"You know, kid, if what you're telling us is a lie and it endangers my soldiers' lives; I'll kill you
myself." The general said coldly to me.
"Trust me," I said confidently, "If Mengsk was so quick to betray me, he wouldn't pass up the chance
to take out an enemy rebel faction and the Protoss at the same time." The officer's voice rose in tone a little,
"Don't you think Mandelle would contact us if there was any hint of trouble?"
"Where is your commander?" I replied, pausing to letting the truth take affect. "That's right," I answered
for him, "With Mengsk and his troops back in the capitol. Mandelle is dead." The two zealots slowed down more as they breached
arcilite fire range, but still steadily approached the front lines. Multiple targeting confirmations began crackling in from
the siege tanks and marines manning the bunkers. The chief communications officer turned to the General, who stood gazing
at the monitor screen for a moment before answering,
"Hold your fire." The communications team began relaying the order back to the troops. The zealots
stopped about five feet in front of one of the bunkers, amidst rumbling siege tanks and humming missile turrets. The battle
field was ghostly calm, not a breath of wind stirred. Even the buzzing and bleeping of the command center seemed to fall silent
before the general finally spoke up again,
"Send a team down to meet them, they don't appear to be hostile-" The commander stopped short as annoying
buzzing noises began blaring from the scanners. The adjutant droned to life, and blips starting pinging off of the radar screen
by the dozen,
"Multiple Zerg signals detected entering the sector," It reported calmly.
"Do you believe me yet?" I yelled over the droning alarms.
"Give me a visual!!" the commander barked, and the screen flicked to an image of the south eastern
front. The room fell to darkness when the image changed, revealing what, at first, appeared to be an enormous cloud rolling
in over the land. The command deck suddenly erupted in a roar of noise as the general began shouting orders and the officers
shouted back. The alarms kept going off, and the adjutant could be heard faintly beneath the panic. This was too much; I had
to get out of there. I slowly backed towards the door, until the lousy marine guarding it gave me away,
"Were do you think you're going?!" He barked. I looked behind me to the panicking control room, and
then back to the guard,
"Don't you think you've got bigger problems to deal with right now?" The atmosphere of the situation
finally started infecting the thick-headed guard and he stepped aside with a blank look on his face. I nodded and ran by him.
The chaos inside the command center couldn't possibly hope to match that of the battle outside.
I looked to my left, towards the sounds of gunfire, explosions, and the roar of the swarms as I stepped outside. Medics and
marines ran by me, and a few wraiths flew overhead. In the distance, I could vaguely make out a front line between the buildings.
Missile turrets were few and far in between-mainly due to the cluster of guardians bombing them with great blobs of green
acid. For a few seconds, I could do nothing but stand in awe of the raging battle. The corrosive fluids scorched their way
through the welded alloys of the structures, which began toppling one at a time as the guardians concentrated their attack.
The essential bunkers were targeted next, but the siege tanks still stood with their arcilite cannons swiveling back and forth,
furiously pounding the tidal wave of Zerglings rushing in. I decided I would help the rebels, even though one extra gun wouldn't
add much firepower. Checking the safety on my canister rifle, I began jogging to catch up with the marines, and the front
line took on detail and the sounds and sights of battle grew intensely. Just as the bunkers came into view, a sizzling glob
of acid hurtled into the ground next to me. I jumped back as it exploded on impact, sending sand and rocks flying into the
air. I only stumbled a little as I took off again, racing for the smoldering bunkers. The raining fire from the siege tanks
and the hail of hot led and napalm from the bunkers kept the lightly armored Zerglings at bay, but they pushed closer and
closer with their charge by sheer numbers as the guardians began taking a serious toll on the anti-air defense. I panted as
I flipped my canister rifle up, resting it on the slopped wall of a thundering bunker. I winced as the siege tanks deafening
arcilite cannons retorted sharply, but I didn't hesitate to take aim at the floating monstrosities that rained acid. The canister
rifle belched fire as I squeezed of a C-10 round. An crimson little fireball dotted the armored beast in the sky, not seeming
to slow the destruction of the buildings down at all, but the wraiths finally arrived on the scene and cloaked, taking the
behemoths out with their missiles one at a time. It was slow work, but reinforcements were on the way. Goliaths trudged past
the command center by the pair with the lumbering battle cruisers coasting in far overhead. The chattering of dozens of gauss
rifles was muffled by the rumbling auto cannons of the goliaths as the battlecrusiers took positions over the line, pelting
the guardians with the powerful ATS lasers while the remaining ground forces fought the Zerglings. My own thunking canister
rifle was the only thing I could hear clearly above the chaos, so I kept firing. Then, just as suddenly as the sounds erupted,
the battle died altogether as the endless flow of Zerglings stopped short. A slight breeze kicked up a swirl of sand from
the desert floor; then siege tanks shattered the calm again. A wall of brown carapace came into view, as far as we could see
on the southern lines. The siege tanks fired in unison, pounding the hundreds of hydralisks that slithered toward us as one
giant mob. Unlike the Zerglings, the combined hydralisks took the punishing blasts of napalm and kept coming, bouncing over
the terrain with their gangly scythes. I fired another canister round into the field, missing a lead hydralisk by inches.
A shadow covered the stampeding monsters and the goliaths' hellfire rockets sprang to life as flocks of scourge glided over
the carpet of ground units. The goliaths and bunkers flared, launching a thick blanket of bullets over the desert sand. Every
hydralisk stopped at once and began blasting volleys of needles at the lines. Led rain pelted the lead hydralisks, but they
didn't cease their powerful attack until the siege tanks fired again. Violent explosions rocked the ground and bloody gore
splattered in the distance as the hydralisks took casualties. Unexpectedly, the mob suddenly changed fighting tactics and
advanced, heedless of the bullets and napalm that rained on them. The small flying scourge hit the thick hulls of the mighty
battle cruisers like powerful missiles, ripping into the ships with screeching explosions. The hydralisks stopped again amidst
the hail of bullets and time seemed to slow down as they all opened their chest cavities at once, now dangerously close in
range. I ducked as the extreme volley of six inch spines devastated the bunkers and siege tanks. Fire and shrapnel plummeted
to the ground from the falling battle cruisers as a green mist blotted out the view of the enemy. The goliaths began trudging
forward, steadily laying into the swarm with their auto cannons. Needles rained against the front line in counter attack,
tearing gashes in the hulls of siege tanks and punching thick holes in the goliaths' reinforced armor. The bunkers' flashing
gunfire seemed to fade as they caught fire, chipping away beneath the onslaught of needles. The wraiths bravely ventured into
the fray, hoping the Zerg detectors hadn't arrived yet, and began firing away at the armored beasts with their puny ATS lasers.
The siege tanks thundered again, but this time explosions not only came from the swarms, but from the Terran defenses as well.
Fireballs rose up with plumes of smoke as 7 siege tanks faltered under the endless barrage of barbed spines from the hydralisks.
The remaining battle cruisers fell to the sand in pieces of flaming wreckage amongst the raging battle as the cloaked wraiths
slowly picked hydralisks off one by one with impunity. But the hydralisks overpowered the failing defenses at a rate faster
than the wraiths and bunkers could handle at once. The goliaths began buckling by the pair, literally getting mowed down when
the hydralisks concentrated their attack. In a last ditch attempt to stop the Zerg advance, the firebats poured out of the
flaming bunkers. Stimmed up, they sprinted into battle at inhuman speeds, unable to feel the pain of the thick volley of needles
that maimed them. The plan worked. The cracking of needle spines against the cement buildings faded as the hydralisks began
focusing on the problematic human blow-torches that lumbered over the sand to confront them. I took a quick glance at the
Terran line. The bunkers were flaming wrecks, but the marines inside tirelessly fired bursts of impaler rounds at the enemy
invaders. "It looks like we might actually make it," I thought as I gunned away with my canister rifle.
The next second
I realized that the idea of stopping the Zerg attack was a vain one. Just when the hydralisks were down to a few dozen and
falling fast, the Zerglings returned. They raced in by the hundreds, the massive numbers of them stretching as far as I could
see to the left and the right. Unfortunately, a flock of the slow, floating overlords lumbered into view high over the shifting
masses as well and the wraiths' cloak dissolved, leaving them vulnerable to about sixteen hydralisks. The stampeding Zerglings
flowed around the hydralisks and met the remaining firebats. Bounding heedlessly into the gushing flames, the closest ones
leapt for the panicking Terrans at the center of the fire with miniature scythes outstretched. The flares of the brave firebats
died as the horde literally ran them over. The hydralisks blasted a volley of needle spines into the air, ripping the lightly
armored wraiths to shreds of metal. Then, the roar of their engines could be heard faintly as they attempted a retreat, but
four wraith fighters were blasted out of the sky as the surging wave of Zerglings met the damaged bunkers. I backed away from
the crumbling building, still plucking away at the Zerglings one at a time as I backpedaled. The scene was terrible and incredible
at the same time; the screeching creatures covered the buildings like huge ants, flowing in at a rate faster than the marines
inside could cut them down at close range with chattering gauss rifles. Wraiths spiraled to the battlefield in fireballs of
smoke and flame, exploding on impact amongst the charging Zerglings and sending a few of them reeling through the air. The
wraiths that managed to escape the volley of needles veered back around as they reached the bunkers, hastily blasting a handful
of Zerglings at a time with their lasers. Above the faint gunfire, I heard the rumble of heavy machinery and looked back to
see a new squad of siege tanks rolling in. There weren't many, but it was better than nothing. They all stopped abruptly with
a whining of powerful hydraulic motors. Steel arms extended from the tanks to the ground to brace the machines for the powerful
shock of the arcilite cannons that swiveled into position. The marines abandoned the flaming wrecks of bunkers and 8 siege
tanks thundered at once. The swarms flowed over the buildings as the marines fled and were caught in the ripping shockwave
of the arcilite blasts. Crimson explosions engulfed the advancing swarms, taking the bunkers with them. But the few dozen
the Zerg had lost in the explosion didn't phase the numbers of their army, as the carpet of bounding Zerglings seemed to materialize
by the hundreds out of the smoldering front line. The marines reached the siege tanks and turned abruptly, letting loose a
sheet of gauss fire on the Zerglings and the siege tank’s recoil rocked the ground again, raining powerful napalm shells
into the mob. The wraiths retreated to the safety of the marines gauss rifles once more before the hydralisks caught up to
the them. I suddenly realized, as I gunned away with the last rounds of my C-10, that I've seen this once long ago, in the
battle with the Zerg on Tarsonis before I met Bane. It was the Terran's last stand on the planet, as pathetic as it was, and
here we were again; fighting another seemingly impossible battle with the endless swarms of the Zerg. The Zerglings were so
close I could see the blood thirsty look in their eyes when, just like the battle before, massive shadows swept in over our
army. I looked up amongst the panicking marines and snarling Zerglings, getting an awesome view of eight carriers before their
arbiter caught up, enveloping the ships in its cloak. But instead of incinerating us all, the huge vessels began spewing miniature
fighter ships that rocketed out from the carriers in tightly calculated formations, spraying the advancing swarm of Zerglings
with their bright blue lasers. Explosions rocked the battlefield as the interceptors flew in a circulating formation that
dealt a steady stream of firepower, but the Zergling army was far too vast. They still leaked through and began reaching marines
around me, tackling them to the ground, swinging viciously with their tiny scythes. One side of the Terran offense, I saw
as I looked to a new source of screams and ecstatic gunfire, was nearly overrun. The marines were surrounded and falling fast;
the Zerglings had even started to rip away at the siege tanks from inside their minimal range. The situation began to spread
as more and more Zerglings pushed through the pummeling barrage of plasma attacks from the Protoss interceptors and the remaining
efforts of our tanks and guass rifles. My pulse raced as I fed round after C-10 round into the surging mass of carapace that
leapt and stabbed at the marines around me. I heard a marine yell for help close by; two men went down, and the Zerglings
took advantage of the hole in the line. They charged headlong into the raining bullets, taking another marine down. I swung
my rifle up and took careful aim at the Zergling standing up above the marine amidst the chaos. A fireball erupted from the
small enemy as it toppled, head-first, into the sand. But three more bounded around the injured Terran and came straight for
me. Another marine beside me had heard the commotion and turned to help with his guass rifle, but he could only squeeze of
a few rounds before he was hit in the side by yet another leaping Zergling.
"Shit!!" I yelled involuntarily as I stumbled backwards, the falling soldier nearly taking me with
him. I tried to swing the long canister rifle back to the left, towards the Zerglings I knew to be hot on my heels, but the
barrel was knocked away and something large and solid smashed me over backwards. I landed hard on my back and the screeching
Zergling rolled over me with its own momentum. Despite having a hard time catching my breath again, I reached for my canister
rifle as the Zergling got to its feet and leapt again while the other two still bounded to catch up. The Zergling seemed to
sail through the air in slow motion, it outstretched claws would not miss. But instead of dropping on top of me and tearing
my organs out, a long scythe intercepted the Zerglings flight path; nearly ripping it in two with the force of the blow. The
other two were in mid leap now, but it didn't matter. The satisfying "Splitch!" sound of Bane firing his powerful needle spines
cracked the air and one of the Zerglings suddenly jolted back in the other direction; the impact sending it spiraling to the
dirt. Another sound came to my ear as well, a vaguely familiar "Whooshink!" of psionic blades cut the heaving static of battle
for a brief moment. The third Zergling exploded into a mist of bloody gore that splattered to the ground as the dark templar
materialized before my eyes, giving me a quick nod before turning to help defend the marines and siege tanks from the Zerg
with the graceful warp blades.
I looked around and gasped to see several other dark templar, standing and fighting alongside
the panicking Terrans. The carriers still held their positions, conducting their fleets of interceptors and Bane stood above
me with a slight grin on his face,
"Are we late?"
"Can you tell us what's happening?" asked the Commander wearily. Bane turned,
glancing at the front lines. The flow of the Zerglings was finally brought to a halt by combined efforts of the Protoss and
the remaining Terran army. Although the battle was won for now, there were no cries of victory after the smoke cleared.
"They'll be back," Bane said calmly, "And these forces won't be able to stop them again."
"How are you so sure?" I asked, looking around at the Terran base and the Protoss defenders that had
come to its aid, "This army could be rebuilt, it won't even take a whole day-"
"The Zerg will return with their true strength in two hours," Bane interrupted firmly,
"The Overmind's will thunders across the planet, louder now than ever. The swarms are preparing a second
"Then it must be stopped, or at least slowed down." I replied. The commander rubbed his face and sighed,
as if unable to remember something,
"Mengsk has two of the renegade cerebrates holed up in the capitol building, if we could infiltrate
the facility and destroy them, that may buy us some time."
"That's quite possible,” added the gangly dragoon that bobbed on tall metal legs above my head.
I had come to recognize him as the Dark templar that saved me from Mengsk’s troops. He continued after a moment of concentration,
"The overmind was defeated on Auir with the same methods. Even with the mighty fleets at our command,
their numbers were indescribable; destroying the cerebrates will thin the swarms out considerably."
"We've wasted enough time!" Bane growled, "And besides-I'd like to pay the Emperor a visit. I owe that
mortal a slaughtering." My friend turned to the Terran General, "I need one of your machines," he commanded. The rebel
commander did a double take,
"You don't actually think that you can fight your way past Mengsk's body guards and automated weaponry
single handedly, do you?!"
"He won't be alone," I spoke up, "I'm going with him." The General threw his hands up in frustration,
"I can't believe this! I don't even have the first transport to spare anyway-"
"Then I will provide a shuttle," the dark templar interrupted, turning to Bane and I, "And the air
support you'll need to get within a mile of the capitol building."
"Very well," sighed the General, "I don't see any other way around it. Take anything you need from
the supply depos, I don't have enough soldiers to man the equipment as it is."
lights buzzed to life, illuminating the familiar sights inside the supply depo with a dull white light. The new boots from
the stolen ghost suit I still wore squeaked as I paced across the floor to the wall of steel mesh containing a supply of arms
and ammunition. Bane ducked under the low doorway and slithered in silently behind me, stopping as he came to the photon cooker.
I groaned, staring at the small padlock that held the doors of the lockers shut.
"Figures," I complained, "They tell me to pick up some guns, but the things are all locked up when
I get here." The hydralisk sidled over to the fusion cooler and pulled back on the long handle with its scythe, swinging the
door wide open; a trick Bane had perfected weeks ago on Char.
"What's the special this week?" Bane asked, ignoring my difficulty with the padlock. I turned around
and read the label of the boxes stacked in the floor of the cooler.
"Chicken," I said offhandedly, "Yaknow, you really should learn to read sooner or later. There are
some good books out there." Bane snorted,
"Ha! I've got a better idea: since I don't have hands, you get this box of 'Chicken' on the fire so
I can have a decent meal and I'll unlock your machines." I laughed as I walked over to the cooler and picked the box up, setting
it on the counter next to the photon cooker.
"Yeah, that IS a good idea. The last time you tried to pick the box up yourself, you ripped it in half
and spilled the chicken everywhere." I flipped the switch on the hotplate and it began radiating heat.
"Wasn't my fault," Bane replied as he moved to the locker and punched one scythe through the thin metal
easily, "And I ate most of it anyway." The hydralisk jerked the locker door off its hinges and I dumped the box of chicken
parts onto the steaming photon cooker. They began sizzling and Bane pushed the stuck locker door off his scythe with the
free blade, letting it fall to the floor. I shook my head and grinned,
"It still made a mess when they thawed out, why didn't you go ahead and eat them all?"
"That's just the problem," Bane replied, "I had to eat them frozen solid and they were too crunchy."
I laughed again, walking back to the locker and grabbed a few guns. One canister rifle, one guass rifle, two side arms along
with extra ammunition and a few impact grenades; I was being modest with weapons this time-just what I could carry. As I jammed
a full clip into my new gauss rifle and jerked the bolt back, the Hydralisk waited patiently for its food to cook, only drooling
slightly. Banes table manners were improving. I laughed out loud again, in spite of myself.
"What's so funny?!" Bane asked hysterically.
"Nothing," I chuckled as the smell of burning chicken began to grow. Setting down the gauss rifle,
I picked up the C-10 and began feeding cartridges into the magazine.
"Ah! Just right!" Bane exclaimed as he stabbed a charred drumstick and jammed it in his mouth. The
chicken bones made the hydralisk sound like it was eating a giant stale cracker as it crunched the bones and meat easily before
gulping the whole mess down in one swallow. The cooking chicken smell reminded me that I hadn't had a proper meal myself in
nearly two days, and hunger had begun to stir, but watching the hydralisk snag up a second piece and devour it just as quickly
as the first killed my appetite altogether. Bane noticed the crossed look on my face and stabbed another piece,
"You want some?" he offered.
"No, thanks," I gagged, "I'm not hungry."
The SCV's were in a nonstop
rush to get the frontline back up again. The huge team had already gotten a rough net of missile turrets back online, and
were working hard to get the bunkers ready for the remaining marines and firebats who stood by waiting and guarding. A squad
of new tanks rolled off the assembly lines and rumbled past Bane and I, taking positions behind the new bunker sites. The
Terrans didn't stand alone against the swarms this time; zealots stood in neat lines in front of the hard-working SCV's with
psionic blades ready. The majestic carriers still hung silently in the air, effortlessly defying gravity. From where Bane
and I stood, waiting for the dragooned Dark Templar, we spotted the hovering robotic slaves of the Protoss. The tiny machines
gracefully scooted from one end of the Terran lines to the other, creating rippling shows of light that flashed into solid
structures as both forces merged to form the next frontal defense.
"Finally," Bane complained out loud. I looked away from the armies and saw the templar wading towards
us through the marching squads of marines and zealots.
"You always pretend to hate him just because he's Protoss," I teased.
"Pretend?" Bane snarled, "It's in my genetics to see them as enemies. They're our opposite half."
"Really?" I raised one eyebrow in question, "I've never seen you show sympathy for anything until he
died." The hydralisk looked as if it had another witty response ready, but the Templar ended the conversation for us,
"Hurry, we have your ship ready and the escort is waiting!" I had to jog to keep up with the gangly
machine as the templar inside gave us the details,
"We'll get you as close as we can. A roof drop would be risky due to the anti air defenses, but we
can get you within a city block easily." The dragoon led us to a shuttle that hovered soundlessly a mere inch off the ground.
"I would prefer to be dropped at street level anyway;" I replied, "Mengsk might know we're coming and
we could get cornered up there."
"That is true, but you'll have to fight through the emperor's most potent defenses just to reach the
second floor," the Dark Templar exclaimed, "And what if Mengsk attempts to make an escape before you destroy the cerebrates?"
"That's were I'm hoping that our escort will intervene, and as for the initial firefight, we have two
key elements on our side. First, we have the element Bane," I gestured toward the ten foot hydralisk posing next to me, "And
second, we'll have the element of surprise." The blue liquid inside the Dragoon could be heard sloshing around as the Dark
templar floating in it agreed with me,
"Not the best plan I've ever heard, but it may suffice-"
"We gotta get moving, the Zerg will return soon." Bane interrupted.
"He's right," I snapped, picking up my canister rifle, "By the way," I said as Bane sidled up the ramp,
ducking under the door, "Are you ever going to give me your name, or am I going to have to refer to you as Templar all the
time?" I could still sense a bit of life stir inside the cold shell as the Dark Templar answered,
"If you must know, I've been called Rakeem by my friends for centuries. You may use it as well." I
"Thank you, Rakeem, for your help."
"Good luck," the Templar replied as I turned and jogged up the ramp into the shuttle.
The highly efficient Protoss shuttle soared along silently, in complete contrast to the lumbering
dropships the Terrans used for transports. But due to a complete lack of windows, we couldn't see the nine sleek corsairs
at our flanks as we reached the city limits and began passing over the first few businesses and homes at the edge of the capitol.
But the front windshield offered a view of the sky scrappers and taller structures as we neared the center of the capitol.
There was no cockpit at all, the shuttle piloted itself , leaving most of the space inside the compact ship for cargo and
soldiers. I've always admired the Protoss for their incredible efficiency. Just when I was starting to enjoy the smooth ride,
the shuttle dipped down at a sharp 45 degree angle. The G forces of the dive held me in my seat but Bane began sliding forward
to the front of the ship.
"I hate machines," The hydralisk growled, stopping just short of the glass windshield as it stabbed
a scythe into the wall for a brace. Through the small windshield, I could see the squadron of wraiths that served as the Emperor's
protective escort. The scream of their jet engines could be heard through the hull of the shuttle as the wraiths raced in
a tight formation to meet our corsairs. The Protoss fighter ships glared with light as their thrusters accelerated the light
crafts instantly. Streams of smoke trailed ahead of the wraiths from the twin gemini missiles they fired, but the corsairs
paid no heed to the flying bombs and concentrated their neutron flares on Mengsk's escort. The missiles meet the corsairs
in midair, exploding on impact. The corsairs' blue plasma shields strobed as they absorbed the shock of the attack and flew
through the flames, still thrashing the wraiths with their neutron flares. Armor plating tore away from the Terran ships violently
as they began evasive maneuvers. Suddenly, a single wraith broke away from the churning dogfight and dove down far ahead of
us. We were still in a low angle dissent when the wraith fighter leveled out in front and fired its gemini missiles at our
shuttle. They streamed straight for the windshield of the ship, but our view was blotted out by a rippling blue light. The
ship jolted from the impact, and the autopilot responded immediately. I could definitely feel a change in direction as the
plasma shield became transparent again and a vertical view of the overlapping lanes of evening traffic and the wide street
a mile below filled the windshield.
"Hold onto something," I said nervously. Bane just shuddered and stabbed his other scythe through the
floor as the ship plummeted straight down, weaving wildly through unforeseen gaps in the flow of the flying city commuters.
The pursuing wraith launched another set of missiles at our shuttle, but once again, their explosive impact was absorbed by
the protective shields that lay just inches over the hull. The jolt was still felt inside our ship and the blue fields blocked
the windshield once more. When it cleared again, the shuttle broke free of the rush hour traffic and the cracked cement of
the unused street loomed just ahead. I was sucked into my seat as the agile craft twisted in the air, leveling out over the
street and swerving into an ally. The wraith was too big to follow us between the buildings, but it had one last shot at the
fleeting yellow shuttle.
"I think we got away," I sighed with relief.
"Don't be so sure," Bane said just before another explosion cracked against the plasma shields, causing
the ship to rock and weave. The stone wall on the left side suddenly rushed to meet the hull of the ship and the blue shield
flashed brilliantly for a brief second as its remaining power shorted itself out on the solid wall of the building. The impact
sent the ship reeling back to the opposite wall as the dazzling light of the dying plasma shield faded out for the last time.
The windshield shattered and wind rushed in as the shuttle hammered against the stone building. The ear splitting wrench of
ripping metal screeched from the hull and pieces of the ship tore free when it began crashing from wall to wall in a series
of devastating collisions that ate speed and killed the engines. Without the thrusters, the once nimble Protoss ship now flew
like a brick, falling to the pavement in a steep arch. Upon impact, Bane's scythes ripped free of the floor and wall and he
smashed from wall to wall in the shuttle as it tumbled to a stop, slinging shrapnel in all directions. I got one last look
at the world rolling end over end in the windshield before I blacked out.
I wasn't out long, but it was enough to disorient
me. I didn't know which way was up and my vision wouldn't focus well. It was hard to remember were I was until Bane spoke
"You okay?" I groaned and rubbed my eyes, determined to find something that made sense in the dim light.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I finally managed when my head cleared. The first thing I noticed was that I was
held upside-down in my seat by the safety restraints. Light leaked in from multiple rips and holes in the hull and pieces
of the floor panels hung down by cables and wires like dead things.
"How do we manage to crash every ship we get?" I complained as the hydralisk cut my seat belts. The
last strap snapped unexpectedly and I fell to the ceiling, landing on my canister rifle.
"Graceful," Bane complimented sarcastically.
"Oh, shit," I swore, ignoring the joke as I noticed the extra clips for my guass rifle scattered around
the shuttle. I had set my ammunition belt and my guns behind the seat before leaving without thinking much about it. When
the ship rolled, my guns and ammunition were slung out of the broken windshield and scattered all over the ally. My canister
rifle and about half of the gauss rifle clips were still inside the ship, as well one of my side arms. Bane and I searched
around the ally and found the other .45 sidearm, the gauss rifle and four more clips for it, but the ammunition belt with
the extra C-10 canisters still eluded us. After a few quick minutes of unsuccessful searching, I spoke up,
"Did we look everywhere? I'll just leave them-we don't have time for this."
"Wait," Bane said, sidling back over to the decimated Protoss craft, "Could they be under the shuttle?"
I just shrugged and the hydralisk punched both scythes into the hull of the shuttle and hefted one side of it up with only
a small growl of effort. I dropped to the pavement and peeked under the ship. It's always in the last place you look.
Crawling under the heavy transport, I snagged the buckle with one fist and pulled it out. Bane set the ship down again
and jerked his scythes free of the crumpled metal,
Surface streets are usually busy near the middle of town, but a chilling calm had
was all that inhabited the deserted pavement outside the ally. Maybe it was the fact that the city had just narrowly avoided
being run over by the Zerg, or perhaps the threat of another, stronger attack, that kept the bustling foot commuters in their
homes. Wide cement steps led up to the foot of the skyscraper, where tall stone columns separated tinted glass walls with
multiple sets of double doors leading into the building. The setting suns shone with their last light of the evening, creating
a translucent glare on the bullet proof glass. Although the view of the outside was a bit obstructed by the bright light,
the surveillance cameras hanging outside showed four different pictures of the lifeless stone steps. The security officers
slumped in their chairs as they stared blankly at the same bland monitors. "
When's quitting time?" One of them asked out loud, "Shut up, Joe! You complain too much." The other
barked back. While they argued, the monotonous video screens changed. A single Ghost in light rebel armor strutted up the
steps carrying a canister rifle.
"Hold on, Lewy, we got something here." I pushed the glass door open and strode into the capitol building
with ammunition belts brimming with clips and grenades and the gauss rifle on my back.
"Hey, you!" One of the guards stood up abruptly and barked at me, "You can't come in here armed like
that, stop where you are!"
"What’s the problem?" I asked in a bored tone as continued to approach the metal detector. "Its
not me you should be concerned with; I would be more worried about him if I were you," I laughed, pointing over my shoulder
with my thumb. The guards un-holstered their side arms and stood up, but it was too late. The glass door and most of
the wall around it seemed to explode as Bane charged through it, sending thick shards of glass flying everywhere. I Swung
my canister rifle to the left and let one of the guards have it. He screamed as the barrel belched fire and the canister hit
him in the chest. It exploded, sending the guard reeling to the floor as the automated defense system came to life. What had
appeared to be tiles in the floor rose up abruptly, each one revealing 2 sets of chain guns mounted underneath. The machines
wound up and blinding flashes lit the darkest corners of the tall ceiling. Sheets of bullets whizzed over my head as I dove
to the floor and took aim at one of the insane spinning machine guns. Bane leapt onto the security desk as the second guard
held his sidearm out at length, but the snarling hydralisk swatted the puny weapon away just before the officer was cut down
by his own defense system. The guard hit the floor beside me as I pulled the trigger, releasing an explosive canister
that engulfed one of the auto-cannons in a crimson explosion. Bane growled as he was caught in a bursts of automatic fire;
the bullets peppering his carapace, but doing little to slow him down as he lunged for the closest machine gun. I fed another
explosive round into the chamber of my rifle as the hydralisk impaled the machine and growled with furious effort, tearing
the bolts free from the cement anchors and lifting the sparking auto cannon above his head. I pelted another chain gun with
one of the powerful grenades and Bane heaved the machine across the room. It sailed through the air before landing hard on
the floor and tumbling into another chain gun, rendering them both offline. "Four guns down and only a dozen to go," I thought
to myself as I reloaded with another explosive round. Bane lunged again, bringing both scythes down on another auto-cannon,
crumpling it to the floor. I pulled the trigger once more, missing my first target but clipping the chain gun behind it. It
toppled over with the impact, and the hydralisk slithered through the angry hail of bullets to the next auto cannon, cutting
it down with one brutal swing before moving on to the next one. Smoke billowed through the room from the raging gun barrels
and smoldered from the ravaged machines, choking me and burning my eyes, but I still plucked away at the automated defenses
with my canister rifle. The thundering machines eventually faded away and died all together as the panting hydralisk smashed
the last auto-cannon. Pieces of plaster could still be heard falling off the walls in the sudden silence, making crumbling
noises while the smoke cleared. I stood up wearily,
"That wasn't so bad." Somehow, I was completely out of breath.
"That's easy for you to say," Bane complained as I approached, "You didn't have to fight these things
while being hit with your own weight in lead." Bane's carapace was scuffed beyond recognition; the bullets had made an uncountable
amount of deep scratches and dimples in the thick armor.
"Don't worry about me," the hydralisk read my thoughts, "We've got a job to do." I shook my head and
reloaded the canister rifle,
"You're right. Lets go find the cerebrates." Bane started sidling toward the elevators, but stopped
in front of the closed doors and waited for me to walk up and push the button for him. The doors slid open with their trademark
"Ping!" and we stepped inside, although Bane had to duck under the doorway. Just as we turned around and the doors began to
close, several power suits could be seen lumbering up the capitol steps before the doors slid shut with another "Ping!"
elevator lurched to life seconds after I pressed the button for the next floor. When it came to a stop again, Bane spoke up
"Keep going-there's nothing here." I only shrugged and pressed the button,
"How do you know?" "The cerebrates amplify the Overmind's will-I can home in on them when they're this
close," the hydralisk responded.
"They?" I asked while the elevator hummed away.
"There are two of them here," he answered.
"The last time the Overmind was around, you had trouble controlling yourself. What's different now?"
Bane thought for a few seconds before answering my question,
"I'm not sure how I am able to resist the will of the swarms, despite the fact that I can still sense
it clearly." I nodded, taking the information in. A short silence held the crampt little square of the elevator until I asked
"What's happening out there? Can you tell?" My friend sighed in concentration before replying,
"The Overmind is driving the broods against the city to reclaim it's cerebrates, and they're winning...we
must hurry." Silence reigned again, save for the mechanical sounds of the elevator, but it was Bane who spoke up this time,
"Stop here!" He said suddenly. I jammed my fist into the emergency stop button and the elevator came
to a halt. The doors slid open, revealing the wide hallway of the hangar bay. Strangely, this hall was lightly guarded. Only
a surveillance camera stood watch at the end of the hall.
"It's here somewhere..." Bane trailed off.
"Let's start looking; I'll take this door," I said, I walking to the first door on the left. Hoping
that Mengsk hadn't changed the hangar combinations since yesterday, I punched the code into the keypad next to the hatch as
Bane slithered down the hall. He looked at each door in passing until reaching the fifth one. Stopping and hammering
both scythes into the door, he tore them through it lengthwise. The metal curled back on itself as the powerful hydralisk
peeled the rip wide open and forced its way into the hangar. I shrugged and stepped through my door when it opened with a
hiss. Once inside the first hangar, the lights flickered on automatically. Unfortunately, they only illuminated a dull grey
repair hangar with a dropship parked in front of a tall door, no cerebrates. With a gasp, I suddenly realized that this was
the same hangar Bane and I had landed in when we rescued the advisor. I didn't have much time to spare, enemy troops would
be here any minute; the surveillance camera mounted in the ceiling assured that. But there was one weapon I left in the dropship
that I always thought I would need some day, and I felt compelled to retrieve it now before moving on to the next room.
scientists buzzing around the cerebrate worked frantically to find a way to bring the Zerg back under their control. Both
cerebrates outgrew the biggest of criotanks and had to be moved to the largest rooms in the building, along with the tables
of chemistry equipment and electronic gizmos that always accompanied them. The bustling flock of genetic engineers and biologists
echoed like static off the tall steel walls of Hangar 8, until the resounding impact of scythe against metal crashed from
the closed door. The Terran scientists backed away as Bane hacked a long rip through the wide steel barrier and rammed through
the gap, crumpling back the reinforced armor plating. He sidled down the ramp, and inspecting the crowd of writhing Terrans
with an angry snarl. They huddled against the farthest wall, armed with thick tablets of calculations and lab coats instead
of armor and guns. The hydralisk took one a glance at the cerebrate that occupied most of the space in the hangar, and turned
back towards the frightened scientists, sending them his psychic voice with an rumbling growl,
"Run if you want to live!" They didn't need to be told twice. The engineers and scientists scrambled
towards the exit, staying as far away from Bane as they could in the process. While they poured out of the hole in the door,
Bane slowly approached the cerebrate that dwarfed the machines it sat amongst. Like a massive, overweight centipede, the pulsing
creature filled the hangar. The multiple stubby legs protruding out of its body were completely useless for walking. It was
also coated in some disgusting, sticky fluid that ran off in sheets and made puddles on the floor.
"I'm glad I'm not this kind of cerebrate," Bane thought to himself as he raised both scythes high and
brought them down on the worm's rounded skull with all his strength. Blood splattered and the creature screeched in pain when
the scythes met the rocky carapace, smashing through to the stinking fluids inside. The cerebrate shuddered convulsively as
blood and organs spilled from the huge gash running down its forehead and then everything faded away. The hydralisk lost consciousness
as the cerebrate died and their minds became one for a few seconds, but it seemed like years...
...There were the cerebrates,
and the overmind towering above them all. The numerous swarms churned around them, flowing forth from them like raging clouds,
consuming all in their path...They stopped at nothing to be the sole surviving species in the universe...it became their one
driving force in life, one that the Overmind had forged since its creation long ago. The swarms ravaged planets, crushing
all life in their path, innocent or otherwise; incorporating the strongest of the species they encountered into their genetic
...Then the ancient records of the past shifted, taking shape of the present's images. The familiar battlefield
was visible through a clear spot that grew out of the consuming glare, suddenly dragging the swirling dreams into a world
of overwhelming detail that mocked reality. The evening sunlight began flickering out before sunset behind the rumbling thunderstorm
rolling in over the dark battlefield. Pylons glowed dully, casting long shadows; silhouettes of the rows of bunkers and photon
cannons that would soon stand against unbeatable odds. High Templar stood behind the limited protection of the defenses, pooling
their energy for the vital psionic storms as the remaining tank squadron stood with their barrels aimed south, awaiting the
tides of armored carapace...The eerie calm was shattered violently by the thundering siege tanks as the endless flood of Zerg
warriors began. Charging in by the hundreds, their numbers stretched across the horizon; the pounding attacks of siege tanks,
guass fire, and photon cannons began causing the futile casualties to the Zerg. Reavers released their deadly robotic scarabs
that zipped across the battlefield, meeting the lead Zerglings with the pelting streams of bullets and the raining napalm,
creating thumping blue explosions that rivaled the arcilite shock cannons. Despite the extreme volley of the combined Terran
and Protoss defenses, the innumerable oceans of broods swelled against the punishment, driving closer and closer to the front
lines. In unison, 8 tiny glaring lights flashed from behind the lines: the High templar. Just before the charging masses of
Zerglings got too close, a wide crackling wall of brilliant psionic arcs crashed to life, creating a destructive shield of
lightning that annihilated anything that attempted to pass through it. The view of the swarms vanished briefly as the rippling
energy consumed the battlefield, but the powerful attacks suddenly ended and the unstoppable flow of Zerg began again. The
templar drained their psionic reserves, calling on the massive storms once more. More Zerg broke through amidst the crushing
lightning and pummeling defenses of the armies, assaulting bunkers and photon cannons. They were gunned down brutally as the
rippling psionic energy held the swarms at bay for the last time. The protective lightning blinked out, but the desperate
defenders fired on as the smoldering battlefield rumbled to life with the living carpet of Zerg invaders once again. The swelling
waves of Zerglings overcame the forces of the attackers this time. Squads of zealots crumbled as dozens of Zerglings threw
themselves into the noble warriors at a dead run, trampling over them in a rampaging charge for the bunkers and cannons. The
unstoppable numbers built up against the stalwart defenses, mangling photon cannons and piling on top of bunkers despite the
flames and chattering bullets of the Terrans inside. Siege tanks were hacked to pieces by the dozens of ferocious creatures
that surrounded them. Reavers were destroyed as they ran out of scarabs and attempted to flee. Blue and red flames began to
spring up from the lines, exciting the broods to new furies. Buildings began toppling, and both the brave Terrans and noble
Protoss began helplessly falling to the never ending onslaught of the broods. Suddenly, a ripping blue light made the leaping
flames of the burning buildings seem duller than cold ashes. Shockwaves thrashed the ground as four mighty Archons emerged,
approaching the churning battle wielding the strength of raw psionic power. The swarming creatures screeched in outrage as
the unworldly beings showered them with psionic energy. The bunkers crashed to the rocky dirt leaving the marines and firebats
to climb out of the wreckage. They began to stand and fight the mounting Zerg with their puny weapons, but the Archons all
told them the same thing with crashing psychic voices,
"SAVE YOURSELVES!!" The towering forms of the archons were smothered by the brown carapace that flowed
past the failed defenses, the archons sacrifice only delayed the inevitable...Rain began thrashing down as the storm broke,
releasing powerful bolts of lightning that crashed across the sky as the base was overrun by the Zerg. The Protoss called
on every warrior in their army and brought ever ship in their fleets, but there was no stopping the destruction of the Terran
base. The Zerg were winning, mounting more and more numbers against the helpless factories and barracks. The dwindling numbers
of defenders fell back repeatedly, always retreating further into the base until there was nowhere left to go. The base was
gone in a matter of minutes, leaving only the Protoss encampment for shelter. A few surviving Terrans escaped, just steps
ahead of the ravaging swarms that came to crush the Protoss base from two sides. The same scenes were repeated again, but
faster. Without the Terran backup, the photon cannon defense was down in seconds...
...The vision faded as the overwhelming broods began to crush the Protoss bass...but something incredible
happened. Zerglings tumbled to the ground in mid run, and mutalisks spiraled lifelessly to the dirt. The broods suddenly began
falling dead by the hundreds, mysteriously dropping the ground as if someone had hit a switch....The overmind's delicate control
of the massive swarms was shattered as one of its cerebrates was destroyed...
...They would come again, eager to resume their plans of destruction and assimilation-but there was
something different. The driving force that swayed the broods to annihilate life shifted, now turning against a new threat...one
they could not rid themselves of; for it rose from their own ranks....
Then the vision suddenly started dissolving
as a sensation from another realm began punching holes in the world like heavy rain. Bane strained to see more, but the downpour
began changing viciously; stamping out the last remaining embers of the dieing picture. All that remained was the feeling
that grew into something familiar: Pain.
Bane woke from the trance with a ferocious snarl as impaler rounds rained
on him, chipping and ricocheting off his carapace. Marines were filing through the door and down the ramp into the hangar,
opening fire as they got in range. Bane began to charge against the streams of bullets to fight the marines, until two of
them met him at a sprint, spraying flaming napalm.
"Not firebats!" Bane thought hopelessly, but he didn't panic this time. Despite the scorching fire,
Bane lunged for the Terran he knew to be at the center of the flames. Although the napalm burned his eyes, Bane aimed his
swing carefully, and his scythe smashed across the firebat's head like a runaway train. There was a crack of bones amongst
the thundering guass rifles and one firebat toppled to the floor. The smoldering hydralisk was pelted with bullets again before
the second firebat stepped up, spewing flames. Bane stumbled back from the pelting shards of lead and gushing napalm, and
the marines advanced forward, forming a line.
With a raging snarl, Bane surged against the lashing bullets and scorching
flames one last time. He used his momentum to shove the firebat, who flew backwards into a squad of marines. Bane was right
behind him, and impaled the firebat as the marines caught him. His scythes ripped through the power suit, just puncturing
the napalm tanks on the Terran's back. The group of marines yelled over the chaos, trying to get their comrades to hold their
fire, but it was too late. A stray bullet bounced off of the firebat's steel power suit, and a fireball engulfed the hydralisk
and the nearby squad of marines. Tormented screams filled the hangar as the inferno died to a small fire on the floor, revealing
five marines and a hydralisk ablaze with the sticky napalm. The remaining marines stimmed up, redoubling their efforts against
the desperate hydralisk when another explosion rocked the hangar.
The wide door wouldn't open on its own because of
the large hole ripped in it, so I launched a pair of hellfire missiles at it to give it a boost. The steel door crumpled away
under the explosion and the metal feet of my goliath war-walker stomped through the crumbled cement and metal on the floor.
I stopped as my view port revealed a line of marines pounding at a flaming hydralisk with their gauss rifles. Pulling the
triggers on both control sticks, the twin auto cannons gunned away at full speed while I turning the torso of the goliath
45 degrees, sweeping bullets across the squad of marines. They fell like dominos as the rumbling machine guns mowed them down.
Three more marines fell before they turned their full attention to me. I kept my fingers planted on the triggers, despite
the pelting impaler rounds that rattled loudly in the stuffy cockpit. Still partially aflame, Bane lunged for the marines
with vengeful scythes, bringing one of them to his knees with brutal swings that ripped armor and flesh, shattering the bones
beneath. Sparks flew from the instruments in the goliath, sending up a miniature cloud of smoke inside the cockpit, but I
pushed the machine to its limits as the remaining infantry turned against my friend once more.
Suddenly, there were only
five marines left, then three. I stopped firing the auto cannons and unstrapped myself from the seat as Bane cornered the
last enemy. The marine backed against the wall, emptying his last clips into the smoldering hydralisk in panic. The bullet-dimpled
face of the goliath split open, and I jumped down with a TRA from our dropship. Lunging through the annoying hail of
bullets, Bane swatted the puny weapon to the floor and impaled the marine by the shoulders of the bulky power suit, lifting
him off the ground with a furious growl.
"WHERE'S MENGSK?!" the hydralisk demanded.
"Yes, answer the question." I said casually as I moved to stand next to the hydralisk, activating
the TRA. The trained marine only whimpered in fear as Bane healed; the carapace crackled as the gashes and burns in it shrank
away and vanished. The hydralisk even seemed to grow a little as its strength returned, involuntarily lifting the
marine a few inches higher. Bane snarled with impatience, smashing the marine against the wall and mangling the power
suit, lacerating the Terran inside,
"I don't have time for this! Tell me where Mengsk is hiding!!"
With blood streaming down the scythes
that held him up, the marine finally croaked,
"Y-y-you can f-find him in his o-office," before he passed out. Bane dumped the marine to the floor
and turned, noting my shot up goliath and the exhausted TRA in my hands,
"Thank you, mortal. You can be quite helpful with enough machines at your disposal."
"Don't mention it," I said as I began walking over to the goliath, pulling the rest of my guns out
from the open cockpit, "I still owe you a few dozen of those."
Bane slithered down the hall
ahead of me, zeroing in on the last cerebrate.
"You got that equipment from our old dropship, didn't you?" He asked as the wide doors slipped by us.
"Yeah," I answered, not thinking much about it.
"Go back to the ship." The hydralisk ordered calmly.
"What?" I asked.
"Get the ship and meet me on the top floor, I'll be waiting there."
"Bane, are you sure?" My friend stopped abruptly and turned to another wide steel door on the right,
taking a swing at the metal with both scythes. The blades punched through the armor plating and Bane started peeling the door
"Hurry, we're running out of time!" he told me telepathically while he worked,
"After the last cerebrate is dead, I'll make my way up to Mengsk's office and drop off my regards."
The hydralisk finished ripping the door open and slithered inside without another word.
"So you're gonna hog all the action and I get to warm up the ship, huh?" I called after him. As usual,
I didn't get an answer. My laugh sounded flat in the empty hallway as I turned around with a shrug. Suddenly, a familiar chime
came to my ears and I looked up. The elevator at the far end of the hall slid open, but nobody stepped outside. In fact, there
was nothing in it at all-or so I thought. Three fireballs flashed in the elevator; the signature recoil of C-10 canister rifles.
Flipping on my own cloak, I hit the floor before the drywall exploded from the wall as a result of poor aim. The other two
rounds sailed over my head, thunking into the floor and the ceiling somewhere down the hall. As the smoke and dust cleared,
sound became a common enemy. Making a noise would give away your position, and we all knew this. This suddenly became
an eerie game of patience. I tried my best not to move at all, drawing tiny breaths at a time to remain absolutely silent.
They had me outnumbered three to one, but time was on my side. They came up the elevator cloaked, and I just activated mine.
The ghosts would have to move sometime before their cloaks ran out. I held my breath and listened, and, finally, there was
a tiny sound. It was a little squeak of rubber on stone tile, over and over again-footsteps. They were coming down the hall,
steadily pacing my way. I began to panic; I couldn't think with the lousy grenades on my ammunition belt jabbing into my shoulder,
but that's what gave me an idea. I sat up a little, just enough to pull one of the explosives out of its pouch without scraping
it on the floor. The squeaks came again, louder this time and I gently pulled the pin out of its slot, activating the ten
second timer. It was a miracle they didn't step on me as they drifted by unseen, but by the sound of their footsteps, they
had obviously passed by, so I lobbed the grenade down the hall and jumped to my feet, stumbling forward. I had excellent aim,
although I couldn't see what I was throwing at. The grenade smacked against the thin air and I even heard one of them say,
"What the-" before the bomb detonated. The explosion was deafening in the solid hallway as it knocked
me off my feet. I got up and my ears rang angrily as I coughed my way through the smoke, canister rifle at the ready. There
was no need for it, the explosion had massacred two of the ghosts. The third one was only injured; a thick blood trial leading
down the hallway gave him away, but that didn't matter to me. I turned abruptly from the bloodstained scene and headed back
down the corridor to the first hangar. I had changed my mind,
"I've had enough fighting for one day," I though to myself as I punched in the code for the hangar
again. Surprisingly, the keypad emitted a dull buzzing noise, indicating that the combination was incorrect. Trying twice
more, I getting the same result. I sighed, pulling two more grenades off my ammunition belt and setting them at the foot of
the door. After jerking the pins out and stepping back, I remembered to cover my ears with both hands this time as the powerful
blasts shook the floor. The smoke threatened to choke me again as I stepped through it to the doorway. There was the dropship,
still with the back door open like I left it. But I wasn't going to be able to just hop in and fly away this time, for auto
cannons lowered out of their hiding places in the ceiling in unison with the five that rose out of the floor.
ignored Charlie’s half-hearted complaining and made his way down this new hall, closing in on the cerebrate. But as
he approached the right door, a rotating alarm on the ceiling began spinning around with its strobing lights. The hydralisk
turned and threw his blades against the steel barricade as auto cannons began rising out of the floor on both ends of the
The steel plating covering the hangar door suddenly crumpled in, giving away
to the bone scythes that lashed against it. Scientists and engineers panicked as the hydralisk hastily forced his way inside
and slithered down the ramp.
"You know the drill!" Bane snarled at them, approaching the cerebrate as the egg heads cleared out.
The hydralisk only hesitated a few seconds before crushing the defenseless worm, fearing what it would show him next, yet
curious as to what truths it could reveal. When the heavy scythes crashed through the skull of the cerebrate, Bane began to
drift away again. But this time, no rippling visions came to him. All he could see was the blinding extent of the overmind's
angry will. Bitter flames of hatred lashed out at him, seeking to end his life. The raw, burning flares were stamped out suddenly
and the cold confines of the hangar came rushing back to meet him, ending the dream abruptly. He wasn't out for more than
three seconds; the last scientist hadn't even left the room yet. Bane stared at his scythes that still lay gored in the cerebrates'
face, watching the vile liquids inside run down them to collect in puddles on the floor before jerking them free again. Turning
on the gurgling monstrosity, Bane began sidling back towards the door, but stopped before he squeezed through. Looking down
the hallway Bane spotted the auto cannons rising out of the floor again, and the squads of marines closing on his hangar from
both sides of the hallway. He was trapped.
I flipped back into the hall as the auto cannons
sensed my motion and began firing in all directions. I could have taken cover and plucked away at them with the canister rifle,
but ammunition was already in short supply. Still cloaked, I made my way back up the hall. Stepping over the mutilated bodies
of the two ghosts, I suddenly remembered the blood trail. I looked to the red trail on the floor and began following it. Around
a corner and five doors down I found the body of the third ghost. He had dragged himself in here and reactivated the security
systems on this floor. That explained why the doors were suddenly locked and the auto cannons armed. The ghost was sprawled
across the floor of the utility room, one hand still outstretched toward the huge steel panel of circuit breakers. I looked
up, to the mass of switches and lights. There were no labels on them. I sighed, reaching up to the biggest switch and jerking
it down. I was met with promising results as every light on the hangar bay blinked out. Now that I needn’t worry about
being shot at, or seen for that matter, I bounced my way down the hall through the dark. The only light shone dimly from a
lighted arrow above the elevator, casting a light green glow over the hall. Thankful for the tiny light, I found the hangar
door again. I groped around in the dark awhile until my hand finally found the handle on the dropship door. I pulled it open
with a jerk and jumped inside. The turbine engines sounded louder than usual as the spot lights came on, revealing the closed
hangar door. I couldn't open it manually without electricity, so I sighed again, grabbing the last three grenades off my belt.
rifles thundered from both ends of the hall as the marines spotted Bane's head poking out of the hangar door. He lurched back
inside again as the bullets riddled the steel enclosure. Bane looked around hastily, desperate to find something that could
give him the advantage against the superior numbers. The marines could be heard moving closer, their swearing and commanding
grew louder. The hangar, despite the fact that the bulky cerebrate was occupying it, was the largest room in the building.
It would leave the marines all the room they wanted to maneuver and encircle him with their rifles, so Bane fought his instinct
to stay hidden and smashed through the door, into the hall. The marines raised their rifles and the auto cannons
lifted from the floor again, but the hall was suddenly plunged into darkness. Bane grinned to himself as the blinded marines
stumbled and tripped over the half deployed auto cannons in the dark. A short scream pierced the dark hallway and the marines
panicked, gunning away at nothing with their rifles. Bane slashed at one helpless marine after the other as the crossfire
of impaler rounds pelted the unsuspecting Terrans. The squad leaders had been yelling for his troops to hold their fire, and
the order finally sank in. The lead marine flipped on his suit lights, revealing a bloody hallway devastated by guass fire.
14 marines lay slaughtered on the stone tile; some lacerated beyond recognition and others full of holes, but the hydralisk
was nowhere to be found.
Crimson explosions glowed on the horizon, rising and fading again in the night sky to match
the lightning streaking from an approaching storm. Rain pounded the tall glass windows in sheets, causing the dimly lit expanse
of the office to strobe with light with every clap of thunder. The only other light streamed through tiny spaces between the
wooden double doors. Locked and barred in his office, Mengsk could only sit and listened in silent terror to the sounds of
his failing defense system. Backup soldiers would have been extremely helpful, but most had fled their jobs to be home with
their families-quite possibly for the last time-The looming threat of the Zerg had driven all but the die-hards to safer ground.
The auto cannons had thundered to life in the hallway only minutes ago, and now silence claimed the hallway again as the last
chattering machine gun could be heard crashing to the floor outside. The ribbon of light blinked out when a form taller than
the door blocked it. The locks and chains on the double doors shattered the dark serenity of the office, rattling and clanging
in recoil as the hydralisk on the other side tested the doors' strength with a slight blow. The emperor reached into his desk
drawer with a trembling hand, pulling out a sidearm hidden there. Lightning flashed again, illuminating the office with a
blue glow. Before it could fall to darkness again, the wooden doors shattered off of the wall in thick splinters as the hydralisk
tore them off their hinges.
"B-Bane! How good it is to see you!" Mengsk stuttered, sitting up straight in his chair. Bane ignored
the false statement, growling deeper and louder as the emperor tried to talk his way out of his own fate, "Don't be so irrational,
friend, I'm sure there's something I could give you-"
"FRIEND?!" Bane snarled with rage, "You tried to kill my friends, you used me to unleash a
terrible plague upon the universe simply for a slight chance of becoming the unquestioned ruler of this one meager planet;
you're directly responsible for the hell I've been through, and the misery I must go through yet!!" Mengsk flinched as the
furious hydralisk spoke, moving closer with every syllable,
"C-C'mon, Bane ole buddy," the emperor croaked, standing now and backing away from the advancing hydralisk,
"I know you're hungry, I can get you all the food you want!" Bane reached Mengsk's desk and flung his right scythe against
the flat piece of furniture between him and his enemy, sending it tumbling to the other side of the room. The emperor held the
sidearm up, aimed for Bane's chest,
"Don't come any closer!" Mengsk yelled. Bane completely ignored the handgun, even after the emperor
began firing away. One bullet at a time bounced off the rocky carapace, doing almost nothing to stop Bane from lunging forward
and pinning Mengsk against the glass windows with one scythe. lightning flashed again when he hit the window, nearly breaking
it. Mengsk panicked, uselessly firing round after round at the beast that held him.
"Yes!" Bane roared, "Do your very best to piss me off before I kill you!" The bullets ran
out and cracks spread through the glass, spidering out as Bane put more pressure on the emperor's throat.
"What are you going to do to me?" Mengsk strained for air as the hydralisk's eyes closed to slits,
"I'm not going to kill you, yet," Bane began, letting his free scythe fold down to its locking place against the forearm,
"I'm going to make your world very painful before I bring it to an end." Bane reared back the free arm and brought
it forward hard, crushing the closed scythe joint across Mengsk's face like a giant, bone fist. Blood flew in a thick
mist as the Terran was knocked to the floor with the force of the blow, and the hydralisk sidled across the room after him.
"This is from Rakeem!" Bane snarled, swinging low and catching the Emperor in the stomach with another
blunted punch as he struggled to get up. He groaned with the impact, sailing to the other side of the office in an arc. Blood
ran down his face as he hit the floor and rolled over onto his hands and knees, gasping for air. The hydralisk quickly approached
again, using a wicked uppercut to knock the emperor against the wall,
"This one's for Charley!!" Mengsk was hit so hard that the impact flattened his body out
on the tall bookshelf mounted against the wall, sending thick dictionaries and novels avalanching down on him.
"And these are for every innocent life form you put in my way!!" Before Mengsk could go down again,
Bane reached him and threw punch after punch in snarling fury, crushing the emperor's face and breaking ribs. Mengsk tried
blocking some of the huge bone fists, but it only resulted in his hands being smashed. The pummeling finally ceased and the
emperor slid down the wall, whimpering in pain, when Bane stopped him with the point of one outstretched scythe. The sharp
point forced the emperor to sit up against the bookshelf again, and Bane slowly put more and more pressure on it. Mengsk coughed
"No, Bane, wait!!" Mengsk gurgled helplessly as the hydralisk's blade tore through the fabric
of his suit.
"And this is for me," Bane growled. Searing pain pulsed from the emperor's shoulder as he was slowly
impaled. When the scythe was a mere five inches deep, Bane lifted the emperor off his feet, carrying him to the center
of the office. Mengsk screamed in pain as the hydralisk lifted him up to the full reach of its arms. Bane roared in the face
of his enemy,
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now!!" Mengsk could only pant in tight little
gasps to keep from screaming again as Bane gave the scythe a slight shake. The vibration caused the Terran to slid further
down the scythe by the force of his own wieght; flesh tore and bones snapped as the point of the sickle ripped through the
cloth on his back. Blood gushed to the floor, running down Bane's scythe in streams. The hydralisk turned, carrying his prisoner
to the window.
"You holding on tight?" Bane asked with a feral grin as he shoved the emperor through the glass window.
Wind rushed in from the angry storm outside and lightning crashed accross the sky again as Mengsk's feet dangled over the
open air, illuminating the 53 story drop to the pavement far below.
"I'll give you a choice from here," Bane growled sadistically, "You can plummet to your death now,
or hang around until you bleed to death." Mengsk only moaned, growing paler with each breath.
"Suit yourself," the hydralisk laughed, raising its free blade and violently slashing the Terran off its
other outstretched scythe. A faint scream could be heard as Mengsk disappeared into the distance.
The pattering rain on the windshield was interrupted by a crunch of metal as a limp form plummeted out of the darkness and
bounced off the nose of my hovering dropship. I looked up at the sound, getting a glance of what had hit the ship,
"That's my cue," I said with wide eyes as I flipped a few switches, causing the ship to climb. Dim
windows passed the windshield, until I reached the top floor were the one of the three tall glass windows of Mengsk's office
was shattered out. I hit the searchlights and his devastated office greeted my eyes. Bane stood in the middle of it and watched
the ship as it leveled out, raising one scythe high in victory. I smiled and used the left rudder pedal to swing the ship
around 180 degrees. When I opened the rear cargo door, the hydralisk jumped the small gap into the back of my dropship. I
closed the hatch again and looked back at my friend. He gave me a nod and I gassed the engines. The rain eased some, but the
lightning still clashed as we left the capitol building in silence.
The horizon glowed with the explosions of a fierce
battle as we approached the city limits, illuminating thick columns of smoke that stretched into the black sky.
"This doesn’t look good," I said, noting the signs of chaos, "It doesn't look like the Zerg slowed
down at all. You said the overmind was attacking so persistently because it's cerebrates were trapped in the city. They're
"No," Bane interrupted, "They live. Cerebrates can never truly be killed; the overmind will reincarnate
them soon." Fat rain drops began pelting the windshield again as I asked,
"Then everything we did back there was in vain?"
"No, again." He replied. "The cerebrates shall take form within the safety of the hive clusters, but
until they do, there will be a brief pause in the endless onslaught of the broods. We must rally the remaining troops here
and make an assault on the Overmind and the hives as soon as possible." Silence reigned for eight solid minutes, and the battlefield
began to take on detail in the thrashing lightning storm as our dropship approached the front lines. Smoke billowed over the
torn landscape below us that used to be the center of a bustling Terran complex. Flaming heaps of wreckage were all that remained
of the rows of barracks and factories. lightning flashed again and again in the pounding rain, illuminating the nightmarish
battlefield below; mangled bodies of machines littered the ground amongst the piles of dead Zerg. Mounting casualties bared
witness to the Zerg's fiercest strike yet. There was nothing left of the Terran base, it was all reduced to smoldering rubble
save for a few hovering buildings that managed to escape the chaos. The Protoss side was in shambles. Endless blue flames
rippled into the night from the pylons and cannons set as defenses, acting as beacons in the driving rain. I steered the dropship
toward the base, dropping in altitude. Despite being in a capitol ship, the damaged but potent net of photon cannons didn't
fire their phase disruptors as we came within range. The thrusters kicked up sheets of mud from the war-torn earth as our
ship came to a stop. Streams of rain ran off the back of the ship when I opened the door, revealing the waterlogged world
outside. As Bane and I trudged through the rain to the glowing pylons, I noticed an arbiter hovering above. We were suddenly
meet with several battle-weary faces as the cloak dissolved. Surviving marines, zealots, and high templar stood in squads,
watching as we entered the base and approached the remainder of the dragoon force. Somehow everything looked tired, even the
robotic reavers seemed to sag in the downpour.
"My friends," Rakeem spoke up, stepping forward in a battered dragoon that sparked and smoked, "We
were barely able to stop the broods, I'm afraid we may not survive should they strike again. I have ordered a counter offensive-we
must strike the primary Hive while there's still a chance!"
"Precisely," Bane growled, "But we're only going to get one shot at this." The hydralisk turned to
me, "Charley, remember how you vanquished the overmind once before? Can you do that again?" I checked the canister rifle that
I had stolen from the base along with the Ghost armor I still wore. With the dim light from the pylons and the occasional
flash of lightning, I found the small laser and safety trigger mounted under the barrel.
"The canister rifle's ready, but it's useless without a nuclear silo to arm it with," I looked up to
the hovering command center and the surviving tech buildings that hung in the air.
"Those things still work?" I asked the question out loud. The only Terrans I could see through the
stormy night were marines and few siege tanks that had seen better days. Lightning streaked across the sky and the rain beat
down on us harder than ever as one of the marines in a power suit stepped forward,
"Our chain of command has been completely wiped out, those structures are on autopilot. We would have
to board them to bring'em down again." "
Then use my dropship;" I ordered, "Get those buildings on the ground and throw together a new missile
silo. I don't care if you use sticks and glue to build it-just hurry!" The marine listened to me with a sleepy look on his
face, but he seemed to snap out of it. Giving me a nod, he turned and headed for the dropship parked in the mud.
"Get those siege tanks ready for transit," I said, pointing toward the sputtering machines huddled
behind the photon cannons. The remaining marines gave me blank stares and I looked around, realizing there were no shuttles
anywhere. The only aircraft in the sky was a sole surviving arbiter with a pair scouts. I must have looked confused, because
Rakeem spoke up again,
"Our air fleets were devastated in the last Zerg attack, all that remain are these three ships."
The robotic voice of the dragoon paused for a second, "There is only one way to reach the Overmind, and once we arrive at
the center of the nest, there will be no turning back; Failure is not an option."
The arbiter and its escort rocketed overhead, venturing the into darkness
from wench the armies of the brood came. Rakeem and his forces packed into tight squads, preparing for the Recall spell. Although
the Terran buildings were going up in smoke, the robotic systems onboard still functioned properly. The nuclear silo seemed
to build itself as 18 marines with five siege tanks joined Rakeem's small army of zealots, dragoons, and a pair of reavers.
Not a single dark templar had survived the onslaught, and only one of their high templar brethren was able to join us today
in the desperate battle ahead. As the Protoss crafts vanished into the stormy night, I moved to stand next to Bane,
"Do you think we'll make it?" I asked. The warriors around us stood against the wind-driven rain, silently
watching the place where the ships disappeared.
"I cannot say," my friend sighed, "but if the overmind isn't destroyed quickly, we will all die and
your planet will fall to the Zerg."
"It's good to see that you're being optimistic about this," I laughed nervously.
"Charley," Bane interrupted. I dropped the jokes when he used my name; he still rarely does. He continued,
"We're too late, the broods are nearly ready to attack again. This tiny force will have to fight back the entirety of the
swarms to reach the overmind and it's cerebrates; I only have one card left to play-" My friend's psychic voice was suddenly
muffled by a thick silence. The thin air seemed to fold over on itself before a deafening crack of psionic energy announced
the recall spell. A blue field ripped across my view of the small offensive force awaiting teleportation and everything stopped.
Time stood still as Bane, the marines, the Protoss-everything dissolved before my eyes and a new picture began fading into
my vision. As the world took on detail again, a thick carpet of creep was suddenly under my booted feet. I looked up as the
color drained back to my eyes and time sped up to normal. No rain fell here, but the lightning flashed relentlessly, illuminating
the towering Hives that surrounded the overmind and its cerebrates. Even at a distance, they seemed huge; larger than any
living thing I'd ever seen. Giant eggs pulsed at the base of each hive. There was only one strain of Zerg that was that large,
and the presence of them struck fear into the small army as it materialized at the scene. Then everything suddenly happened
at once. Marines and dragoons formed a line as the five remaining tanks sieged up beside the reavers. A flock of scourge flew
into view from behind the hives, screeching as they soared over the sunken defenses. The planet began trembling under our
feet as the Zerg army burst forth from their burrows. It was only a few dozen at first, but as the scourge closed the distance
between the hive cluster and us, the creep-smothered ground exploded in a wide tidal wave of unburrowing hydralisks and Zerglings
that sprung out of the dirt and hit the ground running.
"FOR AUIR!!" Rakeem boomed over the small army of Protoss warriors that stood against the impossible
odds. The zealots poured life into their psionic blades, casting bright glows that reflected back at us in the eyes of the
charging broods. The few marines around us cheered with it to give them hope, even if it was a battle cry for another planet.
Arcilite fire announced the battle's start once again as the rows of unburrowing Zerg drew within range. Five explosions rocked
the on comers in the distance, adding a crimson shade to the flashing lightning; illuminating the raging swarms that rampaged
towards us. Despite the bombarding hail of bullets, the scourge soured high over the dragoons and marines and ran headlong
into our Arbiter. Blue plasma shields crackled briefly before the ship spiraled to the battlefield in front of us in a ball
of rippling flames, exploding on impact amongst the roaring flood of Zerglings. The line of zealots met the claws of the Zerg
with a flurry of slashing blades, but the huge numbers of the swarm surged against the phase disruptors and impaler rounds;
surrounding our short line of defensive zealots. The siege tanks fired again and needle spines began falling on the dragoons
and marines in volleys as I shook my head to clear it. Bane opened his chest cavity and began launching spines of his own
back at the offending hydralisks. My hands shook as I fumbled with the canister rifle. Flipping on the laser targeting, I
held the stock to my shoulder and sighted through the scope. The overmind and the cerebrates were visible beyond the hives,
but the targeting system couldn't get a lock at this distance. Trumpeting roars pierced the stormy night, causing me to jump
as the fearsome ultralisks tore free of their eggs to join the charging hydralisks and Zerglings. My hair began to stand on
end as the High Templar behind me created a powerful field of psionic energy. Crackling arcs of lightning leapt from the thin
air, forming deadly whirlwinds of fury that shredded groups of attacking hydralisks. The reavers released their scarabs one
by one as they zipped into the relentless swarm, exploding amongst packs of charging Zerglings, sending the light enemies
reeling through the air. The siege tanks blasted once more, steadily pummeling the horde of churning carapace, but it all
"We must get closer!!" I yelled to Rakeem, who drove his dragoon to its limits beside me, "The bomb
must hit the Overmind directly to be fatal!" Psychic screams and blue embers rose from the zealots as they began to fall under
the onslaught of the broods. The dark templar responded hastily,
"There is nothing we can do, my forces are already loosing ground!" Indeed, he was correct. The dieing
zealots fell back again and again, until the Zerglings began leaking through, drawing our essential ranged fire away from
the fierce hydralisks. Dragoons were encircled and tore down and the organization of the offensive began to break up. Siege
tanks rang with metallic thuds as their armor absorbed the concentrated blows of the rampant needle spine fire and marines
were tackled to the ground by trio's of leaping Zerglings.
As Bane switched from firing needle spines to fending off screeching Zerglings
with his powerful scythes I began to realize the cold truth. What we had attempted could not be done. Our tiny force of warriors
should have fled instead of fool heartedly trying to stop the Zerg, and Bane's prediction was true. We were all going to be
slaughtered and consumed by the terrible broods. I began to panic, changing the canister rifle back to C-10 rounds and vainly
pumping explosive shells into a mob of hydralisk's that slithered into range. "Gonna die...This is how I'm gonna die..." It
was all I could think of while gunning away. Only three siege tanks reported this time and the gunfire of the marines seemed
to wither beneath the roaring static of the swarms. The sound grew and grew, filling my ears and my mind until my friend's
confident voice broke through it all. The rumble and heave of the losing battle faded away, seeming far off and unreal as
Bane shared his mind with mine, bringing sudden calm to my racing pulse and panting breath.
"You see what I must do," came the solemn message from the hydralisk in front of me who fought with
graceful scythes that always seemed to find the vitals of the lunging Zerglings.
"No, Bane!! It doesn't have to end that way..." I couldn't have screamed the words to Bane over the
snarling beasts surrounding us, but telepathically linked as we were, the hydralisk seemed to understand every syllable.
"There is no other way besides death, and you know I cannot allow that," came my friends response. A
lump formed in my throat as the lightning storm intensified, throwing angry bolts of electricity across the sky.
"You are my friend; I won't let you die again!" My voice sounded small and weak in my own mind as Bane
replied to my thoughts,
"Friend..." he repeated the word, savoring the sound of it, "You are my only friend, Charley, and as
my friend I ask you to help me. Help me end the misery and slaughter, before its too late for you as well." The sense of calm
shuddered as Bane was tackled by another hydralisk. He threw the enemy off with a raging snarl, lunging for the deathblow.
"I-I-can't do it," I stuttered, fighting back my emotion. The lightning crashed again, illuminating
the hydralisk's solid form as Bane turned to face me for a split second. I don't know where I got the strength from, but my
trembling hand involuntarily found the bottom of the canister rifle, switching the laser targeting back on. The hydralisk
gave me a nod and I stared into the large red orbs of its eyes for the last time,
"Goodbye, Bane. I'll never forget you..." my failing voice echoed.
"Farewell, Charley, my friend." came the sad response from the noble creature before it turned from
me for the final time, facing the raging swarms that had nearly finished crushing our meager army.
The calm was suddenly torn as the roar of the battle came rushing back to
my ears. Thrashing a leaping Zergling aside, Bane lunged into the sea of carapace, fighting his way through the Zerglings
and hydralisks that stood to oppose him. Impaling another hydralisk and dumping it aside, he reached a break in the charging
rows of enemies, gaining a few yards before remembering what he saw from the second cerebrate-the scorching will full of hate
that sought his life. The overmind, in the absence of the two cerebrates, struggled to maintain it's delicate control over
the raging broods, managing to drive them against the invaders until the cerebrates could be made whole once again. As a cerebrate,
Bane wasn't able to manipulate the swarms. He could only amplify the overmind's will, flinging forth the blind anger that
he saw flowing from it, corrupting the control of the swarms. In the strobing flashes of lightning, I could see the dragoons
and remaining squad of marines that guarded the last siege tank seem to sigh as the pressure of the swarms suddenly gave.
"What's happening?!" Rakeem asked from over my shoulder as we watched the tide of Zerglings and hydralisks
suddenly turn tail and run from us, chasing my brave friend.
"Bane's saving our asses!!" I barked back, "Give me all the backup we have, I must get a lock
on the overmind!" The dark templar watched Bane trying to fight his way through the swarms, leading them back towards the
hives. The broods twisted and swerved, lunging for the fleeing hydralisk. I didn't hesitate any longer, leaving the stunned
remnants of the army behind at a dead sprint. Bane did his best to dodge the leaps of the Zerglings ahead, but they began
colliding against him at a flat run, throwing him off balance and slowing him down. Rows of hydralisks formed lines and opened
their chest cavities, revealing their needle spines before unleashing them in a furious hail. I slowed down just enough to
get a look through the scope of the canister rifle, aiming the crosshairs at the hulking shadow of the overmind in the distance.
The scanner's Range light flashed dully for a few seconds, but then a high pitched beep sounded in my headset and the electronic
crosshairs suddenly found the overmind in the dark. The seemingly harmless laser cut the night, falling as a little red dot
on the center of the huge creature's mass. Though distorted beyond recognition, the adjutant crackled into my headset,
"Nuclear Launch Detected." Now the broods went into a frenzy.
The Overmind sensed the launch of the deadly Terran device, and suddenly stopped
fighting Bane for control of the swarms. Instead he whipped the broods into new furies, desperately driving them all against
the renegade cerebrate. lightning crashed again and again, making the terrible scene as broad as daylight. The Zerglings swarmed
in on him now, diving at him from all directions. Bane stumbled over one that had just missed and was hit by four more on
the left side. It threw him to the right and the dozens of vicious little monsters trailing him caught up, diving onto his
back and stabbing away with their tiny scythes. Bane slowed to a crawl as they piled on, screeching and thrashing. He tried
to fling them off as the packs of hydralisks rained needle spines on him, regardless of the damage they did to their own brethren.
The hydralisk finally buckled under the crushing weight of the dozens of Zerglings hanging off of his carapace and the swarms
poured against him. The pile of Zerglings grew as they mounded up around my friend, their thirst for the kill overwhelming
them. The hydralisks closed around them in a circle, pounding the churning mass of Zerglings with their needle spines. This
madness continued for a few seconds that seemed like hours, until the pile of Zerglings began to grow again. Something was
different, the mound of screeching creatures seemed to get larger even though no more Zerglings could pile on. They even began
to fall off in pairs as the dog pile trembled and shook. Then the will of the renegade cerebrate began to subside, and the
overmind's control over the broods slowly returned like the second half of a storm. Some nearby Zerg that were keeping their
distance while I painted the target seemed to snap out of a trance and turn against me. But the few charging Zerglings and
pair of hydralisks stopped short as a deafening roar split the night air, muffling the thunder and lightning. The little laser
clicked, blinking out suddenly as an arc of lightning stretched across the sky. Zerglings suddenly exploded from Bane, flying
through the air as a pair of giant scythes flung outwards from the pile, slinging the tiny enemies away. They rose out of
the ripping carpet of Zerglings once more, and the deadliest of the Zerg strains tore free from the hold of the inferior creatures.
The friend I knew was gone, replaced by a wicked thing that trampled through the broods on several armored legs with deadly
curved scythes at the end of each one. The form of a massive lurker could be seen crushing dozens of Zerglings at once
and cutting rows of hydralisks down with blades that dwarf those of the cumbersome ultralisks lumbering over their brethren
to stop the mammoth beast. Bane threw his huge scythes into one of the ultralisks as they raised their Kaiser blades for the
devastating attack, impaling it and then the world turned white. A burning hot light consumed my vision and the roar of the
powerful nuclear explosion was the last thing I heard. I had a faint recollection of lying on my back, watching the ash rain
down from the thundering sky above before everything went cold and dark.
Epilogue: Two days after Bane sacrificed his
own life, for the second time, I sat up with a start and found myself staring at the dull yellow walls of a Protoss Citadel.
At first I didn't believe the horrible nightmare I had was true until I made my way down the halls to the wide open door and
the ruins of the Terran base and the smoldering desert grimly reminded me. The rebel faction was completely wiped out by the
Zerg, Mengsk having deployed them, and some of his own men as well, in the desert to stop the Protoss from hindering his plans
with the Zerg. Of the hundreds of men and women serving on the field that day, a mere handful returned home to tell others
what they had seen. Rakeem and his brethren, their mission complete, scraped together a new fleet and bid me farewell, departing
for their home world. The government fell into a state of disorder and eventually broke up without a leader. As for Mengsk,
you know what happened to him. There were riots in the major cities and control of them fell to who ever had the biggest guns,
but soon a uneasy peace settled again. The Zerg were never seen again, except for a few stray Zergling species that had turned
feral and were incorporated into Khorhal's natural eco system. Packs never grew to numbers greater than four or five and there
are have been no recorded accounts of an aggressive attack on Terrans resulting in a fatality.
As for me, life was
very dull without my scythe-swinging companion, but it did go on. I quit the military and I haven't fired a weapon since;
in truth I developed a particular distaste for machines-you could say I hated them. For decades, I have lived quietly in the
tranquil, open spaces of Khorhal, enjoying the seemingly endless days of peace brought by Bane's sacrifice long ago. But I
secretly yearn for the day of the Zerg's return, just for the chance to speak to my friend again; just to see the wicked hydralisk
grin full of jagged teeth and hear his voice in my mind once more.
To Be Continued...