Starport, Augustgrad, Korhal

It is often considered a sign of strength to stand tall in the face of impossible odds. To keep fighting for what you believe in, even if the chance of victory is non-existent. There is a fine line, however, between courage and outright stupidity. The last Mengsk's followers certainly leaned towards the latter.

Kerrigan's Swarm had the starport surrounded. Flyers darkened the sky above, nydus worms covered any escape routes, and the broods were slowly but surely grinding their way through the defenses. Why wouldn't they just give up? Defeat was inevitable and Arcturus Mengsk wasn't worth dying for.

Then again, most of the defenders were probably resocs and ghosts. Slaves in all but name. They probably didn't have a choice in the matter. Even if they did, it wouldn't matter. Mengsk would not leave this planet alive. His escape attempt had already been thwarted before it had fully begun. Now it was just a matter of time until the Zerg got to him.

The queen wondered if Mengsk could appreciate how history was repeating itself. What it felt like to be trapped, abandoned by the people you trusted, powerless to stop the legions of Zerg rapidly closing in on you. If Kerrigan had died there in the ruins of New Gettysburg, maybe that experience would have been punishment enough on its own. Except she didn't die there. She lived, and spent the next four years being a slave to her own body. No, Mengsk wouldn't get away so easily. Kerrigan had her sword in hand and she knew she would be using it.

A siege tank soared through the air, yanked into pack of Zerg by one of the vipers overhead. The vehicle was unceremoniously crushed under the massive weight of an ultralisk. It wouldn't be long now, Kerrigan thought. Months of anger, pain, and hatred were boiling to the surface, ready to be unleashed on the one man who made her suffer for so long. Soon. So very soon.

Zerglings covered the building like an army of murderous ants, viciously clawing their way into the structure. She could feel the fear of the men inside. She could her the screaming of the dying soldiers as they were thrown into the oncoming horde and ripped to pieces. It was dark work, but it had to be done. Mengsk could not escape.

The ultralisks finally managed to bash their way through the reinforced door. Within a heartbeat, the Swarm surged in like a tide, butchering every living thing they could see in a frenzy. Kerrigan didn't really care about the humans caught in the middle. Anyone who still worked for the emperor at this point was either criminally insane or resocced beyond help. In other words, acceptable casualties. There was only one human in this structure which shouldn't be killed outright. Mengsk was hers, and no one else's.

Within minutes, the building was secured. Ignoring the bodies around her, she marched through the its halls. She knew that the last of the emperor's guards were being cut down. When the last man fell, she immediately called her forces back. She didn't want one of them to jump him. Mengsk was hers, and no one else's.

Then, for the first time in five years, she was face-to-face with him. Arcturus Mengsk. The man she trusted. The man that saved her from the Confederacy. The man that betrayed her and made her suffer in ways the English language couldn't begin to fully describe. He didn't speak. He didn't beg, or whimper, or plead for mercy. He just looked at her with that piercing, baleful glare of his.

Kerrigan closed the distance between them, grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him into a wall with her blade against his neck. Still no reaction. She'd have to correct that. There were so many wonderful, agonizingly painful things she could do to him. She could flay him alive, electrocute him, slowly dissolve him in acid. The Zerg had many ways to keep him awake and alive, or even intensify the pain he'd experience. She could make him suffer for all eternity, if she wanted. The possibilities were endless. She would break him. Break him like he broke her. There was no one to stop her now.

Then why was she hesitating? Why was she holding back? Why…

You'll be your old self before you know it.

She was a killer. She was a destroyer of things. She was that, and more. But she wasn't a murderer. She didn't kill people for her own pleasure. That was something the Queen of Blades would do. Not her. Not now, not ever. The fact that the victim was the most despicable person in the sector didn't matter. No one walks away from torture unchanged, not the victim, nor the perpetrator. It wasn't worth it. He wasn't worth it.

Arcturus grunted against his restraints. She should just kill him. Shatter his mind. Rip off his head and feed it to the Zerglings hungrily looking at the spectacle. All she had to do was push just a little harder. The Zerg were expecting it. Everyone was expecting it. Once a killer, always a killer. No one had even considered that this could end any other way. Not even Jim. They would just stand by and let her take her revenge. They stayed silent because they knew that they could never stop her all-consuming rage. Because they could never stop her from taking what she deserved.

Didn't she deserve this?

Did she?

Was Kerrigan really any better than he was? Both of them had terrorized humanity for years. Both of them were responsible for the deaths of billions. She wasn't a virtuous innocent who had been wronged. This wasn't a matter of a heroine seeking justice. This was one monster taking brutal revenge on another. Is it right? Is it right to take revenge on someone who's no better than you are? Did she really deserve this, after all the suffering she's responsible for? All this time, who was the real enemy? The Dominion was never much of a threat to her, personally. Not compared to the boiling rage, the fury that was burning inside her, clouding her judgment…

So long as you continue to be so predictable, oh Queen, I need not face you at all. You are your own worst enemy.

Killing her old instructor Rumm didn't solve anything. Neither did destroying the Confederacy. Now, here she was again, taking revenge on those who wronged her a third time and no one had tried to stop her because they feared her. Feared that she might return to her old ways and become the very evil they were fighting to destroy.

The urges inside her, this quest for vengeance, the hate…it was destroying her. It was pushing her away from the people who tried so hard and sacrificed so much to get her back. From the people that still cared about her. She couldn't turn her back on them now. Not over him.

But Mengsk needed to die for there to be peace…

Except he didn't. Not like this. Mengsk was already defeated. Without his empire or his supporters, what was he, really? The threat he represented, to her, the Swarm, humanity, or the galaxy as a whole, had already been removed. Any court of law worthy of the name would have him executed anyway. Even if he somehow escaped confinement, there'd be nowhere for him to go. Killing him was, quite frankly, pointless.

His death wouldn't bring back the dead. It wouldn't rewind time. It wouldn't undo four years of torment and misery. In the end, it would accomplish nothing. His death would never get her what she wanted. But then again, what did she want?

I already got what I wanted.

A family? Her Zerg weren't perfect, but they mattered to her regardless. Jim? He jumped face-first into hell to get her back. A future? She was fighting for that right now.

She already had what she needed, in a way. Mengsk's death wouldn't add anything. The only thing it would do is deprive the human race of their chance to bring this damned tyrant to justice. All because a young woman was blindly following her own thirst for revenge…

Her grip on the man's throat was weakening. She couldn't do it. After all this time, she couldn't bring herself to kill him. She couldn't let the rage inside her win.

Kerrigan screamed, slamming the fallen emperor into the wall and breaking her sword in two. "I'm not going to kill you. I'm not going to torture you, because I won't stoop down to your level, and I'm certainly not going to infest you, because my Zerg did nothing to deserve having you unleashed on them."

"Your Zerg?" Mengsk said, gasping for air.

"My Zerg. No, I'm going to call Jim and his buddies. They're going to put you in the deepest, darkest hole they can find. There, you'll watch powerlessly as everything you've worked for is torn down and everyone you've trusted turns against you. Then, when you stand in front of the firing squad, maybe you'll begin to understand what you did to me!" She dropped him on the ground and walked away.

"I may be down, but I'm not out! Mark my words, Kerrigan, I've rebuild my empire before, I'll do it again." Venom and bile dripped of his every word.

"No, you won't. The galaxy hates you, almost as much as they hate me. You're not walking away from this a free man. Not when you're just as much a monster as I am."

With that, Kerrigan walked away. Away from the fallen emperor…

…and away from the past.

Raynor arrived at the starport, only to find it, almost literally, covered in Zerg. When he also saw Kerrigan walk out of it with a blank look on her face, he feared the worst. It was a mistake, letting her go in alone. He knew full well what killing did to the mind. Something this painful shouldn't be faced alone.

"Sarah! Sarah, what happened?"

Kerrigan looked at him with a glazed look in her eyes. "It's over, Jim. Third floor, end of the hall. Bring a rope. I think you'll know what to do."

He didn't really know what she meant. He wasn't sure if he wanted to. Running in, he expected to find a pile of shredded meat. What he didn't expect was to find the former emperor alive and well, if a bit roughed up. The commander couldn't help but laugh.

"Something funny, Raynor?" Mengsk said, angrily.

"Just the irony of it all." Raynor pulled a rope from his suit. "Ain't got handcuffs on me, so I guess this'll have to do. Arcturus Mengsk, you are under arrest." If Kerrigan didn't want him dead anymore, then he could deal with him too. The Hyperion's brig could always use another guest. "Been waiting for five years to say that…"

"Spare me the platitudes. You're enjoying this."

"Absolutely. Not as much as I'll enjoy testifying against you." He replied as he tied the emperor's hands together. "You had this coming a long time, Arcturus. Try not to pout."

The fallen emperor sneered. "Could have guessed that that bitch is too weak to…"

Suddenly, Raynor grabbed Mengsk by the head and slammed him into the table. "She spared you, Arcturus. She spared you so we could put you on trial. I didn't tell her to do that. She didn't have to do that. Hell, I don't think anyone would have blamed her if I had to clean you up with a mop. Think about this for a second: not killing you is probably the first thing she's ever done entirely out of her own free will. Let me repeat that: she's giving up her revenge so we can have our justice. She ain't the bad guy, Mengsk. She's a better person than either of us."

"Charming little speech, but…"

"'…but you haven't seen the last of me'? You're done for, Arcturus. We've already made sure of that."

Mengsk grumbled some more empty threats before finally shutting up. Not that Raynor particularly cared. Just the mad ramblings of a fallen dictator. As fast as he could, he dropped this waste of space of at his dropship and took off to find the person he really cared about.

Kerrigan walked until her legs shook too much to carry her weight. Did she do the right thing? Did it even matter if Mengsk died at the hands of an executioner instead of hers?

She collapsed on a sidewalk and took off her gloves. The flesh underneath was gone, completely covered by a clawed, organic gauntlet. She removed the wire that, throughout all the fighting, had held her 'hair' together in a pony-tail, letting the unnatural strands fall across her shoulders. Kerrigan wasn't human anymore. She never would be again. Somehow, that realization didn't seem to hurt as much as it used to. But still…she was fighting to hold back her tears. Too much was uncertain. Too many emotions were burning inside her. Too much just plain hurt…

"Sarah…" Raynor had suddenly appeared right next to her. "Hey, it's okay. I gotcha."

"I couldn't do it, Jim. I'm no better than he is. There's too much anger in me. I can't fight it…I don't…" Her words just blabbered out.

Raynor gently grabbed her clawed hand and said: "Yes, you can, honey. You already did." She could feel his emotions washing over her. Satisfaction, love, and…he was proud. Proud of her…

Kerrigan leaned on his shoulder and wept. All the stress, pain, and misery of the past few months was washing away. Human or Zerg, good or evil, hero or villain…there were so many things still uncertain.

One thing, however, was not.

She was her body's plaything no longer.

The End.

A/N It is finished.

By all that's holy, it's done.

More than 18 months of my life has gone into this. I don't think I've ever spent this much time on anything, ever. Not sure if I should be proud of that…

Anyway, as you may have noticed, the story itself is far from over. My 'Legacy of the Void' wannabe is going to be coming at some point. Not sure when, but it will eventually. Unless something horrible happens to me. But let's not think about that. For now, I think I've earned a break.

Originally, this story was written as a sort of stress reliever when Blizzard started releasing trailers for HotS but not release dates. Instead of taking it to the internets and rage for a bit, I decided to do something constructive and put my own version on paper to see how close I would get. I'll be putting my findings in another chapter, along with a proper epilogue, when I'm done playing through the game a few times, so if you want to see me praise it like the second coming or flame it into the ground, stay tuned. If not, there's a button at the top of your page that takes you to the StarCraft fanfiction archive.

After I'm done actually playing the goddamn game for a change, well, I'll start working on the sequel. Until then…