Chapter 2: Moving Foward

Life as a C-Sec officer is never calm, always full of action, adventure, satisfaction, sometimes sadness, loneliness, among other emotions, and all in one day. Some days will be active, and others will be completely serene, but the Citadel arm known as Bachjret Ward is always on the run, always moving, never stopping. Robberies, assaults, protests, scams, any crime from minor to major was abundant in this area.

If a newly recruited officer is sent to this sector, an adventure full of life lessons awaits. Some would not put up with it, while others would adapt. Depending on their previous position, someone with time on the job would not care or complain about more work, but if you have certain freedoms to get out of the protocol, then the job for some becomes fun.

"Hey, Sojao, can you look this person up?" asked a turian as he handed over someone's file to a salarian.

"Sure thing. What do you wanna know?" asked Sojao as she started typing on her terminal.

"I'd like to know if he has connections with Sanford. Containers have gone missing by the docks, and I suspect he's got to do with it."

"Well, according to his file he-"

"Vakarian!" shouted another turian from behind. Garrus turned around. "Someone wants to see you."

"Can't you tell them to wait? I'm kinda busy at the moment," said Garrus in a quick manner.

"I'm afraid I can't. It's someone important. Said they wanted to see you personally," countered the other turian.

"Someone important? Who?" asked a puzzled Garrus.

"Councilor Anderson."

Anderson? Asked Garrus internally, he thanked his partner, immediately leaving the C-Sec offices, heading towards the nearest transit station.

After a few minutes, Garrus was now walking up the stairs, standing just outside the door from Anderson's office. He raised his hand and touched the holographic button next to the door, sending a signal to whoever was inside. Come in, the familiar voice from Anderson resonated behind the doors as they opened. Garrus walked in and saw Anderson standing out on the balcony, his hands wrapped together behind his lower back.

"Councilor Anderson, you wanted to see me?" asked Garrus as he got close to the middle part of the room.

"Please, just Anderson," he answered, turning around. "We've already passed the formalities."

"Sorry, sir. Old habits die hard." Anderson let out a small snort.

"Yes. They do. Take a seat," indicated Anderson as he reached his desk. Garrus followed the order and sat down. "You might be wondering why I'd call you here?" Anderson's face was in disbelief, like if he was weirded out or felt out of place. Garrus noticed but couldn't find any reason as to why, so he just nodded in response. "A few hours ago, we received a distress call from one of our vessels."

"A distress call? From one of your vessels? I can imagine how that would be important, but I don't see where I-"

"It came from the Normandy," said Anderson. His tone was grim. Garrus's eyes widened, mandibles opening wide. Garrus was now the one in disbelief. How could the Normandy fall under attack? No one aboard the ship was careless enough to let the enemy know their presence.

"Fro- the Normandy?" Anderson looked towards his terminal and made a few movements on it. A voice screen pop-up.

"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is SSV Normandy!" Joker's voice came out from the terminal, agitated and quick. "We've suffered heavy damages from an unknown enemy! I repeat, we've suffered heavy damages from an unknown enemy!" the voice came to an end.

Unknown enemy? Heavy damages? Various scenarios were running through Garrus's mind.

"After the distress beacon, Shepard ordered the crew to abandon the Normandy."

"How heavy are the damages we're talking about?" asked Garrus in a serious tone.

"According to the reports... a total loss. The Normandy is no more."

"Survivors?" asked Garrus without trying to show his worry. Years working in C-Sec led him to mask his emotions.

"Most of the crew made out alive, including Joker, T'Soni, Williams, and Miss Zorah." Garrus had an internal relief.

"What about Shepard?" Anderson looked away. Even someone like him couldn't hide his saddened state. It was all Garrus needed to know about his friend's fate.

A week later, the former ground team of the Normandy was sitting around a table, except Wrex, who was unable to be contacted. The team was inside a room from the human space station, Arcturus, where the Alliance held a ceremony in memory of Shepard and the lives lost in the attack against the Normandy. Thanks to Anderson, they were permitted to assist as special guests. The ceremony was quick and short, without dragging on unnecessary speeches or life lessons. The ceremony was direct in remembering the lost lives and how not to lose faith in what one believes.

"I still can't believe he's gone," said Ashley, spinning the liquid inside the glass she held.

"Me neither. I spoke to him just before the attack. Then a few hours later, Anderson calls me and..." Garrus sighed. "I don't know what to think."

"I just hope his death wasn't painful," said Liara, pressing her chest with one of her hands.

"If only I weren't so stubborn in trying to save the Normandy," said Joker, blaming himself for his Commander's death.

"You can't blame yourself, Joker. No one knew what would happen during the attack. Shepard's death is not on your hands," said Liara, her voice tone had that soothe any asari carry in their speech.

"I know, I know it's just..." Joker brought her head to his hands. "You know what the worst part is? The Council and the Alliance are already shutting down everything Shepard said and proofed about the Reapers," said an annoyed Joker.

"I know what you mean. The brass told me to keep shut about the Reapers. Not even a word or anything related to the mission with Shepard. Assholes," added Ashley.

"You know what really pisses me off?" Garrus commented. "That the Alliance couldn't find Shepard's body."

"How would they? He got spaced Garrus," Joker objected. "It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack."

"But they gave up in a week. A week! Searches for missing people have gone longer on the Citadel!" yelled Garrus.

"Oh yeah? Well, maybe that's because they aren't floating aimlessly in space!" shouted Joker back.

"At least we don't give up so easily as you humans seem to do!"

"Hey, don't try to generalize humanity with your stupid turian belief," said Ashley, joining the discussion.

"And there's the Ashley I remembered when we first met. One who only talks negatives about other races," said Garrus.

"If turians wouldn't be so stubborn in keeping that stick up their ass, maybe there wouldn't be a need to talk about it," shot Joker.

"Looks who's talking crippled-man," countered Garrus.

"Garrus, Joker, please stop this. This isn't the time to-"

"Liara, so far, you haven't said anything. It would be best if you stayed quiet," said Ashley cutting Liara off.

"So now you want to look down at asari too?" objected Garrus. The discussion from the ground team kept going, with insults being thrown around like bullets. If the table were divided into two, on one side, we would have Garrus and Liara. On the other, we would have Ashley and Joker. And right in the middle was Tali looking down at her hands resting on her knees. She hasn't been paying attention during the initial conversation.

Since the attack on Normandy and the official declaration of Shepard's death-disappearance, Tali has been held in a state of complete mourning and silence. Of all the members, she was the one who suffered the most and is still suffering the death of Shepard. Tali only spoke when it was necessary. She did not want to express or want to be heard by others. After the ceremony, no word has left her mouth, everything was locked in her mind, but the team discussion was changing that. The team lost its Commander, a friend. Today was a day to remember him and try to be filled with joy with the moments they lived together.

So why are you arguing then?

"You weren't there, Garrus! You don't have an opinion!" shouted Joker.

"Stop..." said Tali. Her voice was barely noticeable.

"And would being there have changed things?" asked Garrus.

"Stop..." said Tali. Her voice was a little louder.

"Maybe you could have saved him!"

"You're throwing your guilt to me?"

"Stop!" shouted Tali, this time high enough to bring an end to the discussion, catching everyone's attention. "Stop... just, stop!" Her voice was cracking, and her eyes were holding tears. "W-why... why are you fighting?" she asked, looking up. "Why...?"

"Tali, we-"

"No!" shouted Tali, cutting Garrus off. "This isn't what Shepard would want. He made us crewmates, friends... family. He would have wanted us to continue with our lives. That we continue to fight for what we believe in and find ways to stop the Reapers. But you, the only thing you are doing is destroying each other, tearing yourself apart over... over..." Tali brought her hands to her head, crying. The emotions she had kept inside her all this time were no longer possible to hold. She no longer cared if others listened to her. She just wanted to take out all the ills she had inside.

No one dared to say something. How could they? Tali's words were a straight punch to the gut for everyone, causing them to sit back down on their chairs, disappointed and repented. Nobody was content, they all wanted answers to the attack, but none were given, leading to negative emotions affecting everyone. The only thing they were getting was Tali's mournful and painful cry for the rest of the day.

"How the search going?" asked a man sitting on a leather chair in the middle of a dark room, wearing an expensive, almost formal, black attire. A Cuban cigar on one hand while the other rested on the chair.

"We got a lead on a remote mix species planet on the Terminus Systems. The body was handed over to the Blue Suns," answered a woman dressed in a tight white suit. The man went into a thinking posture, analyzing the information he was given.

"Head towards Omega. Patrol and intersect all of their communications. Even the smallest and faintest information of a dead body should be taken into account," ordered the man.

"Will do, sir," replied the woman.

"One last thing, Lawson. Check up on his old crew. See if anyone is doing something of interest..." The woman nodded, and the holographic image of her faded away.

The man turned his chair around. He brought the cigar to his mouth and took a long, slow drag while gazing at the giant burning sun that was floating in the endless dark void of space, slowly narrowing his eyes.

We'll find you, Shepard. Humanity still needs you. And I'll make sure to bring you back.

"So this is it?" asked Joker.

"I guess so," replied Garrus. "It was fun while it lasted." A faint smile appeared on his face.

"It doesn't have to end here. We can still see us from time to time, don't you think?" asked Liara, trying to cheer up the group. After the team returned from Arcturus, they remained a few more days on the Citadel. Some were just making time, letting their grief fade away, while others awaited orders or thought about what to do with their life from now on. At the moment, everyone was gathered close to the docks, sitting on a table from a small open-air restaurant. Their dispute from the ceremony was left behind, a situation everyone regretted, promising not to let it happen ever again.

"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Liara, at least not in such a short time," answered Ashley.

"Has the Alliance given you new orders?"

"I've been reassigned to colony patrol on the Attican Traverse. I don't know how much time will it be before a break but, I'm sure it will be a long one."

"At least you got something. My reassignment is still pending, according to Anderson," said Joker.

"I'm sure you'll get a good ship to fly, Joker," cheered Garrus.

"No ship will be as good as the Normandy. But here's hoping."

"What's your plan, Liara? Are you going to keep searching prothean ruins?" asked Ashley. The asari remained quiet for a moment.

"Yes, but I'll need to head back to Illium. There are some things I need to check up first before I continue searching prothean ruins in hopes of discovering something," she explained.

"Don't try to get yourself stuck in a prothean cell again, T'Soni," joked Garrus.

"That's a mistake I won't repeat," assured Liara.

"What about you, Tali?" asked Joker. No response came from her. "Tali?" She slightly moved her head. The glow from her eyes looked dim. The spark they had was absent.

"I... will return to my people. I think it is time for my pilgrimage to end," she answered. Sadness was noticeable in her voice.

"You know, when you say it like that, it sounds pretty awf-"

"Joker!" interrupted Ashley.

"It's okay, Ashley. I was going to return sooner or later. It is not the way I expected to do it, but..." Tali paused.

"You don't have to say it, Tali. I'm sure we all feel the same way about it," said Garrus. Nods from the others confirmed it.

"Excuse me, sir, your drinks," said an asari approaching the table with different glasses, different servings on each one.

"Oh, thanks," thanked Joker. The asari nodded en returned to the store

"Joker?" asked Ashley.

"Look, before everyone takes their horse and gallop away, I would like to have a final toast. I know... the last time we did this, it didn't end well, so I want to do it right this time. And I promise there's no Ryncol involved in any of this," explained Joker. The team hesitated for a moment but accepted Joker's offer. He gave everyone their drink. According to him, each glass was served with the favorite drink from each race. The drink for Tali was specially prepared for quarians. A packaged sterilized straw was also given to her. "So... uh, who wants to start?"

"I never thought one of my best friends would end up being human, among other things he showed me. But Shepard proved me otherwise. I'll honor him by becoming a Spectre and continue his fight, just like I promised," said Garrus, with confidence in his words.

"He did teach all of us something new," said Liara, smiling.

"Thanks to Shepard, I'm... able to complete my pilgrimage. He said that when it was done, I would prove the quarian's worth to the galaxy one day," said Tali. Happiness could be heard from her words. She was also filled with joy, remembering their talks from life in general to specifics or personal ones.

"I'm sure that day will come, Tali," assured Joker.

"It might sound off from me to say this but, I'll wait for that day too, Tali. And if we can help in any way, just ask," Ashley said honestly. Tali's eyes widened, like everyone else since they weren't expecting Ashley to say what she said, but it seems Shepard could still influence people, even in death.

"Thanks, Ashley. I... It means a lot to me to hear you say that," replied Tali.

"It's all thanks to Shepard. He gave me a new perspective."

"This is what I wanted, a good farewell filled with good memories," said Joker.

"Then let's wrap things up, Joker. Have the honor of the final words, unless anyone has anything else to say?" asked Garrus with his glass slightly raised. No one objected.

"All right, so to wrap things up," Joker paused for a moment. "I guess all I can say is... To carry on. To fight for what we believe in, not to let anyone tell us what to do, and to live our lives as best we can because that's what Shepard would have wanted," he said inspiringly. Everyone smiled and nodded, agreeing with his words. "To Shepard!" shouted Joker, raising his glass high.

"To Shepard!"

Author's Note:

Hello everyone! Hope you enjoyed the chapter.

For this chapter, I wanted to show you my idea of how things went after the attack on the Normandy. In my story, Shepard is the string that keeps everyone together initially until everyone really builds up that bond between them, but here, a short time after the defeat of Sovereign, the string that keeps them together was barely hardening, and when it broke, nothing really held the group together, leading each crew member to take a different path. First in a negative, unpleasant way but soon after, a happy pleasant one.

For the Cerberus part, (which is given away by Mirandas's last name) if you read the comics, you can see where I got the idea from. If you haven't read the comics, I recommend reading the "Foundation & Redemption" series.