Terrified screams, one particular voice rough, hard, yet panicked, a curious combination. "We'll never make it," he yells. "We will! Keep moving," shouts a cracked, defiant female voice over the cacophony of footsteps and terror. Doctor Chakwas, hair silver, slick from the Collector tubes, eyes determined despite the horrors she had already seen. Collector wings beat like drums of war overhead. I feel the weight of my rifle as I turn to take aim, insignificant to the weight of the lives in my care.
The door to life support opened. Thane snapped out of his involuntary memories, but did not turn around. He simply recognized Commander Shepard's reflection in the window in front of him and remained silent. The commander always initiated conversation. Thane was content to simply follow his lead.
Shepard took his usual seat across from the drell before speaking. "We just dropped Samara and Zaeed off on Omega. Samara wanted me to tell you it was an honor to work with you. Zaeed just said, 'hell of a trip,' but you can consider that praise if you like." Shepard had done his best impersonation of Zaeed's accent. "We're headed to the Citadel next."
"My thanks," Thane replied. "I look forward to seeing my son again, though I don't know if I should tell him the details of our most recent mission. Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to personally shuttle me to my destination."
Shepard let out a humored snort. "It's the least I can do for all you've done. Hell, it's the least this entire crew can do, considering you escorted them back to the Normandy yourself. Besides, this is my ship now. Well, it will be once we get a new paint job to remove all the Cerberus logos."
Thane smiled slightly and gave a single nod, signaling that he had said his part. Shepard rose to his feet and clasped Thane on the shoulder as he walked past. "Keep in touch," he said.
"Of course," came the reply.
Shepard left life support to see Kasumi leaning against the opposing wall. Her hood was off, revealing tussled hair as black as the rest of her outfit and her lower lip remained unpainted. Perhaps she hadn't been awake long. Her right cheek bore a simple bandaid, her only testament to the suicide mission four days prior. "Not coming to see me, Shep?"
She, like Thane, was one of the lucky ones. While miraculously no one was killed, coming out of that Collector ship with only a scratch left her somewhat cocky; even if that scratch came from a bullet skimming her face. "You know, I feel sort of guilty dropping off an assassin and a thief at the Citadel," Shepard answered, "but as much help as they were they can take what they get. Besides, you were next on my list, you know that,"
Kasumi pushed herself off the wall and fell in to step with Shepard as they walked back to her normal hangout in port side observation. "Of course I was, Shep, only because I caught you before you snuck back down to engineering." She grinned, wrinkling her bandaid.
Once inside the observation room, Kasumi stepped in to the center of it and sat on the floor with her legs crossed, much like how Samara always would. She looked out in to the stars and sighed. "I've taken a lot of risks and done a lot of stupid things, Shep, but this took the cake. Before this I was just sort of living for the moment, doing whatever struck my fancy for the excitement of it all. For the first time in my life, I can't figure out what to do next. I don't know how I can top defeating the Collectors and saving the entire galaxy." She looked over her shoulder at the commander and grinned again before continuing. "I thought about stealing the ship while you were on Omega, but I figured that was too unoriginal. You've already done that."
Shepard let out a chuckle. "Nonsense, this was my operation and therefore my ship! Giving the Illusive Man the biggest middle finger I could muster was just for fun." He walked closer to Kasumi, letting his smile fade, and crouched down next to her. "You know, the Reapers are coming and in force. Schooling them like we did the Collectors would be a great follow up project."
Kasumi didn't look at Shepard, but dropped her chin in to her left hand in consideration. "Maybe," she spoke through her fingers. "Seeing all that we've seen puts things in a perspective I've never imagined and I certainly can't stay holed up in Keiji's memories forever." She turned her head to look the commander in the eyes. "Maybe when the time comes I'll find you again." A smirk found its way back on to her face. "But I've taken too much of your time, Shep. There's a sick quarian with a wrenched arm that needs your sweet and tender attention." Shepard raised his eyebrows. "Oh come on," Kasumi continued, "it's not like you're doing a very good job of hiding it."
Shepard stood back up and turned to leave, only speaking again to add, "She really was next on my list."