As the war drug on, the constant pressure of battle pushed us to the very edge of breaking.

Our superiors would tell us that help was coming that there was something big being worked on, an ancient weapon.  However, that was of little comfort as we were fighting and dying just to give our people a glimmer of hope.  Each person who escaped the Reapers was a small guarantee that we were not facing our extinction.

Day and night blurred together when the battles raged on, the enemy was relentless in their assault.  They adapted to every maneuver we tried, leading us to retreat more with each passing hour.  Patterns were predictable so we were forced to use guerilla tactics.  We had trained in these combat scenarios just as much as we had trained for formation attacks, but it still felt unnatural.

Today’s battle was just like so many before with the exception that I went into this one knowing in my gut that something was wrong.  Defeat felt imminent, we knew we would end up taking two steps back for each step up to the front line.  Death was just around the corner from that defeat.

I could hear the low growling that we had come to expect from the Marauders, Husks, and Cannibals.  In the distance there were the high-pitched shrieks of the Banshees.  Brutes were harder to tell until they were already upon you.  I would always keep an eye out for the beastly Brutes, after one of the beasts killed a couple of friends by simply swatting them aside.

We spread out using the abandoned city to take cover from the immediate response by the Reapers to our presence.  Radios crackled on and off as the ruins blocked the short range point to point signals we were forced to use as our only means of communication amongst the wreckage.

As I rolled into cover I took in where the Reapers were.  Once behind cover I let my brain process what had been seen.  There were four enemies in total, three to the left and one on the right of the burning structure that had once been someone’s home.

I looked over my shoulder and spotted better cover.  Rolling once again, I moved through the attack that began instantaneously when I showed myself.  I popped back up when I was safely behind the wall.  I poked my head out and shot at the enemy until my gun was empty.  Ducking back, my hands began the ingrained procedure of changing out the ammo clip.

That was when I realized I was not alone on this side of the wall.  I froze for just a breath taking in the enemy that was before me.  In that moment, I recognized the marking on the creature in front of me.  The Reapers had mutilated and controlled the love of my life.

I looked into the mechanical eyes that no longer shown with compassion.  I still had my riffle raised but I found I could not pull the trigger.  Defeat washed over me at the knowledge that this was the very reason that the Reapers would ultimately win.  We would all die because we were thinking, feeling individuals while the enemy was a cold calculating machine.

Taking a breath, I waited for the attack that would end my life, the attack that never came.

Right before my eyes, a wave of what seemed to be energy washed over the land.  I took one step back enough to brace myself for the blast wave.  As it touched the Reapers, they crumpled to the ground.  The mechanics within them whirred for only a few seconds before the silence of death overcame them.  Cheers went up around me as my comrades emerged from the buildings they had used as cover.  It seemed that the war was over.

I looked at the crumpled form that had once been my beloved.  I closed my eyes as grief and pain washed over me.  I had survived, but at what cost.

* * * * *

Disclaimer:  Mass Effect is property of Bioware.  I do not own the characters.  No money is made on this fiction.


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