Shepard was at her desk in cold sweat trying (and failing) to write her after action report. The Rannoch mission was intense; facing down a one hundred and sixty meter high reaper on foot with nothing more than a laser pointer. Yelling at the quarian admirals to stand down or watch their entire species get blasted into specs of space dust.
She winced. She hated the pang of grief that crept into her gut. She hated losing people.
The door chimed. She breathed a sigh of relief as she closed her terminal; she could finish that tiresome report another time. She needed a distraction.
"Come in," she said. The doors opened. "Garrus, how many times do I have to tellyou that you don't have to knock— EDI?"
"Hello Shepard," EDI greeted. Her naked metallic body stood in the doorway, her silver eyes behind her amber visor shone inquisitively. "Is this a bad time commander?"
"No no! I was just finishing something," she said as she closed her unfinished report. "Please come in." EDI edged into her cabin, somewhat timidly. Can a robot feel nervous? And why didn't she contact me through the ship? Shepard thought. "What's on your mind EDI?" she gestured for her to take a seat. She complied and sat on her bed.
"Shepard, may I ask you a question?"
Shepard chuckled. "Let me guess; is it about abnormal human behaviour?"
"No, not quite…" EDI said. Shepard saw she was clearly troubled. "Shepard, what is death?"
Death? The question caught her off guard. Did what happen to Legion bring this on?
She breathed a laugh, short and sour. "EDI you are asking probably the most difficult of questions…" Her mind trailed away as she wondered what to say, or why she was asking this. "Did Joker deflect this question with humour?"
"No!" EDI said to his defence, "I calculated that given your experiences, you'd be the best person to ask."
Floating, drifting off into the great void with only the hauntingly dim stars for guidance. Her breaths quickening, air getting thinner, panicking. Lungs burning, head getting lighter, vision blurring into one dark purple colour. Thoughts getting heavier, struggling to stay conscious.
'Not now… not like this'
And then darkness. Nothing more, nothing less. Darkness. She felt time pass. Every second felt like a life time of the universe. Then she woke up on a slab in a Cerberus lab.
Shepard did not want to think about this. God she would've liked to have forgotten it ever happened. But something on EDI's synthetic face spelt fear. Shepard felt the same, though she did well to hide it. She couldn't run from death forever, someday it would catch up with her.
"Where do I start?" What do people believe in? "Some people believe that when you die, you get transformed into this indestructible form. And then you live out the rest of eternity maintaining this form and enjoying all the pleasures that it presents."
"Like a deity? A god?"
"Yes," of course that's all just mythological BS. "However there are those that believe in our… our blinking into nothingness." Shepard snapped her fingers to illustrate the point. "They believe that after life is just… concocted by people afraid of the dark, and that all are hopes and dreams… just merely a delusion." Shepard stared up at the stars out of her overhead window. The window that constantly reminded her of her death. But god were those stars pretty.
EDI was clearly contemplating everything she said. "What do you believe in?"
Shepard thought for a moment and a grin appeared on her face.
"That's an interesting question Shepard," said Liara. "Well, lots of Asari believe that the universe is a consciousness. And that every life within it is an aspect of the greater whole, and when we die our spiritual energy is returned to that greater consciousness."
"Wait, so like the force?"
"I'm sorry, the force? What is that?"
Shepard chuckled, "Forget it Liara."
"An interesting question commander, though I am curious as to why you would ask me that."
"Well Thane, sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me."
"Ah," Thane paused to think. "Remember what I said about our bodies being separate from the soul?" Shepard nodded. "Well our body is a physical entity; our soul takes the form of energy. When we die our soul becomes disconnected from our body and it moves on."
"Moves on where?"
"To wherever you believe it will go."
"You never seem to pick the easy questions, do you Shepard?" Garrus said in his usual sarcastic tone.
"Well, you should know by now, I'm not an easy Woman."
"Ha, true." Shepard shot him a mock glare of annoyance, though its impact was lost due to her idiotic grin. "You've heard me say 'spirits' a lot right?"
"A bit too much," she replied.
"Well Turians believe that we all have spirits which transcend every one of us. And when we die that spirit moves on to… I don't know, Turian heaven maybe. Probably a bar or something appropriate. Also, spirits aren't just limited to an individual. A ship and a crew that has performed great deeds would have a spirit."
"So…" Shepard began, "would what we have, between you and me. Would that have a spirit?"
Garrus chuckled, "never knew you were a hopeless romantic." He teased.
"Only around you Garrus."
"Still trying to make me blush, huh Shepard?"
"One day it will work." Her thoughts trailed back to what she said earlier, "I wonder what our spirit would look like."
"Ha, I've got a pretty good idea what it could look like." Garrus said, sub harmonics ringing in a low seductive tone.
Shepard laughed warmly. "Mind out of the gutter Vakarian."
"What do I believe in?" Shepard repeated EDI's question. "With all the clockwork perfection and complexity of the universe I believe that death… death is a gateway." Her skin between her eyebrows was pinched in thought. "That when we die, we get thrust into a reality that our mortal minds simply cannot comprehend as a reality. Hence our mind and bodies die, whilst our soul moves on to find a better understanding of the universe."
EDI looked at her. Her face was completely neutral, unblinking and unwavering.
Shepard smiled. "Does that answer your question EDI?"
There was a pause.
"Yes, though it may take time to process all this information."
"Right, in the meantime, do you have any more complex philosophical questions?" she joked.
"No… Yes." EDI replied.
You brought this on yourself, Shepard moaned to herself. "Fire away EDI."
"What is love?"
"Love?" Shepard almost spluttered. "You really do like those difficult questions don't you? I take it that you thought given my experiences, I was the best person to ask?"
"I asked Jeff earlier but he used humour to deflect the question. He said that 'love' between two organics is: 'one person trying to have sex with the other'."
Shepard chuckled sadly. "Sounds like Joker. Unfortunately in a lot of cases that is true. Not all of them, but a lot."
Her cabin doors opened and Garrus walked in carrying a tray of hot food. She was so hungry she could eat a mammoth. She caught whiff of the aroma and her mouth soaked with saliva at the delicious smell. "Hungry Shepard?"
"Please tell me that's levo." She pleaded hungrily.
"It is, though I'm not sure about Vega's cooking." It's was then that Garrus noticed EDI sitting on their bed.
"She came up here to ask me something." Shepard explained before he could ask.
"Oh boy, was it some deep philosophical question about human behaviour?"
"You could say that," replied Shepard.
"I asked Shepard what Love was." Said EDI
"Love?" Garrus looked confused.
Shepard grinned, "Just your area of expertise huh Garrus."
Garrus laughed, and then he thought and then he laughed again, and then he thought some more.
"Well I suppose love is the inexplicable, unconditional, sometimes illogical and extremely passionate care for someone." He said as he walked towards Shepard and put the tray on her lap. "Someone you can't live without." He planted a soft affectionate kiss on her forehead and she struggled not to blush. She returned his kiss by touching her forehead to his.
"And love is probably one of the only things that can transcend species, space, time, life and death." Shepard continued.
"That's you being a hopeless romantic again."
"Only because you're here Garrus."
EDI observed them with attentive eyes. They didn't mind letting her watch their little scene of intimacy. After all, EDI observes everything that happens on board the Normandy.
"So," said Shepard, "Does that answer your question EDI?"
"Yes Shepard, thank you." She said as she got up to leave.
"What was that all about?" Garrus chuckled once she left.
Shepard grinned as she thought. "I think EDI has finally found her humanity."