Author's Note: Hey guys, sorry about the delay and all that, but things have happened on my end that have just been way out of whack. First off, I'm currently suffering from gout pain from my calf, so right now I can barely walk. Second, some scam person over the phone the other day tried to defraud me into stealing money from my bank account, it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience. These two factors have just completely knocked me out of my writing mood.
Don't worry, I did promise I'd finish the fic, so I guarantee you that the fic will go on, just give me a little time to get out of this situation.
That having been said, this chapter will begin a slight shift in the direction of character development. This fic is devoted to more than just developing Raynor and Kerrigan's personalities and all that.
So I hope you guys enjoy reading this chapter.
Dark Templar Shrine Entrance, Aiur
"Jim, you don't have to do this," Nova said, as the two of them stood in front of Ataldis. "Personally I don't get why you even suggested it in the first place. They're my memories, not yours, don't see the point in you coming along for the ride."
"I did tell you about endurance," the rebel commander admitted. "But everyone has a breaking point. Just because there's virtually no record of any Dominion ghost having reached it doesn't mean it's never happened before."
"If we had we would have been considered unworthy to be considered a Dominion ghost," the blond replied. "It's standard protocol for all ghosts to undergo much hardship before we could graduate from the academy. Otherwise, we would be ineffective in the missions assigned to us, or even on the battlefield, for that matter. I may have been the Dominion's best, but it's not like they would have granted me an exception to this."
"I don't doubt that," Jim said. "But all the training in the world doesn't make you unbreakable. Just because you don't recall being pushed to your breaking point simply means no one has tried hard enough to yet, not because you don't have one. When I was talking to you about endurance and all that, I did say the individual must be strong. But what you need to understand is that none of us are strong enough to handle it all alone. Some things are not meant to be endured that way."
Nova was about to protest when Jim continued, "Don't forget, I had spoken to Dr. Hanson about the Neural Inhibitors that the Dominion ghosts have implanted in them. Other than independent thought, those things essentially turn ghosts into drones, where you become near incapable of feeling emotion at all. Thus if the implants get removed, every time you feel emotion of any kind, you would feel it at least tenfold compared to how a normal person would. For that reason, your mind is still in its developing stages when it comes to emotion."
"You think I can't handle it?" Nova asked.
"All I'm saying is that it's every bit as painful to feel emotions as it is not to feel them at all," Jim said quietly. "Once the Protoss have cleared the last of the Zerg from Aiur, Sarah and I will head to the Overmind's corpse to see if more can be learned about the prophecy. If nothing can be done about it right on the spot, we'll simply shift our attention back towards Mengsk and towards toppling his Dominion government."
Nova shot him a look, confused about what he was getting at.
"You know as well as I do about how Mengsk toys with the emotions of others and manipulates them to suit his own purposes. In order to be successful, we need to be in control. Even now I'm still unsure how well Sarah will react about the revolution, since she is the one that had been most wronged by him. The last thing I need is more people letting their anger and rage get the better of them and go all psycho for revenge. Not that I'm saying that's definitely what you'll uncover in your memories, but it's still a precaution that I have to take."
The blond ghost sighed. Jim was right on that aspect. During her time with the Raiders, he had made only small attempts to try to peel the layers in uncovering her past, as the memory wipe had suppressed them too heavily. He had seen her become more compassionate towards others, but it still didn't change the fact that he knew she had no way of remembering her previous life without outside help.
"Nova, all I'm doing here is just about the exact same thing you and I both did with Sarah back on Haven," Jim said softly. "You saw the state she was in when she first woke up. Now tell me honestly, what do you think would have happened if we hadn't helped her there?"
Nova nodded slowly, finally understanding. "The pressure would have been too much for her to handle. She would have gone completely insane and might have killed herself in the process."
"And that's the same thing with you here. Look, I'm not saying your past could have anything that traumatizing. But if it is, I want to be there for you for support if you need it," Jim explained.
She gave Jim's hand a squeeze. "Thanks, Jim. I appreciate it." Nova then turned her head to Ataldis. "I'm ready to find out about my past."
The Alysaar gave a nod, as his Khaydarin Crystal Amulet began to glow. "Then let us begin."
Suddenly, the chamber around Jim and Nova exploded with energy and the blond ghost felt something strange, like nothing she had ever experienced before. Nova felt a temporary discomfort in her head, and memories buried deep within her were awakened.
She saw herself almost five years ago, when she young, and at the a huge reception party for her birthday. She saw her father Constantino Terra announcing a speech at her family's residence, the Terra Skyscraper, where she stood at the center of the domed space. All around her were guests of the Old Families, as well as the Terra servants.
Seeing such a sight made Nova smile. It had been years since she felt so special. Not that she constantly wanted to be the center of attention, but despite being the Dominion's top ghost agent, she had received only minor acknowledgement and recognition.
Jim, however, was wide eyed with shock. "You were an Old Family member, Nova?"
The blond ghost opened her mouth to reply, before she caught something different about the commander. She saw a slight dark glimmer in his eyes. It wasn't jealousy, but what looked more like anger. The tone of his voice also seemed to have a touch of anger in them, but she couldn't understand why.
Nevertheless, she had no intention of reading Jim's mind. During her time with the Raiders, despite the fact there were still moments of tension with some of the crew, the majority of them had learned to trust her. Nova learned not to channel her psionic powers to read a person's mind so that she would respect their privacy.
"I don't get it," Jim said, confused. "The Old Families are the pinnacle of the Confederacy. They would never send one of their own into the Ghost Program. Both you and Sarah told me about the brutalities you had to endure there during your training. For a privileged Old Family member, I don't see how you could have gotten into the program, regardless of your psionic potential."
"The details are sketchy," Nova admitted. "I never told you this, but despite the memory suppressants, I've experienced flashes of what appears to be my past life. However prior to the Zerg invasion I was given another memory swipe, so the occasional flashes don't make any sense to me. I can't even tell if they're real or not."
"You told me these memory swipes are supposed to be so effective that no ghost can overcome it, not even you," Jim explained. "And those memory swipes had happened well before you and I even met face to face."
"Except I wasn't trying to remember, Jim. It just came naturally."
The visions pressed on, and the two of them saw Nova showed her kindness to the servants at her party, even more so than her family members. It was a complete contrast to the Old Family member Andrea Tygore, who saw the servants as little more than tools, and not people.
Jim smiled at seeing Nova's kindness. He always suspected that deep down there was a good person in the blond ghost. Then that smile suddenly turned into a frown. But if Nova was a kind and compassionate person all those years ago, what could have turned her into a ruthless and cold-hearted killer for the Dominion? Hell, at this point the Dominion didn't even exist yet, so what could have changed Nova so dramatically?
Nova saw her father opposing Tygore's claim to bomb the Sons of Korhal into submission just as the Confederacy had done to Korhal with their nuclear missile barrage some years back. The blond ghost felt comforted by the knowledge that her family was also very compassionate towards other people, no matter who they might be.
Suddenly the vision changed, and Nova saw herself crying to her mother Bella. Her father Constantino had told her that she was to be sent to Tyrador IX for reeducation. But later, as she cradled her head in confusion, not realizing her psychic potential, she heard the thoughts of her father speaking to Bella, telling her that Nova was to be sent to Tyrador IX due to safety reasons, as the Sons of Korhal had gotten stronger. Apparently, Edmund Duke had joined Mengsk's cause and abandoned the Confederacy.
Besides her, Jim rubbed his chin as he heard Nova's hearing of her mother's thoughts, where she felt Duke was a total idiot and an embarrassment. "I'm with her on that one, Nova. Never trusted Duke one bit."
"How do you know Duke?" the blond ghost asked.
"The Sons of Korhal rescued him on Antiga Prime from the Zerg. Sarah and I both lead the rescue mission, despite our protests to Mengsk that he should have just been allowed to rot. This was when I still believed Mengsk would be a force for change, before he revealed his true colors on Tarsonis."
Jim then pointed to the vision. "It's nothing wrong with what your father did. He was concerned about your safety. What father wouldn't? But it was better to make you believe the lie than make you worried that Tarsonis was vulnerable."
At that moment, the vision changed again, and the reason for Nova's change in personality was revealed. The two of them saw Nova sensing something was wrong with her family as she sat on the Puddle-Jumper's seat at Giddings Station, ready to take her to the orbital Tarsonis Starport. Nova watched as she returned back to her family's skyscraper residence, only to see the one thing that horrified her to the core.
She watched as she returned, she saw her servants already murdered. Upon reaching her destination, she saw her father Constantino and her brother Zeb murdered in front of her, before the rebel Edward pointed the gun at her.
Jim watched, absolutely horrified, completely oblivious to the fact that Nova was now squeezing his hand so much that it hurt. As Edward prepared to fire, he saw Nova let out a psychic scream of pure rage and horror, and he couldn't even tell just which Nova was screaming louder: the one in the vision, or the one right next to him. But he saw the devastation Nova had wrought with that psychic scream: the effect had shattered glass, metal, plastic, wood, and just about everything in its path. In her psychic scream, Nova had affected a four block radius, killing everyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast, and that accounted to over 300 people.
He looked over to the Nova next to him. Her eyes were wide, horrified both had family's murder as well as the destruction she had caused without even realizing it. She had stopped screaming at the sight of reliving her family's murder once more, but the look of pure horror remained on her face. Jim gently squeezed her hand and whispered words of encouragement into her ear, but he knew this would have little effect. Sure he too had lost his family, but they weren't brutally murdered right before his eyes. Jim knew there was no way he could understand what Nova felt right then and there.
It took every ounce of willpower in Nova not to break down right then and there. Jim was right, some things weren't meant to be endured alone. If nothing during her times as a Dominion ghost had pushed her to her breaking point, that event certainly did it right there. Despite what she had seen, she was glad Jim was here to help her through this. She knew from this point onwards, the memories would be an absolute hell, and she needed Jim to give her the strength to make it through the gauntlet.
The visions in front of them flashed, and Nova saw herself flee to a place on Tarsonis called The Gutter. Apparently for all its vast fortunes, there were still places in the Confederate capital for the poor and destitute, and full of corruption and crime. The blond ghost saw herself taken in by thugs and brought before a crime lord called Julius Antoine "Fagin" Dale. Jim watched sadly as Nova had been mentally broken, and wanted death as a means to escape the pain she was in. Yet Fagin did no such thing. Instead, he hoped to have her ransomed for credits. He watched as the crime lord declared that Nova would return to him, begging for mercy, because in the Gutter she would starve to death if she didn't turn to him.
He squeezed Nova's hand again, as an indication that he would be there for her, but Jim knew there was no way for him to protect Nova from her past. All he could hope was that with his help, Nova would be strong enough to make it through all of this.
Nova watched as she became more and more weakened by starvation, yet still struggled to carry on. Yet despite her determination to live, she saw herself still maintaining her morals and ethics. Even after witnessing the death of her family and the horrors in the Gutter, she still refused to steal food from those who could barely make a living. The sight of that brought a small smile to her face, as she saw that despite the hardships she was going through, she still showed caring and compassion towards others. She turned her head to Jim and saw that he was quite impressed with her actions.
"You're even stronger than I thought," Raynor observed. "After the hell you just went through, you're still thinking about others."
"That began to change," Nova said glumly, as she watched herself enraged and channeling her psionic powers to cause an AAI to explode as the screen had showed her older sister Clara announced that she too had died with the rest of her family.
"I don't get it," Jim said. "The authorities had to have known your body was not among the dead. Why would they lie about it?"
Despite still grieving for her family, Nova slowly regained her composure. "Well, the Confederacy always had a tendency to use people in just about any way you can think of if it would suit their purposes, so I'm betting that's the reason."
"Well your actions certainly caused a lot of fear to others around you," Jim observed from the vision.
The blond ghost lowered her head briefly. "I never meant for that to happen, I just felt abandoned."
"I know what you mean, Nova," the commander replied, as the two of them watched her steal food from a man called Terence. "Even without ghost training, your psychic powers are quite tough. It didn't look like you struggled much in lifting that man."
"And my hatred had begun taking a hold of me," Nova observed, as the two of them watched another vision. This time, she used her psychic attack to kill one of Fagin's assassins called The Pitcher. They watched as Nova had made up her mind: she would go to crime lord and kill him.
Jim looked on, horrified, as the vision changed again. This time, it showed Nova's plan had completely backfired. Instead of being able to kill Fagin, the crime lord wore a device called the psi-screen and used it to mentally torture her. The commander saw with his own eyes as Nova screamed in pain from the device, preventing her from using her psychic attack on Fagin, and forcing her to submit to work for him so that he wouldn't hurt any more innocent people.
Nova grasped his hand as tightly as she could, as the two of them watched vision after vision for herself under Fagin's control for the next 6 months, being forced to psychically kill innocent people to save them from a far more gruesome death. To Jim, this was little different from the treatment Kerrigan had undergone during the Ghost Program during her time with the Confederacy.
Jim watched sadly as he saw Nova having been reduced to a skeleton of herself, barely clinging to her own life, unable to do anything about Fagin due the psi-screen device he constantly wore on his head, which cancelled out her psychic powers. Beside him, Nova was barely able to hang on to her sanity herself, as the memories of her past pushed her to total breaking point.
Nevertheless, Raynor could still see the determination in her eyes. Despite the excruciating pain of reliving such memories, Nova was still willing to keep going and complete the process. To that, Jim was very impressed. Nova was proving to be very strong indeed in such a time.
"You're doing great so far," he said softly to her, encouraging her. "I don't know how you managed to handle so much torture, but I can see you're a lot stronger than you look."
"I did it because I knew his cronies wouldn't show blind loyalty to him," Nova replied quietly, gesturing to the vision. "That psi-screen device you're seeing only prevents me from reading his mind, I could still read the minds of his subordinates."
"What made you so certain they would turn against him?" Jim asked. "You didn't have a full understanding of how the psi-screens worked back then."
"I didn't need to. During those 6 months of torture, I saw a behavioral change in him. Fagin began to act more and more insane as time went on. By reading the minds of the people that work under him, it was clear that even they had never seen him act like this before."
Nova pointed to the vision of Fagin barking out hysterical orders. "But they had never seen him with a psi-screen, so the only explanation would have been that constantly wearing that device has negative results."
Her assessment proved correct, as the vision changed to two of Fagin's lieutenants turned on him and killed him, and Nova was confronted by a man called Malcolm Kelerchian. Upon disabling his psi-screen and reading his mind, Nova saw herself relieved beyond anything as she realized that the Ghost Program could erase the memories.
Beside her, Jim gently patted her on the shoulder. "I don't blame you for wanting those memories gone, Nova. Doesn't matter how much willpower we have. At the end of the day, we all still have our breaking points and endurance limits. I understand why you decided on such a thing."
Suddenly, Nova's face twisted in anger as she saw the vision of revelation as she read Kelerchian's mind, but had buried it deep within her. Apparently her older sister Clara had been put up by the Confederacy to announce her death. That way, if she was found alive, she would be sent into the Confederate Ghost Program and redesignated Agent X41822N. Apparently, from what she read and according to a woman named Ilsa Killiany, strong psionic powered ghosts were needed by the Confederacy in order to combat the Zerg and the Sons of Korhal.
"They used me," her voice was barely above a whisper, but Jim could feel the anger building in her. "They wanted me to be their weapon and nothing more."
"It's all the Confederacy sees in anyone," the commander said quietly. "They had no common sense in morality or ethics. All they see in the common people are tools and stepping stones for more power."
It was at that moment that the vision changed again, and Nova watched with horror as she and Kelerchian were suddenly subjected to an attack, and they were buried underneath rubble. Yet mustering her psionic powers, she was able to lift the rubble upwards, saving them both, despite the fact that Kelerchian suffered injuries.
Jim smiled at Nova's actions there. "See what I mean, Nova? It just proved you still retained your morals and ethics, still looking out for others despite what you had gone through."
His smile then turned into sadness. "This was right when the Zerg invaded Tarsonis. It was when I finally broke away from Mengsk and tried to save as many people as I could. If I had known about you, I would have gone down there to save you too."
"You're only one man," Nova said softly. "There's only so much you can do all at once. You didn't know about me then, and you were more concerned with other matters."
The two of them watched as Nova was incorporated into the Dominion Ghost Program, where she trained herself harder than anyone else, pushed herself to the absolute limits of her endurance, all so that she could graduate faster and have her memory fully wiped and she would finally be free from the pains of her past.
Yet despite how hard she pushed herself for the memory wipe, Jim saw that a part of Nova had something she wanted to remember. As the vision changed to her meeting with Kelerchian again, he saw the wrangler and Nova speak, where he informed her that Mengsk assigned him to track down more telepaths. Yet secretly, the two of them saw that Nova had Mengsk had assigned him the mission because it was extremely dangerous and Kelerchian may not make it back alive. Nevertheless, she showed no sign of stopping him.
Seeing this made Nova flinch. She should have tried harder to persuade him not to go on the mission, not if Mengsk was just going to use him as a tool. But before she had a chance to react further, the visions pushed forward, and she saw herself as a ghost trainee, teamed with other Dominion ghosts in the academy.
Jim's eyes suddenly widened as he saw a familiar face. "Wait a minute here," he said, pointing to the vision. "Is that Tosh?"
Nova nodded slowly, every bit as surprised as Raynor was. "He and I must have trained on the same ghost team."
"It looks like he has very good leadership styles," Jim observed. "Also almost looks like he had deep feelings for you there."
"It looks like he was trying to establish a strong relationship with everyone there," Nova said, as the two of them watched herself train with Tosh, along with other ghost members: Kath Toom, Lio Travski, Delta Emblock, and Dylanna Okyl. The blond ghost looked down in guilt as Dylanna accused her of being all along all the time and refusing to cooperate with the team.
It was at that point that Nova witness yet another horrifying event: the battle of Shi.
She saw herself, only as a young ghost cadet, receive a distress call from the Kusinis Twins from the planet Shi due to an impending Zerg attack. She and the rest of the ghost team, including Kath Toom, Dylanna Okyl, and Gabriel Tosh, traveled to the planet. Their original role had been to eliminate the last of the Old Families. However in the face of heavy Zerg attacks, Tosh had ordered the team to fight the Zerg and rescue the Old Family members instead.
Nova's eyes widened as she saw herself defeat the Zerg forces, but found Tosh badly wounded and barely alive. She brought him back to safety, and Tosh thanked her for her actions. Yet only afterwards, she saw Mengsk ordered that she and the other ghost cadets have their memories wiped, yet chose to spare Tosh of this procedure due to his wounds. The emperor then ordered the Old Family members killed, and Nova saw herself visiting Tosh once more in the hospital, denying his accusations of Mengsk being a monster and what he had done.
The blond ghost was horrified. During her years as a Dominion ghost, she had been lead to believe Tosh had gone completely insane. Yet the memory visions proved completely otherwise. Everything Tosh had insisted upon had been the truth, but she rejected due to the memory wipe.
Without a moment's rest, the vision flashed forward to her graduation assignment, where she was assigned to kill the terrorist Cliff Nadaner, the one who had orchestrated the assassination of her family. Nova saw herself berate the terrorist as he begged for mercy, before killing him with her psionic powers.
Nova felt her eyes water up as she saw herself leave him, relieved that now her memory would be wiped and she would finally be free of her past nightmares. Despite seeing the memories of her past in that she wanted the voices in her head to stop, now she deeply regretted the memory wipe. She had thought she would be free with that procedure, but now she saw that it had accomplished nothing but turn her into a mindless Dominion slave.
Jim squeezed her gently on the shoulder. "It's ok, Nova. I understand why you wanted the memory wipe. The past memories were painful for you to bear, and you couldn't stand it anymore. You wanted a fresh start."
Nova nodded gently, glad for Jim's presence in helping her through all this, as the vision changed to her suddenly aboard the Dominion ship Palpatine under the command of Colonel Hauler, heading towards the planet Altara. Apparently the battle group she had been traveling with had picked up a distress signal from a wrangler, as well as to investigate the disappearance of one of the top Dominion ghost operatives, as the neural implants and regular mind wipes prevented ghosts from going AWOL. She saw herself land on the planet's surface, only to be attacked by Zerg creatures.
Jim's eyes suddenly widened as the vision changed to Nova locating the missing wrangler. "Wait a minute, isn't he that Kelerchian guy you met on Tarsonis?"
Nova nodded, her voice filled with regret. "Except due to my memory wipe, he remembers me, but not vice versa."
As the vision continued, the commander saw something familiar as it showed Nova channeling her psionic power to split a boulder rock. As it split, a green gas suddenly erupted from it. Although Nova only came into brief contact with it, it seemed to affect her almost immediately.
Nova saw herself seeing visions of her family killed once more, and she let loose the same psionic scream that had killed hundreds of people on Tarsonis onto the Zerg, instantly decimating the horde and losing consciousness.
Jim pointed to the vision. "That green gas," he murmured. "It looked almost identical to the terrazine gas Tosh has asked the Raiders to collect on Bel'Shir."
The commander rubbed his chin. "When I spoke to Dr. Hanson about the terrazine substance, she said it was capable of affecting brain chemistry, acting like some sort of drug or stimulant. Is that what the substance was doing to you?"
"It's possible," Nova agreed, as the two of them watched herself get treated aboard the Palpatine. One of the medical personnel, Dr. Shaw, could provide no answer when Nova asked him about why she was experiencing faint memories of her past that should have been wiped clean years ago.
"Look on the bright side," Jim offered, pointing to the vision. "Those memory flashes had benefits too. You were able to recognize that Kelerchian guy and how he helped you into the Ghost Program."
"He was still right about the program being cruel punishment," Nova insisted, as they watched herself and Mal get reacquainted. "I regret being so enthusiastic about being part of it now."
"Yeah well he said you're the most impressive ghost he's seen, and I agree with him. Looks like you're the strongest person known to him, and I agree with that part too."
Nova blushed slightly as she saw the vision of her thoughts having liking the man. Clearly that substance had altered her mind, maybe even changed her back to the way she once was. She had been taught by the Dominion that being close to someone was a sign of weakness, and she was supposed to be a ruthless killing machine with only one purpose: to serve the Dominion without question. She had preferred being alone so that she would have nothing to lose or regret, but clearly the green gas had changed her morals, despite the all too brief exposure.
As the vision flashed to Nova and Mal's meeting with Mengsk, Nova saw that from the vision, Mal still greatly disliked the Dominion emperor. Clearly he did not approve of Mengsk ruling with an iron fist.
The vision changed again, this time Nova saw herself in the settlement of Oasis, Altara. She saw herself and other Dominion ghosts suddenly get attacked, yet it happened so fast that none of them were even able to know what had happened, let alone see their attacker.
"If I had to guess, that's probably the Spectres that Tosh had been telling me about," Raynor commented. "According to him, they were the new breed of ghosts, far superior to the existing ghosts today. Have to admit they're definitely something. You were the top Dominion ghost and even you didn't figure them out right then and there."
"I never doubted their combat potential," the blond ghost replied, as the vision changed to Nova encountering a little girl called Lila. She was terrified when she saw Nova, but upon seeing her friendly gesture, Lila told her of the existence of ShadowBlade.
Seeing the sight made Jim smile. "See Nova? No matter how ruthless the Dominion said you were, there was still compassion in you. During the time Tosh spent on the Hyperion, he said that when it comes to getting information out of little children, Dominion ghosts would just tear the answers right of their heads. Whether the children lived or died from this process, they could care less."
Nova too smiled at the sight as she watched herself interact with the 12 year old girl. Clearly she saw a lot of herself in Lila when she was her age. That smile quickly turned into sadness however, as she saw herself read into Lila's thoughts, where she wanted to be just like her.
"Don't blame yourself," Jim said. "At such a young age, she wouldn't understand anything about the Ghost Program and its details. She only thought it would be an exhilarating ride. Besides, just look at yourself right there. A few years ago, you wanted to go into the Ghost Program without the slightest thought. Now, you were hesitating if you were offered that choice again."
The vision flashed, and Nova saw herself aboard the Palpatine again. Yet this time, she was once against experiencing memory flashes, from the times of the Gutter back on Tarsonis. Nova's eyes widened when she saw herself began to admit to herself that although on the surface, she a stone cold killer and the Dominion's greatest weapon, inside she was still the frightened little girl who wanted things to be back to the way they once were.
She then saw herself being checked up by Dr. Shaw again, and the doctor's explanation of the green gas that seems to have the ability to repair the damage done by memory wipes, as well as heighten hidden psionic abilities, yet Nova suspected that he was hiding something from her.
Jim spoke up. "If that gas really is terrazine and could undo the memory wiping damage, could that mean Tosh's actions had a degree of nobility to it?"
Nova hesitated, but then quickly saw that Jim wasn't accusing her or anything. "It's possible, Jim. Although even now I still have flashes of Spectres being completely psycho and out of control."
As the memories flashed, Nova saw herself speaking with Mal again, heading for Augustgrad aboard the Palpatine, the capital of Korhal. She was unhappy, as she spoke to the wrangler, as the memories that she wanted gone were starting to return. Yet as the blond ghost watched, it made her smile to know that she seemed to care about him.
She saw herself on Korhal, defending the emperor's palace from the Spectre infiltration. She found herself speaking to former Dominion ghosts, now who had converted themselves into Spectres. Yet none of them seemed intent on killing her. Rather, they all voiced the same goal of wanting her to join their cause.
Of all the Spectres that spoke to her, one stood out above the rest: Tosh. Nova lowered her head in guilt as she saw herself and Tosh telepathically arguing, where Tosh showed her visions of their friendship back during the days of the ghost academy, and herself rejecting everything the Spectre was telling her. She accused him of lying to her about Lio Travski of entering the data stream and still being alive, before being caught in one of their traps and the female Spectres Dylanna sprayed her with the green gas, exposing her to the substance once more.
This time however, Nova gasped in horror as she saw herself experience one of the worst memories of what she had done. She saw herself murder a man in cold blood right in front of his wife and child. She saw the wife completely break down, beating on her with her fists for killing her husband, yet the blond ghost saw herself show not even the slightest hint of regret. Instead, she beat the wife with the butt of her rifle, nearly cracking her skull in the process, and simply walked away from the scene, leaving the little boy screaming and crying over the corpse of his father and unconscious mother. She saw the frightened face of that little boy suddenly turn into Lila, and even more scared of her.
Nova saw herself on the ground and surrounded by the Spectres, at their mercy. But instead of shooting her, Tosh offered once more for her to join his cause. She continued to convince herself that she wanted this path of the Dominion ghost because it was a means of escape, of causing the voices of her past to finally be silenced, but Tosh's actions have brought them back.
Yet to her surprise, Nova saw that Tosh did not try and force her to join his cause. He refused to even fight her, and with a bark of an order, all of the Spectres turned around and left for a place called Gehenna Station, leaving Nova alone in her thoughts.
"This only means Tosh wasn't completely psycho," Jim stated, observing the vision with her. "He left you alone because he wanted you to make the choice for yourself."
"It was also when they confirmed the substance they exposed me to was indeed terrazine," Nova said glumly.
"I can see why you requested for me to help you destroy that substance when we first met," the commander said. "Still, it does look like there was a slight benefit from it: the terrazine helped bring some of your memories back, and it looks like you were no longer an unquestioning Dominion servant anymore."
Nova nodded silently, as she watched herself finally begin to question what had really transpired on Shi, and if true, what it meant for her.
Jim snorted at the vision of Mengsk coming out to greet Nova and Mal in the vision. Others may be fooled into thinking he actually cared about his ghost agents, but the rebel commander knew better. Mengsk was ruthless and constantly wanted more power, there was no one he actually cared about in his life other than himself.
His expression then turned into a scowl as he saw Mengsk reveal the information to Nova and Mal: apparently the Dominion had detected the terrazine gas leaking from a world called D-4358, along with Protoss ruins and shrines, thus declaring it a forming Protoss mining colony. It was from there that the emperor had been aware of the substance that the Protoss called "The Breath of Creation".
"See what I mean, Nova?" the commander pointed out. "This is exactly the type of person Mengsk is. Always withholds information from even his top military personnel, keeping it all for himself in the event they could bring him more power someday."
Jim then frowned as the vision changed, and Mengsk began telling Nova and Mal about how Warfield had been called up to head the Dominion project called ShadowBlade. During the Char invasion, the general had shown to be uncomfortable around ghosts, even if they were Dominion ones. Granted the Dominion ghosts were mostly stone cold killers, but now he couldn't help but wonder if Warfield had another reason for this.
"Personally, I don't buy what Mengsk is saying about the terrazine being as addictive and making people go psycho the moment they come in contact with it," he said. "The emperor would say anything to shift the situation to his favor, and we just saw you getting exposed to the terrazine. Certainly you didn't go nuts from it."
"No, but despite my loyalties to him, he began to doubt me," Nova said, disgusted, as the vision changed to Mengsk accusing her of possibly becoming a danger to him due to the terrazine exposure.
"What did you expect?" Jim folded his arms. "It's actually among the reasons why it's not that easy to get close to Mengsk. He's suspicious of almost everyone, and trusts very few people. If it weren't for that, I'm sure he would have been assassinated quite some time ago."
"And I remained somewhat lost after the exposure of the terrazine," the blond ghost said, pointing to the vision where she and Mal spoke again privately. "I had thought the drug would just wear off once I wasn't inhaling it anymore, but the effects were still happening."
Her eyes widened again as she saw Mal named him ship after her, and the realization that she might have deeper feelings for him than just friendship. The thought of it scared her, as due to the memory wipe, her feelings of attachment to other people had vanished. Now, due to the terrazine exposure, those feelings were waking back up.
Whatever it was, clearly her own willpower was not enough to make it disappear. It was almost as if the terrazine had revived a person that had died within her so many years ago.
But Nova did not have a chance to think this over from the vision, as she suddenly saw both her and Mal pass out, apparently having been drugged and tranquilized. When she woke up, she had been chained, with Mal missing.
Raynor clenched his fist in anger. "Hauler? He's the one who did this to you? He is your commanding officer and loyal to the Dominion! Why would he do this?"
But Nova didn't have to answer him. The vision changed to reveal Hauler was in reality Bennett, the ghost agent who had been involved in Project ShadowBlade from the very beginning. He explained to Nova that Mengsk had shut down the project because he thought the ghosts were becoming too powerful, and thus denied him his power.
"The guy may be psycho, but he is right about one thing," Jim stated. "Mengsk has no conscience of his own. Still, from what I'm seeing, I don't think he is the right replacement for the job."
Nova watched in shock as the vision showed Bennett revealed his plans to her: she would turn against the Dominion and abduct Mengsk, where he would be forced to confess his crimes against humanity. This would then be broadcasted to the public via UNN, and the public would demand a change. Bennett had been convinced that this would be the sign for him to take the Dominion throne for himself and rule over Mengsk's empire.
Jim saw Nova's eyes water up as she saw Bennett used the hologram projector to show Mal to the blond ghost, chained to a wall with a marine holding a combat knife to his throat. Bennett demanded that Nova help him with his plans or he would order the marine to execute Mal immediately.
The commander gripped Nova's hand as she saw herself struggle over her duties to the Dominion as well as her feelings for the wrangler. But when she saw the marine slit one of his wrists, she finally broke and agreed to Bennett's request.
"Don't feel bad," he whispered into her ear. "No one would think you were weak in making that choice. All you did there was prove there was humanity in you. If you were completely devoted to the Dominion, nothing Bennett did would have made you even consider his demand. To be human is to care for others, and that's exactly what you did there."
Nova nodded, as she saw herself being led into the surgery room to have her neural inhibitor removed, all the while the rage inside her was peaking. For threatening the only man who meant something to her, she would see Bennett dead.
She then saw Dr. Shaw reveal that his family had worked for hers, but that Nova's psychic scream on Tarsonis had killed them. Immediately she understood the doctor's thirst for revenge. Yet she had been saved by the unlikeliest of allies: Lio Travski. Being part of the data stream, she begged her former ghost comrade to trust her one last time, and he accepted, shutting down the machine to allow her to free herself, taking Mal's ship, the November, and flying to Gehenna Station to save the wrangler. As she exited the ship, she knew she had become a different person. She would no longer honor the ghost pledge of duty of friendship required by the Dominion. Instead, she would save the life of the man who understood her.
The blond ghost saw herself confront Kath Toom, where the Spectre confessed her deep feelings for Tosh, and begged Nova to stop this and join their cause to bring down Mengsk. Nova refused, but just as Travski had honored their frienship, she now chose to honor the friendship between her and Kath, even if she didn't fully remember. Rather than killing her, she left Kath unconscious and took her Spectre suit, as Nova had been deprived of her ghost suit when Bennett had drugged her and Mal.
Upon finding Mal, she was hit with an even shocking news as Bennett killed Kath, but had convinced Tosh that it was her to who did it. Seeing this from the vision only made Nova's blood boil even more, and to Jim, he could understand her rage and hatred for all Spectres.
And then Nova saw the peak of Bennett's experimentation, the one thing that thoroughly convinced her of the abominations that all Spectres were. Jim watched wide eyed as he saw a similar machine when he fought alongside Nova on Avernus Station: the Psionic Waveform Indoctrinator.
But unlike the one on Avernus, the ones in the vision were far more diabolical and sinister looking. Dozens, most likely hundreds, of upright glass chambers filled with liquid terrazine, with wires and tubes protruding from their tops, stood in front of her. Beside them were hundreds of stasis chambers, most of them with a human test subject inside.
The commander felt sick to his stomach as he watched the vision with Nova. Those were human beings, but Bennett treated them as little more than mindless puppets. He watched as Bennett explained to Nova how with the usage of jorium and terrazine, anyone with even the slightest psionic potential could be turned into a powerful Spectre, where they would all be led by one mind: himself.
Threatening Mal yet again, Bennett demanded that Nova get inside one of those chambers and be converted to a Spectre. Yet once again, Nova begged her former ghost comrade Lio to help her, to feed the footage to Tosh and let him see for himself what kind of a monster he was serving.
The ploy had worked. Tosh had come, enraged at what Bennett had done, and in his moment of distraction, unleashed a psychic attack that shattered most of the glass chambers, including the one that Nova was in. Seizing the opportunity, the blond ghost telekinetically sent a massive stalactite right above Bennett to fall, killing him instantly.
Nova saw as the reactors were about to go critical and Gehenna Station was about to explode due to the outside attack from the Dominion Annihilator Division, she was at the mercy of Tosh, too badly weakened to fight effectively anymore. Yet once again, Tosh refused to show any signs of hostility towards her. Instead, he offered her yet again to join his side and take up arms against the Dominion. She looked away in guilt as she saw herself promising to join up with him after she gets Mal to the infirmary. Yet once both she and Mal had recovered enough, they both decided to return to the Dominion. Despite finally seeing the imperfections of the Dominion, she felt the path of the Spectre was simply not suited for her.
She saw herself rejecting Mal's suggestion to have her implant removed so that they could disappear forever, but even though she had seen what had happened on Shi, the blond ghost still had a duty to pledge her life to the Dominion. Yet she smiled a little when she saw herself make one final act of compassion: she suggested to Mal to return to Altara for the 12 year old girl Lila, and to find a safer place for her, so she wouldn't wind up in the cruelness of the Dominion Ghost Program as she had.
Yet all this was upset by the last vision she saw. Upon returning to the Dominion, despite the congratulations she had received from Mengsk, the emperor ordered yet another memory wipe to her mind. Yet this one would be different than the others, one where she would retain some of the memory of the Spectres debacle as she had reported to him that Tosh had not been neutralized. Rather, it would be one that would suppress her feelings of compassion towards others, and reverting her to the stone killer she was supposed to be. With regards to the Spectres, they had been manipulated in such a way so that she would automatically believe every Spectre is a homicidal psychopath, though this took little effort on the Dominion's part.
At this point, she felt the psionic energies around her began to wane, as the Dark Templar released his grip on looking deep into her mind and memories.
"It is done, James Raynor," Ataldis announced. "My actions have allowed the female terran Nova Terra to regain the memories of her past. I can see from the expression on her that some of them were not pleasant ones to relive."
"Thanks for your help, Ataldis," Jim replied. "If you'll excuse us, I believe now is a time for recuperation for her for having those memories awakened again."
The Alysaar bowed deeply before complying, turning around and walking deeper into the Dark Templar Shrine, leaving Jim and Nova alone with their own thoughts.
Author's Note: All right so this chapter's ending may seem a little bit off, but I was trying to explain some on Nova's character. For those of you who have read the books Starcraft Ghost: Nova and Starcraft Ghost: Spectres, I just basically crammed as much as I could of those two books from Nova's POV in there.
Don't forget, Nova was supposed to be the main character for the game Starcraft: Ghost, before Blizzard shelved it. She is actually a lot more complicated of a character than you may expect.
To Blackhole1, you and I talked it over and you had said that you had developed Nova in your fic a lot more than you thought you would. I'd like you remind you something that you may have overlooked:
Although the Wings of Liberty Campaign is 26 missions long, you don't actually have to play all 26 missions to beat the game. If you were only trying to beat the game as fast as you can, only 18 out of the 26 missions need to be completed. This means that you don't actually have to go to the New Folsom mission to meet up with Nova for the first time. In fact, you don't even have to go to Redstone III to meet Tosh. And in any case you only get her for one mission, assuming you even choose her.
On the other hand, Blizzard made it clear that she definitely has a part to play in Heart of the Swarm. This means that even if you're not going to fight alongside her, you certainly will have to fight against her.
In additions the actions she took in Wings of Liberty aren't exactly as black and white as you think. If you had read the book Starcraft Ghost: Spectres, you would know that Tosh isn't actually the bad guy regardless of who you side with in the New Folsom branch mission. You can argue about reading the recap off the SC wikia, but those leave out smaller details that can be important, and they certainly don't capture the emotional aspect of the matter.
Nova's character will continue to be developed as the fic progresses. You're free to take whatever you want out of my fic and put it into Nova's character for yours, just acknowledge me for it and we'll call it even.