Bane moved silently over the charred ash, nothing more than an uneasy feeling to the Ragnasaur that
he stalked. The Ragnasaur hadn't spotted Bane, yet, as he eased closer and closer; hiding behind the remains of Char's scraggly
trees and stubby boulders. The Ragnasaur lowered its head again and continued lumbering alone its aimless path, satisfied
that all was well. There was a slight crunching of rocks and gravel, causing the Ragnasaur to stop again and look around with
its poor vision. Bane held perfectly still, not even breathing. Finally, the Ragnasaur started moving and that’s when
Bane lunged on his prey...
I frowned at the pile of empty crates stacked up by the photon cooker, and let my mind drift.
We still had plenty of supplies to last until someone found us, but it was in our best interest if Bane hunted for himself.
He could go through a whole crate of burger patties like it's nobodies business. Waiting for my single burger to cook, I sighed,
"This sure is boring," I said to myself, "I hope some rescue shows up soon." The disappearance of the
base and all its inhabitants remained a mystery. The lone dropship I had barely had enough fuel cells to leave the ground,
much less break orbit. It would be useless and dangerous to try and take off with it, so we had no other alternative than
to sit around and wait on some form of rescue. The smell of burnt meat brought me back from my own thoughts.
"Damn!" I swore and attempted to pry the broiled burger from the hot plate. Suddenly, I heard clips
locking and guns clicking behind me. A cold barrel pressed against my back and an unfamiliar voice said, "Don't even blink!"
I slowly lifted my hands up in surrender and shot a look at my canister rifle across the room. Too
far, there was no way to reach it and live to tell about it. The hostile voice spoke again,
"I thought we had cleaned this base out last time, but I guess we missed you."
"What have you done with everyone?" I asked over my shoulder. The assaulter jabbed my back with the
barrel of another canister rifle,
"I'll ask the questions here!" I could hear other men laughing and snickering behind me. "Where’s
your zerg buddy?" the voice demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I lied.
"I think you know more than that, my friend," he said through gritted teeth. "Seriously," I stammered,
trying to buy time,
"I haven't the slightest idea-"
"I'm only gonna ask you one more time, boy!!" he interrupted me and the barrel moved from my back to
the back of my head. "Where's the hydralisk?!" I kept still and quiet, refusing to answer his question. After a few seconds,
the assassin loosed an exasperated sigh and said, "Damnit! This punk's not talking either! Take him back to base with the
others." I heard some one walk up behind me and the barrel moved away. Then someone smashed the back of my head with the stock
of a gun and my world went black.
Two marines holstered their rifles and dragged Charley away to the waiting dropship.
The leader called to the remaining marines, getting their attention,
"Alright, we can still catch him!" he looked to his right, where a ghost stood and listened to his
orders, "Blake, you saw him leave here didn't you?" The ghost nodded, his voice sounding muffled behind his mask,
"Yessur! Left here an hour ago heading due east." The commander nodded in agreement,
"Then its settled! I'll escort the new prisoner back to base and wait for you there. The rest of you
will stay here and set up a perimeter." The commander turned to leave, stopped and added, "Remember-Don't kill em! We need
him alive or our mission here is shot. Shoot to stun only!" Without so much as another word, the commander gave the marines
a quick salute and stepped aboard the dropship.
"Now that," Bane interrupted himself with his own belch, "Is a REAL
meal!" Nothing remained of the unlucky Ragnasaur except for a bloody mess where it was killed. Bane got up from his seat,
grunting slightly because he was stuffed with Ragnasaur. The hydralisk started his slow slither back to base, thinking to
himself, "Not as good as those burger things-Buurp!-but still pretty good." His joints loosened up and he managed a brisker
pace. Before long, the lone missile turret on the outskirts of the base came into view. But as Bane got closer and sidled
into town, he realized something wasn't right. He reached the supply depo and slithered wearily in the door.
"That's strange," Bane said to himself, noticing Charlie’s canister rifle still on the counter
and no Charley to be found, "That mortal never strays far from his machines-something’s wrong!" Getting worried, Bane
turned to leave and start a search outside, but he was attacked at the doorway. As soon as he stepped into the door jam, he
was riddled with bullets from a squad of 6 marines that had lined up outside. The shots bounced of his carapace but sent him
stumbling backwards into the supply depo. He was shot all the way back into the kitchen where he toppled over onto the crates,
smashing them to pieces. The marines stopped firing and slowly began to creep inside the depo after Bane, covering each other
with their rifles. The one up front waved his gun back and forth and smirked. He turned around to the squad leader and said,
"Heh heh, that was easy!" Blake gave him a shove forward,
"Were not done yet, cerebrates are not defeated so quickly." The marines paced their way into the kitchen
were Bane had disappeared.
"But I thought we weren't supposed to kill em," another marine said. Blake moved to inspect the pile
of broken crates,
"We'll blow his arms off so long as he's still breathing when we haul em back! Now keep your eyes open!"
One marine stood next to Blake and looked up to the ceiling, spying a tile that was torn away and missing.
"Hey!" he said to his teammates, pointing up to the ceiling, "I think he's in the roof!" he whispered.
They all shone their flashlights through the hole, revealing nothing but pipes, rafters and wires with their sweeping lights.
The squad leader gestured to everyone else, motioning for them to aim at the ceiling. He whispered a quick "1-2-3!" and they
let the rifles rip. The room strobed with the flaring barrels and the roof tiles showered down in pieces. A bullet struck
a cable just right, and sparks spewed down, illuminating the chaos for a few seconds. Soon, the guns stopped one by one as
the ammunition ran out. Dust and bits of plaster rained down as the marines reloaded their rifles.
"Did we get em?" one marine asked out loud.
"No! You missed!" Bane told them as he burst out his hiding spot in cooler behind one marine. Bane
lunged with his scythes, impaling the closest Marine and lifting him off his feet. The remaining marines turned and opened
fire. The bullets sparked and ricocheted off Banes carapace, and he shifted sideways, using the dying marine as a shield.
The moaning marine screamed as he was killed by his own teammates.
"Hold your fire!!" Blake yelled over the noise and Bane heaved the marine across the room. The marine
smashed into his comrades and they all fell like a bunch of bowling pins.
"Get off me you moron, he's getting away!!" Blake yelled and shoved his way out of the dog pile of
power suits. Bane was already out the door and on his way across the base by the time the group finally reached the door.
"He's gone, Boss! We'll never catch him now," one marine said.
"Watch and learn, boy," Blake said as he loaded a special round into his canister rifle. He whipped
his gun up and propped it on his arm, taking careful aim. With a "thwump!" the canister rifle shot what looked like a giant
ball of lint across the battlefield. Just as it reached Bane it blew open, spreading into a net. The thick net wrapped around
Bane and he tripped and fell into the ash, fighting the net.
"We'll never catch him now, Boss!" Blake mimicked the marine in a sarcastic voice and the team walked
across the base were the pile of nets lay. "Hey Jim, go warm up the dropship-we'll be there in just a sec," Blake said, staring
down at the trapped hydralisk. Jim turned and ran back to the dropship hidden behind the Comsat station, following orders.
"Hey," one of the marines said to Blake, "I thought he was bigger than this," he said, pointing down
to the net. Blake shrugged his shoulders and carefully lifted the net up. There was nothing but a circle of freshly dug ash
"What the?! What's with all the disappearing acts?" One marine complained.
"I'm still here," Bane told them. The terrans jumped and turned, trying to see were the hydralisk
would come from next. Just when the squad was about to move on, dirt and ash showered up between them. Bane had burrowed and
come up with both scythes ready, and cut down two marines before they even knew what hit them. They fell, screaming in pain
as the remaining marine and Blake opened fire. The last marine managed a few shots before Bane impaled his face, ripping his
skull off the spinal cord. Blake turned and ran, dropping his gun in the dirt so he could pick up more speed. The coward didn't
get far before Bane opened his chest cavity and bucked his fleeing enemy down with several needles. the hydralisk slithered
up to the fallen ghost and said,
"What was that about a dropship?" Blake coughed blood and turned over on his back,
"Get away from me you fucking monster!!" Bane held the tip of one scythe at the ghost's throat,
"Tell me were your ship is and I may just forgive you for that and let you live," Blake coughed more
blood up before answering,
"It's behind the Comsat station...now just let me die in peace!" Bane showed his wicked hydralisk grin
before saying, "Thanks!" Then, with one quick motion, he cut his enemies throat out, killing the ghost instantly.
"I lied," he said, chuckling to himself as he sidled toward the Comsat station. There it was, right
were the ghost said it would be. The dropship was hovering a few inches off the ground with the cargo ramp down. Bane eased
up to the edge of the ship and peeked in. There was that marine the ghost sent for the ship, sitting in the pilot’s
seat and bobbing his head to some kind of load music blaring in a set of headphones. Bane sidled easily up behind the marine
and swung one scythe over him, impaling him against the pilot’s seat. The marine screamed and grabbed the scythe, then
let go, groaning in pain. Bane reached around the marine and held his other scythe against the marines throat, snarling menacingly,
"WERE'S CHARLEY?!" he demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" the marine yelled between rasping breaths.
"Something tells me that you better start flying this heap, capiche‘?" Bane said as he held his
razor sharp scythe tighter against the marine’s throat.
"I'll die before I listen to you!" he cried. Bane sighed and gave the other scythe a slight twist.
The marine screamed and yelled, the scythe that impaled him rubbing against bones as Bane twisted it.
"OKAY!! OKAY!" he wailed, "I'll take you were ever you want to go!!" Bane stopped twisting the scythe
"That's better! Now, get moving or I'll show you what REAL pain is like." The marine moved a bloody
hand to the control panel and pressed a few buttons. The cargo ramp swung closed and the engines wound up.
to in a large holding cell in the middle of a makeshift base. The marines who captured me wore the same color armor and insignias
as all the ones walking around our cell and through the base. All the equipment they had looked as if it were dug out of a
salvage yard, rusting away and falling apart. As my vision cleared, I noticed that most of the buildings belonged to my base.
These second rate marines had taken control of our base and everyone in it. The disappearance of the base and all the people
was no longer a mystery. Half the base was crammed into the cell with me; there was barely room enough for us to move around
without knocking each other over. The other half resided in another cell identical to mine right next to us. The cages had
plate steel for floors and a roof and thick bars spaced about 8 inches apart for walls. Our cages were wedged in between a
row of supply depos and a run down academy. I held my head and groaned from the pounding migraine I had developed somehow.
As I just so happens, my captain was in the cell with me.
"Hey, Cap!" I called. He shoved his way through the mass of bodies to me,
"Were you been, boy? We coulda used your help!"
"What happened?" I asked.
"Dirty cowards took a couple bunkers full of marines hostage and we had no choice but to follow their
demands. They unarmed us and brought us back here via dropship. From what I've overheard, these bastards are Rebels. They
don't have nearly the fleet it would take to make any real threat against the dominion, so they plan to create another force."
My eyes grew wide,
"The zerg?!" I guessed. The captain nodded his head,
"Yep, they were planning to take control of the new overmind the way the UED did some years back. But
someone beat them to it and blew it to smithereens," I rubbed the back of my neck, pretending it was news to me,
"Wow! But how do they plan to take control now that the overmind is gone?" The captain rubbed his chin
thoughtfully before answering,
"From what I know from the UED Histories, The overmind they took was reincarnated by the melding of
its cerebrates. I guess they plan to meld the overmind's remaining cerebrates and take control that way." I nodded my head.
"By the way, Daniels," he said. I cringed involuntarily-I hate that last name. "What happened to the
rest of your squad? I sent a pack of marines and two goliaths out there! Where are they now?"
"Eeeer, Ummm," I said, buying time while I thought. If I told him what really happened, Bane's days
are numbered. Remembering the rebels, I got an idea.
"Oh yes! The squad! It was so bad I didn't want to recall it," The captain raised and eyebrow in question,
"We were just finishing our rounds and heading back to base when we ran into some of those rebels!"
I lied, "We fought bravely, but we were outnumbered. The marines charged out in front and the goliaths engaged the siege tanks,
even though I told them it was useless. I charged in with em though, and they captured me. The others wouldn't be caught so
"The damn dirty rebels!!" The captain exploded. "I would like nothing more than to get a gun and blast
a few dozen, just for killing one marine!" The rebels walking around our cage sneered when he said that.
"You may just get your chance," I said, leaning against the bars of the cage.
"What do you mean?" He asked me. "I have a friend I left at the base, and I think he may show up anytime
now for a dramatic rescue." The captain moved to lean against the bars next to me,
"Who?" he asked quietly, as to not get the guard’s attention.
"Just a friend, you wouldn't believe me if I told you, anyway." He sighed, "
Kid, I hope you're right. But who could get past this defense single handedly?" I looked around at
the extensive front lines set up with our own resources. New bunkers, siege tanks and missile turrets surrounded us on all
"If it can be done," I said grimly, "he is the only one who can." Someone burst out of the command
center, running up to someone important looking, who stood and watched the proceeds. We all watched as he talked to the messenger
frantically, apparently quite happy about something. The commander dismissed him and called the attention of everyone around
him. They came and he repeated the message. They all lifted their guns in the air and cheered, celebrating some kind of victory.
dropship wavered a little as the marines grip on the control stick loosened,
"You are taking me were I want to go aren't you?!" Bane demanded his hostage. The marine was
breathing heavily and kept coughing blood on the dash board. He panted and held his breath before answering,
"Of course! Why resist now...I'm gonna die anyway.." The radio started spewing static and a transmission
"Cater two, this is ring leader. Do you have the cargo? Over," it crackled. Bane held his scythe against
the marines throat again,
"Answer them!" he demanded. The marine reached a shaking hand to the radio and flipped a switch. The
static stopped and he cleared his throat as best he could,
"Rodger that ring leader, package intact......We are coming in hot, clear the path," He flipped the
switch back down and the static came back,
"Copy that cater two, we'll open the door for you. Good job!" The base came into view ahead, the turrets
and bunkers visible on the horizon. Suddenly, the ship shuddered.
"Keep this contraption still, would you?" Bane told his prisoner. The marine groaned, his voice becoming
raspy and strained,
"I...can't...help..it..feeling.... light-headed.." Bane looked down at the giant red puddle on the
"Blast! Not now! Anytime but now!" The marine had lost a critical amount of blood and was bleeding
to death. The marine moaned and panted, growing quieter all the time until his panting stopped abruptly.
"Hey you!! I didn't say you could die yet!" Bane boomed at the marine. He made a strained sound like
"....Uuughnn...." and slumped forward against the dash board. His hand dropped from the controls and his eyes rolled back
in his head. He was gone. Bane jerked his scythe loose and the marine crumpled out of the seat onto the floor. Bane watched
through the windshield as the base took on detail. Somehow, the dropship stayed fairly level until it passed over the line
of bunkers. The marines far below whistled and cheered up at him. Then the dropship started shuddering and began a slow dive.
The dive grew steeper and steeper until the ship seemed to drop out of the sky. Bane stabbed his scythes into the walls for
a brace as the ground and buildings grew and filled his view. He barely missed a barracks. It zoomed by in a matter of seconds-he
had to be traveling at top speed. "I hate machines..." Bane moaned to himself as he closed his eyes just before the ground
meet the nose of the ship.
"What's going on?" I asked the guard, who was slapping hands with other guards around him.
He was in such a good mood, he told me,
"Not that it makes a difference to you, but the last cerebrate is on the way! They captured em!"
"So much for a dramatic rescue," sighed the captain. The base exploded in an uproar of cheers and we
all turned to see what was happening. Apparently, the last cerebrate was arriving via dropship. After straining my eyes for
a few seconds, I could see it. It scooted over the bunkers and the marines cheered as it went overhead. The cheers started
to ebb into murmurs of confusion as the ship started swerving around in the air. Just when it looked like it was going to
just keep flying right by us, the ship nosed down into a dangerous dive. The people in the base still didn't believe what
they were seeing until the dropship flashed by a barracks, nearly hitting it. I watched as the dropship plummeted towards
us. It nosed up for just a second; 30 feet off the ground then fell like a rock. It smashed the ground and dirt showered up
before it as it skipped off the ash. The engines died and the wings tore off as it hit again, harder this time, and started
rolling. The guards around our cage ran as the ship rolled right past us, finally smashing to a stop on a supply depo. When
the dust cleared, the dropship could be seen as a smoking wreck, pieces of metal and shrapnel from the supply depo and the
ship all over the place. A squad of marines moved in to inspect the wreck. The dropship was nearly in pieces, crumpled into
a ball that distorted its sleek shape. An SCV came with his fusion cutter, ready to cut the mangled door off the hinges. Just
as soon as the SCV reached the ship, the hatch exploded off the rear of the ship, smashing the SCV. The marines ran up to
help their friend when Bane lunged out of the ship. They turned, aiming their gauss rifles, but it was too late. Bane reached
the group and swatted a marine out of his way, sending him sailing to land hard on his back. He lunged for another one and
the marines opened fire. Bane snarled as he was caught in a brief firefight, but he was so close to the marines that they
actually shot each other just as much as they shot him. A pair of marines fell from their comrade’s bullets and Bane
cut another one down in the chaos. The last marine dropped his gun and took off, leaving his friends to die. Bane looked over
and noticed me and the rest of the base locked in our holding cells. He sidled up to the cage I was in and the trained marines
and stalwart siege tanks operators backed as far away as they could from the door, gasping at the sight of a ten foot hydralisk.
I pushed my way through the crowd and said,
"It’s about time you showed up," Bane chopped the padlock off the cage
"That's thing's gonna save us?!" the captain croaked, "A hydralisk?!"
"I can leave you in the there if you don't like it," Bane said as he cut the lock off the second cage.
"It-it talks!!" the captain stuttered.
"By the way," I said as I stepped out of the cage, "Nice entrance."
“They’ll come for us soon,” the captain interrupted, “We need weapons!”
I looked at the supply depos that our cages rested next to.
“Bane,” I said, “Give us a hand with the depo doors?” Bane moved to the supply
depo as the bulk of my base poured out of the open cages, wearily following Bane. The hydralisk smashed the door in and heaved
it aside, letting the marines through. He opened another one for them and, before long, everybody had a gauss rifle. There
were a few TRA's left in the academy that the medics gladly armed themselves with.
“Defensive positions!!” The captain yelled, and we took what cover was offered with the
academy and the supply depos. The rumbling of a siege tank could be heard and Bane took off towards the sound,
"I hate machines!" was all he said. I thought about stopping him, but Bane seemed to know what he was
doing, so I just groaned and checked the safety on my gun. Bane kept going until he was far out of our range and stopped in
the distance. From what we could see, he vanished into the ash instantly. If you blinked, you would have missed it. Then the
marines came into view, charging in by the dozens, while we were a mere 50 marines and medics; well, 55 marines if you count
"Fire!" Barked the Captain, and 43 gauss rifles thundered our ears. The enemy marines were stimmed
to the hilt and ran headlong into the bullets firing their guns, barely feeling the impaler rounds that fatally wounded them.
Bullets rained on us from the mob of angry marines, and the rumbling siege tank came into view; stopping abruptly and going
into siege mode. Marines were screaming "MEDIC!!" and the few noble women ran with their TRA’s to stem the tide of damage
that flooded in on us. A bullet whizzed by my head, and one nicked my arm. It didn't really hurt, the shock hid that. The
insane marines fought on despite their wounds and the blast of a siege tank boomed over the sound of the gauss rifles. Next
to me some marines were fighting and had tipped a cage over, using its giant metal bottom for cover. Soon after the crack
of the siege tank, I was never to see them again. A fireball erupted around them, the explosive napalm claiming the lives
of 6 marines and a medic. The marines advanced away from the siege tank and closed in on us, spewing impaler rounds with their
gauss rifles. Then, Bane saved us again. He had burrowed right next to where the siege tank stopped, and shot up out of the
ash at the sound of its shock cannon. He leaped agilely onto the giant treads of the siege tank and then up to the top. The
operator inside saw the cross hairs of his targeting system squared on a new group of the prisoners one second, the next he
yelled and stumbled back in his seat as a hydralisk had clambered on top of his tank, blocking his view port. Bane reached
the hatch and stared at the solid 8-inch neosteel cap that served as the door on the roof of the tank. He took an experimental
stab at the door, only to have his scythe bounce off harmlessly, only leaving a little dent in the thick armor. Inside the
tank operator activated inferred targeting and the turret swiveled around a few degrees with Bane on top.
"Machines," Bane snarled as he jumped to the giant barrel of the tank, "all it takes is one simple
problem..." He stood behind the barrel and swung with everything he had at the thick steel tube. The tank operator was just
about to press the fire switch when a deafening clang echoed through the shell of his tank. Bane only made a little kink in
the barrel. He growled swung again with both scythes, denting the kink in a little further. Bane jumped off and the siege
tank operator fired. The tank's arcilite shot lodged in the kinked barrel, detonating on impact. The discharge went off inside
the siege tank, turning its protective armor hull into the shell for a bomb. The tank exploded in a crimson ball of fire,
sending shrapnel raining down. But the marines had us outnumbered and we were losing ground. They forced us back, holding
us pinned behind cover with their gauss rifles. Then, as many times before, Bane saved us again. The marines, busy trying
to kill us, didn't notice the 10 foot terror that closed in on them from behind. Bane reached the marines and had a field
day with his scythes, stabbing and cutting the close-packed marines down one by one. The marines turned their backs on us
to address their critical hydralisk problem and we pounced back out of cover, letting them have it with our guns. The organization
of the team broke down, as they were forced to split their efforts between battling the hydralisk and the armed prisoners.
In the end, all that was left in the battlefield was a couple dozen prisoners, a little shaken up from their fierce firefight,
and one shot up, panting hydralisk. Cheers and whistles broke out as Bane came slithering back to us, only limping slightly.
Everyone was happy and yelling, celebrating an incredible victory. I smacked Bane on the back,
"Great job! How do you feel?" Bane winched with the impact of my hand.
"What’s a matter? You're not invincible?" I asked sarcastically.
"Those puny rifles hurt when you get enough of them together," he complained, "And you don't have one
of those medic machines laying around, do you?”
To Be Continued...