Chapter Ten: The Rescue
The Battle of Valhalla V was a Dominion victory, in the sense that when the dust settled only we and our allies were left alive on the planet. However, it felt distinctly hollow. Millions upon millions of zerg were killed, but at the cost of thousands upon thousands of terrans and we probably regretted the loss more. Schezar was beaten, but the core of his force was still intact. Most of what we destroyed were mercenaries.
And while we were occupied there the Squadrons were able to shore up their defenses. By the time it was done our forces were run ragged and Schezar was probably laughing to himself.
Personally, I think it might have been better if it had never happened at all.
-Liberty's Reports, Volume III
Schezar was looking over reports on the Soldier III when Sanchez appeared on the screen. He'd been kept on the surface to oversee the last of the evacuation. The man looked worried and Schezar knew at once that something had gone very wrong.
'Schezar, we've got a problem.' said Sanchez.
'What is it?' asked Schezar.
'Malcolm is surrounded.' said Sanchez 'The Dominion have him under siege. The defenses are keeping them back for now, but it's only a matter of time before they bring in battlecruisers. He'll be ready to leave soon, but if he tries he'll be shot down.'
'Don't panic.' said Schezar 'We have battlecruisers of our own. Ensign Thompson prepare to descend to the planet with the rest of the fleet. We're going to launch an assault on the Dominion position. We clear a path for Malcolm's evacuation then get out of there. Open a channel to Isabella.'
Isabella appeared onscreen. 'Schezar, how are things going?'
'Isabella, is the crystal secure?' asked Schezar.
'Roger that Schezar.' said Isabella 'However we're still trying to get it to work.'
'We'll figure that out later.' said Schezar 'Our priority is keeping our forces intact. Now we just need to hope that Serena is having an off day.'
Serena hated being right.
Before her was a hole in the floor which led down to a tunnel. Climbing down the ladder into it, she found herself in the midst of a tunnel large enough to house an ultralisk. Tychus looked around him oddly.
'Well ain't that something.' he murmured, smoking.
'It's just like I thought.' said Serena 'He has tunnels all over the region. That's how he has been moving his forces around so easily. Let's get out of here, we're not sure if this location is secure.'
'How could he have dug all this out?' asked Tychus as they scaled up. 'It woulda took a hell of a lot of SCV's if ya ask me.'
'My guess, he used the zerg to create the tunnels.' said Serena 'It's what I would-AH!'
She nearly fell off the ladder as she felt Mojo inside her mind. Struggling to keep climbing she felt him there. Suddenly she realized he could have destroyed her easily with a thought.
'Thank you for coming to my aid, Commander.' said Mojo 'I realize you did so at great risk to your own career. Schezar has trapped me in a stasis cell along with Danimoth and Warbringer. Only my telepathic powers allow me to communicate with you. Even now, Schezar is plotting how to control more cerebrates.
Free me and my companions, then together we will go to his stronghold on Aiur and deal with him.'
'Stronghold on Aiur, what are you talking about?' asked Serena as she got back on top.
'Much has happened.' said Mojo 'He has used the zerg invasion of my world as a cover to steal away our territory.'
'Right, great, okay.' said Serena 'Tell me when you're free.' She walked through the halls and found her chief lieutenant. 'Emily, have you found the prisoners?'
'Yes ma'am.' said Emily 'We're letting them free now. No signs of malnutrition or anything. What do protoss eat anyway?'
'We do not eat as you do.' said Mojo 'Rather we consume the energies from psionic crystals. It is an infinitely more efficient process than mere digestion.'
'Cute.' said Serena 'Take me to them.'
They found in several rooms a large number of protoss who were re-equipping themselves with various weapons. Emily motioned. 'These are their commanders. There were a whole bunch of others we're freeing now.'
'En Taro Adun, human.' said the leader, a particularly massive zealot. 'You have our gratitude.'
'I have no idea what that means.' said Serena.
'En Taro Adun? It is a greeting of sorts.' said the leader 'Adun was our greatest hero.'
'Ah, of course.' said Serena 'Is there anything you need?'
'No, our captor was quite careful to ensure we remained healthy.' said the leader 'And we have located our weapons with the help of your subordinate.'
'Good, Emily begin a search for their equipment.' said Serena 'Let me get in contact with Mengsk.' She opened a channel on her communicator. 'Arcturus, this is Serena.'
'I see you've managed to both rescue the protoss and secure the cerebrate.' said Arcturus 'Good work. Battlecruisers are en route now to finish the job.'
'Thanks, listen it turns out that the protoss leaders are being kept in different cells.' said Serena 'I'd like to request permission to launch a rescue operation.'
'Permission denied.' said Arcturus firmly. 'Valhalla V has become a meatgrinder. Give the protoss any help they need, but we are not risking anymore of our forces. Kill the cerebrate and get out of there.'
'I understand sir. Can I delay killing the cerebrate though?' said Serena 'Just long enough for the protoss to try and rescue their leaders?'
Arcturus remained silent for a long moment. '…I'm indulging you far too much. Very well.'
'Thanks, Serena out.' She cut the channel and looked to the protoss warrior. 'Listen, what is your name?'
'I am Cyrus a zealot leader.' said the protoss 'In absence of other commanders I now command our forces. Though I fear I may make a mess of things.'
'Fear not, young Cyrus.' said Mojo 'I will guide you.'
'Right, listen Cyrus.' said Serena 'We've suffered horrific casualties in the battle so far, and my Emperor is planning to pull out soon. Can you rescue your leader on your own?'
'We will, or we will die in the attempt.' said Cyrus.
'Great, I'll try to hold off on killing the cerebrate until you can free your brethren.' said Serena 'But make it quick.'
'Very well.' said Cyrus 'We shall do so.'
'Great,' said Serena, opening a channel. 'Kazansky, the protoss are about to begin operations. I want you and Megellan to shadow the protoss and help them. Also, round up some dropships to transport them to the location where their leaders are being held. Do you think we can spare any?'
'Yes, ma'am.' said Kazansky 'Casualties have been high so we have no shortage of empty dropships.'
Ouch. 'Right, well I see why Arcturus wants to pull out.'
Now they had a chance if only a distant one. Within the empty void of his stasis cell, Mojo guided the dropships to him as best he could. It took a great deal of effort to maintain his connection to them, but he had little else to concern himself with.
'Cyrus,' said Mojo 'those we are facing here are not Schezar's best troops. They are Kel'morian Mercenaries who he has paid to stay in his service. It is his hope to weaken the Dominion through them.'
'We shall fall upon them like the oceans against a coastal village!' cried Cyrus 'Let us destroy these Kel'morian filth!'
'Careful,' said Mojo 'you lack the strength to confront them all at once. The Kel'morians to the south of your position are weakest. Your forces may crush them and more of our brethren are imprisoned there. Once you've freed them you will be able to move against the other Kel'morians.'
He sensed Cyrus and his forces unloading off the dropships. From there he sensed them coming closer as they approached the first of the Kel'morian bases. Siege tanks had been set up to defend them and bunkers with them and together they opened fire en masse. Yet the front ranks of the zealots were unharmed.
Sensing closer Mojo realized that the terran science vessel had cast a defensive matrix over them. Clever, and it did its work well. Soon the zealots had overrun the position and cut the tanks to pieces. Their blades were now set against the bunker, while dragoons came from behind and opened fire. An archon burned its way through a bunker and killed those within.
After that, there was nothing to stop them! On came the protoss, tearing through everything in sight. The Kel'morians fled before them, but only a few escaped the onslaught.
As the base went up in flames, Mojo cautioned his warriors. 'Quickly, seek out our brethren and free them! We will need all their help if we are to gain victory this day!'
A few minutes passed as the assault continued. Finally, Cyrus spoke up. 'The Danimoth is secured. The crew appears to be in good health. We have also reactivated a number of probes.'
'Excellent,' said Mojo 'zealots head east and destroy the Kel'morian outpost you find there. Dragoons remain behind and guard our brethren while they rearm.'
Both went about their tasks quickly and hope was restored. Before long Cyrus and his zealots fell upon the Kel'morian outpost. For a few bitter moments the two forces engaged in vicious combat with each other. A row of zealots had their shields destroyed by a tank and were gunned down by entrenched marines. Dragoons fired their shots and burned the tank to slag while the zealots got into the trenches and began killing the marines. For a few moments the guards rallied and kept the protoss at bay. Then they were overwhelmed and Cyrus and his warriors began to tear through the structures, killing all they found within.
A relief force arrived at the sight of the Kel'morian base too late and found itself assaulted by photon blasts. Yet the terrans could not see the dragoons, for Danimoth had raised a cloak over them and many of their enemies were consumed in mere moments. Yet then a wave of psionic energy washed over the battlefield, revealing the protoss and the terrans opened fire. For several more moments there was vicious fighting between the two.
Then at last the terrans were repulsed. The terrans were taking a defensive stance now, Mojo could sense it.
'Now Cyrus,' said Mojo 'take your warriors into the northeastern lowlands and lay waste to all you find there. Let none stand before us.'
Cyrus obeyed. He and his warriors launched an all-out assault to the north. The Kel'morians held firm in a vicious struggle for a few moments before finally their outer defenses caved beneath their onslaught. Yet they rallied again and continued to fight. Hours of combat passed and Mojo sensed many of his warriors die in the ensuing conflict. The terrans suffered far worse. For ever protoss that died ten terrans fell. Yet Mojo suspected the terrans would lament their loss far less. It took a century for protoss to grow to full maturity, yet the terrans grew up in twenty years.
To think he had argued against the Conclave's strategy. To sit on high and purge both zerg and terran had seemed cowardly to him. Yet now he saw that the tactic would ensure maximum casualties on both zerg and terran while minimizing the protoss losses. It had been a wise, if ruthless, decision. He would not question the Conclave again.
Relief forces arrived from the other base. Yet Cyrus turned around and met them in vicious combat. These two were crushed beneath the power of the protoss. In the end the base was razed to the ground and Mojo sensed his warriors drawing near while the remaining Kel'morians fled.
The stasis cell shattered around him and Mojo emerged from the green liquid to breath the free air. He stretched his arms and legs as he walked down the steps to look on the world with his own eyes once more. He saw Cyrus and felt mirth bubbling up in him. 'Thank you for freeing me Cyrus. We owe the Commander a debt of gratitude.'
'Then we shall repay it in time.' said Cyrus 'For now what is our next move?'
'I will locate my scout ship.' said Mojo 'From there we shall launch an all-out assault against the remaining Kel'morian base and-'
'Praetor Mojo,' said a zealot 'we are receiving a transmission from the last terran base.'
'Transmit it to my mind.' said Mojo.
'This is Captain Gabel Isov of the Kel'morian Combine. I'd like to offer my formal surrender and that of my men. It is my desire that we be allowed to live.'
'Your surrender is late in coming.' said Mojo 'Yet we are not without mercy. Release to me my comrades unharmed with all their effects and we will give you into the hands of our terran allies for judgment. Fail to do so and not one of you will be left alive at days end.'
'You're not exactly giving us much choice here.' said Gabel 'Alright, we're releasing your boys now. Just don't kill us.'
Cyrus and his warriors went at once to the terran base and the surrender went quietly. The terrans were terrified of Mojo and his forces, and he did not blame them. No contact had been made with their other forces and a mass evacuation was in progress. Schezar was sacrificing them to distract Mojo and his men.
'Praetor,' said Cyrus 'we have found the Warbringer. It seems to be intact.'
'Well done.' said Mojo 'I will make contact with our terran allies and give the prisoners into their custody. Then we will plan our move against Schezar. With the Cerebrate secured-'
Elsewhere on the bridge of the Medea, Serena was not pleased.
'Ma'am,' said Morgan 'the Cerebrate escaped.'
'How?' asked Serena 'I thought it was surrounded?'
'The Soldier III descended and broke our siege.' said Morgan 'Our outlying forces were distracted by a zerg assault. They killed most of the besieging force and evacuated. I'm sorry.'
'Damn it.' said Serena 'Alright, patch me through to the Emperor. He'll want to know about this and also talk with the freed protoss.'
Just when Serena thought things were cooling down they heated up all over again.
So yeah I actually seriously considered cutting The Rescue entirely. Almost nothing happens within the mission. You could have just as easily had Mojo do an info dump later. Either way, though I'm kind of sick of writing this fic and I really want to get to the Protoss Campaign.
See most of what I wanted to do in this fic was establish the status of the terran sector in the aftermath of the Battle of Tarsonis. That was accomplished early in this fic and now I'm stuck with trying to write a bunch of destroy all enemy bases missions in an interesting way.
I altered the action scenes so the Kel'morians put up a better fight. Also added a bit of character development for Mojo.