Honor's Boundary -
A Garrus Vakarian Tale
Game: Mass Effect
Pairing: Shepard... Eventually
Disclaimer: The Mass Effect universe and it's characters are the sole intellectual property of Bioware and EA. This is simply my interpretation of their story.
Chapter 8: Justice
Garrus didn't like asking for favors, he would have to to dig deep and bury his pride. It was his own fault that he had to ask in the first place, he thought. Dammit! If he had just gotten the job done the first time...
On a Turian ship it would be unheard of to present such a request to your Superior, maybe even resulting in suspension. But he had seen how Quinn had helped Wrex acquire his family's armor and after his discussion with Ashley, maybe he and the Commander really were becoming friends. But what if the delay cost them the mission? Every minute was valuable, another opportunity for Saren to slip through their grasp. But, he couldn't let it go. He knew she would would be coming out of the debriefing room soon. Maybe this was a bad time, the Council usually left her in a foul mood. No time, here she comes, say something!
"Commander Shepard takes it in the face like a Champ!" he blurted.
Shepard turned and stared back with the most deadpan expression possible.
Oh crap, way to go Garrus! That was a compliment right?!
Suddenly she doubled over in laughter, clutching her stomach, "You bastard making me laugh like that, thank God for all the pain meds. You are one smooth operator Garrus Vakarian," she said through broken laughter.
Damn, I really need some human friends, this is getting embarrassing.
She must have read the confusion in his face, "Oh man," she chuckled, "You really have no idea what you just said do you? I imagine things are different on Palaven... I can't say turian sexuality is an area I'm familiar with."
Spirits, he had said something explicit! What would that mean? Ideas began racing through his head, what could that mean... it couldn't be... really? No! But how? Why?? It couldn't be... Did humans participate in hand to hand combat in mating? He drifted off in a sea of possibilities...
"Garrus, hello?" she said waving her hand in front of his face.
"Oh, Shepard, I'm sorry I don't know what came over me. I haven't spent a lot of time around humans, but I seem to have a a knack for sticking my foot in my mouth. I just meant there aren't many people I've known that could bounce back from an injury like that, let alone continue command of a ship like the Normandy as if nothing had happened."
"I'm not going to pretend it didn't hurt like hell. I mean you always hear about how nasty acid is, but it's not exactly something you would ever really think you'd feel first hand. It's something you only see in movies. I'm just thankful I had you and Kaidan with me, it could have been a lot worse."
He nodded, "We had a summer home on Palaven, my parents thought it was a good place for us to get a break from all of the steel and sterility of city life. As a boy I would spend all day running through the meadows with my sister, I would play Spectre and she would be a Turian Agent on some classified recon mission. Such a Daddy's girl, even when he wasn't watching. Anyway, the radiation had rendered most of the pools there volatile, they were beautiful, clear, pristine; but that's because anything that came in contact with them would quickly corrode away into non-existence. One day Sol and I were racing back to our yard, we had stayed out too late and we both knew what that meant if we were caught. I was in the lead but she was on my heels. I turned back to gloat, not paying attention to where my feet were going. Her eyes widened as her face shifted from a scowl to panic, but it was too late. I tripped head first into a shallow pool. It was so long ago, my makeshift armor had protected me slightly, but I still remember the fire that spread across my skin, felt like I was boiling alive. Three seconds felt like an eternity. Of course I didn't want Mom to worry so I stole all of the medi-gel in the house, covering my body from head to toe and said I had spent too much in the sun... a thin veil she saw right through. Nothing gets past her, she's far too preceptive!..." he smiled, recalling simpler times. "I'm sorry to drone on, you didn't need a history lesson, I just...I felt your pain."
"No wonder turians are so tough, you stare death in the eye in your own backyard! And I don't mind, really, it's nice to get to know Garrus the man, not just Garrus the bad-ass "ex-cop," she said. "Was there something else you had been wanting to discuss? You seemed pretty distracted in the the debrief?"
Right! He couldn't believe he had gotten so far off topic. She was just so easy to talk to.
"Yes actually, I received a message from one of my colleagues at C-Sec. We found the tracking signal of a ship being used by a criminal I was tracking prior to the Saren case."
"What happened with the case?"
"I was tasked with tracking black market trade on the Citadel. I had noticed a surge in the trade of body parts, organs mostly. They are a common black market item, but never in the numbers we were seeing. At first we didn't know if it was new lab, or if some psycho was harvesting organs from citizens."
"It was both actually. Our first break came from a DNA test on one of the livers in question. I traced it back to a Turian living there on the Citadel, the weird part was not only was he alive, but also very convinced that he had never lost his liver. After some digging I found out that he had briefly worked for a Salarian geneticist named Dr. Saleon. I went to his lab hoping to find any evidence of cloned organ development, but there was nothing. Not one Krogan testicle!"
"Ummm.... you're kidding right? Why would anyone want Krogan testicles?"
"Some Krogan believe that testicle transplants can increase their virility, counteracting the effects of the genophage. It doesn't work, but it makes them highly valuable, some go for $10,000 a piece, that's up to $40,000 for a full set!"
He watched as she pondered over that for a minute.
"Huh..." she said, shaking her head, "So... what did you do about Saleon?"
"We called in some of his employees for questioning, at first it looked like it was going to be a dead end. But, then one of my detainees began bleeding profusely during his interview. We offered to help him out, patch him up, but he became frantic! Of course I ordered a full medical exam. They found incisions all over his body, some fresh. He had been turned into a test tube. These people were walking, living test tubes. Saleon was cloning their organs right inside their own bodies then selling them off. Many of his victims were poor, just needing the money to get by. But they only got paid if they developed perfectly, otherwise he would just leave it in there. The worst part was that no one could tell, these people were walking around, a mess, but only on the inside."
"That's sick! You put him down right?"
He didn't want to tell her. He could feel his blood boiling as he replied, "He ran, he made it to a ship and threatened to kill the hostages if we tried to stop him. By the time I found out they had already broken away from the space port. I ordered Citadel defense to shoot him down but I was countermanded. They were worried about the hostages and collateral damage of a ship being shot down so close to the Citadel. I told them they were dead any way, but they wouldn't listen," he snarled.
"No wonder you signed on to come with me, I can't believe they let him just get away!! But I understand their concerns..."
"I marched right in to see Pallin and made sure to tell him just what I thought of him and his policies, he said if I didn't like it I could quit, I almost did..."
"Was that when I bumped into you?"
"Oh, um no...that was a different time."
"Uh huh... interesting! So you know where this butcher is?"
"Yes. He changed ship's and his name to Dr. Heart, his idea of a joke I guess."
The Commander winced in revulsion.
"His new ship is bound for Noveria, a place well known for looking the other way on more unsavory business dealings, as long as you have the money of course. It's perfect! The Normandy could overtake it easily, we could finish the job and barely alter our course, we'd arrive within hours of our original arrival time on Noveria. It's your call."
"I joined the Alliance to help save lives, to make a difference. I never dreamed it would take me here, with the lives of billions resting on our shoulders," she said, visibly strained. "But I won't compromise the lives of a few on the path to save the many, at least not when I have a choice. I'll sleep better knowing he can't hurt anyone else. Let's get that son of a bitch!"
He hoped she would never have to make that choice, but he knew the inevitability of their situation. At some point she would
and she would have his support.
"Thank you Commander, I'll transfer the coordinates to Joker," he said.
A smile broke on her face, "Better yet, you wanna give the galaxy map a try? Don't act like I don't know every person on the ship wants to touch it!"
"Well, if you insist..."
He stepped onto the podium, he could hear the whispers around the deck and feel XO Pressly's gaze fixed on him. He engaged the holographic interface before him, it was beautiful, the whole known universe was at his fingertips. He could see that he may have bluffed a little on the whole being "on route" thing. The Kepler Verge where the ship was located was adjacent to Feros, but not on the way to the Horse Head Nebula, it was a straight shot from the ship down to Noveria though. Besides, he hadn't lied, the Normandy had the most advanced FTL engine ever created, it would still only delay them by an hour or two
three max. He lingered for a second, he was used to looking out at the stillness of space, but seeing the galaxy laid out in it's entirety before him
it was humbling. He plugged in the coordinates.
"Joker, we're making a quick pit stop before we head on to Noveria, I need you to lock on the coordinates coming your way," she said.
"Already on it, ETA 2 and half hours," said the pilot.
"This is your mission Vakarian, pick a squadmate and I'll meet you back here when we dock. For now, we all need some rest, try and get in a nap."
Garrus decided on Wrex. Not because he was the only other non-human male on board but because the Salarians had engineered the bio-weapon that was sterilizing his people. He knew Wrex would have no problem stomping out the serial killer they were about to bring down.
"Wrex, you in?"
"Hell yeah, I was beginning to get cabin fever, and no one wants to see a bored Krogan. Trust me, we always find means of entertaining ourselves and it's not always constructive."
"I hope I never find out. I just thought you could use a little piece of the action."
"You lookin out for me Gar Bear? I'm touched. Now, why do you really want me to come a long?"
"The target is a Salarian geneticist, thought you may enjoy taking out some of your resentment," he said.
"I'll enjoy it alright, but I read the mission brief. Don't think I wouldn't do the same thing to any Krogan, Human, Asari or any other sick bastard who uses people for his own twisted gain like that."
" Garrus said.
They grabbed their gear and boarded the elevator.
"Gar Bear...really?" Garrus asked with disbelief.
"What? I like it, it stays," Wrex said with a grin.
They boarded the MSV Fedele quietly. They had docked with the Normandy's cloak engaged so he wouldn't see them coming, there would be nowhere to go. The nervous excitement was almost too much, Garrus had been waiting for this moment, reliving his failure over and over. Today would end the cycle, his work would finally make a difference. No thanks to C-Sec.
The ship was cold, sterile, it was like stepping into a morgue. Fitting . They weaved their way through a labyrinth of crates. It was dim, everyone was on edge unsure of what they would find.
"What was that?" Garrus asked.
"I thought I heard it too...we need to keep moving," replied Shepard.
They continued on. Garrus felt his skin crawl, "There it is again!" he shouted.
There were footsteps, he was sure of it. But where was everyone? His mind began to play tricks on him, he thought he'd seen something in the shadows. His heart rate climbed as he inched his way over toward a figure he couldn't make out, maybe it was one of the Doctor's victims, maybe they needed help. His muscles tensed. "Hello, we're here to help...are you alright?" he inquired with a whisper. Damn, it was just a fuel containment cell! He let his guard down.
A blur in his peripherals tackled him to the ground in a flash. He struggled to grab a hold of it's shoulders forcing some sort of distance between them. It lunged at his face and neck, it was rabid, disfigured.
Whatever had been on top of him it was there no longer, but rather spread across him in pieces.
"WREX!! Dammit!! We don't even know what that was... WHO that was!"
"Whoops," he replied sarcastically. "Come on, that thing was going to eat you for lunch," he said defensively, "next time I'll let him have you."
Garrus scurried to his feet, brushing the remains off of his suit. He looked at was left of the body. Spirits, what happened to you? I'm so sorry. His stomach churned at the gruesome sight.
"Whatever it was it isn't human anymore, obviously Saleon has moved on from simply harvesting organs, this...this is an abomination, poor soul" she looked away in disgust. "Let's get this bastard and get out of here!"
They faced many more of those things... things that had once been people. Some had been Turian, some Asari, even Batarian. With every painful shot Garrus took it fueled his rage, toward Saleon... toward C-Sec! If only he had been able to take him down the first time, they would be escorting survivors right now not gunning down monsters.
They finally reached a door. The three of them exchanged glances. "Garrus, I know this is your mission, but I think I should take the lead on this, you may be too close. If the roles were reversed... well I don't know that I could keep a level head. If there is a diplomatic solution I am obligated to take it, but I promise you he's not getting away with this."
He knew she was right... he knew if it was in his hands he would lose his composure... but if it wasn't for her they wouldn't be there at all.
"Thank you!! Thank you for saving me from those things!" the Doctor shouted.
The room was stained with the blood of many species, pale blue, violet, orange... and more than a few dark red.
Shepard looked over to Garrus for confirmation that this was their guy. Garrus nodded back, "That's Saleon," his voice was laced with rage, almost primal.
"What??!! No... Heart, I'm Dr. Heart! Please get me out of here!" he pleaded.
"You're sure?" Shepard asked Garrus one last time.
"Positive!" he turned his full attention to Saleon, "There's no escape this time, I'd enjoy harvesting your organs first but we don't have the time!"
"You're crazy, he's crazy!" the Doctor was frantic, "Please, don't let him do this to me!"
"We'll take him in, drop him off at the next military base," said Shepard.
"But... we have him!! We can't...Quinn, I can't let him get away. Not again!!
"I know. He's not getting away. If he's dead we'll never know what he did or how he did it. We'll take him, interrogate him. He'll serve his time."
He was shaking. But he made a promise that he would respect her command.
"I've...ok..." he stammered, "You!!!! You're a very lucky Salarian. You owe the Commander your life."
"Oh right, what was I thinking, I'm so very thankful you're here to arrest me" he said sarcastically, drawing his weapon.
Oh hell no. Garrus drew his pistol and dropped the mad man in a single clean shot to the heart. Ironic really, he had chosen his new name as a joke and now he would die by it.
He turned to Shepard, "And he dies anyway. What was the point of all of that?"
"You can't predict how people will act, Garrus. You can only control how you will respond. In the end, that's what really matters."
He let her words sink in. The adrenaline was still high and his mental faculties weren't fully clear, but he thought about that.
"Yeah, I guess you're right..." he paused. "I' don't think I've ever met anyone like you Commander...thank you."
"So, I guess we're done here?" asked Wrex.
"I suppose we are," Garrus said.
It was late aboard the Normandy, they'd be arriving at Noveria by 0600. Garrus was sitting at the table in the mess hall. He reflected on the events of the day, he couldn't believe it was actually over. He had always wondered how it would feel, how satisfying it would be... and it was. Shepard had stopped him from killing in cold-blood, he wondered how it would have gone if she hadn't been there. If it would have felt as good if he had just taken the shot, or worst, tortured him first. The thought had crossed his mind on more than one occasion, all the ways he could make him feel his victim's pain. Would that have made him a killer, taking someone's life without provocation... he would never now, but he was grateful.
He looked around the room, Kaidan was missing from his usual spot. Strange, he thought. He heard footsteps as someone turned the corner. Speak of the devil...
"Garrus! What a day, huh? Congratulations, I can't believe you caught that guy. You've done the galaxy a great service!" he said.
"The galaxy is a better place, that is true. And after all that time hunting him for C-Sec. I could have never done it on my own. Joining the Normandy has been the best decision I've ever made."
"I know what you mean."
Garrus shifted the conversation, "You almost had me worried for a second, without you in your usual spot or talking to Ashley I thought maybe you'd been sucked out of an airlock or something."
"Oh... yeah...I guess it has gotten late hasn't it? I never notice when I'm with her..." ahem, he cleared his voice, "the Commander I mean."
He had a feeling that's where he'd been.
"It's just... that was the first mission I haven't accompanied you guys on since I joined the crew, and with her still recovering from Feros... I just thought I should check in, make sure she was ok. You know... as a friend," he said.
"Relax Kaidan, It's ok if you've got a thing for her. Who would I tell? Besides as far as human women go, she's in a league of her own, I can respect that," he said. "What you two do or don't do is none of my business..." unless you hurt her, then rest assured I will make it my business.
"Uh... wow it's that obvious huh? It's never going to happen, I just want to be there for her where I can, with all the stress she's under."
"I'm sure she appreciates your friendship." He wondered if she appreciated his as well? Were they even friends, or had he been imagining it?
"Right, I hope so. Well, I better turn in, big day tomorrow. I've never fought an Asari Matriarch before."
"Who was the most powerful biotic in your class when you were training?"
"He wasn't a classmate but there was a Turian instructor, his name was Vymnus. He was strong, ex-military," the expression on Kaidan's face hardened.
"Well picture him, only worse and you'll only be half-way prepared for tomorrow,"
"Ha, well I took him down, and I am sure surprise was the last thing he ever felt... so maybe I'll be alright. But that's a story for another day.... have a good night."
"You too Kaidan."
Had he really killed his instructor? Maybe there was more underneath that sensitive exterior. Garrus had always assumed Kaidan wouldn't have the strength to do what was necessary. Even if he had, whatever his relationship was with Shepard would affect his performance, love makes you do crazy things no matter what your species. That's one lesson he had seen play out over and over again and the reason he lived with no strings attached.
With that he went to bed, completely unaware of how true those words would prove to be.
Honor's Boundaries is clearly a well written piece. The storyline is simple enough to follow, but lacks the complexity found in many popular novels. I personally find that you did not have Garrus display enough emotional turmoil in response to Shepard first denying him to kill Dr. Saleon. However, I felt that dissatisfaction when playing the game as well so it may just be me who thinks this way. I also feel that Garrus is to hesitant in his relationship with Quinn. If he is going to become a love interest you need to ensure they have a strong bond to start with and right now it is weak. I hope my critique does not insult in any way after all I do enjoy reading the story and wait with great anticipation to see where it leads.
The Artist thought this was FAIR
4 out of 5 deviants thought this was fair.
Honor's Boundary is one of the most well written, incisive, interesting, original works of Mass Effect I've read and I've read a lot! The author manages to include the missions without ramming them down your throat and being just another game replay, and takes you into the heart, mind and soul of Garrus Vakarian, whose POV is the one who ties everything together, All the characters are well-written. The deviant's version of Shepard, first name Quinn, is one you come to care about and still stays true to the tough survivalist we all know and love. The building of relationships, back stories and growing freindships, is extremely well done! In a score of 1 through 10 I would give this story a 12 in originality , impact and entertainment. Well done!
The Artist thought this was FAIR
3 out of 3 deviants thought this was fair.