You're dying.

The words seemed so cold and unfeeling as the doctor had delivered the news to him. It was only fitting, was it not? He gave a short, harsh chuckle as he dwelled on the irony of the situation. He had spent the last twenty-seven years taking lives quickly and efficiently, and now he was destined to spend the next 12 to 18 months dying slowly and painfully, struggling to breathe until that last final breath would evade him.

He thought of Irikah, sunset eyes and indignation. How she had awoken him from his battle sleep. It was the first ā€“ and only ā€“ time he had ever failed one of his assignments. He had been confused at first as to this new feeling that had pervaded his soul. Before her, he could not ever recall a time where he had felt anything except the need to fulfill his body's purpose, what it had been trained since the age of six to do.

He thought of Kolyat, and the intense joy he had felt when he was born. He thought he could never love another as much as he had Irikah, but he was wrong. They were both the force in his life that kept him together, kept him from feeling cold and empty again. And then, in an instant, it had been all shattered.

He remembered coming home, back from an assignment to deal with a batarian owner of a slave ring, and seeing the awful sight that would burn into his memory even more than others, and haunt him for many sleepless nights to come.

A rare, sunny afternoon. He steps into the house, grateful to know he will soon be in the arms of his wife, soon hear the cries of laughter from his son. The house is dark. Just enough sunlight to see a small, dark form is hunching over something. It is Kolyat, sobbing. Realization hits quickly. A body. Whose? Gods. Irikah. He drags Kolyat away, the eight-year-old boy throwing small punches into his leg. Screaming, wailing. Accusations. "You should have been there! Where were you? You're never here when we need you! This is your fault!" He is thinking the same thing, his guilt overwhelming him. He silently vows to seek out and kill every last person who had a hand in this, when he hears a small voice harshly whisper: "I hate you."

"Excuse me, Mr. Krios?"

Thane opened his eyes, recovering from the silent solipsism he had inadvertently slipped into.

"Iā€¦ apologize." Thane eyed the doctor, a drell smaller in stature and height than himself.

"It's okay. News of terminal illness is not something that takes very well. There is hope, though. There is a research foundation founded by some of the hanar here on Kahje that is looking into Kepral's. They're looking into a cure, and might be pretty close to achieving it in the next few years. As for you, you have a little over a year and half, but that time can be greatly extended with the help of a lung transplant."

Thane shook his head sadly. No, who was he to be granted the extension of life, to cheat death when he had aided its dark hand so many times before. He would join Irikah beyond the sea when the gods willed it.

"But Mr. Krios, you are a viable candidate! The disease has not spread to any other organs so far and- "

At that point, he had jumped off the exam table and exited the room. Suddenly the smell of bright lights and antiseptic was making him dizzy. He had to get away, go somewhere, and reflect quietly to himself. But first, he had business to attend to. Once outside, he tapped some controls on his omni-tool to bring up one of his contacts.

He would not die helpless and gasping for breath. He would die in combat, bleeding out to an enemy bullet.

His body and soul willed it.