Project Integrity

It was very quiet. The gunfire had died down. There were no mechanical roars. It was beautiful but frightening at the same time. When the red energy erupted from the Citadel, it caused every reaper to fall over and die. Their corpses littered earth's surface and her orbit. Despite the war, earth was in relatively good shape. Major city centres were destroyed, but some remained as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller cities, towns and factory districts that remained fairly intact.

The sacrifice required to defeat the reapers was immense. The geth immediately deactivated when the red energy wave passed through them leaving just their husks behind. The mass relay system was destroyed leaving the entire hammer and sword army stranded on and above earth. Though this was not the first thought on everyone's mind. Right now they won a war against an almost invincible enemy. The main focus was finding survivors, recording the names of dead, and figuring out what to do next.

In the ruins of London a body lay amongst the rubble. It was Commander Shepard. He wore grey armour that had N7 printed on the chest. Parts of his armour were either heavily damaged or had scorched marks. His dog chains hang over the chest plate. Shepard was motionless. Suddenly he engulfed some air and his chest moved. He tried sitting up but pain shot through his body when he tried. His right hand slowly moved to his side and pulled out a container of medi-gel. It was his last one. He injected it into his exposed arm.

The anaesthetic properties of the gel quickly kicked in and numbed the pain. Shepard slowly sat up. Despite the medi-gel, his body was fairly stiff making it hard to move. He looked around and saw that he was surrounded by dark grey rubble. Luckily none of the rubble landed on him. Shepard got to his feet and walked towards the only light source. He reached the hole and carefully crawled through to escape this artificial cave.

Once he exited the short tunnel, he was blindly by the sun. The clouds in the sky were clearing up. It gave him a good view of the city. It reminded him of old World War 2 photos of a bombed London he saw while in boot camp. The daylight allowed the Commander to truly see his handy work. Within sight were several reaper corpses with the lights, which ran along their body, off. Dozens of people crawled over the reapers bodies. Shepard believed they were either soldiers celebrating their victory or scientists immediately working on understanding reaper technology knowing that indoctrination can no longer affect them.

Shepard walked towards the closest group of people he saw and limped in that direction. It was miraculous that Shepard is currently as well as he is. At the very least, his legs weren't broken. He spat up some blood as he hobbled.

The soldiers ahead saw some figure limping towards them. "Look a survivor!" one of them pointed out.

"Call in a med-team!" the squad leader order his communication specialist.

The comm specialist immediately called for a med-evac as her squad mates approached the wounded man.

The squad leader noticed the armour the man was wearing. "You look like you've been through hell, soldier. What's your name and rank?"

"Commander Shepard," he replied.

"My god!" he gasped. "Commander Shepard? We thought you were dead."

"Again?" he weakly joked.

"We had reports that you were on the Citadel. The entire station blew up. How did you get out?"

"I-I..." Shepard shook his head. "I can't remember." He looked up at the squad leader. "I need to speak with Admiral Hackett. I have to speak to him as soon as possible."

"I'll get you Admiral Hackett, but we need to get you to a hospital."

Two of the soldiers took one of Shepard's arms each and wrapped them behind their necks to support him. A shuttle flew in and landed nearby. The two soldiers helped Shepard get inside. One of them got to work applying medi-gel to his wounds.


The side door of the Normandy opened up. Joker, Tali and Garrus approached the opening to view their new surroundings. The landscape was covered in lush jungle. The three hopped out. The rest of the surviving crew walked up behind them to see the landscape. They got out of the Normandy, one-by-one.

"This place is beautiful," one of the servicemen said.

"At least the air is breathable," Ashley observed.

Javik walked out and did a quick scan of the plant life. "The planet is levo-based. That's some good news."

"Not for Tali and me," Garrus said in an irritated tone. "All we have are the supplies on the Normandy."

"Garrus, we'll think of something," Liara assured him.

Vega noticed that Tali has not said anything since they went into FTL. Her stance was rigid. "Tali, are you okay?"

"I'll be fine," she said coldly.

"I'll need two people to come with me to explore the surrounding area," Ashley said. She looked at the people with her. "Vega and Javik, come with me. Everyone else, go back inside the ship and try to fix her up. Let's see if we can get her functioning again." And then as an afterthought, "Also... gather the dead and give them a proper burial."

The Normandy's crew went right back inside the Normandy to do whatever they can to get more functionality back to her. The ship itself, however, was in bad shape. The thrusters on the right wing, along with the wing, were gone. Half of one of the thrusters on the left wing was terribly damaged. There were deep gouges along her sides, and some fires that emanated from those gouges. One of the servicemen went to work putting these fires out.

Tali went back into the Normandy and walked at a constant pace towards the elevator. Garrus and Liara followed behind her maintaining a distance roughly several metres behind her. Joker couldn't keep up.

"Tali," Liara called out to her.

Tali walked a little faster to the elevator.

"Tali!" Garrus also called out.

Garrus and Liara moved faster to catch up to her. The doors of the elevator opened and Tali went inside. Garrus and Liara barely made it inside the elevator before the doors closed. Tali had her head bowed.

Liara placed a hand on Tali's shoulder. "Tali..."

"I just wanted more time," she whimpered.


Tali embraced Liara in a hug and finally released her tears. "I just wanted more time!"

"I'm so sorry," Liara cooed.

"Why did we leave him, Garrus?" Tali demanded in between choking back tears. "Why?"

"We had our orders, Tali," Garrus replied solemnly. "You saw that reaper blast. I didn't see him around after it struck the front line. If we hadn't gotten out of there, Harbinger would have killed us too."

"Orders? If I had known that the Normandy was just going to leave the system, I would have stayed with Shepard! Kept looking for his body. We just left him!"

"Look, Tali, maybe we can do some repairs to the Normandy, get her space bound again," Garrus suggested.

"Repairs?" Tali scoffed. "You both saw the Normandy. Her right wing is gone and we're stranded on what appears to be an uncharted world."

"We don't know yet," Liara said to calm her. "We might have landed on a nearby human world. We might be able to get some supplies from there."

The elevator hit the cabin level and the doors opened. Tali walked out with Garrus and Liara close behind her.

"Shepard helped my people reclaim the homeworld and made peace with the geth!" Tali yelled. "I was able to walk upon my world. I even"—Tali choked and fell upon her knees—"picked out a spot where we would build our home. We went through all of this only to become trapped on this planet." Tali fell to her knees. "Oh, Keelah! I'm never going to see Rannoch again. I'm never going to see my people again! I'm... never going to see Shepard again."

Liara crouched down and hugged Tali. "I'm so sorry."

"I want to be left alone," Tali said.

"Tali..." Garrus tried to get out.

"Please," she repeated firmly.

"We'll give you all the time you need," Liara said.

Liara and Garrus left the Cabin and went into the elevator. Tali walked over to Shepard's and her bed. She sat down and saw the picture of herself on Shepard's bedside table. Tali took this picture on Rannoch. She wanted to feel the air of Rannoch on her skin. For the picture, she wore nothing but Shepard's hooded sweater.

Tali lay down on her side and just let her tears fall. She wanted more time with him, but the Reapers took that away from her. They took her people away. They took her world away. Now she was doomed to die on some uncharted planet.


Joker struggled trying to drag EDI's body out of the Normandy. When the energy wave hit the Normandy, EDI suddenly deactivated and her platform fell over lifelessly. The Normandy was set to complete manual controls and Joker had to steer the ship to crash safely. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Their love was... unusual. An organic loving a synthetic and vice-versa. Few on the Normandy truly understood how such a relationship developed. Shepard was the person behind the two getting together. Right now Joker wished that he hadn't pushed him towards pursuing this relationship.

Joker slowly went down the steps with EDI's body. He felt terrible dragging her body like this, but everyone else was busy and he needed to give her a burial. In the crash, three other crew members died. Their bodies were lined up and ready to be buried. One of them worked basic maintenance in the cargo bay while the other two worked as security for the war room. Two of the servicemen dug up the necessary number of graves for them.

"Where's the fourth grave?" Joker asked the two crewmen.

"Well, uh, we didn't think..." one of them tried to get out.

"Think what?" Joker demanded in an upset tone.

"...That a machine wouldn't need a grave," the other one replied.

"A machine? This is EDI! She is Normandy and a part of her crew! She deserves a proper burial."

"Yes, sir."

The two crew members got to work right away digging the fourth grave.


The hospital was bustling with activity. Shepard was wrapped in bandages and had at least five doctors looking at him.

"You have me stabilized, go check on someone else," he growled.

"The fact that you're on Earth alive is a miracle," one of the doctors chided. "We need to make sure there won't be any complications."

"You also suffered burns, cuts and a bullet to the chest," another doctor added. "The galaxy wouldn't forgive us if we let its saviour die."

"And I'm fine now, go check on someone else," Shepard said. "I didn't lose too much blood and my implants are healing me. I'll be fine. Where's Admiral Hackett?"

"Right here, Commander," Hackett announced as he entered Shepard's room. "You doctors can leave."


"Right now," he reaffirmed.

The doctors quickly left the room.

"I don't know what you did, Commander, but you did it," Hackett said. "Reapers all over have shut down and died. But we are left with a lot of questions and we were hoping you might be able to fill us in."

"I will Admiral, but I need to know if my crew is alright."

"Commander, I... I don't know what to tell you. When it was reported that Harbinger killed your team at the beam, I ordered the Normandy to warn other worlds of what happened. Before they could reach the mass relay, that energy wave came forth from the Citadel. They thought that the energy would destroy their ship and so went into FTL. We... haven't heard from it since."

"What about Tali and Garrus?" Shepard asked in distress while standing straight up. "Are they okay?"

"When we thought you were killed by Harbinger, Tali and Garrus were ordered to retreat to the Normandy."

Shepard grabbed the sides of his head and leaned forward briefly. Hackett saw the pained expression in his face and the tears at the corners of his eyes. Shepard three on a shirt and said, "I need access to a QEC right now."

"Very well, Commander," he said. "I have a shuttle right outside of the hospital. I can take you to one within ten minutes. Hopefully you can explain to me why the mass relay and Citadel was destroyed and why the geth suddenly keeled over and died."

"I will, Admiral."

"Come on then."

They left the room and the doctors from earlier rushed to them.

"Shepard can't leave yet!" one of the doctors pleaded. "He was greatly injured and-"

"We're leaving," Hackett said. "If you want to stop him, you're welcomed to try, but he did just end the reaper war. So the move is yours."

"We'll... tend to the others."

"You do that."

Shepard limped as they walked down the halls. As Shepard walked by other patients, everyone was quiet when they saw the Commander walk by. Every Alliance soldier in sight stood at attention and saluted the Commander. The two Alliance officers walked out of the hospital and right into the shuttle Hackett used to get there. The shuttle lifted off and flew into the sky.

"We're heading to my ship. From there you can contact the Normandy. If you can."

"Thank you, Admiral."

"Now about my earlier questions. What happened? Last I heard, you were supposedly killed by Harbinger trying to reach the conduit beam."

"I was hit bad, but I was still able to move. I continued into the beam and was transported onto the Citadel. Anderson was ahead of me. We met in what appeared to be the Citadel's primary control room. It was there we found the Illusive Man. He was changed. He looked part husk. He was able to take control of Anderson and me. Indoctrination. The Illusive Man... The Illusive Man forced me to shoot Anderson."

"It wasn't your fault, Shepard."

"I-I know... It's just I couldn't fight it. I struggled just to keep talking. I was able to make the Illusive Man see he was being controlled by the reapers though. He shot himself when he finally realized it."

"Like Saren."

"Like Saren. Anderson didn't last too long after. He urged me to finally destroy the reapers. But I didn't know how to get the Crucible working. I passed out from my injuries, but I was woken up by the Citadel's AI."

"The Citadel had an AI?"

"The AI was the Catalyst, not the Citadel. It was responsible for the reapers. For the cycle of extinction. It told me why it did what it did."

"And the reason?"

"They were created to stop wars from breaking out between synthetics and organics. Once a race becomes advance enough to create AIs, they are destroyed to stop synthetics and organics from wiping each other out."

"That- That doesn't make any sense. Reapers wipe out all organic life to stop organic life from being wiped out by synthetics?"

"The Catalyst tried arguing that organic life is not wiped out but 'preserved' as a reaper. I didn't buy it. I don't know what reasoning the first race of the galaxy used when they created the reapers, but now... it doesn't matter. The Catalyst realized that things have changed and that something new had to be done. It then gave me three choices. One choice was controlling the reapers. It would kill me, but I would have full control over the reapers. The next choice was synthesis. It would alter all life, organic and synthetic, and make them both organic and synthetic. That would also kill me. I didn't go for that because I didn't believe evolution is something that should be forced on any race. Finally I had the option to destroy the reapers. It would kill the reapers, but it would eliminate the geth and EDI since they had reaper code."

"That would explain the geth. My god, Shepard. I can't even begin to imagine... I'm sorry those choices were forced upon you. No one should have to decide the fate of the galaxy like that. If it means anything... you made the right choice. It cost a lot, but we knew that this war wasn't going to end without sacrifice."

"The geth only recently achieved true AI status. And they were sacrificed."

"The geth knew that they could die in this war. I doubt they regret anything. They will be remembered for their sacrifice. Shepard... Their deaths are not your fault. The reapers are defeated and the galaxy is united. But tell me, why was the Citadel and Mass Relays destroyed."

"No matter the choice, the Citadel and Mass Relay would be destroyed. It didn't make sense to choose the other options when we still have no mass relays."

"This is going to present some problems. The Council was on the Citadel when it was taken by the reapers along with over thirteen million civilians. With the mass relays gone, tens of thousands of people from the other races are stranded in our system. They are all still jubilant over the defeat of the reapers, but once that wears off, there's going to be panic. Some of the races can't survive on our planet for an extended period of time, especially with trade routes cut off."

"We'll think of something."

"So how did you get out of the Citadel?"

"I don't know. When I shot out the power conduit it exploded. I was knocked out. Next thing I know, I woke up in the ruins of London."

"I'm glad you made it out. We'll need your help to get the other races to cooperate. They respect you."

"I'm not much of a politician, Admiral."

"I don't need a politician right now. I need a leader. And right now, that's you. The leaders of the different fleets will want to speak with you, but I know you'll want to speak with the Normandy first."

"Thank you, Admiral."

"Admiral Hackett, we are approaching the docking bay," the shuttle pilot announced.

The shuttle landed inside the docking bay. There were twenty Alliance soldiers waiting around the landing pad. Once the shuttle doors opened, they all burst into cheer over the arrival of Commander Shepard. They chanted his name repeatedly as Hackett and Shepard stepped out of the shuttle.

"They've been granted time to celebrate the victory," Hackett told Shepard. "After what we all been through, we all need time."

They walked through the doorway towards the QEC.

"I can't rest now," Shepard muttered. "My crew is out there somewhere. Not just that we have thousands stranded here in our system. I can't rest now until they can get back to their families."

Shepard started to walk faster, but Hackett grabbed his shoulder. "Shepard. You barely made it out of this war alive. You somehow went from the Citadel to London. That's a miracle that makes me reconsider religion. You've done enough for this galaxy."

Shepard shrugged off his hand. "This isn't about the galaxy anymore. This is for my crew and a promise."

"A promise?"

"I promised Tali I would fulfill her father's promise and build her a home on Rannoch."

"I-I'm sorry, Commander, but I don't think you'll be able to keep that promise. Without the relays, long distance travel is nigh impossible."

"Many said defeating the reapers was impossible."

"This is different, Commander. Even with our fastest ships, they can only travel roughly 12 light-years a day. Rannoch is literally on the other side of the galaxy. Even taking a constant eezo supply and having to discharge in the atmosphere of planets out of the equation, it would take you a quarter of a century to reach it. It's impossible."

"What is the status of Shield Fleet?"

"Relatively unharmed."

"Some of the greatest minds of our galaxy are on that fleet. We were able to create a god damn reaper gun. We have to be able to figure out a solution."

Hackett sighed, "Maybe. Here it is." He gestured to the door.


Tali sat in the war room with her shotgun on her lap. The pain only intensified since their crash. Shepard was dead. The reapers likely won. Her people are gone and the galaxy would die. There was nothing left for her. She shifted the shotgun and pointed it upwards. Tali rested her head over the barrel and sobbed heavily as her finger went around the trigger.

"I'm coming, Shepard," she said.

"Hello? Anyone there?" a voice called out.

Tali thought she was hearing things.

"Can anyone read me?"

She spun around and saw Shepard's hologram. "Shepard!" she screamed as she ran over to the QEC.

"Tali! Thank god you're alive."

"Shepard," she cried out. "I thought Harbinger killed you. Garrus forced me to retreat when the frontline was struck by that laser beam. Keelah, you're covered in bandages. What happened?"

"We won," he admitted sadly. "But at a heavy cost. Tali... The geth are dead."


"Destroying the reapers resulted in the geth's death as well since they have reaper code. It was part of the damn sacrifice the Catlyst needed. Is EDI...?"

"She's not with us anymore," Tali said solemnly.

"How's Joker taking it?"

"Not well."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm okay, but Shepard, the Normandy crash landed on some garden world. We don't know where we are. Some energy blast came after us while we were in FTL."

"The mass relays around the galaxy were destroyed to take out the reapers."

"They were- Oh, Keelah. All those people are trapped. My people are trapped. I'm going to be trapped on this planet and-"

"Tali!" Shepard interrupted. "Do you trust me?"

"What I- Of course I do. With all my heart."

"Then believe me when I say that I will find you. I will spend every waking moment looking for you. I will get you and your people back to Rannoch. How much food do you and Garrus have?"

"Most of our food is in tubes so we don't have to worry about it spoiling. If we ration it we probably have enough for several weeks."

"Alright. Tali I want you to give me pictures of the stars. We can use that to pin point where you are. I'm going to try and get the scientists to think of something. For the time being, Garrus is in charge. I will find you, you got that?"

"Yes," Tali said with more cheer in her voice.

"I love you."

"Keelah Se'lai."

Shepard turned but not before saying, "Don't lose hope. Oh, and tell Joker... I'm sorry."

Shepard's image blinked out. Tali rushed out of the war room and to the side entrance of the Normandy. Everyone was gathered around outside talking about what to do next. Ashley, Javik and Vega had just returned from their exploration.

"We couldn't find any signs of civilization," Ash said to the group.

"So we are stuck here," Javik said plainly.

"Not too bad of a place to be stuck," Vega said.

Javik sneered. "Right now the reapers are tearing apart the galactic fleet. They are probably destroyed by now and now they can harvest earth and the rest of the galaxy with little resistance. I thought the human, Shepard, would be able to defeat the reapers but apparently I'm wrong."

"The reapers were defeated," Tali announced to everyone when she left the Normandy's airlock.

Everyone looked up at Tali.

"I just talked to Shepard."

"Shepard's alive?" Garrus said.

"Shepard's alive!" Tali squealed as she hugged Liara.

Everyone else cheered.

"I knew the Commander wouldn't go down that easily," Ken said. "I bet he kicked those reapers right in the daddy-bags."

"Reapers are machines," Javik chided. "They do not have"—he grunted in disgust—"daddy-bags.'"

"It's a figure of speech," Ken said.

Javik shook his head in dismissal. "The reapers have been destroyed?"

"Yes," Tali said with cheer. "The Crucible went off and the energy waved killed every reaper. The war is over."

"So they're sending us a rescue team right?" Ashley asked.

Tali wringed her hands. "Not... right away."

"What? Why?"

"They don't know where we are. We need to get data on the stars above us. They can use that data to try and triangulate our position."

"We were in FTL for like a few minutes," Adams said. "Once they have the star data, it won't be any more than a hope and a skip to find us."

"But that still leaves the issue of the relays," Liara pointed out. "Without the relays, the galactic fleet is stuck in Sol."

"Shepard is going to try and find a way to get everyone home," Tali said. "He's going to gather all the scientists who created the Crucible and-"

"Spend the next several hundred years coming up with an alternative to mass effect," Javik finished.

"Do you always have to be so damn negative?" Vega asked. "Is hoping so wrong?"

"I concede to truth and reality. My hope was that the reapers would be destroyed. Now they have. The ghosts of the trillions dead can now rest. My mission is complete. You all should be proud and glad of what you all accomplished."

"All those people are stranded in Sol and we should be glad?" Ashley asked in anger.

"The lives of thousands ruined, but the reapers are dead. Yes, be glad. Now many will be born without having to fear the reapers. This galaxy has been given its future back."

"Shepard will find a way," Tali assured everyone.

"And how do you know?"

"Because he said he would."

"He is promising the impossible."

"Like defeating the collectors?" Garrus said. "The reapers? Bringing peace to the krogan and turians."

Javik was silenced. He waved his hand dismissively and walked off into the jungle to be alone.

Tali saw Joker sitting on a rock looking at the graves. She walked up next to him.

"Joker, I'm sorry about EDI."

"She just... died. I-I don't know why."

"Shepard... Shepard said that the Crucible destroyed all the reapers, but..."


"It also destroyed anything with reaper code. EDI and the geth included."

"What?" he yelled. Joker shot up and cringed. Getting to his feet so fast caused some minor fractures. "Shepard did this? He killed her?"

"It wasn't his fault. The galactic fleet would have been destroyed if he hadn't acted. I'm sorry, Joker. There wasn't another viable choice. I know you loved her."

"When I first came aboard the Normandy, I called her ship cancer."

"We all didn't have a high opinion of AIs, especially when the geth attacked. Shepard changed that."

"He does that."

"Do you really think he'll find us?"

"I know he will. We just need to hold on and hope."

"Hey, Tali, think you can give us a hand then?" Adams asked. "We could use your help to restore some more functionality to the Normandy."

"Sure." Tali turned to Joker. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah... Go ahead. I just need time."


Shepard followed behind Hackett as he led him to the conference room. The leadership of each of the fleets had many questions about what happened to the reapers and the relays. They approached the conference room and entered inside. Waiting there was Major Kirrahe, Primarch Victus, Wrex, Balak, Matriarch Lidanya, Samara, and Han'Gerrel. They all looked up in Shepard's direction when the doors opened. They saw the terrible shape Shepard was in.

"Goddess, Shepard," Samara gasped. "What happened to you?"

"Harbinger gave me a beating before I reached the beam to the Citadel," Shepard replied. "Though why are you here, Samara?"

"Most of the Asari's commanding officers were killed during the battle. I'm here as escort for Matriarch Lidanya."

"I should have known you wouldn't die, Shepard," Wrex interjected. "One hell of an explosion you made with the Citadel."

"I was hoping we could stay on topic for this meeting," Victus interrupted. "Yes, it is very good that Commander Shepard made it out alive-"

"Not that great," Balak muttered under his breath.

"Care to say that louder?" Wrex growled.

Balak stayed silent.

"Thought so."

"Like I said," Victus continued. "It's good that Commander Shepard made it out alive, but a lot happened at the end of the battle and we're hoping you would be able to answer our questions, Commander."

"Why did the geth suddenly died?" Han jumped in.

"What happened to the relay?" Lidanya asked right after.

"What was that energy wave?" Kirrahe followed up with.

"Peace, everyone," Samara said firmly. "Let the Commander explain."

"Go ahead, Commander," Hackett said.

"I took the beam up to the Citadel. The beam dropped me off inside a keeper tunnel. The tunnel led me to the control station of the Citadel. I met up with Anderson but we were taken control of by the Illusive Man. He became some sort of... husk creature that was able to control our movements. The Illusive Man tried to convince us that controlling the reapers was the only way to win. I... I persuaded him otherwise. He shot himself. Anderson died soon after from his injuries. I briefly passed out, but then I was awakened by the Catlyst, the Citadel's AI."

"The Citadel had an AI?" Victus said in surprise.

"Yes and it controlled the reapers. It told me that the Crucible changed it creating new options to decide the fate of the reapers. Of the galaxy. Unfortunately the energy that would transfer from the Citadel from any of the options would result in the destruction of the mass relays. The only reasonable option was to outright destroy the reapers. This didn't just destroy the reapers. It destroyed anything that used reaper tech. That meant the reapers, the geth for using reaper code to upgrade themselves and even EDI."

"So your Crucible has stranded us," Balak scoffed. "God job, human!"

"I was only given a few choices and trillions of lives were at stake!"

"If there was another reasonable option, I know the Commander would have taken it," Samara said. She glared at Balak. "A previous terrorist who attempted to end millions of lives has no right to judge."

"We can't dwell on the past," Shepard said. "We have to work together for a future." He pulled up a holographic representation of Shield fleet. "Shield fleet was relatively unharmed as the reapers backed away from the Citadel when we reached the beam. Within this fleet are some of the greatest minds in our galaxy. Together we were able to create a device that destroyed an entire race of sentient dreadnaughts. If we work together, we can figure out a solution to our current dilemma. We need an alternative to relay transit. We need to get our scientists to work as soon as possible."

"My people will provide any scientist or technician you'll need, Commander," Han said. "Our people are desperate to go home. If helping find a faster mode of FTL is the way, then we will do everything in our power to make that happen."

"I think we all will commit all our scientists towards finding a solution," Victus said. "But finding a viable FTL method may take a long while."

"We have no choice," Shepard said. "The quarians have a couple of liveships here, but they will not be sufficient to feed both their people and the turians. We need to hurry and find a solution. We have reaper corpses littered all over earth and its atmosphere. We might be able to discover something from them."

"We already have scientists searching the remains," Hackett said. "But they could use the help."

"I also would like to lead a team to the Mars archives," Shepard said.

"Why there?"

"We discovered the blueprints to the Crucible plans there," he stated. "It's possible that the protheans may had plans or ideas at the archives. It's a long shot, but-"

"No need to explain. I'll try to get you a team. For now this meeting is adjourned."


Next Day...

Shepard sat in the QEC room waiting for communication from the Normandy. He stood looking out of the nearby window and saw the massive fleet that sat in space. There were easily thousands of ships. Debris from the battle, both reaper and not, drifted around.

"So here you are!" a voice yelled out.

Shepard spun around and saw Kasumi standing in the doorway.


"In the flesh. Along with others." She walked in. Kasumi was followed by Jacob, Miranda, Zaeed and Jack.

"You all made it out..."

"Sure did, but THAT was one hell of a fight," Zaeed said. "Everything from now on will pale in comparison. One of the few times where I wasn't the only one who made it out alive."

"We wanted to see how you're doing," Miranda said. "We heard you were on the Citadel when it blew up."

"Still looks like you were in that explosion," Jack joked. "You look like hell."

"I have no idea how I escaped that explosion," Shepard said. "When I blew up the power conduit, the explosion knocked me out. I don't know how I made it back to earth."

"At least you made it out," Jacob said. "We still have to go for drinks."

"I wish I could, Jacob, I really do, but the destruction of the mass relays has left this galaxy in turmoil. I'm going to the mars archives with some tech to see if the protheans had any back-up plans. Every scientist from Shield is going to be dissecting the reaper corpses and see if they can reverse engineer their tech for better drive cores."

"Yeah, Brynn told me. Hell of a thing. One mission ends only to have another open up. The news still hasn't set in for everyone. They're still celebrating the defeat of the reapers."

"Sadly there are going to be some big issues once the truth does set in," Lawson said. "There will be panic that hundreds of thousands of non-humans who will need to stay on earth."

"We'll figure something out," Shepard said.

"I know that if anyone can it's you, Shep," Kasumi said.

"Well, thank you all for checking on me. Means a lot. Though I think you all should go out and celebrate. After everything you've all been through, you deserve it."

"You sure, Commander?" Jacob asked.

"That's an order."

"I'm still holding you to those drinks." He said as he left.

"Well, I'm treating the kids to some drinks," Jack said. "The little shits actually held up their barriers." She left the room.

"Don't need to tell you what I'm doing," Zaeed declared as he left.

"You sure, you'll be fine?" Miranda asked.

"I apparently survived the Citadel blowing up," he said. "And my girlfriend is just a small FTL jump from here. Yeah, I'll be fine."

"I heard some rumours that you're leading a team to the mars archives."

"It's true."

"Mind if I come?" Kasumi asked. "I've never been to mars."

"I don't see why not. Hackett wants to meet with me after Tali checks in. He has the scientist who will be joining me."

"Any idea what you're looking for?" Miranda asked.

"Grasping straws," Shepard replied. "The mars archives is where we learned about the Crucible. There might be something more."

"I wish you luck, Commander. I'm going to go back to Oriana. She's helping in a hospital in Vancouver."

"See you later, Miranda."

Miranda nodded and walked out.

"And then there were two," Kasumi said.

"Shepard?" Tali's hologram appeared.

"Tali, how are you holding up?" Shepard asked.

"I'm okay," Tali replied. "Knowing you're looking for us is helping boost morale."

"Did you get the data?"

"I did, I'm transferring it to you now," She replied.

Shepard's omni-tool flashed acknowledging that it received the data.

"I'll send this to be analyzed and we'll be able to find you in no time," Shepard assured her. "For the time being, I'm heading a team with Kasumi to the mars archives."

"Why there?"

"Looking for anything the protheans might have left behind. I'd ask Javic, but he didn't know much about the Crucible, so I doubt he'd know about any project on mars. How's Joker doing?"

"He's... better. He's still upset, but he understands why you did what you did."

"I hope he can forgive me."

"I think he will. How are my people doing?"

"They're doing okay. The liveships are unharmed, and they're doing stock of how much food they have and what they can grow. We're looking to expand it to take care of the turians."

"Good, good..."

"We'll fix this, Tali."

"I believe you."

"I'll talk to you soon."

"Don't be too long. It's too quiet in your cabin without you there."

"Once I find you, I'll rectify that."


"Too much information," Kasumi giggled.

"Oh, Kasumi! I didn't know you were there."

"Hey, Tali. It's good to see my hood sister. Been far too long. Don't you worry. With Shepard's determination, my tech skills and that other guy, we'll have this whole situation in the past. We have a lot of catching up to do."

"Right. Good luck to the two of you. We'll be waiting for you to pick us up."

"We'll arrive in style for you."

"We'll talk soon, Tali," Shepard said.

"I look forward to it," she said before her hologram blinked out.

"Come on," he urged Kasumi. "Hackett's waiting with our scientist."

"Right behind you, Shep."