AN/Mass Effect characters, story, and direct dialogue is the property of Bioware/EA Games. I own only my imagination ;)

Shepard watched as the Normandy flew back into the atmosphere, narrowly missing Harbinger's laser. At least they're safe. She thought before turning back towards the beam. This is it. One last shot and then it's over. She was exhausted. Her body and mind finally reaching their limits. Taking a slow, deep breath she readied herself to run.

It was only 300 yards or so to the beam, but Harbinger kept up his attack. Husks creeped in from all sides, in a last attempt to stop the approaching soldiers. Shepard could see the men and women falling, or flying through the air, all around her. Without letting up she made it to the last 20 yards.

"You cannot win." Harbingers distinct, thunderous voice called out. "The cycle must continue."

Shepard cried out. Harbinger had turned it's yellow, glowing eyes upon her. She saw the firing chamber open. She knew in an instant that she was too close to evade it. Kaidan, I love you. It was her last thought as she felt the intense heat, and then nothing.

Joker's hands flew across the console as he and EDI maneuvered the Normandy away from the ground battle and back into space. "EDI, what's the situation at the beam? Did Shepard make it?" Joker cried with an agonized voice. He had seen the devastation as they flew in to pick up Kaidan and Garrus. He knew Shepard wouldn't have called for the evac if there had been much of a hope.

Garrus struggled to keep Kaidan upright as he half dragged him into the elevator in the shuttle bay. "Garrus, we have to go back! We can't leave her! Please! We have to go back!" Kaidan cried out to the turian. "Joker! Turn around! We have to go back!" He called on the com, but there was no response from the pilot.

"Kaidan! We can't go back, you are in no condition to walk let alone run and fight. Don't make me knock you out. You need medical aid. Don't let Shepard's sac-" Garrus hesitated, "Shepard will get the job done. You know she will."

"Garrus, Harbinger was there! She can't-" his head and voice fell, struggling to overcome his worry and fear. The elevator opened on Deck 3 and Chawkwas was already there with a gurney to transport Kaidan the rest of the way into the medical bay.

"Don't you dare Garrus!" The Doctor called out as Garrus had turned toward the main battery. "You get your ass onto a bed so I can take care of those wounds. And don't you dare argue with me!" she cut off any retort when he had opened his mouth to speak. With a smirk, the turian followed them into the medical bay.

Dr. Chawkwas checked him over and applied medi-gel while the technician removed Alenko's armour. Garrus looked over as the chest plate was removed. A large gash was revealed spanning the length of his side. It was a wonder Kaidan had still been conscious, let alone walking and talking. Garrus stayed near as Chawkwas began cutting away the under armour and began work on the wound. The technician continued scanning the rest of Alenko with her omni-tool. "Third degree burns to most of the left side. Superficial facial lacerations. One broken and three fractured ribs. No sign of internal bleeding or organ damage. Blood loss at 21%."

"We need to get this bleeding under control before he goes into hypovelemic shock." Garrus watched as the Doctor expertly worked with fast hands. The medbay doors hissed open and Garrus turned to see Liara enter, concern etched into her features.

"How is he? She asked Garrus quietly.

"Unconscious, but seems to be alright considering." He answered calmly.

"And you? I saw the footage, it looked rough out there." Her big blue eyes looked at him in worry.

"I'm fine, all patched up. Kaidan was closer to the-"

"GARRUS!" he was cut off by a raging Tali bursting through the doors. "Are you alright? Are you hurt? Let me see! You boshtet! Why didn't you call for me right away? You need to lay down! Why aren't you laying down?"

"Tali, if you could keep your voice down it would be much appreciated given the current situation." Doctor Chawkwas voice called out calmly, distracting Tali from her monologue of questions. Garrus was sure that Tali was gaining a delightful shade of red in her face under the mask. The thought made him smirk.

"Tali, I'm fine, I was just staying to keep up to date with Alenko's condition. Let's go to the lounge, and you can coddle me all you want." Garrus smirked as he led Tali by the hand, out the med-bay doors. "Let me know if anything changes Doctor."

Liara could hear the humour in his voice and smiled. I wonder when that happened? She thought, wondering what else she missed the past few months cloistered away in her quarters. Liara looked over at Kaidan with concern. Fight Kaidan, she will need you. "Doctor Chawkwas I will be up in the cockpit with Joker. Please inform us if there is any change in the Major's medical condition." With that she walked out and headed towards the elevator.

Admiral Hackett looked out over the destruction occurring near Earth from their defensive approach. So much death. He cringed inwardly as yet another Allied ship exploded from a Reaper beam. Come on Commander, we need this done soon. Get those arms open. "Patch back into Hammer's radio signals. I need to hear what's going on." He ordered calmly. There was only static before a voice could be heard.

"Oh God." *static* "They're all gone." *static*

"Did we get anyone to the beam?" *static*

"Negative. Our entire force was decimated." *static* "It's too much! We need to regroup. Fall back to the village."

"Hammer is wiped out. All forces retreat!" *static* "Pull back! Pull back!"

Hackett's head fell, as he braced himself on the railing. What do we do now? How has it come to this? "Hammer has failed to reach the citadel. Order a full-"

"Admiral!" an ensign interrupted from beside him. He paused in embarrassment realizing what he's done "Sorry Sir, but I'm getting readings from the citadel! Someone made it!" A flicker of hope sparked back in his chest.

"Holy shit. She did it."

***To Be Continued...***


Why is Shepard " " on stories lately? Who did this and how do we fix it?

I've never been great at dialogue, any tips would be helpful. Feedback on Tali and Garrus? Trying to get a better feel of the characters but I don't think they came across correctly. I feel I got Liara's nuance though. Advice?