Friday, January 27, 2012

ME2 - Archangel

The unexpected ...

There are spoilers after the break.  Continue reading at your own risk.

Meriel's Personal Log, Entry Six
Location: Omega

Masquerading as a mercenary for hire to the Blue Suns was an interesting endeavor.  While the recruiter (if that is what you can call someone who signs up everyone with a gun) looked down on us with obvious disdain, it was quite clear that the three major gangs on Omega are at loose ends.  They desperately need the manpower that throw-away mercs could bring.  Despite what they said, it should be noted that I'm pretty sure that the Blue Suns would have still accepted us into their temporary ranks even without weapons or armor about our person.  With all the cannon fodder that has died in their vendetta against Archangel, the gangs were sure to have stores of extra gear lying about just for that occasion.  This assumption is further reinforced by the number of times people commented on the  fact that Jacob, Zaeed, and I looked like we could actually handle ourselves.  If this is the state of things now, Archangel has clearly been making a much larger dent in local "operations" then even I thought possible.

A desire to know just what I was getting my team into resulted in a number of rather prolonged conversations with both the Blue Suns' recruiter, transporter, and a fellow buy the name of Salkie.  Walking into a war zone masquerading as the enemy is dangerous enough when your potential ally has no clue who you are.  Turning on said enemy in the middle of an already tense situation, however, is even more dangerous when their confusion (and possibly that of your potential ally) will leave you surrounded on all sides.  Anything we could find out about this mission ahead of time would be helpful.  Every Blue Sun contact's story differed a little, with details being more frank and forthcoming the closer we got to the fight (and with the less opportunity we had to back out), but all three Batarians focused on two things.
1) Archangel had been picking their men off like flies.
2) Archangel was tiring.  
First of all, I was astonished that one man (or alien) had been able to hold off the three major "security services" on Omega for so long by himself.  The fact that he had done so spoke to an intimate knowledge of tactics and exceptional skill with ranged weaponry.  Secondly, I would be surprised if the so-called Archangel were not tiring at this point.  No one said how long he had been holed up in his current position on a bridge, but I was left with the impression that it had been at least a few weeks ... if not more.  With the constant waves of cannon fodder being sent against him, it was amazing that he had lasted this long.  When did he sleep?  When did he eat?  It was just as well that my team arrived when we did.

Our part in the assault on Archangel was three fold.  Parts one and two dealt with disarming technology.  After learning of the Blue Suns' intent to deploy both a heavily armed mec and a gunship, my team took it upon ourselves to see that the first would self-destruct and that the second would not have time to be fully repaired.  As part of a "scouting group," we would not be with the Suns when these machines would be in play.  As such, it was essential that we do everything possible to increase our chances of success.  Part three centered around the actual "scouting" mission.  The first thing I noticed, before barging in like the mindless hireling I was supposed to be, was that the Archangel really did have an excellent position.  Suddenly it became quite clear why he had lasted so long.  Elevated high above everything else around him, anyone trying to enter his building was forced to charge along a very open bridge while he picked them off one by one.  All teams advancing on the building were well withing firing range, and would have to dodge fire if they wished to survive.  Having witnessed first hand how accurate a shot the Archangel was, I more than convinced that not much "bullet dodging" had happened these past weeks.

Going into this situation, I was well aware that the Archangel had no way of knowing that we were on his side.  There was a very real chance that we would die along with the rest of the mercenaries in our company.  I cannot speak for Jacob and Zaeed, for my attention was demanded elsewhere, but our quarry did shoot at me once or twice.  Yet, despite being an impeccable shot, he never hit me.  Most suspicious.  It would seem that he had caught on to our game.  With guns drawn, my team advanced into the building while all the other scouts littered the bridge below.  After a glance our direction, and with another shot fired, Archangel placed his rifle on the floor and removed his helmet.  For a moment, my heart ceased to beat.

Archangel was Garrus. Garrus was Archangel. 

Despite what the Illusive Man's told me, Garrus did not disappear after I died. The implication had been that the turian was dead, yet now in front of me stood living, breathing evidence that Garrus was very much alive. He was right here with us.  With me.  What a sight for sore eyes.

The words "Shepard ... I thought you were dead," have never been so welcome to my ears.  Somehow I felt that I should reply in kind.  Instead, I stupidly asked if it was really him.  Way to go, Genius.

Internally I fought a major battle.  Part of me was delighted to have my old squad mate back.  The one person (Turian) who had never failed me, never doubted me, always supported me, always guarded my back, was standing right in front of me.  Provided Garrus hadn't changed too much in my absence, he would now be that perfect mix of the familiar and the dependable that I needed to ground me.  Unlike Cerberus' operatives, I could trust him to always tell the truth. Even if it was not the truth I wanted to hear, I knew he would not hold back.  He could be trusted to help keep the other Cerberus lackeys in line when in the field and most importantly, his presence would mean that I need not fight to save humanity all alone.  Yes, I have the Illusive Man's people, but I do not trust them ... except maybe Zaeed.  Sure, I have Joker to assist me, but he cannot leave the Normandy with me.  Joker understands people, reads situations, and provides vital intelligence about the crew.  He, however, is little help planet side.

I say "fought a major battle," because during this first meeting I very quickly remembered the presence of Jacob and Zaeed.  Jacob, by his own admission, does not fully trust me.  My overly positive reaction to Archangel's identity reveal is probably not helping that situation too much, given Cerberus' strong pro-human stance.  I have no clue what Zaeed thinks of me, but a man like him does not respect a commander who is soft.  In an effort to appear strong and focused, many of the things I wanted to say to Garrus simply had to wait. We could talk aboard ship ... provided he joined us.

I also really must note that while clearly pleased to find me alive, Garrus' pleasure could not mask the sense of self-loathing that I sense hanging heavily in the air surrounding him. No comment was made about how he came to be the so-called Archangel and not a word was said regarding how he came to be working alone.  All he would say was that his feelings once got in the way of his better judgement. Ominous at best, and vague at worst, I suppose that response is understandable.  I would worry even more if he chose to spill a story (that is quite clearly rather personal) in front of my current team.  That would be out of character.  This self-loathing is merely worrisome.  Garrus did promise though, that he would tell me how he got to this point, after we got out of there alive.  If it meant that he will eventually be working with me once more in a more permanent capacity, I could wait as long as he wanted.

With my mind back on the job at hand, and our real reunion postponed, we spent some time discussing strategies out of the current situation.  With us both of one mind, strategically, there was only a little give and take necessary.  Despite my general dislike of letting others take command, I saw no reason to take over the wheel in this situation.  Garrus not only had intimate knowledge that I did not, but he was also far too practical to mishandle my team.  The minor shows of deference to my command that he made were appreciated (I suppose old habits die hard), but entirely unnecessary.  We followed his lead.  After holding off the first wave of mercenaries, however, I did over rule him.  Fatigued as he was, Garrus insisted on manning the bridge by himself while my still-fresh team eliminated the fighters assaulting our base's alternate entrances.  There was no way I would let that happen.  Jacob did not like it, and said as much, but he stayed behind to guard Garrus' back.  I have a distinct feeling that Jacob resents "Archangel's" presence, but his sense of duty and propriety is far too active to directly countermand reasonable orders.  There was no fear that Jacob would shoot Garrus or refuse to assist him my absence. That, at least, is something. 

Omega's mercenaries proved a difficult fight, but thankfully their assault was met with little incident.  I wish I could have said we came out of this mission without casualty, however.  We could have if it were not for the infernal gunship which arrived as our mission was coming to a close.  I thought we had sabotaged that machine!  My team knew it had not  been completely disabled, but we never expected it to arrive at Archangel's base in full power.  With the gunship completely operational and Garrus' fatigue weighing him down ... Archangel never stood a chance.

The rest of that fight was mainly a blur for me.  After I saw Garrus crumple to ground, my team flew into a fire fighting frenzy.  Jacob and Zaeed were just trying to take the ship out.  I was desperate to finish things so that we could get Garrus to Dr. Chakwas.  Seeing him lie there, barely breathing, in a pool of his own blood made me fight all the harder.  It was difficult to not think about Alenko's fate at a time like that.

To have regained and then lost my friend in such a short amount of time ... it hurts to even think about it.  As I now wait to hear new from the Normandy' clinic, the old me is beginning to rear her ugly head.  It lectures me on the dangers of making friends and forming personal ties beyond those required for professional purposes.  War, after all, is never casualty free.  Forming personal bonds opens yourself up to the unnecessary pain of loss which will inevitably follow.  This new me, however, recognizes the dangers of not forming ties.  It is those ties that make war bearable, that provide some sense of purpose and belonging - neither of which are crippling weaknesses.

God, I hope Garrus will pull through.

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