Well, here it is, my first fanfic. I hope everyone who reads this enjoys it, or can at least appreciate what I'm trying to do. All constructive criticism is welcome, I'd love to hear any feedback you can give me.

I need to give a shout out to Levi Matthews and his story "Finding a Way". It's a great story and was crucial in helping me develop and structure my own story, my prologue in particular is heavily influenced by his work. Check his story out here: .net/s/5705653/1/Finding_a_Way

A little background for the story. My Shepard was pretty much the default model you're given at the beginning of ME1. Default look, Soldier class, Earth-born, and Sole Survivor. I just felt that it was the best look for the character and I liked the personal history profile it provided the best. I tend to fall in line more often than not with the Paragon options in the game and that will be reflected here, although I go Renegade when I feel it is called for.

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. The world of Mass Effect and all of its planets, characters, histories, and story lines belong to the awesome folks at Bioware. I own nothing here.

Anyway, with out further ado, here it goes...

Prologue: Oblivion

"They're coming around for another attack!" Shouted Joker, just as another energy blast slammed into what little bit remained of the Command Deck of the Normandy. Commander Shepard had barely a second to brace himself for impact as the ship was once again rocked by the awesome power of their anonymous attacker. Holding onto the bulkhead for support, Shepard steadied himself just in time to watch the Normandy be ripped in half by the latest barrage unleashed upon them.

As fire raged around him, Shepard took one last chance to survey the ship--his ship. One quick goodbye to the Normandy, and everything it represented for him. The Normandy represented the past year-and-a-half of Shepard's life. Many of Shepard's greatest achievements and happiest moments had occurred on this ship, as well as some of his hardest decisions and bleakest days. The Normandy was his home; it was where he felt content and secure. Now it was being torn apart, and yet its lingering shell was still keeping him safe from harm, shielding him one last time so that he might escape to fight another day.

As Shepard watched the destruction occurring around him, he was pulled from his reverie by the screech of twisting metal and filling his eardrums.

Goodbye old friend, and thank you…but it's now or never.

Quickly Shepard turned his attention back to Joker, still sitting in the pilots chair trying to save the ship despite Shepard's orders to get to the last escape pod. Deciding to not give Joker a say in the matter, he harshly yanked his pilot from his chair. "Ah! Watch the arm!" Joker yelled at him. He knew he had fractured Joker's arm as soon as he grabbed it, but he didn't have time to concern himself with the stubborn pilot's comfort. The Normandy had given them as much time to escape as it could, and they had greedily used every second of it. He draped Joker's now broken arm over his shoulder and as fast as was possible began hobbling to the last escape pod on the ship. It was only as he was getting Joker settled in the pod that Shepard spared a small glance to the current state of the ship to judge how much time they had left to make their escape.

He immediately regretted his decision. It was in that second of hesitation that a massive explosion sent him sprawling away from the pod and back towards the cockpit. He finally grabbed hold of a bulkhead and righted himself, hoping to make one last dash for the pod. Instead of seeing Joker however, he saw only screaming yellow fire. Shepard was only two meters away from salvation, but it might as well have been one hundred.

Shepard didn't want to think he was done for at that moment, it went against his very nature to do so. What kind of soldier would he be if he ever gave up that easily? He would have never survived half of the things he had seen if he had ever let himself be taken by the notion that survival wasn't possible. He had survived the slums of New York City, the thresher maw attack on Akuze, the suicide mission on Virmire, and the Battle of the Citadel. If there was one thing Shepard knew, it was how to survive impossible situations.

However, despite his ever present optimism, Shepard had no delusions of escape along with Joker in the pod. He didn't want to admit to himself, but in the back of his mind, he knew his luck had finally run out. Shepard would not survive this, but he knew he had to make sure that Joker would.

God damnit, this is not how I hoped to end things. He thought with a humorless smile. Doing the only thing he could at that moment, he swam over to the manual release control panel, located in what was left of the cockpit, for the pod in which Joker alone would escape.

"Commander!" Joker shrieked into his com-link as he saw Shepard reach for the manual release. How dare the Commander decide it would be okay for him to go down with the ship rather than Joker? Frankly, it pissed him off. If Shepard survived this, he would make sure the Commander got an earful about this. Right now though, all Joker could do was hope that Shepard would not push that button.

I'm sorry Jeff, but this is it. Take care of yourself, and thanks for everything. Shepard thought as he pushed the release and watched the pod door close, taking Joker, and any notion of hope Shepard had left of escape, with it.

"Shepard!" He heard Joker cry into his com, his voiced laced with so much fear and despair that it cracked on the last syllable of his name. He turned off his com-link after that; Shepard did not want to die like this, listening to Joker cry into his ear.

A sudden explosion caused the Normandy to shutter violently; the force of it shooting Shepard like a bullet against the one of the remaining walls of the ship. The angle and force with which he hit the wall caused him to bend backwards unnaturally with a loud crack. He let out a bloodcurdling scream as he felt his spine snap like a twig against the wall. Fuck, my spine! He thought as the metallic taste of blood hit his tongue. The pain was sharp and intense in his lower back for a brief moment before everything below his waist suddenly went numb. Now, with no control of his lower extremities, he floated slowly and aimlessly out into open space in nothing but his enviro-suit, and the two hours of air it contained.

As he floated in the vacuum, Shepard looked on as the Normandy slowly drifted down towards the planet below. As if to show its anger with him for not escaping when he could, the Normandy slowly began to catch fire, finally culminating in a final all consuming explosion.

The last gasp, Shepard thought sadly. As he continued to drift, he could feel the pull of the gravitational field of the planet below him beckoning. It made him wish he had died in the explosion; being slowly burnt to a crisp as he was hurled at g-force speeds to the planet's surface was not something he was hoping to experience.

A hissing sound was the first thing to catch Shepard's attention. It was coming from his suit, and it was soon followed by an alarm sounding his helmet warning of de-pressurization. He could feel the skin on his neck freeze instantly where it encountered the sub-zero vacuum. Shepard futilely tried to cover the gashes in the neck of his suit, but in his panic he failed to recognize the multiple openings in the neck, legs, and chest plate of his suit. His breathing began to quicken as he franticly tried to keep himself from suffocating.

He ceased his struggling once his HUD gave him a read out of all the tears in his suit. Multiple tears with no way to repair them, there was no longer a reason for him to try and fight it anymore. He was going to slowly suffocate and then burn up in the atmosphere that he was rapidly approaching.

Not like this, I can't go without a fight! He scolded himself. He had always been an optimist--always knew he had a fighters chance--he had to be, if he hadn't been an optimist he would have still been living in the slums of New York on Earth, or dead already. But as life was slowly being sucked out of him, he finally began to give up hope.

He could feel his lungs shrinking as they were being deprived of more and more life-giving oxygen. His vision began to blur and his head started to spin with the lack of air, all he could hear was a distant ringing noise that slowly kept getting louder and more pronounced in his ears. With only a few more minutes of consciousness left Shepard's thoughts began to drift as he took stock of what he was being forced to leave behind.

He thought of his life on Earth and the Hell that had been for him. He couldn't remember what his mother looked like; he had been too young when she died to have any memory of her face. He couldn't remember anything about her--how she treated him, what line of work she was in, or how she had died. He had never met his biological father, and he had never really cared to, he still wasn't sure how he would have reacted, with anger or relief, had they met each other. He remembered joining the Reds when he was sixteen, and the first man he ever killed as a result of that decision, and how all of it had ultimately led to him enlisting in the Alliance Military two years later.

He remembered the thresher maws on Akuze and the massacre that ensued there. How he watched all of his friends die that night, and yet somehow had managed to survive and endure. The screams of his friends still haunted his dreams on occasion, as did the image of a bloodied hand slipping from his grasp as the man it was attached to was dragged beneath the surface of the planet. Being found a few days later by a rescue squad and having to explain what happened to them, reliving every detail. He was reminded of the rage he felt when he learned that Cerberus was behind the whole tragedy, all in the name of scientific experimentation, and how killing the last Cerberus operative involved in the incident had done nothing to ease his pain.

As Shepard's head began to cloud even further, his lungs screaming for more oxygen, he thought about some of the more recent developments in his too short life. The mission on Eden Prime was the first thing to enter his hazy mind. Jenkins, Geth, Nihlus, and husks all assaulted his mind in no particular order. What a terrible mission, he thought. He remembered the horror etched on Kaidan and Ashley's faces as they watched Sovereign take off from the planet's surface, as well as the pain of the information transfer from the Prothean Beacon to his unprepared mind.

He remembered the honor of being named the first human Spectre. It was still hard for him to believe sometimes, how he could have been the first choice? He knew it had as much to do with his skills as a soldier and a leader as it did with political aims--he knew that his life up to that point had pretty much been a recruitment vid waiting to happen. However, none of that changed the fact that it had been the proudest moment of his life, one he had shared with Captain Anderson, the man whom he held in such high regard, and whom he considered a father in so many ways; he had been on the edge of tears during the ceremony, his voice thick with emotion when he had accepted the title of Spectre from the Council.

His search for Saren and the discovery that the Reapers were more than just a myth entered his mind then. He remembered the planet hopping that occurred in trying to keep up with and stop Saren and his Geth army, killing the Thorian monstrosity on Feros, letting the Rachni Queen live on Noveria, and the costs of victory on both Virmire and the Citadel.

He thought of Kaidan Alenko and the quiet friendship they formed during their brief time together on the Normandy and hole that was punched through his chest when he had to make the decision to leave him behind to die on Virmire. Kaidan's death had reminded him so much of those lost on Akuze, and he was haunted by the pain for a long time afterwards. He thought of Garrus Vakarian, the young hot-headed turian who believed in justice at all cost. Garrus reminded him so much of himself that if Garrus weren't so damn ugly they could be brothers. Urdnot Wrex, the krogan mercenary who ironically might have been the most loyal and dependable person Shepard had ever met. He chuckled mentally when he thought of Liara T'Soni and her disarming naivety when it came to dealing others. She was a breath of fresh air in a galaxy where everyone always had a secondary agenda.

He was brought out of his reminiscing briefly by the screech of his suit warning him that its oxygen reserves were now depleted. He took one final gulp of what little air was left in his suit and steeled himself for the slow agony of suffocation. The loud ringing in his ears had grown to deafening levels, as if a thermal grenade had exploded right next to him, it made it almost impossible for him to think about anything. Everything appeared so distant to him now, as if he was staring out at the world from a long black tunnel. It was so nauseating that he had to close his eyes in order to focus on what he wanted his last thoughts to be.

He thought of the two people on the Normandy that he would miss the most as he began to lose consciousness, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya and Chief Ashley Williams. A large goofy-grin plastered itself to his face when he thought of them. The girl next door and the head cheerleader, he laughed. He had never stood a chance when it came to Ashley Williams. They were complete opposites in so many ways, and yet they had complimented each other so well, as opposites so often tend to do. Ash had no filter; Shepard was thoughtful and often terse. Ash was religious and read poetry; Shepard thought there was no God and was hardly what you would call a romantic. Ash always got what she wanted and Shepard tended to be a people pleaser. However, despite these differences he couldn't deny the connection they had, one moment they would be arguing heatedly over the place of aliens on an Alliance vessel, the next they would be laughing and flirting while discussing differences between various assault rifles. He had a feeling that things would have never worked out between them, but he couldn't deny that he loved her.

Tali on the other hand, had been a missed opportunity. The chemistry between them was obvious, at least to him, and he had gotten the feeling on more than one occasion that she felt the same way. She was quiet and thoughtful, and had a kindness and determination that Shepard truly admired. She had been thrown head first into whole the bizarre Saren situation and had taken it in stride, eager to prove not only her worth, but the worth of the quarian people during that mission. He remembered giving her the geth data they had found in the Armstrong Cluster (much to the displeasure of several human crew members), and how ecstatic she had been when he had given her a copy of the data to take back to the Migrant Fleet, her reaction, and he hug she gave him--perhaps a little too close and sensual given their status as just friends-- made him smile even now, as he felt his life fading rapidly.

In his final moments he mentally kicked himself for letting the potential for a relationship between them pass by. He knew why he hadn't tried--he and his human crew had almost no experience dealing with aliens at the time, and he had worried that a relationship with an alien would hurt crew relations and moral, that many of humans would view him as a race-traitor. He thought he couldn't risk the cohesion and success of the mission for a relationship with her. Shepard had been proven wrong though, as the human and alien crew members had slowly come together and began to ignore their differences, but by that time it was too late to explore any feelings he had for Tali. Not to mention the fact that any kind of physical intimacy between the two of them would have probably killed her.

He shook his head, disappointed in himself for his cowardice; it was the last movement Commander Jack Shepard made as the light finally faded from his field of vision. He pressed his mouth into a hard line, and begrudgingly surrendered to the darkness surrounding him, and Jack Shepard's now lifeless body began to gain speed as it entered the atmosphere.

Yes, the name Jack Shepard is most definitely a reference to Lost. It's the first thing that came to my mind when I first played ME1, I couldn't help myself.

More to come soon.