"But we, who round the capes, the promontories
Where strange tongues vary messages of surf
Below grey citadels, repeating to the stars
The ancient names—return home to our own
( all prompts courtesy of Hart Crane.)
I. vaporous scars
The face mask did its job better than most of the vacuum armor—there's skin enough left that Miranda can see the puckered line of scar tissue bisecting Shepard's eyebrow. She wonders for a moment whether Shepard would prefer to keep it, but Miranda does not understand how people can treasure imperfection, and therefore she pulls the skin back and starts preparing to grow more.
II. upward from the dead
After Shepard, there is nothing left to discover. People have told Liara before that she shouldn't waste her intelligence on dusty ruins and bones, but she always liked to look at the past. Now there is present enough to occupy her. She starts digging for Shepard, and in this way finds a nearly prehistoric predator on her trail—the Shadow Broker.
Liara must grow chitin and claws and fight for her place in the pecking order, and because she is good at this she finds herself in an office on Illium, with secrets in her data files and employees outside her door.
Sometimes this does not give her enough time to mourn. Sometimes she talks to her assistant and says "I miss Shepard." There isn't enough revenge in that statement to properly define her, but nonetheless it is true.
"Many people in the galaxy do."
"But they weren't there."
III. from four horizons
He speaks the traditional words. "And what did you find on your Pilgrimage, daughter? What do you bring back to the Fleet?"
"We discovered the guiding force behind the geth. I know the Council doesn't believe Shepard, but…didn't. Didn't believe. That doesn't matter! We discovered that the Reapers are scouting out our galaxy using the geth. Maybe there's something we can do to get them back."
Tali felt that way about Shepard's death, too. Maybe there's some scrap of her we can get back if we fight hard enough—
And so she researched and dissected and remembered her way to coldness, until when Shepard came back the only sign of Tali's sudden wash of I do not have to mourn any longer came out as a crack in her voice.
IV. telepathy of wires
Mordin was in the clinic when the news came that Shepard had died. All of the major networks carried it.
"Just another human," murmured the vorcha on the operating table.
Mordin continued his work.
V. sidelong with flight of blade on tendon blade
The smallest things, the tiniest words, bring the memory back as if it were yesterday.
The universe would not stand for that.
VI. behold the dragon's covey
The Reapers are massing for the attack.
They've been watching carefully, placing their agents, because while humans are so fragile and boring compared to the other races the Reapers have cultivated/killed/utilized, all the calculations in their myriad of computers say that this one human is important.
The news comes in that she's dead, and that will not stop them. Dead or alive, an organic controller is useful. Like Saren to Sovereign, it is not really the body the Reapers need, but the electricity in it—
And so, when they hear the desperate bleeping distress call of that ship, that god-slayer, they hove into motion.
Metaphorically speaking of course, through intermediaries and untraceable calls, but a starship with tonnage and firepower and intent like the Reapers have can be said to do nothing less- they swoop in to the rescue.
VII. power's script—wound, bobbin-bound, refined
"Two years ago? Yeah, I was in the cult. Red sand, ryncol, whatever. Gotta shock the system somehow. Got this tat from a man with hair down to his ankles. Gave him one too, don't remember what or where. He was no artist. Wanted a girl or something.
"But Shepard. We heard about it. Somebody had a crackly net hookup and got the news. That funeral must've been some party. You drank, didn't you? Don't tell me you didn't. All those people hyped up on the most expensive stuff the Citadel could pry out of its politicians, and don't tell me nobody got born after that. Sadness, happiness, same chemical crap. Makes people wanna dance.
"No, I didn't have much to be upset about. Shepard was some grunt that got important cause she saved the Citadel. Those days—you gotta remember this, I pop the right needle and I'm the most important chick the galaxy has to offer. We heard about it. But we didn't really care."
VIII. the dorsal change
Sitting in the escape pod watching chunks of Normandy shed their fire into the vacuum, Kaidan thinks What's happening? Everything was alright. We were sailing smoothly.
He thinks nearly the same when Shepard reappears on Horizon and opens old wounds.
IX. return home to our own
The Justicars hear about the lost Spectre as a matter of business. Samara is too focused on her own path to pay much attention. She knows by now that she has birthed a monster; at first she denied the idea that she might have to kill Morinth, but she has seen many hate victims and many Ardat-Yakshi victims, and knows which she pities more.
X. far watches on the main
When Garrus hears about Shepard's death he is on the Citadel, reporting back to C-Sec, and he inanely thinks they'll give me leave for this as he clutches a railing and looks down the terrible vertical silver pit onto the next ward far below.
There's that feeling of falling again when he sees her on Omega, so he steadies himself against the sniper rifle and does his best not to show her that his knees feel weak and he has started—or perhaps stopped—feeling like he is the one who's been falling backwards into a gravity well.
XI. space, instantaneous
"It's a pity that someone else killed her." (It's not like he wanted the honor personally, as if there was a blood feud between them. The few times Shepard destroyed Cerberus bases it was almost by accident—there was some mineral she wanted on the planet, and Cerberus wanted it too. But the Illusive Man knows there is more to her than prospecting and soldiering on. Shepard, through blood or chance, is the distillation of human.
She's the one who can save them all, and so he rallies his paper-pushers and informants and brokers for her body.
"Miranda and T'Soni are on it," Kelly says, and the Illusive Man takes a deep breath before cracking open the liquor cabinet beneath his teak desk and choosing something strong. He turns around to see her scowling—trying at least; it looks like a kitten just after it mewled for food. Kelly Chambers is older than she looks; she works hard to appear that way.
The liquor burns, and he tries to track the moment he can no longer feel it in his throat. Nutrient scrubbers in his bionic gut will filter out the stuff that isn't used to keep the body running and the brain happy.
"I'm not in the mood for a lecture about my health now, Kelly."
"It's your mind that I'm worried mostly about, sir."
He gives a noncommittal grunt. She has things to do, and it is out of duty (and maybe a little fear) that she scurries away.
XII. repeating to the stars the ancient names
Okeer is still on Tuchaka when he hears of Shepard's death. Urdnot Wrex keeps his grieving to himself, as is appropriate to a chieftain, but Okeer hears from workers at the docks that the Urdnot court got a speech out of him.
Something about "a warrior's death" and "nothin' in space could do it, so the sky itself got together and took her", and "stop mourning, there's work to do."
XIII. and this long wake of phosphor
It's beautiful—somehow, impossibly, obscenely, beautiful—as Joker feels his tears smear between his skin and his mask and Shepard is becoming a blue-white black-hearted comet tail (she's burning-) and he can do nothing except flatten his palms against the plate glass and watch—
(She'll tell him she's sorry later, fit it casually into conversation as she puts a cup of milk on the tray next to Gardner's newest attempt at fine cuisine. He'll know exactly what she means for one comet-colored moment, and then she'll be gone, and he'll realize later that she was actually saying sorry I can't stay and talk right now, I need to eat and run because the Illusive Man's on the line and it's something about Reapers-)