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Miles To Go Before I Sleep

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Emma walked back to the Tempest, sandwiched in between Jaal and Liam. She hadn’t said much when they caught her and they hadn’t asked yet. She tried her best to ignore the wounded looks Jaal threw her way. Yes, she had lied to him and yes, she should feel bad. Sad thing is, she kind of did. Not that she would ever admit it. The scavengers on either side of them sneered as the group walked past. The Initiative wasn’t exactly popular around these parts.

“You lied.” Jaal finally spoke.

Emma cleared her throat and shifted the crate to her hip, “Uh yeah. I did.”

“Why?”

“I- I had business I had to take care of.”

“You could have just said so. There was no reason to sneak off the ship.” Liam shrugged.

“I’m not used to having to tell others where I am going.”

“Well we’re a team and it’s important to know where everyone is going-“

“I am not on your team. I’m a stowaway.” Emma interrupted him.

“Doesn’t the lone wolf act get old?” Liam rolled his eyes, exasperated.

“No-“ Emma started.

“What is a lone wolf?” Jaal asked.

Emma rolled her eyes as Liam explained the concept of a lone wolf to Jaal. She did her best to tune them out. It didn’t matter how much sweet talking any of them did. She wasn’t a part of a team. She wasn’t a potential member of the Pathfinder’s crew. That wasn’t even an option when Alec was alive. There was no way the Initiative would accept her so readily. Tann would lay an egg if he thought a freak was joining his intergalactic dream team.

“Emma.” SAM’s voice broke her out of her thoughts.

“Yes SAM.” Emma spoke over Jaal and Liam who were now discussing Milky Way movies.

“I have tuned into a local frequency. Scavengers believe Ryder is in possession of a remnant drive core. I believe they mean to ambush the ground team.”

That statement shut the other two up and they huddled around Emma asking SAM a million questions. Emma looked around and noticed a few vehicles located at the edge of the port.

“They have the nomad, how are we supposed to get to them?” Liam looked worried.

“I have an idea.” Emma handed Jaal the crate and he took it without question. She walked away from the others and towards a small group of scavengers hovering near the vehicles. Perhaps if she asked nicely they would let her borrow one. Who they hell was she kidding? She was either going to have to pay through the nose or fight them for one. She was low on credits so fighting it was. She didn’t have to turn around to know Jaal and Liam were hot on her heels. It was a good thing being from the Initiative wouldn’t work on them anyways. The scavengers perked up seeing her approach, their hands already straying to their weapons. Emma stepped out into the uncovered section of the port, the sun somehow 50 times hotter than before. God, she hated this planet.

“What the hell do you want?” One of them grunted, his finger dangerously close to the trigger.

Emma held her hands up and shook her head, “No trouble. I just need to uh…borrow your vehicle.”

A few of them laughed and jostled each other. Even the one who originally spoke chuckled before shaking his head and pointing at her.

“I like a girl with a sense of humor, but that’s not happening.” He stepped towards her.

Emma’s own chuckle was muffled by her helmet, “Yeah it’s not really humor. I’m taking your vehicle.”

“Don’t push your luck. We had a good laugh. You walk away now and I don’t shoot you and your friends.”

“Are you in charge here?” Emma gestured to him.

“So what if I am?”

“Well if you are it makes this next part really easy.”

“What par-“

The sound of him slamming into one of the posts made the other’s freeze. Emma had kicked him square in the chest and sent him backwards about ten feet. The post wobbled from the impact. The poor guy wheezed as he struggled to take in a breath. Not much of a fight. Thank goodness for that. No one else made a move on her. They looked at her with some sort of awe, but kept their distance.

“Like I said, I’m borrowing your vehicle.” Emma gestured for Liam and Jaal to get in the Nomad.

When they didn’t move she rolled her eyes and opened the door. Taking the crate from Jaal she tossed it in the back. If they wanted to stay here fine she would go help Scott. Wait. Why was she helping anyways? This went against every core instinct in her to run. Maybe it was the heat melting her brain and making her feel somewhat responsible for Alec Ryder’s son. She let out an exasperated sigh.

“Are we allowed to steal this?” Jaal touched her gently on the arm.

“We aren’t stealing Jaal, we are borrowing. I’ll bring it back.” She went to hoist herself up into vehicle before a tug on her armor brought her back down. Liam glowered at her.

“This isn’t how we do things.” He crossed his arms across his chest.

“Look, if you want to hold hands and make daisy chains with the scavengers you’re more than welcome. You can also stand here and argue with me over policy. However, neither of those things is going to save your Pathfinder.” She gestured to the inside of the vehicle.

Jaal clapped his hand down on Liam’s shoulder and nodded. He moved past Emma and climbed in the backseat. Liam grunted in disapproval, but followed him in, strapping into the passenger seat. Emma climbed in after them and shut the door. She removed her helmet and shook out her hair. Wisps stuck to her forehead from the immense amount of sweat that poured down her face.

“SAM, I need Scott’s location.” Emma turned the vehicle on and stepped on the gas, causing everyone to slam back into their seats. “Sorry, I’m a bit rusty.”

“It can’t be any worse than you kicking someone into a steel post.” Liam grit his teeth while gripping his seat belt tightly.

“You never know.” She muttered.

Liam grunted, but otherwise didn’t say anything else. Jaal was in the back throwing her small glances here and there. The silence made Emma uncomfortable, a first for her. She concentrated on getting up and over the mountains of sand. So much sand.

“You know, you kind of have an attitude problem.” Liam remarked, looking a little green.

“Like I’ve never heard that one before.”

“I bet that’s the nicest way someone has said it.” He gnashed his teeth together as they coasted down a dune.

“You’re probably right.”

They were nearing Scott’s location when Emma realized she didn’t have a weapon. She had arrows, but no bow. Hell, she didn’t even have a gun. She probably should have stolen one of those too. Leaving one hand on the wheel, she reached under the seat hoping they had stashed a gun underneath. Liam swore when the vehicle swerved a bit while she looked. Shooting him an apologetic grin she placed her other hand back on the wheel. It was short lived when she slammed on the brakes as they reached a clearing between dunes. They could see nomad and the others. Scott was on top of the nomad shooting at a group of ahdi. However, he didn’t seem to notice the fiend that was running towards him at top speed.

“We have to warn him!” Liam raised his omnitool close to his mouth.

“I have a better idea.” She turned and double checked that Jaal was strapped in tight.

“I don’t think I’m going to like this.” Jaal remarked when he caught the look on her face.

She smirked at him and he looked startled, “Probably not.”

Before either of them could say anything, Emma gunned it, heading straight for the fiend. The behemoth was too trained on Scott, who finally noticed the hulking beast gunning straight for him, to notice the vehicle racing across the sand until it struck it right in its side.  Groans filled the vehicle after the impact. Emma tightened her grip on the wheel and looked up as the fiend turned to focus on them.

“Great.” Liam muttered while giving her a healthy dose of side-eye, “I hope you have a plan now.”

“Why was this even the plan?” Jaal complained from the backseat.

Emma threw the vehicle in reverse as the fiend turned to ram them. It missed by a few feet and turned to follow the vehicle.

“You’re not going to be able to go over the dunes in reverse!” Liam gripped the seatbelt so hard his knuckles turned white.

“Right,” she muttered, “how good of a driver are you?”

“What?”

Emma unbuckled the seat belt, “I need you to drive and I need a gun.”

She turned the wheel to avoid a dune coming up on the rear, leading the fiend in a giant circle. Liam stared at her wide-eyed until she repeated the request again. He shook his head, but unbuckled his own harness and took the wheel from her. The transition was not as smooth she would have liked. Namely because he decided to go over instead of under and she had a few seconds worth of ass in her face. She reached across Liam to grab her helmet and strap it on. Jaal leaned forward and handed her a pistol.

“Thanks.” She stuck the pistol into the holster on her thigh.

“What are you going to do?”

She wasn’t used to genuine sounding concern, but she smirked at him, not that he could see it through her helmet, “Something stupid.”

She kicked opened the door and reached for the bars above the door. Using them to pull herself up onto the top of the vehicle, she kicked the door shut and shimmied until she was all the way on the roof. Now that she was outside she could hear the gunshots and now Scott’s panicked shouts. Vetra had her rifle trained on the fiend, but it would take forever to penetrate through its armor. The fiend had noticed her on the roof and it opened its mouth to spit its acid on her. She took the opportunity to sit up and grab her pistol and shoot it in the mouth, but the fiend closed its mouth causing the bullet to glance off its armor.

“Damn.” That wasn’t going to work as well as she had hoped.

Thankfully the fiend wasn’t going to wait too long before it prepared to try and shoot acid at her once more. If she shot too soon then she would have wasted another bullet for nothing. So, she waited, until she could see the acid coming for her before she shot. The acid landed on her boot and she hissed as some of it ate through her boot and sizzled against her skin, but the bullet hit its mark. The fiend snarled as the bullet went through the roof of its mouth. It stopped chasing the vehicle for a moment, but a moment was long enough. Emma pounded the top of the vehicle a couple times hoping Liam would understand what to do next. She jerked forward as he quickly switched gears and rammed the fiend again causing it to flip over. Emma slid down a fraction, her fingers gripping the bars before she completely fell off the roof. Her and Vetra both took the opportunity to shoot at its belly while it was exposed. The fiend tried its best to get back up, but one last well placed shot to its throat finally stilled it. Emma’s heart still pounded in her ears and her breath fogged up the visor of her helmet. She let out a breath and laid back on the roof. The sun could bake her on the roof for all she cared right now.

Scott was off the crates and moving towards them followed by Cora and Vetra. Liam and Jaal climbed out of the vehicle both looking like they could kiss the ground. Emma sat up and stared down at the group, not quite ready to move yet.

“Do you have any idea how reckless that was!” Scott yelled up at her.

Before she could he answer, he continued shouting.

“You could have gotten yourself killed. You endangered my team. You have destroyed someone else’s property. You could have gotten killed.”

She slid down from the roof them, landing on the sand. She hoped no one noticed her stumble or the hole in her boot.

“I think you’re overexaggerating just a bit.”

“Overexaggerating? Emma, you can’t just heal if you’re eaten by a giant fucking beast!”

“Scott-“

“You don’t want to be a part of the team? Fine, I can’t make you stay. But don’t be a fucking jerk Emma.”

She didn’t have anything to say to that. Everyone looked extremely uncomfortable by the tension simmering between the two, but they were surprised when Emma said nothing. She handed the pistol back to Jaal and held her hands up. Turning her back to the crew she climbed in the passenger seat of the vehicle and strapped herself in, waiting for Jaal and Liam.

Scott gave orders for Liam and Jaal to take the vehicle back to wherever they got it from and go back to the Tempest. He stared at Emma a moment before making a noise of disgust and shaking his head. He remarked that he would discuss it with her further back on the Tempest before heading back towards the Nomad. Jaal climbed back in the backseat and Liam took over the driver’s seat again and strapped back in. It was a quieter trip back to the settlement.

“He may have been a little harsh, but he isn’t wrong. What you did was reckless and he was worried.” Liam finally spoke up.

Emma remained tight lipped as she stared out the window.

“Perhaps if you told him why you wanted to help. Maybe he would understand.” Jaal added from the backseat.

“Forget it. I shouldn’t have even bothered.” She murmured.

Liam stared at her a moment before shaking his head. It wasn’t the first time someone was frustrated because they couldn’t reach her, and it wouldn’t be the last.