#LeytoPangn – August 13, 2019

Ehanis finishes her meld with Sioria.

The memory fades and they're back to a louder emptiness, as the asari's frustration mounts, but another memory soon fills it. They stand by the railing of an Omega platform. It's thirty years ago, but the memory is still vivid, including the musty smell of the just safe enough air. Batarian slavers had seen her obvious inexperience as an easy mark. There were four, but only three were visible since Ehanis had in a panic

thrown one over the railing. Another was bleeding from the bottom two eyes, also Ehanis' doing to get free from his grapple. The shock of having killed for the first time colors the memory heavily. One of them drew a gun before he too flew over the railing after being slammed into by a biotic charge. Mian, a dark blue asari in a coat. She was short, with a wider build than most asari. A biotic fist punched the injured

batarian and she pulled out a weapon. The actual weapon is lost in time, only that she overheated it firing towards the batarians that were now fleeing. They got away, but one of them didn't look long for this world "You have potential, kid!" Mian said, "but you're dumb as shit."

It's many years later and the two are watching a vid together, sharing a bottle of something green and strong. The vid is forgotten long ago, so nothing that makes sense can be seen on the screen. "Can't believe we got this contract," Ehanis says in the memory. "Just a few days of work looking after this idiot and we'll be set for a year." There's a feeling of relief in the memory as she washes down the sick feeling from

whatever odd jobs the asari had done to stay fed and behind a locked door at night.

Another memory, much more recent. Ehanis is not allowing the turian a moment to really process the things she's seeing. Mian charges into a pair of batarian mercenaries, punching the one left standing with the help of her biotics. She then pulls a Katana shotgun from her back and opens up on both of them before they can even properly react. Job done, someone got their revenge, and they're getting paid without Ehanis even

having to lift a finger. This time there is no shock, just thoughts of their paycheck and the drinks they're going to buy with it and concerns about what else they'd need to do to pay the rent.

The emptiness comes back, a little quieter.

Ehanis steps in front of the turian, holding out an arm in a symbolic effort to stop her. "Mian is a bad person," she says, "but she is why I not only survived, but thrived as a merc on Omega. She knew which contracts would get you knee deep in crap, and which wouldn't. And she'll kick your ass." There is some admiration in the last statement. Mian is barely older than Ehanis, but she grew up much faster due to

being an Omega native. "You'd do me a favor if you leave her alone." The asari is trying to hide a feeling of sadness at the prospect of that horrible piece of shit being put down, but her exhausted mind isn't doing a good job of this.

Sioria watches once more, memories of a far younger woman, she could feel it. The fear, the anxiety, and the panic all very real, but she couldn't do anything but watch. First kills, first job celebration, the evolution of Ehanis. 'Badass?' several whispers chime together, followed by a flurry of other whispers, none distinguishable. "Try Phsycopath," Sioria says, her voice silencing the whispers. Her rage seems to

emenate from around her, like a deep red aura. "I don't think you can ask me for a favour, Ehanis," Sioria says, mandibles twitching. "You havent asnwered my questions. What did she do to you? Why are you running?" All she's shown her are reasons why this Mian is so... Well, nuts. "Don't protect her. If you're running away from everything and she's why, you need to tell me."

The indecision and reluctance for the asari to relive such a fresh memory is tangible, like a threshold too high for her to cross. Pain, anger, helplessness are among the feelings that fill the silence. No memory manifests, however, and the feelings start to fade instead.

Ehanis takes a step back. "I'm running from everything," Ehanis says. Ilyna. Redrock. Collectors. "I came home from the worst mission of my life, and Mian was there. I took it out on her, was bitter, and angry, and tired, and...." A brief glimpse surrounds them as she shouts for Mian to leave her alone, and an argument whose words are a blur follows before she lets the memory go. "I haven't cried in decades,

Sioria, but the morning after, I was pretty fucking close," she says. "I'm not going to show you what happened, but it's pretty fucking obvious, isn't it?"

There is another memory. They're at the Redrock gym on the day after. Ehanis is running on a threadmill. But unlike in other memories, her own manifestation is not naked. She's wearing a white shirt that's soaked with sweat over her usual sportswear. She's hiding something more than the bandage on her arm. "How do you deal with all this shit?" she says in the memory, to anotther person in the room: Linda Vasquez, in gray

shorts and a white tanktop. She is answered, but the memory does not recall the words, only Ehanis' followup question. "The collectors. You've exchanged blows with them for years." They continue to talk, but the words aren't conveyed to the turian, before the memory fades.

Ehanis sighs. "She didn't have the answers," she says, "so I decided to quit." There's a glimpse of the inside of a truck, and a feeling of relief comes along with it. Across from her is an asari mother with a small child going home. "A few hours later I was on a truck to a small colony west of Freedom Falls," she says. "I stayed with her family for the night before moving on the next day."

Sioria 's anger is still present, but the bubbling confusion begins to rise around her, not entirely sure of herself or... Well, anything anymore. Nothing is obvious anymore, and Sioria wasnt hiding that fact as the whispers around her begin asking question after question. 'What happened?' 'Should I press her?' 'Was it Mian?' 'Was it something else?' 'What do I do next?' all sorts of questions that she can't answer

herself. "You... Didn't have to quit everything," Sioria says, her voice less harsh than before. "Redrock I get, it's tense... I'm not gonna comment on family." 'Its important!' 'You don't know their relationship.' 'Ive seen enough movies to recognise it.' 'That was the stupidest thing I've thought of tonight.' "But Freedom Falls... Me? You could have come to me, I could have helped you lay low. Hell, I can

set you up in Bull Plains, it's warm there at least. Good people." 'best people.' 'They have cows!' 'Shut up! Jeez.' It seems all of Sioria's psyche is out tonight. "Somewhere I can come visit. Or are you afraid Ilyna will find you? Or worse, Mian?" The confusion is just as bad as before. She understands the Redrock and Ilyna parts, to an extent, but there were still more questions.

The emptiness grows louder as the asari's frustration mounts, the pain of the memories and the exhaustion.

Ehanis shakes her head. "Aren't you paying attention?" she says. "I didn't have time to think, I barely had time to pack."

Ehanis is by the door to her own apartment, glancing around it a last time for anything she's forgotten. She's about to go to the bathroom when the front door opens and Mian comes rushing in. "What do you think you're doing?" Mian asks before noticing the bag. "Fuck, you're leaving? You can't do-..." Theres a loud snap of biotic energy against the other asari as she's thrown into the wall by Ehanis and drops to the floor.

Ehanis crouches down beside her to confirm that she's still alive, and nods to herself. There is guilt to this memory, self loathing, but also relief that shes not dead. Mian means a lot to Ehanis despite being such a piece of shit. Ehanis then zips the bag shut, goes out, closes the door behind her and runs over to one of the neighbors who has a sky-car. Ehanis has a long experience with Mian in the field, she knows that

she may just have a minute to get away.

The emptiness doesn't come back at the end of that memory, and they can see the hotel room around them.

Ehanis blinks and her green eyes look up at the turian, the black gone as fast as it had come up. "Fuck," she mutters before speaking, "This wasn't how this was going to go, Sioria. We were going to go through memories of our time together." She turns away and places a hand on her forehead. "This is why I don't let people into my head!"

Sioria watches the scene unfold in silence, eyes wide with surprise. It wasn't Mian who had hurt Ehanis, it was the other way around. Once the room comes back around them, Sioria blinks and shudders as she regains control of her mind, without anyone else in it. She had no words, just stunned silence. "I needed to know," she says, finally. "I didn't want to push you, but something tells me you wanted to show me some

of that." She looks from the floor up to Ehanis. "Didn't you? So I would understand why you left? I think I do. You panicked." As if it was that simple. She lets out a long sigh and rests her elbows on her knees. "If I pushed, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. It was... Just so confusing."

Ehanis retracts her hand and places it on her hip. "Mian can be really abusive in times like this, but I'd deal and things would go back to normal," she says, exhaustion the only emotion in her voice. "I left because all the crap has piled up and I needed to get away, and her behavior was just the final push that made the decision. It is really that simple."

Sioria stands up from the bed, feeling as heavy as ever, and steps towards Ehanis. "Humans call that Occam's razor," she says, actually saying something smart for once. "Sometimes it really is that simple." She stands, but she doesn't seem nearly as tall as before. "I'm sorry, E. I didn't get it." She holds her arms out, offering a hug. "I just didn't want to let go of you. There had to be an evil to be thwarted, or

something I could do. Guess there just... Isn't."

Ehanis stand up into the hug. "Sometimes that evil is time, Sioria," she says. "I hope you find a better friend, one that would spend the time you have together better than I did." Ehanis lets go of the hug and sits back down on the bed with a deep sigh. "That meld took a lot out of me," she says. "I really hope that none of that is going in the report."

Sioria holds Ehanis close until the Asari pulls away. She shakes her head lightly. "No report," she says, quietly. "This isn't a proper mission. Just me being a stubborn asshole who works for stubborn assholes." She sits down on the bed next to Ehanis and puts her hand on the asari's. "Look, if you aren't on the run, just... Give me a call sometime. You've still got a friend in me, and I'll wanna know that you're

okay from time to time. Not a picture from some dive either, cause that just made me worried." She cracks a small smirk. "and consider Bull Plains. I'll hook you up with an easy gig with good folk." She takes her hand off of Ehanis' and leans on her knees again. "But really. Call me. I won't tell anyone you contacted me or anything, and I won't come looking for you unless you ask for help." She looks down at

the carpet and sighs lightly. "Dunno what I'll tell the others. I guess the truth? You need time to clear your head so you're on the road again. Most importantly, I'll tell Ilyna you actually want to be here. She's more paranoid than I am."

Ehanis frowns. "She knows how fucked the collector mission was," she says. "Probably more than anyone since she was the 'client'." For obvious reasons, and her heart sinks a little at how it would have affected the little child they were going to rescue. "She even tried talking me out of it, but... I guess I'm probably as stubborn as them." Ehanis slips her arms out of the jacket and lies down on the bed, her feet

now over the ground. The bandage is still there, along with some of the bruises. "I don't want to be found again, Sioria," she says, "and I don't want you to be the one Mian has to squeeze for information. And calls? Do you realize just how crap the extranet is once you're out of Freedom Falls. I'll send you a message every now and then if I find out how you tracked me down, because I did everything

Luyn-... the salarian taught me."

Sioria nods a little. "I bet she does. But that's not why she asked me out here. Tch, like she needed to." She looks back at Ehanis before falling back herself, which isn't nearly as comfortable as it could be thanks to her armour. "Redrock, where the only qualifications necessary are being a stubborn asshole. It's... Almost scary how that's barely a joke." She looks over to Ehanis and nods again. "Mian can squeeze

all she wants, but I'm not gonna let her know where you are. Besides, how would she know we're on contact?" She gives a light shrug. "Ask Renala, she's the technonerd. Something about the background and data, I dunno. I just shoot stuff that's far away." Her eyes go back to the ceiling again. "You also sent it to someone who showedn it to your sister. You send something to me, and I'll keep it hush." Her hand

lifts and lowers to prod at Ehanis' belly. "Every now and again. I'm gonna take that as a promise."

Ehanis sighs. "Yeah, yeah," she says, too exhausted to think too hard about everything the turian is saying right now. She looks a bit disappointed that Renala might be the one that got them there, thought she was on her side regarding Ilyna. "Extranet is crap out here, so I can't promise any kind of regular communication. Now I can just check the timetable down at that extranet bar, but that's probably not the

norm in other nearby colonies."

Sioria nods solemnly. "Yeah, I figured," she says before sitting up again. "I'll still be happy when you can get through though." She reaches out and pat's Ehanis' leg before slipping off the bed. "Guess I better get moving, unless you still wanna reminisce," she says, a certain sadness carried in her droning voice.

Ehanis gives the slightest shake of her head, staying put. "No, my head is still boiling from that," she says. "Lynara makes good food, you should get some before you go. Just follow the hall until you come to a lounge. You won't miss it." Ehanis lets out a small, though exhausted laugh. "Though, I'm a bad food critic after my three decades on Omega, but still."

Sioria gives a small nod as she stands at her full height. "Alright. Goodbye then," she says, looking Ehanis over one last time. "I'll see you next time, you beautiful blue bitch." She offers a hand to pull Ehanis up into one last hug. "Be safe, alright?"

Ehanis doesn't let herself be pulled up, giving an annoyed grunt as she tries to slip the turian's grasp. "You too," she says. "And be careful. Believe it or not, but Mian has friends, so mind where you blabber."

Sioria let's go of the Asari, a little disappointed, but she's done pushing. "Mhm," she grunts, slipping her helmet back on. "I'll keep my mouth shut. Goodbye, Ehanis. It's been fun." With that, she heads for the door.

Ehanis shifts around a little to see the turian leave. "I don't think we'll have extranet back until midnight, so tell Lynara that I'll guarantee your payment," she says, "but you can forget about the messages if I actually have to pay for your food."

Sioria turns to look over her shoulder. "I'm not being paid for this one," she says, her voice filtered. "I'm doing this for me. All they owe me is a favour." Then she shrugs. "Pretty sure your sister is paying my expenses. That includes food. Don't worry."

Ehanis gives a small shrug. "Of course she is," she says. "I'm glad she's not here, though. I would have smacked her for thinking I was more important than Li right now." She rolls around to face away from the turian and closes her eyes. "Now, leave me alone," she mutters. "I need a fucking nap."

Sioria nods slowly. "Kid's in good hands." She lingers for a few moments more before finally opening the door and shutting it behind her. Once outside, she doesn't move for a few seconds, then she takes a very deep breath. Closure. She could move on now, make new friends. "Ah shit..." She grunts. "Gotta make new friends now." Somehow she feels that's going to be the harder part. In the mean time, moving on will

probably start with a bottle of good stuff back home. At least, after she grabs Jasper and MAYBE has a meal.

The lounge is indeed easy to find, as it's the western counterpart to the lobby. It's a well maintained open area with wooden floors, and comfortable couches surrounding steel-trimmed wooden tables. The opposite wall has a foor to ceiling windows that offer a view of the ocean on a clear day. Not today, though, and the yellow circles in the streetlamps. There is a staircase up to the floor above there, too, so going down

and around was a detour.

The security guard has moved to the lounge too, and she's speaking with a smaller asari in her twenties that has kind of a likeness to the security guard. The matron running the cafe is currently cleaning up to leave, but she does take their order even without the mention of a guarantee because she'd rather not have starving travelers on her conscience. The only dextro option on the menu doesn't have any meat, and it might

be a bit on the bland side, but Sioria should recognize it as a filling meal that's common in turian settled areas all over the world.

On the way there they pass by extranet bar whose timetable reveals the next connection window starts at 11pm and lasts intermittently until morning.

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