Ashley Williams

Mass Effect Challenge Community

Calibrating creativity since 2010!

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Insanity Round (just one day late)
mod post
popehippo wrote in me_challenge
How is this different from the official challenges? These are drabbles only. Also, you will be posting your replies to this post instead of to the community.

So read the prompts, write a story, submit a prompt! But most of all, have fun!

1) Aim for about 100 words. Longer or shorter is okay, just try to keep it in one comment. (note: this is more to give you a guideline than anything. Your drabble can be as long as you want--but we're not looking for a multi-chapter fic here!)

2) Post your drabble as a reply to the comment the prompt is from.

3) Put the prompt you used as the subject. If you just want to comment on something, leave the subject line blank. This will make it easier to navigate once the threads start collapsing.

4) If posting an entry with NSFW content, please warn in subject line and at top of post.

5) After writing your drabble, write down three or so prompts of your own at the end of each reply.

6) Prompts should generally be short, no more than a sentence. Prompts may include characters and/or pairings. In that case, try to also include some word prompt (i.e. Kasumi/Thane, sporks), unless you feel your configuration of characters is exotic enough to be inspiring on its own.

7) The same prompts may be filled multiple times. By the same person, even, if inspiration strikes. No need to hold back!

SPOILER WARNING: Mass Effect 3 is HERE! Please remember to ALWAYS list any and all comments (whether fills or replies to fills) with very clear and bolded spoiler warnings if they contain information regarding the game. Thanks. :)

PROMPTS:
1) Buzz
2) Orange lights
3) Refugees
4) The Citadel
5) Competition
6) Give me a drink
7) Scars never really heal
8) Silver lining
9) Legion
10) Assassin

  • 1
{Some slightly twisted, ME2 Morinth/Shepard.}

When Shepard finally comes to her, she tries to pretend she's not surprised. "I thought so," she bluffs, voice smooth as she walks to him, hips swaying. "Are you here for something, Commander?"

A bead of sweat stands out on his forehead, and, hard as he tries to hide it, his hands are shaking. He's nervous, she realises, and, for the first time since that night on Omega, she genuinely wonders...

"Morinth," he begins, then shuts his mouth again, as if he can't phrase whatever he's trying to say properly. He tries again, his throat obviously dry. "I know you'll want off the ship." That's easy enough to see. She has done what she came here for, the mission wasn't a suicide mission, and now... new pastures. New lives, new names. More and more buzzes to find, needs to fill. "But first... I need a favour. One more." He meets her eye, and she realises, suddenly, that his pupils are dilated.

It sends a thrill through her, and she smiles wolfishly, trailing a finger over his shoulder and stepping around him. "Whatever you need, Commander." She murmurs in his ear, "You think I'd let you die? No, you're too much fun. I've seen you trying to resist it, the buzz of the danger.."

"No," he says surprisingly firmly, and turns to face her. Though there's lust in his eyes, there's no light, and he almost seems... only half-aware, as if he's watching this all from a distance. "Don't try that on me. I came here... for an end. The Reapers are still out there, but I'm just so..." "I'm so tired." And his hand reaches out now, in a similar way, to caress her neck, a small half-smile blooming on his face. "And I'm tired of resisting. I wanted to die... happy. In a sense."

Her smile widens. What a conquest - the great Commander Shepard, saviour of the galaxy! What experiences, what visions in his mind before she devours it...

"Your wish is my command," she says, voice husky, and lowers her head to his.

He responds equally quickly, pulling her to him, and, when their lips finally meet, lets out a short laugh against her mouth.

"What?" she asks, smiling too now.

He doesn't pull back as he says, "You think I chose you for your biotics, Ardat-Yakshi?"



Prompts:
•Enough
•Empty
•Gonna take your heart, gonna take your soul
•No light, no light

That is twisted. An interesting spin on Morinth/Shepard that I haven't seen before. Well done!

Thanks! I was just really surprised I hadn't seen the "suicide by sex" idea used before, and wanted to have a go.

Cheating here since I wrote this last week, but I never posted it on LJ, so why not: Scars, Shepard/Garrus, rated T or thereabouts.

May write a new one once I get a chance to take a break here. :)

and some prompt words, plucked from the files in front of me that I'm supposed to be working on, ahem....

- Disease
- Caffeine
- Ghost town

Edited at 2012-07-05 05:55 pm (UTC)

Ghost town

Mass Effect 3 Spoilers, possibly including Extended Cut, with a bit of AU thrown in.

She walked through the streets of the town, sunlight warming her skin. She read the words plastered across shop fronts and other buildings and signs, all in an archaic script, rarely used since they lost the planet.

The wind echoed through the empty streets and she was reminded of a human phrase--"ghost town." She could understand why humans used those words--she expected to see other quarians but there were none but her, at least for the time being. Kal would be here later, along with Auntie Raan.

She made her decision - she wanted her home here, filled with the voices of her loved ones and friends, even if the ghosts remained.

Prompts:

Thunder
You Keep Haunting Me
Wanderlust

This drabble brought up a great image and evoked memories of what Legion said about how the geth treated Rannoch--although we didn't see them, that would suggest there are structures left in place where Tali could have had this moment.

Thanks for sharing it. :)

Nice. I agree with tersa. This brought up a really great image of a Rannoch preserved. Good job.

Getting another snippet of Thane-backstory idea out of my head here. ;) Set before the series, a short time before meeting Irikah.

--

Thane didn't always work alone.

Rizu Mayak, unlike him, was the kind of assassin who was meant to be seen. She'd dyed and studded her skull into an intimidating visage, stood a handsbreadth taller than even he did, and communicated lithe, careless strength with every move. He knew she was fierce with blades, preferred a little artistic license over the quick kill, and although she wasn't of great biotic talent, she had just enough to let crackle around her fingers at the right moment -- just enough to make people very, very nervous.

That above all was her greatest gift, and in the shadow she cast, he could do some of his finest work.

They'd been sent this time on a contract for the Primacy that didn't even necessarily require a kill; many such contracts didn't. But these trade negotiations were sensitive enough, the goods just questionable enough, that a little extra assurance was needed -- and so Thane, having maneuvered into the best, most private vantage point the room provided, could watch as the hanar negotiator entered the room, accompanied by a silent, smirking Rizu. The batarian arms dealers quickly lost their own looks of smug amusement, and became more than a little on edge.

As well they might, Thane thought, while considering the bodies of the dead security guards beside him.

"What is this?" growled one of the two batarians. "You insult us by bringing -- this--"

One extended finger pointed at Rizu. She spread her hands in a "who, me?" gesture.

"This one believes it is important to communicate the importance of this trade," the hanar said calmly. "Planetary security may depend on its completion. To ensure the safety and security of--"

"Safety!" the batarian shouted, shooting straight past the hanar's point. "We're not idiots! You brought an assassin!"

Thane glimpsed the tiniest luminescent flicker across the hanar's body, one that, if you knew him very, very well, might suggest irritation. "This one would remind you of the disruption at the last meeting."

As ever, the hanar was putting it mildly. The batarians' rejection of the original terms had been disastrously, violently abrupt, and the hanar left with nothing. This meeting was meant to... correct the matter. By any means necessary.

Rizu had made those means more than clear by her mere presence. It was considered the proper thing to do, in a twisted sort of way -- a chance for these dealers to come to their senses, and capitulate without anyone having to deliver the final strike. More likely, the dealers would react badly enough to give the hanar their final excuse to act. But when one of the batarians snarled, "You deserved it," Thane knew exactly which way this was going to go.

He readied himself, tense and poised, while the talk grew angrier below.

Negotiations, such as they were, went for a few more volleys before the batarians -- already armed, but feeling the need for the backup regardless -- started dropping threats about their guards, and exactly how outnumbered Rizu would be. She looked unimpressed. She also, in an expression that mimicked exasperation well enough, glanced upwards at Thane. She didn't need to. Recognizing his cue, he nudged the bodies over the balcony. One after the other, they fell with dire thuds onto the main floor.

For a brief, satisfying moment, there was silence.

(continued...)

(....stupid character limits. ;)

Thane had to give the dealers credit; they passed through shock very quickly and into raising their own guns, ready to retaliate. They were not, however, quick enough -- not when alarm was making their aim swerve into every shadow possible. "How many?" one of them shouted. "How many did you br--"

Thane leaped down, landing lightly and instantly putting his hands to the man's head. Softly, silkily, he whispered, "Enough."

And with a swift crack, the man slumped lifeless to the floor.

The remaining arms dealer, effectively surrounded, and frightened of what else he couldn't see, stood and gaped, his gun hanging loosely from his hands. Thane stared him down until he lowered it completely.

And when the man stood, it was to find Rizu at his throat, smirking over the edge of a blade as she said, "Care to renegotiate that last point?"

He, as it turned out, did not. And so Rizu went to work.

Thane thought much later, after the goods had been secured and the mess dealt with as cleanly as possible, that there was an essential difference between him and his companion. He lived his job, as wholly and as professionally as anyone could. But Rizu... she actually loved it. That smile at the end had been no lie. Their training masters hadn't snuffed it out of her, and he wondered by now if anything could.

Both approaches had their uses, and he knew it well. But he knew it wasn't going to last. Someday, Rizu was going to get the wrong person killed -- and he only hoped he could prepare himself well enough to solve that crisis when she did.

---

Prompts, courtesy of sticking iTunes on random: ;)

- Silence
- Under the radar
- Intoxication

Pretty awesome =). People don't normally expand much on the cold-blooded-assassin part of Thane's past and personality so it was nice to see this. It gave me chills ;). Well done.

Thank you. :) There's so much unsaid about all those years that I just... keep....wanting to poke at....

Intoxication

Tali swiveled the straw in her glass. The blue liquid swirled hypnotically with purple and red spirals. She normally wasn't a drinker. Normally, she would shrug off her worries and soldier forward...but something about Sanctuary had bothered her. Maybe it was Miranda...the Cerberus Cheerleader Bitch...had broken her ties with both Cerberus and her father. She had stopped running from both of the people in her life that she feared and stood up to them. Shepard had helped, but still...Miranda, perfect genetically enhanced ice queen Miranda, had managed to do what Tali had been not. She had been able to step out of her father's shadow, keeh'la, she had even been able to but a bullet between the man's eyes.

Why was this sitting so poorly with her? While Tali had loved her father and in his own way her father had loved her...she was still living in his shadow. She was still living with the guilt that her father wasn't all he was cracked up to be. He had endangered the fleet and with his research her people had almost lost everything.

Tali growled. She slipped the straw into a little tube in her helmet and took a long pull of the intoxicating liquid. The flavors were pungent and refreshing in the same breath. She gulped and her head felt lighter, dizzying in fact. Smacking her lips she took another sip. The affect was still the same light-headed reaction. A smile slipped onto her face. Whatever this drink was tasted gooood.

The weight of the world seemed to lift off her shoulders in those few moments. She stopped worrying about how to make everyone else happy and focused for once on herself. Her whole life had been devoted to making certain her people had everything. But now that they had their homeworld back....of course the Reapers were the main problem now, but Shepard would handle them...Shepard always handled the big stuff so well. Shepard was amazing, she wished she could be more like her...unfortunately she was more like Miranda. Maybe, not as cold and closed off but when in came to ideas and duty they were in the same boat. Tali would fight and die her people and Miranda had that same hard edge about her. Where death might fright both of them, it was still something she could see both of them doing...dying for the wrong cause or the wrong people.

She sighed and took another long pull. Too much thinking, drinking alone kinda of sucked. There was no one to talk too. At first it had seemed like a great idea, but now...it was just her and her gloomy thoughts. How depressing and pathetic. It was the end of the galactic civilization as everyone knew it and she was getting drunk alone. A giggle escaped her well formed lips. But who would she turn to? Shepard was busy doing, Shepardy stuff. Liara was being all secretive and high and mighty. Joker could take nothing seriously. EDI was...everywhere and that freaked her out more than she cared to admit. Kaidan was nice and they had an understanding about tech, but she was pretty certain he looked at her as no more than a kid. That left Javik and Garrus...Javik was fun to tease he was soooo high and mighty that his stoic demeanor and better than you attitude put Liara to shame. And Garrus...her cheeks grew warm at the thought. Garrus was pretty sweet and not bad looking for a turian. And his scar was sexy. She giggled again. So she had always had a thing for scars.

Intoxication ( Part 2)

She took another sip. This drink was pretty tasty too. Another long sip. In a way everyone had someone, except maybe Garrus and Liara. Here it was the end of the known universe and everyone should be hooking up with someone, it was the reckless and desperate thing to do right? Reflecting on it she wondered if Liara and Garrus would make a good couple...She shook her head. No, he was too reckless and he had an air of honor about him, that Liara lacked. Liara was too prissy for Garrus. Tali knew that Liara could get her hands dirty, but something about the doctor made her think pretty, neat and organized prissy, not ewww, dirt prissy. Tali chuckled. That didn't make any sense really, but that was the best way she could define it. Besides, everyone knew that Liara had it bad for Shepard.

Snorting, Tali took another sip her head was abuzz with chirping glittering thoughts. Shepard was spoken for by Major Kaidan Alenko. Good looking, sharp, duty, honor, loyalty, honest...and well, male, everything Liara would never be. While Liara had her charm and sweetness, Shepard saw through that, Tali knew she did. That and in Shepard's eyes Kaidan was everything. Tali had seen on numerous occasions the way the two flirted and danced around each other. She mostly how it amusing. Their shared looks spoke volumes to each other. Their chemistry was natural, not faked or focused. Some times she found it hard to be in the same room with the two of them. They were both professional and consider but there was always an air about them. They were old soldiers. They had each others backs. Tali always felt like an outsider around them, just trying to squeeze her way into their fight. Nope, Liara hadn't a chance with Shepard with Kaidan on board the Normandy.

Poor Liara, she deserved someone...Javik seemed more her type. Holy...Javik! Tali sat up straight catching herself before she topple from her stool. Javik spoke with Liara at length about his people and his society. She had always had a thing about the Protheans. It was prefect! Javik was about the only thing that could get Liara's mind off Shepard and the whole end of the world craziness that was going on. Clapping her hands together she made up her mind. She was going to drunk dial Javik.

Writing Prompts:
1) Swing and a miss
2) I will remember you
3) Ode to the dying

Happy writing!

{Apologies for length. This is something that's actually been spinning round in my head for a long time, and I guess it's slightly AU.}

Humans are like dying stars, Samara thinks. They flare briefly, brightly, at their most beautiful just before their end.

-+-


John watches the Relay on the Galaxy map, spinning and spinning, orange-red light blinking like a warning. There's a conspicuous silence from Joker, and he knows he's being watched, second-guessed. He stays there one more long moment, then spins on his heel and, without a word, heads for the only place here that feels like a sanctuary.

-+-


As the human commander sits next to her once again, hands resting on his knees, eyes on the stars, she breaks her meditation, acutely aware of his presence. He is, as always, respectfully silent until she speaks. He has been coming here since she made her oath, asking her questions, head to one side and blue eyes inquisitive, about all he can think of - her code, her thoughts on this mission, the bounds of the oath.

Only recently have the questions turned to... herself. While the feeling has been unfamiliar, her answers rusty, hesitant, careful, it has not been unpleasant.

He has listened through her awkwardness, her anger with herself, and she has felt something blossom inside her that shouldn't have. And she has seen what has been lying behind the curiosity in his eyes, and cursed it.

There have been many, but never before a human.

She has remembered, suddenly and clearly, why she works for herself, and only herself. Alone.

Always alone. It is safer that way.

"Samara..." He trails off, and she does not look at him. Will not.

"Yes, Shepard?" she prompts him, as the silence stretches.

"Five hours," he says matter-of-factly, and his voice is stronger than its usual questioning tone. Final.

All she can think to say is, "Yes." She watches the stars, listening to his breathing.

"I have five hours," he continues, "before I walk into some kind of hell. And I don't think I'm walking out again. And I was prepared for that, for a long time, but now... before I go, I need to ask one more question."

She looks at him now, unable to help herself, and his eyes are terrifyingly, wonderfully earnest. "Does the Code cover this?" And then his arms are at her waist, his mouth on hers, warm and strong.

She almost loses herself to it, struggles to find the strength to pull back and say what she must.

-+-


In the darkness of the Collector base, John strides forwards, drawing his gun, the words echoing in his head.

"Another time... another life..."

-+-


The night after the mission, they return to the Normandy and dock at the Citadel.

She leaves late, quietly and without incident. Only the pilot sees her; she halts, expecting him to alert John... Shepard... the Commander. Instead, he watches her, green eyes dark in the powered-down CIC, and raises a hand to his cap in a short, silent salute.

She nods once in acknowledgement, and, as she steps out of the airlock, raises her a hand to her other wrist. Shepard no longer has need of her, she tells herself. The Oath has reached its end.

There is a brief, bright flare of biotics, then she walks on, into the night.

-+-

Re: Orange Light, II / II


When she sees him at the temple, his eyes are the same. A little wearier, perhaps, but still bright and intelligent, noticeably blue even in the orange light emitted by his omni-tool.

He halts, as she does, but quickly regains his composure in front of his team. His eyes meet hers, so many questions in them that she has to look away, and then he continues to ask about the situation, his tone formal, that of a soldier, and offers to help.

She accepts, knowing that before them lies the past he has heard so much about, and trusting him to understand. Still.

He is calm, giving her hushed reassurances even as he watches her lose all she has left, tone never changing. Used to death and destruction.

She realises dimly, in the back of her mind, that she had once thought humans young, brash; naive.

-+-


She holds the gun to her head, finally ready to leave the world that has caused her so much pain; sees Shepard's team turn, not wanting to watch, and closes her eyes, beginning to whisper a prayer for the Goddess. Her grip falters as another hand closes round her wrist, gentle even in armour, and lowers it.

"Let me die," she protests, voice hushed and desperate. "There is nothing left for me here, Shepard."

"Yes," he responds, quietly but fiercely, "there is."

Her eyes fly open, the gun clattering to the ground, at the brush of his lips at the back of her neck.

Then it is gone, and he steps away, looking to his team as if nothing has happened.

They are still unaware, eyes even now shut tight. He loudly clears his throat, and steps away, as if nothing has happened.

As he bids her goodbye, she can barely look him in the eye, still feeling the echo of his touch at her neck.

-+-


As she sees him at the Citadel, she knows she shouldn't have called him here.

She had almost forgotten how he looked out of armour; he is lighter, more relaxed, but still broad, his walk straight and tall. He gives her a lopsided half-smile, and her throat dries.

"Shepard," she says firmly, and his smile fades at her tone. "What I told you before the Collector base... it still true. We cannot..."

He stops in front of her, and there is hurt in his eyes. "I..." He stops, before regaining his voice, obviously also remembering the last time they met. "I'm sorry. I should have respected that." Silence hangs in the air as he searches for something to say, before turning and making to go.

"Farewell, Shepard," she says.

He stops mid-step and quietly replies, "I... only have this life. Farewell, Samara."

She watches him until he is lost from view, knowing that she will not see him again.

-+-


As she watches her planet fall, the rubble and bodies on the viewscreen, on Thessia, she finally realises. She feels the tears roll down her face, silent and slow.

His words echo in her mind.

"I only have one life."

And, she knows now, it is too short for this.

-+-


As she makes her way through London, she knows she should have ended her life from shame long ago. She has betrayed her Code, shirked her duty. She wonders why she has accepted this offer - there have been many, others before him. The answer comes to her as she strides through the hospital door, straight through the press.

He has made her feel again.

-+-


John awakes to the feel of a hand clasping his, soft and female. He opens his eyes to see Samara watching him, eyes wide and shining under the orange hospital lights on backup power.

He opens his mouth to question her, the motion slightly painful, but she simply leans down and whispers two words in his ear.

"This life."

•+•

Prompts:
•Central
•For Thane
•Politics

This was really nicely done. Sad but it ended happily, which is always good, imo =). I liked that it was from Samara's POV; something you don't see much of. Good job =).

Re: Orange Light, II / II

Good grief, that last line. Straight in the feels.

Scars never really heal

It seemed terribly unfair, really, that they'd been cleaning up after the Reapers for longer than they'd fought them in the first place. Seven months of hell on earth, eleven months of rebuilding and the work still wasn't done.

Her father used to tell her that the work was never done, usually when his job had kept him from another play or prize giving. She finally understood what he'd meant, although she imagined that this was not the way he'd wanted her to learn that particular lesson.

So she kept working. First in London, compiling lists of the dead and dying, organising supplies, dragging rubble off the streets of the city she'd been born in. The city she'd nearly died in, and not only when the Reapers roamed the skies. The avenging army which Shepard had pulled together through sheer force of will started to fall apart without the threat of extinction hanging over them all, and with the Relays out of action and the fleets crippled, London was suddenly home to a lot of angry aliens.

Not all the fights were because of age-old grudges, of course. The Krogan fought when they bored or hungry, not just when they were angry, and they weren't the only ones prone to lashing out at inappropriate moments.

She was there when a Turin soldier watched his son die, as the twin scars across her face proved. Funny, that her worst scar had been created after the war. (Not that a claw to the face was her worst injury, just the most obvious, the one that made people look at her in that way which made her hate them just a little, hate their shallow pity, because a few scars across her face were apparently so much worse than a knee which could only support her weight on the very best of days.)

But time crawled on, minute by unbearable minute. The dead, buried or missing, were mourned, the streets repaired, cities refounded. The aliens went home, ship by ship, race by race, and some of those who had been lucky enough to escape Earth at the beginning came home. And then some of those who had stayed, out of choice or compulsion, took to the stars in search of homes untainted by the blood of loved ones.

She could understand that impulse to run, even as she stayed behind. The Reapers hadn't been able to make her leave Earth, she said when asked, pretending to joke, so why should peacetime? But it wasn't the same, she knew that, wasn't the place where she'd grown up. The place where she had been a daughter and a sister and a student, that place was long gone, replaced with the place where she'd been a fighter and a follower, the place where she was now one of the few misunderstood survivors of the resistance movement.

Earth wasn't the place she remembered it being. But the work wasn't done yet, and maybe one day it would be close enough.

xxx
Prompts -
Oblivion
Tarnished halo
Cut the blue wire!/They're all blue!

I liked this =). It's a good look at what the end of the war means from an ordinary person POV. Nice job.

Give Me a Drink (ME3 Spoilers)

Introducing my OCs: Esh, a salarian shady arms-dealer, Teva, an asari ex-mercenary alcoholic, and Kahira, a young, nerdy drell.

---

The days had begun to blur together. How long had it been since the Citadel was attacked? Days? Weeks? Months?Teva couldn't be sure. All she knew was she really needed a fucking drink.

"His arm was torn off, Teva. Other than slapping medi-gel on it, I can't help him."

Esh's face remained as unreadable as ever but after days of fighting for their lives together, she could tell he was worried.

"We can't just leave him like this," she said, keeping her voice low.

"We don't have a lot of other options."

Teva glanced at Kahira. He was slumped against the wall, staring blankly at the tattered remains of his arm, his mech-dog at his feet. He's just a kid.

"We find help, then," she turned back to Esh, her face grim. "We can't be the only ones left on this Goddess-forsaken station."

He crossed his arms. "You know it's not that simple. Even if there was help to be found, he'd never make it. Frankly, I'm surprised he's lasted this long."

Teva knew it was true but it didn't mean she wanted to admit it. "We can't leave him like this," she repeated, her expression stubborn.

Esh was quiet for a moment before he sighed heavily. "We won't. I'll go alone."

"What?" She shook her head. "Are you out of your damn mind?"

"I can move faster on my own and hide where a group can't. It's our only option."

"It's fucking suicide. You'll be ripped apart before you get across the street."

Esh looked scornful. "Stealth is a difficult concept for you, I know, but I can manage it. We don't have a choice if we want to save his life." Esh's voice was calm, as if he hadn't just offered to throw his life away.

Teva fell silent at that, her eyes darting back to Kahira. He was watching them now with a lost expression, his large black eyes shining in the low light.

Goddess, I need a drink.

Prompts:

-You're a Winner!
-Welcome to paradise
-If they don't chase you after a mile, they don't chase you
-Big badda boom

Edited at 2012-07-06 12:04 am (UTC)

Scars Never Really Heal (tw: mentions of past self-harm)

Adenna Shepard stands naked before her mirror and remembers.

There should be a mark, up along her left thigh, pale and slightly raised, where she slipped and fell on some equipment at seven years of age chasing an insect on Mindoir. She says should because it's not there any more. None of the oldest scars are, not now; Lazarus' money at work again, and while most women Shepard knows would be overjoyed at regaining smooth, unblemished skin... it leaves her feeling awkward and hollow. Like, somehow, if she doesn't have the mark then she won't have the memory to go with it. Bullshit, but it makes her think. She's doing a lot of that these days.

Akuze had given her many scars that aren't there any longer. Thick, ugly ones, patches of mottled skin from acid burns. One on the left shoulder blade, in fact, which had ached forever after and yet doesn't. This one, at least, she still remembers how - the stink of burning flesh in the air and the screams of the dying and Shepard's own sobs as she huddled in a Grizzly and waited for the... the everything to stop. Things like that aren't easily forgotten.

She steps closer to the mirror and examines herself from the waist up. The Lazarus scars are almost all gone, now, some of them still a little split in the wake of her injuries, but mostly gone. Good riddance. She pushes at one on her hip like you would a spot, feeling irritated when the skin doesn't seal back up. The other scars on her torso are mainly from the Collector mission, random pock-marks of bullets and countless slashes she doesn't even remember getting, they're just there. They don't even hurt any more. But then she looks at her arms, and falters.

Shepard touches one of the thin, straight lines on her upper arm. There's quite a few there, slightly tilted, several on each arm and getting wobblier as they go. They're the only scars Shepard remembers every second of getting, because they're the only ones she inflicted on herself. The memory burns as it rises to the front of her thoughts. Sitting in solitary feeling number than ice, number than death (and she knows what death feels like first-hand), wondering if she was awake or asleep or hallucinating or anything. There hadn't been much else to think about, stuck in a room with nothing to do. So there was the idea, the knife, the blood and the grim reminder that she was still alive. Three to an arm, three for the three hundred thousand lives weighted on her conscience. Her hands had trembled on the last pair, but it had made sense at the time. The look on James' face when he'd walked in and seen her with a serene expression and blood pooled in her elbows, staring at it with an almost childlike curiosity... she hadn't seen that look again until one month ago, when he'd helped pull her from the London rubble. Funny. He'd said roughly the same sort of thing each time, too.

The rest of the scars are more recent. No knife wounds here, just faint circles of bulletholes where the medigel didn't work right and the pink, shiny marks along her forearms where her armour melted to her skin. Bits of shrapnel from descent, maybe, tends to happen when you fall out of a space station. One mark, right under the ribs, makes Shepard feel sick when she looks at it. That's the spot where she shot Anderson, she's sure of it. Or where the Illusive Man shot him. She doesn't quite remember what happened on the Citadel. Red green blue and a half-forgotten voice, that's all she knows. Maybe. Better that way, not knowing for sure who shot who or what she did after.

No, she might not remember the Citadel. But she can remember everything else, because the scars will always be there.

----------------------------------------------
(help, someone take away my keyboard i am wordvomiting again, i could ramble really pointlessly if you let me)
(also guess what i have been listening to on loop all day)

Prompts:
o Mother, I'm home
o Setting sail, coming home
o We'll be there before too long

Eff, so depressing...Well written though =). Also, ramble away. You're good at it ;).

Hah, this was going to be fluff about one of my other Shepards, then Adenna hijacked it with angst. She does that sometimes.

"This Bravo 4. Bachrjet is overrun, Over."

"This is Lenrak 5. Husks coming through the vents in Tayseri. Over."

"This Sigma 2 calling Shelter 4. We have Refugees Incoming."

"Copy that, Sigma 2. We're ready to receive, but hurry your ass up. Ravager pod sighted 3 clicks west and headed our way."

***

In the centuries afterward, when her children and grandchildren asked about it, C-Sec Sergeant Jaelara Makarios would be at a loss to describe the feeling, or her memories of that day. It wasn't as much her conscious mind that took over as her instincts, and years of training and experience on the force.

See a Husk? Shoot it.

See a Cannibal? Shoot it more.

See a Maurader? Add some Biotics.

See anything else? Pray.

What stuck with you, though, were the failures.

Her partner, Jim Creed, a Human, veteran of the New New York gang wars on earth, torn in two by a slavering Brute.

A Family of Turians, who owned the shop where she bought her weekly bottle of Lusian Gin, drowned in the acidic blood of a dying Ravager -- one she'd killed.

A young Batarian, just inches from being able to grab her hand, instead being pulled off a ladder and down into a swarming mass of Husks.

***

She didn't really come back to herself until many hours later, deep in the bowels of the Citadel, in Shelter 3. She stood, numbly, on guard duty, Pistol out. Behind her, she saw the edge of a sea of Refugees. A pregnant Asari clutched an old human woman breathlessly, tears streaming down her face. A Batarian stared sullenly at a Harpoon Gun in his lap -- a Gun that would have had Jaelara dragging him to jail only a day earlier, but now barely registered in her mind. A Salarian babbled something about his famous shop, trying to sell a knot of humans some sort of charm against Husk bites. Then - Yes. Commander Bailey, talking to 2 Quarians. After a few moments, he nodded to them and walked toward Jaelara.

She snapped to attention and saluted, Human style, "Sir."

"Sergeant Makarios, right?"

"That's me."

"Heard a lot about you," Bailey said, staring in her eyes, hands clasped behind her back, "First in your class at C-Sec Academy. Black Belt in 3 Asari Martial Arts and Krav Maga. Took down the Vulgosh Red Sand Ring. While Disarmed, fought off 5 Blue Suns Commandos at once using only your Biotics."

"With all due respect, Commander, quit blowing smoke up my ass."

"Sergeant?"

"I've seen too many people die in front me in the last couple hours to feel proud of myself, and I'm too focused on protecting the rest of them to have time to preen over a bunch of old memories."

"That's what I want to hear. When they say you're the youngest Matron on the force, they mean it."

"Still a Maiden sir, don't care how bad my Mom wants Grandkids. And remember what I said about smoke and asses?"

"Fair enough," Bailey said, a small smirk on his face, "Listen. Those Quarians are pretty sure we've been moved, and we're in the middle of a fight. They can feel the vibrations."

"Well, that's fair. Reapers wouldn't have taken over the Citadel for shits and giggles."

"If there's fighting out there, though, someone's trying to take this thing back. Might even have a chance to succeed. Way I see it, least we can do for them is push back and try to meet them in the middle. Come with me. I need a second in command who knows what she's doing."

"What about the Refugees?"

"We'll send out a few small strike forces. Keep most of the Officers here on guard. We won't win a war of attrition, we'll just go hit and run."

"Fair enough," Jaelara said, "I'm in."

***

"This is Sigma 6. Damndest thing I ever saw. Husk had its hand around my throat, and then it just... disemigrated."

"Omega 3 here. We can report the same. We were pinned down by 3 Ravagers. We couldn't even shoot at them, then they all exploded at once. No more hostiles incoming."

Jaelara listened to the radio chatter with wonder. For her own part, She, Baily, and about 5 other C-Sec Officers, 3 Humans, a Salarian, and a Turian, had managed to clear a path from Shelter 3 almost to... Well, who knew. The Reapers had done something to the Citadel, enough that even, she, who'd lived on it for every single one of her 90 years, wasn't quite sure where they were. But they were alive, and Jaelara could now tell her grandkids about the time she stared down a charging Brute, only to have it burst into dust and disappear before her eyes.

She stared up at the night sky above her, the arms of the Citadel now open, wider than she'd ever seen them before. And before her, the Reapers floated, silent and empty, among the wreckage of the united fleets of the galaxy.

"Sergeant, you got a Medigel Dispenser, right?" Bailey called to her from atop a pile of rubble a few yards away.

"Yes sir."

"Get it over here. I found a survivor."

Jaelara ran over, and knelt down beside Bailey.

"Must be a tough son of a bitch to survive without making it to a Shel-"

Jaelara looked at the survivor's face, and knew right away. The same face that had been on every news holo. On every Alliance recruitment poster. The same armored insignia that had become a symbol of hope and retribution.

This was the Commander. The Commander. Commander Shepard.

As Jaelara stared in wonder, the Commander took a breath.

***

A few hours later, Jaelara perched against the wall of Dillinaga Medical center. The site of Shelter 1, it had blessedly remain intact enough to be about the best place to give the Commander about the best trauma treatment one could expect on a ravaged space station floating above a ravaged world, surrounded by wrecked ships. She took a drag of the Cigarette between her lips and stared up at the night sky. Wondered if they'd ever be able to get the Citadel arms back to their usual shape again.

"They say the Commander will probably make it. If we'd been a few minutes later with that Medigel, though..." Bailey sauntered up to lean on the wall beside her. He gestured questioning with his head, the universal sign of a fellow addict. She reached in her uniform pocket and offered him her pack. He plucked a cigarette put it in his mouth. His omnitool bloomed with a bright fire for just a moment.

"You know," He said, after exhaling a puff of smoke, "When word gets out what you did here, you could write your own ticket. Just about any private army would be happy to have you. Hell, any government army too. Hell, you could retire and live off the royalties from the vids alone."

Jaelara didn't answer at first, but took a few more puffs of her cigarette.

"If it's all the same to you, sir, I think I'd rather stay in C-Sec. The Citadel's my home, and I'm not going to abandon her now. Besides, I got promises to keep."

"Promises, huh?"

"To a Partner, a Batarian kid, and an old Turian shopkeeper who used to make sure he always had a bottle of the best damn Lusian Gin money can buy ready for me every Saturday morning."

***

I. Everyone fights, no-one quits
II. Come on you apes, do you want to live forever?
III. Would you like to know more?

Nice. I liked Jaelara a lot =). Overall, well done.

Thanks! I have a few Mass Effect OCs, but she's probably my favorite. Been wanting to solidify my post-ME3 headcanon for her, and this prompt was a good opportunity to start.

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