Mass Effect: Requiem (an ME3 Story)

by: Seracen (co-authored by Jackie Almasy)

Legal Jargon:

I do not own Mass Effect, it's characters, or the universe of content contained within. The Mass Effect IP is owned and created by Bioware. It was produced under the auspices of Microsoft Game Studios (ME1) and EA (ME 2 and 3). All the ideas are presented here under Fair Use, and are strictly for non-profit fun. HOWEVER, I do claim rights to this particular story, as my time and effort have gone into this work. This is for the fans...

Author's Note:

NB: certain branching chapters indicate the choices that led there. THIS IS NOT A CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE! IT SIMPLY TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THE CHOICES MADE IN A BRANCHING PLOT, AS DETERMINED BY BIOWARE IN THE MASS EFFECT SERIES! There is no user insertion here, it is simply that a series of gameplay choices which lead to alternate cutscenes, like a Director's Cut, if you will...

Firstly, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Bioware. The fine folks over in Edmonton have crafted emotionally engaging experiences for over a decade. I've reveled in my time with Mass Effect, logging countless hours between all three games.

In no way do I consider this piece a definitive replacement for any of the diligent efforts of Bioware. Those hard-working people have spent years crafting us amazing works of entertainment art.

Having said that, I was, of course, unsatisfied with the ending of Mass Effect 3. This is no criticism of Bioware, they went in their own direction. I am not here to validate or rail against what was done there. This was simply an exercise in therapeutic catharsis.

I would also like to thank those who read my work and expressed opinions about story lines, structure, and the flow of my work. Thanks also to all the folks at the Bioware Social Forums. Without the insight and ideas I gleaned there, this work would not have been possible.

Special thanks to my co-author, Jackie Almasy, who helped me in the writing process, and will be handling the majority of the female Shepard story arcs (I am mainly doing the male POV). Also, I would like to acknowledge and thank Arkis (username from ), who's own work inspired me to post mine.

And finally, to all my fellow fans, thank you. This is as much for you as it is for me. Please be gentle with the feedback, although I always like to hear it. To Bioware, to the fans, to all who read this, thank you. We may not agree with our vision for the story, but we all had fun. I hope you enjoy the ride.

- Seracen

CHAPTER 1

This was the end, or it was supposed to be. All Shepard knew was what his frazzled nerves were telling him. He could see nothing. The soldier's weary body felt leaden, cold. His flesh was charred and cracked, and he'd have started screaming from the pain, if his exhausted lungs would have allowed it.

Slowly, Shepard became aware of a dull whine, barely beyond the edge of his perception. His mind still seemed to be in a fog. The sounds in his head turned rhythmic, became voices.

"Shepard..."

He shook his head, as if batting away a fly, "huh, wha-"

"Shepard," more insistent this time, he could almost make out the voice, it seemed to come from a time he could barely remember.

"SHEPARD," even louder, a raspy voice, more recent, where was it from?

"Shepard-Commander..."

The broken man shook his head again, this simple act invoking eternal agony, "no...you're not...you can't be here..."

"WAKE UP!"

A flash of light jarred him from his reverie. He could hear an insistent pulsing now, atop the voices. His body was lying flat on a cold, hard floor. Shepard could scarcely register anything at all, except the constant burning, consuming him despite the cold.

The voice would not let him rest, "WAKE UP!"

Shepard groaned as he pushed himself up, slowly getting to his feet. He opened his leaden eyes, wincing against the fresh light that assailed his vision. Each breath coursed fire through his taxed lungs, but he filed the pain away in the back of his mind, as he'd done so many times before, and concentrated on his surroundings.

He had just been in a circular control room, in front of a control terminal; overlooking the expanse of the technological monstrosity that had been the Citadel, bastion of all space faring technology.

Now, he was looking at a room, which looked like...a reactor. A column of white light rose from below his field of vision, rising up into the heights of the Citadel. On either side, he could see dauntingly huge machinery, focusing and channeling the energy of the room, letting off red and blue hues. Beyond the reactor cores, he saw the vastness of space, and the horror that lay beyond.

Earth was burning. All the known fleets of the galaxy, from every living species, were locked in combat all around them. They made war with the Reapers, implacable titans of horrific metal and cybernetics. The Victory Fleet was being slaughtered, the Reapers cutting a fiery swath through the ships with their fearsome blood-red beams of light.

The Fleet was giving it everything they had. Bur for every Reaper that fell, a heavy toll was being paid, both in the ships destroyed, and the lives claimed.

Shepard closed his eyes, resisting the urge to scream in frustration. They'd fought and died to get the Crucible here, to the Citadel. This Catalyst was supposed to have set them free. Instead, Shepard was bearing witness as 50,000 years of history and culture was raped and murdered before his very eyes. Had he come so far, sacrificed so much...for this?

"What...where am I?"

"The Citadel...it's my home."

It was only now that Shepard noticed the small, ghostly figure before him. This voice, this...being...seemed familiar.

Shepard concentrated on the ethereal presence, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.

"Who are you?"

The ghost, who looked like a boy, answered, "I am the Catalyst."

It was now that Shepard remembered the figure, it look like the child that had been haunting his dreams, the child he had failed to save, when Earth first began to fall...

"I...thought the Citadel was the Catalyst."

"No," answered the child, "the Citadel is part of me."

The whispers were playing in his ears again, shadows dancing on the edge of his vision. Shepard didn't care what was happening, he had to stop the senseless slaughter of galactic civilization.

"I have to stop the Reapers," wheezed Shepard, "do you know how I can do that?"

"Perhaps," the ghost cocked his head to one side, "I control the Reapers, they are my solution."

He didn't understand, "solution to what?"

"Chaos."

The ghost-child gestured to the space about them, "the Created will always rebel against the Creators. We restore order for the next cycle."

Shepard balked at what he was hearing, "by wiping out organic life?"

"No, we harvest advanced civilizations, leaving the younger ones alone...just as we left your people alive the last time you were here."

It didn't make sense, why leave humanity alone, why not wipe out all of life? The buzzing in the back of Shepard's mind was growing ever more insistent.

"But you...killed the rest..."

"No, we helped them ascend, storing the old life in Reaper form."

A shiver went up Shepard's spine, rattling his whole body. He had seen enough of this "ascension," once before. The Collectors had harvested entire colonies, rending the lives from billions of lives...

"All to prolong your own lives," spat Shepard venomously, "you harvest us so you can live! I think we'd rather keep our own forms."

"No," insisted the petulant ghost, "you can't. We've created this cycle to preserve order, that is the solution."

The buzzing in his head was more pronounced, almost drowning out thought. Shepard pushed past it.

"What," he demanded, "you're killing us to save us?"

The Catalyst nodded, "we are helping you ascend..."

Shepard grinned darkly, "right, because it sounds so much better than 'genocide' when you word it that way."

A large groan reverberated throughout the ship, battering Shepard's mind. It was as if...was it the ship, were they falling into Earth's atmosphere? Still, that didn't seem...quite right...

Then, Shepard heard a voice from the past, one he'd not heard in what seemed like ages, "Commander, maybe they've got a point."

Shepard looked to his other side, memories of atomic explosion racing through his mind, memories of...Virmire. He'd hoped he'd never have to remember again, but the ghosts of Shepard's past would not be denied...they never could.

"Kaiden?" demanded Shepard, scarcely believing.