In Garrus' opinion repairing the Normandy enough for space travel had taken far too long, an opinion shared by the rest of the crew. No one had any idea what exactly had damaged their engines but all they'd managed to deduce was that the red shock wave was not anything anyone had ever seen before. He'd helped in Engineering as best he could, but Tali had eventually kicked him out. Liara was working on getting communications back online, Kaidan was using biotics to clear out chunks of metal from the armored plating and some of the interior support beams in the ship that took most of the damage. Once they headed out to the Relay they were horrified to see it had gone dark, completely dormant. It was broken. It took at least another month for other ships to show up and they gave the news, that all the Relays were broken but were also being repaired. Two more months passed before it was working, and they reached Earth. Garrus was the first to step out of the ship only for his heart to stop briefly at what he saw in the middle of London. It was part of the Citadel, and a small part at that which indicated that it had been destroyed, and Shepard had been on it, or that was what everyone believed for the moment until otherwise proven. Eventually old friends came to tell them what they knew, even surprising a few when Legion, or a geth who looked and acted like Legion approached. Garrus had been with Tali at the combined Turian and Quarian camp, because people of every species had pretty much been stranded on Earth after the Citadel had gone off with no warning, and Tali had jumped up to hug the Geth without any words.
"Creator Tali, it is a relief to see you as well." Legion stated as he awkwardly returned the gesture before stepping back. "I have come to update both you and Vakarian Garrus on the situation. Shepard Commander had been assigned to the team to try and reach the Citadel, as you are aware. After the Normandy extracted her two squad members, Shepard Commander continued her task, before the being you called Harbinger blasted the zone in which she was located. The humans reported that no one survived that mission, however, our consensus has agreed that Shepard Commander may be alive, though the chances are indeed slim. I believe this due to the fact that Admiral Anderson was discovered alive, but seriously injured in the Citadel Wreckage. He reported that he had seen Shepard Commander not far behind him before the blast, indicating there is a chance she also survived. We have many platforms searching the wreckage where Anderson was found but further assistance would be appreciated." He finished, and Tali was glad he used the term 'I' when speaking of himself but also 'we' when he was implying the geth as a whole. It proved that his individuality remained even though the geth risked loosing it when they created a new platform and returned his memories through their combined knowledge.
"A chance is still a chance, and you can bet your synthetic ass that I'll help clear that mess to find her." Garrus said with a low growl, his sub-harmonics tense with a mixture of hope but also fear. Hope was a dangerous thing, it could break him more if they didn't find her alive. Either way, both Tali and Garrus left the camp to follow Legion to the spot everyone was searching, finding that they weren't the only ones risking hope. Kaidan was there, Liara, James, even Javik was searching. Everyone fell silent as they split into different groups to search. Garrus stayed with Javik because he noticed that the man's strange ability to sense emotions or whatever he called it (biological markers he was reminded), was helping him track the traces of people that had been there. Due to that, within only four hours, Javik called everyone over. James, Kaidan, and Javik had to work together to move a large metal beam blocking their way but once gone it revealed a critically injured Commander Shepard. Garrus felt his breath hitch, finding himself unable to move while Liara rushed forward with her Omni-tool out to scan Shepard's vital signs.
"I have a pulse! It's incredibly faint, though, someone get a medical team! Now!" She yelled, nearly screamed, and nameless volunteers scattered to follow that order. People had been searching for survivors, with little luck, but if Commander Shepard, the one woman who led the fight against the Reapers and secured their victory, was alive they'd be dammed if they didn't keep it that way. When Garrus could move he approached what was left of the woman he loved. Her right eye was caked with blood and dirt, forced closed when it dried and he had a nagging feeling that the eye itself was a lost cause. She'd be pissed, would probably complain that unless she got it replaced with something she'd never hope to beat Garrus in a shooting contest again. She sustained a lot of damage to her upper chest, had metal shards sticking out here and there. If it had been anyone else they probably wouldn't have had a strong enough will to live, but this was Xandra Shepard, Hero of the Citadel, killer of the Collectors, and now, Savior of the Galaxy. If anyone had a will to live through this it had to be her.
"Garrus, you need to move for the medical team. She needs immediate attention." Tali said softly, a gloved hand gently gripping his shoulder and startling the man from his thoughts. He moved automatically, letting the paramedics examine her. They were talking to each other but he was lost in thought, a couple of their last few conversations playing in his mind.
"Are you ready to be a one Turian kind of woman?" Garrus had been memorizing the color of her eyes, the way the wind up in this long forbidden part of the Citadel blew her hair around, finally getting it loose from the pony tail she always had it in. The pessimistic part of him knew that this might be the last time he saw her so relaxed. Calm even. Her answer had caused his heart to stop briefly, though he'd hoped it was like that.
"The only thing that made leaving Earth bearable was knowing you were out there somewhere."
She would always drop by the forward batteries, checking on him because she knew that he had a lot of pressure when it came to Palavan's situation. The Primarch always referred to him for advise, just like how Earth would refer to her. He never understood how she did that yet stayed sane. Though, he didn't know if she was still completely sane, after all, after everything she's now gone through he genuinely doubted she'd still be in one piece anymore, both physically and mentally. At first he'd commented on the Geth before she'd asked about Palavan.
"Any word from Palavan?" The question was simple, but the gentle and concerned look in her eyes meant she knew how complicated, and possibly painful, the answer would be.
"Some, and I don't like what I'm hearing." He sighed before continuing, looking off to the monitors on the far side of the room. "The Krogan are there in force but they're just slowing the Reapers down, not stopping them. I'm not sure it's going to be enough." He saw her hesitation before she spoke up again, and he had felt his mandibles twitch ever so slightly when she asked her next question.
"Did you hear anything from your family?" She murmured, her soft voice doing nothing to soften the pain of his answer. He didn't have to say it, his silence had been enough of an answer for her. She reached over when he'd turned to look away, forcing him to meet her eyes that held such conviction and certainty. "You will." How could she believe that? He wished he had her faith, maybe then this war would be less painful. That the personal losses wouldn't be so wounding.
As his mind returned to reality the medical team had taken Shepard to the nearby hospital that had been repaired enough to house the more injured survivors. Supposedly Anderson was there too. Javik had been attempting to gain Garrus' attention and the Prothian seemed quite irritated and impatient when Garrus blinked and shifted awkwardly, a bit embarrassed from spacing out at such a bad time.
"I was trying to tell you that the medical team that took the Commander to the hospital tried to talk to you, but told me to tell you instead. The Commander was gravely injured, she would require cybernetics and other such implants to sustain her body if she is to survive. She has no living family to authorize this, you will need to give them permission as her... lover." The man huffed, obviously grumpy for having to be the messenger. He used the term 'lover' as if it were vulgar, and to him it probably was for all they knew. At the very least, he had come to respect Shepard greatly over time, meaning he'd help insure she'd recover. Garrus just nodded mutely and made his way for the hospital, intending to be by her side if she woke up. No, no, when she woke up. He had to believe she'd pull through. It would be an awfully empty galaxy without her.
Chapter 2: Time
Shepard's recovery from the war isn't an easy one, and she'd have more than just scars to show how hard she fought to save the galaxy. In the end, it would hopefully be worth it, but for now only time can tell if she'd walk away from the war the same person as she'd entered it.
Garrus refused to leave Shepard's hospital room after he'd shown up. He'd signed paper work to give the hospital permission to do whatever they could and had to do to keep Shepard alive. Hopefully they didn't do anything she'd get angry about, but he'd deal with that when the time came. For now he wanted her to just wake up. Over the first few days the hospital staff focused mostly on figuring out what was wrong, healing the most obvious injuries, removing shrapnel and other things from her body, and Garrus also found out that he was right when it came to her eye. It was a lost cause, though when he asked he was informed it could be replaced with a fully functional cybernetic eye, which was a plus. After two days went by visitors were allowed into the room, and she no longer seemed like she'd die within seconds every time she took a breath. Tali seemed more concerned for Garrus at the moment, and she stayed the longest. Garrus saw Kaiden's expression, and while he already knew he and Shepard had been together previously he still didn't forgive the human biotic for what he did on Horizon. Garrus had been on the ground team, he'd seen how badly Kaiden hurt Shepard with what he'd said and done. He was glad when the man left first. Wrex and Eve visited, and Eve handed Garrus a baby Krogan wrapped in a bundle of blankets. The woman claimed it was named Xandra, since Wrex refused to let her name it Shepard. The baby was a girl. After Eve left with the baby Krogan Wrex stayed, claiming that if he didn't help protect Shepard's room while she recovered someone could break in and catch Garrus by surprise, but the Turian knew better, Wrex wanted to watch as Shepard recovered. Wanted to make sure the doctors were doing their jobs. All that fun stuff. That led to the pair staring at each other over Shepard's unconscious form in the bed.
"They told me they might have to combine her human DNA with that of a Krogan." Garrus commented idly, making Wrex look up only to see him smirk in amusement. "You should've seen Grunt. He'd been in the room visiting her when they dropped that on me and gave me the paper work to sign for it. He volunteered right away, claiming that only a pure Krogan's DNA was worthy to help his Battle Master recover." That one made Wrex just laugh.
"Ha, the kid's got some good regenerative abilities, sure, but the idea of his DNA mixed with Shepard's is almost cringe worthy. Can you imagine what would happen if she gets any Krogan instincts to go with that? I know she was headbutting people on Tuchanka, and that was without mixed DNA. Just imagine her temper after that procedure." He chuckled, only to grin when he noticed Garrus give the Turian version of a grimace.
"I'll be sure she doesn't have access to weapons for a while." Garrus decided before looking to Shepard's heart monitor when he heard it spike only to start picking up in pace. "Um... I don't think that's normal, is it? It's like she's panicking, or in pain." He muttered but before he could get up to call a nurse in he heard a breathless groan come from the Commander. Wrex was up within seconds, leaving the room to find a doctor which left Garrus to handle Shepard as her good eye fluttered open and she tried moving, only to make a muffled sound of pain. He gently pushed on her good shoulder to get her to stay still.
"Hey, hey, don't try moving right now. The doctors have you on pain killers but they warned me it wouldn't be enough if you woke up. Wrex is finding someone to help you out, but just bear with me until they get here, alright?" He soothed, but his sub-harmonics were showing his worry more than his expression would. At least for his human girlfriend, since she still had issues when it came to that particular species barrier.
"G-Garrus? Where am I?" She breathed before her eye widened and she struggled to sit up again. "Anderson! I saw... he got shot! The Illusive Man forced me to shoot him a-and I couldn't stop it! I need to-" She broke off with a gasp and Garrus had to physically hold her down when her biotics flared to life, having to hope she wouldn't accidentally trigger a shock wave or throwing field in her panicked state. "I remember now... he died."
"Shepard, calm down, Anderson is fine! He's in the room right next door, so if you calm down and breathe, I can tell you about how he's doing!" Garrus explained quickly, wondering what the hell she was going on about. The Illusive Man? And how would he manage to force Shepard to do anything, let alone shoot Anderson? He saw the implants Cerberus first put in Shepard flare up through her facial scarring and the other injuries on her body along with her biotics before he was suddenly thrown back and slammed into the wall opposite her bed. He groaned as he hit the ground and rubbed at the back of his neck. It was about that point that the doctors rushed in with Wrex leading them, the Krogan using his own biotics to try and suppress hers. It was times like these that Garrus wished he wasn't just an Infiltrator. He had no defense for a biotic of any race, let alone one as powerful as Shepard. He stood up as a few nurses began to inject more pain killers and even a sedative into Shepard's IV fluids while she struggled against Wrex, a battle of wills going on between the two. He saw the Commander had been placed in a rudimentary stasis field as well, which didn't bode well. Wrex was a War Lord, the Krogan version of a Vanguard, and Stasis wasn't one of his best skills. Thankfully the drugs began to kick in before she could break the effect and Garrus warily approached her again.
"The Conduit... the child. God Child... he said I had to choose. Said it would kill me. Why am I not dead?" Shepard breathed, her voice weak and shaky as Garrus crouched down and held her least injured hand.
"You're not dead because you promised you'd come back to me, remember? I even dared to give you an order." The Turian said with a sigh, but he felt something in his chest ease when she gave a smile.
"Y-yeah. You did, you little rebel." She teased before finally succumbing to the sedative. Garrus stood and glanced at Wrex with worry in his eyes.
"Go find the others, we need to talk about what she was saying. Especially about how she's under the impression that Anderson is dead. I'll meet you in the Admiral's room, because he should hear this too." Garrus instructed, glancing at Shepard again. What the hell had happened to her when she made that final run?
Chapter 3: Discovery
Shepard woke for the first time after she had been recovered from the wreckage of the Citadel only for Garrus to hear her mention the God Child, how she'd been forced by the Illusive Man to shoot and kill Anderson, and finally, how she'd been certain that no matter what choice she made in the end it would kill her anyways. Her friends, plus Anderson himself, discuss what all of that could possibly mean.
Very short chapter, I know, but it's early in the morning and I only had a small smidge of inspiration and this is actually my most popular series. I like it, too, and Shakarian is my favorite ship next to Shenko, Shavik, and Shega. There's also Shoker in there somewhere, but it gets buried pretty easy these days.
Garrus was the last person to enter Anderson's assigned room in the newly repaired hospital in the middle of the wreckage that was now London. All survivors, at least the human ones, had been brought here ever since the final battle against the Reapers had ended and volunteers were searching the rubble for any sign of survivors left. When fighting a reaper there was no such thing as a flesh wound, but they saved everyone they could, and apparently that included not just Admiral Anderson but also Commander Shepard as well.
"What do you mean she thinks she killed me? I don't know if I'm more shocked or offended at that idea." Anderson huffed and his voice was still rough and cracked from lack of use and they'd gotten special permission to even include the man in this little meeting of theirs because he played a large role in what Shepard claimed had happened during her final run to the Conduit.
"Xandra wouldn't actually want to kill you, Anderson, she still owes you, remember?" Kaidan said calmly and Anderson gave a pained chuckle at the reminder.
"Yeah, that she does, Major. So, not only was she saying that the Illusive man was there and forced her to shoot me but there was a mention of a God Child? What the hell is a God Child?" Anderson asked, quickly getting serious again as he tried to sit up straighter on his bed and Liara moved to help him.
"Dammed if I know, Admiral. She had gotten a good dose of sedatives when she said that part, though, so maybe she was just getting a bit loopy from the drugs." Wrex grunted before he saw Garrus' mandibles twitch in the turian equivalent of a frown. "What? Got something to say, Garrus?" He asked bluntly and the sniper sighed before speaking up.
"I was just thinking of Xandra's behavior during the entire war from the very beginning after Earth was attacked. I mean, you weren't there for most of it, Kaidan, but folks like Liara, Javik, James, and myself were. Hell, even Joker was there, but he isn't here to give a statement for that. Anyways, it started with simple stress and irritability at first. Then it progressed to her losing sleep and being spotted wandering the ship at night."
"That's true! Just a few days after we took Kaidan to the Citadel for treatment I came to Shepard's cabin admittingly late into the evening and she looked like she'd been in a horrible fight!" Liara chirped helpfully and Javik sighed before giving his two cents.
"I must reluctantly admit that what the Turian says has merit. More often than not she would come bother me during the night cycles after I joined the Normandy crew because she discovered I rarely slept for more than two or three Terran hours." Javik admitted. "She even would open up to me about what kept her awake. Odd nightmares of things she'd seen and mistakes she'd made. Ghosts of the past, dark, dead, and barren trees, and a small child she'd seen on Earth when the invasion started. The nightmares grew worse with time and eventually included voices of people she lost, people she blamed herself for losing. A woman named Ashley, the doctor, Modin, and more." He explained with a shrug. "She spoke these things to me mainly because, at the time, I did not care and was only listening because I had nothing better to do at the time. Now these things are actually quite concerning. During my cycle these were only things experienced by people in the early stages of indoctrinations and eventually if one complained of such nightmares you were killed on sight." The entire room fell silent at the observation that Javik had made so casually.
"No! No... that can't be right." Kaidan finally snapped in both anger and desperation and he stood from where he'd been sitting in a chair. His bio-amp kicked on and a blue glow surrounded the man, causing Javik and Wrex to activate their own biotics in return in preparation for the human to lash out. Soon enough the Major got control of himself again and took a shaky breath, causing everyone to relax just a little bit once more. "Javik's theory is just that: a theory. We don't know anything for certain and Xandra didn't even manage to say much of anything before she was sedated again. We need to wait for her injuries to be treated and her mind to be fully there before we take anything she says seriously, alright?" The human asked and there was silence before most of those present in the room agreed with his statements. Eventually the group dispersed and Javik and Garrus ended up sitting across from each other on either side of Xandra's bed, staring at the woman in silence before Garrus broke it first.
"For what it's worth, I think you might be right. She's been exposed to Reapers and Reaper tech ever since the beacon on Eden Prime, which was before I even met her. God only knows how many times the Reapers had a chance to worm into her head." Garrus admitted quietly before glancing to the Prothen. "The question is if there is a way to cure Indoctrination, considering that the Reapers should be extinct now."
"I do not know. For her sake, however, I hope that you primitives can find a way. She deserves that much after everything she has done for this cycle." Javik said after a long pause and he met Garrus' eyes for a moment. "We will know for sure once she awakens. According to previous studies while the war was at its peak, if Indoctrinated subjects are cut off from their Reaper masters they go mad and try to kill all around them. However, she is a strong women with a strong will. Perhaps she shall retain some of herself, even then. Only time shall tell us."
Chapter 4: Rude Awakenings
Xandra wakes up again and a good majority of her injuries have been healed, and her missing eye has been replaced by a cybernetic substitute. Her mind, however, is another story and her friends and crew are left scrambling to try and figure out what to do to help her.
Whispers in the dark, voices long since silenced, the grating sound of Reapers landing on Earth's soil. The God Child's voice echoed in her mind, telling her once more that no matter what choice she picks she would die. One was the Illusive Man's option, Control. The second was Anderson's choice, to Destroy. The third, however, was the best of both worlds, Synthesis. Something had told her, however, that the Synthesis and Control options were lies, that they had more strings attached than her life, so instead she did what Anderson would've wanted her to do, she chose to Destroy. Suddenly a new noise reached her subconsciousness, a repeated and annoying beeping. It was fast, and obnoxious, and new voices reached her once she recognized it. A male, rough with a life of moderate alcoholism and war, and a second one, alien and male as well, but one she'd come to respect. Xandra's eyes fluttered open and she saw the world in different colors for some reason. Reds and blues were sharper while yellows and greens were harder to view. She tried to sit up and found herself more than able to do so with slight pain through her chest. The voices stopped and she looked up at the owners. Javik, the last Prothian, blinked several eyes at her in surprise while Kaidan, second human spectre, seemed to panic at whatever he saw on her face. Her biotics flared to life and and she threw a shockwave at them both, not hearing whatever words came from their mouths as panic flowed through her veins. She was missing something, something was absent in her head, something was gone. She needed that something, she needed it like she needed air, dammit! She slid out of bed before Kaidan could recover but Javik was already up and had his biotics online. She gave an animal like snarl and threw a warp at him, only for it to fall useless against his barrier. Soon enough he gave up playing nice as Shepard's attacks continued to stay strong and fought back. Shockwaves, throwing fields, barriers, biotic slams, everything they both had in their arsenal were used until Kaidan stepped in and managed to throw Xandra into a stasis after Javik tore down her defenses with a well placed warp.
Javik and Kaidan had been in Xandra's hospital room watching over the woman while Garrus was off at the combined Turian and Quarian camp to try and settle a dispute between the two species that had erupted with Tali's help. Unfortunately racial tensions were high as the Alliance scrambled to try and figure out how to get everyone to their home planets. Asari were claiming that the humans were favoring the Turians and Quarians while the Turians were pointing out that since they couldn't eat the same food as humans and Asari, let alone the Krogans, they should be given priority. The Quarians, however, were running out of medical supplies and were in a panic over suit ruptures and lack of antibiotic fluids. The Geth who were on the planet were trying to help the Quarians adjust but could only do so much. It wasn't until movement coming from Xandra's direction interrupted them that they realized that maybe those were the least of their problems at the moment. Javik tensed up in preparation for the attack he could see in Xandra's eyes while Kaidan tried to say her name in attempts to get her to recognize who they were before she attacked at all. Thanks to Javik's quick thinking he was able to recover from the shockwave she threw faster and went on the defensive. Of course, since he only had so much patience, he did end up hurting her in the end before Kaidan brought them to a stand still. The fight had triggered several alarms, not to mention the fact that Xandra had ended up tearing out her IV and the monitoring equipment when she'd quickly rolled out of bed. Staff came quickly, finding Javik and Kaidan working together to keep the Stasis in place before Xandra broke loose, but it was only a matter of time. Arguing over what the hell to do about her newer injuries without risking more lives was soon to sprout before the stasis finally shattered and Xandra's amp released a sudden blast of energy that knocked out damn near everyone in the room. She shattered a window in her desperation to escape and jumped out, using her biotics to prevent any injuries on landing. She only had a medical gown on, but she didn't seem to care as she darted behind a half ruined wall of a nearby building when she heard more alarms sound in the hospital in response to her escape. Species of all kinds flooded out of the hospital and started to search while an injured Javik ran off in the direction of the Turian/Quarian camp to find Garrus and warn him that Xandra was gone and still not fully healed. Not to mention in questionable mental health, but she may try to find someone familiar in spite of that.
"Look, Councilor, we know that the Asari want to return to Thessia as soon as possible but so many ships were destroyed in orbit we can't gather enough together to get all of you out there right now!" Garrus snapped in frustration from where he stood beside the Primarch. His Primarch might be unable to loose his temper due to his position but Garrus had no such limitations. Before the Asari Councilor could retort, however, Garrus saw a flicker of movement behind her and slightly to the right. With how fresh the remains of the Reapers on Earth still were he couldn't exactly be blamed for pushing her out of the way immediately just as a biotic pull was shot out from where that shadow had hidden. Garrus, the Councilor, and the Primarch were in a remote corner of the camp but he was yanked over to the hiding spot of whoever it was within seconds. Garrus had his assault rifle already pulled and aimed before he realized exactly who he was about to pull the trigger on. A breath escaped him as if it had been punched out of him before he found his voice.
"Xandra? What the hell are you doing out of the hospital?" Garrus demanded in a worried tone before he really looked at her eyes. Her human eye, not the cybernetic one, was empty of anything human at all. She looked... well, insane, but desperate. Why would she come here, though? How would she know where he'd been? "Xandra, can you hear me? Do you recognize me?" Garrus asked as he lowered his weapon and used his free hand to reach over and grab her outstretched hand. She stood over him, glowing in a biotic corona, and her breathing was frantic and erratic.
"Garrus... I know you. I remember you." She finally managed to find the words that had been escaping her. "Where am I? Why is everything so silent?" She asked and she almost sounded like a child who'd been left in the dark with the monsters. Garrus sat up before tugging her carefully into his lap.
"You're with me now, Xan, and it isn't silent because I'm talking to you, right?" He questioned and she nodded almost nervously. He could hear the Primarch and Councilor heading his way with more people, likely reinforcements and he gestured for them to stay back. God only knew how Xandra would react to too many people at once. "Did you wake up again when I was gone?" Another nod, and he sighed. "I'm sorry, Xan, I shouldn't have left your side. I had thought Javik and Kaidan could handle it, but apparently I was wrong. I won't do it again." He breathed and she trembled before all the tension finally left her. When Javik managed to track him down there was a circle of Turian soldiers keeping people away and he had to threaten them in his own language before they finally let him pass. Xandra was curled up in Garrus' lap, asleep again, but Garrus had her blood on him from where her arm had been bleeding from the IV being torn out and he looked terrified. He glanced up at the Prothian and just shook his head, indicating that he wasn't ready to let her go, or even talk about what had happened when she found him. Javik instead found some bandages and helped Garrus stop her bleeding before sitting beside the man and waiting.
Chapter 5: Scarred Past
Anderson describes not only his first time meeting Shepard but his memories of her past reguarding the death of her parents. Shepard also has nightmares of her past in the colony she'd grown up with all the way to the day her parents were murdered.
In this chapter I describe my personal head-canon on Shepard's childhood and the day she met Anderson all the way to the relationship Shepard and Anderson have.
"Daddy, what's the Alliance?" Xandra asked softly as she sat with her father on the front porch of their home. Out here on the farm all she knew was chores and the animals they raised, only getting to talk to others when the neighbors came to visit. The 'Frontier' the neighbors called it. Apparently something called the 'Alliance' was coming to visit at the end of the week.
"They're like... they're like the sheep dogs who help keep us safe from predators, kiddo. Once in a while they visit us to make sure no predators come sniffing around." Her father answered before taking a drag from his cigarette and glancing at her. "Why you askin'? Because of what the neighbors said?" He inquired and she flushed darkly in embarassment. Her father always did manage to see through her easily.
"Yeah, they didn't seem to like them very much. Made them sound like bad people who don't care if we get hurt." She murmured softly and her father reached over with one hand to ruffle her hair gently, that one gesture providing worlds of comfort.
"Eh, don't listen to the neighbor's grumping, the Alliance are good people, kiddo. Now it's getting late and you should head inside to get ready for bed. I'll introduce you to Captain Anderson when he shows up with his crew, don't you worry. You'll like 'em, they're nice and they care." He promised and Xandra's smile was brighter than the sunset before she headed inside without complaint.
"Xandra, where are you?" She heard her mother calling desperately. There were fires everywhere, she could hear screaming and rough voices using alien languages. The attack happened the same day the Alliance was supposed to arrive, and aliens came out of weird ships to burn the farms and either kill or capture the people within. Children were being taken rather than adults, though, so word desperately spread and parents tried to hide their children in hopes that the Alliance would find them and keep them safe after they died.
"Mom? Dad?" Xandra cried out, coughing roughly from the smoke burning her lungs. Her whole world was going up in flames, her childhood burning, and her family with it. Her father had grabbed the gun he'd kept over the mantle when the neighbors came with the warning that children were being taken, and he handed it to her rather than use it himself. She knew how to fire the gun, of course, but her father was far more proficiant with it. She ran out of the barn where she'd been huddled with what few animals hadn't fled and saw her mother and father surrounded by the aliens. She didn't think, she acted, because she couldn't loose her parents, not like this.
"Xandra, no!" Her father warned before she fired the gun and a haze of blue light covered her body. Her very skin felt like it was trying to crawl away from her, to run away and leave her alone in this horror. Blood splattered, a grenade went off, and suddenly more gunfire joined her. Then... silence.
"Daddy?" She managed to force the word out even if her vision was swimming and her mind foggy. She ran forward, gun still in hand, only for arms to wrap around her. She screamed in fear and rage, that blue haze returning only for an unfamilar, but human, voice to call out an unfamilar name. It wasn't long from there that everything went black.
"Her heart rate is too high, I don't care if she attacks when she wakes up, we have to do something!" Someone was yelling in frustration. Their voice had an echo, unlike the aliens who burned her home. It was... comforting, soothing even, and reminded her of how it felt when her father used to ruffle her hair.
"If you wake her we might not be strong enough to supress her biotics, I'm the only one here who has the ability to throw her in a stasis and I'm not very good at that trick." Another voice, this one rougher like her father's, from drinking or maybe smoking. Possibly both. It was even human.
"Stop arguing, she's waking up either way! Major Alenko, you need to think less with your heart and more with your head right now, and Garrus... stop yanking the Major's chain, it helps no one." She knew this voice, it was the same one from that night, the night she killed aliens and was surrounded by blue.
"Captain Anderson..." Xandra whispered and the voices all stopped and silence returned. Silence, it was maddening, she needed to hear the voices. Her eyes opened and one of them seemed... off. Like the colors were wrong, but it wasn't distracting enough to get her to ignore the silence. "Too quiet, quiet like after the gunfire, after the blood splattered all over me..." She whimpered and Captain Anderson stepped into her line of sight, his face full of concern. "Where's Daddy? What happened to him?" She breathed and Anderson tensed up, remembering those words as if it were from yesterday. She'd woken on his ship, panicked and seeking the comfort of her parents.
"I'm sorry, we were too late for them, but we weren't too late for you." Anderson repeated his response from back then as well, because even now it wasn't too late to save her. He refused to believe that. "Your father would've wanted me to help you, Xandra. He was a good friend of mine. Just like you are now."
"Wait, her father? You mean-" Garrus started to ask before he saw the raw pain in Xandra's natrual eye, because the cybernetic implant was just a prototype right now. "Ah, I see it now. Xandra, you were dreaming." He sighed softly, his subvocals showing the emotional distress that humans could so rarely see in his expression. He stepped up and offered a hand, feeling a flood of relief when she took it in her own. Kadain was standing by the door, more or less present because last time Xandra woke she'd been violent. Xandra ended up moving Garrus' hand to her hair, confusing the Turian before Kadain made a soft noise to get his attention before showing the gesture Xandra wanted him to make. Garrus mimicked it and ruffled his mate's hair, watching with facination as she practically melted back against the hospital bed.
"She must've been having a nightmare that caused her heart rate to go so high. I remember that day well, it was... no kid should see that kind of thing. Not a lot of kids survived it either, but Xandra did, mostly. She lost a piece of herself that day, and it took a long time to get her to talk after those first two questions when she woke on my ship. Not to mention she ended up following me around like a baby duck." Anderson whispered but as Garrus continued to thread his talons through Xandra's hair she didn't show any indication she was listening to what he was actually saying.
"I remember watching the news vids in training, it was ugly. It was being used as a warning for humans planning to move to one of the more outlying colonies in the Traverse too, not to mention that a majority of the kids who survived had biotics. Xandra being one of them, of course, but also the most powerful of them. The theory was that the fight or flight response, adrenaline, and emotional tradgety combined to activate her otherwise dormant biotic ability." Kaidan interjected and Garrus made a noise in the back of her throat.
"Yeah, we were briefed on it in the Turian military when it happened, but for us it was a warning of how humans respond in dangerous situations. A lot of those kids ended up picking up weapons, any weapon, to defend themselves. My comannder at the time said 'Remember this when you see some human kid or old lady. Both or equally capable of pulling a trigger'." Garrus huffed.
"Xandra's father apparently gave her his assult rifle and had her hide in the barn. He got a message through to me before all communication with the colony was cut, saying something was wrong and fires were burning in all directions in sight of their farm. She obviously didn't have the greatest of aim but she killed about four Batarians that day alone before my team and I found her. A combination of a biotic lift field and a lot of bullets." Anderson recalled.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures." Garrus sighed as he looked to the woman beneath his hand. She was leaning into his gentle touch, probably remembering her father's hand when he used to do something similar. "Her whole life has revolved around war and the military. Though... she followed you around as a kid after you saved her? Does that mean she imprinted on you like a duck too?" He asked in an amused tone and it got both Anderson and Kaidan to laugh as well.
"Ha, I suppose she did at that. After all, she joined the military the second she was old enough, and did mirror a lot of my combat and leadership tactics. Minus her biotics, of course, I couldn't help her with those. I think her biotic instructor was an Asari in fact." Anderson mused and Garrus seemed surprised.
"I know the relationship between humans and Turians are strained at best, but an Asari? Why not a human?" Garrus asked and Anderson just shrugged.
"Shepard does best with those she's most comfortable with, and she met her instructor once when I was on the Citadel and she was following me like usual. Her instructor thought she was adorable and was impressed when Shepard was revealed as a biotic. She's about Kaidain's level in power, and that's without an L2 implant, after all." Anderson murmured before Xandra's eyes finally focused again and honed in on the Turian above her. Garrus was concerned for a moment that she was going to attack him once again only for her eyes to flutter closed.
"If I'm dead I don't want to be brought back to life again. This... this is nice. Almost as nice as that bar we talked about, Garrus." Xandra breathed softly and Garrus realized this was his chance to question her about what she'd been rambling about earlier.
"This is going to sound weird, babe, but can you tell me about the God Child?" Garrus asked in a gentle tone as he leaned down to be more at eye level with her.
"The... God Child? It was on the Conduit, it looked like the boy who died on Earth. The boy from my nightmares, the one I couldn't save." Shepard rambled without hesitation before she continued in a distant tone. "He wouldn't leave me alone, never left me alone. He reminded me of all my failures, the ghosts of the other people I failed. Of Ashley, of all the people who died on the Asari home world, of the humans killed in the Reaper invasion of Earth, of everyone." She murmured before Garrus helped her lie back on the bed as her eyes fluttered in an attempt to stay open.
"Sounds familiar. Too familiar." Anderson whispered and her eyes flickered to him before going back to Garrus.
"He told me that I'd die no matter what I chose. Destruction, Control, or Synthesis, it didn't matter what it was, I'd be just as dead. I asked myself, what would Garrus do if he were here?" She chuckled tiredly before her eyes finally stayed closed. "And I decided you'd tell me to kick some synthetic ass, so I picked Destruction. The last thing I heard was the sound of hundreds of Reapers dying before maddening silence."
"Of course I would tell you to kick some synthetic ass, Shepard." Garrus agreed and she smiled before drifting back into a fitful sleep. Once he was sure he wouldn't wake her he retracted his hand and glanced over to Anderson. "Indoctrination. I shouldn't be surprised, after all, how many times was she exposed to the Reapers? And for how long?" He questioned and both Anderson and Kaidan couldn't argue with him. The problem they were now left with was how they would fix it.