Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect, this belongs to Bioware. Please enjoy.

Chapter 19: New homes and old friends.

The sunlight rays beat down on the dusty ground as the loud groan of the Reaper tore through the air like a charging elephant through a crowd. Shepard, alone stood on the cliff that over looked the Geth base they had just been running from. Garrus' voice, that cried out her name, had fallen silent long ago and so too had the voice that had been screaming at her that this was a really bad idea. Shepard gripped the targeting laser, more for comfort more than anything else as she took aim at the hulking machine.

If a scholar were to write this moment, they might have been laughed at. A lone solider, stood strong and proud with shaking knees before the mighty monster that signalled death through out the galaxy. Akin to the David and Goliath tale, it might have made a good Blasto film. But right now, as the winds whipped through the air filling Shepard's nose with the scents of burning fires and spicy floras of Rannoch, it was all too real and Shepard knew this could have been one fight she might not walk away from. Taking a deep breath she pressed the trigger and watched as the blue lights of the targeting system ensnare the Reaper.

No sooner had the blasts from the fleet hit, the Reaper had taken notice of Shepard. Shepard leapt out of the way as the Reaper powered up it main cannon. The beam struck the ground with explosive force, rubble rained down on Shepard while the heat of the laser nearly blistered her skin. Shepard struggled to her feet while again aiming the targeting laser at the firing chamber, the air still sizzled from the heat of the laser making Shepard take short shallow breaths. The Reaper prepared to fire but again was hit by the Fleet, Shepard only imagined that if the Reaper could jump about, it'd be having a tantrum about not getting it's way. A smile crossed Shepard's lips briefly at the thought of the Reaper stomping and sulking but that thought was quickly broken when the Reaper recovered and Shepard found herself leaping out of the way of another laser.

"Damn that thing is hot" Shepard growled as she heaved herself up off the dusty ground. The Reaper drew closer and Shepard bite her lip in fear before flinching back when her sharp teeth broke her skin. Shepard aimed at the Reaper again, the blue light ensnared the Reaper again before the Fleet landed another direct hit on the Reaper's firing chamber. But a loud groan filled the air and Shepard cursed, this thing could take a beating and it still didn't look like it had scratch on it. The Reaper rose up again and as it did, its form blacked out the blistering sun. Shepard stared wide eyed as the Reaper stood over her, Shepard aimed the targeting laser again but as she did her blood ran cold. Everywhere around her turned the colour of blood and war. Red stained the rocks and leaves while bathing Shepard in the harsh white light, Shepard winced, she could hardly see the blue lines any more. Shepard hoped and prayed to every God or Spirit she could think of within every culture, crying out for the Fleet to hit the Reaper before the Reaper hit her.
Then, as if her prayers were answered, the skies started to rain down fire striking the Reaper with deadly destruction. The Reaper groaned and cried out as it struggled against the onslaught of the Fleet's defences, Shepard dived behind some nearby rocks for cover as the explosive force of the impacts. Fire raged across the Reaper's surface like a blanket of smoke and heat and as Shepard took cover from the falling debris, she watched as the last barrage of fire from the Fleet. The Reaper came crashing down, crimson sparks danced across its surface as it gave one last groan and wail.

Silence encased the air like a thick cloud. Dust floated through the air like a curtain, obscuring Shepard's vision. Shepard moved out from behind the walls of rocks that became her cover, The wind had died down creating a sense of eeriness. Even the fires that burnt against the ground and plants flickered with dimming strength. Shepard looked over to the huge shadow that lay in the distance, the fallen Reaper, with crimson lighting dancing across its metal body as the slow creaking groan gave life to the silent planet. Shepard walked towards Reaper, she wanted to make sure the thing was dead and not gathering energy for another attack. Once she reached the cliff's edge her eyes wondered the Reaper's form, she'd never seen one up close...unless you counted the time when the Illusive Man sent them into the Dead Reaper to collect the IFF. The design of the Reaper was simple and sleek, like a top of the line sports car that was usually featured on the Citadel. The fact that Reapers look like squids made Shepard think that old horror films could predict the future. As she looked at the Reaper the firing cannon suddenly sprung to life, Shepard gripped the targeting laser but then the Reaper began something she wished Reapers could never do. It talked.

"Shepard..." Reaper groaned, shaking the earth as it did. Its red light flickering with each word it groaned.

"You know who I am?" Shepard asked. Curiosity winning over her desire to just shoot the damn robot.

"Harbinger speaks of you. You resist. But you will fail." Reaper groaned. Well, Shepard couldn't complain about not being popular. "The cycle must continue" Shepard stared blankly at the Reaper, she had heard those words from every Reaper that spoke to her and still she did not understand it's meaning.

"I killed Sovereign, and now you." Shepard bit out as her finger twitched against the trigger of the targeting laser.

"We are many" the Reaper groaned.

"And we are more! We will come together and defeat you." Shepard growled. The Reaper seem to stare at her as if it was trying to calculate what she was trying to say.

"You can not comprehend the magnitude of our presence" The Reaper spoke after a while.

"Then make me understand, we might surprise you" Shepard trilled in anger. Her temper slowly fraying as the Reaper spoke, talking in circles. All she wanted was a straight answer.

"You represent chaos. We represent order. Every organic civilisation must be harvested in order to bring order to the chaos. It is inevitable. Without our intervention, organics are doomed. We are your salvation." The Reaper droned. Shepard heard footsteps against the rocky ground behind her but her eyes stay locked with the glowing red eye of the Reaper. She wanted to scream, claw at it smug red eye if she could. How the Reapers represented order she had no idea because right now thousands were dying because of the Reapers. They had come into the galaxy and created the chaos they were now in. Maybe the galaxy wasn't perfect before they showed up but it wasn't going to hell...not like it was now. So many people fighting to stay alive, jumping from fox hole to fox hole or being crammed into shuttles to be transported to an overpopulated docking bay on the Citadel. The Reapers had plunged this galaxy into chaos...Not Organics. Shepard glared at the Reaper as it lay in the dust.

"I have an idea, how about we destroy you and we live our lives in peace" Shepard growled out.

"A philosophy reminiscent of the Quarians. Observe the results. We are your only hope for the preservation of humanity" The Reaper droned as if putting the final nail in the organic coffin. Shepard balled her fist, who gave the Reapers the right to treat all of civilisation...like crops. Then trying to back up so much slaughter, the slaughter of millions, saying that it was preservation. If preservation meant becoming a husk or worse...a full blown Reaper. Shepard would rather die fighting.

"Is that what you told the other species that came before us? Is that what you told the Protheans before you butchered their kind? You're preserving them!" Shepard shouted. Her anger and rage for the Reapers fuelling her words. "Did you tell the Inusannon or the Zya that you were preserving them? Well let me tell you now, I know how you are created and that's not being preserved. That's...that's...sickening." Shepard bit out. The Reaper only looked on, its dimming light slowly flickering against the setting sun.

"Whatever species you were before you became what you are now. They're dead. They died thousands of years ago." Shepard breathed slowly. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes as she thought of the fear and pain those poor people would have been in when the Reapers arrived and now to spend their resting years as something they feared. Agony. Shepard growled and shook away her tears as she gripped the targeting laser. Pulling the trigger the sounds of the locking sequence began. As the blue lines gathered round the Reaper Shepard watched, her sub vocals screaming with hate for the thing that lay before her but also pity and sorrow for those who were forced to be created into it. The Fleet's fire rained down on the Reaper, giving one finial blow.

"Now...they can rest in peace" Shepard muttered as she looked away from the burning fires.

"Shepard..." A voice sounded. Shepard looked up to see Tali running towards her. Shepard broke into a smile, they made it out safely. Tali pulled Shepard into a hug and squeezed her as tight as she could. Shepard chuckled and patted Tali's shoulder.

"Shepard, until that Reaper fell we thought...Keelah..." Tali spoke shakily. Shepard could hear the tears running down Tali's cheeks with each word. Shepard smiled softly and held Tali in a soft embrace.

"I'm alright, Tali." Shepard spoke. Tali slowly let Shepard out of her hug, mumbling something Shepard's translator couldn't pick up. As Tali moved out of the way Shepard looked up to see Legion walking up checking his Omni-tool while behind Legion, Garrus came running towards her. Shepard's smile widened and before she knew it her feet were running towards him. As the pair neared each other, Garrus reached out and grabbed Shepard's wrists before bringing her crashing against his chest and wrapped her up in his arms. Shepard wound her arms round his neck as she thrilled in happiness while his ran with so many emotions it was hard to keep up. One she did pick up on was relief.
They held each other even as the others slowly came up the cliff. James called out to Garrus saying 'I told you so' while Javik muttered something about primitive affections being useless, followed by an elbow jab in his ribs from Liara. Shepard smiled and looked at Garrus who was still humming his relief, his armoured covered talons tugging at the tips of her hair.

"Shepard-Commander, we can confirm that the remaining Geth fleet is no longer under Reaper control. We are free." Legion interrupted. Shepard peeled herself away from Garrus and looked over to Legion as he shut down his Omni-tool.

"You did it Shepard, the Geth have stopped firing. They're completely vulnerable." Gerrel almost shouted with joy down Shepard's communicator.

"Shepard-Commander, The Geth only acted in defence when the Creators attacked. Do we deserve death?" Legion pointed out. Shepard pressed her lips together as she started to feel the weight of the on coming decision. Shepard took a breath before looking over to Legion who's optic glue softly against the Rannoch sunset as his facial flaps shifted and wiggled.

"What do you have in mind?" Shepard asked. She felt the air become thick with tension as all eyes seemed to zero in on her.

"Our upgrades. With the old machine dead, we could upload them to all Geth without sacrificing their independence." Legion spoke as he walked towards the burning Reaper.

"That would make the Geth as smart as when the Reaper was controlling them" Tali almost shouted. Shepard glanced over towards Tali, her eyes wide behind her mask. Shepard understood Tali's concerns, her people had been at war with the Geth for years.

"Yes, but with free will. Each Geth unit would be a true intelligence. We would be alive, and we could help you" Legion urged. Shepard bite her lip as she thought.

"The fleet is already attacking! Uploading the code would destroy us! Shepard, you can't choose the Geth over my people" Tali whirled on Shepard with flailing hands and wide eyes. Shepard felt her teeth clench as Tali proceeded to try and convince Shepard to not let Legion upload the code. Voices started to blur together, James started howling that the Geth should be killed while Javik backed it up with facts about what happened between Organics and Synthetics in his cycle. Liara mentioned how the Geth would make powerful allies while Kaidan tried to be the neutral party. Arguing turned to shouting, the shouting turned to an annoying buzz. The words spinning round and round in Shepard's head as she tried to focus on the task at hand. Life. Death. War. Peace. Quarian. Geth.

"ENOUGH!" Shepard roared. Silence fell round the group like a sudden cold chill.

"Shepard..."

"Legion, upload the code. Tali patch into that fucking fleet and order them to stop. I'm going to end this, one way or another." Shepard growled out through her teeth as she gave the orders. Legion flapped his facial panels in confirmation before walking over towards the fallen Reaper. Tali hesitantly opened up her Omni-tool, her fingers shaking as she pressed each key.

"This is Admiral Tali'Zorah. All units, break off your attack." Tali urged, her voice almost warbling with worry and fear.

"Belay that order! Continue the attack!" Gerrel's voice vibrated down the communicator. Tali's breath caught in her throat while Kal'Reeger placed his hand on Tali's shoulder. Shepard kept her eyes fixed on Legion's back as he worked round the glowing interface. Doubt and worry lay in the pit of Shepard's stomach like a heavy stone at the bottom of the river, but what was she to expect. Shepard was pinning her hopes on a feeling. But she knew that if the Quarians didn't stop firing when the Geth had the Reaper code then the Quarians wouldn't last long.

"Twenty percent" Legion announced. Tali slipped away from Kal'Reeger and ran up to Legion.

"I beg you. Please don't do this" Tali pleaded, the tears almost audible in her voice with each word.

"We regret the death of the creators but we see no alternative...forty percent" Legion spoke calmly. Shepard clenched her fist tighter, her nails cutting through the material of her glove and digging into her flesh.

"No. It doesn't end like this. Legion, keep uploading. Tali, patch me in." Shepard ordered. Tali pressed a few buttons as Shepard heard her communicator crackle to life with sounds of panicked Quarians and ship alarms. As she suspected, the Quarians had already taken a huge beating from the Geth.

"Everyone listen up! This is Shepard, if you all want to live happy lives on Rannoch and not get blown out of the sky in about...oh I don't know...thirty seconds! You will stand down now!" Shepard shouted over her radio. Shepard could feel everyone's eyes (and Legion's sensor) on her.

"This is Admiral Tali'Zorah. Shepard speaks with my authority" Tali spoke confidently. Shepard let a small smile cross her lips in thanks to her friend.

"And mine as well" Koris' voice rattled through the radio.

"Negative! We can win this now if we just keep firing!" Gerrel's voice violently pleaded. Shepard growled and bit her tongue. She'd had enough of Gerrel's warmongering and blood lust for the Geth.

"If you don't listen to me, then the Geth are going to return to full strength and blow your asses out of the sky. And you know what? I'll just sit back and watch as they do. I've saved you once from the Geth and I helped you take down that dreadnought. I've had enough of saving people who won't look at the bigger picture and see, truly, what your people want. It's your call...Keelah sa'lai." Shepard shouted down the radio. Silence fell over the area like a thick fog, eyes staring unblinking at Shepard's back with hitched breaths. Fires dimmed and cracked softly as the Rannoch air blew softly against Shepard's skin. The strands of her hair brushing against her cheeks as the spiced air tickled her nose. Her heart thundered in her ears as she waited, the tension moving through the air as they waited.

"...All units...Hold fire" Gerrel's exhausted voice trembled over the radio. Relief fell over Shepard like a crushing rain, she could help but smile as she looked up to the sky to see the the flicker lights of gunfire had disappeared. Shepard felt a hand snake round her waist as Garrus pulled her close and nuzzled her temple softly, his chest rumbling with deep vibrations. Shepard smiled and leant into him as she finally felt one weight of the world leave her narrow shoulders. The others nearly erupted into a state of surprise and shock but happiness filled the air.

"You did it, love" Garrus spoke softly against her ear. Shepard chuckled as her lips stretched into a smile so wide it nearly engulfed her face. She had done it.

"Error...copying code is insufficient." Legion's calm voice broke the haze of happiness and slapped Shepard in the face like a cold towel. Shepard's turned her eyes to Legion as he stood in front of the Reaper. His hands no longer floating round the glowing interface but instead hung at his sides like limp sacks of metal. His head hung slightly lower as his facial panels twitched slowly, it almost looked like he was in deep thought...or crying.

"Direct personality dissemination...required" Legion spoke slowly, his voice giving off an unnatural sense of sadness. Shepard pulled herself away from Garrus and slowly walked towards the Geth unit. Legion turned his optic towards her feet slowly.

"Shepard-Commander, I must go to them" Legion spoke. Shepard's breath caught in her throat, her dry and split lips parted as if in mid gasp.

"Is...Is there no other way?" Shepard asked slowly.

"I'm sorry, there is not" Legion looked down further to the ground. A lump formed in Shepard's throat as her body began to shake. Her long fringe covered her eyes as she glared down at the ground. Thoughts and memories racing through her mind. The time they found Legion abroad the dead Reaper. The many talks she had with Legion in the A.I core and learning about the Geth. The way Legion and Garrus would get into arguments about calibrating the Thanix Cannon. She ground her teeth together as she felt her sub-harmonics cry with all her emotions that raced through her being.

"Legion, the answer to the question. Is Yes" Tali spoke.

"I know, Tali. But thank you" Legion nodded. Shepard felt his optic return to her. Gripping her fist so tight she felt her nails dig deep into her palm and blood start too dip down her fingers, she looked up at Legion with her brightest smile.

"You have made your people proud, Legion." Shepard spoke calmly. Legion nodded as his panels twitched and flapped before looking round to the others.

"Keelah sa'lai" Legion spoke before collapsing to his knees. Shepard reached out and grabbed Legion before his body crashed to the ground. His metal frame gently resting on her lap as Shepard's trembling hands lay across her old N7 armour that he wore so proudly across his shoulder and chest...she never did get his reason for wearing it. His light slowly dimmed against the setting sun, his body that used to feel warm to the touch now started to cool.

"Goodbye, Legion" Shepard spoke, still wearing her bright and kind smile but a single tear rolled down her cheek and dripped onto Legion.

)_)

The Geth and Quarians agreed to work together and help the Alliance build the Crucible as well as help retake Earth when the time came. For now the Normandy was to report back to the Citadel to re-supply and give the crew some much needed rest. Shepard was also meant to report to a Doctor Bryson, Hackett had given Shepard information that Bryson had unearthed some critical information about the Reapers. Or more importantly, how to defeat them. EDI worked with the Geth on coordinating supply ships to the Crucible while Traynor helped the Quarians with rescue efforts.

Cortez had added Legion's name to the wall of remembrance along with the name others. Though the crew of the Normandy went about their usual duties, Tali, Garrus and Shepard all held themselves away from the rest of the ground team. Chakwas still tended to the sick and wounded, but even she was a little more reserved than usual.

Even though the Normandy was ordered to go straight to the Citadel, that didn't stop Shepard from taking a few detours. Clearing an Alliance fuelling station of Reapers and radiation before hopping over to help some colonists on Benning. But the biggest surprise was when Traynor picked up a transmission from Gellix, where a team of ex-Cerberus scientists were requesting a rescue...little did Shepard know, she'd have to save Jacob's ass as well.

"So, Jacob. How did you end up like this?" Shepard asked as she leant against the nearby medical equipment. Jacob hadn't changed, his same chocolate brown eyes were still full of seriousness but also a bit of joy. Shepard had to admit it was good to see him again, after Legion passing she wondered if she would ever be able to see most of her friends again. Miranda was off finding her sister only Spirits knew where. Samara was somewhere out in the Galaxy fighting the Reapers with the other Justicars. Jack was busy with her students on Earth. Wrex was no doubt yelling at someone. Grunt was possibly doing the same. She wished them all the best but also wished she could somehow help them. A Cerberus missile shook the foundations of the complex, bringing Shepard out of her mild trance.

"Well, you didn't make it easy. Especially when you come back from a suicide mission alive...and the worst one injured was you" Jacob smiled before hissing in pain from the bullet he took earlier.

"It's what I do best. But sorry for making you so prepared for the mission" Shepard jabbed with a smile. Jacob scoffed and groaned as he shifted his position. Shepard knelt down, ripping Jacob's hand away from his wound and examined the small bullet hole that had thankfully just grazed his side.

"You'll be fine." Shepard said, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

"Right, anyway. After you dropped me off at the Citadel before returning to the Alliance to be locked up. I quit Cerberus, quit everything. Sat by the Mediterranean for a while. That's where I lost track of you. And while I was there, breathing in that sweet air, that what I should be fighting for should come from the heart. Fighting for something important to me." Jacob smiled, his eyes hazed over with a dreamy look like he was back on those white sands. Shepard chuckled as she sat down next to him.

"Okay, so how did you get from sandy beaches to dating Bryn?" Shepard asked, her lips turning into a plotting type of smile. Jacob coughed and held his gaze firmly towards the floor.

"Friend of a friend, you could say. We met and found that we really hit it off" Jacob spoke, speaking with his hands more than his mouth as his hands flew about with each word he spilled. Shepard warmed her smile and patted Jacob on his shoulder, she was happy he managed to find someone other than Miranda.

"We're...having a baby, Shepard" Jacob almost chocked. Shepard nearly fell off the chair but managed to grip Jacob's shoulder just in time.

"Congratulations, Jacob" Shepard smiled. Jacob let out a huff of a laugh before looking out into the main corridor. Shepard followed his gaze, people ran about the small room carrying parts of equipment or looking over schematics of things that required more calibrating than the Thanix Cannon. Children huddled together playing with handmade toys, helping them go into a world of their own or clung to their parent's leg for some form of safety. Just outside the door, stood James and EDI surveying the area and waiting patiently for her to stop chatting.

"I better get to it, Jacob. The sooner we get these people off this planet, the better" Shepard heaved herself up before turning back towards Jacob as he shifted his weight again. Shepard nodded and headed towards the door.

)_)

Shepard and James dusted themselves off from the roof debris that now littered their armour. Cerberus put up a fight, sending down Nemesis and more Troopers than the Illusive man could throw a stick at. EDI managed to reconfigure the second AA gun before it started firing at the remaining Cerberus fighters that threatened the base.

"Jacob, both AA gun are online." Shepard radioed, shaking the last of the rubble from her long hair.

"Right Shepard, get back in here and we can get this evacuation under way." Jacob's fuzzy voice called back. Shepard nodded and signalled the others to start heading back. James walked along side Shepard while EDI was slightly behind.

"So, Lola..."

"No, James. This isn't going to go smoothly now." Shepard smiled before jumping down from the small platform. James laughed while EDI tilted her head.

When they reached the small base, the children were still being gathered into the shuttle ready to be launched to the Normandy. As James and EDI walked further in to meet up with Bryn and Jacob a small cry caught Shepard's attention. She turned her head to the shuttle to where she saw a small girl clinging to her mother's leg. Her strawberry blonde curls sticking to her tear ridden cheeks as she whiled her protest in not going. The girl's mother begging the child to go only to be challenged with higher pitched wails. Shepard watched to the scene and before she knew it her feet moved towards the young girl. The girl's wails became choked sniffles as her baby blue eyes stared towards Shepard as she approached, the girl's mother quickly wrapping her in a tight embrace. Shepard nodded at the mother before kneeling down and gave the girl a kind smile.

"Hello, little one." Shepard spoke softly. The little girl clung tighter to her mother as she watched Shepard carefully.

"H...Hello...Miss" The little girl sniffled.

"My name is Shepard. What's yours?" Shepard asked as she kept her smile.

"Ellie..." The girl spoke, gaining a bit more courage. Shepard extended her hand slowly which Ellie tentatively grasped before shaking it.

"That's a pretty name. Ellie, why do you not want to go in the shuttle?" Shepard asked as she held the girl's hand gently, caressing her larger thumb across Ellie's small knuckles...were all children this small?

"I don't want to leave Momma, she'll die if she stays here" Ellie nearly shouted as she nearly burst into tears again. Shepard gently gripped Ellie's hand before slowly reaching up and plucked some of the curls from Ellie's small face, revealing the sweet girl below.

"I understand, little one. I know this is all scary right now and you don't want to leave your mother but you need to be brave. You'll see her again, I'll make sure of it." Shepard assured Ellie with a smile. Ellie looked towards Shepard with her impossibly wide eyes before grasping Shepard's hand with her other. Shepard watched as the young girl's face turned from a scared little girl into one who was trying to be as brave as she could.

"You promise?" Ellie asked. Shepard gently gripped Ellie's small hand.

"I promise" Shepard nodded. Ellie gave a slight nod before her eyes slowly started to glance towards her worrisome mother. Shepard could see that Ellie was sensing her mother's own fear, Shepard took her hand away from Ellie's grasp and slipped the small crystal that Bakara had given her. The multitude of colours glittering in the dark stone, Ellie's eyes zoomed towards the stone like she had seen her favourite candy. Shepard smiled and held out the stone towards Ellie.

"This is a wishing stone, Ellie. I want you to keep it safe for me. You keep it safe and keep wishing for your mother to come back to you safe" Shepard smiled as she placed the crystal in Ellie's hand. Ellie grasped the crystal and held it close to her chest. Shepard smiled and watched as Ellie ran towards the shuttle, her strawberry blonde curls bouncing with each step. Shepard started to walk away as the door on the shuttle closed, feeling a sense of hope fill her chest. Shepard reached and gently placed her hand over her stomach, caressing it slightly before gripping her fist and continued walking towards EDI who had waited for her.

"Shepard, Mr Taylor informs us that the evacuation is almost ready to go. He was waiting for your approval." EDI spoke as they both walked towards the main controls for the base. Shepard nodded before she looked over the controls of the shuttle bay. By Shepard's order, the AA guns managed to punch a hole though the Cerberus fighters and soon the first shuttle was away. Shepard gave a small smile, Ellie was safe. But that bubble was soon burst when one the AA guns was taken out by a Kamikaze fighter. Shepard cursed under her breath and like flies t a honey jar, Cerberus troopers suddenly started raining from the skylight. Shepard shouted at Jacob to get Bryn and the other scientists to the shuttle while James threw a grenade at the landing troopers. The fire fight was brief thanks to EDI's decoy and James' grenades.

"Shepard, Cerberus are trying to break through the door." Jacob cried down the radio. Shepard and the others rushed towards the shuttle bay. Killing a few Cerberus troopers that had already broken through, Jacob opened the doors which was like opening the gates to a flood. Cerberus gunfire flew through the widening opening, Shepard quickly released her biotics to shield James and EDI as they applied pressure fire to the oncoming troopers. As the doors fully opened, James and EDI ran towards what little cover there was. Shepard let loose the biotic shield and sent it flying to the remaining troopers, quickly equipping her assault rifle, Shepard ducked behind cover next to EDI.

"Jacob, how's it looking?" Shepard asked, her breathing laboured from the biotic force she put on her body.

"Not good, Shepard. You've got Cerberus shuttles incoming." Jacob responded. Shepard peered over the small cover and spotted the shuttles flying low on the towers that stood at each side. Shepard bit her lip as she saw the doors of the shuttles open. She signalled to EDI and James to get ready who nodded in response. When the first trooper stepped out of the shuttle, Shepard stood up and threw out a singularity to each shuttle opening. The troopers were quickly caught in the gravity pull before being plucked off by Shepard and the team. After a while the area became quiet, James took the chance to collect dropped ammunition while EDI and Shepard searched for surviving troopers.

"Shepard! Atlas dropping in!" Jacob called out. Shepard looked up and sure enough an Atlas came falling from the upper atmosphere. Shepard dived for cover just before the Atlas landed on the shuttle platform. Shepard quickly swapped her rifle for her heavy pistol and started blasting round after round at the cockpit screen. EDI tried to overload the shields while James loaded his shotgun with heavy rounds. They pounded with Atlas with so many bullets that it eventually fell, but it didn't go down without a fight. Before it fell, the Atlas started to target James alone. James hid behind the small-bullet hole-ridden cover unable to do anything. As it approached ready to deal the finial bullet right through James' unprotected head, Shepard felt a surge of biotic power flow through her body. She flung the energy towards the mechanical beast and was soon met by a huge and loud explosion of biotic power. The air sizzled with heat from the explosion as the Atlas groaned and shuddered as the biotic flames licked across the metal, the pilot trying to regain control over the machine but was soon taken out by a well placed bullet to the head from EDI.

James stood up from the cover and shook off the shock and adrenalin and was no doubt surging through his body. Shepard looked at her hand as tiny blue flame still danced across her fingers, but she didn't have time to admire them as more Cerberus troopers came flying down from the sky. Shepard readied her biotics again as her and the team slowly backed towards the landing platform.

"Shepard!" Jacob's voice shouted from the air. Shepard looked behind her to see the shuttle hovering just above the platform. Shepard ordered EDI and James into the shuttle as she flung the new found biotic energy at the on coming Cerberus troopers. More troopers poured through the open doors of the abandoned lab, as well as more Atlas' dropping down from the sky.

"Okay. Now is a good time to jump into the shuttle" Shepard told herself as she started running. Her body felt a little heavy from the biotic exhaustion, bullets flying past her head like whiz bangers. Then the ground shook as one of the Atlas' gunfire just missed Shepard's feet, Shepard cursed under her breath as she nearly reached the shuttle but then another loud explosion. The resulting shock wave knocked Shepard to the ground, hitting her head slightly on the smooth but freezing metal as her body rolled.

"Shepard!" Jacob cried again.

"Commander!" Bryn's voice spoke urgently next to her. Before Shepard could regain her senses quickly, Bryn hauled Shepard to her feet and started dragging her towards the shuttle. She saw Jacob's fuzzy figure giving cover fire. Soon she felt the reverberating metal of the shuttle floor under her feet, followed by a few more explosions in the background and the shuttle was away. Shepard shook off the nausea that began to cloud her head and nodded to Bryn in thanks, who was still supporting her.

"Out by the skin of our teeth again, Shepard" Jacob smiled as he gave James his assault rifle back.

"Good to see nothing has really changed then...it was good to see you back in action" Shepard smiled.

"Yeah, it felt good" Jacob nodded as he sat down. Shepard chuckled under her breath as she rested against the hull of the shuttle. James started checking over his weapons, as he did after every mission while EDI was coordinating with the Normandy.

"Commander..." Bryn's voice altered Shepard. "I was afraid what we weren't going to get anyone out alive. But because of you we got everyone. Thank you" Bryn smiled. Shepard nodded, while feeling a weight leave her aching shoulders.

"Now there's something you can do for me. I need your help against the Reapers" Shepard spoke.

"Without a doubt, I'm at your service. And I'm sure everyone was else as well" Bryn assured.

)_)

The shuttle docked within the Normandy, the rest of the scientists climbed out of the shuttle before taking in their surroundings. Shepard existed the shuttle last, watching Jacob and Bryn talk to some of the many scientists that immediately crowded round them. The docking bay was now little with so many people it didn't look like the normal tumble weed infested space it usually did. Even James' little area was crammed with small children.
Shepard had promised Bryn that they would be dropped off at the Citadel where they would have to report to either Admiral Hackett or the refugee areas. It wasn't much of a choice but it was all Shepard could do for the time being. Jacob had also promised that he would help Admiral Hackett, but it was mainly so that he could stay with Bryn. Shepard didn't mind, Jacob had finally found his place in the world after the disaster of finding his father like he did.

James grumbled as he leant up against the shuttle, his bulky armour clicking together as he moved. Shepard smiled as she saw him glaring towards his small station, the small children now starting to root through the many boxes that littered the area.

"Shouldn't you go and stop them?" Shepard asked.

"I would if I could get through. I tell you, Lola. I preferred it when it was empty" James grumbled. Shepard chuckled and patted his shoulder before wading her way through the tide of people. Eventually she made it to the elevator and pressed the button to her room, she couldn't wait to get her armour off.

"Miss Commander!" A small voice called out to her. Shepard's ears twitched at the sound and she immediately locked on to the source of the voice. Ellie came bounding through the crowd, her small hands still gripped to her chest as her blonde curls whipped round her face. Shepard smiled and knelt down to the young girl who gave her the biggest smile Shepard had ever seen.

"You kept your promise, Momma is fine" Ellie panted and smiled. Shepard chuckled and moved some of the strands of hair from Ellie's face.

"I told you I would"

"Mmm hmm...Oh here." Ellie thrust her hands towards Shepard. Shepard cupped her own hands as Ellie placed the crystal in Shepard's palms before running off back into the crowd. Shepard smiled softly as she watched the blonde curls disappear into the crowd of people as she gripped the small crystal herself. Feeling a bit more at ease she entered the elevator and headed to the one place she really needed to be. Bed.

Hope you enjoyed it. Sorry it took so long.