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The Bane Series

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Prequel
Bane Episodes 1-3

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Before Bane: Hero's Origin

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Only a week after the Omega battle, Kerrigan stood lording over the Ravenous Broods gathered before her on the orbital platfrom; marveling at the incredible number yet straining to distribute her will to each one. "Duran," she sighed outloud, "You desserted me at a most inconvenient time." The broods swayed and shuddered as her thoughts drifted from commanding them to her last cerebrate. They snapped back to attention suddenly as she flung her will forth again, maintaining a struggling obedience from them. "Duran," she said once again, "was the best cerebrate one could want: smart, resourceful, intelegent, and above all-dangerously capable of defending himself." She leaned wearily against a rail that protruded from the metal grating at her feet as she expended more and more energy to control the broods so that she might think freely for a moment. The swarms seemed to hold, for just a second, long enough for her to gather her thoughts. She needed a cerebrate, and the lingering protoss and terran fleets would be happy to isolate and pick off one of her costly, defensless, immobile generals; eliminating that wing of her forces. "But," Kerrigan though with a wry smile, "Who says I cannot make a cerebrate of my own warriors?" She cast her will to the broods and the mightiest of each species came forth to stand in a neat line in front of the queen. They came, stomping, slithering, flying and crawling for her to inspect. Kerrigan strode back and forth in front of the beasts, carefully considering each one. First, the zergling. A quick and ellusive little creature with a ferocious appetite; she stared down at it and moved on. "Too small," The queen said outloud as she came to the next zerg. The ultralisk rumbled with a deep-throated growl of content as his queen drew near. Kerrigan ran her hand down the length of a giant kaiserr blade and muttered, stepping past it, "Too big." She came to a giant scorpion, technically named the defiler. It writhed and turned on the ground letting its excess fluids bubble out of its body through pores on its back. Kerrigan didn't even stop to look at it as she moved on to the next warrior, "Too disgusting," she winched before she came to her hunter-killer, the bigger cousin of the hydralisk. Kerrigan stopped and raised a crooked eyebrow at the beast. It stood still with both deadly synths hangling loosly by its sides. It had a large square jaw with several rows of sharp teeth. The carapace was smooth and rock-solid; curving gracefully over the thick muscles. It had a soft, deep snarl that rose and fell as she lifted its synths and turned its head from side to side, studying its strengths and weaknesses. "Capable of fierce hand to hand combat," muttered kerrigan as she worked, "and able to fend off enemies from afar too." "Very well," she sighed finally, and pressed her hand against the hunter-killer's forehead and closed her eyes. The hunter killer stared straigh ahead, completely expressionless as kerrigan focused on the depths of her psionic powers and the mysterious voices that acompanied her since she broke free of the chrysalis. The hydralisk didn't see the twisted human form before it, only the blinding extent of her will. Kerrigan's hand began trembling and her knees threatened to dump her onto the floor as she shared her power of control and psoinic abilities with the creature. Behind her, the broods felt her strain and seemed to strain to stay afoot as well. Then, slowly, the Hunter-Killer's eyes glazed over and it began to weave, swaying as it's mental capacity doubled and tripled countlessly under the power of the queen. It's eyes came into focus again and they stared directly back at Kerrigan, despite her order of will to turn them away. "What..have you done..." came a strange psionic voice, only slightly timid, "Where....when...WHAT am I?" Kerrigan dropped her hand and and laughed with her success. "You are my creation, I shall name you Bane because you shall be the death and suffering of my enemies." she announced proudly to the face that looked down on her from a foot and a half above. "What am I?" It asked again, almost demanding. "You are the carrier of my will, you shall lead half my broods in the battle on Tarsonis." "Broods? Tarsonis? Battle? Your will?!" it stammered. Kerrigan laughed again, "You will see in all due time, my pet, you will see."

The swarms hovered around the planet, buzzing and churning in anticipation of the attack. Kerrigan cast her will forth, and they dropped, falling like meteors to the planet. It rained overlords, the mutalisks fell like snow, and the swarms of guardians lumbered in like a giant, rolling storm cloud. Bane had no idea what kind of disgusting creature had pulled him into its body with long tentacles, carrying him to the planets surface, and at first this seemed like a hostile attack, but he was comforted by the soft heat of the creature's body and the rasping breathes it drew as it brought him safely to the ground. The bright light bombarded him as the overlord suddenly released its hold on him and lowered him to the dirt with the same long tentacles. Bane saw, while he was in the air a short while, massive swarms of creatures with hard brown carapace for protection and only teeth and claws to fight with. Once on the ground, he studied the zerg army up close, examining them with a curious eye. "What strange creatures are these?" he asked outloud as he saw kerrigan strolling towards him. "They're yours-your army, my pet." "But how..." Bane trailed off, confused. "They are psionically linked to your mind, you merely have to think and they will obey." Bane looked akwardly at the queen, "They have no minds of their own?" Kerrigan laughed, "No! They are your slaves, your mind is their's, your desire is their single purpose in life." "That's terrible," Bane said in astonishment, "I must be some foul creature indeed, to imprison these timid beings and twist them into weapons of war." "Nonesense," said Kerrigan, "It is for the good of our race. Now, come forth." Bane turned on the broods and followed Kerrigan to the edge of the plateu they had landed on. Bane gasped as glittering lights and tall, boxy structures jutted up from the ground in the distance. One could even see tiny figures stalking around on two legs, and scooting off in small boxy creatures that flew with no wings. "Are these my army as well?" Bane asked in a tone of awe. kerrigan laughed yet again, sweeping her hand over the view, "These are the Terrans-enemies, my pet! They plunder and ravage our quiet race, never ending in their search for more resources, " she lied. Bane nodded, trying to memorize everything the queen told him. "Bane," she said, interupting his thoughts, "The protoss are coming, I can sense it! We must attack while we still can." Bane tried to ask what a Protoss was, but the queen kept going, "I will lead my broods, camped north of here, and you shall wait behind for the protoss reinforcements and intercept them when they arrive," "But-" Bane tried to say, but kerrigan cut him off, looking up at an overlord that lumbered up to carry her away to her army, "Attack when you sense my will," was all she said as the overlord picked her up and jammed her inside its ventral sack, lumbering away to the north.

Bane watched the terrans for a long time, finding it hard to believe that these puny creatures could plunder anything, muchless terrorize so fierce a species such as his. "I shall see for myself," Bane said outloud and left his army behind, leaping down the cliff in 4 bounds. The walk to the Terrans seemed much longer than it looked from the top, but luckily, Bane thought, there was a small band of these creatures that had strayed far from the town. They seemed to see Bane and panick, making verbal noises and waking the shining beasts that occompanied them. "Hello, Terrans!" Bane called to them as he got closer. They scattered before him, yelling and screaming, "Zerg!! The Zerg are attacking!!!" they cried. Bane was within reach of them and counted 6 short, gangly things that stood on their back legs and held something with the front legs, the something reminded him of the large boxy creatures one of them had climbed inside of. "I mean no harm!" Bane said as he closed in, "I only wish to know more about you!" They all backed against the box-animal, and Bane came face to face with one of them. It stared up at him with wide, fleeting eyes. Bane touched the thing and it shreiked. They had an outer shell, seperate from their bodies just as the things they held in their hands. Without these...machines, Bane thought, the Terrans were nearly defensless. Then, he peered in the mind of it, seeing every event of its life. His jaw hung open as he saw things he had never known exsisted. Here was pain, suffering, humor, happiness, despair, anger, good and evil, saddness and love all rolled together in one, weak little frame that made up the puny alien before him. It shook its head at Bane's mental probing and barked something to the others. They turned what they held, the point aiming at the crazed hydralisk. Bane snarled in surprise as the things the terrans held chattered and he was pelted with hundreds of tiny rocks, thrown at incredible speeds by the Terran's weapons. He held his synths up and blocked some of the rounds with his massive forearms, but he still stumbled back with the pain of each little impact. "Noo! STOP!!" Bane cried at them, but they didn't seem to hear it. Finally, he turned and fled, the bullets pelting his back as he left the fearsome little creatures behind.

Back on the plateu, Bane sighed at the view again. Then, like a breeze blowing through, he felt the queens will come forth, and knew it was time. He looked up and the warning the queen had sent was true. Lumbering to a stop over the city, giant wingless beasts came to a stop in the distance, blotting out the sun. Then small flyers started spewing out of them, scattering and coming together again in unstoppable, swarming attacks. Each little flyer spouted blue beams that caused their targets to explode in a starburst of blue flame. So these were the Protoss. They came by the hundreds, and kerrigan's forces could be seen attacking the protoss with numbers even greater than the swarm of flyers swooping overhead. Then the cerebrate thought of the terrans, and what he had seen. There was no way that these creatures could contain some much and still be destroyers of life as the queen had said and he suddenly realized what Kerrigan was: a murderer of these miraculous beings. She was a terrible thing, a destroyer of happiness, and he was a creation of hers, an extension of her ability to kill. Kerrigan cast her will forth again, demanding that Bane send his brood to aid her, to help her destroy the tranquil life of both the puny terrans and the mysterious protoss. Bane growled and pounded his synths on the rocky ground he stood on, trying to fight the voices that flooded his mind, telling him to kill. Snarling in concentration, Bane turned to the north were his queen waited. There was the source of the voices, the cause of the Terran's death and the Protoss invasion and he held a little under half her army at his command. Bane lifted his synths to the sky and the broods lunged forward, stampeeding towards the source of the melevolent voices.

"It's about time," Kerrigan said to herself as she watched the carpet of zerg move suddenly. "What the..." she spoke again as she saw the mass change direction, growing larger and larger as it drew near. Kerrigan probed forth, calling for her cerebrate. "Bane, what are you doing?! Destroy the enemy, NOW!!" The voice came back to her mind in response, "I am." it said simply. Kerrigan's eyes squinted in anger as she realized that this was an act of betrayal. "You will die for this!" she boomed to him and what broods weren't fighting the Protoss or Terrans leapt forward to meet those of the Cerebrate.

The zerglings crunched against zerglings in mid-charge, groups of hydralisks maimed each other and the guardians and mutalisks turned against their own brethren. Bane grinned as his followers threw themselves into Kerrigan's attack force, possibly buying the Terrans and Protoss enough time to escape. But the grin faded as the protoss changed their attack. The swarming flyers were dwindling under the constant barrage of suicide bombers. More and more interceptors spiraled to the earth, trailing smoke and fire through the sky. Then the magnificent floating beasts emmitted an errie blue glow, and the ground shook as a thick beam of light shot from the bottom of them. Suddenly, the great terran city burst into a giagantic ball of fire, the flames spreading outward in a fiery wave that consumed everything in its path. Bane got one last view of the city from a distance as the fire consumed it, blocking the structures from sight, out shining the sun. But the fire-attack from the protoss wasn't done yet. The blue beam from the ship flashed again, feeding more strength to the inferno, and the wall of fire leapt forward, blanketing Kerrigan's and Bane's forces in a fiery death trap. How could they, Bane thought, how can they bear the aweful truth. They have come to stop the the evil queen from attacking, but at the same time, they have crushed all life, hostile or innocent, in this sector in the process. Bane would have run, but what was the use? The wall of fire was rampaging towards him faster than the mutalisks could fly. The quickest of the swarm could keep ahead of it for a short while, but they disappeared as the flames caught up with them and they disappeared into the bright red flames. Even the terran's wingless flyers could not escape the city. The fire storm came closer and closer, until it blocked Bane's view of the world like a rouge tidal wave. The light of the flame glared on his dark eyes as it closed the last few yards, and Bane submitted to the flames that took him, then all went black.

"This one survived," came a strange voice. It was completely dark and the speaker's voice seemed to be inside his head, instead of in his ears. "The incinerator wasn't fully charged, the flames didn't quite reach the hottest this far out," It came again. "But it is a zerg-let us put it to death. It will only cause death and havoc-" "Just how do you propose we do this?!" snapped another voice sternly, "If the flames didn't claim him, his power must be beyond us all. Call in a shuttle, we must take him aboard." "What!?" the first voice snapped. Another one, sounding older, calmer, continued to reason with the younger one, "Do not allow your pride to blind your reason. It is unconcious now, but soon it will heal and awaken,and then were will we be? Call in the shuttle, we're bringing it aboard. There must be an effective way to destory it."

Bane growled involuntarily as the world shifted. He could sense being moved, but he couldn't fight his way through the thick shadows that clouded his eyes, and he spiraled back into the void of unconciousness.

...Stopped.. He finally came to a stop and the world had come to a hault around him. There was a severe lack of sounds and light, and Bane woke with a snap. He jumped to his feet but something stopped his movement, holding his synths fast and jerking him backwards onto the solid floor again. Bane blinked and his eyes drowsilly adjusted to the low light level. The world was gone, shrunken away and gone; replaced by flat, square surfaces that crowded around him. Bane winched from his fall and pushed away from the floor with his synths. Getting up, he noticed three things: The only light came from two glowing orbs mounted above his head. Another was the floor, identical to the walls and ceiling; it was made out of the same thing the Terrans were covered with, only many times thicker. This thick material had no give, it mercilessly held its shape and withheld the bright light of the sun, blocking out the sounds of everything beyond this simple metal box. It surrounded him, trapped him. The other thing Bane noticed as he watched his own synths lift him off the floor, was that someone had created some kind of terrible bond to hold him in this prison. Thick metal chains were welded to bonds around his synths. Bane jerked and pulled for all he was worth, but the wall only resounded with a metalic clang again and again as the chains prooved to stong to break. He leaned down; drooping the length of the chain on the floor, and could turn around just enough to hack at it with his synth, smashing it again and again in vain. He switched and tried the other synth, finding the same results. At last, Bane sighed and slumped down against the wall, the heavy chains rattling as their length crumpled on the floor. Surely, there would be someone to save him. Undoubtedly, somebody knew him for the innocent creature he really was, that he was not actually capable of the terrible crimes commited against the terrans. The dirty metal surface of the walls gleamed slightly in the dull light, offering a dull reflection on all four sides. Bane stared straight ahead, peering into the image for the first time. He had never seen his own reflection, and what he saw made his breath catch in his throat. Bane squinted his eyes and the image focused some. There was a great, brown creature staring back at him. It had smooth, shiny carapace, only slightly charred from the flames. It had no hands, only two arms, twisted with muscle, with long grey blades protruding down from the wrists. It was a terrible creature, with an expersionless face that beared rows upon mutated rows of jagged teeth set deep in a square jaw. The gun barrel eyes that stared back into his were red orbs, glowing with menace. Bane sighed with disgust at the ugly reflection and had just enough slack in his chains to stab the light out above his head, destroying the image. He slumped down in the shadow, leaning against the wall. "Who would ever want to help a creature like me?" Bane thought as he let sleep come again.

The door slammed against the wall as it flew open, sending a crash through the tiny cell that made Bane jump to his feet again. The chains yanked him back to the floor again, and two zealots stepped in the doorway, carrying a tiny, limp figure. The hydralisk watched from the shadow as they used more of the chains to secure it to the wall by the wrists on the opposite side of the cell. They turned abruptly after finishing their work, and hurried out of the cell, nervously glancing over their shoulders at the killing machine they knew lurkered in the dark. The door slammed shut again and Bane looked across the cell to the new prisoner. It was obviously another terran, but this one was different. He had no outter shell of metal to protect it, like the one he had seen, only some light armor. It hung there on bonds too high for its puny 6 feet and 4 five inches. Bane watched the terran, and remembered the dark figure of his reflection, scrunching further into the shadows.

The Terran hung there, out cold, for at least an hour before groaning and lifting its head. It sighed and looked around, stopping on the side of the cell where Bane sat watching. It peered into the darkness for a minute before talking across the cell to the hydralisk using its primitive verbal language, "Hey! What are you in for?" Bane sat quietly in the shadows, not sure wether to respond to this creature or not. After a minute, it started again, "Ok, the strong silent type. I guess I'll do the talking for a while-"

To be continued...

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Bane

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I shifted uncomfortably in my hiding place behind a couple stacked up crates. Around me, a few salvaged dropships and wraiths gleamed in the dull light. The protoss had attacked our army so suddenly-we didnt have time to react. The zerg closeby were keeping the bulk of our forces occupied when the protoss decended and incinerated most of the planet. Survivors were found: most fought and died, a few unlucky souls had been captured and taken prisoner along with all remaining warships and aircraft. As far as i could guess, the protoss were running low on metals and labor force, so they decided to borrow some from thier human neighbors. I had avoided capture by hiding in my ship. But i wasnt expecting the protoss to salvage the aircraft. Now i was stuck in the cargo hold of some giant protoss carrier. I managed to get out of my ship undetected but the protoss had suspected something and sent a dragoon to guard the cargo hold. He stood silently in front of the door he had come through, scanning the hold for hostiles. If i could get back on my ship and power up the weapon systems, I could blast a hole in the hull and fly home. But the dragoon guard wouldn't like that very much. I am only a ghost-I couldn't take him out with just my canister rifle, but a lockdown would slow him down a little. I loaded my last lockdown round into my canister rifle with a click. The dragoon heard it and started wading in closer to me. I decided it was now or never and dove out from my hiding place and fired the lockdown round in mid-air. It flew, spiraling in an arc, across the room to smash into the dragoon. Electrical energy covered it and shorted its electronic circuits, stopping it in midstep. I got up and walked closer to it. I could sense the mutilated zealot inside the cold shell struggling with the pysionic controls, calling for backup. I laughed and started to run back to my ship, but i ran flat into a invisible wall and fell over on my back. "Sonafa.." i said, slowly sitting up. In front of me i could vaugely sense a being staring down at me. Oh great, a dark templar. I began to squirm away and run but the floor fell away from my swinging feet as the 9-foot dark templar effortlessly lifted me off the ground. I struggled and flailed my legs in the air but the crackling energy of a modified psionic blade at my throat stopped my resistance. "What are you going to do with me?" i asked the thin air that held me prisoner. He responded by clubbing me in the back of my head with a solid fist, knocking me out cold. The last thing i remember was being carried like dirty laundry out of the cargo hold door.
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When I came to, I was chained to the wall by my wrists in a dingy little cell. I sighed and looked around: a square room with a ten foot cieling, one door, two lights-one broken leaving half of the room in shadow. I could sense another being in the room with me-not human, but still inteligent. I apparently wasnt going anywhere for a while, so i decided to take up a little conversation. I looked across the room were my cell mate was huddled in the shadows, "Hey! What are you in for?" The darkness was silent. "Ok, the strong silent type. I guess I'll do the talking for a while. The names Charly Daniels, Im a specialist for the dominion world of tarsonis-third defense garrison. My fleet was mostly destroyed by the protoss, a few have been taken prisoner on this ship, along with all our remaining aircraft. When were you captured?" The darkness was silent still, but a phsycic message entered my mind, "I was on the planet you called tarsonis when i was taken prisoner by these protoss." I was a little surprized by his response, "Why do you speak physcically? You cant speak normally?" The darkness sent another message through my brain, "I dont have the appropriate...anatomy to pronounce your language." I smiled, "I can tell you're not human, but still inteligent. Are you a protoss prisoner?" The figure shifted in the darkness, the rattling of chains being dragged across the floor could be heard. "Not exactly," The figure's mind said to mine. "Do you have a name?" i asked the shadow. "Bane," he told my mind after a few minutes. "Well, Bane, why dont you come out of the dark so we could talk face to face?" "If you wish, i will come; but please dont be startled by my appearance-it's very misleading." I laughed, and waved my hand, encouraging him. My smile leaked away as a Zerg hydralisk slowly sidled out of the darkness, chained to the wall with bonds just below the razor sharp synths. It towered over me, about the same hieght as the dark templar who captured me. Rage welled up in my throat, "You...you're the ones we were fighting when the protoss showed up! You're the ones who ravaged our towns and slaughtered innocent women and children!! You fuckin' monster! You bastard!! I'LL KILL YOU!!!" I kicked and stuggled with my bonds trying to escape the nightmare infront of me, "I'LL KILL YOU!!" The hydralisk turned his head away at first but became outraged with my words before long. "SILENCE!!" He boomed into my mind. And with a blood-curteling snarl he lunged for me with his two-foot synths. The wall resounded with a cold metallic clang, and dust showered down on us as the chains arrested his attack just a foot from me. The mighty hydralisk strained against his bonds for a few seconds, snarling fiercly in my face before releasing the tension on the chains and backing against the wall again. Silence reigned in the cell for a few minutes, save for the panting hydralisk. After a while, he let loose a mighty sigh that stirred dust on the floor into a swirl. "We must escape this place," he spoke to my mind again. I didn't want to agree with this monster in any situation, but he was right. He sent another message through my mind, "I'll free you if you'll do the same for me. My bonds are simple metal strips held with a tiny clamp. I cannot free myself, but you have hands-you could grip it and pull it out of the slot and free me!" I spat in his general direction, "Yeah right, free you so you could reach me next time I get on your nerves? Besides, i dont know how long its been since they last fed you, you might attack me straight off." He snarled lightly in the darkness, "As if you can't already tell, I am no ordinary hydralisk. I promise I have no interest in harming you, so long as you keep your tongue in line." I thought about his offer for a minute. If i waited until the protoss arivved to where ever they were going, i would probably be killed or put into slavery. If i freed Bane, i would probably die right away. But one look at the hydralisk's powerfull forearms and sharp synths assured me a quick death opposed to a slow one; wasting away as some templars slave. "Ok, i guess i dont really have much of a choice except to trust you." I said reluctanly to the dark. The hydralisk sidled into view again and opened its chest cavity, revealing the deadly needle spines inside for firing. "Hold VERY still," he warned me. I broke out in a cold sweat as he took carefull aim. The hydralisk blasted needle spines at my chains with such force that it shook its whole body in recoil. The needles sparked and bounced off the wall until one wedged between a chain link and shattered it. I looked up at my wrists. The bonds around my wrists were still there but the chain attaching them to the wall was broken in the middle. "You're free, now come get these blasted pins out of my bonds so i can open the door." his mind spoke to mine. I dragged my chains over to him and inspected the bonds. Bane held his synths low so i could see them easier. "Wow! This is high quality steel-Titanium! Why did they use these on you?" I asked as i slowly worked the rusted pins out of thier slots. " Because i could break anything else they use." "Oh.." i said, a little confused. My hands were shaking violently, It was very frightening being that close to those deadly blades. When the last pin finnally popped out and the bonds fell away, the hydralisk stretched its arms wide, probably sore from being there so long. After enjoying the luxuries of freedom for a minute he turned and started sidling toward me. I backed up against the door, "Hey!! You promised! What did i say wrong?!" The hydralisk reached one synth out and shoved me aside with the blunt side of it, "Relax," he said. He reared one powerful arm back and jabbed his synth through the neosteel door. My jaw hung open as he wrenched his synth free and stabbed it a second time, and began sawing a hole in the door like an oversized can opener. Now i figured out how the zerg kept penetrating our steel command centers and bunkers. Bane jerked his synth free again and a rough oval fell out of the door into the hallway. "You do have a way out of here, dont you?" he asked while squeezing his bulky frame through the hole. "I can pilot my ship out of here, so long as were not too close to any planets," i said while stepping though the door behind him. With a fierce grawl, he stopped suddenly in the hallway, raising his synths for battle. I nearly ran into him. Just ten yards in front of us stood two zealots, who activated thier psi blades and squeeled in response to Bane's battle cry. The zealots charged. Bane devistated the hall with a barrage of needle spines, shorting out plasma shields and even injuring one of the zealots. The injured one fell back a little, but still charged in behind his friend. Bane reared both arms back and impaled the first zealot. He struggled at the end of the synths, trying to get at Bane while his life spilled on the floor; the psionic blades flickered and went out. With a jerk, Bane twisted his synths free, dumping the zealot on the floor, and raised them just in time to block a deadly slash at his throat. The second zealot thrust and stabbed at Bane with the powerfull blades of light, Bane blocking most of them with his incredible synths. One of the blades stabbed through the upper carapace and Bane wailed out in pain. With one synth he swung wide and knocked the zealot against the wall, and with the other synth he stabbed the zealot through the chest; pinning him to the wall. The last zealot grabbed vainly at the synth with both hands and screeched in agony as the hydralisk opened his chest cavity and sprayed the helpless warrior with spines until he stopped struggling and hung limp on the synth. The panting hydalisk jerked his synth free of the wall and the zealot crumpled to the floor. Bane was right, he was no ordinary hyralisk. No hydralisk I've ever seen could fight with his synths and take down two zealots at once. I walked over and peeked around Bane at the masacre in front of me. Bane was cut and and bleeding in serveral places. Most of the wounds were pretty small, except the one deep gash in the chest cavity. "Will you be ok?" I asked. The hydralisk continued to move down the hallway, "Yes, I'll heal over time. But we better find you a weapon, I can't do all the fighting by myself. By the way, do you know you're way around this place-because I don't." "Aw, shit," I said aloud, "You're guess is as good as mine." "Thats just peachy," came the irritated message from infront of me. We came to a row of doors and air locks of all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one was all a matter of luck. Bane asked, "Which one?" I looked at the doors. "Try the little one over there," i said pointing to a tall thin one. The hydralisk walked over and opened the door much the same way he opened our cell door. We peeked our heads inside and saw what appeared to be a Protoss a utility closet. "Good guess," the hydralisk snorted, "Let's go for the gusto and try this big one." The hydralisk pointed with one synth to a large door that a Goliath Walker could fit through easily. I shrugged and watch the Hydralisk impale the door with both synths and crumple it off the hinges, heaving it to one side. The hydralisk sidled through and i walked in after him. I gasped and looked around at the huge room i was in. The ceilings here were easily two stories high, with a huge round reactor engine humming away in the middle surrounded by six mammoth cooling tanks. "Whata engine! We sure could use something like that on our battlecruisers." I said in astonishment. Bane wasn't impressed, "Pah! Machines! I hate machines. All it takes is one simple problem and it screws everything up." I walked over to a flashing panel on the engine. It showed a radar screen not unlike the ones the terrans use. It showed our current location and distance from our destination. We were very close, only an hour away if we held our current speed. "I think we have a problem." i said and waved Bane over to the screen. "If we reach our destination, the ship will be crawling with protoss. There's gotta be a way to slow this hulk down so we'll have enough time to find my ship and escape. Bane turned and looked thoughtfully at the cooling tanks, "Like i said," The hydralisk sidled up to one tank, "All it takes is a simple problem." It raised one synth and hacked it into the side of the tank. It pulled back on it with no result. Then Bane gave a powerfull jerk, then began wrenching and twisting his synth, trying to free it from the thick metal of the coolant tank. Steam hissed out around the synth, "Uh-oh," Bane reported. With a deafening blast, the tanks metal shell split open and blew the hyralisk backwards into the reactor engine. Coolant gushed out like giant fire hydrant, covering the floor. The reactor engine winded down as the automatic controls cut its power because of the severe loss of coolant. Bane got up and stood next to me, "Problem solved, it should take them awhile to fix that." he said to my mind. I chuckled and followed Bane out of the reactor room. In the hallway we chose another door and, to our complete surprise, it was the right one. Inside I could see wraiths, valkalries, and dropships gleaming in the dull light. "Were are we going?" I asked. Bane responded, "Anywhere besides here is good enough for now." I was about to open the cockpit hatch on a dropship when a voice boomed through the hangar. "Just were do you think YOU'RE going? Home? After destroying our reactor engine? You have doomed us all!" Bane and i turned in time to see a a pair of High templar standing in the doorway with two zealot guards coming in after them. Bane snarled and raised his synths. "Just let us go, what good can we do you?" i asked. The Templar's eyes glowed menacingly, "I'm afraid that cannot be allowed, We have orders to exterminate you both at all costs." With no warning, the Templar waved his hand and the two zealots multiplied before my eyes. There were now eight of them bristling and activating thier terrible blades of light. The Templar laughed outloud as he sent the real zealots and his halucinations at us. The zealots circled me and Bane warily, then they lunged in for the kill. Bane snarled and stabbed at a zealot in front of him. The zealot vanished in a blue mist, and the real zealot beside him ripped into the hyralisk's shoulder with a passion. Bane roared his rage and backhanded the zealot with his synth, leaving a gash across the zealots face; blood blinding his eyes and covering its face. Bane swung again and slashed his synth deep between the shoulder and the neck of the poor zealot, parting his arm from his body. The zealot fell instantly and three halucinations vanished in a blue mist. Another zealot lunged for Bane, but I blind sided him with with the chains that still clung to my wrist bonds. But he was a halucination too and vanished in a blue mist as well. Just two zealots left, one fake and one real. One was bristling its blades for battle while the other one looked very unsure about attacking this particular hydralisk. At the last minute its blades flickered and went out and he turned and ran past the two templar and back out the door. The templars muttered something like, "Coward" and started backing away from Bane. Bane lunged and pinned them both against the wall, and sent psycic messages to them both, "What was that about us not being able to leave?" Bane snarled fiercly in thier faces, "Give us no more trouble and I may let you live," The templars looked to eachother pinned against the wall and one said, "You shall never leave here with your lives!" Suddenly the two templar burst into blue flames so bright that Bane had to release them and back away. We watched in horror as the two glaring flames passed into one another and became one. The flame burst into a blue orb of pure psionic energy. "This can't be good," i said aloud. Bane shot me a message, "Take cover! This is going to be bad..." I nodded and backed away behind a wraith and watched as the powerfull pysionic entity known only as the Archon emerged from the flames and dwarfed the brave hydralisk. It towered easily five feet above Bane and it still glowed with a bright blue light. Bane opened his chest cavity and launched needles at the archon for all he was worth. The Archon laughed wickedly and opened its arms to the projectiles as if welcoming them. The needles were harmlessly absorbed by a massive plasma shield. Bane continued to vainly blast the shield with needles as the Archon slowly hovered over to him and thrust both hands out at him. A blast of psionic energy errupted from the hands of the archon, line-driving Bane far back against the hanger wall. Bane slowly got up in time to see the Archon's mighty arm swing like a club and knock him back into the far corner. Bane snarled weakly in protest and fired more needles as the archon pinned him there in the corner and showwered psyionic energy on his enemy, roasting the poor hydralisk alive. I couldn't stand to just sit and watch the hydralisk being slaughtered-especially since i was next. I had to do something to help Bane. I thought quickly and looked up to the wraith gleaming above my head. I jumped up to the cockpit door and hit some switches. The control panel glowed to life as the computer came online, "Adjentent online, Good evening Captain Daniels," the computer droned out to me. I flipped the switch to activate auto targeting and powered up the laser battery. "Activating weapons systems, ATS laser opperational in T-minus 20 seconds." I looked up in time to see the archon pick Bane up off the floor and hold him by the neck high against the wall, charging psionic energy with the other hand. Bane no longer struggled against the Archon's iron grip. The Archon then released a massive wave of devistating energy on the hydralisk with both hands. I could barely hear Bane roaring out in agony over the crackling power of the archon's attack. "Common! Common!!" I yelled at the computer. "Defense systems online, Captian." droned the adjetent. I flipped up the plastic cover on the joystick and jammed down the firing button. The wraith didn't hesitate a second and the powerfull laser battery zipped clean through the archons midsection, frying a hole in the wall just below were he held Bane pinned. The arhon vanished in a blue implosion and Bane dropped 6 feet to the floor, were he crumpled limpy were he landed. I jumped down out of the jet and ran over to my friend. Bane was unconcious and burned severly all over. The mighty synths were blackened and smoking, the thick chest cavity cracked and smoldering. He didn't look alive; he was barely breathing. Bane had saved my life more than once, and i wasnt about to let him die in this rotten prison. I ran back to one of the dropships and open the rear cargo hatch, and let the ramp swing down to the floor. I ran back to the hydralisk and grabbed one arm below the synth. I jerked and pulled until i finnally built up enough momentum to get going. It was very slow going-he weighed easily over 300 pounds. I painstakingly dragged him inch by inch to the cargo ramp and dragged him up it into the dropship. Once i had him inside I shut the hatch and and walked over to a valkalrie. I activated the computer and programed it to launch a salvo of missiles to blast a way out through the hull. It counted down twenty seconds before firing as i climbed inside the dropship and closed the hatch. With the airlock sealed and the engines hot, the valkalrie launched the missiles and explosions rocked the ship as halo missiles blew a massive hole in the hull of the carrier. I gassed the engines and shot out of the hole and accelerated away from the carrier. The vacuum of space sucked the other aircraft out of the carrier and along with an aweful lot of oxygen. Bane groaned behind me in the cargo hold and turned over. "Did we win?" he asked my mind weakly. "Yes, we won," I said aloud to my friend.

To be continued...

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Bane 2: Return to Tarsonis

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Bane hadn't said anything else since we left the carrier. He didnt even move much, just rolling and groaning every once in a while. According to the life-support systems on board the drop ship, he was in critical condition. The fight with the Archon had all but killed him. For three hours, I silently flew the drop ship through the void of space with nothing but the bleeping computer and the whining engines for company. I stared out the front view port and sighed. The trip back to Tarsonis was going to be a long one with just a puny drop ship for transportation. I heard the clawing, scraping sound of carapace being dragged across steel. I looked back and Bane had dragged himself into a sitting position against the drop ship wall. He sent a strained message to me, "So we made it, huh?" I looked over my shoulder and said, "Yeah, but barely." Bane managed a weak snarl, "Ha! I thought I was dead. You mean to tell me my misery continues?" I chuckled a little, glad Bane hadnt gone into a coma, if that can happen to a Hydralisk. I was also glad for someone to talk to, it was very boring staring out the front window. I put the drop ship on auto-pilot and un-strapped myself from the pilots seat. I walked back to where bane was sitting to inspect his injuries more closely. He was still severely burned all over, the carapace was cracked and bleeding from being crushed against the steel hull of the carrier. "Will you be ok?" I asked as I looked down at the battered creature barely recognizable as a hydralisk. He lifted his head up for just a second, "Yeah, but it will take a while to fully recover." He let his head droop again. How can I help you? I was beginning to worry. Bane was silent for a while before answering, "Now that you ask, Im starving. What do you humans keep around to eat?" I reached to the overhead compartment were the emergency supplies were kept. There were boxes of spare ammo, emergency flares, oxygen tanks, first aid kits, and a ration pack. I pulled the ration pack down and ripped it open, spilling the bulky calorie supplements everywhere. Bane looked up to see what I had gotten into. "What, said the hydralisk, obviously disgusted, Are those?" I pulled out a few of the ones marked turkey dinner and offered them to him, "Theyre not food, but they have the vitamins and calories of a regular meal. They are all we have for now." Bane waved one synth and I reached down and jammed the turkey dinners in his gapping mouth. Bane swallowed them without chewing at all, but he nearly spit them back up. "How do you Terrans survive on these things?! Remind me as soon as we land to get some REAL food." I dug back into the overhead compartments, "Tell me about it! We have to eat that crap all the time." Bane reached out and stabbed another supplement off the floor and stuck it in his mouth, "They're puny meals too, not very filling at all." I laughed again and kept rummaging through the compartments. I found two more first aid kits, another pouch of calorie supplements, and an old magazine someone had left onboard. I moved up front and checked the pilots compartment. Inside I found something I had longed for all day, a gun. "Ah yes! Here we go!" I said out loud as I held up an old .45 with two extra clips, already loaded. I guess the old pilot of this ship didn't entirely trust some of his passengers. Bane looked over and nodded at my find, "It is a pathetic weapon at best, but its better than nothing I guess." I nodded and dropped it back into the pilots box. Bane slumped a little more against the wall, resting his synths across his body, "Now that we are safe, I find myself quite...exhausted," His eye lids sank slowly over the big red orbs, and in a few minutes his rasping breath came slow and steady. He looked half innocent while he slept. I yawned and dropped back into the pilots seat. Now that he mentioned it, I was a little tired too. I set the auto-pilot to take us back to Tarsonis and enter orbit. Then with the controls set, I reclined my seat and let sleep take me. The last thing I saw were the stars slowly slipping by the front view port as the drop ship rocketed toward home.

A psychic message penetrated my dreams, bringing me back to the world of reality, "Awaken mortal, your machine is having a fit!" I snapped my eyes open and the red planet of Tarsonis filled my view port. An annoying little buzzing noise was coming from the dashboard. I sat up and punched the auto pilot button. It had gone off because we reached our destination. Bane was standing behind my seat, apparently feeling a little better. "You sleep more than the zerglings!" he told me. "We might as well start our re-entry, buckle up if you can." Bane looked confused. I helped him wrap the cargo straps around his arms-the ones we used to secure siege tanks and goliaths. Then I jumped back up front and buckled the cross straps that held the pilots in their seats for re-entry. "Hold on," I said as I pushed the control stick in to break orbit. The planet loomed larger and larger in the view port. An alarm went off and flames began to burst up around the windows as we entered the atmosphere, blotting out our view. "Is this normal?" asked Bane. "All in a days flight!" I yelled over the noise. The drop ship bounced and jostled us around while a roaring noise drummed from the hull. Slowly, the vibrations eased and the noise faded as the reverse thrusters slowed our decent. Before long, even the flames outside the windows ebbed down and went out as well. Grey clouds filled the windshield, but after we got closer I realized that they weren't clouds; it was smoke. The drop ship leveled out and bane cut the straps off his synths and moved up front to get a better view. He noticed the smoke right away, "Something doesn't smell right, there may still be battles waging on your planet-keep your eyes open." As if on cue, the hostile alarm started buzzing. "Oh, great-we got company already." I said as I scanned the sky for what had set the alarm off. I didn't have to wait long to find out as the ship rocked suddenly with the screeching rip of tearing metal. "What is it?" I yelled, struggling with the controls to keep the ship in the air. Bane moved to the back and moved around to different view ports, "Its a zerg mutalisk!"
I sighed with relief, "Oh good, then tell them its you and theyll stop attacking," My relief didnt last long as Bane shot me a message, "I never said I was on their side!" I gassed the engines and weaved around in the air, trying to loose the pursuing mutalisk. It proved all too futile as another glave wurm ripped through the hull of the drop ship, rattling the controls in my hands. "We wont last long like this!" I had to yell again over the wrenching metal. Bane sighed and moved to the back of the drop ship, "Keep flying, Ill take care of the mutalisk." I winched as another rip of metal sounded and an alarm went off, telling me that one engine was down. I heard Bane snarl and I glanced back in time to see him impale the rear cargo door, tearing it off the hinges and letting it fall away to the ground far below. The ship rocked and weaved with the sudden gain in air resistance. Bane stuck both synths through the walls for balance and blasted a volley of needle spines at the mutalisk. The mutalisk swerved in the air, trying to dodge the projectiles. It squealed in pain as one of Banes shots hit its mark. The mutalisk dove and came back from below, sending a glave wurm through the bottom of the ship. The wurm ripped straight through the floor and bounced around inside, seeking new targets. Bane ducked as another wurm came through the back door, shooting right past my ear and shattering the windshield. Wind whistled in and glass fragments were sucked out the open rear of the ship. The mutalisk disappeared and came up right behind us, so close Bane could nearly reach out and touch it. The hydralisk pounded the mutalisk before it could retreat from the hail of needles that sprayed from the back of the drop ship. The buzzing alarm went off again as another engine went out. The ship barely moved now, the mutalisk could practically do loops around us. "This isnt going to work!" I yelled again over the straining engines and the roaring rush of air. Bane looked up to the cargo wench above the door. He wrenched both synths free from the wall and watched the mutalisks flight pattern carefully. Then, with the cargo wench hook clenched tight in his jaw, he dove out of the back of the drop ship. I saw his dive from the corner of my eye and was going to stop him, but I was too late. I was suddenly alone in the ship save for the wind and the whining spindle of the cargo wench. Bane had timed his jump perfectly-he flew out of the ship in an arc to slam synths first onto the back of the mutalisk. I heard the mutalisk roar in anger and a rush of purple wings shot by the open rear of the ship. Bane was on its back, hacking and stabbing away with his deadly synths. The Mutalisk loosed one last squeal as Bane hacked off its left wing. No longer capable of flight, our pursuer dropped like a stone-spiraling towards the planet. The nose of the ship suddenly lurched upward as the cable went as taunt as a guitar string, catching Banes weight and jerking the rear of the ship down for a few seconds. The remaining engines whined to regain the lost altitude. I tried auto-pilot and found that it no longer worked. I unbuckled my belts and moved carefully to the rear of the ship and pressed the button to start the wench. The ship shuddered and started to dive so I had to jump back up front and grab the controls again. The droning electric motor brought Bane close enough to stab a synth in the floor and pull himself back inside. He clawed his way to the middle of the drop ship and lay there panting, getting his breath again. Another bleep started going off on the radar screen, indicating friendly units. "Oh , what is it now?!" Bane complained. "It's ok, I think its some of my boys. Some terrans must have survived the protoss attack, and are still fighting to stop the zerg here." Bane caught his breath and moved up front. No sooner had he moved than a few terran buildings came into sight. It was a small base at best, everything was a flaming wreck. Missile turrets, bunkers and barracks were going up in smoke. I kept flying and the base got closer. I could see marines running around to different bunkers below, shouting things to one another. A few of them saw my drop ship scooting overhead and waved their guns in salute. I wagged the drop ship for a response. I slowed it down and brought the ship to a hovering stop beside a starport. In truth, the ragged machine hit the ground like an old muffler, metal bits and pieces falling off of it making humorous clanging sounds to complement our sputtering engines. Marines filed up beside the ship to see who would come out. Bane sidled slowly to the back and stuck his head around for a peek. I winched as Bane lurched back inside and a hail of Gauss rifle shots riddled the side of the drop ship. "Maybe you better let me go out first," I said to him. He nodded his approval, "Good idea. And one more thing-do you mind telling them not to kill me?" I got up and eased to the edge of the drop ship, "Hey!! Its me! Charly! Don't shoot I'm coming out," I yelled outside. I stuck my head around the side just to make sure they wouldn't shoot me by mistake. Marines had taken up positions at our flank, rifles raised expecting something terrible to step outside. A few of them lowered their rifles a little in confusion when I looked outside. One of them spoke up, "Hey! It IS Charly! We thought you were fragged days ago!" I sighed my relief and a little smile crept across my face as I stepped the rest of the way outside. It was good to be in the company of humans again. My old friends lowered thier guns and started asking a dozen questions, "Were you been? What did the protoss do to you? How did you escape? How did you get back?" They blurted questions until I started talking again, "I was captured by the protoss, they took me prisoner. They even stole some of our ships," I patted the busted drop ship beside me, "and I escaped with one." Cheers rose around the crowd, "But I did so only with the help of a friend," Bane looked out at me. "It may seem strange but he's on our side. Don't shoot, I'll lead him out," I turned and waved Bane out of the drop ship. He shook his head and I waved again. Slowly, he edged his way back to the side of the drop ship. I stepped over so I would be between the marines and the hydralisk. Bane eased his way outside and gasps moved through the crowd. I could hear clips locking and guns raising everywhere in front of me. Murmurs and whispers drifted around. "Are you sure he's on our side?" someone called out. "Just kill it!" somebody else yelled. I stood my ground between my friends. "He's hurt, we need a medic over here!" I got nothing but confused looks in return. "Common! This is Charly talking, remember? I said I need a damn medic!" No one believed me, yet. I sighed and reached behind me were Bane held his synths low and jerked his arm in front of me. "What are you doing?!" He asked my mind as I forced his arm over my shoulder and held the deadly synth inches from my own throat. I yelled so everyone could hear me, "Now if I didn't trust him, WHY would I do this?!" I let the synth go and Bane moved it to his side again. "You heard me! GO GET A MEDIC!" I was beginning to get aggrevated. Finally, the marines eased their weapons and someone ran to get a medic. One of my old friends put his gun down and walked to were I stood, guarding Bane. "I'm sorry Bud, it's just that were so used to shooting at them.
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The medic brought her healing light and before long Bane was as good as new. They also brought an SCV who cut the chains off my wrists. "You need a gun?" He asked me as he delicately worked the fusion cutter around my wrist. I though about the 45 in the drop ship and decided a trusty gauss rifle or even an old C-10 would be better if they could dig one up. I nodded my head. He finished cutting the bonds and they fell to the dirt with a dull clang, "Go check out the supply department, theyll give you everything you need. The grubs pretty good today, too." Bane followed me to the supply depo, "He means food right? You terrans hafta eat something besides those tasteless supplements!" Bane asked. When we got there, a shrimpy little dude behind the counter asked me what I wanted, after staring at Bane for a few minutes, "Wadaya want from me?" "Got a C-10, with some lockdown rounds?" I asked. He shook his head, "Nope, all out of C-10s today, but the Gauss rifles are in stock." I sighed, "Ill take one of those then," Bane gave me a shove, "And three cheeseburgers to go." Bane shoved me again, "Make that 5 cheeseburgers! He just looked at me funny and went to get our order." The smell of cooking burgers wafted around and Bane started slobbering drool. It was kinda funny even though he couldn't really help it-he doesnt have lips. The clerk came back with my gun and a big greasy sack of hamburgers-fresh from the photon cooker. I reached out and took my gun while Bane stabbed the burgers with one synth and jammed them in his mouth-wrappers and all."Hey! I said, One of those were mine." Bane belched and said, "You still want it? I gagged a little, Naw, thats ok. Ill just order another." Bane was still hungry somehow, "Get me one too!" I sighed and told the little guy to whip up two more. Bane waited for me to get mine before snatching the bag this time. After I finished, we walked around, watching the SCVs repair buildings and equipment. I asked another SCV what was going on. He talked but didnt turn from his work, "We were just hit by the zerg before you showed up. Barely stopped them this time too! If they come back in force like that again, we wont make it." I nodded, trying to keep up with the scooting SCV, "No joke?" I said sarcastically. He laughed and kept working, "Yep, zerglings, hydralisks, ultralisks-you name it!" We left the SCV to finishes his work and kept walking along behind the rows of bunkers and siege tanks. Bane sighed as he nervously sidled alongside the terrans that had to fight urges to turn and open fire on him. "What do you Terrans do all day? This is boring." Bane asked me quietly. 'Just sit around and wait on the enemy, I suppose. I used to do a lot of front line action back when I was a marine but maybe being a ghost is safer-" Deafening blasts of the siege tanks interrupted me. We were between one of the bunkers when a carpet of zerglings flowed into our view. The siege tanks fired first, crushing the on-comers by the dozens. The marines let their gauss rifles rip and bullets sprayed from the bunkers. Zerglings kept falling, but there were just too many of them to stop at once. They were decimated when they made their charge but still a few, a little under half, made it in under the range of the siege tanks and assaulted the bunkers. The marines fired frantically out of the bunkers and firebats warmed up their packs. Flames spewed from the bunkers, bathing the ground and the zerglings in napalm. The zerglings were everywhere at once, and then gone just as quick. They were fast and did some damage to the bunkers and siege tanks even though they were stopped easily. SCVs scooted in and began welding and repairing rips and tears in the steel and cement. They didnt get much time to finish as more enemies poured into view. Dozens of hydralisks, Bane was bigger than them all, sidled in from the distance. The Siege tanks arclite cannons cracked the still air again as they rained fire on the attackers. The hydralisks were much stronger than the zerglings and they took the pummeling siege tanks in stride. They moved up in rows to match the bunkers. I had to duck from the spray of needle spines that spewed from the crowd, making the marines gauss rifles look like toys. Siege tanks pummeled the lines and finally, the hydralisks began to fall.
Left and right bunkers were going up in flames and siege tanks were straining to stay online. At last, with combined effort from the marines and the siege tanks, they were able to stop the tide of hydralisks as well. Bane didnt like it much. He kept wincing and looking away while the hydralisks and the marines battled. It was pretty gory, and it looked kinda painful for the hydralisks. More marines came and reinforced the bunkers while the SCVs repaired everything again. Just as everything started to quiet down again, gobs of green acid rained from the distance. We couldnt see our attackers, they were out of our site range, but they could see us. Comsats identified them as guardians. They moved from one bunker to another, attacking with impunity. Marines ran into the distance to engage the monsters, but they never returned. The SCVs ran in to try and slow down the destruction by repairing as the guardians destroyed. In the end the guardians were making slow progress, one bunker at a time. Siege tanks began to helplessly fall to the airborne bombers. Then finally, relief came. Four valkalrie frigates zoomed overhead and began blasting the pesky guardians with piles of missiles. The remaining marines whooped and yelled as the medics came to heal them. But victory seemed much less certain as scourge slammed into the valkalries and caused them to explode in midair. The guardians once again continued their attack against the bunkers. "Theyll never stop them like this," Bane sighed next to me. Marines and medics were running everywhere as the scvs desperately tried to slow the crushing damage the guardians caused. I looked to Bane, "What could we possibly do?" Bane didn't even answer as he sidled between two bunkers and ran out into the battlefield. The guardians ignored him and continued to fire at the bunkers. Bane ran out below the guardians, blasted one guardian with needle spines and he turned and started running back to us. The Needles didnt do much damage but it was enough to get the attention of the guardians. Since Bane was the only one in range, they considered him the most likely threat and started focusing fire on him. Bane strafed left and right, the gobs of green acids pummeling the earth all around him. He made it back between the bunkers but he kept going with the guardians following closely on his heals. I was starting to wonder what Bane hoped to accomplish with this feat until fire blazed out of the remaining bunkers. Bane had led the guardians into the range of the marines gauss rifles. The guardians, caught by surprise, turned again on the bunkers. Things were heating up. I started moving further from the front line and Bane caught up with me, "Your defenses will not hold, the zerg here are not finished yet." I looked back to see the remaining guardians and the marines in the bunkers battle it out. The high powered gauss rifles shredded half the airborne menaces before the bunkers finally collapsed. The marines who climbed out of the wreckage opened fire on the last flyers only to be singled out and crushed with the gobs of corrosive acid. Suddenly, there were no more defenders for the siege tanks. The tanks unsieged and began to retreat, but fell one at a time as they tried to escape. Then relief came in the form of a dozen shiny new goliath war-walkers; rumbling in to engage the guardians. Hellfire missile packs streaked across the battlefield and the guardians exploded in showers of blood and gore on impact. The Terrans enjoyed a brief victory, but it had cost them most of their defenses. The line of bunkers was rubble, along with all the missile turrets and half the siege tanks. SCV's scooted out to rebuild bunkers and make what repairs they could to the devistated tank squad. The confidence of the army was fading fast. Orders were issued to begin evacuating the base. Dropship construction was started at the starports while the SCV's scrambled to get a makeshift front line ready to protect the evacuating survivors while they waited on the dropships. They gathered up what marines they could scrap together, about two dozen total. Me and Bane even took up positions behind the bunkers. "Job's finished!" Called the SCV's one after the other as they finished the bunkers. Most of the marines and firebats filed into the bunkers, there wasn't enough room for about 8 of us The SCV's had just started construction on two more bunkers when the crash of the siege tanks exploded around us. They crashed again as more zerglings came into range. They were crushed instantly, but more just kept pouring in. They charged in by the hundreds, we could see as they came into our view. The bunkers came ablaze with gauss rifle fire and the tanks blasted again. We were devastating the on comers, but they just didn't quit. Casualties meant nothing to them and killing one made the rest all the more aggressive. The ground and zerglings were pelted with bullets, but still some raced in under the range of the siege tanks to the bunkers. Bane and I defended the bunker we were closest to, firing at the wave of zerglings covering the bunkers and siege tanks. Siege tanks were torn and mangled to scrap metal by the ravaging brood of zerg. From the bunkers, the firebats roasted the zerglings by the dozen. But the bunkers just kept taking damage until they started to burst into flames and corrode. I shouted an order to the marines around me, "We got to help those marines escape from those bunkers! They'll give soon, and they'll need cover or they be surround by those things!" The marines closed formation on the bunkers and started blasting zerglings off the door and roof of each bunker. Bane even blasted at them with his spines, sending them spinning off the bunker to land torn in the dirt. The doors flew open and the marines and firebats ran out as we shot zerglings out of the air that dove at them from over the bunkers. We all ran backwards while firing when we could at the zergling horde. The zerg started ripping into the base and we moved to the back were the starports and the evacuation ships were waiting. The survivors had been evacuated and all that remained was us-the soldiers who defended them while they escaped. The zerglings were closing in on us as the dropships came into view ahead, hovering with the rear doors open waiting for us. The quick zerglings started teaming up on marines and tackling them to the ground as they ran, cutting and stabbing them to death. Our numbers had thinned out by 6 or 7 guys before we made it to the drop ships. The most injured ones got on first as the best of us held off the zerglings with concentrated gauss fire. The numbers closed in and we started losing more marines. Even a few die-hard firebats were tackled to the ground and ripped to gory pieces. Me and Bane were at the door of one of the last dropships, firing at zerglings that tried to chase us up the ramp. The zerglings were everywhere, cutting us down by the pairs. "Time to go!" I yelled to Bane. We turned and ran into the ship, zerglings bounding at our heels. The door slid up with a clang the clawing and scrapping of zerglings on the outside of the metal shell could be heard. The zerglings screamed as the engines roared to life and the ship shuddered into the air. Below us, the horde of zerglings ravaged the buildings, leveling the base. "Were are we going?" I asked a marine next to me. He was reloading his rifle and took a minute to answer me, "To the fleets in orbit. The orbital station is our last stronghold against the zerg, but we lost contact with it a few hours ago." The dropship rocketed into orbit were a dark platform loomed out of the darkness. I could hear Bane grumbling all the way. Some marines asked what his problem was and he answered for himself, "I hate dropships!" The dropship moved in close to the station and the pilot maneuvered the back of the ship up to the airlock. It sealed around the rear of the ship with a hiss and the door slid open. But no brightly lit hallway and steel mesh floors greeted their eyes. Only a dark, broken hallway and a few glittering eyes in the dark. Sparks showered from an electrical short in the ceiling, revealing a hungry zergling pack charging in for the kill. Bane raised his synths for battle and the marines laid into their gauss rifles

To be continued...

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Bane 3: Noble Sacrafice

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The Bullets bounced and sparked off the walls; Bane's needles blowing small metal shrapnel out of the wall were they hit. The electrical short stopped and the hall was bathed in darkness again. The scratching sound of clawed feet on steel mesh floors came out of the shadows. The marines stopped firing and waited with their guns held at the ready, pointed out to the impeding darkness. We were packed in the ship, two by two, and the front two marines turned on their headlamps. The lights pierced the darkness, revealing an empty hall devastated with gauss fire. "Were'd our little buddies go?" asked the front marine, waving his gun back and forth across the hall. Bane and I were behind them. We stepped out slowly as the Marines in front of us quietly advanced into the hall. Bane spoke up as soon as we stepped out, "It's too quiet here, keep on your guard." The marines in front of us and behind us jumped and turned, pointing their guns around. One yelled out, "Who said that?!" Bane snarled lightly, "It was me," he answered. They all jumped again, looking around for the source of the message. I recognized their confusion and gave them the answer, "It was Bane here, He can't pronounce words so he speaks telepathically." The marines exchanged relieved, yet confused looks and just shrugged. "He's right though," one said, "It IS a little to quiet for my liking." The squad leader spoke up, "Quiet or not, there's been a disaster on this ship and there may still be survivors. We gotta get to the primary command bridge and see if we can get power back to this floor." We slowly eased down the hall, covering one another in case the zerg decided on a surprise attack, which they are known to do. Just as we turned a corner, the zerglings came out of hiding. Suddenly, the thudding and scraping of feet came from both in front of us and behind us. Everyone turned and shifted, trying to see were they would come from first. With a loud crash and wicked little snarls, the ceiling tile above my head fell away, and zerglings dropped out on top of me. I heard gauss rifles going off as the rest of the attackers came from both sides while everyone was distracted with the zerglings from the roof. A trio of the little monsters were on top of me, clawing and stabbing when they could. I couldn't get my long guass rifle up for a shot. All I could do was roll around and hamper their attacks. Marines screamed and yelled as the numbers bore down on us. I saw, despite the screeching, clawing creatures that wrested me to the ground, a pair of marines go down under the weight of countless zerglings. They kicked and yelled, like I was doing, as the zerglings stabbed their way through their power suits. I finally collapsed on my back and the lings went into a fury. They stabbed and punched at my armor, blood covered my hands as I pushed away their snapping jaws. Marines screamed and gurgled blood around me, and slowly stopped struggling against the zerglings. The lings continued to hack at them even though they were helplessly injured. We were nearly over run when Bane came to the rescue. "Hold still!" he told me hastily. I stopped resisting and lay flat on my back. I heard a deep snarl and a two foot synth swooped over me like a golf club, swatting one zergling and sending it sailing against the wall. I saw the synth swing by again, scattering the other two. Only one ling got up from Banes attack, backing warily into the darkness. I Sat up and grabbed my gauss rifle while Bane stabbed and swatted at any zergling close enough. The remaining marines were in a panic, yelling and firing at anything with a carapace. The zerglings who killed the forward marines finished their terrible work and scrabbled over the torn bodies to attack us. The marines opened fire on the hall, spraying the advancing zerglings with multiple rounds. The first of the zerglings were instantly cut down, but their brethren trampled right over their fallen comrades and tackled more marines. I ran up and kicked a zergling off one while Bane did what he could to keep the bulk of the zerglings at bay behind us: gunning them from afar and slashing the foolish ones that came close enough. I helped one marine up and we moved to help the remaining three. But we were too late and the zerglings finished them off and came for us. Zerglings, by shier numbers alone, started to leak through Banes defenses and come for us; surrounding us on both sides. I was tackled to the ground; I had a faint recollection of the last marine falling with me under the weight of our enemies. Then Bane was there again, sweeping the zerglings off us with one mighty swoop after another. The zerglings rebounded instantly and dove at the hydralisk. Bane lunged and moved his synths in the zerglings flight path, catching one with the point of his synth. The rest hit him in mid-leap, staggering him backwards. Bane stumbled back alittle, but he kept his footing. With a raging growl, he slung them all off. Zerglings sailed and smacked the walls, a few got up, most of them didn't. With a deep-throated, rumbling growl, Bane roared his rage and wrath at the attackers. The remaining zergling squealed and whimpered, retreating quickly into the darkness once more. We hurried them along with a combination of guass fire and needle spines. "Good job," I said as I helped the sole-surviving marine to his feet. He was pretty shaken up, but not badly injured. Luckily, the power suit had taken most of the abuse-it hung like scrap metal on him. We could hear-but not see-the zerglings scampering back down the hall, leaving their brethren in torn piles on the floor. Bane still held his synths ready, facing the darkness. I bent down and picked up my gauss rifle again, "You really showed them whos boss," I said. The silence crept in and all I could see was what the marine revealed by sweeping his power suits lights back and forth across the hall. Then the sound of zergling feet on mesh steel floated back up the hall to us. They sounded different somehow, the thudding accompanied by a dragging, almost slithering noise. Bane became tense, snarling low in his throat, "Do you know were to go?" he asked. I jammed a new clip into my guass rifle, "Yeah, we gotta make it to the generator room, we wont get much done with the power out." The familiar, fierce roar of hydralisks rumbled down the hall to greet us. "Run!!" Bane said as the marine's lights flashed across the faces of four hungry hydralisks and a fresh mob of zerglings. "GO!!!" Bane snapped at me. I shook my head and ran past Bane and the marine into the dark hall. Bane turned as I went by and sidled along beside me. The last marine turned to run, but he was just a little too slow. The hydralisks stopped abruptly and opened their chest cavities as the zerglings ran out ahead. They fired in unison and peppered the poor marine's back with spines. I heard him scream and turned around in time to see him trip and fall forward beneath the hail of needles. "Common, there's no hope for him!" Bane stopped and yelled back to me. I became sick, "No!! We can still save him!" The fallen marine disappeared beneath the carpet of zerglings. Bane turned and continued down the hall. Unfortunately, he was right. I turned on the last marine and ran with Bane as the hydralisks continued the chase. The lights from the marine's headlamps disappeared behind the bulky frames of the pursuing hydralisks. It became extremely difficult to see were you where going without the lights from the marines suits. I started ping-ponging off the walls, "Hey!! I cant see!" I heard Bane sidling out in front of me, "But I can, follow me," He called back. My ghost suit didnt have night vision but it had built in inferred targeting. I flipped the goggles down and turned them on. My vision was filled with fields of blue, except for the living creatures around me. Their body heat caused them to glow red in the goggles. Bane was easier to follow-at least I could see him. "Where do we go?" He asked me as we ran. "We need to make it to the generator circuit on this floor and get the power back on, then well take the supply elevator to where ever we need to go." Bane snorted as needle spines whistled by my ear, chipping the walls between us. "Could you be a little more specific, we dont exactly have time to search for it!" I turned and backpedaled, firing my rifle at the red blobs shaped like hydralisks in my goggles. They shifted and dodged in the hall as they followed us, firing clumsily back when they could. It seemed they had a hard time shooting spines and running at the same time, their aim was miserably off. "Its the biggest door," I yelled up to Bane, "You cant miss it!" Bane stopped abruptly and rammed right through a door. Light flooded the hall from the room, powered by the emergency batteries. I jerked the goggles off my head and ducked into the room. I ran over to the control panel and flipped some switches, the round generator in the room hummed to life as it built up a charge to start the circuits on this floor. Outside we could hear the hydralisks catching up with us, the slithering sounds coming closer and closer. I picked up my gun and Bane opened his chest cavity. We aimed at the empty doorway and waited for them to fall into our trap. "Aim for the augments, theyre the only thing not armored," Bane told me. I aimed a little low, were the snake like muscle would be, slithering them along. Sure enough, they lumbered into the doorway, and we opened fire, shredding the floor around them. They roared and danced on the bullets, the two on the sides ducked back into the hall. But the pair in the middle were stuck between the ones on the outside, and got hammered with shots. The impaler rounds from my gauss rifle tore through the sensitive augments like flat tires. The hydralisks crumpled to the floor, wailing in pain. We blasted them into the ground while they were down, but it took most of my gauss rifle clips and Bane was panting by the time they finally stopped snarling and twitching. We didnt get much of a rest because the other two hydras were on top of us as soon as the firing stopped. They lunged in the door, one after the other. Bane was ready and shoved the first one, knocking him back into his partner. The first one fell over the second and I let loose the last clip for my rifle, aiming for the delicate spot. The second one managed to jump free of the line of fire, and lunged for Bane with its synths. Bane threw his blades up and they locked synths, each dro afraid to let the other one go. I finished off the third Hydralisk and wanted to help Bane, but I couldnt get a shot safely in, not with him so close to the enemy. They lunged and shoved each other around, smashing into walls and control panels. It was pretty easy to tell them apart, Bane was much bigger. They raged and snarled in each others faces, displaying their wrath. Bane gave one final, mighty shove and the blades unlocked with the harsh sliding sound of synth on synth. The hydralisk stumbled backwards and Bane blasted him with a round of his needles, sending it over on its back. Bane lunged in swinging, and landed on top of the other. He sat up and hacked wickedly into his enemy. The hydralisk tried its best to fight back, but Banes superior size and strength won out in the end. He was busy hacking into his enemy, who flailed its synths around in meager little attempts to block the blows, when the zerglings caught up. Bane was in the doorway, and they went straight for him this time. About a dozen of the little beasts poured in the door, covering Bane the way ants cover a piece of candy. Bane was already low to the floor from killing the hydralisk, so the group had no trouble knocking him over. He went down snarling and swinging, managing to knock one away before he went down. I blasted the one he repelled before it made it all the way back to the floor. He whipped his synths around wildly, trying to escape the stabbing little terrors. I ran over and kicked the mass of zerglings, doing nothing but upsetting one of them into attacking me. It turned with hungry jaws and lunged for my throat. I side-stepped just in time to avoid its flashing claws. I pointed my rifle at it and pulled the trigger. Click I flipped the gun over and gripped the barrel tight. The zergling turned and lunged again, not knowing that I was the home-run champ for my battalion. I eyed the zerglings flight path and when the time was right, I swung with all for all I was worth. I heard the crack of my rifle splitting in half, telling me that I hit my mark. The zergling made a whooshing noise as all the wind was knocked out of it as it beamed across the room like a missile. The zergling hit the wall with a crunching of bones and carapace. Then the zergling group started teaming up on Bane. A trio would hold down each synth while the rest piled on top for the kill. Just when I was feeling totally helpless, the lings on top started rising up; as if Bane was growing beneath them. The tell-tale sound of Bane firing his spines could be heard and the zerglings on top began exploding. They splattered with shrill squeals, and the ones on his arms panicked and jumped on top to help their friends. As soon as they did, Bane was impaling them with his synths, until 9 of the original zerglings were reduced to twitching piles of broken carapace on the floor. I ran up and booted another and Bane managed to heave them off and stand up. As soon as they saw that Bane was up again, the remaining pair of lings turned and ran back out of the room, and back down the hall. I looked over and noticed Bane was in bad shape again: dozens of small puncture marks from the zerglings little teeth and synths dotted his carapace. "Will you be okay?" I asked, studying his wounds. "Ill live," he answered slowly. Just as he answered the lights down the hall flickered on one at a time until the entire corridor was illuminated with a dull white light. "Powers on," I said, "lets go!" Bane nodded and we stepped outside warily. I looked down the hall both ways. It was empty again. "The supply elevator should be at the end of this hall," I started to explain but Bane stopped suddenly and closed his eyes. He remained very still and quiet until he spoke again, "Shes here," he said, "I thought I sensed her crooked will when we first arrived but I wasnt sure. Im positive of it now." His words confused me, "Who is she? And whats the big deal about her?" Bane snorted and gave me a shove, rushing me down the hall as he explained, "The queen of blades! Her evil will radiates through this vessel as we speak!" Bane was moving so fast I nearly stumbled trying to keep from being run over by him, "You mean to tell me that the rumors about an infested women single-handedly dictating the swarms are true?" Bane didnt get a chance to answer because a deep roar rumbled down the hall to us as we came to the elevator. We whipped around to see another pair of hydralisks standing at the end of the hall. But there was something different about these hydralisks. They looked bigger; with bulky square shoulders and longer synths. I realized with a twinge of fear that these were no ordinary hydralisks-they are hunter-killers. "Theres her escort-Lets Go," Bane shot at me. I punched the button for the elevator and the hunter killers snarled and started rampaging down the hall toward us. Bane watched the moving lights above the elevator door and sighed impatiently, "I hate machines," he repeated. With a 'Ping!' the elevator door slid open and we jumped inside. I mashed the button panel with my hand hastily; it didnt matter were we went as long as it was away from those monsters. Another 'Ping!' sounded and the elevator doors slid shut just as the Hunter-killers stopped to fire their needles. I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt the elevator lurch downwards beneath me. "I was hoping you would tell it to go up," Bane said after a few seconds. "Whys that?" I asked casually. Suddenly, a loud clang came from the roof of the elevator as if someone dropped an oil drum on it. The elevator shuddered and screeched to a stop as the lights flickered off and on. "Thats why," Bane answered. The steel mesh on the ceiling fell away as a synth stabbed through it, shattering the light in the middle. I pressed the emergency stop button and the doors slid open again. We were halfway between one floor and another and the floor between them was visible in the doorway. The synth stabbed through again and ripped the first hole a little wider. "This is my floor," Bane said, lunging to dodge the synth. Bane could only fit through the top floor-The bottom was open just enough for me to barely squeaze through, muchless Bane. I let Bane climb through first. As soon as he made it out, the elevator lurched again-closing the gap bewteen the floors. "Aaw, shit!" I said outloud as I stepped out of the elevator. "Stand clear!" came Bane's muffled remark from the ceiling above me. I took a few exrta steps away from the elevator as the Hunter-Killer smashed both synths through the elevator roof and began peeling the metal away; forcing his way in. Just as the Hunter-Killer droped into the elevator the lights inside it flickered and went out. I heard Bane snarl above and the elevator shuddered one last time. The hunter killer lunged for me but it only managed a clumsy stumble as Bane cut the elevator cables with his synths. The elevator screeched and fell away into the dark shaft, taking the unfortunate hunter-Killer with it. It took nearly 8 seconds before we heard the crash of the elevator hiting the bottom of the shaft like a meteor. An erie silence took over. I held on to the wall and leaned as far as I dared into the elevator shaft and shouted up, "Bane! You okay?!" Bane snarled lightly somewhere above my head, "Of course. What floor are you on?" I turned and looked around. Lighted labels above the doors indicated what each one led too. They said things like Starport Hanger, Evacutation Bay, Wraith launch Port 3. I leaned back up and shouted up to Bane, "It looks like the aircraft floor! Were are you?" Baned snarled some more as he answered, "I can't read these scribles!" I laughed and smacked my forehead for forgeting. "What do you say to getting the hell outta here?" Bane sent down to me. "Sounds good to me," I said. "Since you're already on the right floor, go find us a dropship and warm it up. I'll find a way down to you." I nodded and realized Bane couldn't see me and shouted up to him again, "Okay!" I said and turned to jog to the nearest door when another message floated down to me, "Charly," I gasped. It was the first time Bane had used my name. He continued, "If I don't show up, take off without me." "What?!" I yelled back. "You heard me, Mortal! It is not safe here. If I don't return, leave me." A lump formed in my throat, hampering my voice, "But how will I know if you're not coming?" Bane's confident voice broke into my mind, "You will know," I yelled back up to him, trying to protest, but he was gone. I turned and solemly walked to the nearest door and punched the button to open it. I sighed and walked in, feeling an impending doom haning just over my head.
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Bane sidled down the hall ignoring Charlies call behind him and frowned at the strange symbols and lines glowing above each door. He snarled irritably chose the closest one, impaling it and ripping it off the hinges. He sidled through into a huge room with dim lights glowing high on the ceiling above. He looked around, desiding that this room was not the one he wanted. Bane turned to leave when he spied a figure standing in the doorway. It had two legs and a pair of wicked arms that protruded infront of a set of scrawny wings. The head was a twisted mass of hair, centered on top of what used to be a human face. It's eyes glowed a dull yellow in the shadow. The figure stepped aside, leting something else in. The second figure was obviously the other hunter killer, its bulky frame and long synths outlined by the brighter light of the hallway. The hunter-killer stood still for a few seconds before sensing Kerrigans will and lunging in to battle Bane. Bane fired needle spines as it moved in, but they bounced harmlessly off thick carapace. The hunter-killer dove at Bane with both synths swinging. Bane fiented left and smashed the Hunter-killer in the back as it went by, sending it stumbling foreward into a wooden crate. The crate shattered beneath the beast. The hunter-killer was up again in time to see Bane charging in. It caught Bane in mid charge and their synths locked. The combatants snarled and growled at each other, shoving one another around. Bane was barily stronger than the Hunter-killer, slowly forcing it backwards. But the hunter-killer opened its chest cavity and blasted needles in Bane's face. Bane fell back and the hunter killer swung its synth wide. It came around and smashed into Banes side, piercing the carapace and passing in all the way up the hunter-killer's arm. Bane wailed in pain and swung immeadiatly afterwords in a uppercut that brought both his synths through the throat of the Hunter-killer; the tips just breaking through the top of its head. Bane, impaled painfully by the dead hunter-killers synth, fell with his enemy, blood gushing out of his lethal wound. Kerrigan walked leisurly over to the fallen warriors and cackled wickedly. Bane jerked his synths free of the hunter-killers throat and used them to force the synth out of his body. Ever-so-slowly, the synth slid out and more blood gushed onto the floor. "Well done, my pet! I couldn't have done better myself, except for the mortal wound part," Kerrigan said as she stared down at Bane. Growling with painful effort, Bane stood up and raised his bloody synths for battle. "Still got some fight left in you, huh? Let's see what you got," Kerrigan said, waving one hand-welcoming Bane's attack. Bane roared and swung his right synth with everything he had left. Kerrigan easily ducked the swing and Bane swung with his left. Kerrigan leaned back, the synth wiffing in front of her face. Bane stumbled onto the floor with the momentum of his own swing, snarling in shame. Kerrigan put her pale hand to her face, a tiny cut was there from where she timed Bane's attack just a second off. "My turn," Kerrigan sneered and bent down, grabbing one of Banes arms and slinging him over her shoulder into another crate. Bane hit the crate like a sack of dirt and lay in the floor until Kerrigan moved over to him and picked him up by the shoulders and lifted him off his augument. She laughed and crushed Bane against the floor, mopped him up and threw him from wall to wall until he whimpered in pain. She picked him up again and held him against a hard vespene reservior, blood seeped out steadily from the synth wound. She laughed again and spoke outloud to him, "Dear, simple Bane. How long did you think that you could possibly stray from my will? Afterall, you are my creation and you are bound by your genetics to follow my rule." Bane snarled weakly and managed a strained answer, "...I will die before I follow you...you kill innocent creatures and raid peacefull planets..you bitch...I despise you....." Kerrigan's smile leaked away, changing to an angry frown. She shoved him higher up against the tank and reared her arm back and began smashing the hydralisk across the face so hard his head moved from side to side with each blow. She finally stopped and her fake smile came back, "You could have been one of my greatest cerebrates-leading the swarms to countless victories. But you have a flaw-you are weak. You refused destroy the Terrans on Tarsonis, you wouldn't even attack the Protoss as they came to foil my plans!" Bane choked and coughed, blood seeping down the sides of his mouth, ".I ..am not.. weak.....I am not one of your...mindless..pawns..and I'll destroy you...for making my..existance so miserable!" Kerrigan backhanded Bane again, blood flying across the room in a fine little spray. Bane opened his mouth and managed to spit in Kerrigans face. She shrieked with her scratchy, infested voice and smashed Bane against the wall again, carapace and bones crunched out loud. Bane whimpered faintly. "And how do you expect to accomplish such a feat, wounded and dieing as you are now?" she said in a mocking tone. With his last strength, Bane reared one synth foreward and swung it backwards, smashing it into the steel hull of the giant vespene tank he was held against. Green gases spewed out and Bane swung again, coughing blood. Kerrigan's eyes grew wide and she lunged to stop Bane's synth, but she was too late...
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I watched the idling dials and guages impatiently when the dropship shuddered suddenly. I looked out the windshield and noticed that the whole hanger was rocking violently. Something was terribly wrong, and Bane still hadn't returned. He said to leave without him, but I just couldn't bring myself to push in the throttle and abandon him here. An alarm started going off, and the fire siren in the hanger started going nuts. The shaking got worse and worse-the dropship practically bounced around. The hanger in front of me started to take on a red hue and I stuck my head out of the pilots window and looked behind the dropship. In the long corridoor that leads to the hanger, a wall of flames raged through, consuming all the oxygen. "I guess Bane was right when he said I would know," I said to myself and closed the window. I gassed the engines just as the firestorm ingulfed the hanger and all the ships in it. I shot into a tunnel leading out. Super-heated by the launch chute, the flames raced just behind my dropship, causing severe turbulence. The engines strained and I jerked the control stick left and right, following the tunnel. Finally, with the flames licking the back cargo hatch, the black void of space loomed at the end of the tunnel. I zoomed through the tunnel and out into the open. The alarm was still going off for a few seconds, until a deafening blast that sounded like a planet exploding nearly shattered my eardrums. The orbital platform exploded into a huge ball of fire and began sinking to the planet, its orbit around tarsonis decaying. Watching the flaming wreck enter the atmosphere and burn into little pieces, the shock suddenly wore off and reality set in. Bane was dead, as far as I knew. My worst enemy turned best-friend was gone for good, consumed in the firery explosion-and I never even got a chance at farewell...
I collapsed over the control panel and covered my face with my arms-letting the unstoppable sobs come, wondering if I would ever see my friend again.

To Be continued...

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