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Heaven Knows, We Belong Way Down Below

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It's a little windy out, enough to feel the chill in the air, but Jane pays no mind to it as she lifts her hands up, feeling the breeze lift her shirt and her hair. The sun was setting just below the ridge, ending the day. It had been a good one. She had celebrated her sixteenth birthday with her friends and family, the party lasting nearly all day. However, the urge for the open skies finally won. She stood upon her favourite hill now, letting the breeze calm her racing heart. This was her home. The wide fields and mountains her playground - her breath, her escape. Her left pinkie finger twitched, but she ignored it. It had been doing that a lot, since she was nearly seven. She had told her parents about the strange feeling, and her mother just laughed while her father just told her she was restless.

The wind picked up, nearly picking her off her feet. She frowned and looked towards the sky, praying a storm wasn't coming in. But it wasn't a storm that caught her eye. A ship was coming through the atmosphere. It wasn't very big, and while it was late in the evening, Jane assumed it was just another supplies or trade ship; it wasn't odd to have a ship or two come in late. However, as the sun shifted once more, its light caught the metal surface, and she could put a name to the ship. Batarians. 

She swore, running down the hills towards home just as the sirens started. Her lungs burned but she ran, only turning around once to spot another two ships coming down from orbit. This wasn't just a small raid; this was a full-blown battle. The whole town was a panic mess when she reached it, civilians rushing about and screaming, while their small military tried to get ready while trying to keep everyone calm. She found her parents in her home, emergency pack in one hand, and a gun in the other.

"Take these, and get Nina to the bunker," her father said, handing over the packs. 

"But dad, I can stay and fight!" She was the best marksman in her class, thanks to her dad teaching her. And while her biotics were a little wobbly, she could still give the enemy a good push. 

"No. Your job is to keep your sister safe. She cannot defend herself. Stay out from the open as much as possible, you hear me?" Her father ordered. His voice was stern, but she could see his face was ashen.

"Yes, sir."

He gave a sigh. Her mother gave them a tight-lipped smile, before hugging them both tightly. "Be safe, we will join you when we can." She went to the table and grabbed a pistol, coming back to give it to Jane. "Just in case."

Jane nodded, gripping her sister’s hand tight in hers, before stepping outside. The town was nearly deserted now, with the civilians running towards the bunker for safety. She could hear a fire fight in the distance, but it was coming closer with each second. Nina whimpered in fright, her hand nearly breaking Jane's. Jane herself took a deep breath, before taking off towards the bunkers, making sure to stay in the shadows.

The bunker was nearly five miles from the town, hidden thick in the forests that surrounded it. Biometric scanners, coded to recognise any of the colonist, but go in lockdown mode when an enemy tried to get in, secured the only way in. They made it to the forest easily enough, spotting no Batarians - and no colonist either. The forest was eerily silent, the only noise was the leaves rustling in the wind and the fire fights from the town. Something was not right; she could feel it in her bones.

"Stay close," she whispered, tightening her grip on both the pistol and her sister’s hand. There was no direct path to the bunker, but every colonist knew exactly where it was at, having memorised the location at a young age. She tried to mask her breathing and footsteps as much as possible, but her eight-year-old sister wasn't one of stealth. She grit her teeth, keeping her eyes and ears open for Batarians. They just needed to make it to the bunker.

After a few feet she stopped, head tilting. She could hear voice, indistinguishable, but there. There was a shuffle, then movement coming towards them. They only had a fifty-fifty chance of the voices being human. She motioned to Nina to get down, putting the emergency bags beside her. She dug through one of them fast, finding a hunting knife on top. She grabbed it before giving Nina the pistol.

"Shoot anything that moves, even if it's me. Got it?" Nina's eyes widened, but she nodded. Giving her sister one last looked, she moved off. She swung slightly left, making sure, if anything, to get behind the voices. However, as she moved, the voices got louder. 

"The bunker secure?"

"Yes. Nearly a hundred humans. Had to kill a few, but it couldn't be helped."

Batarians. She mentally swore, her teeth grinding with rage. The bunker was compromised, and the only place they could really hide was the cave systems in the mountains, but that was another five hours of walking. 

"Well, look what we have here." She gasped and spun, knife swinging to hit, but it was easily knocked out of her hand. "Now, none of that, human." The Batarian, an ugly thing, grasped her hair and forced her to her knees.

"Let me go!"

The Batarian laughed. "I do not think so. You are quite pretty, for a human."

"Let me go you ugly pig!"

The Batarian growled, using his free hand to slap her across the face. Pain blossomed and spots danced in her eyes. Her scalp screamed in agony, as the force of the slap would have sent her to the ground if he hadn't been holding her hair.

"I think you'll be fun breaking in." He pulled her up, and she took her chance. She slammed her fist into the closest eye, and was rewarded when he yelped and let go of her hair. She didn't even look at him, pushing off into a run back to her sister. She heard the Batarian's behind her yelling and shooting at her, and she rolled to dodge a hit coming from the back and the front. 

Her sister.

Gun held in a shaky hand, eyes wide, Jane quickly grabbed her and the packs, hauling them as fast as they could run away from the Batarians. The thick forest made shooting tricky. Nina stumbled, but Jane quickly hauled her up. They knew this forest, Jane especially, and they easily outran the Batarians. They ran until Nina stumbled again, and didn't get up. 

"Nina?" Jane bent down, moving her sister into sitting, but she groaned - in pain, Jane realised. Panic seized through her. Even in the dark, patting her sister down, she came upon the sticky mass of blood on her sister's side, and the hiss of pain confirmed it. "Shit, Nina..."

"Don't curse...mama'll be mad." Nina croaked out, chest heaving. 

Jane choked out a laugh, tears in her eyes. She rummaged through the packs, finding a med-kit. She couldn't risk light, and they were still too far from the caves. "Shut up. You never tell her anyways, you never do."

"Jane, I'm cold."

"I know baby, give me a minute." She found the medi-gel easily enough, and applied it to her sister’s side. The wound was big, too big. She swore as she wrapped a bandage around it as best as she could. They needed to get someplace safer, fast. "Hold on, chica, this is going to hurt." Slinging both packs on her back, she gently lifted her sister up. Nina groaned and buried her head into Jane's neck, biting her shoulder in a scream. Wincing, Jane took off. 

They didn't make it far, maybe a mile, when Nina groaned and went slack in her arms. Jane rushed to put her down, rushing to grab the med-kit again, but she knew it was too late. There was no pulse, no breath. Nina was gone. 

They find her three days later, outside the cave system covered in dirt and cuts, holding her lifeless sisters body. They gently take her sister and cover her with a blanket, telling her it was all right, they had her now. But it wasn't all right. It would never be. She had failed. She had gotten her sister killed. She had failed.

She would laugh, eight years later - six inches taller, hair shorter, eyes harder - when she puts a pistol between a Batarian's eyes and blows it's brains out. She becomes the Butcher of Torfan that day, but it doesn't matter. Every single Batarian on that planet was dead by her hand. That's all that mattered.