A/N: Quick explanation. I'd initially expected that I'd split the epilogue into two chapters, the first one being about Ian dealing with Rebecca's death. However, after I read it through, I thought to myself, 'you know what, this is crap.' There was a lot of angst, shutting people out, it read like a fucking Twilight book. So, that was subsequently scrapped, and I started fresh with the one, larger epilogue.
(Also, I know that Garrus's real family history and stuff is different to what I wrote for him thanks to Lair of the Shadow Broker, but in the interest of continuity I'm keeping it the same as I wrote it. It's a minor thing, so don't panic.)
One more thing, I know that it takes Shepard fifteen hours to wake up after Eden Prime is dealt with. But from a plot point of view on my part, that's a massive pain to write in. So she's going to turn up early. If that's an issue for you, I'm sorry. Sorry you're so pedantic.
So now, this is the final chapter. It's been a crazy ride…something I'll go into further during the final A/N.
And all the angst will be dealt with in this handy recap section…enjoy!
For almost ten minutes I'd lain there, thinking of nothing but Rebecca as Saleon's ship disappeared into the distance and chaos erupted in the spaceport around me. Officers running across the place, Garrus yelling for someone to shoot it down then going crazy down the line when his request got denied, but none of it mattered to me. She was gone. At the time, there was nothing else. I had the knowledge that should have protected her, I had the means to keep her safe, and yet still I'd failed because she couldn't know the truth. That knowledge had left me feeling empty as I lay there, tears still on the edge of my vision, as everything else in the world just passed by me. Garrus came over, trying to comfort me, saying C-Sec would get Saleon before he got away…he may as well have been talking to a brick wall. I knew Saleon wasn't coming back, that his escape was guaranteed. Garrus had picked me up, taken me back to the police line for med staff to try and treat me for shock or something, but I barely felt myself being lifted along, too embroiled in my own thoughts and grief. It almost felt like an out of body experience, I knew what was happening without feeling any of it, the sudden loss numbing it all out.
Seeing the med staff had reminded me of Rebecca when they finally got me sat down, bringing on a fresh load of tears while everyone else just looked on helplessly. They all tried to help, towels around my shoulders, comforting words about how we'd get Rebecca back…it meant nothing to me. I'd retreated into my shell after she disappeared, and nothing they did was going to bring me out. Garrus tried his best too, kept by me the whole time, stopped too many people trying to talk to me when I clearly didn't want them there, but even he couldn't do much then.
With Rebecca gone, a little part of me had gone with her as well. I ended up moving back in Garrus, much to my relief in hindsight. There was no way I was going back to Rebecca's apartment, living alone would have been absolutely terrible for me, so Garrus was more than happy to take me back in. He helped move everything over, get me settled back in…but it wasn't the same as old times. No wisecracks, going out for drinks, that sort of thing. Instead, I made myself a routine and I stuck to it, losing myself in that instead of grief over Rebecca. Garrus and I rarely spoke in the house, and when we did it was more out of courtesy than anything, brief conversation with a lot of words that said very little.
Pallin arranged for me to have some time off work after the incident, of course. I was given a month, I took about a week. Sitting at home didn't help me, just gave me more time to grieve. So I got back as soon as I could, and threw myself into work. With Saleon gone, everything had petered out in the organ market…but there was still illegal trading, and I still had cases to deal with. Not that I cared particularly, instead seeing it as a way to keep my mind off the thoughts that emerged in the spare moments when nothing was going on. Everything was robotic, Garrus and I would follow up some leads, make some arrests, that was it. In interrogations, I started becoming almost as vicious as Garrus, actually hitting one particularly stubborn suspect, something I regret now looking back on it. Garrus was obviously concerned, I could tell from the way he started acting around me, but he never actually mentioned it to my face. Not a first, anyway.
I don't know what triggered it, but Garrus acted a month after Rebecca's disappearance. It was what the turians would call an intervention, I guess. We were having dinner in the apartment; a sober affair at the best of times anyway, both of us eating our respective dishes. Garrus asked me to grab him a bottle of wine that he'd bought from the store the other day, so I went over and got it for him without a word. Before, it's the kind of thing I'd have made some awful joke about, him having an alcohol problem or something 'hilarious' like that, but I just slammed it down on the table next to him and walked back to my seat at the table. And suddenly, he just exploded with all the feelings he must have had pent up over the month.
"Alright, what the fuck is wrong with you?" he'd shouted, slamming his cutlery down and rising to his feet. "It's been a month, Ian! You're a ghost of the man you used to be!"
"I lost the woman I loved, Garrus," I'd replied in a monotone, still focused on my food. "That's what wrong with me." I said that, and then I'd put my knife and fork down as well and stood up to face him. "You don't know what I'm feeling, Garrus. So don't ask what's wrong with me."
"Bullshit!" The turian had snapped, his fury obvious. "Look at yourself, Ian! Rebecca's been taken, yet it's like you've gone missing as well!"
"I'm still torn up about this, Garrus!" I shouted back, the first time I'd actually gotten really emotional since Saleon took Rebecca. "You can't just expect me to shake it off!"
"I'm not!" He was practically screaming at this point. "But you've become self-destructive, you're shutting people out, you're…" His voice had suddenly lowered, and he'd stared at the ground like he was ashamed. "You're like my father after my mother died."
That's when it had all hit me. I hadn't had a conversation with Garrus like this for a month. I'd become someone I'm not, retreating into myself and focusing on nothing except routine and work…just like Garrus's father. Garrus already had to deal with losing a father like that, and now I was making him lose a friend as well in the same way.
"Rebecca wouldn't want you like this, Ian. She wouldn't want you like a shadow of your former self." I just stared at the floor after my revelation, as other feeling aside from the grief and numbness started to return. I realised how selfish I was being, what I'd done to the people around me… Garrus had just looked at me, slight sadness in his eyes. "She's still out there, Ian. Just…" He sighed then, turning and starting to head towards his room, before stopping just before he entered it and turning his head to look at me. "Think about it, alright?" And then he was gone, leaving me standing at the table, conflicting emotions tearing through my mind and haunting my thoughts when I finally managed to drag myself into bed. I realised he was right, what I'd let happen to me and what I'd done to the people around me was wrong, and it left a bitter taste. That night, I decided that I was done with grieving. Rebecca might still be out there, and my final thought before I drifted off was how to make it up to Garrus.
It was the deepest sleep I'd had since Saleon escaped.
Apologising was hard, especially after Garrus's outburst that night, but I managed it. When I saw him in the morning, I told him I'd thought about what he said, and that he was right. He stood there for a second after I'd said it, face revealing nothing, before suddenly breaking into a grin and saying something about 'how angst didn't suit me anyway.' That morning, the part of me I'd lost when Rebecca got captured came back. My determination. I fell back into my normal way of life then, albeit with a large Rebecca shaped hole in it, but I can deal with it now. She might still be out there, and that's the hope I cling onto every time I think of her. I kept the ring she bought as a constant reminder of that. Hopefully, once the transponder codes for Saleon's ship come through, I'll be able to finally use it.
With my emotional problems dealt with, looking to the future became the priority. In the short time between Rebecca's abduction and now, there've been whisperings about geth sightings beyond the Veil, rumours of some kind of synthetic army gathering. A lot of it is probably unfounded, but the few reports that hold some semblance of truth show me something. Eden Prime is coming. Shepard is coming. It might only be a matter of days until C-Sec is behind me, and a whole galaxy of adventure beckons. Every day I wake up is a day closer, and the excitement and worries are beginning to dawn. But I'm ready.
It's 2183. Shepard could be here any day now. And I can't wait.
"Ian! Ian, wake up!"
I groan, trying to push the source of the surround away weakly, flailing my arms around as I gradually become conscious. What the hell does Garrus want this early…
"What?" I mutter, groggily. "Where's the fire?"
"On Eden Prime!" Garrus says frantically into my ear. "Look on the news channel!"
I spring out of bed as soon as he says Eden Prime, all tiredness forgotten. This is it! Mass Effect 1 has actually begun! I race into the main room, and stare intently at the screen displaying the report.
"The human colony of Eden Prime is under attack by geth forces," the reporter babbles frantically, barely able to control her voice with the excitement threatening to overcome her. Well, at least that makes two of us. "The colony was struck in what appears to be a motiveless attack by a geth unit, leaving many human casualties on the planet so far with the numbers mounting. The Council has dispatched reinforcements to the colony, but there are fears that this may be too little, too late." Heh, looks like that reporter hasn't banked on Commander Shepard turning up…it's so weird, actually hearing about events like this when I know what's happening on the Normandy at the moment, Shepard might be talking to Nihlus already, about to prepare the ground assault squad…
"The geth, created by the quarians four hundred years ago…" the reported continues, but Garrus lowers the volume when it becomes apparent she's just going off on some tangent to fill time.
"It's insane," he mutters darkly, turning to look at me. "The geth haven't been seen like this for a long time, not in my lifetime, and now they suddenly appear out nowhere on one of humanity's most valued colonies? There's got to be more to it than that, right?" I can hardly tell him that it's all part of a plan cooked up by a crazy Spectre and something most people believe is myth, so I just nod my head in a non-committal way and collapse onto the couch.
"It does seem odd," I admit, though that's about the full extent of how much I can voice my real opinion on the matter. "Christ, C-Sec's going to be in a bloody uproar if the geth seem to be at large…" As if on cue, both our omni-tools flare up and start beeping.
"Fifty credits says it's Pallin," I say, as I check the message. It is indeed from our beloved Executor, and the crux of the message is to get into C-Sec as fast as we can and that if we don't, the consequences will make us wish we'd never been born, or something suitably threatening like that.
"Charming," Garrus chuckles, as he finishes reading it and closes his omni-tool up. "Come on then, we don't want to keep Pallin waiting." You don't say, Garrus…no need to make Pallin more pissed off than he almost undoubtedly will be with all the things going on already…
True to form, Pallin wasn't happy when we appeared. Even if we'd teleported in front of him the second he sent that message to us, I doubt he'd have been satisfied, but that's moot anyway. He basically just ranted at us for five minutes about the geth and new security protocols as if it were somehow our fault, then sent us both on our merry way to improve our terminal security in case of geth hacking attempts, and to 'remain vigilant for geth infiltration attempts onto the Citadel'. My quip about them being hard to miss because of the flashlight heads wasn't appreciated as much as I hoped, and I promptly left the office a few seconds later with my ears still ringing after Pallin shouted into them about how 'serious the situation is, and that it's no time to be making jokes!' When Sovereign gets onto the Citadel and starts tearing shit up, I won't be missing too much sleep if Pallin's part of the collateral damage…
Improving the terminal security wasn't exactly hard for people with an ounce of tech knowledge like Garrus and I, so most of the morning was spent helping other people out and keeping an eye on the news reports about Eden Prime throughout the day. It took about two hours, before the tone of the report suddenly changed as the anchorwoman suddenly received breaking news about geth forces pulling back, and that Commander Shepard of the Normandy had successfully managed to drive back the forces on the colony. This was met with much raucous applause and shouting throughout the office, which promptly ceased when Nihlus's death was reported afterwards. In the game, he wasn't much of a major character, but around C-Sec he was something of legend among the turian officers. Things quickly started building up again with reports of people from neighbouring planets and systems who were fleeing into the Citadel, leading to a lot more bureaucracy for everyone in the office, while I watched the clock and waited for the call from Pallin to start my final investigation.
It came at about two pm. The battle on Eden Prime had finished just less than three hours ago when Pallin finally called us into his office and ordered Garrus and I to sit down. Which is where we are now, waiting for our orders.
"I've just received a message from the Council," Pallin starts, looking a bit angry. That doesn't surprise me…from what it seems like, Saren and Pallin aren't bad friends, so the subject of this investigation is going to be less than ideal from the Executor's point of view. "Apparently, the human ambassador is demanding an official enquiry into the Spectre Saren Arterius." Good old Udina…the news gets a little gasp from Garrus, as I pull my fake surprised face in order to satisfy everyone in the room that I didn't know this was coming.
"Saren? Why?" Garrus asks incredulously, mandibles flared with surprise.
"Apparently, the human thinks Saren was responsible for the geth assault on the colony," Pallin mutters, shaking his head as he says the words. Oh dear, Pallin, how wrong you are… "The Council has no choice but to comply to his wishes after the actions of the Normandy and humanity in dealing with the crisis. C-Sec will be heading up the investigation."
"Specifically, Garrus and I will be leading up the investigation, right?" I butt in, already knowing the answer.
"Precisely." Pallin clasps his talons together. "Research Saren's activities as best you can and try to work out any leads available on them."
"But he's a Spectre," Garrus points out. "Surely all his activities will be classified…"
"I said, research his activities, Vakarian," Pallin interrupts, firmly. Oh, I see how this works! Pallin knows we'll find nothing, he'll satisfy the Council and Saren will be spared any kind of embarrassment…but he didn't bank on Dr. Michel having a lead for us, or Shepard showing up! "That will be all, detectives," he says, standing up and gesturing towards the door. This conversation is obviously over, but a whole new part of my life is about to begin…my hands are actually trembling as I leave the room and Garrus and I head back to our respective terminals, and start the long process of stonewalling that comes with researching a Spectre.
"For fuck's sake!" Garrus shouts, three hours later, as his terminal lets off another pinging noise as access to yet another page on Saren is denied. "It's all classified! Every single thing!" He spins his chair around to look at me, anger written across his face.
"I know, this is bullshit," I respond, though I can't manage quite the same vehement anger when I knew it was coming in the first place. "Three hours and we're no further then we were when Pallin first gave us this."
"How does he expect us to do this…" he starts, but I just raise an eyebrow. Garrus catches on extremely quickly.
"Bastard…" he mutters, spinning around in his chair again, looking thoughtful. "Pallin knew this was going to happen. Right, that's it." He opens up his omni-tool, and starts typing away on it. I'd be prepared to put my life's wages as to who this message is going to be sent too.
"Who's that for?"
"Chloe Michel," he replies, without looking up.
"Your girlfriend?" I feel a little pang when I say the word, but I bury it as quickly as I can. Now's not the time.
Garrus growls softly, as he presses the send button. "Michel's usually got her ear to the ground," he admits. "People who come into med clinics injured have usually been up to no good. It's a long shot, but maybe she's heard something?" Not a long shot at all, Garrus…Michel's treated a very important person, the person who's got the information to get Saren stripped of his Spectrehood…
It takes five minutes for Michel to get back to Garrus. He scans through the message, the frown on his face gradually changing into a smile the more and more he reads.
"What? What does it say?"
"She got something for us," he crows. "Get the cruiser, we're going to the med clinic." We both stand up at the same time, just as both our omni-tools go off. Of course, Pallin will want to see us before we have time to pursue the lead…
"Oh, for fuck's sake!" Garrus hisses, reading the message. "You got that?"
"I've got it," I reply. Pallin wants to see us in the area where the hearing's going to start…that means Shepard's in town. It's time. "We'd better go there first, then," I sigh. "Don't want to keep Pallin waiting."
"Indeed," Garrus nods, as we both head out the main doors to get the cruiser, and I'm barely able to contain my excitement. As soon as we get there and talk to Pallin, Shepard is going to turn up next to us and everything's going to begin from there. Saren, the Reapers, the Normandy…it's all a matter of minutes away. I can barely contain myself as I buckle into the cruiser and we speed off towards the Citadel Tower.
"Saren's hiding something! Give me more time! Stall them!"
"Stall the Council? Don't be ridiculous. Your investigation is over, detectives." Pallin starts to walk away, and Garrus and I both turn to our right, both knowing exactly who's going to be standing there. This is it, Shepard is going to right there, this is where it all begins…
"Commander Shepard, Garrus Vakarian." He says.
"Ian ******…" I turn, and as soon as my eyes hit the Commander's face something starts to feel horribly wrong. My head starts aching, my vision starts to blur, what the hell…
The Reaper's roar whirling around my head again, the images of unspeakable pain and destruction projected into my mind with unforgiving clarity. The Collectors, those DNA strands whirling hypnotically…before the chaos rips me out my trance as the Reaper screams at the weapon being fired into the sky, the scene shifts, another human falls to the ground and the scream of pain from the Reaper changes to one of triumph…and this time, the human isn't a silhouette. I can see straight into her silently screaming face, eyes boreing right through mine, looping over and over again in my mind…
As the world around me suddenly comes back into focus, no time seemingly having passed during the vision, the terrifying realisation hits me.
The person in my vision.
Don't freak out.
END OF PART ONE
A/N: That's it, Masses to Masses 1 is done! Like I said before, it's been quite the ride. Looking back at the earlier chapters and what it's become now…I'm amazed. The amount of reviews, people reading and all that stuff is beyond anything I'd imagined. Everyone here, readers and reviewers alike, I can't thank you enough for your continued support throughout the whole process. It's been epic.
That said, I believe some shoutouts are in order for those consistent reviewers! So, without further ado, here we are:
City of Dis
porcupinetheater (I owe you a review, I know, I'll get it done!)
The website's messing up a lot, so I can't check back…if I've missed anyone, I'll add you to the list when I find out who you are ;-)
And of course, my close friends on the site for their continued support:
Well, that's all from me for now…I'll be back with Masses to Masses 2, but first a break. Expect to see me back maybe November time, or the start of December. I need a holiday :-). What does Ian's final vision there mean? What shenanigans are Ian and Garrus going to get up to on the Normandy? Will he ever find Rebecca? All questions for the next instalment…
Which is out now! Woohoo!
I'm outro. It's been a pleasure to write this, so much fun, reading all your reviews, seeing all those favourites and subscriptions…thank you all so much for making me a very happy guy.
See you next time.