The night began to cool the surrounding world as Nadja began to dose off and scrape along the lines of slumber. A quick turn and breath out sealed the deal as she collapsed under the weight of her own exhaustion, both physical and mental. Time passed quickly with only a few tosses and turns of her body as her body entered REM sleep, but instead of sleeping like usual something strange broke the peace of the night. Nadja's eyes opened slowly showering the room a deep red shade as her eyes crackled with red light. She stood up silently and turned her head to the window before softly setting her feet on the floor and walking more silent than any other being could even hope to accomplish. Her eyes snapped to a section of space where she stared without blinking for minutes.
Her eyes slowly fell closed again and her body turned back to her bed, making the same silent stroll as what had allowed her to get to the window and tucked herself perfectly back into bed where her dreams took off of her riding around in a space shuttle filled with her favorite quarian junk food.
Tali and Shepard walked through the front door of the house. Tali stumbled slightly and giggled louder than she should have at such a late time of the night while Shepard managed to snag her wrist and softly raise a finger to his lips even though the darkness obscured his message. Tali let a small squeal slip from her lips as she figured out what John was telling her.
"Why did you let me drink so much Johnny?" Tali asked in a half whisper.
"You were the one who lost count of how many you had." Shepard spoke with a more sober tone.
"I blame the krogan…" The quarian sputtered.
"You didn't need to do that to him." Shepard consoled as he helped Tali toward the bedroom.
"Tali…" John groaned.
"What? They will grow back." She smiled pleasantly.
"You know you are lucky right?" Shepard informed her, trying to get her moving better toward the bedroom.
"I knew I was lucky when I fell into your arms and we married each other…" Tali fell against Shepard's arms and cuddled warmly against his chest. "Each other…"
Slowly, John felt the weight of his wife increase on his shoulder. He quickly bent down and picked her up just as she fell asleep, softly snoring and leaking warm droll down his chest. He silently snuck past Nadja's dark room, listening to her breath deeply in her deep slumber. His head rolled back softly in gratitude that Tali's drunken noises hadn't disturbed her. The human continued down the hallway and broke through the darkness of his and Tali's room, softly placing her in her bed. A small grin crossed her face as she curled up and accepted the covers that Shepard pulled onto her shoulders. She murmured something before finally falling completely asleep but amid her quarian accent and the drunken emphasized accent that appeared to transcend all dialects her message was lost.
Nadja rested in her room as her dreams began to take shape and form from the shadows of her mind. Instead the happy dream that she had been experiencing a different dream began to eat at it, slowly consuming it to an image of stark reality bathed in a pool of shadows and revenge.
A sudden weight fell on Nadja's shoulders as she felt the ground beneath her feet. Reality bit at her face as she felt a biting cold wind nip at her nose. The watering and irritation of her eyes told her that she was near the water along with the smell. A figure stood in front of her, standing at the precipice of the cliff side, being bathed in the mist of the crashing waves, reaching out to take her life. A sudden realization struck Nadja as she began to be told the identity of the person in front of her.
"Nesya?" Nadja asked, though her words came out weak and staggered.
Feeling slightly confused as to why her voice would be in such a shape, but when she took another breath in, she felt a sharp pain fill her lungs and the weight of injury pressed on her shoulders and she fell onto a knee, holding her heart, feeling a warmth run through her fingers. A strange sensation took her body, constricting and cold. She questioned if this was how death felt like and wondered why she was feeling this, feeling it now in this moment with Nesya standing just a few feet from her.
Nesya turned around and looked at her with all of her innocence and youth, yet no smile graced her face. Instead a look of disgust and a deep-set hatred burned in her eyes. She raised an object she was holding in her hand, bringing it to eye level and aiming it right at Nadja. A wave of panic filled Nadja as her eyes widened and her heart jumped painfully.
"Nesya… No…" Nadja reached out with her hand that had been holding her broken heart.
She saw the slight shimmer of blood on it just as a crack filled the air. Nadja stared blankly out at Nesya, the pain left her body as her thoughts began to cease and diminish, a tunnel of blackness enveloping her vision, still focused on Nesya. Nadja's last realization was of the hole through her head and strangely the peace that it brought to her. Her eyes closed slightly, but Nadja kept them open just enough to keep Nesya in her vision before the weight pulled her to the ground. Her head dully hit the ground and silently relaxed. A single tear fell from Nadja's eye.
Nadja quickly jumped up in her bed and quickly felt her face and head. She breathed hard and panicked at the thoughts and memories of the dream. She only remembered a few portions of it, but the gunshot and Nesya were vivid. Her thoughts couldn't keep up with everything that she wanted to consider and if it meant anything. In an attempt to find something pleasant to grab onto, she tried to remember her dream before the strange change, but she couldn't remember anything except the color purple.
The young quarian was forced to curl up into a ball and just stare at the wall, feeling the cold sweat cover her body, sending a shiver up her spine. The reality of the dream was hard to forget. Nadja found herself feeling a burning in the center of her forehead and simply couldn't shake the feeling that it had all truly happened. Quickly she could feel the tears well up and silently run down her face. She felt like she was losing herself and her mind quickly began to panic and reach out to grab something for comfort, but the nagging dream haunted her. Her eyes darted around the room, hoping to find something, but she found nothing. A dark shape filled her doorway, staring at her.
"Nadja? What's up?" Came the concerned voice of her father.
She found herself too wrapped up in her stark reality to answer. Instead two freshly formed tears ran down her face. Shepard walked quickly into the room.
"Nadja? What's wrong?" Shepard asked.
"It said it had let me go… I'm lost. Who am I?" Nadja's eyes continued to dart around the room, nervously shaking, but never looking at her father.
A dull feeling filled John as he stared at his daughter, wondering what his options were and how he was going to act in it. The thoughts only lasted a second before he reached into her bed, picking her up and carrying her out of the bed and out of the house. He had to try a doctor, therapist, or just someone who might know more about this situation, though he doubted it.
"That is where I will die…" Nadja just stared up into the sky, tears still streaming down her face.
The doors to the hospital seemed to open too slow as he ran into, his heart pumping the urgency into his system, telling him to hurry and find help immediately.
"Someone help me!" Shepard yelled in the waiting room.
A nurse ran into the room and looked at Nadja, seeing the sweat and the tears, the vacant stare, and the slight murmuring coming from her lips. She quickly pivoted back toward the door, yelling to the doctor.
"Possible amnesia case!"
A doctor and a cart were brought into the waiting room as the nurses took Nadja and put her on the cart. She didn't fight nor did she move much, just staring at the ceiling, tears simply dripping from her eyes.
"Not much time… inevitable… Who?" Nadja questioned ambiguously and continually asked herself as they wheeled her into the back.
Shepard stared at a loss. He felt a relief that what was in her had finally and completely left, as much to his knowledge, but what it had given him he hated. He wondered if this was the price for his daughter's freedom, a forever fractured brain. He quickly jogged over to the phone and called back to the house, hoping to reach Tali and inform her of the news. Instead of getting an answer from the phone, he heard her voice in the room with him.
"John?" Her voice shook with fear and concern. "What is wrong with her now? What did that thing do to her?" Her voice gained a hint of rage. "What did that bosh'tet do to my daughter?" She questioned.
"It left… It left her and left her mind in… I don't know… a confused state." John tried to reason.
"A confused state? What if she never comes back? What if she is never our daughter again because of… of… that thing! Why didn't we try to get rid of him sooner, before all of… this!" Tali's eyes began to turn crumple as she tried to fight back tears. She slammed her fist on a nearby trashcan. "Bosh'tet! That is our daughter Shepard…" Her tone quickly fell to a defeated state. "I just want her back… How much does she know?" A small bit ounce of hope rang through her voice.
Shepard dishearteningly looked down at the floor. "She doesn't even know her name and is stuttering a bunch of strange things…" He answered, knowing the effect of the words.
"No. No. No. No." Each consecutive 'no' became more and more disheartened as she lowered herself down to the ground and sat. "What did she say?"
The words that Shepard knew as the answer were even hard to think about. "That is where I die…" John quoted.
The words hurt Tali more than anything. The valve to her tear ducts simply opened as it just ran from her face. "I want to see her…" She nodded at her decision.
The couple slowly regained some of their composure and walked through the back doors of the emergency room, heading to the room that the nurse had pointed them to. Nadja lay on the bed staring at the ceiling, still looking innocent and perfectly healthy until she opened her mouth. Shepard saw that she was now actually looking at people again instead of a dazed vacant stare into the ceiling. Nurses and doctors were around her, obvious not knowing how to approach it.
"Mr. and Mrs. Shepard. Good to see you. Umm… so your daughter is suffering from what appears to be an acute case of amnesia causing her to lose all sense of who she is. We are still running tests to see what may have been the cause for it and we have her scheduled to have a brain scan to make sure that there wasn't an complications given her unique nature." The doctor explained.
"Unique nature?" Tali questioned.
"Yes. Given her physiology, and her genetic make-up." The doctor looked at Shepard and widened his eyes, getting a better example of what he was trying to get at. "She is much like the Earth Mule. She is a hybrid between human and quarian. This could lead to many complications that are unforeseeable given that this has, as far to our knowledge so far has only happened in you two. No other case of a human and quarian relationship has produced any living offspring, all are either miscarried or die shortly after birth and none have been pretty, scaring many away from trying anymore these days." He went on to explain. "Your daughter lived and has, up to this point lived an exceptionally healthy life and is showing great promise mentally and physically. Even in this early age, we can be sure that she has the ability to have children if she so pleased." He added. "These bouts of amnesia could be her only problem with being set in such a balanced and, I am sorry if this offends, impossible state of which she lives. Given her seven years of age, none of my associates can say how her varying chirality is working or balanced in any reasonable biological means. She is impossible, yet we still have her here, only suffering from amnesia. I am sorry to say that we have no indication as to how to proceed except to wait."
The words hurt them and at the same time, it was the words that they had already heard countless times in the seven years that Nadja had existed. They knew the true reasons as to why Nadja was suffering from what she was now, but they knew that they couldn't tell the doctors as to the cause. The decided it best to wait and to hope that somehow she would improve over the course of however long it took.
"Who am I?" Nadja asked again, vacant of even the tone of wonder; it simply came out as a vacant question.
The question slightly broke Tali's composure as she was forced to bite her lip to not cry. What was going on? She had begun to wonder. She walked to Nadja's side; glad to at least see Nadja had followed her entire trip over though it only hurt her more. The close proximity of her last hospital visit was too much. She had hoped the peace after the first would have lasted longer, but she had found that such a gift was not in the Shadow Broker's forte.
"Who am I?" The repeated question filled the room again.
"Please remember…" Tali almost whispered to Nadja.
"Who am I?" The young quarian asked again.
"Nadja. Please just remember…" Tali cried.
Nadja grew silent as her eyes shut and her head fell to the side. Tali looked up at the doctors and the worry in the room permeated the atmosphere as many of the doctors scanned her.
"All her vitals are normal." One doctor stated.
"Brain scan shows heightened activity… She is dreaming." The second doctor stated.
Nadja opened her eyes and looked around the room at all of the strange people hovering over her, scanning her. She jumped and swatted at them to get away from her feeling a slight panic from her loss of location. In the corner of her vision, Nadja managed to catch the image of her mother.
"Mom? Who are these people?" She questioned, climbing slightly up the bed to escape the scans.
In almost a squeal of joy, Tali picked Nadja out of the bed and hoisted her into the air. Tears of joy ran down her face at the change. The doctors all stood staring at the results and the notes. Nothing made sense to them, none of it showed any pattern, no results, yet all of the symptoms were true. Nadja's initial basic brain scans showed lapses in the thought patterns, matching that of amnesia and the mere mention of her actual name from her mother had indeed caused Nadja's brain to shut down and for her to fall into a sleep. The lead doctor looked over the history of the symptoms and saw that all had truly happened and that none of this was some sort of set up.
Tali and John came back together, happiness burned through their eyes, as they laughed with their daughter, simply enjoying this positive moment, no matter how strange and sudden it was.
"We would like to hold your daughter… in case of relapse." The doctor was at a loss of words from the bizarre development in the case.
The reality that such a thing as a relapse could exist, broke the mood and set them back into a more somber mood. None of this felt real.
Nadja jumped up in her bed, her eyes wide with fear. She quickly looked around the room and saw that she was back in her room. A nagging feeling began to pull at Nadja's mind as she retraced the last few memories in her head. She wondered how long she had been in the hospital and why she could remember so much about, including the sections where she had been supposedly suffering from amnesia. A dark figure filled her doorway.
"Morning Nadja." Shepard smiled. "Hope you have a great day at school, and make sure that you talk softly, your mother is still suffering from a hangover from last night."
Nadja stared, confused at what she was hearing. "How many days of school have I missed?" Nadja asked.
"If there was a school day during the night than you would have missed a day…" Shepard joked. "Did you really sleep that hard?" He chuckled as he walked down the hall. "I'll have breakfast ready for you."
Nadja rubbed her head and quickly began to realize that everything had been a dream. Nothing made much sense and the reality of the entire dream scared her, but not to the point of paralyzing amnesia. The young quarian slowly rose from her bed and looked around her room. The orange glow of her Omni-tool opened revealing that it was indeed only the next day and that all of the events that she had assumed had occurred had only happened in her head, though a few aspects of the dream lingered in her head.
"This is where I die…" She thought about it. "No… 'That' is where I die." She couldn't piece it together. "Who am I…?" It also felt like a stupid question of which she easily answered. "Strange…"
It took her much longer to get her school robes on than normal as her thoughts continued to question the importance of the dream. To her, all of the events had truly happened, but in reality they didn't. It began to bug and annoy her that she angrily just voided the thoughts and quickly walked to the kitchen knowing that she still had to give that present to him. Shepard sat at the dinner table sipping his regular mug of steaming cooked coffee bean.
"Dad?" Nadja spoke to gain his attention. "It is gone from my mind."
John stared at her, questioningly. "You mean… 'It'?" He asked in almost disbelief if that was truly what she meant.
Nadja only nodded, and grabbed her normal breakfast food. The smile that began to spread across her father's face was easily contagious. As much as she tried to hide it, she found herself grinning more and more.
"How do you know this? Is this true? Is it really gone?" her father had put the mug down on the table and was primed to jump.
"She told me and yes it is true." Nadja spoke, feeling the sadness of her friend vanishing, but that was easily overshadowed by the happiness of seeing her father in such a joyous state.
"Wait till your mother hears about this. Just wait till she hears. Her hangover will be gone faster than you can blink." Shepard chuckled.
Nadja smiled and let the joyousness of the situation cloud over the confusion still left inside of her head. She would deal with it another time.