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Second Battle of AntigaEdit

Daniel practically fainted at the overwhelming response to the psi emitter.

He had expected the Zerg burrowed inside the planet to rise up and strike at the Confederate city where he had activated the emitter. He had expected that the Zerg would rush at the municipality from the wide stretches of countryside and wilderness. He never expected the overwhelming response that the Zerg gave, and the direction from which they had come. Within moments, swirling wormholes the size of cities opened up, spewing out space dust but far more importantly, the Zerg swarm. The skies of the planet Antiga blackened as the invaders eclipsed and eclipsed the sun, as millions of Zerg of various shapes and sizes descended upon the overawed and hopelessly outnumbered defenders on the planet. They have the ability to reach here from the planets they came from within minutes, realized Daniel. Not only were the humans outnumbered, but they had inferior technology. With the warp travel technology that the Zerg have, they could probably strike every one of the Confederate worlds within an hour of knowing where they were. That was probably the only thing keeping the Zerg from overrunning the sector already. And we, believing that they could be staved off with a bit of military force, fell into their trap, fleeing from planet to planet, our very own dropships showing them the way to our other planets...

He needed an ansible. He needed to tell everyone about his discovery, fast. But there wasn't an ansible on board, and all of the Sons of Korhal had already evacuated, which meant that he would have to wait until his dropship caught up with the Sons of Korhal at Tarsonis before he could warn them. And that, of course, could be way too late.

Although many aimed straight for the planet below, those nearest to his dropship quickly took notice and decided to converge on their lone target.

Dam*, thought Daniel instinctively. There's no way we're going to survive this, unless... I can find a way to use the psi emitter to repel them!

Daniel tried to concentrate, as the Red Wolves on board gawked at the seeming hell that the psi emitter's short period of activation had summoned planet-wide.

Daniel recalled the vibes of when the psi emitter had been activated, and strove to recreate a vibe, but with the opposite pattern...

The Zerg were inbound on the Delta Fleet forces, and were about to go straight past the unarmed frigate. Daniel tried to focus a bit more, trying to recreate an accurate counter-pattern. As soon as he decided that he had recorded a correct version of the signal into the psi emitter, he activated its broadcasting mechanism--

Just as the first wave of the massive Zerg swarm of flyers came by them.

The overwhelming repelling force generated by the psi emitter drove away the nearest of the Zerg, creating a sphere through which no Zerg flyer seemed to be able to go through, nor willing to attack, but they were all rebuffed away from it, sometimes even knocked backward.

It also made Daniel sprint backward and crash into the side of the dropship, so strong was the sense of fear, terror, and pure aversion generated by the psi emitter. Daniel was practically pinned to the rear of the dropship for quite a while, as the Red Wolves looked at his cringing form with awe, terror, and apprehension. He couldn't understand how the others didn't get it; here he was, feeling such an intense feeling of repulsion, while the other members of his crew seemed surprised only because of Daniel's actions. It probably looked absurd to them, a proud man like colonel Travincal fleeing from nothingness. But for the moment Daniel didn't care what they thought about him, because all that mattered, all that his mind could process, was the urgent, mindless, insane need to get as far away as possible from...

All around them, through the heavily reinforced windows, the Red Wolf crewmen saw dracolisks streaking past them uniformly in what seemed to be orderly formations, dragon-like organic starcraft racing toward their targets but taking great care to avoid the dropship they were in, almost as if they were terrified of it. The transport was going right through the entire Zerg force, and yet they were not taking a single hit. They were a small insect cruising through a rainstorm, where each alien craft was a raindrop... Every one of them was stunned by such a disconcerting and--unnatural sight.

The waves of Zerg now past them, Daniel ordered the mercenaries to turn off the psi emitter. It had been a hard thing preventing himself from bluntly demanding that the crew turn off the device, so greatly did he hate it. The overpowering sense of aversion miraculously dissipated, and Daniel got back on his feet after a bit of effort. "All right, we did the best we could to save the Red Wolves still on the ground, but... we have to get away from this planet. Now. Set our course for Tarsonis," Daniel ordered, looking at the display, which showed hundreds of other dropships rapidly escaping from the other side of the planet and the inevitable onslaught of Zerg that was approaching from this side, as all of the other dropships were aiming for Tarsonis...

Kerrigan and company are off to punish the Confederacy, he thought to himself. Such a turn of events... Daniel recalled the Confederacy's treatment of him in the past--excellent service. The Confederacy really had a reason of being so successful, besides its military might... It was an organization operating under a meritocracy, explaining his rapid rise from corporal to colonel... It had its sense of honor, and never engaged a foe with overwhelming numbers, like the Zerg were doing now... Daniel recalled the battle he had with Gui Montag. except against Korhal IV, Daniel remembered. But that action had its own, very good reason, by preventing many future uprisings... And besides, anyone who wanted to abandon the Sons of Korhal and its HQ on the lightly populated planet could have easily done so, considering the twenty-four day's prior notice the Confederacy gave...

And now the Confederacy would fall. And it probably isn't even the Confederacy's fault...

Looking once again at the display, Daniel realized that most of the millions of Zerg who had arrived had already entered the atmosphere, beginning their first battles against the Antigans. There was creep everywhere, even spreading into the cities, and the Zerg had decided to assault the cities directly... Why? Why had the Overmind broken its promise?

If not... It must have been because some over reactive and very frightened soldier decided to open fire... Or because the alarmed commanders had decided to overturn my edict...

"Hello, hello??" Daniel rhetorically asked the Red Wolves. "Why are we still not using our gravitic drive?"

"Sir, part of the drive has been damaged by a stray Zerg attack. Our mechanic on board is currently busy repairing it, but we estimate it could take as many as fifteen hours to adequately repair given the technologies we have on board."

Daniel practically cursed at his bad luck, but decided to live with it.

The Zerg, meanwhile, were running rampant over the severely inadequate defenses posed by the Sons of Korhal cities...

I wonder if my friends managed to get off that rock in time... He looked at the tactical display, watching as dozens of transport frigates were quickly filled to the brim with terrified civilians. While the ground forces fought valiantly against impossible odds, the cities were fully evacuated and the dropships lifted off into the endless night, escorted by starfighters as they proceeded to flee the planet. Many did not get away. For once Daniel realized just how utterly Wrong it was for the Zerg to do what they were currently doing: killing left and right, without consideration for whether their victims were military or civilian. A humane invader would never slaughter the crowds of the defenseless... wouldn't they? Then again, there was that utterly horrific devastation of Korhal IV by a thousand plus nukes...

Why, if one looked at the numbers, the Confederacy was far more barbaric than the aliens, killing many millions of people in one fell swoop. The Zerg, despite all the alien paranoia and threat that surrounded them, still had yet to claim their first million lives. Not that it condoned their actions, of course, but it certainly put threats in perspective. Sons of Korhal leader Mengsk could very well be right about his judgment that the Confederacy were the true threat, at least certain upper-level parts of it.

Those dropships that could escape the planet did so with their maximum capacity of 3000 civilians on board, no doubt with emergency stores of high-calorie-density glucose crackers to feed them for their weeks-long journeys to undefiled worlds. Along with them went the escorts that had been dispatched to guard them, still shooting away at their Zerg pursuers. In high orbit over the planet, Daniel and the Red Wolf contingent watched their view screens in awe as the rather small dracolisks - those dragonfly-like flyers that dominated the alien swarms - concentrated fire at and easily obliterated their much larger but far outnumbered Valkyrie-class assault frigate opponents. Although these vessels defended valiantly by launching off as many Halo rockets as they could against their attackers, even their 400-feet-long bulk didn't do well under fire from the dracolisks' brownish glaive wurms. Eruptions burst outward from the assault frigates, spewing dense reactive-armor plating and oxygen into space. These were always to be followed moments later by the spectacular eruptions of the vessels' fusion generators, which invariably left behind no debris to mark where the starship once had been. Within moments the swarms had cleared out all Confederate resistance from low orbit.

Down on the planet, things weren't faring much better. Scores of overlords had dumped blackish fungal matter onto the planet below, which quickly developed into mature creep. From the carpets of black, gigantic worms erupted, like orifices from within the pits of the planet, their mouths opening to disgorge thousands of zerglings and hydralisks. Dracolisks scattered and regrouped all across the atmosphere, scouting out targets and blowing them to oblivion as they easily evaded enemy fire. The vast barren reaches of the planet were lost to the Zerg without a fight as the overwhelmed defenders steadily withdrew from exurb to suburb to the city centers, leaving behind molten remains of siege tanks, decapitated walkers, and toppled missile turrets. All around them, the unlucky civilians who hadn't managed to get onto a dropship ran around helplessly in terrified hordes, the braver ones rushing to get some guns and grenades from the cities' armories. The valiant defenders were the first to go, cut down by the dozens by house-sized ultralisks that shrugged off all attacks like they were nothing, trampled and mangled where they stood, or bathed in showers of corrosive green needle spines. Defensive perimeters folded and were never re-established as smoke-billowing skyscrapers tilted over ominously, then crushed whole city blocks in spreading domino effects. Visibility dropped to zero as the clouds of ash and floating shrapnel engulfed whole cities along with their beleaguered defenders.

Daniel focused on one particular firing team of sixteen soldiers. They rushed to take up advantaged positions behind the walls of an enclosed park, and were more-than-prepared with several Gausses to each, alongside the laser staves that were becoming increasingly common in Confederate arsenals. From what Daniel could tell, their leader knew what he was doing, was resourceful, and kept cool. Then the screen was momentarily blocked out by a thick cluster of dracolisks. When they had passed, the place he was looking at had been reduced to smouldering ruins, and marines' broken bodies were half buried underneath the collapsed walls. None of the sixteen soldiers he had been seeing a moment earlier stirred. He didn't see a single fallen dracolisk.

Whole battalions and mobs of helpless civilians scattered, unable to face the prospect of sudden death at the hands of so merciless an enemy. Many died without ever knowing what hit them. Those who ran into bunkers found themselves stepping into vile, super-infectious fluid-like substances spread by the most defiled of the swarm's minions, immediately incapacitating them and gradually turning them into mindless infested minions that did the swarm's bidding. Those who sought shelter in the ruins of collapsed buildings were soon impaled by streaks of spines from burrowed lurkers, the organic saws easily blasting through furniture and going around walls to strike at their helpless prey. Those who fled into the countryside found themselves stepping in endless plains of creep where minutes earlier there were greenery, before immense, super-sticky nets fell from the sky, ensnaring them like flies on a web and holding them captive for the Zerg to feast upon at their luxury. The skies were muddled black from the soot, then were dyed pink with blood.

Within minutes the massacre was over.

In the aftermath, blood, ashes, mangled corpses, metallic shards, ichor, and fungal creep replaced vibrant flora, proud men, and glittering towers. Chaos and triumphed over order.

There was nothing left to see.

Daniel had been staring at the view screen this whole time, mouth constantly hanging open in shocked dismay. Gradually the shock of seeing so much gore and devastation wore off. In time the unfolding battle became monotonous and Daniel found himself not really caring about the outcome. Instead, he yawned and drifted off into slumber...

When Daniel woke back up, the Red Wolves told him that it had been only twelve and a half hours into the repairing cycle, and he sat back with a sigh as he set to work uploading the design plans and specifications of the psi emitter into a data disc. "Two and a half more hours to go," he muttered to himself.

Then he looked at the tactical display. There were pulsing, growing structures all over the purple-black, carpet-like creep that now spread across much of the planet. The streets were rivers of blood, human and alien alike, and everywhere were skulls and rib cages, the skeletal remains of cannibalized humans. Amidst the devastation of the cities, there were long, single rods of the same super-sticky material that comprised the ensnaring webs he had seen in the countryside. These filaments criss-crossed the city, and they were filled with the squirming, struggling forms of countless still-living civilians. Many had only their hands, side, or feet touching the ensnares, but that alone proved impossible for any of them to break away from, no matter how hard they struggled. Even from his great range, Daniel could see very clearly their forlorn faces, their eyes empty of hope. One of them, her body bound to the silky ensnares in a dozen places, stared up longingly yet hopelessly toward the sky - from Daniel's zoomed-in perspective, right at him - for a few silent seconds, imploring anyone out there to rescue her, before closing her eyes and drooping her head in defeat.

Daniel knew he couldn't simply rush in and attempt to save the day; that was called suicide. But he no longer knew what he wanted to do. On one hand, he wanted to do what he could to help them - he couldn't stand the prospect of giving them up to the Zerg. On the other hand, he didn't even feel like saving those down there - after all, they meant nothing to him, nil compared to how much he valued his own life, and besides, he didn't find the idea of going down into a gore-soaked dungeon city very interesting. He knew he shouldn't be thinking that, and yet...

Daniel hoped that the Zerg's cannibalism would be the death of them, plagued to the death by pathogens, like the martians in the inspiring tale of War of the Worlds from centuries ago. But the Zerg he had seen had lived on Mar Sara for a month and were still fit to take on Los Andares...

The Zerg had greatly thinned in their ranks, the battle and the human-eating feast that followed being evidently over, and yet there were still far too many of them for any individual force he knew the Confederates possessed to assault them directly any time soon... The Delta Fleet forces on the ground and in the air had been entirely obliterated, their horribly mutilated corpses must surely be decomposing, neglected by Terran and Zerg alike...

Daniel noted with surprise that he was already beginning to consider humans "Terrans".

Then, he zoomed out with the tactical display, using the scanner systems aboard the dropship (all telsats in orbit around Antiga were destroyed in the preemptive strike)...

Thirteen hours after the Zerg assault, Daniel calculated from the on-board clock. Only two more hours to go. He resigned himself to watch the spoils of the Zerg victory yet again...

And found an immense otherworldly fleet of some things clearly not organic, yet not human-made either... As if a third race had entered the fray, coming from nowhere...

Using the visual, he saw that these new ships, trimmed with gold-like metal and all sleek in beautiful geometric shapes, had practically surrounded the planet, and were gradually shifting to fill in the holes...

Whoa! Whatever are THESE??

He watched the visual of these queer vessels. A cluster of them had appeared not too far away, each of them looking like sleek, unopened flower buds but many magnitudes larger. Swarms of golden interceptors came shooting out the apertures to engage the Zerg with what resembled ball lightning. The Zerg, which had been the clear victors moments earlier, hastily retreated where-ever the golden fleets challenged them, as if they were terribly afraid of battling the golden fleet.

Also present were what appeared to be needle-ships, significantly smaller than the dropship he was in but nevertheless frigate-class. From the small tip of these needle-ships flashed brilliant white streaks of energy far more powerful than the turbolasers on a battlecruiser, waving them seemingly carelessly across the battlefield. Any Zerg flier the beam touched was almost instantly disintegrated. Their light illuminated the depths of space, perfectly straight lines of white over a pitch-black background. Once the beams started, they never ceased. Whereas burst lasers fired for only a fraction of a split second, and turbolasers fired for barely second, these incredibly beautiful yet lethal energy beams kept on going for five, ten, fifteen, twenty seconds, and still continued to shine endlessly, slicing across the skies, striking down target after target. Daniel had never seen such potent firepower before - this was most clearly the mark of a race superior to that of the humans.

The Zerg, for their part, fled haplessly before the golden onslaught, leaving countless dead in the wake of destruction itself. Those few dracolisks who fired at a target found their glaive wurms simply absorbed by their targets' pale blue shielding. Daniel didn't see a single golden craft being destroyed, much less any harm coming to the much larger capital ships. Before long the Zerg had fled the system the way they had come.

Watching carefully, he saw a Behemoth-sized golden vessel launch a projectile toward the planetary surface, even as more Zerg attempted to escape into space.

The next moment, the entire planet glowed with the brilliance of a star, blinding Daniel. When he recovered from the shock, he looked at the display again. All he could see was a roiling, white-hot, bubbling celestial orb where there once had been a creep-covered, grass-covered world. The lands underneath were practically broiling, a horrible mixture of flowing magma and hardening rocks and crystals, with various colors all over much like a layer of oil throwing off its own rainbow on a pool of water. A scan was all it took to know that all Zerg on the planet had been vaporized...and that the humans who had been on the planet were even more dead. It was now simply one colossal rock floating in the middle of space, too hot to live on all over its surface, the tortured devastation of so much Terran and Zerg hidden away by the obliteration. Even the atmosphere had been ejected away by the convection of the heat, and now the entire planet was lifeless. The barren world was in such a great contrast from the natural beauty he had seen but mere days earlier...

Why? Why did this fate have to befall all the innocent people on the planet? Daniel then realized that it would be useless to try to feel pity for any of them, for it would only drive him insane. His crew was the only one who would see what had happened to Antiga. His dropship was the only one that was remaining in space awaiting repairs, the only one near enough to Antiga to watch what was transpiring.

Daniel could not bear to let these aliens simply trample over whatever he and others held dear. He would have his revenge, but for now, he would have to wait. And ponder, as he watched what was transpiring.

It was world-killing.

Global incineration.

All life upon the planet was extinguished.

But that 'life' had been Zerg, not Terran. The golden fleet was clearly cleansing the planet of Zerg, since they had arrived on the scene so late that almost all human life on the planet had been ended. If the golden fleet were to fight the Zerg elsewhere like they had done here, and were that devastating in overwhelming the bloody swarms, then there may be hope yet...

"All right, we're going now at last," said the oblivious warrant officer. Daniel sat back, his mind a maelstrom of confusion, resigning himself to the ride as the dropship silently began on her maidenly voyage through the depths of space...

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