AN: It's been a while since I updated this story. Needless to say, I've decided to resurrect it after getting into the writing craze again.

This story will follow the life of Shepard as she grows up from a child to the infamous soldier we all know. It will cover aspects of childhood, her time in the Alliance, and the events of ME1, ME2, and ME3 (yep, it's going to be a long ride). Eventual Shenko. ;)

A special thanks to Nightodie, who told me: "If a Shepard has shown her colors to you, she wants to be written…don't disappoint her". This story is the result of that one statement. :D

Also, thanks to iNf3ctioNZ, TheRev28, and quantumparadigm, who not only took the time to read this but also offered suggestions and encouraged me to upload.

I leave you with an intro of sorts…a taste of the end…enjoy!

Shepard clenched her teeth against the excruciating pain she felt with every step she took. She could feel the warm blood trickling down her arm, leaving a dotted trail as she slowly limped up the ramp. She let out a low grunt as she reached the tube, determined to see it through despite having every nerve, every muscle in her body burn like it was on fire.

The pistol in her hand was slick with blood, and she tightened her grip on it as she raised her arm and took aim. The first shot rang out.

Joker's image flashed before her eyes.

Joker, you glorious, cheeky bastard, she thought ruefully, though the corner of her mouth quirked up into a smile. Always ready with a quip and a sardonic smirk. He'd been with her from the beginning, relentlessly supporting her despite all the trouble she left in her wake. She silently chastised herself for not giving him a proper goodbye…for not telling him what he meant to her. That under all that sarcasm and beneath every wisecrack and stupid one-liner, he was more than her friend…he was her brother.

She pulled the trigger again. Another shot exploded from her pistol.

Kaidan's form materialized in front of her.

Sweet, loving Kaidan, with his serious yet warm eyes that penetrated her very soul. She flinched at the pang in her heart. I'm so sorry, she whispered at the thought of so much time wasted. Months spent too afraid of breaking the regs, almost three years of unbearable separation after her death and resurrection...too much time wasted at being angry when she should have made amends. But she was more than grateful for the time she had spent with him. Grateful and thankful to him for pushing past that wall and awakening her heart. I love you, Kaidan...until the end of time.

Her hand shook as she pulled the trigger yet again, her waning strength suddenly filled with new resolve.

Anderson's face filled her vision.

For a moment, she faltered. A sob got caught in her throat, but she blinked back her tears. The man had started as her mentor and had grown into the father she never had. She'd once told him he had a warrior's soul and a gentle heart. He had saved her from herself, given her a sense of direction from a life she thought was lacking purpose. Through thick and thin, the best of times, the worst of times, her struggles, successes, victories and failures...he had been her rock, the one guiding light when it seemed like everything had gone dark. He was right...she owed him more than one, and she would be damned if she didn't finish what she started. This is for you, old friend, she thought ardently, doubling the grip on her weapon with a fierce determination.

Once more, she fired, then gasped in surprise at the heat that blasted her body.

"I understand, Commander. I don't regret a thing."

Shepard raised her hands up in a feeble attempt to ward off the intensity of the explosion.

"Had to be me...someone else might have gotten it wrong."

The blast sent her flying back, heat enveloping her limp body as it sailed through the air.

"The universe is a dark place. I'm trying to make it brighter before I die."

She painfully collided against a far wall, breath knocked out of her at the jarring impact.

"Does this unit have a soul?"

Her body slid to the floor, and she let out an agonizing groan.

"You did good, child. You did good. I'm proud of you."

It was over. She had destroyed them. She could rest...she could finally rest. The excruciating pain from before was now, thankfully, beginning to numb. Her eyes grew heavy, and with one last sigh, she succumbed to the darkness.