The work day continues well after the sun has gone down. Digging under the glow of Litae. Planting explosives amidst the light of an omni-tool. That, combined with a constant fight against the bone chilling temperature and the howling wind that shifts the snow around, pressing back against whatever plans they have, makes for a long and tiring day. But little by little the group whittles down their checklist. Holes are dug. Thermal clips
#Kalus'Compound – February 3, 2019
are hidden around the compound. Explosives are planted. And, at the end of a long day, everyone is rewarded with the ability to retire back to the dark barracks of the warehouse where Tara has set up their belongings.
Mendez gives a long, worn out grunt as he slowly lowers himself into a seated position against the barrack's wall as his aching muscles all protest, bowl of leftover soup in-hand.
Leah has asked that Tara join her up on the roof at the end of a grueling day. She crouches down near the edge of the hatch, extending a hand down to help the young woman climb to the top.
Nathan has gone to his makeshift workshop where, despite everyone else taking some time to relax, he’s begun to convert a few more standard grenades into his custom made “shockers”.
Tara carefully makes her way up the ladder, grabbing the offered hand as soon as she's able and crawling up onto the roof. She's still in full winter garb, thankfully.
Leah likewise, is still ready for the harsh winter climate. The constant in-and-out of working in the low temperature and taking breaks in the warehouse to escape the wind has left her with a small sniffle. She offers a kind, if tired, smile to Tara and steps towards the southern edge of the roof, looking out over what's sure to become a warzone in the day to come. "How are you doing?" she asks softly.
Emma is sitting on one of the left-behind mattresses, taking a moment to let her body rest. She's done her fair share helping with the rest of the setup after finishing her sniper's nest. Her weapon's case sits next to her, cracked open, but she hasn't removed anything from inside it yet. Her M99 Saber and her Black Widow Anti-Materiel rifle both sit inside it alongside accessories and maintenance tools.
Tara struggles through the snow on the roof, following after Leah to the edge. The question causes her to stop, an uncertain look crossing her face as she looks out across the compound. There's no immediate response.
Nathan sets down the last handful of shockers, wiping his brow as he sighs tiredly. His muscles ache and his head is pounding like a drum. He doesn’t remember the last time he had to convert this many grenades for a single operation since... well, since forever. He grunts and stands from the desk, leaving his workshop in search of coffee, coffee and more coffee.
Jattic has remained outside for some time after the others entered the warehouse. Nathan would be able to hear the screetch of metal pressed against metal as the batarian forces the door closed behind him. Slow, plodding, undoubtedly tired footsteps echo in the large room until the batarian appears in the doorway to the security office that Nathan has set up in. The bottom of his long winter coat is stained with dirt, and mud,
and snow. He doesn't say anything right away, silently recovering from the windswept fatigue that has settled into his bones as he tugs the gloves off of his hand. "Do you require my assistance?" he asks, seemingly unready to just call it quits on the prep work despite everything being in place.
Nathan skids to a stop as Jattic arrives inside the workshop. He huffs and offers the Batarian a tired smile, motioning to the pile of explosives. “I actually just finished up. I was going to go for some coffee and... more coffee. If you want to join, feel free.”
Leah draws in a breath and lets it out slowly, watching as the puff of steam slowly evaporates into the winter air. "...Yeah." she agrees softly with the silence. She clenches her lower lip between her teeth as she studies the compound as if it was a map. Running through the plan in her mind. Going over the distances and the steps between key locations that she's counted many times throughout the day. "This is where you're
gonna be tomorrow." she says. "You know what you have to do, right...?" she offers, mostly just hollow attempts at seeing how Tara is dealing with everything considering they've already been through the plan.
Jattic flexes his cold hands into fists a few times and stows the gloves back in his pockets as he looks over the arsenal that remains on Nathan's makeshift workspace. He gives an approving appraisal, a small nod and a grunt. He seems about to decline when he takes pause, drawing in a small breath. Joining the company of Emma in the quarters doesn't seem like the strongest incentive for him to retire quite yet. Not until he's
Mendez leans his head back against the wall, idly stirring the soup in his bowl, his gaze shifting to the crate of weapons on the ground beside Emma.
Tara hugs herself in the face of the cold, continuing to look out at the dimly moonlit ruins. The question prompts a small nod. "I think so..." she says quietly, not exactly sounding very secure in her role of slave liaison.
Nathan hums a smile and jabs a thumb towards the quarters. “You, uh, want me to grab you a cup and bring it here or...?” He then glances to the door, then back to the Batarian. He had enough self awareness to know that him and Emma in the same room may not be the best combination in the world.
Emma rolls her shoulders, letting out a tired sigh as she looks over her weaponry. She shoots Mendez a brief glance before closing the case. She'll need a table to get the last of her prep done. "Are we posting a sentry for the night?" she asks, judging him to be the closest thing to a second-in-command the group has. The lack of formal rank structure doesn't sit well with her, but she's doing her best to adapt.
Leah gives a few small nods, glancing to her side to give Tara a confident smile. "You're gonna do fine, sweetheart." she assures, reaching out to place a glove-clad hand over Tara's shoulder. A few moments pass before another breath escapes her. "I-..." she begins, turning her attention downward as she brings bacn her hand and reaches down, working at the strap to the magnetic holster on her left thigh.
Jattic passes a glance back towards the door indicated by Nathan, the fact that he seems to be in no hurry to move giving more away than his stoney expression. "That would be appreciated." he says simply. "I would prefer to warm up before I retire to our quarters." he says. "And Emma is an insufferable-..." the word that follows loosely translates to 'pile of excrement'. But it's said with little inflection. No emotion. As if
it's just a matter of fact. "...The longer I am allowed to avoid her presence, the better." Just... putting it right out there. Blunt and honest.
Mendez spoons some soup into his mouth. Canned soup has never tasted so good. The warmth it provides alone is a welcome comfort. "Doubt it." he says.
Emma lets out a quiet snort, nodding a few times. Mendez might be reliable enough, but certainly not military. After a few moments of silence she grabs the handle of her weapons case, standing up. "I'm going to find a workbench." she announces before heading out into the corridor.
There's plenty of places for Emma to set up. The kitchen/dining area has numerous tables. Unfortunately, anywhere she decides to do her work will need to be by the light of omni-tool.
Mendez gives a small raise of his hand as Emma stands to take her leave and shifts in place against the wall.
Tara 's gaze turns to Leah when she starts to fiddle with the strap of her holster, a curious frown crossing her face as she waits for her to continue speaking.
Nathan gives Jattic a look of understanding and nods, patting the Batarian once on the shoulder as he steps over to the door. “I’ll go grab you a cup. If you want to start organising the grenades, that’ll be a help.” Although most of them are already neatly categorised, there is still a few that could be allocated. “How do you take your coffee anyway?”
Leah works the clasp of the holster until she can pull it free. She leaves the folded-up Predator that clings to it and holds the holster out, shifting it over towards Tara. "...I want you to have this." she says. "Just in case things go-..." she pauses, deciding a less harsh choice of words might be required, "...In case things don't go the way we want them to." With her other hand, she gives a pat at the Carnifex holstered on
her right thigh. "I've still got this, so-..." she trails off. "Hopefully you won't need it but-... just in case." she reiterates with a slight wince.
Jattic draws in an appreciative breath, both at the coffee and the opportunity to continue making himself useful. "Black." he says. Big surprise. He steps over to the desk and begins looking over the arsenal, attempting to get a grasp on the work Nathan has already done.
Emma is quick to activate her omni-tool's flashlight upon exiting into the pitch black of the corridor, navigating by the beam of light as she makes her way through the corridor in search on an appropriate workspace.
Nathan nods and steps out. The table is filled with dozens of grenades, each separated and handily marked. Right now, the center of the table has about a dozen shocker grenades sat there, two of them dismantled. To the right is a pile of converted grenades, while to the left there is a pile of standard fragmentation. Nathan steps into the storage bay, immediately heading in the direction of the promise of hot drink
The doors have all been jarred open during Mendez' initial sweep. Outside of the barracks they've taken residence in, the hall in front of Emma has 4 other doors. Three personal quarters and another barracks, nearly identical to the one they've set up in. Past the T-intersection in the hall, there's another set of doors. One leads to the kitchen and dining area. Outside of the unpowered appliances, there's a trio of tables with benches
that are perpendicular against the northern wall. Across the hall from the dining area is what was once a rec room. A number of couches are paired with low coffee tables.
Jattic immediately gets to work once Nathan has stepped away, seemingly eager to just keep himself busy. Seems like that's all he's done since they returned.
Emma turns off her flashlight upon noticing the light coming from the open door to the security office, slowing her pace as she walks closer, taking a peek inside. Upon noticing that Jattic appears to have taken over for Nathan she's quick to reconsider the room as an option, stepping out of view.
Nathan opens the door leading into the corridor and steps in, flicking on the flashlight on his omni-tool. However, he pauses when he sees another off to this left and he perks an eyebrow up high. He lifts the light to shine it on Emma, brow now creasing into a small frown. “You alright?”
Tara blinks, recoiling a little from the weapon. She raises a mitten-clad hand in the general direction of the gun, but doesn't try to grab it at all. Her expression shifts from studying the Predator to searching Leah's face, a concerned frown on her own.
Leah watches as Tara hesitates, gentle, tired smile remaining. She doesn't force it, though. Instead, she crouches down and begins to clasp the holster around Tara's thigh, making sure to do it slowly- clasp facing the front- so that Tara can see how it's done. She adjusts the strap to fit Tara's leg and then rotates it until the folded up sidearm is on the side of her leg. "There." she says, looking up at Tara. As she rises to
her feet, she removes the Predator from Tara's holster, an audible CLICK sounding out as the weapon unfolds. She holds it flat, balanced against the palm of her hand, barrel faced out towards the compound, the Alliance gun control training engrained into her. "Do you know how to use this...?" she asks, confident that she already knows the answer but offering Tara the opportunity to speak up for herself.
Emma is quick to look Nathan's way when he steps into the corridor, nodding in response to his question. She steps away from the door to the security office, joining Nathan in the crossroads to at least reduce the likelihood of being overheard by Jattic. "I was looking for somewhere to make some adjustments to my gear before tomorrow, but I see your workspace is... occupied."
Nathan dims the light down to a marginal glow, casting a look over her shoulder towards the door where Jattic is working. “Yeah, he asked if there was anything he could do to help.” He shrugs a shoulder and turns away, heading to the barracks in search of food and coffee. “I’m grabbing a drink for him and one for myself. If you fancy tagging along?”
Leah lifts her hand up and down, feeling the heft of the familiar pistol. She tilts her head to the side as she studies Tara, taking note of her discomfort. "It's just a tool." she assures with a small shrug of her shoulders, assuming that at least some of the unease is a result of the weapon itself even if some is undoubtedly from the percieved need for a weapon. "It can only do what you tell it to." she continues, smile
widening briefly. She gives a glance to Tara's mitten-clad hand. "Might have to take those off to use it, though." she snickers, doing her best to keep things light despite the heavy implication of her arming Tara.
Emma considers the offer in silence for a moment before nodding, adjusting her grip on the heavy case she's carrying before following after Nathan. She doesn't fancy working in the dark, and it seems she has some waiting to do before she can use Nathan's makeshift workshop.
Tara hesitates for a moment before swallowing and looking down at her own hand. She reaches up to remove the mitten, frown still firmly etched into her face.
Nathan heads towards the drinks, glancing over his shoulder to Emma for a moment before continuing on in silence. When they reach the barracks, he steps in before finally deigning to speak. “So... I’m not sure how social etiquette varies from place to place in the galaxy,” He begins, folding his arms across his chest before peering to Emma. “But usually, it’s considered rude and a tad suspicious to
eavesdrop on someone’s conversation then invite yourself on a... ‘trip’ with people you barely know.”
Leah draws in a breath, a small raise of her brows before she shifts in place. She lifts the pistol slightly as she steps in closer to Tara so she has a clear view of what she's doing. With a breath, she lets out a heavy, "Okay." She takes the pistol in her right hand and rotates the gun to the left until it's parallel with the ground to show her grip off to Tara. She taps her index finger against the side of the pistol where
it rests. "Finger stays out of the trigger guard- off the trigger- unless you need to fire it." she explains, green eyes moving from the weapon to Tara. "You never put your finger near the trigger unless you're aiming at something you have to shoot." It's a conscious choice to use the word 'have'. Not 'need'. Not 'want'. 'Have'. The pistol is the final line of defense. Not something that she should be expecting to
use. "And you never aim it at anyone- or anything- that you don't have intention of shooting. Understand?"
Mendez glances up as the pair re-enter the barracks. He blatantly eavesdrops, staring at the pair without a care in the world whether or not they know he's listening in. Fuck social etiquette.
Emma sets her rifles back down upon returning to the barracks barely a minute after leaving. Well, that was a fruitful trip. Nathan's comment causes her to briefly glance towards him before looking away, grabbing the coffee thermos and retaking her seat atop the old matress of questionable integrity. "Noted." she says dryly, offering no further comment.
Tara hardly seems put at ease by Leah's words, but she nods in confirmation that she understands, continuing to look apprehensively at the gun. She doesn't grab it.
Nathan her cold dismissal just causes his frown to deepen. However, instead of continuing, he decides to do something different for once. He just dismisses her himself. He has a thousand and one things to worry about and another bitch is something he really can’t be bothered with at the moment. Instead, he starts to fill up a pair of cups for him and Jattic, sparing a glance to Mendez. He gives the man a roll of
his eyes to convey his thoughts about Emma, before grabbing the cups and giving her one more cool look. And for a moment, he had a brief thought about rigging a shocker into her gear. However, he is very quick to dismiss that immature thought and goes to leave. He never thought he’d consider hanging around Jattic a more promising way for an evening.
Leah sucks in her lips, studying Tara for a moment as if to make sure she's taking this seriously. After a moment, she rotates the weapon to show off the other side, the barrel never crossing paths with either Tara or the building. "This-..." she taps her thumb against the safety before pointing out as much, "...is the safety. Okay?" She spares another glance Tara's way. "On." she explains before ticking the switch. "Off."
Another glance to Tara before setting it back to the 'On' position. "On." she repeats. "When the safety is engaged-... is on? The gun won't fire. Okay?" Another glance Tara's way. "You should always have the safety on unless you need to fire the weapon. Then, and only then, do you turn it-..." she once again swipes a thumb against the safety, setting it to... "...off. Any questions?"
Tara nods along with Leah's explanation, clearly paying close attention despite her apprehension. The final question causes her to shake her head faintly.
Leah gives a small nod, once again manipulating the pistol in her hand. She briefly considers going into thermal clips but, the truth is that it wouldn't matter. If things got so dire that Tara needed an intricate knowledge of how thermal clips worked, then that meant that the situation was far too fucked for one person with zero combat training to make a difference. Instead, she squares up her shoulders and shifts into a solid
firing stance, pistol gripped firmly in her right hand, supported by her left. She looks to Tara, as if this is something she should be taking note of. She holds it for a moment before straightening up and giving the safety one more glance to ensure it's still engaged and holding the sidearm out to Tara, allowing the young girl to meet her half way rather than thrusting it upon her.
Mendez hunches forward to meet the spoon he's lifting towards his mouth halfway. Nathan's glance is met with an indifferent raise of his brow. He passes a glance from Nathan to Emma. From Emma to Nathan. Then a heavy sigh escapes him at the prospect of having to intervene yet again. The last thing they need is for everyone to be at each others' throats when a ship full of slavers arrives. "We're all here for the same thing." he
says, hoping it's enough to stop Nathan from walking out. His voice is quite the presence without him even putting much effort into it.
Emma sips her coffee in silence, opting to remain behind and recover from the day's exertion a while longer now that she knows that the security office is occupied. Nathan's unexpected, but not unnoticed hostility makes her reconsider making use of the space with either of them in there. If it becomes necessary she'll have to set up her own space. The kitchen ought to do. Mendez' words cause her to nod in agreement, briefly
glancing his way before studying the departing Nathan with a neutral, if a bit cold, gaze from behind.
Tara continues to pay close attention, but when the gun is offered she hesitates, frown deepening a little as her hand hovers near the weapon. Eventually she grabs it, carefully. She seems a little caught off-guard by the weight, having to adjust her grip upon taking hold of the weapon.
Leah is patient, giving Tara as much time as she needs to accept the weapon. When she finally does, she gives the young woman a small, encouraging smile. "Heavy." she comments, noticing Tara's initial difficulty. "You get used to the weight. To how it feels." she says as she watches Tara, silently hoping that the following day will be the jumping off point to giving Tara a life in which she won't need to get used to the
weight of a weapon. "Just takes time." She gives her a moment before nodding to the weapon. "Go on. Test out the holster. It's magnetic. Place the weapon against it and let go and the holster should pull it into place." she explains.
Nathan pauses in the doorway as Mendez speaks. He keeps facing away, seconds ticking by in silence before letting out a heavy sigh. Fine. If it’s going to be like that. “The last time,” he says, voice strained and tense, “Someone appeared out of the blue saying that wanted to ‘help’ against a bunch of slavers, a lot of good fucking people died.” He looks over his shoulder at the pair of them, gaze cold,
hard. “So forgive me for being a little more than suspicious about her intentions. Your intentions.” He aims the last part at Emma herself, nostrils flaring. However, he seems to take a mental step back and glances away again, the two cups steaming in his hands.
Tara hesitates briefly before bringing the hand holding the Predator over to the metal plate strapped to her hip. She seems a little concerned about just letting go of the weapon even if she knows how a holster works. She flinches just slightly as she does, and the pistol snaps to the plate and starts to compact.
Mendez studies Nathan from his spot on the floor, bowl of soup in-hand. He doesn't know what Nathan has been through. "She's Redrock, Ten..." he says, the day's exhaustion barely even showing through his monotone, almost-bored voice. "From where I'm sitting, you both seem like a pair of assholes right now." he continues bluntly, "We've got a bunch of scumbags on their way to take a young girl like she's a piece of property
tomorrow, and you're both more focused on being angry at the people who might die at your side than the ones who are going to be trying to kill you." He pointedly turns his gaze from Nathan to Emma, indicating he's not just referring to the former. "Get. Over. It. Whatever it is." he says before repeating himself, "Get over it." A moment passes before he begins to lift his spoon again, pausing once another thought
Leah's smile grows as she watches Tara, a slight snicker escaping as she flinches. "See?! Easy." she encourages. As she watches Tara, her smile begins to fade and, soon enough, she's fishing into her jacket pocket. "There's one more thing-..." she warns.
Emma seems a little puzzled by the oddly specific comment from Nathan, studying him with a hint of curiosity behind her otherwise neutral expression. Mendez' words cause her to raise an eyebrow, considering she doesn't really have any problem with Nathan - indeed she's most certainly far more concerned with what's to come already. "I knew inserting myself into this mission was going to cause some friction." she says calmly
once her gaze returns to Nathan. "But I am here to help. And I will be watching your back tomorrow." she assures. "That girl deserves to be free, and as far as I'm concerned every slaver we kill will make the galaxy a better place." She certainly has no compunctions with killing all of Fasha's people if they get the opportunity, judging by the even tone of her voice.
Tara doesn't smile, although her unease seems to lighten a little. At least until Leah speaks again, causing her to look towards her pocket in anticipation, eyebrows furrowed.
Nathan remains silent a little longer, the skin of his fingers going white with how tightly he’s clinging onto the cups. He knows they’re right. I mean, how fucked up would the universe have to be to make him go through the exact same shit twice in his lifetime? But the overwhelming fear in his head continues to scream the loudest, drowning out the sensibilities in his brain. He shakes his head faintly. “I’m
Leah produces a small black device with a clip on the back of it. She holds it up for Tara to see, rotating it a bit. It has a few buttons on it, but nothing is labeled. "Shield generator." she says. With her free hand, she reaches out to tug Tara's jacket pocket open and clips the device onto the pocket flap so it remains outside of her pocket. "This will-..." she begins, using her thumb to tap at one of the buttons. The
generator begins to do its work and, for a few moments, emits a high pitched ringing. But it quickly dies down. "...keep you safe tomorrow. Do you know how one of these works?" she asks despite, much like the pistol, already being well aware that the answer is most certainly 'No'.
Mendez gives a few small nods to Emma's words. Nathan's refusal to acknowledge her causes him to look towards the man. "Suit yourself. Just more for me." he says dismissively as he settles his head back against the wall once more.
Emma raises her cup to her lips, sipping her coffee in silence as she continues to study Nathan, the seemingly personal nature of his reaction still piquing her curiosity, although she doesn't say anything.
Tara watches Leah attach the shield generator to her jacket, frown deepening a little. The question causes her to shake her head yet again.
Nathan stands there a second longer before stepping out and heading down the corridor towards the workshop. He just wanted it all to be over already and for them all to go home. Having all these thoughts at the forefront of his mind almost constantly is starting to exhaust him more than the digging did. The cold air has already started to chill the coffee, but that was a minute thought that was barely considered.
Part of him wanted to turn around, apologise, and admit everything. Admit why he was so high strung. Why he was so suspicious. But then again... he couldn’t. It took everything just to admit it to Leah, after all.
Leah gives a firm nod. "Okay~" she starts off, as if to signify she's about to begin her explanation. "If-... If for some reasonthings go-..." she huffs, struggling with her words before meeting Tara's eyes. "If shots come your way..." she settles on, almost apologetically so, deciding against dancing around the fact that it's going to get dangerous. Tara is a smart girl and Leah owes her the benefit of honesty. But the
thought clearly doesn't sit well with her, causing her to swallow hard. "...If that happens? This will protect you, okay? But it can't take very many. So if you hear-..." her thumb slides over another button and the telltale screetch that every soldier fears sounds out as the shield is dispelled. Ping. Ping. Ping. "...You hide. Understand?" Full stop. The importance of the information causes her to merely hold Tara's
Mendez watches Nathan as he storms off down the hall. He doesn't say anything at first, merely watching the now empty doorway before giving a shake of his head and slowly turning his gaze onto Emma. It's not his business. He couldn't give two shits how any of these people feel about one another. So long as they work together? The rest is irrelevant. But this seems like one of those moments where you're supposed to say something.
He draws in a bored sniffle through his nose, the constant change in climate throughout the day of moving from indoors to outdoors creeping up on him. "Eat some soup."
Tara meets Leah's gaze as she nods, her expression quite serious. There's less unease here - the gun clearly caused her more discomfort.
Emma glances over towards Mendez, considering his words for a moment. "Not a bad idea." she decides with a faint shrug, setting her coffee aside on the floor for the moment as she goes to collect a bowl of leftover soup. No point in letting it go to waste. Especially since she's planning on subsuting on nutrient paste in the coming day. No room for an unruly stomach while camping out on an unstable roof.
Nathan manages to get the door open to the security room and walks inside, setting the black coffee on the table next to Jattic wordlessly.
Leah gives a stern nod of her own in response before repeating her sentiment. "You keep your head down, and you do not come out until you hear-..." her thumb slips over another button and, soon enough, the pinging subsides, "...nothing." A small smile returns to her face. "And-... that's pretty much it." she says, straightening up and lifting her entire body up on her toes in a shrug before falling back onto her heels. "Keep
that on you. In your pocket, clipped onto the waist of your pants-..." she lists off idly with small shakes of her head, "...wherever so long as it stays on you. And keep it like that until we're back home. Okay, sweetheart?"
Jattic glances back over his shoulder as Nathan rejoins him, accepting the coffee with a cold appreciation befitting the stoic batarian. He reaches for the cup and takes a sip. It's a bit lukewarm by this point, but it's welcome in the face of the cold warehouse air. "One of the few valuable things humanity brought to the rest of the galaxy." he comments and, despite the obvious negative implication, it doesn't seem to be
Nathan gives a small smile and a roll of his eyes. “You know what, I can’t argue with that.” He looks at the table and nods in silent affirmation of Jattic’s work. “...how do you think this is going to go? Honestly?”
Leah draws in a breath, another wave of steam erupting from her when she releases it. She turns her gaze out over the dark compound once more. When she looks back to Tara, she forces a smile back back into place. It's heavy. Tired. Worried. "I need you to promise me something, Tara." she says softly.
Jattic snorts as if assessing the day to come is a tall order. His gaze remains on the grenades, each in its appointed location. Not exactly a complicated task, but a nice way to keep his mind busy for a few minutes. "Honestly." he repeats, as if that's the key word in Nathan's questioning. "It will be bloody. We are here to take their merchandise." he explains, his tone lacking the emotion or disgust that others might apply to
such a statement. But for Jattic it's just a cold, hard fact despite whatever he may personally feel towards the situation. "They cannot allow this. It would make them appear weak. They will fight for their honor. For their House." he continues, sounding far too sure of this to have no insight. A few moments pass as he reaches out to collect one of the shocker grenades, studying it idly in his hand. "And we will kill
them all the same." he says coldly. Confidently. "Of this, I am certain. We imposed our will upon the Collectors. An honorless House will present little obstacle." he sniffs. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly given that Nathan was present, the mention of the Collectors seems to get more of a reaction from Jattic than anything else mentioned, causing him to shift his gaze away from the grenade as he sets it back
Nathan listens to Jattic’s words attentively, taking a sip of the lukewarm coffee that sits in his hands. It wasn’t like anything Jattic was saying was new to him, strictly speaking. But hearing them spoken aloud... helps, even if it is just a little. Mentioning the Collectors causes Nathan to grimace faintly, looking off to the side in discomfort. Another memory to go in the pile of fucked up beyond all
recognition. “Yeah... yeah.” He nods and takes another, more hearty sip. “I know we’ll win... I just hope the cost won’t be too high, y’know?”
Leah reaches out, gently grasping Tara's hand where her gaze comes to a rest for a few moments. She gives it a comforting squeeze and draws in another breath, steeling herself to meet Tara's gaze once more. "When tomorrow is over, I need you to promise me that you're going to try to start living your life. I want you to-... to be who you are. Whoever that may be, okay? Whether that's Tara-..." she continues, her smile
widening ever-so-slightly as she reaches out with her other hand to give the girl a goofy boop on the nose. "...or-... Or whoever." She studies the young girl for a moment, tilting her head to the side. "You're going to be free. Really free. No more looking over your shoulder. No more waiting for them to come. No more-..." she huffs, gaze dropping slightly. "I just-... I need you to promise me you're going to accept
Jattic brings the bitter drink to his lips once more, a faint nod his immediate response to Nathan's concerns. "As do I, human." A few moments pass as he considers the implication. Escaping a Collector ship just to be gunned down by a House of slavers seems like such an unlucky way to go. But... perhaps fitting in the cosmic sense. He doesn't allow his thoughts to linger for long. "Mercier appears to know what she is doing." he
says, seeming to prefer the conversation rather than being left with his own silent thoughts. "I do not know how your military works, but I would guess ex-special forces of some sort." he continues. Probably nothing Nathan hasn't already assumed, of course. Another breath passes before he adds, almost hesitantly, "...She is terrifying for one who smiles as much as she."
Nathan actually manages a more earnest smile at Batarians latter statement. He’s pretty sure he said something similar to that once. Seems like a lifetime ago now. “Ah, she’s not so bad. Once you get through the motor mouth, the deflections, the barbed humour and the tendency to threaten life crippling injuries upon your person, she’s actually sometimes, possibly quite sweet. Maybe.” He smirks a little and
Tara 's frown returns, a conflicted hesitation filling her face as she listens. Her gaze falls away for a time before meeting Leah's once more. She draws in a long breath of cold air, and... still no response coms right away. Only after several seconds of still silence does she offer a series of faint nods, looking away from Leah again.
Jattic seems to be taking Nathan's assessment of Leah at face value, the humor of it lost on him. He hums an affirmative, folding his arms across his chest and tucking his coffee cup against the nook of his elbow. "Yes. She is a powerful woman." he says in that throaty, batarian voice of his, his delivery making it sound like the utmost compliment he could offer, "Quite vigorous." He considers this for a moment before taking
another drink of his coffee and patting Nathan on the shoulder with his free hand. "You are a very lucky man." he concludes on. Was-... was that a batarian broment?
Leah watches Tara, whatever remained of her frail smile slipping away entirely as she gauges her reaction, replaced by a frown. "...You can talk to me, Tara." she says, her words almost sounding pleading as she struggles to read the young woman and her alien, restrained reactions.
Nathan blinks rapidly at Jattic’s words, looking between the hand and the face of the Batarian. “Uh, thanks?” His cheeks gain a little colour and he offers a small smile to him. That’s probably the greatest compliment he has ever gotten off of Jattic and even more likely to be the only one. So, he’ll take that. He gives him a nod before a thought crosses his mind. He sets his empty cup down and says,
“Hey, this is a massive change of topic but, uh, your gauntlet. The... what was it called again... enforcer gauntlet? How does that work, exactly? Is it a program in your omni-tool, a separate thing or...?”
Tara reluctantly looks back to Leah, studying her for a moment before looking like she's finally going to speak, but instead lowers her gaze again, avoiding her eyes. It's not hard to see the worry and uncertainty in her face.
Jattic gives another pat of Nathan's shoulder as he's thanked. But his interest seems to pique at the mention of his gauntlets, weapons far more his pace than relationships. "Enforcement gauntlets." he corrects, "They are... used by law enforcement back home." There's a bit of hesitation in saying as much, but he's quick to sweep it aside with the addition of, "It is a module installed in my armor. You have interest in aquiring
Leah remains patient, positioning herself in front of Tara as she watches her struggle. She props up that small, comforting smile. "It's okay, sweetheart... Take your time." she says, giving her hand another gentle squeeze.
Nathan nods and turns to his duffle bag containing his armour. He begins rooting around inside it as he speaks. “Yeah... I’ve seen people use omni-blades and the like when they’re caught in close quarters. Or, you know, at least heard of it.” He grabs his own gauntlet and activates the spring mechanism to dispense the knife inside it, displaying it to Jattic. “All I have is this. Better than nothing,
don’t get me wrong, and it’s easy to conceal. But against armoured targets, it really means jack shit. Your Enforcement Gauntlet, however...”.
Tara doesn't really seem reassured by Leah's words, but she does feel compelled to respond eventually. "You don't know it will work." she says, her voice quiet and careful, quite clearly not comfortable with questioning Leah's abilities or knowledge.
Jattic watches the gauntlet with far more interest than he shows for most things. As Nathan continues to speak, he allows a grin to tug at the corner of his mouth at the implied appraisal of his equipment. "Omni-blades have their use." he says, though by his tone it's clear he prefers his gauntlets to them. "But they are too specific of a tool. My gauntlets allow me both offensive capabilities as well as defensive ones, should
Leah tilts her head to the side as she Tara voices her concern. "You're worried we're going to fail tomorrow..." she says, prodding as if to make sure that's what Tara is getting at.
Tara nods slightly. The truth is that that's only one of the many, many things that weigh down her mind, but it's the one she chooses to focus on.
Jattic gives a single nod, clearly pleased that it seems to have piqued Nathan's curiosity. "It is functionally quite similar to the barrier of a shield generator." he continues to explain. He gives a small shrug at the oversimplification. "Dial your shields past the point allowed by your hardware and you will see a similar effect to what my gauntlets do. An uncontrollable one without the additional perks of my gauntlents-..."
he clarifies, lest Nathan had any wild ideas, "...but similar. Should a round come in contact with my gauntlets while active, they will repel the shots no differently than if my shields had been impacted. Not the largest of shields. But-..." he tilts his head respectfully as he uses Nathan's own turn of phrase, "...better than nothing."
Leah allows that small smile to reform and she reaches out with her other hand, taking both of Tara's in her own. "I do know, Tara." she says softly. Almost apologetically, not that Tara would understand why. Because of what it says about her. There's not a doubt in her mind that not a single slaver will leave this compound alive. They're practically dead already. She just hasn't delivered the news yet. Of course that doesn't
mean things can't go wrong. That people won't get hurt. They're very real concerns for her. Ones that she doesn't venture to hide from Tara out of respect for her. "You trust me, right...?"
Tara blinks, the question seeming to catch her a little off-guard, but after swallowing she's quick to nod.
Nathan listens with professional interest to Jattic. If the enforcement gauntlets can act in a similar fashion to shields as a last ditch effort, it certainly adds some survivability to his already solid defences. He nods, rubbing his chin in thought. “Any drawbacks to them?”
Leah gives a nod in turn. "Then trust that I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Okay?" She holds Tara's gaze as she speaks, her grip growing slightly more firm. Her words, obviously, add nothing new to the conversation. By this point hopefully Tara knows that she has every intention of protecting her. But it's said with commitment. With conviction. She's not taking any of this lightly. She knows just how dangerous the
day to come is going to be. "I can't promise you that everything will go according to plan. I can't promise you that-..." she blinks, taking a breath, "...that nobody will get hurt. But I promise you that by the time tomorrow ends? You will have your freedom. Okay? And no matter what it costs-... No matter what. It. Costs." she repeats, pausing for a moment to let that sink in. "It will be worth it. Because you
didn't cause any of this, Tara. They did. And whatever happens tomorrow? It's on their hands. Not yours. Understand?"
Jattic considers the question briefly, raising the cup to sip at the last of his coffee. "They are messy." he says simply, recalling all of the husk gore and viscera that he had to scrape out of the deep crevices of his hardsuit. It's a lighthearted assessment... probably. But after another moment's consideration he devotes a little thought to it. "And they do not double as a cutting instrument." he adds with a glance towards
Tara doesn't seem all that assured by Leah's words. It's not so easy to convince her that her freedom will be worth the cost, or that whatever hurt that will follow doesn't fall on her. Her gaze falls to their hands, going silent aside from a quiet sniffle in response to the cold air. Still, she offers a half-hearted nod in response.
Leah lets out a small sigh as she studies Tara, the worry and fear easy to see. She doesn't say anything else. What else could she say? It's not as if she doesn't understand Tara's apprehension. And nothing she says- no assurances she gives, no promises she makes- can take away that fear that has been instilled in her, cultivated over a lifetime. But time keeps moving forward and House Bar'adon is already on their way. So,
even if Tara would believe her, assurances and promises don't hold any value at this point. But it doesn't matter, because she has the training and experience to back them up. And that? That holds a lot of value. It's just a shame that Fasha doesn't realize how scared he should be. That he isn't feeling the same horror that he's inflicted on others. But he will... Drawing in a breath, she gently pulls Tara into a hug.
Tara is quick to return the hug despite her fears over the day to come, hiding her face against the collar of Leah's jacket.