Thanks to Reikson for the help and advice and support.
It was like we'd been preparing for this, for all the months that we'd fought together. The assault went off without a hitch. Xander, Wrex, and Garrus, all went in through the basement.
Meanwhile, I took Alenko and Liara to knock on the back door. What we found waiting for us turned out to be disturbing in ways that none of us had ever seen before.
Funny thing was that the biggest challenge, the thing that almost destroyed us, wasn't the fanatical synthetics or the brainwashed troops. The thing that almost broke us was a little thing that was so simple that I missed it until it was too late. After everything we had seen and done. After everything we had been through.
I'd honestly thought that I had the trust of the whole group, that they would follow my lead without question... more the fool I, it would seem. That mistake almost lost me the war right there, costing me the life of the bravest and most honorable soldier that I'd ever known.
A roar filled the air as a fuel depot went up in flames. Garrus watched through the scope of his sniper rifle as a hulking Geth model, a bipedal design built like a linebacker in armor, reacted to the sound by charging their position. He waited until its glowing eye filled the viewfinder of his rifle scope before gently squeezing the trigger. A modded round slammed into the Geth's eyepiece... another perfect headshot.
He grinned at Wrex, who snorted. "What do you want, an award?" the old Krogan sneered.
"Yeah, 'cuz you make kills like that every day... oh, wait. You don't because you can't." Garrus sneered back.
Wrex didn't answer. Instead, he smoothly stepped out from behind his cover and gestured at a group of Geth firing on him. The electric blue of a biotic field suddenly flared into existence, as Wrex's Lift snared four Geth Troopers and disrupting their personal gravity. As they floated upward, he hit all three of them dead center with blasts from his shotgun.
He'd turned to make a joke at the Turian when another of the huge Geth models stepped out from behind cover, firing a rocket that exploded hard enough to knock the old Krogan Battlemaster to the ground.
"What the hell was that!?" Xander yelled as he joined them.
"Geth Prime!" Garrus bellowed back.
"...firing a Goddamn rocket at us?!?" Xander squawked. "When did they start doing that?!?"
Wrex struggled back to his feet and roared as he threw a Warp at the Geth Prime. Xander watched at the synthetic's blood red armor cracked and twisted under opposing gravitational fields and as the Krogan brought up his shotgun and fired a single blast into the Geth's body that tore the synthetic beast in half.
"You can keep your sniper rifle, cuttlebone." the old Krogan sneered. "Me, I like it up close and personal."
"Now, now, you two," Xander soothed, smirking. "If you two don't stop all that flirting, people will start to talk."
"So you took out the fuel depot, then." Garrus guessed.
Xander nodded. "Got a ton of their Recon Drones in the process. Ashley's team should have an easier time of it."
"Nice explosion. Your woman will be pleased." Wrex said, muted appreciation in his deep voice.
"Ashley isn't MY WOMAN, Wrex. We humans don't control our females."
Wrex snorted. "As if that much wasn't obvious. Looking at Shepard and Williams, they can take more pain then your males. They carry the children to term and they seem to fight better."
"I've heard that they live longer then your males as well." Garrus added, chuckling.
"Well... that might not be true in EVERY male's case." Wrex then added, sniggering.
As part of the Noveria ground team, Wrex, Liara, and Shepard were the only ones who knew of Xander's unique nature. He knew that might eventually HAVE to change, but there was still a small and defiant part of him that was determined to keep his immortality a secret for as long as possible. He was determined to hold on to the joy of having people treat him like the normal guy he used to be.
Xander shot the Krogan a warning look, but the old warrior only smirked at him. "She's chosen well, though. You seem like you'd make good breeding stock."
"That's practically a proposal of marriage from a Krogan," Garrus chuckled. "Williams had better appreciate the trouble that you've gone to. Last time I checked, the point of a diversion was to draw the enemy's attention AWAY from you."
"She's on a diversionary team, Garrus, not a suicide run. If I can make life easier for her and Admiral Ackbar, then I will."
The Turian shook his head, muttering, "Fine, fine. It's time for us to make our entrance anyway." Checking his chronograph, he then said, "T'soni and Alenko should be helping Shepard draw their attention. Right... about... now."
Xander nodded and walked over to the door, his omni-tool flaring to life as he hacked the internal components of its lock. The door slid open and the three squad mates trekked down into the sub-cellar, filthy sewage swirling around their booted feet.
Needless to say, the three of them were glad that they had helmets with respirators that blocked out the sewer's stench. But the irony of his situation had Xander sighing. "In another sewer, looking for another big bad. It's nice to know that some things in my life will never, ever change."
They reached a doorway and another hackable security panel. Xander made short work of the panel and the door slid aside, letting them into a large room with stairs lead upward to a door with a large security console in front of it. Along the railing overlooking their position were several Salarians looked down at them.
"Where'd they come from?" Xander asked.
"Didn't that Captain say that he'd lost several men investigating this place?" Garrus speculated aloud.
Xander shrugged, saying, "I assumed they were dead."
Then the Salarians raised weapons and began shooting at them.
"Dead, no. Switched sides? Definitely!" Wrex snarled, yanking Xander back out of the line of fire.
"You think Shepard knows?!?" Xander bellowed over the gunfire.
"If she hasn't figured it out by now, then she'll know soon enough!" Garrus snapped back while trying to keep the Salarian's heads down with his assault rifle's suppressing fire.
"They're not fighting right!" Wrex suddenly shouted. "No tactics, no organization... they smell wrong, too!"
A shot made Xander duck his head. "Less talky, more shootie!" he bellowed back.
Garrus aimed his sniper rifle, taking out three of the Salarians in as many seconds. But a fourth jumped to the bottom of the stairs, running wildly toward them.
"It wants you dead! It needs me to kill you!" The Salarian screamed.
Xander pointed his omnitool and the Salarian's gun went quiet. Wrex unleashed a blast of biotic energy and the Salarian was thrown across the room and crashed against the far wall with bone-jarring force.
The STG operative writhed on the floor, murmuring to himself. Xander bent down and listened.
"What's he saying?" Garrus asked. "What does he want?"
Xander straightened up, a look of shock on his face. "To die. He wants us to kill him."