Alchera… Such a nice name – melodic, soft, it makes you imagine a world full of beauty, some place where life flourish, where sun warms you and fresh summer breeze tickles your skin through the silky dress… Ignorance is bliss indeed!
In reality the best word to describe this dismal ice rock was 'DEAD'! Severe bone-breaking cold and ravenous ice winds howling like hungry predators that want nothing but to jam their sharp icy teeth deep into your flesh were your greeters here. But even all of them together could not compare with the corrosive void that the sight of the crushed ship left in Commander Seidra Shepard`s soul – her ship!
Seidra was standing there in the shuttle and watching: even after two years of blizzards the dark burnt parts of the ship were still visible and very well recognizable. Funny thing she never thought about how big the Normandy SR-1 actually was – when it was still 'alive' it seemed so small and compact, like a star-fighter and not a space frigate. And only now looking at the remains of her once proud and beautiful vessel that looked like bones of some giant steel whale Commander understood the whole amount of that tragedy.
Finally after few very long minutes Seidra managed to make a step out of the shuttle. Her armored boot immediately sank into the fresh creaky snow, leaving deep print but Shepard understood it was thick enough to walk, so she moved forward.
This place was one giant flashback – it was HER life as SHE remembered it: her ship, her uniform, her orders, her crew and her mission – and most of all her own free will and choices! Shepard was moving very slowly though this ice space cemetery – almost every step she stumbled on something and almost every time this something caused her new wave of memories.
Commander stopped at another flash and slowly knelt to find the source. Seidra did not hope too much when her gloved fingers started to dig the snow – it could be anything from a nut to the huge fragment of polished Normandy 'wing'. But as she managed to free the small piece of iron from its cold prison a light smile bloomed at her lips – it was a dog tag.
James Naron, Engineer… She did not know him directly, but for some reason seeing his name like this brought tears to her beautiful green eyes. Seidra was a soldier, she was trained to see death at every turn, to be ready for it and not be afraid of it – and even though she felt nothing while taking this trinket off the uglified frozen corpse she felt bitter remorse for this man`s life. He must have had family, a wife, people that cared about him… she was supposed to keep them all safe, and she failed.
Her mind immediately reacted and raised the thick wall of logical arguments to defend her conscience: yes she could not predict the attack, yet people die in the war, yes it is impossible to save everyone and yes – it was not her fault he could not reach the escape pod in time, she didn`t at all! But still it was painful, very painful moment for the Commander, she had nineteen more to come. It was impossible to mop tears with helm on so Shepard just stood up and walked away, going further and further into this space tomb where so many people lost their lives… including herself.
So she would go, pace after pace, tag after tag renewing the wounds on her soul she haven`t even knew of – as her feet made their way across the dead wreckage. The bridge, the place she was standing at, the place she made all her decisions, the place form where she commanded her ship… broken and barely recognisable.
Next she found the cockpit, it was almost intact since oblique form helped it dig in the snow during the crush. Seidra placed her hand on the wall near the pilot seats, almost gently swiping away hoarfrost – her heart stopped at the moment she saw it, the big red button she so desperately reached to save Joker… The last feat she made for one of her crew – sacrifice.
The wind howled unusually here, running through the hollow tubes and cold corridors of a long dead vessel, it gave Shepard creeps but not from the frost, no – she thought she heard the whisper in it. Like the dead ship called for its captain…
Another glimpse captured Seidra`s attention, and when she paced to it hoping for another tag her feet literally frozen to the ground – she saw it, her helmet. Slowly, very slowly she knelt near it trying to hold her tears and to somehow calm the madly beating heart; it didn`t help – her sobs echoed even through the breather of her suit when Seidra`s hand slid over her old deformed N7 helmet.
She was sitting there near it, gently waving the frost off and weeping – the Normandy`s crash site was one small cemetery, and this small piece of ice was her grave… Ironic she was mourning herself on her own grave… So much time, so many memories, feelings, emotions whirl winding wildly in the head, so much pain heaving her heart, an only one soul to endure all this. Seidra did rush, did not hold back anymore, she gave will to her tears, here of all places nobody could dare to tell her to be strong!
"Rest easy, Commander Seidra Shepard!" She stood up and saluted, her free hand grasped the broken helmet. That was the last shard of her past, the last painful stab, the last thing that held here here. So Commander walked away, just as slowly as before – as much as she hated this place she still could not and would not make herself hurry – the time itself seemed to flow slower here. As prove to it Seidra looked at her watch – 35 minutes here… She felt so tired like she`s been here for days and that was less than an hour really.
The golden memorial she brought here shined like a new borne star here, it contrasted so much to the lifeless surroundings of this dismal place – and even though it too represented the loss and pain Seidra smiled looking at it, among all other things this little sculpture showed the Normandy in its finest hours – the fearsome Alliance frigate on the edge of the shiny golden wave…
"Shall we go back ma`am?" the irritated and obviously frozen pilot reminded of his existence from the cabin, Seidra did not look at him, she only nodded silently and took a seat, holding her precious findings on her knees. The Cerberus pilot eyed the commander swiping snow off her shoulders and then his gaze slid on her knees where broken helmet was lying.
"A trophy?" he smirked, while his hands were dancing over the controls preparing the shuttle for the flight, "Should look good on the desk don`t you thin…"
He couldn`t finish `cause the next moment Commander shut the door to his cabin – nothing was to interrupt her at the moment, she was exhausted and tired, her eyes were red from tears and as a special bonus she seemed to catch the flu, but Seidra did not care about such things. Coming here was hard for her, being here was merely unbearable, but still she felt right at the moment, for she did her last duty as captain of the ship, as a commander! Twenty brave men and women that gave their lives to save others would be remembered and honored as they should…
Seidra sobbed again, eyeing her old helmet once again and accurately cleaning the broken glass from old soot. The only thing she regretted now was that she could not find her own tags!