Alright, so having read LL3 and made some connections to what we know about Anode now, I have a new theory about her. I was half-right with my last theory and, taking some new revelations in mind, something occurred to me. Actually, this is more a theory about Lug, but it’s heavily dependent on Anode.
A future, to-be-expanded chapter of my Eliza Shepard alphabet fic, in honor of all the Sole Survivors out there.
Shepard, Garrus was learning, had a damn strange sense of humor. Maybe it was a human thing, maybe it was a Spectre thing – he couldn’t be sure. All he knew was that he called her “commander” exactly once after the Normandy left the Citadel, and after her face very clearly said fresh meat, she referred to him as “Officer Garrus Vakarian, formerly of C-Sec” for a solid week.
“I didn’t quit,” he reminded her, as they bumped along in the Mako. Wrex snored nearby, so for all intents and purposes, this was a private conversation. The first, he realized, gripping his safety harness a little tighter.
She swore under her breath and gunned the thrusters; somewhere under his feet, the Mako whined, and Garrus started making a mental checklist of everything he’d need to repair when they got back. “So you keep telling me,” she said, once the Mako sprang free of the waist-deep mud and plunged forward. “I didn’t know C-Sec let you take leaves of absence.”
“It’s not common,” Garrus said, definitely not thinking about Pallin’s expression – and the specific phrasing the Executor used – when he’d requested a leave to work with the First Human Spectre. “But it does happen. I think I made a strong case.”
Shepard laughed, an unexpectedly light and clear sound over the roar of the engines. “I bet you did, Garrus. You were chomping at the bit to go after Saren long before I showed up. So tell me – how’s that working out so oh for fuck’s sake.”
The Mako had stalled again, wheels whirring in the stinking mud that Garrus could smell even through four layers of air filters.
“We’re going to break an axle if this keeps up,” Shepard said. She grimaced and scratched at her amp. “Want to come get some air and check it out?”
“The atmosphere’s toxic, comma – sure, Shepard,” Garrus replied. She gave him a smug look as she sealed her helmet, but kept any other comments to herself.
“Keep an eye on things, Wrex,” Shepard called as she unsealed the hatch.
Wrex, who hadn’t bothered to take his helmet off to begin with, shrugged a little deeper in his seat and kept snoring.
“Ass,” Shepard muttered over the comms, with what sounded suspiciously like affection to Garrus, and swung outside.
A few rocks dotted the muddy plains, which meant Garrus didn’t need to slog through the mud but got to skip around like a kid instead. Shepard managed to look both graceful and efficient as she moved, never once off-balance or over-cautious.
Garrus watched her check the Mako over with the usual stew of emotions in his gut: admiration, a fierce urge to start an argument for no good reason, pride that he got picked to work alongside her, confusion over all her idiosyncracies, and a thick wash of envy. Why her, instead of him?
He tried to remind himself his time would come – and a good working relationship with a Spectre would only help when it did – but the envy stayed put. It didn’t help that Shepard did everything so confidently, whether that was kicking mud off the Mako’s axle or taking down a geth colossus.
At least she deserves to be a Spectre, he told himself, and bent to start cleaning off the rear axles.
The stones under his feet vibrated, faint enough that he could blame it on the engines, but Shepard jerked upright at the edge of his vision, her head whipping back and forth as she scanned the horizon.
“Shepard?” he asked. She ignored him. He couldn’t read her face through her visor, but a fine tension rode her shoulders, set her spine steel-straight. “What is it?”
The vibration changed – it deepened, widened, until the Mako shuddered and the mud churned at his feet.
Shepard made a choked noise, barely audible over the engines and the vibration, and reached over her shoulder. Not for her shotgun, Garrus noticed, his gut clenching, but her never-used assault rifle.
“Shepard!” he shouted, as the ground opened up fifty meters ahead of them.
She screamed and opened fire.
To the day he died, long after he knew the truth, Garrus remembered her scream. It didn’t sound like any sound a living throat could make, and it went on and on until it was all he could hear, and by the time he figured out that he was hearing the maw’s shriek along with Shepard, she was shoving him back inside the hatch.
“Get – get on the guns!” she yelled, throwing herself into the driver’s seat. Wrex was already raking the maw with machine gun fire, and Garrus heaved himself behind the grenade launcher controls. It was damn near impossible to aim with Shepard zig-zagging across the plain and the maw’s acid spattering less than a meter away, but he managed more than a few hits he was proud of, later.
When the maw’s body finally hit the ground, and stayed there, Shepard didn’t stop. She kept driving, her hands so tight on the wheel Garrus wondered that he couldn’t hear them creaking, and over the comms he heard the high, whining note of her breathing.
So the great Commander Shepard’snot always so confident, he thought, to make himself feel better. It didn’t help. He stared at the back of her helmet, listened to Wrex mutter about not getting enough action, and remembered one word.
This maw didn’t count for his kill list, Garrus decided. The next one, definitely – but this one, this one he’d forget.
Slowly, Shepard’s breathing went back to normal, but her hands stayed tight on the wheel, all the way back to the Normandy.
what she means:
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