A Mass Effect fanfiction by Andrew Joshua Talon

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit fan based work of prose. The Mass Effect series is the property of Bioware and EA Games. Please support the official release.

Based off of the "The Airlock is Ajar" snippet thread on Space Battles dot com, this is a oneshot I wrote.

The shuttle came to the smoothest landing Shepard had ever recalled it making. Not that their usual pilot was bad, but the Kodiak wasn't exactly what you'd call graceful. She got her passengers up or down in one piece, and that was it.

Under Joker's hands though, the Kodiak came down like a feather in a skilled biotic's mass effect field, rather than like a slight aerodynamic rock.

She looked to him now, sitting in the pilot's seat, eyes resolutely on the controls as he powered down. Slowly, his eyes rose to take in the outside through the forward screens. He sucked in a breath, and his hands slid past the holographic control interface to the armrests.

Shepard looked over her shoulder, and brushed some of her hair out of her eyes. "Garrus, Liara, do a sweep of the colony. Make sure it's secure."

Garrus nodded, understanding her intentions perfectly. Liara did as well, and the two left the ship without another word. Shepard held out a hand to Joker. She looked him in the eyes.

"Are you sure you want to-?" She asked, but his expression didn't change. She nodded, and slowly she helped him out of the seat.

The colony was empty. The destruction left by the Reapers was minor, at least in terms of material damage. The two of them, Shepard and Joker, walked down the central street. Lining it were prefabricated modules for habitation that all Alliance colonies started with, interspersed with houses made of bricks processed from the local materials. It was an eclectic mix to be sure, but no more unusual than many other colonies Shepard had been to.

It took Jeff's eyes and words to show her more to it.

"... That was Danny Gumble's house, he was my best friend growing up. We used to run around, right in those fields over there, before the syndrome got too bad..."

She looked where he pointed, nodded and listened as he continued, but her focus was mainly on Jeff's face.

"... The mayor built a fountain right in the center, said he got the idea from Ancient Rome. To make a single gathering place with water we pumped ourselves. It was nice not to have to have the recycled stuff, but it was always a little lopsided..."

He seemed like he wanted so desperately to smile, to fall back into nostalgia as he took in his home. But like Earth, it wasn't what he remembered. Still, he clung to those memories, speaking about everything he could as they walked the dead colony.

"... We convinced Sari Pagrin that if she ate the fruit from that tree she'd get superpowers. We got in so much trouble when she tried jumping off the roof..."

They made it to the cemetery. The one thing the Reapers hadn't done anything with. Jeff turned his eyes over the holographic gravemarkers. His voice trembled a little.

"It-It was kind of rough at first, apparently. A lot of people died of some sickness before my mom was even born. The cemetery, they said it was the first permanent thing on Tiptree... It..." He trailed off, staring intently at the graves. He reached up and pulled off his ever present SR2 cap, and ran his hand over his short hair.

"It was the cornerstone," he said finally. "Death gave way to life, that's... That's what my grandma always said..."

Shepard wrapped her arms around her pilot. He started, looking at her in surprise. She smiled at him and pulled him into a hug-Not too tight, of course, but enough.

"She was right," Shepard said softly.

Just a short bit I thought you might enjoy.