A/N: Hello people, readers, reviewers, commenters from the peanut gallery, etc, etc.
...Ok, before anyone asks, I am aware that an awful lot of stories have been disappearing from my profile lately. The truth is, my writing has been fraught with problems lately, from my own mistakes with stories to having my flash drive stolen. My beta reader (Mark Ryan) has really helped with the first one, but he seems to be AWOL at the moment. So this story will be written without a beta reader, so it won't be quite as good as my other currently going stories, but don't expect it to be horrible. I REFUSE to let this turn into a certain other failed war fic of mine.
As always, reviews, suggestions, and questions are welcome.
Now, without further ado...
Phantoms of the Present
For the longest time, the Republic believed itself to be a sovereign nation, the top of the food chain. They never suspected that this would be disproved by a far smaller interstellar nation.
They began to get an inkling when they discovered that they knew less about the galaxy than they thought.
In the midst of the Clone Wars, a Republic cruiser was damaged as it entered hyperspace. The vessel flew far off course, and into the unknown regions of space...
...and into the Koprulu Sector.
The Sector was not the same as it had been 25 years earlier. To understand how the meeting went so differently than it would have during the Second Great War, or even the Brood War, one would have to look at its history.
For one, the Second Great War was long over, as was the long struggle between Raynor's Raiders and the Terran Dominion. Emperor Mengsk's precious Dominion was already burning to ashes around him once evidence surfaced that he had ordered the massacre on Tarsonis. The dissolution of Mengsk's propaganda with the salvation of the Queen of Blades was the final nail in the coffin, from the political standpoint.
Militarily, the Dominion did not fall for nearly two years. It fell to pieces with the start of the Hybrid War. With all of the turmoil going on within the former empire, the Dominion could not even mount a proper defense of the core worlds. Korhal itself was taken within weeks, and the Emperor was forced to flee. For the second time, Korhal was burned to ashes by an orbiting fleet, though this fleet consisted of pseudo Xel'naga ships instead of battlecruisers.
The remaining worlds of the shattered Dominion, as well as the remnants of the Kel-morian Combine and the Umojan Protectorate, looked to James Raynor for salvation.
And he delivered.
At each of the planets in need, Raynor's Raiders appeared in a sight that had never been seen before, and has never been seen since.
He came with Protoss ships and Zerg swarms in tow, both as allies.
The Hybrids, powerful as they were, and relatively numerous as they were, could not stand against the combined might of three races. Terran ingenuity and wit, Protoss power, and Zerg adaptability joined together and pushed back each of the Hybrid fleets. They drove them back to the planet where the Dark Voice himself resided, Zhakul.
The library world died in a raging storm of lightning, fire, and blood. The fallen Xel'naga himself was slain by the Dark Prelate, Zeratul.
Surprisingly many survivors of all three races were left. It was up to them to pick up the pieces.
The Zerg did not stay for long. Kerrigan sent a cryptic message to the Hyperion, Raynor's flagship, (the contents of which are unknown to any who did not serve aboard that ship to this day) and fled. Every last living Zerg disappeared with her. It was a sad day indeed for the hunters on Mar Sara, as even the Zerg buried there vanished, with the only trace of their presence being discarded carapace and abandoned, buried dens. To this day, not an iota of Zerg activity has been seen in the Koprulu sector since that day.
The Protoss were truly diminished, with nearly 10% more of their population dead. With only 20% of their once vast empire still intact, they sought to return to their homeworld of Aiur, which had been abandoned by the Zerg.
The Protoss' sense of pride had been completely and utterly shattered by what had happened. A human had become the savior of their race, but their empire was in ruins and few of their people remained. What was left of their race had nothing left but broken spirits.
The Terrans were little better off. All three of the Koprulu sector's nations had fallen, not that they were really missed. The Kel-morians and Dominion had been especially cruel to their citizens.
Many looked for an answer from Raynor himself, but none came. Instead, the captain of his flagship, Matthew Horner, stepped forward. At a convention of ambassadors from nearly every major planet in the sector, he proposed the formation of a single, overarching republic of planets, the United Systems. It would be ruled, not by a single person, but by the people. Though a President would lead the nation, he would be chosen by the people, and his power would be limited by the Interplanetary Senate, which, in turn, was made up of elected officials from each of the System worlds. In honor of the lives lost in the first Great War, the planet Tarsonis was chosen as the capital of the new nation. Korhal, on the other hand, became what Tarsonis had once been. No resettlement operation was undertaken. Instead, only salvaging operations found there way there. A statue of some of the Raiders' senior commanders was made from the cannibalized scrap of the former Emperor Mengsk's palace. It stands in front of the Senate building in New Gettysburg, the capital of Tarsonis and, by extension, the entire United Systems.
The Hybrid War had changed both the Terrans and the Protoss. They had all fought alongside each other, even died alongside each other. Each now had respect for the abilities of the other. The Terrans lended what aid they could to Aiur's people. The Protoss, in turn, accepted the help, something none of them had ever done (or needed to have done) before.
This was the world that the Republic cruiser dropped into.
As far as first contacts go, it could have been much worse. The stable US government was prepared for first contact situations. They immediately offered their help to the clones.
Needless to say, they were shocked and awestruck when told the scale and scope of the Republic. A nation that ruled nearly half of the galaxy was, at the very least, surprising, as was the density of habitable planets there.
The Koprulu sector had many star systems within it. But only a relative handful of these were either habitable or within the parameters of terraniformation. The Republic was already bigger than the entire sector, and it seemed that every other star system held a planet with its own indigenous species. The clones and commanders aboard the cruiser were shocked at the apparent utter lack of species besides humans in the Koprulu sector. Citing security issues, particularly with the now endangered Protoss, the Zerg, and Protoss were not revealed. Nor was Earth stated to be humanity's homeworld or the UED mentioned.
Other facts about the newly discovered nation, however, left a sour taste in the US' collective mouth. One of these was its government system.
After the contact, the two nations began to learn more about each other. It was soon learned that the Republic was anything but what it was named for. Sure, its main governmental body was the Senate, but the government had the power to do essentially anything it wanted, so long as its senators agreed. The opinions of anyone not involved in government were completely irrelevant. The United Systems hoped to find a worthy cause in the CIS, but were only partially successful. While the base of the Independent Systems was indeed like that of the Raynor's Raiders back in the day, the leadership could not care less about the freedom of its people.
With this in mind, the US tentatively offered help against the CIS forces. The partnership led to more discoveries between the two nations.
The first was how vastly different their ways of war were.
The US military was a laughingstock at the start of the conflict. Their ships, though impressively armored, had no true shielding. The defensive matrix used by battlecruisers could only be online for minutes at a time before the power drain became too great. Their laser weapons were unable to reach their full potential as well. Even the adjutants used in all military installations could not activate their full potential for fear of overloading. In fact, the entire Terran military was fraught with a single flaw.
Insufficient power generation.
Even the mighty Titan reactor, for which the later introduced Titan-class battlecruiser was named, could not power a matrix for the duration of a battle or constantly fire a Yamato cannon. Nor could Wraith fighters or Banshees stay cloaked indefinately.
As it turns out, however, the Terrans had the last laugh when an expeditionary force of only six Behemoth-class battlecruisers and a complement of Spirits (see US military info below) were able to completely annihilate a CIS fleet more than three times its size. Planetside, the US Marines, who had been grossly underestimated due to their clunky, primitive looks, took out entire platoons of droids with few or no losses.
The introduction of the Terrans to the galactic stage posed a severe threat to another faction in the Republic...the Sith.
Chancellor Palpatine became increasingly worried as the war went on. True, he did not want the CIS to win, but their being destroyed outright would ruin his plans. At the same time, he would blow his cover if he conveyed any zealous dislike of the United Systems.
At last, Palpatine received a break.
During a raid on a CIS weapons plant, a squad of prototype droid commandos attacked the invading force. The commandos were much like the model currently used, but possessed an experimental cloaking system, used equally experimental high powered railguns, and were built on a black chassis. Despite this, the raid was successful, as the clones even discovered the plans for a devastating superweapon, the specifics of which are highly classified.
However, many soldiers noted the uncanny resemblance between the commandos and rarely seen US Spectre operatives. Truthfully, the design similarities were only coincidental. The CIS merely used a similar build because of universal pluses to it. The black was simply due to the fact that it was the base color of the metal, they had not been painted because of their experimental status. Nonetheless, Palpatine was able to spin it into suspicion towards the United Systems, though they predictably denied having anything to do with the separatists.
The final straw came, however, when the Sith began outright sharing information. It was a great risk, but the failure of his plan, a long running one at that, was a greater one. He began subtly leading the CIS to attack outposts that US ships had recently left, or had recently received information about. The Chancellor was never suspected.
Meanwhile, despite the United Systems once again denying involvement, the Republic cut their ties with the Terran nation and declared war on them, believing that they were in league with the separatists.
In truth, the Terrans were very much confused as to the situation, but they kept up hostilities with any and all CIS forces. Palpatine's gamble had come too little, too late. Beginning to see everything crumble around him, Darth Sideous took one last, desperate chance, trying to win over Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker.
In a different case, the plan would have worked. But the Chancellor did not have the luxury of waiting for his "capture" and beginning to put Anakin in a state of emotional turmoil. The gamble failed miserably. It was not long before the young jedi reported his thoughts on Palpatine being a Sith. Soon Jedi Master Windu and other masters came to arrest the Chancellor. Though he was able to kill two of them, the Sith was overwhelmed by Windu. Palpatine tried to kill the Jedi Master with force lightning, but the deadly force was merely reflected back at him. The Sith was fried in a wave of his own energy. Though Skywalker had planned on accompanying Windu despite being told to do otherwise, he decided not to due to a crisis emerging elsewhere with an attack by a dying and desperate CIS fleet on Coruscant, as well as urging by his Padawan, Ashoka Tano.
With the would-be Emperor's death, any hope of a CIS victory died as well. Even with the Republic and United Systems at war with each other, neither halted hostilities against them. Soon, little was left but the Nemoidian worlds, the sole holdout left in the former Confederacy of Independent Systems.
With the startling revelation that the Chancellor had been a Sith, the Jedi realized that the leaks of information had come from him, not from the Terrans, who they had believed to sympathize with the CIS, with them being rebels. The Senate, though, was another story. Few of them believed that Palpatine was capable of distributing information on that scale, despite his being a Sith.
However, the strength of the United Systems could not be denied. Strings of victories forced the Republic to offer a cease-fire, which the US eventually accepted. However, the Republic had lost several worlds to the Terrans, all of which they held after the cease-fire. The Republic was now fighting an enemy that had successfully carved its sphere of influence into them. Having their worlds under another nation's control did not sit well with the Republic.
It was only a matter of time before the thread snapped, as everyone knew.
A/N: In keeping with what I normally do, here is some changes that have been done in the 25 year lapse between Starcraft 2 and this story to the Terran military.
Marines- The United Systems government soon realized that many of the problems within it's military were caused by the simple fact that nearly 80% of their soldiers were convicted killers, or guilty of other crimes. It had been assumed by the Confederates and Dominion that threatening military service would reduce crime. However, they did not realize just how far from the truth it was. To some criminals, it was a bonus: kill a man, and get "sentenced" to kill people and aliens all the time...and get paid for it. It was decided that harsher penalties would be reinstated, while military service (except in emergency drafts) was limited to those with, at most, minor records, while those with a clear slate were given bonuses. For the first time, the Marine Corps began receiving volunteers that did not have to join. With this, crime was also drastically reduced on all System worlds, hitting two birds with one stone.
Firebats- The Firebat program was cancelled within weeks of the United Systems' formation. Not only were the occupants of these dangerous suits of armor in egregious violation of the new military policy regarding personnel with jail records, but the units themselves no longer had a use. The second generation CMC suits were heavily armored, but still were not equal to the armor and plasma shielding of Protoss zealots and Dark Templar. Nor could they be used against other Terrans, as a single Marauder could tear a Firebat apart before he got anywhere near enough to attack. They could not be used in urban warfare either, as the second generation armor was simply too bulky. Going back to the first generation armor was out of the question; the volatile chemicals used for the flame gauntlets were unforgivably exposed to enemy fire.
Marauders- Though called Firebat replacements by some, these troops are anything but that. Designed to deal with heavily armed threats, such as tanks, these troops are strong in every area that Firebats are weak in. The addition of concussion grenades, which stun many targets for a time with bright flashes and noise, further added to their usefulness. The new bio-steel armor that they use serves to increase survivability and weapon capacity as well. There are no current plans to replace Marauders.
Medics- Long considered a welcome sight by Terrans and their allies, Medics proved irreplaceable in combat, even with the addition of built-in CMC medical systems and medical training becoming mandatory to all infantry units. However, newer medics are not distinguished as easily as before. They now wear full CMC armor on par with that of a Marine's, and carry a general issue Impaler gauss rifle.
Ghosts- The highly subversive Ghost program was cancelled and mothballed not long after the general US overhaul of the Terran military. Nearly all current operatives were known to be loyal to the remnant of the Dominion, and the past of lies and deceit was clear with the project, as was the high cost for psychics who could not even fully use their powers.
Spectres- Though there was some understandable unease about this offshoot of the Ghost program, it was found that Spectre operatives were quite preferable to Ghosts. Not only were their powers greater, but, despite what Ghosts often claimed, they were no more susceptible to violent outbursts than their more expensive brethren. Newly trained Spectres were even given some of the old Ghost equipment, such as EMP shells. Their eccentricism was easily cured with mild doses of schizophrenia drugs, a small price compared to their abilities.
Reapers- Though the Reaper training program was officially shut down with the new policy against convicts in the military, more than a few rumors have floated around that the US government merely classified it. Brief sightings of jump-pack equipped troops would seem to support this. However, it is known that all Reaper gear stopped being manufactured more than two decades ago, so it is likely that the new troopers are using more experimental technology.
Vultures- though used quite successfully during the Dominion conflict by Raynor's Raiders, they proved to be, as one mechanic said, "flying death traps…even when nobody's shooting at ya." The United Systems quickly mothballed the Vulture bike, favoring instead the more durable and generally safer Hellion.
Hellions- Much favored over the "death trap" Vulture. Hellions have been upgraded with partially automated targeting systems, allowing them to fire on the move, as well as twin linked flamethrowers and thermite injectors. Though their uses have diminished with the removal of the Zerg threat, they are still considered excellent infantry killers and scouts. There are also civilian riot control variants that utilize water cannons instead of flamethrowers.
Linebreaker Siege Tank- Siege tanks have always been the backbone of the Terran army. While the aging Crucio has been replaced, another has stepped up to take its place. Sporting "smart shells" to reduce friendly fire and an upgraded twin-linked tank cannon when in tank mode, this new tank is much more formidable than the old Crucio, while still holding true to the Siege tank design.
Diamondback- Despite it's very old, Confederate era design, the Diamondback proved invaluable, as a quick reaction unit and acceptable replacement should siege tanks be unavailable. The United Systems continues production of it to this day. The new Diamondbacks are upgraded with gauss coils to augment their railgun arrays, further increasing their range and damage output beyond that of a Linebreaker in tank mode.
Goliath- For reasons unknown, the Terran Dominion labeled the Goliath support walker as out of date. This is most puzzling, as they claimed the reasons to be that it could not provide adequate air coverage. They replaced it instead with the much more expensive Viking, which, while effective at beating aircraft and was an adequate solution to the Valkyrie's vulnerability, could not target both air and ground targets at the same time unless it switched between fighter and assault modes. During this time, it was completely and utterly vulnerable. Thus it was decided to reinstate the Goliath as air defense for ground forces, as well as long range infantry suppression.
Thor- It was a much contested decision to continue production of this assault walker, as many saw it as too expensive for it's own good. However, the contention ended when it was decided to remove the walker's barrage cannons, replacing them with shorter range weapon systems. This, coupled with added armor, which is cheaper than barrage cannons, eliminated it's long range potential, but allowed it to soak up much more firepower and allow it's allies to move forward.
Odin- If there was contention on the Thor, its big brother was a political nightmare. But the sheer firepower of the Odin could not be denied. Eventually it was decided that they would enter limited production, and only be used when absolute firepower is needed. The addition of Immortality Protocol systems further added to the Odin's survivability, as did the addition of bio steel, which all US mechanical systems have been upgraded with. To reduce costs to manageable levels, the nuclear silo and rearming bay have been removed.
Banshee- though an aging craft, no replacement has yet been found for the Banshee atmospheric gunship. However, upgrades such as the Cellular reactor enhance the gunship's role as a stealthy hard hitter.
Wraith- This fighter had been considered out of date even during the Dominion conflict, and was only used due to the lack of a better fighter. With the addition of its successor, the Spirit, to the United Systems' air force, the Wraith was immediately decommissioned, as it was too expensive for a light fighter, and its stealth systems proved useless against all but the lightest outposts. It did not possess the stealth detection gear to find and shoot down Protoss observers, it did not have the range to down Zerg Overseers before they were spotted, and its burst lasers did only negligible damage against heavily armored, ground based missile turrets. However, Spirits soon proved inefficient on their own. While they were more powerful than Wraiths, they were also many times more expensive, as well as less maneuverable. The fighter soon came under review by military officials and was reinstated without a stealth generator. Instead, a highly advanced disruption field was applied to it, which deflected the vast majority of missiles and wreaked havoc with enemy tracking systems and sensors.
Viking- Though the US believe that this fighter is by no means a replacement for the Goliath, it is the perfect escort vessel as its advanced missile systems can bypass most countermeasures. Goliaths and Diamondbacks on the ground cover its vulnerability to medium and close range craft, while more agile Spirits and powerful Battlecruisers take care of any in the air. It's ability to perform as a heavy assault mech in a pinch has proved more than useful. Newer Valhalla class Vikings also possess firing ports for their autocannons in fighter mode and carry multipurpose missiles for ground use, eliminating their weakness against short ranged fighters and long ranged ground units, though it must still be escorted to deal with medium range forces. Despite being easier to produce, the Viking still requires incredible skill to pilot, so there are comparatively few vehicles present on a given battlefield.
Science Vessel- In the strictest sense, this was never a combat craft, used only for rear line support and civilian exploration and scientific experiments. The vessel's nano-repair ability was made redundant with the application of bio-steel to all vehicles. The irradiation ability was soon made useless: the Zerg were no longer a threat, the Protoss began altering their shields to act as chemical barriers, and Terran armor seals were altered to be more effective against hazardous materials. The ability to use EMP and defensive matrix were both removed after the Brood War, given instead to the Ghost (now the Spectre) and battlecruisers respectively. The Science Vessel was soon relegated only to civilian tasks.
Raven- The autonomous Raven vehicle saw much action during the Dominion conflict and the Hybrid War, and came through with flying colors. It was very effective at defending choke points in a pinch with auto turrets, as well as supporting allies with point-defense drones and seeker missiles. The new research breakthroughs with Protoss technology by Raynor's Raiders served to greatly improve the ship's AI, allowing it to be more independent and improving reaction time. However, in present times, little use has been found for these support vessels. While they have not been decommissioned, production has been halted until further notice, and there are only reserve units, none are active.
Medivac Dropship- Briefly considered as a complete replacement for medics, the idea quickly fell out of favor. The dropships were quite time consuming to build, and it was more costly to train medics to fly it as well. Not only this, but military officials were less than impressed with the subpar medical facilities, which could just as easily cause a Marine's death as heal him. The medical abilities of the ship were removed, though significant engine upgrades were applied.
Titan-class Battlecruiser- The backbone of the United Systems' fleet, the Titan is often compared to the old Minotaur-class, which it is a more advanced version of. Equipped with a Yamato cannon, anti-ship missiles, and a more effective defensive matrix system, the Titan is a force to be reckoned with. It is rather large, dwarfing the Minotaur, and reflects its role as a dedicated battleship. As such, its fighter bays are negligible, and do not even carry fighters, instead being meant for ship-to-ship transports and cargo ships. It is covered with multiple multipurpose ATA lasers (which can be used against ships or fighters), and six heavy anti-ship batteries.
Behemoth-class support cruiser- Named for the class of the famous Hyperion, the new Behemoth class is a lighter missile cruiser and an atmospheric support ship for the US. It only possesses a significant number of guns on the head section, making it vulnerable in close combat and flanking situations. However, it has a large compliment of fighters, numerous plasma torpedoes, a Yamato cannon, and missile pods for long range fighting. While smaller than the Titan, the Behemoth is also faster and more agile.
Mythos-class Carrier- Designed thanks to new knowledge of Protoss weapons systems. Completely devoid of ship-to-ship weapons (though it has point-defenses), this vessel relies on fighters to get the job done. It has large fighter bays that carry numerous Spirits, Vikings, and Bears, as well as a special weapon; air superiority fighters. These craft, constructed using new knowledge of robotics, are completely AI driven, and are equipped with burst lasers. Using a surprisingly efficient group AI, the fighters are given general orders by their parent ship, and the fighters do the rest. They are far more agile and numerous than Spirits, but suffer in terms of armor. However, fighters that are knocked out can quickly regenerate thanks to their bio-steel. The parent carrier immediately rebuilds those that are completely destroyed within minutes. Because these fighters are still more primitive than Protoss interceptors, they cannot stray too far from their carrier and can be cut off by signal jamming. If the latter happens, they immediately activate their full AI, gaining processing power but using up more battery power. This allows them to survive until control is re-established most of the time. In the case that it doesn't, the fighters immediately self-destruct when their battery gives out. The unusual tactics of this ship class allows a great amount of support in large battles.
Loki-class Battlecruiser- A massive battleship carrying a number of experimental technologies. Its main weapons are two forward facing Armageddon cannons, very powerful plasma weapons. It possesses a large number of missile pods, a powerful defensive matrix, bio-steel, and a small contingent of fighters, as well as numerous turrets. This ship is the epitome of Terran technology, stubbornness, and wit. They are, however, very expensive and few in number.
Ambassador-class Assault ship- Made to fill the void left by the old Behemoth-class as a dedicated atmospheric assault vessel. These battlecruisers carry a veritable army with them and possess an astonishing array of relatively small-bore weaponry, made for firing at swarms of targets present in atmospheric combat, both on the ground and in the air.
Bear- it became apparent after the formation of the United Systems that the new military lacked a proper bomber for orbital operations. While the Banshee held its own in the atmosphere, it was incapable of space flight. Thus the Bear was born. This craft has a similar shape as the old Valkyrie, and serves as a heavy bomber/missile frigate. It is armed with multiple missile systems, plasma torpedoes, and a small number of anti-fighter turrets. Its shape maximizes its fighting abilities and armament capacity, but makes it about as aerodynamic as a brick, making it unable to fly in atmospheric conditions. While a bit small to be considered a full ship, it is still quite large and possesses its own warp drive, since it is too big to fit in a fighter bay.
Spirit- The descendant of the Wraith. While not equipped with the weak stealth systems of its forbear, the Spirit is a force to be reckoned with. Doing away with the Wraith's "y" design, which proved unwieldy in atmospheric combat, this new fighter has been said to resemble "a scorpion with its tail cut off." True to it, the Spirit has no pylon for an underslung burst laser, instead stowing them underneath the multimissile launchers on the wings and directly underneath the cockpit. The Spirit is both faster than and more heavily armored than the Wraith, easily making up for its lack of stealth. These fighters are used as escorts for Vikings and battlecruisers.