Chapter 1

The End is the Beginning

"Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
I have fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star."

Through a Glass, Darkly
General George S Patton, Jnr.

The first noise that filtered through to her hazy brain was a strange rattling hum.

It called out to her mind to recollect, to remember all that had happened.

Memories drifted back slowly, carried by other noises that infiltrated her semi-conscious state.

Her heartbeat brought such sad goodbyes to her crew and her lover; strange murmuring voices in the distance brought with them the memories of the strange AI child; a sudden burst of laughter nearby brought Garrus to her weary mind once more; before finally the distant sound of gunfire gave to her the last pieces of the puzzle that was her memory.

It also finally woke her.

Shepard had destroyed them... all of them. At least she hoped she had.

Jane grumbled a little as her brain finally emerged from its stupor.

Her eyes however refused to open despite her repeated attempts but she was too tired to register why.

Instead, Jane moved one of her hands in a slow journey of discovery of her surroundings - finding a plate here; a cup there; and lots of plastic covered items she figured from the rustling and strange textures.

The hand's journey was arrested suddenly by another and significantly larger hand grabbing hers.

Shepard nearly screamed as fear and adrenalin pumped through her body in a torrent that broke the hold exhaustion held on her mind and dragged her fully awake.

"Calm yourself," a deep flanged voice spoke to her softly through the darkness. "You're safe here. We mean you no harm. You've been heavily injured but you're getting better."

Jane tried to place the voice but found it unrecognizable.

As she tried to speak, her throat clammed up due to how dry it had become and she struggled to make any noise at all.

That's when it hit her.

Pain. Unbelievable pain in waves.

Her companion hummed at what must have been some very strange faces she was pulling before he adjusted what sounded like a machine.

She could hear the faint electronic beeps as the pain that had assaulted her drifted away almost as rapidly as it had arrived.

Once she had calmed, Shepard's companion spoke up. "Here. Let me help you. Perhaps you would be more at ease with your sight restored and after a drink of water".

Pressure that she hadn't even noticed on her head was removed and finally allowed her eyes to flutter open.

She blinked rapidly as her sight adjusted to the sudden light - even though it was quite low in the room to begin with.

Jane panted a little as she took in her surroundings.

She wasn't on the Citadel or the Normandy. Shepard wasn't even on the Crucible.

Where the hell was she?

Her eyes scanned her surroundings rapidly with her mind, although tired, assessing the information as it was trained to do.

Shepard was in a large room, substantial in size.

She didn't doubt that it could hold even the Normandy within itself and still have room to spare.

It was in quite a state of disrepair but was actively being worked on with scaffolding holding up sections as workers welded and repaired all they could.

The place had been sectioned up for different uses with shadowy figures hard at work to the far right of where she lay either training (at least what she could surmise from the fighting) and weapon maintenance.

Another section to her left housed several stockpiles of supplies and what looked like a meeting area with a large table.

A lone dark figure stood beside it and stared down at what was there while deep in thought it seemed.

Finally her eyes came to rest on the owner of the deep rumbling voice who had stayed her wandering hand and taken away the pain from her injuries.

To Jane's mild surprise, he was turian.

Or at least he looked turian.

In fact if Shepard hadn't heard his voice she would have sworn he was Garrus with his slate grey plates.

His eyes were different and it threw her a little.

She had never seen a turian whose eyes had even the slightest tinge of white around the iris itself. But his pair of deep and piercing blue did.

When her brain finally kicked in, Shepard realized why this was so. His eyes were actually slightly oval shaped with the visible sclera tinting the sides.

Shepard quickly picked up another little thing that set his face apart. His nose plates were crooked and flattened in an spot just below his brow plates.

Jane quickly surmised that he must have broken it more then once.

Her companion himself seemed quite amused by her silent appraisal of his form.

"Should I stand so you can take a better look?" he chuckled once Jane twigged he knew what she was doing and had stopped staring at his face.

He heaved himself off his crouched position on the floor beside where she lay and stood up in front of her.

The turian theatrically twirled around allowing her to fully inspect him.

He stood tall, - very very tall - being at least 7 foot if not more.

As the turian wore only under-armor, his body underneath it was easy to discern.

The cowl was not very big, at least for a turian. She couldn't decide if was a trick of the light but it even seemed like his plating was arranged differently then an average turian too - or at least Garrus's.

His waist was most definitely a lot wider. Not fat but bulkier as though he had more muscle.

Overall he seemed almost thicker in body structure then any turian she had ever met.

Shepard glanced further down.

His legs and arms seemed typically turian until she reached the feet.

Shepard gave a muttered curse as she decided she was definitely hallucinating.

He had four toes on each bare foot and, as he turned, she saw on the raised heels was another smaller clawed toe pointing down.

His hands, although gloved, seemed to have the regulation three fingers for turian anatomy.

Jane' brain sought an answer and decided that maybe he was just a abnormality. Humans tended to have enough of those too.

Seemly satisfied that she had finished her appraisal, her companion again crouched on his haunches beside her.

Jane watched with fascination as his four toes splayed out dramatically to give him greater balance.

"You know you could just ask me what you want to know."

His deep and almost lazy voice drifted into her reverie and snapped her attention back to his face.

Shepard croaked out, "Forgive me. I'm just a little... confused. I have no idea where the hell I am. Who are you?"

Her throat was still so dry that her voice was cracking as she spoke.

"Here. Let me help you drink this first."

The turian gently slipped his hand behind her head and cradled it as he tilted her effortlessly up.

He reached for a nearby cup filled with what looked happily like water and held it to her mouth.

As she gulped down the cool liquid, the turian spoke so softly that she almost missed it. "My name is Gaius. You've no idea how good it is to meet you."

Once finished, he carefully laid her back down before adjusting something just out of her line of sight.

"I know it's a lot to ask you to trust me just yet. Hell, I'm impressed you haven't freaked out," he murmured.

"You haven't given me reason to yet," Shepard answered wearily. "Also... I'm kind of incapacitated right now. Fighting my way out isn't really an option."

That earned her a chuckle that reverberated from deep within Gaius's chest.

"I suppose you're right. I guess I just thought- heh. I don't know what I thought really."

The turian raised his hand to skim lightly over his head and fringe.

"This is not how I thought I would met you a-" he started to say before suddenly stopping mid sentence.

He rubbed his right mandible and then returned to the object out of sight.

"I'm afraid I need you to sleep some more. Not too much longer. Three days tops. By the time you wake next, you should be feeling a lot better. Perhaps even enough to take a walk around."

Gaius stared at her with those deep blue eyes that Jane couldn't stop gazing into.

Sargasso eyes her mother would have called them. Eyes like the wide and wonderful Sargasso sea back on Earth.

"Earth..." she breathed out as the name dragged her back to the war and all that she remembered. "Earth! What happened? I gotta-"

Gentle but firm hands pushed her back down when she had in a panic struggled to lift herself.

"Calm down. They're fine. It's all fine. You need to sleep."

She heard again the beeping noise as a wave of tiredness overwhelmed her. Her eyelids started become too heavy to hold up. "... no... I... Earth... my friends... Garr..."

Sleep claimed her and she drifted away into darkness.

Gaius sat quietly beside her and watched the steady rhythm of her breathing.

Once certain she was fast asleep, Gaius stood carefully before he moved the blanket to cover her injured body better.

He drifted his mandibles over her face and inhaled the scent from her hair before stroking a stray red lock away from her eyes.

Gaius left her to her dreams.

His next destination was not far. It was a table covered in old star maps with handwritten notes and comments covering it as raw data was still coming in from the field on the current state of the galaxy.

"How is she?"

Gaius turned to a turian quite like himself but with darker coloring and burning yellow eyes.

"She's okay, Tiberius. I think she'll need a few more days before the nanites have her able to move around."

Tiberius nodded cheerily. "Well that's another thing going right for our side then. I was almost beginning to believe that this suicide mission was actually going to go badly for us."

Gaius let out a bark of laughter. "I think the fact that it's still certain death rules it as going badly for us, Tib."

His companion merely shrugged his shoulders. "But we've already won, brother! We've won and they don't know it yet."

Tiberius leaned back against a low table set behind him and smirked. "And I can't wait to see their faces when we show up and they realize it."

"I fail to see what you do, Tiberius."

Another voice boomed to break the easy silence that had descended.

"Sidonis," Gaius nodded at the old turian who had appeared.

Age had left its mark on him but Lantar Sidonis still retained his ability to make them feel like disobedient school boys.

"You know exactly what I meant, Lantar," Tiberius muttered.

Sidonis let out a long suffering sigh. "Nothing is ever definite. We need to all be vigilant, now more then ever. We need more then just this stroke of luck to change the galaxy."

He turned to Gaius. "The Commander?"

"Fine. Well, not exactly fine but getting there. I've followed the medic's earlier advice and put her out for another three days. I'm hoping the nanites will at least get her to a more stable and pain free state in that time."

Sidonis nodded. "Good. We could use her help in gaining what we require."

Sidonis turned to leave but stopped short as a thought struck him.

"I should inform you both that we located the Normandy. It got knocked to Eden Prime. Ironic that it should end up where this all really started for the Commander. Once we have our own repairs completed, we shall be assigning a squad to... ah... help, I suppose," he said over his shoulder.

Gaius snorted and folded his arms across his chest.

"I take it that you will not be volunteering then, Gaius?"

"You knew what my answer would be long before you asked that question."

"Is there is no curiosity in you at all to know the man before everything that happened?"

Gaius bared his teeth and splayed his mandibles wide. "I know all I need to know about him. About them all in fact. Send Tiberius! He's the talker. I'm sure he'll find a way to fit right in."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence there, buddy," Tiberius chuckled.

Sidonis merely waved his hand in acknowledgement before taking his leave.

Gaius snorted.

"Can you believe that, Tib? Like I didn't have enough to be working on then to go and do hand holding!"

Tiberius merely tilted his head and looked at Gaius with an unreadable expression on his face.

"Are you scared, Gaius?"

Gaius held his breath before he turned slowly to level a stare at Tiberius.

"What did you just say? I'm hoping that's just a bad joke from you."

"No, I'm being serious."

"And what, pray you, am I supposed to be afraid of?"

Tiberius lifted away from the low table and, as he wandered off in the direction of the sparring ring, answered, "Maybe that it's not all as you have believed it to be for so long?"

Gaius answered with a snarl. "Not bloody likely. Not when he even confirmed the truth of it to my face."

He turned and looked towards the sleeping human.

"Of the two of us, Tib, I'm the one with the least to fear."