My half of an art trade with @rayeliann! Some Mass Effect love with Rachel’s Rys Shepard and Kaidan Alenko. A snippet of a conversation between them before they land on Mars during Mass Effect 3.
Wind gusted against the sides of the shuttle, shaking the walls with a deafening sound. Rys Shepard shivered in her armor, hating the eerie noise. The dust storm was on the horizon. It wouldn’t hold off for long and if Rys knew anything from the past, things weren’t going to go as easily as she wished. They never did, even the simplest of missions and there was nothing simple about this one.
Admiral Hackett believed that the Mars Archives held something of great importance, something that would help them defeat the Reapers. All Rys wanted was to be back on Earth beside Anderson. She wanted to take the fight to the machines. She felt so helpless sitting in the Alliance shuttle waiting for James Vega to finally land it on the planet.
Kaidan found her sitting in silence, her pistol in her hands. Her amber-brown eyes were focused on the weapon. There wasn’t a single thought in her head about what was to come on Mars. Her mind was on Earth, on the Reapers, on the war. Kaidan studied her for a few moments, not sure if he should bother her or leave her to her thoughts. Even if he knew what was bothering her, there was much bothering him as well. They hadn’t spoken in what felt like forever. Their last real conversation had been on Horizon… when they’d left so many things unsaid.
Before he could make a decision on whether to question her or not, she spoke. Rys’ voice was low, solemn, but clear in the silence. “Did I make a mistake?”
Kaidan knew what she meant. There was no denying the worry in her voice. She was questioning her decisions. Questioning the very essence of who she was, as a commander and as a person. She had left the fight on Earth to fly around the galaxy searching for help, anything that would turn up. Despite their differences that had yet to be addressed, the major sat beside her. “Never.”
Her eyes sought his, the tiniest of smiles playing on the edges of her lips. “For someone who spent the last year furious at my involvement with Cerberus, you have a lot more faith in me than I do.”
When he answered, his response was unwavering. “I never doubted you, Shepard. I doubted the people you worked with. There’s a difference.”
Rys sighed and brushed a stray lock of auburn hair behind her ear. It had been a long time since Kaidan had seen the Commander and he had to admit that his memory of her was a poor substitute for the real thing. Her gaze was fixed on the gun once more, the metal shining dully in the shuttles dim lighting. “I failed to stop the Reapers, Kaidan. I’ve known they were coming for so long. The beacon, my visions, Sovereign. Even after all of that…” She paused, closing her brown eyes to her surroundings. “Even after Ash gave up her life to give us a chance, I failed.”
“Ash knew what was at stake.” Kaidan couldn’t believe, even after all they’d been through, Rys was questioning herself. She’d done so much to keep the Reapers at bay for years. To think that she considered that a failure was ludicrous. It seemed this war had worn on all of them, Rys most of all. “We all do. If I have to, I’ll die fighting the Reapers, Shepard. Any less and they’ve won.”
“I don’t want to lose more people.” Her voice was quiet and if he wasn’t sitting near her, he wouldn’t have heard them at all.
“Neither do I. But we’re in a war. It’s inevitable.” Kaidan said the words knowing they were true, but hating them even as they left his mouth. The words were true, but that wasn’t even the smallest comfort.
A small nod was all he needed to know that she’d heard him. With a quick breath, Rys stood. Lifting her pistol, she placed it in its holster before gripping the sides of the shuttle as another gust of dusty wind made it shake violently.
Silence fell between them, the sounds of the storm the only thing they could hear. Finally, Vega called out to them. “We’re here.”
Rys nodded and turned to Kaidan. She knew that they had a lot more to talk about, Horizon still loomed over them, but despite that it was good to have him here. She honestly couldn’t do this without him.
“Yes?” His gaze was on the dust storm in the distance, his guilt for being the Virmire survivor weighing on him even more than it had before. Her guilt had become his.
“I couldn’t do this without you.” She whispered, putting a hand on his arm. Her touch was enough to bring him to their present situation.
Kaidan smiled, covered her hand with his and squeezed it lightly. He felt the same. “I’m here, Rys. I’m with you to the end.”