Birth of a HeroEdit
It was fully a week and a half later. Colonel Travincal and the others had successfully arranged a truce with Colonel Gui Montag, leader of the Confederate military in siege of the planet's greatest city of Antiga Prime, to cease fire for eight days already. But everyone was busy for the battle that would of course come to pass... And soon.
For the cease-fire had been arranged for only twelve days.
But for now, Daniel had finished his work--had solidified his control over the city, had viewed the contents of the adjutant's data discs, and had visited the barracks and factories of the city, had even asked Kerrigan quite a few questions about what it meant to be a telepath, even used it on the woman to find out her first name...
Then one dusk, Sarah Kerrigan decided to leave. "Bye, Daniel," was all she said, from inside the command center when his back was turned.
He whirled around, expecting to see Kerrigan leave. But she had vanished. In her place, there seemed to be a flickering of the light, much like what an area of hot air does to the appearance of the place behind it...
He immediately groped around, grabbing at the thin air, half-hoping to find her visible, much like the Wraiths were purported to be able to.
But no such luck was with him on that day. She had gone.
"Then farewell, Kerrigan," Daniel muttered to himself.
"Adjutant online. It seems that your previous friend and former platoon leader, James Raynor, has been mugged and sent to Trinity Hospital."
James? How could it be? Daniel focused his attention on the blonde-haired Antiga Prime adjutant. "All right, I'm going; anyone who calls, have them leave a message." He strode out of the command center, hailed a taxi, then...
He was rushing into the hospital ward, followed by a disheveled nurse in white coat frantically shouting "you're not allowed here, mister!" Evidently She didn't know who he was... Then he burst into James's room, and saw the form of the man, all beaten up with several bones out of place and/or fractured, on the bed with several sets of tricorders beaming their softly healing rays at his body.
James! Would it come to pass that you had fallen this far! Oh, it is all my fault; I was the one to demote you in front of everyone; I was the one who practically gave the okay for the enemy; I was the one indirectly responsible for your injuries... I am sorry...
James turned around at the commotion and looked up at a contemplative Daniel. "Hello," he managed to whisper. It's you..., Daniel could imagine him to be thinking.
"Look," Daniel said, trying to explain himself. "That day when we were fighting the Zerg invasion--you performed excellently. Nothing more could be expected of you. I am sorry."
"No, no, colonel sir. It was I who had failed you-"
"Nonsense! That was merely my overreaction. I shan't tell you too much about it, but I seem to have a strong empathic connection with people. So I just couldn't bear it to see so many of them die, many of them thinking of how you had been a traitor to them... But now I come to see it from your point of view."
James smiled, weakly. "It has been a long time since I've met such an understanding superior."
Daniel returned the smile, much more forcefully. You had indeed done well, and are deserving. "And it's not every day that I meet a capable commander, Captain."
James suddenly held his mouth agape, astonished at his sudden turn of fortune. "I'll--I'll recover very quickly, and come back to HQ to serve you faithfully, sir," he barely managed, so overjoyed he was that even the suffering he was undergoing seemed to melt away into his subconsciousness...
Daniel nodded. Right then, I shall be waiting for you soon enough... By then the nurse had called over a few marines to "escort" out the "intruder"--until the marines saw Daniel's face and instantly recognized him as the colonel.
Daniel turned to them. "Watch over our new captain for me, and you too shall be rewarded..."
Then he swiftly returned to the command center, speaking into his intercom device for the local bureaucrat(s) to see to it that James obtained the bars of the captain...
Daniel then fell into sleep for the night. It was six hours later when it began, but to him it felt as if no time had passed at all, that he was immediately swathed in the potent dream-force he had last encountered.
The gigantic eye.
Peering down upon him, emanating words, no, thoughts, swirling images of the events that had happened before... And it spoke to him, most clearly:
<Awaken, Daniel Travincal, and communicate with me.> A single, forceful thought, with the detectable vibes of millennia of existence, of a heaviness of experiences and knowledge, an otherworldly reality...
<Who are you?> Daniel replied, tapping into his newly discovered psionic potential. <What do you want?> In the background, countless truths whirled around, waiting, teasing, as Daniel's soul strove to catch them...
< I am the Overmind.>
Then, the signal was no more, and Daniel continued his sleep. Only this time, the thoughts persisted in his mind, past his awakening from bed several hours hence...
Daniel knew immediately what it meant the moment his consciousness came into its own. Then I must have been communicating with-- The dream entity which called itself the Overmind-- could it be? Could it be that I have had personal contact with the beast of beasts which is the hive mind for all the Zerg? If so, then it must be a most indomitable force, the Zerg...
Now wide awake after an otherwise undisturbed sleep, Daniel nevertheless felt as if something had constantly drained him of his vitality; he felt continuously tired. I just need some relaxation, he thought. The last few weeks have been such a stress...
He wondered if the last few days had been free of troubling dreams because of Kerrigan's presence.
I'll learn about that later, he said to himself. Now, I'm going to need plenty of rest and recuperation.
That morning, James called up Christopher, who had been off to one of the barracks to rally the troops.
"Hey! What's up, James?"
"Hey Chris, want to go to the beach?"
Chris looked at the marshal. "You don't seem in good shape, Jim," he said.
"That's why I need to take a break. Come along, will ya?"
"Absolutely. I want to get away from this place," Raynor blurted out. Christopher looked at him askew, but did not ask any more questions, merely directing him to the speedbike, which had a passenger seat as well.
Thus, they set off for the distance, to the outskirts of the bustling city, where it was suddenly much quieter, mostly dedicated to farmlands fully run by tractors. "Pull down the windows," Christopher demanded, and as they came down, he was hit by the full force of the wind as they sped through, an arrow in the great wide pastoral landscape. "Aaaaaaaah!" Christopher nearly whispered, feeling the powerful relative gale, as the speed-bike continued along the busy highway toward the coast.
Soon, the rural landscapes disappeared, to be replaced with trees, grasses, and hills. "Antiga is much like our home planet, if you still recall Earth from our elementary school teachings," Raynor explained, while Daniel simply felt the breeze, smelled the pure air, watched as the fifty-foot trees whisked by, as the grasses rushed by them.
Such a beautiful landscape--bliss, thought Christopher from under the blue, cloudless sky and radiant sun spreading its tendrils of brightness over the landscape. The verdant sward was a pleasure to experience. If I ever become someone important, I'll call this the "best place on Antiga", Christopher thought, moments before Raynor abruptly stated, "I'm glad you're liking this place, because it would otherwise be quite unfortunate--it's the same across vast regions of Antiga."--which made Christopher droop his head immediately. "Was it something I said?" asked a perplexed Raynor, surprised that his statement would have made him disappointed.
"Nah, don't worry about it at all," Christopher said, resuming his cheerful expressions. Crusing along, they finally came into view of the coastline, lined with innumerable palm trees transplanted from another planet they had long forgotten. The undulating water swathed across the wet beach...
Raynor gently parked the Vulture in the grass right at the edge of the sands. Tiny little dunes of white, unsullied sands stretched outward from here through the twenty feet or so to the gentle waters, --and this was the same along both ways of the beach--, combining with the pristine blue-green waters for a panorama beautiful to the sight.
The sparks where the refracted beams of light conjoined within the water flashed and danced around, galore in their unworried tranquility; the palms and fern fronds swayed gently back and forth. This is the life to live, Christopher thought. A world of natural peace... Relaxing on the soft sands, he closed his eyes, basking in the noon sun, followed swiftly by Raynor.
Then, thinking of the Zerg-- This gift of nature, and many others, is what we strive to save for ourselves, and for posterity...
"James, I've been wondering, what do you know about telepathy?"
The commander was startled at the question. "All I know is that certain ghosts have it," he replied.
Christopher opened his eyes to get a better look at the man. "What does this have to do with superstitions?"
"No, ghosts, as in elite--"
"Yeah, I know," Christopher remembered. "Then does that make Kerrigan a ghost?" Christopher recalled what Sarlena had been telling him, about Daniel and Sarah being weird.
"Yeah, I think it does," Raynor replied a few seconds late, feigning a smile. He was obviously not happy with the fact that--
I've scouted out the area and -- You Pig! It was the voice of Kerrigan, being played out in Raynor's memory, for him... Or was it?
"My, you DO have a crush on her, eh, Jimmy? What's it for, her red-headed-ness?" Christopher winked, and Raynor also gave a short laugh.
"I should also be telling you this, before you also start getting 'it', that ghosts can be at times very seductive. Particularly because she has telepathy," Raynor added in. Yeah, you're giving me this 'warning' so I don't go after her, eh? Well then, I won't, thought Christopher. I'm interested another person, if you hadn't noticed.
"What else can ghosts do?"
"Well, aside from that and being particularly receptive with emotions, not much," he replied.
"What about disappearing from sight?"
"So, that happened to you too. Yeah, standard Confederate equipment for ghosts includes personnel cloaking devices, called PCD's. Though they're not perfect; if you know their general vicinity, maybe you'll notice a wavering in the light coming through them when they're moving."
Christopher nodded in acknowledgement. "Yeah, she did just that yesterday evening--probably off to do some errand, I think--and for ghosts, that would probably be assassination." Raynor nodded in agreement.
"Well, as long as the assassination gets somewhere toward killing the Zerg," Christopher offered. Raynor consented, once again by nodding...
Then, he started sniffing, and quickly covered his eyes with his hands. Christopher looked at him with astonishment. "What's the matter, Jim?" The man in his forties was heaving his lungs with effort, and Christopher strove to peel his hands away, exposing what seemed like water sprayed around his eyes, the first of several tears streaking down his cheeks, and more brimming.
Christopher retrieved a handkerchief from his uniform, and Raynor wiped away the tears, even as he continued wailing lightly and sniffing. "Why, what's the matter? Is it something I said?" Christopher asked, starting to fill with empathy...
"My grandfather was killed by the Zerg at Los Andares!" He burst out, and another flurry of tears dripped downward to his chin.
"You sure?" asked Daniel, not wanting Raynor to jump to dismal conclusions.
"I've Proof! Ten years... of hard labor! Ten years!, I've strived, to store up... the money I'd need... to buy a... seaside mansion here... on Antiga, Ten Years! -All for him, my dear grandfather! So that he'd live to see the day when he could experience the high-class life his personalities and hardships entitle him to!" -more tears. "...And for what?... Nothing! I certainly am not going to buy that mansion Now!" He burst out in tears, his psychological torment... The two stayed silent for a while, until Raynor began to calm.
Raynor continued. "It pains me greatly, even more so, now that I think of it, that after So Many Years! of striving for that noble goal, he should perish, never having tasted of that blessed life! All I wanted was one more year, and I'd have had enough money! ...But those Zerg, they took... took him from me!" He was inconsolable now, and Christopher gave up trying...
Then he looked at Christopher with fiery fury in his eyes. "I'll have my revenge, I'll be able to say when I go to heaven, that, by God, I did something against those beasts! I'll kill those bastards, where-ever that quest may take me, where-ever fate that may lead me to!" He clawed into the sand, brought up a pile in his clenched hand, and threw it away into the wind like a miniature sandstorm.
It gradually dissipated in the immense open world...
Christopher had backed away a bit at that point. "Okay, Raynor, I th-think you need to go s-somewhere else to have a rest."
So the two left the beach, this time with Christopher driving, all the way back to Headquarters. Along the way, when Christopher saw that Raynor had halfway calmed down, he said, "I hope you realize this soon, and the earlier you do, the better off you will be. No matter what you do now, you can't bring them back. What's past is past, Raynor. Remember that." Raynor, still very upset, merely nodded, letting his unmanly tears evaporate off his cheeks.
"Good, you've come just in time!" announced a clearly relieved Daniel when they got back to the command center, leaving Christopher in obvious confusion. By now Raynor had recovered, so the others didn't notice anything.
"What?" Christopher practically shouted. Had I been gone for long?
"One of our telsats had been mysteriously shot down. We followed your advice, and scanned deep space for any signs of Zerg, and all tests turned out negative. We assume this leaves only the possibility of a preemptive strike by our former friend Gui Montag. Unless, you know of anything strange happened to the equipment?"
Christopher was definitely taken by surprise by this one, and replied, "er... no, why?"
"Well, what are we waiting for? Prepare for a response! Entire military!" Daniel turned around and shouted at the adjutant. "And don't give me any more of your stupid ideas about technical breakdowns," he said.
"Colonel, our military is already deployed. Waiting for tactical missions..." replied one of the lieutenants.
"Did any of you manage to find shipments of neurostimulants?" Christopher made it seem like a question from out of the blue.
"Pardon me, sir?" asked a Sons of Korhal lieutenant.
"Hm, I guess not. Well then, I never just asked the previous question. Do we have enemy reconnaissance?"
"Yes, sir. Five thousand marines, fifty of which are armed with laser staves, ten Goliaths, twelve Mjolnir siege tanks, and five Wraith starfighters inbound."
The Confederate force was slightly under twice the size of his own forces. He had the advantage of being on the defensive, on home territory, with land mines already placed in strategic locations. He knew that he had a very large chance of winning this engagement as well--just as he had a very great chance of winning the previous encounters he had been involved in. It was only a matter of how many casualties he'd suffer.
Daniel had a question about that one. He knew that his own wraiths would become formidable forces in the battle as long as they kept away from the ten Goliaths, which would be easy. The hard part was to eradicate all the marines with the laser staves to free up some breathing space for the wraiths. "So--only fifty of them? Where are they? I want every one of them taken out by our own siege tanks."
"Targets assigned," replied the adjutant, using the control panel to physically select targets for each of the Mjolnirs. "Enemy laser-marine forces are divided into six groups. Our Mjolnirs will be able to near-simultaneously take care of the first five, but will take significant amounts of time to reload."
"Also, officers, I want all of our wraith squadron prepped, to be flying out as soon as the reapers are overcome."
"Sir yes sir." The lieutenants in the main chamber agreed readily.
"All right then, end of briefing." And with that, Daniel went to a side room and closed the door, which meant that he did not want to be disturbed, then focused on the thoughts of the people outside, striving to pick up any philotic emanations, while Christopher returned to overseeing field engineering operations...
<<The image of a telsat's report appeared... >> And Daniel proceeded to get feedback from several of the commanders, listening through their ears...
Obviously the battle had just begun...