Chapter 24: A Touch of Divinity
Within the fleshy cocoon, a humanoid figured floated, encase in a shell of carapace like a black suit of armor of the knight of old.
Inside his own body, Night could barely contain his excitement. He couldn't wait to try out his new body. He felt more powerful than he had ever felt, and not just physically. As the swarm evolved so did his Bio Resonance.
Before stage three, though he had had Psionic Focus, this particular genetic ability had been dormant. This was a limitation forced by his body. His former body could not handle both Psionic Focus and Bio-Resonance being active at the same time without breaking apart. Since his Zerg healing ability was enhance by the lather gift, Bio-Resonance had been given priority. Now, with a stronger Zerg body, both abilities could be active at the same time.
More importantly, just as the Bio-Resonance had enhanced his healing ability, it would now fuel his Psionic Focus, making his psychic power far beyond even that of the Zerg Queens.
Just as his Zerg body completed, he sensed someone enter his new hive. The Zerg in him tensed at the infraction. The Hives were the heart of the Zerg civilization. For anyone to enter the structure without invitation, especially when the swarm was in the middle of evolving, helpless to defend itself, was a severe breach, doubly so when the Overmind was within.
He very nearly lashed out with his newly awakened psionic power and crushed the intruders. What little of his human nature stayed his wrath. He could only sense a three life forms, one of them small and delicate, like a flame of a candle.
His projected a mental field that encompassed the entire Hive. It was a basic technique in using psychic power that the Zerg knew of. The technique gave it user a sort of omniscience sight. Within the field, Night was all-seeing; an ant wouldn't be able to enter the field without him knowing.
When he 'saw' the intruders, he froze. If he wasn't immersed in liquid and covered in carapace, he would have broken out in cold sweat.
The intruders were his family. The three of them were standing side by side. Dawn was hanging onto his mother's hand
If he had lashed out with his power…he shivered at the thought.
"Momma, where's big brother?" Dawn the asked.
"He's in here, sweetie," Gemma answered and began scanning the cocoons.
Night knew his mother was looking for him, and he knew she would be unable to. The cocoons were identical from the outside.
On the other side of Dawn, Emily was doing the same thing. There was a strange glint in her eyes. She looked a little crazed.
Gemma's browed crinkled slightly when Emily stepped toward one of the cocoons and placed her hand on the living outer membrane. Emily had her hand there for a second before a look of disappointment came across her face.
"You're feeling it, aren't you?" Gemma said.
Emily nearly jumped at the sound of her voice, as though she had forgotten that she wasn't alone. "What?" she said, a look of confusion on her face.
"When my son regrew my arm, he granted me the healing ability of a Zerg Roach, remember? I felt the same connection to the Zerg collective. I still remember it." Her expression darkened. "I also remember what it was like when that connection began to fade, that desperation to hang on to the connection, the feeling of despair and powerlessness when I was unable to. When the connection was severed, I felt as though my heart had been ripped out, and I was only given a single gift of a regular Zerg. I can only imagine how much worse it is for you, you who were given all the power of a Queen."
There was a moment of stillness before Emily began to tremble. She hugged herself and gaze at Gemma. "I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm going crazy." The crazed glint in her eyes seemed to explode and she looked every part of the most fanatical of zealot. "When I was one of his Queens, I was able to see him for what he was, beyond that mortal coil that he walks around in. It was beyond beautiful, god-like. I don't think I could live without him anymore."
The desperation and despair in her voice must have scared Dawn.
"I want my brother," the young girl whimpered and burst into tears.
As Gemma rushed to sooth her daughter, Night sighed inside of his cocoon. The evolution was all but finished, and his transformation was done. He sent a command to his body and his hands began to change, each of his fingers into a blade a foot and a half long. This was one of the templates he had invented. He dubbed this 'Talon'.
In Prototype, the claw ability grant the main character four blades on each hand, but Night had thought, "Why have four when you can have five?"
Night plunged the blade-fingers into the fleshy shell of his cocoon and tore it open. Water burst out of the living orb, spattering onto the floor of the Hive.
At the sound, the three turned to the cocoon to see Night emerged, wreathed in dark carapace. None of him recognized and though they knew that this structure was part of the swarm, they still felt a wave of fear. So much so that Dawn immediately ducked behind her mother and began to tremble, the tears on her face forgotten.
They had never feared the swarm before because of Night's presence. The knowledge that Night was the will that govern the swarm allowed them to overlook the Zerg demonic appearance. To Dawn's young mind, the Zerg were even cute. They brought her food, played with her, protected her, and, above all, they belonged to her brother.
Now, without Night here, or so they believed, even this humanoid Zerg looked nightmarish.
"I thought the Night Raven was supposed to take care of you," Night said.
There was a moment of shock.
"Night?" Gemma said.
The carapaces covering his head shifted and melted away, revealing his human visage. "It's me."
"Big brother!" Dawn squealed and ran for him.
Night reached down and caught his sister. The carapaces covering his body were harder than forge steel. If he'd let his sister ran into him, best case scenario would be a broken nose. He picked her up and held her in his arms, letting her ran her little hand through his armors in curiosity.
It was his mother, however, that asked the question. "What are you wearing?"
"I just got this," he said. "This is part of my Zerg form."
"Are you always going to look like that?"
"I can change back into my human form but the evolutionary process had melted all of my clothes." He glanced at his sister and smiled at the look of wonder on her face as she examined the carapace. "Would you like a suit like mine, little sister?"
Dawn looked at him, wide-eyed, and nodded eagerly.
He put her down and placed a hand onto her head. Dawn trembled slightly, and a dreamy look appeared on her face, as though she was eating candy for the first time. Her clothes bulged outward and began to tear. Black carapace could be seen through the tears.
Unlike with his mother and Emily, now that the swarm was at stage three, Night could permanently incorporate his sister into the Zerg swarm. As Zerg never truly die, if their bodies were destroyed, their consciousness would be preserved by the Collective and given new bodies at the will of the Overmind, he was effectively giving his sister immortality, something he was planning to give his mother, and Emily if she wanted it.
The humans of this world live in an atmosphere of constant fear, doubly so for children. Against the overwhelming number of Hellites that occupied this world, human life was a fragile thing, like a candle exposed to the wind, easily extinguished. The survival of each child was a miracle. Unfortunately, the thing about miracles was that they were far and in between.
Night knew that for the humans of this world to survive, they needed an increase in population. For that to happen, the younglings must be protected. As such, he had commissioned a template for youngling, one with a much denser carapace shell.
Within a minute the transformation was complete and a little figure in glossy armor was standing in front of him.
There was a moment of silent before dawn hastily tore the clothes from her body, revealing the carapaces covering her skin. She twisted and turned, admiring her new shell before giving a delighted squeal and dove to the ground. Before she hit the ground, she curled up and morphed into an orb.
Night designed the orb form of the youngling template as a defensive measure. He took the idea from the billiard ball. Against an orb, anything beside a pinpoint direct blow would glance off. Even if a billiard ball was hit just right, it would roll with the blow and neutralize the force. The orb form would also increase the youngling's speed, just in case they need to flee.
Dawn giggled and rolled through the Hive, weaving her way through the cocoons that occupied the floor. Night could feel her joy echoing back through the mental connection that they now share.
Standing beside him, Gemma watched her daughter with a serene smile on her face. Night had little trouble sensing the joy she felt at the happiness of her daughter. At the same time, he could feel a flicker of envy from her. It was very small, but it was there.
Night smiled and held a hand out to his mother. "Your turn, mother."
Gemma froze for moment before reaching for her son's hand, her arm trembling slightly in anticipation. Night's finger closed around his mother's hand and a stream of bio energy flowed into her.
Gemma shivered as she changed. Beneath her clothes, a layer of diminutive scales flowed across her skin, forming into sleek armors. Skeletal wings exploded from her back and, like with Emily, shredded her back.
Night flinched. He just saw everything. "Okay, I'm going to need a little therapy when I get back to Earth. Hopefully, I can get back to Earth before I have a psychotic break and kill everyone on this planet."
"What?" Gemma murmured, looking a bit daze from her transformation.
"It's nothing," Night said.
Gemma didn't give it much though. She closed her eyes and Night could feel her consciousness surging through the swarm's telepathic network. She pushed her consciousness faster and faster, flowing from node to node, connecting with one mind after another, never staying for more than a second.
Night smiled. He could understand what she was feeling. It was like when he first got his driver license. The sense of freedom was intoxicating. He had drove for hours, no destination, no purpose. He drove just to drive, just to indulge.
It was nearly five minutes before she was satisfied. She opened her eyes and exhaled before turning to Emily. "My god, is this what you felt? What you lost? How is it that you haven't gone insane?"
Emily didn't say anything and began to tremble.
"Mother," Night said. "You realize you are rubbing it in her face."
Gemma rolled her eyes. "It's not that bad. After all, you are going to offer her this gift, won't you?"
Night sighed and took a step toward Emily. "I now offer you a permanent position as a Zerg Queen. Know that should you accept, you would be mine, body and soul, forever and ever. You would be stuck with me. Are you sure that is what you want?"
Emily nodded without hesitation.
"As you wish," he said, offering her his hand.
She took his hand immediately. A flow of bio energy, a brief transformation during which Night got another glimpse of her in all her glory, and Emily once again resume her position as a Zerg Queen.
Just as her transformation completed, the closest cocoons hatched. The three Zerg Queens emerged. Their bone wings unfurled and flexed as they tested their improved bodies.
Night held his breath. The Queens had always been powerful, but there was something else about them, and sliver of something divine. Before Night could contemplate upon their new change, the remaining cocoons began to hatch.
One Zerg after another completed their evolution, and began to make their way toward Night. A Hydralisk nipped at him to get his attention before rearing up and flexing its body, displaying it rows of spine. There was no animosity in its actions. The creature was simply showing off it new, more powerful body, like a child would in order to get praised by his parents.
Smiling, Night reached out and the creature lower itself to allow him to pat its head. All around, the other Zerg chittered, and he could feel a flicker of envy from the rest of the swarm.
More and more Zerg completed their evolution and began to mill about the Hive. With each hatched cocoon, more power began to flow into him through the Bio Resonance connection. The power built up inside him and began to resonate with his psionic power.
The stream of energy turned into a river and then a raging rapid. When the final cocoon hatch, the wave of energy was the last drop of water that made the cup spill over. The raging rapid overflowed and surged. His Psionic Focus connected drew in this power and his consciousness swell until it felt as though it was pressing against the very fabric of reality.
It was then that he felt it, a vibration beyond the fabric of reality. He didn't know what it was, but he felt an intimate familiarity.
Of course, feeling the vibration and getting to whatever on the other side were two different things. The fabric of reality stood resolute against him, an impassible barrier. He felt like a child pushing against a brick wall. It was maddening, feeling the vibration and yet unable to reach it.
After trying a dozen times, he sighed and withdrew his consciousness. "What on the other side?" he asked Eve.
"The space between space, Overmind," she answered.
"A miasma of energy formed from the various primal elements that make up the fabric of Existence. A good portion of that miasma is made of the three Primordial Elements so father called it the Trinity Ocean."
"I feel like it is calling me."
"Mother is the goddess of Life," Eve explained. "She is the will of the Life Stream which resides in the Trinity Ocean. Through your bloodline was passed down a gene that allows for a certain affinity to the Trinity Ocean. It's a very rare and powerful gift, even among the gods."
"About that, even if I am a descendent of her line, that would just be my lineage on Earth. It shouldn't have anything to do with this body."
"The divine gene of your lineage does not just affect the body but also the soul. Even so, you would not have been strong enough to become our Overmind under normal circumstances. As such, when you were born, father divided your soul. Half was allowed to grow up on Earth, the other half was brought to this planet. When you were chosen, both halves were combined, bodies and souls, and the whole became greater than the sum of the parts. It's not just you, father did this to several thousand of candidates and scattered the halves across the universe. Those that aren't chosen will live normal lives, barring an accident or something."
"When I was born? He planned all this that long ago? But Starcraft didn't come out back then."
"Father can move through time," Selene said. "He's not supposed to but then most of the things he does, he's not supposed to do."
"Why was I chosen?" Night said.
It was Lilith who answered him. "Of the three Starcraft collectives, father said that we are the most destructive. The Terran is robotic and is more or less without desire or emotion. The Protoss is limited by their numbers. Only the swarm is without end. Given the chance, we could spread across the stars at an unimaginable speed. Such an event will most likely cause many of the species already inhabiting this universe to go to war against us." Her lips curved into a smile. "Of all the candidates, father deemed you the least likely to let us run wild and eat the universe. As much as he would enjoy such pervasive destruction…" She fell silent.
"He's worried about grandmother," Night said.
"Her sorrow is the only thing he worried about," Selene said. "A universal war would cause an unimaginable amount of deaths. As the Goddess of Life, mother would be grief-stricken for years."
"It's the humans," Lilith said. "Mother always had a soft spot for them, and they are the most likely to oppose the spreading of the swarm." She stepped closer to Night, pressing her entire body against his side. With the tip her finger, she slowly drew a circle on the carapace that covered his chest, the sensation of her action bleeding right through the armor. "You could prove father wrong and unleashed us upon the universe."
"Lilith," Eve said, frowning.
Lilith turned to her. "Mother will get over it. It is not as though we will leave the universe in ruin. As destructive as father think we are, the humans are far worse. They poisoned virtually any world they live on. Father has been trying to get rid of them for years. The universe, any universe, would be far better in our hands." She turned back to Night. "You could reign supreme among the stars, Overmind."
"By killing or enslaving every civilization we come across? That's not going to happen," Night said.
Lilith huffed and pushed away. "You're just like father. Neither of you is willing to do what is necessary."
As soon as Lilith pulled away from Night, Emily took her place, possessively clutching at Night's arm. Night had been sensing a touch jealousy from her ever since Lilith pressed herself to him. He couldn't help but smirk just a little. Unfortunately, there was a more pressing matter preventing him from enjoying the moment.
"I'm a little concerned that she's going to kill me and take over," Night said to Eve.
"Don't worry, Overmind," Eve said. "The pain of your death would be all but intolerable to us. For any of us to even consider such a thing would take an amount of hatred enough to burn the stars in the heaven. It would take a lot more than a different of opinion to turn us against you." She smiled. "Still, it would behoove you to be nice to us."
"I hope you're right," Night said. "In any case, we could only proceed under the assumption that she won't kill me." He sighed. "Come on. It's time for the swarm to step into the world's stage."