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The cloaked ghost's ocular implants zoomed in on the Tal'darim base. The Tal'darim were mobilizing their forces against the attack from the Dominion, leaving but a skeleton force defend the base.
“Echo Six in position command, moving in to extract the artifact from the Tal'darim.”
“Roger Echo Six, keep us informed. Remember, the high templar holds the artifact and he is somewhere within the temple. Be quick about it, our scanners are detecting several faction closing in on this area.”
“It'll be done sir.” The ghost closed his communicator looked for a way in. He saw it, a small hanging jutting across. Jumping down from the cliff, he could easily sprint and reach the Temple's entrance in a short amount of time.
Echo Six made his way to the cliff. There was a dragoon and a sentry loitering around but he slipped past them undetected. Echo six quickly sprinted across the Tal'darim base and stopped only to let a zealot go by.
Within moments, he found himself on the temple's steps and made his way up. Once there, he kneeled behind an ornate pillar and he took great care to avoid gaining the attention of two particularly fierce looking guards at the entrance. He paused. How to get inside without alerting the guard's attention? There was no way in but to barge through. It would expose him immediately but there was no other way.
Yet luck was on his side. No sooner than he made the decision to silently snipe off both guards, the temple's doors opened, revealing his target. Wearing a light, regal, flowing rode patterned with purple cross sections, the high templar stepped out. Zooming in on the high templar's face, Echo Six couldn't help but wonder how old this templar was. He eyes were low and wrinkles appeared on his face. Yet this templar's eyes were commanding and fiery, a far cry from his appearance. A sparkle caught Echo Six's eyes. Around his neck, was a smooth, spherical, reddish crystal dotted with black specks.
The ghost opened his communicator to headquarters and readied his sniper rifle to take the shot. “Command, objective is in my sight. Beginning to retrieve artifact.”
“Copy that Echo Six. Head to the rendezvous point as marked in your map. HQ out.”
Echo Six briefly paused. To snipe or to EMP? If he sniped first, the high templar could survive and immediately discern his location and feedback the area around him, almost killing him instantaneously. Better to play it safe; it would only take another squeeze of his finger. Echo six fired off his EMP round at the high templar and the last. Immediately, a massive amaranthine shockwave erupted forth from the high templar, knocking Echo Six off his feet and sending him into darkness.
The ghost opened his eyes and blinked several times. His visor was cracked; the display simply flashed the message “ERROR SYSTEM RECONFIGURING” over and over again at the bottom of the screen. Echo Six placed his right hand on the ground and languidly pushed himself upright into a sitting position.
The ghost took several deep breaths and with some effort, raised himself up with the support of the wall behind him and checked his surroundings. It was quiet, far too quiet for the ghost's liking. Though he was a master of subtlety and was no stranger to silence, this silence was suffocating. It was strange. Where were the Protoss?
The Protoss! The mission was still in operation! Echo Six grimaced as he bent over to grab his C-10 Canister rifle. Where were the Protoss? He pressed a button on his wrist to activate his cloaking device. Nothing happened. He pressed it once more, harder. Still nothing.
The device must have been compromised during the blast, in addition to the head's up display on his helmet. The ghost squeezed the handle of his rifle. He had to be careful, much more careful moving around hostile territory.
At least this ocular implant still works.
Echo Six moved back to his previous position and peered out from his hiding spot. The temple was empty. There was no trace of the high templar, the guards, or even any of the other Protoss. They were gone, vanished into thin air.
He checked his timer. Several hours had passed since he was knocked out. What had happened in between? All he remembered was that purple blast before everything went dark. It would be best to call in command to see if they knew something he didn't.
“Echo Six to HQ! Echo Six to HQ! Please respond!”
There was only static on the other end. Echo Six looked incredulously at his transponder. This was unlike command to be out of radio contact.
“Echo Six on all frequencies, please respond if you there are others!”
There was no response. Echo Six checked all possible frequencies. The Dominion network was empty and silent. Something drastic had happened to the others. The ghost paused and considered his options. He holstered his rifle on his back. He had one other objective that was given to him; heading to the rendezvous point. Seeing no other choice in the matter, Echo Six trekked to the direction of the rendezvous point.
Edited by smylez on 4/25/2013 3:53 PM PDT
The fetid claw hand twitched once before it curled up to a fist. The eyes of the being opened, revealing a pair of sickly yellow-green, hollow eyes as it dragged itself up and stood up, hunchback and wheezing as if it had the winds knocked out of it. The infested terran slowly felt its senses come back. It let loose a guttural cry that echoed through the forlorn and empty hallways of the infested battlecruiser.
It thoughts were scattered. Where was WE? Who commanded WE? Who gave WE the orders? Who? If not WE, perhaps I? I? There is no I...there is only WE. But why WE? Why not I! Yes, why should I follow WE? Why should I not lead? But...no...yes...YES! I WILL LEAD! I AM ZEKE AND I WILL LEAD!
The Infested Terran Zeke felt invigorated at finding a purpose for himself. Yes, HE would lead. HE would not follow. He called out to the others on the ship yet all he was only met with the hollow echoes of his footsteps.
The hive link was silent and it did not brim with any activity. Zeke reached out to any possible overlords and was surprised at the extent of how far his mind could reach to these behemoth's dormant minds. His mind meshed with one, then, two, three and soon, he had dozens of overlords stirring.
Go! Find the others and awaken them for me!
Zeke marveled at how much control he had. He was giving commands, not the other way around! He was his own master! Zeke felt ecstatic. He eagerly searched for other infested terrans like him that were soon making their own connections to the hive mind. But each one that he looked into (and at such a speed that surprised him) told him that they were not as unique as he was. They were the same dumb and slow infested terrans that he used to be.
He came upon an infested terran and bended over, shaking the body on the ground.
“Wake up brother! It is far too soon for you to be sitting!” Zeke croaked.
The body moved slowly and it came too shortly after.
“What happened?” said the infested terran waking up. “Why am is my head beating so? You! Give me a hand!”
Zeke stared at the infested terran. It gave him orders. Puzzled, Zeke reached out to his mind. To his surprise, this particular infested terran's mind fought back against him, refusing to allow him in.
“What are you doing?” snarled the infested terran on the ground, “I'll cut you if you try anything.”
“You're like me,” Zeke remarked fascinated at the idea that there was another individual like him, “You're different from the others. My name is Zeke. What is yours?” he asked with his less deformed arm outstretched.
The infested terran paused and looked carefully at Zeke before he finally relented and took the Zeke's hand. “It's Trevor to you. Have any idea what happened so far?”
“Can't say so myself. I've been checking in with my overlor-hey! Did you just took control of one of mine?” demanded Zeke.
“Control? I am borrowing it my dear Watson,” Trevor responded.
“This isn't going to work. You are not controlling MY swarm,” Zeke angrily replied.
“YOUR SWARM?” Trevor exclaimed incredulously, “My good friend, it is clear that I am fit to lead THIS swarm.”
The two infested terrans eyed each other dangerous and though they did not move, their muscles began to contract in preparation to throw and land the first punch.
“Why don't we put aside our differences and let it be OUR swarm?” Trevor said suddenly, “It'll be much better if we work together and complement and solidify control of the feral infested terrans.”
Zeke hadn't thought of that. Trevor had a good point. If both of them combined their powers, they could command so much more Zerg. They would both become quite powerful and it will be so much easier to control the lower strains. Yet, there was one problem.
“How can I trust you?” asked Zeke.
“I'll let you into my mind and you let me into yours. That'll be a fair start?”
Zeke considered the offer. It was a tempting offer. But sharing control of the swarm? It was a hard pill to swallow.
“Alright then, let's call a truce and do this Trevor. Maybe this partnership will benefit the both of us in the long run.”
The two minds were linked to the collective hive mind. The two infested swarm commanders went down the hallway, heading for the engine room.
“So, do you know what happened?” Trevor asked Zeke.
“No, not really. All I remember is a massive blue wave coming out from that worldship that hit our ships and knocking me out. After that, well, here we are. The last order I remember was getting some artifact from those Protoss down by that giant ship.”
“Hmm...what did you have in mind?”
“Well, fixing the ships's engines would be a great start. The overlords tell me that the ship's systems needs to be rebooted after that wave hit us.”
“Then we lead our swarm.”
Edited by smylez on 4/24/2013 8:07 PM PDT
The high templar opened his eyes and the first thing he did was placing his hand over his neck. His hands grasped the crystal and relief overwhelmed the high templar's senses. The artifact was safe and sound. However, he felt weak; whatever happened had drained him of much of his psi.
Realizing the danger he was in, the high templar gathered his energy and lifted himself upright. Someone had tried to take his life and the result was that catastrophic explosion that was released from the artifact. He could sense the lingering energy from the artifact still permeating through the air in trace amounts. The high templar wrapped his hands around the stone once more. The powers within it shield him and saved his life. These stones were powerful in their right. It would be terrible if someone other than the faithful were its caretakers.
Caretakers...where were the guards? The high templar made his way to the two fallen guards that were watching the temple's doors. He reached out to one of them and there was no response, not even a heartbeat. He was too weak perhaps. Unworthy.
The second one, the high templar felt a pulse. He melded his mind with the zealot, calling out to him.
“Wake up Necator, it is far too early for you to be lying down. You still have your duties to perform.”
The zealot's blank and dull green eyes opened, and they were still. The high templar shook the zealot. No response. The body was awake but the mind was still hidden away. He would have to pull him out. The high templar reached deeper into Necator's subconscious and he found a ball of light. There was Necator, sleeping. The high templar drew his breath in and yelled commandingly.
The color of the zealot's eyes returned to a vibrant green and Necator kip-up himself into his feet. He activated both of his psi blades and stood in front of the high templar, ready to combat any threat.
“Executor Maximus! To think that we who were assigned to protect you nearly failed! Please, accept my sincerest apologizes!”
Executor Maximus rose up and made his way towards the entrance of the temple. “It is alright Necator. The artifact is safe and sound and that is all that matters. Not withstanding, we are alive.”
“But the enemy! The ones who aimed for your life! They must still be around!” exclaimed Necator as he carefully looked around for any sign of the enemy.
“Perhaps, but we have more pressing issues. Find the others that are still alive. Wake them up. In the meantime, I will see if I can get a message in through the shipmasters. We will need our carriers active as soon as possible.”
Executor Maximus looked towards the vast void of space. There he was, standing on perhaps the largest Xel'naga worldship he'd seen in his life and out there, out in space was once a raging space battle between the Dominion, the Tal'darim, and the Swarm. Now, it was an eerie sight as infested battlecruisers drifted alongside their uninfested counterparts. Carriers and their interceptors were floating aimlessly.
Maximus turned around once again. The place that marked the his attempted assassination was right near the base of the Artifact's shrine. It had acquired a peculiar and faint glow that was never there, and it was one that he had never seen in all of his life of studying Xel'naga artifacts. His hands touched the artifact around his hands once more. They were vibrating in the presence of the shrine.
Maximus reached his hand out towards the shrine and touched it. Immediately, he felt a surge of power coursing through his body, invigorating his depleted energy reserves.
“Executor! I have found others that are alive and well. We await your orders! ...Executor? What happened to you?”
Maximus' eyes had a tinge of red. “The gods have been kind Necator. I feel their powers within in me. Look, over there! One of our carriers are coming back online. Come, we will head to the warp gates."
"And the assailant?" asked Necator.
"Leave this issue to rest, we must return to the super carrier."
Aboard the cloaked dark templar cruiser, the Tenebrous, a dark templar, tall and sinewy, fitted his wristguard and placed a painted bone helmet of some insidious looking creature upon his head. He turned around to face his brethren. Fifty Nerazims consisting of stalkers, dark templars, and void initiates stood in place, awaiting the Prelate's order.
“Remember our mission brothers, we must take this artifact for the Hierarchy. Though regrettable, we must use violence against our own to accomplish our goal. It is paramount that these artifacts do not fall to the Dominion or the Swarm. Get to the warp prisms, the Dominion fleet are moving their battlecruisers closer to the worldship.”
The Nerazim forces began to board their warp prism. Standing before each the transport, the Nerazim's bodies seemingly deconstructed and bursted into light, only to be absorbed by the warp prism.
“The Dominion have engaged the Tal'darim Prelate,” announced the helmsman.
Cal'zur stepped in front of a warp prism. “Good, then it is time that we make our move. Keep the ship away from the fighting helmsman. Corsair fighters, ensure that the transports do not come to harm! This operation is in motion! See all of you on the worldship!” With that, Cal'zur dissipated in a flash of light.
The warp prisms were launched within the transport's crystal lattice where the Prelate was stored, Cal'zur saw a great battle about to be unfold. The Tal'darim, outnumbered two to one, formed a defensive perimeter around the Xel'naga worldship with their carriers and there was a particular one much bigger than the rest leading the defense. Cal'zur quickly realized it was a super carrier; the Tal'darim were much more entrenched and in greater numbers than he thought if such a behemoth of a ship was present. The Dominion battlecruisers, twelve of them, formed up in line prepared to attack. A swarm of interceptors flew out of the carrier's docks to meet the fleet of vikings and escorts accompanying the battlecruisers in the middle.
“Cloaking and heat dispersion has been activated,” the mechanical A.I of the warp prism said as the small dark templar force swung around to the back of the Tal'darim fleet.
Cal'zur continued to watch; in the midst of the fighting between the smaller fighter-class ships, the carriers of the Tal'darim began to charge their purification beam. Energy began to gather on the bow of the carriers and they grew brighter and larger by the second. The battlecruisers opened their bows, revealing a massive cannon. It too began to gather energy.
“Massive energy signatures detected,” said the A.I. “We are in the danger zone. Continuing on course.”
The carriers at the super carrier's side released their purification beams on the Dominion battlecruisers just as the battlecruisers unleashed the might of their yamato cannons upon the carriers.
The warp prism veered from the shockwave emitted from the impact of the yamato cannons hitting the carrier's shielding. Cal'zur looked once again on the battlefield; the Dominion were flying proudly with all twelve of their battlecruisers while the Taldarim were down to just four. The Dominion were doing much better than expected. This was not good.
Suddenly, the supercarrier unleashed its purification beam. In the blink of an eye, it instantly vaporized a battlecruiser and its trajecory continued to swerve towards the right, taking out two more battlecruisers. Such was the power of a super carrier.
The warp prism came to a stop. They were upon the Xel'naga worldship.
“We have arrived in the designated landing zone. Preparing warp sequences.”
Cal'zur felt his body materialize into the physical world. The Xel'naga worldship, for whatever reason, still had the capacity to generate an artificial gravity field around itself. This in turn held a thin but tolerable atmosphere around it, enough to breathe. He took one step and squinted his eyes at the prize up ahead.
“Prelate!” cried the urgent voice of the helmsman, “There is something you must know! Terran reinforcements have arrived! The Tal'darim will not hold! No, by the Void, it is much worse! They are infested battlecruisers! The Zerg are here! You must hurry!”
Seven infested battlecruisers arrived with their escorts of infested terran fighter ships of the Tal'darim and Dominion forces. The infested battlecruisers began to fire indiscriminately at the foe: the Dominion and the Tal'darim already weakened from their standoff. In the first few volleys of their onslaught, the Infested Terran forces punched a hole straight to the Xel'naga worldship.
“We must hurry then! Warriors! Make haste to the temple! Our time grows very short with the Zerg here!”
As Cal'zur took his first few steps towards the temple, a giant purple light enveloped him and he saw nothing.
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