Mass Effect: Each Story Has A Million Tales.

Summary: "There is always more than just one side to a story- and more than one lesson to learn. Follow Garrus Vakarian as he stands by a promise that he means to keep, contemplates the true meaning of life, death, and the ultimate sacrifice, and as he confronts someone who should have been behind him all along. Follow Adelais Vakarian as he mends a broken bond, and as he comes to terms with a terrible loss of his own. Follow Kolyat Krios as he navigates through a very dangerous place, only to find another- under the guidance of someone who may or may not be there at all. And follow Commander Joleen Shepard as she goes through her past and present, only to find herself in the middle of a battle for her future." (Garrus' Story: 'The Promise-Keeper.' Adelais' Story: 'The Old Soldier.' Kolyat's Story: 'The Wanderer.' Shepard's Story: 'The Missing.')

Warning: "This is a heavy one- some swearing, angst, implied adult situations, adult situations, a few character deaths, violence, and blood. All the big ones this time. Remember, this is my Shepard, my feelings on the game and what should have happened and will happen, with my own opinions and storyline, so no nasty comments. Got it? Good." (Commander Joleen Shepard: War Hero, Earthborn. Soldier. Paragon. Romanced Kaidan Alenko in the 1st game, Garrus Vakarian in the 2nd and 3rd. Shot and killed Udina during the Citadel Coup.)

Disclaimer: "I do not own Mass Effect. Don't make me say it again."

Author's Note: "Just so you know, the name 'Adelais,' is Latin for 'Noble.' Also, the name 'Carissa' means 'the most beloved one.' I just thought the names fit their purposes."


Chapter One: The Promise-Keeper I.

So it wasn't peace.

At least, not the kind he had hoped for.

Not by a long shot, Garrus Vakarian thought mildly, staring up at the dark-colored, rather miserable-looking vehicles hovering high above him in rapid, single-file lines.

He stood motionlessly at the top of the Presidium, the place where he and Joleen Shepard had once climbed to during their "date"- it had only been a few months since then, maybe eight tops, but...

It felt like a lifetime ago.

Garrus sighed and looked down at the crystal-clear water below.

Six months had already passed since the end of the Reaper War.

And a lot had changed.

For starters, the Citadel was completely up and running again- which would have been pretty damn suspicious if anyone put some real thought into it.

But no one really seemed to care.

The Citadel had closed up soon after the Crucible fired, destroying the Reapers for good, and moved all by itself- as if guided by the invisible hand of some nameless God- back to the Serpent Nebula, with the Crucible still attached. Keepers had swarmed inside and out, and there were so many of them that no one could enter the Citadel for days, because so many exploded and turned into acid when ships attempted to dock.

The rest of the Galaxy wasn't quite so lucky.

The Council Races' homeworlds (Palaven, Earth, Sur'Kesh, and Thessia) had received the most damage out of every other system or planet in the Galaxy- other than those that were completely wiped out; which only made sense, as the Reapers had targeted those areas first.

Other worlds, such as Kahje, had somehow almost completely avoided the Reaper's notice, and had escaped any permanent damage. Of course, the Hanar and Drell were quite happy to assist the rest of the Galaxy with repairs and had mobilized their Navy and all the personnel they could afford without endangering their security... though their government, the Illuminated Prophecy, refused to state why the War never came to their shores at the moment- which, in all seriousness, didn't seem to matter much.

Repairs were actually going as nicely as they could, considering the amount of damage sustained.

Have you ever had that one thing you wanted to do?

I've woken up with a Turian next to me.

Garrus turned his head, half-way expecting to see Shepard standing next to him, dark brown eyes glistening in her old cheerful way as she smiled playfully at him.

Of course, she wasn't there.

She hadn't been at his side for a long time.

Still trying to make me blush, huh?

'Till it works.

Currently, the Council was close to electing new members. Quarian, Drell, Hanar, Elcor, Volus, and even Geth and Krogan Council-members were currently being considered and invited to join. Old blood between the Salarians, Turians, and the Krogan had been assuaged. The Quarian and Geth were finally getting along, and old prejudices against the other races had finally been uplifted.

She would have loved this if she could see it. Garrus thought, almost bitterly, looking back down, into the clear water many stories below him.

If anything, Commander Joleen Shepard had believed in equality between everyone. She had hated the rift between "Council Races" and "Non-Council Races," and had urged her comrades, and everyone else, to treat others as they would want to be treated, regardless of all that 'superior race' bullshit.

In other news, a new Human Council-member had already been chosen.

Admiral Steven Hackett had been chosen to become the third Human Councilor with the discovery of Anderson's death. Hackett was seen as a solid choice on every front by many people. He was a seasoned, fearless military leader, and was very well-educated in Galactic politics.

And with an iron fist, he united the Council.

I think she would have approved. Not that it matters now.

Currently, the Councilors were spending every moment of their time focusing on repairs. Thankfully, crime had taken a huge, huge downturn since the end of the War. The old Merc groups, united under Aria T'Loak, had all returned to Omega, and were actually helping with repairs.

A miracle.

Thanks to crime's apparent disappearance for the time being, C-SEC had downsized a bit for the moment and most officers were back on their homeworlds or close by, also working on and overseeing repairs. The only ones that remained were the Council's personal bodyguards, a few patrol men, and the newly-promoted Executor Bailey.

She definitely would have approved. Standing, Garrus continued to stare down at the clear water below him. And despite himself, he felt something within him unclench, and he was able to breathe a little easier.

Something about this place calmed him.

He remembered with some amusement when during their contest, Shepard had carefully aimed her well-modded, heavily scoped sniper rifle, as her dark brown eyes narrowed in order to focus her slightly near-sighted vision that she never bothered to fix…

Somehow, she'd missed that shot.

I'm Garrus Vakarian, and this is now my favorite spot on the Citadel!

Hey, it's windy up here!

There, there, it's all right. I know there are… other things you're good at.

He was beginning to suspect she'd done it on purpose.

And he loved her for it.

But then, he loved her for a lot of reasons.