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A short story by

Brian T. Kindregan

He was pulled from his reverie by an insistent beeping. The Moratun had warped into a system for a course adjustment and detected a protoss outpost. He was still some distance from Aiur, and it seemed like a good idea to pick up compatriots to serve on the ship. He could pilot it for simple warps, but anything more taxing would require a crew.

Juras took manual control of the ship and brought it down into the atmosphere of planet Samiku. He’d been in stasis a long time; would the protoss of today be very different?

Martul leapt through the air. Spines came at her: a hydralisk. She spun, nerve cords fanning out, and brought her blades up, into the hydralisk’s underbelly. They swept through the flesh in a blue streak, and purplish ichor exploded around her. She landed on one knee, ducked under the spines that she knew were converging on her from either side, and rolled forward to the next beast. All around, her zealots fought off the implacable zerg.

They couldn’t keep this up.

Martul and her comrades had all felt a change in the Khala recently; a strange and troubling sensation. Now the promised reinforcements from Aiur were overdue. That combination of factors worried Martul a great deal. There was nothing on the backwater planet of Samiku worth fighting for, and Martul would have been happy to evacuate. But it did not look as if that were going to happen soon.

To her left, Xulata went down under a pile of zerglings, his blades thrashing and cutting. The zerglings swarmed, and he was gone. Martul came to her feet, extending her blades to either side as two zerglings leapt at her; they impaled themselves and fell away. Her shields were sputtering, giving off the telltale sparkle. They would fail soon.

She felt a vibration beneath her feet, and three hydralisks burst from the ground in a shower of mud meters away. She raised her blades, taking a step back. The hydralisks mistook her action for fear and rushed forward, mandibles twitching. They never saw the two zealots charging in from the flanks. In an instant two hydralisks lay dead and twitching. Martul leapt into the attack of the last, stepping lightly on a large scythe-like arm and propelling herself up past the hydralisk’s dripping mouth. As she flipped over its head, she plunged her blades down, splitting its skull in two. She landed gracefully behind the still-falling hydralisk – and collapsed. Her leg had a long gash running down one side, deep into the muscle. She scrambled back to her feet as a wave of zerglings poured over the horizon.

The air cooled; a shadow fell over her. The sky was filled by a giant disc with three great wings of metal. A thing of gold and blue, it shimmered with the telltale glow of shields. Martul knew every type of ship and vehicle the protoss military could field, and this was something different. It bristled with weapons, and it moved slowly forward, rotating in perfect silence.

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