Leah falls silent in turn, merely glaring at Fasha, forearms pressed against her armored leg as she awaits Nathan's return. "He'll be back soon..." she finally says, her voice growing devoid of emotion as she decides against pushing the slaver any further. The last thing she needs is for him to come to the conclusion that there's no way out of this for him. That would only discourage him from cooperating. "...When he does,
#Kalus'Compound – March 7, 2019
you're going to release the remaining slaves. Quickly and quietly. The medevac will be here soon. Once I put you on that shuttle I don't ever want to see you again." she continues, big green eyes drilling holes through the young batarian. "If I ever catch wind of you anywhere near myself or Tara? If I ever have any reason to believe that you might come for her again? Hell, if either of us so much as see that disgusting
brand of yours again? I'm going to come for you." she explains, speaking slowly and clearly just to make sure he understands just how serious her threat is. Of course none of it will matter once he as outlived his usefulness, but he doesn't need to know that. He needs to believe he can walk away from this. Believe that it's valuable for him to remain useful to them. "And I will kill you. I will kill everyone who works
for you. I will kill the people you love, one-by-one, until there is nobody left alive to carry on that cursed name of yours and House Bar'adon is burned to the ground. Do you understand?" she asks, her words cold and calculating. Devoid of feeling. "Tell me you understand."
Jattic watches in silence as Nathan collects the barcodes of the slaves. His gaze shifts to the wounded batarian on the ground that Tara is hovering over. "How is he?" he asks.
Nathan nods to the soldier as the last code is scanned, his face dimly framed by the soft orange hue of his omni-tool. "Thank you. That's all." He looks at everyone once more, inhaling a deep breath before slowly exhaling. "I'm heading back to Leah. We shan't be too long now." He starts to exit the room and walk back to where Leah and their prisoner are, giving Jattic a faint pat on the shoulder as he passes.
Fasha tries to lean away from Leah, but can't of course, the table preventing him. There's nothing short of terror in his eyes as he stares up at her. He hardly looks the part of cruel slave master or hardened House lord, but the truth is known, of course. Her final words are quick to elicit a series of rapid nods - he seems far more interested in saving his own skin than any attempt at posturing.
Tara carries a faint frown as she looks over to Jattic. "I-I don't know..." she says with a shake of her head, although her concern is clear.
Leah leans forward slightly, blade clanking against her armor plating as she does. "Say, 'I understand'." she repeats, eyes locked on the batarian.
Jattic draws a breath in, gaze remaining on the wounded man. "Jasper will arrive soon." he says, as if that may ease her concerns. "Ensure that everyone is ready to leave when he does. We must not waste time."
Nathan arrives in the doorway to the makeshift 'interrogation room', remaining silent as he looks at Leah and Fasha.
Leah holds Fasha's gaze for a moment longer before leaning back and removing her boot from the bench, standing straight once more. "Good." she says firmly. She takes a step back, casting a glance towards the doorway. Nathan's presence causes her a brief double-take, uncertain just how long he's been there. It causes her expression to falter briefly, the steel look on her face giving way to discomfort for just a moment before
Nathan watches her for a moment longer, a thin line for a mouth and a glance to the slaver on the table. He holds up his omni-tool as he walks in, bringing up the files with the numbers in them. “Yeah. Got them all here. We’re good to go.” He stands besides her, before presenting them to Fasha, brow furrowing. “Free them. Now.”
Fasha is quick to comply, searching out the scanned numbers and starting the process. Signing the individual release forms is slow going, and an uncomfortable silence descends as he types.
Leah gives a small nod as Nathan confirms he got the information. As the batarian gets to work, she looms over his shoulder, arms folding across her chest as she does. She allows the blade to be taken by the magnetic holstering system on her chestplate as she watches in silence. She seems to avoid Nathan's gaze. They've barely even begun to define whatever it is that they have together and she's already gotten him shot and had
him take part in an interrogation in which 'torture' was on the table. She tries not to focus on any of that, her attention fixed on the omni-tool as she watches the scared slaver type. Every keystroke is one step closer to his demise. One step closer to Tara's freedom.
Nathan watches Fasha closely, allowing the silence to build. He doesn’t avert his gaze from the Batarian, an icy chill hanging in the room. And not just because of the abysmal weather out there. No, Nathan can feel the variety of tension bubbling from Leah like a toiling storm, the eventuality that’s going to occur regardless of what transpires in this room. In the end, Fasha will be dead and buried in a pit with
Fasha eventually finishes his work under Leah and Nathan's supervision, each slave marked as emancipated. What impact this will have and whether it will hold up without verification with authorities is hard to say, but at the very least the bounty on Tara is lifted. All that remains is transmitting the documentation on Tara that Leah wanted, something she could easily do herself. Or have Fasha do, of course.
Leah closely watches, ensuring that Fasha doesn't try anything. Once the legal documents have been handled she lifts her left arm, holographic display projecting above her forearm. Soon enough Fasha would get a prompt for a connection. "Send the files." she says, peering at the batarian through the semi-translucent interface.
Nathan steps back and moves behind Fasha, his omni-tool fading into nothingness. He watches, quietly, finger idly tapping against the pistol at his hip.
Fasha 's gaze leaves the screen briefly - first to Leah, and then to Nathan - before swallowing and going back to typing, sending the gathered documents over without any fuss.
Leah watches her omni-tool in a tense silence. Just staring at it until the transfer has finished. Once done, the room dims as the light from her holographic display dissipates back into her forearm and she steps over to the left side of Fasha and snatches the omni-tool from his hand. "Get his other arm." she says to Nathan with a nod to the side opposite of her. She stows his omni-tool into the pouch at her waist and loops her
right, armored arm through Fasha's left and beginning to lift him into a seated position as she prepares to pull him from the table.
Nathan doesn’t hesitate, already stepping forward to grab his arm and hoist him into a seated position too. His face is a blank slate, allowing him to focus on the grim task that is to come. He fears that if he speaks, that if he allows himself to even consider it again, it would cause him to falter. And right now, he cannot falter... he cannot. God forgive him for what he’s about to participate in.
Leah shifts towards the head of the table, pulling Fasha with her. "Come on. Let's go." she says sharply to Fasha as she, with Nathan's help, hoists him off the table. His bound ankles mean it'll be on them to keep him upright. She readjusts her grip, slipping her arm under Fasha's armpit to keep ahold of him as she- hopefully with Nathan's assistance on the other side- starts towards the door. Her destination is the
Nathan drags Fasha alongside Leah, his arm tucked under Fasha's in a similar fashion to Leah. He keeps pace, following her lead in grim silence.
Fasha stumbles as weight is put on his injured legs, letting out a pained cry, the arms around his the only thing keeping him from falling to the ground.
Leah allows Fasha's legs to dangle against the ground, her short stature making it impossible for her to do much about it, but she does- with Nathan's assistance- hold up the batarian as best as she can so not much weight is put on his legs. But she moves at a steady pace, his stumbling not deterring her. Her big green eyes remain ahead of her, focusing on what is in front of her rather than taking the time to consider what she
has to do. Once they reach the eastern door, her grip on Fasha loosens slightly as she tries to grip the door with one hand and slide it open. Her small size forces her to lean into it a few times as she pulls with one hand, but eventually it slides open and she reorients her grip on the slaver. Fasha's legs drag against the snow as he's pulled outside and it's not long before it should become clear where they're dragging
him. There's no shuttle to be seen. No medevac. Just a large, deep hole dug at the edge of the forest. Mounds of snow flank the hole on every side aside from the one they're approaching from.
Nathan 's gaze hardens at the sight of the deep hole in the ground, the hole that he helped dig. The biting chill of the winter air is almost forgotten against his bare face as he drags his own feet through the snow, steps feeling heavier and heavier as they approach. He cannot falter. He cannot falter. His grip on Fasha's arm tightens, part to steel himself as they get closer and closer and part to somewhat deter
him from considering resisting, even though he knows that it'll ultimately be futile if he does or doesn't. This is how it is, this is how it will be.
Fasha near enough falls to the floor as he tries to walk, but with pained grunts through gritted teeth he wills himself to walk out the building, with Nathan supporting a good deal of his weight. Of course, he thinks they're headed for a shuttle. Towards medical care. As they step outside and it starts to become clear that there is no transport waiting, his unease grows. "Where is-..." the large hole they spent the past day
Tara steps out into the dark corridor upon hearing the pained cry, a frown forming as a curious, concerned gaze spots Leah and Nathan in the light of their omni-tools guiding Fasha down the corridor, away towards the exit. She follows with silent, hesitant steps in the dark, keeping her distance.
Leah utters a harsh, "Shut up." once Fasha begins to protest as she continues towards the hole, her grip tightening on him in case he tries to shake them off. Not that he could get very far with his ankles bound. Once they reach the edge of the hole she presses her right boot against the back of Fasha's left knee in an attempt at forcing him onto his knees.
Fasha sounds of both surprise and pain as he is harshly pushed to his knees, fear rising in his face as the situation starts to set in. He's starting to strain against them, but he is weak from bloodloss and cold. "This is-... I did what you asked! The slaves are freed! Let me go!"
Leah barely even regards Fasha's words as she leans to the side, hand digging back into the pack at her waist. She tosses the omni-tool into the snow in front of him and, soon enough, a credit chit joins it. "Ten-thousand credits." she says, not giving any context immediately. A small puff of smoke escapes as her lungs exhale the air in them. She looks over the hole rather than looking to Fasha, entirely unaware of the presence
watching over them from the warehouse door. "That's the price you decided her life was worth." She pinches her bottom lip between her teeth, tugging on it for a moment as she studies the deep hole in the ground. One they're soon going to have to fill with bodies. Fill with dirt. A task she's not even sure they're up to with their injuries. But none of that matters right now. "What is your life worth?" she asks as she
turns her attention back to the batarian. Her gaze lowers to the omni-tool and the credit chit, giving a small nod of her head towards them. "Convince me." she says as her big green eyes affix to him once more. "Convince me that you're worth keeping alive. You like to throw credits around, right? Buying and selling lives like they're cattle. How much are you willing to pay for your own life?"
Nathan releases Fasha as he takes a few steps back, gaze never falling on the young woman watching them from the doorway. One hand reaches down and draws his predator pistol, the weapon unfolding and rising with ease. The other merely balls into a fist as he raises the gun and levels it at Fasha's head. Cold, bitter silence is all that comes from Nathan. Falter. Can't falter. Why can't he? Why can't he just put down
the gun and let Leah deal with this, let her carry the memory of executing a man and dropping him in a pit. Why couldn't he just walk away? Because part of him wanted this. A deep, dark part of him wanted this. A chance to pull the trigger and let the bullet of a thousand slaves burrow into body and brain. Because part of him believed that this, single action would be a way to repay the failures of the past,
the slaves he couldn't rescue, a way to show the galaxy that the 'powerful' batarian slaver houses were not untouchable. That they can be felled, they can be beaten. Sure, another will rise in his place, but it will form or be taken over with the express knowledge that there were people out there who could stand up to them, to fight against them and to win. That is why his finger is ready to squeeze the
Fasha 's eyes widen, and at first he stammers. "I-... I am a rich man! My House is powerful. I can provide whatever luxuries you wish! Credits, favours... my House has riches and influence. If you desire credits, I can pay!" he's quick to assure.
Leah continues to watch Fasha, eyes never leaving him. Continuing to avoid Nathan's gaze as if, so long as she doesn't look at him, he won't know it's her doing all of this. "I asked you a question." she says coldly. "What. Is. Your. Life. Worth?" she repeats slowly, each word carrying steam into the cold air. "Show me." she adds, once again nodding to the credit chit on the ground. A hollow snort follows, accompanied by an icy
Fasha flinches, his gaze going down to the chit. "I can-... whatever you desire, my House will pay, if you let me contact them... please, I am sure we can come to an agreement." His fear and uncertainty is obvious, voice and breath growing unsteady as he pleads.
Leah furrows her brow, anger beginning to boil up when Fasha continues to try and bargain. "What is your life worth?" she repeats overtop of him, ignoring his pleas. "Put it on the chit right now or we're going to kill you." she explains plainly. There's no sympathy in here voice. No emotion.
Fasha is quick to reach for the omni-tool, hands trembling as he slots in the chit and starts typing. "This-... this is all I can clear without contacting my House, you must understand..." he qualifies desperately as he finishes, shutting the omni-tool down. "Just-... just allow me to contact them and we can negotiate a ransom of your choice. I am an important man, I assure you I can provide you with-... with many riches in
Leah sends another quick, empty, "Shut up." Fasha's way as she leans over and snatches both the chit and the omni-tool out of his hands. Soon enough the holographic projection of her omni-tool appears above her left arm and she makes to quickly check just how much he put on it.
A hundred thousand credits. A considerable sum - although no doubt fairly insignificant to the head of a powerful batarian House. With the batarian economy being cut off from the rest of the galaxy, it seems likely that most of his riches would be difficult to access as Council-standard credits. This is likely a sum brought specifically for this excursion.
Leah allows the interface to dissipate once more, a large puff of air escaping her lungs as she holds the chit between her thumb and index finger and studies it. She turns it in her hand for a few charged moments before she lets out a small, humorless snort and shakes her head softly. "You really think your life is worth that much more than hers...?" she asks, brow furrowing. The emotion slips into her voice once more. But
only for a second. "I know what kind of man you are, Fasha. I know the things that you've done. The way that you hurt her. The way that you hurt countless others." She allows a moment to pass, swallowing at the lump in her throat. "You... are an insect. A disease. A coward. And you're not worth the round that we're going to put through your head." she says, making sure to hold the batarian's gaze. Her hand moves to the
Nathan | Click. Bang! The retort of Nathan’s pistol echoes sharply through the silence of the forest around them. His gaze is hard, cold, for once letting the deep and repressed anger and rage guide his actions, to help him pull the trigger, to let the discharge of the pistol be the hundreds of voices that have lost their lives to the foul machinations and intent of people like him. Insect. Disease. Parasite. A few
words to label him, many more laying unsaid within him. He lowers the pistol to his side, grip tight. “...”. Small puffs of chilled breath escape him as the gravity of his action weighs upon his shoulders. “...”
Fasha 's eyes widen at Leah's words. "Wh-... no! Wait, I-" BANG. The white snow is stained with a grisly spray of red, and the lifeless body of the young batarian lord hangs loose in their grip, head slumping forward. His riches do nothing to shield him from their judgement, and the people under his authority are defeated or distant. The new Lord of House Bar'adon is no more.
Tara jumps slightly at the gunshot, a gasp going unheard under the loud noise. Her pale blue eyes are wider than ever as she stares at the group outside, arms wrapped around herself.
Leah doesn't seem to have expected Nathan to pull the trigger. The Carnifex hands loosely at her side, its weight seeming to grow heavier with each passing second. She draws a few breaths in through her nose as she looks at Fasha's lifeless form. "I-..." she stammers, big green eyes growing a bit glassy as they flutter a few times. The sudden emotion isn't due to what just transpired. That was necessary. She may not be proud of
it. She may not be happy that it had to be this way. But it was necessary. Regardless of the reason or who deserves the blame for shaping Fasha into the monster he had become, he was a monster. And Tara- as well as the other slaves- would have never been safe had he walked away from this today. "...You didn't have to do that, Nate..." she offers softly. Apologetically, as if afraid she just unloaded her own burden onto
his shoulders. "...You didn't need to be the one to-..." she continues, her already quiet voice trailing off into silence.
Nathan continues to look to the still body of Fasha, the snow stained with the blood of an unarmed man who Nate has just executed without a seconds pause. His lips part, words lingering on the tip of his tongue before they disappear in a puff of air as he exhales. The pistol is slowly holstered on his hip, fingers unfurling only to shake. The shake travels across his hand, up his arm. His other hand snatched his own
wrist to steady the shaking, fingers curling back into a tight fist. He had to do it, right? He had to be the one to do it? For Jasmine? For his squad? For his own selfish desire? Perhaps he thought that this would act as a substitute for the lives lost from all those years ago and that this would be payment for him living. Maybe that’s why he had to be the one to pull the trigger. “...neither did you.”
Tara is frozen in the doorway, silent, watching. There's a shocked surprise on her face, and other feelings, obscured underneath. A mix hard to decipher.
Leah gives a number of small, distant nods, eyes remaining firmly on Fasha. All of that emptiness that she had reserved for Fasha now filled with regret for having dragged Nathan into this whole mess. She draws in another deep breath as she reholsters her sidearm, gaze turning to the chit now resting in the palm of her other hand. Blood money framed by a splash of blood staining her plated ballistic gloves. It's not her money.
She wouldn't even want it if it was. "...This will go a long way towards giving those people a shot at turning their lives around." she says, unable to lift her voice above a whisper. She knows damn well that it won't be able to undo all of the horrors those people have endured. There's a heaviness that comes with that fact that undercuts what they did here today. None of this is going to heal the trauma. Not for any of
the slaves inside. Not for Tara. No more than it will for the people outside. It won't bring back Jasmine. It won't balance some sort of scale, lifting Damien's heavy weight from her conscience. But it will keep one more slaver from hunting Tara down. And that's enough. It has to be enough. That was the mission. Her fingers curl around the credit chit and she crouches down beside the body, nudging it over the edge of the
grave they dug. Soon others will be piled on top of him. Left unmarked and nameless to rot with no distinction between slaves and their master.
Nathan nods distractedly, quiet as the body thumps into the dirt at the bottom of the pit. The first of many. Soon to be buried beneath churned earth and covered by the snow. Left for the wildlife to deal with. One less barbarian in this galaxy to harm and destroy lives. So why did he feel empty inside? Why did this not grant him a measure of peace, not even a grain? Questions to deal with another time. “...I’ll
get in contact with Sandbeck. Get the message sent, get the cogs turning.” The snow crunches beneath his armoured boot as he takes a step back, but he is unable to tear his gaze away from the grave before him. “...fuck.”
Tara can't manage to bring herself to move. She just remains where she is in the open doorway, her expression turning odd as the shock fades, the cold wind causing her to bite down on her teeth a little, gaze darting between Leah, Nathan, and the grave.
Leah remains crouched- perched at the edge of the grave- plated boots in blood-stained dirt and snow. Nathan's exclamation causes her to finally look his way. It's a look of guilt and sympathy. "..I'm sorry, Nate." she offers, but it sounds distant. She's not even sure what she's apologizing for. For getting him shot? For dragging him into this mess at all? For letting the weight of pulling the trigger fall onto his shoulders?
No, it's about more than that. It's about the gravitational pull of her colossally fucked up life that just seems to drag in everyone around her. Anyone who gets close to her. Because of who she is. Because of what she is. "I-..." she begins when something in her peripheral vision catches her eye, causing her to glance back over her shoulder. As her eyes shift to Tara she draws in a deep breath and swallows hard, sharply
turning her gaze back to the grave, head bowed. Unable to look the young girl in the face after what just transpired. She wanted so badly to hide all of this from Tara. All of the ugliness in her life. The violence. To keep Tara from looking at her the way so many others have all throughout her life. It was selfish and it wasn't going to last. It never did. The tears that escape her large green eyes are met with the palm
of her hand before they can even begin their journey down her cheeks. She blinks back against them, refusing to let any more out with a sniffle. "We-... Jasper will be here soon..." she says, trying to keep her focus on the task at hand despite the heavy emotion slipping into her voice.
Nathan looks to her, then off in the direction she looks in. He releases a shuddering sigh and murmurs another expletive. Of all the people to have lingered and watched, it had to be Tara. “...yeah.” He nods softly, now turning away from Tara to look back to the biotic besides him. He badly wants to wrap her in a hug, to give her a moment to let the human side of her breach the surface of her soldier’s mask.
But it wasn’t the time to do that. Not yet. There’s still a little work left to do... no matter how grim it was. He turns to walk back to the building, fingers reaching to turn on his omni-tool. However, he pauses and, with voice soft, says, “She didn’t watch you pull the trigger. She saw me do that... whatever repercussions come from her watching that, it at least lays solely on my shoulders. You’ve
Tara seems to unroot when Leah's gaze falls on her. She's quick to step back when neither of them are looking her way, activating the light on her own omni-tool as she starts to head back down the corridor, gaze low in silent thought.
Leah keeps her gaze low. Fixed to Fasha. Nathan's words get a few rapid headnods from her, but no words accompany it. It's clear that she's desperately trying to keep her emotions in check. Keep herself from falling apart. She sucks in her lips and another deep sniffle follows. There is some undeniable comfort that it wasn't her that Tara saw executing Fasha. It's a selfish thought that only brings with it more guilt. But
it's there. Not that it matters, of course. Plenty of people are dead today because Leah wanted to do the right thing. It's not a decision she took lightly, but it was a decision all the same. And one that Tara made pretty clear didn't sit right with her. The finger on the trigger may have belonged to Nathan, but it was Leah who set all of this into motion. There's no regret that accompanies the thought. Tara is safer
because she made the decision. Just a sadness that it had to be her to make the decision. Guilt that it always has to be her. "...I know." she says softly, hazarding a glance up at Nathan from her perch at the edge of the grave. She tries to offer an appreciative smile, but it falters before it can even fully manifest. "I-... I'm fine." she lies, "...I just need a minute, okay?"