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There Is No Shepard Without Vakarian

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The other Citadel races don't give turians much credit for their art: The paintings are bright; the music has a beat; and the architecture is serviceable.

The only thing the other races admire turians for is their military. Every turian serves the Hierarchy in some capacity starting with boot camp at the age of 15 followed by a period of active service before they have the possibility of resuming a more civilian (though still controlled by the state) lifestyle.

Every turian knows military life intimately.

And so, turian war stories are long and complex and have covered every possible situation a soldier could ever be in from every possible angle.

One of the standard storylines is the romance: Two soldiers fall in love in a trench and have to fight through a war together. There are three possible outcomes: They both live, they both die, or one dies and the other has to live on.

But that last outcome is more often the beginning of something rather than the end.

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The Reaper laser hits beside him, and Garrus Vakarian keeps running. Ahead of him is Commander Shepard in her custom armor, and beyond her is the ray of light leading to the Citadel. If they can reach it? It may be a trap. But it may also be their only hope of ending this war. Around him, tanks and people hurry to it while banshees, mauraders, and husks swarm them, defending the one shining bit of hope.

Suddenly there's an explosion, and a tank tumbles over, rolling towards Shepard. She can't slow her mad dash, and so she tries to slide underneath it. It hits the ground solidly, and for a panicked moment Garrus can't see her and thinks she's been crushed. Then he catches sight of her on the other side, and starts moving to her. At the same time, another tank comes flying over the first one. Turians aren't good at dodging. The tank catches fire, lands on top of him, and rolls.

Shepard runs back to Garrus and calls for an evac team. With sheer stubbornness and adrenaline, she drags him toward the Normandy. They'll have to try again later, hope someone else makes it. But then she passes him over to Javik, the last Prothean, who isn't as burned. "Here. Take him." And she stands, watching him leave.

"Shepard?" Garrus calls to her, not quite believing.

"You've got to get out of here," she says. She is staying. There will be no second chance.

"And you've got to be kidding me." He knows things go wrong when he's not there to watch her back.

"Don't argue, Garrus."

"We're in this to the end," he insists.

She strides toward him and he hopes that she's changed her mind. But her voice cracks as she speaks, "No matter what happens here, you know I love you. I always will," she touches his silver skin, his scarred cheek.

"Shepard. I..." he never has the right words for her. He knows he can't persuade her to come with him. This is the end of the Reapers. It has to be. Or she'll break. So he tells her the words he's never explicitly said because he didn't want to make a promise he couldn't keep. "I love you, too."

He watches her turn away to run to the beam to become the legendary hero she was born to be, to die to save everyone.