Azure, Nos Astra, Illium, A few days after the destruction of the Alpha Relay…
As much as he loved the Normandy, his ship, Shepard longed for a quiet moment in the sun, without bullets buzzing overhead or explosions tearing down the scenery. A quiet moment to feel the wind brush against his skin as it did back on Mindoir, before the batarians came.
He hated them for the longest time. They were the slavers that killed his family and destroyed his home. He joined the Alliance to get some payback and found it in another quite place, Elysium. And like Elysium, the people on the aircars that crossed the Illium sky, commuting to work, or sitting down to dinner somewhere on those lofty spires that formed Nos Astra skyline, and even those watching the news about Aratoht didn’t know what was coming.
Human, you’ve changed nothing. Your species has the attention of those infinitely your greater. That which you know as Reapers are your salvation through destruction.
I woke up this morning in a cold sweat. The nightmare was back, the one with the enormous starship crawling through the Citadel and all my friends turning to dust. Even now I can see it in my mind. Why won’t this stop?”
He held his own at Elysium with a pistol and a prayer. He slowed down the Reaper invasion by sacrificing others; Kaidan at Virmire, the Heretic Geth, and three hundred thousand lives at Aratoht.
Organic life is nothing but a genetic mutation, an accident. Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die. We are eternal, the pinnacle of evolution and existence. Before us, you are nothing. Your extinction is inevitable. We are the end of everything.
Sometimes he wondered if he was doing the Reapers job for them. Killing thousands now to spare them the nightmare that still resided in his head, a vision of the Prothean extinction. He took another swig of beer. In a few days he would turn himself to the Alliance. It would be up to them to deal with it. His career was over.
“Shepard?” came a gentle voice from somewhere over his shoulder.
“I’m here Tali,” he said.
The quarian joined him at the balcony. She took her hand tapping his fingers with hers. Shepard gazed at the opaque face plate. Bright white eyes gazed back at him.
“I just ran my last check of the Normandy‘s systems, Shepard, she is good to go,” she said.
“Are you?” he asked. As much as he wanted her to go with him back to Earth, that was too much by far.
“Almost. Funny, when I first went on pilgrimage I was excited, but all I really wanted to get back home, but now, after what my father did, after talking to Legion…I don’t know. I’m vas Normandy now, Shepard. As much as I know my people need me, I also know that my captain needs me as well,” she said.
“I’ll be fine Tali. My decision, my responsibility as a Alliance soldier and as a Spectre,” he said.
“Bosh’tet! It’s the Council’s fault. Had they listen to you about Saren and the Reapers or about the Collectors, or simply pulled their collective heads out of their-”
He gripped her hand tighter, “Tali.”
“I know, I know, it’s just…”
“Nothing goes according to plan, does it?”
“You had a plan?”
Shepard laughed. He could always count on Tali’s wry humor. When they met she was a bundle of fiery naivete, willing to do whatever it took to defeat Sovereign. Had he not met her on that alley on the Citadel, she probably would have defeated Saren’s assassins by herself and taken a ship to where ever the bastard was hiding and blasted him to kingdom come. Now she was a woman, brave, hyper competent and someone to share a quite moment before the next storm.
“Tali, your people already know the risk. I need them to prepare. We are going to need every ship from every species to stop the Reapers,” he said.
“I know, but the Admiralty board is obsessed with the Geth. I doubt they will listen to me,” she said.
He put his arms around her waist, “Oh I don’t know, you certainly opened my eyes.”
“Yes, you showed me what was really important, what I was fighting for.”
She slipped from his grasp and tiptoed back into the room, “Then maybe I’ll have to remind you again, just so you don’t forget while I’m gone.”
He followed her into the bedroom.