Note: This was written in a rush, hence very few descriptions.

If you have difficulty imagining how everything looks like, just Google ;)


The Sleeper Awakes


Command Centre, Dominion archaeological dig site, desert world PX22 …

...

"This tomb must NOT be opened !" Furin shouted, his wide eyes flaring bright blue. Actually, it was more of a forceful thought wave than a shout, since without a mouth, like all Protoss, his main mode of communication was telepathic. All the same, the impact was significant, as seen from the reaction of the middle aged human sitting opposite him across the table.

It took a second for Colonel Harry Philips to regain his breath and settle back into a comfortable posture in his seat. Trying to hide his uneasiness he glanced sideways at alien now sitting before him, and then asked, "Tomb ?"

The blue glare in Furin's eyes softened. "A tomb indeed. What lies beneath this ground, this complex you are trying to excavate, does not contain an artifact of the Forefathers, as you had believed, but houses something else, an ancient evil that must not be awakened."

Philips slowly turned his head down while keeping his gaze on the Protoss. "And I should believe you because ?"

Furin remained silent for a moment, then gestured towards the men standing behind the colonel. "Consider this, is your curiosity worth your lives ?"

Philips heard murmurings from behind him. He raised a hand, and waited for those murmurs to die down, before lowering it with a sigh. "I know what you mean, but we have our orders. This isn't some private enterprise that we can call off and and continue somewhere else. This … is …"

"Sir…" It was Tyler, his assistant.

Philips turned slightly and cut him off with a wave of his hand. "They already know why we're here, there's no harm telling."

He then faced Furin again, and continued, "The Dominion has a lot invested in these projects. I'm not familiar with the scientific details, but I know there's a lot more at stake here than just awards and profits. The military, that's us, our job here is precisely to put our lives on the line so that the others can complete their job in peace. We cannot leave until everything's done. You see ?"

Furin now stood up, and turned so that he was looking away from the Colonel. Behind him, the other Protoss warriors standing in the conference room kept their eerie bioluminescent gaze fixed upon the Terrans. "I respect your dedication to your warrior duty … Colonel Philips. Such a shame … for you leave me with no choice."

"Sir …" It was Tyler again, this time with a slightly more urgent tone.

Philips spread an arm to one side. On the battlefield it would be recognized as a 'hold' command. He hastily stood up as well. "Wait, maybe you can tell us more about this … 'ancient evil'."

Before Furin could answer, everyone in the room was startled by an ear piercing alarm klaxon. With a jump, the Protoss entered into battle ready stances. The Terrans, on the other hand, just stared urgently at various directions.

Philips waited for the alarm to decrease in volume, then, "What the hell !"

"Sir ! Zerg forces inbound ! " Tyler exclaimed.

"What ? How many ? How far ?" Philips spun round to face his assistant, who was pressing a finger against his earpiece and listening as new reports streamed in through the coms.

Nodding, Tyler leaned over the table and entered a command on the virtual keypad projected on its surface. Several display screens flickered into life on the surface of the table, displaying live footage captured by security cameras installed at various perimeter outposts.

Every Terran in the room gasped in shock while the Protoss took a step back in their own gesture of surprise, all except Furin, who saw in this sudden turn of events, a chance to fulfill his own purpose for coming here. "Colonel, my forces will assist in the evacuation if you allow us. Decide quickly, for the Zerg will give you no time to make plans."

"I know. That's why we always plan ahead." Philips turned to all the Terran officers. "Emergency evacuation protocols. You know what to do. And unless otherwise instructed, you are to consider any Protoss presence in the dig site as allies."

"Yes, Sir !" Said officers saluted and walked briskly out of the room, through a door at the side.

As if on an unvoiced telepathic command from Furin, the Protoss warriors exited the room as well.

As both commanders followed the crowd out of the room, Philips shook his head and sighed, "I can't believe this is happening. The higher-ups are going to have my head for this." He glared at Furin "When this is over, I want to know exactly what's going on."

"Certainly." Came the telepathic reply from the former Taldarim leader.


Several hours later …

...

Over hills of rubble covered in creep as far as the eye could see, packs of zerglings, hydralisks, roaches and other monstrous figures roamed and rummaged past crumpling buildings, crushed vehicles, and downed aircraft. The sky was darkened by a thick blanket of smoke sent up in columns by the fires below, like the gloomy lower canopy of an ethereal ash-coloured forest. To the random observer, it may appear just like any other abandoned Terran facility overrun by the Zerg, but there was something different in this scene, and it was not just due to the occasional piece of golden Protoss machinery jutting out of the ruins, nor the enormous black cave opening into the cliff face of the nearby plateau, which the Zerg had also occupied.

Amongst the common Swarm creatures, there walked the Hybrids, easily distinguished from the other Zerg underlings by their hulking stature and their coloration: blue bioluminescent stripes over dark purple skin rather than dark brown and black.

Presently, these nightmarish amalgams of Protoss and Zerg features stopped their foraging and looked up as the Voice spoke into their minds again.

"My children, the moment of truth has arrived. We have secured every underground tunnel and chamber. There remains but one task.

For within this tomb there lie the living relics from before the Previous Cycle.

Millions of years ago, long before the Protoss, Zerg or Terrans appeared, the First Ones were already wandering the stars. They were nearing the end of their life spans, and searching for a suitable species to inherit their civilization.

Along the way, they came across the Old Ones, a species of warlike predators. Physiologically, they were the most highly evolved beings ever seen, but they reveled in violence and slaughter. Their incessant wars had wrought irreversible damage to their homeworld. The latter had become increasingly inhospitable to life, and the Old Ones had yet to develop the technology to travel faster than light. Some of them placed themselves in stasis and were sent out across the stars aboard primitive spaceships to colonise new worlds. These Sleepers were never heard from again, until now.

After rescuing the remaining Old Ones from their homeworld, the First Ones shared their knowledge. Some even entered into symbiosis with the Old Ones. In doing so they hoped to create the successor species they had been looking for. It worked out well for some time, but nothing lasts forever. Those of them who managed to escape the effects of the Schism travelled here, to this sector, and the cycle started over again.

Pitiful cursed Old Ones. Even till their end, even as their own creations turned against them, they foolishly clung to their ideals.

The beings imprisoned within this complex, embody the very traits that the Old Ones had tried to eliminate from themselves, in their pursuit of "perfection" which they had taken over from the First Ones.

Having incorporated the most dreaded and terrible traits from the Protoss and Zerg into us, it is only natural, that we seek out the most feared amongst the Old Ones, and assimilate them …

And then … we shall be … unstoppable … "


Meanwhile, in geostationary orbit over the dig site …

...

"Yulyn, does this signal look familiar to you ?" The Jaridian Chief Operator called out from his control seat.

"Definitely is." Beside him, a tall, grey-haired figure with a youthful looking face ( indistinguishable from that of a human except for his sharper brow ridges ) stepped into view, studied the holographic display before them, then pointed at a smaller adjacent display. "Karvak, look."

"Let's see … massive congregation of life-signs near the location of the Sleeper ship … possible signs of advanced technology, but none of those seem functional." Karvak rubbed his chin for a while. "Probably just some superstitious natives." He turned towards Yulyn. "Your call."

Without hesitation, Yulyn replied. "Bring it up."

Karvak nodded, and his scaly fingers danced over the holographic display, which changed from the image of a fluctuating waveform into a set of rings which moved in response to his hand gestures. "Tractor beam locked … on."

The Operator closed one hand into a fist, then pulled it back slowly and steadily as if pulling an invisible lever. The virtual display screen which he had been manipulating changed once again into a bird's eye view of a planet's surface, except that this "bird" was flying so high it could see half a continent if its range of vision was wide enough. Not much to see anyway. It was snow-capped mountains, deserts and clouds everywhere.

From somewhere in this image a black dot appeared, which became larger and larger, until its shape became discernible. A metallic dark green sphere with faint knobs and bands, giving the impression of a curled up trilobite. It seemed to be drifting up towards the viewer until it blocked out the entire view, then moved off the side of the screen and disappeared. Soon after, a purple string of characters flashed across the screen.

Karvak unclenched his fist and his whole posture became more relaxed. "It's in. You should probably go have a look."

Behind him there came cheers of joy, followed by excited footsteps.

Yulyn smiled and turned to follow the other Jaridians out of the control room, leaving the operators to man the stations.

They had done this several times before, but every encounter was a different experience. Over eight million years of divergent evolution had made sure of that. Of course, most of the time their discoveries proved too dangerous to interact with and had to be placed under continued stasis. This time was likely no exception. Still, the additions made to the gene pool have been very very helpful in re-invigorating the species.

When Yulyn had first arrived at the Atavus homeworld, he was disappointed to find that it had become completely different from what was told in the old legends which he had heard while living on Earth, where he was born. Most of the nearby habitable worlds were occupied by the Jaridian Imperium. It took a long while to gain the Jaridians' trust with the help of his human friends, for Liam to regain his Kimera abilities and help the Jaridians to join with the Taelon Commonality, and to convince everyone to start searching for the other Atavus offshoots scattered throughout the universe.

Hundreds of years later, that search had brought them to the Koprulu Sector.

Of course, at present they did not know that name, nor the surprises that awaited them in this region of space.


Protoss Mothership, also in geostationary orbit over PX22 …

...

"It seems we have left somebody behind." Furin pointed at a small dot within the virtual 3 dimensional tactical display, a glowing cloud projected into the air from below, perforated by thin lines and markers.

"Impossible, both ours and the Terrans' forces have been accounted for." A telepathic voice from nearby replied. "Let me ascertain their identity."

"There is no time. Look." Furin pointed at the same spot inside the glowing cloud again. Where there was just one white dot, there was now a mass of red dots approaching said white dot from the surface of a large dome at the side of the display. "Initiate warp Recall. Isolate that vessel and bring it within our cloaking field immediately."

"Right away."

A moment of silence, and then Furin issued another psychic command.

"Concentrate all power to the Purifier beam, target what's left of the Terran dig site. Let's get this over with."


Back in the Atavus bioship ...

...

"We've got incoming, from planetside !" One of the operators sounded off, breaking the peaceful atmosphere within the control room.

"What ?" Karvak brushed a hand over his control table to reactivate the display screen. The latter showed the same view of the planet's surface as when he was using the tractor beam. Turning said hand, he enlarged the display screen so that everyone in the bridge could see it.

The operators stared hard at the image, and then gasped.

Against the backdrop of desert, mountains and clouds seen from outer space, there appeared a swarm of black dots drifting towards them. In no time, said objects were close enough to cover the whole screen, and the operators swore as they saw the true appearance of each creature that made up the swarm.

"Shields up !" Karvak shouted just in time as a series of tremors rippled through the control room, while the display screen flickered in between images of fangs, claws, orange glowing eyes and leathery wings.

"Multiple impacts … shields still holding … they … they're throwing themselves at us !" Someone from a nearby workstation exclaimed.

"Arm Weapons !" Karvak ordered, while slamming his palm onto the bottom centre of the purple translucent crystal pane that made up the upper surface of his control table.

"Emergency jump sequence ... " An emotionless female voice, mild yet clear, was heard throughout the bioship.

At once every neo-Atavus and Jaridian aboard the living space vessel clung to the walls of whatever corridor, chamber or compartment they happened to be in, allowing safety tendrils to wrap around them, in preparation for what was about to happen next.

...

Outside, a halo of swirling purplish glowing haze engulfed the bioship and quickly condensed it into a cloud of ethereal purple-winged fireflies, emitting a bright stellar light. This sudden transformation temporarily blinded and disoriented the Scourge, which hurtled off in random directions like angry hornets dispersed by smoke. The mutalisks and corruptors drifted slowly away but continued to vomit streams of acid and explosive pellets towards the purple cloud, which neither broke nor reflected the incoming projectiles. Instead, the cloud imploded into a spiral vortex which shrank rapidly until it completely vanished, leaving nothing but empty space.


"What was that ?" Yulyn asked as he came in running through the control room's oval doorway.

"We were under attack by an army of ... creatures." Karvak flicked a finger over the display screen to rewind the footage of said "creatures". "Seems I was wrong about them being 'superstitious' natives."

Yulyn starred at the footage in disbelief. "Are those ... wings ?"

"... in space." Karlak nodded.

A moment of silence. Then Yulyn took a deep breath, and let it out. As he did so, his expression became calmer. "OK, I'll try to digest that later ... so, where are we now ?"

"In astronomical terms, just right next to where we were moments ago." Karlak waved a hand over the display screen, which changed into a simple image of thin white arcs, lines and dots against a totally black background. "All hostile forces are retreating back into the atmosphere. It seems there's a limit to how far those creatures can fly."

"Either that, or they somehow can't see us." Yulyn nodded.

"That's also possible." Karvak studied the map intently. "Their life signs are dispersing, even the ones on the ground, probably off in search of something."

"Or running away from something." Yulyn added.

The Jaridian chief operator chuckled, and shook his head, "what would I do without you ..." He slowly turned one hand, causing the background of the image to change from completely black to varying gradients of white to grey to black, like ink dispersing over a sheet of wet white paper. He pointed to a region of the map which had remained as a conspicuous cluster of pitch-black shapes, and then snapped his finger, causing the screent to switch to a view of the outside in that direction.

A small moon and stars in the background, some tiny space debris, the barely perceptible glow of the planet's atmosphere the bottom right of the screen ... and nothing else.

"There's some things there ... massive, and close by, but where are they ?" Karvak moved his finger slightly left and right. The view onscreen shifted in the respective directions as well, but still nothing ...

And then a huge object flashed into view at the middle of a screen, like a lamp being pulled up from the abyss. Bands of bright blue light flowed off the object to reveal what looked like a transparent dome rimmed by a golden ring. Three arches jutted out at regular intervals along the ring. From each of these, a giant golden claw curved towards the top of the dome, probably a support. Within the dome finer structures could be seen. The whole thing was rotating slowly in space, oriented in such a way that the bottom of the dome faced the planet's surface.

Yulyn was to first to recover from his shock. He reached into the bottom of the display screen with his hand and spread his palm slowly, magnifying the image of the alien object ( object is misleading, since judging by first impression it was probably larger than their own ship. ) "What do you think, a ship ?"

In response, scaly fingers traced a curve at the bottom of the display screen, and the image brightened momentarily. The next moment, rolls of fine text and indicators appeared at one side of the screen. "Many life signs ..." Karvak paused in the middle of his reading. "Strange ... it's emitting energy signatures similar to the ones given off by our crystals."

The "crystals" were a colloquial reference to the basis of Jaridian, and old Atavus technology. The ship that they were currently operating was an amalgamation of that, and technology developed by the Taelons. A giant organism composed of modified living tissue growing over a crystal skeleton.

If that alien ship contained "crystals" similar to their own ...

"What does that mean ?"

"I do not know. We found a Sleeper ship here, so the inhabitants of this sector probably have some connections to the old Atavus." Karvak narrowed his eyes in thought. "And I have a feeling that they're connected in a rather complicated way.

Presently, a bright blue glow expanded out from the underside of the alien ship. Small compared to the ship itself, but probably . The next moment, a straight column of blue fire with a pure white core shot out from the centre of said glow towards the surface of the planet.

Moving his finger towards where the energy beam was pointing, Karvak shifted the view onscreen to the beam's target, then spread his other fingers to magnify the image. It was the same spot from which they had extracted the stasis chamber of the Sleeper ship a while ago.

Yulyn's eyes widened as he beheld the bird's eye view of the destruction being wrought. "Yes, very complicated."


A/N:

By now you're probably aware that I barely ever update my stories.

If you wish to use the same idea, go ahead. You'll probably do a better job than I … XP

-BQ