From Red to Blue


Kia Purity

Canned Disclaimer: Bioware owns Mass Effect stuff. Rest comes from my shattered mind from so many attractive Kaidan pictures. ()_()

    Home.  My home, the only place that matters.  The texture of the ground, the colors of the sky, the smell of the ocean.
    The redhead girl reached out, grabbing a fistful of sand.   She looked up, seeing the blue sky and people running towards her.  Letting out a sigh, she put her head back down, closing her eyes.

    "Goodness, out at the beach again?"
    The large woman was fretting over the little girl, examining for injuries.  The girl scowled, pulling her arm away.
    "Just wanted to see the beach!"
    "You should just stop going, you keep passing out whenever you're there."
    "You're not my mom, you can't tell me what to do!" The girl's face darkened. "It's my only important thing!"
    The woman sighed.  This girl was impossible, but there was no way Mama could argue with that statement...
    As a baby, she was abandoned in a basket at a table in the library; the librarian had went over to the basket, assuming that it was full of donated books.  Much to her surprise, it turned out to be an abandoned child.  The only name they could find was a scribbled 'SHEPARD' on the inside page of the book left inside the basket.  No one came forth to claim her so she was sent into the system.  She was bounced around from foster family to foster family, never finding any ounce of stability
    "Shepard, don't be so difficult!"
    Shepard cocked an eyebrow at the woman, then sighed...
    "I'm sorry. The beach means a lot to me."
    "Well..." Mama shifted uncomfortably. "I understand, times are tough."
    Especially when taking in consideration Shepard was already in her fourth foster family and at ten years old too.  At least, her stay with this current family appeared to be lasting a little bit longer than with the previous families.  It seemed obvious to Mama that the beach was the only stable thing this poor child had in her life.
    "I should go."
    Shepard walked away from Mama, heading to a small room that she shared with Mama's biological daughter, Alma.  The older girl, curiously, never resented sharing her room with a stranger, only welcoming her with open arms.
    After the beach incident, Alma became Shepard's 'babysitter'.  Shepard hated this, but Alma seemed not to mind this.  The two were heading to the markets where Alma mentioned wanting to check out the latest fashion but neither of them could afford much.  Didn't stop them from from window shopping and rambling about how much they wanted this and that.
    Though, there was no way in hell Shepard was ever going to wear that aquamarine dress Alma proclaimed would look good on her.  She muttered something about liking to run around in pants.
    "Ever heard about the Tenth Street Reds?"
    "No, what is it?" Shepard asked, cautiously.
    "It's a gang! I'm dating one of the guys from there." Alma almost seemed a little too excited. "Isn't that fab, a gang!"
    "I see."
    "You don't sound too happy about this."
    "I feel nothing. You're just dating a guy that's in a gang."
    "Shepard!" Alma huffed at Shepard. "The gang isn't bad! You may like it, everyone's nice!"
    "What's there to like about it?"
    "That's what I'm going to show you!"
    Alma switched streets, dragged Shepard away from their path into a part of the slums she didn't know.  Shepard was fighting to suppress the bad feeling that was caught in her throat.
    "Gerry, Curt, Finch, and the others should be at The Flying Blue D--" Alma coughed, cleared her throat trying to hide her embarrassment, "Duck."
    "What an odd name."
    Alma hesitated. "Used to be a club of sorts."
    The redhead said nothing but followed Alma to a run-down building; windows were boarded up with cheap plywood.  The partial lit neon sign was broken, obscuring the last few letters following after "The Flying Blue D".  Shepard gave the sign an odd look, wondering what those last letters were.
    "Who's this kid, Alma? Your little sister?" One of the guys shouted out soon as the duo walked inside.
    "Oh, just my foster sister..."
    "Shepard." Shepard took in the surroundings.
    "Gerry." The leader motioned to himself. "What do you think of the place?"
    The huge room had a bar against one wall with a cracked mirror coated in dust and broken bottles.  The stools were just as worn as the carpet underneath their feet which had been once a bright cream color but was now a dull gray.  Few broken furniture were piled in corner as though as they had been trying to clean up the place without success.  Torn curtains barely covered up the plywood boarded windows and the only source of light in the room was a salvaged lamp on the bar counter.  Gerry was sitting in the middle of a red couch that had seen its better days.
    "Looks like crap."
    Sure looked like a rough crowd to her, but that was nothing she wasn't used to.  When her peers decided that she looked interesting for a bullying target; which was a mistake on their part.  Alma was quite possibly the only kid out of the previous foster families who chose not to target Shepard for being different.
    "She could be a mascot, Alma." The leader, Gerry tilted his head. "I've never seen anyone with that hair color."
    "Are you going to pick on me for it? Because I'll kick your ass if you try."
    There was a dark look in the girl's blue eyes as she slid into an aggressive stance.  It was obvious from the girl's battle scars that she fought every day to survive.  Just as dangerous as a cornered fox.
    "Wow, what a mouth! I like her!" Gerry laughed. "Alma, what a nice find!"
    "Find...?" Shepard dropped her stance. "What's going on, Alma?"
    "They said they needed someone for a look out. I thought you'd would be good for the job since you're so small and all." The brunette paused. "You're also great at disappearing, remember yesterday?"
    The beach incident.  Shepard had slipped out of the house that day when no one was looking.  It was a talent, developed over the years from slipping out of yet another broken foster home.
    "Meh, I don't see what I can get out of this."
    "Don't worry, once you roll with the Reds, ain't nobody going to screw with you." Gerry smiled, "Alma's told me everything. That ain't gonna happen to you here."
    "You say a lot, how do I trust you?"
    "Let's see how this job goes first. But for now, let's get you a name." Gerry glanced to Alma. "We know you like to disappear a lot."
    "I have a good right hook." Shepard was thinking back on the last time she had to use it on a snot faced kid who had tried to snatch away her lunch at school.
    "Disappearing, hitting people, your crazy red hair! It'd just be easier to..." He laughed out loud. "To call you the Red Ghost. You're the Red Ghost of the Reds."
    "That's cute." Shepard shook her head. "Naming me because of my hair?"
    "It works both ways! Sure, it's cheesy but you look like a ghost anyway." Gerry smirked.
    True to her nickname, Shepard was pretty damn good at being a lookout and vanishing when the situation called for it.  Thanks to a successful raid, the Reds were able to walk away with excellent loot.  Ever since, the raids usually ranged from "necessary supplies" to "frivolous".
    As time went on, Shepard found herself being passed through more families until finally, she ran away and stayed exclusively in The Flying Blue D.  She had her own space that was corned off in the attic, framed with a ragged curtain on a string, worn mattress on the floor.  There was a small suitcase at the foot of her mattress, stuffed with scraps of clothing.
    She was now fifteen, already having proven her worth with firearms.  She favored the scope on the sniper rifle but refused to load it-- after all, that's what her pistol was for.  Even then, she didn't use her pistol for violence, it was just an effective gesture of 'Leave me the hell alone'.
    Shepard had already earned a reputation for someone to not piss off.  Boys were easily intimidated by her intense blue eyes and if they so much as suggested anything untoward, they were rewarded with the infamous Shepard Punch.
    Alma started coming around a little less, but Shepard suspected that was because Gerry and Alma were on the outs.  It seemed that they were constantly trying to decide if they were dating or not every other month.  It drove Shepard crazy whenever Alma appeared to be all moony over him, changing topics constantly.
    How could anyone ever want to fall in love and suffer through stupid things like that?  Not her thing.

    "Mmm?" Shepard turned around, staring at Alma who had partially held the curtain open.
    "I've got a present for you. Happy birthday."
    "That was last week, Alma..."
    Alma looked down, feeling embarrassed as she handed the wrapped box to Shepard. "I'm sorry. I should have been there for you, but I wasn't."
    "It's fine." Shepard tore the paper and opened the box. "A book...?"
    "It was one of the things that was found with you. Mama found it the other day and felt bad that none of us ever had the time to read you stories from it. I was reading through it the other day and marked my favorite story for you."
    Shepard saw that there was a red piece of paper stuck in the book and opened it to that page.
    "The Little Mermaid...?"
    "It always made me think about how often you were going to the beach."
    "You're weird." She wrinkled her nose at Alma. "Thanks for the book, I'll read it."
    "You're welcome."
    There was a sad look in Alma's eyes as Shepard nudged her former foster sister. "What's going on?"
    "Just thinking about family. Are you ever going to go back into the system?"
    "Forget it. Last family had an abusive man who tried to beat me for talking back. I'm not going to be anyone's punching bag."
    "I see... I've been thinking about leaving the Reds. It's just not safe for us anymore."
    "I'm fine here, Alma, what are you talking about--"
    Realization dawned on Shepard's face as she saw how embarrassed Alma looked.  She sighed, rolling her eyes at her former foster sister, shaking her head.
    "Does Mama know about this?"
    "Not yet." Alma's cheeks colored. "I'm not sure if it is Gerry's..."
    "Man, this thing with you and Gerry is so stupid. Constantly being lovebirds and fighting all the time. The hell, Alma?"
    "Love is complicated! You'll understand when you find the guy that makes you so warm on the inside and all mushy." Alma sighed, swooning a little bit. "He'll make you feel as if everything is alright in the world but he's gotta have that little spark that you know that you can't just be a pushover and you can't let him be too commanding either!"
    The redhead narrowed her eyes. "Bull. Shit. There's no one like that for me!"
    "Sure there is! Probably not now, but more like, maybe, few years down the line! I swear to you, Red, that there's a guy who will absolutely knock you off your feet senseless!"
    "Never going to happen."
    "You'll change your mind, I swear!" Alma threw her hands up. "I'm going now. See you later, Red."
    "See you."
    Alma sighed loudly, drawing the curtain back on Shepard, letting the younger girl curl up with the book.  She was reading it by the moonlight that shone through the cracks in the plywood.  Having finished reading the tale, Shepard's lips were now curled back in disgust.
    "I am so going to hit Alma for this."

    Damn, today was a bright day, Shepard thought as she was walking in the alleys.  There was nothing else better for her to do so she decided that she should make it to the beach.  She walked by a large pile of cardboard boxes with a person in a blue uniform sprawled over them.  She suddenly stopped in her tracks and went over to the man, looming over him.
    Who the hell would be so stupid as to sleep in the trash?
    Especially since the guy looked like an Alliance marine?
    "Hey you." Shepard called out. "What are you doing, sleeping in this rubble?"
    The guy grunted, barely stirring.  She was tempted to poke that weird hairbump of his to see if it'd get him up faster.  Instead, she chose to do nothing and he sat up, looking confused.
    That damn dimple in his chin.
    "Where am I?"
    Shepard gaped at him. "You really don't know where you are? What, did you hit your head or something? We're on Earth, silly Alliance guy!"
    Maybe he got so drunk that he really didn't remember where he went to.  Granted, Alliance guys normally didn't come to this part of the city.  Could very easily have gotten lost trying to find his way back.
    The poor guy looked so lost and confused, checking over his clothes and appeared to be astonished that he was wearing an uniform.  Okay, definitely must have hit his head pretty hard.
    "Who are you?"
    Shepard crossed her arms. "I should ask that of you! You're lucky that the other Reds didn't find you!"
    The gang weren't on very friendly terms with the Alliance considering that sometimes their members would flee the gang soon as they turned 18.  Shepard still had mixed feelings about the gang as they seemed to be heading towards something darker.
    What kind of a name was that? Nevermind.
    "That's better, I'm the Red Ghost."
    "That's not a name..." the man stared at Shepard, baffled.
    "Of course, it's not. It's a nickname 'cause I'm good at spotting trouble and disappearing. You don't want to see how good I am with a sniper rifle." She couldn't help but grin over that, proud of her skills. 
    The latter part was meant to be a threat just in case.  Though, in his state, he looked far too pitiful to be scary, but you never knew with some people.  She had a weird prickly feeling crawling up her spine just from being around this guy.
    "You've got one hell of a mouth on you, Red."
    "Useful for talking my way out of trouble."
    If talking had failed Shepard, she could always hit people.  Always worked out well for her thanks to an awesome right hook.
    Alenko paused as if he was studying Shepard intensely, making her feel a bit uncomfortable.
    "What is it, Alenko?"
    "You just remind me of someone."
    "No way." Shepard laughed, bitterly. "As far as I know, I'm the only pale red-head with freckles in this area. Well, naturally occurring that is. The rest of 'em are dye jobs."
    And some of the dye jobs were pretty damn terrible.  Alma looked awful when she had tried to dye her hair red and it turned out to be such a bright orange that she was called Carrot for a week before she got angry and dyed her hair back to brown.
    "The person who I knew was a natural red-head too. Even freckled too."
    My god, this guy was obviously in love!  Also, he was sounding like he got a case of the stupid too.  No person could be worth that much.
    "Hm. Sounds like you like her a lot." Shepard had started walking away from the guy, heading towards the alley exit.  "Anyone would be an idiot not to know that you're obviously in love with her."
    "You're strangely perspective!" He followed after Shepard. "It wasn't like the relationship was even out in the open..."
    A person had to be an idiot or dead not to notice how his voice had emotion when he spoke of his own redhead.  Good god, that was just embarrassing to be around such mushy people.
    "You are using past tenses."
    "She died when our ship got attacked."
    "When was that?"
    "Six months ago..."
    The crap was this guy talking about? There was no report of an attack on a ship as far as she knew.
    "That's weird, I haven't heard anything about that. That's like, a pretty big thing. What was the ship's name?"
    The two made their way into the city into the markets area where the guy gaped at Shepard.  Shepard was wishing that he would close his mouth before he started catching flies with it.
    "Never heard of it."
    "Really. This is Earth, right?"
    "Yeah." Shepard nodded. "We're in New York, for what it's worth."
    Now she watched with interest as Alenko stared staring at everything in sight, trying very hard to identify whatever they were.  It seemed as if he was in deep thought.  Shepard had never seen someone so utterly fascinated with ads.  Did this guy live under a rock?
    "I haven't seen some of these for a while..."
    "You're weird, those were just put up yesterday."
    The guy froze, turning around slowly to look at Shepard, something of a terrified look on his face.  What a weird guy.
    "Red? Yesterday? What year is it?"
    "Um, let's see... I'm fifteen so it should be 2169 CE."
    "Around this time... I should have been in brain camp... no, it was shut down, oh shit." Alenko muttered to himself. "I don't believe this at all."
    "You're talking weird. Must have hit your head harder than I thought. I better get you to a hospital. We're going to have to really avoid the other Reds."
    "I don't see how that's going to be possible-- oof."
    He doubled over from unseen pain as Shepard sighed, looking around for the best route to the hospital, trying to figure out how to avoid the other Reds.
    "I can't just tell you to strip." Shepard snorted at the odd look coming from Alenko. "What? I mean for changing clothes. Ah, hell, I'll just take you through the back alleys--"
    She took his hand suddenly and both of them started off through the alleys.  Half-way through, her hand felt light and she turned around to see if Alenko's hand had slipped out.
    Instead, he wasn't there at all.  What the hell?
    "Alenko? Hey! You weird Alliance guy! Don't play hide and seek with me!"
    The red-head furiously backtracked her way back to the markets, wasting a great deal of her time trying to find the mysterious guy.  The crap was that all about?

    In a foul mood, she was back in her space at The Blue Flying D, having threatened to punch any other Reds who dared to approach her.  The threat of a Shepard Punch was enough to give her a healthy amount of space away from the others.
    She kicked her sneakers off and sat on the mattress, staring off into space.
    "Stupid idiot!" She screamed. "I didn't even get to visit the beach!"
    Stewing over the missed visit seemed moot at this point because she was rather worried about that weirdo.  He must have really hit his head so hard if he was wandering around all lost like that.  His hair bump was just so damn weird too-- who stylized it like that anyway? Seemed like something you'd see in those hokey old vids that they played at community theaters for free.
    Though, that damn dimple in his chin.
    "Alma, I really really really HATE you!"
    She turned her attention on the book, sighing and held it close to her chest.  As much as she loved Alma, she still needed a punch in the face for book marking that story.  All the other stories were great, just that, well.
    The Little Mermaid was so damn offensive.
    Shepard swore that she was never going to let that happen to her; falling in love with someone who turned his affections towards another woman and in the end, losing her life for it.
    Hell, best to never fall in love at all.
    The night before Shepard's 18th birthday, things weren't looking up for her.  Alma already had left years ago after miscarrying her baby and rarely kept in touch with Shepard.  She noted that the gang was getting into pretty nasty stuff, what with drugs now involved and increased violence.  The violence had started with the rival gangs sprouting up and encroaching onto Reds' territories.
    Shepard was pretty damn fortunate to not have killed anyone at all but she was still guilty by association.  Some of the more questionable Reds were known to be especially brutal towards not just their rivals, but some of the innocent citizens.  Pissed her off every time she caught one in act and rewarded them with a punch to the face.
    What the hell was the point of this all?
    Maybe the former members who had defected had the right idea... getting the hell out and going for something safer with The Alliance.  Shepard wondered if she could do it, being able to give up all of this crap for something better.
    She picked up the book, determined to follow through with her plan.  She quickly threw together what little she had in the worn suitcase, choosing to disassemble her guns and leave them behind.
    They wouldn't be needed for where she was going.

    She was now sitting at the beach, watching the sun rise over the water, washing over the sky with so many different colors.  A new day, a new start for her.
    Happy birthday to her.
    Shepard made her way back into the city, taking the back alleys to where she knew the Alliance recruiting center should be.  Shouldn't be long now before she was away from all this mess with a brand new life waiting for her.
    She immediately marched into the center, surprising the soldier manning the desk once she set down her suitcase and crossed her arms.
    "I'm Shepard and I'm signing up for the Alliance."
    "How old are you?"
    "Just turned eighteen."
    "Okay, let me just look up your records."
    The minute she was accepted, she had her pigtails shorn off in favor of a shorter hair style in accordance with Alliance regulations.  A new day, a new start, new haircut.

    Over the next several years, Shepard had participated in rough training programs meant to refine her from a lump of coal into a diamond.  She was classified as being best for infiltration due to her ability to vanish and her familiarity with a sniper rifle.  N7 training was the hardest that she had ever done but damn, she was proud of herself for having finished it unlike the dropouts.
    However, she still managed to keep people at a distance, one of the few old habits still retained from her childhood.  This didn't keep her from being surprised by a random girl in her unit who demanded that she let Shepard suffer from a make-over.  The girl thought Shepard was too much of a ghost and should put more effort in being seen.
    Shepard protested loudly, being fine with who she was because she didn't care if people saw her or not.
    "I'm sorry, Meghan, it's just... you know, makeup wasn't a big deal at that time. No money."
    "Nonsense, Shepard! You'd look just great with some eyeliner to bring out your eyes..."
    Shepard wished someone could have saved her from this crazed girl.
    "Ooh, you know what? This fire engine red lipstick would be just perfect for you! You'd have every men swooning at your feet!"
    The redhead facepalmed once Meghan put the lipstick in Shepard's free hand.
    "Trust me, Shepard! You'll look great!"
    She hated to admit it, but Meghan was right, she did look great with the makeup on.  It was one of the few things Alma loved to talk about acquiring and perhaps, using a bit of it helped her feel close to her former foster sister.  She didn't even try to contact Alma after joining Alliance which was a damn shame.
    "Thanks, Meghan."
    "Let me know how it goes once you get a guy~"
    Why me?
    "Assuming there's one in my future."
    "Oh, you swing for the other side?"
    Shepard blinked. "No, it's not that. It's just that I don't know if I'd ever have time for anyone. I mean, the job is the only thing I'm living for."
    "Aw, that's no fun, Shepard." Meghan pouted. "You should live a little, get to know people better. You can't walk around, keeping yourself closed off from everyone. Hell, I had to kidnap you for this!"
    The redhead was currently digesting the other girl's words.  Perhaps, she did have a point there. Can't always avoid people forever, but she didn't think she could deal with something messy like falling in love.
    "Okay, I'll try my best."
    "That's great to hear it!"

    Shepard's non-existent love life pretty much went nowhere.  Not like she was really all that surprised by it, there wasn't anyone that made her feel like she was knocked off of her feet in Alma's words.  It was probably for the best, the job came first, her happiness, second.  Men in the Alliance were outright off of her list, no need to get the work messy.  Civilians?  Few dates that pretty much didn't work out.
    That didn't keep her from being able to allow herself to open up a little bit to people, being casual and making friends much easier than she would have as a child.  So what if she couldn't find a life mate, she had plenty of good friends who she knew would have her back. Good enough for her.
    It was damn unfortunate when she was on a shore leave at Elysium when those pirates attacked.  Undeterred, she was able to rally people in order to hold the bastards off before the reinforcement arrived.  Because of her actions, she earned recognization and medals, though she felt it was a bit embarrassing to get such attention.  Shepard was doing her job, even on her shore leave.

    For hell of it, Shepard was able to get another shore leave due to not being able to finish hers.  This time she choose to return to Earth, just to see what had changed since she left it.  Was the beach still there waiting for her?  She was wandering through downtown New York lost in her thoughts, silently wondering what the hell the Reds were doing.
    `"Hellooooo, Shepard~!"
    Shepard flinched, turning around realizing that the voice belonged to none other than her former foster sister, Alma.
    "My god, it is you, Shepard!" Alma exclaimed, running to hug Shepard. "Too many years!"
    "Hi, Alma... yes, it has been."
    "So, I heard that you're famous now for saving Elysium!"
    "But I still lost some people." Shepard sighed, wiggling out of Alma's embrace. "I didn't do as well as I should have."
    "You can still always try better next time, right?"
    "Of course, Alma. What's up with you?"
    "Married now, woohoo!" Alma exclaimed, showing off her ring. "Hubby works for a major company! Oh, and I'm preggers!"
    Shepard rose an eyebrow. "Are you sure it's your husband's?"
    "How mean! It's been years since the Reds. I'm not a crazy teenager anymore. Saaaay, are you wearing makeup? OH MY GOD, SHEPARD. DO YOU HAVE A HUNKY BOYFRIEND YET???"
    Her blue eyes rolled upwards to the sky. "No."
    "Aw. You didn't have to get my hopes up."
    "Seriously, though, Alma. I've actually dated but some of them were major pervs."
    The two were making their way towards the stores where they used to window shop for entertainment.  She was surprised that it seemed so long ago since the last time they did something like that.  Alma just giggled when she recognized the same shop while Shepard sighed.  Then the brunette glared at Shepard, gently poking her.
    "That's disappointing, Shepard. You haven't found a guy who would make you fall?"
    "No. I don't think I ever will. Job's too important to me anyway." Shepard noticed Alma's disapproving glare. "Hey! I am at least socializing with people!"
    "Socializing with people, you should be trying to socialize with hot men more often! What about the ones in Alliance?"
    "Oh, you idiot. They're off limits!"
    "It's against regulations."
    "You know, Alliance is a better fit for you than Tenth Street Reds." Alma exclaimed with laughter. "Going from red to blue, indeed."
    "I have to get back to shopping, keep in contact with me, Shepard! Vids and messages!"
    "I'll try."
    Shepard watched Alma rush off in the distance, still thinking about the other woman's words.  With a scoff, she stuck her her hands in her pockets and walked off in the other direction.  While it was comforting to know Alma hadn't changed much personality-wise, Shepard personally felt like she hadn't gotten to where she needed to be yet.  Either way, the job would always be there for her, the one constant in her life.

    Just seven years after that meeting with Alma, she was assigned to the newest ship as an executive officer.  Damned if Shepard didn't find that the ship's name was rather jarring.
    SSV Normandy.
    "Yeah, definitely had to be hallucinating that time." She muttered to herself upon seeing the ship's name.  "It was just a really hot day back then. Must have fried my brain."
    Upon boarding the ship with her belongings, she took a good view of the interior.  Sleek and smooth, and everything blue.  She grinned to herself, this ship was one hell of a great work.
    So much different from that attic corner in The Flying Blue D.
    Someone bumped into her, she looked up quickly to see who it was.  The man had blushed furiously and rubbed the back of his neck.
    "I'm sorry, excuse me."
    Shepard's mouth was partially open as if she was going to say something, but instead she watched him walk away.
    That damn dimple in his chin.