Memorial Park, Illyria, Elysium
6:02 PM - 13/10/2185
Vasquez shivered as a cold wind blew across the open space of the park, and reached down to zip up her jacket. Sleet covered parts of the park’s far-reaching grass fields. The trees that were meant to shield the place from the noise of traffic were leafless still. Spring was late this year. Not that it mattered much, traffic was light. The south end of Illyria relied on the tourism, and between the fear of disappearing colonies and the heightened security restrictions placed on travel in recent months the industry had taken a big hit. A lot of the popular spots were all but empty. The diner had been when she visited it earlier. She didn’t know what she had expected from visiting, but she had regretted it quickly, and departed for the park.
As she continued on down the concrete path through the park, her gaze wandered. It was mostly empty, as far as she could tell. There was an old lady feeding pigeons on a bench. She had always wondered how the pigeons got there. Someone would have had to gone to the trouble to bring them all the way over from Earth. Could they have stowed away? The thought was lost to her as the monument came within view. A stark sight, several pale, angular concrete pillars jutting out of the grass in the middle of a crossroads in the path, angled inwards toward the center. She slowed her step as she got closer, stopping at the bronze placard in front of the monument and reading.
Dedicated to the victims of the Skyllian Blitz
She let out a quiet grunt and moved on, rounding the monument. It wasn’t what she was there for. She continued to walk down the path. More gray, green and white. The wind was picking up, causing the cold to bite that much harder. She moved a hand up to brush away the hair that flew into her face, quickly reminded of why she usually sticks to a ponytail. It didn’t take her much longer until she could see it. She stepped off the path, heading out across one of the largest grass fields in the park. No one was on it, not in this weather. It looked unremarkable. Just grass, and more half-melted ice. It didn’t matter. She knew it was the spot. She came to a stop, looking around as she let out a long breath, mist forming in front of her mouth.
Vasquez kneeled down, unconcerned with the cold as her pant legs were soaked from the sleet. She reached for her zipper, pulling it down enough to reach in and grab a small, navy blue box from an inner pocket. She turned the box over in her hand, studying it briefly before flipping it open. The ring inside is a simple gold band with an inscribed pattern. She took it out, putting it in her palm and shifting is slightly back and forth, watching the overcast sky reflect as her gaze grew distant. She blinked, doing her best to hold back tears, and taking a brief look around to make sure she was alone.
“Hey Jan… I… I know it’s been a long time, and… I’m… sorry for missing last year. My… life has been… messy. But… it’s getting better. I’ve, uh… I’ve met someone. He’s kind, understanding… and he’s a real goofball, like you.”
She blinked, and tears rolled down her cheeks as a small sniffle escaped. The harsh wind felt ice-cold against wet cheeks and her hair was blown to the side.
“And… he’s proposed. We’re getting married. I… I’m moving on. I have to move on, Jan.”
She gently placed the ring down in the grass.
“I thought… I thought I should return this. When… I told your parents I was going to propose, your dad, he… he gave it to me. Said it was an… heirloom. I couldn’t… couldn’t face them after… but you should have it. I… I have to move on, but I’ll never forget. I’m sorry… I’m sorry I never got to give it to you… I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to-...”
Shock as Janet was brought out in front of her, pushed into the grass by the batarians. She was shaking, staring at Linda as if she was the only person there. Smoke in the air, and the distant crackle of gunfire, a sharp contrast to the blue skies and green grass. Chafing as Vasquez struggled against her restraints. Her squad was beside her, all on their knees. Cynthia stared in horror, Viktor averted his gaze.
“I don’t know! I told you I don’t know!”
The aliens ignored Linda’s screams. She tried to convince them, but it had been no use. The leader, in rugged, bladed armor, lifted a Kishock harpoon gun to Janet’s head. She struggled again, but couldn’t break free. Panic set in as they refused to listen.
“DON’T HURT HER! I DON’T KNOW! I DON’T FUCKING KNOW!”
There was no hesitation from the batarian. A squeeze of the trigger and a sickening thump. The harpoon punched straight through her skull, and her lifeless body slumped to the ground. Vasquez was on her feet before she knew it. She was shouting but she didn’t know what, she was running but it was already too late. It hadn’t processed yet. There was no time. The batarian’s eyes widened in surprise as he brought the Kishock to bear. She was almost upon him when the trigger was pulled. An overwhelming pain as it struck the side of her head, tearing her cheek apart. A hard fall into the grass, and a last glimpse of Janet before everything turned black. Eyes stared emptily. Blood soaked the grass around her head.
Not a harpoon. Not this time. Hail striking hard against her cheek as a gust of wind hit. Gray skies again. Biting cold on her face, streaming tears. Her hands clutched at the grass as she doubled over, leaning her head down until it pressed against the ground, quiet sobs escaping her as she laid there, doing all she could to be near Janet one last time. She stayed for as long as she could, only when twilight approached and the cold became unbearable did she stand to leave. She was shivering as she looked down at the ring in the grass, pale from the cold and with no more tears to cry. A heavy, exhausted sigh was all that escaped before two quiet words, spoken softly.