Eyes like Stars
Aiya could not help the small giggle that escaped her as Garrus laughed weakly then winced with the pain in his injured face. It was good to see him smile again, she hadn’t known if Garrus would ever open his eyes again let alone if she would ever see him smile. She watched him for a few moments, honestly just glad to be in his company while things were peaceful and still but his question quickly brought her out of her reverie. With a cocky smile and a raised eyebrow she looked at him, almost questioning his sanity that he would ask her such a thing.
“As for where we are I can understand, you were fortunate enough never to have need of the Med bay before.” Raising her hands in a grand gesture of welcome Aiya smiled. “Welcome aboard the Normandy SR2 Garrus Vakarian. And she is as beautiful as she ever was, mostly because she is missing that giant scratch that Joker managed to acquire on the hull when he was dared to fly her blindfolded.” Aiya sighed and blew a wisp of hair off her face in exasperation at this memory.
“And did we finish Tarak? Seriously …?” Her anger was gently mocking and with one delicate eyebrow raised in judgement continued to give him her hard stare. But when she spoke her voice was soft and she gazed warmly at him. “No one hurts my friends and gets away with it. So you don’t need to worry about that any more. They will be talking about the legend of Archangel on Omega for decades.” She smiled wistfully. “Ah … they may even compose a ballad in your honour.”
“Now you really need to get some rest. I didn’t go to all that trouble of coming to get you if you aren’t going to pull your weight in my crew.” Again her tone was mocking but her expression was tender as she looked at him. Aiya stood pushing herself up with her hands, using the movement as an excuse to gently brush past his hand. Smiling gently at him she made her way slowly down the med bay. At the door she pause and looked back over her shoulder. “Rest well Garrus.”
The Normandy. The Turian had never been onboard the previous version of the vessel during its sudden destruction in the Omega Nebula two years ago and the loss of both familiar crewmen and Shepard was a thing that had reached him through a dreadful report. Since then he had cut ties with everything that even mentioned the word army, but he was not a fool. The experimental stealth frigate had been a huge collaborate project between the races and had demanded a rather enormous amount of credits – a quantity that no sane military force would pay again for another ship, but he was obviously mistaken.
“The Normandy?” Surprise can be heard touching his words. The designation SR-2 clearly spoke of the fact that it was the second of its name, but in his mind nothing really made sense. Perhaps it was the numerous amounts of synthetized drugs and strong medications swimming around in his numbed system that made the contacts unable to connect properly. Nevertheless he found truth in her words due to the old, sturdy bond of friendship that tied them together. “I would never have guessed.”
It was confirmed – the question about Tarak’s death had been a stupid one to utter. Even though she played an act that spoke of anger he could still clearly see the mockery shining through her façade; she was the same, slightly humorous person from two years ago. His eyes travel over her charmed expression and the words she said was enough to light a warming fire underneath his kettle of mixed emotions. “A ballad? As long as it is not an elcor trying to sing it then I suppose it will be good.” The reply is infected with the same wittiness of her words; kind, gentle with a large stain of sarcasm. Then again it felt good to know that Tarak’s tyranny with the Blue Suns had been ended and his chapter on the doomed station of Omega could be finished with him sent to a stiff hospital bed.
In response to her urging words for him to catch some blissful rest he simply nods, agreeing in a way. Resting wasn’t really his thing and already he could feel the itching bugs of distress mocking him, but deep down he knew that he needed to catch a bit repose before going all in again in preparations for walking to hell and back. Because that was what happened in the presence of the great Commander Shepard, wasn’t it?
The gentle touch as she once more stands up is noticed, but he doesn’t let his focus drop from her familiar face. Instead he trace her, studies her movements as if he needed some further convincing in the fact that it really was her and not some clone brought to replace her. “Take care, Shepard.”
After being left alone it is hard not to follow her advice and actually get some rest. There is no way for him to know if he has been asleep one day or one hour the next time he can hear the low, hissing whooshing sound from the metallic entrance doors parting. This time it is not the Commander paying him a visit, but a woman in charge of his successful recovery and he cannot help but to feel slightly more secure in the old medic’s hands. Dr. Chakwas isn’t too keen on him already wanting to leave the warm hospital bed behind, but she cannot hold him nor tie him down. Instead she examine the advanced stitching, hook him off the machines, coat the burned skin that yet stung with a soothing balm and redressed the bandages before helping the recon with putting on the blue and now damaged armor once again. A dose of Medi-gel and a strict commendation from her to him that she wanted to see him again before night’s fall is the thing he’s then sent away with. Apparently he hadn’t been sleeping peacefully for more than a few hours, but he still felt rested and eager to get to work.
“Do you know where I can find Shepard, doc?” It’s a kindly asked question that stops him on his exit from the medical area and he turns to look at the grey-haired lady. She looks up from the glowing datapad that painted a blue shimmer upon her face and passes him a minor smile before shaking her head in response and excusing the fact that she did not knew.
Eyes like Stars
Aiya and Jacob were both in the Communications room going over plans and schematics for improvements for weapons, armour and the ship. However Aiya was not focused at all, her mind kept wandering back to the med bay. Although she had spoken to Garrus after he had woken up he had now been unconscious for at least a day although she was so busy at the moment time did seem to slip past her. Looking up from the data pad she had been looking at she noticed Jacob looking at her expectantly, he had obviously just said something and she had completely blanked him. Giving her head a little shake which caused her blonde locks to bounce around her face she gave Jacob a wan smile.
“Sorry Jacob, what did you say?” He looked sympathetically at her but consented to repeat himself to her, his face serious as he took in her worried expression.
“Commander, we’ve done what we could for Garrus but he took a bad hit. The Doc’s corrected with surgical procedures and some cybernetics best we can tell he’ll have full functionality but …” However at that precise moment the mechanical swoosh of the door opening made them both look over. Apparently it was true; speaking of the devil really did summon him as who should walk in but Garrus Vakarian.
“Shepard!” was his cool, almost nonchalant greeting to her but she could hear the joy in his greeting. Aiya’s face broke into a wide smile as he walked into the room. It was incredible, all the worry and tension that had been resting in her chest like an oppressive bolder since they had rescued Garrus from Omega suddenly vanished. She took a deep breath and found she felt lighter and more cheerful than she had in days. Only now it was gone had she realised how worried and distracted she must have been these last few hours.
She looked him up and down, he looked rough, his amour seeming to mirror his face as both bore large scars but he was alive and his eyes gleamed in his normal cocky manor. She turned to face Garrus as he swaggered in, Aiya matched is cocky smile with her own as she placed her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at him. From the other side of the Com unit Jacob whistled in awe.
“Tough son of a bitch! Didn’t think he would be up yet.” They both looked over at him with identical grins on their faces.
“Nobody would give me a mirror, how bad is it?” His tone seemed almost mocking. Well she had been prepared to treat him with kid gloves, at least for a little while but it seemed he was back to his normal self. With a self assured smile Aiya angled her hips even more, her whole posture sassy.
“Hell Garrus you were always ugly! Slap some face paint on there and no one will even notice.” He chuckled wholehearted then his expression dissolved into a grimace as he hissed in slight pain.
“Oooww oh don’t make me laugh. Damn it my face is barely holding together as it is.” He paused and looked at her directly. “Some women find facial scars attractive … mind you most of those women are Krogan!” Aiya could not help but smile but the small voice in the back of her mind had to agree. She was a solider through and through and the battle worn look suited him … almost … almost to the handsome degree. Quickly adjusting her face so none of this would show in her expression she heard Jacob move. He presented them with a quick salute and quickly took his leave.
It is the charming Enhanced Defense Intelligence – which the recon cannot help but to in the beginning briefly believe to be a VI – that introduces herself swiftly before he is even given the chance to leave the infirmary. The intellectual expressions, the ability to act without sounding too robotic and the sense of life that immersed throughout her soft voice were all hints to founding a thought that this string of clever voice was something far more complex than a simple virtual intelligence. Doctor Chakwas is the one to confirm his vague beliefs, passing him a brief smile while presenting the synthetic piece of active life with a fancy, yet more easily memorized nickname – EDI. The original cost of rebuilding the Normandy must have climbed over the highest mountain possible with this advance technology ready and able within the crew, but as the Turian is guided throughout the ship by EDI he gets the chance to glance upon one familiar logotype. The orange, black and white color smeared into one recognizable insignia did not raise any high spirits – it is rather the opposite. After their previous voyage to hell and back two years ago he found it hard to wrap his head around the fact that Shepard would stand for an organization known for their narrow pro-humanity perspective and brutal acts of terrorism. This made little sense and to be upon a rebuilt Normandy flying in new colors was slightly uncomfortable, especially with the fact that most of the crewmembers that passed him in the hall surely had some kind of disapproval against aliens.
One level higher and after a few more directions to get from EDI then the sniper finally is at his destination. The two metallic doors part with a low swoosh and a rather slim shaped room opens up for him and with it are two individuals – both familiar.
“Shepard.” His gentle calling out is an immediate attention grabber. Slowly he moves further inside the room, the door shutting close behind his tall form.
“Tough son of a bitch! Didn’t think he would be up yet.” He was a Turian after all; study and meant to endure even the roughest of conditions even on the damned battlefield. In some time he would be able to call the injures a mere scratch and pull jokes about it in order to cover up the crucial mistake that had marked him. After the kind jokes and agonizing smiles Garrus watch as the Officer takes his leave, granting them some much needed privacy in the communication room. Many, many questions had submerged only within a couple of minutes timeframe and he wanted some answers, even if he doubted that she had time to answer them all.
“So… Cerberus Shepard, really?” The silence is only allowed to move between them for a short second after Jacob’s departure before the scarred soldier is quick to grasp words. To work upon a ship loaded with alienhaters would not perhaps be the idyllic work environment, but if Aiya was convinced that there could exist some kind of exception in Cerberus’ work protocol then he was all ears.
Eyes like Stars
Aiya felt the smile slip off her face as she looked over at Garrus, trust him to jump on the heart of the matter but she assumed as a Turian on a what appeared to be a pro-human vessel he would focus on it. She sighed and for a moment she looked almost sad like she was caught adrift in a current she could not control. However it was a fleeting look, she blinked and the sadness that had been caught in her blue eyes was replaced by a defiant strength. She met his gaze unblinkingly, she needed to convey her point to him and dismiss the doubt she could hear saturating his question.
“I don’t work for Cerberus! At this moment I just happen to be working with them to stop the Collectors. This is my mission, my ship and my crew and everyone aboard knows that.” Aiya leant against the com’s desk and for a moment she gazed distractedly into space saying in a lamenting whisper under her breath. “This isn’t how I ever saw things working out.”
Then she stood away from the desk and giving herself a mental shake she threw off the gloom and sadness that had settled around her heart, pushing down. And she was Aiya again, confident, warm and giving Garrus her signature smile.
“That’s why I’m glad you’re here Garrus if I’m walking into hell I need someone I can trust at my side!” Sincerity rang in her words and was echoed in her expression as she looked hard at the scarred warrior, assessing his reaction. “I can’t do this alone …” She bit her lip and her eyes twinkled with a mischievous air. “Plus there seems to be a current shortage of grizzly, old, cynical ex-Csec Turian sharp shooters in the galaxy. So it seems I will have to call in the old hand.” Garrus could not help the soft chuckle escaping which was quickly followed by the predictable hiss of pain, but his eyes remained bright as he looked at her.
“You do realised this has me walking into hell with you.” He smiled cockily despite the pain it must have brought to his face. “Just like old times.” She couldn’t help but agree with him, trips with her weren’t exactly known for being a pleasure cruise. “I’m fit for duty whenever you need me Shepard. I’ll settle in and see what I can do with the forward batteries.” He nodded slightly to her and then turned leaving the Com room.
For a moment Aiya stood alone her mind wandering though everything she was thinking and feeling at this moment but it would take more than the few minutes she could spare now to sort out this tangle of emotion. Suddenly EDI appeared from her hologram position on the Com desk and looked at her, well she assumed the computer was looking at her, it seemed to be facing her at any rate.
“Is something troubling you commander?” Aiya could not help but raise an eyebrow at this, even for an AI program EDI was amazingly perceptive and her function for reading human body language seemed to running flawlessly.
“I’m fine EDI.” She replied with as an almost automatic response. Bringing up her omni-tool she looked at the screen. “EDI send the dossiers from my personal computer to my omni-tool, it’s time we found some more squad mates.”
“You do realize this has me walking into hell with you.” Hell – such an interesting and adventurous place. They had stolen the Normandy together, found a stealthy backdoor to one of the Galaxy’s hotspots during a massive Geth invasion and tricked death more than once together. How could the Turian deny another courageous voyage with the fearsome Commander Shepard? Especially against the Collectors, his knowledge about them was limited but whatever she was fighting for he would find himself aiding the same cause. He trusted her judgment even if she happened to be working with Cerberus to reach her goal, but even if two years had passed since the last time they had seen each other she still looked and acted the same except from the scars. He looked beyond that though; the aura of energy that surrounded her still carried a striking beauty.
“Just like old times.” It is nice to finally get some answers and to have shed some kind of clarity over the situation. There were still pieces missing in the puzzle; information that he lacked and desired but he did not want to bother her further. Besides, he would have the great opportunity to work with her again and there would be more times for them discuss the long years that had passed. Everything was to be revealed in due time. “I’m fit for duty whenever you need me Shepard. I’ll settle in and see what I can do with the forward batteries.”
The main battery was clean and spacy; the fresh, cleansed air escaping from the vents added a tiny drop of energy by every breath he took. In one way it was nice to be alone again even though he was pretty sure that the AI was probably having eyes and ears everywhere, but it did not mind. He was after all simply checking on the machinery; exploring what Ceberus might have gotten installed and it is hard not to be impressed by their perfected handy work. The canon is a deadly work of art, but everything could be perfected to a new level. It is not hard to loose hours within the metallic walls once he got started; the source code was delicate and advanced but nothing that he wouldn’t adjust for the better. Sometime along the way EDI decides to join him, how she expresses the fact that she had studied him for quite some time and curiously wondered what he was doing. This later evolves to a gentle and humors conversation as the artificial intelligence apparently had been constructed with such a senses. It was a comforting thing that made him feel more safe and secure upon the Cerberus vessel.
Eyes like Stars
Aiya had made up her mind and was now strolling purposely towards the CIC and the galaxy map, giving a slight incline of her head to Kelly who returned it with a smile, Aiya stepped up to the map to select their destination. She had already decided that since they were already still docked at Omega they should retrieve the doctor, as he was key to their success against the collectors. Selecting Omega once more on the map she felt Joker again hooking up the Normandy to port. Aiya stepped down from the map and walked to the Normandy’s exit quickly deciding who would be best to take with her on this mission.
Garrus’ knowledge of Omega and his skill with a gun would be invaluable to her and she enjoyed Jacob’s calm and willing manor. Activating her omni-tool she called them both up to the CIC to join her for the mission. She was slightly worried about Garrus and how he would cope but he said he was fit for duty and she needed him on this mission. While she waited in the antechamber before exiting the vessel she pushed a button in the wall to reveal her armour. Shrugging into her black and red N7 class amour she adjusted it till it fit correctly.
Then with a swoosh the doors opened and in stepped Garrus and Jacob both in full armour and armed to the hilt. She smiled at them and they both returned it, Garrus with a slight wince.
“You guys ready for more of the beautiful sights and smells of Omega?” Her smile was cheeky and Garrus returned it with a theatrical groan. Aiya flipped the switch and the doors behind the sealed while the room was adjusted to the right pressure, then the hatch door opened and they were able to step out once again onto the filthy streets of Omega. Striding out confidently Aiya made her way towards the housing district of Omega which was where, if her information was correct, Dr Mordin had set up a clinic.
When they reached the entrance way she found their path blocked by an armed Turian guard who was currently in a heated argument with an angry human woman.
“Complaining is pointless human. There’s a plague no one gets in or out.” His voice was calm but weary as if he had been dealing with complaints and arguments all day.
“You can’t do this! Everything I own is in that apartment.” She snapped back at him her voice and posture full of barely contained rage. Aiya raised a sleek blonde eyebrow and strode up to the pair wishing to see if there was any way she could calm the situation and still be allowed into the quarantine.
“So you’re saying the slums are completely sealed off?” Aiya asked, her face set and hard. The guard sighed and turned to her with relief in his voice.
“Finally a human that can hear. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m doing you guys a favour. Anyone in the quarantine zone is going to be dead from the plague or the gangs in a few weeks.” Aiya frowned a little, she had no time for one of Aria’s guards who was attempting to play the hero by ‘protecting’ them from the quarantine zone, she was in a hurry. Attempting to keep the impatience she felt out of her voice Aiya spoke to the guard.
“There’s a Salarian named Mordin Solus in the slums. I’ve got to get in there to find him.” However the guard continued to shake his head as she spoke. He informed her that he knew of the doctor, that he had set up a clinic a few months back and was at this time trying to help those with the plague. However his orders were to wait until either the plague or the blue suns killed everyone and he was not willing to disobey those orders. Aiya pouted slightly but quickly allowed her features and voice to take on the winning tone she used to persuade others.
“Listen, you’re stuck here till this quarantine is over. That could take weeks. What you need is to get this problem sorted out right now. That’s what I do – solve problems. Let me in and I’ll get this district straightened out.” It seemed to work as the guard relaxed and shrugged at her.
“You think you can fix this, why not? The quarantine is more to keep infected people in anyway. I’ll radio ahead; tell them you’re coming in.” The woman next to her burst into an angry outburst at the guard but Aiya had taken a few paces away from them for a quick conversation with her team. Garrus smiled as she approached his posture and expression sarcastic.
“A quarantine zone for a plague that kills Turian’s. Why don’t we ever go anywhere nice?” Aiya looked at him for a moment with a searching eye, she hadn’t known when they had took this mission that there was a plague here. She really didn’t want to risk Garrus’ health, not while he was still weakened from his injuries.
“Although it would be great to have your knowledge of Omega and the blue suns Garrus, I don’t want to risk you getting infected too.” He looked at her with an odd expression on his face.
“It’s your call, Shepard. If you need me, I’m not going to let a cough keep me back.” Aiya nodded but resolved to keep a sharp eye on him. Motioning them forward they made their way into the slums prepared to meet hostiles and viruses alike.