Dim light from the setting sun streamed in through the window, dancing and shifting along the ceiling as it reflected off the sparkling sea. The room was quiet save for the rhythmic sounds of fists striking a punching bag. John Shepard, first human Spectre, savior of the Citadel and the galaxy along with a host of other titles he didn't really care for, lashed out in one last rapid flurry of punches. A kick sent the punching bag swinging violently. Panting, he stepped back, wiping the sweat from his brow as he slowed his breathing. After his heart rate had calmed to a normal pace, Shepard pulled on a gray T-shirt as he stepped outside.
The Spectre felt himself grin as he gazed over Rannoch, a planet he himself had played a role in regaining. It had been twenty-four years since the former alliance Commander had helped broker peace between the geth and the quarians. Twenty-four years since he had made his promise to build Tali'Zorah a house on this very planet.
Twenty-four years, so much has changed since then. Shepard mused with a chuckle, glancing at his reflection in a window. Funny, despite all that's changed, it seems I haven't, at-least physically. As a result of the extensive cybernetic augmentations he had received courtesy of Cerberus' work when they'd resurrected him years before, his appearance differed little from what it had been back then. To this day his body showed little evidence of the years that had gone by.
Tearing his gaze away from the setting sun, Shepard made his way towards the small one-room workshop that stood adjacent to the house. The shrill sound of machinery and buzzing of tools periodically cried out from inside the building. Pausing in front of the entrance, he waited for the deafening noise to resume before sliding the door open and slipping inside.
A quarian in a purple exosuit stood over a workbench, tinkering with some unrecognizable piece of machinery. So absorbed by her work, she did not notice him as he approached. Smiling, Shepard moved to stand behind her, waiting until she set down the tool she was using before sliding his arms around her. With his arms around her, he could feel the soft, supple material of her suit. Though she didn't need to wear it, Tali often did anyway when out of the house.
"Wha? John!?" Tali'Shepard vas Rannoch jumped in surprise, her voice somewhere between shock and laughter "How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me like that?"
"Too many for me to count." Shepard grinned, planting a kiss on the forehead of her helmet.
"It's just hard to resist, your reaction is always so cute."
"Bosh'tet." Tali muttered, shaking her head as she returned to look over her work.
"You have been working in in here all day now, so are you going to tell me what's bothering you?"
"What!?" Tali turned to face the spectre, her raised eyebrows almost visible through her mask.
"Come on, we both know you only spend the whole day holed up in here when you are trying not to worry about something."
"Well..." Tali started, her hands fidgeting with each other as she spoke. "Its just with Ria's Pilgrimage starting in a few days, I can't stop worrying."
"Ahh" He squeezed her tighter to punctuate his exclamation.
"Quit it, I told you that you sound like a vorcha when you do that. And what, are you not worried?" She tilted her head to the side quizzically.
"Of course I am, but Ria can handle herself. Besides, I remember you telling me practically all quarians return from their Pilgrimage."
Tali dipped her head in acknowledgement to his point. Twisting free of his grip so she now stood facing him. Leaning back against her workbench, Tali crossed her arms before continuing. "I know, but what if something..."
"Ria is smart, brave, and resourceful; just like a certain other quarian I met while she was her pilgrimage." Shepard assured, taking Tali's hand in his.
"But she had to be saved by a dashing Commander and got wrapped up in several impossible missions. It does not exactly inspire confidence in our daughter's safety if she is anything like her." Tali countered, though the worry in her voice had been now been replaced by a slight flirtatious tone.
"I better tell her stay away from "dashing Commanders" then." Shepard laughed.
"You still going with your plan for her Pilgrimage gift?"
"Yep," Shepard grinned. "Should be useful if she is going to be in as much mortal danger as you think she will be."
"Bosh'tet. Remember to let me look over it before you give it to her. Might need a few repairs."
"Understood, Miss vas Rannoch," Shepard replied, kissing the top of the quarian's helmet once more. "She'll be fine, trust me."
"I know... well I better get back to work. This energy shunt isn't going to fix itself."
Ah, so that's what it is. Smiling once more Shepard exited to workshop, heading back down the path leading to the house. He had almost reached the house before he saw someone sitting at the edge of cliff overlooking the sea. The figure appeared to be working on something that sat in her lap. Ria'Shepard Nar Rannoch's exosuit was black and gray, under a deep forest green Realk and other decorative cloth; with silver metal decorating her neck and wrists among other areas of her suit.
Shepard smiled as he watched his adopted daughter work. He had been telling the truth when he said she reminded him of Tali. She's smart, kind, and talented; but also brave, resourceful, and tough when she needs to be. She will be fine, no matter what she faces on her Pilgrimage. He chuckled as another thought came to mind, Tali isn't the only one Ria has taken after, when she sets her mind to something she possesses a level of determination and pig-headed stubbornness rarely seen. Can't imagine where that comes from. With a moment of consideration Shepard moved to where Ria was sitting, dropping to sit next to her.
"Hey." Ria said in acknowledgment even as she continued to work.
"Hey kid, what are you working on?"
"Upgrading Tikkun's energy cells should double the duration he can stay active." Ria replied, referring to her combat drone. "I want to make sure he is as upgraded as he can be, in case I need him on my Pilgrimage."
"Have I ever told you how cute it is that you named your drone after the planet's sun?"
"Hey, I was seven when mom helped me build him." Ria replied defensively, making some final adjustments before setting the micro-tool she was holding down. "Besides, Tikkun is a good name."
"I see you're wearing your mask for once. What's the occasion?" He asked after a moment's lull in the conversation as his daughter drew a small power cell from a pouch on her suit and slipped it into the inactive drone.
"Thought I needed to start getting use to wearing it all the time, for my pilgrimage I mean." Ria tapped the side of her helmet to punctuate her explanation.
"How are you feeling about that by the way? Nervous? Excited?"
Ria said nothing initially, sitting silent as he brought her hand up to shoulder level, the now finished drone sitting in her palm. "A bit a both actually," she finally said with a wave of her omni-tool. The gold and white drone flared to life, hovering a few inches above her hand.
"Part of me can't wait to go out on my own, see the world and have adventures like you and mom did."
Shepard nodded at her words, the pair both looking out over the sparkling sea.
The young quarian sighed, deactivating the drone before she continued. "But another part of me is afraid; afraid that I can't possibly live up to the example Mom set when she went on her pilgrimage? What if I don't bring back something important? I know its not really necessary anymore and that the whole thing is done more out of tradition, but..."
"But you are my daughter. There is no one more prepared or..."
"Or capable to succeed on my Pilgrimage," Ria interrupted with a laugh. "Honestly, Dad. Your motivational speeches are getting a bit predictable."
"Predictable? Ha, you should have heard the motivational material the bootleg VI version of me had. The thing made what I just said a work of poetry by comparison." Shepard replied, joining her laughter with his own. The two laughed and joked as Shepard told his story, before moving on to other tales of his adventures, talking until long after the sun sank below the horizon.
. . . . .
Ria fought against the urge to fidget nervously as she stood before the other members of her community, the settlement's Hesh'alan reciting the traditional ceremony that marks the start of a young quarian's Pilgrimage. Quit acting so nervous, she scolded herself. Everyone is watching you, don't make a fool of yourself.
"Ria'Shepard Nar Rannoch, do you swear to wander the stars and empty night, never to falter or cease until you have completed your task?"
So focused on masking her apprehension, Ria almost missed her cue to speak. "I solemnly swear to wander the stars far from home, only to return once my task is done and I can prove my worth to our people."
"Then may the ancestors watch over you on your journey, Ria'Shepard. Keelah Se'lai."
Stepping down from the podium, Ria began the arduous task of fighting her way through the crowd of neighbors and acquaintances giving her variations of words of encouragement or wishes of good luck. After what seemed like centuries of exchanging polite words to people of various familiarity, Ria finally made it over to where her father and mother stood at the back of the procession.
As she squirmed to break free from the hug her mother crushed her in, Ria felt her father rest a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, you did fine. I don't think anyone else noticed how nervous you were."
"I... you could tell?"
"I am your father, and thus know you well enough to tell when you are trying to act calm. You tend to stand completely still and tense, like you were turned to stone or something." her father laughed. "But as I said, you did fine. We are all proud of you, family, friends, all of us will be here for you even while you are off exploring the galaxy."
There was a beep as the Spectre's omni-tool flashed. "Speaking of friends, that would be Garrus. He was watching from a vid-stream and probably wants to congratulate you personally."
Stepping aside Ria activated her omni-tool as Shepard transferred the incoming call to her. "Uncle Garrus?" Ria said in greeting as a screen appeared, displaying the face or her parent's old friend.
"Hey kid. Congratulations on beginning your Pilgrimage! So, I guess this is the part where I would say it went well, huh. But seeing as how I have never witnessed the ceremony before, I can only assume you did fine. You could have screwed the whole thing up for all I know... don't tell your mother I said that."
"Don't worry Garrus , I will make sure you don't suffer death by a shotgun wielding quarian." Ria chuckled.
"Good to see someone looks out for my well being, your father would probably just sit there and watch."
"Is Tarran there?" Ria asked, referring to Garrus's son.
"He's busy working, C-sec unfortunately wouldn't let him take time off to be here. He did however help me pick out the gift we sent you, and said he will be happy to see you should you come to the Citadel on your Pilgrimage."
"Thank you, I am sure he would be here if he could."
"Well, I better let you go, don't want to keep you here talking all night. See you around kid."
"See you Garrus." Ria said as she ended the call, walking back over to where her parents stood.
Her father nodded at her as she approached. "Now that you have spoken to Garrus we can move on to the most important part of any celebration, the gifts!" Her father grinned, a smile that was cut short as her mother elbowed him hard in the ribs. Rubbing his side he continued. "Well, if I can speak without your mother hurting me, I would tell you that besides her, myself and Garrus; you also received gifts from Liara, Kasumi, and your grandmother."
Opening the gifts meant to both celebrate her 22nd birthday and to aid her in her Pilgrimage, Ria made sure to keep a careful tally of who to thank when she had the chance. From Garrus and Tarran she got a brand-new model of a Phalanx pistol. From Liara a micro-OSD that could be easily concealed and doubled as a tracking device. From Kasumi a hacking and bypass module for her omni-tool. From her grandmother, the now retired Admiral Hanna Shepard, she received a military-grade kinetic barrier generator. From her mother she got a new and heavily upgraded and modified nexus omni-tool, which showed extensive modifications she no doubt made herself.
Setting the gifts aside she picked up the last unopened one, which was concealed in a simple brown box. "Sorry, I didn't have time to wrap it." Ria nearly jumped as her father spoke from where he stood behind her.
"No, its fine." Ria said as she opened the box. Looking inside she found a well-worn Vindicator assault rifle, evidence of extensive repairs and modifications apparent even at a glance. Despite its obvious age the weapon was in beautiful condition from a functionality standpoint, its numerous upgrades and modifications attesting to its effectiveness were it to be used.
"But this... this is..." Ria said faintly, surprise clear in her voice.
"Is my old rifle, same one I used throughout my fight with the collectors and in the Reaper War." Shepard replied, finishing her statement.
"You're really giving it to me?" she asked, still a bit shocked.
"Of course. That gun served me well throughout more danger and life or death battles then I can count. I feel safer knowing that you will have it with you. I know, sentimental and all, but..."
Whatever he was going to say was cut off as Ria lunged to embrace him. "Thank you. It means a lot. I promise to keep it safe." Ria said, blinking back tears.
She felt him return her embrace as he replied "I just want you to promise me something in return. I am not foolish enough to ask you to stay out of trouble, I would have better luck asking a krogan to become a pacifist. Instead I just want you to promise me you won't do anything too risky."
Hesh'alan: Once referred to the captain of a ship in the Migrant Fleet, this title is now is given to the leader of any given city or settlement on Rannoch. Literal translation is "guide of my life".
Realk: The traditional decorative-cloth hood quarians wear over their suits.
This is my first attempt at writing fan fiction, so any reviews, suggestions, comments, or other feedback is greatly appreciated.
I came about writing this story initially as a result of the endings for Mass Effect 3. Like many others I was disappointed with the endings, and began writing my own endings to give myself some closure and to help get over my own depression regarding the end of the series. However, given the very large number of alternative endings also made at this time, and due to my ending not being all that different from what others have made, I decided against publishing it.
Even though I decided to not do anything with my alternate ending, I began thinking about what would happen after, what events or stories could take place years after the events of Mass Effect 3. Idea for a story began to from in my mind, idea which eventually became the story I will now try to tell/
This story take place after the alternate ending I have previously thought up. While I do plan to eventually go back, finish, and publish my alternate ending, the details of which are unimportant and largely irrelevant for this story save that the Mass Relays were not destroyed and the Reapers were defeated in a different manner then the three choices given in the ending (thought the crucible did exist, as did the starchild). Well, enough rambling, lets begin this thing. Revival
Quarian language and cultural elements have been borrowed heavily from Calinstel's To Survive Series and Tairis Deamhan's Razor's Edge Series, so all credit for these elements goes to them.