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By Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie2

Overlords, are we. The Kerrigan, heard we. The words to the We,

carried we.

Gone, is the Kerrigan. Mad, went the We. Mad, went the we born

after the Becoming.

Remembered, some of we.

The ancient homeworlds, remembered we. The starving young,

remembered we.

The fear, remembered we.

To the We, called we. Saved us, the We. Became, we.

Long-lived, are we. The language of color and mind, remembered

we. Count, could we.

Wept, we. Killed by the not-We, were many. But:

Not kil ed, were One and One. This one and mate from centuries


While our minds slept, served we. Together when our memories

returned, were we.

On the horizon line, wait One and One.

On one side, the calm embrace of the We. Return, wil the

Kerrigan. This, know we.

On the other side, madness.


Cling to the horizon line, will we. Dead, are our kin. Dead, are our young.

The last of our kind, are we.

One and One.

* * *

Ten minutes before his death, Razek gazed out over the new

home of his Scantid Pirates

with a sense of supreme accomplishment.

He stood on the observation deck of the former Tarsonis Ghost

Academy, a reclining giant

of black reflective marble on the outside and neosteel on the

inside. The desiccated grounds of

the city square framed the academy and the shattered monument

up front. Only two ragged

stone feet on a pedestal remained of the tribute to some hero of

the now-dead Confederacy.

Five years ago, the zerg had come to Tarsonis, the Confederacy's

capital world. Bil ions had

died in a handful of days, by zerg or protoss. Now Tarsonis was a

ghost world, a channel for

winds screaming in cold stone hallways and howling through the

rusty teeth of the shattered

skyscrapers surrounding the academy. Tarsonis City was a

spooky place, no doubt, but since the

Dominion salvage crews had left, nothing was out there.

Razek grinned, rubbing the thick network of scars at his throat.

Except his pirates, of course.

And a few Dominion patrols. Too few, some might say.

Granted, the academy needed some work. They only had access

to A level and above, and

the lifts went all the way down to Z. Razek lit a cigarette and

hissed smoke between his teeth.

Who knew what spicy, expensive secrets the Confederacy had

hidden down there...?

He blinked. A white speck carved a brief line across the gray

Tarsonis sky, a line that curved,

then came back, straight at the—

He fumbled for his communicator just as the Dominion medivac,

engines flaring, came to a

rearing halt above the dusty grounds of the academy. Eight

marines in powered CMC armor

plunged from the front loading ramp, striking dirt with thundering

mechanical crunches.

Sera and Bourmus, standing guard at the entrance tunnel

beneath the ruined statue, stood

gaping. Only Sera managed a grab at her sidearm before the four

marines closest dropped to 3

their plated knees, and all eight opened fire with their gauss rifles simultaneously. C-14 fire

chopped gaping chunks out of the two guards, dropping them in a

tangled heap.

Only twenty seconds had passed since Razek first saw the

dropship. The unused

communicator trembled in his hand.

One of the marines, his armor scarred and battered, broke ranks

and stamped toward the

tunnel. Shrieking, Miles came racing out of the tunnel with that

damn knife of his. The marine

grabbed his wrist, crushed it, then shattered his skull with a

casual backhand, scattering the

idiot's brains into the dust.

"Razek!" screamed Lom over the communicator. "Marines!

They're killing everyone!"

Not yet, thought Razek, heading for the lift and drawing his gauss

needler. But I'm sure

we're gonna give them a chance.

* * *

Four Dominion marines advanced down the dark hallway two by

two, their bulk blocking

the sunlight spilling through the front gate. Chest illuminators

flared, outlining the lift doors

ahead in overlapping circles of light.

A heavily scarred pirate lunged into the lights like an

inexperienced stripper and fired a

quick burst of needles. A lucky round clipped the front left

marine's leg servos. He dropped to a

knee, already raising his C-14, and fired back. The Impaler spikes

stitched a diagonal line across

the pirate's chest, and he fell, spilling apart.

The rest of the pirates came then, whether through that loss of

nerve that somany fatally

mistake for courage, or through sheer hopelessness. A marine in

the rear hurled a single

grenade through the heroic last charge of the pirates into the

doors of the lift beyond.

Flames and jagged fragments of steel scythed back along the

hallway. The pirates didn't

disintegrate. Not exactly.

Dripping with blood and terrible things, Sergeant Bayton raised

his helmet's pitted visor.

"Private Berry?" he said politely, flicking pieces of pirate from his suit's mechanical hands.

"That was a very brave and unique tactic you just used."

"Thanks, Sarge!"

"Certainly. Because most marines would call using shredder

grenades in close quarters

goddamn stupid!"

Sergeant Bayton reached out with slow malice and snatched the

C-14 from Private Berry's


"You don't get this back until you can fire it like a big boy, Private."


"No offense, Sarge," said Private Kell Daws, stil kneeling from the lucky shot at his leg, "but

Berry has the self-preservation of a moth in a campfire factory,

and those grenades are just

beautiful when they go off. It ain't his fault."

"I'm glad you think so, because you've just volunteered to help him scrub the people off this


"Aw, Sarge!"

The fourth marine raised a mechanical hand. Something


Private Caston Gage raised his visor just in time before he lunged

against the wall and threw


Berry raised a hand.

"Do I have to clean that up too, Sarge?"

"Attention, all squad members," Kell said with mock gravity into his helmet communicator.

"Priority transmission. Private Gage has expelled creep, and may be infested."

Sergeant Bayton sighed and rolled his eyes at the merciless



* * *

Once the grounds were cleared, the marines ditched their armor

and began the long

process of readying the upper levels of the academy for

habitation. Ten hours passed. The

entrance corridor was cleaned to the sergeant's somewhat unfair

standards. The long mess hall

on the second floor received some further attention. And Caston

stil hadn't lived his moment

of weakness down.

"It ate a hole in the neosteel," Kell swore. "It was dis-gusting. I had to cover my eyes with a


"Because you're an expert on anatomy, hayseed," said Private Vallen Wolfe from the

kitchen. He was the only one anybody trusted to cook.

"I had to cover my eyes with what was probably a pancreas," Kell said, showing Vallen his

favorite finger.

The marine recruits (lovingly nicknamed "Meatbag Squadron" by Sergeant Bayton) had

been sent down to the

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