Shepard ran toward the beam, muscles aching from overuse but she couldn't rest, not yet.
Her head was still throbbing from blood loss, her vision turning a hazy red around the edges and still she ran.
She'd never really planned on surviving this.
Time seemed to slow down as her mind began to conjure up memories from the past, playing behind her eyes like a showreel.
She thought of the day she'd become the commander of the Normandy Sr-1. The way it had felt to stand in front of the galaxy map surrounded by the expectant faces of her crew and plot a course across the stars.
She thought of their many bumpy journeys in the Mako. Garrus doubled over in laughter after she drove directly off the side of the mountain... Liara's pale face as she gripped onto the handrail, whispering "Oh Goddess please", over and over.
She thought of Tali laying claim to her new home after they'd saved Rannoch. Looking into her eyes for the first time as she'd watched Tali begin to imagine a future.
She thought of Liara. Of their minds meeting one last time. She'd been so innocent and naive when they'd met in the beginning and now, well she had grown into one of the strongest and wisest people Shepard had ever been lucky enough to call a friend.
The beam drew closer and she let her mind wander to him, to Garrus.
She hoped he'd forgive her for breaking their promise.
God she'd been so lucky to love him. To be loved by him.
She could still recall the day they had first met. They'd both been so young and overconfident. How could she have known that this this angry, former C-Sec officer, alien would become the greatest friend she had ever known and the greatest love of her life.
She thought of how their hands had fit so well together despite their anatomical differences, like two puzzle pieces from two separate jigsaws that had managed against the odds to make a new picture.
She thought of the warmth of him pressed against her back at night as they slept, the blue glow of her fishtank casting a comforting glow across the room as if they were underwater.
She thought of the way he'd gasp her name into her hair when they were alone. Her real name. How it had become her favourite sound.
She thought of the way she'd wake up in the morning in his arms, his limbs tangled around hers like an octopus. His weight seemed like an anchor in those moments, an assurance, I am with you, I will always be with you.
She'd told him that today.
She was crying now.
God it would be so easy to choose destruction. To convince herself that ending the reapers would end the neverending cycle of chaos and destruction that gripped the universe.
Then she thought of Legion. Of his sacrifice. All to give the Geth life.
She thought of them all currently on Rannoch, building houses they didn't need for the creators who has tried to end them. She thought of what Legion had shown her, the geth standing in front of their creators begging for their mercy.
"This unit is ready to serve"
"Creator Megara, what is your status"?
"What has this unit done wrong"?
How could she doom a race of people to extinction, a race whose only crime had been wanting to live. She thought of EDI, of her childlike curiousity and terrible jokes. The way Joker would look at her when he thought she wasn't looking and how she'd let him.
She understood now why Legion had sacrificed everything.
It was the only way to free the galaxy from this cycle.
The reapers, however horrific their actions were merely pawns. Programmed with a directive to preserve life and prevent chaos without any real understanding of what life was
Garrus, Liara,Tali, Anderson Joker, Wrex, Thane, Mordin, Kaiden, Ashley, Cortez, James, Grunt, Jacob, Miranda,Samara, Javik, Jack, Zaeed, Kasumi, Legion...
So many people had helped her get here. Given her a reason to fight. Given her their loyalty, their friendship.... Love.
She wouldn't look back now, she never had to, even now he was protecting her six.
"Live for me Garrus", She thought fervently, hoping that somehow, wherever he was, he could hear her, "I'll be waiting at the bar".
She jumped into the beam.
It didn't hurt, not exactly.
It felt like she was unraveling at the seams, the very essence of herself evolving, assimilating. Synthetic lines snaked down her arms and across her skin as she became one with the crucible. Her DNA being cataloged and rewritten and assimilated as every atom of who she once was exploded like a supernova of distant stars.
"Ah",She sighed, face breaking out in a smile as her consciousness began to fade.
She finally understood.
Then she came apart, evolving into something beyond comprehension
The blast of the crucible poured across the galaxy in a breathtaking wave of green. There was no singular "her" anymore, no them, no time or distance,or perception only synthesis as her very essence spread across the furthest reaches of the universe, changing everything in its path irrevocably.
She felt Him.
Became a part of him, a part of everything. The reapers stopped their attacks, organics and synthetics alike freezing in place as the cycle ended and every sentient mind was gripped by understanding.
Years later, Garrus would tell Liara that when the blast had hit the Normandy and their DNA had been forever rewritten he had felt her, like a gentle whisper in his mind.
He wasn't alone, none of them were now,