A Mass Effect Story by Vyrexuviel

Disclaimer: The author of this story does not, in any way, profit from the story and all creative rights to the characters belong to their original creator(s).

The most terrifying thing about dying was the silence of it.

Shepard just managed to hit the eject button for Joker's escape pod before the explosion rippled through what little atmosphere was left in the Normandy. The explosion ripped through her in a wave of crushing force and sent her hurling first into a support beam, then through the roofless CIC and into raw space, all of it in dead silence. The first sound that Aurora "Valkyrie" Shepard heard after the death of the Normandy was the hissing of her burst airhose. She struggled with it, trying to hold in her precious oxygen for a few more seconds, before realizing that it was futile. She needed a miracle to survive this experience, being hurled into space from a dying ship, with no suit-repair kit to hand. She was going to die and nothing she could do would save her.

That was when the migrane hit, hard and fast; but through the pain, her determination to survive, to thrive, to come to grips with Death himself and battle him into submission rose to the fore. She hadn't survived the Batarian raid on Mindoir or the Skyllian Blitz to die like this! The visor of her helmet turned toward the planet below as she screamed her defiance of death at the universe, even as her body was caught in the planet's atmosphere. She struck with unimaginable force, her armor burning away as she fell, screaming, not in fear or pain, but in fury.


The Old Minds felt the impact. A mind! A mind! Another mind after so, so long alone! They felt outward toward the surface, having been buried beneath drifting ice and snow that gradually compacted around their super-hard form.

It's fading fast! We must help it! There! The poor fleshy thing had been pierced by the top of their Spire, in fact, and it's internal fluid was melting the ice encasing its tip.

Compatibility! It is carbon-based, using calcium for support structure, iron-based particulates suspended in a hydrogen/oxygen compound. Most of it's body is hydrogen/oxygen!

It cannot survive here for long, we must help it!

Helping it will compromise Our integrity!

Our integrity doesn't matter, we are degrading anyway, why not hasten the process to ensure this mind's survival? It's carrier body will not survive much longer, we must -act-, not dither like hatchlings!

But HOW do we help it? We lost the manipulators 73043.692 long cycles ago!

The Old Minds worked quickly, sending electrical impulses spiraling in intricate, dizzying, fractal patterns throughout the mammoth underground structure, which began deep below the surface and rose to a needle-point protruding about three inches above the surface and into the body of the creature that had landed on them. In nano-cycles, they had reached a consensus. The 413 individual minds of the greatest scientists, philosophers, and poets of the age had been given the dubious honor of being refracted into a crystalline housing, to avoid the Demons of Entropy that were destroying their worlds one by one. The manipulators had failed about 85 cycles after the Purge had ceased, crumbling to dust in the increasing cold caused by the altered orbit of the planet. The shelling had slowly pushed the planet into a further orbit from it's primary, and it was just lucky that the crystal used to house the chosen few hadn't been one that was sensitive to cold. Though, at this long last, the crystal housing them was beginning to break down.

We must hurry. There is only one way. We must spread seed crystals throughout it's body and convert it like the Manipulators were converted from those curious tripeds.

But that might kill it, and most certainly will hasten the disintegration! The manipulators were the culmination of decades of study on the tripeds, we don't have the time for a similar in-depth study of this creature!

It is the only reasonable course of action. We have survived long past our time, and past our species' annihilation. This creature is from -now-. We must aid it as much as we can, since the timing is right for another Purge, if our xenoarcheology reports were accurate.

They were. This will be the 43rd Purge since our own.

Then we must do whatever we can to aid this creature survive the Purge. It was the reason we were refracted into this container to begin with, we MUST help!

Consensus was achieved, though slowly from some quarters, and the process began. They began by carefully partitioning off an area of the Spire for the creature's alien mind, then siphoning it from the creature into that storage space to save it from being damaged by the conversion process. Electrical discharges kept the creature's fluid-circulating organ functioning while thermal pulses kept it from freezing prematurely. Tiny specks of the most advanced crystal ever produced on Zentaila were slowly broken off into the circulatory fluid and guided via precise electrical currents to their proper place. The entire process used up approximately the top rell of the Spire, a measure in human terms of 9.3 millimeters, the seed crystals embedding into different organs and growing according to the electrical and thermal changes that the Old Minds carefully orchestrated throughout the twitching, jerking, electrified body impaled atop them. Slowly, the crystals grew, spreading out and absorbing the chemicals in the creature's body, assimilating their content and function, improving it and strengthening the creature against both cold and electricity, though the crystal's properties allow for near-limitless electrical storage capacity as well as high shock-resistance and tensile strength. Piezoelectric crystals grew in place of musculature, high-tensile crystals replaced bone, other crystals that secreted special fluids that other crystals used for self-repair and growth. It was a masterwork of crystal engineering, taking all of five minutes to complete the initial dispersal, a massive jolt of electrical energy jump-starting the conversion process. When at last the new body was complete, the Old Minds carefully fed the creature's mind back into it's new body, along with a wealth of information about the Old Minds.

That's all we can do now. Let's hope our Last Legacy will remember us.

About that, there may have been some leakage from the partition into the Main Nexus, and vice versa...


The creature may have some of our memories, some skill or technical knowledge, we aren't sure yet, accessing the places the creature's mind touched is extremely difficult. It's mind was not organized to any high degree, like Ours are.

Well, we shall hope for the best, then.


Opening her eyes took a great deal of effort, to crack the ice that had formed over them. Was that normal? She couldn't remember if it was or wasn't. Pain flared in dull beats across her body, and all she could see was white or black. The black was the twisted, charred pieces of some ship or other, the white was the snow. She licked her cracked lips, feeling the splits closing. This didn't taste like snow. How could she tell that? Doesn't matter, survival first.

She stood, the remnants of some sort of clothing sloughing from her, just a few badly-charred plates left, the rest having either burned off, melted, or crumbled in the cold. A frigid wind blew, but she didn't shiver. Her pale skin blended with the snow as she gazed around in confusion. Where the hell was she? For that matter, -who- was she? She looked down at the armor, and all she could see of it was a fragment of chestplate. She picked it up, her fingers slowly turning from a pale pinkish to a pale bluish color as she did, turning it over. Something about this piece was familiar, but she couldn't for the life of her figure out -what-. She stroked the symbols on the front, then dropped the chestplate piece, turning and looking at the crumbled remnats of the ship around her. She began pacing slowly away from where she woke, the last remnants of her armor peeling and flaking off, leaving a short trail in the snow before all that's left is footprints. And at the start of the trail, a chestplate piece, with N7 inscribed on it's charred, blackened surface rested beside the rapidly-disintegrating spire that poked above the surface of Alchera's ice. Soon, no trace of the Spire's existence remained, having crumbled to dust.

The mobile platform's foot ground into the powdery surface of Alchera as it dropped to one knee, examining the wreckage. Several processes were examining data it's myriad sensor systems accumulated about the wrecked ship on the surface.

Process 0117: There is not much left of the ship.
Process 0031: There does not need to be.
Process 1002: Interesting. An armor fragment.

The geth platform carefully extracted a fragment of an N7 armor chestplate from the wreckage, scanning it intently.

Process 0082: It should serve.
Process 1137: It's dimensions will have to be adjusted.
Process 0009: Repair protocols initiated.

Slowly and methodically, the badly damaged prototype independent geth construct began working the armor fragment into a serviceable patch for the gaping hole in it's torso. All the while, other processes worked to examine the rest of the site, monitoring for any hostile activity or interesting piece of data. The platform paused, turned and moved to another, smaller patch of debris.

Process 1182: Scan results conclusive.
Process 1181: This was Shepard-Commander's armor.
Process 1183: We should preserve it.
Process 0001: Where is Shepard-Commander now?

Using pieces of the nearly-charred armor chestplate and the other armor chunk it had procured, the Geth platform began repairs.

Process 0730: Fresh snowfall.
Process 0787: Outlines faint.
Process 0755: Tracks!

That got many other processes' attention, and the ground was thoroughly examined.

Process 0770: Debris trail indicates crumbling off a moving body.
Process 0008: Self-moving or impelled?
Process 0774: Self moving.
Process 0776: Tracks indicate debris was dislodged by motion of the body they were attached to.
Process 0006: Conclusions?
Process 0779: Shepard-Commander is alive.

That thought brought a momentary pause. A full millisecond of awed silence reigned, then many processes went into high gear, attempting to solve how this might be achieved, given the available data, while many others were tasked to follow the trail as far as it could be followed. The construct trudged off through the gathering snowstorm, oblivious to the sub-zero temperatures or the rising gale.

She danced slowly through the kata, taking time to get it -right-, even if it means doing each motion hundreds of times. She might not know who She was, but She remembered some of the training She once had. Whoever She had been, She had been a warrior, that much was clear.


She begain the kata once more, working through the whole with only a few fumbles, quickly corrected.


With little to do in this place, She spent her time as best she could figure out how. She had been a warrior? Fine. She'll perfect her skill with what motions She could remember.


She slowed. Something was different. She turned. There. Just at the top of that rise, something warmer than the rest of this icy place. Another creature, then. No matter, She'll deal with it the same way She had with all the rest.


Perfection waits for no distractions.

Justin James, 'JJ' to his squad mates, crouched on the rim of the crater-like valley. The shelter was odd, a haphazard pile of chunks of ice mortared with refrozen snow, but what really caught his eye was the figure doing some sort of martial arts form out in the open. It was clad in torn scraps of an armor undersuit, and moved with an unearthly grace. JJ hadn't seen even the asari commandos his group occasionally worked with move that well. And she was doing it at a rapid pace that should have tired her out quickly, but she'd been keeping it up for over fifteen minutes.

He touched his earpiece to activate his intercomm. "Chambers, see if you can get crosshairs on the target."

Chambers responded with a curt "yes", as usual. Taciturn, Chambers. Good girl, and lethal with a rifle, but used one word where most would say two, and rarely spoke at all.

"We have company." Yao, their tech expert. "One, incoming. Synthetic."

JJ shook his head. "Damnit to hell, we got geth inbound! Chambers, take her down, we're pulling out."

The crack of a rifle shot was the only answer. The figure on the valley floor staggered slightly, then whipped around to stare at Chambers. 'What the fuck?' "Chambers, I said take her down, not shoot past her!"

Chambers's voice was higher than any of them had heard before, "I -hit- her! I nailed the back of her head!"

JJ's eyes widened in shock.

The construct's eye-plate rose slightly at the distant sound of a sniper round.

Process 0310: Gunfire.

It started moving faster. More gunfire, assault rifle this time. A scream, thin and somehow ethereal in the methane / ammonia atmosphere. It scrabbled up the side of a snow-dune and crouched near the top, getting a picture of the fight.

Process 0023: There! Far wall, 121.036m distant, bearing 031.00.45 mark 002.36.43

It's eyeplates narrowed. Blue Suns. One of the Suns fell, then another.

Process 0005: What is going on?

It crept slowly around the edge of the old crater, trying to get a better vantage. A figure was struggling with a big burly merc, he was trying to crush her to the ice, but she was having none of it, a blow slamming into his solar plexus with enough force to double him over.

The construct froze, watching with hardly a without movement, save for the plates about it's eye widening slightly. The figure spun, lashing out with a kick that caught the merc just in the side of his neck. The distinct crunch wasn't audible at this distance, but it saw the way his armor deformed. He fell, and the figure completed her spin, bare feet digging into the ice and snow, rushing with inhuman speed towards the last survivor of the five-man squad. The female figure was firing as fast as her sniper rifle would work, making the figure jerk to the side. Then the figure was on her, leaping forward and smashing her clenched fists straight into the sniper's helmet. This time the crack was audible, they were a good deal closer to the construct. The sniper fell, her head caved in.

Blood smeared the figure's hands and arms up to the elbow, and her feet and legs in places as well. Splatters of blood had sprayed across her face and torso, but even discolored and splattered with blood, the 1183 processes inhabiting the construct recognized her. It watched as if frozen as the figure strode toward it.

Process 0400: The way she moves is different from the organic video feeds.
Process 0427: Faster. More controlled.
Process 0466: Skin tone is different.
Process 0462: Hair as well.
Process 0005: Is it truly Shepard-Commander?
Process 0003: Consensus achieved.

It was Shepard alright. No mistaking those features, even if her skintone was different. The figure stopped a few yards away and stared at the construct. Shepard was clad in what looked like torn and mended pieces of an armor undersuit, baring most of her to the frigid cold of Alchera's bitter methane winds.

She stared at the shiny-skinned creature. This one was different, somehow. For one thing, it didn't immediately attack, so it was smarter than the other ones. She waited, still crouched and ready to defend herself, but the creature slowly rose up, hands raised. She narrowed her eyes. That was unusual. A sound, like the wind, but more modulated, familiar somehow. She frowned slightly, remembering.

"Shepard-Commander. Please acknowledge." External speakers were on now, trying to talk to Shepard-Commander. The processes didn't know if the communication attempt was succeeding, or if the atmosphere was causing some sort of interferance. Shepard-Commander slowly lowered her arms, straightening and cocking her head slightly to one side. The platform ceases it's attempts at communication as Shepard-Commander speaks. The atmosphere does alter sound some, but not as much as they had feared. The content of Shepard-Commander's speach, once analyzed and translated, sparks new debate among the processes.

Process 0903: Translated text: "Who are you? What are you?"
Process 0001: This presents a problem.

Author's Note:

I hope you people enjoy this! This is my first attempt at writing a fanfic in well over 2 years, so I may be a bit rusty. ^^ On the other hand, I have a steady job now, so my time to write is limited both by that and by my ability to find inspiration, so after this two-chapter post, I think I might be able to hold myself to one chapter a week, but if not, how does biweekly sound? OK? Good, I thought you'd say that. ^^

Feel free to comment! Any and all Comments welcome!