August 25th 2186
Millennium Convention Center, Northern London
The past 6 days had been the longest of his life. After the Summit the waiting game had begun. With the operation still a week away his immediate superior General Corinthus had heard reports of drunken fights breaking out in the city. He sent Garrus to find out the problem. What Garrus found was to him both a miracle and the first step towards a dream. Several massive warehouses near Granary Warf were filled to the brim with bottles of Champaign, Beer, Wine, and other types of liquor. He got a perimeter set up and to the dismay of many soldiers Garrus had the liquor carted from the warehouses to Northern London. On the 20th the liquor, some 500,000 bottles in total were sent up to Millenium Square near the Northern Edge of London. The square and the Convention Center bordering it were built in 2066 to commemorate the millennial anniversary of The Battle of Hastings and the creation of England. As the liquor was stacked Garrus got an idea. On the 21st he went to see General Corinthus whos HQ was nearby. Garrus had requested instead of taking the liquor away they might instead create a controlled place where soldiers could go to de-stress. Garrus recommended turning part of the Millennial Convention Center into a bar. Corinthus had doubts about it but went ahead to approve Garrus's plan. Garrus had always had a dream of someday opening his own bar. His father had done so nearly 28 years before. After an amazing day of construction Garrus finished the bar on the 22nd with the help of his "Hammered Unit" who originally had been the men responsible for the destruction of the prized liquor. On the 23rd Garrus moved all the beer into the basement of the Convention Center. He came up with the name for the bar as he looked at the landscape around the Convention Center. Most of the buildings in the district had been leveled by the Reapers and Garrus decided to call the bar, THE ROCK AND RUBBLE because of this. By the morning of the 24th the bar looked like an old fashioned bar. Garrus asked 3 men of his unit to serve as bar keeps and he became one as well. They elected him proprietor and at 12:00 on the 24th the bar opened to an anxious crowd of soldiers. He had served 4,000 soldiers the first day and just about every member of the Galactic races except the Krogan who were stationed in Woking several miles to the Southwest. As the day drew to a close General Corinthus himself had stopped by to inspect the new bar. Garrus had also employed several MPs to serve as security for the bar. Corinthus thought the MPs were a nice touch and was impressed with the bar's efficiency. As Corinthus left the bar at 12:00 he made a comment to Garrus that he would make a good Politician because of his efficiency, but Garrus had cringed at the comment. He hated politics.
He had received a message from Admiral Hackett that several units had restarted the breweries around Southern England to help supply the bar. Garrus had been thankful that the supply would not run dry. Finally the time came to close the bar. He moved to the counter to clean up some half-filled tankards. Suddenly he had an awful flashback. He remembered just before the push towards the conduit almost two weeks before he and Shepard knew they were probably not going to survive. He had told Shepard that whoever reached Heaven first would buy a round for the one that reached it second. They had a laugh about that. Now Garrus felt immensely guilty. He looked down at the smooth wood of the bar counter.
Garrus: "Why am I still alive while Shepard clings to life?"
It was a question he could not answer. Shepard may die still and Garrus knew if he did that comment would haunt him for the rest of his life. He felt foolish. As he grabbed the last tankard from the table he went to a sink built behind the counter. As he was about to dump the beer still in it, something caught his eye. He looked at the beer in the tankard and to his horror he saw Shepard's reflection staring back at him. He quickly looked up expecting him to be there but there was no one. He glanced back inside the tankard and the only reflection was his. He sighed he felt tired and sad, the worst combination in his opinion.
Garrus: "I need to lay off the booze for a while..."
He put the tankard in the sink, and closed up shop for the night.
Millennium Convention Center, Northern London
Today Garrus's fellow Turians decided to get a party together not only to see two of their own go off on an important mission but also to ease the tension that had grown in the city. 570 people had been invited, the max number the bar could hold. The bar was mostly filled with Turians but a group of Alliance soldiers, several Elcor, a squad of Asari, several Salarians and several Volus also came. Marius had come with Garrus that morning and now Marius sat in a corner talking with some old buddies of his. Garrus and Marius were no strangers to danger and neither felt afraid for what tomorrow would bring. Hackett had decided to make the mission public since he saw no need to keep information from the men and women who had fought so valiantly to destroy the Reapers. He also announced the mission to Harbinger was to begin at 12:00 the next afternoon. There were a few though that had never been exposed to danger. One of those was Gael'Ra. Gael arrived with his commander, Tali at 1:30 along with several other Quarians. Gael had quickly been pulled into the celebration though and Tali had gone to converse with Marius. Garrus for now was alone in his own private world, at the head of his beloved bar.
Garrus: "So, where you ladies stationed at?"
Garrus was wiping the bar down. He hadn't received many patrons on his end but his other 3 barkeeps had. He was serving three Asari Marines. The Asari closest to him said:
Asari 1: "Granary Warf"
Asari 2: "Uh...I think its call Buck-in-a-ham Palace?"
Garrus stifled a laugh he knew what she was referring to only because he had been there a few days back.
Garrus: "That place I heard looked amazing, that is until a Reaper decided to redecorate"
Asari 2: (Nods) "Yeah according to a few locals it used to house royalty"
Garrus looked at the third Asari who seemed to not want to speak.
Garrus: "What about you?"
The last Asarui looked at him with a sad look but the second Asari spoke for her.
Asari 2: "She lost quite a few friends right where she is stationed....its a few blocks from whats left of the Conduit"
Garrus looked at the last Asari who looked down obviously trying to hide her sadness. He knew how she felt.
Garrus: "Hey...I was there and I lost my closest friend taking it, I'm not even sure if he will live, but you, your alive...and I know how that feels to live while everyone else does not, but you've got to live on and fight for those who are still living."
It was an odd moment for him since he rarely gave such deep advice. But the Asari looked at him and said quietly,
Asari 3: "You're right...
Garrus nodded. Suddenly the piano that the Alliance had donated to the bar began to play. He had not heard it play yet since no one seemed to how to work it except the Humans. He glanced at the player and realized it was a boy who looked 16 or 17 in a dirty Alliance uniform. The tune he played reverberated through the whole bar and soon everyone began to quiet down and glance toward the boy playing the piano. The three Asari Marines in front of him got up to join their comrades near the back. Garrus did not seem to notice for the tune was pulling him in as it was with everyone else. Never had he heard such perfect sound. Then the boy began to sing a song he never heard before:
Boy: "Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on"
Garrus instantly realized its meaning as did a few others. It was a call to reason, a call to unity and friendship. They all had suffered hardship during the past 4 months, and some even far longer than that. As the boy repeated the stanzas twice the rest of the Alliance men joined in obviously knowing the song. Then a few Turians tried to join in and one was really drunk and slurred the lyrics. Garrus felt something rise inside of him. He felt for the first time a part of something bigger. Then the boy entered the next part of the song.
Boy: "Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show
You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on"
As the boy repeated the second verses half the bar was now in synch with the song those who couldnt do it either listened or hummed along with it. Garrus felt someone next to him and he turned. It was Tali, and she was watching the boy at the piano. She didn't have her visor on, actually he had not seen her with it on since she was released from the hospital. But she still wore the bottom part that covered her mouth. Garrus smiled. And Tali looked away from the boy at Garrus.
Garrus: "Tali...Its so good to see you well"
Tali: (Nods) "It's always good to have your friends well"
Garrus noticed the empty stool in front of him that had been vacated by one of the Asari Marines.
Garrus: (Motions to stool) "Here sit, we have a long day tomorrow"
Tali: (Smiles) "I can't remember a day when it wasn't long"
As Tali sat down the boy entered the third part of the song, which he realized must be Lean on Me for there was emphasis on that part of the song.
Boy: "If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me"
Then those singing along sang the last few lyrics which were the same:
"Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (call me)
Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (if you ever need a friend)
Call me (call me)
Call me (if you need A friend)"
As the lyrics ended the boy made the last few notes loud and moving until finally the last note rang through the quiet bar. It struck a chord with everyone and some began to cry or hug each other. Tali wiped away a tear. And Garrus felt good he still had those he cared about alive...even Shepard who he wasn't sure would live. Suddenly a Turian began applauding and soon the entire bar rang with applause as the boy stepped down. He took a bow and then was swarmed by his Alliance comrades who lifted him up and took him back to their table an obvious hero. Another Turian approached the piano.
Turian 1: "Hey everyone! I have some skill with this instrument since I attended some human music class back on Palavan! Who wants a bar song!?"
Everyone cheered especially the Turians. One of the Turians fell completely drunk and his buddies helped him back to his feet. Instantly the Turian began to play the song which was upbeat and the Turians soon began to sing along to it. And Garrus realized it was a drinking song he knew too well. Tali turned to him and smiled.
Tali: "So, Garrus do you know that song?"
Garrus: (Laughs) "Unfortunately...yes"
Garrus felt glad that Tali had not changed since the Battle of London began and ended. If she changed at all she had become more understanding of hardship. He however had felt himself become less fun and stricter and stressed .Tali was watching the Turians attempt to dance and two fell onto a table packed with a group of Volus soldiers who were in the middle of a card game. Garrus glanced at the cabinet full of liquor on the wall and he felt he might as well offer Tali something.
Garrus: "Would you like something to drink Tali?"
Tali: (Glances at Garrus then the liquor cabinet) "I'll have something, but not too strong"
Garrus went to the cabinet and looked at all the liquor. He saw a bottle of Stout that said: Blackheart Stout: Vintage 2030. He pulled it out of the cabinet and placed it down in front of Tali.
Garrus: "I think this may be what youre looking for
Tali eyed the bottle and notice the date on it.
Tali: This drink is older than me
is it still good?
She looked up at him and Garrus pulled out a corkscrew as he smiled.
Garrus: Lets find out
He popped the cork and the drink began to fiz as some of it poured down the sides and Garrus laughed.
Garrus: I think its good Tali
Tali: (smiles) You never know
Before she grabbed it Garrus remembered something that Shepard had told him about her a month back and he laughed inside of his head. He happened to have the object that had produced so much humor on hand.
Garrus: Wait a second, you might need something
Tali: (Withdraws hand from the bottle) whats that?
Garrus reached into a drawer built into the counter and pulled out a straw he smiled as he showed it to her.
Garrus: (Winks) I was aware you may need an Emergency Induction Port to drink it
Talis face instantly blushed and she became self-conscious and stammered her speech.
Tali: (Looks away from Garrus out of embarrassment) Um
.eh who told you that?
Garrus: Shepard, he was worried about you that day
Tali looked back at Garrus and took the bottle of Stout.
Tali: We lost Miranda Lawson that day
I dont take well to loosing people
Garrus knew how she felt. He remembered that Tali did not like Miranda but after she had died he noticed Tali had changed. She had become more aware of peoples hearts, that how people acted was not usually who they were inside.
Garrus: I understand, and neither do I
Tali nodded and reached into a pouch on her belt for a Antibiotic pill Dr. Barlow had prescribed her. Garrus watched her take her mouthpiece off and take the pill.
Garrus: You required now to take those?
Tali: Yeah at least until my immunity is strong enough to where I wont get sick as easily
Tali reached for the Stout and took a drink. Her face had a strange look on it and she place the bottle back on the counter.
Garrus: Was it good?
Tali: (nods) To an extent, though they could make it less dry
The Turians were now nearly done their song and other people began to offer to try and play the piano. As Garrus, and Tali conversed Marius and Gael were off to the side trying to get to know each other. And Garrus knew that their 4 man team would be the ones who would play the first part of their journey home. He thought they might as well do a toast to success.
Garrus: (Yells at Marius) Marius! Get yourself over to my corner, Gael too!
Tali looked to where Garrus had yelled, and Marius acknowledged Garrus with a salute. Within a few seconds Marius and Gael were there and Garrus motioned to the two other empty seats and Gael and Marius sat down.
Garrus: Glad you two can join us
Marius: (Looks from Garrus to Tali) So what are we doing? Going over the plan?
Gael was silent.
Garrus shook his head and pulled four shot glasses from under the countertop. And Tali, Marius, and Gael eyed them.
Garrus: No. I have not had the privaledge of sharing a drink with you three, and before we set off tomorrow on the beginning of whatever else fate has in store Id like to propose a toast
Marius and Tali nodded.
Marius: A nice gesture sir, Id be honored
Tali: (Pulls the shot glasses towards her) Ill fill them
Gael looked at the bottle of Stout on the table and he looked at Garrus
GaelRa: Ive never drank before
They all looked at him. Tali finished filling all 4 of the glasses full of Stout.
Tali: Youll get used to it Gael, promise
Tali pulled out another antibiotic pill and gave it to Gael.
Tali: Here, you might need this
Gael knew what the pill was.
Gael: How am I supposed to take it?
Garrus nearly laughed but he pulled the straw back out and handed it to Gael.
Garrus: With this Emergency Induction Port
Tali blushed again as Gael took the straw and eyed it.
Gael: How does the Port work?
Tali: (Shakes her head at Garrus before turning to help Gael) Here Gael
Tali took the straw and fitted it into his mouth piece. She crushed up the pill and put it into his drink.
Garrus looked at all three of them with pride. He raised his glass as Marius and Tali did. Gael hesitated but then lifted it.
Garrus: To the success of the mission and a way home!
Marius: Here, Here
As they all took the drink Gael had trouble again but Tali helped him. And Garrus thought to himself. Without the help from my friends or comrades
.I wouldnt be where I am today.
As the sun set over London. Hackett looked out one of the windows of the cathedral. The whole operation, the Mass Relay Project, relied on the data within Harbinger and as day turned to night and with barely 15 hours before it started Hackett said a prayer that all would be right after this was all over.