Creeping Me Out
"Hey ma'am, aren't you hot?"
Turning around to face Lieutenant Ellison, Ghost Agent 12-862, Codename "Nova," knew that it was lucky for the marine's sake that his question was purely directed towards temperature rather than a more…aesthetic state of physical being. Not that the latter line of thought would have bothered her overmuch, but it certainly wouldn't aid what limited interaction she and the CO had.
"No, I'm not," murmured the Ghost, as if to demonstrate that point. "There's no need to worry."
"Good, well in that case…"
Ah. That was it, wasn't it? Start friendly, raise a random point or question and then get straight into the issue at hand. Why not simply approach, let an assassin read your mind and then let said assassin get to it?
Staring out from the southern plateau of the Desert Oasis, as inappropriately named in the last part as it was for a landform to be, Nova reflected that she knew the answer. Formalities, state secrets, the general fear and distrust to teeps, let alone teeks…Not that Ellison probably knew too much, given his stationing on the wasteland of a world that was Xil, but still, Nova knew that such assumptions could be deceiving. Hauler, Project Shadow Blade…only recently she'd seen how far human secrets could drag those who kept them. So while most of the lieutenant's platoon was sick and tired of babysitting scientists studying a trio of alien towers in the centre of the former oasis, Nova welcomed it. Xil was barren, practically lifeless and essentially deserted. And with her hostile environment suit keeping her cool, it was the perfect place to take a breath and banish the spectre of…well, Spectres from her mind.
Or at least it would have been if not for a certain CO…
"Ma'am, are you listening to me?"
Nova blinked, drawn back to the here and now. And with the here being in the company of Ellison and the now being a period in time where most of the Dominion Armed Forces were dealing with zerg from without and rebels and terrorists from within, she decided to give him the time of day in a figurative sense.
"Yes, I'm listening," Nova murmured, not even bothering to read the lieutenant's mind as to whether he believed her or not. "What do you need me for?"
Ellison's face revealed that he didn't believe her and if anything, his evident re-iteration of the subject in question added weight to that. Still, Agent 12-862 didn't care. Ellison wasn't the first marine she'd encountered who was biased against psychic commandos and he wouldn't be the last either.
"Need you to head to Site Two, the central alien tower," said the marine, gesturing towards the strange observation device in the centre of the oasis. "Eggheads down there need you for something. Animal problem or whatnot."
"Doubt it. If they were, they'd ask for real men to do the job."
Nodding as she brushed aside from dust-filled hair with one hand and handed Ellison her C-10 with the other, Nova headed down to the path that led off the plateau, the one that would in time lead her to the centre of the oasis. It was a bit of a surprise, to learn that there was indeed life worthy of scientific attention on this barren world, but not all surprises were unpleasant and there was therefore no need to carry a heavy rifle with her all the way to the site. Not that this stopped some jarheads commenting on how female Ghosts had nicer equipment than their male counterparts, but Nova ignored them. Her eyes and nose were burning rather than her ears and strapping some goggles and a face scarf on barely rectified this. It was as if Xil was pissed off that she was immune to its heat and wanted to torment her another way.
Well, if that's the case, it'll have to do better…
Shaking her head, Nova broke into a brisk jog. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, everything from Hauler to Tosh came back to her, even more so than on the plateau. So as unappealing as helping scientists with an "animal problem" was, she still wanted to get to the site as soon as possible. Not only would their minds be filled with stuff she didn't understand, but they'd take her own mind off her memories.
Or, as the case was, the animals…
"Ah, you're here," exclaimed one of the docs, dressed more like a desert ranger than someone who spent most of his life in a lab. "Good timing."
Nova remained silent. She heard him, both in speech and thought, but didn't see him. And considering that her gaze was focussed entirely on the…thing before her, a gaze that removing her face gear didn't alter, it was hardly surprising.
It was white. It was furry. And it certainly wasn't native to Xil…
"Ah yes, our new arrival," declared the scientist, as if he was the teep and knew what the Ghost was thinking. "Puzzling find, don't you think?"
Nova remained silent, still staring at the animal. Four legs, two horns, white fur…the thing looked slightly like an ursadon, though given how most of them were wiped out on Braxis, she hadn't really had enough experience to make a judgement. Regardless, unless Xil had an ecosystem the Dominion was unaware of, it certainly didn't belong here. The scientists were pouring their precious water over it and allowing it to drink, but panting as it lay under the blazing sun, the creature and its benefactors was clearly fighting a losing battle.
It's going to die…thought the Ghost to herself. And there's nothing we can do…
Despite having spent all of her life that she remembered as a government assassin, Nova couldn't help but feel sorry for the creature. She'd always been good with animals, especially cats for some reason, and being in the presence of a creature that wasn't insectoid and intent on tearing her apart made a nice change.
"What do you need me to do?" Nova asked the scientist. "I'm no vet, but…"
"Neither am I," the man interrupted. "However, unlike us lesser mortals, you're a telepath. So, if you could read the animal's mind, maybe we could find out how to help it. Where it's from, what we should do, and so on…"
Via her telepathy, Nova could tell that while the scientist was leaving out the fact that the animal had seemingly appeared through some kind of rift (presumably he didn't want to confuse her), he was at least sincere, which was more than she could say for most people that she dealt with. And in light of this fact, she cleared his fellow eggheads out of the way and laid her hands on the creature, both physically and mentally.
Easy boy. Easy…
Big hairless arctic beast…flee…Covenant are coming…
Nova smiled for one second, then lost it. Animals usually rationalized terrans in a manner they could understand. But the Covenant? She'd never heard of such a thing. Still, at least the creature had given away that it belonged to an arctic climate, which proved beyond doubt that it didn't belong on Xil. But where did it belong?
Harvest…Harvest is falling…falling…
Harvest? What are you-…
And that's when the images came. No…not images. Memories. And for whatever reason, Agent 12-862 knew that she couldn't turn away from them.
A yellow star…five planets…one planet…a habitable planet…
Terrans…no, not terrans…humans, if one was inclined to make the same distinction the UED insisted on. No, not UED…UEG…a UEG world…a prosperous world…a temperate world with an Arctic circle…A cool land…a land isolated from the fire below.
No, not below. From above. Fire from above in height, striking lands below in terms of latitude. Plasma, lasers, ships…death…it was the likes of Chau Sara and Mar Sara all over again, only here, the bringers of death made landfall…
Humans…humans returning. Humans fighting aliens nearly as advanced as the protoss, almost as savage as the zerg and in the end, just as…alien as both of them. Humans fighting with primitive weapons and armour, but fighting nonetheless. Fighting across a ruined world. Fighting across a wasteland wrapped in nuclear winter. A wasteland in which arctic beasts struggled to survive…and often failed.
Or, in this animal's case, vanished…
Exhaling, Nova fell back from the creature, breathing heavily. Never mind the dust that got in her mouth, never mind the sand in her hair, never mind even her sudden dehydration. After what she'd seen, none of it seemed important.
"Well?" the scientist asked, helping the Ghost to her feet. "What did you find out? Is it from Xil?"
Nova shook her head, reaching for some water that another doc handed her. And after finishing the bottle in a matter of seconds, after regaining her shattered composure, she finally answered.
"No, it's not from Xil. I don't think it's even from this universe…"
Unlike other crossover oneshots I've done, this didn't stem from similarities, but rather differences. Specifically, it came from the random and unrelated facts that Halo Wars and StarCraft II went down opposite roads in regards to critters-critters were in early Halo Wars builds but were eventually cut. In contrast, critters weren't included in the original StarCraft II beta, though Blizzard intends to add them in the near future. So, in the end, opposites attracted I guess...
...or something. 0_0