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#RedrockAgency – August 15, 2018
Vasquez shakes her head in response to the apology. That's hardly what she's looking for. "Not much." she says with a sigh. "The place was a mess, but all our team found was this datapad." she explains, holding the collapsed device out for Ilyna to have a look at. "Looks like Mian copied Wenera's data."
Ilyna takes the datapad and looks it over. She has not seen the data on Wenera's OSD as her focus was elsewhere at the time, but she takes Vasquez' word for it. "It wasn't this bad when I moved in with them," she says while looking at the picture. "Mian's always been a slob, though. Ehanis complained about that a lot." She sighs and hands the datapad back, and looks back up at Vasquez. "I never thought to ask
Vasquez raises an eyebrow. "Wenera gave it to her. I thought you new." she says, accepting the datapad and collapsing it again. "As for why she chose Ehanis? I don't know any more than you do there." she admits with a frown as she turns and starts to head down the corridor.
Li arrives in the rec room soon enough, looking for a moment before spotting Jason and heading over towards the table. "Hello." she says with a tilt of her head, her voice quiet.
Jason begins to address Li as he hears her coming down the hall outside the door, raising his voice to be heard as he rustles through the cabinet. "Not sure if you've eaten breakfast yet. How about some totally-healthy-and-entirely-nutritious-..." he begins, falling silent as Li steps into the rec room and giving a gaze towards the door as if waiting for Ilyna. When she doesn't appear, he lowers his voice before continuing,
"...Sugary-delicious-cereal-goodness...?" he decides on, pulling out a box of cereal containing a goofy, poorly drawn, cartoon varren on the front and setting it onto the counter so Li can see it. He's been passing the sugary cereal off to Vasquez as something to keep on hand for when Li is around. Unsurprisingly, the box has been getting lighter even without Li's presence.
Li 's response is quite immediate - a few nods as her eyes widen slightly. She goes to climb into one of the chairs, looking over towards the kitchenette - and the cereal with the faintest hint of a smile briefly manifesting.
Ilyna follows Vasquez. "I'll go through the reports later today," she says. "It's probably another dead end, though." She grows increasingly uncomfortable as she walks further into the building, assuming that they're going to wherever they're holding Mian.
Vasquez sighs, nodding in agreement. "It's unrelated, as far as I can tell. Just another case of this Mian being an overaggressive nutjob. She said she'd copied the info because Prios would make for a 'good fight.'" she comments with a slight shake of her head as they near the door to the conference room.
Jason offers a lopsided smirk as he begins to pour each of them a bowl of cereal before storing it back in the cabinet. "So what's new, shortstack?" he asks as he turns away momentarily to pull a carton of milk from the fridge and pours a bit into each bowl.
Li uses her spoon to poke at the cereal, looking over at Jason as he talks to her. "Hannis is gone." she says with a slight frown, her gaze falling back to the bowl of sugary breakfast as she pushes any dry cereal down beneath the surface of the milk.
Mian is still staring at the opposite wall. "This wouldn't have been a problem if you were usually this eager to see me," Mian says.
Ilyna shakes her head. "I believe it," she says. She takes a deep but quiet breath. "Let's get this over with." She steps into the conference room and nods in greeting to Tank. "Good morning."
Tank looks over to Ilyna and nods. "Morning." she replies, lifting her coffee mug in greeting and putting the datapad away so as to be more prepared should she be needed.
Jason gives a nod as he puts away the milk. He opts to remain in the kitchenette, leaning against the counter as he stirs a spoon through his cereal. "Yeah... I heard." he says with a sigh. Gaze turning downward to his cereal, he gives a small shrug of his shoulders. "Probably just needed a break. I'm sure she'll be back soon."
Ilyna sighs. "I now wish I did, but you know very well why I don't answer your calls," she says and rounds the table to take the seat across from Mian. "So, are you going to help me today?"
Mian only looks up at Ilyna once she has taken a seat. "I don't owe you anything," she spits. "There's no point in it anyway. I don't know where Ehanis is, and I won't magically do if you just ask hard enough."
Li 's frown remains as she eats a scoop of cereal. She doesn't respond right away. "Mom is worried..."
Jason gives another nod as he takes a bite of his sugary breakfast. "Yeah..." he says, not exactly knowing what to say at first. "But that's nothing you need to worry about. Alright? We're gonna take care of all that." he finally says, propping his smile back up as he glances Li's way once again. As much as he understands Ilyna's concern, after the past couple of weeks he can't blame Ehanis for wanting to bolt. Wanting to create
some space and just... breathe. Even now, far removed from that claustrophobic ship, the memories continue to be suffocating. Looking at Li, it's impossible for him not to think of Mingxia. "So how are you doing?" he asks, leaving the question open-ended as to not drudge up the past couple of weeks for the young girl while still allowing her to talk if need be. He blinks hard a couple of times, gaze suddenly darting right
back to his cereal as a harsh look overtakes him when he's sideswiped by the sudden realization: She was right there as they just... opened fire on her mother.
Ilyna is taken aback by the hostility. "I think you can still help me, Mian," she says. "You know Ehanis better than I do, who she knows. where she could have gone. All I ask for is a lead to follow." Ilyna looks the other asari in the eyes, the hateful stare she gets in return adds to her discomfort. "Please?"
Mian snorts. "You're saying I'm too stupid to do that myself? I know a guy that lives in the same building as the maiden-whelp...," she's interrupted by a confused look from Ilyna and corrects herself, "as Wenera. She didn't pass through there, nobody out on patrol saw her, and Caro' didn't take her to town."
Vasquez furrows her eyebrows. "Hang on." she interjects, stepping closer to the table. "Why would she have passed through Wenera's building?"
Mian gives an awkward handcuffed shrug at Vasquez' question, but she is still looking at Ilyna. "I was scraping the bottom," she says. "I think Ehanis liked that whelp, and it took me five minutes to check, so why the fuck not?"
Jason gives a few more silent nods, gaze lowered into his cereal bowl. Prompting these sorts of conversations isn't exactly his specialty. As a matter of fact, he's more of an 'avoid these sorts of conversations' type of guy. And so that's exactly what he does, falling silent for a short while. "So how are you liking it over at Halisi's?" he asks before scooping a big spoonful of cereal into his mouth and looking up from his bowl.
"She making sure you take all your vitamins and stuff?" he adds, a brief hint of his smirk returning as he recalls how much of a pain in the ass Halisi was right after his surgery. Well meaning or not, he certainly doesn't envy being stuck in a house with her.
Vasquez glances over to Ilyna briefly before looking back to Mian. "She didn't mention knowing her." she says, a hint of confusion in her expression.
Li blinks, a hint of a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth for a moment. "She's nice. I like her. Mom likes her too." she says before scooping up another spoonful of cereal. She doesn't really look over towards Jason during the conversation, her attention more on her bowl than anything.
Jason finally allows his smile to fully manifest, another nod accompanying it. "Me too." he adds. And, despite his pushback towards much of Halisi's advice, it's sincere. "Even if she is a pain in my ass..." he continues in a mutter.
Mian gives another shrug. "Ehanis knowing Wenera?" she asks. "She went to the Respite almost every day for a week before going to the drell planet, don't know if they met more than once." She snorts. "I didn't give a shit then, don't give a shit now. Ehanis didn't go to her, so it's pointless now anyway."
Li doesn't acknowledge Jason's mutter - hopefully she didn't overhear it, but who knows. Her eyebrows furrow. "Are you mad at my mom too?" she asks, seemingly out of nowhere.
Jason's smile slips away and he furrows his brows in confusion. "Mad at-... No." he says with a shake of his head, "Of course not." Jabbing his spoon at his cereal, he leans a bit heavier against the counter. "Why would I be mad at Ilyna?" he asks, leaning down to scoop another bite into his mouth.
Ilyna nods to Vasquez, but she doesn't break eye contact with Mian. "What do you plan to do next?" she asks flatly. "You want to find her too, right?"
Mian grunts. "I have no fucking idea," she says. "If I still have a job when you're done with me, I'll get on with my life and figure that out in the night. I can't let that stupid brat starve me." Mian snorts. "She better hope it's soon because I'm going to be really fucking mad if it takes a hundred years and I find her in some batarian slave shop." Mian of all people knows what Ehanis is capable of, but
Vasquez listens in silence to the exchange. Her expression shifts a little, but it's hard to tell what she's thinking about.
Jason draws in a deep breath as Li mentions Vasquez, leaving his spoon to sit against the rim of the bowl. Vasquez getting angry at someone is like a fish swimming, so it certainly doesn't come as a surprise. "Yeah...?" he asks, shifting uncomfortably against the counter. "Any idea what she was angry about...?" he prods.
Ilyna stands up and takes a few steps away from the table, no longer looking at Mian. "Do you and Ehanis fight?" she asks. "Is that why she ran away?"
Mian snorts. "I let her know I wasn't going to tolerate her shit," she says. "We have an place together, I wasn't going to let her control when I can be in it." She sighs. "I've known Ehanis for thirty years, she's been like this before, but running away.... She has never done that."
Li shifts a little, prodding at her increasingly mushy cereal. "I don't know..." she mumbles quietly.
Vasquez crosses her arms, listening in silence. She raises an eyebrow at the revelation that Ehanis and Mian have known each other so long. She doesn't exactly know all that much about her personal life. Then again, they're both asari... does that kind of time even hold the same meaning? She dismisses the question, refocusing on the conversation at the table.
Jason falls silent as he studies Li, a few shallow nods accompanying. Deciding against interrogating a child, he makes a mental note to bring it up to Vasquez himself. "Vasquez is-..." he sighs, giving a small shake of his head, humorless snort escaping him. "She's weird." he decides on, keeping it simple for the sake of a seven year old. "Sometimes she-..." he trails off, finding it difficult to explain his lovely- often
irrational- wife's behavior to Li. So instead he props his smile back up. "I happen to know for a fact that Vasquez cares a great deal about your mom." he assures. "She cares a lot about you, too. So-... I'm sure whatever they're angry about? They'll work it out. They've been friends a long time."
Li doesn't say anything, but she nods faintly, slowly resuming her cereal eating. It's hard to tell what she's thinking, and her face is partly hidden under her long black hair. She suddenly stops eating, grimacing as said hair ends up in one of her spoonfuls of cereal. She brings a hand up and swats at the strands of hair that she's almost eaten, distracted by the unpleasant interruption.
Jason gives a small snicker as Li's hair ends up in her cereal, deciding to drop the line of discussion for now. She surely has more than enough worries without him pushing her for information about whatevers going on between Vasquez and Ilyna. Pushing away from the counter, he collects a few paper towels from the roll nearby and rounds the kitchenette to hand them off to her. "Here." he says as he sets them on the table beside
her cereal. Collecting his own bowl from across the counter, he sets it at the table and takes a seat opposite of Li with a small, pained grunt as his bruised and battered body protests.
Ilyna brings a hand up to her forehead, still looking away. "Did she tell you what the last mission was about?" she asks. "Everyone who went there came home with scars, both outside and inside, and that includes Ehanis." She turns back to Mian. "So what you're saying is that you told her you couldn't tolerate her instead of helping her through a difficult time," she shakes her head, anger breaking through
despite her trying to manage her feelings. "I don't want your help." Ilyna starts making her way around the table.
Mian flares her biotics briefly as she stares at Ilyna. "I'm the reason Ehanis didn't die, or worse, on her first day on Omega," she says. "I taught her how to thrive on that station, and what have you done for her? Nothing. So don't come here and tell me what to do." Mian doesn't do anything to stop Ilyna from leaving.
Tank is surprisingly quick to respond to the brief flare of Mian's biotics - in a moment she's on her feet, baton in her hand and ignited while her other hand grabs a firm hold of the asari's shoulder. Her almost empty cup has fortunately survived it's journey to the floor, although there's a small coffee spill.
Vasquez tenses briefly, but relaxes once it seems clear that Mian isn't going to try anything. She watches Ilyna leave the room, looking over to Tank and giving her a nod. "We'll have her out of here soon." she says before following the asari.
Li tears of an uneven handful of paper towel to wipe her mouth and hair with, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
Mian looks up at Tank once it's clear she won't get an answer from Ilyna. "What's your problem?" Mian asks. "That was... body language." There's a mutter of "finally" under her breath as Vasquez mentions her getting out soon.
Ilyna leaves the meeting room and walks towards her office, but she stops in the hallway intersection when she notices Vasquez following her. "I'm sorry, I know that was unprofessional," she says and turns around. "I just... I had enough. I have to find Ehanis without her help."
Jason watches with amusement for a moment, a snort inadvertantly escaping him. "Alright. Finish up your cereal." he says with a gesture towards the bowl in front of Li, "Because I think we've got some Super Centurion to watch once you're done." he exclaims, deciding now is as good a time as any to make good on the promise he made just after their return.
Vasquez shakes her head dismissively. "Of course. She's sure as hell not interferring. If I have my way she's not stepping foot in this town again. But we'll see what the Marshals have to say."
Tank stares Mian down for a moment before deactivating the stun baton and letting go as she steps back. She slowly returns it to her belt. "Right. So is my baton." she comments, not taking her eyes of the asari.
Li 's never-quite manifested smile makes a brief return and she nods several times, quickly resuming her cereal eating with renewed focus.
Ilyna sighs. "Thank you," she says, and looks away for a moment. She looks a bit distant, and hurt. Mian's words may have hit closer than she was willing to let on. "Is there... anything I can help with?"
Vasquez lets out a quiet snort, shaking her head again. "We'll handle things with Mian. You just... focus on Li, and yourself." she says, forcing a small smile into place briefly. "I know this wasn't what you'd hoped for, but at least it doesn't seem like Ehanis is in danger."
Ilyna doesn't seem so convinced about that, but she agrees that it's not Mian that's causing the danger. "Yeah, that's... good," she says. "I'll keep trying to contact her, but... yeah, I... should focus on Li but it's... just..." She sight. "I shouldn't keep you," Ilyna says. "You have important work to do."