Binary star definition from Wikipedia (slightly edited). Mass Effect belongs to Bioware.
This is a post-ME3 fanfic, mostly canon-compliant, but slightly AU when it comes to some, usually minor, details.
Chapter titles are definitions derived from physics and astronomy.
I'd like to thank Selene for talking me into writing this ff, continuously motivating me to finish this, consulting some plot aspects and bravely enduring the so called creative process (than means bearing with countless texts concerning one or another insignificant plot detail).
/Codex entry: Binary star
A binary star is a star system consisting of two stars orbiting around their common centre of mass. The brighter star is called the primary and the other is its companion star, comes /ˈkoʊmiːz/, or secondary. Research proves that many stars are part of either binary star systems or star systems with more than two stars, called multiple star systems.
The term double star may be used synonymously with binary star, but more generally, a double star may be either a binary star or an optical double star which consists of two stars with no physical connection, but which appear close together in the sky as seen from the Earth.
Binary stars are classified into four types according to the way in which they are observed:
1. visually, by observation;
2. spectroscopically, by periodic changes in spectral lines;
3. photometrically, by changes in brightness caused by an eclipse;
4. astrometrically, by measuring a deviation in a star's position caused by an unseen companion.
Any binary star can belong to several of these classes; for example, several spectroscopic binaries are also eclipsing binaries.
A binary star system whose component stars are so close that they touch each other or have merged to share their gaseous envelopes is called a contact binary. Contact binaries are sometimes confused with common envelopes. However, whereas the latter refers to a dynamically unstable phase in binary evolution which either expels the stellar envelope or merges the binary in a timescale of months to years, the first describes a stable configuration of two touching stars in a binary with a typical lifetime of millions to billions of years./
She stirs as the comm cracks and hums. Is someone calling her?
"All fleets! The Crucible is armed! I repeat, the Crucible is armed. Disengage and head to the rendezvous point."
It is difficult to believe they made it, that this is over. She tries to move, but it proves impossible.
"Shepard?"There is an edge to the voice. Worry. "Commander!"
"I..." She tries to speak, but no sound comes out. Her throat is too dry, her head spins, her muscles ache, her right hand is warm with drying blood and when she attempts to open her eyes an inferno erupts beneath her eyelids. Each breath burns, and she feels the weight of rubble pinning her body to the ground. It takes all her strength to make her whisper audible. "I'm... here... It's... Shepard... Here..."
"Commander?" The question in quiet, the voice having lost all its force. Tired. Defeated.
"Admiral?..." She curses the damn comm, willing it to work, for this last time. "Admiral Hackett!"
There is no answer.
Dammit. Dammit! The adrenaline is worn out by now, and all the fear and stress of the last hours crush upon her. The realisation sets in slowly: she will die here. Wounded, alone. And it will take time. She bites her lip. Dammit... After all the times she has pushed her luck to the limits, it has finally run out. This is the end. Tears prickle at her eyes.
The comm cracks again.
"I repeat, disengage and get the hell out of here." There is steel in his voice again. "Damn it, Moreau, that was a bloody order!"
But they made it. Thank God, they made it. Soon they will be away from the Crucible, somewhere safer, maybe even safe. Alive. The price she is paying is fair.
"And... not to... yield..." she whispers, just before she slips into the merciful darkness.
The darkness seems soft and floating around her, like an ocean, and she is drowning. She tries to move again, but it feels as if her mind is no longer connected to her body, and so she gives up, lying back into the dark and listening. There is a soft, muffled humming sound, and, from somewhere far away, echo of voices.
"Stand fast, stand strong."
"You did good, child. You did good."
"It is now in your power to destroy us."
A blast of light pulsing underneath her eyelids. Warm liquid trickling down her temple: blood. She has to... What? She cannot remember; her thought are blurring at the edges.
Dimmed sound of footsteps, of something moving, a flash of lightning. The Crucible...
A single voice, quiet, but clear.
"Godspeed to you, Commander."
She has to get the Crucible working, she has to get up...
Shepard opens her eyes, and all she sees is darkness. Only then does she remember. The Crucible is destroyed, and, hopefully, the Reapers and their technology with it... She tries to get up and almost bites her tongue when a searing pain explodes along her spine. She opens her mouth in a desperate attempt to breathe... and feels air, warm, tasting slightly of smoke, but air nonetheless.
She hears footsteps again, closer.
"Over here..." She tries to shout, but her voice comes out hoarse and barely audible. "Over... here..."
Then it dawns on her. She is still on the Citadel, alone, buried under a pile of debris. The Alliance Fleet – if the Alliance has any ships left – is at the rendez-vous point. That will be... she tries in vain to remember what Hackett has mentioned about that part of the plan. Dammit. Frustrated, she bangs her fist on something, a metal plate, judging by the sound.
"Over here!" comes a cry. "We have a survivor here!"
"Or a trap." The second voice sounds familiar.
Shepard moves her hand again, knocking frantically at the piece of metal.
Someone lifts the debris cautiously and there is a crack as it proves too heavy and falls to the ground, a few inches from her, fortunately.
"Hey, doc, over here, quick!"
Shepard wants to protest when someone tries to help her sit up, but only a quiet moan leaves her lips. Speaking is too difficult. And probably that is all just a delusion, so why bother?
"Don't move her!" Again that familiar voice. Male, crisp. "Out of my way. What the hell happen-... Shepard?" Far older than she remembers.
"Doc?" she manages to ask, or at least thinks that was a question.
"Don't try to speak. Holy shit... Guys, help me get her up. Not get up like in up and walking, moron! Go find a door, a ceiling panel... Now! Theresa, stay with me. Do you hear me? Don't even try to fall asleep! Theresa!"
It is a formidable effort, but she opens her eyes again. Her vision is hazy, just blurred shapes in darker and lighter shades of gray, melting away at the edges. God, I hope it's all just a delusion...
Something is wrong with her eyes.