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#Miner'sRespite – April 6, 2017
Va'ynna is currently in a hushed conversation with Aylena behind the bar, though she doesn't look as happy and relieved as one would assume now that her boss has returned. She's wearing her usual red dress.
Tara enters the Respite, taking a moment to brush the snow off of her boots to make sure she doesn't drag any in. She's wearing her usual winter clothes, including colorful toque and mittens. For reasons unknown she winces slightly as she brushes. Once confident she won't make a mess of the floor she glances to Leah.
Leah enters just after Tara, following suit in clearing the snow from her clunky, unlaced black boots by stomping in place a bit. She's dressed in a pair of form fitting jeans and her thick, poofy light blue winter jacket. She removes her gloves and shoves them into her pocket as she looks to Tara. A frown starts at her lips as she notices the wincing, but a bright smile slowly grows from it as she spots Tara's colorful hat. A
small reminder that progress was being made. "I can't wait for winter to be over." she complains with a sigh.
Leah stares blankly at Tara for a moment, blinking a few times. "What happens-.... Oh! You don't-..." she trails off, simply shaking her head causing her ponytail to bounce back and forth, "No more snow. No more shoveling. No more freezing our butts off everyday on our way to work!"
Leah once more finds herself staring blankly at Tara. Her bright smile returns after a moment and her shoulders bounce as a chuckle escapes her. She brings a hand to her mouth and shakes her head apologetically. "I'm sorry!" she says through her chuckling, "Of course it does you goofball. It's gonna start getting warmer and the snow will start to melt." She gently nudges Tara forward and begins to walk alongside her. Suddenly
she scrunches up her nose and glances over to Tara, "So... You never saw snow before coming here...?" she asks.
Tara starts to head towards the bar upon being nudged, looking Aylena and Va'ynna's way. She shakes her head slightly. "No." she says, quickly going quiet as she approaches her employer. She stands quietly on the other side of the counter, watching the two asari with her mitten-wearing hands folded in front of her.
Va'ynna gives a small wave at the new arrivals and turns towards them, not having noticed them before now. She speaks some more before ending the convresation with Aylena, but nothing audible to anyone but the old asari. She looks very tired after the many long days, and her brief smile to Tara is very forced.
Leah glances briefly once more over to Tara, the smile remaining on her face. "The first of many new experiences." she says confidently, reaffirming what she promised Tara: This new life of hers is for good. Nobody is going to take her back to her old life. Nobody. She leans against the counter as they reach it and she returns Va'ynna's wave.
Aylena also turns to face them once they arrive. The asari's blue long-sleeved shirt cover her injuries, but her stiff and careful walk towards the counter gives it away that she hasn't fully recovered. "Can I have a word with you, Mercier?" she says, skipping the pleasantries. "In private."
Leah furrows her brow at Aylena's request. "Uhh.... Sure?" she says, shooting a quick, curious look Va'ynna's way as if looking for some sort of indication as to what this might be about. She begins to unzip her jacket as she pushes away from the counter and begins to make her way around it, "Is everything alright....?" she asks as she nears Aylena.
Va'ynna walks over to the counter after Aylena, and looks at Tara. The asari's tired expression offers no explanation, though her unhappiness might. "Let's get the kitchen ready," she gives the awaited instruction, sounding no less tired than she appears. "Abnus should be here before it gets busy."
Tara immediately gives a nod and heads towards the door to the back, stopping on the way to the kitchen to remove her jacket, hat and mittens. Underneath she's wearing a light blue long-sleeved t-shirt with jeans. Her hands are wrapped in gauze, protecting the medigel coating underneath. A few small, congealed cuts are visible on her fingertips, which are not covered by the gauze.
Aylena nods and gestures towards the door to the back before starting towards it. Like usual, her face is not giving anything away that she doesn't have to. "It's not urgent, but I'd like to address it regardless," she says. "We can discuss it in your office."
Leah gives a couple of nods as she leads the way towards her office. "Yeah, of course." she offers. The word 'address' gives cause for concern, but she doesn't press any further. She'll find out soon enough what all this is about anyway. She finishes removing her jacket and folds it over her arm along the way. Beneath it, she's wearing a simple white short-sleeved t-shirt. "It's good to see you back." she says, casting a glance
Va'ynna waits for Tara to pass her before making her way to the back herself. The asari would usually go to change into something more practical, but the signs of injury on Tara makes her pause, her fatigue giving way to worry. Once they're inside the kitchen and the doors close behind them, she increases her pace to get beside her. "Wait," she says. "Your hands – what... happened?"
Tara looks down at the floor, loosely grabbing one hand in the other. "I... broke a glass." she says quietly.
Aylena does not return the smile. "It's good to be out of the hospital," she says. "I'm not yet ready to fully return to work, which Atana isn't taking too well." She enters the security office and waits for Leah to follow before continuing.
Va'ynna frowns deeply. "Oh... I...," she begins before taking a few seconds to gather her thoughts. "I'm sorry to hear that. If... you don't think you can work, you don't have to." The last thing Va'ynna wants is more work right now, and she's hoping the offer is declined, but she'd feel even worse if she never extended it.
Leah enters the office with Aylena and closes the door. She crosses the room to hang her jacket, giving a glance over her shoulder as she does. "That's not surprising. She's been working her butt off. I'm doing what I can to help out but-..." she sighs and trails off as she turns to face Aylena, deciding it's probably better for her to wait and see what all of this is about before lecturing Aylena on how to treat her employees.
She props her smile back up and bounces on her toes. "Nevermind. We'll manage. So what did you need to talk to me about?"
Aylena brings up her omni-tool and after a few taps, the security terminal comes to life. "I've looked into the tattoos on Ms Tara," she says before pictures of Tara's tattoo and barcode show up along with the slave ownership documentation on the terminal. Her tone gives away her displeasure at what she uncovered. "Could you fill me in on her situation, and why this was not disclosed prior to her employment?"
Va'ynna tilts her head. It really bothers Va'ynna more than it should when she doesn't know where the line is drawn, in professional and personal relationships alike. "Are... you sure?" she asks. "If you need a day off, that's fine. I... don't want you to get hurt."
Leah furrows her brow as she studies the terminal. A few seconds of charged silence fill the room as she looks the tattoos over. When she looks back to Aylena, her expression is one of confusion. But it quickly shifts to frustration. "You looked into-..." she begins and stops, closing her eyes and shaking her head. When she opens her eyes again, she lets out a deep sigh. "Why was it not 'disclosed'-.." she airquotes, "...that a
bunch of disgusting lowlives decided they owned her?" she asks, giving a humorless chuckle. It's clear that she's trying to keep her composure as best as she can. Which isn't working out too well. "Oh, I don't know. Why didn't you 'disclose'-..." she airquotes once again, "...to Redrock that a bunch of people were trying to kill you before hiring us on as security? Huh?" She only pauses for a brief moment to allow for a
smug smirk before continuing. "I'm going to guess it's probably for a pretty similar reason. Because I didn't want to draw attention to it, okay?" A harsh frown crosses her lips and she folds her arms across her chest as she studies Aylena.
Tara shifts uncomfortably, not used to being put in this kind of situation. Still, she knows only one response. "Yes, ma'am."
Aylena raises an eyebrow as Leah rants. "That is a discussion I will have with Mr. Wolfe, but you make a fair argument," she says, her hard expression loosening up, "but how does repeating my mistake justify your decision?" She waits a moment before letting out a long sigh. "My contact made sure to mention how little effort they required to obtain this information," she says, "so while I have no respect for the
Va'ynna sighs. Maybe she should ask Leah before going to change. "If you... insist," she says, "but please... let me handle all the tasks that could make your injury worse."
Va'ynna nods. "Why... do you always say yes to me without question?" she asks, in an effort to make conversation just as much as her own curiousity. "We're coworkers, and... you're better at this than I am." Maybe that's similar to what D'Inea feels about her, why her pleas for more staffing seems to go unanswered for so long.
Tara furrows her eyebrows, glancing up at Va'ynna. "You're... my superior." she says, as if the answer is obvious. She moves to start getting the kitchen ready, glancing towards the asari for any indication that she shouldn't.
Leah taps her foot as she continues to stare Aylena down. She briefly looks caught off guard by how understanding Aylena immediately becomes and her expression softens somewhat. "I-..." she begins but sighs before her entire demeanor cracks and she suddenly looks quite overwhelmed. She brings a hand up to her forehead and pushes a strand of hair out of her face. "I don't know..." she says softly. She sucks a deep breath in
through her nose and shakes her head. Aylena already knows enough, so she might as well come clean. "I have no idea what I'm doing, Aylena. I just-..." she glances towards the floor and takes a second to regain her composure before looking back to the asari. "I was on Omega. It doesn't matter why, okay?" she explains, waving off any questions Aylena might have before she can even ask them, "I'm sure you've heard enough
stories to know how Omega is. I walked down the wrong alley on the wrong night and a few twisted sickos thought that they could make a few easy credits." She shrugs her shoulders, "Turned out maybe it wouldn't be so easy." she says, zero sympathy for the slavers she killed that day. "Tara was there. I couldn't just leave her so I-... I helped her escape. They were-..." her gaze lowers, growing somewhat distant as she
continues to ramble, "...They were going to sell her. Like an object. Or a-... a pet! I wasn't going to just let that happen." Regaining eye contact, she bites down hard, gradually sounding more sure of herself. "That girl deserves a chance at a real life, Aylena. I know it's dangerous, but I'm working on it, alright? I'm not going to let anything happen. Just-... give me a little more time, okay? I've been trying to
talk to her about having the tattoos removed it's just-... She's been through a lot." She takes another deep breath once finished, studying Aylena's face for a reaction. "So... So that's the truth. There's your 'disclosure'..."
Va'ynna is quiet for a few seconds, her shoulders dropping slightly as she feels a bit at a loss. She doesn't stop Tara from starting to work, however. "That's... only right until the training is over," she says, "and..." she looks down as she struggles to make something resembling a coherent answer. "I... guess I don't want to be seen that way. We... work together, not... you for me."
Tara pauses her work, closing the cabinet she was looking through to glance in Va'ynna's direction. After a moment's silent thought she nods. "Okay." She retains a thoughtful, almost slightly distracted look as she resumes her work.
Aylena listens carefully, her expression remaining unchanging throughout to avoid betraying the thoughts behind it. When Leah finishes speaking, she gives a small nod. "I understand," she says. "I believe you did the right thing, for the batarian caste system has no place in this galaxy. Not even on Omega." She taps on her omni-tool to restore the security terminal to stand-by, and shuts off her omni-tool.
"Aside from removing the tattoos," she begins, "do you have other plans to ensure her safety long-term?"
Va'ynna turns away and starts to work on the dextro-segment of the kitchen in silence, looking thoughtful as she tried to find something to break said silence. Even if they've worked together for a while, Va'ynna never felt she made progress getting closer with Tara than the awkward first day. Nonetheless, she was grateful for her help in the kitchen, but it would take much, much more than that for her to
Tara continues her work taking out the various pots and pans that will no doubt be needed for the upcoming workday. She remains silent, not one to small talk. Or talk at all, when she doesn't need to. Her work is noticably slower than usual, and there's occasionally a subtle twitch on her face when she fails to hide the pain in her palms when grabbing some of the heavier objects.
Leah breathes a deep sigh of relief as she hears Aylena's approval. Upon hearing Aylena's follow-up question, she falls silent and bites down on her lower lip. After a moment's contemplation, she reluctantly shakes her head. "If I'm being honest? No. I'm just doing what feels right, Aylena." she sighs. "I'm hoping that without the tattoos there won't be anything I need to keep her safe from..." She shrugs her shoulders,
knowing damn well things are never that simple. "She has a place to live. A job. She has a family. People who care about her. People who will protect her. A life of her own Right now that has to be enough... And if some day someone comes for her...?" Her expression hardens. It's only for a split second, but it's enough to be noticeable. "I'll make sure they wish they hadn't." Her gaze nearly immediately lowers. It was
times like this- thinking of the possibility that someone may one day come for Tara- when she was almost grateful for her biotics. And ashamed for being grateful.
Aylena sighs. "I may be close to my final life stage," she begins, "but this – running away, pretending to be someone I'm not – is unfamiliar territory to me. I thought my concealment was perfect." Only now does the old asari break eye contact. "But it was all a matter of time at the end, and now all I have is hope that they'll relent for another twenty days." She pauses and sighs. "What I mean to say is
that this isn't a way to live," she says. "Unless you stop them first, they'll have every advantage when they strike."
Leah's gaze lowers further until she's staring at an arbitrary spot on the floor. Aylena wasn't saying anything that she didn't already know, but it was somehow worse to hear someone say it aloud. Makes it more real. She gives a slow, distant nod. "I appreciate your concern, Aylena..." she says, before looking back to the asari, "...But we're going to be fine." she continues, forcing a smile back into place as if that'll sell
it. "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Tara gets the life she deserves. Whatever that takes."
Aylena places a hand on her shoulder. "I'm afraid I can't give you any good advice about her security," she says, "but you shouldn't worry about her employment here." She lets go off her shoulder. "Atana assured me she's more than qualified."
Leah's smile grows a bit more genuine and she gives a firm nod. "I-... Thank you, Aylena." she says, the sincerity in her voice making it known that this means a great deal to her. She sucks in a deep breath, happy to have that over with, and straightens her posture to stand up straight. "...And I shouldn't have tried to keep this from you. I'm sorry."
Aylena returns the smile. "I have a lot to apologize for, as well," she says. "I trusted my concealment too much to give Redrock Agency the necessary information, and put good people like you at great risk." She pauses for a moment before adding, "I both dread and look forward to the day I can safely resume my real identity."
Leah gives an understanding nod. "We all make mistakes. How about we just work on getting through the next month so you can put all of that behind you?"
Aylena nods. "I do have a lot waiting at my desk, so I'll let you get back to it," she says as she opens the door. "Keep them safe, Mercier," she adds before starting on her way through the corridor.