So, Mass Effect 3…
First, a warning: this story is incomplete. There is a reason for that, and it is I played Mass Effect 3 once - only once - after having played the other 2 games about a dozen times through each (maybe more for ME1).
A number of people loved ME3, no qualifications needed. Many hated it, starting at some point in which things went south for them: a point in which auto-dialog took over their vision of Shepard or where their Mass Effect 2 romance suddenly got hit by a giant plot bus or what have you. Others, like myself, were lucky (or unlucky) in that the game played out perfectly every step of the way…right up until the absolute head-trip that is the last 5 minutes of the game.
I envy the optimism of the first group and I sympathize deeply with the second. For myself, I loved Mass Effect 3 right up until the end. As I played along, I was amazed and delighted. I kept thinking that the game was just what I’d hoped for, just what I’d imagined it would be. At times I almost thought I was dreaming it up, it seemed to complete my Shepard’s story so well.
And then the ending hit me like a punch to the gut.
I won’t go into long details about the ending. Yes, I played the extended cut - once. No, I did not care for it. I felt (and feel) a little stupid about how much the ending of Mass Effect 3 bothered me. After all, it’s just a video game, right? But on the other hand, I’m obviously a little invested in it. Obviously.
It’s now years later (and I’m finally updating this blurb for my website). I tried to fanfiction the feels away. It didn’t quite work. I have gotten numerous requests to finish this - I’m sorry, there comes a time when you have to let things go for your own mental health. This is one of them.
So this is incomplete, and I stopped writing for almost a year after. Now I’m writing DAI and my own work. I apologize in advance for not finishing this. It does conclude with a reunion of sorts for the heroes. And I’ll just picture them there, and not as the game leaves them.
Alright then. Enough introduction:
This is the final chapter of the Valkyrie’s story: Ragnarok, the end of the world.
As always, Mass Effect and all aspects thereof are the creation of BioWare (sidelong look with narrowed eyes). Commander Kyrie Shepard is my own creation, born out of the first two games and Jennifer Hale’s amazing voice acting.
The sky burst in an explosion of clean white silence. Her body flew backward and struck something. Her body then fell forward and landed on a solid surface that might have been another wall or maybe the floor. Pain roared through her limbs and her vision danced with stars. For a moment, she rolled, shoulder over shoulder. The world stopped shaking and she came to a halt. She lay there, dazed, uncertain if it was her body or the world around her that had been blown apart.
Breathe , Commander Shepard told herself. Just breathe .
Her lungs sucked in air; her head felt heavy as a stone. She was alive, she realized. The pain was indication enough of that. Grunting, she tried to sit up, but found she was too disoriented to move. She thought she heard someone call her name, but she couldn’t quite tell through the bright ringing in her ears.
This time, she was sure of the voice. A hand found hers and she clutched it tightly. The world pitched as someone hauled her to her feet. She nearly collapsed again, but that same arm held her upright. A moment later, her center of gravity returned and she found her bearings. Shepard opened her eyes and almost wished she hadn’t.
All around her was wreckage: torn metal, torn bodies and blood. A moment ago, those admirals had been alive, asking her how they were going to fight off the Reapers. She had told them the truth, but that hardly mattered now.
They were dead.
Shepard swallowed hard as a shard of icy guilt and rage seemed to slide into her stomach. For six months, six goddamn months, she had tried to get an audience with these people. For six months she had petitioned the Defense Council for a hearing. For six months she had sent them every scrap of intel she could scare up, wrote them repeated warnings, shown up every day in her dress blues demanding an audience. And for six months, the brass had ignored her.
And now they were all dead.
Shepard’s gaze slid along the floor and up to the world beyond the broken windows. The scene outside was like something from her nightmares. Great machines slid down from the skies: shapes as large as twenty ships, vaguely roach-like in appearance. The Reapers had come at last, numerous as locust in a Mindoir drought. Their great, claw-like bodies dwarfed the Vancouver skyscrapers, twitching as they touched down upon the earth. In her mind, they appeared to be feeding from and yet mating with the city.
Other images assaulted her in a rush: bodies clutched together in agony as they melted into one, cities burning, torn flesh, a child’s scream.
Prothean visions flooded her mind. The beacons had once given her a warning of what was to come, and now, it felt as if every ancient memory was rushing to the fore at the same time. The sight outside was lost in a blur of pictures: chaos and carnage as seen by a thousand eyes, pain as endured by a thousand souls. Shepard fell to the ground, clutching her head, vaguely aware that she was vomiting her breakfast onto her knees.
“Come on!” A hand under her armpit yanked her to her feet. A good shake seemed to break up the barrage in her mind.
“We need to get out of here.” A voice told her. Admiral Anderson solidified before her face, his expression grim and determined.
The sight of that face, that familiar, human face, broke Shepard from her shock. The Prothean vision began to melt away, like rain wiped from a pane of glass. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and nodded, forcing herself back to the present.
“Take this,” Anderson said. A gun found its way into her hand and Shepard’s fingers reflexively curled around the grip. After months without a firearm, the weapon was both heavy and familiar. Shepard felt as if the weight she had been carrying around on her shoulders had suddenly dropped into her hands.
“We have to get to the Normandy!” Anderson yelled to her. “This way!”
He leaped out of the window, onto the ledge and into the fight.
Shepard walked to the edge and looked out at the city before her. The deep mechanical roar of the Reapers groaned as if echoing through her skull. For a moment, courage failed her. Surely there was no resisting so many. Earth had no plan, no real weapons. Humanity was nothing more than children with sticks fighting canons. But then again, she told herself, the future was still unwritten. If there was any chance that humanity could survive, she had to fight for that chance. She had failed to prepare Earth, but she would stand by her own words:
She would fight, or she would die. There was nothing else to be done. Checking the heatsink on the pistol, she readied herself for the jump out onto the battlefield.
Breathe , Shepard told herself. Just breathe.