A/N: ITS HERE! Part 2 of the Hail to the Zero Queen Season Finale! Enjoy! PS: This is a fast paced one, so hold on! Its also a day early! Have a blast!
Final Review Answering!
DaLintyMan: My character portrayal is slowly improving, I'll admit though, I don't know much about the Dark Voice. I've played Wings of Liberty, but I only have so much information on what he/she/it truly is. I know it is by first take a manipulator, and never directly involves itself in conflicts. However, given where Kerrigan is in the galaxy, it could be said this may be a desperation measure. The fact is I just don't know enough to be more specific with the Dark Voice at this point. A lack of knowledge, plus the minimal canon that is available make the development of the Dark Voice difficult, at least at this point. I may redefine the Dark Voice once I have more information though.
(My FOZ crossover with an original character has been stonewalled by this as well, creating a character from scratch is not something I'm used to doing as of yet.)
The political/religious fallout as well as the war itself will definitely be coming next season. Not to mention in those days news traveled fairly slowly. In the space of Wales death, and the invasion was barely more than a week, if 2 weeks at all. Ghost Black Ops are also on the table for an almost certain use in Season 2. How they are implemented, whether within a chapter or as an Omake remains undecided. Fear not however, the lovely Fairies will be playing a role in the next season, so stay tuned! PS: The idea of Raynor and Zeratul showing up is actually a hilarious idea, if I write a little side story onto this series I'll be sure to give you credit for that one. =P
Shadowsong: I agree, I'm disappointed that it had to come to an end eventually. But I'm taking a little time off from writing before I begin the next season, plus write another series. I am glad that you are still awaiting my chapters and I assure you, the battle for Tarbes will be full of bloodshed, and a few twists that will be answered eventually.
Yeza: Carnage Cubed. About your question regarding numbers, in Soviet war time doctrine, using overwhelming force and numbers was key to victory. I assumed that quantity would have a quality all its own for a medieval type army. I also prove that even a sustained defensive perimeter eventually falters; the bunkers and missile turrets all have limited ammo, so they can't be held forever. Destroying the ships before they land is a big issue; as soon as the frigate and cruiser screen depleted the turrets the carriers would have a place to unload troops. All good points you brought up though. Keep it up!
DarkOwl/Blackholelord: It's a giant Albion clusterf*ck coming right up!
Mega1987: Mmm chunky!
NecroFantasia: Numbers are important, plus there are thousands of Dragon Knights, the Valkyrie wouldn't have enough munitions for them all. So it's playing an attack role alongside the Zerg fliers. The ships hulls are presumably reinforced by magic as well, so they will be far harder kills then the old wooden ships of the 1700's. A catastrophic ship kill would be one that gutted the ship stem to stern, powder magazines, and/or the windstones being destroyed would be a key element in this.
Sacchin: I love writing this stuff! Warfare coming up in Part two of the Season Finale! Blood and GLORY!
Deathgeonous: Glad to hear ya like it =) The Season Finale will have cliffs and more mysteries to unlock soon enough. It has been a privilege to write this story for you and all my other readers.
DaLintyMan: I admit the number is a bit high, but it felt like a good one at the time. May tone it down a bit, but we'll have to see about that. Thanks for waiting yet again =)
Outside in the glen, a massive roar began to fill the eardrums and ribcages which began to overtake everything in the area. One modified Apocalypse class missile flew straight and true for the upper stratosphere on a ballistic trajectory for the fleet, with 3 others following behind it. In the Valkyrie, Kirche saw the white plume of smoke the missiles made as they left their silo and went nearly straight up.
"Holy shit! Look at those things go! I wonder who is lucky enough to get to handle those things!"
"That would be yours truly Kirche, you're on an open channel," came the terse reply from Siesta.
Kirche blanched, "Why couldn't I have the big missile thingies!"
Montmorency rolled her eyes, 'Typical Kirche.'
"Miss Zerbst, do your job. Siesta out."
Kirche frowned, heard Montmorency giggling, "That wasn't embarrassing at all Kirche."
Kirche glared at the blonde water mage, "Shut up Flood."
That Same Time
Admiral Hood looked out and saw Tristain in the distance, "Yeoman time to target?"
"15 minutes Admiral," The Admiral nodded, "Good, load the guns across the fleet, I want every cannon ready to fire on Tristainian forces that rise to fight us."
"Aye aye Admiral!"
The Yeoman issued out the orders to the flag messenger, 'Load all weapons for combat, alternating ammunition types. Await permission to fire.'
The lookout above the bridge screamed down to the Bridge! "Admiral! We have incoming airborne targets closing fast! Their huge!"
Hood looked out towards the bow and saw four massive objects coming at them at ludicrous speeds, "Sound collision alarm-!"
Cromwell had retreated inside his personal chambers to get his armor and helmet on, while the resistance they would face would be minimal, he knew there was still a chance for death at every corner in this war. As he was leaving, Cromwell was sent into a bulkhead by a massive explosion that seemed to echo through the very air. The new Emperor was getting back up when he was bracketed by three more explosions in relatively close succession. After waiting extra time to get up to make sure it had passed he rushed up to the bridge to find it in absolute chaos.
Cromwell corrected himself, the actual bridge was gone. The roof and walls had been blown off and he saw multiple ships in tatters across the fleet, most slowly losing altitude, their crews abandoning ship as they exploded into fireballs. He looked for the Admiral and was disgusted to find what was left of the man pasted onto the floor like paint. His actual bones had been crushed into the material that coated the walls.
'What sorcery was this?!'
"Crewman, what happened up here?"
"No idea Eminence, everyone in the bridge or who was in the air is dead. We've lost several support ships and most of our cruisers are damaged and a few are listing. I think it was some sort of magic attack from Tristain, but why can't we see any enemy ships or mounts?"
The Albion Fleet was left wondering that question as they continued to make their way to Tarbes. They lost 2 carriers, 4 heavy cruisers, and half a dozen frigates in less than 2 minutes.
'Mistress Siesta, the long range attack has crippled the fleet; they have no choice but to land at Tarbes now.'
"This is going better than I expected. Father, the missiles hit the targets dead on, most of the ships took significant damage. Is everything ready down there across the coast and in town?"
Elliot replied, "It is as ready as we can make it Siesta, get down to the village and make sure everyone is out and at the temple. Good luck." He cut the connection, and looked towards the coast; he could see burning ships all the way out there from his Command Bunker on a strategic hillside. It was a beautiful sight to Elliot; he never thought he would be so happy to see ships burning and people dying in his life ever again.
He looked through his scope on his rifle, activated the laser range finger, and saw the closest ship was a small frigate that had avoided certain destruction from being all the way up front. It was 3 kilometers from shore and only 750 meters ahead of the rest of the fleet. Many of the wounded were being lifted to her decks from the other ships, whose facilities were more or less destroyed. It was a shame to have to blow her out of the air next, but this was war.
War was always full of shame; and casualties.
Elliot turned his attention from the ships and saw the Zerg fliers and the Valkyrie enter Tarbes' airspace, as well as seeing the Royal Army coming in on the road. He also saw what looked like a set of varied mounts coming from the east. 'Elliot, the Nydus worms will remain underground until the fleet makes landfall. After that, weapons free.'
Elliot got onto his radio, "Siesta set a countdown timer for the Missile Turrets on the shoreline to come online, set 1-2-0 seconds, good copy?"
"1-2-0 Seconds good copy Father. Turrets set to automatic, Zerg fliers will be attacking the fleet's rear guard next."
The Mutalisks and Corruptors screamed in from above and behind the fleet, taking potshots at crewmen on the decks, at Dragons in the air, and even at Dragons carrying liters of wounded men. Modified Glaive Wurms ate through crewmen, bouncing between groups like a pinball, dissolving entire groups before exploding with an acidic fragmentation effect. Corruptors were able to dissolve the decks of the ships, limiting the ability of the crew to fight back.
Scourges came in and slammed through the decks of the escort ships, exploding within. The ships began to buckle and collapse, most exploding outright from the internal overpressure and power of the explosions. 20 ships were hit, but only 8 ships began to fall into the ocean, crumbling into dust and ash.
The Valkyrie came in behind those units, screaming on the loudspeakers was an odd musical number that Sarah had told the pilots was ironically called 'The Ride of the Valkyries.' The Valkyrie began firing off pairs of Longbolt missiles as Kirche lined up the shots and Montmorency took them. Each pair targeted the mast and the bridge of each ship they were aimed at, disabling them entirely while Corruptors simply rotted the wooden ships away. A few were intercepted by Dragon Knights who ended up getting too close and were locked onto by the heavy missiles.
By that time however the warships had passed over the shore, and the Missile Turrets had activated, sending Longbolt missile after missile into the bellies of carriers which barely had time to drop their troops before having massive holes torn into them, some being blown clean out of the sky. The Dragon mounts were not restricted to having to land however and began to attack the Missile Turrets. Some turrets had servos or mechanisms damaged, but we're able to continue firing until they depleted their compliment of 12 missiles and 24 rockets each. The emptied turrets exploded with massive blasts of shrapnel, killing those unfortunate enough to be in range. All 6 shore batteries self destructed, as Albion infantry approached, dealing heavy casualties to them and passing Dragons.
By this point the Nydus worms erupted from the ground; Zerg ground troops counterattacked landing units with Ultralisks acting as giant battering rams, both blasting the groups of enemies back and cutting them to ribbons. The Ultralisks ran through, but of the twenty that charged through 3 fell from enemy magic fire, while 4 were knocked out of the fight due to injuries. The Albion regiment that faced them however was decimated, suffering 90% casualties, and sending the remaining 10% running for the hills and allied positions.
Karin and her Manticore came screaming in, attacking Albion Dragoons that had escaped the rocket volleys with Magic attacks, tearing them apart. She and the rest of her volunteer team began to rip into the Dragon forces, keeping them off the bunkers and each one earning several kills before withdrawing to take a rest. They continued the cycle as the defensive positions began to fall backwards.
The next line of Turrets activated automatically, shedding their camouflage they began to fire on the ships that had survived the initial engagement, as well as provide covering fire for the Bunkers which were now opening fire on approaching infantry formations. The groups sought no cover and were simply shot to pieces as the bunkers easily survived the oncoming magic and explosive attacks from the Dragons. Guardians began to bombard ships and enemy troop concentrations as the commoner troops and Zerg called in the strikes.
Gauss rifle fire simply ripped through armor and shields, bursts cleaving through entire columns of approaching troops. Occasionally a Mage Knight would emerge to bring a Golem into the fight, but was cut down by a markswoman, leaving each with a fatal wound of some kind or another. Marauder grenades were shot in an arc behind enemy lines smashing the infantry's rear guard and archer contingents that could pin down the bunker crews. Perditions took out any soldiers with enough initiative to close in on the bunker, cooking them into a purple-black plump corpse.
After the troops ran out of ammo, they set the charge and ran out through the escape tunnel. The bunker collapsed behind them, allowing them to regroup at the Temple. They rearmed their weapons from previously set aside ammo drops in the tunnels and continued on their way. This process continued as the bunkered infantry, markswomen, and Mutalisks continued to thin out their ranks.
A massive Earth golem had been raised and began beating up Missile Turrets with its massive fists. The Turrets mistakenly registered the huge man-sized golem as an aircraft and began firing Longbolt missiles into it. The Longbolts shredded the Golem, and any unfortunate infantrymen who were too close with the explosions. Markswomen managed to kill two enemy colonels with single, center-of-mass shots, leaving gaping holes in both their chest cavities and in the Albion chain of command.
The Lord of Tarbes and a select group of mages were moving throughout the town, putting their magic to use in fighting the Dragons that continued to ravage the small village with fire, threatening to burn the entire village down. Lord Tarbes was focused on putting out the fires, while his mages covered him. The older Lord knew that Elliot was in control of the defensive effort, and he attempting to use his authority to lead the commoners in the defense of their town would be a waste of time.
He knew he was an actual soldier, unlike the Lord who was a politician and used words as weapons rather than a blade or wand. As his willpower drained away he fell to his knees, and was helped by his mages to the town fountain for a drink. Two commoners in Marine uniforms joined the group to ensure their safety, given their relative few numbers.
One of the combat suits registered a proximity warning, and before the armored farmer could give a warning, a massive barrage of cannonballs went into the fountain base, killing all around it but the Marines, which had been injured by a few indirect impacts. The Marines went back towards the Temple, limping and wondering how to break the news.
Hills on the outskirts of Tarbes
Henrietta looked at the massive devastation the Zerg, the volunteer Tarbes defenders, and the Valkyrie were wreaking on the Albion invasion force. The young princess looked in awe as a carrier exploded into pieces after being hit by a large missile fired from the Valkyrie. Many ships still remained however, and the defenders were being slowly pushed back. 'We wouldn't have done this good by ourselves.'
The Princess was approached by Louise who looked to her and spoke, "You're drooling Your Highness."
Henrietta quickly recovered, and saw the mounted squadron led by Karin speed past them overhead, "Alright! Infantry to the front! Advance and provide support to the defenders! Forward!" Messengers began to run across the recently set up camp, marshalling the commoner infantry for their assault. In a minute the first line had been formed and they began to progress towards Tarbes. "Magic Knights! Search and destroy! Targets of opportunity!"
Magic Knights went ahead and began to harass troops that had managed to sneak past the bunkers and the Zerg. Many had hidden in local houses for cover and were burned down around them by the fire mages that attacked. Troops from the bunkers that had been cut off from their tunnel escapes met up with the Knights and began to hit enemy infantry from a distance; they also cleared buildings that could not be easily burned down. Henrietta and Louise had come right after the Magic Knights and made contact with several locals in Marine powered armor, along with one Firebat. Henrietta was actually intimidated by the armored commoners, as well as several of her Musketeers and Magic Knights.
"Your Highness!" The Marines kneeled in front of the Princess, "Rise soldiers. Where is the Lord of Tarbes?"
"He has been killed in battle Your Highness. He was out in the open when a cannon barrage hit his position. He and the mages that were with him were killed instantly. We are currently in a tactical retreat per the plan that was set in place."
As the Marines continued their report, several of the Mage Knights and commoner troops met and began to talk during a lull in the fighting. "Your Highness! Down!" Henrietta went for the dirt, jumping off the unicorn as a crashing Albion Dragon Knight went through the mythical beast, cutting it in half.
The Marines helped her up and then motioned for her to head towards the Temple in the hills once she was ready. The troopers made sure said Knight was dead and began to fall back to the next bunker and set up their next firing position from there. Henrietta's infantry began to take hold of positions in the village, building a defensive perimeter they could hold until the withdrawal reached them.
Henrietta saw a massive Zerg beast that she had never seen rushing through Albion infantry, swatting them aside like pieces of dust, while cutting down and running over the others. The creature turned towards the Princess and ran to her, scaring half the Musketeers to shoot at the beast. The rounds crumpled on impact, leaving rider and Brutalisk unhurt.
"Your Highness! Good for you to join us! I hope your trip wasn't difficult?" Henrietta, still laden with adrenaline from her close encounter with death looked to Kerrigan with a look full of venom.
"It wasn't until just a moment ago Kerrigan!"
Kerrigan smiled and put her hands up defensively. One carried an AGR-14, while the other carried Delflinger, "Right, sorry about that Your Highness. We'll be heading back to the Temple soon your Highness."
Kerrigan continued, "Most of the bunkers and turrets have been scuttled so we'll be falling back to our main defensive line soon enough. The Zerg and I will continue to keep the pressure on them and if their forces continue to be an issue we'll have to use the nukes." She was forced to pause when two Scourges screamed in; blowing apart a frigate that had gotten too close to the group. It broke apart, crushing two regiments of infantry underneath.
'Wrong place, wrong time I guess.'
Louise looked onto the battlefield and was simply shocked at the carnage present. There was red strewn across the valley, both the color of blood and the Albion Army's colors dotted the landscape. She saw countless dead Zerg as well; mostly lower tiers such as Roaches and Zerglings. She saw one collapsed Ultralisk near the bow of a crashed ship, and realized they were taking losses as well. She had already thrown up minutes earlier from the stench of burning flesh, and was becoming accustomed to the death and destruction alarmingly quick.
"Kill The Queen of Blades." Louise shook her head violently; she couldn't do that, not to Sarah. The real question in her mind is, why would such a thought exist in her mind? Was it her duty to kill Kerrigan to keep Tristain safe?
Louise's thoughts were interrupted by a faint whistling sound passed by her head and she saw a formerly invisible Albion Mage trying to sneak up on the Princess be blown backwards doing back flips before coming to the rest on a missile turret. His chest cavity and been blown out by a C-10 rifle blast. Kerrigan and company turned towards the now echoing gunshot and saw a Ghost de-cloaking, carrying a smoking C-10 over his shoulder. Elliot wore a huge grin on his face, Kerrigan had to state the obvious, since no one but Kerrigan and Louise knew him.
"That was a downright fantastic shot Elliot!" Kerrigan jumped off the Brutalisk and fist bumped Elliot, making the rest of the troops relax visibly.
"That's high praise coming from you Sarah," Elliot replied dryly to Sarah, who faked feeling hurt.
Henrietta went over to Kerrigan, "So Lady Kerrigan, who is this man?"
Elliot immediately recognized her and kneeled, "Confederate Ghost Elliot of Tarbes Your Highness."
Kerrigan grinned at the Ghost, 'Kiss ass.'
"So, you are the man I have heard so much about. You also raised Siesta of Tarbes correct?"
Elliot seemed proud; the Princess knew his daughter's name, "Yes Your Highness. I am Siesta's father; I raised her along with her 8 siblings and my wife Bernice."
"I heard about the Lord of Tarbes' death in battle, I give you my condolences Elliot of Tarbes."
Elliot took a long breath, "Thank you Your Highness, he was a noble that any commoner could respect, even if we didn't agree on everything." Henrietta smiled to the man, whose head was still bowed in respect.
Henrietta was impressed, he not only gave Tarbes the means of protecting itself from the invasion, but had possibly saved her life and of those around her. "I only hope you can continue that tradition Lord Elliot of Tarbes, continue your good work. Dismissed."
Elliot seemed stunned; Kerrigan came over and slapped him around. "Talk about a field promotion Elliot!"
Elliot still had a stupefied expression on his face, "Let's head down to the Temple then, the rest of the force is there, and preparing to counter attack."
'Lord Elliot of TARBES?!'
Kirche was making another pass with the Valkyrie on a formation of ships and Dragons that had survived the onslaught of missiles with the H.A.L.O. rockets, tearing up the deck and the unarmored sailors on the decks. Two more frigates were left drifting, uncontrolled and useless in the fight. A chime played on their headsets, "Rocket ammunition depleted."
Montmorency turned to Kirche, "I guess our fun is all over isn't it?"
Kirche frowned visibly, "I guess so MonMon."
Kirche turned on her headset, "Siesta, this is Kirche, we're heading for home, we've used up all our weapons but the nukes."
The reply came back a moment later, "Stay on station Kirche, we may need to use the nukes on the fleet. Most of the defensive positions have fallen under enemy control, and we need air supremacy before we can make a successful counterattack."
Kirche keyed her microphone, "Understood Siesta, we'll hold off on returning yet then. We'll take a search over the countryside for enemy troops, out." "We need you to watch our next attack and see if it's effective first Kirche, Siesta out."
MonMon looked to Kirche, "Not going home yet then?"
Kirche shook her head, "We may have to use the nukes, so we are staying put until we get orders to do otherwise."
'Pray we don't have to use the things.'
Tarbes-Temple Command Center
Siesta looked at the map of the battlefield and found herself scowling. "We had so much firepower but it wasn't enough to do the job. Adjutant, launch the reserve missiles at the Fleet, set warhead fuse to automatic and launch when ready."
"Understood Commander, missile launch in 6 minutes. Audible countdown will start at T-1 minute."
Siesta picked her headset back up, "Father, I'm firing the last two Apocalypse missiles shortly, pull everyone back to the Temple ASAP."
Elliot responded a moment later, "Copy Siesta, the Royal Army will be joining us as well, out."
4 minutes later most of the troops had returned safely to the Temple and the hills surrounding it. Kerrigan was still at the front fighting with the Zerg, and incurring massive casualties on the Albion attack force. Estimates from the Erebus had enemy casualty counts anywhere from 90 to 150 thousand dead already, with only 8 ships remaining in the enemy fleet. The Lexington was actively bombarding the Zerg divisions now however, and all of their Scourges had been deployed against the other ships. Meaning the more fragile Mutalisks and Corruptors were the only ones attacking the fleet.
Karin's forces had done a massive number on the Albion Dragoons, dealing nearly 80% losses to only 15% losses on their own side, essentially giving Mutalisks and Corruptors free reign to attack the remnants of the Fleet, which looked like it was ready to withdraw at any time. Guardians had begun to fire explosive blasts at the Lexington, which were having trouble punching through the magically infused hull plating.
The 10 Brood Lords that remained were actively assisting Kerrigan in hunting down Albion troops that had disappeared or had withdrawn from the fight. Back at the Missile Silo however, the two modified ballistic missiles had been loaded into the tubes, and warmed up to fire. Siesta called out Psionically and by radio, "Missiles away! All allied forces seek cover!"
Zerg that were in the area burrowed underground, while air units broke off their attacks.
Henrietta heard a low rumble through the ground as she saw two large missiles scream away from the Temple and fly for the sky, sonic booms resonating through the atmosphere. "Your Highness! We need to leave; the missiles will be dropping in any minute!"
Henrietta nodded, "All forces pull back right now! Head for the hills!"
Cromwell looked onto the remains of his invasion fleet with horror, as it simply fell apart in front of his eyes. The entire engagement had lasted an hour and a half at this point; and the fleet was decimated beyond anything the Emperor of Albion could've imagined. Only about 10 ships remained combat capable, with another 15 severely damaged and disabled. The ships that could land did so; the crew and soldiers aboard disembarked, and joined the fight using the ship's cannons to attack structures from the ground.
How Tristain had managed to find itself such advanced arms and troops was beyond Cromwell. 'They must have found a cache of technology from another world, nothing else could explain the sheer power of their forces.' What Cromwell really wanted to know, is what the monstrosities that rose out of the ground and came out of the sky that gave Tristain the ground troops they needed to counter Albion's immense numerical advantage actually were. 'Are they demons?'
Cromwell looked farther in land and saw two rising smoke columns going for the sky, and coming towards the fleet. 'Could those be more of those magic attacks from earlier?' Cromwell didn't care to take the chance, "Commander! I want you to activate the device we brought along with us below decks on my signal!"
"Y-y-yes Your Eminence!" The Commander went to the switch and looked to Cromwell, who was watching the missiles come towards the fleet, 'I pray this works, for all of our sakes.'
"Do it! Now!" The Commander flipped the lever, and the whole ship seemed to glow.
Siesta's eyes grew at the glowing light from the Lexington as it began to envelope the ship and the surviving ships, "Dad! You need to see this!" Siesta sent the video image to Elliot's terminal that he accessed in the Temple.
Elliot seemed stunned, "What the hell am I looked at Siesta?"
Henrietta appeared behind him and watched the image, "I, I'm not sure father, it's almost like an energy shield I can use for myself but designed for a ship!"
Elliot reached out, "Kerrigan! The ship is putting up shielding!"
Kerrigan started coughing, "Wait, shielding?!" She looked out towards the fleet which was beginning to glow bluish-white and cover the ships still able to fight. The missiles screamed in and impacted the shield, triggering it but leaving it mostly intact and functional.
"Where the hell did they get shield technology?! And why the hell did they wait this long to deploy it?"
The shield immediately began reconstructing itself; Kerrigan found herself scowling, "Elliot! Get Kirche on the horn! Tell her to use the nukes! All of them!"
Elliot turned off the terminal, "Siesta, call in the nuclear strike on the Lexington, they are cleared for attack, all rockets!"
Henrietta's face paled, and Siesta scrambled back into action, nearly tripping and falling over, "Kirche! You're cleared for the nuclear rockets! Target the Lexington and fire them all off! This comes straight from Kerrigan! Everyone hit the deck and keep your eyes closed until further notice!"
Kirche heard the message come through and looked at Montmorency, who returned her gaze with horror, then nodded. Kirche spoke with sorrow, "We have no choice; we'll turn our keys to the right on my count, 3, 2, 1, TURN!" Kirche and Montmorency successfully began to two man sequence and unlocked the panel with the nuclear rockets' control box and ripped it off.
Siesta came back on the radio, "Once you launch the rockets; turn around as fast as you can and hit the throttles to full afterburner, don't turn back for anything. If the shockwave gets you, get clear of the battlefield and bail out over open ground. Good luck Kirche, Good luck Montmorency, Founder be with you."
The radio connection went dead, and even Kirche found herself shaking; either in fear or anticipation, she didn't really know.
Montmorency looked to Kirche, and was about to say sorry for everything she had ever done or said to her, when she found Kirche giving her the same look. Both smiled and nodded, no more words would be necessary for what was to come.
"Montmorency, I have the target, arm rockets."
Montmorency gulped, "Rockets armed and locked on, fire when ready."
Kirche closed her eyes for a moment, 'Founder forgive me,' and pulled the trigger.
Kerrigan saw the Valkyrie's nuclear payload fly straight and true for the Lexington, and she burrowed the rest of the Brood that was with her with a single command. She closed her eyes, and awaited the blast.
Henrietta had been tackled and covered by the Musketeers, while the kids and elderly had been moved into the bunkers which closed their gun ports; the troops that were in the field dove to the ground, and closed their helmet visors.
Karin and her airborne troop had pulled back behind the mountain and were safe from the blast though they still hit the dirt and covered their eyes anyways. 'No sense in being caught unprepared again by Kerrigan's antics.' She found herself laughing about the first time they had met, and saw the world go white.
T-15 Seconds till Impact
Cromwell saw the odd looking ship fire 6 small looking projectiles towards the fleet, specifically the Lexington and turned and ran at incredible speed. 'It doesn't want to be here when those things hit which means we probably don't want to be either!' Cromwell dove into the belly of the ship and held his helmet onto his head, as the world went white, and began to roar.
A massive shockwave lashed across the entire valley, with a fireball visible from space. It crushed houses into small piles of refuse, and tore the village's center tower from its foundations. Any troops directly in the open were crushed by overpowering shockwave. Everything even remotely ignitable went up in flames as the immense heat and radiation pulse blasted through the valley. People, crops, houses, and trees weren't immune from the invisible heat wave that tore across the countryside.
Elliot had gotten back up and sounded the all-clear over the radio and went outside to see the damage the warheads had done on not just the fleet, but the surrounding valley he called home. He closed his eyes in sorrow, seeing most of the ground near the fleet blackened from the extreme heat of the nuclear detonation. He could feel said heat from the Temple itself, it was actually enough to hurt him in his Ghost suit. 'It will scald anyone unprotected who comes out here,' Elliot muttered silently, as he looked into the distance and saw the mushroom cloud rising.
His mouth dropped open when he saw that the Lexington still remained intact, it's shielding had held the blast back, but had overloaded, blasting holes in the hull. The rest of the ship was on fire, but still holding strong, despite receiving multiple direct nuclear hits that would demolish most Terran structures with little trouble. Elliot suddenly heard a groan in his head, 'Kerrigan! You alright?'
'I can't hear a fucking thing Elliot. Damn overpressure surprised me.'
The transmission paused, 'Elliot, we did nuke the Lexington didn't we?'
'Um, yes we did Sarah.'
'Then why the fuck is the ship still flying over my head?'
Elliot paused for a moment, 'Energy shields must've held long enough to hold back the blast, the other ships weren't so lucky though, just small pieces of their hull left.' Kerrigan didn't mention the thousands of carbonized skeletons littering the field, all still smoldering.
Elliot heard Kerrigan groan in his head again, 'Well that's it then, we are out of firepower, and they are out of ships. Hard to imagine we would end up in a stalemate, it's just like losing. I hate losing Elliot.'
He facepalmed, 'Yes Sarah I know.'
'Get Louise to meet me half way to the blast zone, we have one last chance to make this work out. Out.'
Elliot closed the connection and went up to Louise, who was still hugging the ground in fright, "Louise, Kerrigan needs you to meet her half way to the blast zone, and she needs to see you."
Louise seemed stunned, Sarah needing her?
Louise sheepishly agreed, "I'll have one of the Marines take you by Vulture, it's not safe for the horses to be that close to the blast zone."
Louise nodded and went with a Marine who took her out into the now ruined valley, and sped towards ground zero.
Kerrigan was already on her way to the half way point near a small stream on her Brutalisk, "Delflinger, are you sure that using my familiar runes will unlock her powers?"
"For the fifth time Sarah, yes! One doesn't just cast void magic blindly; the power has to be awakened first."
Kerrigan couldn't help but scowl, "I'll need you to walk me through it Delf. This is our last chance to destroy the flagship and call this a total victory. I want Cromwell's head, and if he isn't ash or vapor already, I intend on collecting."
Ruins of Tarbes-Valley
The Marine and Louise both rode on the Vulture down the now burned away road towards the stream, where Louise saw a huge Zerg creature that she had been riding on earlier resting on the ground. Sarah was off the Brutalisk, waving towards the incoming Vulture. "Last stop young lady; get those invaders for us alright?" Louise nodded to the warm smile of the Marine as he took off back towards the Temple.
"Louise, how are you feeling?"
"Not all that well, it's hot and I'm looking forward to a long bath after this is over."
Kerrigan smiled, "It won't be long, here climb on up with me, we're heading to the blast site where the Lexington is." Louise managed a smile, and held onto Kerrigan as the pair levitated onto the Brutalisk, which made its way towards the Lexington. Delflinger began to speak, "Louise! It's time for you to awaken! You are a user of Void!"
Kerrigan's runes began to glow, and Louise began to see runes floating in the air around her, almost hypnotizing her with their movement. Kerrigan looked to Louise, whose pupils disappeared, earning a momentary freak out from her when she stood on Kerrigan's lap, her runes still glowing brightly, even brighter than ever before. She began to chant a long, complex runic incantation and both found themselves under attack as she was chanting. "Protect her Sarah! That's what a Gandalfr is supposed to do!"
Kerrigan began firing her AGR-14 one handed, landing double taps into each Albion soldier that attacked them while holding Louise in her other arm. Louise finished chanting, Kerrigan looked into her eyes, and saw her point her wand towards the Lexington, when the world went white again.
Everyone who was at the Temple noticed the world turn white again, some hitting the floor and covering their head, in anticipation of the coming shockwave. After several moments of nothing however they all began to stand, and looked out towards Tarbes to see what had happened, only to see the Lexington falling to the ground, shattering on impact. Cheers began to rise throughout the Temple and across the valley as armored troops began to rush out towards the falling ship to secure prisoners and enemy officers.
Henrietta was stunned, "We won! Tristain is victorious!" The Royal Army joined in the cheering full bore; many found themselves dancing around actively embracing one another. Cries of 'Founder Be Praised!' echoed through the encampment. Several of the local Marines joined in, careful not to crush any of their new comrades in arms in any embrace they may give. Louise and Kerrigan returned to a hero's welcome at the Temple.
Everyone had assembled near the mouth of the entrance and applauded wildly as the two walked in, covered in grime and blood. Kerrigan and Louise both noticed the Princess among them, as well as her Musketeers. The people who lived in Tarbes were clearly the most ecstatic however; running up to both of them, hoisting them over their shoulders and carrying both into the Temple proper like a pair of rock stars crowd surfing. Many of the Royal Army joined them as well, kids were cheering with their parents from the bunkers, and all had huge smiles on their faces.
Kerrigan found the sight both clichéd, and rather welcome at the same time. In all her days as a Ghost she never once received public attention or recognition for her sins. In a way, she was glad she never had; Kerrigan committed countless crimes and deeds that no one should ever be known for. Now however, she was being recognized not as a criminal, or as a monster. She was being held up as a hero, a symbol of ideals and redemption. Kerrigan gave a small smile, 'How time changes things.'
The applause continued until Henrietta approached Kerrigan in her heavy armor, with a noticeable smile on her face. Several Zerg now inhabited the Temple along with the soldiers and civilians, all keen on finding out what Henrietta's judgment would entail. What shocked them the most was when Queen Marianne came from the crowd, removing a disguise and approached Kerrigan. The entire crowd gasped and kneeled, Henrietta was stunned, and 'How the hell did Mother get here so fast?'
Kerrigan found her smiling, she was honestly surprised to see the Queen this close to the action, especially when her own advisors said victory was unlikely. The Umbra knew this was a big moment, even it had been caught unaware of the Queen's presence. It immediately began to record and broadcast what it saw to the entire Swarm, which stopped everything it was doing and began to watch with great interest.
"Lady Sarah Kerrigan of Char, step forward," Kerrigan obeyed and took two steps towards Queen Marianne and kneeled respectfully; while maintaining eye contact, showing respect but also showing strength and implying she was not just an underling to her Majesty. Marianne noticed this, but did not find her flinching or becoming concerned with Kerrigan's actions. Instead, she gave Kerrigan a genuine smile, which had a dramatic effect on the audience. All in attendance began to silently whisper until Marianne drew a hand up in a 'Stop' motion beside her, silencing all instantly.
"Lady Kerrigan of Char, today you and the people of Tarbes have served the Crown in a way that none of your detractors could have imagined. You have not only saved the Village of Tarbes, but you may have indeed have saved all of Tristain with the effort you have made today."
Cheers erupted from the armored troops, all appearing immensely proud of themselves; the Queen cleared her throat then continued, "Lady Kerrigan, you made a deal with my daughter, Crown Princess Henrietta de Tristain regarding your status here in Tristain. As many of those present know, she will become Queen soon, and will lead this country to war against Albion. Lady Valliere, approach!"
Louise found herself approaching the monarch, trembling with fear and anticipation of what the Queen had to say to her, Lady Valliere, has your familiar, Lady Sarah Kerrigan de Char, proven herself worthy to be called a familiar of the Valliere family?" Louise bowed her head, "Yes Your Majesty, she has proven herself most worthy."
"Lady Valliere, has your familiar Lady Kerrigan de Char proven that she is worthy to be the Shield of Tristain?"
Gasps went through the entire Temple glen, Kerrigan knew the implications of the title the Queen was planning on giving her. It would effectively make her the Royal Champion of Tristain, a representative of the Queen and the Royal Family in duels and matters of honor. She would also act as Henrietta's ceremonial bodyguard at her Coronation, at public events, and during the signature of important foreign policy decisions such as a treaty signing.
Louise looked at Kerrigan, who sent her a simple message, 'The call is yours to make Louise. Not mine.'
Louise took a long breath, "Yes Your Majesty, she has proven herself most worthy of the title of Shield of Tristain."
Kerrigan closed her eyes and nodded, 'My future has been set, now I must reach for it.'
"Lady Kerrigan, do you swear to follow Crown Princess Henrietta de Tristain in war time as a field commander? "
'For the swarm!'
"I swear loyalty Your Majesty."
"Do you swear to follow Crown Princess Henrietta de Tristain in peace time as a friend and confidant for the duration of your stay as well as that of the Zerg Swarm's in Tristain?"
"I swear loyalty Your Majesty"
" Finally, do you Lady Sarah Kerrigan de Char swear to be the Shield of Tristain for the Royal Family of Tristain? To take on all responsibilities, including defending the Royal Family, accepting challenges and duels, and leading the nation's military when the Queen is unable to do or is rendered incapacitated?"
Kerrigan paused at this last part, such a promise would effectively give her the ability to lead the entire country as Regent if Henrietta were disposed or assassinated, provided her mother didn't take over again in such a case. 'It would only make me a bigger target, but the extra influence wouldn't hurt my cause or the Swarm.'
"I swear loyalty Your Majesty."
"Congratulations Lady Kerrigan de Char, welcome home." The entire Temple crowd decided to go ballistic at that one moment. Kerrigan smiled, 'Now the hard part begins.'
In total, the Albion military suffered a near complete military loss, losing all 70 of their ships; which included the Lexington, 18 carriers, 30 heavy cruisers, 9 supply ships, and 12 frigates. They suffered 185,000 casualties, with 10,000 missing and presumed dead, with just 15,000 taken prisoner. The rounding up of the prisoners took only an hour, all were so demoralized by their massive defeat, that most simply lost the will to live, and wandered aimlessly across the barren, scorched battlefield, seeking out their own death at the hands of the enemy.
In just 4 hours, Emperor Cromwell had been captured by the newly nicknamed Tarbeisan Marines and brought to a makeshift prisoner of war camp for processing. "Name?" "Cromwell, Oliver." Rank? "Emperor of Albion." The staff sergeant behind the desk registered the prisoners raised an eyebrow, "Escort this Cromwell to the Command Center, quietly. Have his identity confirmed and if he indeed is who he says he is, let the Queen judge him." Two Mage Knights took the Emperor in shackles to a waiting prisoner carriage, and drove him to meet his fate.
Meanwhile, Kerrigan had gone to wreckage of the Lexington and was disturbed to find an intact Protoss shield generator within the aft cargo hold. The only reason it had ceased functioning was that the multiple nuclear hits had managed to shatter the Psionic circuitry to the point of the device malfunctioning, and shutting itself down to prevent a catastrophic system failure. Kerrigan didn't want to think about the fact that it would've detonated the shield generator in a blast that would likely measure around 150 kilotons. All of the combatants on the battlefield were tremendously lucky that said explosion hadn't occurred. All 6 rockets yield only reach 18 kilotons respectively. Even the Temple would've been destroyed in the blast.
'We dodged a bullet this time, but where did it come from?'
Two Days Later
Lady Sarah Kerrigan de Char, Shield of Tristain stood at attention as medals and citations were passed out to the heroes of Tarbes. While few had died from Tristain in the battle of Tarbes, the damage done to the surrounding countryside was immense, and would require significant repair and some decontamination until it was returned to normal once more. Estimates from both the Earth Mages and the Erebus put the timeframe within a week to 6 months until it was fully restored.
(Back to the ceremony however)
"Lady Sarah Kerrigan de Char, I Crown Princess Henrietta de Tristain hereby award you the Queen's Cross for gallantry in action, and actions above and beyond the call of duty both on the battlefield and in the pursuit of diplomacy here on Halkeginia." Kerrigan stepped forward and had the Cross pinned to her chest, the ornate medal almost glowing from the light reflecting off of it.
Montmorency, Kirche, Louise, and Guiche earned the Queen's Cross as well for their actions in the battle at Tarbes just days earlier. In addition, all four earned a Chevalier commission in Tristain for their actions. Karin also had been issued one as well for her leadership over the mixed mount squadron she led onto the field, while the others had just earned their first Queen's Cross, this was Karin's third.
Elliot was formerly issued the title of Count of Tarbes, and had his formal name changed to Count Elliot de Tarbes, along with the rest of his family; making them overnight nobles for all they had sacrificed for their home village. Not that the locals were unhappy about that, one of their own who had been thought to be a madman was the village's own savior. To say they were elated was putting it mildly. Elliot returned home to Tarbes with his family and helped with the rebuilding effort that would be necessary. He also supervised Terran building construction across the province; as well as rebuilding damaged or destroyed defenses they had lost in the battle.
Siesta, while now technically a noble wanted to continue her work at the Academy as a maid. The other staff was surprised at this development, given that most nobles were traditionally snobby and never did their own work, let alone others for them. Siesta de Tarbes was a powerful young woman, with fantastic potential, the teaching staff as well as Kerrigan wanted to keep tabs on her for as long as possible. Siesta's power was reaching a plateau however, leveling off well above her father and equal to Kerrigan's own Psi index as a Ghost.
For Kerrigan life would go on, the Swarm had taken some losses in the battle for Tarbes, and she had begun analyzing the battle for potential weaknesses she and the Swarm may have, as well as what may have made the Albion military more vulnerable. War was now fresh in everyone's mind, and Kerrigan was not about to let their massive victory fall into disuse. She would soon begin a campaign of sabotage and misdirection across Albion, damaging ships and their ports; destroying arms factories, and killing high ranking military officers and political officials.
After the ceremony had ended, the group of heroes went their separate ways, with Elliot returning to Tarbes and the rest of the girls heading back to the Academy to continue their studies. All of them took the Valkyrie, which had been repainted in the colors of Tarbes, back to the Academy, to await their next task.
Tristain Academy of Magic
Kerrigan found herself looking out towards the stars, deep in thought about the future for her. She didn't know how long she would live compared to the rest of the population, 'I may end up living for centuries and becoming Tristain's caretaker for the unforeseeable future. That still doesn't address the Zerg back in the Koprulu Sector however, I need to either take control of them from here, or destroy them so they aren't used or manipulated by Mensgk, or God Forbid another fleet from the UED that managed to claw its way to the Sector once more.'
Kerrigan began to hear a throaty chuckle begin to emerge from the side of her consciousness, and immediately found herself in a combat stance. That chuckle began to grow in power, and in evil presence. "Show yourself!"
"You know what I am Queen of Blades."
Kerrigan's eyes narrowed, "Quaint. It seems you have me at a disadvantage."
"I am the reason the Overmind created you Queen of Blades. A Hybrid being, able to resist being . . . controlled."
Kerrigan began to become uncomfortable and tense, the voice knew far more than anyone else on Halkeginia should know about her and the Zerg. Especially the knowledge of the Overmind. She turned towards a shadow and saw two blood red eyes emerging from the darkness. 'Only one force could know this much . . .' Kerrigan's eyes widened at the realization.
"You. . . You were the one who controlled the Overmind!"
"Correct Kerrigan, I have been trying to remove you from my side for awhile now, with little success. I even tried to use little Louise to do it for me."
"Leave the kid out of this asshole! This is between you and me!"
"Careful Queen of Blades, I have no qualms about destroying the entire world you are on just so I can control of the Zerg back near your home space."
Kerrigan grimaced, 'Everyone here is a pawn to this thing, and even I am being manipulated.'
"Choose your fate Kerrigan, either destroy yourself, or watch as your new home burns."
Kerrigan awoke in a cold sweat, gasping for breath, terrified. 'I now understand why I was given a second life, one to live as I saw fit. The Overmind was losing, and didn't want his flock to be the pawns in someone's game.'
Sarah found tears coming from her eyes, 'Mensgk was just one terror I had to face, but he pales in comparison to the monstrosity this hybrid was. I've been blinded by hate once again.'
'I need to find Jim'
Kerrigan needed some air and a walk to clear her head; she changed out of her soaking wet violet nightgown; into morphed into her combat wear and stepped out into the night.
Raynor sat on the bridge of the Hyperion, wondering how to give the news of Kerrigan's fate to Horner, and the rest of his crew. They would most likely be heading into the Void Sector, a region of the galaxy riddled with black holes, singularities, and binary star clusters.
He would only take a volunteer crew most likely, only those he could trust, and who were willing to continue to seek Kerrigan out. Many from the Dominion might end up joining him simply as a way of giving the finger to Mensgk for his poor handling of the Second Great War. It was too early to hope for anything at this point, Raynor decided to pass on thinking about that and write an email to Kerrigan's old email account she had as a member of the Sons.
Tristain Magic Academy
Kerrigan saw the scheduled Lunar Eclipse begin to take place; she and many of the students came out to admire the view when suddenly she heard a loud beep begin to play in the Valkyrie. Kerrigan knew that the sound mean that the ship had established contact to a communication buoy.
'It couldn't be. . .'
A/N: There it is folks! Season 1 has been concluded with an interesting cliffhanger. What will it mean? Have I pissed off all the fan boys yet? This and more, next season on Hail to the Zero Queen!
Thanks for making this such a huge success guys! See ya next time =)
A special bonus episode is incoming sometime before the Season 2 premiere, so stay tuned!