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Bane 9: Calm Before the Storm
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Created and written by the immortal deadfast

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 guarding the entrance used their access cards to unlock the main shipping bay for the personnel. 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 cocoon-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, much less 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 hydraulic 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 unconscious from the powerful neurostim 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 emanations 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 impeding battle field.

"Of course it isn't right, war never is." I replied.

"I know," the hydralisk 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 a little with the effort. "Never mind," 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 a lot to me; you're a cerebrate." The ragged hydralisk could only frown and shrug, staring down over the rocky ledge to the armies below. I continued, "The UED controlled 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 were 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 beginning to radiate across the planet." I gripped the handle of my guass rifle like a security blanket,

"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 it 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 with charged photon blasters. The bunkers flared to life beside the tanks with chattering 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 siege tanks pulled a desperate 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 erupted into a fireball in front of the hydralisk as it came to a halt. 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 explanations 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 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 fairly 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 the hydralisk fell; I counted off nearly seven seconds before he hit the center of the siege tank. It sounded like a car wreck; sending up a plume of red dust and turning pieces 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 accordion 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 comrades,

"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 whizzed 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 dissolved 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. Suddenly, the chime sound of the enemy scanners could be heard 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 hydraulic engines and the shouts of soldiers and 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 desperate gun shots and knew my friend was back in action. Peeking over the slab, I saw Bane's scythes 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 scythes. 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 noticed my 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 careful." 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 scythes. Suddenly, a lispy voice broke my thought pattern as an SCV swore next to me,

"Damn! 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 goliaths 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 their assigned buildings. 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 dissipate from the interfering signals of the detector. As I moved deeper into the base to get away from the science vessel, more buildings 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 technical facilities. 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 useless, 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 electric 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 immediately noticed a red alarm rotating on the ceiling 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 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 a little 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 interrupted him, trying to sound like I knew what I was doing,

"You are paid 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. Taking off at a sprint, and not believing what I just did, a row of barracks came into view. 8 buildings 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 amongst four missile turrets and I jogged up to the door. No one was standing outside so I tried the thick steel handle. For once the door wasn’t 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, psychic freak?" One of them said.

"I’m 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 their 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 scythes ready as the vultures circled him. The five engines rumbled around him. The riders whooped and laughed hysterically 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 surprising 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 scythes out at the last minute. The vultures ran across the outstretched blades and sparks flew as the bone scythes 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 accelerators crackled as they charged the phase disruptor shots. Bane saw the powerful ball of energy leap from the cannon and he closed his eyes as he ran, hoping his desperate 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 parallel 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 scythe,

"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 amongst a sea of blue. They were all around him, slashing and stabbing 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 scythes 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 in front of him, despite the other two who lunged, stabbing the hydralisk's sides open mercilessly. Bane dumped his enemy to the ground and slung his scythes to the left, but the offending zealot leapt backwards out of the way and the ones behind him tore at the thick carapace covering the hydralisk’s 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 dog piled on top, was to hold his scythes 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 scythes wildly against the warriors that held him down and did their 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 painful 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 immediately 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 its 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?'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 committed 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 brings 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, threatening 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 their 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."

"What?" asked the gunman, easing his finger off the trigger that released the powerful 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!" squawked the speaker box on the Emperor's desk. Mengsk groaned, sitting up and flipping off an ancient record player emanating 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 harshly 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 drop zone and send me the comsat photos the xenomorph operation." The terrible scenes flashes across 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 predecessor. It was an aerial view of the militia sent to protect the scientists and engineers controlling 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 once more,

"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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