A New BeginningEdit
Despite what had just happened, the humans were for the most part clueless. But there was Something noticeable: the windows of the vessel revealed that they had left real space altogether, as there were no stars around them, and so the first question the humans asked after they entered hyperspace was, "What's just happened? What did you do to us?"
"Taking you someplace."
<You are not yet safe to expose to the world where we were originally headed--hence, we shall instead be phase warping to an isolated, worthless, wasteland planet, thus denying our secret coordinates from the prying Overmind.>
< I wouldn't know the coordinates of a planet simply by being on it,> Daniel challenged.
<You'd be surprised by how much you would learn just by sensing our minds, from seeing the kind of sun, and from seeing the arrangement of stars in the sky.>
<All right then, I want barrier preparations to begin very soon, as I cannot wait to go to your home planet.>
<You shall have to prove your worth to be granted access to our home planet.>
"You're staring at her again!" said Christopher, looking at Daniel with suspicion. "What's the problem with you!?"
"I don't have any problem with me!" Daniel fired back and glared at him.
< It may be about time that you reveal your psionic power to your comrades. Doing so shall make it much easier for them to accept whatever truths you shall tell them about yourself and about us.>
<All right then, I'll do as you suggest.>
The other humans were all looking at him, he realized, as he looked from side to side, anxiety swelling upward from his heart. "Okay, okay!" he shouted, trying to prevent his face from blushing. "I'm telepathic, all right?"
"See, I knew it," James shouted to Christopher exultingly. The master technician only nodded, though only a bit surprised.
"Oh?" challenged Michael. "Then can you tell me what I'm thinking right now?"
Disbelief, Daniel sensed, looking at him and peering into his mind psychically. "Raynor, you are currently thinking that there is no way that I could possibly know what you're thinking of right now."
James's eyes and mouth opened wide and silent, which was a very clear signal that he knew that Daniel had guessed accurately...
Ariel smiled. <You didn't need telepathic powers to conclude THAT,> she commented.
"I've been steadily growing my telepathic powers over the course of the last two months--that is, ever since I killed my first zergling. So you see, I telepathically communicated with Kerrigan to find out her name, then telepathically met with a crew member aboard the Hyperion to get him to free me--"
"No WONDER you have had such an easy time rising to the top," said James. "You knew what everyone else was thinking!"
"NO!" shouted Daniel right back in furious indignation, especially that a subordinate was challenging his military prowess. "I developed every bit of my military tactics through my own intelligence and experiences, and don't you dare go out of place, James!"
His face was contorted in his great anger, and James backed away, remembering what had happened to him the last time he angered the colonel...
"Now. I am telepathic, like I've just explained. And I had just been communicating with the Protoss representative right here, using our minds. The Protoss don't understand your words, and can't speak them anyway." So if you want the Protoss to do something for you, you'd better make sure I like you, he added silently.
The others were still stunned, but it gradually was sinking in. Daniel knew it would...
<You're scaring them, Daniel,> Ariel intervened, empathy written on her face.
< I know I am,> Daniel replied. <They need to be scared. They aren't like your race, which can probably understand such truths through thought alone, no convincing needed. Humans aren't like that...>
<We would imagine it not to be.>
"So where are we headed?" asked James.
"We, the Koprulu Sector Protoss Expeditionary Fleet, and your Terran fleet are blinking toward a barren planet."
"What the heck is that supposed to mean? You just did something to us without asking for our appreciation of what you're doing? No wonder inter-race first contact rarely works out well in the movies," remarked James.
"Please, if you would just all stay calm for about three minutes, I promise it will all be clear." Sensing they wouldn't get anything more out of Ariel, the trio impatiently decided to wait it out.
Then suddenly they had fallen back into the starry universe. Through the as-if-transparent walls of the Protoss vessel could be seen the image of a planet, all desertified, with craters from a thousand nuclear bombs still visible on its surface.
Realization dawned on Daniel. "Korhal IV! The same planet that the Confederacy had decimated decades earlier!"
"Interesting. That's the name you give for the trash of a government that those kleptocrats were," responded Ariel.
"Yes, yes... What, so you mean we're at Korhal already???"
"Indeed. By now the radioactive fallout has fallen to far below the level that can be considered the slightest harmful to the Protoss. We believed that such would indicate a satisfyingly safe level for you Terrans, but it seems not to be the case. You will need protection before you may approach the planet surface."
"So exactly what does it mean to 'blink'? Is it our basic science-fiction idea of warping?"
"Not exactly. There is an alternate plane of existence separate from this one, but to which we can temporarily open a 'window'. Whole ships can go through the portal to hyperspace and come back out minutes later many light-years away. The hyperspace plane, unlike the real plane, can transfer material quickly across the immense voids of space."
"So you have brought us along with you along this interstellar journey. And from what I can see the Hyperion is still docked. What about the dozen or so other vessels that were along with our ship?"
"Don't worry. We have brought them with us to Korhal."
"Then I, as their speaker, thank you. What about the Sons of Korhal and the Confederacy?"
"The Sons of Korhal broke away from the battle swiftly, so dishonorable were they that they did not stand and fight. Thus, many of them avoided the swarm, escaping for a number of other planets which we know have been colonized by your kind, with the Zerg in close pursuit. The Confederacy's means of retreat have been all but annihilated, and only few of their number were able to escape; the rest of them fought honorably, dying in the end. However, we give you special attention and preference in blinking your fleet here."
It was only then that Daniel realized how highly the Protoss valued honor: above even life.
And, in retrospect, they have good reason to do so, as they were a war culture with perhaps sufficient technology to ensure that their selves do not die in battle... As Daniel was lost in this train of thought, the arrayed vessels gradually approached the planet surface, shields and armor easily sustaining the heat of reentry.
Within moments the Protoss Expeditionary Fleet which Daniel was on had landed on the sand-swirling, reddish-orange desert world. A horribly mutated scantid - a scorpion-like native of the planet that had survived the horrible nuclear winter - crawled across the ground on its thirteen legs and wishbone-shaped tail, before using its claws to drill into the ground and disappear. In the near distance, the desert sands collapsed into a stark depression, a black abyss that sucked in the sands, deep... a ring of jagged teeth encircled its perimeter, slowly shifting around, waiting for prey to fall through... The eerie peace of the landscape suddenly shattered as a bit of ground not too far away from the monstrosity of emptiness suddenly erupted into a plume of opaque tangerine. The reddish-tinted sky flickered for a while, before streaks of cyan and lavender coursed over what later becomes apparent as but the hulls of the glorious fleet, uncloaking and revealing its awesome presence...
From the deck of the carrier, iris-shaped portals opened up against the gilded walls, and robotic probes emerged from the darkness within into the brilliant sunshine. In the still quiet landscape, these handful of drones rushed from place to place with a knowledgeable determination; at each vertex along their journey they established a new warp rift, a spinning sphere of plasma glowing brighter than the immediate vicinity, oases of blue and virgin white against a dystopian backdrop of Korhal IV. Several shafts of light stretched upward from its core; one could see particles appear from nowhere, coalesce, and form into larger constructs as they settled into place. A few circles of light shone around it, periodically traveling up and down the vertical axis of the rift, as the data from the psionic network coursed throughout the infantile, yet steadily growing object... This was happening in certain places throughout the site where the Protoss had decided to establish their first foothold on the surface.
"Ariel, what's going on outside?" asked Christopher.
"We're setting up base. All those swirling warp rifts out there are matter being gradually 'phased in'. Setting up base is not a common thing for us to do, but with you along our fleet has suddenly taken on a much greater importance for diplomatic reasons, and we realize how important the planet is to your own industrial development. Aren't you going to build one too?"
Daniel spoke into his comlink. "Admiral to fleet. Permission is given to begin fusion cutter deployment and building printer construction. I want the region scanned and all easily accessible resource nodes and vespene geysers flagged immediately, to be followed by on-site refinery construction." "What?" he glared at Ariel, who was giggling.
"You mean to tell me you haven't even fully automated base construction algorithms?" she replied.
"Well it may make sense for you to have a base building program, since you've probably colonized a thousand worlds, but we haven't got one, so no, we don't," he retorted.
Daniel and the other humans gazed out the windows of their respective ships, looking on with awe as the Protoss showed off their advanced technology. Somewhere, they knew (as Daniel had started to tell them), the Protoss held a template for each of the disparate buildings now being constructed, and the sheer psionic potential charging through the voids was steadily creating additional duplicates of that template, many thousands of light years from home... Though the Protoss knew no home, merely a blessed homeworld...
From the dropships and battlecruisers, the humans emerged, outfitted in their heavy and reinforced hostile environment suits; they paused as they came out of the shadows of their vessels to take in the marvelous beauty--or to some, the lack of it--that this new world offered. None had anticipated being able to see another world, to be immersed in one, so swiftly as the alien technologies now made possible, and they treasured this opportunity for a moment, then another, and a moment more, before settling to their task of constructing the first of the human establishments to arrive after the eradication of the "rebels" (mostly innocent civilians at the wrong place and at the wrong time) so many years ago. They went in the SCVs that were on board--the space construction vehicles had been programmed to build a military base printer directly from blueprint, and so they mostly took care of themselves as first the foundations, then the ground floor, then the second went up slowly and steadily in predictable fashion. The Protoss looked on with interest; they had never in their lifetimes seen this method of constructing things, and relished the chance to see both how their new accompaniment compared against their own and how the basic materials seemed to be gradually nursed into dwellings and machinations of some kind or other. But to the humans, all that was apparent was that there was an unspoken race to finish building base as quickly as possible.
The humans failed the contest. In fact, there was no contest to speak of. The Protoss structures had completed their phase-ins within mere seconds, the orbs, swirls, and shafts of light dissipating after being replaced with the solid, also gilded walls of Protoss buildings of unknown designation. All that happened before the SCV's had even gotten their act together. Their large, streamlined creations dwarfed those of the humans, which were small, utilitarian (at first anyway), shanty, and above all, excruciatingly slow.
The Terran side was far slower to begin establishing their base. From aboard the Hyperion's storage bay, a large, industrial-looking artifact had been removed, and all of its massive metallic weight implanted firmly into the ground. The 400-meter-long cylindrical mechanism, a fully automated fusion cutter, immediately began drilling into the ground to the resource nodes that lay deep down. Before long, the first blocks of extracted mineral crystals began to pop out the top, along with shards of Trinitite and other exotic materials. This the SCV's then ferried to the construction area.
Daniel, Ariel, Christopher, and James looked out the windows of the Protoss vessel at the desert landscape before them, watching with awe as the golden and violet Protoss instant buildings popped out of their bluish warp rifts. Daniel experienced both a sinking feeling and one of elation: the former, because he knew the humans couldn't possibly compare with the Protoss, and the latter, because he believed that the Protoss and the humans had their most important goal in common. Maybe it was time to start trusting the aliens.
"Ariel, I think you can come aboard our ship," invited Daniel.
"Whoa, now that I didn't expect from you," responded Raynor with surprise.
"Yeah, well I figured cynicism has got to stop at some point," the admiral replied with a cheer.