Author's Note (This note contains spoilers for Transitions):
First off, I should say that while this is a derivative-work based on my other story entitled Transitions, it should stand on its own; it is in a separate continuity. If you'd like a better grounding in my take on the characters I'd suggest reading the stories in that continuity first. I'd recommend the following order: Transitions, Recollections, Longing, Guilt, Transitions: Last Thoughts, and Reassignments (thought that last story is a bit of an off-shoot and doesn't really matter when you read it so long as it's after Transitions).
This does not constitute a retcon or alternate ending for Transitions. Consider this a completely separate continuity from my other stories based on the Transitions characters. As you have undoubtedly noticed, Transitions was published prior to the release of ME3, and ignores that game and its events in their entirety. This story, however, takes place after the conclusion of Mass Effect 3 (including the 'Extended Cut' DLC and all other DLC's). That said; the protagonist is the same person as we know her from Transitions and Recollections. She has the same feelings, wants, desires, hang-ups, pre-ME3 background, and personality as the Victoria Shepard from Transitions. She truly loves Liara, and wanted nothing more than to settle down and raise a family with her after the war was won. What she doesn't have, however, are any of the events I described that occur after (chronologically) the conclusion of ME2 (e.g. no Sam, estate on Thessia, Little Tahoma, etc.).
This isn't me finding a way to keep Victoria Shepard alive, but if you want to look at it that way… I won't stop you…
So, to sum up:
Previous Works – ME1/ME2 Paragon Spacer/War-Hero Shepard, ignores events of ME3
This work – ME1/ME2/ME3 Paragon Spacer/War-Hero, same person but ignores some of the events of my previous works (specifically, anything that happens after the conclusion of ME2)
Update 3/22/13: Added an author's note to the bottom of the first chapter to answer a reader question.
Update 3/24/13: Fixed the author's note at the bottom of the first chapter to answer a reader question correctly.
The fandoms contained herein are owned by their respective copyright holders, not me. This story is for my personal amusement without financial gain, and is fair use. Gratitude to the relevant entities for creating universes which are so much fun to play in.
A big thank you to all of the people who've offered me encouragement and advice while writing this.
This story contains foul language and graphic depictions of violence as well as some sexuality. Reader discretion is advised.
This is my first attempt at publishing in serial. Please bear with me as I learn this new format. I will do my best to keep the chapters coming at regular intervals, but if life intervenes please be understanding. Comments, suggestions, requests, and criticisms (please keep it constructive/classy) are welcomed and appreciated.
Warmest regards, and enjoy,
Eternal… Infinite… Immortal…
Victoria Shepard felt rather than heard the words resonate within her. It didn't seem real, nothing seemed real. The words were in her own, albeit distorted, voice, but she didn't speak them. I will protect and sustain… I will act as guardian for the many… But she had done that! When could she just rest, live her own life in peace with her beloved? But perhaps that could never be. Maybe this was always her fate, endless self-sacrifice. Shepard felt detached, like she wasn't really there. I will never forget... I will remember the ones who sacrificed themselves so that the many could survive… Suddenly, Shepard realized the words were not just within her, but directed at her as well.
To give the many hope for a future… To ensure that all have a voice in their future… The words repeated upon themselves. But how? Shepard felt a presence. It was enormous, suddenly distinct from herself, yet it enveloped her. It was ominous, but she did not feel fear. Shepard was beyond fear. She had united a galaxy. She had faced down the Reapers. Whatever this was would be no different.
Shepard felt the presence withdraw. She became aware of her N7 combat armor, complete with her hardsuit helmet, not the burnt and mangled mess that she had worn while discussing the fate of the Milky Way with 'the catalyst'. She felt a subtle movement. Her eyes came into focus. Shepard looked into a shimmering blue pool. Victoria was confused, but unafraid. The blue was not the rich Cherenkov-like glow of a mass effect field, it was lighter. The pool rippled as if a multitude of small rain drops fell upon it.
You will have a voice in your future…
Shepard thought it was beautiful, the same shade as her beloved Liara's skin. It enveloped her. My god, it's full of stars, she quoted the famous old Earth film. What a cliché.
"Incoming offworld traveler," said Chief Master Sergeant Harriman.
Brigadier General George S. Hammond appeared at his side. "Who do we have due back, Walter?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Walter responded, "SG-1, sir. They are," he checked the chronometer above the main console, "two minutes early, sir."
The stargate engaged with the familiar whoosh of air displaced by the formation vortex, it was easily audible through the ballistic glass. "Wormhole established," Walter paused and interrogated the IFF gear. A few moments later the computer acknowledged receipt of SG-1's IDC code, judged it to be valid, and pronounced the all clear. "SG-1 IDC received, sir."
"Very well," responded the General. He looked through the ballistic glass to see the members of SG-1 exit the stargate and walk down the ramp. Hammond opened his mouth to order the pro-forma defense team to stand down when he heard a loud series of pops. The stench of ozone immediately filled the control room. "Walter, what's going on?"
Chief Harriman's fingers danced across his keyboard. "Don't know, sir; running diagnostics now." A loud snapping sound came from the gate room. Electric arcs flashed about the stargate, some made contact with the walls, while others danced along metal electrical conduits. The Security Forces team in the gate room ducked behind their barricades, SG-1 scrambled for cover. Hammond caught the look on Major Carter's face; she was already working out what was happening in her mind. In a moment she would be next to Walter, solving the problem as she always did. Just as soon as she thought she could make it out of the gate room without being struck by lightning. Fortunately, Staff Sergeant Syler wasn't down there; he seemed to be a magnet for the stuff.
A disturbance appeared on the event horizon, a shimmering ripple. Just like before an object comes through the event horizon, thought Hammond, "Walter! Close the iris!"
"Yes sir!" Chief Harriman reached out and slapped a palm down on the red emergency button. Nothing happened. Walter tried again, still nothing. "Sir, iris not responding."
General Hammond reached forward to the intercom, "Defense teams to the gate room!"
Then she came through the gate.
No sooner had they exited the stargate had the fireworks started. SG-1 dropped to the floor amid the electric arcs and crawled behind the defensive barriers. Major Carter immediately started collecting data. This was her bailiwick, she would need to help sort out what was happening. Curling his nose at the stench of ozone, Colonel O'Neill looked at his team. They were all under cover, hopefully it would be enough. He was about to order Sam to the control room when he heard General Hammond order the defense teams to the gate room. Then a lone figure tumbled through that stargate.
It looked human. It looked female. It looked like something from the future. The figure, clad in what Colonel O'Neill could only imagine was some sort of advanced body armor, skidded to a stop at the bottom of the ramp. She shook her head, and stood. The electric discharges abated substantially.
SF troops poured into the gate room through a blast door and leveled their assault rifles. Then the shouting began, variations on drop your weapon and hands up! Jack hadn't even noticed the pistol, it seemed to unfold out of nowhere and materialize in the stranger's hands. But that wasn't even the most astonishing thing. As if anything we do isn't astonishing, O'Neill thought. The figure was wreathed in an ethereal blue glow. Deeper and brighter than the stargate's signature 'glowing puddle', the figure continued glowing even after the stargate shut down abruptly. The SF team's shouting increased in volume and urgency. Jack decided he needed to do something before this ended in a bloodbath. Subconsciously, Jack wondered whose blood it would be.
To say Commander Shepard was disoriented was a profound understatement. It had been a long day; space combat with the largest armada ever assembled in the history of the Milky Way, an all-out space-to-ground assault on the city of London, brutal street fighting against seemingly unending waves of enemy troops, a foot scramble towards the London Beam with the 2 kilometer tall Harbinger standing behind it blasting away at them with all manner of deadly weapons, the Illusive Man's suicide, Anderson's death, and an absurd conversation with 'the catalyst' where she learned that, despite all of her work and effort and sacrifice, she really didn't have any good options for ending the Reaper War. The snap decision that attempting to control the Reapers was the least bad option offered despite the personal risk, the strange disembodied voice that sounded eerily like her own, and now this.
I can't win, can I?
Despite the disorientation, her trained soldier's senses began collecting data. It looked like she was in some sort of concrete bunker. She was dressed in full N7 combat armor rigged for hard vacuum. Her armor was complete and undamaged, and she wasn't wounded like she had been when she entered the London Beam. She stared down barrel of her M77 Paladin pistol and into the muzzles of a squad's worth of ancient looking gunpowder assault weapons. The camouflaged men holding the weapons were shouting at her. Another group of camouflaged individuals lay sprawled on the floor.
Something isn't right, she thought; a stupendous understatement. Victoria summoned her biotic energy; she was enveloped in a powerful mass effect field as she prepared to lay down a singularity right in the middle of the troops shouting at her. Her muscles tensed, she tightened her grip on her pistol.
"Stand down!" a man in desert camouflage shouted. "Stand down!" He interposed himself between Shepard and the increasingly agitated soldiers with the toy-like weapons. The man held his arms out until the soldiers relented, then he turned to look at her.
Shepard was taken aback. She looked into the man's eyes. He was obviously agitated and worried, but there was something else. There was something familiar. A realization, there's pain in those eyes, Shepard thought. This man had been there. Shepard slowly lowered her pistol, the mass effect field dissipated with a faint pfft.
Despite the decreasing tension, Shepard's heart rate continued to accelerate. The world greyed, her lips and fingertips tingled. Suddenly she noticed the 'air supply critical' warning light flashing in her helmet's head's up display. I knew something wasn't right, Victoria Shepard thought as she slumped to the ground. A faint, distant voice shouted, "Medic!" as she slipped from consciousness.
It's been a long day.
UPDATED Clarification on Story Timing:
I've received a question as to when in the SG-1 series this story might be taking place, so I figured I'd drop a note here where new readers will catch it. (I'm not sure if those who've 'followed' the story will get an alert for this update, hopefully you'll get a chance to read this message too.)
I originally said that I envisioned this story taking place just before Daniel Jackson dies/ascends. And that for artistic purposes, we'd just say that this story, in its entirety, takes place between the episode before Jackson dies, and the episode in which he dies/ascends. I checked through the SG-1 wiki again, and it looks like I was mistaken. What I meant to say is that this all takes place right towards the beginning of SG-1 Season 5. So, definitely before Daniel Jackson dies, but also before Anubis begins to show up as well.
Sorry for the confusion, I feel a bit of a jerk for making the mistake.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!