Leah is seated cross-legged in a booth along the wall. In her standard attire of a colorful t-shirt (Today's color of choice seems to be light blue. Shocking!), black form-fitting pants, and her clunky black boots. A number of hair ties in different colors and sizes climb up her left wrist and her blonde hair is pulled back into a loose ponytail. Also a rather familiar sight: she's biting into a burger that looks to be about
#Miner'sRespite – January 7, 2019
December 9th. Late afternoon. The sun has already began to set and there's light snowfall, but nothing too serious. The Respite has a healthy dose of the usual suspects. Faces that have undoubtedly come to be a familiar sight to both Leah and Nathan during their security shifts. A quiet, subdued crowd.
Nathan steps through the door, the cold air of Freedom Falls sneaking in behind him. Now in the comfort of the warmth, he sighs, stomping off any excess snow from his boots. A thick coat keeps away the biting chill, covering a dark red long sleeved shirt, slightly faded blue jeans and a pair of heavy duty work boots. And, surprisingly, he seems a bit brighter than usual, as if he might’ve actually gotten a good
nights sleep for once. It doesn’t take him long to spot Leah, a bemused smirk creeping onto his face at the familiar sight of her. He walks over, shrugging off the coat before he arrives. “It never ceases to amaze me how much you actually eat,” he says as he slips into the seat opposite her. “One has to wonder where it actually goes.”
Leah straightens her posture as Nathan appears and begins to work on wolfing down her bite in the way one does when they're caught mid-mouthful and are expected to respond. A goofy bit of determination slipping in to her features as she speeds up her chewing and swallows hard. "Into my bright disposition." she says, giving a big, forced, toothy smile. Her own jacket is sat beside her, pushed into the corner of her booth. The
truth, of course, is that she burns calories at a much higher rate than your average person thanks to the biotic energy her body generates, turning the petite woman into a black hole of unending hunger that spells doooooom to burgers everywhere!!!!! A small smile remains behind when she wipes the goofy look off her face. "I had one for you, too. But you were taking too long." she jokes, scrunching up her nose with a shrug,
Nathan pouts playfully, but deep inside him is now an emptiness that cannot be filled with the delicious burger that had been waiting for him. He’ll have to carry this burden with him forever, it seems. In the end, he shrugs a shoulder as he bundles his coat to the side and rests his arms on the table, folding one over the other. “I want to say I’m surprised.” He cracks a toothy smile. “But I’m not. At
all.” His eyes drift to the usual crowd that has started to fill the Respite, a small part of him unable to completely switch off from the job. Although, no one could really blame him either, given the history of the Respite and Redrock. He looks back to Leah again, his smile relaxing a little as he gestures idly with his hand. “Luckily for you, I’m the forgiving sort, so this slight won’t be
Leah draws a line across her forehead with the tip of her middle finger to swipe her meddling bangs aside. "Lucky for me." she agrees sarcastically, "Truly your dashing good looks are surpassed only by your kindness. Your kindness and your ability to wedge your head so far up your own ass." she adds through her grin.
Nathan laughs warmly and less than subtly flicks her the bird. “Your way with words is something of a gift.” He lowers his hand, now taking the moment to lean back into his seat. “So, how’ve you been since the meeting? It was... a lot to take in.”
Leah's smile grows at the gesture, playing it up as if soaking in his backhanded compliment. "Well, you know~" she hums in response to his statement. His question, however, causes her smile to dissipate a bit and she leans an elbow against the table, her gaze turning down to her plate of food. Her free hand reaches in for a fry. "Was hoping that Jason and the Chief might be able to get some answers out of the Alliance,
but-..." she shrugs, popping the fry into her mouth and quickly wolfing it down. "Didn't exactly leave knowing much more than I walked in with. But it is what it is, I suppose." The Collector ship was certainly a less-than-pleasant ordeal. But it wasn't her first time encountering them. And, by the standards set so far? At least she was able to walk away from this one ordeal. It seems to suddenly dawn on her that all of
this is still pretty fresh for Nathan, causing her to turn her gaze back to him, wincing slightly. "I-... sorry. I'm sure this all must be pretty crazy for you." she admits, briefly shutting her big green eyes apologetically. "Is-... Ummm-... are you alright?" she decides on.
Nathan merely nods as she speaks, although it brings him a small measure of unease that she was more or less in the same place in terms of answers. It would be pointless to badger her with questions about it, and probably just as pointless with anyone else. Not that he could blame them. It was so bizarre, so unlikely that there was probably no one else in this galaxy who could shed some light on everything. At her
question, he shrugs and spares a look over the bar once more, more as a means of hiding the fear he could feel creeping into his gaze. “I’ll live. It is pretty crazy, but I think I’m quickly coming to accept that as the norm around here.” He looks to her and, realising how that might sound, offers her a reassuring smile that he himself couldn’t quite feel. “I’ll be fine. It’s like I said...
Leah gives a couple of small nods. "Seems to be becoming the norm everywhere..." she mutters. Colonies disappearing to the Collectors overnight. Alliance heroes coming back from the dead and working for a terrorist organization. It's a line of thought that she doesn't want to consider for too long. Thinking too long or hard about Cerberus only ever leads back to one road. It's a dark one that's soaked with a pain she'd rather
not experience right now. So she decides not to. She can do that, right? Or at least pretend to. "Speaking of crazy, I put in a word with Jason that we're going to be going on a trip for a few days" she says, steering the conversation away. She reaches up to rub a finger along the edge of her eyelid, the only indication of any lingering unease. "We're going to Linissa. You, me, Mendez. You and I just need a few days away
from everything after that clusterfuck and I'm dragging Mendez with. We're taking a longrifle with us because we miiight do a little hunting. Or try to." she shrugs, delivering the lie naturally, "Never hurts to practice a new skillset, right?" she asks, as if that's how she sold it to Jason. She reaches for another fry, biting half of it off. "You're probably gonna want to confirm this with Jason so he doesn't get
suspicious and-... I don't know? Think I'm dragging you out into the middle of nowhere to kill you and bury you where nobody might find your body? Or something?" She scrunches up her nose, tossing the other half of the fry into her mouth. Not helping to keep her mind off of things. Not like she doesn't have a track record for doing just that... Yep, there's more of that discomfort. And, as everyone knows, discomfort is the
wind-up key for her mouth. "I mean-... just as an example. I'm totally not going to kill you... In case-... in case that was a concern... Shit, I guess it is pretty suspicious, huh? Telling Jason we're going to one place and then I'm taking you to some secluded place in the middle of nowhere and people do that shit all the time and now you're probably totally creeped out that I've got some weird creepy murder dungeon
out there that I'm luring you out to but I really don't! I don't! And now this is getting all weird and-... I watch a lot of crime documentaries, alright?!" she concludes on, furrowing her brow and levleing a grumpy glare at Nathan as if he has alreay judged her. "Don't make this weird."
Nathan refocused with her change of topic, leaning forward to give her his full attention. He listens, nodding along with what sounds like a good cover for their little mission, even perking an eyebrow for her reason to take out a longrifle. Well, at least that’ll make the inventory check a little easier already having an excuse for one rifle to go missing. It looks like he’s about to compliment her on the cover,
until she breaks down into her motor mouth mode. He’s quickly learning to just let her churn it all out rather than try and get a word in edgeways. It’s safer for his sanity that way. Mostly. In fact, he uses the opportunity to try and swipe a fry from her plate and pop it into his mouth, merely giving non-committal grunts to her ramblings. In his mind, he’s already counting down to the excuse, then to
the blaming of himself. Three. Two. One. Ah, there it is. He gives it a few seconds to see if she has anything else to throw out there before nodding and giving her a bemused smirk. “I’ll talk to Jason to cement the story. Although, knowing him, he’s probably coming up with his own wild theories on it anyway.”
Leah's frown only deepens as her green eyes snap to the hand stealing a fry from her plate. But Nathan taking her ramble in stride causes her expression to soften, a smile even resurfacing slightly and she slides the plate a little closer to the center of the table to give him better access. "Perfect." she says, already reaching for another fry. "So did you have a chance to go over the intel...?"
Nathan with silent permission to devour fries, he picks at a couple more before he answers. “Yeah. I’ll be tweaking them tonight, then I’ll throw them your way for review.” For a moment, he seems to slip into a more professional standard that is slightly diminished by the limp fry that’s dangling between his fingers. “If there wasn’t the risk of them bringing along a few of their... slaves,” he says,
almost hissing the last word out, “I’d have just blanketed the area with high-ex and directional charges and let them walk straight into the soon to unveil Aite Crater. But I don’t want to risk that. I’m plotting a few of the most likely points they’d use in the eventuality of a firefight and seeing what I have that could turn it to our advantage.” He quickly chews on the fry, the continues.
“Right now, I’m mostly working with the idea of hidden flashes and utilising a few Shockers to incapacitate them to give us the edge, then using high-ex from Lil’ Lucy to act as the heavier ordnance.”
Leah likewise, seems to fall into a more professional demeanor. She gives a look of distaste as Nathan mentions their slaves. "The woods behind the facility will be our escape route in case things go terribly wrong so we'll need to come up with some way to secure it. I'm thinking maybe proximity mines with remote activation...?" she puts out there, well aware of what's possible but seemingly fishing to see if Nathan is capable
of either coming up with the hardware or rigging something up. "I think we can pretty safely assume they won't land on the opposite side of the woods, but in case they do? We don't want them blowing up on their way to meet with us so we don't want them activated until the shooting starts. Not that I'd lose any sleep over a few dead slavers, but we're going to need Fasha alive-... or at the very least alive-ish to sign
over the-... the documentation." she explains, stammering slightly towards the tail end of her words, her voice growing quieter when she's forced to acknowledge the fact that there's an actual document out there that identifies Tara as little more than a piece of property. Unfortunately, without it, there's no guarantee that this problem goes away. That barcode ties Tara to this document and there's no telling who the
document will default to once Fasha is dead. "We'll all be painted with IFF tags, so I think it's our best option. What do you think?"
Nathan nods and taps his fingers on the table in thought. “I had considered it. Unfortunately, I don’t have many of them, so we’ll have to be very particular with the placement of them. I could probably rig a few more up from the gear that I have, although that will take some time and some scavenging.” He regards her for a moment and, seeing her discomfort, reaches over to try and give her hand a quick,
Leah furrows her brow, giving a few quick nods to wipe away Nathan's concerns. "Me? Yeah-... Yeah." she assures with a couple of nods, a bit of embarassment creeping in. She looks down to his hand over hers and she turns her own over on the table, palm upwards to meet with his. "I'm-..." she sighs, drawing in a deep breath and propping up a small smile as she meets his gaze once more. "I just want this to be over, Nate. I-...
She deserves a chance to live her life without having to look over her shoulder every day." She gives a small, sheepish shrug. "I want to give her that chance. And we will."
Nathan smiles kindly, dipping his head in agreement. “We will,” he agrees, taking his hand back. “It’ll all be over soon, with less slavers in this galaxy and Tara free.” He takes a moment to consider, before giving a half smile at her. “Suppose you told Jason part of the truth. We really are trying our hand at hunting.”
Leah nods along at Nathan's initial assessment, that determination slipping back into her features. His final statement gets a small snicker out of her despite the rather grim implication. "They're certainly animals." she says, drawing in a breath. "I spoke with Jasper. He'll be giving us a ride there and picking us up after." she explains. She's certainly been busy. But this is her in her element. Planning an op. Organized.
Clean. Efficient. Everything accounted for. "Of course, he thinks he's taking us to Linissa. We'll let him know about the change of plans once we're in the air. He'll know something is up, but-... well, we don't have many other options. Not reliable options, anyway." she points out, implying she's probably looked into alternate options, "I trust him, though. He might not like it, but if we ask him to keep it to
Nathan takes a moment to consider that. However, he is heavily inclined to agree with her. Jasper certainly has a good heart, so it’s probably safe to trust him with this information once they’re in the air. Eventually, he nods. “Probably the best bet. I doubt we could really get away with hiring a truck or ground vehicle with this plan. Worst comes to worst, at least we know Jasper will be ready to swoop
Leah gives a few nods in agreement. "Exactly. I'm also thinking we start things off with a nice bluff. I'd estimate a low chance of success, but-... yeah. Maybe-... umm-..." she sighs, turning to her side to pull the datapad from beneath her jacket on the bench beside her. She lifts it up, swiping at it a few times to navigate the menu. When she reaches the document she's looking for, she sets it on the table, rotates it 180
degrees, and slides it towards Nathan. It's the same map she handed off to him of the area surrounding the facility. There's notes made all across the map. Numerous red circles are made around the large clearing at the edge of the facility with the words 'Landing site?' marked. She touches her index finger to a couple places near the large swathe of potential landing sites. "Maybe rig up something with a high yield out
here? Two sites just in case they happen to land on one. Make a show of strength. Tell 'em they're surrounded. Let them know we've got the place rigged to blow. Detonate one to show we're not fucking around-..." she runs through her ideal opening moves quickly, a distinct lack of emotion in her words as if it's just a checklist. "...Tell them all we want is the documentation signed over and they're free to go, otherwise
we're ready and willing to put all of them down. In a perfect scenario? We get a surrender." She lifts her gaze to his, tilting her head to the side, "That's not happening. But? At the very least? We shake them. Maybe force some of his people to think twice. Keep them off balance."
Nathan perks his eyebrows up at the mention of a bluff and peers over to the datapad. He pulls it a little closer to himself as she points out the landing sights, his brow knitting curiously. “Funnily enough,” he muses, “I had actually considered rigging an area with high yield, but that was with the idea of leading them into it. I’m not sure if I have enough explosives for numerous areas, but I’ll see what
I can do.” He pauses for a moment and leans back in his seat, rubbing his chin in thought. “I’m more of the inclination that if we want to make a show of strength, the explosives will be better applied to thinning out their numbers in one hit. Shock and awe tactics. Obliterate then before they know what’s happening. Of course, that then just brings me to my earlier point about potential innocents being
Leah gives a few small nods, only the briefest hint of discomfort showing through once again before it slips away. Of course there's almost no chance House Bar'adon doesn't bring some of their slaves with. "Collateral damage is unacceptable." she says, though her words carry that distinct sense that they're about to be followed by a 'but'. "...But-..." yep, there it is, "...House Bar'adon's slaves aren't our objective. Fasha
is. And we can't even begin to predict how he will react when things take a turn. There's no reason to assume he won't just send his-... his slaves at us." she continues, her expression turning almost apologetic as she says it aloud, "And we can't let that rattle us, Nate. Obviously we'll use non-lethal force to the best of our ability if it comes to that, but-... if it's them or us..." she trails off, leaving her
Nathan seems to do a double take at Leah, his eyes widening for a moment. It takes his mind a moment to process, mouth parting faintly before it closes again. Then, his brow furrows and he shakes his head. “Wha- how could you say that? Look, I understand getting that documentation is our primary reason, but I won’t gun down slaves for it.” His gaze hardens significantly, a burning look appearing behind his eyes
Leah furrows her brow, studying Nathan in silence for a moment. "Nate, I-..." she begins, but something seems to occur to her and her expression hardens in turn. "...Wait, wait, wait. Excuse me, but do you think I would gun down a bunch of slaves for a document?" she asks, her expression turning to a glare as she studies Nathan. She lets the question linger for a second, wearing the hurt in her expression. "It's not about
the-..." she begins, but realize she's begun to raise her voice a bit, causing her to pass a self conscious glance about the room before leveling her attention back on the man across the table from her. "It's not about the document, Nate. But you need to understand that we're not going to be the puppetmasters deciding how this whole thing plays out. We're going to have everything planned out to avoid collateral
damage. We're going to have a backup plan. We're going to have backup plans for our backup plan. But ops can go sideways in a split second. We're dealing with an unknown factor. And someone who has no issues with devaluing a person into little more than property. Do you really think he'd think twice before sending them at us? Make no mistake about it, if it does come to that? If there is any way-... any way for you
to restrain, control, or otherwise incapacitate them, I expect nothing less. But you have to come to terms with the possibility that you will have no choice but to use lethal force. Make peace with that right here and now because, otherwise? It's going to get you- and everyone else- killed." She draws in a breath, her posture straightening up.