The mission started off without a hitch. It was simple, wipe out a few Blue Suns and grab the intel the Council needed. The base didn't even look too big from the shuttle, nor did it seem particularly imposing from the inside.
Most of the battles were quickly won. Garrus and Shepard almost made it through the whole base before things took a turn. One of the mercs had gotten smart. He knew he and his fellow mercenaries were not going to make it with the way the pair had mowed through the rest of the Suns in the base. He did something that would stop Shepard and Garrus in their place, even if he would not be getting out either. He was the loyal type, which would serve to hinder the pair.
This firefight took place in a small room with a single exit. The merc ducked behind cover and let loose an EMP blast, disabling all tech in the vicinity. Only Shepard’s cybernetics were left functional, Miranda having given her the best of the best when she revived her.
Shepard found she could no longer access her omnitool to send out her drone or sabotage her enemies. She adapted, relying on her gun and approaching the remaining mercs for closer combat. Garrus had to rely solely on his own senses to line up shots, his visor now offline. The sudden lack of tech was a nuisance in battle, but one they could easily overcome. It was after the last mercenary fell, the turian who had hidden after he triggered the blast, that the bigger problems became apparent.
The door to the room had been shut. Without power, it would need to be forcibly pried open. They didn't have the tools needed for it on their side and, as Shepard tried the comms, she found she could reach no one. She scanned the room trying to come up with a solution. “Got any ideas, Garrus?” He was pretty good at thinking outside the box, she imagined he would already have a few approaches to this problem. Instead, he gave her a bewildered look. “Huh. Guess not.” She gave him a funny look back, wondering what was wrong.
Then he opened his mouth. That smooth, dual-toned voice of his was what she expected. Instead, out came unintelligible noises. It was a blend of harmonizing frequencies overlaying a deeper tone that sounded somewhat familiar. None of the sounds he made were ones any human could pronounce and she was sure there were even more frequencies in his subvocals that she could not hear. He sounded almost musical, although some tones in his voice grated a bit on her ears. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, but definitely very strange.
Communication seemed to be out, at least verbally. Shepard had taught her crew hand signals during firefights, but she had no use for ordering Garrus to get to cover or to watch her left flank in this situation. They weren't on a battlefield, they were locked in a room with no power and no working technology. She didn't have a hand signal for this. If Garrus had any ideas, she couldn't ask him for them. One, he wouldn't understand her question. Two, she wouldn't understand his answer.
Shepard paced around the room, wracking her brain. She would have to come up with their escape on her own or hope Garrus could. She tried her omnitool again, to no avail. Those doors were heavy, even with her cybernetic enhancements, she couldn't force them open. At least, not without a starting point. There wasn't enough space between them for her to work with. She'd try explosives, but earlier in the fight a Blue Sun did set one off near the door. It only forced Garrus to move to a different cover, having left the door unscathed. Maybe all of their explosives at once could do it, but she didn't want to blow themselves up in the process.
She stopped her pacing and looked to Garrus again. He was looking right at her, concerned. At least she knew him well enough to read all of his facial expressions by now, that was a plus. But not helpful for their situation. She went to start pacing again but was quickly stopped. Garrus was pulling her into him, pushing her face to his neck and nuzzling the side of her head. His fingers rubbed soothingly through her hair and on her shoulder. She sighed and melted against him. Clearly, he could read her expressions, too.
Garrus didn't say anything, just held her against him. Shepard closed her eyes and took the moment to clear her head. She then pushed away just enough to look into his eyes and smile at him. He smiled back and stroked her cheek. Then he ruined it by trying to say something. Shepard raised an eyebrow, still not sure whether she actually liked the sound of his real voice or not. Garrus chuckled, and even that sounded a bit different, again, more frequencies blending together than she was used to. But maybe she kind of liked it.
“How are we going to get out of this, G?” She looked to him as if he actually would know. He merely pressed his mouth plates to her forehead in a practiced mock kiss. He then looked away, deep in thought. He wasn't really looking at anything in particular, off in his own mind, but Shepard followed his gaze nonetheless. Then her eyes continued to trace the upper wall until she found something. A vent, a teeny tiny vent that was too small for Garrus to fit through and too high for her to reach. She wasn't looking forward to this but at least she knew what to do now.
Shepard tapped Garrus’s arm and then pointed to the vent. He looked between her and it and nodded. Shepard stepped away and began stripping down to her undersuit. The less bulk she had, the less unpleasant this would be. When she was ready, she motioned for Garrus to lift her.
Prying the vent off prove a little difficult, it wasn't easy to do without any tools to assist her. But her cybernetics did offer an advantage and with a couple of harsh tugs, she managed to yank it free, almost losing her balance on Garrus’s shoulders and cowl. But his hands were right there on her thighs, keeping her from going anywhere.
Getting through the vent didn't take long, although it had been cramped and unpleasant. She had to pry the vent cover off the other end as well, then she made it out.
Outside of that room, her tech had not magically been fixed. But she was in the hallway now and could search around the base, although the room she and Garrus had been trapped in was not the only one that had been sealed shut. She took one long look at the door Garrus was still stuck behind before she walked through the halls, on her way back towards the entrance. Far from the room, closer to the base entrance, she stopped and examined one of the mercs they had killed earlier. His body had been far enough away from the blast and his tech was still working. Shepard hacked into his omnitool and then into her own comms.
“-read me. I repeat, Shepard, do you read me. Is anyone on these shitty comms anymore?” Joker was on the other end and she could finally understand someone. Her translator was still shut down, she and Joker just spoke the same language.
“Yes, Joker. I’m here.” Shepard felt relieved being able to talk with him. “There was an EMP blast, Garrus and I got trapped behind a powered down door and we couldn't use our comms. He's still trapped and needs rescuing.”
“Geez, Shepard, this was just supposed to be routine. How do you two always manage to get into this type of shit.” From there, Shepard and Joker worked out the details. Joker sent crewmen to assist in opening the door, all humans who spoke English. That way Shepard could speak with them. With her translator down, she would only be able to give orders but not understand any replies in a different language.
The seal of the door was cut through, then forced open, finally freeing Garrus. Back on the Normandy, Dr. Chakwas looked them over and engineer Daniels assisted in replacing their translators. “All set!” She beamed at Garrus when she finished, having gotten to Shepard’s first.
He grinned back at her, “I can finally understand someone. Thank you.” He met Shepard’s gaze and smiled, wide and toothy. “Now I don't have to hear you sound like a proius, anymore.”
“You better hope I don't look up whatever unflattering creature you just compared me to.” Shepard tried to glare at him, but it was hard, she was just too pleased to be able to talk to him again. She was absolutely going to be running an extranet search later, though.
Garrus grew serious, got up and walked across the medbay to sit by Shepard. “Is it weird to say I missed you? Because I did.” He took her hand between his and squeezed. Now Shepard couldn't even try to glare, instead biting back a soft smile.
“No, it's not weird. I missed you, too.” She kissed his mandible, chaste, as they were not alone in the room. Chakwas and Daniels merely grinned at each other, finding the pair sweet. Then Daniels was leaving, complaining about whatever mess of the core she imagined Donnelly made while she was absent.
“You two are free to go.” Chakwas had seen nothing amiss with their health and had no reason to keep them in her medbay.
“Good, I have a hell of a report to write.” The crew had searched the base after the rescue, however, the intel they needed had been stored digitally on a terminal and had been destroyed in the EMP blast. They also needed to replace their omnitools and comms. Luckily Shepard and Garrus had backed everything up on their terminals. Even Garrus’s visor was totally dead now. He’d definitely still hold on to it for memories sake, but he was going to need a new, functional one now.
Shepard was going to address all of that very soon, but by the way she tugged Garrus’s hand as they left the room, it was obvious they would take a moment for themselves first. She just wanted to talk with him for a while, appreciate that familiar voice again. Maybe they would even try turning off their translators from time to time, so that their real voices could become just as familiar one day. As much of a hindrance and failure this mission had turned out to be, Shepard was happy to find a new way to get to know Garrus even better. By the way he squeezed her hand back, she knew they were on the same page.