I would like to apologise to those who previously read this story. I took it down to re-edit it and decided that I wanted to change some things. This is being published once a good chunk of the story has been written, I know what it's like waiting on that chapter that never arrives, so hopefully we can avoid that here. (Currently sitting on 30,000 words with 15 chapters already written. Aiming to publish a chapter at least once a week, possibly more.)
Some world building notes to be aware of: This story ignores the Citadel DLC. The various members of Shepard's team have not met unless it was possible for them to be squad mates on the Normandy, or it is likely that they met during the original trilogy.
While this is rated T, this chapter is mostly K. The rating will most likely change to M at a later date, but I'll try and make it so you can skip any sections you feel uncomfortable with. It's a pretty short intro, and some of you may have read it previously. It has been edited, and there have been some additions/subtractions to the narrative.
Without further ado, here goes it!
Prologue - The Beginning in the End
The war had been over for three days.
Enough time for the smell of death to seep into clothes and skin, deep enough that it might never come out. The inhabitants of Earth soon became concerned with a wider range of problems; when there were more dead than the living, how did you cope with the backlog? Freshwater became scarce, and diseases such as Cholera and Typhoid returned.
They were talking about mass-destruction; the idea that by starting again, burning the Earth clean, they could contain the infections. They couldn't explain how they were going to house, feed or hydrate everyone while they did that.
For three days, the skies were filled with debris from the destroyed; Reapers and Alliance ships all falling to the Earth, the same in destruction. That was true as well for Earth itself; piles of bodies, whether human or not, lay side by side, indistinguishable from the blackened rubble surrounding them.
There were amazing sunsets in the beginning.
By the end of the fourth day, desperation set in. Nobody could get word to anyone outside the local cluster, and all deep space transmission had gone dark. Things still worked; we could take off, land, travel to Mars, communicate with other species, but it was as if space beyond the Sol System no longer existed. The Mass Relay had been destroyed; no one knew how.
Mass graves became the norm, and individual burials were reserved for those with money, connections, or for those whom the whole of Earth's remaining population mourned: Colonel David Edward Anderson's funeral was attended by thousands, Henry Lawson's was attended by four.
A further twenty-four hours went past, and a temporary government was set up in the old Justice Building in Old New York. By the end of the week refugee camps were set up but medical professionals and supplies were stretched to breaking point. The survivor camps are closer in description to the refugee camps at the Calais Jungle and Mexico-US border of the early 21st Century than anything the remains of the modern tower blocks would have you believe.
Despite this there was hope; a whisper had reached the survivors of Shepard. No one had heard of the legendary Spectre since the destruction of the Citadel, and the Normandy SR2 had been reported missing in action, its crew presumed dead. But humanity had survived, and, although they didn't know it yet, Shepard had as well.
The war had been over eight days, and Shepard was still alive.