A/N: All the characters, except Aida, belong to Bioware.
Chapter 1: Funeral
My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
The cathedral service was lavish. Ambassador Udina gave a long speech praising her courage and determination. It was so full of praise that Anderson cringed at certain moments—everyone who really knew her also knew that she and Udina never got along.
Ceremony, she would have lamented. Idle ceremony. Although she would have hated the lavish arrangements, she would have been delighted to see how many people of various species and races loved her, for hardly anyone believed her in her life when she made her claim about Saren and the Reapers. Even now, people who truly believed her are considered conspiracy theorists.
The procession was long. It took hours for her empty coffin to reach the SSV Kilimanjaro from the newly built Shepard monument where it was displayed. People and various races wanted to touch her coffin to throw flowers or merely to pay their respects. For a week, the Shepard monument was littered with thousands of bouquets. Like the monument made for her, the coffin was only symbolic for no one ever found her body.
There was another service in the Kilimanjaro. This time, Anderson gave a short, simple yet moving speech. He told everyone how he first met Shepard—a no-nonsense N7 trainee who showed much courage as much as she showed promise. Hardly anyone knew Shepard as long as Anderson did. But come to think of it, she would have probably been so at one point given her experiences in Mindoir and Akuze. After Anderson's speech, she was given gun salutes before her coffin was released in space.
We, the ones she served with, were all spectators of this show even if we were given good seats. Liara could not hold back her tears. Wrex scoffed at everyone who cried. Garrus remained solemn. Tali sniffed under her mask. I sat in silence. I know that I could never express all that she was to me in mere words.
When all this was over and when everyone was gone, Anderson took the seat beside me. After a long pause, he said, "Perhaps now is the time to take your shore leave, Lieutenant."
"Permission to speak freely?"
"How could I when I had promised to spend it with her?"
There was another long pause. We have our own ways of dealing with grief.
"Sir, what about the…Geth mission?" I stopped. I could not call it for what it actually was. "She would have wanted us to complete it."
"She would have wanted you to take your time. She gave her life to save all of you so she wouldn't mind sparing you some time off the mission."
"Sir, I know that very well. It was because she gave her life for all of us and the mission that I must give it my full attention. I must find out who or what did this to her and the others."
"Very well. But you do realize that this is more than clean-up duty."
"I understand, sir."
"Good luck, Commander."
I was still not used to being called that.
"Thank you sir." I got up and gave him a goodbye salute.
I thought a lot about what Anderson said. A lot of us have debated what Shepard would have wanted. All of us did our best to fulfill what we have believed that Shepard would have wanted.
As I reached my apartment, I flicked through the book of myths that she lent me—a book that I was never able to return. She marked many of its pages with her small free hand. I settled reading a page that contained the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This page was unmarked. I perused its contents and never knew when I fell asleep.
In the dream that followed, I was Orpheus. I bribed the ferryman to carry me to Hades. I braved death to see her once again. I thrilled Hades with a song of my grief. Finally the dark god, agreed to let her go in the condition that I lead her to the light without looking back.
No looking back: that was the plan. I felt for her rough but slender hands as I led her, groping in the darkness. At that moment, she felt so real, so alive.
Finally, light downed at the end of the tunnel. I turned to glimpse at her beautiful face. Her smile, which rivaled any goddess' suddenly turned to a look of terror. And in an instant, she was gone.
I would have given everything to see her again.
In this account that I write of her, perhaps I would convince the universe to bring her back to me.
In life or in death, we will meet again.