First Battle of AntigaEdit
By the time they returned to his command center, the adjutant had already prepared a report. "Four of the five other cities on Antiga have successfully rebelled against the Confederate strong-arm. The Confederates, for their part, are in full retreat except in one city, where they have achieved the upper hand over and quelled a rebellion led by the Sons of Korhal. A video was prepared for you while you were away."
Daniel nodded, then sat down on his black-leather sofa, watching the video, from the point of view of one of the wraith pilots. There were three of them, all friendlies, heading into the voids of space... seemingly toward a Telsat--a Confederate one still controlled by Gui Montag, he realized. It had a very skeletal appearance, with a massive dish and spindly extensions, as well as a few booster fuel tanks. The Wraiths homed in on the target, firing several burst lasers, most striking rather harmlessly at the dish or the Neosteel extensions, but several impacting on the fuel tanks in the middle of the starcraft. They exploded in rapid succession, blasting pieces of the disk away from the shattered remains of the rest of the craft.
Daniel nodded as the video came to an end. Antiga, colonized around two decades prior to Mar Sara, had a total population of two hundred fifty thousand--of course the planet would have a few Televistas. Not bad... Not bad at all... And with that, he said good night to the other commanders in the room and went to bed.
There was that eye again, only this time even more clearly, gazing at him with a deeper, intricate meaning...
<Greetings again, Daniel.>
<Ah, yes, the Overmind! Controller of all Zerg! What do you want?>
Daniel would have laughed if he was awake. Was this creature serious?? < If you want peace, do not also be the first to forget that you were the one who invaded us. You launched the preemptive strike.>
<No, we did not. What you believe to be the truth is flawed, Daniel Travincal. We were not the first to kill.>
<Ha! What do you mean, 'you were not the first to kill'? You killed the girl back at the village where I first engaged the Zerg!>
<No, your memory fails you. Do you not recall, that it was Michael who killed her? Does his constant trauma not give you everyday reminder to that fact?>
Daniel realized that this was true. His mind wandered back to his old comrade, who was now in a psychological clinic. <He shot to kill the zergling, who would have otherwise killed the girl.>
<We had come to the planet to seek sentience and relief from our constant warring with the Firstborn. The minion you speak of had been providing me with indirect amusement, pursuing the girl in a friendly game of Chase. Do you not know of that game?>
<Yet the zergling had poisonous claws, did it not?>
< It is with great sadness that we must acknowledge that all our minions are armed, militarily. Does that mean that every contact we have with your civilians is an attempt at massacre?>
Daniel was totally obfuscated in disbelief, but the Overmind did seem to have a rather good argument going...
<Daniel Travincal. You shed First Blood.>
<What, me? I did not kill the first zergling, Sarlena did!>
<So you still do not realize the philotic power you wielded back then. For Sarlena's mind was merely on the brink of firing, and you were the one to pull the trigger. You did it, through her.>
What the hell? <Okay, so even if I had done it, then what? Why did you go on to destroy the entire planet? Is your retribution so immense?>
<Once you made your first six kills, we decided to balance out the injustice, and meted out some punishment. But from that point on, we continuously suffered more casualties than you Terrans, and so our desire for justice only became stronger. Hence, each wave of minions entering Mar Saran space became stronger and stronger. Due to your swift evacuation of Los Andares, Daniel Travincal, we still have failed.>
<Why are you telling me this?>
<We have now shown you our side of the situation. We shall no longer desire any harm for your Terrans, if you cease fire against us.>
< I shall desire it to be so, but I do not have such complete control over my forces. If they should open fire against you,... please do not hold me responsible.>
<We cannot accept that clause. You shall not harm us, or else you shall face the consequences. Be warned: We shall be judging you, and are likely to find you wanting.>
<You cannot do this!>
<You cannot stop us. Your frantic exodus from Mar Sara has shown us where you are now. Even now, We are preparing to open up a wormhole in high orbit over Antiga to test your character. Farewell, Daniel Travincal, and may we meet again in peace, rather than war.>
The conversation suddenly ended, and Daniel returned to his sleep...
...And at long last awakened to a new day, with the conversation with the Overmind still clear in his memory.
"Adjutant!" The blonde-haired woman swiftly swiveled around in her chair, her golden hair flowing in the air for a moment. "I want all of our military prepared and simultaneously given an order not to fire against any aliens."
"But sir," the adjutant responded. Christopher, who was up early and went to sleep late every day with all his engineering work, looked at him as if he were crazy.
Daniel raised a hand signifying don't question me, then proceeded to give what he considered good enough of an explanation. "The Zerg are coming, and this time in peace--maybe." Or maybe it's a trap, Daniel realized just as well. Nevertheless, we are already under attack by the Confederates, and we can't stand to be assaulted by two foes...
The adjutant stared at him with a dazed look, not knowing whether Daniel could be trusted at this point. Daniel returned a stare, then challenged, "you shall do as I tell you to, adjutant, or else!" The marines guarding the entrance heard his shout, realized that he was angry at the adjutant, and swiftly stomped in, Gauss weapons at the ready.
The unprotected and unarmed adjutant gave just one glance at the threatening marines, gulped, and turned back to the control panel, beginning to issue Daniel's orders unquestioningly. "Now. That's more like it," Daniel spoke, still with a bit of anger in his voice.
Christopher walked over to him with solemnity on his face, and tapped him on the back. "Tell me, what is it that you know of, that we don't?"
"I've been having nightmares, Chris," Daniel said. He wouldn't have told anyone else about his connection to the Overmind, but Christopher had been his best friend ever since he set foot on Mar Sara for his duty three years ago. They trusted each other, had been through so much happiness and sadness together... They were like brothers.
"What happened in your dream?"
"A giant being calling itself the Overmind issued me an ultimatum saying that the Zerg will continue to attack unless we stop attacking them first." Christopher's mouth was agape. "I know, sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?" Daniel looked down.
Then he turned to his own computer, and began to accept or reject various proposals for ordinances, zoning laws, military production, etc...
Two hours later, a worried adjutant burst out, "Colonel, our Telsats are picking up signs of the Zerg. It seems that they are emerging from out of warp-space using technology foreign to us. Their wormhole vortex is clearly detectable through visible light."
"Zerg? Here?" asked lieutenant colonel Jim Raynor, eyes wide open with surprise. "Serves 'em right. It's about time those Confederates had a taste of their own--"
"Enough, Raynor. Right now's not the time to be getting angry at the Confederates. Against the Zerg, any human is a potential friend." Then Raynor looked at him closely. "You know something I don't," he concluded, although Daniel just gave him a blank stare. Then Daniel turned to the adjutant. "Let me see them."
Daniel's computer instantly lit up as the image appeared, with a complex array of different detection tools. The warp vortex had the appearance of a massive whirlpool in the midst of space, and hundreds of Zerg FLIERS were emerging from out of its center, proceeding toward the planetary surface in huge numbers. He could see the overlords dwarfing the countless winged dragon-like demons dropping swiftly like stones toward the atmosphere...
"Oh shit," said one of the lieutenants, looking at the display. "We don't have enough to fight against all that!"
"We do not. Have our dropships fully loaded with the civilians of all the cities whose leaders are willing, and evacuate them to the nearest other human worlds, then have them come back to pick up more--"
"You don't understand, colonel! They'll have turned this place to dust by the time any dropships can make it back!"
"Not if I can help it," said Daniel, looking angrily at the sudden mass appearance of the aliens, and with seemingly leaps and bounds in technological advancements over humanity--
"Colonel, we have messaged the leaders of the other cities and told them to hold their fire and proceed with evacuations. They seem to be listening to what we have to say, at least for now."
Then, suddenly, a wave of the fliers broke away from the main assault force heading to the atmosphere, propelled through gravitic drives of their own. "Darn, those Zerg fliers seem to have gravitic drives too, just like our Wraiths!" muttered Christopher, standing only a few feet away and watching the minimap on the main monitor.
"As long as we don't attack them, they shouldn't attack us," Daniel remembered, leaving the others agape at what he was saying.
"You have some secret source of information?" Sarlena asked.
"Yes, and since it's secret, I shan't be telling you about it, am I?"
"It isn't from the Red Wolves now, is it?"
Daniel merely smiled at that. "At that rate, you'll never guess..."
The adjutant interrupted their conversation. "Intercepting unencrypted message from a Confederate battlecruiser, Norad Two, in high orbit over Antiga."
The others hushed to listen to the message. The portrait of a balding General Duke appeared. He spoke in a gruff and barely commanding voice, "Zerg inbound! These critters have entered Confederate space and are to be utterly destroyed, y'hear? Fire at will, fire at will!"
Darn it, that bastard General Duke is going to mess up my strategy, Daniel thought to himself. He's just damned all the civilians and military on this planet.
"Signals indicate that the battlecruiser has single-handedly engaged the Zerg mass."
The commanders turned to watch as the largest monitor in the chamber displayed a visual of the battlecruiser, shooting its turbolasers and assorted torpedo weaponry out in massive beams into the center of the approaching Zerg, incinerating them with each hit, lashing out furiously, shredding them to pieces... And as Daniel knew, immensely angering the Overmind.
Then the overwhelming numbers of fliers fired what appeared to be glaives, projecting themselves toward the massive ship and detonating in a flurry of superheated acid and explosive destruction. Several dozen smaller organic crafts reminiscent of bees slammed into the ship, creating a massive distortional shockwave, turning it into a lone, momentarily bright holocaust amidst the endless blackened voids of space. Half of the ship vanished--leaving no debris, not even vapor behind. The charred remains of the massive battlecruiser fell out of orbit, slowly dropping toward the surface...
Meanwhile, the fliers were striking into the atmosphere nearly everywhere in the world, rushing through the skies, though not aiming for any targets; they simply cruised through the molecule-dense atmosphere, flapping their wings at a rate too fast for the ordinary eye to see.
"What kind of flight pattern is that?" asked Daniel, astonished at the maelstrom of wings.
"It's a figure-eight flight formation," replied Christopher dutifully, realizing something with astonishment. "It's the same as that which many insects from old Earth use to propel themselves through the air."
Daniel watched as the fliers sped this way and that, looking over the great landscape that he knew they could so easily destroy. As long as the soldiers obey my order, they should do fine, he thought to himself, though he didn't exactly trust the Overmind either. "What's the advantage of having this figure-eight flight formation?" he asked, as the blips on the radar/ladar screen showed their approach toward the Confederate-controlled city.
Daniel had to consult Wikipedia for this one. Only when the fliers were about to enter the city's municipal zone, and after the city's defensive Wraiths had entered the sky, did he finally find the result, buried after countless articles about various insects. "This allows these flying dracolisks rapid flexibility of movement and speed, far greater than any bird's wings would allow." Daniel nearly sank at that. Wraiths, like most types of airplanes, traced their ancestry back to the birds--and their wings...
"All right. Have the telsat over Antiga Epsilon beam down the order of battle. We're gonna sit back and watch a movie," said Daniel. He wasn't about to go to the help of the Confederates...
And in the meantime, terror-filled soldiers throughout the five Sons of Korhal dutifully held their fire, finally understanding why they had been given the order--as over each of the cities, hundreds of Zerg flyers swarmed, looking around, investigating... but not touching, nor destroying, while the swarm had countless more to spare to cover the countrysides. It had been the first time any of them knew of the aliens as 'Ramen' beings...
So it is true, thought Christopher, watching the dracolisks overhead.
Those inside the command center of Antiga Prime watched as the swarm took over the skies of Antiga Epsilon, the winged dragon-like beasts outnumbering the defending triple-winged and cloaked wraiths by fifty to one, with the behemoths bringing up the rear. The handful of Goliaths below prepared to launch their missiles, while the wraiths charged their lasers... then the lead one fired a missile.
The Apollo missile, rapidly propelled through the skies trailing the products of a very rapid combustion reaction, streaked away from the Wraith, impacting one of the fliers, vaporizing much of its body; the remains dropped away.
So the Wraiths decided to take on the dracolisks after all... only this time, the presence of the overlords probably means that the Zerg can detect the wraiths... Just then, all the wraiths cloaked--vanished, with the aid of Confederate technology.
Suddenly, the dracolisks broke into hurried evasive maneuvers, striking back and forth, sometimes halting altogether, changing direction within a single second and proceeding backward the next; the swarm of ten-feet-wingspan creatures circled around erratically throughout the skies above Epsilon, dodging missile fire and gunshots alike, sending their glaive wurms streaking down to the surface, sending brilliant blossoms erupting upward. For each glaive that hit the surface, there were three detonations, as it bounced around, hunting for sources of heat.
The civilians who had been milling about suddenly burst into absolute fear and overran each other in their mad dash for safety.
As the commanders at Prime watched from the distant safety of their command center, the Goliath walkers guarding Epsilon fired only a few missiles before being destroyed by dozens of impacting glaives; detonations scattered the already charred city's buildings, while a handful of dracolisks, spasming in their dying throes, fell out of the sky from burst laser fire.
The intermingling squadrons of acid-spewing dracolisks seemed to chase the very wind as their wings nearly buzzed at rapid velocities with the aid of sub-gravitic drives, bringing them around and about with ease, making the missiles miss them constantly. Glaives were let loose freely, showering across the battered city and very quickly eradicating all five wraiths defending the city, nearly immediately handing air supremacy to the dracolisks. It was as Daniel thought: they could detect even the perfect cloaking technology of the Confederacy.
And as they watched, everyone in the command center remained stern; they would seem, to an outsider, to care nothing for the fated defenders of other cities.
As Goliaths tumbled from the focused glaive wurm fire, marines screamed as the rain of acid poured down from the firmament and corroded away through their suits, were buried under tons of collapsed buildings, the dracolisks dominated the skies, firing at will and decimating the doomed military and civilians below in the collapsed city.
Then, the overlords had gotten into their positions, and had drooped toward the ground, extending their long tendrils to the ground. Daniel watched with horror and amazement as various sacs opened from the underneath of the behemoths. Multitudes of zerglings and hydralisks, brought across many light years, clambered out of each, rushing across the burning cityscape, wrestling control of the plazas and avenues away from the control of the marines, then taking to the streets and alleyways... Even the detonations of several scattered bunker busters fired into the city itself could only take down so many Zerg, and more were constantly arriving on the scene... The gigantic ultralisks had joined battle as well, two dozen of them, within seconds demolishing everything close to them before proceeding on the human defenses. With a single scrape of their incredibly powerful blades, they ripped bunker ceilings apart and crumbled them like aluminum foil, leaving infantry unprotected from the hydralisks.
It was only about two minutes into the battle, and major portions of the city had been razed, many defenses overrun. Christopher turned away from the screen. He didn't need to watch any more of it to know how utterly doomed Antiga Epsilon was to be turned into a ghost city...
"Let that be a lesson to all of you who would think that the Zerg are weak, incapable critters," Christopher shouted into the chamber, letting the echoes of his imperative resonate throughout the carbon walls.