– Tom Heath
Whereas our previous In Memoriam articles have focused on the unavoidable deaths of characters from beloved video games, today we shall be paying tribute to one that was completely non-compulsory, and was twice as heartbreaking. The game is Mass Effect, RPG maker Bioware’s sci-fi dating simulator that also happened to have a kick-ass, choice driven narrative and, as such, I cannot go further without throwing up our trademarked (PENDING) spoiler warning.
To continue on, scroll past the photo of me, a grown ass man, hugging a giant teddy bear almost too lovingly.
Many characters can, or can not, perish over the course of the Mass Effect trilogy. Which ones, and when, are mostly up to the player’s decisions so while there are characters who must die by the end of the series, they can die at different points and others can survive the entire thing.
I lost several comrades while trying to save the universe as commander John Shepard (I went with the standard name/avatar; I’m boring, I know), but many of those instances felt out of my control. A scientist sacrificed himself because he believed in my cause, and for his own redemption; an alien warrior was executed by a rogue comrade for losing his cool; and another killed herself after watching her entire species perish in an instant. These moments were brutal, but there was one that will forever weigh on my sweet, bulky, N7 armoured shoulders.
I speak of the untimely demise of Garrus Vakarian.
We met on the Citadel, where I inadvertently aided him in taking down some thugs. I was the first human “Spectre” in history, he was a Turian investigator. We didn’t know it at the time, but from that moment on we were destined to be brothers in arms, just two guys conquering evil across the stars.
It was guy love, between two guys. Garrus was my go-to-man, always by my side on every mission. We had each others’ backs, we trusted each other, we platonically LOVED EACH OTHER.
But at the end of Mass Effect 2, our friendship came to an end. And it was all my fault…
In the climactic ending referred to as the “suicide mission”, I was faced with many decisions. One of those decisions was who to designate to which teams in order to complete our objectives. My role was to lead the team that would take a Biotic (like a wizard, only with science) through an area swarmed with Seekers, using their biotic powers to hold them at bay. I chose a woman named Jack as my Biotic. We hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye, and she was a bit unpredictable compared to my other Biotics, but her biotic strength had been augmented beyond belief and I thought that strength would give us the best chance of survival.
I also took Garrus, my trusted friend.
As we approached the airlock that would lead us out of the Seeker infested hot-zone, Jack lost control of her biotics. The protective shield she’d been casting around us began to waver. The airlock was almost open when suddenly she collapsed, her shield gone and soon to be swarmed by Seekers. As I forced the airlock door open, Garrus did what he did best: like the badass he was, he ran back out to save Jack. He grabbed her and in true heroic fashion tossed her through the airlock to safety. But it was too late for him, and as the airlock doors closed, I could do nothing but watch as the Seekers tore Garrus out of sight.
My team member choice got him killed. I went for strength over reliability, was not objective in my leadership, and Garrus paid the price. Other players’ choices have had their entire team survive the mission, and Garrus can go on to survive the entire series. But for Garrus and I, it was not meant to be.
In my dreams, I still hear the Seekers swarm…
RIP Garrus Vakarian
Tom may one day get over his guilt regarding Garrus’ death, but it is not this day. This day, he looks for follows on Twitter! @tomdheath. LoadScreen is also on Twitter, and is a pretty sweet follow if you’re into gaming. Which you must be, because you’re awesome. Check it out here: @load_screen.