"Come on. Old man. Just one more." The kid said over the loud vibrant noise of Afterlife. Just like all of Omega it never rested the bright lights, the noise, the roaring crowd. The galaxy was certainly an interesting place Massani thought as he stared into his empty shot glass.
"Old man?" Zaeed shot back at the young man, not even twenty but with an M-3 Predator on his belt. The kid appeared to be hispanic, but with no accent present. "Son, I have been killin' people since before you were born. Hell since before your parents were born and i'm not even fifty. How 'bout some respect for your elders?"
The look on the kid's face changed to a slightly worried tone. He had approached Zaeed about half an hour back and had asked for a war story, appearently he was working at the docks when he saw Massani get off the blasted freighter to Omega. Massani was looking for a Batarian, Co'amal Jar'Dshan some bastard on Bekenstein had hired Zaeed to take him alive. He had no clue what Jar'Dshan had done but credits were credits.
When the kid had approached him, Zaeed told him to get lost. But when he offered to buy a few drinks in exchange for a good story Zaeed had accepted and told him about his operation aiding the Alliance Military back in the Vivactan Campaigns. Zaeed had been attached to the 467th when they hit a VRA nuclear facility.
After that Zaeed left the war and last he heard it was still going on. But he didn't really care what had happened. That job had gotten him some good credits and it was fun seeing a nuclear facility go up in flames.
Zaeed looked again into the empty shot glass and then backwards toward the stage. Mainly one of the asari dancers, one of the best looking girls he had ever seen. He had his eyes on her all night wishing he had brought some credits with him to afford her twelve hundred credit a night rates.
Zaeed looked back at the kid. "So you want a story?" He asked.
The kid nodded.
"What's your name son?" Zaeed asked.
"John." He replied.
"Well then tell you what John. You buy me a shot of that Turian liquor and i'll tell you about one of my more bloody operations back on. What was that damn planet called again? Oh yeah Anhur! Nice little hot as hell garden planet. I was hired to free a slave camp that had been occupied by Batarian Na'hesit fighters aided by some Blue Suns. You interested?"
The kid nodded and put a credit chit on the bar. The turian bartender, who had been listening took a yellow vial and poured the turian liquor into the clear shot glass. Zaeed drank it almost instantly and looked back at John.
"Now where were we? Oh yeah Anhur. I went in with seven men. We had been hired by the planet's human militias back in the height of the war in 2177 and had been given the order to free a slave camp callsigned 'Hell city'. The slaves there had been manufacturing raw materials, mainly titanium for the Na'Hesit. Our orders reguarding the enemy were simple. 'Terminate...with extreme prejudice'."
Zaeed's mind started rushing back to the day eight years ago in the height of the Anhur Civil War. Anhur had been somewhat of a standout as the planet had a large population of both batarians and humans that had cooperated without bloodshed. The batarians supported slavery and had slaves. Humans didn't but when a few politicians got it through their minds that they could beat the batarians economically by destroying minimum wage and not calling it slavery war broke out.
In 2176 violence started between humans working against slaves and the batarians working to keep their slaves, the main batarian faction was known as the Na'Hesit, a group funded by a few warlords back on Khar'Shan that outmatched the human militias who started hiring mercs in response. Zaeed was one of them.
"Now." Zaeed started. "The war on Anhur was simple. Batarian Nar'Hesit funded by warlords on Khar'Shan and Blue Suns aiding the batarian bastards for hopes of a good foothold when they captured the planet. Versus a few anti slavery human militias. Kind of like the fucking American Civil War back on Earth a few centuries ago."
"You fight in that war to?" The bartender asked sarcastically with a laugh.
"Don't get wise son." Zaeed snapped back angrily "Or i'll beat you senseless and sell you to the Blood Pack." Zaeed silentlty chuckled as the turian bartender froze for a second then backed away to help his customers.
"Go on." John said to Zaeed.
Zaeed nodded and faced the bar looking at the different colored vials of booze, it reminded him of an old thing called lava lamp that his grandparents owned. And while the booze here didn't have wax randomly floating around in it, the bright neon blues, reds, greens, purples, and yellows of the alcohol when being shined on in the flashing purple hues brought out the colorful vibrant nature of the old lamps.
Still facing the bar and remembering more Massani started talking."Now Anhur's human militias hired a good deal of mercs to even the odds. Na'Hesit were ten times better funded, equipped, and much better in numbers. The Blue Suns had decided to aid the Na'Hesit in hopes that the entire human element would be run off the planet and they would get a nice cozy planet to base their operations from in the sector.
I was with a team of three mercs. We had all been promised thirty grand a person and I, being the team leader was getting fourty five. Now Hell City was occupied by two platoons of batarians and had a Blue Suns garrison of half a platoon. We estimated a LOKI mech presence of around twenty making it a damn hard job.
But that wasn't half of it. Hell City like I said was producing titanium for armor because before the war a titanium plant out in the middle of nowhere about twenty five miles away from a city. Now the plant was located near a lake formed by a two hundred foot waterfall.
Built into the cliff, from which the top had the river was the factory plant where the slaves worked. At night they went into the field to sleep in the heat in the bug infested dirt, or if you were lucky, on a dirty rag that served as a blanket.
Guard towers were every sixty yards with a machine gun turret or sniper in each. They had constant spotlights patrolling the place. There were barracks on the right side of the factory if you were in it, the river on the left. The batarian bastards would drown slaves in it about once a week. The barracks were your standard colonial moveable homes repurposed and up against a ten foot tall barbed wire fence to keep the slaves in.
The place was a nightmare, a big open field basically with machine gun turrets waiting to mow you down. Say what you want about batarians but they were smart sons of bitches. Three more teams were assualting the place, but my team got the hardest job, we had to get through the fence and cross the damned field.
Now being the infiltration team was the main reason our hirer, a Captain Durango claimed we had such a small team. But every man there knew it wasn't that a small team would decrease odds of detection, it was because nobody else had the balls to do it.
Now my team was seasoned. An L-T from the 467th, a turian commando, and this cocky bitch who was an ex N7, hell she wasn't even twenty three. We were riding in a mantis gunship for hours. Packed and hot. It was about eighty degrees in there. We were all sweating out of the heat, out of fear. Out of both. We had all seen our fair share of combat. But my team hadn't done anything like this before. None of them had. Not even Kim, who had been bragging about her op back on Zormio had done anything close to this.
In the gunship the L-T, his name was...Jamison if I remember was playing cards with the turian, Sergeant Rorchan. To be speficic it was Blackjack. I was never really to big on that game, always prefered Texas Hold 'em myself, but as I was saying they were playing poker over some cigarettes, a few thermal clips, some female salarian porn magazine, and a really nice turian dagger with some ancient inscriptions on it. Damn good looking blade.
Well anyway they were playing blackjack, swaring, and lighting up a few cigarettes, got smoke damn near everywhere just to add to the heat and then Kim walks up and wants to play. Rorchan tells her to 'fuck off' then Jamison says if she's 'willing to play strip' then she can join. That pisses the hell out of her and she flips over the damn table and starts yelling at the both of them.
Lucky for all of us that second the pilot says that we're nearing target. That's when the hell started."
Zaeed banged his shot glass on the bar as the turian, who had lost most of his attitude came over and refilled the glass. Zaeed drank down the sweet liquor and looked back at the kid. "We were dropped off half a mile away from the camp in a forest. Na'Hesit and Blue Suns had minor patrols in the area so we had to move quietly for two hours through a hot sweaty forest before we ran into a patrol of armed Blue Suns.
We had been itching for combat and there were three of the bastards. One was a turian, the other two were humans. There was one who's face I still remember to this day, some young kid blond hair, green eyes, had a split chin. Kid was no more than nineteen was wearing glasses and had a pencil stuck behind his ear either him or one of his buddies had written 'genius' on his shoulder pad.
Kid had probably been picked up from a local high school and was screwing with an omni tool through the scope of my rifle I saw some engine designs and a whole lot of numbers. The kid was standing alone caught up in his work as his buddies started walking away he was standing near the river generated by the nearby waterfall.
I actually felt bad when Rorchan snuck up behind and stabbed him in the back with the dagger then pushed him in the river. You see a lot of people die in the galaxy, but some people you know they shouldn't be in the fight and it's a shame when they are.
Now the river was a cherry red a few seconds later and the kid's body had gotten stuck on a log that had halfway fallen into the water. I remember taking a glance at it before looking back at the other two bastards who were walking away. Now at the time I had me a batarian made Terminator Rifle I picked up back on Khar'Shan about a month previous to this job. It was a good rifle if not a bit unethical by cushy asari standards, I had upgraded the scope to a thermal and added a silencer. The chemical rounds ripped through the two mercs like a chainsaw through butter. Trees got a nice paint job and Kim got a pissed look on her face. Trust me, seeing that arrogant bitch angry would make your day.
We kept walking for about an hour until the woods stopped. It was about eight o'clock by then and it was already dark. Now the woods ended at the edge of Hell City's field. About sixty yards further and you were at the fence. We noticed a gate close by with two guards.
Now we need a way to get past that gate and then Jamison starts talking with one of the most stupid ideas i've ever heard. Now thing to remember about Jamison is that he was a recon marine now those bastards have even my respect and are trained to go it alone. Appearently Jamison was the leader of a sniper platoon, so he was used to solo combat more than most recon dogs.
He had the idea to bait the Na'Hesit fighters into a goose chase. Simple plan really, he was gonna fire off some rounds at a captain he had spotted through his scope. Lure out a good part of the garrison, expose himself, then lead them through the woods staying out of sight but making sure they knew the trail.
It was risky and plain stupid but Jamison was firm on his choice. He was wearing a ghillie suit, it's an older thing that's just a light ballisticproof suit covered in foliage to blend in so he wouldn't be shown to have affiliation with the militias.
He would look like some lone shooter and say he had a relative in the camp if caught. I knew and he knew it was a damn foolish idea but hey, it was his funeral. So me, Kim, and Rorchan get into a position lying down in the dirt about thirty yards away from the fence. I was looking through some nightvision binoculars at the Blue Suns captain that Jamison said was the mark. He was sitting in a chair drinking a bottle of asari wine and yelling at some sergeant when his bottle gets shot into pieces.
He frieks out for a second and stands up as Jamison intentionally fired a few missed shots by his head and shoots the sergeant. This pisses him off and he calls a few of his men outside the fence. Brings at least ten Blue Suns and about twenty Na'Hesit out into the field when Jamison stands up, insults the captain's mother in batarian, shoots a Na'Hesit and runs into the woods. Needless to say this prompts the thirty or so force to follow and they leave the damn gate open with some private guarding it.
"Well?" John said."Then what happened?"
Zaeed looked at his empty glass, and under the influence of the drinks he had consumed as payment for the story threw it at a passing eclipse merc. The merc, a salarian fell to the ground then stood up a minute later with the aid of one of his nine subordinates he had brought. Zaeed silently chuckled as the salarian proceeded to shoot a batarian who Zaeed knew was working for Aria T'Loak thrice with the familar soft bangs of an M-3 Predator.
A second later what seemed like the wrath of God fell upon the ten Eclipse as at least two dozen turians, batarians, and humans in Aria's faction let loose the sound of avenger, carnifex, revenant, vindicator, locust, tempest, viper, and phalanx fire and painted the floor red and green with human and salarian blood that splattered and flew like rain on the dingy club floor sending dancers and drinkers panicking.
Zaeed looked away and faced John. "Now where were we? Oh right. Like I said only one private was guarding the gate. He didn't last long to say the least. Rorchan with his fancy fucking knife that was appearantly balanced for throwing threw the thing into the Blue Sun's nose, died in about five seconds, choking on his own blood. Then Kim started going on about wanting the next kill. She always needed the fucking attention.
Now anyway, with the captain out, the Na'Hesit were a bit more alert and getting ready. We knew our objective was simple. Know you remember that we had two more teams? They both had sixteen men each and we were expecting militia aid in platoon size strength. Our job was to infiltrate and take down a comm relay and a small towable SAM battery threatening air support.
It wasn't long before we spotted both and they were very convientantly far away from each other. The Comm relay was a small radio dish near the refinery and the SAM was a four missile projector on top of the Na'Hesit barracks.
Kim had the idea to get on the barracks and try to fire the missiles at the tower by hacking and overriding their lock on only protocals. Only problem was that we had to get through the heavily guarded barracks. Kim said it would be no problem in her damn arrogance and decided to progress towards it.
Now her getting caught would doom us, so we followed. The slaves didn't do anything, some just stared others made slight moans. It was sad really what the Na'Hesit had done. Don't get me wrong, I have done a lot of despicable stuff in my day. But I kill and hunt thugs, shit for brain mercs, and whoever my employer doesn't like.
But they all fight back. These Na'Hesit cowards. Seeing beaten children and women. Some men who weren't soldiers with bullet wounds. Makes you sick to think that these bastards didn't even have the balls to fight an armed opponent. But instead they preyed on the weak. And preying on the weak makes you weak.
Now, we got up to the barracks no problem and got up to the door. Kim had some adhesive napalm grenades and got ready to throw them in as we got on either side of the door. Now a minute later she kicks in the door and throws in three grenades. I smell smoke and look inside the barracks to see the place burning.
Of course now Kim has on a damn breather helmet and starts storming in shooting the place up. Me and Rorchan decided to try to boost up to the roof of the barracks. I manage to climb up using his hand as a four foot advantage on the ten foot roof and manage to get to the top. He hands up my rifle and I reached my hand out. He grabbed hold of it and I was getting ready to pull him up when a damn second later one of the watchtower guards stopped jacking off and did his job.
At least thirty turret rounds hit him in the back before I dropped him and ran for cover. Got behind a small crate and right there is the SAM. A second later Kim runs out on the rooftop and gets mowed down. Now she was hit at least seventy times and blood got all over the damn place, she didn't have a torso when the thirty second shootup was over. There was quite literally a hole the size of a roulette wheel in her chest and heart, liver, lungs, intestines, blood, even the twenty pieces of her left breast combined with melted black armor were oozing all over the roof and I was still pinned down.
Now I was pretty much fucked both ways with hell one way and tartarus the other. The thing about staying underfire is that you need to remember to stay calm no matter what. When you panic you die. I had an M30 launcher on me at the time that I got from a dead alliance corporal on the Citadel a year previously. They're getting rarer now but the great thing about them was that you could mount it to an assault rifle or fire it like a pistol.
Now by no means was this the most tense moment of my life. But it was a hard one. In a situation like this you get one chance, one shot, and one second before death. I had a single high explosive round. I loaded it, took a breath, and popped up. That machine gun fired up and hit me twice. But pulling that trigger and seeing it blow up in a high explosive fire, priceless."
"Wait. You were hit twice?" John asked Zaeed shocked.
"Son, when you're a mercenary you get hit every once in a while. I've taken over fourty bullets and at least a dozen knife wounds. Still hurts a like bitch every time though. Kind of a hard thing to get used to. So anyways, I had been hit in the lower gut twice, had minor bleeding, the whole damn base was now on alert, and I still needed to take out some targets before the reinforcements could come in.
The objective was to take down the battery and radio tower, but I had to improvise. It turned out that the base's power generator was in the barracks, locked without a chance of the fire disabling it.
Now the damn launcher was to heavy to move, but the ten pound missiles weren't. I picked up two of them and stormed into the barracks. Now the napalm was cooling off and the smell of roasted bodies was everywhere and that's not exactly nice. Now the power generator was in a locked closet. I kicked in the door threw both of the missiles in. Then I chucked a grenade in and ran like hell. Got out fast enough and jumped for the ground. The entire barracks blew up to hell and so did all electricity in the base.
That managed to confuse the Na'Hesit long enough for me to signal objectives finished. Then the cavalry came in.
I had been given a flare launcher and fired it as the Na'Hesit were scattering to regroup. After that I ran like hell to cover behind a crate full of smuggled eezo. Always feels weird being near that shit. Now about two minutes later, I started hearing explosions, screaming, and gunfire as two Mantis gunships started spraying the place up.
It's a beautiful sight really seeing Blue Suns and Na'Hesit run like it's judgement day as high velocity rounds rain on them sending blood and body parts everywhere, just beautiful. I remember batarians screaming and crawling for somewhere to hide leaving behind a trail of blood.
It was goddamn glorious. Seeing those slaving bastards getting what they deserved. About two minutes later the dropships land and a few mercs step out, mainly small time mercs. But two teams of sixteen as expected. Most of them were green horns or two credit enforcers from Omega, Illium, Cao'Sackia, or the Citadel but thirty two reinforcements are still a good thing at all times.
I walked up and identified myself to the commander of both teams, this krogan named Gatatog Ackor appearently a former Blue Sun himself. He informed me that he picked up Jamison's corpse in the woods shortly after he had been caught and killed by firing squad. And as well it turned out that we were getting more reinforcements in from the militias that had hired us as they now wanted to hold Hell City against a Na'Hesit counterattack they had detected within the last twenty minutes that had an ETA of two hours and that unless we aided in this defense, we weren't getting paid."
Zaeed kept remembering the day and shook his head before starting to talk again. "About thirty minutes later a few dropships arrived carrying militias and evacuating slaves. We got about seventy soldiers as reinforcements from the militias, one Captain Durango, the main who had hired us had actual military armor, a suit of heavy Liberator Armor made by Devlon Industries. The rest were wearing homemade armor or civilian clothes with insignias. The weaponry wasn't much better either. Durango had a Diamond Back rifle, damn fine gun issued to Alliance special forces. But most of his men had hunting shotguns, self defense 'magnum' hunting pistols, and some Vapor Rifles, now a Vapor Rifle was a damn fine weapon that in it's day had my approval.
It was made by Vapor Industries back in '61 when I had a full head of hair and Omega was a little town with a well. I used one for a while and so did a good bit of mercs and Alliance. It was a solid inciendiary rifle that did every once in a while overheat but still worked well I remember back in '62 on Nazatha where I was hired to take out a Cardinal from the Catholic church who had come all the way from Earth to meet with the colonie's turian governer to promote good relationships between humans and turians who shared the planet in large numbers. The Terra Firma party paid good money to take the guy out, and the Vapor Rifle did a hell of a job in making hell visit the good Cardinal in the back of the head from four hundred feet, goddamn good rifle.
Now they have fallen out of useage in the past twenty or so years, but you can still see the occasional one of them in some thug's hand or in a pawn shop. Now the rifles the militia was using had no scopes and fired semi-automaticly to conserve the weapon's power battery. They were cheap and second hand but still damn fine weapons.
We dug in for about an hour and a half before snipers started firing on Na'Hesit scouts. About twenty minutes later, we had four hundred Na'Hesit inbound it turned into one hell of a tango to say the least.