- “By God. What happened here?”
- —Jake Branden upon seeing the ruins of Ilos.
Major Jake "Trojan Six-Eight" Branden was an Alliance Marine and OATH Operative who served with distinction in the Alliance for sixteen years before being killed by Cerberus operatives on Ilos in 2184 CE. He was described by his men as a romantic idealist who fought with bravery and honor beyond measure. He enlisted at the age of fifteen, lying about his age to get in. He first served under Captain Vackillis on Nepmos. He was later transferred under the command of Sgt. Jack Morris. Along with Capt. Jonah Richardson, Pvt. Dane Marshal, and Cpl. Annabel Lee, he worked with Morris for two years before the sergeant's death in Operation Tumbleweed. During that time he became friends with Marshal and pursued a relationship with Lee, but was heartbroken when she chose Richardson over him. His relationship with Richardson turned for the worst after the incident, separating the once-good friends. After Morris died, Branden never saw any of his squadmates alive again.
He served on the Alliance Carrier, the SSV Armstrong, until 2183 CE, when, having just been promoted to Sergeant, he led a team into the Citadel to help extract civilians. His men held their positions at the C-Sec Academy for nearly six hours killing over 200 geth combined. Refusing to fall back, even when personally ordered by Adm. Stephen Hackett, his sacrifice left him with only thirteen of sixty men, but allowed over 200 civilians to be saved. For his actions, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Council Legion of Merit, the Star of Terra, and the Legion of the Hierarchy, the turian equivalent of the Medal of Honor. He was the first human to receive such an honor. He was praised as one of the heroes of the Citadel and his defense of C-Sec was briefly featured in the blockbuster film, Citadel.
His actions got him noticed by the Office of Alliance Territorial Hegemony or OATH, who hired him by faking his death, making it appear that he had died of his wounds. He served as an OATH shock trooper, first working on Eraldimet helping to put down a group of smugglers who specialized in selling stolen Prothean artifacts. The raids were successful, with Branden becoming a Major and over sixty-four-billion credits' worth of Prothean artifacts recovered. The collection, referred to as Damien's Vault, was kept secret until 2193 CE. Branden was then assigned to lead the search team sent to Ilos to look for anything of value and the hologram, Vigil. Upon arriving he reportedly got on his knees and cried in sadness at the destruction he saw. He wrote of the tragedy it was and ordered his men to be respectful and to not disturb anything they found, despite the OATH's orders. He was killed trying to protect his men three days later when he and his platoon were ambushed by Cerberus operatives who'd sent to Ilos to look for information and technology. He attempted to cover his men as they escaped to the drop ship, willingly sacrificing himself, and was killed by rocket fire after eliminating thirty Cerberus operatives.
He was finally buried in his hometown of Cairo, Egypt with a statue and a mausoleum. He lived on after death, however, with a plaque dedicated to him being placed in the C-Sec Academy and a memorial fire in the Presidium's Flame of Heroes, which was dedicated to him and all the other soldiers who died in the Battle of the Citadel. His name was written on the marble plaque along with every other soldier who earned the Council Legion of Merit.