Chapter 4: The Inevitable

Shepard was getting restless. She wasn't used to this. Wasn't used to staying in one place and not having something to do. It had been bad during her forced incarceration, but this was worse. At least when the Alliance had grounded her and taken away the Normandy, they'd also restricted her movements. She hadn't been active because she hadn't been allowed to be active.

This was totally different.

Peace had made her obsolete. Now there wasn't really anything that she could do. All she had ever been was a soldier. Before that, she'd been nothing but a street urchin. A petty thief or, when the situation called for it, a common thug. Anderson had changed that. It was Anderson that had taken her off the street and made her into a damned fine soldier.

But she doubted she could fall back on the life of crime she'd once had. She was too disciplined for that now. Too law-abiding. Too used to authority and obeying orders. That, and it was a pretty pathetic way to go. From commanding the Alliance's most advanced frigate to pickpocketing unsuspecting victims on the street was quite the fall from grace.

All the same, she knew she had to get out of there soon. Liara seemed pleased that she was there, but she was still intruding. She didn't want to be an imposition. She didn't want to make Liara regret getting her out of the freezer.

Maybe she could join the police or something. At least she'd be putting her skills to good use. Though after the freedom of working as a Spectre, the red tape of conventional law enforcement didn't really appeal to her either. How many hours had she spent listening to Garrus lament over the bureaucracy and political BS that came with being a cop?

She was all for following the law and all for keeping the peace. But sometimes that wasn't enough. Sometimes a little creativity was required to make delinquents fall in. She'd seen it dozens of times. Sometimes a punch to the gut or a gun to the head was necessary to get shit done. It wasn't her preferred modus operandi and she usually made attempts at negotiation first, but sometimes that's just the way it was.

She doubted the local police force agreed with the sentiment though.

She sighed again, restless. She'd stayed within the confines of Liara's rather expansive residence on the coast since she'd been freed. If the Alliance was out to reclaim their missing toy, it wouldn't have done to have her walking around in public. But since she'd been reawakened, Liara hadn't informed her of any activity on that front. The couple times she'd asked, the Asari had told her that it seemed like they had gotten away with it without the Alliance figuring it out.

So a little walk wouldn't hurt.

Besides, she had her magnificent fake identification cards with her. If anyone asked her if she was Commander Shepard, she denied the charge and brought out Alice Marler's id's. Knowing Liara, they would likely hold up to even the most thorough of inspections.

Making up her mind, she headed for the door, shrugging into one of Liara's warm winter jackets and a pair of boots. It was kind of convenient that they were basically the same size. It was also convenient that she was home alone right now.

Liara had 'gone to work'. Apparently she didn't run the Shadow Broker's network from her home. It worked for her. She had no idea where the Turian was, but it's not like he would have informed her as to why he was leaving the house. All she knew was that he was gone. That she was home alone and it was as good a time as any to sneak out and have a look at what peace looked like up close.

It felt like an age since she'd even considered the prospect. Sure places like the Citadel and Illium had seemed peaceful when she'd visited. But those had only been oasis's in an otherwise turbulent and war-torn galaxy. It had never really been true peace.

She left the house, stuffing her hands in her pockets as she made her way up the street towards a slightly busier road. It was snowing slightly, fluffy wet flakes falling and landing in her hair, though they melted as soon as they came into contact with anything, leaving the sidewalk wet and grey.

She breathed in deeply, smelling the fresh air from the ocean only a couple dozen meters away. There was just something about Earth's atmosphere that she would never be able to forget. Colonies and other planets just weren't the same, and no artificial environmental system could replicate it. She'd tried.

Even EDI hadn't been able to get it right and had taken it as a shortcoming on her part. Shepard had just told the AI that that's what it was like to be human and shrugged. It was a life lesson. Some things were just beyond our capabilities.

She frowned, wondering about the AI. She should have asked Liara about her. What had ever happened to EDI? She'd heard that the Normandy had crashed. That even Joker's impressive piloting skills hadn't been able to save it. Had EDI died with the ship? Or had she transferred the entirety of her programs into the mobile platform she'd taken over? Would she have even have had the time to do that?

She hadn't gotten the opportunity to ask about Joker either. Or Hackett. Or any of her old Cerberus crew members. After she'd brought up the Krogan, Liara had made it clear that she didn't really want to take a trip down memory lane about all of their dead friends and had promptly changed the subject.

She was a sucker for punishment, but she couldn't really blame Liara for not wanting to dwell on the loss of their old friends. Liara would eventually lose everyone except for other Asari. No one else had the longevity of the Asari. Liara would bury countless friends. Countless lovers. She'd bury Septim and be forced to move on.

The idea of living for an age had seemed exciting when she'd first met Liara – enviable even. But now that she knew what it was like to have outlived almost everyone she'd ever cared about, it was more pitiable than anything.

She sighed, crossing the street and making her way into a convenience store on the corner. Part of her new identity had been new bank accounts which Liara had ensured were stocked with 'average human earnings'. Whatever the hell that meant. She took it to mean that she wasn't a millionaire but that she'd at least be able to buy herself a drink. And possibly some news feeds. You know, to catch up on current events.

She entered the store, scuffing her wet boots across the rug by the door as she came in before heading directly towards the hot beverages station. But she was only halfway to her station when the news vid playing above the counter stopped her in her tracks, panning across the burning wreckage of a town.

"Scattered reports say that the Krogan militia entered the small town of Choushuidun in China's north some time between eight and ten in the evening last night, slaughtering anyone in their path. Only a few dozen of the eight hundred residents managed to escape the carnage alive. Local security footage managed to capture a recording of the insurgence. Be warned that the images are graphic and could be disturbing to some viewers." The news anchor said, before the image of the wreckage was replaced with a handful of Krogan marching down the street with their guns drawn, firing at anything that moved. There was a fire in the background and a pair of humans trying to flee down the street. The Krogan shot them down with businesslike efficiency.

She stared at the footage uncomprehendingly for a moment before another Krogan joined the group, though this one was familiar. She'd have known that ugly mug anywhere. It was Wrex, right down to the three long gouges taken out of his face. Wrex gave the other Krogan some orders, pointing towards something off screen.

"This is the third attack on settlements in northern China in the last week. Authorities are aware of the Krogan in the area though seem to be unable to put a halt to the Krogan advance. Residents in nearby towns have been urged to evacuate. They've also been urged to take their most useful items with them. The Krogan leave nothing but destruction in their wake – no food, no shelter and even water sources are poisoned to ensure that no one can survive behind their front line. This brutal scorched earth policy has left a wake of casualties numbering in the tens of thousands."

Wrex was killing her people.

Her hands hung loosely at her sides for another moment before curling into tight, angry fists.

That son of a bitch Wrex was killing her people! And Liara hadn't told her! There was no way Liara didn't know about this. That she'd known that Wrex has started a war on humans and hadn't told her – even when she'd directly asked about him – was no better than a lie.

She turned on her heel, storming out of the convenience store and back to the house where she kicked off her boots and shrugged out of her coat, leaving them in a wet mess on the floor by the door. She then proceeded to Liara's home office and bypassed the lock – EDI had taught her a few things during their downtime between missions and the lessons had come in handy.

The office was dark and silent and clean. There were no loose data pads scattered across the desk along with artifacts she'd dug up somewhere or an academic journal that she'd just had to read like her office in the first Normandy. It also lacked the plethora of monitors and cables strewn across the place like her office in the second Normandy.

Instead there was a single desk, the top smooth and black, along with a chair. There was only a single console, so it was easy for her to figure out where to go. EDI's lessons were once again put to good use as she sat down in the leather chair at the desk and began hacking the system.

Liara was brilliant, but she was also someone who lived for centuries. Time passed differently for her and she hadn't changed that much. Plus, EDI had had her break into the Shadow Broker's Network as practice. Well, actually she'd thought the AI had been using the opportunity to brag a bit about the security of her own network, but the lesson had still been illuminating.

As it was, it took her less than fifteen minutes to break through Liara's security and gain access to the Shadow Broker's network. When she did, she almost wished she hadn't. The reports were worse than she'd feared. This had been going on for years already. The Krogan uprising had only been particularly newsworthy today because their efforts had picked up momentum.

She couldn't believe Wrex would do this. Couldn't believe that after all of those speeches about creating a new future for the Krogan, he turned around and made war on her people instead.

She frowned and opened a file at random. It was coded as Alliance Project-1474R05-2 and was mostly interesting because it was the only Alliance report Liara had received in recent history. She felt sick a few minutes of scrolling through it later. It was a transcription in which G. Raleigh proposed her being thawed out and put to use against the Krogan. It was all very sterile and inhumane, as though she were an inanimate object. Just a weapon, instead of a person they had invested billions of credits in to bring back to life.

That seemed like child's play compared to the next record she accessed. One from last night that had been archived.

"Wrex, I'll make this quick. Please withdraw your forces back within the prescribed Krogan boundary and cease all hostilities."

Shepard's blood chilled. That was Liara's voice. She'd know it anywhere.

"I can no longer support your war efforts."

She'd lied. Liara had lied right to her face. But this was so much worse than not keeping in contact with the Krogan. She had been actively supporting the Krogan insurrection. Liara had supported Wrex in the slaughter of thousands of innocent humans.

These were supposed to have been her friends. These were the people she had trusted to the ends of the galaxy. These were the people who had followed her into hell when the Reapers had invaded. These were the people she had put her faith in to help her unite the galaxy, and now they were working against everything she had ever worked for.

She was disappointed in Wrex. But Liara's actions were by far the more offensive. She had still loved Liara as strongly as though a century hadn't passed – which, to her, of course it hadn't passed – but these actions were all too indicative that Liara had changed her mind.

And she could read Liara's thoughts like a book. End the conflict quickly so Shepard doesn't get involved. Cut dies and leave the Krogan out to dry before Shepard finds out what I've done. And in the meanwhile, she'd been busy keeping her distracted. First with the daughter she'd never known she'd had, then with her new Turian lover.

How long had Liara thought she'd have been content to just sit here cut off from the rest of the world?

She had to leave. This was it. She was done. She couldn't just sit here while innocents died due to the actions of people she had once called friends. She was still Alliance. She was still a marine and damned fine soldier.

She could make a difference.

Marcos Vega was tired and jetlagged and not looking forward to another god damned meeting with Admiral Raleigh. The man was always . . . meddling. And then he was never pleased with the results. Well, no fucking wonder. Give him a job and he'd do it, but give him enough god damned resources to accomplish his objective and keep the Admiral's twitchy little fingers out of the operation.

He sighed heavily, massaging his forehead to sooth his headache away. He'd lost another two men last night. God damned Krogan. Bad enough that they were already hulking masses of muscles and destruction, but when you shot them they could just regenerate. It was a losing battle.

An then, of course, he had to deal with the Admiral. He'd barely managed to drag himself back to his base camp before the Admiral was calling for him. Demanding that he return to Vancouver to answer to why the Admiral's brilliant plan hadn't gone through.

Obviously it had to be his fault. Because obviously the Admiral was never wrong.

He scowled, his mood souring further. He was tired of losing his men. Tired of having to come back to face down an Admiral who had his head shoved so far up his ass he couldn't even see the light of day. A man who was more interested in power than he was in saving lives.

That wasn't what Marcos had signed on for. And it for damn sure wasn't what his grandfather had stood for. It was embarrassing that Raleigh shared the same rank as his grandfather.

"I've had enough with your attitude. Now, you're going to let me speak with Admiral Raleigh, or I'm going to jump over this counter and break your face." A disgruntled voice snarled, drawing his attention away from his own dilemma.

It only took a glance at the reception desk to figure that the girl probably deserved the treatment. Ensign Holly Labaroux was a notorious bitch. All the same, he'd probably get in shit if the girl was assaulted while he just watched on from the sidelines.

"Is there a problem here?" He asked. Yes, it was cliche, but it worked.

The disgruntled visitor turned to level a glare at him from a face the entire world knew. It was probably the best Commander Shepard impersonator he'd ever seen. Not that he considered himself an expert on the subject, but he'd seen a bunch of old holos of her that his grandfather had had and this one looked pretty realistic.

"No. There's no problem." She said, eyes roving over him critically, as though weighing her odds in a fight. Now, he was no hulk, but he was still pretty sure he could take down this five foot nine slip of a woman. So it bothered him when she dismissed him and turned her attention back to Holly behind the counter as though he were no more dangerous than a puppy.

"Listen, the sooner you send me on my way to the Admiral, the sooner I'll be out of your face." The impersonator bargained.

"I can't do that. Admiral Raleigh has a prior appointment. He's a busy man and he doesn't have any room in his schedule. I've said all of this before." Holly snapped.

"You also said that even if he were free you wouldn't let a disrespectful, impersonating freak like me in to see him." The Shepard impersonator growled.

Holly blushed. Apparently she'd muttered that just a little bit too loudly. Though it wasn't the first time she'd been caught at muttering under her breath or whispering to Ensign Petrikov who usually worked the front desk with her. He couldn't count how many times he'd overheard the two girls running a quiet commentary about the most desirable men in the foyer. He was both proud and embarrassed to know that he'd rated as a five on their scale.

"That's not -" Ensign Labaroux sputtered, attempting to recover.

And that's when a completely wicked idea came to him.

"Hey." He interrupted again, earning another glare from the impersonator.

"I said we're fine here." She snapped.

"Well, I'm Admiral Raleigh's appointment, so do you want to come in with me or not?" He growled back.

Somehow, the idea of siccing an irate Commander Shepard impersonator on the Admiral was too good of an opportunity to pass up. He'd catch hell for it later, but it would probably be worth it in the end. He could always play dumb and say that the woman had told him she had an appointment with the Admiral and that he'd only offered to show her the way to his office.

She froze, snapping her mouth shut on what would no doubt have been another disgruntled retort and reined in her glare. "Yes, thank you." She said politely.

"Commander Vega, Alliance Navy." He introduced, offering his hand to shake while he ignored Ensign Labaroux's scandalized expression.

She surprised him by snapping a textbook salute before shaking his hand. "Jane Shepard." She said. Her handshake was firm and unlike what you'd expect for a woman, but then if she got off on pretending to be Commander Shepard, the strength of her handshake was hardly the most worrying thing about her.

She fell into step beside him as he made his way further into the base, down busy halls as they garnered the attention of pretty much everyone they passed. He couldn't wait to see Raleigh's face when he brought her in. He wasn't looking as forward to getting reamed out though.

"You know, that's probably the most realistic Shepard impersonation I've seen." He said for the sake of making conversation.

"You seen a lot of them?" She asked, more curious than defensive.

He shrugged. "A few."

She shook her head, as though she couldn't believe it.

"There much money in it?"

"In what?" She asked.

"Impersonating her. You know, birthday parties, stags, and the like?"

She actually faltered a step and his hid his smirk at the shocked expression on her face. Okay, so she probably wasn't the kind of Shepard you could get to jump out of a cake at your buddy's birthday.

"No." She growled firmly.

He gave up on trying to converse with her after that and rode the elevator up to Raleigh's office in silence. Sherry, the Admiral's receptionist, gave him a strange look as they came in, but she knew him and that was apparently enough to vouch for the impersonator. She waved them on through to the inner office.

"Admiral Raleigh." He said as he came into the office, snapping to attention. The old man had obviously once been in good shape, but years of sitting in a cushy office instead of hauling ass on the field had turn the man soft. Add to that the full head of grey hair and he looked like someone grandpa – which he probably was.

"Commander -" The Admiral began, his tone already evidently displeased, but he cut off when his gaze landed on the impersonator.

Marcos had to bite his tongue to keep in the snicker at the simultaneously confused and angry expression that crossed the man's face. But it was nothing compared to a moment later when the woman spoke.

"So you're the asshole who proposed setting me out to thaw." She said, pointing an accusatory finger at him. "What was the exact quote . . . ah, 'an asset we're just sitting on for the sake of an eventuality that may never come to pass while our soldiers uselessly throw their lives away against an enemy they can't beat'. That was it, wasn't it?"

"Where did you get that information?" The Admiral blustered angrily.

"The Shadow Broker." The woman growled. And suddenly this became less of a joke. He had no idea what the hell was going on, but it was obviously enough to make the Admiral sweat – which hadn't been his intention. "A few days after I was thawed out."

"That's . . . that's impossible. We would have known if . . ."

Whatever it was they would have known was never uttered because the Admiral was already scanning the impersonator with his omni-tool. "Impossible." The man muttered again before turning away from them and contacting someone via his omni-tool.

"Peterson! Check on subject 1474R05-2."

There was an annoyed sigh from the man on the other end of the transmission who patiently went along with the command. "What am I looking for, Admiral?"

"It's there?" Raleigh asked, sounding cautious.

"Yes, of course it's here." Peterson said.

"Open it."

"Sir, we still haven't received the proper authorization to -"

"Just open it, Peterson!" Raleigh snapped. "Do as I say or I'll make sure the only job you'll be able to get is as a high school biology teacher."

There was a long pause on the other end of the transmission before the man, who it seemed was a scientist of some kind, sighed. "Yes, sir."

Marcos had no idea what the hell was going on, but it had something to do with secret Alliance science project and this Shepard impersonator. She was obviously pissed off about it, though if she really were an escaped test subject from some top secret Alliance experiment, why would she have come running into an Alliance base? He sidled closer to the Admiral, putting himself between her and his commanding officer.

Whatever she was planning, it probably wasn't good.

There was a startled gasp from the other end of the transmission a few minutes later. "She's gone, Sir! Commander Shepard is gone!"

"She's standing in my office." The Admiral said grimly, cutting off the transmission.

Wait. What? Huh?

They didn't actually think that this woman was the real Commander Shepard, did they?

"I want some God damned answers." The woman growled, causing the Admiral to swallow nervously.

"As you wish, Commander." Raleigh said.

"How did records of the Lazarus Project fall into Alliance hands?" She demanded.

Marcos knew about the Lazarus Project. Everyone knew about the Lazarus Project. Cerberus spent billions of credits reviving Commander Shepard to fight the Reapers. Today, it was widely acknowledged that while the project had been undoubtedly unethical, it was also probably the thing that had saved the galaxy from total destruction.

Judging from this conversation, it was beginning to sound a lot like they'd done the same thing to her again. That this really was the infamous Commander Shepard in the flesh. And he'd asked her if she jumped out of cakes. . . Oh, he was never going to live that down.

"We don't know. We assume that the Illusive Man planted the information in our systems moments before you destroyed his base." Admiral Raleigh said.

"Impossible." The woman said immediately. "The Illusive Man was too far gone at the end to do anything against the Reapers. He'd never have passed on information that would revive me."

"Well, Miranda Lawson confirmed that the information passed on to the Alliance was the authentic Lazarus Project notes. Someone in Cerberus seemed to have wanted you to survive the Reaper invasion."

"Miranda was involved?" She demanded.

Admiral Raleigh nodded, looking acutely uncomfortable. "Miranda Lawson went rogue in the final stages and tried to terminate the project."

"Of course she did." Shepard sighed. "You probably didn't tell her you intended to keep me in the freezer until then. Better to be dead than stuck in limbo. What happened to Miranda?"

"She was executed for treason."

She sighed, bowing her head for a moment. "Too much to hope that Miss Perfect would be able to tough it out long enough to meet again."

"Commander . . ."

"Who proposed putting the Lazarus Project into action again?" She asked, then shook her head. "No, I guess it doesn't matter now. They're probably already dead. What happened to Admiral Hackett? Did Anderson make it out of the Citadel?"

"Admiral Hackett died of a heart attack three years after the invasion. Admiral Anderson died in action. His body was found close to yours." Admiral Raleigh answered.

Marcos wasn't sure if he should plug his ears or not. In his experience, knowing too much was often as dangerous as not knowing enough. Part of him wanted to excuse himself and leave, the other part was far too enthralled with the thought of this actually being Commander Shepard. She was talking about prolific war heroes like Admiral Hackett and Admiral Anderson as though it had only been days since she'd last seen them, instead of decades.

He'd grown up on stories about Shepard. His grandfather had been only too pleased to regale him with stories of travelling all over the galaxy with the infamous Commander Shepard and even Admiral Alenko had caved a couple times and told stories about going after Saren. And yet here she was, the greatest hero in human history, standing in Admiral Raleigh's office looking halfway between breaking down and punching some one.

"I assume the Alliance gave Anderson a proper burial instead of sticking him in the deep freezer next to me?" She asked.

"Yes. You were the only subject the Alliance revived." Raleigh agreed.

Shepard sighed heavily, shoulders slumping for a moment before she composed herself and saluted to the man. "Sir, I'd like to apply for reinstatement."

For a moment he thought the Admiral would sag in relief, but he composed himself enough to return the salute. "You do?"

"Yeah. I'm not exactly thrilled with the Alliance's actions, but since I've already been rebuilt and revived, I'm not going to let innocent people die when I can stop it. I hear you have some Krogan heads that need smashed together. And I've got a little score to settle with them myself." She explained.

"We would be honored to have you serve with us, Commander." The Admiral said. "As luck would have it, the man who brought you here is leading the Alliance's defence against the Krogan."

"If he's supposed to be leading the defence, why is he here?" She demanded. "Surely you have long range communication in place?"

The Admiral glanced away. "It's become apparent that the Shadow Broker has ears everywhere and that the Krogan have struck a deal with him. We've lost a lot of soldiers because the Shadow Broker has alerted the Krogan that we were coming. We decided this was safer."

She grimaced, but nodded in acceptance. "Ineffective, but I guess it makes sense."

"Actually, I wanted to ask you how you got in contact with the Shadow Broker. If we know how to get in contact, we might be able to find a way to take him down." The Admiral explained.

Shepard glanced away and shrugged. "Through an agent, just like everyone else."

"Of course." Admiral Raleigh sighed in disappointment. "Well, in any case, welcome back to the Alliance, Commander Shepard. Commander Vega will brief you on the details of the Krogan insurgence."

"Sir." She said, snapping a salute.

Someone had broken into her home console. It was heavily encrypted since it connected directly to her the Shadow Broker's networks. It should have been next to impossible. But then, the house alarms hadn't been tripped.

That meant that either the intruder was a master at infiltration, or that it had been Shepard. To Liara, the second possibility was worse.

If Shepard found out, if she wasn't able to reveal her involvement in the current political situation in the right way, it was possible that Shepard would cut ties with her. Which was unacceptable. She might not have made up her mind yet about what to do with her love life, but she knew that she loved Shepard.

She couldn't lose her. Not now. Not after so long. Not when they'd only just been reunited.

She left her office at a dead run and sped her shuttle back towards the house, aware that she'd racked up a rather significant fine for running through a stop light. But when she arrived, the house was silent.

She swallowed nervously, staring at the wet puddle on the foyer's floor. She already knew exactly what files had been accessed. Ones about Shepard's resurrection and records of her involvement with Wrex.

Where would Shepard have gone with that data?

She was alone. She didn't have any allies left and she was stuck in a time where the world was unfamiliar to her. Who could she run to when this oasis proved not to be the sanctuary she'd been hoping for?

Liara was afraid that she already knew the answer.

She brought up her omni-tool with tangible dread and put a call out across the Network for any trace of a revived Commander Shepard. It only took minutes for a confirmation to come in. Shepard was at the Alliance headquarters in downtown Vancouver. She'd just been reinstated.

She cursed, slamming her fist into the nearest wall. She'd driven Shepard right back into the arms of the people who had betrayed her in the first place. The one thing she'd wanted for Shepard – peace – was the one thing the Alliance would never give her. To the Alliance, Shepard was far too valuable of a soldier to be wasted in a non-combat role.

She let out a shaky breath. What did she do now? Just sit here and mope? Cry? Once, maybe, that would have been her course of action. But that was decades ago. She wasn't that socially awkward archaeologist anymore. She wasn't just going to let this pass. Not when there was a chance she could still salvage the situation.

Sure it looked bad, but if she could get Shepard to stop and listen to her for an hour or two, if Shepard let her explain, she could still salvage this situation.

She turned on her heel and ran back out to the car, acquiring three more fines for erratic driving as she made her way to the Alliance headquarters. She was acutely aware of the fact that she was the only alien in the building as she made her way towards the reception desk, doing her best to ignore the confused and semi-hostile glances that were sent her way.

"I want to speak with Commander Shepard." She demanded.

"You and everyone else, Asari." The receptionist sighed.

"You don't understand. I know her." She tried again.

"Yeah, I've heard that one before too." The girl behind the counter said.

She curled her fingers into a fist, but her attention was dragged away from the receptionist at the sound of a rowdy cheer from the rest of the patrons of the lobby. It was Shepard, sporting her Alliance blues with the distinctive three stripes on the shoulder. It was like stepping back in time or being trapped in a memory. When Shepard had cut her blonde hair short again – practical and out of the way like she'd always liked it – she'd thought the pang of nostalgia had been potent. But it was nothing compared to this.

There were a hundred people in the lobby between reporters and soldiers from the base, but she still somehow managed to catch her old lover's eye. For a moment, there was nothing and no one else in the universe, then Shepard broke the connection and snapped a salute to the amassed crowd. The soldiers and reporters when nuts over it before Shepard said something quietly to the man standing at her shoulder and turned her back on the crowd, following the man down a corridor further into the base.

Liara watched her go with a lump in her throat. No words had been exchanged, but for two who had had their minds entwined as closely as she and Shepard had, words weren't really necessary. She'd gotten the message. She'd understood it all in just that one look.

It was over.

AN: Yeah . . . a long time between updates. Don't expect the pace to pick up. I've decided to focus primarily on my Code Geass fanfics and so this oen has kind of fallen by the wayside. Updates will be sporadic at best and non-existent at worst. I only just finished replaying through ME3 and the new ending, which spurred this on a bit. I hope you enjoyed, don't forget to review.