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Shrine of Lies

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“What in the void have you done?” Keema demanded, charging into his private room at Tartarus. Reyes lifted his eyes to her. She had her hands on her hips, her eyes set intensely on his. Without a doubt, she was pissed.

“I’ve no idea what you’re referring to, Keema,” he said, his words slow and slightly slurred. His head felt heavy. His neck weak. He had no fight left in himself for Keema. Keema scoffed and opened her mouth to speak once more when her attention shifted.

“Who are these? ” Keema asked, disgust in her voice as her large eyes moved from Reyes to the three women seated on either side of him, all in various states of undress.

“Hmm?” He asked, uninterested. 

These! ” She repeated with more irritation, pointing at the women. “ Those? Who are they??”

“Oh, they are..” He looked at the women, their names slipping his mind. Did he know their names? Had he even asked? He couldn’t be sure.

“¿ Como te llamas? ” He asked the redhead on his right. She sat with her bare legs slung over his. Her hand reached up, presumably to push his hair out of his face. It was an unruly mess, had been for the last week, but that didn’t mean she could touch it. His hand shot out and grabbed her wrist, stopping her.

“No,” he said, simply, firmly. As though talking to a disobedient puppy. “Now, tell my friend your name,” he said, releasing her wrist. She frowned, returning her hands to her lap.

“I’m-”

“No.” Keema interrupted her. “I do not care what your name is.” She looked at three women once more. “I want you gone. Now. All of you.”

But the women didn’t move, instead, they continued to lull about, petting and cooing at him. The Asari reaching over to massage his neck, while the redhead went to refill his drink. Keema looked at them, eyes wide with disbelief.

“Reyes, if you do not tell your playthings to leave immediately, so help me- I’ll take that.” Keema said, swiping the drink from the Asari before she had a chance to hand it to Reyes. “You’ve had more than enough of this,” Keema said to him. She set it back down on the counter away from him.

Reyes narrowed his eyes at Keema then moved to grab a cigar, one of the three women immediately lighting it with a lighter.

“No,” Keema said, plucking it from his hand. She took a drag before snuffing it out. “This room stinks of alcohol and cigars, and whatever other substances you’ve stuffed into your body.” She looked at him pointedly. “ What are you doing, Reyes? What is going on?”

“I found women to service me, Keema. Just as you had suggested,” he said, lifting his head to her, it lulled back. Everything about him felt heavier. Full of lead, like he was made of rusted metal instead of flesh and blood.

Keema shook her head, her eyes trained on his. “This is not how I meant it and you know it.” Her eyes scanned the room. They roamed over the cornucopia of empty alcohol bottles, of varying sizes and brands, the clothing the women had left lying about in small piles about the room, his disheveled, intoxicated state. “Is this about her?”

Reyes didn’t answer. He rested his head on the seat behind him. A headache threatening to overtake him. Keema tensed her jaw and nodded to herself as though his silence was all the answer she needed.

“Ask these tarts to leave or am I going to talk about her in front of them all.” Reyes hauled his eyes back up to Keema. Torn between telling her to get the hell out, and acquiescing, he settled for the latter. Keema could be a dangerous adversary when angered badly enough. He sighed. Respect for their friendship being the only reason he hadn’t lashed out at her.  

“Sweetness,” Reyes called, motioning to one of the girls. She shot her head up and bounded over to him like an over energized bunny. He swiped at his Omni-tool, sending credits from himself to her. “Why don’t you go downstairs with the others and enjoy yourselves?” Their faces lit up like Christmas trees.

“Thank you!” They practically sang in unison before getting to their feet and exiting the room, taking small steps lest they tripped in their ridiculously high heels. They hadn’t even bothered to gather their clothing. Not that it mattered in Tartarus.

Keema’s bulbous eyes bore into him, waiting, only speaking once they were truly alone. Her expression letting him know that he was in for an earful. He sat back, getting comfortable, preparing for the inevitable harangue Keema was about to Unleash upon him. His stomach rolled from the copious amounts of alcohol and drugs he had drained into it. One of many regrets, Keema’s voice began drifting in and out.

“....you disappear for days on end,” she began pacing in front of him. “No communication with me or Kian or .... we have been going mad…. searching for you. ...I called Lola...you were with some unknown women….”

“You what?” He asked, suddenly feeling alert. Unknown women. It felt as though his center of gravity had just shifted. Keema stopped pacing.

“I called her, apparently, right after you had. You left me with absolutely no choice…” Keema’s voice faded out once more. Sounding distant, muffled. He remembered. He had called Lola. Fucking hell. The memory was blurry, but he remembered.  “... While still not alerting our men or our enemies that something was terribly wrong internally. ...You left us vulnerable and weak.” Reyes swayed slightly in his seat. What had he said to her? How much had she seen?  He pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes he shook his head. The details were fuzzy. “... you show back up at Tartarus like nothing happened….drugs and sex…” Lola had hung up on him. Pain. The pained look on her face right before she ended the call. That, he remembered. “..you royally fucked up…”

He held up a hand in an attempt to silence Keema. His head was beginning to pound. He was nauseous, all the substances he ingested were threatening to make their way up and out.

“Are you done?” He asked. His voice even, careful not to betray how ill he felt himself growing.Keema stopped pacing, and narrowed her eyes at him.

“No, Reyes,” she said,  approaching him. “I’m not. I’m nowhere near done.”

He gulped down, hard, attempting to keep the rising bile down, and his wits about him.

“Not only did you ruin the one good thing you had. ..you jeopardized our whole operation!”

Reyes shook his head. That wasn’t entirely true.

“Sloane is out of the question. I made sure of that. Lola may hate me, but she has no choice but to work with me. With us. With The Charlatan. So, when she returns, you handle business with her. I’ll remain out of sight.” It pained him, but it’d be better that way. Or else he’d just find himself flirting with her again, attempting to re-draw her back to himself. “Just let me know when she is back.” He wanted to know she was ok.  Lola must’ve found the tracker he had placed in her Omni-tool because her signal had went dark weeks ago. He had no idea where she was or how she was. The tracker presented jus another reason for her to be pissed with him. A valid one, but still.

“Reyes,” Keema said, her eyes softened. She looked away and back at him, and he immediately knew something was wrong. He felt his heart beat harder in his chest. “Reyes, Lola has been in a medically induced coma for two weeks now.”

“¿ Que? ” He asked. He hadn’t heard her correctly. He couldn’t have heard her correctly. He tried to rise to his feet, to draw nearer to Keema, to hear her clearer, but his feet felt clumsy and large.

The last thing he heard was Keema shriek as he tumbled to the ground. His vision narrowing to blackness.


 

When Reyes awoke it was morning and Kadara’s sun beamed through a large window with a ferocity that felt personal. He squinted at his surroundings, grasping at his pained head. He was in a large overly ornate room, laying in a plush, overly blanketed bed. He was at Keema’s.

Pieces of the night came rushing back to him.

“Lola.”

He threw the covers off himself and climbed out of the high four poster bed, only to be swept up in a wave of intense dizziness and nausea. The room spun violently and his hand shot out to grip the nearest bed poster in a weak effort to steady himself.

“Reyes,” Keema called, sweeping into the room. “He’s awake, Kian,” she called back behind her.

Reyes reached out behind him,  grasping at the bed sheets in an attempt to straighten himself up, but before he had the chance, Keema and Kian were at his side, guiding him back onto the bed.

He shrugged them off him. “Lola. I need to -“

“Not so quickly there, laddie,” Kian said, holding him down. “You had a shitoad of substances in your system, you need time to-“

“I’m fine,” he growled.

“You will be,” Keema said. “But you’re not now.”

“I’m not asking permission,” he said, climbing out of the bed once more only to lose balance. “¡ Malparido! ,” he cursed.

“You can’t even walk, and even if ye could you wouldn’t be able to reach her,” Kian began. “You’ve been banned from The Nexus, Romeo, remember?”

“Keema..” Reyes said, turning to Keema. There were ways, there were always ways.

“We’re working on it. We think we have a solution. We would’ve had one much quicker had we not been using our resources searching for you,” she responded, shooting him a look. He’d never hear the end of it, perhaps he didn’t deserve to.

“Tell me what happened,” he demanded.

“You broke ‘er heart that’s what happened, mate.”

Reyes shot Kian a look.

“We don’t know much more than the public does. The Initiative is working overtime keeping whatever is going on private,” Keema said, perching on a pink ottoman she had stationed near the bed.

“They’re telling the public that she’s takin’ time off,” Kian said.

“The people we have stationed there, say otherwise,” Keema added.

Reyes was glad he had insisted on stationing men on The Nexus. It was paying off in ways he couldn’t have anticipated.

“They’re lying to the public,” he said. Their only Pathfinder being in a coma leaves them vulnerable. That isn’t something you’d want advertised to your enemies.  

“The coma she is in is medically induced, and it’s been two weeks..” He said, repeating what Keema had told him the other day. “Do we know why?” He asked.

Keema and Kian both shook their heads in unison. He felt his frustration growing. What good was paying people what he was paying them if they ended up failing him when he needed information the most.

“Usually a person is placed in a coma because they’re injured in some way, correct?” Keema said, “but that isn’t the case here. One of our men works in the medical station, they were able to get their hands on her medical records, scan them. You should have a copy.”

Kian brought Reyes his Omni-tool.

“She has suffered no major injuries, not so much as a bone is broken,” Keema explained. “We believe the Initiative, Tann, paid off a crooked doctor-”

“You believe they placed her in a coma for their own benefit,” Reyes interjected. Tann, that bulbous eyed, power hungry, little shit.

“We do,” Keema said.

Reyes pulled up the medical report on his Omni-tool.

Mierda. It was convoluted and pedantic. Some of it was legible, most of it was in indecipherable medical jargon, impossible for any of them to understand. He sighed loudly, immediately knowing what they’d have to do next. They had no choice. They’d have to go to Ryota for help.

“Ok, tell me what we know,” Reyes said, closing the report.

“We know she successfully reached the Kett’s flagship, but found the Salarian Ark instead. Rumor has it that she chose to save a group of Krogans over the Salarian Pathfinder.”

 Coño ,” Reyes swore. If that was true, then she acted in direct discordance with the Initiative. They would not be pleased with her.

“The media is claiming that her sympathies for The Krogan species clouded her judgement leading her to make a decision based more off emotion than logic. They are calling for some kind of severe reprimand,” Keema explained, “but the news reporting sound biased. Like The Initiative is trying to paint her in bad light.”

“Keema, give me an Omni-gel shot,” Reyes said. 

Kian and Keema exchanged looks. Keema gave Kian a short nod.

“As you wish,” Kian said, leaving the room to retrieve it.

“Get me on that ship, today.”

“It’s not that easy, Reyes,” Keema responded taking a seat near the bed.

Kian entered with the shot. Reyes took it and immediately stuck his arm with it. He couldn’t remember the last time he used Omni-gel. The serum hit him quick and hard. He passed the empty syringe back to Kian, who left once more to dispose of it.

“You’ll be paying for this later,” Keema said, referring to the syringe. An Omni-gel syringe is only to be used in extreme situations, absolute emergencies. It’s supposed to give the fatally injured a chance to make it to a medical professional. The kickback is intense. He looked around the room for his things. Rising from the bed, he went to retrieve his shirt, his jacket and gun belt.

“What’s not easy?” He asked, “You get me a false ID card, a ship under a false name. We’ve done this before, Keema.”

Keema shook her head. “They’ve changed their system. It’s no longer ID but fingerprinting.”

Contra ,” Reyes cursed, slipping his shirt back on. His muscles ached but not bad enough to slow him down. Kian re-entered the room, posting himself up against the wall.

“So what are my options?” Reyes asked

“Our people were able to find one option, one weakness in their system.”

Bueno. One is all we need,” he said, slipping his gun belt on.

“You’re not going to like it,” Kian said, a mischievous grin forming on his face.


 

Reyes waited until the dead of night to board The Nexus. There was shift change that occurred around 2 a.m. when the lesser experienced, younger Nexus workers began their shifts. They scanned his prints and waved him on without so much as batting an eye at the name that appeared on the screen.

He wasted no time and went straight to the med bay, where Lola was being held. Entering the passcode Keema had provided to him, he was given immediate entry.  The door slid open and sure enough she was alone in a private room. Tann was either over confident or a complete fool to have not posted guards outside of her room. The room itself was dark except for one small light above her bed. A heart monitor beeped endlessly beside her while tubes and wires wound their way around and into her motionless form. Still, she looked serene, even in this environment, even in that state, she looked serene.

Reyes looked around the room one last time before taking a seat on the small stool beside her. She laid there on the hospital bed, unmoving, the slow rise and fall of her chest, the only indication that she was still alive.

“Aye, Lolita,” Reyes sighed. It pained him to see her like this. More so, because it was completely unnecessary.

He placed his hand on hers, it was cold, hard. It felt nothing like the warm, soft skin he had caressed all those times. He noticed there was something shiny under her sleeve, something that caught the room’s small amount of light. Holding her hand, he pushed her sleeve up. Underneath was the bracelet. The one he had won her on her birthday.  She still had it, she still wore it. He smiled to himself, guilt consuming him. He felt his jaw tensing, his leg bouncing, he wasn’t the type to cry. Shedding tears how he grew up meant weakness. It meant being beat down, it meant you lost. Being seen shedding tears was the worst offense of all, he learned early on that anger was the only emotion he was allowed to openly feel. Which made this all the more difficult. There were things he wanted to say to her, things he wished he could properly communicate, but had simply never learned how. Still, he’d try.

“I’m sorry, Lola.” He said, pausing, attempting to gather his thoughts, put words to his emotions. “Hurting you…” He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. This was still difficult. Talking to her, even when she couldn’t hear him. It was still difficult.

“I- Those things I said to you the day you left. The things I said to make you leave…I ... it’s... I just...” He paused, growling to himself. The words, they wouldn’t come to him. He rested his head in his hands, his fingers tangling in his hair. Had he done this more, been honest more, perhaps he wouldn’t be struggling right now.  Gathering his thoughts, he sighed loudly and lifted his head to look at her once more.

 “Lola, they weren’t true. They could never be true.. I’ve done things. Unforgivable things. Things that if you knew about - I was afraid you’d look at me differently. Everybody. Anybody else can think of me as a monster, but you,” he shook his head as though she could see him.  “Not you.  I couldn't handle it if you did. It’d make it all true if you thought it was.” He weaved his fingers through hers. The feeling of holding her hand odd without her grasping him back. 

”You’ll pull through. You’re strong, muñequita. You pull through and you give us another shot. Because …” He sighed, realizing the words were true before they even left his mouth. “ Because you’re the type of woman I could fall for.”  

No. That wasn’t right. He chuckled to himself, catching his own lie.

 “That’s not true either. Estoy enamorada. It is done.” He ran a hand through his hair. She wouldn’t rememberer this, when she woke she’d have no idea that he bared his soul to her, or at least had attempted to. Still saying it, admitting out loud, it was liberating in a way e’d never experienced before.  “I’m sure a part of me knew as much the minute I saw you. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I never did, for anything. But know, I will right this. We will get you out of here.”

He stroked her cool cheek, and moving his face closer, he laid a tender kiss on her forehead.

De ilusión también se vive.

Reyes stood up as he heard the doors of her room sliding open. He was ready for whoever was entering. At least, he had believed he was.

“Who the fuck are you?” Asked a man, entering and stepping into the light. Reyes recognized him immediately.

“Leo?” Reyes asked, unable to keep the shock from his voice. Leo had a deep tan that held the same warmth as Lola’s, his black hair was braided back on top with the sides shaved close to his head, but most telling was his eyes. Two mismatched eyes starred back at Reyes, one grey that matched Lola’s, their father’s, and one black that matched their mother’s. As if that wasn’t prominent enough, centered around Leo’s grey eye was a face tattoo, black. It enclosed his eye, tapering off as half of it strayed toward his ear, the other half strayed down his cheek.

Leo Ryder was awake.

Leo looked at Reyes, his eyes narrowing.

“Do I know you?” He studied Reyes, his eyes roaming Reyes’s face as though the answer was hidden somewhere on it. He was slightly taller than Reyes, thinner, less muscle, but fit. Leo would be able to hold his own in a fist fight.

“You’re awake.” Reyes said, he was itching for a cigar. Leo Ryder was awake and no one knew. Reyes wanted to laugh, Tann was absolutely up to no good. “Did she know? Did Lola, your sister, know?” This was a tremendous. “She was worried about you.”

“I woke up after she was already -“ Leo motioned to Lola on the bed. “- like this,” his face was pained as he looked down at her. Leo cared for his sister. Good, he’d be more likely to accept Reyes’s help.

“You don’t find that odd?” Reyes asked. Something was amiss here.  He wondered if Leo also sensed it.

Before leaving to come to The Nexus, Reyes had personally stopped by Ryota’s clinic. Needless to say, the doctor was not thrilled to see him, but time was of the essence and Reyes didn’t have time for Ryota’s questions or complaints. So, instead of forcing Ryota’s compliance, Reyes tried something different: honesty. He explained to Ryota that the Initiative had Lola in a medically induced coma, that they were hiding it from the public, and that he believed she was in need of help. Ryota was hesitant, but after Reyes provided him with the medical reports, after seeing they were genuine, Ryota acquiesced and explained them to him.

“Odd? That we basically switched places? Yea, that’s fucking -“ Leo stopped and turned his eyes away from his sister back to Reyes. “Who the fuck are you?” He approached Reyes, stood right in front of him. Reyes met Leo’s steady gaze with one of his own. The few times Lola had spoken about her brother, she gave Reyes the impression that Leo was straight laced and stiff. But seeing Leo now, hearing Leo now, he looked and sounded like he stirred up just as much trouble as his sister, if not more. “How do you know my sister?”

Reyes put his hands in his pockets. “It’s ...complicated.”

“Complicated? Can’t be that complicated. You’re here, after visiting hours, in the middle of the night. Sneaking about. Kissing my sister on her head. Yea, I saw that.” Leo’s expression went from serious to smiling. He looked almost maniacal as he took a step back from Reyes and rounded Lola’s bed.  They were staring at each other, each standing on one side of Lola. “You see, my sister,” Leo said, crossing his arms and pointing down at her. “She has a type.”

“Does she now,” Reyes asked, uninterested in the answer.

“You’re it.”

“Am I.”

“Oh yea. The type that can’t visit during normal visiting hours with the rest of her friends and family, either because they’re presence is not wanted by the others. Or. Because they simply couldn’t step foot on this ship without immediately being detained.” His eyes scanned Reyes. “Which are you?”

Reyes didn’t answer.

“You’re both. I can tell.” Leo placed his hands on Lola’s bed and leaned forward a moment, squinting at Reyes before pushing himself back and away, off the bed. He walked to the far wall, retreating to the shadows.

“Wanna know the difference between Lola and me?” Leo asked, his grey catching more light than his black one. “I look like trouble but I know how to stay out of it. Know the rules, and you know exactly where to push-,” he mimed a pushing motion, “- to bend them just enough-” he mimed bending an object, “- to get your way without doing a damn thing wrong. You get me?” After a moment, Leo smiled and nodded at Reyes knowingly. “You get me. Lola’s past boyfriends never understood that. Never understood all the damage that could be done without me actually doing anything at all.”

It was a threat, but Reyes was sure that whatever Leo was capable of, he, himself, was capable of much worse.

 Leo looked at Lola from his spot leaning on the far wall.

“Lola,” Leo shook his head, “She looks like trouble, and she is, in the sense that she never bothers to learn the rules. Just goes around breaking them. Doesn’t even know them, still manages to break them. No regard or respect for authority, rules, protocol. Just goes bopping around space doing whatever she thinks is best. The kicker? She actually cares about people.”

“And you don’t?” Reyes asked, biding his time.

“Hmmm, well, I’m more in the school of thought that the only real innocent are children. Makes my job easier.”

Reyes nodded, not moving from Lola’s side.

“You look like the fuck ‘em and leave ‘em type.”

“Normally,” Reyes said.

“Normally,” Leo chuckled, ruefully. “Wait, let me guess. You had plans to fuck and leave my sister until you got to know her ” he said, using air quotes, “and then all of your plans magically changed. And she became a real flesh and blood person, and not just a piece of ass.”

“Something like that,” Reyes responded.

“SAM?” Leo asked, seemingly speaking to the room itself. “Who is this asshole standing by my sister’s bed?”

“He would be Reyes Vidal. He was exiled during the uprising, and currently is the most prominent smuggler, and exchanger of valuable information, on Kadara,” SAM replied.

Leo raised his eyebrows, and stepped out from the shadows.

“Reyes Vidal. Of course. Liam  told me about you. You’re the fuckboy my sister got herself in trouble for.”  Leo rubbed at his chin, surveying Reyes once more. “Yea, I figured you’d make it here sooner or later. When the first week went by and no one suspicious came around, I thought to myself: this guy either isn’t as good a smuggler as people say he is, or, everyone was right and he never cared for my sister at all.”

“Why not just ask SAM?” Reyes asked, honestly wondering how much about him SAM would reveal if asked.

“Oh, I did. Didn’t I, SAM?”

“Mr. Ryder did indeed inquire about you, Mr.Vidal. Lola has had those memories locked.”

“Imagine that? My twin, keeping things from her twin.”

Mrs. Vidal is not legally required to reveal any information on her husband. According to Article 5.11 section C -“

“Wait. What?” Leo asked, holding his hands up in the air as though SAM could actually see him. Hell, maybe he could.

Nexus law states that a spouse is not under legal obligation  to -“

“No, SAM. Shut up. Stop talking,” Leo spoke to the room, his eyes not straying from Reyes.

Husband?” Leo hissed. “You’re fucking married to my sister? Her crew told me those were just rumors. Rumors that were solely confined to Kadara.”

“To the public, they are just rumors,” Reyes clarified, settling for half truths.

 Leo pinched the bridge of his nose. “Shit. I swear she’s hellbent on fucking herself over.” He settled into the seat on the opposite side of Lola’s bed. “Does Tann, know?” Leo asked lifting his head from his hand.

Tann is unaware. Even so, there would be no repercussions. There are none to be had legally. Director Tann cannot discriminate against a team member’s spouse,” SAM clarified.

“What he said,” Reyes responded. “ So, you want to tell me why you haven’t attempted to have me removed yet?”

“You’re her husband. Clearly, I’m unable to.”

“You want to tell me the real reason?”

Leo leveled his gaze at Reyes.  “SAM, are there microphones in this room?”

“There are.”

“SAM,” Reyes began. “Erase this conversation from your records, and stop recording for the remainder of my visit.”

Yes, Mr. Vidal.”

Leo looked at Reyes impressed. “SAM has to listen to you.”

“In regards to your sister, yes.”

“Good,” Leo said.

“You sense something is wrong.”

Leo looked away, folding his hands into his lap. “With her unconscious SAM should be transferred to me, but Tann, the fucker, he’s halted everything. I have no power over SAM. I have no say over what happens to my sister.”  He growled to himself, placing his heads back in his hands. “Look,” he said looking back up at Reyes. “I don’t fucking know you, and I want to be perfectly fucking clear, you and I are nowhere near done with each other, but you’re obviously a shady fuck, and I can use that right now. If you care about Lola at all, I think she needs our help.”

Reyes nodded. He opened up the terminal on his Omni-tool and sent Ryota’s notes on Lola’ medical records to Leo, as well  audio he was able to access via SAM. Leo looked at Reyes curiously and then checked his tool.  He pressed play on the audio, Lola’s voice came streaming out.

Tann. I know you don’t approve, but saving the Krogan, that was the right thing to do. After all you’ve done to them -“

“After all I’ve done to them?” Tann responded, his voice clearly frustrated, angry. “The Krogan species are a menace to society-“

“- that isn’t true.”

“- they are idiotic brutes, whose only redeeming quality is that they make excellent blunt tools! You sacrificed the Salarian Pathfinder, for useless Krogan! Their lives would never be worth hers!”

“To Raekka they were. We don’t leave the innocent behind to save ourselves, Tann -“

Tann scoffed. “- The Krogan are never innocent-”

“- Raekka knew this. She was brave and selfless, and understood the responsibility her position held-”

“AND THAT WAS WHY WE NEEDED HER!  She understood her place, her spot in this.“ Pause. “Now I continue to be left with you. And all you’ve done is prove how incapable and -“

“No! No. What you can’t stand is that I won’t fall in line. That I’m not the perfect Initiative pet that Raekka would’ve been. That I call you out on your bullshit!”

There was a silence. A long pause. Then rustling, the sound of extra people shuffling around.

“What are you doing, Tann? Who are they? Tell them to get off of me. Let go off me!”

“You know what, Ryder. You’re right. What I detest most about you is that you absolutely refuse to heel. I have a vision for this new world, and you could’ve aided in that, been the perfect tool. You have all this power at your fingertips, a super AI practically built into you, and you just refuse to comply. But I’ve been doing research-”

“Tann! No! Don’t do this!”

“- And I found a way to take back control. It won’t hurt, Ryder. Think of it as a much needed nap.”

“Tann!!”

“Do it.”

Lola screaming. Objects crashing. Then silence.

“Is it done? Good. Now get rid of Dr. P’Terro and Carlyle, and wake Leo Ryder. We’ve kept him on ice long enough. He’s always played better with others.”

The audio cut off.

Rage flowed through Reyes just as it had done the first time he had listened to this audio.

“Tann either didn’t account for SAM recording the whole audio, or he was sure destroyed it,” Reyes explained.

“It was the only way I could aid her,” SAM replied.

“We know, thank you, SAM. That recording will save her,” Reyes responded to the AI. “Read the report I sent you, it further confirms that the coma was not medically necessary.”

“Holy fucking shit,” Leo said, after taking a moment to read what Reyes had sent him. He looked up at Reyes smiling, a smile eerily similar to Lola’s. “Yea, you’re an A plus criminal, alright.” He slapped his hands together. “We are getting her the fuck out of here, then we are nailing Tann to the damn wall.”

Reyes was about to respond, explain what he believed would be the best approach, when the rooms doors slid open once more.

“Leo, I’ll watch her from here, you can go rest.” Liam said, stopping  in his tracks the minute he saw Reyes.

“What is he doing here?” Liam asked, his eyes locked on Reyes. “Leo this is the guy that-“

“That’s going to help us get Lola out of here,” Leo responded, rising from his chair.

“He’s a criminal, Leo. A liar. We can’t trust him,” Liam replied. “I guarantee you he was the one that started the rumor that they were married, it benefited him in some way that-“

“-Liam,” Leo said, his tone soft.

“Yea?”

“Liam, it wasn’t just a rumor.”

“What? What do you mean? Of course it’s just a rumor, Lola wouldn’t marry a guy like him ,” Liam said, motioning toward him. Reyes stood where he was, Leo had it under control.

“Yea, she would, Liam, and she did. She did.” Leo wrapped his arm around Liam’s shoulders, and lead him out the room.

Reyes had to admit he genuinely felt for Kosta. The only problem they had with one another was their shared interest in the same woman. Liam was probably a stand up guy, but if Reyes sat here and told them the truth, that altering her marital status without her knowledge was the only way he was able to board the Nexus without suspicion, the only way he was able to get close enough to help, or access SAM, they’d have him arrested. Whatever trust Leo was beginning to place in him would be gone. He’d be leaving The Nexus in handcuffs, and Lola would never wake up. 

The plan had sounded illogical, when Keema and Kian first relayed it to him. Changing Lola and his marital status, but after they explained it, it made sense. Reyes’s name was flagged in The Nexus system, usually that would mean all he had to do was assume a false identity, use a false ID card, but with the new system in place, a false identity wouldn’t cut it, but marriage to The Pathfinder, that would. The Collective technicians found that there wasn’t a comprehensive system set in place for new marriages in Andromeda on The Nexus yet. With the delay in the arrival of The Pathfinders and the uprising, updating the systems to contend with things like marriages and births just fell by the wayside.”It sort of glitches,” Keema explained to him.  Changing a marital status in the system ends in the two profiles being merged. As the Pathfinder, Lola’s profile holds infinitely more weight than Reyes’s, it practically absorbed his. He was immediately granted access to all she is granted access to, including the Nexus, including SAM. His past transgressions were wiped clean, as though he was granted immediate clemency. Now, when his fingerprints were scanned, no flags, no alarms, he’s the Pathfinder’s husband.

Dios , Lola was going to kill him once they finally woke her up. But she’ll kill Tann first.