It's another 20 minutes or so before the sound of a shuttle fills the air around the compound. Redrock's shuttle. Having radiod ahead, Jasper sets the shuttle down just outside of the eastern exit to the warehouse. Snow is melted away as the Kodiak's thrusters touchdown and the side of the shuttle slides open.
#Kalus'Compound – March 11, 2019
Leah has remained outside sitting at the edge of the open grave during this time, awaiting Jasper's arrival. Somehow the cold seems more comforting than the possibility of having to face Tara so soon. But as the shuttle begins to approach she rises to her feet and lifts her hand to wave down Jasper.
Jasper appears in the doorway soon enough dressed in his dirty old ballcap and grey jumpsuit, hand on the doorframe. "Huntin' trip, huh?" he says, none too amused. "You gon' let me in on jus' what in the hell is goin' on here?"
Leah gives a slight wince. "Later." she says. "Right now we've got a whole bunch of people that need to get out of here." She draws in a breath, allowing a moment to pass before adding a pleading, "Please."
Jasper draws in a deep breath, looking past Leah for a moment. "Well?" he sighs, "Don't jus' stand there. Get everyone out here!"
Leah gives a few short nods, activating her omni-tool to speak over comms as she backs towards the door. "Shuttle is here, folks. Let's get everyone loaded up." she says as she starts inside.
Tara has gone off on her own to an unoccupied room, sitting silent in the dark, far from easy to find, but the sound of Leah's voice over her omni-tool causes her to turn on her flashlight, heading down towards the barracks. She enters the one where Mendez and Emma are waiting, looking to the former with a worried frown. "It's time to go." she says softly, hovering uncertainly in the doorway, although they doubtless heard the
Emma starts to rise back on her feet, grabbing hold of one of the empty doorframes to pull herself up. She grabs her weapons case, which she was quite insistant on packing back up and bringing with her. It seems unlikely she'll be able to limp her way to the shuttle with it in hand, however.
Nathan has disappeared off to one of the many areas where they laid his explosives, beginning the long process of disarming and extracting them as best he can. After all, best to focus on not blowing yourself up rather than mull over the fact you executed man in cold blood and dumped his body in a pit in the middle of nowhere. He had just begun excavation on the next set of explosives when Leah's announcement beeps
over his comms. With a soft sigh, he gathered the explosives he had disarmed and packed and started heading back towards where he saw the shuttle land.
Jattic has remained with the slaves, keeping watch. He gives a small nod as the news reaches his ears. A simple, "Understood." is all he offers in return before looking over those in the room. "Our shuttle has arrived." he informs the slaves. "They will transport you somewhere safe. Somewhere warm to tend to your wounds and feed you." His gaze rests on the adjunct, his expression growing blank. "Even you." he snarls. He stomps
towards the wounded batarian and lowers into a crouch, taking the time to remove his gauntlets and sharp pauldrons before lifting the unconscious man over his shoulders.
Mendez has lost a bit of color, but he's still conscious. Tara's announcement causes his eyes to peel open and look her way. He gives a few small nods and, with a small amount of effort and pained groans, swings his legs over the side of the old bed. He remains like that for a moment, forearms against his thighs as his shoulder throbs through the medi-gel's numbing agents. Another pained grunt and he's upright. Rather than head
straight to the door, however, he moves to Emma's side, reaching out with his good arm to snatch the case from her without bothering to ask.
Jasper remains in the doorway of the shuttle, waiting nervously for his passengers. When he spots Nathan heading in his direction he breathes a sigh of relief. They had spoken, so he knew he couldn't have been in too bad of shape, but seeing him upright seems to ease his concerns somewhat. "Yer even dumber than you look, you know that?!" he shouts. "The hell were ya'll thinkin'?! Comin' out here and-... and-... and doin'
whatever in the hell ya'll were doin'! Lookit yerself!" he continues, gesturing to Nathan as his gaze inspects the bloody wound, "Yer all shot to shit!"
Emma opens her mouth to protest, a confounded noise all that comes. "Y-..." A quiet sigh and she starts to limp after him.
Tara steps aside to let them through the doorway, looking like she wants to ask whether Mendez can make it to the shuttle, but not quite daring to do so.
Nathan can't help but let a twinge of a smile spread onto his face at Jasper's concern... and insult. It was surprisingly comforting to hear and see the old man, even if he looked about ready to beat him with a belt. "Well, that's just a standard day in Redrock, isn't it? Getting involved in hi-jinks and getting riddled with holes? Pretty sure it was in the fine print of my contract." He offers a weak smile, one he
didn't quite feel before rolling his shoulders in a shrug. "Look... it's a long story. One I'll... I'll tell you once everyone is safe and sound." He passes a subtle glance to Leah before refocusing on Jasper. "I promise."
Jattic marches ahead, stopping once out in the hall to glance back at the slaves and give a nod for them to follow before continuing on his way.
Leah only briefly glances Nathan's way before backing through the warehouse door and hurrying down the hall. When she nears the barracks she briefly looks Tara's way, but doesn't allow her gaze to linger. There's not time for it anyway. Not now. Instead, she furrows her brow as she spots Mendez. "What are you-..." she scoffs, deep frown crossing her features as she hurries to his side to try and help him.
Mendez offers Leah a blank stare. Sure, she could most definitely carry his weight to the shuttle with her biotics. But offering him a shoulder to lean on...? He's likely to squash her. He slowly lifts his left hand and places it on her right shoulder. Her entire body leans as he puts a little weight on her. "That's so helpful." he says flatly. He draws a breath in through his nose and nods Emma's way. "Help her. I'm fine."
Leah's frown only deepens but, unless she's going to flat out carry Mendez the entire way, she's not going to be much help to him. Reluctantly she leaves her friend's side and moves to assist Emma, someone a bit more her size. "How's the leg...?" she asks.
Jasper scoffs at Nathan's words. "Ya think this is funny?! I knew ya'll were up to no good, I knew it! Had me up half the night tossin' and turnin' and-..." he sighs, his voice growing a bit softer when he speaks again, having burned off a small amount of his frustrations, "...and yer dang right yer gonna tell me." His gaze settles on the hole in Nathan's shoulder, crease forming across his forehead. "...Now come on ya big
Emma accepts Leah's assistance, although the height difference makes it a bit awkward. "Not ideal." she admits in an almost comically plain tone as she limps down the corridor towards the exit with Leah's help.
Nathan shakes his head softly at Jasper, motioning to the gaggle of slaves and badly wounded that begins to shuffle out of the buildings. "No. Them first. I still have... work here to do," he decides on. Something tells him that telling Jasper he has to remain to disarm a few dozen explosives HE planted would probably not go down too well. Like, at all. "I'll be fine for a short time."
Jattic continues to lead the slaves down the hall, careful to keep from bonking the batarian slave's head against the hallway wall. When he reaches the doorway he turns to his side and eases through, waiting on the other side for the others before starting towards the shuttle.
Mendez waits for Jattic and the others to pass before starting down the hall. Every few steps a sharp pain creeps along his left side, a fact that's given away each time he comes to a stop to collect himself.
Leah gives a hollow snort. "Yeah... I kinda gathered that much..." she says softly. She keeps pace with Mendez, stopping every few steps to wait for him. Everytime he needs to stop her concern only seems to grow. "...Not looking so good, big guy." she sighs.
Mendez pauses at the intersection to lean against the wall, Leah's words met with only silence at first. "I'm fine." he lies.
Jasper gains a look of disbelief, taking a step out of the shuttle and towards Nathan. "What in the heck d'ya mean you 'still have work here to do'?! Get on the god dang-..." he begins, but the arrival of Jattic and the slaves seems to pull his attention away. "And YOU!" he starts, stomping towards Jattic. "You-..." he pauses, looking the batarian over as he switches gears. "...You hurt...?" he asks tentatively, the
Jasper launches right back into it once he's sure Jattic isn't in any immediate danger. "Then YOU are a stubborn ass! Jus' runnin' off with these-... these-..." his gaze turns from Jattic back to Nathan, "...these idiots! Does the Chief even know ya'll are out here?! Huh?!" he asks, attention shifting between the pair. The steady stream of slaves exiting the building also draws his attention. "And who in the heck are
The slaves continue to trail after Jattic, although the soldier briefly stops to eye the shouting man.
Emma comes to a slightly staggering stop as Leah does, looking over to Mendez skeptically. "He needs help. Fast. Get him sat down, I can wait." she suggests.
Nathan sighs softly and pinches the bridge of his nose for a moment, taking the brief respite to collect his thoughts as Jasper rounds on Jattic. "They're rescued slaves," he says simply. "They have been liberated and I'm going to contact my old employers to see if they can send a rescue ship out here to collect and help them."
Leah's frown only grows, but she nods to Emma's suggestion, helping her to lean against the wall before releasing her grip and stepping over to Mendez' side.
Mendez takes a few strained breaths, forehead pressed against the wall as he attempts to muster up the strength to keep marching on. As Leah approaches he gives a dry snicker that causes another jolt of pain to surge across his shoulder. "You're a pain in the ass, you know that?"
Leah merely stares at Mendez, silently pleading for him to let her help him. She extends a hand towards him. At first he just stares at it, but after a few moments, with a deep sigh, he hands off Emma's weapon case. "Come on." she says, stepping up right beside him and bringing an arm around his midsection. As she does, a blue glow envelopes the large man, lowering his mass enough for her to help shoulder a bit of his weight
Jattic mostly ignores Jasper as he carries the wounded slave into the shuttle and gently lays him across a few seats, using one of the harnesses to lock him into place. "You were called upon to fly a shuttle, old man. Not to ask questions. I suggest you do your job."
Jasper watches as Jattic marches by, following after him. "Ohohohhhh! My job?! My job ain't ferryin' ya'll 'round to get yer hindquarters shot off in the middle a' the forest! So how 'bout-..." he continues to rant when Nathan's words cause him to stop in place and look his way once again. "...Oh..." This little tidbit of information causes him to shoot another glance towards the people, one hand fiddling with his cap
nervously. It seems to drain most of the fight out of him. "...I-..." he stammers as he studies the group of slaves, drawing in a deep breath. "...I'll-... I'll make sure they get back to Freedom Falls safely." he says softly, looking back to Nathan with a small, almost apologetic nod.
Emma leans back against the wall with a small nod of her own, watching Leah help Mendez onward. Tara is quick to swoop, searching Emma's face for permission before lifting the weapons case, struggling a little with the heavy container. With the girl carrying her rifles Emma continues to limp towards the exit, one hand steadying herself against the wall.
Nathan gives the old man a somewhat reassuring smile and walks up to him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I promise. You'll get told everything. But right now, these people need your help. Mendez and Emma need your help. Get them to where Leah needs them to go, then it'll be a few days and Sandbeck will take it from there. Okay?" He gives a few pats on Jasper's shoulder before looking to the group as they
board the shuttle, letting out a tired, weary sigh. And, for a moment, it almost looks like the grenadier has aged a few years. Bags sit under his eyes, the peeking of crow's feet... he just seems... older.
Jattic remains near the door, assisting Mendez into the shuttle when he arrives. Thanks to Leah's biotics the pair get him in with little trouble. Once Mendez has been lowered into a seat, he hops out of the shuttle and starts back towards the warehouse.
Jasper lowers his gaze briefly as he feels the hand on his shoulder. He watches as everyone loads into the shuttle. Unable to keep from staring at the brands emblazoned on their heads. Marked like cattle. A bit of that concern returns to him as he sees what condition Mendez is in. But eventually he turns his gaze back to Nathan. He doesn't need to know what happened to see the effect it had on the man. It's written all across
his face. He brings a hand up, patting at the one on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ten. I jus'-... Yer a good man." he settles on with a breath. "...I'll take care of 'em. You can count on that." he adds with a small nod before stepping back towards the shuttle. As he spots Jattic, he lets out a sigh. "Ain't you comin' with?" he asks.
Jattic gives a quick shake of his head. "I must stay. I still have work here to do. But I will return shortly with their bags."
Jasper doesn't look too happy about yet another person staying behind, but this time he keeps his comments to himself.
Leah crouches down before Mendez once he has settled into a seat. "You know the drill. Stay awake. I'm expecting you to watch over everyone." she says, flashing a small smile for his sake despite the crushing weight on her shoulders right now. "Okay?" Taking the large man's hand she leans forward and presses a kiss against his scraped and bruised knuckles.
Mendez allows a weak smile to cross his lips and offers a small nod to Leah's words. "You owe me dinner when this is over." he says, incapable of the slightest of voice inflections.
Leah snickers softly. "Deal." she says, her big green eyes scanning over the man in concern. But there's little she can do for him. He's lost a lot of blood and he needs medical attention.
Emma ends up waiting in the exit doorway as Tara carries her weapons case onto the shuttle, realizing that she has little hope of making her way through the snow on her own, especially without a wall to brace against. Tara moves in silence, her gaze downcast, only briefly darting to Jasper as she sets the case down aboard the shuttle.
Nathan gives a very tired smile to Jasper, inclining his head gratefully to the man before he walks off. He watches the pilot shuffle towards Jattic, before the smile fades and he rubs his eyes. Seeing everything under control, he takes a side like and merely keeps an eye out, an uncomfortable feeling of dread settling over him.
Leah stands back up and turns her attention to Jasper when he boards the shuttle. She passes one more glance back to her wounded friend before addressing the old pilot. "Halisi is waiting at Redrock." she explains. "I'm sure Ilyna isn't going to be too happy about this. Just-... let her know that we're okay and you're going to pick up the rest of us tomorrow. We still have some wor-..."
Jasper sighs. "Still have work here to do." he says, finishing her sentence rather than hearing the dismissive statement a third time.
Leah winces apologetically at being unable to explain the situation to Jasper. There's just no time for it. Not now. Not with Mendez and the batarian slave in the conditions they're in. "...I'll explain everything to Jason and the Chief. Just-... it's not worth bothering them about this right now, okay? It's done and over with. It would just ruin their trip. After every-..." she trails off, drawing a breath in through her nose.
Jasper lowers his gaze at the thought of keeping things from Jason and Vasquez. But she's not wrong. After the past few months they deserve a shot at a little R&R. He gives a small nod of his head. "I'll... see what I can do 'bout keepin' this from reachin' 'em." he says.
Leah allows a small smile to surface. "Thank you, Jasper..." she says before turning and heading back to Emma to offer her assistance.
Mendez shifts against his seat, slowly beginning to work at his harness with one hand. "Little bird." he says, his voice sounding a bit hoarse as he calls out to Tara. He beckons her over with a small wave of his hand.
Tara 's attention is turned to Mendez after she puts the heavy case down with a quiet grunt of effort. Noticing his difficulty, she starts to assist with the seat harness when called over.
Emma starts making her way across to the shuttle with Leah's help, giving her a nod of thanks after taking an empty seat.
Nathan rubs his forehead, grey eyes drifting over the scene. Everything is under control. Everyone who needs to seen to has and will be under the watchful eye of Halisi soon. He cranes his neck, a satisfying pop sounding as he turns away and begins to head back to one of the mine fields, snow crunching beneath his boots. His gaze can’t help but drift towards the grave and his fingers begin to tremble, the shake
Mendez seems a to gain a bit of discomfort at the idea of needing help getting his harness taken care of, but he allows Tara to assist. "Remember what we talked about?" he asks, each small movement seeming to cause some pain. "A strong foundation, right? This is your life now. If someone wants to take it from you, then you have to be willing to fight for it." He reaches out with one large mitt, placing it on the young girl's
shoulder. "You did good today. But now Fasha is dead." he says bluntly, not beating around the bush. "That means no more hiding. No more excuses. No more waiting for them to come for you. Now you have to live."
Leah keeps an arm around Emma's waist, helping her up into the shuttle and setting her down at a seat. She passes a glance to Tara and Mendez as she helps Emma to get her harness on. "Thank you..." she says softly, big green eyes flicking to Emma's face briefly as she straps her in, "...I know that this wasn't your fight and I'm sorry that-..." she pauses, drawing in a deep breath. "...Just-... thank you."
Jasper returns to the shuttle door, leaning against the frame. He watches as Nathan sets out on his own, concern once again returning to his face as he folds his arms across his chest.