She was 15; scrappy, scrawny, and with a spirit that could swallow the city. Shepard had fought her way through life, taking whatever she could, however she could. That’s how she ended up with the Reds—not because she wanted to, but because she had to. Everyone has to eat somehow, and they were her meal ticket. They gave her jobs and she did them. Pickpocketing, shoplifting, assault, murder, anything that would get her a place to rest and food to eat. It didn’t matter how many times her nose was broken, how many bruises she got, how many black eyes she sported, because she was surviving. Shepard is a survivor.
She had counted down the days until she turned 18, immediately signing up with the Alliance and leaving the Reds in the dust. Good riddance. But she was grateful for the skills that life had given her because she passed the physical tests with ease. It was the discipline she had trouble with; all the orders and rules. Things had been different with the Reds, sure there was someone in charge, but that could change if someone was brave enough—or stupid enough—to challenge the leader. A lot of her reports said the same thing “unruly” “unwilling to cooperate” “disobeys orders.” But for all of that, Shepard kept going because she had to make it. Shepard is a survivor.
She was on her first real mission at 22, the weight of the gun familiar in her hands, the armor foreign on her back, and her nerves so wired she was sure her team members could hear her heartbeat. Th-thud. Th-thud. It was a quiet mission until the end, and then all hell broke loose. There was firing from every direction and in an adrenaline haze, she couldn’t tell who was friend and who was foe. So she shot, and she heard a yell. She saw her victim fall, saw the life leave his body. But she didn’t have time to mourn or feel regret. She had to move on. Shepard is a a survivor.
She was 29 and a commander now; a leader with her own ship and her own crew. It felt like ages since she had been a part of the Reds, but the scars on her skin reminded her when she forgot. It was difficult to be a leader, she had learned that the hard way. There were always difficult calls to be made, and she was the one to make them. Ruthless calculus; that was what she had to live by, it was all she knew. For every person that fell another one survived. That’s what Shepard kept telling herself. Shepard is a survivor.
They tell you not to think about the people you’ve killed, and Shepard learned long ago to follow that. She put every death in the back of her mind. But she remembers them. Not all of them, but there are those who have clung to her over the years that she just can’t seem to shake. They were all young or hesitant, and Shepard lies awake some nights thinking of their friends, their families. She wonders how many curse her, the revered “Commander Shepard, Hero of the Galaxy.” How many parents, children, brothers, sisters, lovers, and friends has she taken away? How many of them were just like she was when she was with the Reds—just doing what it took to survive? She thinks of how easily it could have been her in their shoes. Shepard hates being a survivor.