Two little words. Two simple little words. A question that leads to another question.
Those words are important, Scott knows they’re important…but why are they? Everything is in chaos, his mind is jumbled and the lights are too bright. It’s hard to keep his eyes open.
Scott. Help is coming SAM’s voice cuts through the ringing and the haze and as funny as it is, SAM sounds worried.
An AI sounding worried. That’s a neat trick dad. Who would have thought how far SAM would come from his initial startup till now? Scott thinks about the people who attacked Avina and who tried to take SAM from him. He wonders if SAM will ever manage to change all their minds about him. He’s not the Geth. He’s nothing like them and he never will be. Because he can be worried, worried about a human.
Why is SAM worried though?
The lights are alternating between star bursting too brightly and dimming very low, and Scott is tired.
You cannot sleep.
Is he on the floor? Why is he on the floor? Did he fall? If he’s fallen, then why hasn’t he gotten up?
You are experiencing a form of disassociation due to extreme blood loss. Please hold on. Help is coming.
Disassociation? Is that why he can’t feel anything? He’s not really sure that’s how it works, but SAM would know best wouldn’t he?
There’s movement in the corner of his eye before Harry comes into his sight. He’s fuzzy and he’s saying something, but Scott can’t hear him clearly. It sounds like he’s far away, past the ringing in his ears. There are other people from Med Bay all around him now, their movements desperate and hurried.
Harry puts the oxygen mask over his face, and Scott swears he hears SAM’s frantic call of his name before everything fades away.
Tartarus is as loud as ever, music blaring through the speakers and the lights flashing over the dancers on the floor. Reyes taps his fingers along the edge of the table, inwardly counting down till the moment that his source should return to him and give him the final piece of information that he needs.
It’s almost torture to sit here, out of the field, waiting. He wants to be back out there, he wants to put his feet to the ground and tear Kadara apart…but Keema has a point, as she usually does. He’s done all he can at the moment out there, and the entire Collective is on it at his command. The best thing he can do now is wait here, wait for information to come to him and then he can do what he does best – make a plan of action and execute it.
…Execute. What an apt choice of word, and yet the one thing that he can’t do when he gets his hands on her.
The Nexus needs her alive. Scott needs her alive, and all Reyes can think is that some deity is watching over this woman because Reyes can’t let her die before she tells them everything she knows. Reyes briefly wonders if this woman, Trista Leone Marlowe according to Cora and Liam, knows how she’s just become the most sought after person in all of Andromeda second only to the Pathfinder himself. Then again, with how she’s gone to ground, he suspects that she has an inkling.
Reyes got the call three days ago, and he wasn’t the only one. As far as Reyes can tell, the crew of the Tempest have reached out to each and every person that they’ve ever done a solid for – that Scott’s ever done a solid for – and asked for their help. Never let it be said that opposing factions can’t work towards the same goal, and now Kadara port is filled with Collective, Outcasts, Nexus and Resistance members scouring every nook and cranny looking for the woman who shot the Pathfinder. They’re all looking for the woman who dared to attack the Pathfinder in his own room on the Hyperion with a bullet laced with some kind of poison that SAM and the Nexus have been unable to categorize and synthesize an antidote for.
Cora’s kept an open line of information, mostly, but enough that everyone knows what’s happened and so that they know how bad off the Pathfinder is doing. Which can be summed up in two simple words: Scott’s dying.
More so, Scott’s dying and SAM can’t save him, not without more data.
So the Nexus needs Marlowe alive. They need to know what she used, where she got it and how they can counteract it. The Initiative can’t afford to lose their only Pathfinder, and truth be told – Andromeda can’t afford to lose Scott Ryder. The proof of that is in the chaos that is Kadara Port. No one is attacking each other right now, all of them are working towards a similar goal.
They all want to help the man who has become the face of the Initiative that they were promised when they signed up. They all want to help the man who has brought back hope of the dream that they were all sold and that they had thought died.
If Scott dies – it does too. Undoubtedly for good this time.
The door to the inner sanctum opens and Reyes stops tapping his fingers when he sees the person he’s been waiting for rush in. Reyes puts his drink down and waves them over.
Time to get back to work.
Last week, if someone had told Evfra that this much fuss all over Aya would be raised about a human, he would have had a good laugh. A human dying isn’t normally Evfra’s concern, nor would it be something so distressing to the Angara that the Moshae herself would lead several vigils in hopes of granting a human strength during this time.
But Evfra’s not too surprised. Not when Jaal contacted them with the information on the Pathfinder’s dire condition.
Evfra almost wants to shake his head, and who knows, perhaps he already has a few times over the last few days. How does the Initiative allow their most important resource to be harmed within their walls? On top of that, how did the Pathfinder allow himself to be caught unaware? Evfra knows the story, knows how it happened but he still balks at it. The Archon himself is scouring the cluster, looking for the Pathfinder at all times – and the human allows himself to be gunned down in his own home? By one of his own people?
Evfra would love to say that this action proves that the humans can’t be trusted…but he knows that it would be disingenuous. After all, didn’t Vehn Tarev do something similar? Evfra left the Moshae in his care, to be protected and he turned on her. He figures that’s not at all too different from the Initiative assigning the Pathfinder’s own assailant to guard him only to see the folly in their choice after the damage has been done. Jaal’s asked for Evfra’s help, in searching Kadara for the human woman and Evfra had her image out to each agent on Kadara within minutes of their call. The Resistance may not have the largest hold on Kadara anymore, but that’s not going to stop them from offering forth all the aid they possibly can at this time.
Although most of their aid has been in searching out the various plants that they know to be dangerous and sending samples and information to the Initiative about them, each time hoping that they’ll finally have found the solution. This human woman had to have gotten this poison somewhere, and while the Angara don’t yet know much about the human anatomy they know a thing or two about deadly plants. The scientists on Havarl have been particularly useful in this endeavor as well.
Evfra looks down at the reports in front of him with a sigh. He better hear something back soon or he was going to do something foolish – like go to Kadara himself and drag this woman out of her hideout.
But the Resistance still needs him here. The Kett aren’t exactly calling a cease fire just because the Pathfinder is dying and so Evfra can’t afford to do so either.
If he secretly sends out a prayer for strength for the annoying human, well that’s no one’s business but his own.
“I want results Kaetus, not excuses.” Sloane snaps at her second in command as various members of the Outcasts rush about in a frenzy. How they’ve managed to be so useless as to not find one woman, she’ll never know. “What’s the latest word from the Badlands?”
“There’ve been a few potential sightings, we’re chasing them down now.” Kaetus replies and Sloane looks at the screens in front of her. The data is telling her where they’ve checked and how much ground they still have yet to cover.
There’s far too much ground left unsearched and Sloane knows that they’re working against the clock here. If they want to catch this woman, if they want her information to barter against the Nexus then they need her found right now. The longer it takes, the better the chances are that the Resistance finds her and shuttles her back to the Nexus. Or worse, reports are in that the Charlatan has put a bounty on Marlowe’s head making her worth her weight in gold to the Collective. Sloane can’t afford to be shown up by the Charlatan on such an important matter like this. It’ll show Kadara that the one with all the power isn’t Sloane or the Outcasts, but that shadowy bastard and his rats.
That’s the absolute last thing that Kadara needs, right next to a dead Pathfinder. If Ryder bites the bullet, no pun intended, before Sloane can get her hands on Marlowe then war will break out with the Nexus. There will be no avoiding it, and as much as Sloane pretends that they could easily win that fight – the truth is far from it.
They’re in no position for war to break out, not with how the Port’s been limping along these last few months.
…but as with all things, there’s a silver lining to this clusterfuck. If Sloane can nab Marlowe first, before anyone else then Tann will be forced to cater to her demands. And god help the Nexus when she does because she’s got plenty of demands ready and waiting. While it’s slightly tragic that Ryder’s been harmed, his misfortune might be just the thing that Sloane needs to retake full control of the Port.
Plus, having the Pathfinder owe her one would certainly be a bonus.
“Should I bow? Kiss your ring?” … “Your highness.”
The Pathfinder’s made it more than clear that he’s not her biggest fan over their short acquaintance, but owing your life to someone can be a powerful motivator. And he’s a pretty little thing, so Sloane figures that she won’t be too put out being owed by him.
“Focus efforts here, I want this area cleared within the hour.” Sloane commands and Kaetus nods his head.
“It’ll be done.”
“What’s the latest information?” Cora asks and Lexi rubs a tired hand over her face.
“None of the samples have proven themselves to be the one we’re looking for.” Lexi replies. “Suvi and the Science Team are trying their best to get through them all, but without SAM’s processing power behind them…” Lexi trails off and Cora understands. With SAM currently tied up in keeping the poison from ravaging Scott’s body and in trying to keep the Pathfinder alive, it’s been unable to offer any real assistance outside of the medical room.
“We’re going to find her.” Cora swears. “And heaven help her when we do.” There’s an underlying threat to her voice, the threat of a Huntress declaring her prey and Lexi nods.
“I know we will, I just hope it’s in time.” She states. “Scott’s vitals are…” She trails off for a moment. “Even with SAM’s interference…I worry that if we don’t find her soon that the damage done will be irreversible.”
“We’re going to find her.” Cora says firmly, her shoulders going back. “We’re not losing another Pathfinder.”
“I hope you’re right.” Lexi replies. “For all our sakes…and for Sara’s, I hope you’re right.” There’s a crushing guilt that hits Cora at the mention of the other Ryder who is in a coma of her own. How will Cora ever look her in the eye when she wakes up if she has to tell her that her father and her brother died under Cora’s watch?
“I’ll admit,” Lexi’s voice brings her out of her thoughts. “I’m surprised that you didn’t leave with the Tempest.”
“I couldn’t.” Cora answers her, feeling that frustration rise up in her again. “According to Tann, I’m next in line to become Pathfinder if Scott…” Cora cuts off before she clears her throat. “He’s restrained me to the Nexus. Can’t take the risk.”
“Ah, I see.” Lexi replies, before motioning towards the door that Scott’s currently fighting for his life behind. “Is that why you haven’t left your post?”
“I wasn’t there when I should have been.” Cora says and Lexi shakes her head.
“We had no way of knowing this was going to happen.” She tells her. “Marlowe was security division. We couldn’t have known that she would pull something like this.” Cora turns her head away from the Asari doctor at those words, guilt eating away at her.
“…Yes we did.” Cora states softly and Lexi looks at her confused.
“What do you mean?”
“Scott mentioned Marlowe to me once.” Cora admits. “In passing.”
“I didn’t think anything of it, and I should have. I’ve been trained better than that.” Cora responds, and she sees the telltale arcs of blue in the air. Lexi’s an Asari however and doesn’t respond outwardly to the momentary biotics display. “There’s just been so much hostility on the Nexus since we’ve arrived, since the uprising, and Scott’s had his fair share of people blaming him for all this mess.”
“Marlowe blamed Scott for the uprising?” Lexi asks and Cora shakes her head.
“Not for the uprising, but for Andromeda in general. She approached Scott one time, only once, to curse him out. Scott had been really upset afterwards, said that she’d basically spit on Alec’s grave. Blamed everything on Alec and by proxy Scott.” Cora looks away from Lexi and out a window. “He’d been unconcerned about it, and she hadn’t threatened him so we didn’t pay her any mind…in hindsight I guess we should have.”
“That doesn’t make this your fault.” Lexi tells her firmly. “As you said yourself, there’s been a lot of hostility on the Nexus and she didn’t threaten him. You couldn’t have known she would do this.”
“But I could have put something in her file.” Cora fires back. “If I had then she would have never been assigned security duty outside of his room. If Scott dies because of this…it’ll be because I was careless.”
“Scott wouldn’t blame you Lieutenant.” Lexi says and Cora lets out a tight laugh.
“I know that.” She says. “Doesn’t change the fact that I do.” A heavy silence falls between the two of them before the doors open and Suvi rushes in. The redhead slides to a stop, throwing her hands up in the air immediately when she sees Cora instinctively level her gun on her. Cora quickly puts it down and takes a hopeful step forward. “Please tell me you’ve got good news.”
“Aye.” Suvi says, slightly out of breath from wherever she just ran from. “I just received word from Kallo. Marlowe’s been found.”
“Thank the goddess.” Lexi says and Cora can’t help the smile that crosses her face. She completely seconds that statement.
It’s taking every ounce of willpower in Vetra to not pace back and forth as she waits for Marlowe to be brought to the Tempest. Drack is messing with his gun, checking it over and over again and Vetra almost considers doing the same with her own just to give her hands something to do to distract her mind. Liam and Jaal are on their way back but they’ve given the green light to leave them behind if Marlowe arrives before they do.
This whole thing has been a nightmare from start to finish and Vetra is more than ready for it just to be finished. Scott’s been living off the borrowed time that SAM’s been granting him and even that’s running out. They need Marlowe and they need her information now.
A shuttle starts to come in for a landing and Vetra recognizes it instantly and she’s coming forward to accept the prisoner before it even fully sets down on the ground. The doors open after too long of a pause and Reyes Vidal drags Marlowe forward. The woman looks as angry as a bag full of cats and the sight makes a pit appear in Vetra’s stomach.
This isn’t an anger that she’s being dragged back to the Nexus, this is a rage that she’s been caught in such a way that Scott might be saved. Vetra’s seen that look on scums faces before, and Scott doesn’t have the time for this woman’s silence. She looks up and meets Reyes’s eyes, and she can see that he knows it too. Vetra usually isn’t too sure where Reyes falls on the scale of ally to enemy on most days, with his easy smiles and dark eyes. This is a man with secrets who won’t hesitate to do what he needs to do to get what he wants.
But that’s most days. That’s a concern that Vetra normally has when Scott’s off running around with Vidal on some crazy Kadara mission. That’s a concern that Vetra normally has when she’s trying to pull a deal off and Reyes is between her and her payout.
But that’s not today. Today, they’re a group of people who care about Scott each in their own ways and who are willing to do what needs to be done.
“I’m going to be very clear here.” Vetra states, her voice calm. It’s the voice she uses when she’s on the job, the one that tells people to think twice before they fuck with her. “We need information that only you have and we don’t have a lot of time in which to get it.”
“Go to fucking hell.” Marlowe practically snarls at her and Vetra continues as if she hasn’t spoken a word.
“Now, the moment you step on that ramp, you’re under the Nexus rule and there are certain laws and guidelines that apply to you that don’t apply to you where you’re standing right now.” Vetra says and she feels Drack come up behind her in silent support to what she’s threatening. She knew he would be, maybe not Liam and Jaal if they were here – but all teams need those that only work in the light and those that don’t.
Today? For Scott? Vetra doesn’t. Unfortunately for Marlowe - today, for Scott, no one in the immediate area does.
“Is that supposed to scare me?” Marlowe challenges foolishly, and Vetra just tilts her head.
“Honestly, it should terrify you.” Vetra replies. “Because I need information that I don’t think you’re going to give up without a fight and if I take you on board we both know that I can’t bring that fight to you.” She looks at Reyes who nods once. “However, there are people here who would be more than willing to handle you. Even if we were not to do anything, you can be assured that Sloane is frothing at the mouth to get a chance to get one over on the Nexus.” Vetra takes a step forward, looking down at the woman. “Think on that – really think on that. Because nothing is stopping us from handing you over and making that deal.”
“You’re all the fucking same.” Marlowe snaps, but there’s a tightness in her body. It’s clear that she figured that she’d go back to some cushy cell and wait while people played ‘good cop/bad cop’ with her. This, what Vetra is spelling out in front of her, is something she didn’t account for.
“Not all of us.” Vetra tells her. “Not Scott, but thanks to you he’s not here right now. Instead you’ve got us.”
“And who the hell do you think you are?” Marlowe asks and there’s a tiny note of panic in her tone now as Vetra steps forward and lowers her voice.
“Who are we? We’re the people that you should have thought about before you attacked him.” She all but whispers to her. “We’re the Pathfinder’s protectors, and worse than that, we’re his friends.” Vetra lets that soak in for a moment before she looks up. “Vidal, may we borrow your transport for a moment?”
“With pleasure.” Reyes replies and Vetra looks at Marlowe.
“I’m going to give you one last chance. If we step on his ship, you’re not going to like what happens to you.” Vetra warns her. “Or, you can take the easy way out and tell us what we want to know and you go on our ship. The choice is yours.”
It feels like coming out of stasis again, with the sort of sickening lethargy that overtakes the body. Scott feels like he’s been hit by a brick wrapped in velvet, and even though that image doesn’t fully make sense his brain is nodding along with it like ‘Yup, that’s exactly how I feel. Bravo.’
“SAM?” Scott asks opening his eyes, and his voice comes out a lot softer and scratchier than he meant it to and there’s a sudden flurry of activity all around him. Harry steps up on one side of him, a look of pure relief on his face that’s matched by Lexi who appears on his other side. Lexi puts a hand on his shoulder, before gently squeezing it.
“Welcome back Scott.” She says. “You had us all worried.”
I second the doctor’s statement. It is good to have you back with us Scott. SAM says to him and Scott goes to shift when hands press him down.
“Uh, uh. None of that now.” Harry says firmly. “SAM might be rerouting sensation in certain area’s so you don’t feel pain, but that doesn’t mean you’re fine and that you should be moving around.”
“What?” Scott tries to say, almost coughing around a dry throat and he’s relieved when Lexi twists away from him only to return with a cup and straw for him to drink from.
You were grievously injured. SAM answers him and Scott looks around the medical room for a moment as he drinks.
“What do you remember?” Lexi asks him gently and Scott takes a moment to try and get his mind to pull up the memory.
He remembers docking at the Nexus, the Tempest stocking up on supplies for the next mission that they’d be called off on. Gil had offered for everyone to go to the Vortex, but Scott had declined with a promise of next time. He’d been exhausted, too many interfaces with Remnant technology in too short of a timeframe. The resulting headache had not been pleasant to deal with. He’d just wanted to head to his dad’s old room and sleep it off. What happened then?
The memory hits him like the echo of the gunshot in his mind.
“Scott?” Harry’s voice sounds worried. It was her, Scott remembered her. He’d walked right past her and hadn’t recognized her, hadn’t paid attention to who was stationed outside of his door like a complete moron. She’d followed him into the room, there’d been no warning, no chance to dodge or deflect. The question asked from behind him as he turned around and then the echo of the shot.
She’d hovered over him when he fell. She’d put her foot on his stomach and pushed with a twisted sneer on her face while he writhed in agony.
It all gets fuzzy after the alarms went off, after she spit on him and disappeared. All he remembers then is feeling numb, feeling cold and then SAM.
“Did you get her?” Scott asks, and he wishes that his voice would come out stronger already.
“Officer Marlowe was apprehended on Kadara.” Harry tells him. “She gave the information about the nerve agent that she’d coated the bullet in. However, she was gunned down later when she attempted to flee.”
“Yes.” Harry replies. “You don’t need to worry about any of that though.” Harry shines a light in his eyes and Scott follows it when instructed to.
“Thank you.” Scott says to all of them once they finish with all their tests and he gets smiles all around. “And you too SAM, thanks buddy.”
I am glad that you are well on your way to recovery. SAM tells him and Scott nods.
“If you’re feeling up to it, there are some people outside this room who are about to stage a mutiny if they’re not allowed inside sometime soon.” Lexi says with a smile and Scott can’t help but match it. “Are you feeling up to company?” Scott nods.
“I think so.” He says and Lexi looks at her scans.
“SAM?” She asks.
I will monitor his vitals Doctor T’Perro. At the first sign of strain or stress, I will cut it short. SAM offers and she nods before moving towards the door and releasing the lock to let it open. Immediately Scott’s team enters the room. Peebee looks like she’s about to either jump hug him or just climb onto the medical bed and smother him to death – but Vetra catches the Asari before she can manage.
“Hey kid, how ya feeling?” Drack asks and Scott smiles at all of them as they circle his bed.
“Better I’m told.” Scott replies. “I don’t remember much of it; I guess I’ve got a lot of gaps. How long has it been?”
“Eight days.” Jaal answers him. “But it is good to see you awake and growing strong.”
“Eight days?” Scott repeats and he gets some nods. “Wow…that’s a little longer than I thought.”
“Well, we had to track Marlowe down on Kadara when she fled the Nexus.” Liam fills him in. “That took a few days, and then we had to get an antidote made.”
“The scientists on Havarl have been pleased to hear that their assistance has aided you in this time.” Jaal interjects.
“Havarl? I’m missing some pieces here. What does Havarl have anything to do with it?” Scott asks.
Officer Marlowe used an Angaran plant that she likely procured from Roekaar sources. Since the Nexus had not come across it, yet there was no information in the databanks on how to cure you. SAM supplies and Scott sees everyone around him nod along with the AI’s statements.
“So Jaal asked Evfra and the Moshae for help, and they in turn contacted the scientists on Havarl to see what they could find out.” Liam adds on. “And once we had a name for the plant, they were able to help create an antidote and get it here like pronto.”
“Sounds like a lot of work went into this. Sorry I caused you all so much trouble.” Scott says and he sees frowns on their faces for a second before they’re all arguing over each other that he didn’t cause them trouble – he caused them worry and that he better not do it again or so help them.
“You’re off duty for the next two weeks.” Cora offers up and Scott goes to say something but she cuts him off. “Tann’s orders, and quite frankly – mine too.”
“And mine.” “Me too.” “Don’t even think about it kid.” “You’re not going anywhere.” The various voices of his team blur together for a moment but the sentiment is clear.
“…thanks guys.” Scott says after a moment, smiling at all of them. “I always knew you’d have my back.”
“And don’t you ever forget it.” Cora says with a smile of her own as she reaches out and squeezes his hand.
I think it’s time to let Scott rest now. SAM’s voice interrupts them seconds before Scott feels the lethargy hit him.
“Wow, you’re on top of that.” Scott chuckles as Lexi and Harry come back over.
“You heard SAM. Visiting hours will resume tomorrow. Let the Pathfinder rest.” There are some groans from certain members before they all allow themselves to be pushed outside and the doors close.
“…thanks. Really, thanks.” Scott tells him and there’s a momentary pause.
Anytime Scott. Anytime. SAM answers him and Scott relaxes back down into the mattress.
“Well look who’s finally up and about again.” Sloane says, the boredom of the morning falling away at the sight of the Initiative Pathfinder. Sloane glances at him and notices the blonde woman standing at his side. One of his associates, a gifted biotic she’s told. One that was trained by Asari commandos. It’s not like the Pathfinder to bring a weapon into her abode, Sloane figures that he must still be on the mend and Tann’s finally acknowledging the proper way to keep an eye on his toys.
Scott Ryder’s eyes are as fierce as ever though, mocking her with the twinkle in them and the tilt of his lips as he does his customary half bow in greeting.
“Your majesty.” He says carelessly. Sloane figures that she can understand why someone would want to shoot the youngest Ryder. Most days she has to remind herself that war with the Nexus isn’t worth the fleeting pleasure she’d get from killing him.
“Too bad you weren’t here a few weeks ago.” She says to him, flipping through screens. “You might have been able to appreciate my exterior decorating.”
“Exterior decorating?” Scott asks, a small bit of confusion on his face and Sloane can’t help the grin she gives him as she leans back in her chair.
“An old friend of yours was decorating my docks.” Sloane says before she makes a motion where she drags her forefinger against her throat. “Or, at least her head was.” Sloane’s grin grows when she sees the Pathfinder’s face fall into a disapproving frown. He’s too easy sometimes, heart on his fucking sleeve and all that nonsense, makes him fun to play with and so very few things were fun these days. “Oh come now, I thought you’d be pleased.”
“Well you thought wrong.” Scott says and she chuckles.
“I’ll bet. When are you going to learn Pathfinder? Out here? Grand examples are necessary for survival.” She tells him. “Maybe if you’d been a little more firm with the children, you wouldn’t have had a problem with one acting out.”
“I don’t exactly call drugging people up and taking advantage of their desperation as being ‘firm’, but then again what do I know?” Scott tells her, crossing his arms in front of him in a clearly displeased fashion. Sloane goes to say something else to him, to rile him up more; but the woman interrupts them.
“We’re just here, announcing ourselves on Kadara as required.” She says, her body language loose but it’s clear that she’s not threatened by anyone in the room, armed or not and Sloane figures that she can respect that.
“I’ve told you before Pathfinder, you better not be real estate shopping out here.” Sloane reminds him and he shakes his head, his snarky attitude coming back up to the surface.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He says with some of his previous spark returning to him.
“That’s good. I’d hate to kill you after you just barely survived the last one.” She tells him as she waves him off. “Remember the rules and we’ll have no issues.” He nods once and inclines to her. “Maybe I should get a ring for next time.” Sloane says off the top of her head and Scott looks at her. “Make you kiss it.”
“I’ll be sure to bring mouthwash next time I stop by then.” He replies to her with his usual parting devil may care grin and Sloane snorts with a roll of her eyes as she goes back to her usual work of keeping Kadara Port running despite the influx of morons who reside there.
“Get out of my face before I shoot you.” She says in an almost familiar sort of banter and the two of them leave to go on their way.
“I don’t know why you put up with them.” Kaetus says the moment they leave the room and Sloane sighs.
“Wonderboy over there has some magical touch that restores worlds. I’m not exactly gonna kick him off my planet if he’s here to work his magic touch on it for free.”
“So you’re just using him to fix the vault and then what?”
“And then the Initiative can kiss my ass.”
“You look like you’re waiting for someone.” Is Scott’s opening line behind him and Reyes chuckles.
“What have I told you about stealing my lines?” He says as he turns around to see Scott standing there with a grin on his face.
“I don’t recall you telling me anything other than ‘that’s my line’.” Scott tells him as he comes over and leans next to him against the bar top. “Do I actually get a free drink this time or am I somehow going to be left with the bill again?”
“You wound me Pathfinder.” Reyes states playfully. “I recall promising you a drink if you ever found the time to make your way down here.” Reyes motions to the bartender, holding up two fingers only to be surprised by Scott shaking his head and holding up just one.
“Well, that’s too bad.” Scott says with a small huff at Reyes’s confused look. “Because I’m strictly on a ‘No Alcohol or any other weird concoctions’ restriction.” He makes a face that scrunches his nose up slightly. “Doctor’s orders.” Reyes nods at the answer and looks back at the bartender to motion for two again.
“You never struck me as the sort to listen to ‘doctor’s orders’.”
“Yeah, most of the time I’d say you’ve hit me right on the head…but SAM and the team are menaces and they’ve been enforcing it quite strictly.”
“They care about you.” Reyes offers and Scott gets a soft smile.
“Yeah, I know. I pretend like I’m gonna cause them trouble, but truth be told I feel like I’ve caused them more than enough for a while.” Scott glances at him before he leans over and nudges Reyes’s shoulder with his own. “Thanks by the way. Vetra tells me that you’re the one who eventually found her.”
“You’re welcome.” Reyes replies as the bartender drops off two drinks and Scott arches an eyebrow at how Reyes takes both. He should know that Reyes has no compunction about drinking them both though, and if he doesn’t know that, he’s about to find out. “So how are you doing?” Reyes asks him and Scott lets some of the mask that he’s wearing slip away as he leans against the bar top.
“I’m alive.” Scott says softly. “I mean, that’s more than Marlowe can say.”
“She shot you.” Reyes reminds him and Scott nods.
“I know, I know. I just…I guess I wish she hadn’t tried to make a break for it.” Scott replies and Reyes nods along with his words. “I would have preferred that she be wasting away in a cell then her corpse being beheaded and hung up on Sloane’s wall like some kind of trophy or something.”
“Marlowe made her own bed Scott.” Reyes tells him. “You’re not responsible for when she had to lay in it.”
“…well this conversation got depressing really fast.” Scott says as he shakes his head as if to push away the melancholy that’s clinging to him. It’s clear he fails. “Hey Reyes…can I ask you a question?”
“You can ask.” Reyes tells him and Scott gives him a look.
“Will you answer honestly?”
“I guess that depends on the question itself.” Reyes replies and Scott shakes his head with an amused huff.
“Yeah, I figured as much.” He mutters more to himself than to Reyes. “Do you…do you blame us for all of this? For selling you an Andromeda that didn’t exactly hold up to all of the grand promises that were made?”
“Not in the slightest.” Reyes answers easily, reaching out and taking a sip of the second glass. “To tell the truth, I know a novel concept, I wasn’t at all surprised when we got here and everything went to shit.”
“You weren’t?” Scott asks and he sounds disbelieving.
“The promises that Garson made, that the Initiative made and I guess that your father made – they were promises based on the information that we had at that moment. But all of their scans were from over six hundred years ago. A lot can happen in six hundred years. People are foolish if they thought that what they were seeing in the catalogues were what was going to be waiting for us.” Reyes says. “Besides, I always thought the whole thing was a little fishy.”
“With how quickly the whole thing came together? The raffles and the ‘ARC’s? I always thought that something was going on that they weren’t telling the rest of us. Not enough time otherwise, not enough training and not enough information to go off of. It was like one day Garson showed up, preaching about the Andromeda Initiative and suddenly there are ARC’s and people getting frozen aboard.” Scott gets a small frown as he thinks about it.
“If you thought it was fishy, then why did you come?” He asks and Reyes hums softly to himself.
“Are you a religious man Scott?”
“Me either, but my abuela was. When I was young, she used to read stories to me out of the ‘Great Book’.” Reyes takes another sip. “Well, I remember this particular story where Noah is commanded by the big man upstairs to save the world by building an arc that would be the only thing to survive the oncoming storm. Everyone else laughed at him and didn’t get in when they had a chance, and they all died banging on the outside of it. I swore that I wasn’t going to be one of those people.”
“So you signed on? How did you get picked?”
“Oh?” Scott says and it sounds surprised. Reyes figures that Scott’s surprise is due; Reyes isn’t exactly a model of the kinds of people they were searching for with the raffles.
“I rigged it.” Reyes turns and gives him a grin. “Not really one for leaving things up to chance.” Reyes reaches out and taps Scott’s arm gently. “I’m glad I did. I doubt we’d have crossed paths in the Sol system.” Scott looks like he’s fighting back an amused smile at that, but he must opt not to reply to it because he doesn’t say anything back.
“We’re going to be out in the Badlands for a while. Looking for some remnant areas. See if we can track down the necessary monoliths to find the vault. Since you are kind of my go to man here on Kadara, anything I should know about?”
“Show me your map.” Reyes says and he makes the necessary markings on the hot locations outside the Slums for now. “Those are the ones I know about off the top of my head but I’ll keep my ear to the ground. Anything else pops up and I’ll give you a call.”
“Sounds good. Thanks Reyes.” Scott says as he pushes away from the counter and he pulls out his Omni-Tool and pays for the drinks. He has the gall to give Reyes a cheeky wink after he does it.
“Don’t be a stranger Pathfinder.” Reyes calls out after him as he leaves and Scott turns around for a brief moment while still walking backwards.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He says with a grin as he meets back up with his team and Reyes waits until he turns around and is no longer looking at him before he makes eye contact with Vetra. A silent understanding passes through them as he raises the rest of his drink to her in a toast and she inclines her head as she turns and follows the Pathfinder out of Tartarus.
Sloane may be a piece of work, not half as much as Reyes himself is, but at least there are still moments of thieves honor that he can count on.
Moreover, as far as Marlowe is concerned. Well dead men tell no tales and all that.