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A short story by

Valerie Watrous

"Darsiris, there is a gravitational field on this part of the asteroid! The energy signature is faint—probably very old—but I believe it is protoss in origin." She began powering down the ship's thrusters, allowing the artificial gravity to pull the vessel to the ground.

"It seems we have come to the right place, then," Darsiris replied, his eyes wide with excitement. He started to collect the equipment they would need for the expedition, not hesitating to get his own armor in case more zerg were found on the ship.

He nearly had everything together when Aldrion and Telbrus returned to the bridge. Both were splattered with a noxious substance that made Darsiris wince as he handed them their battle armor. "Did you get all of them?"

"There are too many passages to search them individually, but I believe so," Aldrion replied, cleaning himself off brusquely before donning his armor. He took special care in fitting the collar with a small crystalline device that functioned as a respirator in hostile environments, and briefly ensured that the others followed suit. When everything was in place, he lowered the exit ramp and stepped off the ship, the crew trailing behind him. "Most of the creatures were injured, but they were able to get deeper into the ship than I had expected...."

"None of us could have known," Darsiris finished.

Telbrus rounded on him with narrowed eyes. "Of course we could have, if this worthless dark templar vessel had been built properly." He slammed his fist into one of the asteroid's larger rocks emphatically. Zoraya stepped forward, but she stopped after catching a desperate glance from Darsiris.

"There is no time for that nonsense now." Aldrion laid his hand firmly on Telbrus's shoulder. "We are on this mission to investigate whether the colossus can help us save protoss lives. It is not my intention to endanger any of yours."

Telbrus shrugged dismissively and strode forward into a large tunnel, illuminating the darkness with one of his psi blades. The data had indicated that the colossus was hidden away here, just below the asteroid's surface. After a short distance, the psi blade's eerie blue light revealed a classic protoss structure, its smooth, polished metal contrasting strangely with the asteroid's corrugated surface. Each elegant golden archway was punctuated with metallic discs and azure accents. He moved closer, drawing the blade in an arc over the sealed doorway as he searched for the security panel.

"Here!" he exclaimed, but his next step revealed only a twisted, damaged interface. Telbrus continued, tracing the length of the wall. The ceiling had begun caving in on the far side, ruining most of the framework around the panel.

Aldrion paused, glancing warily at the ruins, then joined Telbrus and attempted to enter the pass code detailed in Executor Selendis's instructions. All eyes were on the panel. A red light flashed and then dimmed out. Aldrion began again, entering the code precisely and deliberately. Another pause.

The red light flashed and dimmed out.

Aldrion tried entering the code once more with the same result, and he turned to his crew with a mix of frustration and relief. "It seems the damage has been too great to allow us entry into the vault."

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