Chapter IX


Ten years ago

Elysium


It was a quiet night on Elysium, much to the joy of those defending the city against the vicious attackers. After a day full of fights they could finally rest for some hours, but in the morning this whole mess would start all over again.

Jolene managed to sleep for about four hours, but now, at around 6:00 am, she was already awake again. Alessia sat next to her and had her head on Jolene's shoulder. They knew each other from the academy and back then, several years ago, they even spent a night together. Although they never really spoke to much about what happened that night. Even less right now in this situation. Shortly afterwards their ways separated and they got out of touch in the following years until they met again in the middle of all this mess on Elysium. She was still slumbering and Jolene thought about everything that happened during the recent days. How long did this fight already last? She couldn't tell, in all this chaos she had lost her track of time.

Right now she wasn't happy at all. When she arrived at Elysium, it was supposed to be some time of relaxation for her, but now she wasn't only fighting for her own, but also for the lives of many other humans that lived on this world. Usually a peaceful planet, which suddenly turned into a cruel war zone when the mercenaries started their attack.

They had silence for about three more hours, before things started to heat up again. Two lines of defense were built up back around their camp, so they could get civilians out in this direction, some of them on boats over the lake, others with shuttles. Just to get them away from the frontlines, back inland. Some more groups were coming in this morning and a few of the civilians reported that the mercenaries were on the march and right on their way to this camp.

Commander Sato, who took the charge of this camp when it was established, rounded up all the fighters around him, including soldiers like Shepard, police officers and even civilians with enough combat experience.

„Okay, listen everyone! We have confirmed that the mercenaries have started another offensive and should arrive here in about 20 minutes. It's our job to hold them back. There are still a few hundred civilians around the camp and we all can imagine what happens to them if they catch them."

„But we won't let that happen," he added. „We won't let them cross this line of defense. You have done an amazing job during the last days. Of course we have suffered losses, but we saved so many humans. And there are still many more to save. These people rely on us and we won't let them down. You all know your positions. Get ready for the fight and give them hell!"

Jolene and Alessia moved with two other guys to a low, but solid wall on the first line of defense. She didn't know the names of these guys, but she was in command of the group and sent one of them a few meters to the left and the other one to the right, while she remained with Alessia in the middle. All of them just sat there and tensely waited for the attackers to arrive. They barely said anything and mostly fiddled around with their weapons to have them ready when the need would arise.

It took around 15 minutes before they could hear the first gunshots in the vicinity. Everyone grabbed their weapons and looked over the wall to the other side of the street. They couldn't see anyone yet, but the could clearly hear the gunshots coming closer with every second. It only took a few more moments before Jolene saw the silhouettes of some Batarians in and between the buildings on the other side of the street. She signaled the others not to fire yet, but instead they kept waiting for the right moment to strike.

When the first enemies pushed forward and tried to cross the street, Jolene looked out of the cover and moved her rifle on the wall to start firing. She pulled the trigger and the first projectiles left her gun, taking one of the attackers down to the ground. The others joined in quickly and fired round after round at them, taking a handful more of the attackers out. Some of them kept pushing forward, others got into cover, but now they also started to return fire. There were way more of them than in Jolene's group and so they came under heavy fire.

It didn't take long before their comrade on the right side was hit by a few bullets and dropped down dead on the grass beneath him. Grenades exploded close to them, throwing dirt and stones through the air. They couldn't really aim at the attackers anymore and their blindfire wouldn't help them much either in this situation, so there wasn't much of a choice left, before Jolene ordered a retreat.

„There's too many of them! Fall back!" she shouted and started to run back towards the camp and the second line of defense.

Alessia was right behind her, as both jumped over another wall to get some more cover, while bullets rushed past them and hit the ground and walls around them. They waited a moment for their second comrade, but he didn't follow. Alessia took a glimpse over the cover and saw his corpse lying a few meters away on the ground. He got hit by a volley of bullets in his back, before he could reach their safe position.

„He's dead. Let's get moving," Alessia said. Jolene nodded in response and they ran back to the camp. On their way back they heard other groups over the comm channel and it didn't sound good all over the place. Almost everyone of the defenders was drawing back and Sato ordered all of them to return to the camp, so they could combine their forces there.

It took Jolene and Alessia roughly three minutes to get back to their base, where they moved right away into a new position. Jolene looked around the others and she could spot many anxious faces around the area. If she had a mirror with her, she would have likely seen the same expression on herself.

A shuttle with more refugees started behind them, as three rockets rushed over the soldiers heads towards the craft. They hit it hard and it broke apart mid-air in a huge blast. The shuttles burning wreckage fell off the sky and quite a few larger parts killed even more people on the ground who were waiting down there to get away. She couldn't see everything accurately, but obviously there were also a few children and families among the victims of this attack.

When their comrades started firing again, Jolene had to shake off the horrible scenes, turned her view back towards the front and could see many attackers on the move. She tried to aim as precise as possible and fired off only single shots. It wasn't easy for her, though. The ground shook almost constantly due to the explosions caused by rockets and grenades and more and more fellow allies besides Jolene went down after being hit.

„Stay here," she said to Alessia and moved a bit to the right. Before she could go to far, an explosion ripped a hole into the wall next to her and she could see three Batarians entering their defense position. She used the cloud of dust from the blast to her advantage, started up on her feet and ran her knife right into the throat of one of them. While he gasped and collapsed, Jolene aimed with her shotgun at the second one and pulled the trigger. The Batarian took a full load from it as she held it right in front of his chest and flew a few meters through the air, but then she received a heavy hit herself just under her right eye from the last one of them.

The strike was so hard that it broke his weapon and made Jolene plunge on her back. He had no other firearm, so he picked a knife from his belt to finish his job. But before he was able to dump his knife into her body, Jolene managed to pick up a gun from a body next to her and sent several shots into the Batarian's chest.

Her heart beat fast and a lot of adrenaline now rushed through her veins. Right as she tried to get back on her feet, Jolene was hit by a shot in her shoulder and fell back to the ground again. She cried out in pain and and creeped towards the closest part of the wall. While leaning towards it, she breathed heavily and managed to shoot down two more Batarians who tried to break through and didn't see her down there.

She didn't know if she would survive the next minutes, but she felt no regret doing all this. It was her duty and they had saved a lot of people already. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a number of explosions. Jolene looked up and what she saw felt like a redemption to her. Alliance gunships dropped down from the sky and unleashed their heavy fire on the enemy troops below them. They were accompanied by several shuttles, who landed between the camp and the lake, where most of the civilians had gathered. A lot of Alliance marines disembarked from them and headed towards Jolene's position, while the mercenaries stopped their advance and fell back.

„Alessia, you're okay?" Jolene asked, but she didn't get an answer from her friend.

She couldn't see her position from where she sat, so she slowly crawled over in her direction. Her shoulder hurt like hell and as she moved around the corner, she could spot Alessia lying on her back almost motionless. She saw a few bullet holes on her chest, but she was still breathing. Jolene cringed closer, kneeled besides her, pulled her close and moved Alessia's head on her legs. Alessia looked at her and she had this scared facial expression, which gave Jolene goose bumps.

„Thank you for not leaving me alone," Alessia painfully whispered, while Jolene grabbed her hand and held it tight. She was unable to say something right now and simply tried to be there for her. Alessia obviously got weaker with every second that passed and just a few moments later she stopped breathing. Her wounds were too serious and Jolene also had no Medi-gel on her person to treat her. Alessia's lifeless eyes still kind of stared at Jolene and it took her some seconds to overcome the shock, before she was able to move her hand over Alessia's face to close them with her fingers.

Jolene carefully dropped Alessia's head back to the ground and let herself fall back to the wall besides her. She looked around the area and there wasn't much more than chaos and destruction visible, burning ruins and dead bodys everywhere around her. In the end, she was the only soldier at this position to survive the attack. But after all, they managed to hold them back long enough for the Alliance to send reinforcements and thus saved many civilians. It was a minor, but dearly bought victory. Jolene just stared at the environment for a few more seconds while the marines began to secure the camp.

Ultimately, Jolene slowly began to realize what had happened and that it was over now. Although she felt no relief at this very moment, but instead let her head sink into her arms and started crying.