The Red Moon Collection - 1 - Starside

Chapter 19

Saneer Medical Center, Atara District, Omega

The lobby of Saneer Medical Center was bustling as usual. Will sat in a chair in the corner of the large room with his arms crossed and foot tapping the floor anxiously as he watched the visitors, patients and staff go about their business. The trip back to Omega had taken longer than he had anticipated; Eleena had adamantly requested that the Hyperion not exceed fifty percent thrust capacity due to the damage it had suffered. Will had agreed without hesitation and spent the two and a half day trip nursing his shoulder back to health. It was still bandaged under his jacket, but the pain had all but subsided and he would quickly be able to move it without feeling the ache.

The last two times he had waited in this room were agonizing. Shansa had not regained consciousness before they set off to Sobek and it pained him to leave Omega while she was still under. His worry was not due to her health, however. He was more than certain that she was strong enough to make a full recovery. He worried that if something were to happen to him and the rest of the crew that he would have never had a chance to say goodbye. Not to mention the fact that if they had failed she would be on her own with their enemies still on the hunt. Fortunately, none of those worries had come to fruition and Will had even gotten in touch with the hospital to find that Shansa's treatment had been a success.

Will now sat patiently as he waited for the nurse who had helped him to return with Shansa. The asari nurse had informed him that Shansa had been fit for discharge for over a day but chose to remain in the hospital. Apparently she had wanted Will to know where she would be just in case there was no way for them to get in contact with one another. He regretted only leaving a message with the hospital staff explaining the Hyperion's absence, but they had been pressed for time and couldn't afford to wait for her to be brought out of her coma.

His eyes were locked on the entrance hallway that led into the hospital. He had been sitting for well over ten minutes, but he wasn't about to complain about the wait. No doubt there was a procedure for releasing a patient who had been in her condition only five or six days earlier. Finally, the nurse that had helped him when he had arrived emerged from the hallway while looking over her shoulder and nodding with a smile to the girl following her. Shansa was wearing a crisp white blouse and black pants that Will could only assume had been provided by the hospital as the clothes she had been wearing were torn to shreds. She looked tired, as Will could only expect, and lacked the normal skip in her step, but as Shansa and Will locked eyes her expression melted into a relieved, perhaps joyous, smile. Shansa gave one last nod of thanks to her nurse as Will pulled himself to his feet and hurried across the room to her. She turned back to face Will as he approached and nearly leapt toward him with her arms spread.

As they caught each other in a tight hug Will gave a small, happy laugh. "So how was the check-up?"

Shansa gave a surprised laugh and buried her face into his shoulder. "So this is all a big joke, huh?"

Will gave her copper hair a loving stroke. "Sorry, sorry... it's how I cope."

"Just teasing," she responded. "I'm so glad you're okay."

"You're glad that I'm okay?" Will chuckled as they parted from the embrace, his hands sliding from her back to her arms. "You're the one who was in a coma for three days. Do we need to have the doctors do a memory test?"

Shansa cocked her brow challengingly. "You left me a vague note about 'going after the source of the problem and ending it.' I think I had every right to worry about something like that."

He smiled and nodded. "Fair enough."

Shansa's lips sunk slightly. "Speaking of which. Did you..?"

Will nodded lightly. "Yeah. It's done. It didn't go perfectly, but we got pretty close."

Her smile resumed. "My hero."

He looked down to her torso where she had been shot. "Is everything..."

"I'm okay for now, but the doctor said I'll be as good as new in a few more days." She bit her lip excitedly. "But medicine is boring! When do I get to hear the story?"

Will grinned and put his arm around her waist as he turned them and began walking to the door. "I was kinda thinking that the rest of the crew might wanna be around for that. You know, just to make sure I get everything right."

Her eyes widened excitedly as they stepped through the front door and onto the Omega streets. "Of course! Is everyone okay?"

"They sure are," he replied. "They're waiting for us at a bar a few districts down."

"I dunno if alcohol would be the best thing for me right now," Shansa remarked with a smirk. "But I could go for a nice, cold glass of water."

Will stopped at the taxi terminal and hailed a cab before turning back to Shansa. She smiled up to him with clearly tired but elated brown eyes. He stepped toward her and wrapped his arms around her once again.

"Damn it," Will stumbled with his words. "I... I'm really glad you're okay."

"I'm glad you're safe too, Will." She reciprocated his hug and stepped back as a cab landed a few feet away. "Come on, we've got some friends to see."

He gave her a small grin. "Yeah, you're right."

They turned and stepped into the automated cab and shut their door behind them. Will leaned forward to select the Tilno District on the cab control console and sat back with a happy sigh as the taxi lifted off.

It wasn't a long walk from the landing pad where Will and Shansa's taxi had landed to the bar that Eleena had suggested. The Tilno District was filled with workshops and garages that worked on the skycars, shuttles and even ship components making it obvious why the asari's favorite bar was located here. The pair rounded the final corner to their destination and looked up to see a blue neon sign that read "Discharge." The name was surrounded by little lightening bolts that faded in and out in what looked like the static discharge of a ship's FTL drive. Will smirked at the sign and proceeded toward the door with Shansa just behind him. The door slid apart to reveal a small entrance hall that opened into a large, circular room illuminated by light blue and purple lights. At the center of the room a circular bar was tended by a turian and human preparing drinks for the dozens of patrons seated on barstools or at the numerous tables surrounding the bar.

"Cool place," Shansa commented over the music that filled the room.

Will scanned the room briefly before catching sight of their comrades seated on the far side. "There they are."

Eleena, Kallux and Tul'Sorrin waved them over as Will and Shansa stepped through the crowd. The trio rose from their seats and met them at the side of their table as Will and Shansa reached them. The asari, krogan and quarian met their pilot with smiles and welcoming handshakes. Kallux gave Shansa a firm pat on the shoulder and made a comment about her krogan-like vitality which earned a laugh from the others. Eleena shook her head with a smirk and wrapped her arms around Shansa in a friendly hug before waving them all to sit.

"I told Hume that you'd be fine," Kallux remarked to Shansa. "But he would just not stop worrying."

Will rolled his eyes sarcastically as Shansa smiled and responded. "He's always been a worrier." She leaned back and pulled her shirt about halfway up her torso to reveal the bandages still covering her stomach. "And rightfully so!"

Tul cleared his throat and leaned toward Shansa. "Well to be fair to Will... I was rather concerned as well."

"Aw, thanks Tul." Shansa blushed softly and reached over to place a hand on his arm.

"We all were," Eleena added. "We drank our fair share because of it."

Shansa looked down bashfully and shook her head. "Okay, okay, enough about me! I wanna hear about this adventure that I missed out on."

"Sounds good, but first I'm getting us some drinks," Will announced to the approval of the others.

After returning with a round for the crew, including a glass of water for Shansa, Will leaned back in his seat and began recounting the tale. Eleena, Kallux and Tul were quick to interrupt and make corrections on the details Will had tweaked that just happened to eliminate any of his missteps. Three rounds of drinks later Shansa had given a soft applause to the story which the crew jokingly basked in.

"I wish I had been there." Shansa grinned playfully. "That's the last time I use a coma to get out of work."

"Heh, we could have used you," Tul'Sorrin stated. "The Hyperion would probably be in one piece if you had been there!"

Kallux and Eleena laughed at the remark only to stop as Shansa's expression froze. Will placed his palm over his face and let out a pained sigh.

"I hadn't exactly told her about the ship in detail yet," Will mumbled through his fingers.

"Oh..." Tul'Sorrin muttered as Shansa looked to him with a horrified expression. "It was a joke, mostly! Eleena?"

The asari nodded quickly. "Hull integrity was holding in the sixties!"

"Sixties!" Tul echoed immediately.

Shansa shook her head slowly. "I'm out less than a week and you all manage to trash the ship."

Will put his hand on her shoulder. "Look at it this way: last time it needed this much work we got new primary thrusters!"

"Alright, alright." Shansa shook her head and slammed her glass of water to the table mock-dramatically. "But I want a new seat cover, damn it!"

"Done!" Will answered quickly. "We'll even get one for the copilot chair."

"Assuming we have the funds," Eleena interjected as she took a quick sip from her drink. "Not to be the downer or anything, but these repairs are gonna cost us."

Kallux downed a large gulp of his krogan alcohol. "Well I'm expecting the payment for those bounties any day now. I believe I promised you all a fair cut, no?"

Will let out a relieved sigh and finished off his drink. "Kallux, you're a life saver."

Tul'Sorrin cleared his throat and sat forward, his words slightly slurred. "Would now be a good time to mention that, while I was poking around in the Sommesh station's network, I managed to gain access to some accounts used by their operatives?" The quarian looked around the table as he sat back and crossed his arms. "And I may have drained a nice chunk into my personal account."

The others stared in silence as Will leaned over the table to get closer to Tul. "How many credits are we talking here, Tul'Sorrin?"

The quarian shrugged nonchalantly. "Only a couple hundred thousand."

The rest of the crew was visually taken aback and looked to one another in shock, perhaps to be sure that they had not misheard.

Will reached across the table and grabbed him by the shoulders. "You son of a bitch! I thought we'd have to sell the damn ship for scrap! Why didn't you mention this before now?!"

Tul'Sorrin chuckled as Will dropped back into his chair. "Well I wanted to make sure everyone was here. I think we all deserve a share."

"Wow." Eleena took a huge gulp of her drink. "Then forget all that bullshit about not having the funds."

Will tapped his thumb on the side of his glass and looked around the table in astonishment. "Yeah. I guess so." His eyes fell on Kallux and Tul. "It was really great having you two with us, by the way. Not just because of the money. We wouldn't have made it without you."

Kallux sat up and nodded toward Will, Shansa and Eleena. "What's your plan now?"

Will looked to his left and right where the two women sat. "Well, once the Hyperion is back in working condition I suppose we'll start looking for work. We haven't even made a delivery with our newest crew member yet." He glanced to Eleena with a grin.

"Forgive me if this is forward, but I'd like to offer an alternative." Kallux placed his hands on the table and laced his fingers. "As a lone operative with the Red Moon Collective there are a lot of tasks that I simply can't manage on my own without a ship. This most recent assignment, for example. I think it's fairly apparent that we work well together and the Collective is always short of teams capable enough to handle groups like Sommesh." The krogan's gaze rotated from one end of the table to the other. "We took them down as nothing more than a group of strangers with a wonderfully diverse set of skills. If we were to continue working together I believe we could stand to do a lot of good in this galaxy. And earn a lot of credits doing so."

Silence fell over the table as they considered the offer.

"So you wanna form a merc band?" Eleena raised a brow in amusement.

Kallux smirked. "In more or less words, yes. The five of us could make more doing high profile RMC operations than the three of you could make delivering cargo, that's for sure. Hell, that option wouldn't even be off the table if we wanted to take a few weeks off between missions."

Will already knew what his answer was, but he glanced to Eleena and Shansa. "You two are the official members of the crew. Thoughts?"

"It sounds exciting." Shansa smiled earnestly. "And we could help people."

Eleena shrugged. "From my understanding, I'm here to fix thrusters and deal with people who try to kill us. As long as that's in the job description I'm in."

Will looked across the table to Tul'Sorrin. "Of course... we'd be a mess without our master tactician. Tul?"

"Well." The quarian looked off to the side. "I always have plenty of freelance translator work available. I could manage plenty of that during jumps and other such downtime." Tul looked back to Will. "I don't have to sign a non-compete or anything, do I?"

Will chuckled and shook his head.

Tul'Sorrin nodded. "Sure, count me in. It's not like I have anything better to do."

Kallux grinned in satisfaction. "Well, I'm glad everyone's on board! I really didn't feel like packing up all my gear."

The group gave a small laugh as Will looked around the table. "In that case, welcome aboard Kallux and Tul." He raised one of the full glasses that a waitress had delivered to them. "Here's to a crew I couldn't be more proud of."

Eleena raised her glass to meet his. "And its fine captain."

He nodded as he continued. "And to a promising business venture."

Kallux, Tul and Shansa all raised their glasses to clink them together ceremoniously before downing a mouthful of their respective drinks.

Will let out a satisfied sigh. "For now, though, let's relax. We've got a lot more ahead of us."

Final Note

Well that was fun. I hope you enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it! I have a lot of plans for these characters and I've already started working on the second volume of their adventures which will be much, much longer than this story. In fact, this one could almost be seen as more of a prologue for the next story to set up the characters and their situation (but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot more characters to come in the second volume). Anyway, drop a review if you liked the story and check back in the next week or so for the first chapter of the next volume!