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The Hive
The Cerebrate Marine
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Author: deadfast
I stepped aside so the Siege tanks support bracket didnt crush my booted foot when it went into siege mode. It had taken everything we had-even our SCVs as a distraction- to break the zerg blockade. Now we were sieged up and pummeling the last hatcheries and other smaller buildings I couldnt identify. The zerg feebly tried to hatch new drones from the hatcheries, but they were pounded by the splash damage of our tanks. Some stragglers may have escaped, but they can do nothing without the guidance of their Cerebrate. But the Cerebrate seemed immortal. Every time we riddle it with holes with our rifles and blow its flesh to pieces with the tanks arcilite fire, it re-spawns before our very eyes. We even nuked it once to no avail. So I stood guard next to the sieged up tank and watched it blow the Cerebrate to smithereens only to reappear again in the same spot. Before long all the creep had wasted away and vanished save for the 12 foot circle that the Cerebrate continued to reincarnate upon. Finally, with our ammunition running low (and not to mention our patience) our commander ordered us to cease. The speaker crackled in our headsets, "I'm stumped boys', anyone got an idea? Im open to suggestions." Many offered their ideas. A firebat suggested pouring vespene gas on it and burning it, an SCV recommended building a giant command center and landing it on the cerebrate to mush it into the ground- a whole range of crazy and lame ideas floated around until I finally spoke up. "Why dont we just kill it again and run into its place before it can reincarnate again?" "Now you've really flipped your lid," an SCV next to me said into his microphone. "I dunno, I sorta like the idea," spouted a firebat out of my view. "Whatever we do, we hafta report it to Command first," interrupted an impatient siege tank operator. When we radioed this in to our general, the commander didnt sound to happy, and after telling him all our ideas I was surprised to find that he wanted to try mine, but not so surprised when everyone chose me to be the one to run up the cerebrates spot. "It's your idea, so you can take the risk," they argued with me. At last, I conceded defeat and I moved as close to the Cerebrate as I dared, ready to run into its place when it exploded into another bloody fountain of gore. I gave a nod to my comrades, and the marines opened fire on the Cerebrate again. The siege tanks had to hold their fire because the massive splash damage of an arcilite shock cannon was enough to bake me alive in my own armor. The Cerebrate began bleeding profusely and its thick carapace started to flake away with the heavy fire of the marines Gauss Rifles. I stimmed myself so I could reach the spot faster when it died. As the Cerebrate collapsed in a bloody pile, I sloshed as quickly as I could manage through the thick muck and foul burnt flesh to the center of were the Cerebrate once stood. I waited for the Cerebrate to reincarnate with me inside it but nothing happened. The silence now was eerie compared to the deafening gauss rifles blazing away just a few seconds ago. The Cerebrate usually only took a few seconds to reappear before our eyes, but close to four or five minutes passed uneventfully. A few soldiers lowered their rifles in confusion and looked around for something to happen. And something did happen; only they couldn't see it. I heard a faint ringing in my ears, and my vision blurred a little. "Hey! I dont feel so hot..." I called out to my friends. "I cant see so well, and I think I'm starting to get a headache." My Sergeant looked slightly concerned, "Good job, Chuck. I think that did the trick. I'm sure its a lot of fun standing in a two foot puddle of shit and blood, but you better get outta there, now." I nodded my approval and started to step out of the muck. Before I could take the first step, the ringing exploded into vicious snarls and trumpeting roars that sounded like mountains crumbling, and I fell to my knees and pressed my metal-gloved hands on the side of my helmet, trying to silence this onslaught of terrible sounds, but it was no use. Sarge was startled with my new behavior and spoke up, "Whats your major malfunction, Bates?! Get outta there!" "You dont hear that?!" I replied over the freight train in my head. Sarge was getting impatient, "Hear what?!" He waved a pair of marines over to him "I think that muck is getting to his head. Somethings amiss here; go get him outta that stuff!" The two marines did as they were told and started wading into the mess. I tried to get shakily to my feet and meet them halfway-I have a lot of pride and I didnt want to have to be carried back home even though I didnt get physically injured. Suddenly, my vision went completely black and all sounds ceased, save the roaring. I had a faint recollection of falling face first, unconscious, into the bloody muck and the Marines rushing in to pick me up by the wrists, then nothing. Some vision returned, but instead of seeing a scarred battlefield with squads of Marines, firebats, and Siege tanks, all I could see was a few broken images of the some of the strange zerg creatures. I saw a small crab-like zerg with a flat body-I could recognize it as a drone. Then a few pictures of various warrior breeds that we had fought to destroy in the past 8 months flashed by my eyes. I could recognize them all now, Zerglings, Hydralisks, and even a few of the terrible Ultralisks that plagued us since we arrived on this blasted planet. Then I could see the battlefield again-but not with my own eyes. I was seeing an aerial view of the battle field, as if I was watching from one of those fat, puffy overlords. I could see Sarge shouting orders at the two marines and a few medics ran over to them after they dragged my limp body out of the slime. They proceeded to treat me as best they could from what I could see. They loaded me onto a dropship and the siege tanks unsieged and the marines filled into formation. Then the whole posse started marching north, back toward our home base. Apparently, the Cerebrate had been destroyed finally and we were going home for a long deserved rest. I was content, as much as I could be in my unconsciousness, that I could contribute a key role in destroying the immortal cerebrate. The last thing I remember was a view of the army clearing the next hill and disappearing on the other side and that horrible sound, the rumbling, roaring sounds...
...I awoke to a pounding headache and a medic flashing a small light in my eye. "Good Morning, Sergeant Bates," she wafted out to me. "Did I go out drinking last night or something?" I said groggily. Her soft voice and pretty smile eased my headache a little. I shook my head. Was I hearing right? Sergeant?! The Medic read the confused look on my face and answered my question before I could ask it. "Yes, Sergeant. The commander promoted you from corporal for your part in killing the Cerebrate. Isn't that great?" "I guess so," I replied hazily. "But why, all I did was stand there." She looked surprised at my comment, "Well, you were injured badly, even if it wasnt physical. You've been in and out of a coma for nearly two weeks!" I almost jumped out of the bed I was in, "Wow! Have I really been out that long!?" She laughed at me and a buzzer went off in another room and she got up to answer the holophone. I rubbed my eyes again, trying to clear my still-blurry vision when the medic came back. "That was command; they are glad to hear you're alive and apparently in good shape. They expect you in uniform and in the war room in an hour." Man, they sure weren't wasting any time putting me back to work. I found a neatly ironed sergeants uniform and even a shiny new power suit in the locker bay with my name tag on it-Sergeant Chuck Bates.

I stood outside the war room door and sighed. I had passed the door a hundred times before and every marine knew its location a week after boot camp. But now I was one of those sergeants who would go inside and make decisions and be given orders that I was to carry out to my own squad of troops that I was responsible for. I tried not to grin as I strode proudly through the door into the war room. I looked around at about 20 other sergeants like me, not to mention four captains, two Battalion Commanders, and the General. I noticed my old Sergeant, also in a shiny new power suit. But his was one of a Master sergeant. Apparently, he had been promoted too. The general looked up from some official looking papers and noticed me for the first time. "Ah! Welcome Sergeant...err, ummm," he paused to peer over his glasses and across the table to my nametag. "Bates! Ah yes, welcome Sergeant Bates. We are glad to have you among us this morning. Please have a seat. We were just about to discuss your first mission as a Sergeant." I took an empty seat at the far end of the table. The General spoke something inaudible to a few of the Captains closest to him. "Sergeant Bates," spoke the general, "It appears that our battle in this sector is far from finished. The Protoss have become more and more aggressive in the past week, and our forces will be hard pressed to hold our perimeter. And to make matters worse, our resources are already low after battling the zerg infestation to the south. But the zerg left substantial amounts of resources untouched in the area that should be within easy reach of a days travel. I want you to accompany a squad of marines and Space construction vehicles to the new mining site and prepare the way for a secondary expansion. Our very survival in this sector may depend on your success in this mission. A fleet of four of our Wraith fighters will escort your dropship to the mining site. Your dropship is loaded and awaiting you in the Starport Launch bay. Good luck, Sergeant Bates, were counting on you!" And with that I was hurried out of the room towards the Port Bay by a couple of husky MP's.

The dropship Hovered only a foot off the steel mesh floor with the ramp down awaiting my arrival. As I grabbed my pack and approached the back of the ship, I could see 6 Marines and an SCV were crammed into the cargo hold-with barely enough room for me. The Marines and I exchanged nervous nods as I stepped up the ramp. "Is this everybody?-Usually they send at least a dozen marines with siege tanks and medics and the whole works when we expand to a new mining site." The guy in the SCV spat to one side, "Nope, watcha see is watcha got. The Protoss are taking a bad toll on our ranks. Not much left, everyone is busy keeping the them behind our front lines." I nodded. No sooner had I strapped in than the dropship's turbine engines whined to life and the back cargo door slid up with a metallic drone of electric motors. The dropship started out with a jolt and I soon heard the firing of four wraith Jet engines that were our escort. "In transit, HQ!" came the same boring confirmation message from the dropship pilot. I looked out the small port window to our base and remembered my aerial view of the army from the eyes of an overlord. The two views didnt differ that much, now that I thought about it.
'I hate dropships' I thought as the ship rumbled off towards the new mining site. The SCV got my attention and beckoned me over to him. He activated a small screen and began briefing me about the layout of the new mining site. "The mineral fields are located here," he pointed to a blue blip on the screen, "And there are two vespene geysers here, one of them is nearly depleted but the second is in good condition. Take note of the cliffs surrounding the area-they'll provide some cover. But there is an opening here-" he pointed to a break in the line of protective cliffs. "How many minerals have we been afforded for this mission?" I felt big and important saying that. "Only 900 Minerals and not a fumes' worth of vespene" I nodded and was about to say something else when a red light flashed and an alarm went off. Two of the marines had nodded off and they woke with a start at the alarm. I spoke up, "Pilot, whats the situation?" The pilots voice crackled into my headset, "Protoss fighters, Sir! Three Corsairs and an observer approaching from the northeast!" A scream of Jet engines could be heard as our brave wraith escorts moved to engage the corsairs. We strained to see out the tiny window and saw the wraiths cloak and start firing Gemini missiles at one corsair at a time. The observer was there-but we couldn't see it. The Corsairs began picking off our wraiths easily with their upgraded weapons. The marines, SCV and I watched in horror as first one, and then two and three of the wraiths plummeted to the ground. Two corsairs were left and only one wraith. "Were not gonna make it!" the pilot crackled into my headset. Great, I thought, my first mission and we were already as good as dead. Suddenly, a static ridden transmission crackled in, "Proceed to the mining site! GO! All our lives depend on those minerals!" Without so much as a farewell, another scream of struggling jet engines could be heard, and I jumped to the opposite window in time to see the wraith leading the corsairs away and out of view of our dropship. The brave pilot had sacrificed his life to save ours, not to mention the lives of everyone back home who were depending on the minerals we were to capture. A long silence fell, except for the whine of turbine engines. The pilot broke the silence, "Protoss units out of range of radar, sir...we lost them." "Proceed to the mining site, we've got a job to do," was my grim response. I plunked down in my seat and let my head drop to my hands. I silently wished God speed to the noble wraith pilot....

...There came an image of sand I was seeing through another beings eyes again. I'm starting to get used to this, I thought in my dream. I used whoever's eyes it was to look around. I could see our dropship in the distance, steadily rocketing towards whatever I was looking through. I could sense others like me near, yet...hidden. The being I was seeing through suddenly took control again and apparently decided to stay with his buddies and hide, vanishing into the sand. I was curious as to what this thing was when a voice was calling me, it seemed very faint and far said an S word that hissed into my dream, sssssss.... Saarrgee...

..."Sarge? Sarge?! Wake up, Sarge, were here!" One of the marines was shaking me to life again as the dropships engines dropped in pitch. We were landing. The dropship hit the sand with a swooshing sound and the engines quite altogether. The drone of the electric motors sounded again and the ramp swung down to the sand. I started down the ramp first and took a look around at the new mining site. I could see fields upon fields of glowing blue minerals rising out of the bland red sand and the puffs of green gases from the vespene geysers close to the minerals. The majestic cliffs surrounded us except for one break were land units could travel in and out. "Good luck, gentlemen. Keep us posted," came another crackled message from the pilot. The dropships' engines whined again as it lifted off and roared back toward home. Suddenly, I recognized this as the same place were I helped kill the Cerebrate. The Cerebrate and its twelve foot circle of creep were complety gone now-musta got eaten by the critters, I thought. "Are you gonna stand and look all day or are you gonna give me orders?" The SCV snapped me out of my sight-seeing. "Oh yeah! Eeer, ummm... well I suppose defense is the most important virtue right now," I said, looking at the opening in the cliffs. "Begin construction of two bunkers to plug off that gap," I looked to the marines, "Escort him there and man the bunkers once he finishes." "Yessur!" came the swift responses from the marines and the SCV. I watched as the SCV placed the foundation for the first bunker and began adding a makeshift framework for the walls. "Jobs Finished!" he called out proudly as he sanded down the last weld in the wall. Three of the six marines filed in the bunker and made themselves comfy. The SCV started another bunker, identical to the first. The same process was repeated and then the SCV returned to me for new orders. "700 minerals remain, should I start the command center now?" "Go ahead," I said and watched again as the Hard-working little guy laid another bigger foundation for the new command center. I felt relatively safe behind the protective bunkers, until a marine's panicked voice broke the calm: "Aw hell! Protoss units approaching from the north!" came the crackling message. I turned in time to see the enemy zealots rush to meet our bunkers. The marines opened fire long before the zealots could reach them, but had only hit blue plasma shields. The zealots squealed as they tore into the bunkers while the frightened marines fired out at them. I began firing with my own gauss rifle, pelting one of the shieldless zealots with heavy fire. We fought bravely, but it wasnt enough. The bunkers were reaching a critical condition and the marines abandoned the flaming wrecks. The marines fired while backpedaling wildly away from the zealots, I ran too, in fear of their terrible blades of light. The zealots were faster and starting picking off the slowest of us. Marines screamed into their headsets as the blades parted their limbs and tore easily through their power suits. They got first 2, then 4 four marines; and we had only killed six of them. We backed up until we hit the wall of a half finished command center. "They're all around us!" yelled a marine next to me. I thought quickly and yelled out a command to my remaining troops. "Single out one at a time, we can kill them faster!" The remaining two zealots were surprisingly strong. I ordered the SCV to stop building and help up fight. Another marine went down under the painful blades. The SCV scooted around the command center and tackled one of the zealots with his puny fusion cutter. The zealots were distracted by the new threat and that gave me and "Bill"-as my last marine's name tag read-enough time to stim up and blast one of the zealots to the ground. The SCV wailed out in agony as the last zealot cut him in pieces. We fired again and the final Zealot and SCV both died at the same time. We were both panting heavily from fear and the stim pack when we finally stopped firing. The marine looked long at the zealot body laid across the broken SCV. Suddenly, he exploded into a wave of fury, "NO! Not Phil! You Bastard!!" He yelled and blasted the dead zealot with his gauss rifle again until the trigger just clicked coldly from a lack of ammunition. I turned from the bloody scene in disgust. Then, we both realized our pathetic situation. "Uh-oh..." The marine said, pointing to the half finished command center. "We only have three hundred minerals left, no SCV, and a half finished command center. We'd better radio command, and prepare them for bad news"
"What do you mean you can't send another SCV?!" I yelled into my headset. Command was in despair when I gave them the message. "We are under heavy attack, and all available personnel are at the front lines or dead." Bill looked at me and said, "Things arent going good, are they?" I shook my head and threw my headset to the sand in frustration. "And were stuck here with no backup, ain't we?" Bill asked. "Right again," I replied as I slumped down in the sand, leaning against our half a command center. This was going to be all my fault. My home base had counted on me, and I failed. Now everyone would fall to the Protoss in a matter of days-And I could do nothing about it except sit here and wait for the end. "I wish I had a command center or at least another SCV." I closed my eyes and wished with all my will, with my very soul, that I could start another command center and build an army to help my friends. All of a sudden, Bill started prodding my shoulder, breaking my desperate day dream. "What?" Bill only put a finger to his lips to hush me and pointed to the sand in front of us. Indeed, the sand began to move and shift upwards, as if something were trying to unbury itself. Then, one of those zerg drones came into view. And if that wasnt strange enough, it had the same color carapace as I had armor-blue. "Shoot it, Sarge! I'm all out of ammo," Bill whispered. I replied, "Wait, were as good as dead anyway, lets watch and see what it does. A single drone cant hurt you." Bill started to protest, but the fight soon ran out of him. Apparently, he was just as curious as I was. We both watched silently as the drone did...nothing. It just sat there and stared at me. After a while, Bill grew brave enough to reach out and touch it. "Weird, it doesnt have soft skin. It's got a hard outer shell-like a beetle," Bill reported his find. For nearly two hours we patiently watched the drone, and still it just sat there gaping at us. Maybe it doesnt know what to do anymore without its Cerebrate, I thought. Another hour passed and I became bored with the drone and began to drift off again, thinking of a shiny new command center. Then like last time, Bill prodded my shoulder again, "Sarge, its movin'!" I looked up and the drone was scuttling across the sand. I became interested in the drones new activity, but as soon as I did it stopped again, 20 feet away, and stared back at us. "Why does it keep doin that?!" Bill yelled. He thought a moment and said, "I gots an idea! Go back to what you were doing and maybe itll start again." "Worth a shot, I guess," was my reply. I watched the drone and remembered the wish for my shiny new command center. The drone sat there for a second, and seemed to snap out of a trance. It scuttled close to the minerals, about even with the geysers and the minerals resources. It circled around a little bit, like a dog trying to find the best position to fall asleep in, and then it seemed to lay down in the sand. It stared to bubble over with fluids pumping out of pores on its back. Tentacles started growing and covering the drone. It swelled and bubbled like a big squid. Soon it was the size of an over inflated beach ball. Bill taped me yet again and pointed to the resource indicator on my suit. I looked down, "What the hell?! The 300 minerals are gone! This thing must be on the fritz!" I forgot all about the resources when I looked back at the drone. The thing was easily twice the size it was when I last looked at it. It was growing at an accelerated rate. Bill and I stood up now; ready to break into a run at any second. Bills eyes grew as big as grape fruits as the thing became nearly the size of a small bus. It just kept swelling until it looked like it was going to burst. Bill chuckled half heartedly, "I think it ate something that didn't agree with it and got acid-indigestion." I said, "I think so too, and I also think it's about to loose whatever it ate. Lets step behind cover just in case it throws chunks." Bill and I moved around to the back side of the command center and looked back out at the thing the drone had become. Soon the bag stopped growing, and it just swelled up like it was ready to bust. Purple ooze showed here and there on it. Some of the ooze squirted out in all directions and we took cover. "She's gonna blow!!" Bill yelled sarcastically. Suddenly, we heard a sound like someone dropping a swimming pool of pudding on cement and I saw pieces of the purple stuff fly overhead past our command center. I could hear the splatter in my mind as well as with my ears. I wiped some of the purple stuff off my suit, "I think its done exploding; lets go see what happened to the poor sap." I started to walk around the corner but the sight of a zerg hatchery with creep spewing out the sides knocked me back on my ass, "Holy shit!" Bill laughed at me, but soon realized what I fell back for and used the same choice words I did. We stared at it in awe a minute, amazed that such a small creature could turn into something so big, so fast. It towered above our half constructed command center. It had creep flowing out, slower now, in a steady, even circle around it. It had spikes on the top, with a hint of blue running down the sides. Three little worms seemed to crawl out of nowhere, and began aimlessly creeping around the hatchery. Bill chuckled again, "Heh heh heh, looks like you got yer command center after all, even if it IS a zerg command center." I laughed too. It was a good joke, but it didnt ease the pain of defeat any. "Even if it was a command center, we dont have any SCVs to gather more minerals with, nor any minerals left to build one with," I said, remembering the busy SCV's running back and forth gathering the wonderful resources. As if on que, the sand shifted in five spots, and 5 drones unburied themselves from their hiding spots. My mouth hung open as they shook the sand off themselves and scuttled to the minerals and began scratching and clawing away at them until small pieces broke away. They carried the pieces back to the big hatchery, and began stock piling them there. I looked down at my mineral indicator and it read 40 minerals! Bill noticed this too and spoke up, "Ummm, Sarge? I know I'm not the brightest bulb on the string, but I think you have control of them!" I thought about this a minute. Bill had a point, every time I thought of something; the drones seemed to know it. "Hm, I think youre right Bill. But what good does that!! If the zerg can fight so well, why not use them against the Protoss! It's crazy, but its a chance to save our base and all our friends!" Bill nodded in approval of my idea. "We dont have much time, the resources are running low at our base, and the Protoss push our front lines back with every attack. I must know how these zerg work, and fast!" I opened my mind to the drones, to the hatchery and the creep. I willed to know all that the zerg know. At first nothing came, then it ALL rushed in. I feel to my knees in the sand, as the endless information poured in, dwarfing the memories of all my life. My vision vanished, and I saw the very creation of the zerg, how the Overmind had first come to bring the small, petty drones under his control, guiding them, assimilating other beings to defend itself and its minions. I..Knew...ALL.....I became lost in it-thankfully; a strange alien voice called me back..."Sarge!! Sarge! Whatsamatta with you?! Falling asleep on the job again?" I opened my eyes. Bill was standing over me. "Well? Did it tell you anything? What do we gotta do?" I sat up, feeling much like I did when I woke up in the Medical Ward only earlier this morning. "We need a new overlord." "What?!" Bill asked impatiently. I stood and cast my will for more control toward the hatchery. One of the worms stopped abruptly and preformed the same act the mutating drone did, only a miniature version. Soon it swelled up and exploded and a new overlord hovered into the air above the hatchery. I looked up at my new creation. When I thought of it, a picture of all it saw ran through my mind. It and I could see forever, past the farthest horizon, and hidden things couldn't fool the keen eyesight of the overlord. Now I cast my will again at the hatchery and three new eggs brewed up from the creep. Bill noted my work, "Wow! Sarge, you're really getting the hang of this." I smiled at Bill's complement as I sent the new drones to gather more resources. I continued to spawn drones until more would only hamper the mining. Then, I became aware that I needed a new structure, a spawning pool-as my new memories told me. I willed for a drone to create one of these "spawning pools". Upon thinking of it, one of the drones stopped its gathering duties and obediently crawled across the creep and started another of the strange mutations. When the new creature/structure burst free into the world, I also became aware of the availability of a new minion. But I had no time for new warriors yet. I instructed two drones to create more hatcheries-tech buildings could come later. I needed an army, and I needed it fast.
"Do you think they're ready?" asked bill as I oversaw my new army. I stood atop a low cliff, staring at the vast numbers that carpeted our small valley, making it crampt. The zerglings crowded together in packs up front-closest to me. Then behind them the hydralisks quarreled playfully amongst themselves. An occasional ultralisk could be seen towering above all the ground units. Mutalisks circled in the air, and guardians hovered lazily-watching their frantic air-borne brethren. Above them all, overlords watched and guarded. They helped to disperse my every thought to the ravenous brood. Indeed, it was incredible that such a huge throng of warriors could stem from that one hatchery, and yet they could all be commanded in an instant with just a single thought. "Ready as they'll ever be," I responded. After establishing that my minions were not hostile, Bill had become immensely curious. "Whats it like, you know. Controlling them? Can they read your mind or something?" I thought about this a minute before answering, "It's not control like you and I think of it. The zerg have no mind of their own, so I share mine with them. In turn, my want becomes their want; my will becomes their single purpose in life. But my mind is human, much different from the heartless machine that was the Cerebrate. I also share with them passion, loyalty, caring for brethren, a love for life and leisure and the free will of thought." Bill looked a little puzzled at this, but he nodded in understanding and approval. I looked at my gigantic, happy swarm. The broods had developed every evolution, every attack and defensive enhancement available to them. Their carapace was thick and bulging with the tight coils of muscles that swelled beneath. Their teeth and claws shone with the glare of evolutions perfection. Yes, they were ready. Then I looked to Bill. "Have you been able to contact home base?" Bill looked worried as he reported, "Not sir. I've tried lotsa times in the past two hours but all I get back are some small breaks in the static. Maybe the Protoss are muffling their communications somehow." I thought about this a minute. "If they dont know whose coming, they'll probably open fire on the broods; I cant afford that kind of mix-up. You must warn them," Bill said plainly, "Just tell me how, Ill do anything." I looked to the sky, to the swirling mass of mutalisks. I eyed one in particular, and willed it to come near. In a moment, it dipped its wings and soared away from its brethren. It swooped down toward us, banking as it came close to slow itself down. The beast landed with a sandy thud on the cliff edge next to me. I coaxed bill onto the behemoth. He climbed clumsily up between its wings were he would not interfere with its flying. "This beastie is among the most nimble of the broods, it will take you back home. I walked up and put my hand on the forehead of the great creature. I opened my mind to the mutalisk and filled it with my thoughts. "It is my will that this human reaches the Terrans north of here swiftly and safely. You must ensure my will." The mutalisk roared in response. I let my hand drop to my side and looked up to Bill on last time. "Tell the General that I will come with reinforcements soon, hold the front line as long as possible." Bill only nodded with a kind of timid determination. With that, the mutalisk kicked off the cliff; dropping like a stone at first, then swooping over the zerglings in front and flapping back into the sky on its way north. I could hear Bill whooping and yelling like a kid on a roller coaster. When Bill and the Mutalisk were far out of sight, I turned to the broods. I spoke to them out loud as well as with my thoughts. My will boomed over the valley, amplified by the dozens of overlords hovering around the masses. "Great Broods! You have trained and served all for me, for my will. In return I will share my mind with you, my passions, my pains and my pleasures; all my life is yours. Therefore you will fight with more passion and cunning than any zerg the Protoss have ever seen before-for you fight for reasons of your own merit, not an overpowering will to consume and destroy. I go now to save my brethren, I hope you will choose to come with me. It is my will that the Terrans be saved and the Protoss stopped. I march north now; those of you who still wish to aid me may come." The broods exploded in a clamorous uproar of squeals, roars, snarls and growls in a joyous response to my little speech. I smiled at the raving carpet of warriors and climbed carefully down the cliff. The masses parted and made a path for me as I slung my old Gauss rifle over my shoulder and started walking towards the valley exit. Zerglings bounded at my flank, and the Hydralisks sidled in behind me with the towering Ultralisks bringing up the rear. Mutalisks swooped out ahead to check for hostiles, and Gaurdians and lumbering overlords glided into formation above. I looked behind and laughed out loud, my brood responded with noises that mimicked my laugh. I strode proudly out of the little valley with close to 5,000 plus zerg at my heels.
Bill could see smoke rising from the horizon as the base came into view. But no busy terran base with its scooting SCV's and shining wraiths greeted his eyes. Only a broken and nearly deserted base crested the horizon. The Mutalisk circled once, twice and came to a hovering stop behind a burning factory. Bill patted the beast on the head before he jumped to the ground, "Good girl...eerr uh whatever you are." Bill ran between some ragged out supply depos and by the empty mineral fields and the depleted vespene refineries. The base was deserted, save for the smells of a loosing battle. Bill ran past the fleets of barracks and starports and a rag tag front line came into view. Bunkers were on their last legs as SCV's were frantically mending tears and holes in the steel and cement structures. A few baggy eyed medics still gave their services to the moaning, injured marines and firebats. Missile turrets were burning on their stands and siege tanks were loading their last arcilite rounds. Bill grimaced and said to himself, "Chuck better hurry, this wont last five minutes against the Protoss." The chain of command had been wiped out, only a single ranked officer was behind the line, shouting orders into his headset and waving his arms around. Bill recognized it as his old sergeant from when he helped Chuck kill the Cerebrate. He had gotten an unexpected promotion to general of the terran army after a dark templar slit the throat of the original general. Bill ran up to his old commander. "Weld that better than that Wayne! Terra, those firebats need medical attention!, Damnit people, get it together! The Protoss will return any minute now to finish our sorry hides off!" The general turned around and nearly ran over his old subordinate. He stared into his face for a minute before his mind cleared enough to remember who Bill was. "Bill?! How'da hell you get here? Are you able to fight? Grab a gun, man!" Bill picked a gauss rifle from a pile of used ones, probably salvaged from the poor dead marines. "Sir, we must hold as long as possible, Chuck is on the way with reinforcements!" Sarge did a perfect double take, "What?! Are you serious? How long will it take for them to arrive?" Bill thought a moment before saying, "About five minutes, I'd say," Sarge tossed his old cigar butt and lit a new one, his last one. "Are you POSITIVE we will have the reinforcements to hold back a whole Protoss fleet?" Bill smiled while loading U-232 shells into his gauss rifle, "Will about 5,000 zerg do the trick?" Sarge's expression changed, "Is that some kinda joke?! This is not the time, Private, all my men may die in the next Protoss attack!!" Bill didnt even flinch, not after spending the past few days swapping war stories with the most fearsome creatures the zerg army has to offer. "No joke Sarge, you hafta see it to believe it. Chuck has somehow gained control of them, and even now leads them north to help us defeat the Protoss. Just sit tight." Sarge still didnt looked convinced, but something new besides inevitable despair gleamed in his bloodshot eyes - Hope. "I dont believe one word of it, but we'll have to; its our only chance-" Sarge didnt get the opportunity to finish his sentence because the deafening blast of arcilite fire broke the still calm. A marine yelled out a warning, "Protoss units, coming down the northern pass with carrier reinforcements!" Zealots appeared in the distance first, then the cumbersome dragoons waded in behind them. Carriers and scouts expertly zoomed over the ground forces, charging their photon blasters and launching interceptors. Sarge took a deep drag off his stogy and yelled the only order he could, "All units, Fire at will!" Fire blazed out of the bunkers as a couple dozen marines let the bullets fly. The siege tanks emptied their ammunition reserves on the advancing Protoss. Here and there, missile turrets were frantically firing their missiles at the nearest air target. The tide of zealots hit the bunkers like a flood, tearing and ripping away at the cement and steel with their blades of powerful light while firebats scorched them alive from the safety inside. Even Bill and the Sergeant laid into their gauss rifle triggers, adding their bullets to the spray that spewed from the flaming bunkers. The brave Terrans fought hard, but the Protoss had them outnumbered five to one. The zealots screeched in triumph as the bunkers finally collapsed around the Marines and firebats. The ones who managed to tear away from the massacre huddled together behind the remaining bunkers and wreckage, frantically shooting at anything with a blue plasma shield. Sarge hollered over the noise, "This looks like it boys! Fight for your very lives!" The superior Protoss picked off more and more units until the last of the marines huddled together around a single siege tank that continued to blast the enemy from behind the human shields. The Protoss were given a new order and the zealots and dragoons rushed up to finally crush the last of the pathetic Terrans. A single zealot was far ahead of the pack and ran for a marine out in front. It took bullets by the dozen with its plasma shield and raised its blades for a slash at the marine. But the zealot's blades and the marine were never destined to meet as six panting zerglings tackled the zealot to the ground and tore him limb from limb. Sarge looked back and his mouth hung open, the cigar falling to the dirt in pure astonishment. Zerglings stampeded in by the hundreds, weaving through supply depos and factories, closely followed by hordes of hydralisks with guardians moving into position overhead. The ocean of zerglings hit the tide of zealots like a runaway train, stopping the flood in its tracks. The Protoss were confused as to why the zerg, the most selfish, destructive creatures in the galaxy were running right past the helpless Terrans they could have eaten with no trouble at all and attacked them instead. The Protoss fought on vainly as the huge wave of blue carapaced backs flowed endlessly over the southern horizon. The zealots vanished in a blue mist, and blue dragoon blood stained the ground. Carriers turned and tried to flee with their sluggish psionic engines. Some stragglers who had been whooping and yelling victory turned and ran back over the hill from which they came when they saw the mountainous brood rushing to greet them with synth and fang. Soon the Protoss were wiped clean from the base. A still silence reigned over the battlefield, until a single marine with a used gauss rifle whooped victory, "Wooooohoooo!" he yelled over the heads of a dozen marines and close to 5,000 zerg. Soon the squad of marines joined in, raising their gauss rifles high-the sole surviving siege tank operator screaming into his headset. Chuck, who had been in amongst the swarm, heard this and raised his rifle in the air and added his voice to theirs. Before long the swarms caught hint of his will and the entire base exploded in an eruption of glorious sound.
"The remnants of the Protoss fleet are packing up and fleeing the planet, sir!" reported a happy scout from the opposite end of a headset. Cheers rose around the room. I responded after the noise had died down again, "Good work, kid. Come on back." The ghost responded, "I'm gone..." I looked around the room, filled with the old marines, Bill, and a few new recruits-all fresh from the barracks. Even a couple of the zerglings had been let in to bask in the unnatural warmth of the heated command center. They were fed scraps of sandwiches and meals like oversized household pets. Outside, the hydralisks mingled with the goliaths and the missile turrets were at peace with the mutalisks. The overlords sent pictures of the perimeter through my head, ever-watching in case the Protoss returned. Since Sarge was the only ranking officer left among us, he was easily promoted to general. "Gentlemen and beasties, settle down!" he chuckled as he walked into the room with a fresh cigar clenched in his teeth, puffing a trail of smoke behind him. Everyone, even the iron hearted Sergeant, was in a joyous mood after our victory over the Protoss just today. "Chuck, thanks to your extraordinary efforts in taming the zerg and leading them to save the base and all its people, we have been ensured a victory in this sector. Once we have the resources accumulated, we can rebuild our fleet and finally go home to our families." Sarge, or should I say General, continued, "Our first priority will be re-establishing an economy, and it just so happens that our scouts have reported that the Protoss have fled the planet in fear of your mighty brood. I dont believe they will mind us moving in on their recently vacated resources." Nods of approval went around the room. "But because of our severe drain in resources, we wont have enough troops to properly fortify a new encampment. Sergeant Bates, would you honor us by escorting a new command center and our remaining SCV's to the mining site?" "Of course, General." I said proudly, even a little flattered. Sarge looked at a zergling munching on the remains of some pizza crust and patted it on the head. "Then let us proceed, I want to try and get there before all the Protoss leave-maybe then ill get a chance to see what these beasties are really capable of." There was the usual commotion while everyone packed up and left the command center. Outside, I shouldered my old gauss rifle-as sure sign to the broods that I was possibly off to another battle. The zerglings sat up and stretched, and the hydralisks filed in behind me again. "Let's roll!" gruffed the General and the command center we were just in released its hold on the ground and the fusion reactors slowly winded up. The command center heaved out of the ground, slowly rose to about 30 feet and started lumbering north towards the new resources. SCV's followed along underneath. I willed half the zerg to stay and guard the base while I was gone, and so half of them reluctantly turned back, grumbling softly in protest. As a few days before, an attempt was made to set up a new resource base, only this time it was guarded by close to 2,500 zerg and a few dozen marines. I laughed again-it was odd to see such a procession following behind a floating command center like a Christmas parade. The broods snarled in their mimic of my laugh.

Although it was a disappointment to General Sarge, as some of us have come to call him, we met minimal resistance at the Protoss base. True, it was huge. But not a single Protoss was to be found as we razed the buildings. I let the zerglings and hydralisks have their way with the structures, so Sarge wasnt totally unhappy. He nearly dropped his cigar again as I sent the broods at the abandoned buildings. "We'll have a new base up and running in no time, your minions will have these abomninations down in a matter of minutes!" He was right, in minutes all that was left in the area was rubble and some panting zerglings and hydralisks that had raced to see who could raze the most buildings. The broods had more a mind of their own every day, thanks to their human cerebrate. The old nexus was cleared away and the floating command center settled down in its new home. The SCV's then happily gathered up what remained of the Protoss's resources, glad to finally be back to thier old boring job and not risking it on the front lines. Days passed without a single sign of any other hostile forces. Peace returned to rule again for a short while. One day, Chuck was staring out over the exspance of his brood when Sarge came up behind, puffing on his ever-present cigar. "It is time for us to leave this place, to go home to our friends and family. Our mission here is a complete success, thanks to you. You will be coming home with us, wont you? There will be high honors in your name, you know." Chuck took a quick look at his new family. The zerglings charged at each other and ran short races up and down the valley. The lanky hydralisks tackled one another and feasted on the creep that flowed in never ending supplies from the hatcheries. Mutalisks circled in the sky, dipping and diving around their slow guardian brethren, teasing them with their speed. "No, I this is my home now, I will stay here with my broods," came Chucks quiet response. Sarge seemed only a little surprised, "I had a feeling you would say that, but mind I ask why?" Chuck hesitated a second, "I cannot leave my brood. They all depend on me, on my kind will to guide them. They would go mad if they came under the strict control of another cerebrate. Besides, I've come to really enjoy the company of a hungry zergling at lunch time, the fierce snarl of a hydralisk wrestling his brethren and the thrilling flight of the mutalisks with the guardians. No, I cannot bear to part with them-I would go mad as well." Sarge nodded and took another drag off his cigar. "Then you must see us off. The fleet is prepared." Chuck agreed and stood up with General Sarge; the broods followed closely behind. "It has been an honor commanding you at one time," Sarge said as he stepped on board the waiting dropship. Around him, Chuck saw Marines and SCV's packing into dropships, chattering about going home. "If you ever need me and the broods, you'll know where I'll be." Said Chuck, shaking the hand of the general. Sarge gruffed an order into his head set, "Farewell, you marine-cerebrate!" Chuck laughed and watched the entire base leave. Factories, Barracks, engineering bays, starports and even a few command centers lifted off from their positions as Wraiths fired their engines and dropships rocketed into the sky. The buildings started their slow accent into the atmosphere and the mammoth Battle cruisers followed up behind the hovering structures. Chuck waved his arms with everything he had. As the ships started to fade into the blue, Chuck raised his gauss rifle high and flung his will to the broods. They exploded in the most uproarious clamor ever heard in mournful goodbye to their human friends. The sounds could be heard clearly from inside the dropships and command centers until they were well out of the atmosphere. Even the vile defilers got a lump in their throats seeing the Terrans depart.

To be continued...

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