At the end of ME3.
"No, no, no, no, noooooo!!!!" Traynor screamed over and over again as her fingers flew across the interface desperately trying to re-establish contact with Commander Shepard's armor bio-signal. Tears she did not feel flowed freely from her eyes trailing down her flushed cheeks and dripping off her chin. "No, no, no! Pleeeeease!"
For the last few hours, as Task Force Hammer assaulted the Reaper beam location in London, the Normandy was back in space helping destroy Reapers. Joker made the frigate dance between missiles and energy beams getting in close enough for the Thanix cannons to blast off large chunks of the monstrous ships. The violent maneuvering stressed the ship's artificial gravity to its limits, and Samantha often found herself holding on to her console for dear life.
EDI chastised her several times for not being strapped into her safety seat, but Samantha couldn't bring herself to sit against the wall and ride it out like a spectator. Instead, she grabbed two cargo straps wrapped them around her waist and tied herself to her console. No matter how rough the ride got or how often she was slammed against the unforgiving titanium of the console mounts, she held her ground. She had to, for her own peace of mind. For Shepard.
She spent hours tracking the bio-signatures sent from the armor of each Normandy crewman engaged in combat on Earth. Though maintaining the signal was next to impossible as the Normandy twisted through space, she always found a way to bounce signals around and bully access through a few of the remaining satellites. Her station really wasn't set up for this tracking either, but she overcame that by strapping two portable routers and a spare screen next to the main and running the GUI interface through her Omni-tool. EDI said the jury-rigged system was ingenious. Usually, Samantha would have blushed a bit getting a compliment like that from EDI in that voice, but this time she was too preoccupied and worried about someone else to register it.
In addition to tracking coms from other coalition ships fighting the Reapers and recommending to Joker which ones seemed to need the most help, she avidly followed the signals of those on Earth and tracked them through the superimposed map of London she created.
The team had been doing well. All were still alive before moving out of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hammer. She watched as their heart rates and adrenaline levels sky-rocketed during pitched battles and as they slowly returned close to normal between engagements. These people were amazing. She'd heard about the teams Shepard put together in the past. How she brought them together and somehow made them all exponentially better as they fought as a team under her. Wherever former and current member of Normandy's past and present were, the battle went well. The list of legends awed her. Liara T'Soni, Urdnot Wrex, Garrus Vakarian, Tali'Zorah vas Normandy, Ashley Williams, Miranda Lawson, Jacob Taylor, Javik-a real Prothean!, Urdnot Grunt, Jack, Zaeed Massani, Kasumi Goto, Samara the Justicar, and now James Vega. These people changed the course of history, destroyed galactic threats and saved people both on the individual, global and galactic scales. Samantha couldn't believe she had walked in the presence of these giants.
At the top of her display was the set she watched closest, like each pulse of the heart monitor was linked to her own racing heart. Commander Shepard's bio-signals were strong and unusually steady even during combat. Before and after a fight, they spiked a bit, but during the actual engagement, they leveled out. She only realized this after her analytic mind subconsciously noted the difference between the Commander's signals and those of the people with her. "She truly was born for battle
" Samantha reflected with more than a little pride and awe.
Commander Sarah Shepard changed her life in so many ways. The auburn haired woman with flashing green eyes, a reputation for terribly accurate destruction against her enemies and an always soft heart for her friends brought Samantha out of her shell and stole her heart with a look, a kind word, a touch and a smile.
At first Samantha was completely confused by the apparent dichotemy in the woman's behavior. Part of her new found job was to take reports, data feed and video footage of each mission, compile and package them in the memory banks and send a copy to Alliance Command, which was currently where-ever Admiral Hackett was.
Some of the video from each team member's helmet cams terrified the young tech expert. Shepard insisted on the videos because of how many times her reports were doubted by the Council and Alliance Command. Samantha marveled at how Shepard moved her people around the battle field, overcoming obstacles, making split second decisions that would win the battle or get her team killed. She was just amazing. She was fearless, terrible and lethal in combat, but the Shepard Samantha knew on the Normandy was caring, giving and positively motherly with her people.
She loved her at first sight. Specialist Samantha Traynor had stood in the shadows on the CIC, too shy and actually quite frightened of the living legend who just stormed onto the bridge and ordered the Normandy away from Earth and into space. Strong, confident, self-assured, powerful and utterly lovely was all she could think as the Commander stalked though the CIC and returned below decks to prepare for the coming mission on Mars. Later, when she presented herself to the Commander for the first time, she found herself babbling as she gazed into those gorgeous bright green eyes. She only wanted to stay near her, brush that lock of red hair away from her eyes and feel those full lips brushing her own.
Above everything else; the legend of Shepard, her need to be near her, the feeling of safety when she was near, Samantha realized that she not only adored the commander, she also trusted her. Not something she often felt about anyone in her life. Shepard made the 'rock-bound-tech-nerd' feel welcome and valued. It meant so much to know she contributed to the crew and wasn't just filling in as temp yeoman.
Maybe because she was infatuated with Sarah, Samantha noticed right away when the tough as nails commander started showing signs of wear and tear. Her usually squared shoulders slumped slightly and though utterly protective and concerned about them, she was just a little slower to talk to and engage her crew. The Salarian scientist's death weighed heavily on Shepard. The actions of Cerberus even more, for she felt responsible for them. Then Thane Krios died and Thessia fell soon after. The crushing loss for Liara made it doubly so for Sarah.
Samantha saw the brave, confident smile Shepard wore on bridge now and knew it was different than before. She could almost feel the immense weight bearing down on the Commander's soul. Samantha ached for her wishing there was some way to take a bit of the load off her shoulders.
Teasing, flirting and being completely more forward than she ever thought she could be led to chess and, oh...oh what a wonderful night. It was a night she would never forget. At last she held Sarah in her arms, felt those hands explore her body and brushed that stubborn lock of hair out of her eyes. She would have told her how utterly in love she had fallen for Sarah that night. She burned to confess her love, but knew it was wildly too soon. For now, she reveled in just having Sarah to herself.
They made love often after that. Finding escape and solace from the horrors of the Reaper invasion in each other's arms and company. Samantha lived for their moments and hours alone, the passion, tenderness, sharing and mind-blowing bliss were her anchors to this amazing woman and reality.
The nightmares surprised Samantha, though. Sarah was a haunted woman. 'No wonder', Traynor thought. She knew everything about Sarah's service and back ground. Family wiped out in front of her by slavers on Mindoir, standing alone against Batarian hordes on Elysium and killing hundreds of them, having to decide to let her friend Kaiden Alenko die on Virmire, battling nightmare husks and Geth on Eden Prime, Therum, Noveria, Ilos and the Citadel.
Dying, God, she actually died! 'How does a person DEAL with that?!?' Samantha often found herself pondering. Death was an abstract, far-off or near thing to anyone else, but she had actually died. Spaced, fell to a planet's surface and was D-E-A-D dead. She knew it, and had to deal with it every day. It amazed Samantha that she could still function and still cared about anything as passionately as she cared for her crew and friends. Was there any wonder she had nightmares?
Then she was abandoned by the Alliance and some of her most trusted friends after Cerberus brought her back. 'How can she trust anyone again?' Samantha thought as she gazed at the sleeping woman beside her. Sam's heart went out to her again.
The Alpha Relay incident weighed particularly heavy on Shepard. Destroying that relay killed hundreds of thousands of Batarians. Civilians. The one time Samantha got Sarah to talk about it the older woman's eyes filled with tears and she couldn't finish the story. Even though Batarians had killed her family and were responsible for the nightmare on Elysium, she still wept for every one of those people.
Project Overlord still sent shivers up Samantha's spine. It was the stuff of old horror flics. The cruelty of man to his fellow man astounded her, and Sarah was who put a stop to it. Then there were the Collectors. Amazing. First to ever go through the Omega-4 Relay and come back. She did that and destroyed the Collectors and a larva Reaper.
For a reward the Alliance took her commission, ship and freedom. They grounded her when she brought the new Normandy to earth and turned it over to them and presented herself for trial. 'How could she not feel betrayed by the very people she had saved so many times?' Traynor wondered.
Besides having Sarah for her own, feeling her love and warmth, the thing she was most thankful for was being able to be there for Sarah. Shepard would start groaning in her sleep, tossing, turning and shivering. The mumbled names cam next; Mother, Dad, Steven, Kahoku, Alenko, Pressly, Thane, Mordin, Jenkins and so on... but Samantha was there for her. She gathered the tortured woman in her arms, rested Sarah's head on her breast, lightly ran her fingers through that soft scarlet hair and gently hummed old lullaby's until her lover calmed and they both fell asleep. Samantha worried so about Sarah's nightmares, but knew all she could do was be there for her.
People had died, left or abandoned Sarah one way or another all her life. She was somehow always alone. No matter what, Samantha would always be there for her. Always.
High above Earth she watched with her heart in her throat as they maneuvered through the city with the tanks and then listened desperately as they calibrated the Javelin Missiles with EDI and killed another Reaper. Samantha so wanted to send just a small missive to her love. To let her know she was with her as best she could and that no matter what, she was loved. But she wouldn't take the chance of side-tracking the woman. She didn't need the distraction with what was going on already.
Then the mad dash to the Citadel Beam began. "Who the hell thought up that bloody bit of madness?' Traynor thought acidly. She kept her eyes glued to the display even when Joker slammed the Normandy hard to port and took a glancing blow from a Reaper ship.
The little blips that represented the most important person in the universe to Samantha and her companions were almost to the beam when she saw the bio-signatures of Sarah, Javik and James spike off the charts and wink out. "Sarah!" She screamed as she upped the gain on her unit and commanded satellites V314-G and K009-Z to boost their signal output.
Faint signals finally came through. Javik and James were alive and not too badly injured, but were somehow thrown far away from where they had been. Sarah, though was up and moving slowly towards the beam. Her vitals from the bio-signal were so weak and they spiked once sharply as her system reacted to something traumatic. Samantha cried helplessly as the small dot on her screen closed on the beam and disappeared.
Samantha worked feverishly to re-establish contact. She re-routed signals through other satellites and even through a Quarian juggernaut called the Tonbay under the command of Admiral Raan. Nothing was working until Joker slid the Normandy around the Earth's horizon and they spotted the Citadel.
The Crucible was in position and the five huge arms of the Citadel were splayed out 90 degrees from their normal position like wheel spokes without a tire. Almost immediately, Sarah's signal came back when they got in line of sight. Samantha shouted excitedly when the upper readout came back to life, but the shout died in her throat when she realized how bad the readings were. What was left of her suit showed massive internal damage and bleeding, third degree burns over 38% of her body, several broken bones and a penetration wound in her abdomen.
Samantha cried openly on the CIC, holding tightly to her console and trying to maintain her grasp on reality. "This can't be happening!" She cried. Other crewmen looked at her in alarm, but had work of their own to do. She didn't care about them anyway. Her love was in so much pain. She couldn't hold back any longer, she opened a channel to Sarah.
"Sarah?" Only static came back to her. "Sarah, it's me. Sam! Do you read?" She pleaded. Still nothing. "SARAH, God please answer me!" Finally she heard something. Heavy breathing, gasps of pain and intermittent humming? Sarah was humming one of the old lullaby's Sam had hummed to her so many times. "Sarah!" She tried again. Still no reply. It finally dawned on her that she could hear Sarah, but the Commander could not hear Sam's transmissions.
"Joker!" Traynor yelled over the intercom.
"Little busy dodging death-beams here, Traynor!" Came the strained reply. "What's up?"
"I have the Commander's signal on the Citadel
" She began.
"Holy crap, I knew she'd make it! I bet she's tearing the butt-hole out of every
" He shouted jubilantly.
"Shut up!" Samantha snapped. "She's badly injured, life signs are failing. We need to get to her now!"
"Right! On the way to the death-star!" He said back as her threw the Normandy into a spiraling starboard twist that allowed them to shoot between two Reapers. Both Reapers tracked the small ship and fired at it but only hit each other as the Normandy powered through the small gap toward the Citadel.
Samantha tried everything to raise the power of Sarah's signal. Finally she heard her sweet voice. It was music to her ears, but the words turned her blood cold. Samantha pressed her palms to her ears and closed her eyes to block out everything but her love's voice.
on." Sarah whispered softly. Her breathing was labored, tortured. "Sam, if you get this I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. You have been
everything to me. You, uh, your quiet support kept me
ungh" (a pain-filled groan) kept me together
this. I couldn't have done it without you. Ahngh!" Sam wept as she listened to her love struggle. "I'm so
sorry. I can't be there, ungh, to give you that house, with the kids and, UNGH, uh-dogs. I've wanted nothing else since you said it." Samantha could hear the sorrow in Sarah's voice and it tore at her soul. "I have to do this
for you. I know what, ungh, what to do. What I have to do. You will live. That's all that matters to me, love. If there's another way, I, ungh, don't see it. Tell the crew, my family, I love them all. Best in, ungh, fleet. Hands down. The galaxy owes all my people a, ungheengh, uh...a debt it could never repay. So do I. Good-bye, Samantha. You
you brought me back
to life. You are what I'll miss from this, ungh, world. I'm so sorry...always know I love you. Recorder
Samantha could still hear Sarah over her own sobbing. She heard Sarah's unsteady steps and finally a pistol shot. Another and another and another. Samantha cried out Sarah's name as the explosion engulfed her and the transmission was finally, mercifully, cruelly cut off.
"Holy shit! Look at the Citadel!" Joker yelled.
Traynor unwillingly checked her heads up display just as the bright orange ball of energy gathered around the presidium tower and burst out in all directions like a wrathful wave of death seeking out anything and everything. Samantha looked to her displays just as Shepard's skyrocketing vitals went silent.
"No, no, no, no, noooooo!!!!" Traynor cried over and over again as her fingers flew across the interface desperately trying to re-establish contact with Sarah's armor bio-signal. Tears she did not feel flowed freely from her eyes and trailed down her flushed cheeks and dripped off her chin onto the display. "No, no, no! Pleeeeease! No!"
The Kodiak slowly skimmed by another huge chunk of Citadel wreckage. Cortez carefully adjusted the shuttle's trajectory to match the erratic spin of this 323rd piece of wreckage they scanned. Even he was starting to give up hope. So many others had already as large chunks of the huge space station started to rain down and burn up in earth's atmosphere.
Specialist Traynor sat in the back of the Kodiak for the fourth straight day. Her jury-rigged display showing only a blank screen as the sensors it monitored search for only one signal. She was so tired, heart-broken and desperate. She finally smashed her fist down in frustration when nothing came up and they move onto debris chunk number 324. She thought she'd be cried out, but tears again well up as she started to think Sarah may be gone forever.
They were already re-building on Earth. The war-torn planet still looked like it was on fire from above, but the people had banded together and started recovering from the devastation. The whole fleet was pitching in since they were stranded here for now anyway.
Estimates were that in less than two years they would have a working Mass Relay on the outer edge of the system. Plans for prototype relays were located on the Mars Prothean site years ago, but no-one saw a reason to build one before now. But they knew it would work since the Protheans built the Conduit Saren and Shepard used to get to the Citadel years ago. Plans had already been sent out to the other races via QEC and FTL drones. There was hope.
The galaxy was moving on, and it sickened Samantha to think of it. Moving on without Sarah, the one person who made it all possible. True, there was a small fleet of Kodiaks covering the Citadel debris field, but she stubbornly held on to the idea Sarah was being abandoned again. She couldn't leave her out here all alone.
Four days ago, eyes flashing and a snarl on her lips, she aimed a pistol at Cortez and Vega. "Get in the god-damned shuttle and take me to her now!" She yelled.
" Cortez started.
"Shut up! I will not abandon her!" She screamed as she stared the men down. "Don't you see? She's all alone out there! Cold and alone! She's always been alone
please?" She sank to her knees miserably and looked up at them pleading for help. "I can't just leave her out there! Pleeease? She's all alone! Please!" She begged.
"We're not saying that, Chiquita." He stepped forward and slowly took the pistol from her quivering hand as she bowed her shoulders and buried her face in her hands sobbing. "We'll find her. No way we leave the Commander out there, but we need a plan and a way."
Hours later at debris chunk number 352, a quiver in the readings. A quaver in Samantha's heart. A faint, but undeniable signal from N7 Armor unit Shep-5567a4.
Samantha held her breath as she adjusted her equipment and narrowed the beam sweep. Hoping desperately praying to see
breathing and faint heartbeat. For the first time in days, Sam's lips ticked up into a faint smile.
Four months later Commander Sarah Shepard opened her eyes. She didn't move, just blinked to clear her sight and looked around the room. It was quiet except for the monitoring machines attached to her. Peaceful. Flowers old and new were set throughout the private hospital room. hundreds of thousands of pictures of people she never met and some from her crew adorned every inch of the walls and a huge banner that said "THANK YOU! GET WELL SOON! LOVE, EVERYBODY!" was strung across the ceiling.
A quiet snore caught her attention and Sarah painfully turned her head until she could see the most beautiful woman in the galaxy sleeping peacefully next to her in a reclining chair. The area around her was strewn with books, data pads and of course, a chess set. It was obvious Sam had lived here with her for some time. A small smile graced her soft lips as she just watched Samantha sleep, and an incredible sense of love and belonging welled up in her heart. She never knew what being loved like this was like and didn't know why it was so suddenly important to her to have this woman waiting for her, watching over her. But the emotions were overpowering and lifechanging for the hardened Marine. She had to choke back her tears. Someone really loved her for who she was and would be there for her. She's not alone anymore.
Samantha stirred and looked to the same place she always looked first when she woke. To Sarah. This time a grinning Sarah was already gazing at her. Samantha jerked upright, nearly fell over her own feet and went to her side, with tears of joy filling her eyes.
After giving her love a drink of cool water, she tearfully and lightly brushed her lips across Sarah's. "I thought I'd lost you." She whispered.
Shepard grinned back weakly. "I'm too dumb to die I guess. Besides, what would you do without me?"
Sam smiled and gently caressed Sarah's cheek. "Don't know. I can't find anyone I enjoy humiliating playing chess as much as you."
"My people?" Sarah asked anxiously.
Samantha knew Sarah would ask about them right off. "They all got their fair share of lumps during the battle, but all are alive and anxious for you to wake up."
Shepard relaxed a bit, visibly relieved. "What's with the pictures?" Shepard asked with a nod toward the wall.
Samantha glanced over at the walls and smiled wider. "Some of the people you saved. They all promise to be there for you. Just like me."
"I can't tell you how glad I am you're here, Sam." Shepard said in a whisper.
"I'll never leave you, Sarah." She promised as she brushed a lock of unruly hair out of Sarah's eyes and kissed her deeply. "Never."