PonyCraft-Pegasi of Liberty
The sun was just starting to peak over the cliffs and hills, a slight haze in the air. Jim Raynor watched the timer tick down from 15 seconds on the Hyperion’s ETA when the Zerg suddenly amassed outside the base in the largest attack force so far. They had burrowed and waited for the right moment to strike, and that time was now. The hundreds of small Zerglings rushed forward followed by the taller Hydralisks, the intent to burn the base down was clearly visible in all their beady eyes. Raynor watched knowing full well that his base couldn’t survive the attack, but he had a trick up his sleeve… 00:00. As if on cue, the Hyperion battlecruiser entered the lower atmosphere and began blasting the air and ground forces before they could react. Raynor motioned to Tychus Findlay who was about to join the slaughter. Disheartened, he and Jim took a small transport up to the floating fortress.
Looking around the grand interior of the Hyperion’s bridge, Tychus exclaimed, “Damn, Jimmy. You’ve been holdin’ out on me.”
Ignoring the comment, Raynor directed his attention to the captain who was paying attention to a view screen. “Cuttin’ it pretty close, Matt.”
He got up and faced Jim, “Never left you hanging before, sir.”
“Fair enough, just get us the hell outta here”
“All batteries, concentrate forward firepower” Matt announced toward the crew, “Spin up drives 2 and 6. All hands brace for warp jump on my mark.” Matt looked down and watched the second hand on his watch tick towards the minute mark, 5…4…3…
Suddenly explosions ripped through the Hyperion, alarms sounded and everyone was thrown around violently, the bridge was not hit, however.
“What the hell was that?” Jim questioned the recuperating captain who shrugged in response.
An engineer’s voice was heard through an intercom, “Sirs, the drives are still spinnin’ up fer warp but have been critically damaged, no commands are gettin’ through. We’re about to make an unstable jump!”
Matt’s expression changed from shocked to horrified with the news. With the warp drives critically damaged any number of things could happen. The worst case scenario was the ship would implode when the drives reached the emergency fail-safe launch limit, and the best case scenario was that nothing would happen, the ship would crash and be overrun by the Zerg. Either way, they were dead.
Tychus could only say “Aww hell…” before the fail-safe launch activated; sending ship into an unstable jump.
The ship jumped straight back into space; seemingly no time had passed between entering and exiting. Matt, who had been thrown against the back wall, got up and surveyed the bridge. The red emergency lights were flickering on and off, the main power must be out. Raynor was holding onto the command chair trying not to fall over, Tychus gripping a railing, and the rest of the crew lay about on the floor or on monitors.
“What the hell just happened, Matt?” Jim spoke, trying to stand up straight.
“I… I don’t know.” He said as he stumbled over to a control panel, pressing a flashing button. The bridge window blast shields lifted and light shone through, but the results froze anyone who saw it… the Hyperion battlecruiser was in low orbit around a healthy green planet, quickly descending. The part that shocked the crew was that the entire port-side wing of their ship - including the engine - was in front of them surrounded by lots of debris.
The starboard-side door opened to a short, bulky man with a mechanical arm - obviously the chief engineer. He spoke with a New York accent full of rage. “What the hell is happening. One minute I’m told to hold on, the next everything in the ar-“His jaw literally dropped when he saw the floating piece outside. “How the hell am I to fix that, Hotshot?” He muttered, referring to Jim.
“Jimmy, please tell me this ain’t happening.” Tychus said in a voice full of fear, something very rare from the man.
“This is real al’right…” He paused, starring at the planet. In a sudden panic he realized exactly what was about to happen. He grabbed the intercom and said, “Everybody hold onto something! This’ll be a rough landing!”
With that, flames started to form around the windows, one of them started to crack from being weakened earlier.
“Matt, shut the shields again and everybody else just hold on tight, this’ll be one helluva ride.”
The ship started to shake, a whistle was starting to become audible, and the emergency lights didn’t flicker back on. A few thuds were heard towards the rear end of the ship, followed by a small explosion. Nobody spoke and nobody moved for they all knew this could only end one way.
It was a sunny morning in Ponyville. The pegasi had just finished clearing away the last bits of clouds. Stallions and mares wandered throughout the streets of the village when it was spotted and chaos broke loose.
Twilight Sparkle was spending her morning studying up on meteors and meteorites again when she heard the noise. Intrigued, she up and walked to the window. When she looked out, everypony was pointing up to the sky and gasping, and the Pegasus ponies were flying away from the area of interest. “Away from what?” she thought, but she found out right then and there.
A huge black and grey… thing was flying towards Ponyville, though obviously not low enough to actually hit the village. The object was surrounded by flames that were only growing longer, but behind that object was an even bigger object consumed by flame in a similar fashion.
“What’s with all the commotion, Twilight?” A purple baby dragon questioned, startling her.
“Don’t sneak up on me, Spike!” Twilight said in an annoyed tone. “Something big is about to fly right over Ponyville.”
“Really? Like a dragon or meteor? “Spike asked, confused.
“No, Spike. Something much, much, much bigger! THAT! “She pushed Spike into a position where he could see the objects in flames.
“WHOA! So, what’s your plan, Twilight!?” When there was no response, the dragon turned to face Twilight who wasn’t there. “Twilight?”
“Telescope, now!” Her voice came from up the stairs.
Spike rushed up the staircase to where Twilight kept her telescope. Sure enough, she was there trying to focus the lens on the flaming objects that were growing in size rather quickly.
“What could it be? No meteor could be so large, nor would it survive the descent from orbit into our atmosphere. AHA!” She jumped up and down, keeping her eye to the lens that was now perfectly focused on the objects. ”They look to be metallic; the material is bouncing the flames off it. It’s almost like the things were designed to deal with the heat that they are experiencing. But no pony has ever built something close to that scale, let alone made it into space. This is s- WHAAA!” She jumped for a rose-colored eye was looking right back at her.
The cyan pegasus fell back into the air laughing.
“Not funny, Rainbow.” She growled upon realizing the prank.
“Are you kidding? That was hilarious. You were being all sciency and stuff, then I looked right back at you and you freaked! Priceless!” Spike began to giggle as well.
“I’m trying to observe the objects flying towards us, the ones that are causing the chaos outside. They look like they are metallic and they seem as though they fit together somehow.” She directed her attention back to the telescope.
“Ha, I’ve already seen it up close. That thing is huuuge, almost as fast as me, too. I was kinda hoping you would know what it is, though.”
Twilight looked aggravated. “If you were listening, that is exactly what I’m trying to do.”
“Oh. Yeah… well…” Rainbow searched for some form of come back.
The front door suddenly slammed open downstairs, the sounds of hooves made it clear that it was a couple ponies.
Applejack appeared at the top of the stairs. “Ya’ll see that… thing up there? What in the hay is it?” the pony asked, hoping for an answer.
“Hello Applejack. That question is exactly what we are trying to figure out” Twilight greeted the pony. “It looks hoof-made, but nopony has made something close to the size of this thing?”
“But then somepony had to have made it.” Applejack said quizzically.
“Well, yes but… well… um…” Twilight tried to figure out how to explain it, but quickly noticed another pony ascending the staircase. “Hello, Fluttershy!” She said trying to distract the others.
“Oh, hi Twilight. Did you see the object in the sky?” She quietly responded not expecting the greeting.
“Yes and its 2 objects, actually. The good news is that whatever it is, it will fly right over Ponyville and probably land in the Everfree Forest”
At the mention of the forest, Fluttershy perked up. “Oh no! All those animals! I have to save them!” She exclaimed in her alerted, but quiet, voice as she attempted to fly off only to be stopped by Applejack holding her back by her tail.
“Whoa-there, Fluttershy. If what Twilight says is true, then all them animals will pro’bly be runnin’ too.”
Fluttershy landed and balled up, not buying the excuse. Meanwhile, Ponyville was covered in black as the monstrosity passed by above them. It seemed forever, but was really 12 seconds. The moment following, a strong gust of wind tore through the town: ponies were thrown around, houses shook and windows broke. The bell on the town hall started to ring viciously. The ship slammed into the ground, right through the Everfree Forest creating what felt like an earthquake. Fluttershy whimpered.
Spike burped up a letter from the Princess. Twilight grabbed it before anypony else took notice, she silently read over the letter.
“The Princess wants us to go investigate the objects, girls! She says that she’s busy with Luna with some other sudden event. What do you think?”
Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other to see what they were going to say. Their faces went serious and they responded at the same time: “Let’s do it!”
Fluttershy did not want to go, she was still shaking from the impact, but she didn’t want to leave her friends either. She sheepishly nodded in agreement.
“Great! Let’s go find the others.”
After gathering the other ponies – an easy task seeing as there was nothing in particular going on - they trotted off in the direction the things crashed. Pinkie Pie started to sing a song while the others began to moan.
“Everybody ok?” Matt coughed as he got to his ‘feet’. There were a few moans in response.
The Hyperion’s emergency lights were back on lighting its battered bridge in a red glow. It wasn’t a good scene: there were a few small fires below some consoles; one of the window shields was blast inward with no sign of a window left, while the other shields looked dented and cracked; the door the chief engineer entered through earlier was ajar; and the sounds of moving and scratching metal could be heard throughout the ship as it settled into its new position.
He looked around at the crew, all of them on the ground. Matt nearly fell back down when he saw them, they were different. The crew on the bridge looked like small horses! He looked at Tychus, the blue marine armor fitting his new shape just as well as it had the old one. He had a picture of a collection of bullets on his rear.
“Jimmy… ya’ sure know how to give the Zerg the slip. But next time I’d take my chances with fightin’ them.” Tychus said, trying to roll over but not get up. He looked like he was on the verge of vomiting.
Matt was dumbfounded. He figured the crew hadn’t realized what they were yet, but he couldn’t get the courage to say anything.
“I’ll hold you to that next time, Tychus. What’s the situation, Matt?” Raynor said. He got up with the help of his front hooves, but he quickly realized everything seemed higher up then he remembered. He looked down to his legs only to see the short legs of a pony. ”AAHHH!” He yelled in panic, trying to brush them off as if they were gloves.
Everypony turned to face him, but were shocked to be looking at a beige pony with black hair wearing a black vest that was definitely Jim Raynor’s. It even carried the bullets for his rifle. They also noticed the Raynor’s Raiders symbol in the same place where Tychus had his icon.
Shock and horror ran throughout the bridge as everypony found out what they actually were.
“Ok… ok... Matt, what’s the situation…” Jim Raynor repeated, still confused by his new body.
“What do you want to hear, sir? The fact that the Hyperion crashed on an unknown planet and probably lies in more than 2 pieces, or the fact that everypony is now… well… a small horse.”
“Ok, I see where you’re going. Crew!” He said while he turned to face them, “I know how horrified we all may be that we are… to quote the captain, ‘small horses’, but we have to get out of this mess. We survived a Zerg onslaught and an unstable jump through hell and back before surviving a seemingly lethal crash onto this here planet. If we weren’t supposed to be here, we wouldn’t. Now if you want to get hung over this horse business go ahead, but rest assured this ship won’t be flying anytime soon.”
The crew started to talk amongst themselves. One by one, they all accepted their fate and turned to face their commander, but he was headed towards the rear door. The door opened letting through bright sunlight, giving Raynor a holy glow. He turned around to report the huge hole in the hallway but was distracted when everypony gasped.
“Umm, sir… There’s a horn on your head.” Matt said with a hint of shock in his voice.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me.” Raynor went over to the starmap to see his reflection seeing as it was flickering on and off. He expected some form of debris to be jutting out of his forehead, but he was shocked. “The good news is that I have an actual horn on my head…” There was debate throughout the crew on the bad news if that was good news. “The bad news is that even the ship doesn’t know where we are.”
Matt glided towards the starmap to see a blank planet information screen. Complete silence ensued as Matt realized exactly what just happened- he used wings to glide! He turned his head back to see 2 wings neatly folded at his navy blue colored side along with a silhouette of a cardinal on a branch in gold for an ‘icon’. His hair was a slick gold color. He was horrified.
The chief engineer was about to take the opportunity to make a joke, but when he got up he heard a metallic clank. His front-left hoof was in a metal cast with a claw at the end, and he quickly found out that he, too, had a horn.
This happened for the next few minutes; people finding out exactly what they were.
“Enough with the chit-chat. Ya’ll got stuff to do. Swann,” Raynor looked at the chief engineer, “Check the armory for damage, then I want details on the ships state. Matt, see to it that our crew restores full power. Tychus, you and I got some exploration to do.” Jim walked over to the buff blue-armored pony lying on the ground and picked him up easily.
“Awe, Jimmy. No time for a drink or two?” Tychus said sarcastically, looking less nauseous.
“And here I was thinkin’ you wanted to do somethin’ exciting around here.” With that, Jim hit the back of Tychus’ helmet before walking out into the rear hallway.
Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay wandered the area off the port-side. The ship’s wing had been cut clean off and thrown farther ahead. Jim had put on his black marine armor and grabbed his commando rifle for neither knew what would lie outside.
The field was bustling. Pony-marines patrolled the area while the crew trotted about doing this and that. The 2, however, took interest in the ships missing wing.
“My guess is that the jump caused this, sir.” A repair pony said upon finding them examining the damage. “When we jumped, drive 2 – one of the port-side drives - must have caused a detached warp jump.”
“A detached warp jump? The whole port-side of the ship was in its own jump?” Raynor questioned.
“Yes-sir. Could have taken some the surroundin’ debris with it. As for repairin’ it, we‘ll just need a few cranes to prop it right back inta-place and seal it.” The pony started to write something down on a clipboard.
“Jimmy, you’re not thinkin’ some Zerg followed us, are ya?” Tychus whispered, seeing the face of fear appear on his friend.
“I sure as hell hope not. We’ll all be in for a tough fight if they did.” Raynor muttered, recalling the situation they had escaped earlier that day. “We’re lucky Swann had the Bunker schematics loaded up, otherwise this place would be defenseless.”
“Hey now, partner. Remember you got me here now.” Tychus lifted his rifle and slung it on his shoulder.
“He, I sense a challenge, partner.” Jim laughed.
Suddenly the ground started to shake. The pony-marines looked to the forest and prepared for combat.
“Count your kills. Then, we’ll just see who’s the better gunslinger.”
6 ponies burst out of the forest. They were different colors; purple, orange, cyan, off-white, yellow and pink. Nopony took a shot; they knew that 6 ponies couldn’t cause a rumble this size. Without notice the orange one tripped and started to tumble uncontrollably. The purple one tried to turn around to help but suffered a similar fate. Just then dozens of mutant ponies burst through the forest’s scorched edge. The marines fired, everypony recognized the original version of what they used to be – Zerglings.
To clarify: Zerglings have also been turned into ponies... mutant ponies
PonyCraft-Pegasi of Liberty
The objects could be seen shortly after leaving Ponyville. Whatever the things were, they were massive, so large that they made the trees look like twigs. They had plowed right through the far edge of the Everfree Forest stopping before hitting the field on the other side. Twilight shuddered at the thought of somepony building it, but she really feared meeting them.
It took a few hours to reach, the monstrosity looming over them the whole time. It was a creepier mission then they expected. Even Pinkie Pie’s old song couldn’t make this go away; they just kept putting one hoof in front of the other trying to comfort their friends. Eventually they had to enter the forest. Nopony wanted to do it, but the smoke was simply too much for any of them to withstand. It billowed from the blackened trail the things created upon impact and more came from the forest which had caught fire (the pegasus ponies would soon ensure the fire would stay controlled).
The forest wasn’t much better as the trees and bushes held the smoke down. Even after Twilight cast a shield spell, smoke seemed to seep in simply because there was nowhere else for it to go. They began to hear yelling and shouting in the distance and the smoke started to thin out. They were voices in a language they understood and sounded a lot like other ponies.
“Oh yay! Aliens!” Pinkie Pie said happily, making everypony else more nervous.
Suddenly the ground started to shake, slightly at first but with each passing second it became stronger. Rainbow Dash took off out of the bubble and into the smoke above. She came straight back down in a hurry, the look of horror on her face.
“RUN!” She screamed and everypony took off in the direction they knew the objects lay.
Twilight turned around to see ponies… mutated ponies. They had a shell a deep mahogany in color and were brown everywhere else. They had horns that grew from their cheeks curved in towards their mouths which held jagged teeth. They had an extra pair of limbs growing up from somewhere on their body, but instead of hooves these limbs had sharp blades. Each and every mutant pony had the same cutie mark – an arrow that dithered at the end signifying speed.
“EEEK!” She squealed and ran faster. “Nopony turn around!”
As if the mutant ponies heard her, they let out the most horrifying sound anypony had heard, something only describable by saying “KEKEKE!”
No matter how fast they ran the mutant ponies were just too fast, the distance was quickly shrinking. They finally broke into the clearing at full speed, all of them getting tired but not enough to think about stopping. They just ran towards the object that lay in front of them not caring about the large number of metal-covered ponies that littered the area, pointing what Twilight knew were guns at them. Suddenly, Applejack tripped and started tumbling forward. As Twilight tried to turn around (the others continued to run), all the metal ponies started to shoot!
Hundreds of bullets flew by them, Twilight dropped before she saw where they were headed to. Whizzes and zips were a few of the sounds the pony heard before she blacked out.
Twilight stirred, not opening her eyes. She felt exhausted. She could barely remember what had happened, just that they were chased and Applejack had tripped. She hoped it was a dream; that she would wake up to a reasonable explanation. She opened her eyes. She lay on a patch of dead grass, a burning forest in the background, the sky turning dark violet as the sun set.
Rarity came into view, she opened her mouth as if to say something, but Twilight could hear nothing. Rarity opened her mouth again, still no noise. Twilight tried to respond, but she just couldn’t. Rarity looked concerned now, looking to be calling some other pony. At this point Twilight started hearing dull PANG noises, lots of them. Rainbow Dash came into view.
“Twilight, can you hear me?” Twilight made out what she said, but she still couldn’t reply. Instead she decided to blink once seeing if Rainbow would catch on.
Rainbow turned to Rarity, “What does blinking mean?”
Twilight’s hearing was getting better as the noises turned into sounds of low pitched gunfire, and she could hear Rarity. “Maybe it means yes? Twilight, blink again if you meant yes.”
She blinked again.
“We are going to assume you cannot speak, darling.” Rarity continued. “You have been hurt, not badly, but just don’t try to do anything to difficult. And in case you are wondering, Applejack will be fine.”
Twilight was glad to hear that Applejack was going to be fine, but she was concerned by what Rarity meant by ‘You have been hurt…’ Did she get shot? Did the mutants get her? She had to know, but it felt like her entire body was cement.
A pony in black metal armor with an odd star-shaped cutie mark entered her view, motioning to Rainbow and Rarity to move back. Like every other metal-clad pony, this pony’s visor was down hiding the face. Twilight’s vision fell forward as the ground fell away and started moving to the side; somepony had picked her up.
By now her hearing was back up to par, she heard yells, screams, gunfire and the sounds the mutant ponies made before. A loud shot rang from what sounded like not far away, then something made a dull thud as it hit the ground.
“Keep her moving, boys.” Somepony called out. “Fall back to the Bunkers!”
She was laid down again, gently. There was dirt beneath her this time, not grass, and there was the slight scent of smoke in the air. Built nearby was a large concrete dome-shaped building with a square base, some parts colored blue. There were more metal ponies inside firing through small slits at targets past her vision.
“Tychus, use grenades dammit!” The same pony yelled. A distant explosion followed soon after, followed by a temporary increase in gunfire.
A different looking pony carried Applejack next to Twilight. The earth pony was clad in white armor without a visor, not the usual black and blue with a golden visor. The cutie mark was 3 small red crosses aligned above each other in what could be related to a squiggly line. She shot Applejack with what looked like a green laser; it seemed to be helping Applejack if anything.
The black armored pony came back, visor up this time. He looked a little scruffy with a beard and mustache and he had a horn, signifying that he was a unicorn. He leaned over and looked at Twilight right in the eyes looking for something. Twilight could see much more in this pony’s eyes than anything he could say. To put it simply, he looked like a pony that has, quite literally, seen the stars. Twilight couldn’t tell whether or not she was blushing, she still couldn’t feel anything nor move.
He got back up and asked, in the same voice as she had heard earlier, “How’s she looking, doc?” He watched for a reply.
The ‘doc’ simply nodded keeping focus on Applejack.
“Might as well let her walk and talk then. She ain’t lookin’ as bad as earlier.”
The medic turned and shot Twilight who closed her eyes at the sight of the gun. She regained everything, from speech to movement to physical feeling (not just the tiredness of before). She was sore all over, muscles aching. She opened her eyes to see the black armored pony trying to get her attention with a waving hoof.
“Now, Twilight Sparkle. You’ve takin’ a beatin’. I suggest you keep low until things blow over, understand?” The pony stared her down.
Twilight nodded, but he didn’t seem to accept that. “Yes… I understand.” Her voice was raspy. She found it difficult to say anything more.
The pony got up, aimed his rifle to where everypony else was aiming, and fired a loud bullet, similar to the one she heard earlier, except that was followed by a loud
A rather large golden cylinder fell out of the machine and stuck right into the ground. On it were the letters H.E.V. She followed the trajectory of the gunshot with her head to see a line of dead mutant ponies. The field was covered in dead ponies, from the mutant ones to the blue and black fighters. The sight make Twilight feel sick.
“Don’t look over there look long, darling. It will make you sick.” Twilight turned some more to see Rarity about to hug her. “Glad to see you are feeling better.”
“Yeah, ‘cause you went down pretty hard back there with Applejack. Those meanies over there almost got you, but I saved you just at the last minute.” Rainbow Dash landed, holding a proud stance.
“Ahem. You mean Jim Raynor saved her. All you did was pick her up, dear.”
“Well, I still saved her.” Rainbow Dash rebuked, clearly trying to keep her profile looking good.
“Twilight, my dear, when you turned around to save Applejack, you – yourself - tripped except you hit a rock. You’re beautiful mane was ruffled, not helped by the fact that these other ponies started doing… whatever they are currently doing all around you.” She motioned to the ponies holding the guns. Only Twilight had read the books relating to any such machine. “You will definitely need a makeover when we get back to my boutique.”
“You were the lucky one, Twi’. Applejack was piled on by those ponies attacking us. They say she’s lucky to still be here, but I knew she wouldn’t give up on us that easily.”
Twilight tried to speak, “Where are the others?”
“They followed some pony named Tychus inside the High-pier-on a couple minutes ago.” Rainbow Dash pointed at the object that had crashed, in the distance she could see the silhouettes of a group of ponies going inside.
“You mean the Hyperion. Please do not abuse such a fine name, although it could definitely use a new look. It looks hideous, so dank… so much… GREY. It requires color!”
“Anything else I should know?” Twilight said, feeling out-of-the-loop.
“The ponies attacking us are evil, the ones protecting us are friends… yadda yadda yadda…” Rainbow Dash said with hardly any enthusiasm.
“Ok, thanks girls. I think I should rest now, I still don’t feel so well.” Twilight said, starting to feel light headed.
The other ponies backed off as Twilight lie down yet again and fell asleep once more. The sun had completely set along with her.
It was a strange assortment of events. First the 6 ponies burst from the forest, and then the Zerg followed after them. Raynor and Tychus nearly lost their lives to rescue the 2 ponies that fell, both unconscious when they saved them. He knew that he couldn’t let the ponies die like that, or worse.
Raynor fired another penetrator round, his 4th of the fight. The Zerg army was finally thinning out, a good thing too since the pony called Twilight Sparkle had woken up. She was still battered and bruised, but her friend was much worse off having being attacked by a few live Zerglings and then buried under a dozen dead ones.
“Tychus, they safe yet?” Raynor yelled into his speaker.
“Ya never could trust me, Jimmy. The Zerg didn’t know what hit’em… 23.” Came the reply.
“Heh, 26. Keep trying, partner.” Raynor knew he was referring to his kill count. He guessed most of his boys were around 8 kills each, some of the better with 15 or so. “Matt, you readin’?”
“Yes, sir. The power’s still out, I hope you aren’t going to persist with the automated defenses.”
“No time now, the Zerg are nearly beat. How are things looking in there?”
“Zerg never made it inside; your men do their job too well. As for physical state, most of the immediate threats are dealt with. I wouldn’t worry about that meltdown anymore.”
“Glad to hear it. Any information on the attack?”
There was a brief pause, “The attack looks too… sloppy for the swarm to be controlled. If I may suggest, I don’t think the Zerg have a controlling figure; no cerebrate, no Overmind, no Queen of Blades. They must have just felt us hit the ground and came with what they had, sir.”
“I think I liked the other news better. If that’s what they had on hand, I ain’t too keen on seein’ what time will give them. Any ideas on where they are findin’ resources to build their armies?”
“No. Nopony has seen any mineral cashes or vespene gas. They must have found alternatives.”
Raynor didn’t bother replying. He’d get the details after the Zerg were gone. That didn’t mean he hadn’t become concerned, not at all. If the Zerg had amassed this much of an army in such a short time with a limited amount of minerals, he wouldn’t need to worry about getting of this planet.
The sun was in the process of setting, the last of the Zerg had been killed. Crew members already started to pull out lighting equipment. As the sky turned from a deep violet to purple to black, the field was lit up with the bright white lights from aboard the ship. The ship’s port-side fog-lights turned on signifying power had been restored.
The 2 ponies – Rainbow Dash and Rarity – that had stayed with the injured ponies were slowly backing away from Twilight. Now that the Medics were free, they were able to take them into the ship to the sick bay.
“Your ship really needs a new look, sir.” Rarity exclaimed as he approached her. “Grey doesn’t highlight the ship as much as it could. I’ve been thinking a nice dark blue with gold highlights…”
Raynor ignored the pony. She had been after the ship’s look since she was calmed down. She wasn’t of interest right now. No, he wanted a word with the cyan and rainbow colored pony.
“Rainbow, can I have a word with you?” Raynor asked the pegasus. It seemed like she had a hard time not going out to fight.
“Oh, um sure? What about?”
“I ain’t one to judge, but you look like a fighter. You seemed pretty troubled not being able to help tonight.”
“Yeah, well… I do like a challenge, but truthfully, I don’t think I could take these… things on.”
“Heh, I know the feeling. Hundreds of the beasts swarmin’ you when you least expect it. I’ve gotten myself into some pretty narrow situations with them... How ‘bout I get you prepared to take them on?
“What? Me join you guys? I’m not sure…” Rainbow seemed unsure about the deal and all that came with it.
“Not join my crew; my boys can handle ‘em so long as we’re ready. No, I was thinkin’ about your friends. The Zerg ain’t native to this planet so I don’t think you’d stand a chance. You seem like the only pony with the guts to do what’s required to protect them.” Raynor smirked. He upholstered his unused gauss rifle and dropped it on the ground in front of her.
Rainbow Dash took a minute to think. Jim knew this planet was doomed without any proper support, and his men were limited to the ship for the time being. Offering this pony some training was for the benefit of the planet.
“When do we start?” She said before picking up the weapon in her mouth.
“At dawn. You’re welcome to stay aboard the ship tonight, just don’t expect any hotel service.” Jim Raynor walked away.
Jim wanted to figure out what was going on, but he figured that the pony to ask for answers was currently sleeping in the sick bay with her battered friend. “Intel may be half the battle, but without firepower, you ain’t goin’ nowhere.” He muttered to himself the quote he heard from his father a long time ago.
She crept back into consciousness. She quickly began to regain feelings and abilities throughout her body. As soon as she could, she searched her mind for answers to simple questions. 'What is my name? For what had happened, am I to blame?'
Despite being such simple questions - questions one would expect to remember - she couldn't make sense of anything that she retrieved. She opened her eyes to find visual reminders, but rather seeing an open field or a forest she was face to face with a wall... a fleshy wall that pulsed every so often. This wall surrounded her, trapping her in a oval prison. She panicked, shutting her eyes and wailing her hooves vigorously to vanquish the nightmare. It didn't succeed.
She quickly tired herself, drained of the little energy she had. She calmed herself, but rather than relax she became even more scared when she realized something else. 'The prison may be of flesh and blood, but the air feels like mud.'
Her suspicion was proven when bubbles rose from the bottom of the makeshift prison; she was in some liquid. Once more she searched for answers, yet none ever came. With nothing better to do, she tried to fall asleep once again. She figured when she awoke once more everything would be gone. This attempt was short-lived as she soon sensed another presence in her mind. It felt like a spirit, but was somehow different. It felt powerful; a dominating and wise essence. It was not so much a part of her mind as much as in-tune with it; something distant that mentally linked itself with her. She quickly realised that whatever it was, it was aware of her consciousness!
"Awaken my child, and embrace the glory that is now your right to uphold. Know that I was once the eternal will of the Swarm, and that you are tasked with carrying out my vision." The spirit said, or rather, thought. This presence was giving her his thoughts as if he was speaking. She couldn't put a name to the technique; her mind felt like it was a foggy mess.
"I am the Overmind, and you are my daughter who shall control this Lost Brood." Her past experiences with the spirits had never been like this. She could always speak and think freely. That and she was never trapped in a prison or similar. Normally she would have addressed the being, but she could only listen silently and not reply.
"You, my child, are required for my will has been undone. You have been chosen because you are much more able than the others. You will not fall to deviation as any other will.
"The future of your galaxy is dark. It shall fall under unimaginable destruction; all creatures will be consumed and every planet corrupt. This is the future I have foreseen. However, I have created a being to avoid it. This agent, my daughter Kerrigan, will never encounter you or your kind on its own; it is by an unforeseen mistake that the Swarm have made a presence here. Kerrigan, has been left unguarded in a world of instability. The plans I have laid out shall falter without a force to keep her controlled and focused. She shall be completely consumed by her lust for power."
This was no ordinary encounter with the spirits at all. The spirits she usually interacted with would never know of the future, nor would they ever think of trying to change it themselves. This Overmind, despite being parallel to a spirit, was from somewhere beyond her knowledge, from a place full of privilege and yet so dark as a grave. Regardless, the Overmind was quite clear - the future it foresaw would be dark and would jeopardize existence itself.
"The future will bring infinite corruption and destruction." She was given a memory - clearly not one of hers - to accompany the statement. The scene seemed to be a last stand of some sort: two species battled it out on a dead planet. One side was a small force of creatures infused with weird golden metals and shinning blue crystals. They were trapped inside a small fortress made of other weirder metals. More of these creatures soon appeared through holes in the air and on the ground. The other species (or collection of deviations) had covered the planet with a strange organic growth. There were hundreds of thousands of distorted creatures that followed a single leader who was surrounded in an intense blue aura. The shear numbers of these creatures were overwhelming the shrinking forces of the metal creatures, slowly winning the battle.
"The future will erase all species to one corrupt being." More memories were created. The first was on a planet covered in ash and black char. Very industrious looking buildings stood with unfitting tentacles growing both out of and through them. The strange growth covered the surrounding area, creeping outward to consume more of the structures. The next memory was in space where massive metal platforms were falling apart from a long time of neglect. Massive abandoned machines drifted past, some sprouting tentacles and lots of the growth. The last part of the trio looked to take place inside one of those industrious machines. A simple two-legged creature stood in front of a glass tube which held another creature - the creature with the blue aura from the very first memory, the one that led the mutant beings. At this distance, the creature with the aura held similarities between the first two species she had previously seen: long tentacle-like things and organic mass from the mutant creatures and rings of metal and the blue crystals that had been taken from the metal-infused species. Looking at either creature made her feel a little sick.
She didn't understand the importance of that creature with the blue aura, although she knew there was one. Her thought process, which was not giving her any trouble on this topic, went through dozens of possibilities: Is it important that it resembles the others? Are they all somehow brothers? The Overmind 'spoke' once more, smothering any further thoughts.
"I have done what I could, but I was alone in my visions. The other species saw only an imminent threat and had me destroyed." The Overmind gave her one final memory, this time on a growth-covered forest planet. In the middle of a huge crater lie a huge, closed eyeball. There were multiple large, dark-purple tentacles extending from the eye, dead (these seemed pure; not corrupt like the ones she saw earlier). The surroundings looked like a war zone; the industrious buildings made another appearance, yet, in addition to the tentacles they looked damaged and hastily repaired; there were also buildings built from the strange golden metal and bore blue crystals or held blue details for resemblance. Again, they were corrupted and heavily damaged from war. The collection of industrious buildings and the group of golden buildings surrounded the now-dead creature in a strategic fashion. She then realised that the dead creature was, in fact, the Overmind that was 'speaking' to her.
"My death matters not, for you shall take on my role here; the pieces to the puzzle are missing and must be replaced. This world contains secrets that will allow you to return to Kerrigan and restore the Swarm to it position, but you must focus on this planet first. The creatures here are threatened by the swarms presence and they will not listen. They will not hesitate to destroy you or the swarm, and you must not hesitate to destroy them. There is no reason, no discussion; they cannot and will not understand what you now know. If they are allowed to stop you, then everything shall be destroyed in the end.
"Your mind is free and capable; the threats of consuming will not overwhelm you as it has to other. You shall remain free willed to control the Swarm so long as you choose, my child.
"You are the one who controls this Swam. They exist to serve just as you are to serve my vision. Do not underestimate their power, but wield it against those who oppose you."
Brief glimpses of creatures crossed her mind. These creatures were not the corrupt ones from before, and they had been morphed into pony-like and snake-like figures. They varied in size, shape and kind; some flew, had hooves to walk or slithering tails extend from their behind; some were nearly as high as trees, while others seemed no larger than fillies.
"Your task will be carried out alone. I have borrowed time from one who once opposed me but shares my fate. Those of the Lost Brood are now your servants. They anxiously await your re-birth, my child."
Those were the last things to be 'spoken' to her as she was quickly overwhelmed by some unfamiliar force and soon blacked out.
This night was quiet and peaceful. The sky was slowly clouding over as if it was controlled, rain quickly following in its wake as if to douse the remaining fire that had burned much of the forest. Jim Raynor found himself on the Hyperion's bridge. That room was only temporarily fixed; the red emergency lights were still the only means of lighting; the missing window had been mended with a scrap metal plate; and the broken computers had simply been removed and discarded in the other piles of various rubble. They had been discussing for awhile; about what happened, the repair plans, ship defenses, and - most recently - the survival of the other ponies on the planet.
“The Zerg are a dangerous threat to this world. They will easily crush anything these ponies can put up against them.”
“And we’re dealin’ with that, Matt. Once we get enough resources we’ll target the Zerg. If our suspicions are right, they ain’t gunna expect a thing.”
“What if we don’t find the resources? We know this isn't Koprulu, we don't know if there are usable resources here. I'd like to know what you expect to do if we don't find these resources you are banking on. Surely you won't leave everypony to die."
“Listen closely, maybe you didn't hear me the first time: We hardly have enough minerals to fix the ship and just enough supplies to feed my crew to do so. There ain't nothing we can do if we don't find some minerals or vespene gas." Aggravation was making a bold presence in Raynor`s voice.
"Back on Mar Sara you wanted to get things back in motion. You knew we could hardly afford to even fuel this ship, yet you still wanted action. What has changed?" Matt was getting at something, Raynor knew it and didn't like it.
“You’re treddin’ thin ice, captain.” Came his cold reply. Raynor knew Matt was getting to something. He didn't know what, but he didn't like it all the same.
"We were always out for the people. We did what we had to for their sake. We found solutions to the dozens of problems we found ourselves in. When we needed cash, you would go out and fi-"
“We ain’t back home, Matt! There ain’t nopony here who knows us, and there definitely ain`t none willin’ to give up the cash nor materials we need. Unless somepony says otherwise, we're on our own.” Raynor snapped.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t help! Yes, we must fix this ship and fend off the Zerg, but I’m not sure you realise what you’re doing: You’re throwing hundreds of innocent ponies lives away! Arcturus Mengsk did the exact same thing on Tarsonis - the very reason why we are here today!”
Jim Raynor was only angered by the statement; his anger nearly getting the better of him. But Matt held a valid and prominent argument. He simply let his gaze stare aimlessly into the blank starmap he was leaning on. He reflected on what Matt said, how Arcturus Mengsk had abandoned an entire planet to the Zerg; how Mengsk had abandoned Kerrigan to the Zerg.
"You may not know it, sir, but right now, you're carrying the crew onward. If we sit here and do nothing, everything will fall apart. Without you as an active leader, they would all lose hope."
Raynor heard a series of clinks before a small black disk appeared in front of his eyes. He paused for a moment before he flipped it over - it was a Marshal`s badge; specifically Raynor`s own badge from years ago.
“When you figure yourself out, let us know...” Matt said right before the exit doors opened. “We`re waiting on ya.”
Raynor continued to stare at the badge in thought as the doors closed; and he had lots to think about.
Twilight woke up to somepony nudging her. She simply groaned and rolled over. She hadn't had much sleep that night and was not ready to wake up anytime soon. However, despite her attempts to shrug off the perpetrator, the nudging continued until she gave up and opened her eyes. The first thing her unfocused eyes saw was a white and purple blob trying to wake her up in haste.
"Twilight, dear, you must wake up right now. The captain is here to talk with you. Oh, and what a captain he is." Twilight quickly put a name to the voice: Rarity. "You simply cannot keep him waiting, it would be most unruly of you."
Twilight, despite still being half asleep, managed to wake up as much as she could before the door to the room opened and a navy blue pegasus entered. His mane was a slick golden color and a perched cardinal cutie mark in gold. Even in her sleepy state, the unicorn didn't have to think twice about calling him the captain. He entered and was promptly directed to the purple unicorns bed by Rarity.
"Good morning, Twilight Sparkle. I am Matthew Horner, captain of the Hyperion. I am sorry for disturbing you while you recover from your injuries, but this is urgent. Your friends have elected you to represent them during the next meeting, and that means you'll have to come to the bridge with me."
Twilight was not up to having a conversation now, let alone attending a meeting. However, she couldn't deny a personal invitation straight from the captain, nor could she back down from the position her friends appointed to her. In her mind she sighed and accepted the only option available.
"When is this meeting exactly?"
"As soon as possible, but don't be alarmed. The first few items on the agenda don't deal with you or your friends. I shall return shortly to escort you to the bridge."
"Is it alright if I join you? I mean, I would assist Twilight seeing as she still seems weak." Rarity pleaded with a face that nopony could say 'no' to.
"Only you. We don't need a huge gathering just yet." Matt said as he left the room.
As soon as he left the room Rarity perked up. "He's going to escort us! What a gentleman. And, oh, his character; so formal."
"Rarity, this is a meeting, not a social gathering."
"Yes, yes. I understand that, but what would one wear to such an occasion? I must have something that works."
"Oh, don't tell me you were prepared for a formal meeting when we were supposed to be going on a hiking trip." Twilight said with a disapproving face.
"On the contrary, darling. One must ALWAYS be prepared." Rarity spoke passionately, prompting Twilight to facehoof. A grumble came in response from elsewhere. Rarity instantly quietened her voice. "Whoops, don't want to disturb Applejack. Rainbow Dash says she came to during the night, freaking out about those things that got to her. It took awhile to calm her down again. You slept through the whole thing, surprisingly."
"Oh really? I mean, it's good news that she's awake again, but I hope her experience won't permanently affect her."
"I'm sure she'll be fine. She is the strongest of us."
"I'm sure you're right." Twilight hesitated in response. Being in a situation so close to death and with horrid beasts would surely leave a mental scar on a pony, even if it was Applejack. Twilight could only hope it wouldn't be a bad scar. "Would you mind helping me out like you said you would do?"
"Of course. I will assist in any way I can."
After a few minutes of Rarity attending to Twilight's bed-mane and other presentable shortcomings, the purple unicorn stepped out of the room with the white unicorn following close behind; the latter having no time to search for proper attire. Captain Horner patiently waited outside.
"Are you ready?" He questioned. The unicorns nodded in agreement. "If would would follow me then."
It was a fair distance to the bridge. Rarity helped Twilight when she required it; walking wasn't exactly the easiest thing anymore. The pegasus led them through the corridors, asking questions regarding Twilight's health and how they got here.
"We were sent by the princess to investigate what crashed here. We followed the edge of the Everfree Forest until the smoke forced us to take a shortcut through. It was then when the Zerg found us. I'm curious, however, exactly how did you build the Hyperion? I noticed that it is built to survive entering our atmosphere."
"Most battlecruisers are built from simple shipyards or starports. They are built to survive entering and exiting the atmosphere. The Hyperion, however, was a capital ship when we stole it and it was decorated to fit the role."
"So, there are more things like this? How do you do it?"
"They aren't cheap. If we had the resources, and the old schematics, we could build them from the Hyperion. They wouldn't be nearly as impressive as the Hyperion, but they would serve their duty."
Twilight glanced at a nearby hole in the structure that was letting in rain when the captain briefly paused. She was amazed at what lay inside the walls; masses of torn wiring, broken metal beams that seemed nearly as wide as her and many more metalic details with purposes unknown. Twilight was quickly brought back to reality when she heard talking from beyond a doorway that the captain had opened.
"We ain't got the new schematics, hotshot! Couldn't afford them. Don't count on the old schematics, neither. We lost more than a couple from AI malfunctions, and the rest may as well be tin cans with guns. Vehicles back then ain't known for their integrity." A hidden pony finished saying as Twilight entered the Bridge.
The room was large and covered in a dull red light. It was also an organized wreak; piles of garbage or general clutter dotted the corners and pieces of metal plates were haphazardly attached to walls Twilight suspected had been damaged. There was even evidence of a couple extinguished fires.
"Nice of you to join us, Matt. Swann, here, was just tellin' us how we lost all our old schematics." Jim Raynor greeted. He seemed much smaller to Twilight now that he wasn't wearing his armor. He was, however, still a beige unicorn with a brown mane but now with a black vest. His cutie mark was still the odd star-shape, except Twilight realised that many other structures and machines bore the same symbol in other locations.
"Sir, I should mention that if I could get unique samples for testing, I could probably enhance the things we do have." Another pony said.
"Why don't ya go step outside and grab a few bodies then, Stetmann? There's more than enough to share."
"That's the catch: they need to be unique sample, things I have not yet examined. If you find anything new for the Zerg, it will work."
"If it pays off in upgrades or enhancements, I'll see what I can find. I ain't gunna run around doin' errands for ya, though." Raynor then took notice of Rarity and Twilight as they moved out from behind Matt. "Before we move on, I guess an introduction is required. As you know, I'm Jim Raynor: Commander of this band of Raiders. This here is Rory Swann: Chief Engineer aboard this vessel."
Swann, a dirty orange unicorn, nodded as if to greet them. His mane was brown and his cutie mark was a wrench in a circle. One of his front hooves was metal and had a claw on the end, but Twilight decided not to bring up the topic less he be offended.
"And this is Egon Stetmann: the one and only scientist we've got on the Hyperion."
"You can always find me in my lab, once it gets fixed that is." Stetmann stated, eyeing Raynor who gave him a disapproving look in return. Stetmann was a bleached-orange unicorn with black hair combed up in a really odd fashion. He wore a white scientist's lab coat that extended almost the entire length of his body. His cutie mark, despite being partly covered, was a medical syringe - half-full of green liquid - tilted on an angle.
"Now, Stetmann, you said you had theories on why we are horses?" Raynor insisted.
"That would be ponies." Twilight automatically corrected, blushing after she realized that she said it. "Wait, you mean you weren't ponies before, Commander?" Twilight quickly decided to try and keep things formal and call them by their title. She had no idea on how the ranking system went, but she was not going to embarrass herself by calling them otherwise.
"No, actually, we weren't. However, once we had crashed we found ourselves as is. Strange sequence of events, really. One I think is caused by some natural law. I don't have any material to backup my theory, nor do I have the knowledge on the topic, but I think we may be under the effects of an equivalency table. I know it may sound off, but it's the only thing that fits." Stetmann explained.
"Ok, now slower and with words I can understand." Raynor requested on behalf of everypony.
"The basis of an equivalency table is to keep things the same from point A to point B, even if they are not the same shape. Technically, we are human by our definition everywhere, it's just our shape that changes from place to place. I don't know how or why, but I can say it happened while we were all unconscious."
"So back in Koprulu we're Human, but here on... whatever this place is - we are ponies?" Raynor summarised. Stetmann nodded in approval. "That's all I needed to know."
"It'd explain why all the suits and exoskeletons changed. Still sounds like horse apples to me." Swann stated.
"That's another thing. Our vocabulary has also changed, but just slightly, as I have experimented. Our instinctive vocabulary has become the equivalent of this place. So, judging by what Swann just said, 'horse apples' must be an expletive here. Not to say we can't say anything but, it's just that we'll just have to think about saying it. A simple example is that Raynor would refer to his crew as 'his colts' rather than 'his men'. I've still lots of research to do on the topic, so don't count me to the letter just yet, though."
Even Twilight found that she was having a difficult time keeping up with this pony. He quickly expanded on any point brought up and talked in a manner that a listener could easily tune out. On the bright side, she was starting to piece together their situation with the little new information she collected.
"Swann, what were you saying about the suits and exoskeletons have changed as well? What do ya mean?" Raynor said, brushing off the excess knowledge from Stetmann.
"As ya saw through Tychus and the marines earlier, our combat exoskeletons have changed to fit our new shape. Same thing goes with the other suits and clothing. But our machines are a different story; our hooves work with the guns an' all - not to say my sashes haven't helped holster them - but they just don't work with our human-shaped vehicles. Even if there were minerals here to harvest, our SCV's need to be fitted for our new needs. It'll be a hell of a job, hotshot."
"So you're the one who developed the sashes, Swann? It didn't take you long." The captain stated.
"It ain't the hardest job; I've done armor repairs more complex than those wimpy things. We need our hooves free to walk, but ya' can't walk and hold a gun anymore. The magnetic sashes clear that problem easily. They're dirt cheap too; gave a few hundred out already and still had enough left to arm an army. Hell, I even gave one to Raynor's rainbow-colored friend earlier, free of charge."
'Rainbow colored one?!' Twilight thought, knowing of only one rainbow colored pony in all of Equestria.
"Excuse me Mr. Swann, but do you mean you gave one to Rainbow Dash? Why would she need one?" Twilight asked.
"Same reason as everyone else: to help holster her rifle. Man, she's a born gunslinger if I ever saw one; grabbed a gun and found things even I didn't know about."
"But she doesn't have a gun."
"Oh, she does now. If I were the Zerg, I wouldn't mess with that mare."
Twilight was taken aback. 'Rainbow Dash wouldn't ever hold a gun, would she?' She thought. 'Why would Rainbow need a gun? Well, she is the most likely candidate, but for what? Surely she isn't thinking about joining these ponies; she is the element of Loyalty.' Her thoughts took a hold of her for a minute or so, and she missed discussions about the ship plans and ongoings outside. She snapped out of it when a pony yelled over to the group.
"Sir, small Zerg attack force incoming. Just alerting you, nothing to be concerned about."
"Excuse me, Captain, but could you tell me when my friends and I will be able to return home? As much as I enjoy it here, I'm sure we'd all like to get back home." Rarity spoke out as Matt nodded towards the pony.
Rather than Matt responding, however, Raynor replied. "We've got a dropship gettin' ready to do that; it;'ll be ready today... Swann."
"Sure thing. A couple engine adjustments and a seat replacement and it'll be ready for liftoff once again... Didn't think I would say that when I first saw it, though." Swann muttered as he left through a side door. Stetmann, who also took the hint, backed off to the side and busied himself with his clipboard.
"Walkin' back is no option or ya as we don't have the luxury of sending enough escorts to repel a Zerg ambush. Speakin' of resources, Matt, ya' been able to find any minerals?"
"No sir. No scans have detected mineral deposits or vespene geysers anywhere. However, long-distance scans have picked up some form of gemstones on this planet. The scans are not clear enough to give us locations, however."
"Gems, you say? I can certainly assist you with finding these gems if you require. I have a natural talent with detecting them." Rarity spoke once more.
"Stetmann, you'll go with them and examine the gems." Raynor ordered. "If we can use these gems as a mineral substitute we'll be able to make a strong stand against the Zerg. I don't doubt they'll attempt to infest the entire planet if they get the chance, even if there ain't the Queen of Blades to lead 'em."
"I'm sure that the princesses would be glad to help in your stand against the Zerg, Commander." Twilight mentioned. "They are the rulers of Equestria, and I'm sure they have made it top priority to diminish the threat the Zerg pose."
"Say what now? Princesses?"
"Yes, the princesses Celestia and Luna. They live in Canterlot, a city not far from Ponyville, our home."
"A planet ruled by princesses. Sounds a helluva lot better than Mengsk runnin' the show." Raynor muttered." I'll need to speak to these princesses as quickly as possible. The Zerg pose a greater threat than you think, and the more time they get is the bigger their forces can expand."
"I'm sure they would be glad to meet with somepony familiar with the situation. It won't be too hard to arrange even with such short notice; I am her prized pupil after all. But first: would you mind explaining where it is you come from, and exactly who you are?"
Twilight was eager to finally ask her questions. She decided to figure out what kind of environment these ponies came from; it didn't sound like a place so peaceful as the land of Equestria.
"This ain't the best time for explainin', but then again, we don't get many times like those. We're Raynor's Raiders; the rebellion against Arcturus Mengsk and his Terran Dominion. He rules too much of the place we're from and doesn't deserve any of it. To get to his throne he threw away innocent lives, even entire planets, to the Zerg. Back in the days before his rule, Mengsk and I worked together against the Confeds. Mengsk soon set up a plan to bring down the Confederacy. Kerrigan and I were in on the plan: to lure the Zerg to Tarsonis to cause chaos in their lines. Things were goin' smooth, even with the Protoss harassin' our efforts, but then the Zerg grew out of control as expected. But rather than evac the planet, Mengsk fled as quickly as he arrived. He left Kerrigan planet side when the Zerg overran it. I went down to save her, but it was too late.
"I kept up my search, and eventually I found her siding with the Zerg. Rather than kill her on Tarsonis, the Zerg infested her and made her one of their leaders. Mengsk gave the Zerg the deadliest weapon ever known to get him closer to power. A man with those priorities doesn't deserve to live, let alone rule.
"The Zerg were last seen four years ago at the end of the Great War, however. They came back right before we arrived, and accordin' to reports we received before we left, the Zerg came back everywhere. The Dominion was only helpin' the best dollar and left many planets to suffer. Kerrigan came back for somethin', and she's tearing through planets to find it. That's why we must return; not just to be home, but to be there to save the pon- people."
Twilight was slightly appalled by the information. Her views on rebellion were that they were pointless or they were just people's ways of showing that they were annoyed. But what Raynor brought up was something new. If what he was saying was true, that he witnessed this Arcturus Mengsk abandon an entire planet to the Zerg, than his argument was to fight corruption rather than exert his own power.
"Commander! There's a Zerg invasion force headed our way!" The console-pony announced. "It's much larger than the others! I'll pop it up on the starmap for you."
The group gathered around the table. What Twilight saw was a vague map of the surroundings; the Hyperion's crash site, the burned forest, the perimeter that the crew had no-doubt secured. The one thing that didn't add up was the mass of bright red dots starting to gather at the edges of the map and moved inward.
"Are those red dots Zerg?" Twilight asked.
"In one form or another. Matt, seems like they have a bone to pick with us." Raynor stated as more appeared, quickly surpassing the numbers from before. "Think we'll survive the hit?"
"Our casualty count would be high, no doubt about it, but it probably won't be fatal. Chances are most of them are Zerglings and Hydralisks." Matt said grimly as he examined the map. The dots kept getting closer to the Hyperion, and more dots came to fill up the gaps behind. Twilight started to panic slightly, there were so many dots she didn't know what to expect.
"Commander Raynor, if Princess Celestia or Luna saw how much power the Zerg held in person, I'm sure they would personally oversee efforts to assist your stand with numbers." Twilight mentioned. "If not, I can't guarantee anything anytime soon or even if you will get more than supplies."
"Sir, I'm certain that you and Tychus would boost moral on the battlefield if you fought this battle from the trenches. The moral boost could significantly decrease the casualty count." Matt explained, countering Twilight's suggestion.
"Commander, I'm detecting large numbers of Zerg fliers. You'd best leave as soon as you can, otherwise it would be too dangerous."
Raynor just stood in silence, debating the situation in his head.
If you actively support the Starcraft storyline to the letter, don't criticise the first section if it's not 100% lore-accurate. My knowledge on Zerg motives is limited at best, and 5 pages worth of wiki-notes hasn't cleared anything up for me in that aspect
A group of bodies piled into the muddy trench like ragdolls amongst the sounds of gunfire, explosions and screams. The situation was getting worse with each passing moment; the Zerg attack waves were getting out of hand. A battered marine climbed up and yanked a spine from his left fore-hoof with a grunt. Pain seared through his body, and even with the spine removed, it was too painful to put pressure on. Nearby, the ground exploded in fire and the last members of his team flew around lifelessly, their bodies crashing into the walls and splashing into rain puddles.
The marine glanced down the left side of the trench in panic. He saw another squad fighting off a monstrous pony that was an ultralisk in the distance, and a firebat burning some stray fiends nearby. Turning his head down the right side of the trench, he witnessed a bunch of marines give way to a pair of zerglings. The moment they saw the marine, they continued their run.
"Wouldn't be so heroic if I died peacefully now, would it?" He muttered himself before he sprinted for a fallen corpse's rifle. Armed with a rifle in his good hoof, the masculine pony got up on his back legs and fired at the advancing foes, sparks dancing around the creatures as they closed in. The armored pony glanced down to his ammunition counter to see it descend from 195 to 000 in a matter of moments. He gritted his teeth and surveyed the nearby scene. To his disappointment, there weren't any rifles near enough to attempt to grab. He glanced back to see death meters away and closing in fast.
Suddenly, a flare of light passed by the marines head, exploding a zergling upon impact. The second zergling, dazed by what had just happened, watched a second flare fly toward it. The marine slowly turned around from the gory fireworks to find the source of the projectiles.
"Learn from the best, colt: 'Don't miss.'" A bulky firecolt said. He turned around and trotted towards another pony who was nervously rocking back and forth while listening to rock music.
The marine decided to follow, trying to keep all pressure off his injured hoof. He noticed that there were no longer any marines fighting anywhere; he assumed they were all dead next to the visible lump of ultralisk that lie still in the dark distance.
"Where's the rest of your squad?" The marine yelled, muffled by the dozens of distant cries and explosions.
"You're lookin' at it. I assumed the same goes for you." The firecolt responded. He took a seat in the mud, looked at the smoking weapon he carried, and tossed it away uselessly. His visor lifted to let the rain wash over his scared, dirty face.
The sane marine didn't believe what he was seeing. They were in the middle of a war zone, another wave of Zerg imminent, and these two idiots were just going to wait for them to arrive?
"Where the hays the commander? I was told he'd be here on the front!" He called out in a vein attempt to motivate them.
Neither marine answered. Instead, the rocking marine paused and pointed his hoof back towards the distant Hyperion without even looking. The marine looked over to see the top of the battlecruiser showing above the trench wall. As if he had woken it up, the Hyperion's fog lights flickered on, lighting everything up to the charred forests edge. In the white lights, a silhouette of a dropship slipped by the flocks of Zerg flyers.
"Aw, Jimmy. You're goin' soft on me. This pretty pony business has gotten the better of ya, hasn't it?"
"What d'ya mean, Tychus." Raynor glared.
The [i]couple[/i] had been loading a dropship with supplies for the past few minutes with help from a selected squad of marines. A trip to visit a so-called "princess" still required some supplies, and with the crates dwindling, they were only waiting on the dubbed "Alfalfa team". The name didn't mix well with Raynor and especially not with Tychus, but, in addition to their lack of creativity, the purple pony with the horn insisted that it was ingenious, "the perfect fit."
"You're runnin' from a perfectly good fight to help a couple mares out. Sure, they're gals 'n all, but they just ain't the same." Tychus spat out a dead cigar onto the metal floor, a new one quick to take its place. "They're lil' cute ponies, Raynor. A gals thang." Raynor helped shove the last crate onto his back.
"It ain't up for discussion, Tychus." Raynor quickly retorted. "We've got business with their princess, and you better warm up to the idea."
"It's the blue one, ain't it. She's got some nice-"
"This has nothin' to do with them mares. The sooner we defeat the Zerg, the sooner we get to fixing my ship. We can try and fight on our own, but that'll cost a lot of good stallions.If you don't like the idea, stay behind."
Tychus wasn't about to quit on his ol' buddy, but he was starting to think Raynor was loosing his touch. "Rainbows, ponies, princesses and unicorns... This ain't no place for a man. If the Zerg weren't here, I'd prefer my cell."
Raynor had ignored to comment as he went to go search for the missing team. Tychus turned to enter the dropship. As small as it looked, it was huge. The Great War had brought along dropships that were able to carry not one, but two siege tanks if the need be. And that was before the engineer started tinkering with the design. However, the space was used for supplies and for seats, not for tanks.
He grabbed his assigned seat along with the rest of the marine squad. There were a total of 9 of them: a fair sized squad. Raynor had given them places to sit, of all things. He had a massive battlecruiser under his command, and yet he was starting up a daycare. More evidence Raynor was slipping.
The pilot started up the engines, signaling Alfalfa's return. As they gathered inside, Tychus overheard Swann and Raynor talking, "Y'know, hotshot, I don't always like to be left behind only to hear them adventure stories you always have." Swann said.
"Not this time. You and Stetmann are going to be a lot more useful back here than out there."
"Ahh, save it. I hear that a lot these days." Swann muttered.
Apparently, Raynor opted for an unconscious pony over a versatile engineer. Tychus hoped that, with any luck, she would be dumped somewhere.
The dropship began to take off as Raynor walked the ramp and took his seat, given vision of the entire space. Maybe his seating plan was a smarter idea, surrounding the defenseless little ponies with the toughest marines of his crew. As the dropship exited the hanger, Tychus could see the Hyperion's fog lights activate through the closing door.
Her head hurt, along with the rest of her body. Her mind was fuzzy still, and she questioned whether or not she was really conscious. The question was quickly answered as a high-pitched scream alerted her senses. Applejack was quick to fully awaken, adrenaline coursing through her veins: none of them beasts would catch her nappin'! Her eyes burst open, expecting to already be in trouble. She was half right. A dozen blurry figures were visible in the dim light, they had almost completely surrounded her already! But Applejack was not goin' anywhere without a good tussle!
She rose from her seat and dashed to one of the two open ends in the enemies lines, turning her flank to the wall. She might be able to stand a chance like this. The attackers were already advancing at her, although at a slow pace. They were speaking incomprehensible babble, clearly intended to distract her. Applejack wouldn't fall for such a weak plan! Turning a full 180 degrees in one movement, she bucked one of the beasts that had gotten a little too close. Her hooves slammed into its head. Despite sounding and feeling like metal, the creature didn't stand a chance against such strength and stumbled sideways, dazed none-the-less. Applejack took the opportunity to buck it a second time in the midsection. It crashed to the ground in a heap farther away as a pair of offenders tried to sneak up at her from the rear. They were slightly lighter and weaker than the other one, and a hoof to the side of the head sent one crashing into the other, both slamming into the wall before slumping to the ground.
Time was running out. The others had been able to close in to uncomfortable levels. There was no hope to defeat them all, and escaping was no option... unless-
In a desperate action, she dodged a figure that was about to grab her and headed right to a light source on the other side of the room: the exit to the cave!
"STOP HER!" Applejack deciphered one of the cries, originating from some female source.
She leaped at a beast right in front of her. She hoped to jump off it and shoot herself towards the exit, a sizable gap between her and the oppressing force. Fate had decided otherwise, and the moment she made contact her limbs crumpled and both the creature and herself crashed into the floor, Applejack skidding to a halt just outside the lights reach: So close. She could hear hoofsteps and muffled voices surround her. She vaguely recognized the voices, but it didn't matter, she'd been beat. All Applejack could do was curl up and whimper.
"Tell me she's down!" Raynor barked through the suit's radio.
"Yes, sir! She must have run out of adrenaline." A marine sounded through the speakers.
The pony laid only meters away from the cockpit door. A group of marines surrounded her ready to catch her if she made a break for it again.
"Could I get some assistance over here?" Tychus groaned as he struggled to his hooves. A fellow marine came over and quickly pulled him up. "Damn pony nearly smashed the visor!" He raged.
"You know it was a mare who did it, right?" Raynor questioned from afar..
"That was some demon that attacked, not some mare! Good thing the devil doesn't want me in hell."
Raynor walked over to the collapsed and whimpering beast of a pony, 3 marines holding rifles to her to ensure she didn't move, 2 others ready to catch her if she did.
The five friends were eager to check on their pal, but a pair of marines held them at bay as well, albeit some difficulty with Rainbow. Tychus never bothered to learn their names, instead, he found fitting names for them himself.
He looked around the less-than-cramped room to the other victims of the rampage. Aside from a few dents and recovering marines, everything was rather unscathed. It didn't last as a barrage of explosions rippled off the dropship's exterior.
"We've got company!" The pilot chimed in, "Hold on!"
The others quickly braced themselves, the marines still watching Little Bucker - as Tychus named her - as Rainbow quickly brought her to safety. Tychus, however, didn't get that chance and wasn't able to grab something; he was to far away from anything. He tumbled all over as the pilot maneuvered around enemy projectiles. Sharp turns, sudden drops and unpredictable decelerations were the tricks Tychus could point out. At some point between Tychus being magically frozen against a pile of crates near Starry Girl and the pilot saying "We're going down!", the Zerg flyers had made a nice collection of skylights and fires.
"I'm going to have to land her, sir. I think there's a clear spot just ahead." The pilot alerted.
"Do it and pop the hatch. It's about time we give this bird some firepower." Raynor responded.
The back door creaked open, licks of flame reaching out as the air was sucked outside. 3 mutalisks were hot on their tail, launching their lethal projectiles at the transport. A few unsecured crates and packages slid out the door, one comically hitting a pursuer. Just about everypony opened fire.
A loud shot rang out among the lesser rifle shots, punching a clean hole in the second mutalisk. Trying to recover, the creature targeted the now open door despite being overwhelmed by gunfire. Its last act was launching a projectile, which hit the rear wall and bounced, hitting the wall opposite of Tychus and then bounced again in his direction. He was still frozen against the damned crates, he couldn't move no matter how hard he tried! It was like there was a magical force holding his suit in stasis.
He braced for the inevitable impact, the projectile undoubtedly going to hit him. He couldn't even shut his visor, his head enjoying the inability to move as well. FWHOOM! An explosion of olive green gas erupted into the air as the projectile detonated. There was a hole behind Tychus, perfectly lined up with the space between his helmet and shoulder; calling it a close call was an understatement.
"Omygosh! I am so sorry! I has held you down while you were tumbling, but I guess I was too afraid to let go when that thing was bouncing around in here." Starry Girl quickly came over to say.
Tychus only turned his angry eyes at the mare.
"Oh, right." She said as she released whatever gypsy magic she was using, a slight blush of embarrassment showing on her face.
Tychus hit the floor hard on all hooves. Working his stiff muscles he snarled at Starry, "Ya know, I hoped to die fighting for my life, not trapped by a little scared pony." At which point he walked away as the dropship descended; the last Mutalisk killed while he was preoccupied.
The smoke from the village was difficult to see against the darkened sky, and nighttime was around the corner. The place that Alfalfa team called Ponyville was no match for any size of Zerg Swarm, plus its proximity to the forest, it was inevitable for the attack. Raynor stepped out onto the muddy street; a couple wooden houses had collapsed so that there was only one entrance to their landing zone. It was the optimum place to make a pit stop.
"Contact the Hyperion. Let Matt know our situation." Raynor ordered to whoever was within earshot.
Creep was lightly spread out in large clumps, enough to give the Zerg their home-field advantage. Jim Raynor hadn't had a pleasant stay in Zerg territory to date, and he didn't like the idea of being back. He muddled about with a patch of hay, realizing it was from one of the nearby houses. He was surprised the village lasted this long without any help. A group of marines rushed past, quickly building a barricade to defend the landing zone from the inevitable Zerg.
A few straggling ponies were gathered and put into a house; safe and out of the way. At one point Raynor spotted a grey pegasus chasing after a Zergling that had something like a muffin in it's mouth before she knocked it into a wall, crushed its head with her back hoof, took the muffin with a smile, and flew off into the high clouds oblivious to the danger the village was in. Maybe ponies could put up a fight.
"Oh, but please. You MUST let us find out the poor fate of our beloved home." Rarity begged to Tychus.
"What part of 'N' or 'O' don't ya understand? I ain't playing foalsitter." He barked. "And Raynor ain't gunna let ya run around neither."
"I need you six. No more, no less. That was the deal. Either way, the village is full of Zerg. The longer we stay here, the better the chance we get overrun." He responded.
Rarity was silent, standing on the edge of the rain's reach under the tail wing. Hopefully the others heard the conversation so he didn't have to say it again. He turned his attention to the village and it's situation. He had to give the Zerg credit, it is almost like they had a plan for attacking; half the buildings were still standing, creep littered all but the structure entrances, and the small attack forces that the marines were barring off could have been patrols.
"Hear that?" Tychus said.
"Hear what?" Raynor questioned, a dull roar sounded in the distance.
"Sounds like things 'r gunna get rough, Jimmy." Another roar sounded, but much closer, as if the creature was-
The side wall of a building right beyond the barricade exploded, smoke billowing out the new doorway. A ferocious looking lion walked through the smoke. It sounded a loud, vicious, roar as it rushed forward; nowhere near the speed of the Zerglings that gathered beside it, but still fast. It paused for a moment to open its mouth and vomit a glob of green liquid that began to eat the barrier upon impact. Raynor and Tychus rushed to help hold the barricade.
"What kind of creature is that?" Tychus tossed a grenade into the oncoming Zerglings.
"That's a manticore. Or, at least it used to be one. What happened to it?" Twilight spoke.
"Tychus!" The Zerglings were quickly swarming at the barricades.
He took the hint and grabbed two grenades in his hoof, somehow, and smiled as they flew past the metal walls, over and into the far edges of the swarm. Simultaneously, Raynor, visor now up, fired a penetration round into the manticore creature, punching through with a spray of acid; the Manticores body burst in small acidic explosion. The Zerglings either burned from the acid, exploded from the Raynor's round, or were peppered by the marine unit's wave of gunfire.
The grenades finally detonated, albeit far back. Tychus' smile never faded as he watched the two houses on the side of the entryway collapse, smashing into a debris barrier ontop of a second wave that was just rounding the corners. The new barricade wouldn't stop the Zerg, but it would slow down their rapid assaults.
Raynor turned to face the lavender open-jawed unicorn, his visor down. "So what did ya think so important to leave the ship and join me and Tychus up here at the front?"
"B-b-but the... the houses... ponies-" Tychus blew some cigarette smoke into her face as a cruel way of getting her back to normal. After a short coughing fit, she finally responded, "Well, I know you don't want to go out into the Ponyville because it's dangerous and the Zerg are crawling over it. But my library might have some information that can help us."
"Exactly what kind of information?" Raynor asked skeptically.
"Spells. Explosive spells, extinction spells, conjure spells... There's a variety across all forms. I might also have some information that can help wipe out the Zerg."
She was hiding something: surely she didn't expect him to want to go visit a library for books. That or she was crazier than Raynor thought.
"It isn't worth the effort. We need firepower. Tangible guns, soldiers and stuff like that."
A marine came running up to him from by the dropship. "Commander, we have contact with the Hyperion. Captain Horner would like a word. It's urgent."
Raynor nodded and rushed off to the small communications setup. He didn't notice the rounds being fired well overhead originating from a sky-blue and rainbow-colored mound atop the dropship.
"Jim Raynor, the Zerg waves are getting worse. We're losing a lot of men out here." Matt Horner spoke.
"We're holed up in an infested village, Matt. We got our own problems."
"A different attack? The Zerg swarm must be bigger than we thought."
"They also acquired some new assets. They have begun to infest the native species."
"That doesn't sound right for a rampant Zerg swarm. Raynor, I picked up a large power level in your area. I thought it was Zerg, but maybe-"
"Kerrigan?" He paused for a moment, if she had made the trip to Equestria then everypony was doomed. "They're looking for something, Matt. The evidence is clear: they had left the town intact so she could search it."
"But what would she be after?"
"My library!"Twilight burst out; Raynor hadn't even noticed her walk up beside him. "She'll probably be looking for information on Equestria."
"Ms. Sparkle is right. She won't have any knowledge on this planet. She'd go for the closest and easiest source. You'll have to destroy it before she can get to it." Matt informed.
"Got it. What about you colts? Are you goin' to be able to hold the line?"
"We'll do what we can, but if Kerrigan learns any kind of secret, we'll be facing an even worse situation."
Raynor's ears perked up as somepony behind him screamed, "WOLVES!"
"Good luck Matt." He shut the communicator down as he did a full spin to face the barricade.
A dozen mutated and infested wolves had hopped the barriers and were tearing the marines apart. Tychus, who had been beside Raynor, was gunning down as many as he could, but they had an armored shell over their bodies. Raynor quickly switched his commando rifle for a standard gauss rifle lying on a nearby crate.
"He didn't mean destroy destroy, did he?" Twilight questioned Jim.
"Those books hold information that will aid Kerrigan in taking over the planet." He shot the last of the round into a dying wolf. "We cannot let her find it."
"Tychus, we're heading out." He interrupted Twilight.
"We got ten minutes before the dropship is repaired. Assuming the marines can hold the barricade." He explained while having a chaingun mounted onto this armour. "Think we got time?"
"Our time may have already run out as far as I'm concerned." Although Jim Raynor wasn't convinced that the Queen of Blades would act so predictably, he wouldn't take the chance: the library had to be destroyed.
"Seems calm enough to go over the top. Ready for some action?" Tychus wiggled in his armour, making sure the gun didn't fall.
The streets were still mud, the rain, however, slowed to a light drizzle. The alleyways and streets were lit by the fires untouched by rain. Dead bodies of just about anything were spread out. Although the village had been left intact, that simply meant some buildings were left standing. The walk through the graveyard-like streets wasn't helped by the pure black of nightfall nor the lengthy walk that felt like hours, despite being a couple minutes. To Raynor's dismay, he couldn't pull anypony from the barricades defense; they were spread thin as it was.
"What a mess. Like walking through a graveyard." Tychus whispered.
"Treat it like one, then. A lot of innocent ponies lay here from the slaughter." Raynor heard something and instantly put a fist up to halt the trio.
There was a growl.
And another. Two more. Four.
A dozen low growls sounded from the black shadows, like a predator stalking its prey. A sudden bark sounded and the streets filled with the wolves, Raynor got to experience their full potential. Tychus spun a 180 and unleashed his chaingun at the pack coming from behind while Raynor peppered the wolves up front. Their armour defended them against Raynor's firepower, but Tychus was keeping his side at bay. A wolf leaped at Raynor's head, jaws wide, teeth sharp and mouth full of saliva. He dropped his rifle and blocked the attacker, having it bite down with incredible force on this front leg; puffs of steam spewed out of the hydraulics of the suit as soon as it bit down. As the momentum of the wolf carried on, Raynor rammed his hoof into the ground, smashing the skull of the beast on a rock in the ground along with the majority of it's bones. Quickly glancing back, he noticed another wolf make a vicious leap, except it was met with a fist to the side of the face. Falling to the ground, a short burst of bullets went through it's eye. They were weak creatures, their shells being the tough nut to crack. Raynor could no longer hear any growls or chaingun fire. A second look down the street uncovered 4 wolf bodies bashed and bruised with some dug into the sides of buildings. Twilight pushed forward as if nothing happened.
Apparently, the library was a tree just beyond the battlefield Raynor and Tychus pushed through. Twilight tried to rush at it, but Tychus blocked her path.
"Doors open." He whispered to her, "Someponies home."
She wasn't convinced of danger, and still tried to push past, but was still blocked by the unmoving wall that was Tychus. Meanwhile, Raynor had approached the partly opened door, pushed against the wall. Taking a peek, he eyed a source of light inside amongst a pile of books. He jumped off the wall and was about to buck the door down when it flew off and hit him first. He was thrown back a little ways, but quickly recovered to see a familiar figure infront of him. Pony shaped, featuring short, partly developed bone-like wings, a grey coat with dark grey stripes, a bone mane and tail, and a sleek shell that glistened in the light from behind her, she was no doubt the Zerg Queen. She was about the same height as Raynor in his suit, although hovering off the ground in an olive-green glow. Her voice echoed as much as it rhymed.
"Well, well. It seems you have discovered the clue. I knew I should have come to kill you."