Title: Ascension, or The Third Symphony
Warnings/Spoilers: Major spoilers for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2; the novels also might come into play later. Vangaurd, Colonist, War Hero background.
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights. It wouldn't be worth the cost to sue me anyway.
Summery: The cycle of galatic distruction has continued for milions of years. Only a handful of relays connect dark space to the inhabited areas of the galactic disc; they must be destroyed.
or, The Third Symphony
"The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."
Marcus Aurelius Meditations
The Normandy Prelude
She stared at the file on her terminal with unseeing eyes, the words quickly merging together until it was nothing but a blur of orange light in an otherwise dark and all too empty cabin. Blinking fastidiously, she forced herself to read the words, as if doing so would make it all seem somehow more real as if, by reading them, she could somehow force herself to believe that two years had passed; that funerals had been held, memorials built, and the truth about Saren and Sovereign buried so deep you'd get lost in the paperwork. Her eyes did not stay focused long and she moved to rub the exhaustion from her eyes.
She stopped, though, seeing her hands in the faint orange light: a tracery of thin lines that had not been there before ran across her hands and, on closer inspection, up her arm too. She traced one of the impossibly straight lines with a finger, trying to figure out where she might've gotten them, before pulling back abruptly.
That thought made everything suddenly more real. Closing her eyes, she could see as if it were yesterday (and it was yesterday, for her at least, and everything, from the stab of both shock and fear that had rushed through her when the particle beam had cut through the deck plating between her and the last escape pod, to the pain that had exploded through her newly-healed shoulder as she was propelled out of the Normandy as the ship tore apart, hitting what might've once been a piece of the outer hull, or the grav plating, or God-knew what else with such force that, for a moment, her vision had blackened. When it returned, it brought with it the Normandy's final breath as the high-charged beams cut through the fuel tanks and sent the whole thing into flames as the atmosphere poured into the vacuum... and then everything was black again. Some of the shiner bits of wreckage caught the light of this system's sun, and, for a moment, she almost thought it was beautiful before the faint tendrils of white mist caught her eye and she felt, more than heard, the leak in her O2 line. She'd spun about wildly, trying to reach the line with her hands, but a bruised shoulder and limited-flexibility suit stopped her. She still tried. She remembered wondering if the atmosphere on the planet below was breathable, if the temperature and pressure controls on her suit were still functioning and how long they might last if they were; if a standard issue enviro suit was strong enough to survive re-entry...).
Shepherd found herself staring at her hands (how much of her skin had been replaced? were her fingerprints even the same as they'd been before?), bending and flexing her fingers in something between horror and astonishment (the bones there, how many were original? how many had been repaired? how many had needed to be completely regrown though the use of cybernetics? how much metal and machinery was still in her body, replacing joints, stimulating her muscles, keeping her heart beating?), before raising them to her face and probing there, as if she might feel any differences there (her scars from the Blitz were gone, that she knew, but what else had changed? her eyes were they vat grown or had her own survived the vacuum of space? had she been exposed to vacuum, or had her body hit the atmosphere and-?).
She knew if she looked, she'd find the details in the file she had open now. The vital statistics were there but so was everything else, right down to the mockery her death had become and everything that had happened since that the Council and the Alliance had seen and subsequently ignored while Cerberus-
It could all be a lie. Not Freedom's Progress that was writing on the wall if there ever was any but the part about Cerberus being the only ones to be doing anything about it. Everything in this file could be misinformation, designed to get her to help them with, with- well, with what, she didn't know, but it was possible. But Joker and Dr. Chakwas wouldn't be with Cerberus if they'd any other moral choice-
Helene Shepherd, once a Lieutenant Commander, humanity's first Spectre, hung her head in her hands and tried, not for the first time, not to remember.
The First Movement: Eroico