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