The Journey BeginsEdit
From the Hyperion, Daniel watched the impossible-to-convey destruction down below with stunned, silent awe, even as the stricken planet's gravity once again pulled it back together into a new world...
The threat from the ion cannon was over---as were many of the Zerg that perished along with its detonation. As instructed, the Red Wolf turned off the psi emitter once again, and suddenly, Daniel felt himself return to normal, for a few moments hyper-content as his inhuman desire seemed to either evaporate or become fulfilled.
But so many humans had also died from the hit, so many humans who had no chance of escape, Daniel knew, with merely a tinge of regret. He didn't feel any more--after all, he had been so jaded from the previous battles, all the casualties of war... To a human, what difference did it make between knowing that ten thousand people had just died, and that ten million had just died? Oh, how far we have fallen, was the only hint of realization that Daniel allowed himself. He crumpled back onto his seat and looked at the hologram in front of him.
There were no blips, of any color, on Tarsonis's surface. All life there had been eradicated. In a rough sphere around the planet, which constituted all of what is known as low orbit, multitudes of red dots - by far the predominant color - continued to engage the last clutters of brown dots. Evidently the Confederate forces were trying to flee, but many died trying to do so. The battle was now quite over, the red dots outnumbering the brown by several hundred to one. The planet was lost. In high orbit and moving away were the blue of Sons of Korhal forces, which were likewise fleeing the planet but emerged in far better shape than their Confederate counterparts. Of course Daniel knew that one cluster of these blue dots actually corresponded with his own reassembled force. And most intriguing, streaks of gold dots were systematically plunging into low orbit to contest with the red ones. The golden fleets were doing battle with the Zerg, as Daniel very much expected they would. Also as he expected, where-ever the yellow dots went, the red ones recoiled, either because they fled or because those that tried to fight were simply obliterated like they were nothing. Gradually, as Daniel could see, the golden fleets would clear out ever-larger portions of Tarsonis space.
"Whatever happened to Sarah?" Daniel remembered.
"After the Zerg struck them one last time they were all ensnared. All but Kerrigan were consumed. They quickly moved the colonel off planet and evacuated her through a warp vortex not long ago." Daniel didn't know if this was good or bad news.
"Receiving incoming transmission."
It was Mengsk speaking "Damn you, Daniel, you traitor! You may have won today but I'm telling you, no one crosses me and survives - for long." Without even bothering to hear Daniel out, he cut off the transmission.
"The one you should be afraid of is the one who never voices any threats," remarked Daniel smartly, more to himself than to anyone on the bridge with him.
Up at the large monitor at the front of the bridge were visuals of the Zerg engaging or far more often fleeing from the golden fleets, who continued on, their might uncontested. Explosions and trails of debris and alien blood littered the region of space that he was watching. He couldn't believe how powerful the golden fleets were, but then again, there they were, up on the viewscreen, not quite in flesh and blood but real enough for him. So much power... how were the humans on the disparate worlds supposed to stand up to the both of them? As if fighting just the Zerg were not enough; he wasn't even sure that the war against the Zerg alone could win them the battle. They hadn't even known the full extent of that one alien race, and Tarsonis, the capital world of the Confederacy, representing over two thirds of the government's productive capability and nearly a half of all human productive capability in the Koprulu sector, had been wiped out in mere hours like it were nothing. That certainly didn't bode well for the humans; and this was most certainly only the beginning. The Zerg sure had numbers. Add in the might of the golden fleets, and humanity seemed an utter dwarf by comparison. But while he was musing this and watching the display of bloodshed and eradication on the viewscreen, slowly there grew in his mind an idea that perhaps the golden fleets could become a much-needed ally.
Fully a half of the Sons of Korhal forces had splintered away behind Daniel's banner, fully aware of the admiral's miraculous accomplishments and of the terrible atrocities that Mengsk had done. Three battlecruisers, six assault frigates and ten transport frigates comprised Daniel's fleet. That, and the ships departing the planet, were all that remained of a once lively planet of a hundred million.
Daniel finally finished surveying the destruction, and turned around to face the other commanders arrayed before him. "We are now isolated from the rest of the known universe--from the Confederates, who view us as rebels, from the Sons of Korhal, who see traitors within us, from home and family, and definitely from the insidious Zerg. We--a tiny fleet and a few frigates worth of people--have but one place to turn to: The others who have mysteriously arrived on the scene. Now: Let us meet up with the golden fleets, and hope that they'll realize that we want to meet with them."
Then he looked out the visual display, at the infinite reaches, the infinite possibilities, of the final frontier.
Daniel spoke into the comlink so that everyone on allied ships could hear, "Everyone, I am mandating a hundred seconds of silence in memory for those who have died this fateful day."
A hush fell over all his ships. Everyone drooped their heads and closed their eyes in silence as they remembered the day as one that would live in infamy. Daniel remembered the excitement he used to have with his family when he was three years younger, doing what they desired in the fresh outdoors with people they treasured. It was a happiness the likes of which would forever be erased from those who had perished on the Tarsonis. In a sense, that was a something he himself had lost out on. He made a promise that he would go meet back up with his own family in time. Diverse faces of people real and imagined flashed before his mind's eye. One second for every million people who died. The hundred seconds passed swiftly.
Gradually, people stirred and went back to their duties, their hearts now laden with sorrow.
The battle was now mostly over. All sides, seemingly with the exception of the Protoss, had taken heavy losses. The remaining Zerg, having scoured the rest of this region of space, were regrouping into several massive swarms for what Daniel predicted to be a desperate assault on the golden fleets. The Zerg forces arrayed in this coming confrontation were far larger than the forces Daniel saw getting run over by the Others back at Antiga, while the golden fleet seemed to have not changed in size. This might actually yield different results than at that previous battle. The golden fleets themselves were aware of this change as well, and were gathering their dispersed forces back together. However, moments later several swirling vortexes of space dust opened up near each of the concentrated Zerg swarms, through which they hurriedly passed. The Other vessels merely sat in high orbit, motionless, as if awaiting something else to happen. The nearest golden vessel was a mere 200 kilometers away, a distance any fleet could cross within a few seconds.
"Daniel, you do realize that these Others could be antagonistic as well, and that the only reason we're still alive is because thus far they have been preoccupied with clearing out the Zerg," warned Raynor, though he knew Daniel wasn't about to be swayed.
"There's that common phrase, that the enemy of my enemy is my friend," replied Daniel nonchalantly. "Adjutant, cluster our ships into chevron formation and set trajectory for interception with the nearest golden vessel," he ordered. "We're going to dock with them." To his other officers, he said, "today we find out once and for all which side they are on. If they're allies, then we're set! And if they're not... may all the deities of all human religions help us," declared Daniel with determination in his eyes.
"We? The Hyperion?" Sarlena raised an eyebrow.
"Sure, you're not expecting that I'd be willing to send unimportant officials as ambassadors. I'm willing to go; first contact with an alien species is one experience many people would be willing to die for. We really need this to work, since if the Others are our enemies too then we certainly are lost."
"What if they're neutral?" asked Christopher.
"They can't be neutral. They're fighting the Zerg anyway, so as long as they don't fight us, we're allies by default. If they hurt us... well, we wouldn't live to see another day," muttered Daniel, realizing just how much of a threat the Others could become.
"Would you like to see the exterior of the vessel we are approaching?"
"Onscreen!" Daniel replied to the adjutant. The main monitor at the front of the bridge lit up with live video feed. Daniel and company looked on with wonder, admiring the large craft they were heading toward, while the visual showed the similarly massive golden hull of the flower-bud-shaped Other starcraft drawing nearer and nearer.
"Admiral, we have identified a docking hatch on the Other vessel that exactly complements ours. We shall have no difficulty performing the docking maneuver. Permission to proceed?"
"Given. All right, when we dock, Christopher, Raynor, you two will be coming with me. Get dressed." Daniel reached over for a spare CLCS-410, and the other two did likewise.
It kept on drawing near, coming closer and closer, --it seemed to take so long! But at last they were there, connecting to what seemed to be a circular, two-meter-diameter docking hatch in the side of the ship. The link fit--almost too perfectly, it seemed, as if the hatch had been designed to accommodate Confederate vessels, and then the lights in the various displays in the room winked out, leaving the bright but tactically meaningless room lighting. "It's time," said Daniel, leading the others out of the inner complex and into the corridor, where twenty meters later they arrived at their side of the docking hatch.
"Adjutant! Can you identify what kind of vessel this may be, and where this docking hatch will lead us?"
"Performing scans... Positive, our scans had trouble adjusting to the material that their ships are composed of but after a simple sensor adjustment we have detected that this this a variety of carrier. We count over a hundred starfighters parked along the insides of the "petals" of the vessel, as well as several massive starfighter facilities in its core. Problem is, this dock we have attached to doesn't connect with an atrium of any kind - it leads to solid matter, as is much of the vessel. I don't see how you can continue moving forward."
Daniel sighed. Not for a moment did he believe that this mission was going to fail before it even started. "Look, the Others obviously wouldn't put a working hatch right there if it is a proverbial door to a stone wall. Your sensors must be flawed. Readjust it."
"Come on, let's move out," Daniel motioned to Christopher and Raynor, who were to accompany him. All three had donned their combat suits.
"Wait, before we go in, we need to come up with precautions," reminded Daniel.
"Precautions? No way!" challenged Raynor, causing Daniel to leer at him.
"Think of it this way," explained Christopher, "if we go through that hatch and there's even a room on the other side, that means the Others can either conceal the room's existence from our sensors or they have rapid reassembly abilities. Either way we would be unable to pose any resistance against them. Add on the fact that they seem to be able to travel through space far faster than we can, and that they have far superior offense and defense, and there's absolutely nothing we can do if they turn out to be hostile."
"So what, are you going to just go in there defenseless? That's preposterous!" retorted Daniel.
"Really, Daniel, no amount of personal protection will do us any good the moment we go in there. In fact, no amount of ship protection is doing us any good at the moment, if they have the level of technology I'm expecting," Raynor added.
"What we should be worrying about is how to communicate to an alien race," reminded Christopher. "We weren't able to do so with the Zerg, anyway."
Daniel snickered at that. They were evidently still in the dark about his true ability to communicate with the Zerg Overmind. He had been able to do so telepathically and he had a hunch that as a race that knocked on the Confederacy's doorstep around the same time as the Zerg did, the Others were more likely than not also telepathically inclined. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," he said nonchalantly. "Final orders: If they turn out to be hostile and one of us gets killed or captured, the rest are to get back to the ship ASAP and get the fleet to leave. And adjutant, keep tabs on us while we're in there. If something suspicious happens to us you break dock and get your asses out of this system immediately. Understood?"
"Good. Now open the hatch!" shouted Daniel, standing tall and proud.
There was an awkward pause. Daniel knew what the others were wondering--how would they communicate with the other species, even if they were ramen, like humans? But Daniel thrust such thoughts out of his mind, instead preparing himself for the most surprising things one could expect to encounter from first contact, preparing himself for the expected shock as the adjutant opened the Hyperion's hatch. The two half-circles slid apart from the center, revealing the Other side--iris-shaped, with eight panels overlapping each other. A moment later, it too opened...