Chapter One - Starting a Crew
"Biotic's are not evil! We are just different. Years ago, we would be trying to destroy the Asari, now we trade with them. Breed, have relations, we even accept their biotic abilities, and welcome them. Now, you have desires to have a Biotic frozen until release? You claim this is needed? How can a Biotic change, if they are frozen in a tube on some damn ship? Their time comes for freedom, and then they go off the deep end once more. We do not cure anything" Shaun spoke, watching the conflicting emotions in everyone's eyes.
His own green eyes shone brightly, cast brighter by his faintly toned skin. He stared to his left, catching his reflection in the window. He wasn't an unattractive man, in his mid-twenties. His jaw was firm, tight even under the slight scruff of his stubble. His cheeks appeared to hollow, more due to the styling of his facial hair than his build. His brow was expressive, light and fleeting. His nose was lightly upturned, somewhat small.
"I see. Mr Snipes, explain to me. These Biotics can skin someone with their mind, why should we indulge this idea of a Biotic penalty system?" An elderly man asked. Shaun sighed, this was always argued upon.
The window opened into the perfectly created, shining white Citadel. Ships passing through with the unnatural sunlight. Green gardens were created, a beautiful escape in a marvellous city. Each and every building had tinted windows from afar, but the closer you came the less tinted the glass seemed. On the inside, like Shaun was, it was clear. The city, to Shaun was too clean. A city shining yet muddy with money. Money was the way to anyone's heart, or their head in the Citadel. A whole new world could be found here, if you knew where to look.
"Sir. In this room are some leading military figures. A word from them could have someone killed. The guards could shoot us all. Just because they have the ability doesn't mean they will use it" Shaun stood tall, his slightly taller than average height an advantage for his case. His strong arms were folded behind his back, the fresh uniform itched. Shaun was not a politician, he was a soldier. Suits made his skin crawl.
"And what of known criminals with such abilities, such as Subject Zero?"
Shaun froze. The wind gone from his reason, emotions were clouding his judgement. Subject Zero, a tortured victim of unimaginable tests who escaped the lab and went criminal. Someone who never stood a chance, now to be the fall of all others.
"Respectfully sir. To hell with formality. If you fuck with a woman's head for years on end, you end up with a killer. In humanity's efforts to understand and create Biotic potential a perfect criminal was created. Now we seek to punish what we inspired? That's fucking politics! It's not human, it's worse than the goddamn Reaper legends" Shaun's words earned an uneasy silence. The Council had been drowning these rumours of Reapers since the Shepard brothers had died. Nearly two years ago. This was the subject you did not bring up at a hearing, be it formal or otherwise.
"Speaking of Reapers" a cold, calculated yet gruff voice came. Everyone froze; Shaun knew the voice of a soldier when he heard it. Something commanded instant respect; the man it came from appeared the part.
His jaw was thick, intent leading into low set cheekbones. His brow was dropped, deep and brooding over piercing blue eyes. His hair was dirty blonde, swept back despite its messiness. His face was clean shaven down his jaw, leaving a faint stubble around his small mouth. His neck was thick, leading into reasonably well built shoulders. He was not hulking, but he was certainly larger than average. He was an average height, holding his head high and proud made him seem inches taller. War had not been kind to this man; his expression bore the weight of many lives, and many more deaths. He appeared older than his age; war had aged this man as it had conditioned him. The white shirt he wore clung tightly to him, revealing a detailed back with minor definition in his chest. His arms showed through, they were veined, scarred. Each was a battle he survived. He wore simple dark pants and boots, clearly he was not been formal with his attire, more choosing freedom to move over appearing the part. Truly, a man of action.
"Shaun Snipes? I've been sent your file; I want you on a team to go investigate the colonies that are vanishing. Since the Alliance is piss weeding around, not solving a damn thing. I need real troops on my side, men like you. Not some over groomed, desexed lapdogs" his voice continued in that manner, tittering between emotion and control. It was the kind of voice you could lose yourself in. Shaun noted the Elderly man's chest puffing up.
"Look here. I don't know who you think you are but this is a formal hear…"
"I don't care if it's a pie eating contest to see who can kiss regulation ass the best. I need men, and I'm out of time. I do not have time to be political" The man cut him off with a glare. Shaun smiled slightly, concealing it with a well-timed cough. This man was coming in, and tearing the place to shreds without even meaning too. The air changed, unease, doubt, even a hint of fear. Shaun was now at home.
"If I go my sister comes. If you agree, I'm all yours" Shaun spoke up. He wanted to be part of this; something about this man was calling to his inner soldier, enticing him. The cause, whatever it was, had to be noble. This man, standing so casually before him appeared honourable, prepared to make the hard choices and own up to any and all consequences.
"Can your sister be useful?" The man seemed thoughtful, despite speaking quickly. Shaun admired this, a fast mind calculating all options before they were placed upon the table.
"She's a machine gun freak sir. She can shoot better than me, to put it blankly" Shaun answered almost casually. The man smiled, the lines in his face revealing themselves as his lips curled. It was an infectious, yet obviously rarely shown smile.
"I'm after your scope, not your guns. Tell her to bring a footlocker, she's aboard if you are" The man replied, turning away to walk down the hall. Shaun looked.
"Wait. Who are you?" He asked. The face was just so familiar, yet not at the same time. Something deeply in ground into his memory and yet part of the scenery as was the traffic of the Citadel.
"Shepard" the man answered. The voices around the room unleashed in shocked whispers. Shaun blinked, his knees shaking.
"The Shepard's died years ago"
"We came back"
"Hey chick, let the real men handle the gym" a man taunted.
Shell held her head down, shoulder length hair dropping over her eyes. She stared into a mirror, her arms strained as she lowered them, extending from the elbow. The weight in her hands made her arms tense, revealing a reasonable definition. Shell wasn't small, but she was not a hulk of a woman. She was created in battle, her muscles uneven, her skin scarred. She was a skimpy woman up her body, the only real bulk beginning to build in her shoulders, up her core and in her arms.
"Hey, you! Woman! I'm talking to you" the man exclaimed again. Shell tensed, she was not going to reply to this man. She pulled, slowly lifting her arms towards her chest. She was staring into the mirror, calculating how she moved. It was a habit she had learned from her brother, to understand another she had to understand herself.
"Ah ignore her. She's more into women anyway. You're not her type" another man added, laughter filled the gym. Shell tensed, angrily she raised her head, her neon pink hair fell aside.
She was a fair woman, scarred but once reasonably good looking. Her chin was pointed, leading into more squared cheekbones from a fine jaw. Her eyes were slightly squinting, a deep dark brown, almost black colour. Her dark brown eyebrows were tensed, highlighting her anger.
She allowed the weight to fall, landing beside her leather booted feet. She straightened the messy white tank she wore as she straightened, much of her tattooed lower back revealing itself. She was stable in her height, not short but not tall. Unlike her brother, she did not attract attention as easily. Yet she could not hide like him, when it came to stealth, no one was her brother.
"Hey, you. Yeah you with the dick that's about to be cut off if he doesn't apologise. You say something?" Shell demanded. Her voice was slightly high, wild and croaking. The gym went silent as the large man turned his eyes on her.
"My dick is gonna be buried in you!" he retorted. Shell scoffed.
"You're not my type. I'm an alien kind of girl, and I LIKE cutting things… Usually slowly, followed by some drinks and a machine gun… which will be buried up your ass"
No one laughed. There was an uneasy silence as everyone's eyes ventured to the door; the talking coming from the main desk was hushed. Shell could care less as she returned to sitting before the mirror, her hands closed around the weight.
She didn't have time to lift as she stared into the mirror, a familiar face staring into it smiling. Shell shook her head.
"You've got to be kidding me" She spoke in a flat tone. Shaun laughed.
"Shell. I need you on a mission with me. It's for some very important people, and they need the Snipes twins. We need some machine guns" Shaun spoke. Shell grinned at the words "machine guns" she had been banned from weapons since her last display with a rocket launcher, too many alcoholic drinks and a reporter.
"I take it you've been told you I nearly blew up a reporter when I was drunk… instead I blew up the bar" Shell couldn't help grin.
"I was there… remember. I was at that bar, making jokes about your hair" Shaun replied seriously. Shell shrugged.
"Bad jokes… I was drunk"
"You hit on the Asari bartender, using Azure slang. Then asked if her hair was like tentacles and moved" Shaun shook his head. Again Shell shrugged.
"I was very drunk"
"Are you in or out?" Shaun asked flatly. Shell grinned at her brother, revealing a chipped tooth.
"And miss out on a chance to tear some shit up with a machine gun? You bet your untanned ass I'm in"
"What ship are we on bro?"
"Damn it!" a female's voice reached his ears. He groaned, beeping machines surrounding him. His heart beat was pounding through his head, a drum increasing in pace with each strike. Everything in his body hurt, like he had been stitched back up and was filled with metal. His gut felt weak, like he had eaten too much and thrown up. He was full, yet starving at the same time. His nose felt the worst though, he couldn't explain it but his breathing felt strange. Even. Not like when he last remembered breathing, his nose had been broken. He had breathed through one side.
"Subjects vitals are unstable, heart rate increasing rapidly" A male's voice reached.
Weakly he opened his eyes. At first, it was just white and blinding. He closed his eyes, the darkness seeming to deepen after a moment. He opened his eyes again, it was still white. A turned off surgical lamp was above his head, beyond it a white roof created too perfectly to be a simple hospital.
"Stabilize him! I've spent too much time to lose him now" The woman's voice came uneasy, a sharp order.
"My god, Miranda I think he's waking up" The male's voice came. The woman walked around, eyes blazing.
"Damn it, he's not ready yet. We can't have another repeat of his brother!" The woman's voice came. He felt her hand close around his, her other hand on his shoulder. He struggled to rise, the woman held him down.
"Don Shepard, relax. Please try to stay calm" The woman begged, he noted how icy her blue eyes were. Almost perfect, yet so cold and shallow.
Her face matched her eyes, rather blunt; a square jawed into a rounded chin. Obvious cheekbones with perfect eyes and a lengthy, arched yet fleeting brow. Her dark hair only added to her pale beauty, she truly was the ice queen.
"Miranda he's waking up!" The male called again, a look of irritation flashed across the ice queen Miranda's face. She released Don's hand and gripped the man by the collar. She pulled him in close, her forehead almost touching his, her expression a snarl.
"Give him a sedative. Move it!" She pushed him around the bench Don lay on, almost as if he weighed nothing. Don tilted his head to watch Miranda, noticing how large her behind was in proportion to her lean body. It was wiggling slightly as she swayed, her fingers flashing across several machine buttons. Don heard his heartbeat slowing sooner than he felt it.
"Stabilizing" The male's voice came with a slight edge to it. Miranda seemed too relieved to notice, she returned to Don, her hand resting on his shoulder.
"I told you the maths were off. Run the numbers again" Miranda again ordered, calmer this time. Her eyes returned to Don, his own vision was fading but he swore he could see emotion in the ice queen's eyes. Almost a sorrow, a longing, admiration and curiosity. His head rolled straight again, only for his vision to fade into the white of the roof above.
2 Years Ago
The Normandy was burning around him. He could hear every alarm singing a desperate duet of chaos. His crews cries, explosions, the inadequate rush of the sprinklers, Dolph Shepard heard it all. He pulled his helmet on without a second thought, his favourite one was in his chambers which were already aflame. He ran, feeling the heat chasing him as he stumbled.
"Skip, get everyone into the escape shuttles. Get on the first one yourself" Shepard ordered over the comm. His voice was croaking from his dry throat, his forehead was a river of sweat. Still the Normandy burned around him.
"I have Ash, Adam's is with me but the Quarian is in trouble. Ah! Goddam! This unknown ship is tearing the shit out of us Comander" Skip replied in a grunt.
"Get Ash and yourself on a shuttle, I'll get Tali" Shepard growled, running down another hall, he could see the stars through a hole that had been created. Shepard was breath taken with the view for a split moment. He didn't even pause. His brother, friend, crew and Tali were all in danger.
"Liara here. Adam's is in my pod, Tali rushed off to find you… Shade and Don haven't checked in and Joker won't leave the cockpit" Liara's voice came next. Shepard felt his heart drop. His friend and brother were not checking in, Tali was running the ship.
"Oh hell! Damn it! I'll get Tali" Shepard was already running down the halls and avoiding the falling metal of the ships hull.
There was an explosion, followed by another scream. The flash was blinding, Shepard stumbled as the ship cracked further. He still jogged, activating his mag-boots partly. He liked that they could stick, he made use of it as he ran. He was slower, but less likely to fall.
"Shepard!" Tali's voice came, Shepard turned to her.
"Follow me!" He rushed back for Liara's shuttle; he had seen the shuttles on the run. Tali followed him thoughtlessly; he sprinted, leaping sideways from another small explosion. Tali followed. His heart was pounding, his throat as dry. He wanted to say something, but he couldn't.
He gasped reaching the shuttle; Liara's white/blue armor was obvious. There was only one seat.
"Get in" Shepard gestured, Tali shook her head.
"I'm not leaving you" She spoke defiantly.
Shepard looked, in her visor he could see the flames approaching. There were seconds to decide. He decided. His fist flew. Tali fell. Shepard held back tears as he lifted her body and threw her into the seat beside Liara. He strapped her down, then pushed the button.
"Shepard!" Liara screamed as the shuttle closed, and fired. Shepard watched mournfully with his mind on Tali, and his friends.
"Keelah sa'lai" he mumbled. He was relieved for a moment, his friend and Tali were safe. He only just heard the explosion then ducked as the flames rushed across his armor. It was not a deadly blow, he ran towards the cockpit.
The alarms were louder now, the deck was unstable and open to space. He was making full use of his meg-boot systems, sprinting with fields holding him to his sinking ship. He ran for Joker, he saw two other figures there.
"Brother!" Don yelled in his Irish accent. Shepard smiled slightly; his adopted brother had great pride in his accent. Next to him was Shade. He could tell by Shade's deep green armor.
"The idiot won't abandon wreckage' Shade joked dimly. He was not his usual self, Don was holding him up. His leg was obviously injured, possibly a fracture. Shade wasn't screaming, but he was in pain.
Shepard sighed, running into the cockpit through the emergency field. Joker was desperately hammering on the controls, strapped down into the pilots seat. He had no mask. There was no time.
"Joker get your arse out of that chair and to the escape shuttle!" Shepard roared. Joker shook.
"I can still save her… I just need too. Oh no… They are coming round. Brace for another attack!" Joker spoke quickly. Shepard simply picked Joker from the chair, his brittle bones also made him lighter.
"Watch the arm!" Joker groaned. Shepard rushed to the escape pod; fields were up so Joker could breathe. Shade limped in, helping Joker to strap himself into the seat. Don was trying to help his brother lift Joker.
There was another explosion between Shepard and the escape pod. He was thrown back as was Don. Shade went to leap out.
"Commander!" he yelled. Shepard looked his friend in the eye; even under the visor his expression was unmistakable.
"No! Don't you dare you stupid bastard!" Shade yelled as Shepard thoughtlessly hit the outer control. The shuttle closed and launched. Shade fell backwards as he was unbelted. He was freely bouncing around a rushing shuttle. It was a small chance, but better than none.
"A small chance is better than none" Shepard comforted himself as he spun, unable to stop his momentum.
Shepard looked to his brother, to the Normandy which was reduced to pieces around him by an unknown ship. He turned his eyes up and glared at the incoming monster; Don already had a pistol out and was firing.
"Fuck you Fella!" He yelled at the ship as he fired useless rounds. One small bullet would not harm the monster that made the Normandy look like an ant.
There was another explosion. Don was fired forwards, hurtling miles in the opposite direction. Shepard was blown backwards; he watched the explosion nearly claim him.
He was still alive. He stared down at his ship again; he had a few hours of air. Maybe the Alliance would come, maybe… then he felt it.
"Oh god no!" He thought desperately as he reached over his shoulder to try and hold the puncture in between his shoulder blades. He felt the air sucked out of his lungs, the suit seemed to collapse and tighten against his body. It was decompressing, pushing the air from Shepard's lungs as space sucked it.
"No! I need to see Tali end her pilgrimage! I promised her I would see her fleet!" Shepard's kicks grew weaker. He couldn't hold the air within his suit. He was going to suffocate to death.
"I promised Ashley and Skip I would be the priest" His fingers could no longer feel.
"I told Shade and Liara I would…" Shepard's body flopped, he was almost dead. He had seconds.
"I never told Tali…"
His body floated in space, his limbs flailing like a rag doll as his body caught flame. He hurtled towards the nearby planet in the edges of Alliance space. He had lost, the Alliance had forsaken him. His ship was rubble, his crew scattered, and his brother dead.
He hadn't told anyone how he felt. He had punched Tali out. He had let his friend see his eyes before he pressed the button. He had not acted to save his brother. His biggest regret was not telling anyone how he felt, never telling Tali how much she meant, how proud he was of his brother, how much Liara and Shade meant to him. He died a royal dickhead.