Chapter 1 : Escape.
About 1 year ago this story was deleted by the author Calinstel. According to him after Andromeda he found himself unable to think of Mass Effect in good terms anymore and thus deleted all of his works but he has given permission to reupload his story. Credit to Jonathan11197 on Reddit for saving copies of the story in .txt, .pdf, and epub formats and credit to Calinstel for writing one of the best pieces of Mass Effect fiction on this site. Should you notice any formatting issues such as paragraphs being merged please bring them to my attention, enjoy.
God his side hurt, he thought to himself as he ran. Looking ahead, he saw first Garrus then Tali reach the airlock to the Normandy and realized that no matter what happens, she was safe. Just about 30 meters more and he could join them, well that is if his broken ribs didn't interfere. Breathing was painful but the worst part was the jarring of his body from having to run so hard.
15 meters from safety falling debris knocked away the platforms leading to the ship but he couldn't stop. He had to try. He focused on Tali, she stood there in the airlock encouraging him to keep coming, to move faster. Joker shouted something he but could not hear what. All the while bullets flew past him or impacted his kinetic shields. This is a nightmare. All he could hear was Tali screaming at him to run.
"Run, Keelah Run. Run" over and over. Tali's whole being focused on given Shepard the energy to make it to the ship. She could not, would not accept this. Not again. "Shepard RUN!"
Garrus lent his own words, though silently, as he prayed to his gods to help Shepard. His left arm broken, all he could do was watch the scene unfold. Shepard running, Joker laying covering fire and Tali almost delirious with worry and yelling for him to keep running.
Inside the ship EDI had noted the destruction of the platform bridge and was slowly moving the Normandy, essentially herself, as close to the ledge as possible. Started moving even before Jeff had yelled into his mike "Closer EDI, Closer!" She had earlier alerted Jeff to the teams troubles, it was unclear whether they had just dropped their weapons or had been lost in the fall after the destruction of the reaper but in either case they needed help. Having mentioned to Jeff that they were unarmed he had grabbed the assault rifle from the repel boarders locker and gone to help.
Joker stood braced against the outer hatch and was spraying the area behind Shepard with short bursts from the AR and secretly praying he didn't hit Shepard as well. Tali stood to his right screaming into her mike at Shepard as Garrus helped to steady him. Shepard had reached the edge and jumped, arms reaching out, hands straining to find something to hold, Joker could only watch as he flew at them. As Shepard's arc dropped below his view he once more resumed firing, this time using longer bursts.
Shepard saw the edge and jumped. Time seemed to slow as he left the ground. A red hot pain flared to life in his side as he put all his remaining strength into the leap. His eyes locked onto Tali as he realized he would fall short of the hatch. He tried to tell her everything she meant to him in that instant. Tried to put in that single look all the love he had to give. He was also saying goodbye.
EDI calculated the arc that Shepard had and knew he would fall below the hatch. She did what any crewman would do, she reacted. Scraping her side against the rocks she forced her bow lower. The rough ledge dented her hull but nothing punctured or seriously damaged her anymore than she was already. The movement was slight but precise. The airlock step caught Shepard in the chest, just below his shoulders.
Focused on Tali, Shepard didn't notice the ship coming to meet him and almost bounced away from the lip before his forearm stopped him. Pain shot through him as his side once more screamed but he refused to let go. Even as he felt himself slipping he refused to give up, refused to let death claim him again. But even he knew he hadn't the strength.
A strong, 3 fingered hand, wrapped around his wrist and pulled. Tali pulls with all her might, straining at the combined weight of Shepard and his armor. Lifting him enough so his flailing feet could find purchase on the ship and help hoist him into the airlock. A second hand joins the first as Tali refuses to let him go. Pulled inside he stands looking into Tali's eyes as the airlock door opened and the ship began to accelerate away from the ledge.