Chapter 23: Prototype

Night stood inside of his White Stone Lair and watched as hundreds of Zerg filed into living structure. Only a small fragment of his swarm remained in the city; the rest had been sent back to his territory in the forest.

The evolution to stage three meant the evolution of every member of the swarm. This required a measure of bio energy for each of the member of the swarm. As such, at the moment of evolution, every Zerg needed to be either inside a Lair or on creep. Since he had limited the spread of keep in the city, most of the Zerg had no choice but to return to the forest.

The Lair quickly filled up with Zerg, milling and chittering excitedly. Standing nearest to him, the Zerg Queens' eyes were burning with fervor and impatient. As devoted and loyal as they were to their Overmind, Night had no doubt that if he told them that he was delaying the evolution, they would beat the crap out of him.

Sighing at his Queens, Night sent a telepathic command to begin the evolution. He felt a surge of bio energy from the fleshy floor. All around him, the Zerg stilled and began to be enveloped by living cocoons. Night was momentary surprised when he too was swallowed by a similar fleshy casing.

It was an odd sensation, feeling the cocoon filled up with warm liquid. He felt no fear or discomfort as he became submerged. He inhaled the liquid without any hesitation. There wasn't any conscious thought; he simply did it out of instinct.

After his lungs were filled with fluid, the interior of the cocoon flared. A massive dose of energy flowed into his body. There was a split second of blinding pain. Before he could react, his entire body shattered and dissolved into the liquid.

It was a little disconcerting. He felt a sense of weightlessness, like he was having an out-of-body experience.

His sense of time began to blur within the cocoon. As the transformation continued, new information about the swarm began to appear in his head, data about new Zerg strains that were now available to him, their genetic structures, their abilities, along with hundreds of pieces of knowledge about the stage three Zerg.

Completing the data stream was an interesting piece of information; Night needed to choose a Zerg form.

Part of being the Overmind had always been becoming a Zerg. Night was given some leeway, but he couldn't delay anymore. The good news was that, with the Changeling's genetic information unlocked, he would be able to retain his human form while becoming a Zerg.

In the game, the Changelings were amorphous blobs created by the Zerg Overseers. They had no combat abilities. Their only ability was to transform into the unit of the opposing faction and infiltrate the enemy's base.

Unfortunately, due to the plentiful detector units within the game, the Changelings were largely neutralized. This was more so in the pro circle since everyone there was good enough to keep track of where all their units were at all time. A unit moving on its own was very telling, barring a mistake from the player, which is not something you could count on, especially in the pro ring.

In real life however, Changelings could not only morphed into people but also plants and objects. They were dirt cheap to make, making them the perfect spies. Of course, considering the fact that the swarm was fully aware of all that happened on-creep, the Changelings' usefulness lied in infiltration.

With the Changeling's genetic information available to him, Night's only problem became which Zerg template to choose. As glorious as the Zerg were, they were aesthetically wanting, at least to human's eyes. The only Zerg with beauty were the Queens. Unfortunately, all Queens were female; their genetic ensured that. While there were more than a few men who wish to be women, Night wasn't one of them.

Unwilling to choose an available template, his only alternative was to create a new template. It was easier said than done, however. Creation of a new Zerg template required a level of imagination that, Night had to admit, he did not possess.

After a while, a thought occurred to him. If the creator of the Zerg took the idea from a game, perhaps he could do the same. One game stood out in his mind.

Prototype. The story of Alex Mercer and James Heller, both were infected by the Blacklight Virus, both turned into bio weapons with the power to slaughter armies. The virus bestowed upon the two men an arsenal of weapons and defenses: Armor, Shield, Claw, Blade, Musclemass, and so forth.

There was his answer. He had no desire to change the current swarm. Prototype would allow him to enhance the Zerg, alter it from the game, making it his. It would also be the final piece of the puzzle for his project, his attempt to change this world, to find a new balance between humans and Hellites.

The Zerg Swarm had more than enough genetic abilities for him to replicate all the Prototype weapons. Unfortunately, having all the pieces and putting them together was two different issues.

Genetic was complicated when humans were concern. Biologically, the Zerg were much more advance, and as such, their genetic was far more complicated.

Thankfully, the Swarm had a solution. Every advance civilization required a mean analyze, compile, and store enormous amounts of data. Humans on earth came up with the computer; the Zerg's answer to that problem came in the form of the Hives and Overseers.

The Zerg Hives, as the hearts of Zerg civilization, were where all the knowledge and data of the civilization were stored. As for utilizing that information, calculating, computing and so on, that fell to the Overseers.

The Overseers were the second evolutions of the Zerg Overlords. In appearance, they were slightly wider than their predecessors and covered with optical organs that resemble the eyes of reptiles that allowed them to see everything even, even radio waves. Because of the important of the Overseers, they also evolved a layer of carapace ten times thicker than the Zerg Roaches

As the Overlords evolved into Overseers, they lose their ability to transport. The internal cavity became filled with Zerg neural tissues, turning the Overseer into a massive organic computer with enough processing power to make the most advance supercomputer on Earth seemed like a cell-phone.

Unlike in the game, where the Overseers had no combat ability, they were not so helpless in real life. Overseers were basically giant flying brains. Their psionic power was secondary only to the Zerg Queens. Unfortunately, their worth was reflected in their cost. A single Overseer required 2500 units of bio energy.

While the Stage Three Evolution was still incomplete, the genetic information for the new units had already been unlocked and Night could morph Overseers while the Overlords were still in their cocoons.

He gave the command to morph five Overseers. It would take twenty-four hours for the Overlords to complete their evolution. Night took that time to work out the detail of his Prototype templates.

He divided the various Prototype templates into two categories, warrior and mystic. The warrior templates would possess the various power of the game such as claw, blade, and shield.

The problem was the mystic templates.

From what he had observed with Emily, Magic could be fueled by psionic power but it was a completely different force. The Zerg did not possess the ability to manipulate the element like the Magic Users of Luminous.

"Do any of you guys know anything about Magic?" he projected to his Queens.

"Of course, Overmind," Eve projected back.

Silent followed.

"You want to tell me?" Night finally projected in exasperation. Though she hid it very well, he could manage to detect a hint of amusement from his eldest Queen.

"Magic is one of the three Primordial Forces of the Existence," Eve projected. "Eldest is Ether, from which all are born and where all return after death. Second is Magic, with which all are shaped. Youngest is Life, through which all are sustained."

"The Goddess of Life, my grandmother," Night whispered mentally. His Queens had told him about it before but he didn't give it much thought. It was not until this moment that he realized the grandeur of his lineage.

"Yes," Eve sent back. "As far as the swarm is concern, in the mystical sense, the Goddess of Magic is our aunt."

"Our family is a little twisted as far as relationship is concern," Selene projected. "Our father is a Dragon and Dragons are the Goddess of Magic's firstborns. In the divine sense, the Goddess of Magic is his mother, which meant father married his own aunt. It also meant that the Goddess of Magic is both our grandmother and our aunt."

"Incest is a mortal taboo, a failsafe to ensure genetic diversity," Eve projected. "The divines have no such concern. Besides, there is no blood-bond between father and mother or the Goddess of Magic. The vast majority of gods had various affairs with their creations. More than a few gods fashion creations of great beauty just to warm their beds. It's the lifestyle of those with apocalyptic power."

"Hmm," Lilith projected, and Night could detect a note of dreaminess in her psionic wave. "I've heard that father was the Goddess of Magic's consort before he married mother. Some believe that their affair continues even after father and mother were married."

"Where did you hear these things?" Night asked. As far as he knew, no Zerg was given a physical body before he became the Overmind.

"When father was still working on our three collectives, he kept us in his pockets," Lilith projected, "and father does like to visit bars. You would be surprise what you can pick up in a tavern."

"Gods have bars?"

"Of course," Eve projected. "Alcohol seemed to be a universal hobby."

"Father loves alcohol," Selene projected.

"Father like drunk people. He thinks people are more honest when they are drunk. Taverns are his churches. He considered them hallowed grounds." Lilith's melodious laughter echoed in Night's head.

"What did you mean 'three'?" Night asked.

"What?" Eve projected back.

"Lilith said 'when father was still working on our three collectives'. What did she means? Who are the other two collectives?" Night had his suspicion. He wasn't sure how he would feel about it if he was right.

"The Terran and the Protoss, Overmind," Eve confirmed his suspicion.

Night would sigh if he still had a body. He knew he would run into the other two collectives sooner or later. The purpose of the Zerg was to be a guardian of Earth eventually. He suspected that the other two collectives were given the same job. What he was worried about was that they might come into conflict with each other. In Starcraft canon, the three races didn't exactly get along.

After a few minutes, he decided not to think about it anymore. There wasn't anything he could do about the other two collectives. The only he could do was to strengthen the Zerg enough that they could hold their own if the three collectives go to war with each other.

"So does that mean the swarm can wield magic?" Night projected.

"Of course, our father is a Dragon. Magic is our birthright," Lilith answered. "Beside, the Goddess of Magic is not very choosy about her about gift. Virtually anyone can wield magic. It irks father to no end."

"So do you know how to wield magic?"

"No, Overmind. Each civilization had a different style when it comes to wielding magic. I believe father wanted us to come up with our own style," Eve projected.

"The humans on this world have an interesting way to wield magic," Selene projected. "A number of them seem to be able to instinctively utilize a single spectrum of elemental magic."

"It's possible that their ability is genetic-related," Eve projected.

"Perhaps it is why father chose this planet," Selene projected. "It is conceivable that he meant for us to assimilate this genetic gift into the swarm's arsenal."

"But the human of this world only access to elemental magic," Lilith said. "While it is a great gift, elemental magic is only a single school of mysticism, and a lower school at that."

"It is a good start. Once we acquire this genetic gift, we can analyze the frequency of mystic energy and go from there," Eve projected.

Night fell silent and mulled over his Queens conversation. So magic was not beyond his reach, which meant the Mystic templates were possible, but he needed a few things first.

He waited for a day for the Overseers to complete morphing before ordering them to generate the necessary genetic sequences for the templates that were available to him for the moment.

Generating the various Prototype powers was simple. Even combining them into the templates was not difficult. The trouble was in the detail.

For any specie to be viable, a measure of instinct was necessary. The ability to sense danger, how to defend oneself, how to hunt, each instinct was hone by hundred of millennia of evolution.

Each of the templates was, in and of itself, a new living creature. Because the designs were humanoid, many of the human instincts could be recycled. The trouble was the fight-or-flight response.

One of the defining characteristics of the Zerg was that they have no flight response. Unless they were ordered back, they would fight until their opponent die or they do.

Each Zerg template had a different style of combat that had been written into their DNA. Night's problem was that none of the current Zerg combat instincts were designed for a humanoid model. Fortunately, the problem was easily solved by five gigantic biological super computers.

Within half an hour, his Overseers managed to come up with a different style for each of the template. Night ordered an Omni Prototype template just for himself, a humanoid template that use the Changeling DNA as base that would allow him to transform into any of the Prototype template that he wanted.

With the final 'i' dotted, the swarm entered the final step of evolution into stage three. The liquid inside Night's cocoon began to swirl, and his new body began to form.