A/N: Spoilers for ME3 ahead. Don't read if you don't want them. I was not happy with the ending of ME3 so I made my own for comfort. It's my opinion. If you don't like it I don't really care. This isn't very good as I was distraught as I wrote it, but whatever. I feel better now.
Shepard saw the device; a bright, effervescent light shooting up towards the sky. This would lead her to the Citadel. This would lead her to the end of the Reapers. Liara and EDI were by her side, racing just as quickly to the beam, dodging Reaper lasers along the way. 'This is it,' Shepard thought, feeling fatigue enter her body. 'It will all be over soon.'
A red beam shot out in front of her. Shepard leapt to the side, feeling her skin start to sear beneath her armor as it touched the laser. There was a bright light, an explosion, and then silence. Shepard wondered if this was the end and thought about Liara. She'd meant what she said about marriage and children, but that all seemed so immature now, something that hurt too much to even consider. Her body was aching, scorching, and she could feel that some of her armor had melted off. Wetness was dripping from her stomach and she placed her hand over the gaping wound, gasping at the warmth that was flooding from it.
The world started to slowly come back into view and Shepard fought to stand, grabbing her pistol that lay next to her. Almost lazily she looked around. Liara wasn't here. Neither was EDI. Hopefully they'd made it. But she couldn't think of that right now. She needed to end this. As quickly as she could muster, which wasn't very fast at all, Shepard shuffled again towards the beam of light. A couple of husks charged at her, but everything was moving so slowly that she killed them easily. Shepard smirked to herself, marveling at how much easier things were when you were bleeding out.
There was warmth emitting from the beam. It didn't burn like the Reaper laser and Shepard welcomed it as she stepped in and blackness consumed her once more.
Her nose woke her up this time. A vile stench filtered its way into her senses and she fought back the urge to vomit. She knew this smell all too well from Mindoir and Torfan but forced her eyes open anyway. Bodies lay piled around her, blood caked over them all like dust. Shepard shook her head angrily. All of those refugees the Citadel had taken in were dead. When Thessia was destroyed Shepard was certain there were enough Asari on the Citadel to repopulate the race, but now she wasn't so sure. There wouldn't be many pureblood Asari at least.
'Shepard! Shepard can you hear me!' a voice called from the silence.
Shepard winced at the noise but touched her communicator, thankful to hear a familiar sound. "Anderson, I'm here. Where are you?"
'I followed you but we didn't end up in the same place. I'm in some dark corridor."
"Lucky you. I'm surrounded by dead refugees." There was a pause on the line before Anderson spoke again.
'Just try and get out of there, Shepard, and we'll see if we can meet up. I see a light up ahead for me. I'm going to check it out. Can you move?'
Shepard chuckled darkly, feeling the blood on her teeth, her tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. "Relatively."
'Well then hurry up and let's end this.'
The line went silent then and Shepard forced herself up, trudging slowly towards the end of the hallway. She passed Keepers on her way and resisted the urge to shoot them. She needed to conserve her clips just in case. Anderson came back on the line mumbling about his surroundings. Shepard focused on the voice to keep her going but not necessarily what he was saying. She doubted she'd be able to comprehend it anyway; her mind was such a fog. The only thing that was clear was to keep moving.
A door at the end of the hallway opened up for her and she made her way through, wincing as her eyes adjusted to the light. Her bleeding seemed to have stopped. Or perhaps her hand had just gotten used to the feel of blood. It didn't matter now. The top of the ramp was in view and Shepard attempted to quicken her pace, her heart racing at the thought of what was to come. This could be the end. Her epic journey was coming to a close and she couldn't be happier. There was only so much fight in a person, and Shepard knew that she was reaching her limit. A long time ago she wanted to be a marine until she retired. The thought sickened her and she forced it out of her mind as she reached the top of the ramp, seeing Anderson at a control console. Outside the galaxy was waging war. It was nice that the view was hidden by the closed arms of the Citadel.
"Anderson," she mumbled as she pressed nearer. "Did you figure it out?"
Anderson said nothing but turned around. It took less than a second for Shepard to see the fear in his eyes and she quickly held up her gun, searching the small room.
"Shepard!" he grunted with force. "I can't stop. I…h-have no control!"
Footsteps were heard behind her and Shepard turned, only to be rendered immobile. She tried to move but her body was stuck, an unbelievable amount of pressure forcing on her arms to lower her gun. The Illusive Man—or what was left of him- stood before her. His eyes were still that bizarre crystal blue but he looked like a husk. Cybernetics stuck out from his neck and twisted around the side of his face. Shepard grimaced at him, fury fueling in her gut.
"Shepard, I didn't think you'd come this far. Congratulations," he said as he neared, taking Shepard's pistol from her hand. "You're just in time to see history in the making."
"Oh? Where you become a slave to the Reapers because you're a damn idiot?" Shepard asked, reveling in the anger that arose in the Illusive Man.
"It's clear that you don't understand. But I—
"No you don't understand!" Shepard seethed, her breathing becoming heavy as she fought against the force holding her. "You've done nothing but ruin our chances of surviving this! Because you're a sick, selfish person and I should have killed you. Biggest regret of my life."
The Illusive Man's brow furrowed and Shepard smirked as he came nearer. His face was just a few inches from hers when she let out a pained shout and shot her head forward, head butting the Illusive Man and sending him onto his back. In that moment the force was broken and Shepard dived for her pistol.
"I'm not going to give you the satisfaction of one…more…speech," was all Shepard said before she fired a single shot between his eyes. The cybernetics dimmed and faded away and the Illusive Man lay limp on the floor. Shepard coughed a bit, ignoring the fresh blood that came up, and turned back to Anderson, who was climbing to his feet. Seeing that he was alright, Shepard trudged to the console and opened the arms. The galaxy spread out before her and she thought of what Liara had said one night while lying in bed. How easy it would be to take a ship and just get lost in the stars. No cares or worries or fears. It was a beautiful thought; one that Shepard had never considered until recently.
An arm was placed on her shoulder and Shepard turned. Anderson was smiling at her, though his eyes held worry. "Come and have a seat, kid," he said, helping Shepard ease herself down onto the floor. Anderson looked over at her and then at the incoming Crucible. It would happen. They would destroy the Reapers. Despite his hopes, Anderson never thought they'd come this far. But Shepard…Shepard was the galaxy's wild card. And she had come through. He hopped on his comm and called for extraction. Frankly he didn't know if anyone heard it or was alive to answer it, but at least he'd tried.
"Quite a view, eh?" Anderson asked, nudging Shepard and waking her from her doze.
She startled a bit and coughed. Anderson ignored the blood dripping from her chin and the tears in his eyes.
"Best seats in the house," she mumbled with a smile, looking more alert as she stared out into the galaxy.
"You did good, kid. I'm damn proud of you. It's been an honor to know you."
"Thank you, sir. Likewise."
'Shepard!' a voice called over the comm.
Instantly Shepard was up, crawling towards the console once more. "Yeah, what do I need to do."
Anderson closed his eyes and stood. There was always something Shepard needed to do. Always more that would need to be done. It wasn't fair. She was so young. Guilt began to sting in his gut. He looked over at the dying soldier and stood, making his way over to her.
'The Crucible isn't working! You have to do something from your side,' Hackett was saying as Shepard reached the console.
Shepard gave a weak nod and attempted to stand but Anderson placed a hand on her shoulder, holding her down. She gave no resistance and he turned to the console, only to notice that they were being raised into the air on a small panel. Anderson crouched down and held onto Shepard to ensure she wouldn't fall off and closed his eyes as they reached a new room. The galaxy was all around them. For a moment he thought he was in space before he noticed the sheen of glass surrounding them.
Three giant connectors were in front of them, as well as a strange lit up blob of a figure. Anderson knelt down and helped Shepard stand, slowly making their way over to the figure. By the time they had reached it, Shepard had woken up again, observing her surroundings with a newfound alertness.
"Who are you?" she asked to the strange being.
"I am the catalyst," it said simply.
A series of questions later it had been determined that there were three ways to save the galaxy. All of them involved self-sacrifice. There was an option to destroy all synthetic life, an option to control the reapers, or an option to synthesize with them, making for a more perfect race. Anderson watched as Shepard listened intently, fully aware of the situation and preparing to do what she was always destined to do.
"You must choose," the catalyst said finally.
Shepard stood and proceeded towards the center connector when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"What do you think you're doing, soldier?" Anderson asked.
"I need…to finish this." Shepard struggled with every word and Anderson shook his head.
"Get out of here, Shepard."
"Sir, I need to finish—
"Like hell you do!" Anderson shouted, flinging his arm out towards the galaxy. "You've done more than enough. You stopped Sovereign, you stopped the Collectors, you stopped the Illusive Man. You did all of this and more to save the galaxy and I'll be damned if you don't get to see it when it's over. Live the life you've saved for us all, Shepard. Name an asari child after me if you feel so inclined."
Shepard's vision was growing blurry. She didn't have much time left. Anderson was speaking nonsense. She was ready to go. She'd always been ready to do this in some part of her mind. However, before she could figure out how to retaliate she was being lifted, carried away. Shepard closed her eyes, feeling tears escape them as she embraced her death. She'd been too weak. And now she was going to die. She just hoped that Anderson knew what he was doing.
Anderson watched as James and Ashley raced off with the Commander, disappearing down below once more. He didn't move until he saw the shuttle making its way over the Normandy. Then he took a deep breath and headed down the center of the room. Another strange beam of light was emitting from this one and smiled to himself as he stepped into it and disintegrated.
Liara was standing by the shuttle bay doors along with Dr. Chakwas and EDI. Tali stood out of the way, ignoring the massive gash in her exosuit and pacing back and forth. Miranda had followed them on board and stood rubbing her hands together nervously. The Prothean, Javik, was staring out a window pensively at the Citadel. An explosion was emitting from it. He looked down towards Earth and could see no difference. He turned himself away, too nervous to look on any longer.
The shuttle finally set itself down and Liara raced toward it, stopping only when the door opened. James jumped off, holding Commander Shepard, and Dr. Chakwas immediately applied medigel before assessing the wounds.
"It looks bad," she muttered to Liara, who was simply staring longingly at her lover who was covered in blood and barely breathing. Gently she reached out and caught a tear that was leaving the Commander's eyes.
"I need everyone out of the hull!" Joker shouted over the speakers. "The Crucible exploded and we have to get out of here!"
Liara grabbed Shepard, holding her closely to her as they raced back into the Normandy. Instead of going to the Med-Bay, Liara ran all the way up to the cockpit, sitting down with Shepard in her lap, holding her close and kissing her tenderly wherever she could. Chakwas fell next to her and continued her work, not daring to ask Liara to move. Everyone else followed behind cautiously, almost in slow motion. From the windows they could see the massive explosion. It was heading their way and most likely wouldn't be avoided, despite Joker's skill.
They were all focusing on Shepard, drawing nearer until they were all crouched around the Commander, looking on intently. Joker was shouting about bracing for impact. Miranda lifted her hands and surrounded the entire group in a barrier. She didn't know if it would help, but it was something. Everyone lowered their heads and braced themselves, listening as Liara expressed her love yet again for the Commander.
The explosion shook Earth, bathing the planet in a light so bright and so vast it could be seen and felt from the entire galaxy. Jack looked up from aiding one of her students and smiled, giving a single nod to the Commander that had saved her life in so many ways. Grunt and Wrex looked up when all of the Reaper concoctions around them began to die. Grunt thanked his Battlemaster while Wrex merely stood in contemplative silence, closing his eyes and stroking his chin.
The light flashed upon Samara, dead on Thessia, but surrounded by hundreds of creatures killed by her hand. Kasumi watched the scene unfold from a vid, bowing her head in respect for her Commander and wishing the Commander well was Zaeed's dying action before his wounds finally consumed him on Palaven.
Jacob and Brynn looked on from a fighter ship. Jacob sighed and shook his head, looking down at Brynn's stomach. "Shepard," he murmured to it before petting it ever so gently.
Garrus looked up from his sniping spot and fired the rest of his clip into the air as commemoration for the best shot he ever knew, besides himself.
The entire galaxy stopped for a moment. Not to watch the Reapers fall, not to celebrate their victory, but to pay respects to the Commander that had started it all and seen it through to the end.
Shepard woke slowly. There was a stinging pain in her side, but nothing she couldn't handle. The last thing she remembered was the catalyst. The strange child from her dreams telling her to kill herself. Was she dead? Was this were the dead went? Carefully, Shepard opened her eyes, watching until they focused on Liara, looking down before her. She had died and gone to heaven for sure.
"Liara!" Shepard wheezed, struggling to sit up.
The Asari placed a hand on Shepard's shoulder, holding her in place. She looked concerned, but her eyes were also shining and there was a smile playing at the corner of her lips. "Don't sit up. You'll rip your stitches."
"Then get down here and kiss me," Shepard smiled.
Liara leaned down and kissed Shepard deeply, slowly, reveling in every second as she traced her finger down the Commander's cheek. When they finally pulled back, Shepard saw tears in her lover's eyes. "What's wrong? Is there—
She stopped as Liara raised a hand and shook her head confidently. Calmer, Shepard looked around the room. She was in a hospital, it seemed, but there was something very off about it. It looked…old. And stitches? They hadn't used stiches to patch someone up for almost two hundred years. What had she missed? Liara's demeanor kept her calm but that didn't mean that she didn't have questions.
"So…what happened?" she began slowly, gently lifting herself up.
Liara gave a weak smile. "Anderson sacrificed himself in place of you. The Reapers were destroyed, but so were the mass relays. We were on the Normandy and Joker was trying to reach a relay before the explosion got to us. We don't know if it was the explosion or the relay, but we landed on a developed planet that none of us had heard of." She chuckled almost sadly. "I don't know if we're in another galaxy or if we've traveled back or forward in time, but here we are. And you're alive."
"Joker, Miranda, Chakwas, Tali, James, Ashley, Javik, and EDI have all made it here with us. It is most likely that anyone else we will never know what happened to them."
Shepard gave a single nod, unsure of how she should feel about all of this. "So…where are we?"
"This planet is called Talorn. We haven't had much time to investigate but they seem to be fairly advanced. I'd say it's the roughly equivalent of the year 2000 in Earth. The Talorians are a very gentle, patient, trusting people. They put the Asari to shame. We hope to learn much from each other."
Shepard smiled. "Looks like you found another species to dedicate your life to."
Liara laughed as a door opened and a Talorian doctor stepped through. He was stark white with a human sized face, but much larger brown eyes. He had four fingers but they appeared to have about six knuckles on each fingers rather than the three of humans or Asari. His body type reminded Shepard of Salarians with how slender and curved it was.
He smiled and gave a single nod to Shepard, who returned it and sat patiently as he looked her over and read her chart. Once he finished he turned to Liara and started speaking. It was apparent then that Shepard had lost her omni-tool somewhere along the way, for all she could hear was a strange dialect of clicks and moans. Liara, however, understood perfectly, and when she spoke her omni-tool translated for her, the doctor nodding along before he left the room.
Liara watched him go then smiled at Shepard once more. Shepard scooted over in the bed and patted it. Liara went over and lay with her, careful to mind the stitches. They lay quietly for a while before Liara rose up, looking down at her lover. "Well, Shepard, what are you going to do now that there are no Reapers to destroy?"
"I was thinking marriage, old age, and a lot of little blue children," Shepard answered easily, looking up into Liara's deep blue eyes.
The Asari smiled warmly and leaned down again to kiss her.
"That sounds perfect."