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A short story by

Brian T. Kindregan

Juras and Martul stood in the med-bay. The Moratun now led a fleet of motherships through the blackness. The ships had skeleton crews: the original zealots he’d rescued, augmented by a few survivors from Aiur and a few more out-world garrisons they’d found.

They were occasionally intercepted by zerg leviathans, but the fleet made short work of them.

A protoss lay before Martul and Juras, eyes dulled with pain as the med-bay quietly worked to heal his many wounds. When they’d found him, his pain-soaked thoughts had hinted at protoss escaping Aiur, but he’d lost consciousness before they could get the story from him. The other survivors they’d found had heard the call for evacuation but had not been able to get to the warpgate. They had no idea where the protoss had gone. Juras was impatient to interrogate him, but Martul had forced Juras to wait until the med-bay readings indicated that the protoss was well enough. That time had finally come.

“I do not know how long I….” His thoughts were clouded by pain, unclear. “I was underground often…. I could… hear them burrowing.” Images poured from him: hiding in cramped spaces underground, hours of listening for the telltale scritching of zerg digging. Nightmarish moments, fleeing through the darkness, expecting hydralisks around each corner. Leaving the fallen behind, sensing their fear and pain as they were ripped to pieces.

Juras had to draw back for a moment or else get trapped in the spiraling nightmare.

“And everyone else is dead?” Martul asked, her tone flat, hopeless.

“No… not gone…. Just too far,” the protoss thought. Juras leaned forward, a tiny flame of hope awakening. “Warp gate. During invasion… dark templar….” The injured protoss trailed off. Juras and Martul shared a look – the dark templar were an offshoot of the protoss, renegades who’d fled Aiur long ago. Could this protoss be hallucinating? “They opened warp gate to… world.”

“What world?” Martul asked gently, her touch on the wounded protoss’ mind feather light.

“Far away.”

“Where?” Juras asked more urgently, stepping forward.

"Far…. "

“Could you sense anything while the warp gate was open?” he asked forcefully. “We must find our people.”

“Do not know… ”

Juras felt Martul’s hand on his arm, pulling him back. He turned to regard her. Perhaps he had brought a sense of balance to her view of the world. But she’d brought a sense of balance to his view as well.

Their people still lived, somewhere far away. Juras and Martul would lead the motherships through the darkness of space until they found their people, even if it took years.

Then Juras would deliver the motherships into the hands of the protoss, and they would bring fire and death down on the zerg. They would take back what was theirs.

Juras had dreamed of meeting an alien intelligence, of washing away the shame of the Kalath Intercession. Now he’d met an alien intelligence, and his only dream was to see its destruction.

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