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Dragon's Teeth: Mass Effect 1

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Milky Way/Omega Nebula/Amada System

"Something you need Joker?" Kaidan asked, joining him on the bridge.

"Yeah." Joker said, turning his chair to face him. "What's up with you and the Commander?"

Kaidan blanched. "Garrus said this was urgent." He blurted, saying the first thing that came to mind to avoid answering Joker's question.

"It is important." Joker insisted, a smile on his lips. "Inquiring minds want to know."

"Joker..."

"What? Oh come on Lieutenant. I'm stuck in this chair and on this bridge most of the time we're out here." He said, pouting. "I need some entertainment you know."

"Really Joker?" Kaidan sighed.

"Yes really. Being the pilot of the best damn ship in the fleet is great, but without geth or Mako drops, my boredom metre is off the charts. Come on Lieutenant... please? Give me something."

"Shepard and I are... friends." Kaidan hedged.

"Pfft. Yeah, I think I know that." Joker scoffed. "But are you like friends, friends or what?"

Rolling his eyes, Kaidan sighed heavily. It wasn't as though they were trying to keep their relationship secret, but Shepard had promised Anderson they'd be discreet. But he also knew Joker wasn't going to let him off easy - he was like a dog with a bone when he wanted to know something.

"Okay Joker. But only if you promise to keep it quiet." Even as he said it, Kaidan knew he was wasting his breath.

"Me?" Joker sounded insulted. "I'm the most discreet person you know. Scout's honour. Cross my heart and all that."

"We're more than just friends."

"I knew it!" Joker exclaimed, a smile spreading across his face as he turned back to his console. "I'm going to tell Adams I was right."

"Joker."

"What? The entire crew knows Lieutenant. I just wanted facts."

"Right. Of course." Kaidan said, his irritation dissolving. "Just don't let it leave the ship. Anderson's orders."

"What? Don't you trust me? Wait... on second thought, don't answer that."

Shaking his head, Kaidan headed back to the elevator. He wasn't surprised the crew knew about him and Shepard, but he found it unsettling to hear they were talking about them. He was about to step inside the elevator, looking forward to a hot shower when he caught the look of a crew member whose expression looked frightened. Concerned, he reversed direction and went to ask what was wrong.

"Board is green. Emission sinks activated. We are running silent." Joker announced from his place on the bridge.

"We're wasting our time." Pressly said, irritated as he made notes on his datapad. "Four days searching this sector and we haven't found any signs of geth activity."

"Three ships went missing here in the past month." Joker replied. "Something happened to them."

"My money's on slavers." Pressly asserted. "The Terminus system is crawling with them."

"Picking up something on the long-range scanner." Ensign Rosalie interrupted. "Unidentified vessel. Hmm. Looks like a cruiser."

"Doesn't match any known signatures." Joker said.

"Cruiser is changing course." Rosalie continued. "Now on intercept trajectory."

"Can't be!" Pressly argued. "Stealth systems are engaged. There's no way a geth ship could..."

Kaidan was about to step onto the elevator when Joker's voice boomed from the intercom.

"It's not the geth!" Joker yelled, activating red alert. "Brace for evasive maneuvers!"

Kaidan stumbled into the railing surrounding the galaxy map, gripping the console before him, trying to keep his feet under him as Joker banked the Normandy hard left. An explosion near the cockpit drew his attention to the bow and he made his way back to the bridge.

A direct hit to the bridge deck of the Normandy exploded the console where Pressly was seated, throwing him to the floor, killing him instantly.

"Pressly!" Rosalie cried. She rose to come to Pressly's side as another impact exploded her console, electrocuting her as she stood.

Joker scrambled to maintain control of the ship as the bridge erupted in flames. "Kinetic barriers down! Multiple hull breaches! Somebody get that fire out!"

Kaidan grabbed an extinguisher to his left and went to work putting out fires that had broken out all around Joker's position.

"Joker! Sound the evacuation order! We have to abandon the ship!" Kaidan ordered as the extinguisher he held ran out of fire suppressant.

"No! I won't abandon the Normandy!" Joker cried. "Go get Shepard and get the crew out of here!"

Shaking his head at Joker's stubbornness, Kaidan ran for the stairs as smoke began to fill the CIC. Helmet in hand, he made for the crew deck knowing Callie would be there, activating the ship's distress beacon.

"Shepard!"

"Distress beacon is ready for launch." She said, donning her helmet.

"Will the Alliance get here in time?"

"They won't abandon us. We just need to hold on. Get everyone onto the escape shuttles." She said grabbing an extinguisher to put out a nearby fire. Kaidan did the same as a second fire erupted behind him, billowing smoke as the interior burned.

"Joker's still in the cockpit. He won't abandon ship." He said. "I'm not leaving either."

Callie knew what he was saying and although it warmed her heart, it was her job to get everyone out safe. She couldn't afford to be sentimental now. "I need you to get the crew onto the evac shuttles. I'll take care of Joker."

"Commander!" Kaidan protested as she cleared debris away from the distress beacon so it could be launched.

"Kaidan. Go. Now."

"Aye, aye." He said, turning away from her. His whole body resisted, wanting to stay, make sure she was safe even as he forced himself onward to the evac shuttles. He told himself she'd be fine, it was Shepard - she was always fine.

The corridor was filled with smoke as he helped the last of the crew board the shuttles. He climbed in as the one he was near filled to capacity, turning in time to see another crew member die as another explosion rocked the ship.

One after the other, the shuttles jettisoned from the Normandy, their propulsion systems shooting them into space, far from the fast disintegrating ship. Those aboard Kaidan's shuttle watched in horror from the small porthole as the unknown enemy ship fired on the Normandy again.

Kaidan felt his heart stop. Shepard was still on board, still making her way to Joker. He was overcome with helplessness as another impact from the enemy ship split off the rear section of the Normandy. They were so far away now, that from this distance it was hard to tell what parts of the ship were still intact. He didn't know how many of the crew had made it to the shuttles or how many had already lost their lives, save for Pressly who'd he'd seen lying motionless on the bridge.

Garbled static broke through the comm on Kaidan's shuttle and all aboard turned worried eyes to the speaker. Joker's voice broke through the silence of the enclosed space, the panic in his voice plain to everyone on board.

"Commander!"

"Shepard!"

All eyes turned to the porthole as another blast impacted the Normandy, cutting through what was left of the bridge deck. A small blue fire could be seen racing away from the bright light of the explosion which everyone knew could only be the pilot's evac shuttle. They watched in mute silence as what was left of the Normandy came apart in a final massive explosion, tearing off the bow and severing the stern from the centre of the the ship.

Static echoed in the enclosed space of the shuttle

Static echoed in the enclosed space of the shuttle. No one spoke. Everyone was still in shock over the suddenness of the attack. They didn't even know who had fired on them, although many had heard Joker say they were under attack by an unknown enemy. The loss of the Normandy was a huge blow, but the fear they'd heard in Joker's voice was worse. What had happened to Shepard? Had she made it? Was she safe?

Kaidan felt Dr. Chakwas' eyes on him. She sat across from him and was watching him with a sad, thoughtful expression on her face. He didn't like how she was looking at him or what her look seemed to imply, so he turned his gaze away, not wanting to acknowledge what he suspected she was thinking.

Shepard was okay. She had to be. It was Shepard after all, she always had a plan. It was torture knowing he would have to wait for the Alliance to rescue them before he could see Callie again. Aside from himself, no one on this shuttle were wearing protective gear. Even if they made it to a hospitable planet, he couldn't leave without exposing everyone inside to atmospheric pressure.

He clenched his teeth, squeezing his eyes shut as he offered up a silent prayer to the spirits Garrus was always talking about. He prayed for patience and calm before begging them to please let her be okay.

----xxx----

Callie activated the launch for the distress beacon as she turned toward the crew quarters, heading to the stairs that would take her to the bridge.

The doors to the CIC slid open and massive destruction greeted her. The entire top half of the ship above the galaxy map was gone, as was the entire left side. Activating her mag boots, Callie made slow but steady progress towards the bridge. She could see Joker madly trying to keep the Normandy on a steady course, but all she heard was the rhythmic sound of her own breathing.

Passing through the kinetic barrier that sealed off the bridge from the rest of the ship, she leaned toward Joker as her external sound returned.

"Come on Joker. We have to abandon ship."

"No! I can still save her!" Joker argued, sounding like he was about to cry.

"The Normandy's lost." Callie said softly. "We have to go."

"Alright. Help me up." He said when he caught something on his scanner.

"They're coming around for another attack!"

Callie grabbed Joker by the arm and helped him up, slow walking him to the last evac shuttle on the ship.

"Ow. Watch the arm." He said with gritted teeth as he stepped inside the open doors of the shuttle.

A blast rocked the ship as Callie was about to join him, knocking her off-balance, causing her to lose her grip on the opening. The shockwave pushed her into the now missing cockpit and she struggled to hold on to whatever she could.

"Commander!" Joker cried as she floated out of reach.

"Shepard!" He screamed, watching in horror as she launched his shuttle, cutting off her only hope of survival.

Callie knew there was no way she was getting back to Joker and without thinking, released the lock on the bridge shuttle, launching him to safety moments before another blast cut through the spot where the shuttle had just been. The force of the blast sent her spinning helplessly into space and she watched in horror as the Normandy burned and disintegrated before her eyes.

Awed by the site, it was several moments before she realized just how screwed she was. She was going to die. Her pulse sped up as she spun helplessly away from the ship debris, feeling the pull of the nearby planet's gravity well as it sucked her in. She heard a hissing sound and felt her breath catch in her throat. Oh my god, Callie thought in horror, I'm losing air. All hope of getting picked up before her air ran out dissolved as she struggled in vain to fix the leak, feeling her chest begin to constrict from the loss of pressure.

All hope of getting picked up before her air ran out dissolved as she struggled in vain to fix the leak, feeling her chest begin to constrict from the loss of pressure

Kaidan, she whispered, knowing with heart-wrenching certainty just how devastating her death would be to him. Tears formed in her eyes. In her panic at the loss of air, she continued her struggle to breathe. I'm so sorry Kaidan, she whispered as her heart beat it's last and her world faded to black.

The End

Part 3, Lazarus Project: Mass Effect 2 available now on Wattpad: Julianne_Winters