“That stuff will kill you.”
Nymeria startles. “How did you…”
“Ryden told me.” The tall Turian steps out of the shadows, and sits down next to her with a grunt, gesturing at the smoldering cigarette dangling loosely between her fingers. “Didn’t think you could light one of those up without something beeping and lighting up on that board of his, did you? Good man, Ryden, disabling the smoke alarms in here like he did. Didn’t even tell anyone about your secret little hideout.” He takes the cigarette from her, and takes a long drag on it, pulling a face as he blows out a thick plume of smoke. “Urgh, never could get into the taste of it.”
Nymeriah takes a drag and exhales, keeping her tone neutral. “Pretty sure you’re not here to discuss the taste of cigarettes, Bilreh.”
He doesn’t answer her immediately; instead he looks out at the spectacular display in front of them. A nebula on the eastern side of the ship obscures the usual speckles and flickering of stars in the distance. A breathtaking display of blues, purples, oranges and browns cast a faint glow inside the tiny little compartment. It was quiet, the only sound being the faint hum of the ship’s engines and the soft crackle of the cigarette burning. He could see why she chose to retreat here when she needed thinking.
“No, you’re right, I didn’t. I was worried. I thought you might need a friend. That was a difficult conversation back there.”
She said nothing, her face concealed by the darkness.
“Sometimes we need to do what we need to do to protect the ones we love.” He pauses. “Even if it means hurting them.”
She shifts slightly; taps the ash from the cigarette in small pen holder of some sort. Turian military emblem on the front. She takes another deep drag.
“Your father is a military man, Nymeriah. High ranked. Well respected within the human and Turian military. Not an easy achievement. It doesn’t come without pissing the wrong people off. Not everyone wanted the First Contact War over. People might want to teach him a lesson about associating with humans. They’re smart enough to know they can’t touch him directly, so they’ll go for the next best thing and get the added bonus of bragging about killing a half human at that. If he doesn’t care about his daughter or make a good enough show of pretending not to, it takes the heat off you. You, and probably your crew, gets to live another day. Who knows how these crazies think.”
She stubs out the cigarette, immediately lights another. She moves, as if to say something but decided against it. He carefully selects his tone before continuing.
“I don’t know your history, but I know that you would rather shoot your way out of a situation than talk your way out of it. Only this time you can’t. You can’t keep running from your demons, girl. And you can’t keep killing to silence them either. Sooner or later something has to give.”
He pushes himself up off the floor, grunting at the stiffness in his legs and back. He opens the door to leave but hesitates. She doesn’t turn around, but something about the way she moves her shoulders assures him she is listening.
“Not everyone is out to get you, kid.”
He shuts the door quietly as he exits, leaving her in the dark.