Tara sat down in front of the human slave that Nathan brought back from the woods. The batarian mechanic is still unconcious, and the soldier has rebuffed any attempts to communicate. She's stayed away from the adjunct. "Leah will... Leah will help." she says quietly, not sounding quite as certain as she ought to. "We will let you go soon. You can do what you want then. And-... and we're going to help if you want to." she repeats
#Kalus'Compound – February 28, 2019
with a nod. The girl responds with faint nod of her own, but when Tara looks in the direction of the soldier he averts his gaze. She falls silent, gaze falling to the floor. Soon a quiet sigh slips out and she starts to climb to her feet. "I-... I'm sorry..." She barely manages to get the words out in a half-mumble, discomfort overtaking her as she heads for the door.
Emma gives a sharp nod in response to Leah, her gaze wandering to Mendez after she leaves. "Rough fight." she says, shifting her leg a little as she studies him.
There's no immediate response from Halisi, not exactly surprising given how busy her days usually are. After a few signals the call connects. "Hello Leah, I'd love to talk but do you think I could call you back during lunch? I'm a little busy right now." Her voice is a bit static-y, and judging by the voices in the background she's in the hospital.
Mendez gives a snort as Leah exits the barracks. Emma's words cause him to glance her way. He looks like-... well, like he just got into a fight with a blood raging krogan. "Could've been worse if you weren't here." he says bluntly, but doesn't linger on the thought for too long. "How's the leg?" he asks instead with a nod in her general direction. He tries to sit up slightly, propping his back against the headboard of the bed,
Leah continues down the hall, leaving her slotted omni-tool to place the call as she reaches back to idly tug at her braid. Still very much in work-mode, she hasn't yet had the chance to free her hair. As she reaches the dining room where Fasha is being held, she raps a gauntleted hand against the door frame to get Nathan's attention just as Halisi's voice chimes in, causing her to merely signal her intent to him. She holds up
one finger and then gestures to the unconscious slaver to signify that she's going to be dealing with him in just a minute so Nathan should prepare. "Uh-... yeah, that's-... Sorry, but it's kind of important." she sighs, scrambling to get Halisi's attention before she can hang up. She turns back down the hall, continuing the way she was heading towards the storage area.
Jattic remains near the door, watching as Tara's attempts are mostly met with stonewalling. But he doesn't involve himself.
Nathan is resting on the wall next to the doorframe, fingers tapping against his armoured forearm in rhythmic fashion. Taptaptaptap. Taptaptaptap. Then, Leah’s knocks against the doorframe cause his eyes to dart her way, eyebrow raised in silent question. Instead of speaking, he merely nods to her gesture and pushes himself off the wall. He walks over to his kit and reaches into the duffel-bag he brought with him
into the room. Silently, he reaches in and begins to remove a few items. Four tweaked shockers. The Lemon Drop. And a power tool used for maintenance on his armour, the futuristic version of a blowtorch which juts a big concentration of electricity to fuse plates together. Methodical. Careful. He glances at the unconscious slayer, a sneer forming on his face. Not yet, though. He has to wait for Leah.
There's a brief, apprehensive pause and movement noise before Halisi's voice comes over the comms again. "What's wrong?" she asks, the concern obvious in her voice. 'Important' tends to mean 'bad' in the company she's kept since coming to Aite. Something she learned all too quickly.
Tara sees Leah head into the mess hall, and heads after her, although she remains silent when she notices the ongoing call.
Emma looks down at her splinted leg, looking it over for a moment. "I have had worse." she says matter-of-factly. "I'm sorry I couldn't keep the krogan off you." she says as her gaze rises to Mendez again, sharp blue eyes focusing on his medigel-slathered shoulder.
Human 's gaze darts over to Jattic after Tara leaves, her unease obvious. She's quick to look down, as if afraid of being noticed.
Leah winces slightly as she passes through the door to the storage area and Halisi- rightfully- assumes the worst. "Well-..." she begins, drawing in a breath. "...It's about the-... You remember that thing we talked about?" she asks without providing any context, brow furrowed as she crosses the room towards the door outside. "The thing?" she clarifies without actually clarifying. It seems she realizes as much given the deep
sigh that accompanies her words. "...The slavers...?" she adds tentatively. "I-... uhh-... it's over. Mostly-... Kinda-...? I hope." she settles on, her mouth moving at a familiar pace, as if to get it all out before Halisi has a chance to turn her away. "But it could've gone better." In a mutter she adds, "Could've gone worse, too..." as she slips outside and crouches down, retrieving a water bottle she stowed
in the snow once everything had settled. "Point is, we've got wounded. Mendez is pretty hurt, we think Emma has a broken leg, and we've got a room full of slaves that I have no clue what to do with, Halisi..." An exasperated sigh slips out as she begins to feel the weight of everything adding up. "A couple of them are pretty banged up. Jasper is en route to extract the wounded, but taking a bunch of branded slaves to a
Mendez gives a small, unenthusiastic snort. "Yeah? Well that makes two of us." he says, his voice carrying that same, monotone unenthusiasm as usual despite his injuries. "On both accounts, unfortunately." he clarifies with a sigh.
Jattic holds the slave's gaze for a moment, merely giving a roll of his shoulders in response. The implication isn't lost on him. But he's in a room full of slaves whose House has just been attacked. There's no telling how loyal they are. Fear isn't exactly a bad thing. If they're afraid of him, they're less likely to try anything. And that's in all of their best interest. So he continues to silently watch over the room.
Nathan organised his gear out on the table. The threat of torture is usually enough to get most people talking. If it actually came down to it though? Nathan has very little experience to it. The worst he’s given is a few punches to get someone talking, and even then that was just a low grade thug holding out on some information. Fasha is the house leader of a slaving clan. A grand house. They’re usually
toughened, battle scarred warriors, at least from what he’s gathered. Then again... he glances over Fasha and rolls his eyes, brow still knitted in a frown. This guy, however, is young. Spoilt. Naive. Hell, his life has probably been one of opulence and splendour, living off his father’s wealth. He picks up the torch and turns it over in his hand, a soft hum escaping him. Nate might just conk him over the
The background noises have quieted - Halisi must have stepped aside into an empty room. "What? Leah, what are you-... why didn't I know about this? What about-..." There's a heavy sigh as she cuts herself off, collecting her thoughts. "Have Jasper bring the wounded to Redrock. I'll bring equipment to supplement the infirmary. What should I be prepared for?"
Tara stops in the doorway, lingering halfway out of view as she listens to the conversation, a worried frown on her face. Her gaze inevitably lands on Nathan's assortment of tools after a time.
Emma snorts quietly, her gaze turning towards the door as she goes silent for a time. "I thought I saw some of their fighters tied up. I didn't think we were taking prisoners...?" she says, looking back to Mendez questioningly.
Adjunct studies Jattic, an almost analytical look to him, as if trying to place him. Maybe recognize some detail from his armor.
Nathan keeps focused on his tools for a while, staring at them in thoughtful silence. Eventually, however, he feels another set of eyes on him and he peers over to Tara, a soft smile on his face. He brushes some of the tools back into the duffel bag in absent thought, a relieved look washing over his features. She made it. She made it through alive and unscathed from what he can see. He didn’t fuck it up again.
Sure, he wasn’t directly looking after her. Hell, Mendez should rightfully be credited for keeping Tara safe. But looking back on it, if Nathan hadn’t acted to save Mendez, to go out there and fight rather than stand over Tara... who knows what might’ve happened, how different things could’ve gone. “Hey. You doing okay?”
Leah is quick to speak overtop Halisi when it seems like she's going to voice her displeasure. "I know! I know!" she insists, a sigh of her own joining Halisi's. She winces at the mention of Redrock. It's not likely that this is all going to just fly under the radar anyway at this point, but the thought of bringing the wounded there still doesn't sit right with her. Of course she doesn't have a whole lot of options at this
point. "...Thank you, Halisi." she says, a softness creeping back into her tone, unbefitting of someone who just ran through a bunch of slavers. "Plenty of blunt force trauma to go around. Deep lacerations." she begins to list with another sigh, shaking her head to herself as she steps back into the warehouse and starts back across the room. "Like I said, we think Emma's leg is broken. She has a feeling her rib might be,
Mendez gives a small shake of his head. "Slaves." he says simply. "Looks like Fasha had them fighting for him... Trom what I gather they weren't all slaves. But-..." he gives a couple nods of his head, pulling in a long, drawn out sigh at the implication. It's less guilt and more frustration over having his hand forced. "...some."
Jattic meets the adjunct's gaze, merely watching him in return for the moment. "You have something you wish to say?" he eventually asks expectantly, his deep voice little more than a guttural growl.
There's a bit of a pause before Halisi replies, no doubt making note of Leah's list. "Alright. I'll be ready." she assures, any trace of her initial exasperation gone, focused on helping now. "Is everyone stable enough to make the trip? How far out are you?"
Emma blinks. "W-... what...?" she stutters out in disbelief, eyes locking onto Mendez with sudden focus, her cool shattered. "What do you-... what?"
Adjunct gives a respectful tilt of his head. "I do not." he replies politely, allowing his gaze to wander away from Jattic.
Leah gives a few nods, mostly to herself given that Halisi can't see her. "As stable as they can be. We're just inside of an hour from Freedom Falls and we put in a call to Jasper about-..." she puffs out her cheeks as she tries to come up with a close estimate for Halisi, "...Fifteen minutes ago? So you can probably expect them back in less than two hours." As she starts through the hallway door, she catches sight of Tara
outside of the door to the dining area, her big green eyes locking onto the young woman. "Halisi, I'm sorry but I-... things are a little hectic over here so I have to get going. Thank you for this-..." she reiterates. "Just-... keep it quiet for now, okay? I'll deal with Jason and the Chief when they get back from their trip." She keeps the call open, though her tone implies she's in a bit of a rush to get off the
Mendez gives a couple of nods. "...Yeah." he says, pulling another deep breath in through his nose as his gaze turns towards the door.
Jattic seems a bit disarmed by the polite response. By any response given everything that just transpired. It causes him to shift uneasily, gaze wandering across the crowd. "...This will all be over soon." he says, seeming to feel compelled to give a response of some sort.
Nathan ‘s smile fades as Tara shines away from him. He chews on his inner cheek and looks in the direction that Leah went, waiting silently for her to get back. Even now, he’s still not sure how to interact with Tara, to get through to her. Perhaps it’s just him. She seems to get along well enough with most everyone. Perhaps he needs to just accept that it’s one of those things that most likely won’t ever
change. So, instead, he quietly says, “I’m sorry.” He keeps his gaze averted from her, a small shrug accompanying it. “For everything.” He’s not entirely sure why he’s said that. It sorta felt like the right thing to say and do. Or maybe it’s a form of selfish reassurance.
Halisi sounds like she's already on the move on the other end of the call. "Just stay safe and get everyone back here in one piece." she urges, dismissing her thanks. "I will be ready."
Tara 's gaze briefly darts over to Leah before falling again. She remains where she is in the doorway to the mess hall, her eyes avoiding both Nathan and Leah, settling on the corridor floor for the time being.
Emma 's expression shifts from stunned confusion to disgust and creeping horror as her kills flash through her mind. Her presses hard against the floor as sudden queasiness overtakes her and the room seems to spin. She barely has time to lean to the side before she hurls up her breakfast onto the floor.
Leah's focus remains on Tara as she nods through Halisi's words, her voice fading into background noise as her focus shifts elsewhere. "Working on it." she says softly with a sigh before reaching out to her forearm to end the call. She steps back over towards the doorway into Fasha's makeshift holding cell and glances in at Nathan, forcing a small. She clutches the water bottle in one gauntleted hand, her other coming to rest
on Tara's shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Hey..." she offers softly as she turns her gaze to the younger woman, not having had a chance to check in with her amongst the aftermath of the chaos.
Mendez briefly glances back to Emma as she empties the contents of her stomach onto the floor, causing him to quickly avert his gaze back towards the door. He, of course, feels no better about them having ended the lives of slaves than she does. But it was kill or be killed. There was no way for them to have known that Fasha had armored, armed slaves beforehand. "We did everything that we could." he says plainly, a dry attempt
((forcing a small smile in greeting that ends up coming across as hollow and empty, especially once her green eyes shift to the slaver bound nearby*))
Nathan offers Leah a similar smile. Small, almost empty. Barely anything behind it. He merely stands quietly as she addresses Tara, instead turning back to the duffel bag and sorting out the tools once more. Anything to keep him busy. Anything to keep him focused. Shockers. Lemon Drop. Blowtorch. Shift them, organise them, shift them again. A heavy sigh followed by more silent standing as he simply watches Tara and
Leah. This has got to be difficult for Tara, beyond what he could probably imagine. Best to leave it to Leah to talk with the young woman, rather than he.
Tara 's discomfort is obvious as Leah addresses her, her gaze shifting evasively away from Leah at first, but soon she looks up at her. "Why are they bound?" she asks, the question almost off-puttingly straightforward coming from the usually timid Tara.
Emma 's queasy expression lingers. She just barely manages to save her braid from being stained, pushing it back and bringing a closed fist to her forehead as she collects herself. "...Helvete..." The muttered curse is the only sound she makes for a time, eyes closed. Eventually she starts to slowly stagger to her feet, ignoring the pain as she collects a washcloth and water to clean up the mess she's made, not uttering
Leah passes an uneasy glance Nathan's way before drawing in a deep breath, holding it for a moment, and letting it out through her nose. "...It's only temporary, sweetheart." she assures as she looks back to the young woman. "Just until we-..." she trails off, giving a small, apologetic tilt of her head as she studies Tara, well aware of how heavily all of this must weigh on her. "...They're scared of Fasha." she tries to
Mendez merely watches from the bed he's put up in. Not that he could do much to help even if he wanted to in his condition. "...You should stay off of that leg." he warns, seemingly unsure of what else to say to the woman.
Nathan hums quietly, a grim nod accompanying Leah’s words. Indeed, the desperate and scared can be capable of very dangerous acts. And liberated slaves? There’s possible years of pent up resentment and fury bubbling inside them, combined by the fear that hounded them every day... it was a dangerous combo.
Emma offers no response, awkwardly getting down to a sitting position, practically falling the last bit as she has to extend her leg to her side. She gets to work cleaning up, focusing on the act to keep her mind from spiraling.
Tara doesn't seem very assuaged by the answer, her frown deepening as her gaze falls again. Her emotions seem to override some of her usual hesitation, and she speaks again, although her voice is quieter, as if starting to withdraw into her usual self. "You didn't do that to me..."
Leah is unable to keep a hurt look from briefly crossing her face as Tara's percieved judgement hits its mark. "...You weren't trying to shoot at me." she offers softly, trying to prop up a comforting smile that just doesn't quite manifest. But her concerns aren't exactly misplaced. Their goal is to help these people, yet they 'rescue' them from a life of slavery- killing some in the process- just to immediately force them into
bonds? They must be terrified. To them, Leah and the others probably look no better than Fasha. She presses her tongue against the inside of her cheek as she considers it for a few moments, culminating in a few nods of her head. "You're right." she admits, her hand moving from Tara's shoulder to her chin to prop up her gaze. This was the exact reason she wanted Tara in charge of taking care of Fasha's servants. Because
she's the only one who has any real insight into what must be going through their heads right now. What kind of dread they must be feeling. "If you think it's going to help to make them feel safer?" she begins, giving a small shrug of her shoulders, "Then go ahead and remove the bindings. Okay?" The soldier in her is practically screaming, telling her it's a bad idea. Tactically unsound. It provides them with no
advantage. It's sentimental and dangerous. But as she studies Tara, sensing her discomfort- her worry for those who are now in the same position she once found herself in- it feels like the right thing to do.
Mendez allows the silence to overtake the room, Emma's dip in mood doing little to raise his spirits. He merely looks towards the door distantly as his mind works through events that just transpired, but the sharp pain in his shoulder keeps him from being pulled too far into his thoughts.
Tara 's gaze finds its way back to Leah's as the hand on her chin urges her to look up. She hesitates for a brief moment before giving a faint nod. It looks like she has more on her mind, but she doesn't voice her thoughts. At least not now. Instead she pulls back and heads towards the barrack door where Jattic and the slaves are. It's not hard to tell that she's still troubled.
Emma cleans the floor to the best of her abilities, taking her time. Distracting herself. The silence that fills the room is tense, interrupted only by the sound of her cleaning.
Mendez allows the silence to continue as Emma cleans. He's not exactly known for being comforting and being in pain probably just exacerbates his usual grumpiness.
Tara is quick to stop, turning back towards Leah, blinking as she waits to hear what she has to say.
Emma finishes, climbing back on her feet with difficulty, a pained wince sounding. She limps towards the door to go get rid of the ruined washcloth.
Leah lets out a huff of air as Tara turns to face her. She shifts from one leg to the other, ignoring the ache that shoots up her calf as she does. "...We're going to wake Fasha up." she says, allowing that statement to linger for a moment, sympathy in her big green eyes as she studies Tara. "I-... I thought you might want the opportunity to say your piece." she offers softly, looking almost apologetic at even suggesting she
faces her tormentor. She doesn't outright say that this might be the only opportunity Tara will have to do so. Maybe that implication is lost on Tara, but after all of the death and violence today, she just doesn't have it in her to tell Tara that when she leaves that room Fasha will most likely no longer be breathing. "...While you still can." she settles on, but it ends up sounding no less harsh to her ears. Putting an
end to Fasha was the goal, and Tara knew as much when they started this. But it still causes her to grow a bit self conscious to say it aloud. Worried what Tara may think of her when all is said and done. Will she see her like the rest of the galaxy does? As a weapon whose only purpose is to enact violence?
Mendez watches Emma as she continues to disobey his advice, causing him to draw in a deep breath. "Sit the fuck down." he grunts through his exhaustion. "A dirty rag isn't gonna hurt anyone. You need to stay off your feet or you're just gonna make things worse."
Tara 's gaze falls, the implication obvious in Leah's words. As it the girl's discomfort as she shifts in place. Soon she shakes her head faintly, eyes still on the floor.
Emma stops in front of the door, shoulders dropping as a heavy sigh sounds. She steadies herself against the wall, just staring at the door for a time before nodding distantly, discarding the rag and limping back to her spot, sliding down the wall onto the pillow she was sitting on. She grabs a bottle of water, cleaning off her hand and rinsing her mouth. It's not hard to tell her mind is preoccupied.
Leah steps forward, tugging idly at her lower lip with her teeth as she studies Tara, her discomfort not going unnoticed. She reaches out with a gauntleted hand to take Tara's, giving it a small squeeze. At first it seems as if she doesn't know what to say, leaving her to simply stand awkwardly. "...I-... have no idea what you're going through right now, Tara." she begins with a small, apologetic shrug. "But the man in that
room-..." she continues, casting a glance through the nearby door with a nod of her head, "...took everything from you. He took everything from the people in that room." A nod in the direction of the barracks. "But he doesn't own you any more. He can't control you. And, after today? He will never come for you ever again. You understand?" she asks, "You're free." She furrows her brow in confusion as she continues to
Mendez draws a deep breath in and rests his head back against the bed's headboard. "Did you really think we were coming out of this without any blood on our hands?" he asks. A low, pained grunt escapes him as he shifts his right leg, bringing his knee up so he can rest his right forearm against it.
Emma puts the water bottle down and pulls her uninjured leg up, resting an arm against it as she looks out across the room. Her only answer to Mendez is a quiet snort, eyes closing as she leans her head back against the wall. She doesn't seem to be in a very talkative state.
Tara looks down at her hand in Leah's armored gauntlet as she listens in silence. Her only response is a faint shake of her head, pulling her hand back to loosely hug herself with both arms, gaze remaining on Leah's hand. On the blood still staining the ballistic cloth of the glove.
Leah flinches as Tara pulls her hand back. It seems to cut right through her, causing her to suck in her lips. She gives a couple of small nods in response to Tara, her own gaze lowering. "...Okay." she says in little more than a whisper. A moment passes before she repeats herself with a little more conviction, "Okay." She can't exactly force Tara to face her demons if she doesn't want to. It's her choice. And if her choice is
to walk away? Then that's okay. It has to be. She follows Tara's gaze down to her gauntlets. Down to the literal blood on her hands. It stains her chestplate as well, a bit having run from the well-used edge of the blade holstered across her chest. This was the cost for Tara's freedom. And maybe it's one that Tara wasn't willing to pay. That, too, is okay. Because Leah was more than willing to pay it for her. When the
dust settles, perhaps Tara will see her in a different light. As a killer. Maybe she'll want to get as far away from her as she can. And that's also okay. Because at least she'll be safe. She absently rubs at the dried blood staining the index finger of her glove with her thumb before her gaze turns back to Tara. "...Alright." she continues, giving a small, understanding nod of her head. "Jasper should be here soon. Make
sure they're ready to go. Maybe get some warm food ready for them for the ride back to town?" she suggests absently with a shrug, her mind clearly elsewhere. "I've got my hardsuit, so I shouldn't need my jacket. So if anyone is cold, just-..." she trails off without much energy, leaving the rest implied.
Tara swallows hard, nodding. Her pale blue eyes meet Leah's for just a moment before she turns to step away, to busy herself helping the survivors. It's hard to tell just where her mind is, but her unease is obvious. She doesn't say anything.
Leah turns back towards the door to the dining area, taking a step towards it and starting through the door before looking Tara's way and pressing a hand against the doorframe. "Tara." she calls out once more for her attention. It seems as though she's unwilling to let things end on that note at first but, when she opens her mouth, all that escapes is a sigh. "...You know I'm here if you need to talk." she says instead, her
Leah watches Tara as she continues on her way, a pained expression returning to her face once she's out of sight. She shuts her large green eyes tightly and presses her forehead against the edge of the doorframe as she draws in a long deep breath, attempting to steel herself for what she needs to do. Push it all down, she reminders herself. She has a job to do. She can worry about the fallout of it all later. When Tara