Mass Effect: The Message

The monitor crackled, the screen flashing white before slitting into a horizontal line and fading out. Sparks burst from the upper left corner, causing the Turian to flinch, leaping back as he put an arm up protectively.

He’d been putting off the request for weeks now. A simple vidcom to high command and he’d have new equipment within an hour. It was a perk, one of many, that came with his new station. He preferred to calibrate the machines himself. He’d assumed once they’d be far easier than the weaponry he was so used too. He lamented the assumption, returning to the screen as he promised himself to see to it this weekend.

Once he was sure he wouldn’t be electrocuted, he slid his chair back up to the old desk and placed his palm against the glass. Once again, the monitor struggled, flashing static as it struggled to power up.
“Avina!” He called to the VI that managed his apartment, “What’s wrong with this thing?”
“One moment, Colonel Vakarian.” Avina replied in her usual pleasant voice. Garrus backed away from the monitor and waited, his legendary patience waning. He needed to get this out. They were out of time.

As if it had read his mind, the monitor suddenly flashed white, coming to life with the symbol of Palaven in the center. Avina spoke throughout the room; “I apologize for any inconvenience, Colonel Vakarian. Your vidcom is now operational.”
“Thank you.” Garrus replied. Avina had already gone into rest mode and didn’t reply.
At the upper left corner of the vidcom, a square cursor blinked, awaiting his command. Now that he had the damn thing working, he couldn’t think of what to say. No words would excuse his recent behavior. He hoped his recipient could see past all of that, and muster something in light of the crisis that had presented itself. He wondered if she was avoiding his call.

Garrus took a breath and raised his eyes to the screen. “Hey, Liara.” He began, “I hope you’re not mad at me for missing the last couple of meetings. Things are really ramping up here on Palaven. We thought it would take another year before Cipritine was completely operational, but these...upgrades...continue to prove themselves. Most of the residential district is powered and we’ve begun moving people home. The government should have power back within a week. We still encounter the occasional husk, but like the Admiral once said; they’re not quite the boogeymen they used to be.”

Garrus paused and chuckled, thinking back to the old days. Such a strange word; boogeyman. A term the humans had given to a nameless fear to make it less frightening. If it had a name, it lived, and if it lived, it could be killed. He’d always meant to look that word up, but duties, even now, kept him from much triviality.

He realized how long he’d been quiet and cleared his throat before resuming. “What about you, Liara? How are things on Thessia? I suppose you’d know if you’d bother to check in once in awhile. Listen, I know you know what you’re doing, but wandering through space is no way to raise a child. As an old friend, you may want to consider bringing little Benezia home, giving her a proper upbringing. We fought as hard as we did so proper upbringings were possible.”
Another pause as he remembered the reason for Liara’s journeying. He wouldn’t let the idea set in, though. Not after all this time. “Still, who knows.” He whispered, “Maybe you’ll actually find something.”

One last sigh, a half-heartbeat to ensure the certainty of his actions. Once he spoke this, it would no longer be a secret. His commission would be revoked if word got out.

Nothing I haven’t done before.

Colonel Vakarian, about the break the rules one last time.

When he spoke next, his tone was grave. “Liara, there’s something you should know.”
A quick breath and he began speaking. “I was talking with dad yesterday. Apparently, he took my talk about the Reapers a lot more seriously than I knew. Turns out, dad was part of something called the Andromeda Initiative. It was a last ditch option, in case the Reapers wiped us out. They took a hundred thousand Turian, Asari, and Humans and sent them into the Heleus Cluster.”

Garrus realized his heart was racing, his breath hot. The anger that came with the information had returned as he relayed it. “They sent all of those people into deep space to make new homes in case our worlds fell, Liara. We don’t know if they made it or not. They’re just out there, and as far as they know, there’s no home to come back too.”

Garrus sat up and leaned forward. “Liara, we have to get word to these people, and I have no idea how to do it. Hell, we don’t even know if they’re still alive. But we may have sent three hundred thousand people to their deaths for nothing. If there's any chance of reaching those people, we have to take it. Otherwise, Thane, Mordin....Shepard...they'll all have died for nothing. If they’re still out there at all, they need to know the war is over, and they have a home to come back too. They need to know this is safe harbor.”

He exhaled to keep his heart from fighting its way out of his chest. “My next call is to Tali, see if the Quarians have any ideas. I promise I’ll make the next get-together. Return this call when you can. We need to bring our people home.”

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I'm an avid and lifelong gamer who's been going at it since the Atari 2600. I blog about writing, tech, life, love, and surviving abuse over on The Road Home. Extra Lives is where I share free short stories. My first short story "The Anniversary" is available on Amazon. Thanks for reading!


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