Tears of the Sun

Epilogue

I own nothing.

SSV EVEREST MEDICAL BAY

FOUR DAYS AFTER CONCLUSION OF OPERATION UPPERCUT

'…not unbecoming men that strove with gods.' Ashley finished typing the message and held the pad up to survey it. The message didn't feel like much, it was composed mainly out of boredom while lying in bed in the Everest's medical bay. As the only uninjured member of the team, Doc had been the one to deliver the debriefings to Hackett and the rest of Alliance Command. Red was accompanying Slow's body back to his family on the Citadel. Without any family of their own, Flea, Silk and Lake had been buried in space, with full military honors.

Z was in an induced coma, while the surgeons repaired the damage that had been done to her chest organs. She was out of danger, but wouldn't be fighting fit for a long while yet. Doctor Lina Harrik had stayed for the burial of Ashley's team, and had personally supervised Z's medical treatment, then she got on a ship headed toward the Citadel, intending to recruit more doctors and funds, then come back to continue her work. Ashley couldn't help a wry grin, Lina didn't know how to give up.

And Ash? The only serious wounds were to her legs, the lower muscles in her left leg were sewn back together, although physical therapy was needed before she could walk easily on it. The grazes on her face and back were taken care of with a coat of medi-gel, the scars remaining at her request. Some of her hair had been completely burned away, the medics had run a follicle regenerator over her scalp, it'd be back to normal in a few weeks. She had spent her 'observation' time in sickbay composing a message for Slow's family, detailing how his bravery and intelligence had given them the advantage right when they needed it. She had a feeling they'd appreciate that.

There was a rumor floating about that the Council of Matriarchs were planning to give her men a unit citation, and award her with the Thessian Star of Valor. It would make them the first humans to receive asari commendations. Enthra had remained on the planet, the maiden planning to follow in her mother's footsteps to bring peace to the planet, maybe she would actually succeed considering the beating that the rebels had taken.

Ash had gained the Alliance some very good publicity all over Citadel Space, and a lot of fear out in the Terminus. Eagle Unit itself was still a highly classified N7 group, and as such, the still living members of the team could not be identified, but the deeds of Ashley's men were spreading fast. Alliance recruiters had wasted no time in portraying Eagle Unit as the best the Alliance could offer the galaxy, sign up rates had doubled overnight. Well placed intelligence agents throughout the Terminus began spreading rumors that Eagle Unit was preparing to come into the Terminus systems. There had been a noticeable drop in drugs and weapons smuggling as the scum of the galaxy tried to be on their best behavior.

Ash had a week of shoreleave coming, she was going to spend it with her family. But before she went, she needed to deal with this. The message was probably going to sound pathetic, but it was better than nothing. She took a deep breath and pressed 'Send'. Heck, the message might not even reach Shephard, but if it did, she hoped he would understand what she was trying to say.

Now, before she took her shoreleave, there was just one last thing that needed doing.

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CERBERUS VESSEL

NORMANDY SR-2, CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS

ONE HOUR OUT FROM OMEGA-4 RELAY

John Matthew Shephard stared at the glass of whiskey on his desk. The end was close now, he could felt it. He had helped the crew with their problems, allowed them to focus on the mission, his SPECTRE status was reinstated, the Normandy was in possession of some of the most advanced armour, shields and weaponry in the galaxy. There was nothing more he could do to prepare. It had been a little over two hours since he returned to the Normandy to find the entire crew MIA, with only Joker and EDI left to explain what had happened. He had immediately ordered a direct course to Omega 4.

He had not expected his time with Cerberus to be anything more than something urgent that needed to be dealt with before he returned to the Alliance. But it had become something more to him, the mission had become personal. But now as he looked at the amber liquid, he felt tired and alone. Jacob had Miranda, the two of them were down in the engine room right now, doing something that he would rather not think about. Garrus and Tali were talking in the forward battery, he had always suspected that Garrus might have been interested in her as more than just a friend. Thane had his son to return to, Samara had her code, Mordin wanted to commence his work on the cure for the genophage, Zaeed was planning his retirement, Grunt wanted glory.

Jack, well she probably just wanted to kill Miranda when the mission was over, Shephard would have to deal with that afterwards. Kasumi had confided in him that she genuinely wanted to stop the Collectors because it was the right thing to do, and because she was hoping to find some loose credits lying around.

"So what are you fighting for Shephard?" he asked himself. "You've got no uniform, you've got no family, and you haven't had any sleep for about seventy two hours."

His private terminal beeped urgently, he took his feet of the desk and brought up his personal messages. There was a new one at the top, the title said 'Sorry about Horizon'.

He scanned quickly through the contents of the letter. It would have looked out of place on any relationship advice column in the galaxy. But to him it was almost poetry. She couldn't lose him again? She wasn't going to. He'd fight through anything the Collector's threw at him, as long as she was waiting for him on the other side. Memories of Ilos flashed past, he picked up her photograph. "I'm coming back!"

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ILIUM: WAREHOUSE DISTRICT

Sahin was limping slightly as he surveyed the slave pens. An Alliance interceptor had chased his blockade runner, causing some slight damage to the hull, and nearly breaking his leg. But he had made it, just like he always did. And he had enough slaves to turn a very handsome profit over the next few months. 'All things taken into account,' he decided. 'I haven't fared too badly.'

The roar of engines overhead made him shake his head. When would the damn asari running this planet start enforcing stricter traffic laws. Then he heard a smash and his world erupted into blinding light. He reached for his pistol, but was knocked off his feet by light concussion round. When he could see again, he found himself surrounded by black suited figures, his men were either captured or dead and the slave pens were being opened. He saw a pair of boots come to a halt in front of him. He looked up into a very familiar face.

"Commander Sahin? I believe we've met before. The name's Williams, Ashley Williams."

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And now I will get to work on the sequel, titled 'Where Eagles Dare'. I will emphasize that it will be an action based storyline, not a fluff one. On a side note, is anyone else frustrated by the lack of good Garrus/Tali fics out there? Also, if you have ideas about what you'd like to see in the sequel, please send them to me.