"Chris... Sarlena... Ariel... We've been here for quite a while now. But while we've been here, not much has happened. The Zerg are still innumerable - literally - and even with a Guardian, all it takes is for a couple thousand Zerg to sacrifice themselves and it's depleted. We need to come up with a way to influence the war in a more significant way," said Daniel the next morning at the officers' private mess hall.
"And you've already got a plan?" asked Sarlena.
"Exactly. In the aftermath of the fall of Mar Sara, the Sons of Korhal managed to infiltrate Jacobs Installation and retrieve a pair of data discs. In effect, they were dual experiments that ran in parallel. One was about the psi emitter, which could send specific vibes through deep space, amplifying the signals of telepaths. These would generally be lust and desire, or terror and repulsion. Remember two months ago, when we first encountered their use on Antiga? Now, ever since Antiga's downfall I have been aware of the tremendous power of the psi emitter. I've also figured out a way to reverse the programming on such devices so that they repel, rather than attract, the Zerg. I don't know just how extensive its effects used in this way may be, however. Problem is, we don't know enough about the magic we're casting."
"If you had wanted to learn of that information, I believe you are in luck," said Ariel. "Right before we sky-blasted Chau Sara with a Dreadnought, we located an installation on its perpetual far side away from the main planet, one that goes by the name of Flannum. Sensing that the place held significant potential, we used our polarion beams to assimilate all electronic data contained within the installation, encrypted or otherwise. They were files on the then-experimental device known as psi emitters."
"Wait, that would mean that... how the Heck did the Confederacy know that the Zerg could float through space, so early?" exclaimed James, anger swelling up.
They looked at each other, not knowing what to say. It Did seem really weird...
"Yeah, well they did, and then they tested the device--"
"But... That doesn't make any sense at all! How can you test whether or not the device works, if the Zerg wouldn't be going anywhere in the first place?" exclaimed James.
"Well, you see," explained Ariel, "there were actually several experiments. They first created a psi emitter and wondered if it'd attract anybody. They put it on an abandoned and distant planet and activated the device, with a handful of people stationed there to act as the welcoming committee. Needless to say, none of them survived," explained Raynor.
"Because they all got killed by the Zerg," realized Sarlena with sadness.
"There were so many of them, and the Confederacy really became frightened at that point. Those higher up on the hierarchy now knew what was out there, since they had an ansible on site that showed the Zerg raining destruction from space. Of course, there was a need to prevent all-out panic from breaking out, and so they kept it hushed up. Meanwhile, they wanted to create a device that would repulse the Zerg away--"
Daniel interrupted, "and instead of doing it the correct way, which was to conduct additional experiments on distant planets!"
"Instead," continued Ariel, "they were overcome by hubris and believed that they were certain to get it right this time. So they set up another test, this time on the populated colony world of Chau Sara--"
"The moon we've lost touch with two years ago!" realized Sarlena.
"--And they ran their fateful experiment, with one emitter set to attract and the other set to repel. As you very well know, things didn't go as intended, and the Zerg went on to claim the planet, and your kind have lost contact with it ever since," said Ariel.
"Such a well-disguised thing, this whole mess!" shouted James as he banged the table.
"Please calm down, Jim," said Daniel. "So then I guess it was only a matter of time before the Zerg decided to venture to the neighboring planet of Mar Sara. The Confederacy must have known that this would happen someday."
Ariel added, "Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that the Confederates viewed the threat of the Zerg as something that could help bolster the image of the Confederacy to the fringe worlds, which had by then become admittedly estranged from the government. Their plan was to wait until the Zerg showed up on Mar Sara and began wreaking havoc, and then coming in blazing and with flying colors. Then the Confederates would gain the trust and loyalty of the peoples of the fringe worlds."
"No, I think they were just afraid to confront the aliens," said Daniel after a pause laden with disbelief.
"And now, here comes retribution."
"If it involves another experiment, I'm not for it," declared James.
"The whole of the Koprulu Sector is under attack and you want to tell me that you won't see this experiment through?" Christopher exclaimed, with anger in his voice. "You'll doom everyone!"
"No--the experiments have doomed everyone," Raynor returned.
"Yes, but aside from the Protoss they're also our only chance of victory over the Zerg! You've seen their numbers, their ferocity, their technology! We can fend them off for a short while, but fighting them head-on isn't the way to go!" Daniel challenged.
"Well, what's your plan?" asked Sarlena.
"I'm not quite sure yet. We'll need to do some preliminary testing with these psi emitters before we can be sure of their reliability. The early Confederate tests proved as much. Eventually we'll keep them away from the important locations whenever we're attacking one of their bases, or something like that."
"In that case you will definitely want to look into the data we gleaned from the Flannum Installation," offered Ariel.
"More like, stole! Oh well, at least we will have access to what we both believe to be important information regarding psi emitters. And have you cracked the encryption?"
"There isn't much to decrypt... at least, not when you're - that is, we - are using a polarion beam. It can perfectly analyze any physical object that stores data of any kind, and it was immediately obvious which part of that physical data was the encryption key. By the time we stored in our data banks the bland data had already been retrieved."
"Well, so much for biological encryption. What have you got?"
"We have information regarding how to build and operate a psi emitter - at least for its most basic function, which is to attract Zerg. Unfortunately the files were not exactly accurate, for the next thing we did was to create several such psi emitters and activate them on a remote planet, hoping to attract all the Zerg from this sector of the galaxy so that the fleets we had positioned there would be able to wipe them out. However, none of them came. Therefore we have concluded that there must be at least an error somewhere in the process. We have yet to find out exactly what went wrong."
"Strange. Yeah, I can't really tell you what is up with that. Why don't you give me some of these psi emitters, and I'll play around with them."
"Fine, but don't be a Mengsk and activate it on Korhal; we don't have many ships in the vicinity. Which, by vicinity I mean 50 light years." The next moment a golden mist sprang out of Ariel's hands and drifted to the center of the table before reforming into a brand new psi emitter, causing Christopher and Sarlena to ogle with surprise at the spectacle.
"Dismissed. We will be setting coordinates for an uninhabited star system thirty light years from here, where we will proceed to trigger this psi emitter. In the meantime I will compare between this particular psi emitter's programming and the one I have kept with me all this while." As the others stood up to leave, Daniel mused to himself the various ways in which something as technologically sophisticated as a psi emitter might have gone wrong.
A shimmering window to hyperspace opened mere kilometers above a planetary ring and moved swiftly through a localized stretch of space, depositing the Harbinger Fleet as it passed. On both sides of the fleet a shimmering, pristine ring of space rock slowly revolved around a nameless, golden gas giant.
"Blinking completed successfully. Scanners searching for other presences. Admiral! We have located a swarm of Zerg a hundred kilometers away! They have detected us and are approaching!" Without even waiting for their admiral's command, some of the warpships had already opened fire, and the Harbinger-class carriers were unloading their complement of Wraiths.
"Slightly under a thousand."
<Guardian, activate bubble shield.> "A trifle. We shall be able to handle them without difficulty." <Guardian, lash out with a distortionary wavefront.> Instead of using the Guardian for the bubble shield, he had reconfigured it to the shape of a dagger, dozens of kilometers wide and up to thousands of kilometers long. The angelic vessel's wings repositioned themselves. The translucent quantum wavefront lashed out away from the Guardian, going right through and disintegrating half of the approaching swarm in a single second. For a few seconds, the stunned remaining half of the swarm stopped dead in space, as if awestruck and terrified, before continuing on with their evasive flight pattern as if nothing had happened. "Shields?"
"Eighty percent. May I warn you that this seems to be a significantly inefficient use of the Guardian's shield power reserves," replied the adjutant.
"Good. That's half down, half to go. In fact, I'm feeling bold today. While we're at it, I want something more of a challenge. Let's activate this psi emitter we got from Ariel. Start with the frequency she's been using."
"What - Daniel, you sure that's a wise idea?" asked Sarlena, concerned.
"The more Zerg the better," retorted James. "With that kind of power on our side even a swarm three times this one won't stand a chance against us."
"Yeah, but the swarms that attacked Antiga and Tarsonis... you've seen them... they weren't close to three times this swarm!" Sarlena protested.
"Enough. Activate the psi emitter," said Daniel, half mesmerized by the erratic flight patterns the dracolisks were taking to minimize losses.
On the battlecruiser Flannum's Legacy, the psi emitter was activated. A powerful, continuing pulse went out in all directions, like a blinding flare in the darkness.
Suddenly, the remainder of the Zerg swarm stopped dead in space. All of them. They all ceased attacking and stopped whatever action they were doing. Those that had been taking evasive maneuvers suddenly halted and were easily struck down. In a few seconds more the dead-like swarm was obliterated by the Harbinger Fleet.
"What the heck is going on? Why did they suddenly stop?" asked James.
"Of course! It must have been because of the activation of that psi emitter!" said Sarlena in amazement. "Don't you see! That's what the Confederates had been working on, trying to disrupt the chain of command of the Zerg! We've done it!" she exclaimed in excitement.
"Oh, gee. Yes, it does seem to me that the psi emitter is acting more like a psi disruptor," said Chris. "No wonder the Protoss had no success trying to use them to set up a trap - they didn't attract Zerg; they knocked them out!"
"Do you realize what this means?" said Daniel, his mind spinning, trying to take in all the possible applications of this new technological discovery.
Sarlena jumped to the conclusion first. "Yes! We'd be able to set up a pair of psi emitter and psi disruptor, and the Zerg forces would be rendered helpless, ripe for their destruction!"
"And after we successfully test them out, we can deploy them on many other worlds across the galaxy, and basically lure out all the Zerg everywhere, allowing us to annihilate them! Wonderful!" Daniel joined in. He then spoke into his comlink: "All right, everyone! Look sharp! We may be on the verge of a great victory against the Zerg as a whole, and I don't want this experiment botched up. We're going to use a REAL psi emitter now, one that I've worked with and which I know works, and we'll use it to draw in plenty of Zerg from this sector. Adjutant, be prepared to blink us back to Korhal at a moment's notice. Flannum's Legacy, turn off the Protoss psi disruptor, which is what we'll be calling it from now on. Janus, activate the psi emitter!"
"No wait!" warned Ariel, but it was already too late.
As the psi disruptor came offline, the psi emitter - the one that had been in Daniel's possession after his assignment by the Sons of Korhal back at Antiga - was activated. Another intense pulse of energy was sent, one that reeked of lust and desire, acting like an interstellar beacon to countless Zerg. Daniel suddenly found himself rushing out of the bridge like a madman, taking the nearest path for the psi emitter in Janus's room, and knocking down several officials who happened to be in his way. Several guards rushed after him, quickly taking hold of their admiral before forcefully cuffing him to the wall so that he wouldn't go crazy. In his desire for success, he had forgotten that there was a Sirens-like effect to activating the psi emitter on this particular program.
Ariel's situation was more stunning. After the guards recovered from the shock at seeing a normally pacific lady suddenly rush out the door, they tried to block her - only to see her suddenly disintegrate into a golden mist that easily flowed right past any obstacle in its way, be it a fully armored guard or a closed and locked door. The sudden change, the drop in the facade that had up to that point only been revealed to Daniel, caused everyone to back away in astonishment and terror.
Sarlena kept her cool despite everything having gone crazy around her. Speaking into the comlink, she declared, "Sarlena speaking. Daniel is mentally incapable of issuing orders, and Christopher has gone to tend to him. I'm in charge of the fleet now."
Just that moment the adjutant burst out in flustered surprise. "The Zerg have come! Millions of them! Permission to evacuate?"
The viewscreen resolved into the image of numerous, swirling orange-violet vortexes. Wormholes had opened, disgorging countless Zerg fliers, all of them closing in on their position.
"Activate the psi disruptor NOW!!" Sarlena cried out in horror.
The Zerg continued to home in on the Hyperion.
"Oh God no... Turn off the psi emitter! Hurry!" said Sarlena, at a loss for what to do next.
"It's too late! We've lost contact with Janus! I... I think he's dead!" exclaimed Christopher.
Meanwhile, the two Ghosts on board the Hyperion, being telepathic, had also made it to Janus's cabin, easily overwhelming any and every guard standing in their way. They swiftly took down the barrier and, when Janus attempted to defend the psi emitter, shot him dead. Then they hugged the psi emitter as close as they could get to it, pressing their bodies to the device and moaning in the paradoxical combination of bliss and desire, easily ignoring Sarlena's order to terminate the psi emitter's program. Moments later the lacy streams of golden mist that was Ariel flowed into the room and, in her madness, easily used her nanite extensions to slaughter them before wrapping her mist-like form to coagulate into a solid sphere around the psi emitter.
Just as a desperate Sarlena was about to order the fleet to blink away from this immense concentration of Zerg swarms, windows to hyperspace opened up all around them, bringing with them a protective sphere of thousands of golden starships - the Koprulu Sector's Protoss Expeditionary Fleet. Immediately, space all around them became an incredible battlefield fully littered with the burning carcasses of tens of thousands of Zerg and even numerous scrapped pieces of golden hull. Bluish shields flickered and collapsed all around as space became filled with glaive wurms, photon torpedoes and ion beams.
Meanwhile, the disciplined Templar on each of the Protoss vessels formed a proximity nanite meld with those that comprised Ariel's now-liquid-like golden body, shielding them from the effects of the psi emitter and gradually causing Ariel to reform. At last, her mind now kept in peace and her thoughts kept away from the incredible lust the psi emitter exuded, she hit the button that caused the psi emitter to deactivate.
The intense pulse of attraction abruptly vanished. Now without any desire and cut off from the central intelligence, the millions of Zerg rested seemingly dead in space, waiting passively as the concentrated Expeditionary Fleet systematically annihilated them all.
"Daniel, are you feeling better now?" asked Christopher. Realizing that the admiral was no longer overcome by the madness, he unchained him.
"We must see what has happened at Janus's room," declared Daniel, before rushing off at a sprint, with Christopher in rapid pursuit. Upon bursting into the chamber, he encountered Ariel. Aside from them two, the room was empty, as the corpses of the other three had all been cleaned up by Ariel's nanites moments earlier. "What are you doing here?"
"I guess being a telepath made me just as vulnerable as anyone to the effects of the psi emitter."
"But wait... If you were under its effects, and no one else was here, how did the psi emitter turn off?"
"I guess I must have hit it by accident when I was rushing toward it," lied Ariel.
"You know, Ariel, you're a bad liar."
"Nothing quite gets past you, does it? I'll tell you at another time; you seem to be preoccupied with other matters right now."
Sensing something was wrong, Daniel turned around... and his eyes flew wide open as he saw a mob of people rush in at him, all of them screaming and demanding an explanation, which easily had him pressed into a corner in no time.