Ellie and Jim sat at the bar as Ellie downed a tenth shot. Jim watched her with concern. She hadn't stopped shaking since they had left the lab and she looked scared- no, terrified. As she poured another shot he grabbed her wrist and she looked over with wide eyes.
"Slow down. Last thing we need is you drinking yourself to death." He said.
He took the bottle from her and she placed her head on the counter gripping it.
"So what happened in there? What spooked you so bad?" Jim asked.
"I don't know what you felt from that… thing. But it wasn't like it was vision or whatever. I could feel it staring at me. Me. Not Zeratul. We could feel each other. And it was the same presence that was in the Xel Naga Temple on Xil. But it was crushing. Like Kerrigan but a million times worse. So pardon me if I'm a bit messed up." She growled.
Jim couldn't think of anything to say so he merely sat next to her until she stopped shaking. When she got up to leave he smiled as she made a small lightning storm in her palm. She left the ship and found the barracks were Gorgon Company had set up. She was lying in her bunk resting when Terra called out to her.
"Move in ten. We've got a lead on one of those artifacts." She said.
Ellie ran out with her gear just as the shuttle took off. She gripped the door handle as the shuttle left the atmosphere and headed towards the Hyperion.
"What's the rush? Zerg there or something?" Ellie asked.
"Apparently the Systems sun is about to go Supernova. And if that happens, we aren't getting paid for that artifact." Ty said.
"Oh. So what? Does that mean it's unguarded?"
"Strong Protoss force on the ground. They won't ever abandon these things. So we're going in for a smash and grab before that Star goes boom." David said.
"Great. So constant threat of a star burning us alive and Protoss ready to murder us six ways to Sunday. Sounds fun." Ellie said as she put on her helmet.
It was a short jump of an hour to the Typhon and when they arrived Ellie and the others rode down to the surface tailing a group of Banshees. When they arrived they could see a wall of fire slowly advancing on their position.
"Alright. The Artifact is a few hundred meters that way heavily guarded by a whole base of Protoss. Ellie you scout ahead and give us a better idea of what we're working with while I get our troops outfitted." Jim said over the radio.
"You've got it." Ellie said as she cloaked herself and took off at a run towards the Protoss base.
She found a small outpost along the way but didn't mess with them as she continued towards the vault. She found it heavily guarded by a number of Protoss and sitting in the rear of them all was an Archon. It was watching and waiting. Ellie snuck away from the base and called up Jim.
"We've got an Archon. Any chance we have one of those Micro Nukes available?" She asked.
"Not at the moment. But I have something else. It's on its way with Gorgon company." Jim said.
"Wh-" Ellie stopped as a Protoss Patrol walked by.
In the distance she saw explosions and smoke rising from the Protoss outpost. When the patrol had their backs turned she advanced on them and quickly dispatched them using her Psi Blade. With the Protoss gone she ran towards the outpost. When she arrived she found the structures in ruins as Gorgon Company blasted them apart. Behind them was a Thor. The massive machine was obliterating the structures with blasts from its cannons.
"Nice. Think it can handle an Archon?" Ellie asked.
"Oh it can Princess. This Puppies got heavy cannons on par with the Odin's. Just keep any of those Protoss Air vehicles away from it. I had to take off its anti air cannons to compensate." Swann said.
"Got it. Hey Jim? Got any Goliaths prepped?" Ellie asked.
"Three. Their on the way to you." Jim said.
Gorgon Company stood on standby as they waited for the walkers to arrive. When the Goliath's arrived they headed out escorting the Heavy Thor towards the Protoss Encampment. As they approached Ellie could see the defenses. A small army of Protoss stood between them and the Protoss Vault. Ellie was ready to fight when the Heavy Thor loosed a single shot. The Protoss Line was shattered. A third of the defending forces were gone as a crater became visible where they had been. Ellie grimaced as her ears ached. The sound from the shot had left her nearly deafened.
"Swann I found a problem with your masterpiece." Ellie said.
"What's that?" Swann asked.
"The cannons are deafening. I can hardly hear myself think." Ellie said.
"Well most people don't run around on a battlefield without a helmet." Swann said.
Ellie growled but faced the decimated Protoss. A few were charging at the Thor and she raced out to meet them. She caught one with a glancing blow to his face and as she passed him he exploded as Ty shot him with a grenade. She caught another Zealot and her blade landed in his neck. He fell to the ground as the other Protoss were dealt with by Gorgon Company. Jenny peppered one with bullets, Terra crushed one and Syra burned one alive. Scott kept one at bay as David lined up the Tank's sights. They advanced through the Protoss base and soon they could see the Archon guarding the vault. The Thor aimed its cannons. It blasted two shots at the Archon but they were stopped by its shields. The massive Protoss turned towards them and held out its hand. Lightning arced out from it. The energy sheared off one of the Thor's arms and it collapsed on its side.
Gorgon Company scrambled to get out of the way to avoid being crushed. The pilot tried to get the mech back on its feet but it was to unbalanced. Ellie could see the Archon making its way towards them and threw the broken arm at the Protoss. It caught the metal and tossed it aside. Ellie balled up Energy in her hand and threw it at the Archon. The Psionic blast caught it by surprise and blasted into its shoulder. It's arm hung unmoving, held in place by burned muscle. The Archon screamed in pain and blasted Ellie back. She held up her hand and redirected the blast. The energy bounced off her hand and into the wrecked Thor. The resulting blast sent Ellie flying backwards. She landed on the her butt and with a very painful crunch.
"Ow…" She groaned as she got to her feet.
The Archon was glaring at her as it approached. It held up its hand to attack her again when the side of its head exploded. Ellie looked over to see David's Tank with a smoking barrel. As the Archon collapsed its energy collapsed in on itself and vanished. Ellie and the others helped the Thor pilot out of his scrapped mech and made their way to the temple. Ellie used her Psionics to rip the door off and they carted the Artifact outside.
"Alright how are we getting out of here? That wall of Fire is getting pretty close." Ellie asked over her radio.
"Transport inbound. Any chance of salvaging that Thor?" Jim asked.
They all looked at the wreckage. It was a steaming pile of scrap with only a few functional pieces remaining.
"Nothing worth risking the artifact over." Ellie said.
"Gotcha. See ya up here." Jim said as a massive Transport ship landed next to them.
As they loaded the artifact a single wounded Protoss limped towards them. Ellie looked at him and she ignited her Psi Blade.
"Foolish Creature. The Tal'Darim will hunt you for this sacrilege. They wil-" He stopped as Ellie grabbed his arm.
She ripped his Psi Blade off and snapped his forearm. He remained silent but fell to his knees and cradled the broken limb.
"I don't care. Whoever you send I will survive and I will never lose." She said as she picked up his Psi Blade and strapped it to her left arm.
"Do not humiliate me, Monster. Kill me so that I may die with honor." He said.
Ellie leaned down to his eye level. Her eyes glowed green with power.
"No." She said as she walked away leaving the Protoss kneeling in the rubble.
The ship took off and they watched as fire covered the surface below. When they on board the Hyperion the Cruiser set a course for the Moebius Rendezvous point. Ellie helped escort the artifact down to the lab and once it was secure she went to the infirmary.
"Hey Ellie. You weren't injured, were you?" Alicia asked as she wheeled herself over.
"I heard something crack. Just wanna make sure." She said.
Alicia nodded and Ellie submitted herself to a few X-rays. Alicia came back a few minutes later and handed her one of the sheets. It showed Ellie's pelvis but she couldn't find anything wrong.
"What is it?" Ellie asked.
"You broke your tailbone. Nothing serious, but I don't recommend dropping onto your butt for a few weeks." Alicia said.
"No treatment or anything?" Ellie asked.
"None, unless you want surgery to replace a useless piece of your body." Alicia said.
"Nope. Thanks." Ellie said with a laugh.
They talked as the ship warped to the rendezvous point. When they arrived Ellie waved goodbye and headed to the bridge.
"No ones here sir. Did Tychus give us the wr- Multiple Warp signatures detected." Matt said as the star map started pinging.
Ellie looked out the Bridge window as the ships exited warp. Five Battlecruisers appeared and alarms sounded across the ship.
"Sir that's the Bucephalus! Mengsk's flagship!" Matt said as Jim cursed.
"Prep a boarding party! We can end this now!" Jim said as he left the bridge.
Ellie moved to follow him but Matt grabbed her arm.
"This isn't right. They aren't firing. Watch his back alright?" Matt asked.
"I always do." Ellie said as she took off after Jim.
She caught up to him in the Hangar where Tychus was waiting with a dropship.
"She coming to Jimmy?" Tychus asked.
"I am. I've got a few choice words for our great Emperor." Ellie said pulling on her helmet.
Tychus shrugged as the three of them boarded the drop ship along with a dozen marines. The Battlecruisers didn't fire a shot as they flew over. In the enemy hangar they dispatched the Dominion troops waiting for them. Jim, Ellie and Tychus pushed into the ship while the Marines held the hangar. Ellie cloaked herself and covered their rear. It was a surprisingly easy route to the Emperor's room. As the door opened the three of them charged in and were greeted by a lone man staring at the Hyperion. He turned to look at them and Ellie gave him a confused look. It was Prince Valerian. She wasn't the only one confused.
"Where the hell is Mengsk?!" Jim demanded.
"You won't find my father here. He knows nothing about this meeting. But it is a pleasure to meet you Commander. Crown Prince Valerian, Owner of the Moebius Foundation." Valerian said with a bow.
"Don't screw with me kid. What's your game?" Jim demanded grabbing Valerian's coat.
"Now Commander I come offering a proposal." Valerian said.
"And what could you have that I would want?" Jim asked.
"Simple, a chance to save Sarah Kerrigan."
There was a palpable silence as that sank in. Jim let go of Valerian and stared at him.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Jim asked.
"What I said. A chance to Save Sarah Kerrigan from what she's become. The Xel'Naga artifacts you have been gathering for me are theoretically capable of that." Valerian said.
"Theoretically?" Ellie asked as she decloaked.
Valerian was surprised to see her.
"I didn't know you had brought a Spectre along. I thought Gabriel Tosh would be here himself." Valerian said.
"If he was you'd be dead." She said.
"Though my agents had told me that a young woman with… peculiar features was aiding you. I assume this is her?" Valerian asked.
Ellie gave a low growl as she removed her helmet. Valerian took a step back at the sight of her Zerg features. Then he quickly regained his composure.
"Ah, yes my sources told me that you were… different." Valerian said trying to return his attention to Jim which made Ellie lose her cool.
She Psionically gripped Valerian and held him in the air.
"Can't stand to look at me? Because I'm infested? There's millions more like me. My friends, My family! I lost my home because your Father didn't protect them!" She said angrily.
"Ellie! Let him go! Save it for Arcturus. I want to hear what he has to say." Jim said.
Tychus and Ellie looked at him like he'd lost his mind.
"You lost it Jimmy? We could make a big haul if we keep him tied up."
"No! If he dies then Mengsk loses a fraction of what I did!" Ellie said caught somewhere between breaking down in tears and unbridled Rage as her memories of Meinhoff bubbled to the surface.
"I'm… not my… Father." Valerian said as he gasped for air.
"What?" Ellie growled.
"Let him talk." Jim said.
Ellie grudgingly let the Prince go and he fell to the ground coughing as he rose to his feet.
"I'm not my Father. I regret all those deaths on the Fringe worlds. I want to be better than that." Valerian said.
"Better? Better than the man who let Billions die to protect himself? Shouldn't be to hard." Ellie said.
"In your eyes yes. But in the eyes of Dominion Citizens? If I were to reform the greatest mass murderer in history and remove the threat of the Zerg swarm, that would be a good start." Valerian said.
They were silent for a moment before Jim spoke up.
"You really believe it can be done?" Jim asked.
"The information we've gathered supports the theory." Valerian said.
"This is just Political Bullshit Jimmy. Let the kid rip him a new one."
"If there's a chance to stop Kerrigan, Stop the Swarm, then it's worth working with him." Jim said.
"Yeah sure." Tychus said as he strolled out of the room.
"I'll contact you when we've located the final Artifact piece." Valerian said.
Jim started to leave and looked at Ellie.
"I'll catch up. I want a few words with the Prince." She said.
Jim gave her a hard look before nodding and walking out.
"I assume this is about my father abandoning the fringe worlds?" Valerian asked.
"Somewhat. I want to know what you really thought of your father's policy." Ellie said.
"We had more than enough ships in the fleet to cover the fringe worlds for evacuations. I questioned him myself when he gave the order." Valerian said staring out the window.
"Yeah. And do you want to know what happened because of that order?" Ellie asked.
"I've seen the footag-" Valerian stopped as Ellie put a finger to his temple and piled all of the memories of her time on Meinhoff into his mind.
Valerian fell to his knees. He looked over at her with fear and pity.
"I-I have nothing to say to that." He said.
"I thought so. And one last thing, If you tell your father about Haven, there is nothing in this world that will stop me from finding you. And when I find you you'll be in worse shape than that statue." Ellie said pointing to a statue of Mengsk.
She held out her hand and slowly clenched her fist. The statue imploded then the fragments fell to the ground.
"Understood?" She asked.
He nodded as he managed to stand up again.
"Good." She said as she left.
Whats this? Two chapters so quickly? Yeah I had this one 90% done when I posted the previous one. Anyway there will be 2-3 more chapters before Char. Then the interlude into Heart of the swarm begins. I am working on those chapters. No idea when they'll be done but I promise they will be done. And Yes I intentionally did not write the Memory Crystal missions in. They are exactly the same and if I had it would be a few months before I managed to get this chapter out. Until Next time.