They were created by the Terran Dominion, secret weapons forged from Zerg flesh and Terran steel. They were the ultimate war machines, unstoppable on the battlefield. They were incapable of questio...
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 10: Traitor
Traenid looked up as Esralath entered the command Nexus on the north side entrance of the mesa. This particular outpost was the most heavily hit, and consequently, the most heavily armed. Ten of the sixteen powerful antimatter cannons were controlled directly by this nexus. Traenid turned away from the myriad holoprojectors, which were showing the point-of-view of dozens of observers that were patrolling the area. Esralath seated herself next to his station, which was separate from the other command stations in the nexus; the door to this command station was the heaviest built, since it contained all the override controls.
"Greetings, Esralath. Any news from the Executor?"
Traenid suddenly had a strange feeling, but he was distracted from it when a screen suddenly flashed a real-time view of an immense Thres'nalop force converging on his position. It was not a tiny scouting force, but an assault group filled with thousands of noblades, stoneblades, steelblades, darkblades, and daggers, acompanied by hundreds of sickles and Bloodscythes. He would be overrun in a matter of minutes; the main base would be vulnerable if this happened. If only Straas and Szcraa had not gone, we /might be able to hold them/. He reached towards his control panel, intent on opening a transmission to Tarthan/Jetok at the main base. They had to send out a sortie force to assist him.
Esralath grabbed his hand, stopping it.
"Esralath! We have to warn..." He looked into her eyes. Something... something was wrong.
"What!? Esralath..." He began to rise from his seat.
"The plans of Ulreathan and the Thres'nalop will not be impeded."
Traenid just had enough time to register horror before Esralath's fist smashed into his head, and he lost consciousness.
"Love, you can put me down," Straas murmured to the Ignited Szcraa, who had been carrying him for the last half hour. It would take them at least three hours from them to negotiate the numerous canyons and mountains that dotted the distance between the camp and the ambush site. Szcraa slowed and put him done. He wobbled a bit. Szcraa braced him, and he stopped swaying.
"Are you sure you are all right?"
Szcraa suddenly broke into tears. She threw her arms around him and kissed him savagely. "I almost lost you," she murmured into his shoulder, her lithe, strong shoulders shuddering.
"I almost died, Szcraa," he said, "But you saved my life."
"Like you saved me from that creature."
"A Demonblade. Ulreathan's own DNA went into creating that monster."
"Ye-Straas! I sense Protoss! Over inside those caves!"
He and his mate rushed over to one of the caves. He stuck his head in.
"AHHHH! ZERG!" came a mental scream from within the cave. Straas grimaced. Now was definitely /not /the time for refugee Dark Templars to be scared of him.
"I was sent here by the Gray Shadow Fleet. I'm only here to help! I-" He stopped when a Dark Templar rushed him, warp blade ignited. With a deft move, he caught the arm of the Dark Templar, a youngish male. He lifted the Protoss into the air by his arm. The Protoss kicked and punched.
"/We are not here to harm you/!"
"Let go of me, you Zerg filth!" The Dark Templar struggled harder in his grip
"Stop trying to stab me and I will!"
"I have no idea how you can talk, but I will carve your vocal cords out of your throat after I-"
"I thought Esralath briefed them that we were coming," he said to Szcraa, ignoring the enraged Protoss' threats.
"What have you done to Esralath!?" screamed the Protoss that was dangling by his arm. The Protoss' efforts to free himself redoubled.
"Nothing. She sent us here. Your sister was intent on rescuing you," replied Szcraa.
"How did you know that she was Thralen's sister?" came a voice from within the cave. An old Dark Templar male decloaked and stood before them. Straas was relieved to see that the warp blade on the older Protoss' arm remained silent.
"Thralen! Stop! Whoever they are, they could have killed you if they wanted to. Stop resisting and he will release you," the older Dark Templar said to the younger Protoss. The young Dark Templar stopped struggling, and looked sullenly at Straas. He put the Protoss gently down on the ground.
"I am Xavan. Thralen is my son, and Esralath is my daughter. Thralen is my youngest child, only a mere 168 years of age," he said to the them. "I am curious, however, as to how you know that Esralath is Thralen's sister."
"To make a long and tragic story short, we have advanced psionic abilities. Minor telepathy is one of those abilities," explained Straas. He wondered why Esralath did not contact them, as she said she did.
"How many of you are there?" queried Szcraa.
"We have about three hundred survivors distributed around the surrounding caves," replied Xavan. Three hundred!
"We have to organize them to move all at the same time. The Thres'nalop are combing the area. The main base is only twelve kilometers away. Are there any infirm or injured among you?"
"Yes. But that will not be a problem. We have a very large number of Corsairs hidden in several caves. We have enough to lift all the sick, young and old to your base. We kept them hidden lest they be seen and shot down by these... 'Thres'nalop', you call them?"
Straas suddenly felt a shockwave emanating from the Protoss base camp to the south. He steadied Thralen and Xavan, who were nearly thrown from their feet. His sensors identified the force as equivalent to a score of Protoss photon cannons in action. He knew that only antimatter cannons were the only ones that unleash that sort of power. The Protoss base was under attack by Thres'nalop forces.
"Executor! We are being attacked by overwhelming numbers in space! The carriers True Light /and /Starsong /have been completely destroyed, and the /Star Reaver/, /Raksala, Final Judgement /and /Thunder Blade have been heavily damaged. We need support from the antimatter cannons on the surface.
"We will try to consolidate a landing point so we can provide mutual support. We begin descent in thirty minutes. We should reach the surface forty minutes after that," came the urgent voice of Templar Deneras, who Tarthan/Jetok had left in command of the fleet in orbit.
"So this is it, Tarthan."
"Moment of truth, yes."
"Should we not have received a warning from Traenid back at the northern base?"
"Perhaps they were overwhelmed too quickly."
"Even to send a message? No, something else happened."
He looked around, at all his warriors and war machines that were ready to battle-and to die. They were hideously outnumbered; they were hopelessly outgunned. Even with the power of the Cyberlisks he knew his base was doomed...
They needed to delay the Thres'nalop so the Dark Templar aboard the orbital carriers could unload the survivors. After that, the Arbiters Scantid Claw /and Tassadar/ would need enough time to get a dimensional recall lock and whisk away the survivors. Tarthan/Jetok clenched his fists and prepared for the unstoppable tide.
"Why, Esralath? Why?" Traenid half-demanded, half-pleaded. He was shackled up to the wall, held up by glowing energy chains. He knew now how the Thres'nalop had known they were coming onto the surface on the first scouting mission. When they had been on the /Revarus/, she had been sending something to the surface. It had not been intended for her family, but for the Thres'nalop.
"Ulreathan will give the Dark Templar safety from the persecution of the Templar," Esralath said, her eyes blazing yellow.
"You know what Ulreathan will do to all non-Thres'nalop life! He intends death to all in this univ-"
"You are wrong! He has promised me, and he does not lie."
Traenid felt frustration and sorrow well up within him. "So was your love for me nothing? Was it just so you could get into here and advance your 'plans'?"
Esralath's eyes flickered, with what looked like to Traenid as genuine pain and regret. But then it was gone. "I'm... sorry... Traenid. I had genuine feelings for you... really..."
"Then why!?" I-" He was cut off as a transmission from the main base was heard
"/This is Tarthan/Jetok. Anyone who can hear me! Get the antimatter cannons online. We need to provide ground fire for our carriers and Arbiters/!" The transmission cut.
"Please, Esralath! Lives depend on this! Are you condemning hundreds of Dark Templar to die? Are-"
"/Silence/!" Esralath screamed.
"You are condemning hundreds to die."
I said be silent!" Esralath activated her warp blade. Her eyes had gone cold and dangerous.
"You have betrayed /everyone/, Esralath. Me. Tarthan/Jetok. Your /family/."
He was going to say more, but Esralath's warp blade swept down, stabbing deep into his torso. Cold pain drove its fingers into his stomach. Esralath backed away from him, a look of horror and rage mixed in her eyes. As blue blood began to gush out from the mortal wound, he felt darkness begin to come.
The sick and old and young stayed back with Corsairs, with a few warriors left to guard them. She, Straas, and all the volunteer Dark Templar warriors were running at top speed, while two-dozen of the spare Corsairs zipped through the air. A total of two hundred warriors accompanied she and Straas. As they rounded a hill, they were greeted with a hideous sight.
Ulreathan was standing amid piles of Protoss corpses, both Dark and Light Templar. The bodies on the ground were unmarked, but they were lifeless; Ulreathan must have had drained them of all energy. She halted and signaled for the others to stop. Ulreathan was more powerful than Straas; he was more powerful than everyone else. She glanced over at Straas, who had locked eyes with Ulreathan. Straas' eyes narrowed. His plasma cannons unfolded up from his back, and he Ignited. Ulreathan unsheathed his twin swords and cackled.
"So. You are still alive, now with more energy to feed me," Ulreathan cackled maniacally. "You will die now slowly, Straas, and I will make sure everyone else falls while you watch, helpless."
Szcraa shifted he gaze back to Straas and stiffened, ready to battle.
"Szcraa. Get the Dark Templar to the main base. They will be needed there. I'll take care of him."
She felt unnamable emotions well up inside her. She did want Straas to die again.
"I will come through this, Szcraa. Please, take them to the encampment," said Straas, calmness in his voice. They locked eyes for a moment, and she knew it would be true. Blinking away tears of fear and anxiety, and feeling determination well up within her, she gestured for the Dark Templar to follow her and headed for the main battle.
Tarthan/Jetok plunged into battle, thousands of fighting Protoss machines and warriors at his back. A half-hour later, he was still battling fiercely. The Thres'nalop would not let up, and they were encroaching closer and closer to where the carriers would be landing. He needed more /time/.
Time was not on his side, however.
Of his carriers that had been in the atmosphere, the Aniopith /and the /Veranath had been destroyed by talons and Rapiers. Khala's Chosen could barely stay in the air on its damaged anti-gravity generators, and its interceptors engaged in close-quarters aerial combat with the Thres'nalop talons and Rapiers. The Taeralyn had been on the other side of the mesa, and was only now joining the battle. In forty minutes the carriers up in orbit would begin landing sequence, and they would be vulnerable. He jerked his hands left and fried a Thres'nalop darkblade that had been ravaging a Protoss body on the ground.
The carriers... Both parts of him knew what they had to do... Drawing on his internal power, he charged forward, his arms spewing blue psionic death.
His sacrifice would not nearly be enough to save all, but it would buy the survivors time. Hopefully enough time...
As he battled the Thres'nalop arrayed all around him, his shields began to shimmer.
"We are part of the Khala..."
"...we shall never truly die."
"We are one with the Khala..."
"...Let no one of this deny."
"May our life bring life to our people."
"May our life bring death to our enemies."
"May our death bring hope to those who have none."
"May all who serve darkness feel our might."
"May all know us; THE KHALA'S LIGHT!"
With that his power went into overload and his psionic energy built toward terminal levels. His last energy pulse would wipe out hundreds upon hundreds of the closely packed Thres'nalop. In their last moment of sight, Tarthan and Jetok saw that help had arrived: two hundred Dark Templar led by Szcraa the Cyberlisk.