Ellie was in full blown panic mode. She had just woken up in some kind of fleshy sack. It was warm and made her feel sleepy but she was to busy freaking out to want to nap. She quickly went over what she knew.
She had been right outside her home when something had hit her head and she had blacked out.
Wherever she was it was not safe.
Something was reaching into the sack with nearly half a dozen spindly arms.
She grabbed the arms and pushed them back. Then she saw her arms. They were covered in a brown scale like chitin that was fashioned into her skin like armor. Looking down her body was covered in the material and she was sure her head was as well. She gripped her head and screamed for help as something smashed into the side of her head.
Jim was staring down at the Hyperions star map when a scream ripped through his mind. He had a brief flash of a young girl trapped then his vision went black.
When he woke up Matt Horner was standing over him with a concerned look.
"Are you alright commander?" He asked.
"No. Something just hit me like a ton of bricks. I got a Psionic message from someone on that planet." Jim said getting to his feet.
"From a Zerg?" Matt asked skeptically.
"No more like a half baked infested. She was just a kid. But she still had her humanity from what I felt." Jim said.
"Sir, maybe you should go see Stetman." Matt said worried.
"No. Matt I know what I felt. Zeratul and Tassadar taught me how to protect myself from and to understand Psionic pulses. She's still Human where it counts." Jim said tapping his head.
"The men won't want to go on such a vague mission. Especially to rescue an infested." Matt told him.
"Then they don't have to. I'll take Tychus. If I'm not back in a day then assume I'm dead and glass the Zerg." Jim said heading to the hangar.
When they arrived in the hangar suited up Swan had gear ready for the duo.
"Alright Cowboy. Here we have a .50 cal chain gun for Tychus. Plus plenty of grenades." Swan said giving Tychus a massive gun and a metal pack.
"And for you, a modified Ghost Rifle. Penetrator Rounds, self reloading clip system, hell I even installed a grenade launcher on this thing. Just make sure you come back alive." Swan said.
"Will do Swan. See ya in the cantina after all this is over." Jim said with a grin.
Jim and Tychus found the Hive Cluster easily. The world they were on had thick forests which made finding the Zerg simple. It was a surprisingly small but heavily fortified Cluster. An ultralisk patrolled around the chrysalis while a wall of Zerglings and Hydralisks stood at the edge of the cluster.
"Well Jimmy, that looks like a lot of damn Zerg. Though with this baby the only thing we have to worry about is that Big Ass Ultralisk. You think that Rifle of yours can even scratch that Monster?" Tychus asked.
"Hell yes. These Penetrator rounds are designed to go through anything. If you can keep the smaller Zerg off me then I'll bring it down." Jim said unfolding the modified rifle.
"Then let's get to it. You watch my back when you finish that monster." Tychus said stepping into view of the Zerg.
The heavily built Marine unloaded on the Zerg while Jim lined up his shot. When the sights were lined up on the Ultralisk's head he pulled the Trigger repeatedly. Massive holes appeared in the Massive Zerg's head and it attempted to charge towards its attacker but stumbled and collapsed dead. Then Jim began firing into the Zerg Ranks until the horde was a mass of twitching corpses.
They walked up to the Chrysalis and Jim took out a Machete. He sliced the thick shell open and a young girl tumbled out gasping and vomiting alternately. Her eyes were cloudy and covered by a thick gel. Jim knelt down and scooped her up and she stared up at him as they ran back to their shuttle before the Hive Cluster could produce more troops.
"Who are you?" The girl asked weakly.
"Jim Raynor. Don't worry your safe now." He said even though he knew it wasn't quite true.
"Raynor?!" She was suddenly very active as she slipped out of his arms and tried to escape the ship.
"What's wrong?" He asked worried.
"Your a terrorist! The Emperor says that you kill loyal citizens! Please don't hurt me!" She said cowering.
Jim and Tychus stood in silent shock then Jim made Tychus man the Cockpit.
"Girl, just so you know. Me and my boys, do not harm civilians. Also you might want to look yourself over." He said brushing the gel from her eyes.
She stared down at her body which had Zerg plating over most of her arms and legs. Her hair was made of the same segmented dreadlocks that Kerrigan had, except that hers were black rather than brown. Her chest had resisted infestation more and she still had her skin rather than Zerg chitin. Her T-shirt was still covering her upper chest though the sleeves were ruined and the Zerg gel she had been submerged in had eaten holes through it in places. Likewise her jeans were still mostly intact except for the bottoms which looked like they had been through a shredder.
"Wha…? How…?" She asked in a state of shock.
Kill them… a voice whispered in her mind.
For a second she almost obeyed then she stopped and forced the voice from her mind. Jim was still kneeling over her shaking her shoulder when she looked over at him.
"Are you okay?" He asked staring her in the eye.
"Of course I'm not! I've got Zerg running through my system! I'm a monster." She said quietly eyeing Jim's pistol.
He grabbed her shoulders and looked her in the eye.
"You are not a monster. If you let the Zerg control you then you would be a monster. Your still you, right?" He asked.
"Then your not one of them." He said.
She just stared for a few minutes then tears started rolling down her cheeks and she curled up against the wall. Jim sat next to her until they arrived in the Hyperion. When they arrived many of the Raiders were waiting in the Hangar. Jim and Tychus escorted the girl through the hangar as the crowd watched in near silence. Finally someone spoke up.
"Hey girl! You okay?" A marine asked as she walked by.
She shook her head and stared at the floor as she continued walking next to Jim.
"Alright all of you! Back to Work! We have a job on Monlyth." Jim yelled at the Raiders as they exited the hangar.
Jim brought the girl to the Bridge while Tychus headed for the Cantina. When they arrived Matt Horner stood at attention and watched her with a scrutinizing eye. What he saw was a terrified girl who was confused and on edge.
"She shouldn't be here. She needs to calm down or do something to take her mind of what's going on." Matt whispered to Jim.
"Like what? How do you propose I make her forget that she was just infested?" Jim hissed back.
Matt walked over and kneeled down next to the girl.
"Hi I'm Matt Horner. What's your name?" Matt asked kindly.
"Ellie. Ellie Sindar." She said.
"Alright Ellie, where are you from?" He asked.
"Meinhoff. I was going home from school when something hit me. Then I woke up down there." Ellie said pointing at the planet below them.
"Well I am very sorry for what happened to you. If you want we could take you home…" Matt said realizing as he said it that he had made an error.
Ellie laughed and she was genuinely amused. She gripped her sides and quieted down.
"I can't go home. Not like… this." She said holding up one of her clawed hands.
"Well maybe we can send your family a message. So they at least know that you are alive." He said.
She perked up at that and immediately thought about it. She moved her hands up and down as she weighed the pros and cons.
On the plus side, her family would know that she was alive and relatively safe. On the other hand they would probably freak out that she was infested and in the presence of the most wanted man in the Dominion.
"Can we do that?" She asked.
Matt nodded and asked her for her families information as he punched it into the ships computer. Less than half an hour later Jim and Matt were facing the screen with her parents on it.
"Your Jim Raynor!" Her father yelled in shock.
"Yeah I am. Listen closely Mr. and Mrs. Sindar. We found your daughter earlier today. She would like to speak with you." Jim said as he stepped aside so Ellie could speak.
She faced the screen and her parents gasped as they saw her hair and arms.
"Ellie what happened? Are you safe? Are they holding you hostage?!" Her mother shrieked.
"No mom! Calm down, okay? They rescued me. Apparently I sent out a Psionic cry for help and Jim came to save me. I was being infested by the Zerg." She explained and she noticed that her teeth were pointed now, it felt strange now that she was talking.
"The Zerg?! But there are no Zerg on Meinhoff! And why would the want you?!" Her father demanded.
"I think I know why. Go into my room and lift up my Mattress." She said.
Her father disappeared and she reassured her mother that she was fine. A minute later he returned holding a stack of papers.
"What are those dear?" Her mother asked.
"A very inappropriate magazine." He said and Ellie shrugged." And… and Ghost Academy Acceptance letters. Your Psionic abilities were extremely high." Her father said reading her scores.
"They needed someone like me. They were going to try to make me like the Queen of Blades." She said realizing this herself.
"Is Raynor still there?" Her father asked.
Jim stepped back into view.
"Call me Jim." Jim said.
"Very well. Jim, I thank you for rescuing our Daughter. As much as I wish she could, I know she cannot return to us, at least for now. Even if we do not object to her… changes, the dominion would drag her off for study or worse. Please keep her with you at least until we can be with her again." He said.
Jim nodded and Ellie said goodbye to her parents. When the message ended Jim looked down at her.
"Ghost… huh? So what were your Psionic levels?" He asked.
"When they had me release it… it was a class Ten…" She said squirming slightly.
"But?" Jim asked sensing the hesitation.
"But I was holding it back. I lost control once and blew up a big area. No one was around then but I didn't want to hurt anyone when I was being tested." She said quickly.
"Okay then. We have a device down in the lab that can measure your level without a demonstration. Stetman! Get the Psi analyzer ready!" Jim ordered a very skinny man with thick glasses and a lab coat.
"Yes sir! Right away!" The nerdy man said quickly.
"Psi Analyzer?" She asked.
"Something the Protoss left me when we destroyed the Overmind." Jim said.
"Sir, brace for warp." Matt said.
Jim gripped the rail and Ellie followed suit. Less than a minute later they were flying through warp space. Ellie watched the light and planets going by through the window. Jim and Matt smiled at her excitement. Then Stetman called up from the lab and Jim took her below decks.
"So what's this analyzer like?" She asked much more open now that she knew she was going to be staying here for a while.
"It's just a headset. I've used it myself. I scored at a Class 3. No special abilities but I can sort of sense powerful Psionic creatures. Zeratul hated that." Jim said with a laugh.
"Zeratul?" Ellie asked confused.
"He's an old friend. A Protoss Dark Templar. Though I haven't heard from him since the end of the Brood War. Hope he's okay." Jim said as they entered the lab.
"Ah sir. While I was powering up the Psi Analyzer I though we could run a few tests to determine what Zerg genes are in her. It might give us a few clues about what she can do." Stetman said tripping over a loose can.
"Well ask her yourself." Jim said.
Stetman looked at Ellie eagerly. She shrugged.
"But Jim does the needles. No offense but you seem like a bit of a Klutz." She said.
"Good call." Jim whispered.
Stetman smiled then gestured to a chair like you would see at a dentist. Ellie sat down and Stetman placed a strange gold and crystal headset on her head. Then he walked over to the computer and punched in a code. She felt a slight spark then the machine hummed and glowed. A few seconds later the humming stopped and Stetman stared at the screen mouth open.
"What?" Ellie asked.
"Uh Commander? We upped the scale to fifteen when Kerrigan was infested and she is currently a class 12. This…" Stetman just stared at the screen.
Jim walked over and whistled. He turned the screen so Ellie could see. A large fourteen blinked on the screen.
"So what I'm stronger than the Queen of Blades?" Ellie asked.
"Yeah. That may be why you can resist the hive's control. Though you can't control that energy so don't think you could take her in a fight. She had years of Ghost Training and she's had a few years to learn to control her new powers. Now let's get your medical tests done and go get you some food. I'm sure your probably hungry." Jim said.
Ellie realized she was hungry she just hadn't noticed because of everything that was going on. Jim and Stetman took a few blood samples, X-Rays and DNA samples then she and Raynor headed to the Cantina.
They found Tychus in a bar fight with some guy over a spilled drink and Jim stepped in.
"Alright you two what's going on?" He asked.
"Well Tychus says I have to pay because his drink spilled."
"Well did you spill it?" Jim asked.
"Tychus quit trying to get free drinks." Jim said pushing Tychus.
Unfortunately Tychus was drunk so he fell over and got back up pissed.
"That little runt owes me a drink and he knows it. Outta the way Jimmy." Tychus growled.
"Now Tychus-" Jim was cut off as Tychus charged.
Ellie reacted from years of standing up to bullies for her friends. She stepped in front of Tychus and leaned her shoulder into the Marines chest plate. He stopped instantly and bounced off her. The cantina guys stared at her with awe. She shrugged as she walked over and looked down at Tychus.
"Wanna try that again?" She asked.
"You are one dangerous kid. Glad your on our side." Tychus said.
After that Ellie ate three meals and listened to Tychus and Jim going over battle plans for 'collecting' the Protoss Artifact from Monlyth as they analyzed a map on a hologram projector.
"Why can't you just ask them for it? I mean you said you were friends with the Protoss." Ellie suggested.
"Not these guys. They're religious fanatics and even if they weren't this is some Xel'Naga stuff. No Protoss would just give this up." Jim said.
"Well then, it looks like there is a Zerg hive here. So they will most likely attack the Protoss, right? If you set up a base here then you could push through and push your way through to the Artifact while the Zerg and Protoss fight each other." She suggested.
Jim thought about her strategy and agreed.
"Okay that works but how did you learn to plan a battle? What are you like fifteen?" He asked.
"I'm seventeen actually. And I wanted to join the Ghost Program since I was a kid. So I studied up on battle plans and strategy while my friends went shopping and went on dates. I guess that life is out for me now." She said glumly.
"Hey now, you can still be a hero. Matt has some ideas on how to expose Mengsks true colors. You can help if you want." Jim said.
"Really?" She said excitedly.
"Yeah. We can train you in the physical, weapons, hand to hand area. But we need someone who can teach you how to use your Psionic powers. And we need Stetmans data to figure out what you can do. For now you can help coordinate our assault with me on the bridge." He said getting up.
"What about me old buddy?" Tychus asked.
"You stay here. Just don't cause any more trouble." Jim said.