Jason: Tours of Duty Part 1

Jason: Tours of Duty Part 1

June 3rd, 2177

...Connection Established...

The video feed flickered and sputtered for a moment before displaying the mask of a quarian adorned by a beautiful, intricately designed red and grey shawl. Her eyes flashed from behind the transparent barrier.

"Jason?" she asked, excitement in her voice, "Is that you?"

The camera feed shook a bit as the man on the other end sat the omni-tool down on the table before him. He leaned his elbows against the smooth surface and stared into the holographic interface. The clean shaven 21 year old swallowed hard as a big, goofy grin crossed his face.

"I miss you so much." he said, nearly spitting it out as if he had been choking on it.

"I miss you, too." she said with a chuckle as she adjusted her omni-tool to bring it up to eye level.

It was then that she noticed the men scrambling around behind Jason. The silence allowed her to overhear the voice transmitting throughout the ship.

"ATTENTION! Boarding parties gear up and report to your squad leaders! Squads: Echo and Foxtrot to Deck 3 for breaching preparations." the voice explained.

A loud buzz sounded out before the announcement was repeated.

"Jason, what's going on!?" the quarian asked, pulling the omni-tool close to her face as she inspected the screen. The excitement in her voice faded to panic, "Breaching party?"

Jason clasped his hands together and lowered his eyes to the ground, running his palms across the stubble on top of his head. He rocked in place nervously as he raised his head back to meet her gaze once more through the crackling video feed.

"You know this is-..." he began, glancing back over his shoulder as another set of soldiers ran by behind him, "..this is what I do."

This wasn't Jason's first rodeo. He had seen a fair share of ground combat during his time stationed planetside out in the Attican Traverse, but this was his first tour onboard a cruiser. Every Alliance soldier had heard stories of the brutality that boarding parties faced. During his six weeks onboard the SSV Beirut he had already seen three soldiers lose their lives and a handful more injured during boarding procedures. It almost felt like a death sentence when he received his assignment, but he kept it bottled up for Mina's sake. Now, as the sirens blared and everybody rushed into action, all he wanted was to see her bright eyes.

They had only been dating for six months, but she was already staying at his place. Jason met Mina during a chance encounter on leave. A bet between comrades, a little bravado and a whole lot of liquid courage inspired him to approach the lonely quarian typing away on her omni-tool in the corner of a bar. "Bet you're totally hot under that bucket." he had said. Nailed it! Hook, line, and sinker. His friends laughed. She told him off. Your typical love-at-first-sight story. Over time, his idiocy went from grating to endearing. He was like a dumb puppy and she couldn't help but laugh everytime something came out of his mouth.

"I know, Jason, but... What's wrong?" she asked with a sigh as she sat atop her bed. Their bed.

"I'm just-..." Jason began, his voice breaking as he lowered his tone and looked around frantically to make sure nobody was within earshot, "...I'm scared. This is the real thing and-... and if this is it then I just wanted to see those beautiful eyes one last time."

"FNG!" shouted a soldier hauling a crate of gear by at just the right time to overhear Jason.

Jason turned a bright shade of red. Mina would've found it adorable if it wasn't for the fact that she was utterly terrified for him. Hearing that he was also scared only deepened her worry.

"Just tell them no, Jason!" Mina demanded with a deep quarian drawl, "They can't make you!"

"It's not that simple." he sighed, burying his face in his hands. His knee bounced up and down, a nervous tick of sorts.

"I don't care how simple it is! If you can't-..." she stopped. She knew it was pointless. If it was just as easy as politely declining a dangerous situation, then nobody would be out there. She brought a hand up to her breather. "Come home to me, Jason. You are strong. I love you and I believe in you. You can do this." she said, praying that she was right.

"Get off your ass, Wolfe! Deck 3, we're up! Rookies in the front! Echo, HOO!" a voice called out as a shotgun was thrusted onto his lap from off-screen.

Jason divided his attention between Mina and the soldier speaking to him as he rose from his seat on shaky legs. "Mina, honey... I... I have to go." he said, his voice cracking once more. "I'll call you as soon as I'm able to. I... I'll be fine." he assured her, unsure if it was actually true or not, "I'm gonna make it home. Whatever it takes, I'll make it home. I love you so much."

...Connection Terminated...

The image faded out. Mina stared at the bright blue glow of her omni-tool's holographic projection and brought her knees up to her chest. Was this going to be her life? Dancing from one phone call to the next with nothing but worry to keep her occupied in between?

Jason looked down at the shotgun in his hands and stumbled a bit as he struggled to juggle it and the helmet that was being tossed to him. Sweat beaded down his forehead while he sucked in a few irregular breaths. His heart was beating out of his chest.

"Squads: Echo and Foxtrot to Deck 3 for breaching preparations!"