Author's Note: Blackhole1, you and I had our similarities for my chapter 68 and your chapter 71. In your chapter 71, you introduced Charlie Davis, public relations extraordinaire, where he and Mengsk discussed plans to get him out of the mess. Similarly, in my chapter 68, I introduced LeJuin, Dominion propaganda minister, to do the same thing.
The difference, however, was that you told me via PM that yours was only going to be a one shot, you hear him for one chapter and that's the end of the story. Mine will take a different approach. In mine, LeJuin will go to the public to do his part in bailing the emperor out of the mess he's currently in.
To all of my readers, this will be the final update to this fic before Heart of the Swarm is released. It's only a few days away, and I'm sure many of you will be busy playing it on release day anyway.
For the status of the fic though, it's going to have to slow down. With work and job hunting still going on, it's taking a serious toll on me. Updates will of course continue, but it will now be at a speed of 1 chapter every 8 to 10 weeks until further notice. It is my hope that by early to mid summer I can resume at regular speed, but no promises.
For my readers, I hope you can understand this as we all have priorities of our own. For the fic itself, don't worry. We may have passed the halfway point, but "Aftermath and Revelations" is still far from over.
Dominion Propaganda Minister LeJuin exited the Dominion Armored Personnel Carrier, escorted by elite Dominion marines. He looked around at the sight before him, before stepping out onto the streets of Styrling.
As with the rest of Korhal, Styrling had been completely turned to glass back in 2491 when the Confederacy launched 1000 Apocalypse-Class nuclear missiles at the planet and eradicated virtually the whole Korhal population. As of four years ago, the metropolis city had been rebuilt, though the levels of radiation had remained a danger to the inhabitants in the city. Styrling had been subjected to another brutal event of destruction when the United Earth Directorate had stormed in and defeated the Dominion forces. To make matters worse, the UED Armada had also taken control of the Zerg, and this meant that Styrling had been subjected to both UED and Zerg occupation during the Brood War.
Fortunately, those days had passed, and now the great city had been decontaminated, modernized, and beautified with the help of Dominion tax revenues. Unfortunately, James Raynor's actions in Korhal City had shaken the confidence of the people in Styrling as well, and Emperor Mengsk had specifically instructed LeJuin to make propaganda speeches to unite the people of Korhal.
This was something he could have done without leaving his Propaganda Ministry, but LeJuin was not the type to sit in his chair all day. He understood the concept of gaining popularity, and that was to go out in public and to meet the people face to face. It would be a sign to show that he would not sit back in his secure location while other people were at risk. LeJuin felt that this was more than likely the reason why the emperor visited Korhal City as well, despite his all too brief stay there.
In his case, LeJuin knew that his task would be much harder in convincing the people of Styrling. In the case with Korhal City, it was a simple matter of appealing to the people's immediate needs, which were simply the amenities to survive in the aftermath of the Odin incident. Here, it was a matter of convincing the people to continue to put their faith in their emperor, and to stand behind him during the time of war.
LeJuin knew that the people of Styrling were also shocked at the transmissions that James Raynor had broadcasted from Korhal City, and the Styrling Police Force had spent a great deal of time and energy to stop the civilian riots and expressions of outrage at their emperor. The tensions in the city remain high, and even some of the police were beginning to have their doubts, beginning to wonder as to why they're still serving a war criminal who was responsible for the slaughter of billions of people on Tarsonis.
It was up to the Dominion propaganda minister to get them to see otherwise, and he knew this wouldn't be easy. As he continued to walk down the streets, he could see the people of Styrling giving him stares of contempt and disgust. Clearly the common people were not pleased to see him, but then again that applied to a lot of the wealthy or famous. The regular citizens tend to have the impression that such people were too proud to mingle with the commoners. The city itself was not full of such people, but given everything that had happened, it was hard for LeJuin to tell the city's overall impression.
Overall, Styrling still had the sight of a grandiose city, one that showed the might of the Terran Dominion. In the aftermath of the Brood War when the city had been rebuilt, there were buildings and installations that had been moved elsewhere. Prior to the city being glassed by the Confederacy, the UNN Tower was the headquarters of the Universal News Network, and the building was gracefully built in the old Korhal capital. This had not been rebuilt, as the UNN had been relocated to Korhal City. The same had been true for the Korhal Assembly Forum, intending to be the seat of the Korhal Senate.
On the other hand, places such as the Continental Building and LarsCorp Tower were rebuilt, both of which still resided in Styrling. The latter was the headquarters of LarsCorp Technologies that was a terran arms manufacturer. It was LarsCorp that had developed the concept of the combat shield to the marines, and the 30mm of bonded carbide had helped Dominion marines significantly on the battlefield.
The Mengsk Skyspire had also been rebuilt, although the emperor had initially resisted such an idea as it had reminded him of his late father. It was only with the persuasion of Prince Valerian that Mengsk finally agreed to rebuild it, although the emperor still hardly set his eyes upon it, a complete contrast to his son, who had visited the Mengsk Skyspire often prior to the recent Zerg invasion.
By the time LeJuin had reached the city square, he could see that thousands of people from the city had already gathered there. This was to be expected, given that he had announced days ago that he would be arriving in the city of Styrling to deliver a speech on behalf of the Dominion emperor. There were those that were disgusted that Mengsk had sent him instead of coming to Styrling himself, while others felt that the emperor was too much of a coward to face his own people. Even more showed interest in hearing what the Dominion propaganda minister was going to say given everything that had transpired since the Zerg invasion.
Sensing the tension amongst his bodyguards, he urged them to remain calm as he stepped up onto the podium to address the people.
"Thank you for coming here today," LeJuin began. "These past few weeks and months have been quite straining, and it has certainly put the Dominion's resolve to the test, not just on Korhal, but on every Dominion world as well. The recent Zerg invasion had been one of great terror, and it had taken a great deal of time and energy before the might of the Dominion had finally brought it to a stop."
"Not from what we've heard from Prince Valerian's statements," one of the people from the crowd stated. "According to him, the Char invasion was a combined effort from the Dominion fleet and the rebel forces of James Raynor. You can argue that the rebel did nothing but stand on the sidelines, but the Dominion Prince had praised him for his actions, and some of us are not ready to believe that Prince Valerian was lying through his teeth about it all."
"I'm not going to be like that," the propaganda minister admitted. "I concede that James Raynor did play a role in the invasion, and he had indeed helped the Dominion forces to defeat the Zerg on Char. However the fact remains that the man had only succeeded with the might of the Dominion fleet assisting him. To that, I will admit that he did contribute to the victory on that volcanic ash world, but it was a much smaller contribution than you would think. The Zerg numbers on Char were in the billions, and had Raynor invaded Char alone, he and his forces would have been slaughtered without the Zerg even breaking a sweat."
"Then why would Prince Valerian lie to us and tell the people that James Raynor's actions was the key to the victory on Char?"
"Unlike the emperor and myself, Prince Valerian is one who sees James Raynor differently," LeJuin explained. "As you are all aware, ever since the Brood War ended, the media had portrayed the rebel commander as a terrorist and a severe threat to the integrity of the Dominion. His only goal is to see that the Dominion collapse on itself, and for there to be widespread chaos and public disorder. Even after all these years, he continued to defy Dominion authority and justice."
"If he's really like that, he's certainly one of the most capable terrorists the Dominion has ever gone up against," a woman spoke up from the crowd. "We've all watched the news, and we all know that the Dominion had devoted a great deal of time and resources to bringing James Raynor to justice. The emperor had continuously claimed over UNN that very soon, Raynor would be caught, and stability would return to the Koprulu Sector. Yet for all his boasts, no such thing happened."
"You're oversimplifying the whole matter. Emperor Mengsk is the ruler of the Dominion, not just some law enforcement officer. His responsibilities extend to far more than just catching Raynor and his terrorist group."
"So what? After the Brood War ended, the Zerg simply disappeared from sight," the woman countered. "None of the public had seen them for years until the invasion just recently. It's not like the Dominion had to deal with fighting them while catching Raynor or anything like that."
"You need to remember that in the immediate aftermath of the Brood War, the Dominion had been greatly weakened," LeJuin told her. "Four years ago, the Dominion was only a shadow of the force you see today. Don't forget, the United Earth Directorate had stormed Korhal back then. Despite the gallant efforts of the Dominion military, the UED forces had defeated us. To make matters even worse, they had somehow found a way to control the Zerg and enslave them, and then brought the slaved Zerg to Korhal. The UED forces were eventually defeated, but that didn't undo the damage they had caused to the Dominion."
Seeing murmurs of agreement from the crowd, LeJuin continued, "In addition, you're right in that the Zerg went silent for the next four years after the Brood War ended, but none of us knew that was going to happen in the immediate aftermath. Therefore, the immediate priorities were to rebuild the Dominion military forces in the event the Zerg launched an attack on the Dominion."
"Your buildups did nothing to stop the recent Zerg invasion," a man scoffed. "Despite the emperor's assurances that General Warfield would push the Zerg back, we all saw that he accomplished no such thing."
"The military buildup had slowed down after it had reached a certain point," the minister replied. "When Dominion analysts became certain that the Zerg were not going to be returning to the fray anytime soon, we had shifted our priorities elsewhere. It was exactly why we made greater efforts to rebuild Korhal. By now, it's much power modernized and beautiful than it had ever been."
"It was also boasted as the most heavily fortified Dominion world," another person in the crowd said sarcastically. "The emperor said repeatedly that Korhal could never be touched, and look what James Raynor did to Korhal City!"
"Only because of the Odin heavy walker being displayed there, and that was a Dominion war machine, not something Raynor and his rebels engineered themselves. His terrorists don't have the technology to build something that advanced, it's simply beyond their capabilities."
"It doesn't matter to the people as to just how he did it, what matters is that he was able to penetrate down to Korhal. The broadcasts he made proved that our emperor is a murdering psychopath who hungers only for power and nothing more."
"This isn't the time to be criticizing the emperor," LeJuin reminded him. "When all of this blows over, I'm sure there will be investigations about what really happened on Tarsonis and the emperor's nature, but that's something that has to be set aside for the time being."
"So you expect us to just follow a madman?" A woman exclaimed.
"No, I expect you to put your differences aside about the emperor," LeJuin corrected. "In case you forgot, we're still in a state of war here. The Zerg invasion may have been stopped, but that does not mean they're no longer a threat anymore. There are still quite a number of Dominion worlds that the Zerg have infested and that have yet to be cleared. The Zerg have no intention of giving up their conquests, so we have to go in there and burn them out."
"You've said for years that the Dominion fleet has never been stronger," she shot back. "You made it clear that all of the Dominion's enemies would be too cowardly to make any attack on the Dominion, and if they were foolish enough to try, they'd all be easily brushed aside. Now you're saying that despite the Zerg defeat, they're still a force to be reckoned with, which seem to imply that you've lied to us in the past. Clearly the Dominion isn't as invincible as we were led to believe, and our enemies aren't as weak either."
"We're only people, you know," the minister replied. "We're far from flawless. I will admit that the Dominion military probably underestimated the Zerg when they had launched their invasion, but that doesn't mean they didn't do all they could to save lives."
"Save lives? We saw from the news that the Dominion fleet had simply pulled back to the core worlds! The fringe worlds were left defenseless against the Zerg!"
"It's a simple rule when it comes to war," Lejuin said calmly. "You save as many people as you possibly can. There was no possible way for the Dominion forces to save everyone, and you should know that."
"And you should know that there are limits to this concept of sacrificing a few to save many!"
"I hope you know that around 8 billion people had died during the course of the Zerg invasion," the minister said. "This was despite the best efforts of the Dominion military. It's for this reason that I ask you to put aside your differences for the emperor, at least for the time being. He is not a genocidal maniac, which is a complete contrast to the Zerg. If we fail in our war against them, we'll all be exterminated. The Zerg are creatures that can't be reasoned or negotiated with, which means victory or annihilation are the only two outcomes to this war. Personally, I prefer the former."
Seeing the rest of the crowd nod in agreement, LeJuin made his final point, "Look, everyone has flaws, the emperor is no exception to all this. But even if you believe that he doesn't have humanity's best interests at heart, you know for a fact that the Zerg certainly don't."
"And you expect us to side with the lesser of the two evils," the woman concluded.
"If that's what you want to call it," LeJuin replied. "The point is that the threat of the Zerg is still very real, and despite whatever had happened on Char, this war is not over. All of us have to stand together if we are to survive. This isn't a time to have petty internal conflicts, especially not ones that our enemies can exploit. The emperor made it clear in his speeches that strength lies in unity, and he isn't wrong about that. We need that unity here or none of us will survive against the Zerg."
Looking at the faces of the crowd, the minister could see signs of agreement. He sighed in relief. It wasn't as much as he hoped for, but he had won the people over, at least for the time being. Now it was up to the emperor to build on this advantage.
Rail Network, Tarsonis
One of the Dominion officers dashed over to the APC, snapping off a salute as Kim stepped out with the Dominion marines. "Colonel Kim, this is a bad place to be. We're relieved to see made it here alive and unharmed, but we can't guarantee your safety."
Kim nodded to the marines, and they move out towards the battlefield, some of them have already begun firing their gauss rifles at the Zerg Mutalisks swooping down to attack them. "There's no choice in the matter here, soldier. With our original landing sites already overrun by the Zerg, Giddings Station and Tarsonis Starport are the only places left for the Dropships to safely land and get us the hell out of here. Now both of those places are fine, there haven't been any Zerg attacks yet, but they're constantly attacking the rail network leading there. If we don't get the rails repaired, we're going to be trapped here while the Zerg overrun the whole of Tarsonis City."
"Casualties on our end haven't been as heavy as expected," the officer agreed. "Those creatures don't seem interested in attacking us."
"That's because they know that if they can destroy the rail system that leads out of the city, it'll cut off our only escape route," the female colonel told him. "They know there's no way we can beat them in a battle of numbers. Even with Raynor and his troops working alongside us, we're still outnumbered by the Zerg here. We can't win this battle, so the Dominion engineers have to repair the rails as soon as possible. Once that's done, we can get the train moving and make our escape."
"The Zerg are thinking along the same lines. The Mutalisk attacks have been getting heavier and heavier by the hour, and Zerg ground forces having also moved into position. Most of our engineers have been forced to take up arms to deal with them, which means there's no one left to repair the tracks anymore."
"That's what's going to change right now," Kim said in determination, as Goliaths and Thors moved past her, their mechanical feet clanking as they stomped onto the battlefield. She cocked her C-14 rifle and patted the officer on the shoulder. "Come on, let's go give the engineers a hand."
They got only a matter of yards when the shriek of the Zerg could be heard. Dominion marines around Kim opened fire, as the bullet casings clattered to the ground in their hundreds.
From her position Kim could see hundreds of Zerglings moving as quickly as they could to close in on them. The concentrated fire from the marines was mowing them down, but despite the piles of corpses, the hordes of Zerglings kept pushing forward.
"Thors! Unload your artillery!" she shouted.
A groan could be heard from some of the massive mechanical walkers, as their massive 250mm cannons deployed into position. When they fired, the effect was devastating. The ground shook as the artillery shells hit, and Zerglings were blown to pieces while others scurried to find cover, though without any success. When the smoke cleared, Kim could see hundreds of Zerglings scattered across the battlefield, most of their in pieces from the artillery barrage.
Stinger jeeps continuously fired from their 35mm High Explosive cannons as Hydralisks emerged out of the rubble. Some were lucky enough to unload their piecing needle spines, and marines next to Kim were pierced through the helmet and killed instantly. The Stingers kept up their fire, even though they knew that this would eventually cause their cannons to overheat. However, stopping was simply not an option. Despite the fact that line after line of Hydralisks were being cut down, more continued to move onto the battlefield. Some of them were beginning to get dangerously close to the Stingers to use their scythes and cut the marines apart.
"Marauders! Don't let them through!" Kim ordered.
The armored infantrymen opened fire with their punisher grenades, but the Hydralisks continued to press forward. One Marauder fired an explosive round at almost point blank range, but despite the fact that it ripped the creature's jaw apart, it nevertheless pressed forward and sank its scythe arm into the man's helmet, killing him instantly.
Some of the more wounded Hydralisks dashed towards the marines, and enough were able to get within range to also use their scythes. Still firing her C-14 rifle, Kim watched as some of the Dominion marines were forced to unlock their combat shields from their arms and manually use it to bash it into the creatures' hides. One cunning soldier took cover behind a wrecked Stinger jeep and ripped off its 35mm cannon and manually firing it into more incoming Zerglings.
Artillery shells suddenly rocked the field as Dominion Siege Tanks got into position. Deploying themselves behind the marines and infantrymen, their 100mm shock cannons opened up on their ground attackers, as Zerglings, Hydralisks, and Roaches were blown apart. Some of them tried to burrow underground to avoid the explosive shells, but many were unable to do so in time.
Kim clicked her radio. "SCVs! Move the Flaming Betties into position, now!"
Mechanical suits around her quickly moved about, carrying one of James Raynor's technological advancements. From the outset, it looked like an auto turret deployed by Ravens, but instead it was an advanced flamethrower developed by the Raiders. Despite its small size, it was extremely heavily armored, and Raynor had assured her that the flamethrower could dish it out far more effectively than the Firebats could.
This was evident to Kim only moments later, as the Flaming Betties spun up their gun shafts and ignited their flames. The screams of Zerglings, Hydralisks, and Roaches confirmed that the Raiders' weapons were indeed a force to be reckoned with.
Suddenly, an enormous explosion knocked her off her feet. Kim turned her head to see one of the Thors suddenly collapse onto itself.
"Banelings incoming!" an officer shouted. "Diamondbacks, stop them!"
The sounds of eviscerator rail guns screeched as the hover tanks opened fire. As the Banelings were extremely volatile, many exploded in a pile of acid as their thin carapace were pierced. Nevertheless, a few were still able to close within striking distance, and the screams of marines could be heard as the acids splashed onto their CMC armor.
"Reapers, detonate the charges now!" Kim ordered. "Stop the Banelings!"
An enormous explosion rocked the battlefield as the D-8 charges were set off. The shrieks of Banelings could be heard, but quickly passed as their volatile bodies exploded prematurely, splashing onto nearby Zerg creatures. As the smoke cleared, Kim could see Zerg Infestors had moved onto the battlefield, but arrived at the wrong moment. With their bodies covered in Baneling acids, they were severely weakened and easy prey for the Dominion marines. The infantrymen opened fire with their C-14 gauss rifles once more, and within a few minutes, all of the Infestors had perished.
A roar was heard from behind the rubble. Seconds later, Ultralisks smashed through, revealing their deadly Kaiser Blades. Despite the continued artillery support from the Siege Tanks, their thick carapaces proved their worth, and the massive beasts continued to press forward. Underneath them, Kim could see Zerglings and Roaches moving with the beasts, using them as cover against incoming fire.
"The legs! Aim for their legs!" she ordered.
The Thors complied, as their massive particle beam cannons blazed. Even the massive Zerg beasts could not withstand such a blow, and the Ultralisks collapsed onto the ground as their legs were cleanly blown off. The Zerglings and Roaches under them were simply crushed to death.
"We need Raven support!" A Firebat shouted, before he suddenly exploded in a fireball, the volatile burning fuel splashing onto nearby Reapers and sending them to the ground screaming in pain. Lurkers were also moving into position, their latest victim was that Firebat who had been unfortunate enough to be directly in the path of their deadly subterranean spines.
"Fall back!" Kim commanded. "Force the Lurkers to surface!"
As the marines retreated towards their perimeter, the Zerg creatures played right into their hands. Having no defensive capabilities at all above ground, the Lurkers were quickly mowed down by marine gunfire as soon as they surfaced.
In the air, Mutalisks continued to fight with the Vikings and Wraiths for air superiority, and the sounds of battle could be heard everywhere. Kim scowled in anger as pilots were reporting system failure and had to retreat for repairs, and this meant that the Goliath walkers would have to be used to fill in the shortages. However, as they were not as maneuverable, it also meant that they were more vulnerable to aerial Zerg attacks.
"Engineering team, this is Colonel Kim," she spoke into her radio. "We're keeping the ground Zerg at bay, at least for the time being. What's the status on those rail repairs?"
"We're going as fast as we can, ma'am," came the reply. "But as long as the Zerg keep up with the Mutalisk attacks, progress is going to remain slow."
"I'll see if I can get the Vikings and Wraiths to lure the Mutalisks away from you," she told them. "If I can do that, how much more time will you guys need?"
"Given the fact that the sun just rose, I'd estimate at least until late afternoon, colonel. I wish it could be sooner, but the last Mutalisk attack had done a number on the tracks, as well as left a number of our engineers dead. Even if we're left in complete peace and quiet, I don't think it can be any sooner."
"Then I suggest you people push it," Kim sighed. "The closer you get to completing the repairs, the more intense the Zerg attacks are going to get. We can buy you time, but we can't keep this up forever, so use whatever time you have wisely."
En Route to Deadman's Port, Dead Man's Rock
"Kerrigan, Mira Han's forces are searching frantically in Paradise as we speak," Franklin's voice came over the communicator channel. "So far there hasn't been any luck."
"That doesn't mean the nuke isn't there," Sarah told him. "I've already read the minds of the Dominion officers that we've captured. None of them apparently seems to know where the missing warhead is. This means that when the Dominion troops knew their base was going to fall, someone on the base had taken the weapon without telling anybody and tried to break out of there with it."
"Well the mercs have searched just about every corner of the Dominion base," he replied. "Let's just say their methods of interrogation aren't exactly pleasant. For the surviving Dominion troops there, getting beaten by neosteel clubs is considered gentle treatment."
"What's considered harsh?" she asked.
"Something along the lines of dismemberment and having your limbs cut off," Franklin answered. "The point is, despite all that, they finally concluded that the Dominion troops were telling the truth. That missing nuke isn't on the base anymore."
"It's why I'm on a Dropship and heading to Deadman's Port right now. The settlement is farther away from the Toxic Slums compared to Paradise, so it's a simple matter of reverse psychology. After all, with the Dominion base gone, it means whoever's got the nuke would have a very small escort to protect him. The logical step would be to detonate it at Paradise given its closer distance. However, we would all be expecting that and would have sent troops there to find him, so more than likely he's headed to Deadman's Port with the bomb instead. It doesn't take a genius to know they're trying to take their revenge for their defeat here on Dead Man's Rock."
"You know, if you succeed, you're just going to anger the Dominion even more, and you'll make Dead Man's Rock a target for Dominion military operations."
"We can deal with that later," Kerrigan said. "Right now we need to take care of the nuke problem. Now, if I happen to be wrong and the nuke really is in Paradise, pass the word onto as many people as you can to exercise extreme caution. The warheads are designed to withstand quite a bit when they're not armed, but that doesn't mean if it gets caught in the crossfire it can't be set off. If it's there, let me know as soon as possible. We can't afford to take any chances with it."
She shut off the communicator before turning to the pilot. "How much longer before we reach Deadman's Port?"
"Just a few more minutes," he answered. "The outskirts of the city should be coming into visual range any second now."
As the Dropship continued to head towards the filthy city of Deadman's Port, Kerrigan looked out the window. Hey eyes widened at the sight. She had been expecting the settlement to be just like Paradise, covered in derelict vehicle hulks. Instead, she could see areas if dirt, grass, and even actual bodies of clear water.
"It looks like a whole new world here," she murmured softly.
"This area of Deadman's Port is," the mercenary pilot answered. "In 2495, this used to belong to the crime lord Scutter O'Banon."
"What happened to the guy?" Sarah asked.
"The mercenaries eventually discovered that he was working with the Dominion and conducting business ventures with them. Naturally the people weren't exactly pleased. Eventually, Commander Han and Colonel Orlan decided to temporarily put their differences aside and work together to kick the guy out. After that was done, since Orlan had the stronger military force, he took the place over for himself. Of course now that his troops have been integrated into Han's organization, this town is under her authority, just like the massive mansion at Paradise that once belonged to the crime lord Ethan Stewart."
She shuddered at the mention of his name. Even now, the actions she had done as the Queen of Blades in infesting him and turning him into her consort deeply shook her. The mercenaries here may now know her actions that well during her time with the Zerg, but she still had a long road ahead of her if she was to have even the slightest hope of redemption.
Sarah pushed those thoughts away as she looked out the window once more, turning her sights what appeared to be a small corporate town out the outskirts of Deadman's Port. It certainly befitted the characteristics of a crime lord or a great mercenary leader. The whole place was a heavily secured complex, with more than a dozen buildings, laser activated security measures, private swimming pools, and even lavish gardens and orchards. At the center of the complex was a massive mansion that rivaled the one that Mira Han had taken her husband Matt Horner into in Paradise. The approaches to the mansion were paved with elegant roads, each of them with dozens of well pruned trees.
She could even see a private landing field with System Runners loading and unloading cargo there, with thousands of security men and women moving about.
"That used to be O'Banon's elite army of bodyguards," the pilot told her. "It was his own private army, about 10,000 of them in number. After he was kicked out, Orlan took them as his own, and now they belong to Han's organization. Fortunately, their loyalties could be bought, and that made it all the easier as we didn't have to fight them for such a thing."
"So this is where your commander goes when she needs some recreational time?"
"Along those lines. I really hope she can convince her husband to stay with her for a while on Dead Man's Rock though. Clearly the two of them have a lot of catching up to do."
"Matt can decide that for himself," Kerrigan said calmly. "Let's just get to the main part of the city. If the nuke is there, I need to disarm it before it turns all of Deadman's Port into a radioactive crater."
Tarsonis City, Tarsonis
Kate walked on with her UNN journalists, escorted by Raynor's troops. She could see the hesitation on many of their faces, and she couldn't blame them. Clearly the rebel commander was a much more complicated man than she had been expecting, and the same was true for the whole overall picture. Getting news like this to the UNN network would be like uncovering a gold mine.
However, she also knew this had to be done very carefully. Despite everything that had happened, she was fully aware that Raynor still didn't fully trust her, and the former Dominion ghost, this Nova Terra, would make sure that none of them were hiding anything from him. According to Colonel Kim, Nova was apparently the strongest Dominion ghost operative, one who had never once failed in her mission before, and Lockwell knew that it wouldn't be smart to get on her bad side.
Still, that wasn't what was important here. It was Nova who had suggested a way to get the information that they had just obtained off the Confederate military satellite and announce it to the public. When the initial shock had worn off, Raynor had ordered that the transmissions were to be copied onto data discs, and hundreds of copies had already been made. Now, she was walking alongside Raynor and his troops, while an Ore Loader Truck carried the massive satellite itself, heading towards their destination.
"Nova, I still don't quite see what your plan is," Jim spoke out. "There's nothing left of Tarsonis City but rubble. Kelerchian's hideout might have been among the exceptions, but he already admitted this had only been done by Dominion construction teams to clear the rubble."
"My point exactly," the blond ghost replied. "Most of Tarsonis City is ruins, I'll give you that, but you're only seeing the city's surface. If you go underground, that may be a different matter."
Nova turned to one of the officers. "How much further are we from the Terra Skyscraper and UNN Building?"
"Two miles, max," came the reply. "It'll be coming into visual range any second now."
"Nova, are you sure you want to go there?" Mal asked, worried. "That's ground zero for you, you know. That was where your family had been assassinated, and where your traumatizing story began."
She lowered her head slightly. "It's something I'll have to endure, Mal. Jim had faced up to his demons, I know I can do the same."
Raynor smiled. Nova had come a long way since joining hands with his Raiders. The way she talked about endurance, it only made her and Sarah even more alike.
The smile turned into a slight frown. "Still, you haven't exactly told us as to what your plan is here. How do you plan to get these transmissions broadcasted without leaving the city?"
"You said it yourself that the flyboys had made some passes over the sector of the city that I requested," she answered. "According to them, the UNN building is still standing, despite its dilapidated state."
"It's something that surprised me too," Lockwell said. "That building was the home office to the Universal News Network during the days of the Confederacy, but it wasn't exactly considered durable. It wasn't even designed to withstand minor skirmishes, let alone a full scale assault, and certainly not a Zerg invasion."
"Well, as far as I know, most of the UNN people were evacuated to Giddings Station, where they were then taken to the orbital station of Osborne Port. Maybe because the building was left empty, the Zerg didn't find anyone to kill and therefore weren't interested in attacking the place," Mal suggested.
"It doesn't matter why the UNN Building is still standing, all that matters is that there's a good chance that the broadcasting antennas and satellites are still in working order. After all, the people who built them would have made sure that they were meant to last," Nova explained. "If so, we can upload the data and get these transmissions sent off Tarsonis. The Dominion communication satellites will pick them up, and the Dominion worlds will know about what Mengsk did."
"That won't work," Lockwell pointed out. "The UNN Building does have broadcasting booth generators in the building's basement, but those generators get their power from Tarsonis City's power stations, and because of the Zerg invasion, they've all been destroyed."
Nova smiled. "That's the reason to head to the Terra Skyscraper. For the people that know about the Old Families, it's common to hear that they didn't care about anyone but themselves, and the lives of the common people meant nothing to them. The belief was that all they cared about was their wealth, prosperity, and high living standards. There's truth to that, but this isn't true for all of the Old Families. Mine was among the exceptions."
"I know you got your memory back, but I still don't get what does this have to do with going to your family's home," Jim said, confused.
"Blackouts weren't common in Tarsonis City, but every now and then they do occur when the city's power grids become too strained," the blond ghost explained. "When something like that happens, the power stations can usually take care of the problem in a couple of hours and get the power back on. However, my family also factored in the possibility that there may be times where people simply couldn't afford to wait a few hours and need the power immediately."
"And that's what you have at the place," the commander stated.
"The Terra Skyscraper has its own independent power supply source that's not part of the Tarsonis City power grid. In the event that all of the city's power stations suddenly fail, my family's building would still remain functional," Nova said. "In the years passed, when it became apparent to everyone that this was far too unlikely to happen, my family simply decided that the power source would be used for another purpose: helping those without power in the event of a power grid failure."
Kate nodded, starting to catch on. "Could that power source still be working?"
"It was kept in the skyscraper's basement, Ms. Lockwell. And my family made sure that it was built to last a couple of years without any maintenance whatsoever. Of course the Zerg weren't exactly factored in to all of this."
Raynor suddenly caught on. "If those power generators in your skyscraper building basement are still functional, then we can reroute them and divert the power to the UNN Building. Once that's done, we can then upload the data and send the transmissions."
Nova nodded, as the Terra Skyscraper came within visual range. "Exactly, Jim. This whole city has been completely depowered for years. No one would expect the power could suddenly come back on, even if it's only for a small section of the city and even if it's only for a few minutes."
Jim turned his head to what was left of the skyscraper, his face grim. Unlike the UNN Building, the Terra Skyscraper did not survive the Zerg onslaught. The building had collapsed onto itself. One of the finest buildings in Tarsonis City was now nothing but a pile of rubble and ruin.
He nodded to his troops. "Start digging through the mess immediately, people. If the skyscraper's basement survived the Zerg, there must still be a way inside."
"We'll find it, commander," an officer replied. "But what about all our other troops left at the dilapidated place? The Zerg are probably hitting their lines as we speak, sir. You know there's no way they can hold them off forever."
"Then we'll set up defensive positions around the UNN building. If the Zerg get that far, we have to hold them off there, at least until the transmissions are uploaded," Raynor replied. "This is our best and most likely our only chance to expose Mengsk for what he really is, and I intend to make it count. For now, keep looking for a way inside. Whatever sort of state the power source is in right now, I have to know."