Chapter VI

Shepard and her team carefully left the path to the valley and sneaked towards a small rock formation which would cover them from being spotted by the Batarians at the rear entrace. When they reached their position, Shepard looked around to study their movements around the area.

„Garrus, we're in position," she said over the comm channel.

„Confirmed, Shepard," the Turian answered. „I should be able to eliminate them without alarming anyone."

„You may start whenever you want."

He closely monitored the area to strike at the precise moment, holding the Widow smoothly in his hands. It took a few seconds, before he fired his first shot, which hit the still standing Batarian next to the door right in his head. Due to the strength of the Widow, his victim was pushed back around a meter and landed on his back.

„Now that was the easy one," Garrus mumbled to himself and aimed at his next target. This one crossed paths with another one, so he had to wait for the right moment. After a few seconds, one of them stood right beside a small descent. Garrus pulled the trigger, neutralizing his target again with a single shot. The impact made the Batarian tilt forward, so he slided down the small hillside.

Now he had to act fast, before the other one came back and would be able to spot the corpse of his comrade. His target barely came to a stand, which made him the hardest to take out. Garrus looked through the Widow's visor to follow his route. He held his breath to aim as good and steady as possible, before he fired the next shot. After nearly a second, the bullet hit the Batarian's head, making it nearly explode. The Widow was truly a powerful and deadly weapon, Garrus' favorite toy from the armory, as he once told Shepard.

One more remained, but not for too long. The hardest thing was over, the last one was basically routine for a sharpshooter with his skills. His target stopped between two trees. At the same time it was the last move in his life, a moment later another precise shot striked him down.

„All clear," he said on the comm channel.

„Excellent work," noted Shepard, „I'm glad i'm not your enemy."

„I'm sure you wouldn't be such an easy target," the Turian answered and Shepard grinned for a second.

„Keep your position, we move in now."

Shepard raised her hand and ordered the team to advance. They left their cover immediately and moved towards the backdoor at a quick pace. If those corpses weren't lying around, this would have been a really nice location with a great look at the near lake. The view reminded Jolene a bit about the lake she saw back on Elysium, where they fought the attacking mercenaries. It took them about half a minute before they arrived at the building. Shepard pressed towards the wall next to the door and equipped her Geth Shotgun.

„This could be difficult. Are you ready?" she asked Miranda and Jacob.

Miranda nodded in response, still thinking about Shepard's words regarding Balak. „If we act quickly, they won't see us coming," Jacob added.

But before Jolene could contact the Normandy, she was interrupted by Garrus.

„I think we have a problem here," he said.

„What's going on, Garrus?"

„The Batarians just led six scientists outside. They're lining them up. That's going to end ugly."

„Damn it," Shepard cursed.

A moment later Balak's voice rang out of a comm device the dead Batarian close to the backdoor had equipped. It was a message to whoever might be attacking them.

„Whoever is out there... i know you are around. Taking out our outposts silently was a smart move, too bad for you we noticed when they didn't answer our recent calls. You have two options now... You either surrender yourself or the six humans standing next to me will die in 30 seconds."

„It's either them or us," Miranda said. „They'll kill us if we surrender. And there are too much of them at the front side to start an attack on them."

„I know," Shepard sighed.

Second after second passed as the team waited for what was about to happen. „Your choice," Balak just said when the time frame ran out, then they heard a first shot over the comm device and shortly thereafter in the air.

„Damn Bastard," Shepard mumbled, closed her eyes and lowered her head for a moment, while also clenching her fist and punching it against the wall behind her. Balak shot two more of them, before Jolene grabbed the comm device and smashed it on the ground, silencing it by breaking it into several pieces. Nonetheless they could still hear the remaining three gun shots echo.

„Now or never, Commander," Jacob said.

„Agreed... Normandy, please come in. We need the position of the remaining scientists now."

„I'm hacking into the system, Shepard," answered EDI. „Found their position. They're all at one place. Once in, go right, left, up the floor, left and then right again."

„Miri, open the door," Shepard said. Miranda approached the control console besides the door and activated her Omni-tool. It took a few seconds for her to hack into the mechanism and unlock the door, so she could open it by clicking a button on the console. Shepard quickly looked around the corner and couldn't spot any enemies around.

„Follow me," she commanded and moved in.

Balak moved back and forth in front of the men and women he just shot, thinking about his next move. He hadn't expected that any intruder would show up as he requested, so he accepted killing a few humans just for the sake of it, to provoke a reaction by the attackers. Or it might have a scaring effect on anyone around, which might lead them to give up their plans. Before he could think any further, he received a message over his comm device.

„Balak, there has been a security breach. According to the system, someone hacked into the network a minute ago and used the internal sensors of the building," one of the Batarians reported.

„They're already here," he snarled loudly. „Everyone inside the building shall relocate to the hostages!"

„You three move around the outside," he said to another group of Batarians standing next to him, who were supposed to attack the intruders from behind.

„Four enemies inside, two left, two right," Shepard said to Miranda and Jacob. They meanwhile kneeled next to the door of a room connecting to the area where they held the hostages. „You take the left ones, i deal with those to the right."

The team sprinted inside the room and took position behind a few crates that served them as cover. Within a moment, Shepard aimed over one of the crates and fired at the two enemies on the right side, taking out one of them with a single headshot and putting the other one down with a handful of rounds into the chest. Jacob pulled the other two into the air with a biotic attack, so Miranda could easily kill them with a few placed shots from her SMG.

Shepard then left her cover and ran through the room, jumping over a table in the middle while doing so. She reached another door and opened it rapidly with her Omni-tool. The remaining hostages were sitting inside, huddling up on the floor, a few of them shuddering with fear. With no other enemy around for the moment, they acted fast.

„We need to get you out of here, can you move?" she asked into the room.

„Thank god... yes, yes, we're able to run," one of the women responded, obviously being relieved. „We just wan't to get out of here... these Batarians, they're horrible. They made us watch the execution on the monitors..." Miranda and Jacob helped a few of them go get up while Shepard guarded the door, so they could leave as soon as possible. „I'm sorry," Shepard said. „We'll get you out of here."

„Just follow me, i take the lead. Miranda, Jacob, you provide cover at the end... Everyone move out!" she shouted and headed outside the room and back along the same way they came in. The remaining 15 scientists followed her closely with Miranda and Jacob staying at the back.

Shepard sprinted down the corridor, holding her weapon at the ready, as one Batarian suddenly moved around the corner in front of her. She aimed quickly and pulled the trigger of her shotgun, sending three projectiles towards the enemy. All three of them hammered down into his chest a second later, tossing him straight backwards into the air. He was dead before he even smashed against the wall behind him.

The three Batarians Balak had sent around the outpost meanwhile ran in the direction of the back door, as one of them was shot down by Garrus. The other two turned around once they noticed what happened and seemed to be confused for a second. A second that Garrus took advantage of and pulled the trigger again, sending another one of them with a headshot down to the ground. The remaining one tried to resume his way and sprinted as fast as he could, but he couldn't manage to get out of Garrus' line of fire as there wasn't any cover around at all. He only managed to move a few meters before he was taken out.

„Shepard, all clear outside. Took down three more enemies," he reported.

„Well done," Shepard repeated loudly while moving down the stairs close to the back door. She noticed a group of three Batarians standing down there once they turned around a corner on the staircase and immediately started to charge up, using her biotic abilties to catapult herself towards them. She smashed right into them and the resulting biotic shockwave kicked all of them off their feet. Two of them appeared to be unconscious as they were thrown hard against the walls, the third one received another direct hit out of Shepard's shotgun at close range before he could stand up again.

Garrus kept an eye on the back door, when he spotted Shepard running out of the building, followed by the group of scientists as well as Miranda and Jacob shortly after that. He could see the first Batarians in pursuit of them once the team was about halfway down the path to the valley leading to the shuttle. Ten of them came out of the rear entrance, two other groups also moved around the outside, coming from the front. He aimed at the closest of the followers and took him down.

But with this shot, Garrus also gained the attention of the two groups of Batarians next to the building, who immediately stopped and started to fire with their rifles at his position. He could eliminate two more of them, before his kinetic barriers collapsed and he had to retreat from his spot.

„Shepard, i had to draw back," he noted over the comm channel.

„Understood. Fall back to the shuttle now."

The team also came under heavy fire by their followers now, but they were already close to the entry of the valley. Lots of bullets flew around them, some of them hit the kinetic barriers of the team. One of the scientists received a headshot and tumbled down on the ground right before Jolene as they entered the valley. She was running so fast that she had to jump to avoid tripping over him. Shepard then turned around to check the situation and saw how Miranda also received a direct hit. A projectile pierced her shoulder and made her plunge down. She shouted out with pain and Shepard moved back to her.

„Jacob, get them to the shuttle!" she shouted when she ran past him and kneeled besides Miranda, while the Batarians continued to close in on them.

„Miri, you're alright?" she asked in a concerned tone and slapped a piece of Medi-gel on her shoulder.

„More or less," she groaned. „Help me up."

Shepard grabbed Miranda's hand and helped her get up on her feet again. Following that, she put away her shotgun, picked up the Mattock from her back, activated a Shield Boost and kneeled down again to have a better aim, firing several bullets in the direction of the incoming enemies.

„Run!" she yelled at Miranda and continued to fire. She managed to take down two of them by doing so, then unleashed two biotic shockwaves at the incoming group, knocking five of them off their feet. Miranda was already a fair way off when Shepard got back up and started to follow her.

She couldn't move that far along, though. Shortly after the entrance to the valley, a grenade explosion a few meters next to her tossed Jolene sideways through the air and smashed her on the sandy ground. She tried to compose herself as fast as possible and could already spot the two nearest Batarians in the corner of her eye. Still tumbling a bit, she quickly reached for her Locust and almost blind fired at one of them. She managed to kill one, before the second one reached Jolene and fiercely knocked her back down to the ground with the stock of his weapon.