Hey, I'm back. Sorry for the brief hiatus but I needed to figure out where this story was going. I have a game plan now and my ideas for the most part sorted out. I want to thank my old readers for their patience (you all rock) and I want to welcome new readers and thank you for checking my story out. The prologue and Chapter One are the same but I'll be adding new chapters and re-uploading old chapters as time goes on. And for those wondering, I am going to be working on separate Garrus/Liara and Kaidan/Jack stories as I promised, but it will be a while before either are posted. Baby steps and all that.

Name: Nick Shepard

Class: Vanguard

Pre-Service History: Colonist

Psych Profile: War Hero

Paragon

Love Interest: Tali

Mass Effect is owned by Bioware


Mass Effect: Peace at Last

Prologue

Nick Shepard's chest burned as he made his mad dash towards the beam.

Keep pushing. Almost there.

Shepard looked back behind him to Javik and Tali. The Prothean was on the commander's heels. Shepard could see the fire in his eyes, a five thousand year quest for vengeance nearly done. Tali was lagging a bit but was managing to keep up.

"Commander, Harbinger will be there any second!" Joker urgently spoke through Shepard's communicator. "You need to get to the beam quick!"

"I know!" Shepard shouted, very annoyed. He heard a Reaper's cry and looked up to see Harbinger charging its beam. "Move! Move!" Shepard shouted to his team. The three ran faster, their legs feeling like they were about to fall off. A beam shot to their left and Shepard spared a quick glance to see a Mako explode killing a few soldiers. Harbinger landed off to the right, still firing its laser.

Shepard looked ahead. They were close. It was almost over.

Then why do I get the feeling this is where we crash and burn? No! Can't think like that. Not now!

Shepard noticed Harbinger fire its laser. He pushed himself harder. His teammates followed suit. Shepard dived into the beam just as Harbinger's laser struck behind him.

Shepard found himself diving into the Citadel. He looked around. He didn't know where he was. He'd never seen this hall before. Corpses were laid about the sides of the hallway and a couple of Keepers at their terminals seemingly ignorant of their surroundings. It didn't take much to disgust Shepard, but right now, he felt like hurling. Then a thought hit him.

"Tali! Javik!" he shouted as he looked back. He saw his team looking at the hall. Javik only glared at the repulsive sight not bothering to acknowledge Shepard. Tali was just staring, probably with a look of horror if Shepard knew her. Her head snapped to Shepard when he spoke. Shepard stood up and faced them.

"Keelah. . .what is this place?" Tali said almost in a whisper. Fear and disgust were in her voice.

"I have seen many atrocities done by the Reapers," Javik spoke, hatred lining his words, "but this is sickening even for them. If I did not know better, I would think they get some sort of sick enjoyment from this."

Suddenly Anderson came out of the beam. He tumbled to the ground clutching his side. Shepard helped him up.

"Anderson?" Shepard asked shock. "Are you alright?"

"I'll be fine Shepard," he replied.

"How did you get up here?"

"My men and I hid behind some debris," Anderson explained. "We waited for Harbinger to leave. When it finally did I told the surviving men to retreat. They were all too wounded to fight. I came up alone hoping I'd run into you." Anderson looked around, his eyes widening at what he saw. "What happened here?"

"Reaper forces must have left them to die," Shepard said.

"Could they be saving them for processing later?" Anderson asked.

"Where would they process them? And why just leave them here to rot?"

"Maybe they take them where the Keepers are made?" Tali suggested.

"This all speculation," Javik interjected. The other three looked at him in surprise. "We are here to stop the Reapers. Save those who are still alive. The dead are beyond our help."

"I hate to admit it but he's right," said Shepard. "We have a job to finish."

"Right," agreed Anderson. "Let's get those arms opened."

The four of them walked until they reached a large opened room. Opposite them was a control panel. Behind that was an enormous window. They could see Earth in the distance as the Reapers battled Sword.

"There's a panel," Anderson said. He walked over to the panel followed by Javik. Suddenly, they stopped frozen in their tracks. Shepard looked back at Tali. She was frozen too. He looked back to Javik and Anderson. He tried to walk forward. His legs didn't move. He tried to move his arms but with no success. He couldn't even wiggle his fingers.

"Wh-what is th-this?" Shepard managed to ask. Even speaking suddenly became a chore.

"That it but a taste of the powers we can obtain from the Reapers," answered a voice all too familiar to Shepard. The Illusive Man walked out. How'd he get here? Was he waiting for us? His face and necked covered in cybernetics, the result of indoctrination. "You l-look like S-Saren," spat Shepard.

"No," replied the Illusive Man, "I am nothing like Saren. Saren sought to unite with the Reapers. Subject all of us to their reign. He was weak and was fooled into believing we could coexist with them. He ultimately found out he was wrong. No, my goals are much more realistic. I understand we can't live alongside them." He looked over to Shepard. "But I also understand the foolishness of destroying them."

"You're the fool," Shepard said still struggling to speak. "You h-honestly think you can c-control them. Th-they are millennia beyond us. Th-they wouldn't f-fall to a mere human. L-least of all the likes of y-you."

"Don't try and get me worked up, Commander," said the Illusive Man almost laughing, "it won't work. Nothing you say will."

"Why are you doing this, human?" asked Javik. He seemed to have less trouble speaking then Shepard. "The Reapers will destroy us all if we stand divided. That w-was the mistake of my cycle. D-do not let it be the mistake of yours as well."

"The mistake was thinking we could destroy them at all," argued the Illusive Man. "As Shepard said they are beyond us. We can't hope to destroy them. But I've been able to control them before. You saw Sanctuary. You saw what I was able to do!" His voice sounded almost crazed.

"S-Sanctuary w-was a h-horrid d-display of torture," said Tali struggling to speak worse than Shepard was. "Y-you claim to f-fight for h-humanity, yet you b-betray it at e-every turn."

"You're p-projects at Sanctuary failed anyway," Shepard added. "You're only fooling yourself."

"But I had control for a brief moment. I know I can control them for good!"

"You're deluded," said Anderson. "I pity you."

"I have enough of your stubborn defiance!" shouted the Illusive Man. "I am in control! I will show you." Suddenly, Shepard felt his hand pull out his Phalanx and point it at Anderson.

"Sh-Shepard?" Anderson asked surprised. "W-what are you doing?"

"I-it isn't me!" answered Shepard.

"Resist Commander!" said Javik.

"Y-you are s-stronger than him, Shepard," assured Tali. "You can d-defy him."

"Fools," laughed the Illusive Man. "Even in your final moments you defy the inevitable. I will show you the error of your ways." He waved his hand casually and stood there smiling as if waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, he looked at Shepard in surprise. "I don't understand. You were supposed to shoot Anderson, Shepard. Why didn't you?"

Shepard didn't answer. It was taking every ounce of will power to not pull the trigger. He knew he couldn't resist for long. Summoning all his strength, he pointed his gun at the Illusive Man. Shepard could feel the Illusive Man try and make him point the gun at Anderson. He resisted. He needed to. He wasn't going to lose another friend to Cerberus.

"How are you doing this Shepard?" the Illusive Man asked through clenched teeth. "You can't resist! I-"

He was interrupted as a shot from Shepard pistol firing echoed through the room. The Illusive Man fell to the ground with a bullet wound between his eyes.

"Just shut up," Shepard murmured. Immediately, the four of them regained control over their bodies. Anderson walked over to the control panel and opened the Citadel arms. He put his finger up to his ear.

"Hackett, it's Anderson," he said into his communicator. "The Illusive Man is dead and the Citadel arms are opening. Activate the Crucible."

"Copy that, Anderson," replied Hackett. "It is being activated as we speak."

Soon after, the Crucible attached itself to the Citadel. Shepard and his group couldn't see it but he felt a small tremor as the two enormous structures were linked. Suddenly the control panel was projecting a new display. Anderson looked it over.

"I can't read it," he stated. "I'm not familiar with the language." The other three approached and looked at the display.

"It is Prothean," Javik explained.

"Yeah. I recognize it," said Shepard. "It's instructions on how to turn the Catalyst on." He looked over at Javik. "Would you like to do the honors?"

The Prothean shook his head slowly. "No, Commander, this is your cycle. It should be you to activate it."

"What about your revenge?"

"Watching the Reapers burn will be more than enough," he answered almost smiling. He stood aside as Shepard approached and punched in the commands. Numbers began to appear and seemed to be counting down.

"It says it's going to take a couple minutes to activate."

"We can hold out," assured Anderson.

"Shepard, Anderson, come in. Do you copy?" Hackett's voice sounded urgent as he spoke.

"We copy," replied Shepard. "What's the situation?"

"A Reaper just separated itself from the battle and is headed towards the Citadel."

Harbinger. It has to be. "Sir, it's Harbinger. You need to hold it off; the Catalyst needs time to charge."

"Understood." Shepard's group looked out the window to see Harbinger approach. To the right they saw the Normandy leading a group of ten fighters at Harbinger. The ships fired their beams at the Reaper distracting it. Harbinger tried to fire at its attackers but was outmaneuvered. One last time Harbinger charged its beam. The Normandy and the fighters saw their chance and fired their Thanix cannons at the Reaper. Harbinger gave out a final cry as it exploded.

"About time," Shepard stated. Tali hugged him as Javik and Anderson looked on smiling. However, unbeknownst to them the Illusive Man's corpse started to mutate. His skin became pale, his hair fell out, he grew taller and lankier, claws appeared at the ends of his fingers, and more cybernetics appeared all over his body. He stood up and ran towards Shepard. Javik noticed just in time as the Illusive Man tried to jab his claws into Shepard.

"Look out, Commander!" Javik shouted as he pushed him out of the way, taking the Illusive Man's fatal blow.

"Javik!" shouted Shepard.

"Foolish Prothean," said the Illusive Man. His voice sounded like a cross between his and Harbinger's voices. "Now your species is truly dead."

"Harbinger?" asked Shepard.

"Yes," replied Harbinger as he dropped Javik. "You were a fool to think I could be so easily dispatched. I will show you the error of your ways." He ran to Shepard but was met with a round from Tali's shotgun to his side.

"I don't think so," said Tali. Shepard finally caught his bearings as he pulled out his own shotgun and fired at Harbinger. It recoiled from the blast. Shepard got up and tried to hit it with a biotic punch, but Harbinger jumped out of the way and stood in the center of the room. Shepard hit Harbinger with a biotic charge almost knocking it off its feet. Tali and Anderson fired their pistols at it but did little damage. A point blank shot from Shepard's shotgun knocked it back a bit further. Harbinger knocked Shepard's gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground.

"Enough, Shepard," he said. "This war is over. You cannot defy me. Accept de-augh!" It grunted as Chiktikka hit it with electric shocks. Harbinger roared in annoyance as he wiped out the drone with one swing. He looked back a Shepard only to hind his pistol pointed at its face. Shepard pulled the trigger as he fired into Harbinger's eyes. The creature recoiled in pain as Shepard managed to get back on his feet. His body was glowing as biotic energy rushed through him.

"No!" he shouted as he punched Harbinger's face. "You give up!" He punched Harbinger's chest. "You give in!" He punched its face again. "You accept defeat!" He grabbed Harbinger by the throat and through him over the side of the floor they were standing on. Harbinger grabbed the edge with its hands. Shepard stood over it. He shoved the creature's left hand off the edge with his foot and stood on the fingers of its right hand pressing down hard.

"You cannot do this!" Harbinger stated. "We provide order to your chaos! We are your salvation! We are your future!"

"We'll decide our own future, thanks," replied Shepard as he shoved Harbinger's remaining hand off of the edge. The creature shouted as it fell into the seemingly endless depths below. He looked over at the others and saw Tali holding Javik in her arms and Anderson standing above them. Shepard ran over to them and knelt by Javik. The Prothean had five large gashes across his chest where Harbinger struck him. "We'll get you out of here, Javik."

"No, Commander," replied the Prothean weakly. "My time has come. I am ready to join my people." Shepard was about to argue when he heard a beeping noise coming from the control panel. He looked out the window to see the Reapers being shocked by mysterious white electricity and suddenly explode. Javik smiled as he watched his hated enemies burn. "It is over. My mission is complete. Farewell, Commander. May your cycle find peace that has eluded so many before it." Tears started to well in Shepard's eyes as the last Prothean gave his final breath.

"Goodbye, Javik. It was an honor."

Tali carefully lay Javik down as Shepard stood up and walked towards the window. Anderson stood to his left and Tali to his right. She wrapped her arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder.

"It's finally over," she said relieved.

"You did good, son," said Anderson looking at Shepard with a smile. "You did real good."

"Thank you, sir," answered Shepard. A small smile crept on his face as he watched the Reapers finally die.

Peace at last.


Thanks for reading!