Ten years ago
„Yeah, let's do this."
Jolene looked above the wall she was kneeling behind and saw two Batarians next to the forefront of a house, properly overlooking the area in front of them. She left her cover and fired a biotic lift at the two, raising them right into the air. „Now!" she screamed while doing so.
The soldier next to her now also left his cover, aimed with his assault rifle and shot both Batarians before they even hit the ground again. He didn't get down fast enough after that, when a grenade exploded right in front of the wall and tossed him down on his back. They had alarmed the other Batarians at this post with their attack and almost all of them immediately started to fire at their position. Jolene pulled the dazed man closer to the wall and gave a signal with her hand to two other comrades, who were hiding in a house on the other side of the street.
The Batarians were focused on Jolene and her partner, so they didn't notice the other soldiers as they started to unleash their assault rifle fire on them, taking out three more Batarians in just a few seconds. Meanwhile Jolene tried to get the man back to his mind again, slapping him on his cheek. „Hey Talas, don't leave me alone now."
She didn't even know his first name, although they already met two days before, when Shepard rallied a small resistance force against the attacking Batarians. He was from Finland and everyone called him Talas, and that was about it. After all, they needed to watch out all day, so there wasn't much time for private talking anyway.
He slowly came around again and looked at her. „What happened?" he asked, obviously still being a bit confused.
„A grenade exploded in front of you, but you're okay as far as i can tell. Everything's still at it's place."
„That's good to know," he replied and picked himself up. He grabbed his assault rifle and crawled back into a position to fight again.
„Let's finish this. Graziano and Fischer can't hold them off alone," Jolene said.
Talas nodded in response. They were still under fire, but not as much as initially. Jolene took a quick look over the cover and saw quite a few Batarians in the half demolished house they were attacking. She could count seven of them, two of them being on the upper floor. „Cover me," she said and activated a grenade. She waited two seconds, before she threw it right at the two Batarians on the upper floor, while Talas fired blind over the wall. They had no chance, as the grenade exploded just a second after it reached it's target, catapulting both of them out of the house,
„Good one," Talas said with a smile. But that didn't remain for long, when he saw what was about to happen. „Rocket Launcher, take him down!" he shouted. Both Talas and Jolene startet shooting at the remaining Batarians in there, but they couldn't stop the one with the Rocket Launcher. He fired off a rocket and Jolene watched it flying right across the street, where it hit right into the position where Graziano and Fischer were hiding. A huge blast occurred and parts of the house fell down to the street, among them was also Fischer's body.
„Shit," Jolene cursed. She left her cover and fired a biotic throw towards the Batarians, rushing two of them off her feet. She aimed with her rifle at another one and took him down with a couple of well-placed rounds. At the same time Graziano showed up again on the other side and killed two more of them. Talas suddenly left his cover now and rushed towards the house. His goal was to finish off the other two which Jolene threw back with her biotics.
„No, wait!" Jolene shouted, before she quickly jumped over the wall and followed him. Once he entered the house, he saw one of them lying on the floor, obviously being wounded and unable to defend himself. He couldn't see the second one, but he felt him soon as he was hit by the stock of a gun on the back of his head. He tumbled down and turned around on his back, so he could see the Batarian right above him. The grim looking mercenary aimed with his pistol at him and didn't hesitate for long, pulling the trigger and firing a shot right into Talas' chest. Just a moment later he himself was hit by a projectile in his head, coming from Jolene's rifle. He dropped dead right next to Talas and Shepard ran into the house. She fell down on her knees close to Talas, but it was too late for him. The Batarian's shot went right through his heart, he was without a chance.
She was silent, just looked at him, when a noise from behind alarmed her. Jolene quickly picked up her rifle, turned around and aimed at the entrance, but it was just Graziano entering the house. „Alessia... you're alright?" Jolene asked.
She didn't answer, but instead moved to the remaining and wounded Batarian next to the half collapsed wall. „That's for Fischer," she said and put three shots into his chest. Jolene should have stopped her, but she didn't. She still kneeled next to Talas and watched Alessia kill the defenceless Batarian. She felt not a single emotion right now, it was more like a mental vacuum.
Alessia came over to her and put her hand on Jolene's shoulder. „We should go," she noted. Jolene looked up at her and just nodded. Before she stood up, she picked up Talas' dog tags and tucked them away in one of her pockets.
Back in the base camp, Jolene sat down alone on the outside and looked across the neighboring lake. She held Talas' dog tags in her right hand which was slightly shivering. Two days ago, everything was so peacful around this place. But then the Batarians, Mercenaries and Pirates came and literally hell broke loose. It took her a day to find some fellow soldiers, she even knew some of them from the academy. She tried to rally a resistance force and divided the folks into groups, herself leading said squad with Talas, Fischer and Graziano.
Later that day they found this base camp, where more humans had assembled under the command of Commander Sato. They didn't have enough personnel to start a counterattack, so they focused on getting civilians out for the moment, while also eliminating smaller enemy units and taking out a few outposts, but so far they lost only one person. Now two more were dead, killed in action under Jolene's command. It was a new experience for her and she clearly didn't like the feeling it gave her.
Jolene tried to think of something nicer instead and remembered the day after she arrived at Elysium. She was at a bar that night and even today she was still kind of fascinated by the Asari dancer who worked there. It was a bit of a strange feeling for her, given the fact she hadn't seen so many aliens before. And she certainly never thought that an alien could look so sexy in her sight nor that that she would feel attracted to one, at least to some extent. Watching her was almost hypnotic, but it helped her right now when she needed it. For a moment, this thought put a little smile on her face again in all this mess.
„Path is clear, move forward," said Garrus over the comm channel.
The team slowly came closer to the second outpost in the dark valley, approaching the enemy position from three sides again. But this time Shepard had another strategy in mind.
„Pull and slam," she whispered over the comm. Once Miranda and Jacob signaled their readiness, Shepard fired a biotic pull at the Batarians, levitating all of them into the air. A moment later, Miranda's biotic slam followed and hit them, smashing the three hard back onto the ground. They were still dizzy from the attack, when the team moved in and easily knocked them out one after another without causing any noises.
„Well done," Shepard noted at Miranda and Jacob. „Sedate all of them." She handed out some more sedatives to Miranda, who used them on the Batarians.
„Nice work," mentioned Garrus. „Path is clear again. I'll close up now."
It took the Turian three minutes to reach the team's position. Meanwhile more and more light came into the valley, as the sun slowly moved up on the sky. As Garrus reached Shepard's position, everyone gathered around her when she activated her Omni-Tool to display a map of the area.
„Okay, here's the rear entrance," Jolene said and pointed at a position on the back of the building.
„I think i could find a good position there", Garrus added, pointing at a close hill. „From there i should have a perfect view at the rear entrance. I could also keep the front in view, if some guards are moving around the building."
„But how do we take them out silently?" asked Miranda. „Judging by the map, there isn't much cover between the hills and the back side."
„I manufactured a silencer for the Widow a while ago, just need the right timing then to eliminate them without noticing anyone of them."
„If anyone can pull that off, it's you. Good, we'll do it this way," said Shepard. „We move along the path and get into position behind this small rock formation. Once you took them out, we'll get in and get the hostages out."
Garrus nodded and went on his way, whereas the team continued to follow the path through the valley. While on their way, Jolene contacted the Normandy.
„Shepard to Normandy... EDI, can you hack into the outpost's security systems and give me the exact position of the hostages?"
„I will try, Shepard. It will take a few moments," the VI answered, followed by a few seconds of silence. „Shepard, i can't use their internal sensors without alarming them. I suggest waiting until you're closer."
„Agreed, i'll inform you when we're ready," said Shepard.
In the meantime Garrus arrived at the top of the hill he had mentioned. He had to be more careful though, as it was already much brighter. Luckily, there were a few bushes and he kneeled in between two of them, taking a look around the region. He spotted four Batarians close to the rear entrance, three of them constantly moving around the area. Then he took a brief look at the foreside and noticed something very interesting.
„Shepard, you won't believe this," he mentioned.
„Well, that depends on your point of view. But maybe you should know that Balak is here. I can see him at the foreside."
„What?" Shepard said, coming to a halt and obviously getting a little more aggressive in her tone. „Didn't expect him to come back here again. That son of a bitch won't get away this time."
„Joli," Miranda interfered, „calm down."
„He thinks he can play games with me... i'll show him how to play games," Shepard argued heatedly. „Let's get these hostages out and then i'll have to settle an old score."
„We should really...," started Miranda, but she couldn't finish her sentence.
„No discussions about this, Miri! No one was able to track him down so far, but i will," Shepard said and continued to move on. „He killed innocents back then, he's going to pay for that."
„Damn it," mumbled Miranda and followed her again. „We can discuss that later," added Jacob from behind. „We have to focus on getting the hostages out first."
„You're right. But keep an eye on her, i don't want her to do something rash."
„Shepard? Can't imagine she ever would," he noted.
„Me too, usually. But you never know when it gets personal. And i looked into her eyes, this certainly is something personal for her."
„If you think so... though i don't like it. But you're good friends, so you should know better than me."
„That's why i mention it," said Miranda.
Jacob sighed and both started to catch up with Shepard again, who walked a few meters ahead of them.