[identity profile] shady-fetish.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Reach and Flexibility
A Shepard/Garrus Manifesto
Pairing: Shepard/Garrus
Author: shady_fetish
Wordcount: 3019


Mass Effect is a science fiction game released from Bioware, also known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. The main character is Commander Shepard, a soldier who is promoted to a Spectre, or a right hand of an intergalactic council run by alien races. Shepard is ordered by the council to pursue Saren, a Spectre who has gone rogue and allied himself with an enemy race called the Geth.

The second Mass Effect takes place two years after the first game, and has Shepard gathering an elite crew together so that s/he can figure out why human bases are disappearing around the galaxy. This leads Shepard to recruit a variety of fighters including a Krogan, a Salarian, an Asari Justicar, and of course, Garrus himself.


An important note before we begin:

The player can make Commander Shepard can be a male or female. Although in canon the Garrus romance is for females only, for the sake of discussion, I shall just refer to the commander as "Shepard" and "s/he", because I believe this pairing works regardless of whether Shepard is a male or a female.


At the beginning of Mass Effect, the player has the opportunity to customize the commander in both history and appearance. Regardless of said history, ranging from being an Earthborn war hero to a colonist survivor, Shepard starts off as an officer on the U.S.S. Normandy under the command of Captain Anderson. After the events of Eden Prime, and dealing with the council, she is allowed into the ranks of the Spectres and is ordered to track down Saren.

Commander Shepard, whether or not you portray the commander as "good" or "evil" (I use those terms loosely), is a tough-as-nails, edge-of-your-seat type of character who uses her/his past life experiences to her/his advantage. S/he is independent, strong and prepared to make quick decisions on the spot, a most notable example in-game being when the council has ordered the Normandy to stay docked after Shepard requests to go to Ilos. In a decision that truly shows her/his ability to follow his/her instincts, Shepard goes directly against the orders of the council not because s/he is trying to rebel against the alien races, but because s/he genuinely believes that it's necessary for the greater good of humanity regardless of the rules. These character qualities of Shepard are important, because they are complimentary to Garrus's characterization.


Very little is known of Garrus's past. It is known that that he hails from the home planet of Palaven. It is also known that he worked in C-Sec before he met Shepard. By the time Shepard and Garrus meet, Garrus dislikes the limitations that he is under as a C-Sec officer. He has been previously described as hot-headed, something that goes against the law abiding ways of C-Sec. Garrus's frustration is doubled by the fact that he has been trying to uncover Saren's duplicity himself, but as explained in-game, since Saren is a Spectre, his actions are classified. This leads Garrus to quit C-Sec and, if the player accepts it, to join Shepard and his/her crew on the Normandy.

Garrus, despite his life experience, is still very much wet behind the ears, and perhaps even a little naive at times. He simply doesn't have as much experience following his gut instincts. He may want to be a rebel, as exhibited in his continuous insistence that he wants to find out what it's like to be a Spectre and his scoffing at C-Sec regulations.

However, he also has a habit of falling back into his old habits of being bound to higher powers, one example being on Noveria when Shepard is given the option to set an alien race free or to eradicate them. If Garrus is in your party, he points out that "the Citadel Council should be left to decide their fate". Essentially, Garrus is at a point where he wants to start branching out on his own, and he is aware that he can, but isn't sure where to start.


"Make sure to stay hydrated."

--Garrus to Shepard on Therum, Mass Effect

If there is one running theme in Shepard and Garrus's relationship in both games, it is a matter of trust. Separately, they are both dynamos in their own way depending on how the player controls Shepard. Together though, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Even in the first Mass Effect when Shepard/Garrus was but a crack pairing, there were the foundations of a great couple. Strictly speaking of personality, they are both loyal, if not lonely with a limited number of friends for whatever reasons they may have, whether it be a tragic past on Shepard's part or Garrus's heavy amount of work in C-Sec. Being in the line of duty, Garrus and Shepard are both used to taking orders and closing themselves off from others.

One could even say that Garrus is still closed off at first when he first joins the team on the hunt for Saren in the first Mass Effect. As the game goes on though, and the commander really gets to know Garrus, it becomes clear that he wants to be more than who he is right now.

Probably the biggest thing that shows this in the first game is when Garrus thanks Shepard for letting him come along on the Normandy. After showing his gratitude for the opportunity he received to learn from Shepard, Garrus will state that he's decided to try out for the Spectre rank once more after having been previously barred by his father, with additional reapplication for C-Sec if Shepard is of the Paragon alignment. Personally, this is one of the most rewarding things that I get out of Shepard and Garrus as far as the first game goes:

Shepard really pushes Garrus. Despite having worked at C-Sec for so long, Garrus needs this push. Some characters have called him terms like "hot-headed" and "kid". He has stated that he hates being forced under "red tape", and has generally argued with people of higher rank than him previously. When Garrus doesn't argue with Shepard pushing him in different directions, he doesn't argue and he doesn't rebuke. He simply listens, and takes what Shepard has to heart. When I see that, I just can't help but feel that Garrus truly respects Shepard, and trusts the commander enough to let him/her push him, when other crew members of the Normandy aren't quite as trusting as he is.


"Are we crazy to be even thinking about this? ...Look, Shepard, I know you could find something a little closer to home."

"I don't want someone closer to home. I want you. I want someone I can trust."~Garrus and Shepard, Mass Effect 2


The second Mass Effect takes place two years after the first Mass Effect. Things haven't been easy for Commander Shepard, having been killed at the beginning of the game when a Collector ship attacks the Normandy, and then being clinically dead until s/he is revived by a corporation called Cerberus via the Lazarus Project. As if that wasn't terrible enough, Shepard is then forced to ally with Cerberus to find out why human colonies have been disappearing, something many have not been fond of, including Shepard's previous romantic interest (depending on if Shepard previously romanced someone). This eventually leads him/her to gather a team of various party members for a suicide mission.

One of these party members is Garrus, who has been going by the code name "Archangel"and has spent considerable time on Omega showing the locals his version of justice. By the time Shepard locates Garrus, he has developed a reputation for being disliked by most of the major mercenary groups that exist out in Omega, a notorious haven for criminals. The mercenary groups, usually never associating with one another, have opted to team up against Garrus, and as a result have left him surrounded when Shepard finds him. As one can deduct, Shepard gets Garrus out of there successfully since he joins the crew, but not before he takes a scarring blow to the face.

Not only that, but Garrus has also had his share of troubles in the past two years that Shepard was dead as well. After becoming fed up with the Citadel's system, he ended up moving out to Omega and gathering a squad together to fight the local gangs. Things were going well for him until one of his squad members, a turian named Sidonis, betrayed his entire team. This leaves Garrus more lost in the world than ever, despite having freed himself from control of any order.

Needless to say, he has seen better days.

It is not as if Garrus's troubles glossed over. In fact, his loyalty mission deals with Sidonis and a previous C-Sec co-worker and a contact who knows Sidonis's wheareabouts, Harkin. Garrus's loyalty mission is a clear example of a situation where the more brutal side of his personality comes out. He is quick to lash out, nearly breaking Harkin's neck impulsively. His mood becomes noticeably angrier and darker, even making Shepard ask Garrus if he is alright on multiple occasions. Depending on how Shepard handles the situation, Sidonis can either escape with only his guilt or be shot by Garrus.


It is after the situation with Sidonis is dealt with that it is possible for Shepard to get Garrus to open up. The romance subplot starts off as light flirting, as do all the romances in the game. Gender related game mechanics aside, Shepard admits being attracted to Garrus after he brings up a one-night stand from when he was working on a ship that was fighting Batarian pirate cruisers.

Given the slightly random way that Shepard confesses his/her feelings for Garrus, it is not surprising to know that it is, well, initially awkward despite their established friendship, mostly because of the difference between species. Garrus unintentionally makes innuendos, Shepard pushes him, and things begin playfully all around. Even Mordin, the Salarian doctor on the commander's crew, contributes to the humorous tone when he gives advice to Shepard concerning interspecies romance.

The night that Garrus and Shepard decide to really take things a step further, however, things come to light. Things are still awkward, with Garrus unsure how to act around a human and trying his best to please Shepard, but his wall literally breaks down after Shepard intervenes:

"It's just...I've seen so many things go wrong, Shepard. My work at C-Sec, what happened with Sidonis...I want something to do right, just once. Just..."

I could have reworded and summarized, but I felt I couldn't have said it any other way. I feel that this succinctly says a lot about Garrus, and it sums up his character perfectly for Mass Effect 2, as well as the major hurdle he's had to climb over into order to go from being the commander's friend to his/her lover. He's had to open himself up to trust someone else again and now with Shepard, he's willing to admit how fragile his mindset is.

With this in mind, it becomes clear that Shepard and Garrus's relationship isn't just a one-night stand. Both of them genuinely care about one another. Garrus repeatedly insists on his respect for Shepard through out the entire romantic subplot, even going so far as to state that Shepard is "the only friend [he's] got left in this screwed up galaxy".

One could easily say that Garrus is Shepard's only close friend as well. Since Shepard is working for Cerberus, which is not a very popular group with most people, most others don't trust him/her as much. Most of the commander's old comrades from the hunt for Saren are not afraid to voice their displeasure.
Even Tali, a Quarian and a team mate who was also from the hunt for Saren, admits that she is not fond of Cerberus and only joins the team for the suicide mission because of Shepard.

Garrus, most notably, is the one of the only team mates from the hunt for Saren who doesn't question Shepard's motives.

This brings back the running theme in Garrus and Shepard's relationship, which is one of trust, and a reason why this pairing appeals to me so much out of all the romantic options for Shepard. Garrus trusts Shepard enough to follow the commander into a suicide mission, and Shepard trusts Garrus enough to allow Garrus to stay on the team despite his past issues.


While there are many different layers to the Shepard/Garrus relationship, ranging from cute humor to loyalty, trust is definitely the thing that stands out the most to me. Both of these characters are trying to find their own way in life under tenuous circumstances. They need one another to balance each other out, with Shepard and how closed off s/he is in light of his/her circumstances and Garrus with how hot-headed he can be at times. They are independent enough on their own, and they aren't needy (as exhibited when Garrus says he went about recruiting his Omega team much like Shepard did on the hunt for Saren), but when they are together, they bring out the best in each other.


My brother first introduced me to Mass Effect on his XBOX 360. I admit I was hesitant to play at first, for whatever weird reason. I think it was mostly my inner Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic fangirl telling me that I wouldn't like anything about Mass Effect, especially since KOTOR gave me a pairing that's still one of my favorites today, Carth/Revan. Needless to say, I was excited when I found out that Raphael Sbarge was voicing Kaiden...

...Until I started actually romancing Kaiden.

Kaiden had a great personality and had some funny one-liners, but his romance...well, it didn't do anything for me. I can't help but feel like I got more brotherly vibes from Kaiden before he started attempting to get friendly with Shepard. I considered romancing Liara instead because of that, but to be quite honest, I found her personality grating and couldn't go through with it.

That's when I noticed Garrus's character outside of the intriguing backstory for him.

At first I kind of shipped Garrus and Shepard as a joke after a throwaway line from Therum ("be sure to stay hydrated [Shepard]"), but when I saw how much of an impact Shepard really had on Garrus, I realized that I really did ship them, and was disappointed when I found out that he wasn't available as a romantic interest. Looking on the Bioware forums, I was surprised to see that I was not the only one who felt this way. Garrus actually has quite a following amongst the female fans in the Mass Effect fandom, some of whom, like me, would have loved to see a romantic side quest become available for him.

Fast-forward a few months after I finally got to play Mass Effect and beat it. Despite the fact I wouldn't be able to play it for awhile because of school and real life commitments, I stalked the Mass Effect 2 forums. I lurked in the Bioware forums and drooled over the idea of Garrus even making a cameo appearance. Needless to say, my inner fangirl jumped for joy when I found out that not only was Garrus a returning party member, but that he was a romantic interest!


Never let it be said that Bioware doesn't listen to their fans. Not only did they read what the fans thought of Garrus in the first Mass Effect, they cared enough about their fans to make Shepard/Garrus a viable pairing in canon for those who wished to pursue it. It used to be hard to find Shepard/Garrus fan work, but now the pairing has a pretty solid, not to mention much more active, fanbase ever since it became possible in canon.

Fanfiction Recs:

*Sick Day by Fiena Sabre
*Traditions by Aeryn Phoenix
*The Art of Diplomacy by Bojack 727
*Blue Water by Chaos Githzerai
*The Harvest by Tea Diva

Fanart/Fancomic Recs:

*ME Alternate FemShepard by Aimo
*Anything You Like by Elegance Liberty (Be sure to check out Elegance Liberty's gallery for more Shepard/Garrus goodness!)
*Kissing Turians by carrie-di (This one isn't so much Shepard/Garrus, but I figured fans of it might find it amusing anyway.)
*ME-2 Romance by Raptorix

Other Links

*Bioware's Mass Effect Forums
*Garrus Fan Thread @ Bioware Forums (includes LOTS of other links for Garrus-related fanworks, including Shepard/Garrus)
*Mass Effect Wiki
*Mass Effect Community @ LJ
*Garrus/Shepard Community @ LJ


I would just like to thank people for reading through this manifesto (and I give you bonus points if you read the entire thing). It was difficult writing some of it as I haven't had the pleasure of playing Mass Effect 2 yet due to school, but I hope that I was able to do a decent enough job showing off this fantastic ship! I'm hoping that this will at least bring the ship to more people's attention or at least show why there are some of us out there who ship it.

Happy Shepard/Garrus shipping!


Date: 2010-03-02 02:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] verdictlesslife.livejournal.com
I've been watching my boyfriend playing though ME2 for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say that Shepard/Garrus is my favorite of all the romance options. You've done a great job explaining why they fit together so well!

Date: 2010-03-02 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] banana-cave.livejournal.com
You haven't played ME2 yet? Aw man. You are missing the best parts of the pairing!

Date: 2010-03-02 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sollie7.livejournal.com
Solid! I love me some Shepard/Garrus. Even if you don't romance him, he's such a bro. You just can't NOT get on with Garrus.

One thing is I think you might want to toss in a bit refuting the common 'but it's just a one-night stand/she forces him into it/just fuckbuddies' arguments that gets tossed around from time to time. I swear, I want to reach through my computer and headbutt someone whenever that old chestnut shows up on the forums.

Date: 2010-03-02 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niena.livejournal.com
I like this (even though I also have only played Mass Effect 1 and don't plan on playing 2 until I get all the way through ME1). Garrus is one of my favorite characters, and I'm thrilled you get to romance him in ME2.


Date: 2010-04-02 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] youtellme93.livejournal.com
I literally squealed when I saw this had been written. THANK YOU.

I can't wait to start browsing the fic, art, and message boards. You managed to unearth WAY more stuff than my own forays into google.

The Mass Effect 2 romance cut scenes are very tame (I'm guessing in response to the "scandalous" sex scenes from the first game) but the dialog options between Garrus and Sheppard are hilarious.

I won't say too much so not so spoil it, but Garrus is back and better than ever in ME2. The game did nothing but strengthen the Sheppard/Garrus ship. Once again, this is a great article to see. Thank you!

Date: 2010-05-02 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] llrael.livejournal.com
EEEE! I love this ship so so much. It's been a long time since any ship made me squeal this hard. :D
All this needs is some pretty pictures. ;)


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