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 10
A short story by

Micky Neilson

It seemed as if the screaming had gone on forever.

Any vet worth his beans knew that if you pumped a hot spike into the plasma feed of a firebat's gauntlet at the correct angle, it would roast the poor bastard inside his own suit as soon as he tried to activate the Perdition flamethrower… a lesson currently being illustrated by the charity case waving his arms and hopping along the mucky "ground" of Beta Saul, death wails emanating from his silly orange suit's external speakers even as servos kept the hardskin upright.

Commander Dorian would have been lying if he told himself he didn't enjoy listening to the pirate scumsucker yelp like a spitted skalet.

Finally, the caterwauling ceased and the suit gave up any attempt at keeping its occupant vertical. The hardskin pitched forward, dispersing and then disappearing into the pea-soup fog.

The "air" of Beta Saul, from ground to exosphere, was a noxious cocktail of deadly gases that condensed to zero visibility about a meter above the surface. Said surface was a thick sludge, punched through sporadically by strange, cypress knee-like projections, some only two meters tall, some twice the height of an average man.

All that remained visible of the firebat now were the tanks protruding from the suit's back. Somewhere in the surrounding quagmire lay three more corpses, one of them wearing a spike-riddled hardskin so outdated it made the CMC suit Dorian had on look freshly issued; the other two were clad in a hodgepodge of protective gear that could only be called "armor" if the word were used as the punchline of a particularly morbid joke. The dropship that had dumped off this suicide squad had disappeared into the shifting bile sky.

"Head back?" Spanneti's voice asked through his external speakers. Dorian shuffled his boots in the muck so he could catch a sideways glimpse of the subordinate soldier through his faceplate. He and Spanneti were the only two who had separated from Brute Squad. Spanneti had taken a hit to the upper-right armplate—hopefully nothing their medic, Zimmerman, couldn't handle—and Dorian's hardskin had gotten scorched when the torch-monkey had lit him up, taunting him all the while… But it was Dorian who had managed to get in the final word: something about liking his meat extra crispy.

"Yeah, let's—"

Staff Sergeant Bekkins's staticky voice cut through on the squad's encrypted frequency. "Sir, it's Bek. The drop was a decoy. They're comin' after the package." She sounded absolutely, appropriately (for her, anyway) calm. Dorian had called her "unflappable" once. Spanneti had agreed, saying he had offered to flap her all the time, but she refused.

"Go!" Dorian yelled to Spanneti. Servos kicked in as the two men stomped back through the goopy slough in the direction of the xel'naga temple, a kind of pyramid structure towering through the putrid haze.

Then, another voice in Dorian's ear: "Brute Squad, this is Command. Status report, over."

As usual, Command was useless. It would take Dorian longer to explain what he was doing than it would to simply do it.

"Status report is I'm busy. Why don't you tell me your location and ETA?"

A huff. "ETA is ten minutes. Over." The comm officer sounded testy.

Even with the augmentation of their CMC armor, it would take Dorian and Spanneti a solid minute to close the distance. The two of them coming out here—only the two—had been a gamble, but Dorian believed in rolling the dice. Doing things strictly by the book, after all, was for rookies. The "experts" who wrote the book had never stared down the business end of an AGR-14 assault rifle.

Sometimes you just had to use common sense. Immediately upon hearing the report of enemy contact, Dorian had suspected a feint. Why else would the dropship have passed directly over Spanneti's lookout position? The pilot had wanted to be seen, to draw protection away from the pirates' objective: the relic.

It was usually about a relic. Or an artifact. Or some item with a name no one could pronounce and a purpose no one could guess.

This relic was no exception. It was old, really, really old, and that was the extent of Dorian's knowledge. All company ops were "need to know." "Upper management," a.k.a., the Moebius Foundation, specialized in, among other things, archaeological research on long-extinct alien civilizations. It hadn't always been this way for Brute Squad. Their boss used to be Arcturus Mengsk, and the team used to be one hundred percent Dominion Marine Corps. But after a few secret handshakes and behind-closed-door meetings, Brute Squad had been transferred to the Moebius Corps, the military arm of the Moebius Foundation.

So… the Moebius Foundation called the shots. When advance scouts had located this particular xeno temple, belonging to a millennia-old race known as the xel'naga, Brute Squad had been sent to seek out and recover the relic inside. Simple enough. After all, the scouts had reported that the planet was uninhabited and that the temple was abandoned… Which it was, until the "Players' Club" (these pirate groups had an uncanny knack for choosing the stupidest names) showed up.

The alien structure expanded to fill Dorian's field of vision as he and Spanneti closed in on the south entrance. They could hear gunfire, then loud, booming noises, followed by three tooth-jarring explosions. Unless Dorian missed his guess, the heavy artillery was the handiwork of Specialist Cranston, their marauder—a thickly armored ordnance professional who dispensed Punisher grenades like a furlough soldier making it rain credits at a strip bar.

As they rounded the temple's base, Dorian sighted Brute Squad's dropship sitting right where they had left it, several meters out from the structure's entrance and off to one side. There was another vessel as well, an old grizzly. Dorian had to admit the "Players" weren't complete morons: they had situated the grizzly at an angle opposite the Moebius dropship and were using their transport's onboard weapons, in addition to suppressing fire from behind his own team's ship, to keep Dorian's crew pinned down at the temple ingress. This was classic "Zeus." (That was the name taken on by the pirates' cocky leader.) Brute Squad and Zeus had crossed paths a few times in past years. Unfortunately, the pirate had gotten away each time… usually at the cost of many Players' lives. Somehow, though, he always managed to shanghai more recruits.

Clearly, in this instance, the pirates had hoped to lure the majority of Dorian's force away. After all, what kind of squad leader would spare only two soldiers to engage a dropship full of enemies?

Previous Page Next Page
Page 1 of 10