now," he said, visibly proud of himself. Garrus nodded again, as if listening to a kid bragging about his oh so formidable skills. "Not jealous?" the soldier added as he lifted his bags. "You Turians are kind of suckers for ships like that, right?"

"I'm boarding the Normandy too, actually", Garrus said flatly but he couldn't wait to hear the Human's reaction. "I am to be Spectre Shepard's protegee from today."

"Wow, that's awesome man!" the private yelled. Garrus frowned. The Human wasn't pissed at all, nor jealous. He seemed impressed, definitely, and in awe. That wasn't expected. "I didn't know I'd be able to see not just one, but two Spectres in action! That's so cool!"

"Well, I'm new at this," Garrus admitted, backing off a little, "I doubt I'll be of any help to your, huh, interest."

"C'mon! 'Spectres are not trained' and all that shit, y'know? You must be pretty badass to have made it to Spectre, and that's something to say of a Turian! You guys are like Terminators, I heard, right?"

"Like what?" Garrus asked but the soldier didn't answer and took his hand to shake it with force, staring at him straight in the eyes.

"I'm James Vega, by the way, nice to meet you!"

"Garrus Vakarian," Garrus replied, trying to get his hand back. Fortunately, the Normandy's cargo bay started to open and Vega's attention was drawn away. Garrus' hand hurt a little, to be honest.

"We better get our asses down," Vega said, rearranging his bags on his shoulder. "I heard the Commander is one hell of woman and her XO is even worse." He patted Garrus on the shoulder, almost throwing him against the guide-bar. "You coming, Garrus?"

"I'd prefer 'Vakarian', mister Vega," Garrus informed, checking his suitcases. Vega laughed, a bright laugh without anything hidden behind it.

"Alright Vakarian. Let's get this show on the road, eh?"

"Go ahead, I have a few things to check with customs first," Garrus lied. Vega didn't detect his bullshit, patted him once more and left him where he was. Humans, Garrus thought, looking at this specimen walking away. There was no in between with them: too friendly or blatantly hostile. Either way, they were a bunch of crazies.

Garrus made a great deal of checking his suitcases to give Vega enough time to present himself at the cargo bay's door. He then passed customs without even looking at the guards and took the stairs to get down to the docking bay assigned to the Normandy. As soon as he stepped on the metal floor, Garrus felt more than he saw the agitation all around. The ship was being refilled, crates coming up and down the cargo bay's ramp with a precision and a rapidity any captain would be envious of. It was like a well written symphony without any dissonance – so not turian music, obviously. Orders were shouted from within the ship but it didn't seem necessary. Everybody worked like a well oiled machine, in proper order and without haste. Garrus took a minute to admire the work, having some trouble believing Alliance goons could be so efficient.

His inspection was cut short by a little woman coming straight for him. She had dark skin and black hair and Garrus hoped she had some sort of importance on the Normandy – he somehow had less trouble remembering dark skinned Humans than the others. He would make a good impression if he didn't mix the names of the crew members up. "Spectre Vakarian?" she asked, saluting him the Alliance way. Garrus nodded. Her accent was very exotic to say the least, very different from what Garrus had heard so far from Humans. "Samantha Traynor, communication Specialist of the Normandy SR-2. Commander Shepard asked me to welcome you on board and to give you a tour of the ship."

"Oh," Garrus said, a little disappointed maybe. Of course, his mentor was certainly busy but he would have liked to meet her as soon as possible. "Very well."

Traynor smiled tentatively. "My apologies, Spectre Vakarian. We make a great deal of leaving the Citadel as soon as possible. The ship wasn't even docked and secured properly and Commander Shepard was already out."

"Why the rush?" Garrus asked. As a Spectre, Shepard certainly didn't pay any docking fee on the Citadel. The Normandy could have stayed days or weeks there and it wouldn't have cost Shepard a credit – even for refueling, he'd bet.

"We have a refilling record to beat down," Traynor said, her smile more like a grin now. Garrus couldn't tell if it was a lie or the truth, but it certainly was a stupid reason – a very unprofessional reason. "Commander Shepard also has an appointment with the Council in ten minutes and she has to go to the Spectres Bureau after. You'll meet her as soon as she comes back. Shall we?"

Garrus nodded once more and followed the little woman into the cargo bay, taking his suitcases with him. The smell was foreign, full of metal, oil and human sweat, something quite acid and bitter. There was enough space to fit a shuttle or two into the hangar, and crates were already piling up to the ceiling. The armory was also located there – good to know. It seemed properly provisioned. One thing Garrus was eager to put his hands on was regular Alliance weapons. Humans sure were good at warfare. The hangar should also be big enough to practice sparing, if it was allowed, but for now it was difficult to tell because of all the people working on restocking the ship. Traynor called for an elevator – an elevator! That was stupid – and smiled again to Garrus. "I'll take you first to deck two to meet our Executive Officer. We call deck two CIC for Combat Information Center, that's where the bridge is located. You'll meet our pilot too." The elevator arrived and they entered it. Traynor continued: "You'll also find the communication room in the CIC. It's only accessible through the labs, one on both side of the ship."

"Labs?" Garrus repeated. Why would a war frigate have laboratories?

"Yes sir. Lab 1 is dedicated to our research on Protheans and Geth, as Commander Shepard's mission is to keep an eye on both. Lab 2 is currently not used." The elevator stopped and opened onto the CIC. Garrus faced a holographic map of the ship in the middle of some sort of huge triangular desk with work stations all around. A few crewmen were at work but they barely looked at him. "You can leave your suitcases here," Traynor informed him, "nobody will touch them. Follow me, please."

Garrus obliged and let the Specialist take him to the bridge. A strange alien was standing there, presenting him their back. They were wearing red armor definitely from another age, their head was large and with some sort of plates on top of it, and their skin was greenish, or blueish, it was difficult to tell. The alien was barely as tall as Traynor but they were wider and their posture indicated strength, the merciless kind of strength. When they turned their head to look over their shoulder, Garrus met a pair of yellow eyes, a big and a small, both cold as ice. Now he was sure of it: he didn't know this species of alien.

"Spectre Vakarian, this is our Executive Officer, Javik," Traynor said with reverence in her voice. The alien turned fully and looked at Garrus as if he was but a child, chin up, their unsettling eyes low. A shiver ran up Garrus' back as the alien detailed him. "Javik, this is Commander Shepard's protegee, Garrus Vakarian."

"A Turian," the Executive Officer noticed, his voice low and definitely male, the word rolling on his tongue as he tasted it with caution. "I don't like Turians." Garrus frowned and opened his mouth to reply but a laugh from the cockpit interrupted him.

"Don't mind the old man," a human male offered. His chair spun to give him a view of the galley. He wore some sort of hat and the Alliance's uniform, and his face had hairs on it – a beard, if Garrus remembered correctly, perfect, that would help him get a name on beard-face. His eyes were bright like his smile. "The only person he tolerates in the whole universe is Shepard so don't take it as a personal offense, buddy."

"Spectre Vakarian," Traynor intervened before Garrus could remind the man such familiarities were not welcome, "this is our Flight Lieutenant, Jeff Moreau."

"But everybody calls me Joker," Moreau added. "I also answer to 'Handsome', 'Genius' and 'God'." Garrus frowned even more while Javik looked at the ceiling, his lips a thin line. Traynor just smiled, maybe to apologize. She noticed something over Garrus' shoulder – which wasn't easy considering how tiny she was compared to him – and excused herself for a minute, walking past him. Joker stared a few seconds at Garrus before pointing at him with a finger. "So, Turian, heh? I thought you guys couldn't live if you ever had a scar, question of dishonor or something."

Garrus' hand automatically reached for his face, touching his damaged jaw minima. Reconstructing it hadn't been easy, or so the doctors had said at the time but Garrus barely remembered his days at the hospital after the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, three months ago. Painkillers had that kind of side effect at high dose. Garrus scratched his scar a little and noticed the disdained look the Executive Officer was giving him. "Yeah, well, we're not big fans because the scar tissue lacks the proper quantity of metal that ensures we don't burn under Palaven's sun," Garrus explained matter-of-factly.

Traynor coming back forced him to keep his next sarcastic remark to himself. She was followed by Vega, who winked at Garrus while pointing at the Specialist' derriere. Garrus frowned, irritated by such behavior. Humans and their sexism... Garrus couldn't count how many times he had had to listen to his human colleagues about the women they courted, or just met in the street. Sexism was the norm for most known species so Turians were sort of the exception but that didn't mean they just had to stand there and bear something so disrespectful. Garrus was about to say something when a green glow surrounded Vega and lifted him above ground. Biotics. All senses in high alert, Garrus looked around him quickly and reached to his hip to find his gun. His eyes fell on Javik, his fist at shoulder level, glowing green, holding the soldier up in the air – and suffocating him.

"This is a warning, Human," Javik said, his voice roaring like thunder, while Vega was trying to get free. "Next time you disrespect a female member of this crew, I'll throw you out the airlock. Understood?" Vega nodded vigorously and Javik released him. The alien then turned to Garrus, who still had a hand on his gun. "The same applies to you, Turian." They kept their eyes locked during the few seconds it took Garrus to remember this guy was technically his superior. The Executive Officer was in charge of the ship when the Commanding Officer was out – Shepard was a Commander alright, but a frigate normally fell under a Captain's authority; was there any Captain on this ship? Garrus lowered his stand and took a step back, implicitly acknowledging Javik's authority. Vega made a big deal of breathing heavily, even if he hadn't been deprived of air for more than twenty seconds.

"Yeah that's right!" Joker suddenly shouted, arms in the air, forcing a ghetto accent. "You don't mess with Shepard's crew, bitch!"

"Your language, Lieutenant Moreau," Javik grumbled. "I believe you had a tour to give to the Turian, Specialist Traynor. I'll deal with this... Human."

"Yes sir," the woman snapped with a salute. "This way, Spectre Vakarian." Garrus nodded and followed the Specialist back to the heart of the CIC, still wary of the XO at his back, just in case. They entered Lab 1 on their right. It was a long room with a view of the exterior and the reactor – kind of a design flaw if he'd been asked. Several tables and workbenches were used to display disassembled weapons, alien tech, bits of strange armors, parchments, floating orbs, and whatnot. A door on their left opened to a small traversal corridor, leading to Lab 2 ahead and to the communication room on the right. This room was packed with computers floor to ceiling and, as the Specialist explained with awe and admiration, contained a newly developed and still experimental quantum entanglement communication device. Garrus never heard of this but he was familiar with quantum theories – which was exactly his problem regarding social interactions if he was to believe his C-Sec colleagues. If this device were to function accordingly to theory for a price inferior to a small armada each time it was used, it would resolve the delicate problem of communications while a ship was trapped in the relay network and its bizarre physical consequences on matter and energy – which were two sides of the same coin, everybody knew that.

They finished the tour of the CIC in Lab 2, which was mostly empty but definitely dedicated to biology, and its storeroom. Garrus took back his suitcases and they went down to the third deck, or Crew deck. He was able to leave his baggage in the crew's quarters, a small and gray room with lots of bunk-beds which reminded him a lot of his time on a turian spaceship, then followed Traynor through the medical bay, the ship's VI core, the mess hall, the main battery – ah, something interesting! –, Doctor T'Soni's office, whoever that was, the bathrooms, two observation decks, one looking more like a bar than anything else, and life support. Fourth deck had a wonderful view on the cargo bay and again Garrus wondered why the ship had so many internal windows. Two cargo rooms were located on Engineering deck but inaccessible due to their role as private quarters, one of them for the Executive Officer. Garrus had the pleasure of seeing the drive core of the ship and talking a bit with an Alliance engineer called Adams. He seemed like a simple and good man, but his assistants, Donnelly and Daniels, weren't as friendly with the new Turian on board.

Another elevator lift took him down to the cargo bay again. Traynor detailed the armory in length and Garrus listened politely, his hands behind his back. The weapons looked well cleaned and cared for, that was a good thing. He would ask nonetheless to keep his in his locker. The day a Turian would let someone else touch his weapons was not there yet. Garrus easily admitted he wasn't a good Turian but not bad to that point.

Something big and red moved in the corner of his vision field and Garrus automatically recognized a Krogan in armor walking through the cargo bay. He had shopping bags in his hands and was talking with a frail lady Quarian in black and purple. They were too far for Garrus's translator to pick up what they were saying but he understood just by looking at the Krogan's face they weren't having a nice conversation. Another oddity on this ship, Garrus thought as the strange couple approached. Krogans weren't known for their patience and their tolerance for authority. It was strange to see such a big specimen get scowled by an alien a fifth of his weight. He could smash her into a red pulp without even realizing it.

The Krogan smelled the air and turned to stare at Garrus, his red eyes detailing him with a deadly precision. Garrus knew the Krogan's first strike would be to his left side, just under the ribs, where the armor was thinner to allow more flexibility. Then, his leg, either the knee or the lug. Once Garrus bent over, the Krogan would grab his fringes and tear them off his skull. The pain would be so intense that the final blow on his now-exposed neck would only bring relief. Garrus, on his hand, knew he had but one shot with a Krogan: one bullet in each shoulder, then in the knees, get close, stick the gun in an eye socket while the alien was incapacitated and unload all remaining rounds. That should do it.

But, instead of drawing their guns and shooting at each other, they simply nodded their respect, knowing perfectly well that the other had also listed the best ways to kill their opponent. Garrus then turned his attention back to Traynor and followed her to the Kodiak shuttle. She barely introduced him to Lieutenant Steve Cortez when a slender and tall human woman of a certain age came to them. She was wearing a different kind of uniform, the medic standard one with its white highlight on the left shoulder.

"Good morning," she said and presented her hand. Garrus took it to shake it lightly. He had to salute the crew members the human way, probably.

"Spectre Vakarian, this is our medic on board, Doctor Karin Chakwas," Traynor explained.

"Nice to meet you, Doctor," Garrus felt obligated to say. "But, please, 'Vakarian' is enough."

"Ah, not used to the title yet?" Chakwas smiled. "Our Commander still has trouble with it too. May I borrow mister Vakarian for a moment, Samantha? I'd like to check up on him before we go."

"Good idea, Doctor," Traynor nodded. She then turned to Garrus: "If you have any question, please feel free to ask me. If you need something for your personal comfort, you'll have to talk to Javik before we leave the Citadel, he's in charge of the refilling. And don't worry about dextro supplies, we already took care of it."

Garrus nodded his thanks and followed the doctor up to third deck. She asked him to sit on an exam table while she scanned him, then proceeded to check on his blood pressure, oxygen level and so on. "Alright, mister Vakarian, you seem to be in excellent condition."

"Did the embassy forget to send you my dossier?" Garrus asked as he got back on his feet. That wasn't like them at all.

"Don't worry mister Vakarian, your people did an excellent job, as always. No, I just like to perform a check on the crew members myself. I have to inform you that the atmosphere within the ship conforms to Alliance regulation and is comparable to Earth's: seven point eight parts nitrogen, two oxygen, zero point zero four carbon dioxide and the rest is mostly water vapor. You may feel a bit dizzy for the first few days so, please, feel free to come to me anytime." Garrus nodded. "I ordered packets of turian blood as soon as I received your dossier, real blood, not the synthetic kind, and it should arrive soon. And I have everything necessary in case of an allergic reaction. Do you have any questions?

"Do you have any experience with turian physiology?" Garrus asked bluntly. Chakwas was Human after all. Turians and Humans were two very different species.

"I studied your kind like any other Alliance doctor," Chakwas nodded, "and I also had many opportunities to practice. Spectre Kryik has a tendency to get severely injured every time he works with Commander Shepard. It's all or nothing with him," she smiled. Her eyes locked on his scars and Garrus felt his jaw itch a little.

"We Turians do that, yeah..." Garrus admitted, turning his head the other way to hide his scars.

"And Commander Shepard doesn't know how to work otherwise," Chakwas chuckled. "I feel like you two will give me a lot of work this year." She seemed relaxed and joking, her eyes sparkling. "Not that I'm complaining. The daily life on board can be pretty boring." Garrus doubted that. With all the different species on board, there must be some kind of frictions within the crew, leading to injuries. Heck, the Krogan could probably kill everyone on board just because his breakfast wasn't tasty enough. "Before I release you, mister Vakarian, may I ask you for a little help?" Garrus straightened his back, telling himself to be nice to the crew. He hadn't been on board for more than an hour yet and he miraculously didn't screw everything up already. Garrus intended to keep it that way so he nodded. "Could you lift those supplies to this cabinet?" the doctor asked, pointing to a storage space above her desk. "You're tall enough to not have to humiliate yourself by standing on a spinning chair to reach it."

Garrus snorted – damn! First mistake. But the doctor smiled, not offended at all. He still felt like he had to redeem himself. "Of course, Doctor. Anytime."

The job took him only a few minutes and by the time he was done, the Executive Officer called for him on the CIC. Garrus excused himself and took the elevator – which was pretty stupid because a bunch of stairs would prove to be faster than an elevator ride, plus it was always good to have a little exercise. Javik was waiting for him in front of the door, hands behind his back. "The Asari is stuck in customs. Go help them," he said, then pointed to the airlock near the cockpit. Garrus wanted to ask who Javik was talking about but the alien didn't leave him the opportunity of opening his mouth. "Why are you standing there, Turian?" he asked, his eyes throwing daggers. "Are you deaf? I gave you an order."

Garrus didn't say anything, didn't even frown because it was useless. He snapped a sharp salute and walked straight out of the Normandy. Once on the Alliance docks, he dared to think he'd have to talk to his mentor about the behavior of her Executive Officer. Garrus wasn't a snitch and he wouldn't dare to question his mentor's decisions but he wanted to clarify the extent of Javik's authority. And what the heck was he anyway?

Well, at least his strange appearance explained why Javik didn't go out of the ship to take care of "the Asari" – he would probably provoke a small panic within the mindless inhabitants of the Citadel. Now, Garrus thought, the question was: of whom was Javik talking about? He stood on tip-toes to look around. An Asari in the middle of the overcrowded docks of the Citadel would surely prove difficult to find. Garrus had no difficulties recognizing an Asari from the other because of their facial markings, very similar to turian's tattoos, but Javik didn't provide him with a description of "the Asari". He had said that they were stuck in customs, though. A blue alien in the middle of Humans was a start. Garrus made his way through Alliance goons and noticed an Asari arguing with some soldiers at the entrance, carton boxes at their feet. He checked they were the only one around, then walked to them. Garrus saluted the three aliens, not sure of how he had to introduce himself.

"Spectre Vakarian," he said but his voice lacked determination. "The Executive Officer of the Normandy SR-2 sent me to retrieve a fellow crew member." The two soldiers exchange a strange look. Maybe they didn't have enough information but Garrus didn't have much to offer to begin with. He gave a quick look to the Asari in a blink of an eye and it was enough to confirm they were the right one – thanks Spirits, it would have been very embarrassing to interrupt totally unrelated business. "What's the problem?" Garrus insisted.

"The Asari is carrying too much alcohol," one of the soldiers answered.

Said Asari started to protest but Garrus interrupted them: "I believe the Asari has a name and I recommend you use it respectfully." Frankly, he was annoyed by how the Humans had talked about them. He was annoyed each time Humans were talking about other species anyway.

"Huh," the soldier hesitated.

"Doctor Liara T'Soni," the Asari grumbled. Ah, that was a name Garrus had heard earlier. "I told you at least twice."

"Are all those supplies necessary, Doctor T'Soni?" Garrus asked, bending a little to show a little proximity – they were supposed to be comrades, after all.

"I don't know if they are but I have my orders," they said, frowning a little. "I told those gentlemen I'm under Commander Shepard's protection, Council Spectre, therefore I benefit from partial immunity. I can carry whatever I want through customs as long as I have been ordered to."

"And I told you by Alliance law you can't take more than ten liters of exotic alcohol with you through customs," the soldier insisted. Garrus sighed discretely. A conflict of authority. Classic. He straightened his back to focus the soldiers' attention on him and put his hands behind his back. It was futile to use brute force with this kind of goons.

"I'm afraid they are right, Doctor T'Soni. Your status as a Spectre's protegee doesn't allow you everything," Garrus started and he immediately saw the Asari react but he cut them short, before the soldiers could celebrate their victory. "But, I am a Spectre, therefore I'm above Alliance restrictions. Please, hand me the boxes." T'Soni obliged and loaded Garrus arms with two heavy boxes, keeping two others for her, bottles clinging joyfully. He nodded to the Humans. "Gentlemen."

They were halfway across the docks when the Asari dared to breathe again. "Thank you," they said. "Without you, I would have been stuck there until Commander Shepard came back." Their voice was soft and well balanced, their accent not difficult to follow. Garrus nodded, more to himself than anything else. "So, Spectre Vakarian, not on board for a day and already used by Javik. How does it feel?" they joked.

"Like he threw me in the middle of an arena without armor, guns or intel," Garrus replied frankly. The good Doctor gave the impression he could say whatever he liked around them. They were relaxing, somehow. Maybe it was because Garrus was used to dealing with Asaris on a daily basis – some of his colleagues at C-Sec were Asaris.

They chuckled. "Well, you did a good job. May I ask you your full name?"

"Garrus Vakarian. Vakarian is fine."

"All right. Everybody calls me Liara." Garrus felt uneasy about it and T'Soni noticed it. "But there is no obligation. That can wait until we know each other a little better. Although, I have to tell you we don't use ranks and family names often on board, and I doubt most of the crew knows about Turian's... fixation for last names."

Garrus snorted. It was a fixation alright. "I suppose it's a cultural thing."

"It is, indeed." T'Soni walked first through the airlock and talked for a few seconds with the pilot. Garrus followed them down the galley to the elevator, then to Port Observation where a small bar had been installed. Garrus put the boxes on top of it. "Thanks for your help."

"No worries." Garrus looked at T'Soni, his jaw fluttering a little. He wasn't particularly tall for a Turian but he was now surrounded by midgets – the Krogan was taller than him but only because of his hump. "Need a hand with those bottles?" he asked, pointing to the wall behind the bar where the alcohol was stocked.

T'Soni turned a little then smiled to him. "That would be appreciated."

Garrus nodded once more and started unpacking the alcohol in a comfortable silence barely disrupted by the quiet hum of the reactor. He could work with that, he thought, and he wished his mentor would be as easy to stick around as T'Soni. But, deep down, he could feel his impatience growing, slowly turning into anxiety. Commander Shepard, Council Spectre, his mentor, was still ashore.


Corrected on August 13th, 2015