Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 4

Take Two of These and Call Me from Orbit

I had a few more rounds with Joker while we trashed Cerberus, commiserated over how much we missed the old days (from about a week ago, as far as I was concerned), and worried about Garrus. I came back to find a message that he was resting and I should leave him alone for a few hours. Despite my reservations it was a relief that someone who knew both of us as well as Dr. Chakwas was taking care of him.

Next to Kaidan he’d been my closest friend. He’d left his job with Citadel Security, the police force for the heart of galactic government, to join my ragged little band in chasing Saren, the rogue Spectre who turned out to be a lot more than we’d ever anticipated. In the months that followed we’d bonded over sniper rifle chat and backed each other up on dozens of missions, both official and personal. How he’d gotten from sentient robot patrol with me in the outer reaches of the galaxy to super-vigilante on a black market piece of crap like the Omega station was a story I wanted to hear.

I took a nap and a hangover pill before I headed down to talk to check on Garrus. As I rounded the corner to the med bay I saw him step out, wearing his wrecked armor but otherwise looking much less dead. I danced a little jig right there in the mess hall for which Donnelly, who was enjoying a snack at the time, offered a round of applause. “Garrus!”

“Shepard.” He was playing it cool but I could see his eyes dancing as much as I had. I’d expected to find him unconscious and pathetic, not striding across my ship like he knew where the hell he was going. For the first time in days I didn’t feel like the entire universe had been sucked through a black hole and I was the only one who had noticed. If Garrus was with me then we’d fix everything else together. All we had to do was find Kaidan and save the galaxy again. Don’t they say that the first time is the hardest?

“Chakwas wouldn’t give me a mirror,” he complained. “How bad is it?” In truth the right side of his face bore a striking resemblance to something a varren had been eating but all of the parts appeared to be there except the bony plate that used to cover his cheek.

“You’re going to look the part with that wicked scar, Archangel.” I started walking back to the elevator. He laughed a bit, grunted in pain, and followed. “I don’t think I’ve laughed in two years, Shepard,” he said with relief and sadness “Everything went wrong so quickly without you; everything I fixed refused to stay that way. Maybe I can get back to feeling useful, now. We do have a mission, don’t we?”

“Of sorts,” I answered, “but we should find a quieter place to talk.” He looked around the elevator car as though I’d gone insane but a pointed glance at EDI’s terminal was enough to explain things. “I was going to stop in to see you on my way to a briefing. You up for another trip through Omega? I hear there are Vorcha in the way.”

“Yeah.” He suppressed the grin that started to stretch his face. “Let’s go kick some ass.” I grinned for both of us and we told Miranda to go file her nails while we took Jacob to fetch Solus. She gave me a look that told me exactly what she’d like to do with her nails but I just smiled sweetly. TIM had put me in charge and she was his puppy. Such team assignments were up to me. I checked Aria’s directions and headed out with the two men.

When we got to the entrance of the slums in which the doctor had his clinic a snag arose. It seemed that the plague decimating the non-human population of the quarter infected everyone but Humans and Vorcha and was particularly virulent. After the satisfying rejection I hated to send Garrus back and wait around for Miranda. I should have known he’d volunteer to go in with us anyway. While we’d reduced the mercenary population by half in our little escapade yesterday one of the bands, the Blue Suns, held this territory and were apparently duking it out with a bunch of Vorcha. Garrus chomped at the bit to do a little more clean-up and he told me that a little cough wasn’t going to keep him out of the action. I just hoped that the doctor lived up to the reports of his genius because I would kill him if he couldn’t keep Garrus from getting sick.

The three of us hacked our way through mercs and fang-faces alike, finding odd clues that pointed to the disease originating somewhere other than with good ol’ Mother Nature. General consensus said that the Vorcha weren’t smart enough to develop something to which they would be immune, at least not intentionally, but it sure looked like they were spreading whatever it was. We finally reached the clinic to discover the salarian scientist elbow deep in sick aliens and a cure sitting on a table. His rapid, clipped sentences washed over me but I got enough sense to understand his offer. He needed us to rescue his assistant and dump the powdered cure into the ventilation system as payment for his agreement to join us. That seemed like a pretty fair price, especially since he made sure Garrus would make it through the trip before we left.

Another dozen firefights later we’d sent the assistant scurrying back to the clinic and faced off with the vorcha terrorists who’d apparently been hired by the Collectors to spread this plague. They meant to kill off everyone on the station but the humans and themselves. It took about five solid minutes of spitting for them to get this information across. They really were very stupid creatures. They didn’t know or care what the point of this exercise was supposed to be so we put them out of our misery, cranked up the fans, and saved everyone. It had been a pretty satisfying day, all in all. When we got back to the clinic, the assistant freaked out because we’d killed the mercs that had kidnapped him. Before I could slap some sense into the man Mordin jumped in and told him in no uncertain terms what an ungrateful ass he was being. I liked the cranked-up Salarian already, regardless of my repeated desire to finish his sentences and help him get to the point.

I showed Mordin into the fancy new lab, another upgrade for the new ship that I was already beginning to think of as mine. I’d loved my SR-1 but I was quickly getting used to all of the new toys the SR-2 offered. Mordin seemed more than satisfied with the setup and promised to start hacking through the data we’d collected to date. Inspired, or at least shown up, by the scientist’s enthusiasm Garrus made his way to the main battery to see what he could do for our guns. He didn’t trust Cerberus to arm us well enough to fight back if they should decide to take us out and I couldn’t have agreed more. When we took off I wanted to know that TIM and his pals didn’t have a ship capable of spacing us all before we could engage the FTL drive. I ordered Joker to bail out of this pile and head for the mass relay to jump us to the Citadel. It was time to go home.

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