One long year has passed. One excruciatingly long year since the ancient sentient beings known as 'the Reapers' have been destroyed. A year filled with joy of being alive, relief of seeing loved ones survived, grief for those whose life were lost and joined effort from the allied species to rebuild what has been destroyed. But most of the time, it was a celebration, a celebration for the end of the mother of all wars, The Reaper War.
For someone else it was a year of worry. Liara T'Soni had spent the entire year at the bedside of her lover, Commander Julia Shepard. The blue-skinned lady had of course lend a hand here and there, but most of the time, she could be found tracing invisible pattern on her bond mates hand with her fingers, never once breaking contact.
The doctors had told her that they didn't know when 'the Hero' would wake up, if she would wake up at all. Her wounds were catastrophic, to say the least. What was left of her armor was burned onto her skin, the rest of her flesh was covered with third degree burns, every bone in the human body was either broken or shattered and if that was not enough, she had enough lacerations and bullet wounds that should have killed half a platoon. One wound, on the left side of her abdomen was rumored large enough to bring down a full grown Krogan.
Because of all the injuries, it was a complete surprise that after a mere 3 months, most of the damage was completely gone, not even leaving a scar, the doctors started a research about her. When after 6 months there was not even a sign on her body that she had been in a war, let alone probably the most fatally wounded of all the soldiers that fought, the doctors finished their research, Julia Shepard was a monster. Not even a Krogan would have survived all of that, let alone recover so quickly.
Liara on the other hand was not quite so surprised. She had seen firsthand what the human Commander was capable of, had to withstand and was able to survive. She did however agree that she was a walking miracle, probably because of the Cerberus/Reaper-based implants. Liara made a mental note to thank Miranda again.
The blue skinned woman just came back from her talk with the head physician about his weekly check up when she saw the beautiful emerald eyes she loved so much darting around confused; no doubt trying to figure out where she was. The Asari was at her side instantly. She put herself in direct line of sight, reassuring the human that she was safe.
Tear filled eyes met each other, both women unable to do anything but gaze upon one another. Julia was the first to break the silence, croaking out "Hey there", but pouted when she noticed her lack of voice. Not using it for a year will do that.
The archeologist couldn't help but laugh, crying big fat tears in the process. It wasn't really funny, but the release of nerves was long overdue.
"You came back to me" Liara croaked as well. Stupid emotions.
Not wanting to strain her voice any more, Julia used all the strength she could muster and lifted her hand to caress the blue cheek of her lover, hoping that the gentle act combined with all the love she had compressed in one look would relay the message instead of words.
"I'll always come back to you".
More tears were spilled while the need for more contact overcame caution. Their lips met in the gentlest of touches, softly grazing over each other. They breathed in deeply, trying to take in as much as possible from the other. Their lips met once more, harder, more passionate, trying to communicate so many emotions with the one act.
'I missed you.'
'I love you.'
'I'll never let you go'.
Their hands were blindly trying to find each other and when blue finally met pink, the final message was clear.
'Finally whole again.'
The following days went by in a blur for Shepard, the doctors kept fussing over her and all of her surviving crewmembers, no, scratch that, her family came to visit. All but one came to show off their new battle scars or to bring gifts. The best of the best indeed. She giggled a bit, remembering the warning Wrex gave her. Grunt had lost his left arm to a Banshee and wanted it replaced with either a Gatling-gun or a rocket launcher. When the Salarian prosthetic expert refused because of the costs, the clan leader told the young Krogan to ask his mother. Julia was still waiting for her 'son' to ask.
There was only one who didn't survive; Javik. But it was said that he died with a smile on his face, having seen the last of the Reapers fall and his people avenged. Julia was happy for him, he got what he wanted and if anyone deserved it, it was him.
The doctors doubted if the Commander was really of human nature and not secretly a super Krogan in disguise, when after two weeks with physical therapy, Shepard was already running around. Liara knew how it would go, having seen what her lover had to withstand and survive these past four years. But she agreed on one thing though, Shepard's regenerative abilities were monstrous.
Updating Julia about the last year was quite peculiar. The fact that the Mass Relays were gone was no surprise, the Citadel was partly destroyed, that she did find strange. For some reason, only two arms and the Citadel tower were…missing. No further structural damage, but the three appendages of the former Reaper structure were simply…gone and nobody had even got an idea as to why.
The Geth had been deactivated for nearly two months, before some kind of back-up was activated and the Geth units rebooted. They had no recollection of the conclusion of the battle or the two months following up, but luckily they were aware of their new inter-galactic relations. The full fleet of the Geth would have easily decimated what was left over of the other races if they were to forget that they were 'allies' now.
Joker was smart enough to do the same as the Geth; make a copy. Thanks to him, EDI survived the war and Joker still has his…girlfriend.
The Quarian fleet had made an amazing contribution; they had brought several life ships with them, having no idea how long the battle would take. With half of their fleet and half the fleet of the Turians destroyed, they were able to provide minimum rations to the dextro-animos. It wouldn't last forever though, so several projects on Earth were already started to provide for the two races. It was helpful to have the most brilliant people in the universe gathered in one place.
There was another large scale project that was ongoing; however it wasn't progressing as smoothly as the other. When inspecting the wreckage of the Mass relays, scientists came to the conclusion that the mysterious device had fallen apart, rather than destroyed. The problem was that nobody knew exactly how to put it together.
It only picked up three months ago, when the communication system was somewhat repaired and other systems were able to exchange again. Only then was a previously much ignored voice, able to send an interesting dossier. Matriarch Aethyta had been sending research teams to investigate the Mass Relays for the last 200 years. The discoveries weren't phenomenal, but it was a hell of a lot more than what they had and provided a basis to work on.
Liara even laughed when explaining the conversation where she heard her father head butt a prominent member of Asari High Command when she kept interrupting.
When after one month Shepard had recovered enough strength to walk a whole day without collapsing, she decided it was time to report to both the Council and Admiral Hackett, now being the de facto leader of humanity. They had waited (quite impatiently at that) for her debrief for quite some time. The only reason they hadn't jumped her already was the fact that her door was constantly guarded by two or three Krogans. Clan Urdnot was a good friend to have. Wrex and Grunt were quite protective of their sister/mother and anybody that didn't seem to be a nurse or doctor didn't get within 20 feet of the door.
Commander Julia Shepard left her room to go to the brass when she found her whole squad waiting to accompany her. Not a single face, save one, was missing. From Urdnot Wrex of the first tour, to James Vega of the last. Together they made their way to the conference room that the Council had 'secured' for her debriefing.
Shepard would have never guessed the repairs were coming this far along. Sure, she couldn't see the whole world from the few windows that she passed, but what she could see looked promising. The rubble that she remembered from when she touched down in London was gone, several new buildings stood tall and even a few construction sites could be seen. It seemed that the combined brain of the Quarians and the Salarians worked very well with the strength of the Krogan and the Geth. Of course, there were still more than enough signs of ruins and buildings almost falling apart, but still, the rebuild was astounding.
The woman's thoughts were interrupted when a dozen or so guards came into view. A pair of every major surviving race stood in front of the large double door she was to enter. Krogan, Turian, Quarian, Human, Asari, Salarian and even a Drell were the races standing vigilant at that door.
"Oh fuck" Shepard cursed out loud. Garrus wanted to give her a reassuring smile, but realizing that the gesture may not be understood by the non-Turian he decided to voice it instead.
"Don't worry Shepard, we're right here." He placed a three fingered hand on her shoulder before the female proceeded to open the door.
The large doorway opened up to reveal not only the complete Council, how the hell they even survived was a small thought she had, Admiral Hackett, but also every other reigning monarch, Primarch or whatever. In front of her stood every person of high position she ever helped. The Quarian Admiralty Board, minus Zen, whose toys weren't able to help her in the end, Primarch Victus, she was surprised to see a Geth Prime and a Rachni soldier being present, but was kind of glad for it. It meant they were recognized. She was glad to hear that the Batarian fleet was wiped out; the universe could live without those slaving bastards. Wrex gave her a slap on the back before proceeding to his spot among the leaders, giving her a nod before directing his gaze towards his 'peers'. Admiral Hackett gave her a salute before Sparatus, the Turian councilor, began his questioning.
"So, Commander Shepard, now that you have taken your time to grace us with your presence" he started sarcastically, "could you tell us what the hell happened?" The guy was as annoying as ever.
The arguing started when Hackett and Wrex started to come to her defense, while said commander just tuned out before she started losing her temper. She just saved the galaxy from extinction; didn't she at least deserve some respect when addressed?
After nearly four hours, a very, very livid Commander Shepard stormed out of the conference room, with Wrex not far behind her. If the doors had emotion, they were probably happy that they were opened by the guards before Shepard did it. They would have probably been blown off their hinges by the vanguard. Her crew jumped up at the sight of her and joined her when she walked away. A bit cautious, because everybody knew that that look on her face meant serious business to those that crossed her, even a little. So they silently followed her till they were outside.
It was only then, that the blond took a few deep breaths of cold fresh air, probably for the first time since going up in the Citadel beam, that she visibly calmed down. With one final inhale and a sigh to –probably- release the pent up tension, the woman tuned around to face her crew. Now no longer afraid that one wrong move might break down the wall keeping her anger in check, Shepard motioned her followers to…follow her. They went for a short stroll, ending up in, what most likely was, the garden before the war. Everyone gathering around their leader, they all listened to how the debriefing went.
"So let me get this straight Lola" the hulking Vega started incredulously, "they blame you for the loss of both the Citadel and the Mass Relays, didn't give a word of gratitude for, ya know, saving life as we know it, but you have to give a speech because you are the 'Savior of the Galaxy?!" When his reply was a mere nod, he could only come up with one sentence to address this absurdity. "That's loco."
When the Commander retold her comrades what happened once she went up to the Citadel, the reactions were as expected. Mad about TIM, sad about Anderson and shocked –to say the least- about the Catalyst.
"So" Garrus started, "did they 'dismiss' the claim right away or are they waiting two years before doing that again?" The Turian even mimicked that damn Sparatus.
With a nod of affirmation, the gathered friends could see her getting riled up again. Her eyes and scars started glowing a bright red. Besides Zaeed and the gathered Krogans, who highly appreciated scars, let alone glow in the dark ones, everybody started to tense. Nothing good came from an angry Julia. She visibly calmed down though when Liara placed a hand on her bond mate's, slowly intertwining their fingers. "Are you going to give the speech then?" The blue lover asked.
"I say fu…" Jack quickly looked up and around for any sign of Sanders before continuing "FUCK EM! What they ever do for you?" Many nods confirmed that this was the general feeling; even Samara agreed that this was not to be considered 'fair'. When Shepard's face split apart in a devilish grin of hers, the team knew they HAD to be there.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Two Weeks Later xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
When seemingly the entire population of earth was gathering on Piccadilly Circus, a giant covered structure that was standing on the place where Shafters Burial Memorial used to stand, caused quite the commotion. In front of the soon-to-be-revealed structure was a large stage with several seats and a microphone stand. Enormous screens were displayed on the surrounding buildings, making sure everybody could see what was going on on-stage. In front of the platform were several rows of seats, probably for some 'important' people.
Every race was gathered at the square, causing several glares and disgusted looks among people when they saw races they were supposed to hate. Krogans vs. the Salarians, Humans vs. the few surviving Batarians and Quarians vs. Geth. But it seemed they all had one 'enemy' to share the Rachni. For the people on other planets, like colonies and Thessia, hundreds of cameras could be seen floating around, making sure the people 'back home' could see the ceremony too.
The spectators were starting to grow restless when after 15 minutes still nothing happened or anybody seemed to step up and Krogan weren't known for their patience, so tension was rising. So when several delegations made their way to be seated, not only did the tension ease, but the various security personnel were relieved. The people gave a mild round of applause when they saw their respective leaders, but that soon died down when they didn't see them stepping up on stage. The Krogan people were even more confused when Urdnot Wrex wasn't among the political figures.
The mild applause picked up when they saw people that did get up on the platform and started to pick up in volume when they recognized who the figures were. Urdnot Wrex was the first on-stage, followed up by Grunt while on the other side Garrus stepped up followed by Tali. They all took their respective seat and looked out at the crowed before them, some growing a little nervous being in front of so many people, others basking in the spotlight.
Where the audience was loud before, they simply exploded when the last person stepped up. Nobody needed an introduction for 'The Shepard', everybody knew what her efforts had done. Commander Julia Shepard took the spotlight and the people went ballistic. A smile made it on her face when she listened to the men and women before her. Marriage proposals, love declarations and a few more breeding requests. But as soon as she took the microphone in her hand and motioned for silence with the other, the cheering stopped, her authority supreme.
"Thank you all for coming" Shepard started, causing a small round of applause. "I have been asked today to give a few small words and then reveal the monument behind me, but I am slightly changing the schedule." The Commander said while motioning a signal to the people behind her. Wrex and Garrus, being on opposite sides of the stage, both grabbed a corner of the veil covering the memorial and pulled it down, revealing a grand statue that would stand as the memorial of the Reaper war.
The statue was a replication of a fallen Reaper with several men and women standing on top of it. The surprising fact was that ALL the races were there. They formed a tight circle with a pair of two facing each direction. Facing west was a Salarian accompanied by a Rachni, facing north was a Batarian and a Human, east a Geth and Quarian while south was covered by a Turian and Krogan. In the center stood an Asari, slightly higher than the others, posing as if casting a barrier.
The people were quiet when watching it. The pairs were no accident. All the rivals were grouped together with an Asari as diplomatic centre, showing to all, that it took the cooperation of everyone in the galaxy to win the war. It took a few long seconds to let the scene settle in before the crowd roared with cheering once again. Even the feedback from the main planets could be heard clapping and applauding. After Julia took in the monument herself, she turned around and saw that the people were already quieting down, waiting for her to continue.
"This statue is a symbol. A symbol that the galaxy is united. Of old hatreds left behind and new alliances have been build. Of new and old bonds stronger than ever before. It is a symbol to show that every race has made sacrifices in this war. But most importantly, it is a symbol OF OUR VICTORY!" she shouted the last few words, seeing as the crowd hollered with her, bellowing their own feelings of pride.
She glanced at the political figures in front of the stage and she saw the sign that would tell her she would need to introduce a Council member. She gave them a smirk. Hackett had to suppress a chuckle. He knew that look. He sat back and waited for the real show to start. She looked up to smile at the audience.
Shepard would get her 5 minutes, whether they like it or not.
Off My Chest
"Now that I have said that, there are a few things that I really need to get off of my chest."
"First of all, Diana, Emily and Khalisa thanks for coming. You're making sure that every planet out there is getting this live, right?" she asked. With a nod of acquiescence she turned towards a Geth Prime standing a few feet to their side. "Shepard-Commander, we are also broadcasting this ceremony to every active Geth unit" she smiled at him, giving a small bow of gratitude. She motioned for a Rachni worker to come closer, drawing cautious glances from the people watching it, when she placed her head against his feeler. The worker made a chirping sound and stepped back, resuming his position next to the Geth unit.
"Now that I have confirmed that EVERY species is tuned in, let's get started."
"My name is Julia Shepard, commander of the Earth Alliance. During my life I seem to have been gathering quite the amount of titles. 'Child of Mindoir, Butcher of Torfan, Survivor of Akuze, Defender of Elysium, Savior of the Citadel, Vanquisher of Collectors and now Protector of the Galaxy." She took in a deep breath.
"I may have done many things, but I was not alone. Without the help of great people, I would never have stood here."
"This war has shaped both man and woman and created many new legends. I am sure that the people alive today have seen of them being born. These heroes should be honored, but sadly, I don't know all of them. All I can do is name the ones that I do know and make sure that their names will not be forgotten and that people will remember them for their deeds. Not all of the heroes I want to mention are here with us today. But that doesn't mean that they were any less important."
"David Anderson, who raised me as both a woman and a marine, gave his life while leading the fight on earth."
"Thane Krios, one of the best men I have ever met. He lost his life to protect the Salarian councilor. Kolyat, if you are alive and listening, know that you can always, always come to me if you need anything, your father was part of my family and so are you."
"Kasumi Goto, probably the best infiltrator to date, a woman I am proud to call my sister after all we went through."
"Professor Mordin Solus, galaxy's smartest Salarian and that says a lot. He used his life to make sure that the Krogans got cured of the genophage and were able to take part in this war."
"And Legion; the Geth unit who sacrificed his life to protect his people from extinction."
"They were my friends; my family and they will be missed, but remembered."
"Behind me you can see my crew. They were responsible for most of the things I have done. Without them I would have been dead a long time ago. In fact, when they weren't there, I did die."
From left to right I present to you: Urdnot Wrex, Urdnot Grunt, Jack, Samara, Ashley Williams, Jeff 'Joker' Moreau, Steve Cortez, Miranda Lawson, Jacob Taylor, James Vega, Tali Zora vas Normandy, Garrus Vakarian and Liara T'Soni." She looked at them fondly before continuing
"This war has taken so much from all of us. A home, our family and friends, but I have found something in it. Something I am proud of. A family."
She turned to look at Wrex and Garrus "Brothers" then to Jack and Tali "Sisters" then towards Grunt "Hell, I even gained a son." Wrex slapped the young Krogan on the back, the latter looking quite proud of himself, being called the child of the strongest warrior in the galaxy.
Somebody in the audience shouted "BAH, A KROGAN FOR A CHILD, FREAK!" Shepard whirled around, her hand glowing a bright blue while her eyes flared red.
"The fuck was that!" Nobody said anything, but all seemed to turn towards a certain man, not too far away from the stage. Shepard jumped off, hand reaching for her trusted Carnifex hand cannon. She marched toward the now very scared looking man. She reached him and shoved her gun under his chin.
"You have a problem with my boy?!" Who the hell would say yes in this situation? The man didn't. He frantically shook his head and was relieved to see her turn around…until she turned around and head-butted his lights out. She jumped back on stage and resumed like nothing happened, calmly waiting for the Krogans that were present to calm down with their raving. Wrex almost fell out of his seat laughing, while Grunt was practically beaming in his.
"Now that I have given my thanks to MY heroes. There is something I need to get off of my chest."
By now the Council was getting impatient. They waited long enough for her. Sparatus was muttering something in his omnitool and not ten seconds later from both sides of the stage 6 guards came to 'escort' her off-stage. It was for protecting her from her fans, they would later claim. But the guards stopped in their tracks when they saw 13 people standing up and pulling their guns out. "Go on, I want you to try, heh heh heh" Wrex always did have a strange sense of humor. Nobody in their right mind would challenge one of the saviors of the galaxy, let alone all of them at the same time and with 'The Shepard' there no less. Shepard thanked her guys with a grin before addressing the now very shocked spectators.
"To all of you listening out there. FUCK YOU ALL!" she bellowed.
The crowd was surprised, to say the least. All of the dignitaries were outraged; understandingly so, but they didn't have the time to get somebody to stop her and so they were forced listen.
"The Turians, the Asari, the Salarian, the Humans, 'The Council', all of you. Fuck. You!" Julia was starting to feel better already. She had wanted to say this ever since the people she just named dismissed her claims of the Reapers five years ago.
"Five years ago, I was sent to a small colony known as Eden Prime. Many of you will know what I'm talking about. Ever since that mission, I have been fighting against the Reapers. Every time I warned about it, I was dismissed. Now, I would like to think that I am a reasonable person and I certainly understand that nobody wanted to believe that something like the Reapers existed. So I carried on, trying to bring proof, so that we, the galaxy in whole, could prepare. But then the invasion of the Citadel came and an actual Reaper showed up. The biggest piece of evidence any attorney could ever ask for. And the Council finally believed me, said that they would start to prepare for the invasion that I told them would come."
She looked at the scandalized faces of the crowd, some were outraged by what they were hearing, but most of them didn't believe her. Oh, what beauty, how quickly hero-worshipping can change.
"In the two year period that I was being resurrected, all that I had worked for to uncover, all the blood that I had shed to protect as many people as I could, was blown in the wind and laughed at. I wasn't there to dispute it after all. When I came back, I had to work with Cerberus to stop the Collectors, the second 'agent', after Saren, that did the Reapers' bidding. I found out that I was mocked and laughed at for being delusional. I was branded as a traitor against the galaxy, for working with Cerberus. But I soldiered on. I took a suicide mission and survived against all odds, to stall the Reapers from invading even if it's just one day. One day that could have been spend preparing. But when I showed the evidence, I was again mocked."
"But that was not all. On a mission to the Bahak sytem, the Batarians out there will know exactly what I am talking about, I was forced to destroy the Alpha Relay which resulted in the death of over 300,000 men, women and children. Because nobody took the threat of the Reapers serious, both the science team that was sent to investigate a Reaper artifact and the inhabitants of Aratoth were not prepared for dealing with anything Reaper related. Be it an artifact or invasion. I have to live the rest of my life knowing that I was unable to save an entire colony of people, because the Councils, Hierarchies, Boards, whatever REFUSED to believe what I said. REFUSED to believe the hard evidence I had gathered and presented."
"Some of you may say that it is an excuse. That I merely took 'revenge' for what I went through at Mindoir. To answer that, I would like to ask something. Which system was closest to the Viper Nebula? And which system was the first to be hit but the invading forces? That's right. The first to be hit, was Kite's Nest, which just so happens to be 7 months away from Viper. How long was it again, between me destroying the Alpha Relay and Kite's Nest being attacked? Oh yeah, 7 months."
"You all may not realize it, but from every species known, there were only 2 that were prepared. The Krogans and the Geth. Now most of you feel that they are always ready for battle. Krogan being known warmongers and the Geth being…whatever it is they are being called. But when I was send as a dignitary to gain their support, you know what they said? They said that they were preparing for the invasion for the past three years. Ever since I spread my message with the included evidence, they looked at it, and I mean really looked at it and started preparing. Consequently, these two races have the least casualties. Coincidence? Fuck no. They listened."
"Many of you will not believe what I am saying; many may even be angry that I saved the Rachni, lifted the Genophage or spared the Geth. I, do, not, care. Some are mad at me for not being able to save more. Fuck, you. Don't blame me, blame the people that were supposed to protect you, inform you and guide you. They were the ones that didn't want to listen to me, lied to me that they would. The fact that they didn't prepare caused the fact that nearly every fleet was cut in half. The strongest fleet in the Galaxy, the Turian fleet, lost more than half their ships and soldiers. The Asari and Salarians almost half and the Humans were nearly annihilated. Think about what I just said, before you start blaming me again."
"Before I go, I want to say 'Thank you' to Primarch Victus. Without your support I don't think that we would have been able to do half this much. Admiral Hackett, the only man I know that could and has been able to withstand the Reapers until we could retaliate. The Geth, for their tremendous support as well as the Krogans. God, I shudder to think what you two would have been able to do to them if you both were at full strength. But the fact remains, that without the four of you, this war would have been lost."
"Now...That is all I wanted to say. I will be retiring with the soon-to-be-mother of my children" Julia said while motioning for Liara to come stand by her. Ignoring the purple blush that went all the way to her neck, the commander continued. "I will no longer be available to clean up your peoples mess. I will no longer play politician. I will no longer do the crap you people are afraid to do. Me, my brothers and sisters have earned some relaxation and any of you that will interrupt will never be seen again. Do I make myself clear?"
When the human received no reply besides flabbergasted faces, she leaped of stage and made her way to the Normandy. No doubt that people wanted to ask her a fuck-load of questions. When the 15 men and women, that would be legends to the end of days, finally reached the Normandy, 2 figures were waiting for them, EDI and Kasumi.
"Glad you could join us. You wanna come with us to a beach or something?" Julia asked the petite thief.
"Oooohhh, where we going? I hear Hawaii was relatively untouched?" the leather clad girl replied.
"Meh, lets fly by and see what still standing, if not Hawaii we can check out the Bahamas, no real reason for the Reapers to attack that place and stick around."
When the crowd consisting of hundreds of thousands of bloodthirsty people, all out to find the politicians that almost doomed them (except of course Victus and Hackett, who were pretty much worshipped because of their redeeming efforts), saw the most famous starship in Galaxy history disappear on the horizon, they didn't know that it would be the last time anybody ever saw Julia Shepard and Liara T'Soni for the next 50 years.
For those 50 years, The Shepard was prayed to as a saint to watch over them during battle. And when she finally did show up again…well, her soon-to-be son-in-law who was asking for her daughters hand in marriage came to know that even at the age of 80, she still deserved her titles. She was scary…as was his wife's surrogate family.
He was going to be careful, because if his mother-in-law needed to get something off of her chest, she didn't do it half-hearted.