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Only Human

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      Juliette Shepard sat in her New York apartment, hair still damp from her shower, jean shorts and a comfy cut-off sweater as her son Jeremy ate a bowl of Blast-O's at the kitchen island. 

 

       Juliette was no one of consequence. Her husband, mom and Sister were the ones who were always on active duty. Hell, six months ago, she thought Jane was dead. Now, her twin sister, the perfect Commander Shepard, was in a Detention Center in Toronto's Alliance headquarters "for her own safety" after inadvertently killing 350,000 batarians on Aratoht.

 

       "Mommy! Can we go to the park?" Jeremy asked, setting his bowl in the sink, still in his pajamas.

 

       "Sure, but I gotta call Grandma first. Go get dressed." She smiled as he raced down the clean hardwood hallway to his bedroom. 

 

       She flicked her wrist and her omni tool lit up just as her building shook. "Juliette! How are you? Is something wrong?" Her mother's voice was calming as Juliette held onto the couch.

 

       "Yeah, just a weird earthquake. When is your next Shore Leave?" It was right then a shadow fell over Central Park. "Oh my God. Jeremy! We need to go!"

 

        "Juliette? What's g-g-going on-n?" Her mother's tone was worried, but Juliette had always believed her twin sister about the Reapers. And now, there was one over Central Park.

 

       "Mom! Reapers! I gotta get Jeremy off this rock. I love you! Tell Jane…" and her vidcall cut out just as a beam split her apartment in half. Juliette braced herself against the doorway as the halves swayed and Jeremy ran out of his room, still in his pajamas, clothes in his hands.

 

       "Mommy!" He screamed, dropping his jeans and t-shirt on the floor. 

 

       "Jeremy, come towards me really slowly. That's it baby. You're gonna have to jump. I'll catch you." Juliette was shaking, her eyes unable to contain the tears in her eyes while she saw the fear in her five year old's eyes. 

 

       "Mommy, I won't make it." He was crying now, holding onto the wall where it was severed. 

 

        "Jemmy, baby, you have to jump before your side falls. Now!" And he did, landing right in his mother's arms as the both crashed into the back of the couch. "Good boy, you're okay. Come on. We need to get to the docks and go to the Citadel." She explained like he was an adult. Juliette was on extended Shore Leave while their ship was undergoing retrofits, she and her sister were Alliance born and bred just like her and Jane's parents. Juliette grabbed her pistol and the blue Alliance jacket off the hooks by the door and carefully opened it. She slid her Phalanx into the back of her shorts before wrapping the jacket around her son and pulling the hood over his head. She picked him up, adjusted him on her left hip, her right hand pulling the pistol out and readying for husks or abominations. 

 

       Their building fell against the one next to it when they were on the twelfth floor stairwell. Several others had gathered their children and parents and were following her down as the building shifted. "Is everyone okay?" She called behind her, she got calls of assent and was pacified as they continued down, at an angle, but down. 

 

       She shot so many husks and things that she couldn't explain before she got to the MSV Nairobi. "Commander Moreau!" Daniel Englund saluted as Juliette stepped through the airlock, covered in ash and with her crying son on her hip. 

 

       "Get us off this planet! Here, Veseen, take him to my cabin. Where is Captain Gerard?" Englund's face fell as their Asari crewmate, Erenya Veseen, took Jeremy by the hand. He hadn't made it, Captain Reginald Gerard. She was Captain now.

 

       "Commander, your sister made it out of Toronto. Normandy just confirmed." Her pilot, a young woman named Serena Fellini, said as Juliette slid into the co-pilot seat. 

 

       "Send Joker a message. I will meet them on the Citadel. Let's get our bird in the air, Fellini." Juliette ordered. Her husband and sister were safe, their mother was on mission in the Traverse. 

 

       "Message sent, Commander." Fellini said before they took off. 

 

       Guess this meant she was back on active duty.

 

***Two Days Later, Citadel***

 

      "Daddy!" Jeremy squealed as Joker limped from the docking bay on his crutches, smiling like a fool. Jeremy oh so carefully ran into Joker's arms, and Juliette had to hold back tears as she walked into them as well. 

 

       "Hey, it's okay. We're okay." Joker whispered to her and kissed her forehead. They were interrupted by someone clearing their throat, Jane stood behind her and Jeremy refused to leave Jeff's side. Juliette, however, hugged her sister hard. 

 

       "They hit New York out of nowhere. Apparently every major city is in the same boat. Have you spoken to the council yet?" Juliette asked. She wasn't a Spectre yet, but she was on the ground when the Reapers attacked.

 

       "Headed there next. Kaidan was hurt, I went to check on him before Joker sent me the message that you'd safely arrived. Come on, Joker, you got Jemmy." Jane said, she and Juliette were indiscernible when they stood side by side in their fatigues. The differences were Juliette's longer, tightly braided hair, and the engagement and wedding rings that hung off her dog tags. She also had a tattoo of a rose on her chest, where her sister didn't believe in tattoos.

 

       Jane kept her hair chin-length, and she walked with a bit of a limp, having fractured her knee during their suicide mission. 

 

       They both stepped into the Council Chamber, side by side, as the council bickered. "By your reports, Udina." 

 

       "The reports are accurate, Earth was attacked by the Reapers." Juliette said, folding her hands behind her back just as her sister did the same. 

 

       "You didn't believe my sister when she told you and told you about the Reaper threat, now you stand on your podium and argue while billions are dying." Juliette accused.

 

       "Commander Moreau, we know now that we were mistaken." The Turian councilor nodded and Juliette left the chamber just as Liara walked in.