Garrus was pleased with the progress the Normandy had made. And the single night away had given Jane the chance to clear her head and figure out the final issues of EDI’s systems. It proved anyone needed a break when stuck on a problem.
The systems came up slowly but everyone, Joker most of all, sagged in relief as EDI’s voice filtered through the ship. Unfortunately, her mobile unit was out of commission but she had enough control of the ships system to give the organics a break and make take off easier. Garrus left it up to Joker to fill her in on the battle data and current situation that her backed up self would not have knowledge of. At least EDI was able to fill in gaps with possible hypothesis as to what exactly happened.
Once leaving the planet they were able to set up some old method of communications and reached other vessels, that had made it to the meeting point. Those ships had made contact with Earth.
Garrus was in contact with a turian general, and the damage seemed insurmountable. Ships limping, those that made it, relays damaged, lifeless Reapers and their armies of horrors littering almost every homeworld and large colonies. But they would find a way.
Jane came into the room, green eyes aflame, gasping. The twins had been woken roughly and began to cry, twisting in her scarf. “Have they heard about Johnny?”
Garrus glanced at the general, he had just finished explaining the ruined state of the Citadel, and he dreaded what the other turian would add to the report.
The general glance around, uneasy. “I… I’m sorry ma’am. But reports are saying they haven’t found his body… But his last location on the Citadel was destroyed as it crashed to earth. Chances are not good.”
All light and hope left her eyes, and she sagged heavily, Garrus was barely able to catch her, as her knees gave out. It was always a strong possibility, but she clung to hope. Now it was all she could do to cling to the upset twins as Garrus’ subvocals cried out with the generals at seeing her break down.
“Thank you general. Our engines are functional and depending on the state of the Relay we’ll try to head to Earth. Send word, we hope to be there in a week, maybe more.”
“Of course sir, safe travels.” and the general cut the link giving them privacy.
Reaching down, Garrus lifted Jane’s exhausted body and took her to the safety of their room. There he sat on the bed, holding her as she held onto the twins and cried. It was so much like when held her after learning her identity and relationship to his best friend. Slowly he rocked her, still holding them as they fell asleep.
There was to be a public memorial for John and the others on Earth, and they decided to wait for the Normandy to limp back. It was only right for all the surviving crew to be present. But Garrus felt like the crew needed a moment to mourn their commander in private, to show their real emotions before facing the public.
When he found himself in the middle of the crew, holding to the simple name, Garrus wasn’t sure what to say. John had given them so much to believe in, would him being gone mean all his ideals would disappear too?
The moment was broken as the door to his room opened, and Jane stepped out. Garrus wasn’t sure she’d join. She had retreated into herself after learning the news. Staying locked up in their room, sitting on the floor unless he was there to put her in bed. Taking care of the twins but not saying a word.
Now she stood with the others, face frozen into an expressionless emotion. But her eyes burned with grief and love for her family. Nodding he tightened his grip on the strip of metal and placed it on the memorial wall with all the others. Turning he found a wide range of emotions. Tali trembling, Taylor trying not to cry, Joker showing his frailness for once, Vega standing stiffly in the back. No one was unaffected by it, but Garrus was sure they would take up John’s flag of unity. They would remain strong.
Looking at the memorial, Garrus read all the names silently, remember every one of them from the SR1 and others lost in the war. Finally, he stopped at Commander Shepard. It was hard to believe the self-assured human, and all he’d done. There was no way he’d ever truly leave the Normandy or its people. At least now he could rest knowing everyone he loved was safe.
Garrus was beyond pleased to see Jane out of their room, she had been more active since their little memorial. And this would be a joyful moment, the naming of their children with Sol and his father present through a comm call.
Stepping into the comm room they were greeted by the holo of his remaining family.
“Garrus, Jane. It’s good to see you safe.” His father smiled through the link.
Jane gave a small smile, it spoke of how happy she was given the past week.
Sol was almost bouncing up and down in excitement. “Yes, but please, can we see my niece and nephew?!”
Garrus chuckled and held up the sleepy boy into view, and Jane held up his wide-eyed daughter, taking in the first look at turians besides Garrus.
Sol almost reached out to touch them, forgetting they were only holos.
“They are surprisingly turian in looks” His father commented, still smiling. “And strong and healthy. Congratulations. I hope their birth wasn’t too strenuous.”
Sol nodded in agreement, “How old are they?”
Jane answered, “Seven weeks. They were born during the retreat from the battle.”
“Well, they do not lack dramatic timing,” Garrus’ father chuckled. “So, what were you considering for names?”
Garrus was thrilled they had been able to perform this part of turian tradition, it made it clear he still had some family. “Well, humans have two given names. So we need four.” The pair nodded and he continued, “We were thinking of Tarquin John for the boy.” John was obvious, but many now knew of the Primarch son’s sacrifice and it seemed fitting he would carry both names.
His father nodded, “Good names to live up to. ANd my granddaughter?”
“Terra Hannah,” Jane said quietly, “Hannah was my mother’s name.”
For the first time in many years, Garrus saw his father soften in a way he only did for his mate. “I’m sure she’ll live up to those names as well.”
Sole spoke, her voice slightly raw sounding. “Thank you, mom would have been honored.”
Jane held Terra closer to her breast. “I’m only sorry they didn’t get to meet all of them, but we can do this much at least.”
The family continued speaking, catching up on their current duties. Sol and their father were back on Palaven, working to rebuild. His father mentioned they’d need both their expertise if they decided to return. Garrus had yet to pull Jane from her grief long enough to discuss it but promised they would consider it.
Their time was cut short due to other duties, but the new parents promised to send vids and pictures of the newest Vakarians as soon as possible.
Jane felt like a piece of fragile glass, one wrong movement or word and she would shatter in front of the eyes of the entire galaxy watching her brothers memorial. There was a large amount of pomp and circumstance, more speeches and twenty-one gun salutes. More attention than Johnny would have wanted, but everyone else needed this to mourn him. Jane wasn’t sure if she’d ever find closure.
The crowd was surrounding a large obelisk, the Normandy crew in the front row. The monument was not only for Johnny but also the other who lost their lives in the final battle. At least it wasn’t a statue of him, her brother would have hated it and that alone may have brought him back from the dead to blow it up.
The thought of that almost made Jane laugh but she squashed it. Having to keep up the stoic look as they finished folding the Alliance flag. One of the generals handed it to her and the turian councilor handed the Spectre plack, showing Johnny’s service to them.
Jane kept control of her features, standing with the items, wearing a black dress, the only color, a slash of blue of her colony marks and the twins scarf. It was a blessing no one questioned their presence. It was rumored Jane lost her child and they adopted two turian children found in the aftermath. And since it was a touchy subject, everyone was happy to assume the rumor and didn’t pry. After all hybrids were impossible.
Hackett took his turn at the podium, murmurs becoming hushed.
“The war is over. The Reapers have been defeated.” He stated solemnly. “Against all odds and the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known, we survived. We suffered many losses. The Relays are severely damaged but we won. This victory belongs to each of us, every man, woman, and child. Every civilization, on every world.” He took a moment to look at the crowd of all the species.
“Now as we take our first steps to restoring what we lost, we must remember what it took to win. This wasn’t a victory by a single fleet, a single army, or even a single species. If this war has taught us anything, it is that we are at our strongest when we work together. And if we can put down our grievances long enough to stop something as powerful as the Reapers, imagine what we can do now that they are defeated. It will take time but we could rebuild everything that was destroyed. Our homes. Our worlds, Our fleets, and defenses. All of this and more. Together we could rebuild a future greater than any one of us could imagine. A future paid for by the sacrifices by those who fought and died alongside us. A future that many will never see.” He paused a moment, letting it sink in.
“And while we still have many challenges ahead of us, we can face them together. And we will honor those who died to give us that future.”
It was a good speech and gave the message Johnny had been fighting for through all of this. Jane listened carefully and clutched the flag and plaque. Garrus wrapped a long arm around her. Jane’s part was done, she just had to hold it through to the end, and he was there supportive as always trying to keep her in one piece physically. Once they got on the transport to Palaven she could take time to fall apart before taking on the task of rebuilding.
They already had jobs lined up. Caitus made arrangements for Garrus to join a task force to remake the local enforcement and she would work with the engineers, using her knowledge of enviro systems from her time with Anew.
Her hearing returned to hear the finishing choruses and cheers of joy. Looking around there was a small sense of hope, knowing that her brother managed to bring all these people together.
They exited Normandy for the last time, Jane focusing slowly on putting one step in front of the other, but was stopped by a pair of Geth at the end of the gangway. There were mobile units like Legion sans N7 armor. She had heard a few ships from the flotilla had volunteered to go out to the station the Geth had created a supersized Lifeboat that held backups of all their programs. To be honest she was surprised until Tali told her of the sympathizing factions of Quarians that had formed. They had been livid learning what their ancestors had down and wished to make up for the Morning War. Finding enough functional units for the newly awakened Geth had been difficult, and the Quarians stepped up again and volunteered to host them in their suits. Which based on the same tech were compatible. Obviously these two had found some available bodies.
Garrus stepped in front of Jane and the children protectively, unsure of what to expect.
The pair focused past him and looked to Jane, asking “Shepard Vakarian?”
Jane nodded slowly, “Yes, but its just Vakarian now. Shepard isn’t my surname.”
“Yes.” They said in unison.
“So no Shepard.”
“No. Shepard is your title.” The leading one stated as if it was just that simple.
Jane brow furrowed in confusion. “A title?”
The unit nodded after thinking about it a moment, “Yes, for those who did a service for the Geth, in honor of the Shepard Commander.”
Well, that explained why they always referred to her brother as Shepard Commander. “Why do I have it?”
“For giving us the Lifeboat protocol and for telling the Galaxy about our side of the Morning War. We would have been wiped out without it. In return, the Geth wish to provide us to be put into your service for protection for you and your family.”
Looking at Garrus, she found he was just as confused as she. “But we are citizens of the Hierarchy.”
“Yes. But the Geth wish to repay you for your services.”
Garrus leaned back, crossing his arms. “Looks like you inherited John’s fan club, Jane.
Jane threw him a glare but thought it over. Having another pair of eyes would help, who knew what dangers there would be in this new galaxy. “Alright, as long as the Hierarchy has no issues, we accept.”
Garrus nodded in agreement, and scoffed, “I doubt they would deny us anything, and probably already have guards arranged for us as well.”
“What do we call you?” Jane asked.
They focused their headlamps, thinking. “We do not have designations organics normally use.”
Jane considered them for a moment, it’d be easy to call them Geth One and Two but impersonal. “Right. How about Archangel and Fury since you’ll be taking over our old jobs.”
Garrus nodded, liking the idea and without further instruction, Archangel and Fury fell into step behind them. It was time to go build their home and future.