Disclaimer: I do not own nor am I affiliated in any way, shape, or form with Mass Effect, Bioware, EA, or Microsoft. This is rated for maturity, which is a purposely vague term, but not nearly as vague as "graphic depictions".

This wasn't how this was supposed to go down.

Garrus was supposed to meet with Sidonis to disrupt the supply chain some slave runners were keeping not far outside the apartments. He had been trying to pinpoint their main drop-and-pickups for weeks and scouring for details to work on when Sidonis came to him with a tip said came from a couple days of roving in the alleys by the VIP lounge. That the usual point had to be changed due to the outbreak of disease recently in one quadrent, being why it was getting so hard to find. He stayed out gathering information until he could make a reasonable guess as to where and when they should come and intercept.

That's, at least, what Sidonis said he was doing for those days he was missing.

Face it, Vakarian, Garrus thought bitterly with a voice that sounded suspiciously like Pallin's, You're being too damn naïve. You put yourself and possibly your partners at risk for your negligence. Maybe that was actually something Pallin said to him two or three years ago, and it didn't sink in then. He would kick himself soundly in the ass for this later. Right now, his legs were burning with the exertion, his chest ached, and he felt like he hadn't washed in days even as his morning shower couldn't have been more than five hours ago.

Garrus found himself in an ambush, and that took some thinking on his feet and a lot of luck just to get himself out of that predicament. He hasn't had much chance to stop and breathe since it happened, but he still tried to open a link to his team, and only got white noise for his efforts. The wireless signal he used was being jammed, which spoke of more tinkering than just even knowing where Archangel was going to appear. They knew what to block, and if they knew that, there's no telling what else they know about his team.

Spirits, he had to get to them. He gained yardage quickly, but not as quickly as he would have liked, and he could feel the three merc groups (All three! What the hell?) closing in on his heels as he moved. When he got there, they'd have a hell of a time fighting their way back out, again. If they're even still alive. But, damnit, he couldn't run. There was no way he could turn their back on them, not when there was a chance.

He dodged into a storage unit that was almost certainly appropriated by pirates since it was nicer and looked made for a ship that most certainly hadn't been docked at Omega any time recently. This didn't really come to him until he entered it, and was immediately struck with the dichotomy of fresh, expensive equipment spattered with dried brown-red blood and bullet holes. Streaks marked the floor from where bodies had to have been dragged out, but otherwise it looked like whoever had obtained this storage hadn't had the chance to look through it.

This might just give him a bit of a lucky advantage; there looked to be unopened (and likely well-stocked) weapon lockers and various medical equipment. It would only be too bad he couldn't carry as much as he could find, since he didn't need to be weighed down and, as nice as it would be to have all of this for later operations, they'd be useless if he didn't get there until after his men were dead.

He allowed himself a moment to wind down from battle as he pulled away tarps and rooted though crates. Mostly supplies for the ship cargo this was meant for, obviously. Things that would find much use in the markets, though of very little use to someone who still had a long and hostile distance to cross alone. He found a small stock of dextro-amino protein bars and tore into one with his teeth, spitting out the wrapper without a thought as he continued searching.

The blood eventually stopped roaring in his ears and he could hear the silence of the room… that wasn't that silent, come to think. There was a quiet whine of something running in this room, and it didn't sound like the auxiliary lights at the top of the unit. No, this was coming from the back wall, from something large and oblong under a large piece of heavy canvas. His mandibles pressed tight against his face and he didn't even think about it when he moved over to it and wrenched the thick cloth away.

An occupied cryogenic pod. Some poor bastard was being transported with the cargo when it was taken, and would probably be sold into slavery as soon as the thieves came in to do inventory. Garrus worked the controls to open it before even thinking that the occupant might not have been sterilized, or might not even be in any condition to get out of the pod, let alone possibly run through the battlefield outside.

The clean smell of cryo blasted into his helmet's air passageways as cold, white steam. The feeling of it stabbed him right down into his heart when it cleared from his eyes.

Wilson smiled as best as he could manage at Miranda, though it was absolutely apparent to the both of them that he was fed up with her. They grated each other on every nerve and, damnit, he'd just be as happy to have this whole thing over with as he would anything. And, hell, it'd all be worth it just to know that her cool demeanor will soon devolve into hot and writhing anger and hate.

Oh, yes, revenge would be very sweet.

"Look, I agree with you that we should bring Commander Shepard to a more comfortable atmosphere than the facility when waking her up. Absolutely. But bringing the Normandy here and putting her straight on it?" he said, taking care to keep his voice amicable.

Miranda seemed less than pleased. "The less time we spend on bringing her back to full working capacity, the better. We can't afford any time when human colonies are showing such an increase in disappearances. We need Shepard now."

"But we can't just assume everything will fall into place. You know as well as I do that she may have experienced psychological trauma from her death. She needs to be eased into the idea of being given a second change, into the idea of saving the galaxy again. I think it would be best to at least wake her up in a sedentary environment, to make the transition easier and to be able to determine any problems with her memory or psyche before we have her on deck." He smiled and added, "I think the Illusive Man would agree with me."

"He might. He has had a few preferences about this operation I haven't agreed with." Miranda pursed her lips. "If I agree to this, we at least bring her to the base we have the Normandy docked. There are rooms there, and I will not have any more time wasted."

"Of course. I'll go ahead and prep a shuttle over. There are some extra supplies in cargo we need to bring over, anyway. You can start out before me and get things prepared for when we get there. Make sure that everything is quick and smooth. Does that sound good to you?"

"I guess that's acceptable." She crossed her arms and shifted her weight to another foot. "I can make sure personally about the situation we'll wake her up in and get a psychologist and a medical officer ready. It won't take more than a few hours once I get there, so I expect you to act quickly to take advantage of that."

He nodded submissively, inwardly biting back on the urge to tell her not to worry her pretty little head. Which, of course, she should worry, because this just made his job so much easier. He already felt bad that he'll miss when that pretty little head of hers flew off with rage.

And fly off with rage it did. He could hear it over the voice comm of the ship when it became apparent that he wasn't on course like he was supposed to be, and he cut the signal as to not let her see where he was going from there. Ah, well, the space around Omega wasn't exactly hospitable, but it was as good a drop as any. A ship not handing out identification while making drops and exchanges was nothing unusual there.

The Shadow Broker would be more than pleased, and Wilson would be more than rich. That scenario worked out for him just fine.

He got to the rendezvous as agreed and exchanged the proper codes with the corvette he found there. The link-up was usually difficult between two small ships such as these, but there are many corvettes in the Terminus Systems outfitted for pirating. They latched on right on one side of the portable unit and he met them in person there. This would be more than a pick-up; Wilson was to go with them, leaving the shuttle and the rest of it's cargo to drift in space. By the time Cerberus would pick up that piece, it would be too late to track them down.

However, no sooner had he and the asari agent exchanged greetings and a handshake did they feel an impact. The agent immediately knelt her head into her ear-piece and demanded details, but whether or not she got an answer was irrelevant. The people who knocked already let themselves in with flash-cut of hot laser on the side of the hold.

A formation of space-equipped batarians came in, the leader already removing his helmet as the others swung their barrels over the scene.

"Who the hell are you?" The asari agent started glowing with biotics, but it was obvious by the number of sights trained on her that it wasn't going to do any good.

Wilson felt his heart die in dread at the certainty of death in front of him. "They aren't Cerberus."

The batarian smiled.


Garrus felt the pistol he had been switching from hand to hand during his search slip from his grasp and clatter (thankfully) harmlessly on the steel and aluminum floor. He leaned forward over her and placed a hand on her face, trying to determine if what he was seeing was real.

A million things ran through his head at once. Wasn't she dead? Her corpse was never found, but could this be her body? Her face was smooth from scars or wrinkles, let alone anything that would speak of death by space exposure or planet reentry. Was it found and prepared? Was this someone who changed their face to look like hers? Was this a clone? Was this a synthetic body?

...Was this person alive? He ran a finger down to find where he knew a human's pulse could be found to determine it. Yes, it was there and getting stronger. Her skin was warming up under his touch. He could even see her breathing gradually become less and less shallow.

His hand went under her neck and he tried to jostle her awake, but she wouldn't respond. He cursed, called out her name (assuming it was the right one), and even slapped her face around, but all he got was a three-fingered-hand-shape bloom red on her cheeks for the effort. This was, of course, the perfect time for the door behind him to slide open.

He rolled into cover just in time to avoid a bullet in his head, and a couple human Eclipse shuffled in with their guns out. His assault rifle was in his hands and shooting by reflex, and that saw one or two fall, but another tried to round the corner to him. Garrus hunched back and got in position to do an upward spray as soon as his ugly human mug got into view.

The merc did come, but instead of a face, he saw a small, red explosion. The body fell with a sickening thud, and there was the Shepard look-alike, the hand holding the pistol he'd drop still extended in his direction as she hooked a leg over her glass coffin.

"I'm just assuming that he was the one I had to shoot first from the bullet that lodged in the lid of the pod I woke up in," she said in a familiar voice that sent tremors down through his armor, "but that doesn't mean you're in the clear."

Garrus carefully placed his rifle on the floor and slowly rose, hands up where they could be seen. "I'm not here to harm you. I was trying to wake you up." He took a breath, trying to calm the nerves that were making his voice shake in the lower harmonics. "This place is dangerous."

The pistol lowered and her brows drew in and down. She looked for a moment about to say something, but instead drew nearer, looking intently at his helmet as if to determine something. "...Garrus?"

He gasped and just stopped short of throwing his arms around her, instead landing his hands on her shoulders and squeezing. He wasn't being fooled by the scent wafting into his helmet or by her appearance. This... this was Shepard, and, for the moment, it didn't matter how or why. All that mattered was that she was here, and that meant that everything was going to be okay. "I... we can talk later, and I'm sure we both have questions we want to ask. But for now we need to get out of here and back to base. I know the quickest route, and though it won't be safe, I think the two of us shouldn't have any problems."

She gave a nod and looked down at the body on the floor, pushing it over with a foot to its back. "So, we'll be spilling merc blood between here and there. You sure know how to show a girl a good time when she just wakes up."

"I try my best, Shepard."