Can’t think straight.
Is this a sign?
Commander Arran Shepard could swim. She was almost sure. There were a lot of things a spacer kid didn’t need to do and learning to swim was one of them. Alliance spacecraft design couldn’t find anything useful about hauling that kind of weight just for marines to dip their toes in on off-hours and freighters and frigates and cargo ships that ferried her around the galaxy when she was old enough to travel on her own felt about the same way. She’d grown up craving the heat and pressure of a shower and wouldn’t have known otherwise if her mother wasn’t Hannah Shepard. When Arran decided that she wanted to join up, after her mother sat her down and did her level best to inform her about what she was facing, she’d been given a datapad. On it was a list of ten things she was informed that “she had better be capable of before Basic.”
Number six was be able to swim.
Arran had scanned the list she’d found waiting for her on her bed, had stood up and walked around the room reading it. She waited for her hand to toss it back on the bed, to procrastinate, leave it for another instant and instead, finish the Turian-Human Relations reading she’d been assigned, or even better, pull up a movie. But she this was maybe the first real order her mother had ever given her and her mother wanted to see if Arran would man up or back down. This was, sincerely, her mother’s Basic. Arran realized that she suddenly had something to prove. If there was a Shepard gene her parents had passed down, the will to rise to a challenge had to be part of it. She wasn’t going to let her mother be disappointed in her, no, more than that, she was going to knock off every one of the ten items.
Some of them harder, some of them easier, and all of them save one are stories for another time, Arran struggled and bled her way through the tasks. But the swimming, the swimming was last, simply for lack of a swimming pool. Finally, it was a mere month until training and Arran found herself booking passage to a little colony world, Phaela. No one told her, as she told no one that she was going to teach herself to swim there, that Phaela’s gravitational pull was slightly stronger than any an Alliance instructor would drop a recruit in for splashdown. She nearly drowned, miserable rat that she was, drug out of the sea by a villager who looked at her and shook his head and as she dried off, explained why the water was so dark.
She’d squinted at him as he scoffed at her efforts, telling him, “If I can learn to swim here, then…”
She was thinking of that now as the Atlas stomped towards the edge, and hopefully towards Leviathan. There was no room for fear then, and there was none now. Even if it tried to creep in with her. And then she fell.