"Saving the Last: A Mass Effect Short Story"

Disclaimer: All character names, locations and plot elements are the property of Bioware and Electronic Arts (EA) Games. 'Mass Effect' and all related characters are the sole property of these entities. This is a fan-written fiction.

This is another letter that I imagined between the squad. See the previous entries 'The Last Letter' and 'The Last Rain'. This story assumes a female Shepard, and an ME3 destroying the Reapers and all synthetics choice, with the ambiguous question of what might have become of those who survived. Assume nothing, that's what I say.

Maybe stars know why we fall

I just wish they were thinking out loud

- Finger Eleven

Shepard –

Three days ago, Jimmy and I secured our hold on Omega's security. That smart-ass marine is all grown up. You should have seen him, built like a yahg, grinning from ear to ear, that gun in his hand, bellowing at the batarians, the turians, and the few vorcha who chose to switch sides; he looked like hell had come to town with him, that stupid grin on his face, the new tattoos all over him, then he looked at me and addressed me as 'General Scars, sir!' and I nearly hit him. I couldn't hit him, though, because that would have given him what he wanted, which was to see some kind of reaction out of me. Jimmy's not as bad as I feared he would be; you could say we're old friends at this point, having gone through enough hell to understand the other.

We made it out alive, in the end, despite all the bad things thrown our way. Despite the loss of the relays, some ships still work, and the asari are the ones on top of rebuilding the damn things, if you can believe that. The quarians are helping out, and I'll be damned if there isn't a better admiral than Tali'Zorah vas Britannia nar Normandy. They gave her a ship of her own, and she named it after the final battle.

You'd be so damn proud of her, Shepard. I know I am. She leads them like there was nothing else in the galaxy that could stop her. The quarians have adapted, and despite the loss of the geth a second time, they seem quieter for it. They don't boast as much, and they treasure what they've got. I'll try to visit next year, if the Omega Relay is working by then. It's impressive what Aria T'Loak had in mind. She demanded that they fix Omega's relay among the first; someone got it done. That asari is something else. I'll be sure to watch my back around her.

As long as I've got Jimmy Vega, though, I imagine she'll steer plenty clear of me. He sneers at her, all smug and talking shit. I think she's slightly intimidated, or, maybe she likes dumbass marines. I'm leaning toward the latter.

We got out of there alive, you know, after you did whatever it was you did. Crash-landed who knows where, and got rescued by a turian ship that just happened to be in the area; Dad was on board, so was my sister. It was a reunion, though not quite the kind I'd hoped for.

The Normandy is gone, for good this time. Joker made it out, but I've never seen someone so ruined. I thought I would be the one screaming, but it was Joker, screaming your name and EDI's name, and begging you both to come back. Jimmy had to hold him back, almost broke the little bastard in half. Joker's… well, he wasn't right to begin with, but now he's farther gone. When EDI blinked out, when her body just collapsed, with nothing in it, when the ship started to break apart around us, he lost it. I think he was as much a part of the Normandy as EDI was, and with her gone, and you and the ship, I think he broke. He's on Earth again, and I know he's being taken care of, for what it's worth.

There weren't many humans left to rebuild after we managed to limp back to Earth. Without the relays, it took months, but when we got there, the planet was liberated. The Citadel was gone, the Crucible was gone, and so were you. The turians towed the Normandy back, and Hackett ordered it scuttled and sent into the depths of space, as soon as possible. He said that a burial at sea was tradition, but there was no ocean to spare for such a feat these days. The ocean of space would do, he said.

That's right. Hackett survived, believe it or not; I've never met a crustier, tougher old bastard, and I've met my father. You should have seen Dad's face when Hackett called you his daughter-in-law. He looked at me, then at Hackett, and back at me, and then he shook the Admiral's hand, and said that a damned finer daughter-in-law there never was. I almost hugged him, but that would have been too much. He and Solana ended up back on Palaven, and there's a memorial wall, there, with your name on it. Dad says you'd have fit in well. I think he's saying that just to make me feel better, but we've managed to keep in touch via vid link. Some technology is easy to replace and upgrade; vids and comms are just one of them.

Before Hackett had the Normandy scrubbed, he let me walk through it. I went back to our room, our home, and I sat there for a long while, by myself. The pillow still smelled like you, and your imprint was still in the mattress. I took a few of your clothes from the drawers – the hooded jacket, that fancy black pants and suit jacket that you liked, with the white trim. They still smelled like you, and I needed that. I took a few other mementos, and then I walked away.

Kaidan and I met after the ship was demolished. We talked for a long time, about you, about us, about him, and what separation had done to the three of us. He told me that he wished the best for me, and then he handed me a frame, with an old image of you in it. "I need to let her go," he told me. "You keep her safe for me, okay, Garrus? I'm asking you as a friend. Keep her safe for me." He smiled. "I might want her back someday."

"Not a chance, Alenko," I told him, but he knew I was smiling.

"You were the better man," he said, and held out his hand. We shook, and he walked away. Last I heard from him was three months ago. He met a girl while they were repairing what they could of London; her name is Emiri, and she's a biotic, like him. They got married on the first anniversary of the Reaper invasion; their son was born almost a year to the day. His name is Shepard Steven Alenko; they got the middle name from Hackett, who's the little guy's intended mentor, or his godfather, as Kaidan called him. Kaidan says one of the techs started calling him 'Shep', and the nickname stuck. So the little guy's Shep, and soon, Kaidan told me, little Shep's going to have a little brother. They're going to call him David, after Anderson.

There's a big statue of him in London, now; they call him the Hero of Britannia. I didn't make it back for the dedication, but I watched it on the link. Jimmy almost choked up. He spent the entire night toasting Anderson and you, and going on and on about how nothing was ever fair, and damn it, why did the good people always have to die. He started talking about Cortez, EDI, even the Council. I locked him in his apartment for three days after. I need him at his best, especially with us battling on Omega.

I didn't tell you much about that, other than that first part. That's right, we got it. Jimmy and I are the top security consultants on Omega; we have a bunch of ex-mercs under us, and Jimmy has a pretty asari who follows him everywhere, even when he's sneering and talking shit to Aria. When they're not arguing, screwing, or trying to kill each other, she makes him laugh, and he calls her 'Coils'. He still hasn't lost that thing about nicknames.

He told me that he called you 'Lola'. I had no idea what that meant, but I figured, maybe I didn't need to know. He got very quiet after he told me, and then said that it wasn't right to think of you as anything other than who you were. I've never heard him say the word again. He still calls me 'Scars', but only when he's looking for a beating. We make damn good partners, Shepard, but we both know there's something missing.

When we drink, we always have the bartender pour an extra glass for you. They know me, and they know who you were, and while they might not know who you were to me, they know that when I sit down and order two drinks, they know that one's for me, and one's for you. There are some nicer bars on Omega now; Aria decided to class the place up just a tad bit, to bring more asari in. There's a place on the upper levels, and the bartender is a familiar face. Liara misses you. We talk a lot, and sometimes we end up together, late at night, sitting on one of the observation platforms, sharing a bottle, and talking about you.

How did I end up back here, back in this place where you saved me from myself? I still want to do some good in this universe, and with the threat gone I can start here. It's not so bad. Aria stays out of our way, and the Patriarch – remember him, that whimpering krogan? – well, I think they reached an understanding on sharing power. It's not easy, and the balance won't hold, it never does, but I think it's going somewhere good.

Speaking of good, Wrex is a father, several times over. Bakara is an amazing woman, Shepard; she's tempered that warlord into a diplomat worthy of a Council spot. Someday, if there is a new Council, the krogan will be part of it, make no mistake. I told the Primarch that I vouched for Wrex and his people; he agreed with me, and said that time would see it done.

Wrex and Grunt are leading two factions of Clan Urdnot. Grunt is stronger than he was before, with a mighty company behind him. He would make that crazy old krogan who grew him proud, but Grunt only cares about making you proud. Wrex has a daughter now, by the way. He called her Zoh. He could never say your name properly, but that girl is going to be a fine soldier herself one day. The krogan are worthy. I never thought I'd say that, but they are. It's because of you.

Wrex got Zoh on the link with me a few nights ago. The kid's talking a bit, and she asked about you. Wrex started in, telling the story of you and the rachni, and how the giant bugs were going to wipe everything out again, and Zoh stopped him. She looked straight at me and said "Uncle Garrus, what really happened?"

So I told the story.

I think Wrex wanted to hit me, but there was a very long distance of comm buoys between us. If I get back to Tuchanka before the kid turns five, I might take her something special.

Hah. Kids.

Remember what I said to you before you walked into No Man's Land? I said we could retire and practice making turian-human hybrid babies. Not saying that I wouldn't have welcomed the chance to have a kid with you, I just wish you were here to see what you did for Wrex and Bakara. When I look at Zoh, I see you. She's got green eyes. I think Mordin would be even happier than Wrex.

The krogan are living again, truly living, because of you. The salarians can bellyache about it all they want, but they've lost too much. I hope you give that dalatrass bitch hell wherever she ended up. Give her double hell for me.

I miss you.

I miss you so much it hurts.

I wake up alone in the mornings, and sometimes I have to remind myself that you are still with me. I have your tags, the pieces of your life that mattered. I know where you are, and I know that you will never leave. I can keep you safe in my memories, in my spirit, and when it's all over, I will see you again.

It doesn't diminish the fact that I miss you. It doesn't take away from the fact that I keep thinking I'm going to see you again.

See, I have a feeling, a little voice that's been eating away at me. I've got this feeling that I can't shake, and I think it's time I told you why.

So, the reason I'm writing this in the first place is because I got an interesting message the other night from the last person in the galaxy whom I would expect. She never liked me when we served together, and I didn't really like her. I didn't trust her. Still, she contacted me, and said that she'd been doing some calculations, some work on the side, and that if I could get a ship to Horizon at some point, she'd have a surprise for me. Miranda Lawson managed to survive it all, with her little sister in tow. They've turned Horizon into a real refuge. They fixed everything. When Cerberus went dark, it was like Miranda became someone new. She smiled at me the last time we talked on the vid, said that one of her associates had found something on Earth that was very interesting, and if I ever made it to Horizon, she'd be sure that I got it.

I made a few calls after that. Jacob Taylor is still alive and kicking, and he's the proudest dad you'll ever see. He carries his little girl around with him everywhere. She rides in a sling on his back, while he helps rebuild Evenstar with Brynn, his wife. Evenstar is the new name for the colony that was called Freedom's Progress all those years ago; Brynn called it Evenstar, said it needed a new name. Jacob agreed.

I gave him a call, asked if he knew what Miranda was up to. He stared at me, and then shook his head. "Haven't the faintest," he said. "Why? What'd she tell you?"

I repeated her message.

"The only thing I can think of is some salvage she pulled out of the London wreckage," he said. "I don't know what she was doing there, and I really don't give a damn."

I asked if he knew anything, told him that he could come clean.

"I walked away," he said, but I saw a bit of fire in his eyes, that old spark. "Whatever Miranda is up to, let it run its course. She'll tell you eventually. She's not so hard to read, once you've got her figured."

I asked what he had figured.

He shrugged. "She's Miranda. Oriana's as smart as she is. Between them, they could do anything. I'd wager whatever they're up to, it's big, and probably dangerous. They're nothing like their father, but they're Lawsons." His eyes grew hard. "I know her. I know what she's capable of, but still, sometimes she can surprise me."

I let him go at that point. He has a life, a family, and a future. It's what he deserves.

So I thought long and hard about some of the things that have happened in the past three years since you did whatever it was you did. There were lots of small impact craters in London after the Citadel exploded. I wonder if Miranda was waiting for you. If she was, then I suspect that I know what she's up to.

So remember those clothes I told you about? I'm holding onto them for you.

I know it sounds crazy, but something tells me that you're still out there.

And if Miranda has you, then I know you're in good hands. I know she'll save you, protect you; try to bring you back to who you were. She's damn tough, that one, tougher than most. I suspect that she wants to make something right in this galaxy, even if it means… what's that phrase, playing god? So I suspect that Miranda has you, somewhere, squirreled away, hidden until the day you're ready to come back.

I'll keep your clothes, and your tags. Liara and I will always save you a spot at the bar. Jimmy will probably share some of that horrible mescal he drinks. We'll keep you a spot.

And someday soon, I just know that I'll look up, and I'll see two women, Miranda and Oriana Lawson, and between them, I'll see a third woman, and she'll be small, soft and human, with a deeply bronze colored face, black hair hanging around her face, and the fiercest green eyes I've ever seen. I know that I'll see you again.

Even if it's not in this life, Shepard… Zoe… even if it's not in this life, I will see you in our third time. In our afterlife, our afterthought, we will live as we never lived in this life. I will love you until I take my last breath in this galaxy, Shepard. When I lie awake at night, holding your tags in my hands, I think of you, and where you are, and who might be with you, and all the horrors that we encountered since I first met you.

All I can think is that only you could have survived a Reaper falling on you. Only you could have survived the Omega 4 Relay. Only you could have survived Cerberus, the Collectors, the geth, and the Reapers. So who am I to believe that you didn't survive the Citadel?

I love you always. And you were right, with friends like Jimmy, Tali, and Liara, even Kaidan and Hackett, I'm never alone. So come back to me someday. We have our entire lives to make up for.

I'm saving you a spot at the bar, Shepard. The drinks are on me.

Love, as always, until the next 50,000 years.