Everything about the world has changed. Nothing feels the same. And yet, at the same time, there is a small glimmer of familiarity-a tiny ray of hope that this world will persevere through the challenges that continue to try to bring it down. The people of this galaxy are blissfully unaware, or perhaps simply can't be bothered to care, of these trials that their entire world goes through. But they have yet to discover one challenge that their galaxy cannot overcome - that they will be doomed to face. When it arrives, these people's reality will be shattered and they will be forced to face the one ruling mantra that governs the galaxy: Life does not matter. It is fleeting and cannot be sustained. Perhaps it was never meant to.

This is a lesson that was learned many years ago and will never be forgotten. Nothing will change. There is no hope left. No life. For all intents and purposes, the whole world is dead. The galaxy and everyone in it is dead. This is an inescapable truth that cannot be denied or avoided.

But yet, that small glimmer of hope continues to shine in the darkness-a light at the end of the tunnel. The darkness tries to swallow it-extinguish it- repeatedly. But the light continues to burn. And if she didn't know any better, she would have thought that it was getting brighter.

Amalia stirred awake from her restless sleep. She blinked dark lashes over her strange bright blue eyes - so bright, in fact, that they appeared to glow. She shifted her form upon the makeshift cot, the material groaning under her in protest. These things were never comfortable, but she wouldn't complain. It was better than the floor. Amalia blinked her eyes as they adjusted to the sunlight pouring through the window. Propping herself slowly up on her elbow, Amalia raised herself into a sitting position upon her supposed bed. She reached up a hand to massage the bridge of her nose. She never did wake up with a good night's sleep. And sleep deprivation only gave her a headache when she awoke that ranged from mild to mind numbing. It appears she was lucky this morning. There was only minor throbbing. Perhaps this was a sign that this day was going to be at least slightly better than all the others. Then again, maybe it wasn't.

A knock on the door alerted Amalia to someone on the other side of the door, even though she had heard them coming down the hall towards her room before they had even reached it. With a deep sigh the young woman swept her black locks behind her ears, rose to her feet, and strode towards the door. Her pale fingers reached towards pad beside the door. She punched a button on the door and it instantly hissed open.

Her blue eyes shifted, almost lazily to who stood just outside the threshold to her room. Before her stood a boy - or what she perceived to be a boy. He couldn't be any younger or older than eighteen. He was clad in light armor with an assault rifle strapped across his back. From the rather jumpy look to his expression, Amalia could only guess that he was rather fresh to the army.

As soon as the door opened, the boy instantly straightened. He brought his hand to his forehead, probably out of habit. "Uh, hello ma'am. I've been sent to escort you to the dig site," he said rather shakily. Clearly he hadn't been with the army long enough to have a strong commanding tone.

Amalia's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "You do realize you don't need to salute me, right?" she asked, leaning against the door jamb rather casually.

The soldier hesitated, just now realizing his error. His hand lowered slowly back down to his side. He wore a sheepish look upon his young face. "Sorry about that ma'am," he responded quickly.

"It's no problem." She pushed away from the door jamb. "And don't call me ma'am," she told him a little more sternly than she intended.

The boy nodded immediately. "Yes, of course."

Amalia nodded, her expression remaining stoic as she regarded him. "Well then, shall we go?"

"Yes, but…." He paused, his eyes trailing down her body for a moment before returning to her face. The action elicited an icy glare from Amalia which caused the boy to squirm slightly. He quickly gestured to her. "Are you sure you wouldn't want to change first?" he asked. The words came out quickly, spilling forth from his lips before he lost what courage he had left.

Amalia's expression did not change. Her eyes remained narrowed, her blue eyes hardening as they bored into his face. Her lips were contorted into a frown. Her dark brows were pointed fiercely downward, like lightning bolts. She crossed her arms over her chest, not even looking down at herself in response to the boy soldier's question. She was wearing what she had arrived in last night: dark jeans, knee high brown boots, a long sleeve white shirt, a brown leather jacket, fingerless black gloves, and a necklace on a brown leather string tucked safely beneath the collar of her shirt and out of sight. She had fallen asleep in the clothes she had arrived in the previous night, not bothering to change or remove her boots as she had collapsed onto the given cot. They were more than a little rumpled, but she could care less.

They stood there in uncomfortable silence - well, uncomfortable for him at least. The soldier fidgeted a little on his feet before he took a deep breath and asked, "Shall we go?"

Amalia nodded, her expression not changing. She uncrossed her arms, allowing them to return to her sides. The soldier instantly turned on his heel and began to lead the way down the hall. Amalia turned around and walked back into her room for a moment. Reaching underneath her makeshift bed, Amalia pulled out a worn brown leather shoulder bag. She swiftly slung it over one shoulder, the bag resting securely on her hip. She also had a duffel bag filled with other belongings but it could stay here. There was nothing that she absolutely needed from there. Everything that she needed was in her shoulder bag and remained on her person at all times. Everything within was something that cannot be so easily replaced, things that she needed. Anything else was shoved into the duffel bag: clothes, toiletries, and other such things.

Turning away from the bed, Amalia went through the door. Automatically it closed behind her with a hiss. Turning around, she quickly entered a code into the nearby pad to lock it. As soon as she had finished, the light upon the door turned red, signifying it was now secured. She was sure that more than one person had the code to unlock her room, but she didn't really care. If someone did break in, all they would find was a bag full of clothes and other such things - things she had no real attachment to.

Satisfied, Amalia turned around and began to head down the hall after the soldier. He had stopped in his march, apparently waiting for her. Once she was close, he turned around once more and began to lead the way down the hall. As she followed, her bright blue eyes scrutinized his back. It wasn't hard to notice the stiff posture with which he carried himself. Coupled with furtive glances he sent her over his shoulder. She made him nervous. Amalia couldn't be sure of the exact reason why. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that she wasn't exactly in the most joyous of moods, both today and last night when she had first met him. Or maybe it was the fact that the mysterious reasons for her presence - ones that were probably undisclosed to him. More than likely, no one knew the true reason for her presence. Truth be told, she could have forced a smile onto her face and been more amiable, but she didn't have the patience or enough sleep to even attempt such a feat.

Reaching the end of the hall, the soldier took a hard right with Amalia following. Just a few steps around the corner was a door. As soon as they were nearby, it opened automatically. They were instantly greeted by a light breeze and a rush of sunlight through the open doorway. Squinting their eyes slightly, the duo walked through the entryway and into the rest of the world, the door hissing shut behind them.

Eden Prime. It was supposed to be a paradise. The land was lush and green with rolling hills that stretched away as far as the eye could see. Fluffy white clouds drifted lazily through the clear blue sky. Some type of alien birds flew through the sky in large flocks high above the rest of the world. Forests coated the landscape as far as the eye could see with rivers carving their way through. On the edge of the woods were fields upon fields of crops, their bounty waving in the gentle breeze. An idyllic farming colony indeed.

Amalia returned her attention to the young soldier in front of her. She continued to follow him down the stairs and into the depths of the colony. Not many people were about, most of them working the fields this time of day. The ones they did encounter cast more than one wary glance in their direction – more than once stopping to exchange hurried whispers. Amalia ignored them as did the young soldier. They both had received more than a few of those reactions since they had arrived and it wasn't without just cause.

As her boots crunched on the crisp grass as she walked, Amalia cast her gaze skyward above the colony to the Prothean towers beyond. It was clear that this was a colony for the Protheans themselves in their own time. The towers, which should have been skyscrapers, were now buried beneath the changing earth. Now only the pinnacles of their creation were visible. This was a hot destination for any self-respecting Prothean expert and it was for valid reason. All of them dreamed of uncovering the next big find – putting their name at the forefront of the field and earning respect. And this was their moment.

After about 15 minutes of walking, they approached the reason for their presence. The boy, casting a glance over his shoulder as if to make sure she was still following, led her down a steep hill. Amalia could already see the tall towers of intricately constructed stone surrounding the masonry rotunda as she wound her way down the hill. The presence of soldiers and scientists suddenly increased tenfold. Before they could round the final corner and come into view of their goal. They approached two Alliance soldiers barring passage.

Amalia could see her escort's shoulders tighten with purpose. With all the authority he could muster, he strode up to the two soldiers, snapped to attention, and gave a swift salute. "Private Okerblom reporting in," he said, his voice almost imperceptively deeper, Amalia noticed. His hand dropped to his side. "I've brought Ms. Carter with me to inspect the dig site."

The soldiers met eyes with the private and then looked past him to Amalia. They surveyed her closely. Not many people know about what they are guarding – less still are allowed to come and take a look. They seemed to gauge her intentions for a few seconds longer before one of them brought up their omni tool. The familiar orange light surrounded his right arm. With his left, he swiped his hand a few times until a list appeared in the air above the tool. He searched for a few moments longer until he found what he was looking for and selected it. Even reversed, Amalia could see that he was verifying her credentials that had been sent ahead of her through the appropriate channels. She could see a picture of herself that both of the soldiers were scrutinizing for anything out of place.

Finally, with a tap and a dismissive gesture, the soldiers stepped out of the way. "Move along then," one of them said.

Private Okerblom saluted once more before leading the way past them. Amalia proceeded after him, not once taking her eyes off of the assault rifles the guards held ready in their hands until she was out of their line of sight.

The private and Amalia descended the rest of the way down the hill, the steep incline causing her feet to slide to the front of her boots and squish her toes. But within in seconds they rounded the bend, past the massive stone pillars that blockaded their view before, and saw what everyone was so fascinated by.

In front of her was a medium sized concrete rotunda. The flooring was cracked and uneven, some of it still partially buried as it was still unearthed. Roots and vines wormed their way through every crack and crevice of the structure, exploiting any weakness to gain a foothold for their own benefit. But what was in the center of the rotunda was what caught her attention and captivated everyone around her.

Initially, you might perceive it to be an old rusty looking slab of metal, nothing worth note except as another derelict relic of the Prothean past. But Amalia and everyone surrounding her knew this was not the case – it was far more than that. From beneath the dirt and grime a slow and steady pulse of light could be seen emanating from the object from veins of energy that wove its way around its surface. An almost imperceptible hum could be heard above the hustle and bustle of the numerous soldiers and scientists. Amalia felt the hair the back of her neck stand on end, as if there was some kind of an energy in the air surrounding it.

Scientists and archaeologists fussed about the area, using their omni tools to scan the artifact without touching it. Others used small, delicate brushes and clothes to gently clean away the remaining dirt and grime on the slab, trying to return it to its former glory. Soldiers ringed the rotunda, all with weapons drawn and heads on a swivel. Some were placed further away to ensure no colonists approached or got too close, their gazes directed outward. But there were others within the rotunda that were watching the scientists with a scrutinizing eye, fingers ever on the trigger of their guns. The soldiers regarded them with just a cold distance that Amalia had no doubt they were ready to put them down if any such need arose.

She held little interest for Prothean relics but she understood the gravity of such a find for the scientific community. If they could access what was on this object, it could lead to breakthroughs on Prothean life, history, culture. But the presence of the soldiers certainly pointed to another alternative for the contents, Amalia thought as she cast a glance about. It could be plans for technology or even weapons. Something that would leap society forward by leaps and bounds. And it was in the hands of the humans – the newcomers to the spacefaring world.

Amalia half wondered if they had even shared with the Council on the Citadel what had been discovered on Eden Prime. Or if they were planning on keeping it for themselves – to use it to advance themselves past the other species on the evolutionary and societal chain. Humans could always be a little greedy in that way, especially as they try to claw their way into a Council seat. Or maybe they just want to verify that there is nothing they can use first and then they will hand it over to the Council races. There's no real way for Amalia to be sure of their present intentions.

Her inner thoughts were interrupted as Private Okerblom turned to face her. "Okay ma'-" the last word caught in his throat as Amalia turned to look at him, her eyes narrowed. He shook his slightly as if to clear his head. "Sorry. Ms. Carter. I am required to give you some direction on what is not allowed with the object based on your clearance." He took a deep breath, mustering up that commanding posture and tone he had displayed earlier. His omni tool flashed to life, the orange light illuminating his still young face. Amalia could see a list attachment pop up and he began to read it aloud. "One, you are not allowed to touch the artifact. Two, use of your omni tool is prohibited while in proximity to the artifact. This means, pictures, lists, and/or recording programs are all prohibited. Three, you are not to get within ten feet of the artifact. Four, you are not allowed to disturb the scientists currently working on the artifact. The definition of a disturbance will be determined by the affected scientist or the witnessing guard. If any of these rules are not obeyed your credentials will be revoked and you will be detained. As I have read these rules, is there anything that requires more understanding?"

Okerblom's eyes flicked up from his omni tool to look at the other woman. "No," she replied very simply.

He nodded and closed his omni tool, his arm returning to his side. "Alright then, Ms. Carter. Please let me know when you wish to leave and I will escort you back to your quarters." With that, he turned on his heel and proceeded to the outer rim of the rotunda. Amalia watched him as he faced his back to the concrete wall and placed his arms behind his back in an "at ease" posture. Even though he appeared to be a new recruit, he knew enough to never let his eyes stray from his charge.

It didn't really affect her in any way, though, to have someone watch her. There were dozens of people in the area. Its not like she planned to do anything anyways. All she had to do was observe the relic. Amalia watched the scientists fawn over the artifact, like they had just discovered some relic of their god. She could almost hear their gloating speeches that they would speak at conferences and conventions, boasting about their discovery to all their colleagues, swirling around in their heads.

Amalia heard two scientists off to her left discussing the object. Her blue eyes remained fixed on the Prothean artifact as she listened to the man and woman discuss their findings.

"It's incredible, I tell you!" the man chattered excitedly, in some kind of middle eastern accent. "The fact that it is this well preserved certainly speaks to the prowess of the Protheans and their technology."

Amalia rolled her eyes but kept listening.

"It's amazing. And the fact that the beacon still has power after 50,000 years. It's….its impossible to comprehend. To think, if Dr. Sekely hadn't been the lucky bastard that he is, we never would have found this," the woman stated in obvious incredulity, her British accent offering a lilt to the conversation.

Amalia's blue eyes refocused on the Prothean object. A beacon? So that's what they were calling it? But a beacon to what?

Amalia Carter paced around the borders of the rotunda for about two hours, watching the Prothean beacon be cleared off. She listened to various scientists with their hurried murmurings of the implications of the artifact and details about what they are finding so far just from their surface examinations, which was much to be honest.

The scientists seemed to be as restricted as she was so she didn't doubt they couldn't glean much information. At the end of the two hours, the beacon was cleared off, his metallic surface glinting in the noonday sun. It was then that she realized why the scientists weren't allowed to get close yet. The beacon was being moved. She didn't hear who was coming to take it, only that there were rumors of a Spectre being along to escort it. So they had decided to play nice and involve the Council after all.

As it was, there was nothing left that Amalia could glean, either from the beacon or the surrounding personnel. Everyone seemed to be kept in the dark on purpose in order to ensure the beacon's safety. The young woman beckoned to her escort and he quickly appeared by her side and began to lead the way back to her temporary quarters. They passed a few colony residents and groups of patrolling soldiers but Amalia paid them no heed. Not even the warmth of the sun or the refreshing breeze could tear her from her thoughts as she turned over and over in her head any possible implications of this beacon and if further action was needed.

Before she knew it, Amalia was standing in front of the door to her quarters. Had she really been that distracted? She inwardly kicked herself for being so foolish and strengthened her resolve for such a distraction to never happen again. She knew better.

The dark haired woman swiveled slightly to nod her head to Okerblom. "Private," she said. The boy solider just nodded back to her, still watching her with that wary eye. She sensed even a bit of curiosity behind that stare. She wondered if he was questioning why she would come all this way just to circle the ancient device for two hours, not even approaching the maximum distance allotted like every other curious attendee, ask no questions, and then leave. Amalia wondered if Okerblom held suspicions about her. If that was the case, then she was at least mildly impressed by his astuteness. But then again, he might not have even paid that close attention and this is all conjecture to her.

Amalia took a step forward, punched in the pin number to her door on the red keypad, and the door hissed open. She proceeded through without a backwards glance to her escort, the door shutting securely behind her. The young woman just stood there for a moment, enjoying the silence of her room, glad to be away from the crowds. She leaned back until her shoulders met the cool metal surface of her door. Her head tilted back to relax against the door. Her lashes closed over her strange blue eyes as she focused on her breathing. In and out. In and out. In and out. Her mind began to develop more clarity as she emptied it of all the thoughts swirling around in her head. Amalia could hear the unique calls of the Eden Prime wildlife, feel the warmth of the sun on her skin as it streamed through the window, sense the breeze as it drifted through the room, hear the slight rustle of her curtains as they stirred. The idyllic green world. That it certainly was.

Suddenly, Amalia's clarity was disrupted as the sunlight vanished. Her eyelids peeked open as she straightened to her standing position, her brows furrowing in confusion. Her blue eyes fixated on the land outside her window. Beyond, the land of green rolling hills was being swallowed by a dark shadow. She could hear the rustle of trees and grass and the wind began to pick up.

The young woman took a few long strides to stand before her window to get a better look. She spied alien birds squawking and flying as fast as they could away from the darkness that was slowly spreading across the land. It was then that she realized that the source of the darkness was coming from the other side of the building, out of her line of sight.

A growing pit began to develop in her stomach. Something was wrong. Something was very very wrong.

Amalia pushed away from the window and whirled around to head through her door. It hissed open automatically before her, allowing her exit. She entered the long hallway. She could hear a few people's hushed and hurried whispers to each other. They sounded worried. As she walked down the hallway, another man came out of his room. He cast a furtive glance in her direction before rushing down the hallway toward the outside world, same as her. Something was clearly happening. And by the feeling of dread growing within her, it couldn't be good.

A few rapid heartbeats later, Amalia exited through the exterior door. She expected to be temporarily blinded by the sunlight, as she had earlier that day, but she wasn't. Her blue eyes cast skyward as she saw dark roiling cloud blacking out the sky and continuing to rapidly spread across the peace and quiet of Eden Prime.

Amalia glanced about the colony. Many people were outside of their homes observing the strange phenomena in the sky, pointing and worried. A few people even ran inside and locked their doors out of fear. They could sense something dangerous too. Like a predator was approaching.

As she cast her eyes about, the dark haired woman spied her escort, Private Okerblom, standing a short ways off. Immediately, Amalia started to walk towards him, her long strides quickly eating up the distance between them. He didn't make it far from her, having left only moments before the commotion started. His eyes flashed to her at the first sign of movement approaching. He was tense, every muscle appearing coiled and ready to spring. His gun was drawn as he had been using the scope to get a better view of the strange cloud. "Ma'am," he greeted, turning towards her with a nod.

Amalia ignored the "ma'am" comment, considering there seemed to be bigger issues at hand. "Private," she greeted back. "What is happening out here?" She gestured her hand to the blackened sky.

"I believe it's just an effect of the Alliance escort cruiser for the artifact entering the atmosphere. Nothing to worry about," he answered very simply, with a shrug. But his tense posture and his sturdy grip on his gun told another story. He was guessing. He wasn't sure what was going on either. The poor boy was just doing his best to keep the public calm.

"When did this start?" Amalia inquired further, her eyes flicking upwards to the sky.

"Only about a minute ago. Should see a ship any moment now," he replied, his gaze likewise locked onto the sky.

It was then that Amalia noticed an ominous red glow start to appear in the center of the cloud. It began to get brighter and spread across the dark mass in the sky. But on top of that, Amalia started to hear a dull roar, like very large thrusters, approaching from above. The young woman relaxed a bit. Maybe the boy was right. It was just a cruiser entering the atmosphere.

Suddenly, an earsplitting screech ripped across the entirety of Eden Prime.

A/N: Hello everyone, this is severely over due but this is a rewrite of my fanfic Sweet Dreams of Sanctuary. This is going to be a slow burn romance between Garrus and an OC (Amalia). Amalia is going to have a bit of a mysterious past, which you may already know if you read my original fic. I greatly enjoy hearing theories on what exactly her past is so I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are.

I am going to be doing a Male Shepard but I'm not positive on who his pairing is going to be yet. I'd love to hear some input on which pairing you think is best and you just may get to see yet another fanfiction written about it. I'm also always open to taking ideas for my stories about situations, lines, jokes, or interactions you'd like to see.

One thing to note is that I'm very interested in keeping the story and characters as true to the story as I can. I'm always looking for tips on how to improve my writing and story so reviews are extremely welcome and strongly encouraged. Please review this first chapter to let me know what you think so far and any expectations you have!

Thank you for reading!