Shepard jumped out of the way just in time to avoid another shot, which hit the floor behind her, leaving behind a man-size hole. She landed on her side on the floor, feeling the pain sweeping through her entire body. It was getting too intense, she couldn't take much more. Her hands and feet were heavy and aching more and more, and she couldn't move without feeling an excruciating pain in her back. Not to mention, the shots were getting more powerful, had that one hit her, she'd be gone already.
"This weapon is a Reaper design; as effective as a missile launcher, but no larger than an ordinary rifle, just another advantage that their technology has given us", Shepard heard the Illusive Man speak as she crouched behind cover. All around them the Reapers holograms were disappearing, vanishing as the Crucible removed their programs from existence.
"We're this close to defeating the Reapers, you can't ruin this now!" Shepard yelled while she reloaded her gun. Too bad the Reaper weapon she had used against the Harbinger was out of ammo, that would've been quite helpful right now.
"Destroying them would be a mistake!" Illusive Man yelled. He was getting closer now, "You heard what they said, and they're right; the organics are flawed. The galaxy needs someone keep the species in line, to bring order."
Another shot, Shepard jumped over the cover just in time. She could see a glimpse of the Illusive Man, standing there, just before she ducked to the ground once again.
"And that should be humanity?!" Shepard yelled.
"Why not? We are the last species that expanded into space, but already we have done more than any other one of them. What did the other species do to stop Sovereign, the Collectors or the Reapers? Nothing, it took us humans to do that. And if they're too afraid to take control, why shouldn't we do it?"
"You're insane", Shepard whispered and stood up to face him. But he was nowhere to be seen. Shepard turned her head, but she couldn't see the Illusive Man anymore!
Then something hit her from the side and slammed her against the wall. Shepard fired her weapon, but the blow was too hard and it slipped from her hands. She felt a firm hand on her throat, strangling her. She opened her eyes and saw the Illusive Man, holding her by the throat, one cheek sliced by the bullet. And the wound was glowing, filled with circuits like the ones Shepard had seen on the bodies of the Husks.
"Weapons weren't the only thing we got from the Reapers", Illusive Man said and tightened his hold. Shepard groaned as she felt the pain in her body getting worse. Thousands of needles poked her muscles and nerves all over her body, which kept begging Shepard not to move anymore.
"So you finally gave in", Shepard spoke, quietly, weakly. It was getting hard to breathe, harder to speak, "You became their slave!"
"I improved myself!" Illusive Man yelled and slammed Shepard against the wall. The pain was unspeakable, "And I did it all just to ensure the survival of the humanity! That's what I've always done, that's what I've always fought for!"
For YOUR humanity! That's all you care about anymore, your vision. And you wouldn't hesitate killing as many people as necessary to reach it!"
"So what if I wouldn't? Great things require great sacrifices. With the Crucible we can control the Reapers, we can ensure the humanity's survival forever! No price is too great to pay for that."
Shepard coughed, her throat was on fire. The air
she couldn't get enough of it. Everything was getting fuzzy
unclear. And the pain just kept raging.
"Hypocrite", Shepard whispered.
"You brag about the superiority of humans, yet you fill your body with alien technology. You say you fight for humanity, yet you make our decisions for us, look down on us, just like the other species did. You're just a man lost in a vision, willing to destroy everything in your path rather than to admit your mistakes. Think about what you've done, is this really the vision you had? Or is it the Reapers filling your head with lies?"
Illusive Man didn't say a word, but his eyes seemed to glaze for a bit. Shepard felt the hand on her throat loosen up just a little. That was it.
Before anything else could happen, Shepard swung her arm up and rammed her Omni-blade under the Illusive Man's chin. The blade slit through the soft brain tissue and then broke its way through the top of the skull. The hand let go of Shepard's throat. She pulled the blade back, accompanied with a burst of blood and a disgusting, squishy sound.
The Illusive Man's eyes kept looking at the distance somewhere behind Shepard. Without uttering a single syllable, he fell backwards and collapsed on to the ground.
He lied there, taking heavy breaths, staring out of the giant window, head bleeding. Shepard didn't say anything, she was too tired.
"Look at her", the Illusive Man gasped, obviously in pain, "Isn't she still
Shepard turned her head to see what the Illusive Man was talking about, what he was looking at. It was the Earth, the third planet from the sun, floating in space as nothing more than a shadow of its former self.
will you promise me
" Illusive Man continued. The words were faint and almost silent, "Will you keep her safe for me?"
Shepard took a few heavy breathes and then replied, "Yes
yes I will."
Those were the last words they exchanged between one another. After that, the Illusive Man fell silent, breathing no more.
She watched him lying there for a while, a puddle of pour pouring from his head, and then started to make her way to the center of the room.
She could barely take two steps before her legs gave up and she fell on to the floor. The pain she had felt earlier wouldn't stop, and despite being freed from the Illusive Man's grasp, it was still hard for her to breathe. Shepard tried to crawl forward, but soon enough her arms exploded with such an amount of pain that she immediately fell on to the floor. So she just lied there, in agony, watching the tiny Reapers disappearing from the red walls of light.
"Task completed, all units deleted", the voice announced in Shepard's head.
"Thank you", Shepard though, "Thank you so much."
"Commander, get out of there!" a voice yelled in the radio.
Shepard's heart missed a few beats, what was happening? That was Hacket talking, no doubt about it. She tried to lift herself, but a wave of pain swept through her and dropped her back on the floor. Then suddenly a terrible noise filled her ears. As she looked up she saw the ceiling collapsing. And then there was nothing but darkness.
"Shepard, are you okay?"
Shepard opened her eyes. It was hard to see, something was blocking the lights. It took her a while to realize that it was the ceiling that had come down before. The entire room was now filled with rubble; pieces of the ceiling, pipes and pillars. Not only that, but Shepard could feel the entire room shaking. It was just like when the Normandy had been shot down.
this is Shepard
"A group of Reapers got past our defenses and charged right at the Crucible, hitting it from every side. The rest of them have all been eliminated, but you have to get out there right now! The Crucible is unstable, they must've hit the reactors, its not going to hold on for much longer. Just get back to the relay right now!" Hacket ordered.
Shepard pushed herself up again, but there was something stopping her. Not her own weakness this time, but something on her side, an object. With trembling hands she reached to, feeling it with her fingers, trying to figure out what it was. Then her hands met something wet.
Even in the faint light she could see the blood on her hand dripping one drop after another. Her entire side was covered with it, flowing from the hole cause by the pipe that had impaled her. She tried to lift it, but it was no use. She was stuck and bleeding heavily.
Shepard looked around, but she couldn't even see the doorway anymore. All she could see was the rubble filling the room from top to bottom. Her mind raced, trying to find a way out. How, how could she get out of this? There had to be a way, some way, it couldn't end like this, just one way
"Shepard? Where are you? Answer me!"
And then she realized.
This is it. Finally, this is it."
"Hacket?" Shepard spoke. Her voice was trembling, but somehow the words were stronger than before, "Can you
Can you patch me through?"
For a while there was a silence at the Hacket's end, until he finally spoke again.
"They can hear you now commander", Hacket said with an unfamiliar tone in his voice. There was a great deal of
Respect in it, "Just say what you got to say."
Shepard took couple of good breaths and then prepared to speak the most important words of her life:
This is Commander Shepard. The Reapers have been destroyed; the war is over, for all of us. However
This is not the end. This war was
a nightmare, but it also showed us all what we're really capable of. Today we fought together, side by side, every species united by one common goal. And that's something that we must always remember.
Remember the people who fought on your side today, no matter the race, for we are the brothers and sisters of war now. The Reapers were a fire that forged us into something more powerful than we ever were, or ever will be if we let ourselves be divided again. We must protect this alliance, for it is the only way to ensure our future. We can't let ourselves to go into war against each other again, or we will be forever destroyed. So remember this day in all its horror and glory. Remember what we did today, together."
Another breath of air, the next words got stuck on Shepard's throat. She struggled to speak them out loud and would've wiped her eyes, but her hands couldn't move anymore.
"And for my crew
My friends, whether you can hear me or not. From now on, it will be up to you to do the impossible. Protect our galaxy; make sure we will not go back to the past. I know you can do it, I trust you. Just
Don't let each other become separated, not even
Not even when I'm gone. Make sure all our sacrifices were worth something
Do it for me."
She couldn't go on anymore, it was too hard. And she was too tired, too much in pain. It was time to let go.
"So thank you everybody
And with that, she let go of it all. She was so tired, so tired of fighting, disputes and war. So tired of pain and suffering, too tired to go on. And as she looked at the Earth, now safe and secured, she felt everything melting away. It was time to rest; time to see those who were waiting for her. She had deserved it.
And so, with that in her mind, Shepard finally welcomed peace.