Mass Effect
"Foreign Relations"

Chapter Five: 1000 Ways To Die

Nov waited eagerly on the dock for the Normandy to put in. He'd gotten a message from her when they exited the relay and made to the dock in record time. By now the Citadel was jammed full of refugees seeking shelter and damaged warships with nowhere else to go. He saw the frigate dock and still had to wait for any type of approach. When he saw Sidda it was from a distance and she was in the black duty uniform, he liked the way she looked in that one. From what he could see she looked much better than when he last saw her. He could still see bruising but she was moving better. Her hair, still shorter than it was when he first met her thanks to Cerberus, was pinned back and off her collar. She was the only thing he ever needed and no matter what Sparatus told him he was going with her the next time she left. It was his duty as a mate to protect her and he'd failed miserably at that so far. No more.

"Sid!" he shouted as he noticed Garrus and Liara behind her on the steps. Isla would be pleased now knowing Garrus was collected. Sidda heard her name and bounded to him with a smile. "Hey, Beautiful." He said quietly as he pulled her into a hug.

She was just as happy to see him safe a sound. She had news that was going to rock his world but she missed him dearly. "I am so sorry I left like that."

He held onto her still. "Don't worry about that. You're back now." He replied and then released her from the hug. "Back and safe." He added before kissing her.

The kiss blocked out the outside world for a moment and then it ended. It was so good to be back with him but her mistake hung on her shoulders. "I need to tell you about something but I need to see the Council first."

"No problem." He replied and looked over her shoulder to see three more unexpected Turians come off the Normandy. None of them were Fedorian. "Where's Fedorian?"

"Fedorian is dead. The Primarch is Adrien." She answered as Victus came to a stop with Cerrus and Ruvvak about five feet from them.

Nov reaction was pretty much on par with everyone else's. Victus being the new Primarch was a head scratcher, he was never the favorite and he didn't play by the rules. "Primarch Victus? At any other time that might seem strange."

Victus heard him and shook his head. "Nope. Still strange." He said as he still couldn't believe it himself. "Commander, we can't stay here long."

Sidda nodded to him. "I'll have Cortez make sure the supplies are loaded."

"Sergeant, assist." Victus ordered Ruvvak.

"Yes, Sir."

"Commander, the Council." Victus reminded and Sidda turned to Nov.

"Go. Find me in the Spectre office after." He said and she trotted away from him to catch up with Victus. Something was different but he wasn't sure what it was. "Hey, Garrus!" he called. "Guess what I found."

Nov kept serious tabs on Aria following his show of force in front of God and everyone. Chellick was too and had been tasked by Nov to keep an eye on General Oraka as well. Nov also was still dodging a barking Asari councilor angry at him for his investigation he refused to cancel. Sparatus wasn't going to help him with it and neither was Valern but Nov understood how dangerous it was for Aria and her goons to be on the Citadel.

"Shepard, Human, Spectre status recognized." The VI announced as another Spectre entered the Turian office.

"Hey, Baby," he greeted as she approached the console he was seated at. "how'd it go?"

"Well, the situation on Palaven sucks. The situation on Earth sucks. The situation on the Citadel sucks. Pretty much the whole damn galaxy sucks at the moment." She replied sounding slightly frustrated with it all. She was back to being end of the world Sidda…he liked the relaxed quiet life Sidda and wanted to get her back to that as fast as possible. "Oh, and in addition to fighting the Reapers I'm at war with Cerberus as well."

Nov stood and gave her a sympathetic chuckle. "Well, you can add another Turian to your crew because I'm coming with you, Baby."

Sidda's heart fluttered like a schoolgirl in love. Having Nov around all the time was the image of picture perfect and she loved it but that was immediately colored by her mistake. "You might not want to do that." She said and he made a face.


"Because Victus is staying on." She explained and Nov felt it in the pit of his stomach. Whatever vibe he was picking up on was because of him. He just knew it. "The Normandy's stealth drive makes it the perfect command ship and we're heading to Tuchanka."

"Makes sense." He replied not sure why he still had that sinking feeling. Maybe it was nothing. "What's going on, Sid?"

She didn't answer right away and the feeling grew. "I…I slept with Adrien." She said finally as she worked up the courage to say the words to him.

"I fucking knew it!" Nov thought to himself as part of him couldn't believe what he was hearing. "What?" he asked as it was the only word that his brain could produce. Not like he wanted her to repeat the worst thing he had ever heard her say.

For Sidda the second time around was no better than the first. It was worse actually and all because of the look on his face. Stunned, hurt, shattered…right now it was all shock but in a minute she was certain it would be all anger. "I slept with Adrien." She repeated. "I'm so sorry. It was a mistake. I should never have done it and it'll never happen again. I didn't want to lie to you and make you think that something was still between he and I because there's not."

She continued to ramble on and he heard every word. Every single word but none of them carried the same impact as the ones she started with. Sometime during her rambling confession he had back into and perched on one of the railings. He held up and hand finally and she stopped talking just looked at her like she was completely and utterly exposed. It was an honest representation. She wasn't lying…not about anything. After reading her body language he looked at the floor and thought of the strangest thing, her convulsing on the floor after Toombs tried to kill her. He didn't know why he thought of that…he had happier memories with her. Namely their wedding day, or the day she came to play cards with him when his shoulder was shattered.

"Cal, say something." She said as his silence was nearly as bad as the look on his face.

He stood up straight and briefly met her eyes. "I'll see you on the Normandy." He said and walked past her quickly. She said his name and put a hand on his arm to stop him put he walked through them both leaving her alone in the office. Sidda resisted the urge to vomit.

Nov didn't have anywhere to go to vent. People were still in his apartment and he didn't want to cause a scene. He felt everything from sad to blind fury but still could make himself believe that Sidda would betray him like this. How could she have done this to him? Why would she do this? Was it because he was gone all the time or what it because she still loved him? The questions made him angrier as it went along and before he knew it he was outside his apartment. The only people there now was Favia and Nisia.

"Cal? Are you okay?" Favia asked knowing a barely functioning enraged Turian when she saw one.

Sidda was honest with him…about of everything so he believed her rambling that it was a mistake and that it would never happen again, but his rational mind was being overtaken by the primitive one. He grabbed the nearest thing and hurled it against the wall. The glass item shattered, and he roared in anger. What he threw was a glass framed image of Sidda…he didn't want to throw that. "Fuck." He cursed both at seeing what he just destroyed and hearing Nisia calling for her mom in the other room. He'd scared her awake with his outburst.

"Be right there, Nis." She called but went to Nov. "Cal, what happened?"

He thought about tell her but couldn't manage it. It was embarrassing and he couldn't stomach saying it. "Nothing. I'm sorry." He said and Favia glared at him as he pulled the wrecked image from its shattered case. "Tell, Nisia, I'm sorry."

Turian's were stubborn and preferred to lock up emotions rather than deal with them. Cal was the poster child for that. "What happened, Callus, and don't tell me nothing."

"Sid, did something…I don't want to talk about it." He decided and steeled his resolve. His training then took over. He needed to pack and ship out. "I need to pack."

"Cal, wait-…" she called after him trying to at least get some sense of what was going on but Nov wheeled on her.

"I said I need to pack, and I don't want to talk about it." He snarled. It had been a long time since she'd seen him this angry.

The pairing of Cortez and Ruvvak was like a match made in heaven. Ruvvak may not have been a procurement specialist like Cortez was but he tended to hurry stuff along. Sometimes an NCO was just thing that was needed to make dock workers kick it into gear. They were restocked, rearmed, and ready to go in just over two hours. Victus was impressed.

Nov was the last one on board and he avoided Sidda. He didn't know what to say to her or how to act and he definitely didn't trust himself around Victus right now. She'd been busy running her ship and trying to get her to move out quickly, Sidda ran and tight ship when she needed to. Victus too had an effect on underlings, his mere presence caused a stir and always had the imposing authority figure no matter what military he was a part of.

The Normandy looked like a mess, halfway through its refit and the shit hit fan but Sidda's quarters were the same place they had always been. Nov dropped his bag on the deck and looked around the room. Ventilation and sanitation had taken care of the scent but this was the site of the betrayal. He left his bag and quietly turned and left. He didn't know what he should be doing right now, he never thought Sid would do something like this. In the vids males were screaming, throwing things, just plain angry but it wasn't that simple. Not for him anyway. He was angry but he loved Sidda more than anything else and it felt unnatural to him to be that angry at the woman he loved. All in all, it was a confusing feeling.

Where Thane used to be had been converted to a Turian Barracks. It wasn't fancy but there were uncomfortable cots and little privacy…it reminded him of boot camp. Ruvvak had procured Turian specific cots so they could sleep better but it was not perfect. There were six cots crammed as comfortably as possible and it appeared that Isla was one of the six cots. Garrus could do worse in selecting a mate. Nov liked Isla even though she pretty much just tolerated him.

"Hey, welcome back to boot camp barracks." Ruvvak greeted. Clearly, it reminded everyone of boot camp.

"It has more room than boot did." He commented making an attempt to crack a joke.

"All weapons and armor are stowed in the armor down below. Cortez and Vega are coordinating." The Sergeant said and Nov nodded. All his gear was loaded with the rest already when he boarded.

"Where were you two before this?" he asked as Cerrus was silent over by his bunk toward the back of the room.

"Manae. Primarch took us with him when Sid showed up. Still have no clue why. She's got enough soldiers on board." Ruvvak explained.

"The Commander has crew members not specialized soldiers." Cerrus commented.

Cerrus looked about like he always did but Nov could tell when something was bothering him. Cerrus wasn't as mysterious as people thought, he was just quiet so when he spoke he usually had a point. Like the Suicide Mission or tracking Saren, Sidda needed specialized soldiers and she was surrounding herself with them once again. "Tyr," he greeted. "how's the family. They still on Taetrus?"

Cerrus gave a reluctant nod. "Yeah." His mother was reactivated, and the search continued for his older brother. He hadn't heard much after that.

Nov didn't push him. "Where's Tali?"

Tali was the small bit of good news he'd received. "Safe with the flotilla." He answered.

A piece of happy news in the whole mess but the look on his face must have to Ruvvak that something was wrong. "You okay, Cal?"

Nov shook his head but no one was okay right now. He'd had a really back week so far but he wasn't going to get into it now with Ruvvak and Cerrus. "No." he answered. "None of us are."

As Nov left Ruvvak looked to Cerrus and they both knew what was going on. Sidda and Victus made on hell of a mess. Cerrus shook his head to the stupidity of it all and went back to sorting through the items he picked up on the Citadel. "Think he knows?" Ruvvak asked and Cerrus gave a casual, disapproving affirmation. "Yeah…of course he does…fantastic."

Nov had found Liara in Miranda's former quarters and she had transformed it into a mini Shadow Broker facility, complete with Glyph but without her best operative Feron. Garrus, of course was in the Main Battery and Chakwas was where she always was but with the Mad Scientist himself. Mordin was supposed to cure the genophage…if anyone could it was him and the female Krogan said nothing to Nov as he passed through. His tour was supposed to help familiarize himself and let him calm down and think. It was working right now so he kept going.

"Joker, thought you were in the brig." Nov greeted as he continued his walkthrough of the half-finished Normandy. The CIC hadn't changed much but it had a new look…the deployed in the middle of a refit motif.

"And I thought you were the Council's bitch." Joker replied with a chuckle and even Nov chuckled to that. "I was confined but not in the brig. I was on the Normandy when the Reapers attacked Earth so EDI and I stole a warship…again…and saved the day."

"Hello, Spectre Nov." EDI greeted but the voice didn't come from the ship…it came from behind him and he jumped to the sudden appearance.

"What the hell is that?" he asked immediately on the defensive. The synthetic before him was unlike any that he had ever seen.

"That's EDI." Joker said and sounded coyly pleased with that. "In the Cerberus mech we collected on Mars."

Nov was still not please. "You mean the one that tried to kill Sid?"

"I have repurposed this body and it is quite safe for the crew now." She explained. "I mean the crew of the Normandy no harm, Spectre Nov."

"And what does Sid think of this?"

"Commander Shepard does not trust this body. It did try to kill her, but she has allowed my endeavor to repurpose it and employ it's functions on the CIC and on surface mission." EDI said and Nov did a quick tactical assessment of it. As a mech it was a good design and meant to infiltrate the Alliance. He doubted he had any programs that would hack it or shut it down. Sidda trusted EDI but not the mech, in that he couldn't blame her.

"It's okay, Cal, she checks out." Joker reassured him and Nov reluctantly let his guard down. That Mech took down the Mars outpost, nearly killed Sidda, and had its ass kicked by Kaidan.

"Right." He said and straightened his posture. "Excuse me."

The War Room was crammed. Turians, Humans, a lone Krogan, a Salarian, and Asari. Sidda outlined the plan of going to Tuchanka and curing the genophage. It wasn't a secret now; they were going to do it come hell or high water. The Krogan had suffered enough. Nov observed quietly, Sidda was always faced with impossible odds and this was no different. Curing the genophage, getting the Krogan to fight for the Turians, to get the Turians to fight for the Humans…what a mess.

"Once we get to Tuchanka we'll help the Krogan in any way we can and support Dr. Solus in generating the cure." She explained and the room seemed content with that. "As you may have noticed, Primarch Victus will remain with us and use the Normandy as his command post. Life Support compartment has been converted to a temporary barrack for the Turians. It's going to be a little cramped but don't worry…Wrex really isn't that bad."

"He's not bad looking either." Nov joked heralding back to their ongoing inside joke.

"Any time, Princess." The Krogan laughed.

Sidda chuckled as well. Nov hadn't said a word to her since the Citadel but at least he still had a sense of humor. She let him be to process the issue on his own. He was here and that was a step. "Alright, everyone settle in and rest. Dismissed."

"Cerrus, Ruvvak, Shepard remain please." Victus ordered.

The room cleared out and Sidda made eye contact with Nov who gave her a nod as she touched his arm on the way by. All parties involved seemed to be civil but that was only because Nov couldn't fly off the handle just yet.

When the room was clear Victus finally address why Cerrus and Ruvvak along. He knew exactly why he wanted them at first but he knew they could be helpful. After talking with Sparatus and Udina they needed to grab anything they could and put it where it was needed most. The Crucible needed to be built but needed deciphered first.

"We need to gather assets to assist the war effort across all line. Both support and combat." Victus said. "Which is why you two are here." He went on looking at Cerrus and Ruvvak. "With the Commander's permission, you'll take the second Kodiak and gather any assets you find. Doesn't matter what it is, trapped soldiers, ships, supplies, anyone cut off or in need of aid. I've offered our help to Admiral Hackett and any other nation that needs our help."

Sidda appeared content with it as she hadn't objected so far. Cerrus had observed the two drop ships. They were UT-47As, stealth tech with an Eezo core which meant they could make short jumps. "May I suggest Devereaux as well. She's a Kodiak pilot and good in combat." Cerrus said and Victus nearly smiled. His most difficult officer had come a long way.

He wasn't sure who Devereaux was but the name was human so Victus looked to Sidda who shrugged with the same look on her face. "Ask her yourself but it's fine by me." She said and Victus nodded satisfied with the meeting.

"Dismissed. Sidda, can I talk to you." He asked and Sidda chuckled as he led her into the conference room. She wondered why as the only reason she could think of was to get away from Wrex.

"What's up?"

"I have a favor to ask." He began and she waited patiently. "I sent a team on a mission to Tuchanka and I've lost contact with them." Asking her for a favor was dangerous now, things were awkward but they were both aware that it could never happen again and it was time to work.

While she didn't monitor him every minute, she was pretty sure that sending a team to Tuchanka would be hard to hide. "When did you send a squad to Tuchanka?"

"That's not important. The point is that their mission is sensitive and is a matter of galactic peace." He said and she spotted right off the bat that he was being evasive about something.

Her expression narrowed. She needed more than that to know what she was getting into, any operation on Tuchanka was going to be tough. "Galactic peace? Adrien, what's going on?" she asked and he turned away from her.

He wanted to tell her but in the end he kept to his military training. Sidda wasn't authorized so he kept it that way. "I can't tell you. You need to recover that squad as soon as possible so they can complete their mission." He continued and his evasion was getting annoying.

Sidda understood classified but he had to give her something to be effective. "What is the mission, Adrien, you have to tell me something. I can't go in blind."

"Sidda, please, I can't tell you more than that."

She'd had a bad day already and didn't have the patience to deal with him and the cloak and dagger behavior. "Well, what the hell can you tell me? You want my help, but you give me nothing to go on."

"For the last time, I can't tell you." He growled again but this time his tone made it final. She was going to help him, he knew she would, but she wasn't going to like it.

Sidda sighed heavily and cursed his stubbornness. It must have been classified or a huge mistake he was trying to fix. "How many?"

"A platoon. The commander is Lieutenant Tarquin Victus."

That meant only one unit. "You sent Blackwatch?" she said shocked and the gravity of the situation became a little more known. Blackwatch was the equivalent to N7…a whole damn unit of them. It was Cerrus' former command and the best of the best. If he sent them under his son's command something was terribly wrong. "What the hell did you get into?"

Victus remained quiet. "Will you do it?"

Sidda wanted to beat his head against the table. There was no Turian more stubborn than him. She sighed heavily with a disapproving expression. "Yeah…but you owe me an explanation. Give me what intel you…care to share and I'll gear up when we get there."

Victus wanted to go with her. It was his son after all. "Sid…" he began but trailed off.

She knew what he wanted to say. Tarquin was his only family, good kid, good officer, and great with tech. "I'll get him, Adrien." She reassured with a brief smile.

It had already been a long hard day and Sidda just wish for a time machine right now. Go back and fix her error that ways she didn't need to recount the tale to Nov. She raided the galley as everyone continued to settle in and found Garrus doing the same thing.

"Alright, Vakarian," she called and he turned to glance at her before returning to fixing his snack. "why the hell didn't you tell me you were married?"

"Umm…" he began and then sighed. "you had enough on your plate."

"Garrus, this is happy news. You can spring that on me any time you want." She told him and he shrugged. "Congratulations."

"Thank you." He replied and she leaned on the island he was preparing his food on. "And you? How are you doing. I'm assuming you told him."

Sidda sighed and shook her head. "I don't know. I told him on the Citadel and he's here but…he hasn't said anything to me."

Garrus didn't have magic words to make it all better. "Give it time. He loves you; anyone can see that. Victus might not be so lucky but, Nov loves you."

"You were the one who told me he'd flip out."

Garrus shrugged. "He has a temper, but it remains to be seen. Unless he's grown up." He went on muttering the last bit.

Nov sat on the couch in Sidda's quarters in total silence. He was still running her confession over and over in his mind while thinking about all the things he may have done wrong to cause it. They were going to Tuchanka to fill the Turian and Salarian side of deal.

The door opened and he glanced to Sidda. She noticed his bag wasn't unpacked yet and tried to hope that meant he just hadn't gotten around to it yet. "We're a couple hours out from Tuchanka." She said and he acknowledged with a grunt.

"Do you love him?" he asked bluntly. If she was truly still in love with Victus he would painfully let her go. He was terrified of her answer but deep down he knew the answer…at least he hoped he did.

The question was odd but she didn't fence with him. "No. Cal, I love you. Only you."

"Do you want to be with him, or do you want to be with me?"


His patience was limited. "Do you want to be with him, or do you want to be with me?" he repeated with a firmer tone trying not to lose his temper.

"You. There will never be anyone else."

There already was someone else and the last thing he wanted to be was taken as a fool. To be the laughingstock. The Turian who lost his mate to someone else. "I meant what I said in that café." He told her with a tight sigh. "The only way you're gonna get rid of me is if you drop me down a black hole but I won't stay if I'm not wanted. So let me be clear this doesn't happen again. Not ever. Not with anyone. And you let me deal with him in my own way."

He set the terms and she didn't fight. She almost said not to hurt him, but she had to pick her battles and trust him to be as civil as possible with what she'd done. "Okay. I promise. I'll never break your trust again."

It wasn't what Nov was after, it only reminded him of the transgression, but it was her that he wanted. Only her. Now and forever. He approached her and got close enough to put his right hand on her cheek. "I love you."

The 13th Marine Division's 9th Platoon, colloquially known as 'Blackwatch', was the most legendary unit in the Turian military. It was well known for countless reasons however it was infamous for one event. Nearly a decade ago it's commanding officer, a young but extremely talented Captain named Tyr Cerrus, walked the unit through a covert mission with a death wish. He tripped a security measure allowing Batarian security to massacre his trapped squad, the only survivor was Deliah Rajin. Cerrus carried that black mark with him to this day. It was that reason that he didn't like being apart of this mission at all. Not even a little bit.

Sidda was still trying to figure out Victus' mission was. Blackwatch's involvement, commanded by his son no less, was a drastic clue but what did they need on Tuchanka? "Why would Victus place Tarquin in command of Blackwatch?" she asked mainly to the Turians that came along. Last she knew he wasn't the commander of Blackwatch but he was on team.

"He's been the commander for about six months now." Cerrus answered and checked the Mattock one more time. "He must have needed someone he could trust completely." He went on knowing exactly how Victus thought. Something big must have happened for him to deploy them from where they had been. "Something is wrong."

"Really? You think?" Nov shot back and Cerrus gave him a side look. Nov was snappy, the prideful Turian dealing with an unfaithful mate. Cerrus didn't have time for the bullshit and he really didn't have time for the love triangles bullshit. "If Tarquin fucked up, it'll blow back on the Primarch."

There was a sting in Nov's voice when he said that and Sidda let it go. He was still mad possibly still angry at her but there was a mission that needed doing so now wasn't the time. "Turian's aren't forgiving with failure." Sidda commented.

"Promoting family without merit tends to bite you in the ass." Nov said flatly. He invited himself along on the mission which created a little awkward tension between them. The Primarch ordered Cerrus to come along which only made him grumpier so as of now the only one that was content was Vega.

Sidda sat down next to him as the Kodiak rocked to the turbulence in Tuchanka's atmosphere. "I know we haven't worked this out completely yet but I need to know we can work together."

Nov look at her with the same look he'd given her on the Citadel. It was in his eyes, the hurt but he gave her his answer. "We'll be fine." He said and that had two meanings. As a working relationship they were fine and as couple they were fine too. He made his peace with her in their quarters, but it would take time for him to let it go. "I've failed at protecting you lately so where you go, I go."

"Why do I get the feeling that I'm in the middle of a soap opera?" Vega asked Cerrus as he noted the quiet exchange between Nov and Sidda.

Cerrus sighed as the level of irritation was coming to a head. "Because when it comes to Shepard, Nov, and Victus you are watching one."

"Terrific." Vega responded flatly.

Tuchanka was still a radioactive pile of rubble. It was hot and it smelled. The last time Sidda was on Tuchanka she got a breeding request after taking down a Thresher Maw as a part of Grunts Krannt. It was still a wasteland and dangerous. Everything on this planet was designed to kill.

Cerrus had been to Tuchanka before but now with the knowledge that his wife died here and how she died it made him look at this planet a different way. He hated this place. Vega was the backup that Sidda had brought with her and the only reason that Wrex did not question too hard about their mission was that Sidda was leading it.

Right now, they were following the path of destruction. Blackwatch's ship crash landed and left a trail of debris and escape pods in its wake. The story of what had happened was grim as well. The flight recorders pointed to Tarquin making an error and causing the crash. This wasn't going to be a great outcome.

Tuchanka was terrible, Tarquin never thought it would be a paradise but so far his jaunt on the post nuclear wasteland was nothing to write home about…or repeat. The remains of his squad were scattered and they had no way of knowing any distress call was received. He trusted that it was and that his father wouldn't abandon him.

"Lieutenant Victus, this is Commander Shepard, do you copy?" he heard on the comms. His expression narrowed in confusion. Sidda he knew relatively well, the last time he saw her was a few weeks before the Normandy was destroyed. He'd visited his father on the Citadel and had dinner with both he and Sidda. Growing up he'd never known his father to hop from female to female, at least not that he'd seen, but Sidda was different. Tarquin liked her and her death hit him as well.

"I though Shepard was dead?" Sergeant Octavio commented looking just as confused Tarquin was.

"So, did we." He said and responded to the call. "Sidda, good to hear your voice."

"Tarquin, what's the situation?" she replied remaining professional.

He made a mistake and his troopers paid for it, he had way too many injured to be able to move forward and not all his men were accounted for. He had ten with him but that left over thirty unaccounted for. "Could be better, Commander, I have injured, and my people are unaccounted for."

"We're coming to you. Are you secure?"

"For now. We have a defensive position and are tending to our wounded."

"Fire off a flare so we can get your position."

That would give away their position, but it was a choice they had to make. They need extraction and help was on the way. "Valerian, fire off a flare." He ordered.

Valerian glared at him; his medic's bedside matter was okay if you were injured other than that she was a bit snappy. She'd commented on his command so far, his decision to employ clever tactics that resulted in a huge mistake and half the platoon MIA. She grumbled and did as ordered.

"Commander, my people are wounded, and we just gave away our position." He said matter of factly and Sidda understood his tone. The responsibly now fell on her and her team to ensure their survival.

"I understand. We're coming." He heard her respond and he looked to his remaining squad members. They hadn't been shy about placing the blame. He made a mistake but he cared for his people.

"Cassian, on the perimeter." He ordered to the able bodied of his men. One of which was his Sergeant, Cassian Octavio and he was angry about the situation, so he silently questioned the order. "Now." He barked firmly. They lost faith in his leadership but they complied with his order. Two of his soldiers were seriously inured and he had walking wounded as well but those who could stood up and guarded the camp. Tarquin picked a good, defensible spot but if the Reapers threw enough enemies at them they would be overwhelmed. "Valerian, how are the wounded?"

"Silix has internal bleeding that I can't stop…only stem but he needs an infirmary sooner rather than later. I think Banna's back is broken but I can't be sure, we can't move him. Allius has a broken arm but nothing more, everyone else is walking wounded." She reported professionally. Octavio was uninjured, Tarquin had also escaped the crash with no more than a few bumps, Valerian was injured too but she left herself out of the report.

She moved tenderly so Tarquin deduced that it was broken ribs and nothing more. "And you?"

"I'm fine." She replied with a quiet snap.


Octavio, Allius, Redanin, and several others made their displeasure known but she only did her job. Tarquin was clever but he wasn't his father. "You did this Tarquin and now we get to pay for it. You and Cassian came out of it fine but the rest of us didn't, so with all due respect, Lieutenant, don't ask me again if I'm okay." She snarled to him. Her rank was equal to his and they had a fair friendship but she didn't let the situation slide.

Once the flare gave away their position they were on the clock, Reapers began to attack, it was easy enough at first to repel them but they could hear combat getting closer. Sidda was drawing near and bringing company with her. By the time Sidda got to them the Reapers had attacked in earnest and they saw the full spectrum of the Reaper force, from Husks to Harvesters the battle only weakened his forces. With two of his soldiers immobile he still had enough to mount a defense. They managed to defend themselves against the onslaught as Sidda and her team on the other side of the field were the bigger threat. He saw Sidda and her impressive biotic display tear a Brute apart with not too much effort and she had at least two Turians with her and an Alliance soldier.

"Cassian, sniper rifle." He ordered to his sergeant. Octavio didn't question and proceeded to provide the other team cover. The other team had a sniper as well, a Turian. When the Harvester arrived, his team took another hit, Aldwin and Regbo died swiftly when the Harvester blast hit and they was pretty much vaporized. Tarquin had never felt so frustrated or defeated by the time the Harvester fell to a Hydra rocket fired by the Alliance soldier with Sidda.

"Sound off." Tarquin ordered after the gunfire ceased.

"Check." Valerian answered and moved to the two wounded members. "Banna and Silix are okay also."

"Octavio and Redanin." The Sergeant announced and he pulled the other soldier to his feet.

"Dex, we need you. Schai took another hit." Sullus called and the medic moved to evaluate Allius who already had a broken arm.

"Copy." Tarquin acknowledged. He saw Aldwin and Regbo die and took a moment to collect himself. This was a disaster. He turned his attention from his angry squad and to someone he still couldn't get used to seeing alive. "Commander Shepard..." he greeted. "it's good to see you again."

Sidda hadn't changed much since the last time he saw her. The scars were missing from her face and it seemed that her hair was shorter. She appeared to be the same super soldier that was famous throughout the galaxy and for that he was grateful. "Tarquin," she greeted with a smile and a professional tone. "what's your situation?"

"Bad, Commander, over half my platoon is unaccounted for and I have two seriously injured but alive." He reported and noticed she had Nov and Cerrus with her and quickly deduced that she was sent by his father.

"We found a few on the way in. Escape pods with couple survivors, we also found…deceased on the way in too. We kept a record." She told him in the gentlest way possible. He was already having a bad day. "What happened, Tarquin?"

"Intel put heavy resistance in our path. It would have guaranteed casualties so to avoid that I took us low and through these ruins." He explained and felt even worse explaining his failure in the presence of two Spectres and Blackwatch's former commander. "When we encountered resistance there was no room to maneuver. I'd appreciate it if we would pick up the survivors you found on the way in when we head back to the ship."

Sidda cocked her head to him. "You're not going to complete your mission?"

"How? I'm down over thirty people and I just lost two more in that fight. We're a shell of what we were. Even I wanted to complete this mission, my soldiers don't."

Cerrus didn't stand for that mindset and couldn't help himself. "Lieutenant," Cerrus cut in abruptly. "a word."

Tarquin complied and Cerrus made sure he was out of view from the others. "Yes, Sir?"

"Get in there and get ahold of your troops." He ordered and understood the position Tarquin was in. "You made a mistake. So what? Own it and move on. Get in there and act like an officer or I'm gonna take over." Cerrus didn't want command of Blackwatch again, that chapter of his life was over though parts of it haunted him still but if he had to he would do what was necessary.

Tarquin wasn't a bad officer but he was new to combat command. People died. People made decisions and sometimes things went wrong. If Cerrus took over, Tarquin's advancement in the military was over and he knew it. Primarch's son or not. Turians were a hard bunch to please after a military disaster. "Yes, Sir." He nodded. "Regardless, we do need to regroup and the wounded need evac."

Cerrus agreed. "We got that covered. Now get in there. Commander, I suggest both shuttles to pick up the wounded and round up the survivors." Sidda nodded and opened the comms to Cortez and Isla.

Blackwatch was too chewed up to regroup on the surface, Isla took the second Kodiak and Garrus and collected the scattered survivors that had marked their positions. Cortez collected Sidda and the rest and somehow managed to get the overloaded Kodiak to the Normandy where the Cargo Bay became a staging area. The Kodiaks only had room for the living so unfortunately the dead remained on Tuchanka and they had several wounded. Of the forty-four people he started with he only had twenty-one left and five of them were in the infirmary. Tarquin felt like he was going to be sick. On Sidda's order he picked ten to go with him back to Tuchanka and finish the mission with Sidda's help.

"Officer on deck!" Redanin announced and all the Turians, including Nov, fell into attention. For Nov it was a habit that was heard to break. Victus waved the show of respect off and had them carry on with what they were doing. The injured had been taken to Medical where Chakwas had some additional help from Mordin.

Victus knew Octavio and shook the career Sergeants hand as he moved on down the line before coming to his son. He was relieved to see him okay but wasn't sure if he wanted to know how he'd failed so completely.

"Dad," he greeted as the Primarch came face to face with him. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize just tell me what happened." He said gently. Tarquin was a good officer, high marks in leadership and strategy but listening to him explain that clever tactics drove this result irritated him. His son looked up to him and his reputation, but it bit him in the ass this time. His son looked defeated, embarrassed by such a failure for Palaven's most famous unit. "Mistakes happen, Tarquin, it's what you do with it that defines a leader."

Military pep talk from their greatest leader. "Yes, Sir." He replied and looked down from him.

"Are you okay?" he asked in his fatherly tone. It was hard being commanding officer and father…now it was impossible being Primarch and father.

Tarquin didn't even have a scratch on him after the crash. The Harvester explosion run his bell but other than that he was perfectly fine. It was another thing that upset him. He was perfectly fine but others weren't. "Yeah," he answered after a pause. "but a lot of my people aren't."

"Tarquin," Sidda interrupted. "did you select your squad?"

The younger Victus nodded. "Yeah. They're being outfitted now."

"Good, Adrien." She nodded and gestured for him to talk to her in private. "You want to tell me what's going on now?"


She growled her annoyance. "Damnit, Adrien, I just plucked your son out of a disaster."

He understood that and he was immeasurably grateful, but he still didn't want to tell her. "For the last time, leave it."

She cut him off before he could get too far. "I need to know."

"Leave it. That is an order."

"I'm not under your command now, Primarch, what else you got?" she said and almost sound like she was playing with him.

He cocked his head to her; he missed the banter, but she was irritating. "I've got plenty, Commander, take your pick but the answer is still no."

She rolled her eyes and growled, frustrated by the fact that he clearly didn't trust her with whatever super-secret mission was out there. "You know what, the longer you keep me in the dark the harder this is going to be. How long do you figure it'll take Wrex to find out that you're running an op?"

Wrex would kill him if he knew about this mission and he was surprised that the Krogan wasn't up his ass about operating on Tuchanka right now. "Sidda, do your job and be quiet about it." He snarled.

Both Kodiaks were employed, one had Isla as the pilot and Tarquin's team and the other had Cortez and her team. Cerrus wasn't happy to being pushed into going again, he didn't want anything to do with Blackwatch but he went anyway. Something was still off about it and the fact that Victus wouldn't even tell him irritated him what the situation was. You couldn't complete a mission successfully without all the information.

"Alright, Tarquin, what can you tell me?" she asked and was irritated while she asked it. No one could blame her for that. "If you can tell me anything at all."

Tarquin ignored the tone. He knew full well that his father was being evasive that meant that Tarquin had his own orders. "There's a bomb on the planet, Commander, we were sent to defuse it before Cerberus could detonate it."

Sidda made a face, rolled her eyes, and grumbled. "Fucking really? Cerberus? What the hell do they want with a bomb on Tuchanka?"

"Same thing they wanted on Sur'Kesh. Detonate a bomb on Tuchanka so the Krogan help their own people rather than Palaven." Garrus explained and it seemed plausible but Sidda felt like that wasn't the whole story. Why send a Turian team though?

They had other problems at the moment, Tarquin's drop ship was ahead of theirs and found the mess first. Cerberus wasn't who shot his first drop ship out of the sky but it just might be them this time. Cerberus must have known that they were after the bomb because they defended it with gusto.

"Commander, if we go right down the middle they are going to blow us out of the sky. Suggest two insertion points." Isla said over the comms and Cortez concurred.

"Do it. Send rally point once we get down there and assess the resistance. Good luck, Lieutenant." Sidda told them and then stepped toward the cockpit. "Cortez, how's it look?"

"Like shit." He replied. He wasn't kidding, Cerberus tracked them and unleased a near nonstop volley of anti-aircraft flack and fire. Dropping into their landing zone was like dropping into a firing line. The best thing that could be done was to get off the Kodiak as quickly as possible so Cortez could bug out.

"Nov, Vega, to the right. Cerrus, Garrus, with me." Sidda ordered and then skirted the edge of Cerberus' foothold. There was more artillery fire than Sidda had encountered since the Citadel and navigating through it was difficult. Every explosion rattled their senses but true to his form Cerrus was an unshakable rock and took point. The deafening noise made it hard to concentrate but keeping to cover and expertly taking out the soldiers along the way was something to be lauded. Turians were, hands down, the best military in the galaxy.

"Everyone whole?" Sidda asked as the two teams arrived on the other side and in the hall.

"Yeah…I can hear bells ringing." Vega replied as he took a rear cover position.

"Like a symphony." She commented and shook her head to try and get it to stop.

"Haven't been through artillery like that in a long time." Cerrus added stayed on point with Sidda behind him. She tapped his back indicating she was ready to move and they followed his lead.

It wasn't long until they encountered resistance again only this time Cerberus had a decent set up complete with shield pylons and shield barricades.

"Those guys with the shields are really pissing me off." Vega said as Cerberus was well fortified.

Nov next to him and Sidda. "Everyone take cover." He said conversationally while tapping a few things on his Omni-tool. The Arch Grenade was his favorite grenade and he casually tossed it around the wall and into the middle of Cerberus' little post.

The grenade went off and arched a fatal level of electricity into anyone within its blast radius but that didn't mean that those lucky enough to be outside of it survived. The energy from the grenade blew up the generator powering the pylon and the shield barricades causing the arch electricity to walk from soldier to soldier like a living entity. One, well-placed grenade took out the whole squad.

Vega blinked to the sheer ease of the destruction and scoffed to the Turian engineer. "Nice job, Badass."

"God damn that was impressive." Sidda grinned to her husband.

"I know." He winked with a chuckle.

Cerrus rolled his eyes. "Oh please, don't stroke his ego."

Garrus looted thermal clips and lead them as they pressed on. "Sidda, they are dug in deep here. There is definitely more to this." he said simply voicing the same concern that the rest of them had.

"Of that I have no doubt." She replied.

"Why send a Turian team to handle this?" Cerrus questioned. The events didn't add up, no matter how much Turians tried to spin it, they wouldn't just offer help to the Krogan out of the goodness of their hearts.

Vega was a veteran soldier but he felt the bad vibe the rest did. He didn't need to be around from the beginning of the Reaper nightmare or even Sidda's involvement to know a shitty cover when he smelled one. "As much as I want to see Tarquin succeed here. I say you beat the truth out of him, Commander." Vega suggested and Cerrus gave a visible agreement to it.

"Second." Garrus piped up.

"Third." Cerrus agreed.

"I'll hold him." Added Nov. At least the team was in total agreement.

Cerrus was going to have a headache for the rest of the night after that explosion. The team was making good time until they found a pocket of Cerberus troops covering an escape. They were fortified extremely well so Cerrus used a Havoc strike, a new feature on the Armiger armor, to vanguard his way into the middle of them. Cerrus was still impressive to watch in combat and Sidda envied his skill. He operated on one philosophy: every member of his squad would come back alive. He'd been down the other road before…never again.

His combat was clean and concise but brutal but what he didn't look out for was the power generator at the base of the second turret. During his Turret Tango he clipped it and it exploded with enough force to destroy the other one and nearly knock him out.

"Tyr," he heard Nov call through his ringing head. "you okay?"

He managed to sit up from his place in the dirt and took a moment to collect himself. When he removed his helmet he felt his ears were bleeding and he wanted to vomit. "Ow." He replied simply.

"Concussion?" Nov asked as he bent down to look at his eyes.

"Probably." Cerrus replied and took a moment to drink some water.

Sidda surveyed their surroundings and Garrus and Vega took up forward and rear guard while they waited. "Impressive but reckless even for you." She chastised.

Cerrus didn't care, everything was going fine. "Thought it went okay. Who clipped it?"

Nov injected meds into the left side of his neck. Turian cocktail to help get him back on his feet. "You did." He answered then looked to Sidda. "He's good just give him a minute."

Sidda nodded slightly and checked in with the other team. "Team two, how are you doing?"

"Nearly there, Commander. We encountered heavy resistance from Cerberus." Tarquin replied. "You?"

"Same. We'll be there momentarily." She answered looking at the map on her Omni-tool. They were on what used to be a highway and just over the hill were the coordinates for the bomb. "Team one, out."

True to Nov's word Cerrus was back on his feet in just a few minutes. His bell was still rung but that was something Dr. Chakwas got to examine later. As they trotted Garrus and Nov were thinking out loud.

"It would have to be a big one for it to be worth the trouble. Cerberus is good with throwing an endless supply of soldiers at a problem, but this seems a bit excessive for sabotage." Garrus said. He'd been around long enough to know how Cerberus operated, hell he helped Sidda cull their numbers while tracking Saren so he knew damn well that they didn't value their soldiers or scientists. "The Kelphic Valley has a bigger population than any other region so it would be the best site."

Garrus' logic was sound. "Yeah, but how would they be able to get here without the Krogan…" Nov began and then trailed off as paused midstep like something dawned on him. "Shit…I think I know what it is."

Sidda had turned as he had stopped moving, they were almost at the bomb. "What?"

Nov was still running it through his head, but it made sense. It would explain Victus' unwillingness to share the details and the urgency behind the mission. "And damn I hope I'm wrong."

He still hadn't answered her question as he broke into a cautious sprint up the incline. The map put the bomb over the hill and when he finally got a look at it his suspicions were confirmed. "On this episode of 1000 Ways to die…" Nov commented and looked over at Sidda who was now looking at an enormous bomb that looked to have been excavated. "I knew it. That's a Turian bomb, Sid."

"What?" she replied and turned toward him. Nov's knowledge of weapons and explosives wasn't in question but just as Nov had his 'ah ha' moment down the hill it was falling into place for her right now. "Adrien, you son of a bitch." She grumbled. "That's what he didn't want to tell me. Galactic peace…yeah…that's an understatement." A Turian bomb on Tuchanka…the Krogan would go to war.

Nov had restrained himself against acting against Victus…he may get the chance to put his head on a pole this time. "That looks an awful lot like K Series…probably 9100 fusion bomb. We're talking Krogan Rebellion Era weapons of mass destruction…set on a fault line…that thing will crack this planet like an egg."

"Rebellion Era? Why?"

"Buried by the Turians after the war ended. A deterrent against a future uprising." Garrus explained and kicked himself for not coming to this conclusion earlier.

"Now Cerberus wants to get their slimy paws on it." Vega put in. "Yeah, this'll be fun. They detonate it, we die and lose the war."

Garrus couldn't help but chuckle as that wasn't the worst outcome he could think of. "On the other hand, if we stop Cerberus from detonating it, we still die – after Wrex kills us – and we still lose the war."

"One crisis at a time, Archangel." She said with a slight chuckle to his attempt to lighten the mood with some morbid humor. "Can you disarm it?" she asked Nov.

The engineer nodded sharply. "Disarm the trigger. It's old but should still be able to access it's brain and shut it off. Might be a smaller explosion from the conventional payload but fusion material will be safe."

Tarquin's team secured the bomb site just a few minutes before Sidda got there. By the look on the Commander's face one of her squad told her just that this little Krogan gift actually was and she was not happy. "Site secure, Commander." He said continuing to be business as usual.

"Did your father know?" Sidda snapped to Tarquin as she stormed up to him. Tarquin was his father's height so once again Sidda was facing an enormous figure. If the Primarch knew, she was going to string him up.

Tarquin never wanted to keep her in the dark, but he did as he was ordered, which was not to tell Sidda what was going on as it was classified. He reluctantly nodded. "I was under orders not to tell you, Commander. I'm sorry."

She cursed; the blame wasn't on Tarquin. Poor guy was stuck between what was the right thing to do and orders from the Primarch…who was also his father. "Did he think I wouldn't notice?" Nov bit back in a harsh sardonic tone.

"He didn't put it here, Nov, and he sent me to fix it." Tarquin snarked back as he defended his father. "Turians placed that bomb at the end of the war to make sure the Krogan didn't rebel again."

Cerrus scoffed to the situation. "I always thought that was a rumor." he commented.

Garrus agreed, the urban myth people talked about like what kind of research went on at Vendabar, what Palaven Intelligence did to Special operatives that vanished into thin air. "Which is why Cerberus wants to blow it up and pin it on the Turians. It'll work too."

Nov challenged Tarquin and took a step closer to him. "If he'd have been up front about it we would have a better battle plan rather than dicking around fighting about it." He snapped with an irritated snarl.

Tarquin didn't care that almost everyone he was standing with was a living legend. Nov was a tech genius at everyone at the academy still talked about, Garrus was Archangel, Sidda was Sidda, and Cerrus he'd known for years, the infamous Tyr Cerrus. That being said, he was his father's son and that meant his temperament. "Maybe true but deal with it." He said harshly not backing down from Nov.

"Cal, back off." Sidda said to Nov to keep some semblance of comradery. "I will deal with Victus later." She added and pushed Nov back from him. "You're my battle plan, Cal. You disarm it and the rest of us will throw Cerberus a party."

"Commander, I can help with the bomb." Tarquin said. He wanted to be useful and he was still looking for redemption from the disaster his previous mission turned out to be.

Sidda didn't hesitate with her answer. Nov could probably handle it on his own but Tarquin was good with tech as well and needed the win. "Fine." She said and looked at her husband. "Good luck, Casanova."

He gave her a smile and a wink. "Keep your head down, baby." He said and looked past her to Vega. "James!"

Vega chuckled and knew where he was going. "Yeah, yeah, I know, Badass: keep an eye on her." Vega had a nickname for everyone. He called Garrus 'Scars' and 'Lola' was chosen for Sidda and Nov pretended to be okay with that but apparently Vega gave Nov the nickname of 'Badass'.

Sidda turned to the rest of the team. "Alright, Cerrus, Garrus sniper positions. James, with me." She said and addressed Tarquins team. "Names. Skip the rank."

Tarquin brought a small team as advised by Sidda. He selected the best members he had available even though they had criticized his command. "Octavio." The Sergeant introduced. He was older than all the rest of them and was clearly a seasoned soldier.

"Velarian." the first of two female Turians nodded. She was the teams Medic and Sidda had spoken to her on the Normandy.

"Hittarus." The second female followed. She was one of the rescued soldiers from the second escape pod they came across.

"Sullus." He was a clear Sentinel as the tech armor was hard to miss.

"Redanin." Redanin was tall, broad, and rivaled Nov in his good looks. The solider was barefaced and carried a modified Revenant.

Sidda nodded sharply and divided them up. "Redanin with us." She selected and a shot Sullus.

"Contact left." Garrus reported and took his own shot. His sniper rifle barked and the head of the Cerberus trooper disappeared. "More on the way. Let's get this done."

The Tech armor stopped the round from causing damage beyond destroying the tech armor so he got to his feet after a moment. "Cal, Tarquin, get it done." She ordered as the teams didn't need orders to go where they were needed.

"We need cover." Nov called over his shoulder and Sidda shouldered her Mattock. She'd practiced with barriers before like the Asari could produce but this was the first time in actual action. The biotic barrier went up and effectively protected her husband and Tarquin.

Nov cocked his head to her; he'd never seen her use this in combat but she was an evolving biotic. "Shit, that's new. Where'd you learn that?"


"How long can you hold that?"

"Fast is better." She replied and concentrated on the barrier.

"Right." He said as he and Tarquin got to work as the shooting commenced behind them. "You better know what you're doing."

Tarquin ignored Nov and quickly gained access to the programming of the bomb. "Looks like Cerberus got in there already."

"Do you know what you are doing?"

"Yes." He snapped annoyed with the questions. Nov was hard to rival when it came to Tech but there was more than one tech genius on this team. "No programming code exist anymore but I should be able to do this by hand." The console blared an error and Tarquin huffed. It was one problem after another and now he had Nov hovering over his shoulder. "Cerberus set up a firewall."

"Of course they did." He replied derisively and flicked through is omni-tool. "This should hack through it."

Tarquin gave him a glare. "Stop showing off." He snapped and Nov merely snorted. "That's some pretty heavy encryption, Nov."

Nov scoffed pointedly. "Not my first time, Young One." He said with pride. "I hacked my way through a Batarian base and broke into the Shadow Brokers super-secret ship." He continued as the program started to bypass the firewall Cerberus put in place.

"I said stop showing off."

"Cal!" Nov heard Sidda shout. Her barrier failed and Redanin ushered her out of the way and into cover.

"Need more time, Sid." He shouted back.

"Fantastic." She said with sarcasm. "Take your time. We're just hosting a tea party."

Nov smiled. "Yes, my Love." He replied ignoring the glare from Tarquin. He couldn't focus on the firefight behind him, he trusted that Sidda could handle herself and that the addition of Cerrus and Garrus would make sure she stayed on her feet.

Sidda slid back into cover trying to get away from a enemy that had a line on her. "Cerrus, you wanna ping that bastard or do you just want him to kill me?" she snapped harshly and fully expected the grumpy Turian to snap back but instead he let his rifle talk. The Cerberus Centurion's head vanish with a single shot.

"Anything else I can help you with, Your Highness?" he said flatly.

"Of all the time's he picks now to crack a fucking joke?" she muttered in response.

"Two more shiploads coming in…you want to put those biotics to use or just sit by and let us to the heavy lifting." Cerrus informed and earned a garbled Turian expletive from Sidda. Someone had been teaching her Turian.

"Even in the middle of a firefight you never quit." Garrus said and kept himself doing the same thing that Cerrus was doing. Maintaining a long-distance relationship with the enemy.

Minutes ticked by and after what felt like an eternity Nov finally broke through. "Got it." He proclaimed.

Tarquin growled loudly as the screen changed to a countdown. Cerberus had done more damage than they had anticipated. "Damnit! Cerberus hacked the trigger, 60 seconds to detonation." A seemingly simple plan was becoming a nightmare.

Nov wanted to curse; Cerberus yet again was making his life miserable. He didn't curse but his irritated sigh was heard clear as day and shared by Tarquin. "What'd they do take lessons from me?" he muttered and tried to work more magic.

"I'll manually disconnect." Tarquin said and started up the latter to the top of the superstructure.

"Wait! No! Damnit." He yelled but the code was difficult and couldn't follow him up. The Broker's ship was the hardest thing he'd had to do thus far is in his career and this little Cerberus afterthought really shouldn't be this difficult. It wasn't just one security measure, it was many, layered and layered.

Tarquin made it up the latter as a speed that would have made the drill instructors at boot camp proud. He looked down to find his squad and Sidda's squad fighting an Atlas and groups and groups of Cerberus troops. They were succeeding in keeping them at bay but this was taking too long. He activated the console at the top and started working. He needed to activate the mag lock in the center to be able to release the trigger. The bomb was a thousand years old and he worried that he didn't work. He hoped it worked or Nov would need to hack is way through the surprises left by Cerberus. The lock opened and he crossed the narrow passage to manually release the lock.

The measures placed on the trigger were getting the better of Nov. "Fuck!" he cursed as another layer got in his way. They really wanted this thing to go off. The string of curses was in Turian under his breath, this was getting annoying.

High above, Tarquin watched the clamps released one at a time and the bombs payload dropped into the cavern it was dug out from. Nov was startled by the explosion and skittered back then panicked when the countdown reached. Nothing happened and he looked up to Tarquin standing at the edge of the access latter. "He did it." He said to himself and whoever was within earshot.

Tarquin felt a weight lift from his shoulders, he corrected a mistake. He fulfilled his mission despite the considerable help and considerable misfortune. He breathed a breath of relief and took a moment, this didn't fix everything, but it was a step. Cerberus was being pushed back and the Atlas they'd been fight exploded after a dazzling biotic display from the woman his father still loved. He didn't see the shot that hit him, he just felt it. The round ripped though his light armor in his upper left breast. He fell backward onto the narrow access platform.

"Tarquin!" Nov shouted as he saw him take the hit. He scrambled up the latter as eh could still hear gunfire down below. Sidda and her team had done well in pushing Cerberus back but he was more concerned with Tarquin. When he reached the top, Tarquin was flat on his back on a very narrow piece of the access bridge. "Tarquin, answer me." He said and pulled him back to a more manageable position. There was so much blood but Tarquin was alive; conscious but shocked and alive.

The pain from the injury actually made Tarquin's ears ring. The two weren't connected but that was an oddity that he'd think about later. "The bomb?" he asked in a strangled voice as Nov appeared above him.

"Defused. You did it, hold still." He said and tended the wound. There was so much blood, it seeped dark blue which means it hit the vein in the upper torso. "Hang in there." He coached and tapped the comm. "Sid, I need a medic up here right now. Victus is hit."


"I got it. You're losing a lot of blood. Stay still." Nov's Omni-tool confirmed that it did hit the vein. "You are some kind of stupid, you know that." He reprimanded. "What the hell were you thinking."

Tarquin groaned partly the pain and partly the scolding he was receiving. "You were too slow. Old tech…manual override works 100% of the time."

He glared at him. Offended to being called 'too slow' though the program didn't get the better of him. "You got yourself shot, you idiot."

Tarquin groaned again. "You need to work on your bedside manner."

Nov gave him a mock smile. "I'm an engineer not a nursemaid."

Chakwas rushed Tarquin into surgery and was aided by his team medic, Dex. Tarquin would be fine the blood loss was coming from a shredded vein that was a relatively easy to fix but the injury wasn't mild. The danger of blood clots was very real and, just like in Humans, could kill him easily if one reached a vital organ. Nov likened the injury to the one he'd sustained in the past on this one didn't shatter the shoulder, it punched clean through…lucky bastard.

Now that the truth was out Victus knew the debriefing with Sidda wasn't going to be fun. It was only the two of them in the conference room, which was not a good sign anyway. If it were a simple debriefing, she'd have met him in the War Room. Wrex wasn't there either but he wasn't going escape that wrath either.

"I heard Chakwas say that Tarquin's going to be okay." She said and Victus nodded. He could not express how grateful he was for that.

"Yes." He replied. "Thank you. I don't know what had you not saved him." Losing Tarquin would have broken him and he didn't want to admit that.

Sidda turned from her position to fold her arms across her chest and lean back on the table. "I didn't. Cal did."

Nov was a soldier and conducted himself as such on the battlefield, no matter his feelings. "I'll be sure to express my gratitude." He said sincerely.

"I'd include an apology with that too."

He gave her a puzzled expression. "What?"

Her sigh reflected how she felt, she was disappointed…in him. "That mission was a cluster fuck because you didn't give me all the information." She said coldly. "I had Callus Nov with me, the best engineer I've ever seen in my life, and Try Cerrus who's amazing with anything that goes boom. You withheld mission critical information from me and your son nearly died because of it."

He was tired of the same argument. "I do not need to tell you classified information. Would you tell me everything about Earth?"

She resisted the urge to punch him. "That's not the point, Primarch, if I'm on the mission I need to know. The half-baked plan we figured out on the bombs doorstep would have been planned and executed with precision…I had Cerrus with me for Christ's sake Cerberus probably would never have seen us coming."

He shook his head. He'd never liked being on opposite sides from her, as a soldier and leader she was better than most could have ever imagined. "I should-…" he trailed off. "I should have trusted you. The more people who knew the more I risked the Krogan finding out."

"Well, I can tell you that he probably knows now…you and I get to deal with that." She griped. Her irritation was warranted, and, in her position, he would feel the same. "We have to work together, Adrien, no more lies. Cards on the table or the Reapers and Cerberus are going to beat us."

"SHEPARD!" a roar was hear through the bulkhead. No one else on the ship could make that noise except an angry Wrex.

"Oh…here we go." She mumbled and turned to face the door was Wrex found them both. He had a bone to pick with the Primarch.

The Turian bunk was nearly full when Nov entered, the one he wanted was in there and that was all that mattered. Everyone knew what happened between Sidda and Victus and it angered Nov, Turians were proud and his pride had been wounded and his trust broken by both Sidda and Victus. "Give us the room." He said to them all but kept his eyes on Victus.

The three Turians and Isla looked at each other and then to Cerrus. Ranking officer and for someone reason they took after his lead. The room cleared leaving Nov and Victus alone.

"You and I need to talk." Nov said and Victus had been waiting for this. The anger Nov was surly feeling was something that Victus didn't fault him for. He would be angry as well.

"She told you." Victus said. It was a comment not a question, Sidda was honest and loved Nov so it wasn't a stretch to know that she told him the truth of her indiscretion.

Nov had very little patience at present "Of course she told me." He hissed trying hard to keep himself composed. "And despite it I love her. I understand that you two didn't get a fair shake. I know you love her still and have realized the mistake you made but…I will issue you the warning you once gave me." He told him and took a few slow steps toward him. Victus didn't move from his position, an angry Turian was dangerous but Nov wasn't going to do anything rash, given the galactic situation. "She is my mate. She has my mark, my name, and my heart. Let me be quite plain, if you touch her again I'll kill you."

He was now face to face and in striking distance with him. Being threatened was to be expected, Victus wholeheartedly understood. For a Turian raised with the Rylo beliefs, like Nov had been, marriage was a sacred oath and he had the right to defend it when he was wronged or that oath was broken. The Rite of Honor. "I understand." He said but didn't dip his head in submission.

"I mean it!" Nov growled harshly and pushed him back a step but Victus slapped his hand away with a snarl nearly starting a scuffle between them.

Victus didn't get pushed around, not even in a situation like this. He remembered clearly what warning Nov referred to and this was reminiscent of that minus Nov's shattered shoulder. "I said I understand." He snapped with the authoritative voice Nov was conditioned to adhere to. "Do not mistake my composure for disrespect. I do love her and I know I made a mistake but I lost that opportunity. What happened the other day will not happen again."

Nov was still angry and Victus could see it. The anger was that born of betrayal, he couldn't or wouldn't take it out on Sidda which left Victus. The fact that Nov didn't let his anger fall to Sidda confirmed that Nov was a good man and deeply loved Sidda. Things would never be fixed between himself and his former subordinate and he accepted that. Nov accepted the words and abruptly left before he did something rash.

"Callus," Victus called firmly and the Turian paused as the informal use of his first name. "thank you for saving my son." Nov lingered a moment but accepted it then left.

Sidda decided to not think or work or war after retiring to her quarters for the night. It had been a long day and it very late at night, before she went to bed she wanted to read a book. She was alone in her quarters and hadn't seen Nov since coming back from Tuchanka, part of that worried her. Nov entered and spared her a look, he may have made his decision but the hurt was still in his eyes. It was painful to see.

"You alright?" she asked as he sat down on the bed and began to remove his boots.

He'd just come from Victus and turn around the ship to cool his head. "I'm fine."

"You don't have to stay here if you don't want to." She said after long silence.

Nov looked over at her. The thought never crossed his mind. His oath as a husband notwithstanding, he loved her. Nothing she could do would change that and he believed her when she said that her indiscretion would never happen again. He stood and moved over to her hold out his left hand to her.

She looked up from her book and took his hand. His expression was gentle as she stood close to him. "There is nowhere I'd rather be, Sidda." He said and leaned his forehead down to hers.

"I love you." She replied and looked up at him before kissing him.