StarCraft® II

New to StarCraft II? Try free now
The page you're viewing is not yet available on the new StarCraft II website, but can still be accessed on the Classic site below!
Previous Page Next Page
Page 1 of 6
A short story by

Robert Brooks

Alarak stopped in the shadowed path between the black cliffs. His skin prickled. Impossible. It was only midday, yet there was terrazine in the air.

There. On the western cliff. Ribbons of violet haze—terrazine—curled away from a fresh, jagged crack running down the cliff's face. A tremor must have ruptured an underground gas pocket. A small one. This gift would not last for long. Alarak stepped into the terrazine mist and lifted his arms, palms upward, allowing the Breath of Creation to envelop him.

It sank into his skin.

It flowed through his veins.

It expanded his mind.

It brought him closer to Amon. To the Dark God.

Alarak could feel Amon's will, Amon's cold purpose, Amon's dark heartbeat pumping just beneath the fragile skin of this universe, a surging web of veins within the Void that even now throbbed with anticipation. The final masterstroke against the corrupted cycle was at hand. Alarak and the rest of the chosen protoss, the Forged—the Tal'darim—needed only to wait for a little while longer.

Ascension is nigh, promised Amon.

But all too soon the swirling mist melted away in the breeze. The waves of bliss lingered only a few moments longer.

No more terrazine would arise until sunset. Then it would fill the entire atmosphere, just as it did every night. Why? It was the will of Amon. All Tal'darim on Slayn, high and low alike, were surrounded by His glory until the sun rose and His gift faded away. Every night, all Tal'darim were equal in His dark gaze.

Not so in daylight. In daylight one had to earn his or her place. That, too, was the will of Amon.

Heavy boots crunched on small broken rocks behind him. "Master Alarak." It was his subordinate Ji'nara, approaching him cautiously. "You are needed."

She was the Fifth Ascendant. He was the Fourth, one link higher in the Chain of Ascension. One day she would try to kill him.

But likely not today, Alarak thought. He didn't bother turning around. "It can wait," he said. He wanted to survey this location for further terrazine pockets. If more will arise here during the day

"No, it cannot," she said. "Master Nuroka sent me. He wishes to speak with you."

"Very well." As the Fourth Ascendant, Alarak could not disobey First Ascendant Nuroka any more than he could disobey Amon. "Did he say why?"

"He has challenged Highlord Ma'lash to Rak'Shir," Ji'nara said. "One of them will die tomorrow."

Silence filled the canyon. Alarak showed no reaction, made no movements. He couldn't. It was as if all of his thoughts had frozen solid in an instant.

Impossible.

Was she lying? No. Absolutely not. Ji'nara was cunning, not reckless. If she were to lie about this, Alarak would gut her and leave her corpse for the hungry zoanthisks. She had seen him do it to different subordinates. It had to be truth. "Interesting," was all he said. His other thoughts he kept hidden from her. Just as she was hiding hers from him.

"Did you know?"

Finally Alarak turned around to study her expression. "Yes," he said. That was a lie, of course.

Rak'Shir. There hadn't been one of those among highly ranked Tal'darim in months. Amon's plans were so close to blossoming. Once they did, every living Tal'darim would rise to glory under Amon's new order. Challenging the Highlord in a fight to the death? Now? It was madness. Why would Nuroka…?

Ji'nara was watching him closely. Alarak's next words would determine whether she would join the ritual.

He met her eyes. "Will you fight tomorrow?" he asked.

"Perhaps," she said.

"It should be quite entertaining. Highlord Ma'lash does not permit his challengers to die quickly," said Alarak. This must stay contained. If too many ascendants joined the fight—if too many Tal'darim leaders died—the chaos could delay Amon's plans by months. Or decades. Alarak would gain nothing from that. If Ji'nara stays out, none beneath her rank will dare join. Not for a Rak'Shir this unexpected. He put an edge on his tone. "Enjoy watching. I would hate to kill someone of your competence."

She didn't seem to react. Only the slight twitch of her shoulders beneath her black, jagged armor betrayed her emotions. "I understand," she said flatly. And it was clear she did. Ji'nara would not fight tomorrow. "Master Nuroka instructs you to go to his quarters," she said.

"Very well," said Alarak, dismissing her with a sharp gesture.

Ji'nara left without another word, glancing over her shoulder at him. She would talk. That was good. Alarak wanted the others to believe he would declare himself as a combatant. But he did not want them to know for whom. If they were confused, so much the better.

It would mask the confusion within himself.

Alarak left the canyon along the narrow path that had brought him there. It was not far to the Tal'darim outpost, but it was time enough to think.

Questions weighed heavily on his mind. Who would join the fight? Whom would they fight for?

And how many could Alarak kill?

Previous Page Next Page
Page 1 of 6