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#MSVJackOfDiamonds – February 19, 2018
Ilyna frowns, looking down at the table. "Part of me wishes she didn't," she says. "I… don't like being a cause of others' concern, but… I…, I'm glad she did." She looks up, and at the doorway leading to the back at the ship. "I still remember how angry I was when nobody ensured I knew Ehanis was going on the mission to Rakhana," she says. It was partially Ilyna's fault for not paying attention to work
documents, but they knew she had taken time off to spend more time with Li. "I… would have realized that, I hope, were I not in the state I was in."
Halisi briefly gains a faint smile as she listens. "Concern comes with caring." she comments, lifting her coffee and smelling it before taking a sip. "No way around it." She starts in on her yoghurt after putting down the cup, not wanting to delay for too long. "It was... a chaotic night." she says eventually, furrowing her eyebrows slightly as she thinks back. "I have barely had time to think on it."
Ilyna lets out a sigh at her comment, "I know." Bringing up that night gives her pause, however. The fear, exhaustion, concern, all rushing back to her mind. She would do everything to never experience that again, especially for Li to never experience that again. "I don't know what I'd do if you weren't there," she says in a lowered voice.
Halisi 's frown deepens slightly, prodding the yoghurt slightly with her spoon. "I don't know... I felt rather useless." she admits quietly. After some silent eating she speaks up again. "I suppose your apartment will need some repairs..."
Ilyna shakes her head at her admission. She knew she couldn't disagree with how it felt to her, even if she was far from it to Ilyna back then. Besides, she has pieced together most of what happened before her rescue over the course of the day. "You turned out to be anything but useless," she says with a small smile. The apartment was the last thing on her mind, but Halisi had a point; Ilyna may not have a
Halisi is in the middle of another sip of her coffee, and so doesn't respond right away. "I don't think there's any doubt Redrock will be there to help." she points out with a faint, reassuring smile as she puts the cup down, gently placing one of her hands on Ilyna's wrist. "And if there's anything I can do..." she trails off, shrugging slightly. "You know I'm there."
Ilyna nods, returning her smile. "I… wouldn't want to burden you more, you have Oxaris to worry about when we get home and…," Ilyna sighs. It's clear she wants to help, and nothing bothers Ilyna more right now than being unable to help her sister, and Li is clearly bothered by something she doesn't want to talk about. "I suppose me and Li can… stay with you." She frowns as she adds, "Until we can get the
Halisi nods. "Certainly." she agrees. "My... apartment isn't very big, but I'll figure something out, alright? If... you're comfortable with that. You shouldn't have to rent a room somewhere while repairs are made." Her yoghurt is just about finished but she still has coffee left.
Ilyna looks down at the table for a moment. That does mean she has to confront her feelings for Halisi, maybe sooner rather than later if she's going to stay with her. "Of… course, I'm comfortable with that," she says, not looking up. "Thank you." She pats Li's back gently to get her attention. "What do you think, Li?" Ilyna asks. "Should we stay with Halisi for a few days until our apartment is fixed?"
Li looks up from her drawing as she's addressed, blinking. She studies Halisi for a moment with a hard-to-read expression before nodding, her expression softening a bit.
Halisi shoots Li a small smile. "It'll be fun! Promise." she says before turning her attention back to Ilyna. She's pulled back her hand a while ago to resume her coffee drinking. "I expect I'll be rather busy at the clinic, so it shouldn't be too crowded." she assures, a faint frown briefly crossing her face at the thought of the injured.
Elena is still down in the cargo hold. It's not clear if she's managed to sneak in a nap or two at any point, but she looks tired to say the least at any rate. Still working on repairs for her drone, but she doesn't seem to be making much progress. She's manually replacing wires. It's slow work, just to keep busy. Her only company is old rock classics playing over her omni-tool sat on a nearby crate. She's wearing
Ilyna strokes Li's back before retracting her hand, smiling as it seems to have improved the girl's mood at least a little. "Then it's decided," she says with a weak chuckle. "Thank you." She looks thoughtful for a moment, glancing over to the stairs leading down. "I… wish I could help you at the clinic," she says, "but… the least I can do is make sure you come home to a clean apartment and dinner on the
Halisi furrows her eyebrows as she sips her coffee again. "That's-... that's really not nec-..." she cuts herself off, letting out a quiet sigh and a slight chuckle. "I suppose it would be hypoctricial to turn down help." she muses. "Just... you two focus on putting all this behind you." Another sip of coffee. Not a whole lot left.
Jason meanders his way into the hold, fresh beer held by the neck. He's doing his part to put a dent in the alcohol reserves. Somebody has to look out for Lucy and make sure she doesn't drink herself to death, might as well be him. He seems pretty aimless. Restless. Only moving because he doesn't want to sit still. He makes his way over by Elena's side, silently watching her work just to have somewhere to look.
Elena doesn't notice Jason right away, her senses dulled by lacking rest and sporadic beers. The music is fairly quiet, just some background noise to fill out the large, empty space of the hold. She's humming along quietly to the music, an antique song about gasoline-fuelled cars and the vast highways of the old USA. Only as she turns to grab her omni-tool for some fabrication does she realizes that she's not alone,
a slight flinch, her hand hovering over her omnitool for a moment before she scoops it up and turns around to face him, sitting against the crate the drone is on instead of kneeling next to it, arms resting casually against her knees. "Fuck... you're quieter than you look."
Jason cocks a lopsided smirk, a hollow snicker escaping him. "Sorry about that..." he offers before giving a small nod towards the drone. "Take a lot of damage back there?" he asks, seemingly just trying to make small talk.
Ilyna can't help but chuckle as well. She has her own similar hypocricies, so she couldn't fault Halisi for it. "We will," she says, a hint of resolve in her voice. "You should too, Halisi." Ilyna admired her for her strength under pressure, but she also knew it had a limit. "None of us came out of this without scars, and…. If you ever need to talk…," she averts her gaze for a moment. "You know where to
Halisi 's gaze falls briefly, a very faint smile crossing her lips as she nods softly, a surprisingly fragile expression on her face for just a moment as her facade of inexhaustable strength threatens to break for the second time of the trip. A whiff of coffee and she holds it together. "Thank you." she says quietly, her appreciation clear as she looks back at Ilyna.
Elena gives a half-hearted snicker of her own, turning the music down. "Yeah... those fuckers wrecked the damn think when they breached." she comments, her gaze wandering out across the cargo hold for a while as she sighs.
Jason gives a few small nods as he takes a step closer and examines the drone as if he has any idea what he's looking at. Yep. It's a drone, alright. Plenty of.... droney things on it. Those are wires. He sure knows a wire when he sees one. Mmhmm. He furrows his brow as he studies it before shrugging his shoulders and stepping back. "You gonna be able to get it up and running again...?"
Ilyna places a hand on her shoulder, looking apologetic as she notices her expression faltering for a moment. She was happy to be of help, to be allowed to. If only she could be that to Ehanis, who she has barely seen during the last eight hours. Ilyna retracts her hand after a few moments, but she doesn't say anything.
Jason once again gives a number of small, subdued nods, eyes still affixed to the drone. After a few moments in silence, he draws in a deep breath. "I know we didn't get off on the right foot." he says, their previous discussions coming to mind, "But-... As far as I'm concerned? We're good." There's not much energy behind his attempt at making amends, but it is sincere. That much is clear. His gaze moves to his beer as he
Halisi shoots Ilyna another small smile, and finds herself finishing the last of her coffee. She seems a little reluctant to do so, but she does stand up regardless. Work awaits, and Oxaris needs her. "Sorry I can't stay." she sighs.
Elena briefly raises both hands - one organic and one mechanical - palms towards Jason. "We're good." she agrees with a sigh, studying him. Her gaze eventually goes away and she briefly sucks in her lips before letting out a breath. "That was some fucked up shit." she says with a shake of her head as she looks back at him.
Ilyna does her best to hide her disappointment, though some does shine through; which is immediately followed by guilt. "It's fine," she says. "I'll… make sure to stop by the infimary once before I go to bed." She lets out a brief chuckle before quickly preempting any potential concerns the doctor might have, "Just to talk, I mean."
Halisi smirks faintly, giving another soft nod. "Looking forward to it." she says, her smirk growing slightly before her gaze turns to Li. She exchanges a wave with the girl before departing the galley, heading down the stairs.
Jason gives another set of nods, a humorless snort escaping him in the process. "It was some fucked up shit..." he agrees in a mutter, finally looking to Elena. "...But we made it out and my friend's daughter is back with her. Safely. In no small part thanks to you and your crew. So-..." he nods, "...So yeah. Thanks." he offers, a small amount of discomfort showing through before his gaze returns to the drone.
Ilyna returns the grin, and watches her leave before turning her attention back to Li, a small smile still present. She doesn't say anything as she tries to get a look at what she has been drawing.
Elena nods faintly, her gaze falling back to some crates across the hold as another sigh sounds. "Yeah..." she mumbles without any particular enthusiasm. "Guess you were right, huh...?" she says with a rather hard look at him. She seems to realize she sounds more bitter than intended, her shoulders dropping. "James didn't deserve what happened..." she comments, biting down on her lower lip and crossing her arms over
her knees as she shifts her legs slightly, looking off to the side and shaking her head. She pushes off from the deck, standing up. "Roja didn't."
Li has meticulously covered a whole paper in black. Aside from a grouping of red dots in the middle. She's still focused filling out the last corners.
Ilyna tilts her head, but suppresses a sigh as the drawing reminds her of the other one she found among hers. The one she showed Halisi. "What are you drawing?" she asks, some concern evident in her voice despite her best efforts to hide it.
Jason lowers his gaze briefly. An 'I told you so' is the last thing that he was hoping for out of all of this. "No... They didn't." he agrees despite not having known James. Regardless, nobody deserves an end like that. Turned against the people you love, little more than a hollowed out husk. A shadow of who you were. "From what I've heard, it sounds like James was a hell of a guy." he sighs, "Wish I would've had the chance to
Li doesn't look up from the paper as she continues to run the pencil back and forth to fill out empty spaces, concentration in her face. "The monster." she replies matter-of-factly.
Elena nods a few times. "Yeah..." she says quietly before finally returning her gaze to Jason, studying him. "He was." A moment of uneasy silence follows. "You fought these things before?" she asks rather suddenly, already aware of the answer of course.
Ilyna raises an eyebrow. "The monster?" she asks, hoping for an elobation. The collectors they've fought had a yellow glow to them, if any, but there was one exception: the one they fought in the other freighter. What used to be Li's mother.
Jason draws in another deep breath as he takes another long sip from his beer, nodding to the woman while he lowers the bottle once more. "Never gets any easier." he admits flatly. "Seeing what they're capable of? What they can do to people? All those people just-... changed." He shakes his head, quickly taking another slug of his drink to temper himself. He looks away and it's pretty obvious it's not something he's
comfortable talking about. "...Things won't be the same around here." he says, shifting gears and opting for the less troubling topic. "She's gonna need you now more than ever." he adds, casting a brief glance and tilt of his head in the general direction of the bridge.
Ilyna frowns. "What can you tell me about the monster?" she asks. Ilyna was mentally kicking herself for risking making her trauma worse, but on the other hand this might be the best, if not only way to get her to talk about what's on her mind.
Elena sighs heavily, glancing up briefly and nodding again. "Yeah..." she says. Her gaze wanders. To the cargo module door. To across the hold. Eventually she looks back at him. "Thought they got me too." she says. She pats her thigh lightly. "One of 'em dug in good. After what you told me? Yeah... figured that was it." she explains, her voice empty. Another nod and a look towards the stairs. There's a tension to
Ilyna sighs and shifts closer, placing an arm over her shoulder. She leans her head to the side to get a look at her even as she focuses on her drawing. "Li?" she says, offering a reassuring smile. "No monster is going to hurt you again. Do you understand?" She wish the 'again' wasn't necessary, but there was no use in lying to her. "Because I won't let it," she says.
Li blinks, stopping her drawing to look up at Ilyna, her expression inscrutable as she stares at her in silence for a moment. Eventually a small nod follows, and she puts the pencil down, leaning against Ilyna.
Jason isn't doing much better with handling the conversation despite the booze in his system. It's clearly an uncomfortable topic for him. Something he's had to keep restricted to the small circle of people in the know before Horizon. It was difficult enough to talk about it with Vasquez, Ilyna, and the rest of his team, but discussing it so openly with someone he barely even knows feels wrong somehow. Like sharing some deep,
personal secret that he's been forced to choke back and repress for years. His gaze moves to her hand as she pats her leg and he gives a small nod. "...We don't really know how it's transmitted." he says softly. "Sometimes it happens quickly." he explains, his gaze turning a bit distant as his mind returns to Ogofau. To Jenya. "One moment you're on your feet fighting the good fight, sticking it to the enemy, then one of
those fucks gets ahold of you and-..." he gives a slight shake of his head, drawing in an uneven breath as he looks back to Elena's face, "...suddenly you are the enemy. Other times? Hours." His mind turns to the colonists after Di Yu. No, the crew of the Evening Star. "Hell, longer." He bites down, forcing himself to look back to the wound in her leg with a nod of his head. "...But you'll be fine. Halisi's got a
handle on how to detect it. If she says you're clean, you're clean." he assures, silently hoping his words to be true. For his own sake as much as Elena's. He felt the creature's presence back on the 'Good Things Come'. That same ringing- that same heaviness- that same darkness as back on Di Yu.
Elena seems to grow increasingly uneasy as Jason speaks, an uncomfortable, not quite convincing nod following his final comment. "Yah." she agrees, more for her own peace of mind than anything. Silence returns again. Just the muted sounds of the music for several seconds. "Alliance is gonna tear those Collector cabrones apart, you know. No way they're sitting on their asses." she says with a shake of her head,
Ilyna does her best to keep her calm as Li stares at her, but there's some uncertainty in her expression at the girl's hard to read face. Her smile widens when she puts the pencil down and moves closer to her. "Come here," she winds her free arm around her and pulls her close, planting a kiss on the top of her head. Ilyna's neck is definitely protesting her movements, but that was unimportant right now.
Jason finds himself biting his tongue, causing him to fall silent for a few charged seconds. She was a marine, just like he was. In the same position he was years ago, holding on to hope that the Alliance was making moves behind the scenes and it was only a matter of time before they would swoop in and save the day. After giving so much to the Alliance, it was only natural to put faith in them. Given the prosthetic, it's clear
Elena has probably given her fair share. You always want to believe that the horse you backed is going to be the winning one. The one to step up and make things right. Hell, despite the anger and frustration, most nights Jason is still right there, trying to convince himself that people like Captain Riley are out there fighting the good fight. But on days like today, when a good woman is forced to drink to the memory
of her husband, the hope he so desperately wants to find in the Alliance fades behind the memory Agent Lessard. A smug asshole. Those are the ones calling the shots from behind their desks. Men who can weaponize a datapad and doom entire colonies with their inaction. Jason catches himself as a bit of that frustration begins to bubble to the surface once again. "...Yeah. Let's hope so." he decides, less convincingly than
intended. The last thing he wants to do is dash Elena's hope after what she's been through, so he's quick to give another gesture towards the drone with a nod of his head. "I should let you get back to your work." he says, forcing a shallow smile into place that doesn't quite reach his eyes, "I just figured I should-..." he stammers, "...I didn't want to leave things the way they were..."
Elena nods a couple of times. Jason's reaction doesn't exactly go unnoticed, but she doesn't comment on it. "We're good." she repeats with a sigh. After a moment's contemplation she digs a hand into one of her pockets, pulling something out in a closed hand. She opens it to show a pair of dogtags, her gaze lingering on them for a moment before looking at Jason. Ryan Bennett. "Grabbed 'em during the escape." she
Jason's gaze moves to the dogtags and he inhales deeply through his nose. The man died saving lives. Certainly deserved more than to be forgotten on some alien ship. He gives a small nod. "If you want I can make sure they find their way back to the Alliance. Back to his family..." he offers as his eyes rise to meet hers once more, "...Let them know what-..." he takes a step towards Elena and lets out a small grunt as his
aching muscles protest when he lowers into a crouch to better see the dogtags. He has to crane his neck a bit to read them. "Let 'em know what Ryan Bennett did out there."
Elena nods sincerly. "Had a feeling you'd offer." she confirms, tilting her hand while lifting it, so that the dogtags are dangling by the chain for Jason to grab. "Don't got a lot of contacts back on Earth, so yeah... take 'em. Make sure they know." she says with another nod. "Ain't nobody that deserves to disappear like that... especially one of our own."
Jason's gaze remains fixed to the dogtags as they dangle from Elena's hand. He gently cradles the hanging tags in his free cybernetic hand, pulling them towards him so he can study them up close for a moment. Ryan Bennett. Another victim. More pain. More suffering. More loss. With a deep breath, he frees the chain from Elena's hand and closes his own around it. Amazing how such a tiny object can be so heavy. Just a small set
of tags with words and numbers. But with its delivery comes news of a life ended. A family upended. "...Yeah. Of course." he agrees softly with a small nod as he pulls himself back to his feet. "It'll get home." He takes a couple of steps back as he makes to take his leave.
Elena 's gaze falls slightly as she lets go of the tags, and another nod follows as she meets his gaze again before sitting back down in front of the drone with a quiet grunt of pain. There's nothing else to be said. It wasn't something new to either of them. Didn't mean it didn't weigh on her. She didn't know the man. But he'd been one of them. And he'd died fighting by their side.
Elena 's gaze falls slightly as she lets go of the tags, and another nod follows as she meets his gaze again before sitting back down in front of the drone with a quiet grunt of pain. "Good." she says quietly, her only response to his words. There's nothing else to be said. It wasn't something new to either of them. Didn't mean it didn't weigh on her. She didn't know the man. But he'd been one of them. And he'd died