Apartment Complex, Illyria, Elysium
7:27 PM - 14/10/2185
Vasquez pressed a finger against the orange haptic interface on the door ahead, and then stood back to wait for it to open. She glanced down the gray-white corridor to the elevator where she’d came from, her fingers twitching uneasily. It wasn’t too late to leave. Maybe it-
“Chief Vasquez…? Holy shit, come in!”
The surprised voice sounded as soon as the door slid open. It belonged to a small, wiry woman in sweatpants and a grease-stained t-shirt. Stitches covered a split in her eyebrow, and she’d let her black hair grow into a short mohawk. Cynthia Spunkmeyer. One of her old squadmates. She waved her inside, and they both stepped into the apartment. It was a fairly standard affair. Couch, screen showing a game of biotiball, desk with a computer terminal, shelves, a kitchen corner and a window overlooking another of the city’s many parks.
She followed Cynthia inside and sat down in the couch when she gestured towards it. The woman went over to the fridge to take out a couple of beer bottles.
“Been a long time Chief. Didn’t expect to ever see you back on Elysium. And seriously. It’s Cyn.”
“Yeah, it, uh… it’s been a while…”
“Three years since I heard from you. Haven’t seen you since after Torfan.
She walked over to the couch, falling into the seat next to Vasquez and holding out one of the beer bottles. She shook her head in response and tapped the implant at her temple.
“Can’t drink anymore. Neural Repair Implant.”
Cynthia furrowed her eyebrows as she placed the second bottle on the table, opening her own and taking a swig while studying her former squad leader.
“Shit, what happened?”
“I’d-... another time. Long story.”
She gave a light shrug in response.
“Alright… so out with it, why are you here?”
Vasquez shifted uncomfortably, her gaze on the table.
“I… I was visiting the park.”
Cynthia gained a frown and set the beer down before putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder.
“Linda, shit… I didn’t think you were ever-... why now?”
She let out a faint, uncomfortable chuckle.
“I… I’m getting married.”
Cynthia’s eyes went wide and she shoved her guest, her expression shifting in an instant as a grin spread across her face.
“Yeah… his name is Jason, and-...”
“How long since you met?!”
“Little over two years-”
A sudden punch to the arm.
“And you didn’t tell me?! You asshole!”
The hug was just as sudden, but soon returned in kind. It was an unexpected gesture from her former squadmate. They had both changed a lot since the siege, she supposed.
“I’m telling you now. I… honestly, I don’t have a lot of friends where I am right now, and-...”
“Aite, right? I had to learn that from Markus because you haven’t kept in touch. Sounds like you barely have with him either…”
It was clear from her tone that it really did bother her, but her grin couldn’t stay away for long.
“I know. And… I’m sorry.”
It didn’t come easy to her. Never did. She had to force it out.
“Wooow… that one must’ve hurt, Chief.”
An annoyed grunt was all that escaped her.
“C’mon, I’m just messing with you. Now tell me everything!”
“Fine. After I left ExoGeni in ‘83, I didn’t know where to go. I ended up on Omega…”
It was a long while that they talked. It was strange to talk to Cynthia again. Awkward at first. It had been a long, long time. Vasquez told her the basics. Meeting Jason, their life together. Omega, Illium, Earth. And Aite. Redrock. Building a life for themselves. Cynthia shared as well. The aftermath of the Siege. Continuing to serve. Being shuffled out of active duty. Moving back to Elysium. It had been a long time since they had talked like this. After Elysium things had changed between the team. And after Torfan… well, nothing got better.
Breaching in 3… 2… 1…
Cynthia went in first, her Crusader raised, and the others followed soon after. The Typhoon that Vasquez favored was impractical when breaching, leaving her to cover the corridor until everyone else was in. The two of them were all that was left of the old team after Samsak died and Viktor left. Several Blitz survivors had found their way into the battalion assaulting Torfan, even though it wasn’t supposed to work that way.
“We’ve got something…”
After passing through the smoke of the breaching charge she found herself standing in a room much like all the others they had sweeped. Dimly lit, hollowed straight out of the moon rock itself. A group of batarians were standing in the room, all of them with their hands behind their head and their weapons on the floor. A universal gesture if there ever was one. Their weapons were kicked away and they were forced to their knees.
Everyone there knew what kind of people these batarians were. Pirates. Slavers. Terrorists. Scum of the galaxy. The unit had agreed beforehand. Many of the other squads had too. There wouldn’t be any prisoners today. Blood and scorch-marks covered the blue hardsuits of the marines, all of them battered and bruised, but they moved with ruthless efficiency. A single bullet to each of their heads. Cynthia stood watch by the entrance.
All but one of them were executed this way. A grizzled batarian in a scratched and dented set of silver bladed armor. Vasquez had hoped that they would reach him first ever since finding out he was on Torfan. She had made plans with the rest of the team for how it would be handled. This was her only opportunity. It was time for justice. For Elysium. For Samsak. For Janet.
A single shot of her pistol to each knee to keep him in place. Loud cries of pain. Threats replaced by pleading. Cynthia and Nick held him down while she approached. She pulled it from her armored boot. A long, sharp metal spike. Kishock harpoon. Nick moved aside and she planted her knee on the batarian’s chest to pin him down. She didn’t know much about them, but she knew enough for this. The eyes. Had to take the eyes. They believed they were the portals to the afterlife. None of that for him.
A gauntleted hand on his forehead to keep it still. His pleading for mercy continued, but the words didn’t register to her anymore. Her translator? No. They were being drowned out. She could hear nothing but Janet’s terrified sobbing. Her face was devoid of all emotion as she brought the spike up to the alien’s face. She slowly forced it down into his eyeball. Felt him scream in terror as his eye was mangled, but heard nothing.
“Uh… Chief? You okay?”
It was Cynthia’s voice that greeted her as found herself in the apartment again, staring blankly at the table and clutching her right hand into a fist that held nothing. She nodded faintly.
“It still happens, huh…?”
“I’m coming with back to Aite.”
“Yeah! Just for a bit. Have to meet this Jason guy, right? See your base?”
“No. Cyn, you’re not-...”
“C’mon, it’ll be fun! I don’t wanna wait ‘til the wedding to meet your people!”
Vasquez let out a frustrated grunt.
“We haven’t talked in years, Cyn. Just because I decided to come over doesn’t mean-...”
“You did decide to come over, so tough shit for you if you didn’t want me back in your life. I’m coming.”
She let out an exasperated sigh and a small nod.