The shuttle touched down on Alchera. The area was covered in blankets of white snow. Chucks of the Normandy was skewed all over the place. Shepard stepped out of the shuttle and saw the grave of his old ship, the Normandy. He walked forward towards some wreckage in the distance. Something glinted in the snow next to some rocks. Shepard walked over to find some dog tags. The tags fumbled around in his hand. He contemplated the object. Each tag would be a life that was lost on that day. A life that isn't going to be brought back thanks to some secret project. Lives that will stay dead. He read the name: Negulesco, Monica. Someone he failed.
"I'm sorry," he sadly whispered.
Monica was part of the Normandy's security. He only spoke to her a few times, but never really got to know her.
Shepard walked over to the wreckage to see that it was the cockpit. Another glint to the right caught his eye. He walked over and found another dog tag.
Dubyansky, Alexei. The serviceman had a wife and two kids on earth. He talked about them none stop, and how he was fighting for them. They'll never see him again.
Shepard reached the cockpit. His hand drifted over the walls as he walked to the front. He saw Joker's chair and immediately images flashed through his head.
Shepard stood behind Joker as they approached the Charon relay.
He shook his head trying to shake the memory. Shepard could only curse under his breath. Another glint caught his eye. Another dog tag. Crosby, Silas. He was one of the engineers. Silas made sure Tali was comfortable with the Normandy's systems, until she knew more about them than he did.
"I failed you."
Shepard walked out of the cockpit and immediately saw two more glints. He shuddered. Every damn glint was a soldier he failed to save on that day. Barrett, Germeen and Addison, Chase. Two more of security that stood next to the doors that led to the stairs. They were both good men. Good soldiers.
"I'm sorry." Shepard couldn't help but apologize to every person's dog tag. If he was faster or reacted more quickly, maybe they still would have lived.
"What do you mean he went down to that planet alone?" Tali yelled. She was furious. Garrus looked equally irritated. His mandibles scuttled.
"Shepard said he was going planet side by himself," Miranda said nonchalantly.
"And you let him?" she hollered. "This is the planet that the Normandy was destroyed over. And you let him go to its grave without anyone? Without his friends!"
"Shepard is a capable soldier," Miranda scoffed. "He'll be fine."
"For someone who was able to bring back the dead, you're an idiot," Garrus commented. "We know he's a capable soldier, but he died. You might not have noticed, but we have. Shepard carries a pain that hasn't gone away yet."
"Look just wait a bit, I'm sure he'll be back up soon enough and your worries will be for nothing."
Two more names. Two more damn names! Laflamme, Orden and Grenado, Caroline. They worked near the cockpit on the Normandy's navigation. From what he heard from Joker, Caroline died from an explosion from her console.
'A few from the lower decks' my ass, he thought. Shepard looked away from the escape pod and saw a black object sticking out of the snow on top of a hill. He crawled up the hill and dug away some of the snow. Shepard collapsed to his knees when the object was uncovered. It was his N7 helmet. It was burnet and had a nasty hole in the front. He reached for it with shaking hands.
How did they recover enough of my body to bring back? he thought. The helmet made it looked like he was pretty much disintegrated when he fell to Alchera. He placed the dog tags he held into the helmet and continued.
Just around the corner was the CIC, or what was left of it. Another flashback came into his mind.
The glowing blue light of galaxy map shone light around the CIC. Next. The ceiling and hull was gone and the galaxy map flickered. Everything was falling apart.
"Damn it!" he screamed in pain as he fell to his knees. Next to him was a datapad. It was still function. Shepard picked it up and realized that it was Pressly's journal. He read the first entry and was shock to find that Pressly hated the non-human crew members. Shepard knew he was not fond of them on the ship, but this... He went to the next entry. It was less extreme than the fist. Pressly still did not trust them, but he was warming up to them. The final entry came up. It made Shepard smiled. The first time since he landed on this planet.
'I would give my life for them regardless of race.'
"I'm sorry that you're not around anymore."
Shepard moved on. He went to the Mako and the sleeper pods. Both locations gave him flashbacks to events that surrounded them. Along his journey he found a half a dozen more dog tags. Grieco, Marcus; Lowe, Helen M.; Tucks, Carlton; Waaberi, Amina; Bakari, Jamin; Felawa, Robert; Gladstone, Harvey J. ; and Emerson, Hector. More lives he failed. More families who will never see their father, mother, brother, sister or cousin ever again.
Shepard's heart was in pain and his mind was throbbing. It's not right that they all had to die. He forced himself to move on. Another piece of wreckage was in the distance. As he approached the wreckage he could see it was the mess hall. Shepard picked up a new dog tag on the way there. Draven, Rosamund. He entered instead was immediately struck with another flash back. It was of Kaidan. Another soul that he failed long before the Collector surprise attack. A soldier is supposed to be able to handle loss of his or her fellow squad, but his crew was more than that. They were his family. Shepard lost his family long ago and only had his allies to take that role. But he wasn't able to save them. Is this his fate? To constantly lose those close to him.
Tali paced around the cargo bay. Garrus leaned against the wall. It wasn't right, she thought to herself. Shepard was there for her when she was charged with treason. He was there for her when she discovered father's body. Comforted her. Defended her. She's still a member of the migrant fleet because of him. She loved him and he loved her. He was always there for her. This isn't right. Shepard was there for her time of need and she should be there for his time of need. Damn Miranda.
Tali punched the comm. button. "Joker."
"Fly over the crash site. I'm going down in the Hammerhead."
"Well, Miranda said..."
"Forget her!" she chided.
Tali pressed a few buttons and the Hammerhead began to lower down. Garrus placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't stop me Garrus," she growled.
"I won't," he corrected. "It's just that you don't know how to drive the Hammerhead. I do."
Tali just nodded. They went inside the Hammerhead and waited for the rear hatch to open. The tank vibrated as the rear hatch open. Garrus went in reverse and the tank was free from the cargo bay. They plummeted towards the ground. The tank slowed its descent with its thrusters before landing softly. Garrus popped on his helmet and then opened the hatch. They crawled out and saw Sheppard on his knees in front of the side hull of the old Normandy.
"Shepard!" Tali gasped. She ran out from the tank towards him. Garrus was close to running with her, but decided it was best if it was just her.
Tali went down on her knees and threw her arms around him. She could feel him shaking. "I'm here, Shepard," she whispered.
"I failed them," he whimpered. "I wasn't good enough."
Tali twirled around him. "You didn't fail anyone! You did everything that was possible to be done and more." She held his head and moved it upwards so he stared into her eyes. They were filled with tears. "Everyone in the galaxy is alive thanks to you. Don't ever think that you're not good enough." She wrapped her arms around him in an embrace. "You're more than good enough."
Shepard threw his arms around her. "Thank you," he muttered.
"You were always there for me," she said, "it's only fair, that I'm here for you. I love you, Shepard."
"I love you too." He struggled to his feet. "I still need to put up the monument. Come on. We'll do it together."
The three dragged the monument in front of Normandy's hull. The monument was of the Normandy flying with its jet stream used as a base. A statue to remember those who died fighting the Reapers. Their loss will not be in vain.