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Battle of BraxisEdit

Another month had passed since the much-hailed victory at the once unnamed planet now called - Loomings. Everyone - human and Protoss alike - saw it as perhaps a turning point in the war against the Zerg. Realizing the great breakthrough that Daniel's true psi emitter represented, the Protoss were quick to thoroughly analyze it with their polarion beams, and many psi emitters and psi disruptors had already been made. Every test using them had been a remarkable success; billions of Zerg had already been lured out into the open and wiped out in this manner before it became apparent that the Zerg had already began a galaxy-wide migration away from the mainstays of the Protoss and were now out of the psi emitters' range. Daniel and Ariel were hailed as the two individuals most instrumental in the development of this new 'Red Herring' strategy. The local Protoss Expeditionary Fleet was now stationed at Korhal, its thousands of vessels easily dwarfing the Harbinger Fleet and many magnitudes more powerful in battle, all of which was ostensibly for the protection of the Whisperer who had proven himself many times over the course of the war.

Shortly after their momentous achievement, Daniel and his followers had sent a fleet over to another Confederate fringe world, Braxis, bloodlessly impressing its petite navy into theirs. There, construction had begun on a much larger, city-block-sized Psi Disruptor that combined both psi emitter and disruptor and which could draw out the Zerg at much greater range. Although the project was still incomplete, Daniel and Ariel had already concluded that since this was their greatest weapon in the war against the Zerg, and because the Zerg Overmind adapted its strategies readily in response to new threats, the Psi Disruptor should be withheld from use until such as when it could do the most damage.

It was also a month since the ignominious defeat of General Duke's Alpha Fleet by the Protoss at Moria. Mengsk had done what Daniel thought a crafty leader would have done: instead of dispersing navies across the worlds under his control so that they were more or less equally protected relative to how important and populated they were, he clustered all his forces together into the newly christened Imperial Fleet. After having amassed a powerful fleet, he had instructed his new Grand Admiral Edmund Duke to scare the remaining Confederates on Tyrador into surrendering peacefully, and Duke had of course delivered. The new Imperial Fleet was thus stationed at the place where Mengsk had finally defeated the Confederacy: Tyrador. Mengsk however seemed to have taken to heart the warning that the Protoss had given him; he did not make any more aggressive moves on the Umojan-Morian Combine.

Travincal had continued to expand, though of course not as quickly as an impatient Daniel would have liked. There were only twelve Harbinger-class carriers so far, which could hold nearly two thousand Wraiths in total, half the number of starfighters currently in the Harbinger Fleet.

"Admiral, we are receiving a distress call from our base on Braxis. Should we go investigate?"

"What is their recon?"

"A small Protoss fleet - bearing markers unlike the ones who are with us - have issued them an ultimatum to surrender within fifteen seconds. The base has already capitulated. If we don't go in there right now, who knows what may befall the crew we have dispatched there."

"Call the other ships up to orbit. We're going to find out just what's going on," commanded Daniel.

"Message sent. Preparing ships for blinking..."

Braxis was a world that had been bequeathed with considerable amounts of water - trouble is, the bodies of water had been entirely frozen from top to bottom, and outside of the insulated base that the humans had built, it was all ice. There was no water vapor in the skies; no clouds. The planet was a single orb of white, of pure white snow as far as the eye could see, with the endless stars as a backdrop. From the center of the ring-shaped base building stood a half complete Psi Disruptor station, housing one such device many thousands of times larger than the box-like contraptions Daniel had first used. The antenna-like focusing dish was still missing its skin; its curvy frame pointed upward aimlessly into space.

In low orbit over the planet, a small contingent of golden Protoss vessels were suspended, motionless, in neat formation, complete with a couple Needleships, two Carriers, and even a Guardian.

They suddenly reoriented themselves as a shimmering hyperspace window swept through a nearby patch of space, depositing the metallic grey Harbinger Fleet and its single Guardian, already enveloping them in its translucent distortionary shield.

Daniel sat on the admiral's seat at the center of the Hyperion's bridge, gazing at the hologram before him. The white dots representing the Harbinger Fleet's units suddenly multiplied as thousands of starfighters left their docks and formed a fighter screen in front of the ships, ready to sacrifice themselves if necessary to protect much more prized assets. After all, the majority of them were being remote controlled from back in Travincal, Korhal IV. In their rush to fend off the Zerg, Daniel's military hierarchy was steadily becoming more and more like that of the Zerg.

A telepathic voice burst into his mind. <You have joined with the light ones.> It held a remarkably Protoss vibe to it. Then it seemed as if the entity on the other side of the connection were trying to break into and read his mind. Daniel would have none of it, and resisted with his mind. He found it remarkably easily to retain control over his consciousness, letting nothing slip; meanwhile, the Khaydarin crystal amulet that he wore shone a radiant hue of blue, illuminating the already bright room with its soft glow. His practice at Commencement had been paying off.

<You can't break into my mind,> announced Daniel, thrilled by what he had managed to accomplish. He could even focus on everything else going on around him. This was great! <So if you have anything you would like to know, you had better just ask.> The rest of the communication happened in the space of mere seconds:

<You have tainted by the light ones and are therefore our enemies.>

<Really. And why is that?>

<We are the dark ones. The light ones have always sought to eliminate us in their search for species homogeneity. You have entered our territory and are to hand over control of your vessels. You have fifteen seconds to comply.> The Protoss vessels, depicted on the viewscreen at the front of the Hyperion's bridge, seemed to have already chosen their targets and were ready to fire.

< In your dreams. Look, we're not the light ones by any means, and we have no quarrel with you. But if you attempt to fight us we will make a stand. That base on the planet Braxis belonged to us until you forced them to surrender to you.>

< Is that what you call the planet? Khyrador has always been a Protoss encampment.>

<Tell that to the Confederates who have lived on Braxis for decades. You Protoss haven't been to Braxis for over 40 years.>

<Khyrador had been abandoned twice as many years ago.>

<Look, I don't care whether or not you Protoss owned Braxis some time in the past. What matters is that you have taken our peoples hostage and we are here to see to it that they are returned to us.>

<The young are ever so insolent.>

Daniel knew what that meant, and immediately blocked off the telepathic communication. "Open fire!" he shouted. Immediately the vessels began to fire on each other. Intense ion beams burned continuously into the Harbinger Fleet's bubble shield without much effect; spherical photon torpedoes trailed across the sky, emitted en masse by screens of interceptors. Turbolasers and their smaller counterparts struck into the Protoss fleet's bubble shielding, but also without much result. For several seconds the two forces were locked in a stalemate as both sides' shield reserves were steadily - but slowly - drained. As each strike hit the surface of a distortionary field, it vanished, causing a ripple of opaque shielding to spread outward like pebbles falling into a lake - and seemingly just as ineffective.

Daniel attempted to call for help. <Ariel, we need you to bring in your fleet! We may not be able to defeat these dark ones otherwise!>

<Dark ones?> Ariel responded from back in Korhal IV. <We shall come immediately. It may take us as long as four minutes before we arrive, however.>

<Then hurry; our shielding probably won't last that long.> Daniel turned to the viewscreen and saw the two fleets continue to trade attacks at each others' titanic shielding, seemingly without effect. "Great, at least our Protoss allies are coming. Shield status?"

"92 percent and falling slowly."

"Keep it up. Order the Yamato Cannons not to fire unless instructed. Prepare all of our nukes for deployment." For the next minute Daniel stared silently at the viewscreen, showing countless futile explosions and discharges of energy without either side losing more than a spare starfighter or two.

"Shields at 80 percent and falling slowly. Detailed analysis shows that they are likely to win this confrontation unless the promised aid arrives."

Daniel sighed. So much for building up a fleet. Even with his very own guardian, he couldn't even stave off this particular cluster of Protoss vessels. "I will try to communicate with the aliens." <Hello there. You want to talk yet?>

<Your gift from the light ones may be able to keep you alive for a while, but it will not allow you to win this engagement.>

<Don't worry. We have our allies coming too. They'll be here in a short while.>

<As if we wouldn't be bringing any of our own.>

<Go right ahead. But just so you know, it does us both little good to fight each other. You don't have much to gain in particular by keeping control over the Braxis base, whereas we do. And both of us have the same goal, which is to fight the Zerg. Any ships destroyed in this engagement means another victory for the Swarm. Are you willing to let that happen?>

<You know as well as we do that the light ones will stop at nothing to crush all the dark ones so that they would be able to unite all the Firstborn under a united banner, which means so much to them.> As they spoke into each other's minds, the vessels outside continued to trade a storm of weapons fire.

<So I have been told. There seems to be something we can all gain from having unity as well as different points of view. Being too much of either way can make one particularly vulnerable, but being both - now that's a good partition to have.>

<You mean you believe in what we stand for?>

<Yes.>

<Unbelievable.>

<However you wish to think about the matter. But the Zerg are getting stronger day by day. And you - what do you go by?>

<Tassadar.>

Daniel was surprised to hear that name. He knew where he had last heard it from, and it had been so long ago too. <You! You're the one who broke apart from this particular Protoss Expeditionary Fleet! You're the one who had been removed from your position as Executor! And... You're the one who spared all our lives,> Daniel burst out, the excitement of realizing this easily carrying across in his telepathic conversation. <We... we really shouldn't be fighting each other, should we?>

<And you must be the Whisperer everyone has been talking about, one of the rare humans gifted with innate telepathic abilities and, of course, an admiral who well deserves his station. Maybe it is true that you don't want to engage us.>

<Great. I suppose we're on terms. Now can we cease this fighting?>

<Yes. Let us do so.>

<All right then.> Daniel suddenly burst out, "this is Daniel, all vessels, hold your fire! I repeat, hold your fire!" Shooting abruptly stopped as everyone stopped to see what their beloved leader was about to do this time around. To their amazement, the enemy stopped firing as well.

"Well, this should be interesting," commented Christopher, looking at Daniel with askew eyes. "Just what's going on?"

"Just a moment." < It seems we have managed to establish a cease-fire. Now, I don't know what you planned on achieving by coming to Braxis, but we can certainly agree to team up against the Zerg, right?"

<Of course. After we found out about the presence of this particular installation, we realized just how important it was. We were surprised that there were almost no ships defending the installation and its Psi Disruptor, and decided to take matters into our own hands by securing the installation so that the operation could proceed without having to worry about any threats from the Zerg.>

<The reason it was lightly defended was because there aren't much Zerg left in this sector. There isn't much of a threat left around here, so we figured that the only threat the place faced would be from the likes of you.>

<Then maybe you - and the light ones - haven't heard the recent news. The latest attempt to utilize the psi emitter/psi disruptor pair failed, resulting in the destruction of numerous vessels that could not escape in time. The Swarm has evolved to include a new subspecies remarkably similar to that of the Overlord, which we have called the Overseer, which can make sure that nearby Zerg obey their tasks. Their signals are much stronger than that of common Overlords, and thus the psi disruptor has no effect on swarms that hold Overseers. We surmise that the Overmind has been quick to take advantage of this new development by moving its newest Overseers to every major swarm of theirs. Pretty soon the common psi-disruptor-in-a-box trick would have gone stale.>

Daniel was aghast. <Then... if what you say is true, our psi emitter technology gave us only a modest edge over the Zerg...>

< Indeed. However, even though the Overseers' psionic signals and receptors may be stronger, the Psi Disruptor here on Braxis is stronger by far. Therefore it has become in our view one of the most important places to defend.>

<Even though these latest news may be troubling, your presence here is not needed. If the Zerg were really set on destroying any world, they can easily crush your fleet within the space of a few short minutes - before your reinforcements can arrive. And even if they are outnumbered, they can destroy the planetside installation without difficulty. I was counting on the place's seeming lack of importance to keep the Zerg from showing up. If you were to do battle, however, you would quickly find that the more you kill, the more the Overmind would take an interest in Braxis and the more swarms will come to investigate and destroy just what you are working so hard to defend.>

<Acute reasoning, Whisperer. Perhaps that is the case. With that in mind, we shall be departing for other worlds soon. We have used polarion beams to analyze the Psi Disruptor blueprint and have transmitted this data to many other worlds, where new Psi Disruptors will be constructed.>

<Go ahead. But I would check out the 'blueprints' you stole if I were you.>

<What the... they're nothing but jibberish!> said Tassadar in surprise.

<Exactly. Who do you take me for, a fool? The moment I learned about polarion beam technology I asked questions about polarion blockers. Don't try to steal this technology. Trust me, I know what I'm doing, and it's best that you do not try to replicate the Psi Disruptor - for all of our good.>

"Admiral! Reinforcements have arrived!" proclaimed the adjutant.

Not far from either fleet, hyperspace opened before them, sweeping through a vast stretch of space and leaving a large fleet of light ones' golden ships. A split second later, as the hyperspace window was only halfway complete, the dark ones' fleet began to retreat through its own shimmering hyperspace window. <Oh no, it seems your allies, the light ones, aren't as keen as you are to befriend us,> declared Tassadar.

Just then the newly arrived Guardian had fully entered real space. A slight shockwave traversed the vicinity, and instantly both hyperspace portals collapsed, sealing shut in the blink of an eye. The dark ones were trapped in this region of space. Even though only half of the light ones' fleet had arrived, that was already three times as powerful as the dark ones' miniature fleet. Both Protoss fleets' ships swiftly realigned themselves toward each other, readying their weaponry.

<Ariel, these dark ones are no longer our enemies,> communicated Daniel in surprise. Several communications then went on at once:

<Hey, what's going on?> asked Tassadar.

Just then, the voice of another Protoss spoke in their minds. <Dark ones, you have been trapped by a much superior force. Disengage your weapons and submit to us. Resistance is futile. You have fifteen seconds to comply.>

Is that your standard greeting? thought Daniel. <Maybe you haven't heard,> said Daniel. <The light ones lately stole another piece of technology, a hyperspace interdictor, installed on that Guardian. As long as it's active you won't be able to make good on your escape.>

<We dark ones shall not submit to you. That would be defiance of the very principle we stand for - independence from the collective!> retorted Tassadar.

<Ariel, stop doing this! They're our allies now!>

<They're not our allies,> replied the Protoss Templar that had just issued the ultimatum.

<Wait - who's he?> asked Daniel. Meanwhile, the ships had begun to fire on each other, both sides' attacks seemingly absorbed harmlessly by the distortionary shielding around each fleet. Daniel knew that the already severely drained dark ones' Guardian shielding was no longer the equal of a single one of the light ones', and the new fleet had multiple Guardians with them.

Ariel replied, < I'm not the one in charge of this fleet. That would belong to this Expeditionary Fleet's Executor Tealdarin.>

<Well tell him to stop!>

< I for one don't know what has convinced you to think that the dark ones are our allies, but it is evident they are not, as Tealdarin thinks so,> she replied.

<We are not your enemies! Stop firing on us!> said Tassadar.

<Time's up. You may not be our enemies but your ships must be brought back into the Khala's fold and you have refused to do so in the time we have given you. This battle will be taking too long.>

Suddenly one of the light ones' Guardians reconfigured its shielding into a distortionary dagger and plunged it into the sole bubble shield protecting the dark ones' fleet. Both quantum wavefronts suddenly went opaque, and a second later the latter shield collapsed. As the battle continued all around them, suddenly the dark ones' vessels and interceptors were blossoming in cosmic fireballs. They could not hold out for long.

We've got to save them, thought Daniel. Ordinarily the distortionary shielding can only be erected when not in a region enclosed by a similar shield belonging to an enemy, but the light ones' fleet is the one which had been with us at Korhal all this time and probably still recognizes us as an ally, allowing me to erect our shielding within theirs. If we set it to be an inverted distortionary bubble, we should be able to stop their shielding cold and simultaneously allow the dark ones to blink to safety. <Guardian, establish an inverted bubble shield around the light ones' fleet!>

Suddenly the translucent shielding protecting the light ones' vessels abruptly ended, replaced by a smaller distortionary bubble that prevented the shield generators from working properly.

<What did you do that for?> Executor Tealdarin demanded to know, now instantly suspicious of the Harbinger Fleet.

<Just doing what I believe to be right,> Daniel replied nonchalantly.

Both Protoss fleets adjusted rapidly. The dark ones immediately reopened their hyperspace windows and mere seconds later had escaped. The light ones had turned on the now unprotected Harbinger Fleet, lancing its sole Guardian with a dozen ion cannons and a far more powerful PICA discharge. The Guardian's own deflector shield, a much weaker version of its bubble shield, gave out in milliseconds and the vessel was gone, just like that, replaced by a dazzling quantum cascade that illuminated the entire sector like a momentary second sun. Other Needleships had fired their ion cannons at the far less resilient Harbinger Fleet vessels, disintegrating scores of Wraiths and creating massive gashes in dozens of Valkyrie frigates. More PICA's sliced into two battlecruisers, swiftly breaking each of them into two like a knife through butter - both of which then swiftly detonated, killing scores of those on board.

Daniel was too shocked to respond. He had not imagined this to happen so quickly. But Ariel was much faster. <Hold your fire! The enemy's gone, and you're attacking the wrong foe!> she urged the Executor, who obliged. A mere second after the light ones' fleet had fired on the Harbinger Fleet, it stopped, leaving a multitude of scrapped ships in its wake.

< I have spared your lives, because I want an explanation,> Tealdarin communicated to Daniel. The anger was highly apparent; it was not often that a light ones fleet had the chance to score a victory on the dark ones, and this human fleet had used one of their own gifts to successfully deny them victory. <And it had better be good-->

<Um, okay, I have a story ready...>

<And you have fifteen seconds to comply.>

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