Oh, and TinMan? Sorry, I told you that we'd find out more about how Faith came to be in the future in Chapter 7, but it's gonna be Chapter 9 instead. I'll chalk one of the push-backs to me deciding to add an encounter between Faith and the Council, but the other one is probably due to me being too dumb to read my own outline. At any rate… Sha'ira now, then the Council, Kasumi, and finally Kelly - and exposition - in Chapter 9.
"…while I'm busy upstairs, are any of the acolytes free? I think my friend here needs her horizons expanded."
Eyes flicking over to the distinctly uncomfortable Miranda for a moment, Nelyna's eyes dip to the prominent Cerberus logo on the woman's chest before offering Faith the slightest of smirks. "I'll see what I can do, Commander Shepard." She looks away and then nods in the direction of the stairs leading to Sha'ira's personal chambers. "If you're ready, her previous appointment is just leaving now."
"Sweet, thanks. Have fun, Miri." Faith waves Miranda as she departs, chuckling at the horrified look on the woman's face as Nelyna leads her over to a nearby couch. Turning her attention forward, Faith blinks in surprise at the three figures descending the stairs. Even with all the asari Faith's seen in Alexis's memories, these ones catch her eye. The leftmost of the trio is remarkably tall and slender, standing a head taller than most everyone else present, with sapphire skin and darker blue speckles running from her brow line up into her headtresses. It's 'most everyone' rather than 'everyone' because the rightmost asari is downright massive. Six feet of a mixture of curves and muscles, Faith is instantly reminded of Power Girl… and then curses Xander for getting her hooked on comics back when they worked together in Cleveland. Sandwiched in between the two is a smaller asari with icy blue-grey skin and… a blindfold over her eyes? Faith arches a brow before shrugging it off. She's seen weirder, both in her past life and in Alexis's memories. "Ladies."
The buxom asari on the right looks Faith up and down, and then her upper lip curls back in a smile that seems oddly familiar to the brunette for some reason. "Shepard." The blindfolded asari's head turns unerringly to point in her direction, making Faith's other brow rise, and then the trio is brushing past her and heading for the exit. Strange, but not worth obsessing over. After all, she's got shit to do.
Bounding up the stairs, Faith circles around and enters the Consort's personal space… only to skid to a stop and raise her hands in surrender when she finds twin asari-made Zealot submachine guns staring her in the face. After a few seconds, the guns drop to point at her chest and Sha'ira leans in, pressing her blue lips gently against Faith's. Before Faith can try and deepen the kiss, it's over and Sha'ira is pulling away, collapsing her guns so she can store them at the small of her back. Taking Faith's hands in her own, she inclines her head as she smiles faintly. "It seems as if my gift of words was correct after all. Well, after a fashion. Welcome back, Commander Shepard. Or are you more comfortable with Lehane?"
"Shepard's fine; I'm finally starting to get used to it." Then Faith's eyes narrow, her hand dropping to rest on the butt of her pistol. "How..?"
Turning, Sha'ira makes her way over to the nearby bar, pouring two glasses of wine before returning and handing one of them to Faith. "With age comes the knowledge of when a certain level of theatricality is appropriate, and when it is not. For a matriarch, it's child's play to take what we need through the briefest moment of contact. I wanted to see if you were who you claimed to be. The answer was… unexpected… but acceptable."
Faith ponders that as she accepts the glass of wine from Sha'ira, sipping it absently. It does kinda make sense, now that she thinks about it. Shiala had been able to meld with her much more easily than Liara despite the latter being far more familiar with her, and only slightly over half of her bedmates had lit up the room with icy blue mass effect fields when they fucked. Usually the younger ones, come to think of it. "And if I wasn't actually Shepard? Well, partly Shepard?"
"What do you think the guns were for? I wasn't always a hetaera, Commander; I still remember how to solve a problem that can't be handled with mere words." Making her way over to her couch, Sha'ira lowers herself onto it and then gestures for Faith to join her. "But that's something we can discuss another time, if you really wish to. I assume you're here to call in that favor I owe you. What do you wish of me? And why have you brought Cerberus into my home?"
Sprawling out on her side next to Sha'ira, Faith chuckles. "Well, I'm not saying I don't trust Miri not to fuck shit up, but… actually, that's exactly why she's here. Last time someone let her near the Normandy
's deck plans, she signed off on the horrible layout we're here to get fixed. So I'm keeping her as far away from the refit as possible; figure the three ex-Alliance in my crew are better choices to supervise that. Might go introduce her to the Council when I'm done here. That could be kinda fun. As for you… can't I just want to drop in and say hi to my favorite consort on the Citadel?"
Sha'ira lets out a remarkably indelicate snort at that. "Given what I charge for my time? You can but I wouldn't suggest it."
"Yeah. I'm doing a lot better than the average Alliance grunt, but anything that would cost him half a year's pay would probably put a nasty dent in my bank account." Finishing off her wine, Faith places the glass on the nearby table before rolling onto her back and pulling up a list of supplies on her omni-tool. "I've got the creds to pay for it all, and I'm already on Serrice and Armali's good girl lists. Just need your help greasing the wheels. You know, considering they probably think I'm still dead and all."
Blue fingers run through Faith's hair idly as Sha'ira leans in, studying the list. "That sounds… acceptable. Let's see. A top of the line bio-amp and matching omni-tool? Sensible, and Serrice Council just released a variant of the Savant that lends itself well to especially aggressive biotics such as yourself. Two different models of shotgun and a new pistol from Armali? No surprises there. One, two, three… four species of Thessian fish? I don't think I want to know. And asari commando leathers in…" Trailing off, Sha'ira stares down at Faith in disbelief. "Surely you can't be serious."
Faith is pretty sure the joke will be lost in translation, just like her first attempt at using the timeless 'cunning linguist' quip on Liara, but can't help herself. "I am serious… and don't call me Shirley."