Kerrigan said quite simply, "I think I had just zoned out, please forgive me, will you? I do that all the time--"
Daniel visibly relaxed. He didn't know why that got him worried so much. He merely stayed looking at where James had been, and attempted to answer, <Ha ha! You fell for it, you did...>
And to his further astonishment, she replied. <Yeah, I did... I'm Sarah Kerrigan, and you are---hmm... you're Daniel... Travincal. Yep, that must be it.>
As the five returned to the command center with the bound and dead Confederate officials, the two communicated mutely: <Correct. Darn, you seem to be so good at telepathy.>
< It takes a telepath to understand what it means to be one. You seem to be on that path. Maybe you'll uncover its powers--like I did.>
< I wish... Wait, what you mean by you did?>
<Those fabled elite assassins-->
<Too bad the former magistrate had a hidden detector.>
"HeLLO, Daniel!" Daniel practically bumped into Sarlena, her arms akimbo. "What's the matter with you?"
"Er, nothing, I was just thinking about the magistrate--," said Daniel, though he was striving to send a telepathic thought to her: <Hello? Do you hear me?>
"Yeah, he's dead, that's all," replied Sarlena, which also meant that she had not caught on to his thoughts. Thank goodness you're not hearing what I'm thinking, or else...
"Well then, would someone tend to Kerrigan's wounds, while I take a general look at the conditions of the city?"
"Yes, of course,...er, Kerrigan?? You guys know each other?" replied Michael, increasingly baffled.
"No, she just told me her name while we were meeting with Raynor." Daniel tried to pass it off as perfectly normal, though he realized that he'd just blundered.
"I Definitely didn't hear her say her name at that time,..."
Daniel turned his face away from him and looked at the control panels. Now. Time to check out this big gift... As he looked at his desk, he saw some notes, and began reading one of them avidly.
"...Now, I have some connections with the Confederates, and some really top-level offcials are in my pockets. I could redirect their wrath elsewhere while you prepare for the siege, Magistrate. Of course, the greater the price you are willing to pay us, the greater our efforts toward this goal shall be... Signed, Janus"
Daniel realized right then that this was somebody he ought to pay a visit to. And really soon. It seems he's so significant a ringleader around this place that he would make his whereabouts known, Daniel thought to himself. All the better; I'll have an easier time finding him.
Meanwhile, Kerrigan spoke up, "all right then, I'll be the magistrate of this city."
"Hey, who said you get to play Magistrate?" challenged Sarlena.
Daniel took this out of context, and thought that he was being addressed, so he defended himself: "Well, for one, I know how to defend this place from the Zerg," Daniel replied. "And two, I'm the lieutenant colonel around here." Daniel smiled, and both Kerrigan Sarlena decided to back down, just as two dozen Sons of Korhal marines filed into the room, guarding the entrance and exits. Daniel sighed after he realized that they were on the same side.
Daniel wondered what Kerrigan must be thinking, given the fact that Daniel had just recently been promoted--yet Again. Smugly, he peered into Sarah Kerrigan's mind--and she let out just a bit of information for Daniel to note.
"Crap," Daniel said abruptly, realizing Sarah's position. "I had no idea you were Mengsk's second in command, Ms. Kerrigan ma'am," he said, beads of sweat appearing.
"It's quite all right. Come to think of it, I have other things to be doing, so maybe it wouldn't work for me to be magistrate."
Daniel looked around at the six captives in the command center. "Which of you is the adjutant?"
"I a-am, sir," said one of the officers, still a bit terrified.
Daniel found the source of the reply, and freed her. "You have two options: Serve me, or die." He knew he was bluffing, but it was also effective: the adjutant nodded, a bit shaken.
"Good. Then I'll expect a report of the city's primary defenses within the hour." The adjutant took command of the control panel, and Daniel walked out of the command center, into the evening traffic, the deepening night, and hailed a taxi...
"Good evening, mister. I want to go to wherever Janus is."
"You mean you don't know where Red Wolves HQ is??" The driver was surprised at his lack of knowledge.
He was whisked away to the headquarters of the criminal organization... It turned out to be a tall silver-tower, possibly forty stories high, with beautiful Neosteel beams running up and down at precise intervals, and mirror-like glass panels in between. Imposing, in a word. In front, in large solid 3-d letters, were the words "Red Wolves".
Inside, he was greeted by a well-kept red-carpet path, golden stairways, glassy chandeliers, marble tiles, bleached walls, various amenities, and a secretary dressed in red uniform. "May I help you?" she asked, looking up from her large desk that said "information" on it. Daniel took a moment to answer, so startled was he by all the decoration of the majestic atrium. This place looks more like a five-star hotel than the sanctum of a criminal organization, he thought. Though I think I see a few security cameras and there are probably some hidden weaponry scattered about.
"Yes, um, show me the way to Janus, and tell him the new magistrate's arrived to talk about his deal." He suddenly felt happy that he had just changed into the backup uniform of the Antiga Prime magistrate.
The secretary looked surprised, but quickly replied, "if that is so, then he surely gave you a password?"
Daniel had noticed that look of surprise. Well, now that she's mentioned it, if there is a password it must certainly be floating around somewhere at the outskirts of her consciousness. If I can penetrate... <<Show me the password...>> Daniel's mind drifted into the mind of the unsuspecting secretary. "Hm, the password is... Regal Shower!" Wow, that's-- thought Daniel. Awe-struck.
"All right, follow me please," said the secretary, nodding in agreement at the answer, and proceeded to the near room on the ground level, behind thick doors. It seemed to be a conference room, except for that the secretary quickly appeared with a blindfold and put it over Daniel's eyes, then spun him around several times.
Daniel groped around where the secretary indicated, and found the edge of a trap door. Of course, for a criminal organization, the leader probably doesn't reside on the top floor, Daniel noted to himself. Obviously.
Only after they had gone quite some distance into the ground, did the secretary remove the blindfold. Daniel was instantly greeted with an overpowering brightness. The first part of the secret chamber was just as decorated as the atrium, though comprised of several rooms and many of guards, both marines and reapers at the ready to protect their crime lord. Daniel marched past them, with the secretary leading the way, through a dark labyrinth. "Don't go off into any of the other paths," the secretary warned, and Daniel decided not to push it.
They finally arrived at the ventricle, and the guards slowly pushed apart the immense carbon doors covering the entrance, revealing a scintillating room filled with various trinkets and crystals.
In the center, surrounded by fifty guards and probably more in hiding, was the crime-lord known only as Janus, sitting upon his golden throne with two beautiful damsels gently fanning him, one on each side and dressed in flowery negligees. Janus himself was looking at what must be a computer monitor inlaid into his desk, and a highly decorated, golden suit suited him very nicely indeed.
That must be THE life for you, Daniel thought.
"My lord, this is the new magistrate, come to see you about--" said the secretary, but Janus motioned with his hand, and she withdrew back into the darkness of the labyrinth, as the guards behind then closed the huge doors.
Janus spoke first. "So, you've come at last, colonel of the Sons of Korhal! I've been waiting for the revolution to begin. You'll notice that the message you saw back at the command center was directed to you, and not the previous magistrate. Well?"
"Well, it seems like your organization seems more than powerful enough to make our success a lot smoother, nay, to guarantee it," Daniel replied. "So about the deal?"
"Ah, I like the likes of you, always rushing to get things done. You'll notice that it'll do you much good in the coming wars." This made Daniel raise a brow. Wars?
"...As if you didn't know, that is. I'm willing to sabotage the Alpha Fleet squadrons situated around your city--don't ask me how, it shall be done if I give the command. Things like mysterious disappearances of commanding officers, entropy in the armor conditions, weapons with the wrong type of ammo loaded, food suffering from botulism, you name it." Janus beamed at him. "The previous magistrate was very wary of us, and didn't interfere on our operations. We're a major force in Antiga Prime now."
"And what shall be the price?" asked Daniel.
"Well, you see, it's not exactly a safe operation we're about to carry out, and I'm sure that we all realize many will be caught and executed. The price of victory is very high, you must understand," Janus begun again, trying to make the blow lighter. "But it is also worth it, as it will save many more lives of your military. Now, those who are about to risk their lives want to know that their reward is great. What can you offer them?"
Daniel thought fast. What do they miss the most, being a criminal organization? What do they want the most, as people? And he hit upon an answer.
"I shall offer the Red Wolves free access to most places around the city, to facilitate your covert operations. I shall offer free medical care and pay restaurant expenses for all Red Wolves. I shall offer you two hundred marines and a frigate." Daniel winked. "I shall make a new title, 'Chairman emeritus', for you exclusively."
Daniel knew that the first part was what the others wanted, and the last part was very enticing for the crime lord.
Janus looked at him, and replied, "well, I don't know if they'll actually agree to such a bare-bones offer, magistrate. I don't know if they'll perform to their utmost, but I shall certainly order them to try to do their best, with what you're offering--" He was asking for more.
Daniel could see the thoughts written right on the surface of his mind. "Yeah right, Janus, you know that's the juiciest deal you've ever gotten in the last several years, and you'll eagerly have your men and women perform their best with even half of that. Don't make me walk away from the deal."
Janus stopped mid-sentence, looking at him with awe. No one had ever been so close to what he had been thinking, and definitely no one had ever refused more should he ask for it. "Well then, like I said, performance correlates to your offer. You give a handsome offer, and we'll do nicely. Deal." He stretched his hands forward. Daniel raised his as well, and they shook hands forcefully, looking at each other's eye as if they were business-executives.
Because they were two leaders with business on their hands.
And with that, Daniel departed, traversing the labyrinth with the help of the secretary back to the surface with eyes blindfolded once again. At the surface, he relinquished the blindfold, and took his final look at the inside of this grand tower.
Before long he had arrived back at the command center, though now there were even more marines defending the place, as well as multiple other officers. The adjutant, open seeing Daniel walk inside, began, "as you requested, I have compiled reports from the various agency outlets across the town. We currently have, within Antiga Prime, around six hundred marines, hundred vultures, twenty Longbolt turrets, ten Goliaths, six Wraiths, and five Mjolnirs, with more being produced of each. We currently have control over three Telsats."
Daniel had never heard of several of those terms. "Okay, I'm going to need to know about those last four..."
"Absolutely, colonel, we have summaries of the functions and standard equipment for all the standard military productions." As she said this, the adjutant handed over to him a data disc.
Daniel looked at the others in the command center, most of them busy at work with defensive preparations. He knew that time was running low, that sooner or later an outraged General Duke would order the Confederate armed forces currently situated around the city to invade...
But he would have a surprise for him, just as he had held surprises for the Zerg back at Mar Sara.
Daniel sat down on a sofa beside the central thick-glass table, and turned back to the adjutant. "We've thought enough about the Confederacy. What about the Zerg? Are they pursuing us?"
Christopher replied. "Unfortunately, we've lost contact with all three telsats at Mar Sara, and so we don't know about the progress of the Zerg--"
"What??" Daniel nearly shouted, and thrust himself up from the sofa, standing and glowering at the others. "Isn't it too much of a coincidence that all three telsats malfunction within the space of three weeks?"
Silence in the room.
Finally, Christopher said, "Let me tell all you something. Though we haven't gotten any evidence yet, I believe I know where the Zerg come from, and it isn't from popping out of the ground. They are being sent there by something similar to the Gravitic Hyperdrives that our dropships use. They are invading us on the sector scale, and they're probably headed this way."
That was everyone's worst nightmare: one they could not run away from.
He was the only person speaking now, his words reverberating through the room. The other stunned commanders had nearly forgotten about that, thinking of how nearly all the Zerg were grounded.
"Who knows what their behemoths are good for besides minesweeping and controlling their minions? Who knows what powers the Zerg may have? Do they have even more powerful flyers? Rockets? If they managed to get to Mar Sara, then they could also get to here. And they did manage to find all three telsats, did they not? And bring them down too, is what I'm thinking. They could very well have crafts for an interplanetary conflict."
The other officers' faces were blank, the stark reality of what was possible finally beginning to settle into their minds. They knew, not too far inside, that Daniel could very well turn out to be right.
"Jan- someone I met earlier mentioned the possibility of 'wars'. And I don't think that it's too unlikely."
Daniel decided that he had been too stressed out with the day's work, and went into a side compartment of the command center to sleep on a plush bed. Ahh, the comforts of life... Too bad there's still the troubles lingering in the air...