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The blizzard howled like a rampaging bull, the dry flakes of snow like tiny bullets against any obstacles in their path. Fierce winds kicked up an impregnable white out. The cold was enough to splinter concrete and even metal finally yielded under the ice. That was where I had found myself, already fully covered, buried, in the snow. Hypothermia had destroyed my thought processes, my body too numb to even feel the pain from the cold now. Time was a bitter-sweet father; while the cold threatened to kill me, the snow had eventually to become a blanket, preventing the temperature from dropping further. If my core had retained any body heat remaining in my body, it would have been warm. No, that luxury did not exist here.

Death approached me like a shadow. It was a miracle consciousness had remained as long as it had. What memories retained of that day was the colour white. Recollection of where I was or even how I got here had gone. Memories of laughing with my family just the previous night, in a warm room with a roaring fire flooded past. When night had passed and something stirred me, snow surrounded me. How you came from that to here remained the mystery.

Covered in the snow, my sense of time skewed, no marker existed to track it. The blanket of snow was thick. A low rumbling sound that vibrated the snow around me would stir me from my stupor. It reached a crescendo of what could have been roaring 10m from me, but faded then vanished within the roaring storm. The days melted into a long sequence, never a solid start or end. The fear of insanity remained prominent in my mind. For my life during my vague, lucid moments.

“The distress beacon appears to be much further south than this,” A voice shouted over the wind, sounding distorted and unfamiliar to my abused senses. A shiver cracked frozen muscles. Voices. People!

“This old facility has been abandoned for years, I doubt there is much here,” Another voice called.

“We need to cut through here anyway to get to the beacon. The Mako can't get through this gorge,” A third. So close, they were so close. My body couldn't move. My body froze like ice. Why couldn't I move? Help!

“Well, let's hope we can get through here, this blizzard is nearly impossible to see thro-ahh!” the first voice cried in surprise.

The shock of an impact on my hip jump started my senses. My lucid, tranquil peace shattered by pain. Holding onto consciousness taxed my weakened mind. Whoever had fallen on me had caught themselves, saving me from a painful break. The snow billowing into my once safe hole dropped my body temperature even more. The chill made my eyes sting, eyes squeezing shut again. My lashes froze immediately.

“Are you alright?” the third exclaimed.

“Y-Yeah, I'm fine. Just a void in the snow. Damn foot fell into... it?” the first voice paused, distracted.

“Something wrong?” The second voice echoed concern, the wind my only companion.

When the foot moved, a hand reached in to dig some of the snow back. The crunching of snow sounded above me movement, life, possible rescue. The rest of the team approached.

“Ah, looks like someone got lost in the snow,” the first voice said.

“Poor bastard. Any identification?” The third asked.

“Not than I can see. Looks like a human, female. Can't guess an age, though,” A hand reached down as if to roll me over. As the muscles moved for the first time in an eternity, the pain as they ripped, my eyes popped open, a pained wheeze rang out. The chill attacked my eyes. The hand withdrew, startled. “Oh God, she's still alive!” A stir of activity above me drowned out the sound of the wind

“Dig her out! Now!”

The memories fog after that. The best way to describe it would be to remember a scene from a movie; familiar yet distant. Memories fogged whenever they reminisced over the rescue; of being dug out, of being carried. The sensations of pain or cold or heat, however, remained suppressed. The memory of a man in dark armour, red and white running down his right arm, hoisting me up shone through everything. My only clear memory. He had been calling reassurances over the wind. Then the howl stopped, finding myself surrounded by metal and plastic, every sound amplified with an echo. It was preferable to the snow and ice that had held me captive for that endless time. Rough blankets on my skin, dumped on me to retain what little heat remained. The constant chatter of voices and radios echoing around me. And then the ground shuddered like a car with poor suspension. My consciousness lost the battle this time. Only the rumble that shook the vehicle rescuing me from the cold remained, a faint whining sound and my gut kicked upwards from under me.

My memories became disjointed, everything skewed in ways that made no sense. No one could deny what I suffered through, yet the connection between memories and fantasy did not form. That my memory felt so foreign terrified me. My brain, trying to cope with the trauma, decided this was the best method is could come up with. To be away from the cold, part of me thanked the team. The other part wanted to go home. My next memory, my first vivid one, was the one of waking, when I realised something was wrong.

My head ached as if locked in a vice. It was enough to force a mumbled complaint from my mouth. Only when the rumble of background noise stopped did my brain connect it to a voice. Even with my eyes shut, the light above me was blinding through my eyelids did not improve my comfort levels. My muscles whined as they moved, body rolling onto my side, but the eyes stopped wanting to water. When courage and curiosity won, my eyes opened, locking onto a wall, a dark blue metal wall. It took what felt like hours to realise what it was. Once my eyes stopped watering and my pain had eased to a bearable level, I rolled over to gaze at the rest of the room.

Large circles of light lit the head of each bed, the source of my original discomfort. A robotic arm beside each bed waited like alien machines of death. The navy room was dark, in part due to the colouration and the band of white floor lightning. There were two other beds here. A desk opposite the foot of my bed and another on the furthest wall by a door, all with brilliant orange screens hovering in the air. My eyes couldn't tear themselves away, gazing through them to the wall on the other side. Where... was I?

“You are a very lucky girl,” a female voice said. Muscles jolted, spinning to face a grey-haired woman with subdued green eyes as she walked over, a small pad in her hand with a screen that was see-through and buttons on the bottom. She wore some kind of strange jump suit with dark grey and white patches on over the shoulders collar and arching over the right side of her chest. “I am not sure how long you were out in that blizzard, but you were close to death. How do you feel?” She asked. Helpless, my mind refusing to work, staring at the woman with a slackened expression. When it restarted, my body trembled itself awake.

“A-A little sore. T-Thank you,” I said, swallowed hard as nerves and pain rattled me to my core.

“My pleasure, however you may wish to thank the Commander. It was he and his crew who dug you out of the snow and brought you on the Normandy,

“T-Thanks,” I babbled, still unsure what to make of the situation. “I mean, I-I'll thank him when I see him,”

“Commander Shepard is on a mission, I shall notify him you have awoken when he returns to the ship if you like. For now, however, I suggest that you get some sleep. I am Dr. Chakwas,” she introduced.

“Endellion, Endellion Shaik, j-just call me Dell,” I said, calculating every syllable. If possible, making a fool of myself filled the top slot of my 'do not do' list. Chakwas smiled as she nodded, returning to her desk.

A faint hum droned in the background like an annoying buzzer, disturbing my attempts to sleep. Whenever sleep freed me, my eyes searched for the doctor, to keep her in sight. She seemed pleasant, even warm, but my instincts reminded me to be cautious. New people were unpredictable. To worsen my situation, sometimes an orange hologram surrounded her arm like a medieval gauntlet. That settled a heavy stone deep in my stomach. What kind of technology was that? Where in the world would have tech like that? Nothing was as it seemed. This level of technology didn't exist. With fear pinning me to the bed, my mind blazed with questions. An answer never came. A radio transmission destroyed any attempt to sleep, my body primed to pounce away to safety. As the seconds ticked by, my thundering heart settled long enough to hear Chakwas chuckle. She smiled as she faced me.

“Don't worry, it is only the commander returning to the ship. I will need to give him an update on your status. Will you be alright for a short while?” she asked as she pushed the chair back. The bravest smile my trembling body could muster pulled my lips up.

“I-I'll be fine,” I said, trying to brighten my expression. Her smile slipped, suggested she didn't believe me.

She exited the room with a friendly wave, the doors whisking themselves from her path with a swoosh. She could return, just to catch me. After counting to 5, my shoulder sagged, my face in my hand as the weight of the situation crashed upon me. Nothing made sense. There was no concept of where this was; was it a hospital or something? It was small, a faint hum trembled through the walls. My anxiety levels after my dear death experience remained high, the thought of dealing with so many new people with the fear of being in a different country didn't help. Hyperventilation hovered in the background, a constant threat. The nerves nipped like bee stings, anxiety crushing common sense. The doctor did not return for several minutes, long enough for my mind to create monsters from shadows. Until the doors pried themselves apart again. My eyes burst out the sockets, voice paralysed in my throat.

The thing that walked through the door wasn't human. Over 6 feet tall, this creature walked on two toes, its heel hovering off the ground. Long lanky legs protruded out the hips as if stuck on with glue, its thin waist only amplified this. The chest flared into wide shoulders with more lanky limbs leading to 2-fingered hands and a thumb. The armour seemed to outline a protruding carapace around the back of the neck. Scales climbed up the back of the neck. Several parts made up the face; plates and large mandibles looked glued to the side of the face, running up to the jaw point where it flared into a small fan shape at the end. The mouth seemed beak like, the nose was flat and rectangular with two grooves near the bottom. A large crest of spines flowed off the top of the head like a bird's crest. Avian-like winter blue eyes stared at me with interest.

It paused by the door, noticing my gawking. The alien studied my expression, watching as my body trembled closer to the edge of the bed. It had to see my fear. It didn't approach me, it scratched one of its mandibles in thought. Swallowing was nigh on impossible, my throat seized. It spoke, but it may as well have been Mandarin for the good it did. Not a word of English and the language itself sounded as friendly as an angry German. It stopped, crossing its arms. Why did the doctor put me in the corner of the room, why put me in such a vulnerable position, it was impossible to flee this creature now! It tried speaking again, another useless attempt at conversation. With fear quaking my entire frame, my own words fumbled like a drunk in an earthquake.

“I-I'm s-so-orry.” I started, voice trembling. It paused, staring with critical eyes, twitching like a hungry bird of prey. “I-I d-do n-not u-underst-stand y-you,” Its gaze fixated on me. The plates on its face moved. My usual expression cues didn't exist at all! It muttered something under its breath, raising its arm to his chest. That gauntlet like hologram flared up on its arm as it tapped away at something. It waved its hand over in my direction, making me squeak again, then looked at a screen in his palm again. Fear rattled my frame.

“Do you understand me now?” it asked, the base voice of a male. It sounded so distorted, so... alien. The distortion caused a sack full of flanging, which increased the difficulty to understand him. Oh no, oh no, now I had to talk to it! A lump in my throat dragged itself down, my body forcing itself into a less precarious sitting position. My muscles were soaking in adrenaline, ready to bounce away. Parts of my body had not defrosted yet, however.

“I-I do,” I said, my trembling.

“So you don't have a translator in place. Dr. Chakwas said she couldn't find any trace of you on the Alliance database when searching for your medical records. I suppose that means there are other things you don't have,” he grinned. Or... did he? My eyes snapped to the now visible pointed teeth. My vision danced, the room ebbing and swelling. A weak sound in my throat croaked out. He seemed to frown, the plates drawing closer together. Darkness settled in around the edges of my vision. “Are you alright? You look rather pale, even for a human,”

“I-I,” I said, fighting to swallow. My throat seized, petrified, preventing air from reaching my lungs. “D-don't know w-what y-you a-are,” If he had stared at me before, he gawked at me now.

“You've never met a... you've never seen a turian before?” he asked. It wasn't condescending, it was... curious? My head shook, eyes frozen on the 'turian;. My brain forced a breath, driving the shadows away for a moment. Breathe, breathe or you'll pass out! Don't pass out with this thing around!

“Garrus, are you annoying the young girl?” Chakwas' voice sounded, scolding. Garrus spun around in surprise, mandibles flared. Upon realising who it was, he raised his hands, shuffling with a nervous laugh.

“No, no! Not on purpose anyway. She's never seen a turian before,” he said. The human doctor studied the 'turian' before lookingto me. What was she thinking? Was she going to laugh? Was this common knowledge? What did I do wrong!? My breath evolved into sharp rasps now, everything looked like a Salvador Dali painting. The doctor's sharp eyes saved me from fainting.

“Endellion, darling,” she crooned, approaching me at speed. She grasped my shoulders, squeezing them to ground me. “I need you to breathe for me, alright? Take a deep breath in,” Her instructions permeated through the layers of my thoughts, but my mind couldn't process it. After several persuasive pleads, my lungs gulped a breath in. The panic wasn't reseeding, but the doctor's face was no longer hazy. “Garrus, get out of here. You're terrifying the poor girl!” My eyes tried to follow the creature as it grumbled, evacuating the room. With the unusual alien gone, my mind settled, returning to some sense of normality. The thought of him still in the same building as I, however, kept me from total peace.

Normality restored, the Dr Chakwas continued in vain to locate any sign of me on these computer systems of hers, keeping a close eye on me should hyperventilation occurred again. She gave me a small ear piece, a metallic ring, while taking a coffee break, a translator she said. My ear still tingled after inserting it in my ear canals. During this time, my courage readied itself to ask the eternal questions. Where was I? Why were humans and monsters mixing? What were these things anyway? Were there other aliens as well? Were they... friendly? No, best to assume not friendly until otherwise proven. Dr Chakwas sighed in defeat.

“There is no record of you at all in any Earth Systems database,” she turned me, eyes sad. “I do not know what vaccinations you have received. Were you vaccinated before you left Earth?” she asked, turning to face me.

As the words sunk in, my jaw dropped and my eyes rolled on the ground. What did she mean 'when you left Earth'? We weren't on Earth? Where was this then? What year was it? What had happenedto me? So many questions. So many painful, horrible thoughts for answers to those questions. My mind wasn't able to think straight. Was this no longer 2016? That explained why the technology seemed so... weird. Was it possible to go home? My head buried itself in my hands, pained sounds creeping free.

“Endellion?” My muscles jolted, startled by the doctor’s voice. “Are you alright?”

“U-Uh, y-yes. Yes, I'm ok,” I spat the words out in desperation, fighting to put a smile on my face. Dr Chakwas frowned, giving me a critical study.

“Do you remember how you ended up on Xawin?” she asked, tone guarded.

“X-Xawin?” I echoed. The doctor hmmed with concern.

“The planet we found you on,” she verified. My expression dropped out of my control. Horror was too kind a word for the cold stone that dragged every sensation in my body to my feet. My blood washed away into the depths of my body. A cold chill settled over me, freezing my stiff muscles. Xawin was a planet. Not Earth. Those memories were from Earth. They had been from another planet...

“W-Where... am I?” I asked, my voice a croaked whisper. Dr Chakwas was silent in her chair, her pale green eyes sharp.

“You are on the SSV Normandy, en-route to the Citadel,” she said, watching my expression. SSV... that meant that I…

“I'm on a boat?” I asked, trying to force my mind into some workable state. My brain was a landmine, one wrong word and it would rupture. The expression on the woman's face before me changed. She chose her words.

“You are on a spaceship, Endellion,” she responded, her voice balancing gentleness and critical study like a tightrope. My vision swam, my heart bounced in my chest, panic draining the world of colour. My lungs refused to work, refused to take a breath. A spaceship? This was a…

“What... w-what year is it?” I asked. My voice constricting me. Shadows settled around my vision. The doctor rose to her feet, silent. Those few panicked seconds felt like an eternity.

“It is the 13th of May, 2183,”

2183? 21- Adrenaline coursed like a torrent, drowning out even the sound of my heart rate. My legs hurled me off the bed, falling to the ground as the knees collapsed. The doctor made a move towards me, but desperation threw me onto my feet. My arms shoved her away as she reached for me, bursting out the door. My legs quaked under my weight as a larger room opened before me. A few people spun towards me in surprise. My mind never processed them. My vision had narrowed, a letterbox. The window beyond the people held me. To the stars. Black. Stars. Nebulas. Space. We were in space. Then a new alien crossed my line of sight. A large, massive, l a turtle. It turned its head, spotting me. A red eye narrowed. My knees collapsed as unconsciousness found me.

Author's Note: Due to several people asking for clarity, I will put this here for those unfamiliar with my writing style. Throughout the story, you will notice line breaks (the same break as seen above). These will mean one of two things;
- A large time skip or
- A change in POV
This is a multi-POV story, as such, there are times where the POV changes within the same chapter. These are not very common (I estimate about 10/110 chapters have a POV change in them, an example is chapter 4 of Starquake). Whole chapters in a single POV not the main character are more common, so I leave clues within the chapter to tell you who is speaking (ie, language style, conversations, 'biological' markers such as mandibles etc) as I feel leaving a marker after the break such as '[Person]'s POV' ruins the flow. Hopefully this clears up any future confusion.

:bulletblue: The Timeline has been created for this chapter.
:bulletgreen: The Galaxy Map has been created for this chapter.

Timeline | Galaxy Map | Reaper Forces

Well, here's the first chapter. This does revolve around the main story of the Mass Effect games, however there will be new spots here and there so it will have some originality rather than spurting the tales of Shepard. Enjoy!

Starquake Series:

First Chapters:
Book 1: Starquake | Book 2: Homecoming | Book 3: Revenant | Book 4: Renaissance | Book 5: (Not released) | Book 6: Inclusion  

Starquake Gallery | Starquake Sheet Archive | Starquake Chapter Index

Mass Effect© to Bioware
Endellion© to me
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Submitted on
September 3, 2013
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Mature Content


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