"So...that Kasumi's pretty interesting." His sister was baiting him, so he ignored her as he concentrated on blocking her strikes. Someone had gotten lessons from Thane behind his back, clearly. She gracefully swept a leg in a circle to try to trip him and he leapt over it easily, kicking out with a leg at the apex of his jump. She swayed back, avoiding it neatly. "Don't think I didn't notice her sneaking out of your room this morning."

"I doubt you'd see her if she were actually sneaking." Garrus rolled his eyes, throwing a lazy jab at her ribs, which she deflected with her forearm. He breathed in sharply as her elbow connected with his side, "And it's not like that. We're just friends."

"Friends with...benefits?" She caught his knee strike in her palms, but reeled back when his elbow dropped onto her shoulder, giving a pained grunt.

"Maybe if you got your mind out of the gutter, you would have better luck blocking me." She flew at him in a flurry of kicks and punches and he let her work herself out, deflecting the power of her blows, allowing himself to predict the next series of attacks based on the pattern of her style.

"Ugh, I hate it when you do that." There was a frustrated snarl on her face as each subsequent blow failed to connect completely.

"Do what?" He said innocently, "Out-think you?"

She tried to chase his avoidance with her kicks, only succeeding in tiring herself out and she panted, "No fair. Let me hit you."

"Let you hit me? How is that fair to me?" Garrus laughed at her expression of disbelief and tossed her a towel, "I gotta go check on some things. Can you take Kasumi to the market? Thanks, bye."

Without waiting for a response, he walked into the house, hearing her grumbled protests. He knew in spite of them, she would enjoy being around Kasumi. The thief had a way of ingratiating herself to everyone around her. He could hear his father in the garden playing his corio and wanted to get an update on defense preparations and other things.

He sat next to the older turian and just breathed the fragrant air. The roses and jasmine he'd planted had taken over the flowerbeds all around the house, much to his chagrin and secret delight. Here, in this place, listening to music and smelling her scent was enough to feel closer to her. Spirits, he missed her so much. He picked up a second corio and joined in, playing harmony to his father's melody. It was a ambling tune, not complex, not urgent like the marches his father had played in his youth, but just existing, going wherever it willed. His father smiled as he put down the instrument, "When are your men due back?"

"Tomorrow, leave's ending a day early and I'm guessing you're about to tell me why." Garrus leaned on a tree, sighing.

"More colonies have gone dark. It's not Reapers, they don't think, but mobilizing what we have has been upgraded to the highest priority. Are they ready?"

Garrus thought about it for a bit, there might be some polishing that needed doing but overall the groundwork was laid. Everything else would come with experience, "Yes. I'm going, too."

His father shook his head, "They want you to stay here, train another cadre. They've already assembled the next platoons. There's no one else who can train them like you do."

"I need to be out there with them. You think we're the only ones preparing, changing? I need to see it for myself, to change the training to fit the situation." Garrus squelched the irritation he felt at the thought of these generals and leaders still trying to do things like they have for time immemorial. "I can be back in a month to train the next set. But for now, tell them that this is necessary if they want the best chance."

"The Primarch will be here tomorrow to oversee deployment, you can tell him yourself. What are we going to do with the idle soldiers?"

Curious, how everyone wanted answers from him now, like it was difficult to decide what to do with the units they'd commanded for years before he'd come along. This dependence on him would have to be remedied, as well, he could see. He started laying plans to get his lieutenants into key positions in the military, so there would be no head that could be struck off, no way for the enemy to cripple this strategy of his with one well aimed bullet, "Tell them I want Menae for a training ground. Get a barracks built and command pods dropped all over the thing. It'll be our last line of defense anyway, should the Reapers get that far."

His father gripped his arm tightly, "I'll pass the word. Be careful out there, son."

"I will, dad, I will."

He stared dismally out into the rain at a compound full of Cerberus agents. His hunch was right, but he didn't have to be happy about it. They'd supplanted the colony so they could train their soldiers here and he didn't like what he was seeing. It was something like what he was doing, mixed forces groups drilling endlessly in the fields surrounding the central building. His small 5-man insertion squad had marched for a day from the LZ to avoid detection. Their body heat was masked by the rain, but that was a double edged sword, because that meant that their own radar wasn't working either.

Seems the Illusive Man learned a thing or two from Shepard as well, except for the important stuff, like mercy. They'd already passed ditches with turian bodies piled in the bottom of them. Everyone, even the kids.

It was depressing to see her teachings perverted to make these super soldiers, a pale imitation of the gestalt she was able to create among disparate people with a hash of different skills. The longer he watched the more he wanted to wipe this place from existence and he turned to his squad with a savage grin. "See the back door over there? We're going to turn this bastard inside out. I'm willing to bet most of their troops are outside in the rain. A fortress is no good if your enemy is already inside it."

Three guards were at the aforementioned back door, the view of which from the training grounds was blocked by an outcropping of stone, perfect. He and the other sniper on his team screwed silencers onto their rifles and waited for their cloaked buddy to work his way over there before popping the flanking guards heads off, trusting the center one to be incapacitated shortly after. Garrus zoomed in to watch an omniblade burst from the Cerberus troop's chest, he slid to the ground silently. His soldier reappeared and waved them over. Stealthily, taking advantage of every piece of cover there was out here, Garrus and his squad made their way into the base. "We got maybe five minutes to secure this building. Go room by room, clean it out. Lock the doors behind you, triple encoded. We need time to get to the top."

It wasn't a very large compound and there was only support staff inside, who seemed utterly surprised to be shot by turian special forces. They were fast, methodical, precise. Just what he'd envisioned at the outset of this adventure. Garrus didn't hear the alarms go up until they were at the top of the compound, looking down at the hapless fools who'd left their fortress undefended. They started firing at the soldiers who'd rushed the doors, mowing them down with fury. Garrus squinted against the muzzle flash of his assault rifle, and swung it back and forth, catching any poor sod who dared approach the base. Whoever commanded those troops down there was doing a shit job, they kept throwing themselves at the locked doors, as if sheer numbers were going to do it. He laughed at the ridiculousness of it until a red beam of light blinded him and he dropped behind cover quickly, "Sniper!"

He pulled his Black Widow out and cautiously peered out there, thinking hard about the layout of the field down there, deduced that there was only one viable angle that a sniper down there could have cover and a good shot and smiled to himself as he swung to the right. Ah, there she was. A tiny figure down there with a big big gun. He took his time, adjusting for variables before centering the sight over a spot he was certain would soon contain that sniper's head. A second later and that masked head was square in his sights, a targeting laser shined in his scope and he squeezed the trigger almost lovingly. Time slowed as he watched his bullet travel the distance, saw the spray of blood as his target's head disappeared in a shower of gore. He felt something wet run down his cheek and reached up to find that the sniper had indeed fired and grazed him, "Son of a bitch."

"Door one is open." There were only a few Cerberus troops left, so he sent his men down to clean it out, sweeping the rainy field for more unpleasant surprises. This must have been a tiny installation, maybe one of the first. He wished it were the only, but he knew better, Cerberus liked multiple things, they had hundreds of cells all acting independently of one another. It only made sense that they'd make multiple training grounds as well. There were a lot of worlds out there.

He shook himself free of the thought for now and wandered through the facility, finding that some of the quarters had been repurposed for research, if all the microscopes and things were any indication. He picked up some schematics for a new rifle upgrade and passed it to his LT, who chuffed in surprise that he was looting, Garrus turned to the man and said, "Waste not."

A bleeping light on a monitor grabbed his attention and after running his omnitool over it to make sure the bastards hadn't done something clever like boobytrap their own facility, he shrugged and hit the button. He was utterly surprised when he came face to face with the Illusive Man, barely kept himself from taking a step back. The human's eerie cybernetic eyes tracked him from his side of the screen, "Ah, Vakarian, I see you've found one of my projects."

"This? Pathetic, Shepard would be appalled at how incompetently run this whole op is. Was. Sloppy." He bared his teeth at the image of the man, who looked back impassively.

"Baby steps, Vakarian. This is only the beginning and thanks to the input you've provided by attacking it so very masterfully, you can be assured that we will improve our methods." There was a faint smirk on that face now and Garrus really wanted to see it ripped off. It bothered the turian to no end that Cerberus would throw away its soldiers so callously just to get data on what the turians and more specifically, Garrus was doing.

Garrus smiled evilly into the screen, "Hmmm, I see that I'll have to improve my methods as well. Let's see who'll win, shall we?"

"It is a foregone conclusion who'll win, Garrus. I have resources and technology that far surpasses anything Shepard or you could ever bring to bear." The man took a deep drag off his cigar, then looked at him with what was clearly meant to be a friendly smile, but it was hollow, insincere, "We don't have to fight, Garrus. None of us need to fight with each other when there is so large a threat looming ever closer. I am learning means and ways to beat the Reapers when they come. Shepard must have had some idea all the good I could do for the galaxy when she gave me the Collector base."

Garrus crossed his arms and cocked his hip, glaring at the man, "See, that's where you're wrong. I thought long and hard about why Shepard didn't destroy the base when she had a chance and it wasn't because she wanted the technology used to stop the Reapers."

He leaned toward the screen, placing his hands on the console, "She did it to give you a second chance. For redemption."

He'd actually stunned the man, who always seemed so unshakable. The Illusive Man recovered quickly with a huff, "Fool idealists. There's no choice but to use it, mold it to our design, control it. It's the only way, the right way."

Garrus shook his head, "You are blind. I hope someday you see."

He cut off the transmission and turned to his LT, who looked at him with stunned amazement. "I guess we should have cut surveillance and comms first."

Garrus punched the man in the shoulder, companionably, "Baby steps indeed, ha. How are the other teams doing?"

"All targets neutralized. Four colonies reclaimed. No losses." That was incredible news, almost unbelievable if he hadn't seen for himself how very unprepared these facilities had been. He felt for the poor Cerberus soldiers here and elsewhere that had been sacrificed for spirits damned battlefield data. His LT was looking dourly at the empty screen and Garrus clapped him on the back.

"Spirits, Cicero, don't look so down. We live to fight another day, which is more than can be said for those poor deluded bastards downstairs." The rest of his team joined them as they walked down the stairs, "We'll take on anything the Illusive Man or the Reapers can throw at us and you know why? Because we're downright deadly."

They laughed around him and he bathed in the warmth of their companionship, even as his mind started revising strategies to come to include all these new players on his field. The next few days he worked his team over, making sure they stayed fluid, flexible, ready for anything and he racked his brain for ideas of what might be headed their way, from Cerberus anyway. If the Illusive Man stayed true to form, that meant that troop disposition would follow Shepard's model roughly, little bit of this, little bit of that, but judging from the amount of just basic troops they'd been training, each squad was going to be meat shield heavy.

His teams stayed to defend these colonies and he left, back to Palaven, where new recruits waited for him. He brought Cicero with him, though, as a protege. The turian had raw potential, and many ideas, good ones and Garrus meant for the man to replace him someday, be the first of many, Garrus hoped. He sent messages to the Heirarchy with suggestions on promotions from within his ranks.

It took another two months but Garrus had slowly phased himself out of the training. He still kept an eye on it to make sure it was going the right way, still participated in drills but he took secondary roles, and promoted men and women past him. Worthy soldiers, soldiers who saw and would continue the work. He'd taken over a small squad of men and women, just eight soldiers for himself. As much as he'd wanted to send him on, Garrus kept Cicero as his LT. The turian seemed honored to be his second in command, not resentful for being passed up for promotions. Garrus felt a little guilty about it, but someone had to run ops with his team when he was stuck in meetings with the higher-ups. They monopolized much of his time now. There was rarely a day went by when he wasn't in conferences with the top brass.

He had a feeling deep in his gut that things were about to come to a head, something was coming and he did his best to convey that to the Heirarchy. It was at a meeting of the Planetary Defense Committee that a thought occurred to him that made him bark a laugh, drawing every eye to him. He waved an apology to the General who was currently speaking and schooled his features to show only attentiveness, but inside he was chuckling. As he stood to take the podium, he looked at all these esteemed high ranking turians hanging on his every word. These men, who for all their seriousness and experience, had decided to listen to him, of all people. Not that they shouldn't, he knew what they faced. It just seemed suddenly hilarious that he'd never actually received a commission. He had no rank.

He coughed to cover his lapse and gestured to the holographic map before them, "I believe it'll be soon. The batarians are reporting massive attacks on the rim, entire clusters have gone silent. I propose we send heavy reinforcements here, here, and here."

He pointed to the clusters whose relays ran straight to Palaven, "With secondary reinforcement here and here. Put a token force on every habitable world past that, with traps and ordinance."

The generals murmured disagreement, one stood, Garrus thought his name might be Paulus, "You propose we don't defend our colonies at all?"

He dropped an icy gaze on the man, "The people are the colony. Evacuate them, they can always move back. We have to make the Reapers think that it's worth committing forces to subjugate those worlds, which is why we're going to place token forces there. Think of it as an early warning system. The more time and resources they spend chasing down small platoons on those worlds, the fewer will head directly here."

He swept his hand over the map, "They will come like devouring insects, taking everything in their path. Going toe to toe with them will only end in our destruction. So we must be clever and quick. I'm hesitant to go so far as to say lay planetkillers on some of those worlds, but it may be an option worth looking into. My companies are best suited to this guerrilla warfare, but I won't drop them on those planets without hope of getting off, they'll need a shuttle apiece with small fueling depots if they need to run. This isn't about sacrificing people, gentlemen, it's about sacrificing territory and I can live with that, can you?"

"You make it sound almost hopeless. That we can't stop them from reaching Palaven."

"It's been five months since I started this endeavor, and it hasn't been for nothing. We will slow them down, but without the combined forces of the galaxy, we cannot hope to succeed against the Reapers. Tell me, have you had any luck negotiating a joint military effort with the other races? I know you've been trying." The uncomfortable silence was his answer, "Palaven, as much as I love this world, the world that gave birth to our people, it's just territory. The turian people are Palaven, the whole of it, the very soul of it and we can always move back. So let's get off our asses, gentlemen and get it squared away. Plan for evacuation, get every grounded ship recommissioned and spaceworthy. The fleet can guard their retreat. And my boys will have your back."

"But where would we go? Is there no hope at all?" They clamored around him and he held his hand up. The Primarch stood and Garrus gave him the floor, standing back so the turian could stand at the podium. He took a place at the Primarch's right hand, symbolically lending him strength with his conviction.

Primarch Fedorian looked over the assemblage, "The other races will come to know our need and their own. Have faith that they will join us when the time is right. Just hope."

Quietly, Garrus said, "It is enough."

He dreamt of her. She was fighting, how he loved to watch her fight. There were bodies all around her and though he couldn't hear it, she was laughing. He saw it in the set of her shoulders, how they shook with mirth. Her limbs glowed with sweat as she swept her shotgun forward and back, taking out her adversaries with precise surgical blasts. He realized with a shock that she wasn't wearing armor, just a sort of loose white tunic that draped to mid thigh. Blood streaked her body from head to toe, but none of it was hers. Her omniblade glowed white hot as she speared the last standing foe and she threw her head back and screamed mute joy into the sky.

And suddenly, he was looking down at her sleeping form. She tossed fitfully and he sat next to her. This was the most realized dream he'd ever dreamed of her. He could almost feel the bed weigh down with his mass, could feel the texture of the fabric which wrapped her body. Garrus looked over and saw a spray of flowers in a vase next to her bed. Her thrashing became more and more violent and he reached out a hand and soothed her brow and she stilled instantly. Her sweat beaded on his palm, and he marveled at the way it clung to him realistically. He ran his talons through her hair, short like the last time he'd seen her and felt its silken softness like a caress on his callouses. He leaned over her and whispered in her ear, 'Jane...'

'Garrus.' Her eyes opened, but she didn't see him. Reached for him, but he receded from her. A rumbling blast of sound shook the air around him, something huge and terrible was turning its regard upon him. It was pulling them apart. He fought to go to her, but to no avail. With an almost audible snap, he dropped into his sleeping body.

And woke, his heart pounding in his chest. Kasumi sat on the edge of his bed, looking down at him curiously, "Morning."

Garrus fought to control his breathing, fear gripping him stubbornly. He turned to her and barely managed with a gasp, "I need you to do something for me."

His serious tone instantly sobered the normally flighty thief, "What do you need me to do?"

"Pass the word to the Citadel and Liara, it's going to be today, or tomorrow. Make sure the Alliance knows." He threw on his shirt, yanking his pants up over his hips, ignoring Kasumi's whistle of appreciation, "The hell are you still doing here?! Go! Go!"

Kasumi ran out the door and he yelled out to her, "Docking bay 5!"

He sent off as many messages as he could while he strapped on his armor. Solana burst in on him, "Is it time?"

"Almost. A day, maybe today. Scramble the defense network." He grabbed his guns and his ammo and ran for the spare car, then cursed and ran back into the house, snagging his carryall and running back, passing Solana, who was pulling out of the garage with Kasumi in the passenger seat. "Sol, you and dad get to a shelter when you can. And when the ships start leaving, you better make sure you and dad are on one of them."

She tossed him a salute and he leapt into the other car, pulling away from the house rapidly. He watched it grow smaller in the distance, wondering if he'd ever see it again, but shook his head, his family was what mattered, not a building made of stone and wood. And Solana would watch over his father, she'd been a capable pupil when her platoon had come under his tutelage, she wouldn't let him down, they would be safe.

The shuttle became packed with soldiers quickly, most would be deposited on Menae, some would head out farther, to defend the colonies. Garrus got into his seat just as the shuttle took off, nodding to the soldiers who saluted him, their faces full of respect. He resisted the urge to duck his head. Across from him, a turian in red armor with white stripes on his face nodded, "Vakarian."

"General Victus. Fancy meeting you here." Garrus saluted the general, who waved it off.

"I'm told you're the one who roused us all out of bed at the crack of dawn. I'd be tempted to tell you off right now if I hadn't already heard that the outposts at the rim had gone dark." The general made an amused rumble in his throat and Garrus smiled. "I'm told we're heading to your staging area."

"It'll be yours once we land. My men and I are at your disposal. Fourth stage defense will swing into action at the first sign of Reapers in our system." Garrus felt an anticipation that made his palms sweat. It was time to see if all his planning had been for naught. He had high hopes that the full invasion could be delayed indefinitely, that they could hold Palaven long enough to evacuate much of the populace, the fleets could hold off a few dozen Reapers he was sure.

"Men, I want everyone mustered as soon as we land." Victus opened his comm channel so that every shuttle could hear him, "All units assemble at staging area alpha. Spirits keep you all."

The shuttle landed and Garrus hopped out, running to the staging area, spotting his troupe ahead of him. He embraced his LT, who pounded him on the back, "Cicero! Didn't miss the party, after all. Time to muster. Let's go pretend to be good soldiers."

He led his troops to their assigned place, standing at attention as the army fell in around him. The AA guns that dotted the moonscape around them roamed the sky, looking for targets. General Victus stood on a dais before them, with a map outlining where their best defenses should be. Garrus saw with relief that the general's strategies were sound and surprisingly creative, so he was content to watch the man as he spoke. He was pacing back and forth like he was just as eager as they to get into the fray, which he might be. Garrus had heard that the man was a force to be reckoned with on the field, favoring the assault rifle. His men loved him, as was evident in their expressions. And Garrus was startled to see a certain paternal fondness wash over the general's features as he gazed back.

When the general dismissed them, they scrambled for their assigned posts. Garrus' team was on sentry duty. They would go from post to post and make sure things were going smoothly. They were an auxiliary special force, padding where needed. And his little squad weren't the only 'specials' out here. Every outfit had at least one squad of Vagabonds with them, rotating in shifts. This was integral to his strategy, communication could not be allowed to break down between posts.

Garrus remembered the first time he spotted a marauder he'd almost vomited on the soldier next to him. A turian silhouette remade into a machine, a gross imitation of life. The nausea was quickly replaced with rage, wrathful and consuming. Every time he saw one, he made it his priority to kill it. Had to be a mercy to put the poor soul down. He passed the word to his men that while the main forces could focus on husks and cannibals, his people shot marauders. Shot them dead. He knew now the horror humans must have felt on first seeing husks.

A soldier was yelling something at him from his right and he shook the ringing of mortar blasts from his head and shouted, "What?!"

"Earth's just been hit! It's gone dark!" The turian turned away from Garrus and he was glad, for his bones suddenly felt like jelly. He slumped against the wall of the trench they'd dug for this post and made a quiet whimper no one could hear over the tumult. A medic patted his chest to see if he was okay and Garrus waved her off.

Surely, not. Shepard must have gotten out, where were their fleets, they must have had some kind of evac plan. Garrus knew there was a good chance that there was no evac plan. As compelling as Shepard had always been, she'd never had much luck convincing the people in charge that there was a threat heading their way. Her own government didn't believe her half the time, he had to hope that the faith he'd seen in Admiral Hackett's and Anderson's eyes remained strong and true. He rubbed his wristlet, pulling it out of his glove so he could see it, trying to calm the storm of anguish that washed over him. She was okay, she had to be okay.

Cicero patted his shoulder and looked away from Garrus' moment of weakness, for which he was grateful. Garrus fought the sudden urge to steal a shuttle and fly out to that blue planet where Shepard was. He sighed and looked up at Palaven, with that angry red fire dancing across it's surface. If Earth looked anything like Palaven, spirits have mercy on them all. Garrus pulled the wristlet to his face and breathed deep, trying to catch the tiniest hint of her scent on it, but it had long faded. He pulled himself together and popped a fresh heatsink into his rifle. He would do the job in front of him until he could do no more. He left the wristlet out to gleam on his wrist, its fire pushing him harder, making him angry and vengeful.

And if Shepard hadn't made it out okay, well, when this was over, he was going to visit every bureaucrat and politician on Earth and teach them what folly they'd committed in not keeping her safe. If there were any left anyway.

Three days later and the fighting was unrelenting. The fleets were holding, the AA guns drew the attention of many Reapers before they could land on Palaven, but not a single one had been destroyed, only fought to a standstill. Innumerable Reaper minions lay rotting on Menae's soil, but there seemed no end to them. Garrus' strategy was working out in the colonies, they still received fairly regular reports on Reaper movements. Only a couple dozen Reapers had made it to Palaven, but that dozen had killed scores of their troops and razed cities and they were fast taxing the defenders' resources. Thousands of turians were evacuated daily, sent to satellite colonies or the Citadel or just packed onto those ships up there.

There was a short break in the waves of enemies assaulting this post and Garrus lit a cigarette with a sigh. A shadow passed over him and he looked up as Victus plopped down next to him. Garrus took a deep drag and coughed, spitting off to one side. The general watched him curiously as he smoked. Finally, Victus spoke up, "Vakarian, it seems I owe you an apology."

"For what, sir?" Garrus looked at the man, his face closed and without expression. He watched Victus' eyes focus sharply on his wrist and suppressed the urge to hide that cord of red hair. He didn't give a damn any more. It was out and it was staying out until he saw her again.

"I was a very vocal...opponent to your plan, even called in a few favors to get an oversight committee involved." The general couldn't seem to pull his gaze away from Garrus' wrist and unable to help himself, Garrus watched the turian's eyes follow it as he brought his cigarette up to his mouth with amusement, the general continued, "I apologize, you were right. And if not for you, we would have been obliterated at the outset. Those things-"

He gestured vaguely towards the burning planet above them, "-they are unlike anything I've ever fought before. They don't stop, they don't rest. The last count from the outposts had the Reapers numbering in the hundreds, there are only two dozen here. Imagine if they had all come."

Garrus studied the older turian, a slow smile spreading across his face, "I...appreciate you telling me this, general. For morale's sake, I wouldn't mention the exact numbers to anyone else though. Might make this seem like a lost cause."

That got a laugh from Victus, who chuffed into the morning air and leaned over his maps, trying to find more options. Garrus knew how he felt, but he'd already worked the math in his head. Without help, they had less than four weeks, with help, well that was a different story. His Vagabonds could only do so much out there, he'd already had them drop back once, en masse, to a closer ring of planets.

One of his Vagabonds ran up to the command pod, panting, whipping off a salute. Garrus recognized the turian as one from a unit patrolling to the west. Victus waved for the man to spit it out, "General Victus, there's a flank breaking out east and the whole comm relay is down. General Corinthus is asking for assistance."

"I'll handle the flank, if Vakarian here will-."

The general looked at Garrus, who nodded, "Comm relay. I'm on it. Try not to have too much fun out here without us, sir."

"You have a twisted sense of what's fun, soldier." Victus laughed.

Garrus waved back over his shoulder, "Yeah, maybe, but at least I know how to have fun stylishly."

His team ran over the rocky ground, eating the distance to Corinthus' camp to the west. It was quite far and they ran into heavy resistance. It was close to late afternoon by the time they carved a path through the Reaper forces. Within sight of the base now, his comms kicked in, sputtering and coughing. Voices chattered on the open frequency and Garrus was wondering who the hell would be breaking radio silence out here when his heart skipped a beat. That voice, distinct, resonated across his nerves, he signaled his team to take cover while he listened closely, "...is now operational."

Corinthus' voice cut in and out as he replied, "Much...-iated, commander...I'll...-tact Pala-...and."

Leave it to Shepard to show up and start fixing things. He grinned madly, heart hammering in his chest. Her response was garbled and he let out a shout, which drew his team's attention, "Make a hole. We're going in there now."

Ferociously, they hacked through the horde of husks clamoring at the post's walls. It took a bit of time, but soon all of his people were through. He left them to reprovision as he sought out Corinthus. He saw her first, before she saw him. Her back was straight and true, shoulders set stubbornly, looking almost tiny in the heavy armor she was wearing, her red hair flying around her face like fire. As he got closer, he heard Corinthus speaking, "...right now, the Heirarchy's in chaos-so many dead or MIA."

Shepard leaned toward the general, her lips set in a grim line, "I need someone, I don't care who, as long as they can get us the turian resources we need."

Garrus swallowed the lump in his throat, that was his Shepard, kicking their asses in line. His knees felt weak at being this close to her again. He took a deep breath and walked up the short ramp that led to the circle of her regard, he spoke making his voice strong despite the sudden dryness in his mouth, "I'm on it, Shepard. We'll find you the Primarch."

Her face was still, but her eyes burned with joy at the sight of him, and it warmed him all the way down into his feet. It had been all worth it, every second of waiting, just to see her look at him like that. He laughed in his mind at the thought of telling her everything that happened since they'd parted six months ago and from the twitch in her lips, she had things to tell him, too.