Tom Kazansky had been working with the rest of his squadron to destroy the eyeballs plaguing the nearby battlecruisers - so far they'd had little success in stymieing the massive amount of fighters, but had at least managed to allow the Jackson's revenge to warp away, despite being crippled, and managed to shoot down a few more of the "odd-balls".

Tom supposed their enemy was testing new designs with this battle. "That's fine. Even the better ships they send out don't last more than ten seconds in the ring with a wraith." Tom thought with some pride.

Suddenly, a string of emissions, let out by a recently-warp shifted Ragnarok, caught his eye on the scanners, seeming to make a certain pattern.

"Bolshev wouldn't be signalling like this for just anything. No old man in the Koprulu sector gets to be that old without an impressive pedigree behind him by being stupid.…" Tom thought to himself.

"Squadron, we're going to take a hard left. Head for the Ragnarok. Any eyeball that gets in our way either gets scrapped immediately or left in the dust. Thrusters on max.

"Something tells me this is the start of something horrible."


Fighting their way through to Bolshev's battlecruiser was the easy part. The eyeball-fighters were like a swarm of bees, but they were mostly(and ineffectively) focused on the battlecruisers, which had enough armor to deal with them relatively easily.

The Wraiths in the battle, meanwhile, were allowed to strike often and harshly at the wedge-shaped capital ships, and their gemini missiles managed to score damage the eyeballs couldn't match. One of the wedge-shaped ships had been brought to a standstill from engine damage and seemed more than due for an explosion of - whatever it was that powered them - from the dangerous emissions coming from the engines.

What Eyeballs did come their way were either avoided or left with a few perforated holes through their fragile frames to think about. Kazansky had criticized Dunsil, but he knew one of the reasons he was on this mission was due to having low favor with the emperor himself, and while he knew nothing of command, he was definitely not a bad pilot.

"This is Private Tom Kazansky, Broadcasting on all frequencies. Ragnarok, You in range? I repeat, Ragnarok, you in Range?" Kazansky asked, now a few hundred Kilometers away from the battlecruiser. He'd been trying to get a hold of Bolshev for minutes now, but the jamming technique of the Imperial star destroyers were effective, and Kazansky found himself wondering if he'd need to be close enough to smell Bolshev's breath before his signal would be picked up. "Private Kazansky?" A familiar voice asked through his commsystem. "This sounds like I've got quite the story to listen to after the battle - once we're finished saving the throne, that is."

Kazansky sighed in relief.

That relief caught in his throat, however, when he heard Bolshev's full report. hundreds of thousands of troops, en route to Korhal.

"So, did you try shooting the carriers down?" Kazansky asked in a more serious tone.

"Of course. That is the source of the Ragnarok's current excessive redecorating." Bolshev responded, referring to the numerous scars and damages all along the hull of the Ragnarok. I'm not the first captain to discover this, I believe, but I am the only one who hasn't already gone down with the ship. The enemy clearly wants us blind to the coming invasion, and leaving the battle without interception is growing difficult for our battlecruisers. However… perhaps a squadron of fighters might work better?" Bolshev said with a knowing smile.

Kazansky couldn't contradict Bolshev's orders, due to the difference in their also wouldn't, because he knew Bolshev was right. still… "This is a suicide mission, you know that? The moment these freaks notice our ships leaving for Korhal, they'll be on our asses. We're probably not going to make it."

Bolshev responded with a slight grin. "Please… You're Tom Kazansky. You've piloted your way through worse minefields than this.

"I'm Tom Kazansky." Tom responded, glad this was a private comm between himself and Bolshev. "They're not. And I'll need the help of every single one of them to get through this."
Bolshev responded in a more serious and muted tone. "You're correct. But at this point, it looks like we're all going to die regardless. We may as well put our lives to use... I will not force you."

Tom sighed. This wasn't a new conversation, a new pattern going through his head. "You don't have to. We're going. We're going to need a bit of a distraction for a while, and I'm guessing you have a plan cooked up anyway. Any chance you can give these triangle-ships something else to think about?" Tom asked.

"Indubitably. We have a plan… and when it's completed, we will focus on supporting you."

"Then rush to it old man.


On the dark side of Korhal's nearest moon

Darrick Jones wiped the sweat from his forehead as he looked at the readings the listening post's sensor bank was giving him. What had started as a routine day looked to be turning into the largest Naval engagement in Terran history, and it looked like the Dominion was on the losing end.

It didn't bode well for the jobs - or, Darrick thought more realistically - lives of the people on the small outpost, especially when they'd entirely failed to catch the enemy fleet's entry. Apparently they used an entirely different form of FTL travel, one their sensors weren't equipped to pick up.

Darrick got up out of his plush chair to go get a cup of coffee, and find some peace among his coworkers.

Sitting at the coffee machine was Angie. He'd never liked Angie. She seemed to sit at the coffee machine all goddamn day, and while he had never seen her do work, the bitch had no problem snitching on anyone who slacked the slightest bit behind at work. He never did figure out how exactly she found out. Every. Single. Time.

Still, Angie was a co-worker, and part of being an employee, Darrick learned, was talking to people you hate politely and pretending you were friends. It was a technique built to stop the boring office atmosphere from becoming even more intolerable than it already was. So instead of saying "go fuck yourself", Darrick simply said. "How's it going, Angie?"

"To hell, from what the sensors are telling us."

"Lucky us, being set up this far away from the battle, huh?"
Angie looked away from him, pretending to be very interested in the coffee cup. "My parents were on a refugee ship heading through there. Torn to pieces in the cross-fire. Lucky thing I survived."

Any venom Darrick had towards Angie retreated to the back of his mind for the moment. "I'm sorry."

"What do you think's going to happen?"

Darrick poured his own coffee, As Angie started to shiver. "I don't know, Angie. Hell, no matter what way this goes, we might even be able to keep our old jobs. These guys seem more like us than the protoss or zerg were. Even if they were… seemingly cruel, from that transmission."

Angie shook her head. "I don't know if I could work for scum like that. Not after this."

"Angie, we've got the choice of-"

a scraping sound, far too loud and far too near, interrupted Darrick, and he froze in horror, slowly turning towards the door. "Is it the invaders?" Angie asked quietly, tears starting to form in her eyes.

Darrick just kept staring at the door, not bothering to answer, and soon found out that, no, it was not the invaders.

The thing that appeared was far more familiar.

It looked like a Hydralisk, but Darrick knew they only grew up to eight feet in height. The massive snake-like creature that had literally ripped off a good chunk of the wall by pulling a hole open with it's scythes was at least twelve, and seemed far more… animated than a Hydralisk. It's eyes were a bloodshot red, and filled with a life that seemed feral and crazed.

It turned towards them, and Darrick knew they were going to die. He felt Angie tug on his shirt, and he hugged her, bracing himself as the monster charged forward. Any thoughts about his opinion towards Angie left him as he felt the simple need not to die alone take over.


Imperial captain Blitzar Harrsk rubbed his head as he watched the cloaked fighters fire damaging volley after volley to death squadrons star destroyers. the damage they had done to the star destroyers were already going to cost millions of credits in repairs, and the loss of a star destroyer had already made this the most costly imperial engagement he had ever seen - and Harrsk was a veteran.

He just hoped his plan worked, assuming the stealth-fighters hadn't the shielding the battlecruisers apparently had to Ion weapons. He suspected the fact their armor was so thick and seemingly bereft of electronics had helped their case, with his ion weapons often draining less energy from the enemy ships than they were losing him.

With some modifications to the firing method of the ion cannons, and a change of certain components, however…

"Captain Harrsk! We can fire on your mark!" his first officer said. "The ion weapons have been changed according to your specification.

"Fire starboard. That's where I'd bet the bastards are right now." Harrsk said with a slight growl. "on my mark…

The Ion weapons charged, and Harrsk grinned as he could feel the hum of the star destroyer underneath him.

blue streams of light formed from the star destroyer's cannon, a river of color moving so fast it simply appeared as an instantly formed strand of Cerulean light rather than actually being fired from the ship.

These were not the usual blasts that could be seen streaking from the star destroyer's cannons, however. The blue strands of light, fired without being given the required amount of stabilizing solution, dispersed into an azure smokescreen that covered an area as large as the star destroyer itself. The sky blue cloud of gas dispersed in a matter of seconds, fading gradually from view as the plasma scattered across space.

When the light show was over, a dozen gray fighters appeared in front of him, robbed of their cloaking by the ion discharge. Harrsk was correct after all - they required energy to perform their cloaking feature, and their Shielding was either nonexistent or not enough to handle even a spread ion discharge from the star destroyers.

"Focus Starboard and central firepower on those fighters, and set a TIE squadron to tail them as well. I want them to be slagged in the next five minutes. Officer Antilles, send a message to the other ships, especially the executor. They need to know how to combat these fighters." Harrsk said with a grin. If nothing else, he'd just ensured a promotion for this.

"Sir!"

Harrsk turned to see a small, heavier officer - Davis, if he recalled right. Ridiculous name. "I"m getting some irregular readings. One of their ships seems to be firing at nothing, sir."

That was strange. Blitzar didn't like strange. He had to assume the captain wasn't an idiot, but why would it be firing at nothing. It could simply be an error with the ship, but it could also be.

"Show me the readings."

At first, Blitzar thought it was simply nonsensically firing towards the sky, but looking a little closer at the readings themselves, rather than what they translated to in terms of laser activity, Blitzar saw the issue. It was incredibly similar to a code system Harrsk had encountered on a mission near Mon Calamari, though it must have been using a different style than the Mon Calamari code system.

"Damned to hell, they've figured out a way around the Pride Of Tarlandias signal jamming!" Blitzar yelled. The star destroyer in question was built specifically for jamming enemy communications and coordination. But it couldn't jam a communication as simple as a primitive smoke signal. While he couldn't read the code itself, he knew it could mean only bad things for it to appear - just as Vader had sent the order to deploy the carriers.

"Has that ship been close enough to have communications contact with any other?"

"Some small fighters, but that's it. Perhaps they gave it orders to assist them with engagement?"
"...Or they're planning to warn the planetary defense force of our inbound ground forces…." Blitzar said, scratching his chin. "We can't allow that. Full speed ahead. blockade the planet. I don't care what it takes, put the Ithmar's fists engines to full-speed, then bring them as far past that as you can without blowing up the ship." Harrsk said, pacing the ship. "and without compromising the sensors."


The battle had turned even more in the imperials favor, As Harrsks Ion cannon modifications spread throughout the fleet. As it turned out, the wraiths produced a signature while flying that, while very indistinct and vague, allowed for a consistent hit with the modified ion discharge's massive blast radius.

While the blasts caused the ion cannons to need a half-minute to recharge after each salvo, it had made the Wraith fighters far less invincible, and while damage was still being registered on the star destroyers, the capacity to strip them of their cloak had allowed the star destroyers to destroy entire squadrons of wraith fighters looking for easy prey. Even now, however, the Stalker had exploded due to engine damage, and the Accuser seemed to be taking heavy damage as well.

Using conservatively applied psionic power and even more conservative parasites on the star destroyers, the cerebrate had watched the entire battle, and slowly learned more about both sides. Amazing, that these intruders were themselves primarily Terran. Clearly, the cerebrate thought, Terrans diverged far more than the protoss did in shape and form. In all reality, they seemed much closer to the zerg.

The Cerebrate checked on the listening post he had captured with Daggoth's aid, making sure the mutalisks he had created were hatching as scheduled.

"Cerebrate." Daggoth's voice echoed in his mind. "In completing this task for the overmind, we should make sure to cripple these imperial forces. And the terrans nearby, as well. Our enemies are divided, and we should crush them while they weaken one another.

The Cerebrate looking in confusion to Daggoth's forces, and his own. While they'd each created hundreds of mutalisks already using the resources the small moon had provided, they hadn't managed to create remotely enough forces to destroy either fleet, even pre-occupied as they were.

"You are a Cerebrate. You were not born merely to crush your opponent's forces with superior numbers. You are meant to bring tactical cunning to the swarm. Think on what you've learned of

this new opponent, and use it to find an exploitable weakness!"

The Cerebrate struggled with the idea, trying to force it's mind to think in a way as to allow it to accomplish this task. It's objectives had never been so vague before.

After a moment, Daggoth added "If you are capable of creating a tactic to deal with this, the overmind will be pleased. He is pleased by any addition to the swarm's evolution.

The Cerebrate thought about that, before taxing itself further. Perhaps it should look to the past, in order to see if old techniques could be evolved to fit this purpose. The Cerebrate had often looked to and then corrected the flaws in, or otherwise enhanced, older strategies used by other zerg.

Images of metal merging with Zerg flesh, and Terran materials serving the swarm's purpose, echoed in it's head, and as they did ideas flitted through the Cerebrate's own head, ideas regarding the modification of the queen strain and the possibility of…

Near the Cerebrate's cave, Daggoth felt the other cerebrate's mental focus, and it's clarity far surpassed that he had seen from any cerebrate before now - save perhaps himself, and it had taken him many centuries to gain its own level of tactical focus. Daggoth had not been lying when it had said the Overmind was pleased by any addition to the swarm's evolution, though he had not entirely been talking about the cerebrate's task. Indeed, Daggoth knew it was also his own, prodding this cerebrate to work harder.

He now understood why the Overmind had paired himself and Zasz with the young cerebrate. It's need for attention and thirst for growth, while not unprecedented in the swarm, had never been expressed so directly and with such an innocence to it before. It's desires for contact and approval by others, Daggoth realized, were terran concepts, and as Daggoth thought about it, the shyness of the cerebrate towards it's superiors, the increased reliance on emotional responses, the fact it's emotional state had such an impact on it's young mind's logical centers… All of these were terran patterns that didn't exist in cerebrates.

The Overmind had made this cerebrate to look after the psionic terran it prized - perhaps, then, it had used it's knowledge of terran neuro-biology to test out new evolutions in it's newest cerebrate. Using Zasz as a personality that might give negative reinforcement or an overbearing personality that would cause negative responses, he weighed it against the positive reinforcement that could come from a senior cerebrate, or the Overmind himself. Testing the drawbacks that came with both, he looked to conclude if such traits could be beneficial to the swarm.

Therefore, it was his duty in this mission to make sure that the Cerebrate's progression continued, and that it's tactical ability further developed and evolved. Moreover, Daggoth found himself personally interested in how far this new addition to the swarm might go if pushed, and found himself impressed with the Cerebrate and it's potential.

Yes, if correctly prodded and supported, this Cerebrate could potentially become one of the swarm's best assets…


Tom kept his breathing under tight control as his squadron struck into and through the squadron of Eyeballs that hadn't noticed his squadron coming from behind in cloak. The loss of wraith cloaking had crippled a lot of the dominion fighter squadrons in orbit, and at least thirty different squadrons had been shot down by now. The squadrons left were mostly veteran pilots who, like Kazansky, had worked for years before the apollo reactors had become a common addition to their fighters, and knew how to "fly without cover". still, the wraiths and their eyeball-shaped opponents had managed to make this a very thickly contested area, and it was easier to note the stretches of space free of laser discharges or exploding missiles.

Tom guided his squadron through as quickly as they dared, but he swore as a fighter to his left caught alight on his left wing, and a small shot zinged at the structual integrity of his own wraith, clipping just above his belly-mounted burst laser. A soft yellow tone colored that part of the wireframe on his HUD, and he knew they were going to take even more losses as they attempted to fight through the muck of fighters.

Another Wraith exploded in a fiery conflagration on his right, and Tom knew that the chances of any of them making it through this firefight were currently far too low. Frankly, he was unaware if they stood any-

a trio of explosions struck to the right of Tom's fighter, and his cameras confirmed a group of TIE's tailing his wraiths had suddenly exploded.

"Don't worry about it, Kazansky. 183rd squadron's Sergeant Sam Hill, currently serving on the DSF Ragnarok . Not sure what your chit-chat with our captain was, but it looked important. We'll give you an escort out of this firefight."

Kazansky sighed in relief. They apparently hadn't been able to maintain communication with the Ragnarok, which made this sort of dedication to their captain all the more impressive.

"Just make sure to save some for later. I haven't iced nearly enough of these space-crates they call fighters yet." Kazansky countered with a smile. "We're going to divert power to the engines - think you can make enough of a mess to keep them off our tail?"

"And here I thought you were going to ask for something hard."

Captain Blitzar Harrsk frowned. His TIEs had been nearly lost to a man after that last scrimmage, and it appeared he wouldn't be capable of holding his opponent with just starfighters.

"This has gone on quite long enough. Bring the ship around towards the planet. Run an intercept course for that fighter squadron. Those fighters will be sorry they had ever had the misfortune of crossing the empire."

Blitzar silently looked out the bridge's window as he thought, planned, for this confrontation. Harrsk didn't expect too much of a struggle from a single squadron of even these upgraded fighters… but he also refused to lose due to simple overconfidence. He would wait carefully on their approach, make sure they had no way through, and blast them from the sky as they tried and failed to escape his grasp. With just the slightest amount of care and some careful maneuvers, they would be his…

Kazansky turned a hard right, evading the TIE's on a near-collision course with his ship. The TIEs his squadron were fighting seemed to be elite pilots, using faster and more powerful versions of the eyeball-craft he'd seen elsewhere, and he guessed the strangely-shaped eyeballs were proper air superiority craft, rather than the more standardized craft his pilots had been facing earlier.

Tom's squadron had no problem taking them on - Dunsil had just destroyed a pair of these craft with a few well-aimed laser blasts - What bothered him was the fact they were focused less on taking out his squadron and more concerned with pinning them down. Any move his squadron had taken to attempt to break away from the fight - even when it would cost the opponent good ships - had been stopped.

It didn't take Kazansky long to figure out why, checking his sensors - a large craft was moving towards them, in a manner that made it's intent unmistakable. "It just can't be easy, can it?" Kazansky thought to himself. While the other squadron's ships were unmistakably weaker than their own, there were a lot of them, and their pilots were pretty good. They could pin down Kazansky's ships long enough for that wedge ship to blast them to smithereens.

Tom thought about their options, as Dunsil broke in on the comm.
"What should we do, captain?"

"Keep firing, we need to… Actually, Squadron, disengage. We're going to turn on full-cloak."
"We won't get far enough to get out of this cloud of fighters."

"That's what I'm banking on."


"they've cloaked… So they're going to try to evade us with that overdone trick. Disappointingly easy." Harrsk said with a grin. "Keep on the intercept course, and charge up the ion discharge. They can't escape us. and get those TIE's on intercept for when they reappear. They'll be attempting to skirt past us - so make sure you inform those pilots as to why our aim is feared across the galaxy."

Harrsk watched the sensors as well as the windows, as the whine of the Ion discharge rang throughout the ship. the Rainbow spectacle repeated, And Harrsk looked out in hopes of catching the fleeing ships for a few seconds before they were destroyed.

What he saw… Wasn't the image of retreating ships. Instead, he saw a group of eight fighters heading directly for his bridge, as his TIE interceptors clumsily turned around to pursue them, not expecting the enemy fighters to head directly towards a capital ship. Who would!
"All cannons on that ship, immediately open fire!" Harrsk yelled.

"The interceptors are directly behind them. They'll get caught in the crossfire.

A barrage of missiles struck all too close to the bridge, and Harrsk's curse was unheard as a second barrage behind them - that of laser fire from the Interceptors attempting to hit the maneuverable craft - followed. Ordinarily such fire wouldn't do significant damage to a star destroyer's shields, but when fired after such devastating missiles hit the capital ship… Incompetence.

"I said fire! And give orders to the interceptors to veer out of the way of fire! Whether or not they respond quickly enough, you will fire all cannons on those starfighters!" Harrsk yelled. They needed to end this farce of a battle quickly, or they would be facing death themselves. He had made a minor miscalculation with this plan… if only he'd kept just a bit more distance, he…

This was no time for second-guessing. And regardless of minor upsets, there was no chance Blitzar Harrsk would let his prey escape.


Kazansky fired both of his gemini missiles before going into a sharp turn, bringing his fighter from sitting just above the side of the ship to directly below it, his craft currently turned upside-down relative to the Star destroyer itself.

"Team, We're going after the engines next. Attack pattern Alpha-Epsilon five. You might wanna put a bit of power into your shields while you're at it. those Eyeballs are hungry for the chance to get a clear shot at some wraiths today."

"I haven't done this maneuver since the academy, Kazansky."

"Well that's probably why you suck at it, Stevens."

"Ouch. Sorry I touched a nerve, old-timer. I'm sure you practiced this maneuver every morning on the way to school back in your day."

Kazansky went to say something back, but as explosions rocked the back of his ship, he decided to let Stevens have his terrible retort for now. There was no way Stevens was going to hear him over all the different, screaming noises assaulting their ears at the moment, and Kazansky wasn't about to bother wasting energy with it while he threaded his wraith through the barrage of fire. There must have been dozens of shots to dodge with every turn he made, and for all the damage the gemini missiles were doing, they couldn't manage to get a hit past the shielding on the dozens of turrets focused on making his squadron's life a living hell.

Stevens' engines began sputtering - Tom didn't know from what, he hadn't seen the hit - and his ship exploded with a high-pitched squeal. Tom had never known a wraith's explosion to sound quite like that before. A young recruit by the name of Casey was the next to go, and Tom knew it was time to use their trump.

"Alright, you guys got the jury-rig going?"

Tom heard nothing but affirmatives.

"Tau-Alpha four. And be ready with those buttons."

Tom banked towards the other side of the ship, appearing right in front of it, before checking the energy gauge attached to his HUD, and pressed the button to cloak.

"Make peace with your imaginary friend of choice, boys. we're engaging."

Tom pulled his wraith around in an almost 180 degree turn, heading directly for the top portion of the wedge-ship, and began to wish he had an imaginary friend of his own to believe in.


"Sir, we're detecting strange readings from the…"

Harrsk cut off the officer with a simple hand-wave, before pointing forward with his hand. "Fire!" He yelled, as the wraiths appeared directly at the bow of his ship. Harrsk had no idea what plan they might have that would involve appearing so far away from anything important on the ship, but he didn't want to give them the chance to show him.

Turbolaser fire jetted towards the enemy fighters, the first barrage neatly evaded by all but one of the incoming ships, the unfortunate pilot immediately picked off from his ejection seat by one of the point defense guns.

The rest, however, immediately vanished.

"Blast! Can their drives regenerate their energy that quickly! Or… Ready an ion discharge. Take them out of cloak!"

The ion cannons came online now, and all turned in the assumed flight path of the wraith fighters. blue mist obscured his vision, and Harrsk felt he understood their ploy now. They felt the obscuring effects of the ion discharge might keep them safe. A pity… Harrsk's sensors were more than enough to punch through the effects of the depleted plasma.

Or so Harrsk thought. He saw the wraiths come through clearly on their scanners, watched their ships come into vision on the sensors, detecting attack paths… before immediately cloaking again.

"What the hell is going on. Why isn't the discharge keeping their systems offline."

"Sir… the discharge didn't take them offline in the first place. they de-cloaked a moment before the discharge was fired, it seems. It taxed their energy, but our scanners detect they were far from empty."

"They've isolated their cloaking systems from the rest of the fighter - created a buffer for them somehow. As long as they don't have their cloaking on…" Harrsk realized the issue. "Fire all cannons on probable flight paths, increase shielding to the bridge!" Harrsk yelled. "They wanted to get rid of our discharge before taking out the command deck! fire another ion discharge as soon as it's online! Officer Antilles, set our engines for a short-range jump. We may have to make a tactical retreat if…"

The ion discharges fired again, and this time, not only did Wraiths not resurface in front of Harrsk, but nothing appeared at all on the sensors.

"What the hell's going on!"
A crash and rumble in the ship resounded through the ship, and Harrsk felt his heart sink.
"Sir, the engines…"

Sure enough, the sensors that were still online showed several wireframes of different fighter ships, sitting directly behind the ship's engines, the engines of the Ithmar's Fist whose shields had been taxed even before this confrontation began, that this wing of fighters had previously struck repeatedly, and which, in 3d space, merely required a horizontal turn around the width of the star destroyer to have a clear shot at.

Harrsk heard a warning Klaxon resound throughout his ship, saw a sensor recreation of a barrage of missiles strike the engines of the Ithmar's fist, and knew this was the last time he would see the ship.

Not even bothering to say a word to his crew, Harrsk ran to the escape pods, despite knowing he had only a few seconds at best. He heard a dull roar shortly after clearing the door, following behind him with a wail that sounded to Harrsk like the souls of the damned trying to reach him, and managed two more steps before the explosion reached him, the explosion wracking his body in pain for just a few brief seconds, before Harrsk lost consciousness entirely.

Tom couldn't believe it. For such a large, seemingly impossible to destroy ship, his team had managed to fight through the fleet, just barely managing to defeat his opponent.

"First and second round's on me when we get back, ladies and gents." Tom said into his comm, with a chuckle to himself, before turning his cloaking back on. There was still a lot of space to cover until they reached comm range of Korhal, and plenty of fighters still willing to get in the way.


Korhal IV, outskirts of Augustgrad:

"Agent X2IIJLN"

"Copy that." A disembodied voice in the sand replied, de-cloaking. the Voice revealed itself soon after to belong to a masked and covered man in a skintight special ops suit - One of the terran Dominions ghost operatives.

"We believe a covert landing may have been made in your area. somewhere within a few kilometers of your location. We need you to survey the area - psychically and physically - and then report back. Copy?"
"Loud and clear." Agent X2IIJLN responded with a hidden smirk, keeping his cloak off to save power. He'd need to conserve his psionic energy, especially if the ghost operative found it necessary to use it to find his opponent or teek a bullet or two. He had a feeling this had to do with the invaders currently blasting the fleet into slag directly above him, and while his psionic scan found no other minds nearby, that gave no certainty when just about everything regarding these new invaders was shrouded in mystery.

Moving out on foot, Agent X2IIJLN was just about to give up on the entire chase before hearing the clank of metal on rock. "What the hell is that?" Agent X2IIJLN thought to himself, looking at the grey-armored soldiers that marched across the barren desert that encompassed most of the half-restored throneworld. The sound of booted feet crushing through the sand was audible, and X2IIJLN knew that no human could possibly weigh that much. Probing the area with his mind, a jarring void confirmed his suspicions that these were robotic in nature. While his larger-scale scan could be avoided by biologicals who knew how to mask their minds, finding nothing at all while knowing exactly where to look didn't happen unless there was simply nothing there in the first place.

As X2IIJLN went to trigger his headset, however, a snap-hiss from behind caused him to turn around. What he saw in front of him was a black-armored nightmare, an armored and devilish colossus of a man.

This close, and paying attention, X2IIJLN could finally feel the being in front of him despite his psychic masking, and what he felt was akin to a nuclear bomb of psionic force, hardly contained and seeming to almost suffocate him by proximity alone.

X2IIJLN brought his gun up, firing with a cry as he began to panic, only for the figure to simply walk forward, each bullet simply stopping a moment before it would have hit the figure in front of him.

What seemed eerily like a demonic version of a protoss psi blade cut through his gun's barrel as the figure simply appeared in front of him, closing the distance in only a short pair of seconds, before pointing to the ghost operative's throat.

focusing his mind, the ghost hoped to catch his opponent off-guard, releasing a burst of psychic energy meant to stun his opponent for a brief second.

The energy simply glanced off, however, splashing away from the figure like water striking stone.
"Pathetic. What little talent in the force you have is wasted on gimmicks. Your ilk are clearly of no concern." the figure said with a cutting, basal tone that seemed to command respect. X2IIJLN felt as though he were being appraised by a god - but a twisted, distorted one.

Appraised, and found wanting.

With a final, strangled cry, Agent X2IIJLN Threw a simple, focused punch, the muscle fibers intrinsic to his suit enhancing his strength to ten times that of a normal human.

The punch was never allowed to actually strike his opponent though, as X2IIJLN found himself carted into the air as though he were a child, choking as his opponent held him in place. The oxygen left his body as his throat cracked with a sickening pop, before his body was allowed to collapse to the sand below him.

Then, with another snap-hiss, the figure walked away, joining the Dark troopers that accompanied him as they walked towards the Augustgrad Palace.


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Well, I've kept you people waiting more than long enough, haven't I? Hopefully the length makes up for it just a little bit. Before I get into anything else, I apologize for the delay - I'm doing NaNoWriMo at the moment, as well, so writing this took second priority. Unfortunately, that does mean you shouldn't expect chapter 5 before November's over, but I will do my best to get a pair of december chapters done and uploaded!

Now that that's been established, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone currently reading this story. I started this intending it to mostly be a project just to improve my writing and get used to writing constantly and consistently, and it wasn't done with the intention or the expectation of becoming my most followed piece on . You've all been very supportive, and I hope this project just keeps getting better and better in everyone's opinion, as it continues on.

This was a fairly tough chapter for me to do, what with the constant musical chairs from viewpoint to viewpoint. I've attempted to try and keep respectful of both sides' intelligence in these chapters, and I hope it shows. The last thing I want to do is show blatant favoritism to one side or another(though my love for SC will probably leak through regardless). I also hope no one finds the constant jumping from perspective to perspective too jarring or difficult to follow - Once the Battle For Korhal section is over, I'll likely have more time to show a little less action and more characterization.

Now to the review responses:

-Feldoran

I was wary of this story at first, as far to often people make one side or the other ridiculously overpowered, but so far this has done well in terms of balance. I can honestly say I am excited to see where this will go even if I find the fact that your crossed off Luke distasteful.

Yeah, this is something I definitely felt a little off about doing. There are a couple reasons I wrote Luke off, but the main one is honestly just that keeping the rebel alliance, and Luke, intact, would have made the plot move far too smoothly - the Empire is already set up to fall by that point, so adding hostile aliens into that warring mix would not have made for that balanced of a plot, and would have had me regurgitating just a little too much of what episode 5 and 6 had already set up. I get it, though, and despite this I will say that even with Luke out of the picture, Han, Leia, Chewie, etc. should still be expected to feature here and do so heavily. I intend to keep viewpoints and the like balanced, and as a result I will make sure that the rebels, diminished or not, will still have a presence in this fic.

-Thejackinati275

Ah yes... There is nothing quite like the thrill of watching Imperial Star Destroyers with their Gigaton yield Turbo lasers blasting away at their opponents...

This has been a well balanced story so far and i hope to see more from you

Thanks, I hope you enjoy what you see from this chapter. Star destroyers are quite terrifying, aren't they?

Alright, I'll close off these notes here - There's not much else I can say that wouldn't be spoilers - But I'll say again that I'm thankful for every view, favorite, follow, and review you guys throw my way, and that you guys really do make my day :D. I'll see all of you in the next chapter of Star Wars: The Koprulu Wars