Well, here is the newest instalment of Brood War! Hurray!
Thanks to my Beta Shockwave88 for his skills in turning my unrefined crap into something actually worth reading. I would also like to thank the reviews for their continued support, and I would like to take this time to inform them that finally I have a plot for this story.
The Brood War:
The Brood War:Chapter 10: The Patients
The DSS Dawn Ascension was not a modern vessel, at least, not modern by the usual standards of the United Earth Directorate. But, to the backwater colonial yokels that made up much of the Dominion (as well as its predecessor, the Confederacy,) the Dawn was at least forty years ahead of their current level of technology. Well, ten years ahead if you discounted the upgrades and the refitting the Dawn went through before it joined the UED expedition to the Koprulu Sector.
With the careful crafting and eventual mass production of the new state of the art 'Conqueror' class of battlecruisers such as the Aleksander, the UED now had close to several hundred battlecruisers rendered obsolete. Most, such as the 'Challenger' and 'Warrior' class of battlecruisers, were upgraded with new weaponry, engines and command and control systems. Even older battlecruisers such as the Dawn however, were scheduled for decommissioning and salvaging. Fortunately for her and her crew, the UED council decided now was the time for those in the Koprulu Sector to rejoin the UED, the new incarnation of the United Powers League. However, with most of the Conqueror class battlecruisers either still in production or incorporated into the Home Fleet, there were just not enough ships to attempt such a large expedition.
The UED council unanimously and immediately ordered that the older classes of battlecruisers, such as the Dawn, be immediately retrofitted with both newer engines and weaponry. It took seven weeks in dry dock and round the clock work to get the Dawn combat ready; her outdated, AD-17 laser batteries were replaced with newer, more powerful DT-9 guns. Her ancient Forgerson-F2400 warp engines were replaced with the newer Mars Foundation X2500 series and as the final coup de grâce, the Dawn was outfitted with the fearsome Yamato Cannon.
Now, here she was.
The Dawn was doing what she had been created to do: mercilessly obliterate enemies into sweet oblivion.
With every blast, her bridge lit up with harsh and fiery red light cast off from her massive guns. The ashen world below burned with every salvo, and as their foul bodies were consumed by the raging fire, their distorted flesh, bones and muscle were near instantly burned into to ash and then melted into glass by the holocaust of fire and flame.
What was once a horde of Infested were now unrecognisable lumps of ground, fragile crystal.
For the first time in her career, Captain Bonnie Rockwaller had seen first hand the destructive power of a UED battlecruiser.
If some one had told a younger Bonnie Rockwaller that by the age of twenty-seven, she would be an officer in the UED navy in charge of a battlecruiser and fighting in a war thousands of light-years from her home in Nova Middleton, she would have suggested in some very unsavoury terms that someone should get their head examined. The self proclaimed Queen B of Nova Middleton High, and cheer-squad captain, was destined for better things in life. Bonnie Rockwaller was going to be a ballerina.
Indeed, with fourteen solid and intense years of ballet practice behind her, how could she be anything else? Let Lonnie have her modelling career, or Connie with her law cases. Bonnie would show them, yes she would. Every time her bitch sisters opened a paper or turned on the news, it would be her face they saw in the entertainment sections. It would be her, Bonnie Rockwaller, who would become the talk of Nova Middleton.
At least, that was what she wanted before her father was killed.
Admiral Donald "Donnie" Rockwaller had loved his daughters, and had taken every opportunity to dote upon them. But, as his children had grown older, there was always an air of disappointment about him because none of them wanted to follow in his foot steps. Neither Connie, Lonnie nor Bonnie, for that matter, had any interest in joining the UED Naval Academy. But, that was before her father's transport had been destroyed by a separatist faction's bomb nine years ago. Bonnie Rockwaller had always been her daddy's little girl, and she had taken her father's death extremely hard. Three weeks after the funeral, she had dried her tears, given up on her dreams of becoming a ballerina star and had applied to the UED Naval Academy.
What had followed was four years of gruellingly intensive studying involving naval doctrine and theory, navigation, history and engineering. Everything that Bonnie had loved was put off to the side in favour of the school and her studies. Ballet, which had once taken up four to five hours a day just for practice, was now just a quick twenty or thirty minute session and that was only so Bonnie could stay in shape. She was determined that she would do her late father proud, and if that required her to sacrifice what she loved doing the most, then so be it.
Finally, her graduation day arrived. Dressed in a carefully pressed black uniform with her peak cap resting lightly on her straight, short brown hair, Bonnie had marched up to the intimidating podium and saluted the Admiral overseeing the ceremony. The Admiral proudly returned the salute before handing Bonnie her gold braided lieutenant-commander insignia: the reward for being amongst the top five of her class.
Bonnie's first post was aboard the DSS Harbinger, a medium weight gunship that was on patrol in the UED's Alpha Centauri System. There, Bonnie served with distinction and under the recommendation of the Harbinger's captain, was promoted to Commander just a scant year later. Bonnie was then put in charge of her own ship, the DSS Prosecutor. Her patrol was the lawless Tau Ceti System, where the UED's presence and control was not as substantial as the council would have liked.
Several times her ship had been attacked by pirates, and through those baptisms of fire Bonnie had proved herself to be a capable commander. Something that had not gone unnoticed by her superiors. For two years Bonnie, and the Prosecutor, had ruthlessly hunted the pirates and smugglers down when suddenly she was recalled back to Earth. She could hardly believe her ears when she was told that she was to be given a promotion...and a new command. Her new command was the newly outfitted battlecruiser, the DSS Dawn Ascension.
Now, here she was, standing on the bridge of the Ascension with her hands clasped tightly behind her back and with her silver captain's insignia reflecting the harsh light of the laser guns as she observed the bombardment. Behind her, her crew worked both furiously and methodically as they checked coolant rates, analysed data from the computers and constantly checked and rechecked the sensor output. Others manned the point defence guns and the long ranged sensors, determined not to have the Zerg sneak up on them.
"Tell me Johnston," Captain Rockwaller asked curiously as she turned to the Commander, "just what are the chances that there are any Zerg left alive down there?"
Commander Alex Johnston was an older man whose career had been spent on the Ascension, and although sometimes it disturbed him slightly that his superiors seemed to getting younger and younger, he had a good feeling about this captain. Sure, she was vicious, snarky, bossy, sarcastic, and just a little mean spirited, but she was determined. Determined to be both a good officer and a good captain and he respected that.
The Commander simply shrugged as he joined his captain at the view port. "Slim to none I would say, Captain. We've been giving them hell for a good twenty minutes now."
Bonnie nodded before turning to her XO, a grin spreading upon her lips. It was a sweet, innocent grin...a grin that had became famous in Nova Middleton High because it had foretold the social down fall of dozens of students and social equals. It was the grin of Nova Middleton High's Queen B.
"Forward batteries cease fire. Charge the Yamato Cannon and lock targeting coordinates on ground zero. I want to see what this baby can do."
The Gunnery Lieutenant nodded as he glanced up from his control panel. "Aye, aye Captain. Batteries are ceasing fire, diverting power to the Yamato Cannon. Charging… now!"
The bridge was filled with an eerily faint, blood red glow as the massive Yamato Cannon slowly built up the energy it required from the ships reactor. Behind Bonnie, technical experts checked the coolant temperatures and monitored them carefully.
"Don't you think that's overkill, Captain?"
Bonnie's teal green eyes, for just a split second, darted to her XO as he both asked her the question as he leaned over peer out of the view port.
Bonnie's grin never faded as she answered him. "There is no such thing as overkill Commander. There is...just being cautious."
"Captain! The Yamato Cannon is charged, and ready."
Bonnie's smile finally vanished as she turned to the young Lieutenant. "Thank you Guns," she answered simply, "you are clear to fire."
"Yes, ma'am. Yamato Cannon, firing in three…two…one…warhead away!"
The whole bridge was suddenly illuminated to a peak with harsh blood red light as the massive ball of planet searing energy was launched. As it travelled further away, the glow on the bridge receded until things were back to normal lighting. The powerful blast slammed into the ground with a tremendous boom and broken pieces of melted glass filled the air, reflecting what little light Char offered off of the shards, before falling to the ground in a shower of sparkling rain.
Bonnie again turned to her XO, her lips already pulled back up into a smile. A smile, the Commander believed, that would have not of looked misplaced upon a great white shark. "Well, Commander?" Bonnie asked sweetly, "What do you think the odds are now that any Infested mother fucker could have survived that?"
The XO stroked his rust coloured beard as his mind quickly analysed the data. "I would say Captain, that there is simply nothing in this galaxy that could have survived down there. They're dead, plain and simple."
Bonnie nodded at the older man. "Then our work here is done. Helms! Take us back into orbit; preferably before the Zerg decide to send some of those fucking Scourges after us. I'd rather not be blown to bits with my ship just right now."
"Aye, aye Captain! Taking us back into orbit now," her helmsman acknowledged.
The crew felt the deck move slightly beneath them as the Ascension's engines ignited into full burn and slowly pushed the gigantic ship back through the thin atmosphere into space. The ash, debris and dust that had filled both sky and the view port was slowly replaced with the black, near emptiness of the star sprayed void.
"We have reached orbit, ma'am."
Bonnie nodded at the helmsman. "Excellent, hold this position until we're ordered to be rejoined with the fleet. Commander Johnston, you have the bridge. I'm retiring to my cabin, and tell the chief medical officer I want to see her immediately."
With that, Bonnie turned on her heel, and quickly marched off of the bridge. Long gray halls and multiple corridors passed her by as her boots made a rhythmic thump on the cold steel deck plating. Bonnie occasionally encountered crew members and armed marines on her short journey, and she almost lazily returned their salutes when she passed them or when they passed her.
Finally, she reached her destination. Punching in her security code, the metal door slid open to reveal a spacious and well furnished cabin.
Sighing tiredly to herself, Bonnie immediately walked over to her coffee maker. The near antique machine was an old friend of hers; many sleepless nights of studying had been accomplished thanks to the warm, black ambrosia that was dispensed at the push of a button. Pouring herself a cup, Bonnie sat at her desk and began the paperwork that smothered the surface. Oh, how she detested this part! Bonnie had enough homework during high school, and when she was at the Academy she had enough to last her a life time. But now, now the paper work never seemed to end!
A knock on the door, however, gave a grateful Bonnie the excuse she'd needed to escape the paper work horrors of the UED.
"Come in," Bonnie ordered, breathing a sigh of relief that the dreaded paper work could be held off for another hour or two. The door slid open, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Zita Flores quickly walked in. Her white doctors coat hung openly off of her shoulders, revealing the black pressed uniform that she was wearing beneath.
"You wanted to see me Capitan?" Zita asked as she stopped in front of the desk.
Bonnie gestured for the doctor to take a seat. "Yes, I did. Coffee?"
Bonnie reached back and poured another steaming cup. She handed it to Zita, who took it with a nod of thanks.
"Tell me Dr. Flores, how's the patient doing?"
Zita was not surprised; the 'patient' was all the crew seemed to want to talk about. And it was with good reason; it was not everyday that a crew member went insane and attempted to kill two to three dozen people by causing a breach in the hull.
"She seems to be doing much better, Capitan. She recognized me today, and even complimented me on my hair."
The doctor then sighed and looked into the cup thoughtfully for a few moments, "But, then she voiced a desire to…cut it off, and then strangle me with it."
Bonnie nodded as she sat back in her chair. It was strange. Very strange. She had of course read the patient's file; nothing in it had suggested that she was capable of this level of what was essentially senseless violence.
"I see…" Bonnie replied thoughtfully. "Well doc', what the diagnosis then?"
Zita sighed as she leaned back in her seat. She took a sip of coffee before setting the cup back down. "Well…I would say that she's suffering from paranoid schizophrenia…but, it…it's not what she's suffering from. The patient has dissociative identity disorder. It's the only explanation that I can think of."
"Doctor," Bonnie replied flatly, "I'm not a med-student. What the hell is a desictive identity disorder?"
Zita shook her head. "Dis-soc-iat-ive identity disorder Capitan. It means that she displays multiple identities or personalities...alter egos if you will, that have their own way of perceiving and identifying reality."
Bonnie sighed; the medical terms were giving her a headache. "In English, if you please doctor."
"The patient is suffering from a multiple personality disorder."
Bonnie shook her head. "Now why couldn't you have just said that?"
Zita shrugged. "What has me stumped Capitan, is that there is no concrete evidence of anyone developing MPD naturally. In reality, MPD is just holo-vid drama..."
Zita trailed off as she went into deep thought. "Well, there have been cases where a patient that's undergone a neural procedure…"
Upon seeing, and hearing the angry glare and growl of the captain, Zita quickly rephrased herself. "Uh…cases where a patient's undergone what the local residents here call a 'brain panning'...and it backfired, essentially creating dual personalities inside a persons mind."
Bonnie nodded: now she understood where Zita was coming from. "Brain Panning", as it was called by the Koprulu Sector residents, was the process of suppressing a person's real personality, and then reshaping it by layering new and artificial 'memories' over the old ones. Thus, this process could be used to either create a whole new person or just add in or alter a few select memories.
"The only problem, Capitan," Zita continued, "is that I cannot find any evidence in the patient's file of this 'brain panning' or any other neural procedure."
"So…what do you think caused her to become like this?" Bonnie asked, after taking a large swig of her now cool coffee.
Zita sighed in frustration. "Normally Capitan, I would say that something happened during cryosleep, that it didn't put her mind fully asleep when the fleet entered Warp travel, which would cause a tremendous amount of stress to her mind…the problem is that, I've never heard of Warp stress causing multiple personality disorders before."
"So doc, what do you think should be done?"
Zita pinched the bridge of her nose as she let out a frustrated sigh. "I don't know Capitan. Normally, I would suggest euthanasiation. It's fairly obvious that Tiamat, as she's taken to call herself, is a psychopath, and would have no regrets or moral qualms on killing anybody who gets in her way, or just happens to be around. The trouble is, is that I don't want to do that just yet. Por favor Capitan justgive me a few more days to observe her."
Zita looked Bonnie in the eyes. "Capitan, I need to figure out what happened, so I can keep this from happening again."
Bonnie was silent for a while as she weighed the options in her mind. Several seconds ticked by slowly before she nodded. "Okay doc, you've got three days. If you can't figure out what the hell is going on then, we'll just have to settle with putting her down."
With that, Zita quickly downed what was left in her cup, stood up, saluted and then quickly walked out of Bonnie's cabin.
Sighing dejectedly, Bonnie picked up her pen and then began to read through the many forms that lay piled on her desk.
'Do to the insufficient amount currently available, engineering is requesting more Requisition Forms…'
Bonnie groaned. It was going to be a very long night.
Sealed off from the rest of the infirmary was the psyche ward. Every ship had them, and the Dawn was no exception. Battle stress and fatigue understandably had a habit of ruining both a soldier's sanity and mental health. Currently, only one of the rooms was occupied…a figure huddled in the corner, wrapped in a neopolymer straight jacket and talking to herself as she rocked back and forth on her heels.
"You know they have absolutely no right to do this to us! After everything we did for them! You'd think they'd be a little more appreciative! It's not easy doing what we do. Nope not easy at all!"
Quickly, her voiced changed. It was no longer harsh, hissing and unforgiving. It was now light, happy and innocent as the other side took control. "They're only doing this because they're worried. Not just about us, but about themselves. They're worried that we might do something to hurt them."
The harsh tone came back. "Oh I'll do something to hurt them. I'll tear their guts out with a rusty carving knife; I'll shove 'em out an airlock; I'll carve out their hearts with spoon and then feed it to them!"
The happy tone took over. "But why a spoon?"
"Because it'll hurt more! Why do I have to live with such a simpleton?! You would think that my other half would understand the concept of torture, but nooooooo!"
"But why do we have to hurt them? They've done nothing wrong!"
"Because they locked us in here, you stupid idiot!" The harsh tone snapped back.
"Well…why don't we just tell the Admiral then? The Admiral will intervene on our behalf. Especially after all the things you told me that you've done for them?"
"Naïve little idiot. Why don't we go tell on them, for being mean and locking us away in the psyche ward?" The harsh tone mocked its better half. "No, don't you understand? What they've done to us must be paid back in blood. Every living thing on this fuckin' ship has to die! And I tell ya, the bloodier our vengeance is, the sweeter it will be!"
"But…but..." The nice one stuttered.
"Spit it out you little shit!"
"I don't want to hurt anyone!"
For some reason, the harsh one found this hilarious. "But I don't wanna hurt anyone!" The harsh tone mocked. "You stupid little fuck! That's why I'm strong! That's why I'm in charge. Because I don't give a shit about who I kill…That's why I was chosen…and you better get used to it, understand?"
"Yes…" the nice side sobbed, before bursting into tears. She continued sobbing for several minutes, as the dark presence in her mind gloried in her misery.
Finally the harsh tone came back, laughing hysterically as she both plotted and schemed. "Soon these mother fuckers will know why I'm called Tiamat…first it will be that dumb spick and then the little bitch whose flying this tub…after that…who knows? I guess I'll just have to enjoy myself!"
The medical transport bumped and shook as Char's unpredictable, thermal induced winds buffered it from side to side. Inside, the wounded men who were conscious groaned in pain and agony, each envying those who were unconscious. Medics hurriedly rushed back and forth, patching up wounds via attenuated lasers, changing IV cartridges and administered various drug cocktails to the injured.
The realm of the unconscious is often black. Black as pitch in the dark of night. Nothing is seen, nor felt, nor even dreamed. But in the mind of one marine, he did dream...and he shuddered at what he saw.
Two figures, their faces silhouetted in the flames of a burning building laughed uproariously as their automatic weapons cut down those who tried to escape the fires. Men, women, children…it didn't matter to these monsters. Monsters void of all pity, all mercy, all humanity.
The unconscious marine cringed as a young woman carrying a baby was cut down by a merciless hail of bullets. The baby's cries of terror were cut short by another burst of automatic fire.
"No witnesses, no survivors, Fenris. Or don't you remember our orders?" A dark and mysterious feminine voice informed her companion.
"Of course Tiamat, I was just saving that one for you. You are behind in the kill count; I thought I would let you catch up," the one called Fenris answered his companion.
For several minutes the two monsters watched the building burn. No more people came running out to try and escape the blaze.
"Well…our job's done. Call the Admiral."
The one called Tiamat smiled as she reached a hand over to stroke Fenris' face. "But my dear, that fire got me all hot and bothered now…how about you help me with that?"
Smiling seductively, Tiamat reached her hand down. "Oh my, Fenris! It seems to have gotten you too!"
Her face kept her smile as she slowly lowered herself to her knees, playing with the lower areas of Fenris' polymer stealth suit. "Let me see if I can help you with that!"
Slowly, the dream shifted and changed. A room full of sleeping figures...young figures. Children.
'What now!?' The marine thought in horror.
His answer soon came, as the door to the dormitory slowly opened. A young boy, no more then ten, slowly crept into the room with a piece of barbed wire was wrapped around his hand. Slowly, the young boy crept towards a young girl who clutched her pillow as if it were a shield between her and the horrors that haunted her dreams.
As he crept, the boy slowly unwrapped the barbed wire. He stretched it tight between his fists. Then with a swift, deft movement, the boy wrapped the wire around the girl's throat and pulled it tight. The girl awoke, silently gasping for breath as she struggled and clawed at the wire. Quickly getting desperate and urgently needing to draw in a life saving breath, she tried to focus her mind to kill her soon to be murderer. The boy however, would not be denied. To her shock, the girl quickly discovered that her adversary was dampening her psionic training with his own mind!
Slowly, slowly the girl's gasps for breath became weaker and weaker. Her flailing and clawing slowed, and then stopped altogether as she collapsed, hanging limply in the boy's grasp. The boy kept the wire taunt for a few minutes longer, and then dropped the dead girl back onto her bed. To make absolutely sure that his target was eliminated, he reached over, tenderly cupped the side of her now limp head and jaw, and then twisted hard. Satisfied, he slowly crept out. The only evidence he left behind was the dead girl, and the piece of wire wrapped around her throat.
The craft bounced and shook as the marine screamed in his dreams, trying to claw his way out of the murder and horror. He was unaware that outside of his troubled mind, his body slept peacefully with his wounds being attended to and his IV cartridge being frequently changed.
Glass crunched beneath Kim's boot, as she surveyed the area. Green eyes scanned the desolate battlefield, as drop ships reinforced the battered remains of Delta Company. Men pooled mag's as Goliath pilots went over last minute diagnostics to make sure that their machines, their 'babies' were combat ready.
Kim knew a hard fight lay ahead of them, but the men of Task Force Golf Juliette had proven themselves time after time again. She knew that they would put an end to the threat presented by the Infested. She knew it would be because of them, that the UED would carry the day and put an end to the Zerg once and for all.
Glass crunching beneath armoured feet quickly caught her attention. Spinning around, with her rifle lowered, Kim was ready to put a hole through anything that tried to sneak up on her or her men.
However, a shout of "Tree!" stopped Kim in her tracks. Smiling in relief, Kim quickly shouted back the response.
Ghost Lieutenant Mankey and his patrol stepped out from behind the boulders they had used for cover. Kim waved at them before they hurried across the plain of glass to meet up with her.
"Damn it Josh, you almost got yourself shot. What the hell were you thinking?!"
Josh smiled as he shrugged. "Sorry Kim, I didn't know what to expect when we got back here, so I decided to remain cautious. Isn't that what I'm always telling you? You got to always prepare for the worst, even when you expect the best?"
Kim had no answer for that. What Josh said had made sense, as it usually did. In the many years she had known him, he had never once taken an unnecessary risk.
"Risks get peopled killed," Josh often said. "It's far better to have a plan, then a back up plan, then an emergency plan, then a 'oh shit, were fucked!' plan, than to just say 'well here we go' and hope for the best."
Josh smiled at Kim as he took in the sight of the now silent battlefield around him. "Besides, I should be the one complaining here Kim. What the hell happened here?"
"C'mon Josh, get your men up that ridge: we're about to make our final push. So grab some ammo and a bite to eat. We're moving out in twenty. Got it?"
The shout from both he and the marines was unanimous as they quickly scaled the ridge of cracked glass to follow her orders. As Josh glanced down at the Captain whom was moving over to talk with a lingering Medic, he couldn't get his mind off how beautiful and sexy she was when she got like this as he climbed.
Though he never regretted breaking up with her, he still could not help but remember the fun times that they had together. The times when they were locked in each others passionate embrace, his hands caressing her bare flesh, while his mouth kissed her neck, sending tingles of pleasure down her spine, or how she would slowly grind her pelvis against his, making Josh wanting to scream out in pleasure and joy...
"Alright people, listen up!"
The captain's voice snapped Josh out of his pleasant dreams and memories and back into the reality that was this war. Josh blinked and looked down at her from one of the ridge outcroppings.
"Two klicks away, the Zerg have a base. Recon' has shown us that the Zerg have built a Hive Cluster around an old Confederate mining base. That base is the one that has been pumping out the Infested mother fuckers that have been attacking us! Those Infested that have killed our friends, our brothers and our comrades. We will carve our way through them, and we will show them no mercy as we cut out their beating hearts and show those pieces of shit what war really is! Do you hear me!?"
"I SAID, DID YOU HEAR ME!?"
Kim smiled, as every man and woman down there answered her with a rousing cheer.
She then quickly scaled the ridge so that she was once again amongst her men.
"Good! Then let's get going!"