I finished ME3 a few weeks ago and i finally realized what all the fuss was about the ending. Where ME2 left me with a range of epic emotions, this game left me feeling incomplete. i don't know if they wanted to eliminate the possibility of having to make another mass effect completely or what but that ending was bad. so i wrote this story. it's really centered on Shep/Miranda with an alternate ME3 ending. so without further adu, read on :)

*A/N: if you didn't have a romance with Miranda i'd suggest watching the final conversation scene here /watch?v=BbRir_qxsI0 since it may have differed.


Then finish this, Shepard. And find me.

"Miranda…"

The name was coarse as they escaped Shepard's lips. They were cracked and covered in dry blood, probably his own, and he could taste dirt as he inhaled. Slowly he began to regain his senses, the first of which was feeling pain all throughout his body. Next he realized he was surrounded by darkness and his left leg was pinned down. "..ugh.." Gathering the strength he had left Shepard grasped a piece of rubble above his head and pushed hard. It took a few moments but eventually the rock gave way and tumbled away allowing sunlight to shine through the small opening.

Shepard took in a deep, regenerating breath of fresh air as the sun continued to beam down on him. It was a sun that he didn't think he was going to see only a few hours ago. Though considering he didn't know how long he had been unconscious a few hours could be a couple days. Slowly but surely Sherpard removed the rubble that was encasing him. There was no way for him to tell the time of day since when he finally freed his pinned leg dusk was settling in.

When he tried to move himself from the heap the Commander was made aware of just how badly injured he was. Immediately his body gave out, causing him to tumble down the small pile of rubble. Given all the work he had put into freeing himself, the exhaustion wasn't helping. "Alright Shepard, you've been in worst situations. Pull yourself together" he muttered, trying for self-motivation as he placed his hands on the ground. Unfortunately that was easier said than done. There was no doubt that he had more than a few broken ribs and definitely one bad leg, if he was lucky. Not to mention the blood loss he had suffered on the Citadel.

Find me.

Her voice ringing through his head was like water in a drought. It replenished him, gave him renewed motivation and strength. He didn't even get the chance to touch her skin one last time before he left, there was no way he was going to die here now.

With a groan he looked around for someone or something, anything. That anything was granted when his eyes fell on a piece of twisted metal. It wasn't much but it'd do for now. Shepard quickly utilized it as a walking staff, using it to pick himself up and put as much weight on it as he could to salvage his better leg. "Hello? Can anyone hear me? Come in?!" the response he received was sparks in his ear. "Dammit." The comm. was fried which meant his only hope was to find the nearest city. A quick glance around the area told him that wasn't going to be easy.

The Reapers had attacked the cities, and while some towers would have fallen, most would still be a burning heap or so he assumed. The fact that he saw none burning or intact was not reassuring. Most of the smaller cities had been abandon for shelter and seeing as he didn't know which part of the world he was on that just made his task that much harder. 'Things were never easy before. Glad to see that's consistant' he thought as he began his trek in a northeast direction, using the fading sun as a guide until the stars came out.

The Commander finally collapsed some time later. It was dark and the stars combined with the burning remnants of the battle lighted the sky. He had made it a few kilometers at most and that might be a generous assumption. As he slid to the ground, he couldn't help but think of the last events he had remembered.

"Shepard! The Crucible is docked but nothing's happening. It must be something on your end"

The voice of Admiral Hackett stirred Shepard into action. He took one last look at his fallen mentor and friend, Anderson, and began to claw his way towards the control panel. They had come too far to fall short now, he was going to fire this thing even if it took his last breath. When he finally reached the panel Shepard looked at it through hazy eyes, barely able to hold himself up.

"Shepard, you better do something quick or we're going to have to pull back. We're losing this battle! Commander, do you read me?!"

His eyes moved over the control panel frantically before finally spotting the blinking initiation button. "I've…got it…" he muttered a barely audible response. His finger moved weakly towards the key, with the last of his strength he pressed down hard. His ears registered a confirmation sound but his body was already collapsing onto the ground. Peering out with a sideways point of view, he watched as a blue aura began to build up at the point of the Crucible. The Citadel began shaking violently as the energy built up.

Then in one moment everything exploded. A blue wave of energy washed over him, sending tingling sensations along his skin but he could barely feel them anymore. A wry smile made it's way to Shepard's face as he slipped into unconsciousness. "Mission accomplished, Sir."

Find Me.

The warmth of the sun woke him up from his slumber and memories. Again his thoughts were filled with Miranda's last words and his promise that he would find her. "Alright Shepard, let's get it together. You aren't going to last long under this sun."

His self-talk brought about the truth that the legendary Commander Shepard who survived the Reapers would die from a mix of dehydration, starvation, and whatever other ailments he was currently suffering from. It was a pathetic way to go out but a growing reality he had to face.

That was when salvation came.

A familiar whirling brought his attention to the present. Having been around ships his entire life he knew the familiar sound immediately. That sound meant rescue, that sound meant survival. Grabbing his metal staff he slowly pulled himself up and looked to the west, hoping the craft would be flying low enough to spot him. Surely it was out here looking for survivors?

"Hey!" the words formed in his head only came out as a hoarse whisper. Shepard quickly resorted to waving his arms frantically, doing his best to stand tall.

Just as his flailing seemed to be doing no good his vision was blinded by a white spotlight. Shepard covered his eyes as he heard the repulsors of the craft slowing signaling its decent. The last thing he could remember before slipping into unconsciousness was the sight of Earth soldiers running out of the craft towards him.

"He's waking!"

There was a sense of déjà vu running through John Shepard as his eyes fluttered open. His vision was blurry but he could just make out the a black haired figure standing over him. "Miranda…?" As his sight cleared the figure transformed into an older woman in doctor fatigues. Shattering the fleeting hope that had passed through him.

"The patient is seizing!"

The sensation of convulsing went through him as more doctors filled his vision right before darkness captured him again.

When his eyes opened again he was grateful to see that it wasn't all a hallucination brought on by the heat. He was no longer stuck in the wasteland of the Earth. Instead he was laying on a hospital bed, one that had a magnificent view and let in natural light as well. It was the first time he was seeing natural light on the Earth since the Reapers blackened the sky. It was a reminded that they had done it. They defeated the Reaper army.

Find Me.

Shepard's eyes shot to the door expectantly as it hissed open only to see the aging but refreshing face of Admiral Hackett. "We thought we lost you son." His voice was warm and not filled with the war strain that it had been over the last few months.

"I wasn't going to let the Reapers get the last laugh, sir" Shepard replied, pleased to hear his vocal cords working properly again. "How long have I been out?" He moved to sit up more but was stopped by a hand on his soldier.

"No need for that, Shepard. You earned your right to relax around me" the Commander gave a grateful nod and slumped back into his bed. "Before we found you, you had been MIA for two days. With all the rehydrating and patching up they had to do, it was another three…You're probably wondering if we really did it" Hackett paused before letting a smile that Shepard couldn't remember seeing cross his features. "We did. You did. More than save the Earth, or the Citadel, you saved the galaxy Shepard. Every living being owes their life to you."

For a moment he let the weight of that statement sink in. John Shepard, Savior of the Galaxy. The title seemed too big for him. "We lost a lot of good men over the past few months. They're the ones who should get a statue. The women and children who died are the ones that should be remembered."

Hackett let out a slight chuckle, patting his shoulder again. "You're too modest for your own good, son. But you are right.." a grim look come of his expression as he turned to gaze out the window. "Everyone's lost something. Billions gone from the galaxy. But hopefully this mutual loss can unite us now like we weren't before. Everyone's hurting now, so we need to heal together too."

Shepard nodded, looking at the older man and leader. "You know if we had people like you on the council we all might be better off."

Another chuckle came from him as he glanced over at the Commander, "Don't let command here you say that. The last thing I need to do is sit in an office all day."

"My lips are sealed, sir" Shepard smiled and watched the Admiral head towards the exit. "Sir…what about my crew?"

"Everyone aboard the Normandy is alive and accounted for. They crash landed in the southern tip of Africa. Our crews were able to find them easy enough. I'm sure they'll be glad to hear you're up. Joker especially" John allowed a smile to show at the thought. The people who he had been through so much with…it was good to know they had made it to the end with him and come out through the other side of the tunnel.

"Uh, sir…this may sound strange but I was hoping you could help me find a woman. Miranda Lawson."

Hackett was still for a moment, his brow furrowed in thought as he racked his brain. He had met and worked with so many people over the last few months, specifics were hard to come by. "The Ex-Cerberus woman, right?" Shepard nodded affirmative, holding his breath. "Yes, she's turned out to be a useful asset. She's been coordinating the rescue efforts across the planet."

A relieved sigh came from John. She was alive, and on the planet! But did she even know he was here? If so, why wasn't she the first one to see him? "Thank you, Admiral."

He gave a knowing smile before moving towards the exit, "I'll let you get your rest Shepard, but I expect a report in the morning" his last words had the hint of a playful tone to them as he walked out the hissing doors and they slid shut behind him.

For the first time John let the reality of the situation wash over him. There was no pain detracting from his ability to appreciate the truth. They had defeated the Reapers, once and for all. He was always cautious to make a finite statement like that nowadays, but this truly felt right. The greater threat that hung over the galaxy was finally extinguished. To finally have a sense of peace seemed like a completely new concept after all these years…Yet he still couldn't celebrate. Not until he held her in his arms again.