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Hindsight is Always 20/20

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Allie often read the ANN reports that crossed her desk. They made for a nice change of pace from her usual military reports and briefings and she liked perusing them while drinking some tea in the mess hall. They were short, easy to read, and frequently held information she found useful in her mission planning. Most of the times she just skimmed them, only going back to re-read them in depth if something in particular stood out to her. Like a name.

Rana Thanoptis

Allie frowned and leaned back in her seat, trying to think why the name sounded familiar. When she re-read it, paying more attention to the details, she remembered the asari scientist from Virmire. The one who was terrified of being turned into one of Saren's science projects. The one who seemed to understand indoctrination and the serious problem it would cause. Kaidan questioned when Allie let her go, wondering if the asari managed to escape being indoctrinated during her time with Saren. Allie said it was a risk she was willing to take, not fully realizing at the time how dangerous a Reaper's hold on someone's mind could be or how easily it could be done. The last thing she wanted to do was kill an innocent because there was a slim chance she was indoctrinated.

Allie ran into her again when she was trying to stop the Collectors. She couldn't believe it when she saw the same person working for Warlord Okeer. The job seemed to be a step up from working for an indoctrinated, disgraced Spectre, but when she let her ago a second time, it was Zaeed who wondered if her compassion might come back to bite her in the ass. Allie thought briefly back to her conversation with Kaidan on Virmire and wondered if letting her go a second time would be a mistake. She didn't seem indoctrinated, though, so Allie turned her loose again.

And now, reading a report that mentioned how the asari killed herself after being arrested for murdering several asari military officials along with some civilians when she planted a makeshift explosive device, it seemed Zaeed and Kaidan had both been correct. She showed compassion to someone and they wound up being indoctrinated and now people were dead.

“Well, shit,” she muttered, letting the datapad drop from her fingers. She covered her face in her hands, not caring about the sound the device made when it clattered onto the table.

“You ok, Shepard?” Kaidan glanced down at her, a mug of coffee firmly in his grasp.

“Yeah, I'm fine. Just got slapped in the face with a huge dose of perfect hindsight.” Allie slid the datapad across to him.

Kaidan frowned as he sat, picking up the device and reading through the article. “Ah,” he said when he finished. He put the pad down and leaned back in the chair, glancing at Allie over the rim of his mug as he drank.

“So, nothing? No 'I told you so'?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

“What, like you aren't already beating yourself about it?” Kaidan asked. “Besides, I'd rather not piss you off.”

His tone was serious, but Allie could see the warmth in his eyes and appreciated his attempt to make her feel better. “What if I'd arrested her back then, Kaidan? Or shot her?”

“You know the answer to that,” he replied, setting his mug on the table. He looped his finger through the handle and spun the mug around. “What I will tell you is back then, you had no idea. None of us did. How easy it was to become indoctrinated. How hard it was to realize someone was. How hard it was for someone to realize they were. A lot has changed since then.”

Allie took a deep breath and let it out in a slow exhale. “You had enough sense to wonder if I did the right thing, though.”

“Only from a legal standpoint. I wasn't thinking she was indoctrinated so much as what other information she might have. I was thinking more about questioning her, finding out more about what Saren was doing, what his plans were,” he shrugged. “But I knew you well enough back then to know you let her go because you thought she was a good person with good intentions who got caught up in something bad. I knew you let her go because you are a good person.”

Allie pondered Kaidan's words. She was definitely having some self-doubt about her actions back then, wondering if she'd have been able to save more lives by listening to Kaidan and, at the very least, arresting Rana. She didn't, and she didn't again on Korlus a few years later. And now people were dead. Innocent people. She pressed her lips together and hung her head.

“Hey,” Kaidan reached out and covered her hand with his. “You couldn't have known. Don't beat yourself up about this, not with everything else you have on your plate.”

Allie looked at their joined hands and smiled. “I know, it's just hard to get my brain to stand down sometimes, you know?”

He gave her hand a squeeze and stood. “If you need to talk some more, you know where to find me.”

She watched him disappear around the corner and sighed when the doors to the observation lounge hissed shut. That conversation, even for how short it was, helped. Kaidan always seemed to know what to say and she was glad he wanted to be back on board.