#Hospital – August 20, 2014

Jason is sitting up in the same bed as when Va'ynna and Vasquez visited him. He's holding his omni-tool in his hand and staring at the interface.

Ilyna appears in the doorway, surveying the room until she spots Jason and a smile forms. "There you are," she says before starting to approach him. "What happened?" The modest, almost black casual dress should make her immediately familiar. She carries no baggage with her. The asari seems a little bit tired after the trip.

Jason allows his omni-tool's interface to dissipate as he looks up from it. "Oh, shit." he says, a smile crossing his lips, "Isn't this a nice surprise... And all it took was a couple gunshot wounds. Maybe I should get shot more often." he muses. He reaches over and sets his omni-tool next to a vase of flowers on the small table beside his desk. With a shrug he acknowledges her question, "You know. Work."

I told you I was going to visit.

Ilyna takes a seat by the table. "What was your job about, if that's not a secret?"

Jason considers it for a moment before speaking. "Client needed some information. We've had some issues tied to the target previously, so it was an opportunity to tie up some loose ends and get paid to do it." he shrugs, "Can't beat that, right?"

Ilyna nods, seeming thoughtful for a moment. "What kind of issues?" she says. "Is it from when I was a mercenary?"

Jason raises an eyebrow. After a moment, he silently shakes his head. "No, didn't have anything to do with the message I sent... But I suppose we should probably talk about that, huh?" he sighs.

Ilyna frowns. "If you want to," she says. "I'm okay if you don't."

Jason shakes his head. "No, no... It's okay." he sighs. He lowers his voice and inches towards the edge of the bed. "We had a job. A company lost contact with their mining colony. We went out to check on them and-... Well, it's like I said in my message, Ilyna. It was the Evening Star all over again. Was a massacre. We barely got out of there alive. Those things-... they were everywhere..."

Are you sure it was the same as what we saw on the Evening Star?

Jason stares at her for a moment. "Well, you know... With all the creepy mechanical monsters I face down on a daily basis, it's hard to be a hundred percent but yeah I'm pretty fucking sure." he says, raising his voice a little higher than intended. He goes quiet for a moment, listening to see if his sudden outburst disturbed anyone before continuing, "Sorry... But-... Yeah. I mean, they weren't exact. But they were so similar..." he shakes his head, "Too similar to just be a coincidence, Ilyna."

Ilyna contemplates this for a few seconds before nodding. "Sorry," she says. "I was just hoping... that was over with the Evening Star... and the quarian."

Well, that makes two of us. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case.

Jason sighs. "Linda has some information to go on. Some kind of machine cult... She thinks they're creating these things..."

Ilyna raises an eyebrow. "I can't imagine why someone would do that," she says, "but... someone had to make what made them like that, right?"

Jason nods. "Makes sense." he says with a shrug, "Our doctor talked about it like it was some sort of... disease. Not sure what sort of disease could turn someone into the fucking tin man, but shit... Whoever engineered that thing has to be a special kind of 'fucked up'."

Ilyna sighs. "I think we've seen enough of these people when we both were mercenaries," she says. "That could do something so terrible."

Jason snorts and lays his head back against his pillow. "Ain't that the truth..." he mutters, "But this-... These people need to be stopped." he says bluntly. He goes quiet for a few moments before facing Ilyna once again, "We should've made damn sure that artifact was destroyed when we had the chance."

Ilyna | "Do you think that's behind it?" she asks with a raised eyebrow. "And how do you and Vasquez plan to stop it?"

Jason lowers his gaze and shakes his head, looking somewhat dejected. "I-..." he rolls his shoulders, "I don't know, Ilyna. I don't know if the artifact is behind it. I don't know how we're going to stop it. I don't know a whole lot." he admits, "But what I do know is that we've got a lead, and we need to follow up on it. If it is that fucking artifact, and this... machine cult is using it to create these things? Then that's on us. We went to that planet. We brought it back. And we left it intact. If it's not, or-... fuck, if more of those artifacts exist?" he shakes his head again, "I don't know..." he repeats.

Ilyna takes a deep breath, and sighs, looking a little bit conflicted. "I thought I was done with this," she says. "Being a mercenary, I mean, but... this is on me, too. I also had faith that the artifact would just drift off into space and be lost forever."

Jason shakes his head and holds up his hand, "No-... I'm not trying to guilt you, Ilyna. You wanted out of this life, and I don't blame you. I mean-... certainly wouldn't turn you away if you wanted in..." he smirks somewhat, "But don't feel like you need to involve yourself. Me and Linda are going to do what we can."

Ilyna gives somewhat of a reassuring smile. "I won't feel guilty now," she says, "but if this threaten us all one day because I didn't do my part to make a difference... I will." She looks away, and sighs. "I'll have to think about it. I can't just pick up my weapon and get back to it."

And I'm not asking you to. Think on it and make the decision that's right for you. I won't think any less of you either way, Ilyna.

I promised my mother I put it behind me, for good, but I'm lying if I told you I know what to do with my life.

Ilyna sighs. "We went through some terrible things, but I also felt we made a difference."

Jason reaches out and places a hand on the asari's arm. "We did make a difference... But there's more ways to make a difference than picking up a gun. You're smart. I don't have a doubt in my mind that you'll figure something out. This life-... What I do. What we did? Anyone with half a brain and a penchant for recklessness can go out there and wave a gun around." he shrugs and his smirk grows a bit, "I mean, I certainly make it look good, but still... You got away from all that. Take that opportunity and do something with it."

How else can I make a difference if what I decline today is what threaten everyone we care about tomorrow?

Ilyna glances away for a moment. "I'll try to figure something out," she nods. "I definitely don't want to go back to the military,... even if I could, but it's all I've known for over two-hundred years."

Jason pats the asari's arm and then pulls his hand back. "Welcome to my world." he says with a dry chuckle, "Hard to see past the fighting when it's all you've ever done. Like I was telling you before, I worked a bit of construction back on Earth. But after everything I've been through it just felt... hollow. Unimportant." he sighs, "And in the back of my mind I knew that wasn't true. Hell, I was giving people a place to live. That's good, honest work. But out here, every choice can mean the difference between life and death. Makes a normal life feel like it's moving in slow-motion."

Tarlon suggested I look into other aspects of military, like becoming a tactician, but... I told him that wasn't an option. Even if it were, I don't think I could cope with so much responsibility.

Why isn't it an option?

Actually, I'm not sure, but I suppose I should be lucky to not be charged...

Ilyna trails off, looking a little bit embarrased. "Wait, I never told you how I left the military?"

Jason looks towards the bed as he tries to recall. He shakes his head, "Not on good terms, I take it?"

Ilyna looks away. "I should have left earlier," she says, "Instead I stuck with it until it was too much, and... I couldn't take anything anymore." Ilyna sighs. "They day I arrived on Omega was when I was supposed to be back from leave." She looks back at him. "It was stupid, I know."

Jason rolls onto his side to face the asari and props his head up with his hand as he listens. "Stress makes us do crazy shit." he says, "How did they handle it? Can't imagine the military would take something like that sitting down. Are you a fugitive?"

Ilyna shakes her head. "The higher-ups dropped the charges, leaving it as an honorable discharge," she says. "One of my friends there had stood up for me." Ilyna frowns. "That eventually had her reassigned, though, and she later gave up on the military, as well."

Jason | "What ended up being the last straw?" he asks. Quickly realizing that the idiom may not translate properly, he corrects himself, "What pushed you to your breaking point? What was it about the military life that you didn't like?"

Ilyna looks thoughtful, looking towards the floor. "I... I was kept on the sidelines, more often than anyone else in my team," she says. "I felt barely tolerated by my superiors, even if my performance was more than adequate. Enila, our tech, trusted me with her life when I held up a barrier around us while she got doors open. And I never failed her, even if she sometimes had to drag me to cover after I gave everything I got."

Jason furrows his brow. "Why would they-..." he stops and sighs, "Because of your... condition...?"

Ilyna raises her brows and glances worriedly at the divider nearest to her. She then stares at him, a faint nod giving her answer.

Jason frowns. "That's horseshit. I don't blame you for leaving..." he groans. "Fuck them. That's not what it's about. It's about trusting the person to the left and right of you. Not treating them like a freak." he continues, clearly irritated by the story, "You know I've never doubted you, right? Not for one second. There's few people in this galaxy that I'd rather have at my side when shit goes down."

Ilyna is quiet for a few more seconds, still looking worried, but a small smile forms. "I never felt you did, and I wouldn't doubt for a second you'd drag me to safety if I collapse holding up a barrier," she says, "but... I did feel trusted by the people at my side back then, too. Enila Aehan, Illeya T'Evin, Natia Yavyn... there's too many to name, but those I fought and trained with the most. I knew they would risk everything for me just as I would for them."

Jason notices her discomfort and tilts his head. "I'm sorry... I'm guessing it's not exactly something you enjoy talking about. Sounds like you made the right choice in leaving, though. If the higher-ups have it out for you then it's not exactly a 'fun ride'..." he sighs. After a short pause, he attempts to steer the conversation away in hope of getting her mind off of it, "So... How long are you in town for?"

Ilyna smiles at the change of topic, her worry slowly but surely going away. "I booked a one-way trip," she says. "I haven't decided yet, but I can stay for a while."

Jason 's smirk returns as well. "Decide on where you're gonna lay your head?" he asks, "My offer is still on the table. We've got a second floor at the agency that's barely even being used. Might have to pick up an inflatable mattress or something in town, but it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than staying at the Respite."

I'm staying this night at the Respite, but I will take you up on your offer when you are discharged from here. I had been up all night getting here, so I wanted to have to drop off my baggage before visiting you.

Jason 's smirk widens and he nods his head. "Sounds like a plan. I'll let Linda know. I'm sure she'll be happy to get the chance to see you again. Been a long time."

Ilyna nods. "I felt bad for not seeking her out last time," she says. "I'd like to see her again." She moves up a hand to cover her mouth as a yawn escapes her.

Jason turns onto his back once again and shifts on his bed. "Sounds like you could use some rest." he says with a smile, "I mean, understandable... You are, what? Like ten-thousand years old?" he teases, "Pretty soon you'll be spending your days watching soap operas and heading to bed before it's dark."

Ilyna laughs, looking a little embarrased as they're not alone in this room. "That's about nine-thousand-seven-hundred years off," she points out with a smile before standing up, "but yeah, I could use some rest. Just a nap, I think."

Jason chuckles, "Well, I was close." he says. He claps his hands together with a sigh and glances around his small portion of the room, "Well, you know where I am. Guessing I'm not goin' anywhere until they're sure everything is fine."

Send me a message when you're out.

Ilyna nods. "I'll see you again." She starts walking towards the door.

Jason interlaces his fingers behind his head and lays back. "Will do, Ilyna. I'll try not to have too much fun without you." he calls out after her, "Ain't that right Willy?"

The sound of a man's voice from the other side of the divider rings out: "SHUT UP ALREADY! I'M TRYING TO SLEEP!"

Jason snickers to himself.

Ilyna can be heard struggling to contain laughter as she disappers through the door, a wide smile on her face.

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