Meanwhile, your troop was still coming under daily zerg assaults, correct?
The zerg? Oh, no. They stopped coming.
Yes, sir. One last assault the morning after my accident, and then nothing. Delme told me that everybody was being cautiously optimistic, and even I dared to hope. Maybe this really was some sort of miraculous infection that had blistered the zerg into submission. Did we owe our lives to the Soronan mold?
Lieutenant Orran relented after a few days and let me out of my confinement. I’m not sure who was more relieved: me or Private Delme. Another week went by without incident, and the lieutenant decided to risk a scouting party. He picked three marines from a crowd of raised hands; we were all feeling some high-grade claustrophobia after so long in that damned Wedge.
I found some tools and got to work on my poor melted suit, and I freed up the leg joints to a point where I could wear the ugly thing. Zerg or no, it felt better to walk around in my modified CMC again. I wasn’t the crazy wannabe scientist anymore. I was a Dominion medic, damn it. My father’s views on nature as a shrewd pickpocket had been gloriously shattered by an infectious mold.
Yes, yes. What did the scouting party find?
We were all curious when it got back, and the civvies gathered around too, hopeful to hear if the attacks were over for good. Lieutenant Orran decided to break protocol and take the report in front of the crowd.
Orran asked if the party had encountered any hostiles. The three marines just looked at each other and smiled. Private Godard even started laughing. They said that they’d found an entire valley full of sick, dying zerg. Claimed that the beasts were swollen with disease, sluggish.
Private Evans said that they had spent the afternoon emptying their clips into “the poor bastards.”
The civvies started cheering, and Lieutenant Orran had a big grin on his face. It was the first time those canyon walls had echoed something akin to hope in a long time. But something the marine had said struck me as odd. Maybe I’d misheard him. I had to shout over the noise.
I asked if they’d really emptied all of their clips. I asked how many of these sick zerglings they had seen. Evans smirked and shrugged his shoulders. Said he wasn’t sure, but the valley was full of ’em.
My insides went cold. This was wrong. Very wrong. An infectious disease would result in a population producing fewer offspring, not more. The zerg weren’t dying. The zerg had found their mutation. A new strain was swarming, and the Wedge was about to burst wide open.
I turned and ran. Lieutenant Orran called after me, confused by my reaction. I had to get to the comm station, had to make some attempt at getting the message out. I don’t remember how long I ran, but I made it to the station by the time the first explosions started echoing through Cask.
(Another long pause.)
The rest you know, or at least most of it. You heard my message. You came. The right motivation got you here with an entire fleet of battlecruisers in only four days. Four fekking days! You monsters had been listening to this colony die for months and didn’t lift a damn finger until we had some precious military intel for you!
I’ll ask you one more time for the rest of your report, Private. You’re on dangerous ground here.