Harbinger marched forward, swiftly and threateningly like a giant warship sailing right at them. It did not seem to mind the projectiles sinking into its body. The air was filled with missiles and rockets, deadly fireflies flying right at the Reaper. The noise they made was ungodly; it was like being in the middle of a thunderstorm. But the Reaper did not back down, not even by a single step.
"It's not slowing down Shepard!" yelled Ashley as she reloaded her missile launcher, "What'll we do?"
"Just keep firing!" replied Shepard as she took another shot. The missile launched through the air right at the Harbinger's giant body. Shepard didn't stay still to admire her shot, but instead fired four more missiles at the Reaper. One good thing about the giant creatures was that they made a pretty big target. That didn't really help much, but at least it meant that there was still something positive about the situation.
Shepard ducked behind a cover again to reload, "This is all we can do right now! Just keep firing at it!"
Liara fired another shot and then ducked down once again. She looked at Shepard, eyes wide open and face covered with sweat, "It doesn't seem like we're doing much damage!"
"Then don't miss it even once! Make every shot count!" Shepard yelled back. They had to believe that they still had a change. If hope was the only thing Shepard could give to her friends, that's what they would get.
She jumped back up and fired again, repeating the pattern she had been doing for who knows how long. Shepard was still carrying the gun Anderson gave her, but she cursed herself for not being able to get it to work. Sp she had picked herself a rocket launcher that one of the many dead soldiers had left behind after being incinerated by the Harbinger. The thing wasn't perfect, but it worked.
"There comes another shot!" Anderson yelled from their right. Shepard saw Harbinger's red beam sweeping through the field in front of them.
"Move!" she yelled and pushed Liara forward. Shepard could feel the heat created by the beam as it passed behind them, destroying yet another of their covers. They had decided to move forward over the edge of the city to fight the Harbinger. That meant less cover for them, but ensured that the vehicles protecting the machine wouldn't be caught in the crossfire.
Shepard ran through the open field to the piece of concrete that Anderson was sitting behind.
"What's our situation?" she asked as she crouched next to Anderson.
"What does it look like? We're not making any damage and there's no word from the Turian jet unit!" Anderson replied. Shepard looked around, Liara and Garrus were right next to her, but she couldn't see Tali or Ashley anywhere. She turned her head back to their cover, and saw them sitting behind a fallen wall, both taking shots at the Reaper.
"Can you get this thing to work?!" Shepard asked and pointed at the Reaper weapon hanging on her back.
"Sure, just cover for me!" Anderson replied. Shepard lifted the weapon from her back and handed it over to him. Then she turned to shoot the Reaper once again.
It had gotten close, much closer than Shepard had thought. And every step it took just seemed to be little bigger than the last one. She looked as four of her missiles burrowed into the metal right under the Harbinger's eye. It hardly seemed to notice. Then another beam fired from the eye, wiping out a group of Turians in front of it. That happened in just a blink of an eye. People were dying and they couldn't do anything about it. They couldn't stop it after all, could they?
Shepard fell down to reload again. As she looked up she realized that they could now see the Harbinger even while in cover. How had it gotten that close? Shepard's hands were shaking. It was too close; they'd have to get further away. Otherwise they couldn't avoid the next beam. But there weren't any cover anywhere, no place for them to hide. Shepard cursed as the gun slipped from her hands. What to do, what to do, what to do
"There has to be a way! But
I don't see any!"
Suddenly Shepard felt another hand touching hers. She turned and saw Liara sitting right next to her, holding Shepard's hand in her own.
"I love you Shepard", Liara said. It must've not been much louder than a whisper, but now she was close enough for Shepard to hear, even through all the noise surrounding them.
"Liara, what are you
" Shepard staggered. She looked at her face. There was a strange peace in Liara's expression. Shepard couldn't see whether she was sad or happy, but she certainly looked satisfied. Then she smiled, just a little bit.
"I'm glad I'm able to be here with you", Liara spoke moving closer to Shepard.
"Don't say that" Shepard whispered, but the words were too quiet for even her to hear. She felt lost looking at Liara. She wanted to say something encouraging, but realized it would've been useless. Liara was smart, smarter than Shepard, she understood the situation.
So instead Shepard wrapped her arm around Liara and kissed her. It wasn't something passionate and lustful like you see in the movies, but more of a simple gesture that didn't last much longer than a second. It was to tell her things that Shepard couldn't convey by words. And then they parted, looked each other into eyes and rose to face the Reaper once again.
The Harbinger was looming above them, hiding the entire sky behind itself. It was looking down on them, and if Shepard hadn't known better she would've swore that it was taking time to enjoy its victory. The eye was glowing again, and Shepard looked right at it. It would remember this day. It would remember that on this day, nobody ran away.
A sound! Like a knife, cutting through air. Something flashed in the sky, but it was too fast to see what it was. Then there was an explosion, right where the Harbinger's eye had been. The monster screamed, louder and more intensively than other one had. It took a step backwards, one step only. Then there was another, another flash, another explosion, another step. And then another, and another.
"The Turians!" Anderson sighed and handed Shepard the weapon, "It's working now, just press the trigger. Everyone keep firing; don't give it a change to fire back at the jets!"
And they all fired. The monster had been deadly up close, but now nobody could miss its eye covered in explosions. A rain of fire rose from the ground right at it. And with each rocket, each grenade and each it screamed some more. And it was backing down.
As the last jet hit the Reaper, Shepard lifted the gun. She took aim at the monster they called Harbinger. The creature was covered in holes and flames, swaying back and forth like grass in the wind. And then she pulled the trigger.
There was a flash of light as a red and white beam launcher from the gun. The beam soared skyward and Shepard knew it would. It impaled the Harbinger's eye right at the middle. That was too much. The Harbingers cried out one last scream as its engines grew unstable and combusted. And so it fell down, filled with scars burning.
And then the Reaper hit the ground, letting go of the last moments of life at it did. Nothing had ever felt more satisfying for Shepard than that. It was finally dead. They had won.
It was huge relief for all of them. Liara and Garrus looked as Shepard as if they were just barely able to start jumping up and down. But there were no time for celebrations.
"Everyone, get back to the vehicles!" Anderson yelled, "It's not over before we get to the Citadel! Move, now!"
The burst of joy turned into rush as everyone picked their guns and wounded comrades and ran towards the vehicles. Shepard threw the gun on her back and prepared to run.
Shepard twitched, she recognized that voice. It was the Harbinger, talking to her. She turned around looking at the giant beast lying on the ground. What was it this time?
"YOU HAVE NOT WON. YOU HAVE DOOMED YOUR KIND TO WANDER FOREVER IN CHAOS. WE ARE YOUR ONLY SALVATION, YOUR ONLY MEAN TO SURVIVE. YOU WILL SEE YOUR ERROR, AND REGRET YOUR ACTIONS. YOU.. WILL NOT... WIN."
Shepard stood still, hands on her chest, unimpressed. Nothing that the Reapers said made sense, as if they followed logic of their own. Were they really too advanced for her to even understand, or had all the millennia just driven them mad? Either way, she didn't care. Nothing could ever justify what the Reapers had done, nothing.
"You have killed billions", Shepard spoke, "Murdered countless of innocents and destroyed entire civilizations with no remorse. I don't care what you think, but destroying you will be the greatest thing that has ever happened to the galaxy. And when it's done, I'll be dancing on your graves!."
The Harbinger stayed silent. Shepard stood there a while, and then walked away.
As she ran to the cars she couldn't get the Reaper's words out of her mind. Did they really think all this was justified? What a sad thing. But then she abandoned that thought. There was nothing sad about the Reapers. They were monsters, abominations. Killing them wouldn't make the universe a lesser place.
She arrived to the cars. Anderson was a head waiting for her. Some feet behind him were the vehicles. Couple of Krogan were cramming themselves inside one. Shepard couldn't see her crew, where were they already?
What happened then happened too fast for Shepard to realize. She heard a sound, but was too loud for her to recognize. Then there was an orange flash somewhere behind the cars. Then things started flying around Shepard felt something hitting her like an iron wall. She felt being pushed backwards, but she couldn't be sure. The sky and the ground were mixed, just a fuzzy mix colors and shapes. Everything was turning around, moving too fast and into every direction. Then she hit something, something hard. Her entire body was hurting and she could barely lift her head. Everything was muffled, the sounds, the visions, even time seemed to move in a softer way. Shepard was looking at the ground, not sure of what was happening.
A foot appeared in front of her, one with a fine, clean shoe. She turned her head slowly to see who it was wearing that dine shoe. And she saw Illusive Man looking at her, as clean and unharmed as ever. And behind him there were three men, Alliance soldiers, each looking at Shepard. And so did the Illusive Man. He looked at Shepard with an adamant look, not a single emotion or thought visible. Then he blew a cloud of smoke and walked away.
"Kill her", Shepard heard the Illusive Man to say.