Jolene led the way and the team moved from the security room back through the corridors and up to the main floor again. Once they arrived there, they turned around and Jolene pressed herself against a wall, then took a glimpse around the next corner.
„Open space," she said. „Three Batarians to the left, two on the right side. There are a few explosive canisters next to the group of three. Your turn, Garrus."
The Turian leaned out from behind the corner, aimed with his Vindicator rifle and fired a Concussive Shot at the canisters. The high-energy charge rushed through the room and resulted in a powerful explosion when it hit it's target, throwing the Batarians in the proximity through the air. Jolene left her cover and barraged forward, while firing with her Mattock at the two other enemies. One of them sent a rocket right into her direction and she had to throw herself down on the floor to dodge it. It crashed into the wall behind her and the following blast ripped a huge hole into it.
Jolene still lay on the floor and stretched one of the Batarians down with a headshot, while Jacob pulled the other one up in the air, where Garrus finished him off with a round of bullets. Jolene quickly stood up again and saw Balak in the far distance as he entered one of the Batarian ships at the outside.
Balak for his part could see the fight inside the building and that Shepard and her team were closing in on his position. He didn't bother too much, though, as he was just entering the ship which had already started it's engines.
„Eliminate them!" shouted Balak at the remaining Batarians on the ground who didn't fit into the space of the four ships. Then he closed the door of the shuttle as it lifted off the ground, accompanied by the other vessels that were still functional.
Shepard's team continued to push forward and now had to face heavy Batarian resistance at the forefront of the building. Jolene, Garrus and Jacob crouched behind a few crates and returned fire from there.
„Cover me!" Jolene shouted at them and both Garrus and Jacob started to concentrate their fire at the Batarians. While they did that and thus kept quite a few of them in check, Jolene moved a few meters to the side, where she had a good sight at two enemies. She used her biotics to pull them into the air, making them easy targets for her companions.
Their fight lasted for two more minutes, but they couldn't make any real progress during that time. While Jolene thought about a possible strategy to break through their lines, the Orizaba's shuttles landed in front of the base, giving them a chance to press forward and pursue Balak. Their doors opened and several groups of marines trooped out and engaged the remaining enemies in a hefty firefight.
„Garrus, Jacob, move on!" Jolene yelled and started to run in the direction of one of the shuttles that just arrived. It was their chance to take up the chase. While on their way, she fired a few shots at some Batarians around the area, but also had to absorb a few hits herself. Garrus and Jacob followed her, firing bullets and biotics around the place as well. It was pure chaos now and shots flew around everywhere. When they almost reached the shuttle, Jolene's shields took some more hits and started to collapse, but she seemed to take no account of it.
„Shepard, your kinetic barrier is down!" shouted Garrus from behind her as he noticed. She tried to activate her Geth Shield Boost with her Omni-tool when she heard his words, but couldn't do it in time. Three projectiles hit her left thigh and smashed through her armor right in the middle of her sprint towards the shuttle, making her fall down to the ground. She held her leg for a moment, while showing a face twisted with pain.
Garrus and Jacob reached her seconds later and kneeled besides Jolene to cover her. She used this moment and managed to activate her Shield Boost to give her some more protection in this vulnerable state and also slapped some additional Medi-gel on the wounds.
„Garrus, help me up," Jolene said in a painful voice. The Turian grabbed her arm and assisted Jolene in getting up on her feet again. She tried to move on to the shuttle and almost tumbled down again, but Garrus catched her and stabilized Jolene on the last few meters to the shuttle. She carefully stepped inside the vessel with the help of one of the pilots and dropped her rifle to the floor, then let herself dump down onto one of the seats in there.
„Take us to the Normandy immediately," Jolene said to the pilot, who then vanished into the cockpit and fired off the shuttle's engines seconds later. As the shuttle launched, she looked out of the window on the door and could see how the remaining Batarians fell back into the outpost, whilst the marines continued to advance.
Garrus sat across from her and just stared at Shepard at this point. Her face was covered with dirt and blood due to the wound on her temple and there were also the three bullet holes on her bloody thigh. He had never seen her wounded like that before and observed her with a worried look. Jacob meanwhile kneeled next to Jolene and scanned her leg with his Omni-tool.
„The Medi-gel will help for now, but you'll need some treatment," he said.
„That can wait, we need to catch Balak first," answered Jolene.
„Dont argue with me now, Jacob."
She didn't want to discuss any further about it and instead contacted the Normandy.
„Joker, status report."
„Ah, Commander. It looks like we've missed some Batarians. Those four ships that started from the base... well, they're not alone and got company," Joker said.
„Where did they come from?"
„It appears they were waiting on another location on Terra Nova. Probably some sort of backup just in case something happens. Anyway, the Orizaba's probe didn't spot them when it scanned the area around the base," he added.
„And how many of them?"
„Ten more, so that makes fourteen in total. The Normandy and the Orizaba stand between Terra Nova and the relay, so we will face them. The Einstein is positioned a bit more in an offside position, but they're starting fighters right now."
„I doubt the Batarians want to get involved into a fight, they'll likely try to break through our lines," said Shepard. „Get the Normandy's GARDIAN systems ready and destroy as many ships as you can."
„Yes, Ma'am. Been looking forward to some target practice."
„Just don't get too excited about it. Shepard out."
Following the conversation, Joker brought the Normandy's defense systems online and maneuvered the ship into position behind the Alliance Dreadnought. The Orizaba meanwhile turned sideways and pointed her broadside towards the incoming Batarian ships.
„Get all weapons ready," said Hannah. „Let's make sure we adequately welcome them."
„Powering up weapons," her XO replied.
„Start firing as soon as they're in range," Hannah added. „I don't want any of them to get through."
„Captain, the Einstein's fighters won't reach us quite in time. They are about a minute behind."
„Understood. What can you tell me about these Batarian ships?" Hannah asked
„It's a mixture of vessels. Four shuttle-sized crafts, three frigates and the rest looks like it's somewhere in between."
A few minutes passed until the Batarian ships came into firing range and the Orizaba's mass accelerator cannons started to fire immediately at them. Hundreds of projectiles rushed through space and hit the kinetic barriers on the enemy ships. A few shots proved to be direct hits and ripped one of the shuttles apart within the first moments of the battle. The incoming ships tried to evade the Orizaba's massive fire as best as they could, while the frigates and some of the smaller ships also sent swarms of rockets and torpedoes on their way back to the Dreadnought.
„Lots of incoming missiles, Captain," the XO said.
„Concentrate defensive fire on them," ordered Hannah. „Shepard to Normandy, hold back for a few more moments. Wait for my signal to step in."
„Understood, Captain," replied Joker. „Waiting for your command."
„Whats our status?" Jolene asked the shuttle's pilot over the comm channel.
„Three minutes until we reach the combat zone. The Orizaba has engaged the enemy forces, but they're also under fire. The Normandy hasn't attacked yet."
„They certainly don't want them in between the broadside fire," noted Garrus.
„Shepard to Orizaba, we could need a pickup here."
„Confirmed, i'll send the Normandy in now," answered Hannah.
Once he got the greenlight, Joker fully accelerated the Normandy and set a course right towards the Batarian ships.
„Let's see what you make of this," he said to himself and pushed a button to activate the ships Thanix Cannon.
„You're enjoying this, don't you?" asked Miranda, who stood right behind him and observed the battles' progress.
„Partly, but yes," Joker added and pressed the fire button. „Take this!"
A bright blue beam emerged from the gun below the Normandy's bow and hit one of the Batarian frigates. The beam cut right through it's hull and caused a huge explosion in it's engine section, which pulled the ship apart into thousands of pieces. The Normandy rushed past the burning wreckage towards Shepard's shuttle, while also taking a few slight hits from the surrounding ships.
Joker brought the Normandy close to the shuttle as fast as he could and opened the hangar bay, so they could land inside. It took them a few seconds to touch down on the floor inside and Jolene quickly jumped up to open the shuttle's side door. Although she felt a lot of pain from her thigh at the moment, she tried to ignore it and set off for the elevator as soon as she left the vessel. Garrus and Jacob followed her at close range.
In the meantime Joker had already turned around the Normandy and closed up to the fleeing Batarian vessels. The Orizaba managed to take down another frigate and four smaller ships while the Normandy picked up the shuttle, but the ships had now passed the Dreadnought. Although they had to face the broadside fire from the Orizaba's other side on their way to the relay and the Einstein's fighters also overhauled them.
Except two of the smaller vessels, all other Batarian ships suddenly swarmed out to distract their followers. A few containers were dropped from the remaining frigate, which released several small mines behind the ship moments later, whereby they could take out almost an entire squadron of fighters. The other ones abandoned their pursuit right away to evade more of the mines and instead focussed on destroying the four smaller crafts in the area.
When Jolene reached the Normandy's cockpit, she had to support herself against Joker's pilot seat.
„Whoa, Commander. You don't look good," he said.
„Charming as usual. Report."
„The majority of enemy ships has been destroyed. There's one frigate trying to get away and two shuttles heading to the Mass Relay."
„Balak was in a shuttle," said Jolene. „So we'll go for them."
„Shepard, my calculations show that we are only able to destroy one of them before they reach the relay," interfered EDI. „You need to choose one."
„Can't we get any faster?"
„We're already at maximum speed. A further and slight improvement would take some time. More time than we have," the VI added. „Three minutes until we are in firing range."
„Fantastic," Jolene mumbled, not very keen about the situation. She wandered around the cockpit and took her time to think about it. „There's no way to find out on which shuttle he is?"
„No," was the only answer EDI could offer her.
The minutes passed and Jolene waited until the very last moment to make a decision. „Take out the right one," she said as she stepped next to Joker.
„Aye, Commander," answered Joker and pushed the fire button. As a result, the Normandy fired off several of it's disruptor torpedoes, which hit the Batarian shuttle to the right a few moments later and ripped it apart in a gleaming blast. The next second the other one began it's jump through the relay, but not before Jolene could hear Balak's voice over the comm channel: „Better luck next time, Shepard."
After hearing his voice, Jolene became furious at a moment's notice and punched her first at full tilt right into a control terminal on the bridge, thus breaking it's surface. Consequently, a few metal parts penetrated her gloves and injured her hand as well. She was ready to curse loudly, but held it back in front of the crew around her.
„We can track him down," said Miranda and tried to comfort her.
„That's what i said three years ago," Jolene answered and shook her head. Right now she could feel all the pain coming back again. Her leg hurt and was still slightly bleeding after the hits she received during the fight on the ground. She scratched her forehead and noticed how her view slowly became blurred again.
„I'm not feeling so well, Miri. I'll... get to the med bay," she added and tried to leave the cockpit. But she didn't come too far, began to totter after a few steps and blacked out, collapsing in the middle of the hallway and hitting hard on the floor.
Miranda hastened to her and turned Jolene on her back, while Garrus and Jacob also raced in from the CIC. Jolene had lost her consciousness, but Miranda's Omni-tool told her that she was still alive and breathing.
„Doctor, Shepard has just collapsed," she let Chakwas know over the comm channel, signaling Garrus and Jacob at the same time to take Jolene down to the medical bay.
„Understood, i'm expecting you here," the Doctor replied.
„Joker, inform the Orizaba," added Miranda, then turned around and left the cockpit. While she followed Garrus and Jacob, who carried Shepard to the elevator, Joker gazed after them with a worried look on his face. Lastly, he shook his head and turned over with his seat again to call the Dreadnought.