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A breif interlude in my new series, continuing on from 'Bad Day':

Simmons’ jaw went slack as Zeiyfor shot Guardsman Davinsky in the chest. The burly man collapsed a moment later. The Chimeric walked over and hauled up the corpse, tossing it into the corner of the room with disgusting ease.

“See? I told you. No consequence.” The Chimeric remarked lightly. Simmons gazed in shock for a moment before he could even begin to respond.

You’re-”

“-heartless?” The Chimeric interrupted. “You aren’t the first to say that to me. You also aren’t the first who fail to understand that a single life is nothing when compared to the survival and advancement of the human race as a whole.”

“Still…” Simmons began, but trailed away.

“Besides, he’d be dead soon anyway.”

Simmons stared at Commandant Zeiyfor until he turned and faced the Governor.

"If you must know, advance elements of a Protoss fleet are sweeping into this system as we speak. Shuttles will be unloading their fanatical warriors onto our cities in a matter of hours.” He said blandly.

“And when were you planning to tell me this?” He spluttered, losing all control of his calm. “A Protoss fleet is at my doorstep and you withhold this information from me! You’d better have one hell of a good reason, or our agreement is terminated.” His eyes narrowed to slits. “Permanently.”

“If I’d told you, what difference would it have made? You would have panicked and fled Madrigal, abandoning the careful work we’ve established here.” Zeiyfor explained, in a condescending tone.

“I would not have fled!” Simmons shouted. “I would have had time to prepare my defences, use Madrigal’s forces to hold until reinforcements can arrive from Narhtep and Solos. They’re not more than a few days away!”

“Trust me in this, governor – the Protoss have learned of our little project, presumably through their psionic devilry. The fleet they have sent here is such that you would not be able to hold for a few hours, never mind days. Enough of the High Templar caste are present to slay every living being on this world from orbit, though they will not choose to do so. And there are undoubtedly enough Reavers to level every city on this world in a matter of moments.”

“Then what do we do?” Simmons said, collapsing into a chair. He pushed his grey hair back, groaning at the first hints of a migraine.

“We now have enough information to enable us to restart the project elsewhere. So we flee. There is a battlecruiser lying cloaked in low orbit, one of Mengsk’s personal fleet. A dropship will arrive shortly and airlift us to safety. The battleship will escape through a hole that will open momentarily among the Observer units preceding the main mass of the fleet. I have agents in place to affect this.”

“What about the infiltrator? That means the Nevermore must be close by.”

“With any luck they’ll perish when the Protoss invade, in some vain attempt to protect the planet. As for the infiltrator… we’ll deal with him now. Who is it?”

“Viktor Tarken. He kept his second name, presumably to double bluff the security. He’s posted to guard the Entrance Hall, most often – but he’s been seen many times poking around the rooms in the East Wing and elsewhere.”

“Then let’s go. The dropship will be here soon.” The Chimeric said. Simmons got wearily to his feet and walked over to the north wall, where he pressed a wood panel. With a click it swung open, revealing the ebony hilt of the rapier within. He strapped the scabbard around his waist, then took the ornate plasma pistol from the compartment and slotted it into the holster beneath his left arm.

Tarken looked like he was sleeping, with a drip of drool starting to creep down his cheek and his cigar hanging half out of his mouth. But through the narrowest slits in his eyes he was watching everything that happened in the entrance room. It was a skill he’d taken pains to perfect – the difficulty was not actually falling asleep, or reacting when someone like Davinsky decided to be an ass. Tarken wondered for a moment where he was – usually reports to Sergeant Connor took less than a minute. But then his eyes fixed on the two figures emerging from the corridor across the Hall from him. One of them was holding something – small and black. He swung inexorably in Tarken’s direction.

Commandant Zeiyfor fired his pistol, only to see that Tarken was already moving, rolling off the sofa and behind a statue. He was fumbling in his robes. Zeiyfor took aim and fired again, but the shots ricocheted off the stone figure. Tarken produced his handgun and fired, but the weapon was seriously inaccurate and the shots went wide. By now, the other guards had heard the commotion and were running into the Hall, pistols at the ready. They opened fire, trained to take down anyone who fired a weapon at the Governor without any questions. One of the more skilled marksmen managed to clip Tarken’s shoulder, making him swear loudly. He was covered in stone dust and surrounded – but the walls here looked quite thin…

Simmons discharged the plasma pistol, disintegrating the statue in a malevolent red flare of light. The guardsmen beside him opened fire also, only to stop in astonishment as an iron hammer in Tarken’s hand smashed through the thin partition behind him. They shot at him again, but Tarken’s furs were coming off to reveal tight security armour – nowhere near as effective as a powered suit, but the next best thing. He dove through the hole in the wall, rolled deftly and sprang to his feet, charging straight down a corridor and leaping shoulder first through a window, the lead piping scoring a cut on his cheek. He rolled again and ran, brushing the shards of glass from his clothing.

The perimeter fence was near. He fired the last rounds of his clip at two guards chasing him as he leapt down the steps of the terraces. Then, with one mighty surge, he snapped through the cheaply-manufactured chain link, running for all he was worth as three more fur-covered guardsmen appeared through the gap he’d made. Bullets thudded into his black, but the layered polymers absorbed the impacts. Still, he felt like he’d been punched.

His foot caught in a twisted root and he sprawled on the ground, spitting out dirt and pine needles. In the gloom of the forest, the forms of his pursuers took on a more ghostly aspect, looming out from between the firs, their pistols barking. The first managed to come within three metres of Tarken, level his pistol and momentarily tense his finger before a spray of gauss-propelled slugs struck him, issuing from a patch of darkness behind the fallen spy. Lacking any sort of protection, the salvo tore the guardsmen apart, spraying Tarken with blood. Sickened, he began to rise to his feet, only to drop down again as his violent protector unleashed another burst, slaying the other two guardsmen with one horrific trigger-squeeze.

A fist wrapped in powered armour reached down and helped the infiltrator to his feet. The hulking shape stepped out of the darkness, revealing the geometric humanoid form of a Confederate Marine. Or, as Tarken still had to remind himself occasionally, an ex-Confed. He looked up as his rescuer opened his faceplate, the burnished bronze of the reflective visor sliding back up into the helmet with a quiet hiss.

“You took your sweet time!” The man said. Tarken could only grin, his hands starting to shake as the adrenaline that had been flooding his system began to dissipate. His hormonal implant that would have stopped such involuntarily motion had long ago ceased to work.

“Yeah. They found me out, I don’t know how. But I recorded a conversation between a Chimeric called Commandant Zeiyfor and Governor Simmons. I had time to download it from the bug, but not listen to it.”

“Well, it’ll have to wait.” The man told him. “We picked up a warp vortex opening outside the system – so big that enough Protoss guys can come through and swamp this system.”

“Executor Kadralas wasn’t able to sway the New Conclave?” Tarken asked, surprised.

“It doesn’t look like it. I’m guessing they won’t go for us, but we still have to get out of here pretty soon.”

“Okay, let’s go.” Tarken said. “And thanks, Corso.”

“No problem, chief.”

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