Hello, welcome to my Mass Effect/The Walking Dead crossover.
This first chapter is going to be serving as a little sample. See if you guys actually enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Neither The Walking Dead or Mass Effect or its characters belong to me.
Second Chances: A New Beginning
Citadel - Shepard's POV
Shepard took a look out at the battle.
It was going better than anyone could have expected, after all she made it to the Citadel.
But how long could that last while she sat here deciding how the way the war ended. How many people were dying while she sat here and debated with herself?
She could destroy them like she had imagined the Crucible was designed to do. But could she really commit genocide. Legion had died to save his people from the Reapers. Who was she to make sure that sacrifice was made in vain?
Could she kill EDI?
"It's nice when we can save the galaxy without destroying another race along the way."
Shepard stiffened for two reasons. One because Garrus was right, and two because she finally realized that she was not going to be seeing Garrus again. Or that Turian-Human baby she desperately wanted to see too.
Shepard chuckled despite the crushing realization. Garrus always said the most adorable, heartwarming, stupid things that put a smile on her face, and make her want to cry at least a little.
"Shepard I … love you too."
She would admit that she knew all this time, but hearing the words. They gave her a sense of peace, the first time in years.
"Sorry I couldn't follow orders Garrus." Whispered Shepard
Back on to the task at hand, Shepard debated the last two options. Controlling the Reapers or Synthesis.
If she took control she would basically ascend to godhood in a way. If it was actually her in control and not a program created from her. But what happened if one day if she decided that the Catalyst's original program was correct. The war would restart, with the Reapers most likely spread out throughout the galaxy all at once. The cycle would just be restarted and nothing would change.
Synthesis. It sounded nice; it should allow for peace if what the Catalyst said was true.
But what if it wasn't.
"If you follow that line of logic then you can't believe any of the options and then you can't choose anything in fear of what might happen. Then everyone dies anyway. What does that accomplish? Nothing. But if what it said was true then organics and synthetics would have peace through understanding. True peace.
True peace. Isn't that what she fought for all these months? Isn't that what she told the Illusive Man every time he questioned what she was fighting for?
Yes. It was.
Getting disintegrated certainly wasn't what Shepard had been expecting, but neither was she totally surprised either. Life had been cruel to her in so many ways, Mindoir, The Blitz, being killed, and then the war.
Though certain people made it all worth it in the end.
An interesting concept for someone that had died before, and knew what death had in store for them.
Shepard dropped her gun and slowly made her way down the center line.
Images slowly drifted in and out of her mind.
Jenkins, Kaidan, Mordin, Thane, Legion, Anderson.
Her failings, the people that were lost on her watch.
Tali, Liara, Wrex, Grunt, Samara, Miranda, Jacob, Zaeed, Kasumi, Jack, EDI, Ashley, Javik, James.
Her friends, Comrades in arms.
Words couldn't even begin to describe.
Shepard was almost at the edge of the platform.
She refused to go out limping, looking like she could barely walk. She would go out strong.
So she ran, straight towards the abyss. She did not hesitate to jump.
It felt peaceful, being slowly disintegrated. It didn't hurt at all like she imagined. She saw her fingers disappear but she could have sworn that she could still feel them.
The universe was being kind for once. A tiny reward for saving not only galactic civilization as she knew it but all other life that was would have fallen prey to the Cycles in the future.
Shepard felt a sense of completion as she saw what was left of herself start to dissolve.
Shepard slowly opened her eyes.
She was in some woods.
She thought for the briefest moment that she was in some sort of afterlife … that was until she tried to move and her limbs started to ache.
Shepard just lay still, enjoying the view of actual living trees.
Wait … living trees … where the Hell am I?
Shepard, despite the urge to lie still, struggled to her feet. It wasn't as challenging as she was expecting, given her injuries.
Shepard was still covered in the remains of her N7 armor, however she could move quiet easily, only the throb of sore muscles trying to stop her … not the nasty burns that her body had been wracked with on the Citadel.
She was considering how her wounds had healed when a scream assaulted her hears … and then quickly stopped.
Never a good sign.
It was a loud and very pained scream … and it was coming from somewhere nearby.
Shepard struggled to walk as fast as possible as quietly as possible to the source, but that was easier said than done. She normally would avoid screams while she was unarmed and injured but she needed information and someone else needed help.
Shepard almost screamed out when she saw it.
A man, in some kind of uniform, was over another man … feasting on his flesh.
The cannibal himself didn't look that good. Something had taken a few bites out of him, and it appeared that something had broken his lower back.
The man was having dinner right next what appeared to be a … car? The thing was a total wreck, flipped on its side.
What the … a car. Who the Hell uses cars anymore? Am I on some backwards colony?
A few feet away from Shepard laid something of even greater importance.
A shotgun. A true 21st century shotgun.
She wouldn't have recognized it if it weren't for the fact that she had a slight obsession and large collection of antique guns on the Normandy.
No one uses weapons like those anymore. Not even … where am I, and how did I get here?
The cannibal was still oblivious to her presence and continued to munch away at his kill.
The shotgun was only a few feet away from her, if she was quiet …
Shepard slowly moved towards the weapon.
And if it's not loaded?
Then I'll just have to improvise.
Shepard slowly picked up the weapon.
That's when a twig crunched under her.
The cannibal turned and started to emit this awful noise as it crawled towards her.
Shepard raised the gun, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
To her immense surprise it actually fired.
The round caused his head to burst like a ripe tomato.
And you said having that gun collection wouldn't be useful.
"So, Shepard, any reason you collect antique guns? Don't we already have enough guns in our lives?" Garrus asked as he looked over Shepard's rather impressive collection that was over her desk.
"Maybe, but I like them. They remind me of how things used to be done. You know … poorly."
Garrus chuckled at that.
"Can't say much has changed." He added
"No, but I can always think that it used to be worse."
"True. Do any of these even work?"
"No. Not loaded and I took out all the firing pins. I guess I could put them back … but I bet that wouldn't work out well."
"What's the point then?"
"It's just a collection, besides you never know when you are going to need one."
"If you need to use one of those you're already dead. So … no point."
"I guess, but what would you recommend I collect. Ships models?"
Shepard couldn't help but smile.
Told you so.
Shepard looked all around her to discover even more of those … things coming out of the woodwork.
There were too many to shoot.
Dropping the gun, Shepard bolted to the left. Apparently she went the right way as she noticed the wooden gate of a house almost immediately.
However, Shepard's left leg gave out under her. Apparently she still wasn't in that great of shape. It was a miracle that she hadn't collapsed earlier.
Shepard pulled herself up and threw herself as high as she could, and actually succeeded in getting a grip on the top of the fence. Using most of her strength, she was able to haul herself over just as those … things … reached her.
Shepard however landed hard on her leg, the one that had already collapsed.
"FUCK!" she screamed as she collapsed again
Shepard could tell that she would need to find a doctor for it.
The creatures started to bang on the wooden wall.
Shepard sat absolutely still.
It appeared that they were going to start to try and knock down the wall when several shots were fired … and the banging just stopped.
She knew better than to assume that someone had killed all of them, especially since she could hear their footsteps as they shambled away. Shepard let go of the breath she had been holding.
It appeared that Shepard had wandered into someone's backyard. Owners were probably hiding inside after the shots were fired. Or maybe when those creatures showed up.
Shepard walked, or rather limbed, to the back door. It was a clear sliding glass door but as the lights were off it was hard to see.
Shepard gave the door several knocks.
"Hello! Is anyone there? I need some help!" Shepard yelled
The door itself wasn't locked so she slid it open.
"I'm coming in. Don't shoot!" Shepard said forcefully but also carefully to make sure it didn't sound like a threat.
The place looked like it had been the witness to one hell of a struggle.
"Hello? Is anyone hurt?" Shepard asked
She received the same chilling lack of a response.
Taking a slow look around Shepard found almost nothing to help her. There was a bowl of fake fruit, a walkie-talkie, a glass of water and ... signs that a child was supposed to be here somewhere.
Shepard was somewhat surprised to find a walkie-talkie. It wasn't exactly common but they were surprisingly still in use, somewhat. Mainly gifts for siblings to play with.
She used to have one too.
Shepard sighed. Hadn't she seen enough children die? While she didn't find any bodies, that blood stain she tripped on in the kitchen certainly didn't make this look good.
"Mommy?" asked a small voice
Shepard pulled it out of one of the few suit pockets that remained intact.
"Hello?" Shepard asked as she walked towards the glass door.
"You need to be quiet." A little girl warned
"Are you alright?" Shepard asked
"I'm ok. They tried to get me. But I'm hiding until my parents come home."
"What's your name?" Shepard asked, as she searched for the girl. She was probably hiding and Shepard didn't blame her. She had to be around here somewhere, so Shepard started to look around.
Shepard already had a pretty good guess about her name. If she was right it should be Clementine, based on the little doodle and paint handprint picture.
"I'm Clementine. This is my house."
"Hi Clementine. I'm Shepard." She responded
Shepard couldn't hear Clementine's voice other than from the walkie-talkie, meaning she either was past the barricaded stairs or she wasn't even here.
"Do you know where your parents are?" Shepard asked
"They took a trip and left me with Sandra. They're in Savannah, I think. Where the boats are."
Shepard wished she had some sort of map. It would certainly help knowing how big the colony was. By the way Clementine said Savannah it sounded like it was another city on this world. That was strange considering the lack of technology here.
"Are you safe?"
"I'm outside in my tree house. They can't get in."
Shepard immediately walked over to the kitchen window, which had a direct view of the tree house.
"See? Can you see me? I can see you through the window." Clementine said as she poked her head through the wooden door.
Shepard gave a small wave as her answer.
"AHHH!" Clementine screamed
Shepard instinctively looked behind her, and it saved her life. Behind her was another one of those things.
It grabbed her, trying to take a bite out of her.
Shepard threw her against the fridge and backed up, trying to get some distance
That proved to be a big mistake as she slipped on the blood; again, her head hitting the corner of something, she didn't actually see what she hit. She assumed it was the kitchen counter.
Shepard kicked out with her right leg, sending the monster sprawling backwards. Giving her enough time to get back up. However this creature was a lot faster than the previous one, and it was able to grab her foot causing her to trip again.
Shepard started to desperately crawl away when she met a terrified Clementine in the door way, holding a hammer.
"H-here" Clementine stuttered as she held out the weapon.
Shepard grabbed it.
The creature was up again but now Shepard actually had a weapon.
It lunged and Shepard responded with a powerful hit to the head, causing it to collapse at Shepard's feet. It was still alive however.
Shepard brought the hammer down three times on its skull before the head caved in.
It did not move after that.
"Thanks" Shepard said
"Did you kill it?"
"I think so but … something did that to her."
"I heard her scream two nights ago. Maybe one of the monsters got her."
"Yeah … I think you're right."
It was silent for a moment before Shepard continued.
"You were … alone for two days of this?" Shepard asked
"Yeah. I want my parents to come home now."
"I don't blame you."
Clementine had what looked like a moment of clarity if her face was anything to go by.
"The answering machine." Clementine mumbled as she ran over to the other side of the living room.
Shepard followed. She didn't want her to listen to it but in her current condition Shepard couldn't reach the answering machine in time … nor did she know how to turn it off.
Clementine pushed the play button before she could stop her. She had a feeling those messages would not bring good news.
"Three new messages. Message one left at five forty-three p.m."
"Hey, Sandra, This is Diana. We're still in Savannah. Ed had a little 'incident' with some crazy guy near the hotel, the guy bit him. Can you believe that!? Had to get Ed back to the ER and have it checked out, anyway, he isn't feeling well enough to drive back tonight so we're staying an extra day. Thanks so much for looking after Clementine, and I promise that we'll be back in time before your spring break."
Crazy guy … oh no. Well at least he is still alive.
"Message two. Left at eleven nineteen p.m."
"Oh my God, finally! I don't know if you've tried to reach us; all the calls are getting dropped. They're not letting us leave and aren't telling us anything about Atlanta. Please, please, just leave the city and take Clementine with you back to Marietta. I've got to get back to the hospital. Please let me know that you're safe."
Shepard cringed at the tone of the message. It didn't sound like things we're going well. In fact to her it sounded like martial law … which in these circumstances ... was not good.
"Message three. Left at six fifty-one a.m."
"Clementine? Baby, if you can hear this, call the police. T-that's 9-1-1. We love you. We love you. We love you …"
The message faded to nothing.
She didn't even say that she was coming home … meaning that she knew that she was going to die. Plus the sounds of the creatures and gunfire made it really easy to imagine what happened.
Shepard looked down to Clementine, whose eyes were already filling with tears. The girl was too clever for her own good. She knew exactly what all of that meant.
"M-Mom" Clementine whispered, clenching her eyes shut as the tears started to stroll down her face.
Shepard crouched down to her height.
"Hey … come here." Shepard whispered, opening her arms up.
Clementine couldn't have thrown herself into Shepard's arms faster. The floodgates opened and the tears and sobs came out uncontrollably.
Shepard didn't bother to say anything … after all what could she say. This little girl just found out her parents had died … leaving her all alone.
She had been there though, and understood perfectly what she was going through.
Shepard traced little circles on Clementine's back with her right hand and eventually Clementine stepped back.
"You have nothing to be sorry about."
"Now w-what w-will I do?"
"If it's ok with you … I'll watch over you."
"O-ok. What do we do now?" Clementine asked
Shepard looked out the back door. There were still a few hours before dark. Probably enough time to find some help, or at least find a safer place to hide for the night.
"We need to go, find some help or find a safer place to hide."
Shepard looked down at her armor to discover that it was now starting to fall apart even more. It wasn't really salvageable at this point.
"I don't suppose that you would have any idea where to find some spare clothes."
"Sandra stayed upstairs; she would have brought some with her." Clementine added, looking at Sandra's corpse while she did.
"Thanks. Keep the door shut and wait for me down here."
Clementine nodded, running off to close the door.
Shepard crawled up the bookcase that was blocking the stairs.
She checked all the rooms before changing, wouldn't do to be attacked with her pants down.
Thankfully Clementine was right. There was a set of unused clothes hanging in one of the closets.
Even better they were close enough to her size, a little small but nothing too bad.
Shepard tried her Omni-tool, to discover that it was damaged. It's only intact function was the damn phone. However, given time it might be possible to fix. Maybe.
Shepard bolted it out of the room, but stood still when she heard another voice.
"Where are your parents!?" yelled a man
"They aren't here!" Clementine answered, panic dominating her voice.
Clementine was backed into a corner. Thankfully her attacker was facing away from the staircase. He was armed with a single pistol.
Shepard was able to crawl down without being spotted by the man; however Clementine momentarily looked in her direction. The man noticed.
The man turned aiming at Shepard.
"There's mommy." The man sneered
He wasn't quite close enough for her to disarm him. She normally would trust her biotic barrier to deflect the shot but she didn't want to risk anything with Clementine so close. Plus with her injuries maybe it was best not to trust her biotics.
Then a thought hit her.
"I'd actually be threatened if the safety wasn't on."
He fell for it.
The momentary distraction as he looked at his safety was all she needed.
She lunged, able to point the pistol at the ceiling by the time it fired. She threw the gun off to the side and threw the man straight through the glass table.
He went through but came out mostly unscathed.
To retaliate he threw a particularly nasty uppercut that actually hit her. It was a pretty powerful punch.
Her lip was cut, and she could taste the coppery taste of blood in her mouth. A very familiar sensation.
She was slower than she was used to.
He tried to press the advantage but she used his momentum against him. She side stepped another punch and threw him straight into the wall.
Shepard landed three bone-snapping punches to his chest. Counting the amount of ribs she broke.
He tried to kick her off but she caught the leg and threw him across the room again. His head connected with the table with the phone, causing him to move sluggishly.
Shepard grabbed his head and brought it straight to her knee.
The crack was loud and signaled the winner very clearly.
She dropped his head and he slumped.
"Clementine" Shepard called
"I'm here." Clementine replied, sticking her head out from around the kitchen.
Clementine slowly walked over to her
"Is … he dead."
"No. He's alive. But he'll be very sore when he wakes up."
She didn't want to tell her how he was going to have problems moving and breathing until the ribs healed.
If he survives that long.
Shepard stopped the pity that was slowly starting to appear.
He attacked them. She had no choice.
Shepard searched through the backpack he was carrying and was pleased to find two clips for his pistol, a few snack bars, and two bottled waters.
He knew he didn't have much. Bet he was raiding houses for food, maybe the occasional gun.
Zipping up the bag she put it on herself, and then grabbed his hostler and pistol.
They would need it.
"Doesn't that stuff belong to him?" Clementine asked
Innocence. It's nice to see that again.
"He was going to loot your house Clementine. Probably would have killed us if he could have. We're probably protecting others by taking it."
Clementine didn't look particularly satisfied with that answer but she didn't object further either.
"Let's go." Shepard said, holding out her hand for Clementine to hold.
Shepard felt Clementine's small hand fit into her own. Shepard gave it a reassuring squeeze.
Shepard double checked the backyard, making sure nothing that could be of use was left behind. There was nothing there, but the tree house caught her attention.
Though it wasn't really the tree house that caught her attention. It was the image of Clementine surviving by herself for two days that did.
Clementine reminded her of herself.
When the Slavers invaded Mindoir she had been on her own for a good fifteen hours before the Alliance arrived.
Shepard couldn't help but admit that Clementine's survival was at least as impressive as her own. Most likely more.
The glare of the sun caught her attention though, it reminded her that time was of the essence.
Shepard led the way to the side of the house when she noticed two men fiddling around with a car.
Fixing or stealing?
Clementine opened the gate, which opened with a loud squeak that made Shepard cringe.
The pair turned and to Shepard's relief they didn't pull a gun.
"Don't eat us!"
"We aren't going to hurt you." Shepard quickly replied, raising her hands in the traditional surrender pose.
"Phew, thought for a second you and the little one were BOTH going to give us the chomp."
"We need help." Shepard stated
Though she bet that the same could be said for the two strangers in front of her as well.
"Are you trying to get out of here? Because you should be. Those things are all over the damn place. I haven't seen anything as gnarly as this neighborhood since downtown Atlanta, fifteen miles back."
Atlanta … that name sounds familiar.
"I'm Shawn. Shawn Greene."
"Shepard. This is Clementine." Shepard replied
The second one got a knee and said "I'm Chet." to Clementine.
Clementine gave him a small smile.
"We shouldn't be out in the open like this. How about you help us clear the way and we'll take you and your daughter out of here, and down to my family's farm. It should be safer there." Shawn said, trying to get things back on track.
"I'm not her mom." Shepard instinctively replied, hating herself at the moment for raising more questions.
"I'm her babysitter." Shepard amended hastily.
It wasn't a complete lie after all.
"Let's get going. Staying put for too long is a mistake."
Shepard looked down at Clementine, who was looking back at her home.
"Clem-" Shepard started
"Them monsters comin'! We gotta go!" Chet whispered
Chet took a lookout position and Shawn leaned against the car in the way of what she assumed was his truck.
Shepard leaned her full weight on the hood of the car, and pushed as hard as her tired, over used, muscles could provide.
The car was soon moved out of the way.
But the creatures were too close.
Shepard grabbed Clementine and threw themselves in the passenger seats. Chet hopped in the bed and Shawn jumped behind the wheel.
Shawn gunned it and mounted the curb getting around several abandoned cars before finally getting a good distance away from their pursuers.
As soon as they were in the clear Shepard turned to Shawn and asked "Can you explain what I just saw?"
"The only thing I know is the people who attacked us were not alive."
"Are you saying the walking dead attacked us?" Shepard scoffed
"Yes" Shawn replied
What, that's crazy. He's wrong … he has to be.
Then a memory reared its ugly head.
"This Reaper theory proves just how fragile your mental state is."
Shepard would be hypocritical if she didn't at least examine the idea.
The people that attacked were rather … unhealthy looking. Sandra especially. In fact now that she thought about the skin on Sandra looked, well … rotten.
"Are you sure? If you say yes … I'll believe you." Shepard asked
"Yeah, I saw some in the city that had holes blown through their chests the size of their heads. No one could survive that."
"Yeah" Shepard whispered
One hand a super intelligent Machine-Organic hybrid armada, and on the other a technological backward colony filled with the walking dead. What. The. Fuck.
In fact why has no one even talked about this on top of the war?
Something is really wrong here.
"So, how do you kill one?" Shepard asked, expecting the stereotypical, over-inflated, movie response.
"It seems like the only thing that drops them for good is destroying the brain."
"Not surprised. I beat one's skull in today, I was just hoping for an easier way."
"Yeah" Shawn replied
The rest of the trip was in silence.
It was dark by the time they arrived.
"Hey, Shawn … I'm a' run on home. My mama's gonna be in a snit." Chet explained
"No sweat, man. I'll catch you tomorrow night."
Chet turned towards them and said "It was nice to meet ya both."
Shepard gave a smile and nodded, Clementine gave a little wave.
Suddenly the front door opened.
"Thank God you're ok." Said an older man, probably Shawn's father.
"I wouldn't have made it without Chet."
"Well, I'm glad you took him with you then."
The man noticed her and Clementine and remarked "You've brought a couple of guests."
"Your boy saved our lives." Shepard commented
"Glad he could be of use to somebody. So it's just you and your daughter then."
"Oh, not her daughter. She's her babysitter."
For some reason Shawn's father seemed to doubt that, maybe because it wasn't really true.
He crouched down to Clementine's height and asked "Honey, do you know this woman?"
"Yes" Clementine responded
He then noticed Shepard's beat up leg, which was bleeding slightly. The fall probably opened up some of the wounds she got on Earth.
"Well, looks like you hurt your leg pretty bad there."
Shepard gave it a glance and replied "It doesn't feel all that well."
"I can help you out. Shawn, run inside and check on your sister. You, take a seat up on the porch and I'll go see what I have."
Shepard was relieved that she had found a doctor so quickly.
At least something went well today.
"Let's, have a look." He said when he returned
He rolled up her jeans a bit to look at the leg.
Even Shepard was surprised by how many bruises there were.
"Yeah, this is swollen to Hell."
"Could be worse."
"That's what it sounds like. Sounds like things got awful bad in the cities. What'd you same your name was?"
"Nice to meet you, Shepard. I'm Hershel Greene."
Hershel then started to apply the bandage.
"How'd this happen?"
Fighting a Reaper occupation on the home-world of humanity.
"That so. Where were you headed? Before the car accident?"
"Grocery store. Ran out of ice-cream and it was movie night. Can't have movie night without it." Shepard answered, giving Clementine an affectionate look to seal the lie.
Hershel gave a light chuckle. Even Clementine was taken in a little by the lie. Probably wishing to be doing that right now.
"House is full up with mine. We've got another displaced family of three sleeping in the barn. You two are welcome to rest there, when we're done here."
Hershel then turned to Clementine and said "I didn't catch your name darlin'."
"Clem-Clementine." She stuttered.
Seems like she's rather shy.
"Can't imagine what you've been through, Clementine."
"I'm looking after." Shepard said, giving Hershel a knowing look that told him all he needed to know.
Hershel looked like he wanted to say something but Shawn came back before he could speak.
"Hey dad, so I'm thinking, first thing tomorrow, we gotta reinforce the fence around the farm."
"That doesn't seem necessary."
Oh I remember that type of attitude. Lovely.
"I don't know what you saw on T.V, or heard on the radio, but there's some serious-" he cast a look at Clementine and whispered "shit hitting the fan. I don't think anyone knows how big it is yet."
"He's right; I know it's what I would do." Shepard added
"Stuff like that doesn't happen around here, Shawn."
"Dad, I'm serious. Shepard, come on, tell him what you saw out there."
"I had to bash in an undead girl's skull with a hammer." Shepard said
"Well, do what you think you should. We've got plenty of chores as it is."
"Shepard and those folks in the barn can help out in the morning. We gotta do it, really."
"I already said ok."
Shawn turned to leave when Hershel started to talk again.
"Well, I'm all done here. It should start to feel better tomorrow."
"If your leg gets hot or the swelling doesn't go down; you're probably dealing with an infection."
Wouldn't be the first time.
"What would we do then?" Clementine asked, or more like squeaked, from across the patio.
"We'll probably just have to shoot her."
Clementine however didn't realize it was a joke and her eyes dilated in fear.
"It was a joke, sweetie." Shepard said
"We'll clean it, re-dress it, and she'll be fine." Hershel explained.
"Thanks" Shepard replied
"There are blankets and such in the barn. We'll be seeing you bright and early. Come tomorrow, which way do you think you're headed?"
Shepard just shook her head.
"I … I really don't know."
"You'll figure something out." Hershel replied, heading off into the house afterwards.
Shepard stood up and stretched a bit. That car ride was uncomfortable and long.
Why the Hell do these people use them.
"Does it feel better?" Clementine timidly asked
"Yeah, Hershel sure knows his stuff. Ready for bed? It's been a long day."
Clementine looked extremely tired, and Shepard didn't blame her.
"Here, let me help." Shepard said as she gently picked up Clementine.
Clementine fit quite snugly.
By the time Shepard reached the barn Clementine was out.
Shepard did not sleep well that night. She was back in the forest. Again
Except it was Clementine that was running away. It was Clementine that Shepard was ultimately unable to save.
"Hey, get up." Called a voice that stirred her up from sleep.
Shepard yawned, starting to get an awareness of her surroundings.
"I'm itchy." Clementine said
"Well, you slept in a barn, little lady. Lucky you don't have spiders in your hair."
Clementine gasped in fear before the man continued.
"But I bet your mommy scared them all away, huh?"
"I'm not her mom, name's Shepard."
Just then a little boy turned the corner of the barn. Kenny's son most likely.
"Dad! We're going to build a fence! There's a tractor and everything!"
The little boy was so excited that he ran off before his dad could reply.
Kenny turned to her and said "We better get going or we won't hear the end of it."
Shepard offered her hand to Clementine, who took it, and followed him.
"That's my boy, Ken Junior. We call him Duck, though."
"Duck?" Shepard asked
"Yea. Nothing bothers him. Like water off a duck's back, y'know."
"Bet that has come in handy in the last few days."
"No kidding. But frankly, I think it's because he's dumb as a bag of hammers."
"DAAAD!" Duck yelled in protest, or maybe because he wasn't being fast enough. Who could say for sure?
"But he makes up for it with enthusiasm. Word is you haven't decided where you're going yet."
"Yeah, I don't know. A lot's happened and who knows where safe is." Shepard commented.
She couldn't say she didn't know where she was going because she hadn't been on this colony before.
Colonies like this tend to … dislike off-worlders.
"True, but if you interested I have room for two. We're going to try at make it home. A few places are on the way that will probably be safe. Personally I'd appreciate the company of someone who can crack a couple of heads together if she has to." Kenny explained
A ride already. That's good.
Shepard looked at Clementine and asked "What do you think?"
"S-sure." Clementine replied; who was half hidden behind Shepard's legs.
"Honey, Duck, this is Shepard and uh, what's the girl's name?"
"Clementine" Shepard answered
"Clementine" Kenny repeated
Kenny's wife smiled at Clementine and said "That is a very pretty name."
"Thanks" Clementine replied.
"This is my wife Katjaa." Kenny said, finishing the introductions.
Shawn then walked up to the group.
"Well, we should get to work. We've all seen what those things can do out there so the faster we can get this fence up, the better." Shawn said
"I want to build a fence!" Duck proclaimed
"Yeah? Well I need a good foreman. You can sit on the tractor and yell at me whenever I take a water break." Shawn replied
"On the tractor? Cool!" Duck replied
A faint smile graced her lips.
He is rather enthusiastic.
"Duck and I will hop to it." Shawn finished
"I can keep an eye on your little girl here on the porch. We can visit." Katjaa offered
Shepard gave Katjaa a smile and walked over to Kenny.
He was busy working on his truck.
At least someone here is a mechanic. He'll come in handy.
"Hey Kenny" Shepard said, announcing herself.
"How is Duck doing?" Shepard asked
"Good, I think. Katjaa's got a sister up in Memphis; we were coming back from visiting her. We were in a gas station and some guy grabbed my boy. I thought he was kidnapping him. I was on the fucker in about two seconds and … Christ. Just lucky I was there. We saw a lot of bodies before we stumbled upon Hershel's. But we're a tough family, Shepard. Ain't nothing going to faze us."
"What's after here?"
"Get back on down to Fort Lauderdale and let this mess get sorted out. Government will start handing out shots and the National Guard will do its thing. On the odd chance things got too bad, we could hop on my boat, I guess."
National Guard? This colony must be huge … and strangely successful.
"You have a boat?"
"I'm a commercial fisherman, catching mackerel, dolphin, whatever's biting and paying. Katjaa wouldn't be wild about it, but the boat's not that bad."
"Need any help?"
Please say no. I'm just trying to be nice.
"Naw, I think I got it. Do you need any help?"
"I mean, in taking care of that little girl. You know what you're doing? You got kids of your own?"
"No I … no."
Kenny seemed to pick up on this hesitation.
"Woulda liked one then."
"Yeah" Shepard replied
"I should go." Shepard muttered before turning around and heading towards the back.
In the back she could see Shawn working on the fence … and Duck having the time of his life on the tractor.
Shepard couldn't even help but smile. Duck's enjoyment was contagious.
She leaned up against the tractor and asked "How is it going Duck?"
"Good! I'm going to drive the tractor! I'm the foreman! Lift with your back, Shawn!"
She couldn't help but chuckle.
She looked over her shoulder to see Shawn standing up.
"Need any help Shawn?"
"That'd be great. If you could cut those two-bys to length, that'd sure speed things up." Shawn said, pointing at the nearby workstation.
Shepard nodded and started to cutting down the pieces.
Ugh. An actual hand saw.
"My dad doesn't know how bad it is." Shawn muttered
"No, he doesn't." Shepard replied.
She wished she could say otherwise … but she couldn't. That kind of ignorance got people killed.
"I saw a guy in Atlanta kill a kid. A boy. Just shot him right in the face."
"Was he one of the … walkers?"Shepard asked, hoping for a yes.
Walkers, what a crude but accurate name.
Before Shawn had arrived at the farm she had asked what the creatures were called. He said he heard someone call them walkers in the city. Good enough name for her.
"I don't even know. He was either attacking the guy or asking for help. He didn't even hesitate. He just turned, put the barrel of the gun between this kid's eyes … and pulled the trigger. You don't see things like that. It's not like in the movies."
"Disasters never are."
"So I heard that you had to do it."
"If you mean kill … then yes. I had to crush one's skull in with a hammer, not a very fun experience."
"I'm not sure I could do that."
"You can. It's a lot easier when you realize you aren't just fighting for yourself … but for the people you care about."
"Maybe. I'm just glad we're getting this fence built. Dad just wants to keep the family safe and thinks inviting other people in is a bigger threat than whatever's out there. How about yours? How's your family?"
"Don't really have one other than my boyfriend … and I don't know where he is. He wasn't around here when this all started."
Technically true. Garrus was on the Normandy.
"Its fine, you didn't offend me. I'm sure he's fine."
Shepard was about to start on a new one when Shawn said "That's probably all I need cut now. Thanks."
Shawn then started to test the fence when Shepard put her hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you for the ride."
"No problem, Shepard. Couldn't leave you behind. Anyway, if you see my dad around, he might want some help in the barn."
"Alright" Shepard replied, already heading towards the barn.
However before she got close she noticed a good corner where no one could see her.
A lot of people still harbored prejudice against biotics so it wasn't smart to be showcases her abilities in front of strangers.
Shepard focused and her biotics started to kick in … but they were not even close to full strength. At best they could cause a person to stumble. Not exactly that useful right now. Especially with how much energy it would take.
Shepard stepped out when she heard Clementine chuckle.
Should probably check in on her.
Thankfully Clementine seemed alright. Though the dark circles under her eyes suggested she hadn't slept all that well. Shepard was surprised at how well she was doing to be honest.
Clementine is as tough as they come.
Shepard learned a few interesting things about Katjaa, and her family's survival thus far.
"What is it you do Shepard?"
"I'm a soldier actually. I guess my job hasn't really changed due to this." Shepard said
"Yeah, was on leave when this came down. Just got back from deployment." Shepard lied, sort of. It was mostly a lie. She was a soldier after all.
"I'm sorry. You deserve better than to fight and come home to this."
"I think all of us deserve better than this." Shepard remarked
Shepard said her goodbyes and went back to the farm.
As Shawn had predicted Hershel was in the farm doing some kind of chore.
He looked up and gave a peculiar look, almost like he was disappointed in her.
What have I done know?
"How'd you get out of Atlanta?" asked Hershel as he continued with his work.
"As soon as everything started to go down I tried to rush home to get Clementine. It didn't work out so well … but the accident happened near home. I was able to run home, grab Clementine and get out. Met your son … and you know the rest." Shepard lied calmly.
"Hmm. Well you're no worse for wear." Hershel commented
I don't like where this is going.
"You got a nice plot here." Shepard remarked; trying to remove some of the tension she could feel starting to form.
"Heh, had you told me twenty years ago I'd still be doing this, I would have told you that you were full of crap. Never was the plan, having a place like this. It was in the family, and I guess so was I. Family's important; it's all that matters. You agree with that?"
"Yeah, I was brought up too. One of the things I actually listened to as a child."
Hershel gave a light chuckle that only a parent with stubborn children would have given at that response.
"Where's your family now? Parents? Husband? Boyfriend?"
"Family is … gone. Have a boyfriend out there somewhere. I hope he's ok." Shepard remarked truthfully, but vaguely.
"Well I hope he's alright."
"But now you've got this little girl to take care of. Clementine, is it? You made it sound like her parents are dead."
"When I got back after the accident the voice mail had a message. It … didn't sound very good."
"Hmmph. Can I give you a piece of advice?"
"I don't know who you are and what you did. Let's say things don't get better back in the cities. Or things get worse before they do. You're going to have to depend on the honesty of strangers if you're going to make it. And if those same people get to questioning yours, you're going to be in trouble."
"Are you saying that I haven't been honest with you?" Shepard asked
"You either have or you're on Hell of a liar."
"And I start checking the attitude, friend." Hershel finished.
That's when a loud noise started, like a machine starting up, followed by a loud scream.
The tractor! Shawn! Duck!
"GO! I'll get my gun."
Shepard took one step outside the barn and she could see something moving near Duck and Shawn.
Shepard burst into a sprint.
When she got close Shepard saw that walkers were trying to get to Shawn through the fence. Shawn was also trapped under the tractor.
And another walker was starting to get near Duck, who was distracted by Shawn's screams.
Thankfully Shepard was able to throw Duck off the tractor before he was grabbed.
Normally Shepard would have just lifted the tractor with her biotics but her earlier test proved that wasn't going to work.
There was a board nearby so Shepard picked it up and smashed it against the walker that was standing up. The board splintered completely on impact, but it didn't manage to kill the walker. Just knock it over.
Shepard also gave a strong kick to the head on the walker that was crouched down near Shawn.
Again, it knocked it back. But didn't finish it off.
Shepard looked down to remember that she had taken the holster off before she went to sleep.
IT'S IN THE BARN, FUCK!
The only other option was to lift up the tractor.
"Kenny! Help Shepard!" Shawn cried
Shepard looked back to see Kenny holding on to Duck.
He then bolted away with Duck in his arms.
DAMN IT KENNY!
Shepard position herself at the tractor's front. She heaved.
It started to budge and she managed to lift it enough for Shawn to move.
He did, but not fast enough.
The walkers busted through the fence as Shepard set the tractor down.
Shepard could only watch in horror as one took a deep bite in his leg … the other getting his neck.
That's when a gunshot went off and the one chewing on Shawn's leg died.
The other one was distracted by the noise and then got its bullet too.
Shepard turned back to see Hershel with his gun.
Hershel ran over to Shawn to see if anything could be done.
Shepard knew from personal experience that he wasn't going to make it. She knew Hershel knew it too based on the look of his face.
"I'm ok pop … I'm ok …" Shawn said
"I can fix you, don't worry, we'll stitch you up."
The lies we tell ourselves and the people we love.
"It almost … almost got me, man. Shepard tried to save me. Almost did too." Shawn said, looking at Shepard
Shepard hung her head, this was her fault.
"I know, son."
"I …" Shawn died before he could finish his sentence.
Shepard heard everyone else walk up behind her.
She looked behind her to see Kenny looking at Shawn with remorse, while Katjaa tried to distract Duck and Clementine.
"Get out." Hershel said; his voice filled with hatred.
He got up, turned around, and then yelled "GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"
Kenny looked at the ground and said "I'm sorry."
"SORRY? Your son is alive. You don't get to be sorry."
Hershel then turned to her.
"You tried to help him, but this piece of shit let him die."
Kenny closed his eyes and looked down in shame.
"It's my fault, if I had remembered to grab my gun …"
"Don't you dare try to take the blame for his mistake. You watch your back. Wait until it's your girl and you need his help. Please, just go. Get out and never come back!" Hershel finished
Shepard turned back to Kenny when he said "You've got that ride if you want it."
Kenny's voice sounded truly grateful. Shepard was glad that she hadn't failed completely today.
They started towards the barn when what appeared to be the rest of Hershel's family bolted out of the house towards Hershel.
Shepard grabbed her things from the barn.
Shepard held up the holster and her pistol.
I can't forget this ever again.
Shepard put the holster back on.
"Shepard, I need to thank you for what you did."
Shepard looked over her shoulder to see Kenny standing behind her.
"You don't have to thank me."
"Yes, I do. You saved my boy. I saw you get him off the tractor."
"Anytime. We ready to go?"
"Yeah, we're just waiting on you."
Shepard nodded and followed Kenny after double checking to make sure that she didn't leave anything behind.
Shepard got in the back seat, sitting between Duck and Clementine. Clementine leaned against Shepard and quickly fell into an uneasy sleep.
I'm surprised she can even sleep.
They were an hour out when Shepard had an idea.
"Hey, Kenny. Can I see the map?"
Kenny gave it to her without even asking why.
That was nice; she wouldn't have to lie to him.
Shepard opened the first page of the map book and froze.
It was a map of the United States.
She flipped through the book finding only the same thing, the same impossibility.
This book was a map of the United States. It even had a few pictures of a general map of the other continents in the back.
She was on Earth.
The title made things even worse.
Atlas. 2003 edition.
She had been on Earth two days ago fighting Reapers. Now she was fighting the undead 183 years in the past.
But … but … this never happened!
Shepard calmly closed the book and handed it back to Katjaa.
What the fuck happened to me?
I Hope you guys enjoyed. As you probably noticed I didn't go straight from the game but neither did I go that far away from it either.
As I need to point out now this is not a story that has Shepard saving everyone. That would be just boring, however certain things might be avoided, or caused, because of how powerful Shepard is as an N7 Biotic Vanguard. I'm trying to be real careful to avoid a Mary Sue character here though.
I apologize for any errors I didn't catch, as I don't have a beta there will probably be some.
I encourage you to review if you wish and/or PM if you have any questions or suggestions. I am hoping to hear plenty of both.