There are some days when everything seems to blend together. Points where you sit there and think: what the hell am I doing? And then the pain comes, that ache that you get that wraps around your forehead because you thought too hard about things. Sometimes it’s just easier to not think about it at all.
Here I was, lying on my back wondering just what the hell I had gotten myself into. The cold metal beneath me held no warmth and that kept the pain of my back at bay. I knew I was going to be paying for this later. Maybe the doc could help but then I would have to talk to her, speak of my problems, ones I had no clue how to describe or even respond to. It really sucked when your past was a huge effin wall of fog.
This rounds right on back to the reason I was laid flat on the deck in the bay. A tall woman with dark hair stood over me with a look that could peel paint off the side of a barn at a quarter of a mile. The pain finally ebbed and I pushed myself up with a grimace at the twinge of warning, that and the numbness that ran down my leg.
With a groan I got up on one knee and out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and lifted up my arm, blocking the leg that kicked out at me. My arm then wrapped around that leg and... oh shit. The other leg that belonged to the woman rose up. I switched my other hand up to the thigh and ducked while pushing away and down. The woman landed on her back just as I had a minute ago. I stood up then, almost falling back on my ass as I eyed her warily.
The woman laid there a moment to let the ringing of her head fade before she lifted her head up and arched a brow. “Really? Keeping that one away from me?” She grinned.
I smirked at her. “A magician never reveals their secrets. The way is to deflect and set off balance. When you kicked with your free leg, you gave me a chance to deflect that with your own momentum. Very few can get away with that,” I said and tisked.
She gave me a sheepish look. “Yea, sorry about that.”
I offered my hand to her and helped her to her feet with a chuckle. “Most martial arts are about perfect body and perfect mind. Even after all this time its second nature to me,” I said and trailed off with a frown. The question was, where did I learn it?
“One of my old instructors in basic was like you. Never did get the hang of it. He said I was always in a rush and got too excited.” She gave a unrepentant shrug.
“He was right. Martial Arts are like dancing. Did he ever show you the basic katas?” I tilted my head slightly towards her, waiting on an answer.
“Kata? Noooo, I don’t think I even know what that means. I mean, sheesh, give me a bar brawl any time and I will wipe the floor with anyone but you, you would stand there, drop me to my ass and then give me a disappointed look even if it was a bar brawl.” She walked over to the table and leaned against it, crossing her arms and looking down at her standard military boots.
“Well maybe that is the problem. I spend a few hours a day with the katas, normally in the mornings. If you want, join me and I will show you the basic ones. That might help you in the long run understand that sometimes you have to wait for the first move then react accordingly,” I said in teasing tone to her and she laughed.
“Yea that’s me, Ashley “Rushing” Williams,” she said dryly and I laughed.
“Ah grasshopper, learn patience and wisdom at my feet,” I responded with and then snorted in amusement at her look of confusion.
“Shit, I got just enough time to get washed up and on duty. I’ll talk to you later Stef,” Ashley said and hurried off towards the slowest elevator in the universe.
I just chuckled again and then sighed; rubbing my back then limped over to the tool bench and sat down on the box next to it. The numbness took a bit to fade away and I made my way to the lift, heading up to the medical deck to just get it over with. I really couldn’t live with this and still do my ‘job’ so to say. So I stiffly entered the med bay and nodded to the elder woman sitting there.
“And to what do I owe for this visit,” she said regally, her voice barely hinting at upper-crust British society vernacular.
I made a face and then eased myself down on one of the beds. “Well, a few years ago I had a fall as far as I can guess and I assume that I cracked something considering my leg goes numb from time to time. Either spine or head injury would be my best guess. And no, I cannot even tell you how it happened because I lost whatever memories I had before then.” I gave a shrug, frowning a bit.
“Well then, the best way to get an idea is to do a full scan and see what I can find. That bed will do. Just lay down and I will get things started.” She lifted her arm up and the omni-tool came to life. After she tapped out a few things on it she leaned back against her desk. “Just lay still while the scanner does its thing.”
I laid there for ten minutes while the damned thing scanned me, rolling over to my stomach when she told me too. When it was done I turned my head to see her frowning at her omni-tool a moment then she walked over, waving me to not move.
“Hmm, lay still a moment more if you would.” She then ran her fingers down my spine and lightly pushed before snatching her hand away when I let go with a strangled gasp at the sudden pain and the lack of feeling in my legs.
“Shit, that did something besides pain. Legs are tingly an-,” I really never got a chance to say anything else because the whole world went black much to my relief considering the pain her touch brought me.
So lets go back to the beginning, long before I met Ashley and the rest of the crew. Like I told the dock, everything before my ‘accident’ was a grey blur of fog to me. All I really know is waking up in pain to see a blurry blue figure leaning over me and I was too weak to move. That is how I met Liara T’Soni.
She was doing research out in a remote area and apparently I decided to break my back or head there a few days earlier. She found me at the bottom of that rock slide lying next to an artifact that had caught her eye half buried in the scree. Liara did the best she could for me that day, fed me and made sure I had enough to drink. I could tell she wasn’t much of a talker but then again, at that moment neither was I.
Consider it a boon that the area we were in had no predators. I slept most of the time and she wandered out to see if there were any more artifacts, returning to the one at the camp when she found nothing. When I was awake I learned her name, that she was a student with some school back on her home world and that she was studying Prothean ruins.
We were both relived when the feeling came back to my legs. Me because that meant that I was not going to be wheeling myself around for the rest of my life and Liara wouldn’t have to figure out how to get me back to the home camp in the next few days. Considering she was so animated with talking about the Protheans I learned more than anyone else could have expected about the Protheans from her.
We got back to the base camp and Liara explained that I had gotten lost and injured. This area wasn’t a popular spot for travelers to hike and view the ruin so that bit of puzzle left the both of us confused. And since my memory was all but gone of my past I had no clue what I was doing there in the first place. All in all Chasca was still beautiful. Well at least the night sky was, diamonds sparkling in the sky. I learned later than was due to some ancient ‘art’ ringing the world.
The group was leaving the next day and Liara insisted that I needed to go with them. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that at first. As far as I knew I had never really talked to any of the other races but then again I had no memory of that either. I was glad for the sonic shower though I did discover a tattoo on my upper arm of a three pronged trident.
I sighed as I sat gingerly down, my back still hurt but it was a dull throb at least, something I could ignore. Liara glanced over at my sigh and then back to her paper. I rubbed my back as I glanced over at her. She wasn’t actually doing anything but staring at the paper on her omni tool.
The Asari was startled out of her thoughts when I spoke and her head jerked up. “Yes?” There was hesitancy in her voice that spoke more of who she was than anything.
“You seemed distracted, more so than your thesis can explain. Is there something wrong?” The blue skinned alien lowered her gaze away from me back to her omni tool and then shut it down.
“I am sorry if I offended you,” she said and clasped her hands in her lap. Everything spoke of shyness to me.
“What? No, you haven’t offended me at all. I am just concerned that you are not giving more attention to your favorite subject,” I said with a slight teasing tone.
That made her eyes widen a moment before she realized I was teasing her. “Oh…,” she trailed off and glanced to the left in thought. “Sorry, your situation distracted me. I really have not had a lot of contact with your race. I is hard for me to understand Humans sometimes.”
I laughed at that. “Darlin’ it’s hard for me to understand my own race sometimes. Do not worry about that, I am hard to offend.” Then I snapped my mouth shut. That had come out without me thinking about it and Liara could see my frown.
“I think your memory loss is not a total loss. Perhaps it’s blocked? Some of your idioms… puzzle me. Is not saying ‘darlin’ a term of endearment between lovers?” Now there was a look of interest on her face, she was back in learning mode as I started to call it.
“Not exactly. It can be between lovers and also between friends. I-,” I closed my mouth and furrowed my brows, giving her a furtive glance before straightening up. “I hope I can be called your friend eventually Liara.” There, she at least knew my reasoning, perhaps she understood that my use of that term was more because I already saw her as a friend.
“Oh.” She sat there and looked down at her hands, trying to understand the motives of this human woman talking to her. It took her a few minutes before she blinked and glanced up in surprise. “Oh, I see. You think of me as your friend already?”
I laughed. “Yes, yes I do. You took an injured stranger, helped them, fed them and talked to them when they had barely more of a clue than what their name was. You do realize that most people, most races, would ignore that and shrug it off, right?”
Liara shrugged. “I would not know that. I… I tend to pay a lot of attention to my classes and class work.”
I nodded. “Liara, not everything can be learned in a book,” I told her and gave her a lopsided smile.
She opened her mouth a moment then shut it and eyed me. “I am beginning to see that. I have never had a friend before,” She mused, glancing at me. “It is… unique and certainly not something I can read about.”
I grinned at her. “Nope, not at all. So what do you plan on doing when your group leaves here?”
A troubled look crossed her face briefly. “I need to finish my thesis. This is the last class I need for my doctorate.”
I could tell there was more that she was not saying but I was not going to push her. “And me. I do not know what I will do,” I said softly, a frown crossing my face now.
We sat there for a minute before Liara spoke again, hesitating a moment. “You- I- Oh Goddess!” She threw her hands up in the air a moment. “What I am trying to say is you could travel with me back to Thessia. Maybe you can find work or figure out who you are.”
That made sense to me and I nodded thoughtfully. “Better than being left here. There’s not a lot around here for me. I hate having to depend on you because it’s not right considering all you’ve done for me so far but… thank you. I will accept your offer.”
She looked relived at what I said and smiled for the first time I could recall. “Then it is settled. I have a small apartment off the campus. You are more than welcome to the couch till you are back on your feet and feel you are able to stand on your own.”
I nodded. “I really appreciate this. I know it’s a lot for you considering you are offering a virtual stranger a place. I know trust is not an easy thing to give.” The gods know I have issues trusting. Like that other Asari, she kept on giving Liara furtive glances all the time. Once was coincidence, twice happen stance and three times conspiracy in my mind.
The next day I helped her pack up the camp. They took down the prefab buildings quickly and Liara told me how to pack them away in the crates. While it was hard work, it was easy for me. This gave me a chance to watch everyone. The other Asari, whose name I learned was Telitha, continued to give Liara furtive glances. I still did not know what to make of it.
“Here,” Liara said, handing me a bottle of water which I uncapped and took a deep drink from.
“What’s Telitha’s story,” I asked the maiden Asari without nodding towards the other Asari.
“Her? I- I do not know,” she said, startled at that. “Why?”
“She keeps on looking at you. If I were to surmise, she might be attracted to you,” I teased and Liara blushed.
“No. No… I-,” she trailed off and ducked her head down. I could see I embarrassed her.
“Sorry Liara, I didn’t mean to upset you.” And with that I sighed. Yea, throttle back the teasing till she’s more use to it.
Her head rose up and she gave me a doubtful look a moment. “You did not upset me. Embarrassed yes, upset no.”
I nodded slowly and then finished my water. “Well let me get this crate over with the rest. Still got the last prefab to take down. I think another hour should see everything packed.” I glanced over as a shuttle landed near the rest of the crates and some of the students started to put the crates in. “Maybe…,” I couldn’t tell. This research dig brought almost too much with them. “Honestly, this is the worst way to learn how to contend with isolation on digs and research. Prefabs?” I shook my head and twisted the cap on the bottle. “Thanks for the water.”
“Of course Alex,” she said with a smile and took the bottle.
I was right; it took a total of 4 hours more before everything was loaded back on the ship but grateful for the climate that wasn’t too hot or too cool. Liara showed me where the showers were and I cleaned up with real water and soap. If you’ve gone long days without a shower then you know the feeling of grunge that gets overwhelming enough to be glad to scrub raw almost.
The trip back to the university was only a few days. Liara gave me a few books to read considering I lacked an omni tool. That was one of my first purchases once I had some credits. At least till I found an odd bulge in the pants I wore. I puzzled over it a bit before I finally figured out how to get at the item. It turned out to be a credit chit with my name on it. It wasn’t much but there was enough to get some clothing, a basic omni tool and maybe some other things.
“Well, I might not have too many issues,” I said as I entered the small cabin that I shared with Liara, holding up the credit chit.
“Oh? Where did that come from?” She glanced up from her thesis, setting it down to the side to pay attention to me.
“Hidden away in the band of my pants apparently. Whatever foresight I had to putting it there I can only thank my luck for needing it and finding it before hand.” I shrugged and pocketed the chit. “Gives me a chance to get some needed things when we arrive.”
Liara nodded slowly. “I can show you where… when we get back,” she was a bit distracted and glanced back at her report.
“Let me get out of your way then. I know you are really working hard on your thesis,” I said, understanding just how much rode on her report for her.
Without another word I backed out of the cabin and settled in the small lounge, watching the stars pass with a glass of water in hand. A few of the students came up to me and started to talk. I never had issues with responding just with telling them anything beyond the day Liara found me. There was a Salarian, Kirrahe, who spent the most time discussing with me things he found and his curiosity over my appearance.
I have to say, talking with a Salarian was interesting. He shoot questions out faster than a six-shooter in the hands of a gunslinger and it took me a few minutes to catch up. The more I talked with him the easier it was and he talked about himself. I learned about out Salarians in general from him and we naturally became friends. In fact the only one who wasn’t friendly was Telitha.
“So you are saying that a full name includes the location you are born, your clan and your given name?” I arched a brow up at that. That had to make their names long enough to be a mouthful.
He nodded. “Oh yes. It brings us great pride to... no not pride, never pride but purpose, yes purpose! To bring a sense of amity I ask that I be called by my given name Kirrahe.”
I leaned back and snorted in amusement. “I see. You Salarian are so hyper than you can say your full names in the same time it takes me to say my name.”
Kirrahe laughed. “Very true, but we live brief lives, less than your own race does.” He looked down. “One day I would love to figure out how to extend our race’s lives.”
“Is that why you are here digging around the old bones and dirt?” I gave him a curious look, wanting to see his reasons.
“Yes. Understanding the past lets me make connections to the future. Knowing how other races evolved helps me understand how ours differs.” He took a sip of his drink and turned to watch the stars out the port side window. “Out there is our future.”
I pondered his words a moment then glanced at him. “Well, be aware that if you wish to reach that goal some of your gifts might be lost in the process. Picking and choosing what you want to try and keep is something to think on. Genetics is also one of those grey areas where everyone looks askance at it.”
“You are right. Those with lesser morals cause more damage. And some started out with better morals. I hope to never be to that point.” He nodded quickly a few times.
I smiled at him. “Listen, your goal is a worthy one. Learning is a start. Understanding the pitfalls is the best thing you can do.”
He glanced at his omni tool and frowned. “Well I would love to talk more but I am scheduled to work in engineering shortly.” He stood up and tossed his glass into the recycler. “Have a good evening.”
I just nodded and gave him a salute before turning to watch the stars. This was the best place to think on the ship. If I understood correctly we had another half a day to the Relay and then a half day of travel back to Hyetiana. I glanced down at the forgotten book then back up to the stars and let my mind drift.