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1 yr ago
Current Sometimes I wonder whether or not my trust is misplaced or not, especially when it seems that the trust I place in some people isn't reciprocated.
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1 yr ago
All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.
2 yrs ago
Currently in exam periods at University after a full month of mobilization and a constant strike Things arent looking well so ill either be busy trying to save the semester or not because its lost
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2 yrs ago
I should re-read the Lord of the Rings one of these days
2 yrs ago
Is it wierd that, whenever I am stressed I want to RP? I don't know, helps keep my mind off of certain things. Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.


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Khosin and Serena; Day two of shore leave.

A collab by your's truly and @Rtron

Serena walked up to where Khosin had made his temporary quarters, knocking on the door. It hadn’t been easy to find the batarian, Khosin both liking his privacy and being very quick whenever he left his hidey-hole. But now she had him cornered, and she wasn’t about to let him wiggle out of getting out of this hole, or at the very least doing something other than drinking. She banged on the door, calling out as she did so. ”Khosin, I know you’re in there. Open up, I wanna talk!”

”I’m gonna give you two minutes, then I’m hacking the door open!”

Khosin was dimly aware of the sound of knocking on his door, groaning as he shifted on the bed “Who the fuck is bothering me now.” His sleep-addled mind wondered, thankfully the second statement made by his mysterious visitor made it clear who she was: Serena. “Shit. Fuck.” He immediately thought as he noticed the bottle-littered floor of his apartment.

It wasn’t like he had drunk them all just now, but he doubted that particular distinction would ease any of Serena’s concerns. “I’m going, I’m going, there’s no need to hack my door.” Khosin said, voice hoarse from drinking up until a few hours ago. The Batarian stumbled his way to the door, discarded empty bottles falling into the ground and making a clink sound that’d be audible if Serena was paying attention. “Well, here I am, something’s the matter Serena?” Khosin asked once he finally managed to open the door.

He was still wearing his usual set of clothings, which were mercifully unstained by vomit or alcohol stains, but he wasn’t wearing his prosthesis, which rested on the table near his bed. If the hoarse voice didn’t give it away, the stench of alcohol that emanated from Khosin and his blood-shot eyes. Albeit one would only known that if they had lived with a Batarian for a long period of time, made it abundantly clear that the Batarian soldier had been drinking, not to mention drunk, up until a few hours ago.

Serena frowned as she heard bottles being tossed to the ground and Khosin stumbling around. He likely had been drinking nonstop since they got on shore leave, which was why she was here in the first place. Her nose wrinkled reflexively as the strong smell of alcohol wafted through the door and hit her full force. He had been drinking a lot since they got on the Nexus. Briefly, she wondered how he had gotten so much alcohol to his room before deciding it didn’t matter. It wasn’t why she was here anyway. She looked him up and down, frown giving way to weary concern. She couldn’t nag him to stop, that’d only result in him closing both himself off and the door in her face. ”I wanted to work on your arm and see how you were doing. Now that I have the answer to the latter, get dressed and take a cold shower. We’re gonna go somewhere quiet in the Nexus. I haven’t talked to you in several centuries,” She chuckled, pleased with her humor, “and I want to catch up with you. So come on.” She walked into his room idly kicking bottles out of her way as she made her way to his arm. “Lets go, chop chop. It’s better to work in places that are filled with stars and space.”

“Fine.” Khosin said with a sigh. He knew that there was no sense discussing with Serena when she got like this “But on one condition, whatever we talk about stays between the two of us. It doesn’t go Sabinius or Tazen, nor to any of the Riggers that made the trip to Andromeda, is that clear?” He asked her, crossing his arms as he did so, his four eyes looking directly at hers.
”You don’t have to worry about me.” Serena proclaimed, saluting him with his prosthetic arm. Depending on how the conversation went, she was definitely going to tell someone about it. But she hadn’t lied. Khosin didn’t need to worry about her at all. She was going to worry about him.
With her confirmation, he started making his way to his bathroom “There’s some dried food or some shit in here, feel free to eat. There’s also some water if you want to drink something.” He said before closing the door to his bathroom.
I’m surprised you know what water is anymore. Serena thought, staring at all the empty bottles of alcohol with another concerned frown.
It didn’t took him too long to get ready, 10 minutes at the most, and soon Khosin was presentable enough to go outside and take a walk through the Nexus. “I’d put the arm but, since you want to check it, I’ll forego doing that.” He said, chuckling a little bit “You haven’t forgotten I know a bit about engineering, right? I keep it in good condition, I promise.” He told Serena softly, making his way towards the door.
”Mhmm, I’m sure you think you do. I remember that those engineering skills were focused in engines, not robotics. Allow me to fuss over it. It’s what I do.” Serena said idly, scanning the arm and tucking it beneath her own arm. She looked Khosin up and down, pleased he had actually put effort into going out into the Nexus. She had half expected him to dunk his face in water and maybe spray something over his clothes.
“Come, if you insist dragging me out into the Nexus, lets get it over with quickly. Not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I kind of get a lot of stares. Both from the Angara and our own, they are entirely different kind of stares but they are still annoying.” He said with nonchalance as he opened the door that led out of his temporary quarters, waiting for Serena to take the lead and get out.
Serena waved a nonchalant hand. ”If people stare too long, just cross all four of your eyes at them. Really freak them out. Then we can go about our business. Follow me!” She marched out of the room with a certain enthusiasm, heading towards one of the more secluded places of the Nexus. She kept up a small stream of chatter as she guided him to her chosen spot, occasionally glaring at people who got too rude when staring, talking about nothing in particular except whatever basic nicety passed her mind. She finally sat down against one of the large windows of the Nexus, patting the ground next to her for Khosin to sit at. It was away from any major hubs, and stared almost directly into the Scourge, so people tended to avoid it.

Khosin frowned slightly at Serena’s words but he followed her nonetheless, grateful for the chatter that she provided to keep him distracted from the stares that he got from some of the people walking around the station. He let out a sigh when they finally arrived at the spot that Serena seemed to have chosen, complying with her order and sitting next to her.

”Here’s perfect. It even solves your staring problem.” She sat with her legs crossed, Khosin’s prosthetic in her lap, omni-tools turning into a screwdriver as she began opening the arm up and looking it over.
”So, who gave you the shiner?” She gestured to the bruise along his jaw, relatively fresh, like it had happened only a day ago.

“I suppose that’s true, I hate getting stared at like a freak.” Muttered the Batarian with displeasure “You’d have thought that after so many months I’d have gotten used to it, but not really.” He said with a sigh, turning his head towards Serena to see her working on his arm. He was about to speak his mind to tell her that he’d already given the prosthesis regular maintenance the day they had gotten back to the Nexus but Serena’s question caused him to shut his mouth, his body tensing.

The question brought his mind back to the argument that he had had with Dex the other day, the punch from the Turian woman and the way that she had left but not after screeching at him in her fury. Now he felt bad about the whole argument, but also frustrated. “Why can’t she try and understand where I’m coming from.” He thought with a sigh, making a quick mental note to try and patch things up with Dex at a later date...for now they both needed some space.

“Dex.” He answered finally after a few more seconds of silent pondering whether to tell the truth to Serena or not “We were talking and, well, things got kinda heated.” Spoke Khosin, guilt palpable in his voice “Please, don’t pester her about this ok? For now I think we both need to mull over what happened and then patch things up, alright?”
Serena pursed her lips, as she cleaned an already spotless gear in Khosin’s arm. She didn’t like what Dex had done, only because it was largely useless due to Khosin’s mental state. ”Hmm. I’m gonna guess that it was over whatever event that happened in your past and whatever happened in the Hegemony, both of which you’ll only tell her, and this self-loathing bullshit spiral you’re on right now. Because Dex and I, if you recall, got into heated screaming matches a lot while on the Borealis and she never once struck me. So I’m gonna say that you deserved it. Not for the reasons you think, however, so that makes it a largely ineffective tactic in trying to get your head out of the muck.”

Serena held up a hand to forestall any protests from her friend. ”And before you say anything, I’m not gonna nag or plead with you to stop drinking, that you’re a good person despite what you think, that this isn’t you, because I’ve already told you all those things Khosin, and that was when your drinking wasn’t this bad. You already know everything I have to tell you. You just don’t care. And that’s the problem. We can’t make you see what’s good about you if you refuse to see it yourself, or even care for what we say. So. I’m not gonna yell at you or nag you or any of that, because it won’t work. I am, however, going to be here for you. You’re family Khosin. And I don’t give up on family. She paused in her work for a moment to smile at him. She couldn’t make the batarian stop, but she could be there for him through it all.

Khosin tensed up at Serena’s mention of his so-called ‘self-loathing bullshit spiral’, his nails painfully digging into the palm of his hands and his teeth gritting together. “Of course she’d call it that, explaining anything wouldn’t change anything. It didn’t for Dex and I doubt it would do anything for Serena.” The Batarian thought bitterly, frustration quietly but steadily rising up inside of him the more that Serena spoke. “If you truly care for me, if we are truly family…” Khosin began, fighting to keep his composure, “Don’t call what I’m going through bullshit.” He finished, practically seething with frustration, his nails still digging into his palm.

“You don’t know what I’ve been through, what I’ve done, so if you do care about me, don’t try to downplay what I’m going through. Not ever again.” He spoke, blood slowly but steadily dripping from his palms as he continued to dig his nails into the flesh of his hand, “I’m not so weak as to reach this point over trivial nothingness, what I carry is a heavy burden...forgive me if I’m being melodramatic but, please, if you truly consider me family don’t try and downplay what I’m going through.” He finished with a sigh. He knew that he was repeating himself, and that he truly had not addressed what Serena had said to him, but the way that Serena, and Dex, treated what he was going through infuriated him. What did they know of the blood that he carried on his hands? Of the guilt in his mind? Nothing, but the least they could do is try and recognise that what he was going through wasn’t some petty bullshit as both women had called it.
Serena’s eyes flicked briefly to his hand before meeting a pair of his eyes again. At least he was showing something other than depressed self-loathing. The fact that he reacted so harshly only confirmed hers suspicions of what he’s done. Oh Khosin. The past is the past, but you’re still letting it eat you alive. ”You’re right. I don’t. Because you won’t tell me. And I don’t think you ever will.” She paused, giving him an opportunity to prove her wrong. When he didn’t, she continued.

You know what I do know? I know that on the Borealis you were willing to die for people that hated you. I know that you ran across an open area through gunfire to save Iosef when a bullet took him through the leg. I know that you shielded Tanya from a rocket blast with your own body, when she was at her worst to you. I know that you have saved my life on too many occasions to count, purely because you’re a good man. Evil people don’t do those things Khosin. You made mistakes, so have we all. Maybe your mistakes are soul crushingly serious. That doesn’t change who you are now. Monsters don’t do this to themselves because of what they’ve done, Khosin.” Serena sighed, closing up his arm and leaning back.

”I’ll make you a deal Khosin. I won’t downplay whatever it is in your past that’s eating you up. You won’t downplay whenever Dex and I and whoever else say that the past is the past and all that matters is what you do now, and that everything you’ve done now has been the acts of a man who deserves better than what he’s doing to himself now.” Serena held out Khosin’s prosthetic arm to him. ”Deal?”

Khosin let out Serena speak in silence, shoulders sagged as he listened to his friend as she tried to convince him that he was a good person. “You don’t understand,” He said with a sigh, shaking his head slightly, “How can I leave all that I’ve done behind like it didn’t happen? All the blood that is in my hands, all the lives cut short because of my actions…” The Batarian spoke, his voice haunted with regret and guilt. “If I don’t tell you it’s not because I don’t trust you, it’s merely because it wouldn’t make a difference.” He tried to explain to Serena. He had told Dex, and even when she knew some of the things he had done at Mindoir she still didn’t understand why he still carried the guilt.

“There’s something I once heard ‘Life is but a grace period before death’” Said Khosin with a sigh “I’ve spent most of my grace period making the universe worse. That’s why I’m here in the Initiative, because I want to do some good before I’m gone, it’s why I still get up every day, even if most of the people here hate me even more than Tanya did at her worst.” He continued, shaking his head a bit, “As for why I did all that...well, it should be obvious, you guys were...well, family. I couldn’t let any of you die. Sure, I wasn’t as close to Tanya or Iosef as you were but I still cared about ‘em, well I still care about Tanya since she came with us Iosef’s probably long dead since he didn’t came to Andromeda.”

“But, back to the point,” He said as he shook his head “I also knew that other people in the Borealis cared about them, like you, which is why I couldn’t let them die. It’s not like I did it for some higher, altruistic, purpose.” The Batarian finished with a sigh, shaking his head at the ‘deal’ that Serena offered him “But I can’t do that Serena, the ghosts of what I did, the guilt I carry, won’t go away because of a pep talk, I doubt that they’ll go even with therapy.” He tried to explain himself, even though he knew it was most likely in vain. How could he deserve better than what he was doing to himself? He had been complicit in one of the worst atrocities seen in the Milky Way, and even before then he had been doing the Hegemony’s dirty work for years before he finally lost any and all shred of morality or decency by joining the Mindoir Raid.

“I know this isn’t easy to hear, and I know you’ll try and convince me otherwise, but it’s the truth Serena, as unpleasant and hurtful as it is.”

”And here I was, thinking my pep talks were things of healing and beauty.” Serena cracked a smile, but it never reached her eyes. It hurt to hear all of this, his refusal to even try to see things their way. But it was all she could do now. She would keep working on him later, but right now she wasn’t getting anywhere. Handing him back his arm, Serena paused in thought. They needed something to change the conversation too that wouldn’t circle back to Khosin’s depression. ”You know, I’m rebuilding BARAT in the Heleus Cluster. I could use an experienced engineer to help me with the whole process. We’ve got a lot of new materials and objects to figure out, and I need someone to help with that. What do you say?”

Khosin let out yet another sigh at Serena’s reaction. Humans might as well be an open book for how easily readable their emotions where, “Serena, I ain’t saying this to hurt you needlessly. I’m telling you this now so that you at least understand, and to spare you any future pain.” He tried to explain himself even though he knew that it was, most likely, useless. “As for your comment on BARAT, sure, I can lend a hand but, please, no A.I. attached to the robot this time, ok?” He said softly, “The Initiative might be looser than the Milky Way society when it comes to A.I’s but there are still more than a few skeptics, not to mention rules to follow like those against unshackled A.I.” He cautioned his friend, “Please promise me you’ll steer clear of anything related to artificial intelligence?”

”In my defense, BARAT AI wasn’t planned. That just happened accidentally.” She squirmed in minor embarrassment, completely ignoring his first statement. He wasn’t doing any of that, and he should know better than to try to say he was. ”So it’s settled. You’ll help me one day out of our shore leave to work on BARAT. You’ll have to be sober for that, you know. Can’t muck about with alien technology while drunk as a skunk.”
She nudged him lightly with her arm. ”Can’t have you becoming the first Initiative member to have Remnant tech grafted to them or something like that.”

“I should probably be a bit tipsy you know, we don’t want another incident of ‘sudden A.I.’ here in Androemda, do we?” Khosin said with a light chuckle, shaking his head slightly “Seriously, be careful about with how much tinker for the drone’s V.I. ok? I think more than one person would flip if an A.I. suddenly formed.”

He groaned slightly at her joke about RemTech “Please don’t joke about that, you do know that there are strict laws about tinkering with the stuff right?” He said to her, “In fact, if my memory isn’t failing me, the protocol is that the Pathfinders, and only them, are the ones that are allowed to mess around with that stuff and that’s on account of their S.A.M’s so, best to steer clear of that, promise?”

[color=hoptink]”Whaaat? Me? Tinker with extremely-fascinating-self-healing-advanced alien technology? Why would I ever do that?”[/color] Serena sputtered in mock disbelieve. ”I’m offended Khosin. I really am. You think I would positively leap at the opportunity to tinker with and study Remtech? Perish the thought.

”Just out of curiosity, how strict are these strict laws?” Serena pretended to study her nails nonchalantly, as if she wasn’t balancing the risk against the possible rewards of breaking those laws.

Khosin groaned in quiet frustration at Serena’s words, massaging his temple with his fingertips. “You do know you are talking with someone who was part of the security detail right? I should probably drag you to jail now before you activate a factory full of murderbots under Prodromos or something.” The Batarian said, shaking his head slightly.

“I’m serious Serena, these laws are in place for a reason. We don’t know enough about RemTech to use it safely, this isn’t like Prothean tech that was pretty much ‘plug and go’, this shit is dangerous and I don’t want to see you fry your brain or set loose a murderous A.I. on us ‘cause you were tinkering with shit that you don’t understand.” He said to her, frowning at her nonchalance “I’m serious Serena, I swear to the Pillars if you break these laws I’ll report you myself and for your own good, is that clear?”

”Pfffft.” Serena sputtered at Khosin’s words, raising an eyebrow at him. ”You couldn’t drag me to jail Khosin. Check my bags before and after Remnant missions? Sure. Remove any RemTech that might accidentally fall into my pockets in the process of the mission? Absolutely. But actually drag me to jail or have me dragged to jail? You couldn’t. You know why?” She leaned forward and poked his nose, giggling.

[color=hoptink]”It’s cause you’re a big softie. And we both know it.”[/color]

Khosin groaned again, shaking his head. “I think you are underestimating what I am capable of doing for those I care about.” He said, frowning at the human girl “And, unfortunately for you, I do care for you. So, if the only way to stop you getting your hands into RemTech, and out of trouble consequently, is to drag you to jail, I’ll do it, even if you wind up disabling my prosthesis.” The Batarian said, his frown stil set on his face “I’m deadly serious about this stuff Serena, no RemTech at all, am I clear?” Asked Khosin, already mentally preparing himself from yet another nonchalant response from the part of the pink-haired engineer.

Serena sighed. ”I miss when you would just quietly chuckle and let me do my inane experiments and research. But fine, no messing with RemTech. At all.” She extended a pinky towards Khosin. ”Pinky Promise.”

“That’s because back in the Milky Way you wouldn’t go mucking around with Prothean Tech or any other insane shit like that. And, even then, you still wound up making an A.I. by accident. So I’d say my concerns are warranted.” He said, extending his pinky and wrapping it around Serena’s “Alright, pinky promise. Even though I still got no idea what this entails.” He said, letting out a chuckle. “Though, I think we are done here, unless you wanna tinker with my arm some more. C’mon, if you insist on nagging me so much the least you can do is come back with me to my quarters.”
I'll try and get something up soon, my apologies for making people wait.
And here it is, my response to the writing prompt! Hopefully it's good, and hopefully there aren't too many gramatical errors.

Featuring @Spoopy Scary

Late Afternoon of the 5th Day of Last Seed, 4E205
Solitude, Skyrim
Aboard the Kyne’s Tear - Chaplain’s Cabin

Shortly after Sagax had left, Tsleeixth bid farewell to Keegan and went in search of Wylendriel. Unfortunately Tsleeixth didn’t knew where the priestess resided or much else about her, in the chaos of the events that had transpired at Dawnstar there had been little time for introductions and, as such, he hadn’t had time to meet her, so he had to make a few inquiries to some of the members of the company about where he could find her. As it turned out, and luckily for himself, he didn’t had to go very far, as the Kynareth priestess was staying in a cabin of her own aboard the Kyne’s Tear.

Inside the cabin, there indeed sat a priestess. On her knees, head hanging low, and hands folded before a small shrine within a dimly lit room. Two flickering candles, the faint spark at the tip of a stick of incense, and the orange afternoon llight streaking through the cracks around the door was all that illuminated the interior. The thin wisps of smoke were disturbed from their natural flow by Wylendriel’s breathing, and the faint words being muttered from her lips, "Come to me, Kynareth, for without you, I might not know the mysteries of the world, and so blind and in terror, I might consume and profane the abundance of your beautiful treasures."

It was a prayer she has spoken many times before, and it usually brought her some measure of peace. So often, in fact, she could probably recite the ritual and perform all of its steps in her sleep; but now, it was bringing her no such peace. She’d retrace her steps - breathe in and relax. Invite her in, let her heal you from the inside, let her be your breath… then exhale. Return her to the wind. It was second nature, but when she breathed in, she could not bring herself to relax. No amount of breathing was releasing the tension from her body. She breathed in once more - this time she held it. She held it for as long as she could. It was sacrilegious, trying to contain Kyne’s breath, but like a child she was reaching and grasping for a mother and would not let go. She was pleading for her comfort and her touch, trying to keep her close for as long as she could.

But the longer she tried to contain her breath, the wind fought harder and harder to get out. Her lungs were straining, her eyes squeezed shut, her teeth clenching - but finally, the wind broke free and the priestess released a sharp exhale. The panting which followed stirred the smoky air in her cabin, as she looked longingly into the icon of her goddess.

Why couldn’t she find her?

“Miss Wylendriel?” She heard a voice say, followed by a knocking on her door. Outside, Tsleeixth’s tail was twitching slightly as anxiety took a hold of him. He had never talked to the priestess, or any priestess or priest for that matter, and as such he was unsure on how to proceed. Wylendriel did not jump to answer, but instead was in a rush trying to recompose herself - patting down her hair, slowing down her breathing, and straightening away her affairs as she heard his voice once more. “My apologies for bothering you, but I understand that Ashav hired you as a chaplain and, well...truth be told I am in need of some counseling. Is it ok for me to come in?” He said after having knocked for a second time, still unsure of himself.

That voice. There was something peculiar about that voice, Wy noted. Were they saxhleel? As though she was reminded, she immediately looked around the shrine where she had been praying and locked onto Tzinasha’s feather, placed in front of Kynareth’s icon and parallel with the line of candles and incense she had laid out. She took the quill, and although her hair was currently unbraided, she made sure to slide it through the hair behind her ear. At least that way, it would hopefully stay put. Now, then…

It was a few moments after Tsleeixth knocked on the cabin door for the second time. It seemed as though that nobody was home, until his ears caught the gentle footfalls against the wood inside. The door clicked and creaked open, revealing the short-statured priestess that was nearly a foot shorter than he was, who looked like she was hiding behind the barely opened door as if she was using it as her shield. At the sight of the argonian, she seemed to relax a little bit and leaned against the door frame.

“Oh, of course.” She said. The tenderness and cordiality of her voice sounded a little forced, and as she continued it became more obvious that she was meeker than what she was attempting to present herself as. “It’s about time one of you decided to see me. Ashav’s fighters are a proud lot, I’ve learned. I was getting afraid I wouldn’t be earning my keep.”

“I truly do hope that I’m not being a bother, miss Wylendriel.” Said Tsleeixth with a light frown. The way that the Bosmer had seemed to relax when she noticed him hadn’t gone unnoticed by him, but by that same token the forcedness of the tenderness and cordiality in her voice also hadn’t gone unnoticed.

“Oh, we definitely are a proud lot.” Commented the Saxhleel with a light chuckle before he let out a sigh. “But I think more and more of us will seek your counsel...things haven’t gone well as I’m sure you have noticed.” He said as he entered the cabin. “As for why I’ve personally come…” He started before pausing as hesitation took a hold of him.

“You….You were with us at Dawnstar, you know what happened there.” Tsleeixth spoke, hesitating at first before his voice took on some confidence. Wy subconsciously touched the feather behind her ear. Tsleeixth continued, “The mob, the destruction of the refugee camp that my people had made.” He listed before pausing for a second “I’m...I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but one of the members of our company was beaten by the specifically.” He admitted, his tail twitching in anxiety as he recalled the events that had happened in Dawnstar.

“Ever since then, fear has gripped my soul. When I went out into the city I constantly looked over my shoulder in fear, waiting for the Nord citizens around me to turn into that same bloodthirsty mob that beat me to near-death.” He continued, his voice wavering as he spoke of the fear that had overtaken him. “I….I don’t know what to do to overcome this, and so I turn to you.” He finished, voice still wavering, uncertainty and fear plain in his eyes as he waited for Wylendriel’s response.

At first there was no response, there was only the priestess’ thousand-yard stare as Tsleeixth retold his story. Though she tried to put herself in his shoes, to imagine herself in his situation, but each and every word he spoke threw her back into her own memories. It alarmed her to realize that it had nothing to do with her not being able to imagine or sympathize with the saxhleel’s hardships, but with the fact that she has already lived them. The hand that held the door open trembled a bit, but the priestess held her breath and steadied it with her other hand. She looked up at Tsleeixth with a look of sober understanding, then pushed the door open wide enough for him to enter the privacy of her room.

“Come inside.” She softly invited. That was all she could bring herself to say in the open for now, and her eyes moved to scan all of the Tear’s crew and company fighters behind him. She didn’t want anybody being nosy or prying where they didn’t belong.

The stare that the priestess directed at Tsleeixth surprised the Saxhleel, who was afraid that he had said something that had upset the Bosmer. The silence stretched for a few seconds before he noticed the fact that Wylendriel’s hand was trembling and Tsleeixth was about to speak up when he noticed the look of sober understanding that crossed the Bosmer’s eyes.

It him him in a second that the priestess in front of him had gone through something similar to him, and guilt began gnawing at the Argonian’s mind. He didn’t want to make the priestess relieve an experience as horrible as the one he had lived through, but before he could say anything she fully opened the door and invited him inside. “Thank you.” Was all that the overwhelmed Saxhleel could say as he entered into the cabin .

“Miss… Miss Wylendriel.” Tsleeixth spoke once he had settled inside of the cabin and the door had been closed.

“Please, you may just call me Wy.” She interrupted as she moved through her room. She found some more candles and lit their wicks with the candles that were already lit by her alter, and set them around the room for more light.

“Wy it is then.” He said, taking a deep breath before he continued, “I...I don’t mean to be presumptuous, or to pry into your personal issues, but I believe you went through something similar as I did, didn’t you Wy?” He asked her softly, concern plain in his voice.

Tsleeixth’s question caused her to pause for a moment in the middle of her hurried pace, but it was only followed by more silence. She straightened the setup of her altar and replaced the stick of incense before it. When she finally gave him his answer, it wasn’t to the question he asked, but a question of her own.

“Are you still injured?”

The silence of the priestess didn’t surprise him much, after all the question that he had asked her had been one of a personal nature and one that wouldn’t be freely answered to someone she had just met even if they had went through the same sort of experiences as he suspected. “Yes but I’m afraid there isn’t much that can be done to mend those injuries. My left knee seems to have been left permanently crippled you see.” He answered her question, “It causes me to walk with a limp and, occasionally, it causes me pain still.”

“Have you been treated by an expert restorationist before?” She asked matter-of-factly. While the words she spoke would’ve normally sounded arrogant in any other context, she spoke them with a gingerness and with such humility that it betrayed her vulnerability. “I can’t recreate your tissues, no, but I can help alleviate some of the long-term pain.”

“No, I haven’t been treated by an expert in restoration before. Amidst the chaos in Dawnstar and our voyage to Solitude there wasn’t much time.” Admitted the Argonian.

The priestess reached over her bed and grabbed a feather pillow, tossing it onto the floor next to Tsleeixth. She ordered, “Sit down and roll up your pant leg.”

He nodded in response to Wy’s orders and sat on the feather pillow that was on the ground. He stretched his left leg and rolled up his pant until the knee was visible. “Thank you for this, I know it won’t fully heal the damage but I appreciate you helping alleviate the pain.” He said quietly, biting his lip slightly as he pondered whether to speak again.

Wylendriel sat down next to him and carefully inspected his knee, poking and prodding in spots to see what exactly was wrong with it. She felt around for possible broken bones, torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments. She remained wordless.

“I’m...I’m sorry if my previous question was tactless.” Tsleeixth said in the end, deciding to speak. “It was just that, well, by the look you gave me it seemed that you understood what I’ve been through.” He finished, deciding to omit the “as if you had lived through something similar” that was going through his mind.

She looked up at her patient and sighed, shaking her head. Finally, she said, “You misunderstand me. I…”

But the words couldn’t come out. The truth was that she didn’t know what to say to him. She didn’t know if there was anything she could say, but she knew that there was something she could do. She just had to confront her fears in order to do it. She hesitated at first, but eventually she raised her fingers around where her neck was and undid the top bone-crafted button of her robe, revealing a small portion of her neck. She undid these buttons until she was halfway down her robe and the upper half was falling off of her shoulders.

She was wearing a black wool top underneath it and it was sleeveless and exposed a portion of her midriff, but that wasn’t what was supposed to catch his eye. It was the exorbitant number of scars that were littering her body. From long scratches, to gouges, punctures and lashings, but most noticeable was the long scar that went across her throat. Wy found herself still feeling subdued and haunted by her body - this would’ve been the first time that anybody else has seen anything other than her face and hands since then.

“I was on a pilgrimage to the Eldergleam Sanctuary when I was betrayed by my own escorts.” She muttered. She uttered a silent prayer to Y’ffre under her breath with closed eyes before her hands were suddenly aglow with bright yellow restorative energy and were applied to Tsleeixth’s knee.

Tsleeixth was, at first, confused, not to mention embarrassed and flustered, by Wy’s act of unbuttoning her robe, but those feelings soon gave way to shock as he caught a glimpse of the first scars when her bare shoulders were revealed once the upper part of her robe was unbuttoned. His shock only increased as more of the gruesome scars became readily apparent on the length of her arms and on her midriff. Any and all words that he might have had died in his throat as he beheld the scars that the Bosmer priestess carried. It wasn’t the scars so much that left him speechless, he had plenty of scars himself, but the realisation that whatever it was that Wy had lived through, it was much worse than what he had lived through by magnitudes.

Even so, part of him wanted to help the priestess. To give her a sign that he understood her pain and to comfort her in some way, fully understanding that she was exposing herself to him and the vulnerability of the moment. Yet no words came to his mind and his body remained in place as Wy worked her magic on his knee.

“You came to me for my council,” Wy said somberly, keeping focused on his leg, “but I’m afraid to tell you that I have none to give. I don’t mean to scare you or dash your hopes by saying that I still haven't found the answer myself. From what I can tell you, it doesn’t just go away. It’s nothing that words or actions can fix. You just… learn to live with it. It takes time.”

The glow coming from her hands slowly faded away and she retrieved them. Her hands immediately went to hugging her own arms close to her body, subconsciously covering a few of the scars.

She continued, “But, if it’s any small comfort, I can give you the knowledge that you aren’t alone. That there’s someone close by who understands how you feel.”

Wylendriel’s eyes fell on the altar to Kynareth exhaled a sigh, feeling a minor sense of relief of her own. She thought, ‘Lady knows that it is to me, at least.’

“It’s a great deal of comfort for me.” Admitted Tsleeixth, his voice wavering, as he gingerly placed his hand on Wy’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze “Maybe… maybe it’s preposterous of my part to say this but, if you need to talk, know that I’m here.” He offered to the priestess. He couldn’t imagine what the Bosmer priestess had went through, but he knew that she was suffering just like him, if not even more, but he was willing to help her however she could if she’d seek his help.

In a way, she agreed that it was sort of preposterous - it almost brought a smile to her face. Tsleeixth was here because he was seeking her help, and when she tried to in the only way she knew how, he’s trying to go out of his way to turn this therapy session on its head. It was perturbing to her that about every saxhleel she has met so far had such big, good hearts, and yet Dawnstar was somehow able to find a way to tear them all down. She was about to turn Tsleeixth down before her memories reminded her of Tzinasha and his wisdom.

“There's no shame in accepting help. Accept it when you can. The rivers we swim in have jagged rocks, there is no telling when we may find it again.”

Now Wylendriel was smiling in earnest at the memory of her late friend. She looked back up at Tsleeixth and sat up straight. She said, “I appreciate it. Back to Dawnstar, though…”

Her eyes flicked over to the side as she withdrew the saxhleel feather from behind her ear. She layed it flat across her hands in front of Tsleeixth for him to see.

“I lost a dear friend while we were there.” She said, the fondness of Tzinasha’s memory quelling the rising anger at being reminded of the assassin. “His name was Tzinasha, are you familiar with him? He was the pakseech among the refugees. He said something very wise, once. He said: it doesn’t feel good to open the wound, but it would do us ill to linger on it. Focus on the scar too much, and we forget it to be a sign of healing."

Tsleeixth’s eyes widened when he saw the saxhleel feather in Wy’s hands. “Yes, I heard about him, he was the Pakseech amongst the Dawnstar refugees.” He said with a smile once he recovered from the shock. “To my great shame I didn’t have time to meet him. Shortly after we returned from Winterhold we were sent to explore a Dwemer ruin and, well, you know what happened afterwards.” Tsleeixth said, falling silent as Wy continued.

“He was a wise man.” Answered the spellsword when the Bosmer repeated what the late Pakseech had told her. He fell silent for a bit as he thought on the meaning behind the words of the late Tzinasha, his tail flickering slightly as he tried to link what Wy had told him and their present situation. “Are you suggesting that, maybe, the fact that we are still here, able to talk about this, is a sign that we… we are starting to heal from what we went through?” He offered tentatively.

“We’re still here.” Wy repeated with a nod. “It hurts now, but you mustn’t linger on it. We mustn’t linger on it. Let the wounds heal.”

Tsleeixth fell silent for a few seconds, pondering Wy’s words in his head, before he gave the Bosmer priestess a nod, “Yes, you are right.” He said, a smile forming on his face for what seemed like the first time after the whole fiasco in Dawnstar. “I can’t express how much help you’ve been Wy, nor the depths of my gratitude for your counsel.” Spoke the Argonian, “I also reiterate what I said before, if you need someone to talk with, know that I’m here.”

“I only get paid to do one job on this boat, don’t you try stealing it from me.” The priestess teased, probably marking the first sign of a sense of humor since Ashav invited her into his company. She pulled her robes back over her shoulders and stood up, also giving Tsleeixth her hands so that she could help him to his feet. Once he got up, she smiled and said, “The Hist still watches you, Ts… slee… uh... Tslee.”

Tsleeixth laughed as Wy teased him, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it a secret. Wouldn’t dream to steal your job.” The Argonian retorted back, smiling a little. He accepted the hands that the Bosmer priestess offered to him and he stood up with her help.

He smiled once more as she told him that the Hist still watched over him, a chuckle escaping his lips at her troubles in pronouncing his full name. “Don’t worry, you are not the first person who has troubles with my name.” He said, still smiling. “First time someone has given me a nickname though.” The spellsword teased.

She only smiled and lifted her hand to place it against his chest, as it glowed with a brilliant light for only a brief moment, but that was all it took for a surge of strength and energy to swell within the argonian’s body. She took back her hand and bowed her head, saying, “A blessing in the name of my lady; Kynareth watches you, too. Rains at your back, Tslee.”

Tsleeixth was a bit surprised when he felt Wy’s hand on his chest, but smiled when he took notice of the light that emanated from there for a brief seconds. “My thanks Wy.” He said in response to her blessing, his smile widening when she bid him farewell with an Argonian expression. “And may friendly branches shade your path, Wy.” Replied the Saxhleel in return, bowing slightly to the Bosmer priestess before he left her cabin.
Featuring @Gcold and @Frizan

Late Afternoon, 5th of Last Seed

Streets of Solitude

Despite its cosmopolitan nature, Argonians still were a rare sight in Solitude; as such, Tsleeixth found himself the target of a few quiet glances from a citizen or two. Normally this wouldn’t have perturbed the Argonian, in fact it would usually have gone completely unnoticed, but after the events that had transpired in Dawnstar, Tsleeixth had found himself possessed of a streak of nervousness that had never manifested before. It wasn’t too evident when he was with members of the company, he knew and trusted them, but when he was alone, if one had spent time with the Argonian, one would notice small ticks that gave away his perturbed state. Furtive glances to each side, a tendency to immediately turn his head when he heard shouting, freezing for a split second when he heard voices shouting in anger.

As such, the Argonian spellsword was keenly aware of the furtive gazes that a few of the Solitude citizens threw his way. It didn’t matter that such gazes were drawn by curiosity and that there was no ill intent in them, for Tsleeixth those gazes instinctively spelt danger. A part of him knew that he was being unreasonable and paranoid, and that this attitude of his was pathetic, but he couldn’t help it. It was all too easy for him to imagine the citizens of Solitude, loitering around going through their lives, as the mob in Dawnstar that had mauled him to near-death and which had left him with permanent damage on his left knee. As such, without meaning too, the Argonian began to speed up his pace, making his way towards the warehouse were Gustav had settled in the company for their short stay in Solitude. Hurried as he was, Tsleeixth didn’t notice when he bumped into someone on his way to the warehouse “I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience sir, please, if you let me be on my way I won’t be any more trouble.” He spoke immediately, fear evident in his words to his great shame. “Coward, you are a coward.” His own voice rang out in his thoughts, admonishing himself as he waited for whoever he had bumped into to speak.

“Oh, it’s no worry friend, I wasn’t watching where I was going…” the Imperial turned to face the stranger to find himself in front of none other than Tsleeixth. Sagax still remembered how he was able to talk down the Pakseech in Windhelm, preventing a massacre. The beastman looked worse for wear, and for good reason, he knew. He had heard what happened shortly before the company’s departure from Dawnstar.

“Long time no see, Tsleeixth. Haven’t really had a chance to talk to you since Windhelm, and we both know how Dawnstar went…”

Cutting the awkward small-talk short while he was ahead, Sagax decided to ask a real, honest question. “So, how are you holding up?” An innocent enough inquiry, but one that came from the heart. The events of the past few weeks had to have some effect on the amicable Argonian, and it wouldn’t do for him to hide all of his troubles. That lead to dark, dark paths that Sagax couldn’t imagine Tsleeixth walking down. “Anything I can help with? I’m all ears, friend.”

“Oh, it’s you Sagax…” Said Tsleeixth, visibly deflating, as some of the anxiety that had taken a hold of him evaporated slightly in the presence of someone he knew. However, this proved fleeting, for as soon as Sagax mentioned Dawnstar, the Argonian visibly flinched before relaxing once more a moment afterwards. “I’m…” He started to say, thinking to lie and say that everything was fine but stopped upon further consideration. Sagax was an intelligent man, he’d figure that something was wrong with him, especially after his display at the mere mention of the town of Dawnstar, and he seemed earnest in his desire to know how he was doing. “To tell the truth, I’m not doing well my friend.” He said with a sigh, some of that old nervousness returning to him again “Could we...could we return to the warehouse where we are staying? I think it’d be better to discuss such things there, no?” He said, hoping that he’d sound convincing. In truth, he just wanted to return to the sole place in Solitude were paranoid thoughts of being beaten up by a mob weren’t near-constantly cropping up in his brain.

In the end, Tsleeixth didn’t give Sagax much of a choice as he began quickly making his way back to the warehouse at a quick pace, although one that soon slowed down as the injury in his knee began acting up and he began limping. Luckily the warehouse wasn’t too far away and so they arrived fairly quickly but, unfortunately, by the time that they got there Tsleeixth’s left knee was acting up once again, pain radiating from the crippled knee and spreading around the area “So, here we are, seems like a much better place to talk no?” Said Tsleeixth as he sat on a nearby crate, his left hand instinctively massaging his left knee while he waited for Sagax to talk again.

“Oh, I agree.” said Sagax as he pushed himself up to sit on a length of railing. “Strangers need not indulge in our woes. Speaking of…” he added tentatively, “You said you were unwell.” Even as a child, Sagax was fairly good at reading people’s emotions. He didn’t really have a method or technique to it, it simply manifested as a gut feeling. Sagax just assumed that it was a gift Mother Mara had given him at a young age. “Even if you didn’t tell me, your body language gives some clues. You’re all...scrunched up. And I’m not talking about your leg.” It was strange, like Tsleeixth was scanning every corner and alley. What was he expecting to find?

“So, what’s eating you, Tsleeixth?” He asked with a tone that he hoped would vocalize patience and understanding. Sagax didn’t want his friend to feel uncomfortable or, even worse, like he wasn’t actually interested in listening.

“I knew you’d notice, even if I hadn’t said anything.” Said Tsleeixth in response to Sagax’s comment that, even if he hadn’t told him, he’d have figured it out due to his body language. “What’s eating me? How should I put it…” Began the Argonian, letting out a soft sigh as he gathered his thoughts. “You do know what happened at Dawnstar….my beating at the hands of the mob, the little….souvenir they gave me.” Continued the Saxhleel, pointing out to his left knee when he mentioned the souvenir that he had gotten at Dawnstar. “Ever since then I’ve….I’ve been scared, to put it bluntly.” He said finally, shaking his head slightly. “This fear has gripped my mind tightly, it wasn’t too obvious when we were travelling aboard the Kyne’s Tear since I trust the people in the company, but ever since we’ve come to Solitude my mind has constantly gone back to the beating I received in Dawnstar.” Said Tsleeixth.

“I keep expecting to, I don’t know, the people around me to turn into that same bloodthirsty mob that tried to kill me.” He admitted to the Imperial, letting out a bitter chuckle “Pathetic, isn’t it? I’ve fought Kamal, Falmer, and all other manner of foes far more terrifying than an unruly mob of Nords...and yet fear grips my heart like it had never before when I venture out into the streets of the city.” He finished, letting out a sigh and looking down at the ground unable to meet Sagax’s gaze.

“Gods, Tsleeixth, after something like that I don’t think it’s too odd for you to feel that way.” It was hard for Sagax to imagine being in Tsleeixth’s shoes. Surrounded by strangers on all sides, eyes full of hate and their words coated in vitriol, ready to kill just for the simple fact that you were different. Because you committed the crime of not being them. Even harder to envision was being one of those people. Being consumed with such hatred that it overtook him entirely, pushing him to hurt someone that had done absolutely nothing at all to twisted Sagax’s stomach into a knot.

“I’m not going to say you’re wrong for looking out for yourself, Tsleeixth, because you’re absolutely right after what happened. All I’m advising is that you don’t let it pull wool over your eyes.” After a second’s thought, Sagax swiftly added to his advice, “...Also, it’s absolutely not pathetic that you’re a bit scared. Fear is a natural instinct, Tsleeixth. It warns us against things that might hurt us. It’s just important that...we don’t let it rule us.” There were those words again, about not being ruled by fear. They rang in his head every day, as if he were subconsciously repeating a sacred mantra.

“It...might sound a bit silly and ineffective, but might I suggest prayer, friend? I was just at the chapel in Castle Dour, praying to Mother Mara. It always makes me feel better. Perhaps pray to Stendarr, as well? His influence may just keep you from harm.”

Just entering the warehouse was Keegan Vasque, with a bag in hand and a smile hidden behind his blank features. He had just quit as an entertainer in the Winking Skeever and given the owner a piece of his mind. No longer would he be juggling big balls under the alias “The Shifty Banana”, and now, he was back to to his slightly less shitty old job.

With the slightly less shitty old job came the slightly less shitty co-workers and customers. For all that he did not like about the two individuals standing in the warehouse ahead of him, Keegan preferred them over the rowdy patrons of the Winking Skeever (whom often threw mead on him and asked him to “juggle their balls”) every single day. He had overheard some of their conversations on the way in, and like they were about to do, he was just at the castle chapel. He wanted to pray to Auriel there, but the response from the Nordic priests were frowns and “we don’t do that”. Normally, and more logically, he would have known the Nords’ merphobia. Today though, having feeling the best (and somewhat delirious, due to spiking his tea with mead) he had in months, Keegan thought the chapel was closed.

“I was just at the chapel,” Keegan jumped in, “and I’m afraid they do not offer services today.”

“Oh...I see, thank you Keegan.” Responded Tsleeixth. He wasn’t sure why, but the fact that the chapel in Castle Dour was closed hit him harder than it should have; his people didn’t had never shared the faith that the Imperials held, and yet the thought of prayer seemed strangely comforting to the Argonian’s mind “Maybe we can find a chapel once we arrive in High Rock? It will take a while, but better late than never, no?” He said to Sagax before his mind briefly stopped as it finally dawned on him who had just delivered the news of the chapel not offering services today. “Keegan?” The Argonian said the name, slightly dumbfounded. He was sure that he had heard that the Altmer had left the company shortly before the whole mess in Dawnstar had forced them to leave the city “I thought you had left the company, no? How come you’ve decided to join us again?” Asked the Argonian, puzzled by this turn of events. He was glad that Keegan had returned to the fold, but was still confused as to why he had decided to return.

“I, I,” Keegan began stuttering involuntarily, the sudden response from a question he did not answer. He wouldn’t tell them the truth; Keegan’s pride ensured he did not divulge such an embarrassing experience. “I have nothing for you to worry about.”

“Yes, please do tell, Keegan. It’s been a while, how’ve you been getting along?” he didn’t know the Altmer all that well, but Sagax saw no harm in being friendly. “Also...I don’t believe chapels just...close. Are you sure you didn’t get, well, gypped? Honestly, I think they were lying to you.” He honestly had never heard of such a thing before. A chapel? Closing like some common grocer? Sagax had the sneaking feeling that perhaps Keegan’s beliefs didn’t exactly match that of those running the place, so in truth, he was simply scorned.

“Really, I’m pretty surprised you’re back. You seemed none-too chuffed about things when you left. Surely, things couldn’t have been worse over here?”

“Fine, Sagax, if you insist.” Keegan resigned with a sigh. He briefly rolled his eyes at the nosiness of this Imperial kid, then decided that he could spared them the details without necessarily lying. “‘Tis but a break and a detour. Well, uh, Ariane Fontaine convinced me to return; I wanted to go to High Rock.”

Realizing how weak his reply was, Keegan decided to share a bit more of what they could all agree on. “Dawnstar was, how would you say it? Coarse, rough, and the hostility gets everywhere. I heard even Skald himself was killed. Was it really that, execrable?”

“And, gypped?” Keegan rolled over the unfamiliar slang on his tongue; it tasted like sewage. “I’m sure they-” The realization of what Sagax implied became somewhat clear. If he wouldn’t be admitted, then there’s very little chance that Tsleeixth would be as well.

“There must be some problem with the chapel,” suggested Keegan, “but I did hear the company has hired its own chaplain. Perhaps you may seek her service?”

“Bah, there’s no need ‘s no need to mince words about Dawnstar, the place was a dump, I doubt you’ll find many people in the company with fond memories of the place.” Tsleeixth spoke, surprised at the bitterness in his words “But, yes, things got considerably worse shortly after you left.”

“Seeking the chaplain that Ashav hired sounds like a good idea.” He added shortly after that, eager to shift the topic away from Dawnstar “Truth be told I have no desire to venture into Solitude again, unless absolutely necessary, and, well, I think it’d be best to talk with someone who knows what actually happened in Dawnstar, and not whatever it is that the newspapers are saying.” He said, nodding to himself after thinking over in silence for a few seconds “Yes, I think I will do that, thank you for your suggestion Keegan. And thank you for listening in as well Sagax, it did me good to get this out of my chest.”

“What kind of friend what I be if I didn’t listen to the troubles of my comrades? I’m always available for a chat.”

Catching a glimpse of Piper out of the corner of his eye, Sagax got back to his feet. She was carrying two large and, presumably, heavy boxes, and looked like she needed a bit of assistance. Giving a short salute, the Imperial bid farewell to Tsleeixth and Keegan. “It was good to catch up with you both; hopefully next time won’t be so far off! Gotta scoot now, though. Duty calls!”

“Very well, see you on the ship.” Keegan waved goodbye, wondering what acts of stupidity will he see Sagax perform on the ship. With that kind of enthusiasm, probably the really stupid kind.

“You're welcome,” Keegan acknowledged Tsleeixth, “and hopefully the situation will improve for us; it's surely hard to get any worse than Dawnstar.” The Altmer sounded with optimism, partially from genuine hope, and partially to convince himself that returning to this mercenary company was a smart choice.

Jogging off to meet with his sister, Sagax lifted one of the boxes out of Piper’s arms and began walking alongside her. Their conversation couldn’t be clearly heard, but Sagax nodded towards his fellow mercenaries and spoke with a grin. Looking over at the Altmer and Argonian, Piper’s raised eyebrow began to furrow when she met Keegan’s gaze, but turned into a glare as she locked eyes with Tsleeixth. Snapping her head back to her brother, the two kept on walking, now seemingly arguing about something.

The team regrouped in an orderly fashion, forming a perimeter around the science team as it was evacuated in the first of the two shuttles that were sent out for evac. A pair of members of Team 2 stayed with the science team as an escort and the rest of Fireteam Echo bordered the next shuttle, the Kett threat neutralized over the course of the skirmish, their bodies left out in the dirt. The science team had enough time to extract the data they had been trying to collect or at least anything that was present in the room they had been sealed in, and there was a sense of relief on the short flight back to Prodromos; none of them had expected to survive once the Kett arrived. In their eyes, APEX has proven to be their angels and a proof that the Initiative would do anything to protect their own. Echo came back to Prodromos as heroes, and the team was given the rest of the day off, with a few of the team having to seek medical treatment or equipment repairs to equipment. For Tazen and Sabinus, most of their night was spent writing after-action reports and evaluating members of the team.

The next two weeks went by fairly normally, patrols and training drills were the order of the day, and while Echo kept close to Prodromos in case they got called out for another mission, it was usually another team that was called out for minor Kett incursions, but nothing quite as dramatic as the hostage rescue. After the two weeks, the duty roster changed up, and Fireteam Echo was lined up for a return trip to the Nexus for a short shore leave and a new assignment for the team. While the situation on Eos was somewhat stable, there were other regions in the Heleus Cluster that were still hotspots for enemy activity. APEX only had so many personnel and shuttles at their disposal, so deployments could see teams sent across the cluster at a moment’s notice based on necessity. And so, after a somewhat exciting formation of the newest Fireteam, Echo was boarding the next Kodiak shuttle out of Prodromos for the long flight home back to the Nexus.

The Nexus as it stood now with the resources opened up by Hyperion’s docking brought new life to the station. Noticeable only by those who had been awake before the arrival of the Human Pathfinder. More noticeably was the Angara ambassadors beginning to pop up on the Nexus as first contact was established. Gossip and word of mouth spread like wildfire, faster than Nexus News could follow up with legitimately sourced news. Any of these hotspots for gossip information were on the docks, the newly formed bar Vortex Lounge and common areas like Cultural Exchange center. Most recently the hottest bit of gossip was the Initiative’s First Murderer case and trial.

Returning back to recycled air and temperature controlled Nexus was a relief to some. Growing used to the arid air of Eos, or growing to resent the harsh conditions.

Being back to the hub it opened up opportunities for APEX teams to go shopping in the marketplace, catch up with family status whether they were awake or in queue for thawing out. The Hydroponic Gardens saw an increase of security, vocally distraught colonists were beginning to organize there. Many more were, understandably, upset the stasis queue hadn’t sped up with the settling of Prodromos.

APEX personnel had temporary residential blocks set aside for their shoreleave, a place to sleep and have a little privacy. Whatever residence they held before has since changed hands with the shuffling of colonists, the footlocker of their belongings being shipped to Prodromos. Armour and weaponry was checked in at the Militia headquarters.

How they decided to spend shore leave, the Nexus was open to them.

For the commanders of Fireteam Echo, they weren’t free quite yet and after dismissing the team found themselves down in militia headquarters, sitting in a spartan office across a table from the militia and APEX commander Tiran Kandros. The turian had once been Sloan Kelly’s right-hand man, and since her defection to the Exiles, he had been the one to shore up the lapse in leadership and proven to be an effective and reasonable man for the position. There wasn’t many aboard the Nexus who didn’t approve of his appointment.

The commander’s eyes were dancing across a datapad, his thumb occasionally manipulating one of the controls at the bottom of the device. “I feel a congratulations are in order. First mission with a team you had not had time to train or prepare for combat and comprised of several individuals who had only recently been revived from cryogenics and you end up getting send for an emergency rescue operation without any time for preparation or intel. Aside from a few minor casualties that only required minor medical attention, your team performed admirably. Anything you’d like to add to the report?”

Sabinus shook his head. “Nothing on record. The team’s comprised of individuals who come from different backgrounds and doctrines, nothing standardized for the vast majority of them. This lead to an uneven application of force and I feel a lot of wasted potential. Team One hit the ground hard and engaged the Kett largely as individuals, and I feel communication could be improved. That said, everyone followed orders, and our Angaran Liaison seems pleased with the posting and our methods of eliminating the Kett. I feel that most of our shortcomings can be mitigated through training and familiarity, which should come more naturally now we have all fought together. The Kett were disorganized and seemed like they weren’t expecting resistance or fast response to their provocations, I think we got lucky in that regard. An organized resistance with entrenched hostiles and there definitely would have been more casualties on our end.”

Kandros nodded, looking over to the salarian of the duo. “How about Team Two, Tazen? How would you describe your infiltration team’s performance?”

“Hmmm, how I would describe Team Two’s performance sir?” Asked the Salarian, deliberately echoing Kandros’ question. “From a military standpoint I can say nothing but good things, the team worked well together and we managed to accomplish the mission. That might have been due to the fact that Noratus, Volintis, and Matthews were in the same merc outfit, but I can attest that Noratus seems to adapt quickly enough to working with strangers, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Matthews and Volintis possess the same kind of ability.” Said Tazen, tenting his fingers, before letting out a sigh “However, there are other aspects that worry me.”
He debated for a split second as to whether or not to mention Noratus’ change in attitude when the topic that the Exiles might have supplied the Kett with information about the Initiative. In the end he decided against bringing that topic up. “If her Exile sympathies cause us any problems, well, I’ll bring it up with Sabinius before mentioning it to Kandros. I’m sure this can be solved before the issue reaches that point however-” He thought before the sound of someone clearing their throat brought him out of his reverie.

“Something’s the matter Tazen? You’ve been silent for a while.” Spoke Kandros, the one who had cleared his throat to bring the Salarian infiltrator out of his deep thoughts.

“No, nothing’s the matter sir.” Quickly added Tazen. “It’s just that I was gathering my words on what to say next.” He said, rubbing his forehead slightly as he prepared to breach the next topic. “My worry with team two is that their personalities are too clashing. T’vessi acted insubordinately the moment she was informed that she’d join APEX, though luckily she seems to know to keep her mouth shut when either Sabinius or I are talking. But still, I worry that nonetheless she’s a barrel of gunpowder ready to explode.” Said the Salarian, pausing for a brief second of air before continuing “I say this because I know for a fact that, mid-mission, she got into some sort of altercate with either Matthews or Volintis while me and Noratus scouted ahead.” He said, letting out a sigh. “That’d be all I have to say. Military speaking, they work perfectly. But socially speaking, I’m afraid that there might be multiple fractures that might lead to inconveniences, such as a deteriorating squad morale or even infights among the squad. I am speculating, but I can’t help but shake that feeling.” He said, exhaling out a brief sigh as he stopped his tirade and waited for either Kandros or Sabinius to speak.

It was Kandros who spoke first. “You’re not the first Fireteam to have issues with unit cohesion, you won’t be the last. APEX, by its very nature, is a reactionary outfit that was assembled in haste with whatever individuals had combat experience and no technical skills we could afford to lose. Unfortunately, unlike any of our home militaries back in the Milky Way, we don’t have the luxury of the resources of proper recruitment and training channels that would mitigate the issues you’ve described. A lot of the pressure is on the Fireteam leaders because you have to lead and train these people without much in the way of support, and hopefully as we establish more outposts and bring more specialists out of cryo, we can start to standardize into a more effective fighting force. That being said, fine work, gentlemen. Be sure to tell your team that they do an excellent job.” He concluded, setting down the datapad.

The militia commander stood up from his seat, signalling for Sabinus and Tazen to do the same. “Don’t worry about Eos, Fireteams Bravo and India are being deployed in your absence. Bravo’s one of our more veteran outfits, and India are just as new as your team. For you, however, Echo’s being reassigned to Voeld largely on account of your team being one of the few who have an Angaran in the ranks and there’s some goodwill operations we need to start looking after on that chunk of ice. I’m sorry it’s not a tropical paradise, but we all have to do our part. Delta’s run into some issues there and are down a few men, so the situation is far more pressing than back on Eos at the moment. Take three days, logistics will have your team’s equipment prepared for your mission. Dismissed.”

Both team leaders left the small office and found themselves out in the heart of the operations center once more. Directly across from them was the detention center, communications to the right, and the Pathfinder headquarters where Tann had made his little lair were to the left. Sabinus hoped to never have to go there, he despised the salarian who was the de facto leader of the entire Andromeda Initiative. The uprising and the krogan departing were exclusively Tann and Addison’s fault, as far as he was concerned.

“Did I ever mention how much I hate the cold?” Sabinus asked, not enjoying the prospect of going to a freezing world that was entirely encased in ice. The Kett could have it, for as much as he cared. He knew that it was a major settlement for the Angarans and a huge strategic world, but he allowed himself a moment of selfishness.

“So, shore leave. What are you going to do?”

“You hadn’t, but I’ll keep it in mind next time. Should I ask the guys in charge of resources an extra sweater or two so you don’t freeze in Voeld?” Joked the Salarian, letting out a short chuckle. However, the next question that Sabinius made caught him unprepared. “Uhhh, read?” He offered somewhat half-heartedly, scratching the back of his neck slightly “Truth be told, I hadn’t really thought of something.” He admitted after a few seconds, chuckling somewhat nervously “It’s embarrassing really, this sort of stuff always winds up happening to me. So, like I said before, I’ll probably waste my time on a book or something, maybe exercise a little.” Mused the Salarian before he shook his head, turning to look at Sabinus “So, what will you do during shore leave?” He asked to the Turian, waiting for his response.

“Better make that a suit of armour over my suit of armour, and I’ll have Tanya retrofit 4 heating units in each of them. I want to be the first person to die of heat stroke on Voeld.” Sabinus replied with a toothy grin. “You should get out, socialize a bit. We’re hundreds of thousands of lightyears from home and everything we have left in our lives are the people on the Nexus and the singular outpost we’ve established. Go to the Vortex Lounge, get people to buy you a few drinks in exchange for the harrowing tales of triumph over the Kett. Me? I’ve barely had time off since getting out of cryo, I’d like to take Tanya out… somewhere. Maybe we’ll throw trash at the Scourge, or she can teach me how to paint badly. I’d like to catch the squad outside of official capacity, get to know them as people and not dossiers with guns.”

Tazen laughed out loud at Sabinius’ joke, a grin spreading on his face “Careful there, or you might end up melting through the ice and falling into Voeld’s ocean.” Retorted the Salarian, nodding slightly when Sabinius told him he should get out a bit. “Yeah, you are right. My whole life’s been defined by the military, be it entering or spending most of my free time trying to find out something that’d get me an advantage in getting into STG, it's about time for me to focus on something else. And, hey, wasn’t that the reason why we came to Andromeda? A chance at something new, to change the status quo.” He said with a wistful smile before he shook his head. “Ah, but we should probably get going instead of waxing sentimentals, no?”

The turian slapped his companion in the back. “That’s the spirit. Come on, let’s dump our armour and forget that we’re about to freeze to death by the end of the week. First drink’s on me.”
@Fetzen Thanks man, I don't think Nicademus would go so far as to physically threaten Aeryn, he might be tempted to and might make a stupid move like partially drawing his sword out again but he probably would stop himself, say, midway through the bridge above the ditch.

@Stormflyx Hahaha, the response from Nicademus would be not good at all. Aeryn mentioned human slaves, and how she tried to free 'em and how she was betrayed by one, and that carries for Nicademus a whole lotta baggage. The fact that it involves Dorcha makes the situation even worse (in general Dorcha and human slavery are the two things that'd make Nicademus loose his cool).

So, will probably start working on a post and wait to see if anyone is against me posting a second time. If not, I'll, well, post again.

Ohhh boy, Aeryn definitively hit a nerve with her own little diatribe. I kinda wanna post again since Nicademus wouldn't take that quietly.
@The Fated Fallen Yeah, it's fine to go on the assumption that Nicademus would give his name to the party, don't worry about it. Glad you liked the post!
@Gardevoiran Thanks for the kind words, glad to hear I'm doing well in getting Nicademus into the RP proper. As to what will happen in regards to Nicademus joining the party, I'm sure we'll see what happens about that soon!

And I might just take into account what you said about Ursaren and have Nicademus send him a 3 person escort, just to be sure
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