**I've been a fan of the Mass Effect series for a long time now, and feel especially drawn to Commander Shepard. After I finished the third game installment I, like many of you, felt bereft. The following story has resulted from my attempts to give myself a little closure; I also offer my rendition of the relationship between Shepard and Garrus Vakarian. I fully admit this story is very stream-of-consciousness; I am a first time submitter, so constructive reviews and criticisms are welcome.
All characters, scenery, and original plot-lines are the sole property of BioWare. I'm just a fan with an itch. **
Crumpled, burning, the scaly skin between his shoulders flaking and smoking upwards in the strange netherlight, he watched Shepard stumble towards the Reaper beam.
A flash of red, a slash of sound, as shrieking husks fell before her spasming arm.
Blackness blossomed in the center of his vision, and he fell.
The sweetness of his memories was a warm sea in which he swam. He had brought her human wine, a non sequitur clutched carefully in three talons. The cool glass tapped and scraped against the roughness of his palms as he walked. He carried it in front of him like a flag, his elbow joint stiff in front of him.
He recalled her face tilting towards him as the doors to her cabin hissed open, her uncanny eyes shifting, warming at his approach. He felt a tingle across his fringe at the quirk of her mouth, a gentle upward twitch that had always meant, My friend. Glad to see you.
In their civvies, there, he had felt the extent of her alienness wash over him. Her naked, larval skin, the strange depthlessness of her voice, the pad of her odd pale feet against the deck, clickless and whispery. The brush of her hair, that dead fringe at once springy and lifeless, drawn fine like the secretions of arachnids, hanging, disconcerting. When he reached to brush it, it clung to his talons before twitching away. It felt light as air.
If she were of his own kind, he would praise the strength of her body, the roll of her hips. He would shake out his fringe and display, blue blood rushing to his extremities to to turn him a gorgeous mauve. He would scrape her until she scarred, roar, overwhelm her until she lay prostate and filled; they would brood together and release in a familiar battle rhythm.
But Shepard was not Turian. She was Other. She ghosted across the killing fields like an echo of death. What did that ghoulish drell call her? Siha. Yes. Angel of War. The angel stood before him, arms akimbo. Her oddly jointed hands rested on the edges of her pelvis. She was at once ethereal and extremely animal; he felt the coppery pulse of blood beneath her membraneous skin, fierce and forceful as a desert wind. Her breath, bitter and earthy, washed across him as they stood together. He fidgeted uncontrollably.
All at once she pressed her mobile mouth against his scarred right mandible. The heat of her exhalations was sudden and overwhelming. He reached out, his claws tacking into the fabric at her waist, and gripped. Her own cool, spidery phalanges brushed the skin above his hips, slid, then rubbed in maddening circles until he moaned into her neck. Armored clothing crashed to the floor. He scraped his hands down her body until red tracks rose on her skin. In the climate controlled room, her red hair fluttered against his chest, tickling him where rougher sensations couldn't reach.
"Sweetheart… oh sweet Jesus…!" she gasped as the pads of his fingers brushed against her clavicles, her bosom, the apex of her sex. She pushed him down and anchored him in the sheets, sliding upwards along his hips, until he felt the hottest part of her against his own jutting need. "Oh, Shepard," he sighed, as he pushed into her. A sweet twitching sleeve surrounded him, holding, making way, and he began to move there in her darkness, seeking the join.
He woke up in the shaking Mako to a maelstrom of sound and fury. The overheat sensors blared against his battered eardrums, resonated in his head until he thought he would split in two. The scaly skin down his left side tingled with phantom nerves. He craned to see how badly he was burned; jammed up against him in the makeshift stretcher was a bloody and motionless T'Soni. At his right hip was an Alliance stranger, at the helm Commander Alenko driving them towards the improvised docks through smoke and Reaper fire. "Shepard!" Garrus screamed. "Where's SHEPARD!"
"M.I.A.!" bellowed Alenko from the helm. "Couldn't find her in the debris!"
"SHE WENT INTO THE BEAM!" Garrus roared. "WE HAVE TO GO BACK!"
"Joker!" cried Alenko to his headset. "We're coming in! WE'RE COMING IN, JOKER!"
"NO! No, damnit…" As Garrus tried to lift his head, he felt fire shoot up his shoulders and down his burned arm. He fell back, weak as a fledgling, trembling with rage.
"We'll win this," he'd panted against her shoulder blades. "We won't go down now… we can't…" As he pumped their hips together a low, jagged keen resonated up from under her rib cage, her lungs mirroring his lungs, her back to his plated front, dewy and slick. She threw her head back against his neck with a cry and a gasp, her hands twisting back to grasp his forearms and squeeze. His talons dug into her iliac crest, drawing pinpoints of fragrant hemoglobin, as she melted around him.
The final battle was hours away and they couldn't get enough to last. They drove themselves up again and again, to the point of pain. Even as he shuddered and growled into her, she was twisting in his grasp to face him, heedless of the bloody ellipses his claws left in her skin. The need to bite her, mark her, rose up in him till his bright eyes clouded over.
"Put your teeth on me, Shepard," he ground out. "Rip me, bleed me, make me feel..!" Straddling him, she rose up on her knees and put her lips to the tender scales between shoulder and spine. In a flash of black ecstasy he felt her bite hard, severing the skin, and suck. He lifted her tender wrist to his mouth and sank his fangs down, down into the vein. She cried out, her teeth still in him, and they ground together like that, their mutual pain aflame, until they both came again.
The Normandy had excellent gravity replicators, but he felt the shuddering roll of the ship beneath them as Joker fought their way up out of Earth's atmosphere. The metal gurneys of med-bay hummed with the vibrations of battle. Dr. Chakwas hovered over him, applying medigel to his wounds. She found the livid mark on his neck and reached for a swab, but his three-fingered hand snaked out and pinned her wrist to the tray. "Not that one, Doctor," he said gently. "…Leave… that one." The steel-haired human laid her other hand on top of his, then moved away.
Slowly Garrus lifted his battered torso to a sitting position. He looked bleakly around him. Bodies littered the gurneys around him, in various states of emergency. At the back, a blanket covered a still form, a blue foot hanging lifeless over the edge. To his right lay Liara, breathing shallowly, so…. Samara. Loss seeped into his mind.
"Doctor," he said in a low voice, "I have to get to the Citadel. Shepard's up there, and she's alone."
Chakwas gave him a measured look, then pulled up video on the biggest of her screens. The Citadel wavered in and out of focus, its arms still drawn and sealed. The doctor cleared her throat. "As you can see, Garrus, the Citadel is still closed. If Shepard's alive in there, well… she's on her own." She turned bleary eyes on the room full of the dead and injured, and added softly, "God help us all."
Garrus clawed and dragged his way down to the Armory, half-mad and going on full. Cortez sat by the battered shuttle, tinkering. He appeared to be missing a foot.
"I'm going to need that now, Cortez," said Garrus, then paused. "Can she still fly?" Cortez peered up and blinked at him slowly, as if underwater. "Garrus… what?"
Behind them both, Commander Alenko coughed, causing Garrus's tattered fringe to flare. "Garrus, would you like to explain what you're doing?"
"Going to get Shepard."
"Christ. Doctor Chakwas said you were having problems, but she didn't tell me you'd fucking lost it." Alenko moved towards him grimly, hands out to grab.
Garrus sidled back towards the shuttle, dragging his burnt side. "No offense, Kaidan, but I'm not going to leave the Commander up there to die."
Alenko paused. "Is that what you think we're doing? Ah hell, Garrus." Tears, that singular human excretion, threatened in Alenko's eyes. "Fuck, you think I don't feel what you feel? She was the best of us! We all want to go after her! But we can't. We have to get our shit together and save what she's left us!" He shook his dark head briskly, then resumed moving towards Garrus. "So help me, I'm going to put you back in med-bay before you get more of us killed. I'm sorry."
With a sense of terrible purpose, Garrus reached back for his gun, but before he could unclip it Cortez gave a low moan.
"Commander, Vakarian…. oh, look. Oh, oh, look…!"
On the armory screen Normandy's forward visuals were displayed. All around them Reaper ships hung ominous, gunfire still blooming in the blackness. But the Reapers were still. Slowly the red beams ceased, the dreadnoughts' demonic glow fading out. And in the distance, almost too slowly to perceive, the sealed wings of the Citadel began to open.
"What's happening, Commander?" asked Cortez anxiously. "Why aren't they firing? Why aren't WE firing?" The vacuum of space, silent and suddenly still, threw his question back at them.
"I think she's done it," breathed Alenko. "I can't… I can hardly… the Crucible! It's moving!"
Massive wings opened like flower petals, and the universe's last great defense moved ponderously into place. Every living creature seemed to hold its breath: one minute. Two. Alenko and Cortez stared into the vid-screen as if into the face of God, the glow of the visuals lighting up the tired shadows in their faces. Slowly, dreamlike, a shimmering light began to wash through the black Reaper ships.
"She's stopping them!" hitched Cortez. "She's STOPPING THE REAPERS!"
Garrus looked at their backs, heaved in a breath, and said, "Well, fuck this noise. I'm going after her." He resumed his painful, scraping motion towards the charred shuttle.
"Wait!" said Alenko from behind him. "I'm coming with you!"
Agony. Each choking, gasping breath tore flesh from her trachea and burned in her crackling lungs. Each lunge for air shook her burnt husk of a body, cracking the remnants of her lips, tearing the crisp skin over her sternum. If there was skin left. The beam. The damned beam. Thrown clear, gasping out her last breath, her mind looped the same thought, over and over… Can't see… is it over yet? …Over yet?
From a million miles away, the console at the helm of the dying Citadel chittered. "Ssss…..pard. Shep…rd. ….Here?"
God, she thought, meaninglessly. God.
"Coming….. you, Shepard. Come…. get…."
Is it over? she thought, again. Can it finally be over? Her mind ticked down, cooling, and she dissolved into the darkness.
Alenko vomited neatly to the side of the reeking piles of human remains. Even ill, he moved more quickly than Garrus, who was struggling to pull his wounded weight forward. Their metal boots slid on the gore-slicked floor as they rushed forward, desperately seeking a working elevator, a stair, anything in this hellish reconfiguration of a once-beloved port of storm. They found the black hall at last, piling rubble across the broken flooring till they could climb across into the glowing light of the Citadel tower. Anderson's body met them. He sat upright in a pool of cooling blood, his eyes half closed in death.
Garrus saw the shadow of her body first, a dark hole against the shimmering beam at the other end of the platform. With an impossible exertion of force, he broke into a shambling run. Alenko followed behind.
The body before them was burnt nearly black. No breath issued from its nearly lipless mouth. Shocked tears slipped down Alenko's face, but Garrus pressed his palm against her heart.
"Give me the goddamned medigel!" he cried. He poured it out over her body like water, spreading it with the pads of his fingers, taking his own hands away when he realized what his claws might do. He poured it into her mouth, then leaned in to kiss it into her throat. No sign of life met him there.
"Give her your breath! Breathe into her!" he barked, and the dark headed human complied. Garrus picked the still-hot remains of Shepard's N-7 armor off, shocked to find patches of almost healthy skin beneath. "Come on, Shepard. Come on, love, breathe."
An eternity slipped by. And then. "…Gr…s…?" Shepard managed, voiceless, air against teeth.
"Oh, fuck," gasped Alenko. "Oh, fuck."
"I'm here, lover," said Garrus into her sightless face. With the soft insides of his fingers he touched an unburnt patch below her knee. She twitched, minutely. In his head he heard her laugh. "Gonna take you home now. You deserve a rest."
Her throat worked. "….Go to h…ll…."
"Already there, baby. Followed you down."