Leslie Blake looked down at the helmet she had in her lap and contemplated her odds of surviving the next few hours. She didn't judge her chances to be very good. Archangel and his team had already nearly killed her twice, both instances within hours of each other. He was reportedly an expert shot, and he had an entire squad with him. Leslie didn't know what kind of force was bringing brought against him, but she was sure it wouldn't be enough. When the blond woman felt the gunship land she sighed, put her helmet on, and tried not to think about how this mission would turn out.
As she exited the gunship with the rest of her squad she looked around and saw just how serious an operation this was. They had landed in an open area where at least a dozen other gunships were deploying the rest of their company, about 110 in total. In addition to Victor company there were over 200 other Eclipse troops just that Leslie could see, along with an equal number of Blood Pack and Blue Suns.
Ahead of the mass of troops was an alleyway that had several barricades in front, obscuring the view. Leslie could hear gunshots in the distance, and as Capt. Delaney was about to make a speech a group of Blue suns medics were using stretchers to transport a dozen wounded soldiers to a nearby shuttle with a red cross on it.
Leslie breathed deeply once again and listened to Capt. Delaney speak, "Today people we are about to go on what may be the most dangerous mission we have ever undertaken: we are assigned the 'honor' of being in the assault for that takes out Archangel. For the past two days forces from Eclipse, Blood Pack, Blue Suns, and several local armed groups have been assaulting his compound from above and bellow, and his gang has been surrounded.
"After a few frontal assaults failed someone got the brilliant idea to starve him out. Well, Sedaris and the other bosses got tired of that idea pretty quick and decided just to kill the bastard and be done with it. We've already hired several dozen locals who have a score to settle with the turian bastard, and when they all die heroically I've been told we'll be the next ones to go in.
"Let me be clear, this isn't gonna be easy. Not all of us are going to be coming back from this. But, if we can pull this off, then things can finally go back to being calm and peaceful on the streets again. We won't have to be afraid every time we go outside, and we can finally go back to keeping people safe in their homes and keep order in the streets. Are you ready?"
The company, including Leslie, all screamed, "Yes sir!"
Delaney nodded and pointed into the alley, "Then let's go!"
Victor Company walked through a series of alley ways and Leslie noted that many streets were barricaded. The blond woman assumed it was to keep out any possible reinforcements from getting to Archangel, but she couldn't be sure is wasn't also to keep in any deserters who decided they didn't want to die. After going through a series of small checkpoints where troops from one army or another were guarding they came to a wide open area that had several benches, a few planted trees, and even a gunship parked over in one corner that was being worked on by a batarian Blue Suns mechanic. There were several deactivated light mechs and one YMIR in one corner near the gunship.
Across the bridge was the opening to a apartment that was Archangel's main base. Below it Leslie saw several dozen guards, mostly Blood Pack judging by the color of their armor, guarding the exits to the tower.
Archangel might be good, but I doubt he could fight his way through a dozen Krogan.
Several dozen freelancers also malingered about near the end of the bridge the mercenaries controlled. Most were armed with light armor and had assorted weapons that were best used for home defense rather than a frontal assault. Leslie shook her head knowing that most if not all would die in the attack and wondered what would motivate people to take a job like this. Admitting to herself that they were probably just like her, poor and with no other opportunities in life, the tall human woman walked over to where her squad had situated themselves, sat down next to Tamara, and listened to what her new sergeant had to say.
McDermott, a fairly short and unassuming man in his mid 20's, began to tell his team in a quiet and slightly nervous voice, "Alright everyone, uh... you heard Delaney. Once we g-go over the barricade…"
Leslie whispered to the asari next to her, "You kiddin' me with this guy? He sounds like he's about to shit himself."
The asari shrugged, "It's his first time as a squad leader from what I hear. Maybe you should've taken the promotion if you don't like him."
Leslie smiled under the helmet, "And be the one leading the charge? No thanks, I plan on living through this."
A batarian Blue Suns officer stepped out from one of the buildings and yelled out, "Alright people, time to go! Freelancers, get ready to charge. Chu, get those Mechs online! Cathka, is that gunship ready yet?"
Leslie sighed watched as the Freelancers formed up, began to psych themselves up to charge straight into what they had to have known was almost certain death, and awaited the order to storm over the breach. Behind the barricade captain Chu, the man who Leslie recognised as the first person to greet her on Omega that didn't die immediately, had his men setting up and activating the machines that would be in the first wave of the Eclipse assault. The Blue Suns were readying their weapons and boarding several sky cars, though to what purpose Leslie couldn't say.
The batarian from earlier was just getting into the cockpit of his gunship when he screamed out, "Alright you useless apes, go kill that bastard already!"
The Freelancers cheered, stormed over the barricade, and immediately Leslie could hear sniper and rifle fire. After a few seconds the mercenaries could hear screams and shouts as well.
"They're with Archangel. Kill them!"
"Don't let them get inside!"
Leslie and the rest of the Eclipse mercenaries quickly activated the remaining mechs, took up defensive positions, and awaited the order to attack. While this was happening, the Blue Suns soldiers were lifting off in their sky cars and flying out to hover around the enemy base. When the last of the mechs were operational a salarian with pink skin and an unusual suit of armor walked onto the scene and began to bark at all those around him.
The salarian pointed at Delaney and demanded, "Captain just what exactly happened? Why are you not attacking? We need to move now before they can regroup!"
Delaney explained, "Well sir, it seems that Archangel didn't have all his people with him after all and that your plan to just hire any idiot with a gun just backfired because it just allowed Archangel's people to walk right past us and reinforce his position! That's what just happened!"
The salarian sighed, "Morons. Well, too late to do anything about that now. First wave go!"
Chu sent a command to the mechs through his omni-tool and the light mechs, about 20 in total, began to hop over the barricade and began to fire at the enemy. From where she had taken cover Leslie could see that there were at least 4 hostiles in the balcony overlooking the bridge, three human and one turian. All of them were unleashing an impressive amount of fire, the turian firing several shots from his sniper rifle with deadly accuracy for the mechs and the soldiers that had begun to join in the assault.
Leslie watched in horror as Chu lead a company of soldiers, mostly human and about 100 strong, towards the base. The Eclipse troops began to fall in droves as soon as they came in view of Archangel and his team. Some were hit with sniper fire, others were knocked off the bridge with well placed concussive rounds, other skill were ripped apart biotically. In a matter of minutes, the entire force was wiped out.
Every one...dead. Bastards...every one of those fucks up there deserves to die!
Just as the last few members of Chu's company were killed Archangel stood, aimed his rifle, and killed a human female officer standing just a few feet in front of the salarian.
With a cold and dismissive voice he sighed, "If you want something done properly..." He punched a few commands into his omni-tool and yelled out, "Let's see how you handle this Archangel!"
The heavy mech then came to life, stormed over to the barricade and walked through it as it it wasn't even there. After a few seconds though it turned around, scanned the area, and began to walk back to it's owners.
"Target acquired," was all the warning the Eclipse troops had as the machine began to target it's former masters. A quick burst of machine gun fire to Leslie's right cut down an entire squad of salarian troops. A missile barrage quickly sent another company flying through the air.
Delaney yelled out, "Take that bastard down!"
All the remaining troops focused their fire on the walking tank as it marched through the camp. The area was wide open, and the only places to hide were inside the buildings, and if the mech saw troops enter through a doorway it would fire through the doorways and windows with machine gun and rocket fire, killing all those inside.
Leslie and her company fired everything they had at the machine. Biotics melted it's armor, tech attacks fried it's circuits, and rifle fire from a hundred soldiers tore through it's weak spots and it's head. After several minutes of dodging missiles, machine gun blasts, and the occasional swipe of an arm, Leslie fired several rounds into what remained of it's head, finally destroying the walking tank.
As the beast finally fell, Leslie looked around her and surveyed the damage. She immediately wanted to vomit when she saw all the blood and bodies. All around the assembly area the remains of the dead littered the ground. Some had been cut in half by machine gun fire, others had been obliterated by rockets. About half of the Eclipse force had by now been killed or wounded.
The salarian that seemed to be in command of the Eclipse troops walked into the center of his remaining forces and asked in a voice that made Leslie think this was all just an annoyance to him, "Is anyone from Keystone Company still alive?"
An asari lieutenant with about 40 or so troops behind her raised her hand, "Here sir."
The salarian pointed to her, "You people handle the casualties, Delaney will assist. The rest of you with me." The salarian then lead a small group of about 50 soldiers onto the bridge. Victor Company stayed behind and began to stabilize the wounded and move them onto medical shuttles. As Leslie loaded a human male onto a shuttle she looked back to how the assault was going.
The salarian commander was missing his head, and his broken body was now laying in the center of the bridge. The rest of the platoon he took with him had taken severe casualties, with about 20 or so wounded scattered about and being targeted by Archangel and one other remaining soldier on the balcony next to the turian was targeting what remained of the able bodied assault force.
Delaney saw this and pointed to the asari officer from earlier, "Keystone Company, stay here and help the wounded. Victor Company, with me. We're getting those bastards out of there!"
Leslie charged with her company onto the bridge, her new sergeant leading the way. As soon as her unit crossed onto the bridge they immediately began taking fire, Leslie's new squad leader being the first one to be killed.
I knew the job was cursed.
Delaney ordered Leslie's platoon to lay down suppressing fire while the rest moved whom they could. All the while Archangel's squadmate began to target the combatants and Archangel himself kept targeting the wounded.
As Tamara saw a wounded salarian have his chest impacted by a sniper round she charged forward sending warp blasts towards the defenders screaming, "A chance, just give them a chance you son of a of a bi-"
Several blasts of rifle fire hit her in the stomach, and she quickly fell to the ground.
Leslie panicked and screamed as she charged to save her friend, "Medic! Medic!"
Silver and the other male human and salarian from her squad rushed in to help her, the male human having his head taken off on the way. They reached the injured asari and hauled her behind a larger pillar on the bridge and Silver began to examine her.
As Leslie reloaded her rifle she yelled out, "How is she?"
Silver pointed at her, "See for yourself!"
Tamara was bleeding heavily from her stomach, and it seemed the only thing that had held her intestines together was what remained of her armor. Silver had managed to get a healthy amount of medi-gel on her and bandage up the wound, but she needed professional help now.
Looking back to the assembly area Leslie could see most of the wounded had been evacuated and her company was pulling back. Several members of her platoon had been wounded or killed, and the tall blond human could see Speirs had taken a round through the leg but was still managing to fire at Archangel even as two male humans were pulling him off the bridge be his shoulders.
Leslie told what was left of her squad, "OK people, we are leaving!" The two humans hauled the asari to her feet while the salarian provided covering fire from his submachine gun and launched tech attacks to cover the retreat. As they reached the halfway point Leslie heard a burst of rifle fire behind her and even without looking she knew the salarian behind her was gone. The humans picked up their pace.
Just a little bit further. Com on!
Captain Delaney, who had taken a sniper round through his right shoulder, and a few others were waving them on and firing at the enemy as they neared the end of the bridge. Just as Leslie was about to cross the threshold to relative safety a shot rang out...and missed Leslie's head by a fraction of an inch.
She turned back to see...she couldn't believe it. A tall human woman, with fiery red hair, wearing a suit of grey and black armor was shoving Archangel against a wall.
No that...that can't be...Shepard?
Leslie didn't waste anymore time and got her friend onto a shuttle where she would be taken to a nearby makeshift hospital.
As she stood back and looked out onto the bridge, which had well over 100 dead Eclipse troops on it, Leslie saw the Blue Suns troops entering the base from various points.
If you can get him you can have him. Just put a round or two in his head for me.
Leslie didn't rate think they would survive, but if they could at least end this nightmare, that was all that mattered to her anymore.
Medical Wing, Eclipse Base. 1950. 2 Days Later.
Leslie Blake, with a fairly slim book in hand, walked into the room that all the wounded troops that had survived their injuries were recovering in, looked around for one person in particular, and smiled as she walked over to a bed, pulled up a chair and sat down.
Looking down at Tamara, Leslie noted in a cheerful voice, "You look almost ready to get back on your feet. How do you feel?"
Tamara had undergone some rather traumatic surgery at a nearby field hospital just after she was injured, and came close to dying. Fortunately the capable doctors had managed to save her, albeit while still not being able to bring her back up to the shape she was in before.
The asari smiled, "Better now. Still can't believe they're firing me though."
Leslie reassured her, "At least you're still alive. A lot of people can't say that. 30 members of our company died, with another 20 injured. You should be glad to be getting out."
Tamara sighed, "Maybe, but what am I supposed to do now? It'll be months before I can fight again. I can't just go to school or learn some trade; I'd just go crazy sitting in a class room all day. The scars won't fade away for a decade and I wasn't ever much of a dancer anyway. So you tell me Blake, what am I supposed to do?"
Leslie smiled, "Well, you could always try to become a teacher."
Tamara shook her head and deadpanned, "Not gonna happen."
The human then asked, "You leavin' today then?"
Tamara nodded, "Yeah. The doctors are just gonna give me a few forms to sign, then I'm headed back home to Illium. My family will probably be glad to see me but I plan on giving them a lot of hell for a while. They always wanted me out of the army and back home." The asari smiled, "I plan on making them sick of me."
Leslie then handed her the book she had brought in, "Well in that case, you'll have to mail this back to me sometime."
The asari looked down at it. Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy. She looked back at her human friend, "That's um...a nice going away present. Thank you. I promise I'll actually read it sometime."
Leslie smiled, "I'd give you something else, but I don't have anything else that I think you would like. Besides, it really is rather your speed anyway. Let me know what you think, OK?"
Tamara nodded, "Sure thing. Thanks Leslie. Keep in touch, yeah?"
The human nodded, "You better believe it. And remember now, I want that back."
The two friends exchanged extranet addresses, said their last goodbyes, and the human woman went to the rec room across from her quarters to call her family before she went to try to get some rest. Sitting down in front of a terminal she dialed her mom's number and waited for her to pick up. After waiting a few minutes Marji appeared holding Leo in her lap. The elder woman wore a green blouse and the boy had a brown shirt and pants.
As soon as Leo saw who was on the screen he pointed to it, grabbed and pulled on his grandmother's blouse, and screamed, "Mom! Mom!"
Marji freed her clothing and said, "Yes honey, it's mom. Would you like to say something to her?"
Leslie was nearly brought to tears at the sight. She waved her hand at the screen and said in a happy and choked up voice, "Hey kiddo. How have you been? Causing a lot of trouble back home?"
Leo just pointed at the screen and said something neither women understood. After laughing for a few seconds Marji told her, "Leo's been fine lately. He loves all his new things you paid for. Isn't that right?"
Leo sat back in Marji's lap and asked, "Can mom come home?"
Leslie sighed and informed him, "Sorry honey, mommy's job keeps her away a lot. But I'll be home soon. Just hang in there, OK?"
Leo pouted, "Home!"
Marji said in a chastising voice, "Hush, you're speaking to your mother and she doesn't need your attitude!"
Leslie smiled, "I'll be home before you know it Leo. Right now I need you to be good for grandma. That means play nice, eat your food, and get lots of sleep. Can you do that honey?"
Leo was quiet for a minute but eventually nodded, "Yes. Love you."
Leslie fought back tears, "Love you too honey. Anything to report mom?"
Marji shook her head, "We're all fine back here. How are things on your end?"
Leslie didn't know how to respond. What could she say to her mom and son? That she was constantly put in danger by people who were at best indifferent to her? That she could be killed at any time? That she honestly didn't want to be there but she had no choice?
Leslie took a deep breath and told them the only thing she could, "I'm surviving mom. Not always easy here, but I'm a survivor. As long as you guys stay afloat, I'll be OK."
Marji smiled, "That's great to hear. Leo and I have to get going, but it was great to hear from you."
Leslie smiled and waved, "Bye mom. Leo, you be good now."
Her son waved back right before the feed cut out. As soon as the screen went blank Leslie let out a deep breath. God she hated this job. She wanted nothing more than to be home with her family. Still, in life you didn't usually get what you wanted. Besides, she meant what she said. As long as her mother and son were fine, she could keep on going, no matter what happened to her.
The tall blond mercenary got up and headed back to her quarters. She didn't know what life had in store for her, but she promised herself she would overcome whatever challenges awaited her. Whatever dangers faced her, however many enemies tried to kill her, it didn't matter. As long as her family needed her to be where she was, she would fight to the bitter end for them.
As long as her family needed her, Leslie Blake would never let them down.
A/N: Sorry for the relative shortness of this chapter, but there just wasn't any more story to tell. I'm not really sure how I did with the battle scene again. Normally I would feel good about it, but this is Garrus' recruitment mission here. Please let me know what you all think.
Though I am sorry to say this is the end of this story, I am pleased to announce that I will finally be publishing the sequel to my first story 'Total Eclipse.' I plan to have the first chapter out sometime in the next week or two, so please keep an eye out for that. It will be titled "Mass Effect: The Unsung War."
Thanks as always for all those who took the time to read/favorite/review my work. Extra special thanks to authors HugoCogs and LogicalPremise for their kind words of encouragement and suggestions to give Leslie her own story. Without them, this would never have happened.
So, until next time, may the force be with you all.