"No, Tali. That's my final answer."
Tali shook her head, opening her eyes once more to the bright light of the medbay. She leaned forward and attempted to stand up. Her warden, however, was having none of it. The human placed a hand on her shoulder, forcing her to sit back down on the medbay's cot.
"Will be fine with Miranda."
She frowned, an unbidden thought flashing through her mind. If those words were intended to calm her, they failed spectacularly. "I'm not going to just sit-"
"Yes. You. Are," Chakwas barked, eyes flashing as the motherly tones left her voice. "Even if, heaven forbid, something happened to them, they're both well-trained, well-equipped, and in good health." She eyed the grumbling engineer and continued to chastise her. "You, on the other hand, are lucky you got away with just a fever and an upset stomach. You were on the Alarei for over two hours with three suit ruptures."
"If I had known there was another-"
"Three. Suit. Ruptures." Chakwas barked, gesturing toward one of the spots where her suit's auto-repair had patched itself. "You know the antibiotics can only do so much if you're wounded more than once, but hiding them from the commander? A ship that size must have had a crew of nearly a hundred, and they were all killed by gunshot wounds. Do you know how miraculous it is that you aren't breathing through a tube after an exposure like that?"
Tali turned away, trying to find solace in a shelf of supplies on the doctor's desk. It was almost disturbingly easy for her to block out thoughts of the many dead quarians she must have been exposed to. Those geth needed to be stopped, and Father... I had to know. It would've taken too long to patch the suit beforehand.
The doctor, however, wasn't finished. She shook her head as she crossed the room back to her desk. "I swear, if I find whatever medic cleared you after you left the Alarei, I will give her a reason to visit someone better qualified to treat quarians. Lying about your health, it's just-"
"Wait," Tali interrupted, confused. "What do you mean by lying?"
"Ms. Lawson, I'm glad you made it."
The music continued to play in the background as Miranda took a seat at the private table, though it was only a garden hose compared to the raging waterfall of Afterlife's pounding beats within the recessed area. The asari frowned as Shepard elected to stand in the corner by the doorway, somewhat removed but by no means out of earshot.
A good vantage point, but it shouldn't be necessary. She ignored the twinge of appreciation for the man's foresight as she began to speak.
"Don't worry, Lanteia. He's with me. Now tell me what's happening."
The asari shot the man a wary glance, but her reluctance quickly faded. "We've... had a complication. Your friend, Niket, thinks he's being followed."
She felt her lips tighten in surprise. Now? Of all times for Him to catch up with her... Miranda cut off the thought before it could develop further, keeping the fear from reaching the rest of her face. "Did Enyala take them out?"
A/N: Just letting you guys know that I am alive, as is this story. Never planned on taking this long to do the next chapter, but things IRL kept me from bringing it off the back burner. The chapter is being written, and I do know where I want to take the rest of the story. I'll take this teaser down and replace it with the full chapter when it's ready.
It will come. And things will get crazy.
"Trust not in your glass canon." -unknown