Tiberias Cain woke up feeling like something just drilled a hole through his skull. The fact that Larry the Hunter-Killer tried to wake him up by smacking his head with its tail didn't help either. What happened? Last thing he remembered was downloading data, followed something that sounded like the screams of the damned. Why did it get so quiet in his head all of a sudden? Why were the Zerglings chewing on his leg? The Queen doesn't tolerate…
For the first time since his rebirth into the Swarm, she wasn't watching over his shoulder. That scream…it was hers. The Queen of Blades was…gone…
He kicked the offending zerglings away and franticly searched the room, as if the Queen would be hiding behind a table. After realizing the folly of his actions and getting a confused look from Larry, he stopped and started to think.
How…how could this happen? There were billions of Zerg on Char, the Terrans couldn't have killed them all? Or could they…
Char…he had to get back to Char. He had to find out what happened. Since no one forbade him from doing so, it must be alright…right? No, it wasn't. If the queen was safe, she would have confirmed his course, or given some acknowledgement of his existence at the very least.
For the first time in his life as a Zerg, he felt alone. Okay, maybe he's not completely alone. At least Larry was still around. The Queen had always been like a mother to him and the other Zerg. A psychotic, unappeasable madwoman of a mother, the kind that would have her children taken away by child services almost immediately, but still someone to give them a purpose. Without that purpose, what were they? She was still better than the Protoss, who would vaporize him on the spot, or the Terrans, who'd…Well, this facility was stuffed with reasons for him not to be captured by the Terrans.
Oh, the download finished during his little nap. Good, maybe nothing is wrong and he'll just report back to the Queen. "Maybe Emperor Mengsk will invite me for a spot of tea afterwards while we discuss how to make starships out of chocolate." He thought to himself. Humor was always a good way to clear the grey mass in case something unexpected happened. Too bad it was generally lost upon most of the other Zerg. With a clear head and a new mission, he grabbed his data and his rifle and set off towards the leviathan's landing platform. Larry, as always followed close by.
Unfortunately, the band of Zerg he brought with him no longer seemed to respond to his orders. Worse, it seemed they had gone completely feral. Maybe they finally got sick of his sarcasm and decided it was time for him to go. This explanation, however ridiculous, would still be preferable to accepting that the Queen of Blades was dead, or somehow weakened to the point where she couldn't control them anymore. Maybe if he used his own psychic abilities, he could control some of them. Infestation does increase psionic sensitivity by a significant margin, after all. Unfortunately it doesn't help much if you had the psychic potential of a dead dog in your human life. Best he could do was scramble a small group of zerglings. It struck Cain that he might not be able to control the leviathan on his own. He'd worry about that later. First priority: he and Larry off this infernal laboratory without being eaten. That would be a good start.
Ruins of the Primary Hive, Char
Raynor walked past the burned-out remains of the primary hive, the only evidence that there ever was a Zerg presence here to begin with. The artifact certainly did its job. Jim Raynor sent his men to patrol the area and scour it of any Zerg they could find. Thus far, they had all come up empty handed. The artifact still gave him the creeps, but at least it had managed to kill every Zerg in the area. Well, almost. He looked down at the woman peacefully sleeping in his arms. It was hard to believe that this frail, young girl was the scourge of the sector only an hour ago. Part of him wondered if she still was. She didn't look strong enough to harm anyone, but appearances… He chastised himself for the thought. The look in her eyes when they first saw each other again, convinced him that she was not the Queen of Blades. Not anymore. It wasn't something he could describe, or ever explain to another person, but he knew that the woman in his arms was not the Zerg he swore to kill four years ago.
Was it worth it? All the misery, all the death and destruction, all the guilt and hardship, was it worth it? Thousands must have died in the final push. Not to mention Tychus. Was it all really worth it?
How could he even doubt that! Mengsk was reeling on his throne. The evidence he showed the people and the fact that HE, Public Enemy Number One, terrorist, rebel, and pirate stopped the Zerg threat would be more than enough to force that tyrannical bastard off his seat. It was all worth it. By God, it was all worth it.
The rebel leader walked back to Warfield's base camp. The old general met him near the edge, anxious to see the result of the artifact. He saw the woman in Jim's arms, let out a soft smile and said: "Well Raynor, if I didn't know better, I'd never believe you if you told me who she was. Funny how fast things can change." Raynor could not help but smile in return. It was all so hard to believe.. He half expected to wake up in the Hyperion's cantina next to a bottle of booze and a very annoyed Matt Horner.
No, this was real. More real than anything in his life had ever been. He was sure of it.
He was knocked out of his dream-like trance by the sound of de-cloaking ghosts raising their weapons. "That's strange, I don't remember seeing any Dominion ghosts on Char." Before he could fully come to his senses, a blonde female one moved towards him and stuck a syringe in Kerrigan's body.
"Just a sedative Jim. Don't want her running around when we're taking her to Korhal, now do we?" she said in an unnervingly playful tone, as if it was all a game to her.
"Nova, what did you just do? What's going on?" He looked at Warfield, but he was just as surprised as Raynor was by this turn of events, though better at hiding it.
"I think my boss should be the one explaining this." The ghost tapped a few buttons on her communicator and a familiar voice spoke from it.
"James Raynor, congratulations on your victory." Prince Valerian's voice was carried by a mockery so thick you could cut it with a knife.
"Junior, what's going on?" The commander bellowed. "Why are you taking Kerrigan to Korhal? She isn't a threat to anyone anymore."
"Do you really think I can just let you walk away with her, after everything that happened? What is the point of being heir to a throne if there is no throne left to inherit? I intend on putting her on trial and make quite a spectacle of it." His voice was practically brimming with anticipation.
"She'll be killed, 'Your Highness', for crimes we can't hold her responsible for. What about that talk about being a better emperor?"
"I will be a better emperor. My father threw away a brilliant opportunity when he tried to kill the Queen of Blades. Now it's my turn. What do you think the people will think of me when I style myself as the victorious warrior prince that struck down the greatest threat the sector has ever known? The people will love me. There will be no need for me to rule through fear. My father would become a footnote and the Dominion would be free. Besides, my father isn't that young anymore. I have time on my side."
"Time's on no one's side, Valerian," Raynor bellowed, barely able to contain his rage "Do you have any idea what you are doing?"
A sigh followed. "Are you going to tell me that we cannot kill her? That a great doomy doom of doom is approaching and she is the only one who can stop it?" If mockery could be charted, that last sentence would have fallen right off it. "What is this, badly written fan fiction?!"
Raynor wanted to tell him about the Ihan crystal, about Zeratul's warning, but he realized it was pointless. Valerian would not believe him and Raynor would just sound like a raving lunatic. There was nothing he could do. Dammit, he should have seen this coming. Like father, like son.
"Agent X41822N, would you kindly arrest the rebel commander? Warfield, order your men to round up the remaining Raiders."
That was the final straw for the aging general. Raynor may be far from perfect but he had done more for mankind than anyone else Warfield knew. Consequences be damned, he would NOT betray the man who saved his life and that of his men on more times than he could count.
"Listen to me pup," He bellowed with a voice that would make an ultralisk soil itself. "this man did more for the Dominion, hell, for everyone in the sector, than the rest of us put together. If he says Kerrigan should live, then she'll live. I trust him with that."
"You disappoint me, General. I hoped you'd be able to see the bigger picture. Agent X41822N, arrest General Warfield too, along with anyone who sides with the Raiders. I'll send someone to convert his camp into a proper prison facility." The communicator powered down. The prince was gone.
Raynor felt his heart shatter. Losing Kerrigan once to Mengsk senior was bad enough, but now one of junior's pet ghosts took her away from him too. In truth, he fully expected the Prince to turn on him. He just didn't realize it would be this soon. The transport carrying his beloved disappeared into the sky, carrying with it the only hope the sector had to halt the coming storm. If Zeratul was right, Valerian just doomed all creation to one-up his father and earn himself a good approval rating. Maybe Kerrigan would escape? Maybe someone might break her free? Zeratul? Even if he knew about this, would he show up in time? The rebel commander's hopes sank deeper by the second.
As Nova and the remaining ghosts escorted them back to camp, the last shred of hope drained from his boots. The Dominion had rounded up what remained of the Raiders. Even Matt. They must have gotten the Hyperion too.
He had failed them. He offered them hope, he offered them freedom, and in return for their sacrifices, all they got was another cage. He looked into the distance as the remains of a hive collapsed under its own weight. Such a fitting metaphor for his Raiders.
Funny how fast things can change, indeed.
An hour and a pile of dead feral Zerg later, Tai and Larry arrived at their landing pad with a small band of zerglings. While controlling Zerg became easier with practice, it was unlikely that a weak psychic like Cain would be able command more Zerg than the common overlord. Still, it was enough for now. Nevertheless, he needed to get to Char and find the Queen, or anyone for that matter. There was no way in hell he could unite the broods himself.
The infested Terran let out a sigh of relief. At least the leviathan was still alive. Most other Zerg had gone feral and had tried to eat him, each other, or what little remained of the facility. Leviathans were relatively docile by nature, which proved to be their saving grace. Tai and Larry entered the massive bowels of the creature, leaving the zerglings behind. He worried that he would need all his concentration to command the massive war-beast and there was no way of knowing what the zerglings would do once he loosened his grip over them. At least now, all they could do is chew on the rivets. If that brought the structure down, well, he had seen enough of that forsaken lab to last a lifetime. He commanded the leviathan to return home and to his surprise, the creature listened. Hopefully, they weren't too late.
A/N Oh good lord you people are reading this? Reviews too? You lot just made my day.
Anyway, my first actual dialogue. How do you lot think it turned out? Please leave a review. You cannot imagine how satisfying a great complement is. It's like drugs, except it's legal!