DK ' 2000

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- Intricate Unknown -

Written by: Arian Solberg
Last Updated: 12.26.1999
Word Count:

Chapter V - Terror Revived

The world burned.
It was midday, and the twin suns of Tengus-4 were unleashing their wrath on the planet below. Dust hung in the air, slowly choking the land with its dry omnipresence. Even the most resistant of plants showed signs of pain and distress. Their wilted bodies seemed to bow before the mighty Helios, who spurred his chariot of fire across the sky above. The native creatures left their dens only to hunt, but food was scarce, and many would soon die.

Shugar's camp, contrary to the lethargic land around it, was alive with anxiety. The troops had been assembled and were awaiting orders while officers attempted to yell instructions above the clamor. Arclite siege tanks were firmly rooted into the chapped earth at key positions, their shock cannons extended upward ready to deploy death at a moment's notice. The barracks were empty, weapons had been moved out of storage, and tension was in the air. Marines kept their guns close and their minds sharp in anticipation of the unknown. It was as if the entire camp were a colossal mousetrap, armed and baited, with no one knowing when it would snap.
Lieutenant Shugar strode through the mesh of nerves and excitement when another man appeared at his flank. Shugar recognized him as Sergeant Amon, an experienced and highly respected officer of the confederacy.
"All men have been placed on priority standby Sir. All that's left is your word and we'll make the Zerg bleed."
Shugar nodded, "Very good Sergeant, have your men stand by. We are not staging an attack."
Amon appeared puzzled, "I don't understand. Never have our forces amassed so quickly and with such power. If there is to be no battle, what possible reason is left?"
"I never said there wouldn't be a battle Sergeant, I said we will not be the ones to initiate it."
Amon visibly tensed, "The Zerg move!?"
"Not yet," Shugar replied. "But it is a definite possibility in the near future. And we cannot be caught unprepared."
"Sir…. Permission to speak freely?"
"Rumors have started circulating around the base. Many people don't expect to live much longer. This sudden mobilization combined with your stoic secrecy has left a lot of people guessing, myself included. I know that there is much more at stake here than you care to admit." Shugar tried to protest but was cut short by Amon holding up his hand, "Please don't deny it. I have known you for years and can read your thoughts almost as well as my own. You are keeping something from not only me, but from all of the officers who stand under your control. I still trust however, that you are doing this for a good reason, and I want you to understand that regardless of the situation, we will all stand by you until the bitter end."
Shugar placed a hand warmly on his friend's shoulder, "You have helped to ease my thoughts, and for that, I thank you. But you must believe me when I say that hiding the truth is not my decision, I am under strict orders from Emperor Mengks himself."
Amon's eyes widened, "Gods! Arcturus is involved? This is more serious than I thought."
"Yes, even more so than you understand now. But please, we can discuss this no further. See to your men and try to calm them. This will all soon be over, that much is inevitable. The outcome however, is still very much to be decided."
"Yes sir." The Sergeant saluted, turned on his heels, and walked away. Shugar watched him for a moment appreciatively, before he too moved off into a crowd.

Tsetra's hands caressed the tempered steel of her knife. Around its intricate grooves and textures came her wise fingers, over the handle, across the hilt and back again. She knew no boundary between the vulnerable flesh and its hard metal. She felt a bond forming between them - creator and creation working symbiotically for a common goal.
It was a sturdy design, made to endure harsh treatment in trying situations. Forged of the finest alloy and meticulously crafted by a brilliant artist aspiring to perfection. Tsetra treated it however, as if it had been blown from glass: an aesthetic work of art that needed protection. In a fit of passion or rage, the blade would serve as a window out of madness. A chance to unleash every scrap of fear and confusion into a another living soul. Wrongs would be avenged, and prices would be paid. In her tranquillity, and in her chamber, they were meaningless. But when possessed by a demon, and lobbed into the mindless bedlam of war, together they could destroy lives, which was remarkable.
Her mind was snapped back to the present by a distinct chime. She slid her blade back into its sheath before standing.
"Come," she projected.
The metallic doors slid open effortlessly, revealing Jake on the other side. He walked through the open portal wearing a somber expression. When their eyes met however, he seemed to brighten a bit before speaking.
"Tsetra, hello. I… I'm not interrupting you am I?"
She smiled, "No, of course not. Please come in and sit."
He walked a bit closer, but remained standing. "I can't stay long, I just… I had to see you again before something happens."
Although Tsetra knew much more about the current situation then he did, she feigned ignorance, "What do you mean 'something'?"
Jake was staring vacantly at the floor, "There may be an attack soon. One that… we might not be able to turn away. So, I just wanted to look at you one more time.. " He looked up, and spoke into her deep ashen eyes, "…and thank you for saving my life."
"You are very welcome, I could not have done any less." They both stood in silence for a few moments, before Tsetra prodded further. "There's… more isn't there?"
"Yes," he whispered through a trembling voice. "When I think about those horrible things, and what they did to me, I… I can't go through it again. Even though it violates everything the army has taught me, and tears me apart inside… I am frightened… a spineless coward."
"No!" she interjected, "You are human! And that, I am afraid, is something the confederacy dreadfully needs more of. But even so, do not permit your emotions to cloud your judgment. And trust Shugar, for he will not allow you or anyone else to die in a meaningless war. Even as we speak, the Zerg colony is under constant surveillance, should they make any move to attack, we will instantly be alerted to it. Within forty-eight hours, Emperor Mengks' men will arrive with a fleet of warships, at which time we will evacuate."
Jake showed confusion, "How do you-"
"I just know," She interrupted. "You can't afford to lose your head. Not now. Try to stay calm, and you will live to avenge the pain they brought upon you."
He almost smiled, "Thank you again… for everything."
"Again, you're very welcome. I'll see you soon."
He nodded, and walked back to the door which eagerly opened.
Tsetra spoke as he was stepping into the corridor, "Illigitimus non carbarundum est, Jake."
He returned the translation, "Don't let the bastards get you down."
"You know Latin?" She called after him, but he was already gone.

* * *

Hours later, and many miles away, wisps of smoke lazily drifted upward into the vast midnight sky. A red glow burned into the darkness for an instant, before yielding to the relentless void. Once again, the hazy gray matter blew in, and floated ever upward.
Indeed, it would have been quite a sight to the uneducated observer, one that might be attributed to optical trickery. If one took the time however, to sweep a beam of light about the area, it would soon reveal a clever disguise as the ray would twist and skew through the psionic translucency of a Terran Ghost. Yet without the proper equipment, or a form of extrasensory projection, he would be quite impossible to track. Disregarding of course, his foolish decision to smoke a cigarette.
Their reputation had spread far and wide because of this uncanny ability that only the confederacy had truly mastered. Yet underneath the thick bulwark of his consciousness trembled a small man, whose life had been stolen by those who had no right. To achieve such a status which men and woman alike would envy, a great sacrifice had been made: his chance to lead a normal life.
From birth he had been poked and prodded with abnormal devices and unnatural purposes. Tubes ran into a delicate child, and results flowed out to be recorded and studied. Where most would experience cradles and loving parents, he only understood the cold empty feeling of lab tables and lights, with strange beings in masks hovering about, ensuring he would grow up to be "all he could be." It was a choice he was never given, and an injustice he could never avenge.
The small speaker in his ear allowed for instant communication, should the need arise. At the touch of a button, he could receive and transmit an audio message anywhere within a radius of thirty miles. He had been on duty for approximately an hour, leaving at least another 2 until the shift change.
As he smothered the butt of the cigarette on his boot, he casually glanced up into the sky, and noticed an odd silhouette drifting through the moonlight. He squinted his eyes in an attempt to better see through the unrelenting darkness but to little avail. As it moved close however, the dangling tentacles made it painfully obvious that it was a zerg overlord - one of the few tools available to the swarm for detecting cloaked bodies. The Ghost sat with a blank look on his face, and slowly licked his lips as they had become quite dry. His body froze in place, refusing to move, even when the bushes around him began to rustle, and the notorious hissing drew nearer.

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