Chapter VIII

While Eta squadron was still busy with providing security for the cockpit of the Normandy's destroyed shuttle, Alpha squadron rushed down towards the science outpost to start it's attack run at the Batarians on the ground.

„Everyone focus on the ships first, we need to keep them on the ground."

„Roger, Alpha leader."

As soon as they came into firing range, they started to fire off their guns and rockets at the landing place next to the base. On the ground, a bunch of Batarians ran away from the ships as they spotted the attackers and the first rockets striked their targets, resulting in a few huge blasts. Wreckage and Batarians alike were slung through the air by the explosions. After having unleashed their first attack, the fighters raced along the sky over the base, moving into position for another approach. Meanwhile a few Batarians made use of this short timeframe and manned stationary guns on the ground which they build as well as in the remaining ships and returned fire at the Alliance fighters.

„Incoming fire from the ground, evasive maneuvers," the Alpha leader ordered.

While the fighters tried to avoid this slightly defensive fire, the Batarians had another card up their sleeve. Four hatches on the outposts roof opened and from each of them another turret emerged. They automatically started to aim at the fighters right away and unleashed their heavy fire at them.

„Orizaba, this is Alpha leader, you didn't mention any turrets on the base itself. We're under heavy fire here."

While he contacted the ship, the fighter flying next to him was hit on it's engines and immediately began to spin towards the ground. The pilot couldn't manage to bail out fast enough and the vessel crashed into one of the hills at the south side of the base, bursting into thousands of pieces.

„Alpha leader, those turrets aren't on the construction plans we received," the Orizaba's XO responded.

„Must be top notch technology, they're utilizing rapid fire..."

Before the squad leader could add another sentence, one more fighter was shot down from the sky and dropped down into the shimmering lake. It's pilot managed to get out shortly before the impact and started to swim towards the shore as soon as he landed in the water.

„Shit, one more down! Those turrets give us hell!"

„Alpha, Eta, abort mission and return to the Einstein," commanded Hannah.

„Understood, everyone back to base," he said and the fighters moved back up into the sky.

„They're retreating. It seems they were surprised by those turrets," one of the Batarians inside the base said to Balak.

„Excellent. How long until we have access to the security room?"

„We're almost there. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes."

„Good," Balak replied. „We need those files as soon as possible so we can get out of here. They certainly won't leave it at that. How many ships are still operational?"

„Four in the landing area. The other ones are destroyed or too severly damaged to use them."

„Prepare them for launch, so we can get away when we have what we want," he said. „And keep your eyes open, i don't want any surprises."

The other Batarian nodded, then picked up his rifle from a near table and rapidly headed out to the landing zone.

„Jolene, can you hear me?" Hannah asked on the comm channel.

„Loud and clear," she replied. „We're moving in through the hills again. Saw one fighter crashing down not far from us.."

„Yes, we lost two fighters in the attack. It seems there are some turrets that aren't mentioned on the construction plans. We guess they must have been installed only recently. You need to shut them down before we can drop down any troops close to the base."

„We'll do. What about our shuttle?"

„The Normandy has picked up what's left of it, not really much more than the cockpit. One scientist and Miss Lawson in there. They're alright."

„Glad to hear... Shepard out," Jolene said, before she turned to Garrus and Jacob. „Let's step on it and finish this."

It took them about six more minutes before they closed in at the back entrance of the outpost again. This time there weren't any Batarians within sight. At least no alive ones, though the corpses from their first attack were still spread around the area. The team carefully approached the door and positioned right in front of it with their weapons at the ready. But before they moved in, Jolene activated her Omni-tool to look on the map for the security room.

„Okay, both of you stay behind me, i'll lead the way," she said. „I guess we can expect some heavy resistance. Also keep an eye on our rear side, i don't want them to stab us in the back."

„Understood, Shepard," Jacob replied, while Garrus just nodded.

„Let's move," said Jolene and opened the door. Once it was open, she carefully looked around the corner, but no Batarian was visible inside. She slowly stepped in, followed by Jacob and Garrus, and moved to the left side of the main floor. They passed several corridors without any contact with the enemy, before they reached a staircase.

„We have to move downstairs to the next level," she quietly noted and led the way again. They tried to avoid any loud noises, but then Jolene lifted her hand to give Jacob and Garrus a signal to stop. She had spotted two Batarians in the middle of the floor they needed to take to reach the security room. After quickly equipping her Locust, Jolene launched a biotic pull at them, lifting them right into the air. Following her attack, the team moved into the corridor and Jolene fired several shots at the two Batarians, taking them out silently.

After passing another couple of corridors, they reached the security room area. Shepard leaned towards the wall and looked around the edge. She could see that the door to the room was open, but there weren't any Batarians in sight. A few seconds passed, before she grabbed her Mattock and moved towards the room. They slowly entered it with their weapons at the ready, but it was empty. Jolene lowered her gun and walked over to the control terminal inside, taking a look at the logs, while Jacob and Garrus still kept their eyes open.

„Dammit, we're too late. They managed to download the files," Jolene cursed.

„The Alliance won't be very happy with that," noted Jacob.

„It's not over yet," added Jolene and turned away from the terminal. Just as she wanted to move back to the door, it suddenly closed and a Batarian stepped in front of it. Upon taking a closer look through the small window embedded into the door, she could see that it was Balak. He hit a button next to the door, so he could speak to the team now trapped inside the room.

„Shepard... So we meet again," he said, apparently amused by the situation.

Jolene didn't say a word, but raised her rifle and fired ten shots right in the direction of his head, but the thick glass was able to hold off all the projectiles.

„Son of a bitch, get in here so i can beat the shit out of you!" Shepard shouted, sounding very furious in this moment.

„Maybe at some other time, because i have to leave now," Balak noted. He showed a sardonic grin on his face and waggled the data disc he obtained in front of the window, provoking Jolene even more.

„See you next time," he added, then stepped away. Following that, Shepard moved back and forth in the room, thinking about what to do next so they could get out of their lock-up as fast as possible.

„Captain, we just lost contact with the team on Terra Nova," the Orizba's XO reported to Hannah.

„Where were they?"

„Inside the base, but their signal just disappeared moments ago."

Hannah looked worried, but made short work. „Send the marines in."

„I hope these turrets aren't active anymore," the XO mentioned.

„Then avoid them! Tell them to touch down a bit offside if they have to, but just get those marines down there."

„Aye," he confirmed and gave the already prepared shuttles in the Orizaba's hangar bay the start signal.

Meanwhile Jolene tried to unlock the security room's door with the help of her Omni-tool and the control terminal, but somehow Balak had been able to deactivate the whole locking system, thus making it impossbile for her to find a quick way out in this manner. She smashed her fist at the terminal once she realised it and decided to use a more raving method.

„Then we'll do it the hard way," she mumbled and grabbed her rocket launcher from the back. „Get some cover, guys."

Jacob and Garrus quickly knocked over a table in the medium sized room and ducked behind it, while Shepard was standing behind the control terminal. She aimed at the door and fired off a rocket. The impact caused a shockwave that almost resulted in her being rushed off her feet. The door itself was damaged, but still not open, so she hit the trigger again and sent a second rocket on it's way. Another explosion occured and this time it finally teared out the heavy door out of it's wall mounting.

Before they eventually moved out of the room, Jolene used the control terminal again to deactivate the turrets on the roof. Balak obviously overlooked that they would be able to do this from down here, so she had no major problems while doing so. Once outside, she was also able to use the comm channel again.

„Orizaba, this is Shepard."

„Thank god," Hannah replied. „What happened down there?"

„We were trapped inside the security room, which blocked our comm channel. The Batarians have the files from the main computer."

„I've already sent the marines, they should arrive soon."

„I'm afraid they won't be here in time," Jolene said. „We'll try to stop them."

„No heroics, please," Hannah noted. „We can intercept them once they started."

„I'll deal with his myself. I won't step back and give them a chance to escape. Not again."

„Alright," sighed Hannah. „But keep your eyes open."

Having finished her talk, Jolene plugged a fresh thermal clip inside her Mattock and headed back towards the stairway they passed though before.

„Come on, we've got something to do."