"What is thy bidding, my master?"
"Lord Vader, you are later than I expected you."
Vader knelt down in front of the emperor, biting back a scathing retort. He was indeed later than expected - he had decided to follow a lead meant to bring him to general Jan Dodonna. The maneuver had turned out to be a desperate trap, one Vader's death squadron handled with utmost prejudice.
"I was waylaid, my master. The Rebels-"
"Are of no concern, Lord Vader. Their hero is slain, their remaining holdouts pushed to hiding and desperate traps. They are no longer of concern!" Palpatine spat.
Vader listened, though less to the words and more the tone. He had heard this from the emperor before, but before now, he had sensed none of the urgency and anger he sensed now from Palpatine.
The empire had defeated the rebels badly at Hoth, the remaining members nearly no threat to the galactic empire. The plans for the second death star - something that had been delayed for some time - were mothballed in favor of several new Executor-class star dreadnoughts for the time being, with plans to start on a new death star once the economic state of the empire flourished again, free of the rebellion's incessant buzzing.
The Galactic Empire was at peace, it's enemies crushed and their figureheads broken.
So what, then, could trouble Palpatine in such a manner?
Instead of asking that question, however, Lord Vader inclined his head. "I understand, my master. What would you ask of me, then?"
Palpatine's gaze mollified, satisfied with the lack of resistance on Vader's part.
"I'm sending you to a part of the Unknown regions. I require you to go there and investigate a specific coordinate. It has been sent to the Executor's computer. You will make haste - I will not tolerate interruption in your course."
"Yes, my master…" Vader paused for a moment, aware of how to mollify the emperor, before continuing. Allowing a short pause between a request, after an acknowledgement of acceptance, caused his master to be more malleable. Vader believed it to be due to Palpatine's own ego, his generosity increasing once it was properly stroked.
Vader wondered if Palpatine himself was aware of this fact. Perhaps he was truly unaware… Or, perhaps, he was aware and simply made no move to correct this flaw.
"More information would allow my investigation to continue much faster..." Vader said, keeping his voice low and tone respectful.
Palpatine's leer decreased. "Yes…" Palpatine replied, pausing before finally saying his own piece.
"You are looking for a planet. The inhabitants will name it… Korhal."
Vader nodded, silently reflecting. Palpatine was withholding information from him, that was certain. He understood his master's mannerisms, and he hadn't seen him this guarded, this tense, since the destruction of the death star.
But this was different from the white-hot rage that had followed the death star's destruction.
This was not anger. this was fear.
He had experienced a vision. And whatever he had seen caused him fear.
Vader came to agree with his master. Whatever it was Palpatine had seen in the Koprulu sector, it behooved him to make haste.
He was either going to find the key to taking the throne from Palpatine, once and for all… Or, alternatively, the possibility of the destruction of the Galactic empire.
Either way, his force-attuned senses told him that Korhal was going to be an important moment in his life.
The Overmind: The heart of the zerg. In essence, the Overmind truly was the zerg, for all zerg followed his will. From the Haughtiest Cerebrate to the smallest Larva, all zerg existed only to serve his will. To disobey his wishes: Impossible. To go against his orders: unthinkable, in the literal sense of the word. Even his cerebrates, given a separate sentience outside of his own, were truly only minute fractions of the Overmind's will given form. The zerg themselves did not truly exist without the overmind, and the Overmind did not truly exist without the zerg.
Thus it was that when the overmind sensed a warp signature unlike any other it had felt, bristling with weapons and armor the equal of a protoss vessel, the cerebrates could feel the nervousness the Overmind felt, a feeling passed down through their psychic link.
As one, responding to the calling they felt reverberate through their being, they moved themselves to a conference room in whatever hive or wasteland they were situated within at the time. Bio-organic electricity powered view-screens and audio feeds made entirely of living matter, and the cerebrates responded to their master.
The wormlike cerebrates gathered in their viewing room, the large, segmented creatures paying attention to the different screens that showed their kin and comrades from across the stars.
"I have seen a power, controlling the stars. His strength is vast and dark, like a black hole among the stars. He leads an empire, more massive even than our own, and if left unchecked, he will destroy the swarm."
Zasz was the first to respond. "Stronger than the swarm? Impossible. We are without number. we-" Zasz found himself suddenly silenced, the psionic power of the overmind briefly washing over him.
"His army is vast. Their ships bristling with weaponry… and their psychic power unique. Their leader's power is beyond the level of even the protoss."
Zasz immediately calmed, more willing to understand what the overmind had to say. In truth, Zasz had realized it's error the moment the Overmind had silenced him. Despite their odd and often eccentric personalities, the cerebrates had always been allowed to speak their mind in front of the Overmind, even if the Overmind himself disagreed, and he was indulgent to a fault. This was in part because of the fact the Overmind, despite it's wish to assimilate all into the zerg, was not itself possessed of anger or avarice, save when it came to harm that came to the zerg themselves. When speaking to the cerebrates, it's kin and intellectual peers, no malice was ever present. It was also in part due to the Overmind's understanding that listening to different viewpoints helped it broaden and strengthen it's own intelligence. If it felt the need to be this forceful with it's viewpoint.
"I apologize. It is not the right of a cerebrate to contradict the overmind."
The Overmind continued, unapologetic for it's forcefulness. Without malice it might be, but it was also without apology for it's own actions - save when they were of detriment to the swarm. It took a moment, thinking of what to propose next, before speaking.
"A force sent by these beings has been sent towards the terran world of Korhal, Probing at the edges of our influence. We will watch firsthand how they react upon meeting the terrans…" The Overmind said, allowing a brief pause to himself before continuing.
"I feel the Chrysalis coming to completion. And yet many broods are on char, capable of keeping the chrysalis safe. Perhaps it is time the young one broadened it's understanding of the universe." The Overmind mused.
The creature in question made a simple motion with it's tail to respond. The cerebrate in question was young, having yet to earn a name at it's tender age. The purple markings of it's shell marked it as among the Jormungand brood cerebrates.
"You will bring a force towards one of the moons orbiting Korhal. Stay out of detection range of the terran forces located there, and monitor the situation. Prepare your forces for travel through the warp." the Overmind commanded.
Daggoth, at this point, spoke up. "Allow me to send some of my forces with the young cerebrate as well. It will give the cerebrate some experience of working with other broods… as well as allowing for someone with experience to oversee the cerebrate's first mission of such scope."
"Yes… As you have said, Daggoth, someone with experience will be necessary. Find the keystone to our final victory. Work with the young cerebrate, analyze every chink within their armor, every flaw within their mind. We will exploit every one of them in turn… Cause pain using every weakness, and making every strength our own. For We are Zerg."