Another ME-related drabble in a first person POV of Shepard post-ME3… This one got quite a bit deeper than I thought it would. It’s pretty heavy.
Shepard is recovering in Vancouver after the battle in London and the defeat of the Reapers.
Part of her recovery is the assignment by her therapist to find a way to come to terms with everything that’s happened so she writes about it. Written as a first-person narrative.
There are bodies everywhere.
They’ve been discarded like trash, piled up all around like they were on the Collector ship. There’s so many I can barely move without stepping on them. If I weren’t in so much pain the nausea might have won out. Thank God for small mercies, right?
I take a step and fall to my knees; my hands hit the floor, slip in blood and grime and the strength goes out of me. My face smacks against the ground and I feel my lip split, the warm trickle of blood leaving the tang of copper on my tongue.
I close my eyes. Just for a moment. Just one, precious moment.
The crackle of my com jars me to alertness and when I open my eyes I realize I don’t know how long I’ve been lying here.
Anderson. Everything hurts. Pain is radiating from my bones, making my nerves scream. I want to reply; I want to tell him I’m alive but my throat is tight. So painfully tight.
I force myself to my hands and knees and suck in a breath. My body protests but I push past it. I came here for a reason even if it’s too hard to focus on it now. Blood drips from my mouth and I watch it splash against the back of my hand. It looks black against the bruises.
Inhale, I tell myself. Breathe. I cough then groan at the pain. This is the worst I’ve ever felt. “A—Anderson? You up here too?”
He says something; most of it comes out garbled over the com but I understand that he’s here. Somewhere. His voice is in my ear again. It gives me something to focus on. I push myself to my feet and manage not to trip over the bodies around me.
Anderson asks what I see; asks if I’m okay.
I feel like death. I feel like I just fought with the devil and lost. I don’t tell him that though. I tell him I’m okay. I tell him I’ll manage.
We have a job to do.
I continue on for what seems like hours; maybe it’s only minutes, maybe it’s days. Each step seems to take an eternity. Most of the time I walk but sometimes I crawl, my legs too exhausted and painful to carry me upright. The last climb up that long ramp is especially hard. My breath burns in my chest; my heart thunders in my ears. Several times I feel like my only choice is to give up. I just want to sleep.
You can do this, Shepard. That was Kaidan’s voice. Where was he? I look around wildly before I realize that of course he’s not here. Get up. You can do this.
“Yes,” I say aloud though no one can hear me. No one but the keepers, at least. They go about their business as if the galaxy isn’t crumbling around them. They carry on like their once pristine tunnels aren’t filled with bodies.
One step at a time. One foot in front of the other.
The room that materializes before me is walled in glass. Beyond I can see the glittering arms of the Citadel, closed tight against the war raging outside. Anderson is here. Someone else is here too.
He’s hunched over a console but at the sound of my voice he turns, his body stiff and shaking. He speaks but I can barely hear his words. He seems so far away; he sounds so far away. “Shepard—I can’t—”
My mind is hazy, crowded. My thoughts are no longer so easy to grasp. There are voices, millions of voices clouding my mind, filling it up with thoughts that couldn’t possibly be my own. Could they?
I came here for a reason—we are many—The voices crowd into my skull—you are one—It writhes like a living thing, pulsing and swaying—we bring order—I want to drown them out but I’m just one voice. One voice can’t drown out millions.
Draw your weapon, Commander, the voices whisper.
The Illusive Man. He circles us like a varren intent on his kill. He is haggard, more machine than man anymore. I clench my jaw and steel myself. I try to find my resolve.
He speaks of control. He says we can bend their will if we simply seize the ability to do so. He makes it sound easy.
The voices swell and I close my eyes against the pain of the cacophony that is their laughter. They’re amused.
“We haven’t earned that right,” I force out between gritted teeth. “There is power there that we can’t even begin to comprehend!”
His lips curl into a sneer. “You’ve underestimated me, Shepard., just like I underestimated you.” He gestures at nothing or maybe he sees something I don’t. Maybe he hears them too. “This control is the means to our continued existence, Shepard. It is the only way.”
I am laughing then and coughing and bleeding. Everything has come to this. “You are blind. If we enslave them eventually they will find a way to overthrow us. Look at what happened with the geth! We would control them and one day we would grow complacent. Maybe not right away. Maybe not for years, or centuries even. But eventually we would relax our guard for a second and that would be all they would need. You think this is bad? Their revenge for enslaving them would be magnitudes worse. Humanity would be wiped from existence. The galaxy might fare no better.”
He was standing at my shoulder, his voice in my ear. “I refuse to believe that. We will take precautions. We will never let that happen.”
I shake my head, “How can you be certain? And to what end do we take control of the Reapers? To lift humanity to the apex? To take control of everything and everyone? Every species? Every race? We would be no better than the Reapers then. We would be no less hated.”
“Humanity doesn’t need to be loved, just respected. There is no harm in a little fear.”
It is then that I see it. He is becoming one of them. He is already under their power. He might cling to a few fraying threads of control but they are winning.
“The power they wield could be ours, Shepard. We only need to take it.” He nudges my pistol and suddenly it is pointed at Anderson. Suddenly I am facing down the man I respect more than my own father and I can’t drop my arm.
The voices swell and mixed among them I hear him. The Illusive Man. I was wrong. He isn’t becoming one of them; he already is one of them. His black tendrils of control are melding in among the others. He is indoctrinated and he doesn’t even know it.
But he does know he has some power left. Some power over me.
“Look at what they can do!”
My finger is squeezing the trigger. I can’t stop it. I can’t move.
My pistol fires.
I jerk awake. Sweat is soaking through my shirt and my whole body is aching. It’s the third night this week that I’ve startled from sleep with the echo of that shot sounding in my head.
The doctors said that my memories might start to return.
I had been glad to hear that. I wanted them back. There were gaps that I’d rather have filled, blanks I’d rather not exist. At least that’s what I told myself before these dreams started. Now? Now I think I’d rather they just stay gone.
I sit up, thankful for once that my tossing and turning has sent Kaidan over to the other side of the bed. He’s sound asleep with his face buried in his pillow. I never understand how he can sleep like that without suffocating himself. But I’m glad he’s still out cold. I don’t need to burden him with this. I don’t want to tell him I might have been the one to kill our friend.
Was this a memory or my mind playing tricks on me? Did I kill him? I pray it isn’t true. I pray even though prayer had never worked for me before.
This dream is always clouded, always fuzzy. It always leaves me wondering if those hazy, black tendrils clouding my mind are a figment of my overworked subconscious or something far more sinister.
The implications… No. I refuse to believe that I… I… Shit.
Note: I hope no one feels like I’m copying them with this. I know there are several of my fellow Tumblrs doing similar ME-related, journal, first person POV writings and I don’t ever want them to think I’m riding on their coat tails.
**Timeline notes - The timeline in this chapter has the events of Mass Effect occuring in 2183. The defeat of the Reapers happening in 2187. Almost a year has passed since then as recoveries from major injuries don’t happen overnight. I know it might not be perfect, but that’s what I’m going off of. :)