"No matter what happens here, you know I love you. I always will."
Her eyes… so green…
Her hand went up to my face, her fingers splayed on my mandibles, her thumb tracing the markings under my eyes.
I don't want you to go alone. I don't…
I don't want to lose you again.
I grasp her hand, holding on to her. And she smiles, as if trying to reassure me.
She's about to run to her death… and she's the one comforting me
"Shepard, I…. love you, too."
She smiles at me, her eyes getting a little teary, but she looked back into the light of the Crucible behind her. The soldiers were running to it, but Harbinger was on guard, blasting left and right. I could see her eyes narrow. And she turned to us… me and Liara, shouting at us. "GO!"
But I don't want to go.
I don't want to leave.
I reach out to her, but she was already gone. Shepard… Jane… promise me, you'll come back alive…
"Come on, Garrus." Liara said as she pulled me up towards the inside of the Cargo Hold. "We'd better head to the Med Bay."
"She'll be fine, Garrus." But I could tell Liara was expecting the worst too. "She'll make it."
The pain in my leg and torso throbbed, and I look down, seeing some blood running down my leg. The blast of that last Hammerhead tank had caused a piece of it to pierce my armor, and the tank also broke my leg when it fell down on me. Liara had some bruises and burns on her face and armor, but otherwise she just looks shaken up.
I looked around as she helped me head to the MedBay. The crew was too busy, relaying information, keeping tabs on the crew. I could hear Admiral Hackett speaking through the Comm, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. Mainly because all I could hear was Joker cheering on himself as he shot at the Reapers.
"Stand aside, fuckers!" I could hear him say, "Normandy coming through! BOOM! Headshot, you fucking Harbinger!"
"Jeff, the Thannix Cannon has slightly misaligned due to your excessive use." EDI said from her place beside him, "Officer Vakarian is too injured to calibrate it."
"Yeah well, since you're here, EDI. You can fix it." Joker said and I could hear EDI move, "Very well, Jeff. Realigning Thannix cannon algorithms…"
"That's why I love you, girl." Joker said.
Liara opened up the MedBay now, and I was shocked to see both Kaidan and James, on the beds. Kaidan was on one of them, his armor removed, his upper chest swathed in bandages and MediGel. He was sleeping, but from the machine that was wired up to him, it looked like he was drugged to sleep.
James sat on the other bed, his left arm in a sling, but he looked rather well, otherwise. He looked up at me and went forward, steady on his feet as he took my other arm as he helped me on the bed.
"What the hell happened, Scars?" James said, and Liara stepped back.
"We got shot at by Harbinger." I said, as Dr. Chakwas started removing my armor, "We… got hit by an exploding Hammerhead. Shepard is fine, but… she made us leave her."
James blinked, "Anderson did the same, too. He's out there somewhere… probably with Shepard."
"Good thing she made you evacuate, Garrus." Dr. Chakwas said as she finally scanned me, "You got a perforation in your abdomen, and your leg is broken. You would've been cannon fodder if you had stayed."
"I was supposed to stay with Shepard to the end!" I shouted at them, "That was OUR deal!"
James scoffed, "And you thought Shepard would just let you die? I would've thought that being with her from the beginning, you'd already know what her deal is, Scars."
Liara sat on one of the beds, where one of Dr. Chakwas' assistants was helping her, "She would never let any one of us die, not if she could stop it."
I groaned, and growled again as Dr. Chakwas set my leg bones right, putting it on a splint. It was painful, but not as painful as my chest. She had to make it. She had to live.
"Holy hell! She made it!"
I look at James, who had his finger pressed to his earpiece, he looked up at me as he listened. "Admiral Hackett said Shepard is in the Crucible!"
"Oh goddess!" Liara said, and she shoved the medic away as she and James left the MedBay, and they headed to the Portside Observation. I struggled to sit up, but Dr. Chakwas merely pushed me down. "Garrus! I know you're worried about Shepard, but you need to stay down!"
I grab her wrist, gently of course, I don't want her injured. "Doctor, please. I want to see…"
She looked at me, and I sighed in relief as she slowly nodded, "Very well. Just… let me tend to your wounds first."
She flooded my suit with MediGel, and instantly I could feel the pain on my side disappear. My leg still throbbed, but my pain can't possibly be compared to what Shepard was feeling now.
I hobbled my way to the Portside Observation, where Joker was circling. I made my way past the other crew… Tali, Liara, James and Javik. I watched as the ships around us converged around the Crucible, but the arms of the Citadel still were still closed.
"Damn it, Shepard." I could hear James say, "Hang on… you can do it."
"It's taking too long." Tali said behind me, "What is happening?"
"EDI, is there any way we can con contact Shepard? Is there any way we could monitor her?!" I said to the Comms.
"I'm sorry, Officer Vakarian." EDI said, her robotic voice sounding a little… saddened. "Shepard's communication channels were scrambled due to being hit by Harbinger. Only Admiral Hackett has contact with her now…"
"She was hit by Harbinger?!" I cried out. "EDI, please! Find a way to know her status…"
There was some silence, before EDI finally said, "I can still monitor Shepard's vitals, Officer Vakarian…"
"Then show it to me." I said, and I opened my Omni Tool. EDI patched up the data and I can't help but growl.
Her pulse was weak, and her heart was compensating. Her shield were completely depleted, and from the data, I could tell she was hit bad. Her MediGel stocks were empty, and her weapons are gone. I could tell she was moving… and speaking, from the movement of her lungs. She seemed to be talking to someone. Her heart rate spiked a little.
"Damn it! Somebody get me a shuttle!" I said, as I tried to head back to the cargo hold, but James stopped me.
"Scars, calm down." James said, "Put your faith in Shepard. She can do this."
"Shepard is hurt, Vega. I'm not going to stand around her and wait for her to…"
"Look! The Citadel is moving!" Tali shouted from behind us.
James looked at the window, "EDI, see if you can patch Admiral Hackett's communications to the speakers. We need to know what's going on!"
"Understood." EDI's voice said, and the speaker filled with static before Hackett's voice filled the room.
"This is it, everyone. The arms are moving." I heard Admiral Hackett say, and the Crucibles outer armor fell off, piece by piece, revealing it's inner mechanism. "Ten seconds to contact."
The Crucible moved forward a little bit more, right through the center of the Citadel, and soon it locked. "That's it. The Crucible is docked."
I heard Liara gasp in wonder, but soon we realized that nothing was happening. "Docking and actually firing are two different things. Why isn't anything happening?"
"Shepard? Commander!" I heard Hackett's voice said through the Comms, and I thought I heard someone gasp.
"I…" It was Jane. I couldn't help but clench my fist. She was alive, but it sounded like she was hurt… bad. She was gasping for breath, grunting in pain.
"What do you need me to do?" I heard Jane say, and from the sounds she was making, it was like she was on her hands and knees, scrambling on the floor.
"Keelah… Shepard…" Tali said, her hands on the mouthpiece of her mask.
"She sounds injured." Javik said from behind us.
"Nothing's happening." Hackett said, "The Crucible is not firing. It has to be something on your end…"
"SHEPARD!" I shouted as I heard her panting and gasping in pain, and Tali and James held on to me, "Damn it! Somebody! Patch me through! Let me talk to her!"
"We can't, Garrus!" Liara said, "We just have to listen…"
"But I can't… I… Shepard…"
"I… I don't see…" I heard her gasp, "I'm not sure how to…" And then there was silence on her end.
"Commander!" I heard Hackett exclaim.
"SHEPARD!" I shouted and I struggled again, but Tali held on to my waist, Liara held on to my left arm, and James had his arms around my shoulders. "Come on, Scars. Calm down! Shepard doesn't want you to act this way!"
"I can't leave her like that!" I cried out, "We were not supposed to leave her like that!"
"The Harbinger was shooting everyone, Garrus!" Tali said from my chest, "If she hadn't stopped you, you would've been dead!"
"She died once already, Tali!" I shouted, "Are we going to let her die again?! Right when we just got her back?! RIGHT WHEN I JUST GOT HER BACK?!"
"This is a war, Turian!" Javik said, his finger pointing outside the window, "Your hormones are driving you to disillusion. This is WAR. Casualties are unavoidable! The Commander knows that!"
"Shut up, Prothean!" I shouted back, "You've been asleep for 50,000 years. What right do you have to lecture me?!"
Green biotic energy encased him, and he stepped threateningly at me as he snarled, "I HAVE THE RIGHT BECAUSE I FOUGHT IN THIS WAR LONG BEFORE YOU DID!"
He was right. Long before we were around, Javik's race had been at war with the Reapers many aeons ago. I quieted down a little.
"It was my Commander's sacrifice that let me live… even if I was in stasis." Javik continued, "You must know what it's like, being in a militaristic government. The sacrifice of one could save many. The Commander knows that. She saved you, all of you… so you could live… for her."
"I… don't know how to live… if she's not with me." I said, finally.
"You fought vigilantes for two years during her first death, did you not?" Javik said, his biotics rescinding. "You lost her once, and yet you found a reason to move on. This would be no different, turian. That goes for all of you. It will hurt… but you will… move on."
All of us grew quiet, and finally Tali, Liara and James let go of me. We looked back out through the window, to see that Joker was still circling the Citadel and Crucible, helping defend it. I blinked, and thought I saw a spark of red in the Crucible.
"What's that?" I said, and the others looked at the window with me.
"Looks like a small explosion." James said, and then his eyes widened in suprise, "Madre de Dio, Shepard is blowing up the Crucible!"
I used my visor to zoom in as much as possible to the Crucible, and that was when I saw her.
Battered, bruised and wounded, she was holding up her pistol, shooting at what looked like an energy source… a power conduit… of the Crucible. She had held her pistol with both hands, and kept shooting at it, and soon the conduit exploded… along with her, and I saw her body fly through the air as flames enveloped her.
"JANE!" I shouted again, and I rushed to the window, watching everything.
The Crucible began emitting a red light, its center glowing like a miniature sun that's slowly but surely gathering energy.
"All fleets, the Crucible is armed." I heard Admiral Hackett say through the Comm, "Disengage and head to the rendezvous point. I repeat, disengage and get the hell out of here."
"Jeff." I heard EDI's voice say quietly. It seems like Joker didn't want to leave Shepard behind, "We have to go."
"Damn it…" Joker said, and soon the Normandy began drifting away from the Crucible. I watched as red light ran through the whole Citadel, starting from the arms, down to the center…spreading through the whole area like a gigantic bubble. I look down at my OmniTool, trying to see if I could still monitor her vitals. But it was static.
"JAAAANNNEEEE!" I hadn't realized that I had shouted, that I had fallen to my knees, my talons leaving marks on the window as clawed at it. I couldn't breathe… there was an unbearable pain in my chest that I cannot express. It was tightening around my throat and lungs, and I scream in an effort to make the pain ease up.
I could hear Tali and Liara sobbing and crying beside me, keening in grief as I did, as the Normandy flew away from the Crucible. James and Javik stood behind us, and Traynor was sobbing in her hands.
I could hear cheers from the CIC… the Reapers are falling dead on all systems. We have won. The Reapers are gone. Shepard had destroyed them.
And now… she's gone.
The red light that emitted from the Crucible reached us now, and I was surprised when the whole ship shook. But suddenly I heard Joker scream.
"EDI!" He had shouted through the Comm. "Tali! Get up here, please!"
All of us stood up, there were still tear stains on Traynor and Liara's face but we headed up the bridge. Joker was too busy trying to fly the Normandy, which seemed to have malfunctioned. But EDI's mobile platform… her body… lay unmoving on the floor near him.
"EDI!" Tali exclaimed as the two us tried to turn her, "What happened, Joker?!"
"I don't know!" He said, his voice strained and high with panic as he tried to keep the Normandy airborne, "When that red light reached us, she just fell down! What's wrong with her?!"
But Tali and I lifted up her face, and I blinked. Her eyes were black, and the smell of burnt metal reached our noses. Tali scanned her with her OmniTool, but soon she lowered her head.
"Joker…" Tali said, "EDI is gone, too."
Joker's eyes widened, "What?! No…. NO! NO! NO! NO!" He cried out, "SHE'S A MACHINE! YOU CAN FIX HER! REPLACE HER PARTS! FIX HER PROGRAMMING! SHE CAN'T DIE! She can't die… you have to…"
I picked EDI's body, being careful, and Joker looked up at me from his console. I lowered her gently into his lap, and he saw her black, unmoving eyes. Tears started coming down from his face as he buried his head on her shoulder.
"EDI… EDI!" he cried, and I put my arm on his shoulder.
"Shepard… deactivated all synthetics." I could hear Tali say, "The Admiralty board said the Geth has also lost functionality."
"Because the goddamn, mother fucking, shit slinging Reapers are synthetic." I heard Joker say, seething, "But she didn't have to… she didn't have to… but… no, she did. She had to. There's no other way to destroy them."
"Joker! Look out!" Liara said from behind us, and the whole ship shook.
"Damn it! Garrus, take EDI's body!" Joker said, and I took it, holding it close to my chest as Joker fiddled with his console. "Propulsion systems offline! Drive core having issues as well! Damn it, the ships having problems now that EDI's not in control." Joker said as he pressed a few more buttons, "Rerouting non-critical power to kinetic barriers! Everybody, brace for impact!"
The whole ship shook again, and I grunted as the impact seemed to throw me to the air and land on my back with EDI's body in front of me. Even Tali and Liara squeaked in surprise at the strength of our impact. The ship shivered a little bit again… before silencing.
"Argh… god damnit." I heard Joker mutter and I sit up slowly. It was lucky that my leg was splintered, or else I would have broken it more. The wounds on my body had also healed because of the MediGel. I look around. Tali was checking her suit for ruptures, and Liara was holding her head in her hand. James and Javik were pretty much okay as we stood up, and so was Traynor. I lowered EDI's body and stood up to get to Joker.
"Broke anything, Joker?" I said as I looked him over.
"Aside from my heart?" Joker said, with a wince, "Probably every bone in my upper torso."
"Where are we anyway?" I asked as I helped him up, and he answered, "Eden Prime. Softest landing spot I could think of with all the greenery."
"You call that a soft landing?" I said, "Come on, let's head to the MedBay."
But Joker looked down at EDI's body, "Somebody take her… please…"
"I got her, amigo." James said as he lifted EDI' body gently, "I'll put her on the Crew Deck. There are plenty of beds there."
"Yeah… thanks." Joker said, and I helped him down to Doctor Chakwas. I could tell that the elderly human had also cried. She was sniffing a little and her eyes were red. It's no wonder… Chakwas had been with us since the beginning, just like me, Tali and Joker.
We all loved her. But my love was different.
The doctor gave Joker some pills to ease the pain, and we headed to the airlock to check our surroundings. Joker opened the door, but he squinted at the light, raising his arm to shield his eyes. Slowly, he made his way down and looked around. I followed him down.
The lust forests of Eden Prime greeted us, and I look up at the sky. It was… so blue. So bright. Like the darkness caused by the Reapers disappeared. It was a picture of hope, of a bright future. Anyone who had survived the Reaper Wars could look at this view and feel like there's something to look forward to ahead of them.
But not for me.
There was still darkness… and empty void, within me. Jane Shepard is gone. My future was gone. I wasn't kidding about what I told her… the retirement to somewhere tropical, the turian-human babies. No. I wasn't joking about that. I wanted a life of peace, and laughter, and love… with her. But now… that's never going to happen.
I should've died. I should've died with her. Beside her. That was the end that I had imagined for us. We would fight to the very end, and then meet up that bar in heaven I always talked about. We'd have drinks and watch over our friends and crew as they lived.
I am half-way between alive and dead. My body moves. My brain functions. But there's nothing. I am empty.
I didn't even have any knowledge of what happened after we opened the airlock. It was blank in my head. The next thing I knew, everyone stood by the Memorial Wall… and I was holding a plaque of Jane's name in my hands.
Joker had placed a name… EDI's name, on the wall, and James put in Admiral Anderson's name in the middle. They were waiting for me, expecting me to put her name up. I walked forward to the Wall, and looked down at my hands, the plaque reading 'Commander Shepard'.
I could hear them moving behind me, grieving in their own silent way. The deep heavy breathing. The stifled sobs. The deep sighs. Liara, Traynor and Tali had cried all that they could, and now they were quiet. The others… James, Javik, Steve, Kaidan and Joker… they all looked sadly at me. They knew that I hurt the worst. I had lost the love of my life. And I, more than anyone, should have the right to put her name up.
But why do I feel like I don't want to?
I touch her name on the plaque. Jane Shepard. Honored war hero. Destroyer of Reapers. Killer of Thresher Maws. Lover of this particular turian. All around bad ass and kick ass soldier.
No. This is not the ending she deserves.
She had been fighting all her life. It was all she had ever done. She has fought so hard, and survived through it all.
Maybe… just maybe… she could survive through this, too.
I look up, to the stars above us. Yes. I could feel it in my turian heart. She is out there, somewhere, probably broken or beaten. But alive. And she would fight, like she had always done, to stay that way. I don't know how. I don't know when. I don't know where. But I know she is out there. She has to be.
I smiled, my mandibles flaring a little. I lowered my arms and turned, looking at everyone. Their eyes looked at me, confused. But I nod slightly.
Liara's eyes were the first to understand. She smiles at me, and nods back. Soon everyone understood. Their eyes look at me, and my determination reflected onto them. They smile and nod. Kaidan. Steve. James. Tali. Javik. Traynor. And finally Joker. They looked at me, and they all understood that there was still something we had to do. Somebody we had to find.
Joker limped back to the cockpit, and everybody dispersed, getting to their stations. I look down at the plaque in my hands again, and then, taking either end, I bent it out of shape, before throwing it out the trash.
I don't know how long it'll take us. Weeks. Days. Months, Years. But we will find her. And we will be with her. And I will love her again. I know it.
Commander Jane Shepard is not dead.