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Erica Shepard is the saviour of the organic races of the universe, and the destroyer of Reaperkind. She is also dying in the ruins of what must be the Citadel. She has no idea where she – or it – had landed, but there is smoke and orange and above all else the stench of death and flesh in the air. It hurts to breathe, but she is breathing – she is alive and alone and everything is ruin and despair. In the distance she can hear the low buzzing of something moving. She wonders for a wild moment if this is the end – if she has been spared only to witness the birth of a universe without fear, without the Reapers, never to be a part of that dizzying future ideal – and then the ground rumbles and she surrenders to the noise, her heartbeat matching its terrifying jagged pace.

 

***

 

The ship is deathly silent, and Garrus in his half-awake state knows that something is wrong. Then he assesses his own situation – he is, despite his initial feeling, not in the battery or his bed. The metal grating moves underneath him as he rightens his body, assessing his suit for damage. Stats flicker up on his visor, confirming his general good health before he turns his attention to the room at large.

The floor rolls underneath him, the stark angle unnerving. Somewhere in the engine room he can already imagine Tali hard at work trying to restore the artificial gravity, along with whatever else was down. There are other crew-members throughout the CIC; some prone on the floor, others beginning to stir, and still others trying to make sense of the mess. In the dim light provided by the emergency systems, it is difficult to unravel. He hauls himself to his feet.

Shepard. Where's Shepard?

It is a familiar thought – she always managed to get lost or stuck somewhere, especially recently where separation had meant life-threatening decisions – but for a moment he forgets the day they have had and simply wonders where on the ship she might be. Probably in the cockpit with Joker, he decides, before the reality sinks in. Probably alone in the cold again – no, don't linger on that. Get her ship back in the air, she's waiting.

“Garrus!”

Behind him, the asari limps over, trembling against him as he loops an arm around her shoulders to support her. She looks terrified, and he wonders what she has seen so far in the chaos.

“Are you alright?”

“I'll be fine. Must have been something I landed on. What's going on up here?”

“I don't know... did you climb through the -”

“Maintenance shafts, yes. The power's completely gone.”

“Tali'll be working on it. Did you see Doctor Chakwas?”

“She's already working out triage down on the next level.”

“We should do the same,” decides the turian, scanning the room with a wary eye. “How good are you with human medical biology?”

“Better than you,” she manages to quip, before kneeling down with a wince. “Go see if there are any injuries in the cockpit.”

He nods agreement – something he could do – before heading through.

Even before he reaches the pilot, he can hear the hoarse shouting.

“Come on, EDI, don't do this to me. Wake up. Wake up!”

Stomach leaden, Garrus can only watch from the doorway as Jeff clings to the inert robot body that had housed the artificial intelligence, slamming a hand against the controls that similarly did not respond.

“Wake up! Don't you dare! Don't you dare leave me behind! Not like this!”

But there was no response. Garrus closes his eyes, unwilling to see the pilot weep.