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Bane 7-9
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Bane 7: Vile Betrayal

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The ship bay on the huge dominion building opened by itself when we drew near. A pounding thunderstorm had blown in and the rain buffeted our ship around as I maneuvered into the hangar. As the curtain of water streaming over the door was parted by the windshield of the ship, I spotted four MP's standing in the Hangar. The landing gear swung down as I cut the engines and the ship hit the floor with a satisfying metallic thud. I flipped the switch that opened the cargo door and one of the MP's shut the hangar door behind us. Jumping down from the pilots hatch to join Bane and the Advisor at the rear of the ship, I threw my hand up in salute to the MP's and they returned it. "Specialist Charely Daniels reporting in," I said, "Mission successful." "Well done, we'll take the advisor from here." One of them said and two MP's and the advisor we just saved walked away, leaving the remaining MP's with us. One of them spoke up when the MP's and the advisor were out of the room. "The emperor is prepared to speak to you, follow us to the office." "Wait!" I said, "Again? We just finished a mission-we don't get a little break?" One of them sighed, "You'll have to take that up with Mengsk. All we know is that he ordered us to escort you to the office immediately following your arrival. Now, are you gonna follow us peaceably or do we hafta drag you up there?" Bane began a deep growl behind me, taking the MP's off handed comment as a threat. "Don't get yourselves hurt," I warned them with a sneer, "We're coming." They turned and led the way out of the Hangar to the elevator we used last time. After a quick ride to the top; they followed us all the way to the wooden double doors, stopping just outside as we went in. The office was dark and gloomy. The three great windows flared with light as thunder clapped outside. A single desk lamp showed the Emperor to be hard at work on some important looking papers. We approached the desk and he looked up, taking his reading glasses off, "Gentlemen! Extraordinary job saving the advisor! A whole army of Marines couldn't have done any better-" "Wheres my food?" Bane interrupted. Mengsk laughed out loud, his voice echoing through the expanse of his office. "All in due time, my hungry friend, we have important matters to discuss." Bane snarled irritably and Mengsk continued, "I know you have just returned from a vigorous mission, but your services are needed now more than ever. The Rebel factions have become outraged with the recovery of the Advisor. They have banded together and are actively engaging Dominion cities, but we were lucky enough to intercept one of their latest transmissions. It appears the rebels are planning an attack on the Capitol, and are already on the way with multiple troops. The local militia can handle the invaders in most cases, but we are outnumbered on the southwest side of the city. I need you to take my personal militia and lead them to ambush the incoming rebel convoys before they reach the-" "I won't listen to another word if you don't come off with my food!" Bane snarled. The emperor laughed again; I even snickered alittle under my breath. "Alright, alright!" Mengsk gave in, reaching out and hitting the button on his holophone. In a minute, a high pitched voice rang out from it, "Yes, sir?" Mengsk leaned forward and spoke calmly, "Bring me a second dinner, Philis." "Another 18 ounce well done?" the holophone asked. "No," Mengsk said, studying Bane for a minute, "You'd better bring the whole rack." The voice in the holophone stuttered, "A whole rack?! Are you serious?" "I won't ask again," Mengsk said impatiently. "Yessir!!" the holophone croaked before shutting off. "What's a whole rack?" Bane asked me quietly while Mengsk argued with his secretary. "If you like military issue hamburger and the critters on Char-you'll like this." I assured him. Then the emperor started spouting boring details about our mission again, "The troops are already en route to escort you to the ambush site. You have one hour before the strike force arrives, the best of luck to you both."

We didn't have much time to rest. While Bane wolfed down his food, I got a new Canister rifle with some lockdown rounds from the stockade. When I came back, the bay doors were open and the storm pounded outside. Bane was in front of the door, waiting on the dropship that approached slowly in the driving winds. I hate machines, he muttered as I came to stand next to him, staring at our lumbering escort.

The ride in the dropship was awkward, just us sitting in the back while someone else flew. We took a strange route out of the colony, far past where I thought the city limits were. Thats odd, I said, staring out the view port at the dark desert scene below, "It looks like were way past the city limits." It was still very dark outside, but the rain had slowed down considerably. I The pilot had a set of headphones on with a microphone and a message broke through the static. He listened for a minute and, turning around, he said, Were here! On your toes, boys! I looked out the window again, but it was impossible to distinguish anything except our height above the ground and some dull canyon walls that grew around us as we descended. The rear cargo hatch slid open and the sounds of gunfire and explosions wafted in with the cool night air. I sighed and jumped 5 feet to the ground because the dropship pilot wouldnt come down any closer. Bane hit the dirt next to me and I took my first look around. We were in a canyon with steep rock walls on either side. A rough road ran straight down the middle of this canyon, leading behind us to town and down the canyon somewhere in front of us. As I looked back towards the city, I noticed the lights of more drop ships approaching. They slowed overhead and descended the way our ship did, letting the troops spill out the back door before taking off again. I counted thirty marines, a dozen siege tanks and 6 upgraded goliaths that spewed from the ships. Who are they? Bane asked. Must be the private militia Mengsk was talking about. I answered, listening to the sounds of a fierce battle not so far down the canyon. Marines were shouting orders and the siege tanks moved out. I think we better go with em, I said and Bane and I hurried to catch up with the troops. I jogged out in front of a siege tank to the squad of marines. They didnt stop running as I started to ask questions, Were we headed? I asked. The squad leader spoke up without breaking his stride, Got a group of hostiles advancing on the front line, escorting the convoy and comsats indicate reinforcements closing in on the right flank. We came to a slope in the canyon, were the river that once flowed through it carved deep into the earth, making the canyon walls loom even higher above us. The ground sloped down and the sounds of battle drew close. Then, the siege tanks stopped abruptly and went into siege mode. Marines around us stimmed up and I said to Bane, This is it! Are you ready? He had been silently observing the entire scene and watching the canyons walls carefully the entire trip, not offering any conversation. I dont like this, he said finally, starting to follow me as the marines charged, Something doesnt seem right. I nodded and picked up the pace, Bane followed carefully behind. I could vaguely see the enemy line over the light of the burning buildings. Machine guns were going off and bullets pelted the ground around our feet. Whats going on? Bane asked frantically behind me. I looked back over my shoulder and the marines had stopped, letting us go out ahead. Bane had stopped too and faced them, and turned back to find the rebel forces were lined up behind too, as they all took aim at us. The machine guns were silent and everything stopped . Suddenly, the ground around us lit up like broad daylight as multiple spotlights illuminated the canyon from the enemy side and ours. Strangely enough for a battle field, silence reigned for a few seconds save for the roaring flames of the burning bunkers. We could clearly see the 30 marines in front of us, who had their rifles trained on Bane and I. The siege tanks were behind them, barrels posed to fire. Our own goliaths were facing us with 30mm auto cannons ready. Behind us, the enemy had forces of their own targeting us as well; marines, bunkers and more siege tanks lined the wide stone trail on the other side of us. I heard a roar of engines, and 9 wraiths soared over the canyon walls, swooping in low over us and coming to a hover 50 above our heads with laser batteries charged. We were surrounded on all sides, there was no escape. This doesnt look good, I said out loud as I heard guns cocking and hydraulic motors of the machines whining around us. Bane started snarling involuntarily at this new threat. Wait, I said, There are too many, dont provoke them! I knew Bane heard me, but his fighter instinct wouldnt let him go down peaceably, and he kept growling. So! a familiar voice with a thick southern accent boomed. We both whipped around in time to see a man in a power suit striding close to us, fearlessly stepping into range of our siege tanks and marines. The sole surviving cerebrate! I can hardly believe the sight of this. A hydralisk-Who would have guessed? As he drew near, I recognized him as none other than the emperor himself. Rage welled up in my throat, Whats the deal, Mengsk?! I exploded, You bring us out here to be ambushed by the rebels and our own army? Mengsk threw his head back and laughed, Really? What would make you think that?" he sighed. "Okay, you caught me, come along and you might live. Although, if you resist, I will allow the use of this deadly force, he said, gesturing to the troops that surrounded us. All we want is the hydralisk, these kind rebels have some important business to conduct with- Bane roared, interrupting him, MENGSK!! Youll pay for this!! Will I? he asked sarcastically, I think not. You see, my friend, you are the last remaining key to total dominance in this galaxy. Now, just throw down your weapons and come along- Ill die fighting before you capture me! Bane raged with clenched teeth. Mengsk started backing up towards the safety of the siege tanks and goliaths and kept talking, Son, if you dont cooperate on your own, Im afraid well have to force some cooperation he trailed off, letting the gleaming gun barrels finish for him. I looked to Bane, "What can we do against all this?" He shot me a quick look, "If I am captured, your mortal worlds are doomed," I nodded, knowing what Bane would do, regardless of what the odds were-he would fight, even if he couldn't win. "I'm only gonna say this one more time," Mengsk began again. Bane raised his synths, snarling terribly. I knew he wouldn't go down without taking a few enemies with him, so I decided that I would share his fate and die fighting alongside my friend. My hands began shaking violently as I loaded the first lockdown round into my canister rifle. The emperor started a countdown, "I'll give you to the count of five to drop your weapons and surrender: One...Two..." I turned on my cloak inhibitor and vanished beside the hydralisk. Mengsk managed to get to three before Bane lunged. The battle field exploded with the thunderous blasts of the machine guns as Bane went straight for Mengsk. I hit the dirt as bullets wizzed over my head and sent up little tufts of dirt as some shots just barely missed me. I carefully brought my canister rifle up and fired the lockdown round at the closest goliath. It was gunning away at Bane with its auto cannons when it suddenly stopped short, falling over as electrical energy covered it and shorted its circuits. I fired another, stopping a tank in its tracks, before switching to C-10 rounds. Bane was nearly within firing range of the emperor when I began picking off marines one at a time. In spite of the heavy load of bullets that Bane took head-on, he managed to open his chest cavity and get a few shots at the emperor. I heard Mengsk yell in pain and surprise as one of the hydralisks's shots hit its mark. Picking off marines, I saw Mengsk shout an order to his siege tanks while trying to stop the blood from running down one arm. The powerful blasts of the siege tank's arcilite cannons shook the ground under me and the recoil could be heard over every gauss rifle and machine gun. Luckily, most of the shots fell just short of Bane, setting the earth on fire and scorching him with their fiery shockwaves, but one shot hit him directly. I could hear Bane's wail of pain as the shell hit him squarely in the chest. I lost sight of my friend as the scolding flames completely engulfed him, burning him alive and crushing carapace with the force of the explosion. Bane came stumbling backwards out of the fireball, nearly flying, and the tanks fired again. The rebel side fired with the Dominion forces and the poorly aimed arcilite blasts shattered the ground around him. I had to look away as he was hit again. This time, two shots hit him directly, one from the dominion side and one from the rebels. The twin crimson explosions pummeled him with their ripping flames. I actually saw pieces of smoldering carapace fly out of the inferno as Bane's cry was muffled by the devastating firestorm. With the exception of my thunking canister rifle, the battle field grew silent as the smoke and fire cleared. I stopped firing and watched the scene unfold. My mouth hung open as Bane's smoldering form became visible again. Somehow, he was still standing; bleeding and scorched all over; favoring a dislocated arm with the other synth. Mengsk gave another gruff order and the machine guns started again. He could only snarl weakly, weaving under the hundreds of raining bullets before finally collapsing. He fell over backwards and the firing stopped slowly. The troops, Rebel and dominion, encircled him with gauss rifles pointed down, and closed in on him. I swung my canister rifle up to the closest marine and pulled the trigger. Click! It was out of ammunition. I could do nothing but watch as they got near. Bane was still writhing on the ground, a mass of bloody carapace and torn flesh. The hydralisk was still alive though, and he fought capture with everything he had left. The foolish marines got close and Bane managed a few swings with his synths, taking one guys leg off and stabbing someone else in the foot. The marines yelled at the resistance and mercilessly opened fire again, blasting Bane into the ground with bullets. If he lived, I could have waited until an opportunity came up for me to save him, but I lost my head and dove at one of the marines killing my helpless friend. He yelled to his commrades as something invisible tackled him to the ground. I smashed his face with the stock of my canister rifle in rage, busting his nose and mouth wide open. He screamed and held his face with his hands as I got up and used my gun like a bat on the next marine. He took the blow head-on and toppled into the group of enemies. They turned and opened fire in my general dirrection. I tried to run, but my legs exploded in pain, causing me to trip and fall. The troops stopped firing as dropship approached from the rebel side. I could do nothing but lay in the dirt and try not to scream with the pain. I tried to get up as they dragged Bane's limp form into the dropship and began marching south, down the canyon, but could only struggle a few steps before my legs collapsed beneath me. The dropship lifted off and the canyon slowly became deserted, with the exception of Mengsk and about 8 marines, who stayed behind. They were pretty close, so I could hear the conversation over my own panting breath. "I know he's here somewhere," Mengsk said. "Although I highly doubt it, the kid may be able to interefere with my plans," I winched as I tried to drag myself away. Mengsk continued, "I know a cloak inhibitor doesnt last forever, so when he reappears, take care of him." The marines chuckled amoungst themselves and Mengsk turned, following the convoy south.

Silence and darkness reigned as I watched the marines standing above me. I had alittle time to think, despite the pain and the impeding doom buzzing around me in the form of 8 guass rifles. There was no way out of this. The cloak inhibitor would run out of power and they will kill me. I couldn't hope to run away, my legs could barely sustain dragging me into a sitting postion against a rock. They had Bane, for whatever strange reason, and Mengsk had won. The marines seemed to draw in closer to me as I watched the last few digits of power click away on the inhibitor belt. Then, the inhibitor failed and my blood soaked body was suddenly visible. They walked up to me, and one of the marines said, "You fought bravely, kid, but you fought for the wrong side." They raised their rifles and I squeazed my eyes shut, waiting for the bullets to rip into me. No mighty synth would save me now, no terrifying growl would crack the still air. Instead, I heard a different sound: a sort of "Woosshink!" sound of psionic blades on throats came to my ears. I opened my eyes to see the marines heads popping one by one. They turned and tried to flee before the invisible assasins, but none of them made it more than ten feet before toppling forward onto the rock. I stared up at the thin air that had slain my assasins, "Who..What?" I stuttered. A voice came to my mind, breaking in the way Bane's voice does, "It does not matter who we are," The voice was deep and aged, but sounded far more inteligent than I ever thought possible. The dust shifted oddly around me as four dark forms slowly faded into my view. I gasped, never having seen a dark templar up close before. They were protoss alright, but different than any other. They wore no armor, only the tribal robes and tatered cloths of the Khala protected them. They only carriered one psionic blade apiece, but they were modified to be lighter and more powerful than any common zealot blade. They looked down at me, all four of them, and the one in the middle spoke up again, "We watched the emperor betray you." I sat up against a boulder, grunting with the effort of motion, "Yeah," I managed to say, "Mengsk took Bane away, but why?" The templar kept glancing at the puddle of blood that was slowly spreading from my legs, "There will be time for explainations later," he said as two of his comrades shut their blades down and grabbed my shoulders. They easily lifted me off my feet, carrying me by the arms. "We've never had to heal a terran before, but I believe we could manage," he trailed off as the templar hauled me away.

It was strange being in a protoss base. It wasn't really much of a base either; just a net of photon cannons and a shield battery filled the small rocky alcove hidden in the canyon wall. The temlpar couldn't heal as well as a trusty medic, but I could use my legs again. Another thing I noted about the protoss right away was how quickly they got down to business. No idling talking, no eating, no lazing around-none of the weaknesses of a terran army. As soon as I was healed, the descussion began again, "They took the cerebrate because he is the only remaining key to controling the broods," one of them started. I was trying to rub some feeling back into my numb legs and looked up, "How would you know?" I asked. The templar looked nearly insulted when he answered, "We templar have accutely tuned psionic abilities-we can read thoughts." "Can you tell what I'm thinking, then?" I asked. The templar's eyes glowed as he squinted them, staring at me for a minute. "No," he finally said, "I cannot guage them correctly when you hide them so, but your emperor was not so careful. He let his thoughts broadcast over the entire canyon-it is how we found you." I nodded, stowing that little bit of information away in the back of my mind, "How will they take control of the swarms with a hydralisk?" "Not just a hydralisk," he corrected, "A cerebrate-Kerrigan's cerebrate!" I only gave him a confused look and went back to work on my leg while he explained, "Long ago, the queen of blades noticed that the swarms were defeated too easily because their leaders were nothing but defensless worms, incapable of fighting back when enemies drew near. So kerrigan chose her strongest, most vercitile unit, the hunter-killer, to be her cerebrate. But upon bestowing a hunter kill with the powers of a cerebrate, she consequencly gave it a free will as well. The creature saw kerrigan's dark design for the evil plan it truly was and rebelled. The cerebrate then cast its swarms back at kerrigan and a huge battle ensued, even though it was out numbered by the queen's massive army. The hunter-killer's army was decimated, but the cerebrate escaped before she could destroy him." I nodded, but I still had more questions, "But what good is a cerebrate to Mengsk?" The templar thought a minute before answering, "Couldn't he use your crude terran technology to build an army, like the UED did to the overmind?" "You're right, that's probably why the rebels were there, too!" I said, jumping to my feet. "This has to be stopped!" "Agreed," said the Templar next to me, reaching into his robes and pulling out something boxy and metalic. "I found the terran marines carrying these primitive weapons-perhaps you could make some use of them," he said, handing me the guass rifle of a fallen marine. "Thanks," I said, "But why did you guys rescue me in the first place?" "Because," answered another templar, "The cerebrate is a powerful enemy, and with you along he may give in peacably. It is...odd: in all my centuries on the battle field, I have never seen such a bond in so merciless a creature as he. It fights to protect you...." the templar trailed off again, not finishing his statement. His head snapped back up after a minute, "We must go, our time is short." The other templar were already standing by, ready to leave. "Once we have recovered the beast, we shall ensure the safety of our race and yours and rid ourselves of the zerg menace forever; the creature must be destroyed to end the zerg swarms for good." "What?!" I interupted, stopping short and swinging my rifle up to the face of the templar who talked last, "Bane," I shouted at him, "has saved my life and the lives of countless others many times over," I jerked the bolt back on the gauss rifle, "And I won't let you or anyone else threaten him." The templar stood up to his full height, easily a foot or two above my head, and spoke with slitted eyes, "Either you help us on our terms," all four templar then activated their crackling psionic blades, "Or you'll share 'Bane's' fate." I studied the stern looks on the faces of the templar around me and considered my situation. The last time I lost my head, I got my legs nearly blown off. These templar wouldn't have any trouble dispatching one head-strong, over aggresive terran ghost; maybe they could get me into the rebel compound safely. If so, then who said I have to hang around and follow orders? I could use them to get inside the compound and then break away to find Bane on my own. "Alright!" I lied, "I suppose it's better than Mengsk or the Rebels controling the zerg." I lowered my gauss rifle and the templar seemed to relax again. The tense atmosphere passed and the protoss turned abruptly from me, walking out of the small base. "We have wasted enough time," was all the warning I got to move out. I checked the safety on my gauss rifle and jogged to catch up.

"Genetic decoding and transfer complete," droned the computers artificial voice. They had to bring the cerebrate back via dropship. 6 marines had to pack in with him; it took every bit of their strength to hold it down the entire trip. Upon arrival, a short battle ensued and they had to subdue it again with endless amounts of ammunition and a truck load of tranquilizers. But things were back under control again and they finally had him in the criotank. Mengsk stood next to the rebel commander and stared at the battered hydralisk floating unconcious in the cell. The powerful neurostim drugs kept him in a deep sleep as he healed slowly in the sterilized chemicals of the tank. "How much longer?!" asked Mengsk impatiently, "I want control, Now!!" The commander stalked away, getting the attention of the scientists and engineers hovering around the tank with clipboards and gadgets. In a minute, he came back to Mengsk with some sheets of paper containing a rough summary of the scientists' progress and discoveries. "Height," Began the rebel commander, "9 foot, 11 inches,Weight 384 pounds, 12 ounces" the rebel commander whistled sarcastically, "Species is a unique Cerebrate-Hydralisk Hybrid-" "Just get to the bottom line, Madelle." Mengsk interrupted. The commander, Robert Mandelle, continued after flipping through a few pages, "The neuroscan is complete and the cloning should commence soon. Once we have the cerebrate clones, we should be able to merge them into your overmind. From there, it's only a matter of time before you can build a formidable zerg army." "That's more like it!" Mengsk laughed, rubbing his hands together. "Get me a copy of his genetics, I dont want to lose them now," the emperor demanded. As Mandelle turned and began typing furiously at a keyboard, a marine entered the chamber and brought the emperor a message. "Sir?" he asked. "What is it?! Can't you see I'm busy?" Mengsk snapped irritably. "Y-Yessir!" stuttered the marine, "The delta squad hasn't reported in for over an hour now, and we havn't been able to raise them on the comsat." "Very well," Mengsk sighed, "Send someone out to check on them. There's no way that half-dead ghost with no gun could have stopped eight armed marines."

The rebel compound was built into a giant rock wall at the end of the canyon, were a water fall had once thundered over the cliffs high above. A single, great blast door was all that guarded the entrance-no armed gaurds, no siege tanks, and thankfully-no detectors. "I sense no one-it is safe." The templar said next to me. I heard the others' quick words of agreement and we stepped out of our cover behind a giant boulder. My cloak inhibitor had partially recharged and I turned it on as we got closer to the entrance. The door itself was huge-like nothing I've ever seen before. The steel was unmeasurably thick and the door was so wide and tall you could have manuevered a hovering command center through it. A large, covered light was glowing red above the door, indicating that it was locked up tight. I realized, suddenly, that this was one of those nuclear shelters built long ago during the Nuclear wars. "This is your technology, Terran. How do we get inside?" asked one of the tempar, tapping the thick steel with one fist. "Look around for a control panel," was all I could say. We walked back and forth in front of the door and even down the sides of the compound to the edge of the rock walls. Nothing. We regrouped in front of the door. "It must be opened from the inside," I said with a tone of defeat. Just as I finished my sentence the big light above the door suddenly switched colors, changing to a dark hue of green. A red, rotating lighted started spining and the canyon seemed to split open as the door slowly opened. The dark templar and I ran to the edge of the door, waiting to see what would happen. As the door crawled up, the sound of machines buzzing and people talking drifted outside. "As soon as you find out what those idiots are up to, give me a call!" boomed a gruff voice. Another voice called back with the sounds of a vulture engine reving to life, "Shut up, Joey! I'll be right back." "Now is our chance, GO!" came the pshycic message behind me. The vulture zoomed out of the door, a plume of dust rising in its wake as it took off up the canyon. We ducked inside as the door started to close again, the morning sun disappearing behind the steel and rock wall. Once my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I could take a look around. The room we were in was like a scrap yard. Pieces and parts of siege tanks, dropships, wraiths and vultures were everywhere. A few greasy mechanics were huddled over an unfamiliar looking peice of equipement and three more ran SCV's, welding frames for what looked to be a pair of tanks. Two marines guarded the door that led into the rest of the compound. A small, boxy devise was mounted above the door-a detector. We were at the other side of the room, but couldn't move near the door without being seen. Watching the noisy SCV's grind away on the frames, I got an idea. I whipped the guass rifle up and took the best aim I could manage with the clumsy sights. Wishing I had a nice, silenced canister rifle with a zooming scope, I squeezed the trigger gently, firing a single round at the cloak sensor mounted above the door. The rifle responed with a healthy "BLAM!" and the impaler round found its target, shattering the box off the cieling. The marines jumped and turned around, looking at the detector laying in the hallway in pieces, "Oh shit!" I heard one of them say. "Let's go," I said quickly and the Templar followed me through to the door. One marine had run to a panel on the wall and was calling for backup, the other was in the hallway, sweeping his gun left and right nervously. I was just going to walk right by the them but the templar didn't want to take any chances. I heard a psionic blade crackle to life and a gargled yell soon followed, and then another as the templar dispatched both the guards. I turned and they followed me down the hall which widened into a huge vaulted room devided by glass cubicles with tables covered by chemistry equipement and computers. I even noticed a few huge criotanks in the corners. Scientists in white lab coats worked behind the tables; marines were amoung them, pacing around with guns at the ready. A Templar had wandered over to one of the crio tanks and peered through the green glass, "Adun, what foul plot is this?!" He got everyones attention and soon we were all standing amoungst the scientists who gawked at the creature inside and watched the instrument panels spout numbers. I squinted through the translucent tube and gasped at what I saw. It was one of the cerebrates that controled the zerg. It looked like a fat, slimy worm floating in dirty water to me, but what it meant was terrible. If Mengsk could clone cerebrates, there would be no end to his control over the swarms and he would completely dominate the sector with two armies at his command. "This cannot be allowed..." said one of the templar, reactivating his blade. The other templar agreed and I backed up a little, eyeing the marines that patroled the room amoungst the scientists. The criotank was bubbling away, incubating the growing cerebrate when the closest templar ripped the machine wide open with his blade of light. The water inside gushed out onto the floor and the templar began desimating the computers and smashing the glass tubes of chemicals off the tables. The scientists yelled and fled as the criotank sparked and burst into flames, and the marines came pouring in from everywhere. The dark templar moved through the confused ranks of the marines and began cutting them down, one by one. The marines fired in all directions, and the darktemplar's blue plasma shields appeared and vanished again as they absorbed the bullets. But once they were shot and visible for a split second, more marines would take up the target, making them all the more visible. It was chaos; guns were going off and echoing loudly off the rock walls and marines were yelling orders and screaming in pain when they let a dark templar get too close. The marines' numbers started to dwindle until the sounds of heavy boots pounding on rock floors could be heard through the gunfire and screams. Firebats emerged by the pair from a central door at the other end of the room, charging for the Dark templar. It was here I thought about making my escape and finding Bane amidst the chaos. I took a quick glance at the Templar surrouded by hostile terrans and turned on the scene to find Bane, running through the biggest door in sight. Jogging down the hallway, I hoped my sense of direction was right. Bane would require only the largest of passages, so the large hallway looked reassuring as it flashed by. When I came abruptly to another glass wall, with a thick, air-tight glass door, I tried to peer through the glass, but the wire netting running through it distorted the view. Trying the handle, and finding it locked, I used my guass rifle to blow the glass out of the door. It was bulletproof, so it took nearly the rest of my clip to blow a hole in it large enough for my hand. I reached through and opened the door from the inside, kicking the glass shards out of my way as I walked in. Just as the door shut behind me, the glass wall exploded. Marines jumped up from hiding spots behind tables, gunning at the invisible intruder that just walked in. I dove, landing hard on my stomach on the other side of the hall as bullets wizzed by, clipping the walls and shattering the glass behind me. I crawled forward, until I was out of the line of fire some, and began returning fire, pelting marines as they stood up to make their shots. A marine yelled as he went down in my hail of bullets and I heard a familiar voice. The emperor shot past the marines to a door at the other end of the room, yelling for the marines to follow him. They fired fiercly down the hall, keeping me behind cover until the last one had filed through the door after Mengsk, and then the door slamed shut with a metalic clang. The sudden silence was odd, even the battle outside had died down some. I got up carefully and walked over to the large tank in the center of the room. This tank was clear-I could see right through it: a hydralisk was floating inside with a breather over its mouth. It was huge, it filled the tank, and had long, deadly synths that hung idlely by its sides. This was definately Bane. Just as I lifted my rifle up to blast the glass out of the criotank, a cold hand grabbed the back of my neck, lifting mr off my feet. An angry psionic voice peirced my mind, "I warned you before! You left us to die so you could save the impure one, now you shall share his fate!" The templar slung me backwards against a table, knocking the glass tubes and bottles onto the floor. I yelled as I hit the table and fired my rifle at him, even though he still had a tight grip on my throat. The bullets pelted his plasma shield and he activated his blade, slashing the weapon in two. It fell out of my hands in pieces and I yelped as he held the blade at my throat. Wether it was the drugs wearing off, or my desprate cry that woke Bane, I would never know. But wake he did as I saw him over the shoulder of the templar. His eyes snapped open and the breather came off his mouth with a spray off bubbles as the water muffled his outraged snarl. Just as death was so close I could feel the heat of the modified blade, Bane reared both synths back and shattered the walls of his glass prison. The liquid inside gushed out onto the floor, sweeping the templar off his feet. He fell over backwards and dropped me on the stone as Bane came through the glass, jumping to the floor, growling angrily. I rolled away from the templar and got to my feet, coughing from the templar's grip on my throat. The templar nearly missed being impaled to the floor as Bane lunged for a stab at him. He rolled to his feet, but he was covered in the wet chemicals of the criotank, and the clinging liquid made him visible. They went at eachother and the templar's psionic cry of surprise cracked the air as the hydralisk took a wicked slash to the shoulder and kept coming. Bane overpowered the smaller enemy, smashing him around, draining his plasma shields. The templar stumbled back from the attacks and Bane lunged in swinging a synth wide. The blue plasma shield flashed, lighting the room in crackling protest as the templar was knocked to the floor from the blow. He pratically slid into the criotank and Bane lunged for the kill. "STOP!!" I yelled, and Bane pinned the templar by the throat instead of disembowling him, "Why should this...Protoss live?!" Bane snapped. The templar's eye's glowed fiercly, but he couln't move or it would have been the last thing he ever did. "Because," I said calmly, "If it wasn't for them I would be dead, they deserve the same in return." Bane growled in his opponents face, and the templar returned his death cold stare a minute before Bane shoved him and let go. The templar got up slowly and shut his psionic blade down. "And we may need all the help we can get, it was too easy getting in here. Were are all the troops from the-" Right on cue, the sounds of gunfire and explosions echoed suddenly from the other room.

To be continued...

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Bane 8: Bad gets Worse

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"We can escape through the back door," I said hastily as the sounds grew. "Not without my brethren," interrupted the dark templar, taking off before I could say anything else. I watched the fleeting templar open his psionic blade and disappear around the corner, past the broken glass wall and sighed, "Let's go help him." "Yes, let us go," Bane growled, following me as I took off, scooping up the barrel of my broken guass rifle. "I wouldn'nt have guessed you would be so quick to help a protoss," I said over my shoudler as we covered the short distance down the hall. "I'm not thrilled about it, but I owe the dominion marines a little favor for that ambush." Stepping through the busted frame of the old glass wall, I checked the energy on my cloak inhibitor: 22 units of power. I would be cutting it close again. I rounded the last corner and gasped at the scene before me. The marines were flooding in, surrounding the protoss. There were originally 4 dark templar standing and fighting, but two had fallen under the extreme hail of bullets that spewed from the mob of soldiers. The two were slumped down against the wall, trying to stop the flow of blue blood from their wounds. The other two were nobly defending their fallen commrades, holding the whole squad back with whirling psionic blades. They took down marines by the pair but it wasn't fast enough. The guass rifles chattered and the templar became visible as their blue shields were pelted again and again. One templar loosed a psionic scream as its shields gave under the raining bullets. I charged into the room and Bane was on my heels, snarling in challenge to the marines.

The marines had almost won, the Protoss were finally going down but a blood curteling snarl came from behind them. They turned from the templar, a deadly mistake, and attemped to stop the beast that raged toward them. I dove before they let their rifles rip, tackling a marine to the ground as they shot Bane. The marine fell and I knocked him senseless with the barrel of my old gun, jerking the guass rifle out of his hands. The bullets only slowed Bane's momentum alittle and he hit the marines at a run. One was sent sailing into the air, falling down again on top of his friends as Bane slashed and maimed them. Peices of armor and powersuits flew like woodchips as I stood up and blasted a marine with my new weapon, gunning him until he screamed and dropped to his knees. Bane turned with a wicked swing, impaling one of the slow ones and throwing him forward again. He slid across the floor and someone tripped over the body, so I blasted the unfortunate one while he was down. Bane swung again, smashing a rifle, snapping the holders arm just above the wrist. The marine yelled and held his arm, and Bane batted him out of the way, and slashed at another one. The sizzling psionic blade of the templar never stopped as he fought the other side of the squad, always spinning and whirling in graceful attacks that slashed faces and parted the man-made armor, ripping through to the flesh inside. A little buzzer went off in my ear and my hands on the guass rifle I was aiming suddenly faded into view in my eyes. "Uh-oh!" I said and took three big steps back, diving behind one of the lab tables as the marines tried to fire at me. It was a welcome distraction to Bane and he uppercutted another marine, his synths getting stuck in his throat. Bane threw his synth to the left, taking the marine with it and he smashed him headlong into another one that had turned and fired at me. The remaining marines started stepping back, actively retreating as one of them in the rear sent a message through his head set. "The subject has escaped!! Repeat, the subject has escaped! We are under attack by it and an unknown number of Templar warriors! Requesting immeadiate back-" He stopped short as I popped out of cover long enough to blast his face full of holes. They backpeddled firing but Bane caught up with them, impaling a straggler while the rest turned, running back out the door. The panting templar, bleeding from more than one bullet wound, shut down his psionic blade and leaned against the wall, "You..saved us...why?" It was the one that had attacked me and Bane. "Don't get used to it," Bane said quickly, shrugging off the templar's appreciation. I picked up a few guass clips from the fallen marines and, noticing Bane was almost covered in blood, I said, "You're hurt-" Bane interupted me, "Don't worry, it's not mine." His wide hydralisk grin showed alittle through the blood spattered across his face. Then, more foot steps echoed from the entrance, and I suddenly remembered, "A marine had called for backup, we gotta get out of here!" The templar nodded and ran to his brethren, "They cannot walk, they need our help!" One of them winched and managed to stand on his own, but the other two could barely speak, muchless move. The last templar picked one of his commrades up, carrying him on his shoulders, "We cannot leave them here to die, they fought bravely for Auir in countless battles-" "Don't talk," I sighed, grabbing one of the last templars wrists, "Move!" The injured one helped me drag him away from the wall and we started making our way back into the room were I found Bane, headed for the back door. Bane hadn't moved at all and I called out to him, "Common, they're coming!" It was true, I could see the shadows of bulky powersuits lumbering in through the door. "Let's go, Bane!" I yelled again as we reached the hallway. He gave me a quick look over his shoulder "Get them to safety, mortal, Its only marines-I'll hold them off." I just groaned and pulled with the templar, dragging the injured ones to safety around the corner.

Bane watched the shadows as they entered the light of the laboratory. The mob of firebats burst in and stopped abruptly, sliding to a stop at the sight of the ten foot monster growling before them. Bane noticed that something was different about these marines. They had beefed up power suits, but they lacked the boxy, pointed machines that belched lead shards and he thought, "This is going to be easy, they don't have guns!" Then he lunged for the easy kills. "Let's cook!" One of the firebats finally stammered as the hydralisk drew near. Bane wailed in pain and surprise as the marine in from off him suddenly started spewing fire, pratically sliding into the flames as he tried to stop. The firebats changed formations, surrounding him. Bane growled in rage as the flaming napalm stuck to his carapace like thick syrup, and he lunged for the neaerest firebat, trying to stop the onslaught of fiery pain. One of the firebats laughed as the creature stumbled and writhed in the fire, but yelled as it suddenly changed direction and came straight for him. Bane impaled the firebat, lifting him high off his feet and smashing him down again against the rock floor; the napalm storage tanks on his back splitting open. The hydralisk vanished in a blazing inferno as the firebat's tanks blew up on impact, spreading napalm everywhere.

A red flash strobbed on the walls and a dull explosion followed as I helped the templar drag his friend to safety. The one carrying the other on his shoulder set him down against the wall and came to help us. We pulled him up by his friend and I said "Bane needs help," The templar strained, dragging his friend into a sitting position and giving quick orders to the only concious templar left. "Let's go," he said after saying somthing I couldn't overhear to the other tempar. I turned, jogging back down the hallway with the only dark templar left fighting right behind me.

Bane roared in terrible agony as his carapace finally heated up and burst into flames beneath the firebat's attack. One was down but the remaining three closed in, concentrating their flame throwers on the monster. Bane's view was blotted out by the fiery light and he swung his synths wildly, trying to stop the torture. The flaming blades wiffed through the air, and the firebats grinned, sidestepping the blind attack easily, but one of them stumbled forward as the thin air shoved him. The firebat fumbled into the swing and Bane clothslined him onto the floor. He snarled in rage and ripped at the firebat with both synths, wildly stabbing at the thick armor. Another firebat yelled as his back was pelted with impaler rounds, and he turned and started coming for me. I laid into the trigger and the bullets rained on the firebat, shredding the armor away. The last firebat finally stopped roasting Bane and spun on his heels, trying to catch up with his commrade. The dark templar activated his psionic blade and intercepted him, swatting the firebat with it in one incredibly quick motion. So fast, the firebat didn't even know why he crumpled forward on his knees and fell to his face until it was too late. The last one got right up to me, but weaved in the hail of bullets, only managing a tiny spirt of harmless flame before falling over backwards. We ran to help the flaming hydralisk, who still blindly hacked at his enemy. The firebat rolled around in futile attemps to get away and Bane swung at just the wrong moment. His synth clipped the firebat's tank and he was engulfed in a second explosion. The ball of fire rose to the cieling and vanished in a cloud of sooty smoke, but Bane was still ablaze. He screamed in panic and still swung his synths around wildly, trying to put the fire out. "The criotanks! Hurry!" I yelled to him and he zigzagged in the general direction of it. He snarled as he ran face first into the rock wall next to it and fell over backwards, starting to crackle and pop in the flames. "Help him!!" I barked at the templar standing next to me. He ran over to the hydralisk and grunted with the effort of picking him by the shoulders and shoving him backwards against the Criotank. The dark templar winched as his plasma shields flashed, the flames wrapped around his hands and Bane growled with the impact of being smashed through the glass of the cell. The liquid inside gushed out over Bane, soaking them both with the soupy stuff inside. Bane sputtered and coughed for a second in the torrent and violently shoved the templar backwards, "I didn't need YOUR help!!" Bane snarled coldly. The templar stumbled back but managed to stay on foot, "I just owed it to you from earlier, don't get used to it," he said in a mocking tone. "I should have killed you when I had the chance!" Bane raged back. The templar crossed his arms and retaliated calmly, his slitted eyes glowing fiercly, "And I should have let you burn." Bane started growling menacingly and the templar's warp blade crackled to life from his hand, "You wanna finish this, you blood-thirsty abombmination?!" he said, louder this time. "I'LL RIP YOU APART!!" Bane roared and lunged forward. "ENOUGH!!" I yelled, stepping between them as they leapt at each other. They both stopped short on either side of me, glowering into each others' faces, even though the templar had to look up slightly at Bane's. Along with a verbal growl, Bane's voice rumbled into my mind. "Get out of the way, mortal." "Yes, step aside, Terran-" came the threat from the templar behind me, along with the crackling sound of his modified psionic blade. Bane looked up abruptly and snapped at the templar, "I still don't need your help, you Protoss piece of-" "I SAID THAT'S ENOUGH!!!" I interupted them before they could start again. "I know you Protoss and Zerg have your major differences," I said between pants, "But let's not get out of hand here. The dominion forces and the rebels will probably swarm in here by the shipload any minute now, and we have to work together!" They still growled at each other, but slowly backed away. "Now I'm covered in this crap again!" Bane complained, whipping his synths in the air angrily, flinging the liquid off. "Whats the matter? You were floating in it earlier," I laughed. Banes grin came back again and the templars eyes didnt glow as intensely. The hostile atmosphere finally broke, but we didn't get much time to enjoy it. More shouts and foot steps came from the the entrance, but a new sound accompanied it. There was a steady marching of solid clangs-the tell tale sound of a goliath war walker squad stomping in. "Time to go!" I said. The templar shut his blade down, "We'll finish this later. Bane turned with us and we started moving towards the back room again, Indeed we shall, he replied and we took off. The auto cannon bullets started bouncing off the walls around us as we got to the hallway and turned down it. I looked back for a split second, spying more goliaths than I could count flooding in the room behind us. They lumbered in, searching the laboritory and we lost sight of them as we turned the next corner and went through the shattered glass air lock yet again.

The injured templar was in the hall, doing what he could to patch up the other two. "Can they walk yet?" I asked as we got close. One of them used the wall as a prop and got to his feet, "We can't fight, but we can run." Bane stopped, guarding the hallway. His carapace was so charred it had changed color to a dark charcoal black and had so many chips blown out of it from the impalerer rounds that it made a pattern. The Templar didnt look much better, they all had dark blue stains in their Khala robes from their wounds. The incredibly durable anatomy of both the alien species never ceases to amaze me; it even makes me wonder how we Terrans ever got as far as we have here in the harsh environment of the fringe worlds.

Alright, then lets get moving. Mengsk and his body guards left through that back door, so there must be a second way out of here. The goliaths metal feet could be heard pounding up the hallway, time was running out. In three steps I was at the door and I tryed the big iron handle. No good, I should have known it wouldn't be open. Bane noticed my difficulty and was already coming to assist me in picking the lock and the crippled dark templar hauled themselves to the door behind him. Suddenly, one of them sent us all a phsycic warning as he spoted the cockpit of a goliath appear at the edge of the hallway, "Take cover!" Then they flooded in on us. Bane impaled the door, struggling only alittle, mangling the thick steel hatch off its hinges as the goliaths poured in with auto cannons blazing. I dove to the right, behind the criotank's steel base, and the dark templar pulled their brethren back to the left. Bane growled as the goliaths pelted the only visible target. He gave his synths a jerk, and his left one tore free of the door, but the other was caught in the iron latch. I leaned out of hiding long enough to bother one of the goliaths with my puny guass rifle. It riddled holes in the tough armor, but it wasn't even enough to slow them down. Their pivoting cockpits turned and I ducked back behind the metal base as the goliaths' high caliber rounds swept across the room and erroded what was left of the criotank. Bane heaved his right synth one last time, spliting the hinges and taking the door with it. The goliaths heard the crash of the hatch coming off the rock wall and swivelled around again, their automatic chainguns rumbling back across the room. Bane shook his synth hastily, trying in vain to free it from the thick door, and the bullets began to pelt his carapace. He growled, hefting the steel door stuck on his right synth as a shield against the stream of shells. The powerful rounds sparked and flashed off of the metal surface. Bane held the door upright against the barrage, motioning to the templar with the other synth. They got the idea. All you could see of the injured templar slipping by Bane into the doorway was flashes of blue plasma shields as they caught stray bullets from the goliaths. But that same one stopped again, behind Bane and his shield, and activated his warp blade. It crackled to life, and the templar nodded to the noble hydralisk. Bane's grin showed through the charred carapace, and they dove into battle.

Bane snarled, surging against the bullets with all his strength. The goliath pilots fired so many shots that the showwering sparks from the door lit the room in brilliant flashes that matched the flares of the auto cannon barrels themselves. Bane lunged when he got near, smashing one of the mechanical war walkers with his momentum. The machine split in half from the impact, and Bane came over the top of the crumpled goliath, hurling his right synth into another armored enemy at his flank. The dark templar dove from the left of the hydralisk, sinking his warp blade into one of the clumsy terran machines. The bullets rained on Bane again, but in close quarters, its just as hard to shoot the enemy as trying not to shoot your own allys. Bullets sprayed in all directions as the goliath operators panicked. Bane smashed his free synth through the windshield of another cockpit, and the pilot's scream cracked the air. The templar turned with his psionic blade whirling as it flashed through a goliath effortlessly, apparently with no recoil from the impact. The blade passed smoothly though the machine's riveted armor and hydraulic fluid fountained out. It sparked on the torn electronics, bursting into flames and the blue blades spun again burning through the reinforced steel of another goliath's legs. The machines toppled over and with a final angry snarl, Bane swung his right synth back to the left, smashing the door against the frame of another nearby goliath. His blade broke free and he happily swung again with his other synth, aiming low and knocking the machine off it's clumsy metal feet by chopping one of its legs. The goliath toppled over, it's legs buckling beneath the impact of the attack and the shining blade of the dark templar flashed again and again, parting the man made armors easily. They were causing such distress in the ranks of the golaiths that I had chances to lean out of cover and spray a few shots into the mob of enemies before they turned on me again. This would distract them and the hydralisk and the templar would rip into them with new waves of enthusiasm. Every time I leaned out, fewer and fewer goliaths were left standing against the rouge hydralisk and his invisible ally. Just when it started to look like we may win, a high pitched chime split the air, giving away the enemies sensor sweep. The rotating torso's of the 5 remaining goliaths shifted abruptly to the left, taking aim at the protoss that was suddenly visible amoungst them. The chain guns blared and the dark templar's shields flashed for a brief moment, absorbing the insane hail of bullets for a few seconds before going out. Bane turned around as he saw the flashes from the corners of his eyes and spotted the templar stumbling backwards from multiple rounds. With a single bound of his augument, Bane was between the templar and the goliaths again, taking the punishment of their shots with his armored carapace. The templar's body was a mass of blood-stained robes as he fell, hitting the rock floor with a dull thud. Bane growled in rage beneath the attacks and charged against the stream of bullets, diving into the nearest machine with both synths ready. Bane hit the goliath at a dead run, almost, and pieces of the cockpit flew in all directions. His momentum carried him and the goliath into the one behind it and them into the one behind that, so Bane ended up tackling three goliaths to the floor, roaring and ripping with his synths as they fell. The two remaining gloiaths could only stand back and fire helplessly into the twisted ball of beast and machine. Bane's synths could be seen rising and falling, and rising again in a flurry of stabbing attacks. The stack of machinery suddenly burst into flames from a ruptured fuel line and the two bystanding goliaths took a step back from the fireball that erupted from the massacre. Bane leapt free of the flames, impaling the nearest goliath with both synths. Despite being shorter than the machines, Bane lifted the his torn enemy off its feet, snarling through the glass window of the cockpit at the pilot. The only goliath left standing, on its own feet anyway, tryed vainly to help his friend by blasting the terrible monster with its auto cannons one last time. Bane flinched and growled from the bullets as they bounced off his carapace, and he heaved the lifeless machine to the side. I could hear the pilot croak into his headset as he turned and ran, retreating from a hail of needle spines spraying from the one enemy that had taken down his whole squad single handedly, "To hell with the army!! I'm outta here! That college money ain't worth this!" Bane closed his sore chest cavity slowly as the cowardly goliath trudged back down the hall and around the corner again. I stood up, running over to him quickly. I slowed down as I got close and the seriousness of his wounds could be seen. He was bleeding from everywhere, particularly from were one of the auto cannon bullets punched through. Blood ran down his augument to the floor in streams and it dripped from his drooping synths like a leaky faucet. He still had a rasping growl in his throat that he couldn't stop; the adrenaline-rage from attacking still had him. It even ran out from the corners of his mouth, seeping out between the jagged teeth. "Holy shit! Will you be okay until we can find a medic?" I asked worridly. "It's not me you should be worried about, check on him." Bane said, pointing to the Dark Templar sprawled across the floor behind him. I ran up to him, knealing down so I could inspect more closely. He had several entry wounds to the chest, and I didn't dare turn him over to look at his back to see if the bullets had come through the other side, I already knew it was too gruesome to see without becoming sick to your stomach. "This is fatal," I said in a sad tone, looking up at Bane. He stood over us, staring down at his red blood mixing with the blue puddle that spread from the templar. "What can we do?" I asked outloud, begining to panic. "What can we-" "Go.." came the psionic message, interupting my rambling. I looked down and the templar's eyes were open again, they glowed faintly with each word, "They are coming, they come to stop you..." now the words seemed to strangle themselves forth, barely distinguishable over the snapping and popping of my own thoughts, and the light in his eyes faded with each syllable, "I know now..the creature is not our enemy, my brethren were wrong..it is fortunate that you stopped us," "What are you trying to say?" I asked hastily so he could speak again. "..Your emperor..the evil ruler...he will try to control an evil even greater than himself..." "Common!" I yelled, "Spill the beans before you croak!" The light faded from the wide orbs of his eyes, growing weaker every second, "..It will destroy us all-you can still stop it...you must.." The templar raised one hand, his three fingers opening and closing in a fist involuntarily, "...you...must..." then the tiny flicker of life blinked out, and the hand dropped abruptly. I sighed, reaching up and closing the Templar's eyes with two fingers, "I hate it when that happens." Bane watched the templar die without blinking, "He was a noble warrior, he didn't deserve to die like this, in this place." I stood up, slinging the guass rifle over my shoulder, shaking my head as I looked down at the body of the slain protoss, "You wanted to rip him into pieces earlier. Why the sudden change of heart?" I stepped past the templar into the doorway and Bane followed me, "Fighting along side your enemy, one learns to become allies."

"We can't attack the protoss! That wasn't part of the deal!" Mandelle exploded as he followed Mengsk into his office. The two marines at the door stepped hastily out of the way as Mengsk shoved his way through the double doors with the rebel commander at his heals. Mengsk didn't say anything until he dropped casually into his chair and pulled a fat cigar out of his desk, lighting it with a wooden match from the same drawer. He puffed on the stogey and regarded the red-faced general with his crooked politician smile, "Mandelle," Mensgk finally sighed with a false tone of surprise, "what's the matter, my friend?" The rebel commander slammed his fist on Mengsk's desk, "I didn't authorize the attack on the protoss forces!! I may be answering to you, but I retain the command of my own army-you gave them an order without consulting me first!" The emperor looked shocked, "Robert, I have no idea what you're talking-" "LIES!!" interrupted Mandelle. Suddenly, the speaker box on Mengsk's desk crackled to life, "Sir, subjects in prefect criostasis. Awaiting your orders to merge them," Mengsk reached forward, calmly pressing a button on the speaker, "Thank you, Philis, tell them to merge the cerebrates." The rebel commander's eyes grew wide as he overheard the message and he stammered, "And you're cloning cerebrates under my nose too?! I want the truth!!" Mengsk sighed again, leaning back in his chair, "You see Mandelle, the truth is that I used you to bring the rebel uprising to a hault. I used you to capture the cerebrate long enough to get a copy of his genetic coding, and I will now use your troops to hold off the protoss fleets long enough for my army to be built. I used you just like I used that kid and his pet zerg." Mengsk leaned forward again, taking something boxy and metalic from his desk drawer and leaning back again, "This is all too convienient for me! I get three things for the price of one: I have a new army, the rebels will be stopped-perminantly with the help of the protoss fleets, and then I will crush whatever's left with both the terran and zerg armies at my command." Mandelle only managed three steps to the door before several blasts of Mengsk's sidearm cracked the still silence of the office. The two marine gaurds rushed in, "Everything okay in here sir?" One of them asked. "No," Mengsk barked, pointing to the body of the rebel commander laying in front of his desk. "Get thas scum out of here and send somebody to clean the stain up immeadiatly-This rug is very expensive."

We couldn't find the other dark templar anywhere in the dark cooridoor. The back door led to nothing more than a crude tunnel through the rock wall. There were no lights, so once we got past the first corner, I had to let Bane lead because I didn't bring the expensive goggles from Mengsk's arsenal with me this time. We twisted down a narrow tunnel and I didn't see Bane come to a sudden stop front of me. I ran into his back and stepped on his tail. "Watch it!" he said in front of me. "It's not my fault you stopped." I said defensively. "And it's not my fault terrans can't see in the dark," he retaliated. I laughed and tried to remember to never argue with a hydralisk. "Why did you stop, anyway?" I asked. "The tunnel ends and theres a door here," Bane said simply. "Then do your stuff." I replied. The light blinded my eyes as Bane snarled, smashing the door off the hinges. Bane stepped out and I followed him into afternoon sun. I heard gravel crunching beneath my booted feet and my eyes adjusted to the bright light of mid day. "Watch your step," Bane warned and I looked down, gasping at the 200 foot drop only a yard in front of me. The tunnel came out at the other side of the compound, leading to a trail that had been carved into the stone wall ages ago. It was a narrow path winding down the platue at the edge of the canyon into the dessert below. The view was incredible, but the terrible scene that covered it wasn't. From our high point of view, we could see two armies set on the verge of battle. On the left side was a Terran armada. Bunkers mixed in with missile turrets were lined up in rows as far as we could see. Siege tanks were behind the bunkers, aiming out to the south east were an entire protoss fleet had errected a front line to match the Terrans'. Fields of Photon cannons were lined up just outside the siege tanks range, with reavers and high templar holding positions, backing the cannon defenses. Both sides had arsenels of ground units and air units ready for the fight. Firebats, goliaths and medics were in tight formations behind the bunkers, with squads of wraiths and valkalries hovering overhead. On the other side, stalwart mobs of zealots stood with their psionic blades ready behind the photon cannons. Dragoons bobbed up and down behind them on their mechanical legs. A single ship coasted in over the army, and the zealots and dragoons vanished. A single glare of light came from the ship and blue warp fields suddenly materialized over the protoss side. Eight mighty carriers and another arbiter flashed into existance over the army and took on color and detail as the warp fields faded. We could only get a glimpse of the majestic carriers as they were enveloped in the arbiters' cloak. More warp fields crackled to life as legions of scouts and corsairs emerged with shuttles of reinforcements in tow. The protoss weren't the only ones recieving extra help. Dropships began gleaming on the horizon by the flock, hailing in countless marines and vultures. Science vessels scooted over the crowd of infantry leading a fleet of the awesome battle cruisers to the front lines. The mighty Yamato cannon mounted on the front of each one made the siege tanks' barrels look like twigs. I closed my mouth, I hadn't realized it was hanging open, and Bane spoke up in a tone of awe, "I hate machines."

To be Continued...

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Bane 9: Calm Before The Storm

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A fleet of twelve wraiths flew in formation, low over the city. Their engines screamed through the sky as they closed ranks for the transfer, gliding to a smooth, hovering stop, lined up on either side of a wide steel door on the side of the Capitol Building.

Inside, Mengsk Strode down the hallway behind a flock of scientists with an equal sized mob of marines following him. They came to a last door in the hallway and the pair of MP's gaurding the entrance used their access cards to unlock the main shiping bay for the personel. The herd of white lab coats flowed under the wide door when it came up with a whirring of electric motors. The bay was a long room with a huge steel door in the middle. Two dropships hovered inches off the floor as a huge crew hastily prepared the ships. The wraith engines could be heard through the cement walls as SCV's constructed a cage for the fledgling overmind. It was stable enough to be taken out of the criotank, and was holding up well behind the thick steel bars. It was like a giant, sticky cacoon-nearly big enough to fill a small swimming pool. About two hours ago, it began growing and evolving into its mature form at a geometric rate and this was something Mengsk hadn't counted on. The Overmind, once fully developed, would be far to large for any room in the city, muchless the capitol building. So, before it was too big to transport, he decided to have it moved to a secure location outside the city. The hydralic motors of 8 space construction vehicles whined as they hefted the cage, and the overmind, into the back of the modified dropship-the rear cargo hatch had to be enlarged by six feet on the sides and three feet on top. Mengsk studied the scv's hard at work and turned to one of the jabbering scientists, "I want full control of it, some of you egg heads go with them just in case you need to tweak something." The emperor studied the pulsing blob inside the cage as the SCV's backed away and the door on the dropship slowly slid shut. "What if it grows during flight?" Mengsk asked. The same scientist he had talked to earlier spoke up, "That's what the cage is for, It should keep it down to size until they reach the drop zone." Mengsk nodded, "I want the escort on full alert, I don't want another ship in the air within a hundred miles." Another scv entered the docking bay from the main door, carrying a smaller cage, with a flat, crab-like thing inside. It was motionless on the bottom of the cage, still unconcious from the powerful nerostim drugs. Not much bigger than a lawn mower, the drone fit inside the second dropship with ease. The SCV backed out and three scientists with four medic assistants gingerly walked up the rough metal ramp. Marines came from the sides, hauling in bags of equipment and dumping them at the feet of the scientists sitting inside the ship. One of them hit a switch and the ramp swung shut. Both ships' engines whined up to speed and the huge door clicked up inch by inch. Sunlight streamed in under the door as Mengsk turned to leave, the remaining scientists following at his heels, "Are the cerebrates stable?" he asked without breaking his stride. One of the gangly little scientists jogged to catch up, waving a fat wad of papers and notes. "Yessir!" he croaked beneath a pair of thick glasses, "The two that weren't used for the merge are in captivity. Psionic eminations are at an all-time high and they should be capable of producing broods in no more than an hour."

"Something doesn't seem right," Bane said, staring at the impeeding battle field. "Of course it isn't right, war never is." I replied. "I know," he stated calmly, "but you Terrans have always seemed to have had a sort of truce with the Protoss. Why would this happen?" "I don't know, maybe it has something to do with Mengsk and the zerg," I rambled. "And where did those other Dark Templar go?" Bane offered another question. I let my guass rifle hang by my side with one hand and I rubbed my weary face with the other, "I have no idea, they vanished like a fart in the wind." Bane only gave me a confused look, although he winched alittle with the effort. "Nevermind," I sighed. Then I remembered what the templar had said and everything suddenly starting fitting together, "Wait!" I snapped, "Before we found you in the rebel complex, the four templar rescued me from Mengsk's soldiers. They explained alot to me; you're a cerebrate." The ragged hydralisk could only frown and shrug, staring down over the rocky ledge to the armys below. I continued, "The UED controled the overmind and its cerebrates once, and that's why the rebels and Mengsk are after you." Bane looked up, "We know that already." I nodded, "Yeah, but the Protoss said that they are after you, too." Bane's eyes closed to slits, "Why?" was all he said. "From their hints," I stated, recalling the crackling sound of four warp blades, "They know what Mengsk has planned and are here to stop it, even if it means killing you to prevent the swarms from being reborn again." Bane's huge frame heaved with a deep sigh, "I'm not sure which one is worse." "And now a war between the Protoss and the Rebels, only a few miles outside of the capitol too-this just keeps getting better, doesn't it?" I added. The hydralisk only stared blankly over my head, toward the city. "I'm running short on ideas here, do you have any suggestions?" I asked. My battle-torn friend stood perfectly still and silent, gazing off into space. "Bane?" I asked wearily. His eyes began to glaze over and I reached up, waving my hand back and forth in front of his face. "Bane?! Snap out of it!" I barked. He jumped, almost like he didn't know I was there, "It lives," the hydralisk finally stammered after shaking his head. "What?" I asked. Bane shook his head again and his eyes cleared, "The overmind, its alive-here, on Khorhal!" I did a perfect double take, "Your kidding! There's no way-" "It's true," Bane interrupted, "The overmind has been reborn, I can already sense it's will begining to radiate across the planet." I gripped the handle of my guass rifle like a security blinket, "Can you tell what its saying yet?" "Wait a minute," he said, "Didn't you ask me to remind you never to ask the overmind's will again?" "Just give it a shot, I'll take my chances," I shrugged. The hydralisk didn't make a sound as he concentrated. Then Bane came out of his trance suddenly, "Their numbers are growing," he said, "I don't think the swarms are large enough for an attack yet, but they're building fast." "Is Mengsk in control of them?" I blurted. After another few seconds of silence, Bane answered that question as well, "Yes, he seems to be maintaining a fragile control over the broods for now, but the overmind will outgrow its restraints and attack in a matter of hours." "Then they'll just be the same old zerg again, search and slaughter." I finished for him. Bane nodded, "The way Mengsk is carelessly leading them, they won't have to search long." I groaned and rubbed my face, "What can we do?" I asked hopelessly. The question echoed down the canyon, resounding off the rock wall, mocking me with my own helplessness. Finally, even the echo faded away and the only sound was from the whistle of the updraft rising up the cliff face and the rumble of the armies far below. My friend finally broke the silence again, "What about the machines?" he asked irritably. My face lit up, "Could these armies be enough to stop the-" but as usual, some giant explosion drowned my voice out in mid sentence. "Not if they kill each other first!" Bane said quickly. We took off down the stone path, and the platoon of siege tanks guarding the eastern flank of bunkers bellowed again with their Arcilite Shock cannons, pounding a squad of zealots aggressively charging the front lines of the terran fleet. The unbelievable warriors took the explosions head on as 12 sleek Protoss Scouts soared over them, sweeping in and pelting the armored tanks withs charged photon blasters. The bunkers flared to life beside the tanks with chatterring gauss rifles and the missile turrets halted their endless spinning to spew rockets at the air targets. "How do you stop a war?" Bane asked over his shoulder as he slithered down the trail in front of me. "I have no clue," I managed to say while running, "But we have to do something or there will be nothing left to fight the zerg with and then we'll REALLY be up the creek." The ships flared with their blue plasma shields repeatedly as they took damage and the zealots reached the bunkers and tanks, shredding them in a blind fury with their powerful psionic blades. The buildings began falling apart and catching fire, and the tanks started smoking as the Scouts tore the armored plating away with their air to surface blasters. Two zealots toppled a missile turret, but the Terrans sent reinforcements; eight valkalries rocketed over the barracks and factories from deep in the base and approached the front line, spewing halo missiles. The seige tanks pulled a desprate move to rid themselves of the zealot threat and their barrels swiveled around and fired. The front line exploded as the tanks fired at any zealot outside of their minimal range, despite the fact that those targets were right next to their own allies manning bunkers and other siege tanks. I could hear the psionic screams of the zealots as their blue embers mixed with the red explosions of the bunkers and heavy machinery beside the cliff. A half a dozen tanks and buildings were reduced to no more than piles of smoldering rubble and flaming wreckage as smoke billowed up the cliff by us, leaving a small hole in the terran lines below. Only four marines had climbed out of the collapsed structures and a siege tank by the bottom of the cliff was on its last legs. Suddenly, its smoking barrel swiveled around, aiming up the cliff face towards us. "Bane, Stop!" I yelled ahead. We were nearly at the bottom of the trail, only about forty feet up, when the rock suddenly errupted into a fireball in front of the hydralisk as he came to a hault. The deafening explosion rocked my ears and quaked the ground under my feet as the blast blew Bane against the rocky path. He got up snarling, and limped back up were I was, out of range of the siege tank. "I hate machines!" he growled. "I don't think the Rebels are going to listen to any explainations you have to offer; the Protoss are the only ones who might not try to kill you right away." I said, squinting in the dust that rained down from the arcilite blast. Bane snarled, "The Protoss?!" "Yeah," I coughed, "I might be able to do something about the Terrans-at least they're my species." "Good point," he shrugged. "But we have to get by that tank," I said, "And before they send reinforcements and block us in up here." A draft of air blew by as Bane studied the crippled machine keeping our path in his sights and said, "I can take care of the tank." "How?" I asked. Bane glanced at the four surviving marines a short distance from the tank and the rest of the terran army still mustering for an attack. "This is is probably going to hurt," my friend spoke up, "So can you take care of yourself," Bane pointed toward the guass rifle I held in my hands. "I don't have much of a choice," I laughed. "We don't have much time-Just be ready to run when I jump," Bane explained as he backed against the rock wall behind us. "Jump?!" I barked. Without another word, Bane farely exploded off the wall, getting a running start. I winched as he reached the edge and pushed off with a growl of effort, leaping out into the open air. Dropping to my knees at the edge of the cliff, I watched him plummet down the rock face. Time seemed to stand still as he fell; I counted off nearly seven seconds before he hit the center of the seige tank. It sounded like a car wreck; sending up a plume of red dust and turning peices of the tracks and plates of armor into flying shrapnel. Not believing what I just let my friend do, I took off at a sprint, heading down the last stretch of rock path to the battlefield below. Quick looks over my shoulder as I ran told me that I had nothing to fear from the siege tank; it was crumpled like an achordian and had already begun smoking, starting to catch fire.

As I approached the bottom of the cliff trail, I could see the crushed siege tank smoking away with the marines closing in to investigate. Before I reached the foot of the trail, one of the marines yelled to his commrades, "It's him!" I heard the lead soldier bark. One marine began jabbering into his headset, calling for backup as the other three turned with their guass rifles. I dove the last four feet of the trail down to the sand as the bullets wizzed by me, pelting the rocky path I was just on. I flipped on my cloak inhibitor without bothering to look at the power meter as I hit the ground and the marines stopped firing as their target disolved into thin air, last seen jerking the bolt back on a guass rifle and getting to his feet before vanishing. I threw the rifle up to my shoulder and let the lead marine have a full helping of impaler rounds. He fired a couple stray shots before stumbling backwards and the remaining marines sprayed the rocky sand with their guns. I took off to the left and bullets made a wake in the sand behind me as I circled around the confused marines, reaching the smoldering piles of cement that used to be a row of bunkers. One of the marines croaked into his headset, requesting a sensor sweep as I took aim with the guass rifle again, sending him to the dirt with a hail of rounds from my gun. I heard the chime sound of the enemy scanners and I was visible once again. The two remaining marines opened up in my direction and I dropped to the sand behind a cracked slab of cement that used to serve as a bunker wall. I winched as the guns chattered and bullets chipped off the wreckage behind me. I heard hydralic engines and the shouts of soldiers and I glanced to my left in time to see the reinforcements arriving in the form of two dozen marines and a squad of goliaths thrown in for good measure. I leaned out to see if I could make a run for it but jerked right back behind cover as the two marines kept me tied up with their guass rifles. I was trapped.

I heard a great snarl and a wrenching of metal, followed by a few desprate gun shots and knew my friend was back in action. Peeking over the slab, I saw Bane's synths protrude out of the great gash were he fell through the siege tank and he pulled himself free, peeling the metal out of his way. The marines forgot all about their ghost problem and peppered Bane with impaler rounds as he heaved himself free of the shredded machine and charged in, breaking a marine's neck with one staggering swing. His head twisted around the wrong way with the impact and he spun on one heel, falling to the sand as I jumped up, pelting the other marine in the back with everything I had left in my guass rifle clip. He stopped firing and stumbled forward onto the points of Bane's waiting synths. The hydralisk finished him off and dumped the tattered marine aside, noticing the army closing in over my shoulder, "Time to go!" he said as the bullets began to pelt the ground around us. I reached down to grab a guass rifle out of the sand from a fallen marine and my noticed cloak had begun working again as the sensor sweep's affect wore off. I called out to Bane as he turned to leave for the Protoss side, "Good luck." My friend looked back for just a second before taking off, "Be carefull." I was about to say something else, but 5 vultures shot by me so close that I could smell the rank drivers as he they nearly ran me over. I stumbled in the wake of air and watched the army flow around me; they had already come to seal the hole in their front lines. Marines ran by me, marching double-time in formation. Goliaths trudged up and took positions behind siege tanks whom went into siege mode upon reaching the old bunker sites. SCV's scooted in hastily and began setting foundations for new bunkers. The vultures kept going, out into the battle field in pursuit of Bane. I grimaced involuntarily; Vultures pack grenade launchers and they were much too fast for a hydralisk's synths. Suddenly, a lispy voice broke my thought pattern as an SCV swore next to me, "Damnit! This doesn't make sense!" I turned around and the boxy space construction vehicle stood at idle and a marine stepped out of the dozens standing around us, waiting to fill the bunkers. "What's the problem, man?" the marine barked at the worker. "Command says to set a turret here but sensors keep telling me that I can't," came the muffled voice from inside the machine. They were already getting detection established; I looked around and other SCV's were replacing the fallen turrets. I took one last look at the plume of dust the vultures had left and started jogging past the marines. Picking up speed as my path cleared, I was careful not to hit the golaiths that stood guarding the rumbling siege tanks. I skid to a stop as a squad of firebats marched right out in front of me, blocking my path. "Jobs finished!" came the faint messages from all over the front lines behind me as the workers finished thier assigned buidlings. I eased around the firebats and finally reached a row of supply depos. A bleeping little alarm started going off on my cloak inhibitor and I looked up. A science vessel was approaching from the southern lines, sweeping over the bunkers and tanks behind me. I slipped between the depos as my cloak started to disipate from the interferring signals of the detector. As I moved deeper into the base to get away from the science vessel, more buidlings came into sight. I smiled as I reached the end of the row of supply depos and found myself staring at the covert ops stations of the Terran militia. It was tucked away behind the supply depos with various other technichal facilitys. I took one last look around the corners of the supply depos; the coast was clear. Taking off at a sprint for the covert ops, I made sure I had a fresh clip in my guass rifle before reaching the thick steel door. I tried the access pad next to the it, but it required a code. I laughed in spite of myself; usually a locked door isn't a problem but Bane wasn't around to open it this time. All I had with me was my guass rifle so I just shrugged tried the only code I knew on the control panel. The impaler rounds blasted the panel and screen into pieces and sparks flew from a couple shorted wires. I jabbed the barrel if the guass rifle into the edge of the door and pried it open. The tip of the barrel bent over, rendering the gun unfireable, but it had forces the door open nearly an inch. I threw the gun to the dirt and just managed to get a finger hold on the edge of the door and I pulled back on it with everything I had. It barely moved, the dead electic motors of the door whining dully as it slide back another few inches. I jumped to the other side of the door jam and could get my hands behind it. I put my back to the wall and pushed. The door slid back another 5 five inches-It was just barely enough for me to squeeze through. Once inside, I immeadiately noticed a red alarm rotating on the cieling announcing that the place had been broken into. I didn't have much time before a truckload of marines showed up so I sprinted through the familiar halls of a standard covert operations facility with a broken guass rifle and 13 points of energy left on my cloak. Plenty of time.

It only took three guesses to find the supply room, but my cloak flickered off as I rounded the last corner. I caught a glimpse of a single marine at his post, guarding the stockade room before I lunged back behind the corner. The marine did a double take and snapped at me, "Hey, you! Stop!!" he yelled and took off down the hall. He reached the corner, rifle held at the ready and I smashed his face with the stock of my gun. He stumbled back against the wall and I kicked him to the floor, picking up his guass rifle and putting the barrel to his forehead, "Get up! Open the supply room!!" I barked. I didn't want to pry open another door. The marine walked slowly over to the hatch and hit a few buttons on the key pad and the door slid open with a hiss. There was another door opposite of the supply room and I commanded him to open it as well. The marine reluctantly did what he was told and I shoved him into the empty briefing room, "Try to keep it down in here," I laughed at him before blowing the panel off of the wall on the inside of the doorway. The marine with a bloody face gave me menacing looks as I stepped into the the hall and shut the door from the outside.

The supply room had just what I needed. I found a fresh ghost suit with the militia insignia's on it, along with a fully charged cloak and a new canister rifle. Once I found the helmets and ghost masks, I looked just like any other ghost in the base as I strode out of the supply room and closed the door behind me. I got alittle worried when I reached the entrance and saw four marines marching in. An SCV had come and cut the door off and they were investigating the distress alarm. I cleared my throat as they noticed me approaching, "What's going on here?!" I boomed. The lead marine gave me a confused look and I bellowed again, "Did I stutter, Boy?! What happened here?" He shook his head and stood up straight, "I-I apologize, Sir, I-" "What it looks like to me, Private, is that you're not doing your job around here!" I interupted him, trying to sound like I knew what I was doing, "You are payed to keep this facility safe from intruders, and now this! Who's your commanding officer?!" The marines stood at attention while I barked at them and the lead one snapped out an answer, "Sir, all orders come straight from the G-General, Sir!" "Is he still in the war room?! I'd like to tell him about the fine job his marines are doing, letting someone deface military property." "Y-Yes Sir, the General is still giving briefs for the next attack, Sir!" "Alright, then." I smiled, and started walking to the door. The marines jumped aside to let me through, "Clean up your act around here!" I yelled over my shoulder as I strode away towards the command center. I took off at a sprint, not believing what I just did and a row of barracks came into view. 8 buildlings were lined up in a row with marines marching out into formation. I slowed down and did my best to stroll through like I didn't have a care in the world. It seemed to work, the marines acted like I didn't exist. The command center rose up before me, sitting amoungst four missile turrets and I jogged up to the door. No one was standing outside so I tryed the thick steel handle. For once the door wasnt locked. I sighed and stepped inside as the door slid open. My eyes adjusted to the dimmer light as the door slammed shut behind me and two marines came into focus. "What's your business here, phsycic freak?" One of them said. "Im here to speak to the General," I replied simply. "We didn't hear about it." the other one gruffed back. I hit the button on my cloak inhibitor, "Then you won't see it either," I said as I disappeared, shoving a one of them out of my way. He hit the floor hard and I took off, hoping I would find the right room first this time. I heard the shouts and the footsteps of the marines always just around the corner as I came to the back door of the briefing room and burst in, turning my cloak back off again at the same time. It was a small room with a table and a hologram in the center. Someone important looking was in front of me and seven other officers sat around the table facing him. There were marines posted at all corners of the room and they quickly trained thier guass rifles on me as soon as I flipped the barrel of my canister rifle to the General's back. "I'm sorry for the intrusion, and the gun-to-the-back thing, General, but I have some important matters to discuss with you," I said through the muffling ghost mask.

The rocky ground flashed by below Bane as he slithered toward the shining pylons and photon cannons in distance. He changed directions, angling off to the left as an explosion rocked the ground in the path he was just taking a moment before. The vultures had caught up with him and were in closing in fast, gliding only a foot off the ground and gaining at incredible speeds. Bane growled as something small and solid hit him in the back and exploded, sending him reeling into the dirt. He got up snarling, holding his synths ready as the vultures circled him. The five engines rumbled around him. The riders wooped and laughed histerically as the hydralisk lunged at one of them. They simply moved with him and Bane never got any closer to the quick enemies. One of the riders broke from the circle and flew threw the middle surprizing Bane with a grenade to the face. It exploded, smashing Bane to the dirt again. He roared in rage and got back up, waiting for them to try the trick again. This time, two of them swerved out of the dusty circle for a run at the hydralisk and Bane threw his synths out at the last minute. The vultures ran across the outstretched blades and sparks flew as the bone synths ripped through the steel. A rider fell off of his bike screaming, holding a bloody stub that used to be his left leg and the other vulture burst into flames and exploded a few yards away after getting its fuel lines cut by the hunter-killer's counter attack. The remaining vultures roared as they changed formations, coming straight at their target and Bane took off again in the only direction he could.

The photon cannons jutted up out of the ground one by one as Bane drew near them with the vultures hot on his heels and the particle acclerators crackled as they charged the phase disruptor shots. Bane saw the powerfull ball of energy leap from the cannon and he closed his eyes as he ran, hoping his desprate plan would work. The hydralisk dove to the sand, and the ball flashed right over his head and crashed into a pursuing vulture, making the vehicle swerve with the impact as pieces of armor plating flew from the explosion. Bane jumped back up and sidled past the pivoting photon cannons as they fought off the vultures. One of them exploded and the remaining 2 turned back, retreating from the simple, yet stalwart, defenses of the protoss lines. Bane practically laughed as he put distance between himself and the cannons thanks to his stubborn stalkers, but slid to a stop in front of a squad of zealots and dragoons. The zealots turned towards him and squealed, noticing him for the first time. "Shit..." Bane groaned to himself and turned around again, running parrallel to the photon cannons, away from the hostile protoss warriors that had suddenly decided to join in where the vultures left off. Bane managed to keep ahead of the 12 clumsy dragoons, but the 16 zealots were much faster. He looked back only to see the protoss catching up, and turned back around again to find that he had come to a dead end. Rows upon rows of tightly packed gateways and pylons loomed up from the ground, blocking the hydralisk's path as the wave of protoss warriors trailing him closed off the only exits. "Wait!!" Bane panted, "I didn't come to fight! I need your help!" he sent to them, but the zealots ignored him and charged in from all directions. The first one to reach Bane ran in with psionic blades in a flurry, but was batted away again with the blunt edge of one synth, "I won't fight you!" Bane growled. The zealot stumbled backwards with a crackling plasma shield as his brethren charged past him. "Don't make me do this!" Bane yelled at them as the mob of troops closed in. Bane ducked as a zealot ran up and swung high with one blade and threw himself off balance. Bane shot up and swatted him away as well, but two more zealots were there as soon as Bane could get rid of the second one and the shier numbers of protoss warriors poured against the single hydralisk fighting amoungst a sea of blue. They were all around him, slashing and stabing with the ripping blades of light. For every one Bane knocked away, three more took the advantage and tore into their enemy. Another zealot rushed into the crowd, trying to tackle the hydralisk to the ground and Bane slung him off with a deep snarl of fury, "ENOUGH!!" he roared as he flung his synths out at the entire of mob that zealots that had rushed in to attack again. He kept swinging, left and right, constantly hacking at the zealots that were trying to do the same thing to him with wild slashes of their psionic blades. The warriors that could get close enough with their short weapons could only do minimal damage before being knocked away again with a the crackle of a dieing plasma shield. Bane growled furiously, impaling a zealot infront of him, depsite the other two who lunged, stabbing the hydralisk's sides open mercilessly. Bane dumped his enemy to the ground and slung his synths to the left, but the offending zealot leapt backwards out of the way and the ones behind him tore at the thick carapace of this spined back. The stomping dragoons could be heard over the roar of the infuriated zealots as they outnumbered Bane. After their brethren started taking casualties, the entire group rushed the hydralisk at once. All he could to defend himself, as 6 zealots tackled him to the ground and the remaining 9 dogpiled on top, was to hold his synths out in hopes that a few of the bastards would get gored by them in the fall. Bane hit the sand hard and the attacks rained on him. Snarling in terrible pain, he thrashed his synths wildly against the warriors that held him down and did thier best to tear him to pieces. Just when Bane could feel the strength draining from his arms and smell his own flesh burning more with each hack of the dozens of painfull blades, a booming psionic voice broke through the unfair fight, "IF that hydralisk is killed you will ALL answer to ME!!" The zealots that weren't injured immeadiately leapt away from their enemy, shutting down their psionic blades at once and bowing down on one knee to a single dragoon that clambered forward from the squad that had finally caught up with the chase. The hydralisk was sprawled across the sand, bleeding severely from uncountable slashes across its scuffed carapace and panting heavily next to four maimed zealots, barely able to keep his eyes focused on the boxy machine that had come to stand over him. Bane snarled in agony and the familiar voice broke through the waves of pain, "Adun, help us! They nearly killed you," Bane squinted through the translucent blue glass of the dragoon at the mutilated dark templar inside, "Is that you? But...you're-" "Dead?" the dark templar answered for him from inside the cold shell. "Almost," he continued, "My brethren remained in the Terran facility long enough to retrieve my body so I could further serve Auir." Bane sat up slowly, but growled in pain from the movement, "You Protoss are really commited to your jobs, aren't you?" He half-laughed. "All for Auir, my friend." the dragoon answered heartily, "But I have to ask you: what bring's you here? You knew it would be dangerous." Bane stumbled, trying to get up, and a couple zealots that would have killed him a minute earlier came to help him. Bane snapped at them with a deep, threating growl and they backed away again, letting the Hydralisk stand on its own. "Mengsk will lose control of the zerg," Bane panted, "And they will destroy us all." The dragoon bounced on its gangly metal legs, "I know that already, its why were here-to stop him before the overmind and the swarms are reborn." "You're too late!" Bane finally got his balance enough to stand up straight again, "The broods are already rampaging toward us, everyone here is doomed unless we all rally against them! Charley is spreading the word to the Terran militia as we speak. You must ally with them-it's the only chance you'll get to stop the zerg." Bane explained. One of the zealots spoke up, "How do we know that what you're saying is true?" "We'll know the truth soon enough," answered the dragoon, turning to the zealots, "Prepare a truce party to meet the Terrans."

The idling siege tanks thrummed with a monotonous buzz as the missile turrets spun on thier stands. Bunkers stood between the turrets and tanks, completing the impenetrable front line overlooking the battlefield. Two zealots approached under the setting sun, walking slowly, but steadily, toward the Terran defenders that could crush them easily. Inside the frontal siege tank, the gunman laughed as he aimed his sights at the two protoss warriors, "Is this some kind of joke?!" he chuckled, flipping on the auto targeting. A transmission crackled into the navigator's headset and he held up a hand, "Hey, hold it Larry. Were getting some new orders." "Wha?" asked the gunman, easing his finger off the trigger that released the powerfull napalm shell. The navigator argued with his headset a minute before reporting what he was told. "Command says were allying with the protoss to fight the zerg..."

"Sir, we have a situation!" squaked the speaker box on the Emperor's desk. Mengsk groaned, sitting up and flipping off an ancient record player eminating classical music. "What is it now?!" He blared at his secretary, stubbing out a half-smoked cigar, "Can't you see I'm about to celebrate a victory here?" The intercom crackled to life again, "My apologies, Sir, but I think you better look into this." "Alright," Mengsk sighed, taking a sip off of a glass of champagne, "Put it on screen." The emperor hit a button under his desk and the Holophone flashed to life, displaying time and location of the incoming transmission before the picture and sound faded in through the static, "Commander, we are under attack!!" The emperor gulped the wine down harsely and croaked, "What?! By who? The Protoss couldn't have broken through already!" Screams and gunfire started to break out with the panicking voice of the officer, "Sir! Send reinforcements, we're getting slaughtered down here!!" Ferocious snarls and hacking sounds became more coherent, followed by dieing gunfire and explosions. "The zerg, Emperor, they just...turned against us!! Please! Send help-" The voice talking screamed the words and then suddenly fell silent to the sounds of growls and faint gunfire. "Linda!" Mengsk barked into the speaker box, "Sweep the dropzone and send me the comsat photos the xenomorph operation." The terrible scenes flashes accross Mengsk's face from the light of the hologram for a few seconds before it suddenly changed. A new view was available, one more terrible than it's predicesor. It was an arial view of the militia sent to protect the scientists and enginers controling the overmind. The Hive clusters were complete; a living carpet of zerg warriors and structures covered the land and swarms of monsters blotted out the sky. The Dominion bunkers and a few stray buildings looked puny in front of the menacing brood. The swarms flowed over the restrictions set to contain them, the buildings burned and filled the blotchy sky with pillars of black smoke. The bulk of the swarms were steadily flowing north toward the city and the battle outside like an unstoppable tidal wave of carapace, teeth and claws. Flocks of scourge flew close by, blocking the view and then the pictured died altogether, leaving the office in silence. Minutes passed and the speaker box broke through again, "Sir? Are you there?" Mengsk sat, staring at the blank holoscreen and reached slowly across his desk to his intercom. The secretary croaked again, "Sir? Are you okay? Should I send someone?" The emperor finally pressed the button on the speaker, "What have I done, Linda, what have I done..."

To Be continued...

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