Yellow Haze: Leah

Yellow Haze: Leah

A meadow of yellow stretched out across Leah's vision, so bright it was nearly blinding. Top-to-bottom, left-to-right, and corner-to-corner- yellow. The image began to shade itself in as if an invisible painter was high above, brush in-hand, detailing a picture before her very eyes. The yellow took on a new shape- thousands of flowers dotting the grassy countryside.

Leah looked out from her position atop a hill simply admiring the beauty that sprawled out before her. A gentle breeze came in, causing the flowers to sway back and forth softly. Smile on her face, Leah turned around to be greeted by the sight of a house- of her house. She was on Aite. She was home. The flowers covered her front yard. The unseen artist must have had a change of heart, however, as a single flower at the corner of Leah's vision began to change. It started to shed its color, droplets of yellow dripping from its delicate petals like rain before disappearing in the soil. It left behind a vibrant light blue. Leah smiled to herself. It was a Blue Iris. Her mother's favorite.

As she took a seat beside the beautiful flower, a gloved hand reached out to it. She wasn't alone. Her piercing green eyes looked to her guest. The smile on her face widened as she took in the dirty blue smock her mother was wearing. She always wore it while she gardened. It matched her gloves.

"Keeping me company, sweetie?" her mother asked.

Leah gave a small nod as she scooted against the soft grass to sit up against the house while she watched her mother tend to the single flower. "Yeah, I think so." she said softly.

But they weren't alone. No, a man was nearby. Much like Leah, he sat against the side of the house and looked out over the meadow. He was little more than a shadow. A darkened figure despite the nearly-blinding sun in the sky. A black void in the shape of a man. A single yellow flower resided near his outstretched leg. He seemed familiar. So, so familiar. But she just couldn't place him.

Her mother sat up, adjusting the brimmed hat that was keeping the sun out of her eyes as she looked out over the meadow behind her. "Couldn't have chosen a more beautiful day." she admired before turning her attention back to the Blue Iris.

"Yeah..." Leah agreed with a nod as she noted the smell. It was as if all of the flowers were right in front of her. An intoxicating aroma. "I miss this."

"Miss what?" her mother asked, her attention split between Leah and the small mound of soil at the base of the blue flower she was tending to.

Leah gave a small, embarassed shrug of her shoulders. "Just-... this." she attempted to clarify, "You. Outside working on the garden. Us just-... hanging out." Another moment passed before she sighed, "You being alive."

Her mother gave a small chuckle before gesturing to Leah with the spade in her hand. Had it been there a moment ago? "Well that makes two of us, sweetie." she said. She always did have a sense of humor.

Leah chuckled along with her, brushing a few strands of unruly blonde hair back behind her ear. She found herself glancing at the man once again. He was holding a bottle by the neck, taking a long draw from it and studying the label before returning his distant attention to the meadow. Leah's smile wavered as she studied the dark figure.

"Much better." her mother said, pleased with her work.

It drew Leah's attention back to her. Back to the gardening she was doing. She examined the lonely flower. The mound of dirt it sat atop. The headstone that topped it off. Where did it come from? Had she just not noticed it before. A name. A date. A declaration. Leah couldn't read it. It barely even seemed to be letters. Just scratchings. Etchings. But she didn't need to read it. She knew exactly what it said. 'Loving wife & mother. Gone but never forgotten.'

Her smile faded as she studied the cold stone that represented a life taken too soon. A deep and intimate guilt bloomed in her chest.

"What do you have to feel guilty about, sweetheart?" her mother asked as if she could just sense Leah's feelings. That kind, warm smile remained.

Leah looked away from the stone and to her mother. "I'm just tired, mom. I'm just so-... so tired."

Her mother gave a deep sigh as she set down her spade. With little worry about the dirt on her pants, she scooted over to take a seat beside her daughter. "Tired of...?" she asked simply.

Leah became acutely aware of just how much she missed these little moments. These heart-to-hearts she could always count on her mother to be there for. She always knew when something was wrong with Leah and she was never too busy to just... listen.

"Tired of being me?" Leah said with a humorless chuckle, folding her arms across her chest as the tears began to well up in her eyes. "Tired of being an instrument? A weapon?" Her gaze dropped to her lap before settling back on the meadow before her. "Tired of hurting the people I care about."

As the words left her mouth, the ghostly painter in the sky continued to orchestrate her vision. The meadow of yellow flowers all began to melt away, slowly replaced with a field of Blue Irises as far as the eye could see. Each flower decorating a small mound of dirt. Each mound of dirt marked by a headstone.

"Tired of this-... this fucking curse!" Leah continued, looking back to her mother. A flash of blue surrounded her and the grass around her stood up straight. Her statement was punctuate by a darkened sky, as if her biotic display had scared off the sun.

Her mother drew in a deep breath, nodding to herself as she studied the field of flowers, each representing a life taken by her little girl. A world ended. A hole left in someone else's heart. She gave a small gesture towards the meadow-turned-cemetary with a nod of her head. "You feel guilty about them."

Leah shook her head. "Pirates. Slavers. Terrorists. I was only doing my job." she explained. No, she didn't feel guilt over them. But it did weigh on her. Whether she could admit it or not, it did, but it wasn't their deaths that ate at her. No, they had made their choices. It was the fact that it had to be by her hand. It's true, she was only doing her job, but it was her job because of who she was. Because of what she was. A trained killer. A weapon. How many families had she torn apart?

"Then who?" her mother asked. She knew the answer, of course. She knew everything. She always did.

A few tears found their way free, leaving light blue streaks down Leah's cheeks as she turned her gaze to her mother's headstone. To the man beyond it. The yellow flower by his leg had turned to a Blue Iris as well, and now she could see that he wasn't leaning against the house. Maybe he never had been. He was sitting back against a headstone. His own headstone. The guilt swelling in her chest only grew worse.

Her mother looked to her warmly. Lovingly. "Sweetheart... You didn't kill me." she said matter-of-factly, bringing her hand to rest on her daughter's knee and giving it a comforting squeeze.

"You're dead because I'm here." Leah said plainly. Almost harshly. She brought her own hand over her mother's. "Because I'm cursed with-..." she trailed off, opting to show rather than tell. The blue glow once again reared its ugly head, causing a bolt of lightning to shoot across the dark sky just over the mountains in the distance. The headstone atop her mother's grave cracked, nearly ripping itself in two, but her mother paid it no mind.

"Whether it's a gift or a curse comes down to how you use it, sweetheart." her mother said. It was what she always told Leah when she was feeling sorry for herself.

It was something Leah desperately wanted to believe. That her mother hadn't died in vain. That Leah's mere existence was more than just a black hole that sucked in everyone that got close to her. That she could use her biotics to bring some good into the galaxy. 'Comes down to how you use it.' But had she been using it right? As she found her gaze moving to the man and his headstone, she had her doubts.

But Leah had little time to dwell on it before that bright yellow began to surge in once again from over the distant mountaintop. Like an ocean, it devoured everything in its path. And it was heading right for them. She stood up, biotics flaring once again as she readied herself to face the surging yellow wave head-on. It flowed down the mountainside, filling in the meadow below. Turning each blue flower into a watery grave.

"Make 'em pay, Leah." came a voice.

Leah sucked in a deep breath as a few more tears ran from her bright green eyes at the sound of the familiar voice. These ones yellow. They mixed and mingled with the blue trail as they found their way down her cheeks. She looked to the man. To Damien. The bright glow casted by the rapidly-approaching yellow tsunami illuminated him.

"I will, dickbag." she sniffled, giving a single, stern nod as the golden ocean swept in, washing them all away.

Suddenly, her eyes fluttered open and she was staring up at a chitaneous ceiling. Without warning, she found herself wrapped in Damien's arms and pulled into a sitting position. She blinked hard, desperate to focus on him through the haze painted across her vision. A tightness set into her chest as her throat constricted and she instinctively leaned to the side, ejecting a thick, yellow liquid onto the floor beside her. A few dry heaves followed as she wiped at her mouth with the back of her gauntleted hand.

"Hey. I'll, uh, be back shortly." came a voice as Leah tried to get control of her body. She rapidly began searching for the person attached to the voice. Searching for Damien. The rest of the room was little more than a dull droning. Sounds and voices all fading in and out as her mind raced to figure out what was going on.

There he was. A blurry figure barely visible through the messy bangs that hung in her face. Da-... "...Nate?" she grumbled as the figure came into focus and the cobwebs slowly began to clear out of her mind. The other voices in the room began to grow louder, almost deafeningly so.

Of course. Collectors. They took her. They took everyone. They took Li. That's why they're here. She had to get up. Had to move. She grasped at the pod she was in, pulling herself free in an attempt to follow Nathan, but she only managed a few steps before dropping to her weakened knees. Palms against the ground, she struggled to fill her lungs with air.

Her mind drifted. To Damien. To Nathan. To her father. To Tara. She needed to get up. She needed to keep pushing forward. No matter what. Her father still needed her. Tara still needed her, and the Collectors were trying to take her away from them.

Time to make 'em pay, Leah.